Thursday, August 25, 2011

Headband Winner

I'm so excited I got my very first comments on the blog with this giveaway!  I'll be working on some headbands and hair accessories tonight so I can get my etsy shop up and running, and so I can get one ready for my first ever giveaway winner!  I used to choose from the comments on your favorite childhood treat, and the winner is....

Commenter #1, Jane, who said chocolate chip cookies and creamsicles were her favorite treats from childhood.

Congratulations, Jane, email me your address at and tell me if you prefer white or black for your headband.  And you'll be happy to learn that I'm making a version of a creamsicle cupcake sometime in the next week, so check back for the recipe and my review. 

Yesterday was a crazy busy day (and also my birthday), so I'm going to make a cup of tea, have some leftover cake, and work on my headbands.  Good night readers!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Cake, a Cupcake, and a Giveaway

So, my birthday is this week.  I'm turning 29, and that's a for-real 29, not the 29 that I'll claim to be next year and the year after that.  Lilah thinks that's terribly old, but any excuse for a party and she's all over it.  She helped Memere make me a birthday cake today.  By helping, I mean cleaning the beaters for her after it was mixed:
And of course, Grady got in on the action:
Unabashed cake batter licking.  Yep, that's how we roll.

You wanna see pure bliss, though?  I'll show you pure bliss:
The girl has no shame.
Grady dipped his beater in the bowl for another go:
After they cleaned up and the cake was cool, they both lined up for a shot at frosting and decorating.  Lots of sugar was consumed by my children today, and the cake hasn't even been sliced yet.
Love that pouty face!
Here's the (almost) finished product.  They added some rainbow sprinkles, chocolate chips, and a few fingerprints after.
I can't wait to eat it tomorrow!  (That's if Grady doesn't dive in first.)

While we're on the subject of cake, I made these little beauties a little while ago.  Root Beer Float Cupcakes from How Sweet It Is.
Hello, lover.

They are so fabulous.  Root beer floats are one of my favorite childhood treats, and in cupcake form they rock my world.  You seriously must check out How Sweet It Is, it is one of my favorite blogs and I have tried many recipes already.  Every single one has knocked my socks off.  Next to Pinterest, it's my latest obsession.

And I know I've been teasing you with a giveaway for a couple of weeks now, but I'm finally ready to do it!  I am getting ready to set up my own Etsy shop with some fun accessories, and I got some fantastic vintage lace to make headbands.  So one lucky commenter on this post will get a custom-made headband in their choice of black or white.  Just post a comment below telling me what your favorite childhood treat was, and I'll choose a winner at random later in the week.  Contest is limited to posters with US/APO addresses only.  You'll get an extra entry if you post a link to my blog on your Facebook page and tell me in your comment!  Good luck, and check back soon to see if you won!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just Another Summer Day

The boys and I trekked up north a bit today to pick up Lilah, who had spent a couple of days with my Nana.  As is traditional, Lilah got spoiled at Nana's and will surely have a "grammy hangover" tomorrow (you know, that wonderful day-after-spending-time-with-the-grandparents, must-have-my-way, whiny-and-overtired kind of day).  I won't complain, though, because I know I went home many times over the years with grammy hangovers that surely drove my parents crazy.  And those sweet, precious overnight visits are among the most cherished of my childhood memories, so if I have to endure a day or so of a cranky three-year-old, so be it.

Anyway, Lilah got to go to the fair for the first time, where she enjoyed seeing all of the farm animals in the agricultural barn, won a stuffed monkey in a fishing game, and timidly went on a couple of rides with her baby cousin.  She also got to spend some quality time with her Auntie Danielle, my baby sister, before she leaves for college next week (eek! My baby sister is going to college?!).  She ate pasta and berries at every meal (her favorites), had no bedtime, and got to pick a movie to watch each night.  She colored to her heart's content with no little brother to steal her crayons, sat on the lawn tractor with Uncle Chris (my cousin), and showed everyone how she wants to "be a ballet" when she grows up (and apparently a farmer too).  All in all, it was the kind of visit that she'll be talking about for weeks and will store in her memory bank for life.

As lovely as it was to have the two boys to myself for a couple of days, it was so nice to have my girl back today.  We spent a little more time at Nana's before heading back to my in-laws', and Grady and Lilah cooled off a bit in the sprinkler and in Aunt Terri's garden fountains.  Since Uncle Chris had just mowed the lawn, however, both children were coated in a nice thick layer of green grass when they were through, so we did a quick hose-down before jumping in the car, and all three kiddos zonked out for the entire ride home.

I should turn in early tonight - it's sure to be a fun day of tantrums and sibling squabbles tomorrow.  I have some great recipes to try coming up, and I promise a giveaway is coming! 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Letting Kids Be Kids

This past week has been filled with fun and adventure for us here in Vermont and we've made so many memories that I'll cherish forever.  We've done lots of playing outside, lots of baking, and lots of visiting with family.  Lilah and Grady have a new favorite game to play when we go out, and if I didn't already have Lilah's Halloween costume, this game would have inspired the perfect costumes for them this year: The Three Little Pigs.  It's always been one of Lilah's favorite stories, and she has come up with a way to act it out with Grady and me when we play in the backyard.  They run from tree to tree, with each one being a different kind of house - the maple is the house of sticks, the apple tree is the house of straw, and the walnut is the house of bricks.  I, of course, am the Big Bad Wolf who has to chase them and huff and puff to blow the houses down.  But Grady likes to be the Big Bad Wolf too, so sometimes he crosses over to the dark side and chases his sister and huffs and puffs with me.

It's heartwarming to watch my children play together and use their imaginations.  It takes me back to when I was growing up, running around on the farm with my brother and sister and cousins and neighbors, making up stories for us all to act out.  A cornfield could be a castle, a tree could be a pirate hideaway, or a hay barn could be the setting for our many games of 'house'.  We made milkweed crowns, picked daisies and Indian paintbrushes for bridal bouquets, and an old wooden fence was as good as a white horse to ride away on.  Our parents let us create our own worlds, and imagination was the very best tool in our toy box. 

All too often parents, myself included, get caught up in the glitz and excitement of the wide array of toys that do things, and we forget that really the simplest of objects can spark our children's minds in ways that all the electronic gadgets in the world cannot.  Sure, it's nice to have a little pink 'laptop' for Lilah to play with that helps her learn her letters and numbers, but it's no substitute for me sitting down with her and a piece of paper and a marker to teach her myself.  I try to play with and interact with my kids as much as possible, but I'm no superwoman.  And I'm finding that now that Grady is talking more and enjoying pretend play, that they are more likely to come up with their own entertainment with each other.  I am very much a person who likes to have a hand in whatever is going on, but I'm working on taking a step back and letting them just do their thing.  "Child-led play" is a big buzzword in early childhood education, and it makes so much sense.  Of course they need direction and discipline, but they are perfectly capable of deciding what they like to do during the day.  Sometimes that means an entire day of coloring and drawing, sometimes that means a lot of pretend play, and sometimes that means a lot of sitting on the couch and reading books.  Most days it's a combination of those things, and then some.

It's hard for me to let go of the reins sometimes, especially because I have always been a very routine person and I like a structured day.  Maybe it comes from working in a day care, but I have to have a 'schedule' for our days or I think I would go crazy.  That being said, I've been trying to relax about the routine a little bit while we are here visiting and go with the flow more.  The kids still need their naps and a decent bedtime, but I've been able to work around our normal schedule a little bit so that they can take full advantage of the opportunity to visit with family and just play outdoors as much as possible.  So after naps today, instead of doing our normal afternoon thing and playing together here at the house before dinner, we took a little trip to Miss Charlene's to see the horses, Cocoa and Pepper.  Lilah was hesitant to get on, but Grady was all about jumping up in the saddle on little Cocoa! 

He looks like he was born to ride!

Sitting on the tractor was more Lilah's speed.

She loved patting Cocoa, but was "a bit shy" about riding her.

I'm so glad that I took a step out of my own way and just went for it today.  It may seem small, just going for a short visit to a nearby friend's for the afternoon, but it's a big deal for me.  As my children grow and learn, I'm finding that I'm doing just as much growing and learning myself. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It may sound silly, but I hold a special place in my heart for the blackberries at my in-laws' house in Vermont.  It was two summers ago, before they had moved back here from Utah, when Matt and I stopped by on our way back to Boston to check on the vineyard and give Lilah a little time to run around before our long trek home.  She was just a little thing then - just barely walking, and Grady was probably hardly bigger than one of those blackberries.  We were a family of three, almost four, and we hadn't given much thought to moving back "home" to Vermont, except maybe when we were talking about way down the road in our retirement.  We had been settled in our little house for two years at that point, and thought that when we upgraded it would just be to a bigger home in Massachusetts.

That all changed after that visit.

Matt's grandfather, Pepere, was mowing around the grapes in the vineyard (and oh, Pepere and the grapes is a story for another time!), and he stopped to show us all the huge blackberries growing on the bushes in the backyard.  We're talking big, juicy berries, glossy as snake eyes and warm from the sun.  He picked a handful for Lilah, who immediately stuffed them all in her tiny mouth and was looking for more.  By the time we loaded ourselves back in the car, her cheeks, chin, and hands were stained with purple blackberry juice and she had a belly full of berries.  Matt started driving down the road, and both of us were quiet for a minute or two.  And then, we looked at each other with what was probably the exact same expression on both of our faces; we were thinking the same thought but afraid to say it for fear that the other was not going to be on the same page.  And I don't remember who said it first or the exact words, but we both knew that we wanted to move back to Vermont, to raise our kids where we had been raised.  We wanted to see them eat blackberries off the bush in the summer, pick apples from the trees in the fall, cut down our own Christmas tree in the winter, and plant a new garden in the spring.

And last summer, Matt's parents moved back home and we spent a lot of time here in Vermont with them.  It was so nice to be able to let Lilah run around barefoot in the grass, and Grady learned to crawl in their backyard.  Again, we picked blackberries, this time turning them into pies, muffins, pancakes and shortcake.  There were blackberries coming out our ears, and Lilah loved going out to pick them with her little basket.  She ate more than she brought inside, but that's the nature of berry-picking when you're little.  They taste best straight from the bush and warm from the sun.

Now here I am again, this summer, picking blackberries.  It's an easier task this year, as Matt's sister took the time to clear out some rows while she was here visiting, and the berry patch looks great.  We've got blackberries coming out our ears again, and I have big baking plans this week, including some new recipes I'll share later.  I picked a bunch today, while all three kiddos napped, and it was so peaceful and relaxing to walk around the bushes and hear the plunk of the berries in my bucket.  It seemed like more berries were getting ripe as I made my way through the rows, and I'm sure they'll be another haul to pick tomorrow.  I'm just praying that by this time next year, we'll be calling Vermont home and berry-picking will be just another part of our daily life instead of a treat on vacation.

Photo by Lilah

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Beauty of Motherhood

As you may have noticed, I'm working on "redecorating" my blog, trying to make it reflect me.  I've been thinking long and hard about what direction I want to take it in, whether I should focus on just one topic, and what I want it to look like.  It will be an evolutionary process, that is the only thing I am sure of.  I can't decide just what it will be, that is boxing myself in too much.  But I have figured out something I'm pretty excited about, and that's my new subtitle, if you will, to the blog: The Beauty of Motherhood.

When I was thinking about whether to focus on one topic (photography? parenting? cooking?), I went around in circles trying to figure out which way to go.  The only thing I kept coming back to was my day-to-day life as a stay-at-home mom.  It's certainly cliche and may sound trite, but being home with my children is the hardest and most rewarding job I can imagine having.  It's tough at times, but always, always beautiful.  I get to spend my days with these wonderful little people who bring tremendous joy to my life.  They love me unconditionally, as I do them, and we truly enjoy our time together every day.  That might mean an impromptu photo shoot one day, or a new craft another, or a day of baking in the kitchen.  It's always new, and I learn as much from them as they do from me.  And now I've found a way to share all of that, with this blog.  I've followed a few "mommy blogs" for some time now, and I love the network/community that it creates.  When you're struggling with an aspect of parenting, want to share something wonderful your kids did, or learning a new skill, there's a whole world of support out there and people to learn from.  I'm excited to be a part of the blog community and hope that my readers are as happy to have me as I am to have them.

Now, a few photos from the last couple of days:

The artist at work.

This kid is the epitome of mischief.

"Um, hi, I look"

Lilah, pretending to be sad.

And pretending to be mad.  I swear this girl will be on stage some day.
Well, good night all.  I hope you like the new direction I'm going in.  My next post will be from beautiful, rural Vermont.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Exciting Things

As usual, my days are a whirlwind lately, and lots of changes are coming my way.  We've got big home projects on the horizon so that we can get our house on the market, I'm thinking about opening an Etsy shop, and some fun new things will be happening with this blog soon.  I may have some sponsors and advertisers in the very near future, as well as some really awesome giveaways coming up!  I love giving presents to people, so this will seem like I get to give presents on a regular basis for no reason other than thanking you for reading my blog.  I just love wrapping gifts for people, and I have a really fun one on the way to my mom for her birthday coming up next week.  I can't wait until she gets it - hi, Mom!

Because our house will be in a state of disrepair very soon, I am heading up to the country with the kids to spend some time with my in-laws (and many visits to my family, too).  I can't wait to let Lilah and Grady truly run around outside, pick ripe blackberries, and play in the sprinkler.  There will be nightly "jammie walks" with Lilah after tubbies, pushing Grady in the swing in the apple tree out back, and some solitary runs on the bike path for me.  It will be wonderful to spend time with our families and get a taste of what it will be like when we (hopefully sooner than later) get to move back home.  It's funny how I spent much of my teenage years aching to get out of my home state, but now as 30 is fast approaching, it's the only place I want to be.  I'm so glad that I went out and experienced life in different parts of the country, as I have made some amazing friends along the way, but Matt and I know where our hearts lie, and we hope our children love it as much as we do. 

No reason, other than, how CUTE is this face?!
So stay tuned and check back often - I'm hoping to post a giveaway in the coming week!