Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 10

And so the second Friday of our summer vacation has arrived. I had plans. We were going to attend the preschool story time and then stay at the library while Banana participated in Summer Reading before we walked over to the park for a picnic lunch.

I had plans.....but so did Chunk.

He woke me up bright and early with tears, a poopie diaper, and a tantrum to rival the current pop diva of your choice.

Needless to say, Chunk and I stayed home. And Kbear went to the library with Laura and her three boys. Normally, Banana would have tagged along with them but her social calendar was already full for the day. She spent her morning busily making fresh strawberry jam with her Grammy and when I went to pick her up, she was oh so proud!

Summer, Day Ten

Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Surivival Blog, Day 9

What in the hell were we thinking?

That's the only thing running through my head tonight as I sit here and contemplate my day.

What in the hell were we thinking?

I'm exhausted. This morning my parenting soul mate Laura called around 9:00. I was wearing pajamas and making Kashi GoLean waffles. For the record, Kashi GoLean waffles taste kind of like an old dish sponge. But in a good way.

So Laura asks if we would mind giving her a ride either to or from an appointment that she has downtown at 10:30. And while I measured out 1/8th of a cup of syrup for my sponge waffles, I indulged a split second memory of our days with three kids and one car. I remember how much they sucked. And Laura is good to me. And there is an excellent chance that someday we will be mother-in-laws together. So it was really a no-brainer. Of course we would give them a ride.

An hour later, freshly showered and with a belly full of fiber-enhanced Kashi sponge waffles, I herded the kids out to van and we picked up Laura and her brood. On the way downtown, I suggested that instead of leaving them downtown to walk home, I could take all of the kids to the park to play while she had her appointment.

Laura does home daycare. She knows kids. She knows LOUD. And most days she has the patience of a saint. She cocked an eyebrow at me and I could see her imagining me tied to the teeter-totter while the kids made Chunk do a 360 on the swings. But the thought of attending an appointment WITHOUT her children was just too tempting, and I think she figured I'd just have to take my chances. And with that, we dropped her off and went down the street to the park.

And it was just fine.

No really.

No punch line.

The kids were awesome. I read my book and they had a blast. When Laura turned up we were so enchanted with our well behaved children that we completely lost our collective minds - we decided to take them to the thrift store.

One hour and seven dollars later, we decided to take them out for Chinese.

At this point, I'm not sure we're allowed back into either establishment any time soon, but it was fun.

And after THAT, just because we were feeling really wild and crazy, we meandered across the river and visited an animal sanctuary over on the Washington side of the dam. Until today, I honestly had no idea that there were zebras and giraffes living less than 10 minutes from my house. Pretty cool really.

Looking back on it now, snug at home and back in my pajamas with three kids snoring in their beds, we were absolutely nuts. But in that sweaty-overtired-mom-I-want-a-snack-I-have-to-go-potty-are-we-there-yet-god-I-need-a-coffee-or-a-shot-of vodka kind of way, it was a blast.

Here's the kiddos among the carnage following our lunch at Canton Wok!
Summer, Day Nine

Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 8

While relaxing with the Chunk in our fancy lawn chairs-in-a-bag tonight, Skippy posted a new Facebook status message that read "Skippy is watching the girls play softba, yes, softba. It's not quite softball yet, but it's getting there." I thought it was cute and funny. But the bottom line is that it was also oh so true.

After surviving two seasons of fall soccer, this is our first attempt at girl's softball. Without a five week Chicago vacation to take over our summer, we needed to fill some time in a hurry. And it has been an absolutely hilarious whirlwind. Not to mention that just like in soccer, the level of improvement we have seen in just a few weeks is nothing short of amazing.

Our girls are playing on the same team. This makes my life much easier concerning practices, games, and snacks. They play with six other little girls that range in age from five to eight, and it shows. The bigger girls are GOOD. And our little rookies...they do their best.

Here are the basic rules to entry level girls' softball in our town:
While batting:
1. Everyone bats every inning.
2. You cannot be struck out. The coach gives you four pitches, and then you get the tee.
3. You should not be upset if you have to use the tee. You most definitely should not yell "Aw DAMN IT!" when they set it up like Kbear did during a practice.
4. No matter how hard or how far you hit the ball, you stop at first base. There are no doubles or triples. You hit a home run, you stop at first. That's the way it goes.
5. If the base woman is standing on the baseline, run her down. She should know better!
6. The last hitter is the "home run hitter" and that is the only time you advance more than one base - as long as the ball gets smacked in some fashion against the home run hitter's bat, all base runners go all the way around to home. Then it's the other team's turn to bat through their order.
7. You should not lap the runner in front of you.

While fielding:
1. You should pay attention. Otherwise you may take a ball to the face. Just ask both our girls.
2. You should not pick your nose.
3. You should refrain from making dandelion chains or turning somersaults.
4. You should wear your mitt. You should NOT chew on your mitt.
5. If the ball is hit to you, you should pick it up. Then you should probably throw it.
6. If for some reason you DO pick your nose, please do not attempt to snack on it while playing second base.
7. If you are standing on the baseline, prepare to be trampled. You should know better.

And in general:
1. There is no score keeping.
2. Have fun.
3. It's fun to have Dairy Queen as a sponsor because it gives you an excuse to go for ice cream.

Banana and Kbear usually follow the rules, but it's a game-by-game process although I will admit that they have gotten pretty darn good as the season has progressed. Both girls are hitting the ball regularly, and even if they don't have the hang of fielding yet, at least they aren't out there eating boogers.

And because it would be horribly unfair to post only one picture of my little all stars, here's one of each:

Summer, Day Eight

Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer Suvival Blog, Day 7

Of loaves and fish kites.....

Today's picture shows of Banana's artistic skills. Our local library is offering free art classes every Tuesday afternoon for school aged kids ALL SUMMER LONG. Unfortunately for me, the other two are still too young to participate. However, it gives Banana something to do that is hers and hers alone, plus it gets her invovled with the library. Best of all, it's free! So every Tuesday from now until the end of August, Miss B will have something new and lovely to show off. She was a little apprehensive at the start of the first class - especially after she found out I wouldn't be staying. But at the end of the hour, she had this fabulous fish kite to show off!

Now we cue the prayers of thankfulness for our local library, hallowed be its name.

Summer, Day Seven


Currently Reading: Change of Heart, Jodi Picoult

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Days 4 through 6

This daily blogging/picture posting thing is hard. And honestly, our summer has been busy but it hasn't been completely and overwhelmingly exciting. Sometimes we just hang out. And as cute as my kids are, you all don't want pictures of them zoning on the couch watching "Hotel for Dogs" in their pajamas. Plus, then you'd see the Fruit Loops strewn around on my floor.

I'm kidding.....or am I?

Suffice it to say that our summer is moving along swimmingly. We have been trying to stay
busy. I have found that if I don't make some sort of plan for each and every day, we are all climbing the walls by about two in the afternoon and I'm ready to trade my kids in to the nearest band of gypsies. I have been trying to take lots of pictures, but sometimes in between remembering all three children, I forget to grab the camera.

The big news is that our local pool is open for the season. We've already been up there a handful of times and Chunk has been loving the wading pool. I have taken a ton of great pictures down there already, so here's some highlights!

Currently Reading: Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult

Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 3

Summer brings lots of different things. It brings sprinklers and pool floaties and an unlimited supply of otter pops stocked in the freezer. It also brings Summer Reading at our local library. Banana is old enough to participate for the first time, and today marked our first day.

I just happened to snap this shot of my younger two heathens while Banana was inside learning all about the fabulous rewards she will reap once she reads for 1000 minutes this summer. Just outside of our library is a HUGE (I mean massively ginormous) tree trunk. Being the fearless little monkeys that they are, K and Chunk had a blast climbing onto it and giving me two big smiles.

Happy summer, Happy reading!

Summer, Day Three


Currently Reading: Nineteen Minutes, Jodi Picoult

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 2

With the warmer weather, comes the compulsion to garden. Even in our age of email, laser surgery, and microwaved gas station burritos, there is a primal need in us to harvest and gather like that which drove our earliest ancestors. The desire to reap what you sow. And in my case, it's simply the inclination to stick a few plants in the ground to see if I can nurture them enough to keep them from whithering away.

I am not a gardener. I desperately WANT to be a gardener, but I seem to have a really difficult time keeping green things alive. I think it has something to do with giving them water. As in, that you NEED to give them water. And over the years, through some trial and error, I've started to get the hang of the most basic gardening principles. So it's a matter of pride that I've actually managed to construct a gorgeous flower bed in my front yard this year. When we moved in it was a horrendously messy tangle of weeds, grass, and overgrown shrubs. Once I pulled out a waist-high bush only to realize that once upon a time, it had been an oregano plant. I completely tore the entire area apart and started from scratch. And if I do say so myself, it looks beautiful. I am so freakin' proud of it.

High on the success of my flowerbed, I moved on to rehabbing the corner of our yard. I so full of myself after my flowerbed triumph that I decided to bypass the novice marigolds for this overly sunny spot and I dove headfirst into the challenge of maintaining a rose bush.

My tiny rosebush beckoned to me one afternoon while I was at Bi-Mart. I was picking up mulch and vegetable seedlings. Mulch and vegetable seedlings are things that sensible people buy when they realize that they are not gardening material. Vegetable seedlings are cheap, so if (when?) they die, you can just bury the cracker-dry evidence in your garbage can, buy another ten seedlings, and pretend it never happened.......not that I would know. And mulch has the advantage of not being alive. Bonus.

So there I was with my red pepper plants, perky tomato starters, and cucumber babies. And something about that little rose bush by the register called my name. "You can dooooo this" it beckoned me. "Take me hooooome" it implored. And being the tenderhearted wannabe gardener that I am, I gave in. Besides, I figured that it couldn't be any harder to hide a cracker-dry rose bush in the garbage than it is to hide a few kindling-like tomatoes......again, not that I would know.

So just like that, I had a rose bush.

I get that for some people, this isn't a big deal. It shouldn't even be a big deal for ME - after all, I have managed to keep three kids, three cats, two dogs, and a husband alive. But as my girlfriend Charlotte points out, those are all things that squawk if not fed and watered regularly. Plants just look more and more sad while they droop away, glaring at you balefully. So keeping a rose bush alive will be a challenge unlike any other I've taken on in my short career as a green thumb. And in an effort to make myself more accountable, I'm showing all of you my tiny fledgling rosebush, as it appears on our second day of summer break. In about two months, I'll take another picture of it so that we can compare.

Hopefully, it will still be there.

Summer, Day Two


Currently Reading: Nineteen Minutes, Jody Picoult

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Survival Blog, Day 1

I officially have a second grader.

Now that is some scary stuff my friends. Banana finished out her school year with flying colors. We continue to be thrilled with our choice to send her to the charter school fifteen miles down the road - along with being one of the best schools in the state, they also recently won an award for fostering healthy eating and good nutrition. We also enjoyed the spring performance, complete with healthy renditions of "High Hopes" and "Hey Good Lookin'" among others. There is nothing like 142 elementary school kids singing their hearts the top of their lungs.

Banana had a fabulous last day of school. Along with the fact that the entire summer loomed ahead of her, she was also celebrating her seventh birthday. My big girl is SEVEN. It's hard to believe. And when your birthday is on the last day of school, what do you do? You buy Popsicles for the whole dang school of course! And then they all sing happy birthday to you in between the end of the year assembly and the games on the playground! And I've got to say, I didn't know that 180 Popsicles could disappear so quickly! That brings me to today's picture:

Summer, Day One

Other cool last-day-of-school-birthday-celebration-extravaganza-events included the school family BBQ, feeding the baby cows that someone brought by, and riding the horses that another family trucked over.

You've got to love raising your kids in Oregon.


Currently Reading: By the Light of the Moon, Dean Koontz

And so it begins....

It's official. My kids are on Summer break. From now until early September, we're all stuck with each other without the respite of preschool or Banana's eight hour school day. There's no more running to the bus at 6:08 a.m. No more homework. No more remembering to send in a check for lunch money. No more preschool tuition. No more snack helper.

It's just us.

I am determined to make it a good summer. Like everyone else, we are watching our pennies and riding out the economy so we're going to get creative. We have lots of plans, including the park, the pool, the river, and a big dose of old fashioned Oregon exploration. We're going to take a few road trips. We've got some company coming. We're going to BBQ and make s'mores and have fun. We want to take the dogs to the beach. We want to visit the zoo. We're going to try not to melt when the Oregon heat hits 110 in the Gorge and we're going to hang out with friends.

I will try not to kill my kids. Hopefully we won't be climbing the walls by the fourth of July.

The key to this summer's success is SCHEDULING. I've been scouring the newspaper for free activities and cheap goings-on around town and we're loading up to the hilt on art classes, plays in the park, and anything else we can find. The kids are gearing up for summer reading through our local library, and I'm going to get on board by keeping track of what I read all summer long. Skippy and I both love to read and this past school year a switch has clicked inside Banana's head so we're going to hunker down on hot afternoons and practice our bookworm impressions. I also want to take lots of pictures of what I hope will be our many adventures. I started my blog in part to stay in touch with our friends and family back in sweet home Chicago and I'd like to reconnect with that a little bit by doing what I can to show you more of our world out here in the Pacific Northwest. So look for my version of Project 365, the Summer edition, where I am going to try to take at least one picture a day, from our last day of school to our first day in the Fall. The key word of course, is try.

We'll see how it all goes! Happy Summering!