Saturday, July 24, 2010

Dear Chick-fil-A - Please Open A Restaurant in My Hometown

Today, we visited Nirvana and now there is no going back. We went to a new Farmer's Market in town and, as an incentive, you could have a FREE Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich with each purchase.

We've now been exposed to those Yummy Chicken Fillets that I read about so much from my Southern Neighbors. Everything else is just flat. We need our own franchise to open here in town. The only Chick-fil-A in our town is located within a corporate campus and not open to the public. Does that sound American to you?

I'm starting a Campaign to bring Chick-fil-A to our neck of the woods. Living in the Midwest, we have a steakhouse on every corner. You can get your fill of Beef and more Beef whenever and whenever you want it. Let's give the Cows a break. Let's "Eat Mor Chickin."

What is it gonna take. I'll convert to Sweet Tea. I'll wear a Cow Costume. I'll be a walking billboard for a weekend.

Everyone loved the Sandwich. The line to get one was long, but we were determined. It was free (except for the water bottles and cranberry cookie we bought to get the coupon), but more than anything it was Hot, Fresh, Yummy and something other than a Burger.

As proof that I'm not alone in my "Love" of Chick-fil-A check out this You Tube Video. Tim Hawkins is not only hilarious, his words have never been more true and accurate!

God Bless You Chick-fil-A !!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Bucket List :No Need to Rush

At Target yesterday, I avoided a big section in the back of the store aptly name "the Back to School Aisle." I steered my kids instead to the Toy Section and the Birthday Party Section.

You see, it's still SUMMER. We have a few weeks until school starts, but those are very precious weeks. Why are we in such a rush to get to the next thing in our society? Why can't we enjoy the "here and now" instead of pushing ahead?

I realize that Hobby Lobby and Hancock Fabric are pushing Halloween costumes and Christmas decorations and I can forgive this little foible because you have to make the items first. No one makes a Christmas Stocking overnight. However, as far as regular retailers go, why oh why do I need to store notebooks, pencils and lunch boxes in my dinning room for three weeks. I refuse! Furthermore, why is that when I actually need the item like gloves in March when we've lost mates can I only find Swimsuits and Flip Flops.

Granted, the back to school area was hustling with shoppers, winter clothing was out in the children's department, and there were signs everywhere of the "next best season: Fall."

But not me. I'm not going there yet. It's still summer. Don't believe me? Then why I ask you did the weatherman say there was a Heat Warning today with a Heat Index of 105 degrees. Does that sound fall to you?

We still have items to cross out on our Summer Bucket List. Lots of items really. We have a Stay-cation at the Lake, a walk across a Bridge with ice cream on the other side, a trip to the State Capitol to take my niece around campus and the kids to the Children's Museum. We have Homemade Ice Cream to make, Lunch in a Park, and Sleeping outside under the stars in a tent.

We will finish them all before the first day of school, but not before. In fact, considering that the kids start in August, we could probably add a few more "summer" activities to the calendar for weekends after school actually starts.

As far as I'm concerned, the rushing of seasons is the downfall of society. Wait. Enjoy. Savor. Life lessons we could all use. The "next" thing will be here soon enough. I'm choosing to find joy in the moment.

Maybe that's a life lesson retailers need to apply. Sure, we will buy school supplies this fall, we've got plans for a new Kindergarten Backpack and Lunchbox and I'm sure that Miss M will want a cool "trapper keeper" for Middle School, but it's still July. It's still summer. Not yet, Back to School, I'm not falling into that trap yet!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Busy In the Kitchen

I think my middle name might have changed to "Betsy" as in "Betsy Crocker" over the past few days. I've been busy in the Kitchen cooking, canning, and filling up our cookie jar.
Yes, it's been very hot outside lately, but it's summer. Our garden along with the Farmers' Market was calling my name and the children were constantly asking for "treats" from the kitchen.
Here's a little list of what I've made in the past four days...
Homemade Salsa with Fresh Jalapenos from the garden and cilantro from our deck.

Refrigerator Pickles with Cucumbers from the Farmers' Market

Bread and Butter Pickles with more pickling cucs.
We've already given two jars away to our neighbors. I'm thinking that I'll be hitting the Farmer's Market again this weekend looking for more pickling Cucumbers.

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches for the Freezer using leftover buns from our Lake Party over the weekend. (I'll share this recipe later. Just think warm ham and cheese sandwiches that go from freezer to oven and then to your plate for a warm gooey lunch or dinner)

Miss M really helped me make these, she loves to be in the kitchen. These are perfect to giveaway to someone home from the hospital/sick/grieving or any reason. We received this for the first time 13 years ago from dear friends when we brought Mr. C home from the hospital.
Easy and Yummy!
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars-Nestle Recipe
Homemade Pop Tarts - Half the batch with Nutella inside the other half with cinnamon and sugar.
I must admit the hardest part was all the "help" I got in the kitchen. I'm a recipe follower and not really a good teacher. Having little hands wanting to help stresses me out. That's why there are no pictures of the Pop Tarts as the helpful hands were a little too generous on some of the ingredients and they don't look very pretty. They taste great, but they look a mess.
Kinda like my kitchen right now. Wonderful smells are flowing out, but it looks a fright. Where is my sous chef! Oh Honey, there are dishes to do.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Funny Things I've Heard Around Here Lately

Spending hours together traveling provided numerous moments of comedy. Due to the sensitive nature of one of our children, we have taken to laughing to ourselves and not out loud. Guess Miss A believes that we are laughing at her and not with her.

Driving back from Chicago last week, we were all laughing at a joke of sorts that Mr C had told us. Miss A was cracking herself up as were the rest of us. A few minutes later, when it was silent in the car, Miss A asked, "now what was so funny that we were all laughing." I guess she had joined in the laughter just for fun of it, but did not catch the joke.

That of course had us all laughing again.

On Wednesday night, a quick storm rolled through with high winds and rain. The sirens went off and we quickly went to the basement. Now that we've finished off a portion, it's much nicer to weather out a storm. We'd just gotten downstairs when my husband commented how nice it is to "watch" the weather on TV when the lights suddenly went out and everything was dark. We'd lost power.

Really it was just seconds after his comment that we were sitting in the dark. Good going Dad, thanks for that.

Thank Goodness We Have Hand Held Electronics to Play with when the Power is Out!

While the storm was over quickly, we did not have electricity until almost midnight, meaning we had to open up windows, use flashlights to play games and read, and have lanterns ready for nightfall.

Playing Guess Who In Jammies. Thankfully we'd showered before the storm and were all ready for Family Movie Night. Too Bad We Missed the Movie!
It was a little warm in the house so Miss M asked if "we can at least have fans on to cool things down." Well honey, for that to happen, we'd need power!

Rain Storms that come fast and furious leave lots of Puddles behind. You just gotta Jump In!
Mr C asked if we could please close the screen door as the crickets noises would be to loud for him to sleep. Hello! this child goes camping with the Boy Scouts, outside!
Maybe this is why our family never goes camping... we can't even handle roughing it our own beds!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We Know How to Have Fun

Miss A models one of her Birthday Dresses from Bestemor right before we head off in the minivan back home. There were tears following this moment. All three were wondering when the next time we'd see the Grands would be!
There is an old wives, tale that says that after three days relatives and fish both begin to smell. We've either been blessed to have a poor sense of smell or some really great relatives because our annual trek to see the "grands" in Chicago resulted in nothing, but pleasant memories and senses filled homemade yummies and sunscreen.
Bestemor only tried to have the grandkids killed once on the trip. Her good friend volunteered to take the kids on a golf cart ride to the nearby Ice Cream Parlor and drove at record speeds. According to Mr. C, she had the golf cart up to 22 miles an hour and Miss M is sure that her stomach is still reeling from the "cookies" they did in the circle. Miss A, of course, ever the daredevil was just thrilled to get to sit in the backseat with the big kids and feed the ducks at the lake. Oh, and the ice cream was "yummy" especially when eaten just minutes before dinnertime.

Backseat buckle specifically for grandkids-reaches all the way across.

We celebrated an early birthday.
Miss A will turn 6 in just a few short weeks. Cupcakes and Presents.

Dedicated a whole day to the letter "P" just like Sesame Street with Putt Putt, Park outings and Pool time. Dad even used to Pink Golf Ball to Golf! Go P.
Look who got a Hole in One on the first hole! She had another on the 3rd hole and was thrilled that she beat us all with the "highest score" for the day. Guess she still needs to work on her math skills or at least golf scoring. She was the only player that day in our group to get a hole in one though.

Dad and his "pink" ball. What a sport

Mr. C explains to the "girls" how to putt via the "pool method"
Pool Time. Miss A was thrilled to show off her Jellyfish and Starfish strokes to Bestefar.
There was a fabulous new park in the city. Miss M catching some shade.

The next day we Split up Girls/Boys and had makeovers and shopping trips or a visit to see tanks and ammo. You guess which group did which. Big Girl Cousins Really Rock!!
Boys and War Museums.
Miss M and Miss A got makeovers, fancy hair styles and got to try on their cousins "fancy dresses" A real treat and what a great memory. The pictures are too cute. Thanks L2.

Mom finally got to see the famous Wheaton Popcorn Shop and walk back in time with candy treats including Chuckles. Miss A made a hit with a wedding party and got their take home prize, a personalized pom pom, just for being cute.
Candy, Popcorn and a quaint small town, what more could you ask for in America?
Miss A was thrilled to have this Pom Pom... to add to her dress up collection.
There were water balloon fights in the midst of Bestemor's Garden and tears upon leaving.

These girls look so innocent and sweet, but with water balloons in their hands they are deadly. Poor Mr. C still has some marks from their perfect aim. Don't fear Mr. C is quick and feisty too!

The Car Trip went much quicker with the License Plate Game. 36 States; not bad for never leaving the middle of the country. We were really only missing those "east coast small states" as Mr. C said and a few of those "southern states so far from Chicago they've probably never heard of Deep Dish Pizza."

Photographic Proof that Learning never ends, even on vacation!
Thanks to the Iowa Welcome Center, Mr. C can now identify Soybeans growing in a field. It is the one on the right. Not that he was confused by the huge corn rows in the past, but at least he won't think the "bean" fields are something he might find in his stir fry at a Chinese Restaurant! Who says kids don't learn anything all summer long!
We even stopped at the Oasis (Gas Station) for Fun! We live where the roads are free, the taxes are just high rather than the roads fees are high and the gas stations are "up high."

All in all just what the doctor ordered for a summer vacation; sunshine, great company, fun memories and rest.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vacation Re-entry

Lunch Time at Steak and Shake on the way home.... As if there wasn't enough closeness in the car, they decided to share a side of a booth and of course a Hershey's Dark Chocolate Shake.

We've just returned from a short vacation to the Windy City. There is laundry to do, housekeeping to attend to, and, of course, adjusting to being in charge of the daily schedule again.

Re-Entry into the world is tough. Vacations are worth the re-entry time, but I sometimes wish you could stay in "vacation" mode for awhile longer upon returning home. While I know it will be days before we are back in the "real" part, I'm just thrilled that we still have a few weeks left of summer vacation. Too often it seems that once we hit the 4th of July, summer is almost over. This year we are going to avoid back to school shopping and thinking about reality for as long as possible.

Like maybe the weekend before!

Today, Mr. C went to the Eye Doctor and when asked what grade he's entering in the fall, a lump formed in my throat when he said "8th Grade." Wait. Where is that little boy that used to live in our home? Five more years and we'll be packing him off to college.

I might have seen a glimpse of that little boy when the nurse put in the eye drops to dilate his eyes and Cameron was flinching and squirming just like he did at office visits years ago. However, the teenager returned when he put the sunglasses on to walk outside and asked us to warn him if we ran into anyone he knew. He'd be embarrassed to be wearing "old man sunglasses."

I'll be back tomorrow with pictures and stories and funny moments from our vacation, as soon as I figure out what to make for dinner with the few ingredients still in my fridge. I don't want to push re-entry too much by actually going to the grocery store. Too many people and choices.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Jumping In!

Look who jumped off the diving board at the pool on the last day of swimming lessons. Miss A.

Miss A and her teacher Miss Antonia. Taking the long walk to the end of the diving board, Miss A was nervous that she'd touch the bottom of the 12 feet pool. I told her the life vest wouldn't let her.

She was a little apprehensive at first, but once she got up to the board and saw her swim teacher waiting for her in the water, she just jumped right in.

First Jump. She barely even went to the teacher, just started swimming to the edge and the ladder. Oh so brave.

It warms my heart so much to see Miss A loving swimming and having no fear of the water. She loved swim lessons, loved loved loved her teachers, and is ready for Level 2 next summer. By the end of the second week, she was actually swimming. Face in the water, arms moving, legs kicking and taking off across the pool.
Miss A and her favorite teacher Miss Courtney. She made both teachers a picture and note and cried at the end of the lesson about "missing them so much."

When I told the head instructor that Miss A had not taken swim lessons before because of her ear issues, she was shocked at how quickly she just took off. When she told Miss A that she didn't know about her ear, Miss A nonchalantly said, "Oh I had surgery, it's no big deal!"
Second Jump. Much more "air" and Miss Courtney is waiting for her. Miss A jumped two more times, each had a little more air and more courageous.

Gotta love that girl.

Over the weekend, she showed off her expert skills in the water at the Lake and we were amazed at how quickly she just jumped off the dock and started swimming.
Tomorrow, we are taking one of her best buddies with us to the pool so she can show off her stellar skills. Who knows maybe besides soccer, she'll be a swimming star too!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fireworks and Eighties Music Oh My!

I'm not one to love crowds. In fact, I try to avoid them at all costs. Realizing that I live in a smaller sized city, I don't come in contact with crowds all too often. My husbands laughs when I cringe driving in "rush hour" traffic and wonder where "all these cars are coming from?"

Call it crazy then that my little family went to a huge outdoor concert and Fourth of July celebration that drew 80,000 people. Yes you read the number right. That's huge (at least around here)! Tons o People! Everywhere!

My brother and sister-in-law take their family every year to this celebration and we normally sit at home and laugh at the craziness. This year, when my husband heard the name of the bands at the event, he decided we should give it a shot. My sister-in-law even got up at the crack of dawn and set out our blanket at 5:00 a.m. so we've have a great spot. (thanks !)

It was a perfect night. Not too hot, not too buggy and the our "spot" was perfect. It was in the shade, on the edge by the kiddie park, and close enough to be part of the action. We had found a perfect place to park not too far away and had a great exit strategy in place after the fireworks.

The kids loved hanging out with cousins, friends and, of course, Miss A and I found our way to the playground and Porto-potties numerous times.

Now I will admit I don't listen to classic 80's music anymore. In fact, I'm not sure I listened much in the 80's either. What I was doing back then I'm not sure, but it might have involved soccer, school, reading, babysitting and watching 16 Candles and Mr. Mom hundreds of times. Music just wasn't that important to me. So when Kansas, Styx and Foreigner played I probably knew all of 4 songs. Some sounded slightly familiar, but not enough to sing along to.

Proving that Mr. C is his mother's son, he was ready to boot out soon after dinner and few songs. There were too many people. Miss M and Miss M, however, were busy playing with a baby, laughing, hitting beach balls, and drinking Gatorade.
We decided that we should probably sneak out a little early to avoid the rush so we gathered our stuff and walked through no less than 10,000 people's blankets and a Porto-potty line 500 deep to our car. We then watched the fantastic fireworks show across the street from the park and were in our car and home about 1/2 hour after the grand finale.

Perfect. Only sad part is that my husband's favorite band was the closer and their best songs were in the last 1/2 hour that we missed walking back to the car. Honey, thanks for putting up with my fear of crowds. I promise we can buy the songs on Itunes and you can listen to them whenever you want.