I started this blog four years ago (almost to the day, but of course I forgot my actual anniversary) as a way to keep in touch with my family and friends while we spent a couple of months in the Balkans. Mr. J was working for the Law Firm from Hell, but he was selected to participate in a pro bono project in Pristina, Kosovo and after several months there by himself, we all got lonely for each other so off Dagny & I went! It was a wonderful experience and the Balkans, being utterly off the beaten track, were truly an unspoiled travelers paradise. I loved almost every minute of our time there, not the least because of some of the incredible side trips we took. One of my favorite trips was to Lake Ohrid, Macedonia - incredible medieval village with the most splendid icy-cold lake. We also went to Greece and Slovenia and we spent some time in Budapest so Mr. J could relive his wild bachelor days - HA! just kidding we actually spent most of the time there enjoying the awesome Four Seasons hotel and staying up until 10 at night eating pastries at Gerbeaud and feeding Dagny decadent European ice cream which is about as unlike his wild bachelor days as you could imagine.
Mr J & Dagny, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Extremely fatigued in Thessaloniki, Greece
Cafe Gerbeaud, Budapest, Hungary
Just looking at these pictures brings back all the memories. And look how tiny Dagny was... where has the time gone?!
"One more thing..." is my catchphrase this time of year. As the school year winds down and summer plans ramp up and it seems like every person you see wants a check for something or the other (including me, see below). I'm. Over. It. I want summer to be here and to not get up at 5:45 and to not have to make another bag lunch for three months. I need my vacation.
On top of it all, Mr. J has been wicked busy at work and is away at least two nights a week. I know I'm not a single mom, but those parents who are, for whatever circumstances, and are handling things alone have ALL my respect. Good for you being there for your kids. Especially when I, a happily married woman, can barely hold it together some nights and have to resist with all my might the temptation to let the kids eat Cheerios and red velvet cupcakes for dinner.
But my commitments for the year are winding down. I've only a few more things (I think) on my plate.
I wrapped up my Junior League responsibilities a few weeks ago thank goodness. My status in the League allows me to opt out of a placement next year, so I'm taking a break from committee meetings. With Anders in preschool 3 mornings a week I'm planning on taking some time for myself!
Tonight is the last Daisy meeting of the year -- the girls are bridging to Brownies and I've got 14 packets of paperwork and forms to assemble this morning. Then it's over to the parish center to decorate the room for the ceremony and ice cream party this afternoon. (All with Anders in tow!) And of course, we're asking for next year's dues to be paid now. I hate, HATE, asking people for money. Even when it's dues for an organization that they've voluntarily joined. I feel like an ATM -- if you look at my checkbook the only checks I've written in the last 3 weeks are to school for various activities, class t-shirts, camps, etc.
We've got two birthday parties this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
Next week I have to summer-ize the art room and playrooms - set up craft materials, recycling, summer reading, etc. I will be storing, donating, or tossing most of the approximately 2300 tons of artwork, toys, games, projects, playdoh creations and plastic crap that have accumulated since the beginning of the school year.
Next Friday is Dagny Day. We'll be at school for a couple of hours for the first grade end-of-the-year Author's celebration. Then she's having an end-of-the-year playdate with four (4?! What was I thinking!) friends from school and we also invited them to stay for dinner (more insanity!). I started off all gung-ho thinking I'd make a nice summery meal of homemade fried chicken, waldorf salad and my delicious strawberry ice cream. I've since been informed that Dagny took a poll at school and the girls would rather have Kraft Mac n' Cheese and cupcakes. Fine. Whatever. They're still getting waldorf salad.
I was feeling cocky after several recent successes in the kitchen. I'm a decent homecook and can even make several tricky things and I'm not afraid of recipes. So over the weekend, I confidently set out to tackle two "minor" home cooking projects: sourdough bread and mayo. I blithely imagined homemade chicken salad sandwiches for lunch this week: grilled, mediterranean-spiced chicken breasts were on the menu for Sunday's supper.
Turns out sourdough bread and mayo may be the two trickiest things I've ever tried to make. I tried three batches of sourdough starter: the first started out nicely and then turned rancid in about 2 hours; the second was lovely, but died when I tried to feed it and the third never got off the starting blocks - it remained a gooey, gluey mess until I tossed it this morning.
The mayo was even worse. I used every single appliance in my appliance garage -- food processor, blender, whisk, hand-mixer-- a dozen eggs and an entire bottle of olive oil and never wound up with more than an oily mess everywhere. Them there egg yolks just wouldn't emulsify no matter what. I've never been more disgusted. And it took forever to clean up too.
I topped off the weekend by killing my last batch of homemade yogurt, so now I'm going to have to start from scratch with store bought.
I'm thinking my kitchen is too hot now that summer is here. Time to retire my baker's hat (until fall) and focus on salads and ice cream.
Summer is upon us in all its 95-degrees-in-the-shade, 100% humidity, afternoon rainy (yay!) glory. Crank the a/c, make yourself some popsicles and load up the Super Soakers.
By the way, did you know that you can get a solar-powered a/c unit? We may have to look into that. I laughed at our solar water heater before we bought this house, but it is SUCH a money saver. Especially since we all love hot baths/showers. Of course we still have to pay for the water. We're itching to get off the power grid though.
I'm blogging over on Facebook - should someone call that flogging?
Mr. J doesn't read my blog and he's not the most, um, intuitive guy out there so I'm gonna have to drop some pretty blatant hints in the next four days. But here's my idea for the Perfect Mother's Day:
1) Let me sleep in. Please. It's a FREE present and one I will cherish. This was the only thing I asked for my birthday* last year and Mr. J turned me down flat. Basically he'd rather buy me a really expensive dinner than get the kids up (granted at the crack of dawn since they wake pretty early) and give them breakfast.
Tahdah! Yes people, that's it. I don't really need anything and most things I want I just buy for myself anyway. So the gift of sleep IS the ultimate Mother's Day gift for me. The gift of sleep and not having to wrangle food into Anders who is the WORLD'S WORST EATER and now is getting picky about his cereal too.
And if someone wants to grill me some lamb chops and tasty spring veggies and serve it to me on the porch along with a very limey g&t, well, that would be nice too.
*I asked for it again at Christmas though and this time I got it.
In typical Florida fashion, we have fast-forwarded through spring and got right down to summer. Which is A-OK with me, because it means more time playing in the yard after dinner, more grilling, more sleeping in and more free time with the kids. I love lazing around the house, baking or playing or hanging out. I hate rushing places and feeling like we're always doing something. That said, I don't believe in being completely lazy, so Dagny will be attending Vacation Bible School, two weeks of tennis camp and a one week art camp. But those are all morning activities, so we'll have the rest of the day to hang out.
My big summer activity? The high schools in my hometown are having a summer reunion for anyone graduating 1981-1986. It's at the end of July and since I haven't attended a reunion yet, I'm looking forward to it!
We are growing things here today -- specifically various forms of bacteria (the good kind!)
Anders and I are making homemade yogurt (acidopholus and co.) and homemade bagels. I'll let you know how it turns out. I have to go sterilize my canning jars (i.e., empty peanut butter jars) because while I have nothing against good bacteria, I sure don't want any of the bad stuff turning up to ruin the party.
In other buggy news, my beloved Mac is starting to act buggy. It's only 5 years old and we've updated the OS, but I think there might be something going on in there. Maybe not terminal (yet), but certainly critical. Boo.