Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Lemon Juice
Brown Sugar

No recipe or measuring needed anymore because I've made it so many times.  Each week it tastes a bit different depending on what I have on hand or want to try.  Last time I added a splash of vanilla and really enjoyed the flavor.  
Just slice, peel, add, stir, and let the apples break down in your crock- pot for a few hours until it looks *just right*.

I like to wait until late in the afternoon to start my batch. That way, come supper time, I can spoon some into bowls while the slices are still holding their shape and we have a nice side dish.  After dinner I mash and break up the left over apple goodness into the consistency I like.  Sometimes I leave it chunkier than other times. I carefully spoon this mixture into a quart jar and let it cool before putting it into the fridge.  Then we have applesauce to enjoy all week long. My youngest would eat the whole jar in one sitting if I let him.  It's just that good!  

One week it might be sweeter or more tart depending on if I throw in a few extra varieties that batch. I typically use either McIntosh or Empire for the base and then add any extras to that. 

Never disappoints!  The added bonus... the wonderful aroma left stirring through the house all night and into the next morning.  

Do any of you make your own applesauce? 
Any special ingredients you've used to give it a kick?
Please, do share...


Sunday, January 29, 2012

~Chinese New Year~

Derek's 2nd grade class celebrated the Chinese New Year with a week full of festivities ending with a parade on Friday.  Luckily, I was able to sneak in to celebrate with them, take some photos and videos, and also learn about some traditions and customs. 

Look who is peeking out on the right side!

Derek is 2nd in line with the red pants on.  You can see him peeking out on the side, again, if you look close.

Derek's teacher is the most wonderful, creative teacher I have ever met.  She not only educates, but makes it so exciting and full of adventure that the kids cannot help but learn while they are having fun.  I am pretty positive that when Derek is older, he will have numerous memories from this school year. 
It has been one to remember!

All of these Dragon's were in the display case at the front entrance of school.
Derek's symbol is the "MONKEY" for being born in 2004.

"Milk Carton" Dragons

Bookmark Reads:  BOY, GOOD, STRENGTH

~Happy New Year!~

Friday, January 27, 2012

~this moment~

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  
Inspired by  SouleMama 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Birthday Morning Tradition
Both boys have come to expect waking up to a doorway draped with colorful streamers.  This time, I decided to not only hang the streamers vertically, but horizontally also.  That way, the birthday boy has to rip out of his room in the morning and welcome in his new year. 
Last night, I heard my (then) 10 year old ask in a sleepy voice from bed, "I wonder if I'll have streamers on my door in the morning?"
He woke, now 11 years old, and quickly ripped through the green crepe papers to start off his day.
This is a tradition my boys have come to love and expect. 
And I enjoy it as much as they do.
Happy 11th Birthday, Austin!
(I had fun on our adventure tonight, too.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Life is full of adventures and surprises, happiness and sad times, ups and downs, wrongs and rights...

Some days you think you have all the answers while other days might have you feeling completely confused... 

You are a hard working, motivated, caring, very bright young man.

You are not afraid to try new things, make new friends, go new places, learn new topics... 

As your parents, we have taught you lessons and given you the tools to be successful.  It is our wish that you continue to use these in your years to come...however they may seem fitting.

So far, you have hit your target every time.
And while there are going to be bumps along the way, triumphs, lessons learned, mistakes made... 
Always remember...
We are so very proud of you.
 Even though you might not understand this now, someday you'll realize how you've also been teaching us this whole ride.

Monday, January 23, 2012

~zebra shades~

He'll be celebrating his 11th Birthday this week. 
This week I will celebrate him... our awesome Austin.

It's amazing what $7.00 can buy you.
He opted for these shades instead of Dippin' Dots at the museum.
I found him jamming to 90's music on Pandora radio,
new shades on,
hat turned to the side,
while cleaning up his room. 
At least he was cleaning up his room.

That's how he rolls....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

~this, too, shall pass~

It has been an emotional and trying past two days. 
Work deadlines. Sick child. Nursing home and hospital visits.

I've been lucky enough to get through these days thanks to: 
Husband.... I *heart* you... especially for "cooking" pizza tonight. And for caring for your little buddy.
Kids....Your hugs seem to help fade everything else away.
Mom... I'll never outgrow my need for you.
Co-worker/Friend... You are the only other person who can relate.

This, too, shall pass...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Tonight was a perfect opportunity for a Mommy Date...
a.k.a. "Adventure" in our family.
I think it is so important to have one-on-one time with your kids.  It doesn't have to be anything big or expensive... 
just togetherness and lots of fun! Something special that you don't do every day.  Something unexpected.
While Dad was with the big brother at baseball practice, Derek and I decided to hit Der Dutchman Bakery in the town we were in.  If you aren't familiar with this name, it is an Amish family restaurant that serves nothing but the best in homemade goodness.
And tonight, that came in the form of purchasing some doughnuts for tomorrow....  A dozen to be exact.

      We did have to split one up when we got home just to, "make sure they tasted OK".  Trust me... they are just fine.  The teachers will be treated in the morning when the boys share some at school.

We had 2 hours to kill, so we walked around the Carlise gift shop (attached to the restaurant) and found some really cool replica vintage toys and games. 
I couldn't help but pick up two of these Mr. Mystery books for the boys.  Anyone else remember spending hours decoding these pages with the invisible pen? 

Then we came across some of these Bingo Games to play with in the car. I had some of these as a child and remember playing them, on long road trips, in the back seat of our station wagon.

In a generation full of electronics, it's nice to introduce our kids to a few good-ol'fashioned games.
Chargers, plugs and batteries... not included!!

Next stop on our "Adventure": McD's.
The little guy wanted Mini-Cinnamon Rolls for a snack.  
Coffee for Mom.

We worked on homework, started the Mr. Mystery book, and watched out the window as the rain turned to snow.  We had a ton of fun just talking, catching up, sharing the events of the day, and listening fully to each other.

I recommend an "Adventure", of any kind,
at your earliest convenience.

Monday, January 16, 2012

~a kid-free day~

Both of the boys are off with friends today. 
One went to COSI, a Science Museum,
and the other is bowling. 

The house is quiet and we are taking it easy.
This was a much needed break from our everyday life.
For all of us.

Thank you, friend's parents. We owe you one!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

~through different eyes~

Lego Football:

My boys like to play with the Lego Mini-figures more than the actual Lego blocks these days.  I often find them playing what they like to call, "Lego Football".  They make up new plays, run them and then reset. I love to grab my camera to capture them playing together, using their imaginations, helping each other come up with new ideas, and just having fun.  

When I look back at my pictures I used to notice all the scratches in our one coffee table and think to myself how nasty they looked and how I needed to get them resurfaced someday soon.  That was, until I read a comment somewhere (wish I could remember where!!) that changed the way I see these pictures now.

Instead of focusing my attention on all of the nicks and scratches and marks all over this table and being concerned, I now see things through different eyes.  Each mark represents time spent together playing, sharing, loving, learning, fighting, creating.  I want my children to live in a home that lets them do exactly that.... be children

There will come a day when our hallways will not have little red paint marks where a football has been passed, our carpet will be spotless, our living room will not have toys scattered about, our garage will be in perfect order with all the bikes and balls put exactly where they go.  But that is not today. Or anytime soon.  


Friday, January 13, 2012

~what goes up... must come down~

Today is THE day.  
All of this holiday goodness will be packed back up and loaded into the shed.  The kids tried to convince us to just leave the Christmas decorations up all year.  Tempting as it sounds, when they arrive home from school today they will see a cleared out house.

My little one will probably be the most upset. 
He still has that *sparkle* in his eyes, weeks after Christmas....
a look I'll savor forever.
It's all about making memories.
The fun part is knowing that in November we will be pulling those boxes back out and making NEW ones.

It's time to get busy and carefully wrap up and tuck away our favorite Santa's, handmade ornaments, nativity set, advent calendar, and stockings.  They will sit patiently through the seasons until, once again, we will find ourselves unwrapping this magical goodness. And that *sparkle* will return. 

(Derek requested and will be happy to find 
that I'm leaving the mistle-toe up.  Who says we can't sneak kisses year round?!?!)               

Thursday, January 12, 2012

~sweet as syrup~

As the school bus pulls away in the morning
and I walk back inside,
I can't help but let my heart swell
when I notice the syrup message
my younger son has left for me on his plate. 
What a sweet boy, that Derek is!

Friday, January 6, 2012

~take me out to the ball game~

Being a mom of two boys is the most wonderful gift ever. 

I had two brothers and always played sports with them and the neighborhood boys as a child.  My mother says I had a golf club in my hand from the time I could walk.  When we weren't on the course, we often hit the tennis court for fun.  In the summer you would find us either swimming at the pool or water skiing at a nearby lake. Winter shifted us onto the beautiful white slopes skiing.  Every season we were active doing something.  

The same thing holds true with our family of four now.  Wrestling, basketball, football, and baseball fill our calendars throughout the year.  We enjoy other sports, also, as our schedules allow.

Baseball seems to be the one sport that is a common passion in our family~ both playing and spectating.  Our older son has his first indoor practice tonight and it will mark the beginning of a new chapter in his life.  He will be on a new travel team this year and is really excited for this opportunity.  Austin has big, BIG, dreams.... he's very competitive and passionate.... and I LOVE that about him.  There is nothing stopping this boy!

My mind swarms with thoughts of visiting new ball parks, feeling the hot sun warming my back through the lawn chair, the smells of grass & soil, tasting the oh-so-salty-popcorn and hearing my son decide what color Gatorade he'll choose, the sound of a bat cracking, and the cheers from spectators. 

I will always be your #1 FAN, Austin....
in baseball and in life.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

~clumpy icicles~

The icicle lights were purchased the year my husband and I got married. We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary last month.... the same month that these lights actually came out of their boxes and were hung on our home. Better late than never!

I'll contribute our final light display to the following: a combination of very cold weather, scrunched up lights that had been in their boxes for a *very* long time with baggie ties tightly wound, day light slowly fading to night, and the fact that my husband does not like heights.
You can see in this picture that our lights (on the right) actually ended up matching our neighbor's. That is, except for the fact that theirs hung down like icicles typically do.
I found myself frustrated with the fact that our lights didn't look like they were "supposed to". I may have been guilty of voicing these opinions out loud, too. I'd peek out the window and look next door and see their lights hanging down and look up at ours and they were not.
But after a few days of pulling into our driveway and really paying attention to the way the lights illuminated our home, I began to think about how, in life, sometimes things don't always turn out the way we think they should.
Our lights may look different, but that's OK.

I love my clumpy icicles
and everything they represent.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

~twenty twelve~

As my youngest would say,
"Who matters?"......
Last year brought many changes for our family: new job for myself, "middle school" for our oldest, new ball teams, but most of all a new outlook on life. I have been guilty for a very long time of letting what other people think about me effect my every day life.... to the extreme. This very time last year I was online daily searching for a new job, wondering what the future was going to hold, and worrying about small things that really didn't matter at all. I found comfort in reading blogs from other women who inspired me, taught me, and made me realize that I needed to appreciate more of the smaller things in life. I am continually putting into action what I have learned from them. I am grateful to these women... all of whom to which I am just an "Anonymous" reader. I have continued to follow a handful of blogs daily, all of which I have NEVER posted a comment, never voiced my opinion, feelings, or gratitude towards. I feel as though it is my time to enter this online world and introduce myself to these people who I have never "met". This will be my space to share. Thank you...for inspiring me every day.
And to answer my son's question.......
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