Thursday, June 30, 2011


Gummy Bear started PeeWee "soccer" class last week. The class is 10 weeks and is composed of 3 to 5 year olds. I give the coach a lot of credit. Trying to teach 9 preschoolers how to play soccer deserves more than the $10 an hour she probably earns. Most of her time is spent herding and reminding them not to touch the ball with their hands.
Stretching is an important beginning for all "exercise"

Meanwhile, keeping Cheeky Monkey occupied, predictably means food and frequent retrieval from the field of play.
Puffs? I love Puffs!

Meanwhile, Gummy Bear hasn't quite gotten the hang of not touching the ball with his hands.

Even when the other kids have.
My soccer ball. MINE!


And then Cheeky Monkey laid down in protest.
I protest that you won't give me anymore Puffs.

The good news for me is that the coach runs their little butts off.
And then they sleep.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Gummy Bear says some funny stuff. Mostly he doesn't realize it. I need to capture these things somewhere, because I'm going to forget them if I don't. Eh, voila, Bearisms!

Recently, Gummy Bear grew out of a bunch of his undies. On our next trip to Target Boutique, I picked up some  in the next size up. Because I thought they were cute, I bought him a couple pair of boxer briefs. The first time he went to put them on, he looked up at me and said, "Mommy! These undies have leg sleeves!!!"

Friday, June 24, 2011

In which I'm grateful for quinoa and frozen yogurt

We bought a share at a local farm this year. It's been fun and interesting to stretch my cooking boundaries and figure out what to do with unfamiliar produce like kale, radicchio, cabbage and beets. Ry has been loving the home-cooked meals. Today I was looking through my Rachel Ray magazine and found a recipe that called for chicken and radicchio. It also had balsamic vinegar, honey and plums. Score! How could I possibly go wrong? Because it wasn't a big recipe, I decided to make and serve the chicken over quinoa.

One of my most vivid childhood memories is of my grandfather pulling out the crackers and peanut butter whenever his wife served a meal he didn't care for. This should have been a crackers and peanut butter night.

My first bite tasted of balsamic vinegar. So did each ensuing bite. Then Cheeky Monkey, who never met a chicken he didn't like, spit it out. Ry damned it with faint praise, saying, "I like it. I don't love it, but I like it!" And Gummy Bear? Well, I pulled a piece of chicken out of the pan, rinsed it with cold water and smothered it in BBQ sauce. Let's just say that we mostly had quinoa for dinner.

I decided that tonight was definitely a night to go out for frozen yogurt. "HURRAH!" Gummy Bear said. "Yeah, we all have lots of room," said Ry. 

Quinoa and frozen yogurt ... dinner of champions.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer = more posting?

So I totally thought that summer break would equal more posting. Hahahahahaha. I'm not sure if I'm luxuriating in not having anything to do or not boring you with my not having anything to do. We've actually been pretty busy with playdates, birthday parties and a Father's Day outing to Sesame Place. So, perhaps a few quick update blurbs are in order.

1. We have eaten an impressive amount of produce this week. While I still haven't gotten brave enough to make the kale, I'm planning on baking it into a quiche this week. Have any suggestions for how that might work? We have managed to put away 4 cucumbers, 3 heads of lettuce, 8 quarts of strawberries, 2 zucchini, our herbs and 2 quarts of string beans. I have the quiche planned and a pesto pasta to use the rest of the beans. Any recipe suggestions for our broccoli (which I'll probably just steam as a side) or extra zucchinis? I have until Thursday morning when I get a fresh injection of produce.
2. Father's Day was lovely. We visited Sesame Place with some friends of ours. Apparently most Dads are unwilling to do Sesame on Father's Day because it was distinctly uncrowded. Ry got a polo shirt from Cheeky Monkey, and satellite radio from me. Gummy Bear got him a Rockem-Sockem Robot shirt. He was very insistent on that choice. He also made him a pretty special card.
3. The rest of our time has been taken up with playdates, birthday parties and enjoying the weather. Cheeky Monkey started swimming lessons yesterday. Thankfully, there was much less crying and gnashing of teeth than with Gummy Bear last year. Gummy Bear starts soccer this afternoon. I love watching little kids play sports.
4. My boys have really stinky feet. Anybody have a suggestion for a good shoe spray or other remedy? Seriously, I've been washing the boys' feet at the end of the day for fear of their beds permanently smelling of feet.
5. We have more birthday parties and summer BBQs coming up in the next few weeks. My mother and stepdad are also planning to be here (for good!!!) around July 4. I feel like my long, glorious summer is quickly melting away.

What are you up to this summer?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ach ja, Erdbeeren

Today I took the boys to Honeybrook Organic Farm to pick up our weekly share of their community supported agriculture. This spring we decided to purchase a share to both support our local growers and to force me out of my cooking comfort zone. Last week, Ry went to get our share since the boys and I were still in Oz.

When we pulled up we were greeted by a red barn right out of Little House on the Prairie. The people manning the food inside were about as nice as you'll find in NJ and the boys had a blast helping me select our pre-picked produce. Most of the weekly share is pre-picked by the staff and waiting for you to bag like at a farmer's market. Certain items are you-pick. This week, the you-picks were string beans and strawberries (also, herbs and flowers).

Having gotten a taste of both from Ry's adventuring last week, I wanted to be sure we got our full allotment and so out I trotted with both boys, a bag, shears and 4 quart containers to get our string beans. I was half-convinced it was going to be a total nightmare, but the kids really enjoyed it. Gummy Bear quickly took charge of carrying the quarts and Cheeky Monkey "helped" me pick. The beans were relatively quick work and the herbs and flowers took less than 10 minutes.

Satisfied, we headed out to their secondary farm, where the strawberry patch is. When we arrived, we took a tractor (Gummy Bear's favorite part) to the patch. This time, both boys lost interest pretty quickly, but I was saved by an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old who played with Gummy Bear and fed Cheeky Monkey strawberries for the 90 minutes it took me to pick 8 quarts of strawberries. Score! Our official allotment of strawberries was 10 quarts, but I figured that since the boys took 2 quarts home in their bellies, we were even.

I am a little disappointed that I didn't take pictures at the farm. Frankly, I was just happy it went so smoothly. This, however, is the aftermath. Do you think that kid could be more covered in strawberries, dirt, water and sunshine?
Where are my strawberries?

And this is our haul. The share is about $25 dollars a week. I'd say we got our money's worth. This week, $25 bought us:
~ 8 (or ... 10) quarts of strawberries
~ 4 quarts of string beans
~ 5 heads of lettuce
~ 2 bunches of kale
~ 4 cucumbers
~ 4 summer squash
~ 2 bunches of beets (which I declined. Ew.)
~ 2 heads of broccoli
~ 20 flower stems
~ chives, catnip, sage, thyme and lemon something or other

I think I'm going to like this very much. We've already eaten an additional 2 quarts of strawberries, 2 cucumbers, and 1 head of lettuce.

And this is completely unrelated. It was lunch for the boys yesterday and I looked down and thought, "This is the happiest-looking lunch ever!" And so it is.
I'm the happiest lunch EVER!

Monday, June 13, 2011

OZ ... the end

Before Ry had to leave for home, we went to visit his Grandma Thomas.  The boys had a great time playing with her and her magnetic bracelets.

Papa and Cheeky Monkey had some most-nap snuggles.

And we found Gummy Bear the coolest-ever video game at a garage sale. The bike and 4 games only cost us $20! He played it every chance he got.

The boys spent some more time in the baby pool.

And the night before we left, we got a cake for Papa and Grandpa and Tantie, RN. It was really good. Mmmmmm. Cake.

Tell me this is not the most mischievous smile you've ever seen. He wasn't even getting into stuff.

Because it was blazing hot all week, we decided to go to a great little children's museum in town, the Orpheum. Little did we know it was not air-conditioned. Thankfully, there were some water features. Gummy Bear had a great time damming the river.

And Cheeky Monkey had a blast looking for dinosaurs.

It was really freaking hot.

We made a cool archway out of giant blocks. I'm not really sure how it was a children's activity though, because it took me, Tantie, RN and Gummy Bear to put it together. Even then, it was a close thing.

Tantie, RN and I took the boys to Allerton Park one morning. Allerton is a really beautiful old estate donated by Robert Henry Allerton. It's a park I've probably been to a dozen times and until last week, I never spent the time to read about the history of the place. It's an interesting story, actually. Robert Allerton was the wealthy heir to a cattle and banking fortune. He never married, but met 22 year old John Gregg when he was in his 50s. Gregg became his protege, and about 30 years later, Robert officially "adopted" Gregg, making him his heir.  The gifts to the university came later, and the two continued to be great collectors and appreciators of art.

If you read between the lines, it becomes pretty clear that Robert and John did not have a father-son relationship. I find it very sweet that he legalized their relationship in the only way possible at the time.

Anyway, we had a lovely time, although Gummy Bear was disappointed that there was no playground. We were there for all of about 5 minute when Cheeky Monkey fell and took a header on the concrete. He was OK, but sported a fine bruise for the next few days.

About halfway along our walk, Cheeky Monkey sat down and stubbornly refused to move. We just kept walking for a while, until Gummy Bear became apoplectic. "Mama! We have to get Cheeky!" I told him that I would never leave him, I was just hoping that he would get up and follow us on his own. "But Mama, we can't leave Cheeky, I will miss him in my heart!" Dawwwww. And so, we turned around and I carried Cheeky's little round bum until he deigned to walk some more.

These little guys line the walk on the way through the gardens.

And hear Gummy Bear rides a stone fish in the sunken garden.

Snack time!

The rest of our visit was uneventful and quiet and Saturday we started our long drive home, stopping to pick up Ry at the Indianapolis airport. For the first time in my life I said the words "Hurrah, we are in New Jersey!" without a trace of sarcasm. We had a makeshift dinner, Cheeky put lots of food in his hair and so the boys had a bath.

Gummy Bear decided to help us vacuum up the cat hair tumbleweeds and we all went to bed, tired and happy to be home.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

(I love the) Y. M. C. A.

As you probably remember, our family recently joined the local YMCA. It's been very nice to get back into the water. We are also enrolling Gummy Bear in some sports classes this summer. He had such a good time in gymnastics this year that I figure we should keep a good thing going.

Our Y has unusually nice staff for NJ. They are almost always smiling, greet you when you walk in the door, and look you in the face. When you leave, they actually look up and say goodbye. It's refreshing, especially after 8 years of  huffs, grunts and eye rolls from other local business employees.

This week though, I learned another reason that the Y is awesome. They have an "away" program. This means that I can walk into almost any Y in the country and use their facility. For free. Up to 14 times a year. Because I had the benefit of willing grandparents, I got to swim twice. And you know what else? The staff there? Super nice. Other patrons? Crazy chatty (and by crazy chatty, I mean some of each).

It's the little things.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Oz ... the middle

After our little adults-only getaway, we came back to these cute little faces.
Maybe my all-time favorite picture of Gummy Bear.
And their Tantie, who drove in from Colorado to spend time with the family and her favorite nephews.
The next day, Ry's Mummu and Papa drove up to visit.

They got a chance to hang out with their great-grandkids.

Tantie did some more bonding with the boys.

The next day, we tried to go to the pool. As it turns out, it didn't open until the afternoon. Instead, we went with Plan B, a baby pool and sprinkler in the back yard. The water was cold!

Gummy Bear was even brave enough to put his head in the water.

We also took the kids for Cheeky Monkey's very first Japanese Steakhouse experience.

He didn't quite get the point of the chopsticks.

But Gummy Bear latched right onto it.

Everyone was entranced by the fire.

Ooooh. Aaaaaah.
Our chef was a good sport.

And we had a thoroughly good time.

Poor Ry has to go back to work next week, but the boys and I have decided to stay for an extra week. Tomorrow we have to put Daddy on a plane, and pick him up on the way back to east next Saturday.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Oz ... the roadtrip

Ry and I had a little mini-getaway. It was lovely to get away, recharge, and not have to worry about packing extra snacks, drinks, toys and diapers.  As a matter of fact, when we set out for dinner, I didn't even bring my purse!
See how relaxed we are!?

We stayed at a charming little bed and breakfast called The Looking Glass Inn. It was really beautifully maintained, the room was comfy, and the host, Lee, made excellent french toast. It was the perfect place for us to get away and reconnect.
Dining area and front room.

The Looking Glass Inn

The next day, we decided to visit the Indiana State Museum. It was actually a really interesting little museum. They reassembled an old school facade inside.

They also had a collection of "oddities." Among wreaths and bracelets made of human hair, one-man-band instruments and single-log canoes was a display of bustles, girdles and other women's fashion trends of the past. As it turns out, bustles wouldn't have been the best look for me.
Jube got back

Invisible paddle!
Don't fall!

There was also a giant exhibition of Indiana's quilts. I took a picture for my mom.
That's a lot of quilts.

Maybe my favorite exhibit was a collection of old war-time propaganda.
This one is for you, Greg.

This jewel encouraged people to buy war bonds. In exchange, you could cross out one of the racist cartoons.
Ahhh, vintage racism.

Also, I never knew that my garden was a victory garden! My food is fighting.
From now on, every time ask the kids to water the garden, I'm going to ask them to water the Victory Garden.

The boys were really glad to see us. I was really glad to see them.
Well, one of them was happy to see us.
It was wonderful to get away. It was wonderful to come back. It was a much-needed chance to spend a day just being a woman and a wife. Thanks again, grandparents!
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