Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Finally, spring has arrived...

Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos. ~Don Kardong

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

New England Museums for Children – Fun and Educational!

Eeek, I am a bit late! I usually do some great posts on activities for spring break... and here we are 2 days in and... nothing! Thankfully, Travel New England contacted me and asked if they may guest post. Ummmm.... yeah! They are recommending every attraction I already recommend to you every year, yet saving me time writing myself. Score! So here are some ideas for this spring break:

New England Museums for Children – Fun and Educational!
By Travel New England
You’re planning a trip to New England with the kids. Wouldn’t it be great if you could include activities that are both educational and fun for the entire family? Many of New England’s museums offer great activities and experiences that never disappoint and are, for sure, enjoyed by all! Below are some attractions we recommend for you and your children:

1. Children’s Museum of New Hampshire – If you find yourself in New Hampshire, “The Granite State,” head over to the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, located in Dover. The Museum offers a wide variety of interactive, fun, and educational exhibits, as well as enriching programs that include Museum Overnights, Scout Programs, Summer Camps, and so much more. Does your little one have a birthday coming up? With their diverse birthday party options, the Museum makes it easy for the entire family to share in a very special celebration. The options are endless – just go!

2. Boston Children’s Museum – With over 100 activities for kids, a visit to the Boston Children’s Museum is a sure bet. The Museum was founded by teachers and is focused on children and their families or caregivers. So, you can be sure there is something for everyone, with exhibits ranging from science to culture to health and fitness, to the environment to the arts. Before you go, be sure to check out the tips for grown-ups when preparing for your visit.

3. Museum of Science, Boston – There is no such thing as spending a couple of hours at the Museum of Science, Boston. With over 500 interactive exhibits, live daily presentations, and special shows in the Charles Hayden Planetarium and Mugar Omni iMAX theater – New England’s only domed iMAX screen, a one-time visit isn’t enough. The fun doesn’t stop there. Your children will be truly fascinated by what they see and learn in the Museum’s Theater of Electricity that houses the world’s largest Van de Graaff generator. And, don’t forget to visit the Current Science & Technology Center and the scale community solar system model. Too many things to list here. Just go!

4. Providence Children’s Museum – If your kids are between the ages of 1 and 11, and your plans take you to southern New England, be sure to visit the Providence Children’s Museum in Providence, RI. With many hands-on, play-filled exhibits and special programs, your entire family is bound to have a great time together as you explore the wonders of culture, history, science, and the arts. When planning your visit, be sure to check out the visiting tips offered by the Museum.

5. Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine – If you’re plans take you to New England’s North Shore, be sure to stop by the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine in Portland. This Museum combines exhibits focused on arts education with productions that include cast and crews ranging in ages from 7 to 16, delighting audiences of all kinds, as well as museum exhibits focused on science, multi-cultural, and early childhood education, providing much enjoyment and enrichment to children ranging in ages from 6 months to 10 years, as well as their families or caregivers. Be sure to check out the visitor tips when planning your trip!

6. Higgins Armory Museum – A treat for the entire family! If you’re fascinated by the history behind Medieval times, tales of knights in shining armor, and the mystery behind ancient Greek soldiers, be sure to visit the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA. Here is where you and the kids will marvel at the spectacular collection of arms and armor (including more than 35 suits of armor) and delight in the entertaining and educational demonstrations and programs that “bring to life arms and armor from around the world and across centuries!”

7. The Butterfly Place – Located in Westford, MA is an incredible indoor garden with hundreds of beautifully colored butterflies from around the world flying free. The Butterfly Place garden includes winding walkways where you and the kids can observe beautiful butterflies, as well as fish and birds, up close in the natural environment in which they live. Kids can even take home a Butterfly Hatching Kit so they can hatch and release their own butterfly or moth.

These are but a few of the many wonderful museums for children and their families in the New England area. Get ready for great fun…and education!

About the Author
This article was written exclusively for New England through Yummy Mommy’s Eyes by the editorial staff of Travel New England, a website about all of the wonderful things to see and do in the six New England states. Check out their site, blog, and photo gallery for more New England vacation ideas.

I just wanted to also add that, with the exception of the Museum of Science, all of these museums are part of the Association of Children's Museums reciprocal program. Which means if you have a Family Membership with ACM Reciprocal Program privileges at your own museum (which I DO) you can get your family into all of the rest of these museums FREE! Check the site for details, but it is a fantastic deal if you travel around New England like we do.

I can honestly say that, with the exception of Higgins and the Providence Museum, I have been to all of these destinations, and I would recommend every single one for some simple family fun.

Happy Spring Break!

Friday, April 22, 2011

This Ain't Yo' Momma's Grilled Cheese: Mexican Pepper Jack

This was one of my favorite so far:

Artisan Bread (I used a Rye loaf)
Cabot Pepper Jack (we also tried the Cabot Chipotle, which was great as well.)
Sundried Tomatoes
REAL butter
Tortilla chips

The first thing to do is make a paste from the tortillas and butter. Put a few tortilla chips in a Magic Bullet or food processor and grind them to a powder. Then mix them with a couple of tablespoons of butter. (Make sure the paste is more butter and less tortilla or it will not spread on bread well.) Spread your butter mixture on a piece of bread and place butter down in your cast iron skillet. Spread on some guac and a few pieces of sundried tomato. Add of few pieces of cheese and the second piece of bread, tortilla butter face up.

Toast to perfection, turning every few minutes. And voila:

It is soooo yummy.

See my previous grilled cheese recipes:
Chicken Pesto Smoked Bacon Delight
Sundried Tomato and Pesto

...aaaand, I was featured here along with some other fabulous grilled cheese recipes!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kids Say (and do) The Darndest Things

I have taken up hula hooping. I have found it is a fun way to exercise and the girls in this house have developed a bit of competitive spirit when it comes to learning new hula hoop tricks. It is something Ariana, Annika and myself can spend hours doing in our living room or (where are the sweet sun Gods) out on the deck or lawn.

Cut to the chase... I wanted to video myself doing a few tricks so I could see if I looked as spectacular as I think I do or more like a flailing hyenea.

As I turned the camera in my computer on... this is a small clip of the next few minutes of me trying to capture my grand hula skills...

If you do not have (or have not had) a 2-year-old... they are the BEST! Seriously, what a freakin' fun age. Pure, unadulterated, care free little bugs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Restored faith in humanity...

Wow. My post on being attacked for my tattoos on Facebook received so many kind comments. This tells me 2 things:

1. I need to write way more poor-me, self-pity posts.
2. This blog attracts some very kind, open-minded people. (Just as I had always suspected.)

Please rest assured that I am love with my tattoos. No matter what words others sling at me, I will never regret them. I am very proud of the artwork myself and my tattoo artist have achieved.

The hurt really stemmed more from the fear that people like this exist and have no qualms showing themselves and their ignorance. I think I am a bit sheltered because I choose to surround myself with like-minded people who avoid drama in their lives. I just dread my children's yet-to-be-realized experiences in the real world and all that may entail.

All of your comments were so thoughtful and insightful, I wanted to reply to everyone.

Dwayne: It is a personal choice and I wish more people could learn to let others make their own choices.

Sarah: Your comment, "we're all losing a little bit of our humanity" puts into words exactly what I am feeling. Thank you so much for your comment.

Nap Mom: If I had a dime for every time I tell my girls, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all..." It seems so simple... yet it is foreign to some people. Those people that commented were 'friends' of friends, which I previously had open to see my photos- so it was my own fault that they could see and comment.

Connie: A fellow mom of three girls??? How have I not found you before now? Thank you so much for all of your kind words. (And you now have a new follower.:-)

Nikki: I have often wondered what it would be like to go into those peoples' heads for just a moment... do they know happiness? Do they ever feel content deep down?

Rhyah: Sadly, it is often the adults (and specifically women) who are cruelest. (Breast/bottle, WAH/SAH, etc...) I noticed that at least one of the meanies that commented was a mom. Can you imagine what messages she is sending her children???

Kell: You know how much I love drama.

Jennifer: Aww, thank you... I can always count on you for a smile.

Draft Queen: Thanks for the compliments. My artist is here.

Carolyn: The photo was open to friends of friends.

Isolde: I actually used it to open a conversation with Ariana. I showed it to her and let her know how it made me feel. None of my kids are online for cyber-bullying yet, so it was a good eye opener for her.

Ah, Lora, I have nothing if not strength in the face of assholes.

Jocelyn, your MOM has tattoos like mine??? Ackkk- thanks for making me feel so old!!! :-)

Kam- Thank you for being one of those people who has come out from behind the screen and proven that there are fantastic people all over social media.

Sara- Thank you so very much for YOUR inspiring comments. Your boys are very lucky to have such a kind Momma.

In response to commenters, "waking up and opening their minds a little wider!" I have come to the realization that some people are just who they are. I can not change them as I do not want them to change me, but I can choose to not have them be a part of my life.

That is one of the things I love best about being a grown-up. When we are younger, we are forced into friendships either by relationship (your mom's best friends' kids) or geography (who else are you gonna hang out with except a neighbor when you're 8 years old?) or other forces beyond your control. Now, I get to choose who I associate with. I can whine about the mean comments on Facebook... or simply block jackasses (which I have been known to do.) I can bitch and moan about the behaviors of friends or acquaintances... or simply distance myself from those people and foster real, meaningful friendships with people I truly respect, love and who make me a better person.

I want people to bring their own sunshine as I try to bring mine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Mommy Daughter Date with the Big Apple Circus in Boston

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be given tickets to the Big Apple Circus in Boston to go with Annika and our great friends, Carolyn and Amelia. It was a pretty amazing time to be able to take 2 five-year-olds to see acrobats, horses, clowns, and oodles of other entertainers. Really, the pictures are worth a thousand words... just look at those little girls' faces: It was so nice to have a mommy daughter date. We stopped at a great little soup and bagel shop across the street for lunch and then the girls frolicked in the City Hall square for a bit before we went in. It was pretty fun that the circus is an actual Big Top tent in the center of the city. It made the experience even more enjoyable for me, since the venue is so small, there really are not any 'bad' seats... the performers seemed so close. The girls just wanted to reach out and pet the horses... I think the animals were both girls favorite part. I think Carolyn and I were most enamoured with watching our little angels beaming and laughing and squealing in delight. Carolyn and I both agreed that the 3-8 year-old age range is pretty much perfect for the circus. They just find it so magical and it makes it so great to watch... kind of like when you experience Christmas all over again once you become a parent.

The circus will be in town until May 15th. If you have not gone, you really should consider it. The price is reasonable if you use this link to get a discount. (You save up to $15 per ticket!)

Go here to order online and the code is already applied or you can call CALL 888-541-3750 and mention code POP11. When I checked online this morning, I noticed that shows are already selling out for weekends and prime times, so you my want to order soon.*

*Offer good on select seat locations and performances. Performance schedule subject to change. Offer is subject to availability; not valid on prior purchases; cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions. This offer can be revoked at any time. Discount amount varies. Limit 8 tickets per order. No refunds or exchanges. Telephone and Internet orders are subject to standard service fees.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Attacked for my tattoos on Facebook.

I knew it would happen. I knew my tattoos would bring about some sideways looks and maybe a snarky comment or two.

But it still hurt my feelings.

I posted a photo on my personal Facebook page as my tattoo artist was scribbling some ideas on my arm: And then... the barrage...

I simply posted a photo on my own wall... and, unbeknownst to me, other random people somehow found it. I am not sure how or why they came across it, but they felt the need to make comments like, "Gross." "I hate tattoos." "Walking billboards."

I was completely taken aback. I know that people have negative opinions on tattoos, but how do they find it appropriate to personally attack me and my body. Obviously they are a permanent part of me and something I can no longer change. It would be like me walking up to someone and saying, "Brown eyes... Gross!"

If I were part of a conversation wherein people were discussing their aversion to tattoos and voicing an opinion... that would be one thing. But to simply spout off mean-spirited things at a photo on my personal FB page... well, it's just mean. It's sad that social media gives people this ease to just bully and attack. I mean, I don't think these same people would walk up to me in person and say, "Gross." At least, I hope they wouldn't... would they???? Are people that cruel?

What made me the saddest were the thoughts that quickly rushed to my daughters. I can handle the ignorant attacks. I can reason within my head that these people are callous and close-minded. But what happens when a 10 or 11 or 12-year-old is attacked with such unkind words? Will they have the strength to look beyond the words, to dismiss the ignorance? It scares me to even consider it....

And, as a side note, after all the sketches, all I added to my tattoo was a pretty new butterfly surrounded by some greenery:

*You will notice a comment from 'Claudia' in the FB convo is a different font. As I was screen capturing, she erased her comments... so I pasted back in from my email notification. She seemed to have a change of heart... maybe she will think twice before attacking other strangers with no just cause.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This Ain't Yo' Momma's Grilled Cheese: Sundried Tomato & Pesto

I can't believe I missed posting yesterday... it was actually National Grilled Cheese Day (how much tax-payer money was spent on declaring that???) But we did try a yummy new combination here.

A lot of the best grilled cheese sandwich recipes include tomatoes. Unfortunately, in our house, 5 out of 5 people do not like tomatoes. So I decided to come up with a recipe of my own to still utilize the yummy combo of cheese and tomato flavor (aside from just dipping the sandwich in the traditional tomato soup.)
Use a good artisan bread (I used a simple wheat here.) Butter the bread (with REAL butter, of course!) Add a bit of pesto to the inside of the sandwich. Chop up some of your favorite sundried tomatoes and slice your Cabot Tomato Basil cheddar cheese. Add those ingredients to your own taste.

(Direction on actually making the grilled cheese can be found on my previous post.)

Happy National Grilled Cheese Month (and Day!)

See my previous grilled cheese recipes:
Chicken Pesto Smoked Bacon Delight

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Unconditional love of a child.

I have had a long couple of days. I have been pretty ill and, as we all know, Momma's don't get sick days. So I crawled into bed last night pretty defeated and feeling like pure crap. As I pulled back my covers, I discovered these: Unsolicited love notes from my girls could not have come at a better time. Just when I need a little pick me up and a smile, they came through. Honestly, it choked me up a little to see their beautiful pictures and words:

And Ariana made me giggle... On the front: Somewhere over the rainbow... Inside: You're tickling me while I kick your butt at hula hooping. And somewhere under the rainbow there is a pot of gold for me!

What a great way to go off to sleep.

And then this morning, as I sat down with my coffee for the Today show... my gratitude grew even further. There was a segment on a young mother and father who had both been diagnosed with cancer within days of eachother. You can just never tell what each day will bring and how short life can be. I spent a little extra time cuddling each baby this morning.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Youth Gone Wild

As Colby and I were watching the news the other night, we were both shocked and dismayed by what we saw:

"North Andover Junior Prom Shut Down After Pot Brownies Incident"

Apparently kids have discovered... MARIJUANA! Right here in New England! I do not know what this world is coming to. Thank goodness the school had the foresight to shut down the whole prom shenanigans before any more kids were exposed to this marijuana drug.

And then, the very next morning, more devastating news:

"Plainville underage drinking party busted."

Drinking? At a PARTY? And they were underage? What is this world coming to??? Where are these kids learning this stuff?

Well, as we put on PBS to get away from all the bad news, I found out where:
Seriously PBS? Teaching this stuff to our children through the guise of an innocent SuperWhy! episode???

I am so glad I was never involved in any of this raucous behavior that the mislead youth of today seem to be falling into... (although I am not sure these escapades were quite newsworthy back in my day.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Some easy tips for preparing for spring.

It seems every April I blog about the same old stuff... spring cleaning, Earth Day, yummy foods, getting out and gardening... Instead of regurgitating everything, here are a few of my links from years past in case you'd like to peruse at your own pace:

No better time than during spring cleaning to start an all natural cleaning supply routine.
Celebrate Earth Day on April 22 with these 7 tips to live simply.
The spring thaw is he perfect time to start composting.
18 ways to get your New England yard ready for spring.
Time to get some new sunscreen for the year. Make sure you are getting it right.
Buy your ice pop maker now, you'll will be making oodles of popsicles for hot, sweaty kids any day.
Carve yourself out a little corner in your yard, so that you can start sipping tea and watching the trees bud and flowers blossom.
I am not sure if I ever mentioned it... but my square foot gardens were a huge success.
I am sooo excited to get back on the grill... and to eat summer salads... lots and lots of salads!
Start your summer bucket list now so that you can start planning/budgeting/daydreaming for your summer.

And now, if we could just get the weather to cooperate so that we could have some real spring weather.

More snow here. Awesome. Not enough for snow shoes or ice skates or sledding. Too much to go to the park or play in the garden. It's April... go away snow!

Which leaves me finding more crafty indoor activities for the kids. This one is easy. Take an egg carton, pip cleaners, paint and a 2 inch tall photo of your child's face.

Simply cut the egg carton into worm-like segments (we used 3 parts per wormy for us). Let the kids paint (or use markers, crayons, etc.) the body of the worm/insect. While they do that, you can print out a picture 2" tall of your child's face. I sealed mine with a clear contact paper to make them a bit sturdier.

I then punched holes in the top of the head so that the girls could insert antennae. Ariana also added legs and arms to hers. We then attached their face to the front... and there you have it.
That gave us about half an hour reprieve and then... "I'm borrrred. There's nothing to dooooo." Eh, it was a good half hour.

Come onnnn sunshine.

Friday, April 1, 2011

This Ain't Yo' Momma's Grilled Cheese: Chicken Pesto Smoked Bacon Delight

Like my title? It IS a delight. I am so happy with our first grilled cheese recipe in celebration of National Grilled Cheese Month that I am posting twice in one day! When I handed Colby his sandwich, he said (and I quote), "This is a friggin' great sandwich." So, there you have it, straight from the horses mouth.


Cabot Creamery Smoked Bacon Cheddar

REAL Butter
Shredded Chicken
A really yummy artisan bread

You really have to have a great bread as the base for a great grilled cheese. My local grocer carries La Brea bread, which is delicious. This time around I chose their roasted garlic loaf... and it went perfectly with this sandwich.

What are the other tricks for a great grilled cheese? A cast iron skillet is a must for a perfectly browned, perfectly melted grilled cheese. You have to cook on as not to burn the bread yet still melt the cheese. You also have to use real butter... the fake butter substances just won't do here.

Also, make sure you grate the cheese or slice it very thin so that it will melt well.

Simply butter one side of the bread and add a bit of pesto to the other side, place it butter side down on the pan. Add some shredded chicken, your cheese and then another pesto and buttered slice of bread. I like to cover the pan so keep the heat in and melt the cheese. Flip when it's browned to your taste... brown the second side... and voila!

Really, it's delish! Happy National Grilled Cheese Month and thanks to Cabot Creamery for the cheese!

Feel free to share any grilled cheese recipes you may have, I need a lot of inspiration this month.

I am here to share cheap ideas... and some yummy ideas.

And now... some random crap....

We just saw a commercial for the Big Apple Circus in Boston April 2nd-May 15th and the resounding squeals reminded me that we are going to the circus in 2 days!!! Annika is literally making me count the hours. The circus was one of those great childhood memories that I carry with me and now it's so fun to take my kids and watch their excitement. I, of course, will be posting about our trip to Boston (with oodles of photos, I'm sure) but until then, I can offer you a great coupon code to order your own tickets. Go here to order online and the code is already applied or you can call CALL 888-541-3750 and mention code POP11. When I checked online this morning, I noticed that shows are already selling out for weekends and prime times, so you my want to order soon.*

If you are a parent in New Hampshire- you need to subscribe to Couptopia. It's another one of those coupon sites, but they have been offering great deals on NH kids attractions. Today they are offering 1/2 off tickets for the SEE Science Center in Manchester. We have also gotten Discover Stop passes at 1/2 off, Childrens Museum at 1/2 off... they are usually very little restrictions and are valid all year.

Do you like peanut butter? Maple syrup? You can NOT miss out on this: Be aware though, it is dangerous. I can eat half a jar in a sitting with my apple slices!

Did you know that National Grilled Cheese Month started today? Cabot Creamery, one of my favorite New England staples, sent me a LOT of cheese to celebrate. So, starting tonight, I will be cooking up some new and interesting grilled cheese recipes. Seriously, these ain't yo' momma's grilled cheese. I have some great gourmet ideas in mind. Ingredients may include: pesto, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, horseradish cheddar, maple syrup, Nutella (NOT all on the same sandwich, silly!)... are you intrigued yet??? Stay tuned all month as I put my family through a smorgasbord of crazy grilled cheese recipes!

Happy Friday, and if you are anything like me, you can go back to cursing Mother Nature for her jackass April Fools Day joke.

*Offer good on select seat locations and performances. Performance schedule subject to change. Offer is subject to availability; not valid on prior purchases; cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions. This offer can be revoked at any time. Discount amount varies. Limit 8 tickets per order. No refunds or exchanges. Telephone and Internet orders are subject to standard service fees.