Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Popcorn Wednesday!

Our quaint college town has an actual town square, with trees and flowers and a fountain, and also with an old-timey popcorn cart that sells skinny rectangle boxes of popcorn for a dollar. So the girls and I have decided that every Wednesday this summer is Popcorn Day. We go in the afternoon after nap, for snack, and sit in the sun on the square and eat popcorn.

Because if you were designing the perfect Summer of Fun, wouldn't weekly Popcorn Day be included? I thought so.

What-to-Do Wednesdays: Two Sisters' Bike and (Toy) Car Wash



Also servicing trikes, Big Wheels, toy dump trucks, and scooters. Open last Thursday from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Did you miss it? Do you have small children? Try one of your own.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer of Sweet and Savory

It's CSA time again, and that means my daughters and I are heading to the farm every two weeks to pick up our family's share of fresh local organic vegetables, and self-picking anything on the U-Pick list. (We split a farm-share with friends, and alternate pick-up weeks.)

And in between the kiddie soccer and the toddler swimming lessons and the park and the splash pool and the snacking on cool treats and--OK, yes--too much chocolate, I've been cooking. You know me and the CSA: set me up with a pile of zucchini and greens and fresh-picked strawberries, and I'll make your stomach happy. So here are two recently requested recipes, celebrating the crop of tall, fat scallions and glossy, ruby-red strawberries we're getting these days. (Because I am not a food blogger, I do not have photos of these dishes. I'm so sorry!)

So far the summer is sweet. It might be the pool and the friends and the playdates and the running, or it might be the cobbler.

Fresh Berry Cobbler
6 to 9 servings, depending on how large you want the pieces

4 T. butter
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. plus 2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk (skim, 1%, or 2%)
2 heaping cups fresh (or frozen) strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a combination

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a 8-inch square pan or a 9-inch pie plate, and place pan in the oven until butter has melted. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, 3/4 c. of the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the pan; do not stir and do not worry about how the melted butter moves around or bubbles up around the batter. Scatter the berries over the batter. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.

Bake until the batter is golden brown and the berries are bubbling, about 45 to 55 minutes (watch carefully at the end). Serve warm or at room temperature, topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Savory Scallion Muffins
12 muffins

1 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. yellow cornmeal
1 T. brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1/3 to 1/2 c. sliced scallions
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried or 1 T. fresh dill
1/2 tsp. dried or 1-1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2/3 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a standard muffin tin with cooking spray.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cornmeal and brown sugar and mix well. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add buttermilk, scallions, mustard, all herbs/spices, and cheese. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just enough to incorporate. (Do not overmix, or muffins will be tough.)

Spoon batter into muffin tin. Bake about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.Cool in tin for 5 minutes, then remove muffins to cool on a wire rack.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

Remember, it's the Summer of Fun, and besides a morning at the pool and strawberry-picking on a sunny afternoon, nothing says "Summer of Fun" to a young child quite like sitting outside with a Popsicle, letting it drizzle all over her chin and knees and wet swimsuit as she tries to eat it all before it melts. And while I've got nothing against the completely non-nutritious store-bought version as an occasional treat, I also like to make homemade versions using my mom's old Tupperware Popsicle set (which, now 30 or so years old, is missing one mold). Why let your kids go all whole-hog on the high-fructose corn syrup and artificial dye every time, when you can make something just as tasty, a whole lot prettier, and with some healthy ingredients included? And, as an added bonus, you can let our kids help make them, and then you've burned some summer daylight and spent some quality time with your babes to boot. All in the name of a better Popsicle. Enjoy.

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles
(makes 6 Tupperware-sized or Dixie-cup Popsicles)

Mix about 1-1/2 to 2 cups nonfat vanilla yogurt (Dannon makes a good one, in a quart container) with 1 cup chopped strawberries. (If you have tiny ones from your backyard berry patch, feel free to leave them whole). Spoon into Popsicle molds or small Dixie cups. Cover each mold with a small piece of aluminum foil.

Take a small, sharp paring knife and carefully make a small slit into each mold's foil "lid." Poke a small pretzel rod into each hole for a stick, making sure the rod is inserted deep enough to hold up the Popsicle later (about halfway).


Freeze until firm, about four hours. Remove foil and carefully unmold each Popsicle.

Eat on the patio, after running through the sprinkler.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Yesterday

All morning at the pool. Long naps. Late afternoon at our CSA farm, collecting our farm-share of vegetables and picking a gallon of strawberries from the fields' last gleaning.

Best summer day ever.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Parenting Guarantee

While cleaning up the playroom one day, if you spy a cheap wooden color-it-yourself cut-out of a princess, which your toddler scribbled with marker and promptly forgot about, and which has been sitting unnoticed on the windowsill for six months or more, and then you throw it in the garbage because--well, really? isn't that obvious?--, then several weeks later your three-year-old will stumble tearfully downstairs DURING BEDTIME to find you, and ask in a quivering voice while holding her sister's identical princess cut-out (which, while colored nicely, has also been ignored for many months), "Do I still have this?" And then you will be forced to tell her no, and she will sob as if her heart is broken forever, and wail, "But I wanted to keep it!" repeatedly, her little shoulders heaving, her forehead damp with sweat, inconsolable and immune to your helpless explanation of, "But you never looked at it! I didn't know you wanted it, honey! I didn't think you liked it! You scribbled on it!", until you feel like the worst mother ever.

And then you will find yourself on Amazon searching under "wooden coloring princess kit" at 9 p.m. as you mentally smack your own forehead with your palm.

The end.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This is When All-Day Camp Sounds Appealing.

I am currently practicing deep breathing in a weak attempt to lower my blood pressure after screaming my head off at my daughters who both got out of bed this morning and immediately began throwing the most gigantic, long-winded tantrums in the history of mornings. For no reason. Other than getting out of bed on a lovely June morning, apparently.

Ah, summer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

If I'm Not Personally Obese, is it Wrong to Eat Too Many Hershey's Nuggets While Watching a Documentary About the U.S.'s Obesity Crisis?

It seems like all the cool people are neglecting their blogs because they're (presumably) having too much summer fun to write. Living at the pool, roasting marshmallows over a fire, going to the beach. Etc. etc. etc. I'm not doing any of those things, and I am having (mostly) fun, even if I am writing.

However, I'm not writing anywhere else but here. Meaning, ever since my kids got out of school and I lost my 90 minutes of free time per week, I have not TOUCHED the book I am writing. I wrote a chapter a month from January through May, as planned, and now here it is late June, and nothing. See, people? You can't get anything done when you're taking care of kids full-time. Even though Julia and Genevieve have some scheduled, structured activities this summer, there is never a time when I'm not with at least one of them. I know that will happen in time (meaning, in future years), but in the meantime, my book is time-sensitive (to me, anyway)! I need to work on it! And still: nothing! Argh.

Summer is going way too fast. Is it too early in the summer for me to say that? I mean, this is only Julia's second week of vacation. But people, it's late June! School went WAY TOO LATE. It's almost July! And July is the month before August, which is the month before I SEND MY BABY TO FIRST GRADE WHICH REQUIRES HER TO BE AWAY FROM ME FOR 7-1/2 HOURS PER DAY INCLUDING BUS TIME. Gah! I can't stand it. Someone distract me. Quick.

Oh, hey! The sun is out! That's distracting. It's also a miracle, because so far not only has this summer been deemed the Summer of Fun and the Summer of Running, it's also been the Summer of Rain.

Off to soccer and preschool! And no, I can't write during soccer. It's 45 minutes long people, outdoors, with much noise and conversation and many people wandering this way and that and balls flying through the air.

More on summer musings later this week, when I discuss stress snacking in front of a documentary about America's obesity problem. Ahem.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where Are We on the Fun-O-Meter?

Quiet Time, blah blah blah. My daughters are napping again.

Why in God's name, you ask? Well, let me tell you how it went down. On Friday, after baby soccer and a run to the library and major grocery shopping for imminent mother-in-law visit and a picnic lunch, my daughters ASKED TO NAP. At 12:30 p.m. (a half hour earlier than usual). Then Julia asked to SKIP HER NAPTIME STORY in order to get to bed sooner.

No, they hadn't been awake till 10 p.m. the night before. No, I had not dosed them with children's Benadryl. They were TIRED, PEOPLE. And when you are tired and you are little, you take a nap.

And so it goes.

In other news, the Summer of Fun continues in its wobbly vein. Recently: strawberry picking (Fun); soccer (Sometimes Fun); playdate with kindergarten friend (Fun); crazy storm complete with tornado siren (Not Fun); splash pool and running through new, wacky sprinkler (Fun); babysitter (Fun But Worrisome to Toddler); fussiness and crying (Not Fun but Normal); baking Reese's Piece's Brownie Cupcakes, homemade pizza dough, and buttermilk strawberry muffins (Fun); timer on dryer breaking (Not Fun).

Not too bad on balance, right? The Summer of Fun is a work in progress, people. Believe me, it's only going to get better.

Oh, and the Summer of Running? Well, on Friday I ran in blazing sun and high humidity and crazy wind and got a pain in my torso so severe I had to walk the last half mile home while I wondered if a person can crack a rib from running hills. (I did not have a cracked rib.) But then Saturday evening I ran at 8 p.m. in clear, dry air and fading sun and no wind at all, and I powered up and down all my usual hills like a mama on a mission, and it was awesome. Go figure.

This week the babes are in morning preschool summer school (Genevieve) and soccer (Julia), so maybe that will be enough fun for everyone. Oh, and after all that, I'm sure we'll be napping.

Blah, blah, Quiet Time, blah, blah, blah.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Thought It Was Going To Be a Lot More Fun.

This week I changed my daughters' naps into Quiet Time. This involves sequestering them in separate rooms, with the doors closed, and telling them to read, do puzzles, or draw quietly for one hour until I tell them they may come out. They are only allowed to come out of their rooms if they need to use the bathroom. They do fine with these parameters, even though if I put them in their beds they would definitely still nap. I decided to drop their naps for two reasons: one, so they'll fall asleep more easily and earlier at night (mainly Genevieve), and two, so Julia can gradually get used to being up all day before first grade starts in the fall.

Of course making this switch resulted in an immediate early, fast bedtime at night. We're talking total silence by 7:30 at the latest. But what you have to understand is how beastly they are from about 2:30 or 3 p.m. on. And sometimes, like today, in the mornings when they get up, too. BECAUSE THEY ARE TIRED, PEOPLE. Sure, a 7:15 bedtime is awesome, but let's face it: that is the ONLY awesome thing about dropping the nap. And guess who benefits the most from a 7:15 bedtime, and guess who suffers the most from everything else? You might think that a couple of crabby girls doesn't sound all that bad, but if you are the parent dealing with the nonstop crying, tantrums, screaming, and fussing, it does not take long for you to feel like you'll never survive, and that your best short-term solution is to lock yourself in the master bedroom and turn on the TV, the bathroom fan, and the white-noise machine to "high" for twenty minutes while you daydream about a solo playdate between you and a bottle of wine. As an example.

As my friend Connie said in empathy, "The only person who benefits from dropping the nap is the non-stay-at-home parent, because their day is still completely the same but their evenings are super smooth."

And that's how the Summer of Fun is going so far.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer of Fun

So if summer 2007 was Retro Mom Summer, and summer 2008 was The Summer of Extreme Stress, and summer 2009 was The Summer of My Discontent (a.k.a. The Summer of Sitting in the Hallway), then I am bound and determined to make summer 2010 The Summer of Fun (also the Summer of Running). Susan Wagner had The Best Summer Ever last year, after all--why can't I have The Summer of Fun?

My girls are a little older now, and since I'm flirting with the idea of dropping naps in favor of Quiet Time (you'll recall I did this last autumn for three full months, but it didn't take)--in order to ease bedtime drama and gradually acclimate Julia to nap-free days in anticipation of first grade--well, it makes me think about more day trips and out-of-the-ordinary adventures. After all, when your babes aren't napping, you've got a whole lot of daylight to burn, you've also got the freedom to throw the kids in the car at 1 p.m. and head to the next town over for ice cream or a children's concert. And, if you're not going to get your parenting break while the kiddos nap, then why wouldn't you get out of the house and do something fun?

To kick things off right, later this morning after Julia's first "baby soccer" (as I like to call it) class, I'm taking the girls to a special toddler storytime at a big Barnes and Noble in a nearby Minneapolis suburb. On Wednesday, when the sun is forecast to finally make a reappearance, I'm toying with the idea of taking them to a free hidden gem of a tiny zoo in the countryside 30 miles away. Summer of Fun, I tell you. FUN!

Oh, the Running part? Well, the way I figure it, you've got to balance out all that fun (and ice cream) with a little discipline and rigor. After a Spring of Arthritis and Minimal Exercise, I'm excited to pound out the miles this summer. My goal is to never skip a run--unless it's over 90 degrees or raining hard--from now until Labor Day weekend. Pray for healthy joints.

See? Summer of Fun, Summer of Running. It'll be good.

What do you have on tap for summer?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer!

Today is the last day of school in our public school district. (Genevieve's been out of preschool for 3+ weeks.) At 11 a.m. today, Julia will officially no longer be a kindergartner. There's not much to say other than what I already said in the post below, really.

The girls and I are off to embark on a summer of preschool day camp (4 days only), swimming lessons, and a tentative foray into six-year-old soccer (through the laid-back, non-competitive park district, not the town's soccer association). It sounds like a lot, but each activity meets for an hour or so at a time (or less), either daily for a couple of weeks or once a week for a month. I try not to schedule my daughters for a lot of structured activities, because it's expensive and also because I sincerely want them to have old-fashioned, innocent summers of expansive free time, but let's face it: there are A LOT of daylight hours to burn when you're a full-time stay-at-home mom to two children this young in the summertime. We need some scheduled things to do.

Aside from those more formal lessons, the girls and I will be meeting with our old playgroup once a week at a local park, and every other Friday we'll be making our joyful visits out to our CSA farm for our share of local organic produce.

It's tough--balancing the nostalgic wish for a long summer with nothing on the agenda, with the pragmatic need to fill some time and expose our young children to new sports, other children, and healthy socialization. I really struggle. Every summer I say, "We're only doing swimming," because I think swimming is non-negotiable, and then every summer I decide I really owe them a little more than that: preschool summer school to keep Genevieve familiar with and happy about her nursery school, to which she'll return in the fall; baby gymnastics or soccer to incorporate some exercise into the long hot days; playgroups because they need to see friends over the summer too, not just hang out with me. I'm sure this will be a continual dilemma over the years.

But all in all, I have to say, I truly cherish my summers at home with my girls, and I can't wait to get started. There's something magical about lazing around in the mornings, drinking coffee on the patio while they play in the sand table, running through the sprinkler in the afternoons, going on picnics.

And it's over all too soon. All moms know that.



Some photos from summers past

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Graduate

I DID NOT cry at kindergarten graduation this morning, you all! Are you proud of me? For some reason the "ceremony" didn't feel very emotional--just adorable and very entertaining. I have a feeling I'll be sadder when Julia climbs off the school bus on Friday than I was today. Then it will really hit home that kindergarten is over.

Here's Julia getting the first of, most likely, many diplomas to come. Although if I have my way, I will successfully talk her out of pursuing any kind of degree beyond her B.A. Unless it's some kind of degree that will actually result in more income than her student debt load. What? I'm just being practical.

Do you like her handmade cap made from a paper
bowl attached to a piece of decorated paper?



Below are photos of Julia on her first day of kindergarten last September, and this morning, the day of her kindergarten graduation.

First day of kindergarten, September 2009


The day of kindergarten graduation, June 2010


She hasn't changed very much physically since last September, but the other sorts of growth, of course, have been enormous. It's incredible, really, to think about starting off as a preschooler working on letters and numbers, and ending the year reading chapter books and doing math. Talk about a whole new world! It's amazing. Not to mention all the other things you learn in kindergarten, like how to ride a school bus and when you have to focus and hustle instead of gazing distractedly around the room and how to avoid discussing your birthday party at school because you had to pick only three girls from your class and the other girls might feel hurt.

It's a journey, people. We don't remember it anymore, but it's a monumental journey, starting school at age five and coming out nine months later at six, familiar now with the new world of elementary school. There are a million little moments of learning and experience that make up that journey; we could never count them all.

And, come to think of it, that description is just as applicable to the journeys of us new school-ager moms. We started off the year--well, I did anyway--thinking the bus seemed huge and the room wasn't childlike enough and the rules seemed harsh and the teacher seemed too no-nonsense. Then, via a million tiny moments of learning and experience from September to June, we learned how to be moms of elementary schoolers: that the bus driver is sweet and knows them all by name; that the room is just fine--different from how we remember kindergarten, maybe, but really, just fine; that the rules work in our favor as parents; that the teacher holds a perfect balance between loving and strict and can keep 23 five-year-olds in line without losing her temper, which, as parents, we know is an amazing skill.

Come to think of it, I learned an awful lot in kindergarten this year.

Remember this sign, on the wall of "Advice from last year's kindergartners" at the school Open House last fall?

"Don't be scared."


It was good advice. For moms and kids alike. It was a good year.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Whatever Happened to, Like, a Visit to the Local Fire Station?

Today is Julia's end-of-year kindergarten field trip. They go for the entire day, on a bus, to a city an hour away, to go to the zoo. (Note: there is another, larger zoo about a half hour away, which the first graders go to for their field trip. I have no idea why the kindergartners go to the farther zoo.)

Let's pause here for a moment to consider the idea of a bunch of five- (OK, six-) year-olds going on a bus for an entire day to a DIFFERENT CITY AN HOUR AWAY for a field trip.

Are you done considering?

Let me just point out that, when I was a kindergartner almost 35 years ago (gulp), there were no kindergarten field trips, let alone all-day field trips to another city. Also? I didn't go on a field trip to another city until the one-day ski trip in the sixth grade. (Totally traumatic, by the way. I am not the downhill-skiing type.)

My husband is going along on the bus to the field trip as a chaperone. He wanted to, but even if he hadn't, I was planning to go (and have him take the day off to stay home with Genevieve). Because no way was I sending my tiny, barely-six-year-old on a bus to a zoo an hour away, for the entire day, without her own parent along. No. Sorry, no. Am I the only parent to think kindergartners are too little to go on an all-day, traveling field trip? Am I the only one to think school and society has sped up to a ridiculous degree in the past 30 years, and that our tiny children are exposed to things at a far younger age than we were when we were kids, and that this is not a good thing? Have you noticed that kindergarten is the new first grade, and that what we used to do in kindergarten now happens in nursery school? I'm sorry, but I don't approve. Even if my daughter is crazy-excited about her field trip. (I doubt she'd be so excited were her daddy not coming along, though.)

OK, so, onward. The kicker is that it is POURING RAIN outside, and as dark as evening. It's supposed to rain all day. The kindergarten goes rain or shine. And Genevieve's outdoor preschool field trip, last month, which my husband also helped chaperone, took place in the rain as well. Seriously, can you imagine spending all day with a busload of five- and six-year-olds at the zoo in the pouring rain? My husband is a good man.

Coming tomorrow: Kindergarten Graduation. I've heard this involves hand-made caps with tassels, songs about finishing kindergarten, and recitations of poems the children wrote themselves. I have a feeling it is also going to involve tears (from the moms, not the kids). I think it goes without saying that I am NOT ready for my daughter to be done with kindergarten.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Eight Little Fairies

On Saturday Julia had her "kid party" for her sixth birthday. We invited six little girls to the party, so with Julia and Genevieve that made eight little girls at our small-roomed house for 90 minutes on Saturday morning, playing "Pin the Wings on the Fairy" and "Flower, Flower, Fairy" (our fairy-themed brainstorm for Gray Duck) and decorating their own edible sugar-cookie fairy wands and doing an obstacle course in the backyard.

Below are my favorite photos of my daughters from the party. I swear the homemade buttercream on that fairy cake isn't really gray. Well, it's a little gray. But it was supposed to be pale purple. I made the icing on Friday, while simultaneously baking the cake, doing laundry, playing with Genevieve, cleaning the entire house, and watching for the kindergarten bus, and the directions on the back of the food-color box for how to make purple failed me. Three drops of red plus two drops of blue indeed. There were some very hairy moments there for awhile, moments full of gray and cursing, until I decided I'd better quit while I was ahead (?) and distract everyone with pink sprinkles.

It was a great weekend. I can't believe my colicky, non-sleeping, screamer baby is six years old. I honestly remember her first three months like they were yesterday, including the jaundice and the three ER visits and the feeding pumped breastmilk with an eyedropper around the clock and the crying--oh, the crying (hers and mine). Oh my. I can't believe she's six, but I'm glad she's not a newborn anymore.

Oh--and in the photo? The cake isn't really tipping to one side. Really. It's not. Nor is it gray.







Thursday, June 03, 2010

Six

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now forever and ever.

--A. A. Milne



June 3, 2010
Birthday breakfast


Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sixth Birthday Preparations? Yeah, BRING IT.

I just spent the morning making a fleet of sugar-cookie edible fairy wands for Julia's sixth birthday party on Saturday:

(They will have curly ribbon tied around the sticks, and the girls will frost and decorate their own to bring home.)

Genevieve "helped."

(Thanks, Mom, for finding the right sized star-shaped cookie cutter and the oversized lollipop sticks, and sending them to me in the mail in time!)

Then I spent the rest of the morning making 24 of these to bring to Julia's kindergarten class tomorrow at snacktime, for her birthday treat:

(Oops--sorry for the BLUR!)

That would be popcorn, dried fruit, Cheerios, miniature marshmallows, and M&Ms, mixed together and scooped into ice cream cones.

And here is how I plan to transport these precarious treats to school tomorrow:

(That white object in the middle is crumpled paper napkin
to fill the space so the cones will not topple in the car.)

Uh, yikes?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Dead Fish Water in My Ear. Yes. IN MY EAR.

I'm trying and trying to think what interesting things I could tell you. I know I haven't been up to my usual writing frequency lately, and most of the time I feel like, though I'm insanely busy running my family's life and raising children, none of it would be of any interest to you. In that spirit, a few unrelated thoughts:

Thanks for all your enthusiastic reactions to the skinny jeans! Too bad I bought skinny jeans immediately before the season when it is too hot to wear skinny jeans (or any jeans).

Speaking of skinny jeans, here are two truths about losing one's appetite and subsequently losing fifteen pounds: 1.) Losing weight is awesome, especially if you're a runner. But 2.) Losing weight means your clothes, even new ones you just spent money on a couple of months ago, or ones you love that are only a year or so old and that you have no desire to stop wearing, become too big. It's very frustrating. I mean, please don't hate me for being all, Waaah, poor me, I've lost weight and my clothes are too big, waaaah. But still: to put on a very cute one-year-old running skirt and realize that if you wear it, it might fall off before you get to Wall Street Road? Unless you are a celebrity and thus have unlimited money to invest in constant new clothes in different sizes, frustrating. So then you're all like, Well, do I continue at my current appetite/size and have a bunch of clothes that are too big for me and very little to wear on a daily basis even though I am very happy to reacquaint myself with a body I had about, oh, eight years ago? Or do I eat more ice cream and reclaim some disliked poundage so I have clothes to wear? Uh, not a dilemma I particularly enjoy. Sorry; it's true.

So, I recently painted a wall in my house pink. Yes! I did! And I am planning on painting another wall in my house a bold dark red. Yes! Really! This is relatively uncharacteristic of me, even considering that every other wall in my house is currently and/or will be repainted a pale, creamy neutral, which some would consider boring. But, look at that pink wall! And contemplate the in-your-face red! How odd of me. I can't really explain it. I'm not very interested in decorating or color or redoing my house. Mainly I just try to keep it clean and relatively nice-looking in a modest, lower-middle-class sort of way.

I discovered a wood tick in my daughter's scalp this morning as I fixed her hair for school. Ugh.

This weekend, while I was sitting on a germy trashy beach with my family, next to a germy trashy dead-fish-floating lake, a neighbor's rambunctious puppy, soaked to the skin from running in and out of the germy trashy dead-fishy lake, ran over and THREW HER WHOLE BODY AND LICKING FACE INTO MY ENTIRE LEFT SIDE, immediately after my husband and I were privately laughing about the germy trashy lake and the crazy wet germy dog. I am not kidding you. Then she ran off with her jovial owner, leaving me with germy trashy dead-fishy-ness IN MY HAIR AND MY EAR AND ALL DOWN MY CLOTHES AND MY BARE ARM. Worst--and, to be honest, hilariously--of all, my husband and I COULD NOT EVEN REACT, because said neighbors and their dog were mere feet away from us, sportily playing in the germy trashy water and throwing balls to their enthusiastic, wet, germy puppy. OMG dirty. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than an immediate scalding hot shower. Alas, we were at a lake several miles from our town, in the middle of a picnic/beach/playground outing. No shower for me. Just remember this: IN MY HAIR PEOPLE.

Lastly, this is Julia's birthday week--finally the little honey joins all her other kindergarten classmates as a six-year-old, the last in her class to do so--as well as the second to last week of kindergarten. I will not go on to list the insane list of errands, preparations, visitors, cakes, treats, teacher-appreciation presents, and school events I am dealing with in the next two weeks. Just know that, as you are reading this, and as you are wondering why I'm not writing more here, I am doing my best impression of Supermom and am already thick in the swirl of planning and anticipating all the upcoming summer playgroups and swimming lessons and trips and kid swaps and playdates and preschool day camps etc. And wondering if all this means the summer is going to be crazy, not relaxing. And then stressing about the summer not being relaxing enough. But also feeling incredibly glad that I'm a stay-at-home mom and can have full-time summers with my children like this.

Onward to turning six and the end of kindergarten!