Category Archives: family

low cost RV adventure


we are still RV dreamin…

while researching options for renting an RV for a driving trip this summer; I came across an interesting low cost RV rental

in order to take part in this option you need to be flexible with your travel dates and locations… so this may be more of an option for families with children not in school (preschool or homeschool) or for empty nesters.

The deal?!?!?


at Cruise America, every year they need help moving their new motorhomes from the factory floors to their rental locations.  At the time of this post the rental deal was $29 per day including 150 free miles.  between the base-rate and the mileage of renting an RV this could be a savings of around $1700 for a 7 day rental!!!!


Elfwardo and Randall


Here is a peek at our adventure with Elf on the shelf…

first off… I need to explain our reindeer.

my two older girls are really too old for the whole elf on a shelf thing but we like some quirky fun at our house… but I really didn’t want to spend the $30 adoption fee to have an elf join us… so my oldest and I set out on a mission to find a cheap knock off version…

enter, Randall… for the low price of $5.99 we were SOLD

the story of Randall is similar to the elf, Santa lost the naughty and nice list and Randall is on a mission to rewrite it.  His story book name is just Randall… but we like to call him Randall on the Mantel (our knock off Elf on a shelf).

now lucky for my kids their Grammy loves them enough to adopt a $30 Elf… so we have both 🙂

next I would add that the key to the creative Randall/ Elf adventures is all in the planning.  I looked all over the internet and Pinterest to find my inspiration.   we started December 1st so I have a list of 25 different ideas, each night a quick look at the list and I have their nightly activity.

A girl?!?! On the football team?!?!


I have shared here before that we are a sports family. A family of five which includes THREE very athletic GIRLS.

Emilyn – 9year old

Eliza – 13years old

Etienne – 4years old

When it comes to sports my three are the perfect storm of natural ability, competitive spirit and intelligence.
They have each play multiple sports (basketball, softball, volleyball, football, beach volleyball and soccer) and would try anything if we could find the time of day to do it.

And we, their parents, try all that we can to remove obstacles that might otherwise hold them back.

I don’t really know where their drive for sport comes from.

I personally was willing to quit everything I started (girl scouts, dance, gymnastics, softball, etc.) and I never had the courage or commitment to push limits and norms.

This, my willingness to quit and my inclination toward being average, is what I see as my one personal regret.  A regret that I will not allow my children to repeat.

I settled for just being average, I didn’t strive to be something great. I allowed my childhood dreams to fade out of fear for the hard work they would require.
So for my girls I encourage goals, and have told them they have the potential to be and do something great… So they should never settle for good enough or just getting by.

my oldest daughters story of being a girl on a football team is her real life lesson about setting goals, pushing limits and never settling for just being good enough.

There has been a lot of  media attention around the 9 year old girl on the football team, and I understand that my daughter was not the first and she and the 9 year old on the news will not be the last… but I do believe that no matter how common their story becomes they are still likely just 1 girl on a team of 40-60 boys and no matter how often we hear their story know that they have worked hard, dealt with adversity (even if small) and they just want to be recognized for their athletic ability… not the length of their ponytail

this is my daughters football story.

My oldest Eliza, is in 8th grade. For the last two years she played on her middle school football team. Both years she was a kicker.

E Kicking off

She has amazing strength with her left leg/foot, which also serves her well on the soccer field.
This season, her second year on the team, she saw a lot more playing time… As part of most every kick-off, an extra point or two & even made a touchdown saving tackle.

During football season (about 2.5 months) she also played travel soccer on a club soccer team.

So her daily schedule is this:

7:00am wake up

7:35am on the bus to school

3:15pm school day ends… change for football practice

5:00pm leave football… change for soccer practice

5:30pm soccer practice

7:00pm home to study and eat dinner

10:30pm bed

This was her schedule Monday – Wednesday, Thursday was football game day, Friday her evening off, weekends included at least one soccer game…

as a side note Eliza has also maintained a straight A average since 3rd grade in advanced classes

For families that don’t do what we do, I know that this seems insane.  But I promise you that we as a family also have a lot of fun, act crazy, do things that make us who we are… and my children have social lives

Overall Eliza’s football experience was positive but not without struggles.

In her first year the coach played her on the field ONE time all season, in spite of the cheers from the crowd to put in the kicker.

At her first football event, a camp at our local high school, a dad (a man who knows her soccer skill) said…

“why are YOU here, are they having cheer-leading practice or something”.

On day two another dad (again who knows her athletic ability) said,

“oh you made it back”.

As the season went on, the coaches asked her why she was playing. She said her mom told her there are a lot of soccer players who kick; their reply

“well, what does your DAD think”

In general because of her athletic ability Eliza is used to coaches who want her around, who want the opportunity to be part of working with her. Football was different.  My husband spent every afternoon he could coaching her, but was not an official member of the coaching staff so had no communication with the head coach about her abilities or strategies.
By this season, I think that the coaches came to realize she was not there for political motives or to rock any boats… They knew that she was an athlete who just wanted to play. But being the only girl on the team there is always a feeling of not fully being part of the team. She was asked to sit at the front of the bus (I think the coach wanted to protect her), most communication happened in the locker room, where she obviously was not.  On equipment cleaning days she spent a lot of her time standing outside the boys locker room waiting for someone to bring her uniform from inside the locker room.

The team also went on a trip to a local college game… I did not let Eliza attend.  the trip was sponsored by a local Men’s group.  The “price” of attending included attending a motivational talk for Young Men.  Not fully knowing who the men’s group was, or how they would feel about the girl attending their talk for young men, or feeling like her being in the room would affect the candor at the lecture.  I did not allow Eliza to go… this was not a popular decision at home 🙂

I know it was her choice to play and she could have tried something easier (her school has a softball team that competes in the same season as football).  And there are people in our community that think a girl has no business on the football team.   But as you recall, I have taught my girls to set goals and not to settle for average.
I am proud of my daughter and all the girl football players out there. Football is a hard sport, the training is intense and then add in the additional challenges of being a girl.

It takes courage, dedication, drive and a whole lot of hardwork to be any kind of  athlete

landslide or too close to call


Either way we are ready to be a part of Election Night 2012!!!

this year our oldest is much more interested in politics.  They have had discussions at school and she is genuinely interested in understanding why each side thinks what they think.

I personally turned 18 and thus became eligible to vote in a presidential election year… and I have been an active voter ever since.

so tonight to add some family fun to Election Results I have planned a themed dinner and have put together some tools for the girls to participate and understand our presidential election process.

our dinner:

Right Wings & Left Wings (aka wings in 2 flavors)

Roasted Red Potatoes

Big Blue Soda (some weird generic soda I found at the grocery store)

Apple Hand Pies

our election tools:

Ballots for each girl so they can vote (one with pictures for my non reader)

a blank US map that we can color red/blue as states are called

a list of the electoral college votes for each state so we can keep tally

Halloween Fun with Food


theme meals and fun foods is one of the ways that I am trying to add a little something to our 3 million minutes.
some day I hope that I can come up with some of these creative ideas on my own but for now Pinterest is a great resource.

here are the two things that i made for Halloween to add a little fun to our time together as a family.

“Bloody” Bandaids

these are graham crackers with a strip of white frosting topped with a dollop of red gel frosting

next a common pinterest find

Candy Corn Fruit Cup

again super easy

clear plastic cups

layered with Pineapple tidbits, mandarin oranges

topped with whipped cream

12 Olympic Meals – Japan


OK so I wanted to try to make our 12 Olympic meals at home (instead of doing take out), but clearly trying to learn to make sushi within the time frame of the Olympics was a bit ambitious.  Especially since I have spent so much time everyday watching the Olympics.

so we found Sushi at a local grocery store.  I got ours at Harris Teeter, but I would imagine that most higher end grocery stores would carry some sushi.

we just bought 3 different kinds and I knew that my two younger daughters were not going to be that adventurous so i also made ham & cheese “sushi”

the ham & cheese is back there by the fake grass.  tortilla, cheese, ham & turkey rolled like a burrito but then cut into pinwheels.

we also have pot-stickers from the frozen food aisle.

If you wanted to be more authentic you could also serve your sushi on more geometric shaped plates (like square or rectangle).  I personally don’t have any of those in my vast china cabinet 🙂

we also had Raman Noodles

and for dessert


these are very interesting.  They are actually pounded sticky rice “cake” balls filled with ice cream (which could be made from Rice Milk).  We found the Mochi at a local Trader Joe’s grocery store.

12 Olympic meals – France


For our France meal I considered serving the meal that the mom served to the foreign exchange student in the 1985 movie Better Off Dead

“Two dollars, I want my two dollars”

Better Off Dead... Poster

“In honor of our special guest, I’ve created dinner mon dieu — including Frahnch fries … Frahnch dressing … and Frahnch bread.”

but instead we had: Quiche and French Baguette

Quiche is really easy to make.  It is one of those meals that I can actually make without looking at a recipe.


  • refrigerated or frozen pie crust (deep dish)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream (or even milk)
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 1 cup frozen spinach

follow the instructions on the pie crust that you are using.  for frozen you may need to poke the crust all around with a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes empty.

cook the bacon, drain and break into pieces.  also cook the spinach and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.  place the bacon, spinach and Swiss cheese in layers in the pie crust.  while the bacon and spinach cool.  whisk together the 6 eggs and heavy cream.  pour the egg mix over the top of the bacon, cheese and spinach.  place the pie on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or when the eggs have set all the way through the pie.

my girls love Quiche and with the basic beginning of pie crust, eggs and heavy cream (or even milk) you can add in other combinations of meats, cheeses and veggies



An Olympic party


We had a big night planned for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

We planned to watch the ceremonies while eating Fish & Chips (a popular meal in London) and holding our paper Olympic torches.

but then… a big storm blew through our town

The storm knocked down this tree and knocked out our power 😦

so our Olympic party started the day after the opening ceremonies 🙂

we ate Fish & Chips

There really couldn’t be and easier meal.

I used frozen Beer Batter Fish and Frozen Steak Fries.  I baked both.

We made our paper torches

These were so easy to make.

we used:

  • construction paper; black, orange & red
  • tape
  • scissors

you just rolled the black paper into a cone, and taped it shut and cut out the flames with the orange and red paper and use tape again to put the flames into the cone.

so even though we got off to a rough start we are still planning on have tons of fun watching the Olympics.

next up, we are planning 12 different menus each one representing a different country.

we chose 12 because it is 2012 😉

  1. England
  2. France
  3. Mexico
  4. Spain
  5. Greece
  6. Poland
  7. Thailand
  8. Denmark
  9. Germany
  10. Samoa
  11. Italy
  12. USA

of course all of these dishes will be simple, budget friendly and in no way “authentic”… they are just meant to be a fun and creative way to celebrate the Olympics.

Make Cloud Sand – Summer Bucket List


This was such an easy activity. It only required 2 ingredients, and those are ones you most likely have in your house already.

I would say that this activity would be most enjoyed by a the preschool age group but my older two played for about 45 minutes to an hour.

all you need is

flour and baby oil

we used 8 cups of flour and 1 cup of baby oil

then mix together with your hands

once it is mixed together the “cloud sand” can be formed into shapes

my girls had fun with this craft and it would make for  a nice rainy day activity