Monday, October 20, 2014

Weekending

This weekend was a good one. A fun one. One I won't be forgetting anytime soon. We're trying to squeeze in every last moment of outdoor fall fun that we possibly can. Friday involved a few errands and two separate park trips. It was absolutely gorgeous in the morning. We visited the bunnies and picked up dog food at Rural King, exciting stuff, I know, and then headed to park #1. The kids swung, slid, climbed, picked flowers, and found a few caterpillar friends.


After a rather successful nap time, we headed out to park #2. By this time it was cold, windy, overcast, and we definitely needed jackets. We still managed to squeeze in a little more fun before Rob and I headed out for the evening.


We had been looking forward to Friday night for months. We are huge Ben Folds fans.The man is insanely talented, and really funny. He is currently doing as symphony orchestra tour, and The FW Phil is one of the orchestras he chose to perform with. We rarely get good tours that stop in Fort Wayne, so we were hugely excited for this.


The concert was great, and I definitely recommend seeing a concert at The Embassy Theater. There isn't a bad seat in the house. After the concert we went to The Phoenix for cocktails and then closed out the night with a little food truck action. The weather was complete crap by the end of the night, but standing in the cold rain for Bravas was totally worth it.


After a few martinis the night before, it's no surprise I had a migraine Saturday morning. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse saved me. I was able to lay in bed while the good drugs kicked in, and the kids were happily entertained with fruit, cereal, and Mickey.

Once I was feeling a bit better, we headed out for a play date and Chipotle with our besties. I failed to get any pictures, probably because the kids didn't stop moving the entire time we were out. Saturday evening we went to Meijer to grab groceries and so the kids could ride Sandy. I'm sure I've said this before, but that horse is the only reason we get through some grocery trips. The promise of the penny horse keeps them in line 99% of the time.

Crazy hair!


Sunday was of course Daddy Day. We went to Hilger's for hay rides in the morning, where we all got way muddier than expected. We did the corn maze, drank cider, dodged bees, petted kitties, pushed around plastic cars, and of course went for a hay ride. A great time was had by all, except for Brooke's pink boots. I'm pretty sure they died yesterday morning. Suede and mud don't exactly mix.




Sunday evening was of course dedicated to TWD. Our friends came over and we feasted on chicken ranch enchiladas and a delicious dessert Andrea brought along. Brooke said she doesn't like enchiladas, even though I have photographic evidence that says otherwise. She instead ate 3 bananas for dinner. I won't detail the disaster that followed after dinner, but with three tired toddlers I'm sure you can imagine how the rest of the night went.

Coffee at 8 pm last night made for a night of terrible sleep, but thankfully the dogs are being nice to me this morning and I have a large cup of hot coffee to power my morning. Happy Monday!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Flying with Twin Toddlers

It's been almost two months since our trip to Seattle. It was our first flight, and major trip with the kids, and we definitely learned a lot. Some things we tried worked really well, and some others we will do differently next time. I definitely scoured the internet for tips and info which proved to be a huge help.

We flew from Midway to Sea/Tac. When picking flights we knew we wanted non-stop flights both ways. We could have flown out of Fort Wayne, but we would have had layovers each way, and one of our flights would have been a red eye. We opted for the three hour drive to the airport instead of the overnight flight. Both of our flights left early in the afternoon which fell right during nap time. The kids thankfully took a cat nap on the drive to airport both ways, because there was definitely almost no sleep on the planes. It's amazing what a difference a 20 minute nap can do.


Getting through security at Midway was easy. They have a wheelchair and stroller lane, so we didn't have to feel rushed because the people behind us had kids too. Sea/Tac did away with their family lane a couple years ago, so getting through security there was not quite as easy, but we still did it without too much of a struggle. If possible make sure to print your boarding passes ahead of time. We were able to print them ahead for our flight to Seattle, but not for the return trip. we definitely save 20-30 minutes of standing in line by having boarding passes pre-printed.

We flew Southwest, which means we got to pick out seats. We didn't do priority boarding, because Southwest lets families with small children load after A group. We didn't have any troubles getting seats together on either flight. Instead of taking up seats on both sides of the aisle, we picked window seats in front/behind each other. It worked really well to be able to pass things back and forth if needed.


The kids each had a backpack with their toys and tablets. We made sure their Kindles had multiple games on them, Frozen, and an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. We purchased these headphones for the trip, and we were very happy with the sound on them. They also had Wonder Wow cards, an Elmo Dry Erase book, and a Color Blast book for coloring. We also made sure Rosie and Thomas were in their bags.

In my carry on I packed their blankets and a back of snacks for each. I went pretty heavy on the snacks, but I am someone who would rather be over prepared. They each had 3 pouches, two Happy Tot granola bars, 2 Mighty 4 Kids bars, 2 Cliff Twists, and a bag of goldfish. The pouches were great during take off to help with the pressure. We also made sure to bring empty sippy cups, and we filled those as soon as we made it through security.

So much stuff!

After debating for weeks on how to handle the car seat and stroller issue, we decided to take our Britax B-Agile Double and gate check it. Our stroller is easily collapsible, and we didn't have any issues bring a larger side by side. I can't imagine not having it with us. With as much walking and hills as we had on our trip, an umbrella stroller wouldn't have worked well. We bought stroller hooks for the stroller and they were a huge help. I was able to hang my carry on and purse on there, and they were also helpful when getting groceries in the city.

We also decided to bring our Diono Radians, and not check them. The kids sat in their car seats on the plane, which I think helped make them more comfortable and not as interested in moving around. These were the one thing we knew we absolutely had to have, and we didn't want them to get damaged. We bought a folding luggage cart to lug them through the airport. Yes they were a pain in the ass, but I would do it the same way again. I think it's also worth mentioning that we forward faced them while in Seattle due to size constraints, and then switched back to rear facing once we got home. They had absolutely no issue switching back and forth.


The kids didn't sleep at all on the way there, and only slept for a short amount of time on the way home. Even with the lack of sleep, they did really well on the 4 hour flights. The only times they had any issues was during the descent. Harry was so upset he wouldn't listen when we told him to take a drink or have a sip of his pouch. Brooke did take drinks when we asked her too, and that helped a lot with the pressure.

One thing we brought along that I wish we wouldn't have brought the Pack and Plays. They are so large and bulky, and there's no good way to carry them. Thankfully we won't need them the next time we fly. If I had to do it over again, I would spend the money and rent pack and plays for a week instead of bringing them with. There are rental services in almost every large city.

By the end of the trip, our Kindles were a saving grace.

I think the biggest thing we will do differently is the duration of our trip.  We were originally going to go for 7 days and then changed to 11 days. It was too much for the kids. By the last few days, they were a mess. Too many days with not enough sleep had worn on them. I think a week would have been perfect. I also think next time we travel they will have their own space. We all shared a room which was ok, but I think they would have slept better if they had their own space. I foresee a hotel suite with doors when we head to Denver next summer.

The view from our bed to theirs. Definitely right on top of each other.

While we were in the city we took the bus quite a bit. There are a lot of really great smart phone apps that can help you master public transit schedules. We used One Bus Away and MoovIt. It was definitely easier, and cheaper, than driving and paying for parking. We didn't rent a car, and we definitely didn't need one. We did take a limo to and from the airport. It cost us about the same as a cab, and we had help loading/unloading. We even had driveway pick up. I definitely recommend looking into a town car/limo service for getting to and from the airport.

Overall I feel like our trip couldn't have gone much better. Traveling with kids is no joke, and it requires so much planning. I hope what we learned can help others with planning trips with littles. I think we can successfully tackle another trip with H and B, and I'm glad we don't have to for another 10 months.
















Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Premiere Party

The Walking Dead is back, and we couldn't be happier in this house. It feels like forever since we saw Rick bite through a man's throat and then disembowel his friend. It was a long off season and we're so glad it's over. The season premiere did not disappoint. It was intense, hilarious, and touching. And seriously, Carol! Wow. I am not going to spoil anything, but if you saw the episode, you know what I mean.



We of course had a party to celebrate our favorite showing coming back on the air. We do TWD viewing parties at our house every week, but this is the only one we go all out for. Our Sunday nights for the next 7 weeks will entail drinks, dessert, and probably a taco bar or two. Then we'll be forced to go without our beloved show again once the mid season finale airs. Anyway, back to the party.


For decor we did bloody decals for the floors and walls in the entry way. The bathroom also had some minor blood splattering. Our living room got a Terminus candle room makeover complete with writing on the walls, with sidewalk chalk, and flame less candles.


Outside we put up some zombie caution tape, and splattered the house with blood. I used washable tempra paint and mixed a little blue in with my red to give it a good blood color. The kids and I splattered the house with fake blood on Saturday, and it all washed off with a hose on Monday. We made sure not to get any on the wood trim, just on the siding.


For our front door, I made a Terminus sign. $4 at Kinkos for the map, a couple pieces of poster board, and a nap time dedicated to lettering the top half of the sign. The people at Kinkos asked if they could come to our party. I told them to come over, but they never showed.The fact that I didn't give them an address might have something to do with that.


Menu

Mary's Meaty Surprise
Grilled Sausage, extra crispy
Bone Bites
White cheddar Cheetos
Post Apocalypse Pizza
Crescent roll crust, cream cheese ranch spread, veggies
Dan's Intestines
Puff pastry filled with spinach and artichoke dip
Zombie Balls
Meatballs in BBQ sauce
Cheesy Brains
Cheese ball piped in brain form
Bloody Brains
Strawberry jello in brain mold form
Zombie Flesh
Nutella puppy chow with gummy body parts
Crunchy Bones
Chocolate dipped pretzels

I wanted to go with easy food that could all be prepped ahead. The only thing that couldn't be prepped ahead was the intestines. They were the last thing I got ready, and took the most time. Definitely worth it though. So good. We didn't do any special drinks this year. Just a couple variety packs of beer and some Jones Soda for those of us opting not to drink. 







We ate tons of food, had a few beers, and the kids played in the bounce house until it was time for bed. I'm already looking forward to next week. Now I need to decide if I should leave our "blood splattered" hallway the way it is until Halloween or if I should take it all down now.



 Thank you Andrea for the fridge art.

The TWD crew.

All decorations purchased from Meijer, Target, or Halloween party stores.





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Crockpot Chicken and Noodles

I have fond memories of eating chicken and noodles every time I visited an old friend from school. It seemed like every time I came over for dinner, her mom made chicken and noodles. Maybe I just enjoyed it so much that it's all I ever remember eating when I joined them for dinner. The noodles were always frozen egg noodles and it was served with a heaping side of mashed potatoes.

I recently had a friend tell me noodles served with mashed potatoes is a Midwest thing. She also told me it  gross, which I refuse to believe. A double dose of carbs is definitely not gross. I also love my mom's homemade beef and noodles served over mashed potatoes. Another double dose or carbohydrate goodness. A Midwest thing or not, I love it.


I unfortunately don't have time to do homemade most days and the crockpot is my best friend, especially on days that we have to close up shop at work. I tried a couple recipes and came up with a version that we love. Easy and still tasty.

Crockpot Chicken and Noodles

3 chicken breast (fresh or frozen)
1 can cream of chicken soup
32 oz chicken broth
4 TBSP butter
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
19 oz pkg frozen egg noodles (I used store brand)

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients, except noodles, in crockpot. Cook on low 4 -6 hours.

2. Shred chicken into large pieces.

3. Return chicken to crockpot along with frozen noodles. Cook on low for 2-3 hours, or high for an hour.

4. Serve noodles alone or on a bed of mashed potatoes.





When I made this last week, the first night I served it with just a side of green beans. When doing leftovers, I made garlic smashed red potatoes to go along with. Both ways were totally delicious, but the kids preferred the noodles without potatoes. Although, they aren't big on potatoes unless they're in fry or tot form. Sometimes I wonder if they are truly my children. Ok, not really but how can you not love mashed potatoes?


There you have it, another Tasty Tuesday recipe in the books on the blog. And now I'm hungry.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mornings Lately

Our schedule lately has been full. When I say our, I mean mine and the kids. The week we got back from Seattle I started back to work. I only work a few hours a week and I'm lucky enough that I can take H and B to work with me and not mess up their schedule too much.  That's one of the awesome benefits of owning your own business, and having amazing employees who accommodate your crazy kids and their schedule.


Having them at work with me three days a week has given me a whole new level of respect for moms and dads who work from home. Trying to juggle kids and work is no joke. I'm sure my clients think we're a hot mess every time they come in and there are two toddlers running around screaming. Meanwhile I'm trying to make sure dogs go home with the right owners and that Brooke doesn't poop her pants while I'm busy with a client. Hot mess indeed.



Being that we head to work most days as soon as they finish naps and that by the time we're done working they need to eat dinner and hop in the tub before bed, we have to make the most out of our mornings. Any activities, play dates, trips to the store, etc, all have to be finished before 1pm. It makes for tightly scheduled days.



Last week we went to a local farm, shopped for our Walking Dead party, and made our last zoo trip of the year. I think the weather will be keeping us inside most of this week, so I see a few gym trips and hopefully a play date in our future this week. Anything to keep them busy, happy, and tire them out so they take good naps. I am gladly taking recommendations for things to do as the weather gets cooler. I know our mornings at the park are limited.


I am also gladly taking suggestions on ways to manage kids while working. I'm trying to avoid screen time even though I know giving them their Kindles would keep them happily occupied the entire time we're at work. They're great at helping when they can, but since I work with big, playful pups they can always help with what mom is doing.
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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Beef Vegetable Soup

It's soup season! One of my favorite things about cooler weather is soup. I love soup, especially ones that take hours to cooks in the stove top. They make the entire house smell amazing and after a few hours of cooking, they develop delicious flavors. One of my go to soups is beef vegetable soup. It takes about three hours to cook, is oh so easy, and it freezes well.


I first tried this recipe a few years ago when one of my besties had us over for dinner. It was so good that I asked for the recipe, and she told me it was in the Betty Crocker cookbook, which I already owned. I have modified the recipe a little over time mainly to include more veggies and an easier cut of meat to work with.

Beef Vegetable Soup

Ingredients

1 TBSP cooking oil
2-3 lbs bottom round roast
2 TBSP beef bullion granules
8 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
3 large red potatoes, cubed
10 oz frozen corn
12 oz frozen green beans
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with juice

Directions.

1. Heat oil in a large pot. Brown meat, half at at time. Drain any fat from pot.

2. Return beef to pot along with water, bullion, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Bring to a boil.

3. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for two hours.

4. Remove beef from broth. Strain broth to remove fat and bay leaves.

5. Once beef has rested and is cool enough to handle, cut into cubes.

6. Add beef and broth back to pot. Add in all the vegetables. Cook for 45 on med-low heat, or until vegetables are done.

7. Ladle into bowls, and ENJOY.

Notes: I often times will let the broth completely cool in the fridge to make fat removal easy. This does not change the texture or moistness of the meat. This soup freezes extremely well and keep in the fridge for up to a week. It's even better the next day. Best served with a crusty bread such as a baguette. I frequently add more vegetable to the pot than the recipe calls for. The more veggies the better, IMO.


I am always on the look out for great soups. I have yet to find a baked potato soup recipe I love. I think mainly because I want one for in the crockpot. Oh, and it needs to involve bacon, lots of bacon. Anyone have any great recipes to share?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Weekending

This weekend was cold. Cold enough that we spent most of the weekend inside. No walks or park trips. But we did think a trip to the zoo was a good idea. :/ My dear friend, Kim, was kind enough to remind me that last weekend we were drinking outside in dresses, and we were very comfortable. 

Rob had Friday off this week, so we started Friday morning with a little festive breakfast. We read "Where's My Mummy," and then had mummys to eat. Smoky Links wrapped in blueberry biscuit dough. We did these breakfast pigs in the blanket for H and B's birthday brunch, and Harry couldn't eat enough of them. He was all about them this time around too. Brooke of course just wanted blueberry biscuit.


We tried getting out for a walk Friday morning, but the rain ruined our plans, so we spent the day around the house reading, playing trains, and doing puzzles. I worked a few hours Friday afternoon, but made it home in time for beef vegetable soup, recipe share tomorrow, and some snuggles before bath and bedtime. 

It was my weekend to work the daycare, so the kid and I pulled our usual routine for weekends I work. Daycare, library, daycare, naps, daycare, dinner. Our time at the library always includes a donut and coffee date, checking out the fish, and playtime in the early learning center. We have just recently started checking out library books, which they love. I finally trust them not to ruin a board book, but we aren't quite ready for books with real pages or anything that involves lifting a flap. Harrison unfortunately thinks it's fun to tear the flaps apart.

We started getting acquainted with our Halloween costumes Saturday night. I'm hoping they will wear wigs, but I'm not too optimistic. Brooke still refuses to put one on and Harrison only lasted for about 60 seconds before insisting I take it off.


Sunday morning we headed to the zoo. This is the last week our zoo is open, so we want to make sure we get in a couple last visits. We met up with Carolyn and Sophie bright and early. Harrison was insistent on winter coats, and then he hated it the whole time. There were quite a few tears shed over mittens because having your thumb in the thumb sleeve is apparently not ok. He's been upset about pretty much everything lately. Two of his two year molars are coming through right now, so he's been a hot mess.




We made it through 3/4 of the zoo before heading home to watch some football. Rob's cousins and Baby B came over and brought lunch. Yay! All three kids snoozed through a good majority of the game while we watched the Steelers WIN. After naps and dinner, we broke out the bounce house. We are quickly learning that this will be the best way to burn off some energy when it's too cold to get outside. Bounce house parties at our house all fall and winter long!


We are hoping to get in one last trip to the zoo this week and maybe some fall fun. Picking pumpkins, hay rides, corn mazes, apple cider slushies. All on our to do list.