Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Party On, Class of '88!

I will be getting my party on this Saturday night at my high school reunion (20th!). I can't believe it has been 20 years! I have been feeling particularly OLD lately as I think the dad on the new 90210 is hot, rather than any of the younger guys.

I am looking forward to seeing lots of friends at the reunion and most importantly having a fun night out with my husband. We are staying overnight at the hotel where the reunion is being held. (Neither of us wanted to be The Designated Driver!)

Since we are now back living in the same town where I went to high school, JV knows quite a few people from my class, so I won't have to worry about him not having fun because he doesn't know anyone. Even if he didn't, he is very outgoing and extroverted and will talk to anyone.

I have been connecting with people from high school, college, and beyond for the past six months or so on Facebook. I had previously thought Facebook was for college kids and single people looking to hook up, but I was wrong. Everyone's on Facebook. Apparently, some people are on Facebook ALL the time, I don't know how they get anything else done.

Anyhoo, there is a Facebook group devoted to my high school class. Quite a few people have joined, and people have been posting memories, pictures, and other stuff. There have even been a few pre-reunion happy hours already, organized through Facebook (I haven't been able to attend so far; seems I always have some kind of conflict.) It's a great way to connect with people, so when I see them at the reunion I will already know a little of what's going on with them.

On Friday night our high school is actually having its' Homecoming football game. I would love to go and bring the family, but it's Halloween. There's no way we are missing trick or treat!

I think I have my reunion ensemble set, and miraculously it did not involve any shopping! I decided I would go through all my clothes to try to find something before I bought anything new, since my closets seem to be stuffed with clothes. I found some nice black pants, a cute black sequiny top, white jacket, silver chandelier earrings, and silver shoes. I think it will work. The dress code is not formal, so thankfully I do not have to wear a dress. Since the dress code at work was relaxed, I no longer wear skirts or dresses!

I have to clean my house since one of my friends is flying in for the reunion from Kansas City, also my mom will be staying at my house with the kids. I am so hiring a cleaning person when I go back to work!

Bummer - Value City is closing

Another retailer bites the dust and files for bankruptcy. Value City says it will close all their remaining stores. I was just at Value City late last week, and they were having a "As If We Were Going Out of Business" sale, with 10%-30% off everything in the store. Guess now they can cross out the "As if We Were".

While Value City does have some junk, they had some great deals too - I especially liked their shoe and toy departments. They also had an expansive big and tall mens' department, which is a rarity in our area. I will miss hunting through the racks for bargains there, and wonder which store will be the next victim of these tough times.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Yup, I smashed a car into a tree today. While driving the kids on rain-soaked and leaf strewn back roads to visit some family, coming out of a S-curve I lost control of JV's car, swerved off the road, and wound up lodged between 2 trees. No one was hurt. Diva and Daredevil were shaken up, but #3 didn't even wake up. The kids recovered fairly quickly from the scare and now think they have a good story to tell their friends at school on Monday.

So no injuries, but our Old Faithful, a '99 Toyota 4Runner, may likely never recover. It is MESSED UP. Lots of front body damage, tire gone, and front axle bent from the tow truck pulling it out. This has been JV's car since I got the full size SUV in '04, which he is using this weekend at a trade show. He has been planting the seeds about getting a new car, but we were going to try to wait at least another year. So much for that plan.

Luckily my parents were home and came to pick us up, since JV was at work a couple of hours away. To add to the fun, the state trooper handed my license back to me and said, "Ma'am, did you realize your license expired on 8/9/08?" Oops - I had no idea. #3 was born on 8/12, so I have been a little distracted. He was very nice though, and gave me a warning on that. So luckily I did not receive any tickets.

So, now we wait to see what will happen with the 4Runner and whether we have to get a new car. I need to pick up a rental car, get the 4Runner towed from the lot to the body shop, and go to the DMV to get my license renewed. I think the repairs will likely exceed the 4Runner's value, but we'll see. Darn thing was paid off, so if we get a new car, now we'll have a down payment car payment, which is something we didn't plan on while I'm on unpaid maternity leave. Ugh.

I'm trying not to think about that right now and be thankful my babies are OK - it could have been SO much worse.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sleeping through the Night: Cautiously Optimistic

Woo-hoo! Last night was the THIRD NIGHT IN A ROW that #3 slept straight from 11p.m. to 6:30 or 7 a.m.

She has usually woken up around 2 or 3 a.m. for a feeding, and I had adjusted to that. As long as I got at least one 3-4 hour block of sleep and at least one other 2 hour block, I could function. I am cautiously optimistic that we have turned a corner. I don't know what to do with myself, I feel so rested.

She is 10 weeks old now, and with my previous 2 I don't remember them sleeping through the night (and by sleeping through the night, I mean 5 or 6 straight hours) until 3-4 months old. With Daredevil, I remember going back to work at 4 months and still having to get up at night.

So, hopefully this will continue, especially since I will be leaving all 3 overnight with my mom for the first time on November 1 so JV and I can attend my high school reunion (20th, yikes!). My mom is a little nervous about watching all 3 overnight. Diva and Daredevil are delights when they are alone, but a perfect storm of bickering and physicality together.

This will be our first night out since the baby (and first time I will consume adult beverages in pretty much a year) so we are very much looking forward to it. I have no idea what to wear, though. The dress code is "business casual". Of course I know what that means for work, but for a social event? I have no clue. My guess is that it will include black pants and heels, but I'll have to shop for a top. I haven't really bought anything new (that's non-maternity) in the past year, so it's time to go shopping!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Delicious Pumpkin Mousse - a lower calorie alternative to Halloween candy

This is a yummy recipe I got a long time ago at a Weight Watchers meeting (1 point per cup!). It is very easy and good. Whip up some and keep it in the fridge to dig into when you are tempted to eat Halloween candy. You can also experiment with different flavors of pudding. (I have yet to try that. I'm a follow-the-recipe type of girl.)

Pumpkin Mousse
  • 1 15 oz.can solid pumpkin (not the pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 box sugar free, fat free vanilla pudding
  • 1 box sugar free, fat free butterscotch pudding
  • 2 cups cold milk
  • pumpkin pie spice, to taste
Combine ingredients in a mixer (I used my hand mixer), pour into bowl or other storage container and refrigerate. When serving, add Cool Whip (or Cool Whip Free if counting points) if desired. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another funny one

I didn't realize Sarah Palin also made a cameo in the Weekend Update portion of SNL. It's funny! Is that Sarah Palin's husband? If not, it looks just like him.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Doing D.C.

We spent the past weekend in Washington, D.C. JV won the weekend trip as recognition from his company. While families were welcome, the events planned were just for employees/spouses.

I originally wasn't going to go as I hadn't gotten a babysitter, but I decided to go at the last minute after considering my options: (1) stay at home all weekend alone with the kids, or (2) hang out in the D.C. Ritz Carlton (for free) with the kids, and have JV join us when he could. Wouldn't anyone choose option #2?

Diva and Daredevil had a blast, but I think #3 is glad to be back in her own crib after her first overnight trip. I had fun too - although I missed dinner at The Palm on Saturday night, I enjoyed ordering room service (I wasn't about to take a 6 year old, 8 year old, and 9 week old to a restaurant by myself) and took a most relaxing soak in the fabulous tub in our room after the kids fell asleep. I told JV I want to remodel our master bath to look exactly the same as the one in our room. The Ritz Carlton D.C. rocks.

Saturday we walked the National Mall and went to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. We had been there before, but we went again as that was what Diva and Daredevil wanted to do. Daredevil wanted to see dinosaurs, and Diva (of course) wanted to see the Hope Diamond.

Here's Diva riding the Metro, which is how we got around the city. Miss Independent wanted to sit in her own row. The Metro is very pleasant, clean, and cheap - the best way, I think, to get around in D.C.

Sunday we visited the Arlington National Cemetery. I had been there before also, but JV and the kids had never seen it. We watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. If you've never seen it, it's worth seeing. It's pretty awe-inspiring. Their precision is amazing, they make it look so effortless. It's also very solemn.

A bit of background: The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American Soldiers from World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) the Vietnam War (the Vietnam soldier's remains were exhumed and identified in 1998, and re-buried elsewhere. That portion of the tomb remains vacant). The Tomb is guarded 24 hours per day, 365 days per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry (known as the "Old Guard"). In the fall and winter, the guard changes every hour (in the spring and summer, every half hour). All spectators must remain silent the entire time they view the tomb, and must stand for the changing of the guard ceremony.

The Old Guard, one of the oldest and most respected Infantry Regiments in the United States Army, has the awesome responsibility of both guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns and escorting deceased Army servicemembers to their final rest in the "Gardens of Stone," as Arlington is sometimes called. The Old Guard is also the Army's official ceremonial unit and escort to the president, and it would provide security for Washington, D.C., in event of national emergency or civil disturbance.

Proud to bring you some American history today!

In Case You Missed It . .

Very funny . . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Cajun-Seasoned Turkey Cutlets

I love perusing cookbooks and finding something interesting to try. Unfortunately, I am usually missing ingredients from any recipe I choose, no matter how much planning and spending I do at each week's grocery run.

I was overjoyed to find this recipe, which calls for turkey breast cutlets, margarine or butter, and some spices (miraculously, all of which I have), and doesn't take much time at all.

Don't let the word "Cajun" scare you - it is not that spicy - just enough to make it good. (I did use the optional ground red pepper) This is healthy too - just 6.5 grams of fat per serving. My kids loved these - and they are very picky and do not like spicy food.

Cajun-Seasoned Turkey Cutlets

4 servings
  • 1lb turkey breast cutlets
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons non-diet tub-style margarine or butter, melted
Line a 15x10 baking sheet with foil. Coat the foil with no-stick spray and set aside. Preheat the oven to bake at 425 degrees.

Place each turkey cutlet between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Working from the center to the edges, lightly pound with the flat side of a meat mallet or the back of a large, heavy spoon to 1/8" thickness. Remove the turkey from the plastic and lay the slices, in a single layer, on the prepared baking sheet.

In a custard cup (I have no idea what that is - I just used a small plastic bowl), stir together the chili powder, paprika, thyme, garlic salt, celery salt, black pepper and red pepper (if using).

Lightly brush the turkey with 2 teaspoons of the margarine or butter.

Sprinkle with half of the chili mixture. Turn the turkey slices over. Brush with the remaining 2 teaspoons margarine or butter and sprinkle with the remaining chili mixture.

Bake for 9 or 10 minutes, or until the turkey is tender and cooked through. Serve with a salad or other side dish (we had Parmesan couscous - a favorite in our house). Enjoy!

Per serving: 154 calories, 6.5 g. total fat (38% of calories), 3.1 g. saturated fat, 52 mg cholesterol, 229mg sodium.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rideabout: Quarryville, PA

If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there. – Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

This quote was the theme of our afternoon on Sunday. Every once in a while when we feel cabin fever, we pile in the car to go on a "rideabout" - with no specific destination in mind. We strike out on in a direction we are not entirely familiar with and see where we end up. While we have lived in this area for quite a while, there are still many unexplored areas, and we love finding new places. The main draw in our rideabouts is the journey itself - seeing new towns and areas, and leaving a mental trail of bread crumbs so we know how to get back home.

We drove about 35 miles away from our town and wound up in Amish country in Pennsylvania. We enjoyed seeing the rural life - lots of farms, horses and buggies and cute little towns. We wound up driving through Quarryville around dinnertime, so we decided to stop and eat. After driving around town scoping out the restaurants, we chose the Quarryville Family Restaurant right in the heart of town.

The Quarryville Family Restaurant lived up to what everything a family restaurant should be: casual, cheap, huge menu, friendly service and delicious. Diva ordered a kids' portion of turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy, and it was a huge plate. I figured she'd be taking home leftovers, but she ate the whole thing, to our astonishment. JV got chicken cordon bleu, and I had broiled shrimp and scallops with mash potatoes and some fresh cole slaw. All delicious. Daredevil ate his standard hot dog and french fries. #3 was an angel and slept the whole time, so it was a delightful dining experience. Our family gives the Quarryville Family Restaurant a double thumbs up - I think we will travel back to Quarryville just to eat there again.

After dinner, it was time to feed #3 before traveling back home, so we headed to Son's ice cream stand down the street. JV, Diva and Daredevil enjoyed some ice cream while #3 had her dinner. (I did not partake in ice cream as I thought I was going to explode from dinner!) By then it was getting dark so we headed home.

It was a dark ride home though, as the Amish farms that dotted our ride there were completely dark. Many Amish do not use electricity. Diva and Daredevil could not believe this. Daredevil asked "How do they watch TV?" and was incredulous when we told them that well, they don't. Diva asked what they do after the sun goes down. We figured the answer to that is that they either use candles or simply go to bed for the night. She was astounded by this.

Then JV and I got to chatting about how much TV our kids watch: way too much. We have discussed limiting our cable to basic (we have expanded basic now), getting rid of cable altogether, or keeping it and limiting the kids TV time. I'd be fine with getting rid of cable. It would be one less bill to pay, and I can watch my favorite shows and see news online, so no big deal. When we started tossing these ideas around, the kids were HORRIFIED.

For now, we decided that the TVs will remain off starting Sunday night through Thursday nights - school nights- during the school year. I unplugged the TV in the kids' playroom. We decided the kids should be doing homework, reading, playing board games, or playing outside after school. And if the kids complain they are bored, they then get to dust and vacuum.

It was no big deal last night, as Diva had dance and we were busy with dinner/homework and taking her to dance. It will be similar tonight as Daredevil has karate. We'll see how it goes the rest of the week!

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our rideabout and discovering Quarryville, and the kids learned a bit about Amish culture. Good times!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cool Stuff: Obli Organics

An associate at my company has started her own very cool all organic clothing line with her sister for babies, children and pets. Obli Organics (Obli stands for "On Borrowed Land, Inc.") has very hip and cool environmentally friendly clothing.

A dear friend gave #3 this adorable Obli onesie - it is SO soft. She looks very hip and green, doesn't she?

While the stuff isn't cheap, it's very cute and would make a great (and environmentally conscious) gift idea. I can attest to the high quality. I'm always looking for baby gifts that are off the beaten path - this stuff is perfect!

Also, as a driver of a full size SUV, I do try to find other ways to be green to make up for my massive greenhouse gas emissions. Check out Obli Organics here & happy shopping:


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Recipe of the Week: Chicken Wing Dip

Each Wednesday, I'll try to post a recipe that's easy, fast, and yummy (and occasionally healthy!). I do enjoy cooking when I have the time, but typically I'm scrambling to put meals on the table for picky eaters (including my "meatatarian" husband) after a long day of work and a stressful commute, while simultaneously overseeing homework time, so I understand the value of a a good recipe. I will road test each recipe prior to posting to ensure they are indeed quick, easy, and yummy.

The following recipe comes from Cara at Working Moms Against Guilt (link below right). I saw this on their site about a year ago, saved it for future use. I broke it out this past weekend for Daredevil's 6th birthday party, and while it was a bit spicy for my kids, it got a thumbs up from parents and family and I wound copying the recipe for several of them. I could not stop eating it. While it is not exactly healthy, it is very quick and easy and would be perfect to enjoy while watching football!

Cara's Favorite Chicken Wing Dip
This dip tastes just like chicken wings! No dealing with bones or messy fingers.
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup hot pepper sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot
  • 1 cup Ranch-style salad dressing
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (out of the can is fine)
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C)

In a medium bowl, stir together the cream cheese and hot pepper sauce until well blended.

Mix in the Ranch dressing, chicken and Cheddar cheese. Spread into a 9x13 inch baking dish (I used an oval casserole dish, this worked fine too.)

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. If oil collects on the top, dab it off using a paper towel. Serve with tortilla chips.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Paid Leave ends today

#3 is 8 weeks old today, which also marks the end of my 8 weeks of maternity leave pay. I am not returning to work until January 2009. While I realize I am fortunate to be able to take some additional unpaid time off, this was definitely the fastest 8 weeks of my life.

It has gone by in a flash. My life has been a whirlwind of round the clock feedings (I'm nursing, so it's all me), bus stop runs, chauffering to karate, dance, sleepovers, birthday parties, etc. #3 and I are finally starting to set into a routine, so I'm starting to enjoy my time more.

She's starting to give me at least one 3-4 hour block of sleep at night, so I'm less of a bleary eyed zombie than I was a few weeks ago. I've also resolved my kidney stone issues via a procedure called lithotripsy, so I don't live in fear of a stone attack anymore.

So all is well, but I can't believe it's October already. Soon it will be January 2 and I will be back to work. I'm so busy right now I have no idea how that will work, but I remember feeling that way with 2 kids, and even with one. So I guess I'll figure it out!

In Case You Missed It

Here's another one, in case you didn't stay up late to watch SNL. Too funny!