Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Skirt for Ken

Peanut is obsessed with Barbies. (And Shopkins and My Little Pony and anything super girly and pink and purple with glitter on top.)

It's completely my fault, as I accepted some Barbies from a friend thinking "Oh yes, she might like these someday" and then I bought her a big huge Barbie house for her birthday.

She spends all day asking me to play Barbies. Have you ever played Barbies with a four year old? It is constantly taking off sparkly little jean jackets, putting on sparkly little dresses and being told that 'Barbie doesn't say that' and 'No, she doesn't like to sit on that chair, she likes sitting on this one'.

I'm in Barbie playing hell.

So I jump for joy when our little neighbor girl comes over to play with Peanut and I get a reprieve from the pink glitter. I have often thought of texting her mom just to say "Can A please come over? I need a break from my kids."

The last time they played together, I overheard them arguing over Ken.

"Peanut!" laughed A, "You can't put a skirt on Ken! Boys don't wear skirts!"

"Yes, they do." Peanut said indignantly.

"No they don't! Boys don't wear skirts."

They argued back and forth a few times until Peanut got mad.

"Yes they do!" Peanut shouted. "Boys DO wear skirts. My Uncle Junction wears a skirt!"

I couldn't help but laugh. Kilt, Peanut. It's called a kilt. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Living with a 6 year old

What it's like to live with a 6 year old. 

One day you see this on his door: 

No moms and no sisters allowed. 

The next day he does this: 

He wanted to have them protect me while I sleep. 

Half sweet. Half sour. Part independent. Part little boy. Such is life with a 6 year old. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk

If you've been following the national weather channel, you would know that Phoenix is about to burst into flames. Day after day of record breaking heat. The pools feel like bathwater, opening your front door is like opening the oven door, and - according to one of my neighbors in her golf cart - the breeze is not a breeze at all, but really a blast of air from your hair dryer.

It's hot, people.

After my candles melted on my back patio, we decided it was hot enough to try other experiments.

Is it really hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?

Bjorn with his eggs.

We laid out a spot for three different eggs to see how they would cook. A sheet of aluminum foil in one spot, a Calphalon pan in another, and a spray down of PAM on the sidewalk next to those.

Sooo, the one on the sidewalk got a little messy. Oops.

Bjorn cracked the egg on the sidewalk, and in the pan. Peanut and I cracked onto the aluminum foil.

Then we sat back and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

See, nothing happened. There was no sizzle. No bubbling of edges, or smell of cooking eggs. There were just three eggs sitting on our back patio and two kids complaining about how how it is.

Bjorn and I watched the eggs for 5 minutes, but with nothing happening, and it being 116 degrees outside, we set an alarm to check them in ten minutes. Bjorn went back inside to his Wii games, and I continued our man cave wall project.

Ten minutes later, nothing had changed. Not one piece of the egg looked cook. We set the alarm for 15 minutes this time.

30 minutes had passed since we cracked the eggs. We found that nothing had changed on the pan and aluminum foil eggs.

The one on the sidewalk HAD cooked, but not in a good way. It was thick and gooey, but no longer runny. I scraped it off the ground, a pile of bright yellow clumps.


It wasn't dramatic, but that's science for you. It's not always a POOF! of air and something amazing happens. It did seem, though, that you COULD actually cook an egg on the sidewalk. Not one you would want to eat, mind you, but one that was cooked.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The First Week of School

Four days ago, both my children started school.

Yes, BOTH of them.

Bjorn began first grade, no longer the "baby" of the school. Kindergarten had its own playground, an enclosed small playground with a jungle gym, sand toys and tricycles. First grade gets to play in the big playground with the rest of the grades. This playground also has a jungle gym, but has basketball hoops, tether ball and soccer.

But its not all about the playground. (Although if you ask him, it might be!)

I can drop him off at the gate to the school, and he can go to the playground all by himself, dropping his backpack off along the way. He knows now, after being at that school all last year, that he gets to go to a different "special" each day (like music, art, computers). He is especially excited about tomorrow, Friday, because he gets to go to the special that he chose. At the tender age of 6, in first grade, he was able to choose his own elective. From the likes of yoga, baseball, life science and media tech, he chose STEM - an engineering oriented class using building blocks, Legos and Hot Wheels. It is perfect for him.

He is in class with most of his friends from last year, and the ones in the other class he still gets to see at lunch, recess and after-school playdates. He has asked to start flag football this year, so in two weeks I will sign him up for it, in the hopes that he will enjoy it, but will decide he likes baseball or soccer better. Flag football leads to real football, and there is something about my little boy being tackled, or tackling others, that I don't like. Sigh.  And me being from Texas, you would think I would be overjoyed! I just worry about his smart little brain getting hurt. At least for 6 year olds, it is still just flag football.

 Peanut began full day preschool. We drop her off at her classroom, Princess lunchbox in pretty pink backpack, at the same time we take Bjorn. We pick her up at her class the same time as him, too. All day she goes to school.

The first day, I worried. Would she cry? Would she hang onto my leg? Would she throw one of those huge Peanut size tantrums she is prone to lately?

I shouldn't have given it another thought. She dropped her water bottle off at the water station, lunchbox in lunch wagon, and folder in the homework area. She hung up her Owl backpack given to her by her GodMother alongside three Frozen and one Transformer backpack, and she headed to the play area with her friends.  Yes, friends. At open house we discovered that a girl in Bjorn's class also had a little sister in Peanut's. And they are fast friends already, with Peanut coming home to tell me stories of "Oh, P said this in class today" and "I love playing with E. She is just so funny!".

It makes me so happy to see her so involved. Today we dropped her off at school and had to practically beg her for a hug and kiss before she ran off to play. She wanted to just wave us off with a quick 'Bye!' I'm happy she is glad to be there, but my heart aches at my youngest being in school full time.

She is in full time because of my job, because we need her watched three days a week while I work. But I really thought I would only send her when I work, and keep her home with me, doing the things we had done together before. But after she has been in school, I don't think she wants to stay home with me, grocery shopping and going to the gym. I'm sure she would want to stay home if I let her watch movies all day, or if we went to museums or Bounce house places. But that won't be everyday. Most days we would be doing the normal hanging out, errands that happen from day to day. I think she would rather be at school with her friends, playing.

So, I may keep her home more often. I may send her to school. But right now, in this first week, I'm a little sad (and at the same time, impressed and proud) at how easily she leaves us to grow up to go to school. This week I have taken a little more time to make coming home in the afternoon an exciting time for all of us as well - board games, coloring, Barbie playing, Lego building. I have taken the days when they are at school to get all the not-fun adult things done (bills, groceries, mopping). I have also begun writing more. With all this free time while they are both in school, I don't want to waste it. I will make the most of every minute. Much like they are doing at school.

My two small big kids. I am truly starting to feel the ache of them growing up and away, and I also understand now what I was told when I was in the throes of young motherhood, handling a needy toddler and stubborn baby at the same time. "The days are long, but the years are short."  Yes. Yes, they are.

Happy first week of school, my big littles. May you form friendships that will last a lifetime, learn lessons that will make you braver, and find the courage to try new things. May you know that I will always be there to pick you up when you have fallen, to walk beside you when you need strength, and to hold your hand when you need comfort.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer skating

Today I crossed #1 on my list of "101 things to do in 1001 days".

1. Take my kids to the roller rink.

I don't know why this was the first thing I thought of when I created my list, except that I always loved going to the skating rink as a kid. Even as a young teen-ager, I loved going to the skating rink with my friends, dancing to the music, hair whipping behind me as I leaned into the curve.

I wanted to show my kids how much fun it is.

And......I might have had a secret desire to be discovered for a roller derby team. I had this vision that a coach would see me at the rink, skating effortlessly around fallen children and lost skates, spinning with ease and he would say "Her! I want her on my roller derby team! She is the one!" And the rest would be roller derby history.

It's been said I have an over-active imagination.

I forgot that while I used to be an athlete, and quite flexible and limber, I am now in my mid-thirties (yikes!) and don't bend like Beckham anymore. I still would love to be a Derby girl. I need to come up with a cool name.

I called a friend who used to coach and skate competitively to come join us for the day, and has older kids my kids adore, and another friend came along with her kids, whom my kids also love. The more the merrier!

Apparently, everyone in town had the same idea because when we pulled up, there were no less than FIVE school buses already parked with kids inside.

Both Bjorn and Peanut were super excited to try skating, and even more excited when they saw their friends there. Peanut attached herself to Big Peanut (one of the older girls, who has the same nickname) and pretty much stuck by her side for the next two hours, except for when she crawled up into my lap, lay her head down and promptly fell asleep. In the middle of the loud roller rink.

I envy that girls sleeping habits.

Peanut did make it exactly one time around the rink, holding tight to Big Peanut and her mom's hands before deciding that she did not want to go back out there.  Good thing her admission and skate rental were free.

Bjorn made it 3/4 of the way around the rink two separate times.  He swore he loved skating, and wants to come back very soon, but the expression on his face told a different story. He couldn't quite get his footing, but it being his first time, he did just fine. I kept reassuring him that everyone falls, and it is okay to fall. He is a perfectionist, though, and likes to be able to do things right, and all the way, the first time.


It was a fun day, a great day to stay inside during 115 degree heat. Also, both kids took a nap. That makes roller skating a win in my book!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Eating like a man

"Bjorn eats like a MAN!" said the babysitter last week.

I laughed. "What do you mean?"

"He's on his third piece of pizza! And he ate some chicken bites." she said, astonished. Her little brother is in the same class as Bjorn, and he "only eats three BITES of pizza."

Her brother is also 1/2 foot taller than Bjorn.

Which makes me think Bjorn is going to be hitting a huge growth spurt soon.

We flew to Texas last week over dinner time and usually on the plane both kids want a lunchable (a special treat!), a few airplane snacks and a drink. This time, Bjorn decided he wanted a cheeseburger from the airport, but not a kids cheeseburger, no way! He wanted a real MAN cheeseburger. (Yes, those are his words.)

I ordered him one, sure that The Hubs would be eating 3/4 of it.

Bjorn ate the entire thing, two of my cheese stuffed raviolis, his lunchable, a bag of chips and a drink.


The next day at a restaurant he ordered a grilled chicken platter off the kids menu, devouring it and half the appetizers.

Not to be outdone by her big brother, Peanut ate EIGHT dinosaur nuggets at dinner two nights ago, and last night finished 1/2 a steak, a few bites of chicken and some veggies.

I fully expect them both to wake up next week three inches taller, shirts at belly buttons, pants high-waters, needing an entire new wardrobe.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

PTA Family Reading Challenge

Since my kids were babies, we have been reading to them every day, every night, any book they wanted.  Even when he wanted to read the same book over and over and over again (I'm talking to you, Toddlersaurus!) and I wanted him to just PICK A NEW BOOK ALREADY, we read what he chose. For almost six straight months we read nightly from the Animal Atlas, a science directory and dictionary of animals throughout the world. He loves dinosaurs and presidents, history and science. 

Now that Bjorn can read himself, he has discovered a love of the written word in his daily life. He reads street signs and restaurant menus, airplane safety information cards and newspaper and magazine headlines. At times I hear the sounds of silence - an ominous sound for any parent- and peek into his room only to find him sprawled out on his floor, books scattered around him. He reads stories to his sister aloud; each time I hear him, I'm impressed and awed by his developing skills. 

A few days ago I finally convinced Bjorn and Peanut to let me choose the nighttime story. Instead of reaching for old favorites, There's a Wocket in your pocket or If I ran the dog show, I grabbed a book of mine from when I was a child. Stuart Little. 

They protested at first. "This has no pictures!"

I told them I would read only one chapter, and if they didn't like it, they could pick another book. After chapter one, they were begging me to keep reading. My heart swelled as they discovered that words could make an impact even without the pictures alongside them. Words had the power to make you feel and imagine. 

On my bookshelf sits all the books of my childhood, saved for me by my mom- the secret garden, sideways stories from wayside school, the bfg, the hardy boys and more. My childhood, my loves, just waiting for my son and daughter to read and love them as well. I can't wait. 

So when I was asked to write a post on the PTA family reading challenge, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Books, the written word, language - these are my first loves, after my family. This initiative on behalf of the National PTA encourages parents to continue to read and explore books through out the summer. They also have tips and information for parents on reading practices. 

I know we tend to get so busy during the summer, with swim lessons, camping, visits to Bjorn's favorite science museum or Peanut's gymnastics class that learning can be an after thought. So The Hubs and I have decided to reward the kids this summer after they complete a reading log. The longer the log (I.e. The more books read, or read to), the bigger the reward. 

Find out how you can join the National PTA Family Reading Challenge at www.ptareadingchallenge.org.