A morning at Picnic Point

Monday morning we jumped at an invitation to take a walk at Picnic Point, a local park that juts out into one of the large lakes here, creating a “point” where people can picnic. Walking to the point and back is a 2 mile walk and with company it quickly turned into easy exercise and a lot of fun. As you can see, the other cool thing about Picnic Point is that it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Along the way we passed a small, sandy beach area with a stunning view of the water.

This beach was so gorgeous I wanted to stop and move in permanently.

It appears to be a popular spot for all sorts of water enthusiasts. We saw a few boaters, lots of people walking and biking – but at the same time, it managed to feel blessedly quiet and peaceful.

The kids all walked, BB using her little Sheep Backpack Leash set up, something I don’t use often but decided this would be a good use for it. I knew she’d want to walk with the “Big Kids” but that I wouldn’t be able to trust her not to jump in the water at warp speed.

Close to the end of the path, we noticed an excellent view of the Capital Building! I of course had to stop and snap (another) picture.

All three kids were so well behaved and good-natured. They hiked the trail with us like little champs and had a blast digging in the sand, walking together and exploring the area. Every few feet there seemed to be another awesome discovery like this water fountain that requires the drinker to pump the water straight out of the ground!

After we had successfully walked to the point we decided to walk back to the beachy area for lunch where there was some nice shade and of course sand water to play with some more when the kids were done eating. In short, we had a fantastic time!

Nightstand: July

Can you believe it’s already time for another Nightstand update? It feels like the summer is flying by and unfortunately my reading has been at a bit of a standstill.

I’d like to report that since last month I’ve ready a boat load of books but the truth is, I’ve only managed to read Second Wind by Cami Ostman (read my review here), the book I was reading last month, and 400 out of 600 pages of the book club pick for July, The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall.

The Lonely Polygamist is one of those books that I never would have picked up on my own. Sometimes that’s a good thing and I end up reading some thing amazing like Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Unfortunately this time it means reading a book that barely appeals to me that’s also really long. Yet somehow I’ve felt compelled to keep reading it because it manages to be just interesting / intriguing enough and has miraculously one character in the book that I kinda like and hope things work out for. I wish said character were narrating the book and not just getting bits and pieces here and there (though she is being mentioned a lot more towards the end of the book). The majority of the book is told from the POV of the husband and one of his (many) sons. Both guys are very strange, kinda pervy dudes with a whole lot of baggage. And while it’s somewhat interesting, I spend most of the book wishing they would edit themselves a bit, but no – you read every dirty thought that passes their mind, which is most of their thoughts. Really, how am I still reading this book?

So what will I be reading next?

Well our book club pick for July is another lengthy one, Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese is also around 600 pages. Luckily it also looks interesting:

“Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.”

Afterwards or possibly just before I plan to read The Princess Bride by William Goldman which I just downloaded on my kindle. I’m figuring it will count towards my Classics Self Challenge and I’ve heard it’s really terrific.

A few other books that keep giving me sad puppy eyes, begging me to read them:

What are you reading right now?

Daybook: July 25th (now with Birthday Wrap-Up)

Today

Outside my window: it’s really a beautiful day. The weather has finally cooled down just enough but not too much and we were able to actually get outside and enjoy the weather today and not regret it! We met up with some friends this morning and took a walk at a nearby park and had lunch near a tiny little “beach” and it was all just really… perfect. Nice weather, good company, stress free morning. The kids all had a blast and we even snuck in a two mile walk!

I took pictures that I’ll post as soon as I get a chance to go through them.

This weekend: was BB’s birthday party! I had this vision in my mind of an Olivia color-themed / tea party birthday party, meaning lots of simple red & white decorations, easy snacky food and iced tea since it’s too hot for hot tea. It actually all came together beautifully. Love when that happens!

I had a friend take some pictures early on and I’m so glad I did because for once I have pictures of ME at the party, which almost never happens!

This party was also pretty frugal. I made PB&J sandwiches for the kids – cut into small triangles. The kids were all mostly BB’s age so three sandwiches fed all five kids with leftovers. We ordered some italian subs from a nearby deli and again had leftovers. I served kettle corn, Newman’s arrowroot cookies and fresh strawberries as snacks and angel food cupcakes decorated with a smidge of cream cheese frosting and red sprinkles for effect. It all looked so pretty, tasted delicious and was easy peasy to pull together. For decorations, you can see we blew up a few red balloons, hung a bit of streamer and I got some fake white flowers from the dollar store and put them in two red glasses. I didn’t bother with goody bags and I don’t think anyone minded.

I also found this adorable red dress on clearance at Burlington Coat Factory and couldn’t resist. She looked ADORABLE and it really worked with the whole Olivia theme. BB had three friends over and she got the perfect little assortment of gifts. We got her a Green Toys tea party set and some little felt cakes from HABA that I’ll be reviewing soon. Friends brought a great Mo Willems book, a porcelain paint your own tea set for when she’s older, an incredible Olivia Doll and two beautiful little purses and some breakaway jewelry. Just the right assortment off terrific little girl things!

BB has decided she is VERY into purses and last night we tried out putting a diaper and some wipes in one of her new purses and she LOVED it and carried the bag around everywhere. I might be able to switch to a smaller purse sooner than I thought now! Gotta love child labor!

Right now I’m reading: The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall and I’m about halfway through but only have 3 more days until our book club meets to discuss it. I really doubt I’ll finish it in time so now the question is, do I keep reading it after book club or move onto something else, hopefully something better? This book hasn’t been all bad and at times it’s even interesting but the narrators in the book are verging on unlikeable and also kinda weirdly pervy and I’m just wishing that it were narrated entirely be the wives or at least mostly instead of occasionally. Then I might like it better.

Links Worth Clicking

Going Green 2011 @ Mommas ReviewOne last thing to share before I go: Next week we’re going to be doing a fun event at my review blog, Going Green 2011! For two weeks we’ll be featuring reviews, interviews and more on all things Green!
Check out my post here for more info & if you’d like to get involved please email me at mommablogsalot (at) gmail (dot) com!
I’m going to be reviewing some fun new green product and featuring some lists of favorite tried & trues, books to read & more! Should be a good green time! :O)

Day 6 : A Letter

Remember that 30 day challenge I was doing? I didn’t forget about it, I’ve just been pretty busy lately. I figured I’d get back in the swing of it though before it takes me 30 years to finish it!

Today’s prompt is:

 If you had to write a letter to someone that you have not spoken to for a very long time, who would it be and what would you say in that letter?

I think there are several letters in my life that should have been written and things that should have been said. Some simply aren’t fit to be immortalized on the internet. Some are trite and boring.

One person I might like to write a letter to is an old boss of mine. She was the co-owner of the bookstore where my husband and I were working when we met. She was rather inspirational to me. Not only did she have the privilege of owning her own business for many years, but she was one of those people who was universally adored by everyone. I don’t know anybody who did not love her and admire her. People used to come to the store and be delighted to see she was working, wanting to have just a moment to talk to her.

I can still remember a random day when I was putting together a wall of Staff Picks in the children’s section. I can still remember the book she chose, Jamberry, and I think I might remember that fact for the rest of my life and admire that book just a little bit more than I already did because she loved it.

I would write to her and let her know that she inspired me and thank her for opening her store which touched so many lives – which played a part in me meeting my husband – which is still the place I will always name as my favorite job that I ever had.

Some of my favorite memories reside in this bookstore – even memories from before I ever worked there and ever met Dan. This is the store that my grandmother took me to when I was a child visiting her on summer vacations. After a day of shopping together and running errands, we would go to our favorite bookstore for lunch (and dessert!) and then she’d always let me buy at least one book. I discovered Harry Potter there (and later even helped run a Harry Potter book premiere with my husband while working there). I played Team Trivia there with my best friends from high school.

And I’m just one person. I know this store was magic for so many people. It touched lives and it became a landmark in our community that everybody knew about and loved. I was so sad when the store closed down shortly after I left the company. I still drive by the building when I’m in town and it’s hard to imagine that it’s not there. That something else happens there now and nobody is going there for the latest book or a cup of coffee from their restaurant. I miss it.

I’d tell her that. Hopefully in a more coherent fashion.

Who would you write to?

You can see all the posts I’ve written for this challenge here (prompts for all 30 days can be found here at Caity!).

Turning two.

BB’s birthday party will be this Sunday but of course we couldn’t resist celebrating yesterday also. We opened a few presents that family had sent and went out to dinner together to celebrate – and of course we ordered dessert!

The little figurines above were actually mine when I was a little girl. My father decided to start sending them to BB on her birthdays – isn’t that sweet?

BB and her birthday baby

My grandmother sent her this cute little baby doll. Of course she was immediately smitten, and wanted nothing to do with getting her picture taken with it while she was so busy playing with it, hence this being my best picture of them!

Before we left for dinner, I got the kids all dressed up – it was a celebration after all! Doesn’t she look pretty? I had to stalk her like the paparazzi to get this picture.

Then I tried to get them to hug for a picture. You can see how well that went. Then the second I gave up and started to put the camera away…

She practically tackled him. Literally. Like he almost fell. He loved it of course.

Dan’s parents sent an adorable little dollhouse that comes with Little People! So excited that we finally have some classic Little People toys!

She was pretty excited, too.

What did mom & dad get their adorable two year old?

A new Olivia book all about planning a tea party, perfect because she’s having a “tea party / Olivia” themed birthday party of sorts. There won’t actually be any Olivia decorations, it’s more of a color scheme really – lots of red, black and white and kids dressed up in pretty dresses / nice shirts, etc. Sort of semi-formal for fun with little sandwiches and tea & juice to drink (possibly iced tea if this weather keeps up!

We also got her some ABC magnets for the fridge to beef up our current collection which is missing a good 2/3rds of the alphabet. This set has uppercase and lower case which MM is pretty excited about. Now they should be able to spell just about anything!

And of course there will be a couple other presents at her party also, but I figured I’d recap her birthday DAY now and tell you about the party next week!

Guess that’s all for now, have a great weekend guys!

What a two year old looks like.

Two. on 365 Project

I really meant to post this yesterday but it took me awhile to get her to pose for a “beauty shot” – not that she posed for this one of course. Two year olds don’t do that. But luck finally struck and now I am satisfied. More pictures later.

Two.

Two years ago we were welcoming Miss Baby Blueberry into the world.

Baby Blueberry meets the world

We were telling birth stories and taking in the wonder of that New Baby Smell again.

Every minute was a new moment, a new picture. Things moved slowly for awhile as we took in everything it meant to be the parents of two children rather than just one.

Gradually things started to pick up, she started to be awake more hours out of the day than she spent sleeping. She started to crawl, to climb, to walk, to run.

her first taste of seven minute frosting on 365 Project

She tasted her first birthday cake.

a beauty shot on 365 Project

sweetest of cheeks, revisited. on 365 Project

She slowly began to transform from a baby to a child. A beautiful child. I still cannot stop gazing at the gorgeous little girl I get to call my daughter.

Pretty Girl. on 365 Project

hello, hello baby, you called, i can't hear a thing... on 365 Project

She is her own little person now. She has things to do, places to be, people to rule over mercilessly. She has us all wrapped around her tiny little fingers, still.

they grow up so fast! on 365 Project

ROAR! on 365 Project

And today my tiny little girl is less tiny and also, she is two years old. She is a toddler. She jumps and climbs and runs and sings and dances and laughs and cries and giggles and imitates everything she hears and loves ice cream and hates bath time and marches to the beat of her own drum, always. She is perfect.

Happy birthday Little Baby Blueberry. You are not a baby anymore, but you will always be my baby.

Daybook: July 19th

Remember when my Daybook posts were always on Monday mornings? Those were the days… With MM in camp this week my schedule has been all sorts of flipped and flopped and I’m basically not home in the morning at all somehow. Anyway I’m gonna write my “daybook” post tonight because hubby is working late again and watching tv without him is boring. And ’cause I’m late with my daybook. And also I’m too lazy to copy and paste the last Daybook so I’m going to wing it and try to write it from memory. Exciting stuff!

a night walk. on 365 Project

Today

Outside my window: it actually is still broad daylight outside and I’m guessing at least 90 degrees. We’re in the middle of a little heat wave right now and between that and the loooong summer days it sort of looks like it might be noon outside. And it feels like it might be a sauna. The picture above is from a night time stroll I took last night around 9pm. I only lasted about twenty minutes before the 90 degree humidity was officially too much for me, but hey it’s better than nothing right?

This weekend: was the company picnic! Wanna see lots of fun pictures? Going to daddy’s office is always a fun time but it’s an extra special fun time once a year when they hold their summer picnic (click link for pictures from last year’s picnic).

Don’t let this picture fool you. There is nothing ordinary about my husband’s place of employment.

MM’s favorite thing is always the bounce house but there is also a fun petting zoo, an arts & crafts tent, a baby pool filled with bubbles and bubble wands, rock climbing and more.

The kids had a delicious lunch of hot dogs, chips, salad and watermelon the size of BB’s head.

See?

Dan and I had steak and lobster, corn bread and much the same sides as the kids – oh and corn on the cob dipped in butter. And cake. There was cake.

The construction vehicle petting zoo is always a big hit – look how huge those tires are! (or how short my children are?) This year they even had a fire truck!

(look, I was there, too!)

BB was all over the place and loving her independence AKA we opted not to bring the stroller for better or worse. After we’d had our fill of the summer heat wave, we went inside for a quick trip down the Company Slide and then headed home.

A perfect summer afternoon!

You didn’t think I was kidding, did you?

…Oh right, this is a Daybook post, and not just about the picnic. Let’s finish up then or something shall we?

Right now I’m reading: The Lonely Polygmaist by Brady Udall for my book club. We’re discussing it next Wednesday and I have 500 pages out of 600 to go so wish me luck and speed reading (hmmm maybe I should be working on that now instead of blogging…) I am still a bit on the fence about this one. It’s interesting and in some ways an easy read but it also has some subject matter (death of a child, several stillbirth descriptions in one chapter) that made last night in particular not the best sleeping night. I even nearly woke up BB sneaking into her room to make sure she was still breathing. I may need to plug her baby monitor back in if this keeps up.

Awesome Stuff I Read Online:

One last picture to share before I go? How ’bout this quick snapshot of my favorite little couch potato during a Phineas and Ferb marathon this weekend (that’s one way to beat the heat!)?

couch potato on 365 Project

Book Review: Second Wind by Cami Ostman

Second Wind by Cami Ostman If you’re looking for an inspiring memoir filled with world travel, self discovery and even a little romance – Second Wind by Cami Ostman definitely delivers!

As you can probably tell from the cover image, it’s a story about a woman who decides to run a marathon on all seven continents – no easy feat! Here’s more info about the book from goodreads.com:

Second Wind is the story of an unlikely athlete and an unlikely heroine: Cami Ostman, a woman edging toward midlife who decides to take on a challenge that stretches her way outside of her comfort zone. That challenge presents itself when an old friend suggests she go for a run to distract her from the grief of her recent divorce. Excited by the clarity of mind and breathing space running offers her, she keeps it up — albeit slowly — and she decides to run seven marathons on seven continents; this becomes Ostman’s vision quest, the thing she turns to during the ups and downs of a new romance and during the hard months and years of redefining herself in the aftermath of the very restrictive, religious-based marriage and life she led up until her divorce. Insightful and uplifting,Second Wind carries the reader along for the ride as Ostman runs her way out of compliance with the patriarchal rules about “being a woman” that long held her captive and into authenticity and self-love. Her adventures — and the personal revelations that accompany them — inspire readers to take chances, find truth in their lives, and learn to listen to the voice inside them that’s been there all along.

I really loved reading this book. While Cami’s life story is very different from mine and I am not a runner in the least, her story still comes across as very relateable and also very inspiring. Reading about her training and experience running marathons had me itching to put on some sneakers and go out and exercise – which is never a bad thing! And her descriptions of all the countries she visited had me frequently googling exotic locations and travel websites. It’s a book that made me dream about the adventures I could have in my life and think about the ones I’ve already had.

Her writing sucks you in, so that I found myself eager to dive back into her story every night to see how her latest adventure would turn out and by the time I finished the last page, I felt like I’d finished an adventure myself. It really was a wonderful story and I’d encourage any runners, wannabe runners, and exercise or travel enthusiasts to check this one out!

You can get a copy of Second Wind by Cami Ostman for less than $12 on Amazon.com right now!