Monday, April 30, 2012

Busy Week Ahead!

We've got an incredibly busy week this week... I'm scheduled to work Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday... and MY SISTER and HOPE come on WEDNESDAY MORNING for the GARAGE SALE - Thursday-Friday-Saturday! Can you tell I'm excited?!?!? I dropped off all our stuff yesterday and tried to get everything as organized as possible before Carol comes. We always have a good time when they come and Amaya is especially excited to play with Hope. It may be a little quiet on the blog this week... but that's nothing out of the ordinary! :-) Sell, sell, selll!!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Picnic at Silver Lake Park

The weather was amazing last Tuesday, so Amaya and I decided it would be a great idea to pack a picnic lunch and eat at the park. We chose Silver Lake Park because we could spend the rest of the afternoon playing and we hadn't been there in such a long time. Here we are... a perfect spot right by the river.

Amaya chose one of her "friends" to come along and enjoy the picnic - Monkey

Amaya made her own sandwich - ham and cheese. We also shared a banana, carrots, and pretzels.

A couple of random snapshots of Miss Amaya...

Then Amaya wanted to take a few pictures... she did really well!

After lunch, she ran around the playground while I tried to keep up with her! She's very brave and can do most everything at the playground - with the exception of the monkey bars. Amaya made a little friend while we were there and had a blast! We'll have to plan more picnics this spring and summer because we had such a good time. Loved being out in the sunshine!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Girl's Night Out

Last night, four of my co-workers and I went out for dinner and a movie. Typically Friday nights are our Family Fun Night, so we're switching things up and having our fun night tonight. We're planning on heading off to church - it's Baptism Weekend and I LOVE hearing everyone's testimonies! Afterwards, we're going to watch "We Bought a Zoo." We've been anxious to rent it, but it's always been checked out at the movie store. Tonight's our night!

Anyway, so back to last night... we met up at Whistle Binkies. The food was surprisingly very good - I ended up getting the Bruschetta Shrimp Pasta. (No wonder Amaya likes seafoood... It must be in her genes, because that's what I always end up ordering.) Then when headed over to the movie theater to watch "The Lucky One." I've heard it described as a cross between "The Vow" and "Dear John." and it's a pretty accurate description.  Three out of the five of us had read the book and I wasn't hoping I wouldn't be disappointed in the moive because typically the book is always better than the movie. I was surprised that there were only a few minor changes from the book. Other than a few steamy scenes, it was a great movie! I still enjoyed Nicholas Sparks' movie "The Notebook" better, but check this one out - it's definitely one that I'll probably buy when it's released!

Thanks ladies for a great night out - we'll have to do it again soon! Steve thanks you too - I didn't have to drag him to another girlie movie! :-)

Update on Herberger's

Well... Herberger's Community Days was a success. We sold 9 coupon books - totalling 45 additional dollars to our team. Amaya was a great sport and we probably sold more coupon books with her help than I would have if I was by myself. And who can resist a cute kid selling stuff? I'm glad we did it even though I was completely out of my comfort zone. I'm a horrible saleswoman, but I'd do anything to raise more money for a cure for Crohn's disease. Our contact at Herberger's asked if we would do it again in the fall and we probably will. It was a great opportunity to get out in the community and a wonderful learning experience for Amaya.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Herberger's Community Days

Last night was our last planning session for the Crohn's and Colitis Walk. It's one thing to participate in the walk and another to be on the planning committee. I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't a little nervous. I'm A LOT nervous! I hope the weather is beautiful. I hope we have a great turn out. I hope everyone has a great time. And I hope we meet our fundraising goal. But, with all that said... my wise husband told me that regardless of the weather, regardless of the turn out, regardless of whether people have a good time, and regardless of meeting our overall fundraising goal of 30,000 dollars - the walk is already a success because of the generosity of our family and friends. I was hoping our team would be able to raise 1000 dollars... and to date... we've raised 1425 dollars! Already, it's a huge success!

Today, Amaya and I are setting up a table at Herberger's to do a little more fundraising. It's Herberger's Community Days and they allow organizations to sell coupon books during the sale with all the profits going directly to the organization. I'm not exactly sure what to expect... We have pamphlets and posters all lined up to go, but I'm just not sure how many people will be there, etc. I keep reminding myself that "Every little bit helps" and that anything we raise today is simply "frosting." This weekend, we'll also be hitting up a few local businesses for donations as well... so we'll see what happens...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken Lasagna

This week, I made one of our all-time favorite meals - Chicken Lasagna. When Steve was in the hospital last year, one of the ladies in my Bible Study brought us this meal and it was fantastic! Of course, I've tweaked it little bit to suit our palates better, but it's a quick and easy meal to make! And it's one that you can make ahead of time or freeze.

10 cooked lasagna noodles
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I've eliminated this from our recipe)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of mayo (I've also eliminated this)
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
4 cups cooked cut up chicken
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese (I use 1 cup of parmesan cheese)

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. Mix together the soups, sour cream, mayo, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Cut up the chicken and cook in a saute pan. Stir the cooked chicken in with the soup mixture. Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick spray. Layer 5 noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/2 the chicken and soup mixture over the noodles. Sprinkle 1 cup of cheddar cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and half of the parmesan cheese over the noodles. Repeat the layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until hot and bubbly. Enjoy! Goes well with a Caesar Salad and/or Garlic French Bread.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cardinal Idol

Friday nights in our household are Family Fun Nights. We typically play games or rent a couple movies, but last Friday night Steve was invited by one of his clients to attend the Cardinal Idol. The best way to describe the event is a cross between American Idol and a Talent Show for the developmentally disabled. I was excited to meet the clients Steve works with and besides, it sounded like a fun evening!

The event was held at Mayo High School's auditorium and it was packed. One side of the auditorium was reserved for the performers and we ended up sitting there because there wasn't really any other place to sit. The theme of the evening was the 70's, so there was a lot of singing and dancing. Amaya really enjoyed the music and because it was such a laid back setting, she felt comfortable enough to dance in the aisle.

What I enjoyed the most is watching the clients cheer each other on and how excited they were to perform. Plus, it was clearly obvious how much they enjoy spending time with Steve and how much it meant for him to come and watch them perform. I enjoyed watching Steve interact with the clients and it made me realize how important his job is and made me even more proud of Steve for his dedication to these people.

The show lasted a little over 2 hours and at the end, everyone was invited up on stage to sing and dance. Amaya was a little timid at first, but eventually she wanted to go up with everyone. She had such a great time that Steve pretty much had to drag her OFF the stage! We look forward to next year's show!

Monday, April 23, 2012

7th Wedding Anniversary

Last Monday, Steve and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary. In some respects, it seems like it hasn't been that long, but there are times when it feels like I've known Steve my whole life. We hadn't planned to do anything big to celebrate - Dave Ramsey and all! But when I walked in the door after work, Steve said, "You have 55 minutes to get ready." Sweet guy... he arranged for his parents to watch Amaya and had plans to take me out to eat. I received a gift card to the Redwood Room for Christmas from one of our allergy doctors and we had some gift money (thank you, thank you, thank you), so Redwood Room it was! We had a scrumptious three course meal at one of our favorite restaurants for 20 bucks! How do you like that, Dave Ramsey?!? We shared the Parmesan Risotto fritters in a tomato/artichoke sauce - delicious! Steve had Veal Marsala and I had Shrimp Fettucine. For dessert we shared a piece of their French Silk pie with espresso whipped cream. Yum-O! Afterwards, we took a leisurely drive around Rochester. What a wonderful surprise! Thank you Steve for planning a great evening and thank you Lowell and Ruth Ann for watching Amaya! Most of all, thank you God, for a wonderful best friend and husband! Seven years down, and another 50 or 60 more with the love of my life!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kick Off Event at the Art Center

Last Sunday was the Kick Off Event at the Rochester Art Center for the Crohn's and Colitis Walk. We met in the craft room and worked on designing and painting bandanas and posters for the walk.

They raffled off a bunch a gift cards and prizes and our honored patient - Steve - drew names. He drew my co-worker's name right off the bat and she won a $25 gift card to Target. Steve also drew his own name, but declined the gift card - gotta keep things fair, you know!

After the raffle, we took a quick tour of the art center. There weren't as many exhibits as I thought... not sure if it was just a slow time period or if they were in between artists. I guess I just thought there would be a little bit more to see.

To date... we've raised nearly 1200 dollars for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation! We are one of the top team fundraisers and participants! Go Team Gatzke!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rochester Children's Museum

Since 2006, plans have been in the works for building a Children's Museum in Rochester, and just a little over two weeks ago, it opened! Amaya and I went last Friday to check it out and my expectations were pretty low. It's in a strange location - sandwiched between a Pub and Little Caesar's, but as it grows and expands I'm sure this won't be a permanent location.

Right away when we walked in, all the walls were brightly colored and it was quite an inviting atmosphere. And fortunately, it wasn't too busy - I overheard one of the staff say that nearly 1000 visitors came through their doors the opening week!

I gave Amaya full reign of where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do first. We spent over 30 minutes at the first exhibit - building a race car.

She worked so hard getting her car built!

After she built the car, there was a track to race cars. This was a very popular exhibit!

The theme for the next couple of months is Balls in Motion... Located along one wall were several different ramps and tracks to roll the balls. Roll them down...

...and see if you make "a basket."

Amaya practiced her golf swing...

...did the ball toss...

... amd created a bunch of bugs with different shaped blocks.

There was an area full of huge lego blocks and foam blocks to create towers, houses, and bridges etc.

Amaya's favorite activities were located in the craft room.

Here she's working on a Mother's Day card for a local nursing home resident.

There was also an area to do face painting. Amaya has NEVER wanted to do any type of face painting... until that day! I colored a little heart on her cheek.

Then, she wanted to do her own painting!

Her finished product!

The museum is geared for ages 6 months - 10 years old. Amaya is the PERFECT age for the museum... we spent nearly 3 hours there and she probably could have spent more time if it wasn't nearing closing time. We had such a great time and had room in our budget, so we bought a family membership. While I had low expectations at first, it was definitely worth it! Rochester has needed a Children's Museum for a long time and I hope it continues to grow and expand!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quotes on Anxiety

Read this a couple of days ago and jotted it down because I knew that I would look back on it often and/or need to share it with someone...

The Lord is my peace. I shall not live in anxiety. He puts me under His wing of comfort and calms my spirit within me. He takes all my anxieties on Himself and helps me to focus on Him. Yes, though I walk through a time of grave uncertainties, I will not fret - for You are my peace. Your Word and Your presence calm me now. You hold my uncertainties in the palm of Your hand. You soothe my anxious mind. You smooth my wrinkled brow. Surely serenity and trust in You shall fill me all the days of my life. And I shall keep my mind stayed on You forever.

Written by Judy Booth, excerpt from the book, Calm my Anxious Heart, by Linda Dillow.

Another quote I refer back to often that offers me peace: "The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith; and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety." George Muller.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Easter - Part 2

This year, we celebrated Easter with my parents and once again, my mom outdid herself. We had a scrumptious ham dinner with twice baked potatoes, corn, rolls, and fruit salad. Yummy! After dinner, Annika and I hid Easter eggs outside for the remainder of the kids to find.

Lydia, Miles, Amaya, and Annika in the back prior to the start of the Egg Hunt.

We gave Miles and Amaya a 30 second head start before Lydia and Ben.

Lydia was pretty sneaky and started in the front yard while the others were out back and scored a lot of candy!! Ben and Lydia going through the eggs.

Miles scoping out his loot.

And Amaya - each kiddo got 10 dollars in an egg! (Too bad the adults couldn't participate!)

Sweet Lydia

Family pictures.... Ben, Arwen, Miles, Mike, Lydia, Annika and somehow Amaya slipped in there!

and us...

We had a wonderful day celebrating and loved the special family time together.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekend Gone!

I was hoping that I would have a chance to get the remainder of our Easter pictures posted today, but it's just not going to happen. The weekend flew by so quickly and our weekend was packed of activities and with our 7th Anniversary tomorrow... it may not happen for a few days. On Friday, Amaya and I spent 3 hours at the new Children's Musuem here in Rochester... we had Family Fun night and watched Dolphin Tale... then on Saturday, brought my mom and Steve's mom along to do the Showcase of Homes... then church... the date night for the two of us. Sunday... we had the Kick Off Event for the Crohn's and Colitis Walk at the Art Center and then spent the remainder of the evening with my parents. A very full weekend and lots of blogging material for the week... Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Menu Planning

Ever since Amaya was born, I've wanted to develop some type of easy monthly menu plan, but nothing has ever seemed to really work. And starting from scratch every week seems like reinventing the wheel. Until... pinterest --- seriously, for those of you who enjoy food, recipes, crafts, DIY, gardening, exercise, traveling, books, movies, home decorating and improvement, organizing, gift ideas, clothes, etc. Check out pinterest - it will change your life and suck up your precious time - but from my perspective - it's been a great way to organize what I like and am interested in on the web. Anyway... each weekvaries with my work schedule so a monthly planner didn't fit our needs and because I get home around 5:30, making a meal from scratch and eating at a reasonable hour just isn't feasible. Until.... My Menu Board!

Amaya and I had a blast at Hobby Lobby picking out the frame, papers, and stickers. It was a lot of fun to make, but even more fun to start planning meals. So, I went through all my recipes and now have over 50 different options for meals. I got out my beloved label maker, made labels of our recipes, and put them on paper. On the flipside are ideas for side dishes, etc.

I didn't take a picture of the back of the frame, but I glued an envelope on the back that stores all of the recipe cards I'll be using for the week. Genius! Now, every weekend, Ijust sit down pull out a few little cards with side dishes already thought out and jot down the ingredients I need. It's a lot of fun because Amaya and Steve can pick out what they'd like to have too and we rotate the cards around so I'm not making the same thing over and over again. I also made little cards that have "Eat-Out" and "Left-overs." So on those days where I work, I can plan ahead a little bit and schedule left-overs for the night or prepare enough in advance and have Steve put something in the oven before I get home. Plus, it's been awesome on our budget because I'm prepared for those days when I don't feel like cooking. Menu planning made simple - and best yet - It works for us!!!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter - Part 1

Pinterest has made our lives much more creative, crafty, and festive! Especially around the holidays! We found several Easter crafts, but Amaya chose this one as her favorite. We ran out of cotton balls and pink construction paper, but we're all set now with googly eyes and pipecleaners!!!

I also volunteered to bring dessert for Easter dinner at my parents. Amaya helped me make these cupcakes - also inspired by Pinterest.

And they were so easy to make! Just your regular cupcake mix - green frosting - and Cadbury Mini-Eggs!


I also made Berry Lover's Pie... I've made this on a few different occasions and it's been a big hit. Next time I'll need to add a bit more cornstarch to hold it all together when it's cut. But, beautiful nonetheless.

Later that evening, we decorated Easter eggs... Boil, boil, boil

We had just the right amount of colors for the eggs that I boiled.



Amaya, with our finished eggs

Sunday morning, Amaya got her Easter basket and hopped on our bed to open her presents.

Can you tell that she's super excited!

First present... what could it be?

A Barbie!

Five little eggs... with quarters in them!

Pink bubbles and Twizzlers!

Amaya and I gave Steve a bunch of candy earlier in the week.

And Amaya picked out some flowers at Trader Joe's for Grandma and me.

And Steve gave me my favorite... white roses...

Part 2 continues to tomorrow...

Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter celebrating our risen Lord!