Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer 2010 . . . one long blog!

You know, I was doing so well, and then my free time just spiraled out of control; this blog post was a long time coming and will include several month of information, so get yourself a snack, you're going to be here for a while!  We hit the end of school (which was over a week late due to all the snow days) and cruised on to Christine's wedding, and by then we were in full summer mode - camps, swimming, travel, work, work, and more work!

We started off the season with an Indiana tradition - Holiday World in Santa Clause, IN.  That's right, we joined red-neck america for amusement park rides and water park fun.  I think Brian put it best when he said he was unsure if we were at a water park or at the next casting call for Biggest Looser.  Oh well, the kids had a blast and we were able to check that off the list for a few years at least! 


Christine and Sean's wedding was on June 12th and we were so honored to be involved with every step.  Even with the torrential downpours during both the rehearsal dinner and the reception, everything came off without a hitch and Christine was the star (not Annie, thank goodness!).  
Annie did look beautiful and did exactly as we told her, so that was a relief.  Sean's niece, Avery, was the other flower girl and they were darling.  I made matching dresses for them to wear to the rehearsal and then added blue sashes to both their flower girl dresses and the petal baskets so they would match the rest of the wedding party.  Apparently, the party went on until the wee hours, but us old fogies turned in early and missed all the real fun!

Next up was camp for both kids - Jack to Camp Tecumseh for a whole week, and Annie to Girl Scout Day Camp.  Jack being almost three hours away with no contact for seven days was a very different experience for all of us, and we're very thankful that Annie had her own camp for the week since she completely fell apart as we drove away from Camp Tecumseh on Sunday afternoon.  They can fight like cats and dogs, but when push comes to shove, they are fiercely loyal to each other.  Jack's two letters home during the week were both to Annie, although he sent us a quick hello through his best friend's letter to his parents . . . we took what we could get!

Both Jack and Annie spent a week in Oklahoma with Gigi & Bill, Papa & Cathie, and Aunt Marci, Uncle Jason, William, Vivian, & Landon.  This was also a new experience for us - Jack has stayed by himself before, but this was a first for Annie.  We had a couple of moments of panic, but they were quickly dissolved (well, pretty quick), and they were already talking about "next year" before we got all the way home.

The Summer went on to include Golf Camp, Summer Institute, and just good old fashioned pool, park, and library time.  

We wrapped up before school with a few days of fun as I took my first two days of vacation in my new job.  Heading to the Children's Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (annual age pictures), and swimming before finding out teacher assignments and dinner out before the last day of school.

This was a very different summer for us all as my new job dictated much of our time and the fact that we couldn't really take any extended time off as a family. But with all things there is sacrifice; I'm still sure about my decision to take this new position, and at the end of the day, the kids will never remember that this summer was not what we have considered "normal" before now.

So, thanks for checking (back) in!
xo, jenni

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ready for the Show . . . the song says so!!

As if the week was not busy enough with Mothers' Day, the arrival of my new employee for a week of training at the office, and Strawberry Festival, we finished with a grand flourish - the annual Spring Dance Recital!  At age five, there is pretty much nothing cuter than little girls dressed in pink poofs dancing on stage to the direction of their teacher in the wings, and today did not disappoint. 

Recital Video

And at the end of the day . . . it's all about the flowers! :)

Thanks for checking in!
xo - jenni

Strawberry Festival - 2010 . . . the end of MY era!

So, I have to admit, I got a little weepy as I drove down to the courthouse on Thursday morning to make my last call as to whether the Annual Strawberry Festival would be held outdoors on the courthouse lawn or have to be moved inside because of the weather.  I was literally counting down the hours until that day would be over, but at the end of all the work, the countless hours of planning, checking, filling out forms, cake cutting, ice cream scooping, strawberry dipping, and other jobs I can't even remember doing, it was a very proud moment for me.  

As the chair of this event, which marked my last hooray on the Boys' & Girls' Club Auxiliary, I had to stop and realize just exactly what I was doing.  Beside the fact that this festival is a huge event for Bloomington, marked by serving strawberry shortcake to just over 10% of the entire town's population, we were also raising a very large amount of money for an organization that absolutely needs every bit of our support.  When we first moved to Bloomington and I was asked to join the Auxiliary, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of this group.  We don't just raise money and pass out checks to the BGC, we have scheduled parties and outings with these kids, doing things with them and taking them places they would never get to do otherwise.  Our neighborhood has all kinds of activities for kids, but I can guarantee you, the children that attend the BGC do not have a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt, nor are they able to attend IU soccer camp (but we provide a clinic with the IU coaches and players), nor are they able to afford their own pumpkin to carve at Halloween (but we provide hundreds of pumpkins for them to choose during our Pumpkin Pick party), along with the Halloween Party, Valentine Party, Tennis Clinic, etc.  

So, while my kids got tired of me saying, "I can't go here, or do that because of Strawberry Festival", they don't hear that very often, but the kids we help hear "I can't" a lot.  Well, that's it . . . I've officially completed my five-year term on the Auxiliary.  It wasn't all peaches and cream, but going out as the chair of such a fantastic event and having an impact on the city of Bloomington as well as the kids of the BGC is a good way to go.  

Thanks for checking in!
xo - jenni

Mothers' Day 2010

This was a pretty busy week, as you will see in the following posts, so my Mothers' Day post is a week late.  However, I was not about to let it pass by because I've been waiting for it since mid-March when my April Southern Living came in the mail.  There are two places I turn to immediately upon magazine delivery - the recipes and the Southern Journal (last page of every issue).  The April issue had my most favorite Southern Journal entry yet, entitled Our Sunday Best.  I've looked for a link to the article everywhere but came up empty, so you're going to have to indulge me as I recreate the article below.  

Our Sunday Best
Will the last church hostess to leave the powder room please grab the Aqua Net?
By Valerie Fraser Luesse from Southern Living April 2010

A friend of mine visited a college campus recently and was aghast to see coeds walking to class in shorts and tank tops best suited to the gym. “My grandmother used to put on lipstick to go to the mailbox," she said wistfully. Our transformation from church-hostess Southern to lost-my-kid-gloves modern sort of slipped up on us. First came panty hose (no need to wrestle those nylons) and hot rollers (so long, bonnet hair dryer), then pantsuits -- in church! With the wave of an unmanicured hand, we had abandoned our half-slips, misplaced our Revlon “Love That Red,” tossed out our teasing combs, and taken up with sensible shoes.

Some icons of our feminine past won’t be missed at all. To that bonnet hair dryer and clear-to-here girdle, we say good riddance. To the teasing comb, we offer a more reverent farewell. Together with Aqua Net hair spray, it gave generations of pageant hair the strength to bear a tiara, and that ought to mean something.

But as we boldly march forward, let us remember that “Mama’n’em” knew a thing or two about style. And I can name three blasts from our past that deserve a comeback.


1. The Easter Dress
We used to start shopping for our Easter dresses before the Valentine’s candy was even stale. An Easter dress was your prettiest, dressiest Sunday-go-to-meetin’ ensemble of the year. It screamed spring: floaty fabrics in pastel colors; short sleeves, puff sleeves, or no sleeves; store-bought or handmade. Pearls required. Hat and glove optional after 1960. If you were under 12, you wore pastel dotted Swiss, patent leather Mary Janes, and maybe a color-coordinated hat with a little elastic band that hooked under your chin. No matter what your age, the biggest challenge was trying not to shiver, since even the Deep South tends to have a mysterious cold snap on Easter (perhaps as a divine reminder that this is a worship experience, not a fashion show).


2. The Mother’s Day Corsage
When I was a kid, if a mother came to church without a corsage from her children, the whole family went on everybody’s prayer list. Now almost nobody buys one, and that’s a shame. Here’s how it works. You choose the flowers for your mother’s corsage based on whether her mother is living or dead. If her mother’s living, she wears roses or carnations in pink or red. If her mother has crossed over, she wears white or yellow roses or an orchid. Everybody gets baby’s breath. Its just the right thing to do. 

3. The Hostess Apron
“When you saw my grandmother’s mint-green organza apron, you knew some cucumber sandwiches were coming out,” my friend Rebecca says. Back in the day, Southern women wore kitchen aprons, which they actually wiped their hands on while they cooked, and hostess aprons, which adorned and protected their good dresses while they served guests. Hostess aprons are all over the Web, so this would be a fairly simple charge to lead if we all work together.

Take the Pledge

Preserving our heritage takes commitment. We have to band together. So ladies, wherever you are, stand up, raise your right hand, and repeat after me: I (your name here), pledge to do my part to bring back the Easter dress. I pledge to order corsages right this minute, before the florist runs out of the good stuff. As for the hostess apron . . . I pledge to tie one on.

So, as the good Southern girl that I am, I vowed to follow these rules.  Annie had a beautiful new Easter dress - we did opt to skip the hat and gloves.  I have begun wearing my apron most evenings when I prepare dinner and then while we eat! :)  And last week on Mothers' Day, I followed the flower rules for my Mom, my Mother-in-Law, and Brian's Grandmother. I didn't go for the corsage, but they did get flowers that indicated whether their mother was living or had passed.  I think some things are important to stick to, and as I take my own personal pledge, these are three that can be fun, while at the same time teaching Annie to appreciate and hopefully pass them on to future generations.

Thanks for checking in!
xo - jenni 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Annie Turns FIVE!!!

I cannot believe I am writing this post - my baby turned FIVE and I do not know where the time has gone.  It seems like just yesterday she was an bitty baby, the best napper in the world, and had no opinions of her own! :) (ok, this last one is sentimental for different reasons!)  Her birthday fell on a Friday, so we celebrated with her preschool class (home-made chocolate chip cookies was the request), and then Friday night at her annual dinner spot - Chili's.  Jack got Annie a radio alarm clock (very specific request for a girl getting ready to start school) and Mommy & Daddy got her a small strand of pearls. She was very excited, and actually seems to understand that the pearls are not part of her dress-up box. 

Annie and her best friend, Courtlyn, are only five days apart, in the same preschool class, and same dance class, so we decided it would be good to have a joint birthday party and invite everyone.  Guess what? EVERYONE came (along with their siblings, both parents, etc.)! . . .  So we rented out the entire bowling alley at the IU Union, set up a craft for each kid, had cake and juice, and opened what seemed like a million gifts.  To be perfectly honest, it was all quite overwhelming, but the girls had a great time, and I learned a valuable lesson about "bigger is not always better".  

My dear friend Kim made the beautiful cake - it tasted as good at it looked.  Completely amazing!  

And just to add more to my plate, I made the girls matching jumpers and bows.  They looked darling and it was fun for them to be twinkies - you know, more fodder for the proverbial wedding videos!

So, happy birthday my precious . . . now please stop growing, I can't be this old!

Thanks for checking in!

xo - jenni

Friday, April 30, 2010

Little 500 - Quite an Education!

So for those of you not from Bloomington (or Indiana), the Little 500 is a bicycle race held annually at Indiana University as a play on the Indianapolis 500 car race.  There is a women's version held on Friday and the men's race is on Saturday.  The riders train all year for this race, and it is serious business!  The competition is fierce, but rest assured, those students not racing have plenty to keep them busy . . . namely copious amounts of alcohol! :)

Ironically, all three of Brian's interns were riders, so we geared up and took this kids . . . not completely sure this was a good idea, but you know . . . when in Rome.  The race was fantastic, several crazy wrecks which resulted in four broken clavicles, a broken nose, and more road rash than you could count (none of which happened to the girls we know, by they way), and a record finish.  But maybe more important, we discovered our personal goals for our children as they look toward their own years in college - we decided whatever degree they may get is secondary to our new motto: don't take a life, don't make a life.  That's right, please don't die or make a baby during those four years in school!! :) 

All in all, the race was fun, we watched with great friends, and Jack & Annie probably didn't even notice all the activity around us . . . just another Friday night in a college town!

Thanks for checking in!
 xo - jenni

April Showers . . . . The Wedding Kind

Brian's cousin Christine (who now goes by her first name, Anna, just to make it all fun!) is getting married and the fun is really getting started!  Annie is one of the flower girls and is eating up every bit of that role!  So Annie and I hosted a wedding shower last weekend and it all came off without a hitch.  Despite the pouring rain, everyone made it safely to the Mexican inspired afternoon, Christine got lots of great presents, and I fell asleep on the couch at 8:00!

The menu consisted of:
Mexican Chopped Salad w/ chipotle vinaigrette
Quesadillas w/ cheddar, pepper jack, and queso fresco
Homemade Guacamole and Salsa with tortilla chips
Sopapilla Cheesecake with strawberries and blueberries
White Sangria, Pomegranate Iced Tea, & Lemonade

And of course, no Southern Girl would be worth her name without a Party Favor - in this case, Sweet & Spicy Pecans (yes mom, these are your favorites!)

It has been such fun to be a part of these pending nuptials and I can't wait to see the beautiful bride with her precious flower girl on June 12th. (and no, I'm not one bit biased!!)

Thanks for checking in!
xo - jenni