Friday, December 31, 2010

First 5/Last 5

Happy New Year from me, Bill, Reagan, & Nolan!

The first 5 pictures I took in 2010
(not bad for being a bit, ahem, intoxicated)






The last 5 pictures I took in 2010






and more than 8,000 in between.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Glass 1/2 Empty kind of day

I'm going to be negative here, because I can and i need to get it out.

1. surgery sucks
2. both my kids have barfed their heads off in the last 72 hours.
3. i can't do a thing for them, not even a proper hug.
4. there is a mouse in our basement eating through my stockpile of good deals. F-U mouse. hopefully, he ate some of the "treat" bill left for him.
5. WTF are my cats doing while there is a party going on in my basement?
6. i can't hold my camera. I haven't gone more than 2 days without taking a picture in 2 years. there is a ice-encased lighthouse to photograph that is calling my name
7. i am not patient. i do not want to do 6 MONTHS of rehab
8. the browns are losing
9. I'm not going to be able to take my kids to Country Lights this week.
10. my throat hurts, my ribs ache, my back is sore

sure there are positives, like I woke up this morning and I'm lucky to have Bill taking care of as much as he possibly can and my mom to take Reagan for the day, but at this minute my glass is 1/2 empty and this is my pity party.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa Take 4 or 5, I've Lost Count

http://www.nolanpchak.blogspot.com/

Bill was beyond excited when I announced that we would be attending yet another Breakfast With Santa.

No.
Really.
He REALLY was because it was at A BAR.
One that has a lot of great IPA’s on tap, especially his very favorite, Racer 5. (Hint, hint…foreshadowing) 


So last Saturday morning we set off for Happy Dog. We feasted on pancakes and sausage for the kids; hotdogs and tator tots for the grownups (who ended up eating the kids leftover pancakes because they were so good!)

Of course, the Big Guy was there. Yes, Reagan got right up on his lap. They talked a long time while many of us tried to convince Nolan that he needed to go tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas.




After some small talk about her brother, Santa asked Reagan standard, “What do you want for Christmas, little girl?” Reagan replied, “The Playmobil Zoo and some Racer 5.”

I.AM.NOT.MAKING.THIS.UP.

My friend, Jen, was standing next to me as a witness. I thought I'd have to pick her up off the floor.

My three year old daughter, make that Bill’s 3 year old daughter, just asked Santa for a 6 pack of a hoppy California IPA.

BEER.

She asked SANTA for BEER.
(I’m sure there was a little coaching while in line, right Daddy?)

When in Rome, I guess.

Meanwhile, Tommy the pinball wizard was hanging in the back of the bar near the games. The only thing that got him up there was telling him I would actually put money in the pinball machine after suffering through a photo op for Mommy.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Santa and Reagan waited.....
...and waited.

Nolan slowly waked to the stage.

Santa went to put his arm around him.

Nolan took two more steps to the right and rolled his eyes upward. He didn’t breath. He didn’t blink. He wouldn’t even glance to the left.
The sheer agony.
When I told him to step away, he took a deep sigh and walked away. Santa offered him a popcorn ball, but he wasn’t going back for it, so Santa rolled it to him.
In the meantime, the Racer 5 Queen was busy making the bubbles disappear in her Daddy's beer by dipping her fingers in it while he chatted up the bartender.


Two peas in a (Bear Republic) pod.

Of course, when it is time for Santa to take his leave, Nolan was all over him.

Crazy fun times, people.
Or just crazy!
I wouldn't have it any other way.




Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa Takes 1 & 2

Nolan had made it pretty clear that was having nothing to do with Santa this year. We got to the mall and he stayed true to his word.

Take 1
Reagan and Santa were singing songs and taking about the jingle bell necklace she had and how magical it is, etc.

Nolan laid down in line and refused to get up.

We decided to walk around and give him time to warm up to the idea, have a little lunch, ride the train (several times) and do a little (bribe) shopping.



Three hours later we walked back over to the Santa. Of course, he was at lunch. So we had to wait. Giving him more time to regret his decision to try again.

He reluctantly agreed to hold Reagan's hand.
....and eventually let go of my Mom's! lol

And then decided that Santa is not such a bad guy after all.
Success. Sort of.

And because I strive to be honest on this little blog o'mine, I have to mention this little story. Reagan was so excited to ride the train and see Santa a second time that at lunch she shoved two Chick-Fil-A nuggets in her yop at one time.

You guessed it.

She choked.

And then she kitty barfed. In the middle of the mall food court.

That would have been a good time to be the Wicked Witch of the West and just casually melt into the floor.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time to Shutter.....Shutterfly That Is

You know me and pictures. I take them of everything. I like to share them. I like to design gifts around them. It is no shock that I design my kids birthday invitations and our Christmas cards every year.

I've already started thinking about this years cards, but when I started working on them on Shutterfly I stumbled upon some of our past Christmas cards.

2007

Heritage Holiday Christmas
Get custom photo Christmas cards online at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.


2008

Modern Wreath Christmas
Shop Shutterfly for elegant custom Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.


Where have those little babies gone?!

My current fave for this year; although I find a new one I like every time I go on the site: http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/cards-stationery/retro-kaleidoscope-holiday-card-5x7-flat?sortType=1&storeNode=93479

I really like Shutterfly's HUGE variety of cards, reasonable prices (they always have some kind of special going on this time of year too), and a very easy site to navigate and design with.

I've already created several versions of our holiday card and calendars and mugs, and well you get my point.....this year, but no matter which one I go with it will have the shutterfly logo on the back.

If you are looking for a personalized gift, they've got it. No, they've got several to choose from so check them out:

· Christmas photo cards www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-photo-cards

· Holiday invitations www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-invitations

· Holiday photo cards www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery
· calendar www.shutterfly.com/calendars 

· address labels www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/address-labels 

· personalized mugs www.shutterfly.com/photo-gifts/photo-mugs

For writing this post, I'm going to get 50 free cards (puts a nice dent in the 120 or so that we send) and you can too. All you have to do is go here, fill out the little form and then you'll get an email about how you can write a little blog and get free stuff.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Three Tiers of Memories

www.nolanpchak.blogspot.com


Other than the kids toys, I don’t care for a lot of knick-knacks. I like to display pictures and a few things that have a deep meaning to me. Some of these things reside in my kitchen on a three-tiered shelf next to the sink.

On two of those shelves are mementos from my Grandparents houses; the third contains my very favorite picture of Reagan and Nolan when they were babies and a dish I painted on our honeymoon in Mexico.

On the second shelf are my Granny Pike’s measuring cups and spoons. They are metal and some parts of the spoons are so worn that they feel like they are about to snap. She was a good cook and I like to think she is standing beside me in my kitchen when I measure with her spoons. I secretly hope someday when I’m holding a measuring cup it is going to guide me through the kitchen allowing me to make her apricot rolls that I miss so much at the holidays. (Cut me some slack, I just saw Harry Potter. A girl can dream!)

Next to those cups are Pillsbury Dough Boy salt and pepper shakers. Those held a spot on my Grandma Neiman’s stove. They didn’t get used much because she didn’t like “spicy” things. I’m sure the salt got used for baking because she could make a mean torte cake and some tasty thumbprint cookies.

On the highest shelf are clear glass oil and vinegar bottles. The oil label has long since fallen off, but the vinegar one is there. It was made with one of those hand-held embossed label makers.

Dial, click, dial, click, dial, click.
My Pappy had one of those and would sit in his rocking chair and make labels for hours. Basically everything in their house had a label. Helpful things like the water valves on/off positions and then more basic things like “sewing machine.” I’m pretty sure his label fetish drove my Granny crazy, but that green label brings back mucho memories for me.

Nearby is the photo collage I made for Papa Neiman to give to him for Father’s Day this past June. We never got a chance to give it to him. He left us a few days before.

As I dusted off each one of these special pieces, I started thinking about what Thanksgiving would be like if they were all here with me. There would be tasty apricot rolls (probably with a label on it), but more importantly there would be laughter and probably a little yelling if Pappy drank too much Rolling Rock, which would have been highly likely. Granny Pike would have been yelling “whoopee” an awful lot as the kids put on a show for her and got all wound up. Papa Neiman would be sitting there eating and eating and eating. And asking for a goodie bag to take home. His shirt pocket would have cookies stuffed in them. Grandma Neiman would be yelling at him to stop eating as she sat at the table smacking her lips (habit) with her perfectly coiffed hair (set every Friday at Beth’s Beauty Shop in Slavic Village), but she’d not forget to bring out the trays of thumbprint cookies with her special cream cheese frosting. But only after everyone was around the table, lest someone eat them all up before the others got a chance.

I can’t have them here, no matter how hard I try. They no longer walk this earth in body form. Their circle of life is complete. I can close my eyes and imagine though.

The people that are still here and can be here may choose not to be this year and that hurts me. Grudges and stubbornness may prevent that. It makes me sad, but I’ve decided that life is too short for those things and I can’t make people change so I’ll just go with it. I’ll make it the best day I can for my kids, because that is what I have to do as an adult. We’ll watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and cheer for the arrival of Santa. Then we’ll stuff our bellies with good food and wine and talk about the things in life we are grateful for and hope that next year there are more seats filled at our table with those we love; while we still have the chance to be together.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Things They Say

I haven’t done one of these posts in so long. I guess the twinadoes have been talking for so long that I forget they are only 3 and say some pretty sophiscated things for their age. I am so lucky that they are both so vocal, well, most times I’m lucky!

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was on the radio in my van. I didn’t tell the kids it was the Beatle’s, yet Reagan pipes up with, “ But in Grammy’s car, the Beatles say HELP! I need somebody.”

Nolan requests the Foo Fighters, because he likes when Dave Grohl, “sings fast.” Nolan really is great about picking out a tune and humming along even if he doesn’t know the words. I plan to foster that ability in the future.

While walking at the zoo and looking elsewhere, Reagan ran into a plant. She said, “Oops, I ran into the koala’s bears food; bamboo!”

Reagan counting: 12, 12 14, 15, twelve-teen, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 17, 18, 19, 17, 18, 19…. Bill: 20!!!!

For Christmas this year Reagan wants, “a dozen donuts and a bag of candy.”

While reading a Dora book, I asked Nolan a question and he answered, “I don’t know. I’m not the map.”

Mommy: Nolan, say eggs in Polish. Nolan: “eggs in Polish.”

Nolan calls construction cones “pinecones.”

Nolan, “Mommy apply your brakes! There is a red light ahead.”

Reagan peering in a case at the West Side Market, “Mommy, I see a piggy made out of meat!”

Mommy to Nolan: stay in your own yard. Nolan: “that sounds like a plan, Mom.”

While driving, Nolan came out with, “Damnit! These people need to learn how to drive!”

Reagan (in a very proud manner): "Guess what Nolan and I were doing while you were in the bathroom? Jumping over the couch, like the cow jumping over the moon!!!"

While Nolan was hugging me one morning he said, "I love you, you little furball!" Thanks, I think.

Nolan's new favorite word: Mischiegous. Used in a sentence, "In the movie Cars, the cars that push Mac off the road are very mischiegous and naughty!"

Driving by a construction site in the rain, Nolan said, “Since it is raining, the workers are not doing foundations today.”

Nolan: where’s Mailman Tom.
Me: at home having dinner with is family.
Nolan: Yeah, with mailman mommy.

Mommy: You make my heart proud.
Nolan: And you make mine too.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'll Have A Slice of Thin Crust

 and one curious george.
Just two of many costumes this halloween season!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Couponing 101

From time to time, I have friends ask about my couponing, so here is a one example of what I consider a good shop.

I enjoy couponing. It is a game for me to get free razors, rice, and toliet paper. I normally do a weekly shop at Giant Eagle that I try to keep around $50 for the week (after coupons). That includes Sal's Reagan's blueberries, bananas, and 2-3 gallons of hormone-free milk weekly. Then anything I have great coupons for that will make it free or cheap goes into the cart. If it is something I can get for free that we don't use, I get it and donate it because it still goes towards the fuel perks I WILL use.

 These shops don't include meat since I don't buy that from GE, but shop a local market for that.

*
Giant Eagle
Actual shelf cost: $87.10
Cost after GE card: $77.85
Cost after coupons: $53.85
Cost after rebates: $43.85
Total Savings: $43.25
50% savings! I'll take that!

Since I shop weekly, I scour the sales and stock up as necessary. About the only thing I buy, at retail price, on a weekly basis is milk and fruit. I also try to stay away from processed foods for our family, but sometimes the only thing the kids will eat for lunch is plain pizza.

This week I found a great deal in the clearance cart. Tom's of Maine Natural Toothpaste. Retail price: $2.73. It was on clearance for $1.24. I had a coupon for $1 off. There were two tubes left and I had 2 coupons.

I also like to shop the cheese section carefully. We always put a cheese board out when we entertain, so I like to have a variety on hand. At Giant Eagle, as cheese closes in on its sell by date, they stick a $1 off sticker on it. Cheese is pretty pricey these days, so even that little bit helps. Today I stumbled on small chunks of White Stilton, some with lemon zest, cranberries, or blueberries. Most of these chunks were under $3. The four that I purchased cost $2.55 total, one of them being a whopping nickel! If they don't get consumed this weekend, I'll either freeze them and use them for cooking or just make a sauce with them.

There has been a wine deal going this week as well. Casillero wines are $9.99. If you buy $20 in groceries, the catalina machine spits out a $10 rebate. Free wine. Well, postage cost minus a penny. You can do this deal as many times as you'd like, but it has to be seperate transactions. Meaning you can't buy 3 bottles if you are spending $60. The machine will only generate one, but if you want to break up your shopping or do seperate transactions, the machine will spit one out for each $20 order.

Things I stock up on when I can get them cheaply; rice, pasta, and paper products.

Things I have to keep on hand and stock up on when they are on sale: YoCrunch (only chocolate chip flavor) for Reagan. This week they were on sale 3 packs/$6. I had $1.50 GE catalina coupons and a manufacturer coupon for $.75 (doubled to $1.50), so I got all 3 packs for $3.

I might not be the best couponer out there and I know plenty of people that would have gotten all this stuff for like, $1.34 or something crazy like that, but I was pretty happy with this shopping trip.

*not pictured are thebribes donuts the kids got for being good in the Eagles Nest.

Monday, October 11, 2010

For Those Not On Facebook

Yes, there are still a couple of followers of this blog that are not on facebook, so here is a recap for those that haven't seen the pictures.

We've been busy, but what else is new. Bill is out of town this week and my buttons are being pushed like mad. Let's hope the three of us survive each other with no breaks. To those of you with partners that travel often or are on active military duty and you have to be the solo act 24-7, I salute you. After a day or two we get into a groove and things move along fine, its the getting to fine that sucks.

So here's what we've been up to. Follow the links for photos.

















Goblins In The Garden at the Arboretum. I am ashamed to say this was my first visit to the Arboretum. It is gorgeous and this little treasure is on our local map now.        

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Five Dolla

We've tailgated for a lot of years.

In the Muni lot.

In the Burke lot.

In many other unnamed lots.

We found our home in "The Pit."

This past week, the geniuses at Network Parking decided to charge $5 for "Pedestrian Traffic."

Sure there are lots of people that come down to The Pit to join their friends for some beverages, food and fun before the game. We have one in our group of season ticket holders. He does the responsible thing by taking the Rapid and meeting up with us. We pay $30, yes 30 bones to park and set up camp for the morning. There are usually 3 of us in our car and then another car that holds 2 people, pays $30 more bones and meets up with us.

Apparently that is not enough for the greedy folks at Network Parking. They suddenly decided, and from what I hear they did it without the proper permits, to charge $5 for people walking in.

We Are Not Just Going to Bend Over And Take It!
A fellow blogger, Cleveland's a Plum,  has a bigger voice than me and has taken to the airwaves.

Might seem trivial to some of you, but Clevelanders are passionate about their Browns (yes, even the 1-3 Browns....hey, we've seen worse teams!) and their tailgating.....and having an extra $5 in their pocket.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

He's Marvelous, He's Curious George

I took Grammy and the kids to Pittsburgh for an overnight this past week to meet Curious George. They have a special (ends Oct 3) exhibit at the Pittsburgh Children's Musuem (which is a kick a$$ place for kids to explore) and on Wednesday and Saturday, George himself makes an appearance.




Let me tell you.....he was the cutest thing. EVER. The twinadoes ran into his arms and just kept hugging him. Nolan would not let go! They gave him kisses and hugs, high fives, and snuggles. It took everything in me not to run up there and hug him too!



The day before the musuem, we made a stop at the Duquesne Incline. It was Grammy's first time and she was a little nervous. My sweet boy made sure to hold onto her so she wouldn't be afraid.


The kids were a little  a lot, wound up when we got out of the pool at the hotel and my mom could see that I needed to get away. IKEA was only 10 minutes away and I was running out to pick up dinner so a quick stop for some retail therapy was in order. I got some frames for some of my photography and a few kitchen gadgets, but the hour alone was worth a million dollars. Thanks, Mom!

So that rounded out our summer of adventures and bridged the gap to fall. Stick around and see what kind of mischief we get into in the next few months.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Pymatuning

It's been a long time since I've been to the Spillway at Pymatuning Lake. Just to give you an idea, my parents took my friend, Heidi and I, and while we were there we bought matching neon half-shirts that had "Pymatuning Lake" written like paint splatter.

Yes, it was the 80's.

Grammy was on vacation this week, so we decided to do a little road trip. I emptied the freezer of all the old bread I had been saving and loaded up the kids and their potty (can I say it one more time, potty training SUCKS) and off we went.

I have no memory of the spillway (and really only remember the shirt because there is a picture of Heidi and I wearing them), so it was like I was there for the first time too.

The Three Amigos
The twinadoes had a good time throwing their "loads" (Nolan word for "loaf") of bread and were done in about 4 minutes.


Feeding "loads" of bread
My turn! My turn! My turn!
I decided to follow the compass on the car (mental note, add GPS to Xmas list), and explore a bit. We ended up in a little town called Linesville. Think main street USA on a smaller scale. We had lunch at an awesome little place called Rebecca's and then hit a couple of shops before heading out.

Coloring at Rebecca's. One of the few times he is not smiling is when he is concentrating.

I love this girl with all my heart.

The Main Street USA thing
We took mainly back roads home and ended up in familiar territory which happened to be near the wineries. After a stop at a roadside fruit market, I decided my mom and I deserved a glass of wine. I know Debonne has lots of open space for little ones to burn off energy PLUS they have a brewery so I knew I could bring Daddy home a treat. It was more like dinner since I wasn't home to cook, but I didn't hear him complaining!

The roadside market happened to have a John Deere. Nolan asked the man, "why is your John Deere H He knows all the models) hiding in the corn?"
We got our wine and got comfy outside while the kids put on a tumbling show on the outdoor stage. We were the only people outside, so it was quiet and we could hear the music that was being piped inside.

Ladies & Gentlemen, the Tumbling Twinadoes!
Now, call me kooky (as I'm sure my husband will), but approximately how many songs have there been made from 1944-2000? Millions, right? As my mom and I were sitting there enjoying the lovely fall day and the kids were having a rager, my Dad's favorite song came on. Well, one of his favorites, he had 5 that I know he LOVED.

I don't see this as a coinicidence. 
 I like to think that somewhere in the heavens and through fate, that song played for us. I think it was my Dad's way of letting us know he was with us, just like he was when he took me to Pymatuning so many years ago.
Is that you, Dad?