Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Baking Some "Treats"

Polymer clay pie slices!
On Sunday, Big Girl and I had a mother-daughter crafting date. Her piano teacher had told us about these videos on You Tube which demonstrate how to make mini food out of polymer clay. Well, Big Girl and I took one look at those videos and we were hooked.

Last week, polymer clay was 40 percent off at Michaels so we knew that was a sign to go get our supplies. She picked out two different things to make and we headed out to get our clay.

On Sunday, with the twins in the rooms for a nap and my husband out golfing, we sat down and unwrapped our clay packages and got to work. We had so much fun that 3 hours passed by in the blink-of-an-eye!

Big Girl making "cherry pie filling."
We first tried our hand at mini pie slices: cherry, blueberry and apple. Of course, we could not get it to look as good as the video, but I think they can out pretty cute. Big Girl is having her birthday party this weekend, and wants to make some blueberry slices as charms for her friends for party favors. (Blueberry because her party is Greek mythology/Percy Jackson based, and if you know anything about the Percy Jackson books, his mom always made him blue food for special occasions.)

I only mastered one apple pie slice, but I plan on trying to make more. My favorite is the cherry, because cherry pie is so cute, right?

I'm embedding the tutorial from YouTube below. The artist is Toni Ellison, and her work is amazing. She is what I consider a generous artist, since she shares so many of her secrets in these wonderful tutorials.

Big Girl also wanted to make the lemonade drink from the Starbucks tutorial. I worked on this one while she worked on her blueberry pies. Oddly enough, the "lemonade" is actually glow-in-the-dark clay! Here's a really bad pic of our finished drinks, complete with Starbucks logo, ice cubes on top and a green straw:

Blurry pic of our Starbucks lemonade charms...

I just couldn't get a good pic. They are definitely not as good as Toni Ellison's version, but they are cute none-the-less!

Here's the video for the lemonade as well as several Starbucks drinks:

This was such a fun project. We would like to make several more things we've seen on YouTube... Being a coffee drinker, I would love to make the coffee. We also want to try the pop tarts, cakes, ice creams... They are all so cute! We will likely use some in our dollhouse, and larger versions would make really good American Girl food. You can add the eye hooks to make charms like we did for some of them, and turn them into necklaces, earrings, or even create a charm bracelet.

(I'm actually thinking ahead to Christmas... Um, did I just say that? :) But seriously, how cute would one of those Starbucks charms be, when packaged with a $5 Starbucks gift card? So cute!)

And the best part about our Sunday afternoon craft project? Spending quality time with my daughter.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Big Apple Birthday!

Heading to the Big City!
Big Girl wanted to go to New York for her birthday. It's not an unusual request, since we are only about 2 hours away. We can drive or take the train -- the latter is easier, with a 90-minute ride without traffic, and that is what Big Girl wanted to do, so off we headed to the train station on Thursday morning. My mom offered to watch the little ones, which was easier than dragging them to the city.

Big Girl has a summer birthday, and since she was one year old, it has been a tradition to go on some sort of day trip on her actual birthday. We have been to zoos, aquariums, American Girl stores and more for her big day. This year she wanted to go to New York, particuarly to the American Girl store and LEGO shop. We took her to American Girl in NYC for her 5th birthday, and that year we had her birthday lunch in the cafe. This year, we were not going to have lunch there, but she wanted to shop and see all the treasures from the catalog in person.

Posing with "Girl of the Year" McKenna outside American Girl NY
Armed with birthday money from her grandparents and a promise from Mom and Dad for a trinket or two, we arrived at Grand Central with no expectations. No grand plans. That always makes the best day, doesn't it? We had the threat of awful storms, but the rain stayed away. The weather was sunny, hot and humid.

American Girl is just a few blocks from Grand Central, so we headed there first. It was not crowded, which was a blessing. We walked around the several floors of displays and enjoyed looking at all the adorable doll merchandise.

Molly doll display
Julie's new car

Molly's kitchen display -- can I live here? Totally my style.
Big Girl may be 10 years old now, but she loves her American Girl stuff. With her birthday money, she picked out a pair of pajamas and a dog for her McKenna doll, a book on Internet safety, and we offered to get her the cute flute set for her doll, since she is taking flute lessons when school begins.

The new treat counter at American Girl New York -- no reservations necessary.
I have been to the New York AG store many times, but they have made a few changes since the last time I was there. I was happy to see that they now have a little bakery counter where you can buy a treat to enjoy. The cafe requires reservations and can be expensive for lunch, so this little counter is a great way for patrons to please little girls without having to shell out big bucks for a meal in the cafe. (We have had lunch at both the New York and Boston AG stores for previous birthdays. I consider it more of a once-in-a-lifetime sort of experience, I think. I'm sure we'll be back to dine at AG when Bunny Twin is old enough.)

Giant LEGO dragon over Giant LEGO NYC complete with LEGO Rockefeller Center -- impressive model!
After our American Girl stop, we headed to the LEGO store, which is at Rockefeller Center -- just about two blocks or so from American Girl. I have to say that the LEGO store was kind of a disappointment. The selection is OK, but the layout is very poor, it was incredibly crowded and the Choose-A-Brick wall was a giant disappointment. They tout it as a the biggest Choose-A-Brick wall ever, but you can only pick from certain buckets and the rest is just fake displays. Ugh. Big Girl was hoping to get a good selection of extra bricks, and was not happy to see how few choices she had.

(FYI, LEGO fans/moms: The Choose-A-Brick wall in the Natick, Mass. LEGO store is actually much better despite it's small size. And the Natick mall with LEGO is actually where the Boston American Girl is located. And it's right off the highway, with free parking...)

Disappointing Choose-A-Brick wall, with fake displays :(
After taking a quick walk around Rockefeller Center, staring into the Today Show studio (and lamenting how my Matt Lauer is in London right now -- :( sniff!) we made our way toward Broadway and Times Square to this:

Big Girl on Broadway
Ellen's Stardust Diner! Have you ever been here? They have singing waiters. Big Girl was intrigued since recently, on her fave Disney show "Austin & Ally," they had a diner with singing waiters. This was a little different, as they didn't sing menus and food options like on her show, but show tunes and pop tunes to the whole assembled dining crowd. It's definitely a fun place!

Singing waiters, all the time -- it's like dining in a "Glee" episode.
The food was decent and we didn't have to wait. The singing wait staff are very campy and showy and funny, which is amusing. I knew I was in for a good show when we walked in and two waiters were belting out Guns'N'Roses "Sweet Child of Mine!"

After lunch, we walked through Times Square to visit the Disney Store, of course. Any possible Disney fix is a necessity! The store was great, so big and a perfect place to shop for little ones. If it was closer to the holidays I think I would have stocked up on some special things, but I didn't have the extra cash to get anything right now.

NY Mickey
We escaped the Disney store without a purchase, and headed over to the Times Square Toys'R'Us, where Big Girl wanted to take a turn on the giant Ferris Wheel in Toys'R'Us.

The Ferris Wheel at Toys'R'Us in Times Square -- huge, huge, huge!
It is so high and huge and kind of scared me, to be honest! (I am not an amusement ride sort-of-person.) She loved it, despite her scared-of-heights parents clutching on for dear life...

Hanging on for dear life, five stories up...
After that, we headed back to Grand Central to try and catch the last off-peak train home. We made it, and still had time to pick up two little souvenirs for the twins, as well as much-needed cold drinks on this hot and humid day.

Toy taxis for the twins!
At home, it was time for cake and singing with siblings, who had practiced their "Happy Birthday" songs all day with their grandmother...
Time for ice cream cake, candles and singing!
Big Girl blew out her candles, and said she didn't make a wish because she didn't need to. I love her.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Berry Pickin'

Two-year-old expert berry pickers.

Every year we go blueberry picking at a berry farm in our town. We all enjoy the adventure. It's a very peaceful farm in the country, and it's fun do something very hands-on that yields a yummy treat.

Rows and rows and rows of blueberries!!!

It's easy to fill a bucket!
We are blueberry eaters in our house. The kids love blueberries and could eat them all day long. You might imagine what would happen when these treats are right at their fingertips...

Big Girl has been doing this since she was a tot!

It was prime picking time...

The twins had their own buckets to fill... although they filled their bellies instead!
It's amazing that my kids didn't blow up into a blueberry like Violet in "Willy Wonka." The twins sat in their wagon and "helped" by eating out of their own buckets. And came home with stained clothes and smeared faces.

They held up pretty well on the adventure, although they were definitely ready to go by the time we went home. I'm sure that wanted out of the wagon, but I knew if I unstrapped them they would have scurried off into the woods and into a berry-eatin' bear den before I could catch them.

So instead we curbed a whiny moment by visiting the scarecrow.

Hi Mr. Scarecrow!

Returning our pails

And then we went home with our freshly-picked fruit... Are muffins in our future? :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Happy Birthday to my biggest girl!

I cannot say how happy this little girl has made me in my life. She made me a mom and she made us a family. She has been such a joy to watch grow, a joy to parent, a joy to my life... I am always amazed at how good and kind her heart is... How smart she is and how she always is excited to learn... How she always truly wants to do the right thing... What a loving, wonderful big sister she is after being an only child for so long and surviving the chaos that is twin siblings... What a great sense of humor she has and what an old soul she is... How she still wants to be a "kid" and play and enjoy life, yet she knows when to behave when needed... She makes it easy to be a parent.

We love you so much.

Now please stop growing up!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Officially Contributing

A blog post that I spruced up and sent to Yahoo! Voices is now published. If you didn't read it the first time around, please check it out on Yahoo: Memories Rise From the Rubble.

I'm trying to work my way into the contributor network and it's definitely a learning experience!

And welcome to anyone who made their way here from Multiples and More!

We have a busy week here at The Peapod. Tomorrow is Big Girl's 10th Birthday! I can't believe she is going to be 10 years old. Time flies, doesn't it? A whole decade. Double digits. It's all just too much for this mom to really digest just yet.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hi!! Welcome!!!

Blast from the past, for readers old and new:
Big Girl reads to the twins on Dr. Suess' birthday in 2010.
Be sure to visit Multiples and More today -- I'm the featured blogger of the week!

And if you are stopping by as a new reader, WELCOME! I'm so glad to meet you! I hope you stick around and come back for more. I try to post every weekday, and I'm always looking for advice on raising my multiples, so feel free to comment.

Here's a general question for anyone willing to bite: My twins are SO active and it's hard to get them to sit down and focus sometimes. And if they are misbehaving, it's hard to get them to focus on me telling them to stop what they are doing. They are very stubborn and determined! At this age, my older daughter would sit and color -- without running around and writing on the walls... Or she could actually handle sitting and watching a 30-minute TV show; it's hard to find anything that these two will focus on for more than a second.

Any advice, moms of many? How do you practice listening skills with your toddlers?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Adding Color

Life can be pretty gray sometimes, with all its mundane tasks and responsibilities and obligations and twists and turns. And although I will never turn a blind eye to it all, I'm trying to add some color to the insanity of it all, crossing things off our summer bucket list. Cleaning up the closets and rooms that are getting on my nerves. Planning ahead and making life easier.

Friday was a dreary, rainy day, but oh, how we needed that rain! We had a horrible heatwave and it was starting to get on my nerves -- it was humid and hot, yet everything growing in the yard seemed so dry... The rain was a wlecome end to the heat, and by Friday night, the cool air felt so good! On Saturday night, Big Girl and I went to a local park for an outdoor movie, and it was actually quite chilly when the sun went down.

Big Girl watches the start of "Toy Story 2" under a warm blanket.
Big Girl turns 10 on Thursday! 10!!!! I truly cannot believe it. My little girl is a decade old. It seems practically impossible, but it's true. Time flies...

As you might imagine, I am in the midst of birthday planning... We are inviting a few friends over in two weeks for a party and I'm hoping that summer vacation plans don't get in the way of her friends being able to attend the fun. She wants a pool/mythology party. Yes, you read that right. Mythology. It's a end result of being obsessed with Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson" books. I'm got some creative planning ahead of me. I've been "pinning" ideas on Pinterest :)

Potty training is looming for the little ones, who are now 2 1/2 and starting to acknowledge bathroom signs. I guess I'll be pinning ideas for potty training twins too :) Look for a post on that in the future!

And in other news: I'm a featured blogger on Multiples and More tomorrow! Be sure to click on the link for my interview.

Friday, July 20, 2012

New Opportunities

When life hands you lemons, what you do? Make lemonade, of course!

Since I love writing, and I love my family and being home with them, I was trying to find a way to be productive without having to work outside the home. I am pursuing several online writing opportunties, none of which promise to pay the mortgage but every little bit helps, right?

The first place you might find me is on Yahoo! I signed up to be contributor to Yahoo! Voices. I am hoping my contributions will make it through the editor's approval and on the site within the next week or so. Page views matter, so share anything you like with your friends and family. If you like what you read here, you will enjoy my contributions, since I hope to submit content with a similar style and helpful tone, including information on twins, parenting and mom issues, crafting, gardening, baking, writing, and life in general.

Check out my online profile here, and subscribe or add me to your favorites or just check back regularly! Thank you for all your support, and comments, as always. You are my sunshine on a cloudy day, as they say :)

You can also sign up to follow this blog on its Facebook page, where I will likely post information on all my ventures as well.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Slump

I am definitely going through a summer slump this week. So much to think about -- Big Girl's activities and her approaching birthday and the plans and presents that accompany it, doctor's appointments, surviving a heatwave in the Northeast, Internet not working with writing assignments due, bills to pay with little money easily accessible to pay them... yada yada yada. Oh, and one of our frogs died this week, which was emotional for Big Girl. Our dog passes away almost a year ago, and this was a sad reminder of losing pets.

As moms, we try to hold it all together, all the time. And sometimes we can't. This was one of those weeks for me. I just was a puddle of mush. I read once that tears are not a sign of weakness but a sign of having to be strong for too long. I like that. I feel like I am always trying to hold it together. Call it SuperMom syndrome, or what you will, but there is a lot of pressure to make sure one is a good parent and makes the right decisions for one's family and has a clean house with good food on the table and clean children with their hair combed and the lawn mowed and the gardens weeded. That sort of thing.

All moms, whether SAHMs or WAHMs or working moms, have a lot of stress on them most of the time. It's hard to be a good parent and juggle everything in the 21st century. Life is so different now than it was for me as a child, in so many ways... There were not as many activities for kids or the pressure to provide kids with many activities. And just take the added financial stresses: When I was growing up, living a somewhat middle-class life didn't require the amount of money it does today. Today, we have cell phone and cable and internet bills... Sure, we could live without cable, but my husband and I don't go out very much, so it is our one source of entertainment. As for cell phones, I don't have a smart phone. I need internet service for work as well as for Big Girl for school.

And speaking of school, there are fees and fundraisers and donations. Big Girl doesn't play sports, but she does have music lessons. And she has a Faith Formation class through our church. And Girl Scouts. And I allowed her two paid activities this summer -- one is a LEGO Robotics class, which is this week, and another is a babysitting course next month (the latter is more for my benefit, since she has the twin siblings and I'm hoping it will give her some tips for being a good helpful big sister. And they teach CPR in it! Bonus!). There are school supplies to purchase. And in the very near future she will need orthodontic work.

And then there is rising cost of gas for the car -- my husband has a longer commute to work so gas is quite an expense for us. Last year his car finally died, so he needed a new car. We are juggling two car payments for the time being, which is a big chunk of money.)

So, after a day or two of feeling sorry for myself, I am trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps, as they say, and put on my big girl pants. First up: I need to bring in more income, however difficult that is for me with the twin toddlers at home. And the only way I know how to do that right now is to write from home. I'm pursuing additional assignments for my job to start. And this blog is something I love, so I will continue to do it -- however, I am thinking of "monetizing it," i.e. adding advertisements. Since I enjoy this outlet for my writing -- and I hope you all do too! -- I would like to be able to pour my ideas here yet see if I can earn enough to aid my family. I'm not expecting it to change the way I deal with anything I write about in any way, and I will always keep a full disclosure if it does.

Now, off to take care of the kids. Hope you enjoyed a little honesty!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Favorite Gadget!

That's my Nook Color under that green leather cover.
The best present my husband ever gave me -- other than my children! -- was my Nook Color. I just love this gadget! I got it for Christmas, in 2010, and I love it.

I used to call it my "poor man's iPad," since several of my friends got iPads around that time, and the Nook Color is basically a tablet with a less expensive price tag. That said, I sometimes think I like it better than an iPad. It's small, it fits in my purse, and I can surf the Web, read a book, play a game, etc., with it. It's such a fun little gadget that I've used more than any other gadget I've ever gotten in my life. And my husband is a gadget person, so I've gotten various gadgets that haven't been used as much.

I thought it was funny when such a hullabaloo errupted when the Kindle Fire came out -- it was basically the same thing as a Nook Color. Both are e-readers/tablets. But one is made by Barnes & Noble, the other by giant Amazon, therefore the latter got hype like nothing existed prior.

Although I still like to own real books, I don't mind reading books on my Nook either -- especially books that I know I might not read again. My own complaint re: Nook books (and Kindle books too, when researching) is the price. I know we are paying for the intellectual property (the words and ideas) of the book -- and as a writer, I respect that -- it just seems that if you are buying a book and not getting a hard copy of it, it should be cheaper than the hard copy.

I have found a lot of free Nook books. And offers for free Nook books on Fridays. Some are not exactly enticing, but they are free to load on your device for when you are searching for something new.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Special Presentation

Do you remember when you were a kid, and something "special" was going to be on TV that night? It could have been a holiday program, or some other special program, but you were excited to see something on the tube. In my childhood home, it usually meant getting in your PJs on time, Mom making homemade popcorn, and sitting down on the couch with a blanket or a pillow on the floor waiting for that show to start. It all seemed so EXCITING, didn't it?

I never feel that the current childhood generation has that same feeling. Everything is on DVD, there are a million channels instead of just a couple of networks, and nothing much seems to capture the collective group as those TV specials (or TV programs in general) did a long time ago.

The other night, however, I think my daughter had a similar experience from my youth, however. NBC was airing a new American Girl movie, based on its current girl of the year, McKenna. Big Girl has that doll and has read the books numerous times, and we had marked the calendar a long time ago for this special movie. She was really looking forward to it, and even though we had a busy day, she raced in the house from playing the year, eager to shower and put her PJs on before the movie started.

Popcorn was being made from scratch, of course, and while I prepared the snack she was busy setting up the living room. When I delivered her treat, this was the scene:

Doll and daughter dressed alike, both with "popcorn." Big Girl was very ready for this movie.

The movie was sweet, held some lessons, and we both enjoyed watching it on the small screen. (I was kind of disappointed to see the DVD release in Walmart a few days before the NBC airing -- couldn't they wait until AFTER it aired on TV?)

Do you remember those TV specials
with as much fondness as I do?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ride like the Wind!

Big Girl has been intimidated by her bike. For years, she has avoided mastering the two-wheel thing, and it has been slightly frustrating to me. And has made me feel like a parental failure. She is not a sports-oriented child, and does not like to get hurt, so the trial-and-error process of staying upright and pedaling has been a challenge. There has been a lot of coaxing. And resistance. And avoidance.

That said, time has been ticking. She is getting older. And when I created the Summer Bucket List, learning to ride a bike was included. She still resisted, but I told her it's like learning to swim. You just need to learn how to do it. And you need to learn how to do it now or it will be so much harder.

Her old bike is quite small now, but I figured at least balancing on it could start the process. My parents offered to get her a new bike for her birthday, an incentive for the process. And then, enter my father: He said, "I'm taking her out to learn. Tomorrow."

It is so hard sometimes, especially with the twins and a husband who works a lot, to find time to do the simplest things, so having Grampy step in and take the lead was fine with me. He is patient, and he taught both me and my brother, so I figured it would go well with my sensitive Big Girl. He packed up the old bike and took her to a parking lot. I did not go with them, but the report was this: It will take more than one lesson, obviously, and her legs are so long that a new bike would definitely be helpful.

We headed out the next day and picked out
a new bike as an early birthday gift:

Isn't it cute? It's Big Girl's favorite color. With the new bike,  Big Girl was motivated. She found her groove. We came home and she started hopping around on the driveway on it. I thought she might break a leg, and I thought it might be too big for her to learn, but she showed perserverence and motivation. She would go out in that driveway and try, come in and take a break, then ask to go back out again. I let her fool around on it, wanting to capitalize on her motivation.

The next day, we went back to the big parking lot with Grampy and the new bike. Within a half hour. She was managing to coast along on her own. She came home and practiced in the driveway, on and off, in the afternoon. I would watch her out the window, and was so proud of her for not giving up. I was so surprised a few times to see her on two wheels for the length of the driveway. She was figuring out to start off on her own without someone giving her a push.

A trip to another parking lot at night after dinner, with the whole family, and it was like she had been riding forever. I didn't have to help her at all, not even to start. She just got on that bike and rode along like it was nothing:

Only two lessons. A new bike. A proud mom. And a confident daughter. So relieved!

Now, here's the catch: I always told her when she learned how to ride a bike, I could get a bike too. She reminded me of that last night, after I took a spin on hers around the parking lot. Of course, it's not in the budget immediately, but one can window shop, right? I starting "pinning" to my Pinterest wishlist board, of course.

I found a few cute ones. This one is my dream bike!

I love the colors, and the plaid -- so retro-vintage cute. The only catch is that it's $355 and I know I can find a decent bike cheaper, especially since I won't be riding daily or crazy like my mountain-biking husband who thinks he is 15 years old and in the X Games (until the morning after when his body is aching :)

This one is more affordable, and still cute, with it's argyle pattern:

Of course, neither would be complete without an adorable basket on the front. I am actually looking forward to coasting along with the wind in my hair now. There's nothing like a leisurely bike ride to make one feel like a kid again. And now I'm so glad my kid will get the chance to enjoy this simple outdoor activity.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Simple Summer Supper

I'm not food stylist or food photographer, but you get it, right?

Sometimes it's best not to overthink things. Like dinner.

I was out of ideas for supper, Hubby was golfing and I wanted to have a quick easy meal.

I had a wealth of pasta on hand, but I didn't want another tomato sauce-laden meal. I wanted pasta without sauce, light and easy. I had a bunch of grape tomatoes on hand, so I just cut them in half, cooked them in olive oil and garlic with some onions, and mixed it in with some bow-tie pasta. Parmesan cheese and fresh basil from the garden finished it off.

Light and simple and easy and a break from pasta with tomato sauce, which has become a frugal staple in this house. Improvising solved a meal dilemna that night and didn't cut into the food budget by succumbing to take-out!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vermont Garden

When I was in Vermont, I came across the prettiest garden! It was a kitchen garden outside the Timbers restaurant at Sugarbush ski area's Lincoln Peak. I feel in love with its organized neatness, mountain prettiness, the birch trellises and the planting patterns. I wish my garden was this beautiful! Enjoy the photos and I hope you are as inspired as I was by its beauty.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Vintage TV


Within a week, two things reminded me of how much I love everything old, even TV.
The Hallmark Channel had a "Lucy" marathon, and then Andy Griffith passed away.

I have always loved "I Love Lucy." When I was a little girl, my mom always had the re-runs on, and I grew up laughing at Lucy's antics. I still enjoy watching "Lucy" re-runs when they are on, and I always encouraged Big Girl to watch them too. During the recent marathon, Big Girl was sitting on the couch, watching them on her own, and laughing and laughing. It made me happy to see her enjoying it. Good TV really does stand the test of time, and span generations.

As a mom, I can get pretty aggravated when the Disney Channel overtakes my house. Although Big Girl seems to enjoy many of the programs, she did say something interesting in the car one day:

"Mom, I sometimes think when I'm watching something on the Disney Channel, 'Would Walt Disney approve of this?'"

I asked her what made her think of that.

"Every since I read his biography, I remember how he made things for families. And sometimes Disney isn't appropriate, or for families."

I told her she was right, and that I was so happy to hear her say that.

As much as I love Disney things (and Disney World!), the Disney Channel definitely disappoints me often. It seems too "old" for tweens, much of the time, and many of the characters have sassy attitudes and the mouths that go along with that.

And many of the programs present characters who walk around thinking, acting and dressing like rock stars instead of kids. And kids idolize these characters.

I do let Big Girl watch the Disney Channel, because as someone who follows pop culture, and remembers what it was like to be a kid, I want her to somewhat be in the loop. That said, I voice my displeasure when I think something isn't right, or nice, so she can recognize it. It seems to have worked.

I also try to create a healthy balance by exposing her to what I consider good TV, and some of it includes old stuff, like "Lucy." When Andy Griffith passed away, I thought about searching out some re-runs of his old show -- although I have to admit I didn't enjoy it as much as a kid. We do watch "Little House on the Prairie" re-runs because of my Laura fascination, but I avoid certain depressing episodes (and always, always, the two "Sylvia" episodes which involve rape).

There is another show that has particularly appealed to Big Girl: "The Brady Bunch." I thought she might like it, so we got her some DVDs a few years ago and we have really enjoyed watching them as a family. We have all the seasons now except the last one. It's fun to re-watch this show now, as an adult and parent. (Oddly enough, my husband and I were shocked when Mike & Carol let Marcia just go out on a date in 8th grade, by herself, walking home alone... Seems like such a ridiculous thing to allow now with all the psychos out there.)

I'm always on the lookout for decent family entertainment. Big Girl did go through a "Full House" phase, watching the re-runs. I'm thinking of trying to get her to sample "Gilligan's Island," another favorite of my youth. I'm sure "Bewitched" might be fun too.

And of course, she clearly does enjoy "Lucy," and asked to watch the DVD when we were in Vermont recently (where there is no cable). We had a bag of DVDs, and she still chose the vintage show.

If any TV producers are reading this, please, please, please create some appropriate programming for families and kids. We need decent laughs today, fun family stuff. We need a Mayberry. We need a cast of characters who remind us how to be decent individuals. We need something we can all watch together, and all enjoy. There's not a lot of that out there lately.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mom's Summer Reading

I don't have a lot of time to read. While my friends are devouring the "50 Shades" trilogy -- which doesn't appeal to me, in any way (and not because of the *ahem* sex, but the story itself) -- I was just hoping that I could read something this summer. It is hard to find the time to read anything of length anymore, with little ones buzzing around, and at night I'm just too tired to concentrate on words on a page without falling asleep!

I am a devoted reader of Sugar Pie Farmhouse and when Aunt Ruthie suggested this Fannie Flagg book, I was intrigued. And dowloaded it to my Nook immediately. We had a 5-day vacation looming, with no cable TV, and I thought it would give me time to read, possibly.

Now, I love to read. Books were the backbone of my youth. I have a master's in English lit. But like I said, finding time to read lately has been a challenge. And I have high standards now because my time is limited. It must suck me in. Must not be ridiculously unrealistic. Must not be depressing. And must make me happy. I am quite picky in my old age, when it comes to books. "Twilight" was not for me; I tried. And "50 Shades" just doesn't appeal to me.

So what does appeal to me? I will read just about anything by Alice Hoffman. And I loved, loved, loved "The Help." I love lighthearted things with quirky characters, and a small town feeling definitely adds to the charm. And I am often drawn to stories which take place in the South. This Fannie Flagg book seemed right up my alley. And it was!

"Standing in the Rainbow" was such a warm reminder the old days, of small towns, of family and neighbors and how simple things sometimes get so complicated as time goes on. It made me long for the past, in many ways, but it also reminded me of how I want life to be, too.
To say I loved this book was an understatement. I found any minute I could to read it. I loved it. And was sad when it ended. And looked up other related Fannie Flagg books to download when I got home. My next choice is this one. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done.

I'm thinking this may be a Fannie Flagg-sort-of-summer. I'm hoping to have the time to finish each and every one. How 'bout you?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Vermont Vacation

Last week, we took a little vacation in Vermont at our family cabin. We had a lovely time and it was good to get away from the everyday routine, unplug (no technology!) and relax with loved ones. Everyone needed a break, and enjoyed our time in the slow lane with the simple life.

Twins watch the 4th of July parade.
Big Girl poses with a cow!
Sunset on the 4th of July


Big Girl poses as a cow to entertain the twins.

American Flatbread

Flatbread's "The Lorax" garden

Waitsfield covered bridge, rebuilt after last year's flood.

Bunny Twin walks with her grandmother.

Big Girl poses in VT

My 3 beautiful kids -- although Buddy Twin is squinching his face...

Bunny Twin admires her late great-grandmother's flowers

Buddy Twin plays with old LEGOs at the cabin


Big Girl tends the campfire with her Girl Scout skills.