May 28, 2014

Mother's Day

I have been waiting to publish this post until I captured a picture of my children all together. Clearly this was a monumental feat, as Mother's Day was 2.5 weeks ago. 

I confess that I have not been a fan of Mother's Day for a while. Like my birthday, this holiday is a day of reflection for me. Another year has passed. What have I done? How have I improved? What is going well? What is not going well? I seem to get stuck on the first question and the last, focusing on the ways that I fall short, particularly as a mother. The list is lengthy. So this year, instead of having a bad attitude about not being the mother I want to be, I decided to make Mother's Day like my birthday, and make sure my kids were glad, for one day, that I am their mother.

So I bought each child a journal that I intend to write in. I'm thinking of letters on their birthdays, at milestone events, or when I think they might need a boost. I want them to know that they are loved. Even if they don't feel that right now, eventually they will. That little project made me feel better and I thoroughly enjoyed "my" day when I shifted the focus elsewhere.

On Mother's Day I spent some time with the kids, cleaned up the kitchen (hopelessly messy with the remnants of Tyler's "business" assignment for school), and let Garry sleep in. I taught sharing time. Garry fixed a fantastic meal for dinner (it's not often that a new recipe is a hit around here). The kids gave me a necklace and a set of earrings and, ironically, a journal where they all wrote notes to me instead of giving me cards. I love it!! What fun traditions we are starting!

I also celebrated Mother's Day with Gavin and Lexi at school. They both had little programs for the moms, as well as lunch! At Lexi's school, the teacher provided the food, and at Gavin's, I brought a picnic that we enjoyed together.  Both kids gave me sweet treasures, along with the memories of being with them at school.

Lexi's class and art work:

Gavin's class and art work:

I love my kids and sure hope that they know it!

May 23, 2014

The entreprenuer

This year Tyler's school required two significant end-of-year projects for the fifth graders: a science fair project and a legitimate business endeavor.

Tyler dove right into his science project, which turned out to be a survey: What color of soda do people like best? He colored several bottles of 7-up, poured the drink into glasses, and, after his Cub Scout Pack Meeting in April, surveyed children and adults at the church. Among the 27 participants, purple soda was most popular with the adults, while orange was most popular with the children. Some people noticed that all of the soda tasted the same, while others did not. It was cool to see the way color tricks the mind. I think it would have been interesting to ask people to identify the flavors of the different-colored drinks, but that would have been another project entirely. Tyler displayed his project in class one day. Garry and I visited. There wasn't a science fair with places and prizes--just a simple walk-through in the classroom. Tyler did a great job and did nearly all of the work himself. 

Before the science fair was finished, the next big project began. All of the students had to run a business. They had to write a business plan, take out a $6.00 loan from parents, buy supplies, hire employees, and sell goods or services. After collecting money and deducting expenses, profits would go to the school. Tyler was initially VERY overwhelmed because he missed an entire week of school due to a nasty strain of croup, and that was the week when the other fifth graders were preparing their businesses. Eventually he re-grouped and decided to launch a bakery called Tyler's Tongue-Tingling Tasties. Because his product was food, he couldn't plan to sell any at school (allergy restrictions), so I posted an "ad" on Facebook and through the ward email list, and in no time Tyler had eager customers. Tyler did all of the baking. Mom and Dad supervised, helping where needed.

    (One batch failed....)

Making crescent rolls on one Saturday and cupcakes the following Wednesday was a monumental effort, but he finished with a profit of $88.00. He learned a lot about time and financial investments, and also what baking supplies cost.

He also learned how to make a pretty great crescent roll and delicious buttercream frosting! Some of his positive feedback: "Those rolls were amazing!"  "I wish I had ordered more!"  "Are you sure your mom didn't make these?" "Best cupcakes ever!" "Can I order some more on the sly?" I think all of us are glad, however, that for now, Tyler has retired from the bakery business.

When I asked Tyler how he felt about his business experience, he said, "I liked the experience selling because I had a lot of fun, even though I messed up several times. I especially liked the crescent rolls, even though they weren't exactly like I wanted them to be, they tasted very good. I liked the cupcakes because a lot of people bought them. I was surprised because cupcakes...are just cupcakes! It was awesome because I got hired at the last minute on Selling Day (at school, where kids with non-food items could sell their wares to other students). I liked that I could do something during the Selling Day. It was fun."

Yay Tyler!

May 22, 2014

Finally five!

Lexi Lou turned five on May 16th. What a cutie! She counted down the days for three months (since Tyler's birthday) and was amazingly happy when her birthday finally came. Being five is very exciting!

We started off the day, per tradition, with presents. She couldn't have been more thrilled with her simple gifts. She got lots of summer clothes (we have discovered the wonders of Goodwill and the used kids' clothing store...$20.00 goes a long way!), which she modeled for us. The other gift from Garry and me was curtains for her bunk bed. They turn her lower bunk into a fort. She got church and play dresses and sandals from Granny and Gramps, and an outdoor picnic table and some crafty things from Grandma and Grandpa.

Lexi went to school on her birthday, where the class had a little party, complete with the pink-stuffed Oreos she took as her birthday treat. She helped me finish the cake pops, which she chose in lieu of a cake, that I had started the day before.

Because the Fathers and Sons camp-out was that evening, we celebrated the night before with dinner (her choice was homemade pizza, with her favorite sugar snap peas) and treats. When the boys were gone, the girls enjoyed a bubble bath, a movie in my bed, and painting fingernails.

This week Lexi had her final dance performance with Miss Amy's class. The girls performed at a nearby rest home, much to the delight of the residents. Lexi is fun to watch! I need to find a new place for her to dance, as Miss Amy isn't teaching anymore (sad face).

I "interviewed" Lexi on camera today while we sat waiting for the boys after school. She was incredibly wiggly and distracted...I guess it has been a long day!  She made me laugh...the interview captures her cute personality, voice, and mannerisms perfectly, even if she was being a little crazy.

Some things I want to remember about Lexi at age five:

She loves/prefers to fix her own hair (usually "flat," which is code for "not styled or even brushed") and paint her own nails, wears skirts almost exclusively, loves to color and paint, BFFs are Lucy and Kaela, plays "family" (it was called "house" when I was little) quite often, can ride a two-wheeled bike but still prefers her scooter, enjoys picnics and parks and long walks/runs with me, sometimes gets in my bed at night, is a very expressive dancer and speaker, and is generally quite shy in public.

At her check-up this week, Lexi weighed 36.3 pounds (25%) and was 41.8 inches (36%). She's still a teeny little miss, but following her usual curve and developing normally. She is super excited to be grown-up enough for kindergarten in three months! I think she's ready, and I look forward to seeing her grow.

May 19, 2014

Kate speaks

My daughter is darling. I love the way she talks and what she has to say and her funny facial expressions. This is an impromptu interview with a two-year-old who has a lot of personality and just makes me laugh. That is all.

 Love you, Kate!

May 8, 2014

May Letters

Dear family (in my home and otherwise),

Sometimes happiness comes in a box...

...or a basket.

Thanks for the birthday gifts.


Dear weather gods,

Snow boots and swimming suits in the same week is bizarre.

Yours Truly--Confused mama who is bidding winter farewell, no matter what

Dear National Do Not Call Registry,

Despite having filed my home number with you three(-ish...seems like 20) times , I still receive telephone solicitations on a regular basis. I am tempted to block all solicitors' calls and blast back that message I've seen on some front doors. It goes something like, "We've found Jesus, we like our vacuum, and our roof is fine, thankyouverymuch." Do you know it?  I think it ends with "...unless you're selling girl scout cookies..."

I'd ditch our home phone except that my children would have no way to call me when I'm gone. Hmm....there's an idea.

Impatiently--Current Resident

Dear Wells Fargo,

Thanks for being good to us. Garry sure has been good to you for ten years! Thanks for the extra five days of paid time off, for the steak lunch Garry's boss paid for, and for his early release last Friday.

With appreciation--The employee's wife

Dear Colorado Springs Utilities,

Our electricity usage has inexplicably decreased by half over the last year. I have no idea what's happening, but thank you for the credit on our bill.

Thankfully--Equal-pay customer

Dear daughters,

The fact that both of you soiled your underwear in a 20-minute period while we were away from home reinforces my belief that storing multiple pairs of back-up clothing in the van is a must. Kate would probably agree, as she's the one who ended up in a diaper. I am glad that one of you refused to eat breakfast before school, and so had a zip baggie of cereal that we could use Ew. That was gross.

Resignedly--Still a diaper-changing mama

Dear Subway,

I am sorry that one of the afore-mentioned incidents happened on your premises.

Sincerely--Your customer

Dear Coats & Clark,

You make transparent thread. I sew scout patches to olive drab shirts. It seems that we would be a match made in heaven (or Troop 512). However, my sewing machine hates you. Patient as I was about starting over and over and over, I simply couldn't tolerate the mess you made in my bobbin compartment, not to mention the fact that you wouldn't complete an actual seam. And so I return to matching threads to patches. *sigh*

Yours (or maybe not) in sewing--A wannabe seamstress

Dear Hobby Lobby,

Why don't you carry Guterman thread? Let's hope Lexi doesn't noticed the slight shade differential in the seams of her bed curtains, since I RAN OUT OF THREAD during the final phase of the eternal sewing project I am attempting for her birthday, and I didn't want to drive to another store when I had already driven to you. Bah.

Secretly--President, Overly-Ambitious Anonymous

Dear May,

You are just as harrowing as December, minus the snow and ice. Wait...

Yours in scheduling--Mother of four school children and a toddler who naps

Dear friend with a husband and father in the hospital,

Your stress is palpable. Man, I wish I could help. I sure love your family.

Love to you--Your mom's former-but-always visiting teacher

Dear Landsharks,

I am sad that you changed your policy and no longer allow kindergartners to run in the one-mile race. Gavin was totally planning on it, telling everyone about his "big race." He was so disappointed. However, after processing the disappointment for a while, he said, "Mom, can I do Landsharks next year so I can run the mile?" I guess he's resilient.

Speedily (or not)--A mom raising a runner

Dear LG,

Our dishwasher--or rather, your dishwasher in my kitchen--is broken. Do know how lame this is for a family that generates so many dirty dishes? Garry has ordered one of your fancy heating elements and will attempt to make the repair himself. We'll see. Until then I am remembering the days of washing dishes by hand when I was a kid, and feeling guilty for the lack of character-building parenting in my current home every time I pass out paper bowls and plates at meal time. I am trying to believe that, as a friend pointed out, we might be conserving water while killing trees.

Sadly--A lazy mom

Dear Not Me,

Thank you (but not) for sitting in the stroller and breaking the seat, and for taking off the front wheel simply because it is removable. Seriously, I don't know how the idea of LEAVE IT ALONE never enters your head!

Crying with frustration--Fed up

Dear Kate,

Stop being so ridiculously cute. It's really hard to discipline a cherub, except when said cherub is acting decidedly un-heavenly. Then it's easy.

Lovingly--Yo mama

Dear AEES teachers,

We love you, which hopefully is obvious by the tedious process required I created for myself to make these posters. I don't know when I'll learn to pass on projects like this. Maybe you can teach me.

With gratitude--The Bartle boys' mom

Dear Anthony E. Wolf,

Your book is especially resonant in my life right now, but I think you could have emphasized your points about ornery teenagers without all the swearing. Doesn't that mean you're as immature and un-creative as they are? 

Harshly--A desperate but picky reader

Dear self,

It has taken a year, but I am glad you f.i.n.a.l.l.y figured out that relocating Kate's clothes to the lower drawers would nearly eliminate her incessant need to invert the laundry baskets and use them as ladders.

With relief and gratitude--A slow learner

Dear Saturday evening,

You were just perfect for a walk. Ahhhh....

Appreciatively--A fresh air lover

Dear child with a pink obsession,

Your outfits are always creative, but the nightgown-boots-jacket-helmet combo especially amused me.


Dear Not Me,

Whatever possessed you to put a marker inside of a jar of burning wax is beyond me, but I am sure you enjoyed seeing the results of the experiment. Bursting glass and dripping wax are always funny, right?!

With suspicion and annoyance--Your exhausted mother

Dear Lynn the attendance lady,

You always laugh at my children when we stop by the middle school to drop off a child or an item. It is true: they are crazy. That day I brought in four children between the ages of two and four (one is hiding behind the bench) was especially chaotic, but only because we had to wait 20 minutes for you to locate my son.

With a smirk--Zach's mom

Dear band director,

We've got another percussionist in the family. He will probably practice.

Excitedly--Tyler's mom

Dear Pinterest,

I found this wreath and LOVE it, but I think I am not up to such a project. Maybe next summer? (Because surely I'll have more free time then...hahahahahaha...)

Yours in pinning--A recovering ambitious crafter

Dear friends and family,

Thank you for supporting Tyler in his required-for-school business. He is too young to appreciate that soliciting money from loved ones is uncomfortable for his parents. Nevertheless, he loves to cook and is excited to sell his made-from-scratch crescent rolls, which, I promise you, will be delicious. A dozen rolls are $4.50 and will be available on Saturday, just in time for Mother's Day. It's not too late to order!

Thankfully--A Tyler's Tongue-Tingling Tasties marketing strategist

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