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Tiaras and Trucks

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lasagna Cupcakes for Kids

I am so unbelievably far from a food blogger, but this is such an easy peasy thing to make that I thought I'd pass it along.  What makes these a genius kind of meal is that you can modify them individually in the muffin tins to cater to individual tastes, and they're mistake-proof enough that kids can help.  Well, not sixteen-month olds, but you can feed them little pieces of mozarella while your three-year old helps.

You'll need:

Muffin tin
24 Wonton wrappers (they're in the produce section, near the tofu and mushrooms at my grocery store)
Spaghetti sauce
Shredded mozarella (between 1 - 2 cups depending on how much your kids snack during the preparation)
Small-ish container of ricotta
Maybe a cup of shredded or grated parmesean

You can add:

Baby spinach (cooked into the sauce or added whole as a layer)
Ground beef, turkey, or sausage (cooked into the sauce)
Shredded carrots or zucchini (cooked into sauce)
Pretty much anything else that sounds good in lasagna

Prep Work:

Get your sauce ready (I told you I wasn't a food blogger - I opened a jar of Garden Style Ragu)
Season ricotta if you're so inclined (I used a couple teaspoons of Italian Herbs and garlic powder)
Mix ricotta and parmesean cheese together
Preheat your oven to 375
Spray your muffin tins with non-stick spray


Press a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each muffin cup
Add ricotta mixture to the bottom of the cup (approximately a tablespoon)
Cover ricotta with sauce (again, approximately a tablespoon)
Sprinkle with shredded mozarella
Press another wonton wrapper on top of the mozarella
Again, some ricotta
Then some sauce
Finish with mozarella

Bake about 18 - 20 minutes at 375 degrees (cheese will bubble and brown)
Let stand for about five minutes before eating to allow the lasagnas to firm up a little

I hope you're not laughing too hard at my goofy attempt to explain my cooking, but these are seriously so easy and my kids liked them a lot.  (If you like the idea, you can find other, better recipes with a quick search, I'm sure!)

my pathetically small counter space
and jarred spaghetti sauce
and bagged shredded mozarella
the milk is just there for Abbey to drink 
the top nine have layer one completed
the bottom three have the second wonton wrapper added 
layer two - some with just ricotta/parm mixture, some with ricotta and sauce 
the finished product
I guess you could make them look prettier by folding in the wrappers?

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Gone But Not Forgotten

Memorial Day is a day to honor those who died in our nation's service, to honor our fallen heros.

My grandfather, our Pap, came back from the war safe and whole and able to tell stories about drinking beer with his buddies, young and in an unknown land.  Yet I can't help thinking of him on this day, with our gorgeous flag introducing parades and tributes.

I can't see a flag without thinking of him and missing him, yet being so thankful he was in my life for more than thirty years. 

Abbey met him, and loved him, but one day her memories will mingle with the stories we tell about him, and she won't be able to separate her memories from ours.  And that's ok, because all of our tales are seeped in love, and she and Dylan will feel how much we loved him.

Happy Memorial Day
Abbey playing in "Pap's stones" around his flagpole 
Dylan pressing buttons, with Pap's picture in the background

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Climb into the Delorean...

...we're headed back to 1995!

Liz, who needs to be voted Most Spirited for her dedication to the Seniors of Blogville High, set up a hilarious link-up for us to share our senior photos.  Formally called "I Was a Senior Hottie", you can find the virtual senior class here.

I don't know about hottie, but I could definitely wield a curling iron and rock some acrylic nails!

holy dark lipstick!
holy half inch curling iron!
you can't really see my hot pink (what was I thinking?) talons acrylic nails, but they're there
I hope my posture has improved since then
our serious competition uniform
back before fun skimpy cheerleading uniforms
I'm from Michigan - football games got pretty cold! 
face blurred to protect the innocent
Prom night

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I Might Regret Saying That

With the amount of conversation that takes place in our house each day, there are bound to be some discussion mishaps.  Unfortunately, Abbey has Ryan's memory; she remembers minute details about things I say months after the fact.

Her love of Honey Bear is abundant, and who can blame her?
One day she was continually asking about getting a pet.  A dog, like Honey Bear, or a cat or maybe a baby lion.  I was able to diffuse the question for a while by trying to explain that lions only live in the zoo or in Pride Rock (like Simba from The Lion King). 

That only kept the request at bay for a short time.  I should have just told her we weren't getting a pet, but it's hard hurting her little animal-loving heart.

So I told her our house isn't big enough for a pet, except a fish that she can have when she's four.

Not one to miss a loophole, she asked if we could get a pet when our house gets bigger.  Or when we get a bigger house.

All of this is fine.  What's not fine is that whenever we visit a house with a pet, she loudly pronounces, "They must have a bigger house than us!  They have a dog!"

I'm starting to get some odd looks.  Lesson learned; I will be a little more careful about how I answer her questions!

Until our house gets bigger, she will have to settle for Pup.
this is Pup
of course Pup is pink 
and no, it's not her birthday
although we did sing happy birthday
to Pup of course

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Friday, May 27, 2011

The Ultimatum

This week’s Red Writing Hood prompt was to write a short piece - 600 words max - that begins with the words, "This was absolutely the last time" and ends with "She was wrong." If you would like to know more about Greta’s story, there are links to my other posts below.

“This was absolutely the last time I’ll wait around for you!” Greta spat the words out.

“I won’t always wait around for you,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

“This isn’t happening again. You swore you would be here,” Greta accused.

Unfortunately, the mirror wasn’t offended or hurt by her practice confrontation. Her shoulders sagged as she realized that her husband probably wouldn’t be as offended as she would like either. If he was worried about her reaction, he wouldn’t have missed their second “starting over” dinner.

Greta had desperately wanted to believe that James’ heartfelt speech about fixing their marriage was actually heartfelt, delivered passionately after Elisabeth’s birth, both of them in tears.

She had wanted to believe that their miscarriage had truly been their miscarriage and not just hers.

She had wanted to believe that their marriage was salvageable.

He had held both of her hands in his, twisting her thin wedding band between his fingers, and asked her to meet him for dinner at a restaurant they had frequented both during their dating days and in the early days of their marriage. She hadn’t been able to meet his eyes, embarrassed that they had come to the point that they had to be so tentative and careful with each other. Focusing on his fingers against the symbol of their vows, she had hopefully promised to meet him, thirty minutes later than he usually came home, just in case he got caught up at work.

The first night, she waited far too long at the small table. Ice melted in her glass, condensation spreading across the heavy tablecloth. Her chilled white wine was finished by the time she stood up at the table, although she had purposely sipped only the smallest tastes of Pinot Grigio.

He apologized profusely when he walked into the bedroom late that evening, knowing she was only feigning sleep under the tasteful duvet, chosen carefully with fingers entwined, dreaming of the talks they would have and the family they would build surrounding by its feathery softness.

Greta could hear the lie in his voice as he blamed one of the partners for a long-winded meeting he couldn’t escape. Tears leaked from behind her closed lids and she didn’t move until the next morning, when she agreed to give him another chance to talk about what they could do together to help her heal.

She hadn’t issued an ultimatum then, but it hung in the air between them, heavy and dark.

She had truly believed that the only ultimatum they would ever need was “’til death do us part.”

This time, she hadn’t ordered wine, and the ice cubes were still floating in her water glass when she pushed away from the table and stormed into the small bathroom, verbally hurling her pain into the mirror, imagining his eyes instead of her own looking back at her.

She willed her fingers to unclench from the edge of the porcelain pedestal sink. Spreading her fingers apart, she realized her wedding band was suddenly weightless.

When she looked back into the mirror, James’ eyes were gone, and she could see herself clearly. The face in the mirror was void of anger for the first time in months.

Without anger, she knew that she could heal.

Without anger, she knew that she could forgive James.

Without anger, she knew that they could face the future together.

She was wrong.

Today's piece is the second part of Greta's story.  The other links are numbered chronologically. (1) (3) (4) (5)  (6)

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Kids Changed My Summer Don'ts

1. Don’t wear shorts.

 Skirts and sundresses have been my summer staples for years, until this year. Chasing two kids around and over play structures made me break one of my cardinal rules. There’s a pair of shorts in my summer rotation this year. Eeek.

2. Don’t leave the house without putting on sunscreen.

Now I make sure everyone is wearing sunscreen, then put more sunscreen in my bag, plus keep a back-up in the car, and try to figure out a way to keep a hat on Dylan’s head that doesn’t involve some sort of adhesive. I’ve had my share of sunburns, and I’m doing my best to make sure my kids don’t have to deal with that.

3. Don’t skimp on the ice cream.

Instilling healthy eating habits in kids who throw any vegetable I try to sneak on their plates directly onto the floor is tough enough without introducing a sugar addiction in the form of creamy, delicious ice cream. Moderation is key here.

4. Don’t turn down the volume on your favorite summer tunes.

It’s easier to say that when your summer jams aren’t the same four songs from the Glee Soundtrack that your three-year old insists on listening to every time you’re in the car. Even Dylan is starting to sing along. Without words.

5. Don’t complain about the weather.

I dislike cold so much that it seems ridiculous to ever complain about the heat, but I’m not going to feel as fondly about those refreshing summer rain showers as I have in the past. I’m counting on lots of park and zoo days this year!

6. Don’t wear Birkenstocks or Crocs unless you’re gardening.

I still won’t be sporting those particular styles of sandal, but I might invest in a pair of cute, yet comfortable flat sandals that aren’t flip flops. My wedges are cute, but they aren’t built for speed, and I’m going to need all the speed I can muster to keep Dylan out of danger this year.

7. Don’t sleep in a tent while there’s a hotel in the vicinity.

I am breaking my camping boycott for the first time in years to take Abbey and Dylan on a one-night camping adventure with their friends Connor and Madison. I hear you can rent tents from REI. I wonder if they’ll just let us camp in the store and call it a day?

8. Don’t let your bra straps show.

I still think this is an important don’t. However, post-nursing, I can’t justify a strapless bra just on the off chance that a tank top strap might slip a little one way or the other.

9. Don’t get dehydrated.

Water’s still key to staying safe in the summer heat, but I’m adding snacks, a diaper, and extra wipes as mainstays in my purse. And a change of clothes stashed in the back of my car.

10. Don’t wear white before Memorial Day.

Hello? I have a three-year old and a one-year old. I can’t wear white EVER.

This post was prompted by Mama Kat's Writing Workshop.
In no way am I qualified to tell you what to do or not do this summer, so enjoy yourself any way you see fit.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Making Him Laugh

Not only can Aunt Jessica take some fun pictures, she can make Dylan giggle like crazy.  I'm pretty sure listening to Dylan laughing reduces stress by 38% or some similar statistic, because he is that adorable when he's laughing!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beating the Heat - RemembeRED

Summer in Michigan is a chain of beaches and lakes and warm, sunny days linking Memorial Day and Labor Day. But there are also those other days, the days baked by a heat that made it impossible to go outside with bare feet, where jelly shoes seemed to create a conduit of fire between tender toes and the oven of blacktop stretched across parking lots.

Even ice cream couldn’t touch that kind of heat.




Bees stayed close to their favorite flowers, buzzing lazily in the shade.

That kind of heat made you ache with wanting a pool, wet and refreshing, filled with floating rafts and filmy swim goggles.

We didn’t have a pool.

We had trips to the beach to play in the lake and a makeshift slip and slide stretched across the backyard and plenty of sprinklers that shot water so cold they made us shiver and gasp until the sun immediately scorched our bathing suits dry.

Even running through the sprinklers required too much movement of arms and legs under the sun; we eventually had to retreat inside.

But during the seemingly stifling summer days of my childhood, even our house wasn’t a haven from the sun; my parents hadn’t yet installed the central air conditioning that now keeps their house cool and comfortable in the summer heat. Without any breeze to blow through the open windows, the air inside was as stagnant and exhausting as it was outside.

Except for a single oasis: the approximately fourteen by fourteen square feet that comprised my parents’ bedroom, where a window air-conditioning unit could be turned as cool as you wanted, contrasting so greatly with the air in the hallway or my west-facing bedroom.

Our sleeping bags, mine pink and covered with images of Barbie, were rolled carefully into a corner for nights when the heat seemed too unbearable to sleep in our own, non-air-conditioned rooms.

The problem with the room was that between the king bed and the large dresser, and our sleeping bags, and us, there wasn’t much room for much else.

Thankfully, my parents were resourceful and generous, and their oversized bed became an island of board games. Board games like Sorry and Trouble, with its plastic dome, keeping the die from rolling off the bed to the floor. Later, we graduated to Clue, with its endless possibilities of murderous scenarios.

Those were fun and passed the time and fostered healthy sibling competition, but none of them could usurp Memory as my favorite way to waste a too-hot afternoon.

Organized rows and columns of cards, patterned on one side, matching pictures on the other. I would methodically flip, flip, replace, flip, flip, replace, flip, match, add the match to the stack growing carefully next to me on the bed.

I would play with my brother or a friend or my mom or myself, trying to match all of the cards in as short a time as possible, using fewer flips than I did the game before.

Sorry and Trouble and Chutes and Ladders meant hanging your luck on the roll of a die or the spin of a plastic arrow; Memory depended only on brainpower.

Interestingly, Ryan laughs at me now, because I’m constantly forgetting things absentmindedly, depending on lists and my planner and post-its to keep my life organized.

But back in that air-conditioned room, I didn’t need lists or jotted notes.

I was the Memory queen.

This post is in response to the RemembeRED prompt "Let's Play"
This week, we want you to recall the games you played when you were young.  Did you love Monopoly, Yahtzee, or Uno? Or did you prefer backgammon, Trouble, or Scrabble?  Write a piece that explores one of your memories.

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Hello Spring

Despite the gloom and the rain of the last few days, I'm feeling positive about our weather, thanks to an absolutely gorgeous Saturday afternoon.  We had a slow start to our day (much like Michigan's slow start to spring, actually), but after lunch and Dylan's nap, our family of four went to walk around our little downtown to enjoy the sunshine.

Abbey, in typical Abbey fashion, was so excited to go downtown.  She kept trying to convince Ryan to take her during Dylan's nap, saying it was fine if Dylan and I just stayed home.  A little bit of Candyland and a trip to the hardware store with Daddy held her off until after Dylan's nap and a snack for both of them.

Her eagerness made it all the more hilarious when we realized she wasn't really sure what "downtown" meant.  When we pulled into our parking space, she asked, "Well, where is it?  Where are we going?"

Then she wanted to know if there was a park.  Unfortunately, no park, but we spent some time playing in the Barnes & Noble kid's area, until Dylan tried to go down the up escalator one too many times.

Finally, she asked to: "Go in there!" about every storefront and restaurant that we passed.

I hope she's always as enthusiastic about trying new things and venturing outside of her comfort zone.

The calendar might have welcomed spring about two months ago, but I think it's finally safe to say that it's time to put away our boots and heavy sweaters.
thank you Aunt Jane for the adorable spring clothes

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Goodbye Winter

I'm not sure if I'm to blame for exposing my kids to an unusual number of germs or if this year's viruses were stronger than we're used to, but we definitely seemed to have a sicker-than-normal winter around here.

From stomach viruses to the common cold to unknown fever and general malaise, Ryan, Abbey, Dylan, and I were all hit hard this year. 

Until this year, Abbey's managed to stay fairly healthy, and it was difficult to see her sick.  It was even more difficult to get her to take any sort of medicine, and I had my first foray into Mommy bribing, letting her have ice cream in exchange for simply swallowing some baby Motrin.

Dylan, thankfully, is better with taking medicine, but it may have been even sadder to see such a little guy getting sick over and over.  Sleepy and cuddly when he doesn't feel well, it broke my heart a little that he was sicker in one year than Abbey has been in three!

Needless to say, despite many fun moments, we are all ready to finally say "see ya!" to the Winter of 2010!
feeling sick and snuggling with teddy 
a little Cookie Monster helps a little, too

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Why and How of It

Some days Abbey talks, almost non-stop, for hours at a time.  Great segments of our conversations involve answering some form of the question, "why?"

What is Fancy Nancy thinking?  Why is she sad?  Why is Grandma your mommy?  Why is green Daddy's favorite color?  Why?

Dylan's verbal capabilities don't yet allow for such questions, but watching him at his train table or near anything with buttons makes it clear that his questions are more likely to start with, "how?"

How does the train track make that sound?  How does pressing that button make water come out of the fountain?  How does cheese get out of the package?  How?

Sure, there are moments when these questions grow tiring.  I have answered with a short, "because" a few times and other times I have to bite it back, remembering that they are looking to me for real answers, that their questions are relevant and important.

Most of the time, the questions make me smile and often they make me laugh.  They are innocent and creative and thoughtful in ways that Abbey doesn't even realize as she's asking them, and I hope that my answers help to fuel her inquisitive mind.

In years to come, I hope that curiosity will drive them both to question their teachers, to question what they see in the media, to question what they read on the internet, to question what Ryan and I teach them.

The can be darker aspects to curiosity, the temptation to tred down dangerous paths, and that curiosity worries me already.  Hopefully, we're able to instill a strong moral compass alongside all of those whys and hows.

For now, I can simply give Abbey the best answers I can and hope that Dylan can find the space between her breaths to ask some questions of his own.
why is the frog in the box?
why does he stick out his tongue?
how does it make the clackity-clack sound?
hmmmmm, I'll figure it out myself

Whats Your Word
the word of the week is curious
go visit Mommy Words to read about other curious kids and the moms that answer their questions

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Recovering from the Weekend

When picturing the aftermath of our Vegas trip, I imagined Ryan and I would need a few days to recover from all of the fun.  Vegas, after all, is a city where sleeping is an afterthought, maybe done in brief naps in the afternoon or snoozes by the pool.

Plus, let's be honest, Ryan and I haven't exactly been breaking any curfews lately, unless you count late night studying and blogging.

I guess my late nights sleeping on the couch with the worst teether in the entire world Dylan prepared my body for a lack of sleep, and our daily dance parties prepared me to sing out of tune and make a fool of myself on the dance floor, because days after our return, I'm feeling fine.

Other people in the family weren't so well-prepared for a weekend away.

Grandma and Grandpa have some explaining to do.  They obviously run a party establishment that rivals anything found on the Vegas strip.
after lunch the other day, I ran upstairs to pick up a few things
less than five minutes later, I returned to find this 
we went to Costco the other morning
he fell asleep in the car, so I put him on the couch
he always wakes up within minutes of a car nap
this time it took about 120 minutes

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011


We're back from Vegas, and I wanted to let everyone know that we hit the jackpot. 

If you define jackpot as countless uninterrupted showers, complete with putting on my make-up without sharing it with either of my kids, then I won.

If you define jackpot as hours and hours of time with Ryan, laughing about nothing and talking about everything, then I won.

If you define jackpot as drinking a banana colada on a beach (a man-made one, but there was sand!) while devouring Water for Elephants and In Style magazine, then I won.

If you define jackpot as taking a long, leisurely nap while Ryan played blackjack for a couple hours, then I won.

If you define jackpot as having an impromptu dance party while getting ready, with the music loud enough that Ryan called from outside of the room to see what exactly was happening inside, then I won.

My favorite winnings, though, came back in Michigan when I got to hug and kiss Abbey and Dylan millions of times while hearing about all the fun they had with Grandma and Grandpa.

As for the money kind of jackpot?  I guess that'll have to wait until our next visit, because my paltry $30 in gambling money stayed in Nevada.
probably the best of the five pictures I took
it's like I forget what to do with a camera when the kids aren't around!

And my not-at-all professional travel opinions are:
Mandalay Bay - two enthusiastic thumbs up (I told Ryan I never want to stay anywhere else, but who knows when it's time to plan again)
Viva Elvis by Cirque de Soleil - two thumbs up with reservations (I get that the slow songs are some of his biggest hits, but they didn't hold my attention)
Burger Bar (Hubert Keller) - casual but delicious and maybe my favorite meal, even though I got a Cobb salad (I don't do burgers)

Feel free to share your Vegas favorites!  I love hearing about other people's vacations.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Hunting Eggs and Busting Myths

Days after Easter was officially over, we celebrated with a final "spring egg hunt".  Overkill?  Maybe.  I'm a self-confessed holiday junkie, though, so I don't mind squeezing each bit of magic and excitement out of a holiday, stretching them into preparations and celebrations that last long enough to see the next one looming on the horizon.

Abbey happily toted their Easter baskets on her lap as we trekked over to a neighborhood park in the big double stroller, feeling a little sentimental and weepy about how much heavier they were to push this year, little people ready to find eggs and nosh on candy before lunch.

Dylan cracked open an egg almost immediately, spilling M & M's into his little basket, more colorful with their red and blue shells than the packets from my childhood.  He carefully chose a blue morsel, but kept it gripped in his hand while searching around for a glimpse of his sister. 

I can attest that the old slogan, "melts in your mouth, not in your hand" isn't technically true.  When the hand is the tightly-clenched, chubby fist of a toddler running and stumbling around a park, the candy does, indeed, melt in your hand, leaving trails of blue dye and warm chocolate clinging to faces and fingers and clothes.

Thankfully blue and brown blend right in with his usual streaks of dirt that we are inevitably cleaning after a park visit.
the egg containing the myth-busting m & m's 
his favorite egg, even though he needed both hands to hold it 
pink AND metallic, it was practically custom made for her

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Aunt Jessica's Photo Shoot

Nothing like a spectacular godmother to make a little girl feel extra special.  On Easter, Aunt Jessica treated Abbey to a "photo shoot".  As you can see, Abbey appreciated the concept!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Someone's Been Spending Time With Grandma

With Ryan buried in books and actuarial calculations, the kids and I took a day-long road trip this weekend to the west side of the state for Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Joe's 40th anniversary party. 

Loaded up with snacks, plans to stop and visit with Amanda and Joe after the party, the Glee and Lion King Soundtracks (for Abbey) and the Born this Way singles remix (for me), we were ready for the ride.

Happily cruising towards our destination, we met a little construction.  I hardly noticed; it would be more surprising to road trip in Michigan without finding a pocket or two of large orange barrels along the route.  I lowered our speed to a still-respectable 60 MPH.

A large, exaggerated sigh floated up from the back seat.

"What is it Abbey?  Is something wrong?"

"Dylan doesn't like this road anymore."

"Why not, honey?"

"There's too many cars, and now we're going sooooooo slow.  Dylan doesn't like it."

Dylan was sleeping at the time.

So, congratulations Grandma.  I might have inherited your brown eyes, but it looks like Abbey already has your lead foot.
on our way home
I needed a little Starbucks, and she insisted on a "special drink", too

Also, what a lovely party and celebration of a wonderful family.  40 years of marriage, 3 special and accomplished daughters, and 5 adorable grandchildren - Aunt Rosalie and Uncle Joe are truly an inspiration to those of us starting down this marriage and parenting road!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Visiting with Friends

Kir is a blogger-turned-friend I met through The Red Dress Club, and she is one of those people I wish lived around the corner next door.  She can always make me smile, she's girly in a lipstick-loving and shopping and Royal-Wedding-watching way, and who doesn't need a friend like that to be honest about whether that new pair of shoes is absolutey inappropriate for playground playdates?

Also, she is an enthusiastic and fun-loving mother to two adorable little boys, an infertility success story, and someone who treasures her role so dearly.

And she asked ME to do a guest post for The Kir Corner, her lovely blog.  (Insert permanent happy face here!)

At first I was scratching my head about coming up with a "proud mommy moment" that felt right for my first guest post. Some days I feel proud that I got to go to the bathroom without a major meltdown happening three inches from the (open) door. Other days I feel proud of everything, from the way the kids are playing together to the way Abbey knows the words to "Don't Stop Believing" to the way Dylan stops playing just to toddle over for a Mommy hug.

But, as usual, I wasn't at a loss for words for long! Please come visit me over at Kir's this morning and then stay to get to know her.

the virtual Kirsten
notice the fabulous red shoes?
I told you, she's great

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Through Their Eyes

Sand!  The RemembeRED prompt this week had to do with sand, and with vacation on my mind, and sun outside, I couldn't help adding this to my "must-do" list!

Tawny grains, countless, clung to the tops of my feet and the spaces between my toes, and I dreaded the moment my mom would insist we bathe our feet and legs at the junction between beach and oven-like concrete.

The little silver spigot spit out water, always ice cold, that chased away the sand and bits of seaweed marking the hours we had spent splashing in the water and crouching in the sand, building intricate moats and canals surrounding rudimentary castles.

My feet seemed naked and cold in my childhood sandals without that armor of sand keeping them warm, and I didn’t understand why we had to chase away the remnants of the day with that icy water.

The mystery of my mother’s fascination with the ritual cleansing revealed itself years, and countless beach trips, later. I am the one finding and cleaning bandit grains of sand for days and weeks after spending a day at the beach.

I live in a state surrounded by a multitude of water, the Great Lakes State, but I used to scoff at our beaches, wishing we could be back in Hawaii with its exotic lava beaches or Mexico with its soft, fine, sugary sand.

Abbey has never been to Ka’anapali Beach or Playa del Carmen or Tampa or Cape Cod or any of the exotic locations found on the Travel Channel.

But she knows that as the seasons change and the last vestiges of daylight peek through her black-out curtains at night, we begin to plan our annual trek to the west side of the state, or as she calls it, “going to the beach with Uncle Joe and Aunt Amanda.”

Dylan has never known a time when his parents and their friends could throw some beer and food into a cooler after a long, late night and spend the day alternating between lounge chairs and beach towels, breaking the routine only to toss around a football or wander down to the water to get some relief from the heat, tentatively exposing heat soaked skin to still-cool lake water.

But he knows the shade of an oversized umbrella and the peals of laughter that announce his sister’s return from the water’s edge with another sand pail filled with a mixture of water and sand to try to make castles and shapes near the beach blanket.

They have never known the stinging pain of too much sun on their shoulders. Lathered and sprayed and covered and shielded, yellow beams of sun bring only heat and warmth and maybe a need for Hello Kitty sunglasses.

They have never known the anxiety of swimsuit shopping, scrutinizing their bodies from every angle and finally just hoping that fabulous sunglasses will make up for the multitude of faults, real and imaginary that are seen in the mirror. She only knows the joy of a princess bathing suit pulled tight over the childish roundness of her tummy. He only knows the satisfactory thumps he can make by smacking his little palms against a belly finally left uncovered by a onesie.

Watching Dylan squint happily in the sun, looking quietly up at Ryan, I forget about the pounds and pounds of gear we precariously pulled over the sand and will have to pull back.

Watching Abbey run forward in glee, then dive headfirst into the sand, rolling around until she’s covered, I forget about the grains and grains of sand I will have to rub out of my lip gloss and spit out of my lunch.

Watching them, I forget about the feeling of not-good-enough I felt when I put on my bathing suit. I enjoy Amanda’s deliciously crispy, homemade pita chips and baba ganoush and appreciate that my body is alive and strong and able to cradle Abbey in my arms when the water is too cold for her to walk.

Watching them, I bury my feet in the sand, letting it cling to my skin, and I don’t wash it off as we walk to the car, instead letting it dry in the sun and slide silently back to the ground.

though originally a RemembeRED prompt, I'm linking with Miss Elaine-ous Monday
I need the reminder a little lately and maybe it will strike a chord with you, too

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Bubbles Aren't Fun Dip

There's an overwhelming consensus that women forget about the physical pain of labor as a defense mechanism designed to make sure we have more babies. 

I seem to have blocked out the pesky phase in Abbey's life when she ate everything and anything she could get into her little hands.  I don't mean the phase where she happily ate a wide variety of foods, because I'm still waiting for that one.  I mean the phase where she liked to nosh on non-food items.

Dylan has gleefully galloped into that phase with open arms, an open mouth, and little fists clenched around anything I don't want near his mouth.

I vaguely remember having to watch Abbey in stores to make sure she wasn't picking up things from the shelves to eat.  But mostly, it's a hazy memory of a cute little girl investigating the world around her.

That memory is a lie.

Because this phase?  The eating everything in sight phase?  This phase is disgusting.

In Macy's, he bent down to find a half-eaten Oreo under a display.  I tackled him before he got it in his mouth. (Aunt Jessica witnessed that one, lucky her!)

At the park, he munches on sticks and wood chips and grass.

Outside, he delicately licks stones and dandelions and my keys.

In our driveway, he samples sidewalk chalk and bubbles.

He's learned the word "yuck", because I say it each time I remove an offending object from his hand or his mouth.

I think he has the meaning confused with "yum".

I hope this isn't a long phase.


hmm, looks interesting
this little stick is kind of like a spoon
tastes a little like my bath toys
because I like chewing on those, too

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Volleyball Might Not Be Her Game

Having spent most of my life truly believing I didn't have an athletic bone in my body, I want to be sure that Abbey feels like she can play sports if that turns out to be one of her interests.

She's a pretty tough little girl; falls and bumps and bruises don't bother her.  She can run and kick at the same time (sometimes).  Soccer might be her thing.

She's still asking about gymnastics classes and playing balance beam on Dylan's crib.  Maybe she'll be flying between uneven bars before we know it.

She's absolutely enchanted by her daddy, and baseball has a special place in his heart (alongside every other sport known to man).  Perhaps she'll be able to perfect that crazy looking underhand softball pitch.

But volleyball?  It might not be in her genes. 

Four generations of women in my family were together this April, so we (of course) captured it on film.
it has to be noted that I am 5'1" (on a good day)
and I am in my bare feet in this picture 
Dylan wanted to play, too

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