Thursday, June 28, 2012

The ups and downs of summer

What I love about summer:
-          Garden veggies
-          Blackberry walks, followed by making cobbler with the boys
-          Apple “cris” with our own apples
-          Staying up late blog-stalking random people
-          Sleeping in (sort of)
-          All my brown boys
-          My brown man!
-          Swimming at the neighbor’s pool
-          Reading a copious amount of books to the boys
-          School at home
-          P.E. at home
-          T-ball
-          I get to be with my whole family 24/7 for 90 days

What I’m not so crazy about this summer:
-          So much time; so little of it for me
-          Even though I have much more time to clean, my house is a constant wreck!
-          Ticks
-          Flies
-          Wearing shorts and/or swimming suits in public
-          Attempting to corral and muzzle Max at story hour
-          Chasing Max off of the T-ball field
-          Dial-up Internet (snore)
-          Sibling rivalry
-          I am with my whole family 24/7 for 90 days

Monday, June 25, 2012

A veggie by any other name...

…may actually make it down their tiny gullets!

So… we have a huge, prolific garden. Exciting, huh? But not when you harvest two grocery bags of produce EVERY DAY. And 3/5 of your family won’t eat 3/5 of what’s in the bags. But last night, I came up with a genius plan, if I do say so myself. I made crispy veggies, then put them on the table – not on the three plastic plates. Nothin’ like placing something just out of reach to make it irresistible.  Then, I donned my best pirate accent as I casually (or as casual as a pirate can be) helped myself to the “gold doubloons.” As if on cue, I suddenly had two pirate companions, and a noisy parrot, all begging for doubloons. They ate them with gusto. The doubloons even elicited one of Max’s goat-bleats, usually reserved for ice cream and candy. Midway through the meal, though, one of the pirates got smart. “Mom, are you trying to trick us?” Reed-beard asked, sheepishly. “What do you mean?” I asked, trying to sound innocent. “Is this really eggplant?” Phew… I knew better than to try my little ruse with the bane of my boys’ existences. I could honestly answer that it was NOT eggplant, though I did have to later fess up that it was squash and zucchini. Too late, though – they already admitted to liking it. Now if I could only fashion an edible dragon out of eggplant …

Gold Doubloons
-          Veggies
-          Egg
-          Shake and Bake

1)      Cut veggies into medallions
2)      Dip in egg, then coat with Shake and Bake
3)      Place in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet
4)      Bake at 425 degrees for 15 mn, or until golden enough to pass for doubloons

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


A year or so ago, Ryan and I decided that we'd use our summers to supplement the boys' education. We have a few qualms about public education that I won't go into, but we figured “summer homeschooling” couldn’t hurt. Anyway, every day after nap time I've been doing a little lesson with the boys. We've:
- practiced writing letters in Jello powder (with plenty of licking in between)
- sorted sounds with sidewalk chalk
- let Reed read books ALL BY HIMSELF!
- made up math stories with trail mix (2 peanuts were playing. 3 M & Ms came along and said, "We wanna play, too!" How many friends were there all together?)
- practiced color names with Max using markers, freezie pops, and by bribing him with M&Ms (The boys were the teachers here - I ate all mine too fast. "Say yellow, Max! You can have the M&M if you say yellow!)
- ate freezie pops and read a butt-load of books on the porch swing
- practice "oo" words with Cheerios (lots of food activities, I know. What can I say? My kids might be tubbas, but at least they'll be nerdy, too.)
- wrote an original story, then took pictures and narrated to make a movie (still working on that project)
- "jumped words" by making letters out of our body on the trampoline, while jumping (I think this was the most challenging lesson for Mommy!)

The boys have loved school so far. I try to take the weekends off, but more often than not, they beg for Saturday school. They like the attention, and their genes are at least 50% dork, so learning is actually fun for them. They always refer to me as “teacher.”

The other day, Max and I had doctors' appointments, so Ryan did the lunch and nap routine with the bigguns. I came home about the time school is scheduled. I walked in to find all three doing plyometrics across the living room floor. "We're doing P.E., Mom!" They announced excitedly. I guess they had talked Daddy into school, but he chose his own subject matter.

The next day, the boys came up with the idea that they could have P.E. every day as their "special class." Ryan agreed. They’ve practiced catching skills, sprints, jumping squares, and pull-ups on a pole that Daddy held. I’m not sure who loves it best. Reed and Calvin eat up the attention and challenges. They call him “Coach,” of course.  They do some of the drills on their own long after P.E. is over. Just last week I caught them teaching their friends“jump the brook.” Max also loves it. He gets seven different kinds of hyped up and comes up with a clumsy version of the feat of the moment. Mostly, he gets in the way. He’s not so much for taking turns yet… Ryan loves working on athletic skills. I’m sure he pictures future major league pitchers. He frequently gives me a, “See that?” look when one of the boys does something particularly impressive. I love watching the boys for the same reason, but I really love watching their coach work with them. There can not be a better Daddy anywhere in the world. I dare you to try to find one!

Apparently, he’s a pretty good coach, too. After just one week of P.E., we had some major highlights at a T-ball game. Reed and the pitcher got the first three batters of the game out. By actually fielding, throwing and catching the ball. If you don’t know T-ball, you don’t know how exciting those first three plays were--well, for the adults, anyway. The rest of the kids probably didn’t know it happened. They were too engrossed in the dandelions, dirt, game in the next field over, or talking to one of the three field coaches about when the ball is going to come to them. We’re normally lucky to get two outs in an inning. We play for the “everybody’s a winner” T-ball league. Every kid bats once per inning. We don’t keep score (officially). We do send “outs” back to their bench, but if they throw a big enough fit or act really confused, we just shrug and let them run the bases. When the last batter gets up to the Tee, they have to run all the way around the bases or until they get out. The fielders are supposed to throw to the catcher, who is supposed to touch home plate and all the runners are automatically out. The last play of this particular game, Calvin was catcher and Reed was first base. Someone fielded the ball, then threw it somewhere, then that someone threw to the pitcher, who threw a way-high toss to first base. Reed, the first baseman, jumped IN THE AIR and CAUGHT the ball. In a game when there are probably only five actual catches in a typical night, it was pretty stinkin’ sweet! Anyway, Reed remembered to throw it home to his brother, who fumbled around for a while, recovered the ball, and waited for the last two base runners with a mischievous look on his face. He roughly (and unnecessarily, since they were forced outs) tagged them and ended the game with two more outs.  I think I even heard him say, “Ha HA!” when he shoved into them.

Needless to say, “Coach” was one proud Papa.