Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Classy Thanksgiving


I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I hope all of you did too!  The best part of my holiday is pictured above...Oh, Mr. Man-please stay six forever...

Unlike last year, I did not host 237 people at our house. Instead we went to my in-law's house which meant I had blissfully little responsibility around the whole event.  

All I made was this, my favorite Thanksgiving side dish...


It's my version of Classy Green Bean Casserole 
found on my go to cooking website, Allrecipes.com 


You read that right, it's green bean casserole-only classy.  How great is that?  I feel like maybe Ron Burgundy submitted this recipe...

It's actually a really great version of green bean casserole.  And I have to say, the way I make it ups the "Classy" factor ten fold.  No canned green beans for me, thank you.  That's not classy enough.  I like to use whole fresh green beans and then I blanch them.  Also, I keep the crushed butter soaked buttery crackers on top but I don't leave out the french fried onions as in the recipe.  I feel without french fried onions, green bean casserole has no reason to exist. I mix them into the casserole itself.  When I serve this to my father-in-law I also add shredded cheddar on top. ( The man won't eat vegetables unless there's cheese involved.  We live in Wisconsin so that's really not that weird, I guess).  In the version pictured I also threw caution to the wind and risked making this recipe too classy by using whole wheat butter crackers instead  of the regular kind.

Class...it's my new thing. (Name the movie!)

So here's my version of the allrecipes recipe:

Classy Green Bean Casserole

2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 container french fried onion
1 sleeve buttery crackers (like Ritz) coarsely crushed(use the whole wheat variety if feeling extra classy)
2 Tbsp butter melted
1 cup shredded cheddar
salt and pepper to taste

After washing and trimming the beans, dump them into a large pot of boiling water for a minute or so then remove and immediately rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process(in other words, blanch the suckers).

In a large bowl, combine the beans, soup, sour cream, fried onions, and salt and pepper. Transfer to a 9x13 inch pan.

Top with shredded cheese and then the crushed crackers soaked in the melted butter.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees or until the casserole starts to bubble and the crackers are browned.

Sadly, I didn't get this post up before Thanksgiving so it's too late for you to enjoy this deliciousness.  However, there's no reason you can't have yourself a Classy Little Christmas by serving this dish at Christmas dinner, now is there?

Right now, however, I'm actually making my other favorite dish Hamburger Noodle Pleaser to bring to my brother and sister-in-law's house tomorrow...they had a baby boy last week and I can't wait to drive down to Illinois so we can squeeze meet him!  The Pleaser is a perfect "Hi! You Just Had a Baby! Here's some Food!" dish to bring new parents on account of the way it freezes so beautifully, just FYI.

Once again, I hope you all had a wonderful, classy Thanksgiving and that your hearts are all filled to the brim with thankfulness...I know mine is.

xoxo
Jen



Monday, November 14, 2011

Memory Lane

For the last couple years I've created an annual family photo book at Kodak Gallery.  The books are a lot of work to put together but I'm so glad I do it. They really turn out amazingly cool. 

Our 2010 album arrived in the mail today (yes, I realize it's nearly 2012, why do you ask?) and our family had so much fun pouring through it this evening. It's unbelievable how much the kids have grown in nearly two years.  And how chubby their faces seemed to be in 2010.  Their 2011 faces are positively gaunt in comparison.  It's absurd.

When I put together the books, I try to make it a photo journal of our year which means I do my best to include not only the happy, smiley times but also the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Speaking of the latter, you should see the picture of me on Easter 2010-the kids weren't the only ones with chubby faces that year, apparently. Yikes!).  There are pictures scattered here and there of tantrums and meltdowns and general disgruntled-ness.  

There's also these pictures, which struck me when I realized they were taken exactly one year ago to the day:



How did this happen?  Isn't it obvious? Mr. Man dove on the ground to catch a Beanie Baby he himself launched into the air and his eyebrow accidentally collided with the sharp metal lip of a metal toy bucket.  Duh.  I've literally never seen so much blood.  Dark, thick blood pouring into my baby's eye.  Horrifying.

From his smiling face in these photos you would never guess that an hour before this I was holding him down in the ER as they sewed him up while he screamed to me with those gorgeously green pleading eyes, "Make them stop, Mama! Make them stop! Pleaaaase, Mama!"  My eyes are welling up and my heart is palpitating as the memory passes through me right now...*shudder*

Have you ever seen the movie Kramer Vs. Kramer? 


It's an Oscar winner from 1979 starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.  It's about a couple in NYC going through a horrible divorce and custody battle over their young son.  I watched that movie when I was very young and it's always stuck with me.  There's a scene in which Dustin Hoffman's character takes his son to the ER for stitches that always horrified me...even when I was little I always sensed that the experience was far worse for the parent then the child...It's uncanny how identical the scene from that movie was to the scene in my own life one year ago tonight. Rent this movie soon if you've never seen it!  It's so, so good.

But I digress...or, wait. Can you digress if you never really had a point to begin with?  Maybe not...

I think this is my point...making an annual photo books is a gigantic time consuming pain in the ass (all the editing and sorting and uploading of photos and what have you) but a very rewarding pain in the ass.  I'm so glad I force myself to do it every year..."These are memories frozen in time, people!"  (Can you name that movie? It's pretty random, I'll be impressed if you can!) And I'm glad I force myself to remember even the less then perfect because it's all valuable in the end.

My other point is that I am glad that it's not the late 70's anymore on account of the really bad hair.

In summary, go forth and make a photo album everyone (preferably while watching Kramer Vs. Kramer) so you can record for all time your fabulous 2011 hair!!  You won't regret it!


xoxo
Jen

P.S. I'm happy to report that Mr. Man's scar is barely noticable and that all he remembers of that incident is that the nurse gave him TWO cherry popsicles when he was all done. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pieces of Me

Have I ever mentioned time management is not one of my strengths?  Yeah, so...it's not.  As you may have noticed, I've been struggling a bit to fit blogging into my crazy little life.  Which is actually ironic given that the purpose, as eluded to by the title, of this blog was to forge out a little something just for myself...looks like everyone else but me has been using up all the little pieces of me.  I'm here again to take a piece back.

I have fallen off the "making myself a priority wagon" so to speak...I'm only human.  This past summer and early fall marked the longest time I've ever been, uh..on the wagon.  So that's something.  It shouldn't be too hard to climb back on this time. The wagon doesn't seem to be moving quite as quickly as it has in the past.  Are we tired of the wagon analogy yet?  I am.  I no longer even know what I'm talking about so I can't imagine where your brains have wandered off to during this last paragraph.  Let's move on, shall we?

So, as you may or may not recall, I work during the school year and stay at home with my kiddos during the summer.  The transition back to work for me can be a doozie. I wrote about that here.

It's been a hectic start to the year work wise, more so than most I would say.  I am hanging in there, though.  My kids are alive and happy.  I'm alive and happy. My husband is alive and happy and still seems to generally like being married to me on most days, so that's good. My home is admittedly a little sticky.  The laundry's threatening to overtake us all and there have been a few mornings that I sent my children out the door in socks from the infamous basket of partner-less socks.  That basket where socks go to die.  (I'm not the only one who has one of those, right?) I have not lost my optimism.  I'm just really, really busy.  All.The.Time.  

Ooohh, also, I've taken on a new little obsession....extreme couponing.  My BFF got me into it and it's so addictive.  I've taken it to a level of seriousness that is somewhat embarrassing to admit.  I've been at it for about 6 weeks and I'm really starting to see some serious results.  I lopped off about $70 a week from our grocery bills on average...it's so exciting.  Don't laugh!

 I was just going to post a pic of my insane coupon stash but realized that the pic I'm thinking of is on my phone and not my laptop.  I promise to post it soon.  Instead, I'll leave you with a few pictures of October here in Wisconsin






Fall in the Midwest is so freaking beautiful it almost makes up for the horrid, mind numbing cold of winter.  Almost.

And one last picture before I go off to bed at last....


Me, circa 1994.  How jealous are you of my Fly Girl outfit?  If this were a better image you would be able to see my high waisted verging on stonewashed jeans.  Good thing you can't see them or you would be too green with envy to go on with your day...


We'll catch up more soon...I pinky swear.


xoxo
Jen

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget



This book was just published a few weeks ago...it tells the story of Andrea Haberman, her family, and her fiancee, Al in the aftermath of 9/11/01.  Andrea was 25 years old and grew up in a small town not far from mine in Wisconsin.  She was on her very first business trip to NYC-it was the first time she had ever been there.  She had a meeting at 8:30am on the 92nd floor of the north tower of the WTC.  She was nervous and she got there early.  Andrea never made it out.

Al and Andrea met in college where they both attended with my BFF, Lisa, a good friend of Al's.  I got to know Al over the years because of Lisa (I inadvertently almost got him kicked out of the dorms freshman year-long story) and I met Andrea on a few occasions.  She was extremely shy and I don't know that she said more than a few words to me-but it was obvious that she was incredibly sweet.  

The book is both heart breaking and heart warming all at once.  I can't recommend it enough.  It illustrates that 9/11 did not just affect New Yorkers-it's effects stretched throughout the entire country and beyond.


A portion of the proceeds from Just a Few Sleeps Away will go to 9/11 charities.  Please check it out....


We must never, ever forget.




xoxo
Jen

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back to Reality

Reality is eeking its way back into our lives slowly but surely.  We've had two partial weeks of school to prepare us for the big five day week coming up.  So far, so good.  I've managed to get up on time, get both kids fed and dressed and out the door with everything they need for school, preschool, or day care (depending on the day) and I've even managed to shower myself every day as well.  And after I showered, I've even remembered to put on an outfit that does not involve my sparkly Old Navy flip flops and my drawstring cargo shorts and go to work.  It's all about taking pleasure in life's little accomplishments.

I can feel summer sneaking away from us.  It thinks I haven't noticed. The temperature is still mostly pushing 80 on most days but there have been a few days in the high 60's.  And then every now and then, and it's happening more and more frequently, I catch the tiniest whiff of fall in the air.  It's out there lurking-just waiting in the wings to jump onto the scene in all it's glory. 

I kind of wish it would get on with it.  We're no longer around to enjoy the summer sun during the day anyway, we might as well get to pull out the big sweaters, grab a big ol' mug of hot apple cider and go on a friggin' hayride or something. 

As always, the passage of time startles me.  I mean, seriously-I need to start pulling together Halloween costumes soon!  How did that happen? How is it that my first born is a first grader and has no front teeth and my baby is in preschool and can dress herself?  Have I seriously been married for close to a decade?  I swear to God I just got my driver's license and went shopping for prom dresses two weeks ago.  Amazing.

Anyways, here is a photo tour of the last few weeks of my silly little life to catch you up:



The night before school started.  Popsicles on the front porch...we weren't going to let summer leave us without a fight.



Miss A's very first day of preschool.  I know she's mine and all but come on? Does it get much cuter?  I think not




Mr. Man's first day of first grade in all his snaggle-toothed glory.  He is my cautious child and was a little nervous on this day.  But he was brave and he did it.  He is my hero.





My heart can't handle looking at this one for too long. 




Beautiful veggies!



 

The late summer harvest from my garden....not bad for a first timer!







A double rainbow over our backyard after a storm!
 


 


The Instagram version....I love this!










The sunflowers on the other side of the yard at sunset....these suckers got to be about 8 feet tall! 









A dreamy shot of Miss A playing dress up.  One of my all time favorite pictures.  Ever.










 This was taken just a few hours ago...my boys heading off to a Brewer game. I sense an instant classic.





 So that's what we've been up to.

And now I must brush up on my crock pot recipes and get ready for the work week.  I think I can, I think I can...


Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone,

xoxo
Jen

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday List

I love lists so I think I'm going to make the Friday List a regular thing here at FUMC.

In keeping with my theme of gratitude...

A List of Reasons Why Going Back to Work Isn't That Bad

1.
I have a freakish love for new school supplies, always have.  I was so excited last year when I got to relive the thrill of shopping for school supplies with my own child for the first time. ( I took that photo, by the way!  One guess how I did it).


I added this one just for you THL!  Photo Credit: Tracy Weston Photography


2.  When I go to the bathroom at work, generally speaking, my coworkers rarely bust in and ask me to make them a snack or try to climb onto my lap.  So, that'll be nice. 

3. 




Thursday Treat Days-Every Thursday is "treat day" at one of my schools.  We all take turns to bring in a smorgasbord of goodies.  I purposely arrange my schedule so I'm always in that building on Thursdays.  That is the main reason why I always lose 10 pounds every summer and promptly gain it back by Thanksgiving. C'est la vie...

4.  During the 8 hours I'm at work, it's far less likely that I will have to deal with someone else's poop than if I'm at home.  I work in elementary schools so I can't say it's completely out of the realm of possibilities on any given work day but I'll settle for far less likely.  After 6 + years of parenthood under my belt I'm so over other people's poop.

5.  On a daily basis I will witness other people's children having tantrums, making bad choices, and saying horrifyingly inappropriate things which will remind me that my little devils angels are not the only kids that behave that way which is always good for my self esteem. 

6.   I will no longer be forced to listen to the voices of Phineas, Ferb, or Candice during the day.  If you don't know what I'm talking about consider yourself very, very lucky.


7.


Grey's will be back on the air!  Is Meredith going to have to raise the baby she and Derrick adopted by herself?  Is she really going to get fired from Seattle Grace?  All of these burning questions will soon be answered, thank God.

8.  Apple picking!  I've never picked apples or made my own apple sauce before and this year the Martha in me is just giddy with the possibility of trying it.  You may recall from earlier this summer that I have an odd fascination with picking my own fruit so it's going to be fun to carry that little quirk into another season.

9.  Snow Days!!  There's almost always a snow day around here every winter...a day that's either so cold or so blizzardy that they cancel school.  When you work at a school that means, they cancel work!  There's nothing like getting that glorious phone call at 5 am in which a recorded voice tells you to stay in bed cause the apocalyptic weather conditions are preventing everyone from going anywhere....ahhhh, I love a good snow day!


10.  Having to go to work every day forces me to shower every day.  That's a good thing for everyone.  There may or may not have been a day or two this summer during which I counted running in the sprinkler with the kids as my shower for the day....

Have a great weekend everyone!

xoxo
Jen

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sunshiny Day

 It's not actually a sunshiny morning here in Wisconsin (my part of Wisconsin anyway)-it's foggy and gross.  The humidity is suffocating.  Thank goodness I don't have thick, curly hair.  I hear people with thick, curly hair turn into show poodles on days like this.  Days like this actually give me a rare chance to feel grateful for my boring, stick straight locks. 

Gratitude.  It's my new thing.

So, in effort to cheer myself (and perhaps, you!) up this fine foggy morning, I thought I'd share a picture I took yesterday of the sunflower I planted near my deck that finally decided to grace us with its presence and bloom already!



Isn't this dreamy!  I'm in love with this photo.  It's another one I took with my iPhone using Instagram.  I know, again with the me and the Instagram but I can't help it--I'm all about it lately. 

*Disclaimer*(I'm not getting paid to plug Instagram or anything.  I hear you can plug stuff on your blog for money but I am way not cool enough to even know how to go about that.  If I ever become that cool I will let you know.  But, for now, I'm just innocently enthusiastic about Instagram.  Thank you.)


Sunflowers make me happy...they're just such a happy flower, don't you think?  (I have Meg Ryan on the brain.  Name that movie.  Hint: she was actually talking about daisies, not sunflowers). 

Have a happy day (foggy, sunny, or otherwise)!

xoxo
Jen

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Summer's End, Peace, and Gratitude

Summer is rapidly winding down to a grinding halt.  This seems barely possible as it seems it only started a week or so ago.  Summer's yearly end brings with it big changes for our family.  It marks the end of the Stay At Home Mom portion of my year and begins the Frantic Working Mom part. 

Every year I try to enter this transition with gratitude and peacefulness but it doesn't always work.  Gratitude for the fact that I get to have the best of both worlds...I get to spend the summer home with my babes and I also get to spend a portion of the year focusing on the career I've worked so hard to establish.  The career I spent so many years in school for.  I get to make a difference in the lives of children and their families and I have time every day with other adults...many of whom have grown to be great friends.  Gratitude that I have a job at all when so many are without one now a days.

The real truth though, the truth that's hard to say out loud, is that the career is not where my inner heart lies. That, if given the opportunity, I would give it up in three seconds flat.  The most raw and honest parts of me would give anything to stay home full time.  That desire came as a shock to me...I never saw myself as a SAHM while I was in college and grad school.  I knew I wanted to be a mother and I purposely chose a career that would give me more time at home but I never ever expected that I wouldn't want to work.  That I wouldn't need the title of "Psychologist" as a building block for my identity.  That "Mom" would be enough. 

The harsh reality is that due to an intricate web of circumstances both financial and otherwise, staying home full time is not an option for me.  So that's that.  And that is where the need for gratitude and peace comes in.  I have compromised as much as I can and reduced my hours starting last year.  This year I will be working every day from 8:00-2:30, which means I get to be home to get my boy off the school bus at 4:00.  There are so many working moms who would kill for my schedule and I need to remember that.  I have it pretty good and complaining seems selfish and ungrateful.  So I rarely let myself go to that place. 

 Last summer I spent the last week before going back to school in a crying jag.  I was angry and desperately sad and feeling sorry for myself.  This was due in part to the horrible summer of stress and anxiety we had in trying to sell our house and all of the complications and set backs we faced.  I entered the school year in a tizzy of uncertainty and angst and I think that set me off on a path to have one of the worst years of my life both personally and professionally. 

This year is different...I can already feel it.  We had the most wonderful, relaxing summer.  It was filled with fun and adventure and quality time and bliss. We gratefully enjoyed every minute in our new house and our new town. I took time to take care of myself and do some things just for me.  One of them was starting this blog....which has upped my happiness factor immensely! (I have successfully been filling up my cup if anyone is wondering).  While I'm a little sad about the end of my favorite season...for the first time in many years parts of me are actually looking forward to the school year ahead!

Whenever people have said that they can't wait for Fall and all of the things that come with it...cool weather, big sweaters, football, apples and pumpkins, beautiful colors in the trees....I would always think to myself, "I love those things too, it's too bad I can't look forward to Fall."  I had an epiphany this year....I CAN look forward to Fall if I decide to.  Huh.  Imagine that!  And so I am.  And that's that...PEACE!

Here are some pics of one of those adventures this summer.  We started off just going on a quick walk to the park and ended up jumping into one of the lakes in our clothes with wild abandon.  I took these shots with my iPhone!  I used the Instagram app on my phone to process some of these....I'm so in love with this app!  Check it out!










See what I mean?  Bliss. 

Savour these last weeks of Summer everyone!

xoxo
Jen

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hamburger Noodle Pleaser

You know when you read through a recipe and you get to the very end and there's a note about how that particular recipe would be just fantastic if you doubled it and froze one portion for "a later use"?  Yeah.  I often think to myself that that would be a wonderful and wonderfully practical idea but for some reason I rarely follow through with it.  Something about freezing main dishes and heating them up later just seems overwhelming to me.  I'm not sure why. Logically, I realize that makes no sense.  In the big scheme of life's overwhelming tasks freezing half of a casserole probably rates very low.  But still.

This is not one of those times.  A few weeks ago I actually made a big double batch of one of my most favorite casseroles and last night it was our dinner.  We had a lazy Sunday around here.  There was some cleaning and organizing to be sure but mostly it was just lolling around.  It was nice.  When dinner time rolled around it took us all by surprise.  It was then that I looked in the freezer in a desperate attempt to come up with something to feed my family. When my eyes rested upon the frosty casserole dish in the back I fell deeply in love with Jen From Three Weeks Ago.  The Jen that so conscientiously froze a yummy casserole for "a later use."  Jen From Three Weeks Ago rocks.  I heart her.

And now I am sharing this delightful little gem of a comfort food recipe with you.  Even the name just makes me tingle with delight.  This recipe originated from a lovely woman named Allison Wagner.  Allison Wagner is a friend of my BFF Lisa's.  I have never met Allison Wagner but I've heard nothing but good things.  Sometimes I think maybe she's not actually a real person but a mythical figure that represents all that is good and perfect about noodle casseroles.  I can't help but have a little girl crush on her.  Her casserole is just so damn good, how could you not?  You'll understand when you try it...and when you do, I highly recommend you follow through with the note at the end and freeze half of it for "a later use" like a lazy Sunday in your future.   I promise you that you will fall deeply in love with You Three Weeks From Now. 

Allison Wagner's Hamburger Noodle Pleaser
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ingredients:

1 package softened cream cheese
12  ounces sour cream
1 lb. ground beef
3/4 cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
pepper
2 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
1 16 ounce package extra wide egg noodles
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Directions:

Preheat oven 350.

Combine softened cream cheese and sour cream.

Cook beef, drain fat and add onion, garlic, salt, sugar, pepper, and tomato sauce. 
Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes while you cook noodles. 
Layer half the noodles, cheese, meat sauce, then repeat layers and top with cheese. 
Bake until bubbly, about 30-45 minutes. 
Can be divided into 2 small casseroles and be frozen for later use. 

I fully intended to take a photo of the finished casserole for you but I was so excited to dig in that I completely forgot.   It's that good!


Enjoy!

xoxo
Jen

Thursday, August 11, 2011

When You Are Six

My little boy is not so very little anymore.  Six years old is quite big if you didn't know this.  When you are six you have a mouth full of missing teeth, you shout weird grown-up-ish phrases like, "Yeah, Baby!", and you no longer have any interest in hearing The Very Quiet Cricket over and over again before bed but instead, enjoy having the entire series of Harry Potter read to you and you ask intricate questions about plot and character development along the way.  It's mind boggling.

It's mind boggling because when you are six, your mother still has vivid memories of the extreme heat during those weeks of summer before you were born, and she can remember talking to you and calling you by name when you were still in her womb.  And the memories of the 26 agonizing hours it took to bring you into the world are still fresh.  Very fresh.  Trust me.  

How is it that there are 10 hour days spent with young children that seem to crawl and never end but then the years fly by at light speed?  I can literally recall the first time my boy laughed as though it was three days ago.  It's scary.  It's scary because if the first six years passed this quickly that means I could wake up tomorrow and he might be 12.  Noooo!

In honor of Mr. Man's very recent sixth birthday here is a list of my most favorite things about him:

1.  His amazingly blond blond hair.  He is my genetic proof to the world that I am a real blond.  Or at least I was once.   And his crowd stopping gorgeous green eyes.  Those are my proof to the world that I did not have an affair with the mail man and he is, indeed, my husband's son.

2.  His nurturing spirit and kind heart.  I overhear these tender moments between he and his sister that melt me.  He is the first to run to her side when she is hurt and is often the first to stoop down and teach her something new when she doesn't understand. 

3.  The look of genuine befuddlement on his face when his sister lashes out at him with irrational rage for no good reason.  He clearly doesn't understand women yet.  He gets that from his dad. 

4.  He still calls me "Mommy."

5.  When he says, "I think I just need to be snuggled."  He'll still do that when he's 17...right?

6.  He is wicked smart.  (I've been using "wicked" as an adverb ever since my trip to Boston..sorry.  I'll stop soon.)  He makes these amazing connections to the world around him and has an unbelievable mind for math.  And reading.  He looooves a good book.  He amazes me.

7.  He's still so blissfully innocent.  Although I'm starting to see hints of influence from the big bad world starting to creep in, he really is the purist of souls at the moment.  He has no idea that the world can be a horrible, painful place sometimes.  And that not everyone is going to love him or have his best interests at heart.  He has no idea that there are things like sex, drugs, rock and roll and pure evil.  He's just happy and loving and optimistic. 

8.  I can get him to do anything for a dollar.  It's awesome. 

9.  He's so easy to please.  He doesn't ask for a lot and is sincerely grateful when we get to go on a special trip or he gets a new little something.  He just likes to be around his dad and me.  That could be at an amusement park or in our own back yard-it's all the same to him.

10.  He's very responsible.  He never forgets to feed the dog or clear his plate.  He often reminds me of important dates-"Mommy, I have parent teacher conferences tomorrow night, don't forget.  And you have to sign my permission slip for the field trip by Friday, okay?"  Seriously.  That happened. 


At his party the day before his actual birthday.  He had 6 friends from his kindergarten class attend.  He was so genuinely happy.

The morning of his real birthday.  It's tradition that he gets chocolate doughnuts and strawberry milk for breakfast on his birthday.  This year we also added "Go Gurt" which is apparently a super cool thing to eat.  Yogurt in a tube...really? 


Happy Birthday my little man!  I couldn't love you more.  You are now officially forbidden from getting any older.  There will be none of this turning 7 business...do you hear me?!  Good.  That's settled.

With love,

Your Mama
xoxo

Friday, August 5, 2011

Long Overdue

Do they hand out Worst Blogger Of The Year awards?  If so, I will likely get nominated.  I was alerted by a few friends and loyal readers that it has been two whole weeks since I last posted. Wow.  Time flies-it really really does. 

I was trying to come up with some elaborate excuse tale about why I've been MIA for so long.  My computer was stolen in the middle of the night by Ninjas was a front runner but in the end I decided to go with the truth....so here it is.....*ahem*

I got an iPhone and I can't stop playing Angry Birds.  There.  I said it.

My name is Jen and I am an Angry Birds addict.  It has been 27 minutes since I last flung a bird at an infuriatingly stupid green pig.  I'm not proud.  I will not confirm or deny that in the last 72 hours I actually hid in my own closet to escape my children for a few uninterrupted minutes of bird flinging. Okay, it was 30 minutes but who's counting? I will also not confirm or deny that I possibly have stayed up until 1:30 in the morning three times this week because I could not rest until I cleared an entire chapter.  It's not pretty. 

I'm haggard and sleep deprived and filled with self loathing.   Any and all of the few spare minutes of free time I've gotten here and there that were once reserved for blogging and umm...bathing have been spent on those damn Angry Birds. Why are they so angry anyway? Why do they hate the pigs enough to go on suicide missions to eliminate them from the planet?  These are the questions that have been rattling around my head for the last few weeks. 

So now you know.  Are you happy?  Please help me.  I've hit rock bottom and I'm ready to admit that I have a problem. 

I feel better already.  Thank you.

I was able to carve out enough time to celebrate Mr. Man's 6th birthday a couple weeks ago.  I'll do an entire post on that later this weekend (I saw that-stop rolling your eyes!  I really, really will! I promise!  Pinky swear!) but here are a few sneak peaks...

I made it myself!  I rule.



Thanks for sticking with me if you're still checking in!  I promise to be a much better blogger from here on out.  :)

Have a wonderful summer weekend everyone,


xoxo
Jen

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rethinking Wallpaper

A quick post today as I am frantically preparing for Mr. Man's big birthday bash tomorrow.  He is turning 6!  It doesn't seem possible....but more on that later.   

Anyway-I have a decorating idea that I've been mulling over....wallpaper.  I'm typically horrified by wallpaper but my sister insists that it's coming back.  All I can conjure up are images of bad 80's florals, pastel splatter paint and country geese with little bows around their necks.  I'm shuddering just thinking about it. 

But then I found this:


It's from Anthroplogie and I think it's kind of fabulous.  There's a little wall in my living room that I think would make this work.  I want to repaint the other walls in there a chocolaty sort of brown. 

I'm going to hash it over while I frost two dozen cupcakes to look like baseballs.

God help me.


Happy Weekend!

xoxo

Jen

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Raspberries Everywhere

Monday was the opening day of U Pick Raspberries at a farm not far from home.  I took the kids to pick strawberries at the same farm last summer but we missed the short strawberry season this summer since I was in Boston at the time.  I have been anxiously awaiting raspberry season to get my U Pick fix for the year.

I have an odd affection for picking my own fruit on other people's farms.  I don't try to understand it-it just is what it is.  There's just something so rustic and homey about it.  My Martha tendencies get to shine through in all their glory.  Ahhhhhh....contentment.  

I literally dragged my sleeping children out of their beds at the crack of dawn so we could get there as soon as it opened.  Mostly this was to get out there before the ungodly heat had a chance to reach it's full potential and ruin the experience for us-but also it's cause I may have worked myself into a bit of a frenzy with a strange inner dialogue that insisted all the best raspberries were going to be gone if we didn't get there before 9am. 

I'm telling you-my psychosis around fruit picking runs really deep.  I'm just as baffled by it as you are.  Trust me.

Of course, I snapped a few pictures so I could share the berry picking with you:


Mr. Man loved the challenge of digging deep into the thorny bushes to find the best berries.


Miss Thing was very engrossed in the process for about 9 minutes until she got hot and bored and whiny.  She gets that from me so I can't really complain.  Also she insisted on picking only the tiny, unripe berries because they were "so cute."  I love her.




 Child labor.  Love that.



Ooooh!  Look at them in all their lovely, juicy, raspberry-ness!


 Hello, beautiful!


 Fun with photo editing...would it be weird if I framed this and put it next to my bed?  I know, I know...I need to cool it with the love of berries weirdness.


 More gratuitous raspberry shots.  There's a talented photographer stuck inside me just trying to get out.  That's all I have to say.


Back at home with our bounty.  The boy and I made the most amazingly wonderful Raspberry Chocolate Chip Struesel Muffins.  Oh my goodness...my house smelled like heaven for the rest of the afternoon!



 They were so, so good (if I do say so myself).  Here's the recipe if you're interested.  I followed this exactly but I added a half a bag of chocolate chips along with the berries (I doubled the recipe so you may want to use a quarter of a bag or so if you don't). 

Now I must go and attempt to clean my house before my sister and nephew arrive from Illinois.  They lost power due to severe thunderstorms last night which equals no air conditioning which means they're staying here until they have power again because the heat is showing no signs of relenting any time soon.  The temp is supposed to get up to 100 degrees today! 

I have two more pints of raspberries left....who has a raspberry recipe to share?  Anyone?  I know you're there...Blogger tells me so....make today the day you comment!  You know you want to!  I desperately need your favorite raspberry recipes! 

xoxo

Jen
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