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!

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.
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.

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…
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.

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!).



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.

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

Left Behind

There are days when a picture speaks louder than words. After the minions got on the bus a few weeks ago, I found these left behind on the coffee table. THEY ARE CLEAN. Left behind by the middle one when he changed into fresh clothes before school. Which means that the socks and underwear he went to school in are from the day before. A little mortified, but it is a classic boy move.

Left behind

But as the end of the school year approaches, I begin to care a little less each day. No more perfect parenting. The skills be gone. As evidenced in the Great Scrapbooking Event. Every third grade class has the wonderful opportunity to create a wonderful scrapbook of their wonderful school year. I. Cannot. Stand. This. I have to spend $10 on the disposable camera and $15 on developing the pictures! Yes, if I were a put together kind of mom, I would whip a coupon out of my Thirty-One brand organizer that coordinates with my Thirty-One brand tote that matches my Thirty-One brand trunk storage bag. And little birds and happy mice would sing a little song for me as I whistled while I worked.

All of that time and money to get pictures like this.Great pic

Great memories…

After receiving those priceless (pricey) photos, the kids get to plaster them all over a ($20 plus a trip to Michael’s JUST for this) 12” x 12” scrapbook. Why so freakin’ LARGE? I don’t even have a wedding album of that size!

This year, I rebelled. I took parenting love to a new low. I did this.


That’s right; I took out my middle son’s scrapbook pages and gave the final minion his brother’s scrapbook from last year. It had a little glue on it, but Elmer’s washes right off. Done and done! I think he will survive. And I am looking forward to seeing his year in pictures. Really!

And I am really looking forward to summer. Really! But check back with me in August on that one…