Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fall Break

We are now four days into fall break and its just like being on full tilt summer vacation from school. Here is a look at how Big Girl is living it up.

Day One: Come down from birthday party high from the previous night, lay around on the couch and watch TV, go to the library and pick out new books, then watch TV instead of reading them. Followed by make birthday cake for Daddy, wrap presents, take a super long shower, watch more TV (Dancing with the Stars) until at least 45 minutes after the normal bed time.

Day Two: Sleep in a bit then wake up in time for a breakfast birthday celebration including sprinkles and presents. Watch TV, get dressed late, run some errands, read for a bit, log on to the computer and play games, read for a bit. Go to swim team practice, get dressed up for evening party, celebration dinner, cake, skip walk to watch TV, go to bed late.

Day Three: Sleep in more than previous two days, get up in just enough time to eat a Poptart and get dressed before a friend comes over. Hang out with friend, play dress up, play games, eat macaroni and cheese for lunch, chill and talk about great books, friend goes home so she's bored. Watch a movie. Take a nap, eat dinner, read favorite books, crafty time, read, go to bed over an hour late.

Hummm. Pretty much sounds like a college schedule with a few substitutions.
- Change out one watch TV per day for go to class.
- Change come down from birthday party high with fight hangover following uber fantastic party.
- Change play dress up to dress up in various outfits to decide what is cutest.
- Change play computer games to write paper on the computer.

Yep. That would about do it. Maybe add in time to get coffee each day.....

More fall break adventures are coming next week. Museum, playdates, time with fun Aunt Angie. Can't wait!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On Birthdays

Once you reach a certain age birthdays just aren't as exciting anymore. 23? 24? What does it matter very much? People buy you drinks and sometimes dinner and that is about it for a good day.

That is, until you have kids. Once you have kids that understand birthdays it is all over. All over. They plan parties, presents, cakes, you name it, we've even had party games for grown up birthdays.

This year - today!!! - is no exception. Five or six years ago, my husband would have celebrated his big day with a drink or two, maybe dinner with his parents the weekend before or after. This year - at Big Girl's planning - there was/is:

- a birthday breakfast (Trader Joe's french toast with sprinkles.)
- presents first thing in the morning (Included two six-packs of beer bottles individually wrapped. Well... still a few drinks.)
- a birthday dinner
- a birthday cake

Husband - Stop. Don't scroll down any further. The surprise will be ruined.

Everyone else - This is what happened in the crazy 20-30 minutes between when he left for work this morning and when I had to leave. I'm not totally super woman. I frosted the cake white last night and did Happy Birthday this morning. Big Girl did the rest. Check out her "Daddy" written in frosting!


There may be more, but I can't blog about it yet because then it wouldn't be a surprise.

Gotta love celebrating birthdays with kids!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Grow Up of Stay Little?

There are days when I wish Little Man would be more grown up. Then I read what Amanda has to say about her dudes growing up and think. Well, maybe I'm not so ready for him to grow up.

On the flip side of that, the last few days I've been hoping he would stop crawling and causing so much trouble wouldn't grow up so fast. Here are three examples.

1. Trying to use the metal spatula from Big Girl's play kitchen to remove outlet covers.


Yea. Your eyes do not deceive you. Metal spatula, attempting to remove plastic outlet covers. Couldn't make this junk up. I knew there would be non-believers, so I snapped a photo. I mean, I probably should have just taken it out of his hand and remedied the situation. Major for real danger, but I didn't. For once I had the phone handy, so instead....

2. Climbing up the stairs.

Oh yes. Hello split level. Stairs from garage to play room, from playroom to kitchen and formal living room, stairs from kitchen level to bedrooms, more from bedrooms to man cave/pool table room. (yes, sometimes it feels like a maze.) The biggest set of stairs if from the kitchen to the bedrooms. I think 11. He made it up the three from playroom to kitchen then stopped with his belly on the middle of the walk-through section of the baby gate in the kitchen - must have hurt.

I know what you are saying here. Keep the gate closed. We do when he is in the kitchen.

Little Man is about to sneak around the corner and "boo" me, but I didn't get the timing right. Sadness.

But for real - what good would that do when he is going up since he can make it safely. We do keep it closed when he is in the kitchen so he doesn't tumble all the way down.... Yes - a more watchful eye on the lighting speed scoot/crawl may also be helpful.

3. Moving the stool between rooms.

Instead of yet another baby gate, we have an ottoman blocking the doorway between the playroom and sun room. Sun room = potted plants = dirt and leaves that fall off = baby danger.

This weekend he pushed the ottoman to the side just enough to squeeze halfway through (hips with diaper and crawling motion got stuck). Instead of being all glum and Winnie the Pooh stuck in Rabbits hole about it he looked at us and laughed. And tried to eat a leaf. I totally busted out laughing too.

Needless to say we have a new solution. Nope. Not another baby gate. A heavy box of books next to the ottoman. Doorway totally blocked. Big kids and still crawl over. Not a perfect fix, but it will work until someone gown up enough to not eat leaves.

So, back to the growing up thing. Maybe I am ready for a little more. Maybe understanding "don't eat leaves," and "please wait your turn without dinosaur growling." Maybe.

Friday, September 23, 2011

We're the Best

I'm not one to boast, but - Raleigh is the best. We really enjoy this city and all it has to offer for us and the kids. And this week I found out we aren't the only ones.

Business Week named Raleigh America's Best City.

Photo from Business Week
Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Ask most people which city they would most want to live in and usually their answers would be shaped by such realities as proximity to their jobs and what they can afford. But suppose you could choose to live anywhere you wanted regardless of cost? What if you could live in a city that offered a wealth of culture, entertainment, good schools, low crime, and plenty of green space?"

Then it goes on to say...

"To most residents of Raleigh, it may not come as a surprise that their city earned the title of America’s Best City. Raleigh shows the cultural graces that go along with anchoring the so-called Research Triangle, home to North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among its many attributes the city sports 867 restaurants, 110 bars, and 51 museums, according to Onboard Informatics, as well as a thriving social scene, good schools, and 12,512 park acres, equal to several times the green space per capita in cities like New York and Los Angeles, according to the Trust for Public Land. It also offers a great deal on nights and weekends—from concerts and opera, to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes and college sports, to the 30,000-square-foot State Farmers Market."

If you want to skip to the end of the article, here is a link to the summary about why Raleigh is fabulous!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things the Baby Says

Its hard to believe that Little Man's jabbering is sounding like real words already. We had been hearing Mama for many months and earlier this summer he started saying Dada as well. Now, at nine months we are hearing some real phrases.

This morning, "by-by dada," with the arm wiggling all around.

A few nights ago "mama baba. mamababa." When he was due for a bottle.

Earlier this week when I put him in the stroller, then left him sitting still in the garage for a minute, "ga-go." Since my child is obviously brilliant I'm going to say that this meant he was ready to go.

Big Girl in her helpfulness hears him saying things also. Amidst some post dinner whimpering to get down she proclaimed, "he said I'm all done, may I be excused?"

Hmmmm. She has also told us that he is asking for ice cream and juice boxes, so take that for what you may.

He's also getting faster and better at his scoot/crawl. Any time he is on the floor in his room and the light so much as comes on in the hall bathroom and he is in there banging on the side of the tub. Last night, with a lot of patience and only a tiny bit of help he went up three stairs in our split level home. By the time he reached the top he had worked so hard it was all he could do to say, "ba-ba," before getting snuggled up for a pre-bed bottle.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carrots

Fresh from the garden.


And into the pot for a little sauna action with the green beans (also fresh picked) and on the way to our bellies.



I know. I know. Another post with few words. I've been busy. Can't imagine why....

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Meal We Eat The Most

Far and away the meal we eat most often at our house is spagetti. Noodles, sauce, ground turkey or meatballs, maybe a can of diced tomatoes. You know the drill. But, what about being healthy? I'm beginning to think that all the pasta and protein with less veggies and no fruit may not be the smartest thing to eat on a weekly basis.

That said, how do you change it? I've been much more concious about keeping the diced tomatoes on hand and salad to go with the pasta.

Is there another meal that is equally fast any a little more healthy? Hummmm.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Civics Lessons for First Grade

Riding in the car one morning Big Girl said, "One kid in my class doesn't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Its his family rule. What is our family rule?"

Me, "Our family rule is that we say the Pledge of Allegiance. Do you know why?"

Big Girl, "Because its long and we need to learn it."

Me, "Well yes, put its about respect and in our family respect is important."

Save you the line for line. I, while driving to swim practice, offered a very heart felt civics lesson. In the discussion, I really felt like my daughter got it.

Here's a break down:

- Respect means that you think what other people are doing or their ideas are important and you are nice to them even if you don't always agree. Although we do agree with the Pledge of Allegiance.
- In America, we are fortunate to get to do lots of cool things like vote and go to church where we want.



Look! Kids all being cute saying the pledge. None of these back in the day kids is sitting down and not participating. They all have respect. They are not all in our family. We aren't alone!

So you wanna hear more of our fun Saturday civics lesson? Of course you do, because you know its freakin' cute. Here goes:

Big Girl: We have respect for soldiers because they have really tough work and they could get hurt by doing their job.
Me: We get to choose who is in charge in our Country and we all have respect for leaders, our earth, etc. (Rewind to a don't throw trash on the ground lesson a few weeks ago.)

Big Girl: The president. We have a president, not a king.
Me: Yes. That means that we have a democracy. All the adults get to choose who is in charge and then that person is only in charge for a certain amount of time, then they get to ask if we want them to still be in charge or if we think another person should have a turn.

Big Girl: Well if you don't have a democracy, why is that bad?
Me: In some countries where there are other types of government you don't get to choose things for yourself as much.
Big Girl: Like in China where you can only have one baby.
Me: Well.... (not wanting to go into how public policy is changing in China) yes. Also, in some places Moms and Dads or the government chooses what job you have when you grow up and they decide what clothes you wear and even how much and what kind of food you get.
Big Girl: But I make good choices Mommy. You said so, I picked a peach and yogurt for breakfast.

Big Girl: Do they have a democracy or a queen in Luxembourg?
Me: I don't know. When I am not driving I can use my phone to find out for you.
Later
Me: Luxembourg kind of has both. They have a monarchy, which means a Queen or King, plus they have Parliament. Its just like England where Princess Kate lives. The King or Queen is in charge, but the people vote for the leaders that make most of the decisions and they have a lot of freedom like in a democracy.
Big Girl: We should have real princesses here. I can be one. So can cuz since you have to be in the same family to both be princesses of the same place.

Me: What kid doesn't say the Pledge of Allegiance?
Big Girl: A boy with yellow hair. His family doesn't believe in the words. That is what he said.
Me: Does he speak English all the time?
Big Girl: Yep. Just like me. But he gets to sit and read while we say the pledge.

:: OMG I think the kid isn't saying the pledge because of "Under God" WT! I thought it was going to be because they were from another country. Wish that was the reason.
:: I'm glad they say the pledge every day and that they have the minute of quiet before lunch. Wouldn't get that with our local public school system.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Savings

When it comes to finances we try to be savers. We try to be frugal. ($80.74 in coupons and discounts on groceries this week and $16.74 at Target! - yessss) We try to teach our kids to be smart with their money.

So, then comes the day when Big Girl's stash adds up to $38. Yes. My girl's wallet was fat. She had also had her eye on a Little Mermaid toy at Target for about six weeks.
So, you guessed it. After a nice little math lesson (kinda for stalling until Little Man's nap time, kinda for the adding lesson) we loaded up and left the boys to football and naps.

$23 dollars, and a lesson she doesn't remember at all about sales tax, later the toy is at home. And, as soon as its out of the box, ya know what I hear, "Mommy, its really better to spend your money and do fun stuff than it is to save it. If I need money when I get big I'll just wait for the tooth fairy to come again."

Really? Really?

I had to just let it go. She is just 6. She does empty her piggy bank at the credit union and this was birthday, tooth, etc. money that she had collected in cash. But - really?? Is nothing sinking in?

So, I say, "We'll talk about it more when you get bigger."

"Hey Mommy. Thanks for taking me to the store."

"Sure."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Almost Fall Break

It is almost fall break y'all. While other moms are celebrating putting their over vacationed and over sugared kids lil angels on the bus or pulling up to the carpool line for the first time, I am already thinking about fall break.

Seriously.

There are times when the modified year-round schedule if fa-freakin-bulous and there are other times when its not so much. Thinking about camps and activities for the days off is like saying, "no more eating out for lunch hard workin' mom," because well, they are expensive.

We already pay for childcare, so a camp or activity is an extra expense. Read not in the budget post-kitchen/playroom renovation, computer purchase..... you get the idea.

Okay. So now to the reasons the schedule is fantastic. Easy to take time off from work when other people aren't on vaca. For real. I'm the only one thinkin' that the last week of September or early October is the perfect time to spend with my kids instead of at the office.

Another plus - the super cool kids places that are hot and crowded in the summer are pretty much empty mid-day. I mean, Marbles, one of our favorite downtown Raleigh kids spots ever even has coupons. Does it get any better?... It does the Life and Science Museum (a.k.a. the outdoor museum) in Durham also has coupons. Buy one get one free and you don't pay for baby.

The good sides way out weight the bad. So, I'm in love. While the rest of you plan ordinary after school adventures, I'll be thinkin' up fun daytime adventures. Yeah!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Song of the South

Driving on the country roads down to the beach last weekend (super super fun!). I couldn't get this out of my head.

Song, song of the south
Sweet potato pie and I shut my mouth
Gone, gone with the wind
There ain't nobody looking back again

Cotton on the roadside, cotton in the ditch
We all picked the cotton but we never got rich


Don't recognize it? Would you rather me not sing it to you?



Some good 'ol Alabama.

Wait! This one too.


So... Why all the Southern Rock? (or would you call it Country? hmmmm.)

This is what I was seeing.


Not from the South? Don't recognize it?


All the time. The girls I was with had no idea. (But, hey they didn't know either of the songs either.) So we stopped to take a peak.

I have to say I felt like the tour guide telling them the stuff I learned in Southern history classes. Finally a use for that N.C. State University history degree.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cantalopes

The garden controversy of the season is over... I hope. After an attack by a pesky squirrel and some cantaloupe sex lessons, we are finally growing melons.

That's right - melons - with an s. As in many. Specifically about five.

Check them out.

We are so excited. We have even created some melon cages to keep the squirrels out.



If you're having a similar garden problem, the cage is really pretty basic. A roll of chicken wire from Lowes, mold into a half circle and some stakes to hold it down.

You wanna see the rest of the garden you say? You heard we have rockin' tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers and carrots too? Here are some pics.




Come and visit if you want. As long as you're not a squirrel.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

On Reading

Earlier this summer (its not labor day yet, so still summer!) I asked for suggestions on reading materials. Among some specific titles and even two book loans from family members I got a few topical suggestions:

"Read what your kids want to read before they read it. If you can keep up and if there is any controversy over the book it will be well worth your time."

"Don't bother with reading just for you. Go straight to the books on CD and get something that you would have read for fun ten years ago, or something that you want to learn about."

I took both of these. First, I checked out The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder from the library. The reviews said that it was a nice way to understand Laura's life with Almanzo and how they lived as a married couple, but because its not a final manuscript, it is also abrupt. For instance, when their son dies, there is only about half a page explaining what happened. There are also key details that are left out giving it a much different feel than the previous books.


We Big Girl and I (not so much husband) love Laura and Mary and hearing and reading about their adventures on the prairie. We especially love the stories of going to school and when Laura and Mary helped Pa with work. Loved The Long Winter less.....

After reading it, I've decided that it probably isn't a good fit for Big Girl. At least not right now. Maybe when she's a little older and can understand the context more.

So, on to The Magic Treehouse series for her....

I also checked out a really great book on CD. I looked carefully so I didn't get the abridged version of anything and selected To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian by Stephen Ambrose. A book that I would have read through in a hurry in my single post-college days. Today, no chance I would even pick up a book that thick unless it was to either look up a quick reference to a kid question or to answer a work question. Never would I go check out a multi-inch thick book from the library.

It was fantastic. A renowned historian gives his personal take on history. Its the version of America that I love. Hearing the history told verbally from people who participated in it, or researched it so closely they feel like they participated. It was history courses and instructors like Ambrose that made me pick history as a major in college.

So, thanks to the readers for sharing their fantastic ideas. The books on loan are on my night table, and since I'm headed to the beach for a few hours this weekend one of them will be in my bag.