Monday, April 6, 2015

The Lost Sea Adventure

Last weekend we slept in a cavern!
(or a cave...what's the difference?)

Before we get to that...check out my new sofas.
We had our black leather sofas for over 10 years and we finally upgraded.  
Romy (the cat with front claws) scratched the heck out of the old sofas.  For some reason he learned that if he scratched the sofa we would throw him out of the house.  Jokes on us because that's exactly what he wanted.

 Romy prefers to spend the entire day outside except for his afternoon nap from 11-3pm.
I was a little nervous leaving him locked inside for two days, fearing he would tear up the new sofas as his revenge.

So I covered them.  
(I knew I saved all of L and T's baby blankets for a reason.)

Once the sofas were covered and our bags were packed we hit the road for the Boy Scout trip to
The Lost Sea Adventure in Sweetwater, Tennessee. (about a 3 hour drive)

Unlimited screen time the whole way there.  Lauren is getting into music (prefers top 40) so she's probably jamming to Taylor Swift or Uptown Funk.

We got there in plenty of time.  Enough time for a group picture and a flag ceremony.

The weather outside was COLD. We picked the one weekend in March that had an overnight freeze warning.
Lucky for us the Caves/Caverns have a year round temperature of a humid 58 degrees.
Ready to head down. 

We carried our sleeping gear (no tents allowed) down the 150 steps into the cavern. 

At the bottom the guides led us to our sleeping spot where we dropped our packs.  Then they took us on a two hour guided tour of the caverns.

On our tour we saw stalagmites (growing up from the ground,) stalactites (growing down from the ceiling) and also this cool "bacon formation."

For the brave and not scared of damp clay, there were the crawling tours.  Matt, Lauren, and Tyler each went on at least one cave crawl.  (Think stomach to the ground and having to move like a worm to fit through.)  I kind of liked my shirt I was wearing and didn't want to ruin it.  Also, I'm not a fan of super tight and enclosed spaces so I took the alternative (upright walking) tour which was also pretty cool.  This place is amazing with all the big and small nooks and crannies.

Below is a picture of our boat ride on the Lost Sea.  There was actually a lake down there.  This lake was stocked with fish too.  Rainbow Trout.  Many years ago they stocked the lake with the trout as an experiment to see if the fish could find the source of the water.  They couldn't and can't so now the staff must feed them daily to sustain them.  They also said that because of the lack of light down there the fish have lost 20% of their eyesight.  (insert *crying face emoji*)

With only the light from our flashlights we weren't able to take many good pictures.

 After our tour concluded we were led back to our sleeping areas and we set up camp.
We have a tarp under us, some small foam pads, my pilates mat and our sleeping bags.  Matt and my sleeping bags are on the outside and L and T's are in between.
We spent the night under the ground.
(The echo was crazy.  There were other groups staying down there with us who didn't go to bed as early as we did.  We could hear every mumbled word.  And later on every rumbling snore.  I was very happy I brought some ear plugs! 
I'm not even going to comment on the pungent smell of the Port o Potties)
All in all...
It was pretty amazing.  It was huge and awesome, a bit commercialized but definitely a unique experience.

The next morning we had breakfast in the on site snack shack.  Eggs, sausage, and biscuits.
L and T provide proof we survived the night in the cavern.

On our way home we had our second breakfast at the Dunkin' Donuts attached to the nearest gas station.
(Tyler's souvenir from the trip was a 'coon skin cap)

We had a good time (I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it) at the Lost Sea Adventure but sleeping in a cave sure takes its toll.
Luckily we had a three hour ride home to catch up on some sleep.

Friday, April 3, 2015

On to the NINES

Happy 9th Birthday Tyler!

Look at my little Baby Blue.
Looking at those blue eyes makes me want to scoop him up in my arms.

At nine years old he's a lot heavier and less compliant than he was six years ago.

To celebrate to the NINES we started off with a family party on his actual birthday.
When he came home from school he saw this extensive gift arrangement.
(I reuse gift bags and tissue paper so if some seem familiar, they most definitely are.)

As the birthday boy, Tyler got to choose whatever he wanted for dinner.
fried chicken, mac'n cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy
(Why don't they ever choose any of my many homemade dishes?)

Lauren had a softball game later that evening so we got the festivities rolling early.
After dinner we sang Happy Birthday over some fancy birthday cupcakes.

Then it was time for PRESENTS!
He's into Tanks lately thanks to this game on his iPAD so he got a couple of Lego/Mega Block tank building kits along with clothes, a football, an over the door basketball hoop and lots of birthday money.
His gifts were all to the NINES!

Afterwards, we immediately got to work on some tank building.
(Lauren went on to win her game by the way)

The Friday after his birthday we celebrated with a party at SpeedZone which is a Slot Car Racing heaven.  The boys Tyler invited from the neighborhood all rode with us to the party.  
Before we left we let them get some energy out on the trampoline.

Finally we were on our way.  Rock tried to hide from the camera but I'm just too good.  I got him!

Party Time!
Racers, start your engines.
They raced slot cars in between pizza time, cake time and present time.
It was a fun party.

Pizza Time

Pizza Time

Cake Time
(I almost forgot to snap a picture)

Present Time
(more birthday money, a Lego set, a tank and a Game Stop gift card)
He's one lucky NINE year old.

 Instead of sending the party guests home with a gift bag of candy and trinkets I bought $5 Lego car sets and a pack of gum for each guest.

After the party, the neighborhood friends stayed over to build their cars.

Tyler had fun, everyone had fun, and I'm in disbelief that my blue eyed baby is already to the NINES!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy 11th Birthday Lauren

I can't think of a better way to come out of my blogging hiatus then to share about my baby girl's birthday.   

Somehow, without my permission or me actually aging at all, she turned ELEVEN years old.
Happy Birthday Lauren! 

She chose KFC for her special birthday dinner.

 Instead of cake she wanted Banana Splits.
...Happy Birthday to Lauren,
Happy Birthday to You.

She got some great gifts from her family.
Not pictured are the numerous checks (cash money) she received from out of town family.
(Hopefully you've all received your Thank You notes.)
For her friend party, Lauren wanted to go to the MALL.
(She really did turn 11?! sniff)

She made out invitations to two of her closest friends.

The weekend after her birthday we made it happen.
Z and L came over and requested Lauren open her presents before we head out for the Mall.
(She received some cash to spend and also a Justice gift card.)

Load 'em up!
We live on one side of town but the best mall, in my opinion, is on another side of town so off we went for a 60 minute car ride.

To break up the ride and grab some lunch we stopped at The VARSITY.
This place was an absolute zoo but that's to be expected when you serve burgers, dogs and greasy fries.  Heaven.
All three girls must have gotten something in their eyes at the same time.  I can't imagine why they wouldn't smile for the camera.
(hmm....11 year olds.....)

It was Game On when we got to the mall.
These girls didn't stop.  I'm pretty sure we hit every tween store and every tween department in every store and then some. We shopped for 3 1/2 hours straight.  The time flew by, the girls had so much fun, and they all came home with some really cute stuff.  

After we shopped till we dropped we stopped at California Pizza Kitchen for dinner.
It was a 60 minute wait for a table for 6 but they said they could get us in quicker if we were willing to take two booths next to each other instead.
I asked the girls if they wanted to eat by themselves and before I finished the sentence they said, "YES!!"
(hmm....11 year olds.....)

They were right behind us but I think they felt pretty grown up.

(btw: The wine bottle is just decoration and Lauren bought her glasses at Claire's.)

Back at home they played some Super Smash Bros. on the Wii before bed.

It was a fun packed sleep-over and I look forward to many more as we navigate these tween and teen years.

The next day, after her friends went home, Lauren laid out all her loot she bought at the mall.
Not bad, not bad at all.
She was excited to finally fit into clothes at American Eagle and I was excited that the only clothes she could fit into were the t-shirts!

With her extra birthday money she bought herself a pair of high-top Converse sneakers on-line.
I also once wore Converse high-tops so I had my Mom send a picture.
I think she wears them better.
(but I was kind of cute in a middle-school-awkward sort of way, right?!)

In conclusion, all her Daddy and I need to say is...
Happy Birthday Lauren!
We love you and are looking forward to all the great things being ELEVEN will bring!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekly Menu 2-9-2015

Even though it's been awhile since I've done a Weekly Menu we are still eating.  I've been eating a little too much myself lately so I've picked mostly healthy recipes this week. Enjoy!

Weekly Menu 2-9-2015

Monday:  Lasagna Soup & garlic toast
We had this tonight and it was D-LISH-US!!  Everyone licked their bowl clean.  Try it...for realz!
Tuesday:  Matt out for work dinner so L and T will make "Be My Valentine Chicken Saute" and "Hearts of Jasmine Rice" from the Spatulatta Cookbook.
Wednesday:  Cheesy Cajun Beef and Potato Bake & salad
Thursday:  Skinny Shrimp Alfredo Pasta Bake & corn & biscuits
Friday:  left-overs or pantry meal
Saturday:  Valentine's Day.  I bought a good looking steak from Patak's so I'm going to let Matt grill it up for us.
Sunday:  Mexi Meatloaf Muffins

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Shiny Clean Car

Check out my Shiny Clean Car!
Matt washed it for me and spent a ton of time on the wheels.
It looks great, Babe!

Unfortunately, he only agreed to wash it if I agreed to let him park his car in the garage for an entire week.  That's Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

My poor shiny clean car.
It's obviously out of its element

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quadruple Tooth Extraction

Quadruple Tooth Extraction

For a few years now we've known that Lauren was going to need braces.

Two years ago her Pediatric Dentist referred her to an Orthodontist to keep an eye on her and some issues that could be seen by x-ray.  The Orthodontist saw Lauren every six months FREE OF CHARGE just to monitor her progress. (We have yet to pay him a penny.)
At her last visit the Orthodontist decided it was time to get the ball rolling.  She had lost all but one of her baby teeth and there just wasn't room for all the grown up teeth to come in (neatly.)  He recommended a Quadruple Tooth Extraction and referred her to an Oral Surgeon.

We scheduled the appointment two months ahead of time.  We didn't tell Lauren about the appointment because the girl likes to STRESS and who needs to stress for two months?!

We told her a week before the appointment.  Every night we reassured her of all her worries.
"It'll be fine."  "There's nothing to worry about."  "This is a very common procedure."

Wouldn't you have it, two days prior to the Quadruple Tooth Extraction Matt had to go to China for a last minute work trip...

(I love the "FIND MY iPHONE" app.  He can't just pretend he's going to China anymore. he he he)

...and one day prior (yesterday) a bird pooped on Lauren while she was jumping on the trampling...
(She couldn't even look at it.  Gross.)

...and the forecast for today called for non-stop rain.

Despite all the bad "signs" we celebrated anyway.

Last night we had a final dinner for all of her teeth.
Lauren's favorite:  Campbell's soup and grilled cheese sandwiches to dip.
(a Grammy original according to Lauren) ;)

This morning came all too fast.
We got Tyler on the bus for school and Lauren smiled for her last full toothed smile picture. 

At the Oral Surgeon's office it seemed we were in the waiting room forever.
Lauren played on her iPad to pass the time.
At first she told me she just couldn't smile at all but then I somehow got her to laugh.
Finally they called us back.  I was thrilled that one of my friends was the surgeon's assistant.  She put Lauren at ease.  I was able to be in the room while they started Lauren on the laughing gas.  After she was settled in I made my way back to the waiting room.
(I fainted when I had my own teeth pulled as a sixth grader so I thought it best I didn't watch my daughter get her teeth pulled.) 

I was only in the waiting room for 20 minutes when the Dr. came out to tell me everything went well and she'll be out shortly.  In that time I was able to pay my share of the bill.
I'm thinking about insisting both of my children become Oral Surgeons.  The amount of money this Dr. made in 20 minutes is A-Mazing!!!!  (Thank goodness our insurance paid for most of it despite the Dr being "out-of-network.")

Lauren came into the waiting room telling me all about it.  Her mouth was full of gauze and it was hard to understand her but what I did understand was...1. It hurt "really bad" when they numbed her gums.  She felt every shot.  2. She cried and her legs shook the whole time and she almost tore off the arm rests from gripping them so hard. 3. It didn't hurt at all after the shots.
Poor Girl!!!!
My friend, the surgical nurse, said L did amazing and was braver than most of their adult patients.

Halfway through our 30 minute drive home Lauren told me she was hot.  I turned the heat down but that didn't seem to help.  10 minutes from our house she told me she felt like she was going to throw up.  I rolled her window all the way down even though it was pouring down rain to give her some fresh air.
We barely made it into the house when she went limp in my arms and I guided her to the sink where she got sick.
Blood, Gauze, and Puke
Somehow I just handled it.  I wiped off her mouth, applied clean gauze to stop the now dripping  blood, settled her on the sofa and cleaned the puke out of the sink.  No big deal for this Momma.

I put a cold wash cloth on her forehead.
Despite how miserable she looks in the photo she told me she felt so much better after throwing up.
(The boogie board is there because I told her not to talk.  If she wanted to say something she needed to write it down for me.)

One hour and a half later she was up and at 'em.

...checking her new NUMB look out in the mirror...
(She couldn't stop talking about how weird her numb mouth felt.)

...trying to eat Chicken Noodle Soup and Applesauce with a completely numb mouth...  
She dribbled all down her chin.  I have a pretty funny video but she wouldn't let me put it on the blog.

Look at these suckers.
(Lauren couldn't/wouldn't look at them.)

Despite having a Quadruple Tooth Extraction Lauren still made dinner for the three of us.
Her specialty: Pizza Cups.
They were delicious.

She also was able to do her evening chores.
(She's pointing at her duct tape design to keep the top of the broom handle from popping off.)

It wasn't until after a bowl of ice cream that her mouth started to bother her.

I gave her some Children's "Tylenol" and have some "Advil" ready to go if she needs it.

I also had her start icing her cheeks.
(There's a frozen pack of corn under her head.)

And then there's Tyler.
He's a great kid.  He was concerned about his sister when he came home from school.  He immediately sought her out and asked her how it was.  That didn't surprise me one bit.  That's who he is and he does what he does.
Right now he's into playing World of Tanks.

Lauren's next appointment is a follow up with the Oral Surgeon in two weeks and then she'll see the Orthodontist in 6 months after some of these grown-up teeth have settled into place.