Sunday, September 14, 2014

All About Zander

Zander was chosen to be the High Flyer (code for student of the week) a couple weeks ago.  He was pretty proud of himself.  I got to stand in the hot sun and watch him walk up and get his certificate.  Why oh why do the teachers and principal feel it necessary to make the kids sit on the hot blacktop and swelter in the sun every Friday?!  If they can't bring themselves to move it indoors, at least keep it short and sweet.  I don't care whose class arrived on time every day, I don't need to hear the school cheer chanted over and over and you already sent home the forms for the latest fundraiser and brainwashed my kids into wanting to participate during the assembly last week so for heaven's sake don't talk about it anymore.  Just let us get into the air conditioned building!!!! 

I think he was squinting into the sun, hence the weird face.

Zander's teacher had him do an "All About Me" poster. 

I am 6 years old.
My favorite animal is chickens.
My favorite color is black, orange and red.
My favorite food is sushi.  (As in the rice krispy treat sushi Grandma Jake makes.)
Wet 'n Wild is my favorite place.
When I grow up I want to be a video game tester.
My favorite thing to do is play with my brother.
If I had one wish I would wish for a TV in my room.

Zander also finally lost his first tooth the week before school started.  And he lost his second tooth the next day.  

You know how the tooth fairy has had issues in the past making it to our house in a timely manner.  When Zander lost his first tooth she set the alarm on her fairy phone to remind her to leave a dollar under his pillow.   All went according to plan.  She seemed to have finally found the key to successful fairying.  When he lost his second tooth the tooth fairy did the same thing again since it had all worked out so well the previous night.  Sadly, she wasn't so lucky this time.  Apparently, she went to bed early and her alarm went off all night, leaving her with a dead fairy phone in the morning.  She dispatched her assistant to help Zander look for his dollar the next morning.  Only eighteen more baby teeth to go.  Eighteen more tries to get it right. 

Zander is also a little entrepreneur.  He found out that they'll be serving pizza for lunch at school on Monday.  My kids can buy lunch whenever they want...but they have to pay for it.  So Zander opened the "Awesome back massage palace".  You can get a back massage for $.05.  Or a foot, hand, cheek or ear massage for $.50 each.  He got enough customers to earn the $2.25 he needed to buy lunch tomorrow.  Hope he enjoys his pizza!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy 13th Birthday! Kylie

 I would say it feels weird to have a teenager in our house except that Kylie has been practicing the eye rolls and big sighs and other teen behavior for the past few months so it's not like anything has changed really.   She was warming up I guess.  Besides the occasional, and completely normal, bouts of teen-ness, Kylie is a joy to have in our family.  I'm constantly impressed by her level of self-confidence, yet she doesn't use it to put others down, instead she reaches out and often befriends the friendless.  She is smart and works hard in school, at swimming and playing the piano.  She tries to do her best at everything.  She is fun-loving and has picked up the art of sarcastic humor.  Kylie can be kind and helpful to her siblings, when she wants to.  She'll still play "don't touch the ground" tag with them at the park.  In short, I just love this girl and watching her grow up.

Since there was no school on Monday, we celebrated her birthday a day early.  We had gooey, delicious monkey bread for breakfast.  Grandma Jake joined us for a spaghetti and meatballs lunch.  Kylie opened her gifts and then we had cake.  It was a simple affair.

Brayden's gift to Kylie was suspiciously heavy.

Books from the thoughtful.  
Brayden thought he was hilarious.

Good thing Kylie has a sense of humor.  And good thing Brayden also wrapped a bag of mini Kit Kats for his sister.

Modeling her new swim parka, as well as some lip gloss from Zander, Taylor Swift perfume from Bryn, and jewelry, duck tape and scarf from Grandma Jake and Papa Bob. 

Who wouldn't be glad to be born into this crazy bunch?!?

I was a little sad that there was no themed birthday cake to decorate.  Kylie asked for a strawberry cake, which was a lot less work, so I got over being sad pretty quick.  I baked a white cake then poked holes in it with a fork after it cooled slightly and poured strawberry jello over the top.  Put the cake in the fridge so the jello sets, then top with Cool Whip and strawberries, drizzle chocolate syrup over the top.  It was a cool, refreshing cake on a hot day.

Once the weather cooled down, we went to the park and pulled each other on the sled.  It was Bryn's rather brilliant idea.  When Justin was pulling, he'd slingshot the kids into the soccer goal.  It was a fun ending to a nice, relaxing family day.

Happy 13th Birthday!  Kylie

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


What I'm about to tell you may be one of those things where you had to be there to find it funny.  I was there and thought the dialog was hilarious and I want to remember it years from now when I'm lonely and missing my kids and need a good laugh.  Before I continue, I have to explain that my kids refer to homeless people as "hobos".  I don't know why.  I'm not sure where they heard the term "hobo" since the train-hopping lifestyle is not so common these days.  I must admit, I always crack a smile when one of the kids sees a scruffy-looking person walking down the street and asks, "Is he a hobo?"  The word just makes me giggle. 

Getting on with the story...

Brayden, Bryn, Zander and I were at the park.  It's a super-cool park with a three-story play structure and a twisty tube slide.  It was nice to see the three of them having fun together and laughing out loud almost the entire time.  Who knew an extra story could up the fun factor so drastically.  We stayed until it got dark.  As we began our walk home, we came to the corner where Zander and Bryn proceeded to continue straight.  I told them home was to the left and they needed to turn.  They insisted they were right and that we should continue straight.  Brayden, being older, and I thought wiser than the younger ones, agreed with my direction that we turn.  So we did.  We walked past the model homes and then I realized that I couldn't see any other houses.  Only a plastic orange construction zone fence.  This was not the way home.  We turned around and walked back the way we came, at which point Brayden became a little concerned and asked, "Are we going to be hobos?"

We joked and laughed about how the two oldest in our group were lost and the two youngest were the ones who actually knew the way home.  We talked about being a hobo and I pointed to a nice corner in a vacant lot and said, "That would be a good place for us to camp tonight if we can't make it home."

Brayden:  "Yeah, and we could knock on doors and asks for blankets." (or directions maybe? lol)

Zander:  "Wait.  We won't get lost.  You can just look up directions on your phone."

Me:  "I didn't bring my phone with me."

Brayden:  "What?!?  We're hobos without a phone?  That's the worst!"

Amidst the laughing I could see moments of genuine concern in their eyes.  I guess it could be scary when the adult, who is supposed to know everything, doesn't come through for you.  Once we made it to the street that we were certain would lead us safely home, Bryn was so grateful and relieved she said, "Mom, I love you so much sometimes I don't have a big enough word to say 'I really 100 times love you!' Do you know a word that big?"  My mom smartness that had briefly left just minutes before when I tried to walk home, came back to me and I said, "There's a saying that says 'Actions speak louder than words'.  So when you hug me or brush my hair that's you saying you really 100 times love me."  I may have trouble finding my way home from the park, but I can dole out wise words when it matters.  At least I'd be a smart hobo.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stenciled Desk

This desk has been sitting in my garage for so long that I can't even find the "before" picture of it.  It was plain brown, nothing exciting.  I found it for cheap and thought it would be a fun make-over project.  Little did I know it would take me months to get around to it.

I painted it with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White and used Paris Grey diluted with Old White for the stencil design on top and for the drawer.  I've found that a dense foam roller works the best for stenciling.


As you can see, the edges got a little gloppy and you can see the line where the stencil overlaps.  

To get rid of the glops, I first went over it with a sanding sponge and then with 150 grit sandpaper.  I was going for a slightly distressed look so if the sandpaper took off a little more paint in some spots, I was okay with that.  Some shapes were misshapen because paint had gotten under the stencil.  It was easily fixed by going over the grey with white using a small paintbrush.

I distressed the edges of the entire desk just a tad.

I'm so happy with the way it turned out that I wish I had a spot for it in my house.  I didn't realize how attached I was until I sold it.  Watching it drive away in the back of someone's car made me a little sad.  But I'm sure it will look fabulous in it's new home. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Day of School

Last Wednesday it began...again.  Packing lunches, doing homework, being on a schedule.  Everyone did great the first day.  They were excited and nervous so they woke up early and were ready to go...with thirty minutes to spare.

Bryn, 3rd grade; Brayden, 6th grade;
Kylie, 8th grade; Zander, 1st grade

The girls picked their hairstyles out the night before so we could be super-efficient in the morning.  I enjoy doing their hair.  It gives us something to do together and makes them feel good when they get compliments.  Kylie's friend told her, "Your hair is always perfect and you make it look so easy."  Kylie started wearing make-up this year.  Just some tinted moisturizer, mascara and blush to enhance her natural beauty.  When did I become old enough to have a child who wears make-up?!?

 Bryn isn't always in the mood to have her hair done.  She'd be happy to put it up in a ponytail every day.  She humors me and let's me do her hair most of the time.  Besides, her little face lights up when she tells me her teachers and friends noticed her hair so she does get some joy out of it.

This year was a big change for Brayden since 6th grade is part of middle school.  He was nervous about having to rotate classrooms, change out for P.E. and be on a larger campus. Poor thing didn't eat lunch at school for the first three days because his stomach was in knots.  On the second day of school he and Sam weren't paying attention and went to lunch after an assembly instead of going to class.  They had two lunches that day.  At least they were lost and confused together.

I always make cookies on the first day of school so they will sit and tell me about their day. The chocolate chips help to coax more than a "School was good" out of them.  They were all in good spirits, as you can see.

Everyone gave a positive report except for Brayden.  He discovered that he's actually going to have to do homework this year and work hard.  At least he hasn't lost his sense of humor.

 As for me, this is my golden year.  All the kids are in school full-day for the first time and I only have to drive to two schools.  Next year they will be at three different schools.  So I am going to enjoy this year.  Maybe my baseboards will get cleaned for the second time in six years.  Maybe I'll paint more furniture.  Maybe I'll find some home-schoolers to give piano lessons to.  Oh the possibilities!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wet 'N Wild Palm Springs

Our last day of summer vacation  we went to Wet 'N Wild in Palm Springs.  I was a little leery because of the mixed reviews I read online.  The family we went with had gone before and had a positive experience so we trusted them and went for it.  The big draw is the lack of crowds and the fact that they have water slides for all ages.  We were not disappointed! 

There was hardly anyone there.  We weren't standing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers in the wave pool like I've done at other water parks. The longest wait line for a water slide was maybe ten minutes.  Except for the Flowrider, that was a long wait time but only because they give each person a good amount of time to "surf".  And it was worth the wait. 

They offer a good variety of slides ranging from tiny ones for toddlers to medium ones for little kids to regular ones for wimps like me and scary ones for those who are brave. There were three slides that Zander could go on in the jungle gym area.  They were big enough that he didn't feel like they were baby slides and Justin and I could go on them, too.  Zander proved to be one brave kid when it comes to water slides though.  He went on four of the regular slides and thought they were the funnest things ever.  As I was going down them I got worried that Zander would find them too fast, or the drops too big.  Turns out, I'm a bigger chicken than he is.  He even went on a tube slide.  I don't do tube slides.  Being enclosed makes me claustrophobic.  Bryn, Brayden and Kylie were daredevils and went on the Pacific Spin slide that shoots you down a tunnel and into a ginormous funnel where you go up the sides.  Scary!  Bryn thought it was the greatest thrill ride she'd ever been on.  On the way to the water park Brayden said, "I'm going to try more things this time."  And he did.  It seems I will always be left to sit by myself while everyone else goes off and does things I'm too chicken to try. 

It was fun going with friends.  Sam is Brayden's best friend and our families get along well. It always worked out that there was an adult to take kids to different areas of the park so everyone was happy and it was go, go, go all day.  Natalie and I even got to sit at the edge of the wave pool and chat for a bit. 

We packed a lunch and ate it in the car...with the air conditioner running, of course. It was 105ยบ.

Justin, Brayden and Kylie did the Flowrider.  It was entertaining just sitting and watching people try to do tricks.  You start at the top of the "wave" and jump onto it with a boogie board.

Kylie was able to get up on her knees...pretty cool.

Brayden did well also.

The spray is pretty big when you wipe out.

Justin had some fancy moves.

He even managed a barrel roll and he got one leg up...pretty awesome.


We stayed until the park closed and then grabbed a bite to eat at Chipotle before heading home. You know how every once in a while you find a family outing that works out fabulously?  Everyone is happy.  Nobody complains.  You make great memories.  You're that brand of happy-tired from a day of playing hard.  This was one of those days.

Another Mermaid Sighting

Summer vacation is over.  Gone are the lazy days of no schedules and sleeping in.  I was really getting used to that lifestyle.  But I suppose the kids do need an education.  It helps that we said goodbye to summer with three straight days of fun.

On Saturday friends invited us to go to the beach with them.  Zander and Brayden decided to get in on the boogie boarding action this time.  They both did great riding the waves.



Brayden was digging a massive hole and the others kindly offered to bury him.  He laid back, relaxed, closed his eyes and was blissfully unaware of the mischievous goings-on. 

Still unaware...

Moment of discovery..."Hey!  You made me into a mermaid!"

We got Chick-Fil-A milkshakes on the way home and crashed in front of a movie after removing the mounds of sand and salt from our bodies.  The next day we went to church and then drove out to Orange County to say goodbye to Justin's cousin.  Jill and her family are going on a three-year adventure to New Zealand.  It was nice to spend time with that side of the family and eat a delicious Mexican dinner.  Our third day of fun was at a water park in Palm Springs, which I think I'll make a separate post for.  The "f" on my keyboard isn't working.  Nor does the comma or the number 5 key.  I have to copy and paste them from the character map and it's getting a little irritating.  I'm going to take a break, restart my computer and see if that will magically fix the problem.  Wish me luck.