Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. OK, we're the next couple to get sucked into Homeland.

2. Hearing Fisher pray for "the children" at bedtime stirs my heart.

3. Seeing the flag at half-mast when I pull up to Alla's school makes me want to keep driving.

4. Three more days of school for her and then a much needed holiday break.

5. Christmas is a week from today. Wow. It's there, on the horizon, and then it's running full speed at you.

6. Getting run days in with cold weather, darkness, and few mornings on my own has meant, well, not much running. Unfortunately, the weatherman predicts a cold next few weeks.

7. Made Deb Perelman's Black Bean Ragout for dinner - Smitten Kitchen was a winner all around.

8. Paul McCartney might want to hear Fisher's version of his "Simply having a wonderful Christmas time" jingle, which goes something like this: "Saving, adding, welcome Christmas time!"

9. Tomorrow I get to join Fisher for part of the morning at school to make a gingerbread house - he has no idea what this means but is very excited.

10. Nothing matches his excitement, however, about the C-130. I can't explain it, he's just obsessed with this plane and doesn't really understand why most people don't know as much as he does about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Hello, December. I can't believe you're one-third through.

2. What we're looking forward to this weekend are the ice rinks opening. We saw the water truck ("Gusher," as Fisher fondly calls him) flooding at the park this morning and you'd have thought we were watching Mickey Mouse or something.

3. You'd have also thought that my son actually knows how to skate. He's got his skates and he's ready, and I'm pretty sure he thinks he'll just take off. Let's hope the reality is pretty close to that.

4. At my dental visit today I was placed in the cavity-free club - yay for me!

5. Did you hear we got over a foot of snow on Sunday? Some reports say 11 inches, some up to 16. Our deck measured, very officially of course, fifteen. That is a LOT of snow, even by Minnesota standards.

6. The kids cannot get enough of it. Snow is great - I mean if it's going to be cold, you might as well have something to do while you're outside in it. Who wants to stand around in the frozen brown tundra? I'd much rather roll around in powdery white snow, dig forts, throw snowballs, and otherwise enjoy the white that is everywhere.

7. We finished watching the last season of Dexter that is on Netflix, and oh happy day, are finally getting disk one  of Homeland. I hope it lives up to all the hype, as my husband has been waiting since the Emmys for this!

8. I love Christmas music, and it is pretty much our December playlist around here, but I don't tend to add to it, meaning I don't need Barry Manilow's latest Christmas tunes. There are few artists who can do justice to the classics, and I certainly don't need any new Christmas songs. Last year, however, I picked up the Indigo Girls Christmas CD and it has been in regular rotation. It is wonderful and refreshing, and does contain quite a few "new" songs!

9. I am still going to say that I'm "loosely" re-reading The Passage, as I'm still only about 130 pages in.

10. I am in that part of the holiday season where the shopping is done, the cards are nearly on their way, and all that's left to do is a ton of wrapping, so now it seems the wait for Christmas morning is almost as hard for me as it is for the kids! Two weeks!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.Wednesday.Thursday.

1. This is the Ten on Tuesday that began on Sunday, wasn't thought about again until Wednesday, and is being completed on Thursday.

2. Thanksgiving was a smashing success here, and I am defining success by the fact that every recipe new and old was a keeper and will be repeated for next year. I have now assembled my Thanksgiving section in our family recipe book, complete with grocery list and step by step directions. I've been cooking Thanksgiving dinner since 1999 and I can truly say that it's taken this long to streamline the process.

3. Perhaps a better definition of success is when your kids eat Thanksgiving dinner and, for the first time ever, eat leftovers and like it!

4. Ron is teaching the kids to play Chess, and like War and Battleship and Spot It and any other game I can't think of at the moment, Fisher has Chess on the brain and is asking to play it just as soon as Daddy's headlights are spotted in the driveway every evening.

5. Not to be left out, Alla is catching on very quickly as well and was instrumental in teaching ME.

6. I am nearly obsessed with chocolate covered raisins.

7. I am so very glad for the extra week of holiday season/Christmas prep this year, but holy jeez December is still just about here!

8. There are about 48 things on each of my 59 to-do lists. Consequently, my fun reading has fallen by the wayside. I will, however, loosely say that I am re-reading The Passage in order to move on to The Twelve.

9. At least the kids and I are in the midst of a fun read - The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles.

10. Is it possible that four year old boys are littler than four year old girls?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012.

I didn't take too many pictures on Thanksgiving; it's one of those holidays where things get busy and really I've cooked enough turkeys that it's not necessary for me to have a picture of each one. Plus it was amazingly warm in the days leading up to the holiday so we spent a good deal of time outside soaking up our last bits of vitamin D.

The few I did take tell our Thanksgiving story, though. Kids making placecards and other art with their four and seven year old hands.
Creating truly wonderful ten-dollar gluten-free stuffing by painstakingly buttering both sides of the bread.

And my favorite, a note written to me by Alla on Tuesday when the cooking began, and which gladdened my heart through the next days of mixing and measuring and basting. We are so full here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. It's Election Day! Go vote. At one point in history, no one in our family of four would have been allowed to vote. Now, at least two of us are, and the other two will be allowed when they've come of age.

2. As this is my seventh fall in Minnesota, I've decided that the SweeTango is my favorite apple variety. Sadly, they have a short season and are now gone from the stores til next year.

3. On Sunday evening I served roasted carrots with our roasted chicken, and Fisher quickly decided he did not like "toasted carrots." With very few exceptions, my children prefer their vegetables raw.

4. We have been wanting some new sheets for awhile, and by "awhile" I do mean a few years, since I had to retire a set due to actual holes. Trouble is, I'm very picky about sheets and have to feel them in person. Since winter is approaching, I thought we'd get some more wintery sheets, and came across these microloft ones on the Bed Bath and Beyond website. Of course I had to feel them in person, and was skeptical, because they basically felt like a fleece blanket. The cashier, however, reassured me that I could return them for any reason. So I washed them, dried them (they take hours on low heat), and then had the best sleep ever. They are the warmest, coziest, softest sheets, without being at all stifling. Best sheets ever.

5. Another product recommendation: St. Ives Naturally Smooth Hand Cream.

6. Is there room here for another one: Blistex Moisture Melt. Love this stuff, a great cheap addition to your purse or your nightstand. Very moisturizing, stays on for several hours. OK, that's all the product I am recommending for today.

7. I am completely over fall weather. Once you get past the colorful leaves, the falling leaves, the fallen leaves, the leaf jumping, and the raking, all you are left with is a dreary gray sky that puts a chill in your bones. I'll take a big pile of snow to give me and the boy something to do.

8. Speaking of cold, got a favorite soup recipe? I could use a new few.

9. For our Election Day dinner, we had Sloppy Joe's, an old throwback kind of dinner that my parents lovingly nicknamed "Sloppy Jennifer Jo's" when I was a kid. Both kids gobbled up their dinner, which always fills my bucket.

10. Something else reminiscent of childhood these days: dog-earing all of the Christmas catalogs that come in the mail.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Halloween 2012.

We had a Ninja and a firefighter (again! yay, budget-conscious children - right!) this year for Halloween, and it was perhaps the best Trick or Treat ever.

Reason no. 1: My mom here to pass out candy again.
Reason no. 2: The four of us got to trick or treat together, which was super fun.
Reason no. 3: It was relatively mild, weather-speaking.
Reason no. 4: However mild it was for us grown-ups, Ninja costumes are apparently not that arm, so after a trip around the block, Little Miss Ninja was chilly and called it a night. We then returned home, where each costumed child counted out their ten favorites and promptly put the rest in the donate pile. We hit up the city "spooky house" (where they offer wine to grown-ups, what!??), and then put the little ghosties to bed.
Reason no. 5: The day after Halloween I took the rest of the candy to the food shelter, so it is no longer in our home, except for what remains of the kids' ten favorites, of course.
Reason no. 6: The gifts that the kids traded in the rest of their candy for, a Secret of the Wings DVD and a REAL Vacuum Vic (alas!), respectively. Period.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Twelve on the 12th: October.

Friday, October 12th was a day free of school, for some reason, so perhaps that is why twelve pictures were taken this month!

From top left:

Alla at the library, we can bring that book home, dear
Alla with the Viewmaster
Alla's new book
Books to return

Fisher at the library, look how high he can reach
Fisher's smokejumper
Kids on the library bench, we are bringing those home, you know
Leaf rubbing

Leaf walk
Monkeys jumping on the bed
Stowing summer clothes
End of day, cleaning teeth.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Had lunch with Alla today at school. Hope she never tires of that.

2. Been thinking (ok, obsessing) of our eventual remodeling project, and searching for "small master bathroom" on Pinterest. You would not believe the vastness that some people consider "small."

3. Alla requested split pea soup this weekend, and thanks to a friend I have the best recipe for it. The pot was practically licked clean.

4. We are headed to the library when it opens at one today, as a whole slew of Halloween books have come in for us!

5. I am in the middle of The Age of Miracles, and am just absorbed by it.

6. Have stuffed red peppers in the crockpot for dinner, yum!

7. I am finally getting around to backing up my personal photos today, almost a year's worth.

8. I have Army Wives Season 6 waiting for me at the library as well, but don't see how I can possibly watch all of that.

9. I haven't gotten around to starting Private Practice this season yet, either, which is a show I love.

10. Walked outside around eleven this morning and saw eighteen turkeys just moseying down our street. No, we do not live in the wild. Just a typical suburb here!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. 'Twas a stellar day for Fisher. We went down to the Mississippi River and caught a barge coming into the lock, and then ran (well, I ran, he sat) up the river a mile and discovered a new way-awesome park. After lunch, we rode to the park to use the tennis courts.

2. I was thinking today while riding next to him, how cool is this, bike riding together, at similar speeds now without training wheels. It's game-changing.

3. Alla's day didn't start out as well, since hers began with a flu shot, but in her bedtime prayers she was thankful for this wonderful day, so it clearly improved.

4. Parenthood this season = very manipulative. Not necessary, and even a little bit cruel, Ron Howard; I'd watch anyway.

5. Just finished reading The Dog Stars. Hence the flu shots.

6. Just started The Light Between Oceans, which is starting out really well. Except, who wants to take a job as a lighthouse keeper?

7. We are enjoying a string of near-seventy degree days after our chilly weekend in the 50s. It's that warmth you're so grateful for, when you can feel it under the breeze, because you know soon it will be gone for awhile. Funny how it's not even the end of September and I can't remember exactly what it feels like to be really hot.

8. Apparently it's Mexican Fiesta week around here, as I unknowingly planned Mexican food for every night since Saturday - enchiladas, fajitas, carnitas, even black bean soup, although I questioned Ron when he included that particular meal in the Mexican category.

9. Yesterday was my day to volunteer in Alla's class. I don't know why that girl gets such a kick out of me being there, when generally it's not her I'm directly helping anyway, but I think it's lovely to be able to look at her from across the classroom and see her acting "normally," with her classmates, when she doesn't realize I'm looking.

10. Speaking of that darling girl of mine, how are we to get her to sleep when she cannot put down Harry Potter?!?! She's nearly done with book two and Ron has just caught her up reading at 10:15. Conundrum.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Gardener.

Have you read the book The Gardener with your children? The girl in the book has a similar spirit to my own daughter who in the height of summer has twenty pots scattered about the yard, growing various plants and flowers and vegetables and dirt. 

This summer she rescued a handful of seeds from the squirrel feeder (it does feed a handful of birds in the winter, too) and planted them in pots, and when they got strong she started giving them away. She planted a bunch in the garden to give them room, but the bunnies got every last one, so she started over with a single seed and when it got strong she put it in its own big pot.
Friday of Labor Day weekend.

Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

So proud of her little plant's progress.

Sunday of Labor Day weekend, open!

I love this angle, the way the flower moves, the way it's young but ready to be so very full. I love my daughter for the same reasons. Can't wait to see what you grow next summer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Somehow Ron got me sucked into The Walking Dead. And by sucked in, I mean kind of addicted.

2. We had a lovely 80-degree weekend, and then today we didn't get out of the fifties. We get used to that temperature here in Minnesota, of course, and eventually the fifties feel quite warm. But right now it's chilly. And supposed to get chillier. Fall is here.

3. Fall weather means fall food, though, and we had ourselves some lovely overnight steel cut oats this morning. Delish.

4. And picked up the first Honeycrisps today!

5. Fisher made it through exactly one week of school before coming down with a cold.

6. Alla is making her way through the second Harry Potter. She is going to read all seven so we can go to Harry Potter World. Sorry, Fisher, but you'll have to read them, too - no free rides:)

7. Today Fisher and I went on a lovely Mama run/Fisher bike ride, sans training wheels! I can hardly keep up with that kid. I'm pretty comfortable with about a 9:30 pace, and this kid has me trying to catch him at 8:30, and still not succeeding.

8. I bought myself a hot stone massage on Crowd Cut almost a year ago, because it was in fact good for a year, and am finally getting to use it this Friday!

9. Our family needs to get flu shots, but they are only done until 4 at the clinic at Ron's work, and 4 is when Alla gets out of school.

10. I am so glad to be back in Alla's classroom volunteering this year. It doesn't always mean I get to work directly with her, but she loves it all the same, having her mama in her class, and I enjoy getting to know the kids she spends her day with.

Monday, September 17, 2012

September 12.

Somehow taking 12 pictures this month completely slipped my mind, but luckily in this time we're living in, there is always a camera of some sort around to capture Life. So these are twelve from the past week or so, as we are easing out of summer and back into school.

Our last warm weekend, War
Tea and books
The sunflower from a seed, she grew!
The seeds I grew.

Late summer harvest
New crop
But we roll on, with two fewer wheels

Last year before it all begins
Patterns in stories
Adventures on bridges and steps under amazing skies.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fisher's last year of preschool.

Oh how I love this boy. It was only a short while ago that I could hardly leave his classroom to go across the hall for "Mommy class," let alone drop him off for a full morning of preschool all on his own. But now he owns this. He's excited, he's ready to learn, he's talking about new friends and happy to see old ones. Hard to believe that he's started his last year of preschool.
I feel this is going to be a big year for him, of making connections, putting together all the pieces of stuff he's learning. I'm so excited for where he is.
.Good luck this year, Buddy. But you don't need luck, you have something special in you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. It's been awhile since we had ourselves a good ol' Ten on Tuesday post around here, so let's get back at it!

2. Fisher saw his friends (two of them, both four year olds) coming around the block on Sunday and immediately ditched his baseball game to get his old bike down, the one without training wheels. By Monday evening his big bike had lost its training wheels as well and five neighborhood kids had gone from four wheels to two in 24 hours flat. Exciting times.

3. Ah, Parenthood is back!

4. We had 90+ degree weather today with crazy winds, but it is supposed to be at least twenty degrees cooler tomorrow. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

5. That said, cooler weather IS good for running, which I haven't gotten much of lately.

6. The Twelve comes out next month. I think Ron and I are going to re-read The Passage in preparation. Not easy to say; it's 700 pages!

7. Took Fisher to the allergist today and watched his back swell up in reaction to peanuts and wheat. Man.

8. Alla is going to the Air Force Academy and Fisher's not going to college, so I think we're good on educational expenses.

9. Lost two keys today. Bummed out the second part of my day, but now Fisher is really looking forward to seeing how keys are made, so there's that.

10. Tonight's bedtime stories: Ferdinand (Alla's pick), and Monkey With a Toolbelt (Fisher's pick). I might have snuck a third in there since we were early to bed and it was my night to read and my favorite little girl was brushing my hair. Might have.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

First day of school: Alla.

Hard to believe my little girl is in second grade. She woke at six a.m. (I remember most school days last year where I was waking her at 8:45.) I didn't even see her in jammies, because when I got up at seven, she already had her first day of school outfit on.

I love this smile, I love her excitedness. I hope she finds nothing can dampen her spirit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vacation "Twelve"

We just returned from Breezy Point, MN, and I have loads of vacation photos (that I've actually uploaded, so step 1 is complete), but I thought I'd ease into it with my Twelve on the 12th images. You'll soon find, if you're so inclined, that there aren't exactly twelve images for August, but I'm sure it's fine.
Alla balancing on a wooden log. She later went on to, of course, fall off and bruise herself.

On the (nonmoving) kiddie train in Nisswa.

The condo we stayed in had an open staircase, so Alla promptly found a light to put under there for a perfect storytelling spot.

I was a super reader on our trip, finishing this big read and starting another.

Fisher brought his "war cards" so that although he played with us for hours, he could still get in some side games with his friends, who all made the trip with us.

Oh yes our condo had a hot tub.

The real (well bigger) train in Nisswa.

The beach!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: The Ten-Year Anniversary Edition.

1. Ron and I got to leave town for the weekend, to celebrate our ten year anniversary. We haven't left the kids to go on any sort of trip since, um, well, since having them.
2. We picked Duluth, where we could easily get back (two hours) if a Fisher emergency presented itself, but, happily, Nana and Pappi handled everything with grace and we were able to just be Ron and J.J. for 48 hours.

3. We stayed at the A.G. Thomson House, which was the most amazing inn ever. Ron was a big fan of there being homemade chocolate chip cookies in the dining room around the clock.

4.The innkeepers serve a multi-course breakfast every morning, and on the first day there was a raspberry scone, still warm from the oven. Oh, wow.

5. After a breakfast like that you're really not hungry for most of the day, so we spent several hours hiking at Gooseberry.

 6. Saw this deer on our way, clearly not afraid of hikers.
7. We hiked down to Agate Beach, where I could have stayed for hours filling my pockets with interesting gems. This is the view from the beach looking out on Lake Superior.
8. Another North Shore recommendation: New Scenic Cafe, which I'm sure someone else recommended to me, and which was darn good food. I had fresh yellowfin tuna melt. Wow.

9. Sunday was my favorite sky. The sky doesn't get more gorgeous. This is the view from Fitger's, looking toward Canal Park/the Aerial Lift Bridge. Amazing!

10. Thank you again, Mom and Bob - what a gift of a weekend it was.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. The kiddos have one more soccer game to end the season. I am so so proud of each of them.

2. Probably due to soccer two nights a week, we haven't eaten very inspired meals lately. It's my biggest gripe about summer: I can't be cooking dinner and outside playing with the kids at the same time. Usually that means something quick, which I'm translating to uninspired.

3. Where in the world would I be without Trader Joe's taquitos?

4. At least it's summer and we're eating tons of fresh fruit. We should also be eating tons of fresh veggies, but the fridge seems a bit barren in that department at the moment.

5. Alla was gifted a new book that she tore through and then started again. For all of you with Fancy Nancy lovers, this looks to be a great extension, and it's only book one of a series!

6. Fisher is thoroughly enjoying Machines Go To Work in the City. Good job, William Low, you have really made my son happy with your inclusion of Vacuum Vic. Seriously, no one else gets it. Now, if Matchbox would just get on board, because for the third year in a row, Fisher is asking for a Vacuum Vic for Christmas.

7. I myself am working my way through Wonder, which, as the title might suggest, is wonderful. If only I wasn't completely glued to the television every evening, I could give it the attention it deserves.

8. I really am glued every evening. I am watching as much Olympics as I can - it only happens every four years!

9. We are officially out of 2 Gingers, so that means I'll be switching over to Dark and Stormies. Until we're out of rum.

10. To get to my mom's, I drive over the Mississippi. Random, but true.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Instagram summer.

I'm on the one hand happy to have my iPhone there with me most of the time to capture all the little moments that I'd otherwise miss because it seemed silly to bring my big camera, but a lot of those images get stuck in Instagram Land and never make it to the party with the rest of our family photographs. This is my effort to show the little moments that thankfully did not get missed. Like the kids under the Stone Arch Bridge, on the banks (bank?) of the Mississippi., killing time before a big Okee Dokee show.
Like the times we luck out and capture Vacuum Vic in action. Those worker guys, as Fisher would call them, must have thought we were nuts for parking our car just to watch a sewer being vacuumed out.
Like the first day of summer vacation when we hit up the splash pad for the first time.
And Fisher set up his own little drawing spot, lingering in jammies. Ah, summer.
Like kiddos being able to have sleepovers any old night, and Alla feeling like the great big sister she is holding that sound asleep little brother of hers.
Like pajama walks with clean kids and their lovies.
Like the city's summer slip n slide on a gorgeous day with my favorite sky.
Like watching fireworks on our own street.
And Daddy taking a bow.

Like a date night walk around Minnehaha Falls on what might have been the best night of the summer.
Here's to continuing to capture, and continuing to share.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ten on Tuesday.

1. Took the kids to the Twins game last night. Quite a high-scoring game by baseball standards, 19-7, and the Twins won, but we only assumed that would happen when we left at the top of the fifth. Turns out the kids were more interested in when they could have another snack. Even though we ate dinner before we left. Even though Ron and I were not hungry at all.

2. Just got the last of our windows replaced today, so we will hopefully feel warmer in here this winter.

3. I just read two five-star books. The first, Dinner: A Love Story, I read cover to cover, and believe it or not, I have actually purchased this book now. This is significant in proving just how much I love this book for two reasons. First, we rarely buy (grown-up) books here; that's what the library is for. Second, because of the dietary issues in our family, I would never purchase a cookbook without first heavily browsing through it, to make sure there were enough safe recipes to make the purchase worthwhile. This is not a specialty cookbook for special dietary needs or restrictions. This is a well-written book full of simple family recipes. I was also seriously influenced by the Dark and Stormy

4.Second stellar read: The False Prince. Oh, I cannot stop thinking about this book, probably like after I read the first Harry Potter, only there is no second book in this trilogy (yet!), so read at your own risk. It is a perfect story.

5. Fisher is in the middle of a three-week (twice-weekly) tennis class that he just loves.

6. I had a friend in fifth grade named Rachel who turned me onto jicama. I can't really seem to turn my family onto it, but I love it when I've got a container full of sliced up jicama in the fridge to munch on.

7. This salsa recipe is perfect. And did I mention it takes about ten minutes to whip up?

8. We checked spatter painting off the summer list, and now have a new piece of art in our living room.

9. Lately we can just count on it being at least 90 around here.

10. Tonight is a Tuesday, but it is a summer Tuesday, and that means the kids are sleeping together yet again. Oh, fall, don't you come too soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We were lucky enough to take a drive two hours north to the lovely land of Duluth, which, I am ashamed to say, we had never visited in our six years of living in Minnesota. 
The kids are the perfect age to enjoy it. A lift bridge, constant boats, Lake Superior, and more rocks than they throw back into that big body of water. But they tried.

What is my daughter doing? Oh, just trying to stuff as many smooth Lake Superior rocks into her dress as will fit!

Yes the hotel had s'mores and after the kiddos stuffed their faces, they climbed all over the giant rocks along the shore.

 'Tis lovely to wake up with a view of Lake Superior. If I didn't know better, I might think I was looking at the Pacific Ocean!
We climbed the next morning around Enger Park, and were rewarded with this view of Duluth. There's our hotel down there! And the lift bridge!

 It was maybe a tad windy up there.

 The wind was even worse at the top of five-story Enger Tower.

 And Fisher didn't like it one bit.
But both kids were in love with Enger Park with all of its hidden paths and bells and sand "pond". Quite enchanting.
We left Enger Park for an equally enchanting park, one built directly over I-35, which the kids thought was cool but perhaps didn't quite get even though we drive under the park first.

It also spans a train track that I think hosts a train that serves pizza as it drives up to the North Shore? Might have to check my facts there, but I'm pretty sure that's what it does.

We had a lovely mini-vacation and can't wait to go back next year. It's amazing to be able to do all this with our kids and to feel how they experience it. We heart Duluth!