Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Day of School 2010

Today was the first day back to school for my kids! We were all more than ready to head back. The last two week especially were starting to drain us all. The boys were bickering constantly and Cassie was throwing in her little jabs to see the kind of reaction she could get and I was balled up in a corner trying to find my 'Happy Place'. So yup! Time for these delinquent children to head back to school!

It's a big year for our family actually. Today, Cassie has her first day of 9th grade in High School. It absolutely blows my mind that I have a child old enough to be in HS, much less that it's Cassie who's in 9th grade.
For all of my friends and family with little ones, let me just tell you how FAST time really does go by! I swear it was just a couple of years ago, that I would be getting her up for elementary school, braid her hair and buy her Pokemon toys.
Now she gets up on her own, flat irons her own hair and is into boys and music. I'm telling you, sometimes I wish I would of known then what I know now about how fast time flies.

Here's my 'little' girl, on her first day of High School...

After I saw Cassie off to school, it was time to get the boys ready for their first day. Jason is headed over to Bitz, which is still an elementary but it's for grades 3rd-5th. Another big change for us! He also has a male teacher this year. First time for that with us ever! Jason is pretty excited about it, so we'll see how it goes.

Jack still has Mrs. Eve but now he's in 1st grade. Here, in case you didn't know, some of the elementary classes are grouped. For instance Jack's class is a multi-age level class. It has k-2nd graders in it. Last year was the first time I've ever experienced that and I actually like it. I think the little ones gain so much from watching the older kids and having the older kids set an example. I know it's going to be a good year for my little guy!

The boys before heading to school....

Jason posing in front of his new school - Bitz!

Jack with the rest of his class waiting to go in...

What an exciting morning it was! But what's a lonely mom to do now?

Grab a girlfriend and head out for the day!!

My friend Jill and I headed to Barnes & Noble and had a celebratory brunch and checked out all the new books. It was a nice, relaxing kid-free afternoon! And as much as I love my kids, I'm happy to have my 'me' time back!!!

So here's to a new school year! The start of homework, baggie books, math problems (that I hate), bake sales, school dances and youth sports!

Hold on tight! It's gonna be a CRAZY ride!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Girls Night Out!

As summer was starting to wind down and all of us girls were preparing for the kids to head back to school, I thought it'd be a fantastic idea to get us all together and head out for a 'Girls Night Out'. One last 'hurrah' before we all got into the hustle and bustle of a new school year and the return of the 'busy'.

I chose for us to go eat at this new Mediterranean restaurant called Marrakesh.  If you know me, you know how much I love ethnic food. Jacksonville was more than ready for something other than Chili's and Red Robin. So I made arrangments with the owner to let him know that there would be about 15-18 of us showing up and to make ready! The girls were storming the joint!

Of course on that day, about an hour before we left it started DOWN POURING!! I picked up Jill and we made it there just as the rain started coming down in sheets. We were met there by our friends Jayme and Kristie and pretty soon, everyone else started trickling in. We filled up the tables and it took us all about an hour to actually look through the menu's and decide what we wanted.

I started out with a mint iced tea to drink and OH EMM GEE it was DELISH!!! I decided that everyone needed to order a bit of everything so between all of us, we pretty much ordered one of everything - appetizers and entree's.
Kristy and I...

Mylene, Tracy and Kim

Kristie, Jayme and...and...sorry Jayme!! I totally forgot your friend's name! I SUCK!!!!

Another new friend who I CAN'T remember their name and of course, Kristy. (I'm sure you'll be more than happy to remind me, right Kristy???)

Beef Shawarma (my dish). I've only ever had Chicken Shawarma, so this was something new to me!

Stuffed Grape Leaves - Rice, Ground Beef, diced Tomatoes, chopped Parsley and onions mixed with Olive Oil and Lemon Juice, spices and cooked with fresh lemons and lemon juice and then rolled into a Grape Leaf.


Feta Cheese - Served with Olives, Parsley, Olive Oil and Pita Bread.

I believe this is "Fattoush Salad' (if I'm wrong ladies, please correct me!). Diced tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, chopped parsley, onions and mixed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Falafal...."Fried patties of Chick Peas mixed with spices and vegtables'. YUM!!!

Another version of Beef Shawarma...

My kooky friend Kristy had ordered the Lamb Chops. Which by the way is what I'm getting the next time I'm in. SOOOOO GOOD!!! But little did she know that on the side of her chops, was a little paste of red evilness. She dipped a chop in that evil sauce and immediately wished her mouth was some place cooler. Like...Antarctica!

She quickly gets a drink of something to stop the insane burning inside her mouth...

But ALAS!!! That doesn't work. Instead she stuffs her face with a pita chip hoping that the bread will soak up the toxic burn which has now embedded itself inside her mouth.  All the while pointing to the sauce and telling everyone, "IT"S HOT!!!!"

I look over to Kristy and tell her to suck it up and stop being a baby. In fact, I think she's over reacting and tell her . (Clearly the sweat that is gleaming off her body doesn't convince me she's telling the truth!)

"Are you kidding me?! Do you KNOW what this is going to do to my intestines? "

She then rearranges her plate, making sure NOTHING touches the EVIL RED SAUCE.

We are all stuffed to the gills and I declare that I cannot eat another bit!

But being the nut cases we all are, when asked what we're celebrating everyone yells, "Stacy and Karen's birthday!" When in fact we weren't but it was fun getting to blow out this pretty tea light.

I should also note, that during dinner we couldn't stop staring at the GORGEOUS chef (who also happens to be the owner, I do believe) in the kitchen preparing our meal. There were many times, a few of us would dissolve into fits of school girl giggles when anyone would mention what we'd like to do to one of them. So of course, being the obnoxious group we are, we ended up closing up the restaurant and harrassed the staff to get a picture with us. Notice Karen and I snuggled up to the head chef there.... I really wanted to pinch his butt but then I also wanted to come back to eat here again so I thought better of it!

It was an awesome GNO! We mentioned trying to do one at least every month. Let's hope someone can pull something together for September! I can't wait to see the damage we can do somewhere else.

You can read my review here----> Stacy's Thoughts on the joint.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cassie goes to Hawaii!

Most of you know that I was married before and from that marriage, I have my beautiful girl Cassie. Her father is also in the Navy and is currently stationed out in Hawaii (horrible, right? lol). He's been there a couple of years now and about two years ago, he had mentioned that he'd like Cassie to come out and visit. This was when she was 12. At that time, I just wasn't comfortable having her fly all the way out there by herself. It was basically the first time I ever said no to a visit from her.

This year, I was headed home to Michigan for the summer and since we're both from the same area I had emailed him letting him know my plans and just making sure he was aware that we were going to be around both of our families if he'd like to visit. I get an email back stating that he wouldn't be able to make the trip to MI, but would I be open to discussing the possibility of her flying out to HI again? I told him that I'd think about it and would get back to him.

I talked to my hubby, my parents, my friends and pretty much everyone (except my Mom, lol) said that they thought it'd be a GREAT trip for her. So I said 'yes'. But I had a lot of stipulations. Some of them silly, but being the over protective Momma, I felt entitled to them. One of them was that she was to have NO connecting flights through Atlanta. This was turning out to be quite a problem. At the time, we had her flying out of Jacksonville, NC or Wilmington and pretty much every flight from here would take her through Atlanta. After a few days of back and forth, I realized that I could have her fly out of Raleigh and I couldn't totally take advantage of the fact that my BFFF Erin now lives about an hour from the airport. The perfect excuse to go for a visit! (Not that we need one, per se...) That opened up a whole other world of possibilities for travel. She ended up flying out of Raleigh, making a connecting flight in Chicago and then it was a straight shoot into Hawaii.

The second stipulation I had was that she was to have an escort with her. Never having a child fly by themselves, this was a completely new and scary thing for me. I wanted her accountable for every moment of her flights. Her Dad arranged to have an escort from the time we checked her in to the airport, to the time she arrived in Hawaii and was handed over to her Dad. This was actually a very cool thing.

When I checked her into the airport in Raleigh, Cassie was given a type of lanyard that contained her boarding passes and stated that she was an 'unaccompanied minor'. I was also given a pass that enabled me to go through security and take her down to her gate. I got to stay with her until after she was personally boarded and then I stayed and watch her plane taxi down the runway. It was a VERY emotional goodbye for the both of us. She was crying. I was crying. The flight attendants were near tears and doing their best to assure us both that she would be well taken care of.

What we didn't know was that as an 'unaccompanied minor' Cassie didn't need to pay for anything while in flight. Now a days, you have to pay for EVERYTHING on board. From snacks to pillows and apparently this all had to be on a card as well. No cash was allowed. I sent Cassie with one of those Visa Check Cards so she would have money while in transit. But lucky her, she ended up not needing to use it in fight and I told her to use it for whatever she wanted while in Hawaii.

After she arrived in Chicago, there was an escort waiting to take her to the unaccompanied minor 'room'. Apparently this is where all the kids who fly go to wait for their connecting flight. She chilled out there for a bit, got something to eat and then was escorted via golf cart to her next flight. When she arrived in Hawaii, her Dad was at her gate (he was able to get the pass and go through security as well) waiting for her.

Her and I talked as much as possible (texted mostly, this IS my teenage daughter we're talking about). She had a great time. They did a lot of exploring. A lot of shopping and a lot of going out to eat. The tooled around the island, visiting Pearl Harbor, climbed a volcano and chilled out at the beach.

Lucky girl!!!

Here's some shots of her visit....

Although I'm glad she had this experience and was able to go visit her Dad, I was more than ready to have my girl home! The moment we saw each other again, we hugged and cried some more. It's amazing how much you miss someone even when they're gone for only a small while. If this is how it's going to be like when she gets older and moves out, I can only hope time passes by very slowly. I'm not ready for her to grow up so quickly.