Tuesday, August 31, 2010


As you can tell by the lack of blog posts lately, life has been busy around here lately! The first few weeks of the school year are always hectic while we get back into a routine again. The kids are really enjoying school this year and we enjoyed meeting their teachers at back to school night last week.

My green smoothie plan has surprisingly been a hit around here and the whole family is still drinking them every morning. I managed to kick my Diet Pepsi habit and replace it with smoothies and I have to admit I feel better. Our new plan is doing the couch to 5K program, which is a training program for people who have never been runners before. It starts off really slow and gets progressively harder over nine weeks and at the end you're supposed to be able to run a 5K. I'm definitely NOT a runner and I'm struggling with it, but Shawn is doing really great. I don't doubt that he's going to complete the whole nine weeks, but we'll see if I manage to get past week one. :)

I'm still working on some photo projects around here and one of the big ones was to get all the photos I have of Clarissa in Korea scanned. We were lucky to get over 200 photos of Clarissa's first 8 months of life that her wonderful foster mother took, but they were all prints and I really wanted digital copies so that I can make a photo book and so that I have a backup in case the originals are ever lost or damaged. I tried to scan them myself but it was taking forever and the quality wasn't very good, so I finally sent them off to be professionally scanned and put on a disk. It took almost a month to get them back and I've been REALLY nervous  about them being gone. After I sent them off I realized that if they somehow got lost in transit I would lose every photo of Clarissa's time in Korea, aside from the referral photos and the ones we took while we were there.

Fortunately they came back safely yesterday and I breathed a big sigh of relief. I'm happy to have all the photos on a disk and I had a really good time going through them yesterday. It's kind of weird to see photos of Clarissa before we knew her. It almost feels like I'm looking at photos of someone elses baby, it's hard to explain. It's hard to look at those photos and see everything we missed, but on the other hand I love that she's smiling in so many of them. She was so loved in Korea and I'm grateful for the photos because someday they're going to be precious to Clarissa. It fills in a lot of information that we wouldn't be able to provide otherwise about her first 8 months of life.

I thought I'd share some of the photos since it's fun to actually get to look at what was happening in her life while I was sitting here blogging, wondering where she was and what she was doing. I'm also going to share two photos I took of her yesterday because it's so much fun to see how much she's changed! (These are not in the right order. I tried to re-order them and Blogger didn't want to cooperate!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Apples and peaches and kale, oh my!

The kids have gone back to school and that means one thing for me. It's time to get a new hobby. And fortunately this hobby is going to make us all healthier and happier!

I'm on a health food kick.

Everyone that knows me just burst into uncontrollable laughter when they read that. Go ahead, laugh. I'll wait.

Ok, so I admit it. Fruits and vegetables aren't exactly my best friends. Actually, we haven't been speaking to each other much for quite some time. I have a lot of weird food issues. I have texture issues with fruit that make it really hard for me to eat a lot of it. It's not the taste I don't like, it's the texture. It makes me gag. I've had it all my life but it's gotten worse as an adult. I literally can't force myself to eat it. There are some fruits I can eat, like apples, but it's always a struggle for me to eat as much fruit as I should.

Veggies are kind of the same way. There is a short list of them that I really enjoy, like carrots and peas and corn, but there is a huge list of vegetables that I just absolutely can't eat. I know it's just a mental thing, but I literally can't choke them down. I can't do it.

It's something I've always struggled with and it's something I've tried to change a million times. I know I need to eat better, and I try, but it's hard.

So I was reading someone's blog recently and came across a post about green smoothies. Has everyone heard about green smoothies? It's basically a smoothie made with fruits and vegetables. You put greens in it, like kale or spinich or whatever you want, and then you add enough fresh fruit to mask the taste of the veggies.

As soon as I read about it I knew it was for me, so I was off to buy a good blender and some fruit. I have a blender and it's crappy, so before I went to the store I did a lot of research on blenders that would chop ice and make a smoothie without wimping out like the blender I currently have. What I found is that there are some SERIOUSLY expensive blenders out there! I was excited about my new smoothie kick, but not $400 worth of excited. But after reading a zillion reviews I found a blender in my price range that is supposed to do a great job with smoothies and I headed off to Bed Bath and Beyond this morning.

I knew how much I was planning to spend and when I got to the store I was pleasantly surprised that the blender was $50 less than I thought it was going to be. Yay! And then I happened to look next to the blenders and they had a stack of food dehydrators. A while ago I kicked around the idea of making fruit leather and dried fruit to get our family to eat more fruit but I had kind of forgotten about that idea. But the price of the dehydrator at the store was about just about the same price as the money I saved on the blender, so I figured I could buy both of them and spend what I was planning to spend when I went in there. Bonus!

So I bought my dehydrator and my blender and headed off to the grocery store to buy fruit and veggies. I bought kale, collard greens, spinich, strawberries, bananas, peaches and blueberries. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted so I bought a little bit of everything and figured I'd experiment.

I came home super excited to start play with my new toys and I got to work. I tried the smoothie first. There are lots of different ways to make a green smoothie, but here's what I did. I filled the blender about 2/3 full of greens. Then I added some strawberries, a banana, some peach slices, some blueberries and a little bit of yogurt. Then I added some water and ice (I don't know how much really. I just threw some in.). Then I put my new blender to work! It did an awesome job! Oh, I also added a little bit of liquid stevia to sweeten it a little. I was a little afraid of it tasting too much like collard greens!

I had to play around with it a little bit. I tasted it a few times and added a little more fruit but eventually I had a very drinkable smoothie! It looked kind of gross but it actually didn't taste bad at all. As long as I didn't think about the fact that I was drinking collard greens and spinich I did OK! :)

I'm going to try it again tomorrow and play around with it some more. I actually have some frozen tropical fruit blend in the freezer that I might try. Anyway, I think this might just work for me! I may even see if I can get the kids to drink one tomorrow. They're much better about eating fruit than I am, but it's a good way to sneak some extra veggies into their day.

So once that project was done I moved on to my dehydrator. I actually really like dried fruit and fruit leather so I was super excited to make my own. I read the manual that came with the dehydrator and there's actually all kinds of fun things you can dehydrate. I can dehydrate the roses in my yard and make potpouri! Fun!

I started with fruit leather. I wanted to do strawberry but I didn't want to use up all my strawberries so I decided to throw a peach in there. All I did was cut up some strawberries and a peach, I threw them in the blender and pureed it and poured it onto the dehydrator mat. That's all there is to making fruit leather! Then I used my super cool apple peeler to core and spiral cut an apple and laid out apple pieces on another tray to make apple chips.

I stacked the trays, put the top on the dehydrator, turned it on and waited four hours for it to be done. I should say that after all my fun with fruit today my house smelled AMAZING! It smelled like strawberries and peaches all afternoon.

Four hours later I took off the lid...and it turned out just OK. The taste of the fruit leather was great, but I think I may not have made it thick enough. It was a little crunchy. I'm going to try again tomorrow. The apples turned out good! Matthew especially liked them a lot. I'm excited to do some more experimenting with different fruits!

So there you have it; my new healthy hobby. Yay! :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First day of school!

The day has arrived, WAY too soon! This morning I got the boys off to their first day of school. Josh is in fifth grade this year (which means that this is his last year of elementary school!) and Matthew is in second grade. Where has the time gone? I honestly feel like it was just yesterday that we were sending Josh off to Kindergarten.

I do remember saying at the beginning of last school year that when the kids started school this year Clarissa would be here! That was fun to think about this morning.

If you've been around my blog for the past two years, you know that I have a tradition on the first day of school to take a picture of the boys on the front porch. It's really fun for me to look at every year and see how they've grown. I took the pictures this morning before they went to school and after they left I was looking at them on my computer and I was blown away at how grown up they look! Josh looks more like a teenager than a little kid these days. I'm not quite ready for that yet!

Anyway, I could go on for an hour about how much I love my kids and how they're growing up WAY to fast, but I'll spare you and just share the photos. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Checking in

Where did July go? I swear I blinked and it was over. This summer has flown by way too fast, I feel like we haven't gotten a chance to enjoy it as much as I wanted.

Things are going good around here though. The boys start school on Wednesday, so I've been running around like crazy getting school supplies ready and finishing up all the little projects I wanted to do before they go back to school. They're super excited to go back. Josh got the teacher he really wanted and Matthew's best friend is in his class, so things are looking good so far.

Friday night the boys tested for their high yellow belt in taekwondo. I will kick myself for the rest of my life that I didn't bring a video camera to the event because I missed what was probably the cutest and proudest moment of Matthews life so far! One of the things they had to do to earn their high yellow belt was break a board with a side kick. Keep in mind that Matthew is only six! He's one of the youngest kids at the school at his level, so he's really had to work to keep up with the big kids.

They've been practicing breaking the board in class and he's really struggled with it. It takes perfect aim, a lot of coordination, a lot of focus and a lot of strength to break a board with your foot. In class they practice with a plastic board that snaps together in the middle, so they can re-break it over and over, but at testing they use a real piece of wood. When I realized that the kids were going to need a LOT of practice to break it, I bought them a re-breakable plastic board so that they could practice at home.

Josh struggled with it at first but with a lot of practice has been able to break it pretty consistantly. Matthew, on the other hand, has continued to struggle. He practices over and over with every bit of strength he has, and it's just been really tough for him. The whole family has been working with him at home and encouraging him when he gets frustrated.

So the night of testing came and we were all nervous for him. Testing is nervewracking anyway because they have to stand up in front of a huge group of people to do it and every eye is on them. Frankly, they're braver than I am because standing in front of big groups of people freaks me out. There was several parts to the testing and they did all the other parts first. The kids had practiced a lot and flew though the other parts of the testing with no problem.

Then it came time to break the board. My stomach was in knots for Matthew. Seriously, I think I was more nervous than he was! They got out the board, Matthew stood up there, focused, kicked...and didn't break it. They told him to try again, so he focused again, kicked...and broke the board right in half! They're supposed to break it and then bow to the master and wait to be excused, but as soon as Matthew realized he'd broken it he got a huge grin on his face, started jumping up and down and ran over to Josh and Josh gave him a big hug and a high five. Everyone laughed and Master Lee had to remind him that he needed to go back and bow and wait to be dismissed, lol.

I can't tell the story even close to as well as it actually happened, and I literally can't stand the fact that it's not on video, but it honestly one of those moments in my life that I'm never going to forget. Watching Matthew practice every day and not give up even when it was hard, and then see him reach his goal was just awesome. And even more awesome was watching him run straight to his big brother for a hug after he did it. I was so proud of him that I was sitting there with tears in my eyes trying really hard not to start bawling! I LOVE my kids. I didn't know I could love anyone as much as I love them. I love watching them learn and grow and reach their goals and I love how close our family is. I love that we can share our struggles with each other and count on each other for support and I'm glad that my kids have siblings who will cheer them on and celebrate their victories with them.

Both of the boys did  fantastic job at testing and will officially be given their high yellow belts at their next class. I love that taekwondo school. Have I mentioned it lately?

In Clarissa news, she just gets cuter every day. :) Her two favorite words of the week are "shirt" and "stop it" (OK, technically that's three words). The other day the boys were arguing about something and Shawn said "Boys!" and Clarissa said "stop it!"! LOL! Apparently we say that a lot? It's now one of her favorite things to say. She is also obsessed with clothes all of a sudden, and likes to point out our shirts. Yesterday we were at the store and she lit up when we went through the clothing department. Between her love of purses, sunglasses and clothes, that kid is all girl. :)
That's pretty much all that's up around here right now. I'm sure I'll be back with picture of the boys first day of school on Wednesday! :)

Monday, August 2, 2010


I suck as a blogger these days! I have good intentions but they're kind of falling flat. Perhaps when the kids go back to school in a few weeks I'll get myself back in gear and become a consistant blogger again.

In the meantime, I'll just share some cute pictures. On Saturday we took the kids to the most awesome park in the world near our house and let them run wild through the fountains. It's the first time Clarissa has really encountered such a thing and a she wasn't quite sure what to do at first, but once she got used to it she had a BALL! We had to drag her out of there when it was time to go home. We'll definitely be going back soon!