Monday, March 29, 2010

Viva Las Vegas: Part Deux

Our family took a quick vacation to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada to celebrate Caleb's 7th birthday at Monster Jam World Finals, and it was a huge success. I would have to be honest and say that it was about 80% success and 20% anxiety.

On the first day, we were all up at 3:00am to get the first flight out of Texas. When we arrived in Las Vegas, we checked in at Circus Circus and took the children for some games and rides in the AdventureDome. Imagine the Brazoria County fair, minus the horrible smell, and plus $3 a ride. We drove up and down the strip, looking at lights, and touring various hotels. The kids LOVED the dancing waters at the Bellagio and climbing all over the statues. Jansen fell asleep at the dinner table on night #1.

Day two, we got up early, because it was Caleb's 7th birthday. We had ordered a cake from a local bakery and had a little party in our hotel room. Josh and I gave him his gift, a digital camera to take his own Monster Jam pictures. Then we ate at the buffet, and drove to Sam Boyd Stadium for the Monster Jam Party in the Pits. This was surprisingly fun for us all. We were the first ones in line to meet Dennis Anderson, the driver of GraveDigger and Caleb was about to explode with excitement. We were able to meet about 10 of the drivers for autographs and pictures, got tattoos, snocones, and pizza, and even got to ride on Stone Crusher for ramps and donuts. That evening we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for Caleb's birthday dinner and he got his first ever ice cream sundae. Both kids were asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel.

Day three, we slept in a little because we had guaranteed tickets for the night's events and were in no hurry to get back out there. We toured the Venetian and the Palazzo, and took our first ever ride on the gondolas. The kids loved it. That night was Monster Jam World Finals and boy it was colder than I had expected. Even though we packed long sleeved shirts and hoodies, we could have used jackets or a blanket. It was a blast! We had second row seats, dead center! GraveDigger won the racing event and Monster Mutt won the Freestyle competition. The kids were both asleep for the third night in a row in the car.

Day four and it was time to go home. The kids got to ride on almost all forms of transportation in one weekend. They were so excited to have this trip. My problem was that Las Vegas is very adult. It wasn't the adult entertainment aspect of it, it was the massive amounts of people and having a 7 and 4 year old fascinated and roaming away. I felt like I had to have my protective eyes everywhere at all times. In the end, Josh won a little over $600 from gambling, and we spent a fortune on food and souvenirs. We are so glad to be home, but are looking forward to going back next year....this time, at a different hotel. What do you think about Mandalay Bay, or Treasure Island, or MGM Grand???

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This cake was a complete pain. Caleb was very specific that he did not want any type of border around any of the edges, thus no border. I learned a lot in my first foray into fondant work. I probably should have used fondant to cover the cake, but we like the taste of cream cheese that is what I did. There are several of family events that will be going on in the upcoming weeks so I will have the opportunity to practice and experiment. Anyway, Caleb loves the cake and that is what really matters.

The other cake was for a family party...triple chocolate fudge. Two huge thumbs up for how wonderful this turned out and was incredibly easy to make. Would have been even better with Homemade Vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another March Madness post

Yep, it is the yearly March Madness post from the Powell house. March, May, December....repeat. This year we have had enough going on to kill a plow horse. We have soccer, speech therapy, kung fu, rodeo, Caleb's birthday, doctor appointments, baby showers, meetings, and our own Griswold Vegas Vacation to name a few.

But this month, cakes have ruled my thoughts. This year, as in years past, Caleb wanted a Mario themed cake. We had not planned on throwing him a birthday party this year, as we will be spending his birthday in Las Vegas attending the Monster Jam World Finals...(insert your biggest redneck yee-haw here). His grandmother offered to have some of our family over for a Sunday lunch and celebrate his birthday then. This means that I must provide a cake. Yes I have made a few of our family cakes, but for the most part, my friend Jenny has made them. Unfortunately, she is no longer making cakes, so I accept the challenge. That is, until Caleb came up with his cake of choice....Mario. I told him that I refuse to have a Mario cake 3 years in a row and if he was so insistent, he could pick another character to base the cake on. What is his choice? Bowser! Are you kidding me with that? Does this child know that my cake decorating skills are limited, beginner at best?

Anyway, Friday and Saturday I will be making two cakes. One for Caleb and one for my parents' Joy Ride party they have every year. Hopefully that one will be a little more simple and less time consuming than a BOWSER cake! To describe my previous birthday cake bakery skills, I have included pictures as evidence... beware....

The middle picture is of Jansen on his 1st birthday, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find the picture of his actual cake. It was shaped like a party hat and with the same colors of blue and green. Caleb's 1st (Sports) cake and 3rd (Batman) cake was made by me, 2nd (the Wiggles) and 4th (Bob the Builder) cakes were done by a family friend, and his 5th and 6th (Mario) were made by Jenny. I made Jansen's 1st (Party Hat), and Jenny made his 2nd (race car), 3rd (Cars), and 4th (American Idol).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Inspiring words....

Since I was a child, I have always gravitated to the scripture written in Proverbs...31:30 to be exact. "Charm is deceptive and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised." Everyone seems to have a favorite verse or quotation and this is definitely mine. But today I began to think about this verse and what it truly means. How often do I live as this verse suggests? The answer to me is painful to realize but necessary to admit. Not often. Not even close to often.

As I began to read Proverbs 31 as a grown woman, and no longer a youth, I am struck by how descriptive it is. It is very clear to me at this point in my life of how things should be. I am so often obsessed with my own individuality and stubborn independence, that I lose sight of the "plan". Of course, this is my personality, and aspects of it I love, however I want to be a better person. Over the course of the last 5 years, my family has leaned further and further away from our traditional upbringing. There are aspects of that upbringing that I would not change, and some that as a more aware adult, need changing.

That said, my new favorite verse is from the same chapter in Proverbs.
"She watches over the affairs of her house and does not eat the bread of idleness"
-Proverbs 31:27.
Now the women's liberation movement may feel that this is sexist, submissive, and inappropriate for today's Modern Woman. And they may be right for many women out there. For me, the best thing that came of the movement is the ability to choose. As thankful as I am for my college education that can open doors for me, I am just as thankful for the right to choose the path that is right for me as an individual. What is right for me is to be home with my children, nurturing them and being attentive, and managing our household. I feel peace in this.

Side note: I needed to use up some leftovers and threw together this dinner inspired by another blogger's recipe:
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 taco seasoning packet
1/2 can corn
1/2 can kidney beans
1/2 can refried beans
Brown the meat with the onion. Mix in taco seasoning, corn, and beans and heat through. Pour in an 8X8 baking dish. Cover with 5-6 uncooked biscuits and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-22 minutes.

It was mighty tasty and mighty thrifty. This meal cost $3.70 to make, Josh and I ate it for dinner, Josh took a serving with him to work tonight, and there are two servings left for tomorrow. How awesome is that???? Watch out world....I am working on my wicked cooking skills!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weight loss

Josh and I started on a mission to lose weight three weeks ago. We have decided that enough is enough and we want to be healthier. This comes at a fantastic time for me, since the two of us work really well together when we are on a mission. The trick to this, is to keep motivated, so we are taking a quick cruise. No one wants to be flabby in a bathing suit for 4 days!

We are both doing well so far but I do notice that we are both a little more irritable than usual. Josh has lost 18 pounds already and I have lost 3.5. I can't complain about my slow weight loss, because my metabolism hates me. It always has. I can gain 3 pounds in a day, but it will take me a month to lose it. Slow and steady.

In other Powell happenings:

  • Caleb has begun walking to and from school by himself or with other children. I stand at the end of the street and watch him walk all the way to school...a whole 2 blocks.
  • This weekend's soccer double header ended in two wins...Caleb blocked three goals as goalie, and did some impressive dribbling. He is beginning to learn the skills of the game.
  • Jansen has changed to being right handed. Although he has a preference for doing things with his left hand, in working with him on writing, he is more stable with his right hand. Let the re-teaching begin.
  • We are counting down the days until the Black Eyed Peas concert, and then to Las Vegas!
  • I have begun a back yard overhaul...ants and all.