Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Fun List 2015

Keeping with tradition, the kids and I came up with our 2015 Summer Fun List. I try to keep us as grounded in the list as possible and veer them towards activities that we would most likely do anyway over the summer. I mean come on now, keeping 3 kids alive and occupied all summer should be an accomplishment in and of itself, no need to add on too many crazy expectations!

Here is what we'll be up to this summer...

Thies Family Summer Fun List
  1. Go to a library in another town
  2. Have Taco Night outside
  3. Go to a baseball game
  4. Have ice cream for lunch
  5. Get slushies
  6. Go to the zoo
  7. Go on vacation
  8. Go to the beach
  9. Have a sleepover in Mamma and Dadda's Room
  10. Bake brownies and the eat them outside
  11. Have a lemonade tea party
  12. Play football in the backyard
  13. Go to Ward's Berry Farm
  14. Go to an outdoor movie
  15. Go to Friendly's
  16. Have a picnic
  17. Take a walk at Borderland State Park
  18. Swim in a pool
  19. Set up the kiddie pool under the slide
  20. Have playdates
  21. Play tag with Dadda
  22. Go on a bug hunt
  23. Look at the stars at night
  24. Make s'mores
  25. Read lots of books
  26. Go to the bike path
  27. Go mini golfing
  28. Go to a cook out
  29. Have a pajama day
  30. Eat pizza outside
  31. Go bowling
  32. See Uncle Dan
(Declined Suggestion: Get a dog)

We can't wait to start checking things off. Isabelle and I love us some lists!

Friday, June 19, 2015

A New Flip Bar

As part of my purge, we are getting rid of all the baby toys and play houses in the backyard. To ease the blow of it for the children, my husband built a "flip bar" for the kids. You may recall that 3 years ago, he built an awesome swing set for the kids and he also built our sandbox. He's pretty kick ass when it comes to backyard building.

So the kids are flipping, hanging, and jumping away now. I'm pretty sure that a broken limb will eventually be the end result of this new bar but in the meantime we are riding the fun train for all it's worth! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How To Make The Perfect Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Wondering how to get your hands on the best jam around? I've got step by step directions for you!

Step 1: Make friends with a person who loves to can. You only need to make one friend because they'll lead you to the rest. How do you know if they can? Don't worry - they usually stand out.

"I eat local because I can" - The ever dorkalicious Lauryn
Step 2: Get yourself invited to one of said friend's "canning nights."
Step 3: Show up empty handed, two hours after the work has begun.
Step 4: Drink 3 glasses of wine and eat pizza (that you did not contribute to) while you watch them continue to mash, boil, and fill jars.
Step 5: Leave for home with a parting gift of one of the jars that they spent hours working on.
See? It's so easy. Even YOU can CAN!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to Easily Clean Out a Sticky Jar

We are big recyclers in our house but there are a few items that I just couldn't bring myself to wash out. Mainly, the peanut butter jars...

Now we go through A LOT of peanut butter in this house. It may have to do with my unhealthy obsession of eating spoonful upon spoonful of it with no sense of self conrtol. Either way, my issue is peanut butter, you might have a mayo jar issue or something similar that you hate to clean out. Well a friend recently told me how she cleans hers for recycling so I gave it a try. Guess what? It's SO easy, works like a charm, and makes me not feel bad about throwing away the jars anymore. This is how you do it:

Step 1: Eat as much peanut butter as you can from the jar.

Step 2: Fill the jar half way with warm water, add a drop off dish soap, replace cover, and SHAKE.

Shake what your mamma gave you
Step 3: Set it down, out of the way on your counter and leave overnight (or approx 6-8 hours)

Step 4: Pick up the jar, shake again, then set down upside down. Leave it for another 6-8 hours.

Step 5: Shake, empty, and give a quick rinse to get rid of the bubbles.

Voila! You have a totally clean jar without ever getting sticky or having to do any scrubbing. 

So overall it is a two day process but it is so easy and is a win for the environment. So next time you have an icky, sticky container that you need to clean, give it a try!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Spring Time (Picture) Update!

After a brutal winter, it seemed like spring would never come and now it's almost gone in the blink of an eye. While I have a minute, I wanted to post some pictures of what we've been up to!

Opening Day

Isabelle started her first year of softball this year while Henry started his second year of baseball. My husband, Tim, is the assistant coach of Henry's team so they've had lots of Father/Son time together. The majors are definitely not calling for either of these kids but they sure are having fun!

We've been enjoying ice cream - lots of good to the last drop, ice cream!

 Bunny Ears never get old
We've been enjoying nature. Although I've never been a woodsy girl, I recognize that it's a great way to get the kids out of the house and get some exercise. This summer we have big plans for lots of hikes - and inevitably lots of complaints.

An artist at work
Henry was excited that it was finally his turn to go to The Parched Painter since Isabelle had been twice before. He and I had some one on one time complete with soda and candy!

Game on!
The boys and I participated in the Mother/Son Dodgeball game on the Gilette Stadium field last week. There was blood, there was sweat, there was tears - but it was an amazing night!

Spring is off to a great start - can't wait to see what summer brings!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Purging My Entire House

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted on Facebook a link to a summary of Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Have you heard of it? I had seen people posting about it here and there so I clicked through and was totally sold. If I wasn't as cheap as I am, I would have bought the book immediately. Instead, I went online and reserved it from my library and I am currently number 183 on the wait list, Yup, that's not a typo - ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY THREE! Just goes to show you how popular the book is. Now as is, just from reading the summary I have started DRASTICALLY getting rid of so much in our house that I feel like maybe it's best to not read the entire book. I might be living in an empty house if I got the book right now. That being said, if any locals have it and are done with it - go ahead and drop it in my mailbox!

Anywho, back to the purging. So it sounds like part of the book is nutso (the sock chapter for those who have read it), but some of it really spoke to me. People have so much STUFF. Stuff that we don't need. Stuff that hangs over us and we just can't seem to let go of. Well let me tell you, I'm letting it all go. The gist behind Kondo's book (again, I haven't actually read it) is determining if your personal items "spark joy." Do they currently make you happy? That dress in the back of your closet that you spent way too much money on for a wedding years ago and have never worn again? Thank it for its service and the joy it brought you that night (thanking is a Kondo thing) and donate it. You don't need it. It's taking up space. Let it go bring joy to someone else.

So I've started using the "Does it spark joy?" as I'm making my way through the house. I'm looking at things that I've held on to for years and years that I don't need or want anymore but just haven't been able to get rid of before. I came across a white pocket book and gloves that I wore on my First Communion. I've kept it since I was seven but you know what? I don't need it. There's no joy sparks there so I passed it along. The longer you hang on to things the harder it is to give away. I came across some glass decorations/knick knacks from one of my apartments when I was young and single. They were cute and they were nice but they're not me anymore. They are from another life that I lived before my husband and before kids. So I sat there for a minute, looked at them, remembered the great times that I had in the apartment with friends, I smiled, and I put them in the donate bucket. They don't want to sit in a box in my closet, they want to go live another life on display with some new, young girl.

The memorabilia and the back of the closet stuff is hard to get rid of. You know what's not hard to get rid of though? The toys! So many toys and so little time for the kids to play with them especially come the fall when all my kids will be in full time school. The kids have actually been coming to me this week offering up things to donate since they've seen me getting rid of so much. The purging is addictive.

In the last 4 weeks, I've had a donation truck come pick up a whole bunch of stuff and have made 4 trips to a local second hand store to donate items. I went on Friday to donate items and was back again on Sunday. Once I've packed it up, I need it gone asap. I actually might have a problem but oh man is it freeing. I don't need 9 glass bowls or 12 assorted mugs or 7 plastic platters or 27,000 reusable grocery bags. I've been keeping the things that I use regularly and donating the rest. I can now easily find things in closets and cabinets and drawers. I might just become the poster child for someone who has gone completely insane but man will my house be organized when they haul me off to the looney bin.

So much to donate, so little time

How To Protect Your Eyes from UV Damage

My father passed away from Melanoma Skin Cancer when I was two months old. Therefore, I've spent all of my life being aware of the sun and the damage that it can do. Given my family history and the fact that I'm a pale, freckly, red head - the sun has never been my friend. As a mom to three fair skinned kids (one less than the others), I feel like my family goes through gallons of sunblock each summer. MUST PROTECT OUR SKIN! However, I had honestly never really thought about protecting our eyes before. The kids wear hats but again that is for skin protection more than anything else. Last year when I thought I was going blind (turned out I was just getting old which you can read about HERE), I bought a pair of sunglasses that I occasionally wear. Before that I didn't even own a pair. So when I was recently asked to listen in on a webinar for The Vision Council I was very interested to hear what they had to say. How had I gone this long in life being somewhat obsessively concerned about skin damage and never even considered my eyes?

During the webinar, I was able to hear Dr. Dora Adamopoulous discuss the recent findings of the 2015 Vision Council's UV Protection Report. Here are some of my biggest takeaways:
  • 1 in 4 Americans rarely or never wear sunglasses
  • Unprotected UV exposure can cause sunburned eyes, cataracts, and macular degeneration (vision loss/blindness)
  • 65% of Americans consider sunglasses a fashion accessory and not a necessity
  • Sunglasses should be worn year round (even on cloudy days)
  • Peak UV times for eyes is 8am-10am and 2pm-4pm
  • Eye damage is cumulative and can never be reversed
  • Unlike the mature lens of an adult eye, a child’s ocular lens cannot effectively filter out UV rays so more harmful radiation reaches the retina.
So now that you're sufficiently scared about UV radiation and your eyes, what can you do?
  • Buy sunglasses from a reputable retailer. You don't need to spend a lot of money but you want to know that you are getting a quality pair.
  • Buy glasses with UVA/UVB protection. Most glasses have a sticker or label indicating their coverage. If the glasses don't have a sticker or you are not sure of the coverage - get a different pair.
  • Choose glasses that best fit your lifestyle in order to ensure that you use them frequently. Also, for children consider a wrap around style or similar so that they stay put.
So really the main takeaway is wear your sunglasses as frequently as possible and have your family members do the same. Since the webinar, I'm definitely trying harder to wear mine more often and working on it with the kids, too. I think I might buy a case for each of the kids to keep their sun glasses in in order to protect them from scratches. I'm naively hopeful that maybe they'll take better care of them if they have a special home for them. Although, I have no doubt that within a week Henry will have lost both his sunglasses and the case. One battle at a time...!
The future's so bright we gotta wear shades
*Disclosure: I attended The Vision Council's webinar and received a complimentary Sun Safe Swag Bag. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Kid-Free Night Away

My husband and I spent Saturday night alone in Boston without the children. This is HUGE for us. Isabelle is seven and a half and we've only been away together overnight once since she was born. Our youngest is almost five and he's never been away from us. Now please note, I would drop those kids off somewhere in a hot second if we had the chance. We just don't really get the chance. Both of my parents have passed away so clearly they are not babysitting. Although, Tim comes from a large family, we are the only ones who live in Massachusetts. So before you know it, years and years have passed and you are DYING to get away. With our anniversary coming up this week, I thought it would be a great time to pressure ask my brother if he and his wife could watch them for the night. They said yes and the rest is history.

Tim and I started off by checking into our room at The Omni Parker House in Boston. Everyone there was so nice - the valet, the doormen, the front desk staff. We had one small duffel bag (no extra luggage needed when you have no kids!) and Tim must have been asked by four different people if they could help him carry it. We then went to our room which was a king suite which was so awesome. It's amazing how big those hotel rooms feel when you're not jamming five people into them! We then headed out and did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted for the next 24 hours. We walked part of The Freedom Trail, had dinner in the North End, walked through Boston Common, had drinks in the Theatre District, had drinks in the hotel bar, walked through Downtown Crossing, used the hotel gym, I ate frozen yogurt in my pajamas, and the list goes on and on. That's anther thing when you don't have kids - you can walk SO much and not hear any complaints. It's magical. We had beautiful weather, the hotel was in a perfect location, and it was so nice to unwind and reconnect.

Smiles don't lie
While Tim and I were off living the dream, the kids had an equally awesome time at my brother and sister in law's house. They had pizza, cupcakes, ice cream, munchkins, played outside, and watched TV. What's not to love?

Slip and Slide Heaven
This weekend was definitely good for the soul and a great way to celebrate the (soon to be) nine years since Tim and I walked down the aisle and started our forever together!

*This post is not sponsored. We paid for everything that we enjoyed and I'm simply sharing the details with you.
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