Things That Are Red

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

1) My cat, but only in name.

You may or may not know/remember that we have a black kitty named Red. My friend Leanne keeps asking me why Red has up and vanished from the blog (kids!), so here goes.

The best thing about cats is their independence; they decide when/if they need or even like you you, and how much.


The best photo of Red ever taken, of course by Stephen Jerkins.

The worst thing about cats is that they are so independent, you can almost forget they're there.

We feed him, and Jonathan takes care of his litter box, but unless he does something annoying (ahem, meowing at 5:45 AM), I am so focused on the kiddies or housework most of the time we're home, I really forget about him a lot. Poor guy! We try to make it up to him when we watch TV (he'll snuggle us on the couch), and he still sleeps on our bed every night. This whole paragraph makes me sound like a terrible person, I have just found it hard to be a devoted cat parent since becoming a human baby parent.

And it appears I didn't blog about this back when it happened, but about 3-4 weeks before I was due with Molly, Red escaped for a few days. We were so sad! He came back one morning, 3 days after going missing, when Jonathan went out on the porch at his breakfast time, calling for him. We were so relieved! (At the time of course, my late-term pregnancy logic determined that the only way to make it better was for me to have the baby. Made total sense at the time.)

2) Jamie Fraser's hair. But apparently not as red in the (forthcoming) show as in the book?



Yep, I've been reading the Outlander Series. Upon first recommendation from my dearest Erin, I've been really enjoying the concept, and eagerly anticipate the new show that debuts August 9! I read it on my kindle, so I can't tell you how many pages it was, except to say that it seemed like plenty of book to get through if you're looking for something summer-y to dive into.

I won't give anything away, but know the series involves: 1) Scotland 2) time travel from post-World War to the 18th century 3) a [very] lovable hero/heroine duo in Claire and Jamie. I can't wait to see what they do with this cinematically (I hope it doesn't go all Game of Thrones and cross the line with the love scenes). I'm now in the middle of the second book and counting down the days til the show starts. It's going to be 16 episodes in the first season covering the first book, split into two 8-episode mini seasons. There are 8-ish books in the series, and they're old enough to be pretty cheap on Kindle (and in paperback too, turns out).

Just...read it, and then email me so we can fan-talk about it.


2015 One-Page Calendar

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Somehow (a mystery), but I'm on the ball, again, with this.  :)

It's the same format for the 2015 version of my one-page calendar (if you've been following along for the past few years).

Here's a look:





2015 one-page calendar, color version (free download)

2015 one-page calendar, black-and-white (free download)


If you're into this sort of thing. Ha. Putting up 2014 and this new one was one of the first things I did at the desk at my new job. I love to be able to see the year laid out, what dates fall on what days of the week, etc. (like, Christmas on a Friday next year! yessir).


Also, here's a reminder that our Long Leaf Planners are still for sale! We have a few left if you're a teacher or a student or just someone who thinks in the school-year format...we've got you covered!

Bedtime Coping Mechanisms

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

It's totally easy to put almost-three-year-olds to bed.

Psych.

I've written about this before, but getting our oldest to bed can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Almost nothing can make me more instantly frustrated than the mind games and back-and-forth ... if you haven't experienced this, I can't describe the frustration triggers accurately enough to do them justice.

Some nights are easier than others for sure (and def. better than it used to be back when I wrote this post), though it does feel like there's a bit of mysticism as to what actually "works" on any given night. Jonathan is known as "the closer" in this process, but I've been trying to up my game recently since he'll be working more.

This is not a solution (this process has made me far too superstitious to declare myself possessing The Answer, no matter what I said before) but here's one thing that's helping my sanity (when my co-parent is home for the evening, obviously): taking walks.

Molly still goes to sleep really early, usually around 6:45, but I bathe them together, so Jules is clean and fed long before she's ready to go to sleep.

It's been so nice, loading her up in the single stroller, turning on Pandora while we bee-bop down the sidewalk, no shoes for her, maybe a book, enjoying the summer evening light and warm weather. I love this one-on-one time together, sometimes we talk, sometimes we just listen to the music while we stroll. It's the perfect, relaxing activity for that hour in between dinner/bath and bedtime.



Sometimes I'll do a little C25K and sometimes not.

So yeah. Nothing original here. Take a walk at night with your kid in the summer. You're welcome.

A Patriotic Pie

Monday, July 07, 2014

July 4th should always be on a Friday. How great was that?!

A sick baby kept me from making a pie on the actual 4th this year... but I rebounded last night.




Recipe here, from the dark ages of this blog. I tweaked it a smidge to make the stars/stripes seen above, so I'll just transcribe it afresh in this here post (since, in a stunning display of blogger prowess, my original recipe post didn't even include a photo of the finished product slash the photos are eye-numbing).

Ingredients
1 prepared 8 inch pastry shell, baked and cooled (this is my favorite homemade pie crust, if you're so inclined—I had one in my freezer already that I thawed, pressed out in the pan, and baked with pie weights on 350 for about 15 minutes)
2 pints fruit—this was about 1.5 cups blueberries, and the rest a mixture of raspberries/strawberries
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon butter (the real stuff)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 t vanilla
1/4 t cinnamon

Directions

Pour half of the berries into the cooled pie shell. Then mix the rest of the ingredients (in order) in a medium saucepan until juicy and bubbly, adding remaining fruit last. 
Pour combined fruit/goopy goodness on top of the uncooked berries (if doing the blueberries separately for the "stars," spoon a big spoonful of the sugar/flour mixture into separate small saucepan after it's bubbling and then stir in blueberries to cook).  
If you want to make the flag configuration, make dividers out of aluminum foil, arranging them wedged in between uncooked fruit before pouring bubbling fruit on top. Top with cut-out stars/stripes. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown (I used a pie crust shield for the last little bit). You want the insides to be bubbling. Let cool completely before serving. 
Here's a reference for the aluminum foil "dividers" ...



We actually couldn't wait til it cooled to eat it, so it was more of a cobbler. Ha. 

In other news/photos...

The night before the 4th, we went down to a Memphis gem, the Levitt Shell, and enjoyed "Patriotic Pops," taking our big girl along. She loved it. 



Local group the Memphis Dawls sang some Andrews Sisters (any opportunity to link to Wikipedia, you better believe I'll take) songs with the orchestra, which was a bit of a dream come true for our gal (we may or may not listen to the Andrews Sisters on vinyl from time to time).

The next morning, we once again took part in my parents' neighborhood parade (baby cousin Jane's first one!). This little chickie was rocking about a 100° temp, poor lamb (turns out, she has had a sinus infection). She wa acting pretty alright, not fussy at all, just puny. It was also the first time I attempted big-girl piggies in her hair. Heartbreaker.



Martha and I went a little overboard on our wagon/stroller decor this year...when in Rome.





We didn't do the best job with photos during the parade, which included things like potty trips, swim suits (for firetruck spray fun), and the like. There's always next year, right?

The weather was incrediblethe high on July 4th was something crazy like 81°. It actually got down in the 60s or something that evening. So lovely!

I kept the little sickie home from church Sunday, and we took a lovely and worshipful walk that morning. So much thankfulness for His creation!



I hesitate to put this in writing, since it's part of my schtick to hate summer, but I'm sort of coming around to it. Everyone's so relaxed, there's so much daylight, no jackets or coats to fret over...cold treats, abundant fruit/veggies, looser schedules. I sort of get it.


Hope yours was swell.


2013 July 4th post
2012 July 4th post
2011 July 4th post
2010 July 4th post
2009 July 4th post (in which you can learn more specifics about our parade, and in which Jonathan and I look really young. Arf)

Beach...Baby

Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm no kind of expert, since I've taken babies to the beach a whopping one time...but any excuse to make a product collage, amiright? Here's a little round-up of a few things that helped make all the schlepping...better? easier? Nah. Made things a little easier though, just maybe.



Our babies did great. We had Juliette at 2 years 10 months, Molly at 15 months, and cousin Jane at 8 months.

Just another attempt at a group pic, NBD:



Ha.

They all decided to wake up extra early (it is vacation, after all!)so in an effort to not wake the entire house, we were up and at 'em early, tucking the Jerkins girls into the (rented) bike trailer with cheerios and milk and going on long bike rides. Bleary-eyed though we were to start, it was a fun way to begin each day!

All three of these gals need their afternoon nap, even more so after lots of fun in the sun plus early rising. It was nice taking the day in two chunks, and being forced to be inside during the hottest part of the day (at least it was for me and Jonny...we're not avid sunbathers).



After the naps, we would usually go to the beach; if it was a full beach day, we'd head back to our tent, where the grandparents/uncles had been holding down the fort. If it was a split day (between pool/beach/bike rides/whatever), we'd head to the beach and get a couple of umbrellas for the chickies and not have to worry as much about the sun at that point because it was normally 4 PM or later.

Here are a few things we employed during our beach week:



ONE : if they've been blogged about once, they've been blogged about a million times. The dearly beloved Saltwater sandals. Both of my girls have this color (tan little Molly's legs are practically the same color, gah I'm jealous), and they were great for when the gals actually needed to wear shoes (over hot sand or on pavement). They're constructed to handle water and sand, and hose off beautifully, plus they stay on really great. And...darn cute, duh.

TWO : a simple, blow-up baby pool (we got ours at Target) for putting under a tent. Jules loved helping ferry water in her bucket from the ocean into the pool (an activity that can occupy her for 30+ minutes usually earns an A+ from me). We were on a stretch of beach where they had these lovely cabana-style tents for rent, so we didn't have to carry the tent down to the beach, which was nice. But one of those tailgating-style tents would probably work, right?

Like so:



THREE : the surprise hit of the week, my genius sister brought these along for baby Jane, along with frozen mangoes and whole-milk yogurt to make popsicles (just blended together in the blender...easy!). She was so kind to share these with her nieces also, who devoured them while on the beach. Smarty-pants sissy just packed these in her lunchbox-sized cooler with an ice pack, kept fully in the actual molds, and they stayed plenty cold for when the girls ate them (while sitting in the blow-up pool, usually!). I'm scheming to acquire some of these for our household now!

FOUR : As you can see from all the photos, I kept my very fair-skinned eldest child in a rashguard shirt most of the week. For her part, Molly had the little short-sleeved/shorts version (matching Jane!). We would douse them in sunscreen of course, on top of this, but it was just so nice knowing their little shoulders weren't going to get torched while wearing these.

FIVE : Add rashguard to sun-hat and you're breathing a little easier. Jules was just a champ about keeping her hat on all week, much to our delight. Molly, on the other hand, wore her white version a total of two minutes. Dang it. Fairly priced with billions of color options, this item might earn MVP for the trip. Sweet little Jane was killer in the lilac.

NOT PICTURED BUT ALSO WORTH NOTING:

- The ubiquitous "puddle jumper", which the gals took turns wearing in the pool. Molly took to it pretty easily.
- Bag of basic sand toys from Target, $10. We didn't need anything this bag didn't have. RIP blue shovel.
- Blow-up twin bed for Jules. She slept great on this! I loved how the sheets tucked into the mattress so there weren't blankets everywhere. It was nice for her to have her own little space. Also nice that this comes with its own pump and travel bed, and is a useful bed for future adult guests too.
- Double jogging stroller (we have this one off Craigslist). Such a workhorse. We were fortunate that my sister/her husband had room in their truck bed to bring this for us. Whether we were strolling a combination of the gals around the myriad trails available, or using it to schlep things to the beach (thanks, Dad!) while the rest of us biked there, this thing got used.

Obviously, there are about a billion other things I missed. If you want to share in the comments, I'd love to hear what you got! We're hoping for a repeat next year! :)

One of my biggest takeaways from this trip?

There's a lot of just plain work behind a photo like this:



Worth every minute.

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