Sunday, July 31, 2016

Let me give you a tour

Tater has been keeping us giggling this week.

Tater had a new friend over to our house, and she was very pleased to give her the grand tour.  I couldn't help eavesdropping.  "This is the mudroom, and don't eat that brown stuff.  It's dog food."  The guest nodded solemnly and promised not to eat it.

T:  Do you know that ladybugs can make a stinky smell?
M:  No, I never noticed.
T:  Mrs. G said that when a bird, like a kookaburra, tries to eat the ladybug, the ladybug makes a stink.  I think it's like the ladybug is pop-poppin'!  And the bird says, 'Eww, that's too stinky!'  (eruption of giggles)

Tater and the Nugget were playing on the couch at maximum silliness, when Spork decided to join them. Spork tripped a bit on the pillows and blankets involved in the scenario, and Tater said, "Awww, c'mon up here, you big buddy!"

Tater saw a man who reminded me of Hulk Hogan in the parking lot.  He was wearing an American flag bandanna tied around his head.  She shouted, "Look!  There's Captain America!"

Today, she mused, "Why are people bald?  Is it because they don't want to be hairy?"

Monday, July 18, 2016


Did I tell you that Spork got an actual diagnosis of SPD and ADHD?  I'm still learning and researching the ADHD component, but I've found a great support group!  

Fitting that extra piece into Spork's puzzle has made his life and ours much better already.  One of the things we are doing to help meet Spork's needs is hippotherapy, in other words, horseback riding therapy.  We are lucky to have an accredited PATH stable in our hometown, and Spork is loving his lessons so far.  As a teen, I volunteered at 2 different therapeutic stables (then called NARHA) and was blown away at witnessing how children progressed with the magical addition of a horse friend.  Feeling really thankful for the volunteers and donors who make this magic possible.

Blueberry Ranch

It's blueberry season again, and we got our first haul last week.  You can see the humidity in the photos!  This year, Spork and Tater became legit berry pickers, with plenty of ripe berries in their little buckets at the end of the trip.  Spork repeatedly called for me to, "Look how many I got!"

There was momentarily gloominess when we realized the current picking patch was walkable without a tractor ride.  But joy was restored when big brother offered a ride in the farm wagon!

Random PSA:  I might be one of the only Americans still using a point and shoot, but I just discovered a valuable tip site when my lens got stuck!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Nugget, 9 years

Dear Nugget,

I asked you for one last 8yo hug last night.  I am usually pretty upbeat about aging children - the fact they are growing up means I'm doing a pretty swell job keeping them alive, right?!  Plus, each new year hails fresh milestones, deeper conversations, and an ever-emergent personality.  But 9 seems so much older than 8.  It's officially older kid territory.  And we're taking the first baby steps into the bittersweet letting go.

I'm thankful for your Peter Pan-like nature.  The way you tap dance to your own beat.  Your laugh that still lights up the room.  The way you feel all the feelings, unabashedly.  The way you walk into a room with one intention and make three new discoveries on your roundabout way.  The way you teach, lead, protect, and love.  The way you come into things in your own time.  Your insightful consideration for all humankind.

You gave me the gift of motherhood when it felt like an impossible dream.  You teach me patience for the things that must be done on a clock I can't control, validation and appreciation for my own big feelings, and a magnifying glass to see the tiny wonders of the world that we adults forget.

You greeted me this morning, "Mommy, do you want your first 9 year old hug?"  Of course I did!  And you know what?  9 is pretty awesome too.

Love,  Mommy

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Nugget's Camping Party

The Nugget wanted a camping themed party this year!  This was my 3rd party in a row, so I was trying to make is special yet simple.

Invitation - Shutterfly

Montessori Birthday Shirt - made by drawstring, Etsy
If you don't get it, here's a description of the song children sing all over the country at various Montessori schools.  There are many variations.  At the Nugget's school, they start at their birth month and walk carefully around, matching their path around the sun to the tempo of the song so they wind up at their birth month again for each verse.  I love that it contains a built-in science lesson too!

Paracord Bracelets - easy tutorial here.  These take awhile, so I put them first in the party line up.  I wouldn't try them with younger kids unless you plan to weave them all, but for this age group, they worked great.  One party-goer even made two!

Pitching a "tent" - provide clamps and sheets, and see what happens!  This dome climber was the boys' gift from Grammy and Grandpa.  It's so wonderfully versatile, and the kids were on it and in it all morning.

Straw and mini marshmallow game - challenge kids to use only straws to move mini marshmallows from the table to a cup!  Time them for a minute, then count up the booty!

Roasting marshmallows at the gas stove for S'mores.  I used fondue forks for safety.  Since we did s'mores instead of cake (the Nugget really loves sharing a non-traditional dessert for his birthday parties), I was floundering on how to blow out the candle.  The Nugget came to the rescue by suggesting we would light a sacrificial marshmallow on fire and wish on that!

Trail mix bar - raisins, dried cranberries, Crispix, Rice Chex, pretzel sticks, goldfish, Unreal chocolate candies (hippie m&m's for us crazy people trying to avoid Red 40, and no they don't taste as good).  I set this up at the end so it could be a favor to take home.  Kids scooped their preferred ingredients into paper bags.  This is a fun and cheap party trick we have done before (cowboy party), and it gives you a chance to empty out your pantry!

Mess Hall Menu

Firewood - Pretzel Rods

Wild Berries - Fresh blueberries and strawberries.  It helps that the U-pick blueberry farm opens around the Nugget's birthday each year!  I found that plastic berry basket at Target a few years ago; it's my favorite!

Catch of the Day - Goldfish crackers

Walking Tacos - taco meat in the crockpot, and assorted toppings in a bag of Fritos!  Gosh, partying with 8-9yos is a dream.  They have manners, they squealed over the food labels, they help themselves with serving utensils (mostly), and can ask if they need something!  I love partying with preschoolers too, of course, it is just a bit more...effortless with the bigger kids!

Bug Juice - Limeade and ginger ale with lime sherbert on top

DIY trail mix
The paracord bracelet
Mini camp button - Distinct Designs Unltd.  This seller was fantastic, willing to take out the RV designs and make a custom listing with the exact number of buttons I needed!  I made little paper labels, "Thanks for camping with us!" and glued them to the leftover scrapbook paper from the food labels.  I didn't have enough to mat them, so I just had them trimmed so a little bit of scrapbook paper peeked out from the left side of the label, like a mini flag.

Welcome to Camp Nugget sign - I simply wrote fat letters on posterboard and hot glued twigs from the backyard around the edges.  It was too wide to hang with a single string, so I punched two holes at the top corners and made long yarn loops.  I then attached two 3M hooks upside down on the opposite side of the door to hang the sign flat.

I ripped up some corrugated cardboard and used a Sharpie to make an Outhouse sign for the restroom.

Food labels printed in Dionisia.  We also rounded up all the woodland critters, both plastic and stuffed, as well as raided Spork and Tater's camping kits for decorations.

I borrowed my school's wonderful log holders for signage.  Others I taped to clean bamboo skewers and stuck in the food dishes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Flashlights and 'Squito Bites


Why can I not shine the flashlight in my eyes?  Because they will pop out and fly away?!

The monster clowns came last night and put bugs in my pillowcase!  I don't like that!

Sister Duck rode her bike without a helmet, and fell, and her head fell right off!


I have dees 'squito bites.  Dem itchy.  When dey gonna pop off?

the Nugget:

While taking care of a swarm of flies that had invaded our new building, I suggested we swat the one we could reach and get fly traps to catch the rest.  The Nugget queried, "Venus fly traps?!"

The Nugget is almost baffled that the library wants to give him prizes just for reading.  He has logged something crazy like 1600 minutes already.  I fear he is going to win that Cozy Coupe on display, but he already said, "Oh don't worry.  If I get the Cozy Coupe, I will just sell it like in Henry Huggins!"

Because of all the reading, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he continues to talk like a storybook character:

This summer sure is full of surprises!

Today has been full of twists and turns!

When I woke up, I could hardly believe my eyes!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Spork, 5 years

Dear Spork,

I know my other two children almost inside and out.  You are a mysterious onion, and I am delighted each time a new layer is revealed to me.  I have always had to work harder for you, dig deeper, and for that I am a better person.  I listed some wonderful things I have discovered about you this year.

Love, Mommy

10. You see feelings in colors.  After eating salty popcorn at the ballpark, you shouted, "My lips are yellow, they are yellow!"  When I showed you in the mirror that they were not yellow, you shook your head and sighed, "They FEEL yellow, Mommy.  They hurt, they feel yellow. My lips are yellow."

9.  You love doing worksheets!  You will sit at the table with a Kumon book and attempt to do the whole thing in one sitting.  I'm not a fan of workbooks, but am happy to support your personal loves.

8.  T-ball makes you happy.  You are Mr. Team Sports.  Camaraderie, athletics, treat's pretty good stuff in your book.  I'm so lucky to be cheering you on from the stands!

7.  Check the meter.  You expect pretty much any fun experience to clock out at 2h, no matter how much fun you were previously having.  Come the 2h mark, "When we gonna go home?  I wanna leave noooowwww!"

6.  You love giving your sister piggyback rides.  You can open the garage door by yourself.  You are like a circus strong man!

5.  While your brother and sister love Top 40 hits, you are an 80's music fan all the way.  John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, and Journey make you rock out in the car.

4.  You love to have "brudder time" with the Nugget.  When he includes you, you are so proud and try your best to follow all the rules, no matter how ridiculous.

3.  You feign helplessness but you are really so smart and capable.  When we're watching, your clarion call is, "I caaaannn't!" but if we turn away, we see you accomplishing so much!  We are proud of you (but promise not to make eye contact about it).

2.  You and your guys are attached at the hip.  It doesn't really matter which guys, but I better make sure to pack all their accoutrements.  I accidentally put an Imaginext knight in my purse for you but when I pulled it out, you looked me in the eye and asked, "Where's his horse??"

1.  You want your space but not too much space.  I'm learning to stay a few yards away so you can show me something new but not so close that you feel I'm smothering you.  I've almost mastered your, "No kisses til bedtime," rule, but gosh that's a tough one with your still-delectable cheeks!  You want your siblings nearby but you don't want them to play with you unless you invite them.  It's a delicate dance, and we're all trying to figure out our moves.  As an extrovert, it's been helpful to me to learn how to step back and offer love through observation instead of participation.

Here's to 5 years, Spork!  We love you!

Spork's Robot Party

Spork loves so many things that it was hard to narrow down a theme for his party this year.  Superheroes? Octonauts? Construction? Dinosaurs?  When I opened up his summer clothes bin, I found a forgotten brand new robot birthday t-shirt that Grammy had picked up for him on sale a long time ago - perfect!  Off to Pinterest to find the right combination of adorable and easy decorations and activities.  We actually hosted 2 parties this year, one at home for his birthfamily and one at my new preschool for his buddies.

Invitation - Shutterfly

Dryer vent wreath - inspired from Catch My Party

Art Bot - inspired by Hands On as We Grow. He's just a Solo cup with markers attached.  I turned on the Nugget's HexBugs and slipped them underneath to make him vibrate and spin.

Robot Party Hats - inspired by Handmade Charlotte.  Pre-cut paper shapes, glue sticks, metallic party hat pack from Target, and silver pipecleaners.

Favors - mini robot claws from Target's party section doubled as a game - pick up the foil balls!

Food for Kids' Party
Nuts and Bolts - Honey Nut Cheerios (Spork's favorite cereal) and mini stick pretzels
Microbytes - Fresh fruit skewers
Computer Chips - Cheez-Its, tortilla chips with homemade guac
Battery Cells - chicken nuggets
Refueling Station - lemonade, water, iced tea
I made wedge salads for the adults but won't do that again - too hard to cut with plastic flatware!

We sent everyone home with face painting, the robot arm, and a party blower served in a can robot (nuts for eyes, a paperclip for a mouth).

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

4H Fair 2016

Oh 4H fair, how do we love thee?  Let me number the ways.

1.  Munchkins on the Midway day.  Free entry for kids, half price entry for adults.  $12 wristbands for unlimited kiddy rides for 3 blissful hours!

2.  Bumping into friends!  Hooray for life in a smallish city!

 3.  Big boys who can still squeeze into kiddy rides and who can now fasten seat belts and reassure little sibs.

4. Brother-sister joined at the hip, squabbling frequently but still take turns letting each other drive. 

 5.  This cow, who makes the kids giggle every year.  Spork usually prefers to do his giggling from a safe distance.

 6.  Tater meets the live versions of Duck Sister and Sister Duck.

7.  Tater posing as an actual tater.

8.  Bring me your weak, your dehydrated, and let me fork over $3 for ice, lemon juice, sugar, and water.  Worth every penny.  Fair lemonade really is the best, even if it's just because we're so hot and tired.