March Inn

Why"March Inn?" March Inn was the name of that magic place where I spent my summers growing up. I have alluded to this place before, and I probably will again. March Inn is no longer standing. The waters of Katrina rendered it unlivable so my children will never know that "March Inn." That makes me sad. In fact it brings me to tears whenever I think about it. I want my children to have their own "March Inn," and I want to capture our lives as they are growing and changing. I invite you to "march inn" to our lives. My hope is that you will catch glimpses of the real world. You will see our creations. You will see our chaos. You will see our affection. You will also see our frustrations, fears, and disappointments. Enjoy your march!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Ducks in a Row

Often, I am a lot more organized and productive in my head than in reality.  Often I know what needs to be done but just haven't gotten to it yet.  Call it scattered or over committed or complacent or just life but that is our reality.  There is always more that I want to do and usually a whole lot more that I just need to do...
I've learned that what "must" happen always does though sometimes the "shoulds" get put on the back-burner and then forgotten.  In a family of six that list of "musts" seems to grow.
In reality, everything takes longer than anticipated and most tasks are twice as difficult as hoped.  Well at least that is true in my house.  Maybe not yours.
With that said, I do feel as if I accomplish a lot in any given day, and I am probably a lot more organized than I give myself credit.  Sometimes my accomplishments are measured in flushed cheeks and smiling faces ~ pushing four children on our swing set. 
Other times my accomplishments are much more tangible ~ a stack of books I have read to my little ones, 6 loads of laundry folded and put away, dinner planned, stocked, and prepared.
See all of that takes time!  Oh how I sometimes wish it was done for me.   Though not the pushing my children on the swings, watching their adventures unfold, or reading to them.  That I want to do myself!
All that said, this week marks the end of July.  I'm feeling like time is short.  Our summer is winding down and we are getting ready to be gearing up for back to school.  Well, at least we are thinking about back to school and getting my ducks in a row.  This year I have two going to big school. 
But before we get ahead of ourselves. we are going to finish up swim team, celebrate a birthday, and have some lake livin'. 

Thank goodness I'm an early riser! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Travelin' Traditions

It was so fun to see this precious girl with cream of wheat all over her and remember this particular post.  As we were finishing up breakfast and I was admiring Betsy's ability to feed herself, I had to smile because I remembered the similar pictures that I had taken of Walker just over two years ago.  I said as much to my little chickadees so Walker immediately wanted to see the pictures.  We went to the computer to find them and he thought it was hilarious.
You see we still eat cream of wheat when Frank is traveling.  My children request it as soon as they learn he will be away for breakfast.  I guess you can call it a tradition.
Frank's been traveling without us some this summer.
Guess what's on our breakfast menu tomorrow?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Park Hoppin'

Whenever my kiddos are out of school, we do a fair bit of park hoppin' and I don't mean of the Disney variety.  Spring break, summer, all of those random one day holidays throughout the year, you can find us eating a picnic at a park somewhere. 
Even when it is hot outside, we enjoy a picnic at a park.  For some finding a good park can be tricky.  Some of you live in a community where there just aren't good parks.  Others struggle to find appropriate and/or safe equipment.  For us the trick is finding a park with the right mix of equipment and just enough shade.  We are blessed to have many options!  Our biggest struggle is to find one where the equipment doesn't get too hot.
Yesterday we started the day at the Tot Lot which is the park closest to us.  This is the one where we can walk or ride our bikes.  Yesterday we drove as we were headed to the pool.  I realized that maybe I need to be doing more to meet Walker's needs.  He is only three, and he is spending a lot of time at the pool which is not his favorite place to be.  No wonder his behavior is deteriorating by the day and with it my patience and tolerance.  Not a good combination!
For lunch, we packed a picnic and went to Byrd Park.  This was a new one for us and I was most impressed with the equipment.  Sometimes the play equipment can seem too babyish.  Not here!  It was great for my older two and really more suited towards Mary Frances.  In fact, even I thought some of the things were really cool.  I decided that when you get excited about playground equipment you probably need to get out more.

Being outside makes us happy!
On getting out more ~ fortunately for me we had dinner plans with our neighbors.  The adults enjoyed adult conversation while the children played upstairs.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Howdy Partner

My children always have some elaborate play scheme going on ~  You just never know what it is going to be or how they created it.  Typically it evolves from something we are reading or some place we have been.  They raid the dress-up closet, drawers, and toy bins to come up with costumes they deem appropriate.
This week they live on a barn and tend horses {and cows} when the mood strikes.

The babies love to swing!

Have a good hump day!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Recipe Round Up

In an attempt to get my recipes organized, I am going to post more of what we are cooking.  As stated previously, we cook a lot!  Even Betsy gets in on the action...
I realize you do not need another source for recipes.  They are everywhere ~ cookbooks, magazines, the Internet, the newspaper, even the aisles of the grocery store.  I'm not really trying to give you more recipes because I'm sure you have your own shelves full of unused cookbooks, piles of clipped magazine or newspaper pages, and bookmarked websites.
I simply want to get my recipes in order and leave my children with a collection of some of our favorites.  This is for me, not you, but I do hope you can benefit from what is taking place in our kitchen.  I know I have found some tasty recipes from the various blogs that I peruse daily, weekly, monthly, etc...
You will find that aside from my tried and true cookbooks my go to recipe source is my monthly copy of Southern Living.  I have been a subscriber for years.  Well let me rephrase ~ for years my mother has given me a subscription for Christmas.  While the format has changed many times over those years, and in my opinion the content ebbs and flows, I still look forward to receiving my monthly magazine. 

I have binder filled with recipes I want to try one day.  Many of these recipes have come from Southern Living.  I attempt to try at least one new recipe each week.  Some are keepers and some my family endures!
In order to make it happen, I create a menu plan at the beginning of the week.  I created a fun What's Cookin' document to make this easy.  I keep a stack of these in the front pocket of my coupon binder.  On one side, it has what I am going to cook each night and on the other I fill in my grocery list organized by the aisles of my local grocery store.  I have a place to write breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas though I don't plan those by the day.  One day I might reconsider that ~ we are always in a rut for breakfast and lunch.  My What's Cookin' document also has a place to write in grocery store specials and items I need from other places such as the farmer's market or the seafood store.  I make my menu plan with my calendar nearby so I can write in special circumstances for the day {i.e., dinner to Smiths for new baby, swim meet, RFS out of town, Jones for dinner}.  That helps me plan accordingly ~ some nights I have less time than others.  I keep this binder in my kitchen so I can add staples to the list as I realize a need.  Stay tuned for more of what we are cooking! 

What about you make a weekly menu plan?  Where do you get your cooking inspiration? How do you organize your recipes?  Do you like to try new things or is take-out your go to dinner?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Take Four

4 children ~ The obvious!
4 dozen ~ The eggs in the refrigerator.  Whenever the Piggly Wiggly has them for .99, I buy 4 dozen.
4 crabs ~ The crabs in the trap{s} this morning that are waiting to be picked.
4 in the morning ~ The time we woke up this morning to get Frank to the airport.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


My backyard makes me happy!  It wasn't too long ago when I was worried that I might not ever have a backyard again.  Much less a backyard where I could watch my children play or have anything growing.  But now we have a backyard again.

We have a play area for the children ~
a garden for my veggies, herbs, and flowers ~
and a playhouse ~
 It is great for backyard birthdays, playing tag, going on adventures, playing ball, etc... 

Garden Images:

This one was the reward after a long weekend earlier this summer.  We all spent the weekend out in the yard.  The children played.  Frank cleaned out the shed.  I weeded and cleared and planted.
This one was taken this week after bringing in my first harvest of tomatoes and jalapeno peppers.  The sunflowers and zinnias were started from seed many months ago.  I love being able to have cut flowers in my house.  I've been pairing the flowers with herbs for filler and to keep them from going to seed.  This is by my kitchen sink and has been great to clip basil for meals this week.
This sweet girl makes me happy too!  She was the swimmer of the week last week, and she has a fun new way that she likes to wear her hair.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kids in the Kitchen

No playdough for us yesterday!  Instead we spent our rainy afternoon in the kitchen.  Fortunately, my children love to be in the kitchen.  That's a good thing because I love to be in the kitchen.  In fact, Frank and I love to be in the kitchen together.  I know, I know, he is certainly a keeper.  We would much prefer to cook a good dinner at home, together, to going out.  Now don't get me wrong...going out has the benefit of not having to clean up after you're done.

So what did we cook yesterday?  It involved lots baking ~ measuring, pouring, mixing, etc.  That's the kind of thing that my kids in the kitchen are great at though they also enjoy other ways to help.  I fondly recall one dinner prep this summer where everyone had a job {Walker watched the water boil, Stephen turned squash zucchini into ribbons and Mary Frances chopped nuts among a myriad of other tasks}.  Keeping their little hands busy kept my sanity while preparing a delicious made from scratch dinner.  Yes, Walker really did watch the water boil.  He's 3!  I didn't have an age-appropriate task on hand so I sat him on the counter and told him his job was to watch for bubbles.  Guess what?  He did it! 

But I digress...Back to yesterday!  We made chocolate chip cookies.  The stand by cookie in our house.  You can count on me to always have chocolate chips.  In fact, I've even upgraded to the 72 ounce bag from Sam's.  No fancy recipe here ~ just the original Nestle Toll House that moms have been making for decades.  We had some over-ripe bananas that needed to be hidden in bread.  One of my favorite ways to make banana bread is in muffin form.  We used an old recipe from Southern Living.  On we go...  We also made graham crackers for a tasty treat of a snack.  No, not the graham crackers but s'mores made when the graham crackers came out out of the oven.  We even  roasted peppers to try this.  Yes, there was a lot of activity to keep little ones occupied.
Oh yeah, we also made dinner.  The menu: grilled chicken marinated in lime juice, jalapeno pepper {from the garden}, olive oil, and little salt served with left-over tomato pie and roasted asparagus.  An aside, Walker ate asparagus and even asked for more.  You have no idea what a step that is! 
By the time Frank arrived home, the chicken was grilling, and I was exhausted! Seriously, Frank asked me to walk outside to check the garden with him, and I couldn't even carry Betsy.  The cooking was just our afternoon ~ post quiet time activity.  We had already had a day full before all of that.
So, do your children like to be in the kitchen?  Are they a help or a hindrance?  What do you do on a rainy afternoon ~ nap, read, pop in a movie, all of the above?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rainy Day Activities

It never ceases to amaze me how playdough can entertain my little ones for hours on end.  Literally!  Hours!  No exaggeration here!  We have an activity cabinet in the kitchen ~ markers, crayons, stickers, workbooks, flashcards, coloring books, and a myriad of other things that can keep little hands busy while I get dinner going.  For many months, our cabinet has been void of playdough.  They keep asking, but I just haven't bought any more.  So last Friday, we finally got around to making some new to add to the assortment of playdough toys.  Store bought playdough is good, but homemade is even better.  Just the smell takes me back to my childhood days.

Here's the recipe that we used:

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon cream of tarter
2 cups warm water

Combine in a medium saucepan and stir over heat until thick.

It took us about 10 {maybe 15} minutes to measure the ingredients into a pot and stir on the stove top until thick.  Use food coloring to make the color{s} you want.

 After letting them take turns stirring the mixture , I divided the results between my big three.  The children loved getting to pick their own color.  You just can't beet the feel of warm homemade playdough.  While I like that, I wasn't tempted to sit a play awhile.  Too much to do to get ready for the lake!  I let them play while I cooked, cleaned, folded, packed bags, and packed coolers.  No joke, it was two hours later, and I had to coerce them to put the playdough and all of its paraphernalia away.  They even swept up after themselves! 
I however had to make a second pass at then entire kitchen.  That is the only downside to playdough ~ little crumbs inevitably end up on the island and floor.  In my eyes sweeping and wiping are a small price to pay for two {free} hours of quiet.

I don't know what your weather is like today, but we might need a good rainy day activity.  If you need one then look no further!  I bet you even have all of the ingredients on hand.  This will make you super mom for the day!  And you could have them use Christmas cookie cutters and bake their creations at about 250 degrees for about 2 hours, and you have the beginning of some Christmas gifts from your little ones.  Make sure you put a hole in the top before baking.  You can use a straw to make that hole. 

Now just add paint on another rainy day!  Score two for super mom!  And you have some gifts for neighbors, teachers, and grandparents.