Thursday, July 29, 2010

On a "Rampage"

It has been so sweltering hot in St. Louis that we haven't really been able to do a lot of outdoor activities.  This past Monday, though, it was only supposed to be 85 so I decided to put our season passes to use and I took the kids to the zoo.


As soon as we walked through the entrance, there was a sign set up saying that the St. Louis Rams were going to unveil their new mascot at 11am.  We arrived about 10:45 so there was going to be a 15 minute wait.  I asked Kanin if he wanted to stick around for it and he did so we waited.


Finally at about 11:08, we saw the new mascot, "Rampage" appear above the sea lion waterfall.
After his initial appearance, Rampage ran out into the crowd and right over to us.  Kanin was SO EXCITED!!  It definitely made it worth standing in the scorching heat.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Now That I'm a Big Boy . . .

I want some real food.  How about some turkey and some mostaccioli?



We'll see how I like it . . .



this stuff isn't half bad!

Caleb had his 1 year check-up today.  He weighed 25.4lbs, was 30.1 inches long and had a head circumference of 18.5cm.  He was in the 75% for weight and 58% for height. 

The doctor told me that I could start him on regular table food and start weaning him off the bottle.  I'll definitely do the table food but probably hold off on the bottle for a bit.  He will only be a baby for a little bit longer and I'm gonna hold on to every minute!  Tonight he had his first dinner of table food, deli turkey and mostaccioli.  He seemed to like it but was a little confused by it, I think.  LOL

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Book Review: Size 14 Is Not Fat Either




Heather Mills is a residence hall coordinator who has suddenly found herself in charge of "Death Dorm".  The second in a series of three (so far), Size 14 Is Not Fat Either is a funny murder mystery in which Mills stumbles across a murder of one of her residences-again-and sets out to find the murderer.

The author, Meg Cabot, writes in a way that is witty and sarcastic but, at times, I felt like the jokes came too easily and were predictable.  As the heroine is a past-her-prime pop star who has put on a few extra pounds, it felt like there a bit too many references to food and her being fat.  While I could relate to some of the scenarios described, they just became a bit predictable.

I did not realize when I checked this book out that it was part of a series (#2) so now I will have to go back and find the first and third ones.

This was a quick, easy, fun read and I would recommend it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just a Couple Obsessions

I have a couple of obsessions outside of my family and the St. Louis Cardinals.  I wish that I could find a way to combine all of them into a part-time job but, for now, I haven't figured it out.

I love food.  Love, Love, Love food.  I don't just love eating food, I love the colors of food.  I love smells of food.  I love watching cooking shows.  I love the presentation of food.  I just love food.  Food is so personal and so intimate.  It is what sustains and gives us life.  When I cook for my family, I know that I am, in essence, giving them life over and over again. 

I have found a way to take my passion for food and channel it with my food blog, Meals For Real.  It definitely is not a site for gourmet food, just normal family-style recipes and step-by-step instructions on how to make them.  I have no grandiose ideas when it comes to the blog.  I have set some ads up on it and I do get paid when people click on them but I'm not expecting my little hobby to pay the mortgage.  It has just become a good outlet for me and a way for me to experiment. 


I am also obsessed with Las Vegas.  My first trip to Vegas was in December 2006 and I have been hooked ever since.  The only word that I can use to describe Vegas is energy.  No matter what time of day, no matter what day of the week there is always something is going on. 

When I was growing up I would hear Vegas referred to as "Sin City" and I guess that could be true.  For me, though, it is a place where Scott and I can go and just have fun.  No worries of home.  No screaming kids.  We can sleep all day and get up and go eat at a 5 Star Restaurant at 11:00pm without having to look for a babysitter.  We can go sit on the street and people watch or we can go lay by the pool.  We can see our favorite band or a Broadway musical.  We can shop at designer shops or we can buy stuff from a street vendor. 

The light, the sounds, the hustle and bustle.  I love it all.  I think I love it because it is so different from my day-to-day life that I feel like a different person when I'm there.  I guess this is why that I spend a lot of time searching for cheap airline flights to get me back there.  There is just something about Vegas that I can't get enough of.

One of my favorite things to do in Vegas is to check out new restaurants.  I love going to famous chefs' places or unique hot spots or hole in the wall local hangouts.  I actually started another blog after eating at some great places in Vegas.  Where April Eats is a place where I talk about the different restaurants in different cities that I have eaten at and some of my favorite foods. 


You would think that Vegas and Disney World have absolutely nothing in common but that is not so.  In my mind, Vegas is the adult Disney World-LOL.  A coupe of years ago we took our first real family vacation and it was to Disney World and I have been hooked ever since.  No lie, the night we got back from that trip in 2008, I was on the internet planning out our next trip.  It has taken a couple of years, and an extra kid, but we are going back in September and I can't wait!

When we are at home I can honestly say that I am the "hard" one when it comes to bed times, too many sweets and treats, etc. but when we were at Disney, it was like all of the uptightness just melted away.   I let the kids eat dessert first.  I let them get candy and ice cream during the day.  I let them stay up as late as they want.  I let them pretty much do anything they want because we were at Disney World, "Where Dreams Come True."

The best thing about Disney was literally seeing the "magic" in the kids' eyes.  One of my favorite memories of our first trip was at Hollywood Studios and we saw the Power Rangers.  Kanin was so into the Power Rangers at the time, especially Red Ranger Jack, and when we saw them he was ecstatic.  I was literally crying and jumping up and down in excitement for him.  It sounds so silly but it was so sweet.  I can't wait until this time when Gracie has a princess make-over and we get to have lunch with the princesses.  I'm sure I will be crying again.

Disney World also let me try tons of new restaurants, which I loved!  My favorite by far is the German Biergarten at Epcot but they were all fantastic.  Epcot is such an awesome place.  All of the different countries with so many cool, authentic places to eat.  It is so authentic that within each country at every shop and restaurant, the people who work there are actually from that country.  So cool.  I'm sure that after this next trip, I will have plenty of entries to add to my Where April Eats blog.

So I wish there were some way for me to combine these passions.  Scott told me to get my travel agent's license but I think the market for travel agents has come and gone.  I have helped quite a few people plan both of their Disney and Vegas vacations with places to go, places to eat suggestions and I love doing that so who knows what will become of it.  For now, though, I will be content to plan my next destination and next place to eat.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stop the Madness!

Do you ever get a song in your head that you CANNOT get out?  You sing the song over and over and over.  Well, apparently, this has happened to Kanin and Gracie because they have been singing this song for weeks!

Click on the link below:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8ccvVhLcFw

Women, Food and God

Has anyone read this book?  Interested in having a little book discussion?

I'm Not Ready

I knew the time was growing closer but I tried to push it out of my mind.


I'm not ready to get back into the school routine:  early rising, eating breakfast, pack kids up . . . be without Kanin all day.



Why do kids have to grow up?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Kanin-July 2010-
  A few months ago Kanin had strep throat that included scarlet fever.  Because of the high fever associated with scarlet fever your feet and hands can sometimes peel just as if you had a really bad sunburn.  So this month Kanin realized that his feet were kind of peeling and, of course, he asked me if he had scarlet fever.  I told him, "No, sometimes your feet just get dry and they peel.  We'll just put some lotion on them".  He then said, "Maybe I'm going through my man changes."  I about lost it.  "What are man changes?" I asked him.  He said, "I don't know, I heard about it on Zac and Cody." 
  I still don't know what man changes are but it cracks me up everytime I think of it.


Gracie-After sitting on the potty and going just a little bit, I gave Gracie a couple of peanut butter stuffed pretzels. She looked at me and said "Your nice".


Gracie-One of the most common is by our Gracie SassyPants: "Kanin Joshua, come here NOW!"


Kanin-Yesterday Kanin came to me all excited after watching a commercial for Nutella and was trying to convince me to buy some: "It has fiber and is made with nuts. You know, Zaheel nuts (hazelnuts). It is really "healthsy" for you. Can we get some?"


Gracie-After an hour of fighting Gracie to go to sleep, she turns around and makes a slide on Gaga's pillow for her binky. She looks at me and says "I'm making my bebe go Weee".

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Wanna Come!

We have a baby gate at the bottom of the stairs to keep the Boo Boo from going up.  This gate used to be at the top of the stairs but somehow a rung got broken and we were afraid that he might fall down the stairs so we switched gates.

Kanin and Gracie crawl throughe little hole to go upstairs and Caleb has watched them do it several times.

Today, he wanted to go, too . . .



Rant and Rave Friday

RANT

For those of you even thinking about getting Dish Network, DON'T!  They are the absolute worst cable/dish provider in St. Louis.  Not only were we unable to watch 95% of the St. Louis Blues games, I can't stand them for other reasons, as well.  #1 It is almost impossible to search for shows to record.  #2 You cannot stop a show that is currently recording.  #3 While they say you can record 2 channels at the same time, if you decide you'd like to stop one of them while it is recording, you can't.  #4 If it barely sprinkles, it goes out.  They are horrible.

-Joe Buck's Restaurant-They have an incredible rooftop patio that I went to over the weekend.  I took family members back there on Sunday after the Cardinal game and it was closed.  When I asked them about it they said that it is closed every Sunday.  I can understand it not being open on a normal Sunday but when there is a Cardinal game, why in the world wouldn't it be open?  When we asked the bartender about it he said that it was too unpredictable to open up on Sundays.  Once again, the day of a Cardinal game it is pretty safe to say that every restaurant and bar is going to be packed. 

Paul Serling Smith caused a whole greater community to come together this week when he kidnapped 4-year-old Alisa Meier from her own front yard this week.  It was a wake up call to me, personally.  Smith later died from a self-inflicted gun wound.

LeBron James for making the last week all about him.  I do not care the least about the NBA but even I was sucked into the drama.  James has every right to play for whatever team he wants but why put the entire country through 48 hours of hearing nothing but where he was going to play.  So glad that is over.

RAVES
-My entire gets a rave this weekend for helping us have a fabulous 4th of July and for their generosity with Caleb and Gracie and all of the presents they received.

-All of the concerned citizens who were cognizant enough to realize that something was right at that car wash down in Fenton.  Their suspicion led to the release of the little girl, Alissa Meier.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Helping Those Who Need It

I have a friend, Boris, who is currently over in Afghanistan on his second tour of duty as a civilian contractor.  He has adopted an orphanage over there and is asking for help.


Here is the email that I received from Boris' wife, Jenn, asking for help:

I received this email from Boris this morning and it is very sad. Boris is currently working 3 different positions there and working much more closely with the Afghan people this deployment. As many of you know, if we can win over the Afghan people then we will be much more successful in this war and our troops and civilian employees will get to come home to their families. Please try to help in any way that you possibly can. I am more than willing to mail any donation you can make to Boris so he can take it to the kids. Many of you know that last year when Boris was in Afghanistan, NATO Command was struck by a car bomb and many of the kids that Boris took food to daily were killed in that car bombing as they waited for food from Boris and other people from NATO. This has haunted Boris since the day it happened and he will carry it with him forever. Please let me know if you need his address or let me know if I can pick up any donation to mail to Boris.

Here is part of the email that Boris sent to Jenn asking for help:

Our interperter - wears a sz. 8 jean/pant which some NGA individuals reviously have purchased from
New york and company, Old Navy and Gap. She has to have dark colors and preferably not large at
the bottom, they tend to get dirty faster. Her shoes are sz 8.5 shoes, she prefers dark and full footed shoes.
Tops are a sz. M, they must be long sleeve and cover her neck, again dark colors.
Women here have to follow very strict rules on what they wear or they would get in a lot of trouble.


I went to the day care today for the first time to visit kids and I was heartbroken. The kids looked very skinny and malnurished. I brought them cookies, pencils and coloring books that I was able to find in the camp. I had to walk out of the room because I almost started crying. This children are the kids of the working Afghan officials. I can't even imagine how I am going to handle myself if I go to the orphanage. Jenn, I tell you I am crying as I write to you now. This place is very sad, they have almost 60 kids from 6m to 6 years in a small four room building that is not even safe for a dog. I talked to the teacher and I asked what they need here is the following list:


coloring books, coloring pencins, crayons, soccer balls, balls, puzzles for different ages, clothing for various ages from 6m to 6 years, shoes, toys of any kind for kids from 6m to 6 years, candy, hand sanitizer, clorox wipes, lysol, huggie wipes, toothbrushes, hair brushes, toothpaste, hand soap, jumping rope, and anything else you can think of for kids of that age.

A Paypal account has been set up for any donations to help get the orphange in living condition.  To make a contribution, send funds to: shauned@verizon.net  There has been almost $1200 donated up to this point.

If you have any of the above mentioned item, you can send them to address below or get a hold of me and I will send them with my stuff:

Boris Plotnitskiy
USNSE
HQ ISAF JIOC-A
APO AE 09356

Here is an update on Boris' FB page regarding this project.  This was posted on Wed, July 7, 2010:

Tomorrow is a big day, we are going to scrub the walls, fix all of the holes and prime the entire building. Thanks to all of the supporters, family and friends who are helping us. We truly appreciate.

Here are a few pics of the kids in the orphanage:





Does this kid not just melt our heart?

This picture broke my heart.

Mom's Lifesaver a Baby's Jail?

I'm 1, Look What I Can Do




Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Paranoid, Over-Protective or Just Trying to Avoid a Parent's Worst Nightmare

Last night a parent's worst nightmare came true for a couple from Louisiana, MO.  Their 4-year-old daughter, Alisa, was taken by a stranger while playing in her own front yard!  Her 6-year-old brother saw the abduction happen and was able to describe the male responsible and the car used.  Here is a copy of the Amber Alert:



I cannot even imagine what these parents are going through.  Apparently, the children were outside playing and the mother was outside with them, as well.  She went inside to finish up dinner and within a matter of 10 minutes, the little girl was gone.  Louisiana, MO, is a small town of about 3,500 people so I'm sure she never thought anything like this would happen.

I couldn't sleep last night for thinking about this little girl.  I pray that God's Holy Spirit would come down and surround Alisa and begin to work on the heart of her abductor.  I pray that if there is even one ounce of good or a conscience in this person that he will not be able to harm this baby. 

I have been reading a lot of posts on different newspaper sites where people are blaming the parents for being negligent and it has really gotten me to think about my own children and how they play outside.

In the last few months, Kanin who is now 6, has gotten to be friends with the neighbor kids.  They all run around from yard to yard playing hide-n-go seek, tag, Army, etc.  I have felt that he is old enough to be outside playing with these kids without me being right out there with him the whole time but it is events like this that make me question if that is the right thing or not.

I don't want any of my children to be afraid of being a kid.  I don't want them to be so dependent on me that they can't make any decisions for themselves or that they are too afraid to be out of my sight but at the same time, I am their protector and it is my responsibility to know where they are at all times.

I remember growing up and staying outside from sun-up until sun-down.  My mom would come out on the front porch and whistle and that is how I knew that it was time to come home.  I would ride my bike all over the place, go for hikes up in the woods behind our house and run around the neighborhood playing with all of the kids.  I was never afraid of someone trying to steal me and I want those same memories for my children, too.

I live in what I believe to be a very "safe" neighborhood.  I know everyone on our little cul-de-sac and most of the kids have been over to our house for dinner.  Of course, there are those cars that drive by that I don't recognize but I have never thought for one second that it could be a child abductor . . . maybe I will now.

Of course, I do not let Gracie, 3, outside without a parent or at least our 15 year old neighbor/babysitter out there with her but I will say that I have let her in the fenced in backyard while I've been inside.  I always keep the family room windows open so I can see her but I don't necessarily stay out there with her the whole time. 

Is this the wrong thing to do?  At one point do I give them (mostly Kanin) a little more freedom?  Should I let him out to play with the neighbor kids?

I am really struggling with this so any advice is welcomed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Caleb and Gracie's Birhday Parties

Over the weekend we had Caleb and Gracie's combined birthday party.  I really strugged with whether or not to do a combined because I really wanted Caleb to have his own 1st birthday party but it just didn't make sense to ask everyone to come over two days in a row or at two separate times so we just had one big party.

Last year, I ordered Gracie a #2 birthday shirt and I wanted to get a #3 for her and a #1 for Caleb.  I didn't want Kanin to feel left out so I got him a shirt that had a "K" on it.  I had Nicole make them in a 4th of July theme.

Of course, before the party started I had to have a little photo session.




It was time to open presents and I was trying to figure out how to do everything (food, presents, cake, waterslide) all in one day without boring all of the adults.  Instead of having each kid open up presents individually, we just had them open them both together

It has kind of become a tradition that Gaga makes the birthdy cake.  Caleb's cake was a red, white and blue #1cake.  We started to take this picture but Caleb had already noticed the cake and stuck his fingers in it.

Gracie insisted on holding this toy for the picture.

Scott wasn't a big fan of the hat I had picked out for Caleb to wear but Kanin and Gracie both had these little hats for their 1st birthdays and I thought it was cute.

Blowing out the candles.



"More" cake, Mommy!




After presents, cake and the waterslide were finished, we all went outside and hung out on the driveway.  Scott got out the microphone, too, and we impromptu karaoke.  Kanin has been walking around singing, "Hey, soul sister.  Hey there, mister, mister on the radio, stereo the way you move ain't fair, you know" so Scott played it for him.


Caleb was such a good baby and was content just to lay outside and listen to the music.

Our neighbor, Paul, had Bomb Pops and they were definitely the hit of the night.  I think this picture is so cute.  Jacob really looks up to Kanin so he thought he was a big boy.
Ali and Aidan liked the Bomb Pops, too.
Of course, GracieAnn didn't want to get sticky so she ate hers out of the bowl.  Could you not just die for those eyes?
One of the highlights for Gracie and Kanin was that they got to hold their first sparkler.


Here's what our houses looked like from the cul-de-sac.  At one time we probably had about 30 people out there.  It was a lot of good, wholesome, family-fun.  Great memories for the kids.