Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reading update

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Some friends and I are starting a book club so let me know if you want in on it (and are someone I know and aren't just a creepy online stalker type).  I just finished The Night Circus.  I don't want to influence anyone so I won't tell you much about what I thought of it other than it was a good read but I didn't enjoy the ending.  Jeanne, I'm not sure if you'll like it or not.  It had some non-realistic fantasty elements that I don't know if you would enjoy.

This will be the next book I read.  Yes, I know it was a movie but I didn't watch it.  I'm a little worried that it will be too graphic for me because I generally don't enjoy novels about children that are murdered/raped/molested/anything else crappy like that.  I hear the "bad scenes" are tasteful.  We'll see how it goes, though.

Let me know if you have any other good reads for me.  I'll tell you up front that I don't really like Jodi Picoult (excessive cognitive dissonance) or Nicholas Sparks (feels like he tries to jerk your emotions around in a weird, artificial way) or VC Andrews (too incesty).  I'm not a big chick lit person either but I can do it sometimes.  I enjoy the Stephanie Plum series but I would say this is the exception and not the rule.  My friend, Kortney, suggested The Shack a while ago which I still haven't read yet but it's on my mental to-read list.

**Update.  I finished the book.  I fast-forwarded thru the bad stuff but still found it to be a generally depressing read similiar to The Deep End of the Ocean.  I need to develop a rating system...I'll put that on my trophy wife to-do list.  I'd say I'd recommend the book but only if you want to eat ho-ho's and listen to Tori Amos for the next couple days.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It felt a little wrong...

In case no one has picked up on this, I'm a mean parent. 

I make my kids do chores around the house, pick up after themselves, etc.  There's no lounging around the house until noon unless I'm the one that does it.  I also have a rule of no media from 9-5 during the summer.  This means they know that they don't even ask me if they can watch a movie, TV, play computer, use the DS, etc.  All they have to do is look at the clock.  If the clock says it's time for media, then they can.  If not, they have to find something else to do (read, puzzles, play outside, games, etc).  I even convinced my neighbor this was a good idea (high 5's exchanged behind the kids' backs). 

About 1/2way thru the summer, I decided it would be a good idea if I let the kids start doing some cleaning.  We started with the bathrooms.

Yes, he really was this happy.

Please ignore the Barbie spa sitting next to the toilet.  It's a tub toy that got pushed over there while mopping the floor.
I felt a little bad making the kids clean the toilets and mop the floors so I told them I would give them a little extra media time.  I told them they would get an extra 5 minutes (so they could turn on the TV at 4:55).  I assumed there would be whining and crying that this was not enough time so I expected some negotiating to occur and that I would eventually settle on 15 minutes for both bathrooms to be done.  I must keep their expectations low because when I told them they could have an extra 5 minutes of media, they both immediately went into chore mode with no arguments.

If only they were tall enough to get in the sink to do dishes...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


We did a little white water rafting while in New York.  We went with about 50 other people and a few tour guides.  The kids LOVED it.  Aron and I enjoyed it quite a bit but it was a bit more labor intensive for us (aka the kids didn't want to paddle so we did all the work).  The river was class 2 at most (really tame) but the views were outstanding.  We got there at 10 AM and were back to the car at 3:30. 
Are we sure about this?

Sorry, Ella, we missed most of you in the pic.

View from the raft.

Later in our trip, we hiked along the top of the gorge.

Tough little paddler.

Gorgeous views like this the whole 6 miles down the river.

The kids swimming in their life jackets.
 About 3/4 the way through the trip, we made a pit stop and short hike to one of the parks waterfalls that were accessible only by the river.  You were allowed to slide down this little section of rock so the kids did.

The waterfall is to the left in this picture.  The water from the falls carved out this little pool.  You were allowed to jump into the pool as long as you kept your life jacket on.  It was 7 or so feet deep.  This is Luke.

And this is Ella.

This is Ella, too, on her way back up from the bottom.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aron's Pet Project

Aron read in a magazine that you can grow root vegetables in pots.  He thought this sounded like a fun idea so he gave it a whirl with carrots. 

See the planters in the back behind the flowers?  Those are carrots.

Sneaky, huh?

He's got plans for a bigger and better grouping of planters next year.
Think radishes and turnips along with the carrots.

Blog Book Club

Dear Blog Readers,
I would really like to belong to a book club.  *Sigh*  Since I don't belong in a club, I'll force my reading on you. 

Since I'm finding myself with more time on my hands, I'm hoping to get back to reading more.  My new occupation allows me to be like a kid in a candy alcoholic in a liquor store...a strawberry in a crack house (choose whichever euphamism you enjoy most.  I won't tell you which one I like the best although I think you can probably guess)...
Don't actually click to look inside...I stole the pic from Amazon.  Click this link instead.
This will be my first selection for myself.  If you wanna get crazy and read it, too, I'll love you forever.  

Ok, maybe I won't love you forever, but I'll like you long enough to discuss the book then immediately forget your name.  That's about as good as you'll get from me so I'd take it.

The Strawberry

Back To School Time!

It's back to school time at our house.  Which means I made them to do this...

...and this...

 ...which made me this...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I think I'm over camping for a while...

We've gone camping for the last few years on vacation.  I'm starting to enjoy it more than I used to but I still can't say camping is my favorite thing to do (sorry, Aron).  It rained quite a bit of the camping portion of the trip which didn't increase my love for camping.  There may or may not have been a large chunk of time during the downpours that I locked myself in the car and tried desperately to get some signal on my phone while I tried not to cry about wanting to be dry for just 10 damn minutes. 

Moving on...

For documentational purposes, this will forever be known as the trip that Luke invented the marshmallow sandwich.  This is a toasted marshmallow with the middle part taken out, a piece of chocolate stuffed in the marshmallow, then put the middle part of the marshmallow back on top of the chocolate.

However, when camping I do enjoy the fact that wherever we go tends to have minimal electronic distractions (for both me and the kids) which makes for some family fun time.  See also below :)

He's double fisting hot dogs but they're hidden in his hands.

Only one hot dog here folded up in his mouth. 
Yes, this is a different one than the two in the previous pic.

Nice and toasty.

I think she ate 1/2 a bag of marshmallows by herself.

Mr Hot and Spicy

These two sat like this for hours.

Our lovely camp site.  This was probably only half of it.  It was huge!

Shadow puppets.  Or in this case, Luke (on the right) exercising his 2nd amendment rights
 on Ella's shadow bunny.

Random cute pix from vacation

Letchworth State Park

Here are your obligatory pictures of the beautiful park that we went to, Letchworth State Park.  We hiked, rafted, and camped all within the park.  We did some white water rafting (just category 2 which was plenty for the kiddos) in the Genessee River which is seen in the pictures below.  Pics of that to follow once I pick the CD up from Walmart (we bought a disposable water-proof camera for that part of the trip).  Hopefully, we have at least one or two that turn out well enough that I can post them.

Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 Vacation: Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives edition and original Buffalo wing

Aron and I like to eat at non-chain restaurants especially when traveling.  I feel so sad when someone tells me that they've traveled to another city, state, country and tell me about how they dined at another TGIFridays (no offense to the lovely folks at this fine establishment...I'm just using you as an example).  Why would you travel to eat the same food that's available to you every day at home??  Doesn't make sense to this girl.  However, to try a different restaurant can be a roll of the dice...sometimes you win, sometimes you end up with food poisoning from eating the lobster pie that sounded like a good idea at that restaurant in Maine that looked so great and end up in the hotel crying and wishing that you were dead.  C'est la vie. 

Luckily when I consulted this site, there were plenty of options of where to go thanks to Guy Fieri (Luke's hero) and his show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  We picked two of his selections and the third I picked just for fun.


First stop: Geraci's in University Heights (Cleveland)  If you click my
Geraci's link, you can watch the segment with Guy.

Yummers.  This was probably the best item we ordered: spaghetti with a homemade meat sauce. We also got a small pepperoni pizza for the kids to share, and an order of gnocci.

Happy boy who was able to steal from everyone's plates.

Double fisting the root beer.  We don't let the kids have soda very often
so we usually let them have it on vacation.  Ella didn't want this hot commodity
to go to waste before we left.
 Anchor Bar
This is the Anchor Bar which claims it is the home to the original
buffalo chicken wing. 

Please notice the fry in the bleu cheese.  Luke said "Look!  That fry's taking a dip in your pool, Mommy!"
These were pretty tasty.  I got the medium wings which I think were more mild in flavor.  If I were to go there again, I would order the hot ones instead.  I also got a salad which at $5 was way overpriced for iceburg, some chickpeas, croutons, and a couple tomatoes (yes, literally this was all the salad consisted of).  This was my only complaint about the restaurant.
3rd stop: Grover's of East Amherst NY (click this link to watch the video about the restaurant).  This used to be Grover Cleveland's old hunting lodge.
It's weird to think that it used to be out in the middle of nowhere when it's now smack in the middle of
Buffalo suburbia.

They're known for their burgers so Aron and I split one (there's half in the background)
and the kiddos had pizza sticks which seem to be a western NY thing because they were at both Anchor Bar and Grover's.  I'd say they were like a cheese stick with pepperoni enclosed with a wonton wrapper and served with pizza sauce.

I'm not sure which place I would say was my favorite because I liked them all in different ways.