Monday, June 27, 2011

Mommyhood Hits the Beach

Today we are hittin' the beach.
I feel as though I've waited years to to dig my feet into the sand. 

To lay back and feel the sun on my face.

To watch my munchkins splash in the waves.
Our munchkins have kept us running from activity to activity since beach weather arrived.

I have been loggin hours serving up burgers and Hubby has been loggin hours as Mr. Mom.

It would be an understatement to say we are in need of a family vacation.
I'm blessed in many ways, one of which being my parents' beach house.  All summer long we have a house available to us, as long as we're willing to squeeze in on some occasions.  And we are. 

And so for the next several days we will be at the beach until noon and chillin' on the back deck until dinner. There will be card games and magazines scattered on the lawn chairs. We'll squeeze in a night at the boardwalk and an outing of mini golf.  I'll serve up big plates of nachos and Hubby will be crackin' beers.
 If I decide to stay you'll know where to find me.  Give the world my regards.
And if I can't figure out how to disappear and live incognito with the munchkins at the beach, I'll be back to Mommyhood before you ever knew I was missin'.

Mommyhood Footnote:  When Friday rolls around, we'll be joined by our fab family for 4th of July weekend.  Shenanigans will ensue.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Last Day of School

My munchkins have completed another year of school.

Excuse me while I grab the tissues.

Here they are on the first day of school this year:
 Here they are two weeks ago on Field Day:
The years go faster the older they get.  Entire weeks pass in the blink of an eye.

And before you know it your oldest is one school year away from middle school and your 5 year old is as tall as your 8 year old.

I remember moving here four years ago and waiting for the bus with my Sports Fanatic.  LLG was crazy as ever which required stroller restraint at all times.  Moopa didn't even exist.  My Gymnastics Queen hadn't even discovered gymnastics.

I had less wrinkles.
For my Sports Fanatic, this picture was his 1st day at a new school. 

I was nervous for him.  I hoped he would make friends before lunchtime rolled around.

My biggest concern that entire week was that he would have a friend to sit with in the cafeteria.  The new mortgage, bills and all unpacking needs ran a far second to the possibility he would sit alone in that cafeteria.

It kept me up at night.

And now four years have passed.  Another school year has come to a close.  And summer is upon us.

We're ready for lazy mornings and late nights in the yard.

Trips for ice cream and dinner on the patio.

Reading in the shade and swimming in the sun.

We're ready for two months of unstructured time with family and friends.

And as I wait for the bus to return home with my munchkins this morning, I'm hoping time will be considerate and slow down for the summer.

I'm not counting on it.

Mommyhood Footnote:  I'm sure you're wondering about my son's cafeteria experience on that first day of school four years ago.  I will forever be thankful to Raymond for befriending my little boy that day and sparing him the horror of lunching alone.

Mommyhood Footnote 1:2  I don't have to pack a lunch for approximately 74 days.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chocolate CHOCOLATE Chip Cookies

Warning:  DO NOT make these cookies unless you love chocolate

They are chocolate-y.

And if you underbake them just a tad, like I prefer to do, they are fully of gooey goodness.

If you do not underbake them, they have a "cake-like" consistency.

I feel it's a win-win.  I am not a fan of the crunchy cookie.  I know many who are, it just ain't my style.

Anyhow, I feel these are very well suited as an end of school year treat.  Or bake them and pack them to take to the beach.  Or on a car trip.

Or just bake them and set them on your counter.  And eat one every time you walk by.   And then hit the gym because it IS swimsuit season.  And chocolate has been known to stick to certain areas.

But one isn't gonna stick to anything.

So eat the largest one on the cooling rack. Share the rest, if you can find the strength.

1 cup salted butter, soft
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups chocolate chips
Optional add in: 1 cup chopped walnuts  
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees 

2.  In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take about 5-8 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix to incorporate. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. 

3. In a 1 gallon plastic food bag, place the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Seal the bag and massage the ingredients to combine. 

4. Add the flour and cocoa mix to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix together until the dough appears completely combined (approx 3 min). Add chocolate chips (and walnuts, if desired) and stir them into the dough. Drop by tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Or roll into balls, place about two inches apart on the sheet, and flatten slightly with your fingers. 

5. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will appear to be just barely firm.  I highly recommend underbaking just enough for the center to be a tad undone.  Let cookies sit and set on cookie sheet and extra 2 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

Eat one fresh and gooey. When cookies cool the gooey centers will become soft, chewy and heavenly.

Once cool, store in airtight containers.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Mommyhood Morning

Oh nellie.  This morning has sucked all the energy right from my bones.

There was refusal, let me rephrase, adamant refusal, to try chocolate milk.

My ten year old somehow has bones of steel courtesy of ice cream and grilled cheese.  I guess I should be grateful considering he gave up all other milk products 8 years ago.

Unforunately I can't say much because my example is poor.  My calcium requirements are met by ice cream, the occasional yogurt and gummy vitamins.

While debating the importance of milk I made a gruesome discovery.  There was a sopping wet hand towel in the bathroom.  The miraculous part of this story is that nothing else in the bathroom was wet.

My assumption is this towel was in the toilet.  But I had no confirmation of this from any of my munchkins.

They all looked at me like they'd never seen the towel before in their lives.

And in between all these happenings we had warp speed speech rehearsal.  Heavens forbid we're prepared for something. 

My Gymnastics Queen is giving a two minute speech this morning on "How to do Gymnastics".

She paced the kitchen reading her notecards.  Then she frantically ran to the bus whining that I needed to drop off her medals for her to wear.

All of her medals.

She has 23 of them from this season.  Wearing them all she will resemble a tiny Mr. "T".

At forty seven pounds I'm worried she'll fall over. 

Now the house is quiet.  And as I watch the Moopa repeatedly try to put on her shoes, I hear storms brewing in the distance.

The universe always understands.

Wishing you a debacle free Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Mommyhood First: Classic 10K

Just over a week ago I finished a 10K.
My goodness 7am does not look good on me.

Before the race I had never run more than 5 miles on the road.  I had never run more than 5 miles anywhere.  I didn't see the point in running more than 5 miles.

Someone please tell me what the point in running more than 5 miles is? 

All I've got is to show myself I can.

And I did.

10K preparations were fairly lame.  I squeezed in one 6.3 mile-er on the treadmill and continued with my four mile routes around town.  I held tight to the belief that since I can run 4 miles easily the adrenaline will carry me for the last 1.3.

And it did.

I ran this race with my fellow Mommy runners and a few super cool cats from work.

The camaraderie kept me training.  It kept me dedicated.

Every time I arrived at work to serve up French Dips the chef would ask how my run was that morning.  We compared times and pushed eachother to train.

For the record he kicked my arse in the 10K.

My Mommy running friends and I would discuss runs on facebook.  There were many attempts to get out and have dinner to discuss "race prep".

It helps to have fellow crazies in your life.  They keep you plowing forward even when you've decided there is no point to running more than 5 miles.  Because we own cars.  And bicycles.  And 5 miles certainly is enough to keep you in shape.

But 6.3 miles was a mountain to climb.  And I did.

For the first few miles, as I ran alongside one of my friends, I wondered why we were doing it.

My legs were tired.

We still had miles to go.

But as we ran those last two miles, I was so glad we were doing it.  And we weren't just running it, we were rockin' it.

The finish line brings such clarity. 
This summer I wish you the joy if accomplishing something new.  Something that really has no point other it makes you grow as a person.
Put something on your bucket list and go for it.
**Race Photos by Ken Shelton Photography**

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father

My Dad is a pirate.  In Jimmy Buffett's terms anyhow.

He's a pirate with a heart of gold.
In my life he has given me much, and loved me unconditionally.  There were no manly expectations for me.  No pressure to live up anything other than who I wanted to be.  

He's a simple guy.  He is laid back.  Chill.

There are days I call him every hour. 

And he answers every time.  If he misses the call, he calls me back.

He has given me countless pieces of advice which I hardly ever followed.

And he was always there to hug me when I learned my lesson from ignoring his golden advice.

He is a different bird.  He uses terms like "nipdoodlish" when something is cool and groovy. 

Without him I ran the risk of normalcy.  My dad has kept me dancing to the beat of a different drum. 

And for that beat, Dad, I thank you. 

Happy Father's Day!

Mommyhood Footnote:  My dad may have given me my "beat", but for the record my mother has kept me alive.  And for that mom, I thank you.

Mommyhood Footnote 1:2: Happy Father's Day to my partner in crime.  The man who holds down this fort when I am off serving Irish Breakfasts and French Dip Sandwiches. 

For the boys you set an example.  You are paving the way to "manhood".
And for the girls, you show them that tenderness my dad showed me. 
Together we balance eachother's craziness.

And I am forever thankful for you. 

Friday, June 17, 2011


Over the years my "thumb" has gone from black to a slight shade of green.  I am proud to announce that now approximately 60-70% of plants survive under my semi-watchful eye.

My parents have helped along the way, guiding me on plant care. 

Unfortunately I still kill many plants with my lack of watering and general gardening knowledge.  But I try.  And I'm slowly building some sort of landscape in our yard.
A few weeks ago, I made a trip to the Home Depot in the hopes of sprucing up the garden.  While selecting vegetables, I saw a Hibiscus.  This is one of my Dad's favorite plants. 

I imagined this lovely specimen gracing my deck.  I placed the flowering beauty in my cart and went on my merry way.

I returned home and re-potted my new Hibiscus.  I named her Florence.

She went straight to the sunny corner of my deck and she has resided there ever since.

When my dad first saw Florence he had a wavering confidence in my abilities to keep her alive.  And blooming.

I've been caring for Florence over a month, and she is thriving.  Flower production is at an all time high due to LLG's careful pruning.
I'm not holding my breath, but I think Florence will survive the summer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hungarian Shortbread



Melt in your mouth heaven.

These "biscuits" are sweet on the lips and go straight to the hips.


So I add a disclaimer that if you make these, you must promise aerobic activity. 

They are a tad time consuming, and you will need a food processor to grate the dough.  But the end result is worth the effort.

I made these for my Sports Fanatic's "Family Heritage Day" at school.  We needed a recipe from our heritage to prepare and bring in for the class to sample.  I went the complicated "make my like difficult and make Hungarian Shortbread" route. 

After I was finished I realized Irish Soda Bread would have been easy breezy.

But then I wouldn't be sharing these.

Hungarian Shortbread
(recipe from

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups jam of choice 
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add yolks and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Combine the flour mixture with the butter mixture only until ingredients are incorporated. Don't overmix. 

Divide dough in half, wrap each half in plastic and freeze for 45-60 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove one package of dough from the freezer and coarsely grate the dough in a food processor, or by hand with a box grater.  I used a blender with "grate" option.  This didn't work as well as a food processor but it worked well enough.  Turn dough into the bottom of 9x13 dish or jellyroll pan if you have one.

Push the dough gently so it gets into the corners and covers any bare spots, but don't overwork the dough.

Spread with jam of choice (or use several different kinds to equal 2 cups and, without mixing them, spread in bands across the dough) and then grate remaining piece of dough on top, distributing it evenly, pushing and pressing lightly so jam is covered.

Bake about 40 minutes center is just done.  Edges will be lightly browned.

Remove from oven and immediately dust heavily with confectioners' sugar. By dusting while hot, the sugar melts and creates a kind of glaze. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into squares or rectangles.

Store tightly covered.

After serving and enjoying, fulfill your promise and move your arse.  These stinkers have a pound of butter.

You don't want that pound sticking to your thighs for swimsuit season.

Happy baking, and exercising!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Field Day

This past Friday was Field Day for my munchkins.

I certainly hope every school in the United States recognizes Field Day.  I realize this most likely is not the case, but a Mom can dream.

Field Day should be a national holiday.  Every munchkin should awake with that excitement.  It is the Christmas morning of school days.

A truly miraculous event for elementary school kids.

It is a day to wake up and dress in your team color.

A day to hang with friends and exert all the extra energy that comes with "end of school year" anticipation. 

A day to bring your "A" game. 

Because you don't want your team to lose.

There are enthusiastic spectators.

And there is down time with friends.

The day is jam packed full of relay-race-Italian-ice-carnival-game fun.  The students and teachers flush the regular routine and enjoy themselves.

And even the tiniest of munchkins return home exhausted.

I'm wishing everyone a day like Field Day this summer.  Get outside and flush the regular routine.  The long sunny days and the warm laid back evenings are upon us.

Enjoy them! 

Happy Wednesday!

Jelly Muffins

I have a weakness for desserts with jam.

Truthfully I just have a weakness for desserts.  But there is something about a cookie, muffin or bread with jam.

Sign me up buttercup.

These muffins were an experiment.  I needed a muffin for the second grade class party, and I was curious to see how jam would take to living in a muffin.

And so I ditched my typical "add chocolate chips to everything because I love them" style and went with strawberry jam centers.  Which made using whole wheat flour seem reasonable.  And to really make them look healthy I sprinkled on oats.

And I was left with a fairly healthy breakfast muffin.  Served warm, slathered with butter to offset any health benefits, they are quite delish.

Mommyhood's Jelly Muffins
serves 12

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil (or applesauce)
1 egg
1 container jelly/jam, any flavor by teaspoonful

Heat oven to 400.  Grease muffin pan or line with paper cups. 

In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix well.  In a separate small bowl combine milk, oil and egg and blend well. 

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.  Batter will be thick and lumpy.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.  Add teaspoon jam to each muffin and cover with another spoonful batter.

If desired sprinkle on oats.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until center is cooked through.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

5 ? Friday

I have decided to return to my blogger roots for this week.  I am back in 5 ? Friday. 

It was a needed creative vacation. 

The one week away refreshed my brains and I am back to loafing around on Thursday nights.  No blog topic needed. 

Tonight I'm answering questions.  Enough said.

5 ? Friday (Join the Blog Hop here!)
1. How close to your childhood dreams is your life now?
I am living my childhood dream.  I wanted to be a Mommy.  To be married to a hot Hubby.  To make desserts and clean bathrooms.  

The sad thing here is I'm being serious.  Please don't judge me for what I'm about to admit.
I spent many hours in my childhood creating fake photo albums of my future "family".  I cut pictures of kids out of magazines like Sears and JC Penny.  
I named them.  
Gave them birthdays.  

Let me hide for a few moments because I basically just admitted to being a nutcase.

All craziness aside I did make some beautiful albums of people I didn't know.

But I do take such pride in being a Mommy.  Being a parent is the most important job anyone can have.  

We're not raising babies.  We're raising people.  

The world needs good, responsible people.

2. What is one must have item for the summer?
Loose summer sundress.  Dress it up with accessories or throw it on last minute.
It is comfy and it goes with flip flops, flats or heeled sandals.
Oh, and it hides belly bulge. 
3. Do you have your kids stay up on school stuff during summer vacation? (Or, if you don't have kiddos, did your parents make you keep up on school stuff during summer?)
Do good intentions count?

I am excellent every few weeks at throwing down the hammer and reserving time for reading and worksheets.

I then fall off the wagon.  

I repeat vicious cycle until school resumes in fall.

4. Do you can or freeze fresh produce?
Nope.  My freezer is reserved for ice cream and frozen waffles.

5. Do you get ready for the day first thing in the morning?

Yes.  I dress according to what is on the agenda.  I either shower and dress, or brush hair and teeth and toss on exercise apparel.  

Either way I need to make myself decent.  I can't risk random people at my front door like the guy who delivers our oil needing a signature.
I am not cute first thing in the morning.  

Ask Hubby.

Random picture time!! 
 My dad with our Thanksgiving Day Turkey.  

I'm pretty sure his shirt is an original.  Like him.  

Love my dad.  And so glad it is NOT Thanksgiving.  Bring on the summer!


Summer Birthdays: Easy Gift idea

Lately we've been hittin' up plenty of birthday parties.

Tis' the season. 

While at Target a few weeks ago I saw cute sand pails.  For $2.00. 

Surrounding the sand pails were sand toys, bubbles, water guns, super bouncy balls, frisbees and every other cheap piece of junk munchkins fancy.

These were all $1.00-$2.00 as well.

It was an aisle full of "stuff" that piles up on our decks and peppers the backyard.  An aisle that appears every spring that makes munchkins go wild. 

With munchkin excitement in mind I grabbed two sand pails.  I then loaded my cart with bubbles and bouncy balls.  I threw in disk shooters, bug collecting kits and silly string. 

And for $10-$12, I had impressive birthday gifts. 
To jazz them up I personalized each sand pail with paint markers.  If you don't have paint markers, I highly suggest investing in some soon.  They are excellent for personalizing homemade gifts and crafts.  They are worth every penny.

Once dry, I secured the gifts with cello.  Another Mommyhood favorite.  Cello could make a pail of paper shreddings classy.

Lastly, I went the extra mile and added sugar. 
It's all in the presentation. 

Gifts don't have to be expensive.  They have to be fun. 

For me these sand pails are lifesavers.  They are easy and versatile. 

For munchkins who are classmates, I don't have to break the bank. 

And for munchkins such as my nephew, a gift card or savings bond is easily attached or added. 

A bucket full of fun that will run its course and won't create any long term toy clutter. 

A Mommyhood win-win. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

American Girl: A Birthday Party Review

A few weeks ago, on a lovely Saturday in May, my little Gymnastics Queen was invited to a birthday party.

It was at American Girl.

In New York City.

Excitement ensued.  There were giggles of excitement from the gymnastics team as they opened the invitations after practice.

The logistics of getting my daughter there immediately starting playing out in my mind.

Until I read the invitation.  And it indicated there was bus to transport the girls. We just had to show up and hop on a bus.

Excitement ensued.  There were giggles of excitement from all the parents on the gymnastics team as we discussed how easy this made our lives.

The day of the party my Gymnastics Queen dressed herself and her American Girl doll, Julie.  We arrived just in time to load the bus to the city.

As usual, cool kids sat in the back.  This translates to parents sitting in the front.

We arrived in New York City and the girls unloaded the bus onto the sidewalk.  The sun was shining and they were wide eyed with excitement.
We had an hour to spare before our sitting in the "Daisy Room".  This enabled the girls to browse through the store.

I can spare you the suspense, this store does not disappoint.

While browsing, we stumbled upon the second floor hair salon.
Naturally we made an appointment for Julie to get her hair done after the party.  It's much like Disney World, when you are there spending money somehow makes sense.

Don't ask.

In case you are planning on visiting American Girl, you can't make hair appointments over the phone.  You must make them in person.  Therefore it would be wise to head immediately to hair salon when you go to the store.

After appointments were made, we went upstairs to the cafe.
The room is breathtaking.  If you book a party this is the room you will be dining in unless you book the Daisy Room. 

We were led to the Daisy Room.  The girls and their dolls took their seats.
If you are without an American Girl doll they will loan you one for the party. 

While these parties are pricey, I must say everything was exquisite.  The menu is personalized with child's name, and the food was delicious.
Certain items such a sodas are extra.

An appetizer platter with cinnamon rolls, cheese, vegetables and pretzel rolls is immediately served while everyone looks over the menu.  

There are plenty of menu options for children AND adults.  

Some examples of the food:

Mini hot dog and hamburger platter
Chicken fingers and fries (or side of mac n cheese)
Turkey wrap with side salad and tomato soup

After lunch we gathered around to sing to the birthday girl.  The cake is included in the price of the party.  And it was one of the most delicious ice cream cakes I have ever eaten. 
 Layered chocolate and vanilla cake with chocolate ice cream center.

The cake is cut and served to each party guest.  As I mentioned, this party does NOT disappoint.
After the meal, we headed back downstairs to the hair salon for our appointment.  My Gymnastics Queen selected a hairstyle and the transformation began.

Our doll went from this:
 To this:
All for the reasonable price of $20.00.  I should note I pay less for my real munchkins to get their cut, much less simply "styled".  But, as I mentioned, somehow when you are there this all makes sense.

Don't ask.

Our friend Sofia chose this style:
When making hair appointments you can also request ear piercing for an extra charge.

After the hair salon we had some time before the bus departed.  We walked the girls to Rockefeller Center and over to St. Patrick's Cathedral.  

When loading the bus the parents of the birthday girl handed out the American Girl goody bags.  These are included in the party.  Inside was a fleece blanket, tee shirt and play balloon for your American Girl.  

The ride home was considerably less loud.  This time we had several exhausted girls and dolls in the back of the bus. 

It was a full day in the city.  And an experience my little girl will never forget.  

For information on American Girl birthday parties visit their website: American Girl

*This is NOT a sponsored post*