Sunday, November 28, 2010

Katherine's 6th Birthday & first Coe BBall Game

 Kate turned six! Her birthday party was at Build A Bear Workshop with eight of her friends. Everyone made a furry friend and enjoyed activities at BAB. We then had pizza and cake and took rides on the carousel! A lovely day for a special girl!
Sam with Bamboo at Kate's 6th Birthday Party.
The Birthday Girl = SIX!
 Sam began his second basketball season as the Coe College Water & Ball boy - he loves being a part of the team and does a great job at fetching and rebounding balls and keeping the team hydrated. For his first game he took to the road and attended the Coe/UNI game!
Working hard at the Coe/UNI  game as team Water/Ball Boy!
Waiting for the team to arrive!

Friday, August 27, 2010

First week of school

The house is a bit quieter with two in school - here are photos of the first day.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

spend less day one and two

Day two -

$20 Gas for van

$28 Riley's

Total: $48 I/we will not eat out tonight or tomorrow!

Day one - hmm - not so great on the spending less.

$46 Hyvee - groceries.

$6 Starbucks - have to have coffee for in the morning.

$13 Hyvee chinese - love Hyvee chinese

$6 Also used a $20 gift card I had to purchase a present and sunglasses - my third pair of free $10 sun glasses from JC Penney - hopefully this pair will last longer - Chris gave me a compliment and said I look like Elton John in them.

$4 Strawberry shake for all of us to split.

Total: $75

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Blistering heat

Summer update:

Kate decided on her own she wanted to start swimming, not just swimming, but diving in with a belly flop, going underwater, kicking her feet and moving her arms and swimming for a good 12-15 feet. She's progressed to doing underwater flips, twists, turns, dances and swimming. Of course, she decided in her own time she wanted to do this and then she just does it. Typical Kate.

Sam too has decided he wants to swim underwater, do handstands underwater and just play underwater. The family pool pass has really paid off. Swimming is such an important, lifelong skill, I had to jump up the momentum and sign both up for the last session of summer swim lessons. Fingers crossed they are both swimming like seals by the first of September.

Kate has bangs!

Spend less challenge-day one:

Erica's lunch - 3.73
Crocs - half price - $11 Kate had blown through hers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

No spend month

I read with amusement the posts of people who implement an extremely limited budget or a no spend month. You can read posts on Simple Mom or Frugal Living. I've decided to try a no spend week - which begins today - $50 for gas, groceries, eating out and miscellaneous items. This doesn't include the money Chris will spend on gas to visit the grandparents though :)

Sam's 8th Birthday

Sam has been awaiting his 8th birthday for weeks and counting down to the minute he would turn eight. His birthday began with a kiss at 2:22 a.m. from mom - Sam promptly rolled over and said, "I'm tired." At 4:30 a.m., I tried again when he was up running to the bathroom - "Happy Birthday Sam." This at least received a big smile and a "Thanks!" before he ran back to bed! 
After a McDonald's breakfast from Nana - he began opening his presents- he made out like a bandit! Sam's lunch choice was Hyvee Chinese and after a few hours of swimming, we were off for his birthday party at the Kernel's game with 13 of his friends.

Sam threw out the first pitch - his pitch went the distance and Chris thinks it averaged a speed of about 20 mph. Not bad for a lefty pitcher! A hot, but beautiful night at the ball park complete with lots of G2, Culver's ice cream cake and a win by the Kernel's.

Happy Birthday little peanut butter bear!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Exercise update

I'm still not eating well but
Erica Earl Over the past 34 days I have lost 8 pounds, lost one inch around my waist, 1.25 inches around my hips, 1.5 inches around my thighs (hooray) and .75 inches around my calves - chest remains the same :( ... it's working!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Family walk

As we return from a family walk and are entering the garage - Kate stops and looks at the clouds for several seconds, says, "I can see those clouds moving." "I ate a lot of carrots yesterday."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day three Chicago

Hot. Hot. Hot.

We boarded the express bus to the Museum of Science and Industry. We all loved it, especially the submarine, tornado and seeing the chicks hatch.

Our bus was late arriving due to the horrendous thunderstorms, but after waiting two hours we were on our way. Delightful weekend!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Mowing the lawn - thinking of grandma

Yesterday after a three mile run - I decided to break out the weed whacker and trim the grass along the sidewalk and driveway - I usually do this - so no big deal, but then - something strange happened inside my brain and I decided to begin mowing the lawn - I had no intentions of mowing the entire yard - but with rain six out of seven days the past three weeks and more rain forecasted for the next week - yesterday was sunny and the grass was l o n g gggggg! Chris had taken the kids swimming and I really thought he would return to find me mowing and offer to finish - despite him only having had three hours of sleep the night before and working all day yesterday - wishful thinking on my part - I know.

Mowing the yard is not something I do - it's Chris' job - over the years - I don't think I've mowed the entire yard but maybe once or twice - but yesterday I did and as I mowed - I thought of my grandma.

From the time I was nine or so - I mowed my grandma's lawn religiously week after week - she'd drive to our house and pick me up just so I could mow her lawn.  I think my grandma taught me how to mow a lawn - at least she taught me how to mow her lawn - I could see every step of her yard and every tree of her yard as I mowed my lawn yesterday - and I could remember some of her directions like she was talking right to me: "around the driveway you have to point the mower inside away from the gravel so you don't shoot the rocks into the grass." and "Mow around the trees and then go up to the tree trunk between the roots." and  "Careful not to mow down the flowers."

In the earlier days of mowing grandma's lawn was not just about mowing - it was about moving and mowing as she had a swingset, a huge slide,  a glider, a whirligig, a fancy teeter totter, a bench swing and more.

The best part of mowing my grandma's yard was milk and cookies afterwards and she'd always give me $5. Usually I'd spend the night as it was over summer vacation and we'd play yahtzee, board games and watch TV together, usually CNN :).

It was a nice day of reminiscing about grandma and being productive at the same time.

Chicago - day two - Navy Pier

On day two - Thursday of our Chicago adventure - we woke up - had breakfast in our room - and headed out to visit Navy Pier - we walked - it was a beautiful, hot summer day and it was fun to see all of the sights on the way to the Pier. Sam and Kate loved seeing the tall buildings and the river and all of the cabs and buses.

Chris and the kids were among the first people to board the ferris wheel - $18 and one go around was a bit shocking, but it was enjoyable and I'm told the views were amazing.  We walked down the pier and back - not a bunch of activity going on at 10 a.m. but we saw the pirate sail boat and the water taxi's. Then Chris and Sam headed off to Wrigley Field and Kate and I browsed the stores and went to the Children's Museum.

At the Children's Museum - Kate made lots of new friends - her favorite activities were digging for dinosaur bones, playing in the water exhibits, making and serving pizza and climbing the sail boat tower. After playing for three hours - we visited the museum store, of course, and bought Katie her first secret diary - complete with a lock and key - this is her latest obsession and fascination - she can't write words, but she can draw pictures, she tells me. We returned to the hotel via Michigan Avenue and stopped for a late lunch at Noodles - yummy - where I had my favorite Penne Rosa and Kate of course had Mac and Cheese. For my beverage - I had a bottle of cream soda - a rare treat - and I told Kate she could taste it - her eyes became really big and she said, "really, I can? - it's a grown up drink - mommy." Which brought on the discussion of how many things are put into a bottle and some are for everyone and some are for just grown ups. Criminy sakes - almost six years old and she's never drank out of a bottle :) My children do lead sheltered lives! After we returned the hotel we of course had to write and draw in the diary and then we took a quick little nap.

At Wrigley - I'm told Sam and Chris had a Chicago dog and Sam bought an A's hat - he was cheering for the A's not the Cubs :) Sam was a lucky little boy and caught a foul ball at Wrigley - a rare occurrence - he was very proud!  There's nothing like a Wrigley experience.

The boys arrived back to the hotel around 4:30 and then since Sam wanted to visit the Children's Museum - Chris took Sam and Kate back for free family night - I think the kids must have walked about five miles total.

I enjoyed a nice quiet evening in the hotel - picked up a sandwich and chips for dinner and read - very relaxing. The kids returned dirty and tired - quick baths and they went quickly to sleep!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chicago - day one - Wednesday

We packed and drove to Iowa City to catch the bus to Chicago. Chris dropped us off at the downtown IC mall - and went off to find a parking spot for the van in the Hancher parking lot 1.5 miles away. This gave Sam and Kate time to eat lunch (Taco Bell) and I ordered gyros and fries for Chris and I at a nice little restaurant - the best gyro I've had in a long time - probably since we ate with Drew and Chris at a favorite St. Louis Greek restaurant - the name escapes me, of course.

Bundled up the kids and luggage and went to the bus stop - typically travel by bus has a negative connotation - for the $2 per person round trip fare I was not expecting much - but I was pleasantly surprised. We rode comfortably on the upper deck of the Megabus all the way to downtown Chicago - wifi was in and out but I was able to browse and surf enough to make the trip pass by quickly.  We were dropped off at Union Station after four hours, on time - we gathered our bags and barely turned around before a very nice gentleman had our bags in the trunk of a cab and we were taking off for the Hyatt Regency - downtown. Later I found out the nice gentleman was a cab hustler and it cost us $3 for him to secure the cab - worth it in my book, but not Chris' I think. Cab fare was $11 - not too horrible.

We checked in and found a fabulous room on the 20th floor overlooking Navy Pier, the river and lakefront - very pretty view - which is always nice - much better than say a parking lot or busy street.

We were hungry - and after perusing the magazines decided on Chicago style pizza and headed out to find Giordano's - which appeared to be close to our hotel - we set off and walked the two blocks to Michigan Avenue only to realize we had gone to far and the restaurant was actually kitty korner from our hotel - very convenient :) Our pizza was bigger than our tummies, but yummy. The consensus was Tomaso's in Cedar Rapids is still better. We decided it would be wise to walk off some of the calories from the ten pounds of cheese we consumed and headed to Millenium Park - after a bit of a walk - we found a playground - which is the only one we saw our entire time there - and the kids played and we watched. More walking - back to the hotel - baths and bed!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love to dance recital - updated

After nine months of weekly dance lessons - today we experienced the Love to Dance recital - Kate looked beautiful and she did a spectacular job! Dress rehearsal was yesterday so she had a run through as to what to expect up on stage - she's a natural born performer! No nerves, no butterflies - just a huge smile and excitement. All of the dancers performed well and it was such an enjoyable performance - I'll try to post the video of the dance rehearsal performance later - no taping allowed in the final performance :) Chris presented her with a bouquet of flowers and she was quite pleased - then we all headed out to Biaggi's - Kate's choice to celebrate with dinner.

After a two plus mile walk/run - I beat Sam in another game of basketball "rooster" which resulted in him standing in middle of the cul de sac cock a doodle dooing like a rooster - this kid needs to learn the great basketball players of the century need to score the baskets in the lane and not worry about throwing up (and missing) threes  - I'll beat him every time and continue to embarass him in front of all the neighbors until he becomes wiser and heeds my advice!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Walking and swim season

We bought our swim pass last weekend - $182 for the summer's entertainment - I knew if I was spending enough time at the pool to justify the pass - I'd have to buy a swimsuit - which I did, today, and hopefully it won't be too painful for the fellow pool patrons.

This morning, I completed three miles and hit the 50 mile mark which was my goal to purchase new shoes - my current avias have been around since I regularly attended Gold's Gym, pre arthritis diagnosis. Fellow facebook friend and high school friend Betsy raved in a post about her Sketcher shapeups - I researched and read about the somewhat unheard of technology incorporated into these types of shoes and found these shoes are actually kinder and gentler on joints - something I take seriously as I've yet to shed the additional five pounds in my goal. As I'm doing more power walking and some running, I picked up the Avia brand today - the Avi- Motion - they are still somewhat "large" but they are superbly comfortable and still pretty! I'm very excited to walk tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Trial run for single mommy mode

It's election night for the primaries, in case you didn't know - Chris is working 2-who knows when...he's in Des Moines covering the Branstad campaign - Branstad is running for governor of the state of Iowa, in case you wanted to know.

It's 9 p.m.. I successfully picked up Kate from child care and Sam from school - we came home for dinner, playtime and off to Sam's 7:15 p.m. baseball game - which included a six minute rain delay - Sam hit a pop fly to center and two line drives to center - two were caught - he had a single off one of the line drives. Last inning - he played first and caught three consecutive throws resulting in three straight outs - way to go SAM! We came home drenched at 8:35 - no need to shower - just throw some soap and water on a wash cloth, clean the face, hands, feet, privates and under arms ( not in that order) - clean jammies, snack and into bed by 8:50 - By 9 p.m. I'm on the couch with the puter and HGTV is on - not too shabby - after two years - I still "got it."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Things to do this summer

Reconnect with old and new friends.
Walk/run three times per week.

Clean the grill and use it.

Travel to Madison.

Spend a few days in Chicago.

Run through the sprinkler.

Play outside in the rain.

Install a new roof on the house.

Visit Bria in Colorado.

Travel to Duluth.

Swim at area pools 15 times - to justify the swim pass.

Play tennis with the kids.

Visit mom and dad in the creek.

Send the kids away for a few nights - any takers?

Have ice cream at Parlor City.

Take a bike ride on the trail.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Week three - heading into summer

Week three is over - 8 miles and four runs/walks. I can now run .8 of a mile straight without keeling over or stopping to walk. My knee joints ache though and I'm not dropping weight, but hopefully I'm gaining some muscle, right? Muscle burns calories faster than fat - this is what I tell myself to keep motivated. I'll try to eat healthier this week :) Goal is to run one mile and do a three mile jaunt - having trouble moving past the 2.2 mile mark - ugh. Big thanks to Pandora radio 80's dance mix for churning out the free music to keep me moving.

Sam and Kate finished up spring gymnastics this week - they would like to continue on through the summer, the next session begins next week, but we will take a few week hiatus and reevaluate - thankfully - Cartwheels prorates the fee accordingly.

Sam played in a baseball tournament today - he did so well. He is such a fabulous player a team mate. They won their first game, but lost the second and finished in third place.

Kate is entering her final two weeks of dance - two dress rehearsals on stage at Washington High and then the performance on June 13-14. It's been a long dance year...must find a shorter season and a closer location for next year.

On today's walk - as I chased after Sam - he decided to leave me in his dust and continue on our route by himself - all the way home. Not a happy mommy.

I'm back to single mommy mode five nights a week as Chris is moving to the weekend evening anchor / reporter at KCRG. It's been surprisingly nice to have him around in the evening over the past two years and I'm going to miss our informal family time. :(

Monday, May 31, 2010

Week two

Completed four run/walks - each two miles.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ease into exercise week one

Week one is successfully completed. I ran/walked every other day for approximately 2 miles - Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and today for a total of 8 miles! Who-hoo - I did it.  It wasn't too awful - I dropped 1.8 pounds too. Just from exercise - I still ate whatever I wanted, which brings us to week two. I WILL watch what I eat and do my best to limit carbs, sugar and salt. My exercise goal this week is to continue every other day with the two miles, but to throw in one 5k or 3.1 miles walk/run - then I could contemplate doing a 5k race like my friend Lissy! My motivator and inspiration in Duluth. She has signed up to do half marathon in Wisconsin. It's my dream goal to be able to crash her marathon, but I'm not anywhere close to that yet.  I'll take it one week at a time and keep conditioning - if I drop ten pounds, I'll be able to run more easily without damaging my joints. Remember the arthritis diagnosis??

On that note - I have kind of stopped taking my medication and seeing my rheumatologist. At my last visit, last fall - I went down to a real low dosage on my medication with the intent of discussing further at my next visit, which should have been in February. Unfortunately on the day of my appointment, I had a sick child a had to cancel. A few weeks later - when I called to reschedule I was told I could not reschedule until I paid a $30 cancellation fee for not giving 24 hour notice, which irked me, thus I still have not paid the fee, still have not rescheduled and have stopped seeing my rheumy - I'll probably have to fork over the cancellation fee and pay a visit soon, I'm not stupid, I've just been pushing it to the back burner.

The kids and I saw Shrek Forever and Ever and Always Forever and Ever (or whatever it is) in 3D! - We kept the glasses - it was pretty cool and the moral of the story, my friends, is to be happy and appreciate the life you have. I'm so thankful and blessed with love, life, friends and family - this was a cute story and a fun time with the children - can't remember the last movie we saw together at the theatre together - probably CARS!

Stuff, Materialism, Carbon Footprint

If you know me - you know I'm not a hugely passionate conservative environmentalist or anything, but I do live by the mantra, "buy 1, get rid of 2." Stuff and clutter drive me insane. I've always been this way, but with two kids, it's definitely become more of a priority. As my van sits in the driveway, the back is filled with donations to drop off at Goodwill, thus I thought it would be an appropriate time to begin the 30 day challenge - we will not purchase anything that is not absolutely necessary, no toys (no problem there), no clothes, shoes, books, trinkets or stuff! In fact, during this time, I hope to reevaluate our current possessions, and donate some more stuff which we don't treasure, love or appreciate. The kids rooms will be empty :) Wish me luck and check back for updates.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sam the Slugger -

Well it's not Home Run Heinie like I was called, but it's fitting.

Sam played catcher tonight. Every time the bat swung I cringed. I can't remember how many times I said, "Sam, back up!" much less thought it. The bat comes awfully close to the catcher's head - he did a fabulous job though and his head is still in one piece. During the time I excused myself to walk my two miles, he cracked the ball out to the field and earned a triple - with three RBIs. Takes after his mom :)

Sidebar: Last night we searched high and low for his missing in action ball glove - the one he's had since he was three :) Last seen at the Kennedy High batting cages - I searched, Chris searched, Sam searched, even Katie searched the house, the yard, both cars, the garage...Chris even drove down to the cages to see if it was there. No luck. Kate told Sam he could use her pink, lightup glove for his first game of the season. Needless to say, he was not to eager about this idea. Shows off Kate's generous nature though. After covering Biden's visit, Chris found a new glove at Play it Again sports for $8 - good deal - a third of the price and it's already broken in - smart move. Then after he caught up with Kennedy's Coach Hoyer who knows every inch of the Kennedy field and who indeed did have Sam's glove in his possession. Coach Hoyer's advice to Chris though, "the kid needs a new glove." Doh! The t-ball glove needs to be retired, but at least it is back in our possession and I am able to save it for future reminiscing and memories - maybe it'll have a place in the Sam Earl Baseball Hall of Fame in 50 years - just saying - you never know!

Sam's sports activities

Sam played basketball for the Kennedy Cougars this past season. As a second grader, he played "up" with a third grade team for the Kennedy High feeder club. An amazing experience, we watched his skills grow and advance from October through March. Sam had two awesome coaches, Coach Koester and Coach Irvin, who value teaching the basic fundamentals in a fun filled, team valued atmosphere.

As a parent, Sam's positive attitude and ability to work hard while being a role model and a great team member make me most proud. Sam's care, concern and cheering for his fellow team mates is evident at every practice and game, both on the court and off the court.

This spring brings us to baseball, flag football, gymnastics and church, throw in some cub scout meetings as well as school and it has been a horribly busy time for Sam. He excels in all of these environments and I'm happy we are able to provide him with so many opportunities. In his downtime, Sam has his own baseball team on MLB 2008 or whatever it is he is videogaming at the current time. He loves to play video games and romp and run around outside with his sister. We are always on the go and I wouldn't choose to overschedule like this again, but it has been a fabulous spring.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dance, dance, dance - Miss Kate is 5 1/2 years old.

After nine months, Kate is approaching her end of the year dance recital. She performed at Hiawatha Care Center in a preperformance on Thursday night. The girls were absolutely adorable. Nine months of dance has been really long and there have been many weeks where Kate doesn't even want to attend. At the rate of $35 per month - more often than not - she is in the van and on her way. We will take a summer break from dance and see if she is excited again in the fall to attend. Her teacher said it is possible to begin in September to shave some of the weeks off and still pass to the next class. Kate is absolutely beautiful in her costume - trying to decide what to do with her hair was agonizing, but after Chris secured some bobby pins - it was quite easy - just took about an hour to wash, braid and pin up. I marvel at my little Kate because she is so like me, but so not like me - her personality fits mine to a tee which at times can be extremely frustrating, but she is a runner, a dancer and an artist - her creativity outshines mine and is one of her strongest attributes - I remember a time long ago when I enjoyed theatre, perhaps it's just something I've lost along the way.

This is the year Kate is growing right before our eyes. Up until five she maintained the "little girl" look and actions, but during the past five months she has just blossomed into a big girl. She still has a million ponies and plays with them and loves them. She began playing with her barbie dollies too. She can sit and play and act out entire scenarios for up to an hour! It's so entertaining to listen to an watch her play. Her other love is art and art supplies. She loves to make crafts and presents for everyone in her family - especially me - I have a difficult time finding place to hang and store all of her masterpieces. Kate's ability to make friends on the fly is uncanny. Whether it's a trip to the park, attending Sam's baseball practice or going into any type of environment, she makes friends and plays with them like she's known them forever. Kate loves school, her school mates, especially the girls and her teachers! Attending preschool at Pierce has prepared her for kindergarten and she's very excited about the next school year. Kate is very caring and sweet, talented and athletic. Love my little pookie pie to pieces!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Easter

Sunday, January 10, 2010

January, brrr.
Sam and Kate January 2010 We are having lots of fun playing Wii Star Wars, air hockey and board games. The kids also enjoy reading books, making crafts and wrestling around. Sam continues to play basketball with the Kennedy Junior Cougars twice per week. This month, he also joined the Chess Club at school. Kate loves preschool. Her favorite activity when she is not eating is playing with her ponies. She still doesn't play with babies per se, but her ponies receive all of the same attention as a bundle of joy would receive. Shooting Stars, Love, Curley, Blackey, Pinkie Pie, Sylvie, Brownie are just a few of the 40 I am able to name off the top of my head. Kate's nickname these days is "hungry." "I'm hungry." comes out of her mouth about ten times per day - we've been working hard at trying to make her eat all of her food at meal times, but she is "a growing girl." Sam and Kate play and learn very well together without too many fights. I'm so happy they are the best of friends and thankful for their relationship.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I was out shoveling snow off the driveway again this afternoon. Despite the snowstorm was two days ago - Chris shoveled the snow off the roof yesterday - thus the snow fell but it didn't snow. End result - Erica cleans it up. Anyways, listening to MJ on the ipod hauling the huge junks of ice and snow to the side of the driveway. I decide I want to run. Me? Run? Yeah, I know funny, but when the mood strikes, you go with it. So I ran, for 15 minutes in the snow (more people need to shovel their sidewalks) in the cold. I think it might be 0 outside, but it felt good, great! Running in the snow is just like running on the beach - nice, soft and squishy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

It's a new year.

Happy New Year. This is the scene in our home on New Year's Eve. Crazy husband and three sleeping people - my photo is not included! I've never been a huge fan of New Year's. Each day is an opportunity for a new beginning, a new resolution.

The new year signifies to me a time to financially reassess. To rebalance our 401k's and IRA's - to create and review our budget and to project where we want to be one year from now.

December 31 also always signifies a purging throughout the household to hurry scurry donated items to Goodwill for a last minute tax deduction.

Happy New Year, with each day, I will try to be a better friend, a better wife, a better mom, a better worker, a better mentor. I'll try to be healthier and I'll try not to eat chocolate.

Happy New Year