Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Jack's Birthday

Today, my little boy turned 5!  

Let's take a moment and check out Baby Jack:

Yes, there is my chunk.  Here he is at 3 1/2 months, weighing in at 17 1/2 lbs.  Chunk-a-munka.

And today, he is 5 and so ready for kindergarten next year.  He has been looking forward to his birthday for MONTHS now, so I wanted it to be a fun day.

We started the morning with donuts for Jack and Gil, and then headed to Shelburne Museum.  We received a year pass for Christmas but have yet to go (mostly because it's an outdoor museum and Vermont is just now getting warm!).  We had the BEST morning!

Gil loved the antique carousel!

Jack was a fan too.  In fact, he loved the whole museum so much!  He has asked if we can go back tomorrow.  

Here are my boys at the lighthouse.  The museum has lots of historical buildings to see--a lighthouse, a boat, a schoolhouse, a jail, etc.

Also, this is what Gil does now when you pull out the camera.  He's such a ham.

We came home for Gil's nap and then played outside with sidewalk chalk.  When Bech got home, I went to tutor a student and he took the boys to Oakledge park to try out Jack's new ENO hammock.

He loves it!  We are going camping this weekend and I can't wait to try it out there.

All of my boys in the hammock.

Instead of a cake, Jack requested Ben & Jerry's Tonight Dough, or, as he calls it, "Jimmy Fallon's ice cream."  I was happy to grant that wish!

And Gil needed to get in on the action too.  This is his preferred way to eat a pint.

Four has been such a fun age, but I am excited for five.  In the past couple of months, Jack has become even more fun.  He is witty and funny.  He has started noticing and paying attention to more (like when he mentioned something the NPR announcer was saying--oops, better start watching what we say/watch/listen to around him!).  

Jack loves anything he can build with.  He is a huge Lego fan.  He also loves puzzles, crafts, drawing, pirates, comic book/graphic novels, Tintin, Narnia, Harry Potter, and mazes.  He is definitely a problem solver type thinker.  He is super cuddly and lovey.  He loves snuggling.  He is getting better at obeying (bit by bit).  He is a wild man--he loves to run around and climb trees.  He keeps us laughing and on our toes.  

Happy Birthday, Jack!  I can't wait to see what the next year holds!

Friday, June 3, 2016

5 on Friday

This week has been crazy!  I have been tutoring a bunch in the afternoon and night, and next week, I will be tutoring even more.  But I love teaching, so it's a good crazy.

O     N     E

For Mother's Day, we picked up some fresh herbs at our CSA and the local farmer's market as my gift.  I am growing basil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and sun gold tomatoes.

I feel a little like Mary from A Secret Garden when she says, "Might I have a bit of earth?"  It's been several years since I grew herbs and I am loving it.  Every morning, I water my little plants and check for any new growth.

See, aren't my little plants nice looking?

T     W     O

You might notice the basil in particular.  That plant is growing like crazy, and I am trying to find creative uses for it.

Yes, I know I can make pesto.  But here's the thing, we are going to get a ton of basil from our CSA this year.  I am going to be making and freezing batches of pesto all summer (I freeze pesto in a silicone mini-muffin pan and then pop the pesto out and store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer).  

Pinterest was somewhat helpful in this department (although at least half of the pins that popped up were pesto related).  Here's what we've eaten this week:

Head's up, this doesn't make a ton (I didn't realize it when I made it).  Plus, it really should be a side to something else.  But it was yummy and a good excuse to buy a cheap spiralizer off of Amazon.

The recipe suggests serving this on a flank steak, which would have been yummy.  I cooked chicken in a cast iron pan, drizzled the chimichurri on top, and served it alongside roasted broccoli.   Bech and I were both fans, although I think it needed a little lemon zest.

This might be my favorite of the three!  I have always been scared of cooking fish.  For a while, I didn't like the taste, and then, even after I started liking the taste, I just was so unsure about my fish cooking skills.  But when I did the Focus T25 5 day fast track plan (just a 5 day meal plan you can use), fish was on the menu so I actually had to cook it.

The past month, I have been cooking fish a couple of times a week, and every time it has turned out really good.  In fact, that's what we are eating tonight.  I used the cooking tips in the recipe and the meal turned out really good!

Any amazing basil recipes to share?  As soon as tomatoes come in season here, I will be making lots of caprese, but I would love some more options!

T     H     R     E     E

The children's church curriculum moves through the bible over the course of 3 years.  Right now, the kids just learned about David and Goliath.  Jack is obsessed with slingshots so Bech made him one.

If you know my husband at all, you know this is just how he is.  If he can build something himself, he will and it will be beautiful.  So Jack is the proud owner of his very own slingshot!

We took it to a nearby park to test it out (and not break any windows!).

F     O     U     R

We had a great Memorial Day weekend here.  We went to several different parks and spent lots of time outdoors.  Our church had a cookout on Saturday at our favorite local park, Oakledge.  We love Oakledge Park because there is so much to do there!  The park has a playground area, lots of trees, an actual tree house, tennis courts (not that we use them), tons of green space, and it's on the water!  Jack even got in Lake Champlain this past weekend.

Gil LOVES music so he didn't stray too far from the guitar player.  

Also, those curls!

This picture just melts me.  I would love to say that it's an anomaly, that Jack really still looks like a little boy.  But, nope, it's pretty accurate.  Jack totally looks like a big kid!  And the older he gets, the more he looks like Bech.

F     I     V     E

I mentioned two weeks ago that I wanted to get some pillows for our couch.  Well my latest ebates check came in so I went for it!  (which is a miracle in and of itself...I can be SO indecisive about purchases!) 

Ignore the bike in the background and the big cardboard box from Target.  What do you think?  

I love the bright colors.  For so long I had everything in brown tones, but I needed some color!  And I think the gray couch keeps it from being too crazy.

Alright, that's what is going on around here.  We have a fairly calm weekend planned--I'm babysitting for a friend tonight (babysit swapping is the way to go), Jack has his last swim lesson tomorrow, and we might hit up the farmer's market.  Nothing too big, but I'm sure we will be outside a bunch.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May Books

Well I did it.  I met all of my goals from last month!  I wanted to read 1 classic, 1 memoir, and 1 non-fiction, so I will start with those.

The House of Mirth

Oh goodness.  This book is by Edith Wharton.  I chose it as my classic pick because Anne Bogel and Preston Yancey talked about it.  I also liked that it was free on kindle (most classics are).

Not a fan.

The story was interesting enough.  Lily lives in high society in New York in the early 1900's.  Her family has left her no money, so it's all about her trying to marry well.  But it's depressing as heck.  And it doesn't even end happy.  I spent the majority of the book stressed out beyond belief.

But, hey, if you like depressing books that stress you out, go for it.

A Homemade Life

This book was my memoir pick, thanks to Anne Bogel and her podcast (What Should I Read Next).

I just ADORED this book.  Seriously, halfway through the book, I put it down, got on ebay, ordered a super cheap copy of the book (I was reading an interlibrary loan copy), then finished the library copy.  But now I have my own.  That's how much I loved it.

It is a memoir that is filled with food and recipes, almost like a secular Bread and Wine.  I love food and I love to read about food, so I was pretty happy.

"Like most people who love to cook, I like the tangible things.  I like the way the knife claps when it meets the cutting board.  I like the haze of sweet air that hovers over a hot cake as it sits, cooling, on the counter.  I like the way a strip of orange peel looks on an empty plate.  But what I like even more are the intangible things: the familiar voices that fall out of the folds of an old cookbook, or the scenes that replay like a film reel across my kitchen wall.  When we fall in love with a certain dish, I think that's what we're often responding to: that something else behind the fork or the spoon, the familiar story that food tells."

More specifically, the book moves through Molly's life, with most of the time spent on college and after college, and also the death of her father.  She is a wonderful writer.  I laughed, I cried, I salivated over yummy dishes.

Trust me, read this book.

Jesus Outside the Lines

Finally, my non-fiction pick.

This book is written by Scott Sauls, a PCA pastor in Nashville, TN.  Almost every time this guy posts on his blog, I love that post.  He is thinking, grappling with, and writing about big issues, and doing so with incredible amounts of wisdom, grace, and humility.

In this book, Sauls works through a lot of issues, both inside and outside of the church.  He is making the case that Jesus didn't come to fit within a party line.  I think anyone could read this book and get a lot from it, and definitely have some mind sets hopefully changed.  

Here are some of my favorite passages:

"Having received such grace, Christians have a compelling reason to be remarkably gracious, inviting, and endearing toward others, including and especially those who disagree with us.  Are we known by what we are for instead of what we are against?  Are we less concerned about defending our rights--for Jesus laid down his rights--and more concerned about joining Jesus in his mission of loving people, places, and things to life?

When the grace of Jesus sinks in, we will be among the least offended and most loving people in the world."

(Can we all just stop and think about that last sentence.  Whoa.)

"Critique when you must.  Human flourishing and redemption depend on it.

Affirm whenever and wherever you can.  As the likeness of God, everyone is magnificent.  As an incomplete work in progress, everyone is magnificently frail."

"Jesus was offensive to smug, judgmental, religious people.  He was a breath of fresh air to broken, nonreligious people.  Can the same things be said about his followers today?"

"For example, during the 1992 presidential elections a friend of mine told me about an awkward moment in his Bible study.  One of the group members expressed excitement because that Sunday, she had seen a bumper sticker promoting the 'other party' in the church's parking lot.  She was excited because, to her, this was an indiction that non-Christians had come to visit.  Imagine the awkwardness when another member of the group chimed in, 'Um...that's my bumper sticker that you saw.'

Can we talk?  If a Zealot and a tax collector share a common faith that transcends opposing political loyalties, then left-leaning and right-leaning believers must do the same.  It is wrong to question someone's faith because they don't vote like you do.  Yes, wrong."

Do you see why I loved this book?  My only negative is that I read the book on kindle.  I really want a paper copy of this book to thumb through over and over.

The Nightingale

This book is a great example of why sharing a kindle account with your family is wonderful.  My mom put it on the kindle months ago and I finally got around to reading it.  

Because I read them in close succession and because they deal with the same time period, I can't help but compare The Nightingale with All the Light We Cannot See.  I would say that All the Light is better written--I heard that it took Doerr years to write, and that shows.  But The Nightingale is still a wonderful book.  I might even say that I enjoyed the story itself a little more than All the Light.

It follows two sisters living in France during WWII (and thus German occupation).  It started out a tad slow, but once it picked up, boy did it pick up!  And I cried at the end, because that's what I do.  

Verdict:  read this!

Station Eleven

I read about this book a couple of months ago on a blog.  I found it at the library, but I didn't even pick it up for several weeks.  I think I  was put off by the idea of reading yet another dystopian novel.  Don't get me wrong, I loved reading The Hunger Games and the Divergent series, but I just couldn't do another book like that.

But then a guest on What Should I Read Next talked about this book and she mentioned that she loved how it was so beautifully written (I'm noticing a theme in what I want out of a book!).  I picked it up the next day.

If you are looking for a dystopian read, this really isn't going to be it.  This book has those elements there.  You are going to be reading about the collapse of modern society because of a worldwide plague/flu.  But, there's going to be no arena, no overtaking some crazy new government.

As the author writes, "Survival is insufficient."  I think this book is about finding beauty and meaning in this collapsed world. 

Again, another must read.  I loved this book.  I will go so far as to say I would reread this book, which is true love in my world.

Cappuccinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse

Sometimes I just want to read something light and fluffy, usually from the cozy mystery genre.  I love to browse the free kindle books, and this book popped up this month.

I don't want to waste too much time writing about the book.  It was free, it was fluffy, it was fun.  If you want something like that for free, get it.  

The Kitchen House

So many bloggers had said to read this book, so I did.  And I feel sort of eh about it.

I know, that's the opposite of everyone else!  I didn't hate it.  In fact, I thought the story was really interesting.  But the writing was not amazing.  

It's the story of an indentured servant (a little Irish girl, Lavinia) and her interaction with the slaves on a plantation as well as the plantation owner and his family.  

As far as racial themes, there is a lot of meat here, and that was good.  But I think perhaps some other books deal with that better.  If you like historical fiction, however, especially during this time period (after the Revolution, but before the Civil War), you might really enjoy this book.

I will say, I think my feelings about this book were more about my personal preferences than the quality of the book itself, so, if it sounds good to you, you should read it.

So to sum up, 7 books this month, all goals met, and some new favorites found!

Now onto June.

I posted this picture on Instagram.  This is what I'm working through this month (plus an audio book of Maisie Dobbs, a couple Kindle books, and some things I've put a hold on through our library).  4 of those are non-fiction.  My goal is finish 2 non-fictions this month and 8 books total.  I think I can do it!