Still Catching Up...

I wish I could devote more time to blogging these days, but the best I can do is to post when I can.

Stay tuned...

Friday, July 31, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 6

Week of July 25, 2009

Theme of the Week: Thinking Local. This week we have been trying to experience things in our town and the neighboring towns --- both while visiting my parents and back at home --- along the way we had lots of fun with family and friends.

Saturday: Day Two of our visit to Grandma & Grandpa's. The kids went with Grandpa and I to Lowe's for a free "Built & Grow" Workshop where we built "hodotoders" [helicopters]. In the afternoon we went to see Great Grandma Mickie at the lake, where the kids had an awesome time playing in the water, throwing rocks, and watching the ducks.

Sunday: On the road again. We spent the morning at Grandma & Grandpa's, playing in the yard. The Tumbleweed enjoyed brushing the cats and picking vegetables, while the Dandelion loved climbing on the tractor and running around the yard. We got on our way around 1:00, but took a detour through the new Wegman's before leaving town.

Monday: Back to "normal", if there really is a normal during the summer. The Tumbleweed had gymnastics in the morning and we headed to a MOMS Club pool party in the afternoon. The kids had a great time in the water and even I didn't mind going in because it was a HOT day.

Tuesday: A day with no plan. Hard to believe, isn't it?!? What did we end up doing? We went to Walmart... not exactly fun, but I did get started on my back-to-school shopping and was motivated to finally organize the kids drawers when I got home. After naptime we went to the farm to pick up our veggies --- and then home to cook some for dinner. Yum.

Wednesday: A "here, there & everywhere" kind of day. We started by heading to the Dandelion's first karate class - only to find out that it was canceled due to lack of enrollment. I wasn't pleased, but they were able to place him in another session later that day. We killed some time by heading blueberry picking and stopping at the scrapbook store. Then it was off to picnic at the park with our MOMS Club friends. We left the park sweaty and covered in sunscreen & sand and still had to head to dance and back for the other karate class. Phew - I think that was a little too much for one day.

Thursday: We headed to gymnastics and then stopped at one of the local farms to pick up veggies for dinner on our way to a friend's house for a playdate. The kids had an absolute blast, eating cupcakes and putting on a talent show. A really fun afternoon. We did some more experimenting with veggie recipes at dinner and I headed to bed at 8:30... boy, I was tired.

Friday: The rain returned just in time for us to head to the town concert series, and while it was great to have a rain location, we were totally drenched going in and coming out. I'll be lucky if my shoes dry by Monday! But the music was great :)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Adventures in Cooking - Grilling, plus dessert

With summer finally here we have another option when cooking dinner - the grill... at least when it decides not to rain. We have gotten a little more creative lately, trying a few new recipes which were quite good.

Spinach Salad with Grilled Ham and Peaches
from Everyday with Rachael Ray, August 2009

* Two 1-inch-thick slices crusty bread (I used 2 hot dog rolls)
* 1 pound boneless ham steak
* 3 peaches, halved
* 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 3/4 pound baby spinach

1. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Brush the bread, ham and peaches with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on the grill and cook, turning once, until the bread is slightly charred and the peaches are softened, about 5 minutes, and the ham is slightly charred, about 8 minutes. Let cool.
2. Thinly slice the ham, cut the peaches into thick wedges and cut the bread into large cubes.
3. In a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, ham and peaches. Top with the croutons and your favorite dressing (the magazine had a dressing recipe, but it was easier to use what we had in the fridge).

Onion-basil grilled vegetables
modified from Taste of Home "Fun Food" issue
We made this to use some CSA veggies we had on hand and some corn I picked up at a local stand. The original recipe had potatoes and green & red peppers (and used the whole soup packet).
* 3 medium ears of corn, cut in half
* 1 cup carrots, baby sized or cut up into 2" pieces
* 1 bunch scallions
* 1/2 envelope onion soup mix
* 1 T basil
* 1 T olive oil
* 1/4 t pepper
* 1 T butter

1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except butter. Toss to coat. Place on double thickness of heavy duty foil. Dot with butter. Fold foil around vegetable mixture and seal tightly.
2. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 25-30 minutes, turning once.

Note: I didn't actually do the grilling myself, but I did find the recipes and prepare the ingredients :)

Mini Cherry Pies
from Everyday with Rachael Ray, August 2009
These came out awesome. I've never made my own pie filling before, but this was delicious. I'll definitely do it again --- magazine had all kinds of different fruit fillings.

* 1 1/2 pounds cherries, stemmed and pitted
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1 tablespoon cornstarch
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* Keebler mini-crusts
* Whipped Cream

1. In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar, lemon juice and corn starch.
2. In a heavy, medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the fruit mixture and bring to a boil, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring often, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
3. Spoon into crusts and serve with whipped cream.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Things Change

It is strange to think back to the things that were once a part of your everyday life and realize that they are completely different. The kids and I went to my parents for the weekend, and despite the fact that we visit a few times every year, it seemed like a lot of things have changed while I wasn't looking.

As we drove around town, I noticed lots of things that are different... They had removed one playground and had completely remodeled another (making it MUCH better). We stopped into the library, and while it was mostly as I remembered it, it won't be for long - they are going to be building a brand new library over the next two years. Thankfully Dipper Dan's (the local ice cream place) is exactly the same, but across the street what was once corn fields is now home to a bank, pharmacy, brewery, Family Dollar store and there is more going in.

At home (where my parents have lived since I was 1) the most noticeable change is that my parents had to take down the cherry tree that was outside my bedroom window growing up. The house looks different from the front for sure, but I think the thing that seemed the strangest to me was looking out of the bedroom window and not seeing it. We will miss it though --- it was great for taking pictures under. The Eagle & I had our engagement photos taken there - as were our first communion photos and various other special occasions through the years.

The other notable thing that has been gone for years but I didn't realize until this trip, was the hook & eye that was on the screen door to the garage while we were growing up. Since we were little my parents have gotten air conditioning in the house and keep the doors closed on the hot days in the summer, but I still recall the days when all of the windows & doors were open in the house with the breeze blowing through was the only way to cool off. We could have used that hook to keep the Dandelion inside a few times this weekend!

[Insert flashback to the days of the gravel driveway, a swingset in the back yard, two Astro minivans and Cricket & Scooter]

Despite all of the things that have changed, some things are just as I remember them... the falls are still falling, the fire trucks are all yellow, there are white lines on the sides of all the roads, and people still drink 'pop'.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 5

Week of July 18, 2009

Theme of the week: Back to Basics. This week we spent a lot of time around the house doing projects & playing outside.

Saturday: Project day. I had high hopes for the day, but in the end I started more things than I finished. The kids had lots of fun outside playing in the sprinkler pool & water table. We had an awesome grilled dinner (from the recent Rachael Ray magazine) out on the deck.

Sunday: Another day of projects --- cleaning out my car, weeding the garden, laundry... The Eagle occupied the kids much of the day so I could get things done - the Tumbleweed got to ride her bike at the track while the Dandelion napped. Later they returned the pop bottles to the grocery store and then got to play in the bouncy house to tire them out before bed.

A haircut for the Tumbleweed before gymnastics, then grocery shopping. In the afternoon we went to one of the special summer events at the Y --- Alice in Wonderland Tea Party. It was very cute! The Dandelion was back to his old tricks, not wanting to stay in child watch. Looks like we have to start over with that now that he is in the 2 year old room.

Tuesday: Rain. We headed to Pump It Up for their open play - boy is it crowded in the summer! Both kids also got to work on their new summer workbooks, which are a favorite rainy day activity. The Tumbleweed particularly enjoys workbook time and the Dandelion doesn't want to be left out, so I got him one too!

Wednesday: Movie Time, Take #2. We did much better this time, but it still wasn't easy. Dance class also went better. That is, the Dandelion did much better in the waiting room. I finally got a good picture!

Thursday: Crazy beyond crazy day! We went to an open house at a new place that the Dandelion could go to "school" at in the fall (they have a toddler drop off program to help bridge to preschool). Then gymnastics & home for lunch & packing, then off to the Farmer's Market with the MOMS Club. Then we hit the road for a trip to Grandma & Grandpa's house.

Friday: Around Honeoye Falls. I took the kids to some of the places I went as a kid - the Mendon Public Library & Dipper Dan's (we attempted the playground, but it started to pour). We also went to visit both Grandma & Grandpa's work.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Massive Undertaking

A - Kids make messes.
B - Kids ride in the car.

If A and B are both true, what is the probability that the car is messy? 100%

It isn't really a secret that my car has that "lived-in" look. Okay, it is a disaster most of the time. This afternoon I finally had time to clean it out. I literally took everything out, including the car seats, and vacuumed and wiped the surfaces. In the end, I had a full trash bag and an overflowing laundry basket of "stuff" that had moved in and taken up residence in my car.

Among the squatters...

5 hats
3 soccer balls
4 Lightning McQueen cars (poor Sally was getting lonely in the house!)
11 books (not counting coloring books)
8 shoes - all the Dandilion's
13 socks - only 2 pairs (no wonder I have a bunch of socks without partners)
5 bouncy balls - probably from all of the birthday party goody bags that never made it into the house.
31 crayons - including 6 broken ones
1 school of crunched goldfish crackers - we had a big spill last week

So those things - and a bunch of other stuff - have been sent back to their rightful homes and my car is at least 25lbs lighter (more if you count the fact that I had the double jogger in the car and haven't put it back yet).

Now, how do I teach the kids not to turn an empty bag of crackers over and shake the crumbs out to prove that they are gone?

Butterflies & Wildweeds

Mid-July Garden Report:
Back in the spring I planted a big package of wildflower seeds that were supposed to attract butterflies. While the bed is full of greenery, it is mostly weeds & crabgrass. The few flowers that did come in don't seem like the type that will be attracting butterflies. This weekend I set out to weed the wildflower bed and plant another packet of seeds. I don't know if the new seeds will come in any better, but I consider the weeding work a success because I was able to capture this photo while I was in the garden...

Elsewhere in the garden, the Hollyhocks are blooming despite a terrible case of "rust". My first tomato has ripened, but has also been affected by the slugs :(. There are 4 more left on the vine - hopefully they will make it. And... my strawberry plants had babies! So far it looks like I will now have 7 strawberry plants (I had 2 this year).

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 4

Week of July 11, 2009

Theme of the Week: Now we're cookin'! This week the weather was finally drier and there were lots of fun activities with friends.

Saturday: It was a beautiful day at Story Land - the sun was shining & the temperatures were warm enough to get wet but not unbearable if you didn't. The Dandelion was able to enjoy the park a lot more this year and loved riding the rides, especially driving the tractors. The Tumbleweed rode all of the "big kid" rides and gave all but the Twirling Turtles a thumbs up.

Sunday: Another gorgeous day for our final day in New Hampshire. We spent the day at Attitash. The Eagle took the Tumbleweed on the Alpine Slide and the "Sidewinder" Tube Waterslide, and she could have bounced forever on the Euro-Bungy trampolines! Both kids played in Buddy Bear's Playpool absolutely loving the slide. It was tough to leave!

Monday: It is always tough to return to reality after vacation, but we were up and at it for a playground playdate & gymnastics.

Tuesday: The Tumbleweed was really looking forward to today's "Fancy Nancy's Frilly Fun Playgroup". The girls had a great time & I had fun preparing themed food & activities.

Wednesday: Another morning at the playground with friends. The kids are getting better at knowing their boundaries at the playground, and today was slightly less stressful than usual. The afternoon was interesting as I attempted to get the Dandelion to nap during dance class, but failed & he fell asleep on the way home.

Thursday: 3D Sidewalk Chalk & riding scooters were a fun way to spend the morning at home, before heading out for gymnastics & grocery shopping to pick up some ingredients for some new recipes to use up our CSA share.

Friday: Blueberry Picking - finally! We had been rescheduling our first trip to Tougas for blueberries due to delayed berries and both kids were eager to go picking as they both love blueberries. I was surprised that neither of them ate very many blueberries in the field --- in the end we picked 10lb of berries for eating, baking, freezing & making jam.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Adventures in Cooking: Our Share

This year we are first-time members of a local CSA. A farm only a little ways from our house is the pick-up location for shareholders in the Community Supported Agriculture program. So far we have had 5 weeks of distribution and this week was the largest share so far (the season starts off slow in the spring & harvests pick up mid-summer).

This week our share included: a bunch of radishes, a head of lettuce, a bunch of braising greens, 1/4lb of snap peas and a bunch of scallions. I must admit that in the past I might have only bought half of these items a the grocery store and probably not even in the same week. So it is going to be an adventurous summer as we try new foods... and learn to cook them!

This week we have had three straight dinners with our fresh veggies - two that we have had in recent weeks (chicken wraps with lettuce & radishes and chicken spaghettini) and one experimental dish with braising greens. Having never eaten a braising green - nevermind cooking them - I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I found a recipe that sounded worth trying & it was a hit (see recipe below).

Stay tuned - I am sure there will be more to share as we eat more local & seasonal foods!

Braising Greens w/ Pine Nuts & Golden Raisins
Serve this with pork chops or pan-fried sausage (we had grilled pork chops)

2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 pound mixed braising greens
2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cover the raisins with water and let stand 30 minutes to soften. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Toast the pine nuts until golden and fragrant, 7-10 minutes.

Wash and drain the braising greens. Transfer the greens to a large pot with just the water clinging to them. Cover them and cook over moderate heat, tossing occasionally with tongs, until they are wilted and tender. Add additional water if they threaten to cook dry. Drain the greens in a sieve and chill under cold running water. Drain them again and squeeze to remove the excess moisture.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add the garlic and saute until lightly colored. Add the greens, raisins, pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat greens with oil. When the greens are hot throughout, remove them from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil. Serve immediately.

Serves 3 to 4.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bargain Hunting

I searched through all my posts and to my surprise I have never posted about coupon clipping, bargain hunting or good deals! I find this to be strange, as I usually spend some time each week on these things.

Over a year ago I read the book "Coupon Mom" and got really into clipping coupons and finding grocery deals. Since then my bargain hunting has had it's ups & downs based on the time I have to devote to pre-planning my shopping trips, but thanks to some friends who have joined the in bargain hunting (and tip me off on bargains) I am back on an upswing & enjoying the thrill of a good deal.

I try to be very attentive when I shop - knowing the prices of the things I regularly buy and when a deal is a good deal or not. For example, I never buy V8 Fusion at the grocery store regular price ($4.69) or even the Walmart/Target price ($2.99). Instead I wait until it is 2/$5 and buy enough for about 6 weeks, as that is about the frequency of their sale - and I usually top that off with a coupon or two making it 2/$4 on some of them. Although I have to say, one of my best deals was the week I got 9 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios for $12 (thanks to a good sale price and 3 $1 off coupons that were doubled by the store)!

It is this strategy that lead us to invest in a freezer chest this past February. It is now filled to the brim with some of my favorite bargain hunting... buy 1 get 2 free on bread & English muffins and $1.98/lb boneless chicken breast. I also have a stock pile of Eggo waffles bought at 50% off (the kids current favorite breakfast) and several good cuts of meat that I purchased multiples of while they are at a good price (flank steak, pork shoulder and pork tenderloin). Since the freezer and pantry are stocked, there often weeks where I don't even need to go to the grocery store --- I love those weeks!

Since my friends are always tipping me off to grocery deals and deals at CVS (gotta love Extra Bucks!) I thought I would share a few deals this week too. I was quite excited when I saw the AC Moore ad this week - and not because of the scrapbooking supplies (shocker!). Actually, they have their entire collection of Thomas the Tank Engine toys on sale for 40% off. This past weekend we took the kids to the Day Out With Thomas event and now the kids are totally into all things Thomas - but man the trains are pricey, 40% off makes them slightly better (the Dandelion just got Thomas for his birthday, but otherwise we hadn't bought any others). The other thing I went for was their Crayola Sidewalk Chalk Toys --- they had all of the the regularly $6.99 items at 3/$10 - including some cool chalk tools and the 3D glasses. Now that the weather is nice we have been going through lots of sidewalk chalk... so it was perfect timing for both! Here is what we got...

Full Price - $61.92 (with tax). We Paid - $34.44 ... saving 44%!

Next up - a Coupon Swap playgroup... then my favorite time of the year... Back-to-School! There is lots of good bargain hunting to be done in that area... more coming on that later!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"No, I wanna time out!"

The Dandelion knows how to climb over the family room gate. I think he sees it as a challenge to find a way over it when I have tried to remove everything he could stand on to get over (he needs about 1"-2" of a boost).

Today was no exception. He used a green chair to clear the gate, and appeared at my side quite proud. I sent him to Time Out (in the living room chair). He sat there contently and said "Sorry, climb my gate" to get up. I put him back in the family room.

A few minutes later he appeared again. He walked straight to Time Out and sat down. A couple minutes later I went over for my apology, which he gave, and put him over the gate again. He was not happy. I reminded him that it was almost naptime and he ran to the other side of the room.

The break was short lived, as I heard the gate rattle a couple of minutes later. I caught him about halfway over, picked him up and said "Okay Buddy, it's naptime". Instant tantrum... "No, I wanna Time Out!"

I might have to rethink the Time Out location, the penalty for climbing the gate, or maybe the gate altogether.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Chalking Up

At gymnastics, the Tumbleweed is starting team this summer (Level 1) and will be going twice a week for 1 hour each time. So far she loved the first few classes. There are 5 girls in her group and on Mondays they even have the gym to themselves. So far they learned the team warm up routine, how to walk two at a time on the beam and pivot at the ends, and all about chalk. She was pretty excited about that!

She was also excited that they get to climb the rope every day, but got a little frustrated when she wasn't the best at it. Boy she is competitive!
Another new thing... running drills!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

One Sunday Morning

Once upon a time a little boy lay in his crib.

One Sunday morning the sun came up and "pop" out of the crib climbed the little Dandelion.

The Dandelion was very hungry, so he went to look for some food.

First he woke up his sister. But that was not enough.

Then he woke up his mom, who got him some milk, but he was still hungry.

He ate a hole in a slice of bread but he was still hungry.

Then he ate one banana but he was still hungry.

Finally he ate through one cup of yogurt and he felt much better.

He went into the bedroom, and after ten minutes out came a silly boy!


This Sunday we were woken up at 5:00 in our hotel room to the pitter-patter of little feet. Not just one set of little feet, but two. The Dandelion had climbed out of the pack-n-play, and woken his sister. Together they came out & woke us up, looking for food & drinks.

We got them all set up with food & the Disney Channel, but that only lasted for a short while. Soon the Dandelion was back, and on the floor he found a dime. "Geeuses money" he said. The Eagle & I started laughing. It sure sounded like he thought the money was Jesus'. So off he went with the money...

We heard a bit of a ruckus in the bedroom --- drawers opening & closing --- and a few minutes later, out came the Dandelion. "Read book" he said as he climbed up in our bed. What book did he have? The one you find in the bedside table at a hotel - The Bible. At this point it didn't look like we were going to get any more sleep, so at 6:15 we were all up.

[Side note: Later I figured out what he was talking about with "Geeuses money"... he meant "Cheese's money" as in Chuck E Cheese. We went a couple months ago and he was obsessed with the coins. I am surprised he still remembers!]

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 3

Week of July 4, 2009

Theme of the week: Back on track! After two "unscheduled" weeks, we are finally back to having scheduled activities - something the kids and I are both more comfortable with.

Saturday: The 4th of July. We had a great holiday - with a road race for the whole family in the morning, and an afternoon at Nana & Papa's house. The kids had lots of fun playing outside at Nana & Papa's since the weather was finally decent!

Sunday: The Tour de France was underway, and we enjoyed a quiet morning getting chores done and watching stage 2. The kids and I did a little strawberry picking on the final day of the season at Silvermine. And for dinner we headed to a friend's house for a BBQ.

Monday: The start of a busy week!!!! The first day of soccer camp meant that we were up & out of the house at 8:30. The Tumbleweed took a little time to get into the spirit of things, but once she did, she was tearing up the field. Afterward, the Tumbleweed had her first day of summer gymnastics. I was concerned that she might be too tired to do both (we already had soccer camp on the schedule when we got the gymnastics schedule), but she actually handled it quite well. The Dandelion was not a fan, though that wasn't really a surprise.

Tuesday: Safari Day at soccer camp... The Tumbleweed was totally into the it, wearing my new Tilley hat most of the morning. The Dandelion handled watching a little better today, fortunately today he didn't have to sit through 2 activities. The afternoon left us without power for a little while while a storm rolled through - the Tumbleweed and I spent the afternoon doing puzzles and getting all the pieces back into the right boxes.

Wednesday: My Terrible-Horrible-No-Good-Very-Bad Day. While we got a late start, I thought I had recovered getting everyone to soccer on time. The Eagle came to watch, which the Tumbleweed loved, and so did the Dandelion because Daddy let get out of the stroller a play. We headed straight from soccer to the free movie - Madagascar 2 - at the theater. Things went downhill from there... "Mommy I want more food", hiding behind the seats because it is too scary and at the end the Dandelion had been sitting in wet squishey gummy snacks. We headed home. No need for details, but the rest of the day wasn't much better. I went to be early.

Thursday: The last day of soccer camp, followed by gymnastics, the a trip to the grocery store. The kids did pretty well at the grocery store --- and they were even handing out samples of hot dogs - Free lunch! When we got home, the Eagle had found an awesome special surprise for Friday and we were excited to get packing for our trip. After dinner, I headed to MOMS Night Out for some fancy s'mores and conversations by the lake.

Friday: We packed up and hit the road early to arrive in North Conway for the special surprise... A Day Out with Thomas the Tank Engine. The kids got a huge kick out of the whole experience. The it was off to the hotel to get some rest for the rest of the big weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Coach Pole"

Today was the last day of soccer camp, which the Tumbleweed absolutely loved! ["We have to go back next week and the week after that!" she said when we left... there isn't camp next week, sorry kiddo.]

Her favorite game was "Grumpy Old Troll", which she called "The Dora Game". I am not really sure the British coaches got her reference, but most moms of preschoolers probably would have. They played the game the first day, and each day afterward she insisted they had to play it --- and for some reason they did, even keeping the kids late on Tuesday to prevent her from crying... I guess she had them wrapped around her finger!

So today, as we left the field I was asking her about what she did today and mentioned something to the effect of "When Coach Paul had you ..." and she stopped me mid-sentence with "No Mommy, it's Coach Pole" I could hardly stop laughing! She got mad that I laughed. I guess that is her interpretation of his name said with a British accent.

Being chased by "the grumpy old troll"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Adventures in Cooking - Strawberry Jam

This weekend, we managed to catch the final pick day of strawberry season. We picked 6lbs more (bringing the total to 21.5lbs for the season), with the intention of attempting to make jelly.

I've never made jelly before, but I followed the instructions for Strawberry Freezer Jam in the Ball Original Fruit Pectin package. It seemed pretty simple, and didn't take too much time beyond cutting up the berries. I ended up with 5 half pint containers of jam. I am looking forward to tasting my final product - I hope it turns out well.

This season, we have enjoyed lots of fresh strawberries, chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry shortcake and strawberry glace pie. I also have stored 3 strawberry toppings and two bags of smoothie berries. I look forward to carrying this new hobby forward into blueberry picking season and beyond.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wet & Wild 4th of July!

This year we spent the Fourth close to home. The Eagle was back in town for the weekend after lots of travel for his new job, so it was nice to have some family time.

We started out the morning at the Millbury Independence Day Road Race. It was a 2.5 mile (or 2.3, depending on what description you read) run through town. Since they had no rule about strollers (I guess no one had asked before?) the Eagle ran with the Dandelion in the stroller, and the Tumbleweed and I ran alongside them. The Tumbleweed paced us, stopping to walk when she needed to. We all crossed the finish line together near the end - but were not last either :)

We spent the rest of the day at Nana & Papa's house, where the kids thoroughly enjoyed playing in the kiddie pool. They took turns splashing each other, pouring water on each other, "swimming" (laying on their stomachs), jumping in & out and "fishing" (with a little toy game).

When they were done with pool and changed into clothes, the water fun didn't stop. The Tumbleweed wanted to water Nana's flowers with the hose, and since the Dandelion couldn't be left out, he started chasing her. So she sprayed him with the hose. "Daddy, I don't know what happened but his clothes are all wet" Oh well, he loved it, so I guess it didn't matter too much.

The irony was that later the Tumbleweed was at the edge of the pond (aka - golf course water hazard) tossing in rocks and fell in with all of her clothes on. She wasn't too pleased about that, but I suppose it was the universe telling her not to soak her brother with the hose :)

Two year old cute moment of the day:
The Dandelion saw Nana deliver me a brownie sundae bowl with a birthday candle, so he went over to her and said "my burfday, too. I ha eye kweem?" She gave him a bowl of ice cream, but that didn't make him happy. We finally achieved satisfaction when he said "candle" between tears, and we gave it to him. He then proceeded to repeatedly lick his ice cream off of it. Strange.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Week 2

Week of June 27, 2009

Theme of the week: Do as much as you can on the sunny days, because you never know when you'll have another one!

Saturday: We celebrated the Dandelion's birthday with a little family party & a homemade Cars cake.

Sunday: The kids & I marched in the Millbury Independence Day Parade with the MOMS Club. Then I went off to my scrapbook club, while the kids helped Grandpa with a "project".

Monday: Grandma & Grandpa said goodbye and headed for home, while I spent my day doing my final reports as MOMS Club president. We ended up staying home all day --- and lived to tell!

Tuesday: The kids had dentist appointments first thing, then we met the MOMS Club at Davis Farmland. It was our first trip to Davis. I entered the park with no map & no plan, and it all worked out OK! LOL...this was vary stressful for me at first, but we managed just fine. The kids had a blast & we stayed until 3:30.

The kids & I on the hayride

The Tumbleweed earned a pony ride

The Dandelion loved "dwiving" the "Twakter"

Wednesday: The rain returned and we ad no official plans for the day, but the kids & I made do. We went to a local nursery where they have a special green house with butterflies. The Tumbleweed & I were able to find butterflies, as well as chrysalis and caterpillars.

Thursday: More rain - and we were stuck at home all morning while the my cracked windshield was replaced. We spent the afternoon at the scrapbook store planning my next two classes :)

Friday: The sun was out! We headed out to walking group and then the playground. From the playground we took a detour to pick cherries at a local farm, since it was probably the only day they were going to let people pick this season. One the way home we stopped and had ice cream (for lunch). And since it was my birthday, we went out to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and had cookie cake when we got home (my favorite!) A crazy & fun day!


Next week we are finally on more of a schedule with several of the kids' activities starting, but there is still a lot of unplanned time as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Ticket Taker

When I remember, I like to watch SuperNanny or Nanny 911. Sometimes I watch to feel better about myself by watching other children behave worse than mine and other times I watch to find new ways to solve problems at my own house.

One of the techniques she often employs is a reward system for good behavior. On the show this usually involves some kind of jar with marbles or something like that. I have always liked the idea, but found the application of it not too practical for our busy lifestyle. That is until yesterday morning, when I had a moment of inspiration...

We were about to leave for a busy day with a trip to the dentist followed by a trip to an amusement park. As I was grabbing things to leave I saw a roll of raffle tickets. Still unsure exactly how I would use them, I grabbed about 20, stuffed them in my pocket and we were on our way.

While we were in the car, I explained to the kids what the plan was for the day. Then I set my newly thought up system into place. I told the Tumbleweed that for everything she did well she would receive one ticket (this included doing as she was asked when she was asked, helping without being asked, and other good deeds). I also told her that for any problems she would lose a ticket. At that point I wasn't quite sure what the reward would be, but I told her that when she had enough tickets she could "trade" them in for something she wanted. She seemed to like this plan...

It really worked well, especially at the amusement park. I held all of the tickets - the ones she had earned were in one pocket and the rest were in another pocket. When she earned one (or lost one) I just moved them from one side to the other. At lunchtime we counted them and talked about what she might want to do with her reward. She decided that going on a pony ride looked like fun. Since she had 7 tickets at that point, I set the mark at 10 tickets to earn a pony ride.

The threat of taking a ticket away was enough to discourage wandering & whining most of the time. She did lose a couple for yelling at Mommy or not doing what she was told, but at the end of our day she had earned enough for a pony ride.

After the trial run, I am continuing the ticket system. It seems to work in several ways ---

1. when she wants something, I can set the number of tickets she needs to earn to get it (ex. she did nice things all the way through the grocery store today to earn FruitaBu fruit rolls).

2. when there isn't something clear that she wants, I can ask her what she'd like to save her tickets up for and we can make plans to do that when she gets enough.

3. She is learning the concept of earning "money" & "paying" for things

4. She can see that there are tangible consequences for bad behavior, since Timeout isn't always enough. (In the past I would take away a reward for bad behavior, but she didn't really know how close she was to earning it. Now she can see that she is so close & doesn't want to mess up!)

5. It is more portable than SuperNanny's jar system. We are on the go way to much to wait until we return home to transfer balls into a jar - I could never keep track!

I hope the novelty doesn't wear off too quickly & that this continues to work for a while! It has been pretty peaceful on the four-year-old front for the past two days. I still have a "terrible" two year old to deal with --- I guess I will be back watching SuperNanny for tantrum-busters....

Here are a few old SuperNanny-inspired posts:

Daily Schedule - August 2008
Time-out - January 2009
Meal Time - May 2009