Monthly Archives: June 2014

Conquering the High Dive

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Ahhh, there’s nothing like walking into the city pool, taking a look around at the droves of kids and parents and the piss-water pool and feeling quite at home. I grew up on the swim team and with my house right up the street from the pool I was naturally a pool rat. Chlorine essentially runs through my veins but before I start getting all nostalgic for my water-logged childhood I’ll jump right to the point of this post.

My mom and I took the kids to my hometown city pool yesterday. We try to go a few times throughout the summer since it’s got two large slides, a handful of kiddie structures, zero depth entry and a separate lap pool with diving boards not to mention a large sandbox with playground equipment and a kiddie pool. It’s pretty legit and quite the fun time as long as I bring along an extra adult.

So, after my 2 year old learned that if you don’t fight for your spot in line at the slide you’ll never get down it but before I enjoyed the low-key nature of the baby pool I was impressed by the ballsiness of my 6 and 4 year old children. Today was the day they tackled the high dive and by tackled I mean took it by storm, showed no signs of fear and jumped as high off the board before plunging into the depths of the water and returning to the surface with a smile of victory on their faces. Of course I cheered and snapped photos while expressing to my mother my surprise that I didn’t have to go retrieve my boy from 3 meters up.

My mom, though surprised as well, simply said, “They are your children, Colleen. You were the same way. You scared me to death constantly.”

Ahh, how life come full circle.

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  He’s making sure I know just how stoked he is to be jumping off something so high.

My little lady is happy to watch. No need for any extreme behavior yet, thank goodness!

My little lady is happy to watch. No need for any extreme behavior yet, thank goodness!

 

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First, my girl.

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Then little man. He made sure to jump as high as possible before plummeting.

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Banana-Sweet Potato Muffins

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See this contraption with the glowing light behind the bananas? Of course you do. DSC07159

It’s an indoor bug zapper and in a household where there is always a container with scrap food for the chickens, a compost collection bucket, bushels of bananas and other various produce on the counter along with children who just can’t figure out how to close doors and dogs that know how to open them it is a most welcome eye sore to my counter top.

Just for the fruit flies alone it’s been worth the $25 investment and as long as everyone rinses their dishes before placing them in the sink to await their turn in the dishwasher it works very well.

See those bananas that are getting pretty spotty? How can ya miss ’em?

I threw a few of them in a bowl with a left over sweet potato, added some other good stuff and voila! Out of the oven came some delicious muffins that are kid endorsed and mom approved.

DSC07162Here’s the recipe if you wanna give them a go. 5 out of 6 kids under the age of 7 loved them. My little girl was the snob of the group who would have preferred it if I simply gave her the sweet potato and banana in it’s true form not to mention she doesn’t really like chocolate chips. Little weirdo.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is her “These are delicious! I need a big one now!” look. Don’t get me started on her hair!!!

Banana-Sweet Potato Muffins

2 large, ripe bananas, mashed

1 sweet potato cooked, mashed

3 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 cup applesauce, I used natural (if using original I’d reduce the sugar amount a little)

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins and spray with cooking spry (they stick to the liners a little if you don’t) or just spray the tins well without liners.

2.Combine bananas, sweet potato, applesauce, maple syrup, eggs and sugar in a bowl.

3. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined.

4. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans if using.

5. Spoon batter into muffin tins. Bake 20 minutes for regular sized muffins, 12 minutes for mini muffins.

Happy Baking!

Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

The Greatest Garden Chicken Salad

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Monday I packed the kids up and headed to Chicago for a day of fun. Before we left I put together a chicken salad to bring for lunch since we were meeting my brother in Millenium Park. In person I call my new concoction “Kick-ass Chicken Salad” or “The Best Chicken Salad in the Whole Damn World” but for posting purposes I settled on “Garden Chicken Salad” since all of the fresh ingredients are growing in my garden right now. (You can scroll to the end right now for the recipe or just keep reading.) I packed up my bomb chicken salad and the kids and hit the road.

Our first stop was the Field Museum. My bro got us a family membership for the kids’ birthdays and we LOVE it! There is so much to do there. The highlight of our trip this time were the mummies, especially the child mummies which I think creeped the kids out a little. We also enjoyed looking at the man-eating lions from Tsavo and exploring the Playlab but the best part was probably purchasing these gems…
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These wax molds are what kids pine after at museums and other such places and it’s the first time I let them each get one. The kids were stoked to feed the machine their $2.00 and wait for it to poop out a little wax figurine and I enjoyed reminiscing on the times of my youth when I was allowed to do the same.

With our new toys in hand we headed to The Bean, officially called Cloud Gate, for lunch with Uncle Brenden.

DSC07139 It was a muggy day but we enjoyed it none-the-less because the rain had stopped and we were checking off an activity on our Summer bucket list, plus the location was pretty bomb, just like the chicken salad. Uncle Brenny brought some treats from Magnolia’s Bakery to round out the meal.

After lunch we headed to the Crown Fountain for a little splash time which for my girls soon turned into a drench fest and since we didn’t have swim suits they rode all the way home naked. I’m just glad I didn’t get pulled over or in an accident, that would have been awkward for my oldest!

 

 

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Below is the loose recipe for my new, kick-ass chicken salad. I usually add celery, carrot and Craisin to my chicken salad but since I was out of the usual cast of characters I had to get creative. A note about the recipe: In general I feel that people have very different chicken salad preferences so I’m just listing the ingredients I used since it’s really all about the flavor combo anyways and I have yet to actually  measure anything out.

Garden Chicken Salad

2 parts Plain Greek Yogurt to 1 part Mayonnaise

diced cucumber, seeds removed if large

diced raddish
diced sweet onion

halved cherry tomatoes

diced chicken (I made mine Sunday in the crockpot using a whole chicken, pat dry and covered in lots of fresh oregano, basil and parsley with a little salt and pepper too.)

fresh or dried dill to taste

salt and pepper to taste

*** Simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and dig in!

 

Today will be my third day in a row eating it and it gets me excited for lunch time even before I eat breakfast! If you make it and have a minute, I’d love to know what you think.

Enjoy,

Colleen

 

 

It’s All Fun And Games Until Great Grammy Wins

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Our weekly visits to Great Grammy’s house typically involve lots of food and treats, coloring and bouncing on the furniture. This week the kids brought Chutes and Ladders and it was a great game for them to play with Grammy. My oldest girl won the first two games and then excused herself so someone else could win a game. My boy won the next game and was eager to play again so Grammy happily obliged. Then she won the next game and my boy turned into a butthead.

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See that scowl. It didn’t last long though because his Grammy agreed to play again for the ump-teenth time. She’s a saint.

Board games with kids can end up great or sucky but the process is usually fun and when you have a Great Grammy to divert sour moods with Jello, popcorn, goldfish, gummy bears and M&Ms the outcome of the game hardly matters!

Garden Goodies

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Its never too early in the morning to enjoy some fresh snap peas and radishes from the garden!

Last weekend I harvested 8 gallon sized Ziploc bags full of various lettuces. Thankfully we were heading to a party where I could palm them off because that’s just too much lettuce for this family! I gotta get my butt back in the garden for some serious weeding and its time to harvests bunch of rhubarb and more lettuce. Its a great garden this year and we’re all enjoying eating the spoils of our work.

We can’t wait for the peppers that will be ripe soon and all the tomatoes that are off to a good start.

Daddy Shenanigans

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The dad in this house is the instigator of fun and is the brains behind most of the crazy shenanigans in these parts.

For instance, yesterday we were at a birthday party. In the 6 hours we were there he instigated numerous water balloon attacks and encouraged a large group of swimming kids to try drowning him by roaring loudly in their faces and flexing then he repeatedly threw them into the deep end and/or dunked them to their delight. He also assembled all the kids to help attach balloons to a beer can with their signatures inside to see if it would fly and enthusiastically escalated a little goody-bag fun into a free-for-all war between both kids and adults using sticky hands and mini water guns.

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Here’s our guy in all his glory releasing the balloons and beer can.

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It was fun watching it fly away. Never mind that a wind vortex cut the flight short.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sticky hand fight lasted a solid 20 minutes.

This sticky hand fight lasted a solid 20 minutes. That’s my little nugget in the middle protecting herself from a sticky slap. Smart girl!

 

I’m so glad he’s on my team in this parenting game and in general!  I Hope you’re all having fun with your favorite dads this weekend and/or remembering some of the fun shenanigans that they were involved in if they’re no longer around.

Cheers,

Colleen

An Unexpected Date Night

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Yesterday was Friday the 13th and there was an eerie looking full moon to boot, not that I cared or that you should care, I’m just laying some ground work for my story and figured I’d lead with that. So anyways, yesterday afternoon my oldest two went fishing with their Aunt and cousin for a while as my youngest took a 4 hour nap. I worked on my 2013 photo book until my house filled back up with the welcome chaos of children quarreling, men drinking and moms fluttering about trying to throw dinner together on the fly. So it was shaping up to be a normal Friday night until I got a call at 5pm from my MIL offering to take the kids for a sleep over.

After verifying that my husband hadn’t invited anyone over with their kids I happily accepted the sleepover invite and finished getting dinner on the patio table for my crew. Soon Grandma showed up, a few fire works were set off, remaining food was stuffed down little throats, I ran to pack the overnight bag, our guests headed home, I installed the car seats in G-ma’s car and ushered my minions into their seats, gave hugs and kisses to the cries of my youngest and sent them on their way.

It was a whirl-wind hour and a half and as my husband and I stood alone in our kitchen starring at the empty dinner plates that littered the counter and listening to the quiet that had descended so quickly upon our home we couldn’t help but feel like strangers in a place that was our own. We reveled in our new found freedom having no parental responsibilities, no babysitter to relieve at the end of the night. I cleaned up the dinner mess and joined my husband on the patio at which point I acknowledged how exhausted I was. He suggested I go take a nap on the couch while he waited for a few buddies to show up. I didn’t need convincing and as I lay there on our couch with my dogs on the floor next to me I once more reveled in the absence of or minions and noted how wonderful it felt to lay there instead of going through the bedtime routine.

Of course I didn’t sleep since that would have been a waste of a perfectly good night of potentially good times so I joined the guys around the fire pit to shoot the shit and enjoy some adult conversation. Around 9pm they left to head home to their wives and again I found myself in the kitchen with my husband just enjoying his company and his adoring stares. As it turns out, he likes me a lot. I really like dessert, so I suggested we go out and get some. We headed to Chile’s, a place we frequented back when we were still just dating. Back when it was just the two of us instead of the five of us and every Friday night was full of endless possibilities. We ordered the Southwest Egg Rolls and Chocolate Molton Cake, just like we use to, and although it was 10 o’clock by the time we finished up, my favorite guy suggested we go see a movie, again, just as we use to. So we did. Because we could.

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Despite my lack of hunger we bought popcorn and a Cherry Coke, because that’s just what you do, and as we looked around the lobby watching the teenagers and other movie-goers my husband decided to play just one game. I wish I could report that I was the girl standing next to the video game machine admiring my guy as he crushed it but in reality he got his ass kicked by the game. I laughed at him, he laughed at himself and then we went to watch the semi-funny, kinda crappy movie. By 1am we were back home, we made out a little, (yup, just like we use to) and passed out.

I got the uninterrupted sleep I’ve been desperate for and now that it’s 10:30 in the morning I think it’s time to greet this beautiful day, give my favorite guy a foot rub and go gather our minions from grandma.

Thanks for letting me brag about my awesome night. I hope you’ve had some stellar Summer nights lately too! Enjoy the weekend and happy Father’s Day to all you great guys out there, especially the one laying beside me!
Cheers,
Colleen