Sunday, November 8, 2015

Why we vacation....

Recently I had a conversation with the Haztwins in order to prep them for our upcoming vacation to Disney.  Since they were asking me a bazillion questions about many minute details of our upcoming trip.... I decided we needed to discuss the possibility of how we need to react if things don't go quite our way on the trip.  I explained to them that sometimes rides are closed or menus change or a line for something we were really looking forward to is too long, etc.  I also explained that no matter what happens that we are still on vacation with each other and that they are very lucky to be going to Disney for the fifth time.

What do you think happened after that conversation?!  Well my little Diva went to school and told her friends how she was going to Disney for the fifth time!!  Which prompted her to return home to Daddy with the question, "Are we rich Daddy? So and so says we must be rich if we've been to Disney so much."  My answer to her question?  Do you think you'd still share a room with your brother if we were rich?

Everyone has different priorities in life and ours are making memories.  Jim introduced me to Disney World over 13 years ago and we have been going ever since.  Instead of jewelry or other expensive gifts, we decided to buy a timeshare.  I can definitely say that it was one of the best decisions that we've ever made.  Yes traveling with kids is more stressful and can be more expensive than traveling in our childless years, but seeing that Disney magic through their eyes is amazing.  We've made it work even on years that the mortgage crisis caused income loss and job instability and having two kids in daycare.  We've driven 4 times (including once in my prius) to save money and have had trips where there were no extras.  Diamonds may be some girls' best friend, but I prefer strolling down Main Street USA to that spot in front of Cinderella's castle where Jim asked me to marry him and having a family photo taken before hitting up some of our favorite rides.

On vacation, we step away from our busy lives of working, commuting, activities, homework, etc.  We don't wrapped up in the laundry and housework.  We are together for the duration of our trip and sometimes we're lucky enough to have friends or family join us.  We get to play dress up and eat in castles and meet characters and go on rides and travel around the world all in the same day.  It is truly magical.... even when it rains, or a ride is closed or things don't go quite our way.  We are still together as a family..... making memories.

Before we know it.... they'll be all grown up and probably won't think going on Splash Mountain with Mom & Daddio.  When that happens, maybe I'll get some diamond earrings..... or probably Jim & I will treat ourselves to the Disney resort in Hawaii because that would be so much more fun!  (In my opinion anyway..... and no judgement if you prefer the diamonds :)  

Stay tuned for more details from our most recent trip including tips on driving to Disney with kids!  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Haztwins turn 7...

Today they turned 7 and I got a bit emotional....

How did this happen??

I wasn't the mom who cried when they turned 1..... because I secretly was thanking God that we made it through that first year still intact! I was counting the days until doing fun stuff  with them wasn't so much work that it wasn't actually that much fun.  And now we are there..... I can actually sit in the beach chair for a bit and watch them splash in the waves.  But it makes me wonder how long will it last.  How long will I still be the center of their universe?  I hope for quite some time to come...  

I'll never forget the tears that were shed in our struggles to have these 2 and how thankful I was when the nurse told us we were having twins.  Having twins meant never having to go through all of those struggles again.  And having twins has blessed me with some of the greatest friends that I could ever wish for.

Off to school with their birthday treats!
Today was a great day!  I was able to take them to Dunkin Donuts this morning to get treats and then see them off to school.  And I was able to surprise them with balloons at the bus stop this afternoon with Mom-mom (who usually picks them a few times a week)....

And when Jim got home we went out to dinner (our original plan had a few hiccups, but we recovered and had a great night)....

Today they turned 7 and I simply am amazed at the young people they are becoming.  They have their moments for sure, but they can also be the most thoughtful and amazing individuals when they want to be.  I wish I could have captured them exchanging gifts that they had selected for each other this morning.  They were definitely excited to be receiving gifts, but they were equally if not more excited to GIVE their carefully selected gift.  There were so many smiles and hugs between these two this morning and it warmed my heart.  I'm so thankful that I get to be their mom!

Thank you to everyone who wished these two a happy birthday today.  If you've been in our life for a little while or forever, know that I am thankful to have you in our support system.  We are truly blessed!

"Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayers and worn with thanks." ~ Thomas Goodwin

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Back to blogging....

Well it has been quite some time since I've blogged and since we're about ready to head back to school, I guess there is no better time to get back to blogging.... right?!

I'm just wrapping up a week off from work and am so thankful to have spent a lovely week at the beach with the twins.  It has been an entire year since I took a whole week off from work and it was SO NICE!  I did not drive for an entire week when I normally drive 70 miles round trip each day!   I loved watching the kids have tons of fun and to be able to enjoy our time together instead of rushing through our short evenings after work and school.

The kids rode their bikes, played on the playground, went to the boardwalk to go on the rides, played in the waves, dug in the sand, saw cousins and friends...... and just had a great week.

It was the perfect way to end the summer..... Tuesday they head to SECOND GRADE!!!! I can't believe it.  I have ambitious plans to bring better order to our routines after a stressful and bumpy transition to first grade.  I'm hoping for a smoother year, but am ready to tackle whatever comes our way.  

Counting down the days until our next vacation in just 2 months this time instead of a whole year!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Prepping ahead....

My new goal for the fall and beyond is to prep ahead....

Prep what ahead?? As much as humanly possible.

I'm a life-long procrastinator..... I'm not going to lie.  And becoming a first time parent to 2 children at the same time didn't help that at all.  I thought as the twins got older our lives would be less hectic and it would be easier to catch up.  In some ways it is, but with full-day school, homework and after school activities not to mention a full-time job and a 70 mile round trip daily commute.... it is hard to stay on top of all the things that need to be done at home.

One thing that I really need help with is meal planning and prep! I've seen a bunch of freezer meal workshops popping up, but with a picky hubby none of the menus I had seen would work for us.  Until now!  A friend from high school was having a Wildtree Freezer Meals Workshop.... I took a look at the menu figuring it would again not work, but it did!  All of the menu items were things that I don't currently cook, but sounded good (except one which I was able to substitute easily).  I went back and forth about whether to sign-up and even showed it to Jim and he encouraged me to try it out.

Here is the menu that we would be creating (I did not make the meatloaf):
Comfort Food Workshop Recipes:
Honey Balsamic Chicken drumsticks 
Italian "Medallions" (chicken tenders) 
Italian Flank Steak
Chipotle Lime Fajitas
Slow Cooker Chipotle Lime Chicken 
Smoked Mozzarella Chicken with pasta 
Hearty and Delicious Meatloaf
Adobo Grilled Chicken
Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp 
Best Burgers EVER

I had never heard of the company, but signed up anyway. (The company is certified organic.  We are not an organic family, but I thought that might peak some interest from organic friends.) The workshop cost $78 and for that fee I received all of the pictured items, plus the recipes and some shared ingredients.  On a side note - as I typed this post I decided to head on over to the Wildtree website to see what I would have paid for all of the products that I received had I only purchased them and not attended the workshop.  I was pleasantly surprised the product total came very close to the fee that I paid (without even tax & shipping added in).
 I received a grocery list and spent about $100 on the other necessary items for the 10 meals that we'd be making. I decided that this was an excellent opportunity to test out the Shoprite from home service since the workshop was on a Tuesday night and I wanted the meats to be fresh. I also figured that since I'd be using the majority of what I ordered right away, that it would give me a good chance to inspect what the shoppers chose.  I placed my order on Sunday night so that I could pick them up on Monday after work.  I ordered a ton of meat, produce and other groceries.  I was very happy with everything they chose.  There was one small error with something being wrung up twice but I called and it was very easily rectified.  I would definitely use this service again to save time during our busy weeks.
I went to the workshop with my bags of meats and chopped veggies.  A few of the recipes I felt had way more food than we'd be able to eat in one sitting and Jim is not a leftovers guy so I split them into 2 bags/meals.  It was fun to make prep the meals as a group.  We were given detailed recipes and instructions so that we can replicate the meals that we like.  We were also given labels for each bag with the cooking instructions and an inventory sheet with any additional ingredients we would need to make each meal along with suggested side dishes.

So far we have enjoyed 3 of the meals that we made and I have to say that they were INCREDIBLE and SO EASY and QUICK!  Our first meal was the Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp.... OMG!  This was definitely a spicy recipe, but you could adjust for your family's taste.  Bonus here my friends..... Jim has NEVER eaten bell peppers.  When I made our plates I tried to give him as few as possible since I knew he'd be picking them out and my plate had A TON!  All of the sudden I see him reach over to my dish to scoop out some of mine.  I almost fell off my chair (if you know Jim.... the man doesn't try anything new!)...

We have since had the Italian "Medallions" which I made with a rice side and some veggies.  There were leftovers because the kids had already eaten at Mom-mom's.  Jim actually liked the chicken so much that he took it to work to put over his salad at lunch and LOVED it.  Tonight we had the Italian Marinated Flank Steak and it was SO delicious.  

I love that all the prep work is done ahead of time for these dishes.  It is so much easier to come home to a thawed out completely prepped and marinated meal with the instructions RIGHT on the bag (no trying to remember where the recipe for this particular dish is) and so far they have cooked within 20 minutes!  I'm in LOVE and so is Jim.  He told me tonight.... I don't know which I liked best and do you have what you need to make these meals again!  I can't wait to try the rest.  

Oh and the consultant.... is a fellow mom of twins!  Check out her site....

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A busy Spring is here!

I'm very thankful that this snowy, frigid winter is behind us and hopeful that better weather awaits us this spring and summer.  2014 is already speeding by before our eyes.  It is hard to believe that in just 2 1/2 more months the Haztwins will be finished with kindergarten!  What?!?!  When the heck did that happen!

Utilizing our zoo membership as it gets warmer!

We've had a CRAZY winter.... with 8 school closings and 4 two-hour delays that resulted in no AM kindergarten.... I don't think there were many weeks that the kids didn't have at least 1 day off.  However, they have still learned SO much!  They are reading simple books on their own, writing sentences and have recently started copying books and even writing their own stories!  They got awesome report cards and their conferences went very well.  I was so happy that in both of their sample work they wrote something nice about their teachers.  I love to see that they have developed a special relationship with their teachers, even though that does make it tough when it is time to move on.  My favorite sentence in their sample work would definitely have to be.... "My mom is fun"

After 2 months of physical therapy and getting custom orthotics, I'm sad to say that I'm having more problems and pain.  I'm very frustrated after a trip back to the orthopedic doctor which resulted in him telling me to stop wearing my orthotics as he thinks that the arch support might be forcing me supinate and the reason for the increased pain on the outside of my foot.  I have requested an MRI to see if there is something else going on in the area as this has been going on for far to long in my opinion and I did have a previous injury and pain in this area as well as evidence of bruised bones on my initial x-ray in November. But my request by this doctor has been denied. I was told by his medical secretary that he is confident that he hit the diagnosis right on the head and that there is no reason for further testing.  That removing the $400 (although covered by my insurance) custom orthotics should help and that I should not need any further follow up appointments with him.  I'm planning to discuss with my physical therapist this week to see what she recommends, but I don't feel that telling a 32 year old to choose which pain is better to deal with is the best option when we haven't explored to see if there is anything besides the plantar fasciitis going on.  I could go on and on with my frustrations.... but right now I'm just hoping that more physical therapy or perhaps a second opinion with another doctor.

Looking ahead to a busy next few months includes a trip to Virginia for a wedding, Easter, a follow at DuPont for Summer Lou's ears, a business trip to Dallas for me, a benefit for my mom's scholarship, a trip to Vegas to celebrate our 10th anniversary, Jim's 39th birthday, Summer's dance recital and finishing up kindergarten.... and that is all by the end of JUNE!  Stay tuned for lots of excitement from the Haztwins....  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thankful for progress....

I'm counting my blessings with my friend Aurie...

I'm not going to lie.... I had a rough week.  This is typically my busiest time of year at work anyway... add on a few extra projects and I am a bit stressed.  It didn't help that I was let out of the immobilizer boot that I've been wearing for the past 10 weeks only to be in pain STILL!!!!  Granted not as much pain, but not as much better as one would hope to be after 10 weeks!

So I've had a short fuse this week, but it's getting better.  I'm thankful for the following things this week...

  • I was fitted for custom orthotics to hopefully ensure that once my foot is better... it doesn't flare up again!  And they are covered by my insurance!!!! 
  • I went to the local running store to be fitted for the right sneakers.  After explaining the situation they told me it would be best to wait until I had the orthotics to insure the proper fit.  Since I'm not sure how long they will take to be made and go through all the insurance approvals, etc. I decided to check out the sidewalk sale they were having.  The older models were 40% off, but if there was just one pair left of a style it was only $25.  I was determined to find something for $25 and as luck would have it... I found these (original price $120)!  After a week of wearing them... I'm super happy with my bargain.  I'm hopeful that my orthotics will fit in them, but if not... it was still a great buy.

  • I was prescribed a special type of physical therapy called Graston therapy, which is kind of like a massage with metal instruments.  It is strange, but is supposed to help with soft tissue injuries and I'm really up for trying anything that will make this go away for good.  I was super excited when I arrived at my first session and the woman at the check in desk told me I had NO COPAY!  Especially since I'm supposed to go 3 times per week.  On top of the therapy she has given me great stretching instructions and had me do a ton of exercises on Friday to build my strength and range of motion.  She even said she'll get me back to running!  I'm not about to jump right back into that since running is what started all of this, but I'm hopeful that she thinks she can get me that much better.  I'll just be excited to get back to Zumba!  I have class passes burning a hole in my pocket, but I'm trying to wait until I have worked my way through a few more weeks of physical therapy.  
  • I'm thankful that I have not gained back any of the weight that I worked so hard last year to lose despite not being able to exercise much at all.  And in fact.... since I've been cooking more at home and not eating out nearly as much... I've lost a couple additional pounds during my exercise hiatus.  
  • I'm thankful that my husband sensed how upset I was this week and had a super positive attitude (we're usually the other way around), but it made me realize how silly I was being and that I just needed to take a deep breath and realize that it will all be better in a few weeks.  
So this week I'll be working on keeping a more positive attitude and working hard in my 3 PT sessions to get this foot well enough to Zumba. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sometimes a good lesson is learned....

If you are a mother I'm sure that you can relate to often feeling like maybe you could be doing a better job at something.  Lately I've been feeling pulled in too many directions.  It's my least favorite time of year at work.... year end.  Blah.... add in some snow storms, sick days, the holidays, extra projects and some days I feel like I have so many hats that I'm not really doing a good job at any of them.  But some days something happens that makes me smile and I remember what I'm doing it all for.  My family. 

I've had 2 such examples in the past few days that just warms my heart so much and reminds me that no parents are perfect, but that we are raising thoughtful children.

A Disney commercial came on TV.  We have a Disney timeshare and the kids have already been to Disney a few times, but now that they are at an age to understand we try to emphasize how much the trips cost and have them save money for their own souvenirs.  Upon seeing the commercial both kids said how much fun we had in Disney this past September.  Summer then turned to me and said thank you Mommy for spending all the money on our trip.... it was so much fun!  And Cole agreed!  We got through to them and their deep appreciation warmed my heart! 

Lots of snow!  Snow, snow, snow yesterday and Jim was stuck at work.  Like literally stuck there.  They were allowed to leave at 1pm and after 40 minutes he still wasn't out of the parking lot of the complex.  All roads were gridlocked so he went back into the building to wait and finally got home 4 hours after being dismissed.  So we were home and I decided I needed to shovel and yes I am still in an immobilizer boot, so I had one snow boot and one large red Target bag tied around my other boot to head out for shoveling and the kids came out too.  My sister had gotten them these tiny snow shovels a few years ago and they went to town.  They were so into it that they didn't want to sled down the hill or play, they wanted to help shovel.... I decided it was a good time we learned a very important lesson about helping others.  My neighbor recently lost her husband so I sent them over to work on her steps.  They worked together as a team and did an amazing job.  And the best part.... she and her elderly mother were sitting at the table by the front window and the look of complete delight on their faces and they watched these tiny 5 year olds clearing the steps made my heart so happy.  She came to the door and thanked them and oohed and aahed over them.  Then she slipped them a little something for their hard work and they said, THANK YOU! (when we got home we discussed that although it is nice to get rewarded for helping, that we help because it is the right thing to do and we never ask for money).  After this Summer was ready to head inside, but Cole wasn't finished so I sent him to the neighbor on the other side to clear off what had come since she had been out to shovel.  He worked so hard and made sure every drop of snow was cleared off of those steps.  Here are some pictures of my little cuties. 

Makes me happy that even though I'm not with them so much of the time that once in awhile I do get through to them about something important to me...