Thursday, May 31, 2012

normal

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Today I did all our laundry, went grocery shopping, put away our travel sundries, sorted mail, returned urgent calls and emails...essentially got us back to "normal."

And tonight I'm relaxing on my couch and hangin' with M and President Bartlet. It's not Disney, but it's home...and in many ways, home is even better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

home

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We are home, and it is good.

We packed this morning and hit the water park until the last possible minute. Showers in the park changing rooms, two flights, and a final drive home. Zozer has been deposited into her bed, and I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, without a snoring, acrobatic six-year-old. All in all a fabulous trip. But it still feels awesome to be home.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

magic and rain

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A late start (actually, an early start that led to turning around at the gates to Magic Kingdom and going back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap) and rain did not ruin our day! Had a blast and hit some new attractions along with "old" favorites. Like It's a Small World again. And again.

Water park tomorrow, then a late flight home. M is convinced this trip stunk. I am convinced that despite a few unplanned changes we made some wonderful memories and experienced a lot of new things together. Really, what more could we ask for?

Monday, May 28, 2012

51 cents

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Another day spent close to the room. We started pumping children's immodium and tylenol into her late morning and it did the trick. She's still on the mend, but doing much better. Since we lost a day today (even if she weren't sick, Beryl's storms would have tanked it anyway), we are looking at extending a day. It was M's idea, and who am I to argue with genius?

Zoe's been having a blast adding to her pressed penny (smashed pennies, she calls them) collection. For two quarters and a penny you can get what has to be the least expensive Disney souvenir available. Don't worry, we're not totally cheaping out on her. She's also scored a plush Minnie, a Minnie nightgown, a Minnie bucket hat, and the promise of Minnie ears before we depart. I also got her a 2012 photo album that I can use for all our pictures.

I just think the smashed penny thing is cool. We've found the machines in the most random places and have been able to bring them back from almost every trip. Once you start looking for them, they're everywhere. She has quite the collection going, and even has an official pressed penny book to keep them in. Not too shabby for 51 cents each!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

love & happiness

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Low-key day by the pool. Zozer feeling under the weather. Hope the day of rest brings her around. We had planned this as a pool day, thankfully. Tomorrow is supposed to be the water park, but we'll see how she feels and if the weather holds (Beryl is sending her love).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

pluto

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After a rough start this morning with Zozer (late night followed by early alarm followed by car ride on empty stomach followed by a couple emergency trips to the bathroom followed by napping on a huge ottoman outside the gift shop in the Contemporary), things improved and we had a pretty great day at Animal Kingdom.

Pluto got up-close and personal at the parade, giving us high-fives. Among other highlights. This just happens to be my favorite non-Zoe shot today.

We have been met with phenomenal service at every turn, and have been greeted with kindness and enthusiasm.

Holy crap, this really is the happiest place on earth.

Friday, May 25, 2012

magic

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I always thought Disney was too big, too corporate. Disney owns freakin' everything, after all. And the princess stories usually involve absent mothers (typically by early death - WTF) and princesses wholly dependent upon men to save them (again - WTF). I was a pretty hard-core Disney cynic.

And then tonight we watched the Main Street Electrical Parade and it blew my mind.

Holy shit. Disney really IS magic.

The awesomeness of today cannot be understated. It was amazing for all three of us. Zoe's favorite ride is Splash Mountain, followed closely by It's a Small World. She did NOT like Space Mountain, to her parents' chagrin.

Tomorrow is our character breakfast, where hopefully she'll get to meet Minnie Mouse, who is her favorite and who she is dying to see up close and personal. Then we're off to Animal Kingdom.

I can't wait! I love Disney World!!!

(I understand the newest crop of princesses are pretty powerful in their own right, and some of them even go so far as to save hapless boys. About damn time.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

flight

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Traveling is so much fun when it's not work-related.

Zoe flew for the first time today. She loved it, and we had a blast. And we also learned that it is indeed possible to fit a Mommy and a Zoe in the lavatory at the same time. Comfortable? No, but possible.

Long day, time for sleep.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ferris wheel eclipse

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Zoe's school carnival today, and her last official day of kindergarten.

A day of awesome fun with my family and friends. It doesn't get much better than this.

Except maybe tomorrow, when we get to Disney World.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ladder shadows

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Monday, May 21, 2012

hassock fan

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The vintage hassock fan we're using in the Summer Cottage? Awesome.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Post-walk pix

All around, the day included many good photo opportunities. We had birdies trying to crash our picnic lunch, and white puffy clouds moving towards sun-highlighted leaves while I drifted off for a short nap under a tree (M was ferrying Zo to the history museum to use the facilities).

The last one is Zoe crossing a bridge to Picnic Island in search for a letterbox. (She found it!)

I said it before and I'll say it again: what a great day!

More Saturday Pix

The Heart Walk started and ended at Busch Stadium, and the route included two passes under the giant American flag the fire fighters trot out for parades, walks, funerals and such. The whole morning was very moving, both physically and emotionally.

peanuts

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

heartfelt

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Awesome day.

Heart Walk downtown with great friends.
Picnic in Forest Park with my little family.
Letterboxing (google it) in Forest Park and our local community park.
New recipe for dinner: mushroom and tofu chili.

Fantastic.

Friday, May 18, 2012

moving canvas

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

bouquet

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Playground Duty

Today was my day to serve as playground monitor at Zozer's school. There was a funeral mass going on at church, so I was essentially a traffic cop making sure students crossed safely from the school to the field for recess. It was a beautiful day and I got to see my kid, so I really didn't mind.

Out of sheer boredom, perhaps, I started noticing patterns of paint on the asphalt. I just kind of liked how they looked, so between shifts I wandered around and made some images. Yes, I am easily amused.

The best part of the day, though, was at the end of the first shift. My favorite kindergartner ran up to me at the bell, holding out a tiny flower. "This is for you, Mommy, because I love you!" She gave me a quick hug and a kiss and was gone. Back to her classroom for more learning and coloring and singing and fun.

I held the little flower through the two remaining shifts, about an hour, and then brought it home and propped it up in a little plastic cup of water. She was well pleased to see it there when she got home from school later, which made me happy all over again.

We are two peas in a pod, and I am thrilled all over again that I found a new job that enables me to stay in town and experience moments like this.

shadow pattern

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"Mama! Take my picture through the back of this chair!"
"Okay, but first I want to get this picture on the side."

The look is her utter disdain and conviction that her proposed image is far, far better than mine. She's really just humoring me at this point.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

quack!

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Monday, May 14, 2012

caramel

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I am many things today:

1. A glutton for punishment.
2. The owner of one mother of a sweet tooth.
3. Someone who is persistent, tenacious, and stubborn.
4. A cheapskate who refuses to pay a buck for 3 candies.

I tackled homemade caramel again today. And this time, I succeeded. At this very moment I have a gallon bag on the kitchen table full of waxed-paper wrapped caramels. That are so yummy I want to eat them all right now.

I am thrilled I was able to do this. I have issues with the idea of failing at anything. This is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night. Memories of scorched sugar and blackened pots.

I had put it out of my head pretty well until this weekend, when we visited the local farmer's market and found a stall selling handcrafted candy and baked goods. Across the counter I spied a little basket with waxed paper nuggets. I have been looking for handmade caramels since I received a little bag from a Carmel, CA confectionery, sent by a shutter sister right before Christmas. I haven't found them anywhere in St. Louis. I kept the tag off the bag from the Carmel shop and was seriously considering calling them up and asking them to ship a pound. Then I found the farmer's market and shelled out a buck for three.

They weren't as good as the caramels from Carmel, and I rankled at what they cost.

Surely, I thought, I can do this.

I found a different recipe online and tackled it again. And I am pleased to say that my caramels are just as good as the Carmel caramels, and a lot less expensive (so long as you don't count time - making caramel is not a quick undertaking).

Today I also made Green Goddess salad dressing from scratch, and a delicious zucchini, tomato and goat cheese omelet. The omelet didn't look so great, but man was it tasty. I think my pan was too large and my heat too high. Will try again later.

Used the Cuisinart to julienne my zucchini. Holy cow. So freakin fast and easy. I have never julienned anything in my life until tonight, and wow was it exciting. Actually it was so quick that I didn't even have a chance to be excited. The directions said to pulse the Cuisinart. They weren't kidding. One pulse and the zucchini was sliced perfectly. I repacked the chute with the slices, gave another pulse and wham! Gorgeously julienned zucchini.

I'm turning into a kitchen geek, I think.

Zozer loves my new forays into culinaria. She finished up the leftover stir fry from last week, announcing that she still thinks it's awesome and that the tofu is her most very favorite part.

That alone is reason enough to keep doing it.

(I'm growing increasingly concerned about leaving The Summer Cottage once The New House is built. I couldn't seem to cook in a normal sized kitchen, but I can make just about anything in this one - even caramels. The stove is the same, but I now have approximately two feet of counter space in total. The kitchen is blessed by M's grandma, I think.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Supercalifragalisticexpialadocious

I'm sure I spelled that incorrectly. We saw the new Mary Poppins musical tonight. Fantastic. A phenomenal end to a great Mother's Day weekend.

Favorite scene: Step in Time. Holy awesome tap dancing, especially on the walls and ceiling.

Yesterday - more

Just discovered these didn't actually get sent yesterday as they were supposed to. Last I saw they were in the outbox. Apparently they went out to...I don't know where. Grrrr.

The guy napping on Art Hill elicited a great conversation between Zoe and her father:
"Daddy? Is he dead?"
"No, Zozo. He's sleeping. Just takin' a nap."
"Oh."

silos abandoned

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some more pix from today

slam

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Today was awesome. Zoe and I went to an 8 am mass and group rosary prayer for Deacon Brian, who is a great person and the verge of being ordained. The Catholic church needs more people like him, so there's a lot to celebrate. Plus, he prayed a rosary for me when I was trying to score my new job so I figured I owed him one for his new job. After we prayed we went to a little reception for him, where Zozer slammed a doughnut and juice and then ran around with her equally hyped up friends while I caught up with fellow parishioners. It was lovely.

From there we went to the grocery store where I got more yummy ingredients for this week.

Came home and put groceries away before making turkey samiches for lunch. With cheese, tomato, lettuce and mustard. Pretzels, banana and yellow bell pepper rounded out our meal.

Then we were off to the local train station for National Train Day. A folk band, freebies, coloring books, conductor hats...all kinds of good stuff. Plus we saw three trains, one of which was an Amtrak. That totally blew Zozer's socks off.

Next stop: the St. Louis Art Museum for a great photography exhibit. M kept Zozer occupied while I wandered through the gallery in bliss. It was just lovely.

Home for a quick nap (luxurious!) before heading out to mass, as the 8 am one didn't count for this weekend. Besides, I needed to get my Mother's Day blessing which makes me thankful all over again that we conquered infertility while remembering those years I simply couldn't attend mass on Mother's Day because it was too painful.

Home again, where I tried another new recipe that turned out to rock as much as the others I've done over the last week. Chicken with granny smith apples and onions over egg noodles. Cooked with olive oil, cider vinegar and a touch of honey. The house still smells delicious.

Dinner was followed by a trip to the local frozen custard shop for a cool after-dinner trip. Mommy got to pick the flavor (we always share) as it's her weekend, and she chose wisely. Topsy Turtle, which includes caramel, nuts, caramel, chocolate sauce, and caramel. Did I mention caramel?

I've got a clean kitchen, clean litter box, laundry going, dishwasher steaming, a tuckered-out kid sound asleep, an iphone full of pix from today, and West Wing on the flat-panel.

Life is good.

Friday, May 11, 2012

plecostomus

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I saw fishies today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

cuisinarting

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Last week I purchased a new cookbook. This is a pretty big step for me because, as we all know, I do not cook. I found a mug recently that made me laugh out loud. It said, "If it fits in a toaster...I can cook it."

The cookbook sat there for a week, glaring at me. I glared back.

So, over the weekend I sat down with it, a pen, and a piece of paper. I found several recipes that looked promising, and made up my shopping list. On Monday, I went to the grocery store. I made a few on-the-fly substitutions, because shiitake mushrooms and sugar snap peas have prices that make me choke and I'm pretty happy with button mushrooms and frozen peas. I'm a simple girl.

A few nights ago I dug out a wokish pan we own yet never use and made stir fry. Yesterday I created Italian salad dressing from scratch. Today I unpacked the Cuisinart Pro that we received as a wedding present nearly 15 years ago. Today was the first time I ever used it. When I say I unpacked it, that includes peeling off all the sharp blade warning stickers and giving it a good scrubbing. Please know I am suitably embarrassed that this fine example of kitchen power toolage sat silent for so long. Please also know that I am perfectly fine with placing some of the blame on my darling M who has been primarily responsible for our meals the majority of our marriage.

Anyway.

I dug it out because today's recipe called for pesto made from scratch, which requires food processing. I didn't relish the idea of digging pesto out of the blades at the bottom of my blender, so out came the Cuisinart. I actually had to go out to my file cabinet in the garage where I keep all warranty and instruction paperwork because I had no earthly idea how to get the damn thing apart, much less use it.

I got it all figured out, and pureed my little heart out (well, okay, fresh basil, fresh flat-leaf parsley, fresh garlic, a bit of olive oil, and parmesan cheese) while boiling my noodles and cooking up fresh tomatoes and broccoli in a skillet. It. Was. Awesome. I pulsed. I minced. I did whatever it is that people who actually cook do with Cuisinart machines.

And at the end, Zozer and I had another great, healthy meal made with fresh ingredients. I am really digging this cooking thing.

(Let me know if you would like the recipe for Pasta with Arugula Pesto and Tomatoes, or rather, my version which used basil instead of arugula and had the addition of fresh broccoli. Because I'm discovering that you can throw fresh broccoli into everything and it's pretty good. This education came courtesy of the 3 lb bag of broccoli florets I picked up at Sam's this week. Turns out that 3 lbs of broccoli is a LOT of broccoli.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Good Girl

Zozo stuck up for a friend being bullied today, and she helped her after care teacher clean up the room before hitting the playground. Girlfriend earned herself some frozen custard and a walk to wait for trains.

We were on the bridge when the freight train came along below us, and she was mesmerized by the different perspective.

I continue to be mesmerized by her.

station

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Danny's Music

video

Here is the beautiful music composed by my cousin Danny. I'd say this beats most of the other pieces they played during the concert!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

stir fry

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Zozer and I went to the local discount grocery store after school and stocked up. Fresh veggies, low-calorie snacks, milk, light string cheese, and Ritz Bits. Yeah, that last one isn't quite so healthy but Zo loves to take them for her snack and they were on sale.

Then we came home and she made a lovely picture for a local World War II veteran who is being honored in Washington DC while I made stir fry. Broccoli, peas, mushrooms, carrots, onions, scallions, red peppers and tofu. Minced fresh ginger and four cloves of garlic. First time I've ever made stir fry from scratch and it turned out excellent. (I've now made homemade lasagna and stir fry in The World's Smallest Kitchen, which is especially impressive given that I typically never cooked in our generously sized kitchen before.)

I thought Zoe would like it, and was pleasantly surprised when she loved it. Halfway through dinner she laid down her fork and said, "You made an awesome dinner, Mommy. Thank you!" I almost fell out of my chair. She even loved the tofu.

I also made mini cheese pizzas using a light English muffin (we each got a half) and light string cheese, which I peeled apart, striped on the muffin halves, and toasted. Finally, per Zo's request, we had fruit salad with fresh strawberries, blueberries and a banana.

It was a really healthy dinner that was also delicious. I am stuffed and yet have no guilt.

Hmmm. I could get used to this.

(Which might be necessary since M's travel schedule has kicked back up and I don't think it would be good for me to feed my daughter Raisin Bran every other night.)