Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Umm, is that the Colonel at Popeyes?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010



Maybe you read my touching story about the Pirate Adventure and my Grandmama. Wasn't that ADORABLE! I know!

Anyway, I mentioned in the story that I was 7. And I also admitted to later finding out that it wasn't in fact pirates who had set up our treasure, but my Grandmama.

But memories fail us, or at the very least they tailor to fit our own context and what not. And although that was a killer memory I had of doing something with my Grandmama, apparently, she was not a pirate. (This doesn't surprise me, she wasn't very surly.)

I was talking to my Dad last night, and he corrected me, and I told him I would have to update and asterisk to let people know, but let me tell you, that is not enough.

It was MY MOM who came up with the whole pirate treasure adventure. MY MOM was the mastermind and the surly pirate captain. (Oh, and that makes SO MUCH more sense.)

(MY MOM stuffed red and white stuffed socks and slid them into ruby red slippers and stuck them out from under my sister's bed when she was SO INTO The Wizard of Oz.)

I know. She is pretty rad.

But the real point I want to make here, is CREDIT.

I know that I am first in a long line of people who haven't given MY MOM enough CREDIT for the wonderful things she has done, especially for me. Not only did she choose to be my mom, she made my life better, and more special, and more meaningful in so many ways.

She taught me SO MANY things, and although tried to teach me SO MANY more but I was a pretty stubborn little human, and Mom, you should know I wish I had been more athletic, and I am glad you got me started cooking, and there were so many times when I should have listened to you instead of doing things my stupid way, but I didn't.

And I am sorry. I can't say I would change much, but I wish I would have shown her more respect and more love and paid better attention to the woman she was modeling for me instead of thinking she was 'out to get me' all the time.

In fact, if I could go back and tell my 5 year old self (when I met her) how important this woman would be to me, I would tell that little red headed girl that she was indeed the mom I was always wanting and looking for, that she was an amazing mom and she obviously took on quite a challenge. I would tell little Karmen to be easier and more accepting of this Mom, to listen intently to her, to learn the many things she was so concerned about teaching me.

And I would hug her more.

Because now that I am a mother, it is easier to see my mom as a person. Just a girl with interests and feelings and hopes and dreams and fears. Just a girl who liked to disco dance and ski and play and have a good time. A girl with a dream of her own lake house. Just a girl who was trying to be a mom and guide 3 girls to a happy prosperous, purposeful life, a girl who just wanted to love people and be loved and tried to make the best decisions.

But she was just a girl.

Like me.

I know I mess up all the time, and I hope my kids forgive me. Sometimes I don't know how to respond on the fly, I don't know what to do the first time the kids bite, hit, disobey, run into the street. I know I try to have their best interests at the core of my decision, but I am new at this, still, and sometimes my own desires or emotions flare up and make it hard for me to respond in the best way. In fact, I recognize that I need direction and support and a community to help me grow into the mother I want to be.

And that is exactly why I moved back here. So I am not missing out on all the life lessons my Mom has stored up in her heart. So I am not missing out on her. So my kids don't miss out on her.

Because I DO miss my Grandmama.
And I know how important a Mom is.
And how important a Grandmama is.

Mom? If you are reading this, I LOVE YOU. I tear up in your presence because I feel like I didn't do right by you, and I want to share and treasure every day I have left with you in this world.

Thank you for the pirate adventure. And all the other stuff. You are a beautiful, amazing, wonderful AWESOME of a person, and you don't even give yourself enough credit.

I love you.
The kids love you.
We love you, HARD.

Arrrgh. ;)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Family Sized Fun Grandmama Style

This may be a little all over the place, because I have been that way this week. But mostly, I just want to talk about my Grandmama, so whatever I say will eventually tie into that.

First of all, on Wednesday, while the world was wrapped up in the USA winning a World Cup game (Go USA!) I was on twitter participating in an enormous prayer circle for a little girl who lay dying of cancer. I don't know her, or her family, but my attention was grabbed by her story and the outpouring of love that was manifesting in the form of this twitter prayer group that was hundreds or thousands of people praying for her journey to heaven.

I could barely see through my tears. Tears for her Mama, her twin sister, her family that would have to go on without her. It was heart breaking and powerful and if ever a red carpet was laid out for one's stairway to heaven, it was that day. So many people sending thoughts and prayers and love and support and asking God to make her way easy, since this life had been so hard.

You can read more about Ellie here, read her obituary here, and if you are reading this, please pray for her Mama and her twin sister Grace who have lost a little best friend. How tragic for her mother. My heart is still breaking for her.

My Grandmama died of Cancer 20 years ago, and as I prayed for little Ellie I could feel her presence, and I just became lost in thoughts and memories of her all day. I made BLTs for lunch in honor of her, and mmmmmm did my Grandmama know how to make a BLT. Another thing my Grandmama could do? MAKE YOUR FRIGGEN DAY.

She was AMAZING.

Here is a little story as I remember it from my childhood...

Every year, our family, my grandparents, all my aunts, uncles and cousins, would rent a huge house at the beach in Gulf Shores for a week or two. One year, my Grandmama came up with the most delicious, wonderful adventure for us kids, and I suggest for you to read this, take it in your heart, and recreate it for your kids because it was the coolest thing EVAR!

The adults had taken us kids to a souvenir store to see what little beachy things we would want to take home. I remember picking out a little owl made of teeny little shells. We went for ice cream after that. We didn't buy anything because we were planning to came back later in the week.

The next morning, or maybe the next, when we all woke up, we went for a walk on the beach with Grandmama, as we did most mornings. All of the grandchildren were CRAZY about Grandmama, in fact everybody who met her was pretty crazy about her. She was The Awesome.

So back to the beach. I am maybe 7. Grandmama points at some strange patterns in the sand and says, "I wonder what made that?"

We all start looking for the creature or whatever made this weird swirl in the sand, and there it was. A bottle with a cork in it. And something was inside.

She opened it carefully, and pull out the paper, burnt on the edges, and a map in the middle.

"A treasure map!", Grandmama exclaimed. And we were TOTALLY GIDDY. How freaking exciting! Us cousins were all of 7, 7, 4 and 1, ripe for imaginative play and stories. Still believing in the wild parts of our own imagination. Everything was still magical.

We roused up all the moms and dads and aunts and uncles and started a search party.

"Start at the old crooked tree."
"40 paces East to the crescent shaped sand dune."

Dude, it was so real for us. We were just shaking with fear of pirates and promise of treasure and there were squeals and screams and laughs and I really can't explain the fantasy of it all, but I am sure you can begin to imagine how it almost didn't feel real, we were in a waking dream of suspense and surprise.

After all sorts of paces and instructions and whatnot, we began to dig. And dig and dig and wonder if someone else had found the treasure before us. Finally our shovels struck something and we started scooping the sand from around it with our hands.

It was a large box and it had all kinds of warnings and pirate signs and threats written all over it.

We sat back, amazed and frightened and excited all at once.

As we opened the box, gold coins spilled out, and inside were treasures that we had seen before - the trinkets we had picked out from the souvenir store were all laying among scads of jewels and coins. My little shell owl, jolly roger flags, and candy and all sorts of awesome treasures.

The next day, we all sat down a wrote our own message, including our addresses, popped them in a bottle, corked them and threw them out to sea.

When I got home I had a postcard from someone about a mile down from our cabin that had found my message and sent me a note back.

That is me on the far right holding up my Jolly Roger flag. I know, nice socks with the dress, hunh? I like my bangs.

Here is the part of the story I didn't know about until years later. Grandmama had made all her children and their spouses stay up all night spray painting poker chips silver and gold, and gathering Mardi Gras beads and gifts to fill the treasure chest with. They wrote out the map, and burned the edges, dug a huge hole, set the whole thing up.

Oh, Grandmama, how I wish my kids could have known you. Please do fun stuff like this with little Ellie Potvin and hold her hand in heaven. If anyone could make her feel comfortable in her new home, it is you.

And thank you for everything.

Did your Grandmama make any memories that stay with you forever? Share them!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Japanese Cole Slaw

First of all, I can't be sure this recipe originates in Japan. That is just what we called it at this little deli I used to work at. Also, I didn't have the recipe, just what is left of my hole ridden mommy brained memory.

But it turned out fabulous and I just know you can make it too.

Maybe you are wondering if this recipe calls for bacon. It doesn't. That is just a bonus option - if you are like us, then EVERYTHING is better with bacon.

First of all, check out my garden.

It was established before we got here by someone far better at gardening than I am, so I was privileged to make this slaw with the most locally grown vegetables I have ever prepared and served.

And, you guessed it. That really made it so much more satisfying. Oh, also, my family came over for dinner last night and I got to feed it to them.

So it was pretty much my cheffing fantasy!

Here is where the green cabbage came from.

And here it is in action.
I got the red cabbage at the grocery store. But I wasn't judging it.

Ingredient list:
green cabbage
red cabbage

juice of 1 lemon
sesame oil
vegetable oil
rice vinegar
soy sauce

2 pkg ramen noodles
sunflower seeds
sesame oil
olive oil
Maybe you noticed I didn't exactly give amounts. Oh well. I don't do amounts. But I can give you guidelines and you can still make this work.

First, you want to sliced up your veggies and mix them together. Cut your cabbages in half top to bottom, place them flat side down and slice them at an angle.

Also, you can just buy carrots shreds and eliminate the peeling and julienning.

And collect all your veggies in a big bowl.

Oh, this topping is the best part. Sorry I missed a couple steps in photos, but here is what you do.

Break up the Ramen really well in a skillet and drizzle with olive oil and sesame oil. NOT A LOT OF SESAME OIL. A little goes a long way. Add chopped almonds and sunflower seeds.

Over medium heat, you want to brown the noodles and nuts and seeds and sprinkle the Ramen flavoring, stirring all the while.

I know mine looks a little burnt, but it was still delicious. The flavor pack and the sesame oil help the color, and you want it a little dark.

Now pop that stuff into a paper towel lined bowl and get all the excess oil off. You can just put this to the side as you make your dressing.

So, super important point. MAKE YOUR DRESSING IN ITS OWN BOWL. You are working with some tasty stuff here, and you can ruin it quickly, so trust me when I say don't add the slaw til your dressing is perfect. You can start over if you biff it up.

And that is the kind of commitment I can live with.

You want to start with about 1 1/2 tbsp each of sesame oil and vegetable oil.
Then about 2 tsp of rice vinegar.
A couple of shakes of soy sauce.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Juice your lemon, and add a tbsp of honey.
Whisk it together and taste.
It should be a little sweet but also tangy.
You may need to add more honey.

Taste it again.
Move forward.
Add stuff or start over.
Depends how weird it tastes.

When you have it perf, drop the slaw in and toss.

I always store the crunchies separate and add them as I serve. The topping is really the best part so if you don't mete it out, someone is going to skank them all with their first scoop.
***It is not their fault. This topping is THE BOMB!

Also, Your slaw may last in the fridge for a couple of days, and you don't want soggy crunchies. That just defeats the purpose.

Anyhoo, The hubs thought it was great with this Turkey Club sandwich, then came back later for seconds on slaw with extra crunchies AND bacon.

This is such a perfect summer salad, especially for picnics since there is no mayo involved. Serve it up and thank me later, this is hands down the best slaw I can offer you!

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 21, 2010

Non-Bloggers A Series Jennifer Hajer

Okay, so I will preface my next guest "non-blogger" with this warning. She may have a blog. Or so. But she doesn't really have one like Family Sized Fun, and when I asked her to be a guest "non-blogger", she really only had 1 blog she rarely posted to.

And she was so willing!

So I say she is a "non blogger" who does some "blog posting" and who cares how we classify her, y'all she is gracious enough to indulge me and the readers at Family Sized Fun with a sample of her own kind of family sized fun.

She is revered in social media circles, because she is witty, savvy with her influence, and well, just the kind of girl you want to show up at your mommy's night out as "Wine Jen".

Seriously, "Wine Jen", call me!

::finger phone to ears::

She is @TheNextMartha on twitter, but she is so much more than Martha will ever be.


I first found Karmen on twitter and found her journey to be captivating. When Karmen first wrote about her “non-bloggers” series I secretly wanted in. I’m pretty sure you can’t ask yourself to write on someone’s blog so I was thrilled when she asked me. I don’t write much about my secret power mommy stuff. I love her blog and the name Family Sized Fun is what I’m all about.

Creative Kids equal Creative Messes

As I write this my oldest son is sleeping about 15ft. from me on the living room floor. He has a room. He even has a bed. Today he built a fort behind the couch and asked if he could sleep in it. He hung blankets from the mantle to the couch over to a table which is held by a hefty amount of Martha Stewart magazines. We agreed and there he is. Would you let your kid do that?

You know how you secretly want your kid to be like you in some way. Not the bad stuff, but the kick ass stuff about yourself? I dreamt of a little girl drawing and coloring and painting away with me in our craft room. We would sit and drink our tea while we designed clothes for her dolls and looked at paint chips for decorating her room. Ahhh. Well, I have two boys. Let’s change the dream a little. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to cultivate creativity in my sons but here are a few ways:

Transient Toys: I know that some parents are strict as to how toys are played with. Our toys are all interchangeable. One day Braden was playing with a castle and I noticed that he had taken dominoes and put them all on the bottom. I asked him what that was and he mentioned that they were the tile floor to the castle. I let my kids take a game apart because they want a piece for some other use. Another time he played with his bat cave upside down for two years because he thought it looked more “laboratory like.” I let this creativity happen. I do not insist on my view of how something should be played with to become the ONLY way something should be played with.

Art time: You know what annoys me? 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper. What can a kid possibly draw on that? Maybe a tree. Maybe if it was skinny and had two leafs. I found a local supply store and ordered a roll of packing paper. I’ll cut off 10 ft at a time. This way they can just paint or color their little hearts out. In the summer we do this outside and the neighborhood kids love to come over and each get their own 10ft piece. I’m sort of a celebrity over in this hood. Of course this somewhat relaxed approach does catch up to me sometimes.

One time Braden was in his room for a LONG time. I was too thrilled to be doing dishes and catching up on other things all in quiet. At some point as we know too quiet for too long is never a good thing.

Knock knock


”What are you doing?”

“Building a city”

“Oh, can I see?”

He opens the door and I see an elaborate set up on his train table of blocks, tracks, books, figures, and just all sorts of things. He explains each section to me and even had a sewer system set up under the table. I was so impressed. Honestly, it looked like a mess, but he was so proud of it so you know…..

Wait a minute, what’s that on the WALLS?

“Oh, that’s the elevator shaft and over there is the pipe company, and over there is the dam for the river and over there………

Oh yes, his city went vertical on EVERY wall in his room.

Again, he was so proud and I was really trying not to blow my top.

I talked myself down because I only buy washable crayons and markers so it should come right off.

I’ll even make him help.

Just in case you were wondering: DRY ERASE marker does not just wipe off walls.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A New Focus

There are so many aspects that go into an interest/hobby/career of photography. And since I got started, I have dabbled in lots of different subject matter, but something keeps calling me back to pets.

I have just always loved working with animals, and I will make out with strange dogs just walking down the street, so it feels really good and right, and like a puzzle piece that fits.

I spent Saturday with Ono at her groomer, working on a little "gallery opening" project I have been working on.

And although Ono wasn't crazy about modeling (or receiving) services, I am pretty sure this is the best idea I have had in a while.

These ladies work HARD. I mean, I think some people think they drop their dog at the groomer to be hosed down as though in the back yard, but these ladies clean these dogs inside and out, top to bottom, five ways til Sunday.

This is Max, one of the owner's kids.

He has been waiting for a girl like me to lay down in front of him for a while. He had LOTS of kisses for me.
GORSH, Max. You can kiss me with that mug any day.

And Gidget? She a tiger of a model. High fashion, low maintenance. Just like I like them.

I just don't know if she is cuter wet or dry.

Yep. she really is as sweet as she looks.

And Matilda? Don't get me started.

Come up and see me some time, big boy.

Waiting around at the doggie salon.

Cooper. Great eyebrows on that guy.

And OH LAZARUS, give me back my heart.

Happy camper.

Phyllis Diller

Their most gossipy client.

China was such a clown. And a ham.

I love her. She reminds me of our old Zoie.

Gorgeous Leo.
And China again.

I just realized, laying in the dog hair, taking my licks and getting my clicks, this is my thing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pretty Settled In

Most of the boxes are unpacked now. We still have a small pile of "what do we do with this?" and we will be adding a few more pieces of furniture and rearranging what we already have, but we are settled in to our new home and we are all very comfortable here.

I love love love the floor to ceiling windows. It keeps everything lofty and light and makes me feel like I am walking through the pages of a decorating magazine.

I am home.
Eden is also home. She is very happy and over-adorable. Seriously, she could tone it down.

Every room in this house is my favorite room. I love the Florida Room. What's Florida without a Florida Room, anyway?

And the terrazzo floors are amazing. They help keep everything light and cool and other than being super hard floors on impact, they are (any guesses?) MY FAVORITE!

And I love this kitchen. I could do a cooking show in this kitchen. In fact, I pretend a cooking show on the daily right here in this kitchen.

What a great window.

Please, bring me your dirty dishes. I can handle anything while gazing out of this window.

Did I mention "HAPPY" ?

What about "adorable"?
Need more milk Mom.

And here is the big picture of our main living space.

I am hoping to find a big farm table for our dinners.

And did you see my ABC wall?

I love it.
Still gathering letters, but I am sure you can see where I am going with this...

And no house would be complete without a little feline love.

There are actually 2 of them and they are about 12 weeks old. BOYS. Outside eeeows as soon as they are old enough. Until then, they stay in the bathroom, and if Madee wants to play with them she has to go into the bathroom, tell them to "go potty" and go potty herself.

So far, there is a rising interest in pottying.

I know, stupid and genius rolled into one.
© 2011 Designs by Dana