Find Good In Every Day

One mom's attempt at finding good in every day of this chaotic world.

The Never-Ending Winter March 5, 2015

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 8:16 am

As we prepare for yet another winter storm (I think this one is called Thor), I figured I would fill you all in on the never-ending winter we’ve been having here in Rhode Island.  I feel like I shouldn’t complain since we chose to move to New England.  We knew what New England winters could be like.  But when long-time Rhode Islanders are complaining, it might be ok for me to shed a tear or two, shout an expletive or three, or just hole up in my kitchen and bake another batch of cookies.

Here is a small sampling of what we’ve been experiencing this winter:

  • We haven’t seen green grass in months!
  • My back pain got worse after the second time shoveling, so Jeremy has been taking the brunt of it.  At least he has some strong arms to show for it.
  • We’ve only been sledding once!  The single-digit temperatures have kept us inside.  The fun of snow is supposed to be snowmen and sledding and snowballs.
  • Speaking of snowballs, the first couple feet of snow were so light and fluffy, you couldn’t make a good snowball.  It wasn’t until we got sleet last week that we were finally able to throw snowballs at each other.  (Good timing since we all had a lot of winter rage built up!)
  • I made the mistake of looking at other cities’ weather this morning…  How can Denver be sunny and 60 this week?  Crazy!
  • We’ve had 4 snow days, which considering the amount of snow we’ve had, is not that bad.  Unfortunately most of them have been on Mondays, which can really mess things up.
  • Because of the 4 snow days and the fact that our school district does not build in snow days to the calendar (Hello?!), the last day of school has been extended to Monday, June 22nd.  I know we’re luckier than other districts who are going much later, but it stinks to push to another week.
  • When it snows, all I want to do is bake.  Baking does not go well with trying to be healthier.  But snow = stress and stress = desire to bake and desire to bake + pounds = stress and then the cycle continues…  Are you following me?  It’s not a healthy equation!
  • Our washer drains to a dry well in our side yard.  The dry well is frozen under feet of snow, which means our washer can’t drain and therefore backs up into our basement sink.  After the first time it overflowed in early January, we talked to plumbers about moving the washer and dryer to tie into our septic.  It was determined it would be a waste of money and to just wait until it thaws and hopefully finally tie into the town sewer before the next winter.  So we’ve been spending a lot of time (and money) at the local laundromat.
  • There are perks to the laundromat.  I can get 5 loads of wash done in 2 hours!  Washed, folded and ready to go.

And this post wouldn’t be complete without a few pictures….

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The front yard after the first big snow.

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It can actually be beautiful at times…

The ugly side of snow after multiple rounds of shoveling and the snow plow.

The ugly side of snow after multiple rounds of shoveling and the snow plow.

Winter Storm Thor as we speak!  Certainly beautiful but also like getting lemon juice in your eye...

Winter Storm Thor as we speak! Certainly beautiful but also like getting lemon juice in your eye…

We keep saying this has to be the last one, but then the storms keep coming.  We’re off to school and work even as it actively snows outside.  I imagine the schools are doing everything they can to NOT have any more snow days, which is fine with me.  We’ve all been cooped up for long enough and getting these 6-8 hour breaks from each other is necessary for our sanity.  What we all agree on, though, is that when it is in the 90’s this summer, we CANNOT complain!  So for now, we’ll just dream of the beautiful summers that Rhode Island delivers and know that come July this will all be a distant memory.

 

A Roll of The Dice February 4, 2015

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 12:43 pm

For the past year, I’ve been trying to meal plan every week.  I’m not always successful, which results in multiple trips to the grocery store after work each day.  But when I am successful, I only have to hit up the grocery store twice a week (one big trip and then one re-fill trip to make sure we have enough apples, deli turkey, milk and bagels.)  My process for meal planning is to sit down with my Pinterest open and go through the recipes I’ve pinned.  Once I realize that most of it would not be enjoyed by my kids, I write down our basics for each day of the week with Friday always being Pizza Night.

Our basics include, but are not limited to:

  • Spaghetti
  • Chicken Tacos
  • Beef Tacos
  • Grilled Chicken and Rice
  • Chicken Tender Salad
  • Chicken Cheesesteaks
  • French Dip Sandwiches
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Hamburgers and Roasted Potatoes
  • Taco Salad

While these are all delicious and have variations depending on the side dishes and veggies, it can get old.

To encourage our whole family to try new things and to support more healthy eating, we started a new meal planning system.  This was all Jeremy’s idea and execution, but I am enjoying it.  Here is the gist…

We made a list of the proteins, carbs and veggies we eat.  Some of our favorites were doubled up (for example: chicken and salad) while others were combined into one (for example: ground beef/ground turkey and peas/green beans.)  Each choice is listed next to a number 1-6.  So there are 6 proteins choices, 6 carb choices and 6 veggie choices.  Every Saturday, I sit down with the master list and Yahtzee dice.  I shake up the dice and then write down the corresponding meal choice for that roll.  For instance, I could roll a 2, a 5 and a 3.  That would mean chicken, potatoes and asparagus.  I write that down for Meal 1 and move on to the rest.  In all, I roll for 5 meals knowing that Friday is still pizza night and that we’ll most likely go out to dinner one night over the weekend.  If I get too many of the same, I allow myself to roll again or pick a different choice that would fit the meal better.  Once I have all 5 meal choices down, I start figuring out how I’ll be preparing them.  It’s a challenge, but I like pushing my creativity.  And Jeremy joins in to help too!

Let me ask you…  What would you make if you rolled Pork, Tortilla and Broccoli?  Or No Meat, Potatoes and Corn?

The end result is that I’ve actually started trying some of my Pinterest recipes.  I’ve been looking for more vegetarian options for those “No Meat” days.  And we have started to appreciate the old basics more, especially after multiple failed attempts at new recipes.

Here are some of my more successful attempts at new things…  (and when I say successful, it means at least Jeremy and I both liked it!)

Lasagna Soup from Cooking Classy

Italian Drunken Noodles from The Cozy Apron

Hmmm… Only 2?  I thought I had more than that.  Ha!  Goes to show that it’s been a tough road so far.  But I’m not giving up yet!  One of my goals is to get my kids to like black beans before the year is over.  If they liked black beans, it would open up so many more options, especially for those vegetarian days.  If you have any tips, let me know!

All in all, I’ve been enjoying meal planning by the roll of the dice.  Can’t wait to see what Lady Luck chooses for us next week!

 

I’m Back! January 29, 2015

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 8:57 pm

I’ve debated whether to just jump back into posting like there hasn’t been an almost 4 month gap.  But I feel like there should be some explanation (if anyone is still actually reading!)  Honestly, I lost my mojo for a bit.  I was in a slump and writing was not what was going to pull me out of it.  And then when I did finally re-surface, I needed to focus on LIVING HAPPY and not tracking it on the blog.  So I apologize for the gap in writing, but I have a renewed spirit to get back into this.  I am in a good place and can’t wait to share again.

Let’s get to it!

We had a wonderful end of fall and holiday season.  Jen, Meema, Hayes and Rhys visited in early December.  We made gingerbread houses, went to the Legoland Discovery Center in Boston and just had a rip-roaring time.  I love having all the cousins together.  Even though it can get crazy at times, they are memories we will forever cherish.

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We traveled for Christmas, again leaving on Christmas Day.  Since Jeremy didn’t have many vacation days left, he had to fly home himself in the middle of the fun.  So we spent a few days with his family and then the kids and I went to spend a few days with my family.  It’s crazy how fast the time flies, but I can honestly say it was a relaxing and wonderful holiday.  It definitely went a long way towards warming and filling my heart.

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The new year started off with a very relaxing long weekend after returning home from the holiday travels.  We celebrated Cooper’s birthday as a family and then took a few of his friends bowling to celebrate the week after.  Hard to believe he is 7 already!

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Now we’re just in the midst of a cold winter here in New England – trying our best to stay warm, active and entertained.  Perfect time to blog, right?  Stay tuned!

 

An “Amazing” Birthday Party October 19, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 9:54 pm

For about a year before her birthday, Mason was insistent that she wanted an “Amazing Race” birthday party.  She has been a fan of the show ever since we started watching it as a family.  Jeremy and I have watched it for many seasons, but the kids got into it a couple of seasons ago.  They liked it so much that we started watching it from Season 1 on Hulu Plus.

Over the year, we had many ideas for how we would do this party, but it wasn’t until the last week before that we really figured it all out.  We purchased templates for clues from an Etsy shop, which was a great timesaver!  What was not a timesaver was the fact that we didn’t have a laminator, so we used packing tape to keep the clues strong and waterproof.

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And while we knew many (if not all) of the girls invited would have never seen “The Amazing Race,” we still wanted the party to be as authentic as we could get without going too crazy.  So here is how it all went down…

Once all the girls had arrived, Jeremy took them on a tour of our house so that they would be familiar with where some things might be that could show up on clues.  He even pointed out and stressed the location of things they wouldn’t need to know just to throw them off.  And since Mason didn’t even know what the challenges were, she was in the dark as well.

Unfortunately it was raining, so we had to do some last minute changes to the course and clues, but it didn’t stop us from getting the race off to a good start.

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When the race started, the girls ran to the other end of the driveway and looked for their name pin on a knapsack to figure out their team.  In each knapsack was a different clue to start each team on a different part of the race.  After that, the race was a circle of clues – just with each team starting at a different part of the circle.

There was basic “Route Info” directing the girls to somewhere in the house or yard to find their next clue.  These did not involve any real challenge, but were still fun.  Clues were in the mailbox, underneath the grill on the patio, in the fridge in the basement and finally in a suitcase in the hallway filled with suitcases.  From these clues, they would find out where their next challenge would take place.

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Photo Finish was one challenge where the girls had to look at a picture on the iPad of a scene created the day before with stuffed animals and Barbies and then re-create the scene exactly as seen.  Nana was in charge of this challenge, and she would help or be more lenient if it was taking a team too long.  Or on the other hand, she would be pretty strict with exactness if the team was getting it easily.  It was a favorite among many of the party-goers.

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Another basic challenge was Snack Attack. Each girl was given a cup filled with goldfish crackers and a place mat.  They had to spell their three-letter initials using the goldfish and then eat them all before getting their next clue.  Not a super hard challenge, but it was meant to offer a snack to everyone during the party (before pizza and cake) and just have a breather.  And it gave me a chance to talk to the girls and find out how everything was going.  I could also hold a team longer if other teams were having a hard time at another challenge.

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Our Road Block (a challenge where only one member of the team can do it) was one of the last-minute challenges we had come up with just the night before.  Going through many children’s books, we created a sentence and a key to find each word in the sentence.  There was a sheet with a clue for each word in the sentence telling where to find that word in one of the books.  For instance, the clue would read “Where The Sidewalk Ends, Page 36, Line 13, Word 2.”  When the one girl doing the challenge had completed the sentence, she would get her clue from Meema who was managing that station.  This challenge ended up taking more time than we expected.  And Meema had to bring the other team members into the challenge to help and move it along.  A hard challenge, but the girls still seemed to like the “scavenger hunt” aspect of it.

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The biggest hit, by far, was another last minute change.  We had originally had the Detour set up to be “Croquet or Obstacle Course,” but with the rain, we had to move the physical challenge into the garage.  It then became “Slow and Steady or Fast and Furious.”  Jeremy drew a track in the garage using sidewalk chalk – basically weaving back and forth across the garage floor.  The team had to choose if they would do the Slow and Steady challenge of balancing a ping pong ball on a spoon while also balancing a cone on their head and walking around the track or the Fast and Furious challenge of driving a remote control car through the track.  It was really interesting to see which teams picked which challenge.  And everyone loved this so much that when the race was over, they went back to keep doing it.  Kristin did a great job managing this challenge and keeping everyone on pace.

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Each team ended the race at one of the challenges.  After completing the last one, we would give them a Congratulations clue telling them they had completed the race and to go cheer on their friends.  We didn’t want to have a winning team because…  well, they are 8- and 9-year-old girls and competition is strong; and it’s a birthday party and things are supposed to be light and fun.

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After the race, it was time for pizza!  Always a hit.  And then instead of receiving gifts, Mason chose to do a book swap.  Each girl brought a wrapped book from home that they had read and enjoyed and wanted to pass on to someone else.  Then we did it “White Elephant” style where each girl picks a number out of a hat.  The girl who had number 1 got to choose a book and unwrap it.  The girl with number 2 could either steal the book already opened or choose a new book and so on.  They really got into it, and there were quite a few steals including one stare down between best friends over “Land of Stories” by Chris Colfer.  After it was all over, we allowed the girls to mutually agree to other trades if they wanted.  Each girl then got to put their book in their own knapsack to take home.

Finally cake time!  Just to give you a little background, Mason has always chosen cupcakes or a cookie cake for her birthday. And I’ve always wanted to “do it up” for her.  I mean the girl loves looking at cake books and pictures!  We knew cupcakes or a cookie cake wouldn’t work for The Amazing Race party.  So after looking up cakes on Pinterest, I found what I thought would be the easiest cake to do – a basic sheet cake iced to look like one of the clue envelopes.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Getting perfectly straight lines with buttercream frosting is impossible.  It was not pretty while I was doing it (both the cake and my attitude!)  But I finally resigned that it was good enough.  As long as it tasted good, right?  Mason was awesome about encouraging me and telling me that it looked great.  Love that girl!

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After we had finished everything, there was still time before parents would pick up their daughters, so what else is there to do with 9 third-grade girls?  Four Square of course!  We drew up a big court in the garage over the race track and let the girls have at it.  Everyone had a blast – even with all the rule clarification.  These girls know their rules and are very quick to adjust as needed when their spot is on the line.  Too funny!

We were so proud of this birthday party.  It was a lot of work, and we certainly couldn’t have done it without the help of Meema, Nana and Kristin.  Great memories were made, and Mason was happy, which is all that matters!  Definitely a birthday party to be remembered for a long time.  An “Amazing” birthday for an amazing girl!

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One Year Older October 14, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 6:36 am

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This girl turns 9 today.  Nine!? I can’t believe it.  But I won’t even go there – I’ll save all the sappy stuff for next year when we reach double digits.  For now, I’ll just focus on how awesome she is and how much we love her.

Jeremy said it best in a poem that he wrote last week as part of her “Star Of The Week” assignments. I think it is so true to who Mason is and how much she has matured over the past 9 years.

Her name is Mason, that much we all know,

But what makes her special, she’s just starting to show.

She’s thoughtful and kind, and quite smart to boot,

But did you know at soccer, she really can shoot?

She once was quite shy, but has recently shown,

That her confidence and bravery have considerably grown.

She used to be nervous about trying new things,

She’s now taken up guitar and is strumming new strings.

No more faithful a friend can you hope to find,

She’ll always be there to help out in a bind.

The foods that she likes are a limited list,

Unless it’s a treat, then none can be missed.

Her vast collection of Barbies are her favorite toys,

And cranking Katy Perry is her favorite noise.

She hopes one day to be a Teacher or Doctor, we’ll see,

Either way, the best one she’ll most certainly be.

So here’s to our Mason, a most charming young miss,

We love you, Mom and Dad, big hug and big kiss.

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Happy Birthday, Mason!  You rock!

 

So This Is What It’s Like… September 27, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 4:48 pm

We have managed to put off lots of extracurricular activities for the kids over the years.  If they did take a tennis or swimming lesson or go to a soccer clinic, we would either get them in the same class or schedule them to be one right after the other.  The over under would be one afternoon or a weekend morning a week.  Easy to handle, right?  We would hear other parents talking about just being chauffeurs for their kids, taking them from activity to activity.  Not only did we not want to overload our kids, but we didn’t want to overload ourselves.

But now we get it.  Do we ever get it!  What’s sad is that Cooper is only doing one activity – soccer, and Mason is doing two – soccer and guitar.  (Oh! And did I mention I’m coaching Mason’s team?!  Ack!) But between those three activities, we have something every night of the workweek except for Friday.  I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Ok, that sounds totally normal.”  But for us, this is a lot.  Coming from almost nothing (especially over the last couple of years) to now something 4 nights a week…  Whew!

Guitar is right after school two afternoons a week.  And then soccer practices are from 6-pm two nights a week.  That’s prime dinner cooking time for me!  That’s prime slow down time for the kids.  But now – not so much.  So I’ve been struggling to still manage healthy family dinners (rather than feeding the kids before soccer), getting homework done in a reasonable time, keeping the house in order and getting the kids to bed before 9pm.  Once 9pm hits now, Jeremy and I plop on the couch, turn on the TV and basically zone out.   I especially have no energy left for conversation, laundry, house cleaning, or even dirty dishes!  (And those that know me know that I hate leaving dishes in the sink!)

So is this what it will be like until they go to college?  I’m guessing this is just the beginning, and that this is tame compared to what it will be in a few years.  Therefore I’ll enjoy this time while I can – just like I enjoyed the quiet of pre-extracurricular activities.  And if you don’t hear from me again for a little while – you’ll understand.

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Final Summer Days September 10, 2014

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 9:37 pm

As the summer winded down, we still managed to get our fun in before school started (or really got under way at least!)  We all had a family trip down to the Mid-Atlantic to visit friends, family and attend a wedding.  It was great to take a whole week off and spend quality time together.  Not only did we get to see Nana and Papa for a few days, but we also visited old friends in the Baltimore/DC area.

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Always good to see the Hucks. We sure miss living close to them!

And more fun with the Kolegos!

And more fun with the Kolegos!

While we love going back to Maryland and Virginia, it’s always hard to figure out who we’re going to try to see.  There is never enough time to see everyone, and there are a few families we wish we could see more.  So for anyone reading this thinking, “Why didn’t they come see us?” I apologize.  Hopefully on the next trip!

After the Maryland leg of the trip, we headed down to Charlottesville to get in some fun Pease time.  Between the pool, hiking, playing with Smudge, and watching American Ninja Warrior, there were plenty of memories made.

Our little fish!

Our little fish!

Mason and Cooper were showing us how good they would be with a dog.  The debate continues...

Mason and Cooper were showing us how good they would be with a dog. The debate continues…

Rhys loves playing "dog" just like Smudge!

Rhys loves playing “dog” just like Smudge!

The end of the week didn’t mean the end of family time, though.  It meant time for McKenzie and Scott’s wedding!  So up to Shepherdstown we went.  It was wonderful to be with our extended family, and we were so excited to welcome McKenzie into the family.

These boys had enough Shirley Temples to last awhile.

These boys had enough Shirley Temples to last awhile.

Looking good for the ceremony - all smiles!

Looking good for the ceremony – all smiles!

Such fun to dress up and go out as a family!  And it was a beautiful wedding on a beautiful night!

Such fun to dress up and go out as a family! And it was a beautiful wedding on a beautiful night!

Some had fun (Mason danced the night away) and some got a bit bored...

Some had fun (Mason danced the night away) and some got a bit bored…

Besides the wedding, we celebrated Meema’s birthday, picked yummy peaches and just hung out together.  I was so grateful for the extended time together, no matter how exhausted we were after a week of travel.  Jeremy and I headed home to Rhode Island that Sunday and left the kids there for Camp Meema, which was followed by Camp Pease, which was followed by Camp PapaNana.  They were gone for 2 weeks!  You already saw what Jeremy and I accomplished while they were gone.  We also managed to eat out at a few of our favorite restaurants and try out new ones with other couples.  By the end of the two weeks, though, we were ready to be reunited with Mason and Cooper and to finish up the final days of summer.

 

 

 

 

 
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