Thursday, July 31, 2008

the other white meat

So a few weeks ago Nate made this for dinner. It was "'mazing" to quote Jimmy. The kids snarfed it up (well, J did not each the spinach part) and to Nate's dismay there wasn't much leftover. Also it was very quick and easy to make. I decided to make it tonight - I found some nice chops on sale and our tomatoes are just begging to be used up - it'd be perfect. But there's a problem: I'm not good at making pork! I don't know what Nate does that I don't when it comes to pork, but whatever it is he does it well. Now I'm just disappointed. I'm generally a very good cook. I guess I'll have to add pork to my list of "Things Better Cooked By Someone Else". What's on your list?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

makeover madness

I'm not sure what came over me, but I did another blog face-lift. Not sure if I'm into it. Do you like it?

Monday, July 28, 2008

rain, rain, go away .... and please don't come back when I'm camping!

Torrential downpour. Severe storms. Wet yuckiness. That sums up Friday night. I won't go into the details.

Saturday the sun came out. We celebrated by having s'mores at 8:30 a.m. Broke camp and then played in the river. Came home dirty, exhausted, sun burnt. But somehow we managed to have a good time.

Tonight Nate said he was glad we went despite some of our challenges and that we should do a family trip again soon. I agree, but next time let's sleep in a hotel.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

where the wild things are

Sunday we took a drive to Lone Elk County Park. I love that place because the kids and Nate can be close to Nature and I can be with them and we're all happy (the power of a/c, love it!) We saw lots of deer and even a few elk. They are huge! Jimmy was really excited and would say "Hey, there a melk over there, a melk, a melk, a melk."

Yesterday the kids and I attended an activity called "Year of the Frog" through a local nature center. It seemed like a good thing to do two weeks ago when I signed us up. Billed as an activity for all ages, I didn't think twice about bringing a two year old. Five minutes before we arrive at the location (which was a bit farther than I bargained for) it starts pouring sheets of rain. Yes, this was to be an outdoor activity. No problem, the Naturalist on hand, Miss Amy, had us gather in the little building and she taught us a lesson on frogs, toads, salamanders, etc. Way over the head of J, but he did enjoy sitting on his chair and raising his hand when the other kids did - at least for a few minutes. Then he just wanted to climb on all the chairs, move the chairs he wasn't climbing on, run around the room, and make his way to the top of the tables. Finally it was time to pet the bull frog and toad which was a great opportunity for Jimmy to poke the toad in the eye. Turns out toads don't have great eye sight any way so I decided not to worry about it. After that the clouds parted and it was out to the pond. Yes, a real Pond right in the middle of Nature. As we gather outside Miss Amy says, "Umm, this nature area is well known for its ticks and chiggers." Oh, great Miss Amy, thanks! And thanks to the folks at the nature center who organized this for not telling all of the Moms this so we could be properly attired. Then as we approach the actual pond (with Jimmy running full speed ahead - one of his new favorite phrases when we're driving "full speed ahead, mama") Miss Amy says, "Okay everyone, lets look at this plant that is growing right here (on a step we all need to walk right past to get to the pond), its a three leaf plant and no one can touch it because it is called Poison Ivy." What do you think 2 and 3 year olds want to do when someone says, 'okay everyone, look at this'. That's right, they want to touch it! Somehow I could tell that I should just scoop up Sir James and we managed to avoid contact with said plant. In the meantime we scooped out snails, tadpoles, salamander larvae, and lots of gunk from the pond. Grace LOVED it. So much that she's decided to be a Naturalist herself - one that studies tadpoles and frogs and dogs and cats. Oh, and did I mention J tried many times to drink the pond water? As soon as we got to the car I stripped J of his shoes, socks, and shorts as they were more wet than the pond itself and discussed with Grace that if she really wants a pet frog she'll be the one to catch the crickets to feed it, not me. Upon arrival at home it was straight to the tub for them while I called Nate and said "Tell me everything I need to know about ticks and chiggers." Somehow we escaped our natural experience unscathed. And to think we've been planning to go camping this weekend. AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

super date 2008

As you may have guessed from the recent poll, we recently celebrated our 10th anniversary. It is unreal to us that we've been married that long, but after careful calculations we've come to the conclusion that in fact we have been.

To celebrate Nate got me some of the fanciest roses I have ever seen. The stems were so long they were taller than Jimmy. The were a beautiful red and in a gorgeous vase. He also decided since I'm more of a traditional girl than a modern one, that he would give me a gift that went along with the traditional wedding gifts (10th year being the tin/aluminum year): a 12 pack of Diet Coke (sadly the 10th year on the modern list is diamonds).

We managed to convince someone to stay with the kids starting around noon on Saturday. Her husband was on-call that day and night and said that we were more than welcome to stay out as late as we wanted. And so begins our Super Date (oh, what is a Super Date? It is a term borrowed from Nate's sister who planned many of these kinds of excursions for groups of her friends in high school, basically it is a date that goes on and on and on...)

We began at one of our favorite places to have lunch (which happens to be no where near our house and not the best place for kids (not a bad place for kids, just not the best for them) in a town called Creve Coeur): Pastries of Denmark. Mmmmm. So good and quiet. No one tried to interrupt our conversation to tell us things about Big Trucks, princesses, soccer balls or to ask us about video games. It was fabulous (and the food wasn't bad either!).

We then took the scenic route back towards the city and drove through swanky towns like Ladue. We found ourselves at the Art Museum. There were so many cool things to see and some great people watching too. The museum is located in Forest Park which was beautiful and green; however, it was about 96 degrees that afternoon with matching humidity and there was no way Nate could convince me we should hang out there and try and fly a kite. But we did find a nice spot in the shade to hang out in for a bit. After a lovely tour of the park (inside the cool a/c air of the car), we drove through an area of STL newly renamed The Grove towards some funky shops.

After that we headed north to the CWE. The streets were shaded so walking a bit through there wasn't too bad and we found a place to grab a bite to eat. Our waitress was extremely concerned for our comfort that she would come and check on us about every 4 minutes (really not exaggerating that one). Our seat by the window proved well for more people watching.

With our hunger satisfied we went to the "New" Cathedral and walked around. The grounds were pretty and by this time a nice breeze was blowing so we didn't notice the awful thick humidity as much as we did earlier.

From there we headed east towards the riverfront to the Arch. Sadly we weren't able to go up to the top (for just a moment I was a disappointed, but then realized I didn't have to ride in one of those teensy-weensy cars to the top). The Arch grounds were pretty as well.

Then it was back West to The Loop. If you are looking for a young and hip crowd (which we weren't sure our old hips were looking for) then The Loop is the place to be after dark. The tattoo parlor was in full swing and so were the vintage stores, bars, and record stores. We each got a tattoo on our cheeks (rear cheeks that is): Ten Years of Bliss. Ha haa, did I fool you? You'll never know.

We found dessert at the Melting Pot. Very tasty way to end our Super Date. Now you know how we spent our Saturday. And for the record, when we were first married we had great plans to celebrate our 10th anniversary in Hawaii or some place lovely like that - never in a million years did we think we'd celebrate an occasion such as this in STL. So the new plan is to celebrate our 13th in a very big and tropical way. Wonder what kind of tattoos we'll get then...

Friday, July 18, 2008

fruit of our labors


The beauties found their way into a tasty pasta salad. After two days Grace is still asking for more.
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welcome to the jungle

As high as an elephant's eye, well if it were a short elephant. Our mere 12 tomato plants have grown like crazy! And our raspberry bushes (sadly raspberry season is now over - don't worry, Nate made the most of it by going out every morning to pick some for his breakfast) have decided to try and completely take over our garden. Their thorns are sharp! I thought I'd post a before picture and after of the 'back forty'. Please note the picture with Nate also has our garden owl, Percival (he has successfully scared away real birds from nibbling the fruits of our labors). So any ideas what to do with all of the tomatoes we'll have coming in, furiously and quickly?

live action from the butterfly house

Again I am going to direct you to click into my friend's blog. She described our day at the house of butterflies so well, and also has a great clip of Grace. It is so Grace and I thought you may get a chuckle out of it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

not my favorite

Today was not my favorite, but nonetheless provides a somewhat interesting story. Click here to read about it. Meanwhile I'm headed to a bubble bath!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

hot tub, summer in the city

Well, it is officially humid and awful here. You can tell because I finally put out our very green blow-up pool today. The kids had a great time. Jimmy especially thought it was quite fun. He kept saying he was going in the "tub outside."

butterfly house

We went with our friend Kara (who has been away visiting family for a long, long time and we are so happy she's back!!!) to the Butterfly House. It was beautiful! Both Jimmy and Gracie had a great time. Grace studied the brochure and did her best to label each butterfly we saw. Jimmy tried very hard to climb on all of the rocks, get into the waterfalls, and catch the butterflies. In between chasing him (and pulling him from the edge of the water and getting him down from the rocks) & giving Grace my undivided attention to learn about the fascinating butterflies, I tried to capture a few pictures of this beautiful place we were in. On a side note, we learned that butterflies enjoy warmth and serious humidity! It was so muggy in there that it was actually more comfortable outside!

Monday, July 7, 2008

holiday weekend

We celebrated the 4th with Salsie & Pops. It was a fun day full of bratwurst, chicken legs, pie, Texas sheet cake, baked beans, Grandma's famous shrimp salad (though it has been years since she has actually made it, but its still hers!), etc. I think we're still full!

On Saturday we all went downtown to visit Millenum Park. The weather was incredibly beautiful. It was hard to believe it was July in Chicago! The kids loved playing in the crazy fountain. After we dried them up, we headed North on Michigan Ave. The people and the sights were so fun. But most of all it was fun to share the day with Sals and Pops!

We made it back to STL after we stopped for a "quick bite" in Lincoln, IL. If given a chance, Nate will do his best never to eat at a chain kind of restaurant. Usually this is great, but not on a road trip with children! We found ourselves at Daphnae's Family Restaurant. The food was fine and the service was very friendly. But, my oh my, did it take FOREVER! Love you dear!