Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who Says I Can't Bake??

Okay, I am sure you all can recall the dreaded birthday cake I made for my mother-in-law back in January? You know the one that wouldn't come out of the cake pan, so when I helped it with a knife it fell apart? Then I tried to help it stay together by slathering it with icing, but it just made it worse??? Well after the ridiculing I received from my beloved family (which I deserved)....I decided I needed to be proactive and learn how to bake a cake.



So I convinced a friend to join me in a 4 week cake decorating class. The $20 class paid for itself after the first week's class when we learned all of the little tricks to making a pretty cake that comes out of the pan easily and level. Of course we were required to buy a cake decorating starter kit. I quickly learned the key to decorating is having the right tools, which I did not have prior to taking the class.

During week one, we were told to bring plain cookies which we would decorate. Then week two, our homework was a one layer cake which we learned to fill with pudding and then ice. Week three, was six cupcakes, which we filled and decorated. Then our final class, we had to bring a cake, already iced along with various other colored icings for decorating. Certainly the hardest part of each class was all of the prep work that goes into preparing for the class. Unfortunately, I did not learn to enjoy baking during this four week process. So though I can kind-of decorate a cake now....I won't be making any birthday cakes for my kids.







Notice the roses? That was the part that I was most proud of...including the leaves. Unfortunately, if you have poor handwriting, it doesn't get better when you try to write with icing on a cake.

Even though it is far from perfect, this is a huge improvement from my previous cakes, and it tasted FABULOUS! I used a homemade Martha Stewart buttercream icing that was very tasty.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Easy Street

As you have probably gathered from previous blog posts (if you don't know Pres well enough that is)...he is OBSESSED with trucks.  Really, he is obsessed with anything that moves...cars, trains, trucks, boats, planes, etc.  He has been given multiple books over the past couple of years that deal with trucks, trains, etc, and he loves them all.  In fact, he has several that have real pictures of various trucks (like excavators, bulldozers, garbage trucks, car transport trucks, fuel tankers, etc) that he has learned and can now point out when we are driving around town.  He always gets excited when he spots something, and he shouts it out.

About a month ago, Bennett passed along one of her books to Pres because she thought he would like it more, and boy was she right.  The book is named "Easy Street" and it explains how streets are made.  The beauty of the book is the sing-songy way it is written, which has allowed Preston to memorize it.  If you don't believe me, see for yourself...it is quite cute.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Parent's Day Off!

Yesterday, Steve and I got up and did a little yardwork before showering and dropping the kids off at his parents for our DAY OFF from parenting.  We decided to treat ourselves to a movie, Hall Pass (which was very entertaining and quite ironic considering our day).  Then we made a quick trip to Costco before heading to our 90 minute massages.  I must say it was quite relaxing and delightful to receive a 90 minute massage, especially when you know in the back of your head you're not paying for a babysitter on top of the massages.  Following that we headed home to shower and freshen up before going to a great dinner at The Veranda on Highland!  We sat outside, had a few cocktails, a delicious dinner and an overall fun night.

What a great day, and thanks to the Mizeranys and Groupon for saving us money!  The massages were a fraction of their full price, and we saved money off our dinner, and had NO babysitter to pay at the end.  So nice!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break 2011, part 2

After a busy few days in Birmingham, Steve and I took the kids to Chattanooga for the rest of Spring Break.  My parents were on their way to their Georgia home, so they met us there too.  We all drove in on Friday afternoon, so after getting settled at our hotels, we hit the town. 

First stop was visiting the Chattanooga Choo Choo for my beloved son.  He got a big kick out of seeing the big trains, and exploring the engine car.  Since the Choo Choo has been converted to a hotel, we couldn't check out the rest of the cars (because they are private sleeping cars/rooms now).  However, Pres and Bennett had fun riding the coin operated train a couple of times, before we headed off to our next destination. 


This time we drove back to our hotel, which was VERY centrally located to grab our stroller so we could walk across the bridge to Coolidge Park to ride the carousel.  Unfortunately, Steve accidentally pinched Bennett's finger while popping the stroller out.  It was cut on both sides, so I totally understood her pain.  However, she said she still wanted to go, so we all started walking there.  But after 10 minutes, she was still crying and wanted to return to the hotel room "to rest."  Since my father's feet were bothering him, he opted to come with us.  It worked out better for us since Steve and my mom walked all across the bridge only to find the carousel had closed 15 minutes earlier (bummer).  They still enjoyed the views, and fresh air and by the time they made it back to our side of the bridge, Bennett was feeling better.

We met them at a Mexican place around the corner for dinner, went for ice cream, and then my parents took the kids on a horse-drawn carriage ride.  The kids thoroughly enjoyed strolling around downtown with them.  There was a dalmation, Chipper, that rode along with the driver and the horse, Sugar, was well-behaved.  In fact, throughout the rest of the weekend, they kept seeing their driver and horse giving other people rides. 

Saturday morning, we took the kids swimming at our hotel, had breakfast and then made it to the children's science museum right as they were opening.  The kids had a ball playing with the water exhibit, especially Preston, and climbing through their huge maze (that even adults could go through).  We explored every inch of the two floors over the course of three hours, and each child had their favorite area.  Pres kept going back to the water exhibit, and Bennett had a ball putting on a puppet show with Nene and playing with the massive kitchen.  Though the kids were NOT ready to leave, we knew we needed to feed them lunch and get them down for short naps so we could hit the aquarium later that afternoon.



Puppet Show with Nene proved she definitely has the Walker gene

Pres knocked down every piece that Bennett had put up.



Pres did NOT want to leave the museum

After a quick break, we hit both the salt water and fresh water aquariums before they closed.  It took us a couple of hours to wind our way through them both, but it was wonderful.  We got to pet stingrays, see penguins up close, and walk through, under and into several tanks filled with a variety of fish.  The kids had a ball, but it was nice because even the adults had fun exploring the aquariums. 






Inside the spider crab tank


Hard to imagine a turtle this large

Beluga sturgeon...where beluga cavier comes from
 We finished the night with pizza from a local spot that we had heard about from a local and read good reviews about online.  It fulfilled our expectations, and we left with full bellys.  We walked back to our hotel and tried to wind the kids down from all of the activity.  

The next morning we had a slow start packing up, but we finally pulled it together and went down for a big breakfast.  We then headed to the Chattanooga Zoo, which sadly was a huge disappointment. 



Evidently they have had funding issues because it hasn't been updated in decades and has very few big animals.  Thankfully the kids didn't know better, and still had fun running around outside.  We ended with a carousel ride, and then headed back to Birmingham.  We made it home mid afternoon, and had a productive afternoon doing chores around the house while the kids played outside.  We were lucky to have beautiful weather all week, and have a wonderful Spring Break as a family. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break 2011, part 1

Spring break isn't what it used to be....Twenty years ago it used to be bikinis and keg stands on some crowded beach in Mexico.  Ten years ago it was unheard of, I would just work all spring not understanding what "spring break" even was.  Now, I am a mother of two, and "spring break" consists of keeping two kids busy for 10 days while they are out of school, dance, etc.

The week started off great, with a morning at Pump It Up, then lunch at Chick-Fil-A, then a quick nap before ending with a trip to the gym for more fun with friends while I got an hour break.

Our time at Pump It Up was great, especially for Pres.  He walked in and went running straight toward the huge slide and went right down without any hesitation.  Bennett was a little more cautious, needing someone to hold her hand on the way down.  Unfortunately, I did not come prepared with socks (the prerequisite for enjoying the inflatables), but that didn't stop Preston.  When none of the girls we went with could keep up with him, he befriended a staff member.  Tyler, the staff, became his new best friend that he drug all over the place, up and down the slides, through the mazes, etc.  It was quite funny!
Tuesday morning we started off at the gym, a different one, so the kids could have a change of scenery.  I went to the early boot camp class so we could make it the children's science museum (The McWane Center) before it got too crowded.  Deep down I must have known there was no way it wasn't going to be crazy, because I tried to get out of it with our friends, but I went regardless.  When I got there and saw the "Deck Full" sign, I should have turned around and gone home, but I didn't.  I circled the block until I found street parking, and gave the kids the big lecture how we had to stay together because it was going to be so crowded.  Surprisingly, they listened to me and stayed by my side the entire time.  However, it was CRAZY busy!  It was so crowded that I was worried someone could snatch one of my kids right out from underneath me, so I stayed real close.

In fact, I was talking to Steve on the phone when my kids went into an airplane simulator, when I heard a shriek that could only be my own kids.  So I hung up with him and ran into the airplane only to find two little boys (probably 4-5 yrs old) beating up my kids!  I pulled them off, scolded them and grabbed my kids.  Since they were both crying and scared, I explained to my friend that I was leaving immediately.  It was not a good spring break day....

I was determined to make Wednesday better, but I wanted to make sure my mental health was on track, so we went to the gym first thing.  I knew it was going to be a gorgeous day, so we had planned to visit the zoo.  Since the new "Trails of Africa" exhibit was open, we were excited to see the elephants up close.  Unfortunately, neither of them were out!!  Needless to say, we were all disappointed!  Fortunately the weather was perfect, which helped us enjoy the day.  It didn't hurt that the kids had a blast running all over the zoo visiting their usual favorite animals and riding the train with their friends. 

I love having friends to do things with....they made our first half of spring break more fun!  Since Thursday was St. Patty's Day (which is my favorite holiday), I decided to make this mid-week day about me!!  The kids and I ran around town with the windows down running errands, played in our yard, packed for our weekend getaway, and then Steve and I went out with friends for a couple of green beers with friends.



Stayed tuned for Spring Break 2011, part 2 (coming tomorrow).....

Monday, March 14, 2011

My Big Little Boy

Last night we converted Preston's bed to a toddler bed.  This was something we skipped for Bennett, as she went straight to a big bed with side rails.  However, we haven't purchased the new mattresses and boxsprings for Preston twin beds yet, so he is stuck in his nursery for now. 
Pres & Bennett trying it out last night.

For those that don't know much about Pres, he is the WORST sleeper!  I don't know what I did differently with him as a baby, but he has been a restless sleeper since the beginning.  Even as a toddler, he rarely sleeps through the night.  He wakes up screaming and crying and calls my name.  He usually doesn't want Steve, so that leaves me to tend to him every night.  I can calm him down pretty quickly and get back to sleep, but he interrupts my sleeping EVERY night.

Last night was his first night in his new bed, and we were worried that he wouldn't do well.  He slept until almost 5am, but he rolled out of the bed and it woke him up.  I went in and rocked him some and he slept until almost 8am!  He was so happy when he awoke.  He called for me and when I got in there he said "Mommy I slept in a big boy bed, and didn't fall out."  I think he was happy he stayed in the last several hours. 

Anyway, we're hoping he does well with the transition as we have several trips planned for this year where he will be in a bed of some sort.  We figured with spring break this week, it would be a perfect time to give it a try!  Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Perserverance



Bryan, me, Bennett, Kadie, Michael & Lauren
 This morning I ran my first 5K in forever....really, in over 8 years (since before I left Peoria).  Steve and I were both going to run it with some friends, but Bennett was diagnosed with strep yesterday, so our childcare plans fell through last minute.  Steve was nice enough to sit this one out so I could run it.  Since January I have been cross-training: doing a variety of bootcamp classes, as well as spin, kick-boxing, weights and running a little lately.

Earlier this week I ran 4.25 miles on the treadmill and I felt great...no knee or feet problems!  So I decided that running this 5K would be fun.

Why can't I play in the street?
However, last night when Steve and I were deciding who would run, I started to get nervous.  I worried I wouldn't be able to run the whole thing, or that I would embarrass myself with a crappy time.  He said that I should get a formal time for myself, so I was the chosen one.

Then today, everything started off great!  I woke up in time to enjoy some coffee before I left, as well as put together a new playlist on our iPod.  Then the kids got up and we got them dressed and out the door in time for us all to ride together.  I registered, stretched and got behind the line.  When the gun went off, I started off slowly, but tried to maneuver my way through the "slower than me" people.

Where are my sunglasses?

Then I tried to find someone who was running at a pace similar to mine (that is what I learned way back when).  That person was my friend Kadie.  I let her lead, and we stayed together until the last half mile.  I then decided I needed to start picking it up a little.  I had a goal to beat Steve's 5K time, so I had to finish strong.

I'm in the back going through the shoot.
At the 3 mile marker, I really picked it up and sprinted to the finish line.  When I went through the finish line at 27 minutes and change, I was so excited!  As pathetic as this is, I think that may be my best time for a 5K (I know, I really am NOT fast).

The beauty of the whole thing is how good I felt afterward.  Running is one of the most addictive things!  I wish my body could withstand long-distance running because I could be so skinny!

Oh well, for now I will stick to 5Ks, and maybe a 10K if I can work myself up to 6-7 miles.  You want to know something else funny?  Steve went to the gym this afternoon and ran on the treadmill.  He came home and said that he ran it in 26 min and 54 seconds (he had to be the fastest).  We are so competitive, so I guess I have new goal...26.5 minutes!
The "after" group shot


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bennett's First Field Trip

Yesterday morning I joined Bennett and the rest of her classmates and moms on a short "field trip" to Edgewood Creamery (a local ice cream shop near Bennett's school).  We walked to the location at 9:30 (Really? Do kids seriously need ice cream at 9:30 in the morning?), and socialized a bit while enjoying a cone. 







Bennett chose chocolate, and did a wonderful job keeping herself clean while eating it.  However, when she saw some of her friends making a mess and getting a laugh, she had to do the same!
Needless to say, she had a blast!

With some of her girlfriends!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Family Birthdays

It seems like all of the Mizerany birthdays fall in two months...March and October.  This of course is not exactly how it is, we just have three celebrations in each of those months.  Since Maria, John Michael and Uncle Dan all have March birthdays, and Sara was sick for her birthday in February.....we had one big lunch feast to ring in all four today.

Louis and Michelle hosted, so we all went over and gorged ourselves.  Bennett and Preston love to spend time with their cousins, and had a ball playing with all of their old toys and the playdough.  Since Maria was just in for the weekend, Bennett got her fill of "Ria" today.

In typical Bennett fashion, she was most anxious for the cake, and had to be there to assist Maria in blowing out the candles.


Uncle Dan with all of his beloved nieces and nephews!  We wish you a VERY happy birthday Uncle Dan!!

Chili Cook-Off

Attending the Exceptional Foundation Chili Cook-Off has become an annual tradition for us.  It is so fun to walk a couple blocks to a huge fundraiser where they are serving over 100 different chilis, you can drink beer and listen to a fun band.  In the past, the weather has been perfect....warm and sunny.  However, today was a different story...it was a cold, rainy day.  But we weren't going to let a little rain (or a lot during some points) stop us.  So we bundled up with our raincoats and rainboots, packed our coolers full of cold beer, and walked up to the park with our umbrellas.


We had a blast, regardless of the weather, and sampled some very good chili!  After an hour of light rain, Bennett and Lily (a friend's little girl) were ready to go home, change clothes and play in the comfort of our house.  So Lily's mom, Kadie, walked the girls home while the rest of us hung out for another hour.  It continued to rain on and off, but we had so much fun!  Pres was a hoot, dancing to the band, stomping in any puddles he could find, and eating ALL candy that he was served.  Having us all to himself was an added bonus.


After our bellies were full, we walked home and put the kids down for naps.  Then more of our friends came over and we planned our dinner.  Fortunately we all love to cook, so we made grilled oysters, crab claws, steamed shrimp, baked potatoes and asparagus!  I must say that dinner was phenomenal, and I was STUFFED!  All of the kids had a ball playing together, and we had fun chit-chatting and hanging out.


Though the day didn't go just as we had planned, it turned out better than expected.  It is so much fun to live in a community where we can walk everywhere and have so many wonderful friends nearby.