Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Zoo Trips, Freezing Time and Facing Fears: Spring Break Begins

The big kids had Spring Break last week. Of course, we still had Preschool which resulted in a few "late" drop offs. Guess it's easier for me to have a packed morning and get people places on time then to have nothing until after 9 a.m.

All this extra time also meant that I forgot Snack Day last week at Preschool which put me on the "bad mother" list. Let's just say Miss A is so forgiving. She didn't even tell me of my indiscretion until bedtime. I, of course, could barely sleep that night. To ease my guilty conscience, we'll be trading with an April snack person to make it up and replenishing the "snack closet" in the director's office.
Besides my Preschool failings, we did have a wonderful break from the normal routine. The weather was less than stellar, but there were enough glimpses of spring to give us hope. We even make a trek to the Zoo for the day. For the first time in ages, we "bravely" entered the Nighttime Exhibit where it's dark and scary. If you don't believe me, just ask the kids.

Inside the "Bat Cave" in the Nocturnal Dessert Exhibit. I'm not too keen on Bats, but they are behind thick pieces of glass, and for the most part are all asleep. Let's just say I keep my eyes closed at these moments

I think this is the first time in 4 years that we've even attempted this on a Zoo Trip. Before there were always crying and gnashing of teeth about the "huge alligators" that could kill you, the "big scary bats" that are poised and ready to take a bite out our neck, and the fact that it's as "dark as black" (whatever that means.)
Brave we are not! But we faced our fears and except for the running in the "swamp" to escape those ferocious alligators, we had fun. Lesson of the day, it's not nearly as dark and scary as you think, and if a five year old is willing to go, it's hard for anyone to object.

Looking down the waterfall at the Floor of the Jungle, which is a close as we got!

However, it was the mother who was most nervous about one part of the trip. I'm not a fan of our indoor jungle. Oh sure, I love that it's 75 degrees there every day of the year, but could do without all the "humidity." However, it's the floor level of the jungle that I refuse to enter. In fact, I'll do anything to avoid it. I'll wander the top floor with steamed glasses and ooh and aah over the birds, monkeys, and foliage, but you can't convince me to go below.

Fifteen years ago, my husband and I went to the Jungle for a special evening event with our niece. She was all of two maybe and we were walking about without fear. We were clueless that hundreds of B A T S live in the jungle. Within moments they were flying about everywhere. Big Black B A T S. We quickly escaped without little L having any idea that we were scared spitless. As we fled, we warned other groups about the B A T S's. The spelling was designed to keep the little one calm. Once to "safety," we had a good laugh.

Since then, I've not gone back to the floor of the jungle willingly. I avoid it all cost. BATS are the scariest animal in my book.

Next, the five year old is trying to convince the big kids that this summer we should go on the "sky lift" over the zoo and see what the animals look like from "way up high." Of course, Mr C. being the ever conservative thinker and safety expert said that probably won't be a good idea as he might loose his lunch over the bears. Miss M, much more concerned with fashion and style, said to remind her not to wear flip flops on that day as she'd hate to lose a shoe over the giraffes.

The most memorable moment of our Zoo Trip however occurred at the Penguin Exhibit. I was watching the Zoo Keepers throw snow around the exhibit and saw a penguin slide down a "hill" when the snow got under him. Poor guy looked shocked to be in a downward spiral to the bottom of the snow mountain. I couldn't help myself and I laugh out loud.

Miss A who was sitting next to me, resting up from all the walking heard my laugh and asked "what is so funny?" I relayed the story about the snow and the free fall.

Miss A's response: "Could you Fast Back I missed that."

Yes, she wanted me to rewind real life. To go back in time so she could watch real life again. She asked me again to "fast back" time so she could see the "funny thing that happened."

I have but one thing to say, "This Girl is too used to the DVR!!"

Sorry honey, but real life doesn't have a rewind button. Oh but if it did!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Teenager Among Us

We have a real life teenager living in our house. As of March 20th at 6:13 p.m., Mr. C is 13 years old. While I could wax nostalgic about "where has the time gone" and "what happened to that chubby cheek little boy who wore smocked outfits and buck skin shoes" or "how did I get old enough to have a teenager," I'll stick to the facts.
Our oldest child is now a teenager. He's just 5 short years from leaving the nest. Our son is on the verge of becoming a real life man.
While I couldn't be prouder of the young man he is today and can only imagine the great things God has in store for his future, I really can't believe we have entered this new phase of parenting called "the teenager years."
Back to the celebrating. You only turn 13 one time and we did our best to have a whale of a good time.
First, there were Homemade Waffles

Followed by Present Opening. Let's just say the picture of the new Swiss Army Wallet from his sisters and the Golf Gift Cards from his parents didn't turn out. Something about Sisters getting in the way...

Then we had Lunch at Five Guys Hamburgers with Nana and Papa. We love this place!!

Yes, Mr. C is wearing an In & Out Burger T Shirt to Five Guys ....we don't have an In & Out around our parts so we don't feel bad advertising a competitor when the nearest In & Out is a 1000 miles away. Hint Hint..In & Out move closer!

Finally, there was the "Concert". C's first official concert. It was a family affair. Too bad our fabulous floor seats were "too loud" for the girls so we quickly went from up close and personal with the bands to far and away. Dad and C had a great time jammin out with the floor crowd, even if it was hours before poor dad could hear again. We loved Fee, Sidewalk Prophets and, of course, the David Crowder Band.

I'm thinking that now that C's been to a real concert, we'll be making this a regular event. The fact that he's already planning on downloading a number of the songs to his Ipod this week makes this mother's heart proud. Gotta love a kid who likes to rock out with Jesus songs!!

After the concert, we (the girls) did get to "high five" A's favorite singer, Francesca Battistelli or as she is commonly called around here as the "ripped jeans girl."

Here's Francesca asking how to spell Miss A's name. Of course, Miss A was shy and nervous, but afterwards the words were flying out of her mouth. She was so excited. It was the best concert ever, the most fun ever....

Miss M was much more reserved, but just as thrilled. She did point out however that this was her 2nd "real concert" as she got to see the Jonas Brothers in concert two years ago. Guess she was the "experienced" one. Yet, somehow she ended up sitting in the way back with Mom and Miss A. Maybe, she's not so "fancy" after all.
Even after a whole day of celebrating, we weren't done yet as we had to have cake on Sunday Night to finish the whole 13th year celebration.

Mr C, let me just tell you what a gift you are to your Dad and I. We love you to pieces and can't imagine a better son. You make us proud every day and we are so thrilled to see the faith you have and the wisdom you have grow deeper and more profound every year. We know that God has big things planned for you and your life and we are thrilled that we get to watch you along the way.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gardening Questions: Give Me Your Best Advice

Oh What A Beautiful Morning. Oh What A Beautiful Day! That song just pops into my head on "spring days" like today. Sure the grass is still "off limits" to the children; too mushy and gross and the streets are a mix of pot hole city and the city beach with all the sand still on them, but there is something about a 50 degree day to give a city girl like me hope that soon...very soon it will be spring.
I'm going to call this my spring of planting. I'm going to research plants, vegetables and flowers that will make my garden pretty, productive, and plentiful. I'm going to get my fingers dirty this spring/early summer digging up grass, mud, and gunk and getting some beds ready for growing season.

Here's where I need some help. I do not have a green thumb. I don't like to get too dirty. I have a gardening budget that's not huge, but I'm willing to invest in a few good plants. We are thinking of renting a sod cutter to cut out some beds in the backyard (East side of the house) and then there is an area by our air conditioner on the side of the house (south side) that needs some sprucing up too.
Give your best ideas. Shoot me some gardening book names, plant names, vegetables that grow well and give a good harvest. Please start with the basics.
Remember last year, I grew one tomato plant? I want more. I want to have couple plants in the ground as opposed to a box. I want cucumbers and some spices too.
I want flowers that like shade and some that really like afternoon sun.
We live in Gardening Zone 5-6 so keep that in mind with your suggestions. Doesn't that make it sound like I know what I'm talking about? I don't. Trust me.
I want to get the kids involved too.
Few things to remember: I'm not a farmer. I don't have a huge garden plot. I don't have a staff of gardeners that will help me keep it all up. It will be just me and the kids. Heavy Labor and Really Dirty Stuff will need to be done by the honey, but remember he works a real job too, and I have inside projects (painting the kitchen and family room) that he's suppose to work on, too.
Ready, Set, Give your best advice. For the commenter with the best advice, I promise a "grand prize" of homemade secret recipe chocolate chip cookies. I'll even ship them to you anywhere in the continental USA.
Thanks in advance. My garden/yard thanks you too.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's Birthday Week and I Can Breath Again

The March Birthday Boys at a Stars Wars Exhibit

I've finally gotten my voice back. For most of last week and over the weekend I could barely talk above a whisper. My children learned to read my hand signs and motions as my husband was enjoying the sweet bliss of quiet in the evenings once the children went to bed. Nothing like a winter cold that lasts for days and leaves your nose as red as Rudolph's!

Let's just say I've glad to be back among the living and talking. At least until 6:00 a.m. each morning when the alarm goes off and I silently scream at the inventor of Daylight Savings Time!

It's birthday week around here as my husband's birthday is today and our son's birthday is Saturday. I'm am sure to get nostalgic later this week when I realize that our first born is turning thirteen! Where did that time go?

The St Patrick's Day birthday is always fun, especially considering he's 100% Norwegian and was born on the patron saint of the Ireland's Day of Glory. Happy Birthday, Honey! I'm blessed to call you my best friend and husband and the best father for our children. If only you didn't bleed "burnt orange" you'd be perfect! I love the fact that on your birthday, the biggest "party" day of the year, you are coming home for a Taco Dinner and then leading a group of young people at Confirmation tonight. What a Godly man you are to put Him first on your big day!

I made Pico de Gallo from scratch for you in honor of your favorite state. Plus, I thought that might make the boring old tacos seem somewhat fancy. I'll have you know, however, that Miss A is very disappointed that we are not eating at church tonight since Chicken Nuggets and Bread Sticks Night is her favorite meal there. According to her, I should look the other way tonight when we get to church because she's gonna steal a nugget.

Your presents are waiting on the fireplace and, if Miss A and Miss M don't tell you about them first, I'm sure you are going to love them! We'll celebrate for "real" this weekend! By real of course, I mean we'll go out to a real restaurant and I'll take pictures and we'll tell the waiter it's C's birthday and watch a 13 year old blush when they sing to him.

Happy Birthday! May you always have the luck of the Irish!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Survived Teaching Knitting to Girl Scouts

"Knitting bags" ready for Girl Scout Lessons
In through the door.

Up over the back.

Peek thru the window

Out jumps Jack.

Mothers should not be allowed to get sick. There should be a magic pill they give you after you deliver your first child that fends off any illness for life (or at least until all the kids are out of the house). I've been battling a bad cold for the past few days so between feeling like my head might explode and my throat must be on fire, I've also heard the fabulous sounds of knitting needles clinking and stitches being counted.

I "taught" my Girl Scout troop to knit on Monday. Really, I taught them a catchy poem (see above), gave them a bag with needles, yarn and instructions, and then, after watching a video on a big screen about Continental Knitting, set them free.

Each Bag Contained a Pair of Bamboo Needles and Yarn- I cast on 24 stitches and did two rows to get them started.

Which meant my mother and I helped, ripped off, cast on again and started over, and tried to teach them to knit a dishcloth. Thank goodness my mother was able to come as 16 girls quickly outnumber you. She is a former Girl Scout leader (mine) so she understands.
By the end of the day, about 1/2 the girls seemed to be "getting" it and the other 1/2 were struggling. Only one cried in frustration. Next week, we'll try again at my house instead of at the library at school so it will be just a few of the girls who really want to learn. In two more weeks, my mother is bringing in reinforcements for me. A few of her girlfriends who knit are coming to help me for our final class. Thank you Mom!

Above all though, my own daughter "caught the knitting bug" she's been working on her project a little every night and once again in the morning before school. She's getting it. She counts her stitches each row. Sometimes there is an additional one thrown in and we get rid of it the next time and her stitches are a little tight, but in reality, she's light years ahead of me when I learned two years ago and decades younger so I'm thinking that she'll surpass my skills sooner rather than later!

M's project thus far. Looking good.
I told M yesterday that if she's the only one who picks up knitting as a hobby from all of this work it will be worth it. I'm not sure I would have had the patience to just teach her alone. Somehow the pressure of the group made me more comfortable.

Her mother, grandmother and bestemor will be so proud of her finished project that we might have to frame it. This morning, as we were heading out the door to school, I tried to rush her up and her response to me was priceless: " just a minute mom, I've just got two more stitches to do."

Guess this cold I have really isn't so bad. At least my ears are clear and I can hear those wonderful words flow out of her mouth.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Brain is Mush and Soon My Hands Will Be Too....

According to my son, I should ask for a room at the Elementary School. Guess he thinks I spent a little too much time there this week. I agree with Mr. C. It was fun while it lasted, but I'm glad I'm done with Hospitality for a little while.

As such, my brain is tired and to top it off I'm teaching my Girl Scout troop how to KNIT on Monday! What am I thinking? 18 girls, ages 9-10, and me. My knowledge of knitting is just two years old and I really only know how to knit and purl, cast on, cast off, and sometimes pick up a dropped stitch. Emphasis on sometimes.

Reading patterns, picking out yarn, knit together, double pointed needles is all French to me! Really, I'm in over my head. I just want to pass on this fabulous craft to kids and get them all fired up about something they can do with their hands besides play video games.

Pray for me. We are going to learn how to knit continental style and attempt to make either a scarf or dishcloth. I'm letting them pick. My lovely knitting group donated a bunch of yarn to share with the girls. We are working with size 9 needles that each girl is going to take home and hopefully continue this new hobby.

Now I just have to cast on yarn onto 18 sets of needles by Monday at 3:30 pm.

Just so you don't think this has been a lost week, there have been some very classic conversations and events that have kept my spirits up and laughter a daily occurrence.

First,Miss A and I were talking about Kindergarten next year and how much fun she's going to have. According to her,she already knows how to read (silently to herself I guess),how to do "math, and everything else about the school. However, when she asked if Kindergarten is every day and I said yes it is, her response was, "I'll have to think about that!"

Second, Mr C had his second middle school dance after school on Friday. When I asked him if he was going, he said "of course" and took four dollars to school to buy tickets; two for him and two for a buddy in case he forgot the money. When he came home with two dollars left in his pocket, I asked why didn't his friend want to go. According to C, his friend wasn't willing to spend two dollars to embarrass himself. C of course said, "I embarrass myself everyday for free, so what's two dollars."

He had a great time at the dance. Just for grandparents, there is no such thing as dancing "with someone" at a Jr. High Dance. C says you just "get out there and dance" since the music is to fast to worry about anyone else. His mother is fine with that. If you remember, his moves might just scare off a few girls, too!

Finally, Miss M, who is normally much more serious and has a deep perspective on culture, life and everything else, had this profound statement when we picked C up from the dance yesterday. "Jeez, that girl is wearing PJ shorts to school, where is her mother ? They are even too short for pajamas. Seriously what was she thinking."

To paint the picture for you, it was 40 degrees out, the kids were going straight from class to the dance so no time to "change" in between and we saw numerous girls wearing shorts, very small skirts, and what Mr. C likes to call "Shorty McShort Shorts" that should not be allowed outside your house.

Nice to know she's listening and getting the picture of the image we want for her. You go girl!!