Sunday, August 31, 2008

Times Are Changing

They say if you want your blog to be successful and read by a lot of people, you need to stick to one topic. I don't. I am way too diverse of a person for that so I will never have thousands of readers. Here is my disclaimer for this post: I am a political conservative, registered Republican, and I know what that means and even where I disagree with the Republican ideals. I don't vote for candidates because a union tells me to, I vote for a candidate based on my beliefs on what is best for my family and my country. I attended one of the most conservative institutions of higher education in America and hope I can afford the same school for my children and grandchildren. I understand the Democratic party's platforms; I just don't agree with them.

That said, I am ELATED over McCain's choice for VP (even though I still question why a VP choice is even that big of a deal), but not entirely because of her politics. I like Obama. I think he represents something new and fresh for this country. I just don't agree with how he would go about changing things. McCain is a nice change, more moderate for a conservative, but he represents "sameness" to me -- another white man running the country.

But now the election in November will make history regardless of who wins. We will either have our first female Vice President or our first non-white President. How cool is that? No matter who is inaugurated in January, we will celebrate a first as a nation and that is something to look forward to!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Homemade Toaster Pastries

I am not a fan of "pop tarts" or the like. I don't really care for the taste and one look at the nutritional label on the side of the box sends me running whenever I contemplate purchasing them.

I ran across this post for a homemade variety this morning. They look delicious! I am also thinking you could stuff them with eggs, veggies, etc for a heartier breakfast. I don't see why you couldn't make them the night before and then just pop them in the oven in the morning. Or make them, freeze them, and re-heat in the toaster oven. Pie crust is not exactly a "light" recipe, but still better than all those "I can't pronounce" chemical ingredients in the store bought brands.


We made it! Phew. I don't plan on traveling alone with small children again anytime soon. It was great to be in Michigan with my family, but it's also great to be home again. For instance, my parents have a beautiful 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath, 3 level home that they built in 1990 (or so). I constantly struggle with our "small" living space (a 900 sq ft apartment). Let me tell you -- I have never been so happy to NOT have stairs to march up and down all day long. Right now I am extremely thankful for my tiny living space!

I am also thrilled to see my husband again. Nothing like three weeks away to make you really appreciate that man in your life!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


One thing we do not get a lot of in Vegas is rain so when it started raining yesterday morning, Ella headed outside to play.


While we were in Traverse City, Ella perfected swimming on her while in a life vest. She is now a very independent swimmer!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Back to Life as Normally Scheduled

We just spent a few days "Up North" in Traverse City, MI with my parents and my aunt. My parents rented a condo at a resort and we basically hung out for 3 days or so. Ella got to swim, I got to eat fresh lake perch, and dad got to golf. Everyone is rested!

Ella and I have a few more days in Michigan before we head back to Vegas. I am not looking forward to the flight or to the weather (although it should start cooling off a bit now). I am looking forward to seeing my hubby after a 3 week absence!! I didn't think I would miss him this much, but then the last time we spent more than a few nights apart we got engaged the minute we were both back in the same place again.

I also have to get back to meal planning. I am not feeling sick anymore from the pregnancy, but I don't really have much energy to cook or think about food. I ran across this neat little website today called e-Mealz. For $5/month they will send you a menu with 7 dinners and a shopping list based on the store sales (Wal-Mart, Kroger, etc) or nutrition plan (low fat, WW Points, etc) you chose. I still think I can do a menu for a cheaper bottom line, but to be able to print out a shopping list and hand it to my husband....hmmm....I'm thinking for this period of late pregnancy and then a new baby in the house, this may be the thing that keeps us from getting take out and busting our budget.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


I had two wonderful and completely unexpected surprises this weekend. The first was the arrival of my dear friend, Stephanie, and her newest addition, Abby (3 weeks old!) who flew in from Kansas to visit Abby's great-grandmother. Ella knows a good thing when she sees it and fell in love with Baby "Babby" and her mama! This was Ella's first time meeting both of them.

This morning I meandered downstairs to find this:

A surprise birthday celebration! My birthday is exactly one month from today and my sister decided I needed a party now since I'd be back in Vegas on the actual date. We had a party with my mom's infamous carrot cake and everything. I even got a Faith Hill CD.

Baby Abby managed to sleep through most of it. She did wake up to get her picture taken with us, though.

One of my best friends from high school, Erin, made the two hour trip north with her husband and two sons.

And even my sister's in-laws made the hour and a half drive south to meet Ella and celebrate. That's Karen (not to be confused with my sister Karin) and Matt (my bro-in-law).

Thanks to everyone for coming and to my mom for cooking!!


Another new addition to the activities in Mason County, Michigan is an Elk Ranch. The ranch hosts an Elk BBQ every Saturday night. We had Elk burgers with corn and it was delicious. Ella loved playing in the dirt and on her first John Deere (Uncle Matt was so proud!). I tried to get a picture of her filthy face....

Out and About in Michigan

I swear, there wasn't this much to do around here when I was a kid! We've been to music festivals, "Friday Night Live", museums, and lots of parks. Just a few snapshots:

A children's museum, called Sandcastles, recently opened in my hometown -- a wonderful addition to this beautiful community! Ella had a good time playing in the model Pere Marquette River and in the cool tree house.

Riding in an appropriate boat on the "Baby Badger" train, playing with chalk and bubbles at the aforementioned "Friday Night Live" in downtown Ludington.

Wearing Aunt Karin's heels in James Street Plaza during lunch.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Babcia's Pool

Ella helping fill up the pool in Babcia's backyard. She fell in love with the hose.

Bounce House

The city of Ludington, Michigan hosted "Friday Night Live" this summer in their downtown area. All of the activities (except food) were free. We were lucky enough to be around to catch the very last one. This was Ella's first time in a bounce house and she LOVED it!


Flipping Out

I (or we) have been using my new Flip Ultra Video cam pretty much on a daily basis since Ella and I arrived in Michigan. I finally got around to downloading some video today and they should be up soon. Most of our videos are around a minute -- many of them even less than that. Boring to watch and kind of disjointed. But the Flip offers a built in software that allowed me to put all the little snippets together in to a 10 minute DVD -- with music! All I had to do was select the videos I wanted and 10 minutes later I have a fun montage of our visit so far. What a great tool for those of us that take small videos! I can't seem to download the movie mix directly to the computer, though. I think I need to take it to CVS or somewhere similar to burn a DVD of it. I can download the straight videos to a computer and burn a DVD from there. We just have to get to Meijer to get some blank DVDs.

So far I can't recommend this video camera enough, especially to parents (and grandparents)! Even my mom and dad have used it -- and they tend to shy away from their own high end video camcorder because of all the "confusing" buttons!

Back to uploading video....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Still Love Southwest

Well, we made it to Michigan about a week ago -- one day later than expected. Thank You, yet again, Northwest Airlines. Our flight left Vegas late and we pulled in to Memphis to connect to our flight to Grand Rapids, MI, about 20 minutes late. After running from one end of an extremely crowded airport to another, we arrived at our gate to find the door closed and the plane taking off. Ok, inconvenient, but book us on a later flight. Turned out there weren't any until the NEXT DAY. Yes, they put us up in a hotel and fed us. But I am 5 months pregnant traveling with a toddler. I just want to get to my destination.

Here is my rub: every single airport in the U.S. is assigned a "legal connection time". Airlines can only sell connecting flights with this connection time. When I booked the flight to Michigan and saw a 40 minute connection in Memphis, I wasn't worried because I know the rule -- Memphis must have a 40 minute legal connection time. Yet every agent I spoke to told me that 40 minutes wasn't near enough time to connect. I should never have been sold that ticket. I feel that Northwest owes me more than an inconvenient hotel stay. The laws say they don't have to give me anything -- they just have to get me to my destination. Nice, huh?

In addition to that fiasco, I found the NW crews to be unhelpful and rude. When we traveled Southwest in June, the crew went out of their way to help us with the kids -- checking all the time to see if we needed anything. Southwest offered drinks with tops and straws for the kids. Northwest didn't have them (I asked). The Southwest crew offered drinks at least three times during a 4 hour flight. The Northwest crew offered them once and water once. Snacks on Southwest are free, but start at $3 for a bag of M&Ms on Northwest.

Unfortunately, Southwest only flies in to Detroit -- 4 hours from my parents and it is not direct so we rarely fly them here. But after last week's terrible flight, I'd rather spend an extra few hours in the car than deal with Northwest's incapability to treat customers well.

Videos from the past week can be found on my sister's blog -- I'm still trying to recuperate from the trip!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

We Are Outta Here

Ella and I are heading to a cooler climate on Tuesday -- the blessed shores of Lake Michigan -- for a three week vacation with my family. With Mitch starting band camp and then school (meaning he'll be gone at least 12 hours a day), it is the perfect time for Ella and I to get out of the heat and enjoy the best weather Michigan has to offer. I haven't been to Michigan in the summer in four years and I have been counting down the days. Don't worry -- I am taking the camera cord with me (and the Flip Camcorder) this time!


Dinner tonight was a blast from my past! We have a gigantic bag of potatoes I have been trying to use up so I went perusing and ran across this recipe for Irish Boxty, basically a potato pancake (thicker than latkes).

I first had boxty at an Irish pub in Ann Arbor, MI
where I would hang out with friends after work many moons ago. The pub serves their boxty with pesto mayo and veggies (mainly peppers). That is how I made ours this evening (I just mixed pesto and mayo together to dip in). On-line I discovered that boxty is mainly a breakfast dish, which would explain why I never did find it on a dinner menu in Ireland!

This recipe hit the spot and brought back a lot of fond memories. It is also extremely inexpensive to make and very filling. We fried up some bacon first in my iron skillet and then fried the boxty up in the bacon grease. Worked perfectly! We doubled the ingredients as given and have plenty of left overs.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I Love You, Chuck!

Yesterday afternoon was a bit stressful around here (I'll spare you the details) and dinner was all but forgotten until it was too late to make it (meaning we were starving and needed to eat NOW). It is really hot outside so Ella has been stuck indoors a lot (this is our "winter" time of indoor activity) and is pretty antsy. We needed somewhere to go where she could play -- and I'm sick of hanging at McDonald's! I suddenly remembered our long, lost friend, Chuck E. Cheese.

Chuck E. Cheese is a grandma treat around here so we usually go with her when she is in town. After last night, we'll be back more often! We got a large pizza, one drink (free refills so we share) and all you can eat salad for under $25. Twenty free tokens (from the CEC Birthday program for Ella) lasted us almost 2 hours. Ella wore herself out, I got to sit and do nothing, and Daddy played video games. I don't usually like to spend quite that much on dinner out, but I never, ever feel ripped off at Chuck E. Cheese. For me, it is money well spent on a fun evening out.

As an aside you don't have to purchase food -- you can just go and play games (but you need to buy tokens). We may take advantage of that until the weather breaks. I forgot my camera so the pic above is a year old. And our crisis seems to have worked itself out.... so we're back to chicken piccata for dinner tonight.

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