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Sunday, November 3, 2013

That stride.

This summer Brian and I signed up for a race in our town in FL - the full marathon for him and the half for me.  So I ran once or twice and then moving chaos began and I just kinda fell off the wagon.

Then last week I remembered that I have to run 13.1 miles in a little over 3 months.  Oops.

The first few runs were slow and painful and .... jiggly.  One of the worst things about running when you're overweight is all of the jiggling.  But that's just part of the process.  So I pull on all kinds of compression work out gear and hit the treadmill.

Tonight's run was different.  Tonight I hit that stride.  That stride that almost makes you feel like you could keep running for forever. 

I know.  It sounds batshitcrazy.  But I'll never forget when I felt that feeling during my training for my last half marathon.  It's weird and surreal and incredible.  There's no science to it.  No telling when, or even if, it will come.  Sometimes it just does.  And it pulls you through and makes you feel amazing.  

It's that feeling that has me excited for my next run.  Weird?  Yes.  Necessary?  Yes.  Awesome?  Yes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

I'm flying ... north.

If you follow me on Instagram or if you know me in real life, you may have been waiting for this post.  I know.  You've been on the edge of your seat.  Or you know, probably not.

Either way, I have some news ...

I know.  Crazy, right?

So, we've actually already landed back in the Mitten.  In fact, it's been about 6 weeks now since we said goodbye to the Sunshine State and headed north.

To make a long story short, Brian's company is expanding to SE Michigan and as Program Manager, Brian was definitely included in the move.  It all happened pretty quickly, and before I knew it 2 months had passed since I last sat down to write anything in this blog at all.

While we wait for Brian's company to find a permanent spot for their new location and try to decide where we ultimately want to live, we're staying with Brian's parents.  They live in a big house with lots of space for us and they've been incredibly accommodating.  We're so blessed to have a place to land while life works itself out.  Don't get me wrong, squeezing 4 adults, 3 kids, and 5 dogs into one house, no matter how big it is, is not without its' challenges.  But we're making it work and focusing on the positives while working out the kinks.

Now that we're a bit more settled, I look forward to taking the opportunity to sit down and let some thoughts out of this crazy head of mine every once in awhile!  Since about 4 minutes after she stopped crying happy tears about our move, my BFF has been nagging me about changing my blog name to "I'm Flying North".  But it's staying "South" for now.  Even though we literally moved back north, writing is so cathartic for me that I feel like I've taken a bit of a vacation after I click "Publish".  So while "I'm Flying South" started as a very literal description of life, it has transformed into a figurative description.

Well, that and it'd be too much work to change the blog name and I already have enough shit to do.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sloppy Joes ... Slop, Sloppy Joes.

I vividly remember the first time that I made Sloppy Joes for Brian.  He took one look at them and said "What's this?"

He didn't understand why someone would make homemade Sloppy Joes from scratch when Manwich exists.  Growing up in a household where most things were made from scratch, I had no idea that Manwich even existed.

When Brian told me that he preferred the Manwich, I wasn't shocked.  This is the same man that prefers Jiffy Blueberry muffins to homemade muffins with fresh blueberries.  Prego to homemade spaghetti sauce.  Chewy Chips Ahoy to homemade chocolate chip cookies (that one I can't blame him for .... I'm not great at chocolate chip cookies).

I don't take it personally.  I know it's not about my cooking.  It's just what he's grown up with and what he prefers.  And really, it works out well for me because the prepackaged stuff is just less work.

But lately, I've been more focused on feeding my family fewer prepackaged foods ... and after almost 7 years of marriage, I'm more comfortable saying "Hey, sorry you don't like it as much, but it's better for you.  So suck it up buttercup."

I've had a hankerin' for some good, hearty Sloppy Joes lately, so I turned to the Pioneer Woman's Sloppy Joe recipe for a starting point.  Of course, I used what I had and adapted as needed and holy sweet peppers was it a hit.  Hubby loved it, I loved it, the boys ... well, they all took bites.  They're in an annoying food-strike phase.

Yep, that's a paper plate.  We're fancy ya'll.

Sloppy Joes
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2.5 pounds ground beef
1 (large) onion - diced
1/2 green pepper - diced
5 mini sweet peppers - diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp garlic salt (or to taste)
2 cups ketchup
3/4 cups beef broth
1/4 cups water
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp honey mustard
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Worcestershire to taste - maybe 3 tbsp?
salt/pepper to taste

In a large skillet, cook beef, peppers, onions, garlic powder & garlic salt until meat is browned.  Drain grease.  Add ketchup, beef broth, water and stir.  Add brown sugar, chili powder, honey mustard, red pepper flakes, and Worcestershire.  Stir well.  Taste test and add salt, pepper, more Worcestershire, garlic ... whatever sounds good.  I'm very much a go-with-the-flow kinda cook.  Let it simmer for a bit to let the flavors really kick up.

Throw nice big spoonful onto a nice hearty bun, and add a slice a cheese if you're an addict like me.  De-lish.  I think I may see an end to our Manwich days.  Or at least a decrease in them!

Friday, August 23, 2013

July 2013.

No, you're light years behind on life.  

Whatev.  I'm doing the best I can.  My kids are alive and well and I'm not willing to give up writing my monthly updates, so I'll just continue to write them a few months late :D

Brian was gone for the first part of July.  The boys and I stayed busy, as we always do when he's gone.  I must admit though, that this trip was more difficult than some of his other trips.  I mean, the day the Brothers managed to climb the counter, retrieve the finger paints, and paint the kitchen floor was .... especially challenging.  Thank you little baby Jesus for washable Crayola products.

They boys were just very very very clingy.  Most of my days were spent snuggling, with 1- 3 of them piled onto my lap.  This part, of course, was just fine.  The problems arose when I'd try to get up to cook or clean or you know, attempt to empty my bladder.  Full blown fits of rage would erupt from 3 angles.  I mean, how why couldn't I make them food while they sit on my lap???  Apparently, I am not a good enough Mom.  O_o

One of my saving graces while Brian is traveling is my friend Lisa.  The boys love playing with her 2 year old son L and her almost 1 year old daughter A.  We have play dates, go on outings together, and watch each others' kids so that we can each get some alone time.  It's funny, but we both agree that when we're watching each other's kids, life almost gets a bit easier, even though we have more kids.  I think it's the novelty of having friends over that chills them all out a bit and makes them less Mommy-focused and needy.  It's a beautiful thing.

Bri returned home on the 10th and jumped right back into Daddy-duty as he always does.  One of the boys' favorite things to do is to play on the big climbing wall/slide that Brian makes out of Brennan's mattress and box spring.  It's good exercise for them and pretty low maintenance entertainment for us!

Brennan and Brian got some extra quality time together during some of the Brothers' naps.  They painted together and Brennan decided to paint a butterfly mask for Daddy ... which it was on Daddy's face.  He also insisted on going for a run with Daddy.  They ran around the neighborhood and Brian was overjoyed that Brennan wanted to go and that he was actually pretty good.

Brian enjoyed some alone time with the Brothers while Brennan and I had a little weekend in Michigan.  When we came back, it was back to chaos as usual.  Kiernan got himself a nice battle wound.  He was trying to watch through the window while Brian mowed the lawn and slipped and cracked his eyebrow open on the windowsill .  He didn't care that there was blood running down his face.  All he wanted to do was "ride tractor!!!".  Brian and the boys worked on my new table too, trying to get it nice and smooth so that I don't have to chisel food out of the cracks on a daily basis.

We are taking full advantage of beach season.  The boys are obsessed with surfing, and are actually getting pretty good at body surfing - especially Kiernan.  All 3 of them rode some pretty good waves this time around.  It's so much fun to watch them!

Check out these gorgeous pictures of my sweet baby.  His eyes get me every time.  His Goldfish-caked smile isn't half bad either.

I've said it a million times before, but we are so lucky to have friends who love to play with our kids.  Brennan had a blast splashing in the waves with our friend Kyle.

True to his personality, Mr Beckett is the cautious beach bum.  He likes the water, and he'll body surf, but he really prefers to be with and adult while he's in the water.  And really, playing in the sand is his favorite thing to do.  

Also true to his personality, Kiernan has absolutely no fear when it comes to the water.  The photo on the left was taken right after he took a wave on the body board and rolled under the water.  Brian and I are always right there, but he managed to stand up on his own before we could even help him.  And it didn't really phase him at all.  He just runs straight into the waves and we have to make sure to keep up with him.  That said, he is getting much better at listening.  The photo of him looking at the camera while Brian and Brennan head out into the water was taken while I called his name and told him to stay with me.  

So that's July.  Who wants to take bets on whether I get August finished before August is actually over?

Ha.  Ha.  Hahahahahahahahahahaha. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brennan does Michigan.

Brennan has a slight obsession with Michigan.  Actually, it's a big obsession.  It's taken a long time for him to be able to understand why we can't go to Michigan whenever we want.  So when Grampy & Grammy offered to fly Brennan & I up for a long weekend, we jumped at the chance.  

Brennan was so.insanely.excited.  He loaded up his "pack-pack" with fun things for the plane and pulled his own little suitcase behind him through the airport.  The flight itself was bumpy, but Brennan entertained himself and wasn't really interested in me at all, so I was able to do a bit of reading.  I wish I could have captured his reaction when he saw my Mom get out of the car at the airport.  He took off running toward her squealing "GRAMMMMMYYY!" and didn't stop smiling the entire ride to my parents' house.

I left the next morning to see my friend and college roomie Heather and her newest addition.  Baby girl E was sweet as pie and the spitting image of her gorgeous mama.  It was nice to have a bit of time to myself that weekend.  I even took some time to visit my friend Steph for a much needed hair cut and color.

Brennan spent lots of time in Grammy's pool.  He's becoming quite the little fish ... only with the right floaties on though.

Mom, Teresa, and I took Brennan to Imagination Station in Toledo one day.  It's a hands-on science center for kiddos (and adults, really).  His favorite party by far was the little fireman area.  He drove the firetruck and put out fires and all kinds of fun things.  It was a blast watching him play.  Since then, he hasn't stopped telling Daddy & Brothers that they can go back with him someday.  

We also had a Monkey Party while in Michigan.  Not too long ago while we were on Skype, Brennan noticed my parents' house decorated with monkey decorations for some occasion.  Since then, he has been absolutely obsessed with having a Monkey Party of his own.  Only Brennan would get a party thrown for him - complete with decorations, cake, and presents - for no reason in particular.  He's so spoiled  intensely-loved.

Of course, the spoiling was not exclusive to the monkey party.  He got plenty of surprises and treats and paid dearly with lots of snuggles for everyone.

Luckily, our trip coincided with Great Grandma G's 101st birthday.  I was so happy that we were able to go and spend some time celebrating with Brian's side of the family.  That side of the fam is especially fun because there are 9 kids, 7 years old (I think) and younger ... including a set of triplet boys and my set of twin boys.  And only one girl.  It's lively and fun and all of us adults enjoy sipping adult beverages so that usually makes it even more fun.  Brennan had a blast running around with all of his cousins, playing with the car he got for Great Gram for her birthday, and even sipping his very own can of Mountain Dew.  Cuz I'm crazy.

Sunday was our last day in Michigan and we made the most of it.  Brennan splashed around in the pool for awhile and I relished having adults around so that I could take a break.  

My Uncle Joe worked his magic on the grill, as usual.  More than that though, he made these amazing cinnamon rolls for dessert.  I'm not exaggerating one little iota when I say that it made my tastebuds dance.  It was the best thing I have ever eaten.  Seriously.  I still dream about it.  

As we scooted out the door to the airport, Brennan gave everyone one last squeeze.  After kisses and hugs for Great Grama, Aunt Lynne, Uncle Joe, & TT, my parents drove us to the airport.  Once we got there, there were more squeezes and kisses and lots of sad faces.  

Brennan broke my heart in that airport.  Because his heart was broken.  He was so incredibly, genuinely sad to be leaving.  I promised that we'd go back to visit soon, and that we'd get to see Daddy and Brothers soon too.  But nothing seemed to cheer him up.  Poor sweet kiddo.  He loves him some Michigan and all the people who come along with it.  

I had to share these photos I snapped of my parents while I was there.  Both were just random, spur of the moment snapshots and I just love their smiles.  So natural and genuine.  I lucked out in the parent department, for sure.  And thanks to them, Brennan got a little fix of Michigan for a bit!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Car seat conversations {twinkle twinkle little skunk}.

I have another great car conversation for you today.  With the Brothers' speech abilities improving daily, I have a feeling that this is going to become a regular thing.

Beckett:  Mommy.  See Daddy.

Kiernan:  See Daddy peeeeese?

Brennan:  No Brothers.  Daddy is in Michigan.

Beckett:  Daddy in Mi-ki-gin?

Brennan:  No Beckett!  That's not how you say Michigan!  It's Mi-shuh-gin.

Beckett:!  Daddy in Mikigin!

Kiernan:  Hehe.  Mikigin.  Mommy!  Sing Tinkle Tinkle!

Brennan:  I'll sing it Kiernan!  Twinkle Twinkle little--

Kiernan: SKUNK!!

Brennan:  NO KIERNAN!  That's not how the song goes!!!

Beckett:  Haha SKUNK!

Brennan:  No Beckett, that's not funny!

Kiernan:  Tinkle tinkle little ...... SKUNK!!!  hehehhehehehehehe!!!

Beckett:  hahahahahahahahahah!  SKUNK!!

Brennan:  BROTHERS!  That's not right!  It's Twinkle Twinkle little--

Kiernan & Beckett:  SKUUUUUUUNK!!!

Brennan:  Mommy, these Brothers are driving me in sink.

Me:  In sink?

Brennan:  Yes Mommy.  That means crazy.  

Nope, I have no idea where he picked up that phrase....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


We were on our way home from Target today when Brennan asked if he could have grilled cheese for dinner.  "Sure" I replied, then returned to my thoughts of all of the things I needed to accomplish for the rest of the day.  He kept chatting away and between thoughts I replied with an occasional "mmmhmmm" or "oh yeah?".  You know.  Mom stuff.

Soon he grew quiet and I glanced in the rearview mirror to see what he was up to.  I saw him staring out the window, lost in thought.  Suddenly, he snapped out of it.  "Hey Mommy?" he asked.  "Can you make me a jaw?"

Of course, I thought I misheard him.  "A JAW buddy?"

"Yeah Mom.  A jaw."

Still confused, I went with my usual question when I don't know what he's talking about.  "Well what do you need a jaw for, Brennan?"

He looked annoyed.  "Mom, a jaw is what you eat with.  I need a big, HUGE jaw like Bot so I can eat 100 grilled cheeses at once.  All in a big stack."

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh.  Got it.

My kids love Team Umizoomi.  Like, LOVE love.  For those of you without cable or small children, Team Umizoomi is a team of tiny superheros (Milli, Geo, & Bot) who go around "Umi City" solving crisis situations.  Like putting a bandaid on Mike's boo boo when he falls off his scooter.  Or milking the cows when the farmer is sick so that all of the kids in Umi City don't have to go without milk.  Or returning all of the dinosaurs to the Umi City museum after they're scared away by a storm.  You know.  Realistic crisis situations.  They have to solve all kinds or problems by using their powers, which involve measuring, patterns, and shapes, all while outsmarting douche-nozzles like Door Mouse and the Troublemakers who try to stop them.  It's riveting stuff, let me tell ya.

aaaaaaaanyway, Bot is a robot.  He has a "Belly Screen" on which he can bring up pretty much any image he wants and essentially every part of his body is able to grow longer if he says "(insert body part here) Extendo!".  (Dude.  Get your mind out of the gutter.)

So apparently on one of the episodes this morning, Bot said "Jaw extendo!" and proceeded to eat a million sandwiches on top of each other and Brennan decided that concept would be really cool.  And then when he was getting all excited about his grilled cheese for dinner, he put the two together and BOOM.  Mom, make me a jaw.  Cuz, you know, I don't already have one.  Or at least the one you made me the first time is total crap.

I love the way his little almost-4-year-old brain works sometimes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

June 2013.

Oh June.  What a great month!  

First of all, I have to say that I've had a lot of fun watching Brennan grow & mature lately.  He is taking fewer naps, which provides for more one on one time with him while the Brothers are napping.  Some of the big favorites this month were puzzles and learning about volcanoes.  At one point he was "reading" a volcano book while watching a volcano video.  Brennan and I even had a nice little fro-yo date after a very, um, dramatic haircut for him.  It's nice to be able to spend a little one-on-one time with my biggest baby.  

My photografriend Lisa and her hubby have 3 kiddos - 6 year old twin boys and a 2 year old girl.  With as much traveling as we do and as many photo shoots they do on the weekends, we rarely have the opportunity to get everyone together.  But we took advantage of a free weekend in June and headed over to their house for a BBQ.  Brennan loves to play with the big boys, the littles love to run around together, and we parents love to be able to sit and chat while the kiddos run wild.  

Early June was filled with lots of normalcy.  The Brothers are starting to require timeouts on the regular, which just reminds me that they're quickly approaching ... 2.  They're still quite snuggly babies though.  I must admit that there are days when I'm just "touched out", but it's rare that I'll turn down a bedtime snuggle because I know that these moments won't last forever.

Brian filled up the pool in the backyard and the boys have had so much fun swimming and playing and trying to keep cool.  They love squirting each other with the hose and practicing their swimming techniques.   Mommy & Daddy are enjoying the ability to put our feet up and watch the fun with beers (and a camera, duh) in our hands.  

Father's Day was pretty laid back in our house this year.  The boys (and by that I mean "I") bought Brian a few small things.  We tend to keep Mother's Day & Father's Day to small, meaningful gifts, usually something that the boys make.

This year I found a great deal on a remote control helicopter and decided that it would be something that all 4 boys could enjoy together.  I hid it successfully in the bottom of my closet until 2 days before Father's Day when Brennan discovered it and yelled, "Daddy!  Look what I found!"  Brian smiled sheepishly at me and said, "Um, I think he found my Father's Day gift".  They all spend most of Father's Day enjoying the helicopter together and all-around enjoying the most important man in our life.  I always knew that Brian would make a great Dad, but I had no idea that he would be this amazing.  We are all so lucky to have him.

Much of June involved playing outside, getting dirty & sweaty, and taking baths to remedy the situation.  The boys love to draw with chalk, play hopscotch (kinda), ride their bikes and "fix" the cars.  Of course, Florida summers are pretty hot and the sun is intense, so we try to keep the outside times reserved for early mornings or evenings.  They also really love to be "naked" when they're outside, if you couldn't tell from the pictures.  We're totally that family.
Mr. Beckett looooooves to drive the car.  And Kiernan really prefers to ride shotgun, so there is much less arguing than I anticipated.  Whenever they drive around like this, I have visions of them in 15 years and my heart does little flip flops.  They're growing up too fast.    

As I said, bike riding is a favorite past time around here.  Brian recently found a great deal on a bike on Craigslist, so he has been biking to work occasionally to help build up strength in his leg.  Brennan's physical therapy has helped with his strength and it's becoming easier for him to ride his bike.  They've attempted a few father/son bike rides, but they usually only make it to the end of the block before turning around.  Baby steps ;)  The brothers love to get in on the bike riding action too, practicing on their trike or sitting on Brennan's big bike.  Kiernan's favorite part is wearing Brennan's bike helmet.

Uncle Cory came for a visit a few days before my birthday.  On Friday the 21st, we headed to the zoo for a few hours.  Since there were 3 adults, we decided to ditch the stroller and let the boys walk.  I think they really enjoyed the freedom, and it was much less chaotic than I imagined it would be!

My favorite thing about our zoo is the opportunity to feed so many of the animals.  The boys love the interaction with the deer, birds, and giraffes in particular.  It was such a great morning.

As it neared noon, Brian stalled and stalled.  He seemed to be taking his sweet time and the boys were getting hungry and tired.  So of course I was getting annoyed.  Then when we left he wanted Chick-Fil-A.  When I suggested we drive through and he refused, finally declaring that he wanted "4 to 5 fountain Cokes", I knew he had something up his sleeve.  I had no idea what it was, but I decided that I better just go with it.  Imagine my surprise when I was waiting for our drinks and my parents and sister walked through the door!

It was the greatest surprise.  I was over-the-moon excited to see them, especially George since I hadn't seen her since Christmas.  After lunch, we headed back to our house.  We chatted while Brennan and Brian played in the rain.  It was an awesome day!

On my birthday we headed to Brian's office for a cookout with our friends.  It was a great way to spend the afternoon.  My Mom & Brennan made me a cake and that evening we sang Happy Birthday and I opened a few gifts.  It was a wonderful birthday, and I have to say, 30 feels pretty good.

Sunday we headed to the beach.  It was nice to have lots of extra hands and the boys loved body-surfing. 

The difference in the boys' personalities is really evident at the beach.  While they all enjoy being in the water and playing in the sand, they each definitely have favorites.  Mr Beckett prefers playing in the sand, often under the shade of our tent.  He's a sand thrower, but luckily his favorite target is his own head instead of his brothers.  Kiernan likes to chase things.  I know.  Shocking, right?   Birds, waves, airplanes, people.  You name it, the kid wants to run after it.  On this particular trip he was having a blast pointing out all of the airplanes.  While he likes to play in the sand with Beckett & chase things with Kiernan, Brennan's favorite thing is to be out in the water with an adult (usually his Daddy) holding him and "jumping" over the big waves.

I can't even explain how much easier it is to go out to eat with more adults to help with the boys.  We seldom eat out at restaurants because A.) it gets expensive with our growing boys and B.) it's chaos.  So it's nice to have extra adults around to help control the chaos so that we can enjoy a meal at a restaurant now and then. 

Aunt George came bearing gifts for the boys and they kept her busy while enjoying those gifts.  She supervised time in the rice box sensory bin, helped with the painting kit she brought, and manned the pump for the airbrush kit she brought for Brennan.  Mommy enjoyed telling Brennan to "go ask Aunt George for help" while she was here :)

Of course, everyone got plenty of snuggles while they were here.  Each boy seemed to have a favorite person to stick close to.  Brennan had lots of fun with Aunt George, Kiernan loves his Grammy, & Mr Beckett wants nothing to do with anyone but Grampy.  So on the rare occasion that Beckett went near Grammy, we had to snap a picture to document that he does actually love her.

Going to the pool at their hotel was another HUGE hit.  Apparently I have 3 little fish.  It took Brennan a bit to get used to the pool and he insisted on wearing his swimmies.  I hadn't planned on putting swimmies on the Brothers, but had thrown them in the bag just in case.  When Kiernan saw Brennan's, he insisted on a pair of his own and wouldn't let anyone help him swim.  Beckett wanted a pair on too and required a little more assistance, but they all had an absolute blast in the pool.  It made me sad that they don't get to enjoy Grammy & Grampy's pool more often!

The boys also wanted to show Grammy & Grampy how we take walks around the block ... footloose and fancy free.  Brennan showed off his car spotting skills when we crossed the street and they all showed off their "Red light, green light" game.

It was so hard to see them leave, but it was made a bit easier knowing that Brennan and I would head to Michigan in a few short weeks.  What a wonderful way to end a great month!