Monday, August 31, 2009

The Start Of School Days

Today begins a new phase in life for us, the start of school days. Aidan's first day of kindergarten. Mommy and Daddy were stunned, their baby boy began his right of passage into boyhood, and we were initiated into the world of PTA meetings, Dad's club, classroom volunteers and field trips, today Aidan was off to school. He lined up on is designated #6, waiting to walk into his class. We went along with him, he sat at his desk, the teacher introduced herself then asked parents to leave. Aidan (and mommy and daddy) was doing fine up until this point. As we began to leave, I saw his face contort into a frown, I kept walking followed by Daddy. Daddy was stopped by tugging at his shirt suddenly our little boy was clinging to us stating, "I don't like the first day of school." followed by sobs. We quickly got his teachers attention, she came over and took his hand as we scurried out the door. As soon as I was out of his sight I felt the tears begin to well and quickly worked at regaining my composure. We went to the library for coffee and pastries and commiserated with other parents who were feeling as we were, dazed.

Max and I spent the rest of the day, talking about Aidan, wondering how he was doing, and what he was doing at that time. We even considered driving by at recess to take a peek at him on the playground. We decided against this, thinking it would be disastrous if he spotted us then insisted to come home. So we waited. When it came time for pick up, we rushed on over to school. We were 6 minutes early and those 6 minutes of waiting seemed like 6 hours..the anticipation of his pick up was dizzying. Finally the time came, I went to his classroom door as each child was being ushered out one by one as each parent arrived. It was my turn, Aidan came out, teacher reported he did just fine, at this point I realized I had been holding my breath waiting for the worst, phew I exhaled in relief. My little boy survived his first day of kindergarten and mommy and daddy did too! It sure was a big milestone for all of us.

We celebrated with hot chocolate and a double chocolate brownie treat from Starbucks and we were all so pleased.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Lunchbox Perfection

In my quest to make kindergarten perfect for Aidan, I searched high and low for just the right lunchbox for him. I wanted something that he would love, something that reflected a little something about him, something that wasn't too babyish and that was not a branded character. I know you're saying to yourself right now, "Geez it's just a lunchbox." But, I figured this would be something he would be carrying everyday, and if it was something he really loved it would just add that much more excitement to going to school. Maybe I'm just being crazy and putting way too much thought into all of this but I had to follow my obsession. So, during this search, I bought 4 different lunchboxes. I know many of you are thinking, CRAZY! I would bring them home, look at them, spend some time thinking about them and maybe they spent a few days in my closet (where I hide all the kids treats) then eventually rule them out as "not being right at all". After weeks of deliberating, I finally narrowed it down to one of the Crocodile Creek lunchboxes, as I just love their products. Now it just boiled down to which one of the many delightful choices they had, was the one for Aidan..was it dinosaurs? Nah, he's starting to get over that phase. Was it the alphabet one? No too babyish for him, not a challenge at all. Zoo animals, nah not really his interest right now. Then I spotted the solar system one, tah dah! he's still learning about his planets so this will still keep him intrigued. The names of the planets are written on the sides, he's sure to love that, something to read as he's taken to reading everything in front of him...street signs, packaging, even the directions/ rules to the use of the jumpy house during his birthday party. So after days of studying the different Crocodile Lunchboxes available on line and several trips to shops that sold them to actually touch and feel them. I'm really a tactile driven shopper, I need to touch and feel what it is I'm going to purchase so that rules out a lot of online shopping, good for me! I finally purchased the solar system lunchbox and presented it to him this morning. I'm so glad I put so much thought into getting the right box for him because he was just thrilled and I was right about the writing on the sides, he quickly began to read them to me. He carried his new lunchbox with him the rest of the day. When daddy came home from work (or should it be dad now, he is 5) it was one of the first things he showed him. He's absolutely delighted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mama's Kindergarten Jitters

I know I'm not alone with this one. There must be lots of Mommies out there with the kindergarten jitters. At least thinking there's lots out there makes me feel better about it. I can't help but worry about my baby (yes I know he's 5) going off to kindergarten in a great big school with hundreds of kids and 22 in his class for him to get lost amongst. I can't help but worry about whether I've prepared him for this moment. Have I done my mommy job? Will he be able to manage his zipper on his lunch pack? Will he be able to peel his own banana? Will he remember to wash his hands after using the potty? Will he make new friends right away? Will he shine like a star and be a good student (of course he will, hee! hee!)? All these thoughts just have been racing through my head, keeping me up at night, just wondering. In 5 days, my baby boy will be heading off to his first day of school. Yes I'm excited for him but I'm also anxious about all the "what ifs?", the millions of possibilities of "what ifs?"

I've talked to him about kindergarten and his new school. I've driven him by and pointed out his soon to be new kindergarten playground. He seems so nonchalant about it all. I ask him how he feels about it, he shrugs his shoulders and says excited. And I say "really, really?" And he says "sure". I'm not sure what I'm expecting but I would think a show of a little more emotion, whether it be him bouncing with excitement or trembling with nervousness, but please me something!

Oh well, in the meantime I'll continue to check and re-check my lists. Did I get everything he might need? Do I have enough lunch foods for him? Blah, blah, blah

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Frozen Blackberry Yogurt Tye Dye Pops

The boys and I had fun picking these yummy blackberries from our neighbors yard. Miles of course was eating them along the way. He's such a berry lover. I would have to say it's one of his favorite foods. Anyways, now here I was with a bowl of blackberries...what to do with them?

I made yummy frozen yogurt pops. I pureed the blackberries with some plain lowfat yogurt and a bit of sugar. After pushing this puree through a sieve, I layered the blackberry yogurt mix with plain lowfat yogurt that I also sweetened with a bit of sugar, in popsicle molds. And into the freezer they went. It was really that simple! I think in the future I may even use vanilla yogurt to layer with the berries, and this could be done with all sorts of different berries.

So after a dinner with friends, the kids enjoyed their yummy dessert treat.

Boy Genius 1 and 2

So as I said earlier, today I watched Rachel's kids for a bit. During this time I pulled out Legos for Aidan and Parker to play with. I imagined, towers and forts being built with them, Ha! Of course not. Boy genius 1 and 2 decided they would build numbers with them. So they started going through the single digits figuring out which ones they can make..they were most thrilled with the number 5 and then realized together they were "Fifty-five" Oh the excitement of the double digit was almost too much to handle. I'm surprised Parker didn't start teaching Aidan the square roots of 55 while Aidan taught him how to spell it and explain that it's a compound word. Hmmm would you call this typical boy play?

6 Kids To Watch

Today I watched Rachel's kids while she went to her chiropractor appointment. Her kids are the same age as mine, so that means I watched two 5 yr olds (Parker will be five soon) and 4 soon to be 3 yr olds. Yes six kids total 5 and under. I know it sounds a bit daunting and I have to admit I was a bit nervous. Mostly about what happens if they decide they're bored, at least that's when my own really start to act out, bored or overly tired. So I got myself prepared with a couple of art projects, some large plastic beads for necklaces and some paper crowns for decorating. Surprisingly, all went well, I only had to pull out the beads, they played with that for awhile, then the boys played Legos (more about that later) while the girls entertained themselves hanging out in Miles bed with a doctor kit taking each others temp, blood pressure and listening to heart beats (very cute). Eventually they all went outside to play while I started dinner. Everything was pleasant up until dinner time (Rachel was back at that point), taco nite, then the tantrums started, mostly my own kids or lets say kid. All in all not too bad.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Train Party Has Left The Station

Aidan had his 5th birthday party, it was a train party, sorta. I'd been fretting over this birthday party and what train activities to have. I went on the search for stuff, with no luck, dinosaurs sure, cars sure, trains sorry. I was really trying to stay away from having a full fledged Thomas the Train party. Although we had a Thomas cake I had to draw the line there. I was having a creative block on this whole train thing and really couldn't come up with anything. I ended up creating a mural at midnight (yes, midnight and at 1 am I was making a t-shirt with the number "5" on it, call me crazy) using a roll of butcher paper and a roll of duck tape. The duck tape was used for train tracks and I made a train with Aidan's photo in the window. The kids got to decorate this mural with construction paper and markers. The only other activity at the party was the jumpy house. I ordered some train conductor hats as party favors which bombed. I envisioned seeing all the kids running around with their hats on, but in fact nobody wanted to wear them expect for maybe Miles for a short while.

I wanted to make it pleasing for adults too. Since it was a late morning party, we served Peets coffee and mimosas for adult drinks. Bagels, cream cheese, lox, baked ham (one of Aidan's favorites), an artichoke heart fritatta, and a variety of cheeses and fruits. The biggest hit there was the tray of egg rolls my brother-in-law and sister-in-law showed up with. Thanks!

Anyways, despite all this, as my friend Rachel stated, "the minimalist party was a hit" The kids were entertained long enough, right up to cake time. Aidan had a great time!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Day Best Forgotten

Today was one of those days you wish really never happened, maybe it was just a bad dream. Don't I wish...
It started just as I predicted with every muscle in my body aching from yesterday's long overdue workout. Adding salt to the wound was my exhaustion as a result of Liam getting up 3 times last night. I really much would have rather stayed under the covers but of course duty calls, a mommy's work never ends. So I did the usual routine of getting everyone fed and dressed for the day. Took Aidan to preschool. Our morning play date had been canceled so the twins and I didn't have much going on. We spent the morning reading and playing. After lunch I put them down for a nap, so I thought, and decided to go back to the garage/my hopefully soon to be studio to organize some stuff. Well what I didn't know was that while I was out there sorting, the boys were inside emptying out their armoire of clothes and taking all their books off the shelf and made a giant pile in the center of the room. Trying to be optimistic about this, the good that came from it was it lead me to sorting out some books that they were done with and clothing they'd outgrown. Although, I'd been planning on doing this, really not under these circumstances.

So I'm sure many of you are thinking, "OK so the kids made a mess and it actually led to a productive activity of purging, that's not so bad."

Hold on, the day gets worse. The twins and I pick up Aidan to take him to swim class. On our way to class while getting ready to go through a tunnel we get squished by a big rig. we were both merging to go into the tunnel me being on the inside lane, I was right at his cab about half a length of our van ahead of him when I realize he doesn't see me and he's merging over into us. I pull over as far to the left as possible and come to a dead stop since the tunnel was narrowing and there was no way I was going to try to gun it ahead of him in my minivan. Sure the Odyssey handles well but come on, there's a limit. So I stop, hoping he'll continue to merge in front of us. Just as I thought we were in the clear, his back end smashes right into us, smashing the passenger side. The twins slept right through it. Amazing, Liam who wakes up when we pop our head into his room to see if he's asleep, sleeps right through a car accident. Miles I'm not surprised, as a matter of fact, it confirms my belief that he'll probably sleep through any natural disaster. Aidan and I were shaken up, and I thought we were both upset about the accident, it actually turns out Aidan is upset because he's realizing he's going to miss swim class. Ridiculous, huh? Not only am I dealing with the logistics of an accident, I'm now dealing with a soon to be 5 yr old in a full fledged tantrum over his missed swim class. If this were all really just a dream, it would be a nightmare or dare I say night terror. Today was a day best forgotten,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Attempt

A while back in an attempt to be fit, I had begun to exercise. I had started hiking and was doing well, strength and endurance were building. I soon fell off the fitness wagon, it started with illness, then house guests, followed by camping. So, today, once again, I got on that wagon. I realize that if I want to lead a vital healthy lifestyle, I would need to include exercise. Today I went running for the first time in what feels like decades. It was difficult, it was invigorating, and it was enlightening. I'm sure tomorrow every inch of my body will have bloated with lactic acid build up and I'll be aching with every little movement. For now, I look forward to my next run.

A Review of Birthdays

Aidan's 5th birthday is coming up and he's going to be celebrating it with a train party. Still not sure what activities we'll be having other than the jumpy house. I decided I wasn't going to make his cake this year, I just couldn't pull it off. So after a thorough search, the only train cake I could find was Thomas Train. I had been trying to stay away from a Thomas party and just have it be a classic train party but I caved in on the Thomas Train cake. Oh well, although I may not be, Aidan will be thrilled. In my quest to find activities for the party, I started to review his past birthdays..

Aidan's 1st birthday party , he had a drum cake because he was always drumming on everything and I made a sign to compare his newborn to 1 yr old photo.

2 yrs old - party at the Little Farm, kids got to feed the animals, followed by an Elmo pinata, bubble play, and cupcakes. After the Elmo pinata, I never bought another character pinata again. There was something not right about watching the kids beat the pulp out of Elmo. I remember thinking "what message are we sending here?"

3 yrs old - we had a party at one of his favorite parks. It was a morning brunch party, bagels and OJ, coffee for the adults. The twins weren't quite a year old. As you can probably imagine, I surly did not have it in me to plan a big theme party (which I think starts around this age). I was barely keeping afloat caring for infant twin boys and a toddler. So the party was a free for all play at the park, followed by a cupcake tower of confetti cupcakes

4 yrs old - a travel back in time to the age of dinosaurs. We made a dinosaur sign to let everyone know where the party was. Aidan wore a dinosaur t-shirt. There were lots of activities, including having your photo taken as a dinosaur, making Dino masks and necklaces with dinosaur beads and a good ol' game of pin the horn on the triceratops. The day ended with yummy dinosaur cupcakes.

So now here I am 3 days before his 5th birthday party with no idea how I'm going to entertain 10+ kids. 2 hours of jumpy house?? I don't think so. Well, keep posted to see what I come up with.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Smash The Potatoes

Another yummy side dish my boys liked. This was a fairly simple dish I made last night, the perfect alternative to french fries. I used small red potatoes, skin and all, that I boiled for approximately ten minutes, just until tender. Then I put them on a cookie sheet and smashed down on them with the bottom of a glass, just a bit. They then went into a 12 inch skillet with some olive oil, frying them 5-6 minutes each side. I took them out, seasoned them with a little pepper, salt and Parmesan cheese. Mmmmm they were crispy on the outside yet tender inside and ohh so good. Adults and kids enjoyed these. I bet my boys would have loved these even more had I given them ketchup with it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Call It Summer

We call it summer when....

there's water fun to be had

blackberries to be picked at the neighbors backyard

friends to stroll with while camping

family night at the zoo

outdoor dining in the backyard

bike riding fun

sunny time family picnic fun

So many fun things happen here during the summer. We plan to enjoy these next few weeks to the fullest, including Aidan's 5th birthday celebration coming soon, Yay! Then comes and exciting new beginning, Aidan starts kindergarten .

It's A Wild Turkey

Oops wrong wild turkey!

There they are, wild turkeys here's 2 of many that were running around.

Another summer camping trip, the last one for this summer. We camped at the same place (Chabot Lake) with a different group of friends including 10 kids between the ages of 4 and 1 1/2, and some wild turkeys. Yes that's right, wild turkeys. We saw them the last time we camped but this time they were up close to the campsite in midday. The kids were thrilled to see such big birds running the kids went on a hunt, hunting for wild turkeys. Of course there was no way they were ever going to catch one. What they did catch was a lizard that they all clamored over to hold. We let the poor guy go after everyone got to hold him and pet him.

There was also smores fun. Miles and Liam could not be bothered with those..they were all about the roasted marshmallows. Who needs the chocolate and graham crackers when sticky gooey marshmallows were already soo yummy and fun to eat!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mommy is Aging with Honor

This mama is aging and it seems to be at blazing speed. I'm speaking for myself when I say, "there is no question that having kids especially the twins, has truly sped up the aging process." I look at photos of myself just prior to kids and compare them to recent photos (BTW I don't advise doing this) and think to myself, "What happened and when?" Of course, I can't blame it all on motherhood and the sleepless nights that comes with it. There's also those days when I thought I was invincible that lead to sun damage and the hip smoking (not!) during those early years in college. I'm sure they played a role in this high speed aging. But, when you're twenty something, looking fabulous with your bronzed skin (hours at the beach followed by tanning booth visits) and feel like you're all grown up and sophisticated, smoking that menthol cigarette (ahem, yes embarrassing but true) you're not thinking, "hmm I might regret this when I'm a 39 yr old mama, with less than flawless skin." Also, lets not forget the countless ailments that have possessed my body in my thirties. Illness too, will take it's toll that no exorcism is going to correct. I still believe it was motherhood's insomnia that opened the flood gates on my aging child-bearing body.

Be what it may, it's time to accept that "lost youth" and love myself as is. I've seen advertisements for "mommy makeovers" and feel myself repulsed. Motherhood should be a proud moment! Why should I be made to feel ashamed about my less than perfect body. Of course I've fallen prey to some of this. I'm guilty for donning the "mommy swimsuit" and trying to find the perfect cosmetics that might be the secret to the "fountain of youth". Granted, I'm one of the lucky ones who didn't get stretch marks but I do have that tummy pooch, loose skin and deflated post breast feeding sacks that were once perky, oh and the melasma mask of pregnancy... these I call my badges of honor, honored to be a proud mommy of 3 gorgeous boys. So you marketing schmucks who think you're so clever giving cutesy names to what still amounts to invasive surgery, SHAME ON YOU!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mac N' Cheese and Dinosaurs: A Discussion on Phases

Phase in, phase out, and sometimes phase back in... from foods to toys. I'm always excited when I find something the boys like to eat, yes something to add to the list. The only problem is, I never know if this is just a phase, will it come and go. There are certain foods that make the "A" list and seem to be permanent, like pizza and pancakes. Then there is others that phase in then phase out..the latest to make this list is Mac N'Cheese. I had found a recipe in Everyday Food that the kids really liked and I did too. It was this recipe called Southern Mac and Cheese, that used eggs and cheese to create sort of a custard. The best part was that it was also pretty easy to make. So I've made this several times and they've always eaten it up until tonight. Was it the broccoli I tried to slip in it this time? Always trying to find a way to get those veges in. Or is this truly a phase out item? The twins didn't want it at all, Aidan ate it but wasn't excited about it and made me pick out the broccoli, followed by 20 questions regarding why I would contaminate mac and cheese with a vege. I guess I won't be making mac and cheese for awhile now because it's always disappointing when you make something and your kids don't eat. However, it is a great recipe you might want to try it, it just might make your kids "A" list.

Just as foods phase, toys do too. Even the trains seem to be slowing down, I wouldn't say they're phasing out (don't imagine that will ever happen, it's an obsession) but they're just competing with other interests. We've gone through cars, cooking toys, puzzles, back to cars and now it's this dinosaur. This dinosaur has been in our house for a year now. When it first arrived there was some interest in it for a bit then it was forgotten. Lucky for "Dino" it's on the hot list again, even Jeremy (our cat) has begun to take interest. Of course, just as I was beginning to consider it was time to pass it on to someone new.

Life comes in phases, some predictable and others unpredictable. We just go with the flow and it all seem to keep us happy.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dinosaur Chopsticks or Slurp Slurp We're On The Mend

We were home bound for a week with a yucky virus that zapped our energy and left us with persisting fevers. Thankfully, we're on the mend. We had plenty of comfort soups and foods this week trying to soothe our tummies and recover our appetites. To add some fun to this the boys got to use their dinosaur chopsticks to slurp down some yummy udon noodles, a favorite in this household.

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