Friday, May 29, 2009

Father's Day

Only a month or so ago, I wrote about Mother's Day. If you missed that post, then you can view it here. But don't feel like you have to click right over and read it. It's not very uplifting.

For those of you who have already read it, I want you to realize that I'm not an across-the-board holiday-hater. In fact...I love most holidays. I'm very discriminatory about the ones that I can do without.

I can usually find some way to have fun for even the random, obscure holidays. Like Casimir Pulaski Day.

Anyway - another holiday is approaching that celebrates the noble calling of parenthood, and that holiday is Father's Day. Father's Day doesn't cause as much angst and chaos in my house as Mother's Day does. For one thing, my hubby doesn't have insecurity issues. And for another...not as many people go out to eat on Father's Day as they do on Mother's Day. I'm not really sure why that is...is it because we take Moms out because they traditionally cook all the time, and a dinner gives them a break? Don't Dad's like to go out too?

I don't know the answer, but I guess on Mother's Day people go out, and on Father's Day people grill big juicy steaks. Go figure.

I could write about how great MY dad is (but that might make some of you wonder why I didn't write how great my Mom is...just so you know, they're both THE BOMB). Or I could write about my wonderful father-in-law (who we lost in 1994 after a decade-long battle with brain cancer, at the much-too-young age of 53). But I'm going to write about another guy...my husband.

I am ridiculously crazy in love with my husband. He is my very best friend, and my most trusted confidant. We'll have been married a dozen years (yikes!! Time flies in the jungle!!), and I am more addicted to him now than I ever have been.

Did I mention that he is HOT?!?!


I guess you probably knew that. How else do you get five kids?

He is THE BEST daddy...every spare minute he has is spent with our kids. This Saturday he has a very rare day off, and he has divided the day into blocks so he spend one-on-one time with each one of our five children doing something that THEY like. And he's super excited about it.

Jason is a very hard worker, and takes the responsibilities of providing for his family seriously. He is often working 70-85 hours a week. He gets up every morning at 4:45 am and takes our oldest daughter to early morning Seminary, and then he drives her to school in the next city over. Sometimes after that, he goes straight to work, arriving around 7:30 am. Sometimes, if he has a later day, he drops her off and heads to the gym. Jason is addicted to the gym. It's his stress relief. Then he'll go to work after that. He arrives at work around 10am on those days. He gets home around 11pm on most nights, sometimes as late as 1 or 2am on weekends. He can only take Mondays or Tuesdays off...but often there are meetings on those days, so he has to go in anyway. Or a holiday, such as Memorial Day or Labor Day, are on Mondays, and he has to be there. So he doesn't get a lot of time at home...but he makes sure that the time he has COUNTS.

Sometimes he'll be sitting on the floor in the girls room with My Little Ponys spread all over his lap and Nicolette is sitting next to him and brushing pony hair and talking in her little non-stop chattery-way, and I'll peek my head in the room to see whats going on...and he's fallen asleep, sitting up with a Pony brush in his hand, and Nicolette hasn't noticed, she's just talking about this and that. I feel so bad...I know he is SO tired, but he wants so badly to be with his kids, that he'd rather be brushing plastic pony hair with a chatterbox 4-year-old than taking a well-deserved nap.

So, most of you know that my husband runs a restaurant. He is the General Manager of The Grand Lux Cafe in the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise, Florida. This is his store.


It's huge. It seats 420, and he has 120 employees. They serve a global cuisine and their menu boasts over a 150 items. They are famous for their baked-to-order desserts...desserts that are ordered at the beginning of your visit, and then baked while you enjoy your appetizers and entrees, and delivered fresh and piping hot to your table when you've finished. Desserts like Chocolate Molten Cake, and a Rustic Apple Tart, or Warm Homemade Chocolate-Pecan Cookies. Or my personal favorite...the Roasted Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (and you know it must be AWESOME if I'm actually turning down the Chocolate Molten Cake for it). My kids LOVE the Beignets...especially with the Jack Daniels Cream Sauce.
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That's just the baked-to-order stuff...there's Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake, and a brand new Red Velvet Cake, Creme Brulee, Cupcakes, Carmel Bread Pudding...oh, and did I mention that they are the little sister of The Cheesecake Factory? Yup - same company, different concept. So guess what? They've got cheesecake, too.

Oh - I'm sorry - I went straight to dessert before dinner!! Well - I told you it was global, and there is Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Caribbean-influenced dishes, among others. My friend Tina LOVES the Sesame Tofu, and I love the Shaking Beef and Crispy Carmel Chicken. My friend Melodee loves the pasta dishes and items like the Chicken Royale. My parents love the "comfort foods"...the HUGE Chicken Pot Pie, Braised Yankee Pot Roast, and Grilled Pork Chop. But there are so many things on the menu, that you can something different EVERY TIME you go, and it will all be good.

Maybe now would be a good time to direct you to their web-site...so you can see for yourself? Oh - alright...here you go...

So here's the deal...I promised another giveaway, and this is it...in honor of Father's Day and my hard-working man, I am giving away a $50 Gift Card to the Grand Lux Cafe. They have locations in South Florida, Dallas, Houston, New York (Roosevelt Field), New Jersey (Paramus), Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas (in the Venetian AND in the Palazzo), and in Beverly Hills.

The gift card will pretty much take care of a dinner for two (unless you go crazy at the bar with all their amazing drinks, which has been known to happen...)

In order to enter...here's what you gotta do...

Leave a comment about what makes the father figure in your life...dads, husbands, sons who are dads...WHATEVER...the BEST DAD EVER!! Don't forget to leave your e-mail address so I can get a hold of you if you win!! That's it!!

One entry per person UNLESS you do one of these - and I will give EXTRA ENTRIES for these reasons (a separate comment MUST be posted for each additional entry):

1. Become a follower, or remind me that you already are one.
2. Blog about this giveaway on your blog (leave a link so I can check up on you!!)

Giveaway ends at 8pm Eastern Time on June 14 (that gives me enough time to mail you your gift card in case you're wanting to give it away for Father's Day...ya, right!!). The Winner will be chosen by Random. org and announced that night. I will notify the Winner by e-mail and they will have 48 hours to respond before a default winner is chosen.

Good Luck!!!

- Shannan

Monday, May 25, 2009

All Gave Some, Some Gave All...







HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Here It Comes...

I just posted a new entry under my Summer School Safari site. It was about the schedule my kids and I keep over the summer. We're going to be pretty busy...even though I'm cutting the amount of Summer School we do in half. I thought I would share it with you, and hopefully get you inspired to start planning your own super fun summer adventures with your kids!!

"I cannot believe how FAST summer is approaching!! I am SO excited...and a little nervous that summer is just gonna' FLY BY. We have SO MANY plans...and I've been working really hard with with our summer school lessons for this year. My first couple have passed the reviews by Yaya, the retired teacher grandmother-goddess, and my good friend Melodee, the young and glamorous local teacher. I'll be posting them in just a couple weeks, and hope you enjoy them.

But before all that, I thought I would post our summer schedule.

Now - this schedule is not die-hard, but we do stick to it pretty religiously. However, I never get upset if plans change or things don't work out...we just roll with the waves round here.

We do summer school Monday through Friday. Last year we had a theme every week...this year we're only doing 4 weeks of summer school, and we'll be alternating weeks. The other things we do in the "schedule" will happen all the time...whether it is a summer school week or not. Although I plan plenty of activities to keep them busy in school alone - we don't necessarily do EVERY activity. There are days that some things get skipped or replaced (or forgotten)...and that's okay.

In addition to summer school, these are the other activities that keep us busy...

...on Tuesdays we take advantage of the free movies that our local Regal Theater shows during the summer. The movies are shown Tuesday through Thursday, and there is a G-rated and PG-rated choice every week. Sometimes, if there are TWO movies we want to see, we'll go two days and see a different movie each day...but we usually keep it to one a week. The movies are past releases, and I can guarantee that my kids have seen them all AT LEAST once (several are in our massive DVD collection)...but there is just SOMETHING about seeing movies in a theater that is fun. I pack candy and snacks in my purse, buy a large soda (free refills), and we head to the theater.

Regal theaters host free movies all over the country during the hot summer months, and its a great way to give your air-conditioning a break and still keep cool. Check out the website for participating theaters and listings in your area.

Here in South Florida (specifically in Pembroke Pines) our movies are:

June 9-11: Horton Hears a Who & Nim's Island
June 16-18: Curious George & Spiderwick Chronicles
June 23-25: Mr. Magorium & Water Horse
June 30-July 2: Mr. Bean & Madagascar 2
July 7-9: Artic Tale & Igor
July 14-16: Everybody's Hero & Kung Fu Panda
July 21-23: Charlotte's Web & Shrek the Third
July 28 - July 30: Tale of Desperaux & Bee Movie
August 4-6: Space Chimps & Alvin and the Chipmunks


On Wednesdays - we usually hit the library. Every year we take part in the Library Reading Program. My kids LOVE earning prizes, and I love getting them to read!! There are several library programs throughout the summer that we also take part in...such as story times, chess club, and drama activities. Sometimes these alternate activities take the place of scheduled summer school lessons.

On Thursdays we have a playgroup. During the school year it consists of just those littlest brothers and sisters that aren't quite old enough to join the ranks of elementary-school-big-kids. But during the summer, the WHOLE family can come to playgroup. And just in time, too...because we switch locations from our local park to our local pool. The kids get a couple hours each Thursday morning to splash and play before heading off for other activities.

Of course, Friday is our field trip day - and we usually take off for some destination or another that correlates with our weekly summer school theme. But more on that later.

As you can see...we have a very busy summer planned...and I can't WAIT for it to start!!
We'll see ya'all in a few days for our first summer school weekly theme...THE RAINFOREST!!!"


Be sure to check the Summer School Safari site for summer school lessons starting June 15!! Hope to see you there!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Kaitlyns 15th Birthday!!


You know...I've been whining and crying about my camera for several blogs, now. It just makes me SO SAD to not have it in my hand. Especially at important milestones...

Like my first baby's 15th birthday. That's right. I said FIFTEEN!!

And if you're wondering if I'm old enough to have a 15-year-old daughter, the answer is no...I'm not. But I do...and I couldn't be happier.

But I had to go through this big event sans camera...and now for some reason my stupid scanner won't communicate with my computer, and I can't get all the pictures loaded!!

It's all very frustrating.

So I'm going to talk about what we did, and put up what I have...and just run with it. And if you're sick of hearing me whine about my camera...too bad. I'm not through mourning yet...these things take time.

On the Saturday before Kaitlyn's birthday, we planned a snorkeling trip in Key Largo at John Pennenkamp State Park. Just me, Kate, and Kate's best bud Brianna. Brianna spent the night, and early the next morning we packed some lunches and took the hour or so drive to Key Largo (bet you didn't know we were that close, huh? Yep - I really do live in paradise...)





But when we got there, we found out our snorkeling trip had been cancelled due to high winds and low visibility. Not ones to cry over spilt milk, we enjoyed the beautiful Key Largo beaches instead...swimming in the lagoon and exploring the mangrove trails...where the girls decided to play "Supermodel" and take some jungle swimwear shots.






After a lunch on the beach, we headed down to Islamorada (pronounced eye-la-mor-ada) with the intent to visit the Theater of the Seas and swim with the manta rays. But once we got there, the girls changed their minds and really just wanted to get back into the beautiful sea green/ turquoise water...so we drove a little further down the causeway and found a deserted little cove and jumped back in the water. We dubbed it "Rum-Soaked Cove"...a tribute to the pirates that used Islamorada as a hideout, and spent another hour or so soaking up sun in the warm Caribbean Sea.






As we headed home, we stopped at a couple little boutique stores. The girls had a BALL browsing among the antiques in the Pink Boutique in Key Largo and at Shell World. Brianna and Kate spent at least an hour taking crazy pictures of themselves in the shops. I can't wait until Brianna forwards me those pics!! Kate picked up a couple trinkets as mementos, and we headed home.

Kaitlyns birthday fell on a Sunday, so she had to put up with being sung to at church. Monday was Dads day off, so we let Kaitlyn pick a restaurant and we took everyone out to dinner. She chose Ra, a trendy sushi place that opened about a year ago in our new upscale Pembroke Gardens Shopping District. We let Kaitlyn pick several appetizers and sushi platters for us to share, and opened presents in between courses.



She got a custom t-shirt that referred to an inside joke between the two of us (remind her to tell you about it),


and a collection of Calvin and Hobbes Commemorative Books,


and the crown jewel...a new cell phone!! With a full keyboard!! So she can text her life away!!! Hurray!!! (not)

After dinner, we headed over to Kilwins for dessert, and then came home - where she spent hours programing her new phone.

Ahhh...the lucky life of a teenager!!

Now we have to get her a restricted license before she leaves to spend her summer in California...

Now THAT'S scary...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Camporee 2009 - Girl Scouts Making A Difference


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Wow!! That's just about all I can say. Wow!!
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What a weekend!!
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At the beginning of the month, my Girl Scouts and I headed north to Clewiston, Florida to enjoy a weekend of adventure and fun at the famous Camp Nocatee. The theme was: "Girl Scouts Making a Difference - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". It was a great theme to have up in the beautiful wilderness of Nocatee. The girls really got to see raw nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and appreciate the beauty of the planet.
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We got up there in the early evening on Friday and were assigned to Camp 5.
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It was very appropriately named "Sleepy Hollow". Doesn't it look peaceful?
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The girls had their own cabins, and had to learn to sleep in the black, black forest night BY THEMSELVES (leaders stayed in another cabin on the same site). They had to learn to use showers divided by wooden partitions, and how to navigate their way around the ENORMOUS campground. They LOVED camp food (everything tastes better in the wild...especially after a 10-mile hike!!), and quickly learned the value of water.
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We played kickball and went swimming.
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Next year, my Brownies will be able to go canoeing on this lake. They can't wait!!
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We earned patches and badges, hiked 10 miles (did I already say that?), and visited the nature center. We exercised on the outdoor fitness circuit,
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and even found a couple hours to lay back and relax. (I took this picture from a camp chair while waiting for the girls to take their showers).
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We saw LOTS of deer, armadillos, raccoons, and a HUGE GORGEOUS owl that graced our campsite with his presence for almost 30 minutes on the first night. We also heard wild boar, and poor Miss Karen (my faithful co-leader) had a run-in with a little snake. It was AWESOME.
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The girls learned songs and chants, played games, preformed a skit, and had a dance party. I don't think they fell asleep until 1 in the morning each night and had to be up by 7 am each morning. By time they got home, they were dirty, tired, but HAPPY.
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I can't wait to go next year. Neither can they.
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The only bummer was the death of my faithful camera. Already subjected to daily abuse, this sturdy little point-and-shoot cutie was no match for my bag being set in a puddle of water, where it soaked for over an hour. *Sigh* I was luckily able to save the memory card and load these onto my scanner, but they're not as good as "straight outta the camera" prints.
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Let this be a lesson...NEVER leave your camera off your person. And get a waterproof bag for next year!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

This video was sent to me by a dear friend, and it has truly changed my whole perspective on Mothers Day. I just really felt I had to share it with everyone. And I have to admit, I just can't decide which of the young men in the video my boys will grow up to be more like...they're just perfect angels...


video

Happy Mothers Day!!

Love, Shannan

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Congratulations Winners!!

I have my two lucky winners of Godiva chocolate!!

The first winner is #16:

minishoes1 said...
My favorite part of mothers day is spending time with my mom she will be 88 this May 5. I feel so blessed to still have her around! She is the best mom! Anyways, we usually buy her flowers or pick some from my yard.(lilies)and maybe lunch some where. My sister will be down from california-so all 6 kids will be here and some of her grandkids. I used to hate mothers day because I couldn't have my own kids. I excepted the fact a long time ago that wouldn't ever have any, but I have 2 adorable, spoiled dogs and lots of nieces and nephews. Thanks for the giveaway!



And my second winner is #31:

Dave said...
Hey you! I do not need a gift for leaving a comment on your awesome blog. Your blog is always fun to read and that is good enough for me. I am sad because you guys moved from Allen, TX before I had a chance to try your hubbys restaurant. I loved reading your Mother's Day blog! What will change your outlook on Mother's Day is that this year my wife and I will not be skipping church on Mother's Day and Father's Day. We started this little trend in 1998 when my Dad passed away. When you have been married for 12 years people treat you differently because you do not have kids. I have since learned that they also treat you different when you adopt kids but enough of that for now. This year we will get to be celebrated as parents! I am looking forward to honoring my wife as a Mother! Adopting 2 older kids is not easy but we sure are having fun!

I have contacted both my winners, and if I do not hear back from them in 48 hours, we will re-draw numbers and there will be a default winner.


Congratulations to both winners!! And keep a look out for more giveaways...I got an inside peek at the next won (ha,ha)...and its going to be LUX-urious (and yeah...that's a hint).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame...


I feel so very popular!!! There is a web-site I follow, called Nicole's Nickels. Nicole is AWESOME at compiling really honest-to-goodness money-makers and savers from the Internet. Stuff like giveaways that are FOR REAL, surveys that actually PAY YOU, as well as coupons and offers from stores!! She always has a lot of fun stuff!!

On Friday, she posts the top 10 Giveaways of the Week...and guess who she mentioned? ME!!! Check it out!!

I was gone all weekend at Girl Scout Camporee (more on that later), and came home to lots more entries...which I realize that many of you might not appreciate, 'cause it makes the prizes harder to win...but I'm excited!!! My kids will be more excited for me once I get over my enthusiasm and hop in the shower...apparently I am difficult to recognize under a weekends worth of dirt, sweat, dust, and grime. Who knew?

Anyway - just so you know...the contest ends on May 5...so if you haven't entered yet...now is your chance!! $25 of FREE GODIVA CHOCOLATE could be in your hands soon!!