Monday, August 25, 2014

My Baby is Moving On

 Today, this little guy graduates preschool.
With a lot more hair,
a pair of dimples that only come out when he gives his most charming grin,
and an awesome sense of humor.
He's pounds heavier,
feet taller,
knows a lot of big words
(and a couple naughty ones, bad momma),
is sweet and caring, 
and is super smart.
He's still my snuggler and loves to practice his charms on his momma first
(and yes, they work every time).
He is beyond excited to move on to kindergarten
and worked really hard to get ready for his graduation.
I have no doubt he will make me laugh and cry today
(probably both at the same time).
I'm glad he's ready - look out world, here he comes!

Friday, August 22, 2014

All Dogs Go to Heaven

RIP Apollo
October 2002 - August 18, 2014

On Monday we laid to rest our friend.  
Our guardian.  
A king.  
A giver of kisses and receiver of hugs and tears.  
A lion who defended his family.  
One of our first babies before our human babies.
A silly goof and cuddle buddy.  
The best babysitter.  
Our tears are not yet dried.  
We still look for him everywhere and listen for his ever-present panting.  
My children have never known life without him.  
His sister mourns him with us and has been sticking very close. 
 Her sweetness and snuggles help.
We know that he is at peace and healed.
Our daughter has said he is helping Peter guard the Golden Gates.
I have no doubt.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Farmers Market Friday

Here in Michigan, this is the best time to start hitting the farmers markets.  
Nearly every community has one and there is the widest array of ripe produce available at this time.  
On our recent trips we have scored golden beets (which we had never tried before), a variety of lettuce, red raspberries, honey, eggs, baked goods, rhubarb, blueberries, peaches, apples, tomatoes, cucumber, cabbage, carrots, a variety of squash, zucchini (regular and golden), several types of onions, potatoes, green beans, snap peas, and I'm sure I am forgetting some things.
 And then there are the crafters - my son really liked the little button people hanging on the display board.  Of course the blue one had to go home with us.  It has a pin on its back so you can wear him.
 I gave the kids the camera this time so they could snap pictures of whatever caught their eye while I made our purchases.  The owner of this booth was enthusiastic in providing tips on how to best prepare her products.
The booth owners are always well-prepared with extra bags, paper towel and bottled water for wrapping heat-sensitive produce.

What items are showing up at your local farmers market this summer?  Favorites?  Things you've never seen before?  I will confess - we were not fans of the beets - they definitely tasted like dirt.  Next time I will try the roasting method...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Trying to Re-Balance

Part II…click here for Part I

We spent this summer catching up on the fun things and re-balancing life.  
Sitting around the bonfire with good friends, new and old, 
and talking about our country lives and telling stories of our youths.  
A weekend at the cabin getting to know new friends better – 
with a dozen happy, dirty kids sifting through the sand for artifacts from the past, chasing fireflies, riding quads, nature hikes, 
chicken on the outdoor brick grill.  
Climbing sand hills in the trucks and having to pull one out.
Watching movies snuggled on the couch in the air conditioning 
on a hot lazy summer afternoon.  
Laughing at each other’s facial expressions as we zoom down the big hill on the roller coaster and overcome our fears on the water slides.

What an awesome gift each of these things.  
It is so easy to take each one for granted.  
But don’t.  
The choices we make should be conscious ones – 
don’t get sucked into “obligations” that aren't truly obligations 
instead of taking your daughter for a walk in the woods 
(you might have missed her excitement at finding that tiny fawn)
Sit still and really look around you 
(right here just for a minute - I promise the world won't fall apart).  
Breathe the air and reflect on where you time has been spent.  
Is your time and energy spent on the things it should be?  
Sure there are things you “have” to do.  
But are you spending all your time on those 
and are they really things you “have” to do?
Weed the garden because you love spending time outside, 
not to have the picture-perfect yard like your neighbor.  
Go for a run because you love to run, 
not because some schedule says you have to 
or so you can maintain that size zero 
when your little one is begging for someone to play with the Legos.  
(notice no picture of me running
Play hockey because you feel that thrill every time your foot hits the ice 
and the smile doesn't leave your face until you are too exhausted to smile anymore.  
Schedule your kids for sports because they love that sport 
and they can handle it the schedule – 
not because you are secretly comparing your kids 
and their activities to your best friend’s kid.  
Remodel the bathroom because it drives you nuts and you totally hate it 
not because  you feel pressure to switch to a new theme because that’s “what’s in”.  
Color your hair because it makes you feel like a million bucks 
not because your brother made fun of the handful of grays starting to show through. 
Blog because you love to write and share parts of yourself with others 
not to hit a certain number of followers...
Live life for you and yours – not anyone else’s.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Blog?

I have certainly been neglectful this summer.  
Life has come at a dizzying pace 
and I have been doing my best to just stay upright.  
And to work in a little fun when we have that moment to breathe.  
The kids stuck with us during a hectic (long, boring for them) summer of house renovations last summer so we finally delivered on our promise 
to take a family trip to Michigan’s Adventure 
(which was totally awesome and so much fun to have 
kids big enough to go on most of the rides).  
We’ve had some bonfires, trips to the cabin, holidays with friends, 
a little horseback riding, blueberry picking,
farm market Saturday mornings, a few little projects,
a lot of wood splitting, more hockey, and even some naps.  
And now is gearing up for school and hunting and all our favorite fall activities. 
My sweet baby boy starts kindergarten and is both excited and nervous.  
This will be the first time in a few years I have the first day off school so I can be there to start and end his big day.  His preschool is having a graduation in a couple of weeks and they have been busy with secret projects to make us parents cry. 
I know a slideshow is involved because I was asked if I had pictures from some of the school events I helped plan and I found some pictures of him with his 3 best friends who have been together since they were all babies 
(I have already sniffed a few times…). 
My beautiful daughter is starting to edge a little taller than me at 10 
(yes, I know I’m short…I’ve learned to be ok with it…
and how to climb on the cabinets to reach the top shelf…).  
Grandma took her to the salon for a haircut 
(one of those things they love to do together
and she chose to get bangs which she has not had for a long time.  
It’s like she blossomed into a teen overnight 
(well she’s had the teenager mood swings for a while now but…).  
She is excited to start school and wants to start band this year – 
and she has great musical talent and long graceful fingers perfect for playing an instrument and I know she will love it.
The weather has been wonderful for the hay, garden and perfectly timed for the things we wanted to do – and surprisingly not too bad for bugs. 
The goat has eaten my strawberry plants every time he has escaped 
but the garden is starting to bear gifts 
(can you see my little photo bomber?).  
The kids have had fun learning what we do with the items nature gives us – 
the morels carefully hunted in the woods, the zucchini from our lone plant, the little pickling cucumbers and purple beans coming a handful at a time, 

the herbs in our pots around the porch, the tomatoes which are just starting to ripen, the gifts of sweet corn and cabbage from our awesome neighbors.
We have had a chance to get a few projects done outside 
but have not done it with the fervor we attacked the inside of the house last summer.  
Instead we have chosen to take our lead feet off the gas a little 
and enjoy the simpler things in life – like smelling the roses.  
Stay tuned tomorrow for part II…

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Please Respect Veterans When Using Fireworks

While you celebrate this
photo credit: sunsurfr via photopin cc

Don't forget about this
photo credit: via photopin cc

Growing up, the pyrotechnics at our family gatherings were something we all looked forward to and there are many funny stories - well, funny because no one got really hurt.  Like the time we were sitting on the bed of the old farm truck watching from afar when the container launching bottle rockets fell over and shot them straight under the truck - never saw all us kids empty out of the truck so fast.  And the time one of those little spinner bee firecrackers took off and zipped right up great-grandma's leg and up her skirt...

Fast forward a few years.  Through my brother training with the local recruiters his senior year in high school, through boot camp, a deployment to Okinawa, 9/11, deployment to Kuwait to await the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, several months of combat during the launch of the ground assault in Iraq.

photo credit: TraumaAndDissociation via photopin cc

My brother was on his way back from Iraq on what happened to be the week of July 4th and was granted immediate leave instead of going through a decompression time on base.  Well-intentioned family and friends had planned a big gathering and even made a special trip for some of the "big" fireworks.  It was torture for him trying not to react and pretending to enjoy the display while secretly fighting the urge to hit the deck.  No one seemed to understand why the boy who always had loved fireworks was now a man who was trying to talk them into not doing them.  

From the sister of a combat veteran, please try to respect local veterans when shooting your fireworks this holiday.  Limit your fireworks to the 4th or let veterans who live near you know when you do plan on doing them so they can prepare themselves if they need to.

Wishing you all a very Happy 4th of July!
Remember Freedom Isn't Free!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Party Recipe Roundup

Are you still looking for goodies to impress your 4th of July crowd?  I've rounded up a few tasty recipes sure to be a hit whether you are feeding your own family, hosting a party or need a fabulous potluck dish.

Dip the rim in a mix of white sugar, red and blue decorator sugars!