Monthly Archives: September 2011

What kind of house assessment is this anyway?

We are refinancing our house to take advantage of the amazingly low interest rates, so today a representative from the bank came by to assess our house.

He arrived this afternoon and was immediately assaulted by the girls who wanted to know who he was and what he was doing.  He made the mistake of encouraging them to ditch the sticker activity I had set out for them and inviting them to tag along as he completed his work.

Poor naïve, innocent man… he chuckled when I asked, “are you sure?”

Well, after an hour of assessment, which included (1) an introduction to every doll in the house, (2) several offers from both girls to check measurements with their own miniature rulers, and (3) a very startled, screaming T who awoke from his nap when his room had to be reviewed, the man looked at me and said (in these exact words):

“Your house is full of crazy”.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s the verdict from a professional house assessor.

So if you’ve seen us (or are a frequent reader!) and have been thinking it, you can now state your case while citing a legitimate source.

(By the way, today was fairly normal, as far as our house goes.  Can you imagine if he’d caught us on one of those days?!  We’d earn the crazy label for sure!)

P.S. For those who are interested, I did ask him how being identified as a “house full of crazy” would affect the assessed monetary value of the house.  He grinned, told me he had three kids who were all grown now, and that as far as he could tell, we were the good kind of crazy.  According to him, from his perspective as a parent, “good crazy always increases the value of a house“.  That’s the professional word, folks!  and I say, “Amen” to it!

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Please say a prayer for E today! (and one for the fruit bully too…) – Updated

(Side note: my vagueness in this post is a result of my commitment to never post the mean nicknames kids come up with, since I wouldn’t want them to come back on my kids when their classmates are of the age they can read!)

Actual blog:

I know that relative to many issues, this seems small, but in the world of one little 5 year old, today is a big day, so…

Please say a prayer for E today!

The backstory:

E is having a great time in Kindergarten.  She loves her teacher, her new friends, and everything she’s learning.

Of course, there are always hiccups, and one of E’s recent ones came at snack time.

You see, E loves fruit, so I have packed her a favorite kind of fruit for snack on several occasions since the beginning of the school year.

Well, I always show E what I have packed before she leaves for school in the morning, and last week, when I showed her that fruit, she asked me if I would take it out and pack her something else.

I told her I would pack whatever she wanted (and I did), but did ask if there was a reason she had specifically asked that that fruit be removed.

Well, it turns out that there is a little boy in her class who had called her “[fruit] face” when she pulled it out for snack.  They are assigned to the same work table (4 kids total at that table), and that space doubles as a snack table, so there is no avoiding him by choosing a far away seat.

It has now been a week, I have helped E talk to her teacher about the teasing; the teacher has spoken to the boy; and all these conversations have made E feel very safe.

I also talked to E about not letting one mean comment take the “happy” out of snack time for her.  The teacher and I would help make sure everyone behaved nicely.  E should let us know when she wanted to try taking that type of fruit again.

You may recall an earlier post I wrote revealing my angst and confusion about the right time to help kids avoid teasing, and the right time to encourage them to be who they are and not let bullies dictate their choices and behavior (http://wp.me/p1Auii-5t).

Well, today is the day for defying fruit bullies.  E made the choice that she wants this fruit at snack time because she likes it, and because we won’t give people who make mean comments that power (even though we all know they have the power to hurt).  She knows she might get teased again, but she is prepared to stand her ground and enjoy her snack.  I am proud of her.

In addition to telling E I am proud of her, I have done everything I can to make the space safe for her (including e-mailing the teacher to let her know E was bringing in that fruit and might be nervous at snacktime…yes, I am that parent, but I want an adult eye on that table…yes, I know the teacher has a thousand other things to think about and do…still, E is taking a risk today and I want a grown-up encouraging her…)

So say a prayer for E today!

And one for the fruit bully too.

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could just enjoy snack?

UPDATED: E had a great day at school!   She reported that everyone was nice at snack time, that one of the other kids at the table had the same snack as she did, and that she only ate half of her snack because she was so busy talking to her three table friends (!).  Her teacher reported that she overheard the boy that had teased E earlier saying to her:  “You brought fruit again, but I am not going to say anything mean about it.  I am going to be nice.”  Do you think he had been coached? : )  Thanks for the prayers!  From table teasing to table friends…that is what I call progress!

This totally makes up for the lobotomy

After seeing a tiny crib for baby dolls while out running errands, S decided she would make a “crib” for her baby.  One zillion points to S for (1) not begging for the store-bought version, (2) fantastic creativity, and (3) being such a great mommy to her doll.

Check out her favorite doll “Angie” in her new digs.

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The bed was originally the box our garbage bags came in, and there is a flap you can close if Angie wants to sleep in the complete darkness.  The box was decorated by S and softened with a layer of fuzz (can you see the white stuff inside the box?  some of it came from a pillow in T’s room and some came out of the hole in the back of Angie’s head…).

And yes, you read that correctly.

There is a hole in the back of Angie’s head.

How else would we get the fuzz out of her?  And back into her?  And back out of her?  And back into her? And back out of her?

And without that soothing ritual, how would S get to sleep?

But that is a whole ‘nother blog post…  The point of this post is that now S and her baby are both sleeping comfortably.  (S at nighttime, while Angie is in her arms on soothing duty…and Angie during the day, in her new bed!)

Love you S.  Other than the nightly lobotomy you perform on your doll, you are an excellent mommy.  On behalf of Angie and everyone in our house who loves her (and we all do…Angie will get her own blog post soon…) thanks for the new, wonderful bed!

Picking apples…making apple pie…rejecting apple pie…eating gummi bears!

We spent Friday evening with our cousins, Saturday apple picking and Sunday making apple pie!  What a fun weekend (though we really missed daddy, who was traveling for work Friday and Saturday…)

Our recipe for fall fun:

(1) Find a place to pick apples

(2) Have a great time picking apples!

(3) Play on the farm while mom convinces the owner to let her send him a check to buy the apples we picked, since she cannot find her wallet.  Then play with mom while we celebrate the nice man who agreed!  Play options = demonstrations on how to turn apples into apple cider, four tire swings, a porch full of rocking chairs, nature walks, and tables of sample apple goods including apple cake (!).

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making apple cider (after the man spent 5 minutes explaining why this apple cider is very different from & so much better than apple juice, he gave S a sample and she exclaimed, "Yum! It tastes just like apple juice!") I think I was the only one amused by this...

one of four tire swings...we tried them all!

(4) Load everyone into car to drive home.

(5) Unload everyone from car because as we’re leaving I discover my wallet in the center console, which means we can go back in and pay for apples.

(6) Buy ice cream because (a) it’s ice cream, (b) we now have mom’s wallet, and (c) mom needs a break before loading everyone back into the car again.

(7) Eat fantastic ice cream on a porch swing and get so wonderfully messy that T has to go shirtless the rest of the day.

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Chocolate ice cream - 1; T's shirt - 0

(8) Head home.

(9) On Sunday afternoon:  Have a fantastic time coring apples at home

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(10) Realize that we have two apple coring devices in the kitchen, which means we accidentally stole one from my sister last year.  Sorry, Jake!  We owe you an apple core thingy!

(11) Roll out the dough!  (OK this is probably not what my grandmother meant by “rolling out the dough”…although technically – if you look closely at the picture – there is rolling involved here…)

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If you can't make out the image of the red box in the background, it is pre-made pie crust. Sorry grandma!

(12) Prepare the pie.  Get the supreme compliment from E, who claims “the pie looks just like the one Snow White made for the dwarves in the movie, except hers had writing on the top”.

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This is the pie Snow White made in the movie for "Grumpy" and is what my kids wanted me to do. Wouldn't my husband have loved it if I had served that for dessert without explanation. Fortunately for all of us, I am not that skilled with the dough.

(13) Put a strip of dough on the top to spell the word “I” (I admit…a token effort…but it was easy, and everyone in the family could pretend it was personalized just for them…).

(14) Read stories and eat dinner while the pie is cooking.

(15) Cut the pie.  Have the kids taste it.  Determine that no children like it.  Serve ice cream with gummy bears for dessert.

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"gummi bear a la mode"

(16) Move everyone out to the driveway to help wash the mud from the apple farm off the car.  Take turns spraying each other with the hose.  End result: car still muddy, kids very wet.

(17) Decide a spray with the hose counts as baths for everyone.

(18) Collapse into bed.

All in all, a very successful apple pie making experience…

And a very, very fun weekend…

Even if – after all of that –  my kids chose “gummi bears a la mode” as the better dessert!

Tootie Fruitie

You may recall that this summer, in an effort to help the girls become more independent, we adjusted the location of several things around the house.  We installed a low towel hook in the main bathroom, moved their jackets from high hangers to low bins in the closet, and we relocated several food items from the elevated cabinets into a low drawer where they could serve themselves.

One of the items we lowered was a bag of our traditional post-breakfast treats.  If you eat all of your regular breakfast at our house (eggs and oatmeal preferred by E, sausage by S!) you can go help yourself to a handful of Tootie Fruities (the generic version of Fruit Loops).

Well, T is now big enough to reach the drawer that holds those Tootie Fruities, but still too little to understand the concept of waiting until after mealtime for his special treat.  As a result of this combo, about 100 times a day, he disappears into the kitchen and pretty soon, I see this coming at me…

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That’s right.  Approximately 100 times a day, I am assaulted by a bag of Tootie Fruities with eyes, hair and feet.  He comes at me because he needs help opening the bag to get to his treats.

I did move the bag into a higher drawer for an hour, but poor T was so confused and broken hearted when he opened his drawer and peered into a fruitless void that I couldn’t help but move them back.

So of course, he came at me again…

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My question at this point is not about his nutritional status or any dental damage that might result from my weakness and T’s latest obsession.

Instead, I am wondering how bad it would be to dress T as a bag of Tootie Fruities for Halloween.

I mean, he could just carry the bag around the neighborhood.  He would truly look like a bag of breakfast cereal with feet.

As a bonus, people could just drop any Halloween candy into the costume.  It’s designed to hold sugary substances.  (Hold your applause.  I know!  Brilliant.)

So, without taking my fairly low standards into consideration (ahem, this means closer to Halloween I will confess what I dressed T in last year for the holiday), I ask you to answer quite honestly…

…If you saw this guy sitting on your doorstep this Halloween,

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wouldn’t you give him a treat?!

You know when… (re: free grocery store samples)

I’ll do just about anything to make grocery shopping more manageable.

My standard tricks includes miniature shopping carts for the girls, a cart shaped like a car for T, and free samples for everyone whenever they’re available.

We love those free samples, especially in the stores that let you sample the fruit or cheese or anything from the bakery (fresh bread! birthday cake! sugar cookies!  Yum, yum.)

The kids recognize the displays now, and are pretty good at helping themselves and taking only one.

Still, today I realized we might be getting carried away with the free samples.

How did I know?

Well, let’s just say it *might* be a sign you’ve have been celebrating the grocery stores’ free samples a little too vigorously when you catch your kid eating the shaved ice out of the juice display.

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fuzzy cell phone photo, but you get the idea

S was not drinking the juice, mind you.  The containers were sealed, so she knew they were not samples.

She was just eating the shaved ice.

“Look, mom!  Ice!  Do you want some?”

I declined and explained, but would still like it noted that even our three year old has adopted my philosophy.

She knows when it’s free, we’re not going to be picky.

Free ice shavings?  We’ll take ‘em.  Great snack item.

And how gracious to offer her mama some too!

“CHIRP! CHIRP!”

This blog post is a song with a chorus.

 

The chorus is:

But that requires work in the attic!

Which requires clearing a path through the front of the attic!

Which requires (very rare) time in the house without any children!

Because having tiny helpers in my attic just isn’t safe.

CHIRP! CHIRP!

 

Here is the song:

 

(verse 1)

“CHIRP! CHIRP!” goes the smoke detector in my attic.

It has been chirping for (no exaggeration) over a month.

This means the battery has died

A new one’s needed inside!

I have to do that before the chirping noise drives me insane.

 

(chorus)

But that requires work in the attic!

Which requires clearing a path through the front of the attic!

Which requires (very rare) time in the house without any children!

Because having tiny helpers in my attic just isn’t safe.

CHIRP! CHIRP!

 

(verse 2)

You ask why I don’t do the work in the evening?

When the attic is cool and the kids are asleep?

It’s because the attic light bulb has blown!

And plans to install the new one quite thrown!

Since I can only install a bulb when I can see (i.e. during the day)

 

(chorus)

And that requires work in the attic!

Which requires clearing a path through the front of the attic!

Which requires (very rare) time in the house without any children!

Because having tiny helpers in my attic just isn’t safe.

CHIRP! CHIRP!

 

(verse 3)

You ask why I can’t have another adult watch the kids while I work in the attic?

I say, “sitters are $12 an hour!”

Weekdays, my husband’s work pulls him away –

Weekends, we don’t do projects; we play!

And that’s why my life has this soundtrack…

“CHIRP! CHIRP!”

 

P.S. (which stands for “Post Song” in this instance):  This song is dedicated to Nana, who during her visit (1) watched the kids while I spent a half-hour organizing the attic (which became crazy during our summer closet-cleaning marathon) and (2) changed the battery in the smoke detector.

Can you hear that?

Me neither.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  Silence (no chirping!) for the first time in over a month.

 

P.P.S.  (Post, Post Song): Those of you who read this post, and remember yesterday’s post, are probably thinking that Nana has been working very hard here during her visit.  And you are right, especially since she is here during a week that (a) my husband is traveling for work and (b) T has been sleepless after receiving his 15 month vaccines.  But I must emphasize that while working hard, we are also making lots of time to hang out and play (e.g. movie with the kids yesterday! pizza with everyone today! park playdate tomorrow!)!  Love you, Nana!  Thanks for the work and the play!

 

Public Service Announcement (re: Grocery Stores)…alternate title: “Thank You Nana”…other alternate title: “These Are My People”

So, it turns out that our local grocery store does not open until 7am.

How do I know this?

Nana told me.

How does Nana know this?

She is visiting us, and was gracious enough to travel to said grocery store at 6:30 am this morning to buy one apple.

Who was Jonesing for one apple at 6:30am, you ask?

No one.  And normally, I would have served an apple core out of the garbage before loading everyone up that early for a trip to the store.

However, last night (too late to go out) I remembered that E was supposed to take an apple to school for her Kindergarten’s “Johnny Appleseed” unit.

I also remembered that Nana was here, and (God love her), she naturally follows the schedule my children have forced me into (i.e. she naturally wakes up at 6am).

So, when she graciously volunteered to use her early morning time to get us the apple…

and then upped the ante by volunteering to take the wide-awake T with her…

I took her up on the offer.  (Who wouldn’t?!  And, by the way, I was helping E get ready for school at the time, just so you don’t think I sent Nana off and then went back to bed!)

How was I to know that poor Nana would end up looking like a kid peering in a store window at some forbidden object for half-an-hour?  (the eternally forbidden fruit, it turns out, that bright red apple…)

Grocery stores have those bright, all-night, lights!  Who knew they weren’t open until 7am?

By the way, this might be another piece of evidence that although E is rocking her Kindergarten class, I am in danger of failing the “parent of a Kindergartener curriculum” (seriously, it is harder than you think keeping track of their assignments, completing the administrative paperwork correctly, making sure their spare cubby clothing is weather appropriate amid ever-changing fall temperatures, and remembering which days we pack shorts for gym, books for library, a fresh blanket for naptime laundry exchange, etc.)

Given my mis-steps so far (only one month into the school year), it makes it extra nice that instead of just buying one apple, once Nana got into the store, she bought a bag of apples for E to take just in case any other families forgot theirs.

Although we donated the apples to the pile as anonymously as possible, I think Nana realized that we should – even subconsciously – get in good with this group of families now, early in the schooling experience.

Because although I love all types of people (and secretly admire the more organized ones), the folks who appreciate those extra apples being there are the folks I understand, feel connected to, and will probably see most often.

They are my people.  They are the ones who forget the apple, but realize they forgot the apple, and will be intent upon moving heaven-and-earth to get an apple there, until they realize that someone dropped off a huge bag of spare apples.  They are not the ones who remember the apple effortlessly every time.  And they are not the ones who forget the apple, but don’t really care.

They are the ones who, when we create a cornucopia in November, will make up for an apple-oversight by dropping a few extra gourds in the pile anonymously, and by doing so, will save me a panicked trip to Target.

These are the people who I will meet at school as we drop off the lunches that were left on the counter in the middle of morning crazies.  They are the folks I will see when we’re all picking up posterboard at Target at midnight some evening because something spilled on (or a sibling ate part of) the just-completed project at dinner.  We will chat about how our kids will all be gluing things on a new poster tomorrow morning before the 7:50am school bell.  Craft party at my place; be there at 6am!

For better or worse, these are my people, and I love them before I’ve even met them.

Thanks for the effort and the apples, Nana!  And thanks for beginning my connection to my group of parents: the ones who are (1) invested enough to make it happen no matter what sort of Herculean effort is required to do so, and (2) imperfect enough that we can be friends.

Mom Tip of the Day (re: game day buffet)

With three kids ages five and under, you can imagine what I look like trying to move our crew through a buffet line (like the one we were blessed to have access to yesterday while cheering on our beloved Tar Heels).  Now picture us carrying our food to a place where everyone needs to eat while holding plate in their lap (i.e. the stadium seats at yesterday’s game).

Are you picturing food everywhere except in the children’s mouths?

Ahh, then you’ve seen us . . . if not at the game, then in similar situations, such as (1) potlucks with limited seating, or (2) when the kids get their “movie night” treats (popcorn, M&M’s, etc.) from our own “kitchen buffet” and eat it all on the couch.

Our solution?

(1)  Sippy cups for drinks, and

(2)  Buffet food in a regular cup instead of on a plate.

Yesterday this meant we

(1) took clean, empty sippy cups with us to the game (can’t carry in liquids!), and filled those once at the soda fountain.  Viola, the kids can carry their own gameday drinks without spilling.

and

(2) used our big, no-lid, soda fountain cups to hold food from the buffet line.  Viola!  The girls are carrying their own hot dogs and grapes.

End result: Each kid carried her own dinner; mom carried the baby; baby carried a pacifier (it came out of his mouth as soon as he saw the hot dogs), and everybody wins (including the Tar Heels, 28-17!)

Note to self (re: navigational systems)

Note to self:

When the building you need is located on “Six Forks Road”, borrow your husband’s GPS.

Seriously.   Six Forks.   You’d think that would have been my first clue that I was in way over my head.

On the upside, I did find the building – and within it – a consignment sale where I struck gold by discovering, among other things, a pair of $1 ballet slippers for S (my budding ballerina) and an $8 Halloween costume for E (who is desperate to be Princess Jasmine this year).

So what if I spent approximately one-zillion-dollars on gas?!