it's summertime!!!!

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Happy Memorial Day! While the day is really to celebrate and remember all those who have given and continue to give of themselves for our country, for most of us it is the day that marks summer's official arrival. While the calendar may argue, this first long weekend of the season, tells us that summer is here... that we can let our hair down and let the weight of the world roll off our shoulders... We can bask in the warm rays of the sun, jump into the pool, swim in the lake, sail on the ocean... We will have cookouts and barbecues, catch fireflies and wave sparklers around. We will eat ice cream and watermelon, hamburgers, hot dogs and lobster rolls. We'll drink copious amounts of iced tea and lemonade. We'll go for long walks and run and bike for miles and miles, perhaps even stopping to picnic along the way. We'll search for pretty shells and sea glass. We'll take road trips and sight see and make new friends along the way. We'll stay up late and listen to the peepers and crickets. We'll open our windows and let the sweet, summer air inside. We'll live in sundresses, cut off shorts and flip flops. We'll nap on hammocks or on couches in screened-in porches... Ah summertime... Welcome back!

via Slim Aarons

via The Kitchn

via The New Yorker

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via Alicia Block Photography

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original source unknown

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via Alicia Block Photography

Celebrate Monday... Celebrate the last days of Summer... Celebrate the start of something new!





For many of our children, and for many of us, this Monday marks not only the beginning of a new day, and new week but a New Year. Today is the first day of school. There's excitement, as children look forward to getting back to their friends. There's trepidation, as many children are starting school for the first time or are embarking on the journey to a new high school or college. And there's elation, as parents all around rejoice to have some semblance of normalcy, structure and rhythm to their daily routines again... And then we'll remember how we've forgotten about the craziness of our lives with the advent of sports and all the other extra-curricular activities, followed by hours of homework late into the night... And before we know it we will all secretly be wishing for the restful days of summer to return! We'll be wishing that we didn't have to be at three different locations at once, and we'll be wishing to spend less time rushing, and less time driving and less time and less money at the gas pump! Ah, be careful of what we wish for, they say. And indeed it is true!

My youngest one starts school on Thursday. (The point of starting so late in the week? I am not entirely sure!) My older two start the following Wednesday, after Labor Day, as all schools should start.

For all my whining and bellyaching, begging, pleading, wishing for school to start, I am the first to admit that I am not entirely ready to let my littlest one go. I could keep him home with me for a few more weeks. My older two desperately need to go back. They need their friends. They need structure. They need to step away from their computers, iPads, iPhones, DSs... I'll allow the Kindles. They need to create and interact and use their brains. If you have teens you will understand. They are a completely different beast. They do not engage themselves in play the way the little ones do. They don't pick up games, or Legos or arts and crafts - unless I force them to do so, and even still the results are iffy at best.

My littlest one still plays. I love watching him at play. He can play with Legos or his cars or his army men for hours on end. He can take an old fashioned teeter-tauter and decorate it with different colored electrical tape so that, in the end, it looks like something that could have been created by Piet Mondrian. Or he'll grab a bucket of buttons, a glue gun (under my supervision) and completely cover an old pickle jar with colorful buttons of all sizes and shapes - We're still on the hunt for a perfect candle to place inside. He creates menus... he's wildly creative. He'll go outside and kick a ball around, or blow bubbles, or draw on the driveway with chalk. These are all the things my older two did when they were little but seem to have forgotten how... or seem to have lost interest... or simply, have just grown up...I'm not quite ready to let this child go... Summer is for little children... the excitement of seeing a firefly for the very first time in the season, for catching it in a jar, for building sandcastles, chasing butterflies, catching frogs...

Today, we will spend our day traipsing through Target, CVS and Staples locating all the items on our back to school lists... A grown-up treasure hunt, if you will, with items so esoteric we'll scratch our heads as we walk down aisles locating a certain type of zippered accordion folder that seems not to exist here on earth. We'll be loading up our carts with papers, pens, pencils, composition notebooks, two pocket folders, and loose-leaf binders. I will be purchasing at least a dozen binders today. A dozen. And at least two dozen notebooks! My daughter needs a special calculator that costs $100. Seriously. I beg to ask, whatever happened to counting on your fingers? And this may have something to do with the fact that my basic math comprehension does go beyond the 4th grade curriculum. I do still love back to school shopping and I am looking forward to picking up a few things for myself.

So, this week will be a combination of wrapping up the end of summer and enjoying the last of what she has to offer. We will also be focused on preparing for the New Year ahead. Another season is over. Another season is about to start. Another summer bids us farewell, another fall greets us warmly, with open arms.

Our children are getting older... Time doesn't stand still and we shouldn't either... We may complain, we may wish it to pass, and then it does, in the blink of an eye and all we have left is a fleeting memory. I've complained over and over again about this never-ending summer, but truthfully I know that every moment should be savored - Every moment is precious.  Please remember to embrace the moments -  the good and the bad, the happy and sad... Our children really do grow up too fast!

I need to start savoring the every day, the ordinary day...

So this Monday marks the beginning of a new week and the beginning of the end of summer for us. We have been given a last chance, allowing us to enjoy our last summer ice creams, our last trips to the beach, our last romps on the playground... our last days of sleeping in... These days, as much as I begged for their arrival, are indeed bittersweet.

Happy Monday to you all... Celebrate Monday... Celebrate the last days of summer... Celebrate the start of something new!

XOXO

        Jessica


On children, and summer... and fall



Today's piece is inspired by a touching post on my friend's Facebook page... As the summer ends, chapters of many of our books are ending as well. Some of our little ones are starting school for the first time while many of our older children will be leaving the nest and heading off to college. This time of year brings with it mixed emotions. As we say goodbye to summer and send our children off to be in the care of others we must learn to let go. Our children will be fine. They will be in great hands. They will grow and thrive and become more of who they are destined to become. We have given them love, affection and strong foundations. We now need to let them learn to become their own people. As summer ends and autumn approaches we have so many wonderful things to look forward to. We can still take advantage of these last warm days and yet we can all look forward to all of the wonderful things that fall has to offer... Cooler temperatures that allow us to put on our cashmere sweaters and toss warm blankets over our shoulders... beautiful foliage, apple picking and pumpkin picking... Large mugs of warm spiced cider or mulled wine... Our days will become shorter and we din't have to put down those delicious sink-your-teeth-into paperbacks, instead we will move from beach blankets to warm crackling fireplaces, or outdoor fire pits... To summer we will soon bid adieu, but we know, as with our children, young and old you will return to us before we know it!


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On Children
Kahlil Gibran


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.


You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.


You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.



Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend and I hope you are all able to get out there and take advantage of these wonderful last days of summer!



XOXO




Jessica

August is for Watermelon!

Today is National Watermelon Day. This refreshing, cool and sweet fruit is high in vitamin C, Lycopene and Beta Carotene. My favorite pink and green fruit isn't just for children anymore!












All images via Pinterest... click on here to see the pins, their origination and the recipes that accompany them

How are you going to have your watermelon today?

XOXO

August



August really is my favorite month. It's a gentle reminder letting us know that while September is just around the corner summer is not yet over. Her days can be hot and humid yet they can be gentle and soft. Early morning breezes make sipping coffee on the porch a pure delight. The sun is slower to wake now, her rays less jarring than a month ago. She reaches through the trees to warm my stiff shoulders. Gentle breezes dance gracefully in the air while a chorus of crickets, birds, peepers and cicadas sing melodiously. The day will grow humid and the sun will hide behind darkening clouds as torrential summer rains pour down to nourish the ground beneath us. It has been a hot and dry summer. Our grasses, no longer emerald-like as they were in the spring, were on the verge of turning hay-like. But Mother Nature stepped in to lend a helping hand. At this very moment all is right with the world. At least my corner of the world in Southwestern Connecticut.

School begins in just a month's time. There is still time to roast marshmallows and chase fireflies. There is time for homemade lemonade and Sun Tea. There is time to visit the beach... to dash through sprinklers... to wash the cars... there is time to dash around in cut off shorts and bathing suits and lounge around and do nothing. Summer is forgiving. It allows us to slow down and relax and take it all in. Summer is about county fairs and carnivals and ice cream cones and flip flops. Summer is about sleeping in and going for long walks or runs and swimming and playing tennis. Summer is about indulgence and relaxation. Summer is about letting go...

I love the sound of lawnmowers. I love the smell of freshly mowed grass. I love the smell of the ocean and the feel of the sand under my feet. I love the shrieks of delight as my little ones run through the sprinkler. I love their little cold and wet bodies - even when the sun is scorching. I love playing in the sand with my children and collecting shells and rocks and sticks.

This summer has been very different. In many ways it has proved to be challenging. It has been a juxtaposition this year. It has given me a reason to relax and enjoy, but yet my own fear of the future has at times caused me to stop dead in my tracks. There are many things I have yet to do what I had want to. This is why I love August. August is, to me, is a second chance at summer. It's a reminder that all good things do come to an end. It's a reminder that time does fly. It's a reminder that we must seize the day.

Summer is also a wonderful time of year for a foodie. Summer's bounty is abundant and sublime. My children and I share a love of cooking and food. There's nothing like sitting outside on a warm summer night as the sun sets, right before the stars take flight... Fresh fruits and vegetables... accompanied by warm hearth-baked breads... succulent meat grilled to perfection...accompanied by a refreshing cold beer or crisp chilled wine.

My funds are limited this year, more than they have ever been in the past, but I will not sacrifice good food and flavor. I am fortunate to live in a town where there are as many farms as people. (Ok, slight exaggeration!) Our soil is rich and produce is abundant. I have a favorite farm, I admit. It is just about a mile up the road from me. A two minute drive. Yes, I could walk but I drive. I would not be able to tote back all the wonderful goodies on foot! Sport Hill Farm, in Easton, Connecticut, should be on your map if you happen to be in the 'hood. She has her own chickens who produce the most magnificent eggs... and all the vegetables your heart desires. Her treasures are spectacular... wandering through with my camera I marveled at how farms are nature's jewelry stores!

Visit your local farmer, farm stand or farmer's market... buy locally. It's better for you. Better for the economy and better for our environment. Nothing tastes as wonderful as homegrown.







And while August is my month to enjoy summer and all that it has to offer to the fullest, I plan on getting back into my kitchen and taking advantage of all the garden delights it has to offer too!










Happy August!

XOXO

Summer Solitude Bucket List

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In my Year of Firsts I recently found myself alone for a week. No one around. No one at all. The children had taken off with their father to Maine to spend a week in the sun and the surf. I agonized about this for a month. I agonized about not being near my children. Sure, I want to kick them out of the house to get them out of my hair hourly, but even then, I know they are nearby to steal a kiss or a hug. But an empty house is something different. An empty house is quiet. It is lonely. A house without children in a house; it is not a home.

My children left with their father early on a Saturday morning. I stood at my bedroom window and watched as they drove down the long drive way. I watched as the car turned down the street and out of sight. The children were off to create some wonderful summer memories. For the first time in my twelve and a half years as a mother I would not be a part of them. I wiped the tears from my eyes, put on my workout clothes and headed to a Zumba class to escape my thoughts, have fun and work up a terrific sweat.

That afternoon I would start to create my own summer memories that would not include my children, but would help to define who I am... would force me to push the envelope a little... would force me to step outside the box... would force me out of the house to live life and not watch it pass on by. 

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That afternoon I would drive alone to New Jersey to spend the night at a friend's house and attend her 40th Birthday. I have never driven through uncharted territory before all alone - In the past I had traveled with friends, room mates, boyfriends, husband, and family. Suddenly I was in the car all by myself. In control of my own music. In control of my own destiny, really. It was also the first time I have ever driven any distance to attend a party where I knew no one. (I knew the host and one other.) A year ago I am not so sure I would have attended such a party even locally.) I ended up having a nice time and I am glad and proud of myself for doing something that took me out of my comfort zone.

I returned on a glorious Sunday and decided to really take advantage of the week. I went to the gym every morning to attend my Zumba classes. I am addicted. Completely hooked. I returned home late morning, showered, at a healthy lunch and decided that instead of cleaning the house all in one sitting I would clean it just a little bit every day. I wrote a little every day. I got my hair cut. I got my hair highlighted. I went out every night. Every night! I caught up with old friends over dinner and drinks. I took naps. I rested. By the end of the week there were still a few things on my list that I had not done. I made sure I got that pedicure I had wanted. I made sure that I got to see Midnight in Paris as I had been wanting to see it. That was something else I had never done before. I had never before been to the movies alone. It was fabulous. I even brought my sandwich with me and a bottle of Stella Artois! I wrapped the beer in an ice back that was then wrapped with a kitchen towel. I tossed a bottle opener into my bag. I had a fabulous date with myself that night! 


via Martha Stewart

My week of projected loneliness turned out to be anything but. It was the first time as a parent I felt that I had truly been on a vacation. I love my children dearly. I missed my children dearly, but this was truly necessary, truly therapeutic. Truly relaxing, I am already working on next summer's Solitude Bucket List!

via Lou, Boos and shoes

Have a great Sunday and try something different today!

XOXO



Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper


Have you all noticed that my kids have been out of school for 3 weeks now and that I've stopped complaining? Well, we've been busy with all sorts of activities and trips for the kids. We've been so busy that the kids haven't had a moment to be bored.  Earlier this week I took the kids, with some friends, to an Apiary a town over from me. (An apiary is a bee farm.)

Marina Marchese is known as The Accidental Bee Keeper. In fact, she wrote about about how she stumbled into this career. An artist by trade, Marina went to visit an Apiary and fell instantly in love with the little yellow and black creatures. She has since written and published a book all about her career change and passion for honeybees. The book is filled with all sorts of fun and informative facts about the bees and the honey they produce. Honey has wonderful qualities that date back to ancient times. She shared much of this information with us as we toured her "farm." 








We learned that honeybees are vegetarians and do not like meat. The annoying, flying creatures you see at picnics are most likely hornets or wasps. Honeybees won't sting unless provoked they are gentle creatures who want solely to make honey. Should you get stung, however, gently remove the stinger and walk away, slowly, from the site where you were stung. If you can wash your hands to remove the smell of the pheromone. Pheromone is the hormone that bees excrete when they sting. Other bees will smell the hormone, and may sting as well to protect their hives.



Here honey bees are hard at work. Honeybees are most active in the Spring and Summertime. During the coldest months of the year they all huddle together and the activity caused by the buzzing of their wings can keep the hives as warm as 95 degrees!  They often leave the cluster on warmer days to EAT honey that they have stored inside their hive.




Honeybees love herbs, especially when the herbs are not harvested and left to flower. In the above picture the little bee is gathering nectar from flowering cilantro. Marina explained that she has not removed the clover and dandelion from her yards. Bees love these and these make for wonderful honey. Honey bees are revered in Europe and highly respected in Japan.


Our honeybees are European honeybees, and in fact our honey bees most likely came over on the Mayflower! Hey, wait... they're bees, not WASPS! (Ok, that was bad!)




Honey that comes from the honeycomb is the purest honey and tastes very different from honey found in jars. Honey, like wine, comes in many flavors, colors and varietals and is quite complex. Much of the flavor derives from the plants that the honeybees feed upon. Honey is the only food that does not have to be pasteurized as honeybees are that clean. Filled with natural bacteria honey has been known to aid the healing of wounds and cure many stomach ailments, sooth sore throats and coughs. Just be careful not to feed honey to a child less than a year due to possible botulism.



Above the author and beekeeper shows us how she collects the honey and honeycomb from the hives. In her hand she holds a smoker, containing herbs, to "smoke out" the bees to prevent them from attacking her.

Honey is a wonderful ingredient to use in cooking in lieu of sugar. It is much kinder to our body and our bodies process it and metabolize it differently than sugar. Marina has some wonderful recipes in her book. I wanted to make her biscotti on Thursday, but then the storm came and we lost power... Gee, I wonder if her bee hives were damaged... I hope not!

Beeswax is also used for many other wonderful items, including candles. Below, my children all have the opportunity to roll their own. (They now sit proudly in silver holders on my mantel!)






I learned that the Queen Bee is elected by her "peers" and that she is beautiful and shapely. She lays up to 2000 eggs a day! (I've had three children. More than enough for me!) Each hive also has a drone bee and worker bees. All bees are distinguishable visually... well, to a trained eye they are. If a queen bee dies or becomes ill, a new queen is elected to boss the other ones around. (My layman terms, of course!)

After our informative field trip was over we headed over to a friend's house for some lunch and more fun.






Our children are happy to be busy little bees this summer!


Marina's book is charming and wonderful! I could have gone on and on and on about the honey bee, but needed to stop myself! If you want more information just order her book here. Her honey is fabulous and she ships all over the country. For more information on Red Bee and Red Bee products visit her website!

If you have access to a local Apiary I highly suggest you plan a visit!

just another ordinary day in paradise




If you've ever been to Rhode Island you're most likely familiar with the yellow and green cup with the lemon on the front. This beverage is an Ocean State icon. Made from pure high fructose corn syrup, fresh lemon, lemon rind, sugar and crushed ice, this lemony sweet beverage is addicting. My kids love it and we can't seem to go to the beach without getting one at least once over the summer. Recently they've added a new flavor. Watermelon was added last summer, I believe. I didn't think I would like it. Of course I had to try one... it's fabulous! The only thing we seemed to need with it was a little vodka and perhaps a wedge of lime... or a sprig of mint!

I was so excited to go to the grocery store in Newport today to pick up a powdered version of this drink that requires just ice, water and a blender. My friend Heather told me about it after I mentioned the wee little bit about it being great with vodka. Well, imagine my surprise and delight when I learned, just minutes ago, that there are many flavors and even better... I just learned that Del's is available in other states. AND there's a store less than 5 miles from where I live. Do you have any idea how happy this makes me? If you love Del's and you don't live in Rhode Island you have got to go to their website! These slushy drinks simply make the best cocktails! Cheers Fluffy! And thanks for the tip ;)


There's a little playground called Morton Park that I used to take the kids to when they were younger. How they loved it there. To this day it is the only one they will play on. Perhaps it's because they have such fond memories of it. This thrills me to no end because Alexander so rarely gets to go to the playground these days and here the three can play together. While the kids play I put in a call to my husband. My wheels are screeching and it sounds like a braking problem. We learn later, after my husband brings my car in, that all four brakes need to be replaced. Nice way to drop a cool $1100 in a day. Gah!





I'm trying to get all three to sit on the bench and pose for a picture for me... Alexander will have nothing of it. Rebecca has plans of her own...




She moves in a little more...


Gah! A hug... from his sister no less!!!




This one shares the spotlight with no one!









Isn't he beautiful? I've often thought of having him model... but then I feel that's like pimping him out!



Before we hit the road we must stop off at Newport Creamery (kinda like a Rhode Island version of Friendly's) for some Crazy Vanilla... my kids all-time favorite!


After tummies are filled we hit the road.
Of course Alexander has to pee theveryminute we pull out of the parking lot. I tell him we have to wait the 20 minutes until we get to the Dunkin Donuts before we hop onto I95. There I'll get a coffee for myself.


But coffee runs through me quite quickly which is not good when you are stuck in this!



But things could be worse, I tell myself... I could be all the way back there! (The view from my side mirror.)



All because they want to chop down a couple of trees. Seriously, why can't this be done at night when I am not on the road with a full bladder!

The ride home was rather uneventful until the last half hour or so. The older two were bickering... Christopher was sitting behind Alexander, pulling his hair and Alexander was sitting in his seat chanting "I'm never going to stop talking... I'm never going to stop talking... I'm never going to stop talking..." despite Christopher's non-stop request to "Just shut-up, Alexander!" And of course all three are hungry. Because ice cream two hours ago was not enough. And as we approach was seems like McDonald's Mile on this stretch of highway, they beg and plead to go into one. To which I keep replying with a firm "No!"

I turn the radio on higher to drown them out. But it really isn't working. I sing along to see if that quiets them down. I sing along with Frank.





Of course it didn't quiet them down... But I enjoyed singing it!

We're home for a couple of days... then back to Newport this weekend. Going to buy some duct tape before that trip!

Summertime is...

getting together with friends... relaxing on the beach... looking for shells... finding beautiful beach glass... going out to dinner and sitting outside...

summertime is... settling into a slower pace and enjoying it... swimming... campfires... roasting marshmallows... eating ice cream... sand between your toes... sun-kissed cheeks and blond highlights in your hair... eating an ice cream cone...

summertime is... rainstorms and thunderstorms... laughing and entertaining with friends... the smell of newly fallen rain on a hot day... the smell of freshly mowed grass... late, long days... gorgeous sunsets at the beach...

summertime is... eating en plein air in candle light... the smell of sunscreen... the smell of bug spray... a more relaxed lifestyle... getting in shape... playing tennis... backyard volleyball... croquet and badminton...

summertime is... butterflies and hummingbirds... colorful and fruitful gardens... making wonderful dishes from the items in your garden... sprinklers... picking fresh fruit and eating it on the spot...

summertime is... is peaches and plums and watermelon... the smells of the grill... sundresses and flowy skirts... flip flops and sunglasses... and being barefoot... and ragtops...

summertime is... bumblebees and dragonflies and fireflies and bats swooping down from the nighttime sky... letting the kids run around the back yard in the dark... the bright stars above...



Summertime is... magical... having fun... creating memories to last a lifetime!

Our Almost Last Hurrahs!

Last weekend I packed up the SUV with the family and we boarded the ferry from Bridgeport, CT to Port Jefferson Long Island and spent a lovely day with friends. My friend Nancy, a couple of years older than I, hadn't seen each other in many, many years. Through Facebook (have I mentioned that I love FB?) we got in touch and then learned we were literally separated by a few miles of water! The journeys over and back via ferry were fun unto themselves. Then to be greeted by two gracious hosts and pitchers of mojitos, meant the day would be a fine one! Our Gracious Hosts did a major kitchen reno in their 150 year old North Shore Cape. The results are nothing less than mouthwatering. I did not have the right lens to due this magnificent room the justice it deserves. I love the way she has displayed her antique pictures all over her back hall. I've been inspired to go down to my basement and bring up all my cherished works as well. A project that will start when the kids are back in school. This post is more of a visual post... enjoy!










Their kitchen is pure eye candy! To eat their divine food in such a visually wonderful room was a delight to all the senses!




Pulling up to our ferry...





Aboard the Grand Republic




In case you haven't enough to muster?!


It was super duper windy on the Bow... Alexander loved it!




Merry in Madras? This was so not planned!




Can you think of a better greeting? Really?!




Sumptuous!






Just a few items from our wonderful meal...





I had never met an avocado I liked... until I met these! Loaded with lemon, garlic and olive oil these scrumptious treats were To. DIE. For!!!!!
As were the crab cakes I forgot to photograph!



and dessert because there was not enough food to go around the first time! (Sarcasm should be noted)




a special dessert for the Short Stacks!



Short Stacks at play, Baby Girl M is missing from the picture...



As the boys played with their light sabres in the antique filled house I could not rest easily... I wanted to throw up actually... but our Gracious Hosts are used to such antics!


And then, as always, all good things come to an end much too quickly... and we leave beautiful Port Jefferson, Long Island...






to face darkening skies on the other sound of the Long Island Sound...





I loved this sign.... want to turn it in to a shirt for Daddy or blow it up and put it on his home office door!!!!




Approaching the storm ahead....


Eventually it became too dark to photograph... the winds picked up, the rains came down and things start flying all around the deck... I think I saw a broomstick, a bike and a dog named Toto too... but we ran downs below before I could know for sure!
We had a lovely time with our friends and the following day we endured our long and painful drive to Newport to visit with our newest blogging bffs PreppySue and Tickled Pink Talk... post to follow soon!

The longest two hours of my life!

For those of you who do not know where I am, I am in Newport for one final time this summer. I was kind of dreading the car ride to begin with because it seems, that as of late, we've been spending a lot of time in our car. But our reason for coming will have made the drive all worthwhile. (I can say this today, but not so sure I could have yesterday!) I'll be meeting PreppySue and Gabi (Tickled Pink & Green) and their Little Ones at the beach in a couple of hours. We are very excited!

But yesterday was a different story. The day started off badly to begin with. Then as soon as we got into the car Tantrum #1 started. Alexander was annoyed that I could not find the video game that he wanted to play because he didn't put it away. (We can plug video games in to the monitors in front of them.) And when he stopped screaming about that he moved on to a few other things. I had a few minutes of crying before he thought it would be fun to start shrieking at the top of his lungs. And of course I tell him not to which makes him want to shriek louder and longer. And then all three are bickering and asking how long we've been in the car and it hasn't been 5 minutes yet because we have not stopped off at the Mobil station. As soon as I pull in I load up on the junk to keep them all quiet for a few moments. When I come out with bags, of cheese filled pretzels, Combos and corn stick thingamagigs I am suddenly the best Momma in the world. I divvy up the loot into 3 Ziplock bags. And the sound of quiet is so blissful that I contemplate stopping at each and every Mobil station along the way!

Then we approach New Haven and the Howlonghavewebeeninthecar? and the Arewethereyet? questions begin. Then Alexander starts pitching a fit because he dropped his toy computer and cannot reach it and neither can I and with the truck next to me unable to keep to his own lane I sure as hell am not going to try. And he shrieks louder. I know at this point Daddy would have blown a gasket and I feel that I could explode at any minute but cannot. Then there is a large black SUV on my butt but I am not getting out of his way because I am a good 5 cars distance from the car in front of me and I will be a good driver and not give in to this jerk's bullying. Then the truck who can't keep to his lane approaches again. Rebecca looks for the "How's my Driving?" sign and thinks we should call his boss. But there is none. I manage to pull ahead, way ahead and pass a guy resembling ZZTop with his long grey beard flowing out the window of his orange Hummer 2 or 3 or whatever it is. The sight makes me chuckle. The noises and bickering in the background are a constant. I turn up the music in attempt to drown them out. "Life is a highway, I want to drive it all night long" plays on the radio. Clearly whoever wrote this tune did not have children. Because no one in his or her right mind would ever want to drive all night long with children. The bickering ensues. The biting, poking and hair pulling continue and I continue to sing along. Until I can no longer the children. Until their pillow fight nearly knocks me in the head. I shout some more. My throat is raw and sore. We are just past New Haven with hours to go before I sleep. I clearly should have taken the road less travelled.

I threaten to step on the breaks and toss them out the window. They don't believe me.

Alexander asks for his water and then proceeds to have another tantrum when it accidentally drops it causing it to roll under my seat. Arewethereyet? No way. Not close. Not by a long shot. I start questioning the wisdom of this last trip. Eventually they manage to stop bickering and actually get along. I can hear laughter and giggling and ohmygod the shrieks! Only 2 more minutes have passed according to my car's navigation. I'm looking forward to a nice glass of wine when we get to Newport. I don't care what time it will be.

There are no good songs on the radio. I keep changing the station. At one point it actually gets quiet and I turn my head around in hopes that all three are napping. Nope. Not this trip. I shouldn't get so lucky. Then come a series of really stupid Why Did The Chicken Cross the road jokes? I mean really stupid, but the kids are laughing. Cracking up. Hysterically. Ohmygod the shrieking. The clock is moving much too slowly. It's like the car is on a treadmill going nowhere.

After the jokes stop the kids think they have not done enough whining. Then I convince Alexander to watch a movie. Sometimes I should not ever open my mouth. Christopher turns on his screen. Alexander turns on his. They each have different movies on. Whoops! Alexander is angry that Christopher gets to watch Home Alone and he has Madeline. "I hate Madeline! Madeline's stoopid!" he shouts. I remind him that he loves Pepito. But I am wrong. Because Pepito is stupid too. Somehow Christopher convinces him to watch and a few minutes of peace and quiet ensues. Until Alexander drops his headset. Over and over and over again. Oy!

I'm still not liking what the clock on the car is telling me. It seems as though the faster I drive the slower the clock ticks.

Finally a large green sign welcomes us to Rhode Island! Yay!!!! There's still an hour left of our journey.... ugh!

I try a new route this time. I usually cut through the bucolic country side and take the back roads by the University of Rhode Island which is lovely and lined with pristine country side, cows, corn fields and farm stands galore. This time I stay on the highway a little longer. I get off of I-95 and am supposed to turn onto some route but the kids are screaming once again and I miss the directions. I look at the map and see that I need to get into another lane. I manage to do so in the nick of time and make the necessary turn.

At this time it's not the kids asking Arewethereyet? but me. The journey can not get any longer and any more miserable. Eventually we find our way to the Jamestown and Newport bridges and know that the end of the trip is in sight. I breathe a huge sigh as I sail over the Newport Bridge only to see that our ramp is closed and we have a long detour behind many, many cars. And Alexander has to pee. Really badly. Right now. Ugh. And we are sitting in traffic and the ground next to us is being dug up for new plumbing. During the height of tourist season. Yep, that's Rhode Island for ya! Oy.

Eventually we are released from the traffic jam and cruise along America's Cup, Thames, Wellington and Ocean Avenues... we pull in to my parents home and I run out of the car and head straight for the wine. Well, not really. But I wanted to!

and ... we're off!

I'm having a hard time motivating. We've been out of the house all weekend. We've been here just long enough to make a mess. And I am supposed to be on the road. I should have been out of here about an hour ago. It's been a long summer. I've done my fair share of driving. The same route over and over again. I bore easily. I get bored driving. It's hard to stay focused. Partially because it gets boring and partially because the kids are trying to drive me insane. But this is it... our last hurrah. So let's have fun and party like it's 1999! or 2009... or like school's about to start... time is ticking ever so slowly. Painfully slowly!

Before we leave I want to make sure the house is tidy. I know Daddy won't do it when we are away. I have the kids tidy their rooms and make their beds... I have emptied the sink and emptied the dishwasher... wiped down all the counters, kitchen table... etc. The house needs a vacuum but that'll just have to wait. It needs a good dusting but that too will wait. As long as it is superficially clean. But I have to do it because Daddy won't. The massive pile of dishes in the sink will have doubled had I not emptied the dishwasher. The filled to the gills laundry basket would topple over. I have done a load of darks and shot Daddy an email asking him to toss it in the dryer. Hope he does or I will have to wash it over again. Everything always smells like sour milk in the summertime if you don't immediately transfer it to the dryer. Ick. I also made him a salad... chopped up some garden tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh mozzarella, a few olives, chic peas and made some dressing that I left in a jar on the counter. He wouldn't eat well if I didn't do this. Probably pb&j every night. Except I don't think there is enough bread for every night. So he'll have his salad... there are a few crackers in the cupboard, unless he finished them and did not tell me. There are eggs and sausages. There was an English muffin. Rebecca ate it for breakfast. (Oops, sorry Daddy! She didn't know. We have bagels in the freezer though. You'll have to look. Might even be some ice cream left for you too!)

How do husbands survive? How do men survive at all really? Seriously!

So now that I have taken care of my husband and house we are about ready to go... but I had to check Facebook to see Nancy's status... she changes it like the wind. It's hilarious.... then I had to read my comments... then I had to leave you all with something to read... and now I am blabbering on and on... procrastinating... there are elephants coming up my stairs, the smallest of which is crying... and a door just slammed... here they come... Alexander slammed his door... he was mad that he didn't get a turn on the Wii... These guys really need school to start!

Alexander is apparently not coming with us... can you imagine what would happen if we left him here at home?

Ok... here we go... wish me luck!!!

Dinner's in the bag!

As most of you know I loathe to go to the grocery store. I triple loathe it when I have three little heathens with me. How lucky that I can avoid it, for the most part, this time of year. We have so many local farms within just a couple of miles. All of them are abundant with brightly colored fruits and veggies that are freshly picked. We are even lucky enough to have a local bakery deliver some of its freshly baked breads to one of them. This proves for some yummy and healthy meals. (Which is great in light of all the baking we've been doing around here!)

Last night we had a salad made from mixed greens and heirloom tomatoes, bread and my garlic butter spread. The kids gobbled it all up. The night before we had tomato, asiago and basil sandwiches on fresh baguettes... and yes, in the bag you will see something that I did not get at the farm stand... my bottle of Pimm's. It's summertime after all, and my liquor cabinet requires this on one of its shelves!

Pictured below, simple sandwiches packed with flavor... add a drizzle of olive oil just prior to serving!



Wonder what the farm will provide for us today? Unfortunately we're running low on some all important staples of the paper kind that cannot be purchased at the local farm... I am so procrastinating!

Happy Birthday America!



We've been busily celebrating our Independence with good friends, good food and great fireworks... more will be posted about that later... But I had to share these adorable little hamburger cookies! Just too cute not to share. Excuse the photo quality. I am going to make these tonight to bring to another 4th party this evening.

How to make Hamburger Cookies

You will need:

Sesame seeds
Nilla wafers
Keebler Grasshopper cookies, Girl Scout Thin Mints or the Keebler chocolate covered peanut-filled cookie, Girl Scout Tagalongs (my kids liked the PB variety better)
Canned frosting
Food coloring, red, yellow, green
Shredded coconut

In a small baggie place shredded coconut with green food coloring and shake until you get the color you desire to resemble shredded lettuce.

In a small bowl, mixing frosting and food coloring together until you reach the color of "special sauce" or cheese -- start out with small amounts of red and yellow to achieve a pastel orange color.

Take one Nilla wafer, apply a small amount of frosting to use as a glue, place the mint cookie on the Nilla wafer, then add small amount of frosting once again to be used as glue, top that with the lettuce, then a generous amount of "special sauce/cheese frosting" before adding thebun (Nilla Wafer) on top of that.
To get the sesame seeds to stick on to the bun, use an egg wash. Apply *egg wash on to the Nilla wafer then add sesame seeds and voila!

To make an egg wash use egg white, egg yolk or whole egg and 1 tbs. of water or milk. Mix well and brush on to surface.

I am going to buy some little American Flags and stick them in the middle of my burgers!

Fun for (Practically) Free!

I felt so much better once I got my Big Girl Panties on yesterday. I had a mission. We were going to be out of the house by 10:00 to go pick strawberries at a farm not terribly far away. Only we didn't leave until close to 12:00 because at 10:00 the kids decided that they wanted breakfast so had a lovely leisurely breakfast out on the deck beneath the warm sun. Then the kids started to play outside and one thing led to another. And if the kids are playing and having fun and getting along I, for one, am not going to stop it.

Shortly after we left the house I checked the Trip Information screen on the car's navigation system and saw that we had enough to get us 22 miles. The farm was 20 miles away. We'd be cutting it close but surely there would be a Mobil station along the way. (So I could use my gas card and not have to part with cash... I mean God forbid I actually stop for gas and money along the way.) But the GPS took us an unfamiliar route with no Mobil station. With enough gas for two miles I seriously hoped we were high enough in the hills to be able to coast our way down! I also vaguely knew of another way home that would bring us by a Mobil station. Otherwise I would have to hope that Lexus Roadside Assistance would help... but I would worry about that later.

There was a lovely breeze as we arrived on Pumpkin Hill which made the sun seem less strong. The views were divine, breath-taking! We headed to the Ferry Berry so that we could be transported to the strawberry fields. Jones Family of Farms has fields for strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins and Christmas trees. We absolutely love it there!

I never knew that Strawberry picking was so strenuous, but when we were done the kids needed a rest. So I paid up, $11.50 for nearly 5 pounds of strawberries and $2.50 for a huge head of red leaf lettuce. Entertainment and a healthy snack (and dinner!) for less than $15. Can't beat that!
I took another way home and found a Mobil station. Filled up. ($50 worth -- do I include this or not in the daily total?) On our way home the kids decided they wanted to go to the Sprinkler Park at the lake. So, once home, the kids suited up and I made them some lunch to eat on the beach.

More fun was had at the lake. The only money I shelled out was $6 for 3 ice creams. (Town's beach and lake pass for $120 was paid for a couple of months ago.)

We got home and the kids were a sandy mess. I told them they had to hose off outside because I was sick of having the upstairs bathrooms resemble a beach. More fun was had as they decided to play Hose Tag!
What fun we had for just under $20!





































We'll spend no money today. We'll go to the play ground for a little while and we'll cook up some recipes using our strawberries, and we'll do some crafts and I will tend to my terribly neglected house. I will do some laundry and, gasp, even some ironing! (Will try to refrain from sending clothes that need ironing to the dry cleaners this summer!)

Did we do it? Yes we Did!


And they had so much fun... until the darn thing got a rip in it and the water stopped shooting up and therefore the slide wasn't sliding! Of course it took about 20 minutes to set up and they had about 5 minutes of play! I have a patch that I can use and I will try to repair it, otherwise I will try to exchange it at Tarjay, where we got it. I felt badly. The kids were so disappointed. I couldn't blame them either.

Later on I had them write in their journals. Yesterday I got each child some crayons, markers and a fresh new notebook. Each day during our summer vacation they will have to write about something they did that day. The amount they write will depend upon their grade level. They can also illustrate their writing. The kids really enjoy this. Yesterday, as you can see below, they all wrote about the pool part at their friend's house. I also made them each a word search which turned out to be a huge success. I'll make some more tomorrow and then make copies for a future rainy day. Today Rebecca and Alexander wrote about Slipping and Sliding in the rain. Christopher, I thought, was going to write about his travel team soccer tryouts. Instead he wrote about the new Pokemon game he got for his DS. It was quite good. I wonder what they will write about tomorrow?


While the kids will have plenty of fun this summer, (if it ever stops raining) there will be some Mommy School as well. I want them to keep up their math skills and they will have to read 30 minutes a day. When they have finished their books they will submit a short book report. Illustrations are optional. It's nice to have this down-time, especially on these cold, rainy June days. I guess I'm what you'd call a crazy mommy hard ass! But I truly believe in work hard then play hard!
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Summer's here and the readin' is easy...


Doesn't this hanging porch swing look so inviting? I mean I could so easily lay back with all those pillows and bolsters and blankets... a nice, tall glass filled with iced tea and lemonade (an Arnold Palmer if you are in the south) and a good book to sink my teeth into. I have everything I need except for this lovely swing... and no place to put it either. Oh well, that's just a minor problem. We can set the hammock up sometime soon! I have sunglasses, iced tea, lemonade and sunscreen (we use Neutrogena because it is great on sensitive skin and this way I do not have to go out and buy a bazillion different brands. It's not cheap, so we stock up when we find a good sale!) I also have a growing pile of book that I can't wait to dip my teeth into. (For more information on the following books just click on them!)


I am currently reading Beth Dunn's Social Climbers. (She even autographed it for me!) It's a light and fun read about social climbing and social status -- Social Register meets Preppy Handbook meets Shopaholic... More, it's a book about fitting in and no matter what your "In" Crowd happens to be you will recognize many of her characters as those you see on a daily basis. There's still time to enter my Giveaway so enter now!


Piled high on my bedside table, waiting their turn are:


Pretty in Plaid, by Jennifer Lancaster. You may have seen this book around as it seems to be a popular one in the blog world. The book, based on the author's own experiences, is about her life chronicled in fashion. I started it (to put it down when my copy of Social Climbers arrived in the mail) and it is rip-roaring hilarious!


I also have Elin Hilderbrand's Nantucket Nights. I love this author. I adore her. Last summer I picked up Barefoot and I could not put it down. Could not. Could not. Could not. She writes so beautifully and realistically. Her books are all set in Nantucket. And reading them just brings me back! I am positive that you will love her books too!


Jane Green's The Beach House is also set in Nantucket. Admittedly I was more of a fan of the author's earlier books, though have read them all since she is a local author. I found her more recent ones to rather be self-aggrandizement... but saw promise in this book about an older, more mature woman who takes on boarders to help keep and maintain her beloved beach house. This book seems to have promise!


These four books should keep me busy for a little while!


If you've read these already you may also want to check out Curtis Sittenfield. I first read Prep with my book club a few years back and really enjoyed it. It's a Midwesterner's (and outsider's) view in to the elite world of the East Coast prep school. Made me want to pick up and reread my copies of The Catcher in the Rye, and A Separate Peace. Both two of my all-time favorite reads. Ms. Sittenfeld also wrote An American Wife. I loved this one. Loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, you cannot help but wonder what is fact and what is fiction. There is scandal, intrigue, sex (lots of it!) and a good story line.


I'm really hoping that the kiddos are now old enough to let me sit back and partake in my favorite summer past time... next to entertaining and enjoying a nice cocktail!


Cheers!


What's on your list this summer?