Thursday, August 23, 2012


I didn't really think it would come to this, but yesterday afternoon after about two weeks of sleepless nights and back-talk and power struggles I whipped out my sharpies, bought some stickers, and created a rewards chart for Anderson (who really seems to be getting a lot of attention these days, primarily because of his naughty behavior) in an effort to somehow take some control of the situation.

I tried to keep it simple, with only five categories, and I made the first reward totally attainable- 5 stickers and you get a Hot Wheel. And he LOVES it. Crossing fingers behind my back that it will last more than 2 days because anything that seems to work never seems to last more than 2 days!!! He could not wait to eat dinner and finish it all to get his first sticker and things have gone well ever since. I started with the eating dinner box because, well, he almost always eats his dinner and I wanted him to feel successful right away. Others are tougher- he has yet to earn a sticker for pooping on the potty or for sharing his toys all day long (though today he came close). The best part? He SLEPT ALL NIGHT last night. The first thing he said to me this morning was "Mommy, I get a sticker!).
As of tonight there were already 5 stickers up, but I told him the Hot Wheel depends on whether or not he makes it through the night without calling for me at 2 am. I have never been so excited for the possibility a trip to Target in all my life. Please, please let him sleep all night, Mommy is so very tired.

From one extreme to another

The weekend 2 weekends ago was perfection. Seriously, the best it could be. So much so that I am still thinking about it 2 weeks later. We did nothing out of the ordinary, nothing special, but for 2 days the boys were just amazing. Beck was happy, took super long naps, and let me move from room to room without so much as a whimper. Anderson was helpful, polite, funny, and just plain good. On Sunday evening when Gabe came home from work and after they were both asleep I made the mistake of letting him know just how good they had been once again (he was home with us all day on Saturday to bear witness). Because parenting rule number one is that you never, never speak out loud about the good things your kids do. You don't talk about how they all of a sudden start sleeping 12 hours straight or how they shy away from sweets and over indulge in veggies; for the very moment an utterance of some great breakthrough is made it is a well-known fact it will never occur again. Not only that, but the complete opposite will happen if for no other reason than to prove to you, mama, that you have absolutely no control and that you are simply an observer of this game known as toddler-hood.

And you know what? The next morning was misery. Complete misery. I'm not even sure what happened or where things began to fall apart Beck's non-existent morning nap? Anderson's 5 am wake-up call?, but they fell apart quickly. And of course we had plans. Of course. Because if rule number one is to never speak of anything good your child does, then rule number two is most definitely that you never make plans for tomorrow because your child is acting liking an angel today. Never. But I've been reading a book lately that mentioned something about how you shouldn't cancel your plans due to bad behavior (something about it then ruining everyone's day and maybe they would have been really good had you just followed through, blah, blah, blah) and so on we went. After multiple time-outs, screaming matches, arguments, and many, many tears from all parties involved (yes, many from me as well) we got in the car and headed to the beach for my first ever "take the kids to the beach all by myself" day. And it was a great day. Getting out of the house despite the screaming and kicking was the best thing we could have done.

Every day I see moms with kids the ages of my own that seem to have it all figured out. Their kids are well-mannered, the moms are put together and smiling, and life just seems like bliss. Is it possible? Does that even exist? Can you be a normal, well-adjusted child without going through these phases? I'm not so sure. My dad said to me just last night that anyone who hasn't gone through this with their kids is just lying and I am pretty sure he is right. Sure, different parents will handle things differently (I'm winning no award for patience these days), but kids are kids. They tantrum, they test boundaries, they try to make sense of a world where they are constantly being told what to do and how to do it. Little kids can and will just be downright naughty sometimes.

The next time I see Miss Trendy Mom with perfect hair and perfect clothes and perfect children I will remind myself that she, too, has bad days with her kids just like the rest of us. That they have rotten days and that she no doubt raises her voice. And maybe she sometimes even has to lock herself in the bathroom for a couple of minutes just to get away from the chaos. Because don't we all do that at some point?

Like father...

I first saw the Aquabats when I was about 18 years old. No doubt I was wearing Doc Martins, carrying a lunch pail purse and thinking I was coolest kid ever because while other kids were playing sports (and probably receiving a full-ride scholarships) I was hanging out at coffee shops and going to watch bands play. I don't remember much about that show, but I do remember they looked hot. Not hot as in David Beckham, but rather hot as in wearing tights and capes and hoods in 80+ degree weather hot. They were catchy and funny, but let's just say I didn't feel compelled to buy an album.

Fast-forward nearly twenty years yikes and I am now happily married to none other than Dr. Rock himself. Who would have thought? Though the doctor stopped practicing long ago, the memories and the costumes live on. Every once in a while the box comes out and sometimes pieces of the costumes are even tried on. Yesterday was Anderson's turn. It makes me giggle wondering if one day the boys will look back and think their dad was oh-so-cool or if they'll just be thankful that he was always wearing a mask in the band photos. I'm inclined to think maybe a little of both.

Quinoa, ice cream, and a couple of cows

It has been so hot and the thought of doing any real cooking is just unbearable. Dinners have consisted of sandwiches, things that can be thrown together quickly in one pot, and take out. And the tomatoes! Well the over-abundance of tomatoes has also factored heavily into any and all dinner making decisions around here. Enter this totally made up, absolutely simplistic salad I made the other night which was not only fast and only dirtied one pot, but it also used up tomatoes!
Basically I threw together cooked quinoa, fresh spinach and broccoli and tomatoes and tossed them with balsamic vinegar, some parmesan ranch dressing, mozzarella cheese (I just cut up string cheese, ha!) and some grated parmesan and called it dinner. And, because it would not be a normal day if I didn't make two versions of any one dinner, I added some grilled chicken to half of it and served the other half with some fake chicken substance just to make Gabe happy. And full. Though none of us got very full because Daddy promised we could go to Thrifty's after dinner. And as everyone around here knows, the ice cream just tastes better when you eat it in the company of the cows in front of The Beef Palace.
Beck's not much for sitting still these days.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Back in April we planted sunflowers and spent the summer watching them grow. Nearly everyday Anderson went out there in his jammies and his boots to check on them and give them a sprinkle. Pulling them out recently was perplexing to him, but he enjoyed chopping them up to fit in the bin and learned a bit about the cycle of life nontheless.


I looked in my rearview mirror and realized Anderson had put on his bike helmet. Why? "In case I fall down, mommy." Obviously.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

9 More Days

That's it. Just nine more days before I report back to work. Nine more mornings to sleep past 5 am. Nine more days of staying in my pajamas until there is actually a reason to get out of them. Nine more days of rushing nowhere.
This summer began with a to-do list a mile long which involved painting various rooms, cleaning and organizing drawers, dressers, and closets, and more sewing projects than any sane person could tackle. As it comes to an end I look around at the still faux-antiqued painted walls in the master bedroom, the overflowing drawers (though there is that one bag I filled for Goodwill back in June that still sits in the corner of the bedroom) and the stacks and stacks of cut fabric and I just don't have it in me to care. Because what started out as the summer of "get it done" quickly turned into the summer of "enjoy these days because the boys are growing up way too fast and you're supposed to be making memories here!". And so we have. We have made the most of the beach, the library, the pool, and the parks and we have made memories all along the way. I have enjoyed making the kids breakfast and watching cartoons and planning adventures and it has been so nice to work on friendships that go all but neglected during the school year. The ugly walls will still be there over Thanksgiving break and the drawers, well, they can just be closed. And the sewing? It's coming along, but my inspiration seems to have melted with the heat.
I'm not sure how we will spend these last remaining days of summer, probably no differently than we have spent the last 8 weeks, but with each day I will take a few more pictures, I'll try to take a few more deep breaths and I will make every effort to enjoy these last few moments of freedom.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Somehow it's August and my plans to organize everything in sight have been waylaid by trips to the beach, outings to the park, and just plain laziness. I did finally get things together in the craft closet and I have the pictures to prove it. Because without the pictures I will never remember that it was once this fabulous with a designated space for everything. The thing about organization is that doing it is one thing (and I truly love doing the organizing) but living it it something totally different; as evidenced by my obsessively labeled bins and boxes that are hiding under the growing mound of crap important stuff on my desktop. At least the craft closet has doors.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lemon, lemon | Lemon-glazed shortbread cookies and fresh-squeezed lemonade

It's been hot here. Very hot. The kind of hot where all you can think about is jumping in the pool or getting in the car just so you can be in the air conditioning; the kind of hot where chocolate doesn't even sound appealing. Did I just say that? Fortunately there is a lemon tree over-loaded with fruit from which to pick as many lemons as I can fit in a grocery sack. And so afternoons are spent concocting nearly too tart treats in the hopes that they will take our mind off the heat and give just enough of a hint of sweet to get us through the rest of the day and the oh-so-warm nights. Recently it was lemon bars, but yesterday it was lemon shortbread cookies and, today, fresh-squeezed lemonade. Because Anderson declared that "yeah, mommy, we have to make lemonade with Grandma's lemons because it's summer. In the summer you drink lemonade". Yo Gabba Gabba has taught him well.

Lemon-glazed Shortbread Cookies
I am in love with the lemon cookies sold at Champagne Bakery. Much to my surprise I couldn't find a knock-off recipe so I decided to make my own. Unfortunately I chose to make them on a hot day and had a bit of a struggle with my dough sticking to the too warm counter. Fortunately Gabe and I aren't picky about the shape of our cookies and ate all of the reject rectangles and odd shapes first.

recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa whom I love almost as much as these cookies

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixer mix the butter and granulated sugar until just combined and add the vanilla and the lemon zest. Mix until just incorporated.

In a separate bowl sift together the flour and salt and add them to the butter mixture. Mix on low until the dough starts to come together. On a floured surface press the dough together to form a flat disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half an hour. Note: the hotter it is and the softer your butter is, the longer you will need to refrigerate. I put mine in the freezer for about ten minutes for it to firm up because the refrigerator just wasn't doing the trick.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out with a cookie cutter  and place on an ungreased cookie sheet or silpat mat. Bake about 20 minutes until edges begin to brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the glaze, whisk together the lemon juice and powdered sugar to desired consistency. The more powdered sugar you add, the thicker and firmer the glaze will be. You really have to eyeball this one and taste. I prefer a more tart glaze so I hold off a bit on the powdered sugar.

Fresh-squeezed lemonade
Surely nobody needs directions for this, but here goes. Seriously the easiest and most satisfying recipe. You can make a glass or a pitcher, it's all about proportions.

  • lemons (for a pitcher I used 9 super juicy lemons)
  • water
  • sugar
Squeeze the lemons and strain the juice to remove any pith or seeds. Add it to the pitcher and add water. My ratio is about 1 part lemon to 3 parts water. I always am careful with adding the water because it is much easier to add more water than it is to add more lemons once you've squeezed them all! Stir in enough sugar to make it as tart or as sweet as you like. Pour in a glass with ice and enjoy summer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Palm Springs 2012

It's funny how my family never really seems that large until I am making reservations for 19 people in 5 hotel rooms. Three years ago my parents decided we should all get away for a weekend and we have since made it a family tradition including all of the siblings, spouses, and cousins. Last year we even added in Natalie's family for good measure because, after all, if you've been crazy enough to hang out with this family since about the age of 12 you are, in fact, family.

This year was as all of them are: hot (110!), chaotic, frenzied, hot, loud, sleepless, a tad bit relaxing, and, oh, hot. We swam, we shopped, we stayed up late and, when not disciplining children, we relaxed. The first night was tough as the kids adjusted to hotel sleeping arrangements, but by the second night when we gave in and decided to let Anderson stay up as long as he wanted, hello midnight! we were all in a groove.
The long weekend passed far too quickly and I vow to make it 4 nights next year. I am fairly certain this year was and will be the hardest purely due to the ages of the kids. Being good for 4 straight days is tough to do when you're hot and excited and overwhelmed!

This annual trip has become something I look forward to all year. I am so incredibly blessed and fortunate to spend time with my family as much as I do but spending quality time away from home serves to strengthen our relationships and understanding of each other in a way quick weekly visits simply can't.
There were few pictures taken this year and even fewer completed conversations (as there seemed to always be some little boy in desperate need of attention/a nap/a diaper change/etc.) but I loved it for all that it represents- the incredible love of my family. How lucky my kids are to grow up in such a large, loving, and supportive family.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Adventure Playground

Because 3 year-olds should totally be given hammers and nails and access to a scrap wood pile; that's the reason we went to Adventure Playground last week. I'm not exactly sure that this is the safest place nor am I convinced that it entirely appropriate for a 3 year old and a 1 year old, but the rules say all ages welcome and, well, that's good enough for us.

I went into this whole thing with my expectations low, knowing full well that Anderson is a cautious little thing who is all too content to observe everyone else for a good long while before jumping into an adventure of his own. We started in the tree house where he had a pretty good time hammering nails, but he was tired. And it was hot. And his emotions began to take over. And I can't say that I blame him for getting pretty cranky. He did venture into the water and although I warned him he would have wet shoes (the rule is shoes at all times, even in the water), he then proceeded to have an absolute fit about having wet shoes. Of course. Because 3 year-olds don't always understand consequences and Anderson has a "thing" about wet or sandy shoes. Things eased up once all of his friends were there and though he still shied away from the mud slide and the rafts, he did have great time just running around, rolling tires and hammering a few more nails.

It is not often that we get to meet up with old friends and even rarer that all of the kids and the spouses are in attendance so it may just have been as much fun for the adults as the kids.