The 7 Days of Halloween – Day 7

31 10 2012

Preparing tofu in Halloween themed, mini-cupcake papers with Halloween toothpicks.

I find that by taking tofu to parties, especially pre-trick-or-treating parties for pre-schoolers, there is NO chance that we will be duplicating someone else’s dish. Moment of pride, while another kid was asking his Dad for candy, Little Dude asked me for tofu.

Self-portrait taken after the party but prior to trick-or-treating.

Beautiful sunset representing the END of this Halloween season, but in reality taken BEFORE we went trick-or-treating.


The 7 Days of Halloween – Day 6

30 10 2012

I think Halloween is now as prolonged as Christmas, but Christmas has way better music.

No matter how many events we skip, there are still a million events we are attending.

I know I sound bitter, actually I am grateful.  I am happy to have friends to hang out with.  I feel lucky to have children healthy enough in all ways to partake in the madness.  In general, they both roll with these types of activities quite well.  I am the one who gets a little nutty.

I feel guilty about all the junk they will eat.  I feel guilty about all their sweets that I will steal and eat myself.  I worry about the child, slave-labor that produced almost every delicious and bad-for-us candy bar.  And I really worry about the message of taking candy from strangers.

Recently we watched a program about stranger danger.  I asked the kids, “What do you SAY if someone you don’t know offers you candy?”

“PLEASE,” shouted Little Dude.  At least he is polite.

PJ said, “Yell ‘No’ and run away.”

I guess I get a 50%.  Do they grade Motherhood on a curve?  For his safety, I am thinking of having them permanently handcuffed together.

Still, we are nearing the end of the “Halloween Season.”  (Let’s all just admit it is no longer a holiDAY.  Let’s accept it is a season and hope someone starts writing some better Halloween music.)

Only one more day to go, which means the only things to get through wonderful opportunities to make memories include a school party, a party at a friends and trick-or-treating.

Give me strength.

Never Would Have Guessed

20 10 2012

SAG is outside raking leaves.

The ponies are playing.

Under the direction of their trainer/mother.

Little Dude is driving.

And it is my favorite time of year.

I am inside, picking up the playroom.

Trying to get it clean enough to vacuum.

Went outside to document this domestic bliss.

Little Dude asked me what I was doing.

I told him I was getting ready to vacuum.

Just like that, I had some help.

In a million years I would not have told you, this is the type of morning that could bring me satisfaction.

Life is surprising.

Having It All

6 08 2012

Good luck to the first person who tells my daughter she can’t have it all.

Making Memories

29 06 2012

Alternative Title:  A Bunch of Pictures to Prove Just How Lucky We Are.

This logo graced the back of the t-shirts we received at Camp Coleman last weekend.

The event absolutely lived up to its billing.

A few weeks ago we submitted a quick application on the blog The Guavaliscious Life.

Soon after, we learned we would join about 20 other families in Missouri, and an equal number in three other states for a one night camping extravaganza.  In addition to being styled out with an amazing eight person tent, a sleeping bag for every member of our family, two air-mattresses, four awesome chairs, and almost every other cool camping accessory you can think of, we had a chance to participate in a great array of activities.

Of course, we went swimming.

Then we tried out the kayaks.

Wow, did they love this.

Experts were on hand to help with everything.  SAG loves to fish, but we both knew it was a smart idea for the kids to take their first lesson from a professional.

Watching your kids learn something new is so cool.

Then they practiced with their Dad.

PJ got the hang of casting pretty quickly, and was content to practice with the small pole that had a rubber fish ALREADY attached to the end.

Little Dude also sat on the banks of the water for some time with his friend.

Then another camper caught a real fish.  Once that happened, Little Dude was no longer content with the rubber fish.  He approached Coach Brad and said, “Where are the worms?”  Brad, who is amazing with kids, set Little Dude up with regular tackle and started working him through the process.

Always true to himself, Little Dude grew bored and moved on to other activities.

SAG and PJ took over the rod with the real tackle…. Next thing you know – FISH ON.

A little fear

and a lot of pride.

I remember fishing with my Dad as a kid.  I am thrilled my kids will have similar memories.

In addition to the fishing expert, there was a professional Chef to inspire us and guide us through each meal.

Chef Kevin Nashan of Sidney Street Cafe, St. Louis, provided excellent instructions and was incredibly personable.  He and I chatted while I washed our group’s dishes.  He tried to encourage me to experiment more in the kitchen – I happily washed the dishes and nodded in fake agreement.

SAG and I have been pescatarians since 1995.

We always said we would let our kids decide what they were comfortable eating.

Apparently, Little Dude thinks Pork Fritters are heavenly.

I wasn’t sure that my kids were ready for camping.  PJ has been begging to go for more than a year, but it seemed complicated and the opposite of relaxing.  The truth is, sure we “wanted” to camp, but we really wanted the $1,500 worth of free camping gear for some future date.

Turns out, the free stuff was even better then we expected.

This eight person tent goes from bag to fully functional in about 60 seconds.

And it is about the size of our first apartment in Vancouver, B.C.

Back-packing is an amazing way to get out in nature.  But being firmly planted in Missouri, with two small children, car camping is our new reality.

Now we have the chairs, the air-mattresses, the tent, the sleeping bags and all the other swag to make every trip exceptional.  However, you know you have joined the elite when you have a light/fan for your tent.  Hallelujah!  (It might be a terrible picture but it is a blessed invention.)

I know you are jealous at this point.  How could you not be?  But I want to emphasize, one more time, the swag was nothing compared to how much fun we had.

As we settled down to sleep (for the second time – because the first time was a bust and was just a prelude to another hour around the campfire eating s’mores and playing with glow-in-the-dark necklaces) PJ  kept repeating, “I can’t BELIEVE we are REALLY camping.”

Little Dude was not so verbal.  Instead, he was jumping on our two new air-mattresses.  Then, all of a sudden, he was snoring.  I am not exaggerating when I say, I believe he fell asleep mid-air.

The goal of the partnership between National Wildlife Federation and Coleman is to get kids outside and having fun.

Camp Coleman was amazing for our family, but there were a few opportunities that our kids were too young to take advantage of ie:  horseback riding and the guided nature walk.  Since we returned, I’ve been thinking how incredible this program would be for a family with school-age kids who love video-games and watching television.  The chance to enjoy the outdoors with Coleman’s wonderful staff making everything easy for Mom and Dad is too great to pass up.  I would be shocked if the screen-addicted child did not find a new appreciation for swimming, boating or just running wild and being loud.

The Coleman staff went above and beyond to meet everyone’s needs – and they did it with smiles on their faces.  This event taught us that our family IS ready to camp, and that whatever efforts we have to make to get outside will be more than worth it.  And, honestly, Coleman turned our family into loyal customers.

Thank you, Coleman.

* For the record:  I was just a regular, ole’ participant in this event.  I have no arrangement with Coleman or anyone else to be going on ad nauseum about this event.  If I was going to have an agreement with someone, it should be a Syllabus company, because I have run out of ways to say “Awesome, great, amazing, wonderful…”

What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been

20 06 2012

25 years ago we started dating. This is the summer he lifted weights to impress me. I am more impressed now then I was then… proof that youth is wasted on the young.

14 years ago today we got married.

This morning he was late for work because I insisted on taking this picture (and 100 other pictures until I got one I liked.)

“She Shouldn’t Be An Only Child,” He Said.

7 05 2012

PJ was born seven weeks before my 41st birthday.  When she turned four-months-old, SAG announced, she shouldn’t be an only child.  That began a year of soul searching… if we were going to add to our family, what route should we take?  Eventually the idea of adopting from Ethiopia was rooted firmly in our hearts and minds and we marched down the path.

Two years ago today, PJ finally met her younger brother in person.

Yesterday morning they asked me to take their picture.