The Family

The Family

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Life's Stages

Several years ago I came to the realization that life is often made up of bi-polar opposites competing with each other on a daily basis. Most periods of my life can't be defined as all bad or all good. It's always a combination of the two in every particular season and time period.

And ever since having children it seems like life gets compartmentalized into things we like to refer to as stages. There's the baby stage, the crawling stage, the tantrum stage and on and on it goes.

We currently seem to be in the midst of two stages:

1. Aggravation Mode - I grew up with two brothers and know all too well that boys like to aggravate. I also know that this stage is likely to last the next 20 years, at least, for Jack. The problem is that aggravation stages are annoying to parents and little sisters. At first Matt got a kick out of Jack's aggravating habits. Now we're all a bit short tempered, especially when it's your time to be on the receiving end of the aggravating.

2. Resisting Training Mode - Mattie's nature has always meant she initially resists any correction or instruction. She likes to quickly change the subject or pretend you're not talking if she's getting in trouble. But even Jack, the one who typically minds very well, has been grumbling, complaining and eye-rolling a lot these days. How happy I was to come across a blog that spoke to this very subject earlier this week. Sally Clarkson is my go-to resource for encouragement and advice, and her gentle reminder that all children resist training - that it's part of their nature - allowed me to breath a sigh of relief and carry on in my motherly duties of training a child in the way he/she should go.

No matter what the season or stage, I know another one is just around the corner. With it will come the good, the bad and a whole lot of in between.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Discovering New Trails

I love finding new paths to travel. Especially when those paths are less than a quarter mile from my home.

So with plentiful sunshine on a cold winter's day, yesterday found us on a short hike.

A biker passing through stopped to fill us in on the 3-mile trail as we began the walk. He was nice enough to offer to take a family picture because, as he said, "this is what memories are made of."

We didn't attempt to walk the entire trail. I doubt we made it a mile before turning back, but unlike the trails we often take at the local ecology preserve, we were able to bring our dog on this one.

We found mushrooms:

We found awe-inspiring trees:

We found remains that got phrases like "holy moly" from Jack:

And because winter is my favorite time to be in the woods, I don't think it will take us long to make it back to this trail to see what else it holds.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Funday

What is it about Sunday afternoon that perpetually invites adventure and leisure?

Looking back, I think the nostalgia related to the longevity that only a Sunday afternoon seems to offer is where many of my childhood memories come from. 

And hoping to make more memories for my own children to add to their store, this Sunday, a 60 degree day in January no less, brought back that sentimental feeling of old.

We've had the same Sunday afternoon for three weeks straight: bike riding and basketball playing.  Seeing as our driveway veers straight down, it's not the best place for either. So our adventure takes place in a local school parking lot.

Add to that some shadow capturing.

And some acorn finding to coincide with someone's current Chip and Dale fetish.

And that about rounds out our Sunday Funday adventures!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Painting with Salt

Last week we discovered something new: adding salt to a painting.

The technique works only with watercolors, and we've experimented with it a few times attempting to get it right.

Our first attempt occurred while doing our abstract painting of Humpty-Dumpty.

We didn't quite get the effect we hoped to see, and I was thinking it was because I rubbed the salt off too quickly. There should be splotchy patches in the places where the salt adheres to the paint.

Yesterday was a second attempt with our snowmen portraits. We were going for the effect of the paint looking like snow, but since the kids wanted to paint the background the color of their choice, not so sure this attempt could be considered a success either. I left the salt on overnight and did notice more of the appearance of the splotches, though they aren't visible in these pictures.

Today was the third attempt. Not trying for effect. The kids just love throwing salt onto their paintings. Maybe that was what we were seeking all along!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A Week With Ina

It's not often I have time to watch The Food Network anymore, but this slow, rainy week allowed me moments to carve out time to make sure I caught some episodes of "The Barefoot Contessa" with my favorite cook, Ina Garten.

Her show is how I learned to cook. I used to think I couldn't cook something unless I'd seen someone do it first. I wasn't good at just reading a recipe and following the directions. After watching her for years I began to become more comfortable with my kitchen skills. And even though I'm comfortable enough now to use a recipe on its own or google one of hers, I still love to watch her.

This week I got recipes for a chicken caesar salad sandwich, chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing, maple baked beans, blue cheese dip and tarragon potato salad. Needless to say, I've been on something of a cooking kick.

Here are the kids helping ice the cupcakes:

Her recipes NEVER disappoint. If she cooks it, you can bet it's delicious. Some of our favorites from her are chicken hash, brussel sprouts sprinkled with raisins and bacon and her individual meatloaf recipe. Those have been staples in this house for years.

This week I added a few more to our family favorites.