Thursday, July 28, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Summer time and the ball park.  Buy me some peanuts and popcorn.  We spent a fabulous evening downtown at Victory Field this week.  The girls were beyond excited to eat cheese covered pretzels for dinner and see their cousin pitch for the visiting team.  Not necessarily in that order, ok fine, in that order.

Right, how many 5 year olds can say that their very first baseball game was spent watching their first cousin who is actually a major league pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, but happens to be doing a short stint re-hab'ing an arm on the farm team this summer as the starting pitcher?  Well, Olivia can.   
Does she look more interested in the spoon dipped into the lemon squeezee sitting next to my friend Leanne, who was an unending source of ballpark peanuts?  That would be an optical illusion.  Apparently she gets the sugar frenzeed obsession from her sister.  Really, they were studying the finer points of baseball.  Really.
Here's our guy.  Kevin Slowey.  Yes, he was pretty cool about tolerating the crazy lady yelling at him while he was warming up, "Hey, Kevin It's Auntie Perrin."  I'm sure that scored him cool points in the dugout. 
And then it was down to business. 

Not to be all star struck and all, but gees, seeing a kid with YOUR last name printed on the back of his shirt commanding the mound, well it was the bees knees. 
These guys come out and rake the dirt at intermission.  Facinating.  I like the way their shirts match.  
I snuck down from our upper deck section during the 5th inning.  With my camera.  If anyone would have asked me where I really belonged I was prepared to tell them all about the fact that I was related to the pitcher.  And, then I was prepared to probably receive free popcorn or have someone ask for my autograph.  No one questioned my lower level better seat existence.  Go figure.  The thrill was gone in 1 inning and I went back upstairs to check on these guys.  
Ava and our dear friend and neighbor, B.  Sometimes they act like they don't like each other.  But they do.  But not in a weird way, they are only 9 1/2 and 10.  When they were three, B wanted to marry Ava.  He was going to take her to McDonalds for the reception. Can you imagine quarter pounders for everyone before dancing?  If B ever marries Ava, he and I will have to talk about proper wedding receptions.  

More with the MY last name on HIS shirt.  That'll never get old. 

One last shot of the ballpark.  The Indians won, in case you weren't streaming it on your the Muffin Man who was on a business trip, in Baltimore missing the whole darn thing in live action.  I was rooting for the visitors, for obvious reasons.  I was sort of like the little guy in the School House Rock video, "Hooray, I'm for the other team."  This is probably why I'm so popular wherever I go. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Joy in A Sprinkler Park

Maybe it is because I have once again had a health related rock you to the core thump on the head about how precious life really is, but I am thoroughly enjoying each and every minute with the girls this summer.  Nothing else matters to me, I'm healthy and will consider the oddest and extreme surgery options to keep myself that way.  I've become fixated on the girls' imaginary weddings sometime in the future, as in I will be present at those events.  I have cake ideas for high school graduation parties.  I look at their little friends as they visit the house and wonder what major they will choose in college.  To me, these are fascinating details.

I guess you could says I'm in an odd place, completely healthy and yet seeing doctors and surgeons by the arm load, paying buckets of money for tests that I question are even necessary, but these same doctors seem to revel in the results.  I've completely changed my diet to cancer and tumor prevention. There is no cheesecake this summer.  I am shockingly happy to do it.   I'm now viewing surgery options to remain healthy in degrees of severity, laproscopy, no big deal, recovery time only 1 week.  Mastectomies with 6-9 months of follow up before it is all complete, we can leave that at "bigger deal".  Eight weeks ago, any surgery would have been out of the question.  Now, everything is on the table. But all of this is out there, in the future, not for today.

Today, I am giddy at the prospect of a day at the free sprinkler park toting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the girls, and a luke warm salad for me.  The girls play carefree in the water and climb a spider web of rope.  I am reminded that this is how their lives should be.  This is how OUR lives should be. 

The girls are old enough not to need me hovering at the park.  They run off and know how far they can go.  It leaves me time with a camera in hand, and time to think. I'm left keeping an eye on their movement from activity to activity.  I'm left sitting alone a few feet from other families.  I have to endure their verbose and too loud conversations.  They all seem so boring to me, they appear not to have a care in the world unless you count how many veggies little Ethan will eat.  These other mother's seem completely foreign, it is if I'm now an alien observing a suburban free water park and it's normal human inhabitants. 

As I tune out the other families,  I can see the girls as other people often see them.  They are absolutely gorgeous in every way.  They are beautiful in that they share sandwiches without fighting,  They are amazingly strong, climbing all that rope.  They let simple water spouting up from the ground entertain them for hours.  They adore the fact that they have matching pink crocs.

I love all these things about them.  They are the world to me.  And for right now, we have the sprinkler park
And this is why it's shaping up to be a great summer. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jewelry Wraps

I was recently contacted by a jewelry company director who will be attending her national conference this month.  She asked if I could make jewelry rolls for all of her reps as gifts. She wanted something where they could travel with to hold all that luscious silver jewelry.   One quick trip to my home studio and colors were selected. 

They fold over and lay flat in a suitcase.  I suppose you could even carry it as a clutch if you wanted to.  There are two zipper compartments, a snapped ring keeper, and a velcro closed pocket.  

Now what rock star jewelry sales lady will get this one?  The outside is a more understated polka dot theme in the same colors, don't worry.  
Each one has a little silver charm sewn in.  They have an inspirational saying.  I suppose it could be used to hang the jewelry wrap from a hanger if traveling.  Genius.  That was her idea.
Once these are delivered, very soon, it will be back to summer time slacking off;  watching my girls run around a myriad of pools.  We are very adept at inserting ourselves into the lives of personal friends who have swanky pool memberships.  It's an art form.  Trust me.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ahh, the Beach

Annual trip to the beach this year was just as amazing as always.  Now that we are back, I find myself driving down the road saying "Why do we live here? Shouldn't we live closer to the ocean?"  The Muffin Man's largest client is located in Florida, he keeps dangling the "we could have a boat" carrot. Probably a very smallish, well used boat, but a boat. 

As luck would have it, I would also call this vacation a vacation and not a temporary re-location as all parents of small children will know exactly what I am talking about.  Re-locations are wonderful in their own right, but this year I sat on the beach and read a book.  Seriously, a book.  A real book while my children occupied themselves with sand and salt water.  It's been about 10 years since I actually read a book at the ocean.  Heaven. 

The kid spent hours and hours looking fabulous shells.  She caught sand dollars, small fish and built sand mountain after sand mountain.  She could literally spend all week searching and searching for the perfect shell.  She doesn't get this from me.  I'm too impatient, and perhaps my center of gravity is too high, I couldn't be caught spending that much time stooped over white shells.  But I love to watch her do it. 
The colored beach umbrellas say happy day. 

This year bed times were looser.  No one seems to melt down with the fervor of years past, no one naps anymore.  And, everyone just seems to sleep in if they are out at the beach until 9pm.  Heaven. 
There is lots of concentration needed to mix the perfect bucket of sand and salt water.
While Mom is ignoring everyone else, reading a book Grandpa is there to supervise raft floating.  
In addition to the other changes at the beach this year, Liv is now a fish.  A fearless fish.  
They don't like each other too much.  

Watch out kindergarten class, she's coming your way. 
This picture sort of says it all.  Captiva Island, FL is a bit of a dream. 

Friday, July 01, 2011

Summer Ice Cream

We've been to the berry patch.  It's one of my very favorite summer rites of passage.  A farm girl I clearly am not, but picking the berries at the local farm up the street seems like a great way to spend a morning.  I like buying from local farmers and making sure we eat what is in season.  The girls agree as long as I remember to bring the bug spray.  Which I did not today.  Ava insists she has a mosquito bite on her ear.  I think might have been a bit of drama for effect.  Will have to investigate the situation later.

This year to bribe, rather encourage, hearty child labor stooped low in the prickly black raspberry bushes, I promised culinary nirvana as long as enough berries were picked. 


Have you ever done this?  It is so stinking easy.   Last Christmas all Olivia wanted was an ice cream maker.  I haven't a clue where she got the idea, but one week before Christmas she would plead over and over again to Santa, if he was listening, please please bring me an ice cream maker.  I thought, great we've already purchased the Nintendo DS and now she wants a $200 ice cream maker?  Stab me in the eyeballs and get it over with.  Surprising enough, Santa found a $20 ice cream maker at the local Meijer.  Who knew?  Easy Peasy. A true Christmas miracle for sure.

Here is what you start with.  Common sense enough right? Ice cream needs ice and rock salt too.  And plenty of it. 
Then you need some able bodied child labor, looking to escape their kindergarten sight word work.  (That is what the awful colored index cards are in the back ground.)
See the inner cannister?  Here is what we put in it.

3 cups heavy whipping cream
3 cups milk 2%
1 1/2 cups Splenda/sugar mix
1Tbs. vanilla
1 Tbs. lemon juice

Then we added strawberries from the farm.  Lots of them.
I turned my back for 2 seconds and this is what happened. 
In the outer bucket we simply layered ice and about 3 cups of rock salt. 

We plugged in the machine and 30 minutes of grinding at ear deafening decibels that are almost intolerable unless you do this at 5pm and break down and sip a glass of wine, not that I'm saying that I did that, I'm just saying YOU might want to do that.  You get ice cream as your reward. 

Oh and good heavens, if you eat it while it is still soft and creamy it is seriously the nectar of the Gods. It is sinful in every fabulous way possible. 

A note from the mini chefs...strawberry ice cream is better if you cajole your mother into dumping the leftover 1/2 bag of chocolate chips that have been collecting dust since Christmas in the pantry.  Great use for old chocolate chips. 

A note from the big chef...if you are on a low sugar diet and have been for 4 weeks and this is your first sugar intake in that 4 weeks enter this delight slowly and with trepidation.  The sheer overload of sugary goodness might cause mild convulsions. But then again, that might have been the glass of wine too.  Regardless, be careful when you try this at home.