Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I Spy Anniversary Date

It's hard to believe, but yesterday was our 18th wedding anniversary. Some days it feels as if I've known my husband all my life... and other days I could swear we just met the other day. But every single day is an adventure, and it's one we're both glad to be enjoying together.

To celebrate, we decided to have another "Family Date Day" since everyone enjoyed our day LAST YEAR so much. This year our theme was I Spy. I originally saw the idea HERE on The Dating Divas, but of course I just HAD to put our own spin on things.
My husband gave the original book to me as a Christmas surprise the year before we were married, and we picked the rest up as they were released. These books have been a special part of our lives. They traveled with us while we toured with 90 teens in our early marriage. They were with us at the hospital as "distractions" during the births of both our children. Our children colored on the pages as toddlers, and we've all gone cross-eyed trying to find the last thing in a rhyme we've completed dozens of times before. The spines are broken and a few pages have come loose, but we don't have the heart to replace these books. They've become "real" to us just the way they are.

For our special day, rather than deciding to eat out we chose to create a rhyme and shop at Trader Joe's for fun treats. Our rhyme was: 

I spy something crunchy, a deep dark brown, and something sweet.
Four fizzy goodies, something round and substitute meat.
 A creamy surprise, and something quite hot.
Something that's raw, and something that's not.

 The Something hot turned out to be a stop on the way, at a tiny local coffeehouse we'd been meaning to try for quite some time that serves Ethiopian coffee. The girls had chai, and the boys each enjoyed fresh mochas. Once at the store, we all had fun running around and considering options for each of the items on our list. We ended up with: 

something crunchy - sour cream & onion corn puffs
a deep dark brown -Irish breakfast tea (I'm rather addicted & we were out anyway)
something sweet - dark chocolate peanut butter cups
four fizzy goodies - Hansen's root beer
something round - smoked gouda cheese slices
substitute meat - eggs (needed for the brownies)
a creamy surprise - roasted red pepper tomato soup
something quite hot - a brownie baking mix
something that's raw - heirloom tomatoes
and something that's not - hamburger buns

The kids LOVED this, and asked if we could do this again... this was definitely a repeat idea for when we have no idea what to do for dinner. It was cheaper than eating out, MUCH healthier... AND a ton of fun!

After our shopping trip, we headed to the art museum for another I Spy adventure. We had a list of things to look for, and it took us two hours to find our favorite art display with each of the following: 

a bowl
a happy person (This is HARD at an art museum! Everyone was scowling!)
a city
the sun
a tool
an angel
a window
a pet
a book
a family
someone working
someone important
the color blue
fancy clothing
a chair
a mountain
a mother
a boat
people in battle
a farmer
a table
an animal
a house
a child
a circle
and jewelry.

We brought the camera with, so we could look up and study some of our favorite "unknown" artists at a later date. Here are our favorite images from our hunt. 

Jade Mountain, (artist unknown) the largest piece of carved jade outside of China, our "mountain" and Blessing of the Tuna Fleet at Groix, (by Paul Signac) one of two paintings we chose for "a boat." These were my son's favorites. 

 Landscape with Cattle and Sheep, (by Constant Emile Troyon) our "farmer" and The Comtesse d'Egmont Pignatelli in Spanish Costume, (by Alexander Roslin) our "pet" were my daughter's favorites. 

My husband was very intrigued by a Platform Rocking Chair by Wenzel Friedrich, and I could have sat all day staring at A New Orchard and Garden by William Lawson; a book about 17th century English garden designs. 

When we had worn our feet (and knees) completely out, we headed back home for lunch.... Gouda grilled cheese sandwiches with heirloom tomatoes & root beer. Then we played the Wii game Ultimate I Spy together, and finished the evening by watching Mission Impossible while munching on warm-from-the-oven brownies, and tea.

We had a TON of fun together. the kids loved the treasure hunting, and my husband & I loved how we had a great day without breaking the bank. This is one of those dates that just might need to be repeated in the near future.

I love being married to a man whose not to old to play with me.... or our kids. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Beaten by a little white snow

Have you ever had a day, where your good intentions just weren't good enough? Where nothing seems to work quite the way you planned?

What do you do? Where do you turn for inspiration? How do you keep from flopping on the floor in a full-fledged tantrum?

Today I thought I would help my husband out. We have about 5 inches of new snow, and my husband has been getting home late all week due to having been sick for so long. So I thought I would shovel the driveway for him.

Reality #1 - DH has a bad back, and bad shoulders. Shoveling hurts him. A lot.

Reality #2 - I was diagnosed with arthritis when I was 12. Most winter activities hurt. A lot.

Reality #3 - We promised my parents we would help shovel them out... meaning that if my husband has to shovel our driveway and THEN drive out to do theirs, he would not be home for the night until late. VERY late.

Knowing all these to be true, I bundled up and headed outdoors to tackle the driveway. We have a snow-thrower, which is not as powerful or awe-striking as a snowblower, but seems to get the job done alright for my husband. I hauled it out of the shed, and began trying to get it to start. I pushed the button, turned the key, flipped the choke, and pulled on that pull-cord until I was hyperventilating. I even thought many creatively disparaging thoughts in it's general direction, but nothing worked. Here is how the rest of my afternoon has gone.

Humility: having to ask your kid to pull the start-cord on the snowthrower.

(15 minutes later) 

Frustration: realizing he can't start it either, and the driveway's gonna be buried under 6" when your husband gets home.

(briefly contemplated) Vindication: knowing where a 6# sledgehammer/axe is, and how to use it.

Inspiration: unearthing the shovel, and finding that the snow isn't TOO heavy.

(30 minutes later) 

Humility: learning that you are not Wonder Woman, and despite the fact that your driveway is VERY short... you're gonna have to go back after a break to finish shoveling the other half.

(2 hours later)

Resignation: That point at which you realize you have two options; give up on the driveway, or forfeit the ability to walk upright for the next few days.
 Here is my snowthrower. At the bottom of the steps, because it stuck fast to the driveway in two hours' time. I cannot move it, so it sits there taunting me. It will still be there when my husband gets home, blocking his entry into the house and broadcasting my failure to him. You can see the driveway... roughly 2/3 shoveled, with icy patches galore. It is not a pretty sight, and I am feeling more than a little frustrated that something as simple as clearing a driveway is apparently beyond my capabilities.

I think a little bribery may ensue... I wonder if my kids would finish the driveway, for an extra half-hour of gaming time this evening?

Nope, I'm not above bribery. Nor am I ashamed of this fact.

In the meantime, I think there's a mug of tea & a warm blanket calling my name.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

We have been battling back-to-back bouts of stomach & regular flu here, and have not been up to much of anything lately. Hence my lack of Monday posts, and hence the reason I am only now posting photos of our Valentine's Day decorations.

I had several plans for tiny new decorations, but when taking my husband to the doctor forces me to take a three-hour nap, plans change. So this year our decorations are pretty much the same as last year... just arranged differently. I do like how everything turned out though!

Our front door, feather tree and kitchen-niche are nearly identical to last year. You can see those decorations HERE.

For the fireplace, my paper hearts from last year didn't survive, so I cut out felted wool hearts and clipped them to the mini clothespins I used for our Winter display. And rather than place ALL our stuffed hearts on the hearth, I chose just one to place near our little deer.

On my little sewing table I chose to stick with a sewing theme. The tiny glittered Valentines were saved from my feather tree last year, and I've had the buttons & antique thread spools for decades.
For our chandelier, my husband really liked the hanging globes I used for New Years, and used a few of my decorations from previous years to round things out. You can also see the little mailboxes on my hutch... the hutch is similar to last year as well, but I DID make just a few changes.

Last year I placed a miniature Care Bear from my childhood on our hutch, and my daughter thought it was the cutest decoration. So I hunted the thrift stores, and managed to find two more for this year. And I stacked our stuffed pillows on the shelf without a basket, so they would stand out better.

I really like the way the way the pillows look this year!

On our table, I kept things VERY low-profile this year. Just a single printable Valentine I found HERE and a few of my glass hearts on a dollar-store tray that's held up for years.

And on our "Anniversary table" the only change from last year was a photoshopped quote used as a backdrop to a few of my favorite decorations from last year.

I am SO glad that my little wire flowers survived from last year!

For the first time in 18 years, I don't have a special dinner planned for tonight. Nobody feels like eating, so we'll have heart-shaped eggs with rice for lunch, and bean soup for dinner. This year Valentine's Day isn't about spending time with our loved ones... it's about taking turns SHOWING our love by taking turns refilling the vaporizer.