That House in the Neighborhood

When we first moved into out house in the suburbs, I wasn’t sure how I’d like living so far out from the city. Having lived in a city for the past, oh, 20 years, I was used to the hustle and bustle and living within walking distance to a variety of restaurants and bars.

Then came the kids and the “walking” to our local establishments became a process. It was still fun and convenient, but the ease part of that equation was now missing. And there is no, “go outside and don’t come in til dinnertime!” when you live on a busy main road. I mean, that my kids were 3 and 1 was also a factor, but I also didn’t see it as something that would occur in the near future. If my kids wanted to go outside and play, I would need to go with them.

So off to the suburbs we went. Now the prospect of throwing my kids outside and having them find their own fun was a reality. Except there were no other kids visibly outside for them to play with.

But then…a family moved in across the street with a similar, “go outside and don’t come back til the streetlights come on!” mentality.

I saw a girl near-ish Mahlie’s age, scootering down the sidewalk, by herself. No adult.

“QUICK! Get your scooter, go outside and introduce yourself!” The possibility of a partner in cul de sac crime was imminent.

Since then, a wonderful friendship has grown and my girls are out gallivanting with the neighbors with minimal adult interference. There has been the occasional pine cone throwing  misadventure leading to a poked eye, a less than pleased neighbor that received an apology note from my kids for all kinds of trespassing on her property, but overall my ideal neighborhood situation was emerging.

My husband and I always said we’d be fine with all the kids gathering in our yard. We’d know where they are and there would be someone else to keep them occupied.

Yesterday I had the picture perfect experience. My girls were super disappointed that mommy was no longer keeping her promise to go to the pool all day because oh my gosh long weekends are long. So we put out a sprinkler and I said all the neighborhood kids could come.

And come they did. A sprinkler on the law during the summer is like a Bat Signal to kids. They converged from up and down the cul de sac, lugging their towels, asking for goggles (for the sprinkler?) and squirt guns. Some parents came along and I got out extra chairs and we had an impromptu gathering in the driveway. Some parents looked at me in that knowing way and I immediately gave the invite; “feel free to leave them here- we’re good if you need to go do something.”

For 2 hours my kids had water fights and water chases and water battles. I got to spend more than 5 minutes sitting down.

I’m good with being “that house” in the neighborhood.

Have a great crazy day!

Looking Around

This past weekend my husband was out of town and I had the girls and 2 full days of “what the hell am I going to do?” ahead of me.

My one goal was to wear them out. I planned a packed weekend that ideally would have them crashed out and leaving me alone with my glass of wine at a decent hour. A girl can have goals, y’all.

Saturday was already filled with Mahlie’s track event, and since that involved lots of running, the exercise piece was already taken care of. Afterwards it was to the park to get the little one tuckered. On Sunday it was up and out bright and early, first to a park we’d never been to before, then to lunch at a popular restaurant, the bookstore, the garden store….whoo.

I can guarantee at least one of us was totally exhausted. We had a great weekend, spent a lot of time together, had fun, only a few tantrums, but man.

It wasn’t just the moving around and being busy and being physically tired.

I was constantly looking around.

Looking around at all the people.

And looking for the exit routes.

I’ve taken to planning my “escape route” when I am out in busy areas. The mall, for sure. Restaurants, yep. You’d think a park with so many young kids….but then there was the concert in Manchester yesterday.

I am constantly looking around. For my way out.

It’s exhausting and sad and scary, and I wish I could tell myself “oh, don’t worry, it won’t happen to us here” but that is what I am sure everyone says until it does happen to them there.

I wish I could enjoy my outings with my kids without the morbid voice in the back of my head guiding me to look for the closest exit in case a person comes in to do the unimaginable.

I’m not going to stop giving my kids freedom to run around in their neighborhood. I’m not going to stop taking them out and sharing in new experiences. I’m not going to wrap them in bubble wrap and put them away for safe keeping until it’s safe to come out….because when will that be?

So, I’ll continue my being vigilant with my escape route plans. But I’ll be out there. Looking around.

Prayers and thoughts are going out to all the families that lost loved ones or who experienced the traumatizing events of yesterday’s attack in Manchester.

 

The Talk(er)

Have you ever seen the car commercial where the dad is putting his daughter in the backseat of the car, and she is just jabbering away and he’s trying to get to the drivers seat but is politely trying to wait for a break in her chatter?

There was no break in the chatter. So he just closes the door, gets in the front seat, and his daughter is still talking, seemingly unaware that her communication partner had ducked out for a second.

That is my child. Well, she’s not the one in the commercial. But she talks like her.

She is my jibber-jabberer.

I remember being SO excited to hear her first word.  It is the millionth word in the past hour that I am not so excited about. Especially if I am listening to those words through the door of the bathroom.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s not constantly talking. But when she gets going- my word!, or in this case, my hundreds of words!- she just keeps going.

She also loves to talk at times when she shouldn’t be talking. Like when someone else is talking.

Or in class. Which was prominently featured in her most recent “report card”. She is a great student, does her work, does it well, loves to learn.

But the talking….

During quiet work time, during group work time, during hallway transition time, during centers time….ALL.THE.TIME.

Last night before bed we had our nightly “cuddle”, which consists of a hug and a check in before lights out. This is one of her favorite times to “get going”. She’ll go all evening with barely answering my questions, but then when it’s time to call it a good-night, she gets chatty. Last night she was particularly chatty, talking to me all about where she is in Harry Potter, the crazy thing her friend did, the crazy thing she did, how crazy her sister is, why is everybody so crazy…

While she’s talking I am gently pushing her back onto her bed and covering her up and she says, “Mommy, I’m talking too much, aren’t I?”

“Yes, Sweets, you are a bit chatty tonight. Time to rest your brain [so you can talk all day tomorrow].”

“I don’t know why I like to talk so much, why do you think I like to talk so much? Do you know anyone that likes to talk as much as me I don’t think anyone else talks as much as me but I’m going to try and not talk so much anymore”….talktalktalktalktalktalktalktalktalk..

I silently back slowly out of the room, closing the door, listening as my sweet, sweet, child just will not stop talking.

Have a great crazy day!

 

 

 

 

The Fancy Dress

Getting dressed for school is always a  disaster, debacle, rage inducing experience challenge.

Parents everywhere are spitting out their coffee yelling, “YES!” in solidarity with this statement.

First, when your child is still young enough to not have an opinion about what to wear, there is the issue of tiny buttons. Tiny buttons for big adult hands or too small fasteners for aging eyes. It is impossible. There is yelling and crying and cursing and shouting.

Then, when your child has opinions and wants to choose her own outfits, you get something like this:

Or this:

Or this:

There was a time when my kids would match. There was a time when my kids looked put together. There was a time when I would care. That time has passed. I don’t care if it matches or is even appropriate for the weather. Whatever they have on when it is time to leave, that is what they are wearing. Halloween costume in March? Be my guest. A dress AND a skirt? Sure, looking great.

But one thing I drew the line at was The Fancy Dress.

My girls, believe me, have plenty of clothes. They have choices up the wazoo of dresses and clothes that are fine to wear to school, get dirty, get torn, get lost, etc. So I started hiding the fancy dresses, the ones saved for “special” events, in the back of the closet. I would hide packages that came in with fancy dresses. I got play dresses and day dresses and I don’t care if this comes back covered in mud dresses.

But all Sarah wanted were: fancy dresses. Fancy dresses that are pretty and beautiful. And twirl. They must twirl.

So. I bought fancy dresses. Fancy dresses that twirl. Fancy dresses that are a step up in price from Target but made well enough that when they are washed from all the getting muddy, they will not fall apart.

From a child’s point of view, EVERY day is a special day deserving of a fancy dress. Now I have a certain special little person who fancies herself a fancy dress every day who is VERY happy.

Thanks to Zulily, my favorite discount website, these super cute Llum dresses, that are typically far beyond my “these are everyday fancy dresses that are most likely going to have a short shelf life” budget, were affordable.

Now my sassy Sarah can flounce off to school looking super fancy and feeling super happy. And I’m not going to be stressing over her getting her “special outfits” dirty.

It’s time we ditched saving fancy dresses for special occasions. Let them wear dresses with snow boots when they go geocaching. Let them wear tulle on a regular ole Tuesday. Crazy, you say?

Yep. That is my life.

 

Have a great crazy day!

 

 

Homemade

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you’ve noted all of the arts and crafts taking place in our home. I am a glutten for punishment, I know. It sort of makes my heart sing though, when my 4yo comes up to me, abandoning her Saturday morning cartoons, asking if I could “set up an activity” for her. Of course, I then need to abandon my hot cup of coffee to spend the next 30 minutes trying to figure out exactly WHAT activity she had in mind because clearly none of the ones I have chosen, the ones that require minimal adult intervention, make the cut. A small price to pay, I say to myself, as I put my coffee in the microwave for the 9th time.

Whenever possible, I insert art into my kids’ day. They especially like to make art for others. Cards for friend’s and family’s birthday’s are fan favorites.

But the mother of all homemade cards: Valentines Day.

I heart doilies and pink construction paper. Call me old fashioned like that. With buckets full of puffy hearts and a ton of glitter, my girls got to work. Their Valentines did not disappoint.

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Heart shaped glitter laden Valentines in the making!

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The “dead” Valentine.

Sarah decided to give all her valentines “faces” and make them into people. The above was my favorite, the “Dead One” as she called it. I’d love to know which friend got this card!

Do your kids make homemade gifts or cards?

Have a great crazy day!

Capers and olives and olives and olives and olives…

Last week I posted about conversations I have with my mom about completely mundane, everyday life stuff. The most recent was about my quest to find a jar of olives for my dinner that night, but instead all I had was a giant jar of capers. So my dinner plan for that night was thwarted.

OR, my pantry was playing tricks on me. Because look:

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The elusive jar of olives on the 3rd shelf.

On the one hand, I am quite glad that I was not crazy like I thought and that I indeed DID buy olives. However, clearly my packed pantry can also cause some issues. In the words of my daughter, “You might want to calm down a bit with the stocking of the pantry.”

Anyone have another good recipe that includes olives? I’ve got plenty!

Have a great crazy day!

Olives & Capers

I hung up the phone with my mom and looked up to see my husband staring at me with an incredulous look on his face.

At first I was nervous that perhaps I said something about him, forgetting he was in the room. Maybe I said an undesirable word in front of my daughter, who was sitting on the couch in hearing range.

“What? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“I just listened to you have a conversation with your mom for 10 minutes about capers and olives.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

He shook his head and turned around.

Okay people- I DID talk to my mom about capers and olives. Or, more specifically, I was lamenting to her about the fact I didn’t have olives for the recipe I had planned for that night and while talking to her I was walking around the kitchen and the pantry saying, “I could have SWORN I bought a massive jar of olives. Or maybe I’m thinking about the massive jar of capers. No, I SWEAR I have olives somewhere.”

The conversation did, I’ll give him this, go on for quite some time, with my mom quipping in, “well, could you just use capers instead of olives?” This then  started a conversation about olive/caper substitutions and how that might work.

It was decided it would not. In case you were wondering. And we had quesadillas instead, also in case you were wondering.

Yes, I talk to my mom often. These conversations are often not about much, but the fact I have someone that I CAN call and talk to about olives and capers, or how to cook an artichoke, or where I can find good bath towels, or how to season a cast iron skillet, that is what matters. My husband should be THANKING me that I don’t engage him in these conversations so he can go back to reviewing the latest pass rushing yards of his favorite QB, or the short list for the HOF, or the stats for the Heisman Trophy finalists, or the potential picks for his team in the NFL draft.

That’s right hubby. You’re WELCOME.

As for the olives and capers- turns out it was a huge ass jar of capers I had, so I went out and bought 2 slightly smaller jars of olives and now I’m all set and will make my recipe on Saturday. In case you were wondering, mom.

Have a great crazy day!