May 31, 2011

Starting Summer in Maine

I love the beach.  I always have.  Before kids, I loved it for the magnificence of the ocean, the peacefulness of the waves, the warmth of the sun, and the feel of the sand between my toes.  I still love it for these things, but now I mostly love it for the joy I see in my kids when they are there.  The little guy promptly creates a hole in which to sit and dig.  The big guy wants to chase the waves along the water's edge, over and over and over again, squealing happy squeals. 

We took a quick trip to Maine this weekend.  We visited a picturesque Maine town and a beach that a friend aptly described as "a kid's paradise".  My big boy was pretty upset that we had to come home.  He said to me later that afternoon, "Mom, I like everything about Maine."  I do too.  We are already planning our next trip up there. 

The rest of our weekend was filled with wonderful start-of-summer activities - riding bikes, blowing bubbles, eating outside, and running through the sprinkler.  Summer has officially begun. 

May 27, 2011

Other Lives - For 12

This week's music pick is Other Lives.  I like this song from their latest album, Tamer Animals.

image via Filter Magazine

May 26, 2011

Strawberry Print

I'm starting to think about details for our new kitchen.  I find myself looking at faucets and cabinet pulls and window treatments in all the pictures I see.  I wonder if we'll have any wall space.  This pretty print would be lovely in a white kitchen.  

May 25, 2011

Sunshine, Planning, and Hugs

1.  We walked outside in the morning, and the big boy exclaimed, "Mom!  It's warm outside!  I don't even need a jacket and I'm wearing short sleeves and shorts!"  Finally, it appears warmer weather and sunshine have arrived.

2.  I had the first meeting with our contractors today, to discuss the big house renovation.  Even though we won't do the actual work until next year, I am SO excited to get started!  

3.  The running hugs and kisses I get when I pick up the boys from school are the best.  With my 4 and almost-2 year olds, I think I am at the height of affection right now.  I am going to savor all these hugs and kisses and cuddles.  

source unknown

May 23, 2011

Photo of the Day

One shot from the spring festival at the farm this weekend.  My boys and their friends.  Looking ridiculously cute in their baseball hats. more.  This awesome dude bringing me flowers...

Weekend Recap

Did you all have a wonderful weekend?  Ours was a good one.  Kinda makes it hard to start the week, actually.  But next weekend is a long one, and we're taking Friday off to make it extra long.  I think I can make it through a few days until then.

A few scenes from the weekend:
1.  Joy Kills Sorrow concert on Friday night.  Fun to get out, and it was a good show.
2.  Spring festival at our community farm.  We went with friends and their two little boys, so all four boys had a ton of fun running around the farm.
3.  Chocolate chip zucchini bread.  Another chilly and cloudy Sunday afternoon, so I kept the oven on.  My big boy and I baked this yummy bread, and then I roasted a chicken.  Kevin said the house smelled like Thanksgiving. 
4.  I love de-cluttering and getting stuff done.  We cleaned out the freezer (so it's not only clean, but it closes properly again!) and I got rid of a few big items.  The house feels lighter. 
5.  The big boy is getting pretty good at hitting balls off his tee. He is so proud and excited too. Looking forward to little league...

This week's goals:
1.  Get rid of some more stuff. 
2.  Go to bed early.  The bags under my eyes are out of control. 
3.  Make doctor appointments for me and the boys.  That means finding a doctor for me. 
4.  Make peace with the rain.  (It didn't happen last week, so let's try again.)
5.  Take deep breaths and be mindful of all the good things in my life.

May 20, 2011

Joy Kills Sorrow

We're going to see a concert tonight.  That makes me happy.  It's a local band called Joy Kills Sorrow.  Here's a link to their performance on Mountain Stage at NPR as well if you want to check them out.  They're often compared to Crooked Still, because they're a Boston band with bluegrass roots.  I'm looking forward to seeing them!

photo by Brian Blauser for NPR Mountain Stage

Parks and Rec

original source unknown

It's the end of the regular TV season.  Once you watch all those season finales, you might want a little something to keep you entertained through the summer (not even Mad Men this year!).  Might I suggest Parks and Recreation? I kept hearing good things about it and decided to give it a shot.  It makes me giggle.  I also actually like the characters.  I haven't gone all the way back to the beginning, but I can vouch for this season.  Good stuff.  

May 19, 2011

Summer Fun List

via HarperGrace's etsy shop - I love this and think I must have it

Memorial Day is coming up, and with it the unofficial start of Summer.  It's time to create our annual list of fun things to do!  We managed to check off everything on our list last summer, and I'll be determined to do the same this year.   The list is pretty similar, but I'm getting more input from my big boy this year, so you may notice some of his suggestions along the way - spider hunting, anyone?

  • Go strawberry-picking
  • Go to the farmer's market and buy something we've never tried before
  • Blow bubbles
  • Take a walk through the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chase fireflies
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Take a trip to Lake Ontario to visit family
  • Ride bikes
  • Make cookies
  • Go into the city - maybe swan boats and carousel again?
  • Sleep on an airplane
  • Go to the beach
  • Swim in a pool
  • Have Teddy and Michael over to our house to play
  • Make sangria...a lot of sangria
  • Celebrate the little boy's 2nd birthday
  • Visit the fire station
  • Make something new on the grill
  • Take the big boy to see Cars 2 in the movie theater 
  • Have a cookout with the neighbors
  • Decorate and play with boxes outside
  • Go cherry/peach/blueberry picking
  • Make cobbler
  • Make a new music playlist for the kids
  • Turn up the music and dance
  • Make homemade popsicles
  • Get a new kiddie pool
  • Draw pictures of our house and/or family portraits
  • Take the big boy to a baseball game
  • Go spider hunting
  • Go caterpillar hunting
  • Go worm hunting
  • Read books
  • Turn the TV off for a week (at least)
  • Go canoeing
  • Watch a movie and eat popcorn on a rainy day
  • Take a picnic
  • Try a family backyard campout again - maybe with Mom this time?
  • Run through the sprinkler
  • Visit the playground
  • Go see animals at the farm
  • Make homemade lemonade
  • Take a long walk
  • Take a trip to ITALY!
    • Learn some basic Italian words and phrases
    • Eat gelato every day
    • Swim in the pool
    • Visit Siena, San Gimignano, and other beautiful Italian towns
    • Eat outside as much as possible
    • Try a food we don't normally eat
    • Walk through Florence and marvel at the art and architecture
    • Take a picnic
    • Visit a vineyard - learn a little about Italian wine
    • Try fresh olive oil and buy some to bring home

May 18, 2011

Naps, Coats, and Fresh Asparagus

image from Sherbet Blossom

1.  Sunday afternoon nap.  My little boy upstairs in his crib, my big boy asleep at my feet.  I got to spend an hour reading.  In the middle of the day.  I had to keep reminding myself that it's okay - of course there are things that could be done, but it's okay to relax.  

2.  My Spring coat.  I started looking for a new one, but found my old one in the upstairs closet.  I forgot how much I like it.  

3.  Fresh asparagus.  I love the varied sizes and imperfections found in vegetables from the farmer's market.  And the taste!  No comparison.  An added bonus that it's my big boy's favorite vegetable.  

May 17, 2011

Sometimes I Like to Yell with the Boys

I know I post a lot of indie and folk and acoustic music here, but I have to be honest and tell you that every now and then I feel the need to rock out.

Foo Fighters is one of my favorite rock bands.  One of the things I've always loved about them is their ability to play soft as well as loud.  And even when they're loud, their lyrics are interesting and seem to have real meaning.  I also love that this album sounds like it was made in someone's garage - the sound is authentic and not overproduced.  (Update:  I just found out it actually was made in Dave Grohl's garage!) I've been getting a lot of looks on the highway as I learn the words and scream along with Dave Grohl during my commute to work.

Oh how I do love the Beastie Boys.  I am not a hip-hop or rap fan overall - I really don't know much about the genre.  What I do know, though, is that I've liked Beastie Boys for over 20 years.  Maybe that's what it is.  Listening to them makes me feel like a teenager again.  Whatever it is, I am digging their new album.

May 16, 2011

Weekend and Goals

I guess Blogger decided to remind us all to take a break from blogging.  I gotta say...I didn't like it.  I missed this beautiful little blogging community!  So while tons of people start looking at Wordpress and other blogging platforms, I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that Blogger fixed their issues.  I don't have time to figure out how to move. 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  Here are a few highlights from mine:

1.  We met some friends at the farmer's market on Saturday.  My big boy gave a running hug to one of his best friends.  So cute!
2.  Another core workout.  I'm feeling strong.  Sore, but strong.
3.  Dinner Saturday night included fresh scallops (swordfish for K) and asparagus from the farmer's market. 
4.  The boys spent a significant amount of time decorating and playing in large boxes. 
5.  I read "Bossypants".  I splurged and got it for myself, and it was totally worth it.  It's very funny and strengthened my love for Tina Fey.  Thinking I should give it away to someone else who would appreciate it.  Feel free to let me know if you are that person.

This week's goals:
1.  Create posts on Craig's List for all of the unwanted stuff in our "crap room".  (What?  You all don't have a room in your house designated for crap?)
2.  Make plans/reservations for Memorial Day weekend.  We're thinking of taking a little trip. 
3.  Bring more recent photos to display on my desk at work.  Looking at those gorgeous faces helps get me through the day.
4.  Make peace with the rain.
5.  Smile as much as possible. 

May 13, 2011

Jenny O. - Well OK Honey

This week's music pick is Jenny O.  This song will have you tapping your toes and clapping along.

Have a happy weekend!

May 11, 2011

Sunny Mornings, Good News, and Help

This week's Three Beautiful Things:

1.  Waking up to bright sun and singing birds.

2.  An email from an old friend.  News of a new and healthy baby girl.

3.  My big boy the other night:  "Mom, can I help you clean up?  You can show me how to load the dishwasher."  He followed my directions and was happy and proud when we were done.

May 10, 2011

Recently Read - The Tiger's Wife

The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht.  This is a complex book, and it makes it difficult to describe.  There are three main storylines, and it can be difficult to keep up if you are not able to devote adequate time to reading.  It's not a book you can just pop in and out of.  The narrator, Natalia Stefavoni, is a doctor working in the Balkans.  She is on her way to an orphanage to deliver medicine when she learns her grandfather has died.  The book is a reflection on her grandfather's life and her relationship with him.

The writing is exquisite, and the stories are intriguing and beautiful.  Some of the characters, including the narrator, are less developed than I'd want them to be.  The descriptions of places and events, however, are told in fantastic detail, and it is easy to obtain her vision.  I was enthralled in the book and fascinated by it.  In the end, I'll admit I was slightly disappointed, because I didn't feel like there was a single unifying theme or conclusion.  But perhaps that's okay.  I'd still recommend it to anyone.

Here's the NY Times Book Review if you'd like to read more.

May 9, 2011

Weekend and Goals

Hmmm...How'd I do last week?  Well, I cheered up a little, but I'll be honest - this may be a tougher year than I anticipated.   The trip to the lake is booked - yay!  Babysitter came so we could have a date night.  I finished my book.  And I'm definitely feeling better.  Somehow I think the wine helped more than the water, but...  

 Yes, I think I'm liking these little goals.

 Highlights from the weekend:
1.  The first outdoors farmer's market of the year.  It's growing, and they have some new merchants adding their goods to the mix.  Good stuff.  We got some excellent cheddar cheese, salmon, greenhouse tomatoes, and some seriously good granola bites that the boys adore.  
2.   I made my favorite strawberry-almond cream tart, and my mother-in-law brought a carrot cake.  Double-dessert for mother's day.  Nice.
3.   I must've asked for hugs and kisses from the boys about a thousand times.  Each time they gave me running hugs or sweet sticky kisses.  I know I need to appreciate them while they're still willing to give them.  
4.   Saturday morning was gorgeous, but the afternoon brought a storm.  Not just a typical afternoon thunderstorm - a hailstorm like no other!  Ping-pong ball-sized pieces of ice plummeting from the sky.  It was nuts.  The entire yard was covered with slush, and unfortunately, our flowers and plants took a beating.  Notice that pretty little group of tulips above, and then check them out below.  Sad.  
5.   I sing "You Are My Sunshine" to my little guy every night at bedtime.  He has started to sing it with me.  Oh my gosh may it be imprinted on my brain so that I never forget how precious it is. 

Five commitments for the week:
1.  Schedule some more fun things to put on the calendar - start our summer fun list
2.  Get my work to-do list in order
3.  Give my abs a workout (or 5)
4.  Spend a few minutes with my guitar but don't buy any new music
5.  Be patient

May 6, 2011

A Mother's Prayer for Her Child, by Tina Fey

This is too good not to share.  Seen here.

Bossypants would make a fun addition to Mother's Day gifts I think.  Hint.
Image from American Express ad

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,”she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

-Tina Fey

Lost in the Trees - Walk Around the Lake

This week's music pick is Lost in the Trees.  It is a band from my college town - Chapel Hill, NC.  This song is a bit intense at times, but it's great.  I really love its use of a string orchestra within folk music.  The whole album, All Alone in An Empty House, is really good - I'm giving it top billing during next week's commute so I can really get to know it.
photo via

May 5, 2011

Make Your Home Your Own

You can see what it looked like when we moved in here...

Rejuvenation - an online store for "classic american lighting and house parts" - is having a contest.  They've asked people to share pictures of their home or room makeovers for a chance to win $1000 towards their products.  Now, as you may remember, we are planning a very large renovation next year, including a new kitchen and family room.  An extra $1000 would certainly help.  So I entered a couple pictures from our most recent work - the living room and office.

Any chance you could take a minute to go vote for me?  I'd really appreciate it!

I'll let you know who wins, especially if it's me!  (Hey, you never know...)

May 4, 2011

If It Is Important To You...

This thought has been in my head this week.  My husband and I have been having a lot of discussions lately about priorities and about finding ways to make time for all the things that are important to us.  It's not an easy thing to do, but if it is important...

Learning to Use My Camera

First of all, let me introduce a gorgeous blog to you.  It's called The Smallest Sparrow, and it contains some very lovely and inspiring photography and craft tutorials.  Its creator is Erin McCarthy, who happens to be married to my cousin (tall guy in the above picture).  I was so happy to discover Erin's blog.  I love getting to see adorable pictures of my little cousins (once-removed) every day, and she has also inspired me to learn how to take better pictures.

I mean, look at her pictures...isn't this gorgeous?  

When we first got our DSLR camera, I spent a little time with the user manual, learning the terms (ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed...) and trying to put it all together.  I quickly got frustrated with the blurry shots or the dark shots or the weird shadows, so I kept putting it back on "auto" and letting the camera do the work for me.  In general, it has worked fine.  It takes good pictures.  But I know I could take great pictures with some effort.

Erin wrote a post containing some tips about how to learn to use your DSLR camera, and she inspired me to give it another try.  I've spent the last couple weeks brushing up on terminology and relearning the controls on my camera.  It's coming together.  Now I just need time to practice shooting and comparing and editing.  I don't have tons of time, but I plan to focus on it throughout the summer.  Hopefully by the time our big trip rolls around (Italy in August!), I'll be prepared to take some great shots.

My camera doesn't scare me any more.  Thank you Erin!

My little guy modeled for me yesterday.  I got a bunch of fun shots, but I love the intensity of this stare.  He has almost black eyes, and that makes it even more striking.

I can't leave you with that one, though.  Check out this smile!  

May 3, 2011

Blogger ABC's

original source unknown

I've seen a couple of these 'blogger ABCs' posts and thought I'd join in.  It's always fun to learn a little bit more about the person behind the blog, isn't it?  You may not care what size my bed is, but it's all in good fun.

If I had a picture of myself, I would've included it here, but I've realized yet again that pictures of me and few and far between since the boys came along.  I'm going to have to put the timer on myself one of these days.  Anyway, here goes...

A. Age - 37

B. Bed size - Queen

C. Chore you hate - Dishes.  Will they never end?

D. Dogs - I usually don't mind other people's dogs, but little ones annoy me, and I have no interest in having one of my own. 

E. Essential start to your day - Hot shower, big glass of water

F. Favorite color - Green.  Always. 

G. Gold or silver - Silver

H. Height - 5'6" (168 cm)

I. Instruments - Guitar, but I am a beginner.  Really want to buy a piano and take lessons one day.

J. Job title - I have two:  Mom and Director of Program Management

K. Kids - Two beautiful little boys

L. Live - An old house that needs a lot of work, in the suburbs of Boston

M. Mom’s name - Gloria

N. Nicknames - Mare, Maru, my husband calls me Ram (as in Ramon - obviously there's a story behind it, but it's not as interesting as you might think.  It has stuck for years, though.)

O. Overnight hospital stays - Only after having my babies

P. Pet peeve - (Oh my.  How to keep this short...)  My biggest one is getting to the movies late - as in, after the previews start.  Hate that.  Also people who mispronounce words (hard for me to listen to the Boston accent sometimes), make up words (irregardless), or have bad grammar ("is there any other questions?").  When people say "could care less" or type "your" instead of "you're".  (My dad was a stickler for English, and I guess he passed it on.  But don't go pointing out all my typos or anything, okay?)

Q. Quote from a movie - "I could never love anyone more than I love my sisters." - Little Women (First one that came to mind...I can hear my little sister saying it.) 

R. Right or left handed - Right

S. Siblings - Not an easy answer, so bear with me.  In short, I have three sisters and three brothers.  To be more specific, I have one full sister, two half-sisters, and three half-brothers.  My dad was married and had kids with three women.  My mom was married three times and had kids with two men.  There is a 20-year age difference between my little sister and my oldest brother.  My parents were divorced when I was 5, and I lived with my mom and two sisters.  Confused yet? 

T. Time you wake up - Alarm is set for 5:35, I get up at 5:55AM.  (No wonder I'm always tired.)

U. Underwear - Always

V. Vegetables you dislike - Parsnips

W. What makes you run late - My kids

X. X-Rays you’ve had - Just my teeth

Y. Yummy food you make - Strawberry-almond cream tart, roast chicken, spaghetti and meatballs...I can't come up with recipes on my own, though.  See my favorites in the sidebar. 

Z. Zoo - favorite animal - Animals in zoos make me sad, but they are so much fun with the kids.  I love all the big cats - tigers, panthers, cougars...

May 2, 2011

Weekend and Goals

photo by:  xanthe berkeley

I think I may stick with this Monday format for a while.  After writing this post a couple weeks ago, I felt like those goals helped provide me with a little extra motivation.  I did go to bed earlier, I thought twice any time I wanted to mope about the weather, I did yoga, I planned a dinner menu, and I even got some new supplies to help change up the boys' lunches.  Success!

Highlights from the weekend:
1.  Beautiful weather.  A little chilly, but clear blue skies and warm sun.  Tons of playing outside.
2.  Both afternoons included an impromptu gathering in the yard with the neighbors.  Hanging around chatting while our boys played.
3.  Kickboxing, walking, weeding, plus the usual chasing after little ones.  I am sore in all the right places today.
4.  Sunday afternoon, my big boy asked me if we could go get some watermelon.  How could I refuse?  It's a little early for it, but sitting in the sun eating watermelon made it feel like summer was already here.
5.  During the little guy's nap, I spent a couple hours working in the yard.  My big boy entertained himself.  He kicked balls, he helped my neighbor in her yard...he just played on his own. 

Five commitments for the week:
1.  Cheer up.  It's okay to go through a rough patch, but it's not good to get stuck in one. 
2.  Book tickets for my June trip to Lake Ontario.  (Wow that's next month! Yes, I better get on it.)
3.  Schedule a babysitter for a date night this weekend.
4.  Enjoy quality-time with my book.  It's a good one.  I'll tell you about it when I'm done.
5.  Drink tons of water to try to flush the rest of this illness out of my body.

(Thanks again to Megan at Pink O'Clock for the Inspiration.)

Have a great week!


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