Friday, May 28, 2010

I Slept Outside Under the Stars and Lived To Tell About It...

A few of the Girl Scouts the morning after in the Outfield.
I've finally taken my Girl Scout Troop "Camping." Oh sure, we've gone to a camp before and spent the night, but we've never slept outside of a lodge with bunk beds. Camping that requires me to sleep outside with nature has never been high on my list of priorities.

Yeah, I know I'm a Girl Scout Leader, but even I have limits. Outdoor sleeping, cooking on an open flame, bugs, tents, setting up camp are all outside my limits.

The summer before my Seventh Grade year my parents "sent" my best friend Paula and I to Girl Scout Survival Camp. Seriously. We had to pitch our own tents, make our own latrines, and basically survive a week at camp with only the food at the mess hall as our moment of comfort.

It rained the whole entire week. Like buckets of rain. Rain and camping and makeshift toilets do not make for a happy camper. The last night the Camp Director let us sleep inside the Cabin and watch a movie and shower with warm fresh water in a bathroom with actual running water and flushing toilets. Parents' Day and Pickup Day were the next day and I think she wanted to make sure we told our parents what a fabulous time we had at camp, so we'd return the next year. No way!

Needless to say, when I signed my Girl Scout Troop up for an overnight at the Minor League Baseball Stadium, I shuttered just a little. Key Advantages were flushing toilets and no need to cook any meals. We watched a Baseball Game, enjoyed a fireworks show and afterwards, set up our tents on the outfield and watched a movie on the Big Screen Scoreboard.
The whole family came for the game, Miss A really wanted to spend the night too, so I had to "promise" to take her when she's a little older.

Mr. C and J-Rod were probably the only two in our "group" who actually watched most of the game and cheered for the home team. They also got crazy during the 7th inning stretch rendition of the "Take Me Out to the Ballgame!"

The girls loved it. Miss M slept in a tent with her best friend until about 1:30 a.m. when she joined me in mine as her friend kept talking and Miss M wanted to get some sleep! I might have jumped out of my skin when the tent flap unzipped and Miss M walked in, but I had just fallen asleep and I have issues with Bears and large animals! I know Bears don't know how to unzip nor hang out at ballparks, but tell that to my sleeping brain.

Miss M and her best buddy A. Check out Miss M's Blanket. It's a Girl Scout Quilt that her Nana made her for Christmas. Perfect for a night under the stars. She got lots of compliments on this creation.

When the Loud Speaker screamed at us at 5:45 a.m. to wake up it was time to get up, I might have been wishing I was snug in my own bed. Guess that threat of rain made the Baseball Field Manager nervous that 1500 girl scouts would crush his field. Let's just say we made it to the car with all our stuff and were on the interstate back home when the heavens opened wide and poured.

Thanks honey (hubby) for calling me and pushing me to get the gear in the car, now!!

Now the pressure is off. We've slept outside and survived. We can return to Cabin Camping like I "like" or at least as much as I can enjoy the camping experience. I am thankful for a husband to dislikes camping as much as I do. I'm wondering if next year maybe we could look for a Spa Day Camp, with massages, gourmet meals, and 220 thread count sheets on beds. Now that would be relaxing!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Preschool Graduation

She's a Preschool Graduate so watch out world here she comes!
Miss A was so proud to walk across the stage and receive her diploma with a huge grin across her face and parents, grandparents, and big sister cheering her on from the pew. It was the perfect culmination for a great year. It was a great Redshirt year for Miss A.
In so many ways, Miss A is now ready for Kindergarten. She's confident, less shy, and so ready to learn. In fact, I'm not sure her Kindergarten teacher is going to be able to hold her back from learning "everything."
We had the best Preschool teachers ever. Miss Judy and Miss Sue loved her up, challenged her to assert herself, and encouraged the girls in class to be friends. It was extra special that Miss Judy was Mr. C's preschool teacher as well and was one of those adults early in his life who encouraged his inquisitive side. All these years later, it was fun to see this teacher encouraging another child in our family to reach for the stars. What a blessing to be back at this great Preschool for our final year.

Miss A has so many adorable little Preschool girlfriends from this little class. Seeing her giggle and play with these girls in our home and at the park have done great things for my heart. I was a little worried last year after Preschool when there were no "friends" that Miss A had a connection. The girls have big plans for this summer with play dates at the Lake, meeting up at the park for picnics, and of course ,another adventure at the bowling alley. I'm sure there will be lots of giggling, dress up, and singing involved as well.

I'm so excited for our little Preschool Graduate. She' s gonna knock the socks off of Kindergarten!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Racing, Relays and Finish Line Nearing

It's the last week of school around these parts and my brain, bones, and heart are full so I'm resorting to a list of highlights. Too many important things to miss. Too little time to discuss.

1. Amazing Race Dinner: While our family was rooting for a different group to cross the finish line first (the Oklahoma Cowboys), we did enjoy our dinner out in honor of the "Brothers" at a local Greek Restaurant. It was the kids' first taste of Gyros and Baklava and saying Oompa! Full disclosure would say that Miss A did not go near a gyro when she saw Chicken Fingers on the menu, but she loved the honey-nutty dessert. I'm thinking this could be a new family favorite restaurant.

2. Monday will go down as the day that Mom spent "running" from event to event in order not to miss a minute of Field Day, Preschool Lunch at the Park, Barbecue Lunch at the Elementary School, and City Track Meet for Junior High. Running, Jumping, Swinging from Bars and Passing the Baton is not just for kids. That's what I felt like trying to get from here to there and back again.
3. Field Day was perfect. Miss M was sad to think this is her "last" one and the weather was slightly cool, but that didn't' stop here from wearing her new Justice outfit or giggling like crazy with her girlfriends. I got to help with the "Relay Race Station" and loved putting the kids through the drill. They loved doing the Grapevine.

4. Miss A had her own "Fun Day" at Preschool, but parents were not invited to the Bounce House or Paint the Building events. She loved the little ice cream cups with spoons attached and thinks we should maybe purchase some for home as "they are so easy to eat." The lunch afterwards with mom/dad and kids at the neighborhood park involved little actual eating of the lunch and lots of playing, or what Miss A would call a perfect event.

5 .Miss M's BBQ Lunch celebrated the end of 4th Grade and concluded her time in elementary school perfectly. Miss M is a little sad to say goodbye to her school and kept saying all week that she wished the days would slow down it was going too fast. Wait until she becomes the" Mom" and time really goes fast. Thankfully we'll never really leave the school as Miss A will start there in the fall.( It will like 15 straight years there when it's all done!)

6. City Track Meet. Fat Man's Relay. Third Place Finish. Really, what more is there to say, Mr. C is now a City Track Meet Medalist for the 4 by 100 relay team. His Jr. High got first place in the City and the Relay's Team Contribution pushed them over the top. The "team" won by only one point. Way to go Mr. C. Next year, he's hoping that the Golf Team will become an official sport rather than a "club sport" so he can join that team instead. Lots less running.

7. They celebrated "Summer Birthdays" this week at Preschool so Miss A got to bring the snack and juice boxes. We broke all the rules and ordered the Cookies from a local bakery with purple and green frosting. No less than 5 people came up to me with the phrase," You are breaking the no frosting rule." Yep, that's me a rebel and of course the fact that I had asked permission and the teacher planned on taking the kids outside to eat!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Funny Things I've Heard This Week

I think my children are catching on to the fact that I'm writing their little "quips" here on the blog. In fact, Miss A told me yesterday; "Don't tell anyone I said that especially not the blog." While I probably should listen to her request, I know someday she'll look back on these words and laugh and giggle at the "funny" things she and her siblings said and did.
At least I hope so!
Yesterday, we discovered that Miss A had a little rash on her back and I called the Ask-A-Nurse Line at 8:30 pm on what they thought we should do.
Miss A was not happy that we were talking about her. She didn't like that we were asking about her back and was very concerned she'd need surgery or a hospital trip to solve the problem. Guess she's seen her share of "big" things and got nervous. Poor girl.
Anyway, the nurse suggested Benadryl for relief. So off we went to Walgreens to pick some up and Miss A wanted to come along in her Princess Pajamas and Purple Crocs.
She asked what were getting her. Was it a shot, medicine to take for the rest of her life, or what? I told her Benadryl. "How do you spell that?" she asked. I explained it like Ben.. a Drill.
"Oh, like Ben our cousin?" I said yes. "Oh like Ben who's your brother...JOOOE?" ? She then repeated this phrase a few times drawling out the JOOOE just like 18 month Ben does when asked his brother's name. It's so charming and adorable.
Yes Miss A, that Ben.
"Oh, I sure wish Ben lived in America."
You see Ben lives in Wisconsin, and we saw him a few weeks ago at the Family Wedding. Guess in her eyes Wisconsin/Minnesota is not America!
Honors' Night was this week at the Junior High School and in addition to Mr C getting his honors, my Niece was getting a Memorial Scholarship at the event. It was going to be an exciting evening.
Well, for everyone except Mr. C who was recognized Summa Cum Laude, Student of Distinction and about 10 other things he's participated in this year at school. You see you have to sit through all of 7th and 8th grade being acknowledged and he had to do it sitting in the front row!
"Next year, let's just make our own honors night at home. I'll pick up the Certificate at school and then that night you can announce my name, read off the honors, and then I'll walk down the stairs and receive the paper. Lots less time, lots more fun. What do you think, Mom?"
Mr C made the City Finals next week for Track. I told him how proud I am of his tenacity this year by sticking it out and making it the end. "Oh Mom, we are the only 'Fat Man Relay Team' at my school and every school gets to send one team?"
I told him, years from now no one will know that is the reason he's going. He can just tell his kids he was in the City Finals for Track. They will be impressed.
"Oh, so some of your tales from High School and College are exaggerated then too?"
You gotta hate it when the kid gangs up on you.
Finally, I'll leave you with a sign we saw in a neighbor's yard that really gave us all a chuckle this week. Mr C took the photo with his cell phone after we drove around the block first to make sure no one was at home.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First Shall Be Last

Miss A and the plate she made for Mother's Day.

In my heart of hearts, I know that each time Miss A experiences a "first" in her life that it will be the last one we will have at our house. The baby day "firsts "were easy to take; first smile, first laugh, first steps, first haircut, first words, etc. These so called "firsts" meant she was becoming more independent, more a little girl and less a baby. As a toddler, I celebrated each move towards independence and cheered when she needed less of me taking care of her as it meant more of just enjoying her.
Nowadays, these "firsts" are pulling at the heartstrings just a little bit more. In many ways, her "firsts" are my "lasts." It will be my last time going to a Mother's Day Tea, the last time I'll have Preschool Art Projects to hang on the fridge, and the last days of having a child hang out with me during the school day.

Miss A at the Preschool Mother's Day Tea. Each Mom got a Class Cookbook with our

"Favorite Chef's" Picture on the front cover.

As we come to the close of her preschool days, I know that it means she'll be needing less and less of me and spending more and more time away from home. Miss A will be in all day kindergarten next fall. She only has 4 more days of preschool.
I've had someone in Preschool for the past 10 years. Yes, we had a little bit of a break between Miss M and Miss A, but I had a tiny baby at home then so I still had someone under my care day in and day out.
Next week, Miss A will graduate from Preschool. She'll have her "first" graduation and I'll have my "last" moments as a Preschool graduate's mother.
When Miss A told me a week ago that she had a loose tooth, I thought it was just wishful thinking on her part. She's seen her siblings lose teeth and get money from the mysterious Tooth Fairy. Since she'd recently been asking for money for treats at the snack shack, I thought that must be where she got the idea. However, when I took a closer look at her bottom front tooth, I knew she wasn't joking.
My husband warned me that I better get ready for another "first." I told him those first loose teeth take weeks to come out. Yeah, guess that's only true when the child doesn't spend up to 10 hours a day wiggling it with her finger, tongue and juice cup. No joke. She was determined to loose that "baby."

Notice the "Gap" in the front of her mouth. First Lost Tooth.

Lose it she did. With just a little bit of "help" from her father. she now has gap in her smile. Just another "First" for Miss A and yet another "last" for her mother.
In thinking of these moments over the past few days, I determined that I can either enter into these "lasts" with trepidation and sorrow or I can embrace them with joy and excitement. Miss A was so proud when her tooth came out she had to call both sets of grandparents to let them know. When she found out the tooth fairy came during the night, she recommend that maybe the "whole family should go to bed at 7:00 p.m. tonight just in case she comes early." She was beyond thrilled when she woke the next morning to find a dollar under her pillow.
I've decided to take these "lasts" as a sign of a new adventure. Who knows what God has in store for me in the coming years. As my days become filled with less of daily care of small children, I can use my time more for His service. I can embrace the "last" and the change as a "first" for me as a person, wife, and mother.
For thirteen years, I've been wrapped up in being at home with little kids. Now I can wrap my mind and self around new adventures while I wait for my "big kids" to come home from school each afternoon. Instead of seeing the late afternoon as the leftover time, I can fully enjoy those hours with my kids and husband.
Yes I'm celebrating Miss A's "Firsts" and her "Lasts" with joy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WFMW: Participating in a Community Garden

I wanted to plant a garden in our yard this summer. I read some online articles, walked through the garden center at Lowe's, and dreamed of building garden boxes like Pioneer Women. Reality however is that spring is really crazy in our house with Band Concerts, Ball Games, and End of School events fill our calendar up weeknight and weekend which leaves very little time for tilling the ground or making a plan.


In addition, our backyard is also one of the neighborhood baseball/kickball/playgrounds and the kids were less than thrilled that I'd be taking away their valuable play area for planting vegetables (especially vegetables).


When I saw in our church bulletin that they were contemplating a Community Garden, I jumped at the chance to sign up for a plot. Our church is blessed with an abundance of land and all that was needed was some tilling (OK a little bit more than a little tilling, but thankfully I wasn't recruited to do this part) to get the garden ready for planting. This is one of many benefits of having Boy Scouts use your church. They are often willing to volunteer their time to help.


The plan is that each "gardener" would purchase a plot for a small fee ($20) and then plant the crops they want to grow in their own 5 x12 feet plot of land. Walkways between the beds would be maintained and a fence would go up around the outside to keep away hungry rabbits and deer. You are responsible for your own area and the only thing the church wants in return for providing the land is that we tithe 10% of our bounty to either the Food Bank or a Family in Need. I thought that this was a great idea!


A Master Gardener came to talk to all the interested gardeners about the best plants to use, the best way to keep out pests and animals, and the best way to make a Community Garden work. Being such a novice gardener, she gave me some great advice. Who knew that the reason you use a soaker hose on a garden or plants is that it goes right into the ground rather than staying on the leaves causing rot and disease.


My mom, hearing of this great idea for Fresh Produce, quickly climbed on board and we are going to share two plots. Our plan is to grow a Salsa Garden along with Zucchini and Sweet Corn and maybe even some Lettuce varieties. Growing up, I remember my mom having a garden and picking cucumbers for pickling so I can't wait for the third generation to try their hand at this. We'll have a couple different types of tomatoes, jalapenos, green peppers, onions, and other things growing in our own little piece of "the land."


The kids have been told they will have to help with the garden by weeding, picking, and maintaining. I'm excited about making jars of Salsa, Pickles, Pico de Gallo, and Chocolate Zucchini Bread all summer long. At the suggestion of the Master Gardener, my back deck will have the rest of things we need such as cilantro, chives and dill growing in little pots so they are easily accessible whenever I need them.

The plans for the Community Garden also include Work Days and Social Gatherings. We are hoping that this will not only be a means for producing good healthy food, but a way to build community within our church. We'll have certain nights that the garden will busy with people working their plots and we'll try to have a summer Watermelon Feed and Scarecrow Making Event for families. They are even thinking of turning the garden into a pumpkin patch this fall.


All in all, this Community Garden Idea Works for My Family because it allows me to try my hands at gardening without tearing up my yard, learning from the other gardeners, and a chance to know my fellow church members. I can't wait to come back this summer with pictures of my "harvest a plenty."


For more WFMW ideas go to We are THAT Family.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Minnesota Part Two The Fun Continues

Visiting the Dock Behind Uncle K and Aunt L's Old House. Full of Memories for Mom and Uncle S so we just had to get a picture of "our kids" on that dock
The girls in our family want to move to Minnesota. Miss A and Miss M are convinced that Minnesotans have more fun, better shopping, greener grass, prettier flowers, and of course, Mall of America. I think in their minds you could go to MOA every weekend to ride the rides, go to American Girl Doll and shop your hearts out!

Coming down the stairs at Stillwater

Hamburgers and Malts at Leo's Malt Shop in Stillwater

Cousins- We missed Cousin L who was back at home for her Prom. I think Mr. C and Cousin A drank a Chocolate Malt in her honor.

They are having a hard time convincing my husband to make the move to this Northern Climate-Frozen Tundra Land. You see he's not easily fooled by the beauty of Minnesota in Spring. He understands that Spring comes after many long months of WINTER. You know those Minnesota Winters where you have to have a roof rake for the snow, where the sun doesn't shine very often in December, January or February, and where when it does shine you know that it is even colder because there is no cloud break. Needless to say, I don't think we will be moving, but we sure did enjoy our weekend in the Twin Cities.

We found this cute little shop with a basement full of Beads. A wonderful Art Teacher was working there and helped the girls make bracelets for the Wedding that night. Perfect!

Proudly showing off their new creations.

We had fun visiting the St Croix river town of Stillwater even if we didn't see the man swimming across the river on a raft to go to work like we did last time. We got to show off this quaint little town to our family, make bracelets in the jewelry shop, climb the stairs outside the cave, and eat great burgers at the Malt Shop. Miss A even got to go the new Teddy Bear Park which she loved and is begging us to take her back too soon.
Miss A and Dad went on an adventure at Teddy Bear Park. Climbing the Big Wall, sitting on a Teddy Bear's Lap and Crossing a Miniature Bridge over the River were highlights. Next time Mom gets to go too!

On Sunday, we had fun with the cousins at Mall of America's Nickelodeon Park. It's hard to beat an amusement park that's all inside with no bugs, no heat and the perfect size lines. Mr C found out he likes Roller Coasters, who knew? In the past, he's avoided the "fast rides," but this trip he tried a few out. Miss M went on the climbing wall with her cousins and made it all the way to the top to ring the bell. She, of course, rode every ride she could, but especially those that were fast, upside down, had steep drops and all. Miss A was tall enough to go on almost everything and seems to take after her sister in her willingness to try them all out. Good thing Dad is a good sport and joined them on the rides as they are really not my thing. I am great at holding things, watching from the sidelines and taking pictures. I figure someone needs to be "that person" right?

Miss A loved Jimmy Neutron's Atomic Blast. She made everyone go on this ride with her-many times. Good thing Dad didn't throw up!

Log Chute Ride. Loved their faces on the "falls" .
Mr. C ready to go on the "Pepsi Orange Crush" roller coaster. He ended loving it. Miss M and Dad went on it many times. Poor A went just once as the strap hurt her ear and she wouldn't go again.
Loved this picture that the "park" took, but wasn't sure it was worth the $10 purchase price, so I just took a picture of the picture. Evidence the Mr. C liked it.

Miss M was having such a great time on the rides that she couldn't be bothered to go to the new American Girl Doll Store inside MOA so Miss A and I enjoyed a little jaunt inside. It's nice, but having been to the Chicago Store and celebrating at the AG Restaurant on Michigan Ave and inside the Water Tower, it's hard to think of this store as more than just a small sampling of what American Girl has to offer. Miss A was thrilled to get her own American Girl Doll Store Red Shirt and had to wear it to Preschool a few days later.
Trademark Red American Girl Doll Bag. Miss A walked away with just a t-shirt this time, but a huge list of "things" she needs for her birthday. It is coming you know. Only 4 more months to go!

All in all we had a wonderful Spring Vacation to the land of 10,000 lakes and enjoyed some fun family time in the midst of this hectic end of the school year chaos. A family wedding, reunion and trips to Stillwater and MOA were just perfect for our family.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Double Digit Birthday

Miss M celebrating early last week in Minnesota

Miss M is turning 10 today. Double Digits. A whole decade. Impossible. Just weeks ago, she was the adorable little blond curly hair girl who loved twirling around the family room. Where has the time gone?

Miss M celebrating her 2nd Birthday in 2002. She'd just gotten the Blue Glasses that day and it really opened up her world.

We are celebrating today at the fields with Softball, Baseball, and Soccer Games along with Mother's Day dinner with Nana and Papa. She's waiting to have her "party" when it warms up a little around here as she wants to do a Lake Party again. By the way, it's only 49 degrees today!!

M last year on her 9th Birthday.

Miss M was such a happy little baby. She adored her big brother and was just like a little mother when Miss A was born. She's tender hearted, tenacious in her beliefs about how things should be, deep thinking, thrilled to be part of the action, but lalso oves to be by herself and quiet, she loves to read and finishes books in just a few days (just like her mother), her room is always just a bit "messy" but she knows "where it all goes and is," and she loves her family and God deeply. She loves dancing, softball, and is into roller coasters. Just last week, she went "Climbing" on the high rock wall at Mall of America and has no real fears.

Miss M and her best Friend AW at Family Fun Night at School. These girls can really giggle and have fun together -sleep overs are a favorite.

Miss M is always "Real" and is confident in who she is and what she is capable of doing. She's got big dreams for the future and I'm confident God has big plans for her. Being a middle child is not easy, but M handles with grace and has been the best big sister that Miss A could ever want.
Miss M and Miss A early on the morning of her 7th Birthday-2007
Happy First Decade Miss M! Your Dad and I are so thrilled that you joined our family on May 8, 2000 and can't wait to see what the next half dozen decades will be like!!

Love Ya Sweetie!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Who Says Family Reunions Can't Be Fun?

Cousins along the St Croix River

We just got back from a Family Reunion of sorts and I must admit my kids had a blast. (the Parents did too!) With both of us having very small families, we don't get invited to many weddings, baby showers or graduation type events. No big family reunions with matching shirts or entire hotel floors filled with cousins upon cousins along with those weird uncles and crazy aunts. We barely have enough people at a holiday dinner to justify a "kids table."

This weekend, however, we were thrilled to go to a second cousin's wedding and whoop it up on the dance floor just like a big "Greek wedding." Without the Greek Festivities of course, but it was in Minnesota so that's pretty exotic!

Miss M and Miss A dancing

Our entire Family took a road trip to the Twin Cities and got to see "family" and celebrate a wedding. We even took up a few hotel rooms and, on Sunday morning, the Breakfast Buffet at the Hotel was beginning to look a little bit like a real Family Reunion (but still no T-Shirts). I'm so happy my kids got to experience this, as Minnesota and our "Minnesota Family" hold some fabulous memories of my childhood. In fact, I can vividly remember dancing at the Bride's Mother's Wedding 30 plus years ago! Wow I'm getting old!!

Family Weddings are fun.

Nana & Papa with A and C

Miss A and Miss M danced their hearts out at the reception. Miss A was beyond worried before the dance that she didn't have a "partner" to dance with and was actually scoping out her 1 1/2 year old third cousin as a potential dance partner. Sadly, Mr Ben went to bed before the dancing began!

C and A Dancing

Dad and his "Girls"

Not to fear, however, as big brother, Uncle S, Papa and of course Dad were around to dance with her along with the big cousins and finally Mom! Miss M was whooping it up with Cousins N and the Minnesota Cousins and soon the shoes were ditched table side. Poor Mr C soon decided that the "guys" should head to the hotel room for a little PlayStation. Thank goodness for boy Cousins to hang with as you wouldn't want to put that "Cotillion Dance Lessons" to work would you!

Mr C and his Boy Crew- "When Can We Leave?"

Really Can We Leave Now?

Miss A and Her Uncle S twirling

Finally, it looks like we need to be planning our own wedding around here as Miss M caught the bouquet! Yep, our almost 10 year old daughter strategically planned to get in the middle of the group and used her softball instincts to catch the flowers. It was hilarious to watch the young single women look at her in shock. According to M, they should have known better than to stand in the front row," you knew she could throw farther than that." I'm just hopping she's OK with an arranged marriage and very, very long engagement.

Get Ready Miss M it's almost Tossing Time

Miss M with her prized bouquet
Family Wedding Trips now rank up with our kids' most favorite vacation ideas. Of course, we did more in Minnesota than just dance and eat wedding cake so I'll post on the rest of the fun next time!