Archive for July, 2010

Let’s pretend for a moment that you are a girly-girl little two-year old. You wear frilly skirts and dresses and bows and have lots of pink things (including your bedroom), dolls, a play kitchen and watch your My Little Pony DVD every chance you get. Let’s say that one day, your mom takes you shopping (whee!) and you come upon the kiddie toothpaste section. Your mom (being the savvy mom who read recently that it’s good to start offering two-year olds choices) shows you two different toothpastes and asks which one you want. The first one looks like this:

And the only other toddler toothpaste on the shelf looks like this:

I’m sure you can guess where this is going, but color me shocked when S practically JUMPED out of the shopping cart and exclaimed “THOMASSS!!!!!!!” Now, she’s seen Mr. Thomas on TV a few times, but we’ve never pushed the subject on her. It’s funny, though, how she has this attraction for him. Take, for example, our morning at toddler storytime at the library this week. A boy about her age was sporting some crocs (those would be plastic sandals, not crocodiles, for those of you who haven’t been around children the ages of 2-10 lately) with none other than Thomas the Train on them. Poor kid didn’t stand a chance once S spied them on his toes. She practically grabbed his shoes right off his feet exclaiming THOMASSSS! THOMASSSS! Unfortunately, trains were not the subject of that morning’s storytime, otherwise her outbursts might have been better received. Bypassing the angry side-eyes from the other parents, I wrangled S back on her storytime mat (which, wouldn’t you know it?, portrayed a wide array of transportation vehicles, including a steam engine). S, hot on her Thomas kick, kept shouting, “Look, Momma. Train like Thomas!” While I don’t think she learned much about the “Ocean” that day, I think she did pick up a thing or two about trains…

So, now our bedtime routine involves S’s new love, Mr. Thomas, who watches her brush her teeth and tells her what a good job she’s doing. Then she gives her toothpaste a kiss and goes off to bed. “SEE YOU TOMORROW, THOMAS!” she says.

Ah, my little girly-girl is growing up.

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for everytime someone asked me this question:

“Where does she get those curls?”

‘Cause if I did, then I’m pretty sure J and I would be sinking our toes into some tropical sandy beach somewhere…oh, who am I kidding? More like S’s first year of college would be already paid for.

It’s really quite amazing how many people comment on her curly locks. And I’ve noticed a familiar pattern with the way the conversation goes. Usually it’s something like this:

Friendly passerby: “Where does she get the curly hair?”

Me: “Well, her dad had curly hair when he was little, so we think she gets it from him.”

Friendly passerby: blank stare

Like they are waiting for something more gossipy or earth-shattering than a simple explanation about family genetics.

Or it could also go like this:

Female FP to her male companion who could care less: “Honey, look at her curls! Aren’t they cute?? How did she get those curls?”

Me: “Well, I have curly/wavy hair when I don’t straighten it.”

Female FP staring at my hair trying to comprehend this info: chirp, chirp. crickets.

Clearly, I need to stop with the honest truth and make up some juicy gem that includes details about a milkman or something. At least I’ll avoid the blank stare.

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I’ve recently acquired one of the best personal trainers in town. Some of you are aware of my “trying to lose weight” woes, so it probably doesn’t surprise you that I’ve gone to great lengths to find the best trainer around to whip my body into shape.

I’ve had a couple of sessions with her already, and man, this gal is tough. No pansy-pants workouts with her. She gets right down to business and isn’t afraid to get in your face and tell you to “get up!” while you are catching your breath on the floor.

While she is tough, there are a few things that I really like about her (and hopefully these might serve as some tips if you are in the neighborhood for finding a personal trainer of your own!).

1. She does all the workouts with me. There’s nothing worse than a trainer who barks at you and isn’t working their butt off, too. Mine is especially fond of jumping jacks.

2. She brings her own equipment and will also hand me my weights when I need a boost. Mine has these specially designed mini-weights that she uses. Just the right size for her!

3. She knows when to push you that extra inch. Like, when you are huffing and puffing on your back trying to eek out one more crunch…she’s the type to sit on your abs at that exact moment so you have extra weight to lift. Nice.

4. She has a memory like an elephant. I think those are the animals known for DHA-enhanced brain power…anyway, this chick doesn’t let you forget a workout. And will scream in your ear until you get off your behind and change into some workout clothes. Sometimes, she’ll even try to get you to do TWO workouts a day. Slave driver.

5. She’s especially cute in her workout gear…Any gal that can work out in a dress gets extra points in my book. See my pint-sized trainer? Better find your own. I’m paying her big bucks ’cause she’s worth it!

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It wasn’t until a fellow mom stopped me at Target when she saw S’s snack cup safe and secure with the lap clip that I thought I was doing anything innovative. I mean, it just seemed a natural thing to do to avoid the snack cup from being tossed overboard one to many times during our shopping trip (and saving me the hassle of picking up said snack cup a million times…not to mention germy store floors…yuck!). But this mom apparently thought otherwise and thanked me for the tip. Um, sure! No problem. As I walked away from her, our brief exchange got me thinking. I bet there are other “no brainer” tips and tricks that I haven’t thought of when dealing with daily life with a toddler. Makes me wonder what else I’m missing…That being said, I’m curious to hear from fellow moms out there who have perfected the art of “thinking outside the box” when it comes to toddlerhood. What are your neat little tricks? I’d love to hear them!

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As this summer tick tick ticks away, I’m trying to get in all the fun things I wanted to do this summer. The Bloomin’ Butterfly exhibit at Olbrich Gardens was on that list and while my mom was here for a visit we checked it out. It was kind of a nice deal…Grandma got a treat with seeing the gardens and S got a treat seeing the butterflies (and I got to check out Olbrich for the first time, too!). Here are some pics of our visit…

checking out the butterflies on the sugar water sponges

it was so cute how all the little girls there had their butterfly apparel on…S was no exception!

peeking at the Koi fish from the bridge

a pretty monarch

S doing her best to “not touch!” the orange butterflies

Story of my life…chasing after a runaway toddler in public places

S and grandma by the waterfall…not sure what S was trying to tell us here

Pretty gardens

And the picnic bears!

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Last week, J and I headed downtown Madison to take in a Concert on the Square. It had been a few years since we attended this event, but these free outdoor concerts on the capitol grounds still remain one of the many things we love about living here.

And what is an outdoor concert without food (and wine!), right? Well, I have found the perfect sandwich to bring along for any summer outdoor event or picnic. I found it on epicurious.com a few years ago and was eager to recreate one of these delectable sandwiches for our concert.

Here’s the recipe which makes 4 sandwiches:

Artichoke, Fresh Mozzarella and Salami Sandwiches


  • 2 6-ounce jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 5-inch-diameter or 6-inch-long Italian rolls, split in half lengthwise (I used four ciabatta rolls from my grocery store’s bakery and they worked out nicely)
  • 12 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella, drained, sliced (I have now made these with both mozzarella and provalone, both taste great!) 
  • 6 ounces salami, thinly sliced
  • 8 tablespoons green olivada (go easy on this, can make your sandwich a little too salty)
  • Preparation

    Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide artichoke mixture among bottom halves of rolls. Top with cheese, then salami. Spread top half of each roll with 2 tablespoons olivada. Place atop salami. Press sandwiches lightly to compact and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate sandwiches at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.

    I could seriously eat those first 5 ingredients mixed together all by themselves without adding them to the sandwich…hmmm…might just have to experiment with a new pasta salad! 😉

    Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Any wild guesses on which wine goes great with this sandwich??

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    This post isn’t as much of a restaurant review as it is a chance to show off Miss S partaking in the childhood wonders of a Madison landmark. (and being all matchy-matchy that I am, I figured this was the closest topic to a rollercoaster that I could find. Why a rollercoaster, you ask? Well, because that’s what my life is like at the moment. Just praying for the ride to end. Very soon. Thank you.) This trip to Ella’s Deli was a first for the whole family. It was a neat experience to say the least. Upon entering, you are bombarded with thousands of carnival inspired characters suspended from the ceiling and scattered around the restaurant. Not only is there a flurry of color with these characters, they also move and dance and sing. It is quite the sight!

    S was a tad overwhelmed at first and did the death grip on daddy’s shoulder. The tables are unique as well at Ella’s. Ours was a pinball inspired table and what seemed to be a picnic scene under glass, complete with ants and other insects enjoying their feast. Hoping to enjoy OUR feast, I perused the menu. It’s HUGE! Sandwiches, deli fare and a whole separate menu just for ice cream. I opted for a basic burger since I wasn’t feeling in the mood for a deli sandwich. I also got an order of onion rings which were served with ranch dressing instead of your basic ketchup. It was nice for a change of pace. J got a malt…he’s big on malts. I, on the other hand, would choose my calories to go towards something else. It was fun to watch S take in everything…

    Rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub.

    Mommy and S checking out the sights.

    We were pretty stuffed from our meals, and being naive first-timers, we didn’t leave room for ice cream. Make sure you do this if you go! I think the next time we go, it will be just for an ice cream treat. The food was good, but I’m guessing the ice cream is much better! And of course, our next trip wouldn’t be complete without a ride on the restored carousel. S was proud to show Daddy how carousels work since she was all big-girl and stuff and rode on one at the zoo a few weeks ago.

    Guess who konked out on the way home in the car from all the excitement??

    Although this isn’t so much a typical restaurant review, I would be remiss if I didn’t give it a rating…so in true carnival style, I rate Ella’s 4 out of 5 flags…more flags, more fun, right?

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    Devils Lake Revisited

    Last summer we headed to Devils Lake for the first time and it was a lot of fun. So much fun that we decided to make it an annual event. Only an hour’s drive away and a mere $7.00 for a day park pass, it’s definitely worth it for a fun day at the beach. S enjoyed herself this year, although she wasn’t into picking up the rocks like last year…we’ve now moved on to wanting to swim the entire time. Her floaty octopus is up at the cottage, so we had to make do with her mermaid inner tube, which she didn’t seem to mind. Mommy and Daddy took turns out with her in the lake. Then we took a break for lunch and one more spin in the lake and called it a day!







    I gots my fork, yo!

    And, just for tradition’s sake…

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    1. How she has decided that “hiding” (between the side of her crib and the wall) is part of her bedtime routine. We brush teeth, read some stories and then I’ll say, “bedtime” and she’ll climb off the chair and say, “I’ll go hide”. I pretend to look all over the room (and the hallway and out the window…because, really, there aren’t too many other places in that room after a while!) and then ‘find her’. She gets a big kick out of it.

    2. How when we went to the park yesterday she had to bring her little Curious George along. She took him down the slide (sat him next to her and said “Come on, George”), he got a ride on the swing (in her front pocket),  and when the scary lawnmower started up she said, “It’s OK, George. Just the lawnmower.” 🙂

    3. How she likes to give C-dog his treats when he comes in from outside. We have the snausages ‘breakfast” treats right now and S will say, “I give a treat!” “I give an egg’ or “I give a bacon”. Then she’ll tell Cooper to sit and being the nice dog he is, he’ll lay down instead. Then she’ll give him the treat and say “Good dog”. It’s really cute to see them interact like that instead of the usual pounding that she gives him…we are working on being “gentle” when petting him.

    4. How she knows some of the words to the songs in the cartoons she watches or the books she reads. It’s so cute to hear her little voice singing along. My Little Pony and her storyreader songs are her favorites.

    5. How she’s turning into this sweet, polite, friendly little lady. Oh, sure, there’s the out-of-nowhere silly “terrible two” tantrums on occasion, but for the most part she is a very pleasant little person. She will say hi and bye to anyone and everyone (“bye, guys!” she likes to say), say please and thank you and sorry when she bumps into you (or the chair or the dog or whatever).

    S is 2 years and a few weeks old and so far the terrible two’s aren’t really that terrible.

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    No, not THAT mini, silly.

    THIS mini…

    Those of you that know and love me understand that I can go a bit nuts when it comes to wine. I’m usually a red wine drinker (shiraz/syrah and pinot noir are my favs), but in the summertime, I LOVE ME a chilled glass of Wollersheim Winery’s Prairie Fume. A few months ago, the wonderful Wollersheim crew announced that they were going to be packaging my favorite wine in MINI BOTTLES. Perfect for a summer picnic, trip to the beach or any other event where you might just need to bring along the best.wine.ever (in a compact, plastic, carry-along size).

    Not wanting to miss out on this new twist on my favorite summer white, I scoured nearby grocery stores and wine shops looking for these special mini bottles. I couldn’t find them anywhere! I finally picked them up at our local grocery store (where they have an amazing selection of wines for just a small, family run store, btw) and I brought them with me on my trip up north.

    My dear family indulged my giddiness about trying this wine while S was napping on her birthday. What better time to celebrate, right?

    and of course I got pics of everyone enjoying the vino…

    Happy momma! So glad WW thought to sell these in mini bottles! You can be sure these will be replacing my Sutter Home (cringe) mini bottles that I took with me last year to Devil’s Lake. We are headed there later this week if the weather holds out. Thanks for letting me get a few more ounces of enjoyment out of my summer, Wollersheim!

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