Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Summer Vacation: June 10, 2015

The first thing we celebrated in California was mom and dad's 39th wedding anniversary.  The lovebirds shared a slice of a family favorite pie.  Tim and I have one more year to make some big plans....
Then came Grandpa's 70th birthday.  We enjoyed a party at a nearby park with many friends. 

 Days later was a celebration for the opening of Tim's new chiropractic office.  I miss these things so often.  It was nice to be involved.
Every day didn't have to be a party, though.  Uncle Tim and Louie coming over was all it took to send the kids over the moon. 
Mommy rested a lot, and the kids didn't mind.  We had many afternoon activities with Grammy and Grandpa. 
Also, new haircuts.  Grammy's friends make house calls for the grandkids. 
They brought us buckets of toys, and game after game.  They invited us to swim in the pool. 
They took us blueberry picking. 
They met us at the park, or watched the kids so I could go out for a coffee and see old friends. 
We had outing after outing.  We went to the Great Valley Museum, that used to be itty bitty and halfway down McHenry.  Now it's got a huge building on the MJC campus. 
We let people take us out for ice cream.  We're nice like that.  

We were enjoying our vacation, and eagerly awaiting Daddy's arrival.  And then something unexpected came up.  That would be a whole separate post. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tia Amy: June 6, 2015

 This was kind of a big deal.  My best friend since forever coming to see our Maryland home for the first time.  She's a bit of a world traveler and has been just about everywhere, so I've been dying to show her our life here.  She gracefully agreed to fly out and then help me fly the kids back for our first California summer vacation. 
 It was a nice, lazy week.  A clothing optional, bathing suit mandatory kind of week.   We had lazy dinners on our backyard grass and talked while the kids played.
 Tia Amy hasn't seen us since she volunteered to do Disney World with us almost two years ago. The kids had vague memories of her, and she fit seamlessly into our lives.  She doesn't have unrealistic expectations of vacations with kids in the mix, and she isn't needy. 
 We took her wading in the Chesapeake.  It doesn't compare to our beloved Florida beaches, but you do what you can. 
 We had unspeakable things to eat, like Martin's donuts and Wawa slurpees.  We had Chipotle and nut mix to balance it out. 
One week later, we packed up the kids and prepared for our first cross-country flight with three kids.  We hugged Daddy goodbye and promised to see him in two whole weeks.
 Devon hadn't flown since he was a baby, and the girls' only previous flight was as very young toddlers.  A lifetime ago!!
 We watched excitedly as the plane slowly arrived. Maybe a little too excitedly.  Traffic had favored us and we were early.  The kids had been promised a plane ride, and they demanded one now.  We brought out the tablet and the LeapPads to amuse them.  We started in on the snacks meant to keep them satisfied during a six hour flight.  I watched with dismay as my bag of tricks grew emptier and emptier.  We hadn't even taken off yet.  What were we going to do for six hours???
 As we prepared for takeoff, the kids amused the crew and passengers by chanting a countdown.  We were blessed with no flight fears and no ear pressure issues.  The flight went pretty well, considering.  But still, there are no words for it.  Any of it.  The stab of anxiety I felt every time Devon accidentally kicked the chair of the person in front of him and she turned around to glare at me.  My incredulity as the kids at apple after apple, cookie after cookie, granola bar after granola bar and still begged for more food because they were starving.  My panic when I realized that it had never occurred to me to bring earphones for the kids' games.  I've never been more relieved to see anyone when Tim and Bojana met us at the airport with Louis, their dog. 
 It was a joyful but somewhat frazzled reunion.  The kids passed out on the two hour drive to Modesto.  I relaxed.  We made it.
The next morning we were up with the sun and eager to enjoy a California vacation.  The girls had never been to Grammy's house and Devon couldn't remember it.  
 We marveled at the hot, dry air and brittle lawns of mid-drought California. We enjoyed ripe summer berries, peaches, and apricots.  Grammy asked us what we wanted from the fruit stand. 
The kids asked for ham sandwich with mayonnaise for lunch, a favorite.  We ate on the back porch, surrounded by loved ones and flowers.  Vacation had begun.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy Graduation Devon: May 27, 2015

Daddy turned something or other on May 19th.  As adults we occasionally mistake our own ages, where our kids keep track of theirs in fractions.  All Craig asked for this year was an ice cream cake.  Unfortunately, it baked while all three kids were running wild, and we didn't remember to get it out of the oven in time.  It was the hardest cake I've ever seen. 
Kids aren't picky, though.  Pretty much anything is edible if you put enough hot fudge on it. 
Birthday evening was spent at an Elkton park with Rita's Italian Ice. 
Days later, we celebrated another huge milestone.  Devon's last day of school.  I'm not one for chalkboards or commemorative t-shirts, but I did get a quick snap of the big boy riding between his sissies as I was dropping him off.  His last week was an outdoor sports day, a water day, and a promotion party. 
Ceremony night was a whirlwind.  When we quickly parked and prepared to race in, we realized that I'd somehow grabbed only three of the girls' shoes.  I'll forever remember the run into the building with Me holding Devon and Carrie's hands and Melina in sock feet being carried by her Daddy. 
Speaking of Daddy, this craft almost made me bawl.  He doesn't just want to be A daddy.  He wants to be HIS daddy.  Awwww!!  We took our seats and waited for the graduates to file in. 
What a happy guy!  We are so thankful for a wonderful place for Devon this year.  Devon took the stage and held up his diploma for all to see.  The glare of the lights made it impossible for my hastily focused camera phone to get a good picture, so I tried to freeze the moment in my mind as they introduced "Daring, Determined, Distinguished DEVON!".
We celebrated with the families afterwards.  Devon was allowed TWO cupcakes.  You don't graduate preschool every day. 
And just like that, the year is over.  The alphabet crafts are in a box in Mommy's closet.  The preschool room will stand empty for the summer, and then welcome Carrie and Melina in the fall.  I admit, I'm challenged by the thought of needing to provide Devon with enough stimulation this summer.  I don't think I can do as much as Mrs. Sulzbach and Mrs. Lasensky have done. 
 Devon writes his name, although he still insists he likes to write with both hands equally well.  I think he'll choose left when he is ready.  Right now he just wants to ride bike through the sprinklers all day and forget about school for a while. 
So bring on summer!!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Happy Mother's Day: May 14, 2015

Best Mother's Day Ever!

This peaceful tableau was our morning.  Months ago, when asked to describe a perfect day I said that it would be one where nobody fights and I never have to ask anyone to do something more than once.  Craig sighed and told me that I was going to have to lower my standards.  Mother's Day was pretty close to perfect, though.  For the most part, there was peace.  Hours of play.  Easy meals.  Lots of sitting around.  Bliss!
I also got quite the mom's day haul!  The centerpiece was Devon's preschool effort, safely concealed in his backpack until Sunday morning.  So great was his restraint that it took ten minutes to convince him that today was, indeed, Sunday and therefore it was the RIGHT day for him to take it out and give it to Mommy. 

On the back was an original interview that is too cute to just summarize:

What is your mom's name?


What do you call her?


What does she do for her job?

Oh, just cleaning up the kitchen.  That's all, I guess.

What does Daddy call her?


How old is she?

15, I guess

What is her favorite color?

Pink, because girls just love pink.

What is her favorite food?


What does she like to do for fun?

Just have silly time with us

How tall is she?

2 feet

How much does she weigh?

15 pounds

What color is her hair?


What color are her eyes?

My guess is black

What is her favorite thing to do when she is by herself?

Just buy new things for us

What is your favorite thing to do with your mom?

Just sit with her

What does your Dad love most about your mom?


Why did your Dad marry your mom?

Because they wanted to have children like me

Why did God make mommies?

So they could have children

What kind of girl was your mom when she was little?

I think she was nice and 0 years old

How did God make moms?

He put them together
Devon really outdid himself this Mother's Day.  Daddy coached him on an original note to me, which ended up being a picture of me patting the girls on the head.  He signed his name, another encouraging sign of a growing interest in letters and writing. 
This was the card he made at MOPS.  Also a wonderful effort.  We're going to have this guy ready for kindergarten yet!  Just give him four months to practice his letters, hopefully in the presence of his Uncle Tim and his Auntie Amy, two important people in his life who can show him that it's great to be a lefty (if that's what he wants, and Mommy thinks he does even though he's using right more now too).
His cognitive skills are obviously right where they need to be.  He's a perceptive guy with his finger on the pulse of everything going on with me.  He had Grammy and Grandpa in fits of giggles with his insistence that my union with Daddy was primarily for the production of children "like me".  He's also right about my primary job being cleaning up the kitchen.  I'd like to submit a few more things that also take up the bulk of my time, just to be thorough.

Taking the kids places so I don't have to clean the kitchen.  My latest obsession is signing up for birthday clubs so that our grocery days for this month have lots of free treat coupons.  The girls have been introduced to the Sonic Fruit Slush, Cinnabon, and lots of other yummy things.  And, of course, our favorite Chick-fil-A is always giving survey coupons and discounts.  So we're having fun on our outing days, although Mommy makes sure that we follow up with lots of healthy food.

Figuring out what stinks in the mudroom.  Welcome spring, with temperatures that make all the smells come out of hiding and a few pesky ants linger around anything fragrantly edible.  It's the season where the laundry smells like cheese if you don't do it every other day, when muddy shoes get sweaty and stinky, and the cat closet starts to attract notice.  I spend a lot of time saying "what IS that smell" and then wandering around in there sniffing things so I find the culprit.  Or just shrugging and tossing things in the washer hoping it'll help.  

Finding all the lost things.  The shoes.  The hair bows.  The third bathing suit, and hurry because they're all already naked in the yard and we do live in the country but not in Sweden and NOBODY is going to suit up if the other two don't have to as well.
Carrie and Melina were also coached by Daddy into making a picture for me, and colored signs in MOPS.
I'm pretty sure that every Mother's Day church service I've been to has given out a flower to all the moms, but mine made it home for the first time ever!  Previous years saw me passing them by because I didn't have an extra hand, sticking them face down in my purse because I was running after somebody, or even just getting home and having no idea what happened to my flower because I don't know where it is.  It joined my lilacs on the kitchen island.
My last present was a selfie, but I'm more of a note-and-small-token kind of a girl.  I'm perfectly happy getting things for myself according to my own likes, and I needed one of these Shutterfly mugs for "the special Mommy coffee".  I wish I could send one to all the moms, or even just give them a day as nice as mine.