Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Problem Solvers

I needed to kill some time with the two littles munchkins tonight. We chose the city park. I told the boys I'd play with them (translation: lift up to the "zip line," push on the merry-go-round, and otherwise satisfy their whims) for a little, but then I was going to the picnic tables to grade papers. When that time came, Calvin honed in on a giant boulder and started climbing. Max joined in on the fun, but soon was hollering that he needed a "boost-ie." I ignored him, feeling slightly guilty, but rationalizing it by thinking that I was fostering independence. Well, what do you know? I was right!

Within a few minutes, the boys had run across the park, found a "step stool" (a chunk of bark off of a log), and drug it over to the boulder. Soon, I heard, "Mom! I got up!" Sure enough, Little Bit was sharing the role of king of the mountain with his big brother.

Providing assistance for my kiddos may not get me off my butt, but cute photo opps usually will. I crossed to the boulder and got to capture their process. Melt my heart!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekend Roller Coaster

Friday night, I threw what I call (when one of the boys is acting similarly) a "big, fat, baby fit" about how much work I do, how overwhelmed I am, and how everybody else in our family is a lazy slob who doesn't care about me. Or something like that.

Saturday, my wonderful husband helped me with the laundry, the boys and I straightened, dusted, and vacuumed the living room (if you count Calvin using the vacuum tube to suck up random large chunks as vacuuming), I cleaned the bathrooms, the whole family cleaned the kitchen, Ryan and the boys cleaned up the yard, and I graded papers while sunbathing during nap time. Then, Ryan and I spent the rest of the day planting our garden in the most ingenious method ever invented by woman and man (in our humble opinion...) Here's our process:

1) Dump old straw on garden months before summer.
2) Right before planting time, trap a herd of sheep in the garden to eat down any weeds (and dump a load of fertilizer) on the plot.
3) Rake straw out of way, lay down plastic (that you got in a huge roll, free from a coworker)
4) Cut holes; plant plants.
5) Layer feed sacks between sheets of plastic to let ground "breathe" in spots.
6) Cover the plastic and feed sacks with straw.

7) Never weed again!
8) Conquer the world in all your spare time this summer!

While we worked on the garden, the sheep worked on mowing our grass, because that's how we roll. The boys jumped happily on the trampoline with very little fighting or tattling or crying.

Sunday, I got to take a long nap and read a book for hours.

I recant everything I said Friday.

For now...

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter!

I'm convinced that every weekend should be of the 3-day variety! This one was great. On Friday, I got caught up on laundry, housecleaning, and grading. The boys got a special delivery from Germany -- a sweet Lego castle (three-direction-books sweet) from Uncle Tarl, who bought it for a fun photography experiment. I'm waiting for my tickets to Venice from another photography experience. (Speaking of photography, my camera has not been the same since it was whacked with a basketball at a school event--hence the grainy, washed out, out-of-focus shots--grrrr!!) 

There was a day full of Lego building, beautiful weather, and a friends' birthday party on Saturday. Then, Sunday brought the usual festivities. Easter egg hunt in our finest, most well-matched attire (only because Daddy is a spoil sport and wouldn't allow undies and a Scooby Doo blanket).

Off to church in just-for-Mom outfits, then on to spend the afternoon with family (after immediately stripping out of "fancy clothes").

Happy Easter, everyone! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Date with My Little Man

I took a personal day today to be a mom on a field trip. Reed's class went to see a live performance of  Beauty and the Beast and eat at the park afterwards. The trip was fun - seeing Reed interact with his friends, watching him act like he didn't like the romantic part where Belle "kisses" Beast (actually, she gently caresses his fur mask, but who can tell when they're peeking through their fingers?), holding a friend's sweet baby through the entire performance, being one of the cool moms who brings fast food instead of a sack lunch, and yacking it up with other teachers and moms while only having to keep an eye on one kid instead of an entire class! But the best part of the trip was after I signed my boy out for the day. I had given him the choice of riding the bus back to school with his friends, riding with me to pick Calvin up after school, or going "somewhere" before we headed to pick both brothers up at the sitter's. He chose exactly what I thought he would: to go to Toys R Us. I let him ride shotgun and he nervously accepted after I told him we'd move the seat all the way back and I'd drive really carefully.

We decided to make an impromptu stop at the local nature center before we left the park. We read about arrowheads, pressed all the turkey call buttons, took a silly picture, and gawked at the two-headed snake, all completely uninterrupted by pesky siblings, impatient dads, or attention deficit-ed classmates (a completely rare phenomenon).

It was nice. Then, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through toy heaven, where I got a detailed explanation of several characters that, while it didn't particularly interest me, didn't annoy the ever-loving crap out of me (also rare lately). He debated and debated what to get with his tiny allowance savings, then melted my heart when he settled on three Pez dispensers, two picked out especially for his brothers.

I stopped at a gas station to use the restroom and treat us to a snack, wanting to buy something for my generous little man. He opted for peanut butter cups. I got Bugles. I shared mine with him and he politely asked if I would be violating my lenten promise if I ate just one peanut butter cup or one Pez candy. I regretfully declined, heart melted again! We had a philosophical discussion about sin which somehow morphed into a super-detailed movie description (or video game, I'm really not sure). Let's just say my mind wasn't fully engaged and I started to get drowsy, so I started a round of "Would you Rather...?" that entertained for miles.

Nothing that we did was super special, but I have a feeling by the way Reed acted, it was special to him. And me, too.  Without having to compete for attention with two rather loud competitors, he proved to me that he's not just a boy who never. stops. talking. He's actually a great conversationalist with some great things to say. Our date made me realize all over again what a neat little guy we're raising.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Why my weekend rocked:

1) Decorating

I got to help decorate for Ryan's school's (soon to be mine, too) prom. The coordinator bedazzled that ballroom like a champ! She has only sons and it gave me hope that I may never get to help plan a wedding, but I could be a prom mom and still get in on some big, fancy events (and not on my own dime!)  The boys "helped" too - moving balloons from air compressor to dance floor - and then all over the entire place, including under tables and chairs.

2) Color Run

I ran my first 5k! My sister-in-law, Rachel, and I had signed up on a team with some of her friends. Rachel invited me to join a fitness motivation facebook group she was in, and it's been really inspiring. We've done plank and squat challenges and shared recipes and then a few decided to try out this Color Run.  I've never had good endurance, and I totally hadn't trained for it - just went on a couple jogs a week and tried to run a minute longer each time. But, I figured it couldn't be too serious, if the participants were willing to be accosted with colored chalk multiple times throughout the race (and wear tutus, which approximately 50% did). Then, the night before, I dreamed that I busted out the 3.1 miles in 22 minutes.  Then dream Ryan yelled at me and I cried.  

I went there hoping to a) run as much of it as possible, b) not look a fool. I ended up running all but the three steps I walked by the water station! I was slow, but that was the longest I've ever run without stopping - both time and distance. And I even got to re-live a tiny bit of my competitive athletic career when two 50-something ladies thought they were gonna pace on me and pass me just before the finish. When they passed me early in the "race" (I use that term very loosely) I thought to myself, "Dang! I just got passed by two old ladies!" Soon, they slowed down to a walk, and I thought, "Ha! Ha! Nice try old farts! Slow and steady wins the race." As soon as I passed them, they started jogging again. This happened the whole race. At first I thought it was just a coincidence, but the fact that it happened seconds after every time I passed made me suspicious. Then, when I was jogging right by them and spied a shortcut, I joked, "Think anyone would notice if I snuck through there?" I didn't get an amused chuckle. Just a dirty look. From then on, it was on. "On," meaning that I hoped they wouldn't run faster than me and every time they passed me I called them mean names in my head and every time I passed them, I mentally trashed talked them. When we were in the last couple of blocks, they were behind me, and I thought they were getting close. I picked up the pace from dog turd slow to a snail crawl. Then I heard someone say, "Come on!" That made me step it up to turtle mode. Pretty soon, I heard the disappointed "Ahh!" of defeat and I finished my glorious approach to the finish line, victorious. Grannies everywhere, fear me.

3) I had "people" all day Saturday

By "people," I mean a personal stylist and nanny and chef and chauffeur. My sister and her hubs watched the boys all day, hauled Ryan and me around town, grilled us a yummy lunch, and yelled, "We love you!" at me when I panted by them toward the finish line (ok, that mightta just been my sister). Then, after I scrubbed the rainbow off of my body all over her shower, she offered (or, rather, begged) to help me do my make-up and hair for prom. I felt like a diva all day--even though my stylist told me that only old ladies use hot rollers. Maybe old ladies who kick other old ladies' butts in super-competitive sporting events.

4) High School Prom

Ryan was a Junior class sponsor this year, so we did a little reliving of the good ol' days at the high school prom. It was actually really fun, especially knowing the next prom I attend with Ryan will be for "our kids."

5) Sunday

Super relaxing day of rest with family fun, which we've been short on lately. Reed, who wants to train for next year's Color Run, went on a short jog with me. Then Calvin and I made a homemade bow and arrow. Then, we had a strawberry and banana "shake" that's completely lent friendly, followed that evening by brinner (waffles and bacon) and jalepeno poppers (recipes below).

I love my life!

...And then, we ended the night with this little gem:

Mom: Max, you need to get your toothbrush and bring it to Mom or Dad.
Max: I'm picking up. (which, to his credit, is rare and shocking)
Mom: No... I said you need to brush your teeth.
Max: (casually) I can do whatever I want.
Dad: (quietly) hee hee hee
Mom: Come here. Look at me. No, look at me (etc., etc., etc.) You are NOT the boss.
Max: I'm the son of the boss!


Strawberry Banana "Shake"

chopped-up-then-frozen bananas
chopped up strawberries

- Put strawberries in bottom, then frozen banana slices.
- Blend until smooth and creamy.

(In a week, I'll be making this with peanut butter and cocoa powder instead of strawberries. Heaven!)

Easy Jalepeno Poppers

jalepenos, sliced in half and de-seeded
1 pkg cream cheese, softened
6 slices of bacon, crumbled
1-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

- Mix bacon and cheddar into cream cheese (my sister-in-law's brilliant idea--waaaay easier than wrapping them in bacon).
- Smear mixture into each jalepeno half.
- Bake on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.