Saturday, July 31, 2010

We Like to Imagine We're All Friends

Jane's mission to refuel the squirrels was a success. I was sitting at the computer tippy-typing away when I heard, through the patio door, the crunch, crunch of a little mouth. Baby Budge! My how you've been growing!

Oh, yes. It's just me, not to fear. I'm just going to hold up this big black thing in front of my face and make clicking noises. Just pictures, my dear. Do keep enjoying your meal!

Oh, off you go. Not to worry. I'll leave you be. I completely understand. I don't want people taking pictures of me while I'm eating, either. Go tell your friends there is plenty more for them to eat and we'll all give you the privacy you most certainly require. Bon App├ętit!

Friday, July 30, 2010

For the Squirrels and Otherwise

The older tots have been at soccer camp this past week, so Miss Jane and I have had some extra time together. Quite nice. After a mid-morning snack, Jane decided that the squirrels needed one too.

She set some lovely peanuts all about the yard -- In easy places for the baby (Baby Budge, as the babies are always named) and some more challenging locations for the wily Chester, clever Cindy, and the rest of their dexterous little compatriots. But halfway through the peanut placement, Jane decided that the peanuts looked pretty good to her too. Don't worry. Squirrels like to share.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fruited Sugar Pots

The girls discovered that we had some blueberries ready in the backyard. Not an abundant supply, but definitely enough to make something tasty with.

Lucette wanted to make a dessert without a recipe ... "And don't even check on the computer for one, Mom!" While I tend to love directions, I was pretty confident we could handle this culinary expedition on our own.

So, out came the ramekins, the sugar, the brown sugar, the flour, butter, oats, and a dash of nutmeg. The girls both help with the mixing, cutting in, and readying for the oven.

25 minutes later we had bubbling berry goodness. The girls dubbed the delectable dish as "Fruity Sugar Pots." Works for me.

It was agreed that the berry pots should be saved for an after dinner treat. Jane, however, couldn't stop smelling them and wishing, wishing she could take a taste. "Mama, just looking at them is so tilting." Tempting or tilting, I was right there with her. They did look very good.

Two little girls, berries, butter, and a whole lot of sugar? The combo is bound to be scrumptious. And it was.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer in the City, Pt. 3

To conclude our day of extravagant fun, we headed over to the city's Art Museum for the free family day that was being offered. Much to our delight, they also had a bluegrass band and a dancing square right out front!

It didn't take long until our toes started tappin' and then the dance moves broke out. And by dance moves, I mean stompin' and clappin', laughin' and twirlin'. That's our kind of dancing.

Miss Jane is often quiet and reserved in public, but the girl has some boogie stored up inside of her that just has to bust out when the music is groovin'. She's a regular ol' dance machine that just won't quit.

Lucette is perhaps a bit more self-aware and reserved when it comes to gettin' jiggy with it. However, as soon as she realized she had a dress on that could twirl and billow, she would wind herself up and turn into a pretty pink top that kept on spinning.

The menfolk preferred to appreciate the music and the prancing from the sidelines. However, what is a Papa to do when his little girls want him to dance with them? Well, naturally, he gets right out there and dances like it's his favorite thing in the world. Which at that moment, might be exactly so.

We enjoyed ourselves so thoroughly, we only had a few minutes to buzz through the museum itself. No worries there ... just another activity awaiting us for the future.

We packed back into the van and left the city and all it's twinkling lights, taking with us the sweet day of memories made. Pops and I agreed ... time away with just the two of us is always a treat, but time away with the family can become, so easily, a treasure.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer in the City, Pt. 2

After all of our four-wheeled excitement, we'd worked up an appetite. In our family, there is nothing better to revive oneself than a tasty, tasty meal. Up to northwest we headed to eat a breezy alfresco meal together.

After salivating over the menu and hastily ordering, we settled back to enjoy the city sites while waiting for our eats to arrive. Jane, still fully accessorized, contented herself with menu coloring.

And Peter, in his quiet way, sat and relived every juicy, harrowing bit of our magnificent surrey expedition.

I did too. I have a feeling, however, he and I might recall the experience through slightly varied lenses. I was most horrified at how much he thoroughly loved being stuck on a sky-high bridge that hovered over, I'm certain, most troubled waters. I shudder at the recollection ...

... but I digress. And regardless of my own conniptions, all can be salved by a monstrous Pastrami Reuben from the locally famous, Kenny and Zukes. It's a must eat if you're ever in the northwest -- they serve up sheer sandwich bliss.

Once the bellies were full and our stamina refueled, it was time to press forward. The day certainly isn't over yet ...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer in the City, Pt. 1

This past weekend, Pops and I planned to have a date night. But, as things worked out, we scrapped the baby-sitter plan and decided to make a family event of it.

Naturally, date nights are needed and wonderful. We will try again soon. However, a family day full of purposeful adventure was more delight than we bargained for. Into the city we went and spent the day behaving like tourists. Herewith, part one of our excursion:

First up? Rent a gigantic surrey down at the waterfront. Here you see everyone in excited anticipation ... and Lucette trying not to smile. (Why do kids do that?)

Surreys are fantastical entertainment in the same way I view ferris wheels: old-fashioned fun that is calm and sweet as an observer, but a down-right adrenaline ride once you hop on and really get moving. (I swear I once those ferris wheel carts get a-swingin' way up high, I feel like immanent doom is upon me. Scariest ride at the fair, if you ask me.) Anyhow, besides nearly running over myriad pedestrians, peddling maniacally on the streets ... then sidewalks ... then streets of downtown, and praying that no one toppled out or sliced their feet on the razor sharp pedals ... it was completely safe and lots of fun.

Lucette wrestled with sheer invigorated enthusiasm of the experience and then down-right terror.

Below, you see her frumping as we had just pedaled over one of the city's many bridges to the east side. These are not little bridges, as they span a river that hosts actual ships and barges. She was a little shook up over the experience, and I can't say I blame her. I have a freak-out thing about bridges and I fear she may have acquired my neurosis in this area. Here you see me happy and assured that all is fine. After all, we made it over the bridge and isn't the day is beautiful! However ...

... if you had a picture of us 30 minutes later, you'd see me in a near fit of hysteria. You see, we had to get back to the west side and cross yet another bridge. This one more scary than the first, as you could see through it, down, down, down into the river below. And wouldn't you know, halfway across, alarms started sounding. A colossal barge was coming through and the bridge had to accommodate. An unusual draw bridge, this one has a middle section that separates from the whole and rises vertically.

Being stuck on an active drawbridge terrifies me in a car. But on a giant open car-bike, with small children, and sandwiched between cars and a woven metal railing with a watery grave on the other side? Oh mercy, I was fit to be tied. If the kids hadn't been with us (forcing me to hold it together and quiver and cry silently--pathetic, I know), I think I would have lost it entirely.

But then, Jesus listened to my fervent prayers about death by bridges and surreys and brought us safely to the other side. Phew.

As soon as I had pulled myself together and thumbed my nose at death and it's futile attempt upon our lives ... the happy day could resume once more. Naturally, riding the surrey through the fountain was top on Pops' list. And I mean through the fountain. The family kicked me out after the first run because I kept screaming and laughing and drawing entirely too much attention.

And round and round they went, happy to be drizzled and splashed and just to be together. Pops always knows how to turn on the fun.

Summer day with the family, part one? Adventure found, smiles bright. A much more tame part two to come ...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lavender Persuasion

I find, in the garden, I prefer plants that aren't too needy. No codependent botanical relationships, please! I need lovelies that can root themselves, stand a little neglect, and still smile at me sweetly when I remember to pay them some due attention.

Top on the list? Lavender. Hardy, gorgeous, refined yet not stuffy. Give 'em a little prune each year and they hardly ask for more. Any perennials you find yourself befriending time and time again?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lovey Dovey

All this lovey-dovey business of late has had me thinking of my own honey. Best decision I ever made.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life Opens Wide

First off, can we all just agree that this is about the most incredible wedding get-away vehicle ever? And the best part ... they didn't even know it was coming. Yes, they did have a friend offer for them to use their golf cart, which seemed perfect for their beach front wedding and golf-course reception. However, they had no idea it was going to be decorated to the hilt.

These are the kinds of people Peter and Allie gather around them. People that develop this deep care for them and they all seem to be looking for ways to show them how loved the two of them really are. The weekend was full of such examples.

I knew the wedding would be special. I just didn't anticipate how much it would impact me. It seems my brother grew up without me fully realizing it. I was just proud as punch to be his sister.

The entire wedding weekend was the most relaxed and purposeful event I've ever been to. No rushing about, no lists or intricate plans. Just the expectation for everything to be meaningful, and for the people present to be appreciated and honored.

And of course, it was all gorgeous. The flowers were as bright and striking as the bride herself and giant smiles decorated the faces of everyone there. It was a happy, happy day.

We are so very overjoyed for them both and blessed to be called theirs. It feels like life has just opened it's doors a little wider for each of us. God is good.

Friday, July 16, 2010

To Make Hearts Smile

My brother gets married this weekend. I've never seen him smile more since he met her. I think we'll all be grinning wide for the next few days.

Off to celebrate ...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mother Triumphs Again

Sometimes they are willing participants in my camera-happy moments. But. Sometimes they are not.

Sometimes they bury their head in the sofa and yell out a muffled: "Mmmommmm!"

Sometimes I listen and respect their wishes.

And sometimes I don't. Bwwaahaahaa ...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Still Beautiful

Can't quite bring myself to toss these tired roses. There is a stage right after fresh but before plain-ol' sorry looking, where wilted flowers look so elegant. Don't you agree?

Monday, July 12, 2010

In Front of the Camera

I am not one of those people who refuses to have her picture taken. It's fine, go ahead. A little smile and click ... no big deal. However, that is assuming there is at least one other person in the picture with me. A pic all by my lonesome? Oh, ugh. I turn into the biggest, nerdiest geek ever. I feel so lame being photographed, I start smiling super-cheesy smiles and begin jumping around like I am rather addled and confused.

So when Pops asked if he could take a picture of me in my pretty summer dress (that I didn't really need and he let me purchase anyways), I really didn't want to. But he looked so earnest, told me I was pretty, and ... he did buy me the pretty summer dress. So, I put my shoes back on without even bothering to buckle them and clumped outside.

The entire session took less than a minute but Pops kept the shutter button pressed. Out of the twenty or so shots, I managed to not look at the camera or be doing something rather odd for every single shot. But, oh well. We've already established that I am not hip or cool, I'm just a mom who likes to get dressed up sometimes. Everyone who actually knows me is not under the impression that move around like a sleek model, so really my photos are actually a pretty decent representation of the awkward me ... like it or not!

But here's the thing. Us moms are usually the ones behind the cameras. While we may not particularly love photos of ourselves, our kids will. I know the pictures from when I was young that include my mom are distinct treasures. To me, she looks gorgeous in every single one. And I have a feeling that 30 years from now, we'll think we look pretty darn fine too.

So here's my challenge, girls. I've seen your blogs and I love them. But I also know you are like me and feel goofy putting photos of yourself on display. Will you give it a whirl? Do it for your kids. Do it for yourself and then we can all meet back here in a few decades and wonder why we were all so self-conscious in the first place. Is it a deal?

Friday, July 9, 2010

For Each Other

When I looked up to see where the rubber boot-clad 4 year old was scampering off to, this is what I saw:

He had been reading in the hammock and apparently his sister made some unsolicited observations. She brought over a pillow for his head and small table for discarded socks and some fresh ice water with a straw.

And then she looked on with approval.

Goodness. It's moments like these that help me brave the bicker storms and frustrations that come with a cluster of children. I'm reminded of what a gift they are not only to me ... but to each other as well.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Official Drink of Summer

I love tea. Always have, always will. What I particularly love is black tea, no sweetener, please. In the winter I like it steamy hot, but the summer? Iced is a must.

So for summertime beverage bliss, I keep brewed black tea (strong!) in the fridge along with lemon slices. To assemble my ideal glass, I add the concentrated tea, water to dilute, ice, lemon, and a sprig of mint from the garden.

Ahhh. Now where is that hammock and my magazine?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Craft-y Story

A few months ago, I made mention of our busy little nook. The corner of the house that is a constant hub of activity and where I get a lot of work (and play) done.

After our recent project of busting holes in the wall to turn our desk drawer into a charging station, I was motivated to spruce up the slice of wall behind the computer monitor and above the desk space. The ill-fitting bulletin board was practical in function but not in form. I sensed it was time to gird myself and briefly venture into the world of ... crafting.

After a trip to the craft store (ugh ... why does this place make me nervous?) and a little bit of finagling, I came up with 1 foot square linen covered bulletin boards that stretch the length of wall above the desk and behind the monitor. Guess what? I love it. So much more streamlined and attractive yet still practical.

To make? Purchase 1 foot x 1 foot square cork tiles and attach w/ double sided tape to foam board cut to the same size. (The foam board makes the cork much more sturdy). With fabric cut to 14 inches square, wrap around cork and foam board (like you would upholster a cushion) and staple in place with a regular ol' stapler that has been opened up flat. That's it!

All I needed to secure the panels to the wall were those double-sided sticky foam squares. Five of the tiles stretched the length perfectly and I even have supplies for a few more. Perhaps the girlies will be the next benefactors?

As I don't consider myself overly craft-y (versus "crafty" as in wily, which I may or may not be), I was rather proud of the outcome of this recent effort. Perhaps because it didn't require glue. Or stickers. Or brushing on goo that has a scary name like "ModPodge."

Anyhow. There you have it. Anna braved the craft store, took a stab at a project, spent less than $10 on the whole deal, and is even pleased with the results. My pride know no bounds and that is exactly why I am bragging about it in a most shameful and self-congratulatory way.

The end.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The 4th In All It's Glory

Independence Day always comes as a mixed bag, for me. Love the flying flags, the red-white-&-blue, the barbeques, and the over-abundance of food. But the fire works? Meh. Kinda' loud, kinda' scary ... kinda' just freaks me out.

Of course, finding myself in a close network of family and friends who make homemade "boomers" out of black powder and non-dairy creamer (That would be Pops. Bizarre, right?) and beloved Grandpas that light the children's two-footed sparklers with an actual blow-torch could be where some of my issues stem.

Needless to say, I was so preoccupied, I took virtually no photos. And when Peter took a picture of Pops and myself, apparently I still managed to be distracted about the potential hazards Jane might be encountering during this fool-hardy moment of portraiture.

Or. It could be I was just so blinded by the fantastical fashion statement Pops was making. He wore this to church. Seriously, he did. (But tucked in, with a belt so it was more "dressy") A person sitting behind us mentioned they could barely concentrate on singing the hymn during the "stand-up" portion of the worship because she couldn't stop looking a his ensemble, and one man stopped us in the parking lot to tell Pops that, quote, "Those shorts are awesome, man. Really. It takes a real man to wear that. You're my hero."

Anyhow. Back to the more soothing elements of the celebration. Dessert. I baked a batch of Sweet Nest Brownies, but in a parchment lined jelly roll pan for 20 minutes, frosted with real chocolate frosting (Melt two squares unsweetened chocolate, cool and combine with 1/3 c. soft butter. Beat in 2 cups powdered sugar, 1.5 t. vanilla and 2 T milk or 'til creamy), sprinkled with turbinado sugar and topped with berries. Yum.

Now to get back into the swing of things this week. Anybody else in a post-holiday lazy slump like me?