Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shorty got low, low, low...

I love that song.  I'm not too proud to admit it.  I also have that song STUCK in my head, since hearing it twice in the last three days during Zumba class - which I also love.  I think the reason that I love workout classes like Zumba or aerobics/step aerobics is because I just want to dance! haha  But seriously, it really wouldn't be appropriate for this 30-year-old (eek, it looks even worse in type) mom of two to be spending her weekends at the club shaking her groove thang.  If this is how YOU spend your weekends, then more power to you, and I am just jealous.  And it wouldn't be appropriate to break out into the semi-pole dancer Zumba moves at the library sing a long either...So therefore I find Zumba class a place where I can bust out moves that I haven't since I was about 21- when I am sure I looked a lot better shaking said "groove thang", but hey that's just another motivator to go to class!  I get to bust a move (yup, that just dated me a little bit) and get in better shape doing it. - Win Win.

So here I am on New Year's Eve day joining a gym.  But it's not one of those muscle head, smells like boys, I can bench press more than you can gyms.  This place has lots of fun classes and appears to be mostly women.  Girl Power!  I am excited.  I haven't had a gym that I really loved since we lived in NC, and I am still sad that I couldn't move that place up north with us.  It was around 2008, and Ed had just got back from his deployment to Afghanistan.  He was in pretty darn good shape, since Afghanistan involved lots of working out, less eating, and much less sleep.  Hubby was looking good, if you know what I mean.  I joined a local gym that was like the creme de la freakin creme of gyms.  They had classes, machines, spinning rooms (I can't spin, it just hurts my butt), a pool, sauna, massage, etc etc.  Oh and a juice bar, BUT the best part about that place was the daycare.  It was like a real daycare inside of the gym.  Separate areas for babies and older kids, tables for snack time, and hospital scrub wearing babysitters that even changed diapers.  I would have married that gym.  I was going every single day.  I would pop Andrew into the daycare room, which he loved too, and hit up all the different step and aerobics classes.  I knew every step to every routine.  I was starting to get that 21-year-old's body back, and then we moved back home and it all came to a screeching halt.

Since then I have joined a gym and quit.  Joined the SAME gym again (really, you would think I would learn) and quit again.  I tried the whole couch to 5k thing, but it was more work to keep Audrey entertained than to actually run on the treadmill - and down right dangerous trying to do both simultaneously.  I tried doing a dance workout dvd in my living room, but Andrew just asked too many questions, and again I had to keep stopping to chase Audrey around.  So here I am starting fresh.  New cool "gym", new motivation, new year. 

Hope everyone has a fantastic and safe New Year's Eve!
ps.  If you enjoy reading, become a "follower" (sounds so cult-ish, but I promise there is no kool aid)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Dinner and a (Game) Show

I had such high hopes for dessert on Christmas Eve.  Was I going to make cookies? brownies? pie?  No no, far too boring for a holiday dessert.  So I chose mini Oreo chocolate cheesecakes.  The recipe seemed easy enough and I thought they would have that dessert "wow factor" that I strive for when baking.  So I started off with the cheesecake filling.  A cup of this, a tablespoon of that, blend together - done.  Then came the Oreo component.  I had already put Ed to work crushing Oreos to go both inside of the cheesecake filling and on top.  Are you getting a sense of how delicious they are going to be?  I then took out the mini muffin pan and proceeded to line each muffin cup with 5 mini Oreo halves, making sure to have the cookies' logos facing out.  This part was a little bit more tedious than I was prepared for.  But I plugged on.  Every little Oreo was put into place, just so.  When that step was complete I filled each muffin cup with cheesecake filling, making sure to have the little Oreos stay in place.  They were perfection.  I had even remembered to spray the muffin pan beforehand so that they wouldn't stick when I removed them to cool later.  As soon as I put them in the oven I remembered that I forgot to sprinkle the tops with the remaining crushed Oreo crumbs.  I pulled the oven door open, reached for the pan...

and proceeded to drop the whole darn tray of mini Oreo chocolate cheesecakes into the oven! So. Very. Sad.  I REALLY wish I had a before picture of my little cheesecake babies to show you.  They were beautiful. 

*Please note that by spraying the muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray they slid into the oven even faster when I dropped the tray. 

Feeling defeated and with an aroma of melting oven chocolate still thick in the air I left Ed with the bulk of the clean up and ran to Stop and Shop to buy a replacement dessert- Boston cream pie cake, which no one ate.  Because they either didn't like my choice, or didn't like "sweet desserts".  Actually, my sister's new boyfriend had a piece of cake, but I am pretty sure he was afraid not to.

I did redeem myself on Christmas with Dark Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes.  They were good and sadly I did not get a photo of them.  You will just have to trust me on that one. 

I am leaving you with a photo of our post dinner entertainment on Christmas day.  Ed arranged and hosted Family Feud.  It was a great time.  I highly suggest you feud with your family during your next get together!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Christmas Tree

Is yours real? Fake? Skinny or Plump?  White lights or colored?  Is it beautifully decorated in an array of color coordinated ornaments or half naked because the little elf in your house finds the ornaments more interesting when they AREN'T  on the tree?

There are so many different traditions when it comes to Christmas trees.  There are those that won't even consider it a tree if it didn't actually grow out of the ground.  They scoff at the artificial tree and its lack of pine-y fresh smell.  It just isn't Christmas for them if they didn't begin their days crawling under the tree to water it, and end their  days vacuuming up pine needles.  Those darn things get everywhere! 

In our house we have a "fake" tree.  A 6.5 foot "scotch pine", with the lights built right in - why make extra work for yourself with having to actually string lights?  It wasn't always this way for me though.  I grew up in a house where the rule was real tree or no tree.  And you guessed it, there was a yearly tradition around the way we acquired said tree.  Every year, on what seemed like the coldest night of the year,  my dad, mom, sister and I went to get the tree.  Always one week before Christmas.  No sooner, no later.  The tree was kept till New Year's Day usually, or whenever my parents got the energy to lug it back down the three flights of stairs from our apartment to the street.  (Some years they threw it out of the living room window, and we watched it crash into the yard - this was fun!)  Okay, back to the tree getting story...  We always went to Ann & Hope, because that is where you could find a $10 tree.  There was always a small section of these affordable priced trees, and if you looked long enough you could always find a decent one.  "Why pay $40 for a tree when you could get one for $10?" my dad would say! I remember ruining many a pair of cute pink fuzzy gloves while my sister and I held the tree up for my parents to give the look over (pine sap is almost as messy as pine needles.) The perfect tree would be picked out and brought home to be decorated.  The decorating (usually a day or two later) was a tradition in itself.  The same records would be put in the player - no I am not THAT old, my parents are just old school.  The Avon Christmas album was always a big hit.  We each took turns placing ornaments on the tree and it was one big night of family fun time. 

The decorating of my own family's current tree went more like this - Andrew was busy playing while I connected section A to B and B to C, and voila we had a tree!  The tree is pre-lit, so lights were already good to go.  My mom and dad showed up as I was laying out a game plan for having the colored ball ornaments be evenly spaced and distributed.  Glitter here, shiny here, metallic here, repeat (sometimes I take these things too far).  My mom decided she could do a better job (thanks mom), and took over the ornaments.  At this point Andrew was playing outside with Ed, and Audrey was eating puffs.  No Christmas music was playing. 

The tree lasted about an hour before Audrey got to it.  It is now half decorated, and people keep asking if that was intentional.  I am sure I will never find half of the ornaments that Audrey has removed.  Here is the picture of our half naked tree and a few of the more memorable ornaments. 
Isn't she a beauty?

I won this in an army wives ornament swap.  A general's wife brought it back from England.

Kokopelli - from our time living in Arizona


Airborne Santa.  Ed used to wear a red beret just like this.
Santa also salutes when you pull the string, very fun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Forced Family Fun, from our family to yours!

Welcome to my blog! I guess I will begin with telling you what the blog is all about.  Or else why would you want to read it, right?  Aside from the fact that I so nicely asked you to.  Okay, this is already going off track...

Forced Family Fun - the story of my life as an overachiever mommy.  Not that I always succeed at the overachieving part, but that is what I am shooting for.  It's good to set goals, isn't it? 
Growing up my family partook in lots of forced family fun time.  Usually holiday/season related and things that we did EVERY single year - till I was old enough to have a say.  Think -  family trips to the White Mountains in NH (Storyland gets pretty lame when you are 15),summers at Silver Lake, pumpkin picking, nearly freezing to death in Boston to look at ice sculptures (I still don't see the attraction there), fun fun FUN.  A lot of times these things were fun, and of course others, not so much.  Now that I am grown and have a family of my own, I find myself being the driving force behind the family fun time.  There are certain things that we HAVE to do each year, such as pumpkin picking, apple picking (these cannot be combined), driving around to look at lights, etc.  Other times family fun includes baking with the kids, and when I say "kids" I mean Andrew, because although Audrey is a bright 15-month-old, she still is no help in the kitchen, or some sort of family trip or activity that I think is a super great idea at the time.  This blog will be my way of sharing all of our fun (and sometimes not so fun) adventures with you!

I will leave you with a photo that is a classic example of forced family fun.  Our family trip to Disneyland last March. The trip that started off with 8 hours of plane rides, conjunctivitis, and a little boy who decided he liked the Enterprise rental lot way more than Disneyland.  The free daily happy hour at the hotel was really the saving grace of that trip. In this photo we had just waited in a long line full of whiny, overtired children to take a photo with Lightning Mcqueen and Mater, two of Andrew's favorite characters from the movie Cars.  He said from the beginning that he did not want to take the photo, but I thought for sure he would change his mind when it was our turn and we would have a lovely photo to remember our trip.Disneyland - "Let the Memories Begin"