Monday, April 27, 2009

These Are The Moments...

As a mother, most of our time is spent in the "management" of life.  Most of the day-to-day tasks of life will fade from memory as we age.  But there are a few moments which carve themselves into our hearts and stay with us forever.  Tonight was one of those moments.

Jack has always been a tentative child.  Never one to be in the center of attention, he has always been content to watch the action of life from the sidelines until he's comfortable enough to participate.

Last year, when we signed Olivia up for swim team, Jack said he wanted to try it.  With a bit of trepidation, we signed him up as well.  When the first practice came, Jack refused to get in the water, and sat on the edge of the pool with his head in his hands.  He just couldn't do it.

He stayed in swimming lessons through most of the summer, and started back up again in January of this year.  Again, he said he wanted to do swim team with Olivia.  So, we signed him up.  While I wanted to believe that he'd be ready to jump in on the first day of practice, there was a part of me that was fearing a repeat of last year.  He had never swam the full length of the pool before.  His lessons were held in 1/2 size pools, and while I intended to take him swimming in a full-size pool before the season started, it just never happened.  

The last couple of weeks, he has initiated more conversations about swimming, counting down to the day practice began.

Tonight was the first practice.  Jack put on his suit about 3:30.  Practice didn't start until 6.  By 4:30, his bag was packed with goggles, a towel and dry clothes.  When it was time to leave, he was the first in the car.

It was freezing cold tonight.  The air temperature was about 55 degrees, but the wind was blowing steadily, dropping the temp down several notches.  I kept waiting for the "I don't want to do it" to come out of his mouth.  It never did.

He lined up with the rest of the "8 & under" kids and waited for the coach to give the word to jump in and swim his first lap.

And when his turn came, he jumped.  And he swam.  


When he reached the end of the pool, he looked for me and smiled the greatest grin I've ever seen. I think even he was a little bit shocked that he had made it the whole length of the pool without stopping.  He knew that he had done a good thing. And he was happy.

He may or may not be the next Michael Phelps. But tonight for him was the equivalent of winning 8 gold medals.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The High Price of Entertainment

The kids and I love going to the movies.  There's just something about the big screen, buttery popcorn and loud acoustics that make the experience so much fun.

A recent trip to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D made me re-think our movie habit.  Usually when we go to the movies, it's mid-week when school is out and we go to an early afternoon matinee.  I didn't realize that on weekends, the matinee price ends at 1:59.   We were at the 2:15 showing.  The 4 tickets just to get in the door set us back $47.50 (there was a surcharge for the 3-D glasses).  That was the first "ouch".  Then we went to the concession line, bought a large popcorn, a couple of drinks and some M&M's.  That came to $23.75.

The sight of the kids in their 3-D glasses was one I didn't want to forget - especially Grant.  He looks like he belongs in a cartoon.

Grand total for 1 1/2 hours of entertainment - $71.25.  Was it worth it???  I don't think so.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Garden Guests

With our new fence in place, we are able to witness all the wildlife that is around us.  It seems as though there are hundreds of birds (stealing my strawberries, I might add...) who frequent the trees and bushes behind the house.

Last night while I was doing dishes, I looked out the window and saw these friends...

One deer in particular was especially interested in what was inside the barb wire fence...but couldn't quite figure out how to get to it.  Can't you just see the longing in his eyes?

After giving up on eating the tasty greens growing on my side of the fence, he laid down and just stood watch for nearly an hour.  

It's nice to be so close to nature - and I just have to hope they don't get desperate enough to jump the fence.  Don't mess with the garden Bambi...or you'll have to deal with ME!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Training...Mommy-Style

It's hard for kids to follow directions.  At least, it seems hard for my kids.  It feels like they never listen and forget half of what I say.

There are distractions, and short attention spans, all of which lead to selective forgetfulness. I've been working on different methods of getting them to listen and follow through. I've discovered that eye contact is key during the "instruction" period, and having them repeat the instructions back to me reinforces it.

We try not to wear shoes in the house.  We have an overflowing shoe rack in the garage, which is a mess. But when shoes do come in the house, we usually keep them by the front door, under a little bench.

The other day when we got in the house, I very casually instructed Grant to take off his shoes and put them by the door.  He was chatting away about his own little world, and I did not expect him to have heard me, let alone actually follow my instructions.

I came around the corner, and this is what I saw:

They couldn't be any closer to the front door.  Seems my spring training is working.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Musical Matresses

By day, my kids love to drive each other crazy.  Lately, they've been picking on each other incessantly.  Tattle-taling, bickering, hitting, biting, screaming, whining....and lots of time outs and scolding.

But when bedtime rolls around, the mood does a complete flip, and all three kids want to sleep together.  Either in the same room, or preferably the same bed.  All three have twin size beds.  Three wiggly, night-kicking kids in a twin size bed just doesn't work (though they've tried it). 

Some nights, Olivia sleeps in Jack's bed:

Some nights, Jack and Grant sleep on the trundle in Olivia's room:

(The flash on my camera makes it look like broad's really late at night and not posed, I promise!)

I resist it at times.  When they all sleep together, they all wake up together.  Which is sometimes earlier than desired.  

But then, I remind myself that at some point in the not-so-distant future, they 1) really won't fit in a single bed and 2) will be irritated by each other around the clock.  So I'm giving in, and letting them snuggle and dream together in the hopes that their nighttime closeness in dreamland will carry over to more closeness and kindness in their waking hours as well.  (Not to mention, there's fewer beds to make in the morning!)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Fun!

We had a fun-filled Easter weekend.  

After the traditional Easter dinner, we all headed outside to see if the Easter Bunny had stopped by...

Jack found his basket first!

Over the years, the baskets have grown...and traditions have begun! Each child gets a new swimsuit, an outfit of some sort, summer sandals/flip-flops, a chocolate bunny and some various accessories. It is so fun to see their excitement. Even the big girls are thrilled to find the basket with their name on it!

Grant was mesmerized by the whole idea!

This picture really has nothing to do with Easter.  Grant saw these shoes at Target last week, and absolutely HAD to have them.  I don't know that they've been off his feet for more than 5 minutes at a time.  He even insists on sleeping in them.  His poor toes and feet are covered in blisters, as the shoes don't breathe at all.  But that doesn't stop him!

Here's Joyce (aka "Nan") with all the kids and their baskets!

Sowing Memories

By now, you're all well aware of my new obsession with my garden.  Well, I passed it on!

We spent our Easter weekend down with Steve's mom, Joyce.  After we told her about our garden, and the ease of "raised bed gardening", we volunteered to build a couple of garden beds so she could plant a few vegetables for herself.

In the process of cleaning out the back area, Steve uncovered an old wheelbarrow...with a whole lot of history. This wheelbarrow was purchased by his mom and dad, nearly 55 years ago. This wheelbarrow moved with them to several houses, and assisted with the landscaping, gardening, and yard maintenance for years. 

After Steve's dad died, when Steve was 11 years old, he took over much of the yard maintenance and upkeep, and used this wheelbarrow too.

To some, it might have appeared ready for the dump. But for Steve and his mom, this was a tangible reminder of many years worth of memories. So we brought it out on the patio, filled it with soil and planted a flower garden.

Grant sat on the diving board and supervised.

Now, each day when Joyce looks outside, she'll see that wheelbarrow and be reminded of all that she has accomplished in building memories for herself and her children, and now her grandchildren as well. I have a feeling that those flowers will bloom for a long, long time.

First Harvest

I was making a salad last Thursday night for dinner.  The fridge was a little bare, as we were leaving town the next morning.  I was short on decided to see if our home-grown lettuce was edible yet.  I went out and picked a few leaves from each plant, so as not to deplete them completely.  

I brought them in, gave them a good wash & dry, and voila!  

It was perhaps the most delicious salad ever!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Killing Time...

It seems I spend a lot of time in the car lately. And a lot of it is spent waiting. I've started bringing my laptop with me, and can sometimes actually get a few things done while I wait (or surf the net, if I can tap into a wireless network!).

Today, Olivia had piano lessons. The boys and I usually go to the park while she's at her lesson. But today, it was sprinkling and Grant was sleeping and desperately needed that nap.

It wasn't long before Jack started complaining and trying to find something to do. Besides bug me. And this is what we came up with:

Now if only I could figure out how to clone myself for real...
and get rid of that double chin.  I blame it on the camera angle, not the chocolate eggs I've been devouring lately.

Don't we look like we're having fun?

Honestly, it didn't hurt as bad as it looks!

Steve Jobs...PhotoBooth was your greatest creation.  Almost pays for itself.

Going Green

Over the past few months, and especially weeks, I've been trying to be more ecologically aware.  Recycling more, dumping food waste in my "green" bin, planting a garden so we can eat our own "organic" vegetables.

I have a few friends who cry praises to starting their day off with a "green" smoothie.  There's even a website devoted to them.  Somehow a green smoothie, made with spinach, kale, chard, etc. just didn't sound appetizing to me.  But I know the nutritional value of those green veggies, and as the mother of a little guy who refuses to eat anything green, I was willing to give it a try.

Grant loves smoothies - and it's a way for me to get him to eat his daily allotment of fruit, since he otherwise resists.

Yesterday morning, I dumped the usual fruit in my Vita-Mix - frozen strawberries, pineapple, mango, papaya, a fresh banana, some low-sugar yogurt and fresh orange juice.  Then, I threw in a handful of spinach.  I turned the blender on and watched it come to life.

When it was all blended and smooth, I poured it into cups with lids and straws and passed them out to the kids.  They didn't know what I'd put in, and couldn't see the color.  They loved it!  The spinach was mild enough that it didn't give too strong of a flavor, it just added a little richness.  And a whole lot of nutrients.  I think this will be a new morning staple around here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The View From Below

I sent Grant upstairs today to get a new pull-up.  Somewhere along the way, he found Jack's yellow rain boots and put them on.

Good look, don't you think?