Friday, August 20, 2010

I've been monetized!

I've decided to put ads up, and maybe make a little money (because I have such a huge readership). Not sure how I feel about it yet. But so far it doesn't look obnoxious. If I think it's getting that way, I'll take it down. The ads are supposed to be relevant. However the first one I saw was for shoes with a giant spiked heel. Hmmmmmm. But the second was about food and gardening - that sounds more like it.

If you have an opinion about ads on blogs, please share it (good or bad). If you happen to see something offensive, please let me now. And as always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Catching Up

So, it's been a little while since I blogged.  I guess we've had a lot going on!

The last time I wrote here, we had just heard the sad news that JC's grandmother passed away.  At age 93, you can't say it was a life taken too soon.  But nonetheless, it was a sad occurrence.  Though she already had dementia when I had the privilege of meeting her, I feel so blessed to have know her.  She lived right down the street from the home JC grew up in and where his parents still reside.  She was of course a big part of his childhood and life.  I am so proud to have given her two great-grandsons, and will never forget the obvious joy she had when she met JT for the first time.  She lived in her own home until a stroke at age 91 - not too bad, eh? She met LW for the first time shortly after her stroke, so she was not as mobile or able to speak well, but her joy was still apparent at that meeting. She led a simple life, and as such made a request years ago to have only a simple grave side service when she died. So there we stood on a hot, humid morning in July to say good bye. The service was short an sweet - not enough time for me to turn into a sobbing mess as I usually do at these things. And we answered about a million questions from JT, including "Why can't I jump in there?" (referring to the open grave).  But he did well, though has several times mentioned that he misses his great-grandma.  He does seem to have some sense of what death means, though obviously still has many questions - some hard to answer, some simple.  LW is too little to know what was going on, and as active as he is I had to take him for a little walk around the cemetery during the service.  That evening after the service, as we were getting the boys to bed, my mother-in-law was sitting outside during a break in the thunderstorms and downpours we'd been having.  And what appears in the sky, but a gorgeous double rainbow! A sign from Grandma perhaps?

Now comes the task of cleaning out Grandma's house, barn and chicken coop (both full of some interesting farming equipment and tools).  JC and his brother will go up one weekend soon to help out - and I will pray that JC does not come home with a truck-full like he has threatened!

Last weekend, JC and I had our annual vacation to Watkins Glen, NY for some NASCAR racing, and the boys had their vacation at my parents!  I really needed that break from every day life.  Summer can be LONG when you are home with two little boys!  We had a great time.  We were able to visit with some friends one day (JC used to live up in that area, which is about 7 hours from where we live now), then enjoyed two days of racing.  I don't watch much racing at home anymore - kind of hard to do that with two boys that need to be entertained.  So I'm a little rusty on who drives which car since there are always some that change owners and car numbers. Even a major sponsor change throws me off!  But there is something about being at the track that is exciting.  The sights, the sounds, the smells, the fans - all add to the experience. The view from our seats (41 one rows up in the grandstand!!) is breathtaking:
This track is located on a mountain, in the Finger Lakes region of NY, close to Seneca Lake.  We usually stay about 45 minutes away at the other end of the lake, and the drive is gorgeous!  Vineyards every where you look (this is wine country!), as well as all sorts of other fields and farms.  Last year we discovered a delightful little store run by an Amish family, so we stopped there again this year.  Oh the quilts!  We did not buy any, as they are  not a cheap item.  But there was plenty of other stuff to ogle at in our price range as well.  I managed to limit my purchases to a jar of pickled Okra, a jar of Peach butter, and a framed stitched saying.  The woman at the front says she remembered us from last year when we mentioned we had been there before - not sure if that's true or not, but it still gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling.  If we ever get our act together and make our hotel reservations more than a month in advance, I don't think I want to stay any closer, because frankly I'd miss the drive (well, the parts I am awake for anyway).

JT and LW also enjoyed their little vacation with Grandma and Grandpa.  I was a little concerned that LW would have trouble when we left, as he has been going through quite the Mommy phase this summer and often screams if I walk out the door without him.  But of course there was no need!  He cried for about 20 seconds when we left (he had a little trouble understanding that we were leaving and he was staying and tried to walk out the door with us).  But Grandma got him a stool so she could see us out the window and he had a smile on his face as he waved good bye.  JT looked absolutely giddy in the window!  What a relief!  They got to do/see some exciting stuff while they were there. My parents live in a condo, and some of the units in the complex were in desperate need of new front steps.  As luck would have it, one of the sets of steps was being installed the first morning. As many of you know, anything construction related is HUGE excitement for little boys!  In fact, I am told that LW actually sat still in his stroller for about an hour watching the whole thing!  They also went to a trolley museum and got to ride on a trolley, and it sounds like they absolutely loved it.  They both napped well every day, and it sounds like LW did pretty well staying in his bed for the most part.  LW apparently amazed Grandma and Grandpa with his appetite - there's a reason he wears some clothes the same size at JT's.  We are so thankful to my parents for being willing and able to take the boys so we can have a little R&R!

We have been enjoying a bounty of veggies from our garden and the CSA.  The lettuce is taking a break, and we're getting a great variety of vegetables, including these:

I thought we had identified this through the magic of Facebook as a Kabocha squash, a.k.a. Japanese pumpkin.  But the CSA is calling it a buttercup squash.  I thought the buttercup had a funky bump on the bottom, but what do I know? I baked it with butter and brown sugar, and it was pretty tasty.  And I am generally not a winter-squash eater.  We got a mid-season update email from the CSA.  Apparently the hot weather is causing some issues, including with the carrots.  Which might explain this:

I thought only home gardens grew crazy carrots like this?  Our own garden is going gangbusters.  I am quite giddy that we have some very promising watermelons and cantaloupes (muskmelons in actuality).  I have never grown melons before, so I am excited that we may get some produce out of them.  I also planted a six pack of mystery heirloom tomatoes.  Some appear to be "normal" red tomatoes.  But a couple of plants are producing these:

It's more of a pink color than red.  And quite tasty too.  We've got wax beans and pole beans coming out of our ears - too bad I don't currently have extra freezer space to preserve them (thanks to a Junk man that thought it acceptable to get permission from a 4 year old to remove our old refrigerator that was sitting up by the house - not by the curb - so I could hose it down before we put it in the basement.  Grrrrrrrrr).  

JT will be turning five in a month.  Wow...where has the time gone?  This is the first year I've really asked him what he wants.  The first thing he mentioned was his own watering can, and his own plant to water!  Goodness, I LOVE this kid!!  Oh he's not totally easy to please - he also wants a trampoline and a batman computer (does that even exist???).  But I was so tickled pink at the first thing that came to mind.  Of course now he tells everybody that he's getting several of the items on the list, despite my reminders that he won't necessarily get everything on it.  And I get that "I KNOW" with attitude - all the moms know what I'm talking about!  He also wants to help bake his own cake, and decorate it.  I made a chocolate zucchini cake today and he went and told Daddy I was making his birthday cake.  Have I said how much I love this kid?

We've started cloth diapering LW, for the most part.  He outgrew disposable diapers a couple months ago, and pull-ups are just so pricey.  So a friend sent some cloth trainers to try, and I was happy with them so I bought those from her as well as a few more on line.  We've really only started full-force this week, and so far so good.  Of course I am not the one that was on kid duty when he had  his first explosive output, so maybe you should ask JC how well it's going!  I didn't buy a large supply of trainers, because he is already two, so he gets one disposable a day depending on where we are with the laundry.  But he sure does look cute in them! And yes, I do feel a little regret at not having tried it sooner.  The thought of all those disposables in a landfill doesn't fill me with parenting pride.

JT will be starting a new program this week.  I don't feel comfortable saying what it's for here, since it is something that could cause embarrassment for him down the road, despite it not being all that uncommon.  It's a six week program, at a highly-regarded children's hospital.  So we have hope that by the end of September the issue will be resolved!  (Those that are reading and know us in real life probably know what I am talking about.  Sorry for being so cryptive to those that don't).  Too bad we now have new insurance that requires us to pay copays -blech!  But so glad to have insurance!!

I'm sure there some things that I have missed, since it's been FOUR WEEKS since my last entry.  But it's way too late already and I AM on kid duty in the morning, so I need to hit the hay!  Good night!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Mystery Vegetable

We got a mystery vegetable in our box from the CSA today.  Just for fun, to see if people could guess.  They did it last year too and said they had some pretty interesting guesses.  As soon as I cut into it I knew almost certainly what it was, though not the name of the variety.  Then I cheated and googled it.  Do you know what it is?

Friday, July 16, 2010

What's that flying around my butterfly bushes?

Ever seen one (or more) of these creatures?

I hadn't until a few years ago.  We've had the butterfly bushes for 7 years (a gift for our first anniversary), but didn't start seeing these creatures until the bushes were a few years old.  When I first saw them, I thought they looked like flying lobsters.  I think it was my mom who informed me that they are Hummingbird Moths.  And I believe these would be the "clear wing" variety.  As you might guess from their nickname, most people think they're baby hummingbirds at first.  I don't have much of a zoom lens (55mm) so it was hard to get good detail on them, since they'd fly to another flower when I tried to get close enough for a macro shot. But I think you get the idea. I love to watch them flit around from flower to flower.  Not sure where they came from or how they found our bushes, but I'm glad they did.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Sunshine Award

I was so surprised and touched to see that I had received The Sunshine Award from Maureen at Wisconsin Mommy. Maureen is my cousin and we are only a few months apart in age.  We spent many holidays together, and I often wonder what it felt like for my family of seven to invade the home of her family of three!  Fast forward a "few" years to present day - Maureen moved out to Wisconsin when she married her husband, so we haven't seen each other in TOO MANY years.  But thanks to technology, we've been able to keep in touch and see what's going on in each other's lives.  Hopefully we'll have occasion to get together soon - I know that our boys would get along great!  Maureen is Mom to adorable "Little J", former teacher, current part-time stay at home mom/part-time instructional coach, with a lot of great tips on parenting and ways to save some money. Head on over and she might have a give-away that's right up your alley!

The Sunshine Award comes with a few rules:

1. Put the award on your blog and/or within your post.
2. Pass the award on to twelve (12) bloggers.
3. Link to the nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and the link to the person from whom you received the award.

So here goes the passing of the sunshine...

  1. Jessica from The Entertaining House and The Entertaining Kitchen.  Jessica is a mom of three, a fabulous writer, great cook, fashionista, and photographer.  She has loads of great stories about her childhood, and some DELICIOUS recipes.  All told with her witty sense of humor.
  2. Marie from Everyday Matters.  Marie is also a mom of three and runs a day care in her home.  She has many creative ideas of things to do with kids.  And the love for her children is glaringly obvious in her posts! And like me she joined a CSA for the first time this year, and gets excited every week to see what she gets.
  3. JoAnna from No Expectations.  Mom of 4 under 5, military wife, Doula, someone who will travel the ends of the earth for a friend in need.  She doesn't make it all sound easy, but she gets it done and done well.  Someone I wish I could get know in real life.  
  4. Jenn from Crossing the Prairie.  Mom of three - two adopted from Ethiopia - and military wife.  She has a love of family and love of cooking that inspires me.  She's a fellow gardener, though I'm pretty sure her garden trumps mine!  And she makes her own cheese - need I say more?
  5. Tamra from Today's Modern Mother.  Tamra recently gave birth to her seventh child!  She's a homeschooling, cloth diapering, breastfeeding Mama. She's also a talented photographer. 
  6. Girlsmom (don't think she has her name on her blog) from Growing With the Girls  Mom to two adorable little girls, massage therapist, and brave northern soul who lives where it was still snowing in June! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Boys of Summer

The boys are spending a lot of time in our stream this summer.  Actually, I think it might be a brook.  I finally looked up the definitions on, and brook seems to be a smaller flow of water.  Frankly I'm surprised it took so long for it to be discovered - though not so surprised that LW was the first to check it out.  I'm thankful that I bought them both sandals that are made to get wet, and that I've broken LW's addiction to socks (at least while he's wearing sandals).   Some days, they each soak/dirty a couple of outfits in the stream.  But that's OK - it keeps them occupied, and I get to do a little work in the garden while still able to keep an eye on them.  We're guessing that LW will be the first to bring us some creature that he captured in the stream, such as a frog.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Day out With Thomas

As I mentioned in my previous post, we took the boys for a ride on Thomas The Train yesterday.  We started on the road around 10am.  Our tickets were for the 3:15 trip, but it's about a 2.5 hour drive, and we wanted to take our time.  We took the scenic route through the mountains, which is always worth the extra time.  Both boys got a little sleep on the way, and we made one pit stop at a ranger station.  At one point, LW started repeating "Thomas? Where are you?" over and over.  Really cute, if you can imagine his two year old voice.  Lunch was interesting - LW ate like it was his last meal, JT had about two bites.  Maybe he was just too excited and nervous.  When we got to the station, it was obvious parking was going to be a difficult task.  But we finally discovered a poorly signed lot, that landed us right behind the station!  Thomas was there when we arrived, but soon left on a trip, which led JT to have a pretty good meltdown.  It seemed like no matter what we said, he was convinced that we had missed our turn to ride!  Eventually he did calm down, and we made our potty stops, picked up our tickets, and checked out some of the activities.  Then Thomas came back.  JT and LW were beyond excited.  Can you tell?
Once they calmed down a bit, we meandered our way over to Thomas and boarded.  LW went right up the stairs and chose the first seat he came to.  Have I mentioned how excited they were?  We had about 10 minutes until the train left, so there was a lot of "sit down" and "keep your hands and head inside" being said.  But eventually it was time.  Thomas' whistle sounded, and the old train started moving (and squeaking and creaking).  Unfortunately, the seats LW chose were not on the scenic side - we had a lovely view of several backyards, trailer parks, parking lots and dumpsters.  But the train was not overly crowded so it was easy enough to look out the window on the other side and see the beautiful mountains (and ominous dark clouds).  But I don't think the boys cared what they saw, as they seemed enthralled by all of it.
It's only about a 25 minute ride, and it goes by quickly when you're wrapped up in your children's excitement.  As we pulled back into the station, those dark clouds opened up and it started to rain.  It wasn't too bad, so we had time to dash over to the "Imagination Station" tent without getting drenched.  This tent was full of hands on activities for the kids, a train table, a lego table, arts and crafts, face painting and temporary tattoos. They boys occupied themselves for quite some time.  The train table was the HOT spot...a line of little boys and girls, all with their hand on a train, going around the table.  There were also a couple of bouncy houses, and JT had fun on one of those.  I saw something about a huge old tortoise roaming around, but we didn't see him.

Eventually it was time to go.  The activities were coming to an end, and the thunder was rumbling.  JT asked if he could say good night to Thomas, so we headed back to see him.  There was a bench for picture taking, and they both were happy to do so.  Even though they had official photographers, they also allowed you to take your own pictures (thankfully...the cheapest package was $16 for two 5x7's!).
You can see how happy our two little boys still were!  JT keeps asking when we'll go back.  We decided to start heading home before stopping for dinner.  On the ride home , when LW wasn't nodding off, he'd all of sudden start asking about Thomas, much to the chagrin of his older brother.  We had a bit of a difficult time finding an appropriate spot for dinner - there weren't many to choose from off the highway that were appropriate (i.e. we were hot and sweaty and had two tired kids so no five star restaurants for us), plus we hadn't figure out the points of interest feature on our GPS yet, so we ended up not stopping until we were about a half hour from home!  However, we now know to choose "on route" instead of "near current location" when searching for a place to eat.  And we also need to turn the volume up so we'll hear when it tells us the exit is coming up.  Live and learn!

We didn't get home until just past nine (we had issues at dinnertime despite a certain 4 year olds promises that he would eat a good supper - that he chose), so the boys didn't get to bed until about 10PM - WAYYYY past their bed time.  Silly me had hopes that this would be the time they actually slept a little later in the morning to make up for the late bedtime.  Instead, they were up bright and early as usual. So back to the grind it was for us today.  But we had a really good day, and I'm so glad I chose to spend my birthday the way we did.  I'd do it again in a heart beat!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Happy Birthday...

...TO ME!  Well, tomorrow it will be my birthday.  As for my age, I can still say I am in my 30's!!! I'm guessing the picture above was taken when I was about 3..or 2?  I don't really know.  My mom might know, but it's a little late to call.  In any case, I was young once, but not anymore.  We're taking the boys for a ride on Thomas the Train.  It was supposed to be a surprise, but I let it slip last night, and now JT is saying he's "shy" and "not sure" about it.  But he's definitely excited.  LW has no clue what I'm talking about, but I can already hear him repeating "TRAIN!!!" over and over and over when we get there.  He's a bit of a train nut.  It should be fun.  It's up in a beautiful area we haven't visited in quite some time, so the 2+ hour ride to get there should pass quickly enough. As long as we don't get too much rain. After all this dry weather we've had lately, it finally rained today and we may get some more tomorrow.  I purposely chose my birthday out of the two available weekends, because I wanted to do SOMETHING on my birthday, even if it's more about the boys than me.  Their happiness makes me happy.

I thought for sure I'd get another post in this week, but here it is a week since my last post.  We've  had a fun summer week, despite the heat.  We went to the splash park again this past Tuesday - the hottest day so far at 98 degrees.  Luckily it always seem to be windy there, so it wasn't too unbearable.  Except that I had to keep chasing after LW as he either took food from strangers, or decided it was his turn to use their toys.  Most of the parents are pretty nice, and said it wasn't a problem, they had plenty.  But that's not exactly the point.  And it's not like I didn't come prepared with food of our own.  I guess it always looks and tastes better when it's somebody else's, even if it's just a cracker.  We also had a play date over at a friend's house.  They have one of those small blow up pools with a filter, so they spent a lot of time in there.  Unfortunately I forgot the swim diapers.  Ever seen a water-logged disposable diaper before?  It's quite a sight, especially when a child is attempting to walk around in it!  I also discovered this week that I like Swiss Chard - sauteed in olive oil, garlic and lemon.  My next "new" food, courtesy of the CSA, will be Okra.  I've gotten a few ideas on how to cook it from some friends. My only memories of eating Okra are from the Cajun stew my mom would make.  We pronounced it "Ka-John", and it was really gumbo.  Silly New Englanders!

So what's next on my list?  Seeing as my next birthday will be a "big one", I'm setting some goals for myself.  I'm not quite daring enough to put them out there for everyone to see.  Hopefully that won't be my downfall, but if history proves correct, the "pressure" of other people knowing will actually make me LESS likely to accomplish them.  I spend my time stressing over what others will think, as opposed to actually doing something.  So for now, I'm keeping them to myself, and I'll see where I am in a year.  And maybe then I'll be ready to share them with my readers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

CSA Saturdays - Summertime!

No, I have NOT forgotten I recently started this blog!  What I need to do is start writing my ideas down, because usually by the time I have a moment to write a post, I can't think of anything.  Which is just crazy when you consider the fact that I have two little boys that are constantly making me rip my hair out by the roots laugh! I'll try to be better - honest!

We're really starting to get some variety in our box of veggies from the CSA now.  Last week we got a handful of peas and green beans, in addition to our lettuce, kale, and rhubarb.  Neither lasted long - we ate the peas raw and in the pod - so crisp and sweet!  The beans were just enough for one meal for us. This week though I got really excited (YES I get excited about vegetables these days!) when Danny from the farm went through the box with me - A few heads of lettuce, kale, beats, swiss chard, zucchini, yellow squash, basil, and parsley! I was a little relieved to see that there wasn't any rhubarb in there.  I like rhubarb, but hubby doesn't. The boys eat it when it's disguised in something like the rhubarb bread I recently made.  That was delicious, but it is full of brown sugar to offset the tartness of the rhubarb.  Swiss chard is another new one for me, like the kale was.  But seeing as Crispy Kale (minus the chili flakes) is now on my list of favorite munchies, I'm sure I'll be just as pleased with Swiss Chard. The basil is nice to see - I am growing some, but I nearly let it fry in the dry, hot sun this week, plus some sort of bug seems to be quite enamored with it since many of the leaves look like green lace.  Of course there are about a million things we can do with the squash.    There will surely be some good eats in our house this week!

We're trying to keep busy and enjoy the summer.  The boys and some friends had a blast this week at the splash pad in a park in a nearby town.  I finally got them this water table and they LOVE it!  Though LW seems to think it is a mini swimming pool, and has taken to standing, sitting and yes laying down on it.  While shouting "swimming".  Sigh..that boy!!  We've gone on some walks to explore the river that flows by the end of our street.  And JT was thrilled when Daddy took him to the beach and they saw where that river empties into the Atlantic Ocean.  Next weekend we're going to go take a ride on Thomas the Train.  LW is loves trains, so he'll be over the moon I'm sure.  I got my hair chopped off today - I need to have JC take a picture so I can update my profile.  We went to dinner tonight, and the boys got to meet and touch Larry the Lobster.  Luckily JC and I don't care for lobster, so we did not have to deal with any trauma had it been served moments later.  Someone at a neighboring table did get some, so we had to answer a few questions about why he was eating Larry's friend.  When we're not out and about, the boys like to play outside in the yard, and explore the little stream (or is it a brook?  I don't know the difference!) that flows along our property.  So I've been doing lots of laundry!  LW went through three outfits today (thanks in part to "swimming" in the water table).  We're not having the rain we had last summer, so there's plenty of outside time to be had.  There's also lots of garden watering to be done!

JT has requested that we all walk down to the river tomorrow, so he can show my some paths he discovered with Daddy.  Should be a nice way to spend Independence Day.  Except that it's supposed to get into the 90's, and I'm not a fan of heat.  But we'll still enjoy it I'm sure.  Happy Birthday America!!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

CSA Saturdays

This is our produce box from our CSA this week (our second).  As you can see, we'll be getting our fill of leafy, green vegetables.  The contents are: 1 package of Romaine hearts, 1 head of red leaf lettuce, 1 head of Boston bibb lettuce, 1 head of iceburg lettuce, 1 bunch of Kale, and 20 stalks of rhubarb.  I've never cooked Kale before, but I know I'll find something to do with it! We've also gotten a gift certificate to the greenhouse both weeks, because the boxes have been kind of "light".  Once we start getting more variety, and fuller boxes, those will stop.  We may start getting zucchini next week.  Woohoo! In the meantime, I'll be getting more creative with our salads, and finding every rhubarb recipe known to man!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things you don't really need to know about me but I'm going to tell you anyway.

I stole this from Audrey over at Barking MadI wasn't tagged so I won't tag anyone.  I just think these things are fun!

1. It's 2AM and you are not home. You are more than likely:
It's unlikely I'm not home at 2AM, but I'd probably be visiting a relative.  I probably haven't been out that late since college! 
2. What's the last thing you spent more than $100 on?
Our CSA membership
3. What do your bank checks look like?
Cute froggies on them
4. Where did the shirt you are currently wearing come from?
Target, I think.  I'd rather not take it off or contort my body to look at the tag.
5. Name something that will be on your Christmas wish list:
Goodness that's a long way off.  My birthday is closer..I'd like a good point and shoot digital camera, for times when I don't feel like lugging the DSLR around.  Or a new iPod touch so I don't have to look at the cracks on my screen anymore.  While I'm wishing, I'd also like an iPad. Oh and World Peace, just so  you don't think I'm shallow or anything.
6. What color is your toothbrush?
Purple and white (shocking, I know!)
7. Name something you collect and tell us about it.
Cookbooks.  It's a real problem, but I can't help it. 
8. Last restaurant you ate at. Who were you with? How was it?
I think it was Weathervane (seafood).  With JC and the kiddos for JC's birthday.  It was delicious!  And thankfully fairly empty so we were not overly embarrassed when JT asked quite loudly "Who farted?" (it was his little brother by the way)
9. Who was the last person you bought a birthday card for?
I believe that would be JC. 
10. What is your worst bad habit?
There are so many, it's hard to choose.  But I'll go with staying up too late.  I have small children that get up at ungodly hours, I should know better.  THANK GOD for coffee!
11. Name a magazine you subscribe to?
Taste of Home, and the one they used to call Light and Tasty, but I can't remember the new title.  As with my cookbooks, I don't usually cook the recipes, but I get ideas
12. Your favorite pizza toppings?
Black olives, onions, mushroom, and sweet peppers.  Though I like to try funky combos when i see them. I like lots of different stuff on my pizza.
13. Whose number were you looking up the last time you used a phone book?
 I have absolutely NO idea!!
14. Other than family, who is the person that you love most?
I can't name just one, but I'll name a group.  My imaginary friends (pretty sure they're all actual people though). 
15. What is the last thing you cooked?
Scallops for lunch yesterday.  I warmed up frozen Mac and Cheese for dinner last night, so I won't count that.
16. Name something you wouldn't want to buy used?
Feminine products
17. Which shoe do you put on first?
My right.  I think.
18. What is the last thing you remember losing?
The key to my car.  It's in the house...somewhere. I used to take it off the chain so I could pre-warm it up in the winter.  I have been using the valet key for months now.  I miss the remote open and lock buttons.
19. What is the ugliest piece of furniture in your house?
Probably the gold loveseat.  But it was my grandparents' and is about 50 years old and still going strong so it's not going anywhere!
20. Last thing you bought and ended up returning?
Something I actually rememembered to return....hmmmm..I think it was the extra winter jacket I bout LW at the beginning of winter when I couldn't decide which size to get him.
21. What perfume/cologne do you wear? If none, why?
I don't wear perfume often anymore, but when I do it's usually Estee Lauder "Beautiful."
22. Your favorite board game?
 Trivial Pursuit, but it's hard to get people to play with me!

23. What was the last board game you played?
24. Where did your vehicle come from?
the dealership about 2 miles away.  but it was "pre-owned"
25. If a movie was made about your life what would the theme song be?
The Hokey Pokey. Because that's what it's all about!
26. You're sad, who can cheer you up easily?
That would have to be my Sister in law S!
27. What was the color of the bridesmaid dresses of the last wedding you went to?
I have no idea!  I remember the bride's dress though.
28. What house cleaning chore do you hate to do the most?
It's a tie...between all of them.
29. What is your favorite way to eat chicken?
Straight from the crockpot.  Don't even need any seasoning. Deeeeeelish!
30. It is your birthday. You hope the cake is?
Big, chocolate, with traditional frosting, not that silly whipped cream stuff which isn't even frosting!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

8 Years and counting

Today I celebrated 8 years of marriage to the love of my life.  There was a time in my life when I honestly believed I would not find someone with whom I'd share my life.  Partly because I am not what you'd call a "social butterfly" and therefore didn't really meet a lot of people. Partly due to my low self-esteem.  But one day early in 1999 I heard a segment on the radio for a website called "Personal Possibilities".  Yes, a dating website.  Before the days of eHarmony or  Never thought I'd go that route, but this one intrigued me so I hopped on the internet (dear Lord I have not idea how I tolerated that S L O W dial-up connection!).  You created a little profile for free, and got to browse the ads for free.  If you wanted to contact someone, it was $1.00 per message.  Not much to lose, so I went for it (but didn't tell anyone!).  I actually met a few guys that were nice enough, but no one clicked. (Strangely enough...they all had the same first and last initials! I guess I have a thing for guys whose names start with J!).  Until that summer, when I (Garbonzogirl) received a message from Cjsquid. We emailed and talked on the phone for a couple weeks before we met for dinner.  I IMMEDIATELY felt comfortable with him.  That rarely happens for me, even to this day.  He told me I was beautiful.  Not just my face, but ME!  And that was the beginning of OUR beautiful relationship.  We dated, we lived together, and on June 8, 2002 we got married. I sobbed like a baby through the whole ceremony (one of my nice loud sniffs was caught on the video!).  And the rest, as they say, is  history.  So thanks to my love for 8 wonderful years, and here's to at least 80 more!!

I leave you with some photos of that beautiful day.

The organ with my Aunt Anna playing. It's not a church - it's music hall built specifically for the organ. AMAZING! My Aunt originally said no when we asked her to play because it was intimidating. So thankful she changed her mind! And please say a little prayer. In the very bottom of the picture you can see my Uncle Jimmy taking her picture. He passed away this Sunday at the age of 83.
The organ, with my aunt playing


In our "limo" a.k.a. my sister's car driven by her husband. No, JC did not down a glass of champagne before the picture was even taken!  He doesn't like champagne so he just chose to toast with and empty glass!
On the way to the reception

The beautiful cake, baked by the wife of one of JC's coworkers.  She was the caterer as well.  And yes, we saved the top layer and ate it on our first anniversary.
The cake

Friday, June 4, 2010

My heart is full

Before I became a Mom, I thought I knew some things.  I thought I "knew" it would be hard.  I thought I "knew" it would be the best decision I ever made.  But in all  honesty, despite listening to all my Mommy friends' and relatives' advice, I didn't really KNOW.  And I didn't know how conflicting it would be either.

Today hasn't been anything out of the ordinary.  LW had me awake at about 5:20am (maybe earlier - I was sleepy and I'm blinder than a bat without my glasses or contacts), JT was up shortly thereafter.  Daddy was in the shower so they joined me in bed.  Sometimes I can turn on the TV and it will occupy them while I doze a little.  Not this morning.  They were fidgety! And as usual, I went to bed too late last night (got hooked by a new show on VH1 - "The OCD Project" - and I'm fascinated!!), and I'm not exactly a morning person, so I started out a bit..oh how shall I put this...GRUMPY.  JC gets them set up with breakfast downstairs before he leaves for work, but after that it's time to be Mommy.  But did I mention I am not a morning person???  So until I get some coffee in me (I was not a coffee drinker until..oh...about 4.5 years ago..hmmmmm) they'd better behave themselves or the volume gets a little loud.  But once the caffeine kicks in, I'm usually OK and relatively pleasant.  And such was the case this morning.  I was entertained by LW shedding his PJ's in a not so graceful fashion.  And JT re-discovered the whoopie cushion that was included in a birthday card at some point.  Lucky me!  Eventually we made it back upstairs to get dressed.  As usual, it took me about a half hour to get dressed, since they just can't leave me alone for five minutes straight!  For some reason, this time I turned on the TV, and Bonnie Hunt was on, talking to a guy from Animal Planet, who of course brought some animals.  The kids once again made their way into our room and the animals caught their attention.  Which then prompted some wildlife imitations, as well as some wrestling.  Some days this would bother me, but today it just warmed my heart.  This is one of the days that they play well together and the squeals of laughter outnumber the cries of frustration or pain.  But that's not the point where my I felt my heart felt like it would burst. That occurred after lunch, before nap.  I was sitting on the couch, while the two of them sat together on the recliner.  Content. Not complaining about anything or anyone.  Happy. I sat there staring at them for a while, thinking about how cranky I was at the very early beginning of my day, but how happy I was at that moment.

It amazes me at how my emotions as a mom can run the whole spectrum in just a few days or hours.  Tuesday was what I considered the start of summer vacation.  JT finished preschool for the year on Friday, but Daddy was home for the long weekend so that doesn't count.  Tuesday was NOT one of the good days where they boys play well or happily together.  I found myself wondering out loud "how long until September???"  But today is a good one, so I'm happy that I get to be home with my boys.  I get to be the main influence in their lives.  And I get to feel my heart about to burst with love, even when it's just an ordinary, simple day.  So yes, my heart is more than full.  And I certainly wouldn't change a thing. Well, I would like to get more sleep.  Some day.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vegetables, and flowers and tractors (and a beauty queen) - Oh My!

A few weeks back, I joined the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture - you are buying a share of the farm) at our local nursery/farm.  Starting sometime in June, each Saturday morning we'll go pick up a box full of local produce - enough to feed a family of four.  I'm REALLY excited about this.  We have our own garden, but it's showing some wear and tear, and JC is working on correcting that.  So we'll get some things planted in there, but we're not sure exactly what and when at this point.  So after hemming and hawing for oh, about 6 months, I finally bit the bullet and signed up.  Had I made this decision prior to January 31st, I could have gotten a 5% discount.  Oh well - live and learn.  There is a bit of a gamble involved when you sign up for a CSA.  First, you don't know exactly what you'll get each week.  But I find that exciting, and hope it will inspire me to try new things.  And maybe I'll get those picky eaters I live with to try new things as well.  Second, if it's a tough growing year, there may not be a lot to pick from.  But the the thought of all that fresh, local produce has me practically giddy so I'm willing to take the chance.  Third - it's pretty much a given that come fall, we'll be getting butternut squash in our box.  I DESPISE butternut squash with a passion, and never cook it for my family.  But I know plenty of people that do like it.  Maybe I'll put a bow on it and give it out as Christmas gifts!

This morning they had an open house, so I took JT and LW down to check out the tractors.  They had a blast!  They also managed to turn on the lights on each of the tractors, as well as an alarm on one of them, requiring employees to come over and figure out how to turn them off.  I had a very hard time getting LW to get off his favorite.  But I did need to buy some flowers and a couple of tomato plants (we'll surely be getting some through the CSA, but I think it's in my genes to grow tomatoes.  I'd feel strange if I didn't) so over we went to select our plants.  I think JT may have smelled every single flower in that greenhouse!  And thankfully, somehow I managed to keep LW from picking any of the "fwowers".  As we were getting ready to pay, we were informed that a photographer (and his student intern) from the free monthly paper wanted to take pictures of the boys because they looked like they had a lot of fun on the tractors.  Well being the proud Mama that I am, I said of course  - despite knowing that I'd once again have to deal with LW's tantrum when it was time to get him off the tractors (oh two is SUCH a fun age!).  JT LOVES the camera!  He has the biggest, brightest smile I've seen, and is glad to pose whenever asked.  LW is in his own little world, determined to do whatever he has his mind set on.  So you may get some good shots, you may get lots of shots of the top of his head!  But I'm pretty sure they got some good one of both, so I'll be looking for the June issue of that paper soon!

By this time, we had been there longer than I anticipated and it was getting to be time for lunch.  Somehow I managed to pry them off the tractors once again (though not without a few tears being shed).  Then the photographer announces "there's Mrs. Massachusetts".  She was scheduled to be there, but arrived early.  When JT saw her, he said "she's beautiful".  How sweet is that?  Then as she got closer to us, he told her she was beautiful, showed her his binoculars, then proceeded to talk her ear off!  She was very sweet and gracious with him.  All the while I was trying to keep LW from running out in traffic and whatnot.  But eventually I managed to pull them both away, and off we went. And I figure it will take me about a week to do an hours worth of gardening and get those petunias and tomatoes planted, since no matter how engrossed the little ones are in whatever they are doing, as soon as I start they are right on my heels.  Sigh....

Monday, May 10, 2010

Marinated Eggplant

When I was a kid, I didn't like eggplant much.  I thought eggplant parmesan was OK, as long as there was enough sauce and cheese covering it.  But there was one way I did like it...very much.  Marinated Eggplant. I was always very happy to see that jar or bowl of it in the fridge after my mom made some.  So the other day when I went to the farm store and saw some beautiful eggplant, I snatched up a couple with this recipe in mind.  And so I share it with you!  I always at least double it, especially when eggplant are growing in my garden .

(food photographer I am not, but it would be weird to post a recipe without a picture! Not sure why the picture stretched out though)

1 small eggplant
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped pimento (roasted red peppers work well too)
Small clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbs chopped capers
2 Tbs chopped parsley (forgot to buy it - oops!)
1/8 tsp powdered dill (I used regular dried dill)
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/3 cup oil (I use extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 cup vinegar (I use white. White wine vinegar might work well, but I'd stay away from a colored vinegar)

Peel and cut the eggplant into cubes.  Cook until tender. (I steamed mine this time using this micro-cooker from Pampered Chef, my new favorite kitchen gadget).  Then combine all ingredients and chill.  I always leave mine in there overnight.  It works really well as a relish or side dish, especially for a summer barbecue.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Adios Amigos! And other cute things my kids say

Since JT is 4.5 years old, his speech is USUALLY pretty clear and understandable. At least to us.  But he still has a few words that he just can't seem to say right.  Like "mucis" instead of music, and the proverbial "pasghetti" instead of spaghetti.  I only make a minor effort to correct him, because it's just too darned cute, and I'll miss those words when they're gone. Now however, he says phrases or sayings that make us chuckle.  For instance, a couple of months ago at preschool they used "101 Dalmations" as a way to teach numbers.  So now he points out the number 100 if he sees it, and wants to count to 100 together.  And he also started telling us he has "100 energy".  He doesn't know what it really means, but I still don't like the sound of it!  So today when I went to pick him up at preschool, I couldn't go in because LW has been getting up before the crack of dawn and fell asleep on the way there (again!).  They sent him out the emergency door (after disarming the alarm!!), right in front of where I parked.  Normally when you go in to pick them up, they have a white board outside his class with a little description of what they did that day.  Of course I didn't get to see that today so I had to get all my information from him. A 4 year old...enough said!  Before we even got in the car, he said "hey, there's AJ!  Adios Amigos!".  To which AJ's mom and I both chuckled.  I assumed he got this from Dora the Explorer, though thought it was an odd time for him to start using the phrase.  Well after we were in the car and started leaving, he had his window open, and started yelling it to everyone he saw!  After I shushed the heck out of him so he wouldn't wake up LW, it dawned on me.  Today is Cinqo De Mayo so they must have done something about that in school.  When I asked JT, sure enough they had indeed had a Cinqo De Mayo snack and taught them Adios Amigos.  How about that...he really does learn while he's there!  Now I just need to figure out what they had for snack.  Despite the fact that as usual, snack was his favorite part of the day (and apparently "delicioso", pronounced as well as he pronounces spaghetti), he couldn't remember what they had.  The description I've gotten from him, in bits and pieces, is it was long and orange, not cheese or sweet, and the teachers got it from the refrigerator by the door they go out for recess.  Okey Dokey!  Any ideas?

Then there is LW.  He is going through another language explosion. He doesn't just come up with new words everyday (my favorites being Chocweet for Chocolate, though it's often used to describe other brown food items, and "HUG!") he's also using/repeating phrases ("Hey? Where'd it go?" for one).  The other day we were chatting with a neighbor as he walked by.  S is a friendly guy and will talk your ear off.  Well he's no match for our chatty little boys, who run to him as soon as they see him.  You can tell he doesn't understand LW, but he plays along.  After the conversation was finished and we were saying goodbye, LW chimed in with "haveaniceday"!  It ran all together like that, but was clear as day otherwise. Not something I expected to hear from my not-so-little-anymore boy.

Listening to their language development is one of my favorite parts of motherhood.  Hearing the little voice repeat something in context though they probably don't understand, or later realizing they DO understand what they are saying, is just amazing.  Their little minds absorb so much information in a short time.  But it's one of those bittersweet moments as well, because as I watch them develop in leaps and bounds, I realize this is one of those things I'm really going to miss when my boys are all grown up.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor

I created this blog a couple of months ago.  But I've had a hard time getting it started.  I have post ideas in my head, but none really seemed right for the first.  And I'm not really sure if this one is any better, but I'm feeling inspired.

It's shortly after 9am on a Sunday, and I've been up for almost 4 hours.  YAWN!  No, I'm not a morning person.  But I have small children.  And the youngest - The Little Wanderer (LW), who turns 2 in just two weeks (sniff, sniff) - recently discovered how to get out of his crib.  So he does at every opportunity.  Last night it took almost an hour to get him to stay in his crib.  And well, this morning at 5:20 he was ready for the day!  Have I mentioned I'm not a morning person?  ANYWHO....I am sitting at my kitchen table, trying to keep LW out of the cabinets...everything really.  And yelling upstairs to his big brother (JT - 4.5 yrs old) that the neighbor's dog Stanley is indeed a boy, and he got that way because that is how he was born.  And I hear Daddy up there, explaining that he (JT) will always be a boy.  We love our neighbors.  They are a couple in their late 20's, who moved in last June.  Just as we were when we moved here 10 years ago.  T is out there with his Dad, tilling some land for his new garden.  T is great with kids.  He doesn't seem to mind when they come running over to play with Stanley (LW prefers to sit on him).  Despite not having his own children, he does not seemed bothered...or JT's endless questions and seemingly random comments.  If you have children, you know what I'm talking about!  S is nice, though not quite as outgoing as T.  And she's more nervous about the dog with the kids (they only recently adopted Stanley, a 4 yr old golden lab).  But that's OK too.  Really, we couldn't have asked for better neighbors to move in next door (this is in NO way influenced by the yummy cookies they brought over at Christmas!).

I feel a tinge of sadness when I say that.  When we moved in 10 years ago, we also said we couldn't have asked for a better neighbor.  A few weeks after we moved in, Ginny (in her late 70's at the time) came over (in her blouse, slacks, and flats - a sight we grew accustomed to over the years) while we were outside and apologized for not coming over sooner.  Her husband of 50+ years had passed away the previous month, so she was not herself.  That was just a hint of the kind woman we grew to love.  She had been in that house over 50 years, so she knew EVERYBODY, past and present.  We had many conversations about the neighborhood - and our house (built circa 1900 - it had gone through many transformations and tenants in her time).  But it was not gossip..she never had a bad word to say about anyone.  She didn't call children bad, they were "spirited".  The terrible two's were 'trying twos'. She let people be who they wanted (including her children and grandchildren) as long as they were happy.  She would often say how much she loved this neighborhood, because the neighbors were always there if you needed them, but not if you didn't.  She also loved children, and was so excited when we told her we were expecting our first.  When the time came to have him, she knew I went to the hospital to be induced.  JT was not quite ready to be born, so we were there for a while.  She left a few messages on our machine wanting to know what was happening.  When we came home, we saw she was there so we went over to introduce him to her even before we came in the door!  And over the next few years, JT and I had many delightful visits with Ginny, sitting in her kitchen, chatting about whatever was on our minds. And she always thought of JT at Christmas and his birthdays.

But Ginny was getting on in years, and her health began to decline noticeably about 2 years ago, just before LW was born.  She had always been an active woman, but was finally forced to slow down, much to her chagrin.  I hadn't seen her that much while I was pregnant with him, partly because it was winter and partly because I was sick as a dog much of the time.  When I brought LW over to meet her, she was having a hard time breathing.  But she was still delighted to meet yet another new life, since she loved children so much.  Over that summer, we didn't really see her much.  I didn't know how I'd contain JT as well as LW. That Halloween, she was having an even harder time breathing, yet she insisted on handing candy out to all the children she loved so much.  That was the last time we saw her.  As the winter approached, so did our colds and other illnesses, and I didn't want to pass anything on to her.  She passed away that March, but I didn't find out until about 10 days later when I noticed her house being cleaned out, then found her obituary online. I felt guilt - boy did I feel guilt!  That we hadn't been able to say goodbye.  But more so, I felt sad that we had lost a dear friend and neighbor, and that she had suffered so much at the end. To this day I shed an occasional tear when I think of the neighbor we are missing, and the fact that though JT enjoyed our visits as much as I did, he no longer remembers her.

But I've learned a little from the experience too.  Don't assume that it's a bad time to visit.  Maybe it wouldn't have been a good idea to bring the boys over in her last year, but I certainly could have gone over myself for a few minutes.  To chat, or even just to say hi and see if she needed anything (not that she would  have accepted the offer!).  And I certainly could have called!!  So I'm trying not to be as shy or socially awkward as I once was.  I'm not in any one's face, but I'll be there if they need me.