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UBP14 Apr 06

Well, I’m late to the party. Again. And I’m totally unprepared for visitors. Again. But that hasn’t stopped me yet!

My name is Erin and I’m a SAHM to two girls, ages 5 and 2.5. We’re Disney fanatics and I’m always dreaming of travel. We live not far from the mouse house and are getting in all the visits we can before the weather hits boiling. Spring and fall are definitely our busiest times of the year.

Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t have any drinks or snacks out. Please, help yourself to the fridge and if you finish something, please make a note on the whiteboard so I can replenish.

When I’m not taking care of the girls or trying to keep the house vaguely clean, I love to read and play PC games. World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic are my faves right now. Sometimes I’m on Steam, too, but that’s pretty rare. If I have any free time after reading and games, I also crochet and blog. ;)

Probably the most important thing to note about me blog-wise is that I mostly blog from my iPhone, and since I’m still learning, I don’t often include pictures or links. If anyone has tips on how to do this easily, please share! One day, I’d like to skip that particular disclaimer and surprise people with the information that it was all done on a mobile device! :D

So, I have a question for all you visitors:
What’s your favorite part of the UBP?

Mine is watching all the Twitter accounts come alive with new conversation and seeing the renewed interest in blogging from those of us who have been too distracted to do it (myself included).

Well, I was going to link to some of my recent posts, but somehow I broke that. I’ll work on a separate post over the next few days to make up for it!

Happy UBP14 everyone!

5QF is back!!! Mar 20

After a very long hiatus, Mama M has brought back 5 Question Friday! I’m so excited! These random questions really help me keep the dreaming part of my blog name alive. ;)

Here’s this week’s questions and my answers:

1. If I had 5 minutes alone with Mother Nature I would tell her?
I know Florida is a semi-tropical climate, but can we PLEASE have snow Christmas through New Year’s and real spring and fall before we melt all summer?

2. If you could eat only one thing for a whole week what would it be?
This week it would be Chipotle burrito bowls. Last week it would have been Thai food. And I’ll never turn down Mac n cheese.

3. What is your favorite season and why?
Fall. Hands down, no contest. The weather, the food, the holidays… And my youngest’s birthday!

4. Do you have a meal that you are AMAZING at making? If so, share the recipe!
Ummm… I love to cook and I’m good at it. So it’s hard for me to pick something. My husband’s favorite thing I make is meatloaf, so I’ll ramble about that for a minute.

I don’t measure when I cook, so I apologize for the lack of real instruction. First, melt a tablespoon or so of butter in a sauté pan over med-low heat. When it starts to get foamy, toss in a small to medium sweet onion, diced. Salt it liberally and add 2 dried bay leaves. While that starts to sweat, mince or paste 2-4 cloves of garlic depending on size and pungency. When onions are totally translucent but not brown, add garlic to pan. Keep cooking and stirring until onions and garlic start to take on a golden color. When you start to see gold, grab your bottle of ketchup. Pour enough into the pan to create a cup or a little more of “sauce.” Turn off the heat, stir, and allow to come to room temperature.

Once sauce is cool, get your ground meat. I use ground turkey, but have also done beef and beef/pork. Mix in enough sauce so that you can smell it when it’s combined with the meat. Often, there is sauce left over. Add about 1/2 cup of Panko bread crumbs to meat and sauce mixture. You need enough so that it keeps the form of a ball or loaf as you stir it in the bowl. Then dump it in a shallow baking fish, shape slightly and put it in the oven. 40 minutes at 350 degrees works for me with ground turkey. When time is up, let rest 10 minutes, slice and serve.

If you had sauce left over, you can make a great side sauce by adding 1-2 tablespoons each of brown sugar and your favorite hot sauce depending on how much sauce you had left ad how sweet/hot you want it.

5. What has changed in your life since the last 5QF? (8/2/13 was the last one! Wow…over 6 months!)
My oldest is in VPK this year and she’s become such a KID rather than my baby. Bittersweet. And my youngest, who can be a terror, is now so much fun and really blossoming in her Mom’s Morning Out program at the school big sister attends. It’s been awesome seeing them in the same school together, and I’ll miss it when big sister moves on to elementary school in the fall.

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Atlanta Recap Feb 24

Well, here goes my second attempt at this blog post. I do everything on a mobile device and everything I had written just went poof. Let’s try this again.

It’s been nearly 2 months since we returned from our camping trip to Atlanta. Just more proof how quickly time flies.

The drive up took a little over eight hours. It was fairly easy, but we did arrive after dark which we had hoped not to do.

It took awhile for us to get the camper situated on our site in the dark, especially since it was uneven and took quite a bit of maneuvering to get the camper level.

Once the camper was set up, we started loading in our stuff and trying to get the heater to work. While everything else that ran on propane worked, the heater refused to. There were plenty of options to keep warm still, so we went about unpacking. We were getting hungry, so we started to fix dinner. Or so we thought.

Something had happened during set up or a previous take down and the drainpipe from the sink was broken. Water filled the compartment that contained the drainpipe which also holds the fuse box for the camper.

So instead of making dinner, my husband and I start throwing towels down in the compartment to soak up the water before it can get into the electrical. As we are pulling out the soaking wet towels, we realized that they aren’t just wet but covered in mulch and dirt and other bits of nature. Now we don’t have any towels for showers for the rest of the trip.

My husband says, “We need a heater, new towels, and I need some tools to repair the sink. I’m going out to find a Walmart.” As true as his statement was, the current state of the camper was starting to make my skin crawl. But he went out to find the things we needed and I just kept going through the steps of making the beds and putting our things away one by one until they were finally done.

It only took about an hour for my husband to find the Walmart, shop and return. He also brought with him food from Wendy’s. Wendy’s has never tasted so good.

We devoured our meals, he fixed the sink, and at 11 PM we finally were able to go to bed. And from both beds, we were able to see:

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That was the best $20 I have ever spent. It just melted away all the stress of the day.

The next day went much smoother than the first. My husband is a huge fan of Diet Coke, so we had to go visit the World of Coca-Cola while we were in Atlanta. While the kids were not impressed with the exhibits, they did appreciate the holiday decorations:

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We also took them to Imagine It! The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. This place was AMAZING and I highly recommend it for anyone with kids under 8, for sure, tho my husband and I enjoyed it as well. The kids were moving so fast from one exhibit to another that I don’t really have any good pictures, but trust me they had a fabulous time.

We took a roundabout way back to the campground from downtown Atlanta and stopped at Fox Brothers barbecue. If you’re a fan of barbecue, this is another stop that I highly recommend. The fried pickles and jalapenos are delicious, as is the macaroni and cheese and the ribs. Honestly, in my two visits there last year, I haven’t had anything that I wouldn’t eat again.

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For our third day, our plan was to do the events at Stone Mountain Park. They offer Snow mountain at Stone Mountain and, because it was just after Christmas, we could also participate in all of their Christmas events except getting to meet Santa. Because of course he was done for the year. ;)

The kids had a fantastic time playing in the snow! Unfortunately, before the Christmas events opened, it started pouring rain and we spent the rest of the day stuck in the camper watching TV and coloring.

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Our final day in Atlanta had no agenda, so we took a short ride through the neighboring towns and then visited the old mill and quarry in the park. Again, the kids were not impressed, but were able to be outside and active and burn off some energy unlike the day before.

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On our way back to our campsite, my husband dropped the kids and I off at the playground while he went back to make dinner. They had a blast! It’s amazing what a new playground will do to a kid.

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We spent our last night attempting s’mores by the fire and packing up most of our belongings.

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Our final morning, we were up early to finish packing and get breakfast. While my husband took down the pop-up, I took the kids to the massive playground on the other side of Stone Mountain Park. It was way too big for them, as well as too wet, but they really weren’t that interested. They knew it was time to go home and were ready.

The drive home took a little over nine hours and ended with pizza and a friend stopping by to welcome us home. It was a great trip and further fueled our desire to do a US road trip in a few more years.

December 2013 Dec 31

We set ourselves up for a busy month. We had a list of Christmas activities to complete. Of the 15 activities I could think of, we completed 12 and added making gingerbread houses out of foam and stickers, Christmas scenes painted with water, completed two rather than one round of Christmas cookies, and made Christmas trees out of chocolate and pretzels and decorated them with sprinkles.

I alluded to our new adventure and it is now complete with its own recap to come.

Now it’s time to prepare for the new year. What should we do? What goals should we aim for? I’m not big on resolutions, but every year we get older and it becomes more important to aim for a healthier lifestyle for the adults and teach a healthy, happy lifestyle to our kids.

It’s time to dust off the once a month recipes, eat more vegetables and get out there and be as active as we can in the coming year. This gets easier as the kids get older, as I have found out. ;)

Do you make resolutions? What are your goals for the new year?

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A New Adventure Dec 28

In April of 2012, we bought a popup camper. Since then, we have only taken one camping trip to somewhere other than Fort Wilderness (where we’ve stayed 8 times that I can remember). That changed the day after Christmas when we left for Stone Mountain, Georgia.

The kids are familiar with the popup and they’re familiar with Stone Mountain. A friend and I took the kids there less than a year ago to participate in Snow Mountain. But when it came time to plan our holiday trip this year, our first choice – Fort Wilderness – was booked. And it was still booked when I tried to call over the next couple weeks. So we had to change our plans, and I mentioned this trip.

It’s a big trip. Towing the popup means you have to be careful where you stop and watch your speed. It may handle well, but you all know that occasionally you find yourself going WAY too fast on the highway and that won’t work when you’re towing something. It also means cramming the kids in the car for 8-10 hours. The trip up last time took 10 hours and the kids were fussy by the time we got there. The trip home? Took 7.5 hours. They knew what I meant when I said we were going home and they didn’t want to stop for ANYTHING. My oldest didn’t pee the entire trip home. It was a very odd adventure, but one my oldest and I really wanted to repeat.

So we did.

If you follow my Instagram, you’ve seen our adventures “live.” If you don’t follow me, but will start now, you can flip back through the pictures from the trip. They might appear here, they might not, but there will be a recap written at some point.

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24 Days of Christmas Togetherness Nov 30

So, last year (when I was reading blogs) Carrots n Cake did 24 Days of Togetherness with her husband. I thought they were great ideas and would bring a lot more Christmas spirit than just floundering through the season – especially since it’s so short this year!

I decided to come up with my own list for the family and myself to work through this December. I’m still short a few activities, but I’m hoping that as I do the ones I have planned, I’ll come up with a few more! (And, if you’re looking for couples activities rather than family, Carrots n Cake is doing it again this year!)

1.  Make hot cocoa. And not the instant kind.
2.  Buy a Christmas tree topper for the mini tree that decorates our popup camper during the holidays.
3.  Watch a Christmas movie. (What’s your favorite? If we all go see Frozen, does that count? :))
4.  Take a drive and look at Christmas lights.
5.  Take a selfie
6.  Bake Christmas cookies (possibly gingerbread people)
7.  Sing and dance to Christmas songs (I’m thinking this will happen several times ;))
8.  Go for a nature walk. This won’t be nearly as pretty in central Florida as it would be in, oh, say, the Smoky Mountains, but we’re going anyway
9.  Have a fire in the fire pit.
10. Buy and wrap a present for Daddy
11. Enjoy delicious holiday beverages from Starbucks. Or Dunkin Donuts.  We love all things with a pound of sugar and caffeine.
12. Take an informal family photo
13. Make a foam wreath and stockings as interior decorations
14. Check out the tree and lights at Cranes Roost Park
15. Go to Disney and see the dancing lights at Hollywood Studios

What would you add to your list? I need 9 more ideas! :p

Follow our adventures on Instagram!

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2 Months Nov 21

2 months have passed since I last posted here. I miss it, but I don’t want to recount every detail of our days. I want to post something that tells the story of us AND contains information that someone else may be looking for.

Let’s start with the general. Both my girls are in preschool this year. The youngest in a Mom’s Morning Out class two days per week, the oldest in a 4 day per week VPK program. (Let’s not talk about my baby getting ready to start kindergarten, mmmkay?)

While I do have more time to myself, I actually have LESS free time, do you follow? I’m doing more things for me and the members of my inner circle than I have in a long time. Also, my inner circle is the smallest it’s ever been. I’m not sure I like it, and am working on adding new members, but it’s so hard. Hard for any SAHM because you are most comfortable with other SAHMs but then you get sucked into the vortex of all kids all the time and it’s not healthy. So I’m trying to be a little (just a smidgeon) less introverted and homebody-ish. It’s hard.

But what really has brought me back to this space is two things.

1) We’re taking an awesome camping trip over the holidays. We’ll be taking the kids and the popup to Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta, Georgia. I’m ridiculously excited, though I usually am about any form of travel. I’m hoping to learn some things and share them with others who might want to take similar adventures.

2) Instead of a chocolate Advent calendar, I’m trying to come up with 24 simple activities for the girls and I to do. And this leads in to my BIG question of the moment:

What would be on your family’s list? I have only 14 ideas so far!

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It Was A Long Summer Sep 15

As the summer season officially winds down, I find myself breathing a sigh of relief. Our plans didn’t happen, instead the girls had surgery. It was a rough morning, but they both recovered easily and finally returned to their normal selves 3 months after first getting sick.

Just in time to start school.

My oldest is in VPK this year and the change is amazing. Not one tear was shed over leaving me for school. When the weekend is over, she’s ready to go back and see her friends. She’s asking for play dates and to make more school projects at home.

My youngest joined the MMO program at the same school and her experience has been nothing like I expected. Last year, I’d have to drag her out of big sister’s classroom. She wanted to play like and with the big kids! But instead, she cries every time I leave and, while she does enjoy herself, is having a hard time adjusting.

I, once again, have 2 mornings to myself. It’s fabulous. My hobbies are resurfacing and my frustration levels are lower.

So why are the anxiety symptoms returning?

We have a ton of plans thru the holidays and I’m hoping they will help me to push thru and move past the anxiety. I’m not new to this, and I think that’s why it annoys me so much when I have these… episodes? They are so few and far between now that sometimes I forget it was ever an issue.

But that’s not why I’m here. It’s time to let anyone who’s still following that I haven’t dropped off the face if the planet, but did spend the summer caring for sick kids. And now I’m remembering who I am on my 2 free mornings a week.

How do you remember who you are in the hustle and bustle of life?

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The Best Laid Plans Jul 01

Summer is halfway over in our neck of the woods, and it hasn’t gone anything like I thought it would.

It started in the middle of May, two weeks before school would even be over for the summer with my youngest catching adenovirus. Her pediatrician also confirmed that there is still fluid in her ears, eight months after we first found it. Then my oldest got an ear infection that, even after 10 days of antibiotics, didn’t go away. We returned to the doctor for another round of antibiotics not just for an ear infection, but for some extremely huge and nasty looking tonsils. At this same visit, my youngest was having her ears checked again for fluid. If fluid remained, she would be referred to a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist.

Well, guess what? They both got referrals. And are both scheduled for surgery the end of July. The youngest is having tubes put in both ears. The oldest is having her tonsils and adenoids removed.

I’d started dreaming about this summer months ago. I was feeling brave. With no requirements to be anywhere, I was considering many trips to visit friends and family. The kids would have grand adventures and we wouldn’t get bored staring at the walls at home.

Instead, we’re staring at the walls at home.

Now I’m afraid to take the kids anywhere because even just walking outside in the central Florida heat and humidity is hard on a body, and my oldest daughter has lost a lot of weight due to the swelling in her throat. She’s on a mostly soft food and liquid diet and will be for at least a week after surgery. The kid needs to hang on to every calorie that she manages to ingest.

My youngest is the opposite and needs an outlet. She needs to run and jump and play to make sure she eats three meals a day instead of randomly snacking.

How do you handle having two kids that need totally opposite things? Anyone have encouraging words about their upcoming surgeries?

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Summer Has Arrived Jun 06

Here in Central Florida, we have a different way of knowing when summer is here for sure.

It’s not the last day of school (May 24), or Memorial Day weekend, or even the first time the thermometer hits 90 degrees (WAY back in April, might even have been March).

It’s when we deal with our first tropical depression/storm or hurricane.

Today Tropical Storm Andrea pushed its way across the northern part of the state and dumped several inches of rain across parts that needed it desperately. The storm brought some random crazy wind gusts and tornado warnings.

And the official start of summer.

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