Star Wars Costume Exhibit

The Cincinnati Museum at Union Terminal is under construction, but they still have exhibits and their children’s museum open to the public. When we found out that our days in Cincinnati coincided with a traveling Star Wars exhibit we knew we had to put that on our list.

They had everything from a light saber battle:

To Hans Solo and Chewbacca:

There was Boba and Jango Fett:

And many more costumes from both sides of the force:

For Star Wars enthusiasts like my boys it was very cool to see the actual costumes and all their detail, especially Darth Vader:

And per our usual, the boys watched every single video on costume production from beginning to end:

The exhibit itself is not very long, however, the boys extended it by watching the videos, and there was a really cool set of allusion mirrors at the end where you could dance like a storm trooper, C-3PO, and Darth Vader. It wasn’t an exhibit that I would have driven a long distance just to see, but it was definitely worth going to since we were in the area. My favorite part was seeing the interweaving and details of the designs, and the boys liked the interactive (light saber controlling, short film) parts of the exhibit.

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Cincinnati Zoo

By far one of the largest zoos we’ve visited, the Cincinnati Zoo is one that you really need two days to see everything. However, we only had one day to spend, so we skipped a few of the exhibits (insects, specifically), but the boys were troopers and most of it we did see.

It was hot, but the zoo does a good job of providing lots of shaded areas and walkways.

There were also several areas in the zoo where you can interact with the animals:

And get very close to them:

If you can’t tell from that picture, J is sitting under Flash (the sloth):

And there’s just a stretch of (heavy) glass separating you and a Komodo dragon:

Who meandered over towards J as he was examining him:

And even animals lounging in the shade can eventually be spotted:

There’s also a large savannah area with okapi, ostrich, pelicans, and vultures:

This is reminiscent of the set-up at The Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World. You can also walk almost 360 degrees around the savannah, which gives you great views of all the animals.

We’ve wised up over the years with our boys and we always do three things. 1. Eat lunch early (we ate right at 11), which avoids crowds and stops them from saying they’re hungry over and over. 2. Plan a snack treat two hours after eating (obviously our boys function better with food):

3. Let them read all the signs and don’t rush them through stuff.

We managed to get a few pictures of all of us:

And treated the boys to matching red pandas (their pick) at the end of the day!

It was definitely worth the trip!

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Friday Favorites on a Saturday

It’s s’more season!

Books to add to my summer reading list.

Long lists help you brainstorm better! Yeah, they do!

The art of successful storytelling to create better communication.

Great idea for spicing up our favorite slow cooker pulled pork.

Vivid and bright art studio with awesome collage inspiration.

 Simple and gorgeous summer looks. With these shoes.

Homemade dole whips to tied us over until our next Disney trip.

And finally, when J was two he bought me Wonder Woman pajamas because “she looks like Mommy and they’re strong”.

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Chicken spaghetti

This is my take on a Pioneer Woman recipe. I substituted the items the boys don’t like (olives, mushrooms), and cut the recipe in half (or more). It was still more than enough for four!


2 chicken breasts poached for 20-25 minutes in boiling water (save the water)

1/2 lb of spaghetti broken into pieces and cooked until al dente in chicken poached water (after chicken is done)

1 diced pepper

3 tbs flour

6 tbs butter, divided

1 1/2 cup cooking liquid from chicken water

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, divided

3 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350. Poach chicken until done, then remove 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid. Chop cooked chicken into bite size pieces. Then add spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain. While the spaghetti is cooking, melt 2 tbs butter in a sauté pan and then sauté diced pepper on medium-high until cooked (3-5 minutes). Remove pepper and add the remaining 4 tbs of butter. Turn heat to low, then melt butter, then whisk in flour. Once flour is melted into butter and the 1 1/2 cups cooking liquid and whisk. Then add milk and whisk. Finally add in Parmesan and stir until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss cooked spaghetti, pepper, parsley and chicken in Parmesan sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Then pour into a greased 9×13 dish. Add Parmesan on top and cook until bubbly, about 25 minutes.

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Trails & trails

Before the weather gets too hot and we have to do any hiking really early in the day we headed out on two different hiking excursions this past week.

First up, the boys and I started venturing through our closest trail, The Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary :

This particular trail is a flat elevation for the part we walked:

And once you get past the beginning of the trail it is shaded:

It also has a shaded bench area at the start to bird and animal watch:

It was a good thing the weather was nice and a little breezy because we were still hot and sweaty by the time we returned home:

Then the next day my Aunt and Uncle were in town, so our whole family headed out to hike one of our favorite trails at Hayes Nature Preserve:

I think we’ve only hiked this trail in the winter, so it was definitely different to see it all in the late Spring:

We found a cool little cave:

However, I think the kids’ favorite part were the rocks to climb at the end:

And a fuzzy caterpillar to inspect was also the talk of the morning:

We had a great time adventuring through the forest!

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Friday Favorites

School’s out for summer! I’m rejecting my slight-A type need to create a list of summer fun, instead I’m getting out with the boys and we are creating summer fun in the moment. Not that I don’t love a good list! However, after a really busy school year we are going to spend some time being plain bored, watching cartoons late, taking long walks, vegging at the pool, crafting, making fun foods, and reading! I guess we do have a bit of a list after all 🙂

For when the boys are older and we can tackle more adventurous hikes.

Easy cinnamon sugar donuts for one of our fun recipes!

A’s sweet teacher gifted me a book for being a room mom this year and I literally cannot put it down. It’s awesome.

Clean and fresh bedroom in four unique ways.

Literally the only people I talk on the phone with are my Mom and sister.

A fabulous shirt dress, I’m trying to figure out if I can re-create it at a more cost effective price.

Strategies for camping with kids. I better read up, I’m pretty sure we have at least three camping trips this fall.

One thing I decided to do this summer (mainly to keep my sanity), is not taking lunch requests from the boys. I never do that during the school year and I’m done running my kitchen like a short order cook for lunch in the summer. That being said I’ve got a list of lunch ideas in my back pocket.

And finally, the craft room of my dreams!

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Last day of second grade

In August of 2016, A entered second grade…

He learned about arrays, higher level addition and subtraction, creating graphs, measuring, and more. He worked on handwriting, story creating, comprehension, and formal vs. informal speaking. He gave presentations on a variety of topics including the giant panda and a chronology of his life. He wants to be an author when he grows up, and math is still his favorite subject.

He is definitely ready for third grade. He loves everything about school, and I’m little worried of how I’m going to keep him from becoming thoroughly bored this summer (thankfully my Mom dropped off a whole stack of math games). However, I’m sure with his brother to create games with, math games, and a stack of new library books he should at least have things to do the first week. Ha!

A loves reading, hiking, and creating books about all kinds of topics. He is always ready to learn anything and everything and I just hope he always retains his love of learning. He is honest and silly and sincere. And we celebrated his stellar gold rally day by going out for frozen yogurt as well.

I loved getting to take each of the boys on their own outings to celebrate the end of school. A is looking forward to moving upstairs next year as he is officially transitioning to upper elementary school. I can’t believe it! We are so proud of our sweet boy!

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Last day of pre-K

In August of 2016…

J began his last year of preschool.

In what seemed like a mere blink of an eye, our baby, the youngest, was suddenly a full on kid. J can count to 100, recognizes all letters, is steadily reading beginning books, and can color inside the lines like a rock star (although I feel like most rock stars color outside the lines). His teacher has commented throughout the year on J’s endless kindness and patience with his classmates.

As he began his last day I asked him a series of J’s favorites questions, so here are my questions and his responses:

What do you want to be when you grow up? Zookeeper.

What’s your favorite movie? Finding Dory. Show? Paw Patrol. Video Game? Mario 3D World. Dinner? Pasta. Tsum Tsum? Eeyore (although I’m pretty sure it’s Stitch & Roo).

What does Mommy always say to you? Get dressed.

What’s your favorite game to play? Freeze tag.

And a few more things that J loves right now: board games, giggling, eating dessert, going to the pool, and going to get frozen yogurt…

Which I treated him to after school on his last day! He met up with several of his friends and ate a whole bunch of candy with a little frozen yogurt and giggled a lot. And if his love of dessert isn’t clear here’s a closer look at that bowl:

A sweet treat for our sweet boy! Both B and I are a little sad that J is leaving his preschool years behind, but we are so proud of him and so excited for everything he’ll learn in Kindergarten!

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Eggs on a waffle

One of our favorite weeknight (or lazy weekend day) activities is to watch cooking shows. Our current favorites are any baking championship, Chopped, and Iron Chef. The boys are so inspired by the shows that they are more willing to try new foods, and have come up with ideas of their own. Hence, J’s latest concoction; eggs on a waffle.

He declared he wanted to make eggs on a waffle one night during Iron Chef Gauntlet and, of course, remembered this the next morning:

And he helped make it as well! My hope is that when the boys go to college they’ll have a stack of food items and recipes they can make on their own. Eggs are a good start.

As you can see J was quite pleased with his finished eggs on a waffle. He decided that he likes eggs “a little bit”. Next time he wants to make the waffles from scratch, too, so we’re off to the kitchen again!

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