Sunday, June 19, 2011

Diving Boards & Delayed Reactions

So... hello! I'm so glad I aspire to the guilt-free blogging mentality, or else I would be racked with guilt over how I haven't posted in eons. Let's get caught up shall we?

Bad news first.
On April 27 we huddled in our bathroom, as did countless other Alabamians, while the tornadoes raged outside. We were SO LUCKY that our home only had minor cosmetic damage and no one in our family was hurt. Other friends weren't so lucky. Our neighbors are still picking up the pieces of what the storm left, and it's almost two months later. My dear friend Sarah Lena wrote about it here, as did Rocket City Mom.

The boys and Hotwheel Hubs were all home when one of the tornadoes circling overhead swirled past our house, never touching down but causing damage to our house and trees. The sound was pretty scary and this previously storm-fearless girl is a lot more wary when the weather alerts happen now. The laundry list of wind damage:
- snapped our basket ball goal clean in two
- zigzag-bent gutters
- tree fell on our fence & back deck
- tons of shingle & roof damage
- picked up our garbage can and bashed it against the garage door
- 8 out 16 shutters MIA
- cracks in brick mortar
- damage to Hubs' car from loose roof shingles

Some of our neighbors on our street were hit even harder, and this was just a tornado that never touched down! Others mere miles down the road weren't as lucky.

We were at home without power for seven days. Despite the fear and the sadness and the worry, the technology break was nice. We played with our neighbors, visited friends, cooked food on the grill, helped with the recovery effort, and generally reconnected. I still hear people talk about how they were a bit disappointed when the power came back on, but oh-so-happy to take a hot shower.

The boys and I volunteered at the public library a few days after the storm. They were offering free wifi and their entire bank of computers for people to check on their families and make calls to FEMA and insurance companies. Most people just wanted a break, some air conditioning, some books to read. Everyone wanted to talk. It was library therapy. I was so proud of Finn - he reshelved two entire carts of children's picture books that the library had backlogged since the storms - all by himself.

finn volunteers

Now on to Happier News.

School Play!
Seussical the Musical!
Finn was a Who in his school's production of "Seussical the Musical". A star is born!

Team Sports!
Eli's first soccer trophy
Eli apparently has knack for all things running, kicking, and jumping. Who knew?

VBS and Lost Teeth!
Tooth total: Finn, 5 / Eli, 1

School's out and I'm home with the beastie boys 24/7. Summer has hit us with a vengeance (90+ degrees for over 20 days straight here!) and we're spending lots of time at the pool. Then this happened...
He didn't even TELL me he was going to do this. I looked up and THERE HE WAS, on the diving board!

I've decided this is the "summer of sampling" and we're trying bite-sized versions of swimming, soccer, basketball, Irish step dancing (Finn), martial arts, dance camp, and theater. Then the boys can pick what they like best and we'll do that after school starts. I want them good and exhausted at the end of the day.

I'm also doing some freelance PR & marketing and volunteering around town when I can. Idle hands are boring. And somehow satanic so I've heard. So there's that.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Run for the Hills, Dorothy!

It's Tornado Season in the South, and the usual springtime severe weather alerts are in full force. Today is no different, and it's spring break to boot, so I pulled out the big guns to entertain Eli and a playmate.

Homemade Play-dough.

rauny day fun

It's the easiest stuff in the world to make, and you probably have most of it in your pantry already. Plus it's pretty safe if you have a little one that likes to snack on play-dough.

2 cups flour, any kind will do
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
1 TBS cream of tartar (for elasticity)
2 TBS vegetable oil
food coloring - I used the liquid kind you use for Easter eggs
fragrant essential oils - totally optional

Mix all of the ingredients except for food coloring & oils o LOW in a pot on the stovetop. Stir gently. It will start to thicken up pretty quickly. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the pot and starts to clump up, you're on the right track. Stir until you reach the desired consistency and it isn't so sticky.

Turn out the hot dough onto a clean surface or mat and let it cool for about 2 minutes, or until it's cool enough to knead. Knead the dough a few minutes until smooth, then divide it up into balls. Make a hole or indentation in the dough ball and drop in a few drops of the food coloring. Fold the dough over and start working in the dye - be careful to not touch the actual liquid dye until it works in a bit or you'll have technicolor hands! Keep adding color until you get the color you want.

Store it in an airtight container. If it dries out a bit, just knead in a few drops of warm water to soften it up. If it gets soggy, just re-heat it a bit and it will firm up.

You can also bake it in the oven to make hardened ornaments and sculpture figures. You can paint them & decorate them too!

Or just use your new play-dough as a disguise to get into fool your friends, rob a bank, or get into the hottest night club.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

This LIttle Pig Had Roast Beef

Last Fall, we were headed home from vacation and had an hour layover at the airport. Finn and I were chatting about various and sundry topics, and we started discussing where food comes from. He knew milk came from cows and eggs came from chicken and bacon came from pigs - all the usual origins of some of his favorite foods. I pressed a little more, curious to see if he knew HOW milk came from cows, eggs from chicken, and bacon from (GULP) pigs.

He was doing fine until he got around to "pigs lay bacon".

Me: "What? No, pigs don't lay bacon..."

Finn: "Yes they do, Mom! Bacon and ham and sausage come from pigs."

Me: "Well... that's true Finn. But pigs don't lay those things. Those things are meat, and meat is made from animals."

Finn: (Pausing) "But how do they make bacon from pigs then?"

Me: (ohnohowdoIsaythiswithouttraumatizinghim?) "Well... the farmer has to kill the pigs and cut them up to get sausage, ham, and bacon."

I decided to take the 100% honesty approach.

Finn: "KILL them? Like with a gun? And they die?"

Me: "Yes."

Finn: blink blink "And they cut them up???"

Me: "Yes."

Finn: ".............. MOM."

He suddenly moves away from me and goes to sit at the very end of the row. I feel terrible. I decide to give him some space.

He didn't speak to me for 20 minutes - three hours in five year-old time.

Me: "So, you OK?"

Finn: "Yes. That's just sad. I don't want to eat pig bacon anymore. I'll just eat hamburgers."

Me: "OK."

I didn't have the heart to tell him. I have a feeling we'll be revisiting this topic when he gets older.

Things I've Learned From "Power Rangers: Samurai" and Other Recent Nuggets of Wisdom

Sensei: Push a door that was meant to be pulled and you will never get it open. (And by "door" I mean Eli. And by "open" I mean to take a nap.)

The Red Ranger will ALWAYS have the coolest sword.

If mismatched villains who hate each other suddenly start hanging out, something's up.

Sensei: A strong wind can kindle a fire - but it can also uproot a tree.
Interpretation application: I should probably stop cheering so loud on the soccer field. I'm trying to pump Finn up but I think I'm just distracting him. I'm too windy.

Don't have unresolved issues. They will always get used against you, usually by an alien mutant creature with the weather power to make it rain hopelessness.

When going to Disney World with a four and six year-old, don't worry about how bad it looks to push them in stroller at the parks. Just load them in, and GO. You can weave through crowds so much faster and easier. Plus if anyone gets in your way you can ram them.

According to Eli, all redheads at his school are named Ava and are his girlfriend. Note to self: steer clear of redheads in 10 years.

According to Finn, the principal's office isn't really that scary. Plus there's candy on his desk so it's OK if you have to go there. (HEADDESK.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eye of the Tiger

Today was Finn's last basketball game of the season and I'm a little sad. Lots of family came out to watch so there were eight of us cheering from the sidelines, and it was Finn's best game ever. He was hustling, he was guarding, he was going after the ball, and he was dribbling without fear. I think he thrived on having family there.

At the beginning of the season in November, the boy couldn't even dribble and now he has a favorite team (Vanderbilt), favorite player (Jeffery Taylor lives on a poster on his wall), and he watches basketball on television with his Dad willingly.

Jeffrey Taylor Scores for Vandy
"Jeffrey Taylor scoring a three pointer for Vandy." by Finn. See the #44?

It seems like the game is just now settling into his brain and then the season had to up and end.

Soccer starts up in a few weeks and Eli is finally old enough to have a go at team sports - they're both playing. This could get really interesting.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow Pig Lips

It's days like this I can't believe I live in the South. This is the THIRD snow with significant accumulation this winter, and school was closed yet again. (And do I spend that time being productive and ticking off things on my lengthy To-Do list? Of course not! I have Internet! And Uno! And Facebook! And video games! And movies! And Valentines!)

The first snow on Christmas Day was Snowmageddon. We got about 4-5 inches and the boys sledded for the first time in the park.

The second snow was Snowpacolypse. Or "Snow Pig Lips" according to the boys. We were out of school for ELEVEN DAYS. We had almost a foot of snow in some places.

This third snow was melted by noon so there's no cute nickname. Or pictures. Because we are all officially SICK of snow. The boys don't even get excited anymore when it starts up again and school closes, something unheard of this far south of the Mason Dixon line. They have no idea how rare this is.

I'm getting anxious for spring - and gardening, and farmer's markets, and tillers, and fresh cut grass. I heard a story on The Splendid Table about urban chicken coops and am contemplating having a few chickens in the yard so we can have some fresh eggs.

But I think that's just the snow talking.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Other Woman

We have a new babysitter, and she is beloved.

I don't know what she did to them, but I want some of that.
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