Tag Archives: Kid Activities

cute, creative & confined to the house…all while preparing her to take on the world!

I could write pages about E’s style.  Suffice it to say that since she was a tiny girl, fashion has inspired her creativity.  From

– fingernails painted 10 different colors to

hours in her room drawing new designs for her dolls to

asking mama to help her make those designs come alive in fabric (I wish I had any skill at all in this area…)

E simply sees things in fabric and thread that I would never see without her.

As a result, she has the uncanny ability to surprise me with what she’s wearing, even though I am very familiar with every stitch in her wardrobe.

Take her green skirt, for example.  It is a simple skirt, designed for a 5 year old girl in that it has shorts sewn in underneath.  Perfect for sitting on the Kindergarten mat.

Well, recently E came down from her room with the skirt worn in a way I had never anticipated.  She put on the skirt, and while the shorts remained covering her lower body, pulled the skirt overlay up and inside out to create a strapless shirt.

It was creative, cute, and (since my 5 year old will not be wearing strapless outfits), confined to the house.  I didn’t make a picture, but it’s basically a green version of this (except that the armless mannequin could never wear it since E had to hold the top up with her hands, as there is no elastic on what was intended to be the bottom of a skirt…I did help her pin it so it would stay during her fun “dress-up” hour).

You can imagine if the top were folded down at the waist, this would be a skirt with shorts underneath. E just transformed it the other way, making it look just like this outfit, without ever having seen anyone wear this before. Is this how Ralph Lauren got his start?  Or am I raising Lady Gaga?

This wardrobe alteration was not an isolated incident…

The next week, E surprised me by announcing she was dressed for choir practice while wearing a midriff-bearing, one shouldered shirt.  Since she owns no such items, I looked closer and discovered that her “shirt” was actually a pair of blue shorts worn upside down.  She had put her head through one of the leg holes and her right arm through the other to create this look.

Can you tell that the shirt is actually a pair of shorts worn upside down?  When she moves her arms and it becomes a full midriff-bearing, one shoulder ensemble, which is why I posted a photo that happened to catch her while her face was covered.  No need to show her fully on display in this outfit.

Anyone who knows me knows that I think some of the best and most important childhood moments when kids are given license to create.  And E absolutely has license to create in our house. And room what I’ve seen so far, art & fashion are absolutely her creative specialties.  Her mind just looks at fabric and sees things I don’t see, and I think it’s fantastic.  I want to encourage it, not stifle it.

At the same time, E and I had to have two conversations before we headed out to choir practice that day…

(1) modesty… I am confronting this issue earlier than I thought I would have to and am admittedly unprepared.  Any pointers on discussing modestly with a 5 year old are greatly appreciated!  In the meantime, I will say that before she went out of the house, she was required to (a) put another pair of shorts under her skirt and (b) add a tank-top underneath the upside-down shorts to cover her belly and the exposed shoulder .  Which meant she left the house looking like this:

I also had to talk to E about…

(2) Being who you are:  I was up-front about E that (a) I loved her mind and vision and creativity, (b) seeing and doing things differently is celebrated in our house, as long as you are being true to who you are and expressing/not contradicting important values (like modesty), and (c) once you leave our house, you may get teased for seeing and doing things differently.  She should be ready for that, but not let it scare her away from something that she wanted.  (The world needs people who see some things differently, and it makes things a lot more fun too!)

But reigning it back in to the issue at hand, I basically told E that someone could recognize that she was wearing shorts upside-down as a shirt and tease her about it, and asked her if she would be ok when that happened.  She said she would, so we practiced her response in case that happened:

“I like the way it looks!  But I don’t like to be teased, so stop.”

And off she went to choir…

As it turns out, no one said anything to her.  And I am proud that she had a vision, was comfortable doing things differently, and learned a little bit about how to brace herself.  I will be the first investor in her design company, if her interest continues.  (I will also be the first to send her back upstairs if something is not modest, with suggestions about how to make it work while still being fun, accompanied by clear instructions to put some more clothes on.)

(As a side note, I would like to say that I uber-impressed with my mother-in-law, who witnessed about 75% of this exchange with E, let me handle the whole thing, and just smiled and said at one point, “You are both just wonderful!”  I got extra lucky that she came as part of a family package with my amazing husband!  More on their visit in an upcoming post…)

I also got lucky that we happened to be ready for choir early that day, which left enough time for a conversation.  Because a few days later, she came downstairs a few minutes before she had to leave for school wearing this dress.

random, fuzzy photo of E that I snapped as she was putting on an “art show” on the kitchen table…but she happened to be wearing the dress I’m referring to…a dress we both love, by the way…

No problem, right?

Oh wait, I forgot to mention that she was intentionally wearing it backwards.  Which means this part…

became a midriff-bearing bikini in the front.  With no time for a real conversation or the addition of a tank-top, I simply had to ask her to turn it around and let her know we would talk again later about how to make her clothes both modest and fun.

Egads.

The next person who suggests we just make departures simpler by having the kids pick out their clothes the night before is going to get an earful.  I can look at what E is planning on wearing (sweet green skirt, cute blue shorts, pretty pink sundress…), but honestly, I’m not creative enough to imagine exactly how she’s going to put the things on!  I mean, this is the height of looking “different on the rack” than they do when the child actually wears them!

As another side note, I racked my brain to think of where E might have gotten any inspiration for the outfits…especially since with all the end-of-school commitments, we haven’t even really hit swimsuit season yet.  The only think I can think of is Princess Jasmine, which got me wondering why Disney, with all their creative thinkers, couldn’t come up with an outfit slightly less revealing than this for the princess so many little girls are obsessed with:

Love ya, Disney.  But I think you can do better by my 5 year old – who is certainly in your target age demographic and desperately wanted to be Princess Jasmine last Halloween.  (Which begs the question: why did I not see this coming?  E was a more modest version of the Princess Jasmine for that holiday.)

Anyway, a reminder to readers that I’d love tips on how you explain the importance of modesty to a five year old, and how you decide what is appropriate and what isn’t…

And a quick note to E…

E,

I Love your style.  I Love your brain.  I Love your spunk.  I love you.

Be who you are always!

(While modestly covering your five year old midriff.)

Love,

Mom

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Some-kind-of-unidentifiable-soup for the soul

Another post I wrote a few weeks ago and never published…

I mentioned recently that S has a new fascination with cooking.  It manifests itself in a variety of ways.  Here she is helping me puree food for T.

In this photo, she’s peeling the leaves off cauliflower.

I do the primary cutting (i.e. I slice the squash and zucchini into medallions), and she uses her plastic knife to cut the medallions in half before I steam them.  She also uses a plastic knife to cut cooked carrots.  No, her cutting is not necessary to the process of making pureed food.  But it is absolutely necessary to the more important processes of (1) encouraging her current area of interest –  cooking, (2) contributing to the family in a way that makes her feel proud – you should see her showing T all the food she’s helped make for him, and (3) creating what I consider to be “quality time” in the kitchen…chatting while we both chop vegetables.  I’d love to still have her – or any of the kids – asking to work in there with me in 10 years.

My girl is mighty proud in this picture, and I am proud of her. These are some of our most fun days together. She likes pushing the buttons on the blender too.

As a side note, T is almost 2 and I should have him eating regular veggies now, instead of pureed.  We do encourage that.  He gets offered regular veggies at every meal.  But he doesn’t eat many, and he will take his morning oatmeal with all those veggies you see on the counter blended in.  I mean the kid goes through a bag of brussel sprouts, a head of cauliflower, a bunch of broccoli, etc. every month. Honestly, I wish I could get myself or the rest of the family to eat that much good stuff!  Still, I know we need to get him to eat a real green bean at some point (or even a pea or corn niblet, for goodness sake…) Any advice is greatly appreciated…

S also helps me make bread (which her dad loves…she is so proud to tell him on the days we make it).  And on days when there is no cooking to help with, she often asks if she can make us soup and salad for dinner.  She picks “salad” (grass!) out of the yard, washes and spins it in the salad spinner, and puts it aside as dad’s “late night” snack (i.e. he tosses the grass back out into the yard after everyone is asleep, and then of course wakes up raving about how yummy everything was…did I marry the right guy or what?!).

The soup she makes is basically water and anything else I have lying around the kitchen that she can get creative with (I let her put water into a big tupperware, and she adds a few scoops of flour, tears the heel of our bread into the bowl, adds a random fruit or veggie that has gotten over-ripe, puts in the unused parts of foods we’ve had that day (i.e. the green tops of strawberries) and dumps any breakfast leftovers in (whatever eggs E left on her plate and whatever cheerios T didn’t eat).

Check out the disgusting (but creative!) finished product, (which dad chucks into the yard discretely, along with the salad, after all the kids have gone to bed).

Oh wait… the soup is not the finished product…  this smile is what we’ve really been working on all morning…  check out my girl, so happy with her soup…

E loves the kitchen too, and is extremely eager to participate in the veggie chopping, etc.  (i.e. she is absolutely part of the fun!)  But S is currently the one who – when given free choice, anything you want with mom time – will ask to plant a garden, chop veggies, make soup, and pick salad.  (It actually started in our “school” time, where she would ignore every other activity in favor of the bowl of measuring items that she was allowed to take to the bathroom sink…she would play for half-an-hour with a few measuring cups, some funnels, an eyedropper, a set of measuring spoons and a baster.)

And for those who are curious, no…NONE of this has made her more interested in eating anything.  She is just as picky as ever.  In fact, although she is very interested in making dinner for everyone else, her absolute favorite treat – the one thing she asks for repeatedly – is to eat out, even though we do that maybe one time (Chick-Fil-A kids night!) during a regular month.  My goodness, she was on cloud 9 when Nana visited last week and took her out on several lunch dates and treated us to some fun dinners.  (And she comes by it honest…I was on cloud 9 too…thanks, Nana!)

(update: since I wrote this Grammy and Grandpa have also visited and treated all of us to some fun meals…so thank you too, Grammy and Grandpa!  More on that visit soon!)

This post has gotten longer than I expected, but there you have one additional thing we were doing last month…making lots and lots of inedible salad and soup!

A Bedtime Story

So the kids are always on my mind, but they’ve consumed my thoughts even more than usual recently because they are all changing so quickly…  The next few posts may be very “my-kid-centric”.  You’ve been warned!

I’ll start with E (the oldest at age 5).

Monday night, I put her to bed at 7:15 and gave her 5 new library books to snuggle up with.  At 7:45, I saw her sitting at her desk writing.  She noticed me watching her from the doorway and excitedly told me that one of the books we had checked out was now her favorite book ever.  She was going to write down every single word so she could always have those words with her.

Can I Play Too? An Elephant and Piggy Book by Mo Willems.  This whole series is awesome, by the way.

In that moment, E’s excitement was incredibly contagious.  I mean, she was bubbling over with enthusiasm and pride.  I remember thinking that her eyes were all sparkly, and her cheeks were all rosy, and she was all inspired because she had just finished the very first book she had ever simply picked up and read by herself.  We check out books that she reads to me – or to her dad – all the time.  But this time, she had gone through the pile, selected a book and read it in her room alone.  I could just envision her, up there, curled up in her bed reading, almost giddy about the fact that she was reading all by herself.  Of course it’s her new favorite book for that reason alone!

Anyway, I was so distracted by her excitement, and my excitement for her, that I gave her another kiss goodnight and went downstairs without thinking about any other parts of the conversation too much.  And after a few minutes, her room became so quiet that I assumed she had fallen asleep.

Until she appeared downstairs an hour and a half later – at 9:15 (way past bedtime!) – holding this:

That’s three regular sized pieces of paper taped together by E, currently displayed in all their glory on one of the main doors in the house.

Yes.  That’s right.  She wrote down every single word in the book, just like she told me she was going to right before I got distracted by all her contagious, wonderful, happy. She had worked for almost 2 hours to do it.  (I mean, really, imagine yourself loving a library book so much that you finished the last page, and simply had to express your appreciation by turning back to page one and eagerly copying down the entire book from the first word to the last…)

I was simultaneously, impressed, proud, shocked and so happy for my girl who was literally bouncing up and down with excitement over her accomplishment.  She said (during literal jumps and bounds and amid great pointing at her papers),

“Look!  Every word!  I wrote them all!  And some of the letters in the book were fancy (i.e. in italics).  I didn’t copy all the curly parts of those letters, but I did some and I wrote every letter!  And they made some letters capital that I knew my teacher said should be lowercase, so I made them lowercase in my book.  Don’t you just love it?!”

Well, yes I do E.  I think it’s awesome, quite honestly.  And the post-it at the top of the photo is from your dad, who happened to be working late the night you wrote this, and wanted you to see his celebration of it first thing in the morning.  (And, by the way, your Aunt A will love that you edited the writing in the published edition of the book!)

(Also, another by-the-way… amid all the enthusiasm, can someone tell me if I should be feeling a little mommy guilt over the fact that it never even occurred to E to ask me if she could get a copy of the book that she loved so much?  Obviously, I am proud of the work ethic, and clearly we haven’t spoiled her, but have we erred a little too far on that side of things?   And if we get the book for her now, will she be thrilled?   Or will she think we don’t appreciate her hand-printed version – complete with illustration!)

Or maybe I’m overthinking all of it.  Which would be exactly like me…

Regardless, to snap myself out of the worry, I will end by saying that while I was typing this blog post, E came downstairs and told me she wasn’t sleepy.  She should have been snoozing over an hour ago; everyone else in the house is asleep.  So I decided to surprise her greatly by asking her not to go back to bed, but to instead go get me her beloved Little House on the Prairie book (which S is growing into, and T just does not yet have the patience for, which makes it hard to read during the day).  We read a dozen pages, and when we finished, I spent a few minutes curling her hair (something she has been begging me to do, and I attempted for the first time ever tonight…using socks…anyone ever tried that method?).  Anyway, an important, enjoyable, and very fun memory with E that I wanted to record here…

And proof that maybe I’m spoiling her in other ways : )

Love you, E!

And love your book…

update on the past month, part 2

Other things we’ve been up to this month…

(1)  Exploring!

Here we are at NC State’s “farm day”.  Note to self: pack vegetarian lunches next year.  Otherwise, S may look at the animals walking around in their pens and ask questions like, “Is that turkey like the turkey I just ate for lunch?” and you will have to field panicked looks from nearby families until you say something misleading like “NO ONE is going to eat THAT turkey!!!”  (and at least one mother will mouth the words “thank you” as you’re leaving.)

S milking a pretend cow. There were also bunnies to pet, calf statues to lasso, and free ice cream. I thought T would like the “touch a tractor” section, but he just yelled “Big Scary Truck!” as we moved away.  I guess he’s used to the matchbox versions.

We also visited the big museum about 40 minutes away (a special outing for us!).  Friends gave us passes they weren’t using (thank you!), and we had an absolute blast.  T fed his train obsession in this exhibit.

T could have happily played here for the entire day.

And how about this sign at the exit of that exhibit?

It’s like they knew T was coming…

(2)  Celebrating!

Our cousins had lots of birthdays, so we have been to their house for a “Tangled”-themed treasure hunt, to a park near their house for their one-year-old’s cake smashing soiree, and to a pasture within that park to just admire the horses and views.  (Thank you, cousins!)  One photo, from my brother, who is by far my favorite photographer (as long as he’s not taking “work photos” of my children, i.e. “X-rays”…)  Can you believe this photo was taken by someone who just plays around with the camera during the off-time from his Orthopedic Surgery practice?

S in the white, E in the green, cousin G with the long ponytail and cousin E in his superman cape.  Childhood captured in photo.

(3)  Hanging around

Check out E on the swing in our backyard.  Photo credit to my brother again.  How much about spring and childhood and E is captured in this one photo of her muddy feet?  Volumes, I tell you.

(4)  Fishing!

Nana got the kids a fishing pole AND managed to disassemble the pole and fix it after I broke it (thank you, Nana!).  Since I clearly don’t know how to handle a rod, dad took over the casting lessons, and the kids had a blast.

Noteworthy: the kids will spend an hour catching minnows and tadpoles in their nets at the local pond and collecting them in a water filled bowl that we pour back into the pond before we leave.  Here are E & T inspecting their catches with Nana…

Also noteworthy: the girls “fished” for an hour with dad with a plastic stopper on the end of the reel (i.e. no bait or hook) and were thrilled with the experience.  I can’t imagine what they will do when we actually introduce the idea that you could use the pole to catch a fish.

(5)  Trying to keep our heads above water in terms of housework

With this much fun going on, mom has had to work overtime to simply keep our familial feet underneath us.  Exhibit A: every few weeks I have to go through a pile that looks like this to pull any artwork or projects we want to save.

This process deserves a post of its own.  Stay tuned.  Then there’s the normal stuff.  I mentioned before that I lost the battle with the laundry.  I fared only slightly better in the kitchen.  And Nana saved me with regards to everything else.  (see below)

(6)  Spent time with Nana!

Nana’s visit was devoted to catching up, hanging out, and pitching in. In addition to fishing, playing, taking the kids to several museums (T was adorable riding the train at the local science museum and still asks to “go ride James” again at least every other day), Nana just rolled up her sleeves and help me get some things done.

More detail?   I am just out of the first trimester of pregnancy, which means I am still exhausted, but also feeling my version of a nesting instinct.  Much to my husband’s dismay, I have no desire to clean, but an overwhelming urge to organize and declutter (my normal instinct, but taken to a fever-pitch during pregnancy).  The end result: During pregnancy, I am desperate to get organized but too tired to actually do it, which leaves me very frustrated.  While she was here, Nana helped me sort through the kids outgrown clothes and she watched the kids and took care of lots of everyday things (the kitchen! the laundry!) while I tackled the attic, my desk, the bankbook, and several projects that have been languishing on my “to-do” list literally for years.  Thank you, Nana!  We loved playing with you and are so appreciative of all the help.  (I haven’t listed everything you helped me catch up on because I am embarrassed that I was that far behind!)

More updates coming…have I mentioned that it’s been a busy month?!

Updates and photos from last month (part 1!)

So I’ve been AWOL (life has been busy!) and have been promising an update…

Here’s the short version: we’ve been having fun, which has involved a spring break “staycation”, a week recovering from that staycation (hello, laundry), a wonderful Easter, and then a great visit from Nana!

And here’s the longer version: updates and photos from our last month (part 1)…

Each girl got to pick one special “must do” for the week of spring break.  To my surprise (why did I think they would stay in my comfort zone?) E picked “make a dress for our dolls” and S picked “plant a garden”.  Holy moly.  I have no experience in either of those things.  (It did make me glad I asked however, since there is no way I would have put either one on a list of plans, and obviously they are unexplored areas of interest!)  Anyway, here we are at the fabric store…

fuzzy cell phone photo

After a “looking loop” around the store, each girl was allowed to pick out one yard of any fabric they wanted, and one foot of any ribbon they wanted.  E & S surprised me by both selecting the same fabric and ribbons.  (They wanted their dolls to match, I guess!)  T got a piece of fabric with cars on it that I hoped would become his new lovey, but alas that role was filled by the racecar and Toby train the Easter Bunny brought him.  Not conducive to sleeping – rolling over onto those loveys (especially Toby, who says “full steam ahead!” everytime T bumps him in the crib).  Oh well.  He loves them!

Anyway, here’s the dolls in their dresses.  Since I don’t know how to sew, these are more like glittery sackcloths, but they made the girls happy!

E said, “Her dress looks a little like a bathrobe, but I like it!”

Thanks to Nana who did an actual sewing lesson with the girls when she visited a few weeks after this (with a real sewing machine).  I keep a few cloths around the house for various things, and one now has random, festive stitches all over it.  An easy way to have the kids feel like they were “really sewing important things” (at least until the machine stopped working…anyone have a spare manual for a JC Penney sewing machine purchased in the mid 1980s?)  Here’s one of my new decorative cloths below.

Just look at that stitching! She’s a natural, I say! : )

We’re hoping to complete the set after (1) we figure out what’s going on with the sewing machine, and (2) Nana comes back to teach me how to thread and use it.

S’ project was the garden.  I am not a gardener, but we headed over to Home Depot (with their optimistic “You can do it.  We can help.” motto).  S & E picked out three things to plant (1) marigolds: the only flowers the deer won’t eat, (2) carrots: the only vegetable S will eat, and (3) basil: because the man who helped us said there was almost no way I could mess it up.

After hours and hours of shoveling, weeding, removing rocks, adding topsoil, planting, and lots of muddy shoes and jeans piling up on the porch, we have the smallest garden ever.  It is impressive only to me and the children.  (I promise, we truly have spent countless hours on it, but it is really only a 4 x 6 patch of ground with 12 flowers and some tiny sprouts that are either carrots or weeds…I honestly don’t know how to tell them apart, so I have no idea if I’m weeding, or ruining our only crop.  I am not kidding about this.)

The two big rocks on the left that we used to mark the rows of carrots and basil kind of look like gravemarkers for our struggling-to-survive garden. Seriously, is anything going to grow in that red clay? We added two huge bags of topsoil, but honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing.

And in the interest of internet input, can someone please click on this photo to enlarge it and tell me if any of the green things sticking out of the ground look like the beginning of a carrot-top?

OK, so if you can fight the impulse to tell me we should have added more topsoil and removed more rocks (I promise, we were removing rocks for hours…), tell me instead which of these green leaves is a carrot sprouting, and which is a weed. Carrot at the top of the photo? Weed at the bottom? All weeds? Egads. I think I’m going to go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of fully grown carrots and plant them one night after the kids go to bed and then take everybody outside to harvest them the next morning. In case you think I’m kidding with this plan, I have already done my research. Apparently, they sell carrots at Whole Foods that still have the green leafy parts on top. Score!

Anyway, the kids love watering the flowers; it has been a fun adventure, and I give us an “A” for effort.  My grandma J, who – God rest her soul – (1) won all sorts of yard and neighborhood beautification awards, (2) was in charge of all the flowers for our church for decades and (3) grew the rose petals that lined the aisle of my wedding, would applaud our efforts too.  She would appreciate that at this stage of life, we are certainly process (as opposed to product) oriented!

My grandmother would also likely laugh at the fact that the flowers we are trying to grow are in a battle to survive, while the part of our yard that received no TLC and is “supposed” to be grassy is covered in the most lush display of flowery “weeds” you can imagine.  I mean, check out the photo below.

Yes, I love them. But honestly, “My kingdom for a carrot!”

The brick wall marks the property line between our house and the neighbors.  It’s like the weeds magically stop there (much to the delight of the girls, and to the dismay of my husband).

It is uncanny. I will say that these flowers provide hours of entertainment for the children, because they are determined that none of them be chopped by the lawn mower. Every time my husband says he’s going to mow the lawn, they sprint outside to pick all the flowers and cover my kitchen in bouquets. I will miss this stage so much when they grow out of it…sigh…at least then I will know that I really did try to enjoy it all in the moment.  Bring on the bouquets, girls!

Finally, since I mentioned the racecar and train that appeared in T’s Easter basket, let me include a few photos of the holiday.  We tried to capture the meaning of the season – telling the kids an age-appropriate version of the crucifixion and resurrection (when S heard Jesus died and came back to life, she said, “Hmm.  I think that’s what I’ll do too”, then let out that little breath that almost made it sound like “Well then, that’s one less thing to worry about.  What’s for dinner?”  It was a good opportunity to tell her we can all come back to life, and live forever in heaven.  (Happy belated Easter, everyone!)

Then there were the secular celebrations.  Here we are dyeing Easter eggs

T got a plastic egg and a cup of water, and was absolutely a part of it at the age of 1!

I know you can see the plastic egg in the photo…can you also see the clear plastic cup of water he dunked this egg into for half an hour? He kept yelling out random colors while he did it, mimicking the words his sisters were saying as they dyed their eggs. I remember taking this photo. He shoved the egg right at the camera and yelled “purple!” So we have the spirit of the activity covered…we’ll work on colors next year : )

S at our church egg hunt

Hunting eggs in our house Easter morning

E & S hunting eggs on Easter morning. Note that it is still pitch black outside the windows. The kids were so excited that they woke up insanely early. Also…note to self: ask the Easter Bunny to make a quick list of where the eggs are hidden. There was one we couldn’t find for a few days, and of course it was one of the real, hard boiled eggs. Fortunately, we did find it before the smell found us! I was like Kirk in that episode of Gilmore Girls, looking for the egg…anyone else remember that episode?!

We also enjoyed spending part of the weekend with cousins and the other part with friends.  Beautiful company, beautiful weather, beautiful time.  Love all y’all!

In the “less than beautiful” category…My deviled eggs didn’t turn out exactly right…

I had promised deviled eggs, then learned that I couldn’t use the boiled Easter eggs that were hidden overnight at room temperature (health risk, apparently), so I only had the two eggs left in the fridge to work with. Me in the kitchen + no spare ingredients = no room for error/recipe for disaster. My mother-in-law gave me this awesome tray to hold deviled eggs in, and I am embarrassed to say that these eggs were so misshapen they wouldn’t even fit in the tray. Oh well. This is why no one complains when I bring pre-packaged cookies to potluck gatherings.

Between the flowers and the eggs, my grandmother would finally have to admit that I inherited absolutely none of her talents…but my admiration for those talents is ever increasing grandma!  This gardening and cooking is tricky stuff!

More updates on S’ new obsession with cooking in the next post…  Here’s hoping she has inherited my grandma’s skill as well as her interest, and that she can take over the kitchen soon!  S is actually so into cooking right now that I’m thinking of arranging an apprenticeship with my Mother-in-law, who is an amazing cook and maybe planning to visit soon.  Are you up for it Grammy?!

I’ll leave you with a photo of the laundry that accumulated while we were doing all this other stuff.  The laundry problem was exacerbated by the fact that the week after spring break was unseasonably cold, which meant I could just shove all the dirty warm weather stuff deeper into the hamper and pull out all the winter things I had just put away.  End result?  Well, check out laundry day…

There are no people in the photo because we were all basically walking around in towels by this point.

My husband, never one to complain, actually looked at the growing pile shortly after spring break, sighed, and went out and bought himself new boxers.  True story.

(And lest that be misinterpreted, know that he is actually great about helping out with the laundry and everything else around the house, but in his infinite marital wisdom realized that buying a few new boxers was probably the best investment in overall domestic contentment.  And his wife says, “amen to that”.  I don’t need a six-week retreat in Fiji.  But occasionally, I do need a week of blissfully ignoring the laundry : )

So that’s part I of our update…to be continued with part II later.  Hope everyone else is enjoying spring too!

Public Service Announcement re: Strawberry Season!

So there’s lots to catch up on… I know I was AWOL for a few weeks… but the spring break, etc. recap will have to wait because I have an important public service announcement…

Strawberry picking season is here!

It caught me off guard this year.  Usually I don’t even think about it until May, but apparently the warm weather brought the harvest in early.  A friend mentioned they had been to a strawberry farm recently, and that the farmer told them the season would only last a short while longer, so today after we picked up E from school we headed into the fields.

How about these signs at the entrance to the farm?

The best part of this sign is the tiny note on the right side, which I have included a close-up of below.

Here’s the close-up:

Can you read it? It says that the sign is "sponsered by Koreberi", inserts the phone number, and recommends them "for all your PR needs". A friend and I wondered how much they charged for their PR services and decided it must be at least enough to cover the cost of some scrap cardboard and a sharpie, but not high enough to cover a spell checker. I am taking an informal poll on whether people think this was a joke (I vote yes. I mean, it has to be a joke, right?!) Feel free to weigh in!

Another amusing sign…

I know this one was a joke : ) Still, excellent incentive to keep your children close in the berry patch!

There was another set of signs that weren’t intended to be amusing, but caught our attention (one sign saying a row had been designated for “senior citizens we respect” with a little heart over the “i” in “senior” and another sign one row over simply for “senior citizens”…my friend gets the credit for noticing this distinction.  I does make you wonder whether pickers would be allowed to (1) self-select or (2) be interviewed to determine “respectability” and then assigned to a row : ) .  Anyway, I should have taken a photo, but by that point I had decided I’d photographed enough inanimate objects and began zeroing in on the children, who were animated to say the least!

Here’s a photo of T, who was absolutely into the berry picking, saying, “another one?!” after every berry he picked and put into his little yellow bucket.

"Another one, mama!"

And after taking a lick of dirt, I mean pesticides, I mean, well – whatever – from a strawberry… Pay and wash before you eat, T!

S and E picked tons too, and loved every minute of it.  Mama loved every minute except the one where I realized there were very active man-made bee hives across the dirt road from the field (that would be the dirt road we wandered across to get a closer look at the pond and some cows).  Yes, there was a rope to dissuade kids from getting to close to the hives, but yowza… no thanks on that!  We moved the kids away from that area pretty quickly.

Bees aside, we had a fantastic time.  The weather was perfect, the kids were great, the strawberries were plentiful, and the humor provided by the company and the signs rounded out a great spring afternoon.

Here are the results of our picking:  An afternoon of fun and all these berries (these do not include the ones I threw out after we got home…we are not the most “selective” pickers, it turns out!) for $3.49.  Not bad, says frugal mama : )

And of course, E & S set up the “Sweet Soda Shop” stand they constructed a few weeks ago and delivered strawberry smoothies for dessert tonight.  Here they are:

Can you read the "sweet soda shop" sign? And see E & S drinking the profits?

For those who have not had the pleasure of an enormous “Sweet Soda Shop” box as part of their spring decor, allow me to explain that it’s like a lemonade stand, but inside my living room, and with a clientele of only myself and my husband.

Maybe if I connect them with the Koreberi PR firm, they can expand!  : )

Anyway, back to my original point: the public service announcement.  Apparently, strawberry season is here early, so if you want a fun afternoon and some delicious berries, get thee to the berry fields!  We had a super fun, super delicious, super great time!

The Kids-eye View

What most of us see:

a pile of weeds just removed from our overgrown flower bed

From a child’s perspective (E):

the perfect ingredients to make a giant bird’s nest (E's vision, but S helped and is pictured here as the bird)

 

 

What most of us see:

A hole in the yard, created with plastic shovels, made muddy with a cup of water, and likely to cause a twisted ankle next time we’re playing out back.

From a child’s perspective (S):

a pool for the caterpillars, (this time it was S' vision, but E helped, and the pool included small leaf boats in case any caterpillars didn't want to get wet

 

 

What most of us see:

a tree at the playground (stock photo, because I didn't have my camera at the park yesterday, but this is exactly what the base of the tree looked like)

From a child’s perspective (T):

a tunnel for a choo choo train (T doesn’t know that many words at this point, but “tunnel” and “choo choo” are among them…credit to my friend A who saw him all excited about the discovery of this particular tree at the park and called me over to provide T-to-English translation and enjoy the moment. T just kept saying, in his 1 year old dialect, "Tunnel! Tunnel, for choo choo!")

 

 

What most of us see:

my messy kitchen after snack time

What I hope my family sees & remembers:

a mama who took them outside to play instead of cleaning up! (what?!? some mothers do both?!? don't tell my husband...)

Kite Photos/ Day Brighteners/ Capturing a Moment in Time

I’m just posting these because it makes me happy to look at them, and I thought it might make you happy too : )

A favorite photo, because, well, how could it not be?!?! Click to enlarge and just look at the joy on that face. The picture also captures so much about S at age 4: so PLAYFUL and PASSIONATE (that's a twinkle AND a fire in those eyes; don't limit her to just one, folks), in her outfit of choice (a dress paired with sneakers), that little arm up as high as she can get it (so determined to be big and already so powerful that I have to keep reminding myself how little she still is), and a smile so beautiful it almost distracts you from that WILL OF STEEL that makes her almost unstoppable once she decides something (she was going to get that kite up RIGHT THEN, despite the fact that there was NO wind at all at that particular moment - and by golly, by running fast enough, she did!)

and E …

A favorite photo because, again, joy joy, joy, and also because it typifies E at age 5... a JOYFUL (it bears repeating and capitalizing here, folks), LIFE-LOVING, running, leaping, twirling, bouncing little lady, who is here flying a kite she made herself by cutting Sunday School coloring pages into heart shapes, stapling them together to make a butterfly shape, and adding some ribbon so it could fly. A creative, captivating, carefree spirit that oscillates between (1) celebrating the wind (that hair is always down and blowing) and (2) creating ways to harness it to make the world (and even the wind, it seems) happier and more beautiful (homemade kites or ever-blowing dandelion gardens, anyone?)

Just moments in time, of course (i.e. not pigeonholing either personality and eager to emphasize they both have all the elements I listed for the other…be whoever you want to be, ladies and don’t let anyone – even/especially your mama limit you with images or captions!)

But in the spirit of celebrating who they happened to be last weekend, I had to share.

And isn’t capturing that brief, precious, will-this-last-or-pass? (and-let-me-declare-now-that-I-will-love-them-regardless-and-forever) moment what makes photos so fantastic?

Free Fries at Burger King March 17 & 18

Just a quick FYI that Burger King is offering free fries while supplies last, March 17 & 18, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  No additional purchase required.  We enjoyed ours with their holiday green ketchup…a fun, free outing with the kids!

Here’s the link:

http://www.bk.com/en/us/company-info/press/press-release2536.html

Enjoy your free fries!

Update: March Madness, the real version

You may have read about our extended family’s March Madness pool in this post.

Well, I just had to let everyone know that 20 month old T, who picked the winning teams for his bracket by always choosing the team that had the most T’s in its name, is currently doing better overall than his mother.

Using this method, he also became one of the few people in the country who predicted that Norfolk State would beat Missouri.

I don’t know whether to be humiliated that my predictions are being upstaged by this alphabet-based strategy, or proud that my son is doing so well in such an important arena (March Madness!) so early in life.

Maybe, as a Tar Heel, I’ll just focus on how happy I am about the early dismissal of Duke…  : )