Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Tale of the Ugly Fireplace

Once upon a time, there was an ugly fireplace. At this point in its life, we're using the term fireplace very liberally. What once had been a fireplace was now just a hole in the side of the house where years of neglect brought water damage, a rusty firebox, and just general grossness.

Fixing the fireplace and putting in a propane insert is on the to-do list for 2014, but that doesn't help much for Christmas 2013.  

What to do...what to do...

Find the science fair project board that you covered in wood grain contact paper.  Realize you've already used this as drop cloth for a painting project.

Find extra contact paper and just cover up those paint spots.

Grab a piece of black poster board that you didn't use for the 4-H booth last summer and get it centered on the poster board.  Use lots of duct tape and that handy ruler thing from your cutting mat. 

Using a white out pen, draw some logs and fire on the poster board.  Pay no attention to how logs would actually lay in a real fireplace, this is art dammit!

I know I'm holding chalk in this picture, but I used a white out pen.

Take a piece of chalk from your kids' art supplies and go all over the poster board with it.  

Using a paper towel or tissue, gently wipe all over the poster board to soften the look of the chalk.

Duct tape the whole thing to the front of the existing ugly fireplace.  Put duct tape on shopping list.  

Begin to wonder if anyone would mind if you painted the brass a color that isn't so 80's chic. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

I've rebranded, like a clothing line that was performing poorly.

I don't know, my knowledge of business terms is mostly gleaned from Alec Baldwin's character in 30 Rock.    Also, I'm hopped up on cold medicine.  Excuse me if my simile doesn't make total sense.

I took the plunge and bought thenewsmiths.com.  The old link will still work, but this one looks so much prettier.  Feel free to update your reader subscription if you're into that kind of thing.  (RIP Google Reader, I'll never forget you.)

For the most part, I blog to have an opportunity to use words not normally spoken while caring for small children day in and day out.  You know, words that don't come up when discussing breakfast, Mickey Mouse, potties, or coloring.  One of my biggest fears is that I'm going to be the kind of person to confuse (OR NOT CARE ABOUT!) the differences between there, their, and they're.  The more technical parts of blogging just seem like something that's good to know.

I think I'm going to finish my sleeptime tea and settle in for my fourth night of sleeping in the recliner.

Happy New Year!  I leave you with one of my favorite Jack Donaghy moments.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Dinner 2013

This is the first year that Cora's been old enough to "get" Santa, so instead of schlepping to Scott's parents house we stayed home.  The original plan was to serve brunch when his parents and sister arrived, but his sister had to work until lunch.  Full-blown Christmas lunch it is!

As a rule, I HATE most holiday food.  Mashed potatoes?  MASHED POTATOES?  How did a mushy, bland, blah food get elevated to holiday food status?  Green bean casserole?  It's like someone hocked a loogie on some mushy green beans.

Take a Kroger bouquet and break it out into 4 vases.

My goal for Christmas lunch this year was the illusion of fancy without sweating over a stove all morning.

Nailed it!

Mixed Green Salad with Walnut Honey Dressing
I bought a box of mixed greens and topped them with toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, and blue cheese crumbles (me) or shaved Parmesan (everyone else).  I made this walnut honey dressing from FunnyLove.  It was amazing.  Even my super-picky father-in-law liked it.  I did add a bit more honey than the recipe called for.

Honeybaked Ham
My favorite kind of leftover is honeybaked ham leftover.

Sweet Potato Souffle
This was from Honeybaked Ham too.  It's pretty much candy.

Duchess Potatoes
As I said, I don't like mashed potatoes to begin with.  I was looking for a recipe that would allow me to peel, boil, and mash them the day before but that didn't call for sour cream or cream cheese (picky husband).  I used this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  Aside from blowing out the seam in the pastry bag (twice!), they were fairly easy to make.  They weren't a hit though.  I think next time, I'll just delegate day-of mashed potatoes to someone else.

It wouldn't be a holiday in Ohio if there weren't noodles.  I just boiled some Reames frozen egg noodles in some chicken broth.

Glazed Carrots
My family has been making the recipe from the red and white gingham Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook aka "The Good Book" for years.

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic and Cranberries
I used another Pioneer Woman recipe for these.  They were amazing, but took closer to an hour to brown up in our oven vs. the 30 minutes the recipe calls for.  I did have to save a dish of sprouts pre-glaze for my father-in-law.  He doesn't do well with foods that are "different."

Yeasty Rolls
You can't do much better than Buehler's rolls.

And for dessert...
Soap Suds
I grew up eating this at Christmas at my Grandma's house.  It's a fluffy meringue-type dessert with bit of walnuts in between the layers.

Christmas Crackers might be a new tradition.

Paper crowns class up any occasion. 

I also made the table kind of pretty.  Paper cone trees FTW!

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pillow Bed Tutorial

I had a 24 hour time period in my house when there were fabric strips everywhere, the ironing board was set up in the living room, and the toddler was sent to grandma's house.  Yep, I was gettin' my Christmas crafting on!

I made some quick pillow beds for the girls out of some cute sheets from Target.  The one I made with the flat sheet went much more quickly than the one I made with the fitted sheet (hemming is for the birds).

This one has an elastic strap sewn into it.  And yes, I shampooed the carpet the next day.

Here's a quick video tutorial I made.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I guess they told her not to smile

The squeakiest wheel on the what-are-we-going-to-do-this-weekend train happened to be Costco.  Momma was running out of her last bale of paper towels.  By the time we wheeled that double-wide cart to the front of the store, I couldn't actually see over the front of it for all of the stocked up paper products.  I may have taken out a sample station, I have no idea.

I did have an ulterior motive for heading to Costco.  You see, I knew they had a photo department.  A photo department that does passport photos.  

We (I) might, might, might be thinking of going on a cruise this year (emphasis on the might).  I've just started looking in to it.  As far as vacation requirements go:  Cora's requesting a beach.  Scott wants affordable.  Lily has no preference, unless naaaaaaaaa is a preference.  I want something where every meal isn't going to be a struggle to find something that Cora will eat.  This kid despises a kid's meal.  Hell, she hates adult meals too.  She just wants to eat fruit, cereal, and peanut butter sandwiches.  I also want easy.  

My big grand idea is....A DISNEY CRUISE!  

When I wrote this article over at Passporter News last year, I redeemed my thank you gift certificate for a Passporter's Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call book.  I'm 200ish pages in and almost completely hooked.  

I contacted a travel agent last night (this one) to get a quote for a 3 day cruise sometime in the next few months.  

So, the girls got their passport photos done while Scott browsed the rows and rows of giant TVs.  Cora's expression in hers seemed unhappy at best.  It would foreshadow what was to come.  

This day isn't going to end well momma.

The drive home was going well until about 5 minutes until we pulled into the driveway.  

Cora: cough, cough, cough, BAARRRFFFFF  Momma, I did a spit up.

Oh, you didn't feel well.  You *did* pick up that stomach bug that your sister had a few days ago that I thought we had avoided.

Sorry kid, momma should have Lysoled a bit more.  

I guess this way if she's seasick, she'll match her passport photo perfectly.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I...I just dyed in your arms tonight.

I've been listening to a little 80's on 8.  You'll have to excuse me.

In the search for matchy-matchy clothes for family photos, I was never able to come up with a yellow sweater for Cora.  I could have knit or crocheted one, but it would have taken years at the rate that I knit.  I've had luck dyeing clothing in the past, so I decided to give it another go.

I bought some liquid Rit Dye from the laundry section of Meijer.  The Rit website has tons of custom colors telling you which colors to mix to achieve the one you want.  I've always dyed directly in my washing machine, but our new washer is weird and I couldn't figure it out.

I started with Cora's white sweater and a white cotton jacket that I've had for years and hadn't worn since having kids.  For obvious reasons.

I put these on my kitchen scale (I went through an Alton Brown stage) to see how much they weighed.  The weight of your fabric will determine how much dye you need to use.  Mine was just under a pound and the instructions I used were for 1 lb. of fabric.  

I put on gloves and shook the dickens out of the dye.  I used a bucket lined with a trash bag (I don't know what used to be in that bucket) and added hot water and the dye.

The instructions say to keep it constantly moving for 30 minutes.  In this picture, you'll see that the gloves were pointless as I was mixing it with my hand.  Next time I'll wear longer gloves or stir it with a stick.  The color here looks really vibrant, but I lost some of that vibrancy when I rinsed and dried it.  If in doubt, go for a darker dye to allow for fading/rinsing.

All done!

To finish Cora's sweater, I cut the flower off of the front and crocheted a simple purple flower to put in the same spot.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Family Photos

Our family photo adventure got derailed before it even started.  We were all set to get them taken a few weeks back, but I woke up that morning with abdominal pain far worse than I'd ever experienced.  Vicodin didn't touch this pain.  I've never actually been in labor (Fuck you preecclampsia!), but I thought surely this is what it must feel like.

The Urgent Care ruled out a UTI and sent me onto the ER for further tests.  I got my cat scanned and I got the most thorough transvaginal ultrasound I've ever had.  The fun part was that the pain kind of disappeared on its own sometime after about 1/2 hour at the ER.  Their conclusion was that I had an ovarian cyst that was probably causing the pain.  I was sent home with anti-nausea meds, some pain killers, a follow-up appointment with my OB, and the sound of the woman across the hall coughing etched in my mind forever.

I'm fine.  The cyst was gone at my follow-up appointment.  They're still not sure if that was the reason for the pain.

What was I talking about?  Oh yeah - family photos.  Pardon the tangent.

So I was in the ER when we were supposed to get family photos done on that day.  We got them done 2 weeks later and they look great!

I decided to dress us a bit matchy matchy.  I chose denim, chocolate brown, purple, and mustard yellow.  Almost everything was easy to find, aside from a yellow cardigan for Cora.  I ended up dyeing a white one she already had and it came out pretty well.  I also replaced the flower details on the girls' tops with contrasting hand-crocheted flowers.

Of course Lily hid one of her shoes that morning, so we had to scramble to find another pair that would look ok.  Oh and then I didn't actually think about shoes for Cora and she ended up wearing her house slippers.

Photo by Alana Clark Photography http://alanaclarkphotography.com/

Somehow Alana actually caught a few moments of all of us without the dreaded derp face.  The girls were a little uncooperative, but I expected that.  This is our first family photo since Lily was born.  I don't think we even have any candids of all four of us.
You want me to throw leaves on her head?  Well, if you insist.

I never sleep, but I'm so cute that it doesn't matter.

Thanks to Alana Clark for capturing the moments in amongst the crazy!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Is this thing on?

Well, I took an unexpected hiatus from the blog.  Cora's in full-time preschool as of last week (she LOVES it!), and Lily and I have been hanging out and running errands.  It doesn't make much for interesting stories.

Yesterday, we took down the creepy scarecrow on the front porch.  Every time I drove up the driveway, his slouched pose freaked me out.

Other than that, we had our family photos done last week.  They turned out really well.  I'll have a post up later with some of those.  I dyed a sweater for Cora for her outfit, and I'll have a step by step how-to for that too.

Um....OH!  I'm taking part in a Christmas City Swap over at Allie Lehman's blog.  You should do it too!  You need to be signed up by November 22nd.  There's a whole range of price tiers available -  from just swapping a card up to swapping $100 worth of local goodies.

Lily just brought me a block to play with, so I'm off!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The least exciting excitement

We've been a bit busy round these parts lately.  A large part of the past 2 weeks' activities have revolved around our HVAC system.  Yep, riveting stuff.

The furnace/woodburner that was original to the house when it was built in the 80's finally went kaput.  Last Thursday, they came to remove that huge hulking thing.  Hearing them try to haul it up the stairs gave me a sympathy hernia.  There were 3 guys moving with with a dolly and they were still only able to take it 3 steps at a time.   

The new furnace is propane, which means we now have a giant propane tank in our yard.  The day they came to put it in, the girls were all about watching.   

Not much happens 'round these parts.

This new furnace is probably 1/4 the size (and QUIETER!) of the last one.  It's like they've improved them over the last 30 years or something.

Scott's dad was concerned that the bricks were sticking out.  He thought it would make it hard to sweep around.  Sweep?  The basement?  HAHAHAHA
So, the addition of a propane tank means that one day, when my stupid electric stove dies, I GET A GAS STOVE!  

Today, they come to run the line for the propane to the house.  We've been without heat for about a week, but between daytime sunshine warming up the house and the fact that the house is brick, the coolest it's been in here is 68.  That was quickly remedied by some baking.  Creative solutions, I say.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Do you like lost things, mommy?" aka Fall Mantle for less than $5

Cora has a bit of a Tinkerbell obsession.  It's the only "girly" Disney movie I'll allow her to watch.  My reasoning is that Tinkerbell has a job and her story isn't a "waiting for the boy" story.  I do have some concerns about the practicality of her outfit in her line of work though. 

Tinkerbell uses "lost things" to make her little inventions, so in that same vein I went in search of lost things to put together my Fall mantle this year.  In total, I spent $4.78, plus tax. 

1. Goodwill candlesticks - $0.50 each.  The two on the left were clear glass and the tall one can best be described as the color of C3PO.  I painted these white using leftover paint from the baseboard in Cora's room.  Spray paint would have looked better, but I was in a hurry.  The pumpkins were $0.76 each at a local nursery. 

2.  This project is a bit of a combination of two different projects I found on Pinterest.  I liked the look of some matted pumpkins on eighteen25, but didn't have the time to actually go to JoAnn's and buy them.  Instead, I found this project on Craft-O-Maniac that used yarn, cottonballs, and sticks.  I have those! 

First, find a frame with a picture of Cora in the NICU.  Remove picture. 

Next, find pretty chevron paper. 

I found Chevron paper here at Amazing by Design in easy to download .pdf files. 

I wrapped yarn around the cotton balls and laid them out on the frame.   At this point, I realized 3 things.  1.  If I only do two, they'll look like boobs.  2.  I should probably put the paper in front of the glass. 3.  That color is more "River View old gold" than pumpkin orange. 

Hello, old friend.
I put a very generous dollop of hot glue down for each pumpkin and pressed it down. 

Finally, I kind of wedged some sticks into the tops of the pumpkins and called it a day. 

3.  For the textured owl, I mostly word for word followed Delia Creates' tutorial.  That post was a big driver to push me to see how cheaply I could do my mantle.  The split peas at Meijer were $1.00 and I just used Elmer's glue.  I would suggest attempting the gluing inside a large tupperware container.  I found the board in the garage and the orange paint was in the basement.

4.  I've been using this same picture frame for every single mantle.  I just wrap the matte in something new each time.  This time, it was orange chevron paper from Amazing by Design again.   The centerpiece is a free printable from in-site-full.  

5.  This burlap is a leftover table runner I made from Lily and Harrison's baptism this past Spring.  The flower in the middle was on my Spring wreath.  I think it came from JoAnn's. 

Not bad for something cobbled together from lost things and less than $5.00 in new things.

PS - Follow me on Pinterest to see where I find these projects!   


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Goin' down the track, clickety clack

Two weekends ago we were once again at the "what are we going to do this weekend" stage.  Our weekends are usually spent at home with a monotony-breaking trip to Meijer or Target.  I know - stand well back from our excitement. 

Scott had done some research on local passenger trains.  Cora's been on a train kick for a long time now.  We have the $10 train set from Ikea and she loves watching (the first 15 minutes of) Thomas.  There are a few trains within a reasonable driving distance, but we decided on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway in Nelsonville, Ohio. 

Before heading to the train station, we stopped at The Olde Dutch Restaurant in Logan, Ohio.  They had a lunch buffet, which is perfect for Cora.  She rarely eats kids meal food, so going out to eat is always a gamble.  She happily ate chicken, noodles, mashed potatoes, watermelon, and pie that day.   

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway is non-profit railroad, run by volunteers.  Their mission is the "preservation, restoration and operation of historic railroad equipment for the education and entertainment of the general public."

On weekends, there are two trips per day.  The noon train ride lasts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.  We took the longer 2:30 train that lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes.  I'd recommend that shorter route, especially if you have younger kids.  Lily refused to nap and Cora got bored on the longer trip. 

Yeah, I'm totally not napping. 

We were helped up onto the train by one of the volunteers.  We happened to choose one of the air conditioned cars (dodged a bullet there on that hot day).  It was also the only one with a bathroom.  We didn't need it, but with a preschooler it's never a bad idea to be close to one.

Our train ride took us West out of Nelsonville through Haydenville and East Logan.  The ride is narrated and details the history of the area.  Most sites we passed through were mining towns or sprouted up around other industries.  The narrator tells the story about how these towns were settled and as company towns and as those industries fizzled out, so went the town. 

The train stopped for about 10 minutes at East Logan - just enough time to get the engine brought around to the other end of the train.  We passed back through the same path and through the Nelsonville Depot where we boarded.  We were let off at Robbins Crossing on the Hocking College campus for about 30 minutes.  (Both trains make this stop)  There were artisans working on their craft, a general store for drinks and snacks, and students from the college with a snake exhibit.  Of course Cora had to go touch one and I had a mild panic attack. 

We were rounded up and were back at the Nelsonville Depot before we knew it.  We rode in a non air conditioned car on the way back.  I very much appreciated the a/c car after that.  The depot has a small gift shop with cold drinks and a restroom.  

We paid $17 each for Scott and I.  The girls (3 and 1) were free.  The shorter route costs a little less.  They also run special trains throughout the seasons.  The next season coming up is their Weekday Fall Foliage Train on Thursdays and Fridays in October.  

We were home in time for baths with two completely exhausted kids. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Better left to an expert

Cora started her third week of preschool today.  She still loves it.  We still love it.  Hugs and kisses all around.

One of her "homework" assignments is to bring in a family photo and a paragraph explaining our hopes and dreams for her.  We aren't good at family photos.  This is a recurring theme.  When I went to make the slideshow for our wedding, there were a grand total of 8 photos of Scott and I together.  We had been dating for 2 years at that point, so one would assume we'd have more than that. 

The most recent family photo that we have is from our February trip to Walt Disney World.  In it, Lily is sleeping in the Beco and Cora looks like we just woke her up. 

This *is* my smile, mom.
We went to Scott's parents' house yesterday and decided to try to get a picture while we were there.  This didn't go well for a number of reasons. 
1.  I had taken an antiobiotic-induced 2 hour nap (Do antibiotic ear drops make you sleepy like regular antibiotics?  Let's just say yes.) and had post-nap hair.
2.  Cora never seems to look at the camera during pictures.
3.  Lily is 14 months old and acts accordingly.

The best picture we had included my crazy hair, Cora holding out a flower, and Lily's closed eyes.  Scott "fixed" it and posted it to Facebook.  

When I commented that he did a poor job, he "fixed" it again.

This of course reminded me that we need to get actual professional family pictures taken soon.  Here's where I plug my friend Alana's beautiful photography and seemingly endless patience with my constantly-moving kids.

Cora one year ago.  Photo by http://alanaclarkphotography.com/

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Baby Gear I Actually Used (Alternate Title: Don't Buy That Other Crap)

We are done having babies.  D.O.N.E.  Lily is starting to finally sleep through the night at 14 months and I'd like my newly-found stretches of uninterrupted sleep to stick around for forever.  However, I'm not opposed to becoming an Auntie.  I'm actually all set to become one in early February.

Yes, my sister is having a baby!  I'm ridiculously excited and of course immediately went into baby shower planning mode.  (It's probably for the best that Pinterest wasn't around when I was planning my wedding - things would have been a bit more MORE I suppose.)

This also made me think of the baby gear that I actually used vs. what I registered for.  Honestly, if I were to do it again (which we've established is NOT going to happen), I might ask for a few staples and then hope to get gift cards.  I could have bought what I needed as I found myself needing them instead of having lots of extra stuff that will never get used.

Let's get started.  Keep in mind that I'm pretty cheap. 

Baby items that I actually used during the first year:
 - Carseat - My motto for buying an infant seat was "The lighter, the better."  I'm not known for my upper body strength.
 - Pack and Play - Both girls slept in a PNP in our room until they were 12 months - when they weren't sleeping in our bed with us.  Dr. Sears has good info regarding safe cosleeping.
 - Crib - Ours converts to a toddler bed.  It looks a bit modern and the sides are low enough for me to actually lay Lily in there without tumbling in after her.   I didn't spend any money on a bedding set either.  I found some cute fitted sheets and called it a day.  
 - Rock and Play Sleeper - I don't know if these existed when Cora was a newborn, but this thing was a life saver during the height of Lily's reflux stage.
 - Bottles - My boobs were a bit more cooperative with Lily than with Cora, but not enough to forgo formula.  Lily even learned to nurse (something Cora never did get the hang of).  If you bottle feed, buy enough of them that you can throw them all in the dishwasher at night.  My dishwasher has a sanitize setting, so I never bothered with a bottle sanitizer.
 - High chair - If yours comes with a laundry-safe cushion, go ahead and buy a second one while you still have the instruction manual.  You'll thank yourself later.  
 - Burp cloths - Yeah, they make cute ones, but the best I found were the white Gerber birdseye cloth diapers.  They're terrible as diapers, but awesome as burp cloths.
 - Diapers - Cora was almost exclusively cloth diapered with Bum Genius diapers.  Lily wears Huggies.  Laundry is harder with two kids.  Join Amazon Mom or Amazon Prime and get them shipped to your house.
 - Wipes - My favorites are the Costco store brand.  If you're cloth diapering, bite the bullet and use cloth wipes (aka baby washcloths) too.
 - Sleep sack - After the initial swaddling a newborn phase, a sleep sack was the easiest way to keep the girls covered up at night. 
- Soap/lotion - I used California Baby brand.  I can pronounce all of their ingredients and identify them in nature.
 - Laundry soap - I've never owned Dreft or any other baby-specific laundry soap.  I just use whatever "clear and free" laundry soap that's on sale.  I'm a huge fan of Bio-Kleen BacOut for stain removal.  
 - Diaper bag - Right now, I'm using a $10 backpack from Ikea.  I shoved a changing pad the hospital gave me in there for public changing tables.  There are lots of pretty bags out there, but the most practical and back-saving I've found is a backpack.  Also, why are they making diaper bags that don't zip shut?
 - Baby carrier - You're going to need one once your baby grows out of the bucket carseat but is too little to sit up in the grocery cart. My favorite resource for babywearing is here.  In short, don't buy a Bjorn; buy a carrier that has a seat that goes from knee to knee.  I used a Moby wrap when the girls were itty bitty and a Beco Butterfly II up until Cora was nearly 2 years old. 
 - Baby clothes - I see you over there, eyeing the frilly dress in a 3 month size.  Walk away.  Just walk away.  Do you know what babies that wear that size do?  Sleep.  That's it.  See those buttons on the back of that dress?  Surely that can't be comfortable.  Barring a few exceptions, most clothing for kids under 12 months should be made from knit fabric.  Babies in jeans just look uncomfortable.  Also until the child is walking, there's no need for shoes.  They're just something to lose in a parking lot somewhere.
- Stroller - I collect strollers.  It's a hobby.  We currently own four and I've sold two others.  My favorite is a Maclaren umbrella stroller.
 - Nose Frida - No it's not gross, it's practical.  I actually came back to add this to the post after a friend reminded me.  Don't bother with those bulb syringes.  

What am I forgetting?  

1. Graco Snugride 22 Carseat  2. Baby Mod Parklane Crib  3. Graco Blossom 4 in 1 highchair  4. Dr. Brown's bottles  5. Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper  6. California Baby Shampoo and Bodywash  7. Maclaren Umbrella Stroller  8. Beco Butterfly II  9. Graco Pack and Play  10. Gerber Birdseye Cloth Diapers (to be used as burp cloths)  11. Sleep Sack  12. Nose Frida

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Follow me down this path of crazy...

We put together our 4-H booth tonight.  I bought t-shaped straight pins to tack up one of the girls' sewing project.  On my grocery list they were listed as "T pins."

In my head, I called them T-Pains every time I read that list.

Then I got T-Pain and Lil' Jon confused.  Because I stopped staying current with music the day I moved out of my college apartment.  You see, that's where Brookey G lived and she kept me up to date. 

Wanna see what a T pin looks like in my head now?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A decision I immediately regret

...and continue to regret with greater vigor as time passes.

Meet Mickey and Minnie, our Xiphophorus maculatus fish.  Common name Mickey Mouse Platy, so named for the Mickey head and ears markings on the body.  
They're in there somewhere

Here's the timeline:

Sunday morning - Delaware Meijer:  Lily and I are in the grocery section and Scott and Cora wander over to us.  Him with something hidden behind his back.  Her saying "P-neeeaassseeee"  You see, she pronounces her "L" sound as an "N" sound. 

It was a 1.5 gallon fish tank.  Apparently 25% off.  There was also a small pineapple figurine, in which a popular trouser-wearing aquatic invertebrate might live. 

Tuesday evening - Westerville Meijer:  I spent a few hours at the zoo with the kids.  This was followed by no naps for either child and just general chaos.  Obviously we went out to dinner and to buy fish for the tank.  We make awesome decisions.

Scott jokingly told the guy not to get a pregnant one. 

We not only have a pregnant fish, but a male fish to keep her company.

Did I mention they're live-bearing fish? 

I'm hoping one of them doesn't make it through the night and we can go get a companion snail as a replacement.  Is that wrong?  I didn't sign up to be a fish farmer. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Frankenmuth puts the "meh" in Michigan

The 4th of July was coming up.  It conveniently landed on a Thursday this year, which meant Scott could take that Friday off and we'd have a 4 day weekend.

Too bad we didn't realize this until Tuesday night.

I started researching driveable vacation spots that night with my laptop in bed while Scott made disapproving "I'm trying to sleep and that thing is bright" huffs at me.

My first idea was Lakeside, Ohio.  I remember going there as a kid and really liking it.  Booked.

How about just Sandusky or Marblehead?  Oh those rooms either have bedbug horror stories or are over $200/night.  Next.

I randomly found this book on Amazon and leafed through the sample pages.

Frankenmuth, Michigan.  Michigan's Little Bavaria.

So we went.

From what I can tell, one family owns the entire town.  There are gift shops everywhere, but no real attractions.  The main tourist drag is easy to maneuver with a double stroller, but after awhile, all of the trinket stores start to look the same.

There was very little wool in the woolen mill.

For dinner the first night, we ate at Zehnder's Restaurant (the Zehnders are the family that owns the town).  It was a family style chicken dinner.  Let's be honest, it was Amish food.  It was good Amish food, but nothing I'd drive 5 hours for again.  It was also quite salty.  Scott said the sodium content was "yes."

Waiting to be seated at Zehnder's

We went back to our hotel and took the kids to the pool.  We stayed at the Springhill Suites, which was in walking distance to the main drag.  The kids loved the pool and the free hot breakfast the next morning.

We were out walking around town by 8:30 on Friday morning.  We went to the Bavarian Inn and explored the stores in their basement.  Lily and I headed back to the hotel for her nap while Cora and Scott did more exploring.

Who decides these are a good idea?

Of course I had to buy one. 

After Lily woke up, we checked out and headed to lunch.  The restaurant was outside of the tourist area.  You can only eat so much Amish food, so we opted for Italian.  Cora finally ate, which was a bit of a relief. 

PS - Kids meals can suck it.  From now on, we're getting fruit and veggies from a grocery store and bringing it in to restaurants for her to eat.  Who decided grilled cheese was so great?     

Our hotel for the second night was Zehnder's Splash Village.  Cora's aggressively into fairies right now, and this indoor waterpark is fairy themed.  Check-in wasn't guaranteed until 4, so we got our wristbands and went to the water park.  Cora was a big fan of the waterslides made for kids her age as well as the lazy river.  We played for a little over an hour until it was apparent that we were late for naps.  Our room was ready by 2, and the kids napped hard for 2 hours. 

The actual room was laid out nicely and clean.  My only complaint was the A/C.  It was blowing cool, but damp air.  Directly into my face all night.  I think it might be the reason the kids have runny noses right now.  This hotel is further out of town too, right next to the huge Christmas store that we didn't go to.  Of the two, I definitely prefer Springhill Suites.  The main benefit of the Zehnder's hotel is that the cost of the hotel includes water park admission for 4 people. 

We were in search of non-Amish food for dinner.  The Bavarian Inn's Roof Garten restaurant seemed to be one of the only restaurants offering "German" food not offered family style.  It wasn't what I would call good.  There was a roving accordian player that Cora enjoyed though. 

Overall, it was a nice trip but there wasn't actually much to do aside from eating and shopping. 

Frankenmuth, putting the "meh" in Michigan.  Or where gift shops go to die.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

Sometimes you have a really stressed out cat.  And sometimes you have to get that cat high.