Friday, August 29, 2008

Soccer Practice

Ben had his first soccer practice last night. It was 105 degrees and he ran and played hard for over an hour. He said that he had fun! What a difference in two years, now he pays attention to the coach and watches the ball, thing he wasn't capable of as a four year old. He is the smallest player on the team.

Behind every good student...

Is a Great Teacher!

Growing up the daughter of a teacher I have always appreciated the work that they do. I had some wonderful teachers during my career as a student who inspired and motivated me. But it is now as a mother that I truly appreciate their worth.

As mentioned before we had a rough kindergarten teacher experience for Ben. His teacher clearly didn't like 5 year olds, or kids for that matter. She was not kind or nurturing and I think she was likely only teaching the kindergarten level, in order to take advantage of the half day schedule. As a result getting Ben to go to school was a daily chore. He Hated It! He didn't want to talk about his experiences at the end of the day, he didn't want to even talk about school. There was nothing exciting for him (besides the tricycles on the kindergarten playground). I was not looking forward to the next 12 years.

This year, things have changed. Ben has a teacher who clearly loves teaching. Big Ben went to Back to School night last night, while we were at soccer practice ( one of the many benefits of having extra parents) and Ben's teacher spoke to the parents about his passion for first grade. He has tried teaching other grades, but first grade is what he loves. He is organized and kind. Best of all, my son is excited again. He is loving school (as much as is possible for Ben). He comes home every day and tells me what they worked on, he tells me stories about his teacher and the policies of the classroom. Even driving by the school is a different experience as Ben points out the playground, or the area his teacher takes them for reading time.

I am so grateful to the Great Teachers of this world. These teachers who are inspiring and molding my children. I'm grateful that they have a passion for their job. I very much hope that this teacher will help to nurture a love of life-long learning in my child.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A good day!

The kids and I went up the mountain to hike after school yesterday. We all had a good time counting the lizards, squirrels and bluebirds that we spotted. It was good exercise for all of us. We hiked for about an hour. Sarah slipped a few times because her tennis shoes don't have traction... do they make pint size hiking boots?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The big fight

Big Ben had to mediate an argument between the kids this morning. The following is his description of it:

"Ben told me that Sarah said she would help him make his bed and she didn't want to. I asked more questions and it ended up being that Ben and Sarah made a deal. Sarah would make his bed if Ben gave her... (something, I forget...some toy). Well, I asked Sarah if Ben ever gave her the toy and she said no. So, I asked Ben about it and he said.... No, I'll go get it. The deal was made yesterday, but Ben never gave her the toy and decided that he was going to let her have it now. Didn't work out. I left to go make Ben's breakfast after telling him to just make the bed. Then I heard Sarah screaming, went back in and Sarah had hit Ben and Ben hit her back."

You might wonder why I'm sharing this story. There are a couple of reasons... first, Ben and Sarah don't fight very often at all, this is a rare occurrence. Second, I think it shows some very interesting things about their personalities. Sarah, doesn't take mistreatment or injustice from anyone. She is a fighter, and when things aren't right or she doesn't want to do something she stands her ground with the greatest stubbornness I have ever seen. Ben works things. He takes advantage of things to his benefit and does his best to make every situation work in his favor. He is passionate about fairness, but doesn't quite have a clear perspective about keeping up his end of bargains.

Just a little window in to our house this morning...

Monday, August 25, 2008

6 year old worries

Ben was in his room last night watching a movie before bed and came out to talk to us with tears streaming down his face. He began to tell us that he was scared. When I questioned him about his fears, in a broken voice he began to express that he is worried about his future. Specifically, he is worried about being able to buy a house when he gets grown up. He wanted to know how he would ever have enough money, and even if he could get a house, what would he do the second time that money was due for it.

Big Ben and I exchanged baffled looks. Then calmly we explained to him that if you work hard and are careful with your money then everything else falls in to place. This did not satisfy him. He wanted to know how he would get a good enough job to be able to afford a place and what if all of the good houses were taken before he got old enough.

The only response that I could come up with was to reassure him that if he worked as hard as he could and if he was careful with his money, then his parents would be there to help him if necessary. This gave him some satisfaction.

Doesn't six years old seem very young for such worries? Ben has always been a saver, he's hooked on adding money to his "penny bank." I don't want him to worry about grown up things too early, but I think perhaps this sense of responsibility may just be born into him.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Free Range

Recently, I read some information on a website about raising free range kids. I've been thinking quite a bit about the concepts, in fact I've been talking about it for the last week or so. I grew up free range. From an early age, I would walk the couple blocks necessary to get to school, as I got older it was the school bus. At nine I was the first one to arrive home in the afternoons. I have wonderful memories of taking off on my bike, or on my horse. These memories are some of my favorite memories from childhood.

I'm afraid we are robbing this generation of these experiences. According to the web site, today is safer than any previous time, yet we are coddling our children. We are afraid to let them out of our sight, afraid to let them start spreading their own wings. I worry that through our fear we may be crippling them.

When Ben started school this week, I decided that now as a first grader I would allow him to cross the street with the crossing guard (and I might add police officer) turn one corner and walk a block to where I am waiting for him. At no time during this walk is Ben outside of either my site, or the site of the police officer. I felt like this was a good baby step. Yesterday, when I parked to wait for him I noticed parents walking to get their kids. I saw one mom, who lives directly across the street from the school walk across the street just to walk her 3rd grader home. I was amazed.

My goal is for Ben to eventually walk home by himself. I want him to be able to ride his bike to friends' houses. I want him to be able to go the less than one mile distance to the nearest park. We live less than 3 blocks from the school in a very safe neighborhood, that doesn't seem too far for an elementary school child to walk. I am teaching him about watching carefully for cars, he has been carefully instructed on who he is ever allowed to get into a car with. We even discussed his back-up plan in case I'm not parked on the street waiting for him. I want him to have coping mechanisms. I want him to know what to do!

If we never give our children opportunities, how can we ever know what they are capable of?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First grade

Guess who isn't the littlest kid at school anymore!Well ok, so he's still one of the littlest, but he isn't one of the youngest anymore.
First grade starts 20 minutes later than kindergarten, but we didn't know that, so we waited outside.
This is probably one of the only times I will see this boy anxious to get in to school.
His teacher looks like he is going to be fun and wonderful, after a rough teacher experience in Kindergarten, we are VERY excited.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


On our way down the mountain this weekend we stopped to pick blackberries. It's late in the season and there weren't enough to make a cobbler like Super-Grandma would. But they are sweet and yummy.

Got just enough to be able to do this a few times...
Blackberries and yogurt...yummm! Not quite as good as that cobbler, though.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Superman Flies

Ben and I went camping this weekend and I realized that Superman really can fly!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Going away!

Going camping... be back Monday!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Being a Mom sucks sometimes

Sometime being a mommy is a sucky job.

Today, I had to work from home because neither of the kids have daycare. This is a tough feat in itself, trying to maintain professionalism, get my job done and be a mommy at the same time. It is a lot on the plate for one day. The kids got up, they were playing outside things were going well. That is, until lunch time. Grilled cheese and soup were on the menu. Apparently, they didn't like their soup, Ben especially. They wanted to know if they had to eat it all and I told them that they didn't, but Ben would need to take 12 large bites and Sarah would need 10. Sarah didn't have a problem with it, Ben complained about every bite. When he had taken only 6 of his bites I told him he had 6 left and he began throwing a fit, insisting that I was wrong and it was only 3 more bites he needed. Geesh, what are they teaching our kindergartners, 6+3=12? Anyway, he continued to argue. I told him that if he kept arguing he would need to eat the entire bowl and darn if the kid didn't keep arguing. A standard in our house for complaining is the threat that meals will turn in to peanut butter sandwiches (Ben's least favorite in the world) and his complaining escalated to that point. From there it turned in to a full fledged, his worst ever fit. With him throwing angry words at me such as, "I hate you. You are stupid. You think me and Sarah are stupid. Daddy is better. I just want to live at Daddy's house." No matter how much logic tells you that the words spoken in a temper tantrum don't mean anything and is just trial and error manipulation, they still have a sting to them. As he was screaming these things at me I called him over and just held him. Finally, exhausted he apologized and went back to eating his dreaded soup. I was exhausted to. It is these moments that make you question discipline, parenting, and if all of this is even worth it. Will these moments of such high stress and holding my parental ground really even matter in the long run? Then, I look at a picture like this one that I took last night after he had fallen asleep:

Yeah, it's worth it. It is all worth it to get to see that crazy boy who sleeps with his eyes cracked open, drools, wets the bed and sleeps on the end of the bed to be as close to the fan as possible. It is all worth it for the peace of knowing that he will grow up to be an incredible man someday!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nobody looks at your shoes

When I was about 5 years old I needed to wear a dress to school. I can't remember the exact reason I needed to, but it was necessary. At the time the only shoes I had that fit were tennis shoes. They were really cute tennis shoes, but somehow I had learned that you are not supposed to wear tennis shoes with a dress. I clearly remember getting in to a battle of wills with my mom on the matter. I remember crying and telling her that I couldn't wear those shoes, it would be ugly. My mom's response, in an attempt to calm me down was, "no one looks at your shoes!" I don't remember the outcome of this battle, but I do remember that for years after I thought there was something wrong with me because I ALWAYS notice peoples shoes. I wondered if I was the only person who noticed shoes? And if no one notices shoes, why on earth do they make so many cute shoes?

This is now a story that I tease my mom about. But as a mom trying to "negotiate" with children I can 100% see myself saying the exact same thing to my children. You just can't control how those little minds will process the small things you say.

The last three days Sarah has worn dresses to school. I've planned for her to wear sandals with her dresses (I guess because I still believe that is what you are SUPPOSED to do), but each day she has instead chosen to wear her tennis shoes. I think she looks adorable wearing tennis shoes with her dresses. I'm sure everyone is noticing her shoes, or am I really the only one who notices shoes?

Fat and Happy

About two years ago, around the time I met Big Ben, I was exercising very regularly, eating right, dropping weight and feeling pretty on top of the world. Then I met Big Ben and fell in love and with him I've revisited my love of food. I thought I could just enjoy it and relax for a little while, but then one evening this summer, sitting on my front porch I realized I was too sluggish and lazy to get up and play with the kids anymore. That to me is rock bottom! I put on my walkin' shoes and suppressed my urge for Dr. Pepper and away I went. After a couple weeks, I'm feeling much better again. Better, except for the stupid hill. "The stupid hill" is a mile long, steep incline between the two buildings at work. Two years ago when I was feeling good, I was walking it, so logic lead me to believe the best thing to do would be to walk it again. Every day at lunch, I change my clothes and get out there in the heat of the sun. And let me tell you, I sweat! I sweat and I ache. Sometimes, I feel like there are rocks in my calves because my muscles are so angry with me. And then when I get home at night, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Yes, there is a sense of accomplishment and greater well being, but why in heaven's name must it come with so much sweat and discomfort. I envy people who love to exercise, I wish I did. I love how it makes me feel, but doing it is another story.

I'm telling you, some brilliant genius invented food, while some sick jerk invented exercise!

Just thought I'd share a little of my pain today. I miss my ice cream and Dr. Pepper!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Swimmin' with the fishes

Got a few more pictures of the kids on vacation with their Grandma. I just love this one of my little fishes!

Going to Hawaii

-When I picked Sarah up from preschool yesterday one of the teachers greeted me by saying, "I'm surprised to see you today, Sarah said you were in Hawaii."

Excuse me, this is news to me! So I questioned a little more. Sarah told her teachers that I was going to Hawaii for 10 days and she wouldn't get to see me for a while. She was really going to miss me, but it was ok because Big Ben would be picking her up from school for the next 10 days.

Does she know something I don't? Is someone secretly planning a Hawaii trip for me?

-This morning I dropped Sarah off at school and a different teacher said, "oh, I'm so glad to see you, I've been wanting to talk to you." Oh, no! What could be wrong now? Then Miss Ami proceeded to tell me that she was wearing a black and white shirt one day last week. The teachers were talking about someones recent trip to Sea World when my daughter piped up with, "Miss Ami, when you wear that shirt, you look like Shamu!" Miss Ami questioned if Sarah meant that she was big like a whale and Sarah told her "uh huh!" ( I might add that Miss Ami weighs probably 100 lbs and has a body that other women envy.)

-Sarah's earring has been infected for the last few days and has required persistent cleaning. When I was cleaning it she told me that last time Big Ben helped her clean it he used "that" and she pointed to the bottle of mouthwash on the counter.

and one story from Ben...
-Friday, I was frantically getting ready for our camping trip, Big Ben was still at work, Sarah was still at school and Ben was at home with me. He wanted to know what he could do to help. I told him that he could call Papa (my dad) and let him know that we were going camping and my cell phone probably wouldn't have service. While he was on the phone with Papa, he also told him about learning to ride his bike. He told him, "Papa, guess what! I rode my bike with nothing on!" Then I heard Ben laughing riotously. Apparently Papa's response was, "Your mom lets you ride your bike naked?"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Maiden Voyage

We had our first opportunity to take our tent trailer out camping. Ben and Sarah were able to go with us this weekend. We had such a nice trip. Very dirty and we almost had to give all of our food to the meat bees, but it was fun. The kids said they wanted to stay there forever. It was cool and relaxing and close to home (less than 10 miles away). Big Ben and I took the kids on a very long, very uphill hike and they just loved it. They never complained once, we were so proud of them. Big Ben took Ben "exploring." They climbed another steep mountain. I can't wait to go camping again!

Friday, August 8, 2008

A closer look

Ben is coming up with a new modern hairstyle. It seems every time his hair is cut, he still has this. I'm considering braiding it. Maybe growing these out on either side of his head and putting them in clips.

Almost every hair cut the boy has ever gotten has been an at home job with clippers. I guess you get what you pay for.

Look Mom...

No Training Wheels

Ben declared that this as the "hardest" thing he has EVER done!

And asked that we put his training wheels back on...

but I explained to him that once you can do this, there is no going back!

It's all down hill from here, next thing I know he'll be wanting to ride his bike to school, then he'll want to drive, then he'll want to turn 18 and move out... maybe this wasn't such a good idea...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Peddling up hill

Since purchasing Sarah's new bike on Saturday and discovering a brand new bike path in town, we have been very focused on working with the kids to get more comfortable with riding their bikes. I think Ben will be ready for his training wheels to come off his bike by this weekend, they are currently bent so far up that he isn't even using them when he rides.

Sarah's little bike has training wheels still, but she has been learning many lessons about peddling hard, using her brakes and always holding on to the handle bars, even when she gets scared. Yesterday, I took them to the bike path and Sarah enjoyed her greatest accomplishment yet. She peddled with the greatest of determination and managed to go up a fairly steep incline all by herself, and then also came down the same hill without any assistance to slow her down. She was so excited. And I think it finally built her confidence enough that she will no longer have any fear.

Her accomplishment made me a little philosophical about hard work, and the rewards of it. The last couple of months have been tough, but I held on to the handle bars and peddled hard and now I feel a little stronger and more confident. The downhills are always worth the climb.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I have been repeatedly told that Ben looks so much like his dad. I by no means dispute that, however, I have never once seen it for myself. When I look at Ben, I see Ben. Each time I look in his eyes I see the same two little eyes that I first saw in the hospital 6 years ago. Every characteristic of him only reminds me of him. But, like I said I've never disputed the resemblance that everyone else so clearly sees.

When Sarah was born, a little part of me swelled as finally I heard the words, "Oh, she looks so much like you." For some reason, it was nice to know that I had passed on some of my own genetics to one of my off spring. I didn't mind for them to look like their dad, quite the contrary, but I wanted to have some part in things.

This weekend I was sitting on the front porch, as I am inclined to do frequently. Sarah was standing about 5 feet away from me leaning against a post. The low evening sun was shining on her face when she asked me a question. In that moment, when I looked up at her, the only thing I saw looking back at me were her dad's eyes. As clear as any resemblance I have ever seen, I saw her dad looking at me. It caught me a bit by surprise.

Then I sighed a deep sigh of gratitude. I am so glad that I am at peace in my relationship with their dad. I am so glad that I hold no anger or resentment. How tragic it would be to look at my children and see someone I despise. I am grateful that I didn't have that feeling when I saw his eyes in the eyes of my beautiful daughter.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tomato Soup

In case you are wondering... this is what 20 pints of home canned tomato soup looks like!
Makes me wonder, just how many pints are in THIS can of tomato soup?Wow, I'm glad that happened in Campbell's kitchen instead of mine. 20 pints was a big enough job for me!

Prarie Girl

I had to snap a couple pictures of Sarah before church today. I just love this dress, and I can't get her to wear it very often. I feel like she looks like she belongs on Little House on the Prarie when she wears it. And for even more of a treat for me, she let me curl her hair too. A mom just doesn't get much luckier than that.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Saturday

It has been a very good Saturday so far. We got up early and took the kids to some yard sales where we found a new daybed for the girls and the cutest little bike ever for Sarah. Hopefully it will work better for her than the big bike she has been trying to ride.

Then we went to Home Depot where they had a kids workshop going. The kids each selected a wooden memory tray to make and they turned out so cute.

Have I mentioned, I'm glad they're home?

Friday, August 1, 2008

2 Weeks

It has only been 2 weeks that my kids have been gone. But in just 2 weeks they seem so much bigger and older. The are saying new things and reacting to things different. Proof that if you blink with kids, you just might miss something.


Ben and Sarah came home today! In the car they were telling me all about their trip. I asked if they gave their Great-Grandma a big hug from me, to which Ben responded, "oh, you mean Super-Grandma?" And Sarah started laughing. They explained to me that Ben has decided to call her Super-Grandma instead of Great-Grandma. He thinks it fits her better, I'd probably have to agree. He says that all she needs is a cape and a mask. They are very lucky to have such a Super woman in their lives. I also love Super-Grandma very much, she is my grandma too. Really, she is my ex-grandma in-law, but I don't like that, because in my heart she is so much more.

This picture was taken 3 years ago, shortly before Super-Grandma's 80th birthday. Amazing, huh?