Saturday, November 24, 2012


Yesterday morning Steve got up to brush his teeth and saw something out of the corner of his eye.  He thought it was a leaf, but when he looked closer, he realized it was a baby lizard.  We have a lot of these little lizards around here because of our warmer climate, but we have NEVER found one in our home.

He quickly picked it up and stuck it in the kid's bug cage to show them when they awoke.  Our plan was to let him hang out in the cage for a day or two, and then we were going to let him go.

So you can imagine my shock when Steve and the kids returned from the pet store with not only the crickets they said they were going to buy, but also a cage for their new "pet!"  Steve and I had clearly spoken about the responsibility of caring for him, and my lack of interest in reptiles and their diet of small crawling I was very surprised.  However, he assured me that it will require little care, and that which is required, he will handle (uhhh, can I get that in writing please?).

Steve moved him to his new, larger home and immediately put the 6 little crickets in there with him.  Then the kids went out to the yard to find a few sticks and leaves to put in there too.  After several name choices, the kids settled on "cricket" after they watched him eat one in his cage.  I must admit that it was cool to watch him stalk the bug, and then catch and eat it.  I swear the cricket was as big as his head, so it was quite a challenge for him to eat it, but he did after a few minutes.

We'll see how long "cricket" really lasts in our home, but supposedly these anoles (that is his proper name) can live about 7 years in their environment, and a lot longer if they are well taken care of and happy in their cage.  I can assure you that we will not keep him that long, but we may watch him grow for a little while.  More stories to come.....

Friday, November 23, 2012

Counting Our Blessings

Every year at Thanksgiving, I think about all that God has blessed me with over the years.  I often take for granted all of my fabulous husband, two healthy cute kids, supportive parents, loving family members, a church that feels like home, wonderful friends, jobs, the health of my family members, food on our table every day, clothes on our back and so much more!

I am so thankful and happy for all that we have, and was excited to spend all Thanksgiving with our family.  This morning, Brian and Shannon and the kids came over for breakfast and mimosas.  Then Steve's family came over for our Thanksgiving meal.  What a perfect way to spend the day....with family (if only my parents had been here).

Even though Christian and Henley ran a one mile race in the morning, they still came over with an abundance of energy that my kids were looking forward to seeing.  They ate a little breakfast, and then played for a couple of hours.  Pres was so exhausted after they left (at 1pm), that he decided to squeeze in a short nap before the rest of the family came over.

The cousins always have fun together!

B LOVES Lucy, and look at those genuine smiles

Pres catching a 2.5 hour nap!

Shortly after the Bantas left, Myra and Louis arrived.  Since Myra wanted to host at her house (and we convinced her to let us host....thanks Mimi), she had a lot of stuff that she was bringing over.  She has traditional food that she makes every Thanksgiving that the family can't do without.  So she had to make her dressing, chicken and dumplings, stuffed celery and then she bought two turkey breasts to fry.  We provided the alcohol, an appetizer, green bean casserole, creamed potatoes, rolls and two pies.  Then Michelle made sweet potato casserole.  Myra made her dressing ahead of time, but I got to watch her make her infamous dumplings.  In addition, she taught me how to cream potatoes the way Bennett likes them.  Of course, we had way too much food for our group of ten, but that only means leftovers!!
The Mizerany men frying the turkey (looks strenuous)

"Say Say" and Bennett

"Shell" and Preston

John Michael, Maria and Michelle

B with Uncle Dan
As you can see, we had a lot of fun!  The Mizeranys stayed until 9:00, and then we got the kids down and I finished cleaning up.  A whole day of family time, we have been blessed beyond measure!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Here We Come Peoria!

Since I haven't been to Peoria since my last high school reunion (summer of 2010), the kids and I definitely needed to return. Sadly our visit was initiated because of the death of Mike McCord last month. I really wanted to attend the funeral, but couldn't make it since Steve was out of town himself. So I decided to go back another time and have a better opportunity to visit with Katie, and meet her darling son, Mac.

With the kids off school the whole week of Thanksgiving, it was a perfect time to drive back.  Rather than listen to the kids ask "how much longer until we go to Illinois?" a hundred times, I decided to surprise them.  So I packed their suitcases while they slept and packed the car while Bennett was at school.  Since she had been sick all week, I told her that I would check her out early (she wanted to go for Grandpal's Day which was held right at the beginning of the day).

Last minute, Steve decided to come too, so we packed the car up and went to her school at 9:30am.  After we got her buckled in, we told them where we were going...and they were so excited!  After the first hour, they only asked a couple of times..."how much longer."  We told them to settle in for the long haul and that we wouldn't get there until dark.  They watched a movie, ate lunch, took a nap, listened to music, and Bennett practiced spelling words.  All and all, a smooth 9.5 hour ride up.
We met my folks for dinner at a local Mexican place, and then came back to their house to get settled. The kids found a few toys to play with, and then we convinced them to hit the hay. Saturday morning, my father took the kids to get donuts, and then we ventured out to the new Caterpillar museum. We learned about all of the large machinery and got to see up close many of their pieces of equipment. Preston was in heaven sitting in each of them!

Pres loves his Poppy!

When we got home, then my mother helped the kids decorate a gingerbread house (with a little candy sampling).  I must say it turned out pretty cute too!  I guess all of the practice over the years has helped (even though I forgot to take a picture of the finished product to prove it).
That night I went out to meet Tiffany Meier for dinner and drinks so we could catch up.  Steve and the kids dined on pizza with my folks, and then stayed up late watching football!  Sunday morning definitely came too soon, so we lounged around some and then feasted on eggs and bacon for breakfast.  The new Riverfront Museum opened at noon, so Steve and my parents took the kids there for the afternoon (I ran errands instead).  They had a ball exploring, and playing in the different areas.  Even though they were there for several hours, they still didn't see it all.
Building race cars

Built race cars, then raced them
The kids really had fun doing so many new things like building little wooden cars, and then racing them, testing eye-hand coordination, seeing how fast you can throw a baseball and much more!

Our little engineers

Having fun in a block house!
Pres throws at 17 mph

In fact, Preston had so much fun, he insisted on returning the following day!  Bennett elected to go bowling.  So my mother and Preston spent several more hours at the museum, while my father and I took Bennett bowling and out to lunch.  She held her own during the first game, which was quite embarrassing since the bumpers were left up for us adults!!  Even though I didn't think Bennett would last for another game, my father couldn't end on that note, so he challenged us to another game.  He certainly redeemed himself, bowling 151.  I stayed about the same, but Bennett slipped into the upper 40s.

An embarrassing moment for my father & me
So though it was a short visit, it was an action packed visit!  The kids thoroughly enjoyed being spoiled by their Nene & Poppy, and it was great for me to get to see a couple friends and hang with my parents too.  We had beautiful weather while we were there, and ate a lot of good food!  The kids made it even better by traveling so well both directions (all 9+ hours of it)!  Maybe a trip back won't take us this long next time....

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Grandpal's Day at SCE

As we approached the week off for the Thanksgiving holiday, we spent most of the week battling the flu.  Preston started with symptoms on Monday, and Bennett followed suit on Tuesday.  We started medicine on Wednesday, and their temperatures finally started to subside on Thursday.  Unfortunately, they both still had awful coughs with lots of chest congestion.  But since Bennett missed her Thanksgiving play on Thursday, she really wanted to attend Grandpal's Day on Friday.

Thankfully, her grade was first at 8:30, so I allowed her to attend school.  Mimi and Papa were excited to get a tour of SCE and view some of her artwork.  Following her special time with them, we checked her out of school for a surprise long weekend.

Here are some photos (remember, she was still sick, so cut her some slack for the lack of emotion).
Pointing to her Indian name

One of Bennett's masterpieces
Her other art piece

Standing in front of one of her paintings (the middle one)
With Ms. Greer
Bennett and Caroline