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Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Wrap Up

I set some goals for myself for 2010. Let's see how I've done this month!

~~Finish 1 knitting project - no, I don't know that I've picked up the needles in February.  Work has been occupying a lot of my time.  I hope to finish my hat in March!
~~Learn All Songs in my current Piano Book - I reported last month that I've pretty much mastered "Minuet" and "Sheep May Safely Graze" by Bach and "Ode to Joy" by Beethoven. I've been practicing those and added "Minuet in G" by Beethoven.
~~Participate in the 52 of 52 Mom-in-the-Photo Project - Yes, I've completed all 8 weeks this month!
~~Successfully Complete 12 No-Spend Weeks - I did not get organized and complete one in February.  I'll have to make up for it later in the year!
~~Refurbish 1 Piece of Furniture - Not yet but I'm thinking about it.
~~Run a 5K - Gosh, I can't believe it will be possible. I haven't really tried yet to run so will start focusing on that once it warms up. I have a hard time running on the treadmill.
~~Go to England California - We've scratched the England idea this year but are making plans for Southern California in the summer!
~~Lose 77 Pounds - Working on it, eating really well.  Will add exercise to the mix once work is over.
~~Successfully Transition to a Stay-at-Home Mom - I have 2 weeks of work left. I'm going to miss it - love the position I'm in, love the people I work with, but I'm really looking forward to the change.

I had my priorities straight for February, focusing more heavily on the boys and work and putting a few other things on the backburner until work is over.  March will be a month of change and I'm looking forward to it!

How was your February?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

8 of 52 and An Answer about Spring Cleaning

Brennan took this photo of David and me at the Children's Museum on Saturday.

I'm linking up to Carin's blog today for the 52 Weeks of Mom in the Photo project!

After my Spring Cleaning post last night I was surprised to wake up to several emails about it this morning.  Thought I'd answer a couple.

Jenny wrote: Bonnie - I love this idea! My house is cluttered and I'm never sure where to start.  How did you decide which room to start in last year?  Will you start there this year again? 
Last year I started in our mud room area right off the garage.  It's sort of a natural "beginning" to the house.  Next I moved to the mud room closet, the laundry room, the pantry, the kitchen, and just sort of made my way through the house from one end to the other.  Honestly though, I didn't get all the way through the house.  So this year I'm going to start at the other end (the boys' playroom) and work backwards.

Robin wrote:  Our family really needs to do something like this.  How involved were David and your children?
I am blessed with a husband who also prefers the house de-cluttered.  I left the larger jobs to David and involved him on a lot of decisions, but I took the bulk of the work on.  I felt this was a good mix because this was my Spring Cleaning book.  I'm the one that came up with 500 things that needed to be done around the house.  No need to require our weekends were spent getting my list done.  But I did involve the boys a lot.  A good example is the pantry.  We took every item out and wiped down the shelves, mopped really well, wiped down the baseboards (ew, they were dusty and gross), and put everything back.  The boys loved this activity.  Thankfully, cause that's a lot of food to be moving out and back in by myself!

Paula wrote:  How do you keep from getting overwhelmed by all those lists in the book?
Those of us who make lists know that getting it down on paper actually takes a lot of the overwhelm out of the scenario.  Once all the things that could be done are down on paper, then it's fun.  You just pick where you want to start and focus there instead of letting the other 499 things running around in your head distract you.  I made a very detailed list of every room.  I knew that if I didn't get to everything then I would be fine.  I was amazed at how much we did get to.  Simply put - lists keep me from being overwhelmed.

52 Weeks is a year long challenge for YOU to be in a picture once a week for 52 weeks. We are always the ones behind the camera, this is YOUR chance to get out in front and be in the pictures with your family. Your family will really enjoy having you in the picture. Now go take a picture!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning 2010

Last year I took this cute notebook and devised a pretty intense Spring Cleaning plan.  I learned about it at Sarah's blog - one of my very favorites to read each week. 
The idea is to take a cute notebook and make a separate page for every room and closet in your home.  I also did this for all of our outdoor areas, porches, decks.  Then you walk through each room and make a list of everything that needs to be done in that room and write it on the page - shelves repaired, carpets cleaned, light fixtures replaced, a good dusting, baseboards wiped down...

My organized, list-making self LOVED the idea.  Any excuse to buy a cute notebook, right?  I got busy right away and starting tackling one room or closet at a time.  Did I get everything done in the past year?  Absolutely not!  But I was surprised at how much we did get done over the course of the year.

This year I wanted to do this again.  It'll probably become an annual practice.  I tore out 2009's pages and had plenty leftover for 2010.  My new pages are all ready to go.  I was surprised how much shorter this year's lists are compared to last year.  We really got a lot taken care of last year with this "system".

I'm going to wait until after Spring Break and my last day of work before I go to town on the house this year.

It's pretty sad what I look forward to isn't it?  But I love, love, love to get organized, weed out, and cross things off lists!

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Fort

Next up in our 101 Places to see list was A FORT.

We could have counted The Alamo (our Legendary Location) as a Fort also, but we remembered we visited another fort on our trip to New England last fall.

The Alamo

On our trip to Boston, we visited Newport, Rhode Island and Ft. Adams.

Ft. Adams was not offering tours the day we were there, but we were able to walk around and see everything.  It's the largest coastal fort in the United States.  It was constructed over many years, starting in 1702.

I loved these long rock walls.  Reminded me on England.

Ft. Adams is rented out now for large functions and they do Civil War reenactments there in the summer.  It was pretty cool to visit (and I don't just mean the cold winds coming off Newport Harbor!)

From the Book
#58 - A Fort
In the Middle Ages, they had castles.  In colonial and frontier North America, they had forts.  Forts kept settlers or army forces in, and the enemy of the moment (it often changed) out.  Forts were built to withstand anything, and many of them have survived battles, bombardment, and natural diasters.  Since you don't have to worry about cannon fire or arrows coming at you, you can walk along the battlements and check out the views (forts are usually built on the highest ground around).  And if you get the idea that it would be really hilarious to dangle your little brother over the side, please try to control yourself.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Legendary Location

The next stop on our 101 Places to See tour is A LEGENDARY LOCATION.

For Fall Break 2007 we visited our good friends Tom and Lorie in San Antonio, Texas.  It was such a wonderful trip.  We had never been to San Antonio and it was really great to tour it with friends who know it so well.  One of our first stops was The Alamo.

I was amazed that The Alamo sits in downtown San Antonio.  I assumed it was out a ways in the middle of a dusty part of Texas.  But, no, right in the middle of town with palm trees all around.  Boys, did you like that I dressed you in matching shirts? :)

We walked all around The Alamo and watched a video about the terrible battle that happened there.
While Thomas's favorite part of our trip was Sea World, Brennan still says his favorite part was visiting The Alamo.  He enjoys seeing the real places that he reads about, just like me.

From the Book
#83 - A Legendary Location
The Alamo.  The OK Corral. Chances are that even if you don't know what happened there, you've heard of these legendary places.  Through the years, the stories about their history has been embellished so much that no one can say for sure what's fact and what's fiction.  So mane a visit and try to sort it out for yourself.  See a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party at the Old South Meeting House in Boston, or of the shoot-out at the OK Corral in Tombstone.  Visit Sleepy Hollow, the place where teh headless horseman was said to ahve made his legendary ride.  Being in such a legendary place makes you feel like you're part of history.

Friday, February 19, 2010

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - An Amazing Architectural Achievement


For Memorial Weekend 2008 we drove up to Chicago.  David and I have been to Chicago sightseeing and for work a number of times, but the boys had not.  There is sooo much to see for the kids.  High on the list was the John Hancock Building.

Years before David and I toured both the Sears Tower and the Hancock Building.  The Hancock is not as tall, but the lines are a lot shorter!  And I love the architectural design of the Hancock Building.  We walked from our hotel and the boys were impressed as they saw it in the distance.  Ironically this picture below that I took is almost identical to the page in the book!

From the top, the views of Lake Michigan are really great.  Here's looking south.

Looking north.

Oh, Brennan you look so young.

They have a cool thing where the kids can "wash the windows" and have their pictures taken.

From the Book:
#53 - An Amazing Architectural Achievement
Most buildings exist to serve a purpose: to shelter us from the elements, or to give us a place to sleep, eat, study, or shop.  But every once in awhile, a building comes along that goes soaring beyond the basic requirements of tis purpose and transforms the landscape around it and changes our idea of what a building can be.  Such a building make us feel special just by looking at it or being inside it.  It inspires us and makes us say "wow!"  When you see a building like this, you'll really get it - architecture is a form of art and you've just seen a masterpiece.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

7 of 52 and 40 Bags in 40 Days

Thomas did a really dumb thing and got caught yesterday.  And then he lied about it.  And then I overreacted.  But we're friends again.  Brennan took this photo of us yesterday after school.
A number of local friends are doing a "40 Bags in 40 Days" Lent project and I've gotten on board even though I'm not Catholic and don't normally give up anything for Lent.  I think this project makes a lot of sense though.

You give away a bag of stuff every day for 40 days.  It doesn't matter what size the bag or if you trash it, give it to Goodwill, or give it to a friend.  Since I'm a natural weeder-outer, and it's time for some serious Spring Cleaning, this seems like an easy thing for me to be a part of!

The boys were a huge help for our first bag today.  Their school is collecting shoes for Haiti.  They cleaned out the mudroom closet and found 5 pairs of shoes they can no longer wear.  We bagged them and they have taken them to school today for Haiti.  Always great when the kids can be a part of the process!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Cemetery

Our 7th Place from the 101 Places List is A CEMETERY.

Last year when we visited our family in June, we took the Dads (and moms and grandma) out to Lil' Dooey's for bbq for Father's Day. Here are the boys, lounging on the porch with their Grandpas.

Because we were across the street from a cemetery where some of David's relatives are laid to rest, we walked over. 

My mother-in-law's stepfather.  I did not realize his middle name was Thomas when we named our first born!

Grandmother Pearl

David's Aunt Frances who sadly passed away before David was born. 

Once we returned to my in-law's house, Carolyn showed the boys pictures of the people who we visited at the cemetery. 

From the Book:
#31 - A Cemetery
When it comes to cemeteries, there are basically two types of people:  those who find them scary, creepy, or boring, and those who find them endlessly interesting.  If you are in the second category, you don't need any convincing to go to a cemetery - you've probably already gone.  If you are in the first group, here are a few reasons to change your mind.  Cemeteries are only scary or creepy if you go at night, which is illegal anyway.  Cemeteries are not boring.  The names on the headstones alone are worth going for - when was the last time you met someone named Epaphroditus or Sophronia?  Then there's the cause of death - cholera, diptheria - diseases doctors found cures for.  From cool crypts to interesting epitaths, you'll learn a lot about history.  Just give it a try - you don't have to stay there!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Day Thoughts

We're having our 6th snow day of the year today.  I love it, but I dread the end of May when the school year has been extended!

Brennan wrote a thank you note to the author Theoni Pappas for the birthday package she sent him.  I loved his note.  There is a Sigma sign in the heart.  When I asked what that was about he said,
"you know, two mathematicians, keeping in touch with each other.  it's our sign."

Yesterday I gave Daddy the day off (Happy Valentine's Day!) and I took the boys out for the afternoon.  We went to Wonderlab in Bloomington where the boys had a ton of fun.

My favorite Rube-Goldberg contraption.  I could watch this thing for hours.

Thomas enjoyed building bridges to trap the fog.

This is a pretty cool thing that shoots scarves out of the tubes.

The boys had fun with a new friend building a stack of blocks with the new crane exhibit.

We've got 7 inches of snow and it's still coming down.  This was this morning.

This afternoon - look at the deck rail!

Happy Snow Day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day, Chinese New Year, and The Winter Olympics!

Wow, what a busy weekend!  First up, the Olympics.  I'm hoping to find time each evening for us to watch some of the events.  We are not into winter sports as much, but it should be a lot of fun to watch the skating, skiing, and beautiful Vancouver landscapes.  I LOVE this video from Proctor & Gamble.

Happy Valentine's Day!  Brennan is spending the night with his friend Jared and going to church with him this morning.  What a treat - he was sooo excited!  His mom had a Valentine's party for the boys last night and is making Valentine's pancakes this morning.  I'm thinking about taking the boys to the Children's Museum in Indy later this afternoon if we can get back before the snow comes in.  We're expecting another few inches tonight.

Happy Chinese New Year!  2010 - The Year of the Tiger.  This is Thomas's favorite animal so he's especially excited.  In honor of, we made Chinese Fried Rice yesterday for lunch.  It was delicious and the boys had never made it before so it was a treat.  The great thing about fried rice is that you can add to it whatever works for you.

Chinese Fried Rice
White Rice
Extra Firm Tofu, chopped into small squares
Frozen Edamame, heated in the microwave
4 eggs, scrambled
Rice Wine Vinegar
Olive or Sesame Oil

I cooked 9 cups of rice (6 cups of water and 3 cups of rice) according to the package directions. 

While the rice was cooking, I heated 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet and cooked half of the package of tofu that I had chopped into small squares. (I could have easily cooked the entire package since I had so much rice).  I added 3 Tbsp of low-sodium Soy Sauce and stirred.  I then set the tofu aside on a plate.

I then scrambled 4 eggs and chopped them up with the spatula.  By this time the rice was cooked and I added it to the large skillet with the eggs.  I added the microwaved shelled edamame, the tofu, and 3 Tbsp of olive oil.  If I had sesame oil I would have used that because the taste is classic with this dish.  I then added 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar.  I added 3 whole cloves of garlic for flavor.

Once the ingredients are well mixed and are cooking over the medium-high heat, I add soy sauce to taste.  I probably ended up with 3/4 c low-sodium soy sauce in the end.  I kept tasting to make sure the flavors were right.  I removed the garlic and we served it immediately.

Other ingredients I would have used if I had had them on hand:  scallions, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, chopped carrots.

It was delicious and we are having it for breakfast at David's suggestion.  It's really pretty healthy and all 4 of us liked it, so that's always a plus!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

101 Places to See Before You're 12 - A Floating Museum


When we decided to spend Memorial Day weekend 2008 in Chicago, David was "U"ber excited.  Probably his very favorite museum in the world is Chicago's Science and Industry Museum.  Those who know and love me - does this sound like it's up my alley? 

Anyway, we had been there before and it was fun, but we know it would be even better with the boys.  ESPECIALLY because they had a German U-boat on display.

Sorry for the blurry photos.  It was quite dark in this portion of the museum.  You can see the U-boat on the left.  We got to tour it and it really was impressive.  Hard to believe so many people lived in it!

There's a better picture.  We got there early (at David's insistance) and we were able to tour without the crowds.  It was great.

The display area had some cool exhibits and video games which Thomas and Brennan especially enjoyed.  Here they're working with air pressure to keep the submarine level.

A similar game here but it was much harder.  I could not get it right.  Thomas is having fewer issues!

From the Book:
#70 - A Floating Museum
Since three-quarters of the Earth's surface is water, it's not surprising that ships have played such an important part in history.  Viking ships, merchant vessels, and naval brigs or aircraft carriers spent months, sometimes years, at sea before making their final journeys back to port.  Now that their voyages are over, and they're docked, you can climb on board and check them out.  See the captain's quarters of a merchant ship, walk on an aircraft carrier's runway, and check out the control and engine rooms.  It's your chance to experience life at sea without having to eat hard-tack or getting scurvy.

Candy Cane Hearts

Today we made Candy Cane Hearts in celebration of Valentine's Day.  I picked up a box of small candy canes in an after Christmas sale for 25cents.  We only used about 1/3 of them today.

They're easy to mold into shapes.  Heat the oven to 250 and line a baking sheet with a silicone pad or with parchment paper.  Lay out whole or broken candy canes on the sheet and heat for 10 minutes.  When they come out of the oven they are warm and pliable for a few minutes. 

After they come out of the oven we transferred them to another silicone pad so we wouldn't burn our hands on the baking sheet.

The boys had fun turning the pieces into words.

After a couple of minutes they harden.  You can always put them back in the oven for a minute to soften them back up if you need to.

Of course, the best part is eating them aftewards!

Happy Valentine's Day!