Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Forever and Ever

I was driving the kids home from a morning of swim when I heard Ella's voice from the backseat making an unexpected statement "I don't want to go to college." Huh?? I'd like to think I don't put that much pressure on my kids that they're worried about college already. She followed it up by saying "I don't ever want to get married."

Ok. Now I totally knew where we were going with this, but I asked her why just to make sure. Her obvious (to me) response was "Because I always want to live with you forever and ever!!!"

Every once in awhile Ella gets in these moods where she just is so adament that she will never get married (despite playing wedding and marriage all the time with her sister) because the idea of living apart from mom and dad is just too much to think about. I try and reassure her that she can live with us as long as she wants to (I know, I know, I'll be eating my words when she's 25 and still mooching of us). I don't try and convince her that honestly, there will be a day when she does not want to live at home any longer. That is something her 4 1/2 year old brain just cannot grasp. Also, I don't think there was a time for me that I was dying to be away from my parents. I came home for holidays. breaks and some summers during college so the time I truly moved away was after I got married. Even though I was so excited to begin my married life with Matt, it was a bit scary to really move away from home.

So I can understand Ella's fears and I try to make her feel secure. For some reason on this trip I started talking about how when I got married I got to live with "daddy" and how that was exciting. That simple sentence opened a whole can of worms as far as my girls were concerned. The rest of the ride was them asking me questions "why did you and daddy fall in love", "how did you meet", "where did you meet", "why did you like each other" "did you say each other's names when met?' Remember these are 4 1/2 year old questions - Catherine kept asking for "more stories about the wedding".

It was such a cute time with them. Ella decided on her own that Shannon introduced me to Matt and Greg introduced Matt to me. I can track her thought process because we had already talked about me living with Shannon in college and that Shannon and Greg met in college.

When we got home they decided they wanted to watch our wedding video. It started with about 10 minutes of pictures of Matt and I growing up and then us together. They loved pointing us out and the other people they recognized. Catherine cracked me up when she said "Hey, that's Gram Pam. I know her." Yes, Catherine, she is your grandmother. Another funny part was during the rehearsal when I pointed out to Ella that the dress I was wearing is one she likes to use for dress up. Then they asked where my wedding dress - thankfully it is stored safely away at my parents' and they won't be geting their hands on it any time soon!

I had fun watching the girls and listening to their comments and questions. I still don't think that Ella is ready to even process moving away from home at some point in the future - which is just fine with me. She'll have enough to deal with when she finds out we're leaving for the beach tomorrow!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Hairy Dilemma

I have been struggling with what to do with my hair for quite awhile now. I need a change. It doesn't necessarily need to be a big one, but I need something. I am desperate enough for advice that I am actually posting some pictures and hoping I can solicite some advice from all my wise bloggy friends.

A bit of background. I have very thick hair. At least two to three times as much as what is probably considered normal. It was always straight, with a little bit of body that might even be considered wave or curl - but the weight of all my hair usually kept it hidden. I have had my hair short before and I liked it, but it was never easy - too much body so I really had to work to keep it under control.

After I had Ella my hair got a bit wavier. After Catherine even wavier. The tricky part is - it's only wavy in the back. The front is pretty straight. Because of that I basically just work at keeping it straight. Here is an example of my straight(ish) hair.

It's way too long and straggly right now. Even after straightening it, it still has a little bit of wave right there in the middle.

Now hear is a lovely picture of my hair as it dries naturally.

And here is another one. Lovely, I know.

Don't you just love that nice straight few inches or so there at the bottom? So you see what I have to work with here?

I am at a crossroads - do I go with the curl and consider getting a body wave to bring some curl to the rest of my hair? This does scare me a bit, because I typically avoid adding body to my hair -the very thought of it really frightens me. Plus, I just don't know how well I'll do with curl. Or do I continue on the same path I've been on and instead just get a new hair cut (which I know I have to do anyway, I'm just not sure what I want).

Any advice or wisdom you can throw my way would be greatly appreciated! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Week at Grandma's

Last Sunday after our college reunion, Ella hitched a ride with some friends and headed out to Central PA to spend a week with my parents. Just to be clear, the hitching part did not involve her standing along side the road with a backpack or anything.

She spent the week going to my parent's church's Vacation Bible School.

While Ella spent time with her grandparents, I spent a few days just with Catherine. She seemed to enjoy being the only child and played quite well on her own. As a result, I enjoyed a relaxing few days until Catherine and I left on Thursday to join Ella at my parents. Ella was having a great time, but by this point she was feeling homesick at night so it was good timing for me to get there.

On Friday Catherine and got to go to VBS to see Ella sing up front in the end of the week program.

This was one of the few pictures I got where she was actually doing the motions. She was supposed to be in front of the older kids but somehow shuffled back and was distracted by the enthusiastic singers on her left and right.

One of the highlights of our trip was a bike ride around the neighborhood block -just under a mile. Catherine rode on the bike seat with her PapPap, Ella on her little bike with training wheels and me in the back, giving Ella directions, such as, "look straight ahead, look straight ahead, keep going, keep peddling!!"

They both enjoyed their ride (although it seems like Catherine didn't have the best view) and Ella was so proud of herself.

My dad decided to take another lap with Catherine and I didn't want Ella to go for fear that she'd tire out half way and get discouraged. She was so upset that she laid down in the driveway and cried.

While there we also enjoyed spending time at a nearby lake. It cost us a whopping $2/car (gotta love central PA prices) and we had an afternoon of fun. This summer the girls are having so much fun in the water - which makes it much easier to deal with the heat. The lake is so much fun for them because it's similar to being at the beach with the sand, but it's fresh water with very little waves so they can float and splash and walk out pretty far without any fear of being knocked over.

Don't you love the look of joy on her face?!

Ella loves her little tube from the dollar store. She can still touch -
I try not to let her use it as a real flotation device

A sweet picture with Nama, but in a few minutes they were about to have way too much fun trying to tip Nama over. I kept snapping in hopes of getting a shot of it, but she was able to fend them off!

Both Ella and Catherine loved the time they got to spend with both grandparents. I always laugh at the sort of activities Ella ends up doing with my dad. This week, she enjoyed helping him scoop up dog poop from the backyard. She was so excited to tell me how many piles they found - thankfully I've been able to erase the exact amount from my memory.

On Saturday afternoon we hoped to make it too the lake again, but the soccer game my dad was referreing ended up running late, so we settled for play time in the baby pool instead.

Looks like they made the most of it!
I came home with them Saturday night, thinking that they would be exhausted and either nap, or fall asleep as it got closer to their bed time. While the trip down with just Catherine was easy and peaceful (I actually listened to an audio book while she watched Maisy and then napped), adding Ella to the mix meant that it was anything but! We had to stop once for gas, once because she claimed the sound on the dvd player wasn't working and a final time to pee and then fill their bellies. A couple of times I thought they were close to sleep, but the next second I would hear them giggling. They made the four hour trip without sleepinga bit - so much for my plans!
Now life is back to normal and we're trying to stay cool during this heat wave. Tonight went over to friend's house swimming on the spur of the moment and ended up staying until after 8pm. The girls were floating and playing in the pool long after we were out and dried off. I think my children have had their fair share of water play these last few days!
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Monday, July 14, 2008

College Reunion

This weekend was one that I had been looking forward to for a long time. It was the one weekend a year that I get to spend with my dear friends from Grove City College. Last February (2007) the girls all got together for a spa weekend to celebrate our 30th birthdays. It was on that weekend that we decided that maybe we'd continue to get together just as women and make the whole family gatherings every other year.

It had been two years since we had had one of these large gatherings - Ella was two and a half and Catherine was maybe 10 months. It was definitely different, i.e., easier, to be there with four and half year old and an almost three year old.

As is expected, we were up way too late both nights. Isn't that the whole point of it? Lots of laughing and silliness - as Karen said, it was pretty much like we were back in college again. It's always so nice to catch up with these dear friends and as always, although we haven't seen each other in over a year, it's as if not a day has passed since we were last together.

On Saturday we all went to a lake and played in the sand and water. Some of us went out in paddleboats, canoes or kayaks. We took the girls in their first boat ride. It wasn't super exciting because, I know this may be surprising, paddleboats are pretty slow. I watched the canoes gliding gracefully by us and was a bit envious. But I imagine we would have ended up tipping it and the girls would have freaked out. As it was, Catherine freaked out a little bit when Matt faked a fall overboard. When the girls saw he was alright, she jumped in and joined him! (with a life jacket on, of course). After our lake play time and picnic we headed back to get the younger kids down for their naps and then the ladies all took a trip to the pool for some more sun, swimming and catching up.

That night after a yummy dinner and dessert (Happy Birthday Karen and Kate!), we played games and laughed some more over our lack of drawing abilities (mine at least - I got the point across in the most rudimentary way possible) through a few rounds of Who What Where. Then it was on to the Wii - tennis and boxing. True confessions - my arms were sore on Monday after three rounds of boxing. My advice to you should you ever Wii box is wisdom passed along by my friend Kate "don't laugh, it takes too much energy."

This weekend takes a lot of planning and then seems to go by way too fast and leave us all looking forward to the next one. I love how easily our kids all got along and enjoyed playing with each other. I hope we are laying the groundwork for connections that last for a long time (future Grovers perhaps??)

In order from l. to r. Owen and Carter Lee, Catherine deMontaigne, Nathan (on the ground) and Derek Sears, Will Britton, Cade and Jack Milinovich, Nadia Waclawski, Ella deMontaigne and Sarah Sears.

Many many fun and memorable moments over the course of the weekend, but some of my fave's are:

Playing Who What Where Saturday night. It's such a fun game - definitely recommend it if you enjoy games. I had some insane guesses (submarine, being hit by a car) when I got a bit overconfident and decided I didn't need to actually look at the picture too carefully (but, hey I still tied for first place - when I'm on, I'm on and vice versa).

All the little girls getting their nails painted by Kate (of course the color I had with me was RED) and the boys coming out and wanting in on the fun as well. If you could have seen the look on their dad's face...anyway Kate quickly scrambled and came up with painting three (or two?) nails and having them be special Spiderman fingers used for shooting webs. The next day Jack walked by me and I heard him say something about going to get his toes painted now - lucky for him I think that Greg was alright with that - hey, it's only paint, right! :)

As always, reminiscing about the stupid silly things we did in college. None of us were drinkers, but we often wonder what crazy things we might have done if we were. It's almost scary to think we could have been more bizarre!

Watching the guys hang out. As much as us girls make this happen and tend to communicate more, all the guys really enjoy being together and I think this weekend is something they look forward to as well.

Finally to the Devitis family - your absence was felt and we hope someday you'll be able to join us, but you're always there in spirit!

Now it's time to start planning our girls' spa weekend - way too much fun just thinking about it!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A Fourth of July Wrap Up

We've had a busy few days - baby showers, birthday parties, fireworks and more! Matt was scheduled to teach on Sunday - check out this post from Stuff Christians Like for the reason he was teaching over the Fourth of July. Anyway that just added to an already busy weekend.

Typically over a holiday weekend we don't have as much going on because we don't have extended family nearby like most of the people we hang out with, so in a way it was a nice change of pace to have a lot going on. The kids didn't seem to mind the late nights out (11pm one night, for girls usually in bed around 8pm) and we certainly didn't mind a few mornings of sleeping in.

We decided this was the year for the girls to watch fireworks. Last year we were going to but it was rainy and dreary all day so we opted out and stayed home. This year was different only in that we told them ahead of time about the fireworks, making staying home not an option. We had been at a party during the afternoon and came home around six to rest and regroup. While we were there is started raining. After looking online at the weather radar (gotta love that) we realized that, although it was a light drizzle, it would most likely last off and on all night. We got out our raincoats and headed out to meet up with some friends. This was around 8pm. Again - usually our bedtime. We hung around, hoping that Ella could be convinced to just stay there and watch the mini firework show their backyard. I think she was a bit turned off by the word "mini" and insisted we see the real thing.

Meanwhile we are driving the Honda because the van's inspection was up and our regular mechanic was on vacation. We piled four adults (Joe and Rachael in the front and me in the back) and two kids and drove a mile closer to the elementary school where we planned on watching the fireworks and then walked rest of the way. I was actually pushing everyone to get going, because the show was supposed to start at dusk and I thought that 8:45 was getting close.

At this point the rain had pretty much stopped and it was warm out so everyone was in good spirits. As soon as we found a spot on the field (basically the only ones in the middle of this big field - everyone else was huddled around the edges) I heard in the distance some music start playing. I remembered that a band was scheduled to play before the fireworks (we weren't .at the main site b/c we wanted to avoid the crowds, so it was hard to know what was going on). I also remembered that it was scheduled to start at 7pm. Hmmmm. And then it started raining a bit harder. We waited for almost an hour and half for the fireworks to start. Thankfully the kids were entertained by Joe and Rachael and a couple of our favorite Young Life kids - everyone (except me, I was dead set on keeping my spot on the tarp dry) ran around and dance and acted silly. The girls were entertained and running and having fun, but as we got closer to 10pm, Ella started to fade. Right before the fireworks started she was just flopped over on Matt's shoulder with her eyes closed. I felt like such a bad mom, out there in the rain with no umbrellas. I did have a flashlight, so I redeemed myself just a tiny bit.

Finally the show started and the kids were awed by the bright lights and big booms. Predictably, Catherine thought it was too loud and was ready to go home right away, but Joe and Rachael helped get her excited by naming the colors and the different patterns. Ella started out strong, but again, was fading fast with fatigue and cold. Before the finale I sent Matt back to get the car and drive it as close as possible. Joe held Ella and tucked her legs under his shirt to keep her warm (she was wearing a sundress! Mom points go waaaaay down for that one.) - very sweet!

All in all it was a great, albiet drenching, experience. Here are a few pictures I stole from Rachael's facebook album. They're all a bit blurry because....surprise, it was raining!

Us walking to the show - look how happy everyone is! The guy behind is Brendan, with his girlfriend Lisa (hidden behind Matt). Sorry that Ella is a bit cut out of the picture - trust me, she's happy at this point!
Still pretty dry. Still happy. Althought I'm not sure what that face is that Ella is making in the corner. She was in a silly mood.
Matt and Joe staying dry under their pretty umbrella!
Joe keeping Ella warm as we were walking home (he had an undershirt on as well so it wasn't weird!). I thought it was so sweet that he was willing to do what it took to help her have fun and not be miserable. Because we were on our way to misery as she got colder and tireder as night went on. We were blessed to have them with us (they weren't going to go but Ella asked them over and over to PLEASE come with us. Apparently the fam isn't enough these days) and let them practice their parenting skills (cuz they got mad skills!) on Ella and Catherine.

In closing, I hope you all enjoyed your Independence Days and were able to celebrate with friends and/or family.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Easy Meals

Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer is having a themed Works for Me Wednesday - Five Ingredients of Less. I wanted to weigh in to share a few of my favorites. I love when I have a recipe that is super easy and also really yummy.

Here are a couple that I hope you enjoy.

Cavatappi with Sausage and Tomotoes
This recipe was passed down to my from my friend Dawn who originally got it from our friend Tricia - just giving credit, where credit is due!

1 box of cavatappi pasta (I never can find it so I use other varieties - I like gemelli)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I'm sure you could be healthier and use the turkey variety)
2 cans diced tomatoes, Italian style which is seasoned with garlic, basil and oregano (you could always use regular tomatoes and add your own seasonings, but that takes away from the easiness of it)
1 cup of cream (you can use heavy or light - I prefer light)
1/4 cup white wine (cooking wine works if that's what you have).

Cook pasta according to directions. Cook sausage in a large pan and then drain the grease. Add the tomatoes, cream and wine and cook until heated. Then add the pasta and stir it all up.


Grilled Chicken Salad - Pittsburgh Style!
I grew up in Central PA and this is the only type of chicken/steak salad that I had. Moving to the Philadelphia area after college made me realize that this type of salad was a regional thing and if I wanted one like home, I had to make it myself. It might sound weird, but trust me - it's yummy!

Salad ingredients - whatever you like - I use basic stuff for this, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and maybe carrots and red onion, basically whatever we have.
Chicken breasts/tenderloins
Bag of frozen french fries - crinkle cut, steak cut, shoestring - your choice!
Cheese - again, your preference, I typically use cheddar.
Your favorite dressing - for this type of salad I use Italian.

*Preheat your oven and bake the french fries according to the package directions - usually about 20 minutes, so plan accordingly.
*Grab your George Foreman, salt and pepper your chicken and toss it on the hot grill (or use your outdoor one).
*Assemble the salad ingredients and then portion out into individual serving bowls or plates. This is a dinner salad so if you are using a measly little cereal bowl, there probably won't be enough room.
*When chicken is done, slice it up and place it on top of the salad. I would say that one good sized chicken breast is enough for two servings.
*Place hot crunchy (please cook them long enough so they aren't all mushy in the middle still) french fries on top of the chicken and quickly pile the cheese on so it gets nice and melty.
*Add the dressing of your choice and enjoy!

Let me know if you try any of these recipes. I'd love to hear if you like them. I may add a few more throughout the day, so check back in! In the meantime, head over to Rocks in my Dryer for more easy recipes.

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