What’s Up May

This What’s Up Wednesday post is coming to you a couple weeks late. Typically, I try and send these posts out on the last Wednesday of the month. As I was in the midst of blogging a couple Tuesdays ago, my son asked me if we could read a couple extra chapters of The Hobbit. After that he challenged me to a ping pong face-off and before I knew it the day was gone. I decided to give myself grace and release the post the following Wednesday instead.

Little did I know at the time that the following week we would be in the midst of an unprecedented response to racial injustice highlighted by the murder of George Floyd on May 25th. I didn’t feel comfortable publishing a post that highlights the trivialities of my past month during a period of time when there were so many relevant voices that needed to be the sole focus. Last week, I needed to take the opportunity to listen and learn. It is important to me that I always post with intention. I could not post a social media hashtag, image, banner, quote or black box in good conscience without first determining how I was going to back it up with concrete actions that my children witness. I used last week to determine ways that I can sustainably work towards change and be an anti-racist. I am committed to listening, reading, volunteering, donating and educating moving forward. Parker Posts will be a place that I can share the resources that I find especially helpful in my personal journey and as a parent. I hope that you will share how you are working towards change with me so that we can learn from each other.

I’m finally publishing my What’s Up May post today because even in the midst of fighting for change, its nice to stumble upon a new recipe, talk about cute shoes and make plans on how to best appreciate dad this Father’s day.

What We’re Eating This Month

The arrival of warm weather has allowed us to climb out of the dinner recipe rut we were in. We were able to bring back some of our summer favorites as well as try a handful of new recipes. We tend to grill a lot more during the summer and add at least one dinner salad into our weekly rotation. Here were my favorite recipes that we ate this month:

I requested this delicious Peach Salad with Grilled Basil Chicken and White Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette from Cooking Classy for dinner on Mothers Day. I like to substitute feta for goat cheese. I share this recipe and 2 other summer salads I enjoy in this post.

I was excited to see one of my Trader Joe’s summer seasonal favorites back on the shelf in May. I like to add fresh basil, tomatoes and balsamic glaze to these Sweet Corn, Burrata & Basil Ravioli for an easy and complete meal. Check out the recipe here.

This tasty Balsamic Chicken Avocado and Feta Salad from Cafe Delites was a new addition to our dinner rotation and I am already counting down the days until I can make it again.

This Grilled Chicken Romesco from Good Housekeeping fits all the criteria I look for in weeknight meal. It’s flavorful, simple to prepare and doesn’t take a lot of time. It was also a hit with the whole family.

I have yet to try a recipe from Cooking Classy that I haven’t loved. This Island Pork was no exception. We followed her recommendation and served it with pineapple salsa and coconut rice. This recipe was a taste of summer and made us wish we could jump on a plane and take a tropical vacation.

You can find all the recipes we are eating each month saved to My Favorite Tested & Approved Dinner Recipes Pinterest board.

What I’m Reminiscing About

This is the first May that we haven’t visited the beach over Memorial Day weekend or celebrated the end of the school year swimming with friends. They are probably the two activities I’ve missed most while sheltering in place. Pictures like this and the fact that we have been watching Insane Pools on the DIY network as a family have been a little bit like rubbing salt in the wound. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we will have the opportunity to go to the beach or pool in June.

What We’ve Been Up To

We competed for the title of Family Survivor on Mother’s Day. If your family has a competitive streak like mine, here are the challenges my husband came up with for our game after searching online for ideas. This would make a fun Father’s Day activity too!

Materials: 40 pennies, water balloons, plastic spoons, large sponge, inflatable kiddie pool, 8 buckets, ping pong balls, large disposable cups, t-shirts, gallon size plastic bag.

Challenge #1 Find 10 pennies each that were tossed randomly into a marked area in our back yard. Once one person has found all of their pennies the other contestants can opt to take a one minute penalty for every penny they have yet to find. Next, pick up a water balloon from a bucket using a spoon and carry it over to a trampoline. Set the water balloon aside. Jump on the trampoline 10 times. Carry the water balloon back to the bucket. First person to complete the challenge wins!

Challenge #2 Dunk a car washing sponge into an inflatable pool in the back yard and carry the sponge to a bucket in the front yard. Squeeze water from the sponge into the bucket. Once your bucket has been filled with water up to a marked line, head to the backyard dining table. Standing at one side of the dining table, successfully toss a ping pong ball into a red solo cup filled halfway with water. First person to complete the challenge wins!

Challenge #3 Pick a partner for this challenge. Partner #1 stands behind a marked line in the front yard with a bucket. Partner #2 runs to the backyard with a second bucket and fills the bucket with water from the inflatable pool. Partner #2 runs back to the front yard and attempts to throw the water in their bucket into partner #2’s bucket from 6 feet away. Partner #2 empties the water they have caught into a larger bucket. The first team to fill their large bucket with water to the marked line wins!

Challenge #4 Pick a partner for a water balloon toss. Partners stand 3 feet apart and toss water balloon. After each successful catch, the catcher will take a step back. Last remaining team to catch an intact water balloon wins!

Challenge #5 The night before the challenge soak one t-shirt per player in water. Wad up the wet t-shirt and place in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Close the bag and put it into the freezer overnight or until completely frozen. During the challenge each player receives a baggie. The first player to put their shirt on completely wins. This is a fun challenge and a lot harder than it looks!

If you are looking for a fun way to keep the focus on dad that doesn’t include running or getting wet, check out this printable I shared last June that determines who knows Dad best.

Afterwards we cooled off with with some soft serve from the Meadowlark Dairy. We had heard rave reviews from friends, but never been there ourselves. These creamy soft-serve cones were definitely worth the hype.

What I’m Loving

We tackled two items that have been on our household to-do list FOREVER this past month and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

The first project was replacing all of our rusty, outdated outdoor lighting with something that was more in line with our taste. Staying at home allowed my husband and I the couple hours we needed to scour the internet for the perfect fixture. We easily agreed on this black lantern with seeded glass.

We bought this three tiered planter for the front porch of our first home. After we moved (9 years ago!) it needed a fresh coat of paint before I put plants in it again. This last weekend I finally stopped procrastinating, applied two coats of matte black spray paint, and filled each tier with fresh flowers. We lucked out and were able to snag the very last roll of planter liner left at the nursery! Now my only challenge will be to keep these plants alive.

I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take before photos of either of the projects. You will have to trust me that the after looks a lot better than the before.

What I’m Watching

As soon as I saw that my favorite book of 2019 had an accompanying documentary on Netflix I added Becoming to my watchlist. If you haven’t read the book, the film will give you a tiny taste of Michelle Obama’s memoir. If you have read the book it will enhance some of the stories she already shared and give you a glimpse into the relationships she maintains and forges while on her book tour.

Last month I shared that my son and I were reading The Hobbit together. I have loved the book ever since my dad first read it to me in second grade and have reread it on a couple of occasions. I knew my son would enjoy it as well, but I had a feeling that the length and slow start would discourage him from reading it on his own. I asked him to give me just 10 minutes a night… after all, during shelter in place he had plenty of extra time on his hands. He became invested in the story as soon as the Bilbo and the dwarves started their harrowing journey. Ten minutes soon turned into twenty and we finished the book in a little over a month. To celebrate we watched all three of the Hobbit movies: The Unexpected Journey, The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies. This is a great trilogy for tweens. It has enough adventure, suspense and epic battles to capture their attention without the gratuitous gore that usually accompanies this type of movie. My son was so taken by both the book and the movies that he has already started reading the first book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, on his own. We can’t wait to continue watching the movies together once he is finished.

What I’m Reading

The Art of Racing in the Rain

I had seen previews for the movie The Art of Racing in the Rain and decided to read the book before watching it on the screen. Both versions were equally enjoyable and a bit of a tear-jerker. If you are a fan of A Dog’s Purpose or Marley & Me, I think that you will enjoy this book as well.

Note: The movie, The Art of Racing in the Rain, is a great family flick, but the book has more mature content. Preview this read before you hand it over to your tween or teen.

Mrs. Everything

As soon as Jennifer Weiner shared in a note from the author at the beginning of Mrs. Everything that she had been inspired by the novel Little Women and the movie Beaches (two of my all-time faves), I had a feeling this book would be right up my alley. It did not disappoint! I could not stop turning the pages to find out more about the lives of sisters Jo and Bethie. Pass on reading this if you do not care for books that include sexually explicit material.

What I’m Wearing

These espadrilles have been just the dose of warm weather style my feet have been craving, while managing to hide my un-pedicured toes. The cheery colors and sweet embroidery make me smile. If you are looking for an alternative to sandals this summer, I would recommend a pair of espadrilles. There are limited sizes remaining for the pair I am wearing, but I am linking a few other cute options below.

What I’m Doing This Weekend

I’m meeting my best friend for a walk around the Rim Trail of the Lafayette Reservoir. I’ve only walked around the Lakeside Nature Trail in the past. I am excited to be able to catch up face to face (6 feet apart) and explore a new hiking trail.

Note: I completed the Rim Trail the weekend after I originally started writing this post. A couple of the downhill portions were challenging due to the steep grade and loose gravel. This would not be a good hike for little ones and shoes with a good tread or a walking stick would be recommended. The Lafayette reservoir parking lots, restrooms, drinking fountains, picnic areas, the playground and the Visitor’s Center and trails all remain closed with the exception of the Rim Trail. I parked at Oakwood Athletic Club and walked to the trailhead.

View from the Lafayette Reservoir Rim Trail

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Month

We just opened our last jar of homemade olallieberry jam. Lucklily, Gizdich Ranch is planning to open just in time for olallieberry season. We are going to set aside a day this month to pick and eat berries to our heart’s content before replenishing our jam supply with our harvest. You can read more about one of our favorite summer activities here.

My husband grew up water-skiing during the summer and is at his happiest hanging out on the lake in a boat. We decided to celebrate Father’s Day this year by renting a boat for the day. I can’t wait!

What are you looking forward to most in the coming month? Wishing you well my friendsđź’•

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