Playdate with Buddies

Saturday was a beautiful, warm, breezy day. We got up too late to make it to the gym, but the kids and I did manage to do some yoga together using a video from the library that we got for Julie. They really liked it–even Everest. Of course, flexible Julie could do all the moves. The stretches were great for me.

For lunch, we met up with Joy and her family at Chipotle. The kids always love getting together. I was hoping we could have made it up to their house over spring break, but it didn’t work out. At least we got to see them at all! After lunch, we hit the park.

Big sisters pushing their little brothers on the swings.

Mom and daughters pictures. XD

They had to take off after the park, which was kind of sad. Our visits are never long enough. But I am thankful for the time we had together. I took the kids home to rest for a little bit, then we were off to Lowe’s to get a new screen door. It’s been literally years since we have had a screen door in the patio. I love wandering around a store like Lowe’s. The smell of cut wood, all the shiny nuts and bolts and appliances… The kids had fun pretending they were trapped inside the model showers.

Thinking back, I realized that a few weeks before the 2007 CleanPlace Moot, I got fed up with the awful state of our screen door. It had been scratched up by the cats, run into by kids, and generally bent out of shape. I just ripped it off its tracks and put it out with the trash, unwilling to give such a bad impression to the teens and moms who only knew me online, who I would be meeting for the first time ever. Anyway, it’s been ages now, and it is lovely having a screen door again! (Picture to come later.)

I took the kids to the Arc for a surprise since they were relatively patient through the whole screen door saga. (Which was unpleasant enough that I am attempting to blot it from my memory.) The store has a 50% off sale every Saturday, so it’s one of the best days to go. The kids always have fun sifting through everything. I found a boxed set of all the Lord of the Rings books (including The Hobbit) for only $3.50. Now I can actually make an attempt at reading them.

We had dinner next door at Subway, always a healthy favorite for the kids. By time we got home, Heath was back from teaching a class up north all day. He helped get the kids in bed, and the rest of the evening is rather a blur to be honest. What a crazy busy week it was!

On the Go-Go

I am ashamed of the places I had to take my kids last Friday. Heath had to work all day in prep for a class he was teaching on Saturday, but I had a couple of appointments to keep and errands to run. My solution? Meet with the people in McDonald’s, where the kids could run around and play while I conducted business or chatted. For shame, for shame. Hey, at least we didn’t eat junk every time we went.

The first appointment was scheduled for 9:30 in the morning. I am finally doing some actual, paid advertising for my writers groups, and the sales rep could only meet Friday morning. (Of COURSE.) We got there slightly early after rolling the kids out of bed, and they got to have some breakfast and play while I met with the guy.

We then hit the gym, where they ran around in the Kids Club, and I got to workout. Looking back, I think it is the fact that I worked out at all that day that got me through the next several hours. After the gym, we went to my mom’s for lunch.

With that visit concluded, we rushed back up north to meet with Eclectic Elegance (EE), one of the girls from Cleanplace. EE and I have been trying to get together since around Christmas! When the opportunity arose, we had to pounce. We met at a different McDonald’s this time, though the kids found the play area unimpressive. 😛 “Too small” was their main complaint.

Even though the play area was seemingly sub-par, they still made friends and enjoyed running around. They both really loved talking to EE sporadically too. Julie was quite taken with her, as she and EE ended up having quite a bit in common. Everest was so tired from all the activity though, he was at his very last frayed rope ends by time we left.

The kids were completely and utterly spent by time we got home. They were fairly incorrigible. I made Everest get in the shower to calm down and heated up some soup for their dinner. Heath arrived back at home around the time we were eating. He invited me to go ahead and leave right away, but I was pretty tired as well. I laid down in bed for about 30 minutes with my eyes closed and slightly dozing before getting up and taking off for Panera to meet up with Legolas.

We had another creative night, which was quite fun, and also did some catching up on everything that had been going on over the last week. It’s always a fun time, getting together with Legolas, especially when we are doing creative things together.

Spring Break Madness

Hey, look at that–I’m only a week behind now. Woot!

Last Monday, Spring Break started for the kids. Sadly, they were at each others’ throats first thing in the morning. It was not a good day. I was already wishing school was back in session. 😛 It didn’t help that Everest was still feeling sick. I went ahead and made a doctor’s appointment for that afternoon. We spent the day pretty much trying to keep everyone from killing each other, then went to the doctor’s office.

We had to wait a ridiculous amount of time for the physicians assistant to come see us, leaving the kids nothing to do but entertain themselves, which they did quite nicely until they got too loud. Then we played the whispering game…

The P.A. checked him out, then started talking about swollen glands and red tonsils, and in my mind, all I could think was, “Please, not tonsillitis!” In the end, it was decided that his illness was merely viral and that we could treat his cough with some over-the-counter syrup. Easy peasy.

Tuesday, Julie was scheduled to go to her friend S.’s house for a sleepover. Incredibly, S’s mom wanted to have all the girls (including Julie’s friend M) over at 11:00 a.m. That is one brave woman. She also has two other daughters and a baby on the way. Whew! Julie spent the morning packing and waiting anxiously until we could leave.

After dropping her off, Everest and I met Corrie and A. at the park so they could play. They both actually got worn out pretty quickly, thus bringing us to lunchtime and a good rest at home. Later in the afternoon, Corrie invited us to come by her house to let the boys play. I stayed and chatted with her in the kitchen. We had a really good conversation–one that I very much needed.

That night, I went to help my mom out at her store because my dad was out of town. It was a slow night, but it was a great chance to actually get to talk to my mom without the interruptions of little voices. She made curried noodles (Lad Nah) for me. I had never had it before; it was so delicious!

Wednesday was a busy, busy day for work. I knew that Thursday would be unbearably busy, so I had to try to make up for it the day before. We picked up Julie from the sleepover, then went straight home. The kids relaxed and were a bit less inclined to murder one another that day–always a bonus. I helped my mom at the store again that night.

Thursday, Everest had a birthday party to attend at Mr. Biggs, Julie had a playdate, and I had to print the magazines then meet with the collating team. Somehow, everything got done.

The kids started out the day by making a tea party for the three of us. Their snacks are always…quite sweet, shall we say. But their thoughtful sentiments were sweeter still. <3

We took Julie to her playdate at Marla’s house, then headed to Mr. Biggs for the party. The group was easy to find. Everest played with a few of his friends, but mostly, he shot foam balls from the air cannon.

When we got back, I finalized some stuff with the magazine. By time I finished, Heath was back from class and Julie had returned from her fabulous playdate. I rushed to the church to get the printing started and the last sheets came out only a few minutes after the volunteers arrived for the Collating Meeting. Whew!

With all the work out of the way, I wanted to finally get to catch up with Puella. I hadn’t seen her the last Friday because she was out skydiving for the first time. Wow! Needless to say, I had to hear all about it and get an update on life. I picked her up after leaving the church, and we went to Old Chicago for a few hours.

By time I got home, everybody was sleeping. I was very quick to join them after I wound down a bit.

What a Weekend!

Saturday, March 24, we had a lot of things to accomplish. The library was having their first ever Countdown to Kindergarten Carnival. After doing some housecleaning and packing a picnic lunch, we went to the library to check it out. This event was wonderful! They had stations set up for five different categories: reading, playing, writing, listening, and talking.

Every station had an activity that promoted each of these areas for kindergarten readiness. Everest absolutely loved it! And even though the whole event was geared toward preschoolers, Julie still had fun too. At the end, they both got to choose a brand new picture book!

We stopped by my parents’ to pick up a vacuum (ours has been broken for ages), then headed home for a quick respite before our next stop. Julie saw that her friend J was outside playing and asked if she could come with us on the next leg of the journey. After much pleading, I acquiesced and allowed her friend to join us at the zoo.

We had our late picnic lunch over by the giraffes, then set off to see what we could see in the last hour or so that the zoo was open.

On the way home, the girls plotted how they were going to get their moms to let them have a sleepover. Well, it didn’t take a whole lot of convincing. I had wanted to leave for the evening to write or work or something, but I noticed that Julie was most excited about taking J to church in the morning. How could I tell her no when she was so excited to share her Sunday school class? So I stayed home and let J come spent the night. We had her go home first for shower and dinner, just as Julie had to get hers done too.

She came back around 7:30. The girls watched a movie, ate popcorn, jumped off the futon several times, then settled down to sleep on the futon downstairs. I read them a couple chapters from the book I’ve been reading to the kids, and I think J enjoyed the whole day and evening overall.

Sunday morning, March 24, I took the girls to church because Everest and Heath had some business to attend to. J seemed to like the class, and we told her that of course, she was welcome to come with us anytime. She’s only two doors down after all! The girls had just enough time to do manicures and pedicures before J had to go home.

Needless to say, the rest of the day’s activities kind of paled in comparison to the excitement of the weekend. I went to the gym, which was lovely to do so on a Sunday early evening. Then I went to Panera for awhile to work on writing. It was a nice way to end the busy, busy weekend.

End of the Week Rush

Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, March 21-23, were busy as usual. I’m finding it harder to actually get concentrated time to work when I have to stop in the middle of the morning to get Everest four days out of the week. Usually, I would get Tuesdays and Thursdays to work at the church for six hours or so, which helped motivate me on the other days when there was less time. But not anymore, since we are trading Heath’s work hours to the daytime. Guess it’s another adjustment that must be made for the time being.

On Thursday, we had lunch at Nana’s store after Everest’s school day. I had pad Thai for a change. Delicious! Friday, Everest decided that painting in his coloring book was a great way to keep busy while I worked upstairs.

Late Friday afternoon, I went to the church to test out a touchscreen kiosk that the church had me set up. It worked pretty well, and I think I’d gotten all the kinks worked out by time I left. It’s so nice to see the fruits of your labor on display. I made the sign above the kiosk station as well as the logo on the actual kiosk and the information site accessed through the touchscreen.

That evening, I met up with Legolas at Panera for a creative night. She had her chalk and paper and was working on a drawing for a Batman t-shirt contest. I brought all my bits and pieces to work on robots for my Etsy store. We were quite a sight with all our weird stuff spread out everywhere, let me tell you! Two ladies even came up to us to ask what we were doing.

Busy Start to the Week

Sunday, March 18, we had our regularly scheduled dates. However, while Julie and I were at the mall, I got a call from Heath, saying that he unexpectedly had to drive up to Lakewood before the end of the day. He was going to finish what he was doing with Everest, then drop him off at the mall with us.

Julie received a Claire’s gift card from my mom and was anxious to spend it. We looked at earrings for a long time, but got the text from Heath that he and Everest were going to be there in a few minutes. We hurried to the drop off point to get him, bid Heath goodbye, then headed back to Claire’s. Everest was pretty good about not taking everything off the shelves and hooks. Julie got her first ear cuff, which she thought was so cool. We got pretzels afterward, then headed to the play area.

The kids had a fantastic time having an extended time to play there. I happily sat on the sidelines, listening to an audiobook version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I recently discovered that I can easily checkout quite a few titles (especially classics) from the library. They download to my iPod through an app, and delete after the checkout period. Very awesome indeed. I’ve found that I can stomach classical writing much easier through verbal narration than actually looking at all those semi-colons and lack of action tags.

Monday, March 19, after school, we headed to the library to pick out some new books and movies for the week. That evening, I went to Village Inn just to get out of the house and get some things done. Heath started teaching days that week, keeping him home in the evenings for dinner. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 20, we had busy day, which usually ends up meaning that we eat out for dinner. In fact, we ate in, getting Subway and bringing it home to dine while we watched a movie from the library.

Party Weekend

Thursday, March 15 was fairly chill and extremely productive. I had my morning meeting, then went to pick up Everest from school. I worked downstairs, tackling my to-do list for the remainder of the afternoon, and Everest had fun painting and coloring. Here’s a better picture of our new futon.

Funny story, I mentioned that we got a new futon to Elraen, who has visited us on multiple occasions, and she said, “It’ll be weird to sleep on a different futon.” (Than our old one that we have had for years.) Later, I mentioned our new furnishing to Midget, who said about the same thing, adding, “Goodbye, memories.” XD I find this highly amusing that they were going to miss our old futon because they spent so much time on and around it. Luckily, we still have both futons, so the memories will live on!

I’ve often wondered about that, as I have had many CleanPlace girls back for the Moot and other visits year after year. When they see that we have had the same shower curtain for three years in a row, do they think, “Yay–something familiar!” or do they think, “I can’t believe this is the same shower curtain”?

QUESTION: Do you find comfort when things stay the same year to year? Or do you thrive on change? Answer in the comments!

Julie had a playdate after school with Marla and her girls. When they came back, we all had dinner together–chicken and dumplings. All the kids played for a little while while Marla and I chatted at the kitchen table. We always dive deep into the big issues whenever we talk, which is so weird because we actually rarely see each other! It’s nice to have a friend like that though.

Friday, March 16, I made a great effort at finishing my to-do list–always a satisfying endeavor, especially if you cross off your list items with Sharpie. Everest was feeling a little under the weather, causing him a long day of just trying to relax a little. Of course, he didn’t want to relax one bit.

That evening, I went to a homeschool competition to judge the artwork. I’ve done this for the past two or three years, thanks to my connection to Legolas’ mom and her homeschool group. It’s lots of fun, and I got to see Legolas and her family there. The artwork was amazing as usual, and I even saw a piece that one of the girls from my writers groups submitted.

Saturday, March 17, we planned to have Julie’s birthday party. Unfortunately, due to a combination of an error on my part and Julie not getting to hand out all her invites, only two of her friends actually knew about and could come to her party. I had talked to Julie about it the day before, saying that we could wait until the next week, and she could have a bigger party, but she insisted that having her two best friends from school would be plenty enough.

I had baked the cake part the night before, but it still needed to be decorated. The kids watched me make marshmallow fondant for the first time (which was surprisingly easy), then helped decorate the cake. Julie mostly advised where everything should go and helped place sprinkles. Everest took pictures and got into the frosting when we weren’t looking.

The first part of the party took place at a nearby McDonalds to allow the girls a chance to run around like maniacs. Thankfully, they did include Everest in the games, and all four of them were sweaty messes after a couple hours of chasing and hiding and yelling and giggling and all the things that happen in a play place.

Julie’s friend S had to leave after the McDonald’s part because she is allergic to cats and can’t come to our house. That left M to come over, and it was just the two of them for the rest of the party time. My parents stopped by as well as Heath’s mom. We had cake and snacks, and the kids watched a movie. They were pretty exhausted after all the running around.

Happy 9th Birthday, Julie!

Here I go again. Getting behind. Will life slow down at some point prior to retirement? I really hope so…

Monday, March 12, was Julie’s birthday. She had to go to school, yes, but she actually didn’t mind much. We had done a lot of celebrating over the weekend, and that probably made up for it. Also, it didn’t hurt that I had made individual cheesecakes to bring to her class that day.


In the evening, I got started on some taco fixings and sugared fruit for a special birthday dinner. Heath’s mom came by to join us, which was a rare treat! We gave some gifts, one of which was a craft set to make a jewelry box. Perfect for all her new earrings! Julie went to bed a very, very happy girl.

Tuesday, March 13, we stopped by my mom’s store after school so my mom could see Julie. Everest and I get to go by there quite a lot, but with the school schedule, homework, and an early bedtime, Julie rarely does.

When we went home, Julie suddenly decided that she wanted to move her desk to the nook we’d cleared out in her closet. That kept them busy all the way until dinner.

After Heath put Everest down (and fell asleep with him), I went ahead and took Julie with me to the gym. It would be a more hurried workout, but at least she would have something more fun to do than put herself to bed. While there, I decided on a whim that because Julie had moved her desk up, we now had room for a new futon that my parents have been trying to get us to take. My dad was available to drive it over to our house that night, so we got a new piece of furniture! That night, I also got together with Legolas, though I can’t remember exactly what we did…

Wednesday, March 14, was rather uneventful (as far as I can remember), except that the HOA sent a guy out to fix our fence gate. Wahoo! I also got a nice picture of Julie and her best friend M on the walk home from the bus stop.

Super Simple Cheesecake

I can hardly believe that I don’t have this recipe posted on this blog. It is THE most requested recipe of anything I have ever made. My mom passed it onto me years ago, but I have no idea where she got it from or if it’s something she made up herself. Either way, now it is yours too.

Super Simple Cheesecake
1 8 oz. block cream cheese
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 C. white sugar
1 Tbsp. white flour
Vanilla wafers

Topping Choices:
Serve plain or with a canned fruit pie filling of your favorite variety. We invariably use cherries. Recently discovered that Magic Shell is marvelous when drizzled across the top of chilled cheesecakes.

Bring the cream cheese to room temperature. By the way, neufchâtel works wonderfully. Combine cream cheese and sugar in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) until smooth. Add in eggs and vanilla; beat until combined. Sift in flour. And yes, sifting is necessary or you may get lumps. If you don’t mind lumps, then do what you like. ;o)

Place cupcake papers in a muffin pan. Put one vanilla wafer in each paper, flat side down. This serves as a crust. Clever, eh? (I have also made real graham cracker crust and pressed it down with the bottom of a plastic cup. Creates a scrumptious result!) Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way full. You may have some leftover.

For best results, bake at 325 for 30-35 minutes, then turn off the oven, prop the door open, and let the pan sit in the oven for another 20 minutes. If you’re in a hurry, you can bake them at 350 for 13-15 minutes, but you may get some unsightly cracks on the top. (Which matters not when you’re covering with pie filling anyway.)

Allow the cheesecakes to cool completely–preferably in the fridge overnight–before adding topping. This ensures that they have set properly before taking the weight of any fruit. Also, they just plain taste better cold.

As a side note, this recipe doubles fabulously, so feel free to be the mom who breaks the cupcake mold and brings 24 cheesecakes to the class party instead. The teachers will thank you!

There–now I have a link to send to people who want my famous cheesecake recipe. Yay!