Monthly Archives: June 2013

I Must Have Pissed off Mother Nature

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And the rain rain rain came down down down
And the flood rose up up upper…

winnie the pooh rain

I grew up reading and watching Winnie the Pooh. My mom did fantastic impersonations of the characters (at least I thought they were fantastic) as she read to us. This picture of Pooh-Bear pretty much sums up my morning.

I was woken up multiple times this morning by crashes of thunder and rain beating down. My 5 year old came scampering into my room after beign jolted awake by an especially loud crack of thunder that shook the house. The lightening show was amazing and we enjoyed it from the comfort of my bed. Then my husband got up and spoiled it all by announcing that the yard had flooded and there was probably water in the basement. He was right.

Here’s what our yard looks like on a normal morning

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Here’s what our yard looked like this morning.

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You see that open area to the right of the playset? This past weekend we had a 20′ x 30′ white tent occupying that space for my sister’s wedding reception. Thank goodness this flash flood didn’t happen then. I don’t think we could have sandbagged her tent like we did to mine on my wedding day!

We obviously need to have a little chat with the property managers of the unfinished development on the other side of our tree line. Their silt-filled retention pond is not doing its job. Using a few rakes we pushed all the floating wood chips back into the playset area before the water absorbed into the ground. I’m counting that was a win. The water in the basement was just enough to be a pain but all we lost was about 1/3 of the padding and the carpet will be fine once it dries so that’s another win. The leak above my kitchen ceiling is another matter. I don’t want to talk about it.

The silver lining to the basement shuffle-o-shit  is that we had to relocate some toys to the upstairs and the kids are happily playing together as I type. Unfortunately as soon as my baby wakes from her 3 + hour nap it’ll be time to tackle my mom’s basement.

I hope Mother Nature is being more kind to you!

Cheerio!

Eeny Meeny Miny…

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Decisions have to get made in this household all the time as in any other, like which puzzle to put together and which pair of undies to wear (preferably a clean pair). We try to give the kids choices to minimize the amount of freak-outs and because we’re told it’s how good parents bring up their children. Lately the kids have been big into using the Eeny Meeny Miny Moe method to aid in their decision making and it’s been cracking me up as I stand back and watch the process unfold. My 5 year old does it right. She goes along with her method and accepts whichever option her pointer finger lands on. It’s my 3 year old that keeps me in quiet fits as he goes through the picking process and then just puts his pointer finger on whichever option he deems most favorable as he shouts, “Moe!”. He may as well forget about the whole Eeny Meeny Miny Moe process and go with his gut reaction to begin with, but I suppose there’s no fun in that.

Case in point:

My boy just asked for a bowl of cereal. He pulled out the three boxes in our cereal drawer and declared he was going to eat all of them but wanted to pick which one to pour in first. So he began, “Eeny…meeny…miny…moe…catch a…tiger…by his…toe..if he…hollers…let him…go…eeny…meeny…miny…” Then he paused, big blue eyes pleading with mine, to ask, “Is it okay if I cheat?” Giggling I nodded yes as he changed his finger position to his favorite cereal box of the three and declared, “Moe!”

Fruity Cheerios it is.

I loved how he so directly called himself out for cheating, something I’ve been secretly doing each time I witness his decision making process go down. He knew what he was doing and since the cheating didn’t have any consequences on anyone else I let him do his thing. Into his bowl went the Fruity Cheerios followed by Rice Krispies and then Multigrain Cheerios and the boy was happy.

Getting your cereal combination correct is a serious matter in this household!

Getting your cereal combination correct is a serious matter in this household!

 

Do you mix your cereals or are you a one and done sort of person? If you mix, what’s your favorite combination? Mine is Cheerios, Frosted Flakes and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Cheers!

Becoming Real

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A few months back my daughter brought me a book and asked me to read it to her. It was The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and as we sat on the floor reading it together I couldn’t help but think of her brother and his bear. It’s a story about how certain toys becomes more than just toys. It’s about how the love of a person makes a toy Real. Not all toys reach this status, only the special ones that hold up against the test of time become Real. My daughter and I did not get very far into the book before she lost interest but we made it a few pages in where the new Velveteen Rabbit asks the very old and worn Skin Horse about what Real is.

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit?

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

My mind did an instant flashback to countless moments over the last 2 1/2 years where I have been witness to my son’s bear being loved in very aggressive ways. In those moments I tend to think, “Poor bear.” However, after reading those few pages in The Velveteen Rabbit I figured that my boy’s bear must be Real at this point or at least well on his way so he probably doesn’t mind very much being dragged through the dirt, thrown in the air, left in the basement and peed on in the middle of the night. Twice.

I went back through some pictures recently and showed my husband a picture of O with his bear from when he was 1. My husband couldn’t believe that it was the same bear that we go searching for every. single. night. It’s like a special little game we get to play every evening only we’re not very enthusiastic players. I can’t  help but chuckle though as I search the basement, car and play set. I know my dad would get a kick out of the fact that he picked out the perfect bear for our son and that the bear is so loved, just as he picked out the perfect bears for me and my siblings years ago.

This is O 2 1/2 years ago on his first birthday with his brand new bear.

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Here is the present-day version of the same duo.

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That bear, named Bear and often referred to as Beary, is no longer the charming, plush bear he started out as but I think he’s even more charming now with his bow rolled and mangled, his clumpy belly and scratched eyes. This bear has been a lot of places and I imagine he will go on many more adventures before O outgrows his attachment to his beloved toy.  Here are some more pics through the past 2 1/2 years of my boy and his bear.

I too had a bear, Teddy, that I turned Real. My daughter now takes care him for me.

What was the toy or object that you loved and turned Real?

 

Giving Him What He Really Wanted

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Yesterday was Father’s Day and this guy spent the day doing exactly what he wanted…

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…lounging around the pool!

We spent all day in the backyard eating, splashing around and napping. We grilled out for lunch with family and we grilled out for dinner with friends. The weather was a perfect 82 degrees and it was an unplanned, low-key day. Just the sort of day we love.

And of course, what’s Father’s Day without the classic Father’s Day gift of photos of the kids? Here are some of the pics that made it into various collages for the dads

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Daddy’s three goons

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Wearing her Daddy’s hat

Wearing his Daddy's boots

Wearing his Daddy’s boots

"Smoking" her Daddy's cigar

“Smoking” her Daddy’s cigar

My SIL and I spent some time putting together a collage for our wonderful father-in-law of all his grandkids wearing his glasses. The finished project was awesome and I think he really loved it. These were the pics that were included

Wedding Cupcake Taste Test

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“Friday was fun!” Lilly exclaimed when I asked her what we should write about this past Friday.

What was fun about it? Well, it was a day completely consumed by sugar. I spent 11 hours in the kitchen with one of our neighbor girls as my helper and we baked up 6 different cupcakes and frostings as well as garnishes for a wedding taste test I was having on Saturday.

Here’s what we created:

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Candied Walnuts

Candied Lemon Peel

  Candied Lemon Peel 

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Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Walnut Garnish

 

 

Pink Lemonade Cupcake with Pink Lemonade Frosting and Candied Lemon Peel Garnish

  Pink Lemonade Cupcake with Pink Lemonade Frosting and Candied Lemon Peel Garnish

Devil's Food Cake Cupcake with a Cookie Dough Center, Cookie Dough Frosting and Mini Chocolate Chips and Cookie Garnish

  Devil’s Food Cake Cupcake with a Cookie Dough Center, Cookie Dough Frosting and Mini Chocolate Chips and Cookie Garnish

Devil's Food Cake Cupcake with a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Center, Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting and Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Sauce Garnish

Devil’s Food Cake Cupcake with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Center, Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting and Peanut Butter Cup and Chocolate Sauce Garnish

Devils Food Cake Cupcake with Mini Chocolate Chips, White Chocolate Truffle Buttercream and Pink Nonpariel Garnish

Devils Food Cake Cupcake with Mini Chocolate Chips, White Chocolate Truffle Buttercream and Pink Nonpariel Garnish

 

Classic White Cake with a Vanilla Buttercream and White Nonpareil Garnish

Classic White Cake with a Vanilla Buttercream and White Nonpareil Garnish

Small Sample Cut Cake Divided in Half with Two Options.

Small Sample Cut Cake Divided in Half with Two Options.

All of the Choices

All of the Choices

 

It was quite a day of baking and by 11pm I was ready for a few beers. I could not have done it all in one day without the energy and enthusiasm from my little helper. She rocks! Love her.

The cupcake taste testing went over well with the soon-to-be bride and groom as well as with our family and friends that have been in and out of the house this weekend. So, what was the crowd favorite? I think an overwhelming majority of cupcake taste testers liked the peanut butter cup cupcakes and it was one that the bride and groom picked as well. The other two that we’ll make next month for their wedding will be the carrot cake and the pink lemonade. I’m happy that they all turned out as well as they did and I’ve certainly been eating left overs for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the past two days. Out of the 5 dozen cupcakes that were made there are only about 6 left plus the small cake that hasn’t been touched yet. It’s just about lunch time so that’s about to change!

Of course, when you’re baking for 11 hours not everything runs smoothly. We did have one botched batch of cupcakes but it wasn’t the baker’s fault. I have a temperamental oven and it decided to turn off in the middle of baking my favorite chocolate-chocolate chip cupcake.

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Despite their sunken look they still tasted yummy so we salvaged the cake and I mixed it with some leftover peanut butter buttercream. Now it’s sitting in my fridge for me for whenever my inner fat kid starts to get ornery, which is often.

So what’s your favorite cupcake flavor? I’m itching to make something new.

Cheers!

 

Inspired by a Good Book

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DSC02681There is an old children’s book entitled Arthur’s Honey Bear.      It’s a book that came in a large box of old books from my MIL’s house. It’s been one of the kids’ favorite night time stories lately and it really got my oldest girl to thinking. Basically it’s a book about a boy monkey who wants to sell all his old toys so he sets up a tag sale. DSC02685He carts his crap out to the lawn, makes signs, prices his items, eats cupcakes and waits for buyers. His little sister is witness to the whole affair, helps set things up and then when no one else buys anything she buys the one item that her brother is most ambivalent about selling: his Honey Bear. The story goes on with the boy monkey feeling jealous of his sister who is happily playing with her new bear. He tries to tell her how best to play with the bear and she basically tells him to bugger off since Honey Bear now belongs to her. Her brother sulks a bit more and then changes his way of thinking. He decides that since he can no longer be the bear’s daddy he can be the bear’s uncle and do all sorts of fun things that uncles do with their nephews. It was a cute story that ideally shows kids that if they change their way of thinking they can turn a negative situation into a positive one.

My daughter didn’t really walk away with any inspiration to change her way of thinking. She walked away from the book with motivation to sell her junk. One night as I was snuggling her before bed she said to me as matter-of-fact as only a 5 year old can, “I am going to have a junk sale tomorrow. For real! I am.” She wasn’t bouncing the idea off me.  There was no discussion of whether or not DSC02668this was a feasible idea. It was a statement, pure and simple, of her plans for the next day and there was no way I was going to dampen  her determination even though I questioned exactly what “junk” she was referring to. So I said good night and walked out of her room as she declared her next days intent one more time so I knew she was serious.

DSC02669The next day, following her last day of preschool, we welcomed Oma and Opa back from Germany, went out to lunch and then as soon as we arrived home Lil began setting up for her Junk Sale. She collected her “junk” while I made her some signs. We were in a bit of a hurry to get the junk sale up and running before gymnastics class otherwise I would have had her do everything herself. We organized the junk, priced it and set up signs directing everyone to her room where the sale was being held.  DSC02672

As soon as Lilly declared her junk sale open her brother ran to his piggy bank and took out a few coins. He had a dime and a quarter clutched in his hands as he seriously considered what he couldn’t live without. Most of his sister’s junk was girly stuff that didn’t interest him but there was one object that he decided he must own; her gnawed on and flattened Disney princess bat. It was really the junkiest junk on the desk so of course that’s what he wanted. DSC02673 It cost 10 cents so he handed his dime to his sister who smiled from ear to ear and immediately put her earnings into her own piggy bank. At this point both kids were really into the junk sale and although I probably shouldn’t have let Odin pay for his sister’s crap I couldn’t pass up such a great opportunity to teach the kids about money and so I let it go. O browsed through the junk one more time because that quarter he was holding was begging to be spent so he obliged and bought an old Happy Meal toy, also a 10 cent item. I helped them exchange money and then we had to run to gymnastics.DSC02677

When we got home later that evening Lilly was eager to lead her dad up to her junk sale in hopes that he’d want to buy some of her crap and she could plunk a few more coins into her piggy bank. Unfortunately for her I had already primed her daddy as to the days events and he was about to teach her a little lesson about her so called “junk”. He pointed out that important people in her life had given her that “junk” and as he went through each item she snatched it up and quickly changed her mind about selling it. I love my husband for the way he goes about teaching the kids lessons. He sat down with her and they discussed the value in selling a fair product for a fair price and the importance of valuing the things that you are fortunate enough to have.

Later on, right around bed time, my son came to me crying and explained that his sister had taken the bat back. I calmly led him back to her room and had her give the bat back to its rightful owner. I had to explain to Lil that her brother had bought that mutilated bat fair and square and that it now belonged to him. This of course made her cry. I put the baby to bed as she continued feeling sorry for herself and when I could give her my full attention I went back in and we discussed her feelings and paralleled them to the book that instigated the whole junk sale affair. We discussed that she was feeling jealous because Odin was having so much funDSC02679 playing with the new bat just like Arthur did when he saw his sister playing with his old Honey Bear. We discussed that Odin is a nice brother and if she asked him nicely to play with the bat sometimes he would most likely consent just as Arthur’s sister allowed Arthur to be Honey Bear’s uncle. We also discussed how she initially had considered the bat to be junk and she should change the way she was thinking about the situation. Instead of lamenting the loss of the bat she should consider the fact that she got rid of something she didn’t want and now has more money in her piggy bank which was the whole purpose of the junk sale in the first place. She went to bed that night with a lot to mull over but she was content and happy to be a few cents richer.

I loved seeing the determination in my 5 year old as she followed through with her plans and I loved all the great teaching opportunities that popped up before, during and after the junk sale. This was such a fun experience as a parent. There are just some moments you hope to remember forever and for me this was one of those moments. And this is why I blog. To help me remember some of the special times that frequently get lost in the craziness of life.

Oh, and just for the record, O slept with the bat for 3 nights, played with it during the days and taunted his sister with it. By day 4 the bat had been discarded just as it had when Lil owned it. Such is the fate of a battered bat.

Cheers!