Saturday, June 26, 2010

Baking Up a Storm

It's no wonder I can't seem to lose any weight. My oldest and her friend have become awesome bakers. Seriously. At least five days a week, they're in my kitchen, whipping up some yummy cookies, bars, or desserts I just have to taste. And because they're such good bakers, everything they make is delicious, so I don't eat just one.

It all started a few weeks ago, when we had a rummage sale. The girls thought it would be fun to have a lemonade stand too, and to have cookies to go with the lemonade. They spent every spare moment the week before the rummage sale baking. They made no-bake cookies, rhubarb bars, cute little sunshine cookies, and seven layer bars.

Their bake sale wasn't a big hit with the rummage sale crowd, but those of us sitting outside manning the sale for two days sure enjoyed the goodies. My mom was in town too, so the girls baked some speical treats just for her, and of course, Grandma paid for them. Since then, Grandma has bought three more batches of goodies.
I'm not sure if her love of baking is because of the money (Grandma pays very well for her treats!), or if it's just something fun to do. It would be easy for me to be frustrated and annoyed with Lexi's baking. I've spent a good chunk of change buying ingredients, she never cleans the kitchen to my standards, and she's lost one of my new measuring spoons. But, I've decided to let that stuff go. I remember going through the same phase when I was about her age, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't very good at cleaning up the kitchen either. Besides, baking is good for Lexi. It's taught her to plan ahead, helped her keep her math skills (especially fractions) fresh, and work as a team (Lizzy, Jake and Tess often help with the baking...which requires patience on everyone's part). Plus she's so proud of her creations, I can't possibly be mad about the mess. I have, however, made her start walking and running with me everyday. That's the only way I can justify eating all the delicious goodies she makes!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good Clean Fun

I'm not a big fan of bath time. It stresses me out, to be honest with you. I don't have the patience at the end of the day to fight with Lizzy about washing her hair, or to wait for her to be ready. Tonight, however, I found the patience. I scrubbed both Morgan and Lizzy, then took Morgan out of the tub while Lizzy played. She doesn't usually play in the tub very long, but tonight was different. Maybe because I left her alone and let her imagination take over. I had a long list of stuff I needed to do (Morgan wanted to be fed and put to bed, Lexi was baking brownies, the kitchen was a mess, there was laundry to fold, Jake was gone, Brad was working). While I started tackling that to-do list, Lizzy entertained herself in the tub. It didn't take me long to stop doing my chores and listen to her creativity, innocence, and imagination come to life.

Lizzy has a whole family of rubber ducks in the tub: there's Brad, Jody, Lexi, Lizzy, Morgan and now finally a Jake duck too (thanks to a successful Target stop earlier today) She's even got a Tesslin duck (Lexi's best friend who practically lives at our house).

I had to grab the video camera and get tonights duck conversation on tape.. here's the scene: Brad and Jody are on a date, Lizzy tags along, Mom gets mad at her and takes her home where Lexi and Jake are supposed to be babysitting. And in the second video, Brad and Jody are still on a date, Jake is going to Mary's house, Morgan is floating in the water, and Lexi, Tesslin and Lizzy are going to the park.

All this, because I let her play in the tub. Maybe bath time isn't so bad afterall.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Such Nice Neighbors

Our next door neighbors Trent and Heather don't have kids, and after living next door to us for six months, they probably never will. I'm pretty sure my kids, specifically Lizzy, are good birth control (just not for us! Why is that? A topic for another time...) Anyway, these DINKS (double-income no kids) neighbors of ours are super nice and claim they love our kids, even Lizzy. They say they get a "kick" out of her, her outfits, and her antics. This week, they contributed to those antics....and we will get even...someday, somehow.

Heather obviously likes kids, as she is a third grade teacher at one of the schools in town. A couple of days ago she knocked on the door, and by the time I got there, she had already given Lizzy six green pom poms on long wooden sticks. She said they were left over from school and she thought Lizzy would have fun with them. I said I knew Lizzy would have fun with them, and they looked like a great thing to play with in Trent and Heather's yard. She laughed, and walked away.

While it's great to have such sweet neighbors, I have been losing sleep over how to get back at her. These pom poms are the messiest and most annoying toy we've had in a long time. I'm really surprised no one has poked an eye out yet. Every time Lizzy shakes them (which is quite often) about three dozen little green papers fall out of the pom poms. We have green paper everywhere. Brad thought the paper shredder exploded all over the house. Lexi spent a good hour this morning picking up all the green pom pom pieces. But as I look around the living room now, you'd never know it. There is green paper all over...yet the pom poms don't look any worse for the wear. Do they just keep regenerating new paper? It's the strangest thing.

At any rate, these pom poms have become Lizzy's new favorite toy. I managed to capture a few of her games on video this afternoon . They are not only pom poms, but also drumsticks, a violin, and a cross. What I didn't catch on tape was the pom poms being used as a green wig for Morgan.

Yes, our next door neighbors are sweet. We like them a lot. you watch these videos, please help me think of how we can get even!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Kind of Math

The kids and I made a quick trip to my parents' farm this weekend. Jake has been dying to visit Grandpa's farm, all by himself. He loves spending a week there every summer, sometimes more than once. I'm not sure if it's the attention he gets when he's the only child, or the freedom that comes with the farm that he likes the most. He's even missing two nights of basketball to spend time at the farm. He has plans to mow, build stuff, fix up his bike, and eat lots of junk food.

The girls and I took him to the farm yesterday afternoon and came home tonight. It's a pretty boring drive from Bison to Bismarck, so I had a little time to think on the way back (Lizzy was watching a movie, Morgan was napping and Lexi was texting... I was bored!). I'm not really a numbers person, but I got to thinking about this trip and the numbers involved. Here's what I came up with:
  • 373 miles + 29 hours + 4 hyper kids = 2 happy grandparents + 1 happy uncle = 1 annoyed dog
  • 2 awesome naps + 2 miles walked with my oldest. = 1 relaxed mom
  • 1 fast go cart + 3 big kids = 1 fun time + 3 arguements + 1 mud puddle + 1 garden hose = 2 wardrobe changes for the girls
  • 1 cup peanut butter + 1 cup sugar + 1 egg = 1 batch of peanut butter cookies for Grandpa = 1 project for Lizzy
  • 1 turtle in the window well + 1 boy to save him + 1 curious 3 year old = 5 minutes of entertainment
  • 1 excited boy who gets to spend the week at the farm + 1 big sister relieved that her brother is gone for a week = 1 week of peace for mom (yeah right!)
  • 37 text messages between Lexi and her BFF on my phone during the last hour of the drive home + 2 pit stops (1 for gas station pizza, 1 for Lizzy to pee in the grass) + 4 tired girls = 1 more pit stop (this time for a Diet Coke for the driver!)

Add all those together, and the grand total = 1 great, though quick, trip to the Shea farm.

Obviously math isn't my "thing", but this is one word problem I can handle!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Not a Good Day

Lexi told me tonight I look tired. Tired, yes. Frustrated, yes. Exhausted, definitely. It has been one of "those" days.

I was at work by 7:00 this morning, home by 10:00, helping a friend with a project from 10:00 until 2:00 (while taking care of all four kids), back at work by 2:15 (with three kids in tow), and home again by 3:30. By 5:30 supper was in the oven, and by 6:30 the four kids and I had eaten, cleared the table, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher.  Since then I have fed and bathed Morgan, fought with Lizzy, argued with Jake, talked to a telemarketer, washed, folded and put away a couple of loads of laundry, and fought back tears at least a dozen times.

The tears are tears of frustration. I am frustrated that I am not a better mother. They are tears of desperation. I am desperate to figure out a better way to get through to my kids. They are tears of guilt. I feel guilty that I am not more patient with my kids. And they are tears of exhaustion. I am physically and mentally drained. My eyes hurt, my head hurts, and my heart hurts. This has not been a good day.

I know it is just one day. Things will get better. I am not writing this in hopes of getting sympathy. I am writing this in hopes of finding peace. This is my life.  There will be good days, and there will be bad days. All I can do is pray that tomorrow is one of the good days.