Thursday, March 31, 2011

Speaking of Birthdays

The weekend before we left for spring break, we met Uncle Mark and Cousin Hannah up in the mountains to celebrate Uncle Mark's birthday. Unfortunately, Jack was pretty sick which spoiled our skiing plans. But the cake turned out better than planned!
This might be the fanciest cake I've ever made! I had some trouble finding a non-street motorcycle, but Matt finally found the exact same bike that Uncle Mark rides!

Cake idea/instructions from here.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jack's Many Birthdays

When discussing birthday plans with the kids, Jack expressed an interest in spending his birthday in Moab, UT at Uncle Mark's campsite. How can you say no to that? Especially when his birthday falls during spring break! I told him that the trip would be in place of a birthday party with friends, and he agreed. I was afraid it wouldn't be enough celebrating, but in the end, he actually had a whole week of birthday celebrations.

Celebration #1
in Moab. This is what he wanted for his birthday!
Celebration #2
at Eddie McStiff's in Moab with friends/neighbors also vacationing.
Not a great photo, but it shows how surprised Jack was with the dessert and singing!
Celebration #3
at the restaurant attached to our hotel in Cortez, CO on his actual birthday
Celebration #4
back home with presents, banana cake baked by mom and decorations from Mimi.
(and, yes, those John Deere stickers are still adorning my dining room...)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daybook 3.29.11

FOR TODAY
Outside my window... a beautiful bit of snow barely lit by the rising sun. The snow is sticking to the buds on my lilac bushes. I can't wait for the lilacs to bloom this year!

I am thinking... of a friend of mine who called yesterday to tell me that she is expecting. The miracle of life will never cease to enthrall and excite me.

I am thankful for... my husband's job. It allows me so much freedom to be who I want to be.

From the kitchen... a
chai tea for my breakfast. I want to bake some bread today. Or just bake something. I'm in a baking mood.

I am wearing... flannel
PJs, wool sweater and my ever faithful slippers.

I am creating... so many, many things! I must have at least 10
WIPs right now. Several are mug rugs as the FRMQG is doing a mug rug exchange. I have never made one and thought I should practice on one first, but now I can't stop! They are so much fun to whip up.

I am going... to a meeting, to the gym, to the school library to volunteer.

I am reading... Life's Work: Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom (it's okay... only on the first chapter), Young Runners, and listening to the audio version of Mudbound

I am hoping... for a bit of email time this week. I haven't written an email response longer than a sentence in over 2 weeks. Sorry if you have written me, and I haven't responded yet.

I am hearing... the tick of the kitchen clock, the mew of a hungry cat, and the furnace kicking on
(I'm in the kitchen on my laptop rather than my normal office spot).

Around the house... the tree house is finished and oh-so-much-fun! Rock wall is also complete, but we need to wait a few more weeks to pick out plantings (
the landscaper thinks I'm completely nuts due to my focus on edible plants!). I'm starting to think about my garden plan. I might even try planting some greens in the next few weeks. The inside of my house? A constant battle against clutter... like always.

One of my favorite things...
Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That cookbook. A Christmas gift. Loving it.

A few plans for the rest of the week: my sister's birthday, a few short runs, tennis, Pueblo quilt show with Miss D, and April Fools' Day! Maybe a little quiet time if I am lucky?

Here is picture for thought I am sharing: you'll have to wait until later this week when I have time to post photos from our spring break journey.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happy 6th Birthday

Nothing like being on a big adventure when you turn 6!
(I tried to post this from my phone on the actual day, but it wasn't working!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I was never big on St. Patrick's Day, but then I married a redhead and assumed a very Irish last name. Kinda had to start celebrating.
The leprechauns found us again this year! Pee'd green in our toilets, caught Nina, upset the furniture, turned pictures upside down, and wrote on our windows (the writing ended up being too faint to really see... gotta figure out something better for next year!).
Boy, was Mommy mad at those leprechauns! Fortunately, they also left us breakfast.
Corned beef is in the crockpot and soda bread will be baked this afternoon. That's MY favorite part of the day.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Minnesota

Quick recap of my trip...

The first few days were with my friend Krista. We shopped and shopped and shopped. And then we shopped some more! Friday evening was Charming Charlie, H&M and Trader Joe's. I also learned to play the game Settlers of Catan with her older kids. Saturday we spent 8 HOURS at the Mall of America. We walked each of the 3 main loops (each loop is over a 1/2 mile!). Of interest that day at the mall was both a Feed Our Starving Children event and auditions for the Biggest Loser (I found the disparity of the two events awfully ironic). That night we relaxed in a hotel room (thanks again, Allan!) and slept in late... ahh!

After yet a bit more shopping on Sunday morning (Krista and I really like to shop together!), I drove to my friend Michelle's house. She has a new baby boy, and I really wanted to come "help" by holding him for her. It was a lovely, relaxing few days of holding babies, playing with her older daughter and lots of girl talk.

At the Como Conservatory
And extra special bonus of this trip was going to lunch (at French Meadow Bakery Cafe - maybe the best chai tea I've had!) with my friend Melissa who I haven't seen in 15-ish years. Yet after a few minutes, it felt like no time had passed at all. Now I have one more reason to make frequent Minnesota trips.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Daybook 3.15.11

FOR TODAY
Outside my window... grass that is starting to look green, a half built playhouse, my new raised garden bed

I am thinking... about a phrase from my daily devotional the other day, "This Lent may we see that often the temptation we need to resist is not something we already know is wrong but something we think is right."

I am thankful for... the friends I have in my life. I wish I was better at keeping in touch with each and every one of you.

From the kitchen... not much right now. I don't even have dinner tonight planned. I might bake something for an after school snack.

I am wearing... gym clothes and slippers.

I am creating... my "Out of Control" Journal. I used to faithfully use my binder to stay organized, but it fell out of use a few years ago. I've been putting it back together for a few weeks now, and it is really helpful.

I am going... on another road trip with the kids for spring break. Matt will join us for a couple days, but most of the time I'll be solo with the kids. The trip will include a favorite locale for Jack's birthday (at Jack's request) followed by visits to a couple new places (and hopefully more Junior Ranger badges!).

I am reading... Half the Sky and listening to the audiobook of The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The latter has had a rather slow beginning. I hope it picks up soon. Half the Sky, on the other hand, is one of the most amazing books I've read in a long time. It makes me want to get out there and DO something about the state of the world. But what?

I am hoping... to get back on our routine. I feel so off kilter. But it isn't going to happen for another 2 weeks.

I am hearing... the sounds of cartoons from the living room. I've kept Jack home one more day from school. Poor lil' guy is just zonked.

Around the house... prints and photos that need hanging. I'd like to get that done in the next few days, but I'm afraid it will have to wait until after spring break.

One of my favorite things... Children's Tylenol Meltaways!

A few plans for the rest of the week: hair cut, St. Patrick's Day celebrations, first tennis lesson for the kids, and Spring Break!

Here is picture for thought I am sharing: From my Minnesota trip. Don't I look good with a baby in my arms? I should have had a dozen of babies...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sick, Sick, Sick

As Nanny in Eloise would say, we've been sick, sick, sick.

Matt has had it the longest. I think he has been battling various illnesses for at least 3 weeks. I consider him our disease vector in all of this!

Before I left for Minnesota last week, Kate got it. First it was just a low grade fever on Thursday, but by Friday morning it was fever, sore throat, and headache. It was rather inconvenient as I suddenly found myself with a sick child unable to go to school and an 11am flight. Fortunately, thanks to friends, I was able to make it work (although I did feel just horrible leaving my really sick little girl to go catch a flight). Strep was going around school and 3 of us had classic symptoms, so we started everyone on antibiotics which isn't a decision I make lightly (this is only Kate's second time to be on antibiotics in 7 years, and I can't even remember the last time I was on antibiotics).

Everyone got better while I was gone, I got caught up on my sleep, and we all felt great when I returned home.

But my first night back, Jack came down with a fever, and he seems harder hit than any of us. Today, day #5, he seems to finally be on the mend. That's good because I'm tired of cranky kids, I need some good sleep, and I want a day with both kids in school.

But now Matt has another bad head cold...

On my to do list today? My top three things for staying well: change everyone's toothbrushes, take my vitamin C and go for a run.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jack's Construction

Jack doesn't draw much. Not that he can't and not that he isn't artistic. He is. He just doesn't usually sit still long enough nor take the time to draw.

A couple weeks ago we went to the Denver Children's Museum for the first time. The kids had a good time, but it was President's Day weekend and crowded. Jack was enamored with the Assembly Plant exhibit. Unfortunately we didn't get a spot to work until the end of our visit when we were all (especially Mom!) getting tired. We looked at the "plans" available and took a few pieces of material to work on at home.

I assumed he would forget by the time we got home. He didn't. He immediately drew up plans for his project. See the steps are even labeled 1, 2 & 3?
And with a little help from Dad, built it! Just like in his plans.
It's some kind of snow plane that does all kinds of fancy stuff. Doesn't really matter what it is. I'm pretty proud!

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Fat Tuesday

The last few years we have been in Alabama during Mardi Gras and have had a king cake each visit. The kids love it and have been asking about it this year. Unfortunately, we aren't going to Alabama this year (we are so disappointed and miss seeing everyone down there). I decided that we should do our own Mardi Gras celebration on Fat Tuesday until I realized that I would be in Minnesota today. Instead we held our big party last week. Matt had to work late, but we had Miss D over for dinner.

I cooked red beans and rice with cornbread for dinner. Followed that recipe exactly except that I used dehydrated bell pepper and added a bay leaf. I also made my own creole seasoning (the spice was perfect f0r Matt and me but maybe a tad hot for the kids). The dish turned out really good, and I know Matt will be bugging me to make it again soon.

Then we had our king cake! I used this king cake recipe. It is very similar to the Swedish tea ring I make at Christmas, so it was really easy. We used the cinnamon and sugar filling. It was delicious, but I'd also like to try the cream cheese filling. I wasn't sure how to go about putting the baby inside the cake. I didn't like the idea of baking plastic, so I just punched it in through the bottom after the cake was baked. Worked great. I would love to find an antique, porcelain king cake baby to use in the future.
Who found the baby and gets the good luck all year? Miss D!
And because it is Fat Tuesday, I'm doing a repeat performance tonight in Minnesota with my friend Michelle's family. Yum!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Lent

Other than maybe occasionally referring to my Catholic upbringing, I never blog about religion. Oddly, it is actually one of my favorite topics. I find people's belief systems fascinating (sometimes in good way, sometimes not). Living in what might be the epicenter of the fundamental Christian movement, religion seems to be a alluded to frequently in conversation (again, sometimes in a good way, sometimes not).

Last summer we found a church that we like and is a good fit for our family values (open and affirming, not-so-judgmental, eco-conscious, intellectual, etc.). It has been a great experience for all of us (although ski season has put a bit of a dent in our attendance...).

Anyway, my whole point of all this is that I signed up for the church's daily email devotional. The short essays can be quite thought provoking. Last week was a devotional about going on a carbon fast for Lent. I've joined and can't wait to start. I thought some of you might want to know about it and participate.

I love being in a church where caring for creation is a priority. But I'll probably still end up in Catholic mass for Ash Wednesday. Old habits and guilt die hard... like I'll probably also end up giving up chocolate like I always have...

Friday, March 04, 2011

Banner Bags

I "discovered" Lyziwraps banner bags last year when we went to our local earth day celebration. I purchased a couple there and have LOVED them. I have at least one in every size and in both vinyl and mesh. They are all great. When I got an email that they are having a "banner" sale, I had to purchase a couple more and pass the info on to blog readers.

Until March 8th, use the code banner to receive 40% off your purchase!


Thursday, March 03, 2011

Confession

Trying to be honest. I didn't even make it through the last day of the no buy month... sigh...

Found this print at World Market. On sale. Plus it was discounted a bit more for being a little banged up at the bottom. Just couldn't pass it up since I'd been wishing for a similar, much more expensive one.
Love it! Makes me feel happy every time I look at it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Old Music

When we moved into this house a couple years ago (can't believe it has already been that long!), my friend Ashlee gave us a piano that she had gotten off of Freecycle. It is a beautiful, turn-of-the-century piece that needed some TLC. It has sat in our living room ever since waiting for us to find the time, energy and money to make is playable.

Last week we had a guy come from a local piano store to evaluate it. Unfortunately, he believes that the piano needs a little too much TLC. The piano probably lived in an area of high humidity for years before being brought to Colorado. The harsh change in environments caused a lot of warping and rusting. It would cost upwards of 10K to make it playable. Just not worth it.

After hearing that news, we decided to find another piano. The piano guy took us to his piano warehouse where we looked at all varieties of old pianos. We found another beautiful piano from the late 1800's that just needs some minor work. It has the cutouts that I love, and you can even see the inner workings as you play. It should take only a few weeks to get it into tip top shape and delivered to our living room. Very excited!

They will take the old piano away and salvage all the parts that they can. It still makes me a bit sad to see the old beauty die.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Daybook 3.1.11

FOR TODAY
Outside my window... Pike's Peak is pinkish purple from the sunrise. It is quiet in my backyard, but I did see a fox scoot through before I started writing.

I am thinking... of all the little things I need to accomplish this week. Sometimes I have a difficult time fitting in the small things - scheduling an eye doctor
appt, paying a solitary bill, writing a quick email, etc.

I am thankful for... quiet evenings and quiet mornings when I can think and work and listen.

From the kitchen... homemade
creole seasoning for the Mardi Gras dinner I'm making tomorrow for my family plus Miss D. We'll have dinner out with friends tonight. Another ski widow. Both dads have been CAT skiing in Steamboat this week.

I am wearing... my
snowman PJs from 2 Christmases ago. And Matt's old yellow motorcycle socks that I pilfered years ago. It's a good look. But the socks are super warm, and I can't find my pink slippers this morning.

I am creating... a huge mess where ever I go! I have so many projects that I wanted to finish this week, but I'm not sure I'll complete anything (
and I'm not even going to start some that I wanted to finish!)

I am going... to Minnesota! Direct flight from COS Friday morning, and by that evening I'll be playing with my friend Krista. We are going to do a girls' night in a hotel Saturday night (
thanks, Allan!) with lots of shopping, chatting and catching up. Sunday I am heading to my friend Michelle's house where I am going to pick up her new baby and not put him down until I leave on Wednesday (or maybe I'll just take the baby home with me...). I'm also excited to see my friend Melissa. I haven't seen her in about 15 years!

I am reading... NOTHING! I finally finished listening to the
audiobook of Pillars of the Earth over the weekend. Will pick something out of my pile of books to start on the airplane. Maybe Room?

I am hoping... for time to work on my creative projects this week, time to run errands this week, time to run and play tennis this week, time to just be with the kiddos... I guess I'm really just hoping for more time!

I am hearing... just the white noise hum of the space heater warming my little office.

Around the house... our new window is finally in place! Still needs trim work, but it is so nice to see the entire backyard from my kitchen sink. The family room was so much brighter when I came down this morning.

One of my favorite things... my
sewing bird scissors. I love having it around my neck while I work.

A few plans for the rest of the week: dinner with friends, lunch with the girls, my niece's birthday, and did I mention that I'm leaving on a jet plane?

Here is picture for thought I am sharing... Oscar. I don't have many photos of him, and after losing Samuel, I felt like I needed some.