Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Good Morning

You know what a great start to the day is?

Waking up before anyone else to an overcast morning, quietly feeding the animals, then settling down with a good pumpkin spice coffee (typically my fall craving, but whatever) and waiting for the rest of the fam to rise.  I'm even recording Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for the little people while I catch up on blogs, since I'm feeling so chipper.  Yesterday I proclaimed "whoa is me" on facebook after day two of a nap strike occurred, but as I sit here at 9:20 and those babes slumber away, I'm changing my attitude a bit.  I'm now a proponent of "rest time" rather than nap time, especially when they snooze for 13 hours a night. 

Yes, I believe I'll have some of that.

Oh, also?  I've been able to catch more than the usual morning glance at my cell phone's wallpaper, and I mean it when I say it makes me look forward to them waking up even more.  I know I'm their mama, but seriously.  They are so stinkin' cute.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Times with Good Friends

Let’s try this post again.  I typed the whole thing out and had my laptop sitting within “toddler range,” then all of the sudden the power is turned off and no draft is saved!  Gotta hate when that happens.

Yesterday was the kind of Sunday that every weekend should include.  We went to church, relaxed a little bit, then had the Browns over for a cook out.  They are the sweetest family who so generously passes down gorgeous clothes to Caroline and Tyler… which works out perfectly since they have these cutie pies:

Handsome little Landon-

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Beautiful little Lauren-

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While these two played on the deck with Tyler and Caroline, their big sisters Alyssa and Kaley enjoyed our make-shift water adventure.  I was super impressed with how these two turned on the mega-watt smiles every time I pointed my camera in their directions… girls after my own heart.

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We had a great time just sitting around, chatting-

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Especially Caroline, who tried calling Granna the entire time.  She didn’t want her to miss out on the fun, apparently.

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When she wasn’t hitting up the speed-dial, she was generally modeling for the camera or taking pictures herself.

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“Say cheese, Lauren!”

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Meanwhile, Tyler realized that he’d much rather spend some time with the big girls and keep their water slide going (all boy, that one is).

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Later he found Landon’s bubble gun, and that was the end of the water adventure.

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And naturally, as always, without a doubt, Connor was front and center with his frog-leg stance…

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…Waiting for just one burger or hot dog to slip.

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We wrapped up our night with bowls full of banana pudding, just as any respectable southern summer night should end.  Thanks again for coming, Brown family!  See you all soon!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Butterfinger Shake

Kind of like the "Strawreo Surprise," I feel implored to share this with you. 

I'm really loving the Visalus shakes I have every day, and like I mentioned last time, the first four I tried felt like enough for my repertoire at that moment.  I have an 11-page document full of over 100 recipes, but I'm sort of a creature of habit when I find something I enjoy.  Until today... when I made the Butterfinger.  Oh my word, y'all.  It's so dang good.

So good, in fact, that I wanted to show you how easy it was to make.  Here's what you need:


I left out the "liquid" portion because you can use anything you want.  I used Almond Milk, but skim, regular, soy, coconut, water, etc... whatever floats your boat will work.

Add:
*8 oz Almond Milk
*2 scoops Vi-Shake mix
*2 Tbs fat free/sugar free butterscotch pudding mix
*1 Tbs peanut butter
*1/2 Tbs cocoa powder (obviously I used dark, but the recipe just says "cocoa")
*1-2 cups ice

Blend until thick and "milkshakey" ... YUMMMMMO. 
PS, these recipes make enough to fill my 28 oz Tervis Tumbler. 


It seriously tasted like some sinfully (fattening) delicious dessert.  I even made Nathan one when he woke up this afternoon because I felt so strongly about it, but now the kids are climbing his legs to have some.  Sorry, buddy. 

You need some in your life?  I can help you out :) ... Click Here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pawley’s Island

Living in Columbia has a few perks, but the main one is its proximity to the beach.  You've heard me talk about our many trips to Myrtle, and as quick of a jaunt that seemed, it's even quicker (and easier) to get to Pawley's Island... be still my heart.  The only complaint from my trip is the fact that Nathan stayed behind to work, but after hearing me talk about how awesome it was, the next time he gets more than five minutes off I bet you'll hear our tires squeal. 

To sum up Pawley's, it feels like you've stepped out of a Nicholas Sparks book.  Most homes dotting the beach are filled with both character and rocking chairs; their screened-in-porches often wrapping totally around the side overlooking the ocean.  After dinner, you can leisurely stroll down one of the two main streets, being careful to dodge bikers on beach cruisers or stopping to discuss the "moon tide" of the evening with the one local policeman.  (Seriously, that happened.)  You may even see an entire group having dinner on their dock above the sound, most likely feasting on low-country boil. 

If you think all this sounds lovely, so do I.  I'm not even joking that we're planning a day trip just for the heck of it.

Believe it or not, though, I actually forgot my Canon.  The few pictures I posted under "21 Months" are the four I took with my old point & shoot, but luckily I travel with people who aren't as forgetful as me.  Not only did the Williams share their awesome beachfront abode with us, but they shared their Nikon!  Thanks again for a great trip – me &  my little beach bums had so much fun!

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Monday, July 18, 2011

21 Months

Best Friends.

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For the first time in 21 months, I’m late on the birthday post.  Forgive me… we’ve been way too busy playing in the sand! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Whose with me?

Remember my water post last week when I said I had something else up my sleeve?  Well here it is. 

Over the past few months, I've watched my facebook feed grow overpopulated with one word:  ViSalus.  It almost irritated me.  I thought it was the next "fad" diet, and even made the comment to my mom that I was sick of hearing about it.  Then, as I ascended the stairs one time last week and heard that pesky knee-pop again, I realized that I really needed to get it together.  Thirty is by no means old, but it's the age where you finally wake up to the fact that you're not getting any younger.  I've told myself for a while now that I'm healthy as a horse, and most of me still agrees with that.  The problem is that I eat like total crap, but I'm lucky enough that it doesn't show in the conventional ways.  If I eat a double-cheeseburger (and boy, do I), it doesn't show up on my rear immediately... although it probably finds residence in my arteries somewhere.  That is the thing I'm most fearful of, especially with my family history of strokes, heart attacks and diabetes.  If I don't spend an hour in the gym every day, what am I going to do about lowering my risk for these things?  I can't even count on myself to take a multi-vitamin every morning (mostly because they don't pair well with a Diet Mountain Dew and a cupcake... the last time I did that it made me nauseous).

So, here is my intervention. 
It finally clicked after reading countless testimonies of how wonderful this stuff was, and how wonderful it made you feel.  There were people who not only lost inches from their frames, but those who tossed lifelong medications (like blood pressure pills) and diabetics who stopped needed insulin injections.  The gist of ViSalus is this:  it's a meal-replacement shake that has more vitamins and nutrients in one shake than you could eat in every meal of an entire day (probably a week if you're like me).  More importantly, they actually taste good because you can make them in any fashion you like.  I've decided at least two times in the past few years that I would give meal-replacement shakes a go, but then I get completely sick of them.  That's the beauty of this product... you can make a different kind of shake every time.  So far, I've had a mocha frappe , an orange dreamsicle, a tropical breeze, and a white chocolate strawberry shake, but those were so delicious that I've stopped trying new recipes so far.  I've only had the product for a week, though, so I'm sure I'll get around to trying all 100 recipes I was given eventually.

So why am I telling you about it?  Because I want you to do it with me!  ViSalus has a program called the 90 day challenge, which is what I've chosen to do.  I drink two shakes a day for 90 days, tracking my progress as I go.  I'm at a good weight right now, but I would love to lose an extra ten pounds.   After reading and researching this company for a while, there are people who've lost tons of weight in 90 days and even continue drinking the shakes because they enjoy them so much.  I can honestly tell you all that in the past week I've been drinking them, I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoy them and how much more energy I seem to have.  Even Nathan said the same thing last night after his shift.  He is clearly not in the camp of "needing to lose weight," but he eats like a trash can (like me) and realizes that he needs better nutrition in his life.  We've both talked about this a lot over the past few months, and if nothing else, drinking one or two shakes a day (mine as a meal-replacement, his as a supplement) makes us feel better.  He even enjoys the ViSalus product called "Neuro" during his long shifts, which is an energy supplement you pour into a bottle of water.  There are lots of lifestyle changes you can make with this product line, and for the first time in a long time, I feel like I'm doing something right for myself.  I do everything in the world to make sure my kids are healthy, but I don't ever seem to do the same for me.  Now is about that time. 

With all that said, I would love it for you to join me in the challenge.  I actually have my own site dedicated to this, so if you're interested, visit http://mandysims.bodybyvi.com/ and sign up.  If you find yourself over there, and have direct questions for me before you get on board, shoot me an email or just leave a comment here. 

Seriously, though, if the Queen of McDonalds & Chick fil A can do this, you can too.  :)

Casey Anthony

Clearly I'm not the only one out there obsessed by the Casey Anthony trial, since everywhere you look and turn, someone is still talking about it.  In fact, as I type, "Caylee's Law" is being discussed on The Today Show.  I didn't watch the entire trial, but I was basically glued to HLN for the last week of it (and even sucked in my mother & husband there at the end).  I put tons of facebook statuses and tweets out there regarding my thoughts, but when you're limited to 140 characters, not everything can be said.

While I think Casey is as guilty as sin of something, it's hard to blame the jurors for not finding her guilty of 1st degree murder.  Wouldn't that be a tough thing to live with, particularly if you knew that person was facing the death penalty?  As Judge Perry proved to the entire world that he did not mess around by sending that birdie-flipping-idiot to the pokey for a week, I'm sure it sent a clear message to Ms. Anthony and the jury as well.  If she was found guilty, she'd better be ready.  As I watched the trial unfold, I never considered the fact that she didn't cause the death of her child.  (If I'm honest, I still believe that.  Sorry justice system.)  The problem lies in the fact that the State could not prove an ounce of it, other than too many circumstantial pieces of evidence.  For those of us outside the twelve jurors, it's so easy to see the "logical, common sense" verdict, just as the prosecution begged us to.  To those who determined the fate of this girl, though, I'm sure it was a tough position to be in. 

As I watched Jose Baez close I knew that it was over.  You couldn't ignore the fact that it was not clear-cut case, and as much as we all loved to hate Casey, there wasn't enough proof for a murder conviction.  She was a liar, yes; she was an extremely disturbed individual, yes.  Was she a proven murderer?  Not exactly.  I sighed with frustration with the realization that she would walk out of that court room a free woman, but then I found new hope once Linda Drane Burdick stepped up to the plate.  I think we all cheered in unison as she closed with the powerful images of George sobbing on the stand, a grief-stricken Cindy, and then a carefree, nonchalant Casey with a fresh new "Bella Vida" tatoo.  Sickening.

Our emotional side clearly was reached by the prosecution, but by legal standards, there wasn't enough evidence to support a guilty verdict and we all have to accept that.  For the people who think Casey will "have to live with what she did," I firmly believe that she's such a pathological liar that she convinced herself a long time ago that she really had nothing to do with Caylee's death.  She seems to be a completely narcissistic sociopath, and I don't doubt for one second that she's concocted a "reality" where she believes that George or Cindy or someone other than her is really responsible for it all.  More than jail, the girl truthfully needs a psychiatric ward. 

At the end of it all, I just feel awful for that little girl.  When I look at Caroline & Tyler, they have nothing but trust and innocence for everyone and everything that crosses their paths.  Caylee was not much older than them when she died, and I can only imagine what went through her head as she met her fate.  If there's anything good to come out of this, hopefully it makes us all appreciate the fragile little lives we were blessed enough to care for.  They can be taken away in an instant. 

As for Casey, she may have been better off in jail.  There are so many outraged people across this country, I doubt she finds refuge anywhere.  She's now one of the most recognizable faces out there, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if someone feels like it's their mission to bring her to justice themselves.  Where I stand, Casey Anthony will have to accept what she did or didn't do, just like the rest of us, when she meets God face to face one day. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Independence Day ‘11

As always, Lake Bowen was a welcomed retreat for us this past weekend.  Nathan finished his shift at 3am Friday morning, and by noon, we were hightailing it out of Columbia loaded to the gills.  My mom and Roger throw a huge fourth of July party each year, so we were happy to get to go this year since we missed the last one. 

We did a whole bunch of nothing, really… just kicked back and enjoyed being out of our element for a few days.  On Friday night we drove in to our home town and visited Grandpa Tony’s seafood restaurant, and it’s gluttonous shameful to admit how much delicious fried food we put away during these meals.  Tyler and Caroline enjoyed themselves immensely, and between stuffing hushpuppies in their mouths, they ran laps and played peek-a-boo with Grandpa Tony. 

On Saturday, Nathan took off on a fishing expedition with his dad.  He’s a huge fan of fly fishing, so the week before we left, he reverted back to a ten year old boy and became giddy with excitement just looking at his waders or packing up the camera.  The funniest part of the whole thing was the fact he was super concerned about having enough memory on our old point-&-shoot, yet when he got back from fishing that night, he had all of TWO PICTURES.  Two.  Such a man!  Haha!

Feeling bad about not doing much on Friday or Saturday, mom and I decided to do a little photoshoot Sunday morning.  They just built two brand new decks at the house, one of them being an awesome place to sit in teak rocking chairs and overlook the lake and mountains in the distance.  (Being the avid photographer I am now, this was the first thing I thought of when we got there Friday – :).  So, before the weather could deter us, we dressed the little folks in our favorite UNC gear and headed out.  Here are a few of our favorite shots-

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(You should all know that by few, I mean not 200.)

With the Tarheel modeling out of the way, we moved on to general Sunday lounging.  Much to our surprise, Nathan and I were able to relax in the lake while the kids played in the shallow water by the beach.  It was awesome.  The ocean is just too vast for our fearless daredevils, but the lake is set up in a way where we could make a human guard against the drop-off, so they were able to walk, wade and play without anyone on anxiety medication.  If that wasn’t hard enough to believe, I also wore a bikini… which brings the count up to two things I didn’t think would happen for a long, long time.  The times, they are a changing.  :)

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(Oh, Caroline was not having any part of that flotation device.  Have I ever mentioned her stubbornness?  It’s there.)

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Connor has come a long way… he wouldn’t go near the lake until this year & now he’s swimming.  We’re so proud :)7-4-11 281

And finally, THE FOURTH!  We were super festive.

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As you can see, we really roughed it. 

Once the party started that afternoon, I packed up my camera and just enjoyed it all.  I hate that I don’t have pictures, but I can’t lie, it was pretty nice to play in the water amongst the kids and talk to everyone (rather than worrying about getting shots of everysinglethingintheworld).  Our sweet friends, The Browns, were there with their children, and it was so much fun to see both of our sets of twins meet and play for the first time.  (It’s quite eye-opening to see twins a year ahead of ours, especially when I fully realize how quickly time flies!)  All in all, we had a fabulous weekend.  As much as we’re thankful to be living here in the south for residency, it just makes us appreciate upstate SC even more when we have these weekend retreats. 

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!