Monday, July 30, 2012

Off The Grid

Not that I am that consistent with my blog posts, but I wanted to let all of you know that I will be going off the grid, so to speak, for the next week.  The boys and I are headed to our first ever camping trip sans Brandon for 5 days, and then 2 days of camping as a family.

When I was explaining my plans to a group of friends, one of them said, "You are awesome!".  I'm not sure that was quite the right word to describe what I am about to do.  I will be honest, it won't be hardcore camping as I am just going to a local camp and conference center along with several hundred other people. But I will be sleeping in a tent, with my 3 boys, cooking all my meals on a propane stove - that I'm not even sure how to use, walking quite a ways to the closest bathroom, and possibly going without a shower for several days.

I will be camped next door to a friend, and bringing my 15 year old niece along to help. So, I won't be completely on my own. But let's review what we know about my kids, shall we?

Extremely Active - check
Ridiculously Good Climbers - check
No Fear - check
Loves To Play With Fire - check, check, check

Able To Swim - um, one out of three

Listens Attentively - nope
Responds To Directions - nope
Easy to put to bed - definitely no

So, why am I doing this? I'm not 100% sure. I grew up going to Family Camp (this exact same camp actually) and I loved it. Or at least I believe I did. I have wanted to take my boys for years but was always pregnant, nursing, or dealing with potty training. This seemed like the first year that I could actually pull it off.  I know the boys will love it, at least the swimming, riding bikes, sleeping outside, and playing in the woods. I'm not so sure they will like the classes in the morning and night, but since I am calling that 'my time' they do not really have a choice!

So, for the next week, I will be offline. I am sure I will return with some stories and experiences that will need to be shared.

Until then, here is a picture of my little darlings. Don't you wish you were camping with them?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Staking Claim

I have a bit of obsessiveness about laying claim to items I want to own when said person dies.  When Brandon and I were first married I used to go through his mom's house and mentally catalog the pieces I would want to have after she passed away. I realize that is crazy, and may seem a little callous, but I will pull the dead-dad card and tell you it can't be helped.  

When my Grandma D died, the first thing I asked for was one of her wind chimes that hung in her kitchen. It still hangs outside my front door, 15 years later, and whenever I hear the chimes, it makes me think of her.  

A year or so ago, on our annual work day at my maternal grandma's I remember her telling me about her favorite gardening tool. I call it a 'poker' but I think it has an actual name. All I know is that I have a similar one and it is also my go-to tool for gardening. When she told me that it belonged to her mother, I knew I had to have it.  I waited a little bit, so as not to seem so outrageous, and then gently brought up the fact that I would like to have that tool when she died.  I also claimed it because I have a sneaky suspicion that someone is taking all of the good things from my grandma's and I will be left with some weird knick-knack that holds no meaning for me.  My suspicions were confirmed when Grandma told me that she couldn't find the gardening tool anymore. It conveniently went missing after I said I wanted it. Hmm. She kindly bought me the same tool at ACE but that is not quite the same as having her much used one.

After mourning the loss of the gardening tool, I realized there was something else I wanted. Her recipe book. My grandma is known for her pies, cobblers, breads, and most importantly her cookies. She makes the best 'chocolate chip-less chocolate chip cookies' just for me that are to die for.  I wanted her recipe book and all her recipe cards in her writing.  Take that, garden-tool thief!  

This year for Christmas I unwrapped my present from my grandma and found this book inside. In it, were all of her favorite recipes handwritten, complete with who first originated the recipe. It was a complete who's-who of friends and family who lived on Swede Hill.  All of it in my grandma's writing, complete with personal notes about how she altered the recipe to make it even better.  

It was an incredible gift, and more importantly, she was (with my mom's help) able to photocopy the recipes and hand out 11 books, one to each of her grandkids.  My first attempt at making a recipe from the cookbook did not go well, as I some how combined the cookie recipe and the biscuit recipe together. I didn't realize my mistake until I mentioned to my grandma that I was surprised her cookies needed cream of tartar. They don't she said, well, the recipe I was making did. No wonder the cookies were so biscuit like.

Yesterday I attempted once more to follow one of her recipes. I wanted to make rhubarb cobbler, just like my grandma used to make. With my boys help, we cut down rhubarb from our yard, washed it and assembled the cobbler. The whole time I was talking to them about how I grew up eating this and how this was one of my favorite desserts. We ate it that night still warm from the oven with vanilla ice cream melting on top.  Jack summed it up when he said, "It tastes better then it looks". It was absolutely perfect.  Made even better as the rhubarb I used was taken from a start of my grandma's rhubarb.  

I would love to close this blog post with a picture of the yummy goodness that was my cobbler, but alas, it is all gone. The boys and I finished it off as our afternoon snack today. If any of you, doubt the goodness that is rhubarb cobbler, come on over. I have tons of rhubarb and I am all too happy to follow my grandma's recipe one more time.  I'll even add ice cream as an added incentive.

As much as I love this notebook, I am still keeping tabs on her original recipe book.  I'm just saying.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weather Forecast

Yesterday was a perfect summer day, sunny and warm, but not too hot. It was the kind of day made for sitting by a pool, watching the boys go crazy. Unfortunately, yesterday was my "try-tackle-the-hideous-mess-my-house-has-become" day, and I did not take the boys to a local wading pool.  As they were ramping up for some serious out of control behavior, I realized my Tuesday was wide open. I had plans that were cancelled, so I was looking at a whole day with no obligations.  Perfect, I thought, I will take the boys swimming!

Finn saying "No Thanks" to getting wet
I spent the afternoon researching various wading pools in our area, the boys suggested maybe even going to swim at a local beach, or maybe even a combination of both. Taking a break from my research, I checked Facebook, only to see a friend post a picture of a new splash-park just north of us. The caption on the picture was: "Our new favorite place!". The place looked amazing, the girl looked like she was having a blast, and I knew that was where I wanted to go.

This morning I got up, walked Elsie, packed a picnic feast, packed a bag of swim clothes, towels and sunscreen; and was out of the house by 10:30. I even called a few friends to see if anyone could join us. I figured since Finn is touch and go on the naps, I would just skip it today and plan to spend the whole day (or as long as I could take it) at the park.

What I didn't account for was the weather. Even thought yesterday's forecast showed sun, today was gray and overcast. Not to worry, I told myself, the clouds would burn off. As I was leaving I checked once again, and saw that thunder showers were now being predicted. What? What happened to sunny and 70, baby?  But still I pushed on, I still felt that today was going to turn into one of those glorious sunny afternoons that make you wish you were at a park somewhere, under a big shady tree, watching your kids play in the water.

Trying the water again
Instead, we sat outside for over 3 hours because I was sure the moment I left it would become sunny. We watched the park empty until just a few families remained. We ate our lunch, played on the playground, and even tried getting wet a few times.  At first, only Jack was brave enough to actually stay in the water playing. Micah only lasted a few minutes, and Finn wisely choose to keep his clothes on.

We sat through overcast skies that never quite burned off, we sat through some small rain showers, we sat through the ice cream truck coming three times, we sat until we ate all the food and my phone battery died.  Then we called it a day and packed it up.

We never did have a warm sunny day, but the boys still had fun. As we were leaving (carrying our garbage home to compost, FYI) Finn said this was the best day ever.  As with so many things, it wasn't what I planned or was thinking it would be, but the boys had fun and that is all that matters. In a season of life where I constantly feel like I am failing them, it was nice to take the time to do something just for them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Parade Connoisseur

Since the 4th of July I have seen several friends, read several blogs, and have come to the realization that not everyone spends the 4th of July at a parade. This is shocking to me. In fact, one friend indicated that they spent the day at home, just relaxing.  This makes no sense to me. I don't know if it is because I grew up in a town that had a main street parade, but the 4th of July without a parade seems wrong.

In my adult life (it's been 17 years since I lived at home) I have only missed the hometown parade three times, maybe four.  It used to be a requirement that we go to my mom's for a BBQ, followed by the most awesome parade ever. But then my mother-in-law moved into the area, and the 4th of July became complicated.  You see, the 4th is also my MIL's birthday. We can't just easily trade off years, we have to be at my MIL's every 4th of July to celebrate her birthday.  A few years ago we made the decision to attend the parade in her town, and not attend MY parade.  It was okay, but it still didn't seem like the 4th.

After much soul searching, and maybe some crying, we decided to try to go to BOTH parades in one day.  One parade is at 12:00, the other is at 5:00, perfect!  So, for the last few years we have celebrated the 4th, not with one parade, but with two. And to be honest, I love it! I really do. It makes for a very long, crazy, exhausting day, but I feel that everyone in my family gets something they love from the day.

I get to sit with my mom, sisters, grandparents, nieces (and yes I now have 2 nieces) and nephews, cheering on people we know in the parade, oohing and aahing over the tractors, waving vigorously to the firemen, and standing to cheer for the ever shrinking WWII vets.  Every year it is mostly the same, we start with firetrucks, have several church VBS floats go through, see the cheerleaders the look younger every year, have two different sets of tractors go through, and end with the bagpipes. It is at least an hour long and I love every minute of it.

My husband gets to spend the 4th with his mom, making her happy because we are all at the parade together.  Drinking yummy coffee and watching for the clowns and Star Wars characters. This parade is good, but not as good as the one I grew up with. And no, I am not just speaking as a biased observer.  This parade is not as long, does not have any tractors in it, very few floats, and very little candy.  But it does have full grown adults dressed up in full Star Wars gear, including Darth Vader.  We love this group, but this year we were in for a surprise. In addition to the traditional Princess Leia, we were treated with the captive Princess Leia. You know the one, the costume most men fantasize over.  And, yes, I stared, because how could you not?

My boys mostly enjoy the parades, Finn loves all the big trucks and tractors.  Micah and Jack just want the candy.  When all the parades are over, the food is eaten, it is finally the time of day the boys are most excited for. Lighting off fireworks. Because we end the day in a small town, fireworks are not illegal - well most of them are not. We head to Ocho's house, because she has the best gravel patch for fireworks.  All the boys, including the grown-up ones, start lighting anything and everything on fire. The higher up it goes, or the bigger the bang it makes, is always the favorite ones. My sister, niece, and I, wrap up in blankets, eat popcorn, and try not to scream when the fireworks come too close.

All in all it is a great day. But having seen two parades for the last 3 or 4 years, I am going to add a new title to my name. I am not only a wife, a mother, a teacher, I am also a parade connoisseur.  Maybe one day I could be the grand marshal at the parade. That would be a dream come true!

Just kidding, because then people would be looking at me, and I would be expected to wave and smile.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Real Life

On Friday I had plans. Great plans, in fact. I was headed to a preschool story-time/elementary art-class for my boys at our church. I had a gift card for Red Robin that was burning a hole in my pocket, and the boys had their last day of Little Gym. Which meant I had 3 hours to myself while Finn napped. It was going to be a busy day, but a good day.

At least that was my plan.  Rewind to Thursday night when my spouse says, "I want to take the boys on an adventure!" Fine, but I want to stay home. After a quick trip to a new ice cream store and their favorite park they were home. I enjoyed the time sitting on the couch drinking wine.  Then they all came in. Except for Jack, who came in hopping.  I guess he fell off the monkey bars and hurt his foot. Brandon did not seem concerned so I wasn't concerned either. Jack hopped his way into bed and that was that.

Until Friday morning, when he still could not walk on his foot.  I was unwilling to throw in the towel for my plans, but I knew I needed to at least call the doctor. The last time one of my boys had a mysterious injury, Finn could hardly stand on his leg. He literally, crawled around on the floor crying, until I rushed him to the doctor. Once there he calmly walked into the office and proceeded to show that I was an over-reactive mother. Not this time. I called the nurse, calmly explained what was wrong and that I was sure it was his toe, and I know there is nothing you can do for toes so....  Which is where things went wrong.

"Has he put weight on his foot since he fell?" the nurse asked

"Um, no, but he was in bed sleeping for most of the night." I tried to explain.

"Well, since it happened last night and he still isn't walking on it, we need to see him. How soon can you come in?"

Seriously?  There went my plans. Instead of heading off to see friends, eat a yummy lunch I didn't have to prepare, and attempt to do something productive with my alone time; I found myself sitting in the doctor's office trying to decide the extent of his injury.

Which meant the rest of my day looked like this:

It was a hot day, so sitting inside watching TV all day seemed wrong, but what to do with a 7 year old who can't walk?  Tents, blankets, books, and we were all set. It wasn't a bad way to spend the day, just not what I had in mind.

The good thing that came out of all of this is that we now know Jack is an amazing hopper. Seriously, that kid can get around on one foot like no-one's business.  He also told the x-ray technician, as he hopped his way down the hallway, that it was a good thing he still had one foot to get around on.

Way to look on the positive side of things, Jack!

Monday, July 2, 2012


Brandon is great at offering up ideas in the form of, "You know what you should do...".  He is in fact always full of "shoulds" for other people, not necessarily for himself. I am having one of those days today. I know what I should be doing, but I can't seem to get motivate to accomplish any of my "shoulds".

I should...

  • Finish the toy sorting project I started last week
  • Work on the mountain of laundry piled in my room
  • Put away the too small clothes I have neatly folded into piles
  • Clean the living room - one of the only rooms not full of construction mess
  • Leave the ugliness of the house behind and go outside and weed
  • Finish putting away the odds and ends I brought home from Ikea last week
  • Take a nap - Oh Wait, that would be what I want to do, not what I should do
Instead I sit here on the floor of the playroom, surrounded by piles of toys and, let's be honest, crap, stalking strangers' blogs.  Not a particularly useful way to to spend the small amount of free time I have today, but it seems all that I can muster the energy for.  

I actually think a nap might be more useful then just sitting here. But that would require moving to a more comfortable spot and I am feeling too lazy for even that.  

45 more minutes until the boys return.  I'm kind of thinking I have accomplished all I am going to for today.  Which is pretty much nothing.

I should feel guilty about that, instead, I'll sip some more of my latte and ponder what I should do tomorrow.