The Best Part

This past weekend our little family joined my mom and dad in a little cottage up in Pentwater, Michigan. I love that cottage. My parents have been renting it on and off for more than 20 years. I have some great memories there, so it was so fun to take the kids and help them make some great memories too!

At the end of each day, we would ask the boys, “What was the best part of today?” They would laugh and giggle recollecting all the fun we had. It was always difficult to choose just ONE best part.

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I will say the 90-minute drive was not my personal favorite. Usually I enjoy the trip; it’s a very beautiful drive, however you see how close the boys sit to each other? And Alice is rear-facing behind me. Yeah, there was loudness.

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Breakfast was always a highlight. Grandpa made lots of breakfast meat and french toast for the troops. You can see that Charlie is dressed and has his backpack on. He was so ready for the beach, man. SO. READY. Sandboxes are his love language and the beach? Dude, it’s one big sandbox.

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See? Homeboy is in heaven. We had the best possible beach weather ever. Charlie still talks about this as being one of his “best parts”. He would live at the beach if he could. Annnnddd…cue beach pics….

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Alice hates sand and dirt and getting dirty. Such a diva. But she sat in that little beach chair just as nice as can be for two plus hours with her cold drink looking cute. That is really my kind of beach day too.

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Grandma gave the boys a snack of Vanilla Wafers…on frisbees! Grandma is so smart when it comes to snack distribution.

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Even Alice enjoyed some beach vanilla wafers. With her cold drink. In her chair. Not touching the sand at all.

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It was a super hot day, but it was quite breezy, so we didn’t feel like were were sweating too much. Plus Lake Michigan was around 75 degrees.  I could have stayed much, much longer, but Alice needed a nap and the boys were getting sunned out.

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We did plenty of sitting around too. That was probably one of my best parts. I enjoyed not having too much access to wifi and having no TV or other screens available. I read a whole book from start to finish from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. My mom and I both brought a plastic horse shoes/ring toss game, so the boys had a good time sticking the stakes into the ground and making up rules about what “level” they are on. My very patient parents went along with these nonsensical rules and laughed and laughed as my mom pretty much missed every time she tossed.

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When we got home, Eddie made the comment that Grandma is so good at helping us find things to do when we might be bored. My mom totally understands that four and seven-year old boys need to keep busy. If there started to be hints of whining or fighting because of boredom, grandma would swoop in with a game of Go Fish, or Old Maid, or going for a walk to the dock or around the block. Eddie helped set the table most of the time, and Charlie helped carry out food.

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Charlie made a comment that we are pretty lucky to have a Grandpa who shares his boat and fishing hooks with us…and “cuts up a good watermelon!” Charlie is pretty much his Grandpa’s shadow–both lefties, both bearing the name “Thomas”, both loving watermelon and “putzing” around.

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Speaking of watermelon…apparently I bought a good, crisp, juicy one! It wouldn’t be a summer vacation up north in Michigan without a messy delicious watermelon after dinner.

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Alice even needed a sink bath after she demolished a huge chunk of melon. All of the sticky in her hair and on her whole body!

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I mentioned my parents have a boat. They were kind enough to haul it all the way up north and my kids LOVED it. They boys always love boat rides. When we out of the channel and onto the big lake, my dad “put the hammer down” and as we lifted up, Charlie–who was sitting in the “first mate” seat–said to Cortney, “THIS IS MY BEST PART!” After a ride, we circled back to the beach.

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It was another HOT day, but with no wind. My dad anchored off shore from the beach and we all took a dip! The boys jumped off the boat over and over into the refreshing water!

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Both boys showed us all the things they learned in swimming lessons, but with life jackets on since we were in water that was around 6 feet deep. Little Bird paddled around for hours!

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It was so hot we even got Alice to float around a bit with her Daddy! She clung pretty tightly to him, but I think she enjoyed the cool dip.  In fact, she fell asleep on me on the ride back to the boat launch.

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Both boys have fishing poles my dad gave them for their birthdays. They were so excited to fish with Grandpa! He was super patient with them as fish after fish swallowed up his hooks. I even showed off my casting skills (that my dad mocked!) and ability to reel in a bluegill when Charlie got a little nervous about doing it himself. I think Cortney was impressed!

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It rained on our last morning at the cottage. My parents tried to keep everyone busy with Old Maid and other games, but things got a little punchy by afternoon. Luckily, the sun came out and we were fortunate enough to get to town to get my dad the ice cream cone he was craving and find treasures for the boys to take home to remember their vacation.

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Even Alice was getting antsy to leave the cottage by the time the sun came out. It’s a lovely cottage, but it’s small for seven people–three of whom are small people with a lot of energy!

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Before we left, we put jammies on everyone so they would be all ready for their beds when we got home. But we couldn’t leave without one more tickle session with grandpa!

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We were all stinky and tired and ready for our own beds…and showers…by the time we hit the road homeward bound. But we were happy. Because being able to spend so much time with Grandpa and Grandma was definitely the Best Part.

Thank you, mom and dad, for the awesome time. We are grateful to you for sharing the cottage with our noisy, energy-filled crew. Hopefully you got some sleep and quiet after we left! We love you!

June: The Friday of Summer

June has always felt to me like the Friday of the summer months. You know what I’m talking about. That feeling when work gets out on a Friday and–even if you do have plans–it feels like the possibilities are spread out for you to choose from and that you have SO MUCH TIME.

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That is what June is like. The kids and I make lists of things we would love to do this summer. We make our weekly schedule which includes the library on Mondays, the farmer’s market on Wednesdays, and the park on Fridays. We talk of splash pads, the beach, and visits with friends. I make my weekly chore list: what laundry and household task I will tackle each day so that our weekends can be wide open for family time.

I make piles of books to read.

The kids list all the water-related fun they will have.

June is the best because it’s so optimistic. But there is usually a crash of expectations that first week the kids are home from school. We don’t have our groove yet. People get cranky with each other since they are not used to being together all day. Last year was incredibly rough for some reason. Maybe it was the newborn? Maybe it was because I had been off since March when school let out in June? Maybe it was because I had at least one kid with me every single day? I don’t know.

This year I allowed myself some grace. This first week with the kids would be hard. And Monday was difficult. The news left a giant hole in my soul, we had a funeral visitation, and the kids were just cranky and out of sorts. But then things turned around.

For one, I have two days where ALL three kids go to daycare. ALL THREE.

That means I was able to get groceries all by myself on Tuesday. I could linger over labels and carefully peruse the produce. It means I could have lunch with a friend on Thursday, and stop at the library and look for books for ME (and even sit and read awhile).

The days home with the kids haven’t been perfect, but like I said…we are adjusting. There have been too many screens because we have been frustrated and finding our way. We are figuring out how to be around each other for so much time when we are all used to being away from each other all day.

Sitting here in June, on the first day of summer, it looks like we have endless time to play and melt into each other’s personalities and routines.

Summer Out, Fall In

Oh Summer of 2015, what a mixed bag of emotions you have been.

My time “off” started March 5–the day before Alice was born. Summer break officially started June 5 after I picked Eddie up from his last day or Kindergarten and Charlie up from daycare.

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We made a Bucket List of things we wanted to do this past summer. We made a daily schedule for when screen time was and when nap was and when meals were. We made a weekly “adventure” schedule with planned days for the park, the library, the farmer’s market, and more. We started a behavior chart to help two boys who were used to structure and lots of kids around cope with a little less structure and only each other. We had systems in place. This summer was going to be full of fun and adventures!

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And we had fun. We did.

But it wasn’t what I expected.

For one, our daily schedule did not go by what we posted, but by what Alice decided she needed. Her feeding and sleeping drove our days which meant that our weekly schedule also went out the window. If we didn’t leave the house to do fun stuff in the morning? We didn’t go because we needed to have lunch or the kids would turn into monsters (seriously. I learned that if you don’t feed one of my children by a certain time, you will enter into the “point of no return”. Food will help curb the beast, yes, but you have killed the day). And Charlie naps in the afternoon.

Many days because of Alice’s eating/sleeping schedule, we did not leave the house. Or if we did, I fed her while we were out and the boys did awful things out in public.

So I tried to keep the awful out of the public’s eye.

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That is not to say we stayed home ALL the time. We did make it to the Farmer’s Market quite regularly in the beginning of the summer. The problem is, it’s open on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Saturdays are a large NO because I hate the massive crowds. So Wednesdays were perfect. But if it was rainy or we didn’t have spare cash, we didn’t go. By mid-July we stopped all together.

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We did the library and the bakery a few times, but it wasn’t regular. In fact, this is the first summer I had to go return the books on my own once so we wouldn’t get late fees. In years past, we could easily go once a week. Nothing was “easily scheduled” this summer.

But we did double the number of books we would normally read because Eddie turned six this summer, and could get his own library card! So instead of ten books each visit, we could do twenty books! I bet we read well over a hundred books this summer, and that is pretty awesome!

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Speaking of books, we also did a neighborhood Kids Book Club this summer. We read three books along with the other kids in the neighborhood and met every other week to talk about it, do a craft, and have a snack! Because of weather, schedules, and other stuff, we ended up not meeting in August, but the boys and I read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, and The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. And Eddie ordered a couple books by Geronimo Stilton so we have been reading Paws Off, Cheddarface (which I just realized is number 6 in the series. Maybe we should have started with number 1. Huh).

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Something we did almost weekly was the park. Originally, the boys and I wanted to go to every park in our town. We called it “Pick a Park Friday!” Only Charlie thought we were saying “Pickle Park” and when our first choice was a favorite that was close to our house, he thought that park was THE “Pickle Park.” Also we tried to go to a different park once and the boys whined, so we went to the same park every week after that. The Pickle Park. Heh.

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Alice loved the park too, so that was a bonus. Other than the one time we ventured to a different park, every park visit was great. The boys always played so nice and Alice and I sat in the shade while I sipped my coffee.

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I tried my best to get the kids outside every day, but if I am going to be honest here (and I always am), it did not always work. It usually went something like this:

Me: Turn off the screens. You boys need to go play outside for awhile.
Boys: WHAT? NO! THERE IS NOTHING TO DOOOOO OUTSIDE! I DON’T WANT TO PLAY WITH HIM! WELL I’M NOT GOING OUTSIDE IF HE’S NOT…EVEN THOUGH I DON’T WANT TO PLAY WITH HIM.
Me: GO!
Boys: Grumble grumble QUIT PUSHING ME! GIVE ME MY SHOES! ::door slam::
(2 minutes later)
Eddie: MOM! CHARLIE HIT ME WITH A BUBBLE WAND!
Me: Go.
(2 minutes later)
Charlie: (scream crying, so it’s sort of indecipherable, but this is what I think he probably said): MOM MOM EDDIE SAID THERE IS A BUFFALO IN THE WOODS AND IT’S GOING TO EAT ME AND THEN HE PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE!
Me: There are no buffalo in our woods. Tell Eddie to be nice. Go.
(2 minutes later)
Eddie: MOM! CHARLIE IS HITTING THE TREE WITH A GOLF CLUB!
Me: Go.

And so it goes.

There were days–ok–almost all of the days–when I just said, you know what? Fine. Watch hour 3 of Netflix. Whatever. Leave me alone.

So they did. Usually without pants.

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Sometimes I bribed them outside by going out with them. That usually just meant they sat next to me to do their whining rather than fighting to the death and tattling via opening and shutting the door so often that flies thought our house WAS the outdoors.

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To be fair, we did some fun stuff too. We had a few beach days, went to the zoo, played with friends, and hit up the splash pad.  Adventures were had.

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We ran the sprinklers, flew down the slip n slide, and hauled out the inflatable pool. We kicked soccer balls and played catch. The boys went fishing with Grandpa. We sweated in the heat and ate camp fire food.

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We had fun.

And it was hard.

All at the same time.

Today I go back to work for three days before the holiday break. Then it’s all official. Summer will be done.

We are ready.

I have a bunch of other feelings about my time home with Alice being done, but that is separate from the summer being done. I am ready for the summer “schedule” to be done. I am ready for us to start our fall schedule.  And I know the boys are too.

Because they are almost as sick of sitting in time out as I am of sending them there.

We Are Trying

This summer is a bit less…exciting…than I thought it would be. I thought we would do all these adventures and go to the park all the time and hit the beach once a week.

We have not done that because, even though she is my easiest baby yet, we are sort of on Alice’s schedule rather than our own most of the time. Also? Three kids is way more exhausting than two.

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So rather than go to the library every week, we have opted for every other week…or just when the books are due. We try to get to a park once a week, but sometimes we don’t.

My kids are whiney and bored most days. Even when I kick them outside, they complain there is nothing to do.

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So I gather up Alice and we go outside too.  And they plop their toys and chairs by us under the tree and complain. I come up with games and ideas for them. They play nicely for a few minutes.  Then they are back over by me tattling about what someone did to the other.

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There is only a month left before we go back to school. Technically a month plus a week, but I go back in a month. I finally got my teaching assignment: All 8th Grade English this year. I’m pretty jazzed about having only one class to prep and hoping to do some awesome things with Reader’s Workshop this year.

We are still waiting to find out who Eddie’s first grade teacher is, when orientation is, and what he will need as far as back to school supplies.

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We still have some summer left.

And I am determined to make some fun memories. We have a couple beach days planned, a zoo trip as a family, and hopes for a few other things.

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The boys are starting to feel the need for their regular schedule. I can feel it too–the pull back to the classroom.

I also feel the sadness that means by going back to school, the whirlwind will start and Alice’s baby-ness will start to go even faster as I don’t get to see her all day, every day anymore.

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We are trying to make the most of this last month of this last summer of having a baby around. We are trying to breathe it in rather than look forward to “it will get easier” and “it will get better”.

We are trying to live in the now.

Even when the now makes me want to pull my hair out and run screaming down the street.

We are trying.

A’cottaging We Went

When I was a kid, our family vacations consisted of my family packing up our vehicle and towing our boat “up north” to an inland lake and renting a cottage for a week.

This continued until I was in high school when we took a few summers off to do “regular” vacations like go to Disney and hit up Cedar Point. By my sophomore year we were back to cottages…one cottage in particular in Pentwater.

My family went to this cottage for about 8 years before it was apparent that my siblings and I were becoming adults with busy summers of doing other things.

Last summer, my brothers and I asked my parents if we could do The Cottage again.  We missed it. We missed the lake, the boating, the meals together, the Tootsie Pops that my mom always brought, and the family game time each evening.

Last summer we reignited the tradition, this time with spouses and children in tow, and needing two cottages to house us all rather than just one.

This year we gathered again for five days and four nights.

That time gave me many blog posts (and a bazillion photos). I’m not sure I’ll ever flesh them all out, or post all the pictures, but there were many realizations and experiences this year that need to be “written out”.

For now, however, I will give you a quick glimpse into the pattern of those five days….

Breakfast

Breakfast

Every morning, my parents got up first and sat outside in their bag chairs reading and drinking coffee. Eddie and my nephew Jack were usually next up followed by me, Cort, and Charlie.  Slowly my two brothers and their wives and my baby niece Maria would wander over from their cottage.

Someone would make eggs or pancakes or bacon or toast. There were numerous pots of coffee consumed. It was always a nice slow start to the day.

The Beach

The Beach

Every single day we followed breakfast clean up with putting on our bathing suits and heading to either a tiny beach on Bass Lake or over to the Big Lake (Lake Michigan) for a couple hours of beach. Some days we played in the sand and water, one day my dad put the boat in and pulled a few of us around the lake on the knee board, and one day we drove/walked to Lake Michigan for a big morning of sun and waves. But every day had a beach in it.

After the beach was lunch time. Lunch time was usually around 1:30 or 2pm.  Then Charlie would take a nap.

Game time

Game time

Between Charlie’s nap and dinner we filled the time with walks, relaxing, playing, and of course games.  My mom bought Old Maid and the kids (all of us) LOVED it. It got quite competitive with lots of hooting and hollering whenever anyone picked The Old Maid.

Dinnertime

Dinnertime

We ate outside every night as a big family of 12. Each family was in charge of one dinner…that included bringing all the food, cooking it, and cleaning up. The Sluiters were in charge of Food on the Fire Pit Night (hobo pies and hot dogs) and also for one big breakfast.  I think our meals were a hit.

More playing

More playing

It seemed like dinner was later and later each night. We would play until it got to be around 8pm and then the Sluiter kids…or at least Charlie…needed to be cleaned up, pajama-ed, and put to bed.  Eddie usually stayed up late with us to play a card game or sit by a campfire, but because he and I shared a little bed, I usually went to bed when he did…around 10pm.

Don’t get jealous…it was hard to sleep with a windmill-like child on a lumpy tiny bed. I didn’t sleep great, but at least we had cool nights so we didn’t add sweating to why we didn’t sleep well.

The weather was perfect, the days were long, and it’s always great to see the smiles that our boys bring to the faces of our family.

There is so much more to be said about those five days, but for now this is what I remember…we still had structure to our day, but that structure was all about relaxing.

June is…

June is a time of beginnings in Sluiter Nation.

School ends for the year in May and June bring the start of long days, lazy evenings, and relaxing afternoons.

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June is when I begin my annual three-month stint as a stay at home mom.

We begin new routines that are less rigid and stressful.

We start smelling fresh air more often and wearing pants less often.

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June is when we can’t be bothered my calendars.

Even though the calendar looks packed, we don’t find ourselves racing through our time together.

We sit back and take it bit by bit. Moment by moment.

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June is always full of possibility.

The summer looms before us filled with potential.

For months Eddie and I have lain in bed listing all the things you can do in the summer like go barefoot and play with water without getting cold.

060June is when we are both busy and lazy.

Doing all the things co-exists with doing nothing.

079June is a lack urgency to use every last drop of summer before it’s over.

We have time.

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June is newness.

New flowers, new projects, new possibilities.

The boys are a year older which means there is more we can handle together.

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June is a release.

All the months of being everything to everyone else…June is when I am mine…and my boys’.

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June is a deep, cleansing breath.

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**Also Charlie is 15 months old today. WUT?

***Also Eddie will be four in 10 days. DOUBLE WUT??

Because Ice Cream

It’s summer!!! LA LA LA!!!

Oh summer…you are so lovely.  No work, hours with my boys, waking up to a 3-almost-4-year old each morning sliding into bed saying, “I’m just going to watch Chugington in here, Mommy.  Try not to snore.”

Yes, summer you are lovely.

And the most lovely thing about summer?

ICE CREAM!

simple chocolate ice cream

Oh yeah…who wants some?

You do, that’s who.

Last year for my birthday I got an ice cream maker.  My mom thought I was crazy to ask for one, and Cort figured it would be one more thing that sits in the cupboard unused.

Oh how wrong they were.

As soon as the weather warmed up, I put that mother to use last year.  My favorite from last year was cheesecake ice cream with raspberry sauce.

So because it is officially summer of 2013, it is officially time to break out the ice cream maker again.

Eddie chose chocolate ice cream as our first batch, and since he was going to be my helper, I let him pick it.  Even though it’s so dang easy.

best helper ever

best helper ever

This recipe also does not require the stove, so I figured it was a good one for us to start with this season.  Eddie added each ingredient and then stirred it up.  He also waited patiently for the 2 hours it needed to chill.

HA HA HA HA HA!!  :wipes eyes:

No, he was not patient.  At all.

But eventually the time came, we put it in the ice cream maker, it made us ice cream, and we ate it.

And there were chocolate mustache duck faces made.

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Because YUM!

Simple Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Note

*This recipe was originally found in the Cuisinart Recipe booklet, but I tend to play with the measurements so this is what I use.

Directions

Step 1
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars, and salt.
Step 2
Add the milk and, using a hand mixer on low speed, beat to combine until the cocoa, sugars, and salt are dissolved.
Step 3
Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.
Step 4
Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours (or overnight)
Step 5
Following the directions of your ice cream maker, pour mixture in. (I have a Cuisinart, so mine has to mix for about 15-20 minutes).
Step 6
If you want it thicker, freeze immediately for about 2 hours, otherwise serve it up in a bowl or on a cone!

What is your favorite summer treat?  If it’s ice cream (like ours) what is your favorite flavor?

This is NOT a Bucket List

anti-bucket-300x258I don’t do bucket lists.  This is probably because I am a pessimist and I assume that if it needs to go on a “someday” list, it means it’s a “never will” list. If it’s not on a list and I get to do it?  Surprise and Yay!  But a whole list of things I wish to do seems like a set up for disappointment. Instead of looking at all the things I’ve checked off, I feel like I will always see those things that never got done.

This is really not a depressing post, I promise.

I really do love lists.

Just not “bucket” lists.

My To Do lists are everywhere: I have Wunderlist lists–both for myself and that I share with Cortney. I have lists to remember details about appointments or outings in our Cozi Calendar. I have post-it’s, a notebook, and a blog planner (mostly for all of my online tasks…not just blog stuff. I don’t have that busy of a blog life).  I have an “All Out Of” list which births a grocery list every week.  I have a literal “laundry” list on my dryer of what loads I do on what days. I have a lesson plan book and various class lists to keep track of various things.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that it’s not like I’m afraid of lists.

I just don’t like Bucket Lists.

I see them all over Pinterest and other people’s blogs…the creative, over-the-top AWESOME that people are going to do with their kids.  Or the childhood memories they want to create with their kids.

I’m not a crabby mom, I promise, I just can’t commit to things like “lay out under the stars” or “catch fireflies” or “take a road trip to another state” or “pack up the family for a picnic in a grassy area we’ve never been before”.

Call me a pessimist or a terrible mom or just a realist, but I cannot romantically put these things on a list To Do.  For one, if these things are on a list? They lose their charm…their excitement.  I’m pretty sure my parents never had “go for a Sunday drive” on any sort of Bucket List (and if I am being honest with my memory from my childhood, I wish NOT going on any Sunday Drives was actually on their list. I get carsick.  They never learned).

And secondly, I know my children. If some night I decide we are checking “lay out under the stars” off our bucket list, all hell will break lose and I will end up crying because NO ONE WILL JUST LIE DOWN AND GAZE IN AWE AT THE UNIVERSE.  There will be over-tired children because it doesn’t even get dark until over 2 hours after their bedtime.  There will be a stressed out OCD mother who is freaking her freak because everything isn’t like a children’s book in the backyard. And I am sure their will be mosquitoes and husbandly eye-rolls.

So instead of a Bucket List for the summer, I give you my Anti-Bucket List or Probably To Do’s:

  1. Leave the house property twice once a week. Not counting the day the boys are in daycare, I just want to get them away from our house once a week. It doesn’t have to be an ALL CAPS SUPER AWESOME OUTING (but it could be). I’ll take Target or the Farmer’s Market.
  2. Maybe try a craft with Eddie.  I won’t get all pinteresty up in here, since I count coloring in his Sponge Bob Coloring book and then letting him cut it up with his safety scissors as a craft, so take this one however you want.
  3. Treat ourselves to treats. We will make ice cream and eat it, and maybe that one time out of the house during the week will be to Starbucks.  Cake pops for everyone!
  4. Teach Eddie responsibility.  He’s going to clean up his own messes because he is almost four and REALLY.
  5. See some animals. Eddie and Charlie get to go to the Critter Barn with daycare in a couple weeks, but I hope to see some animals with them this summer too.  Last summer we did the Critter Barn and three different zoos.  One zoo I prefer not to remember.
  6. Read. By myself. With Eddie.  With Charlie.  Teaching Eddie some sight words.  Maybe even Cort will read something that is not in his Maximum PC Magazine.  Ha ha ha…yeah right.
  7. Sit. Self explanatory.
  8. Play. Oh there will be fun had.  What that fun will look like, I have no idea, but it will be had.
  9. Write stuff. I’ll keep writing here if nothing else…but probably something else.

I know you can’t tell from this post, but I don’t begrudge anyone else for having Bucket Lists.  Some people make ’em and check stuff off ’em like a boss.  Then they share the pictures of the fireflies and the crafts and I see the smiling faces of their kids and I am glad.  The world needs people like that.

I am not like that.  But I think the world needs me too.

Are you a Bucket List person?  You can tell me.  You can even tell me what’s on it.  I won’t think less of you.  In fact, I’ll probably be all kinds of impressed.

It’s a Fish Pouch!

It’s been awhile since I shared a recipe, but I found one this week that every member of my family loved…and it wasn’t a carb-fest or full of cheese!

I know. I am just as shocked as you are.

And here is the most shocking thing…it’s fish.

Yup. ALL four of us LOVED this meal.

It’s SUPER easy, it’s a great summer grill meal, and it’s pretty healthy!

And it’s a POUCH. Of FISH!

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I actually have no idea why I find fish so funny, so let’s just get to the recipe before I embarrass myself, m’kay?

Grilled Fish & Veggie Packets

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh Basil leaves (divided)
  • 1 Zucchini (thinly sliced)
  • 1lb Halibut Fish (cut crosswise into four pieces (I used Tilapia))
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1/4 cup Italian Dressing

Directions

Step 1
heat the grill to medium heat
Step 2
reserve 1/4 of the basil leaves and cut the remaining basil leaves into thin slices.
Step 3
place zucchini on the centers of four large sheets of tin foil and top with fish, tomatoes, and sliced basil.
Step 4
drizzle each with Italian dressing.
Step 5
fold to make four packets.
Step 6
grill for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Step 7
carefully open packets and top fish with reserved basil leaves.

I was going to serve it with brown rice, but then I forgot to make it, so we had unhealthy dinner rolls.

This dinner was a HUGE hit.  Charlie and Eddie both ate everything but the tomatoes with Eddie even declaring, “Mmmm! Zucchini is pretty good!”

A three-year old announcing the “pretty goodness” of zucchini and not fighting at all about eating the fish?

Win.

What do you like to grill?  We need more ideas than just hot dogs and fish pouches.

 

*I found this recipe in my Kraft Food & Family magazine.

Summer Style {Giveaway!}

As I type this, my students are working on their final exams.  When the bell rings at 11:15am today, it will be SUMMER VACATION!  WOOT!

Summer means I don’t have a dress code to follow.  I know that sounds like I am going to go all shorty shorts and tube tops, but no.  It means I don’t have to sweat in slacks and a short-sleeved sweater because we can’t wear anything sleeveless and we don’t have air-conditioning (ok, I do in my classroom at the high school, but in my classroom at the Jr. High, not so much. Or the rest of either building).

What I’m getting at here is that when school’s out? Skirts and dresses become my uniform.  No really. They do.  I can’t stand to wear yoga pants in the summer because when I leave the house for any reason I die of a heatstroke. So skirts and tanks it is!

On the days when I know I will leave the actual property and venture into public, I like to kick the look up a notch to something more than just a fold-over cotton skirt or a maxi dress and wear something pretty.

The Picnic Park Skirt

The Picnic Park Skirt from Shabby Apple

Do you guys know Shabby Apple?

Shabby Apple is an online dress boutique that specializes in vintage and retro dresses.  Click Here: vintage dresses

to see our selection!  I LOVE the style/look of all their clothing.  It’s flirty, retro, romantic, and  just adorable!

I think what I love most about the style of Dresses from Shabby Apple is that even though I have always felt that I have an inner rock n roll chick living inside me, I don’t feel like I am betraying her by loving these clothes.

Gondola Dress from Shabby Apple

Gondola Dress from Shabby Apple

They remind me of Gwen Stefani or Fergi or that chick who used to play bass for Coal Chamber and looked like a china doll.  Ok, maybe that is a stretch since she also wore torn fishnets.  But you get my point.  I wouldn’t feel weird wearing a dress from Shabby Apple and still blaring Danzig.  Or Madonna.  Whatever.

Toe the Line Dress from Shabby Apple

Toe the Line Dress from Shabby Apple

It’s funny because I am not an overly dressy person, but when I look at my summer wardrobe, or I go shopping for summer clothes, I rarely even glance at shorts or capris.  It’s not that they aren’t cute on some people…and maybe would be on me too…but I like the comfort I get with skirts and dresses that bottoms with zipper and snaps and fastens can’t give me.

Lemon Drop Skirt from Shabby Apple

Lemon Drop Skirt from Shabby Apple

And let’s be honest, a skirt gives you a better breeze on hot days than shorts do.  AmIRight?

Do you like what you see?  Well then you will be excited to learn that one lucky reader will win a $50 gift card to Shabby Apple!

To be eligible to win, you must complete the necessary entries in the Rafflecopter widget below, and must provide a USA shipping address when you win.

As a special bonus to Sluiter Nation readers, you can ALL receive 10% off all polka dot dresses from Shabby Apple for the month of June!  Just enter the code polkadot10off at checkout to apply the 10% discount!

Update: Want to double your chances of winning? My friend, Jessica is ALSO having a $50 Shabby Apple giveaway!  Go enter on her blog too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure and terms: I was not compensated in any way for this giveaway. I love Shabby Apple and was happy to give one of you the joy of shopping there too! Some links may be affiliate links.  Shabby Apple is providing the spoils of this giveaway.  Giveaway runs from today 5/31/13 until Saturday, June 8 at midnight est (so, Friday night for some of you). Winner will be contacted via email.  If winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

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