Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday!

First things first.  Porter turned seven right before Christmas.  I still sort of can't believe it.  Seven seems so big kid.  There is hardly a trace of the chubby toddler that sat on my lap and willingly gave me hugs in front of other people.  He is independent and funny and just growing up so fast. 

In honor of his day, we decided to have five of his friends over for a slumber party.  Fun times were had, but it was exhausting.  Those boys sure can stay up all night long.



And then Christmas!  We had a fairly relaxing day with only a few chocolate induced melt downs.  It was nice.  The kids were excited and happy.  I put them in decent clothes and tried to get a good picture.  I failed.  But that's okay.


Happy holidays to everyone out there. And much love in 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mexico

So we took the kids down to Mexico for two weeks in early December.  It was hot and sunny and beautiful, and we forgot all about snow and Christmas and Alaska and real life. 

The day that we arrived, we hurried to the room, threw on some shorts, took off our shoes and headed down to the beach.  Cedar stood at the edge of the ocean in her bare feet and contemplated the water.  Then when the surf edged close to her feet, she looked at me nervously and ran away.  Fast.  I'm pretty sure she thought it was going to be freezing cold just like every other ocean she's ever seen.  Once I dragged her in there against her will though, she had a change of heart.  And everything was up from there.






Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thankful

It's been awhile!  I have been out of town pretty much since Molly's birthday, but we are finally home for good and trying to get ready for the holidays.  We were lucky enough to go on a family vacation to warm and sunny climes, but there will be more on that later (plus pictures).

Right now, in light of family and national tragedies, I am so,so thankful for my warm home, kids that get to wake up and go to school, and a wonderful community that really makes this time of year special.  And I will leave you with just a few moments of goofiness (otherwise titled the only video I've taken ever where all three kids cooperated for more than two seconds, or dark and blurry dance party on my phone). 

video

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Four!

My crazy, sweet, ferocious Molly Mo turns four tomorrow.  We celebrated today, and it was wonderful.  The day was pretty crazy (we also celebrated Thanksgiving), but she took it all in stride, my amazing middle (but most definitely never forgotten) middle child.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Same Old Thing

Head lice seems to be a thing of the past for us, although every time someone scratches their head, you will find me picking through their hair to the chorus of Mooooooooooom.  I also have dreams about it, almost nightly.  But, moving on.

Here is Porter's kindergarten school picture from last year:


And here is his first grade school picture that I received last week:

 
Yes, he completely insisted on wearing the same shirt two years in a row, despite my suggestions to the contrary.  I think he looks a little older though. 
 

We are right in the thick of the holiday insanity right now, and the kids have all week off from school for Thanksgiving.  I so want to enjoy this wonderful time of year with my them, but I've also been stressed, and I've had a bit of a short fuse.  Today Molly hid in a big packing box and colored her face, hands, feet and pants with an orange marker.  She realized this was not something she was going to get away with easily, and tried to sneak out of the room wearing the box over her head.  The orange feet were a dead giveaway though.  I got kind of mad, and she told me that Mama, this makes my heart just hurt.  It's hard to argue with that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plague, Pestilence & Obama!

Election coverage in Alaska can make you feel pretty insignificant.  The polls are still open here when CNN declares the winner of the presidential election.  I'm pretty sure our big state will never make or break any national election, but voting still feels good.  And (the best part), you can watch all the live election coverage at a very decent hour and still get to bed on time.  Yay Obama!  But as this is a parenting blog, I digress.

I survived some kind of parenting rite of passage this weekend.  I took Porter to get his hair cut (no, not that).  It had been too long, but hey, it really worked with the werewolf costume.  The barber finishes up, I hand him the cash, and he calls me over to "show me something."  He parts Porter's hair, and three little black things scurry away onto another part of his head.  Oh good Lord.  It took me a second to sort of process what was happening, and the barber says, "I'm not sure what that is, but I think he needs to take a shower."  Completely mortified and put in my place as a horrible parent who doesn't bathe her pestilence ridden child, I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.

Back in the car, I realized that we had a full on case of HEAD LICE.  This was seriously my worst nightmare.  I never had lice as a kid, and it just never crossed my mind.  Even though I got a letter home the other day that it was going around in Porter's school, I never even checked him.  I just didn't think it could happen to us.  On the way home, I ran into the drugstore and bought the biggest bottle of chemicals I could find.  I also called Bryce and cried.  At home, I looked at Porter's head one more time, and really, it was the most awful thing I've ever seen.  And I've seen some gross kid stuff.  All four of us got the pesticide treatment, my good friend Google was consulted, a pile of laundry the size of my entire downstairs bathroom was amassed, and I was feeling sort of okay about it.

That night, Cedar just wasn't sleeping well.  I was feeling bad about the lice shampoo I used on her, as it said right on the bottle not to use it on kids younger than two years, and I thought her head might be bothering her.  So I let her sleep in bed with me for hours.  It was a fitful and entirely not restful night.  After we all got up in the morning, I did a check on each kid's head, and I found a live, living, crawling louse on Cedar's head.  On my baby!  That slept on my pillow all night long.  That probably couldn't sleep because she was itchy.  And my head started crawling all on it's own.  That's when I called Bryce in Petersburg in a hot mess of teary panic.  I needed someone to check my head!  I needed more lice shampoo and I couldn't drive my car, because all the car seats were inside being decontaminated!  Oh my God there were bugs crawling on the baby's head!  And I have to say that Bryce wins the good husband award, because he flew home.  He flew home to spend hours going through our heads with a nit comb (nothing on me or Molly!) and helping me while I washed every freaking towel, sheet, blanket, pillow, coat, hat, car seat cover, dress up costume and stuffed animal in our house.

It's not totally over yet as we all get another pesticide treatment this weekend, but I'm pretty sure that there are no lice or nits anywhere in our house right now.  My head doesn't itch every time I think about it anymore.  I had to take Porter to the school nurse on Monday morning, and he got to go back to class with a big pink post-it note with a zero on it.  I'm also an expert on all things louse related.  And it's not as scary now that we've been through it.  Knock on wood we never have to again.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween out there.






There was laughter.  There were tears.  There was a cow, a werewolf and a princess/ballerina/flying monkey.  There were frozen feet and way too much candy.  And then thankfully, there was bedtime. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mom Down

With Bryce gone for months, my worst fear as a single mom has been getting really sick.  Myself.  Sick kids I can deal with, even when they all go down.  I'm not easily grossed out, I'm used to not sleeping and cleaning up messes.  And really, sick kids are usually good for hours of cuddling and watching TV.  But being sick myself and having to deal with the exhausting routine of three small children all day and night just makes me want to crawl in a hole.  But on Friday, it finally happened.  I got the stomach flu and spent all night hugging the toilet.  And then I woke up Saturday morning with three healthy kids demanding breakfast, who I had promised to take to the haunted house.  I will admit to feeling pretty sorry for myself and having a bit of a pity party in my pajamas for a few hours.  But we made it.  No worse for the wear. 

We even got dressed and took Porter to the mall so he could go through the haunted house.  The girls didn't go as there was no way I was repeating last year's epic parenting fail, but he had a good time.  We also got the big kids ski pass photos taken, where they promptly sensed my foul mood, and totally stopped cooperating.

 
Stay safe out there on the East Coast.  Night.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Winter


Our visits to the beach are now complete with snow suits.  It's cold!  On this particular trip, it was just me and the girls heading out for a quick stop at the beach by our house.  I geared Cedar up in that outfit, and encouraged Molly to do the same.  She had been outside that morning.  I repeated the fact that it was really cold and windy.  I offered suggestions on clothing options.  And she insisted on wearing a t-shirt, a windbreaker, and pink sneakers.  And I said okay. 

Now, when she goes to skiing lessons or preschool, I sort of force her to wear weather appropriate outfits.  But she is so stubborn.  And the theory is that she has to figure out for herself that being cold really sucks.  And that you have to wear a hat and gloves and a winter coat in October in Alaska. 

So we went to the beach.  And we stayed for about half an hour.  And by the end Molly was in tears, howling about her hands hurting.  And her coat.  And Moooooooooom.  Why did you not bring my gloves??  So we went home.  And I'm not really sure anyone learned a lesson.  Except maybe for me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Judge Not

Porter and Molly have been taking swimming lessons in the evening this month.  It's a hectic time of night, right before dinner.  There are multiple lessons going on at the same time, one after another.  So there are a lot of parents and siblings at the pool, in the locker room, and waiting in the lobby, where you observe the kids in the pool through big windows.

I ran into an acquaintance of mine in the lobby, after I had already deposited the big kids in their appropriate spots.  Cedar and I sat down, and she began to tell me the story of her day.  The gist of it was, her husband was out of town, she ran over her cell phone, and had to spend an hour at the cell store with her three kids (all of whom are five and under) in tow.  Sucks.  She was tired.  I was sorry.

And then right at the end of her story, another parent in the lobby taps her on the shoulder and points to one of her youngest boys.  He's banging on the vending machine, she says.  It's really loud.  My friend sighs, and makes a move to get up.  And then the lady says, I think he just needs some attention.  With a big fake smile.  I looked at my friend, and it sort of looked like she was going to cry.  But she got it together, basically ignored the other woman, and her son came back over on his own.  She got up quickly though, and waited in another part of the room.

I couldn't really say anything, because this acquaintance of mine, I don't know her that well.  But I should have.  I am blown away by other parents sometimes, and the way they feel they can pass judgement.  You really never know what's going on in somebody's life, it could be a whole lot harder than a broken phone.  This other woman was there with her husband, watching what appeared to be their only child take swimming lessons in the pool.  The grandma even showed up and watched.  They all doted on the boy afterwards, and I couldn't help but give them the stink eye.  When they couldn't even help the mom on her own with three little kids having a hard day.  Because really, that could have easily been me. 

But.  I suppose I have no idea what those other people are really like either.  Judge not.  Right?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rules and Muffins

Even though Porter's seventh birthday is still several months away, he still wants to talk about his birthday party pretty much all the time.  This will be his first year hosting a sleep-over.  I'm really happy about this coming of age event as it cuts down the number of guests and hassles by quite a bit.  So tonight during the discussion, I asked him who he wanted to invite.  He named all of the usual suspects.  And then also a girl. 

Now.  I first want to say that I'm very pleased that Porter has come around to girls.  He went through a sort of anti-girl phase during the last couple of years where anything even remotely pink was met with a tantrum.  He wouldn't admit to being friends with girls or even wanting to be around them.  Girls were gross and stupid.  This year, he actually admitted that girls are kind of sort of pretty nice.  We even had a couple over for a play date along with another boy.  One in his class taught him the secret to swinging really high, and he sung her praises for weeks.  It's been nice.

So I'm glad he would want to have boys and girls over on his birthday.  But there definitely seems to be an unspoken rule that girls and boys don't spend the night together, even at this age.  Porter has been to a number of sleep-overs, and they've always been boys only.  I'd feel weird having a girl here with a bunch of Porter's farting, burping, Star Wars, Lego head friends.  And I'm sure it wouldn't be okay with her parents either.

I told Porter that only boys could spend the night.  He asked my why.  I told him it was just a rule, that girls and boys didn't have sleep-overs together.  He asked me who made that rule.  And I told him I didn't know, but that's how it was.  Not a very good answer, but really the best I had given his limited knowledge.  I suppose he'll get it soon enough.  But when did my boy get old enough that I have to keep girls away from him?  It's all happening very fast.

And speaking of girls.

 
Also, now that fall is here in force, I'm feeling more of an urge to bake.  I made these Apple Strudel Muffins last week, and they were fantastic.  My kids, although they love apples, will not eat baked goods that have chunks of fruit in them.  It must be a texture thing.  The apples in these are shredded, and basically disappear during baking.  The taste is still there though, perfect for this chilly weather.  We polished off the entire batch in one afternoon with some small help from my next door neighbor and a couple of Porter's friends.  Yum.



Apple Strudel Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 apples, peeled and grated

for topping:

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a muffin tin.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

Beat together softened butter, sugars and eggs until smooth in a large bowl.  Mix in vanilla.  Stir in apples.  Add the flour mixture, and mix until just combined.  The batter will be thick.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin.

In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients.  Sprinkle over the mixture in the muffin tin.  The topping will spread, so just add it to the middle of the muffins.

Bake about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.  These are great while still warm though, so don't let them cool too long!  Enjoy.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Dawson Needs A Walk

Before Bryce left, I thought about how my evenings would go after the kids went to bed.  I figured that without someone else here at night, I wouldn't have anyone to talk to, drink wine with, or encourage me to watch Dexter or Breaking Bad (both shows I just cannot watch while home alone).  I thought I could really get a lot accomplished around the house.  I could organize all the pictures.  Clean the floors.  Fold laundry.  And surely I could start blogging every day.  Alas, after homework and swimming lessons and wrangling the kids into blissful slumber, I have about zero inclination to do anything except sit on the couch.  And maybe check Facebook.

I've been feeling overwhelmed, because the house is sliding deeper and deeper into the dark side of super gross.  Dawson really needs a walk.  I ought to be reading with Porter every day.  I should be volunteering in his classroom, but I basically never do.  We ate pizza again.  I haven't even looked at the garden in a month.  And I really see no hope of any of these things getting done or better for awhile.  But.  I know that even with my slightly obsessive tendencies, I just have to let it all go.  No one cares except me (well, and maybe Dawson). 

Then, last weekend, we got a surprise visit from Bryce.  It was very short, but we were all very happy to be reunited, however briefly.  And while he was here, I got even less done than before.  And none of it mattered.  And I was happy.

 
This is from our soaking wet camping trip back in September.  Also hard.  But also happy.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Same Alaska

Different Girl.


 
 
Maybe also a little more sun in September.
 
And just in case they grow up to be Republicans:
 

 
I will know that we watched the Democratic National Convention together in 2012. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Two Moments

Molly, standing on the kitchen counter, eyes down, arms up, very concentrated look on her face, softly repeating:  I believe I can fly, I believe I can fly, I believe I can fly.



Porter:  Mom, there's a girl in my class who wants the boys to call her hot.  And it's not what you think.  It's not like when you stand too close to the fire.

I am thinking that I should appreciate preschool and its innocent charm just a little bit more often. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Back Home

Bryce came home for two nights and one day this week.  It was great to have him here, but also kind of sad to say good-bye again.  This time for a whole lot longer.  His visit for work happened to coincide with Porter's back to school night, which was hectic and not all that useful.  But we did get to see some fun self portraits.



With Bryce home, I even got the chance to take a walk by myself, which I took in the forest behind our neighborhood.  I took a wander off the trail, and when I got back to where it should be, it just wasn't.  I looked around and all of a sudden nothing looked familiar, and I started doubting which direction I should even take.  Or where I came from.  I spent some time walking around in circles, following what felt like imaginary tracks.  It was silly, because I've been up there many times, and it really should be pretty hard to get lost.  I got that little panicky feeling in my throat, but then I remembered my phone.  Turns out those maps are pretty useful, even if it's just a big blank spot with a blinking blue dot.  I could tell I was going in the right direction and getting closer to my house.  And even though Dawson was my only witness, I felt really, really un-Alaskan walking through the forest staring down at my phone.  But I was also really, really glad to find my way back.   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Her Turn

Today was Molly's first day back at preschool this year.  It really wasn't all that momentous of an occasion as she went there last year and knows everyone.  Plus it really is such a warm and cozy place, I'd hang out there if I could.  But it was surely worthy of a front door picture.


She is also back in ballet and swimming lessons.  Which is great, for her and for me.  She is also dead to the world asleep 30 seconds after I put her to bed at 7pm.


Now that I have two mornings a week without the bigs, I can get a few things done.  Today I took Cedar to get her passport.  It is sort of tricky to get a photo of babies and toddlers since you can't really hold them or be behind them at all, and we were out of our element in a back room at the post office.  Three truly lovely postal workers were dancing around behind the camera, but all they managed to do is scare poor Cedar half to death. 


They said all that mattered is that her eyes were open, so I think we're good.  Forlorn looks aside.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Week That Was

Last week was long.  And tiring.  The highlight reel is this:

Bryce left on a plane for a job in another town.  He will likely be gone until mid-November, and will probably only be home for a night once or twice.  It was a hard decision for him, but we will survive and keep the home fires burning.  Molly asks me every day when he is coming home, but two and a half months is too long for a three year old to understand.  Lucky for me, he is safe and sound and not in Afghanistan, and we know he will be home in time for Christmas and the kids' birthdays.

I weaned Cedar.  We were both kind of sad about it, but it was clearly time. 

I went camping with a friend of mine and our six small children.  It would have been a lot easier if it hadn't rained the entire time or if the ratio of kids to adults was slightly more reasonable.  But we had fun.  Everyone got a lot of fresh air, and Cedar got about 600 bug bites on her head.

Porter seems to be enjoying first grade, and has apparently decided this year that girls are sort of okay.  Other than that, and his super 911 crazy underdogs on the swings, I can't get much out if him.  I will assume he is also learning stuff for now.

Finally, Molly and a friend were mobbed by Japanese tourists while playing by a lake.  It was an odd experience all around.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kids and Love

After Porter's first day of school, and much prodding on my part, I finally was able to get something, anything out of him about being a brand new first grader.  He told me that when he walked down the hallway all by himself that morning, he felt tears in his eyes.  He said, "Mom, I missed you so much."  Tears welled up in my eyes at my sweet baby boy that only pretends to not want me around.  And then he said, "or maybe I was just cold."

With that I will leave you with the best picture I took of my parents with all their grandchildren.  Kids I tell ya.  But then also my dad. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Grade



My baby boy started first grade today!  He is no longer a lowly kindergartner, but an actual grader, moving one step higher on the totem pole.  Compared to last year, the day was fairly anti-climactic and calm.  It will take some adjusting back to the early morning schedule, plus he will have a longer day of classes, but we were all excited to get back in the swing of things.  I'm a little nervous about this year, his teacher and the school, but Porter managed to make it all seem like no big deal.  He actually asked me (in a quiet little voice) this morning if maybe I could not go with him.  A request that sadly was not honored (I thought I had a few years before he didn't want me around), but I think that an after school ice cream treat more than made up for it.  Growing up and moving forward!    

Friday, August 17, 2012

Penny

I have been putting off this post, partly because there are many more positive things to talk about, and partly because I was holding out hope, and partly because it just makes me feel like an awful person.  But here.

A couple of days before the kids and I left on our trip, we brought a brand new puppy home.  Bryce and I had been talking about this for years, and the right opportunity finally fell in our laps.  She was an 8 week old female black lab, and we named her Penny.  She was a puppy and she peed in our house, but she was cute as hell and we all loved her.  Dawson was skeptical at first, but he came around after awhile.  Penny followed him everywhere, and they slept together at night, curled up in a big black ball of fur.

And then Bryce was walking the dogs one day, one second she was there, and the next she was just gone.  He looked for hours and hours, for days on end.  Friends of ours looked.  Signs were put up.  Radio shows and animals shelters were called.  But we are pretty sure that she was swept away in a fast moving river, and that little Penny just was not long for this world.  It was a freak accident, and even though Bryce feels horrible, it wasn't anyone's fault. 

Luckily for us, the kids only knew her for a few days, and it wasn't very traumatic for them.  Porter cried a couple of times, but it was more just tears over a sad story than over the loss of a friend.  Molly doesn't really understand.  Bryce and I mostly just feel guilty. 

And then, just this morning, I heard a story on the radio about a family hiking in Yosemite, and their six year old son who was carried away in a fast moving river, who is now presumed dead.  Oh my God.  The horror of that story made me realize (and I know Bryce is there too) that although our sad little story has been weighing heavily on our hearts, we really are the lucky ones.  Hug your children (of all kinds) close.  Life can change in an instant.

Rest in peace little Penny dog.  You will be missed.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Henry Bryce

I'm an aunt again!  My wonderful sister-in-law had another baby boy on Sunday night, and he is perfect, of course.  Big congratulations to Allison and Dan and big brother Hugh.  We love you!

Welcome to the world Henry Bryce.  We hope to meet you very, very soon. 


Also, I adore your name.

Friday, August 10, 2012

One Month

It has actually been more than a month since I last posted here.  Time flies, right?  There has been a lot to say, some good, some bad, some just life.  I'm hoping I will eventually get to it all.  The highlight was taking the kids down to Oregon to see family and friends.  It was hot and lovely and we saw some of our favorite people in the whole wide world.  It was my first time traveling with all three kids by myself.  And I survived.  I'll say that much.

It was great to see cousins.  And dance in the sun.








And one of my oldest, dearest, and most beautiful friends got married.  Congratulations Mary and Ryan!  A fantastic time was had by all.


More stories to come, but we are back home now.  And school starts in 10 DAYS.  Ack.  My baby boy is going to be a first grader. 

Lastly, you just ought to try this falafel recipe.  It was really easy and very, very tasty.  I used canned garbanzo beans, and they turned out great.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Independence Day

We skipped the fireworks again this year, but enjoyed our small town parade.


And celebrated the return of the soap box car derby.  Much fun was had by all.


Well, almost all I guess.


While we were waiting for the parade to start, Porter asked me why everyone was waving American flags.  I laughed and told him, because, silly, it's the Fourth of July.  I received a blank stare in return.  You know, Independence Day.  More blank stare.  Sigh.  Another parenting FAIL.  Because all this holiday is about is gunpowder, fire trucks and car races.  Right? 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Land and Sea

Our garden and the ocean have started to provide for us this year.  And it is delicious.



The wildlife has been giving me a hard time though.  And I haven't exactly come up with the solution.  I don't think the blue jays are scared of my plastic snakes.  The deer either.