The Family

The Family

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Weekend at the Pool

Some of my fondest summer memories from childhood are tied to time at the pool.

To make sure my own children begin building summertime pool memories, we spent the weekend at Matt's mom and stepdad's house hanging out at their pool.

Weekend pool time is a great chance for quality time with Dad!

Matt spent a lot of time teaching one to become more comfortable with the water while throwing the other as high as she could go!
Pool time, especially when it's a home pool, isn't just about swimming. Jack got a chance to understand more of what it takes to care for a pool when his Nanny showed him how to check the chemicals. Even though it's a saltwater pool, there still has to be the right balance.

And when your grandparents live on a golf course, sometimes an evening ride in the golf cart is a perfect end to a near-perfect day.

 Then add in plenty of squirrels, birds and bunnies along the trail to make it even better.

 Nothing says summer like quality time at the pool!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

There wasn't a pick up last week, but this week's supply more than made up for it.

Here's what we got today:




Leeks - I must admit, I'm not fond of these

Onions galore

Cherry Tomatoes


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Tastes of Summer

A year or two ago I was listening to "The Splendid Table" on NPR when the host asked how far one would be willing to travel for that first taste of a ripened summer tomato. 30 miles? 60 miles? 4 hours? 8 hours?

I answered all her questions as if she was sititng right there in the seat next to me. And I answered them all with a resounding YES!

My husband looked at me as if I were crazy. It wasn't the first time.

When I was a child I once developed a nasty rash. My parents believed it was because of the massive amount of tomatoes I had consumed the day before?????

I love, love, love, love fresh tomatoes. Not super market fresh, but just from the garden fresh. The more acidic, the better. Which is why I've been a bit disappointed in the tomatoes I've gotten at the farmer's market so far this summer. They just haven't been acidic enough.

Besides eating them in slices coated with salt and pepper, another way I enjoy them in the summer is in a cucumber salad. I've made at least one cucumber salad a week these past four weeks. It's super easy. Slice a tomato, a cucumber and an onion. Mix them in a large bowl with Kraft Zesty Italian. It's best after sitting in the fridge a few hours.

I also love making BLTs in the summer. I put a new twist on it last week when I fried some green tomatoes and added swiss cheese to my sandwich.

In addition to summer tomatoes, peaches are a big hit in our home. Jack enjoys eating them peeling and all. My favorite way to eat them is in a peach cobbler. I mix a cup of milk, a cup of sugar and a cup of self-rising flour together. I then add the peaches and about 1/2 stick of melted butter and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes. I got this recipe several years back from the person I buy the peaches from, and it's the easiest and best peach cobbler recipe I've come across.

Last week I used some of the blueberries we recently picked and did a blueberry cobbler the same way. Add a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, and you've got yourself a delicious and sweet summer treat.

And now I have a new summer favorite dish to add to my list. Just this past Friday, on the longest day of the year, we enjoyed a carrot dish at a Summer Solistice party. The carrots were thinly sliced and cooked in the oven for about 12 minutes with some butter and a chicken buillon cube. Fresh dill was sprinkled on top after they were removed. It was declicious! I can't wait to try making it myself. I'm thinking of adding a bit of squeezed lemon to my version.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Bug's Life

This here is our specimen box.

Don't let it fool you. It may look like an ordinary shoe box, but inside we have collected some of the summer's most interesting critters.

Disclaimer: No bugs were harmed during the collection process. All said specimens were deceased at the time of capture!!

Being a self-professed girly-girl, I know nothing about entymology. That is to say, I have no clue what any of these are except for the dead worm.

Jack, and sometimes Mattie, love our bug hunts.

We scoured every inch of this fence and noticed many unusual bugs in green and brown and black. One plank had so many baby spiders I felt a wee bit light-headed.

And this bush has been a flying bee, ladybug, wasp, you-name-it magnet this past week.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Challenge

I decided to take the Orange Rhino challenge after reading this blogpost on getting the upper hand on an out-of-control temper.

Lisa-Jo's post made me cry.

I can remember a time when Jack was a baby and thinking I would never be able to raise my voice to this precious soul. I wondered what kind of parent could yell at their child.

Now here I am in a place where I don't like who I've become as a mother. For the past six months all I feel like I've been doing is yelling.

So before it gets to the point where my children's memories are of a constantly frazzled and mad mom, I've decided to put the breaks on the yelling.

I've been extra conscious about it the past few days. I've taken some of the rhino's tips about figuring out my pressure points as well as trying to rate my decibel level - as well as my tone.

I'm officially beginning my 365 days of no yelling at my children (I'm going to add my husband into the mix for the heck of it as well) with this post. I'm sure I'll have to start over. I'm even more sure I'll have to start over multiple times.

I just want to tame this beast while there is still time.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Last week we became postcrossers.

Not sure what that means?

It's a term used to describe those that participate in the activity of postcrossing, a database of people from all over the world who send postcards to each other.

As soon as we officially became postcrossers, we headed to our local art museum to pick out some cards.

Postcrossers are allowed to send five cards at a time. Instead of sending them all in one day, I spread it out throughout the week so that Jack would have something to look forward to each morning.

People in Taiwan, Belarus, Russia, Germany and the Netherlands should hopefully be receiving their cards soon. That all depends on if I got the postage right????

Once our cards are received and recorded by the recipients in the database, we will be eligible to start receiving postcards of our own.

For those interested in the idea, you should check out the postcrossing website.

It's a fun way to learn about geography and to see countries through the eyes of their inhabitants.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Reading with the Children

We started going back to story time at our local library last week.

I say back because Jack and I went almost every week for several years, but stopped after Mattie was born. She had never been until last week. Such as it goes with the second child.

I'm happy to report she loves it, especially the songs!

Almost all libraries around the country have summer reading programs where patrons sign up to read a set number of books for the summer. Ours is no different. Though we participated the last two years in the read-along-with-a-parent category, I decided not to sign Jack up this summer.

I'm one of those people that rushes things. I knew if Jack had a list, even a small one, I'd likely take the joy out of reading by trying to make him move too quickly to the next book.

Instead, we're checking out books at our leisure. I'm letting Mattie get the first one she pulls off the shelf each time. Jack is back into the shark and president books we have checked out soooooo many times before. I'm adding some silly poetry books into the mix.

I also checked out two classics to read aloud. The first one, "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle," may not be considered a classical in the literal sense, but it is to me. I loved reading these stories when I was a child about how Mrs. Piggle Wiggle helped parents teach their children how to behave properly. Now that I'm a parent myself, the complaints of the children throughout the book sound all too familiar.

We began "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" today. I especially like how the writer introducing the book refers to it as "a book for boys." There's already been a fight in the first chapter. If that doesn't ring true to the nature of a lot of boys, I'm not sure what does.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got this week:

This may look like only a few onions, but there were at least 20 in the bag

Squash, Cucumber and Eggplant

Unfortunately, the picture of our hand-picked blueberries, by which I mean picked by us, didn't come through.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Summer Reading

One of my favorite things about summer is there seems to be more time to read. Chalk it up to the extra hours of daylight I guess. Whatever the reason, I've made a long list for this summer.

"Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the Bodies" - Both are historical novels written by Hilary Mantel that are part of a trilogy on Thomas Cromwell. "Bring up the Bodies" was listed as one of the best books of 2012. I hadn't initially planned on reading any series this summer, but the more I contemplate it, the more I think I'll start with these.

"Beautiful Ruins" - This novel, by Jess Walter, has so many good reviews; I can't pass it up.

"The Memory Palace" - This will be a difficult book for me to get through. Mira Bartok wrote this memoir to explore her own brain injury and its relation to trying to better understand the life of her schizophrenic mother.

"A Circle of Quiet" - It seems I'm on a memoir kick this summer. This book by Madeleine L'Engle has been plugged by many mothers in reading circles across the web.

"Along the Way: A Journey of a Father and a Son" - Continuing with the memoirs, I saw an advertisement for this one, written by the actor Martin Sheen and his actor/director son Emilio Estevez, a few months back and was intrigued.

"The Wealth of Nations" - I don't know if I'll be able to make it through Adam Smith's economic masterpiece. Because Smith's thoughts are major premises behind American (and quite possibly global) economics, I thought I'd give it a try.

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" - If I can make it through the other books by August, I thought I'd end the summer with two more on the reading list from the Open Yale course on Hemingway, Faulkner and Fitzgerald. This is one Hemingway novel I'm not dreading.

"The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald" - I already bought this book, but am saving it for later.

"One Thousand Gifts" - My mother-in-law sent me a copy of Ann Voskamp's book several months ago. I know I'll probably need to do some soul searching after Hemingway and Faulkner, so this should round out my summer.

Incase you are wondering if I've given up on "The Game of Thrones" series of books, there's no need to despair. I need a long break after the traumatic events of the third book and hope to pick back up on the fourth sometime in the fall.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Refreshing Perspective for Those With Little Ones

Two years ago I discovered the writings and teachings of Sally Clarkson.

I read "Educating the Whole-Hearted Child," written mainly by her husband, Clay, with contributions from Sally, as I was contemplating homeschooling. I've since re-read it and am so glad I chose this book among the myriad of information that exists on homeschooling. Their wise and practical insight and advice speak so clearly to me. It helped me affirm my choice in my own mind and heart, but let me know that there would be many challenging days along with plenty of people that would not agree and question my choice.

I've since begun reading Sally's blog, which I have listed on my blogroll on the side of this page, and am always comforted and encouraged by her truthful words on motherhood. Homeschooling parent or not, I think her advice on parenting, specifically motherhood, hits the mark every time.

Now Sally, and a fellow blogger named Sarah Mae, have written a book called "Desperate: Hope for the Mom that Needs to Breathe."

The title sounds extreme, but reading this book is like sitting around sharing your deepest thoughts with your closest girlfriends. It's not a list of formulas. It's not two women complaining. It isn't preachy. It's the thoughts, mind and heart of one younger woman and one older woman having conversations about the hard yet deeply fulfilling and important days of mothering well.

As Sally has said so many times, wise women learn from other wise women. With that in mind, I'm going to share a few of the many, many, many, many passages I highlighted while reading this wonderful book. I hope those of you that have little ones find time to read it!

-"However, when I look back on the grand scheme of things, I can see clearly that motherhood is a process, a journey. It was fraught with so many moments and days of failure, anger, stress and exhaustion. Little by little, I have learned grace, joy, patience, and hope, and slowly my soul is being shaped into His image. I wouldn't trade the journey of my ideals for any other life. But I couldn't have known any of this starting out."
-"Rules, laws and boxes tend to kill the soul when it comes to expectations of motherhood. Freedom leads you to more contentment and joy."
These next two passages I love, because in Sally's graceful way, she expresses what I've never been able to put into words about why I like to travel so much and why I think it's important and necessary to take my children along for the ride.

-"It was a profound realization when I understood that I could become an artist with my very life. I was responsible to do what I needed to do to last on this long road of motherhood. There was some point in my life when I accepted that no one else was going to take responsibility for me, and if I didn't take care of myself, my soul would die a slow death by exhaustion, boredom, loneliness and mediocrity."
-"Some moms have become so frenetic about being a mom that they have forgotten how to be a human being. To be clear, I am not talking about sacrificing my children on the altar of my pleasure. But it seems to me that God has given all of us generous leeway in conducting our own symphony of life, and in cultivating our family culture according to our own strengths and weaknesses."
Did I mention that the foreward of this book is written by Ann Voskamp, another of those wise women whose words and perspective are dead on.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Note on Where We Stayed

There's a first time for everything.

Last weekend was my first time visiting the upper west side in New York. One would think I would have made it to that side of town before now, but New York is so big it's hard to hit all the spots, even after multiple trips.

We stayed at The Lucerne Hotel on W. 79th and Amsterdam, and it's likely to be the place we stay when we go back.

I'm not sure I would recommend it to those going to New York for the first time, but because Matt and I have seen most of the tourist attractions, we knew we didn't want to stay in Times Square or mid-town.

The hotel was the perfect location for us because we wanted to be able to walk to places nearby without having to rely on transportation. It was blocks away from the history museum and Central Park, and there were countless restaurants and shops to stop in along the way.

It's definitely a kid-friendly area. Staying on the west side, where so many places are welcoming to people with children (and dogs alike for you animal lovers), made a big difference in how I felt walking into restaurants this time around.

Our hotel had a restaurant attached, and we ate lunch Saturday and breakfast Sunday there.

I was stoked when we rounded the corner of the hotel Saturday morning and I saw this place:

Sarabeth's is my FAVORITE place to eat in New York!!! I've been to the Central Park location several times, but had no idea Sarabeth's west would be so close to us. From what I can tell, there are four locations in New York. It's always crowded for breakfast, but we went for dinner Saturday night and didn't have to wait. We sat outside and enjoyed homemade guacamole. Matt and I both had steak; mine was a savory filet covered in gravy and mushrooms.

We also found this amazing sweet shop:

Jack had a huge brownie. Mattie and I shared a massive vanilla cupcake. Matt ordered the banana split.

Even if you aren't close to the west end while in New York, you should hop in a cab and check out Sugar and Plumm, especially if your children are with you. The sugar rush might be that extra boost you need after a day of walking.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

CSA Wednesday

On Wednesday we head to a local farm to pick up produce as part of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Here's what we got today:



Cucumbers and more squash than I know what to do with`

Monday, June 3, 2013

New York, I Love You

It was one hot weekend in New York.

The heat didn't matter much to me. It had been too long since I roamed the streets of this city I love.

All I wanted was a couple of days to be there to smell and walk and eat and share the city with those I love most. As usual, it was wonderful.

We spent Saturday at the American Museum of Natural History and in Central Park.

We spent Saturday night sitting on the indoor window ledge looking at the skyline and the lights and the cabs and talking about how much we loved the museum and how much fun it was to be in New York.

We strolled the streets of the upper west side on Sunday morning and let Mattie enjoy pointing out all the dogs strolling with their owners.

I didn't want to leave. I kept trying to think of a way to stay for one more day.

A love of New York is one of the many things I hope I can pass along to my children. A love of travel in general is one of the things that I delight in. It's part of my personality, and it's one of the ways I've found I can relax and have fun with my children.

New York isn't for everyone, but for me and my clan, it's a destination worth returning to again and again.