Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A visit with Mommom & Poppop!

Steve's parents came for a visit at the beginning of July! They arrived on Thursday right about the time that Steve got off work. I babysat James on Thursday (the week was different since it was a holiday week) so things were a little crazy when they arrived -- kids needed naps, the usual! Steve was able to get off early and was able to set up his new smoker so that we could have pulled pork for dinner.  He and his parents worked on the smoking situation while I cared for the kids.  Since it was his first time smoking meat, he had to work out some kinks which resulted in us eating shaved pork sandwiches (meat was cooked, but not at a high enough temp to pull, who knew?!). 

(Playing blocks with Mommom!)

(Playing Star Wars Angry Birds with Poppop!)

(Chalk outside!)

(After dinner, we took Steve's parents to our favorite ice cream shack -- Pete's!  Bean loves piking out the chocolate pieces form my ice cream and always steals the last of the cone.  I can't get mad -- those are my favorites, too.  Just another way she is my mini-me!)

On Friday, we caravanned from Lima to Cincinnati with a pit stop in Dayton along the way.  There is a small hiking trail with a waterfall just off the highway.  We started Bean off in her stroller for the first part of the trail, but let her come out when we had to do the steps.  She enjoyed the freedom of walking but didn't so much like the rule of holding someone's hand.  A meltdown ensued and we had to force her to get back in the stroller.  She was a little hateful until promises of Dora in the car (DVD system) and lunch around the corner were given.  We ate lunch at our favorite pizza place -- Dewey's! Timing worked out perfectly for Bean to crash in the car after lunch.  

(Trail appeared to be stroller friendly.  I was going to make Bean walk, but Daddy & grandparents won out.  We always have a stroller driver whenever Poppop is around!)

(View of the waterfall from the top.  The trail was no longer stroller friendly, so Steve and his dad took turns carrying it while Mommom & I took Bean walking duty.)

(Bean loved going down the steps on her own -- of course! This girl is so independent.)

We continued our trek to Cincy and made it to Scott/Ashley's new house for the rest of the weekend.  The rest of the weekend is a blur.  There were multiple walks to parks (up and down hill both ways), yard work/house projects, delicious meals (Thanks Ash!), playground/splash pad/carousel, Grater's ice cream and meals out.  The highlight of the weekend was the fireworks in the park.  I was concerned on how Bean would handle the experience - walking to the park at 8:30pm, fireworks at 10pm, loud noises, having to walk back, etc.  She was a trooper!  She loved watching the fireworks and never even flinched at the noises.  She even stayed awake the stroller ride back (thanks Scott for pushing!) and happily crashed in bed at 11pm.  This girl never ceases to surprise me! 

(I brought books and toys with Bean to Ashley's house, although I probably didn't need to.  I think she only sat and played with the toys for like 5 min  while I took a picture.  The rest of the time, she was content to run around on the back deck.)

(How cool is this baby gate?!  There is a gate at the top and bottom of the stairs.  Scott and Ashley can put them up when they need, and easily take them down when they aren't needed.  Made my life easier knowing that Bean could run around on the main level and not get into too much trouble!)

(Look at those knees! Bean tripped a couple times that week and again at their house.  All the trips took a toll on her knees and she bloodied them up pretty good.  It didn't phase her too much, but boy do I hate dealing with injuries!)

(Walking to find the bike/scooter parade!)

(Aunt Ashley's turn to walk with Bean.)

(So there was a house in their neighborhood that had a sign up talking about the "Bike & Scooter parade starts here" with info of time/date.  I was curious and wanted to see the parade, as did others.  It didn't go down their street, so we went up a street and watched all the neighborhood kids go by. It was a legit parade complete with front pace car playing patriotic music and decked out in flags.)

(Going down the slide with uncle Scott.  Pretty sure he just used her to play on the playgrounds all weekend.)

(After the parade, we headed to a little kids park downtown.  There was different areas set up -- playground, giant keyboard/wind chime, water works, splash pad, swings, and carousel. Bean loved watching the water turn the wheel.)

(Enjoying the swings.  They were giant swings like what you'd have on a porch. They faced the river and it was very relaxing.)

(Bean wasn't too keen on being on the swing.)

(Riding on the carousel! Steve rode on one while I held Bean next to him.  She refused to get on - just like the carousel at the zoo.)

(When we got off the carousel, she actually pointed to it and asked to ride again.  Suuuuuure.  We got back on and she freaked out over being on it again.  So we sat on the bench.  On our first ride around, Steve asked why on earth anyone would pay to get on a carousel and just ride the bench -- now he knows why.)

(After the carousel, we put on Bean's suit and let her run around.  She didn't enjoy it like I thought she would. Time wise -- she was getting hungry and it was close to nap; but I had promised her she could get in the water, so I made the decision to just deal with the fallout.  She was a trooper and we were even able to enjoy a really good lunch with the family downtown.)

(This sucker was the key to success of the weekend.  Thanks again Ashley!  This kid would do anything for her sucker.)

(Coloring with Aunt Ashley)

(Selfie in the park!)

(I took a picture during the fireworks and got this hateful glare from Steve.  I wanted to capture how Bean intently started at the sky.  I guess I didn't think through the flash. . . )

On Sunday morning, we headed out for a late breakfast at the same restaurant Scott/Ashley took us on our last Cincinnati visit - Sleepy Bee.  After eating, we headed to a farmer's market and took in the people and overall experience.  Bean loved running around the little square/fountain.  There was a folk band playing and she'd randomly break out in dance, too.  We said goodbye to Steve's family at the farmer's market.  They headed to some stores and returned to the house to while we made a quick pit stop at Ikea before returning to Lima.  

(Dancing around the farmer's market.)

(Watching the folk music.)

(We didn't have anything on our minds when we went into Ikea -- other than hotdogs! Steve brought up the idea of getting Bean a little play table - how could I say no?!  So we decided to get Bean an early birthday present.  She is in love with it and uses it daily!  She plays with toys on it, sits and colors with me, and eats snacks and picnic meals on it.)

(Too cute not to include!  We are having one fun & busy summer!)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fort Wayne Zoo

Every six months, I have to get my wedding/engagement ring cleaned/inspected to upkeep the warranty on it.  We got it from Zales because we figured they are all over so wherever we end up living, there will be one close by.  However, the past 2 cities we've lived in haven't had a Zales! So I end up having to travel an hour+ away to find one.  Or we get fancy and time trips to pass by a Zales.  So far I've had my ring cleaned in Memphis, TN; Denver, CO; Lafayette, IN; Zanesville, OH; New Jersey; and now Ft. Wayne, IN!

I waited until the last possible day (has to be done in Nov/Dec & May/June - based on when the rings were purchased) in June to go get it taken care of.  It just so happened to work out that Fort Wayne is exactly half way between my house and my sister's house, has an awesome zoo, and the mall that the Zales is located at is 5 min from the zoo! So we set up a Zoo date!  Originally, I was going to go to Zales after the zoo, but knew if Bean didn't nap at all in the stroller, she'd zonk in the car and I didn't want to risk a meltdown to stop at the mall (the whole point of the trip to Ft. Wayne!).  So I went there first.

We got up, packed our lunch and hit the road by 8:45am.  That got us to the mall just after 10, right after it opened.  We zoomed in, I got my ring cleaned, and we were out of there in 10 min, getting us to the zoo at 10:20.  Amber and her girls were planning to get to the zoo earlier and we'd just join them when we got there.  However, they had just gotten there and hit up the bathrooms when we pulled into the parking lot.  So they waited for us.  It was a rainy morning and a little on the cool side, but the radar appeared clear once the system passed - and that's exactly what happened!  The rain stopped, the sun came out, and warmed us up! It was what I like to think of as perfect zoo weather.  The rainy morning detracts lots of people from going, so the crowds were down.

(Rain had just stopped when we got there! Bean didn't know what was going on and confused by all the attention at first, then she went with it.)

(Allie pushing while Gabbie & Emily held Bean's hands.  We finally had to set up a scheduled rotation of who was on Bean duty, who pushed the stroller, etc.)

The zoo is set up in 3 different loops Africa, Rain forest, then Australia/petting zoo.  We did the Africa first because we could hear the lions roaring.  A lot of the African animals (Zebras, ostriches, etc) were not out because they ground was too wet.  Our zoo trip just so happened to fall the week after all the monsoon rain and flooding had been going on.  After we did the first loop, we decided to go back to the cars and eat our lunch.  There is a picnic area outside the entrance (you get back in just by showing receipt), but the tables were all wet.  So Amber folded down the seats in her van and we ate a picnic lunch in the back! Haha

(You would think that all the older kids would be the ones looking at the camera.  It was like pulling teeth to get all of them to look at once.)

(As close as it is gonna get!)

(Picnic lunch in the back of the van!)

(Usually Bean wears a smock to keep food from off her clothes, but since she was eating on the floor of the van, I had to improvise.  Naked lunch and eating on the smock!)

The rest of the afternoon was spent seeing all the other animals.  As a special treat, I paid for a round of rides on the carousel.  It was Bean's first experience and I wasn't sure how it would go.  There's a little horse ride at our grocery store that she always asks to ride, but then freaks out once I put her on it.  She did the same thing with the carousel.  She freaked out if I tried to put her on an animal.  So my 3 nieces rode on animals, and then I held Bean and stood by an animal behind them.

(Playing in the shark outside the aquarium building.  Bean loved the shark, just not trying to coordinate a picture, haha.)

(Standing on the carousel. Wheeeee!)

After the carousel, we hit up the little petting zoo area.  Bean got really cranky and should have napped sooner, but was really fighting it.  She wanted me to hold her, and only me. Then it turned into her crying and kicking while I held her so I just put her back in the stroller.  She wasn't happy about it but then she zonked, so I was happy about it :).  We stopped and got a snack while she napped.  She only slept about 35 min and woke up in a panic.  It took her a little bit to really snap out of the panic, but that has happened before when she's really tired and naps hard for a short period like that.

(Cousins helping Bean play with the goats.)

(There is a little stand where you can get brushes to brush the goats.  Bean loved holding the brush and even brushed a couple goats. While I was watching her with the goats, I saw a goat poking its head out of the fence and getting something out of someone's stroller.  Then I realized, it was MY stroller!  The goat had my roll of crackers in its mouth trying to pull it out of my bag.  I got the crackers (which were all slobbery) and pushed the stroller further away from the fence, haha!)

(Things were going great in the petting zoo until the goats started pooping. Bean has been traumatized by a couple of pooping in the bath/shower incidents and doesn't like talking about poop or witnessing it - like in dogs, thanks Tyson! and goats.  So the goat would poop and Bean would start sobbing and saying, "no no no!" That's when I deemed naptime VERY important.)

(After fighting nap and being put in the stroller, she zonked out!)

(We stopped and enjoyed a nap while Bean slept.  Allie and Gabbie shared a freeze and wanted to drink it "Lady & the Tramp" style.  Not sure who was who!)

We finished up the zoo by walking by the sea lions again and then the gift shop, of course! Only downside of the day is that there wasn't a water play area anymore.  There used to be a fountain that kids could play in, but they took it out.  But the kids handled the change of their plans great!  (I think the carousel made up for it, or at least I'll pretend that).  At the shop, Bean got a pencil and her first ever sucker (which she loved).

(After Bean woke up we went and saw the sea lions again as we headed towards the gift shop.  She really liked watching them swim past her.)

(Time to say goodbye to the animals and make our way through the gift shop!)

(First sucker ever! She loved it.  I let her suck on it while the other girls finished shopping.  I used it as an incentive over the next couple days, but then the top came off the stick and I had to throw it away.  You would've thought the world ended! Sheesh!)

(These girls are hilarious.  They wanted a picture with the Zoo sign, but each wanted to sit on the same letter.  So we had to take the photo 3 times so they could all sit on the middle "o".  I joked about putting the stroller in different positions, but Bean didn't care.  She just enjoyed her sucker.)

 We had a great day!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

West Coast Visitors

Last month (still playing blog catch-up!) we had some special West Coast visitors!  Steve's aunt and cousin stopped by for a few days on their way home from visiting family on the East Coast.

It was fun to get to hang out with Jill & Maddie, share our home with them, get to know them more, and even JAM with them!  Jill is a fellow Jamberry "Sista" and we got to have tons of Jam time together! I am of course horrible about taking photos and got zero with Jill and I together.  We'll have to remedy that next visit together!

While they were here, Jill went with me to praise team practice (and saw a struggling practice without the main leader), we talked and applied Jamberry wraps, babysat James (Maddie loved entertaining the kiddos!), went shopping at the Outlet mall in Cincinnati, ate dinner at a local restaurant, Scott/Ashley/Tyson came up for a night, and we walked in the rain to a big garage sale nearby.  It was a packed 4 days of fun!

(Bean especially loved all the attention from these two!  Jill taught her how to play the kazoo - which she plays all around the house daily.  Bean loved to show off for these two by dancing and being her silly self.  They'd catch her silliness on their phones and Bean would ask to see the videos over and over and over again.)

(Dinner time shenanigans -- stealing sour cream, guac, and chips from Maddie!)

(After everyone left on Saturday, we discovered that the toilet in our bathroom was leaking!  We were in the living room and heard a crazy dripping sound and saw the water dripping from the ceiling in the dining room.  Ugh!  We immediately figured out it was the toilet.  Steve shut off the water, moved the toilet and discovered the seal was messed up.  So he cleaned up the seal and I got the brilliant idea to paint that little patch that I couldn't reach when the toilet was in place.  What should've taken a quick 5 min took like 25 because I let Bean help me stir the paint -- what could go wrong?!  Well, for starters, she could pull the stick up out of the paint and press it against her brand new outfit and get paint all over!  I panicked, tore the clothes off and ran to the other bathroom to wash the paint off.  3 washes later, the paint was gone!  I am a stain master! Steve got the paint off the floor and kept Bean entertained until I returned and finished up the painting on my own.  Then a trip to Menard's, new seal purchased and put back on, and the toilet problem was solved.  Whew! What a way to end a busy weekend!)

Monday, July 6, 2015


Steve and I enjoy watching Shark Tank and love learning more about some of the ideas that are presented.  One of those Shark Tank successes is a company called Plated.  You pay a subscription fee for them to have meals delivered to your home on a weekly basis.  You can get a discount when you first sign up, so we tried it out.  For less than $30, we got 3 meals (Steve got to pick them out). The regular price is around $70.  We cancelled our subscription right after our first delivery just so we could try it out.

The food all arrived together in a box via FedEx.  The box was wrapped in a plastic bag.  When I opened the plastic, then the box, I found a sealed refrigerated bag. I tore it open and started to unpack the food.  Bread, noodles, spices, and veggies were all up on top.  Each meal was packaged together and any items that were separate had a sticker on it that corresponded to the correct meal.  The last layer was the meat and 3 huge frozen packs.

Each meal had step by step instructions (with pictures). Everything was included in the box (not counting olive oil/salt/basic pantry items) and in the correct portions.  You just had to slice veggies, mix sauces, and cook!

Chicken Shawarma
We made this meal first.  It was delicious! Only complaint was that we wished there was a little more chicken and Lavash (bread).  We worked on making this meal together.  Steve mixed the dry ingredients with the oil and marinated the chicken while I got to slicing veggies.  It was really fun making dinner together in this manner! Steve could look at the next step and get to work (which if he was trying to help me cook, I typically can't explain what help I need and he just ends up standing there).

(Slicing up the veggies and following the step-by-step instructions.)

(Dinner is served! Lavash bread, the chicken, cucumber/tomato salad, and tahini sauce!)

(Yum! This did taste very fresh.  I also indulged in hummus and pita bread, not included in meal, haha.)

Pork Pad See Ew
This one was probably my favorite.  It was very flavorful! You got to decide how hot to make it by how much chili you included in it.  Other than the spices (which I could probably figure out), I'll be able to make this meal again pretty easy!

(Here you can see how a meal was packed.  In the bag was the peppers, soy sauce & fish sauce, and chili.  The noodles, thai basil, and meat were packed separately, but each item had the label that named the meal.)

(One of the peppers was bad, so I just tossed it.  I thought this was a crazy amount of peppers, but I trusted their judgement.)

(Delicious! Only mistake I made was not stirring the rice noodles in the water enough, so they got a little clumpy.  Lesson learned.)

Steak & Collard Greens
I was least excited about this meal when it arrived, but it actually wasn't as bad as I feared! I am not a fan of rarer meat and also feared the collard greens.  You cooked the greens in a lot of garlic which made them taste really good.  I did end up cooking my portion of meat a little longer (like I sliced them then laid the slices on the pan for some quick heat) just because I get crazy about the meat being red. Steve's only complaint was that there wasn't enough meat.

(Pretend like this is the meal I cooked and on my own plate.  This is the front side of the instruction sheet.  Each sheet told a little blurb about the history of the meal. We ate our dinner before I realized that I didn't take a picture.  I also didn't document the prep stage.  This meal was pretty straight forward, slice garlic and prep greens; put a rub on the steak and pan seer; butter the bread and fry it, add some sprinkle cheese.  Simple, yet a nice change of pace from the meals I normally make!)

All in all, I'd say we enjoyed the meals for the discount price but couldn't justify continuing the service at the regular price.  It was very nice to have all the ingredients portioned out and present (I'm one to forget one measly item at the store).  It was also really fun to make the meals together and it to be fool proof.  I could totally see using this service if we lived in an apartment in some busy city (where it's hard to plan out meals and shop in advance) but for now I will stick to my shopping at Meijer and cramming my brain for what to make for dinner.