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...

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Some weeks are tougher than others

Some weeks breeze right by and before we know it we're at the end, but others just seem to never end and have lots of stumbles...

Last week was one of the weeks.  Nothing absolutely awful and unrecoverable happened, but just a bunch of little bumps that made for a very LONG week. 

I'm working on rolling out some new software at work and that has made for 4 trips to our Lawrenceville office in the last 2 weeks which is a rarity for me.  Let's just say there is a tad more traffic traversing up 295 than my normal trek down the shore.  In the end this will be a very good thing, but when we're already in our very busy year end... adding more training and hashing out new routines is making for more hours, which thankfully can be done remotely. 

Tuesday morning I woke up to Summer at my bedside crying that her right ear hurt.  While I was thankful that it wasn't the ear we spent close to a year trying to heal from the problems caused from her tube falling out... I was very concerned.  You see in all the ear infections, sinus infections and usually inflamed tonsils.... this chick has NEVER complained that something hurt.  Not EVER!  She would not remove her hand from her ear.  After giving her some medicine to help with the pain, my MIL was able to watch her so I could head to work until the doctor's office opened and call for an appointment.  Our physician's assistant who has seen us through all of our illnesses took a peek in her ear and said well thank goodness she finally complained of pain because this is the worst ear infection she had seen in over a year.  She expected that it would rupture so we were prescribed ear drops on top of an antibiotic.  Oh what a treat it is to pin your child down as she screams like you are stabbing her all while trying to count ear drops actually making it into her ear.  She also wanted it wiped out constantly since it was draining from rupturing.  Lots of fun, but could be worse :) 

Cole has trouble staying dry through the night.  He doesn't want to wear pull-ups anymore to bed and can stay dry most nights if we put him on the potty before we head to bed.  But not always.  This week it seemed to be every night that he was getting up wet... which means changing sheets and changing clothes in the middle of the night. 

Add in Jim getting sick again last week.... he finally was able to get in to see the doctor of Friday and has another sinus infection.  Last night I went to bed not feeling well and between the kids both getting up a record number of times in one night and me struggling to sleep as it was.... it was a very rough night.  Luckily realized how rough a night I had and let me sleep until I was feeling better keeping the kids occupied downstairs. 

Here's hoping for a less bumpy week....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The blessings that I wear every day...

Linking up again with my friend Aurie to Count My Blessings...
I'm not one to change my jewelry much.  I basically wear the same stuff almost every day only changing it up for special occasions.  And pretty much all of the jewelry that I currently wear was gifted to me and I am very thankful for what this jewelry means to me. 
My rings... include my engagement ring that I received in front of Cinderella's castle in Disney World, my wedding band and my Tiffany notes band that my hubby gifted me for our 5 year wedding anniversary.
My earrings... these heart studs were a congratulations gift that I bought myself at Tiffany's in NYC on a trip with some of my family on the day that I found out I got my first job out of college.  I have worn them almost constantly since then and just celebrated my 10 year anniversary with my company yesterday!  

My bracelet... my Pandora bracelet and pink heart charm were gifted to me by my Dad & Stepmom for my 31st birthday.  I bought the Cinderella carriage charm in Disney World.  Jim bought me the S & C block charms last Christmas and the cat and heart with love in several languages for Mother's Day. 

My necklace... my Origami Owl necklace that my dear sister-in-law gifted me last Christmas.  It was a total surprise and came complete with charms that mean a lot to me. An Eiffel Tower, a heart that says "Sister", a treble clef, a starfish and the kids' birthstone. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Counting my Blessings...

I'll be trying to continue linking up with my friend Aurie's Counting Your Blessing link-up.  I really love the opportunity to stop and remind myself of the blessings in each week, both small and large.

Here are some of the things that I am thankful for lately....

I'm thankful for Cole's headphones that I snagged second hand after a horrible episode with Cole at the movies .... they enabled us to enjoy the fireworks on NYE with no meltdowns due to the noise.  He absolutely loved them and Summer thinks they are like glitter in the sky.  He also likes to go to the movies now! 

I'm thankful that in a year when there weren't many presents under the tree that the kids had realistic expectations of what Santa could bring and that they were actually more excited about the little crafty gifts that we made to give out to our family.  They continued by making pictures and books, whatever they could find and wrapping it up to give to people.  It warmed my heart and reminded me that gifts don't have to cost a lot to mean a lot. 
Gifts that the kids made for us at school

Salt dough ornaments that we made for our family members

I'm thankful that I got a nice review from my boss this year.  Sometimes I feel that I have so many hats that I'm never quite doing a good enough job at anything.  I'm not being a good enough worker, mother, wife, house keeper, friend and the list goes on and on.  In a year that I've made schedule adjustments at work because I felt that I needed to be home earlier for our new kindergarten, homework, activity schedule, it was nice to hear that I was appreciated as a hard worker. 

I'm thankful for an awesome movie date today with my kiddos and my sister-in-law.  We went to see Frozen (which the kids saw while I was away last month), which I thought was an amazing movie!  Very well done!  And we saw it in these amazing recliners!  So we got in some nice cuddle time while watching! 

Mother Nature has certainly thrown us a few curve balls in the last month or so, but so far we've made it through and had some fun playing in the snow when we can.  The kids have already had 3 snow days from school and we still have A LOT of winter left!  Yesterday was a real doozy!  Jim and I both left for work and didn't make it very far from home due to the freezing rain that quickly coated the roads with a layer of shimmery ice.  We both decided to turn around and come back home until the temperatures increased and the ice melted. There were 71 recorded traffic accidents in our township alone!  So thankful that we weren't in any of them! I am bummed that this made me miss my appointment with the orthopedic doctor and his next available appointment isn't for 2 weeks!  But I'll take it as a sign that I needed some more time in the boot.  What's another 2 weeks after 8... right??

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Heading into a New Year 2014!

2013 was a busy year for sure and it definitely had its share of ups and downs. 

The kids graduated from Pre-K, were registered for and started Kindergarten in 2013.  Their graduation ceremony was so adorable and well done.  Jim and I are so proud of how well they did in Pre-K as well as how much they are doing in Kindergarten.  They LOVE doing homework and learning new things. 
Pre-K Graduation!
First Day of Kindergarten!

We spent a week at the beach in Sea Isle in June and it was really nice to just relax and spend time with each other.  Plus we had several visitors to stop down and spend time with us too!  And we had an awesome family vacation to Disney World for the kids' 5th Birthday.  Plus I also was fortunate enough to have a fabulous girls' weekend in Disney with my sister-in-law! 

Ice Cream on the Beach
Birthday Surprises in Disney World!

A major goal of mine in 2013 was to work on getting fit.  And I'm proud to say that I stuck with this ALL year with the exception of the last 7 weeks while I have been wearing an immobilizer boot to heal an injury.  I tried out running, but that didn't really work out for me and is how I started my injury.  Then I found Zumba, which I've fallen in love with and over the summer I got into Bosu Bootcamp as well.  I have lost 12 pounds this year which has been a major goal for awhile that I have failed many years to act on.  I'm so very proud that I've actually found a type of exercise that works for me and have stopped making excuses for why I can't do it.  I am counting the days until I can get back to the gym.... which I never thought I'd actually be saying!

12 pounds lighter in 2013!

We have also had some major challenges & disappointments in 2013.... Jim's company went through major downsizing and his position was eliminated in October, but we were very lucky that he was offered a step down position.  We've also had some financial difficulties with our rental property and are in the process of putting it on the market (fingers crossed). 

We added a cousin to the family this year when my cousin had her baby girl on Jim's birthday!  We were very nervous for this dear girl to arrive as my cousin had some medical scares during her pregnancy, but luckily other than being a very tiny peanut.... she's perfect!  My dear cousin Kate got married on Black Friday and Summer & Cole were the Flower Girl & Ring Bearer.  It was a beautiful day as we welcomed Jay into the family officially!  We also had a very devastating and unexpected loss of a dear family member. 

Proud Momma with the Flower Girl & Ring Bearer
Summer with her godmother, my gorgeous cousin, Kate!
I just love this shot!


Pushing forward to 2014 we are setting more goals over here for the Haztwin family....

Number one on the list is most definitely selling our Florida rental property, which will relieve a big financial strain.  I seriously love that house and if I could move it up here and live in it I would, but having a house that far away is just too much. 

As long as all continues to go well in Kindergarten.... the Haztwins are going to full day public school in September!  Seriously I may take the day off and have a freaking party to celebrate the end of daycare tuition being direct debited out of my checking account. If anyone wants to join me... let me know! 

Getting out of this boot, strengthening my leg, getting the right shoes and possible orthotics so that I don't have to deal with this again.  And then getting back to the gym!  I am hoping to get back to a 3x a week workout schedule at the gym and then maybe also adding something at home too.

My BFF.... Ugh!

On the home front.... I have been doing better with cooking and meal planning, but I'd like to do better with that.  I also really need to clean out and organize this house.... BIG time!  I have downloaded a planning binder and am hoping that it will help me with a plan of attack. 

Jim and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in August and are hoping to be able to celebrate with a trip or something special if we can. 

Our Wedding - August 7, 2004

I hope to be able to spend more time at the beach again this summer.  The kids really love it.... although I'm not sure if Summer likes the beach or just the ice cream man!  Seriously.... ask my sister... she almost walked 2 blocks to the ice cream shop because Summer would not stop talking about when the ice cream man was coming (like wouldn't stop talking for 2 hours!).  I'm also hoping to calm down our weekend schedule a bit and spend more quality family time together.... the kids are growing up so quickly and we need to cherish these moments together.  I'm really loving how magical the world is to them and want to explore with them. 

So that is it.... those are the goals.... check back to see what we accomplish this year!  What are your goals?