Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving time again and it was a wonderful day of food and family. The California Bradshaws were missed but there are plenty of pictures to go around! Reilly had a great time keeping up with her cousins and it was so great to see family and catch up on everyone's news. Here are some pictures of the craziness and I can't wait for Christmas so I can see everyone again!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Young Love...

How many of you remember your first crush?...Or your first true love? Some of you married your high school sweethearts, like my neighbor. They've been together since she was 19 years old and moved to Arizona to be with him and start a family. I don't think any of us can forget how strong and marvelous those first feelings of romantic love are. Nik met Sidney, in school, 2 years ago-this month. She's a really wonderful girl and I think they are great together. It's really cute (Nik would roll his eyes at me if he could read this) that Nik anticipates their "anniversary" and talks about what he wants to get her. I love hearing the excitement in his voice when he talks about getting to see her on the weekend and how much he misses her when he comes out to see me. I can't help being a mom though and worrying about that first heartbreak either. I guess, as Khalil Gibran says, "He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy."

Here is their Prom picture and I thought all of you would enjoy seeing Sidney and what they look like together. Holy crow! I had a baby girl who learned to walk and a 16 year old son who went to his first prom this year. I have to go take an asprin :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The next step...

Today something amazing happened. Well...okay....amazing to me. When I get home from work today, Eric tells me that Reilly did something today that he's never seen her do. Today, Reilly put her Raggedy Ann doll on the couch and fed her a bottle. That's right, Reilly played pretend. My little girl is entering the realm of "lets play dolly." I loved my dolls, as a little girl, and wondered if Reilly would enjoy them, too. I wondered if dolls were becoming a thing of the past with Brats dolls and battery operated Barbies their eventual replacement. When her Uncle Len and Aunt Linda gave us a bag of well loved stuffed animals (some of them in the family for years!) I unpacked them to place around Reilly's room and discovered the bag included a Raggedy Ann and Andy set. I absolutely love them and so it tickles me that Raggedy Ann was the first benefactress of my little girl's tender ministrations. Too cute!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One of our favorites....

I just HAD to share this recipe. We've made it several times for ourselves or as a great dish when entertaining guests. We love it because it's quick and simple yet elegant and mmm mmm good. It doesn't leave you in the kitchen for hours and it's quick and simple clean up. Give it a try and let me know how you like it! Oh, and I usually pair it with buttered new potatoes and chives. Delish.

Salmon and Puff Pastry with Pesto


* 4 pieces of purchased puff pastry, each cut to be just larger than a piece of salmon
* 4 (4 to 6-ounce) pieces salmon
* 1/4 cup sliced almonds
* 1/4 cup purchased pesto
* 2 tomatoes, sliced


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a foil-lined baking sheet, place the 4 pieces of puff pastry. Also place the 4 pieces of salmon, being careful to make sure they are not touching. Sprinkle each piece of salmon with 1 tablespoon of the sliced almonds. Bake for 10 minutes.

To serve, place each piece of puff pastry on a plate. Top each puff pastry with 1 tablespoon of pesto. Top the pesto with 2 slices of tomatoes each. Top the tomatoes with the salmon and serve.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Babysitters and Citation Street Irregulars

I realized, after reviewing several posts, that the phrase "neighbor girls," or "babysitters" comes up rather frequently. Allow me to make a formal introduction! Lisa and Autumn are 14 years and 12 years, respectively, and have added much joy into our lives. They live at the end of the block and, once I came out of hibernation (following Reilly's birth), they came down to introduce themselves and offer their services as babysitters. I agreed wholeheartedly and a few minutes later, I was comfortably ensconced on the couch visiting with Mary (their mother) while the girls entertained a much delighted Reilly. The friendship was born and an adventuresome and educational Summer ensued. Lisa and Autumn are the movers and shakers of our neighborhood. They organize neighborhood walks, encourage us to support school fundraisers, tow us along to "walk for breast cancer," throw together last minute BBQ parties, take Reilly to the park and make sure the neighborhood is doing it's part to recycle (see previous entry), keep the yard clean, and keep our neighborhood ties strong. If someone is sick, injured, or needs food-Lisa will be the first to know and make sure that something is done about it. If a good time is to be had, you can bet Autumn has something to do with it. They are delightful and amazing and I'm sure our neighborhood is what it is, in large part, because of them. Since I'm sure to mention them frequently, I thought it only proper to make sure you understood their role in our lives and how much we appreciate them! All Hail the Babysitters and the Citation Street Irregulars! The picture posted was at Halloween last year. Reilly is the kitty and the Lisa is the little blondie on the left, while Autumn is the blondie on the right. Stehanie and Nik (the scream mask) are a part of the Citation Street Irregulars-so named by my clever husband :)

I am the cause of global warming...

according to the two neighbor girls that babysit Reilly. I am ashamed to tell you this but I laugh at the same time. Let me explain. Saturdays, in our neighborhood, is "yard day." Most everyone is out pulling weeds, mowing, trimming hedges, watering, planting, re-planting and so forth. It's really great because we help each other out, visit, share ideas and solutions and generally hob knob. During one such Saturday, the "babysitters" pointed out that I wasn't using the recycle bin that was provided to us *gulp*. Therefore, I was the cause of global warming. After all, they said, "Do you want sweet little Reilly to grow up in a pile of garbage!" Point taken. Doesn't matter how much I've done to contribute to the environment if I don't recycle. SOOOO today I clear out the recycle bin and move it next to the back door so I can properly dispose of aluminum, paper and plastic. I can't believe that I haven't done it until now and I had to ask myself "why?" The truth? I'm a slave to convenience. There it is-I said it. One of my biggest vices (I won't go into what the others are but yes, shoes are on the list)is convenience. I hate clipping coupons and foregoing paper towels. It would be so much easier to spend, waste and let someone else worry about it. But I AM the someone else, as my beloved babysitters pointed out. I don't want my son and daughter growing up in a pile of garbage. So the blue bin will sit out in front of my driveway, on Tuesday mornings (they told me), henceforth. Hmmm...maybe now would be a good time to start composting too. So much for not having a pile of garbage! :)P.S. for those of you interested in Global Warming Click Here for More Info

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I've got to do something...

I was watching the news and commentaries on television last night and, as usual, had to walk away. It's so depressing. Energy crisis, violence, selfishness, deception, gossip, vanity...on and on. I'm sick to death of it but I can't stop thinking about it. My problem is that I want it to be better but I feel so utterly useless. What difference could I make? Hopelessness was starting to eat at me. Then I read Jessica's blog about the Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Irena Sendler (thanks Jess). If you're interested, please check out her blog at Here is someone who DID SOMETHING. She was one person but she inspired others. To every person whose life she saved, she made HUGE difference. She has inspired me. I can't solve world hunger but I can feed the people in my community who are hungry. I can volunteer, I can get involved. I can do something, too. So, I started researching online and found a really great site: because it lets you choose where you want to help, how much you want to help and what you can do to get started. I'm starting by volunteering Sunday nights. I prepare a meal and take to a nearby parking lot where dozens of other volunteers meet (courtesy of the Giving Tree Organization) to set up tables and chairs and feed the homeless. I found out that there are over 2000 homeless children in Tucson alone. That is shocking. That makes my problems seem small. It gives me perspective and gratitude. I can do something. I WILL do something. Will you?

How a boy becomes a man...

Nik's visit was a couple of months ago, now, but I still can't get over how much my little boy has grown up. I KNOW he's sixteen. I KNOW he's got 2 years of high school left before entering the big grown-up world but I can't BELIEVE it. Until this Summer. Allow me to illustrate. I was driving Nik and his cousin, Brandon, home from Mesa when the tire blew on the car. Luckily, we were nearly at the end of the off ramp (Prince Rd.) heading into Tucson. When I say "blew" I meant it shredded. I, of course, was completely beside myself. I learned how to change a tire when I was a sixteen year old in driver's ed. That was *cough* a little while ago and rather than risk making my situation worse, I called my wonderful husband and asked him to ride to my rescue. True to form, he promised me that he was on his way (Reilly being watched by the adorable neighbor girls with whom she's formed a mutual admiration society) and I set out to wait for my rescuer. That is precisely when I was notified that my rescuers where already there. Nik gave me a very typical teenage boy sigh and casually asked me to "pop the trunk." Brandon was right behind him when he exited the car. A lot is going through my mind here. "Can the eternally 5 year old boy in my head change a tire? What if he hurts himself? I should really give him the chance if he wants to try. Maybe I should wait for Eric. I can't coddle him forever!" And on. And on. Then I notice that he's already got the tools out of the trunk and the spare tire to boot. I decide to get out and watch. They are pros. Both of them. They get the lug nuts off in a flash and even remember to get a towel out of the trunk to grab them with because they are searing hot (I'm ashamed to admit that I wouldn't have thought of it until AFTER I burned my hand). The old tire comes off, the new one on. Lug nuts replaced and tire and tools being loaded as my husband arrives on the scene. Am I flabbergasted? Yes. Am I amazed? Yes. Am I feeling somewhat stupid because I belatedly realize that they've been discussing cars for the better part of the ride home and I hadn't noticed how much they know about CARS?! Yes. But most importantly, I proud? YOU BET. I'm having an epiphany. My SON and my NEPHEW have rescued me. ME! Their mother and Aunt. They are no longer boys in my mind but rather young men. When did they grow up and learn how to change tires and remain un-phased by imminent disaster? When did they learn how to put MY mind at ease and tell me that it's "going to be alright?" In short, when did they begin to grow up? I don't know. Some would say it started the day I first gazed into his sweet little face. Some will say that a lot happens to a boy between the ages of 15 and 18. It's hard for me to tell because these last few years I have loaded a 13 year old on a plane and gotten a 14 year old back. Every time he comes back I see the little and not-so-little changes. He is taller. His shoulders are broader. His voice is deeper. He is better at hiding his feelings when he wants to. He is more tuned in to the feelings of others and more willing to sacrifice his own wants for the good of another. It is hard to look through "mother eyes" and see my baby boy as a grown man. I want to hang on to my memories of when he was all mine and needed me and I was the center of his world. It is hard to admit that his world is growing and includes people I don't know and places I haven't been. It is hard to let go and let him make choices. But I must and I do. Because I love him. My fear is that my baby bird will leave the nest and I haven't taught him properly how to fly. This Summer showed me that he had wings and could fly before I was ready to let him try. How ironic! Isn't it funny and wonderful how such little mundane things, like having your tire changed by your teenage son, make the world look so different all of a sudden? Wow.

Taking flight...

This is one of those nonsense, once-in-a-lifetime shots that just sorta happens. I was tossing Reilly in the air and she was laughing and squealing when Eric caught this shot...I just HAD to share. Still makes me chuckle whenever I see it!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumn is here!

I just have to take a moment and say I'm so glad Autumn is here. I'll admit that I would love a little cooler weather and some colorful foliage but I'm happy nonetheless. As winne the pooh says, "hot chocolate-y mornings and marshmellow toasty evenings..." I quite understand! Yay for Autumn!

Back in the saddle

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let everyone know that that the Robbins family has not disappeared from the face of the Earth! We are here and adapting to many changes. The least of which is that Eric starts a new job with Dunn and Bradstreet on October 14th. This job has many opportunities for Eric and he is excited to get started and see where this new adventure takes him. I am still working full time (having gone back to FT after Nik went home in July-for those of you who didn't know) and enjoying the opportunity to help and work with patients again in the dental field. Of course, I would rather be at home with our sweet little Reilly, but for the time being I am grateful for the work. Reilly loves her childcare provider, Rosy, and her little playmate Brianna. Everyday when I pick up Reilly, Rosy has some funny story to tell us about our little imp. I'm glad that she has such a wonderful person to look after her while I am away. Nik is doing well and is proving hard to reach on the phone. I guess I shouldn't be surprised now that he's a full fledged teenager and having a life of his own. He has been looking for a job lately and is anxious to start making some extra cash. He is still dating Sidney and I'm hoping to upload a picture of them together so you all can rib him appropriately ;) I know that's the short, quick version of the updates but I'm hoping to be a little more diligent with updating here. I have some really great photos of everyone to post and can't wait to get them up. Until then...!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


First, let me say that Nik's visit has come to an end and he went home last Sunday. We had a REALLY great time and I love every second that he gets to be here. He's grown up into a young man since the last time he was here and the change is remarkable. I have pictures that I'll be posting this weekend (never fear) but they will have to wait until then because I've returned to work full time (Mon-Thurs) and this week has been full of making that adjustment. There is one thing that couldn't wait, though...

I am so grateful for my family. All of you. You make make sure that Nik feels so included and loved while he is here (and even when he's not) and I can't tell you how much that means to me.

I want to especially say thank you to Katrina and Jason who helped make this trip possible. Eric and I were planning to bring him out at the end of August so that we could be more prepared, however, Nik's dad had some last minute time restrictions and it was either bring him out at the first part of July or not see him until Christmas-or worse-next Summer. Katrina and Jason were so great about making sure that Nik was able to come out and I can't thank you enough for making that happen. Those moments that I have with Nik are priceless.

I also have to say thank you to Jason and Jessica for going out of your way to try and make the California trip work. I know that there were last minute things that prevented it from happening (all on our end) but you guys are ALWAYS there to try and make sure we can bring the boys out for a great visit. Jessica's optimism is truly her gift and you both are so generous and hospitable. Not to mention the coolest people ever to host a visit. I'm sorry it didn't work out and I have to say THANK YOU for once again making the offer and doing all you could do to try and make it work.

Finally, I have to say a thank you to Keith and Wendy for the absolutely thoughtful surprise I got in the mail today. I came home from work and a UPS truck pulls up and delivers me! I ask if Eric sent me flowers and he raises an eyebrow before saying..."uh...nooooo." He then takes the box and tells me that he gets to read the card first if an anonymous person sends "my wife" flowers. He hands the card to me. It's from Keith and Wendy. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. They've sent me beautiful roses because they know that it's hard for me when Nik goes home (unbelievably hard) and they want to tell me that I'm a good mom (I'm crying now)and offer to help to make sure he gets to come for Christmas. There aren't words to tell you how deeply I am touched.

I tell you this, unashamed, because being out of work has meant making sacrifices but instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, Eric and I have had tremendous opportunity to feel the love and support of our families (both Bradshaw and Robbins) and I marvel at our many blessings. To all of you...we feel grateful to have you in our lives, grateful to know that we belong to such a wonderful, warm and loving family. Thank you for making these last 7 months more bearable, for making our sacrifices seem small in comparison to the outpouring of love, support and help and for making it possible for Nik to come and be with us so that we can have our whole family together for awhile. We are truly blessed.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

a little time for yourself...

Summers are crazy. I don't know what happens between November and April that cause me to forget this but each June I seem to realize this for the "first" time...all over again. So for all you busy people out there, here is a moment just for you. Turn off my background music, press play, lean back and enjoy....(to maximize the video to full screen, click the "full screen icon on the bottom right of the video window)

Monday, June 23, 2008


Nik is coming...YAAAAY! Nik is coming for his Summer visit from June 29th through July 13th. We are so excited for him to get here and I'm especially excited for Brandon to come and stay with us while he's here. They are my entertainment! More news on what will be going on but I couldn't wait to tell everyone....NIK IS COMING! YEAAAAAAY!

Fresh smelling house...

I admit that one of the biggest adjustments, for me, with green cleaning is that I no longer had the familiar smells of a clean house; heavy pine scent, bleach, clorox, etc. Instead, after the intially faint smell of vinegar the first hour, I smell...well, nothing. So when I came across these homemade and safe recipes for room freshners, I thought I would share. Again, they are courtesy of Care2 website but I couldn't wait to share:

This couldn’t-be-easier recipe makes enough for five cups of mist, enough to share with a friend. Use liberally on non-staining surfaces or simply spray upward in the center of the room, being sure to avoid contact with eyes.

Use an eyedropper to place the following in a small glass jar with a lid (a baby food jar is ideal)–
20 drops sweet orange essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Mix well. To use, add 4-8 drops of this base to one cup of purified or distilled water in a spray bottle, shaking to mix. Store in a cool, dark place.

Spicy Summer Potpourri

This potpourri looks lovely set out in a bowl, or stored in little potpourri bags.

Base: a combination of any or all of the following, thoroughly dried–
orange peel, marigolds, chrysanthemums, lavender, asters, Queen Anne’s lace, star anise seeds, cinnamon powder or sticks, whole or powdered cloves

Oil scents: a few drops each–
Sweet orange essential oil
Lavender essential oil
Clove essential oil

Sprinkle dried base with oils and mix well. Refresh base with a few drops of oil whenever needed.

Vanilla Odor Remover

The vanilla bean has properties that reduce odors! Try this super-easy trick for removing smells you don’t want:

1 to 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

Just put the vanilla in a small cup anywhere you want air freshening.

Summery Stovetop Freshener

Mint is a wonderful freshener that gives an uplifting feeling to the atmosphere. You can use either fresh or dried mint in this formula.

A handful of mint leaves
8 cups of water

Combine all the ingredients in a pan on the stove. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer. Replace the liquid when needed as it evaporates.

Cinnamon Trick

I have a small terra-cotta pot filled with ground cinnamon sitting near my desk. I get wafts of the sweet fragrance all day long.