Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Turtle Beach - Cousin Style

First Steps for my lovelies on the sands of Turtle Beach.

First romps in the waves of the Pacific.

Oh, the Joy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Cloth Napkin

We sat down to dinner altogether every night as I was growing up.  The eight of us took our seat at the dining room table with candles lit and our own cloth napkin next to our fork.  Setting the table at our house included giving each person his own napkin and each had his own unique napkin holder to distinguish them.  I remember having the red apple one, there was an artichoke too. After about a week, I think, the napkins went into the wash.  I had to fold and iron LOTS of napkins as a kid. 

A couple years ago, I thought of using the white napkins I already had and the silver napkin rings each time we sit down to dinner as a family.  Well, we had already been using them, but giving each person a new one at each meal. 

There's just something about a cloth napkin that sets this meal aside as special, one to take time with.  It's worth the effort I think to add personal touches to family dinners.

In order to distinguish whose is whose, I embroidered our first initials on a napkin.  I had an assortment of embroidery floss that I found at Goodwill for a couple bucks.  It's a large supply and has about 25-30 different colors.  A find.

So, for the last couple years, whoever has the lucky job of setting the table for dinner, includes our own personal napkin.

Looks like from the picture, the napkin rings need some polishing.

My love for baking soda comes into play here. I use a small amount on the silver and it works beautifully.

I think I'll put a kid on that job...hmmmmmm, maybe I'll break it to them when they return from their excursion to Hawaii.

"Kids, while you were gone, I had lots of time to think about more jobs to add to your household duties."

That should be a hit.

Might risk not getting the awesome souvenir they are buying me.  Wait, I forgot to ask them to get me something. Shoot.  I know they already scooped up some sand from the North Shore to bring home for dad.  That's what he asked for. Sand.  Just a small scoop of sand.  I sent along a ziplock just for that purpose.  It's already filled, I hear.

God knows what he has planned for it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Big Girl Adventure

These two are embarking on a Big Girl Adventure.  The first real big adventure of their lives. An adventure with Grandma.

I imagine they'll return with glowing skin, a light shade of pink and a few more freckles.

They'll be enjoying scenery like this.

And this.

And maybe even catch a glimpse of this.

Nothing like a hello wave from a humpback whale mama.

Maybe they will hike though this.

I'm hoping they try this.

But not this.

Let's leave that to the professionals.

They'll get to hang out with this cool dude.  I mean his eyelashes alone are just to die for.

And, they'll get to witness their baby cousin being welcomed into God's great big amazing family through the sacrament of baptism and get to personally bless him with the sign of the cross.

It's a special time for them and I am so excited for them.

And if they're anything like their parents, they'll be itching to return to the beautiful isle of Oahu faster than you can say Humuhumunukunukuapua'a - the state fish of Hawaii.

Aloha, Girls!  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Painting Doilies

I found six paper doilies stored with a crystal serving tray in my basement closet. I have finally decided to let the tray go, even though it was a wedding gift. It has held its place on the shelf collecting dust for too many years now to prove it is ever going to be used again.  Even crystal needs to be functional to be kept. At least in our humble abode.

It has now taken its place in our garage sale pile.  The crystal platter that is, not the entire humble abode.

The doilies had another fate. I looked at them and was taken back practically 30 years when I sat with my friend Sarah at her kitchen table sitting on their retro style wrap around corner bench.  As I remember the bench orange and yellow with black and white flowers, I think. Way cool. Groovy, even.  Sarah's mom gave us some paper doilies, water color paints and lots of time. We sat and painted each little curve and cut out pattern with careful detail.

Well, fast forward 30 years and we had doilies, bits of cracked water color paint and lots of time so I took the idea to the kids and set them up for a new art project.

It was a hit.

Here's some of the artwork we've been enjoying for the past week.

It doesn't take much paint to color a doily.  If you're tempted to throw out that crusty water color tray think again. It might buy a few minutes or several hours of art activity.

Gather the kids (the girls might like this one better than the boys), and watch them practice careful dexterity and just enjoy paining on a different medium.

Doilies come in all shapes and sizes. I imagine you can find them at the dollar store, a craft store like Michael's or a party supply store. I know Joann Fabrics sells them too.

See what you can create - maybe find some heart shaped ones for Valentine's Day, less than one month away!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Snack Break Made Easy

I seem to have the hungriest kids in the world. They wake up hungry, fix their own big lunch and extra snack for school, walk in the door from school acting as if they haven't eaten in weeks, they appear famished at dinner time, and they beg for a bedtime snack.  Growing does that to a person, I guess. 

My sister in law shared this snack idea with me months ago and I have implemented it in the last few months somewhat regularly.  It is my little way to bless the the kids in my life with food.  It has become more of the norm for them when they arrive home from a busy day of brain work that I have something like this all ready to go.

I simply fill six muffin cups with finger food. I go for healthy food, colorful food, and ones that are already in bite sized pieces. The key here is to provide a snack sized portion of a variety of foods that don't take much time to prepare.  I can do something like this in a few minutes.

The kids run in the door from school, grab a small plate, pick what they want, and munch.

Here's why I like this method of snacking for kids.
  1. Portion Control.  There is not an endless bag of chips here.  There is not a whole box of crackers here. It is set out for them and they can pick what they want in portions that are actually snack sized. I think it starts to train them to see what a snack portion should look like.  I admit that I sometimes hear, "That's it?!", when they sit to eat their snack.  I understand totally. When you are accustomed to a large bowl of one kind of food, it is a leap to look at a couple or three smaller pieces as an acceptable amount.  I tell them, "Trust me. This will satisfy you as a snack.  It's not a meal. It's meant to tide you over to dinner."
  2. Balance of Nutrition.  I don't fill every cup with a grain. I don't fill every cup with a sugar. I don't fill every cup with a protein. They start to learn how to put together a small plate of foods with different sources of nutrition. Think basic food groups.
  3. Variety of Choices.  This is close to #2, but somewhat different. I like that there really are choices here. If they pick four of the six, that's okay. That's four different foods they normally would not have eaten.  When a veggie is in one cup, guess what? It is chosen. It can't be chosen and eaten if its not there. I offer a variety so they eat a variety. I try to work in new foods so they have a chance to try them too.  I think choice for kids matters.  When they can pick and choose from good choices, they are more likely to be satisfied and willing to eat this way.
  4. Surprise Factor.  I would never have offered M&M's as a snack choice. We just don't have them around (because I would eat them from the grocery bag before they made it into the house).  However, as an extra special treat, I bought some just to fill one cup.  So, on a rare occasion, I think its okay to pop a surprise into their choices. Something they don't expect. Something fun.
  5. Cooperation.  I have three kids. One kid could take everything in one cup and walk away. But the other two would not let her get away with it. There is a natural cooperation among the three that happens when they know they are each taking from the same spread. They still get what they want, but they have an awareness of other hungry kids around who want a to eat as well.  It has worked beautifully with no intervention on my part to encourage sharing. It has just happened naturally. I simply set out the muffin tins and walk away.
  6. Fun Factor for Mom. I like preparing a snack this way. I am thinking more creatively about snacks. I am willing to try new foods myself. I also am held accountable to all of the above. I too need to be reminded about what is a snack size portion. I need to eat a variety of colorful healthy foods. It;s good for me to prepare their snacks this way.
My ideas so far for filling each cup:
  • cherry tomatoes
  • any vegetable (sugar snap peas, celery sticks, carrots, cucumber sticks, peppers - we eat them green, red, yellow and orange, almost daily.)
  • apple slices, clementine wedges
  • any kind of nut (we always have a big bag of almonds around)
  • cheese curds
  • rolled up ham or turkey
  • a Ranch dip or humus
  • dried fruit (we like cranberries)
  • Goldfish or other small cracker, pita chips, pretzels
  • any kind of berry
  • raisins
I'm still thinking of more and open to suggestions.

Snack time. It can be healthy and fun.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lucky Thirteen

He takes me up thousands of feet for views like this.

And 20 feet down into the sea.

He makes me laugh with his inventive ideas for products that only a cyclist enthusiast could love. And that may be stretching it.

He sits across me about twice a month as we attempt to beat our friends in 500.  He's okay with me not being so patient with him as he learns the game.  He's patient with my impatience.

He chases the garbage man down the street to personally hand him a tip for Christmas. In shorts and bare feet. Air temperature: 25 degrees.

He buys me the one and only real item on my Christmas wish list -  a Tramontina 6.5-Quart Cast-Iron Dutch Oven.

Then surprises me - my beloved kite is inside.  A bit frayed from its trauma last Fall, but still fly-able.  He retrieved it secretly and kept it hidden until last week.

He buys me good wine and truffles - just because.

He surprises me again at our annual anniversary breakfast with this - just because.  He swears the research shows it will serve me better than an iPad. And I trust him.
He calls up his buddies and works along side them on Saturdays to finish our bedroom space in the basement. He treats them to 12 year old Jameson whiskey so they come back to help with the next phase.

He attempts to solve Math problems and involves the kids when estimating how much concrete powder to purchase for above basement project. This is really something because he will tell you he married me for my Math genes. He has gifts in other areas, he says.

He gave me these three nuts to love for the rest of my life.

He chases down the peleton at least once, sometimes twice a day on his rollers, causing a pool of sweat to collect on the mat on the floor. He doesn't mind all the crap on the back porch that surrounds him. He knows how to focus on what's important.

He blogs, he texts, he tweets, but he still knows how to hand write a heartfelt card when it matters.

He's willing to work daily to pray together and talk about us. Not the kids, not the house, not the other stuff of life. Just us.

And 13 years ago today, he became mine.

 All mine.

 A deal's a deal, baby. I'm in this for life.

Happy Anniversary.