Bakeries and Apple Orchards, 5/30

Today’s tour of Wisconsin began with a little drive out to Racine to visit the O&H Danish Bakery.  They are supposed to have the best kringle.  I have to take everyone’s word on that as I had never had a kringle before.  It was a small unassuming building, but there where treasures within!  It is amazing how with the most basic ingredients, such as flour and sugar, different cultures can make so many varieties of desserts and pastries.  There were some overlaps, the elephant ears look somewhat close to frybread and the kringle was basically coffee cake.  Much like almost every culture has its own flat bread – pita, tortillas, naan, etc., all start with flour but become something different.

Lovely little meringue shells, waiting to be filled with fruit or custard.

Seven Sisters Cake, flaky coffee cake filled with almond paste and custard.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Kringle, yum.

The nice older lady behind the counter gave each of the kids a chocolate chip cookie too.  After buying several varieties of kringle and way too many pastries we continued on our little adventure to Apple Holler.  It’s an apple orchard and family fun spot.  We were way too early for apple season, but when it is apple-picking time they allow you to pick your own apples.  Around that time they also serve a great warm apple cider, or so I hear from my nephew.  The grounds were pretty empty, but that gave us free reign throughout the park.  We ran through the corn maze, my little daughter got to chase a chicken, and we fed some goats.  Everyone had fun, even the adult males.  We had a late lunch at their restaurant, which had amazingly good food for a roadside tourist stop.  They bring fresh cornbread and apple butter to the table!  I had a pot roast sandwich with creamy horseradish on the side, my husband had the all you can eat fried chicken and fish.  My sandwich was so good that my four year old ate half of it and ignored her mac and cheese.  The skin on my husband’s chicken was crispy and the meat was so tender.  We left there with a jar of apple butter and some homemade caramels, I’m looking forward to cracking that jar open when we get home.

If there were more people in the park then I could have filled the vacant apple spot.

I believe my sister-in-law was being mocked by that white goat.

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Memorial Day and the day after in Wisconsin

Yesterday was our first full day in Wisconsin.  The kids and husband swam, the kids bounced on the trampoline and we ate grilled food.  It was a very good day.

Helllloooo Summer! 5/28

Snorkel

Today we visited a small local water park, Country Springs.  It’s part of a hotel and is indoors.  The kids had a wonderful time and everyone left exhausted, but with enough energy left to make smores in the backyard before bedtime.

Country Springs 5/29

Mother Goose 5/29

We saw these geese in a grassy area on the way back to the house tonight.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such young geese, by the time they fly south to our area the are pretty well grown.

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Summer Vacation – Wisconsin

We all slept extremely well in our hotel room. The beds weren’t like some of the more fluffy, ultra-soft, sleeping in a cloud beds that we may have had in other hotels, but they were comfortable and we were all exhausted. Hilton Express also offers free breakfast and for a bare bones hotel, they are not bad. This hotel had an automatic pancake maker, like something I would see on a Jetson’s cartoon, or a PeeWee Herman film. The kids were in awe and wanted one for the house, until they realized how long it took for one pancake to emerge. Then it started breaking down which caused great merriment amongst the family.

A pancake stingray!

A pancake tie!

We left our hotel to continue our trek to Wisconsin, with a quick side trip to the St. Louis Arch. My daughter is a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series of books written by Rick Riordan. The first book, The Lightning Thief, has the main character off on a series of adventures based off of Greek mythology. Trying to not give away too many spoilers here, one of his first stops is the St. Louis Arch where he meets up with Echidna. Not to be confused with Enchinada who, according to my son, is the god of spiciness and cheese.

Hey, this arch isn’t so big, or My Son the Giant.

It was a long, long drive, but we finally made it to Wisconsin. My husband drove the entire time because on long trips I get car-induced narcolepsy and my head will drop without notice. Thankfully I’m not a big drooler. The kids began the day fighting so as punishment we took away all their movies and games to show them how we had to travel as kids. They pouted, the oldest cried at losing her DS, but the interesting thing was that after a few minutes they were giggling and chatting. We kept the games and movies off for a couple hours and talked and laughed. We did give them back when it was time for the little one’s nap but it was food for thought. This morning they are splashing in the pool while I’m writing the post for yesterday and thoroughly enjoying themselves with their cousins. It is so beautiful and green, perfect except for the fear that a couple of these mosquitoes might carry off the four year old.

 

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Summer Vacation Pt 1

Yesterday we started the first leg of our first summer vacation. Traveling by car has become much more pleasant since we got the minivan three years ago. We have movies, books, and a couple toys to keep the kids busy. It still doesn’t decrease the number of times a four year old asks “are we almost there?”

20120527-071059.jpg We saw this old car and a bunch more like it outside a Ruby Tuesday in Springfield MO, it was some kind of rally and people were setting up chairs in anticipation for a parade. I bet this car doesn’t have air conditioning.

20120527-071314.jpg We spent the night at a Hilton Express, few frills but they have clean rooms and free breakfast, not to mention a pool open until 10 PM.

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A Month Passes in the Flash of an Instagram

How fast does a month go racing by?  End of the school year has us busy catching up on schoolwork and is filled with the usual school parties and awards.  The wonderful thing about the 366 Project is that when I input my pictures, it makes me remember EVERY day from the past month.  How often do we get the chance to look back on almost a full thirty days and be able to pull something from each day?  It also serves to remind just how quickly those days are gone, I thought in order to catch up to the current date that there would be a lot of drudging through pictures.  Instead, I was somewhat disappointed because the pictures ended too soon.  I had to go through each date to make sure that I did indeed include every day since the last post.

 

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A Jar Full of Stars

As a kid I was obsessed with anything that glowed in the dark.  I don’t know why, but I loved the bouncy balls, plastic bugs, nail polish, anything that glowed in the dark.  I didn’t have much of it, so maybe that’s why I was so obsessed, or maybe I was just a strange kid.  I found a craft project on Pinterest that had jars dotted with glow paints and had to try it.  After painting you can’t store food in it anymore, but they look cool.

“Charging” the jars with lights.  The first jar I used was a glass pickle jar, then I realized that glass jars probably are not the best plaything for three rowdy kids.  The other jars are plastic, a big peanut butter jar and I don’t remember what the other one held.  Just dot the inside of the jars with glow in dark paint, I found mine at Hobby Lobby.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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I told my ten year old  “Look what I did, it looks like I captured stars in a jar!” and she said “Yeah, as if you could really do that. Stars are too hot and they’d melt the jars.”  Yes, she popped my bubble a bit, but I still think they look super cool.

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On another note, this is the book that never ends.  Page 532 and I’m still waiting for something to happen.  This is the last book in the series and I feel like I have to finish this one, but it is so much drier than the other books.  Only 296 more pages.

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Saturday and beyond…

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Found this on a toy box, that horse looks like he’s eating her arm!  And why would you camp right there under your horse?  They don’t know how to tiptoe, what if it stepped on you?  Horses don’t care where they poop either.

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Sunday we let the kids loose on the boxes the piano was shipped in.  I have some plans for the largest box, but I try to intervene in their play as little as possible.  Have you seen the video about the boy in his cardboard box arcade?  I highly recommend it, Caine’s Arcade.  It has inspired many kids to create their own game arcades out of boxes.  I haven’t shown the movie to my kids yet, I wanted to see where their play would take them first.  So far it’s been a fort, a horse corral, and a house.  The larger box was an elevator, a cave, and a place to play with flashlights.

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These girls have been friends since they were little babies.  It’s fun seeing their personalities evolve.

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We introduced him to his first Choose Your Own Adventure book.  It was the quietest meal with him in attendance ever.  He read through the whole thing multiple times in one night then took the book to school with him the next morning.

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A day at the fair, Friday 4/10

Last Friday afternoon the elementary school had its annual fundraising fair.  We go every year and the kids have a lot of fun.  They look forward to it every year so at this point I don’t think skipping it would be an option.

Usually they have a climbing wall but this year it was a magnetic wall.  It sounds easy, but it actually look really difficult.  The kids were huffing and puffing after finally making it to the top, they have to coordinate their legs and arms as well as pull these powerful magnets off the wall to climb another step higher.

Who doesn’t love pony rides?!?  She’s a natural, once she decided that the ponies weren’t as scary as she used to think they were.   She was so scared of the horses and ponies at one time, which makes sense because they are large animals with big black eyes.  What didn’t make sense was the fact that my son never had any fear of ponies or elephants at the circus, yet he would scream in terror at the cute baby bunnies in the pet store.  Ferrets were okay, cats were fine, but soft fluffy baby bunnies…

Baby chicken in the petting zoo.  I have mixed feeling in regard to petting zoos, mainly this type of petting zoo.  I think kids like mine that are surrounded by suburbs need an opportunity to meet animals.  Too many kids are growing up without any connection to the animal world other than their dogs.  These zoos make me so nervous though because of the lack of attention from parents.  My four year old yelled at an older boy to stop running at the animals and scaring them.  One little girl was literally throwing a duck into a pail of water repeatedly.  Her grandma only stopped her when she started trying to throw the baby chicks, as in chickens, into the pail.  I don’t quite have the nerve that my mom had yet, she saw some buys throwing rocks at the geese in the pond.  She went up to them and asked how they would like it if she threw rocks at them, they probably thought my mom looked like she would too because they stopped pretty quickly.

A girl and her chicken.

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Picture and post catch up time, again.

Really, I have no excuse this time for being so far behind on posting my pictures.  I got over my illness and simply lost steam and wasn’t able to focus on my blog, that, and my husband introduced me to Reddit.  Now that is a big time suck.  I’ll start where I left off, last Monday, 4/16.  I made a white bean soup that turned out great, except that my beans were mostly cooked.  I thought I could get by with the same quick soak that I use with pinto beans, there were even instructions on the bag for the quick soak.  Next time I will soak overnight and hopefully I will avoid the odd bean that is still slightly crunchy.

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There are several steps to this soup, but it is easy.  I used kale for the leafy green, which I find to be unendurable in a smoothie but quite yummy in this soup.  The recipe also calls for only a 1/4 cup of tomato paste but I hate having those little cans floating around my fridge so I threw in the whole can and got a more tomato based soup.  You can find the recipe at the Nourishing Gourmet site.  It’s tasty, healthy, and easy on the wallet.  Kids didn’t love it the first time they had it, but it’s something I can see them enjoying as their palates get used to it.

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My daughter’s crooked pointer finger, only on one hand and she’s had that since birth.

 

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We finally invested in a digital piano.  No longer does she have to pretend to use a pedal when she practices, and she also now has a full 88 keys.

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I started this puzzle over Christmas break, then it sat on the table for a couple months.  I had to wipe some dust off before I started again.  I hope to finish this before summer break, main word in there is “hope.”  I already see a lot of progress from when I took this picture.

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Alone in a Crowd?

My husband is Catholic, I am not. My parents are both ex-Catholics with varying degrees of dislike towards the church. My mom sometimes misses the tradition of it, going to midnight mass and Easter service, but doesn’t feel comfortable with religious politics. My dad was just bitter. I was never baptized and neither was my sister, but that didn’t mean that I never prayed to God in times that seemed desperate – “Please God, don’t let the attendance dean call the house tonight,” or some such thing. I was more covering my bases than actually praying to a specific higher being. As we were becoming more serious as a couple I explained to my husband that I may never convert, but I would not stand in the way of him teaching any children we may have his religion. Now days I will sometimes go to church with them, every Christmas I go, and most Easters. I actually just missed my first Easter service since being with my husband, but he encouraged me to sleep in that day. Later that day my son came up to me and we had the following conversation,

“Why don’t you go to church mom?”

“I am not Catholic, you guys are. I was never even baptized.”

“You weren’t baptized?!?!?” He was pretty shocked about that.

“Nope.”

He thought on it for a moment. “So because you weren’t baptized, then it’s like you’re alone in this community. You are surrounded by people in church, but you’re not like them because you aren’t Catholic or baptized so you’re with a lot of people in the building but not part of them. You’re sitting alone.”

Up to this point I had been doing other stuff while talking to him, but I had to put it down as I was floored by his perfect understanding. I looked him in the eye and told him that was a brilliant observation and great thinking on his part. We tend to only half listen to our kids, and it’s understandable because there is a lot to do in a day, and I can only give my full attention to so many knock-knock jokes before going batty. But moments like this remind me that between his beloved fart and fecal jokes, he does have a beautiful working mind.

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