Tinkerbell + Peter Pan.

31 October 2013 | 12 Comments

Happy Halloween. 

I knew I wanted to make Tate’s costume this year… I’ll take it while she’s letting me.  She was mildly obsessed with Tinkerbell for months so it was a great choice.  Finn had originally chosen Captain America, but at the last minute when we were joking around about Peter Pan and Tink being a fun costume combination, he asked if I would make him one.  I kind of feel like he is the best big brother in the entire universe to do this just because Tate was excited about it.  We still have his {store-bought} Captain costume, I figured he’d wear that one to school and Peter Pan for trick or treating with Tate, but it turns out, he’s loving it.  

Both were really really easy to do, but they look a lot harder than they are.  You can easily purchase the hat for Peter Pan if you don’t sew {or have a patient mother in law who does!} and the little capelet can just be cut out raw fleece.  The kids LOVE the costumes and I can see them being used in the dress up box for ages after Halloween.  I am completely in love with how they turned out.  Everywhere they’ve worn them, people have told us how much they like them.

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For Finn’s DIY Peter Pan costume:

  • t-shirt that was two sizes larger than his normal dyed with apple green RIT, cut one line down at the neck to make the V-neck, then V’s out of the bottom and the arms
  • a long sleeved brown t-shirt underneath 
  • brown belt
  • light grey skinny jeans dyed with apple green RIT
  • brown boots
  • green hat made from fleece with a red felt feather

For Tate’s DIY Tinkerbell costume:

  • capelet made out of green fleece with the edges scalloped a bit to look like a leaf, slit cut in the back to make room for the Tinkerbell wings
  • head piece was just two leaves cut out of green fleece and sewn together, it has velcro to close around Tink’s famous topknot hairstyle
  • fairy wings found at Target for $2 in the kids party section
  • white tank dress from Hobby Lobby dyed RIT kelly green
  • yellow leggings dyed kelly green
  • white shoes from Hobby Lobby dyed RIT kelly green, topped with 3” white puffs found in the kid’s crafts

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Meme’s Sloppy Joes.

30 October 2013 | 2 Comments

My grandma Meme has a few dishes that over the last 89 years she has perfected.  No one can do them like she does and she doesn’t have a recipe for any of them.  I have called her often and to ask for the recipe for her Beef Stew and her Lasagna.  I’ve watched her do the Thanksgiving stuffing for the last four years and I still manage to screw it up.  I can usually keep up with her pinches of this's and handful of that’s but it makes my cousin’s wife and my sister crazy because they are recipe followers. 

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I always forget about the Sloppy Joes because she still makes them often enough herself that I rarely need to.  It’s so easy to throw them in a crockpot to cook half a day so people can eat when they’re around… a must in a family with six children, six grand children, and six great-grand children, and that isn’t counting spouses.  I’ve made them for parties, they’re great for college football Saturdays, and it’s a great main dish recipe for those pot-luck functions.  They are fantastic for leftovers the next day and you can also freeze them if you are so inclined, go ahead and make a double batch. 

Dave asked me to make them this weekend so I did, and I took dinner over to Meme too.  A little payback for all of those years of her making them for us.  A couple months ago, I also painstakingly tasted and tested the right amount of ingredients to have a written recipe for my sister and Amanda so they can make them too.  Now, we enjoy them without any onions or peppers in them, but if you’re so inclined, you could throw in 1/4 - 1/2 cup or so of each, just sauté them after you sauté the ground beef.  Our family will tell you that they’re perfect as they are, but to each their own.

Meme’s Sloppy Joes Recipe

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 TB brown sugar
  • 1 Tb Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • Seasoning: garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt

First, you will sauté the ground beef, seasoning with garlic powder, onion powder, and seasoned salt.  {You could also just use black pepper and salt if that is what you have on hand.}  Break it apart as it’s cooking with the side of the spatula so it makes smaller crumbles.  I usually use a lower fat beef so I don’t have to drain it, but if you use a higher fat content, drain off any excess fat.  If you are making these in the crock pot, turn it on low, you can put the ground beef in after it is thoroughly cooked.  You can also just leave it in the sauté pan if you don’t want to mess with the crock pot.  If you do that, turn the burner to low.

While the ground beef is cooking, throw a can of tomato sauce, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar, and a quarter cup of ketchup into a sauce pan and heat, stirring until everything is blended together and the sugar has melted completely into the sauce.  Allow to simmer for about five minutes and then pour it over the cooked ground beef. 

Let it simmer on the stove or in the crockpot for 10 – 20 minutes and serve.  You can also leave them for hours warming on low in the crockpot, you really can’t mess these up and I think they taste fantastic with a little more time cooking.  Coleslaw and potato chips make super easy side dishes!

I’ll Be The Squeaky Wheel.

28 October 2013 | 14 Comments

My first grader, he likes to fit in.  He is very bright and typically well mannered, he has a cute sense of humor, an older soul than his six years, and is a very people pleasing kid.  Instead of feeling slighted, he is the first to say, “that’s OK,” when something doesn’t go his way… except with his sister, of course.

I, at thirty-seven, on the other hand, am at peace with not being liked by everyone.  Do I like it when someone can’t stand me, or want to be disliked?  Uh, no.  But let’s face it, sometimes it happens.  I realize that life is way too short to spend much time worried about someone not liking me, there are people who just won’t.  I pretty much say what is on my mind whether that makes me popular or not.  If you’ve been reading So Wonderful, So Marvelous for any length of time, you probably already know this.  My outspoken self is probably a direct result of being raised by someone who has always taught her daughters to be themselves and to open your mouth when something isn’t right. 

You don’t participate in something that you think is wrong, whatever ‘right or wrong’ might be in your eyes.  You don’t sit idly by and let someone get belittled or harmed.  You stick up for yourself and for others.  You open your mouth and say that it’s not alright to make racist, misogynistic, or bigoted comments or to put someone down when it happens in front of you.  You say out loud when something is hurtful or just bullshit.

Even when it seems like everyone else thinks it’s fine.

I would venture a guess that a lot of people struggle with times when their moral compass is facing a different direction than others.  It’s hard to do sometimes.  You are afraid of repercussion, of retaliation, of being the oddball, of being disliked, of being the pejorative complainer.

So instead, you shut up.  You go ahead and ignore that knot in your stomach signaling that maybe something isn’t OK.  Maybe you kick yourself later, wishing you had said something.

I get it because I’ve done it. 

It is sometimes harder for me to be the outspoken one as a parent.  I find myself checking my comments when I think someone is behaving like an idiot.  I put little things aside because in the grand scheme, they aren’t worth rocking the boat.  I weigh the fallout on my kids for voicing my opinion.  But I also know in my head where that limit is.  Some things are just not OK, even if it seems like everyone else is going along with it. 

And then you have to explain to them that, yes, Johnny’s parents think it’s ok to do that and it’s their prerogative for their family, but no, your mom and dad don’t think it is ok.  You have to teach them because you are the parent, it’s your job. 

I have no doubt that this is only going to get harder as they get older.

My friend just did this when two of her boys were asked to play in an exhibition football game at an NFL stadium.  It was a special thing, their teammates were excited and she wanted to say yes.  The only caveat, she and her husband decided a long time ago as a family there are no sports, work, or other activities on Sunday.  For them, it’s church time and a family day with no exception.  When we were talking a little later, she said that sometimes it’s hard feeling like the weird ones for sticking with it, but that she knows it’s the right decision for their family.  She doesn’t at all feel like other families are wrong for choosing something different, yet it’s still difficult when other people don’t afford them the same understanding. 

She and I are very different, yet as parents, we both identify with what that moment is like to be the dissenting opinion and do what you think is best for your child.

Last year, they announced that if the school met their fundraising goal, the top fundraiser in each class would be able to silly string some administrators.  Administrators who would be duct taped to the flagpole in front of the school.   Which?  Was NOT at all ok with Dave or with me.  Finn was the third highest fundraiser in the school, so he was picked for his class.  The silly string was fine, the ushering of an entire school outside to crowd around to watch two people get duct taped to a flagpole while the kids took turns with the silly string, wasn’t.  Not even a little bit.  It didn’t matter that they were adults or that they were doing it willingly.  It didn’t matter that other parents had come up with this reward and thought it was fun.  So, as a very new kindergarten parent, I marched my happy ass into the school and talked to someone about it.   I was told that they would just ‘downplay’ the duct taping by using brightly colored tape, but that they wouldn’t take it out completely.  “It’s fun because it’s pink!”  At that moment, my head wanted to explode and I even contemplated pulling those funds he had raised until someone gently reminded me about what a difference that money makes for the kids at his school.  Instead, with his teacher and his principal’s ok, I picked him up early.   I also got the added bonus of explaining to my five year old why it is never ok to use duct tape on another human being EVER and why his mom and dad did not want him to participate.

Hey guess what?  I’m also the parent that thinks these dumbasses who duct tape a kid and post it on Facebook in the name of a joke should be in trouble.  I’ll just be the person over here thinking you all have lost your damn minds and you can think I’m over-reacting.  I’m good with that.

Recently, we had something else come up that Dave and I both felt as strongly about.  He is my measure, that husband of mine, his calm balances my loudness and liberal compulsion to right the world’s injustices.  We talked about how to handle it, I talked to other parents who were also understandably upset, some who felt that there would likely be problems if they said something, and decided that ultimately this was one of those cases that fell under the ‘this is really not OK’ umbrella.  The situation was clarified and taken care of, but I’m sure the person involved is pissed that we said anything at all.  I have to be alright with that and so does our son, whether he completely understands why or not.

Until he does, I’ll be his squeaky wheel.

Halloween Crafts: DIY Eyeball Lights.

24 October 2013 | 2 Comments

Homemade Halloween decorations are the best, bonus points if they are easy and they look great.  These DIY Halloween eyeball lights are just that, you can make these as scary or as silly as you want.  It’s such a simple project that even non-crafty people can do.  I made these for our Hotel Transylvania outdoor movie night, but they would be perfect for a party for Halloween.  The best part, when Halloween is over, just gently pull them off the string of lights and save them to re-use next year.    

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All you need:

  • A string of lights.  {I used icicle Christmas lights because we had them, but any strand of lights will do.}
  • Sharpie markers.  {Red, black, + any other colors you like for the eyeballs.}
  • Plain white ping pong balls.  {As many as you’d like to make, we used about 20 for ours.}
  • X-acto knife.

I spent probably an hour and a half drawing the eyeballs on the ping pong balls.  Try to use vibrant colors, so they show up well.  The metallic color Sharpies also turned out really fun on these. 

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Once you get your eyeballs done, you’ll use your x-acto to cut an X into the back of the ping pong ball.  Then, gently push the light on to the ping pong ball. 

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Long Live The Homemade Halloween Costume!

17 October 2013 | 22 Comments

In the sixth grade, I had my first dance with a boy, Kokomo by the Beach Boys was playing over the speakers in our school gym. I was dressed as a present… a costume that I had thrown together that morning.  It consisted of a box with arm holes cut out, wrapped in wrapping paper and a ridiculous amount of curling ribbon in my hair. 

It was totally hot, as you can imagine.  My other choice was to be Madonna.  I’m pretty sure the Catholic school chaperones and my parents were thankful that there was a box between me and my dance partner, who was dressed as a werewolf.

Maybe that’s why I was team Jacob until I quit the Twilight books half way through?

What was my point?  Oh yeah, Halloween. 

I’m sick of kids these days and their $30 crappy costumes made by Polly and Esther.  I’ll be the old lady over there in the corner shaking her fist in your general direction, kid with the Scream mask on, who is too big to be trick-or-treating.  As a Halloween fan who passes out candy to roughly three hundred kids on Halloween night, I’m calling for a stop to the endless stream of yet another {insert whatever the popular costume of the year might be this year} coming up the walk. 

Help me out, parents.  Don’t you want your own kids to have ridiculous pictures to show their kids of Halloweens gone by?

I would like to make a motion that we return to the homemade Halloween costume as the norm.

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There.  I said it.  Before you start crafting a dummy in my likeness to burn in effigy, hear me out.

I get it.  There is a whole rack of shiny new polyester costumes just waiting to be thrown in the cart.  Halloween, done.  It’s easy.  But, it’s not really difficult to pull together a few things or borrow items and do something creative for Halloween either.  Lyndsey and I managed to have awesome costumes every year and my mom isn’t a crafty person by nature.  I’m pretty sure those cheer skirts up there were felt that we used safety pins to keep closed. 

I’m also not sure how Lyndsey managed to carry that giant bag of candy through the neighborhood, but it looks like she isn’t messing around.

You don’t have to sew.  You don’t have to be ridiculously creative or crafty either.  You don’t even have to spend a lot of money or time.  We did it when we were kids, didn’t we? 

In kindergarten, tights, a leotard, boots and a baton.  BAM.  Majorette. 

In first grade, that hideous paint that came on a stick that you’d wet and rub all over your skin and probably dyed my skin blue for days, plus a blue turtleneck, plus a white hat and dress… Smurfette. 

Oh, I’ll let you see for yourselves. 

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It could have been worse, I could have been the skunk.  Glued on cotton balls, for the win. 

She had a tail made out of panty hose too. 

In fifth grade, I borrowed my friend Jeff’s shoulder pads and went as a football player.  There was the year of footie pajamas and a pacifier around my neck.  And the one where I borrowed a lab coat and scrubs.  My mom still laughs about the time when I was three and she dressed me as a Hershey Kiss and some drunk people passing out candy thought I was a Conehead. 

Lyndsey was a clown, a Crayola crayon, a vampire and an m&m.  My friend Tara went as a Christmas tree one year, complete with an angel stuck to her head and garland and ornaments hanging off of her leotard.  Dave was a robot, a mummy, and a PacMan video game, also crafted out of a box.  My favorite, because my mother in law is a crafty badass that can sew, a Star Trek dude with the whole uniform.

He is now going to divorce me.  You are welcome…

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There is a glimmer of hope though.  I saw it last year in the form of a s’mores made out of a cardboard ‘graham crackers’, over the shoulders, sandwich board-style with marshmallow and chocolate paper that I had to remove so Finn’s buddy could actually sit down at the class party.  It was glorious. 

When I am passing out candy to three hundred kids, and I see yours looking like that geeky dude I married in his homemade Halloween costume, I’ll be mentally high fiving the shit out of you.  Plus, I’ll be sure to throw in a handful of extra Snickers or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup or those gross Almond Joys that Dave loves because I know you’ll be raiding your kids’ candy stash when they go to bed, and you deserve it.

Are you team homemade costume, or do you buy?  What was your best costume as a kid?

Tateisms.

16 October 2013 | 7 Comments

Years ago, I started keeping track of the funny things that Finn said and posted the first Finnisms.  Out of all of the things on this blog, those Finnisms are my favorite. 

And now, it’s time to start the Tateisms.   

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I take our neighbor boys to school every morning with Finn.  I always tell Tate, “let’s take the boys to school,” so she calls school uniforms ‘boy’ dressing. 

Tate:  I go see MY Meme.  You get dressed Finna J.

:: Then, she “punched” him in the stomach. ::

Tate:  Like a boy!

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Then, we went to visit with my grandma, who everyone calls Meme.  She’s 89, hilarious, and she and Tate are thick as thieves.

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Tate:  Meme draw a picture.

Meme:  Should I draw a picture of you?

Tate: No!

Meme:  What should I draw then?

Tate:  A punkin'.

Meme:  Ok then.  This pumpkin has a big tooth.  Uh, oh.  He's smoking a cigarette, he’s a bad pumpkin.

Tate:  Dat tooth is scary.

Meme:  Ok, I'll draw you a nice pumpkin.

Tate:  Draw a Finna J punkin’.

Meme:  This one has a smile, but no teeth.  He’s only allowed to eat cereal.  Ok it's your turn to draw a pumpkin.

Tate:  It's Memes turn.  Can you draw a punkin’?

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We currently have a baby gate up to keep Tate contained because the doors in our house are being stripped including the one to the linen closet.  She’s like a moth to a flame for all of the things she shouldn’t be into… like my make up.  So now, she’s leaving the linen closet alone and she’s obsessed with the gate.

Tate:  You will be trapped everybody.

Me:  Tate, don’t touch that gate.

Tate:  Ah – ha – haaaa.  You will be awesome trapped.

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Me:  Hey, Tate do you want to watch Jake?

Tate:  And the Neverland Pirates and me?  Dat’s WOND-a-ful.

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Halloween Pancakes.

14 October 2013 | 8 Comments

Halloween Breakfast

A few years ago, I made Finn some spider web pancakes around Halloween that he got a kick out of, so I thought we’d do them again.  There are countless recipes for homemade pancakes, but I usually just cheat and buy the mix and use gel food coloring to make the colors.  I add the food coloring right to the water before mixing it into the batter, you’ll want to make it slightly thinner than usual for doing these pancakes.  Make sure there are no lumps and pour the batter into a cheapie plastic squeeze bottle, the kind you find at the grocery store for condiments.  You will need to snip some of the tip off to make a large enough opening for the batter, I did mine at an angle, which worked well.  It’s also helpful to have a toothpick or skewer around just in case you miss a lump and it clogs the squeeze bottle.  You can wash and re-use the bottle over and over. 

It took a little practice and they still aren’t perfect!  Even the mess ups are delicious and your kids will think you’re the most fun ever just for trying.

Halloween Pancakes Pancake Batter Bottle

I did some brainstorming with them to see which {easy} shapes we should do this time around.  We came up with a monster; witches hat and broom; jack-o-lantern; bat; BOO; as well as the spider and web.  The hardest part is remembering to go backward because you will flip the pancake, which is why we stuck with an easy word and did all of the faces first.

Tips for the monster :: start with his eyes and mouth in black, then do the outline of his head and fill in with the plain batter.

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Tips for the jack-o-lantern :: start with the triangle eyes and mouth, then in orange, make the outline and fill in.

Tips for the spider and web :: start with the spider body then do each leg starting with the end and going toward the body, then do the head.  Be super careful when flipping it {making it smaller helps} so you don’t lose a leg.  I stuck some candy eyeballs on just to make it silly.

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Tips for the witches hat and broom :: start with the buckle on the hat, then do the brim and move onto the outline of the hat and fill in.  For the broom, start with the handle and the black line across the broom, then go back and add lines in plain batter for the broom.

Witch Halloween Pancakes

Tips for the bat :: start with the head and ears, then do the outline of each wing and fill in.  I added some of the candy eyes.

Bat Halloween Pancakes

Tips for BOO :: You’ll have to write the letters and the word backward, no worries, it’s not as hard as it sounds!  Start with the line in the capital B, then finish the B, adding two O’s that are connected at the end.

 Boo Halloween Pancakes

Pumpkin Chocolate Stout Cupcakes.

11 October 2013 | 4 Comments

Pumpkin Chocolate Stout Cupcakes Recipe

This dessert deliciously screams FALL!  I rarely use cupcake recipes, I’m more of an easy, ‘from a box’ kind of girl when it comes to baking.  This recipe for pumpkin chocolate stout cupcakes with pumpkin cream cheese frosting is worth the five extra minutes it takes to make though. 

Promise.

I started making this chocolate cake recipe four years ago at Dave’s Surprise Beer Tasting Party, chocolate and Guinness, what’s not to like?  But, I wanted to update it and add pumpkin since it’s fall.  Now, I’m not sure I want to go back to the original.  The pumpkin adds a rich, but undetectable flavor, and makes it virtually impossible to produce a dry cupcake.  Make these soon, they are fantastic.

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Cupcake Recipe:

  • 12 oz stout beer {I usually use Guinness}
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1/2 c pureed pumpkin
  • dash cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder {I usually use Valrhona}
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3 c flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  

Prep two cupcake pans with liners.  I usually give the liners a quick spray with Pam for Baking, but this isn’t necessary if you don’t have it on hand already.

Whisk together cinnamon, salt, cocoa powder, sugar, flour, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the stout beer, milk, and oil.  Then add the three slightly beaten eggs and mix to incorporate before adding the sour cream and pumpkin.  Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet making sure to scrape the bowl so that everything is completely incorporated. 

This is a really liquid batter, don’t worry, you didn’t screw it up.

Then fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full with batter.  Because I think it’s easier, I fill a gallon sized Ziploc with batter, then snip a tiny bit of the corner off to make filling them easier.  You can always use a measuring cup or spoon to fill too.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Mine usually take the full 30 minutes.  I touch test the tops at 25 minutes, if they are springy, they are done, if not they get a few extra minutes.  Pull them out of the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then take them out of the pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

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Cream Cheese Icing Recipe:

  • 1 brick of cream cheese {I use Philadelphia cream cheese}
  • 1 stick of butter
  • pinch of salt
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 TB vanilla
  • 1 TB pureed pumpkin
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1-2 TB remaining stout or milk for consistency
  • Americolor food coloring gels, optional

Allow the cream cheese and butter to sit out for 20-30 minutes until softened.  Add the pumpkin, vanilla, salt and cinnamon to the cream cheese and butter and whip until everything is incorporated.  Then, add the powdered sugar and beat on low, increasing to medium high.  You will likely need to add a little liquid, but it depends on your pumpkin, etc… I usually just add some of the leftover stout, but if you took the last swig, you can always add a little milk starting with a teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

Easiest way to eat a cupcake? 

Take the bottom off, put it on top, sandwiching the frosting in between!  I hope you enjoy this recipe half as much as we did.

Easiest Way To Eat a Cupcake

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I Notice You + I Think You’re Awesome.

09 October 2013 | 8 Comments

We all want to know that we don’t suck, that we’re noticed, that we’re capable, that we’re heard, that we’ve made someone’s life better, that we’ve done something great.  You certainly don’t need it to determine your self-worth, but it still makes you feel good to hear someone else say it.  And hey, if we’re honest, not everyone has that internal voice shouting, “You are awesome.”  Those people need you to say it on their behalf even more.

Go on and admit it, it’s nice to receive an honest compliment no matter who you are. 

How often do you hear when you’ve done something great?  And really, how often do you say it, or even notice, when you see good things going on around you?

Over the weekend, my sister Lyndsey and I were talking about a physician that called her boss and told him how she had gone above and beyond to help his patient.  Now, any of you who know Lyndsey aren’t surprised in the least that she would go above and beyond for someone.  That is just her.  This particular physician isn’t typically someone who notices support staff.  In fact, he’s often quite dismissive, so that he noticed and made sure to say so had a huge impact on her. 

Two minutes out of his day to make a phone call, such a little thing, made her feel fantastic.  I encouraged her to turn around and do that for someone else.  Then, I thought maybe I should take my own advice.

My six year old enjoys knowing that we think he’s done a great job on his schoolwork.  Dave needs to hear more often that I notice all of the little things he does for me and how much I admire how hard he works for his family.  The vice principal at Finn’s school greets every child, their parents, and even their younger siblings by name.  She should probably know I think that connection she has, it makes a huge difference in the community there.  My sixteen year old cousin just raised almost $1100 for JDRF on behalf of her friend, she should know how proud we are of her.  And that’s just the start. 

I spend a lot of time complaining when I notice something awful.  There is a place for that too, don’t get me wrong.   The tough truth is I sometimes catch myself in a cycle of being overly critical and recognizing the ugly things more than the good.  I am far from Pollyanna most days, but I don’t want to be that cynical, belittling, jackass either.  No one likes that person, least of all staring back at yourself in the mirror.

It just takes a conscious thought to fix that. 

I am going to notice good things.

And you will.

It doesn't cost you a thing, maybe a moment of time, to acknowledge it and tell someone that they are fabulous. 

So, I challenge you to do that this week, tell five people that you notice.  Who is going to be first on your list?

The Door.

07 October 2013 | 10 Comments

At Meme’s house in the kitchen, there is a door that leads to the basement.  As a kid, I would pull the phone cord, tuck it under the door and sit on the steps to make very important sixth grade phone calls to boys in privacy.  Going down those steps, she’d always remind us, and still does to this day, to hold on to the railing or we’d go butt over applecart. 

But on the door is a time capsule.  The measurements of our family as we were growing up, my aunts and uncle and sister and cousins.  It is so worn that you can barely read half of the initials on it anymore, but it still makes me smile that it’s there.  I showed it to Finn and Tate when we were over there recently and added them.  I tried to convince Dave to do it, just to mess with my cousin who is the reigning tallest line on the door.

Did you have something like this growing up?  Do you have something like this in your own home?

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Toddler Trails + Tea Parties.

03 October 2013 | 3 Comments

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My Finn and her Sophie started going to Toddler Trails at the metro park five years ago.  Their little sisters are enjoying it just as much now. 

Noelle has been my friend for the last eight or nine years.  We are like yin and yang, my very loud mouth to her quiet calm.  She doesn’t even bat an eye when I turn on the crazy ideas.  If anything, she encourages it.  So when I suggested a tea party at the park after our nature walk with Tate and Tillie, she said yes immediately.  She also said she had the perfect thing to go with it.

And she did.

First, you all should know that Noelle’s mom Vicki was a character and that is very much putting it mildly.  She was always doing nutty things that made Noelle become completely exasperated and in hindsight… sometimes a VERY long amount of hindsight, laugh hysterically.  Like the time she asked Noelle if she wanted a few play things for the backyard at their new house.  Noelle said yes and came home to find HUGE {like the size a pre-school would have} plastic monstrosities, as in several, in the yard.  Of course, the kids loved and begged her to keep them, which she did.  I think it was because she couldn’t find anyone with a trailer big enough to haul them somewhere else.  Or the time she bought a go-kart, just because.  She passed away suddenly a year ago and my heart aches for Noelle, who misses her mom like crazy.  It has now gotten to the point that we can laugh about her insane antics and one of those is the five dollar china.

Noelle inherited her grandma’s china, so you can imagine her surprise when Vicki showed up one day with another set of china for her.  She had no clue where to put it and it was missing pieces.  She told Noelle that she had paid a whopping five dollars for it at a garage sale.  You know what it’s absolutely perfect for? 

Fancy tea parties with little kids.

We laughed and talked over pink lemonade ‘tea’ about how much Vicki would have been tickled to see the girls with their frilly tea set up in the park.  And how she would have suggested that next time, we add a tablecloth with zebra or cheetah print to the mix.  To class it up.

I’m now on my own hunt for a five dollar set of tea party china.  I’m pretty sure Vicki would agree that sometimes life is way too short.  If you have the opportunity, go ahead and make a random Wednesday morning special.

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Our tea party menu: 

  • pink lemonade ‘tea’ + water
  • Sandwiches:  Nutella + banana;  peanut butter, strawberry jam, + fresh strawberries; cream cheese + cucumber stars; turkey, havarti + lingonberry mayo; ham + cheddar
  • petit fours
  • mini apple pies
  • carrots + dip
  • strawberries
  • mini pumpkin bundt cakes
  • brownies

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Fall + Apples.

01 October 2013 | 7 Comments

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I absolutely love this photo of the two of them.  And two seconds later, Finn was tattling that Tate was eating her apple and she was pushing him out of her way.  You’ve got to catch these short lived, sweet moments when you can.

Last weekend, we went to the orchard to pick apples.  We’ve been doing this for years and years and it’s probably my favorite fall tradition.  That, and Ohio State football, of course.  The weather has finally turned chilly here and the kids were dying to wear their new rain boots and long sleeves to trek through the orchard.  They’ve been wearing them non-stop around the house for a month already.

They were picking apples left and right.  Some tiny Tate sized snack apples, some huge and perfect for pie.  I need to borrow a peeler and corer for all of the work coming my way.  If you have any incredible apple recipes that I should try, please leave a comment and share them. 

I was pretty sure Finn was going to lose his other front tooth, but it’s holding tight despite the massive amount of apples he has consumed.  It’s a good thing too because the Tooth Fairy hasn’t yet replaced her supply of golden Sacagawea dollars.  Or at least, that is what I heard.  Please also note that he’s almost as tall as my shoulder already.

How did they get so big?

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Joules Baby Girl Horse Dress Joules Boy Wellies

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Disclosure:  The sweet folks at Joules sent a few new pieces for the kids to wear this fall from their new US site.  I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.

{P.S.  I really love finding places with stylish boys clothes.  Boy moms know, it’s sometimes much harder than you’d think and Joules has an excellent selection.  I’ll be shopping here in the future.}

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