Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You CAN Teach an Old Mom New Tricks

So how come it has taken me 21 years of mothering to figure this out: having a pool party for a child's birthday is the easiest party option ever?

We celebrated Nat's 7th birthday with her friends last Friday and she wanted a pool party. Lucky for me the place where I work has a wonderful pool, so we sent out the word to her friends.

Come Friday, I was struck by the fact that all I had to do was pack a few snacks and head for the pool. Didn't have to clean my house for visitors. Didn't have to decorate. Just had to arrive. Wow, what a concept! And then the more I thought about it, I realized that I didn't even have to plan activities and games. The pool is the activity. And another big plus: I wouldn't have to clean up my house after the party either.

This was ground-breaking territory for me! Why on earth has it taken me this long to figure this out? I have no idea. I guess because I let the kids plan their parties, and Nat really is the only one of my kids with a summer birthday. Yeah, that's the ticket. I certainly couldn't be so lacking in awesome, super-mom party planning skills that it's never occurred to me before this!

Nat wanted my "famous" pudding pie instead of cake (vanilla and chocolate pudding layered in a cookie crust--super easy too!)

I wore my special Seven t-shirt for the occassion. I bought this t-shirt especially for our "7 fun things on 7/7/07" extravaganza that we had 2 years ago, and it was nice to have another event where it was relevant to wear it.

On a side note, I scored bonus points by having the pool party at my place of employment, which is like my second home. I was able to go to the kitchen and get everything I forgot to bring with me: a knife, pie server, spoons, extra plates, and a lighter.

Oh, this pool party thing is definitely an annual tradition now.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fun in the Forest

This time last week I was going camping with all my kids -- yes, all four of mine, plus a couple I consider mine now. So fun.

We got a gorgeous site right on the meadow. And there were hardly any other campers there.

This is how we crossed the meadow to get to the bathrooms.

Nat and Moo took part in Junior Rangers. That brought back memories of camping trips when I was young. I loved Junior Rangers.

Nat in her coyote mask she made at JR Rangers.

Bub and Sis' dad came up and sang songs around the campfire with us which was uber-cool. They even sang a spooky song with a surprise ending that scared Nat and Moo half to death (in a fun, 'we're camping' way). (Wish I had a picture...darn.)

Here Cass and Sis try out a new taste sensation:bananas with chocolate and marshmallow heated over the fire. Sis is very excited as you can see from her expression!

The campground is full of warnings about bears which made city-girl Cass a bit nervous. On the second night I awoke to Suey growling and barking (in the tent with us) and heard the unmistakeable metal squeak of the bear-proof food locker door. I knew that wasn't good, but I wasn't really up to going out to investigate.
The next morning I got up to inspect the damage and found the locker door ajar and an empty graham cracker wrapper, 2 Hershey bar wrappers and an empty marshmallow bag on the ground. Further investigation revealed that a Capri Sun prevented the locker from latching completely but the rest of the food inside was untouched.

Well, obviously it wasn't a bear, otherwise the locker would have been emptied out. Apparently it was just a raccoon with a hankering for S'mores. That critter could've had any combination of goodies but chose to make that yummy campfire treat instead.

Here Bub demonstrates what a crazed, fearsome, forest creature might look like raiding a bear locker, which is exactly why I wasn't going to peek my head out of the tent at 4am!

We also did lots of bike riding. I was proud of Suey because she learned how to run along side my bike while I rode. She did really well pacing herself with me, and it is a fantastic way to wear out a dog!

Our fearless squirrel chaser and locker protector.

I was so thankful that Bub and Cass planned this trip and didn't mind me tagging along. What a great start to the summer!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Seriously, AGAIN? (That's most people's reaction when hearing the following news. Well either that or hysterical laughter)

So....about a month ago Mike starts looking through the paper and mentioning that there's a rental for this much less, or that much less than what we're currently paying. I give him that "you've gotta be freaking kidding me" look, and tell him there ain't no way I'm pulling up stakes again unless it's nothing short of screaming deal.

Well, he found a screaming deal. And we're moving again in just a few short weeks. We're crazy, but saving $5oo a month in rent is just too good to pass up. Of course it means moving BACK up the hill to the snow and away from our fantastic neighborhood with our Bishop across the street (who actually babysat my girls yesterday--seriously, who's bishop is that great?) and our church just around the corner, and our town donkey. However, now the girls won't have to change schools this coming fall, in fact they will be able to WALK to school. They can even walk to school in the snow so that they have stories to guilt their future children with! There's also a couple parks and a lake within walking distance. So there's good and bad.

The house we will be renting is in a very old neighborhood, built in the 30's when there was a saw mill and logging was at it's peak in that area. The houses were built by the loggers and saw mill employees. The lake used to be the old mill pond, but now is a wonderful recreation area. I've actually lived in this neighborhood before, some 15 years ago, and I do really like it.

The house itself is a bit funky, but I'm pretty much an expert on fixing up funky little houses, so I'm kind of looking forward to that too. The house sits on two lots, has a bunch of apple trees, two outbuildings for all of Mike's treasures that he's sure to need some day, and a lot more square footage than the little tract house we're in now.

I was a little disappointed that our current landlord wouldn't bargain with us on the rent here though. There are a lot of houses for rent, and rents are dropping like crazy. He didn't want us to leave, but wouldn't drop our rent either. He apparently isn't aware that there are 2 other rentals sitting vacant on this street for the same price we're paying, and that are bigger than this one. I have a feeling he WILL have to come down on rent to get this place occupied.

At any rate, the thought of moving again after just 8 months is just not something I relish, but after moving 6 times in the last 10 years, I guess I'm getting used to it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

B-day and F-day

...or birthday and Father's day for you people who don't care for abbreviations.

Saturday was Nat's 7th birthday (and my sister's blankity-blanketh birthday). Nat wanted breakfast in bed. Here she is enjoying strawberry waffles while the dog demonstrates amazing restraint.

Showing that she does share more than a birthday with her Auntie, Nat wrote a list (several days in advance I might add), to show in what order she would open her cards and presents. Auntie is the queen of organizing and list-making and somehow that seems to have transferred to Nat's genetic makeup.

Being 7, she's now old enough to appreciate the beauty of cold hard cash.

And LOVED her very own horse set from Auntie and Uncle Dave.

I took her on a mystery trip to get her present. She thought I was going to make her go to a different part of the store while I bought her present, but she was surprised when I stopped in front of the bikes and told her to pick one out. She then surprised me by NOT picking the pink one. Yes, this one has pink on it, but I thought for sure she'd go with the most girly one.

For Father's day, the girls planned and cooked dinner for Dad. They grilled steak and chicken, made fruit salad, rice and corn on the cob. Yum!
Dad likes a little pepper on his dinner, can you tell? (Even on the fruit salad! Ew!)

That was our weekend. Gotta love those B-days and F-days!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

End of the School Year Funnies

This year the younger girls' elementary school did a yearbook. It was soft cover and only $20 so I got one for them to share. It was really cute and money well spent in my opinion.

Anyway, I was explaining to Nat that she should take the yearbook to school and have her friends sign it. when I picked her up at the end of the day, she says, "I got almost everyone in my class to sign, but I had to sign Mallory and Avery's names because they were absent." I had to chuckle. I guess she doesn't quite get the yearbook concept yet!

Since we moved down the hill, it's been Mike's job to get the girls to school on his way to work. I also put him in charge of getting them ready and out the door since I have been leaving for work before they need to go. The girls know their dad is a complete push-over and they have been taking advantage, though Mike himself is not known for being punctual, so nearly every day the girls are tardy by a few minutes, and this has been going on since November.

Then on Friday, the last day of school, the girls tell me that their dad got an award when he dropped them off in the morning. I really couldn't figure that out. They said the secretary stopped them in the hall and called the principal over and the principal presented their father with a certificate.

Sure enough he has an official "certificate of achievement" from the principal congratulating him on his "efforts and success" in "arriving on time on Thursday". It is signed by the principal as "attendance officer". I'm sure glad our school has a sense of humor and that the office staff was able to have a little fun at Mike's expense. I think we're going to frame it and display it next to his chili cookoff and rib awards.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Graduation Miracle

I'll start this story with a little history. First we've been having kind of weird weather for June. Usually it's already nice and warm and getting hotter by the day, the kids are running through sprinklers, and fans are getting a workout. For the last 2 weeks though, we've been getting afternoon thunderstorms, and the last week we've been getting rain off and on each day.

Well, Sis' graduation was quickly approaching and no one wanted to have to move it indoors to the gym. If that were to happen, each graduate had tickets: 5 tickets to hand out to family members to enter the gym to watch live, and 2 more to allow others to go to the theater and watch on a monitor. Any other spectators would be relegated to watching from tv's in the classrooms. Four years ago this class' middle school graduation was rained out, so everyone was on edge and hoping that wouldn't happen again.
Yesterday we woke to rain...then it stopped and heavy clouds lingered and threatened all day. It looked like things were going to clear as we headed to the high school. To our dismay a huge black cloud hovered over the school. No rain yet, so I prayed it would just keep on moving and take it's precipitation on up the hill.
Alas, it was not to be and about the time we got our blankets laid out and began our hour long wait for the ceremony to begin, the black cloud unleashed it's fury. Gah!
Thankfully the graduates were safe and dry in the gym, but the spectators were not spared. Of course I didn't bring an umbrella, optimist (or fool) that I am. At first it was exciting and funny,

but as the rain continued our spirits were dampened

I was literally soaked through to my underwear; through a coat and a jacket, through my shoes to my soggy socks. I was drenched. Mike arrived and took the girls home to change and to get me some dry clothes as I was to head out to work at Grad Night right after the graduation. (They arrived back a little late, but were able to see Sis get her diploma).
All around we could see the skies clearing, if this cloud would just keep moving....then this started to appear

and just kept getting brighter and more beautiful

and you know how I feel about rainbows

Just about 10 minutes before the ceremony was to start the sky cleared, they dried off the chairs for the graduates, and the ceremony began. I couldn't believe the timing of the storm. Everyone's prayers were answered. Hallelujah!

As we stood for the National Anthem, I realized my body had warmed the puddle of water I was sitting in and it was very uncomfortable to move! I wanted to stay in my nice warm puddle! I'm not sure I can remember a time I was that soaked. As I reflect on it today though, it really made it not only a visual experience, but a very physical one as well. I would not trade my wet undies and shivering body for a dry ceremony and miss out on this special graduation for anything!
Happy graduation, Sis! You did it!