27 May 2009

Yes, I mean that. There are a TON of photos in this post. I am essentially sitting you down to show you our vacation photo album. I have done my best to share only the highlights of the trip, but be warned, and RUN LIKE THE WIND if you are likely to become overwhelmed by photos of myself or my family.

Consider yourself warned.

That said, we had an absolutely lovely vacation to Memphis this past weekend. We travelled with my sister and her husband and daughter (only 3 months younger than Oliver) and had a great time seeing a lot of fun things.

Care to see some highlights?

We started off our trip to Memphis in the way any trip to Memphis should begin. Barbecue. We all enjoyed our plates full of ribs - and barbecue spaghetti - and seven hundred wet naps later, moved on into the downtown area.

We spotted all the balls at the FedEx Forum a mile away and Oliver and Beatrice were quick to jump out of their strollers and enjoy the oversized joy!

We assumed that Beale Street was a must-see. Unfortunately, it was a must-not-see. It was quite overwhelming and really no place for children. (Did you know that Memphis is ranked the 4th most dangerous city in the United States?)

Oliver did take a moment to enjoy being allowed to walk in the street and played one of his favorite stroller games. This game involves a lot of running and chug-a-chug-a-choo-choo-ing, of course.
It may have been more fun if we didn't have two-year-olds with us - we could have enjoyed the music - but we quickly scooted our little treasures off of Beale Street and on to the Peabody Hotel to see the ducks! (I will note here that waiting in a crowded lobby to see ducks march from a fountain into an elevator is a bit overrated. I think the kids enjoyed seeing the ducks, but there were really too many people for us to enjoy ourselves.)

The next day we enjoyed a quiet morning at our cabin in the Meeman-Shelby State Park and went on to enjoy shopping at the Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma outlets.
For lunch: delicious food at Dan McGuiness Pub!
Yes, Oliver is poking his eye with a straw. You think that's crazy? Go ahead to the next photo.
We may be raising a lunatic. :)

But, who is not a lunatic? Why, my sweet Beatrice, of course.
Isn't this the cutest little peanut lady you've ever seen? I adore her.

After a happy, filling lunch we were off to the races! The greyhound races, that is.
Again, I don't have any photos of the greyhounds racing, but I assure you they were cool and fast! The kids loved watching the dogs but we realized here as we realized on Beale Street that this was really no place for children.

We bet on a few races (we only spent $10, don't worry!) and after one thrilling win for Ryan, we lost the rest of our wagers. Here we are, feeling sad that our dogs didn't win.
And Ryan and Caleb, wondering how they're going to pay back all their gambling debts. :)
(I really do have to say that watching the races and guessing the winners based on their statistics was truly thrilling! It's probably best that there are no greyhound tracks in the Nashville area... are there?)
We made a quick, obligatory stop at Graceland to see where Elvis lived, died and is buried. It was swarming with tourists and we were not about to fork over a load of cash to tour the place. So, a photo of the front gate will have to do.

We began our third and final day with a stop at my favorite spice shoppe. You may have heard me wax eloquent about Penzey's before. This, however, was my first retail store experience as I have only ever been able to shop their catalogue or online. I wish I had photos of the cute store, but all have is a shot of my cute guy who is proud of his coloring that had just been posted on the wall (top left, all by itself - a tiger and a blue circle, not really related to spices or Penzey's at all).

Are you retinas bleeding yet? Go get a glass of water if you like, you may need it.

We spent much of our final day enjoying a little river called the Mississippi.
We found a great place called Mud Island that actually has a true to scale model of the river beginning in Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky and going all the way down into the gulf cost. (It's about 5 city blocks long.)
I think Oliver is in a Minnesota lake here. See how even the elevation is to scale - so you can see what happens when the water is high with floods and low with droughts.
Here is a good shot so that you can see the river winding it's way down.
Oliver is making his way through the Tennessee river. We really wished midway through that we'd thought to pack toy boats. We were also quite tempted to play with nature and build dams and such to see what havoc we could wreak.

Another shot of the pretty park.
And here we are arriving at the Gulf of Mexico. It was neat to be in the little scaled down Mississippi and at any moment be able to glance over to the mighty river itself. Cool.
Lunch at Cordelia's Table. It was a lucky find and a MUST if you're ever in Memphis.
Our final activity was the Memphis Zoo. The kids really loved this - they're finally at a good age to appreciate seeing the animals.
He's holding his hand with his foot. It's weird. I'm just saying.

We love this snack cup. It is so pretty and so functional. Woot.
Are we at all surprised that this is the final picture? We tired these puppies out this weekend!
That's all! If you're still with me you are a true friend (or a grandparent!). We really did have a wonderfully relaxing and fun time away. It was much needed. And, best of all, it was SO GREAT to come home!

Happy Wednesday, friends!

21 May 2009

Ryan: Oliver, you need to choose inside or outside. We have the air conditioning on and we need to keep the door closed.

Oliver (in his most pitiful voice): No ooutside.

Ryan: Well then, you can stay inside.

Oliver (still pitiful): Noooo inside.

Ryan: Then where do you want to be?

Oliver (ever pitiful): On vacaaaaation!

Me too, buddy, me too.

16 May 2009

Kaira left a great suggestion in the comment section of this post this afternoon. Why not include the price of each item so we can see the breakdown of what I paid for what. Duh! That's a great idea and I don't know why I didn't think of that to begin with! Thanks, Kaira for the suggestion. And, since you asked so nicely, I am happy to oblige! (See below for prices added to each item.)

**original post follows**

My alarm went off at 6:50 this morning as it does every Saturday morning in the months of March - October. Saturday mornings aren't for sleeping in in our house. At least not for the Mama. Saturday mornings are the earliest of all the mornings, and, in my opinion, the most exciting!

I set out today with rain pouring down, $11 in my pocket, the cuffs of my jeans rolled up, and complete submission to whatever the humid weather had in store for my hair. It was a garage sale morning - and I was pumped!

Yeah, it was early and rainy and I wasn't even sure people were going to be willing to sit out in the rain to sell their stuff. But I had vision. (I also had a snack bag full of baby carrots and a granola bar!)

Sure enough, a little over three hours later, I was already pulling back into my driveway. The sun was beating down and the temperature was already flirting with 80 degrees. I opened the front door and Oliver was excitedly making his way down the stairs asking me if I'd brought something home for him.

Boy, did I!

I love this! I love going out by myself or with my Mom and sister for a few hours every week, knowing in my head the things I'd like to find, and also stumbling across all kinds of things I'm thrilled I did.

I think of it as a twofold venture:
1. I get to get out away from being a Mommy with my little change purse filled with whatever money I was able to scrounge up the night before, and shop to my little heart's content. I love the thrill of the hunt!

2. It's is my way of being able to provide for my family. I don't actually bring in a lot of actual income into our house. We're just fine with that. But, I like to contribute in other ways. And this is a great one. I may have said before that I can actually count on my two hands the number of clothing items we've ever bought for Oliver from a retail store. He's a second-hand kid and he looks great! The same goes for us with much of what we wear and use in our house. We are not the original owners of at least 50% of the things in every room in our house. It's honestly hard for me to bring myself to pay full price for anything now.

Last summer, for example, was our first summer in Tennessee that we weren't paying someone else to do our lawn care. We needed tools. I needed a leaf rake, dirt rake, push broom and some orange extension cords. It took several weeks of finding one thing hear and another there. But, I found them! And, paid less than $8 for all of that and more.

It's frugal, yes. But, I also think it's very "green". Why buy new when you can just use something your neighbor is finished with?

So, what did I come home with this morning? What did I buy today that I knew would make Oliver's whole body wiggle? So glad you asked! Here's a little list:

  • $1 - 2 cute shirts for me! (Always a plus and much more rare than good clothes for Oliver. All 2-year-olds are about the same size. All 26-year-olds are not.)
  • $.50 - 1 pair of soccer cleats for Oliver (a size smaller than the pair I bought last weekend)
  • $.25 - A kite - still in the packaging (a good thing to tuck away for a windy day)
  • $.25 - A soaker gun and a pair of swimmies (our neighborhood pool is opening next Saturday!)
  • $1 - A small planter
  • $3 - A small dresser for Oliver's room - I think I'll paint it navy as well (to match his new headboard), it will be good storage since his changing table is on it's way out.
  • $2 - A big ol' construction something. (This is what I knew would make Oliver's heart happy.) I'm not confident on the name of this thing (though I'm really trying to learn!), so if anyone can tell me what this is, I'd be happy to know!
  • $.50 - 2 navy and blue baskets for closet storage for Oliver
  • $.25 "But Not the Hippopatamous" by Sandra Boynton (one of our FAVORITE children's book authors!)
  • $1 - 4 picture frames of various sizes. I love buying good, old frames at tag sales because I can get interesting frames, paint them black, and have an interesting collection of frames and photos on our big stair wall. This week I got a frame for a 4x6 photo that is actually at least 3" wide on each side. It's very ornate, very cool.
  • Free (I asked about the price and the woman told me I could just have it!) A lawn sprinkler. It's pure summer fun waiting to be hooked up to a hose!
  • $1 - A set of dark grey queen bed sheets with pillow cases. It's great to have a nice back-up pair!
  • $.25 - 2 galvanized pails. I'm thinking of maybe painting the red one blue, drilling a hole in the bottom and making it a planter. Hmm.

And, that's what $11 will buy you in middle Tennessee on a Saturday morning.

And, for Saturday afternoon? Why, construction, of course!

Love and bargains!

15 May 2009

I'm in the middle of fixing one of my all-time favorite meals for dinner tonight. I've been distracted, though, by the urge to post the recipe to share with y'all because I'm so looking forward to sitting down at the table tonight. I want everyone else to get to enjoy a tasty treat of a meal too! It's great because, in a pinch - and as long as I have chicken - I usually have all the ingredients on hand. It's a great go-to.

So, since I haven't posted a recipe in a while, here is one of the best:

Sweet Curry Chicken

1+ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
2/3 C butter, melted
2/3 C honey (use local honey!)
4T mustard
2t salt
2t sweet curry powder
(This is the KEY ingredient to it's deliciousness! I use Penzey's Sweet Curry Powder, but you can also find this in your local grocery store.)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut chicken into 1" cubes. (I like to hold it in the air with tongs and snip it up with scissors. I think it's faster and it keeps me from having to touch the chicken.)
  3. Combine melted butter, honey, mustard, salt and curry powder in a separate bowl.
  4. Add mixture to chicken cubes and stir to coat.
  5. Bake 45 minutes or so until the chicken looks good and done.
  6. Meanwhile, steam a few cups of rice in a steamer.
  7. Serve chicken over rice and enjoy.
(Note: Yes, I know, there are no vegetables in this meal. I have added zucchini before and been very pleased. I've also sometimes added broccoli. Coconut milk also adds a nice layer of flavor if you cook it with the chicken. Play with it! It's comfort food at it's best. And, the leftovers actually rival the original meal!)

(Another Note: For kids, just stick some of the cooked chicken and sauce into a food processor with some cooked rice. Blended roughly it's a winner even with Oliver.)

Bon Appetite!

And now, back to preparing dinner for my own family...

12 May 2009

This morning I checked my email inbox and found an email with an attachment from a name I didn't recognize. I can't believe I almost deleted it. It was my husband, actually, who recognized the name and encouraged me to see what it was all about. I clicked the link to Sarah's blog and was absolutely speechless at what I found.

It was a Mother's Day wish. She had written Evie's name on a petal.

This stranger knows the name of our little girl, and honored her among the other precious babies to be remembered. Perhaps this seems trivial to some, but to me - the Mommy of sweet Evie Grace, who missed her tremendously on Mother's Day - this was a gift.

Thank you, Sarah, for thinking of me and remembering our Evie Grace.

10 May 2009

Love you, Mama!

06 May 2009

Hello friends! Welcome to Way Back Whensday - the blog carnival I created way back here where we look way back in our photo archives (whether 2 months or 20 years!) to share with our friends the glories of where we were way back when!

This week's theme is "Water, Water Everywhere". I invite you to dig out old photos of yourselves as babies, children, teenagers or adults (or even of your own children) at the beach or pool.

I'm so excited to see what you've come up with! Fire up those scanners, friends, and join me for a trip Way Back When! And don't worry if it's not Wednesday anymore, you're always welcome to jump on board!

I'll start with a photo of my sister and me. In this photo, she's 2 and I'm 1 month old. My Mom used to take us to swim at our friends the Richardsons' pool. Notice the cute star bathing suit she's wearing?

Fast-forward two years: Becky (yes, we called her "Becky" then, so I'm calling her "Becky" for this photo) was 4 and I was 2. Now I'm wearing the star bathing suit! Isn't my mom cute to have the wherewithall while raising two little girls to recreate a cute picture? Nice work, Mom! (And, nice face, Becky!)

And, here we are that same summer at the Leckrones' pool, I believe. In this picture, I'm about the age that Oliver is now. I'm so glad I had a big sister to swim with me!

That's all I've got. It turns out, all the beach trips happened before I was born. But, these photos are great to have!

Alright, friends, you're up! Do you think we can hit more than three links this week? Dig deep, girls!

So, here's the deal: if we get at least five participants this week, I'll do this again next week. And, believe me, you want this to happen, because next week is all about birthday pictures! And, I know your Moms made some killer homemade birthday cakes! See you then!

02 May 2009

Oliver got his very first pair of soccer cleats today. I bought them and 3 pairs of tiny shin guards for about $1.50! He refuses to wear the shin guards because they feel funny (Ryan never much liked wearing shin guards either, and generally wore child's-sized guards and even cut-out pizza boxes to satisfy the league's requirements), but he sure does look like a big kid in the cleats!