Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Wednesday, already? This week is passing quickly! We're going on vacation Saturday, so I'm preoccupied with pre-vacay stuff--taking the dog for his shots, cleaning the house, laundry, stopping the mail, getting the oil changed in the car. So far, so good. But...
But, Caroline is in New Jersey this week with her cousins--going to a party every day it seems. I miss her. Caitlin and Bobby go to gymnastics camp this week from one to five--that's right, four hours a day to myself! So far, I've done a little thrifting, a little cleaning, and a lot of waiting at the vet's office. Today I'm going to my favorite thrift store. I haven't been to this one since school let out, so I'm super excited. They have a huge book section.
And we've decided to repaint the kitchen. We're averaging once a year on painting the kitchen! The irony is that the color we've chosen this time is probably the same one that was originally on the walls when we moved in. Clearly a sign that this should the be last time we paint the kitchen! Since our latest color is Belgian Chocolate, I'm going to have to prime over it because we're trying to decide between two peach colors. I so did not want to spend my kid-free time this week painting the kitchen. I'm trying to psych myself up--if I thrift and do fun stuff today, can I spend six or so hours over the next two days priming the walls? And then when we get back from vacay, I can put the real color on the walls. For the last time.
In the garden, the plum tomatoes are coming in like gangbusters. I picked eight of them yesterday. I have to decide what I'm going to do with them and then do it before we leave! I don't have the other forty-three pounds required to make the canned sauce recipe I have, so I'm not sure what to do. And I have to get it done by Friday night, 'cause we're out the door on Saturday morning.
I'll probably check in one more time before we leave, but after that it'll be quiet around here--vacay is off-line!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm It

Meredith tagged me, and not to sound like a total blog loser, but this is my first tag, and I'm all kinds of excited! So here we go with...


1. QUIET TIME. Let's face it--it's summer and the kids are all up my backside all day long. So far they've mostly done quiet time without too much fuss (save for Caroline who is out in the hall kicking the floor right now, but no, she's not overtired or anything). And every day, for about ten minutes, it's completely quiet. And I can do whatever I want without having to answer any questions or break up any fights or answer any questions. Did I mention I don't have to answer any questions during quiet time?

2. My two favorite food moments of the day. I know this is two things, but these are the beginning and end of my day--the morning coffee and the evening ice cream. Mmmm. A day isn't complete without these. Okay, sometimes I can skip or sub the ice cream, but there must be coffee.

3. Ibuprofen. Because sometimes the coffee doesn't come soon enough. I'm very caffeine sensitive, so I try to have my one (and a half) cup(s) at the same time every day. Any deviation (or too much PMS chocolate) will result in a migraine. So, I buy the large bottles of ibuprofen because they're my friends.

4. Crafts. Just this year, I've begun to see a distinct similarity between me and my Dad. Some of my childhood can be categorized based on Dad's phases. There was the rock climbing/canoeing/camping phase, the horse phase, the tennis phase, the painting phase, and most memorable of all, the BANJO phase. So when I scrapbook, do yoga, sew, etc, and do so obsessively, I just know I'm following in Dad's footsteps. (He's deep in his Springer Spaniels phase now.) I took up knitting on Monday.

5. Watching my children sleep. Rob almost never checks on the kids before he turns in for the night, and it boggles my mind. I cannot go to bed until I have checked on each child. I just love watching them at rest. Their faces are so sweet. Sometimes their arms are flung about all crazy. Sometimes they've kicked off the covers. Sometimes they open their eyes when I kiss them. Occasionally I'll get a mumble or two of nonsense before they go back to dreaming. Whenever we fly (which is rare these days), I picture their sleeping faces to calm me during takeoff or landing or turbulence. Checking in on them at night is how I punch out on the parental time clock--for only a few hours.

And now quiet time is just about over. Poor Caroline is still so tired, it's all shouting and tears and drama today. So I need to pick five people to tag, here. Not sure who--lots of my readers don't have blogs. But you can email me your five loves if you want to play. I'll tag Colleen, Brenda, Mandi, my brother Mike and his "special lady friend" Mrs. Lebowski, uh, Katrina.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I'm very tired this morning. Last night we had ongoing thunderstorms. I mean I've never heard such long, sustained rolling thunder. It seemed to go on for hours. Caroline doesn't like thunderstorms which means that she was in my room begging to come into my bed several times during the night. I put her back in bed around two and again at four. Then at five she had turned on the bathroom light and was carrying on--back to bed. At six it had stopped raining, but she was up again along with Caitlin and they had the bathroom light on. Back to bed, and this time let the dog out. And at 6:15, off to the shower. Only to be greeted by a bright- (and slightly wild-) eyed Caroline at 6:45. Ever wake up with the feeling that it's going to be a long day? Wish me luck.

So, here is one of our little friends. I'd love to get more pictures (there are two babies in the nest), but I had to lean in pretty close to get this one, and I don't want to give the birds additonal stress.
I bought these last week at Michael's. I thought the kids could play with them. I'd love to paint them, but that requires time and paint pens that I don't have, so I'm just going to hand them to the kids blank and see what they come up with. Caroline already drew faces on hers with a crayon.
I'm hoping that small wooden figures plus a basket of fabric scraps equals more than ten minutes of peace. We'll see. The girls do like playing in the scraps--they'll bring in the stapler and get to constructing things.
A couple of weeks ago, Mary Beth blogged about this book. I'm all for homemade bread in five minutes a day, so I checked it out from the library. Wow! I've only made the basic recipe, but it's good for four loaves of the most yummy, crusty bread I've ever made. I may have to buy this book.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well, it's another hot, muggy day here! I got up early to pull some weeds before it got too hot. I have neglected weed-pulling duty for most of the season, and the weeds were about to take over in our beds in the back. Actually, the black-eyed Susans are about to take over if we're not careful! I should take a picture--they've managed to line one side of the pond all by themselves. It's kinda pretty. Now if they could just work their way over to the other side of the pond, we'd be in good shape. I ran into (almost literally) a couple of frogs while weeding. They hopped away quickly.

Then I spent more time up to my elbows in yucky pond water. I bought a new pump last month, and it hasn't been working as well as it should. This pump is smaller than the one I bought last summer (so much for the two year warranty), and it's not as powerful. Since it's smaller, it doesn't really fit the existing I got creative. It's still a temporary fix, but at least more water is flowing up to the waterfall. If you're ever contemplating putting in a pond, let me tell you now, DON'T DO IT!

What else have we been up to? On Friday we went to Dorney Park in Allentown. The kids had a blast in the wave pool. I had fun, but I just skeeved every time the kids would splash water at my face. Call me crazy, but after watching countless kids spit water back into the pool all afternoon, I didn't want to be drinking from that particular fountain. We all appear to have survived, but I think next time I'm bringing a travel size of Listerine just for a quick rinse!

And speaking of e. coli, the dreaded Baby Ruth appeared at the town pool yesterday! I knew as soon as I heard the whistles blow. That's the second time that has happened this summer. I don't think we're going to the pool this afternoon. I need a break from germs and bodily functions.

In the Unexpected Fun department, we have discovered a robin's nest right outside our front door. It's in one of the decorative shrubs next to our front door (I don't know the name of the plant). I had been hearing bird chirping a few times in the last week, and on Friday I found the source! We can see the nest from inside the house. There are two babies in the nest, and the mama robin is often hopping around the front yard with worms hanging from her mouth. Yesterday Rob was painting the wood trim around the front door, and poor mama robin was hopping around the yard for some time--I imagine she was stressed about him being so close to her babies! I'll try to get some pictures to show.

On Tuesday of this week, Caroline gets her anti-thumbsucking retainer/thingy put in her mouth. This should be interesting. I wonder if it's going to affect her sleep because that's really the only time she sucks her thumb. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

And finally, I've been wanting to link this, but I forget. If you're ever in Chattanooga, be sure to stop here. It's my brother's place!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Watch it Grow!

These lovelies are almost ready to come inside and join the salsa!
And here are my jalapenos...I guess they're getting close, too. They're almost the size of the ones I buy at the grocery store. Someone break out the salmon--it's time for some spicy yellow pepper-tomato salsa!
And maybe these will be ready by the time we get back from vacay!

I've started reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I can already tell you that this book is going to make me even more conscientious (or guilty) about where I buy my food...I don't even want to buy strawberries in the grocery store any more because the local ones are finished, so I know these store ones are shipped in from somewhere. I may need help...and Rob has just walked in from another lousy day at work, so it's time to get dinner on and be Supportive Spouse.

He's taking Friday off, and we're most likely going to Dorney Park, so I probably won't be back until Monday! Enjoy the heat wave and keep cool.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday already?

Where does the time go? I can't believe it's the weekend already! This was a busy week--Caroline had Girl Scout camp this week, so it seemed like we were constantly coming and going. She had so much fun, and I'm so happy for her. I'm also happy that the camp was an outdoor affair--I feel like my kids don't spend enough time outside (too many electronic distractions inside), so I was glad she was out all week. Plus, she's getting these gorgeous blond highlights. I keep hoping I'll get some natural highlights as well, but my hair seems to have gone so dark that no amount of sun will lighten it...

Have you met Spanky?

And here is Bobby's quilt. It's really coming along. I'm almost done piecing the squares together--once it's all pieced, I'll use my 12.5 inch square ruler to trim them into shape, and then the fun begins! I love that phase of making a quilt, where you're ready to put all the smaller pieces together into the big picture. It's so exciting. Like when you first start painting a room and you paint a little bit and you get excited about how great it's gonna just have to keep painting for five more hours before you're done. Sigh. Baby steps! Maybe it'll be ready by his birthday in September. And as for Caroline's quilt...I'm about ready to make that a Christmas present.
Speaking of presents, we're all invited to a birthday pool party for one of Caroline's friends, so I had to make a bag. The girls were all over me about it. "Have you started Tori's bag?" was all I heard from them in the last couple of days. Here it is--I picked up this fabric in the remnant bin several months ago. The bag is lined with some lime green cotton I had bought to coordinate with a different fabric. Inside is one of those Cranium activity books that I picked up in the bargain aisle at Borders. If you make a homemade bag, you get to put a deeply discounted book inside!
And last week I ordered this! I'm all fired up about preserving my tomatoes in some way or another. And after reading in the book that the tomato sauce recipe calls for 45 pounds of tomatoes (WTF?), I'll probably be making salsas instead of gravy! So grow, little tomatoes, grow! My jalapenos are also coming in. They are growing so fast, it's almost funny. It seems like every day when I check on the jalapenos, they've grown another half inch. My bell peppers are not doing so good, and I'm not happy about that. I may get a couple of peppers if I'm lucky. I'm bummed because I had planted a red, a yellow, and a green pepper plant. I was fired up about bell peppers. There's always next year.

This coming week should be more relaxed. The little guys have swim lessons, and Caroline has her well visit this week. Back to Camp Mommy!

Monday, July 7, 2008

I'm having fun

We're keeping busy. We went over to Red Bank on Thursday to watch the fireworks. We had great seats, and it was nice to visit with family.

Over the weekend, we went berry picking again. This time, it was raspberries and blueberries. I processed the raspberries pretty quickly since they go bad so quickly. I made freezer jam and sorbet. As for the blueberries, I started off with a blueberry cobbler.

Rob was very (or should I say, berry) happy!
Last weekend, I finally used a gift card that I'd had since Christmas to buy this. So far, we've made a chocolate mint chip ice cream and the raspberry sorbet. Today I'm going to make blueberry ice cream. I'm going to try chocolate again--the first version I made just used chocolate syrup, and that's not chocolate-y enough (yes there is such a thing).

All this enthusiasm about making freezer jams and ice creams is partly brought about because I cleaned out the extra freezer left behind by the previous owners last week. (Only took three years!) The cleaning part was not exactly fun, but now we have a free freezer in our garage!

As I watch our grocery bill reach $100 every week (when it used to be $70), I've gotten interested in trying to preserve some of what we're buying or growing. I've even ordered a canning kit so that the tomatoes that we grow this summer actually end up in sauces and salsas instead of rotting on the vine. And instead of gorging or throwing out spoiled berries, I'm making all these jams. It'll be nice come winter-time to have some homemade jam!

And I finally started sewing Bobby's quilt. I've had the fabric cut for about a month, but it's such a big project that I was putting off starting (because it's going to take forever to finish). Of course, I'll never finish if I don't start. And actually working on a project will keep me out of the fabric stores. I'm chain-piecing the blocks to keep things interesting.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What doin?

That phrase is borrowed from Caitlin--she used to ask "what doin?" when she was younger. Anywhoo, here's what doin today:

Off to the pool soon for swim lessons. We didn't go to the pool yesterday afternoon because the kids failed to follow the simple rules for Quiet Time (the #1 rule, of course, to be quiet). Missing out on pool time in the afternoon had some unforeseen consequences.

We had to drive Rob to the doctor yesterday evening, and there was all sorts of bad behavior there. After I revoked dessert, they had no further stake in behaving (behaving well--they were all about behaving inappropriately), and--here's the personal growth part--I just kinda resigned myself to it. I mean, it wasn't great that I pretty much gave up, but I realized that if I started to take away the next night's dessert, etc, it wasn't going to work because there was no immediate consequence for them. I did take them downstairs out of the waiting room so they wouldn't annoy other patients. They can't be angels all the time, and they certainly weren't last night. But I didn't get myself all twisted out of shape about it. So yay for me.

And Rob, after running a ridiculously high fever for three days, finally got some antibiotics. The doctor thinks it's a bacterial sinus infection--the blood test with confirm or deny--but he sweated about a gallon last night and his fever appears to have broken. Now he's alternating Motrin and Tylenol to keep the fever and headache at bay. He seemed much better this morning, and I'm so glad. It was hard to watch him be in so much pain, and yesterday afternoon he was shaking so badly it was a little frightening. Hopefully we're back on the road to good health.

We're off to the pool now, wish us luck!