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Monday, June 24, 2013

It's happening

I'm catching glimpses every once in awhile of just what it might be like to have teenage girls in the house, you know those people who catch you in every little mistake you make.  And help me God, I'm so far out of what's cool that I'm going to be hopeless over the years to's a good thing they like me so much, at least for now.

Take this exchange for example, I was talking to Emma about her hair, it's getting really long and with swimming every day, even with a swim cap, it's becoming a little unmanageable.

Me-  "Maybe you should start wearing your hair like Missy Elliot."
Both big girls (with scrunched noses)"WHO are you talking about?"
Me-  "You know, Missy Elliot from the Olympics".
Emma- "Moooom, that's Missy Franklin"
Me- "Oh for Pete's sake, Elliot, Franklin, they're both men's names"
Girls- Eye rolling and giggling.

I for one happen to think Emma would look lovely in this hairstyle. You didn't realize Missy Elliot existed?   Well she does and she was a fairly popular rapper with my students back in the early '00's.  And now her name, along with all kinds of other useless information is lodged deep into my memory just waiting to jump out and betray me.  

Missy Franklin.  
The two probably get confused for one another all the time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer so far....

3 weeks of summer have passed, it's hard to believe but lucky us we still have 7 and a half weeks left so I'm feeling very happy.  That's what the middle of June feels like to me....happy.  We've settled into summer and the end is still too far away to really think about.   We've occupied our time with swimming and dance classes, sleep overs,  the library, the zoo, the science center, VBS, a nice long visit with Grandpa Bill, a birthday celebration for Grandma Jackie, get togethers with friends, the Shakespeare festival ( we left before the show even started this year!  we saw the green show and although most of really would've like to have stayed, someone didn't....) and a lot of imaginative play around the house.  Hello Summer!

Friday, June 21, 2013

oh, sweet recreational swim team

This summer Emma and Eleanor are both on a swim team for the first time.  They swim Monday-Thursday mornings from 8:15-9:15 at our local pool.  It's non-competitive, with a focus on just getting a few stroke basics down.  What a wonderful experience we are having!
  The first week, though she never uttered the word, El wanted to quit.  She was cold and the work was hard.  She held back tears and would mouth to me as I stood on the deck  "how much longer??" after every lap.  Her lips were purple and her little body shook.  She would whimper as she told me about the practice, "mom, I can't even make one lap without having to pull over against the rope". Quickly, the coach began to let her use a kick board to help and day by day she improved until she could easily swim a lap without the kick board.    It's been amazing to watch in just three weeks how much more comfortable both girls are in the water and how they've actually developed some stroke skill!
Last night was their first meet.  It was exciting just watching them warm up!  They swam against another local team (actually our school district municipality!) and it was so cute.  A bit of controlled chaos.   There was no real racing, just kids in the same age group, swimming the same stroke (mostly!) at the same time.  The smiles on the faces of all of the kids were precious, it was evident that his was a good night for all of them.

Things don't stop here though we've got 4 more weeks of swim team and as the coach said last night "now that we can all get across the pool, it's time to make those strokes legal".

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


When I was first out of college and not married I budgeted $15 a week on groceries.  Those were the days when a quart of milk lasted me two weeks and I ate pasta with jarred $1 sauce at least 3 days a week.  After Kevin and I were married I don't really know what our budget was....those first few years of joint budgeting were a little hazy but I can't imagine we spent much more.  Our go to meal was a boxed pasta (10 for $10!) mixed with a can of tuna.

Subconsciously Kevin and I must have decided that after we became parents we should improve our eating habits and move from heating up to cooking, so in the months after Emma was born, and with the help of Food Network we started cooking real food.  This made a pretty big impact on our food budget but for many years we maintained a $50 a week grocery budget.  It was hard but very doable, especially when we occasionally went to Sam's and spent $150 on staples added with the leftovers my mom would send home with us and the mountains of food my dad and Kyra bestowed on us with every visit.

Fast forward to last Wednesday.  We spent $160 on groceries (and I went to Aldi), I bought no meat other than turkey for sandwiches and no alcohol, we didn't host a big party, I wasn't stocking up on anything, we were just trying to feed 3 smallish kids.   I cannot even imagine what a family of 3 or more big kids must go through.  I think you'd have to have two refrigerators or go to the store more than once a week (BOOOO!!!) I'll  definitely be in the market for another fridge in a couple of more years because I just can't see going to the store more than once a week-yuck.

 I was determined to make it a full week before we returned to the store even though yesterday morning our fruit consisted of one plum and a half pint of blueberries.  The kids are so excited to go to the store today (a first!).  I'm hoping we can come in under last week outrageous number but more than anything it makes me thankful that we can buy food for our kids, even when it costs 10 times as much as it used to (literally.........10 times as much!).
Curiously,  I did a quick search on food stamps after last week's blow out.   Even though we spent a lot I still relied on staples I had including ground beef (thanks, Dad!) and pork chops I had in the freezer.   It just made me really wonder how in the world families without means feed their kids.  The research I found stated that most families receive about $131 per month per person in benefits or for my family of 5, $655 per months or $163.75 a week.  What we spent last week!  I have absolutely no problem with that, in fact it makes me grateful for a system that helps to make sure ALL kids get nourishment.  And I also know it still must be hard (but not quite as hard as I feared) to make that money stretch because like I said, I have a well stocked pantry and freezer to round out each week.  Families in poverty also have to shop in convenience type shops where the food is much more expensive.  But I'm curious to know if that is really number is really accurate?  I'll keep researching.

***post shopping update

Everything's been refilled.  Wanna know the total?  $66 at Aldi (not including a beach umbrella and a baby pool) and $116 at Dierberg's but I did buy $30 worth of coffee (it will last us 6 weeks) plus I needed a few special ingredients for a Father's Day cake that was requested and there was some beer.....some kinda expensive Father's Day beer for a special someone, of which three bottles were broken on the driveway.  So we're looking at $182.  We're totally going in the wrong direction plus we're planning to eat out 3 times next week. Ouch.  I think this is the end of this depressing post I'll forevermore refer to as "why I get my haircut at Great Clips".   

Monday, June 10, 2013

Order Up!

Today's fun includes turning our dining room window into a drive up.  Eleanor took the orders, I made the lunch, Emma is sitting in the back of the van pretending to be one of Lucy's children and of course reading and Lucy is delighted to have all of us joining in on her imaginative play.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A good day

That's me under that blanket and I'm reading a book while drinking an iced coffee. The weather is amazing, the kids are getting along, Kevin gets home tonight and the kids got to ride a camel at the Science Center.  Yes, a good day.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Things have shaped right up and just like that we're all loving summer.

Last night I was reminded of how fantastic early summer evenings are.  After dinner we went out to the front  porch and the girls enjoyed an ice cream treat they'd chosen earlier in the day at the grocery store.  It was misting and a little bit cool and such a perfect few moments.  You won't believe it but not 30 minutes later the ice cream truck showed up.  THE ICE CREAM TRUCK!  It never comes by!  You of course know what happened next. Yes, the kids had ice cream again and this time I joined them :).

I love this time of year, when our counter compost bin fills up daily. 

Last week I collected all of Lucy's pacifiers and put them in a tea cup.  It was a little bit of a hard week but I insisted that she could only have a passy when she was taking a nap or going to bed (or traveling to the Lake in the car).  She did pretty well.   This week she's been figuring out ways of getting passys.  One day I asked her..."Lucy, where did you get that passy?" and she replied "I found it in my hand".  Today as I poured myself a cup of coffee I noticed the tea cup was on its side and empty.  Lucy is definitely enjoying having her sisters home!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mom in Chief

I heard about Michelle Obama's confrontation with a heckler.  A reporter on NPR described her as going into a "mom in chief" mode.  That made me laugh out loud.    Tonight for the first in a few I'm breathing easy and enjoying myself so much.  I've been in my own mom in chief mode the last couple of days and it's starting to pay off.

My awesome view while cooking dinner tonight.  The girl is always with a book.  I can hear the other two playing in the basement.    So perfect.   As an aside...can you even believe we eat that many bananas in a week?  I buy them in two different ripening stages.

Lucy has been spending her time going to swim practice and dance classes.  What a good girl she is!  She likes to wear her dance outfits to all of the girls' activities and often takes very important calls.  

Tonight I'm making this lemon chicken orzo soup.  Eleanor helped me to make a menu for the week and she requested this soup and tomato soup.  I know, it's not really soup weather but I think the poor girl has been so cold from swim team that soup is kind of on her mind.  Kevin's not here so I'm only making half and using up leftover chicken from this recipe which I made on Monday--it was excellent!  I'm also leaving out the lemon rind because the kids don't like it.  
Give it a try, or maybe print it for fall ;)!  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What a mess!

Maybe it was my frustration at 6am when I went to use the treadmill in the basement and had to crawl over a mountain of couch cushions, dress up costumes and popcorn all littering the floor from a play date the day before.  Maybe it was the wet towels and swimming suits on the floor again. Maybe it was one child's shrieking meltdown because it was time to get ready for dance and the dance outfit was not in the dance bag.  Maybe it was finding a piece of cheese under some one's bed.   Maybe it was giving very specific instructions on what needed to be cleaned up upstairs and then checking in to see how things were going to find out that there was absolutely nothing at all going.   Maybe that's what made me blow.  Every parent who has ever been home with children for any stretch of time (I am not just talking about stay at home parents--- a long weekend, holiday breaks, vacation) knows what comes with the territory, lots of meal prep and clean up, laundry, picking up, cheering up, running around, putting away.  You just keep going, the Energizer Bunny becomes your idol.  This job takes stamina, strength, organization, a sense of humor, an ability to think quickly and change direction at a moment's notice and most of all it takes boatloads of patience.  But when you have those qualities and it's a good fit there's nothing better.  It's a whole lot of fun, you know, never a dull moment, never a chance to be bored and you're around a hilarious, fun bunch of people.  But even though I'm crazy about being home with these three girls this summer there are a few things I just cannot abide and feeling like Hilda the Maid is one of them.  I cannot keep up with these people and their messes.  I just can't.  As soon as I clean up one meal, or put away some laundry they've destroyed a room and might even have moved on without so much as a thought about cleaning up.  Some of them change clothes multiple times a day.  One uses a towel once and then leaves it crumpled on the floor all the while seeming not to realize that the idea of the towel is dry off with it, she instead drip dries all over the place.  Trust me, I could keep going but you get the picture.  

You've probably seen this somewhere.  It's a lovely way to think because creative children (and adults, me included) are big mess makers.  I'm not against messes made from fun and creative play.  I'm against  having the house condemned because we're living in a pig pen.

So you see I had to do something.  
 I could:
1.) ignore it  
2.) nag all summer long
3.) just do it all myself

Option 1 was never a real option.  I do not posses the ability to ignore messes.   I might act like I'm ignoring it but it's driving me crazy. 

Option 2 seemed exhausting and futile.

Option 3 seemed to be the easiest for me to wrap my head around but seemed to be admitting defeat and choosing poor parenting over hard parenting.  I want to raise responsible, hard working, productive people. Part of that means they have to be able to clean up after themselves and it's my job to teach them that.  

So I came up with 
4.) You WILL clean this up and I don't care if it takes you all the live long day.

You won't believe how much they have cleaned today.  If things keep going this well I may be willing to hire them out.  2 girls and and a mop.  They are AMAZING!  They've moved on from cleaning to general help and are counting Boxtops without so much as a little bitty whine right now.  It's a whole school's worth of Boxtops joke, I'm having them do my PTO job.  I know this is just the beginning, the hard part is the everyday work.  They know I'm serious though and I don't think they really want another hard labor day this summer.  I've also come up with a chore chart for each girl and we're going back to allowance, which we left in the dust (pun absolutely intended) a few months ago.  I'm also tying allowance to chores which we've not done in the past.   I don't deny some of this is my fault.  The school days get so busy and sometimes it's just easier to do it all myself and when they're not here during the day to continue on their mess making crusade I can keep up with it.  Can you imagine how much free time I might have next year if they can catch on to this idea over the summer?  This thought will keep me strong!

She's the neatest of the far!  Though I do remember the other two were pretty neat toddlers too.    What happened?!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The first weekend of summer

What a great start to summer we've had.  Maybe it's the age of my girls but we have settled more smoothly into summer than ever before.  Some years this has not been the case so I'm pretty delighted.

 As soon as school ended on Friday, my mom and I picked up the girls and headed to the my Aunt and Uncle's condo at the Lake for a girls weekend with two of my aunts, three cousins and Baby David, the lone male, but since he's so cute and sweet we happily included him!  It stormed like crazy Friday night and was cool on Saturday.  Did we care?  Nope.  We talked and talked, watched Disney movies, went to the pool, shopped a little, ate simple, easy meals on paper plates, my girls' learned how to play Mancala,  and we all just enjoyed being together.   It was relaxed and easy. I  am really blessed to have such a wonderful family and feel so thankful to have each of these ladies (and that little man) in my life.  Already excited for next year!