Ever year we go to CA for our annual visit. All the grandparents live in CA, where BigDaddy and I are from. We pack up the kids and fly out to Hell-A. From Second One, I start stressing out. LA does that to us now. The traffic freaks me out, the smog makes me start coughing immediately, and the frantic pace makes my heart beat a little, okay, a lot, faster. We then embark on the grandparent tour- going from one non-child proofed house to another. And there's that challenge of the 3 hour time difference. So when it's bedtime for us, everyone else is thinking about getting dinner started. Let's not even talk about a nap schedule. When we finally get comfy at one house (and have moved all choking hazards/breakables), it's time to pack up and move to the next. Go Team, Go!
It's exhausting. And this year I get to fly solo, literally, with the munchkins.
So when people say "What a fantastic vacation!" I have to chuckle. Vacation? Surely, you jest. This is not what I would choose to pick as a "vacation." Trip? Yes. It's a LOT of work. The planning, the packing, the flying (alone w/ 2 kids), the driving all over SoCal, the repacking, and the flying again. And almost always, I get sick by the time we get home. And we ALWAYS have the trip hangover for at least a week. Which ALWAYS happens around the time BigDaddy needs to start pre-season and is MIA again. So, why oh why, do we torment ourselves?
Because we get to lounge about at Nana & Grandpa's house, play in the pool, look for Mr. Lizard and pick veggies from the garden. And at Papa & Grandma's we get to go to the neighborhood lake, blow lots of bubbles and take a day trip to the beach in the RV. And we get to visit with extended family during the 50-some member family reunion with Memaw and Pepaw. (And btw, that last part is in San Diego-not too shabby.) And I love seeing the kids showing their grandparents their latest dance move/karate kick/interesting noise. And seeing how much fun they have playing with their cousins who are only a year apart from them. And how they reconnect with their older and cooler teenage cousins they got to play with last summer on the bay.
That's why we do it. So bring on the Opening Ceremonies, let The Games begin!
*Pictured is Papa and Sassy at Solana Beach, CA 7/08.
I haven't worked out regularly since our basement flooded. It's still damp, the floor is still a bit wet and I haven't been able to really do much about it since it's a 2+ people job. I really want Jillian to tell me not to be wimpy and do more butt kicks instead of turning off the DVD. But I can't. I can only have Denise tell me to Feel the Effects of pilates. But I remind myself, I'm not going to gain my weight back in a few weeks of not working out. I just feel like crap because I got used to the habit.
We don't have a dishwasher and when we go an entire day without washing the dishes, it's a nightmare. I went almost two. We've been eating leftover pizza from BigDaddy's camp since it's available and means I don't have to go grocery shopping, again, with two children. Get the pizza out of here and get to the grocery store to get healthy options.
But it's really okay.
BD moved the weeds, er lawn yesterday. Check.
I got massive amounts of laundry done. Check.
The kids are playing together nicely. Check.
We both got some much needed sleep. Check.
We will get more done today. The house is just a house. Yes, a messy house but these times are going to happen. And it's been so beautiful outside, finally, that we've been doing stuff. Stuff out of the house. Stuff with friends. And that's important too. And we can only do so much. Our kids are happy and healthy. We will work on everything today, all day. And then go play as a family tomorrow, all day. And then work some more and it will be okay. And the eye will stop twitching. right?
Make New Friends Make new friends,
but keep the old.
One is silver,
the other is gold.
A circle is round,
it has no end.
That's how long,
I will be your friend.
A fire burns bright,
it warms the heart.
We've been friends,
from the very start.
You have one hand,
I have the other.
Put them together,
We have each other.
Silver is precious,
Gold is too.
I am precious,
and so are you.
You help me,
and I'll help you
we will see it through.
The sky is blue
The Earth is green
I can help
to keep it clean
Across the land
Across the sea
We will always be.
Funny, I don't remember all the parts about keeping the earth clean and green. But I think of this little ditty when I'm with friends. I know, Dork Alert. My friendships, the silver and gold ones, are all precious to me. I'm really not trying to get all sappy and corny, but our relationships are so key in our lives. For a SAHM, they can mean a world of difference.
My life has been filled with gold friends. I feel blessed to have so many wonderful people become a part of my life. And I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to still be tight with my BFF from high school, and college, and my first job, and my second, and fourth. The third hates me, but I digress... And my "wifey" from West Virginia who joined me in pity parties with our infant sons and without our always traveling husbands. And my friend who unexpectedly stayed by my side when BigBoy was born, even though she just stopped by to check on me during her lunch break. Her cold hands just felt amazing on my forehead. I couldn't let her leave.
And this appears to be the year I meet up with several online friends F2F (face to face). I attended WordCamp with a blogger I follow, am planning on meeting up with a friend from my on-line wedding journal planning days this summer and just found out another one of my journal buddies is moving to DC- just 2 hours away!!
And now I'm meeting new, Silver, friends. Some great women who are also moms. Things are falling into place now. And I'm open to it. I really had tunnel vision for a while. Focusing on getting settled, or trying to just get through volleyball season and then the holidays. You know how it goes. And now it's summer. People are out and about again- if they're not on vacation. So I think I'm really open to it now. But it's still work, getting the Silver Friends. It's like dating and trying NOT to be the stalker. Remember the Chick-fil-A meet up? And yes, we're still email mom-courting; trying to figure out our schedules for a playdate again. But see? It works. But it takes work.
I'm finally at a point that I can call people "friends" here. We've been here for 10 months now. So instead of saying "a mom from my homeschool group" or "someone I know" I've been saying a Friend from my homeschool group or a Friend of ours from BigDaddy's work. That type of thing. It feels good.
So is there someone you want to get to know better? I think we are all there, to some degree. It feels like high school all over again, does it not? But we're adults now. So shouldn't it be different? Yes, it should. But often times it isn't.
So here's your challenge: Write the email to connect/reconnect with a friend. Turn the tables and make that phone call you keep hoping comes your way. Offer to help out a friend in a way that would make your day. Put yourself out there and see what might happen. Let me know how it goes. I promise to write you back!
So it's all working for the most part. My stuff is growing and producing. We've had so much rain, every.stinking.day, that I haven't even had to water. Talk about low maintenance!
I love that BigBoy goes with me to check on our garden. We look for cabbage moth caterpillars on our broccoli. Check out new flowers on our tomatoes. Pull weeds together- he checks with me first to make sure it's not a new crop. And this is the big one folks: he knows what the plants look like. The plants, not just the fruit/veggie. He knows that broccoli grows from a tall, cabbagey stalk. Carrots have lacey, fern like tops and the root, what we eat, is below. That zucchinis start as a lovey, bright yellow flower.
This was one thing that really struck me while reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. What plants look like. We are so far removed from where the plants grow, that we usually have no idea what they look like. That peanuts are bushy. Asparagus are perennials. Peas are climbers. Stuff I never really thought about. And what I was teaching my kids. Food doesn't "come from" the store. It comes from the ground, the soil. This is one of the reasons why we take care of the Earth, because it provides us with our food. Makes it pretty clear in the mind of a 5 y.o. I can't wait until I need a tomato for lunch and we can run out to the garden and grab one.
Now that I'm a "Gardener" I can officially worry. I'm worried we are getting too much rain. I'm worried my zucchini will choke out everything else, even though I spaced them out. I'm worried the cabbage moths will eat too much of my broccoli leaves and then they won't produce. I'm worried I will get a bunch of stuff in when I'm on vacation. (Good news for neighbors though!) Us "Gardeners" worry a bunch about too much vs. not enough. Doesn't it make you want to grow something just to give you worry rights?
After quizzing local friends on where to go, we decided to heed advice from BigDaddy's boss and The Boss' Wife and head out to Douthat Lake, a Virginia state park, for two nights. Our mini-vacay wasn't perfect: it rained at some point everyday, BigDaddy had to go back to work for a bit, we forgot cereal. and charcoal. and matches. But it really didn't matter, because we had this:
And after we didn't have the BBQ, we had this:
And after the big thunderstorm, we had this:
And after BigDaddy was done with work, we had this:
And then on the last day, we had this:
So it wasn't perfect, but I'm happy with getting pretty darn close.
The lovely Amanda from L-Plates (and originally from Chantelle from fatmumslim) tapped me on the shoulder in a new photo tag thingy...over to her to explain:
I realize this is kind of a cop-out. A wedding photo. At least I'm doing it! but honestly, this IS my all-time favorite picture of me ever. really. It speaks volumes of the day. My wedding day. The best. day. ever. I really didn't foresee my wedding day as becoming "The Best Day of My Life." But it totally was. I loved it. It was fun. I felt like a princess. I was marrying the man I loved. I had all my favorite people with me in the same place at the same time. We had a rockin DJ and we cut straight to the party.
This photo was after BigDaddy and I hung out by ourselves inside the clubhouse after the ceremony for about 20 minutes. This is a Jewish wedding tradition known as Yichud and it gave us a chance to really soak it all in together. Alone. Away from the craziness. We had small plates of food prepped for us and watched random people walking along the boardwalk peeking in and waving, saying congrats. It was a special moment we shared before being introduced to the crowd. Then it was time to take another deep breath. Hold hands and enjoy the day!
Mr. & Mrs. BigDaddy!
Now I tag:
woo woo mama
A Toast to Me
You know, out here in the kinda country we have to get creative and think about ways to entertain ourselves. Zoos? For wimps. Museums? Cultural snobs. Movies? C'mon.... Is that all ya got?
Walls. My son looks at the bathroom doorway and thinks "I can take it." And he does. Everyday. All day. My son is literally climbing the walls.
What's a mama to do? We're getting out of Dodge for a few days and heading to the lake, that's what. I love saying that. We're going to the lake this weekend. We've always talked about finding a great lake nearby and spending weekends/weeks lounging about. I've always envied those families who were able to take off to their vacation house or their parent's vacation house on a regular basis. But the reality we lived in didn't allow it. We were broke and had no down-time due to BigDaddy's job(s). And no parents with a vacation house. My Loyal 7 know this has been a big goal for us, to have some balance, and be able to do things as a family like a vacation. It was a big focus for us before we moved here. It's a big reason WHY we moved here.
So we're off. No computers allowed, no tweets or status updates, no emails. Sunscreen, princess beach towels, watermelon and grilled burgers? Definitely.
We've been getting lots of rain lately. Lots. And we now have a swimming hole in our basement. Total bummer. We live in faculty/staff housing on campus and our house in particular was rented by some folks who didn't seem to have the same concerns as we do. Since moving here last summer we've requested a bit of an overhaul on this rancher house. Don't get me wrong, I love, love, love this house. I love the yard, the location, the 4 bedrooms. Love it. And to the school's credit, they jump on most things when we bring issues to their attention.
We had a little mold issue a few months ago. A mold/pest guy came out, did a review and found we also had some wood beetles or something. Part of their solution was to lay plastic down in part of the basement that is just crawl space to help with the dampness leaking up to the house. Sounded great! Until it rained. We think all the water hit our crappy gutters that haven't been replaced yet and then overflowed to the base of the house, which then soaked into the space that is now lined with plastic, which then flooded an area that we actually use in the basement that's never had any problems with water before. Which also means it wasn't prepped for water damage. Nice huh? Thankfully I'm a tub/container freak and most of the stuff that got wet was in a plastic tub and were toys. I had to pile up everything last night and try to re-organize to the higher spots on the floor.
This is also my main workout area, so no Mr. Snarky or Jillian for me today. Actually yoga is probably a better call given the situation. I've called the facilities department and also made the paper trail by sending an email.... There's really not much else to do but wait and see what all happens.
Being from Southern California, we never knew what Weather was. Real weather. Out there if it rains two inches there's MAJOR accidents. (Oil from all the traffic make the roads crazy slippery and nobody really knows how to drive in the rain) People get grumpy and complain about the crappy weather. The news flashes headlines of StormWatch 2009. Time to panic! It's just rain people. And California is technically a desert. So rain = good. But that's not why people live there. The live there so they don't have to deal with weather inconveniences. Like flooded basements. (Wait, does anyone even have a basement in CA?) Paradise is 365 days of sunshine. yawn.
We don't belong in California anymore. One of the many reasons is Weather. We love Weather. Actual deviations from 75 and sunshine. During thunderstorms you'll most likely to find BigDaddy on our front porch watching the action. If it's just a warm summer rain, we're all out there and the kids are usually dancing in the yard with huge grins. Sometimes Sassy will even be wearing more than just her chonies! Yesterday we had a few passing storms and the kids couldn't believe we had hail on our yard. HAIL! BB grabbed some and put in with his rock collection for safe keeping. (Next came the talk about hail actually melting). I'm also happy I haven't had to water my garden in weeks. But now worried about over watering. I guess gardeners are always worried about something. Thankfully we usually get an 80 degree day or two thrown in the mix to dry things out a bit.
Out in the kinda country you deal with the Weather. Plan for the Weather. Dare I say, enjoy the Weather. BTW, You are all allowed to remind me of this post in late August when I'm miserable with our hot and humid WeatherI'm doing everything possible to stay cool in our non-central a/c rental house.
*Amazing Flickr photo courtesy of Thorsten Thees.
Growing up we never had yard sales. In fact, I don't remember ever seeing a yard sale in our neighborhood. I probably never went to a yard sale until I was an adult, living in Indianapolis in the 'burbs with BigDaddy and BigBoy. My neighbor raved about the area yard sales in the spring and summer. Yard sales? really? I didn't want to pick through someone else's "trash." And then it happened. I went with her and scored my first unbelievable deal. A plastic storage tub filled with Thomas the Tank train tracks, buildings, and trains for $10. TEN BUCKS! I also found a Cozy Coupe. And a playroom table with storage bins. And some Baby Gap shorts. I spent less than $30 and easily got hundreds of dollars in merchandise. We were a young (and broke) family and finding big ticket items cheap was great.
I feel in love with the yard sale.
This weekend our kinda country town transformed into a bustling, bumper-t0-bumper, mini-tropolis. It was Community Yard Sale Day. We weren't living here at this time last year, so I had no idea what to expect. In my typical Black Friday style, I planned to meet up with a friend at 6 a.m. in one of the ritzier neighborhoods. Word on the street was that this was the go-to place for family stuff.
I quickly realized that I was that obnoxious person who got to the sale before the people were were set up. ack! I hate people like me. I hung out in my van for a bit, waiting for my friend and then got out. Nothing on my mental list. I was looking for ride-on toys for Sassy, cookware, old glass storage containers and patio furniture. Regular old toys had to be PERFECT for us as we don't want/need more. So I added regular Legos to my list for BigBoy as his mega blocks were now labeled "babies Legos."
I ended up hearing from my friend and she had an "incident" with her alarm clock and we were now meeting at 7. Off to the solo drive-bys! I ended up getting most of my stuff this way actually. Pre-schooler scooter ($3), bity bike with training wheels ($5), canning pot with rack and some jar lids ($5) and a Dora battery powered ATV with charger.... drum roll please: TWO BUCKS. I was doing the Snoopy dance in the streets. Later I also found a big, storage box full of Star Wars and Batman Lego Kits ($4), pink cowboy boots ($1), a puzzle still in the wrap ($1) and lots of books for a few bucks.
I love how local families were de-cluttering and we were able to use some of these things and not have to pay a lot for them. The ultimate in recycling. I also found dozens of quart canning jars ($2 per dz.) from a man who was getting rid of some of his garden supplies. He says "I'm down-sizing my garden and you are up-sizing! Perfect!" He seemed really happy that my friend and I were so excited about canning jars. We also got to hear about how he was getting married and they were combing their households and just had way too much stuff. His bride-to-be also had a work out outfit for us to look at. Never worn! Um, just the jars please. Oh, and those cool produce baskets ($1 for 2.)
My friend roamed around on her own some more and I ran home for a bit. The kids loved their stuff and we took a little walk so Sassy could try out her new bike with BB, which didn't last too long. We'll have to work on that. I had to go back out in our truck to pick-up something for my friend and retrieve my mini-ATV since the missing charger was being dropped off at noon. Again, I got the full story. The guy I was buying it from didn't actually live at this house- it was his friend's place. The ATV was his sister-in-law's friend's and he couldn't get a hold of her since it was so early. I left my cell number with him and said I'd be back if they could find it. They called me and said to come back around noon. The guy was going to a graduation and would pick up the charger before hand and then drop it off at the house on his way to a picnic after the graduation which was just one town over. All this for a $2 Dora ATV. And I got this story via cell, when they told me they found the charger.
We loaded up the family so they could see all the activity. The entire TOWN was involved in yard sales. Parking lots transformed into flea market type areas. Coolers running amok BBQ chicken sold by the high school kids (and one poor, sweaty guy in a yellow chicken costume.) In literally every neighborhood, homes not only sold their items, but were running their grills with burgers and hot dogs for sale. Coolers filled with cold drinks and water. Kids had lemonade and cookie stands. Now THIS is what I'm talking about! THIS is a community yard sale day.
I love that our town brings out all the bells and whistles for this event. I love hearing that my canning jars were no longer being used because a man found his bride-to-be and just doesn't have as much time downtime to devote to his former love--his garden. I love that when some of the people heard my friend was starting her own school, they were trying to think of stuff they could just donate to her. And I really love seeing SassyGirl in nothing more than her pony chonies, cowgirl hat and "new" pink cowgirl boots, during twirls in the kitchen and yelling "yeehaw!" That one there is priceless.
If you've never been yard sale shopping, I highly recommend it. While it is pretty easy to get caught up in the "WOW! This is so cool I need to buy it" moments, it's also a great way to score some deals if you have a game plan and list of what you are looking for. It's also helpful to know retail price of what you are looking for. So get out there next weekend and tell me what you scored!
I was in strawberry bliss. Now I'm just taunted by strawberry goodness that will NOT help my bathing suit challenge. Froze all the extras (lots!) and now they are all calling my name. Mocking me. And the panzanella. OH the panzanella. Seriously to. die. for. I ate some last night for dessert okay, okay for a mid-day snack. And dinner. And breakfast today! Don't judge! And it was divine. Think country style croutons but SWEET and loaded butter and brown sugar and a little cinnamon with tons of fruity spots and chunks of fresh berries, topped with creamy Greek yogurt. I even drizzled local raw honey on top. cuz I could.
Am I seriously dreaming of strawberries and farm eggs. really? Is this what inner peace is? Strawberry and bug fed, happy chicken eggs. I'm in a food coma. But not the tryptophan Thanksgiving bloated type food coma. I'm in a food coma of utter amazement. Food really tastes THIS different? Yes. Fresh berries, picked in the cool morning after (and during rain) and farm fresh eggs from one town over. It just makes my belly happy.
I just know BigDaddy is sick of my detailing the beauty of our farms eggs. The colors! The sizes! The shapes! Look at the two different types of whites! And the yoke! Have you ever seen such an ORANGE yoke! Look at it!! Perfect! I'm becoming the Crazy Egg Lady aren't I? The Crazy Egg Lady who eats Strawberry Panzanella all day long.
Because I'm a giver, here are my two favorite strawberry recipes:
Strawberry Muffins from Stoneyfield Farms
I opened the lid on our yogurt container and viola! A recipe stared me down. The Yogurt Strawberry Gods spoke to me. Make muffins! Maaaaake muuuuuffins! So I did. And they rocked. I also substituted molasses (I think I used 1/4 cup) for the sugar and they came out a nice dark brown. Big hit with BigBoy.
|1 cup all-purpose flour |
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup Stonyfield lowfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped strawberries
|Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 12 muffin tin or line it with paper baking cups. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar and baking soda. In another bowl, stir together eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla until blended. Toss the strawberries with the flour mixture. |
Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until the flour is just moistened. The batter will be lumpy. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
|(1 muffin) Calories 160; Fat Calories 45; Total Fat 5g; Carbohydrate 25g; Protein 5g; Fiber 3g|
And then the Panzanella.... sweet child o' mine:
Strawberry Panzanella from 101 Cookbooks.
Panzanella is usually a savory bread salad, so this is a great twist and comes out like a yummy shortcake/breadpudding type dish. I omitted the poppy seeds and added a little drizzle of honey. D'lish!
1/4 cup unsalted butterDirections
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons natural cane sugar OR brown sugar*
couple pinches of fine grain salt
1 pound loaf of hearty, substantial day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1+ pint basket of ripe strawberries, trimmed and cut into matchsticks
a 7 or 8 ounce container of plain (Greek) yogurt
poppy seeds for garnish
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. In a large pot melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves and remove from the heat. Add bread cubes and toss, coating the bread cubes. Toss for a minute or so to get decent coverage. Pour the bread out onto a baking sheet and arrange them in a single layer. Toast for about 15 minutes or until bread is well toasted, tossing every 5 minutes to make sure all bread surface areas get golden and crunchy.
In the meantime, place half the chopped strawberries in a small bowl and mash them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. I found a potato masher works well for this. Keep mashing until berries are super juicy and appetizingly chunky - this is your dressing.
When the bread cubes are done toasting (and have had a few minutes to cool and crisp up), toss them in a big bowl with the mashed berries. Add the remaining chopped strawberries and toss a bit more. Give the yogurt a good stir, and serve on the side garnished with poppy seeds (feel free to sweeten it a bit to your liking).
Serves 6 or so. Or just one Crazy Egg Lady.
It was a nice little break... at first. The first two days we spent great quality one-on-one time. Hanging out, running errands, visiting farms, play dates, etc. I didn't have to worry about cutting my day short to accommodate a nap. We had ALL day. To do WHATEVER. It was great. And a bit exhausting.
By days 4, & 5 I think we were both done. BB was at my side non. stop. Asking me to play with him again, look at what he was doing, keep him company, laugh at his silly antics. You name it. He wanted me to do it. Never mind that we just spent 5 hours of our day with his friend and then getting ice cream. Clean up the house? Do some dishes? SIT DOWN? Nah. I casually said Wow, you really miss Sissy huh? I DO NOT! um. okay kiddo.
AHHHHHH! Then there's the dog and cat. The dog decided something was up. The biggest and smallest person was MIA from our house. OH WEEEEIRD! So of course SHE needed to be by my side at all times. Or at least in the same room. At. all. times. The cat missed BigDaddy (she's actually his cat) so she's protesting in various meows. And peeing on everything. And today pooped on our front door mat. nice.
Wasn't this supposed to be a break for Mama Specs? I did get some projects and major cleaning done. woot. woot. But I'm really ready to be back to normal. Wait, what?! Did I just say that??