Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

It has been a busy Memorial Day weekend, between my working on the Memory Book project for my daughter's third grade class and my husband working all weekend. Yesterday our town held it's annual Memorial Day parade and for the third time in her nine years, my eldest daughter marched in it! Daddy had to work, but Grandpa, Gramby, my little girlie and I staked out our spot with lawn chairs and a cooler of snacks and we waited for my girl to march by with her Girl Scout Troop. We got a couple of pictures of her marching -- of course my video camera decided to act up right as I was ready to film her -- and then it started working again immediately after she passed by! Anyway, my girl is the one holding up the big sign -- which she held over her head for the entire mile-long march! What a trooper! She had a great time, but was ready to head back home for a swim in the pool! I had invited a few friends and Grandpa and Gramby (of course!) over for a little bbq after the parade. It was very low-key, but that's just what I like! Not too much fuss - just good friends and family! The kids had a great time in the pool, the guys sat watching them and chatting, and the ladies chatted while pulling together a quick dinner.

I was proud of my 9-year-old for marching in the parade, and I was also proud of my 3-year-old for sitting so patiently through the whole thing! Between getting there early to get a seat, waiting for the parade to start, and then the parade itself, my girl pretty much sat in one spot for 2 hours! To help entertain her, I had a bag with books and toys and aside from looking through one book and munching on a couple of snacks, she sat on my lap clapping and waving her little flag the entire time! I pointed out to her every time a soldier came by, and explained that we were there to celebrate them -- that is what Memorial Day is all about. I think it's important to make sure that my children understand that this parade is not just about the clowns and the bands (and ALL of the politicians marching...), but it's about our troops - past and present.

As I've mentioned (maybe one or two times...), I LOVE holiday decorations! The weather has been so nice here and the pool is swimmable (is that a word?) and with the impromptu parade "after-party" I decided to pull out my 4th of July decorations early! I figure between Memorial Day, Flag Day and 4th of July I can leave them up until July!! (Check out Paddy, -- he's all dressed for the season, too!) I love to make the holidays festive for my family, and any friends who happen by. It's a small thing that I like to do to show my family that I care -- and I think that it adds to the special feeling of a home!

Today Daddy is home and we are looking forward to spending the day together, outside enjoying the pool and the nice weather! Enjoy your day with your family!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Keeping Your Chin Up!

My friend Christine wrote a great post on her blog the other day, where she describes her daughter telling her she's the "worst mommy ever" simply because Christine would not buy her cotton candy at the grocery store.

I think we've all been there -- feeling under-appreciated -- this weekend my cotton candy moment was with my 9-year-old who never once said thank you for the hours of help I gave her with her first big school project. My husband and I went to the store and bought her supplies on Friday while she was in school -- everything on her list. Then Saturday she certainly did not appreciate my gently (at first) suggesting that she finish her essay so that she could enjoy the rest of her day. We got through that with some struggles and then Sunday there was a large display to make. The supplies that we purchased just were not going to work out. She was definitely not fond of me at this point of the day -- there was a definite breakdown...of communication... She did not come out and call me the worst mommy ever, but there was a vibe that I was getting. Anyway, we regrouped and I put the kids in the car and off we went to the store to buy more supplies. Then lots of technical help and consultation on the construction of a farmhouse, barn & silo and voila, the project is finished and where did the day go? She took the project to school yesterday (a day early) and got to be the first to do her presentation. She told me that she'd had the best day -- the presentation went great and everyone loved her display. No "thank you", but I was happy that she was happy and proud of the work she did.

I think one of the frustrating things about motherhood is that it takes SO long for our children to understand and appreciate what we do for them -- possibly until they have children themselves! (I'm sure our parents feel our pain -- or at least are pointing and laughing like, "see what you put me through?") You just do the best that you can and you enjoy every single sweet moment that comes along -- and they do, all the time! The other night, I came home to a glass of water with 3 buttercups floating in it -- a "bouquet" from my sweet little 3-year-old. Our children love us and appreciate us, just in their own quiet ways sometimes! And that's ok -- they'll realize what good parents we are -- when they have their own children! ;)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rained Out at the Ball Game!

I have 6 people coming for dinner tonight, so instead of vacuuming, I thought I would post about what we did last night! Makes sense, right? :) Last night we went to "school night" with the Red Wings -- our local minor league baseball team. Our 9-year-old daughter's school was selling discounted tickets to the game and we thought it sounded like fun! Our littlest girl had never been to a baseball game before and we were all excited for a fun family night doing something a little out of the ordinary for us! We were excited, that is, until we parked, and then it started pouring ran as we walked to the stadium...

Some of us, myself and my little girlie, had a hard time recapturing that excitement, as we sat in the pouring rain for the better part of two hours. My other daughter was in her glory -- hanging out with her friends -- I don't know that she even really noticed the downpour! Halfway through the game (close to 9pm), she was ready to stay for the entire game and the fireworks that were supposed to take place at the end. My husband was on his way up from his 3rd or 4th trip to the concession stands -- he never did get anything for himself! -- and it started to pour again and he caught my eye from the bottom of the stairs. Without words, we were able to communicate that yes, we were all ready to go and the girls and I would meet him at the entrance to the concessions. That was a wordless exchange. Not the case with my 9-year-old and I... "IT'S TIME TO GO -- DADDY'S WAITING DOWNSTAIRS -- IT'S POURING -- LET'S GO!" "I have to say goodbye to my friends!" Ok, no problem. The little girlie and I start making our way down -- she's still saying goodbye. We call to her a few times -- she's oblivious to us -- still saying goodbye. We get to the entrance of the concession stands -- she does not look like she is joining us anytime soon! I take the stuff out of my husband's hands and he hikes back up to our seats to escort her down -- during that exchange, she apparently realized that we were no longer up there with her (we could see her the whole time -- she just could not see us), so that seemed to put a little spring in her step, and she quickly came back with her dad.

All in all, it was cold and wet, but my girl had a great time with her friends, we didn't melt in the rain, and we decided that this would be a lot of fun to try again on a dry night! Oh, and we also decided to make SURE that we always have umbrellas in the car!! (This is a picture of our girls standing next to a horse made entirely out of baseball gloves!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Great Dollar Store Find!

I'm sure that I've mentioned how much I love the dollar store, but I thought I'd bring it up again! It's a hit or miss thing with me -- sometimes I find tons of great stuff, other times, nothing special. The other day I stopped in while waiting for my glasses to be repaired. I didn't even have to move past the front of the store! I picked up lots of great things for our Memorial Day and 4th of July celebrations, and at this time of year they have so many wonderful toys for the kids to use outdoors! We have purchased pool noodles, hula hoops, plastic bats & balls - you name it! On this particular day, I spotted the cutest thing -- for $1 -- and snatched up two, one for each of my girls. They had the most adorable plastic "bug kits" -- it's a plastic container with a magnifying side and a side with ventilation for the bugs, and it's on a long string for your child to wear while searching. It also comes with a cute little net and plastic tweezers to pick up bugs for further examination (without getting their hands messy -- sounds great to me!). My girls had a great time with these -- although, truth be told, DADDY was the one who picked up worms and put them in their bug kits. But, prior to that, they each picked up leaves and things for their bugs to eat. And of course, after watching the worms for a little while, the girls let them loose in the garden.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nana!

Nana is at home in Florida, but we had a little birthday party for her when she was visiting a few weeks ago, and we called her this morning and sang a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" to her over the phone! ;) We're wishing her a very happy birthday, and sending lots of love her way!

Planting Our First Garden!

We had a great family day today -- we really took advantage of the great weather and we finally had the chance to finish our garden! We spent the majority of the day outside -- the kids played in the yard, my husband started prepping for the pool people to come and open the pool in the next two days, and we planted our first garden! As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we built a wall of garden bricks with the intention of planting our first vegetable garden.

Today, all four of us got in on the fun and we did our interpretation of a "lasagna garden." (Sorry, I would add a link, but I'm having a hard time searching right now! Tons of info on the internet, if you are interested!) From what I've read and heard about lasagna gardening, it's a layering process and the great thing for us is that you don't have to take time digging up the grass before planting! We started by laying a layer of newspaper over the grass in our garden. Then we soaked that with water -- by next year, that grass will be totally gone, along with the newspaper -- so easy! Then we took 2 wheelbarrows full of leaves, leftover under a tree from the fall. We laid that on top of the wet newspaper. Then came a layer of peat moss, and finally a layer of top soil.

We had to take a trip to the local garden store to pick up the peat moss and the top soil and while we were there we purchased vegetable and fruit plants -- my girls were SO excited!

We may have gotten a LITTLE carried away... It didn't look like a lot of plants in our little wagon, but later when I was talking to my grandmother (garden clubber extraordinaire!) I thought, "Wow, that sounds like a lot -- that's not all going to work in there!" But, she didn't seem concerned, and I told her that this is our first garden, we'll find out what works and what doesn't work and we'll make adjustments next year! This year is a gardening adventure!

For our first garden, we chose things that we would normally eat and therefore buy at the store -- tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, bell peppers. My girls also chose a few things that they just thought would be fun to plant -- watermelon (I know... but it's an adventure!), strawberries and even pumpkin! It will be a wonderful experience for the girls to see the fruits and vegetables (hopefully!) grow and it might even get them to try some things that they may not normally eat (I've got my fingers crossed that my 9-year-old will try a tomato!). But, in any case, we had a wonderful day together as a family!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Learning to Share -- It's a (Lengthy) Process!

My sweet angels (see, photographic proof) have been bickering pretty much since they woke up this morning. Yesterday, they ended the day with crabbiness over the dollhouse -- they must have been dreaming about it, because they woke up this morning and proceeded to be crabby with each other over the dollhouse! We have a Barbie house and we have a Fisher Price Loving Family dollhouse -- both were gifts for our 9-year-old when she was younger -- a birthday and a Christmas I believe during her 3rd and 4th years? Anyway, the Barbie house lives in her bedroom, where it has been all but forgotten until recently. The dollhouse lives in our family room, where it has been all but forgotten until recently. Care to guess what the recent spark in interest has been? Having a little sister who is interested in playing with them!

I made the suggestion that if we couldn't share the houses and play nicely together, that we would put one in each of their rooms and that would be the one with which they played. That was not a popular suggestion. So, they decided to try sharing and playing nicely together with the dollhouse. That was decided in the living room. By the time they walked downstairs to the family room, all bets were off! I did come up with another suggestion that actually bought us an hour or so of pleasant playing and sharing -- the dollhouse opens up and has 2 sides, each with 3 floors. I suggested that they each take a side and that is theirs to play with -- instead of pretending it was a house, they could pretend it was an apartment building and they are neighbors. Surprisingly, they tried this without argument and played nicely for quite some time!

Of course, at some point their patience with each other wore thin, and then things happened like my elder daughter deciding to play "earthquake" and shaking her side of the house (insisting that it didn't affect her sister's side -- but, I have vision and could see both sides shaking...). That irritated the younger one. I'm not sure if that was what caused her to hit her sister with a plastic maraca, or if it was something else... Anyway, I asked her, "Did you hit your sister on purpose?" And she said, "Yes, but I said sorry!" (Hey, at least she's honest!)

Tomorrow's another day...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Borders' Double Dog Dare Summer Reading Program

Borders has a great incentive program to get kids reading this summer! Their '10 Summer Reading Double Dog Dare "dares" kids to read 10 books and then they can choose 1 of ten great books for free at their local Borders store! (No purchase necessary!) Just click on this link to read more about this fun summer reading program and to download the form for your kids.

My daughter is already deciding on which 10 books she is going to read!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Painted Flower Craft

This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and our girls both came home from school with projects to honor their teachers. Our littlest girlie had a wooden flower that was glued to a wooden stick, and our instructions (from the class coordinator) were to have her decorate the flower in any way she wanted to – stickers, markers, crayons, paint – and put her name on the front of the flower.

They were going to take all of the flowers from the class and put them into a cute vase or planter and present that to the teacher. My girl opted to paint her flower, and then I painted her name onto the flower – one letter on each flower petal, with her last initial in the center. It came out very cute and she had a great time painting her flower. I thought this would be a great idea not only for a teacher’s gift, but also for Mother’s Day, Grandparent’s Day – you name it! Wouldn’t Grandma love a “bouquet” of flowers painted by her grandchildren? We used acrylic paint, which I purchased at Michael’s Crafts this weekend for another project (which I’ll share with you later!) – I found these paints on sale for $.77 - $.88, and I’m sure that you could also find the wooden sticks and wooden flower at Michael’s or Joann’s or any of the other hobby / craft stores.

And while the little one was painting, to keep her sister happy and entertained, I had her paint some rocks that we will use as decorations in the garden!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Marissa the Third

Just got back from Petco -- we bought a blue fish instead of a red one (although, that was a struggle -- she was going for that same red fish again!!), we bought a pink tank instead of a blue one, and she wanted to name it "Rydia" but that irritated her older sister all the way home, because apparently that's the name of a character in her Final Fantasy 4 video game... Sigh. To keep the peace, our little one decided that she did not have to name her new fish Rydia, as long as she could name it Marissa. Again. So, here we go again!

(Check out my music on the lower right-hand side of the blog... I try to add appropriate songs from time to time!) ;)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Seriously? AGAIN with the fish?

Well, sadly, Marissa Too has also died... And this time, right while our little one was sitting there watching! We didn't have to tell her -- she said, "I think Marissa died!" Boy, did she ever! My sweet baby is doing pretty well, considering -- her 9-year-old sister is a basket case, however! This time we are taking no chances -- the tank and all of its contents are in the trash -- starting fresh! We told our little one that tomorrow after work we'll go and get her a new fish. She told me that Marissa didn't like "people or cows or grass seed!" (I have no idea what that means... Maybe if we find a fish that LIKES cows and grass seed, it will live for longer than a month...) We keep you posted on the continuing saga of Marissa the fish -- we should get a new name, too, don't you think?

Happy Mother's Day!

Remembering the two very special reasons that I get to celebrate this very special holiday! Wishing you and yours a very Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself, Too!

I think that it’s part of a parent’s nature to focus on the needs of the kids and the needs of the family, sometimes forgetting to focus on our own needs! I know for myself, I tend to worry about when the kids need to get to the doctors, are the kids eating right, are they getting enough sleep, etc. – and I don’t always pay as much attention to things that will keep me healthy. Next year, I will be turning 40, and I think that has helped me to put things into perspective and realize that I am not “indestructible” as I may have thought, subconsciously. And I realize that in addition to taking care of my girls, I need to take care of myself so that I am always around for them! So, I am trying to make this a year of well being for me. I had a physical this year, I am trying to eat right – I still have to work on that sleeping thing… But I am trying to work in some time to take care of myself. (I even made an eye appointment for this week – which is LONG overdue!)

And it’s not just important to focus on your physical well being – mental and emotional well being is a necessity, too! We spend so much time running the kids from this activity or this play-date to that one – take some time and do something fun for you! Last month, my husband and I were fortunate to be able to leave the kids with Grandpa & Gramby for a night and we went to an inn for an overnight! This was such a treat for us, and it was a treat for the kids to have a sleepover with their grandparents. Normally, it’s not in the budget for us to go away on an overnight like that, but I think two years ago for our 10th anniversary the kids stayed with Grandpa & Gramby and we had a “stay-cation” at home! It doesn’t matter where you go – it’s the point of taking time out of your busy schedule to focus on you for a change.

Ladies, I think see a girl’s night in our future! ;)