Playing with my boys

Playing with my boys
They keep life interesting :-)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Liam is ALL Walsh!

And if you've known my family for an extended period of time, you know EXACTLY what that means!  For those of you that missed out on seeing the Walsh boys (my 4 brothers) grow up, that basically means Liam is trouble.  He is mischievous in ways Aidan never was.  He finds danger in simple things.  His curiosity knows no limits, and his determination no bounds.  He is probably going to be a pretty amazing adult with this kind of personality, capable of changing the world - I just don't know if I'll live to see it.  He causes me panic/anxiety attacks on a daily basis.  He's lucky he's so damn cute!

Yesterday he woke up from his nap and his face was covered in yellow...yellow what??  Anthony and my sister thought maybe he vomited, I knew that wasn't the case.  He'd eaten something...but WHAT?!?  There's no food in their room.  Anthony found a little chunk of something yellow in Liam's bed so we were all trying to figure out what it was - and I was trying to decide whether I needed to go get his stomach pumped or not!  I went into his room to investigate for myself.  On his dresser were the wrappers of an entire box of band aids he'd opened just for kicks (he climbed on the glider onto his dresser and crawled down to the other end where the "good stuff" was), but he didn't EAT them.  Small blessings.  Next to the mess of wrappers was the box of baby wipes, with a spot of yellow drooled on it.  Above there, up on the wall, is this:
Those are fondant animals that were on Aidan's first birthday cake (three years ago) minus the piggy bank.  There WAS a giraffe up there once upon a time too...until yesterday.  Mystery solved.  My son, Spakoski by name, Walsh by nature, ATE a dusty 3 year old fondant giraffe off a shelf on the wall when I thought he was sleeping!!!  And, for good measure, he licked the monkey and the elephant too - they were nice and sticky.  And look at the smears of yellow finger prints under the shelf...?!?  He's a special breed, this one.

God help me!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lying is Bad, but Magic is AWESOME!

Here's the thing...we all know its bad to lie.  But as a parent, you do your share whether you like it or not.  You can make yourself feel better by saying you're not *lying* so much as bending the truth, or leaving out important bits of information.  Whatever helps you sleep at night.
"Mom, what's for dinner?"
"Pasta with sauce...yummy yummy!"  I left out the fact that I pureed a whole bunch of carrots into the pasta sauce...he'll never know.  And what he doesn't know won't hurt him.  In fact, it will make him stronger, healthier, happier.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the lies we tell our kids now that Christmas is upon us.  The lying seems to have been amped up a bit.  Every time the UPS guy brings a package to the door and Aidan asks "What is it?  Can we open it?" I say "Oh, no...I think it must be something for Daddy's school."  Then bring said box to the basement where the kids don't go and won't ever know for sure what was in that box.  The items will magically appear under the Christmas tree on December 25th and my children's eyes will be filled with wonder and awe.  So, the lie is a means to an end.  A magical end filled with smiles and giggles where happiness abounds.  I like that end.

Every night, Waka Buckle, the Elf on the Shelf, finds himself a new place to sit and every morning Aidan bursts out of his bedroom "Is my elf here?!?  Where is he?!?"  Once he finds him, and has a giggle about where Waka Buckle is camped out, he asks me how he got there.  "I don't know, buddy!"  I do know...I put him there.  Lies.  Do I feel bad?  A little bit.  But, its all in the name of Christmas magic.

Santa is real in this house.  I have a number of friends who have told their small children that Santa is a myth because they don't want to lie to their kids.  That is their choice, and I respect them as parents and love their kids.  But, that's just not how I roll.  Some of my best memories from childhood revolve around Christmas, Santa, the flying reindeer, and all the rest of the magic that surrounds the holiday.  I remember driving home from my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve and we kids would have our eyes peeled looking to the sky the whole drive home. "OH MY GOSH!!!  I saw a red light in the sky!  It MUST be Rudolph...HURRY DAD!!!  Drive faster!!!  We need to get to bed so Santa doesn't skip our house!"

The anticipation of Christmas morning would then likely keep us up well past our bedtime, our little minds unable to stop thinking about what was to come.  That excitement was awesome.

Childhood should be about magic.  It should be about believing in things that defy logic because you haven't been hardened by the real world yet - there's no coming back once you have.

“There are two ways to believe in Santa Claus,” according to Rick Epstein, author of the book Rookie Dad Adventures in Fatherhood. “One way is to believe in him, the other is to help little children believe in him.”

I'm going to work my tail off to help my children believe for as long as possible.

*P.S. If you tell your kids there is no such thing as Santa, and they then tell MY kids there is no such thing as Santa, we might not be friends anymore.  Just sayin'.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Live Here for a Reason

I live in New England.  I was born here, and I have no intentions of ever living anywhere else.  I love New England.  I love 4 distinct seasons.  That's not to say I love when 3 feet of snow knocks out our electricity and we're forced to shack up with my mom because the electric company is predicting another 6 days before they can get our power up and running again.  That, I'm not such a big fan of.  But, I still love living here.  If I didn't, I would move elsewhere.

You see, I'm not all about natural disasters.  Regular hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires...pass, thanks.  A blizzard doesn't scare me.  Snow melts, power is restored, and the kids get a few days off from school.  I'm OK with all of that.

Right now, we're having our first "real" snowfall of the season.  Its so beautiful!  I'm sitting in my house, surrounded by Christmas decorations, sparkling white lights on my Christmas tree and my banister, cozy and warm in fleece leggings and a hooded sweatshirt, watching the snow fall while my two adorable (read LOUD) children are sleeping.  My house is quiet, and I am enjoying this blissful moment.

I know not everyone has an appreciation for winter, or snow...but I do.  I consider myself lucky to have been born here, and to have grown up appreciating the four seasons and all they have to offer.  And having children of my own now makes me even more grateful.  My kids wake up to snow and its THE BEST DAY EVER!!!  And I remember thinking the same thing when I was a kid :-)

I have lots of friends that live in warmer climates - Arizona, California, Texas, Florida - and this time of year, some of them like to post pictures of their beach days, or a picture of their 10 day forecast, to make those of us in the cold jealous.  The thing is, it doesn't work for me.  I just finished beach season, I'm over it.  I really don't like to sweat.  And sweats are so much more comfortable than bathing suits.  The beginning of each season is so wonderful, full of hope and expectations.  By the end of each season, I'm ready for the next one.  Fall is my favorite season, ever.  I love everything about it.  But, this past week or so, when Mother Nature has been bipolar and we've had frigid weather alternating with mild no-coat-necessary weather, I've been READY for the cold to come and stay for a while.  Its part of the cycle, and I wouldn't change that for anything.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Family Bed

I've always been adamantly opposed to the whole concept of a "family bed" in my house.  Many of my friends co-sleep, it works for them and that's all that matters. I just wanted no part of it.  I like my space, and I like the seperation for 8-12 hours of peaceful slumber :-) 

My kids now refuse to sleep in my bed.  Even when he is sick and vomiting every 15 minutes, Aidan insists on sleeping in his own bed.  Its just what he's used to...its his bed.  I would love to eliminate some sheet changes in those rare incidents, but otherwise, I am really glad my kids have developed such strong sleeping habits.  And that my bed is my own. 

I've been sick lately.  A lot.  Hubs still has to go to the office, and I somehow have to manage being Super Mom.   Well, given the "norm" as of late, the definition of Super Mom has expanded to include hours of PBS cartoons from the comfort of Mommy's bed while I hide under the covers and plead with God to give me the strength to get up and carry on despite how ill I've felt.  The kids lay around my cocoon of blankets and laugh and squeal as they watch George get into trouble, take a stroll down Sesame Street, learn new words from a talking dog, and ask lots of questions just like Sid.  Its a beautiful thing that they give me this time to try and "feel better" before getting them breakfast.  And when I'm able to enjoy the snuggles and giggles, our morning cartoons under my covers will be my favorite part of the day.

So, it seems in the end, we have a family bed afterall ;-)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Imagining the Unimaginable

Nothing makes my heart beat faster than when I imagine being separated from my children...permanently.  Death scares the crap out of me.  Obviously there's the whole "What will it be like to die?  What will I feel?" and other such things that can't possibly be answered that cause me a great deal of anxiety...but those things pale in comparison to the anxiety I get when I think about not being here for my children.  Who's going to take care of them?  No one could POSSIBLY care for them the same as I would.  No one could EVER love them as I do.  Will they be OK?  Will they know how much I love them?  Will they....gasp...remember me?!?  

Tonight as we were putting the kids to bed, I was holding Aidan and squeezing him saying "I can't believe how big you're getting!  You're going to be all grown up soon!"  

Then this happened:

Aidan looks up at me and says "Then I won't need you anymore...?"

"Well, I hope you'll always need me."

"When I am grown up, where will you be?"

"I'll be right here, for as long as I possibly can be!"

"Then God will take you away?" (as his voice gets quiet and his eyes get sad...)

<<gulp>>  "Not for a long, long time baby...I'm hoping to be here for a long, long time."

Then he walked over to his daddy and said "I hope God doesn't take you away for a long time."

My eyes welled up, I had a pit in my stomach, my voice felt like it would crack if I tried to speak, and my heart was racing.  I just can't handle imagining the unimaginable.  And I can't handle my sweet little boy doing it either.  Ugh...nothing prepares you for a conversation like that with your 3 year old son.  

This parenting thing is not for a weak.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

“What should a 4 year old know?”

I saw this on Facebook.  It was written by a Pre-School Teacher.  Its perfect.

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. “What should a 4 year old know?” she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.
It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our pre-schoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.
He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. 

He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn’t feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. 

She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he’ll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she’s wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvellous. She should know that it’s just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that– way more worthy.

But more important, here’s what parents need to know.

That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children “advantages” that we’re giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children’s toys and they wouldn’t be missed, but some things are important– building toys like lego and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too– to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it’s absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That’s not okay! Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they’re a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

That happened fast...

It occurred to me today that I no longer have a baby gate at the bottom of our staircase.

The baby bottles have been in the basement almost a year now.

Liam doesn't eat meals in his highchair.  In fact, the only reason it still sits in our kitchen is to use for his time-outs!

I don't carry a diaper bag when we go out.  I toss a couple diapers and a bag of wipes in my bag, its big enough.  I don't need a changing pad, changes of clothes (usually), bibs, burpies, bottles, toys, etc.

I don't carry a spare binky around with me anymore.  Liam only uses it in his crib.

My children can go play in the backyard, hardly supervised, while I'm making dinner.

The infant car seat, bases, and snap and go have been in the basement collecting dust for some time now.

The baby bath tub has been in the basement since Liam was old enough to sit in the tub with Aidan and drowning was no longer a constant fear.

The stroller is an optional accessory most outings.

I don't puree foods anymore.  The kids eat grapes WHOLE.  Cereal is served with milk, at least for Aidan.

Apple picking the other day, Liam could eat an apple whole - skin on and all.

Babies are a lot of work.  Everything you do is that much harder, and takes that much longer.  Its undeniable.

But another thing that's undeniable?  They grow up REALLY FAST!  I don't have babies anymore...I have toddlers.  And while life certainly isn't easy with two little boys to chase, its remarkable how much less complicated everything is once they've grown beyond that baby phase.

Toddlers bring their own sort of trouble ;-)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dear God

There is this cloud of guilt hovering over me that sometimes I notice, sometimes I don't.  Hubs and I have been discussing churches, and trying to pick one to go to together, for years now.  We have differing opinions on certain things that add to the difficulty of settling on a church to go to together (one example - he was baptized when he was an infant, I was baptized when I was 14 years old - our children will decide later what they want to do).  He was raised Catholic, but has not been a practicing Catholic since he was living at home with his family.  I was raised non-denominational Christian.  I went to church or church related activities 3, 4, 5 times a week - my whole life.  I stopped going to church when I was 23/24 years old, but my faith in God, and my relationship with Him has remained ever-present.

Since having children, our "we need to find a church" conversation has become increasingly more common.  I've looked online, I've talked to friends, I've gotten recommendations from friends and ministers, we've visited a Baptist church but just didn't think that was the place for us. 

We're still looking, but in the meantime, we're raising our kids to know God, to love him, and to trust him despite of a lack of "church" in our lives.  We talk about and pray to God everyday.  Before naps and bedtime, we all gather around Aidan's bed and say prayers together.  Generally, its either me or AJ leading the prayer.  We'll ask Aidan to say the prayer sometimes, and he pretty much always fights us on it - he acts embarrassed, like he doesn't know what he's doing. Its not something we push too much on, he's a pretty stubborn child.  But regardless of who does it, prayers are always said, and when its done, there is a chorus of Amens, including my little Liam.   

Today, I overheard my son praying to God on two separate occasions, asking for help with things that were trying him at the time - but not before thanking Him for the day and for everything He's given him.  I can't fully express how this makes me feel.  I think of my church upbringing as a blessing in that it taught me about God, it taught me the Bible, taught me to know the scriptures, to have convictions, morals, a depth of love for God and his creation.  Today, I've been reassured that my children are well on their way.

Proverbs 22:6

King James Version (KJV)
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Buh-Bye Summer!

With Labor Day just days away, its time to acknowledge the inevitable.  I realize I'm in the minority, especially in these parts where most people dread the winter, but I am ECSTATIC that summer is ending and Fall (or as I like to call it, THE MOST GLORIOUS TIME OF THE YEAR) is upon us!

I have just two words for you: Pumpkin Muffin.  Dunkin Donuts makes my favorite season of the year the tastiest too ;-)

Seriously though...I LIVE for Fall in New England.  Nothing in all the world compares to it.  People can post pictures of tropical beaches and umbrella drinks all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to their heart's content, but nothing beats a pumpkin patch, apple orchard, or a giant pile of crunchy fallen leaves ready to be jumped in!

I've always loved Fall - forever my favorite.  I love dressing for Fall - jeans, boots, sweatshirts, scarfs...its just such a comfortable season.  I love decorating my house, inside and out, with pumpkins, hay bales, corn stalks, warm rustic colors all around.  Lighting candles and the fire place, baking all kinds of treats, but especially homemade apple pie.  Crockpot cooking, soup, hot chocolate, pumpkin spice coffee (another Dunkies treat), fresh warm cider donuts from the apple orchard's farm stand - and one cold treat I can only have in the Fall, Dairy Twist's Fall special Pumpkin Oreo ice cream - its a season full of gastronomic delight! 

Having kids makes my favorite season even BETTER (hard to believe that's possible, right?!?).  Playing in apple orchards, picking our own pumpkins, carving and decorating them, baking and eating our pumpkin seeds, baking apple pies with their "help", preparing for Halloween and stepping inside their imaginations to make their costume exactly what they hoped, celebrating Thanksgiving and all that we are grateful for - my two children being right at the top of that list. 

Seeing things through their eyes just makes everything that much more beautiful.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Italian Sub Stoup

A number of people have asked me for this recipe.  Rachael Ray gets all the credit though.  I have her 365: No Repeats cookbook, and while I haven't made a ton of the recipes in that particular book, this is one I keep going back to.  I love it!
Italian Sub Stoup - thicker than a soup, not as thick as a stew, as Rachael Ray says.
I make a few tweaks to R.R.'s recipe though, because I love pasta.  I'm kind of goes without saying.  The recipe calls for only 1 cup of dry pasta.  I add a whole box - 1lb of pasta.  In order to cook all that pasta, I have to add more liquid.  So, instead of adding only 3 cups of chicken stock, I add about 7.  This winds up being absolutely, perfectly delightful :-)

We are not a family that's big on super spicy food - mild Italian sausage adds just the right amount of flavor for us.  But, if you're looking for more heat, go for the HOT Italian sausages...and throw in some crushed red pepper flakes while you're at it!


The term "school" has been thrown around a lot lately.  Aidan hears his Daddy talk about school, and having to do homework every night.   He hears adults ask me "When is Aidan starting school?"  He has heard his friends and their parents talking about school starting up, back-to-school shopping, planning for the big day, etc.  The other day he asked his Daddy "When can I go to school?"

Aidan is not going to preschool this year.  He is three years old.  He won't be 4 until the end of December.  He can't start Kindergarten until September 2015 due to the age cut-off being Sept. 1st.  He will start preschool next year. 

I am a SAHM and we are living within very limited means.  Sending Aidan to preschool for 2 years is just not in our budget.  But regardless of budget, I just don't see why I should send him to preschool for 2 years.  Other moms totally have their reasons (be it work schedules or simply for their own sanity), and I respect their choices.  But, delaying 14 years of school, not taking college years into account, for one more year is my gift to my little 3yr old.  Its one more carefree year of being under momma's wing, sheltered from growing up any faster than he needs to, and having fun with his brother at a time when their relationship has yet to reach a point of hostility, jealousy, or a constant need for a referee.  I love being able to stay home and raise my children.  I love watching his imagination in action as he runs around the house and yard pretending to be a fireman, rescuing all kinds of people and animals from danger.  I love when he asks me to read him a story, and one story becomes twelve.  I love that he still naps in the afternoon and I get a little (and yes, much needed) break just about every day, but I still get to be with him otherwise.  I love that he gets to go to a 2 1/2 hr drop-off gym class once a week, where he gets to play and have fun, and experience a little separation from me and Liam too, because I do understand the importance of that independence. 

He's so eager to learn new things.  Its seemed for the longest time that he's had no patience for learning letters/numbers, but lately has really begun to express interest.  He has a preschool workbook one of his aunties bought him a couple years ago that has been tucked away in a closet until yesterday.  With all of his inquiries about school, I thought it was time to try some of the lessons in the book (we've tried learning letters and numbers in various other ways with limited success).  We sat at the table together and page by page started working our way through the lessons, practicing tracing different kinds of lines, then moving onto shapes, then colors.  I told him this was his homework - and he's been "doing homework" since. 

"Aidan, come upstairs so we can get ready to go out." 
"Mom, I'm doing my homework!"


Despite all that, I still feel a little twinge of guilt that he's not going to school this year.  Like I'm harming his odds of being successful once he does start school - like I'm starting him off with a disadvantage because all the other kids have been in preschool for YEARS!  I start thinking these things and immediately just have to tell myself to shut the hell up.  He is a brilliant little boy.  Preschool for even just one year is still optional - not mandatory.  His one year of preschool will be AMAZING!  He is going to love it.  He's going to have so much fun learning and meeting new friends.  He's going to come home from school eager to share with me all that he did, right down to what he ate for a snack ( he's a growing boy, afterall), and I will have a big, giant smile on my face watching my little sponge grow and learn under someone else's wing.  My pride will soar as I see him mature further into his own little person, and my heart will simultaneously ache as I see less and less of my "baby", and burst with excitement for the boy he's becoming and adventures he'll have!

Its going to be wonderful - next year.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Its Happened...

Its husband's annoying habit of quizzing me "Who sings this song?" when we're listening to the radio has unfortunately been directed toward its next victim - our 3 year old. 

Aidan, brace yourself.  This is only the beginning.  My advice to you, in addition to deep sighs and heavy eye rolling, is to respond with: "Some 80s hair band."  I promise you will be right 98% of the time.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Things I Learned From Taco Dinner

Things I've learned from this evening's taco dinner:

1). When you purchase a hard and soft taco dinner kit, make sure it says "KIT" on it, otherwise, you're just getting a bunch of shells.  Having a bunch of shells and a bunch of ground beef does not a delicious taco make! 

2). When you realize you goofed and don't have seasoning for your tacos and you pack your kids up to go to the store just to buy taco seasoning, don't cheap out and buy the generic store brand. I'm generally all for store brands and often can't tell the difference from the "good" stuff...not true of taco seasoning. I spent a good 10 minutes adding cumin, paprika, salt, onion salt, and garlic powder to make it edible. 

And lastly,

3). I have spent years making tacos for me and the hubs.  Always the same.  One taco kit, one pound of ground beef.  We eat as much as we want and still have leftovers for another day.  Now that Aidan is eating tacos, I need to buy 2lbs of ground beef for taco night from this day forward.  This is just the beginning of the changes to my grocery planning raising 2 boys (and their dad!). 

Quite an educational dinner tonight!

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I hear that a lot.  A LOT.  Its like a constant soundtrack in my life.  Only its not coming from actual emergency vehicle sirens (well, usually), its coming from my children. 

When we go to the mall, we have to sit in the fire truck at the arcade - regardless of the fact that Mommy never has quarters to pump into said fire truck.

We find fire trucks in malls we're visiting for a first time...

My boys run around the house screeching siren sounds and calling for back-up to fight yet another fire or help Mike Flood off another roof.  (If you have no idea who Mike Flood is, you're better off.  Google "Fireman Sam", but don't let your small children see/hear anything or they may demand you become Fireman Sam fans too!)  I hear these sounds first thing in the morning, all afternoon, before and after dinner, as they squirm out of our hands as my husband and I try to get them into pajamas at bedtime...sirens, all the time.  We were grocery shopping earlier today and Aidan was hanging off the end of the cart screeching out his siren warning to oncoming traffic as we weaved in and out of
every. aisle. we. went. down.

This is a way of life now.  I don't try to stifle their passion.  There are worse things they could love at this very impressionable age.  I'm embracing this love of all things fire rescue!

Every time we drive though the center of town, my 3 1/2 yr old starts polling all passengers (usually just me and his little brother that has no idea what he's talking about) as to whether or not the fire station doors will be open.  I have to HOPE we hit a red light directly in front of the fire station so he gets his moment to look on with admiration at the large brick building, and maybe even see a real, live, actual FIREMAN!  If the light's green...I have to go slow and risk the people behind me getting irritated.  The things you do for your children.
I know 4 different fire stations within 10 minutes of us that we drive by intentionally on a regular basis just to keep my little men happy in the back seat.  Driving down the road, conversations are consistently interrupted by "FIRE TRUCK!!!" or "AMBULANCE!!!" or "MOMMA, DID YOU SEE THE FIRETRUCK/AMBULANCE?!?" 

God forbid I didn't notice...its nearly unforgivable at this point.

I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the highlight of my kids' summer has been getting to climb around a real life fire truck, push buttons, try on helmets, fasten seat belts, ring bells, turn on sirens, and ask lots and lots of questions to a real live fireman at our town's Family Fun Day!

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't get just as excited as was such an amazing experience for my fireman enthusiasts!  As a mom I can tell you, I have passion for things I never imagined before kids.  We're a Fire truck/man/station loving family!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Amusement Park Fun

Aidan's been on rides before - he went to Disney at 16 months, Canobie Lake last summer, Marshfield Fair last summer...he loves going on rides.  But there was something especially exciting watching him at Carowinds yesterday. He's older, so there's more understanding of what's going on.  He has more opinions of what he wants to ride and doesn't want to ride, and his enthusiasm is just really adorable!   Carowinds' kiddie section is called Planet Snoopy.  Being his father's son, Aidan's been watching Peanuts shows for sometime now, and he loves Snoopy and Charlie Brown!  So, this made Planet Snoopy even more thrilling for my little guy.  Every corner we turned, "Mom, there's another Snoopy!" It is indescribably fun seeing your children experience things that excite them so.  He rode the carousel (with Daddy and Liam), the boats, a train ride, and a helicopter ride with Mommy (twice).  I think the helicopter was his favorite - it was just precious watching him play the role of pilot. He told me at the start of his first helicopter ride "I'm having a great ride today Momma!"  Love.

Mommy had a great time too!  Despite the incredible heat and humidity, and significant amount of time spent in Planet Snoopy, I got to ride a couple coasters - my favorite!   I rode The Intimidator - a race car inspired roller coaster.  It is, hands down, the most incredible roller coaster I've ever been on!  The seats are shaped like race car seats - deep bucket seats.  The only restraint is a v-shaped padding attached to a metal lever in the ground that lowers over your legs/pelvis.  Your head, arms and entire torso are completely unrestrained in anyway.   I've never experienced anything like it!  I rode this coaster just anticipating the padded lever over my pelvis to fail and my body to go catapulting through the body felt weightless as it spent the greater portion of this coaster lifted off the seat.  I screamed and laughed my way through the whole thing simultaneously...I loved it!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


  1. A state of extreme physical or mental fatigue.
  2. The action or state of using something up or of being used up completely: "exhaustion of fossil fuel reserves".
weariness - fatigue - depletion - lassitude - prostration

I. Am. Exhausted.  Physically, mentally, emotionally fatigued.  Do you ever feel so tired that you honestly just don't think your brain can hold anything else?  That's where I'm at right now.  I keep trying to tell my brain to just STOP THINKING.  But, its not listening to me.  It. Just. Keeps. Thinking.

I am in desperate need of some quality time with a good girlfriend.  I want to be able to sit, and just exhale, and not have to be responsible for anything more than breathing in and breathing out. 

Kids are asleep, husband is out...bed is calling!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Block Party

Our neighborhood is pretty small - 36 houses total.  All our houses are close together, and there are a handful of "common areas" scattered throughout the neighborhood.   This past Saturday, on one of those grassy patches of common area, we had a neighborhood Block Party, complete with grills, kiddie pools, water tables, and a big bouncy house for the kids.  (It should be noted that of the 36 houses here, most of them have multiple children living in should see this place at Halloween! ) 

In addition to all those things set up for family fun, we also had a bike parade for the kids!  Oh my goodness, they were SO excited!!  They all decorated their bikes/tricycles/push cars with streamers, balloons, flags, flowers...whatever they could get attached (I saw a Cookie Monster doll tied to one little boy's ride).  They paraded up and down the street around orange street cones -made it very official that way, hehe.  At the end they were all awarded with...what else?  CANDY!!  It was a great time for all the families there and I feel so lucky to live in a neighborhood bursting with little ones :-)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Peanut Butter Kick

I'll admit, I have a slight obsession for all things peanut butter.  Most mornings, in the rush of getting the kids fed, cleaned, and out the door on our way wherever, I don't have time or the desire to make myself a proper breakfast, so I have a cup of coffee and a spoonful of peanut butter.  A spoonful of pb keeps me satisfied far longer than a bagel or a bowl of cereal does...its perfect!

So, you get the point.  I love peanut butter.  The other day while Liam napped, Aidan and I made a Father's Day cake for AJ.  I had a gold butter cake mix and one jar of store bought chocolate frosting.   I wanted to make it a little more interesting though.  I put a half cup of peanut butter and a half cup of confectioners sugar in a bowl and blended it together using my hand mixer.  Then I blended in the jar of chocolate frosting.  It didn't seem right yet, so I added a heaping spoonful of Fluff!  Now, it was good. 

I had baked two round cakes and, once cooled, put my chocolatey peanut butter concoction in between the 2 layers.  The hubs stopped at the store on the way home to pick up more chocolate frosting so I could cover the top and sides of this masterpiece.   Once frosted, I had to add chopped Reese's cups to the top.

This cake was a big hit in my family!   I served it after Fayher's Day brunch and my brothers and even my diabetic father loved it!*  They all said it tasted just like a Funnybone...which apparently they all love and I didn't realize just how much!

*I don't know whether I should be so proud of my finished product that it made a hardcore diabetic crossover to the dark-sugary side, or if I should be ashamed for allowing my dad to fall off the no/low sugar wagon.  I asked him several times if he was sure he really wanted a piece...he even admitted that he'd be hurting later, but he just had to try it!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crockpot Freak

I'm kind of a crockpot freak.  I LOVE cooking in the crockpot.  I just seems to make life so much easier!  There are a handful of recipes I make on a regular basis and I'm going to share 2 of them with you right now.  If you need something easy, but totally flavorful and delicious, these fit the bill.

Salsa Chicken
I love this recipe because not only is it so tasty, but the ingredients are things I generally have in my fridge and pantry regularly anyhow, so I don't often have to plan for this meal.

1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 jar salsa (you can choose your desired level of heat)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 container sour cream

Put the salsa, taco seasoning, cream of chicken soup and sour cream all in the crockpot and stir it all together.  Add the chicken and make sure they are completely covered by the mixture.  Cover and cook for 5 hours on low.  Remove the chicken and shred it using 2 forks.  Place shredded chicken back in pot and mix with the sauce.  I generally let it cook another 30 minutes or so just to absorb as much sauce as possible, but your chicken is fully cooked so you can eat it now if you want too! 

I have served this as an appetizer with tostitos, as shown in the photo (from Pinterest), or over white rice, or in flour tortillas as burritos.  This dish is SO versatile!

Pesto Ranch Chicken
It sounds like such a strange combination, but it WORKS!

1 dry packet of Ranch salad dressing mix
1 jar of basil pesto (I prefer the Classico brand over any others I've tried)
1 cup of chicken stock
8 skinless chicken thighs (I have also used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and shredded it at the end - my 3 year old loves it that way the best)

Add chicken to crockpot.  Cover chicken with the jar of pesto.  Sprinkle the packet of Ranch dressing mix over the pesto covered chicken.  Pour the chicken stock over chicken, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours (depending how much chicken you use).

I serve this over pasta and LOVE it!  I'll have to remember to take a picture next time I make it.

If you try either of these recipes, let me know how you like them!

A Nemo Party!

Back in November, for Liam's 1st birthday, I threw a Nemo themed party.  I have been meaning to write about it but just kept forgetting.  So, NOW, I write :-)

I had SO much fun with this theme!

The combination of turquoise and orange just made me happy.  I love those colors together, and they looked fantastic all over my table.

I saw those turquoise pails holding orange plastic utensils on Pinterest, and my theme took off from there.  I was so excited to find those pails in the dollar bins at Target!  I was really proud of my homemade chocolates too - orange goldfish, turquoise seashells, and dark chocolate lobsters...yum!

These chocolate, graham cracker crumb, goldfish covered marshmallows I made were a BIG hit! The general consensus was that the combination of all those flavors together tasted like the inside of an Oreo. Delicious!  Thanks Pinterest for the inspiration for these.

The orange swirly lollipops came from Oriental Trading, and the goldfish bowls are from
Dollar Tree...I love a good bargain!

The favors were mini orange metal pails filled with Easter grass, sea life gummies, bubbles, a fishy finger puppet, and a lollipop - also all from Oriental Trading. 
I was SO pleased with how these came out!

And of course no party would be complete without a cute cake! This masterpiece is from
Veronica's Sweetcakes (in Marshfield) - not a bargain, but totally worth it ;-)


It was a VERY happy birthday for my little Liam bug!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Peanut Butter Perfection!

So, I found this recipe on Pinterest for a "skinny" peanut butter pie.  It looked pretty good, but it called for ingredients I didn't have in my house (like reduced fat cream cheese), and ingredients I didn't WANT in my house (like fake peanut butter...what IS that anyhow?!?).  So, I made this... all its full fat glory (with additions like, oh, I don't know...peanut butter cups!) and it was PERFECTION!

Here is my ingredient list:
5 oz cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup of Confectioner's Sugar (I'll admit, my 1/2 cup was heaping)
1/2 cup of peanut butter (again, this 1/2 cup was a little over...and for the record, I used Skippy Creamy)
8 oz tub of whipped topping (from the freezer section at the grocery store, thawed - and I did actually use the "light" kind)
1 chocolate ready-to-eat pie crust
1 king size package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (4 cups), chopped
1/2 Hershey's milk chocolate bar, grated

Beat cream cheese and confectioner's sugar in a medium bowl until blended.
Mix in peanut butter and beat until smooth blended.
Fold in whipped topping.
Spoon filling into pie crust.
Sprinkle shaved Hershey's chocolate over top of pie, and sprinkle the chopped bits of peanut butter cups on top of that.
Cover and chill pie for at 2-3 hours before serving.

If you try it, let me know how you like it!