Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter 2016

For Easter this year, we tried a few new things and kept a few old traditions.

The kids still went to the golf course next to our house on Saturday to hunt for eggs and whine about the line for face painting and games.  They ration the eggs during the hunt (I guess so they don't run out early?), so they walked away with a whopping two eggs a piece! They did also get a coupon for a flight of beer when you purchase an entree at the course restaurant. Score for the parents!

The riches of their Easter egg hunt

In the tradition of my Grandma K, we made our annual Rice Krispie lamb, and talked about Jesus being the Lamb of God. Bjorn wanted to line our lamb in a bed of Marshmallows. Looks pretty comfy to me.

Grandma's Easter lamb

We still woke up early on Sunday morning for our church's outdoor Easter sunrise service.

As usual, the mass was beautiful and would have been serene had it not been for the screams of a tempestuous four year old who wanted to play with my phone during church, not play with her kids bible or other tiny toys she brought along. It was early, she was tired and it was the furthest thing from calm. Good thing the priest talked about forgiveness and patience in his homily. I needed to hear it that morning! So did Peanut.

She looks so sweet and innocent.

Siblings, Friends.

After mass we headed home for our Easter spoils and egg hunt.

This year, instead of a basket, I bought the kids big plastic eggs. Just like the ones in the YouTube videos they are always watching. Inside the eggs were all their Easter basket goodies - individually wrapped.  I wish I had taken a before picture.

Egg baskets!

They each got one chocolate bunny and a bag of Starburst jellybeans.  That was it for candy. I tried to be practical this year - less candy, more items they would actually use.

Peanut opened her first goodie and squealed. "Jellies! Mommy! You know how much I love jellies!"  She had been asking for jelly shoes for a few weeks, and I had been putting her off since they were going into her basket. She immediately put them on. She also received a Hello Kitty bracelet, swimming goggles, and a pair of Olaf leggings.

Bjorn opened his first present and laughed. "Star Wars undies! You know I wanted these. Thanks, Mom!" Then he opened his second, third and fourth presents and couldn't stop laughing. "Mom! Why did you wrap all my undies? You're so silly!" It was pretty funny to see him get excited about his presents, and then to laugh and roll his eyes when it was more underwear. He also opened swimming goggles and a new pair of sunglasses.

Even our new pup got into the Easter fun with a huge squeaky Peep toy.

Even better than regular Peeps!

Next to their egg "baskets" was a note attached to a Lego instruction book.

Excuse my silly jingle. I had been up for 20+ hours at this point and this was the best I could do!

Bjorn read it first. "I need to find all the blue and green eggs! There are legos inside!"

He was right.

I had bought a box of Legos for each kid and divided them into the proper colored eggs: blue and green for Bjorn and pink and purple for Peanut. That left orange and yellow to be used for a few more small candies and some money. Again, it cut down on the candy factor, and it gave them something fun and useful to do.

They raced out to the backyard to start their egg hunt. I had expected them to go crazy finding all their eggs to start their Legos, but I hadn't expected what actually happened.

Our garden is growing eggs!

Instead of Bjorn trying to get as many as he could, so he could have all the candy, he knew that the pink and purple ones weren't for him. When he found one of those, he would call Peanut over so she could get her eggs. She did the same for him.  They were sharing. Helping. For the first time since they had started Easter egg hunting together, there was no fighting that "he found more" or "I saw it first".  They were actually getting along. It was an Easter miracle. And a happy, unexpected side effect of the Lego egg hunt.

They found all their eggs, headed inside and put together the Lego treasures.

That is his "The Storm Troopers are going to shoot you!" face 

Lego Friends
After all this excitement, we went for a walk and then brunch. A wonderful family day together.

Even Bjorn thinks so.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

To Do...

When I created my HUGE TO DO list (click here to check it out) a few years ago, I looked at it and thought,"I have almost three years to finish this. Plenty of time. Easy peasy."

Yes, I do actually say 'Easy Peasy' to myself. I'm kind of a big nerd.

Then, all of a sudden, it's two years later, I have 7 months left to finish the list and I have 68 left to go. Talk about procrastination.

But thanks to some awesome friends and family who have been pushing me and helping me with my list - even if they didn't know it! - I am able to cross a few more off just in the past few weeks.

#4 Take an overnight NON-KID vacation with The Hubs

Without either of our families living in the city, or even in the state, it seemed that we might not get to do this one. Then my parents retired and life was GOOD! They have flown cross-country to see us about once every 2-3 months, so we took advantage of that last time and drove up to Las Vegas for the weekend. The kids had a blast. Grandma and Grandpa took them to Chuck E Cheese, McDonald's and to play mini golf. They watched movies, had make your own pizza night and learned to color within the lines on the IPads coloring pages. Meanwhile, we met up with The Hubs' brothers and their girls in Vegas and spent three days losing money in penny slots, going back for fifths at the buffet and sleeping in until 9. (Okay, so I was still up at 745. But I let The Hubs sleep in until 9!) I had forgotten how relaxing it was to not think about if someone needs a snack, to go to the bathroom or has to nap. If their feet might hurt or if they are cranky and tired. It was so nice to think about just us and what we wanted to do and I WANT TO DO IT ALL THE TIME. Well, maybe not ALL the time. But definitely again.

#17 Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens

Visiting the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix has been on my to do list since I moved here nine years ago. I wanted to see the plants and flowers in their natural desert habitat. I don't know what I expected, but it looked much like the rest of Phoenix does. Rocks, cacti, dirt, green shrubbery and plants throughout. My friend and her daughter went with Peanut and I, and it was such a great walk, but I really hoped for more flowers, more butterflies, more......different. It was like walking through my neighborhood (minus all the houses). We went in January, and I heard later that coming later in the spring was better. I think if I had waited until March or April, it would've been beautiful with all the blossoming flowers and plants. I might have to make a trip back. 

#39 Make 12 blessings bags and pass them out to the homeless

The kids and I have been making blessings bags for a few years now, and I wanted to make sure that we continued this tradition. With the nice weather in Arizona in the spring, fall and winter (notice I didn't say summer!), there tends to be a large number of homeless at street corners and in downtown. I don't like to pass out cash, not first of all because I don't usually have any! I try and keep blessings bags in my car and my handbag. These are gallon Ziploc bags filled with small non-perishables. I like to put in a granola bar or two, some water, an apple juice, beef jerky, cheese and crackers, etc. I also like to add travel shampoos and conditions, soap and lotion and toothpaste. Toothbrushes, a comb, a pair of socks, some Kleenex, chap stick. I like to pick things up at the dollar store or on sale and stuff them in to the blessing bags. If I remember to grab some, I like also like to put $5 gift cards to McDonald's, as the likelihood of a McDonald's near to them is pretty good. It is such a small thing to have with me, and I hope that it makes someone feel that I want them to be cared for. Best of all, the kids love to help me make them, usually throwing in a fruit snack or a lollipop from their candy stash. And they fight over who gets to hand them out. I love that they see how happy it makes people. Most volunteer organizations around here allow kids to start volunteering between the ages of 6-8, so this is a way to involve them before then.

#62 Go Zip lining.

I LOVE extreme sports. But I promised The Hubs that I wouldn't go skydiving while the kids were under the age of 18, and I have already been bungee jumping a few times. So what was next? While ziplining may not be extreme, it still has a big rush and I wanted to feel it!  So while in Las Vegas, my brother in law, future sister in law and I hooked ourselves up to a large slot machine in downtown Fremont Street and ziplined over drunk and half naked people to the casino at the end of the way. It's called SlotZilla and it really is shaped like a huge slot machine in the middle of the street. You can zipline or zoomline (zip line is shorter, lower and you sit, zoomline is higher, longer and you fly like superman) and of course we chose to go big or go home! We zoomlined past the casinos, and it was awesome! I supermaned the whole way across, flying over people, laughing all the way.

#90 Hike Camelback Mountain.

A friend of mine has been asking me to go hiking with her every week. The first week we went to Piestewa Peak and while I didn't make it to the top (let's be honest - I didn't even make it near to the top), I was hooked. I loved it! Why haven't I been hiking the entire time I lived here in Arizona? I had no idea it was this much fun. When she asked me to go the following week to Camelback Mountain, of course I said yes! They don't make it easy to get there, though. It was a good 45 minute drive from my house, and then I had to park about a mile away from the mountain. That was before we even started hiking! It wasn't very crowded and at times we had to stop and take a look around to make sure we were still even on the trail! It was not very well marked, except for some rocks that were more worn than others. Part of the trail was on the side of the mountain and only wide enough to go single file. And I'm pretty sure that someone caught me on their GoPro going down one part rock crawling, missing a foothold and sliding down ten feet on my butt. Not very graceful, but at least I caught myself before the big drop off!

Now I only have 60-something left to go. In seven months. Time to go!

Friday, November 6, 2015

All you need is....

A few weeks ago Peanut threw the mother of all tantrums. She was kicking me, punching me, screaming and sobbing. This little pint sized girl was trying any and every way to get her every way.

She had thrown a few more tantrums than normal lately, and nothing had worked. Time outs, Time ins, taking toys away, making apologies, etc. I was done. Fed up. Had it. My sweet little girl would turn into a terror with merely a shake of my head.

This time, I carried her to her room - kicking and punching the whole way - and calmly sat her on her bed. She screamed to get out, to get up, and I very calmly told her that she would stay right there until she stopped screaming and punching, and then I would be back to talk to her.

I walked out her door to just down the hall. I almost immediately heard her sniffling her tears in, trying to calm down, so I went back into her room and sat on the bed next to her.

"Sometimes, when I get upset, I just need one thing to make me feel better." I said to her. "Do you know what that is?"

She looked up at me, tears still rapidly dripping. "No. What?"

"A hug."

She kept looking at me, tears slowing down, eyes wide.

 "Do you think you need a hug?" I asked.

She nodded and leaned into me. I hugged her. I could feel her little body quivering from the raw emotion of her tantrum, her breaths ragged and gasping.

I kept hugging her. We didn't talk. I didn't lecture. We just sat there and hugged. I could feel her anxiety and my frustration slip away as we just held each other, mother and daughter.

She whispered into my arm. "I'm sorry I hit you, Mommy."

It was only then that we talked about actions and emotions, apologies and anger. Words that can't be taken away and actions that hurt others physically and emotionally. We talked about loving each other unconditionally.

It felt good. For once I felt that she was listening to me, and that I was listening to her, rather than just doling out punishment. I told her that her actions were unacceptable, that hitting and screaming were disrespectful and not allowed. I asked her what she thought a proper punishment for her actions should be.

She started to tear up again, but said solidly,"You should take away my barbies until I can be more respectful." And she grabbed her box o'Barbies to put in my room.

"Except this one. You don't need to take Chelsea." she said as she grabbed Barbie's littlest sister. I let her keep her. She was respectful the rest of the day and next. All her Barbies eventually went back to her room with Chelsea.

Yesterday, Peanut woke up cranky from her nap, frustrated with everything. Her blanket wasn't on her feet right. She didn't like grapes any more . She wanted a different snack. She was cold. She was bored. She wanted to play a board game, but no, no no, not that board game. No, no that one either. The list kept going on, until I finally threw up my hands and told her I didn't know what she needed right now.  She started crying and said,"I just need a hug, Mommy. Please can I have a hug?"

I hugged her.

Hugs are band-aids for aching hearts, a balm for hurt feelings. They can heal faster than any medicine.

Sometimes I forget that my smart, social girl is only four. With all her independence and spirit, I forget that she is just a little girl, learning her way in this world. It shouldn't have taken me this long to realize it, but sometimes all she needs is a hug.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

I am thankful for my children.

I've been dealing with some super entitled, ungrateful children lately (and I have no one to blame but myself), so we have spent a lot of time lately talking about thankfulness. What we have, what others have. How we can help those around us, and what we really need vs. what we want.

Apparently, ungratefulness is not uncommon in this age range, and I am incredibly thankful (you see what I just did there?) to a friend of mine who posted a review for the book, 'The Me, Me, Me Epidemic' by Amy McCready. I'm only 1/5 of the way through, but I keep looking over my shoulder for the person is writing exactly about my life.

They aren't bad kids; they are very egocentric, as most are at the ages of 4 and 6, and always seem to want more. More toys, more books, more video game time and more snacks. They are very aware, at the same time, that there are people out there with a lot less than we have (less home, less toys, less food) and they love putting together more 'Blessings Bags' to pass out to the homeless and seeing all the goodies we bought for the food bank.  To further emphasize the giving to others,  I thought I would let Peanut sort through her own toys to find those she could donate.

I sat with her in her room to help, and she asked me, "Can I have a box to put all the toys for boys and girls that don't have any?"

Of course you can, I thought, grabbing a big plastic hamper, hoping that the bigger it was, the more she would give.

Her mighty donation pile

Why, yes, that is one small etch a sketch and the top 1/2 of a mermaid barbie.

This is only the playroom stuff....don't get me started on the Barbies in her room!

I think I will go over this donation thing with her one more time. I am positive I can find enough to fill that basket. And more.

Monday, November 2, 2015


The pumpkins were lopsided, bruises turned towards the back. Sharpie marks showed on the front where the cutting wasn't quite even with the design.

We ran out of candy before 8 pm. Mostly because we told Peanut she could choose how much candy to give trick-or-treaters, and she took us at our word. She dumped it in by the bucketful.

Peanut lost her Belle tiara at the school carnival Friday night, so we had to improvise on Halloween night with a red rose instead. She also pulled an audible on going with Belle in the first place, as I had bought her both the Anna (from Frozen) dress and Ariel dress she just had to have, oh I need it so bad, pretty please, please please please. 

Bjorn only wanted a red light saber to go with last years Darth Vadar costume he wanted to wear again. Unfortunately, he had grown quite a bit this past year, and I don't think Darth Vadar's wore capri pants. Five days before Halloween, I headed to the big box store and grabbed the last StormTrooper they had.

It was a perfect Halloween.

Bjorn was quite hilarious on Halloween night. While Peanut passed out candy, he patrolled our front sidewalk, Storm Trooper gun in hand. He just walked up and down, up and down, in perfect character.

Our neighborhood had what seemed like hundreds of trick or treaters. They came to the porch in droves, dozens at a time. We walked the small 'loop' around our home, which only took an hour or so. But almost every single home had their front porch light on. It was a trick or treater's heaven. Door after door of candy and toys, with no dissapointing dark house to walk past. It was awesome.  By the end of the loop, I asked both kids if they wanted to head to another street, and they both said no, wanting to play at the neighbors house and pass out candy instead. Fifteen minutes into passing out candy, we ran out. Without a pause, Bjorn immediately lifted up his own candy bag and dumped handful after handful of candy into the bowl to pass out. I love his tender heart.

The lopsided pumpkin was the one Bjorn specifically picked out, wanting it over all the other perfect round ones. After looking in the Jack o Lantern book at all the intricate faces he could carve, he said, "Nope. I want to draw my own. I know exactly what I should put on it." And he did. It looked exactly as a Jack o Lantern should!

The school carnival was a whirlwind of bounce houses, ring tosses, Haunted Houses and seeing friends. Peanut is the most social little girl I know, and kept running up to kids, both her age and older. "Hi friend!" she would shout, giving a big hug.  She did the same to teachers and parents. Everyone knew her, and she was in her prime, waving like the princess she thinks she is. Bjorn spent the first half of the night wrestling with one of his BFs in a bounce house, and the second half of the night playing football and basketball. It was a perfect night.

I forgot to make the kids their special halloween snacks and mummy quesadillas. I ran out of time to make handprints in the shape of ghosts and witches. I didn't make a family costume as I had hoped, but picked up store-bought ones straight from the shelf. My pictures will never make it onto pinterest.

Twice Peanut told me that this was "the best Halloween night ever".

She was right. They are only so little for so long, and they both had such a wonderful Halloween. I think they truly enjoyed every bit of it. So, it wasn't everything I had wanted it to be. It was more. It was perfect.

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.