Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vacation Whiplash

I'm experiencing whiplash...I just got home and I'm turning around and leaving again, this time with family in tow. I was halfway unpacked and now I'm halfway packed. That's summer for you. It's a frantic pace of fun.

This time we're heading north up into the upper peninsula of Michigan. If you've ever been to the U.P. you know that it's almost like stepping into another world. The natural beauty seems untouched and is breathtaking. At the same time, I can't help but chuckle every time I pass a shop that proudly displays on a billboard that they sell, "Fudge, Bait, Fireworks". Now, that's classy!

I hope your summer is rushing by at the same pace...a combination of lazy heat and frantic fun!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Homeward Bound

Home at last! Can I just sing....what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man! After being gone for a week and spending 26 hours in flight and in airports, I arrived home last night to spic and span clean house...uh, huh, laundry done and put away, grass mowed, sandbox installed, clean sheets, coffee programmed to go on for me at 7:00 AM, dirty dishless house! Oh yes, he's a mighty good man!

I have no idea what time it is or what I'm suppose to be doing but my family never looked more beautiful to me! I can't hug and kiss my babies enough and home is the only place I want to be! And because I know that you love to look at someone elses vacation pictures...I'll try to post a few later...for now, I'd just like to say that there's no place like home!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bon Voyage Top 10

I leave tomorrow for a week long vacation with my mom and my sister. I've been away from both of my kids for only 1 night...a month ago. I am a stew of emotions right now! I can't wait to go....hello, but I'm going to miss my hubby and kids like crazy.

Top 10 Things I'm Most Excited About (and reversely will miss the most!)

10. I can potty alone. For 1 week I will not live in fear that one of the kids is going to open the stall door from the inside prematurely, announce what I am doing to the bathroom masses, or touch something.

9. No preparing meals and snacks. I only need worry about my tummy and taste buds. I also only have to cut my own food and I'm pretty sure I won't have to force anyone to eat their vegetables.

8. I can get ready in the morning. I could do full hair and make-up...uninterrupted. I just sit back and laugh when I think of how long I took on my appearance before I had kids. Now, I'm ready (shower included) 10 minutes flat.

7. I can sit poolside and not watch anyone! When we swim I'm constantly scanning the pool area. Oh, to sit and relax with no mommy radar on!

6. I already made about 8 frozen meals for the fam...and now, I'm off the hook! No grocery shopping. No preparing. No cooking. AND, best of all (Seeing that I have no dishwasher), No dishes!

5. A break from being the shoe monitor. Everyone I'm traveling with keeps their shoes on...genius! They know how to put their own shoes on and tie them and they will most likely know where they put them.

4. I'd like to say that I'll have less spills to clean up but I'm a klutz and I spill as much as my kids so, yeah....

3. As I gaze on the statue of David, no one will say, "I have to go potty". I will also not have to remind anyone to go potty or frantically search for a public bathroom.

2. Do you ever just want to run an errand of go for a walk and you realize that you can't because you have a child sleeping? I'm really looking forward to just coming and going from my room as I please anytime of the day or night! I might just leave at 2 A.M. for something random and unnecessary because I can.

1. I will be called Jennifer more than I'm called Mommy!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Body Wash Puff Turned Scrubber

Yesterday I planned on cleaning the house today...

So I woke up this morning, expecting cool morning air to be breezing in through our windows. No such luck. The humidity is heavy and the air is hot and our central air is still broken.

I can think of a million places with air that I have to run errands to and I know of a handful of people who have invited us to their pool...but I can't ignore the sand and dirt stuck to the bottom of my feet. It's time for a quick clean but first I need one of those giant buttons seen on The Road Runner to launch me into motion! C'mon a girl out.

My new favorite cleaning tip...

Clean the shower while you're in the shower. I leave the shower for last. That way you can spray your cleaner of choice, strip down (yes, I really did just say that), and scrub, then take your actual shower. Also, best scrubbier for the of those body wash puffs! I need to say that you should have one for cleaning and one for yourself. Hmmm....

I hope you're staying cool at your house and feel free to leave other helpful cleaning tips as a comment!

This post is a part of Things I Love Thursday.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Everyday I'm Away Surprise Bags

The last few days I've been running around trying to tie up all the loose ends before I leave for a week. Okay, really I'm trying to get caught up on laundry before my mother-in-law comes to stay with the fam. I'm absolutly thrilled to go and at the same time, dreading being away from my kids and husband.

One of my favorite things to do for the kids anytime I'm gone is to leave them with a daily surprise. This workds well for little ones who can visually see how many surprise bags they have left until mommy and/or daddy get home.

I genrally just use brown paper bags and write numbers in decending order on them. Then I fill them with a little candy treat or activity. This trip, I'm stuffing them with bubbles, pop-its (those fireworkds you throw on the ground), fun-dip, new office supplies (yeah, my kids are nerds in the making), and horns for their bikes. Each bag also has a love note in it too, of course.

The gifts can be little or doesn't really matter. Instead, it's more about having something for the kids to look forward too, and helping them understand how long you will be gone.

This post is a part of Works For Me Wednesday. Be sure to visit We Are That Family for other great ideas.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tee Pee Playhouse

Umm, no...not Pee Wee's play house, tee pee playhouse.

I wanted a charming hideaway for our 2 kids without building a massive play structure. What we ended up building was a tee pee big enough for 2 kids and their imaginations. I love it because the look fits with the natural setting of our yard. It sits near the campfire ring and the sand box and it features some beautiful climbing plants. The kids love it because it's whimsical and will offer them a great hideaway. To make your own tee pee you only need 12 -15 foot long poles (we used small young ash trees), gardening twine, and a few climbing plants. I found our poles growing in a wooded area on my parents property. If you don't have a wooded lot ask around...

First, lay (or lie hmmm...) your poles out so that the bottoms meet. Your poles do not need to be the same length and actually look better if they vary in length and width. I would recommend taking the time to prune off the branches and leaves.

Next, loosly tie the top of the poles together. You can do this on the ground before you upright the tee pee. Tying the twine loosely allows you to place your poles in the best position while keeping them in a tee pee formation.

Once you have them tied together, you're ready to upright the tee pee. This is a great time to grab a friend or neighbor for extra help! Work with the natural bend and curves of the poles to find the best position along with the space you have to find the area of your tee pee. We had a small area to work with and chose to put it in our bark bed to avoid having to mow under it.

Next, dig holes from 6-12 inches deep to bury each of your poles into. This will give your tee pee extra stability.

To add even more stability, use a ladder to reach the top of your tee pee and re-tie the posts together. Weave between and around posts to create a tight web of twine.

At this point the basic frame of your tee pee is complete. You could plant climbing plants and call it a day....or, you can use more twine to add grid lines between your poles for the vines to grow on. We want a completely covered tee pee and so we chose to add twine to encourage the climbing plants to cover it. When we did this we were careful to leave the bottom half between 2 poles open to create a door for the kids to scramble in and out of.

We also found that it worked well to go around each pole once before stringing the twine to the next pole. This way the twine will stay in place as it ages and weathers.

Time to plant! There are a lot of climbing plants to choose from. Make sure you pick a plant that will work well in your climate. At first, I planned on using a climbing bean plant but then decided to go with Dutchman's Pipe because it's a perennial (no need to replant each year), flowers, and loves to climb.

This post is a part of:


Monday, July 12, 2010

Manic Monday

Today was manic Monday here at the Bruinings...A.K.A. Mommy gets too many ideas, makes too long of a list, and then actually attempts to complete the list.

We started out by digging up hosta, cat mint, and creeping thyme at my sisters...oh, wait no, that was after we delivered 2 yards of wood chips to her. Then, we all descended upon my mother, who kindly served us lunch (I always forget that children like to eat), and added in more perennials onto our load. I tucked my 3 year old in for a nap and worked a good 2 hours with my son splitting, planting, and mulching. Man, can that boy work! Then I got and idea to build a teepee out of 15 foot trees that my sister and I had cut down last Saturday....

It all looks awesome but throw baseball practice in and it was a bit over the top. Tomorrow will be Pay For It Tuesday and I'll try to put up a post on the teepee because, it is wicked awesome!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beat the Heat

It's hot...and our air conditioning broke. I hate to complain about it because I've never gone long without central air. I know that in a few short days my hubby can have it up and running but in the mean time I've gotten a bit creative with keeping the kids cool. Here are a few...

1. For a great healthy snack, wash and freeze some grapes. They don't take long to freeze and they're like mini Popsicles. Add in a frozen juice box and you'll be a hero!

2. Water kids and I have spent hours the last few days filling and throwing water balloons. We bought a jar of 500 for a frw bucks and I think it's going to last the entire summer. I've had some great chuckles watching my kids break them over their heads, sitting on them, and playing catch with them.

3. Make a quick water table with a wash bin or large plastic box. Even my 6 year old is having fun making boats and racing them.

4. Make an obstacle course that winds through your yard. Add jumping over a sprinkler and dipping your hair into a pail of water. Kids love it when you time them!

5. Set up a water rocket. Our 6 year old son loves to use a Solo cup as a rocket. Kids can decorate their cups into a rocket ship then launch them using the water hose. You will need one person to man the faucet and one to hold the hose upright....very wet and fun.

Leave a comment if you have any other sizzling ideas!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Beach Day

Today we went to the beach. It was perfect, with little puffed clouds in the sky, clear blue water, and white sand beaches. I sat in my beach chair watching my kids play in the waves. We ate a picnic lunch and played more. I turned to my sister and wondered aloud, "Why don't I come here with the kids more?!"

Then, 4 hours later, we packed up sand coated toys, scrounged around to find sandles, loaded the pack mule...oh, wait no, that was me, and made our way back up the sand dune. Half way up, I started to worry about my kids feet becasue of the hot sand...I could barely stand it. We made our way through the parking lot to our car, which when we opened the car door felt like the gateway to hell heat wise. We drove home with kids arguing about who was touching whom. At that point, I turned again to my sister and said, "Oh, now I remember why we don't do this more often." I may need a reminder come February...

Still, my kids experienced the beach. They played in the sand and the water the whole day and made fast friends with other kids at the beach with their families. It's one day tucked away in their memory and nothing makes me happier than giving them that!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: CSN Stores (Caphalon 8 Quart Multi-Pot)

I'll probably never get to say this again...I leave for the Mediterranean next week. Don't hate. I know, it's ridiculous! Anyway, I started to worry last week and thanks to some fabulous advise from you all, I was able to let that worry go! When my head cleared I realized that if my husband is willing to hold down the fort while I'm off in Italy, France, Spain....the LEAST I could do for the man is make him and the kiddies a few meals!

So, today, I've been slaving away in the kitchen slicing, dicing, chopping, browning, and saucin'. The last meal is tucked away in the freezer, the counters have had one last wipe, the floor is swept, and the dishes are drying in a heap in the dish rack. And, what?! I have to make dinner for tonight still. Oy vey!

The only think motivating me to get back into the kitchen is that I received a new pot from CSN Stores for review. I know, I'm easily amused! Up until now, I've only had a 4 quart pot or a 20 quart pot. Hmmm....something in between please.

Here's my new pot... Yep, it does it all! You can steam veggies, cook and drain pasta perfectly, and use if for all those other times you need something in between 4 and 20 quarts. Here's my shameless plug for CSN, they are easy to shop, and with 200+ on-line stores, you can find every thing you need. Just think, no loading up the kids, no dragging the kids through the store, and no going from store to store looking for what you's ALL at CSN, trust me!

So, for dinner tonight I'm cooking rotini in my new pot using the pasta basket and using it in this delicious recipe!

Rotini with Chicken, Asparagus, and TomatoesIngredients
8 ounces uncooked rotini (corkscrew pasta)
Cooking spray
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (1-inch) slices asparagus
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled goat cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. (In my new pot...woot, woot!)

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt. Add chicken and asparagus to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in pasta, basil, vinegar, and oil. Arrange 2 cups pasta mixture on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese (or more if you're me!).

Friday, July 2, 2010

Powder Pouch Giveaway: Winner!

And the winner is....

Winner #1: Mom 2 Three of Aspiring Mon 2 Three

Winner #2 Keli of Sovereignly Sustaining Sanity

Winner # 3 The Dekorne Family of Upside Down Hashbrowns

Congratulations on a sandless summer thanks to Powder Pouch!

Top 10 Things I Love About the 4th of July

10. Helping my kids snag candy during the parade. Watch out because I'm all about making sure the little people get their fair shake down of the candy...oh, and making sure my kids don't get run over too.

9. Decking my family out in red, white, and blue. While I don't feel the need to buy a new 4th of July t-shirt every year, it sorta makes me happy when my family is all coordinating. It's like we're all a part of team that.

8. Carnival food. Yep, I'm a cotton candy freak. If we're on team USA...then I win gold on the cotton candy eating contest.

7. Sparklers. It's sparkly, it's fire, it goes stizzzz when it's finished and you put it in the bucket of water! Best of all, my 6 year old can "write" his name with them now. Fun. Fun.

6. Annual used book sale. Our library has a book sale before the parade. I've shopped it since...well, as long as I can remember so it's definitely apart of my 4th tradition.

5. Firecracker pancakes. Okay, they're just pancakes. In our family, I always make strawberry and blueberry pancakes with whipped cream for breakfast. It's a great way to start the sugarfest! Somehow, calling them firecracker pancakes makes them extra special for the kids.

4. Elephant. What...elephant!?! Yes, elephant. At the end of our local parade there's a huge carnival where all the rides are free (that means the lines are extra long). At the end of the carnival, the firemen roll out watermelon to the elephant who's been giving rides all day. She stops each watermelon like a professional soccer ball player. She uses her long trunk to scoop up the first watermelon, brings it to her mouth and bites down causing a waterfall of watermelon juice to cascade down her front. It's incredible to watch and worth the wait. It makes me happy every time I see it.

3. My kids reaction to the police cars and firetrucks as the sirens wail by. Although, for the youngens, could you please dial it down a notch guys?

2. That first firework that goes off as a test. I love the way a noisy, restless, worn out crowd settle right down after the first blast. I wish I had that kind of affect on my kids.

1. Feeling the earth shake under you with each explosion during the fireworks. Fireworks are like candy for the eyes and almost overwhelming for the ears but I especially love the way they make a nice thud under me and my blanket.

Praise God for our freedoms and God bless America!