Category Archives: Family

Rhode Island – In The Rearview Mirror

I love how beautifully complex life is. How can we be in love with so many places and people? How can those places and people stay with us, be a part of us, no matter where we are?

We are home sweet home, but this will forever be in our hearts:
Nanny, oh how we love you. You are our last grandparent; the kids last great-grandparent. Your beautiful smile and energy… Your laughter and your eyes. Thank you for your life and what it means to us.

It’s weird that there was a time in my life where I didn’t even think about this being a thing… It just didn’t cross my mind… and now here it is. It just is. We have Nanny and that is all.

But I’m happy to say we lived up every moment with her… No regrets. And we get to see her again in a couple of weeks!

Dinner at the ChopHouse and playing tic tac toe. 

As our vacation wound down we did our best to live it up! The kids finally rode the carousel. Maybe next year they will try to reach for the golden ring. This is such a cool activity in Watch Hill

This is Michael’s “I’m having fun” face.

Lots of walks. “Mommy, look! My shadow looks like I am six!” – Brielle.

M rode (again!) on a boat, and looked just as thrilled. I wonder what’s going on in that big head? I know he loves it…

We made it to the Cooked Goose for breakfast which seemed like it would be fun, because it always is, but for some reason with this crew on this specific morning, it wasn’t.

I think it was a combination of it being 7AM, and rainy, and Michael having to poop (sorry) and us over-exciting ourselves to finally go to the Cooked Goose again. We were a hot mess. My breakfast was deeeeeeelicious though. And I wasn’t going to let two whiney kids ruin it for me. 😀

Three summers ago we met some new friends at the Cooked Goose and have kept up with them ever since. Every year our vacations have somehow coincided and I’m so glad it worked out again this year! What a blast!

Drew is the best at catching random sea life. It was critter-heaven on the ski beach. This was a gorgeous Horseshoe Crab, it was so fun to look at him and then watch him bury his way back into the water. 


Spider crabs are exactly what they sound like. Eeeek! 


Eating is a serious passtime for this crew. 

We had dinner in the backyard and the kids sat and ate Manfredi’s corn for what seemed like an hour.

Then it was time to put on a show! Next year I’m sure the show will even be more of a production, which I look forward to! This year it was impromptu outfit changes into whatever clothes were available, (Aka Brielle’s t-shirts and dresses.) And Reagan’s first nail painting ever! She is so proud. 🙂

An after dinner walk to the dock provided more crabs and even more skinned knees. (See Michael crying in the back on B’s shoulders??) Whyyyyyy. 

Our friends left us with hugs and a tear (the tear was from me after Jen gave me this sweet book, I mean, wahhhhhh.)

The next day was Thursday and we spent the entire day at the beaches, starting at Fenway beach. I love how a fun frolicky morning can turn into a whining mess… Kids, I tell you. There is just no consoling Michael after he’s been hurt. Give me all the bandaids please.


After lots of first aid on a very tiny stubbed toe, we headed to Westerly beach.


Grammy building roads and towns for M’s cars:

Brielle was a culinary genius on the beach. Seaweed and pebbles and sticks… She was in heaven.

So many walks. With kids there’s no time for reading, only walking and talking and exploring.

They reminded me of ponies more than once.

Sand angels. Must be sooooo uncomfortable.

Especially when you do them this way. 😀

Ah, Michael James.. He discovered a “boogie board” and I’ve never seen him so possessive and particular. He wanted to hold it, stand on it, but never ever let it get wet. And when it did get wet we couldn’t dry it fast enough and a time-out ensued. Because lawd… Tantrum city. He is one hard headed amazing boy! I always say “he’s your son” to Brenden. And I get the same glaring eyes right back at me. Okay, so he’s “our” son. Genes are a pretty incredible thing. 

“This rock is so warmmmmm.” Reminds me of the walruses in Finding Dory. Or were they Sea Lions? 

M’s favorite activity. Being splashed by Brenden over and over and over. 

Enjoying (way too many) treats at the snack shack. 


Legit. 

Thursday night Brenden and I went out. We somehow scored two date nights on this vacation! Looking back it’s just so special to have had that time together. Vacationing with kids requires being on constantly, and being able to drive away without that is just amazing.


The following night we went to the beach at sunset. Why don’t we do this more often? Oh, because we are all sunned out and exhausted by then! Either way, it was so nice to sit and enjoy the salty air and warm waves without the blazing hot sun.


The seagulls were always around, chillaxin.

I just love this face! He has grown so much emotionally and mentally on this trip. What a big boy. And the sun and water was exactly what his bumps needed! (See the weird raised places on his trunk?) It’s so funny being a mom sometimes.. The things we have to navigate!

Okay, the end! Back to reality and life. I’m so grateful for all these photos and words that will keep our past memories alive!

X OXO

And this, just so it never ever falls off my radar….

Brenden kissing his cousin Jennifer on the cheek. He looks just like Brielle did at this age!



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Rhode Island – Slowing Down A Blur

I blinked and days went by! It’s that time of vacation where everything blends together and time starts to pick up speed. Nooooo. Time to slow down and be more present.

Friday morning we woke up to another yucky-weather day. AKA, another day to do something other than the beach! We had breakfast and went to the coolest place ever. I still can’t believe this place exists!

We walked into the park and saw this head towering over the trees. Time to RUN to the source!

Wow!!

Hi there, big guy!

W e couldn’t explore fast enough. And it was so cool how the park was set up, little walking trails through-out the 60 acres, and little dinosaur friends hidden like easter eggs (and not-so-hidden) along the way!




    
There was a maze that was a”maz”ing. We went in and ran screaming back and forth until we finally found the end. Brenden was above us on an overlook taking a time-lapse video which was hilarious. The end of the maze was a big dinosaur mouth-slide to exit. So fun. 

M was too scared to slide down alone so I had to climb back up the slide to get him. 

We got to the park at 10AM when it opened and it was virtually empty. By noon it started to get crowded and we were so glad we got there early to enjoy everything in peace!

These raptures (??) glared at us from the restroom roofs.

So many fun things to explore. 

Alllllmost tall enough.

His faces…

Brenden helped M take pictures of the dinosaurs so he could make a book to show his little friends when school starts again. So cute to think of M doing show-and-tell this year at preschool! He was in to taking pictures with Daddy for about three seconds. 🙂

This face. 

There was a beautiful lake in the middle of the park with a (fake) volcano that would spout steam and make awesome noises and these vibrant lily pads. So beautiful! 

Surprise!

Having a conversation in the woods:
And then there was this guy… whew! 

I don’t think this is allowed.. 

Eye!
Pretty sure this is not allowed either. (Hands over face.) 

Weirdest one we met.. Kind of like an antelope and a tiger combined? 

Don’t mess with this scary mommy and her babies!

Tiny dinosaurs in the trees. 
Taking more pictures for his book. 
Eeeeek! 

We didn’t read these, but they were scattered throughout the park for the more serious visitors, aka, not us! Now I wish I got pictures of all of them so I could connect them to the dinosaurs I have pictures of. I’ll have to get a book from the library and we will do a match later. 


The kids loved these! Little huts spread out through the park with holes to touch and guess different objects. (Dinosaur teeth, skin, eggs, poop, etc.) Hand sanitizer anyone?

The little trails were so cool. And just the right length for little legs. 

There were two huge play areas that the kids LOVED. Ever since M potty trained play structures are his new favorite thing, because now he can go in the big one at our gym at home! Big deal for a little guy.

They could have played in the play structure for hours. 

On the way home Brenden saw Naskart, a huge indoor racing place on the side of the road and before we knew it he was speeding around the track (and winning 4th place!) Meanwhile the kids were waaaaay over-tired and basically hanging off me half asleep.     
This is not my type of place at all. I can’t wait to never go back there again!

The afternoon was spent relaxing and being quiet. HA. But seriously, for about an hour there was quiet creativity going on and it was bliss. The kids loved to make little cities for their matchbox cars. Brielle’s city was “Elise Town” and Michael’s was “New York City.” (Always.)

Brenden added a big blue potty to the middle of Michael’s town, which he loved, so it became “PottyVille.”

Saturday morning we dropped Brenden off at Fenway beach down the street to go surfing with the cousins! The kids and I went to feed the ducks and go to the library. That is more my speed. Although after seeing Brenden’s reaction to his first time surfing, I may have to try it too. He loved it.
  
Meanwhile we went in search for our old friends, the ducks, at the library pond. And along the way we practiced our “snapping.”

It’s been Brielle’s life-long mission to learn to snap and whistle. She almost has the snapping down! “Look mommy!! I can snap!” (And I hear a tiny little sound coming from her tiny little hands.)

“BUT I CAN’T SNAP!!” As he tears up the duck bread. “Threenager” is a real thing. And it’s not pretty.

M ate a lot of the bread along the way:

When we got to the library we discovered no ducks!


We were only sad for a moment, until we noticed all the fish!

We love walking around the park at the library. So much to see and explore!

I can’t even remember what day this was, like I said they are all blurring together, (wahhhh) but this is one of my favorite activities with the kids up here, just sitting on the porch being creative and calm. I put on some music and Michael organizes his cars (he’s naming them here, “Randy, Rudolf, Green Lantern”) and we color and read.

Michael: “Look mommy, it’s not scribble scrabble! I’m coloring in the lines!”



I could watch them color for days.

Brenden got a call from the cousins that they were going water skiing! It almost dark so we ordered Thai and ate and had baths and he went and did this:

So fun!! And once again, it’s glaringly obvious that I missed out on the adventure gene, or whatever it is that makes someone want to do this. 🙂

Well that was a blur of a couple of days!

XOXO

 

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Rhode Island – Beach, Boats, And Monty!

Wednesday was one of those days where everyone tried to cram their entire vacation into one day. Our weather apps told us this was the one promised day of sunshine sandwiched in-between four “keep your chin up” days so we wanted to really make the most of it. And we did. We got to the beach at nine-thirty in the morning and left at two in the afternoon, our was our longest beach day to date with the littles. And they did great!         
M loves Nanny so much! “Let me see your tummy!”

We are still getting used to how his cute his little bottom looks sans diapers. 🙂

Eating strawberries and making faces! Nanny is the coolest.

Boys and their balls.

More strawberries.

More balls.

On the path to the beach there are bushes of flowers that literally buzz… This is why! Cute little bees!

The cousins always bring the new games. I can’t remember what this was called but it was fun to watch!

The water was so cold (it’s always cold up here!) But everyone goes in regardless, which I think is so fun. I prefer to stay on the sand, thank you very much.
 

When the kids looked like they had just about had enough of the beach we bought ourselves another hour in the sun by walking down to the snack shack. This snack shack is a new addition to the Shelter Harbor beach, and already it’s added so much fun and memories to our beach trips!


Getting tired:

Daddy feeding M leftover brisket. It’s delicious even when it’s cold. How does he do it?

A Michael sandwich!

 We left tired and ready for a nap. After naps we met the rest of the family for dinner at the pond house. M was amazed by the boats immediately. He’s seen them all this week, bobbing up and down in the water, but it was like his mind just registered what they were and suddenly he said: “I want to ride a boat!” and no amount of “we’ll do it tomorrow.” swayed him. Our amazing cousins said “why not??” And the search was on to find a tiny life vest.

Walking back from the cabin where we found the vest. Ready to go!

Grammy and Brielle waiting for the show, safe on dry land:


Boarding the boat with the cousins!



Have fun guys!


Brielle loves the floating tire dock. Last year she wouldn’t go near it!

Inside footage of the trip:)

I just love how serious he is. He didn’t get that from me!

Cousin David puttered them around, and then they picked up speed for a while! Perfect first boat ride for this little guy. He was very proud of himself. Off with the vest.

Such a nice evening. M was sitting inside looking at us through the window stuffing turkey in his mouth as this picture was taken. Not much trumps food for that guy.

I love the houses up here. The blue grey weather beaten shingles are so beautiful!


Another fun vacation day in the books!

Thursday Morning we woke up to the smell of this smoking outside our cabin:

Two pork butts!

We are having a family dinner and all the houses will get together up at Nanny’s place so Brenden got up at 3AM to put this in the smoker, he will let it smoke all morning and then will put in some ribs around one.

I love getting up early before the rest of the family on vacation. It’s so nice to sit and have my coffee in peace and do my Entrusted Bible study and write!

I love that I’ve been able to take the time to get all our adventures up on my blog before they leave my mind, and all the thousands of pictures I take. Brielle has started to ask to read “momma much” and we sit together and look at all the pictures and read together. She loves it. That’s a perk to writing I didn’t even think about, and it makes it even more special and a priority.

When the kids got up they went outside and colored sea-scapes on the walkway.


Then Grammy took them on a walk to the pond while I straightened up the cabin. They came back sweaty and happy.

We went to the store to get stuff for the family dinner and stopped by Manfredi farm. It’s a great place to go see/feed the animals and get fresh amazing corn and pies, and etc!


“Come here ducky ducky” (to the chicken)

I mean, the softest nose ever.

I can’t help but grit my teeth and act all weird when I get near this kind of cuteness! I named this one Monty. 🙂


Brielle was having a blast until Daddy told her to get down.


After our Manfredi adventure the girls went to get our nails done, what a treat! Even though she looks genuinely concerned here.

And the boys went to the dock to “catch” crabs using a hot dog on a string. They caught nothing, but look at the joy on M’s face! We’ll have to try again (successfully) today.

The family dinner was a blast! The ribs were perfect, the pulled pork divine, and it was so so fun to have all the cousins and family together. Well, almost all, we are always missing a few dear people here and there!

He looks like such a big boy here in his big boy jeans and big boy underwear! (Can you tell I’m still a little amazed that he’s actually potty trained?? Yay Michael!)

It was such a fun evening.

I extracted the kids right before they got over-tired and grumpy, and we went straight to baths. Oh Michael James, how I love your sweet face. 

Then some popcorn and a show before bed. All played-out and clean and ready for sleeeeep.

Wow, that was a long post! Now I’m off to refresh my coffee and do my Bible Study. Kids are still asleep, the cabin is quiet, I see sun peeking through the trees.

Happy Friday.

XOXO

 

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Rhode Island – Foxwoods And Mystic Seaport

I’m sitting here with socks on and a hoodie over my head. It’s cold! Two days of dreary weather is exactly what I needed to fully appreciate the sunshine that is coming our way today.

Monday morning we got out of the house as early as we could to avoid the impending stir-crazyness. We headed to Foxwoods as the rain pelted against the windows. M is thrilled.

Foxwoods a gargantuan casino and resort (and outlets, restaurants, etc.,) tucked away in the woods in Ledyard, Connecticut, about 20 minute from where we are in Shelter Harbor. It’s owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Indians. There is a lot of history there but I have yet to explore it. We plan to go to the Mashantucket Pequot Museum on the next rainy day. Which will be soon I hear. (frowny-face.)


The kids were so excited to see this out of the car window!

We wandered around the mall and walked through the casino. Well, not “through” because the minimum age is 21, but we walked around the exterior of the casino floor where we could see all the lights and games which was fun.

They loved the escalators! Huge.

We said “yes” to a milkshake at the Sugar Factory (when a cookie from anywhere would have sufficed, when will we ever learn??) and it turned out to be not one of our proudest parent moments.

I never thought it would be ME sitting at a table with my two darling children, about to order a delicious milkshake only to have one of them throw a massive tantrum because: “I don’t want to shaarrrrrre!” M had a little pep talk with daddy away from the table (and away from the other humans trying to enjoy their lives) and then things were happy again. 
The kids settled on a milkshake topped with cotton candy and a candy necklace. They could also have chosen a milkshake with an entire bacon cheeseburger atop it, or even an entire piece of cheesecake!

The waitress asked if I wanted her to split the shake into two glasses and I said yes please. So we got two full-sized milkshakes that were in reality the size of a gallon of milk each. I’m not going to lie, as dairy-free as I try to be, I was very much enjoying the size discrepancy between those huge glasses and their tiny tummies. Yum yum.  
I wanted to eat the face off everything on the menu, and everything that walked past our table on a tray. The stuff that was coming out of that kitchen… Just wow.

We left the Sugar Factory feeling a little sick but unwilling to admit it because Brenden warned us that we would… We are fine, thank you very much!

Next stop, the kitchen store for a new meat thermometer for Brenden’s smoker. The utensil shelf was a favorite… M loved to pretend to be a crab with the tongs.

Then we went to get socks for the kids (because, brrrrrr) and a new swim shirt for me which I found at 75% off at the Gap Factory Outlet! I can’t wait to use it in the sun today.

We left the resort and headed home for naps. Of course that turned into car naps, which turned into us parked outside the house with me napping in the front seat and M napping in his carseat for about two hours. At one point a cousin came by and saw me sprawled out in the front seat, the car running and everything looking very unusual. She ran flustered to my MIL who assured her I wasn’t dying of carbon monoxide poisoning. In fact, I was very happy indeed.

The remmy sized brisket was ready in time for dinner and we had it with some veggies and pinto cowboy beans, which I’d never had before and loved. Brenden knows how to bring it!

Nothing like a little comfort food to end a cold wet day.

Tuesday morning was more of the same: Dark clouds and no sign of sunshine. Time to smile and make a happy day regardless!

The kids had their Rhode Island breakfast usual: Corn cakes. They only get these when we are up here so they make sure to eat their fill.

Then we were on the road again! This time to Mystic Seaport, also in Connecticut, but super close and full of fun things for the kids to see and do! And us too.

Daddy helping M get onto the anchor to use it as a slide, of course.

Brielle seeing something fun happening without her and RUNNING.


Beautiful boats and ships in the harbor.

And on dry land.

Grampy tried his hand at some of the old sailor’s knots.

Grammy snapped this:)


This was at the children’s museum in building 10. M fitting the tiny sails to the toy sailboats! He loved it.

The little kitchen area was their favorite in the children’s museum. I wanted to play in it too! But I contented myself with sitting at the table waiting for my breakfast. And wait I did.

The inn keeper was very chatty. She talked about her children as she swept while my food was cooking. She said she has a son who is very “un-naughty and goes to bed after just one bedtime story.” Sounds like I need to sit for a while and get some parenting advice from her. 🙂

Three little boat playgrounds in a row. The kids could have played in this one area all day.

Brenden got a really cute video of this little fisherman steering the boat, he recorded it swaaaayyying back and forth ever so slightly so it feels and looks like M really is on a boat. 😀

Grammy and Grampy.

Us.

We got to board a real old-timey whaling ship! The Charles W. Morgan. It was crazy to see how the sailors used to work, live and eat. We went down below and saw all their *tiny* beds, and their kitchen and the captains quarters.


My handsome sailors



There was a cool area where the sailors would go to relax and read and play games, and we went to do the same. Brenden and Brielle put on a puppet show and it was so cute because Brielle’s little doll was always in the fireman’s face. “Yes, I’ll smell your hair lady.” Said Fireman Mike. Then when it was Michael’s turn to play his first line with his puppet was “Let me smell your hair.” I love how much they listen and pick up on.

Playing Tic Tac Toe with Grammy!

Art!

Barrel making!

More interesting toys!

Time to go!

But we couldn’t leave without a taste of the fudge. M gladly carried it to the car for us.

We came back home and all of us had naps. Much needed after little sleep the night before.

Then Grammy made a delicious stir fry wth shrimp and we went on a walk to the dock after dinner.

Brielle was so excited to show me this “dead white crab.” Which came on the tails of Saturday’s “dead white squid.” I love how adventerous she is getting. She used to be grossed out by these kinds of things. Now she saves dead worms from ants and she picks up anything and everything.

I snuck up on them having the cutest conversation.

Brielle found the little gadget the neighborhood kids use to catch crabs. They put hotdogs on the end of a screw attached to a string attached to a stick and they catch buckets of crabs that way. I think they just throw them back in, but it’s fun!

Looking for another crab crawling up the wall like they saw yesterday.

“Mommy, Grammy, I’ll take a picture of you, I’m a great photographer.” Thanks Brielle! Next time we’ll get our stuff together. 🙂

Fishing bait-less for crabs.  

I’m so thankful for a new day and some SUN. Okay, I’m off for more coffee.

XOXO


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Rhode Island!

Whenever I sit down to write I always think: Why don’t I do this more often?? Usually it’s because the kids are all around me, sometimes it’s because life is busy, but sometimes, even when I find the time to slow down, I don’t remember to do this. Just open my laptop, have a cup of coffee by my side and let the words come.

So here I am.

Day four of our vacation in Rhode Island. I woke up this morning to the smell of smoking meat. What year am I in again?? And now, smoking meat and coffee. What an amazing mixture of smells. Brenden brought his smoker from Virginia and is now smoking a brisket the size of Remmy. It will take 18 hours so I better get used to the smell that is wafting in the windows.

It’s raining outside, and will rain all day. Days like this really remind me I’m in New England. I can’t see the sea from here but I know it looks dramatic, the rocks jutting up to the grey sky, the waves lonely lapping the shore.

This is the first year that we are in the cabin with the kids instead of the main house. It’s so still and calm and peaceful. The kids are sharing a room with two twin beds, and I can tell they feel so grown up. I swear Brielle has aged three years in three days. She is a little teenager walking around. She must smell independence and adventure… I’ll try to plug her nose for a few more years.

Remmy’s bed is pictured here but sadly, (or not so sadly) he isn’t with us anymore. He started to bark incessantly whenever we would leave the cabin which would annoy the neighbors who were trying to have a quiet non-dog-barking vacation. So we decided to give Remmy a vacation of his own! He is being boarded now and is very happy I hear.

So far we’ve had one beautiful sunny beach day:



And one beautiful not-so-sunny beach day:


And one very traumatic skinning of a knee, the results of which lasted for days:

Brielle is getting more and more proficient with her photog skills! (M photo bombed us and then nearly gave me a heart attack by almost falling off the lifeguard stand.)



Still, lots of pics like this. 🙂

We walked back from the dock happy, but the knee injury would continue to haunt us. Especially with the salt water, oh my! I don’t remember Brielle reacting this way when she got a skinned knee….? #boys.

Then last night we got a date night! Thanks Grammy and Grampy. We went to the Matunuck Oyster Bar which has become our favorite place to eat up here. It is paaaacked whenever we go, but so worth the wait.

We ended the night with dessert at the Shelter Harbor Inn. This was bitter-sweet for us because we have so many great memories here, (it’s right up the road from Nanny’s house where we stay every year) but it seems not to be doing so great, (aka we were the only people there) and I’m not sure how long it will be around in its current state.
Brenden hates this pic, I love it.

The kids play hard all day (thanks beach and cousins) and crash hard all night. Actually GETTING them to crash is a different story. But we find that a bath helps. I just love love love this scene. Safe in the bath. Played-out and sun-tanned.

And car naps… Car naps are my new best friend.

Okay, the kids will be up soon and my coffee is cold, so off I go!

XOXO




Just A Random Wednesday – A Post Only A Mother Could Love

Today I documented everything that happened on a random day.. everything we did, everywhere we went, what we had for breakfast, what I felt at 8am and what I felt at 1:30 pm., all the monotony and all the joy…

This post is for future me. I want something real and tedious to look back on, a way to re-live the details, the minutia, the beautiful (and not so beautiful) everything that makes up our lives today.

So future Sarah: Have fun remembering. It really was this good, their soft sweet kisses and their little laughs, the way their energy made me breathe in new life every day in a new way. Their conversations that have little to no logic and that make me laugh continuously. It really was this good.

And it really was this hard. The constant ON(ness) of being responsible for the well-being and safety and growth of two human beings. The constant effort and love and work. The constant thought and worry and sacrifice. The questions, the whining, the non-stop requests and complaints. It really was this hard.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 – Our day in pictures:

6:30 am: “Mommy I’m donnne! I wanna Bottle milk rub your tummy!”


Cat’s out of the bag, he still gets a bottle of milk in the morning. I hold him and he rubs my tummy and I drink my coffee and look in his eyes and tell him all the things I love about him and why he’s special and how much God loves him.

I love this time of connecting and building him up and soon I think we’ll graduate to doing it over tea or something other than a bottle. Maybe??

And yes, he’s still in a crib, and that might last forever because he hasn’t climbed out yet and we all lovvvvve it. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

As soon as the kids are awake it’s the signal to the animals to start demanding things too. Eustace wants to come in and have his breakfast – I wish I had a pic of his mouth open and yelling at me. That’s his signature “good morning” face.


Eustace after breakfast – retirement must be nice!

Bacon and eggs in the morning for Brenden Michael and I – cheerios for Brielle.
I crack them in the pan and then scramble them. I want chickens so bad!
We bake our bacon! 3-15 minutes on 385 until crispy. So much easier and less mess than on the stove-top!

It’s 8am and he’s already saying “I want to cook!” I told him we were going to make Chili and he won’t be happy until we start. I try to make our dinners super easy on Wednesdays because we have community group at 6:30 and there’s no time for anything else in the evening.

He loves to help me make this Chili. He rinses the beans and adds the corn and spices. The only part he doesn’t like is when I add the chopped onion. “It hurts my eyyyyes!”

Then when I went to shower I saw this…. And I laughed out loud. Just thinking about documenting my life in detail today makes everything stand out so much more. So many bumps in the road!!! Nothing is smooth and easy!

I’ll let this newly wrecked blush compact stand in for all the pictures I won’t be able to take during the chaos and spills and falls and arguments and confusion and mess and everything else that happens today.

Poor blush.

After we got dressed I set the kids up with their on-going project this week: A book report! It was Brielle’s idea to write a book, and I got so excited thinking about going to the library to “research” our topics.

Brielle chose insects, Michael chose instruments, and then Brielle said “mommy what will your book be?” Umm.. what a novel idea. (Pardon the pun.) I was giddy at the thought.
I chose wildflowers and we went to the library and picked out the most beautiful vibrant books we could find on our topics.

Already we learned about Pasture Roses and Morpho moths and listened to tons of different instruments on youtube.

After we had about twenty minutes of book writing (our max attention span with Michael around) I told them to go play while I cleaned the kitchen. Making chili with a 3 year old isn’t pretty.

Then I heard Michael say “I want some gum, B-ell.” Apparently she’s his dealer? “I know where some is, let’s go outside.” She led the way down the front stairs but neither of them could get the door open.

Then I heard, “Let’s try the back door!!” They came back upstairs and opened the back sliding door and ran around the side of the house to the car. I met them outside:

They had no idea how to open the car doors! I couldn’t stop laughing.

I let them in so they could play “Driving to Rhode Island” while we waited for the appliance repair guy.

(Brielle asked me specifically for this side pony-tail.) *Heart-eyes.*

His new thing is picking the rubber spikey things off the tires whenever he gets a chance. Is that bad for the tires I wonder? It sure does make his hands gross.

I sat on the front steps while they played, simultaneously making sure they didn’t get killed by the appliance repair man’s truck when he drove up, and painting my nails.

Literally I had just sat down to paint my nails (which is a bad idea if you are a mom and anywhere other than in a salon or the kids are asleep) and Michael said “mommy my feet are wet can you wipe off my shoes?” And Brielle said “mommy I’m thirsty can you get me some water?”

And then horror of horrors they noticed I was painting my nails… so of course they had to join in. Michael pointed to his right hand – “I want three nails!!” But he wouldn’t let me paint them, he wanted to do it himself.

 
Nail painting party.

As soon as he blew his fingernails dry he said: “Boys don’t like nail polish.” Brielle agreed with a “yeah daddy hates to wear nail polish.” And he promptly picked off all his polish.

Brielle asked if she could pick the neighbors flowers. How can I refuse that face? Somehow I did.
Still no appliance repair guy… It should be illegal to make moms wait more than an hour. Ridic.
Then we went into the back yard to check out our tomato plant and found a few more little green ones!
 
I have green peppers, zucchini and tomatoes growing in three pots side by side and I think they are all kind of one big plant now.

Finnnnally the repair guy came, fixed what he needed to fix and left and we were able to get in the car and head to the Discovery Museum. But first a stop at the dry cleaners to get Brielle’s purple princess dress mended. A seam was coming apart and she wanted to wear it (specifically) to a friend’s Princess party this weekend.

Then to the drive-thru library window (which we love) and then we were on our way to the Discovery Museum. For real this time. We love the Discovery museum, and it’s freeee when you either have a membership (which we don’t this year) or have a very handy pass that you can check out at the library for free!

Five minutes before we arrived at the parking garage (and only after a 12 minute drive) this guy was passed out.

Now whatttt. Brielle was insistent that the DM could not wait for another day, so we let him sleep for another 10 minutes and then woke him up.

It was like waking a bear. And I realized it was 11:30 and he was hungry. Total mom fail.

We always get french fries on Friday, usually from Chick Fil A because that’s everyone’s favorite, but today I was desperate and we pulled through the drive through at McDonald’s. Whateves.

I love that I do this on the day that I am trying to be as detailed as possible about my day!

Michael went from angry bear to happy puppy and we went to the downtown mall to get our Discovery on!

They love elevators and I love that the elevator has a glass wall so I can see out of it!

The Discovery museum was a hit as usual. Seriously, we could have stayed all day if it wasn’t for gymnastics.


On the way out we rode on the carousel. I remember when they were too afraid to ride this. It was only last year. 😀

It’s amazing how fast a mood can change when you’re with kids. I feel like I have emotional whiplash half the time. This morning we woke up so excited about the day and by 1:30 I was like, “It it too early to send them off to college? And can the dog go too?”

By gymnastics time we were all a little worn out. Into the car we go, back home to get Brielle’s leotard and then down the road to the gymnastics center.

I find it fascinating how as moms we are at the mercy of their little moods and developing emotions and attitudes. It requires so much resilience and strength to not be sucked down whatever path they happen to be on, and some days I just don’t have that resilience!

Michael had a hard time at gymnastics because he was exhausted… He didn’t want to nap but he also didn’t want to be awake. Cue hell. So I drove around trying to get him to nap while Brielle did her class.

“Mommy how are your arms rully rully long to reach?”

He didn’t nap.

We got home and the house smelled of delicious Chili. Thank goodness. Can I just say how nice it is to have dinner ready with nothing needed by me?? I love my crockpot.

I resisted the urge to have a bowl of half-done chili and I had leftover red beans and rice and coleslaw for lunch. This is how I roll when I’m eating alone, whatever is in the fridge goes on my plate. It was delicious.

I made the kids dinner. Wow, this is a reallllly bad day to be talking about what we ate, but such is life. I made Brielle a peanut butter and honey sandwich and Michael had some chili.

Peanut butter and honey sandwiches, rice, and cheerios are her staple foods right now. She’ll eat raw veggies too, and some chicken, etc., but those are her three go-to favorites. We are working on it.

Neither of them ate much of it, they just sat and played restaurant with their food, which means they will be hungry in about an hour. Joy.

They just brought me this “special” dish from their restaurant. 🙂

I sat next to them as they played restaurant (aka ate dinner) and sipped tea and tried to type this post, or at least part of it, and all I heard was loud LOUUUUD voices singing: “First I was a pea and I grew and I GREW and I grew so big that the pea pod POPPED!!” Over and over. I love it, right? Right. So much so that I considered buying noise canceling headphones the other day. Lol.

Shoes were found and clothes put on, troops were rallied and we left to go to our community group meeting. I am so grateful to be doing life with other Christian families and individuals that I LOVE and love Christ! It makes life so rich and so beautiful.

Today we talked about sharing our story, what God has brought us through and brought us out of. I want to be more proficient in sharing my testimony with people that I know and that I meet. I want to be challenged in this area and I’m so grateful for a group of people who are doing that in my life. Sharing our story is powerful!

And speaking of stories:
Every Wednesday this beautiful girl is here to play with us. We love our Aunt Genevieve! She is such an amazing young woman, has the most beautifully unique and inspiring story, and is just over the moon amazing with the kids. And I hear her right now practicing her harp downstairs. It is beautiful!! Yes, she is too good to be true.

Tonight Brielle asked her to make her a “crown braid” and she did this. So sweet.

We got to church a few minutes early, just in time to have Brielle almost smash her head hanging from the stair banister on the concrete steps. I reminded her we weren’t in gymnastics class… and she did it again. I’m trying to be more firm and have absolute consequences when she disobeys, like taking away her toys or a show for a bit, the verdict is out on the success of this.

Of course we had to walk down the sidewalk to Sweethaus while we waited for the doors to open. We looked in the windows and saw all the deliciousness but didn’t get anything… “because we didn’t have dinner, remember guys??” They are so silly.

I feel like in mom life you can experience the entire spectrum of emotions in one day. If the morning is all glittery rainbows and smiley faces the afternoon or evening is bound to be some level of hell. I can’t remember a day when we’ve been like yes… it’s been amazing all. day. long. No. It isn’t possible.

But it is possible for me to try to keep my sanity and be the happiest I can be no matter what is going on around me. And that will allow the kids to come back to my level whenever they can/want/are able to. It makes it easier for them to get back to “normal” if I am at that normal level on the regular.

I’m reading Triggers again, (for the second time) and love it so much. It’s teaching me so much about parenting and my own sin, and how my kid’s actions usually make me react out of my own shortcomings and sin, not theirs. It is so humbling and I love it!

The kids are in bed now, see how I skipped the ‘get home at 8PM and get them to sleep’ part? No thanks, even I don’t want to see pictures of that. There’s nothing like two over-tired kids who didn’t eat their dinner and didn’t nap. That’s when life gets cray and everyone needs their pillows flipped because “my pillow’s  too hotttt” and “I don’t want to take a bath, my legs itch.” And I just asked Brenden for some more bedtime complaint examples, because they are adorable and I don’t ever want to forget them, and he said, “oh sweetheart… I’m off the clock.” Good enough.

Okay, that was a long post. Loooooong. And I know I’ll be glad I wrote it one day. That’s just how I am.

Happy Normal Wednesday from my crazy family to yours!

XOXO

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Slow Cooker Mexican Meatballs And A Rainy Day At Home

Last Tuesday started with a dead truck battery and ended with a traffic ticket from a very kind police officer. No really, he was so kind.

After one look in the back of my land-cruiser packed with three preschoolers he went from business as usual to sweet and comforting: “Just call DMV and renew your registration and it’s like you never even got a ticket….”

“Call DMV??” I don’t know what planet he’s from, but it’s not earth. Even so, I was thanking him as I drove away.

Kindness! It makes the world such a better place.

After we were merrily on our way I asked my audience in the back; “Can you believe I got a ticket??” To which Brielle’s little friend replied, “A ticket?? To what?”

I mean, adorable.

Days like that remind me how little my happiness and joy depends on my actual circumstances, and how much it depends on my willingness to just be content.

(Telling stories and having our snack in the car before resigning ourselves to an unplanned morning at home.) 

Some days motherhood is a whirlwind of places to go and to-do lists and some days it’s rain coming down and hours of nothing but fights and make-ups and Netflix and crafts and meals and clean-ups and books and games and snacks and make-believes and time-outs, and doing it all agains…

And that leads me to the Mexican Meatballs… They were simmering quietly in the background, not needing or requiring me.. just getting “done” on their own. Ahhh.

I used to think slow cookers were for chili and soup in cold weather. Now, as a mom, I know they are for survival. There’s nothing better than turning a pot on and having dinner done eight hours later.

I found this recipe years ago and I’m excited to share it with you and have it eternally on my meal-planning radar.

Slow Cooker Mexican Meatballs:

Ingredients:
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
6 garlic cloves (I use minced in a jar, so a couple teaspoons full.)
Shallots, 2 bulbs diced
Ground pork 1 1/2 lbs
Garlic powder 2 tsp
Cumin 1 tsp for meatballs and 1 tsp for sauce
Chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce 1, chopped
Chili Powder 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp
Crushed tomatoes (Can, 14 oz)
Crushed Tomatoes (Can 28 0z)
Avocado, 1 cubed
Lime, sliced into wedges

I always chop my veggies before I deal with the meat, because of the obvious grossness factor.

So I chopped the cilantro (Ahhhh the smell!)

It’s so fresh and amazing.

Then I diced the Shallots:

I added the Cilantro to the pork (The shallots go into the sauce.)

Then I added the spices:

Then I took off my rings and mushed it all together.

Next I made the sauce which is so easy:

I combined the cans of tomatoes in the crockpot with the second half (1 tsp) of cumin and the adobo pepper as well as the shallots and minced garlic.
Stir stir stir.

Then I rolled the meat into balls and dropped them right into the sauce.

Once they were all in there I covered them up with the spoon, being careful not to damage them.
Then I covered the slow cooker and turned it on low for 8 hours (You can also do high for 6 hours.)

As an additional step, (but not necessary for a delicious meal) you can remove the meatballs from the slow cooker when they are done and puree the sauce with an immersion blender before mixing the two together again.

Don’t forget salt and pepper!

They are tender and delicious and way too easy not to add to my monthly meal rotation.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

XOXO

 

 



My Babiest Baby Is Three!

Throwing a party for a three-year-old boy… Could there be anything more FUN? And more terrifying? For the first time (in his long life of three years) he was super excited about having a party. Like suuuuuper excited.

Every day leading up to it, “Is it my burday party?? I wanna go to my burrday party!!” Lots to navigate for me in that area, but there was much fun and cuteness found in-between the stress of managing a three-year-olds emotions and unrealistic expectations. So much fun and cuteness!!!!

We went to Sweethaus on his actual birthday for a cupcake. It was rainy and chilly, perfect weather for his new blue raincoat that he just got for his birthday! When he saw it he said “It’s just like Dell’s!” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I know it means he loves it. 🙂


Thursday night we had dinner as a family at Red Robin. Birthday boy’s choice. 🙂

His smooshy kisses are the  best!

Friday we made favors for his party guests. Idea compliments of Pinterest, and so adorable. Also, super fun and delicious to make.


Then we got to work on the cake. I got the actual cake from Giant, a basic chocolate sheet cake with a pretty piping around the edges.

We (Brenden actually, let’s be honest) drew a “3” and cut it out. Then we proceeded to do this:


Brielle had lots of fun scraping off of cream. And then (not pictured) banging them to pieces in a plastic ziplock bag,

I laid the 3 on the very dry icing and sprinkled the cookie crumbs around. Then I pressed the crumbs so they wouldn’t be misplaced when I lifted the paper. 


I’m no baker but it was fun to use a paintbrush to get the pieces of “dirt” off the road. 

Pretty cute indeed.
I will never forget M’s face when he saw it. He had told me for weeks what he wanted for a cake. “I want a blue dinosaur cake.” “I want a racecar cake.” “I want a robot cake.” “I want a….” It was non-stop. He never asked for this cake, but little did he know it was exactly what he wanted! (Thank goodness.)

We had these two big trucks we wanted to use for a center display so we crushed MORE candy. Peanut butter cups and malted milk balls!



Combined they made the best boulders and dirt for these trucks to move and push.
Again, googley-eyes from the birthday boy.

Birthday party time!
It was a serious dose of adorable. And the best part, it didn’t break the bank. There were so many great ideas on Pinterest for a construction themed party, but man, it was intense. Too many ideas, too many options. I decided less is more and settled on some cheap construction hats and “caution” tape. (Thanks Amazon.) And it made the look. Oh, and I found some orange cones at the dollar store on the day of. Score!

He made the FUNNIEST faces when we sang happy birthday to him. He is such a joker!


The cake was a hit!



He really looks like a little construction worker on his lunch break. LOL.

He and his little friends had so much fun playing!


I love seeing his little friendships bloom.

Such a fun time!



Bacon Makin’

Oh how I love family traditions! Especially ones that taste good, (and may or may not raise your blood pressure, but let’s not dwell on that.)

Over the past couple of months THIS has become a weekend family tradition for us.

Every Saturday morning I see Brenden dragging this thing from the utility room (he wishes he had a garage) setting it up, pouring the pellets in, and setting the thermometer to connect to his iPhone.

(Who knew smoking meat could be such a nerdy/techy activity?? Maybe Brenden just finds a way to make everything nerdy/techy? Either way, he loves it.)

Last weekend we ran around doing our normal weekend stuff while this baby (we need to name her) did some pretty awesome smoking for us.

Whenever the smoker is ON I go through the fridge: “Can you smoke this? How about THIS??” And I pull out random stuff and bring it to the fire.

Brenden has smoked tomatoes, hot dogs, chicken wings, bacon, pork roast, ribs, (yummmmm, my favorite) and whole chickens:

He used a method called “Spatchcock” (not kidding) to flatten it out. This way it’s able to cook evenly and smoke to perfection!

And then there’s bacon makin’! I don’t know how to articulate how much this family loves bacon. Maybe just by saying, “one day it will probably kill us.” Because it probably will. We eat bacon every morning, then sometimes pork again of some variety by the end of the day. (Hands over face.)

No one really knows the health ramifications of bacon, but that aside, everything in moderation is a good rule… right? Well moderation is certainly not something we’re practicing over here currently. So… if we are going to eat it, it might as well be delicious.

Deeeeelicious.

So at the beginning of Brenden’s bacon making there was some trial and error. We went through a few pork bellies before we cut into it and were like “mmmm yeah, perfect salt to sugar ratio.”

Brenden first started off using brown sugar, and now he uses white sugar. The white sugar actually dissolves and absorbs into the meat as opposed to the brown sugar which seems to fall off right after you rub it on.

So the method he has adopted is this:

Go to whole foods and buy 3 lbs pork belly.
Mix: 1/3 salt, 1/3 cup white sugar, 2 tsp curing salt.

The curing salt is pink. I’m only telling you this because I am a stickler for safety, but this could be LETHAL if ingested in huge amounts. Meaning, if Michael or Brielle decided they for some reason wanted to eat an entire box of this, they would become very very ill. We keep it super high up and out of reach, and I doubt very seriously any human would want to eat that much pink salt anyway, but it’s worth mentioning! Good, off my chest.
Here it is:

The ingredients, if you care: Salt, Sodium Nitrate, and pink food coloring.

Mix mix mix and pat onto the pork belly. Okay, this is a picture from when he used BROWN sugar, picture it white.



He cut the meat into two sections and made one a little spicy with some Sriracha. Yes please.


Just squeeze it on, (no measuring needed) and pat the sugar/salt mixture on after all the sauce is rubbed in.
Then place the meat in a bag and seal it closed. It will stay in the fridge for a week. He flips it once a day (for some reason) and sometimes I flip it too because I think maybe he forgot that day, so when we both flip it, it ends up NOT being flipped at all! Perfect example of too many cooks in the kitchen.

After about a week he pulls it out, and now it’s ready to smoke.


The thermostat talks to his phone so he knows when everything is done without any hassle.

After it’s done he lets it rest and then slices it, and we fry up some regardless of what time it is, because it needs to be tasted immediately! It’s just too good to wait.


XOXO

 



My girl is FIVE!

Five??? Come on, how is that even possible? It feels like just yesterday I put a number “5” on her dress representing five months.

I’m putting all this down now because if I don’t it will never happen. I always wait too long and then it just falls off my radar, all the pictures drifting farther and father back in my iPhone album.

This post can’t possibly do justice to what is going on in my heart right now… my little girl is growing into a beautiful young woman right before my eyes… so I won’t even try. Instead I’ll just write what happened this weekend so I never forget it.

Friday morning before preschool Grandmommy Erkel surprised us with a birthday cake! We sat around and sang happy birthday and had coconut cream cake for breakfast!

We were driving to preschool and Brielle was already saying “best birthday weekend ever!” It’s not hard to win her little heart. 🙂

We made Funfetti cupcakes with sprinkles for her preschool celebration. They love to help in the kitchen… It’s always messy but always fun.

Brenden and I went to her classroom to read two of her favorite books: Why Should I Help? and How to Pick a Pup. The kids in the class were SO CUTE sitting around interacting with us and talking about the books. She has such sweet little friends! Michael loved to be there too. He sat on the floor and basically made a huge commotion while we read.

Then we went to Red Lobster for her birthday dinner on Friday night. Don’t ask me WHY she wanted to go to Red Lobster. We don’t ever go there as a family… and I hate that they keep live lobsters in a tank until they kill them! But she wanted to go so we did. They had Shirley temples and picked at their rice and shrimp. It wasn’t a huge hit other than the cake and liquid sugar with cherries in it. 😀

(Brielle is showing off the bracelet her daddy gave her.)

We had her birthday party at Classics Gymnastics and it was a blast!! Her favorite activity during the week is her gymnastics class and she LOVED to share it with her friends.



It was so much fun having all her girlfriends there to celebrate with us! The kids had rosy cheeks after running around and doing obstacle courses and different activities with the awesome leaders. The favorite was the foam pit and the monstrosity of a bouncy house!

I made myself a promise that next year we will keep it simple and have a small family party. I loved this big to-do but there’s something so valuable about keeping it simple too. I don’t remember having these kinds of birthday celebrations as a kid, I mean, the presents alone…. It will take a month to open all of them!!

This morning when she was eating her birthday chocolate chip pancakes before church she said: “So am I a ‘plain five?’ I want to be an older five like five and a quarter or five and a nickel.” Brenden and I died. These kids seriously never cease to amaze us.

This “I want to be older” mentality was very welcome after Friday when she cried all day because she didn’t want to turn five. Her concerns were: “Is it hard to turn five? How will I know how to do it? Will I still fit in my clothes? I don’t want to get any bigger. Will I still look like me?”

Some of her questions made me laugh and hug her, others made me want to cry with her. Like when she said “I don’t want to get big like Aunt Lizzy. Can’t I always stay small like I am right now?” Sob. I mean, these are my thoughts too… coming from her makes them even more real and painful.

Then we had a long talk and looked at her Peppa Pig calendar. We looked at the day before her birthday and the day after her birthday. I told her she would be the exact same size before and after her birthday… she would just have a different number.

Crisis averted.

This morning she opened her presents from us and her favorite, (surprise surprise) was her makeup kit and nail polish. Michael and I already got our makeovers!


Brenden smoked ribs all day and we had a family dinner tonight. We went to another dear friend’s party, (yay for drop off parties! It is how I was able to write this post!!) And then Michael gave Brielle his gift to her: A beautiful orchid. (Thank you Daddy!) Their relationship is a treasure to my soul.

She went to sleep so so happy. So full of love and hugs and joy. And her favorite new doll!

She will be my baby forever. I love you so much Gabrielle Elise Grace.