Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday's mail is here....

Warmest water at the beach so far this week. Too bad I was too tired to fight the waves today. But, as you can see, there was much fun to be had hanging out in the sand.

If you remember from yesterday, we're still working on "48-hour Family Restaurant Challenge." You could feel it was boys day today, as Grandpa sent the guys to the beach in the morning, so they would be ready to cook in the afternoon. The attack forts and safety moats went up quickly! RJ2, meantime, was enjoying a sand bath!

R and I got to go on a lunch date. The "Tailgate" dinner the boys prepared was a lot of fun and crazy delicious! (Even gluten-free breaded chicken! My family is spoiling me with gluten-free entrees and specials this week.) Kids finished out the night drawing chalk pictures on the driveway.

CJ went out shopping with the girls this morning; brought home a sweet bracelet (and some kind of tattoo!) RJ2 lost a tooth! She was so proud to celebrate. "Everyone, give a hand!" as she likes to say. And everyone did.

As I probably say every year, I can't believe it's the last full day at the beach tomorrow--already!?!! Looking forward to going all-out on the hottest day to come....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday's mail is here!

If you have read my beach posts before, you know my family is pretty creative when it comes to having fun at the beach. (I know. As if the beach isn't fun in and of itself!)

We are playing "48-hour Family Restaurant Challenge." A bunch of Food Network fanatics we are! This isn't a competition, but the exhibition is just as exciting. Grandma took the girls and Grandpa took the guys. Each team of kids is to create their own restaurant--complete with decor, staffing and, of course, menu items for dinner. They have to cook and serve!

The girls were on tonight. We all enjoyed dinner at "The Salty Dog Cafe," and the service was terrific! (CJ opted to write a review of the dining experience; perhaps we can post that later.)

Otherwise today, one crew went off crabbing while the rest of us went back to the beach for an afternoon of excellent boogie-boarding. (I took one wave all the way into shore, baby--yeah!) Kids got ice cream off the truck. A morning shower was a welcome period of downtime. It's been a wonderful week so far.

OK, guys tomorrow night....

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday's mail is here!

My brother-in-law started the day with homemade French toast and bacon (not that I could have the French toast, but it looked great). He and my sister finished with these amazing kabobs! The family food has been marvelous. The weather is crazy warm, but the breeze kicks in every now and again.

Tuesday will go down in my memory as the day I rode the boogie board for the first time! It wasn't the old raft that we used to take to the Jersey shore in my pre-teen days. But, the technique is all the same, and it really did all come back like riding a bike. I had the best time!! As I was bringing the board back in, R asked, "Had enough?" I said, "Well, actually, it's kind of addictive." I'm hoping to venture back out into the waves tomorrow. Freeing and fun!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday's mail is here....

The water continues to be warm and the surf continues to be vigorous for excellent boogie-boarding! Discovered that we can watch the family's surfers in the ocean while eating lunch at the counter in the home kitchen. Excellent! Hot-tubbing and a storm today. More warm water on the way!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday's mail is here!

Golly, is it beautiful here! Water temperature is perfect, which is good since every kid seems to be further and further out to sea! Growing up and playing hard!! It's fun to watch. Lots of swimming, too, and another fantastic sunset. Looking forward to more of the same for Monday....

Saturday's Mail

My anklet is securely fastened. Trip down went great. Beautiful house with a marvelous view of the ocean. Kids went night swimming--all 9 of them! Can't wait to feel the sand and surf in the AM!

Friday, June 24, 2011

What a Friday!

Best blueberry picking ever! 20 pounds in about 45 minutes. Really superb crop (at Swift Creek Berry Farm) and good-enough conditions (as in, not sweltering!). My niece has just finished up baking two blueberry pies as I'm writing this. Gluten-free blueberry coffee cake (a la Chatty Kelly) tomorrow morning.

The cousins did a great job.

We had a water break at the car before heading off for something really cool....

No waiting at the Short Pump Sweet Frog. Everyone enjoyed some yummy treats. And, we found out that frozen yogurt places seem to be sweeping the country, with everyone mentioning the name of a different place! Bring it on--more places to visit, in more places!

Today was the very, very last day of Wild and Wacky Waterworks. CJ was invited to come back to help next summer as a junior counselor. She'll have this lovely photo to remember her experience.....

Note the special jump rope they gave her. Not sure how I'm getting today's spitted dirt out of her shirt. (Spitted out of a super soaker. Don't be gross!)

The cousins couldn't wait to get together to play dance games on the wii. The video of this is much better than the still. They have amazing coordination for not practicing together. (And if you accept RJ2 as a soloist.)

Later on, RJ2 and cousin M sought out a new place to play--the open hatch of the Volvo, being prepared for packing for the beach. Ah, if only we could drive down to the Outer Banks with you two in the back....

The driveway is completely covered with greetings, name lists and fun phrases. You can just sense the [over-]excitement everywhere. It must be time for vacation.

And as the sun sets on Friday, we know that the landscape come tomorrow will change dramatically. Can't wait. If technology goes in our direction, we'll give you a peek. If not, we'll see you in a week!.....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Company's here!

Time's up! Company's here!!

It's been a long day. Started out great. RJ2 was feeling super-responsible. "Mom, can you take my picture while I'm brushing my teeth?" What? You're brushing your teeth?! Yeah....

She was such a charmer this morning, carrying on lots of conversation over breakfast with a newly-come-home R. She knew company was on the way, and she couldn't wait!

I was wrapping up lots of things. Trying to make as much room as possible for guests' things. (The Expander is about half capacity right now. Gotta crank it up tomorrow!) Ironed up my niece's gift so she could open it up tonight.

This was not an easy shirt to make! The fabric was perfect for the application, but I am obviously not used to handling anything outside of cotton! It was very difficult to make it behave. It should be really comfortable, though. And the colors remind me of her.

CJ was back at water camp for day #3. They shot "stuff" out of super soakers. Slimy goo "stuff". Didn't know they could do that! They played tug-o-war with shaving cream on the rope. She just loves this kind of thing. Very last day ever tomorrow. I'm sure she's looking forward to it--even though her cousins are here.

The schedule experienced a major shift, with a big shopping trip messing up the dinner schedule. Couldn't get RJ2 to come this time and it would have been a tough deal if she had. My niece and I shopped for quite awhile, trying to get things taken care of for the next 2 days, before our trip. Fun times! She could have driven me to Kroger now if she wanted to. Oh my goodness! I purposely wore the T-shirt she made when she was a year old today. Now, she's driving!! We had fun, and she's probably still laughing over us trying to self-checkout with a full cart and an aunt who packs slimy chicken in bags, only to have her take it out for swiping!

It was a tasty--albeit late--dinner. Girls enjoyed time watching Food Network together. In the AM, we're off for fresh blueberries, southside. Looking forward to bringing lots of "big blues" to the beach.

Huge day Friday. Cooking for 16. Hope to get here for at least a picture post. If not, I might be eating blueberries somewhere.....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday, already....

Gee.... What happened to that rainy Monday we had? I looked at the internet weather, and it said there was an advisory. I was hoping for a morning T-storm or something. Nope. One of those "bad air" advisories. Don't go outside because it could be bad for your health. OK. Got lots to do inside. (Although CJ still had water camp today. Lots of water, she said.)

RJ2 is keeping her wake up-and-play schedule, beginning some time after 6 a.m. Today, she went for the kitchen chalkboard and wrote out the alphabet, erasing tonight's dinner plans. That was OK, because CJ was integrally involved in dinner--

Spaghetti sauce is definitely her specialty, and she cooked up a fresh batch today. While she was chopping, sauteing and simmering, I started in on a new cookie recipe.

It's a Family Fun recipe for Orange Cornmeal Crisps. It's not a very appetizing name for a dessert cookie, but that it's mostly made with cornmeal--masa harina--is appealing as a gluten-free treat (with some modifications). RJ2 helped me juice the orange for the glaze.

Fresh zest, too, of course. The smell was incredible! Had to toss in a pinch of cloves.

And now, freshly glazed, they don't even look like cookies. They have been transformed into something that looks like an orange-glazed Grands biscuit! Having tasted one, I can tell you that the glaze is definitely needed. The cookie itself has very little sugar, and cornmeal needs a kick in some direction. They are all bagged up and ready to take to the beach next week!

We have more cookies to make, but, as has been the case this week, we've run out of supplies. I told RJ2 that we would have to make a store stop. [Remember, repetition of concept is good.] Today, we went to Kroger! I gave her the option to go back to Wal-Mart or try Food Lion, but she said Kroger, even though she almost immediately added that she didn't want to go shopping.

Kroger is tough. It's a very large store. She doesn't like the echoey sound in there, and they play music, too. We made it into the vestibule and we stayed there for quite awhile today. She said something about covering her ears. I said that would be OK. She still couldn't take the step inside. She knew, though, that there would be a donut at the end of the shopping visit. Two summers ago, I shopped with both girls in the morning, and they would be treated to donuts at the end of the trip. I reminded RJ2 about that a day or so ago; she remembered!

Eventually, some kids went through the vestibule doors, and their mom said Hi! to me. I said Hi! as she passed through, and then I realized I was alone in the vestibule! RJ2 had walked in and was waiting for ME to join HER! We made our way to aisle 9 (again!) and got some sugars and chocolate chips for baking tomorrow. Then, rather than push the limits in going for cream cheese and limes--the outer extremes of the store--I said, "Let's check out." She said, "Let's go get a donut!" Hardly slaying the dragon, but at least we made our presence known.

All the laundry is done, thanks to CJ, and we will start some packing tomorrow. The house has a million things to be picked up, but, oh well. I have taken the house expander out of the attic. We'll get that plugged in and....

What's that you say? Expander? Don't you have one?? It works on the same principle as one of those jumpy castles, only it blows up your home so you can house more people than you generally have on a regular capacity day. We'll have 16 people soon. Hope the expander survived the winter OK. (Repairing leaks is no picnic!) Maybe there's an Independence Day sale coming up and you can get a good deal.

Wow, almost Thursday already. Time to go do something useful, like sleep, maybe....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First? Day of Summer

We've been on Summer Vacation since last week, and it's felt like summer--on and off--for the past several weeks. Still, stop by that calendar and look, and it shows you "First Day of Summer." A lazy, hazy, crazy one at that. Hmmm.... Not too crazy, though.

RJ2 is getting up regularly in the 6 o'clock hour. But, I applaud her for waiting until a minute or two after 7 to come into the bedroom to wake me up. As suggested in last night's posting, the day started with French pressed special roast, waffles and fruit.

Yeah, it's like eating at The Jefferson every morning around here...NOT!

The shared literature would probably have Tom heading out the door to his crops. But, I love it when RJ2 brings in a book to present and then changes up the whole thing to feature extended family members. "What a sad day Uncle Dave had!" She's looking forward to seeing family.

Speaking of books, had to laugh out loud when the phone rang and it was the library. Recall, we were there just yesterday afternoon. They picked RJ2's name in the week's raffle! Less than 24 hours after (almost not) signing her up for the Summer Reading Program, she wins a prize. And we make another trip up to the library for her new book:

Not Norman. A Scholastic book. Didn't get to read it tonight, because CJ read from her actual library books. I suspect it's not the fish the kid has grown to know and love. Maybe I need to pre-read this one....

As if a second trip to the library in two days wasn't enough, RJ2 walked into Wal-Mart with me this afternoon! We are running out of "chocolate cereal" (aka, Special K Chocolately Delight, Grandpa's favorite!) and "treats for going into the store well," as she would say. I said that if she wanted to have more of these things, then we would have to walk into a store. After several "I don't have to go's" since yesterday, after her library visit, she decided Wal-Mart would be the store of choice. More than the usual hesitation at the front doors, but, after greeting several customers--and being asked by a customer if she was the greeter today--she walked in.

Aisle 9, cereal, fruit snacks, PopTarts and Goldfish, and we were out! And she got a "treat for doing well at Wal-Mart." OK, so, who needs something picked up from somewhere tomorrow? She's ready. ("I love this car, don't I, Mom?")

CJ was not downstairs much of the morning, but she had a productive afternoon. Today was her first day of Wild and Wacky Waterworks camp, sponsored by the Stretch 'n' Grow folks, from whom she has taken many classes. This is her third year in this week-long program of getting doused, having fun with shaving cream, and, generally, getting extremely wet. (Did I say that this was a water camp?) She will become a "graduate" this year--being too old for eligibility next summer. The small class size this time around will probably afford her the most fun she could ever have.

Here's the "before" shot:


Yep. Definitely wet! She looks so much happier, too, than in that first picture. She was covered with shaving cream and cheese balls, apparently, at some point during the afternoon. Wouldn't have guessed. She says it was "all the easy stuff" today. Guess they're saving the heavy artillery for Friday!

CJ also wrote some rules for using her computer for guests who come to visit. CJ loves to have computer time with cousins and friends, but even she can sometimes notice when things have gone too far or for too long. So, she's hopeful that some rules will help guide everyone's time, so they can enjoy themselves away from the technology, too. Good for her! We'll see how well she does with policing and enforcing. Nice that she's keeping up with folding the laundry, too. Of course, youth group nights at Cici's start up again in July. Helps to keep your coffers full when you eat megaloads of pizza!

Oh, and what came today?! Her first issue of Food Network Magazine! Is that "money" or what?

By the way, I finished my video. It's off for approval. Wish I could share, but not yet. I like it :-) ....

Still writing too much per post. I have another blog to write for posting tomorrow. It will serve as a nice reminder of what we were up to all summer, anyway. Next week, it's postcards from the beach! And I mean postcards...really....will try....

Monday, June 20, 2011

No Business Like Show Business

Rainy days and Mondays. Always get me...wet!

The weather played a little havoc today, in that it caused CJ's "Wild and Wacky Waterworks" camp to be cancelled?!!? Due to it being "too cold" for the activities?!!? Even CJ said early on in the day that it would ruin the shaving cream to have things be too wet. (Yes, they throw shaving cream!) In the end, though, by afternoon, the sun had finally broken through for good and things warmed up nicely. Oh well.... If anything, there could have been a lot more slipping than usual. So, she has a make-up session on Friday afternoon.

RJ2 stayed content by orchestrating field day for Princess Dora and the other subjects of the Crystal Kingdom Castle. She trode the wet Croc-kets (tee-hee...that's for R) out to the sandbox and unearthed the Barbies from their overnight sand wraps. They are now sitting around the completely sand-filled pool (nevermind that I emptied it yesterday), chatting about Ken, Brad and Rick and, somehow, not choking on the grains falling off their faces. Those girls are amazing....

With the change in schedule, we opted for a library outing. The middle school library won't open again until July, and CJ desperately needs reading material. RJ2 hasn't been to the library since.... Exactly.

We had a GREAT trip! CJ took her recycled bag and loaded it up with goodies, including something she called a graphic novel that physically looks more like the dictionary. But, as she showed me, there are a lot of pictures--that's the point--and the font is large. I slipped a couple books for RJ2 into the bag, since she was too busy trying to talk to all of the other kids, parents and library helpers. She preferred talking over playing with the Thomas trains. I think it's all about relieving her anxiety over visiting new places. It seems to be working for her.

I learned how to use the self-checkout, and the librarian insisted that I sign up for the summer reading program. It was her second attempt that afternoon, and she really wasn't giving me a choice. "We're just keeping numbers on the adults. We won't call you for any other reason. I think the prize is a T-shirt." OK.... But, I get to read about 15 minutes a night--outside of whatever few minutes I can read into RJ2--before whatever I'm reading puts me to sleep. It's all about "the numbers." [Is the library going to close if I don't register?] The girls registered, too, so maybe we can have an organized reading time.

[Yeah... We'll see. Still remember barely being able to read seven books that one year my sister read like 109 Nancy Drew books in a row. Just don't do summer reading well....]

I did get caught up on some sewing, which was good, and dinner was leftovers, because we still had one special outing left to do. We went to meet RJ2's helper for Parks and Recreation camp. The sponsors had a meet-and-greet night at the middle school. Had been talking it up all day with RJ2 (and desperately hoping that they hadn't changed the person who was supposed to be helping her). Made it to the front door of the school and got stuck for a few seconds. Would we go in?

Fortunately, someone from RJ2's school was in the hall and gave her and CJ big hello's. We zipped right in! And, we proceeded into the busy cafeteria, full of other kids, parents and helpers. RJ2's helper came over to say Hi! and RJ2 started in with a huge smile and greeting and--there's no other word for it--show! That girl sang and danced and monologued and led her helper and CJ (but not me) in "Simon Says." Who is this girl? I'm never quite sure any more. But, again, I think she's working out her anxieties over new situations. If it takes a show.... It works for a lot of folks.

Now, with girls in bed, it's time to get back to the video I'm editing for the new Wednesday night program at church. If I can get it together and approved this week, you just might see it by the end of VBS next week--part of the Pandamania....

Better Editing Through Decaf.... [but, more likely, will finish over pressed "special roast" in the morning, when I'm a little more with it!]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fill Me Up!

It was not the most pleasant of days--warm and muggy here in Central VA--but we enjoyed a late-afternoon short shower, which was a welcome visitor. Before the clouds turned dark, I grabbed some "outside" Barbies (as opposed to those Barbies that will never know what it's like to have sand stuck in their joints and forever clung to their strands of hair) and headed for the sandbox. RJ2 was right on my heels and plopped herself right back into her dune from yesterday.

I watered a few flowers and bushes before making my way over to the sandbox with the hose. "Can you put water in it, Mom?" Oh, yeah!! Blogger is not letting me post the video tonight. But, if you could hear the sound of the hose dripping water into the pool, it would sound like my one and only trip to the spa. If it didn't cost money and involve electricity, I would install one of those recirculating water fountains.

I finished watering the rest of the backyard and popped back to the sandbox to see how things were going at the pool.

Not at all to my surprise, the pool was full of sand! I wasn't expecting the sand "wraps" the Barbies were receiving, but RJ2 was having a wonderful time! (And now you know why these will be, forever, "outside" Barbies.)

Back inside, it looks like cake, but it's waffles--cinnamon walnut granola waffles. A double batch! Our annual family reunion beach trip is right around the corner, so I opted to make some for the freezer. One less gluten-free appliance to bring to the beach!

Ready for honey and fresh strawberries, or Grandpa's fresh-cut pineapple!

Had a little more framing work to do today. This is the alligator RJ2 made that got hung up in the school hallway. It was a great study in texture, but, for RJ2, the best part was fingers in the paint! The girl loves to paint. Tricky framing, since I decided to do it myself--an 8-1/2 x 22" frame. Michaels will let you buy the parts a la carte, which I did with another super coupon. But there's no backing or glass, so you do have to fool with it a bit to make it all work. I did get it eventually, and it was great to hang it up in a tailor-made space in the girls' sea life art bathroom gallery.

RJ2 did a second "under the sea" piece, which I framed in a recycled art frame from Goodwill. ($4.25 beats any Michaels' coupon!)
It's so much cooler in person. I think they must have used glitter paint or something.

And here it is on the wall, which is pretty much covered now.

Of course, today is Father's Day. We celebrated over breakfast, because this is a travel day for R. RJ2's banner set the tone. And you can't have a dog without naming it Kibbles!

Besides some yummy salsas, R also got a variety of perennial grasses. (The kind you don't have to cut weekly!)

I get to see my Dad in a few days. Looking forward to a week at the beach (as long as he makes the dinner coffee....) He may send really small E-mail photos, but he always sees the big picture.

That's some pretty old artwork from me under there. Wonder what the girls will do with my picture and their artwork in 30+ years....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Vacation: Day 2

OK...I'm sure I'm setting myself up for failure with that title, so I should just stop it! Ha! Ha!!....

* * *

"Mom. Maaaaa-om. Mom?"

Wait. I've heard this before. It was 2-something or 3-something this morning, but it was much more panicked. Why is it that the only word RJ2 can say between bedtime and wake-up time is--

"Hi, Mom."

She walked into the bedroom at 6 on the dot this morning. Saturday. No school. (Sigh.) This, after that earlier wake-up--due to rowdiness before bedtime and staying up too late [Called it!]--which put her right back to sleep again and me up for an hour or so. Needless to say, as she went to play "Curious George" on the computer, I went back to sleep on the sofa.

Turns out, I would not be the only one going back to bed today.

The door to CJ's bedroom remained closed between 9:45 and 1:30. Apparently at last night's lock-in at church, she "forgot" to sleep! Managed an hour of sleep "in a chair," I was told at her 9 a.m. pick-up time. Much fun was had, however, playing hide-and-seek in the dark and having a peanut butter--clarification: chunky peanut butter--facial that turned into a game of throw the Goldfish on my PB'd face! Wow... Makes me want to stay up just thinking about it! It was a blast, I guess, and she can now claim that she did her first night without [much] sleep much earlier in her life than her mom [AdLab, senior year of college].

Meantime, RJ2 and I checked out the pool for awhile. After lunch, I started a marinade for dinner. Fresh lime juice with sour cream. I'm sure they were having an interesting time mixing it up together....

The girls spent some time playing together in the afternoon, and I embarked on a project I've been talking about doing for weeks. It's a reinvention of the sandbox. R built the open-frame box while the JGirls were away on a trip somewhere. It's been so long ago, I'm not sure how many JGirls there were at the time. But, it has been a traditional sandbox, a productive bakery and a popular Hot Wheels raceway complex.

Today, it was just a big mess!

I spent some time cleaning out the old, broken plastic; the leaves, dead bugs and not-so-dead bugs; and the pine cones, and raked the surface even. Then, it was time to put in the four brand-new bags of sand, which was RJ2's favorite part, as she had to have her toes right underneath the spewing sand!

I was excited to show her my creation... Barbie Beach!

Sunken pool with sitting rocks. Oversized Adirondack chair. Drying-off area (no tanning allowed!) adjacent to a stone patio. Even some greenery!

Her response was to bury the greenery under a few inches of new sand! Clearly, when she heard me talking about creating Barbie Beach, she heard 'beach' and not 'Barbie'. I honestly think she wants the beach to herself! HA!! Oh, silly mom.... I suppose if I had actually had the Barbies, then maybe it might have gone differently. It was too late by that point to get them, much less fill up the pool, which would also have won her over completely. So, we'll unveil the whole thing again tomorrow, weather-permitting. I have already resigned myself to the fact that the pool will be full of sand and we'll have to rename it Lake Barbie. No prob!

It was another good day, though, albeit 6-o'clock AM girl definitely lost some steam early. Closing out with a new eat for us--flank steak. Hear about it on Food Network all the time but haven't tried it. [I couldn't even find it in the store!] It's all about the marinade (now featured as a sauce at serving time). Really delicious soft steak taco, and loving the fresh tomatoes and avocado!

Not ready for a Throwdown with Bobby Flay, but...Who makes a better Barbie Beach?!