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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Snapshot of the Three Year Old Nora

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I was just sitting here organizing photos and other files I have on my laptop and came across the little questionnaire I gave Nora when she turned 3 this past year.  I hope to do it every year to see how she answers the questions differently.  I think it’s cute and it is actually a pretty accurate self-reflection of herself at the time.

Nora ~ 3rd Birthday

1. How old are you? 3 Years Old

2. What makes you happy? Mommy

3. What is your favorite animal? Giraffe

4. What is your favorite thing to eat? Grilled Cheese

5. What is your least favorite thing to eat? Hot Dog

6. What is your favorite thing to do? Do Stamps

7. What is your favorite TV show? My Little Pony

8. What are you really good at? Stamps

9. What is your favorite movie? Snow White

10. What is your favorite color? Purple

11. What is your favorite song? The Ariel Song (Part of Your World)

12. Who is your best friend? My Penguin

13. What do you and your Mom do together? Cook

14. What do you and your Dad do together? Play-doh

15. What is your favorite sport? Gymnastics

16. Where is your favorite place to go? The Zoo

17. What is your favorite book? Strawberry Shortcake Book

18. What do you want to be when you grow up? A Cupcake

19. What is your favorite toy to play with? Pink Puppy

20. How do you want to celebrate your birthday? I Want to Make Cupcakes.

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Homemade Banana Bread

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Recipe:

4 Ripe Bananas

1/3 Cup Melted Butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 Egg

1 tsp Vanilla

1 tsp Baking Soda

Pinch of Salt

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour

Preheat oven to 350.  Mash bananas and mix melted butter into them.  Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla.  Sprinkle baking soda and salt into mixture and combine.  Add flour last and mix.  Pour into a buttered 4X8 loaf pan.  Bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour.

Disclaimer: This is not my recipe.  I got it from a website and I apologize because I no longer have any idea where I got it or who to give the credit to.  All I know is that it is incredibly easy to make and oh so yummy.  I love the way the bananas melt in your mouth when it is fresh out of the oven.

The Simple Moments

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There are a lot of really amazing things about being a parent.  Too many to list actually and something you don’t really understand until you are a parent yourself.  Before you have kids, you think you get it, but you don’t have a clue.  The thing that gets me is when the really small moments take me by surprise and make my heart swell and sometimes bring tears to my eyes.  This was today’s moment:

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Not exactly the amazing, fill your heart with awe moment you were expecting is it?

I had put the sensory rice bin out on the deck to keep the kids busy while my husband and I tried to get some of the deck rails stained.  I walked out to see my typically sassy and rambunctious Meredith playing so sweetly… and it absolutely melted my heart.  It is in these very simple moments that I am utterly and completely overwhelmed by the love I have for my children.  So, I watched her for a while.  Quite a while actually as she filled her little plastic containers with rice and searched for the “jewels” and other things I had hidden in the rice.  And then I went and snapped this picture so that I could remember that moment of pure love and innocence in my little one who won’t be little forever.

The Challenge

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People that know me well can tell you that I get really irritated by the addiction to technology that is running rampant in the world these days.  I am not immune to this either.  I have a facebook account (not twitter or instagram though), I have a smart phone, and I love the convenience of texting instead of having to call people.  I have personally never really been that into video games, but I am a Word with Friends addict.  You get the picture.

I do however, get really disappointed when at family gatherings, everyone is fixated on their electronic devices instead of actually interacting as a family.  It makes me sad when kid’s these days don’t know what board games are.  I really want my kids to know how to use their imaginations, not just an ipad.  And I don’t want them to miss out on the things because they are focused on the world through an electronic lens.

I also love photography.  I was introduced to the art form by a wonderful friend, my freshman year in college.  I loved learning how to use a manual camera (film back then) and the darkroom.  And while photography, like everything else, is now more technology based as, I do still love it.  Something about capturing a moment in time that tells a story, sparks a memory or evokes an emotion.  I regularly have my camera with me.  For me, it mostly enhances the experiences I have.  It is a different way of looking at the world around me.  But, this past week, I have made it a point to leave both my camera and my phone behind and really try to live in the moment.

I took my girl’s to the local YMCA last week and we spent a short time playing in the baby pool.  It was so much fun, really focusing on them.  I helped them rescue a lady bug, search for “turtles” in the water and learn how to keep their balance in the slightly deeper waters of the baby pool.  I snuggled my youngest in her towel when she got too cold and when my oldest slipped and her head dipped under the water, I was her cheerleader as she got herself back up and decided to be proud of herself for being okay even though she was scared.  I didn’t once think about capturing the moment on my camera phone or posting it to facebook.  I was simply there, in that moment, with them.  And I loved every moment.

About a month ago, I was at a local park with my husband and the girls.  There was a boy, around 8 years old, who ended up playing with our girls for a while.  His Dad was never far away from him physically, but he might as well have been.  I watched this boy ask his father to watch him, come stand by him, and even tell him he loved him at one point.  The father never looked up from his phone.  His response to his son’s declaration of love was “Uh huh, yea.”  It broke my heart.  All I wanted to do was slap the phone out of the man’s hand and tell him all of the wonderful things I had seen his son do while playing with us.  I wanted to yell at him and tell him that before he knew it, that kid’s childhood would be gone.  I know that as a parent, we all need a break, but we also need to sometimes leave the technology at home.

So, my challenge to everyone reading this is to take even a small moment to turn off the phone, put away the laptop, put down the camera or camera phone.  The important thing is not that world of facebook and twitter know how wonderful your life and kids are.  The important thing is that your life is wonderful… and that you enjoy it.  Don’t miss it.

Sidewalk “Chalk” Paint

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Recipe: 1/2 Cup Cornstarch, 1/2 Cup Water, 4-5 Drops of Food Coloring

Tonight I decided to take the girls out and let them get messy.  I am not going to lie, playing with my kids like this makes me feel like supermom.  I love seeing them get excited about trying new things.  Some of my ideas are stolen from my own mother and my childhood and some are from Pinterest (like this one).

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This was a lot of fun.  Eventually it evolved from painting the driveway to painting themselves, but I expected that.  The bonus is that the cornstarch makes this “paint” dry fairly quickly so it’s not as messy as it initially seems like it will be.  By the time we went inside, the girls were colorful, but not dripping paint and it washed off really easy in the bathtub.  This is definitely something we will do again.

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Urban Beauty

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Tonight’s family adventure was to the somewhat recently refurbished Washington Park in the Over the Rhine neighborhood of downtown Cincinnati.  The city has been putting some effort into revitalization of this historic, but gone to crap over the years, area of town and it is really starting to show.  The neighborhood itself is beautiful at it’s core… old architecture and history that includes underground beer brewing tunnels and a lot of interesting stories.  The people and the activity of this area have not been so beautiful in recent years, with a lot of crime and run down buildings.  But, the neighborhood has never been devoid of potential.  Anyway, long story short, there is now a thriving business and social undertaking that is making OTR a destination once again.  Washington Park is part of that.

http://washingtonpark.org/

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We parked on the street at a meter (a brick paved street at that – love those!), but there is garage underneath as well for $1 an hour if you feel safer parking there.  Washington Park really has it all.  It has a sectioned off dog park, open green space, organized events (tonight’s was a free yoga class and there had to be about 60 people there for it), a water fountain play space and a more traditional play space.  The girls loved the sand area, the castle with the slides and the musical instruments.

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My favorite part was watching the girls play in the fountains and on the waterfall steps.

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It is important to note that the neighborhood is still rough around the edges.  A friend and her son witnessed a fist fight one night while they were there and you can count on likely hearing some colorful language at some point.  However, I still feel strongly that this park is one that everyone in this area should visit at least once.  As a born and raised Cincinnatian, it is nice to see the promise of how amazing this city can be.  And the park is truly beautiful… and fun.  We will go back.

Unwilling Gardener

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I do not have a green thumb.  I love beautiful gardens, but I don’t have that innate ability to design them, never mind tend them.  I mean well, but sometimes even basic watering is beyond me, so forget the more complex stuff like fertilizer.

My husband and I bought a foreclosure recently though and the yard had been neglected for quite some time.  We have had to cut down dead trees and tear out thorn bushes.  And the front windows of the house were covered by overgrown juniper trees.  (I only know what they were because someone told me.)  So, while I am not a gardener, I found myself unable to avoid it as we certainly do not have the funds for professional landscaping.

So, my husband tore out the trees and I planted hydrangeas.  I knew I wanted hydrangeas, but had no clue if they would actually grow in this particular garden.  The guy at the nursery gave me a little information and I followed the instructions on the tag, planting them with a little fertilizer and watering them often.  I put down mulch and I even weeded the gardens today.  And I have to say… they are thriving!  I am so excited to see how well these beautiful plants are doing.

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Don’t get me wrong… I still have no green thumb and I still know nothing.  I chalk this current success up to dumb luck, but I will say that it has made me realize why people like gardening.  It gives you a sense of accomplishment.  That feeling you get from designing and creating something beautiful is pretty satisfying.  It was also really nice to just be outside on a gorgeous day, focused on a task that didn’t require a ton of concentration or stress. 

The artsy side of me also loves the colors involved with flowers and gardens.  My all time favorite flower is the orange calla lily. They were the flowers in my wedding and I was incredibly excited when I received this one from a good friend for a house warming present.

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The calla lilies are just in a pot on my front porch and every day I walk outside fully expecting them to have died overnight.  They just seem like the type of plant I will eventually doom to it’s death. 

I chose this particular bush for it’s interesting pink leaves and the fact that it will eventually become a good size shrub (or so the tag said). It also seems to be happy living it’s new life in my front yard… so far.

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And while I haven’t seen them yet, the hydrangea bushes are supposed to be strawberry vanilla and lime blooms.  I would be lying if I didn’t say I am a little giddy when thinking about the day those first blooms will appear.  So, while I am by no means committed to this gardening business, I am sort of enjoying this process at the moment.  My gardens will never be the elaborate creations of magazine covers, but I am content with my simple one.  And my garden sea turtle makes me smile every time I see him.

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