Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Supper Before and After

I have posted before about my picky eaters.  I know this fact of life (believe me) and I try very hard to work with it.  However, sometimes, their pickiness is just beyond ridiculous.  For example, last night, I fixed what I would consider a pretty basic family supper - meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and some squash (just because I had it in the freezer).  I didn't expect the kids to eat the squash, but everything else was pretty "run of the mill."  Here are the results:

Rachel's plate before

Rachel's plate after.  All she ate was mashed potatoes, obviously. Is she kidding?  She is, after all, the vegetarian, but she eats almost no vegetables!

Megan's plate before

Megan's plate after.  O.K. I can't complain about this one too much.  Wish she had eaten some green beans, but otherwise, she ate well.  Of course, ketchup made everything better.  She is the least picky of the bunch.

Emily's plate before

Emily's plate after.  Yep- it looks exactly the same because she didn't eat one single bite!  She is usually the last one to leave the table because she chats and plays - anything to keep from eating - until everyone is finished and she is left with just her food to keep her company.  Most nights, she can muster up the nerve to take a bite of something, but sometimes, like last night, she seems repulsed and would rather just be hungry.  The only nights she really eats well are when we have spaghetti, pizza, or tacos - you know, all those super healthy meals.

I'm thawing some chicken for supper tonight.  Think I'll have better luck??  I doubt it!!

What are you and your kids having for supper tonight?

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

I hope Victoria keeps her secret a little longer!

Yesterday evening, we went out for dinner and, since we were within a nice shopping center, we decided to explore a little.  I just happened to have in the car a coupon I had recently received for Victoria's Secret.  My hubby (who I'm sure had absolutely no ulterior motives whatsoever!) parked and planned to let me go in while he stayed in the car with the girls.  However, the girls had other ideas and were hopping out of the car before we could instruct them otherwise.  I'm sure we were quite a site - a family outing to the underwear store!

In the store, the girls attempted to help me shop, choosing for me a purple bra with rhinestone studs and a neon green & turquoise leopard print bra.  We had a brief discussion about different bra styles and what the sizes meant.  At that point, Megan took great pleasure in finding the size I needed and shouting out for all shoppers to hear.  They also found a display of bras that are supposed to add two cup sizes and got a real kick out of the "super squishy" undergarments.

I'm sure they would have loved this one, too!

The girls were quite fascinated by the bathing suits that "Look just like underwear."  At one point, Emily found a pair of thong panties and asked "What happened to these panties?"  Finally, on the way out, DW had to explain why some of the undies in a sale display by the door said "Let's Party" and "Call Me" spelled out in rhinestones.

With three daughters, I know there are "discussions" we will need to have and I know there will come a day when going to the underwear store is a necessity rather than a family excursion. (Did I really just types that??)  But, if last night was a glimpse into that future, Victoria can keep her secrets to herself for a little while longer!

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Our trip to the Mountains

 My mom and dad live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It is where I grew up and I love going back there.  It always feels peaceful and comforting.  It has become a tradition that the girls and I go to my folks' for about a week every summer.  Mostly because we want to spend time with my parents - aka Memaw and Pa - but, also because I enjoying revisiting the mountains and want my girls to experience that as well.  Here are some (long overdue) highlights from our trip earlier in July.

One place we always go is Moses Cone Lake.  It is a beautiful walking path surrounding the lake.  Sometimes we see people riding horses.  There are always lots of Candian geese, too.  We took some old bread to feed them and  animal-loving Rachel and Megan had a blast.

Emily, on the other hand, was scared of them.  She ran away and had to be rescued by my dad!

Here are a few nature snapshots I captured  - great reminders of why I love it so much up there in Blowing Rock!

Water Lillies - parts of the lake were just covered with these.

A mama duck and her babies!

A pretty little waterfall~

Mountain Laurel

A blue heron

The next day we headed out the Blue Ridge Parkway to Grandfather Mountain.  My brother's family joined us and the girls had a great time hanging out with their cousins.

 I LOVE this picture of my mom and dad with their 6 grandkids!!!
They are standing in front of the "swinging bridge".  It crosses a ravine in the mountain and is an entire mile above sea level.  After this picture, we all crossed the bridge - some of us a little more cautiously than others!!
These super strong cousins were able to hold up this gigantic rock with very little effort! ;-)

Rachel had so much fun she actually let me take her picture and even smiled for it!!

Emily loved her stuffed bear from the souvenir shop!  (Thanks, Memaw!)

On our way back down the mountain, we stopped by some property that has been in my dad's family for many years.  The scenery is great and the kids really got a kick out of wading in the creek!
Please ignore my backside that looks incredibly ginormous in this shot!!  (At least I hope it's only in this photo!)

The next day, we headed over to my brother's house.  Despite lots of clouds, the cousins had tons of fun splashing around with each other.

Then all the little went back to Memaw and Pa's house and had some dress up fun!

It was a great week.  We enjoyed spending time with family so much.  Being able to do that in the setting of the Blue Ridge mountains is just icing on the cake!  

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Emily's new friend

Emily has a new friend.
This is Samantha.  Emily MADE her!!  She spent over an hour in the playroom one day last week tracing, cutting, and decorating with absolutely no help from anyone else.  Emily named her after a very good family friend of ours (their 7 year old daughter is named Samantha.)
Emily even made some accessories for her including a plate of food, a spoon, a bottle, and a diaper (which Samantha wears under her dress).
Emily sleeps with Samantha, carefully placing her to the side of the pillow so as not to roll over and "crunch' her.
Emily plays with Samantha and takes her with us when we go places.
Emily loves Samantha and I love seeing her creativity come out like this.  Samantha has been around for about a week now.  I wonder how much longer she will be with us???

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Conversations from the Minivan: Christmas in July

Rachel had gymnastics class this evening.  Megan and Emily were forced to tag along a wait around for the hour that Rachel spent flipping, climbing, and twirling.  Megan, in particular, was not happy about this situation.  She spent the entire hour complaining, whining, and being told to get off the table, etc.  When class was finally over, I took them to a little diner nearby for supper.  Megan's mood finally lightened, but then, of course, Rachel became a pitiful young lady with a new orthodontic spacer (put in yesterday) that was making her mouth so sore she could barely eat or drink anything.  (Ironically, it hadn't bothered her all day up until that point.)  Needless to say, by the time dinner was over and we headed home I was completely out of patience.  Then, as kids often do, my girls unintentionally brought me back to the lighter side of life as we drove home.  I have absolutely no idea what sparked this conversation, but what better way to re-insert a little joy into the day than having a discussion about Santa???  In July.  It went pretty much like this. . . .

Emily: Mommy, does Santa really watch us all the time?

Me:  Yes he does!  All the time!!

Megan:  You know what I think?  I think Santa sends his elves out and they disguise themselves so they can watch you and you don't even know they are watching.  Like that bush over there - maybe that's an elf.

Me:  That's an interesting idea.

Megan:  Yeah, they can be anything!  That car might be an elf.  That tree might be an elf.  That sign might be an elf.

Rachel (valiantly trying to play along):  No.  I think that they have hidden cameras all over the world and they are all sitting in the North Pole watching all the children all the time on giant TV screens.

Megan:  Seriously, Rachel?!  That's just crazy!

Me: (NOT out loud) and thinking that every bush, tree, or other object you see might be an elf isn't crazy?!?!?

They talked about something else for a few minutes and them came back around to the Christmas/Santa topic as we passed a man who was mowing his grass rather close to the road.  Megan called out "Watch out, old man!"

Me:  Megan, that is not very polite.  You shouldn't call people old.

Megan:  Well, he was old.

Me:  Well, maybe he was really an elf and you just offended him!

Hysterical laughing . . . . 

Rachel:  Why is the tradition that we always give Santa cookies and milk?

Me:  I don't know where that started.  One year, when you were about 3, you decided to leave him a banana instead of cookies!

They laughed bunches at that  - which is absolutely true.

Megan: Did he eat the banana Rachel left him?

Me:  Yep - he sure did!

Emily:  You know what I want Santa to bring me when it's Christmas?  A violin.  I want to play a violin.

Megan:  Yeah!  That's a great idea.  I can get one, too, and we can play together.

Me: (again, NOT out loud) two violins???  You have got to be kidding!!!

Like I said, there's nothing quite like a little jovial Christmas in July discussion to brighten the evening!!  Sometimes, these girls drive me crazy, but they also make me smile and I sure do love them!!!

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Remember me??

Hey there readers!  It has been over a week since I penned a new blog entry.  Did you miss me??? ;-)

There are two main reasons for my brief hiatus from the blogosphere:

1) Last week was crazy busy!!  We had Vacation Bible School AND swim lessons AND riding lessons AND an orthodontist appointment AND a visit from the fence repairmen AND . . .  well, you get the idea.

2) Since it is summer, my kids are with me ALL THE TIME!!!  As soon as I sit down to think about a blog post, someone needs something or someone starts crying/screaming/fighting or someone asks me a question.  My kids have also managed to completely fry the three - yes, three - older computers they had been given.  Since DW's work computer is strictly off limits, that means mine is the only working computer in the house now.  When they see me sitting in the glow of the screen, they get a twinkle in their eyes and hover with baited breath, just waiting for my fingers to stop clicking so they can have a turn.  This, I assure you, is NOT conducive to writing, my friends.

In fact, I have come to the conclusion that summer, in general, is not conducive to writing.  If we aren't traveling, we are ALL at home together.  With all of us being home, it seems there is more laundry, there are more dirty dishes, and there are more messes.  In short, there is very little quiet time for mom to think or type during summer vacation.  Anyway, just wanted to let all my wonderful readers know that I am still here!!  Over the next month - yes, happy or sad, the kids go back to school in one month - I will try my best to squeak out some new posts as often as possible.  In the meantime, know that I am still here, making a list of blog post ideas for when I do get time to write, and trying to survive  enjoy the remainder of our summer break!!

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Friday, July 13, 2012

When should kids. . . . .

Earlier today, I had a conversation/Facebook messaging session with one of my best friends.  We began discussing some of the differences between our two oldest daughters - both 9.  As with all parents, her daughter is allowed to do some things my daughter isn't and vice versa.  For example, her daughter talks on the phone with her friends frequently.  Mine doesn't yet.  However, mine is beginning to show interest in boys.  Hers isn't.

It got us both thinking about what is "normal" and what is too much, too soon.  We both commented that we didn't think we would be dealing with some of these issues until our kids were in high school.  So, I thought I would throw some questions out here on my blog to find out what other kids and parents are doing - what's normal and what's not.  Please leave a comment with your answers.  (You don't have to answer every single question if you don't want to and you can comment anonymously.)  Then, check back to read the comments others have left.  (My answers are in blue below.)

How old should kids be in order to. . .

1) Talk on the phone with friends? (just to chat for a while; no specific reason)
      - I wouldn't have a problem with my oldest doing this, but she has ever seemed interested.  My middle one maybe with some time constraints.
2) Have a cell phone? (Or have an iTouch type of device that allows them to Facetime, text, etc.)
     - None of mine have this yet.  At their age, I feel it is unnecessary and they are not responsible enough.
3) Have an email account or a Facebook page?
       - My two oldest have email accounts that they use occasionally.  We keep close tabs on what they are sending/receiving and it is mostly to family members.  Neither have or have asked for Facebook pages.  They won't get that until they are at least in middle school and then, they will be required to add both parents as "friends" so we can keep tabs.
4) Have a boyfriend/girlfriend?  (Not necessarily going out on dates, just referring to another as their boyfriend/girlfriend.)
      - This is harder to control than I would like since they develop relationships within school and I don't control who is in their class, etc.  However, I will say that my oldest (entering 5th grade this fall) is just beginning to experience this type of relationship.  She has not yet had someone she referred to as her "boyfriend," but others her age have.  If it was up to me, they wouldn't have this until at least middle school and they won't go out on a date until 15 or 16 (at least!)
5) Stay home alone for an hour or less?  (Only because my oldest has asked to do this a couple times)
      - She has asked, but I have said no.  My oldest is very mature, so I might be comfortable with this when she is around 12 (also helps that my in-laws live right behind us).  My middle one might have to be 30 and don't even want to think about the little one being old enough for this!!! :)
6) Have their own computer?  (Both of my oldest have asked.)
     - I really wouldn't mind this, but I don't think their use justifies the cost at this point.  They only use it to play games and send emails "for fun."  The oldest might use is occasionally for school.  I am not sure the youngest two are responsible enough, either.
7) Develop close friendships??
      - This is what started the conversation with my friend.  My oldest has not had what I would consider a close friendship that lasted longer than a few months.  (She did seem to develop a close relationship this Spring with another girl from church, but, due to travel, they have not seen each other over the summer.)  My middle one has 2 BFF's that have been in her class for the past two years.  It will be interesting to see what happens this coming year - one is moving away, and the other may or may not be in her class.  My youngest did develop a close friendship with another girl at preschool this past year, but they will no longer be in school together :(, so it will also be interesting to see what friendships she develops.

Can't wait to hear your answers!!!!

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Here we go again

Megan is 7 and just finished 1st grade.  She has been having "tummy troubles" since she was 4 - complaining of a tummy ache; sometimes nauseous and sometimes not.  When it first started, I talked to our pediatrician and he said he was only concerned when they acted like they weren't feeling well.  At the time, she would say it hurt, but act normal.  Then, it started getting worse, reaching a peak during her kindergarten year.  I actually had to go get her from school three times that year due to complaints of her stomach hurting.  In March 2011, she had just gotten over what appeared to be a stomach bug (except that nobody else in the house or her class got it - something that has happened a little too frequently to be coincidence in my opinion.)  That evening, she was complaining of her stomach hurting even though it had been 48 hours+ since she had vomited.  I sent her back to bed and she passed out.  I found her lying in the floor of her room semi-responsive.  After that, I determined to get some answers.  We visited her pediatrician again, but I wasn't satisfied.  After another bought of belly pain and an early pick up from school, I requested a referral to a GI doc.  We got the referral, waited 6 weeks for an appointment, and last summer, she had blood work, an abdominal ultrasound, and an upper GI x-ray.  Know what they found???  NOTHING!  They said everything looked normal and suggested that, perhaps, she was just constipated.

In the year since then, things have been much better.  Although she still seems rather susceptible to the stomach bug - she was the first to get it this winter and, after it went through the rest of us, she got it again - she has had very few episodes of tummy troubles.  Until this week.  She has had an "episode" three times in the past four days.  On Tuesday morning, she laid on our bed for an hour watching T.V. and complaining that she felt like she was about to throw up.  Again Thursday night, she said her tummy was hurting and she felt like she might throw up.  It lasted for about an hour, until I put all the kids to bed.  Today, she finished her horseback riding lesson complaining that she was "so hot her tummy hurt again." (It was 9:15 in the morning.)

Is she faking it??  Is she really just constipated??  Is it an allergy??  (Although after keeping several food diaries, I cannot find any sort of pattern to indicate a possible allergy.)  Do we go back for further testing??  (Only other option is endoscopy under anesthesia.)  These are all questions I ask myself every time she complains.  As the mommy, I am supposed to have all the answers.  In this case, I don't and, even though I have tried to get answers elsewhere, I have come up short.  I thought we were moving past it - that maybe she was outgrowing whatever it was.  This week, however, it feels like here we go again.  I don't know the answer and I don't know what else to do.  I do know that I get more frustrated every time and that this pitiful face is NOT my crazy, silly, energetic Megan. :-(

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Summer is supposed to be relaxing. . . .

Isn't it????

Ours was pretty relaxing until July came around.  Then this happened, so we are now dealing with getting estimates, workmen coming to the house, insurance claims, and (hopefully) the actual clean up will soon commence.  Also this week, we had friends visit from out of town over the weekend and our niece has been visiting all week.  We had some family over for, what turned out to be a small Fourth of July pool party.  But it still required some preparations.  I had a meeting on Monday and have since been emailing and planning in an effort to finalize some Vacation Bible School plans.  After a year on the market and one year in a lease-purchase agreement, we thought we would finally be closing on our former house at the end of the month.  It looks like that may very well fall through, so we are also dealing with our realtor and possible contract re-negotiaions.  Finally, in the midst of all that, I made one step toward new flooring in our dining room - a home improvement I had hoped to have done by the end of summer.  Two weeks after receiving the initial estimate, I finally made it back to the flooring store this evening to look at some other samples.  With the upcoming craziness, I have little hope that it will be complete before September.  (Maybe I'll shoot for Thanksgiving!)

Next week, the girls and I will be spending some time with my parents.  We are very much looking forward to that time.  I, for one, will thoroughly enjoy having some extra hands to help me keep the girls entertained and I always love going home for a few days.  Our next few weeks are super busy, so I intend to take full advantage of the opportunity for some relaxation!

When we get back, the whirlwind will resume.  I signed the girls up for three camps this summer - a lot for us - and it just so happens that the three camps occur back-to-back.  The first week will be Vacation Bible school which is always fun yet exhausting.  (See this post from last summer.)  After that, the big girls will have horseback riding camp for three days.  That will end with a pool party at our house.  Yep - about 12 squealing girls in our pool!  Finally, all the girls are doing music camp at our church.  Through all that, DW's travel schedule is absolutely insane.  After that, it will already be August and we will be into some full on birthday madness (DW is Aug. 6, Rachel is Aug. 9, and Emily is Aug. 11).  Then, onto school preparations and summer will be over!!!!!

So, as you can tell, I'm a little stressed at the moment.  It is only July 5th and my mind is already spinning toward the end of summer.  It is not that I want summer to end.  On the contrary, I know I really need to slow down, enjoy the time off, and RELAX!!  I'm trying, but anyone who knows me knows that I, in general, do not relax.  Fortunately, the weekend is just around the corner.  Hopefully, we can find something fun to do.  Perhaps DW and I can even squeeze in a date night.  And maybe, just maybe, I will chuck my to-do list out the window and enjoy the rest of this summer!!!  

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Monday, July 2, 2012

What a Weekend!

There has been some wild weather around the country over the past week.  Here in NC, we had a few really hot days - especially last Thursday & Friday.  Then, Friday night, we didn't actually have thunderstorms, but we had some crazy wind.  That wind did this:

That's an 80 foot tall oak tree that bit the dust in the wind.  It took out a portion of the fence, obviously.  Our pool is on the other side of that fence, and, though the tree did not damage the pool, it did deposit a lot of leaves and debris.  DW and I spent about three long, hot hours cleaning all that up Saturday morning.  Fortunately, the house was out of the tree's reach and was untouched.

  Of course, Saturday morning the girls had to go check it out . . .

That's Rachel and Megan walking around amidst the tree.  Rachel, in true Rachel fashion, was excessively concerned about the birds, squirrels, and other animals that may have been rendered homeless by the fallen tree.  She and Megan went on a brief search and rescue mission hoping to provide care to any injured creatures.  I scoffed at their overdramatic worrying.  Therefore, Rachel was very quick to find me a little later and point out something she found.

Although, this little bird was actually in the front yard (on the opposite side of the house from the tree), Rachel was certain the wind was the cause of its death.  For the record, I do not care for the taste of crow chickadee.

After cleaning up most of the leaves and sticks in the yard, and removing the debris from the pool, we did some frantic house cleaning and managed to run several errands.  All of it was in preparation for visitors.  Mitch, one of my best friends from high school who has remained a great friend through the years, was passing through our city with his family on a trip to visit some of their relatives.  They stopped in for an overnight stay.  They have two boys, 8 & 6, who brought a whole new level of energy to our house!! :-)  We enjoyed some pool time, a yummy dinner, some adult conversation time.  It was a great visit that doesn't happen nearly often enough.

Overall, it was a wild weekend.  The fallen tree threw a major wrench into my plans.  I still feel like I am chasing my tail trying to catch up, but, it was great to enjoy catching up with friends.  I figure the laundry, the dishes, and the tree will still be there tomorrow (and possibly the next day) anyway, won't they?!?

Hope you had a great weekend!

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