Thursday, October 30, 2008

All Hollow's Eve....Eve

Ok. It's a little after eleven. I've gone through two dozen tissues, half a box of sudafed, and a 2 liter of 7-up in an effort to stave off the sinus infection that has been keeping me from finishing the kids' Halloween costumes.

Tonight we carved pumpkins. Always messy, always fun.

And let me tell you, I may not sew like my craft-goddess girlfriend Charlotte but I am a mean someofabitch with a glue gun in my hand. Although if I had a nickel for every time I burned myself this past week....well let's just say the kids' college funds would be secured.


1 Skunk Costume - check
1 Kitty Costume - check
1 Snowflake Costume - check
2 teacher treat bags - check
12 pre-school treat bags so that my kid is cool - check

1 tired mommy.........check

Happy Halloween kids! Costume pictures to come!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

How to have fun on a fall day

First of all, let me say that I do indeed remember that I have three kids. My husband has reminded me of this fact several times since my last blog entry. Here's the thing; I blogged about my firstborn and then got sidetracked by not only her, but also by her younger counterparts in crime, monkey2 and monkey3 so trust me, it's not that I've suddenly plunged myself mentally into the world of having an only child, it's just that the little ankle biters won't stop climbing the walls every time I turn my back for a few seconds. I can't remember the last time I peed alone, let alone got enough time to do justice to a blog entry. In fact, as I sit, Chunk is pacing his crib yelling at me and playing every parent's most hated game "I drop it you get it." But trust me, I have plenty to tell you about my Kbear and my Chunker...when I get around to it.

So for now, enjoy this brief and informative blog, How to have fun on a fall day.

Start your day off with a healthy breakfast. As you know, they (whoever "they" are) say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That's what your Mom tells you anyhow.

And if it's a special day with fun activities planned, you may want to treat yourself to breakfast out with friends. To keep busy while you wait for your scrambled eggs, build a tower with creamer cups - this gets chuckles out of all the old folks.

Then you want to go out in search of some family friendly fall activities. On this particular day, we decided to go enjoy an apple harvest celebration in Hood River, Oregon with some friends. We found lots of fun stuff to do. Suggestions include the following:

You should definitely climb on a tractor. It will make you feel big and strong and way cool.

And you can also climb on hay bales with your friends. In our case, we also climbed on trees. (But we didn't get a picture because Mommy was too busy yelling "GET OUT OF THAT TREE BEFORE THE FARMER GETS MAD!")

But most importantly, if you get a chance then without a doubt, you should hug a pumpkin.

Now if you get really REALLY lucky, and it's a super special day, then you may be able to do something else that is really neat and cool and fun -- you can make your own apple cider.

Making your own cider is seriously neat. First, you and your daddy need to select your apples. About ten pounds makes half a gallon of cider. It's best to use a mix of apples and that way your cider isn't too sweet or too tart. As Goldilocks would say, "It's just right."

After you pick your apples, you have to wash them. You can do this while your daddy signs the waiver at the register that says that if your farm fresh unpasturized cider makes you sick, you won't sue the farmer. The washing part is way important, even if the water is freezing and makes your hands cold. You can get your friends to help.

Then the nice guys who work at the farm will press your apples. They put them into a big wooden bin that is attached to a complicated doohicky neat-o old fashioned apple press and they start to grind them up. While they are doing this, you should double check that your pitcher is in place to catch your cider.

If the cider guys offer you a chance to turn the big wheel that grinds up the apples, you should totally try it. It's really hard but very cool. After you get it to go around once time (this takes about five minutes) you should probably let your Daddy do the rest of the work.

When the apples are all chunked up, the cider guy will put them into a different part of the apple press and then a big round weight will press down on them, squeezing out the cider. After that, you get to try it and it tastes soooo good - even better than what you can buy at the store - even if you do have to sign a waiver to get it! We made a half gallon of apple cider and one of apple/pear cider and we have had it with dinner and with breakfast - it's really yummy! Mommy likes hers warmed up but we like it anytime. So if you ever get the chance to try it out, you really should make your own apple cider. Banana and Kbear approve of this fall fun activity wholeheartedly.

Now as if that's not enough, there are lots of other things you can do to have fun in the fall. We've spent the last few weekends working hard to find them. You can gather leaves for crafts and you can help mommy stack firewood. You can work on your Halloween costume. And you can do other stuff too.

You can ride in a train made out of barrels, towed by a crazy teenager on a four wheeler. You have no idea what "redneck train" means or why mommy and daddy think it's so dang funny, but it's a good time.

You can hold chicks. Chicks are soft and cute and cuddly and they like to be snuggled.

Or you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. After all, winter will be here before we know it. So you need to get in every last bike ride, trip to the park, and hour spent playing outside that you can. We had our first frost last week, and pretty soon it will SNOW!

The very very VERY best way to have fun on a fall day, is to have fun with your family.

You can see all of our pictures from this autumn by cutting and pasting this link into your browser!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let's talk about my kids! Kid one: Banana

Banana bounces down the steps of the shiny yellow bus that has once again delivered her safely back home from her charter school two towns over. She looks tired - the trip home takes an hour - but as I watch her walk towards the van in my rear view mirror, I know that there's more to it. I know my kid. My firstborn. My big girl.

The van door slides open with a resounding thunk and she climbs in with a smile for Chunk, who yells out "SIS-TAH" in delight and then she excitedly shows me a small plastic baggie in her hand - "I found a four leaf clover at recess Mom!" she cries. And sure enough, there it is, nestled in her hand like a lucky little treasure.

"Very cool." I tell her as her seat belt clicks and I pull away from the curb towards home. "What else did you do today?"

This is all part of our routine. Every day Banana has to tell us three things that happened at school. They cannot involve what was served for breakfast, lunch, or fruit break. They can't be about friends or recess - they need to be about what she learned while she was away from me for the nine hours that I entrusted her education to the public system.

She worries her lower lip with her teeth. I wonder if she'll confess the deed that I already know about, thanks to an email from her teacher earlier in the day. But no, not just yet.

"Well...." she hems and haws "I wrote about my clover in writing workshop and I sketched a picture of it. Do you know what that means Mom?"

I allow that I do indeed know what sketching is. I sketch a mean stick figure myself on occasion.

"What else?" I press my daughter.

"Um........" she fidgets "I got picked to draw the cover on our next class story."

"That is way awesome Banana" I tell her, genuinely enthusiastic - since moving to the new school, she has had many more artistic opportunities than she was given at the old one, and she is a pretty talented little budding artist. "Did anything else happen?" I ask her, giving her one last out.

And sure enough, she takes it. "Mama, something bad kind of happened at school."

"Oh?" I prompt

"'t be mad....but I kinda got a blue card."

So there it is. The horrible truth. My kid lost her "green card" for the first time this year. It's all part of keeping 140 kids in order - every day each student begins with a green card. A fresh slate if you will. But any staff member can issue a discipline card at any time for various infractions including cussing or disrespecting a teacher or another student. After green, you get blue. After blue, you're in increasingly deeper dog doo.

So the truth is out. She breathes a huge sigh of relief and waits for my reaction.

"Well, what did you get the blue card for, honey?" I ask.

You may be asking yourself about now - what on earth did she do? Did she swear? I mean let's face it, mama talks like a sailor. Did she get into a fight? Throw rocks? Disrespect a teacher?


She got caught playing with a stray cat on the playground. A cat that she had been asked leave alone more than once. So my daughter the humanitarian and up and coming star veterinarian got a blue card. As a result, she will miss the "green card party" at the end of the month AND she had to sweat out my reaction all afternoon and throughout that long bus ride home.

Now if you know me, you know that this isn't a big deal. Concerning most things, Skippy and I are actually pretty strict but when you get right down to it, the kid was petting a cat. According to my Mom, this is because her father pets everything on four legs that comes his way. And she could be on to something. But as I (teasingly) told her, I have to let him do that so that he doesn't pet anything on TWO legs. But I jest. I really do. And I even understand the reason for the blue card - she failed to heed previous warnings. But seriously, it's not like she assaulted a fellow first grader. And the fact that she confessed it to me speaks volumes about her character and made me very proud of her honesty.

Banana is really a pretty awesome kid. She is completely over-sensitive just like her mother, but she has a kickass sense of humor that is all Dad. She also has more empathy in her little six year old body than most grown-ups I know - she was the answer to a prayer when my Dad was sick because when everyone else in the world wanted to fuss at him, she knew that Papa just needed a hug. I rely on her a lot to help me with the other two - maybe too much, a throwback to helping my Mom with my own brother and sister, but she never complains...much. She stands up for herself. She is a good friend. She does tend to embellish the occasional story, but hey no kid is perfect and we're working on it.

She is my first baby. She was the first to reach out one tiny hand to wrap around my finger in a vice-like grip, like she'd never ever let go. She was our guinea pig baby - the one you give formula too when you wanted to breastfeed because your breasts refuse to cooperate. The one you tried to put on a schedule before you realized how stupid that was. The one who was subjected to every Baby Einstein video ever released, given only educational toys, and fed only homemade baby food. And she bore it all with good grace. And when you get right down to it, she made me a mother. She brought her father and I together.

Her first word was cookie. She is a daddy's girl unless he teases her and then she comes running to mom. She is a daredevil to the point where I need to be medicated. She is a phenomenal big sister. Banana was only 17 months old when Kbear was born and she looked at that tiny bundle in confusion before she looked at me and understood that she had a new friend for life. And when the Chunker came home, no little girl was ever so gentle or so in love with a new baby brother.

She is one of a select few people that I live for. She's the reason I drag my butt out of bed at 5:45 every morning so that she can go to a better school. I run her to soccer and to birthday parties and pick her up after drama club. I bake 80 cupcakes for her birthday so that Skippy can arrange the perfect "cupcake rainbow" at her request.

When Banana was born, she changed my whole world. And I am thankful to her, every day.

Even if she did get a blue card.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another weekend bites the dust

It usually happens around Tuesday night. After the normal running around to accomplish soccer practice and dinner, baths and pajamas, teeth brushing, bedtime reading, kissing, hugging, and one-more-drink-of-water getting...that's when it hits. Right around that time, I start to yearn for the weekend.

And so, I slog through pre-school pick up on Wednesdays, throw together a snack that will compete with all of the other mommies at MOPS on Thursday, keep the house in groceries and the kitties in litter and the toilet scrubbed, and then finally at long last, I greet Friday with a cheerful optimism tinged with exhaustion. The weekend. It's arrived.

And then it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

Seriously man, having kids is tough work. Having kids who have a social life? That's even harder!

I mean, first of all, there was no school on Friday. Some crap about Oregon teachers needing a day to enrich themselves. I want to know when I get a day to enrich MYSELF. Then again I don't have 30 kids. I only have three. And they wipe the floor with me on a regular basis - I know you're thinking that the darling four year old in that picture can't possibly be naughty but trust me - sometimes the devil inhabits that child. So I had three kids bouncing around who were completely and totally off of their normal routine. Fun stuff huh?

It gets better.


Ok. To be completely honest, I just sat here for five full minutes trying to remember what we did on Friday. I know that I kinda cleaned up my house. I know that my mother-in-law was in town.....but the rest is kinda a blur.

WAIT! We went apple picking! DUH! How could I forget apple picking? I mean, how can I forget spending two hours keeping an 18 month old off of ladders, petting goats, and filling a metal bucket with 25 pounds of apples for fifteen bucks? SERIOUSLY. My brain totally just fried temporarily.

Let's start over - on Friday we went apple picking - by we I mean my mother-in-law (MIL) and my kids and myself. It was fun in that sweaty hectic way that having fun with kids seems to entail. After the cranky orchard lady with the crazy eyes showed us where we could pick, we had a blast taking pictures, keeping track of Chunk (I was irrationally terrified that I would lose him in the several-hundred acre orchard and subsequently in the Oregon wilderness) and helping the girls fill our bucket with galas, jonagolds, and golden delicious apples. Then we stopped at Packer's Farm for giant cookies (five for five, baby) and detoured through the pumpkin patch before heading home to collapse.

So that was fun. And exhausting. I got some awesome pictures of the kids, which can be seen here:

After apples we came home and met up with Skippy and made my famous potato soup before we crashed for the evening. And while we were finally going to bed, we wistfully commented that maybe the kids would let us sleep in a bit on Saturday. And miracle of miracles, they totally did!

At 8:30 on Saturday morning, I was up and ready to go (I told you they let us sleep in). Our entire morning revolved around getting everyone up and out and ready for a birthday party we were invited to at one for some friends' five year old twin boys. This necessitated a trip to the store with the girls, where I paced the aisles, called Charlotte and my Mom with questions concerning what on earth to buy for five year old twins boys before finally settling on hot wheels tracks. (My apologies to Nicole if she is now stepping on hot wheels everywhere she goes.) And then we shot back home and after a flurry of wrapping and ribbons and bows and clothes on the kids and a clean diaper on the Chunk, we headed out to the park and had a rockin afternoon with the birthday boys.

As you can see, Skippy especially had fun. (I realize that the sarcasm doesn't transfer to print very well, but I know you can feel it - this is me rolling my eyes) And once the cake was cut and the gifts unwrapped, it was time to load up and head back home once again. Amazingly, back at home everyone took naps. Except me and Banana. We went down to Charlotte's house where she (quite gracefully) played emergency seamstress for me, using industrial strength thread (or perhaps twenty pound test fishing line, I'm not sure) to secure yet another button to yet another pair of Skippy's shorts -- note to self, no more Target shorts, there is a reason they were on sale.

And let's get something straight. It's not that I can't sew on a button. Because I totally can. But it takes me an hour, two failed attempts, and a bottle of tequila. So it's safer to go let the craft goddess that is my girlfriend Char do the dirty work. Plus it gives us girls a chance to dish, which is important, because that's when we realized a magical coincidence - by some mysterious aligning of the cosmos, we both had babysitters lined up for the coming evening!

Not too long after that, dinner plans were made that involved not only us, but another pair of good friends who were also miraculously kiddo-free for a few hours. So I took a shower, put on my GOOD bra, and went out and noshed on Mexican food, margaritas, and wonderful conversation that revolved around everything from politics to parenting to retelling painful college stories. Unfortunately, curfew comes early for those of us with munchkins - by nine o'clock Skippy and I were wandering around Hollywood Video, determined to bring the movie theatre home with us. *Side note, we watched 21 with Kevin Spacey - good flick if you haven't seen it*

And much too quickly, it was Sunday. Today dawned bright an early around seven. I heard Skippy rustling in his closet squirrel-style while he packed for his next trip out of town. I heard the girls fighting over the remote. I heard the Chunker singing Maaaa-maaaaa from his crib. The dog barked. One of the cats parked itself against my face and purred. And for a brief, beautiful moment, I pulled the covers over my head and pretended I was a single chick. Then I got up and started my day in the real world.

Kbear and my MIL Dixie took airport duty and buzzed around Ptown for a bit after dropping Skippy off safely. That left Banana, Chunker and I behind contemplating the only-somewhat messy house. And then we did what any responsible people do on Sunday morning - we picked up our Sunday paper and went out to breakfast. Then we spent approximately twenty six dollars in quarters vacuuming out the minivan, feeding at least a full bag of pretzels, several stray M&Ms, four crayons, and one baby sock to the bowels of the SUPERVAC before we headed home to gear up for soccer Sunday.

Soccer was rockin' today. The weather was gorgeous, the parents were in rare form, and the girls were showing off because they knew Grammy was watching. Neither of my girls scored a goal this week HOWEVER, no one scored for the other team like Kbear did last week either so we'll consider it a successful Sunday of soccer. Then my husband's mother took pity on me and took us out to an early dinner. We came home. We did baths. We did books. We did teeth brushing. My husband called to tell me he was finally safe on the ground in Atlanta. And finally, I got them all sleeping.

So that's it. That was my relaxing weekend that I waited all week for. Every little second of it was spent on the run in one way or another. And now, I'm tired.

Someday I know that I will be sitting in my rocking chair with knitting in my lap (because someday I fully intend to finally learn to knit) and I'll be feeling a little bit melancholy because I don't have anything to do, anywhere to go, or anyone to see. Except of course for Skippy, who even in his old age will be somewhere in our big rambling house playing computer games and neglecting the dishes that I asked him to wash. Someday my weekends will blur completely in with my weekdays. And I'll wonder where it all went. I know that as crazy as it all is, someday I'll miss this terribly.

But right now? Dude, right now I need a nap.