Friday, March 29, 2013

if sledding were enough - a child's world

"I walked over the hill where we used to go and sled. There were a lot of little kids there. I watched them flying. Doing jumps and having races. And I thought that all those little kids are going to grow up someday. And all of those little kids are going to do the things that we do. And they will all kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be great if sledding were always enough. But it isn't."
-The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Beau and I are in the midst of some big life decisions here lately, and figuring out where to call our next home is one of them.  Tonight after work, we met with our realtor to look at a couple of houses that hit the market and Cruz came along for the ride.  This is not our first rodeo when it comes to looking at houses, and although it sometimes creates more stress bringing him along, I like having him there with us.  Watching his reaction, reading his responses, and visualizing him growing up in each of the houses we look at has in many ways, helped me reach some decisions and form a clearer idea of what I want in our next home.

Since he was just days old, I've always been impressed with his ability to just go with it.  No matter where he is, he not only adapts, but makes the most of every little adventure thrown his way.  Unlike his mom, change doesn't seem to faze him much.  Tonight was no different.  We walked into the house and within minutes, he was unzipping his coat, hanging it on the stair rail, and wandering through this new place, ducking in and out of rooms, and exploring his new territory with excitement and elation.  Five minutes later, he pooped his pants.  

Talk about making yourself at home.

At one point during our showing (after we thankfully found an extra diaper in our backseat), Cruz was making the rounds in a house, frequently jumping up and down and sharing his excitement with high-pitched jabber and lots of, "look at this, mom" and "whoa, dad" phrases when I heard our realtor say something along the lines of, 'Wouldn't it be nice if we all got so excited about life the way he does?'  If we could just abandon the grown-up feelings of stress, anxiety, and frustration, and fully let ourselves absorb our surroundings, look for adventures in unknown places, and share our happiness openly and genuinely with others.  If only it were that easy...

We think the older we get, the more we figure out; however, in some areas it seems we devolve.  Sometimes I wish I could flip a switch and be immersed in Cruz's world - a world that exists only in the present, one that is full of possibility and imagination and new things to learn and explore.     

Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to get to be around this every day.  And while I am reminded all the time of just how temporary his childhood is, I pray a part of me never forgets this image of who he is right now.  This passionate, headstrong, free spirit who loves to laugh, loves to play, and loves to explore the big wide world in front of him. 

On Friday, Beau built Cruz a pirate flag and taped it to a clothes basket to stimulate a mighty pirate ship.  Cruz spotted it in the living room after his nap and immediately entered a world of pretend, climbing aboard his vessel, dressing in his cape, and fishing off the side with his magnetic pole set from Land of Nod.  The more we painted the scene with him, the more it all came alive, and the more I realized the true power of one's imagination.  His ability to strip away the world around him and fully enter one he has the power to paint is fascinating and something that gets harder to understand as we age.


I am so blessed to live in a world where a clothes basket can become far more than a place to store laundry and blessed to see the world through the eyes of a little boy who sees magic everywhere he looks.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

eggs and such

Is Easter sneaking up on anyone else this week?  I think with a mixture of it still being March, a late spring break week, and the snow that's still lingering on the ground, my seasonal clock is off due to a lack of fresh air and fifty degree weather.  We're forcing bits of spring into this house in any way we can, though, and I think mother nature is responding appropriately.  The warm temps. out there today?  You can thank my red spring coat, summer shandy for dinner, and the three dozen pastel eggs sitting in my fridge.

This weekend, we baked.  We filled plastic eggs with chocolate whoppers, jelly beans, and reese's bunnies.  We dyed Easter eggs.  We congregated around a table of sweets, laughed at babies, ordered pizza and watched the NCAA tournament.  I pretended I was Martha Stewart and arranged speckled eggs in my new basket just so and snapped pictures that show off the colors of spring.  Pink doesn't make its way into my house very often and when it does, I make sure it's captured.

This year, I had some fun experimenting with naturally dyed Easter eggs.  For the past couple of years, I've had fun seeing the brightly colored eggs from my boxed dye kits; however, this year, I was going for a new look.  After reading this article from Better Homes and Gardens, I tried a few colors using simple kitchen ingredients and was impressed with the results.


I used a cup of really strong coffee for the brown, tumeric for the bright yellow, paprika for a faint burnt orange, a hunk of red cabbage for the robin's egg blue, and beets for the pink.  I let most of them sit overnight, but grew impatient with a few.  I love the organic look of the colors and the muted shades of spring.  Very Martha!

To do this, I lined up several plastic cups on the counter top.  I started with the coffee, pouring a cup of strong, hot coffee into the cup and adding a tbsp. or so of white, distilled vinegar.  I plopped a couple of eggs into the cup and let them sit for a couple of hours, turning them every so often for an even coat (or because I couldn't resist a peek).  

Next, I boiled one cup of water at a time to mix with my other ingredients.  For the bright yellow eggs, I added 2 tbsp. of tumeric and 1 tbsp. of vinegar to a cup of boiling water and stirred to dissolve the spice.  I added a couple of eggs and saw color almost immediately.  I got the best color from the tumeric and removed the eggs after only a half hour or so.

The robin's egg blue ended up being my favorite shade of egg.  These were a little more time consuming.  I added a third of a chunk of red cabbage (cut up into pieces) to three cups of boiling water.  I turned the heat off and let the cabbage water cool to room temperature before adding three tbsp. vinegar (1 tbsp. for every cup was go-to).  Then, with a slotted spoon, I removed the cabbage and added my eggs.  I let these babies sit overnight and couldn't believe the results when I woke up!

I did the pink eggs similarly, adding a couple of chopped beets to three cups boiling water, and three tbsp. of vinegar after cooling it to room temperature.  

The finished product...

Sunday, we had the family over to play with more egg creations.  We used food coloring to get some of the deep shades of blue and green, used yellow and orange acrylic paint and sharpie markers for the baby chick eggs, and speckled a few of my natural dyed eggs with a toothbrush in paint.  Just dip your toothbrush in the paint, hold it about four inches from the egg, and run your finger over the bristles to 'spray' the egg.  The speckled eggs are my absolute favorite - they look like little robin's eggs in my basket.  

For sweets, I baked up these carrot cake cupcake nests from Pinterest, this absolutely addicting bunny bait sweet popcorn mix, and Kelli made these peanut butter cookies that I think Cruz would have liked to eat the entire batch.  We topped our spread with my mom's fresh strawberry pie.  It sure made for a pretty table.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend.  I'm looking forward to visiting the baby chicks in Hampton, getting Cruz dressed up for church on Sunday, and seeing how his egg hunt strategies have changed from last year.  Spring is here and we have so much to be thankful for.               

(Post) Spring Break Post

Contrary to Mother Nature's MIA status during Spring Break last week, we managed to have some fun days of being creative and finding joy in some expected and unexpected places.  From a morning at the Youth Pavilion and lunch at Newton's, to a homemade pirate mast taped to a clothes basket, and an unexpected adventure at the new Menards, we did our very best to make the most of our little week at home.  And now that we're back to work and the temperatures are finally climbing their way out of the thirties, I have a feeling we're on the upswing and finally making our way out of winter.  March was a dreary one, but I'm hopeful that April will bring us spring.  

Happy things...

Trader Joe's cinnamon rolls.  Seriously, these come in a can but taste like Martha Stewart made them from scratch.  Holy yum.  Beau took Friday off, which means we had a big breakfast.  Bacon and rolls and fried eggs and smoked ham from the Big Green Egg.  


The Youth Pavilion.  $3 for the entire family for three hours of ample entertainment for our little explorer.  He was scared to death of the cow, but could have spent hours playing in the fruit stand or building things by the light-up table.  

After lunch at Newton's, we found fun in our living room with a clothes basket and a cardboard pirate flag assembled during nap time.  Dad had it done before Cruz woke up and Cruz's face looked like Christmas morning when he walked in the living room.  

Cruz has developed an infatuation with all things pirate.  He gets so excited when Jake and the Neverland Pirates comes on TV, and is working on picking up a second language in pirate.  His 'yargh' is pretty deep and he's often caught stealing some gold doubloons out of our change jar!

Cruz's cape was a Christmas present I ordered for him from Etsy shop, PipandBean.  I can't say enough about the quality of these capes.  You can personalize them in so many colors and designs, and they come long enough to grow with the little super people for many years.  Cruz was a little leery of his at first, but when we presented it as a very important element of his pirate costume, he couldn't resist.

We sailed the seven seas, caught fish, and competed in sword duels.  It amazes me to watch his little imagination at work, especially when we take the time to create new worlds to explore with him.  He's full of ideas and very good at pretend, something I hope he doesn't lose as he gets older and is introduced to a world of video games and computer programs!

Did I mention that my husband has a slight infatuation with pirates, too?!  If you know him even a little, there's a good chance you've heard his pirate steering wheel joke ;).

We finally caved for dinner and decided to grill some burgers outside.  We toasted our hamburger buns and toasted a couple of summer shandys to a long-awaited, much-anticipated spring.  

After dinner, we again grew bored at home and wanted something fun to do to kill an hour or two before bedtime.  So, we did what any young family of toddler-aged children would do when looking for free entertainment on a Friday night.  We went to Menards.  

I should point out that this was not just any Menards, but a brand new one built less than a mile from our house.  And if we thought Cruz had a good time that morning at the Youth Pavilion, we could have saved our money and spent the day in this place!  We played kitchen in the kitchen displays, pretended to mow the lawn on the riding mowers, and took turns trying out about every piece of patio furniture in the store.  Cruz giggled uncontrollably when I initiated a game of hide-and-seek in the model door collection, and I believe Cruz opened up every fridge in the store and replied with a funny, 'No snacks here' remark every single time.  It just goes to show, you give a kid a toy, they'll spend way more time playing with the box.  

Another Spring Break in the books and there are fifties in the forecast for the end of the week!  Here's to hoping the littles aren't hunting their eggs in the snow after all!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

wherefore art thou, spring?

Today we met Janet, Jillian, and Rob at Panera for a quick lunch, thankful for a chance to get out of the house and breathe in some fresh air after a long week stuck inside.  On the way there, we saw signs of spring everywhere.  Okay, maybe just signs that everyone is doing their best to push winter out the door, even if I'm not sure it broke 40 today.  We saw a couple of college kids in lawn chairs sitting in shorts in their front yard, holding beers and signs that read, 'Honk and we'll drink.'  Main Street was hopping with people darting in and out of shops, grabbing an afternoon drink at Singlespeed and a cupcake at Scratch.  Even Cruz felt the itch, grinning from ear to ear as he dashed out of his carseat and ran full speed down our driveway to help Dad get the mail.  Soon, his little legs ran toward me and he yanked his winter coat off and turned to stomp through the leftover snow pile at the end of our sidewalk.  This, of course, did not last long, but made me laugh to think that even our little monkey has had his fill of winter.

We've had grilled burgers for dinner two nights in a row and have decided it's our equivalent to the college boys in the front yard.  If spring isn't going to show up on its own, we'll do what we can to usher it in ourselves.  

And when all else fails, I'll daydream with pictures from last year's summer of bliss.  Boy, do I remember that tan baby and his sun bleached hair!





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