Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book 20: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The language alone in the Narnia series is delicious, but who can resist a lion resurrecting? At Easter (even though this is technically Maundy Thursday), it seems fitting to recommend this book. My mom dug up my old set of all seven books in the Narnia series. I have already devoured The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with Nora, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into the other six.
Predictably, good triumphs over evil in this book. However, the veins of good and evil run together and twist around each other too. A far cry from a fairy tale, this book is complicated. I hadn't read it since I was a kid. I was surprised, impressed, and overjoyed at all I could still take from it. I love watching the kids run their hands over the back wall of the their closets, just to make sure they didn't miss a gateway into this extraordinary place.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Super Spring

A few short weeks ago, I felt like spring would never get here. Winter lingered, keeping us captive indoors. Although I couldn't wait for the onslaught of spring, I wish it hadn't piled on me with such vehemence. Soccer games and practices, PTO obligations, gardening, and spring cleaning, of course. I feel like spring didn't sprung; rather that it exploded! 
I hope ya'all are frantically enjoying spring as much as I am.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

This is What Ten Years Looks Like

Bubba and I recently celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. Okay, "celebrated" might be too strong of a word. We had our tenth anniversary. He worked late, of course, while I took Gray and Lily to the doctor for his well check and story time at the library before bringing Nora and the little kids to her soccer practice in the evening. We had pancakes and scrambled eggs for a quick dinner before tucking everyone into bed. Then, Bubba fell asleep in his chair, and I folded laundry.

That is what ten years looks like in my house.

In some ways, I don't mind that it was just an ordinary day. The point of a wedding is to signify the beginning of a life together. And life is full of story time crafted paper gardens and scrambled eggs.

However, there is a small part of me that wishes for a little more fanfare. After this long, we still love each other, of course, but we also still like each other a lot. We drive each other crazy, but we are a darn good team. And we should be celebrating that every day.

Ten years... Yay for us!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

In the Window Box

Our house came with three window boxes attached with fat, rusted, unmovable brackets. They were originally dark turquoise with stenciled daisies. I painted them dark green.

Originally, I loved the idea of my window boxes. With visions of twiddlebugs dancing in my head, I imagined them bursting with color and life.

Unfortunately, my black thumb has crushed nearly every living plant to enter the window boxes. I've tried herbs, flowers, and ivy, and every single one has died. I often forget to water them, and I only add nutrients from our compost in the spring. By August, the poor plants are dry and starving. Even the most tenacious plants give up.

It is so easy to forget the long summer in the first warm days of April. The pansies are perky and pretty. The soil is damp and rich. The plants bask in the sun that can reach our house when the trees are still only budding.

My window boxes are full of hope right now. We'll see how long I can make it last.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Conversations with My Son

Him: A smile is like a mountain, and a frown is like a boat. See? My mouth goes like this. And then it goes like this.

Him: When Lily puts me in the toybox, it's dark in there!

Him: What if I don't like school?
Me: I'm sure you will, Sir.
Him: Yeah, I'm sure I will too. But what I just wanted to know if I don't.

Him: I'll never go to the dark side, Mama.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Snow Day Number 1,568

It's almost spring. Thank goodness. Hopefully, this was our last snow storm. Hopefully, it will be warm soon. Hopefully, March will go out like a lamb. In the meantime, we have been trying to make the most of our snow days.

Though this post may come a little late, this is my recipe for a perfect snow day:

Stay in pjs all day.
Watch at least one great, old movie, preferably starring Hayley Mills.
Eat some popcorn.
Play at least one board game. Nora's favorite is vintage Payday, while Gray prefers Scene It.
Attempt to sled on an old Coke sign. When that doesn't work, try cross country skiing.
Bake something. I am partial to chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips.
Stuff yourself with warm soup and fresh, homemade bread for dinner.
Finish your day by reading a fascinating book in a warm bed.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Here Comes Preschool

I do not have didaskaleinophobia, but I have been phobic about my children going to school. It seems a lifetime ago that Nora started kindergarten, and I was a basket case. I never thought I would be able to say this, but, now, school is what feels normal, familiar, comfortable. Because of my fear, schedule, and control issues, Nora didn't go to preschool. However, I registered Gray.

What made me change my mind?

I don't even really know.

I know Nora and Gray are different kids, but I worry that I maybe should have made a different choice when it was Nora's time. She spent most of kindergarten in petrified silence. She was scared of school, but she loved it at the same time. In first grade, she'd come out of her shell enough to have playdates and become quite the leader in class. Kindergarten was tough.

Gray will not have that same trouble. He has never met a stranger, and he is the least insecure person I know. It's hard to make him feel uncomfortable anywhere; however, in the sometimes rigid instruction of school, I worry that his creative and scattered brain might get him into trouble. I don't want kindergarten to be tough again.

Maybe preschool would have helped Nora. Maybe it wouldn't have made any difference at all. Maybe it will help Gray, and, quite possibly, he'll be just fine with or without it.

We parents are all just trying to do what is best and right for our kids. Sometimes that means changing our minds. Look out, preschool. Here we come!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Soccer Party

Nora is playing her third season of soccer, and although I still don't know the rules of the game, I try to be the best soccer mom I can be. That includes throwing a soccer themed birthday party this year.

I let myself chill out about food this year. We just had a few snacks which I gave soccer names:
Popcorner Kicks
Time Out Chow
And, my absolute favorite:
The Grapes of Ref

I admit that none of the kids got the grape joke, but I thought it was funny.

I also got an obscene amount of soccer ball foil covered chocolates. I regretted this addition deeply when Lily pulled an Augustus Gloop and ate several with the foil still on. Poison Control assured me that she would pass them out later.

After being intimidated and overwhelmed by searching pinterest for soccer cake ideas, I finally settled on turning a sheet cake into a soccer field. I tried to flip it out of the baking dish, but with the memory of Bubba's deformed birthday cake haunting me, I decided not to fight it. I cheated and iced it in the pan on the eve of the party, just in case I claimed another victim.
It turned out pretty cute, and on the first try too!
The candles are the players, and Nora had to tell me where they should go.

The kids spent most of game time playing soccer with the new, scrap wood goals Bubba built.
Then, they ran an egg race with a ping pong ball I'd decorated to look like a soccer ball.
I wrote a mad lib about a soccer game and became the coolest mom ever when I let them use "poop" as an exclamation.
Instead of pinning the tail on anything, the kids tried to kick a goal blindfolded. No one did it, but they loved trying!
Nora insisted upon a balloon popping game. I had them see who could be the first to bounce a balloon off their head 10 times and then pop it.
Their favorite game seemed to be playing soccer with straws blowing a cotton ball on a cardboard field I'd invented. I got the idea from pinterest, but my "field" was not so charming. The piano bench worked perfectly to set up this game.

I didn't do much decorating. We spent most of the sunny, warm day outside. I did hang some glitter colored soccer balls that the kids made. We blew up a bazillion balloons and marked the driveway with streamers since most people seem to miss it. It was all very simple.

I find the best compliment from kids comes when they don't want to leave. Since none of her friends were in a hurry to vacate, I know they all had fun. Goal for Mommy!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Book 19: Peterson Field Guides: Birds of Eastern and Central North America

This beat up, stained, and notated book is the first bird book I ever owned. My mom got it for me for my high school graduation, and it has been with me ever since. One of the first birds I remember identifying without the help of a more experienced naturalist was a black necked stilt, which, incidentally is a really cool bird. 

Better birders than I (real, hardcore birders) can tell you their life list number off the top of their head. A life list is the number of species a birder has seen and/or heard and identified in his or her life. I have no idea what my number is, but the Peterson guide has a handy list of all the eastern North American species in the front. When I see a life list bird, I write the date and place on the list. 

The Peterson Guide was a great first guide. I promise if you spend enough time with one, you will never call a blue jay a blue bird or a vulture an eagle again.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Problem with Kale Chips

I love kale chips, but the addictive, green munchies tend to be prone to disaster in my house.
Here are a few tips I've learned from many'a failed kale chip.

  • Don't forget them in the oven. They will dissolve into brown dust.
  • Don't over season them. I once sprinkled so much garlic and salt on them that my lips puckered eating just one. The garlic was spicy and sharp enough to bite me back.
  • Don't forget to dry them completely before dressing and baking. If the leaves are still wet when you bake them, they droop into wilted depression. They look as sad as they taste.
  • Remove all the bugs. Since I don't use pesticide in the garden, once I found--well, this seems self explanatory. Bugs in food are bad.
  • Don't try to sneak them to Bubba. His contempt for kale corrupts even the best kale chips taste into unappetizing bitterness.
  • Don't buy them. Even if you fail a million times before you get it right, kale is cheap and easy to grow. Paying $3.99 for one tiny bag is a rip off.
  • Don't be a snob about buying them. I've wasted more than $3.99 in failed kale.