Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boston!

I'm alive, back from my travels...I haven't forgotten about you.  I've just been a bit under the weather.  A lot under the weather.  I've never been so freaking sick.  I'm on day 7 of the world's most aggressive sinus infection in the history of sinus infections.  If someone could remove the cinder block that has taken up residence on my face that would be much appreciated.  I have never seen so much green mucus in one place before.  And I have children.  Okay...I'm done complaining.  Not really, but I'll stop for now.  As you can see-I've entered the Woe is Me phase of my illness.  I'm done with being a trooper, I'm done trying to put mind over matter and get on with it...I haven't taken in air through my nose in a week  and I constantly feel like my eyes are going to pop out of their sockets cause of all the painful pressure.  Okay, I'm really done now-I promise.

At any rate-I was in Boston for the past few days!  I love Boston!  It's so historic and quaint and New Englandy.  Despite my being sick and the weather there being God awful, I managed to have a lovely time.  My mom, step dad, and two of my brothers went for an engagement party for a cousin of mine.  The kids were home with their dad.  Although I missed them terribly-I got to spend three nights in a hotel room all by myself.  In one of my favorite cities.  Did I mention I was all by myself?  Heavenly.

Here's a little picture tour of my whirlwind trip...


 


We got off our flight, dropped our bags at the hotel and immediately met my cousin at the Green Dragon in the North End for lunch.  It is one of the oldest pubs in the country.  Amazingly, the captain and entire crew of the flight we had just gotten off of had the same idea.  My brother spotted them sitting at the table across from us.  Small world!



My gorgeous Bostonian cousin Sarah and I out for dinner at another North End establishment that night.  She looks like she's trying to make out with a wine glass in this picture, I realize.  But even her profile is beautiful.


 My mom and I on a walk to the Museum of Fine Arts the next morning.  Sadly, I've already forgotten what we were standing in front of.  I was hopped up on Dayquil in this picture, you'll have to forgive me. 


 Me, my mom and step dad on an extremely casual and *ahem* un-staged walk through the city.  Okay-so my step dad set the timer on my camera, positioned it on top of a garbage can, ran like hell back to my mom and I while screaming, "Start walking toward the camera and act like we're in a deep conversation!!"  It worked, don't you think?  He's quite artistic.



My mom and I in front of a piece from the Chihuly Through The Looking Glass exhibition at the MFA.  It's an exhibit of artwork created entirely from hand blown glass.  I'm not even that artsy fartsy and this blew me away.  If you have a chance to see this, you should!  Amazing. 


My brother and I at Quincy Market (can you see us there in the lower left corner?)   It was so freaking cold in Boston and I was so ill prepared that I had to stop at a mall and buy that jacket.  Argh.  At least it's cute.  Not that you can really see it here...trust me, it's really cute.

Me at the Public Garden in front of one of the famed swan boats. 



My brother and I in front of the duck pond in the Public Garden.

 

Have you ever read this bookIf not-you must.  It's a favorite from my childhood.  It's set in the Public Garden in Boston...it's seriously so adorable.  And I love fictional children's books set in real life places.  You can't go to Boston w/o reading this book first.  I'm just sayin'...



See what I mean?  I'm not the only one who thinks it's a great book...the city gave it it's own plaque and everything!  If you can't read it it says, "This sculpture has been placed here as a tribute to Robert McCloskey whose story 'Make Way For Ducklings'  has made the Boston Public Garden familiar to children throughout the world" 




I'm not sure what to say about this....my mom made us do it. 

So that is the gist of my trip.   It's always such a catch 22 leaving my family behind.  On a day to day basis when I'm dealing with wiping butts, mounds of laundry and one tantrum after another I feel like all I want is a little vacation from the crazy.  But then, as soon as I'm gone for more than two hours I start to ache for the little devils.  C'est la vie...

And now I'm off to do some more complaining about my ailing sinuses....I'm going to make such a great crotchety old lady someday....

xoxo
Jen




Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Swimming Lessons



Have I mentioned how much I love where I live?  I do.  It's such a nice feeling.  We moved here just last October so we are enjoying our first summer in this smallish town.  My dream is that eventually we'll have actual friends here in our neighborhood to socialize with. Hang out on each other's decks, watch each other's kids, gossip about which ever neighbors aren't around...that kind of thing.  But it turns out that in order to make friends you have to go and introduce yourself to people and get to know them.  People don't apparently knock on your door and say, "Hi!  I heard you're new in town!  Let's be best friends!"  Too bad.  Cause that would really shave a few years off this process for me...

I wanted to share some pictures of one of my favorite things about this town so far...all the lakes!  My kids are actually taking swimming lessons in a lake! Something about that is just so wonderful to me.  So Norman Rockwell, so Mayberry, so nostalgic, just so..charming.  Unfortunately, my children do not share this opinion.  They are horrified by the prospect of  swimming in a lake.  A really, really cold lake.  I'm making them suck it up for the sake of my Norman Rockwell fantasy. 

That's my boy there on the end.  The one shaking with terror and plotting his mother's demise.

If you look closely you can actually see him yawning in this one.  Oh, and when his turn came along to jump in the lake...he respectfully declined.  And then flipped me the bird.  Okay-not really.  He doesn't even know about "the bird" yet.  But if he did, that's what he would have done.



Doesn't this look like a post card?  This is walking distance from my house!  Heaven.




Here's one (without the cool retro photo effects) that gives a perspective of my view of both my offspring from the shore.  Each in their respective lesson.  Handy labels have been added for your viewing pleasure.





Some more scenic shots of the beach and park areas.

 I promised them a trip to the ice cream truck if the stayed in the water for the entire length of the 30 minute lesson.  I am not above bribery, that's for sure.  Especially when a Norman Rockwell photo op is on the line.
Can you tell I have been having a little photo editing fun?  I can't believe I only recently discovered Picnik.  It's so cool and easy!  It's a free photo editing website, check it out if you haven't!

So that concludes our photo tour of the day, my friends.  Just to let you know-I'll be away from FUMC until Monday.  I'm leaving on a jet plane early in the morning for a mini vacation.  I'll tell you all about it when I return...

See you soon!
xoxo
Jen

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Father's Day That Would Make Martha Proud

Father's Day turned out to be a lovely day.  We had both grandpas here for a BBQ which is actually called a "Grill Out" if you live in my neck of the woods. Or worse yet-a "Fry."  As in, "Would you like me to bring over some brats for da Fry?" You need to be a real lifer around these parts to utter that phrase. 

It drives me insane...it's not a "fry."  We're not "frying" anything.  There are no frying pans lying about.  No one is eating a fried egg or fried fish or chicken fried steak that I'm aware of.  There is a fire with a grill grate and there is meat on it.  We're grilling it.  On a grill. 

But anyway...I digress (who? me? never!).   Like I said, we had both our dads here for a little get together.  The kids made their grandpas some custom made grilling aprons to go with their new grilling (not frying) utensils.  They were a big hit and turned out to be very  nice.

We also made some insanely cool lawn mower cupcakes for the occasion.  You heard me.  I said lawn mower cupcakes.  I know this is somewhat of a sexist and odd choice for a Father's Day themed baked good but what can I say?  They were cute.  I can't wait for my husband to whip up some ironing board cupcakes next Mother's Day.  But again, I digress...

I got the ideas for both the aprons and the cupcakes over at the Family Fun website. 


Miss A loved this little project.  We got an apron from the craft store along with some fabric paints and we were off! It worked well to tape of a section with masking tape for the 3 year old so she wouldn't ruin her older brother's hard work.

 

My boy took this very seriously as he does with everything he attempts.  It was his idea to paint a hamburger, a hot dog, a baseball and a glove.  Cute!


The final product!  They turned out really nicely...even though I'm a moron and forgot to put newspaper or something down first.  I'll be scraping fabric paint off of the patio table until Halloween...


Lawn Mower Cupcakes!  We used Skittles instead of M & M's as My Boy has a peanut allergy and red licorice instead of black (black licorice is from the devil-blech!).

 

These were actually really easy and fun to make.  Trust me, if I'm saying that it's really true.


Are you having any thoughts resembling, "Oh dear God, she's one of those moms.  One of the ones that's constantly trying to one up Martha Stewart.  Ugh" ?  If you are, really- it's ok.  Looking at this picture actually makes me want to punch myself in the face so I completely understand...

So, our day was grand.  I think all the dads felt very appreciated.  I hope my husband did.  He seriously is such a great dad-one of those guys that slipped so seamlessly into the role that you would never know that he had once been a self-centered twenty-something that had never looked directly at, let alone held, a baby before.  His progression into this amazing, hands on, nurturing, caring father has astounded me.  I am proud to be the mother of his children.  Amen.

Have a wonderful Monday everyone,

xoxo
Jen


Friday, June 17, 2011

Coffee Cup Flower Pot

Update: If you happened to land on this post because you were searching for where to buy a "coffee cup flower pot" I got this one at Menards, but you can find them at most major home/gardening stores. 

A quick post to share a few pictures of the new flower pot I got the other day.  I saw these outside of a little cafe in my town and went on a mission to find one for myself.  You can read about my find here.





I can not tell you how inexplicably happy this coffee cup flower pot makes me in all it's quirky polka-dotted glory.

Miss A had to get into the action.  She got a watering can from the Easter Bunny and never misses an opportunity to use it.


Incidentally, would anyone like to come over and stain my deck? 
Just thought I'd ask...


Have a wonderful weekend everyone,


xoxo
Jen

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our Morning Adventures at the Zoo


My sister and I took our three kids to the zoo this morning.  This is a picture of me and my babies about to depart on the Zoo Train.  If you live within a 100 mile radius of this zoo and you have little kids, there is no way you don't  have this exact picture somewhere in your files.  All is well in this moment...and then the train whistle sounded and Miss A lost her mind.  Her pleasing personality did not reappear for the rest of our stay.


Introducing my darling sister and her darling little boy.  He was digging the train and incredibly amused by his cousin's shrieks of terror.
 (Little known fact about my sister and reason #527 why I love her so much: She refuses to eat food from a concession stand at a zoo, any zoo, because she is convinced there will be wild animal hair in her food) 


I love this shot and I can't wait to frame it!  My nephew worships his big cousin-he was so overcome with love that he came up behind him to give him a squeeze. (I totally get where he's coming from-that blond kid is pretty cute).

The Three Amigos.  We were standing there watching them stand there for a full 5 minutes before we realized there were no animals anywhere around.  I have no idea what was grabbing their attention but we weren't about to ask questions.  What with it being so quiet and all.

You could put a quarter in this chair and get a foot massage.  These dweebs were too short to reach the massager thingy but they LOVED getting to put a quarter in the slot anywayIt reminded me of one of my grandpa's famous quotes, "I swear to God, if they sold bags of poop in vending machines my kids would have asked me for nickels to put in the slot." (I miss him so much it hurts, sometimes)



We can't leave the zoo without stopping to see the giraffes so we can shout, "Hi Melman!!!"
(Name that movie!)





I don't think they've ever not fallen asleep on the way home from a Zoo trip. All that walking and all that nature everywhere can really tucker you out.  And in the case of today if you're Miss A, flinging your body on the ground and wailing in protest several times per hour is also an exhausting undertaking.

They are just waking up from their naps as I write this.  Which is a good thing because we've got another adventure to get to tonight!


See you tomorrow,

xoxo
Jen

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Spontaneous

I had the craziest day today.  Good crazy, but crazy.  It was crazy cause of all the spontaneity but those are the days that really get me going. 

It was supposed to be a boring rainy day that started off with a dentist appointment for my little darlings and ended with cleaning the house frantically before my sister and nephew arrived for a visit.  Instead we went straight from the dentist to an impromptu trip to the hardware store since I happened to hear on the radio that they had weed wackers on sale.  I love a good weed wacker sale, what can I say?  (Also-my darling husband/father to my children has been hinting that he really wants a new one for Father's Day).  Whatever floats your boat, Buddy.

At the hardware store I happened to find a shelf full of those large ceramic planters that look like tea cups and are painted all colorful and funky.  Do you know the ones I mean?  (I'll post a picture tomorrow) I've wanted one for ages to put out on the deck and couldn't find one anywhere.  Who knew they would turn up in such an unlikely place?  Not only that-they were on sale!  Sometimes all it takes is $17.95 to make your dreams come true.  If your dreams involve owning kooky flower pots, that is.  I'm easy to please.

After that-a spontaneous visit to Daddy at work and an unexpected lunch date with him.  The man can drive me batshit crazy but seeing him all important and proper in his workplace with a fancy tie on still gives me butterflies.  Miss A, of course, made sure to tell him all about the gift we just bought him but at least she remembered to tell him in a whisper and add "But don't say anything to you, Daddy cause it's a supwise!"  at the end. I love that little vixen...

The lunch date happened to occur at the mall which lead to me impulsively purchasing this cute little number from the clearance rack at Old Navy:


It's going to be perfect for the little mini vacation I'm taking next week but that's another post all together...

There's more to the story but the gist is that my sister and nephew arrived from Illinois and were welcomed into my ransacked house. It's a good thing sisters are genetically obligated to deal with your scattered dirty laundry, dish-filled sink, and toothpate encrusted bathroom counters without passing judgement. (If you have a sister like mine who is a totally freaky clean freakazoid she'll usually wordlessly just start deep cleaning your house without batting an eye and then you act like your embarrassed but really you're super excited that someone's cleaning your house which she totally knows so she just keeps cleaning to calm her OCD and everyone is happy). Miss A had her first ever ballet class, and I skipped Pi-Yo class so I could eat Eggplant Parmesan with said sister.  To summarize, it was a really great day.

Before I go, I must mention this amazing blog I stumbled upon today.  In particular, this post  just blew me away.  If you are a young mother, were a young mother, know someone who was/is a young mother or you just plain like good writing you must read this. 

xoxo
Jen

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

FUMC Got a Makeover

Just a quick note to let you know that I have a new look! You know, if that wasn't already very obvious. Let me know what you think!  I took some tips from For The Love of Blogs and cleaned things up a bit and made myself a snazzy new banner.  The tips and tutorials for newbie bloggers like me that they have over there are so beyond helpful.  For real. 

 I still have so much to learn on several levels but I'm having so much fun doing it....my cup is definitely filling as we speak.  Any other tips/suggestions/feelings/or random thoughts regarding blogging 101 would always be greatly appreciated. 

That is all.

xoxo
Jen

Banana Berry Smoothies!

We are anxiously awaiting the start of the U Pick Strawberry Season here in Wisconsin...it's gotten off to a slow start due to the unseasonably cool (and by cool I mean that I think a few days ago it actually got down to 40 degrees) spring we've been having.  Last year was my first experience with picking strawberries and I've been dreaming thinking about it ever since.  There's a big farm not far from here that gives you a hay ride out to the fields and drops you off with your empty baskets and lets you go to town.  The kids loved it last year and I can't wait to take them back.  Especially now that they're bigger and will be able to haul a lot more strawberries.  They need to earn their keep somehow.  I'm serious.

Anywho-since the strawberries are taking their sweet old time ripening up this time around I decided not to wait for one of my favorite by products of strawberry season....Smoothies!
I found some delightfully imported ones along with some lovely raspberries at my local Sam's Club yesterday-so began my mission for today.

I actually took some step by step pics of our process earlier this afternoon to share with everyone.  The kids thought I was insane.  "Who would want to look at a picture of a yogurt container, Mom??"  I don't know.  Probably no one.  But that's what food bloggers do, right?  I have no idea.  And I'm not suggesting that I'm a food blogger.  Or a photography blogger.  I'm not sure if I'm even a blogger blogger.  But at any rate, here we go....


 We started with these gorgeous fresh berries.  They were gorgeous even though we had to settle for foreign berries from far off lands where they have sun and warmth in mid June.  I hear places like that exist.



This was a new one for me.  I used frozen bananas.  I heard somewhere that you should slice up a banana right before it gets too ripe to eat and put it in a freezer bag and save them for smoothies.  It seemed like a logical idea so I went with it.  I can say that I don't think it detracted or enhanced the resulting smoothie in any way but it was a nice way not to waste icky ripe bananas.

Here's my "she thinks she's cool like one of those hip food bloggers" gratuitous shot of the yogurt.  I like to use vanilla flavored yogurt in smoothies.  I think I ended up using about 1/3 of this container.  Just sayin'.

 Again with the me thinking I'm cool shot of myself getting some crushed ice from the fridge dispenser.  I think crushed ice and water from the fridge door is one of the world's highly under rated modern conveniences, by the way. Big fan. 

All the ingredients are globbed together and ready to go in the blender.  Apparently this is a very anxiety provoking step and looks of fear and/or nail biting are not only accepted but encouraged.


And now we're off and running with the whole blending process.  Again, this is apparently not only scary but extremely loud.  I encourage you to take the necessary precautions.

The "she may have a shot as a food blogger after all!" action shot of the pouring of the smoothie.



The final product...not only yummy but pretty too!  Can you hear my kids screaming in the background? "Mom!! Why are you taking a picture of the smoothies?! We just want to drink them!! You're so weird!"


Ahhhh...worth the wait!  Did you notice my daughter is wearing a tee shirt with a strawberry on it?  Yeah..I planned that.  I forced her to go upstairs and change before we made the smoothies because we must adhere to the theme of the day at all times around here.  (Not really-that was just pure luck. The kind of luck that makes my weirdo brand of OCD take a huge sigh of relief that all is right with the world)

Miss A is digging her smoothie.  I can't say as I blame her!

Now go forth into the world and make yourself a smoothie! You won't regret it!


xoxo

Jen
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