Monday, March 30, 2009

March Madness

Unless you don't own a tv or computer, you probably know that it is basketball tournament time. Now I am an avid college sports fan, but only if my team is playing. So that means this year I could care less about the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Our basketball team was less than stellar this year. Once upon a time there were glory days when our team would make the tournament (and should've even been in the Final Four one year), but those days are memories now.

The team who is still around is on the women's side. The Iowa State Cyclones scored 8 unanswered points in the last 50 seconds in their game against Michigan State on Saturday night to advance to the Elite Eight. They play against Stanford tonight--in California. If you haven't looked at a map lately, Iowa is a long way from California and Stanford, well it is in California. We are esentially playing on their "home court" so to speak. They beat us early in the year by 39 points. Doesn't sound good, does it? But unless you have a degree from Stanford I want you cheering for the Cyclones tonight. Who doesn't love an upset?
The girls and I went to many of the women's home basketball games this year. The team only lost one game at home--a nail-biter against Texas. Emma even knows some of the players names by seeing their number. During the "Read Across America" week, a couple of the players came to their classroom and read books.
Here is Emma earlier this year shooting hoops with Allison Lacey (the MVP of Saturday's game who scored 29 points, including the 3 pointer with 21 seconds left to put them in the lead):


This is how we spent many of our Saturday/Sunday afternoons/evenings this winter:



Iowa State has been in the NCAA tournament 10 times since 1996 because of this man, Bill Fennelly:

It is absolutely amazing what he has done at Iowa State, and above all else he is truly a class act. ISU was smart enough to give him a lifetime contract here, and we hope he stays that long or even longer.
The game is on tonight at 8pm CST (which happens to be the same time as Emma's parent/teacher conference). Go Cyclones!!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Random

It's about time for one of these, right?
  • Hubby, you have sick days for a reason--take one once in awhile. Your office mates probably don't appreciate you hacking all over the place. Yes, I realize that is how you got sick in the first place but let's not perpetuate the cycle. And taking children's cough medicine isn't going to kill you. It's the same stuff as adult cough medicine, I promise.
  • Remember how much I love pj's for the girls? I've actually refrained myself from buying any of the cute spring Carter's pj's because 1. I haven't found them at my favorite price (50% off plus additional 20% off) and 2. Neither girl really needs pj's at the moment. Leah has a drawer overflowing with pj's and what has she done? Worn the same pair every night since last Tuesday. I do get them off her long enough to wash them, but as long as she is happy wearing her "kitty buttons" every night it isn't a battle worth fighting.
  • Speaking of Leah, we've had some small progress in the pt'ing area. She stayed dry one entire day this week. Woo hoo! And she is actually (sometimes) saying she has to go potty. Of course on those instances, I have to bring the potty chair to her--I guess walking down the hall to the bathroom would add too much to the task.
  • I need to clean today. The fun stuff like mopping the floor, cleaning up the cat puke from two days ago in the guest room, and removing the disgusting unknown substance from the guest bathroom floor. I won't even think about what it may be.
  • Emma is signed up to play soccer and softball this spring. The seasons overlap by a month, so things could get interesting--I only have the soccer schedule at this time. Every other mother who has signed their dear little child up for soccer for the first time is like me--trying to find all the gear necessary to play. Obviously they got there before me, since the shelves were bare yesterday when I went shopping.
  • Remember my New Year's resolutions? I've kind of gotten behind in the whole "take more pictures/videos" part, but for the losing weight part as of this morning I am down 12.2 lbs. It has been slow going these past two months, but I'm trying to keep at it. I finally (after a year) finished the Couch to 5K training and have run/jogged 3.1 miles multiple times this past month.
  • There is snow in the forecast for this weekend. Yee haw. Welcome to late March in Iowa.

Monday, March 23, 2009


With CDH being as rare as it is, most of the families I have come across have been online. I've met people in many states and even different countries (or those people who live close and then MOVE to a different country). When we were in the NICU, Leah was the only baby there at the time with CDH. We then learned of Roo and hope to meet Liviana someday. Hopefully later this summer we will get to meet Baby John who was born in Denver last October and lives in Alaska when he visits his grandparents in Iowa.

Online I also "met" another family from Iowa who live on the eastern side of the state. They made the choice before their baby was born to deliver at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) because of their expertise in CDH. They temporarily moved their family of 4 from Iowa to give unborn Ava a shot at life.

Ava is a year younger than Leah and went through re-herniation shortly after Leah did last year. I was able to meet Ava's mom last October on a day when she really wasn't sure if Ava would pull through or not. Ava's recovery was long and eventful, but she is home and doing well. The local paper where Ava lives has done articles on her before and this one was just in the paper yesterday.

It continues to amaze me that those three little letters can do so much (or so little). It seems that everyday I read a new blog or find another family going through what too many have gone through before. Some babies and kids make it through the minefield; others don't. As we found out once you make it through doesn't mean the battle is over. We will keep fighting and spreading the word to others.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Getting back on track

Spring break really threw us all for a loop. We had fun doing our visiting and our shopping and our going out to eat, but our schedule was thrown all out of whack. Poor Leah hadn't had a nap all week and on Friday she slept for 4 hrs in the afternoon. Emma hasn't been up before 8am and I'm afraid 6:40am is going to come mighty early tomorrow. I haven't gotten in my exercise like I usually do. Yes--surprise, surprise, I actually like to exercise now. I haven't done anything to expend calories since Wednesday and I'm feeling a little squishy right now. It doesn't help that I ate my daily amount of calories in Oreos alone yesterday.

So tomorrow it is back to the routine. It is supposed to be rainy, rainy, rainy, so I will have plenty of time inside to get back on the treadmill and have Jillian kick my butt again with her workouts. Emma can go to school and Leah can work on her potty training which at this point involves her saying "no, not yet" everytime I ask if she needs to go potty. Welcome back to reality!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break

Posts will be few and far between this week as we spend our spring break vacation in Mexico. Sun, fun and sand are on the agenda.

Ha ha ha, I wish! I never went anywhere fun or warm when I had spring break in college, and we aren't about to start now. The girls and I came up to my parents for a few days to celebrate my dad's birthday and will head back home tomorrow. At least the weather is actually acting like spring for a few days--we spent the day playing outside with some friends today.

Maybe there will be some more videos soon, we'll see. At least I got some comments!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our funniest home videos

Remember how one of my New Year's resolutions was to take more pictures and videos of the kids? I may not be quite as proficient at this as Cristin just yet, but I'm getting there. And in the meantime, the girls love watching any old video clips of them on the computer. This has been a favorite recently:

The girls love Leah's request at the end--enough of this waiting around and blowing out trick candles thing, give me my cookie!! And I love Emma's nervous laugh when the candle keeps re-lighting.

As I was looking at video clips from then the girls were babies, I came across this one of Leah:

She had just turned two weeks old, which meant she had just come off the ventilator a few days before. Seeing that fast breathing and her pectus (sunken chest) reminded me of just how far we have come. (Just ignore what I am doing--it was routine cares time.) To me that doesn't even seem like the same girl who is now doing this:

Ignore the furry creature that crosses the frame--he has to be everywhere. And sorry if you get neck strain from looking at it sideways. ;)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Growing up we had this game in our game collection: Have you got scruples? Scruples... The game that poses 252 moral dilemmas on issues of work, money, friends, family, neighbors and, of course relationships! There are no "Right" answers. When asked a question, you can tell the truth, bluff - or you can "Plead the fifth" and get out of it. The winner is the player who is most successful in guessing how other players will answer their moral dilemmas. So get ready for hours of stimulation talk and laughter. It's a conversation-starter, sentence-stopper, jaw-dropper of a game! Get Scruples!

Let's pretend we are playing this game, kindergarten style. The moral dilemma--you ask your super-nice, gullible locker mate for money. She brings you two $10, thinking she is being nice because you said you have no money. Your mom finds out, calls your locker mate's mom, and you have to bring the money back to school. What should you do with the money?

A. Give it to your locker mate, say sorry, and all is right with the world.

B. Give it to your locker mate, watch her put it in her backpack, then later take the envelope out of her backpack and take the $20 back.

C. Say you lost the envelope on the way to school and keep the money.

If you correctly guessed that Emma's locker mate would do B, then you win!!! Once we had the whole issue with the lost envelope of money, I wondered if the girl didn't just take it right back. Who would want to give up $20 without a fight? Emma came home with the envelope yesterday and said the big sister of her locker mate told her that is what happened. If we are dealing with issues like this when they are 5 and 6, what are we going to have to deal with when they are teenagers?

I remember having a few things "stolen" in my day. One happened at a jr. high dance. I was having a friend spend the night and when we went to leave the dance, her jean jacket was gone. This was the late 80's and it was probably a Guess? jean jacket--big time stuff here. Somehow we knew who took the jacket (either because they left theirs instead, I don't remember) but my mom drove us out to this girl's house in the country to get my friend's jacket back. Another time it happened in gym class that I had a favorite watch stolen. I had gotten this super-cool Fossil watch for a special occasion and I loved it. The glass face had broken at one point and when the jeweler replaced it, they scratched the stone watch face. A while after my watch had gone missing I found someone wearing my watch. How did I know? There was a scratch in the stone. Doesn't anyone have scruples these days?

Speaking of scruples, we were watching a special news segment last night called "Project Economy". A local TV station is doing all these stories to help us get through these tough times. Yeah, they've been really helpful. Anyway, last night they had on a young couple who were savers--saved up to buy their first home, ate at home instead of dining out, bought less music CD's--real earth-shattering information. John recognized the guy as someone who used to work at his old company (who let him go a year ago). After the story aired, the reporter did a follow-up to say that the day after they did the interview, the guy got let go from his job. Once again, the company has wonderful timing. Way to go! We wish he would've said the company name. I'm sure they had to keep letting go the little, unimportant people so the upper management could keep their company cars and nice benefits still.

Friday, March 6, 2009

34 blessings

Tuesday just happened to be my birthday and I was going to do a cheesy post about 34 blessing--one for each year I am old. But then Qwest decided to have a service outage and my DSL settings got changed and I was without internet for over 24 hours and I lost my train of thought.

Anyway, I do have 34 and more blessings in my life. One of them would be my loving hubby who despite having a horrible, knock-you-down, want-to-die type of migraine last night still took over parenting duties so I could go out for my girl's night out last night. And also installed blinds while being blinded by pain. Love ya!! Mmmmmwah!

Of course I have two little blessings who I helped create. They are who I celebrated my actual birthday with by going to Borders, hanging out and reading books, then going to get ice cream at Coldstone Creamery. They are the ones who greeted me with "Happy Birthday, Mom!" first thing in the morning and they are the ones who anticipated opening my gifts just a little more than I did. Thanks, lovely ladies! You help make me feel special.

And then there are the parents. We are so blessed to have parents who are around and support us and would do anything for us. Couldn't do it without you!

I could go on and on. We are blessed. We have a beautiful home (with three more window blinds than we had at my last birthday and three more on the way), a great neighborhood and school, vehicles that run and are reliable, food in the pantry/fridge/freezer, clothes, a job, people who love us, and we have each other. I would say I am blessed to have 24/7 internet access but that didn't seem to be the case this week.

Here's to another year of blessings!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Let them eat cake!

Even though I've already professed my love for cookies, I do like to bake cakes on occasion. This weekend I will be attempting to make this for my favorite 3 year old nephew:

He loves Thomas just a little bit right now.

I've already started thinking of Emma's birthday which isn't for another 3.5 months. Yesterday I came across this site and I am in love:
I will say I am a little put off by her profile description:
"I enjoy baking and creating sweets for others to enjoy. In 2007 I took a cake decorating class that really sparked my interest. Since then I've been trying to improve my decorating skills. I hope to learn as much as I can about baking and decorating and then share it with you along the way."

Um, hello--that is supposed to be me! :P One of those "Why couldn't I do that?" moments. Why? Oh. . . I know why. Because she is much, much better at what she does than could ever hope to be. Her signature creation are cakeballs on a stick and I'd like to try something like this:

She has come up with all sorts of cakeballs on sticks including footballs, Hello Kitty, Super Dad and more.

If you are hungry, go check her out. Spend a few hours looking around, but make sure you have some napkins on hand to wipe the drool from your keyboard.
This looks perfect for hubby's birthday:

And can I say I lied? While searching for that picture I came across these that Emma may have to have for her birthday instead:

Bakerella, you had me at "cupcake". Now I must go jog three miles to erase the calories I gained just by looking at those pictures.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mmmm . . . cookies

Enough talk about the kiddos, let's talk about something really important: Cookies

I "heart" cookies. I don't care for cake, I don't like ice cream, but I'd eat cookies 24/7. Like my sister pointed on her Friday Favorite, my love of cookies probably started in childhood. Our grandma always had cookies on hand, usually chocolate chip or molasses. We would help ourselves freely to cookies at her house. Even on the other side of the family, I have vague memories of going to my great-grandma's house and she always had some type of sandwich cookie on hand like Oreos. At church every Sunday there was social time after the service which entailed eating cookies. I like cookies. Cookies are my favorite.

Since I am the self-proclaimed baker in the house (although dh claims he makes kick-ass chocolate chip cookies, he hasn't done that for a very looooong time) I get to pick what I want for my birthday treat. Usually it is cookie in some shape or form. One year I decided to make myself a BIG cookie on my large baking stone. What I didn't realize was just exactly how much my cookie would grow in the oven, so I ended up with burnt cookie on the bottom of my oven and a lovely smell throughout the house. Nothing says "Happy Birthday" like wailing smoke detectors and the chilly March air blowing through the house for ventilation. I learned my lesson and have since become adept at making large cookies. Peanut butter chocolate chip are my favorite, with chocolate frosting and peanut butter frosting. Yum.

Last year right before my birthday I saw a recipe on the Today show that they were touting as the best. cookie. ever. I fell for it. I made them for my birthday and they were good, but not great.

Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies

1/2 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 lb bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/3 c butter

1 3/4 c packed brown sugar

4 large eggs

1 tbsp vanilla extract

5 1.4 oz chocolate covered English toffee bars (such as Heath) coarsely chopped

1 c walnuts, tasted, chopped (left out--not a big fan of walnuts)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend. Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool mixture to lukewarm. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in bowl until thick, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then toffee and nuts. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto sheets, spacing 2.5 inches apart. Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets.

I ate a few of the cookies and then frosted them and used them for ears on this cake:

This year I think I am going to try a light Snickerdoodle recipe. I won't post until I've tried it and can give my own review.

And because I'm biased, I'm posting my own favorite Monster Cookie recipe. Farm girl can keep hers, this is how I roll (or technically, drop):

Monster Cookies

3 eggs

1 c. sugar

1 c. + 2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp vanilla

1 1/2 c. peanut butter

4 1/2 c. oatmeal

1 stick butter

2 tsp baking soda

M & M's

Bake at 350 10-12 min

(This is all the recipe says)

Gotta love recipes like that--the ingredients and not much else. I cream the sugars and butter, then add the eggs, vanilla and peanut butter. Stir in the oatmeal and baking soda, then the M&M's. I tend to make these around holidays with the colorful M&M's. I've found it best to take them out of the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for a good, long time.

I've also found a new stop on my blog stalk: Sometime I'll try a few of her things out! I can't imagine making cookies multiple times a week--I hope she has a way to get rid of them all. That would be a diet buster for sure.