Sunday, August 21, 2011

California or Bust

5 suitcases (Sweet Pea & Pumpkin are sharing) and 6 backpacks and our kids are ready to travel
We are leaving on vacation for 8 days.  As I was sharing with a few people this morning, I'm not sure where my anxiety ends and my excitement begins.  We have been planning this trip for over a year.  It felt as though it would never come and now, here it is.  We are flying, which makes me feel a bit overwhelmed.  I think I am more nervous about people's reactions to our family as we travel, than actually traveling with my children.  The last time we flew with children was 4 years ago.  We had 4 kids, with Cucumber being just a few months old.  We had booked the Red Eye, and as a result, we had very restless, cranky children.  I remember boarding the plane for our return trip home and being at my breaking point.  Passenger after passenger were passing by us, some rolling their eyes, others looking perturbed.  Then one woman approached our aisle, placed her hand on my shoulder and said, "You have a beautiful family."  With that simple gesture, I began to cry, feeling a bit relieved that someone understood.  So this time, I am going to try my best to not stress out so much.  I want this to be a memorable and happy family trip.  At this point we have done all we can do to prepare.  Now, we just go with the flow.  I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing, if any, while gone.  So stay tuned, because I'm sure I'll have plenty to share when I return.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Say What? Part II

As I was talking with Sweet Potato last night:

Me:  Did you brush your teeth?
Sweet Potato:  Is the Pope-mobile Catholic?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

20 Years and Counting

This past weekend my high school class celebrated its 20 year reunion.  20 years. . . seriously, could it really be that long?   Friday night there was an impromptu gathering at the local bar.  There were only 7 of us who showed up, but it was a great night.  We were a rather eclectic group which made it all the more fun.  Saturday was the social and dinner.  Out of 126 graduates, only 30 classmates were able to attend.  Despite the small turnout, there was lots of laughter and fun memories shared.  We ended our evening by attending a street dance in the neighboring town where three of our classmates were playing in the band. 

As I reflect on my high school years, I had a good experience.  School was a place that I actually liked.  I had friends and I was involved in a variety of activities.  Our class wasn't close-knit.  We certainly had our share of cliques.  To be honest, I'm not quite sure which group I would claim to belong.  I sincerely tried to be nice to everyone.  I played in the band, sang in the choir, and I was athletic.  I was a member of the student council, wrote for the school paper (just 1 year), and was a peer helper.  I enjoyed trying my hand at new things and the more involved I was, the more content I seemed to be.

I consider high school to have been a launching pad for me.  It helped to lay the groundwork for the rest of my life.  I think it was a good indication - on a very small scale - of what life tends to be.  There will always be those who feel entitled.  There will be those who get noticed because of their good looks.  There will be those who tend to be laid back and will just roll with whatever is dealt to them.  There are some who will be sorely misjudged because of their economic status, and lets not forget the overachievers.  The list can go on and on.

As my children are entering school - 3 full time this year - I feel a little anxiety.  I had friends who hated school and looked forward to the day they were done.  I don't want school to equate resentment for my kids.  I desire for them to happy.  I desire for them to have at least one best friend.  I desire for them to be involved.  Most of all, I desire for them to understand that school is just a stepping stone to the rest of their lives.  Eventually it comes to an end.  Eventually, they will be responsible for defining themselves.  Eventually, they too will be looking back, sharing memories with their classmates about the good ol' days.  And when that time comes, I hope that they too can look back with smiles on their faces and a happy heart.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Say What?

I made spaghetti tonight for supper and put lots of garlic in the sauce.  Sweet Potato commented that garlic is hot.  I told him that it's not hot unless you make it hot.  He asked, "How do you make garlic hot?"  Before I could respond Honey Bunches said, "you put lipstick on it."  Oh my.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My New Survival Tool. . .

Cold pressed coffee.  Without trying to sound overly dramatic, I LOVE IT!!  Usually, I brew a pot of coffee in the morning.  As life plays out, I rarely have the opportunity to drink it hot.  So I began making iced coffee in the afternoons when the kids were down for their naps.  It was o.k. but certainly nothing like a coffee house makes.  Then my friend treated me to cold pressed coffee, which has altered my coffee experience.  I still like a cup of hot joe, but my new special "just for me" treat is an iced, cold pressed coffee.  I found a recipe on-line.  Basically, you mix coffee grounds with water and place it in your refrigerator to "brew" overnight.  Then you filter it and enjoy.  I fill a cup with ice, pour coffee 2/3 of the glass full, add milk and a little sweetner and a straw.  For me, it is indulgence.  I also thinks it adds a bit more "kick" than my regular cup of coffee.  That's a good thing.  I could use all the extra kicks I can get.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


When I am not calling my children by their birth names or the food names I've given them, I tend to call them Sweeters.  Here are a few examples why:

Yesterday the four girls and I went to the park to play.  As Cucumber was running towards the tetertotter, she called out, "Mom.  Come tator tot with me."

This morning the girls and I made a trip to Target.  We had a few things we needed to pick up and I told the girls they could spend their gift cards (Gummi and Cucumber each had a card).  The older girls offered to share their cards so everyone could get a little something.  It was a gesture that made my heart smile.

During lunch, Gummi asked, "Mom, do you know what my favorite Corn Carnival memory is?  The year that Grandpa Beno (my dad) brought me and said he would buy me a little treat.  We got cotton candy and then sat in a chair together and shared the bag."  Yep - that brought a tear to my eye.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Higher Ground

For the past 5 years, our family has attended the Higher Ground Music Festival.  We camp from Thursday evening until Sunday morning.  It is probably the highlight of the kids summer.  This year the the kids were excited to see Elizabeth Hunnicutt, Go Fish, Kutless, Matthew West, Jeremy Camp and Mercy Me.  Each year brings about its own challenges and stresses and each year we choose to go back, because like so many things in our lives, the positives out-way the negatives. 

The Negatives:
Pumpkin was a bit cranky.  She wanted me for most of the weekend and would scream when she was frustrated.  I suppose I would probably do the same if I was two years old and couldn't talk very well yet.

The mosquitoes came out in full force Friday night.  I did apply bug spray to the kids, but poor little Sweet Pea was eaten up.  Her forehead began to swell, almost immediately.

It did rain the last night, not for very long, but enough to have us take cover.

I did pack rain gear (for the first time ever), but left it in the van.

Due to the rain, the kids woke up in wet sleeping bags, two of which I had to wring out by hand.

Sometime during the night, Honey Bunches threw up and didn't come to tell us.  As a result, Sweet Potato rolled in it as he was waking up.

My brother-in-law was loading up his fish house (he and my sister use it as a camper) and a cable snapped, striking him in the head and sending him to the hospital.  He wound up having surgery to repair the injury.  He is recovering well.

The Positives:
Preparing for our trip was a bit easier this year, due to the invitation from Silly and her husband to stay with them in their camper.  They also set up their tent for all the kids.  So we basically were responsible for packing for each child and preparing one meal for the group.

The weather was beautiful - a little hot, but very bearable.

We were with wonderful and fun people - Silly and her family, my sister and her husband, and two families from church.

The music.

The campfire.

Playing games.

Good food.

Fun conversations.

Measure of Success:
The kids didn't want to go home.

Sweet Pea keeps asking when are we going camping again. 

A couple of times when I asked the little ones to put their dirty clothes in the hamper, they start going outside because they think I'm saying camper.  We don't even own a camper.

Monkey Toes and I agree that each year it gets a little easier, as the kids are growing up and becoming more independent.

Reminiscing about the weekend has dominated all conversation in our household.

Cucumber gave me a hug and kiss this morning and said, "thank you mom for taking me to Higher Ground.  I love you."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Today's Heart Smiles

As I was preparing lunch, Honey Bunches called out that Sweet Pea was peeing on the floor.  I rushed in, scooped her up and hurried to the bathroom.  As she was sitting on the toilet I asked, "Sweet Pea, why did you pee on the floor?"
Sweet Pea:  I love you mommy.
Me:  Sweet Pea, why did you pee on the floor?
Sweet Pea:  You're pretty mommy.
Me:  Did you know you were peeing on the floor?
Sweet Pea:  I like the color of your toe nails.
Let's just say I gave up.

As the girls and I were watching t.v. tonight, Cucumber snuggled on my lap.
Cucumber:  I love you sooooooo much.
Me:  I love you soooooo much too.
Cucumber:  I love you to Space Aliens and back.
Me:  That's pretty awesome, isn't it?
Cucumber:  Yea, especially if you take me there.  When can you take me there?
Hmmm.  Conditions already at her young age.

In an effort to recap the movie The Sweet Tale of Madeline, Cucumber explains:
Madeline tries telling the truth and then she gets under arrested.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

Gummi Bear and Cucumber spent 10 days camping with Monkey Toes sister and her family.  They traveled to Jellystone National Park in Wisconsin.  Gummi went with them last year, but the trip wasn't nearly as long.  I knew I was going to miss them, but the pros far outweighed the cons in allowing them to go.  The day they were returning, I was leaving for my college friend gathering.  I went almost 12 days without seeing my girls.  My heart was truly lonesome for them.  Someone asked me the question of how I could let my little ones go away for so long.  I really was o.k. with it because they were with family.  If it was anyone other than family, I probably wouldn't have even considered it.  Secondly, Monkey Toes and I know that we don't have the resources to give them that experience, so when the opportunity came to us, we knew they would have a wonderful and very memorable vacation.  And that they did.

Since we have been reunited, I have been on the receiving end of many hugs, kisses, and "I love you"s.  I have been very generous with these as well!  The girls impart with memories of their time away throughout the days.  Something will remind them of an experience and they begin to retell it - very excitedly.  It has left the boys with vacation envy.  We have a few surprises for all of them in the next couple of weeks which I have no doubt will level the playing field.  Until then, we'll just have to put up with a few pouts and "it's not fair"s. 

What I discovered in my girls absence, was the importance each of us plays in our family unit.  A few times I was hinted to that my days must have been a little easier with less kids.  Sure I had fewer to watch, but the family dynamics changed significantly and that was not so easy.  Gummi and Cucumber, although still very young, do much to help and round out our brood.  Have I mentioned before that Gummi loves to play with the babies in the morning and often has them dressed before I make an appearance?  Cucumber is Gummi's sidekick and definitely gives her opinion on wardrobe.  They are good helpers and excellent conversationalists.  Honey Bunches didn't know what to do when they were gone and he couldn't argue how right he was and how wrong they were (topic is really irrelevant here because the outcome is usually the same).  Sweet Potato even asked, "when are the girls coming home?"  I hinted to the idea that he must really miss them and he replied, "I miss them a little." 

So it is with a happy heart that I write this tonight, as my family is once again together and our chaotic life continues.  It is exactly where I want to be.  Honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way!

Monday, August 1, 2011


This past weekend I reunited with my closest friends from college.  We met each other when we were freshman at the College of St. Scholastica - 20 years ago.  I believe we grabbed hands and have never let go.  These ladies have seen my absolute best and worst.  They have laughed with me, cried with me and have always supported me.  We have lived together, traveled together and have always come out unscathed (for the most part).  I love them like sisters.  We were called MAKS-G (the first initials of our names) and continue to use this acronym when referring to all of us.  I love that no matter how much time passes between our visits, we can always pick up where we left off.  They are good for my soul!  Here's a pictorial of our weekend.

Friday Night Dinner
Scallops with avocado & jalapeno pesto

The end of a "Perfect" Margarita

Our "guest" chef Richie

Our "waitress" Sandy

MKSG - Perfect outdoor seating
Peaches with Brandied Marscapone

Saturday Fun
Homemade Brunch


G & A
Me & K

Mexican Cokes (a memory of our trip to Cancun 15 years ago)

Creole dinner at Brasa

Topped off the night with my first martini - a Lemondrop