Monday, August 26, 2013

38 x 38 - Silver Lining Rafting

For three years now, rafting has been on my annual bucket list and I never get to mark it off....until now! Woot woot!

Some good friends of mine organized a rafting trip on the Rogue River. The boys and I (plus Marc's girlfriend) decided to join in. So yesterday morning we woke up to head out to Shady Cove, Oregon. The sky was cloudy and ominous with the feeling of rain. As we drove closer to our destination, the downpour began. My windshield wipers were doing double-time as we drove. The kids were convinced that we should still go.....they're "justification" was that we were going to get wet anyway. Good point. I could see blue skies in the distance so held out hope that there'd be a break.

Waiting in the rain for a table that can seat 21!
We arrived at the rafting place (and I'm going to not name them because...well, I'm going to make fun of them) and ducked under the awning as we watched the rain fall. Twenty-four of us showed up and three promptly left (it wasn't us). The 21 of us remaining decided to head to breakfast to see if the storm would break.

Lucky for us, it broke! It was a balmy 70 degrees as these crazy people decided to head out and take their chances. Yes, I'm one of those crazy people. And I'm so glad. It ended up being beautiful. 75 degrees, sunshine, good friends, beautiful scenery, and we all made it back in one piece:)

We met back at the rental raft place. Our fees included a "shuttle" to the drop off point 13 miles upriver.

The van looked like something you'd see parked at the side of the road with a sticker warning that it will be towed if it's not moved by xxxxxx date. Two 12 passenger vans sat at the place and we were deciding where folks would sit when the guy informed us we'd only be taking one "shuttle."

21 of us. That's Nate's red arm in the front,
he's sitting on my lap
Yes, all 21 of use piled in a 12 passenger van. I sat next to the sliding side door. It had no door opener from the inside and when he "closed" it he told me not to lean against it because I should think of it more as "curtain" than a door. WTH?? There was a good 4-6 inch gap between the van and the door. Yikes! On the bright side, we were suddenly glad it was 100 degrees!

We arrived safe and sound. Three rafts, 21 people, coolers, life vests, and ready for a good time!

I don't have many photos as I left both my camera and my phone in the car (didn't want to risk ruining either. Here's a few I have (thanks for friends who dared bring theirs along).
All of us getting ready to head out

After the trip! 

Yay! I'd do it again (although maybe with a different rental place)!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kid-Friendly Reno Vacation - Part 2

Yesterday I posted about a kid-friendly vacation to Reno. Today, I'll share a few more photos with you.

Nate loves to swim. I think we could have spent every single day, all day at the pool and he would be happy. But instead we woke early and headed to the pool for a few hours. A hint to those of you going to Reno: go to the pool EARLY. We were there at 8 a.m. and it was perfect. In fact, we were the only ones there. I think everyone else was in bed with hangovers. Go at 8 a.m. and you have a giant pool all to yourselves.

(one more post about swimming, because of my weight loss for the first time in like 10 years, I actually put on a swimsuit and got in the pool with Nate!) 

No vacation post would be complete without talking food. First, as you know. . . I'm on a mission to change my eating habits. Brag time...I managed to lose 5 lbs on vacation. My trick? I stuck to my program. I ate 5 medifast meals a day and one lean and green meal. Boy it helped with my budget too! haha

One night, we chose Brasserie St. James to eat and I have to say it was easily one of the best meals I've had in my life.

We ordered this Brazilian/Argentinian bbq skillet thing and it was four or five different meats and tons of roasted veggies. The photo doesn't do it me if you're in Reno, eat here!

We visited the National Automobile Museum and it's ranked as one of the top 5 in the United States. I'm not really a car person and I loved it! It was laid out very cool with different galleries for different time periods.

When you walked out of the gallery, you walked onto a street decorated like that era! For example, here this car was set up in a 1950 looking garage. Interesting note....we met the man who cleans and takes care of all these cars and every single car in the museum runs and can be driven.

Here Nate and Liam had played dress up (like gangsters or cops depending on their mood) and posed in one of the photos on the "street"

 And here Paige and Marc had dressed up.

You should recognize this car. Jack and Rose made out in it in the Titanic movie!

One day, we headed out to do a little fishing. We packed hot dogs and a picnic lunch and visited Washoe Lake State Park. It was a pretty little park. Not great fishing....the water was really low and really warm. Here Marcus has waded out to almost the middle of the lake and as you can see he's only knee high. They saw big fish in the water but they weren't biting. It was still fun and the little kids had a great time wading out to the middle!

And here are just some random silly photos. Paige and Marcus went to the mall one day. Paige was after really cool studded sneakers (she's a little punk girl) and Marcus wanted a necklace for his girlfriend. They posed with these silly glasses.

 The boys got in a food fight in the elevator. Shoved eachothers faces in cupcakes. I wanted to tell them to behave but they were so busy giggling and we were the only ones in the elevator so I laughed with them and took this photo.

Eating ice cream at Virginia City with Grandpa.

My sis and I pose for photos at the lookout on our way to Virginia City.

All in all, it was a great time in Reno!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kid-Friendly Reno Vacation - Part 1

I've often said I would not take my kids on vacation to some place like Reno or Las Vegas. I know both places have activities for kids but I just haven't thought it'd be that much fun. I think it's mostly selfish....if I'm in Reno or Vegas, I want to do adult things. I want to drink a little, gamble a little, take in a few shows, stay up until 2 a.m. and eat to excess.

Nevertheless, this year's summer vacation was to . . . Reno. And we had a fantastic time! Who knew Reno with kids could be so fun. Here are a few photos from our trip.

One of our favorite shows to watch on TV is Fast N' Loud which is filmed at the Gas Monkey Garage. As we pulled in to our hotel, a car that we've seen featured on it was parked just a couple of spaces down. The kids were thrilled!

We stayed at the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino which was great. They have a pool, bowling alley, movie theater, arcade, go carts, driving range, little amusement park, and more. I highly recommend it!

Here the family waits for their turn on the go carts. From left to right: Dad, Nate, Luke, Marc, Paige, Katie, Liam, and Tara.

My dad and brother-in-law convinced Marc to try the "Ultimate Thrill" ride with them. They were harnessed in, raised 180 feet in the air, and then dropped. After free falling, they swing like a pendulum at 65-70 mph until they stop. Yikes! Look at their grins:

One day, we travelled to Virginia City to check it out. It was a cute town (albeit a tourist trap). A hint: if you buy your tickets to the museums at the visitor center, you get discounts!

There we walked through little shops, took a mine tour, and watched an old west gun show.

Nate posing as a gunslinger
This guy was on the street, swearing this is the owl from Harry Potter

I loved the tin ceilings and the light fixtures and architecture

The wild west show was awesome. Entertaining. Cheesy. Fun for the whole family

The kids are in heaven
Instead of making this post really really really long, I'll end it there for today. Check back tomorrow for more pictures of our vacation.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Advice for the Divorced

50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.

According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:

  • The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%
  • The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%
  • The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

So wow, third time is NOT a charm is it??  I saw those statistics above and had a very cynical thought.....I know teaching my sons to be great husbands is important but maybe teaching them to be an ex-husband is important too. Cynical I know but perhaps (and very sadly) just as important. If it helps you handle this thought, I do think there's a way to teach them to be a great ex-husband that will also prepare them to be the best husband they can be. 

  • Be respectful. Of course, this one applies to everything in life. There are people that I deal with daily that I don't like but they still deserve respect. Sometimes it's hard but search for that little part of your ex that you were attracted to in the beginning. There has to be something you can find positive. 
  • Communicate. Man, if we had the ability to communicate perhaps we wouldn't be where we are. Oh well, communication is still key. And do it respectfully. There really is a way to say, "I don't care for that, let's try this instead." Avoid being passive aggressive. It's really better to say "I don't like this" and then offer ideas for solutions instead of resorting to insults and fighting with no real true desire to fix it. 
  • Listen. Don't pretend you know what the other person's motives are because you don't. Truth is, there may be no motive. Don't pretend to know what the other person wants. Open your mind and listen. Try to work out a way to keep a tiny bit of your relationship intact. 
  • Focus on what's important. Of course, in our case this is the kids. Think about what's in their best interest. If you're about to answer negatively or with a "no" (could be to calling the other parent, allowing time that isn't "yours" etc) ask yourself who you're hurting. Sometimes no is the right answer but if it's because you want to "get" your ex, then count to ten and think it through. 
  • Don't let hate, anger, and bitterness dwell. This one just seems to be common sense. I don't know why anyone would choose to live that way. It's bad physically, mentally and spiritually. Eventually all that pent-up yuck will affect your health in a very real way. It'll affect your other relationships. It will affect your performance at work. It will affect your life! Let it go. Forgive. Move on. 
  • Pray. Now you may not be a praying kind but I am. I pray for me, I pray for the kids, I pray for my ex-husband, his new wife, and her daughter. I pray for happiness and well-being for all of us. I pray for healing, strength, and wisdom. 
  • Remember that it takes a village. Back to the really does take a village to raise kids and I try to look at their new stepmom as one more person looking out for their best interests. For example, my ex recently married. I remember having a moment of panic when she first entered the picture that perhaps she'd replace me. This was quickly and swiftly put as far from my mind as I could. When the kids talk about her, I'm supportive and listen. When she comes to their events, I smile and say hello. When my youngest wants to take her a card or wants me to help him make her a piece of jewelry, I do it. Why? Because kids pick up on our feelings far more than we want them to. She's in their life, she's not going anywhere right now and why should I make my kids uncomfortable. To me, it makes more sense for the kids to see us being supportive of the other household. My kids will spend roughly half their time with would make sense to me to build a relationship of respect. I may not be best friends, we won't have coffee any time soon, and I doubt we'll have hour long conversations "just because" but again, a relationship of respect is necessary.
Well, I'm sure there are a ton more suggestions I could give you. And I can tell you sometimes I fail. But these are the rules I try to stick to. 

Of course, I hope my kids never go through divorce. I hope they've learned from my mistakes. 

I'd love to hear your tips too! Share them if you'd like. Disagree if you'd like. Add to my list:) 

Monday, August 5, 2013

38 x 38 - Try 12 New Recipes (No. 10, 11, and 12)

This weekend was full of new recipes that were delicious and easy!

First up, from Pinterest - it's Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. DELICIOUS! or at least that's what the boys tell me. I didn't eat any but their only complaint was that there wasn't enough. So double-up the recipe if you're feeding teenagers. (note: mine didn't look as pretty as the pinned version)

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

4 tablespoons of melted butter
1/4 cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon


1 cup of all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
1 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of milk
4 tablespoons of melted butter
1 egg, lightly beaten

Maple Coffee Glaze

1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons of heavy cream
1 tablespoon of brewed coffee
1 teaspoon of maple extract

For full directions on the pancakes, visit the link posted.

My next recipe came about because the boys wanted bread but I had no yeast. I searched and searched until I settled on Irish Soda Bread.

Irish Soda Bread

  • 4 c. stone ground whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 ts Salt 
  • 1 1/2 ts Baking soda
  • 2 c White flour
  • 2 cups Buttermilk or sweet milk

Mix the whole wheat flour thoroughly with the white flour, salt, and soda. Make a well in the center and gradually mix in the liquid. Stir with a wooden spoon. You may need less, or more liquid - it depends on the absorbent quality of the flour. The dough should be soft but manageable. Knead the dough into a ball in the mixing bowl with your floured hands.
Put on a lightly floured baking sheet and with the palm of your hand flatten out in a circle 1 1/2 inches thick.With a knife dipped in flour, make a cross through the center of the bread so that it will easily break into quarters when it is baked. I baked mine in a buttered cast iron skillet. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake a further 15 minutes.

And lastly, I discovered no one had been eating fruit in my house. Unfortunately, I discovered this AFTER buying another drawerful of fruit. So I searched for something to use up peaches and apricots and I settled on:

Peach/Apricot Crisp

2 cups peaches, peeled and cut in wedges
2 cups apricots, halved or quartered
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
Combine the apricots and peaches in a bowl, squeeze lemon juice over and mix well to prevent oxidation. Add sugar and toss to combine. Mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and add to the peach-apricot mixture. Set aside until ready to bake.

2 cups rolled oats (quick cooking)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
Place rolled oats in a large bowl. Add sugar and flour and mix well. I often do this with clean hands.
Add the melted butter and mix with a spatula until mixture is crumbly.

Place the fruits in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the topping over, as much or as little as you’d like. Place remaining topping in a plastic bag and freeze for another occasion. Place the baking dish in a preheated 375℉ oven. Cook for about 30 minutes until juices are bubbling and topping is turning golden. Serve warm with ice cream. 

All these recipes were delicious! Give them a try!!

Friday, August 2, 2013

38 x 38 - Finish a Project on Pinterest

Last year, I attempted the know, a picture every day. I failed. It lasted approximately 3 days and I gave up. So when I saw a July Photo-a-Day Challenge on Pinterest, I thought I'd give it a shot and I actually completed it.

Every day, there was a theme and you took a photo accordingly and posted it in Instagram. Now, this also forced me to use Instagram and now I'm sort of addicted. I love seeing all my friends photos! You can follow me on Instagram but I thought I'd share a few of the photos I posted in July:

Day 3 - Red -

Red happens to be my favorite color and here are three of my fave red things - nail polish, lip gloss, and jewelry!
Add caption

 Day 14 - Share

Miss Eva Massie shared her 70+ years of quilting knowledge with me

Day 18 - Smells Delicious

I'm a lotion addict and this is the most delicious smelling, moisturizing stuff out there. Love love love this product!

Day 19 - In the Neighborhood

This old house from the 20's is right across from my work. I want it!!

Day 20 - Love is...

Love is time with my boys! 

 Day 23 - Below

This is a photo I took from below the dam while we were fishing.

Day 26 - Weather

Here's a photo of the weather rolling in across the refuge

Day 28 - Old

I have some really great old letters and I read them often. This one, dated July 16, 1941 mentions that it was 100 degrees in Seattle on that date, setting a record. I looked it up and that record held until 2009!! This letter also mentions the war and rations and how women are going to work. I love the way people used to write!

Those are some of the highlights!