Between Girl Scout cookies, my birthday, Easter and a giant caramel apple, it felt like a sugar smorgasbord here, one that needed to end. I stopped eating sugar - primarily refined, but I tried to cut it all out, other than a modest amount of fruit. I limited fruit because on day one of sugar withdrawals, I ate enough fruit to stock an entire Farmer's Market. The run lasted two weeks when I remembered we'd been invited to a chocolate tasting party, and abstaining at a chocolate tasting party is about as much fun as being the sober driver at a high school kegger. (Not that that's not fun! It is! Tons of fun! Stay in school, kids! Just Say No! Etc.!)
I'd hoped that dropping sugar would make me less cranky and more energetic. It didn't. It turns out, I'm naturally irritable. A friend charitably said, "And then you remembered you have little kids." It turns out I can keep the sugar, it's the kids that are sucking the life out of me. And I found my sugar consumption and kids are linked. I didn't miss sugar at any time in the day other than at night, after the kids went to bed. I need to find an alternative nightcap because kiwi and strawberries can only do so much.
We saw How to Train Your Dragon over Spring Break, a movie the kids really wanted to see, but I didn't. I had nothing against the movie, it's most kid-movies in general that turn me off with their annoying voices and superficial stories. Still to the movies we went, bought the obligatory popcorn and really enjoyed it. I liked it, the kids liked it. It was good enough to keep a three year old glued to his seat with his 3D glasses in place. And he had put those glasses on the second after we sat down. They still talk about Hiccup and the different dragons.This does not mean I'm willing to take them to see any movies starring Chipmunks.
Last week he cut his own hair. This week Rocket cut his eyelashes. My baby put scissors up to his eye and trimmed the lashes on one eyelid while hiding under an ottoman. Who needs a mirror when you've got chutzpah?
I expected him to cry when I said, "I'm going to have to take the scissors away." But knowing himself well, he said, "Yeah, you better take all the scissors away from me."
His long lashes were his top selling point. Now he's got to get by on his single dimple.
When I told my friends that my kids would be away for nearly three days of Spring Break, they asked if my husband and I were going away, taking a spa day, or if I planned to loll around in the sun while reading. (The weather was fairly gloomy, so thankfully sunbathing was not in my plans or I would have been heartbroken.) Nope, I’d respond, I’m painting one of our bathrooms. Everyone looked at me like I was nuts, and I may be, but as much as I would love to put my feet up and watch Oprah in quiet house, I couldn’t pass up the free time to tackle a bigger project.
Maybe what I should have asked was how other parents get things done around the house with young kids underfoot, since that is what I struggle with. Laundry and other daily chores get done, but it’s the bigger project, like reorganizing a closet or painting a bathroom that would remain on my to-do list forever unless I do them while the kids are away at grandma’s house.
It's amazing what can be accomplished in a kid-free house. I painted, cleaned, sorted and removed old toys and clothes nearly nonstop the entire time my kids were gone. I filled five garbage bags of toys and clothes for charity and two and a half bags of garbage from my kids' rooms and our family room. That doesn't include the grotesque amounts of paper recycling. My kids consider themselves green, but it appears they're responsible for massacring an entire forest by the amount of paper products they burn through. I never could have done any bagging and removal with my kids at home because every unused toy is a prized possession that cannot be relinquished or no matter how dried up the pen, it is still capable of being used, according to my children.
This doesn't mean that it doesn't suck to work around the house during times of freedom. It does a little for me too, but I cannot totally relax without getting something done.
Working around the house is not first on my list of things I like to do, but I like the sense of accomplishment. As my kids grow older, I know it will be easier to get things done when they're around. Although it will probably still be a struggle to get them to clean up their rooms and give away old stuff, but at least I know they will be capable. Luckily the kids never bat an eye at the stuff that's missing when they return. They're usually happy that someone has cleaned their rooms for them and they're overjoyed with lost treasures uncovered during the cleaning. "Look what I found!" they always exclaim, while holding up a trinket I found lodged on the side of their beds, under dirty socks and an overdue library book. My response is always, "You found?"
If I don't capitalize on my time alone to get things done, they would never get done. The list of things to do to keep a family running is never ending. When the kids are around, I may find myself with a few minutes here or there, but I know I'll never have enough uninterrupted time to take on a big task, so the touch ups to my kitchen cabinets wait, as does the cord organization under my desk that I pledge to do each time I have to unplug something caught in the mangle of cords. I bought a cord organization kit from Ikea over a year ago, but it sits in a closet, undisturbed, as I wait for enough time to take on the project. When I painted the kids' bathroom recently, I used the paint I'd bought for the project in the Fall.
Even hard work without kids around is relaxing in its own way. It was quiet. No one hounded me every few minutes to fill their sippy cup. There were no fights to break up. I was happy, especially once I had a freshly painted Shades of Spring bathroom and another big project crossed off my list.
Reusable stuff is really, really easy and much of it is cute too. I know that getting started can be the hardest part, so I wanted to share what Rocket's lunch bag looks like:
A Star Wars napkin, made by me, that we've largely stopped using because Rocket's theory is why dirty a napkin when you can conveniently wipe your hands on your shirt? The shirt is right there, asking for it, after all.
I've acknowledged that I suffer from Catholic guilt, and each time I use a plastic baggie, like a Ziplock, I always feel bad, even though the use may be justified and I recycle the bags. But that's my own issue. I hope my kids are learning that while disposable is sometimes necessary, it's not always good.
Disclosure: While I paid for everything pictured, I am a Buzz Mama for Mabel's Labels because I love their product that much. We've used their labels for years and even our oldest ones are holding up beautifully despite daily (ab)use.
One of the life skills I want to impart on my kids is the stamina to be engaged for a 13 inning baseball game. Sure, it's not as useful as learning to properly make a bed or negotiate buying a car, but it's an important skill for any sports fan.
We headed to opening day via the train, which fills out the entire baseball experience, according to Clover. While I worked to create a baseball fan, baseball created a mass transit fan.
It's as if she knew the game would last four hours.
My favorite part of sporting events is the crazy fan. There is always one person whose had a few beers and is overly boisterous. The best cheers come from these people. From memory, those cheers include: "What's the smell? Jaaaay Bell!" "You're a professional!" (screamed at players throughout a losing 49er game) and "You're going to miss the comeback!" (yelled at people leaving a lopsided and losing Giants game early). I've adopted the last two for my own use.
Soon after sitting down, I spotted this guy, wearing a personalized Giants jersey with "Section" written instead of a last name and 128 for the number.
After watching for another few minutes, I thought maybe the jersey was to help to get him back safely to his seat if he wandered off. But before the first pitch, the jersey came off. I'd say his shoes came off too, but I never saw him wearing shoes.
Shirtless guy got up each inning as free entertainment. He played air guitar, he gave out shoulder massages, he waved to seemingly random people, he even stood up to reassure the crowd, "It's going to be okay," several times after it appeared the Giants had lost the game. Crazy, shirtless guy was right. The Giants won after 13 long innings, made shorter by the free entertainment.
Not only did Clover hang in for the whole game, she loved it.
One of my grad school roommates was from New Jersey and she embraced the stereotype, complete with a deep love for hair bands and hairspray. She also frequently insisted that chocolate covered pretzels were a delicacy in New Jersey. No surprise, this became a long standing joke with my other roommates.It's not clear how it began, but somehow caramel apples became a delicacy in our family and I don't care if it makes people laugh. We grew up with the discs of caramel that had to be peeled off waxed paper, then draped over the apple. We thought they were good until my sister discovered the holy grail of caramel apples at Marceline's Confectionery on Downtown Disney. It's not hard to imagine why they are good - they're absolutely fresh and loaded with yummy toppings. Rocky Mountain makes decent apples, but they don't complete with Marceline's. Recently I was at Costco when I spied these cute, petite, rounded cakes, but as I got closer, I saw they were caramel apples without the sticks. We bought a few and they were okay. The apple was painfully tart and the chocolate to caramel ratio was off, too heavy on the side of sub-par chocolate. Lesson learned, we won't buy them again.
Last week a package arrived from Mrs. Prindable's, delivered to the door, much like flowers. Inside the box was another box with a huge gold ribbon. Inside that box was a huge apple covered in caramel and three types of chocolate. And it was gooood.The kids were so excited, gobbling up their slices. Or so I thought until I looked over at Clover's plate, which held several perfect looking apple slices. She ate the chocolate and caramel off the apple slices, typewriter style, the same way she handles corn on the cob. She groaned when I told her to eat the apple too, but after a bite, she said, "These apples are good!" She was surprised, but the entire delicacy really delivered, including the healthy part of it.
Maybe he would have managed straight bangs if he wasn't using his kiddie scissors. His dull scissors can't cut anything thicker than a single sheet of paper, yet they cut through chunks of hair with ease. You work with what you've got, I guess.
Kevin suggested Rocket's motive was to distract from his swollen eye, the result of a run-in with a wall while at a friend's house, but maybe it was to accent his crazy eyebrow.
Prior to this season, Rocket had only been to one Giants game, and it was in the bleachers, to boot, because I was prepared to leave early. A year later, we took him to Coors Field to see the Rockies, so I could have played it off as if we were only taking him to one game at every stadium, but that didn't explain why Clover went to at least one Giants game every year.We're lucky that my cousin has really great season tickets and even luckier that he's generous about giving them away. His seats are row 14, near the ball dude on the third base line. The only problem is that he only has two seats, so we never go as a family. The Giants have gotten smarter about pricing their tickets based on demand, lowering the cost of tickets for less interesting games, which is great because they've been charging a small fortune for tickets and if you want to go as a family of four (or more), it's a lot of money. (The Rockies, on the other hand, we felt were incredibly family friendly.) Now if the Giants can start selling kid's meals at concession stands around the park and not only in one spot behind centerfield...
Back to my cousin...his tickets are great and had spoiled us until last week when we lucked into truly amazing (and free) tickets that made it possible for all four of us to go to the game. Even if it was only an exhibition game, short of the Giants winning the World Series, this will be the highlight of the season for us. We were in Row A, which is technically the fourth row, but we were still so close, sitting right next to the dugout in our own private row. The camera guy gave Clover bubble gum, Lou Seal hammed it up with Rocket, beer was brought to us at our seats, our seats had a private entrance into the stadium, and of course, the Giants won. Clover wore a Pablo Sandoval-inspired panda t-shirt and at one point, she turned to me, all giddy, and said, "The Panda looked at me!" He did. We were right there. On the way home, Clover said "I think the Panda is my second favorite baseball player, next to the tall, really good pitcher." At least she didn't say stoner. (I am not judging. Keep winning and you can smoke anything you want...so put that in your pipe and smoke it.)