Friday, May 29, 2009

Super surprise Friday: bucket of fun

Some summer fun ideas:

Take a beach bucket. Fill with water guns, water balloons, sidewalk chalk, magnifying glass, jacks, jump rope, construction paper, bubbles, puzzle, Frisbee and whatever else you can fit inside.

Instant summer boredom buster. Not that we're bored, but I'm sure the time will come when one or the other will need an idea. (And you can get most, if not all at the dollar store and split between friends.)

I made up two: One for my girls, one for a family friend. Lanie enjoyed running it to their house, in the fog, all before 7 a.m.


I made them up last night. I left the one for our friends out. When Lanie woke me up at 6:30 (this after I woke up at 2:30 a.m., and made the mistake of trying to fall back to sleep at 5), she was all, "It's Super Surprise Friday!"

"Mmm, hmph," I mumbled.

"Mommy. Want to wake up now," Erin said.

Note to self: next time I wake up in the middle of the night, unless I try to go back to sleep within the hour, just stay awake. Now I feel like I have a head full of sand.

Lanie spied the bucket.

"Who's that for?" she asked. After I told her, she said, "I wish we could have one."

I wasn't sure I was going to give them theirs today or save it for another Friday, but I walked out with one in my hands and the girls squealed and giggled. Both are happily occupied.

Happy Friday.

Around the house

Another day inside. Erin's sporting her fourth day of sick with stuffy nose and (as of today) cough. I want to keep her in and make sure there's time for a long nap. Still, she's been full of energy, treating me to songs of rhyme (1, 2, buckle my shoe), scooter feats, and emptying the box of Saxon Math manipulatives. It seems dreary days are the perfect days for dominoes and bear counters on picnic. At first, I gave her four bears to play with. Then I just handed her the entire bag.

"Ooh!" she said, dumping the bag's contents in her lap. "Big mess!" And then she got up and ran off to see what Lanie's up to.


Lanie blew through the entire bag of library books. But as a courtesy to us, she let Shane read a book to her. Lanie sat next to him as he began the story about The Berenstein Bears. In this book, there was some pretty snarky language. Shane attempted to gloss over it with softer speak.

"That's not what it says!" Lanie told him. Our days of censorship are over.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The return of super surprise Friday

Beautiful weather called for outside enjoyment. We took a neighborhood walk, but the surprise came after lunch with ice cream cones (with hidden cherry inside) and then some fun in the sprinkler. A hit with both girls. Both were very happy. And thankful.

That's when Super Surprise Friday goes well. Afterall, the point is to have fun and be thankful. It doesn't always go that way, but so far, things are looking good! You just can't go wrong with ice cream and sprinklers.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Field day

Yesterday was Field Day at the academy. Great weather, lots of fun activities like: drip, drip, drop (which is like duck, duck, goose, except with water), soccer dribble, musical chairs, sack races and dodge ball for the younger grades. There was also a moonbounce and face painting. And after a busy morning of moving about, the kids got popsicles.

Erin was my shadow for most of the morning as I went around and snapped pictures. From about nine to noon, she was a good trooper, but the constant busyness was a bit much for her. So it was nice when the school did races and I could sneak off with another mom of a little and enjoy some moonbounce time.

One mom brought in barn kittens. Erin was captivated. Way better than the caterpillar we sat and watched for fifteen minutes. This little kitty curled right up in Erin's arms and meowed, eventually falling asleep. Erin says, "Kitty like me." She held that kitty gently and lovingly petted it and gazed at it.

It was heartbreaking to take the kitten away when it was time to go. Erin was visibly and audibly shaken. Even at bedtime, her last thoughts about the kitty weren't how cute it was, or how much it liked her. No, they were, "Mommy took away." Insert pout.

Lanie had a blast jumping, running, popsicle-ing. Windows down as we drove out of the parking lot, we called out happy summer wishes to our friends. I even felt a tinge of sadness pulling away from these families I've come to recognize, and some I've gotten to know better. I felt a tug at my heart that the first year of school was over and Lanie would be coming back an older child in first grade. I tried to breathe in every detail of the moment, her last day in kindergarten, the last day of school, spectacular weather, tired faces, the smell of sunscreen, crunching pretzels, gentle breeze.

I drove slowly away.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Lanie graduated kindergarten today. It was a sweet show. Poetry readings, songs in Spanish, question and answer time, sign language, art display, condensing a year's worth of memories into an hour presentation. The kids were all excited to leave kindergarten behind and move on. I was feeling ready to move on too, feeling over the school year myself after our review with the county. But I suppose as Lanie enters first grade in the fall, I will remember her first day going into kindergarten and wonder where the time went. I will think of how big she is and how grown up she's becoming.

Years ago, I never would have imagined myself to be a homeschooling mom. So it surprised me that we'd even consider it, and it surprised me more that we were going to do it. Homeschooling went from being a last resort for us to first choice. In our first year, I have no regrets. Lanie has enjoyed the split between academy and homeschool. She thrives in the small classroom environment. At home, she is self-motivated to work. We have easy days. We have goofy days. We have frustrating days. We have days where we both grumble through the load. And it's on these frustrating and grumbling days that I'm actually most thankful to have her at home, so that we can tackle issues head on, whether through talks or cuddles or prayer. Homeschooling has been a very good choice for us.

Erin is growing up too. At two and a half, she's already interested in what her peers are up to. So when some friends were scootering along, Erin had to give it a shot and she was hooked. We got her scooter today. Shane assembled it and she was off. First across the kitchen floor, then out to the world. She wanted to go for a walk and scooter along beside me, just like her big sister always does. Go, Erin, go. As cute as she is outfitted in her helmet and pads, scootering beside me like such a big girl, there's a part of me that wants to scoop her up and say, "Slow down! It's not a race!"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Super surprise

Last summer, in desperation, I coined the term Super Surprise Friday to rid our home of summer doldrums. Then, every Friday I planned a new activity (it could have been a playdate, a treat, a special outing to the movies, petting zoo, park), kept it a secret till that morning (or sometimes until we were there), and prepared for loads of fun. It wasn't always fun, despite my best intentions, because sometimes it's hard planning an activity that meets fun expectations.

Lanie's finished with the academy next week. In fact, after last night's school Spring Program, we are looking forward to Kindergarten Graduation on Monday and Field Day on Wednesday. I'm thinking ahead to summer plans now and wondering if I should try to recreate a Super Surprise day. I'm thinking yes.

On really hot days, what's not to like about sprinklers with friends, a run to the snowball stand, or an afternoon movie in a cooled theater?

On a low humidity day, wouldn't it be fun to pick berries at the local pick-your-own farm and then bring home the bounty for fun with whipped cream or muffins? How about a bike ride on a local trail, a walk through the woods to discover new things, or do I dare attempt another trip to the petting zoo?

Rainy day forecasts could be great days for popsicle stick crafts, tie dying, a build-your-own ice cream sundae, indoor picnics with friends, rollerskating in the basement!

I'm excited about the possibilities. But then, I always am.

Any suggestions?

Friday, May 15, 2009


Shane celebrates another birthday this weekend.

"Mommy, will Daddy be 42 on his birthday?" Lanie asks from the back seat. We're on the way to the mall to select a gift for him.

"Thats OLD!" she exclaims. Then, "And you're still 39?"

"Yes," I say, feeling pleased I am still in my thirties. While not dreading forties, I'm going to enjoy being the young one in the family. At least until I hear Lanie say, "That's OLD!"

We had a mission to get a gift for Shane, the hardest person in the world to buy for. I had a few errands to run as well, and a couple of shops to browse through windows. Lanie fingers fabrics in the women's shops, "Are you getting Daddy this shirt?" Um. No.

We select his gift and head out to the carousel. I couldn't resist going by and I had my camera on me, hoping my kids would look in my direction so I could get a good shot. Often, they see the camera and look everywhere BUT at me. In fact, I typically shoot about 300 pictures and get about five brag-worthy ones. Thank goodness for digital technology. I have saved a small fortune in developing fees.

I call Shane later to tell him about the carousel. I ask, "Have you had cake yet today?" His office celebrates every birthday.

"Not yet," he said. Then, "You're not getting me a cake are you?" He hates a fuss.

"What if we just showed up at the office and sang to you there?" I tease.

"Are you?"

"No. I've got to get the kids home and fed for my nail appointment at one," I explain.

Mock indignation, he says, "I'm glad you're treating yourself to a manicure for my birthday."

My pleasure.

Read to me

We went to the library on Tuesday. We fill up a large tote with books every time we go. I used to spend so much time a day reading next to Lanie. Now, it's just at bedtime, and I suspect she lets me do it because she likes the closeness, not because she needs me to read to her.

She's already blown through 18 books in the bag. I had selected every book for her, for us to read, while she and Erin played in the library play area. I never got to sit and enjoy a story from this bag, except for the board books I read to Erin.

I'm so glad Lanie's a reader, but I miss that time together, sharing stories. Sometimes she reads to me while I'm making dinner--mostly she reads for her own pleasure, book after book.

I'm thankful she still lets me read to her at bedtime. I will cherish that time as long as it lasts.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

To do

  • look at mosquitos on windows
  • play Polly Pockets swim ship
  • run around
  • finger paint
  • play in water
  • play Elefun butterfly shooter until the motor breaks
  • blow bubbles outside
  • lunch
  • read Clifford the Big Red Dog touch and feel book three times in a row
  • eat Flavor Ice
  • cuddle and take nap
  • get kids from school
  • eat popcorn
  • play at friends' house, ride scooter
  • come home and do a quick vacuum, kitchen clean up and fold laundry so that it looks like I've "done something" today


Fun day with Erin. I'm glad I said yes to many things. She is glad too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Pretty sunny day

I woke up before anyone in the house to a pretty sunny day. What a treat. Baked a loaf of yeast corn bread and made Friendship Salsa (which was an instant hit with the in-laws at the luncheon today). Kids were super helpful getting the house straight, and a surprise by a friend--a basket of flowers--was an instant happy maker and perfect table centerpiece.

Enjoyable visit with family. Warm sun on our faces, watching kids play. Who knew a tub of ice could be so captivating? Lots of laughter and smiles. Shadows holding hands through the grass on the way to the playset: mother and child. A walk through the neighborhood. Lanie biked. I pulled Erin in a wagon and held my husband's hand. Love.

Readying for bed. Stories to Lanie. Kisses. Cuddles. Erin chatted on and on about the bubbles Lanie gave her. Lanie explained, "You can play with them outside on a sunny day." Erin echoed the anticipation, "Pretty sunny day." Pretty much the last words on her lips as she fell asleep to dream about bubbles dancing. Her own words. Bubbles dancing.


Pretty sunny day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Shared salsa ... the foundation of friendship

I have secretly dreamed of a neighbor like my sister had when she lived in South Carolina. While my Renee has been elusive, I think I caught a glimpse of her in a new friend who surprised me with a generous serving of really great homemade salsa. She even shared the recipe.

This is good stuff. I nearly ate it all for dinner last night, but decided to save some so Shane could taste it. I have renamed the salsa because I'm a hopeful and sentimental dork.

Friendship Salsa

2 (28oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 jalapeno peppers minced (remove seeds for a milder salsa)
1 sm onion diced
1 tb ground cumin
2 cloves garlic minced
¾ of a bunch of cilantro chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and Pepper to taste

Friday, May 1, 2009

In my steps

I figured the only way I was going to benefit from the exercise disks I bought would be to first open the package. Today I did a balance ball work out after schooling Lanie and while Erin napped. My balance ball is purple. Lanie pulled out her purple ball and copied my movements right alongside me. She was full of giggles. Me, not so much. I suspect I'll be limping tomorrow.

Fast forward to after Erin wakes up. She sits in my lap for cuddles and as I'm sitting and holding her, I see the mess of crumbs on the kitchen floor. Lanie is on the couch reading her Big Picture Story Bible. I get the Swiffer and start sweeping up. I hear Lanie chattering as she's reading out loud. Some words catch my ear.

"God ... chatter, chatter ... Elijah ... chatter, chatter ... fire from the sky," she's saying to herself.

I stop in my tracks.

"Lanie, are you reading about Elijah?" I ask.

"Yes," she says.

"And the fire coming from the sky," I continue.


"I just read that today too!" I tell her. She is full of smiles. Me too. It's part of my Bible in a year plan and blogging book club, you know, 66 Books. Of course, she cruised to 2 Kings effortlessly because of the abridged storylike Bible she's reading. It's taken me five months to get where I am. And I might have skipped a part or two along the way.

I think it's funny and sobering at the same time, how she watches me and imitates me. Her kids will love chocolate chip, white chip cookies. I hope she also continues in her faith and teaches it to her kids as well. And I hope her kids don't mind when she drops them off at a birthday party a week earlier than the actual time. My mom did it to me. I almost did it to Lanie. (Thanks for the heads up, Beckie!)