Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Truths of Summer

1. 5:45 am is the new 6:45 am

2. Ice cream cones melt really, really fast when it's 90+ degrees outside

3. It's possible to lick three different ice cream cones at once if you really need to

4. Picnics are totally overrated

5. If you are super prepared and bring your sand toys with you to a new playground, there won't be any sand. If you forget your sand toys...well, you can figure that one out

6. My kids are prepared to submerge themselves in water a good 20 degrees colder than I am comfortable with

7. Relaxing the daily bath rules for the summer sounds appealing until you consider sunscreen, bug spray, melty ice cream cones and shoes with holes that result in appallingly dirty feet

8. There is something incredibly sweet about scrawny little arms with farmers' tans

9. While you could argue that summer clothes are half as big as the winter ones, somehow twice as many end up getting worn so the laundry situation is net even

10. I need to teach my kids about Nature Peeing

11. Sunscreen sprays and sticks are competing for my vote for best invention

12. If you apply said sunscreen sprays to your children on the kitchen floor, the overspray will create a deadly slick of SPF that may flatten you later in the day

13. Summer days go by at least twice as quickly as winter ones. I'm off to enjoy them...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Until this recent visit, the last time my mother-in-law and brother-in-law had been here to visit us was three years ago. I'm going to be honest and say, it was a difficult visit. It was timed such that several days after they arrived in California, I went back to work from maternity leave. It was the end of August and disgustingly hot, with raging wildfires making the outdoors even more unbearable. We lived in a smallish house, made even smaller with two extra people. Brighton was still extremely fussy, and I've written about how my own mental state was at that time.

When you have family that live really far away (like England), the visits take on such a measure of importance that it's hard not to feel pressure to make it perfect. I felt very discouraged after that last visit three years ago, and I've always felt sad that my kids just won't have the same experience growing up with their extended family that I did.

I was feeling a little nervous about my in-laws descending, therefore. I knew in some ways it would automatically be easier: we have a much bigger house, I'm not working and therefore had the time to plan and execute fun activities, and of course the kids are three years older. I could never have predicted how MUCH better it would be though. From the get-go, Pacey and Brighton seemed comfortable with their grandma (Oma) and uncle, in a way that you really only are with family. I doubt that Pacey remembered them from the last visit, and Brighton certainly didn't, but it didn't seem to matter.

The kids' uncle is 6'5" and truly a gentle giant. They adore him.

A rare sighting of me with the family at
the county fair

Ever since both kids were babies they've fallen asleep
on Rob. I have almost identical pictures of them sleeping
on his chest as infants. Here, we were literally two minutes
from the dock and she crawled into his lap and conked
out cold. 

Snuggle time with Oma. 

The kids' grandma was a seriously good sport about
the impromptu sand castle building session

The kids were thrilled to celebrate Oma's birthday while she was here
We had such a nice time. We packed a lot of activities into two weeks, and the kids just loved having the extra bodies (and attention) around. Since they left, the kids ask every day where their Oma and Uncle Rob are and have asked multiple times to look at the pictures we took. I feel much more confident now that, firstly, there won't be such a big gap between this and the next visit, and also that the kids will remember their family and get something out of phone calls, skype etc. I still wish that we lived closer to ALL of our relatives, but I'm grateful that the kids are old enough now to cultivate relationships regardless.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Anyone Have a Good Raspberry Recipe?

Well, I didn't mean to take such a long break from this space, but here we are almost at the end of June already. It's been an eventful month around here. Lots of activity on the house front (though no sale yet)  and we spent two weeks with Chris' mom and brother, showing them all the summer fun there is to be had in Minnesota (it really is awesome here in the summer). The kids have one more week of summer school this week and then we have a couple of weeks to free-wheel before we head to California for our summer vacation. "Vacation"...see how optimistic I'm being??

The weather this month has been gorgeous and we've spent most weekends out on the lakes at least one morning, fishing and generally hanging out. The kids have each caught one fish and each dropped one fishing pole in the lake (not to be retrieved) which I guess balances out. I'm particularly aware of how lucky I am that my time is my own (well, within the constraints of the kids of course) during the summer and how happy I am to be able to do so many fun things as a family.

This morning I took the kids to a farm about 15 miles from here and we picked raspberries. It was a truly beautiful morning and they did pretty well with the picking. We have two pints of local, organic raspberries that of course they are both refusing to eat so I guess I'll get my fill (confession: I don't really like raspberries all that much). I liked getting to show the kids roughly where fruit actually comes from and these sort of outings are getting easier and more enjoyable all the time.

I spent an hour several weeks ago going through a website I found listing out all the kid-friendly activities in our general area. I composed a list that's roughly 25 items long of things I'd like to do over the next couple of months...that oughta keep us busy. Last summer I overdid it a little and ended up really sick by the end of August, so I am determined to build in our down time too.

I have a book post due...I have been reading a lot and if I don't write about the books soon I'll have no memory of ever having read them! My To-Read list is dwindling, so feel free to suggest anything good you've read lately.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Back on the Farm

So, do you all remember this?

Well today was The Farm Part 2. It's been almost a year since our last trip and a member of the MOMS Club actually set us up with a guided tour through the farm. I am pleased to say it was 100% more successful than last year's attempt. There was still this:

Familiar Protest Pose
But other than that the day went off without a hitch. The kids got to pet and feed the chickens and check under the hens for eggs, milk a cow, pet month-old lambs, pick and eat strawberries and asparagus (haha, like they'd eat that) directly from the garden and see a five-day-old calf. Our guide, Farmer Tim was fantastic and really patient with the kids and everyone behaved really well, especially considering it was a group of 11 kids ages five and under. What a great way to officially kick off summer vacation*!

Moments before he tried to, uh, kiss the rooster 
She's totally the kid in the crowd that volunteers answers

This poor mama is due any day with 8-12 piglets. She kept shifting around
and was clearly uncomfortable. 

Farmer Tim and Mimi the milk cow

The first kid to be brave enough to try milking

Pacey happily gave it a go too

He's clearly very comfortable with farm animals!

Delilah the 100-pound guard dog

We were all waiting to see which kid was going to stick their head in the
water trough

Ruined for grocery store strawberries

Pacey was not a fan of the racket the cows put up

Baby cow, looking for his mama

She was very concerned about Baby being separated
(temporarily) from his mama

*Granted, it's not technically vacation for the kids as they have summer school but having three mornings a week to myself is the closest thing I am going to get to a vacation for a long time yet!

As Much As I Have Time For

There's been so much going on lately and I have had far less time sitting at the computer writing than I'd like...far less time to even gather my thoughts to write anything coherent in the first place!

The kids are both now officially done with school for the year. Pacey had a wonderful year and made so much progress with an excellent team. It was his second and last year at his preschool and so a little harder to say goodbye to some people we got to know well since moving here. Brighton had a phenomenal year and it sounds like a lot of the kids in her class will return with her in the fall for the 3s class. Today was her last day and it was amazing to see the difference in her since the first day last fall. She was a bit timid then, tentatively moving into the classroom to explore and meet some new friends. Today she came barreling toward me barefoot from the playground, talking about the shoe store she and her friends were having and how her new shoes fit just right. Oh, and then regaled me with a story about how she went "big poops" at school and Teacher Kelli said, "WOW, good job!" Such growth in both of them in just 9 months.

They will both start four weeks of summer preschool next week, giving me several mornings a week to organize us and hopefully allow for more adventures when they are not in school. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law arrive from England on Monday for two weeks and I am busily making lists of places to take them and things to see. There is so much to do here in the summer time it is almost overwhelming.

Our house has been on the market (another story for another time) and boy do I have a lot to say about the experience. We've had a remarkable number of showings and received an offer last week but the buyers withdrew from negotiations. I am not great with situations I am not in control of and this has been trying to say the least. Our plan is to be hopefully finished with the showing process within a month so at least there is sort of an end in sight. More on that whole thing later.

We have been taking boats out as much as the weather will allow - it's still pretty changeable this time of year and I have no interest in being caught out in a thunderstorm in the middle of a lake! I am pleasantly surprised by how well the kids have taken to it and by how easy the whole process has been in general.

So much more to catch up on, but my brain is too fried and I have a door-slamming game to go and interrupt upstairs. I'd really prefer not to be getting anyone's fingers x-rayed tonight.

We explored a local nursery that had the most amazing
fairy garden display. Brighton and I were both smitten.

The only way they ever nap together anymore, making
this absurdly expensive stroller worth every penny.

"Mom, look at my moves!"

Gotta give credit to this $10 doll's gotten
some hard wear

Doing her "ballet" in the kitchen. I'm looking at
dance classes for fall.

Pacey and the son of a friend from high school who was visiting the area.
The kids had so much fun together and it always tickles me to see my kids
with my friends' kids.

Cookies on the deck after a Memorial Day bbq. D was excited to sit at the
table with the bigger kids

Despite the messy cookie faces, this is my new favorite picture of the two
of them. I always wanted a big brother and I'm so happy B has hers.