Friday, May 31, 2013


Is it summer yet, Mom?

Noah has been asking me this for weeks now.  Months even.  A few weeks ago, a tad exasperated, I told him no and asked him why he was so concerned about when it was summer.

Because then the Spray Park will be open again!

Duh on my part, I suppose.  After Labor Day, when the park closed for the season, I told him that Memorial Day was the official start of summer according to the park system and that's when they would open the spray park back up.  The kiddo remembered and has been waiting anxiously for summer to finally get here.  (Me too, but for different reasons - warmth mainly!)

I have to admit that the spray park is pretty cool.  Heritage Park, which is where we also go sledding and where we had our pizza dinner a few weeks ago has a great set-up.  It's a big open area with tons of water fun.  We were supposed to go with MOPS to the zoo today, but that fell through so I wanted to do something with the kids that I knew they'd enjoy instead.  Obviously, from my opening comments, they've been waiting for this one for awhile.  Now that it is open again I have a feeling we're going to be spending quite a bit of time at the spray park.  We managed to dodge the afternoon thunderstorms and get a good hour and a half of water fun in today before I insisted my pruny kiddos come home for lunch.

In other news, Happy National Macaroon Day.  Or Mak-ur-ew-knees as Mikayla was calling them.  I opted to make coconut macaroons which are different than the more traditional French ones that might come to mind.  (Think those very boldly colored sandwich cookies - those are French Macaroons)  The results were adored by everyone here.  Noah kept saying "they smell like my polar bear cake" which just made me giggle.  The things we connect sometimes.  These were really easy, I'd definitely do them again considering everyone here enjoyed them.

House cleaning, Home Depot build, perhaps a movie and Hazelnut cake tomorrow.  Then to the 'Mont on Sunday for Scott's graduation.  That's right, I'm feeling super old just thinking about the fact that my baby brother (and yes, Scott, you'll always be the baby - I was there when you were born) is graduating high school.  Can't wait!  Until then...

Think they were ready to go??

 And they're off

 Kayla taking a break - she sat with me and got a back and foot rub :)

 Warming up for a few minutes

Coconut Macaroons

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Well I Nev-ah!

Do you sense the air of Southern hospitality lurking today?  Must be because it's National Mint Julep Day :)  My thoughts have been coming across with a strong southern drawl all day and I have the strange desire to watch a horse race.  I did make non-alcoholic mint juleps today so everyone could partake and I think the kids favorite part was eating the mint sprig I garnished the glasses with.  Some days, I tell ya.

The highlight of the day for the kids and I was our annual trek to the paint your own pottery place to make Grant's Father's Day gift.  Every year since Kayla was born (we did her feet the first year!) we've painted a coffee mug for Grant.  As the calendar keeps reminding me Father's Day will be here before we know it and the pottery takes a week to fire after we actually paint it, I knew we'd have to get on it here soon.  I took them back to the same place we went last year and we had a blast.  It was so much fun to just let them go to town on it by themselves.  I was in charge of dispensing paint, but otherwise they were on their own.  They each painted half of the mug and I can't wait to pick up the finished project next week.

Almost as much fun was our trip there and back.  We love heading towards downtown (the pottery place is in downtown Royal Oak) on 696 and going through the 'tunnels'.  It made me think of when I was little and you actually had to go to the underground tunnels to get to the zoo.  Or when you drive through all the tunnels in downtown Chicago.  We made appropriate sound effects and they asked if we could get off, turn around and do it again.  I told them we'd have to go back next week to pick up the pottery, so we'd do it again soon.

I just got home from the Dads and Dogs event for the PTA at Beechview.  The flow of people seemed steady for the hour and a half I was there so hopefully the PTA will have raised a good bit of money.

Macroons tomorrow.  And hopefully the Spray Park for the first trip of the season if the weather co-operates.  Until then...

I finished the other project I was working on for Noah's room - a hide-out for him too!  It's hard to see but the fabric is actually flames :)

 They were snacking and hiding from me this morning

 Ready to paint

 All finished, ready for the kiln

Mint Julep

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Apple Jack of A Day

When the kids were little I feared days where we did not leave the house.  (OK, in reality this might have been last week that I still feared this, but humor me)  I thought it was necessary to have some plan of action for every single second of every single day.  And while I don't think I'll ever really 'get over' my need for a plan of some kind and organization I'd like to think that I've relaxed considerably on this front.

Take today for example.  I knew at some point we wanted to do Kid Kitchen but really didn't have any other thoughts on the day.  Because of that we had a Hide and Seek Marathon after breakfast, a walk in the glorious sunshine complete with bubbles(!), two great Kid Kitchen creations, a pillow fight and a chill lunch of popcorn, string cheese, jello with fruit and Sesame Street as a treat.  It was awesome!  As a bonus I got the laundry done, we had no fights all day and I made the most delicious Coq Au Vin Blanc while two very exhausted kiddos napped.  We even got a bike ride for Noah in after dinner (he'd been asking all day), he and I took a quick trip to Target to get plastic sleeves and a binder for his baseball cards and now we're all munching on our Kid Kitchen creations and watching the Tigers take on the Pirates (Mikayla is signing "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything Song" every time they say 'pirate' on TV...)

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves about our Kid Kitchen creation, but it was a salute to Apple Jacks today.  The kids claim (though this changes on a weekly basis) that this is their favorite cereal so I found a couple of fun recipes to use them in.

Happy National Coq Au Vin Day!  I finally got to try my hand at the classic French dish and it turned out fabulous!  My house still smells wonderful.  Noah said it was the best chicken he'd ever had and Grant said it was a definite make again.  Excellent!

Speaking of excellent, I think that God is continuing to subtly (or perhaps it is Him bopping me across the head with it and I only see it as subtle, lol) nudging me to expand my kid culinary time.  Noah got a great note from his Pre-School teacher assistant thanking him for the gifts he gave her at graduation.  In the note, she included a note to me saying that she really thought I should consider opening a camp or class for kids teaching them about cooking because she was so impressed with Noah's enthusiasm and skills.  She said she even wanted to come that it sounded like so much fun!  OK, so someone that works with my target age group for a living is encouraging me, perhaps this is worth another look.  Prayers for guidance would be much appreciated.

Art project out of the house tomorrow (shhh, it's a secret!) and Mint Juleps!  Plus Dads and Dogs to support the Beechview PTA - my first official act as a Board Member!  Until then...

Ready for Kid Kitchen

 We had to make popcorn for one recipe - they both LOVED this

 Proud of their popcorn

 Crushing the Apple Jacks

 Noah and his mixer skills

 Ready to stir up the cookies

 Loading them in the oven

 Apple Jack cookies

 Stirring up the mix for the Caramel Apple Cereal Mix

 Stirring the caramel sauce (we even made up a song about not stopping stirring!) 

 Candy Apple Cereal Mix

 Coq Au Vin Blanc

A shoe tying lesson

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bring on Summer and some Brisket!

We officially made it through our first day of summer vacation.  And of course, it has rained here allllll day.  On the upside, we've had a pretty fabulous day.

It took me 'til almost 9:30 this morning to convince Mikayla to get out of her new 'tent' and come and eat breakfast.  Think she likes it?  And I'm happy to report a good first night's sleep for the big boy as well.  He claims that it was the best he's ever slept.  The rest of the day I had troubles actually keeping out of their rooms.  Noah was asking at 10am if it was time for a nap yet.  After we played with playdoh for quite some time this morning they both insisted on getting some books, a snack and heading off to their new spaces while I jumped in the shower quickly.  I could get used to this them entertaining themselves thing ;-)

This afternoon we did a little bit of an art project.  I traced each of them (their entire body) and then they got to color self-portraits.  Noah especially did a stellar job - his "Noah" had clothes on and his stuffed animal Baby Penguin (which he traced himself) is also in his picture.  I hung the huge pieces of art on their bedroom doors and I think we'll do it again at the end of summer a a comparison.

Oh, before I forget, I didn't mention yesterday that as well as Grape Popsicles, yesterday was also National Hamburger or Cheeseburger Day.  Guess it slipped my mind because we did celebrate but my Dad did an awesome job grilling so I didn't do the creating.

Today, though is National Brisket Day.  Let me tell you what a heck of a time I had actually finding brisket.  First, in case you're wondering brisket is a cut of meat from the pectoral muscles.  Cows do not actually have collar bones so these muscles end up supporting 60% of a cows weight, which is why it is such a tough cut of meat.  Now you know :)  Anyway, I found plenty of corned beef brisket, but not any plain beef brisket, which is what I was looking for.  After numerous stores (thanks to Grant for putting up with me over the weekend with trips to probably half a dozen grocery stores) I finally stumbled across a pre-cooked brisket in Fremont yesterday when we stopped to pick up the popsicles.  I was done struggling to find something, so threw in the towel and called it a day.  It went over fairly well here, but I don't think I'll be running right out and making it again.  From my research I've learned there's quite the art to actually preparing this to its optimum yum factor.  I think I'll leave it to the pros from here on out.

We're taking on Kid Kitchen tomorrow (believe it or not we couldn't today because I was completely out of eggs, sugar and flour...) with a salute to Apple Jacks.  Until then...

Art project time!

 Beef Brisket with honey butter biscuits and warm dijon potato salad (there was apricot jello with strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and watermelon, too ;-) )

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day!  Hope that you had as wonderful of a day celebrating as we did.  First off, thank you to all who have served our country to make it possible to celebrate today.  We truly live in a blessed nation.

I'm going to refrain from doing much babbling tonight as I need to pull out my food list and see what this week's menu is to include.  You'll see in the pictures how Grant and I spent our morning, then we headed to the 'Mont for a fabulous BBQ with the family.  Hats off to my Mom (and Dad for his BBQ skills) for some really yummy side salads to go with the meal tonight.  It was good to hang out for a bit with everyone, we even got to talk to Sar :)

The kids had a BLAST with Shell and Dudley - they won 800 tickets at Chuck E. Cheese and were there for five hours!  They took 2 baths in Aunt Shell's amazing tub, the got donuts, they had slurpees, they saw Grandma and Papa, they built legos, they played with the hot potato water ballon toy, Kayla got her nails done, they watched Alice in Wonderland, I feel like I'm missing something.  Honestly, I'm not sure how Shell and Dudley are functioning today!  Many thanks to them both :)

And don't worry, we didn't forget - Happy National Grape Popsicle Day.  Though I didn't get any pictures, I promise I took a box of popsicles (that included grape ones) to dinner tonight and we managed to polish off the whole box.  (I had a tangerine one, they were super yummy)

Bummed that the Wings just lost but at least the Tigers won today!  Brisket (and my ridiculous search for it) tomorrow and our first day of summer vacation.  Until then...

I re-purposed the Pack and Play for Kayla - she now has her very own 'hang-out' in her room!

 So delighted with how this turned out

 And we have big kid bed!

 On the way home from Fremont - do you think she had a good time?

 She had to check out her new tent when we got home - to avoid the meltdown that was brewing, we even told her she could sleep in it tonight

 Noah's reaction to his new bed

Getting tucked in for the first night in the big bed

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kid Free Sunday

This morning we drove the kiddos into Sylvania for the day with Shell and Dudley.  Mikayla screeched "CHUCK E CHEESE!" as we pulled into the parking lot so I can only imagine the chaos that filled today.  God Bless Shell and Dudley ;-)  I have yet to receive a frantic phone call about what one or the other did or didn't do and being the smart Mom that I am, I'm not calling to find out how things are going.  I am sure they are having quite the adventure.

As did Grant and I today.  After dropping off the kiddos we went across the street to Anderson's to see if we could find some flowers for the front yard.  Since the temperatures have been bouncing all over the place I have been hesitant to purchase any flowers.  Plus I don't want to do a whole bunch as my eventual hope for the front is to get some ornamental trees out there to fill in all the blank space.  After I ripped out all those super ugly bushes last year, that's what I wanted to do, but one thing after another came up and we didn't get to it.   Plus, Mom says that the best time to plant trees is in the fall, so I'm going to wait 'til then.  But we did need some baskets for my shepherd's hook and we wanted to get or make a couple of planters for in front of the garage and on the porch and I wanted to add half a dozen or so 'pops' of color flowers to out front.

Crazy success was had at Anderson's.  We got some truly beautiful mini purple petunia hanging baskets, some really neat mixed flower/shrub planters for in front of the garage, a nice mix of purple/pink petunias in a planter for the front porch, a lovely purple dahlia, two gorgeous red-orange zinnias, a dark pink lily and an yellow with dark red striped lily (my favorites!).  I managed to get everything planted this afternoon and given a significant drink so at least I now don't feel like we have the most neglected house on the block.

After we got back from Anderson's and dropped off the flowers we headed back out to Ikea to get Noah's bed.  As I type it is 3/4 of the way assembled!  In a bit there is discussion of some ice cream and a movie and I'm working on a project to re-use our old pack-n-play in a cool new way for Kayla.  Yay for awesome days with just the hubster!

It's also National Blueberry Cheesecake Day and National Cherry Dessert Day.  I honestly forgot about the cherry dessert thing until like 10 last night, but managed to put together a tasty cherry vanilla cobbler bread before officially running out of eggs, flour and sugar at my house.  (whoops!) Then today I made a blueberry cheesecake trifle to take with us to the BBQ in Fremont tomorrow. Celebrations covered.

I'll post pictures of the new bed and our BBQ fun-ness tomorrow night.  Oh and fill you in on the kids overnight with the aunt and uncle :)  Until then...

Cherry Vanilla Cobbler Bread

 How to make one Kristi exceedingly happy

 Berry Cheesecake Trifle

This is all melding together in my fridge and I seriously want to just dig into it with a spoon