Sunday, September 25, 2011

OMG mini second honeymoon!

I just spent what I believe was my first 24 hours without kids with my husband since we had kids.  No really...Lilia is 4 1/2...and it's the first time we left the kids for longer than a few hours.  It's truly a dumbfounding feeling.  I find myself thinking that there is NO way it could be that long.

It was also really nice.  We went back to the Poconos- where we had our honeymoon- and spent the day and evening and morning and afternoon...just the two of us.  Not only was it refreshing, but I'd have to describe it as healing and renewing.  The place we stayed- Paradise Stream- was nice.  We stayed in the "Diana's Oasis" suites, which had a shower for two, a heart shaped whirl pool tub, a king sized round bed, and a private indoor pool, all of which was enjoyed.

Seriously though...4 1/2 years.  I hope that doesn't mean we're going to go another 4 1/2 before we have another 24 hour vacation from the kids.  I don't think I could handle it.  I love my kids, really, I do.  But sometimes you just need a break.

Here I demonstrate how to use the hot tub...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Anniversary, My Love

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Today is our 10th anniversary.  I don't want to be cliche and say "I can't believe we've been married 10 years" because I can believe it.  It feels like forever, but in a good way.  Happily ever after way.  We've had ups and downs, but I'd say for the most part, John and I have been blessed with a happy marriage.  I think that's what happens when you marry your best friend.  Marriage becomes stupidly easy.  We talk, we laugh, we love.  Oh sure, every once in a while, I get stupid and make life difficult for both of us.  But the great thing about best friends is they are never afraid to slap some sense in you (not literally...) and work things out.
Since we got married, our love hasn't diminished.  It has only grown.  I think it has enveloped us, and our children, and when the world is harsh, it's definitely the warmest blanket I have.  You'd think after 10 years, we'd learn to do things apart.  We haven't.  We rarely do things apart, mainly because it's just no fun to go somewhere and only thing "John would love this." the whole time.  We love to do things together, and some of our hardest struggles has been the inability to do things alone- just the two of us.  We miss hockey games together, and going out for quiet dinners.  Now it's hockey games chasing the two kids, and dinner at Chuck E Cheese.

It's not always easy, and it's not always fun, but I wouldn't trade this for anything.  I love being married to my best friend- my other half, if not my better half.

Happy Anniversary, my love, my best friend, my soul mate.  I've loved these past 10 years, and look forward to the next 10 years.  Oh the adventures we are going to have.  I love you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Apple Goodness

I love Fall.  I love Apples.  I love the smell of Fall.  Cinnamon, cloves, Apples...nothing smells as wonderful.  Fall baking is probably my favorite time of year to bake.  Even more so than Christmas cookies.  Apple pies, Apple Crisp, Applesauce, Apple Cider and Apple Cider Donuts.  Oh my!

We went to Apple Fest at Fly Creak Cider Mill down near Cooperstown this weekend.  It's always a good time, though an expensive time.  Gourmet food is never cheap.  The kids like to go because there are ducks and chickens to feed (like we don't have our own chickens or anything...), a play area and there was bounce houses this time.  The bakery/restaurant is delicious. And you just can't go wrong with a few bottles of Apple Wine.

A Beautiful Ginger Gold Apple...*drool*
I normally don't buy apples there though.  They are SUPER expensive.  But they have free samples of just about everything (remember to get your free sample of fudge!) and I tried a slice of a ginger gold apple.  It was so delicious, I had to buy some.  Lilia is going through the applesauce I made a few weeks ago pretty fast, so I figured I could make some very taste applesauce at the very least.  Though now I'm eating an apple a day and if I don't make applesauce soon, there won't be any more apples left.  I suppose at the very least, I could whip up some apple butter.

I might just have to make another trip down there.  Of course, then John would get another chance to stop at the Ommegang Brewery, so I don't think he'd complain too much.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It's a Harvest Moon!

So many things were grown this year.  Tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, corn, pumpkins, carrots, peppers, strawberries, cabbage, potatoes, onions, shallots, basil, thyme, rosemary, roses, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, lilacs...but my favorites finally bloomed this week: Sunflowers.
I can't help but love Sunflowers!!
I thought I had planted them too late.  All around me it seemed like sunflowers bloomed a month again, and even a month ago, it seemed like mine were only 6 inches high.  I think it was right before Hurricane Irene hit, when I was preparing for it, that I noticed that my sunflowers had grown.  REALLY grown.  Quite a few of them were taller than my garage.  And they had heads!  I was so excited.

Super tall and Super Pretty!
They manage to survive the storm(s), and this week we've had sun.  So I was so happy when Liam and I went out today (despite the swarm of mosquitoes that attacked us) and saw most of them had opened.  They were so bright, and tall and pretty!  The only down side is that for some reason, a few of my sunflowers are facing the wrong direction.  They grew up above the garage, and for some reason...they are facing North.  Odd, right?  All the rest of them are facing South.

We are coming up to the end of my gardening season.  A part of me is sad, and a part of me is glad.  I definitely had a bunch of problems this year, most due to lack of experience.  Weeds were a huge problem, and I learned that next year I won't plant my zucchini near my summer squash, I won't plant my pumpkins near anything, and I will limit the number of tomato plants.  I will probably avoid the tomato cherries again- holy moly those things just overtook my entire garden.  I couldn't keep up, and it seemed far too many ended up being waste.  Next year I am definitely going to double my garden size, and space things out better.  And next year maybe I'll brave herbs.  And I know this season isn't even over yet, and I am already looking forward to next year's harvest.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Yummy Monday!

The kids wanted pancakes the other day, and I wanted something different.  When we lived in Buffalo, we used to go to the Original Pancake House and I'd get the Dutch Apple Pancake with cinnamon drizzle.  It was so delicious.

So I decided to make my own.  I found the recipe at Epicurious, but changed it up a little, because I wanted to reduce the sugar, and use whole wheat.
Apples cooking in the melted butter...are you drooling?

  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 apples cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar (I used splenda brown sugar)
  • 1/2 TB ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in large bowl until well blended. Add flour and baking powder and whisk until batter is smooth. Place butter in 13x9-inch glass baking dish. Place dish in oven until butter melts, about 5 minutes. Remove dish from oven. Place apple slices in overlapping rows atop melted butter in baking dish. Return to oven and bake until apples begin to soften slightly and butter is bubbling and beginning to brown around edges of dish, about 10 minutes.
The finished stuff!
Pour batter over apples in dish and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake pancake until puffed and brown, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warm.  It makes 4 servings.

Totally easy!  Because there's less sugar, it's not as sweet, but you still don't need syrup because of the apples and cinnamon.  It was really light and fluffy, although it loses puff fast once you cut into it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years ago

It was about a month into the semester for me.  Life still seemed chaotic.  John and I had just moved to Buffalo in August.  Classes started, and our wedding was 10 days away.  I woke up that morning, tosses on my clothes, and had John drop me off at UB.  It was just a few minutes after 9.  I don't remember if we were listening to NPR or Sports radio in the car.  I was sleepy, so I wasn't really listening.

I got out of the car, and headed to class, oblivious.  When I got to class, a few people were looking concerned, so I sat down, and listened.  Rumors of planes hitting NYC were floating around, and I was really confused.  It wasn't until the professor came in and confirmed.  There was an attack in NYC.  Now you'd think that would be enough to cancel class, but no...this was Interventions I, and important to the School of Social Work, and the professor insisted there was nothing we could do.  Class would go on.  Some of my class mates were from NYC. They left.

I sat in a daze, still confused.  I had never really been to NYC, except to fly out of it.  The class was 3 hours long, and we usually took two 10 minute breaks.  Our first break came, and most of the students rushed out to find our missing classmates.  That's when we all learned the towers had fallen.  I was still in a daze.  No access to a TV, or even a radio (and I think I lacked a cell phone at the time), I could just listen to everyone else.  All I could think about was Towers toppling over like blocks, and all I could ask myself was 'What the **** was going on?'.

The professor excused the students from NYC, so they could go and call home.  The rest of us, she kept, stating earlier sentiments- there was nothing we could do, classes should go on.  As you can imagine, that didn't go too well.  Some of the students were angry with her, tapping things loudly, glaring.  One or two students started bawling, and finally...she let us go.

No phone, and no way to get a hold of John, I wandered the campus.  I ended up near the Undergraduate Library, where a crowd had gathered inside and out.  There were TV's, though no sound.  With many other students, I watched in horror as they replayed over and over the planes hitting the towers, and finally, the towers fallings.  I remember crying, and looking around at the other students, a mix of almost every ethnicity.  I don't think any of us could look away from the TV.  Someone informed us that UB was canceling the rest of classes for the day, someone said something about fearing other attacks.  I waited for John, and have to admit the relief I felt at seeing our car pull in.

It wasn't until I got in the car that I remember our wedding was in 10 days.  We got our marriage certificate one day earlier.  It seems silly that it would come to mind then- and I remember feeling guilt for feeling nervous about our plans when people were dead and dying.  My Maid of Honor, and my priest were both out of town, so a part of me got panicked when flights were cancelled.  I remember coming up with contingency plans in case Father Paul couldn't make it.

To this day, I can't watch any of the footage from 9/11.  I refuse- it's all too much, and I don't ever want to be desensitized.  I watched it all day that day, but eventually made myself turn it off.  Eventually classes resumed, and we got word that flights would resume.  My Maid of Honor was coming from Canada, and I wouldn't have to smuggle her into the country.  We got married without any problems (at least 9/11 problems) and went on a honeymoon to the Poconos the following week.  We met NYC couples that had their weddings canceled, or they changed their plans and got married in a county that hadn't closed it's doors.  It was all sort of surreal.  It still seems surreal, after all these years.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lunch time!

Tomorrow is Lilia's first day at Preschool for 4 year olds.  She is very excited, although I think a tad nervous because we told her she'd be eating lunch at school.  Last year she came home for lunch, as she only attended preschool in the morning.
Cute Hello Kitty lunch bag...So perfect!
So I have the very fun job of making her lunch.  I'm sort of excited, since I really love doing bento- boxed lunches- but don't get to do it often as someone who stays home.  I decided to go simple, as I'm not quite sure what Lilia will eat.  At home she tends to enjoy mac and cheese or bread and butter.  She asked for peanut butter and jelly (Mommy's home made strawberry jelly), which I hope is okay at the school.
I totally want to eat this myself!
Wanting to go a little cute, I used a sandwich cutter which cuts off the crust (I know, I know...) and cut the sandwich into 2 dolphins and a heart.  I have to admit to thinking it was totally adorable.  I threw in some carrots and some cheese, and a tiny container of ranch dressing.  In one small container, I put in some Kiwi Applesauce I made the other day.  In the bigger round container, I put in some strawberries and grapes, along with dispenser of granola.  It's all sitting on a cloth napkin, thrown in there for good measure.

So tomorrow's lunch is ready.  I hope she'll eat it, and that she will be happy eating it, instead of upset that she isn't eating at home.  I highly doubt she'll be upset.  I think she's going to have so much fun being back at school.  
All packed, and ready to go!




Sunday, September 4, 2011

I don't do windows.

For the first time all summer, I cleaned my windows.  I know, I know...gross.  But my kids touch the windows far too often, and it feeds off my laziness.  Trust me...cleaning my windows isn't worth the 5 seconds they remain clean.  Lilia smudged the window almost as soon as I stopped washing it.  Insert facepalm here.

But one of the kids decided to decorate the window with alphabet stickers, so I really had no choice.  Smudgy windows? No one really notices.  Alphabet stickers and polka dot stickers?  Yep, just a tad more noticeable.  I ran out of window cleaner, and kept forgetting to buy more.  So I made my own.  And it worked awesomely.

Ready?

2 Cups water
1 Cup vinegar
1 TB dish soap

Mix in a spray bottle...shoot.  Wipe away with cloth or even better, newspaper.  No streaks.  Looks great.  That simple!  Did I mention I eyeballed these ingredients?

Have fun cleaning windows and mirrors!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Super Mom to the rescue.

Liam is my all boy.  He's a mama's boy- my special little guy.  And I'm pretty mean mama, because I'm going to share this story.
Graphic representation of Liam

We were in the car, leaving Barnes and Nobles.  Using his foot, he somehow managed to hit the switch of the window and bring it down.  It startled him, but for some reason, when his dad raised it, it scared the poor kid.  If he hadn't been in his car seat harness, I am positive he would've been hanging from the top of the car roof.  Poor kid, he was that terrified.

Now, I'm not mean enough to laugh at him (only after.)  I was reassuring him from the front seat, rubbing his leg, telling him he was ok.  He was so upset that he wouldn't even look at the window.  I don't know why this scares him so.  He's always been a little iffy when it came to the car window.  But I have never seen that sort of reaction.
Bowser saved the day

I managed to get him to laugh by taking a toy dinosaur that happen to be in the car at the time and having it attack me.  It would bite my nose, so I'd have to yell "Bad Bowser!  No Bite!"  It's name is Bowser, even though it doesn't look like THE Bowser.  Thank goodness it was in the car, I had no clue how else to cheer the poor kiddo up.

Lesson learned.  Lock the power windows.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Oh Hey!

It's September!  How did that happen?

Well, I've got less than a week before Lilia heads back to school, and then life will seem a bit normal again.  Trying to do anything over the summer seemed impossible this year.  While we got some work on the house done, it was mostly a time for relaxing, traveling and being outside.

We've been here a year, can you believe it?  For the most part, the house looks different.  The basement has been turned into a giant toy room, and laundry room. It's even close to being organized.  The kids go down there daily to play, and to watch us play old video games.  Yes, my 2 and 4 year old LOVE Mario and Zelda.

Both kids rooms were painted, our room was painted, and the living room got painted.  Shelves were put up, and my front porch is slowly becoming an organized mud room.  The only room left to do, before we start considering major renovations to places like the kitchen and bathroom (I really really really want new tile.) is the dining room, which needs a coat of paint.

With my head out of the clouds, I'm hoping to be able to focus on updating here a little more.  I should get someone to poke me more often.