Wednesday, April 23, 2014

photo dump: happenings

big wheelin' // enjoying the spring weather // april 2014

the playground at ben's school is a favorite of emilia's // april 2014

over spring break, we headed to a waterpark resort with a bunch of friends for a few days // this is what my [quiet] car ride home looked like // march 2014

easter baskets //  april 2014

coloring eggs // april 2014

all the kids scattering after baseball practice // april 2014

my [easter] loves // enjoying the beautiful day // april 2014

ben taking note at my father in law's family garden // we are headed back over on sunday to start planting this year's harvest // april 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


i hate the word busy.  it is one of the words that means something different for the person who uses it.  it can trivial or significant.  it's been used over and over for an easy out (i'm totally guilty of it).  it's so easy to say "sorry, i'm busy."

but that is really the only word i can use to describe our lives right now.  i would rather use words/phrases like thriving, bustling, or happening to describe our lives.  it sounds so much more fun to say we're knee-deep in activities.  or we are bee-bopping and buzzing around.  but normally, i just say busy.  everyone says busy.  

swimming lesson for both ben & emilia, baseball, teeball, dance & the dance recital, school, preschool graduation, travel, scouting events, work, daily tasks, last minute get togethers with family & friends...the list could go on.  and on.

i cringe looking at our calendar for the next month.  jam packed.  the upside?  it's all fun things.  so much fun to be had this next month and beyond.

we are going to blink our eyes and it will be the end of may and we will be counting down the days until school is out for the summer.  who am i kidding, i am already counting the days.  we are ready for lazy days at the pool! 

our days are flying by at warp speed.  in between all craziness and back & forth around town, i thank my lucky stars we are able to do all this as well enjoy the moments together.

and just like ferris said..."life moves pretty fast.  if you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

Monday, March 24, 2014

harvesting honey

my father-in-law keeps bees.  it has been a hobby of his for almost a handful of years.  i believe he started when emilia was two.

bees produce honey.  my father-in-law harvests that honey.

over the weekend, my in laws watched the kids while we out for our bowling league.  a week earlier, after we asked for them to watch the kids, my father-in-law asked if ben would be interested in helping him harvest the honey.

one thing to know about ben is that he is a worker bee.  give him a job or a chore with a little direction of what needs to be done and he's off.  he loves to help and be apart of any job.

ben jumped on the chance to help with the honey.

late saturday afternoon, we dropped the kids off.  no time was wasted; ben and his grandpa jumped right in.  the frames were previously removed from the hive so there were no angry bees.  no hi-tech tools are necessary and the two set off with a scraper and removed the honey & the wax from the frames.

i have never seen anything like it; watching them scrap the honey was awesome.  we even snuck a taste of the honey.  DELICIOUS.  smooth & sweet.

the boys did not finish all their frames.  ben will likely go back next weekend to help scrape some more frames.

now that the honey has been scraped off the frame it will need to be extracted which my father-in-law will do.  once it's been extracted he will bottle it and we will all enjoy the delicious, fresh and local honey!

when we picked the kids up, there were 3 contains of {raw} honeycomb waiting for us.  i am looking forward to having some with a granny smith apple or have a wine & cheese night and serve the honeycomb with some great cheeses.


this will without a doubt be a memory forever burned into ben's brain.  not many people are able to say that at some point in their life they've harvested honey.  ben can and that is amazing.

Friday, March 21, 2014

enchanted chorus: salt

ben // salt shaker - beauty & the beast, jr. // march 15, 2014

one of the roles ben had in the play was a salt shaker which was apart of the enchanted chorus.  the salt (& his parter, pepper) came out during be our guest along with all the dishes and other enchanted items in the beast's castle.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

ben: our thespian

just after the new year, ben started rehearsals for the latest play production through our park district.  beauty and the the beast jr.  ben had four roles - villager, enchanted chorus, wolf, and monsieur d'arque.

ben has worked hard both at bi-weekly rehearsals and at home.  he practiced and practiced and practiced.  he has enjoyed his time with this production.  due to pre-scheduled school activities, all of the kids who attend his school were also in his cast.  because of the demand, this production was divided into two {50 kid} casts.

last friday was opening weekend.  friends and family came out both friday and saturday night to see ben in his performance.

his performance and the entire production was fantastic.  ben had quite a few speaking lines and while i missed them friday (parents are required to volunteer during a performance), i was able to see the play in it's entirety on saturday.  i was so proud of him.  still am.


each night following the play we had little celebrations.  following friday's performance, we headed to a local restaurant and had some of his favorites.  after saturday's play, we went with friends and fellow cast members to oberweis.  sunday we celebrated with family for a st. patty's day dinner and portillo's chocolate cake (this one was a tough decision for ben!  at one point i think he thought of every dessert under the sun!).

this weekend the other cast has their performance and then both casts will have their cast parties.  another celebration for a job well done.  these kids deserve every ounce of it!

auditions for the summer production are in may, i believe.  ben has expressed that he would like to be apart of this production as well.  the summer play will be into the woods jr.  emilia is eligible to be apart of this production to but because it's not a full princess production she has decided to pass and waiting to see what winter 2015 holds.  

congrats to our budding thespian.  you had a great weekend performing and we couldn't be more proud of you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

sautéed spinach


i enjoy cooking.  i do it almost every night for my family.  i do not create recipes on my own.  i wish i had that ability to mix & create flavors but i certainly don't.

over the years, i have found many wonderful recipes via cookbooks, magazines, family & friends, tv shows, blogs and pinterest (more blogs & websites).  

dan and i enjoy spinach.  if we make a salad it will more than likely be a spinach salad.  recently we've made the switch from spinach salads to sautéed spinach.  for whatever reason, i've always been intimidated to make it.  i turned to the one and only martha stewart for a sautéed spinach recipe.  i figured if anyone had a good recipe it was her.  as usual, she came through.  

this is quite possibly the easiest recipe ever.  i can't believe i've never attempted to make it before.  it is also so delicious.  we've been making it almost nightly.  it's so good that even ben is enjoying.  emilia steers clear of veggies.  it's letter "v" week at school and when she was asked by her teachers to paste the veggies she likes is the "good" column, she laughed and didn't have any.  oh my girl...

here's the recipe:

sautéed spinach with garlic and lemon from martha stewart (adapted to my family's liking/tastes)

2T olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled & smashed
3-4 bunches (2 1/2 pounds) spinach
1-2 T lemon juice - i only do a splash.  ben likes a little more, he likes the pungent taste of lemon juice
salt & pepper

heat olive oil in skillet.  add garlic - stir & cook until fragrant & starting to brown.  remove garlic.  add spinach, gradually.  toss until tender - approx 3-4 minutes.  add splash of lemon juice and sprinkle with salt & pepper.


thanks martha!  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

connected together


we're big sleepers in this house.  ben and emilia are at that grown-up point that we all sleep in on the weekends.  by sleep in, i mean we sleep later than 7:30...sometimes until 9:00 am.  it's glorious.  so glorious.

sometimes we let the kids start out their night in our bed.  they each usually bring a pillow, a guy (what we call stuffed animals), and sometimes another small item (blanket) or guy.  the agreement is that they are moved back to their beds when we go to bed.  

sure it seems like a lot of hassle that once we head up, the kids have to still be moved, but honestly, it's so easy.  we move their items back and then grab a kid.  ben wakes up a little bit as he has to climb the stairs into his bunk.  emilia doesn't even flinch.  she's a heavy sleeper.  the whole process takes less than 2 minutes.  

the two shots above were taken the other night when it was time to move the kids back to their room.  i love seeing them together.  they each start on their respective side(s); however, by the time we get to them they are in the middle of the bed.  i've seen emilia with her arm around ben and i've seen him holding her hand.  this night she was holding his hand.  

no matter how many times ben gets annoyed by her or emilia gets mad at him for not listening - they always come back together.  as much as they each want our undivided attention - they always come back together.  couple their hand holding with them saying good night and i love you each and every night and quite frankly i'm dead.  

somehow they're connected - literally and figuratively.  always connected.