Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I'm a little ahead of myself this week, and I keep thinking it's Friday already. I don't normally want to skip ahead, but I think I may have some vicarious stage fright. Bethany's talent show is tomorrow night, and I'm trying hard not to think about it because thinking about it makes me vaguely sick to my stomach. Her partner has been over several times to practice, and they swear they have been practicing, but I've noticed lots of chasing the ice cream man, dressing Mattie up like a doll, and "breaks" to play Super Mario, and I've not actually witnessed much at all in the way of rehearsing. My instinct is to step in and oversee and advise, but no one has asked for my help. So I'm shutting up and letting them do their thing. If they botch up their talent show performance it's not the end of the world. No matter what, I'm bloated full of pride for my daughter, because as a 9-year old little girl there was absolutely no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that I would have ever even considered for one millisecond getting up in front of hundreds of people and singing a duet. So. Deep breath. It will be over soon.

After her Easter fever scare,turns out Mathilda started coughing a little last night, and then it got much worse throughout the day today. She did seem kind of okay for a couple days once the fever broke, but now I'm thinking she might have an ear infection or bronchial infection after all, so we'll be off to the pediatrician tomorrow. It really seems like that poor little thing is always sick. The most ironic thing is that Connor, my only child who was not breastfed at all, is the healthiest of my children. The one who was nursed the most is sick most often. Things that make you go hmmmmm. So my retrospective guilt for not nursing my son is somewhat offset by the fact that it appears he did not catch my sickie cooties. 

Also, I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy for my awesome friends today, one of whom agreed to add to her already crazy hectic morning and babysit Mathilda at the last minute today so I could work at Lucy's preschool, and one of whom called me up out of the blue this afternoon and told me she has something for Mathilda that we were planning on buying her very soon, and now we don't have to. Love you guys! 

Now I'm going to go and try to power through the slow beginning of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo so I can get to the awesome part that everyone keeps telling me about, and also try my hardest to remember to put the laundry I'm washing in the dryer before I fall asleep so that Connor can wear some clean clothes to school tomorrow. 'Cause I'll feel really bad if he has to rummage through the hamper for some jeans to wear. Mommy guilt=the gift that never stops giving.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Always Stay Sweet

When I was younger and my friends and I were always writing notes back and forth (I know it's hard to imagine, spring chickens, but once upon a time there was no such thing as email, Facebook, IM'ing, and texting), we would often sign off with cute little acronyms like L.Y.L.A.S. (Love You Like A Sister) or A.S.S., which stands for Always Stay Sweet.

Always stay sweet. Sounds easy enough. Or maybe too cutesy - what adult wants to be sweet? But truly, what is so wrong with being sweet? When I look up "sweet" in the dictionary, there are many different definitions, but the one I think of when I think of a sweet person is: 
             (from adj.: marked by gentle good humor or                  kindliness
How many of us have been able to retain the sweetness of our youth? Many of us lost that sweetness while we were still youths, and many of us probably could care less about being sweet as adults. How about successful, witty, career-oriented, mature, serious, driven? Do these sound more important nowadays?

As a parent, I actually think sweet is pretty darn important. I think kids need sweet. Yes they need discipline and boundaries and rules too. They need us to help them prepare for the "real world." They need to learn responsibility and the importance of hard work. But all the other important stuff is best learned while someone is sweetly loving them, don't you think? Encouraging them, supporting them, hugging them and rooting for them. We forget what it was like to be so new to the world. We need to remember because our kids need us to remember. I need to remember. My fuse is sometimes regrettably short. I could definitely work on my sweetness. 

I'm so busy, just like every other parent I know. But sometimes I need to stop, forget about all the crap that will be there tomorrow (and the next day...), and listen. Listen when they talk to me, yes. But also listen to how they're talking, and what they're saying to others, and listen to what they're not saying because sometimes that is the most important thing to hear.  It's my job to figure out what they need, even if they don't say it out loud. It's my job to teach them to enjoy life and follow their dreams. It's my job to teach them how to treat their own kids someday, and how I want them to treat my grandchildren is with sweetness. Sometimes I lose my temper and sometimes I'm not as kind as I can be, nor as patient. I'm human, it's going to happen. I don't strive for perfection, but I do strive for the sweetness to outweigh the less than stellar moments; for my kids to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what I love them, and they can trust me and come to me for anything. There are days when I feel like an absolute failure as a parent, but through all my mistakes and lapses in judgment and (I cringe to admit it) yelling, I hope and pray that what my kids know most about me is that I love them with all my heart.

I think we could all use frequent reminders to sweeten up and be nice. Not just parents, either, because it's not only kids who benefit from kindliness. Family, friends, co-workers, customers, neighbors, strangers you pass in the street. Everybody. I've got a few years yet to prepare for parenting teens, but I read this blog post over at Single Dad Laughing that I think is relevant to every single member of the human race. It's specifically about how so many adults treat teenagers with very little respect and kindness, but I think it applies to anyone. It was my reminder today that I need to keep sweetness at the forefront of my mind and heart when I'm dealing with my kids (or, really, with anyone, because we never know how something we say to a stranger is going to affect the rest of their day...or life). Click here to read the post. 

These little people need all the sweetness they can soak up
So whatever is going on in your life, remember to Always Stay Sweet (at least most of the time!).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One Step Closer To Domestic Bliss

Sunday afternoon, Chris and I sat the kids down and had a talk about chores. We've done this before. Generally it involves us lecturing them about doing more around the house while they stare at us blankly and sprint from the room the moment we stop talking. But this time we were prepared - he and I had made a list and taken notes and had a (semi) plan in place. So we gave them each their jobs, both daily and weekly, and explained in detail what we expect from them. I want to make some kind of chart with a way for them to check jobs off as they finish them, but I haven't figured out in my mind how I want it to look yet. I need to do it soon before this whole scheme loses steam. Four days into it and they are doing pretty well. They're needing lots of reminders and lots of me following them around telling them exactly how to do their jobs, but all in all our house seems to be tidier and I'm less overwhelmed. Because, in case you were wondering, four kids make lots of messes. And I really don't enjoy cleaning. I especially really don't enjoy cleaning up their crap that they literally leave everywhere, anywhere. Littlest Pet Shops in the bathroom? We got 'em. Crayons under the dining room table? Yep, those too. Dirty socks under the couch? You betcha. Jewelry and hair do-dads on the piano? But of course. Drawings and other art projects on every available horizontal surface? Duh. So hopefully this new chore routine sticks and I won't have to run around like a total lunatic every time we're having company, trying to clean everything at once. Well I'm sure I'll still do that, but at least maybe I won't be quite so frenzied.

This is what we've got so far:

Bethany     Daily:   Straighten up 2nd floor bathroom (including minor cleaning if needed), straighten up and vacuum family room, help unload & load the dishwasher as needed
                Weekly: Thoroughly clean 2nd floor bathroom, vacuum and straighten up play room
Connor     Daily: Straighten up 1st floor bathroom (including minor cleaning if needed), straighten up living room, vacuum rug by front door, help unload and load dishwasher as needed
                Weekly: Thoroughly clean 1st floor bathroom, mop kitchen, dining room and living room floors
Lucy         Daily: Wipe off the dining room table, help unload dishwasher as needed
                Weekly: Clean fronts of kitchen appliances, clean desk top in family room, dust living room and family room
Mattie         Daily: Refrain from kicking, biting, hitting, head butting, screeching like a banshee, throwing food on the floor, drawing on anything and everything, and so on and so forth
                Weekly: See "Daily"

More chores will be added gradually, but we thought it best not to throw their systems too much into upheaval all at once. The ultimate goal is to turn over all of the household chores to the kids, leaving me with more time to dedicate to soap operas and bon-bons. Can't wait...

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank You For The Music

Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia! I just returned from the theater. I love Mamma Mia. I love the music, I love the story. I love that that the music fits the story perfectly, like a well engineered puzzle. I always tear up at the beginning when Sophie is putting the invitations in the mailbox and singing about her dream, as I am reminded of the first 30 years of my life when I had that very same dream. Actually, I tear up repeatedly throughout the Donna is reunited with old friends, as the friends reminisce about old times, as Sophie meets her three prospective fathers, as Donna prepares for her only daughter's wedding day and I think of the days that will come when it will be time for Chris and I to face each of our children beginning their own adult lives. I'm pretty sure the smile never left my face.

Stories feed the human spirit. Whether your food of choice is music, books, theater, television, movies, or all of the above, chances are not many days go by that you don't feed yourself with some sort of story. Maybe you like to get your stories directly from the source, from talking to other people, or writing your own. Whatever your chosen form, if you don't feed your spirit with stories, maybe you feel like something is missing...a connection to the greater picture...a connection to the world around and beyond you.

If you haven't yet had the chance to see the stage production of Mamma Mia, you should at least watch the movie. The movie is beautiful, with it's lovely Greek backdrop. I love it too - maybe not quite as much as the play because there is something sort of magical about plays, but it's definitely one of my favorite movies. And if you just can't get enough ABBA, another great movie is Muriel's Wedding, starring Toni Collette. Great is a ridiculously weak adjective, but anyway, it's a movie I love and Toni Collette is genius in it. Even if you fall a little short of loving ABBA, you should definitely still watch this Australian classic. It's not a musical, so ABBA doesn't exactly infiltrate every scene like it does in Mamma Mia.

It's just another snowy (April) day in Michigan. There is no longer any room for surprise in regards to weather around here. I painted my toe nails last week for goodness sake! And last night we had to turn our furnace back on. However, there is something sweet and transient about April snow...but if I have to get the snow shovel out of the garage, I might have a minor breakdown.

Tell us, wise Yoda, is the Dark Side infiltrating the weather system?

See those trees there, in the middle of our cul de sac? The kids like to play in the middle of them, it's like a little hideout. A few days ago, a door appeared, propped up between the trees. Then this morning, as I was driving the kids to school, we noticed a thin mattress poking out from under some branches.  I'm going to ask Chris to investigate later, and make sure there isn't a stash of clothing and non-perishables in there too. I don't know where this stuff is coming from, but I hope no one plans on doing some long term camping out in our trees. Unless it's Ewoks, Ewoks we can handle.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuff You Really Should Have Read Already, But It's Never Too Late

I thought I would share with you a couple of books I really think everyone should read. Not that my opinion is of any consequence, but nonetheless I will carry on as though it is.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
I can hear your excuses now. Let me guess...
I don't read romances. 
Get over your pre-conceived notions and make this the only romance novel (read: masterpiece) you ever read. 
I don't read historical fiction. 
Well make an exception just this once. Trust me. The story will eat you up and swallow you whole and you will be too dizzyingly caught up in it to care if it takes place in 350 B.C. or 5000 years in the future. 
It's so dang long. 
Yes it is, but you will devour each of it's 960 pages, get to the end, and wish with every cell of your being that there were 960 more pages. 
I have a confession to make, which is that is I read the sequel to Gone With The Wind, Scarlett, by Alexandria Ripley, and I have to admit it was somewhat satisfying in a totally inauthentic and Pollyanna kind of way. But the beauty of Rhett and Scarlett's true (fictional) story is its heart-wrenching ending. Read it and weep!

Catcher In The Rye and anything else you can get your hands on by J.D. Salinger

Catcher In The Rye is probably my favorite book of all time, which is saying a lot because I have read many, many, many books. I used to coerce all my friends to read it in high school, and I'm pretty sure no one was ever sorry they did. I always wanted a son named Holden Caulfield, but then I read that some celebrity (Denis Leary?) beat me to it and stuff like that just ruins names for me. What I love about the book is its realness. Life is going on around Holden and everyone acts like all the phony crap is the real stuff when we all know that is so not true. But because he doesn't want to go along with the delusion, he is the outsider. Doesn't every teenager feel like that at some point? Every adult too? This is why I love books. People don't tend to talk about these things in everyday conversation, so how else would I know that other people feel like I feel? Plus it's been banned periodically since it was published, and doesn't that just make you want to read it more?
Salinger's other works are gems too, I love each story and book. Many of his pieces share characters, which I also love. In high school I wrote this poem inspired by one of the Nine Stories, and while I am not much of a poet, it is my (self-proclaimed) crown jewel of poetry achievement. But you would probably need to read "A Perfect Day For Bananafish" in Nine Stories to fully appreciate it.
Blighted Hope
Mother called,
     asked how I was and she said
Daddy was worried about me.
And my irritated
     sun-burnt skin stung.
Sybil asked her mother, "Did you see more glass?"
Then she ran down the beach
                              (her canary-yellow swimsuit singing all the way)
                         to find him.
                         She was selfish
                                 she basked in his lonesome obliging affections
                                    for awhile                              before she ran back the way she came.
                         And Seymour Glass once again hid his pale, sickly

                         He was on his way to heaven
                               in an elevator
                         crying and wondering what was wrong
                              with his feet.
                         While I slept
                              and wondered in my dreams why
                         I couldn't see the dancing trees
                         And thought maybe
                              I should take up German.

So yeah I guess it really does not make any sense without knowing the story. Besides Cather In The Rye and Nine Stories, Salinger also wrote Franny and Zooey and Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction. Rumor has it he actually wrote a lot more that he never published. Maybe someday...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Out In The Field

With the help of two very accommodating grandmothers, I was able to accompany Connor on his second grade field trip to the Detroit Science Center this week. I rode on the bus with him, and I love riding on the bus, not because it is comfortable but because I'm not driving. I can text people or write blog posts on my iPod while eavesdropping on Connor's conversations with his friends. And I don't have to use my gas or worry about missing my exit and getting lost in the ghetto, because you know, sometimes even your GPS can't save you. I almost always try to go on field trips with my kids because they don't often get me to themselves (I need to work on that...) and also because I love field trips. I myself take my kids on field trips whenever I can; I think getting out in the world is the best way for them to learn. I think perhaps that has a lot to do with my homeschooling fantasy because when I think of homeschooling I think of endless field trips. One thing I love about Bethany and Connor's school is that the teachers take the kids on good field trips.

This time I had only one other kid in my group besides Connor, which was a breeze. After all, I'm used to minimum four (add in the occasional friend or two), one of them being a persnickety toddler and three of them being High Drama. So walking with two well-behaved boys around the Detroit Science Center was a walk in the park, a real pleasure. They kept us pretty busy all day with shows and demonstrations, which was great, but we also had plenty of time to look around and play with the hands on exhibits. We saw an IMAX movie about dolphins, and I hardly had to close my eyes. It was really interesting, and it really made me want to go to a tropical island and swim in translucent turquoise waters. We saw two demonstrations, one about electricity and one about living green, and they were both interactive and lots of fun. Then we ended our visit with a show about engineering, which sounds boring but wasn't. We were in the Toyota Engineering Theater, which has crazy moving, water spraying (more like misting) seats. It was kind of like being on a simulator ride. 

If you haven't been to the Detroit Science Center, you should go. I can't wait to go back with Lucy and Mattie so we have an excuse to go in the 5 and under area, Kids Town, which looked pretty cool. I'd also like to see their special dinosaur exhibit they've got going on right now (through early September).

In the jam room

Goofy kid

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Cut

A couple weeks ago Bethany and her friend auditioned for the school talent show together. The try-outs were held after school, and there was quite a crowd gathered to watch. They sang...not lip synced but truly sang, and they did such a great job I was absolutely glowing. The next day the list of those who made it was posted, and Bethany and her friend were not on the list. There were lots and lots of tears. Oh my girl was bitterly disappointed. Of course we told her how proud we were for her effort and hard work and sheer guts to get up and sing in front of lots of people, and just for trying. But it hurt, for her and for us.

Bethany is in fourth grade, and she does not attend a performing arts school; just a regular old public elementary school. Which is why I have a bit of a problem with the way the school handles their annual talent show. I think it is somehow sending these kids the wrong idea. If they have the courage and the desire to get up on a stage and perform, shouldn't they be given that chance? Because if they don't make the cut, in the safety of the elementary school environment, might their spirits be broken? Might they give up and, maybe out of embarrassment or a feeling of failure or humiliation, never try again? I don't like it. If you can't make the elementary school talent show, are you going to try out for the middle school play, even if you really want to? A certain kind of kid would not. A kid like I was, for instance. But maybe giving anyone who wants to the chance to be in the show would give those kids who choose to participate a little boost of confidence that might encourage them to try other things too. What is the benefit of squashing that desire and confidence in so many kids, other than a shorter talent show?

There is more to the story. Like that there was a "no exception" deadline for the talent show audition permission slips to be turned in, yet an exception was made on the day of try-outs, and the girl whose mother complained and whined enough (I can only presume) to get the powers that be to ignore the "no exception" part of the deadline tried out and got in. And that my daughter and her friend were the next in line to make the cut (they go by a points system with judges), so they were in effect booted by the rule breaker. By the way, the kids had weeks to get their permission slips in. Weeks. Yet because this young lady had a dentist appointment (so I've heard) on the last day the slips were to be accepted, an exception was made. I'm not sure what her excuse was for not having turned it in prior to that day.

So we have another great lesson for our kids. Ignore deadlines and due dates. Why not?

This particular story does have a happy ending, because Bethany came home from school the other day bursting with the news that someone dropped out of the show, so she and her friend are now in. Of course they now have about two weeks less practice time than the other participants, but nonetheless they are thrilled. And I am happy for them but I'm still feeling odd about this talent show by try-out in elementary school. Maybe I'm crazy. I don't know. I didn't post anything about this before because I didn't want to seem bitter just because my kid didn't make it, but now she did make it. Make of it what you will.

*Disclaimer: I don't begrudge the rule-breaker her chance to be in the talent show too. I just A) don't understand the whole trying out thing, and B) don't understand the point of handing out permission slips that clearly state that there will be "no exceptions" to the due date if you are actually willing to disregard the due date.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Snapshot Of My Life: Bowling on a Wednesday Afternoon

Here is a picture (use your powers of imagination because I forgot my camera) of what it's like to go bowling with my family, which is what the kids and I did after school today with my mom.

  • One cup of red fruit punch, spilled onto the floor, two chairs, a shirt, and a pair of pale pink tights.
  • Three crying girls, they thankfully more or less took turns. 
  • Countless trips to the snack counter, vending machines, and restrooms.
  • French fries, nachos, soft pretzel, chips, and corn dog = dinner.
  • One almost two-year old chasing a bowling ball down the lane, followed by her biggest sister chasing her.
  • One eldest sister falling flat on her bum as she tries to prevent her baby sister from knocking the pins down by hand.
  • One ball sent rolling down the wrong lane.
  • Lots of cheering and rowdiness, with total disregard to performance or score.
  • One four-year old girl dressed in an utterly mismatched outfit of her choosing, which, consequently, she also wore to preschool that same day.
  • Proprietor marveling at the motherliness of one nine-year old girl, commenting to the mother of the girl, "your baby is taking care of your baby." Or something to that effect. 
Next time I will remember my camera. But here are a few pictures from yesterday of my baby who is sadly no longer a baby...

Looking eerily like a blue-eyed, red-headed Lucy

My little girls have a strange habit of wearing their sunglasses upside down

Finally got them right...but it's way cuter when they're upside down, don't you think?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Losing The Invisibility Cloak

I feel so happy sitting here in my family room with the windows open, the breeze fluttering the curtains and fooling me into thinking it's summer.

(Nice try Mother Nature, but anyone can access

Nonetheless, an 80 degree day was not a bad way to end Spring Break. 

We had a fun, low-key weekend. Saturday afternoon Chris was working on some music and Bethany was hanging out with him and they ended up recording something with her singing back-up vocals. She was so excited and Chris is just as proud as can be (as am I!). Chris put up a snippet on YouTube if you'd like to check it out.

My girls are so exuberant...lively...demanding...vocal...outspoken. And I love all those things about them. In contrast, Connor is...more like me. An introvert...quiet...unassuming...the complete opposite of demanding. Sometimes I worry about him. I remember feeling invisible as a child, and I didn't have three drama queens for sisters, constantly overshadowing me. Because I was quiet, everyone just assumed that I was fine, I didn't need anything, and I didn't have anything to say. The truth is that sometimes it's still like that. I'm generally fine listening and observing, and entering a conversation when I have something to contribute, but sometimes that feeling of invisibility still surfaces. And I don't ever want my son to feel like he's not heard or not noticed. I don't want him to feel that his sisters are loved and cared for more than he is just because they are louder and insist on so much attention. And because maybe he, like me, has a harder time vocalizing what's on his mind. I don't want him to miss out on chances to sing with his dad because he's too self-conscious to admit he wants to do it too. Although I actually have no idea if that is something Connor is interested in. My job is to consistently engage him in conversation, ask him questions, get him to tell us what is on his mind, what's bothering him, what he likes and doesn't like. It's sometimes a challenging job, and I can understand why lots of people wouldn't put that sort of effort in with me. But as Connor's mom, it is a job I cherish, and I am so glad I have that understanding of him that only someone so like him could have. I just hope he finds his own way to occasionally outshine his sisters.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Quick & Easy Hormel Compleats Kids Meals - Coupon Offer

We've been having such a busy Spring Break, but one thing I haven't yet done this week is get to the grocery store. I was thinking I'd have to go this morning because there was really nothing to give the kids for lunch. And then the mailman dropped off a package from SheSpeaks with Hormel Compleats Kids meals! Lunch time saved! This is what I got:
 There was one package each of four different varieties; Pasta & Chicken, Macaroni & Beef, Spaghetti & Meatballs, and Beef Ravioli. The four kids shared three meals (they haven't tried the chicken yet) and they liked all of them. Success! Here are a few things I like about the Hormel Compleats Kids meals:
  • 3 grams of fiber per serving
  • no added preservatives
  • no artificial colors
  • 0 grams trans fat per serving
  • at least 8 grams of protein per serving
  • calories ranging from 140 to 230 per serving, which is less than a serving of boxed macaroni and cheese
  • ready in 45 seconds in the microwave
Thank you to SheSpeaks and Hormel for the opportunity to try something new. I received free products, but was not compensated monetarily for reviewing Hormel Compleats Kids meals. 

If you would like to try this product too, I have a buy-one-get-one FREE coupon up for grabs for Hormel Compleats Kids microwave meals. Leave a comment below with your favorite quick kids meal, along with your email address, and I'll pick a winner on April 16.

Feet Firmly Planted In The Here And Now

Sometimes I feel like I live for summertime. It's like the whole year is just divided into waiting for summer to get here, and summer itself. Maybe if you've read any of my other posts, you might have gotten the idea that I'm not such a big fan of the cold. Cold weather depresses me, fills me with lethargy, makes me want to never leave the house. But that is not the only reason I so look forward to summertime. I crave the freedom to do whatever I want with my kids day after day after wonderful day. Sleeping in late, meeting friends at the park, trips Up North, going swimming...I love every second of it. This is sort of a problem for me and I'm working on it. I mean, I need to spend more time embracing the "now" instead of anticipating summer. I'm improving, but just right now, at the moment, I'm really looking forward to the break. Probably just because we've been having such a great Spring Break, and I'm getting sad about the kids going back to school on Monday. Deep breath. Live in the moment. Carry on. 

Yesterday we met friends at McDonald's to play and have ice cream sundaes. The best part was (well other than seeing my friends...) watching my big kids playing with Mathilda and taking her into the play structure with them, and boy Mathilda was having a crazy good time. Then Connor and Bethany went off to sleepovers and I tried to convince Lucy to have movie time with me and watch Tangled but that little stinker was not interested.

This morning Lucy had a field trip at a local Chinese restaurant where the preschoolers got to learn how to count in Chinese, make wontons, and eat chicken tenders and fries (???) while the parents sat at separate tables, had adult conversation and actually ate Chinese food (at a Chinese restaurant? go figure!). Bethany and Connor went on the same field trip when they were in 4-year old preschool. I think the best part for the kids was running around the restaurant as much as they wanted because it was not yet opened for business for the day.  When it was over I picked Bethany & Connor up from their friends' houses and we went to my mother-in-law's (where Mathilda was during the field trip) and all of the kids got to see their grandpa who has been out of town working for the past couple months. It was a happy, tickly, giggle-ish reunion. Yes I'm making up words here, but please just go with it.

Then Connor got invited to another sleepover, and I had to say yes because he has been the best sport about spending pretty much every minute of his Spring Break surrounded by girls. And then Lucy and Bethany were invited to play at a friends' house, so Chris and I dropped them off and went to dinner with Mathilda at Achatz Burgers, where we ate greasy but yummy burgers and fries and laughed at Mathilda's silliness without any other kids around to distract us from paying her our full attention. We went for a drive and looked at beautiful old houses in Mt. Clemens, the kind of houses I dream of living in someday because I love big old houses full of unique little quirks and nooks and crannies. I dropped Chris off at home and went to pick the girls up, and ended up staying there forever chatting with my friend while the kids played for "just one more minute" and it was really a lovely evening. We got home and the girls and I decided to pile into Connor's room (I think because he has bunk beds...although all 4 of us ended up on the bottom bunk) and watch Tangled together. Bethany was asleep within 5 minutes, and Lucy followed suit about 5 minutes later. Mathilda, however, stayed awake and watched the entire thing with me. I love that movie! 

The best part of the whole day was a late night text from my friend with some really fabulous news that she had been hoping and praying to hear but didn't think she would for quite awhile. I am so happy for her and her family. Good things do happen to good people.  Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Book Review, Nutella Winner, And Odds & Ends

I have another book review posted at Luxury Reading for a kids book, Cows Can't Jump. It's a cute picture book and you should go over there and see what I have to say about it.

Tricia is the winner of the Nutella goody bag giveaway! Congratulations Tricia! Enjoy your Nutella swag! 

When Lucy got up this morning, she came in bed with me for a cuddle. She told me that I'm probably going to have another baby. I said no, I'm definitely not having another baby. She said, "are you forcing yourself not to?" and I said yes. So then she said, "probably you'll forget and then you will have another baby." Probably not a good idea to explain the science of vasectomies to a 4-year old? My kids all want another baby, and the truth is I feel ridiculously guilty for not giving Connor a brother. But that door is closed for good. Sorry Connor, just one more way we are scarring you for life.

Other cute things my kids do...Lucy gave me Eskimo kisses while she was laying in bed with me this morning. Then she pinched my nose and said it was an Eskimo hug. 

When we were in Toledo and using the GPS to find our way around, every time the voice told us which way to go, Mathilda said "thank you." She thanks everyone all the time. At least she has good manners while she is being a stink pot. 

Yesterday we spent the afternoon at The Henry Ford Museum with some friends. We had 7 kids with us, which sounds crazy but actually it was not terribly nuts. The place is huge and it wasn't very crowded, so they were able to run around pretty much to their hearts content. My friend and I discussed how places like that make us think that homeschooling would be fun and rewarding, but that the dedication required to successfully homeschool sounds insurmountably daunting. My poor son was once again stuck with all girls. Some day his friends will be jealous, right???

Sitting in the Rosa Parks bus

Rosa Parks bus...I think they are sitting in her actual seat

He managed to have fun with 6 little girls

Thrown in jail for supporting women's rights

Passionate about the cause

Practicing their duck and cover

Mathilda got a nap in

It was a long, super fun day, which also included some playing at our friends' house and a trip to TCBY for waffle cone Wednesday ($1 waffle cones - how did I not know about this before yesterday???). I am so grateful to my friend for including my family in the day's activities. Our Spring Break continues to be awesome...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Is In The Air (Or Not): Toledo, Ohio

My big kids are on Spring Break and although we're not doing a big trip, we've been having loads of fun. Friday night they got their break started with a sleepover at Chris's mom's house with their cousins. Lucy had a birthday party to attend Saturday afternoon, and then we had three of Bethany's friends overnight (sleepover with 3 girls...deja-vu???). I took Bethany and the three other girls to an ice show at the local ice arena to see Wizard of Oz on ice. Another friend was performing with her synchronized skating team during the intermission, and it was a very entertaining show. Going out with all big kids was such a freeing experience. They want a snack? Send them to the snack stand. Without me. One of them needs to go to the bathroom? Send them to the restroom. Without me. I had a small glimpse of what life will be like in a few years, and it was nice. Not that I'm hurrying anything along...

Sunday morning our guests went home and the kids and I headed for Toledo with my mother-in-law. Toledo, Ohio probably doesn't sound like an exciting Spring Break destination, but we really had the best time. Our first stop was The Toledo Museum of Art, and it was fantastic! We stayed for hours and no one was bored for one second. Admission is free (donations appreciated), the cafe serves delicious and reasonably priced food (turkey and brie wrap with dried fruit and nuts and a fruit salad - SO GOOD!! - for like $6), the place is huge (we didn't see nearly everything), and there is a sweet family area with all kinds of fun (free!!!) things for the kids to do, like painting, arts and crafts,blocks, dress-up clothes, and lots more. We did pay to see the special Egyptian exhibit, which was well worth the money because who wouldn't sacrifice some cash to see the centuries old blackened corpse of an Egyptian priest (or priestess or prince or...something)? Here are a whole bunch of pictures commemorating our day at the museum...

Walk like an Egyptian

Matisse tile mosaic

Little Miss Attitude

Meema and her grandbabies

I whip my hair back and forth...dancing in the cafe

Meema and Lucy

Entrance of the Egyptian exhibit

Lucy & Bethany painting together

Lucy & Bethany modeling the hats they made

Mattie having fun in the family area

Connor doing a puppet show for Mattie

My kids are crazy and loud and fun and maybe people sometimes inwardly groan and run in the opposite direction when they see us coming. But I am so happy to be able to experience things like art museums with their joyfulness and excitement.

We left just before they kicked us out (it was closing time!), headed to our hotel and went for a swim before dinner. Dinner, where no one ate their dinners because they were falling asleep (literally) at the table.

After breakfast Monday morning, we went swimming again before heading to the Imagination Station for the afternoon. We have been going to this place since Connor was younger than Mathilda is now, and every time we have a blast. My one complaint this time - visitors are no longer permitted to bring in their own food and drinks. I don't know how vigilant they are about checking, but I did see a few signs. We didn't bring food this time, but often we do, so this is a bummer. Plus the food cost as much or more than it did at the art museum, and was not nearly as good (kind of yucky, in fact). We stayed for a few hours before heading off to our next adventure.

Uncooperative Mathilda? No Way!

Lucy getting ready to knock an egg into a glass of water

Bethany's turn

and Connor's turn

Mattie driving the mini-me ambulance

Television stars

They could have watched themselves on "TV" as pseudo sportscasters all day
Did I mention it rained the whole time we were in Toledo? We had planned on going to the zoo, but the weather did not agree with our plans. After we left Imagination Station (in the rain), we fumbled our way to a movie theater (GPS would not recognize the address...GRRR!) to see Hop. It was a cute movie. I liked the concept of an Easter movie, and it was entertaining, but with a pretty flimsy story line. Nonetheless, we all liked it and I didn't have to leave the theater with Mattie one time! Progress! We took a pizza and some salad back to our room for dinner, and then Meema took the 3 big kids down to the pool yet again. I stayed behind with Mathilda, trying to get her to sleep, which was totally fruitless. Tuesday morning we went swimming one last time after breakfast. Mathilda was loving the pool beaucoup. Every time we walked past it, she would gaze through the window and mutter "my pool" or "bye bye pool". At one point she got her swimsuit out, brought it to me and said "me pool." "Pool" sounds a lot like "poop", so it did get a little confusing.

When we checkout out, we went to Friendly's for lunch. I loved Friendly's when it was here in Michigan, and I thought they were all closed. I had no idea Ohio was keeping such a secret. The kids got Peeps sundaes for a treat. Yep, that's right. And not just regular old Peeps, but chocolate dipped Peeps. With marshmallow sauce as a topping. 
We have lots more plans for the week, and I am going to enjoy every moment of the break. We might as well leave out the "spring" part, because it is definitely (pretty much) still winter, despite what the calendar might say.