Monday, September 9, 2019

Back to School for Four Days.

We had the last few days of summer, and then school started Thursday. To keep busy during the final days of summer, I introduced the girls to a game of my childhood. Stickball. Okay, maybe I'm not THAT old, but we did play "Guess Who".

I haven't played this game for quite some time, but I do remember thinking I needed to ask tons of questions in order to narrow down the card that the other player had. Now I realize that you can pretty much get there in four questions--gender, hair color, hat/no hat, and glasses/no glasses. 

But my kids have definitely NOT figured that out yet. They ask the worst questions. June will look at the picture of ONE possibility, see that their names has an "L" somewhere in it and ask, "Does your person have an "L" as the second letter in their name?" And when you say no, she puts down that ONE card. Painful.

Gwen repeats the same questions over and over. I believe I was asked if my person had a "moo-stache" three times in a row during one especially hot game.

But I can't beat them too easily. I always have Harris on my team, and he loves to knock down as many people as he can, set them back up, and do it again. So I get to memorize who is really up versus down, and my 4-kid mom brain can barely keep up with it.

A bunch of detectives, my kids.

We had a Back to School Feast. I had planned to do an amazing dinner, but we had so many leftovers in our fridge, I just couldn't justify it. So we ate boring leftovers, but presented the girls with a scripture theme for the year, as well as a small present to wear every day.

The theme:

Dan and I thought and prayed about this and felt that our family could make some really huge changes by doing some small things. So we are hoping to focus on that this year, teaching the kids how a small amount of preparation can lead to more successful days. The first thing we want to focus on is listening better. That's something we all really need to work on.

And a present:

The girls and Dan and I each received a heart necklace, so we are all connected throughout the day. Dan is going to hang his on the rearview mirror of his car, and I will probably have to do the same since it fits like a choker on my neck.

The night before school, I had the girls make their own lunches. I've tried this before and have failed miserably. This year is going better because of two combined factors--1. I made all of the sandwiches beforehand, and 2. My expectations have lowered significantly.

On Labor Day, I spent some time making several loaves' worth of sandwiches, slicing them diagonally, wrapping them in foil, and storing them in ziplock freezer bags. So now when the girls "make" their lunch, they grab one of the frozen sandwiches, and then they really only have to throw things into their compartments, and then they are good to go.

They also need a snack every day and can pack that in these handy dandy reusable snack bags I bought.

The First Day of School!!!

The most anticipated day in Gwen's little life finally came, and she got to start school.

I think it was a bit of a disappointment to her because she said she didn't make any friends the first day. I think she expected to run around on the playground all day and then made the realization we all arrive at eventually--school involves a lot of sitting.

Don't get me wrong--my girls both seem to like school. But Gwen especially is not the world's best sit-ter. And she told me she will start getting homework soon. Kindergarten homework has got to be against the law.

Of course, we had to reenact the photo from Dan's childhood when his older brother left him behind for school:

And here's the one from last year again (which was unintentional but inspired us to make this reenactment a "thing"):

Can you believe how much my girls have changed?

And the glorious backpack and lunchbox choices. Gwen went with a rainbow unicorn motif, but not to be outdone, June went with a rainbow heart FLIP SEQUIN motif.

I feel like such a chump when I buy stuff like that. Like the Claire's Icing store just barfed all over my living room.

Harris wanted to be included with the cute doggie backpack I bought to carry his diapers and wipes that we take to the gym when I work out. He loves the backpack and has yet to actually wear it once. That's what I'm for, I guess.

We walked over with some friends, and I showed the girls where to get in line for their classes. Some boys in June's class were obviously BFFs who were reunited after a long summer. They bro-hugged, and then their moms stepped into take a picture of the two of them, arms around each others' shoulders.

June, not to be excluded, marched right up, put her arm around a shoulder and smiled for the picture just in time. June, the unintentional photobomber.

The first two days went well. By well, I mean yes, I picked them up late both days and apparently I bought June the wrong folders and I had two out-of-control screaming boys in a stroller when I finally got to pick up on Friday, but yes--I'd say that's pretty well.

I kinda set out this year to fool everyone into thinking I've got the four kid thing down, but nobody has been fooled. I feel like a mess of a mom, but everyone has been patient.

Luckily, we only had two days of school and then the weekend. The weather was perfect, so Dan biked and pulled a trailer full of kiddos over to the park while I drove Beck and me.

We got there by 7 AM. We are early risers. The kids rode bikes, and I took another turn on Dan's bike. I'm getting better. I'm learning how to start turning earlier so I don't crash into inconvenient things like curbs and fences and huge playgrounds. Dan wants me to try pulling the kids into the trailer soon, but I am not quite ready.

I often joke that Dan is Captain Forced Fun. I think every dad probably is, and I get such a kick out of it. Gwen climbed to the top of this spiderweb thing with a little help and coaching, but June was ready to quit. But Captain Forced Fun (CFF for short) stepped in and forced that girl to achieve. And you know what? She was glad.

And Saturday afternoon, we went to Hanover Township Day, a little festival our town has every year.

They had free food, which pleased me greatly. I had corn on the cob that changed my life. It was the most perfect texture, the most perfect amount of the most perfectly-flavored butter. It was sweet, but not too sweet. I'm a new person. All things in my life shall now be placed in time in relation to the perfect corn on the cob I had at Hanover Township Day 2019. There have been events Before The Corn, and there will be many After The Corn. The moment I ate the corn shall just be The Corn.

(There is no picture of the corn. No picture shall do it justice. Also, I ate it faster than the speed of light, so no picture would register.)

Besides The Corn, the girls did some science experiment thingies, and we walked around and did some other fun stuff.

And here's Gwen holding Beck after baths one day. 

To continue my reputation of being the on top of it mom that I am, we are ditching school for the next six days and going to Florida. Yes, I know I am probably known as "that mom" up at the school, and I totally deserve it.

The End.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Almost Back to School.

School starts for us this coming Thursday, so the past week was spent in a lot of preparation and a lot of last minute summer activities/summer laziness.

On Monday, I baked over 100 muffins in preparation for fast and easy breakfasts before school. We aren't huge cereal people. Well I mean, we are TOTAL cereal people because cereal is the yummiest thing in the world, but it does nothing to fill me up. It's more of a snack item around here. So I try to make hearty breakfasts like oatmeal or pancakes, but wanted to have a bunch of muffins ready to pop into the microwave for crazy mornings, which I bet will happen at least twice a week.

I made bran, apple and zucchini muffins. I want them to last six weeks, but I know they won't, because we all love them. In fact, every time someone grabs for one, I find myself giving them a dirty look because school hasn't started yet and you are already eating up my backup plan! Sometimes I am giving this look to myself in the mirror as I snarf down half a dozen muffins.

You may remember that we started the Ramona series at the beginning of the summer. The girls have loved it. A couple of weeks ago, when we were on Book 6 of the eight-book series, I said flippantly, "Wouldn't it be cool if we finished all of the books before school started?"

Don't let me speak flippantly. Ever. Again. Because my girls took that to heart, and now the pressure is on. Whereas we were reading a chapter or so a night, skipping some nights due to swimming or other summer activities, now we are reading multiple chapters a night. We made it through Book 7 in two days. Now we are on Book 8, and we have about two chapters a night to read if we want to make it through our goal.

Things the Ramona series has taught me:
1. A simple childhood is a good childhood.
2. Families fight. Sisters fight. And then you forgive and keep going.
3. It's best when parents don't sweat the small stuff. And it's mostly small stuff.

Speaking of simple childhood, I took Gwen with me on some errands at the mall Friday afternoon, and she wanted to take a picture on each one of these rides that I wouldn't even give up a couple of quarters for. I hate spending money on stuff like that.

Maybe if I should have shaken the camera in order to give an "action feeling" to the photo since there was absolutely no actual movement coming from the rides themselves. Cheap-o mom!

And we had to get back to school haircuts!!

Gwen insisted she wanted her hair cut like Ramona. I wasn't sure I wanted to cut her hair off because I'm a major fan of the ponytail. But in the end, I gave in.

Look how long their hair was before! June on the left and Gwen on the right.

So Gwen wanted a lot chopped off, and June wanted a decent amount chopped off. Afterward, I told June that she looked like Beezus and Gwen that she looked like Ramona. This made Gwen very mad because, in a very Ramona-like way, she wanted to have what June/Beezus had. It's like one of those play-within-a-play productions high schools do that feel like they are trying too hard to be deep.

They both look darling, but Gwen still replies to all compliments about her new hair with "I do NOT want to look like Ramona!"

I had an appointment at my salon this weekend too and felt ready for the chop.

A total mom haircut. And yes, I AM a mom, but does my hair have to shout it out before I can even open my mouth and tell people myself? What's that, you say? The bags under my eyes give it away before my hair does? The shrillness of my yell? The buffet of snack crackers lining the bottom of my car?

Well okay then.

And here's Beck's church picture from this morning. The way that water bottle is laying next to him on the changing table makes it look like I'm comparing sizes. Like he USED to be the size of a water bottle, but look at him now!

But please know that I birthed him, all 80 pounds of him, and he was never the size of no water bottle.

Three days left until school starts. I'm excited for the routine; I'm dreading the routine. I'm a very complex person. Kinda like those plays-within-a-play.

The End.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Don't Go Breakin' My Eye! I Couldn't If I Tried!

We planned to go to the pool on Thursday. As we were sitting down to lunch, I looked up at Gwen to discover her lower eyelid was swollen.

"Ahhh!" I blurted out. "Gwen, what happened to your eye?"

She had no idea anything was even wrong with it. It didn't hurt or itch or anything, though she may have caused permanent eye damage by trying to look down at her own eyelid to see what was wrong.

I was pretty sure she was having an allergic reaction to something she had touched with her hand and then touched that hand to her eye, but she couldn't recall touching anything out of the ordinary. I called my pro bono health consultants, i.e. Linz, Heidi, and Dan. Linz had had a similar thing happen a month ago and told me to give her Benadryl. Dan said he would come home so that I could take her to the doc, just in case, but first he needed to do some store visits.

By the time he got home, her eye was fine. And I didn't give her Benadryl because I didn't have any. I canceled the doc appointment and was mad at myself for missing the pool over nothing.

Just a couple hours later:

So, moral of the story--my go-to parenting emergency of plan of "do nothing" strikes once again and works.

My parenting book shall be called The Secret (of Parenting) and shall be about the Law of Inaction. Also to be included are chapters covering when to actually change your clothes versus when you can just rub spit-up stains into whatever outfit you are wearing (which I did this week while we were out and about). Also a chapter about fooling your kids into thinking lesser local theme parks are actually Disneyland.

Speaking of theme parks, Dan's office hosted a carnival for all of families of the employees this week.

First, we had to head up to Dan's cubicle so he could print something off and give it to his boss. We gave the kids a talk about being quiet and not interrupting Dad's workplace, and they really took it to heart.

At which point it bounced off of their hearts and into the trash. The were LOUD, and I was stressed.

But after that, we went to the carnival outside in the parking lot.

The girls had a blast.

Dan took Harris on this spinny ride. I cannot do spinny rides. I used to get carsick when I had to ride in the backseat on the way to the grocery store as a kid. I often got to sit toward the front of the car on road trips, which was the sole perk of my condition. One time, I threw up into a canister of cheetos (or whatever the generic brand of that is. Cheese curls? Fake-os? Whatever, they were good.), and my siblings could barely find it in their hearts to forgive me.

Which isn't as bad as the time I threw Mark's little toy car out of the window and we had to go back for it.

Or as bad as the time David accidentally sat on his pb&j sandwich and tormented me with said sandwich the rest of the trip.

Or the time the boys wouldn't tell us their "Black Magic" secret. After years of reflection, I'm pretty sure there was no rhyme or reason to their Black Magic method, and that really ticks me off.

My mom had a rule that we couldn't swim at the pool at Motel 6 on road trips unless we were all quiet for thirty minutes in the car. She's a smart lady. We were a rowdy bunch.

ANYWAY. Why did I go off on that? No spinny rides for me.

I captured this amazing photo of June thoroughly enjoying herself but was unable to get the timing right for Gwen. So here is Gwen behind some really happy kids who are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Inside the office building was face painting and balloon animals and all that jazz. No, not the musical "Chicago". That would be hardly appropriate for a kids' carnival.

Gwen requested a temporary tattoo on her hand.

When I wasn't around, June requested a temporary tattoo on her belly. And they gave it to her. Amazing.

Harris was too small for the majority of the rides, so he really enjoyed the bowling game that was set up inside. Which is interesting because we have a bowling set and he hasn't touched it once.

And then took our balloons and goody bags and headed to the cafeteria for lunch.

And yes, we went to church this morning.

Action shot of Beck in the swing!

 And here's a more artistic pose of the children. Harris in the forefront, girls in the background. A nice tribute to the Olan Mills photography style.

After church, we had Family Home Evening. Dan taught the lesson from the "Come Follow Me" curriculum. Today's lesson was on Paul's call for the Corinthians to be more unified in their congregations. To illustrate, he had the girls complete several tasks with their legs tied together. They started out a jumbled mess on the floor but by the end, they were pretty coordinated! They even knew how to bend over together and picked things up at the same time.

So we are leaving them like that.

Just kidding.

And a special surprise in the mail this week. Aunt Carrie took pity on the poor girls losing the Lego Camp contest and sent them a bunch of Lego glasses. 

All is right in the world again.

The End.

Sunday, August 18, 2019


This week, the girls went to LEGO Camp. Every day the guy running it told us parents to come early to come see the creations of that day before the kids had to break everything down and clean up all of the LEGOs. I knew I would not get there early most days but committed to myself  to at least get there early on the last day to get some pictures. I got there a little early, but alas everything was already cleaned up.

I did, however, take a photo of Gwen's hat she wore to one day of LEGO camp because she wanted me to. So there's that. We can pretend her hat is made of LEGOs.

I don't know if you can tell, but Gwen put this outfit together HERSELF.
I wish I looked this good in a hat. Pulling off a baseball cap is a big accomplishment in my book.

All week Gwen told me about the LEGO glasses one kid would win on the last day for doing really well at camp. When I picked her and June up on the last day, Gwen's lips were quivering and I knew she hadn't won. But she kept saying "my glasses, my glasses" so I finally went over to the teacher to verify the situation. He just looked at me and shook his head, not saying a word. So there's that.

We also went to a play about space at the library. What can I say--we were STEMming it up in a major way this week. If you know me at all, STEM skills describe me to a T.

My kids were mega into it, with June attempting to shout out loud questions during the middle of the play. This stresses me greatly.

The grand finale of the play involved several kids volunteering to play the role of all of the planets. Gwen was selected to be Mars, for which she was required to sport a red fireman hat because Mars is red. Harris thought he was selected for a role as well and marched up there with all of the other kids and would not come sit back down despite my best efforts. The presenters made up a role for him on the spot so he was cast last minute as the junior planet Pluto. Which was perfect because he was looking quite junior next to the group of older kids.

I'm old enough to remember when Pluto was just a regular ol' planet.

June LOVES the solar system. Her class studied it last year and went to the planetarium, plus it's been the focus of our library programs this summer, plus we read a ton of books about it at home.

So while my girls may be well informed about space and the planets, one thing they definitely do NOT know about is what are the latest gadgets.

The other day I pulled out an old CD player to play some audiobooks. I normally play books and music for them on my phone but had found some books on CD I wanted to play for them. When they saw this CD player, they thought our family had arrived. What was this new amazing piece of gadgetry?!?!?
They played my old CDs and danced it up. They've asked if they can keep this new and exciting device in their very own room.

They think I'm awesome for having a CD player. They are the only ones.

And last night, we returned for the second year in a row to the West Point dance concert. It was amazing.

Dan complies with my requests to go though he doesn't enjoy dancing. The band was so good, the view was beautiful, and everyone got into it despite the crazy heat and humidity. Harris was our biggest dancer this year. You couldn't get him off the dance floor to take a break. He even joined in on the conga line.

That's me in the black dancing with Gwen in the pink. My knee length jersey dress was saturated with sweat. The sweat weighed it down and stretched it out to be ankle length by the end of the night. YUCK.
Our view at the end of the night. We drove home on windy roads in the rain. We got home after 11, and everyone was exhausted, which was the same story this morning when we woke up for church.

Which led to this amazing photo shoot.
This picture perfectly encapsulates how the photo session went. And I only had time for two photos, and this was the better one.

It was my turn to play the organ at church today, and June asked if she could sit up on the bench with me. I made her promise not to touch any buttons or stops or pedals. She promised and did a great job of refraining. But that didn't stop her from talking to me through every hymn. "Mom, which song are you playing? Where are you at? What does 'deny' mean? Mom, Mom, MOM!" So peaceful.

After church, a still very tired June asked me to pull a wiggly tooth out. I did, and she was very excited to hold onto this tooth because, as you may recall, she lost her first lost tooth. She took the tooth from my hand and took it to the bathroom sink to wash the blood off of it. As soon as the gush of water hit the tooth in her hand, she promptly dropped the tooth down the sink.

And that was that.

She cried and cried and begged me to take apart the pipes to find her tooth. And then begged me to go to whatever river the water would be dumped into and to find her tooth.

Sorry if the hole in her mouth makes you queasy. It does me.

I have a feeling each tooth will be lost in some unique and tragic way. 

And this buddy started smiling and cooing this week. And still seems to find my screeching voice comforting. We're a match, Beck and me.

 The End.