Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Field Trip: Phipps Conservatory

Sorry I didn't post yesterday.  Lately I'm finding it harder and harder to come up with things to blog about.  I figure if I have to "come up" with something, then it's probably not something anyone is really interested in reading anyway.  It seems (from my stats) that the most popular post are my posts that come from the heart.

In addition to being my fitness journal, my blog is definitely about my kids.  Don't forget that MOM part.  And while these posts are probably only popular with my mom and maybe my sisters, I still like to have little things in my kids' lives documented.

Here's a little of the action that occurred on Ella's field trip today to Phipps Conservatory.

When we got there we were immediately whisked off into the classroom to learn about worms.  Clearly we were overjoyed.

Ella was a little scared about the worms.  She did NOT want to touch them.

Her friend was very brave so Ella thought about touching it.

And finally she did!

She was so proud of herself.

But we weren't there for worms, we were there for flowers.

My favorite part, however, was the butterflies.

Ok so it wasn't the best field trip, but it wasn't the worst either.

I'm looking forward to 3rd grade where we go to Heinz Field and PNC Park.  Now THAT'S a field trip.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saturday Sports Marathon

George was out of town all weekend and I worked on Friday so my mom watched Jack on Friday.  She helped me out tremendously by spending the night at my house because Saturday was a youth sports marathon.  

I got up at 5:45 am in order to be out the door in time for a 7:00 am ice time.  Poor Nicholas.  He was so tired.  

He doesn't like when I help him do his skates either.  I don't normally do a good job, but he didn't complain at all yesterday.  He said I got them tight enough and everything.  I must be getting good (should be after almost 5 years).

Nichola spent nearly 2 hours skating his heart out during a tryout.  I was tired for him.  There's some tough competition.  

Ella had an 8:30 soccer game, which my mom took her to.  I didn't get to snap a pic, but apparently it was pretty cold.  She had another game at 11:00 am (again my mom took her there) and it was nice and warm and sunny by then.  She scored 5 goals over the 2 games.  Of course she did, because I wasn't there.

I took the boys to baseball because this was their very first games ever.  I didn't want to send my mom into the unknown world.  Ella played soccer in the fall so I knew what to expect.

Jack was very serious at his game.  He wore his batting gloves and everything.  There were kids on his team that didn't know which way to run the bases.  One kid even hit the ball and then picked it up himself and ran with it to first base.  Jack just laughed.  He doesn't care as long as he's out there giving it his all.

Nicholas didn't seem nervous for his game and then about 10 minutes before the game started the Coach told him he'd be pitching.  I think we both almost threw up.  I was so nervous the whole time my little buddy was out on the mound.  He did a decent job especially for his first time and only having practiced pitching literally one time!  As usual, I am so proud of Nicholas.

My kids' activity schedules are insane for the next 6 to 7 weeks, but that's what I get for having three kids.  Ha!  I want them ALL to be able to do what they want.  I love that they want to be involved in activities, but it's a lot to manage.  Thank goodness for Granny and thank goodness George is back on duty this weekend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

How to Make a Baseball Cap Cake

Ok so if you're really here for a step by step how-to then you may not be in the right place.  I didn't take any pictures while doing this, but I'll try to explain what I did so those of you trying to replicate can do it too.

I used the Wilton ball pan and baked both sides of the "ball".

My cake is still wet from attaching the logo so don't look at that 
I then took the other half of the ball and cut about 2 inches off the bottom.  I put a layer of buttercream on top of the 2 inch cake and then put the other half of the ball on top.  This made the head part of the hat.   I then covered it in fondant (that I dyed myself navy).  I had navy food color, but it didn't turn it navy.  I had to add black to get it really dark.  That's my hint, add black and save yourself a lot of time.

I would really have liked to have done a curved brim, but I didn't have gum paste and the fondant just wouldn't harden up enough.  So I just traced a bill of a real hat onto parchment and then placed it onto the rolled fondant and cut around.  I put the ball pan half at the back end and cut it so I knew it would fit perfectly onto the head portion of the cap.

I then used the Wilton Cutter Embosser Fondant Tool to make the "seams" on the brim and cap part.  I used round decorating tips to make the vent holes.  I'm not sure what numbers they were.

Finally I found a NY logo by Googling and cut it out on card stock.  I then placed it on the fondant and cut around it using the embossing tool.  Easy peasy.

I'm really pleased with the way the cake turned out.  I don't think I would have done a thing differently (except use gum paste so I could bend my brim).  I still think the flat bill looks cute!

In case anyone wonders, this cake took me about 2 and a half hours to do (with the cupcakes).  Oh and speaking of cupcakes,  I ordered the toppers from Etsy here.

Oh and in case you're wondering, this was for my friend Tracey's son Owen.  Happy Birthday Owen.  I hope you love your cake!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Ella's Jazz Costume Edition

I just love this girl and this dance is so cute.  I can't stand it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boston Strong Pittsburgh

A lot of you probably already saw these pics on my Facebook page yesterday, but I was over eager to share them yesterday.  Still, I wanted to post them here to, of course, remember.

You've probably heard about runners coming together around the country in their cities to remember and help raise money for the victims at the Boston Marathon.  Well, Boston Strong Pittsburgh happened, but as it turned out I couldn't make it all the way downtown.  I decided instead to go to a local version held at a local community park.

Tracey and I decided to ride out together and since she was just brining her girls, I decided to just bring Ella.  The boys wanted to stay home and play hockey with Daddy anyway.  Ella was VERY excited to run and even though I don't think she FULLY understood what we were doing, she knew we were running for those that couldn't.

We said a nice prayer in the beginning especially for those still struggling to recover and the families that have experienced loss.  All of us there knew it could have been any one of us and it hit me just a little too close to home.

The child that died as a result of the bombing was Ella's age!  So, so sad!

Like I said, Ella was eager to run and she said she wanted to try for 3 miles.  The loop at the park was 1.1 miles.

We figured Jenna was good for one loop, and Megan also said she wanted to do 3 loops.

We all set off running and Megan quickly pulled ahead.

Tracey and I stayed with the girls.  After CrossFit that morning, I wasn't too keen on running.  A light jog was just fine with me.

Ella was so happy the whole time. She ran and chatted my ear off about this, that and the other thing.

Jenna made it one loop and decided she was hungry. I offered to stay back with her as Tracey and Ella went out for there 2nd loop (Megan was already on her 2nd).  Apparently Ella chatted up Tracey too, talking and running the whole time.

Ella took a rest for a bit and fueled up on a few cookies while Tracey went out to catch up with Megan.  I figured by the time Tracey got back Ella would have forgotten about the last loop, but she didn't.  As soon as Tracey got back, we (Ella and I) headed out for the final loop.

I was so proud of Ella for getting out there and running.  She set a goal to run 3 miles and she wasn't going to leave without doing it.  She took walking breaks as needed, but her smile never broke.  Every time I run with my children, I'm inspired by their enthusiasm and spirt and this time was no exception.

Ella woke up this morning sore and literally crying.  She said her feet and hamstrings were sore.   I told her yesterday that if she chose to run the full 3 miles, she would probably be sore the next day (mom is ALWAYS right).  This morning I reminded her of the injured people and how some of them aren't able to run right now.  I told her she should be thankful that she was able to run even if that meant feeling a little bit of pain.  I don't know if it helped her, but I told her every time she felt the pain to let that be a reminder and to take that time to pray for all the victims.  I don't know if she did, but I hope so.

Congrats to all the girls for running.  Megan ran 3.3, Ella 3.3 and Jenna 1.1 miles!  How awesome is that?  Also, thanks again to my wonderful, fabulous, couldn't be better friend Tracey for inviting us along and running along with Ella and me.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Thoughts on the Pittsburgh Marathon

Here I sit 2 weeks out from the Pittsburgh Marathon (I'm doing the half) and staring in the face of the harsh realization that my longest long runs has been 5 miles.  I plan to attempt 7 miles on Wednesday, but I've been careful not to increase my mileage too much.  I think 7 miles is the longest run I'm going to get in before the race.

Let's take a look back shall we?  I did the Pittsburgh Marathon (half) in 2010.  It was only my second half in my life and, as far as I was concerned at the time, I rocked it.  I knocked 8 minutes off my first half marathon time and I felt pretty damn good about it.

It rained for pretty much 12.1 miles of the 13.1 miles, I chaffed and I bled (my toes), but I finished with determination.  2:09:20.

I skipped 2011 because we were living in Texas, but I flew in to run in 2012.  I was at a really good place in my fitness regimen and bound and determined to set a PR (held by my prior Pittsburgh Marathon showing in 2010).  My niece ran her first half that year and it was pretty special having her there with me.  At 17 years old, I never would have had the courage to tackle 13.1 miles.

My niece Abbey and me 
My friend Tracey decided to run WITH me, which was awesome.  Tracey is much faster, so helping pace me to a PR wasn't hard for her.  It got hot that day, which made things difficult for me, but I was determined to push through and get a PR.  With little time to spare, I finished my last mile at a 8:23 pace and finished the race with a big PR of 2:07:22.

Tracey and me 
So I have really great memories of my two Pittsburgh Half Marathon races.  This year, I'm kind of terrified.  I've run almost a dozen half marathons and I haven't been this nervous since my very first half back in November of 2009.  At that time, I didn't know if I could finish.  I mean I seriously didn't know if I could run 13.1 miles.  I had only trained up to 10 miles and running 13.1 seemed impossible, but I was determined and I did it.  (Finished in 2:17:22 in case you wondered).

I have no idea what this year's half marathon holds for me.  I don't know if I can finish.  I don't know if I will have to walk.  I don't feel confident in my training or my abilities right now.  One thing I am sure of is my determination.  Determination has seen me through so many things in the past, and I'm hoping it will help me through the Pittsburgh Half.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't recommend just going out and doing a race you haven't trained for and expect to be able to finish without some obstacles.  In fact, I really don't recommend it AT ALL, but I've decided to run this marathon whether it's smart or not.  I'm running my OWN RACE, all alone, and that way at the end I'll know, whatever the outcome, I made an experience all my own.  I won't wonder what if, or think coulda, shoulda, woulda.

So that's the decision.  Me, myself and I running/hobbling/walking the Pittsburgh Marathon.  One thing is for sure, I'll be bringing along my determination.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hosting a Yellow and Gray Baby Shower

Yesterday I hosted a surprise baby shower for my best friend from pharmacy school, Jennifer.  When Jen first got pregnant, I contacted her family to see if I could help with a shower, but I was told (in no uncertain terms) that Jennifer did NOT want a shower.  And she didn't want one--THEN!  About 3 weeks ago, Jen confessed during a late night talk with her hubby that she regretted saying she didn't want a shower.  Her husband filled us all in on Jen's "confession" so we all hopped into motion.  I hosted a shower for Jen at her home for her husband's side of the family and her mother hosted for Jennifer's side of the family the week prior.  Both showers were surprises and both were so fun.

When Jen pulled up to the house she acted so surprised and was so "mad" that we had "gotten her" two weeks in a row.  If she wasn't surprised, then she deserves an Oscar for her performance.  

I loved, loved, loved planning the shower.  I did try to keep all the fuss to a minimum as that is why Jennifer didn't want the shower to begin with.  I went with a gray and yellow theme since the sex of the baby is not known.  

I ordered the invites from this site on Etsy.  I was so pleased with the invite and the service was great.  I made an error on the first invite (left out SURPRISE) and she quickly fixed it and at no charge to me.

I wanted to do some special touches to show the thought I put into planning things for Jen's special occasion.  I think I originally saw the idea to set out a piggy bank on Pinterest.   Then I found this adorable chalkboard piggy bank at Target and just wrote on it asking the guests to fill the bank.

As the guest arrived I asked them to fill out these cards, "Wishes for baby."  They slipped their filled out card into a mini photo album and it's something I hope Jen, an eventually her baby, will look back on and smile.  

I found these cards and printed them for free here.  

I made all the decorations myself including pinwheels from this tutorial and tissue paper pom poms from this tutorial.  

I wanted to do a custom cake for Jen and even thought about making it myself, but the 3 hour car ride deterred me.  Because of our short time frame,  I couldn't find anyone able to make a custom cake.  I decided to order a regular cake and make my own cake topper inspired by this $35 topper I found on Etsy.  I made mine for less than $2.  Obviously the Etsy one was cuter, but I thought mine made a nice substitute.  That was, until someone called it a goal post.  Ha!

Since I knew Jen didn't want to play games, I decided to buy small prizes and give them away during the time Jen was opening her gifts.  You know, the old set a timer and whomever's gift she is opening gets the prize.  No harm in that right?

I also made little favors to thank the guests for coming by attaching a tag to color themed antibacterial hand sanitizer.  Good for when the guest come to visit baby!

I kept the food light and did wraps and pita sandwiches with pasta salad, veggies/dip and chips/pretzels.  Oh and the YELLOW lemonade of course.  I loved the veggies in the little paper cups, which I got here.  So cute!  I also ordered really cute yellow and gray paper straws, but they weren't delivered in time.  I still don't have them.  Next baby?  haha

None of these details really matter however.  Even though each thing was created with love and thought of making the day special, none it really mattered.  All that mattered was seeing Jennifer happy, and I truly think she was.

Because seriously, what mother-to-be doesn't deserve to be showered with love?

The happiness was seen on her face.

I would have done this shower a million times over (even on 3 weeks notice) just to see that happiness again and again.  I love you Jen, and I know you'll be a fabulous mom to your new baby.  I can't wait to meet and love him/her!