Friday, August 31, 2012 indulge

...again in this amazing dessert

Because there was left-overs from last night.

We had an old Army friend of Mark's over for dinner last night.

And for many reasons I needed a super quick dessert to serve after dinner.

I dug into my old recipe cache for a few ideas and was reminded of this treasure given to me by my friend Amy Holden, a friend from our time at both the Air Force Academy and Fort Campbell.

This is what I well Isabella made yesterday afternoon:

oh. my.

My very helpful daughter:

crushed a package of Oreo cookies
and added a stick of melted butter.
She pressed this mixture into a squarish pan,
spread a gallon of soft ice-cream over the crust,
and let this mixture freeze for a while
Then she poured nearly a full jar of hot fudge on top,
and re-froze this deliciousness.

As you can imagine the peanut galley gave this recipe a full eight thumbs up!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 an attend a school open house...

...for Abbey!

She is getting ready for Pre-K!

She was so excited this morning that she came down the stairs all dressed and ready to go!

She announced,  "White pants, white shirt and white undies!  (each item was said successfully louder) Because Mrs. Steele probably likes white!"

Too bad the event didn't start until 1:00 in the afternoon.

It was a simple event.  Really it was more of an opportunity for returning students to bring in their school supplies and to see the changes in the room that Mrs. Steele had made.  But Abbey LOVED it!

And took her first project very seriously:

While sitting next to her best buddy:

Her only disappointments for the day were:
  • I took her instead of Ms. Amy.
  • I stayed with her while she was in class today.
  • I didn't let her stay all day.
  • I am not letting her go to school five days a week.
Do I see a trend with respect to her frustrations?

No matter.  I don't want her to be in school five days yet.

It warms my heart to see her: get so excited about going to school, try to make a good impression on her teacher, get prepared all by herself...  

Pre-K is going to be a great year for her filled with projects, friends, music, story-time and so many other things.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 go rollerskating

...and what fun it was!

I am quite certain I have not been on roller skates since I was in junior high.  And let's just say that even back then I wasn't tearing up the rink.

Having said that, what few skating skills I had, I managed to preserve them over the years.  Maybe rollerskating is like riding a bike...once you know how, you never forget?

Not only was it fun but it was great exercise!

I was a little nervous about taking the little girls since neither of them have ever been on skates.  Thankfully the skating rink had these gates...

These awesome inventions are amazing!

Honestly, they made the afternoon such a fun family activity.  

The girls even got to participate in the races!  A heat just for 2-5 year olds!

Luke was the winner!  That kid was blazing around the track and I am pretty sure I never saw that child take a break.  Abbey did her best to keep up with him though!  

Little P was the most clever of these preschoolers...I am not sure that little man ever put his skates on the track!  He was very happy to have his momma push him around for the afternoon!

We were entertained by more races...

limbo contests...

riding the train...

and of course the chicken dance.

Lots of smiling, sweaty kids this afternoon...

And only a few scowls...

I would say this was a pretty successful afternoon.

The kids can't wait to take Mark.  I am sure he can't wait either!

Although if he is guaranteed a face of joy like this...I would he would be in.

a hot mess!

Monday, August 27, 2012 mark a special anniversary for the kids and I

...of our arrival at Fort Drum.

The day has come and gone without any special accolades.

I didn't receive any flowers.

No one brought us any gifts.

No one even congratulated us.

In short, no one marked this achievement.

For that I am thankful.

Because that means that this place is our home.

That means:
  • We aren't the new family in the neighborhood.
  • We have explored many of the fun activities around.
  • I am familiar with the names of all of the nearby little towns and have been to most of them
  • Newcomers now ask me for directions (scary isn't it?)
  • Isabella isn't counting the days that have passed since she has last seen her best friend.
  • The little girls aren't missing their old rooms.
  • I am not mourning not having my favorite little coffee shop nearby (I make my own now.)
  • Will isn't...well he was always excited to start this new adventure!

Don't get me wrong, we still talk nearly every day about something or someone we are thinking about from West Point.

We especially think of our dearest friends that helped us to make this transition.

But we have found our niche here.

We have participated in soccer leagues and art classes.  The kids have done gymnastics and dance.  We've done scouts and been in local parades.  We go to church and mingle with the neighbors.   

Most importantly...we have made friends.  

Friends who will make saying goodbye when we leave here, just as difficult as it was one year ago.

We have made our way here at Fort Drum.  

This day didn't require any pomp and circumstance.

Because life is normal here up in the Great White North.

For that I am thankful.

Sunday, August 26, 2012 recap the highlights

...of the weekend.

Yesterday Mark braved a back-to-school-BINGO event with over 200 kids on post yesterday.  He thoughtfully took the big kids and two of Amy's kids to enjoy TEN games of BINGO.

I think his word of choice to describe the event was F-U-N.  Although he may have used a few other adjectives...

Each child that went to the event received a free backpack with some school supplies.  The backpacks were a little plain so the big kids went to work decorating them.

Here is Isabella's awesome finished project!

The little girls did another project that was set up far away from their big sister and brother...

AND for the biggest news of the weekend...

someone learned how to ride to their bike without training wheels yesterday!

Friday, August 24, 2012 enjoy a relaxing...

...last day of hot summer fun, day-at-the-beach.

With five moms and 16 children.

most of the crew
Amy and I had a vision of the five-of-us moms relaxing on the beach, drinking our Coke Zeros whilst our cherubs frolicked in the lake.


Her text to me last night went something like:  "With this many kids, us momma's will have plenty of time to visit".

Don't they look sweet?

I think the lifeguards were just-one-more emergency away from asking us to leave.

Us, as in our entire party.


For. Real.

We had to have the swimming area evacuated on our account.  Not only once, but twice.

Really...Can't make it up.

And when I tell you, these were gut-wrenching, tears-streaming (from us mommas), oh-my-where-is-this-child emergencies I am not exaggerating.

The first little man (3 years old) got lost almost as soon as we arrived.  All the children had begun to play in the water.  The last time we saw him; he was out in the water.  Way out in the water.  He was playing with all of the children and then, all of a sudden, he wasn't.  He had decided to head back to the parking lot to go and get his floaty.

His mom was a rock-star.  Calm, collected, though certainly rattled.  And now so thankful.

The second little one (2.5 years old) was playing with several others at the playground.  Three adults were there watching them while they played.  However, it was a large playground with several blind spots.  The concession/bathroom building was nearby.  And of course, so was that lake.  We imagined all kinds of atrocities in the FIFTEEN minutes she was missing.  She could have gone anywhere.  Someone could have taken her.  She had wandered a half-mile down the beach to another group of children building a 'pool' similar to the one our children were working on.

Both times our prayers were answered.  The little ones are safe.

We can now laugh about the craziness of the day...

The day was a success.  Most of the kids were unaware of the stress.

They did get to play in the sand,

make amazing sand pools,

and bob in the water.

While we mommas came away slightly sunburned and sand-covered...and appreciating the safety of our sleeping little ones even more this evening.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 make an underwater terrarium


What is that?  I actually didn't really know either until I thought of the idea for one.

Every since Meghan brought me this, full of little bits of West Point, I have loved terrariums.

Little bits of stuff.  Little pieces of memories.

My idea for an underwater aquarium came from


Petoskey stones

and this:

an old lantern
Both are treasures from our trip to Michigan.

Isabella retrieved the lantern from my Grandma Viele's basement and Aunt Jean gave the kids each some special Petoskey stones that she had found along the beach up in Petoskey, Michigan (of course).  

In case you were wondering, and want the cliff-note-version, Petoskey stones are fossils (of coral) from a super long time ago; say 350 million years ago.  AND you can only really see the fossils if the stones are wet (like in the photo above) or polished.

I wanted to keep these stones in their original state but I wanted to display how pretty they are.  They needed to remain in water.

This is where I got my idea for some type of underwater terrarium.

Isabella really loved the little lantern she found for me as well.  And I decided I wanted to incorporate the two.  

I was much happier with it after a coat of spray paint...

All that was missing was some type of moss or plant.  After a little bit of searching on the internet the lowest maintenance requiring type of plant life I found is called Marimo moss.  I ordered two large balls of this moss for less than $15 total from a vendor on Etsy.  

Marimo moss
Now fast forward to our trip to VT this weekend.  And we found several more special treasures to add to our project:

several pieces of sea glass and a very small bottle
The result is a collage of many of our little memories from this summer.

sea glass-little pieces of color
The kids enjoy looking at this...and #4, our future geologist, is especially impressed that 'her' rock-collection has a such a special place in our home.


Monday, August 20, 2012 share our pictures from VT

...we couldn't have asked for a more storybook weekend!

 Who knew Vermont was this amazing?

We took a last minute trip with Jason and Lisa to Lake Champlain for the weekend.  I found a little farm house that was about half the distance to Boston and our two families were able to spend an incredibly relaxing few days together.

Beautiful family.  Beautiful day.

The farmhouse was a perfect spot with plenty of room for us.

The cousins.
We drank plenty of coffee and ate picture-perfect breakfasts overlooking the lake.

Our host, Jackie was more than gracious.  She made us feel so welcome.  She even gave the kids (big kids too) rides on the cart with the pony!

We played in the sand:

it was a bit chilly.

Went swimming (on the same chilly day Jason and Mark were very tolerant!):

Had water fights:

Found bugs:

And played plenty of catch!

The most special moments especially for Isabella was time spent with the animals on the farm.

Jackie gave her so many jobs to do.  Feeding, raking, mucking...she loved every moment.  

Two sisters and two brothers
We all loved watching Buster hop up on Junior's back.

Even Abbey felt so grown-up with her responsibilities on the Farm.

We even were able to have a campfire on the beach.

I loved this weekend filled with quality family moments.  

As we were heading back up to the house last night, looking up at the amazingly bright stars and talking about our campfire Isabella said,

"It kinda makes my heart feel all warm.  Like it is all swelled up.  Doesn't it?"

It sure does little one.  Sure does.

Friday, August 17, 2012

...begin packing

...for an impromptu trip to Vermont!

Mark has a long weekend this weekend and we are trying to take advantage of this family time before he leaves again next month.

We are super excited to be headed to Lake Champlain for the weekend to meet my brother-in-law, his wife, and my lil' nephew.  We found a rental right on the lake that is big enough to accommodate all of us!

So, in a frenzy, I have begun packing.

And of course baking...because that is what I do when things get crazy.  I add a little more chaos.

Mark's unit has a 'family day' today with several kid friendly activities, a picnic, some team sports, and a pie contest.

Of course I had to enter that...

chocolate cream and lemon meringue

the chocolate cream didn't make it in the contest; we dug into that one.
We've had several new neighbors move in and I decided to bring them some cookies (and make some for our trip):

And of course we needed dinner for the evening:

spaghetti meat sauce

I also made spicy chicken for dinner this weekend and egg salad for lunches.  

I suppose now I should really start packing that is after I put in this last load of laundry.