Sunday, June 29, 2008

Middle Girl

She is having fewer crying jags, and I'm seeing more smiles! We're coming along.

She is eating better, but strangely she has proclaimed that she will not eat pasta or dessert until Kindergarten starts, because she is nervous. Her mind is unchanged about this, even after five days of it.

I don't know what to make of it.

I'm off to rehearsal now; we're working on new songs and I've got Michelle Branch, Stevie Nicks, Carrie Underwood, and Evanescence to sing (as well as high parts on Earth, Wind & Fire, among others)! Ta ta!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Home again

So. I'm back!

My trip was great... I have so many thoughts swimming around in my head that writing a post is daunting. I'll put off writing about MY week away until later. ....

I was away from my kids for seven days, which is longer by far than I have ever been away from them before. I did FINE. It was great to have a break! I have full and complete faith in my Mom, so I didn't have to worry. You know what? I actually had a vacation from my job for the first time in EIGHT YEARS!

Two of my three children also handled it fine. They had a few tearful moments of missing Mommy and Daddy, but on the whole they were able to sleep and go about their days (in a 100+ degree heat wave, sorry about that Mom!) as usual.

My Middle Girl had some trouble. She cried a lot. She had trouble sleeping, both at night and at naptime. She had a tummyache and couldn't eat.

She is recovering from the sleep-deprivation and her emotions are right on the surface. She'll cry at the drop of a hat and still has no appetite.

Poor thing, she is going through some changes right now - so it's no wonder. She is acutely aware right now that preschool is over and her preschool friends are not going to Kindergarten with her. Her Mom and Dad leave for a trip and then her Grandma goes back home. Her best friend is in Texas for three weeks.

What she needs is lots of Quiet Time with Mommy. Mommy is more than happy to oblige!

We'll get things back on track!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Off to Quebec!

The Hubby and I are headed to Quebec this morning! This trip is our 10th Anniversary gift to each other, finally taking place a month after our 11th Anniversary!

It's rainy there, but I don't care, I'm just so looking forward to this adventure with him.

I hope to be leisurely and relax, see the beautiful cities, eat some good food, head out for a drive to see some of the countryside, and just enjoy each other's company.

I've never been away from my children for more than two days, so it'll be interesting to see how everyone handles it! Good thoughts, please!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The toes!

I am doing a bunch of work organizing my digital photos these days, and I came across this picture, taken three years ago today:

This picture makes both my heart and my uterus tighten up to a full-blown clench, and then convene to engage in a serious discussion.

Seriously, I can't breathe right now. Could you just die?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Goodbye, Hello

Goodbye, huge-ass heavy TV and enormous entertainment center cabinet thing handed down from Hubby's Grandma

Hello, new widescreen flat TV, console, towers, and floor lamp! Now I need to stylishly arrange some stuff on the tower shelves...

Oh, and hello, coffee table crappe

Goodbye, unattractive old patio set by the pool (this is actually a picture from before we owned the house- our old patio set was white, plastic, and handed down from my FIL -- so ugly I guess I never felt the need to photograph it)

Hello, inviting gazebo area and sectional outdoor furniture!

Looks like a good spot for a nap!

Goodbye, diaper bag! How happy I am to say those words! (My youngest has been potty-trained for almost a year. But I carried emergency pull-ups (and other toddler crappe) around for a LOOOONG time. This habit died hard.)

at least it was black

HELLOOOO new purse! Hellloooo, walking around looking like a normal person! (If only it had a shoulder strap. I have a few handbag requirements and I find it difficult to satisfy all of them simultaneously: shoulder strap, able to stand up and retain its shape when I put it down, open (so I can just reach in), pockets for keys and phone so I can grab them easily... this is only missing the shoulder strap.)

It is 9 inches by 9 inches. That's not big, y'all!

Yes, I am showing you the contents of my not-a-diaper-bag!
Keys, Phone, Wallet, Sunglasses, Tissues, Small Bag (containing Band-aids, Comb, Chapstick, Ponytail-Holders, Sunblock), Paper & Books to give bored children, Notebook/Pen/Pencil for me, Children's Health Records, Gift Cards & Coupons, Water & Emergency Fruit Snacks, Wet Wipes, Supplies for a Potty-related Accident (Empty Ziplocs, Boy and Girl undies, one pair of shorts)
She looks like a happy-go-lucky lady, but a peek inside reveals that she's definitely a mom!

Goodbye, crib!

Hello, toddler bed! (Yes, he is nearly three-and-a-half. Yes, he is my baby. Don't judge.)

Goodbye, potty seat!

Hello, Boy who can use the potty without a potty seat and without assistance!

Now pretend I didn't put my toilet on my blog

Goodbye, Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzels! I have a weakness for you and I must say goodbye, as I am powerless to resist you if you are in my home.

Hello, Rainier Cherries! I have a weakness for you as well, and since you are a seasonal morsel of Nirvana, I will partake of your perfect sweetness! (Seriously, it is a cherry with a firm skin and yellow meat (no mess!), and it is the BEST.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

things that make me both sad and happy

Middle Girl won't be coming home with sand in her shoes anymore when she moves up to Kindergarten.

The Boy is pronouncing his 'r's properly.

My brother and his wife found a place to live. (They are moving from Massachusetts to about an hour drive from me. I am SO happy about that! But I wanted them to have to stay at my house for a little while when they got here.)

Today was the last day of school. (HOORAY for a relaxed schedule! But the years are flying by.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

"Jack" and the Beanstalk

At Parent Ed in mid-to-late-April, the special activity was planting bean seeds in a plastic bag. The Boy planted his seeds in the soil against the side of the baggie, so that he could see them sprout. It was fun to watch their roots sprout, followed shortly by their stems. After a while, they looked like this:

Mommy figured they were probably too big for the baggie, and it was time to plant them outside. Since they were pole beans, Mommy had to first get them something to climb on. Soon, The Boy and Mommy got to work:

(photos by Middle Girl)

Here is how they looked that first morning (May 7), right after the transplant from the baggie:

Then, they withered. I think I transplanted them too late; they really did not do well for a couple of weeks. I thought I would be buying a new climbing plant for that pot.

But then, things started looking better! On May 27, I could see that they were going to make it, so I fastened them to the trellis with red twist-ties:

They really responded to the trellis! They sent vines up the poles, as you can see in this photo from June 4:

I loved watching them climb up the poles. They seemed to really respond to the feel of the poles, growing around and around the poles as if enveloping them in an ever-tighter hug. Just like children, they flourish when their sense of touch is triggered. You can see it in this photo:

These next two photos were taken on June 10. They have grown taller than the trellis. Now what are they going to do?

And this photo was taken on June 12. The vines growing over the top of the trellis are even longer, and are growing around each other as if the other vines are the poles! Now they're hugging each other!

But where will they go from here?

Hey, "Jack's" Beans! It's time to stop growing up and start growing beans, whadda ya say?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A real Goodbye today

Today was the last day of The Boy's Parent Ed class. Not only that, it was MY last Parent Ed class, after nearly eight years.

Our local community college has been offering free Parent Ed classes for something like 40 years. The class is three hours long, and consists of free play with special art activities available, then Song/Story time, then Snack time, and then Discussion time. While the teacher and the parents are discussing parenting topics ("How to Say No," "Pottytraining," "Strategies for Holiday Celebrations," "Taking Time for Yourself," etc.), the children are having more free play, supervised by that day's group of Helper Parents.

The classes were a sanity-saver for me during the first-baby/toddler days, when I felt like I needed someplace to go and DESPERATELY needed to talk to other adults! As a stay-at-home mom with no family around, I cannot overstate how much I needed those discussions (particularly the advice from moms with older children), as well as the bonding with other moms that happened informally during class!

When I brought my second- and third- children to Parent Ed, I enjoyed being the "mom with older children" who could share my experiences with the newer moms. It was so nice to just enjoy the time spent with my child and contribute to discussion, no longer being the one saying "I think I'm doing everything wrong! Help me!"

The Boy's teacher this year has been "Teacher Judy." I have been in her class with all three of my children, at some age level or another. I gave her a note today, in which I wrote about all that I have gained by taking her classes.

The Boy picked out a gift for her: A Parrot puppet and a Hermit Crab puppet.

"Teacher Judy" has the most unique Song Time. From her funny versions of "Open and Shut Them" and "If You're Happy and You Know It" (the kids' favorite is "If You're Scared and You Know It") to her many puppets and the songs she has made up about them, it seems to have been The Boy's favorite part of class.

Normally a painfully shy child, even with old friends, he loves those puppet songs so much that he actually sings them! Out loud! and goes up to the front to give them a pat! With other kids around!

So you can see what it meant to him, and to me, to give "Teacher Judy" a couple of new puppets. She could definitely see it -- she told us that when she makes up songs for these new puppets, she will mail them to us. And she told me that she noticed that he came out of his shell for the puppets and their songs; and she really loved seeing that side of him. She is a special person.

Some of the puppets The Boy loved this year are:

I have patches on my eyes, I have stripes on my tail
Some say that I'm a thief, but I've never been in jail
I sleep all day and I wake with the moon
Who Am I? .... I'm a raccoon!

Three Nice Mice
Three Nice Mice
See how they run
See how they run
They're always polite when they nibble their cheese
They never forget to say "Thank you" and "Please"
They cover their mouths whenever they sneeze
Three Nice Mice

Oh I'm a Lovely Green Iguana, sitting in the sun
A Lovely Green Iguana, I smile at everyone
I have a crest running down my back
I eat lots of bugs, and then I take a nap
Oh I'm a Lovely Green Iguana, sitting in the sun
A Lovely Green Iguana, and now my song is done

I have a pet gorilla, Mathilda is her name
Mathilda likes to sing all day, and this is what Mathilda sang:
"Ooh ooh ooh ooh ah ah ah,
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ah ah ah,
Ooh ooh ooh ooh ah ah ah,
Ooh ooh ah ah ah."

"Mmm aa" went the little green frog one day
"Mmm aa" went the little green frog,
"Mmm aa" went the little green frog one day
"Mmm aa mmm aa mmm aa aa aa."
All the other froggies went, "fro dee oh dee oh dee oh,
fro dee oh dee oh dee oh,"
All the other froggies went, "fro dee oh dee oh dee oh,"
Except for the little green frog, who went,
"mmm aa mmm aa mmm aa aa aa."

First he runs and then he walks, in the water, on the rocks.
Eight little legs go clickety-clack, hurry forward, scurry back
Little crabs live by the sea, I watch them and they watch me

Fuzzy little caterpillar, with eyes so big and wide,
Something says, "it's time! It's time! Find a place to hide!"
Stretching and growing and stretching and changing,
Something says, "it's time! It's time! To come outside and fly!
You're a beautiful butterfly!"

Alligator, Crocodile, we are quite alike
If you get too close to us, we will surely bite
Alligator, Crocodile, I'm fast and I am strong
My teeth are sharp, my hide is tough, my tail is very long
Alligator, Crocodile, would you like a ride?
Don't you dare say "yes" to me, or you'll soon be inside

Monday, June 9, 2008

My World Outside

I love flowers. In my mind, my house is surrounded by gardens blooming with flowers during all seasons. There are trees, shrubs, vines, rose bushes, flowers of varying heights complementing each other in a veritable symphony of a garden.

Unfortunately, the reality leaves much to be desired.

Here, I'll show you what I mean!

First of all, take a look at the tree in my front yard. It is glorious!

The reason I'm showing you this tree, which has obviously been here much longer than I have and looks good in spite of me, is because of the dappled shade in the pictures below. I'm sorry it makes it so hard to see, but you don't mind now that you've seen my tree, right?

Now, here is the walk up to my front door. The plants that were here when we bought the house did not last long. I want a lush border here. I've made many attempts, but the soil is inhospitable and the poor plants don't tend to make it. Right now, I've got a few miniature roses in there that are doing alright, so I plan to go get more and fill in more of the blank spots.

There were solar lights in the border along that walkway up there, but in the 19 months since we moved in, they have, one by one, been kicked over by a running child or my klutzy Hubby. Sorry, walkway lights that are no more!

At the end of the walkway, to the right of the front door, is this bed that I like very much. There are several kind of shrubs, very nicely placed. This was the work of the previous owners (obviously).

Okay, now we really get to it. Now you'll see what happens when I plant a flower bed. It is Oh, So Sad.

This one is particularly bad, because do you see that area under the swing? It gets trampled by the feet of children as they jump on and off the swing, and the plants have completely died there. There's no reason to re-plant; I like that the kids have a tree swing at this house. There'll be time enough for flowers there when they are too old to swing (or out of the house, whichever comes first!)

The picture below is another bed I planted. Again, you can see how pathetic my plants look.

I know, I know, I need to take them out and put in some new plants. But they are still alive! I have a lot of trouble pulling out living plants. In Southern California, we have the nice Mediterranean climate that allows for plants all year long. This means that when the plants would normally be covered in snow and die, instead they get leggy and the blooms go to seed, but the plants stay alive. Ugly, but alive, and I feel for them. I may not look as good as I used to, either!

So what I tend to do is buy new plants and plant them next to the old, ugly ones. Wherever there is space. The bed does not have a good composition that way!

Then whenever I look at it, I think "ugh." But I still can't pull out the older ones!

Okay, so let's move on past those psychological issues.

This is my front doorstep. Sorry about those shadows.

On either side of the steps is a nice pot of giant Impatiens. They were left behind by the previous owners. In the two warm months between their moving out and our moving in, one of the pots died. (This will become a recurring theme.) I went out and bought the closest color I could find for the dead pot.

This is the one that lived (bought by the previous owners). It is leggy! Take a look at those gams! I should prune it back! But I don't like to do that while there are blooms. I'd rather enjoy the color. (Again, here it blooms all year long. I never get around to the pruning.)

That dark blob to the right of the door is a pretty basket I filled with a variety of small potted plants. It looks really nice.

Okay, moving on! Below is the house along that front walkway. We are getting a bench to go under the windows. One of these days. (I'll leave it to you to supply my tone.)

There were matching tree-shrub thingys in both pots (like the one on the right), but one died during the between-owner months. I looked for another one. I took a sprig to the nursery. They had no idea what it was. The pot on the left sat empty for a year and a half, looking very lame. Finally, some beans were planted there on a little climber. At least it is not empty anymore!

Let's go around to the back yard. This is the back porch. It is looking good!

There's the plant I found at IKEA on our nice, new teak table set. There's the two miniature citrus trees flanking the steps. There's the fancy pansies in the white pot that my mom planted for me. Nice. I'd like some kind of climber on that back trellis, and just... more, but it actually looks pretty good.

Here is an interesting spot:

The previous owners had daisy bushes here. I hate daisy bushes. I was not sad when they were ripped out by the termite repairs (part of escrow) to the wall behind the bushes. I made a plan to put an arbor in the middle, with a bench under, roses climbing on the arbor, and a trellis with climbing rose mounted on the wall on either side of the arbor. Then there would be smaller rose bushes planted in front of the trellises and other floral ground cover mixed in as well.

Didn't get around to it, was having a party and wanted something there besides dirt & bought what was on sale to plant there, AND... now they're still alive and blooming and I CAN'T TAKE THEM OUT. It's a sickness, people. They actually look kind of pretty, but I need something vertical there!

And now it seems like there's a gopher or something under there so I've got bigger problems than I thought.

When we bought the house, this pot contained a nice, tall Mexican redbud tree, which is a really beautiful type of tree with variegated bark and reddish buds in the spring-summer. Can you guess what happened? Yes, it was dead by the time we moved in.

Replacing it was not high on my list with all of the moving-in tasks (which are still not finished). After about a year, it sprouted new growth and has come back to life!

That's a great way to end this journey around my "garden." That's a positive note if I've ever heard one!