Tuesday, July 8, 2014

10 Things I love, and love to hate, about summer.

We're three days into Seattle's Summer, official start date July 5, and we are all collectively in that honeymoon "Look! There's the sun again today!" phase. And when I write "all," I mean all of Seattle.

Summer fun on the playground


There is a palatable lift in everyone's mood. Sunday afternoon I saw a dad completely blissed out as he watched his toddler waffling around in the community wading pool. During my run last evening, I got an unsolicited High Five from a bearded gentlemen giving himself a pep talk before Monday-night trivia at the local tavern. And the delighted laughter from the crowds at Kerry Park, gathered to watch Rainier in all her summer glory, is contagious.

It's not very often that this Southern girl sees 80 degrees anymore, so I hope you don't mind as I tap dance my way through 10 things I love, and love to hate, about summer.

1. More light. In the summer, we have daylight until almost 10PM here, which is like a nice enjoy-it-while-it-lasts gift from Nature, because in the fall the sun has a very early bedtime--lights out by 4:30PM.

2. Less stuff. The simplicity of the season gets me every time. We work a little less. We worry a little less. We even wear a little less. At least, that's the goal, right?

3. Picnics galore. My best friend and I used to take wheat thins and Cheez Whiz to the beach with us for picnics. We covered ourselves in baby oil, which my dermatologist just loooooves to note in my chart (not really, no), and we chatted about what it would be like to actually marry Mr. 8th-Grade Hunk. Now,  I've traded the Cheez Whiz for homemade hummus and the baby oil for SPF Gazillion +, and we talk about what it would be like to actually have a retirement plan.

4. Air conditioning? Meager at best. It rarely gets above 90 here in the summer, but before you start to envy me too much (I see your eyes beginning to roll, Austin friends), consider how the high 80s feels with no air conditioning. It gets a little steamy here in the Emerald City. I only know of one place that has air conditioning, a diner a few doors down from ours. They're very popular this time of year, as you can imagine.

5. This soup, which I'm making tonight.

6. Our community wading pool. The City of Seattle has several wading pools sprinkled throughout the public playgrounds, and ours is open three afternoons a week. Such a simple idea, and so fun.

7. Sun dresses. I've got my eye on this one from Zulily. (Hint, hint, Daniel.)

8. Tomatoes. My fondness for tomatoes developed over time. When I was growing up, my dad ate a tomato sandwich every day for lunch during the summer, and I remember thinking, "Why would you choose tomatoes when you could have peanut butter and jelly?" Now I can't get enough of them. I especially like this tomato-corn toss I found on the Pinterest.

9. Baseball games. In case you haven't met your quota of "singing preschooler" YouTube videos, here's Marshall's version of Take Me Out to the Ballgame from last summer:



Which leads me to...

10. Marshall's birthday. Marshall arrived, 11 days past his due date, during the hottest summer ever in New Jersey, at least it felt that way to me. This year we are celebrating by going to a Mariners' game. Marshall is especially excited about the peanuts and crackerjacks.


This post was part of a #TuesdayTen link-up. You can share your favorite things about summer there, or in the comments below. (Or both. Why not?)


Saturday, July 5, 2014

The tale of 3 car seats, and a little reunion crasher named Arthur.

My real-life version of Goldilocks:

One car seat was too small.

One car seat was workable.

And one car seat was nowhere to be found.

But I'm getting ahead of myself....


Traveling with a preschooler


This last week my dad's side of the family held its every-other-year gathering. We travel to different locations each time, and this year, after much deliberation on our secret Walworth Facebook group (Your family has a Facebook group, right? It's not just mine?), we settled on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Because of the way our award travel worked with Alaska, our best deal was to fly to Atlanta, rent a car, and drive up, which seemed like a great idea when I was booking it. Uncle Cole was enthusiastic. "Adventure," we said!

I packed up Marshall.

Uncle Cole packed up his BBQ sauce.

And away we went.

[Before I continue, I should share that I am unabashedly devoted to Alaska Airlines and really talked them up to Uncle Cole. "Prepare yourself, Cole. They are the best! The BEST!"]

After an hour of sitting in the plane, still at the gate, we heard the following message, "Well, folks. We realized that this plane has no gas, so we're on 'the list' to get fuel. We're not sure how long that will take."

Uncle Cole turned to me, "This is your favorite airline, Lauren?"

Fiddlesticks.

By some vacation miracle, they held the plane for us in Portland, so we made our flight to Atlanta. The BBQ sauce, however, didn't. Instead, the BBQ sauce got a Delta flight to Atlanta. Uncle Cole reminded me that Delta has the little screens behind each seat. So while our BBQ sauce caught up on House of Cards, we got meal vouchers for the Burger King in the Atlanta airport.

Our car seat though? No idea, they said.

Alaska Air loaned us a car seat, which turned out to be too small because I cannot accept that my 3-year-old child is the size of a large kindergartener. Thankfully, Alamo knew better and loaned us a better one. At about 10:00PM Eastern, we were on the road to the North Carolina coast, with a dozing preschooler, an angry uncle, and two car seats, neither of which was ours.

Our 48 some-odd hours in North Carolina were fantastic. I was still working, so I alternated cuddling with babies and working on music festival dinners, catching up with my uncles and selling ads. I tortured Marshall by making him put his feet in the Atlantic Ocean, and I bought some watermelons from the cousin of the cashier I met in the town's General Store. (I received no "We found it!" calls about the car seat.)

Everything was just Walworth-perfect until Arthur.

Of all the East Coast beaches, we happened to pick the one island that had a tropical storm headed its way, a tropical storm that turned into a hurricane.

I grew up in Southeast Alabama, close enough to the Gulf that hurricanes were a common part of our late summer-early fall weather narrative, but this was my first hurricane evacuation. Marshall thought it was monumental enough to document.

Traveling with a preschooler

Thankfully, we got out in plenty of time, and after a few friendly-but-naggingly-persistent calls to Alaska, I was able to get our flights switched. "But we still can't find your car seat, Ms. Thompson."

We spent our time as displaced-by-a-hurricane travelers the only way we knew how--eating as much fried food and drinking as much sweet tea as possible, and when we arrived at the Alaska ticket counter at the airport, there was the car seat, looking appropriately apologetic for its waywardness.

The trip back was the Alaska Air I knew. The plane already had fuel. We departed early. We arrived in Seattle an hour ahead of schedule.

Uncle Cole still wasn't sold. Maybe next time.






Saturday, June 28, 2014

So long, June.

Laundry.

Suitcases.

Packing lists.

TSA-sized contact solution.

Tomorrow morning we leave for North Carolina, and we're in that excited-but-a-little-frantic prep mode. We've been playing "TSA Checkpoint" with Marshall for the last two weeks, in hopes to avoid the issue we had last time we went through a security line. He keeps saying "3 hours old" rather than "3 years old," but at least he's acknowledging that we're his parents this time. Let's hope that lasts through tomorrow morning.

So long, June.

Uncle Cole and I were texting about trip details last night, and I mentioned that I am only checking Marshall's carseat. I was surprised to hear him write that he needs to check his bag. Uncle Cole is an Eagle Scout, a self-proclaimed hippie, a "pack lightly" kind of guy. I pressed him on this a little, urging him to avoid the $25 fee (It'll mean less beer money, Cole!), but he stood firm. Turns out, he's bringing BBQ sauce. (Yep. This is true.)

So before I navigate through Seattle's lovely airport with a preschooler that may or may not confess to being my offspring and a brother who travels with BBQ sauce in tow, I wanted to close out the month with a quick recap.

I shared three of the books we are loving in the Thompson house, including a gem by Toni Morrison that I hope you all run to Amazon to order.

In 500 words (exactly), I announced my plans to start a full-time MBA program this fall, and my Facebook chums got a little irked that I wasn't announcing a pregnancy. (MBA = sleep deprivation without having to change diapers. I would call that a win-win.)

I did my first review and giveaway, highlighting Norwex cleaning products. And Marshall wore a Spiderman suit.

I wrote my favorite post so far, for Daniel on Father's Day. Trying to put their relationship into words turned out to be a meaningful challenge, and the support I received after posting it was heartwarming.  There is a lot of talk about putting your life on the web, about a child's future Google-ability, and that is important. It is. But, I hope Marshall does find that post one day, and I hope the realization of his father's love for him takes his breath away as much as it does mine.

Daniel introduced Marshall to Animaniacs, and now Marshall gives every man, woman, and child an enthusiastic "Helloooooooo, Nurse!" when he sees them. There's video to prove it. 

Another blog first! I posted a link-up for traveling stories and got a tremendous response........well....one response from a tremendously clever blogger I adore. I learned a thing or two about incentives, namely, that I should offer them. Coach Daddy suggested Oreo's, so next time--Oreo's.

And finally, the bread makers of the world wide web demanded biscuits, and I gave in.

Cross your fingers and toes that the BBQ sauce makes it to the OBX.  Pretty please.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Easy Homemade Biscuits


Easy Homemade Biscuits


Some people grow up on corn. Some people grow up on rice. 

I grew up on biscuits. My grandma's biscuits.

Until recently, I lamented the fact that I never asked my grandma how to make them, but over Christmas, my Aunt Faye gave me a quick tutorial. (She's like a Queen of Southern Cooking, a Fairy Godmother of Grits, if you will.)

In the meantime, this little bread recipe started a love affair with social media, and someone asked in the comments if it could be modified for biscuits. I casually responded with my normal noncommittal I-have-no-idea-I-just-make-this-one-simple-but-amazingly-delicious-bread answer, but added that I used my grandma's recipe for biscuits.

Well. 

They wanted it, these bread lovers. I have the emails to prove it.

So here it is. 

My Aunt Faye's biscuit lesson came with bacon, sausage, grits, and eggs from her backyard, but I hope that you'll be happy with the recipe, as I remember it, and a handful of hastily carefully curated images from my iPhone. 


Easy Homemade Biscuits


Ingredients:

2 Cups Self-Rising Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
Buttermilk

Stairway To Biscuit Heaven:

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and vegetable oil in a medium-to-large bowl.

Easy Homemade Biscuits



2. Add enough buttermilk to develop a good doughy consistency. (It takes me about a cup.)

Easy Homemade Biscuits



3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and form into biscuits. (Grease the tops if you like.)

Easy Homemade Biscuits



4. Bake at 450 until golden brown.

Easy Homemade Biscuits


Easy Homemade Biscuits


I personally like to use a Non Stick Silicone Baking Mat on a cookie sheet. I also personally like to drench the biscuits in honey. Just my two cents, though.


Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!



Easy Homemade Biscuits


Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that will take you to Amazon, and if you choose to purchase items, I will receive a small (very small) amount of commission on your purchase. The price is exactly the same for you.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Vacation pre-game.

Next weekend 30 Walworths and countless bottles of wine will descend upon two houses on a North Carolina beach for some good clean Cabernet-inspired fun. It will be Marshall's first time swimming in the ocean. It will be my brother's first time flying with a preschooler. (Send him some good vibes, will ya? He has no idea.)

I let Marshall pick out an almost-4-year-old-sized suitcase for the plane, and we spent a lot of time last week waiting for it to arrive.

Here he is on Thursday.....

Vacation pre-game.



And Friday....

Vacation pre-game.


Once it did make its grand entrance, the suitcase wasted no time in catapulting up the toy ladder to Very Favorite Thing. Marshall wheels it around the house "delivering" everything from Chinese take-out to UPS shipments. He holds it close while he watches Daniel Tiger. He reminds us several times a day that we need to put all of his clothes in there for "our baycation with Uncle Cole." If the suitcase actually makes it to our departure date with all wheels and zippers intact, it will be a miracle.

This past weekend, our extended family has been talking back and forth about preparations. My cousin J spent the weekend doing her pre-trip planning--stocking up on cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, ziplocs, tupperware, etc.--all the important things to make sure to remember.

I went to Target for a new beach hat.

Because, you know, priorities.

Marshall has traveled a lot for his age, but I still get butterflies before we go. I would bet my new floppy fedora that I'm not alone.

I want to hear your traveling stories--with babies, toddlers, preschools, older children--all ages and stages, so I thought I would try a travel-themed link-up/comments. (I was inspired by the blogs-I-check-every-day Camp Patton and Tamara Like Camera to dip my toe in the link-up party water.) Multiple posts and comments are welcome. Tips and tricks are encouraged. Do you have a few nightmares tucked in your back blog pocket? We will commiserate with you. Because...we've all been there. And if you haven't been there yet, Summer '14 may be your season. (Don't worry. Uncle Cole can keep you company.)



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer days.

Summer breeze. It's making me feel fine...and kind of stressed too.

Summer days.

The awesome part of our summer so far:

--I get to hear all of Marshall's jokes, not just the after-school fare, and I have to admit, that in between the outbursts of "poo poo" and "sweaty head" (which he finds hysterical), this little guy is pretty funny.

I posted a video on Instagram of his latest greeting to all of mankind.

Marshall is also determined to be the first person in our household to get his or her "jammies" on every night. So if you see my child at 4:30PM strutting his superman PJs, don't write him off as a slacker--he's actually upholding a winning streak.

--Speaking of challenges, I'm on Week 5 of Daniel's customized get-Lauren-to-run-faster-than-cane-syrup plan. (Off topic: My papa made the BEST cane syrup in Southeast Alabama.)

--And, we are saving some precious pennies by not spending it on preschool tuition during these summer months, which is very necessary, because we have an MBA on the way.

Summer days.


The not-so-awesome part:

--I'm still working the same amount of hours, which means 5:30AM cram sessions before Daniel leaves for work, praying for Marshall to sleep a good 2 hours in the afternoon, and more work after Daniel gets home in the evening. And weekends.

--My laptop suffered an impromptu coffee spill date the other morning. I'm stilling working on finding the silver lining there.

--I not only get to hear all of Marshall's jokes but also Marshall in general. All. The. Time. He is constantly making noise, which includes but is not limited to talking, laughing, singing, humming, yelling, singing loudly, and some version of scatting where he rhythmically utters nonsense syllables that he finds particularly amusing. Most of the time, all of this cacophony is delightful, but I would be lying if I said it was not an adjustment.

One day this week, I had the thought, "Ok. It's lunch time. Maybe we'll have just a few minutes of quiet before we play another round of Bakery Mommy and Bakery Marshall." (We had already made individual cakes for all of the preschoolers in Seattle, after all.) 

I forgot that it's possible to chew and hum (fortissimo) at the same time.

Summer days.



And now there's a glass of wine and a Google spreadsheet calling my name.




Saturday, June 14, 2014

This is a love story.

This is a love story.

Between two men that talk way too fast.

Between two pirates fighting fire dragons from the safety of their porcelain bathtub fortress of a ship.

Between the pusher, with two feet planted firmly on the ground, and the flyer, who wants to go higher and higher and higher.

This is a love story.

Between the beholder and the becoming.

Between the comforter and the comforted.

Between the counter of fingers and the one tucked in tight.

This is a love story.


Between the one with the hammer and nails and the one holding the tape measure.

Between the eyes that know the way and the pair finding every ant in every crack of every sidewalk. 

Between two superheroes, both real and imaginary.

This is a love story.


Between two engineers of trains, planes, and automobiles.

Between two runners, always chasing something. I hope they catch it.

Between two lovers of sugary fried dough, two connoisseurs of artfully-scattered sprinkles.


This is a love story.


Between two hands looking both ways and crossing the street.

Between the everyday routine and the one who finds it spectacularly magical. 

Between the one, and the one who wants to be just like him.

This is a love story.


Between a shoulder and soft, chubby, dream-filled cheeks.

Between a daddy and his little "dude."

Between a father and a son.



This is a love story.





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