The Final Countdown

So this is it. Five days left of school. Every teacher, every parent, every kid has a calendar somewhere just ticking off those days. FIVE.

We are now at the typical WHATEVER WORKS TO GET US THRU stage.

Reading logs, school projects, tests…let’s just turn something in. Shorts that are too short, shoes that are falling apart…haircuts…let’s just wait until next week. Let’s just get thru this!

This week, I refuse to put any more money in their lunch accounts. They are now reduced to making & taking a lunch. Since the final days are upon us, I am happy to help make those last few nutritional nuggets. Those sumptuous sandwiches that most likely will come back half – or not at all – eaten, crackers crushed to fine grit and empty juice pouches – straws still stuck in them – leaving their sticky film all over that lunch sack. Whatever. Just. Five. More. Days.

Here is a typical “beginning of the school year” lunch:

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Deli Turkey on Fresh Pretzel Bun / Cucumber Slices / Berry Infused Water

Here is what was on today’s WHATEVER WORKS lunch menu:

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Peanut Butter Taco / Cheezits / Apple Slices / Gatorade or Juice Pouch

As you can see, Peanut Butter Tacos are nothing special at all. It’s been my way to get the kids to excited about a piece of bread with some peanut butter on it. It was especially handy when I would have a small child hungry, whiney, and overtired and I just needed them to eat and eat quick. I don’t even need a plate. One slice of bread can fit in a mom’s hand – slap that PB on it, a quick fold and there is a PBT! WHATEVER WORKS.

Are These Clean?

Um, sure they are, son. Just wear them!

A weekend of baseball and kid karting usually means laundry doesn’t get done as much as I would like. Today I realized 20 minutes before the bus was due that one kid was missing some article of clothing that was actually clean. For 10 seconds, I contemplated and calculated – if I turned the washer on Express and the dryer on High, threw in a few towels to help the drying process would I get a clean pair of shorts…yea. NO. That would be pushing it.

So. WHATEVER WORKS. Grab the first pair, quick smell test (moms are brave like that) and here ya go.

Mom, really. Are these clean?
I said yes. Just wear them!
(and why does it matter all of a sudden??)

This is the same kid who will not change his underwear daily. I know. I find the clean ones still on his dresser. Clothes are gone. Clean underwear left behind.

This is the same kid who is happy to sleep in the same clothes he wore all day  – most likely for sports – and continue to wear them until someone – me – orders showering and a fresh change of duds. That could go on for days without intervention, I’m thinking.

So, here we are. That WHATEVER WORKS TO GET US THRU stage. That same feeling we had last year and the many years before. FIVE DAYS TO GO. Even I am excited for that final bell ring at the end of this week. I am excited to see the kids run off that bus for the very last time this year.

Just as I will be excited to see that bus again come September.

So summer – come on in. I am glad you are here. And stay awhile!

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My Caesar Salad

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Serves 4

Dressing:
3 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast* (you may substitute shredded parmesan cheese)
½ teaspoon low sodium soy sauce (or balsamic vinegar)
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
½ teaspoon minced garlic
⅛ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
Pepper to taste

Salad:
Romaine lettuce
Carrots
Green onions
Snow peas

Cashews, raw

To Do:
Whisk all dressing ingredients in a large mixing or salad bowl.

Chop lettuce, carrots and green onions. Add salad to bowl. Toss to coat with dressing.

Add in snow peas and cashews. No croutons needed!!

*Nutritional yeast adds a cheesy, nutty taste as an alternative to cheese.

“Off With Their Heads!”

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As I sat at the kitchen table about to hand address our Christmas cards, a few thoughts crossed my mind…

I feel like the left hand of God (I am left handed).

Each year, I alone decide which friend, family or foe (haha, not really) get a card from us. I look at the names listed on a little page in my Day Runner (old school style, baby!) and after a few years, some families just don’t get that little X next to their name. I figure that if they do not have the time to find matching outfits, hire a photographer, edit the best pics that describe their happy, perfect, smiling family, select a card design, order prints, compile all addresses, buy stamps, write a quick yet charming blurb on each card’s back, hand address each envelope in festive silver ink, seal envelopes and paste a holiday themed stamp in the upper right hand corner, and take directly to the post office to mail – well, maybe you hate Christmas, America, kittens and, therefore, do not deserve a Christmas card from our holiday-happy family.

Ah, I am just kidding. I do love sending out our cards. I do love finding photos from the year (praise GOD for Facebook!). I do love same day pickup from Walgreens. The cards, while not perfectly staged and perfectly designed on matte card stock, they are us. Happy, candid moments we were lucky enough to capture in a brief, golden moment.

But there were a few that I decided, after years of not receiving a card from them, that maybe, just maybe, they didn’t care about Christmas cards. And that is ok. If they don’t send them, then I won’t send them either. I don’t think they will even notice. Saves a little time and a little money on my side. Off the list. Done.

I feel a little sad.

As I go thru that list, some of those changes aren’t just because a family or two aren’t “into” Christmas cards. Some of the changes mean someone is no longer in our lives. We have been lucky to have great grandmas, great aunts and uncles and more, to send cards to – yet now, one great grandma’s name no longer gets an X – and it is sad to know she isn’t with us anymore. But those family members – near and far – are why I still do the photo cards. They love to see the kids’ pics and I love to see our year in one happy little 4” x 8” card. Makes everything in 2016 seem a-ok.

I then I feel a little panicked. Make it stop! Make it stop!

How quickly the year goes by. The kids look a little older (so do I. Ugh.). Their interests change. Vacations, awards, sports, highs and lows (oh boy, did we get some lows this year!) all captured simply by whipping out a phone and pressing a button. A whole year stored in that phone and on Facebook (still figuring out Instagram, sorry). So many memories…And after you think past the Christmas lists, the shopping, the decorating, the To Dos…this time of year allows for a little of bit of melancholy – those ghosts of Christmas past – those moments that you know – deep down – are over before you know it. A little sadness, a little panic, and a whole lot of gratefulness. And hope. The feeling of expectation – the excitement of Christmas morning, of a new year beginning. Another year to keep the iphone handy – ready for new memories.

So snap away!  Snap away! Post away all! And maybe send me a Christmas card next year. I’d enjoy that.

And Merry Christmas, you filthy animal!!

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Summer Journal in July

JULY 2016

Summer – Days #52
Travel to the Twins Cities for a Twins game!
Twin ball

An even better view…Bud SignEven travelling, I still am around baseball!

Summer – Days #50 – 51
Getting away from the minions is a lot work. The planning, the prep and the persuasion needed to get someone to look after them while you’re gone is exhausting. Left Friday afternoon, battled traffic, met Mr. C for a dinner party, then hightailed it home the next morning. Got to listen to an epic battle over cheese curds on Saturday. Middle minion did not want to share his GIANT pile of deep fried cheese and taunted his sister relentlessly with the possibility of having. just. one. I was never so happy to see an empty takeout container before…

Summer – Day #49
Thug Cats do not make packing easy!!
Cats and packing

Summer – Day #48
Some plans just sound better on paper (or in an email). I think I need a nap or a drink.

Summer – Day #47
More baseball and baseball fields even when there isn’t a game. Food truck rally at the sports complex!

Summer – Day #46
More Pokemon Go!! Is is bad that I tell my kids they must research tips and tricks for this game? I even make a minion find PokeStops while driving. Even if they do not need to run the errand with me, I try to convince someone to come with me.

Summer – Day #45
Some how I do not feel my workouts are that effective when I have a very large Thug Cat watching me like this:  …it’s like I am doing my crunches wrong or something…

Cat watcher

Summer – Day #44
Signed copy of book: $24
Quick unhealthy lunch: $13
Hours in the car (one way): 2

Seeing your daughter meet her favorite author in person….PRICELESS

There’s some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s Mom and Dad”

Summer – Day #43
More neglected things. A lovely fountain. Beautiful hydrangeas. And a weed. Do not worry, that little weed is not alone. He has a lot of friends in our yard during baseball season.

Beauty and the Weed

Summer – Day #42
Giving back to my community. Overdue library books. Typical me.

Library Books

Summer – Day #41
Pool Jump

My day was a page out of a spring break trip. I had tons of fun in the sun (with the kids), BUT I lost my wallet, have a strange bite on my hand that I don’t remember getting and I got gum in my swimsuit bottom. I rock.

Summer – Day #40
This afternoon we went to see The Secret Life of Pets. Want to know what a movie theater smells like on a hot summer day when school is out? Farts and band aids. You’re welcome.

Secret Pets

Summer – Day #39
My mom is mildly surprised I have kept up this blog. Me too.

Summer – Day #38
3 games + 3 losses = 1 sad team.

Summer – Day #37
Mo’ Baseball. Mo’ Waterpark. Mo’ Laundry.

Summer – Day #36
Random thought:
Just drove by a man that looked just like a 56 year old version of Butthead from Beavis and Butthead. Would have shouted out, “I am Cornholio…” but my kids would have repeated that All. Day. Long.

Summer – Day #35
This kind of sums up the day. A big dog and a bottle of wine named after one of my minions. Maybe I should get a bottle with a name of everyone and anything that annoys me… Think I would need a case or two…

Wine

Summer – Day #34
Creative pancake eating in the morning.

Pancake

Pokemon Go in the afternoon.
Kids don’t realize it is a lot like geocaching. Which they don’t think is very cool. But I do.

Summer – Day #33
Hey kids! Want to go to the pool? A beach? The zoo? No? The MALL?? Ok…
Ooh, look!! Mom candles!!

Wine candlesThey didn’t really smell so good…
Accurate for a wine cellar…which really don’t smell so good…

Summer – Day #32
Vacation has definitely ended.

Laundry

Summer – Days #22-31
All Quiet on the Midwestern Front.

My posting has been nonexistent since we traveled up north to our little cabin in the woods. No WiFi (wha?? Can people really exist without it??). Spotty cell service. No cable tv even. But. We. Survived.

…do not be too impressed. We had our tablets and a Wii system. Parents have survival instincts that know what is needed in an emergency…

Sunrise ERMisty sunrise – Northwoods, Wisconsin

A trip to the Northwoods brings out the best in our family. We spend the days on the water and the nights around the campfire. Ice cream and marshmallows are consumed with relish. And near daily. Childhood fun comes easily – with hula hoops and sand castles and a board game named Poopyhead. Leave it to my all-boy minion to find that gem (it really is hilarious!)!!

PoopyheadPoopyhead The Board Game and A Cabernet – A Classic Pairing

Time is spent together as a family of five and also with aunts and cousins and best friends since preschool – beach days, miniature golf, go karts and pirate ships.

Pirate ShipMy Heart Will Go On

And the annual visit to a classic soda shop. With real phosphates!!

PhosphateCherry Phosphate Phun

We watched the eagles dive for fish. Herons wading in the reeds and little ducklings paddling behind their mother. We even rescued an ailing turtle. We named her Lola. She was a showgirl. She was a brave, little turtle that took lettuce from our hands. We hope that she is doing well at the wildlife rehabilitation center.

Lola TurtleLola in the Lake

Big or little memories – it is a vacation – and a view – that never gets old.
Happy Summer!

sunset er

 

It’s Jelly Time!

With strawberry picking a summer tradition that is upon us, I thought I would share my mom’s recipe for EASY strawberry jam. Note the very first instruction: Wash hands. So written for the kiddos…

JamminLove the minions’ labels: Mega Jelly, Epic Jams and the best, Christian’s Only.

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Wash hands.
Wash strawberries.
Remove stems.
Crush strawberries 1 cup at a time.
Measure 2 cups of crushed strawberries into a large bowl.
Add 4 cups of sugar to strawberries. Mix well.
Let stand 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
Slice 1 lemon in half.
Put 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a small bowl.
Stir 1 pouch of Certo into lemon juice.
Add mixture to crushed strawberries and stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Pour into clean jars, leaving ½ inch at the top.
Screw covers on jars tightly.
Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours until set.
Store jam in freezer until ready to eat!

My Summer Journal

Thought I would keep a (brief) running log of our summer days. The highlights (or lowlights!) of what goes on in our home life on a daily basis. My kids are great, we do TONS of fun things thru the summer, but they really have a special talent for briefly driving me nuts. Love them to pieces!

JUNE 2016

Summer – Day #21
Let the packing begin!

Summer – Day #20
Wrapped up another session of Livestrong at the Y. I hope I motivated everyone as much as they inspired me with their strength, spirit and sense of humor.

Summer – Day #19
To Samson, The Giant Dog:
“You can keep your chicken! Just give me the underwear.”

Samson and friendWhat is left of Mr. Chicken, the squeak toy.

Summer – Day #18
Good news: Kiddo cleaned the mud off his LeBron ($$$) basketball shoes. Bad news: He did it on the kitchen counter. Guess those Clorox Wipes commercials don’t lie.
Cleaning shoes

Summer – Day #17
Teaching the minions how to use chopsticks. For the umteenth trillionth time. Keeps them occupied and impresses them (slightly) that I know how to use them.
And we used our free food coupons from the library reading program.
Kids read! Mom doesn’t cook! Win-win!
Changs

Summer – Day #16
Day at the Public Museum. Middle minion’s sense of humor.
Big Nose
Do not worry. They get a lot out of going to museums and historical sites. I still allow them to express themselves when (slightly) appropriate. I believe a sense of humor is one of the BEST survival skills you can have in life!!

Summer – Day #15
Tire Flat
My Day (sung to A Partridge in A Pear Tree)

One flat tire
Two friends over
Three different classes (boot camp, golf and battle bots)
Four battling kiddos (in the mini van)
Five root beer floats (one big mug for me)
Six kids now playing

And a broken bathroom blind!

Summer – Day #14
Strawberry picking is complete and we have our jam! This year’s labels:
Happy Jam, Slaughtered Berry Jam and Faertt’s Jelly Jam (I told the kiddo that Fart Jam would be gross – so he changed the spelling). Creativity abounds in our household.
Summer Jams

Summer – Day #13
June 22, 2016 Daily Horoscope:
Don’t stress out over unforeseen events today, Virgo.
Ouch
Spent 2 ½ hours in urgent care having a minion checked out for a strained neck and possible broken hand. Classic summertime accident – clotheslined by a tennis court net. He’s ok, no broken bones per x-ray, but he has to rest for a couple of days. Bumbles bounce…guess kids do too!

Playground time was a little boring for him, but he had a friend to hang out with.
Boy and dog

Summer – Day #12
Woke up to vertical vomit from one of the cats. Van decided to lock itself while I put my shopping cart away – purse, phone and keys safely contained, resting on the passenger seat. Groceries in there too. Lunch consisted of listening to one kid picking on the size of his brother’s head. Going to the beer garden in the park versus the planned trip for haircuts and library books sounds better and better…

Summer – Day #11
Nothing better on a 90 degree day than to visit a local pool.
Kiddos immediately equated it to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid pool…
Wimpy Kid Pool
Hidden gem of a park not too far and not too crowded. And $2 a kid!!

Hope the boys didn’t have too much of an eyeful walking thru the men’s locker room. Pool locker rooms are always wet and creepy. Never fails that there is some unidentifiable smell in there too…
Wimpy Kid Locker Room

Summer – Day #10
Too much baseball and waterparks. Perfect June day.
Hiding

Summer – Day #9
Baseball and waterparks. Perfect June day. No (major) fights!

Summer – Day #8
The Great War of Earbuds 2016.
Who knew that those plain white noise reducers could spark such noisy arguments as to which pair belongs to each kid. How they can identify their pair versus their siblings is beyond me. I think the bickering began before we even made it out of the driveway for a two hour road trip!!

Summer – Day #7
Talking to a locked bathroom door:
Me: You ok in there?
Kiddo: I have one of those ‘acid poops’.
Me: (pause) Is it on the floor?
Kiddo: No.
Me: Sigh of relief.

Summer – Day #6
Lazy morning in bed…until I remembered I was subbing a class that am. Good thing the brain kicked in early enough to get there in time.

Summer – Day #5
Fun at the zoo day. Best part was listening to the kids’ fake animal facts. Heard them saying that the black lemurs were infant gorillas whose tails will fall off as they mature. Wonder if the little ones believed them…
MoldaRama
A zoo classic.

Summer – Day #4
“DO NOT pull your dog around by it’s teeth.”

Summer – Day #3
Second sleepover of the summer commences.
Muffins2

Summer – Day #2
One minute and 48 seconds into brother’s baseball game, “I’m bored.”

Summer – Day #1
One sibling chucked a remote at the other’s head (on a good note, they put the groceries away, no questions asked!).

Remote

 

Bring It On

Today is the last day of school. Today, no lunches to be made (or complained about). Today, no homework to remember (or forget). Backpacks and lunch sacks were brought home for the last time. This is how one backpack was found. Reading logs that never made it out of the backpack. Maybe never made it out of the desk until today. His winter coat came home this week too. Not sure how long that has been at the school and where – since it was a crumpled up mess of its former self. I also found the letter “warning” of the human reproduction lessons. From  month ago. Good thing he let me know ALL the details of this education. Still likes to bring it up. Oy.

Crumbled Papers

The last day of school still brings back memories of the excitement of leaving the school for the very last time until fall. The excitement of knowing summer is here and the days are filled with fun – doing only amazing and wondrous things (and a few naps). But then I bring back the memories of last year. While we did so many awesome things, it sure did seem like my kids were staying in a hotel while the housekeeper was cleaning around them. And they never left a tip. My fault. I LIKE to clean (not that you can tell somedays at my house). I LIKE to be organized (liking something and being successful at it are two very different concepts). The cleaning and organizing traits must be recessive genes because my minions do not like to do either of those things*.

That being said. I am going to HELP them this summer. We have always had family responsibilities, chore charts and to do lists; but this year I made it really (sort of) pretty! Look what I spent way too much time on yesterday (curse you, Pinterest)! We have a Summer Fun List of 95 things to do. We have a new menu plan and a new (and expanded!!) chore chart.

Command Central

Note Mom’s bumper sticker from Rebel Coast Winery. That’s a dose of reality most Command Centers on Pinterest DON’T have. Keepin’ it real for you folks….

The DREADED 5-15s (kids hate that one) is on the board too. I tend to hearken back to my old marketing days and come up with flashy catchphrases for our home life. Like a Peanut Butter Taco!! How fun!! How creative – it’s like fusion cooking!! It’s really just one slice of bread with peanut butter on it folded over. No plate to clean. Kid is happy. Momma is happy. All for a 10 second meal. Beat that Iron Chef.

The 5-15s is just 5 fifteen minute tasks that the kids have to complete to either earn electronics time or cash. It’s totally flexible because that is how I need to roll. Sometimes I make crap up on the fly (or fly on a crap…Ha! Killin’ myself here). They are getting wise to my ways, but I am holding out for as long as I can. The list contains 5 things they need to do each day. They still collapse on the floor in agony when I bring up the 5-15s, but really most tasks take less than the 15 minutes. That is only 75 minutes out of a long summer day. I think they can manage. And not every 15 is a CHORE!! Still not sure why they would complain. That must be a gene they get from their dad. 🙂

The 5-15s

  • Home Check – A quick spin around the house to find anything they left out. Straighten up any errant pillows on the sofa; collect small mammals, rocks, socks or ancient gum wrappers that may have been left out.
  • Chore A Day – ONE stinkin’ little chore. It’s extra to their regular home responsibilities. This one is the knife in the heart for them. Quite entertaining to listen to their moans. We should receive some Oscars or Tonys over here.
  • Reading – How bad of a mom is this? Find a book. Pretend to read. Just Put. The iPad/Phone/DS. Down.
  • Outdoor Time – Changing this from school work for the summer. Little buggers need to get outside once in a while. For vitamin D and such. It makes the house really quiet. It makes the minions really tired.
  • Pet Care – An awful repercussion of begging for furry critters to live with you in your abode. Sorry kids, we warned you! And you PROMISED to help take care of them. We used to rotate those chores (feed cats, feed dog, let dog out) but that led to lies and confusion. Everyone insisted that THEY were the ones that fed/watered/pooped the animal last. Now it’s simple. One has dog doody (a pun, I’m so funny today), one has dog feeding and one has cat feeding.
  • EXTRAS – The youngest minion (in his utter perfection of sunshine and happiness) added another star option of Extra/Happy and one for Bad Work. I love it! He knows I do not like a lack of effort (laziness). Neither does he. To get him riled up (yes, most parents do this to their offspring on occasion), I use the words EPIC FAIL. Drives him nuts. He still knows I love him.

Summer Boat

So on this gloomy June day, I say send them home, teacher. I got this.
BRING ON SUMMER!!

Extra Notes…
*To be fair, the youngest minion does love to be organized. He places (hundreds and hundreds, maybe millions) of stuffed animals on his bed with extreme precision. Makes changing sheets a sheer joy for mom. Ha.

Here’s another reality check. This is what the ‘command center’ looked like before.
If it were in an art museum, I would have entitled it, “Art in Life. Still No. 414”.

Wall of Mess