Thursday, June 30, 2011

When You Have to Spell It Out

My youngest has a favorite question that she feels compelled to ask me each and every day:  "What are we doing today?"  And I have to say it sets my teeth on edge.  She's 10 and she still expects me to...I'm not exactly sure what she expects me to do.  It could be she expects me to provide her with an activity for all of her waking moments.  THAT I am not willing to do.

Earlier this month, I posted our "anticipated" June calendar for the kids' summer activities.  Since this is the last day of June,  I decided to go back and take stock of what we've "done" this month.   Here is our June roundup:
15 softball games
2 boat trips
1 cabin trip
26 sleepovers
2 weekends at cousins' cabin
1 Taylor Swift concert
6 days of basketball camp
24 hours of swim camp
15 hours of dance workshop
9 days of drivers ed
2 ortho appointments
1 doctor appointment
1 dentist appointment
6 movies seen
17 games of beach volleyball played
2 9 hole rounds of golf played
6 days spent at Valley Fair*
1 pool party church event
1 day spent at Cascade Bay Outdoor Waterpark

HOLY CRAP...I want to be my kids.  This is just ONE month.  It certainly is eye opening.  My goal with the calendar was more to make sure that they were where they needed to be when they needed to be there.  But it has turned into a very useful tool to do just my children now BLESSED they are that we are able to provide this kind of "entertainment" for them.  

And maybe, in between, they can find ways entertain themselves.  With the trampoline, the Wii, the bikes, the scooters, the acre of property, the swingset, and the myriad of other accoutrements we have provided for their entertainment, it shouldn't be TOO difficult.

One can hope.

*Valley Fair...I believe that with just one month into summer we have gotten our money out of the season passes.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Prodigy

She's 10. She knows how to uncork a bottle. Is this a bad thing?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rules for Thee, But Not for Me

I can't stand looking at people who don't bother to part their hair.

THERE.  I said it.  Whew, what a relief.  I can't tell you how much that has bugged me, especially since NOT parting one's hair has become vogue.  It's right up there with bras as fashion accessories.  OK, these aren't RULES per se, but I guess they just fall into what I deem the  "common sense" arena.

But then there are rules...or in some cases laws, that for some reason people think they don't have to follow and this I just can't seem to wrap my brain around.  Maybe someone can help me.  Case in point...Facebook.  Most of the rules for Facebook are straightforward, so what I don't understand is why parents allow their kids to break them.  Rule 1 under registration and account security You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.  And rule 5 You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.  So, if you are under 13 and using Facebook, you are breaking 2 rules as you had to use false information in order to create the account (incorrect birthday).  And usually with mom and dad's permission, because, you know, THEY know best and these "arbitrary" rules shouldn't apply to their precious little prodigy.  GREAT.   Now stop and think.  Why do you suppose Facebook was set up this way?  I'm going to guess that there wasn't an arbitrary age picked just for the purpose of thwarting those under 13, but rather it was a safety issue.  And to be honest, I can see why.  My niece who is not yet 13 has had a facebook account for over a year.  She has posted pictures of herself and she looks NOWHERE near 13.  In some, she looks 17-18.  In others she looks younger. move.  OH, but wait...all her friends have one so she should too...right?  RIGHT???

I also know of a family who handed the keys to a car over to their 14 year old.  She drives.  Illegally.  There is not a state in this country that allows you to drive without an adult in the car...legally.  Yet, this family believes that they know best.  Now isn't that special?  Won't you be thrilled to be the family who gets hit by this child KNOWING that this was sanctioned by the parents.

So, what exactly are we teaching our children?  There are rules in place for everyone else...BUT YOU.  Because, we know best.  We know that at 11, you are more than capable of handling yourself online with  minimal supervision.  We know that at 14 you are capable of making mature decisions when driving a piece of machinery that is 300 times your weight.  Really?  NO...REALLY?  We know that it just isn't in your nature to wait.  So, we just "bend" the rules.  For you.  Because you're "different" from all those other 11 year olds or 14 year olds.  You're the 11 year old who is well schooled with dealing with online predators.  Or the 14 year old who has full control of a vehicle while hydroplaning.  Right?

When did it become vogue NOT to say "NO" to our kids?  When did we cease being parents and turn into our children's friends?  When did we decide that rules were for everyone else's kids...not ours?

When are we going to wake up to the fact that by not saying no, by not following established guidelines, by making OUR child the "exception", we are actually TEACHING our children to be dishonest.  To cheat.  To lie.  Because it's all good as long as we get what we want, right? 

I'm trying to let go of the little stuff.  The non-part.  Or the visible underwear.  But the big stuff?  It worries me.  And it should you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Feelin' Like a Rock Star

Or maybe a country star.  Which is Taylor Swift?  Regardless, my oldest daughter had a friend with an extra ticket to the Taylor Swift concert last night and she asked my daughter.  Like I was gonna say no ( keeping with the whole allowance you pay for it yourself experiment she did have to pay for her ticket herself...and with last night being the last day of her month before payday it was looking like she wasn't going to be able to afford it.  LUCKILY, a last minute neighborhood babysitting job saved her fanny).  The seats were on the floor but she said it was 3 rows from the back on the floor.  And she went, dare I say it, parentless. *SHOCK*

However, as luck would have it, she was right next to a mini stage and Taylor came out and sang 3 songs from there.  AND...TOUCHED HER HAND.  OMG...OMG...TAYLOR SWIFT TOUCHED MY DAUGHTER.  I doubt she'll wash her hand.  EVER.

She said it was an amazing show...almost a theatrical event vs a concert.  Every song wasn't just sung, but enacted.

This gives an idea as to how close they were to the "mini" stage:

 Close enough for her to get this picture with her camera NOT on zoom:

 I dunno...I'm just not sure she had a good time. Whaddya think?

Now...I have the dubious task of peeling the smile off her face.  Or maybe I'll let her keep it.  Until she washes her hand.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Weekends Were Made for...

spending at the cabin.  I only wish we had better weather.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as bad as it has been in years past, but good heavens, it's JUNE.  We should be able to expect to have at the minimum low 70s.  We maybe got a couple minutes of low 70s on occasion when it the sun was out (that would be the time frame I was sleeping in the boat, so I can't say with any "certitude"), but when that sun went under cover, the temp seemed to drop 15 degrees.

Beanie was our only child this weekend.  Well, for clarity, she was the only of OUR children we brought.  She brought a friend and as luck would have it, they had a ball...the weather be damned.

First, they tried their hand at bass fishing, having spotted a large bass swimming under the dock with a large hook in it's mouth:
The next morning, when the polar bears were coming out of their caves, they decided they wanted to play in the water...
Since we had already launched the boat (I got to drive...whoo-hoo), the girls, already wet, decided to tube.  Here, let me narrate.    To clarify, Beanie's friend had never tubed before, and Beanie is something of a dare-devil...tubing at least.  So an easy start was a good thing:
 And of course, one always needs to first.  Here, let me fix that...
Then they seemed to hit a rhythm:
 A little  less speed, and I think I'm OK, I mean, wake hopping is fun right?
I'm getting the hang of this now:
Or maybe not.  Can I be done?
We're still trying to peel the smile off Beanie.

A little later, after no luck on the docks, they took the pontoon out to see if they could find something worth catching.  They hit the mutha load:
40 sunnies+Saturday evening fish cleaning =Sunday afternoon fish fry:
Unfortunately, Sunday (today) was less than stellar.  We got no sun, well except the sunnies and let me tell you...THAT'S DELICIOUS!

We ended up heading back a bit earlier than normal.  Normally we would have stayed for a spaghetti dinner but there was nothing but cold windy weather keeping us inside and there seemed no point (well, except now, I'm hungry and if I want spaghetti I have to make it myself), so we headed back...arriving in town to see the sun come out in all its glory< insert Mutley doing his ratsrfrasa sound>.
All in all, I'm going to say, weather notwithstanding...the weekend was a success.  And really, who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

I struggle with summer.  OK, I'll give you a second to pick yourself up off the floor with that revelation.  No, I seriously struggle with summer and what to do with my kids.  The week before school let out my husband came to me with the idea of a trampoline.  We've watched the kids on friends' trampolines and they all, EVEN the boy, have a ball on them.  However, funsucker that I am, I kept recalling the pediatrician who visited a Mom's Club meeting, way back when I went to Mom's Club meetings, who said that the number one cause of ER visits during the summer is trampolines.

I, however, was overruled.  This now occupies the spot next to the deck:
I wish I could say that it has solved numerous problems of keeping the kids busy during the day, but I can't.  Beanie doesn't want to be on it unless someone else is on it with her and the others don't want to be on it with anyone else.  Yeah me!

In an attempt to try and keep myself organized (so NOT me) I made out a calendar with the kids' activities, color coding the children.  Son is red (note the absence of ANY red on the calendar), oldest daughter is purple, middle daughter is green and youngest is blue. The calendar was made up about a month ago when I finalized (finalized=wrote out the plethora of checks) their activities so additional changes are written in.  Kinda makes it look a little more ghetto right?  I also decided that I was going to keep track of sleepovers and with whom so I can attempt to track SOS* which is noted by arrows from one day to next.  So, are you ready for this?
You would think this would be enough to keep them busy, right?  Well, no, apparently it is not.  It seems as though as well as keeping track of the activities, I am also to fill in the "down" hours with additional activities.  One wonders why exactly we have a swing set, bikes, scooters, rollerblades, sprinklers, parks, etc close at hand.  And what is the only thing my youngest wants to do?  She wants to spend her days at Holiday (gas station that has a wide variety of crap on which she wants to spend the money she hasn't earned), because, you know, I don't keep ANY SNACKS OR CANDY of any sort in this house. *snort*

The thing that bugs me most is the more we have, the less they want to do.  Unless it involves spending money.  And this is SO far removed from how I grew up.  We were out the door as soon as we finished our Apple Jacks in the morning and my parents rarely saw us until the street lights came on at night.  We made our own fun, mostly playing in the woods and catching tadpoles in the creek.  We had bikes that we rode across town (2-3 miles..without helmets) in blistering heat to get to the pool, where we swam all day before riding our bikes the 2-3 miles home.  Then went and played softball at night.  And if the 'skeeters weren't bad, we would sometimes drag our sleeping bags out into the yard and sleep in the yard. 

My girls call me from their friends house to pick them and their bikes up.  The friend lives less than half a mile away.  And they always seem to act surprised when we laugh into the phone before saying..."get your fanny on your bike and ride it home".

If I'm going to make it through this summer with my sanity in check, I'm going to have to start with Bloody Mary's in the morning.  Just sayin'.

*SOS=Sleep Over Syndrome...the attitude a child develops having stayed up most of the night and then, the next day thinks that the whole world is "off" and they're just fine.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Not Yet Saladed Out

I would hope not.  Not with the 90+ degree weather we have had here recently with more on tap for today.  I have no desire to heat up the kitchen any so I'm thinking we'll be eating a lot of salads until this weather breaks (hopefully tomorrow...but here it's feast of famine...either 90s or 60s...very little in between)Last night I grilled up some boneless chicken thighs with a chili lime rub on them and made use of the leftover bean salsa from Saturday.  Step by step instructions on how to build a better salad.
Start with a bed of lettuce (romaine) and add a hand full of Archer Farms Blue Corn Chips with flax seed (honestly, these chips are da BOMB):
Then top with Texas Caviar (aka bean salsa):
Diced chili lime rubbed chicken thighs:
Diced roma tomatoes:
Diced avocado:
I dress with light ranch, my husband douses with blue cheese.  We take to the deck and enjoy with a glass of wine.  Not sure if summer gets any better than this.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Assassins...Nerf Assassins

Let me begin by saying if you aren't a fan of guns of ANY kind, move along...nothing to see here.  If you are a fan of kids finding imaginative, clean, non damaging (permanently anyhow) summer fun, read on.

My (now) senior son and 48 of his classmates got together last week and set up a game that has me chuckling each and every night.  They actually got together last Thursday night and set up the ground rules for...Nerf Assassin.  The rules are fairly simple:  no attacks at one's place of work, and no attacks in one's house.  Shot must to be the head (which immediately puts the boy at a disadvantage because he has an enormous noggin' and explains why he wanted me to take his hair down with a number 4 blade on the clippers) and witnessed by two people. The boys are divided up into 8 teams of around 6 boys each.  Last man standing...their team wins.

When I first heard of the game, I assumed that it was a one night thing.  OH, NO.  This is an ongoing  game intended to last all summer.  And of course, there's money involved.  Incentive for the 17 year old boy (who is currently without summer employment, hoping that changes at the end of the month with his birthday).

What he quickly found out, not being a Survivor fan, was that there are alliances to be made, pacts to be negotiated...basically ways to pick off "weaker" teams.  The first night of the game, he came home to an ambush of his two friends (different team) who laid in wait (for over an hour) in our yard, dressed in ski masks (I probably should be worried about the obvious skills they're acquiring, but I'll take the optimist view and call it patience) waiting for my son to arrive home.  The friend who dropped him off heard what was happening before the boy and managed to call out a warning with enough time for him to get to safety.  Luckily, the only thing we heard was the dog bark when he came in.  The dog never barks at night.  So the boy lived to shoot another day (and has since made an alliance with his friends).

He has now made alliances with other teams AND the graduating senior boys have joined in the game.  He also knows, he goes nowhere without his gun (not sure if he needs a CC license for nerf guns).  Thus far there have been 2 ALMOST kills.  One ambush.  One situation where the gun jammed.

I think, however that the boys have notched it up a level, given the condition of my son's car this morning.  Behold:
Now, I'm not an assassin, but I believe my son is now a marked man.  I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A GLORIOUS Spring Fling!

Yesterday was the 6th Annual Spring Fling and I'm going on record to say that this had to be the BEST one evah!  The weather was absolutely stunning.  Upper 70s, low 80s, no bugs...very similar to last year's Spring Fling  My final head count of adults was 20 and I couldn't tell you the number of kids because some (mostly mine) were coming and going all night.  So this required some careful planning.  Because not only did we have that many people coming over to our house, we had a graduation party to attend immediately before our event.  Careful planning indeed!

I started the evening with 3 appetizers:  marinated tomatoes on grilled french bread rounds, Texas Caviar, and shrimp salsa.  OH, I also made a giant container of White Sangria  with fruit marinating for 24 hours before hand.  Today?'s all gone. But it looked like this:

I made my usual asian pasta chicken salad, and strawberry chicken with candied almonds, but I also added two new salads to the evening:  steak caesar and a chicken pear and pistachia with a curry serrano chili dressing.
My favorite comment was: "I thought I knew what my favorite would be, but as I worked my way around the plate, each one made me rethink.  But the end, they were all my favorites."

Of course, dessert is a "moral imperative" so I had made a lemon blueberry pound cake:
I also made macadamia milk chocolate brownies which were SO good.

Here is what we do at the Spring Fling:
And my middle daughter seemed to take charge of the little kids, rounding them up for games, seeing that they had sloppy joes, fruit and brownies.  Note to self...must reward middle daughter.
The event was scheduled to go from 4-9pm and at 9pm the guys pulled out the polish horseshoe (bean bags...corn hole...different name depending on where you are) game and the ladder golf and had a little tournament going in the front.

I think the last guest left around 1am. Good friends, good food, good wine, great weather... I'd call the evening a resounding success.  Yeah me!