Sunday, June 27, 2010

World Sippy Cup

Now that I have two kids "playing" and a mini-van, I guess I am officially a soccer mom. I haul the sunscreen and the water bottles. I make sure the uniforms are washed (around here, one week turn-around time is tougher than you might imagine).

Are you thinking: "What kind of psycho signs up her two year-old for soccer?" Don't think that. I really signed him up for blowing bubbles, building towers with cones and knocking them over, and playing with a rainbow parachute on a soccer field.
Little Bit loves every second of it.
The way he looks in his little uniform? Priceless.
Bub is now in his third season -- the big leagues where they no longer do bubbles or play parachute.
I have to say that I'm excited for the "real soccer" days ahead (assuming they want to keep playing), but for now I'm enjoying my Lil' Kickers.

What are the kids in your life doing this summer?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pick Up Artist

Our house is still on the market. I'd love, love, love to move into a home that would be a better fit for our family of five, but I am also at peace with staying in the city for another year. Que sera, sera or something like that. As I've said over and over the past few months, "We'll just see what happens . . ."

We will see what happens and in the meantime I will continue to prepare the house for showings as necessary. It's not all that fun cleaning and tidying a home with the "help" of Bub, Little Bit, and Sweet P. I have a system in place that involves staying up until midnight so I can clean the main floor uninterrupted, scurrying around the upstairs before hubby leaves for work, trying to keep the kids out of the basement pretty much all the time, and putting various items in their hiding spots (i.e., dirty laundry and clean-unfolded laundry in back of van). Cleaning kind of sucks, but I try to make the best of it by listening to audiobooks as I work and imagining that back and cleavage sweat are signs of baby weight melting away.
My cleaning system is a bit exhausting, but I have it down. I really enjoy the feeling of order and calm that washes over me as I finish tidying up and hop into the air-conditioned van to make a getaway with the kids. I enjoy entering our home after the "coast is clear" and seeing debris-free surfaces and a toy-free floor.
I can't clean and tidy like this forever, but I'm doing okay with it all.
Here's what I'm not okay with . . . What is killing me is not the cleaning itself but how quickly the house goes from show-ready to disaster zone. At 10:50 a.m., I stepped into order and calm. It's 9:40 p.m. now and the house is completely messy again, messy in a "I'd be embarrassed even if close friends stopped by right now" way. It's kind of heartbreaking.*
I know it's the reality of life with young children and too much stuff and no big suburban basement to keep it all in. It's my own real estate version of The Outsiders where "nothing clean can stay."
When evening comes and the kids are asleep what I really want to do is relax in a tidy home -- read a novel, write a blog post, watch a little television, maybe sit on the deck and enjoy a summer breeze. Instead, I spend my evenings picking all the junk back up again.
It's not the cleaning that's getting to me. It's the way it never lasts.

*Another heartbreaking story is how many of our closest friends have moved out of the city so the chances of anyone stopping by are slim to none.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Denim Diapers & Detours -- All Thumbs Thursday

All Thumbs Thursday!

Thumbs Up:
+ wearing fancy hats -- Sweet P and I had the opportunity to don hats this past weekend at an awesome tea party bridal shower for my cousin.
+ Glee -- The sensitive side of Puck. "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "To Sir with Love." The season finale had me in tears, and I cannot wait to buy the last of this season's soundtracks when I end my self-imposed spending freeze. If you have not been watching Glee, buy or rent the DVDs this summer.
+ Huggies jeans commercial -- I have not purchased the Huggies "jeans" for Sweet P or Little Bit, but that commercial cracks me up. Why shouldn't you look cool pooping your pants?
+ moderate summer temperatures -- More sunshine. Less sweat. My deodorant already has to work hard enough so I am loving the milder weather.
+ Lori Lansens -- I have recently read two of Lansens' novels and have been completely enchanted by both. Check out The Girls, about twins conjoined at the head, and The Wife's Tale, about a woman whose husband leaves her (and then she finds herself, but it's not as cliched as that sounds). The main characters in both novels come from the same small Canadian town so there is a delightful bit of overlap.
+ The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove by Cathy Erway -- Another book that grew out of a blog! Erway spent two years not eating out (or ordering in) in New York City. I was inspired by her dedication to her project, her creative cooking, and the fact that she spent something like $20 a week on groceries during those two years. Recipes included!

Thumbs Down:
- Construction -- They are fixing the sewers around here and rebuilding my beloved "Little Jewel" grocery store. Necessary projects, but I am so sick of dust, bumpy and blocked roads, and unpredictable traffic patterns and detours.
- Bub and Little Bit fighting, pestering, and picking at each other. All. The. Livelong. Day.
- Miniature brooms that I forget to hide/trash each evening -- related to above complaint.
- The way each time I go to put Sweet P in the bouncy seat or infant seat, one of her brothers has pre-fastened the straps, forcing me to unfasten them one-handed before I can settle her in the respective seats.
- Still not being caught up with my thank you notes or birth announcements -- I'm working on them!

What's Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down for you this Thursday?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Damn, I'm a great mom

Over Memorial Day weekend, I got a bee in my bonnet that the boys and I were going to make our own popsicles. It was easy to get Bub on board. He's up for anything and has been overheard saying, "I just love projects." Little Bit is likewise up for anything, especially if it's messy and involves his big brother.

It was raining on the morning of Memorial Day and hubby had some work to do. I got Sweet P to sleep (easy for hubby to work and "watch" her at same time) and took the boys to Target in search of popsicle molds.
Damn, I'm a great mom and a great wife. NTB.
Target, of course, had the molds and in such cute colors that I had to buy three sets at $2.99 each.
Then, we stopped at Trader Joe's to buy some organic yogurt. We already had plenty of fresh fruit at home because, damn, I'm a great mom.
I let the boys help me wash out the molds despite the splashing and the irresponsible use of the sprayer because, damn, I'm a great mom.
The boys perched on the bar stools next to the island, and I pretended to be a sort of Rachael Ray/Sandra Lee hybrid filming a cooking demo on how to make your own popsicles because, damn, I'm a dork.
The boys and I mixed up a batch of Double Strawberry Popsicles (diced up strawberries and strawberry yogurt), Blueberry Banilla (blueberries and vanilla yogurt), and the yet unnamed but surely awesome third combination of bananas, vanilla yogurt, and chocolate chips.
I even let Bub help spoon yogurt into the molds himself and remained calm as Little Bit methodically spread yogurt all over the island. I was patient and enthusiastic and really stinking proud of myself for being, you know, such a great mom.
I was also as excited as the boys were about the popsicles. After dinner, I promised, the popsicles would be ready.
And they were.
Frozen solid.
But I could not and still cannot get those damn popsicles out of the molds. I can pull the sticks out, no problem, but a stick with a popsicle attached? Nope. What's that you say? "Run the molds under hot water." Oh. Tried that. Still could only remove the sticks.
I also had the idea that if I tapped the bottom of one of the molds with my metal ice cream scooper then the popsicle would pop right out. Frozen plastic cracks easily. Lesson learned.
The boys still really wanted popsicles after dinner and we had to appease them by offering the Pedialyte popsicles that we have on hand for the aftermath of diarrhea and vomiting. I like to keep my kids hydrated, you see, because, damn, I'm a great mom.
Or, at least, I want to be a damn great mom.
So, help this mom out by giving me any advice you might have regarding successful homemade popsicles. And, while you're at it, what are some of the activities you lead around your house that give you that "Damn, I'm a great mom" feeling. What super cool things did your mom do with you when you were little? How do you and yours like to pass the summer days? School's out (or nearly out) for most of us which leaves extra days and hours to prove what great moms we are.
Please share your favorite kid-friendly activities in the comments. Please. Everyone wants to hear from you because, damn, you're a great mom!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Flip-Flop Contessa

Hey, were you at "the lake" this past weekend? You know, "the lake" where every other facebook friend of yours was?* You were? Good for you. Oh wait, you didn't make it to "the lake" this year? Me neither, but we still had a lovely weekend at home, enjoying the weather and the kids and feeling grateful for our life . . . exactly as it is.

With hubby not working (or, at least, not at the office) for three whole days, I had a little extra time and was able to try a couple of new recipes. As loyal NTB readers know, I'm not a fancy schmancy cook or a hard core foodie, but I am a girl who enjoys eating, collecting recipes, and sometimes eating food resulting from collected recipes.
Here are this weekend's hits . . .

Fresh Corn Salad by Ina Garten (aka The Barefoot Contessa)

Corn on the cob was on sale for eighteen cents per ear at the Jewel so I bought a dozen (maximum purchase allowed) and went about searching out a corn salad recipe on the Food Network website. This one earned rave reviews and involved very few ingredients: corn, red onion, basil, cider vinegar, and olive oil. So, so easy to put together (most labor intensive part of preparation was boiling the corn for three minutes) and really flavorful. Hubby remarked, "It's good." High praise. He went back for seconds, as did I. I finished it up yesterday and am now jonesing to make some more. I'll tell you what, if you invite me to "the lake," I'll bring a triple batch. Tee hee.
Make this salad. It's simple and delicious. (Follow the link above or right here for the recipe.) The added bonus of this recipe was the opportunity to marvel at regional differences . . . What I call "corn-on-the-cob," my hubby calls "roasting ears." What term do you use?

The moment I saw this recipe (part of a spread on things to do with vanilla ice cream), I was ready to make it. Pretzels, ice cream, peanut butter? Sounded like a perfect sweet and salty delicacy. Plus, it was a "terrine." I don't fully grasp the breadth of the "terrine" category, but "terrine" just sounds fancy. You know, as in, "Well, after I whip up some fresh corn salad, I'll get to work on the terrine. I hope it doesn't melt on the way to the lake." The terrine is sweet and salty heaven. My only complaint is that the texture of the ice cream is a bit chalky, but I think that might be due to the fact that (in a misguided attempt to save forty-nine cents) I did not buy my beloved Edy's Slow-Churned.
Despite the fancy name, this recipe could not be any easier. The toughest step will be locating parchment paper at the grocery store (by the ziplocs -- you're welcome). I think now I might start to become obsessed with terrines and may try this savory recipe for Yellow Pepper Pesto Terrine next.
Finally, I want to mention that this Flip-Flop Contessa is digging her Skechers Tone-ups flip flops. I don't know if my a** is any firmer for wearing them, but they are very, very comfortable and do not turn your feet black and grubby when you wear them.

How did you spend your holiday weekend? Cooking? At "the lake"? Do you have any terrine experience?

*Credit to my sister LAP for this keen observation
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