Summer @Home: Week 5

What a week.  Aren’t they all?  This week, I finally realized I just need to let go of my to-do lists and expectations and just enjoy being home with the kids, enjoy the summer and our time together as a family.  Already the time is slipping away, and in less than a month, all of the littles will be back in school and Shawn and I will be back at work/school.  I’ve been having a blast this summer, but this week I stopped worrying about any work I should be or could be doing and played more.  Sure, I studied a lot of Spanish, did some reading, some writing, and worked on my fall syllabi while the kids were  sleeping or playing among themselves.  But I also built a lot of block towers this week.  I watched the kids put on shows.  We read fourteen hundred books.  We played hide and seek.

What else did we do/eat/say?  Read on.

Meals

This week was our best week of eats this summer!  And that is all because Shawn really stepped it up in the kitchen.  Every dish he made this week was the best version he has ever made.  Plus, the only night we ate out was last Sunday!

Last Sunday: Dickey’s BBQ

Monday: Breadcrumb pasta and salad.  (Shawn)

Tuesday: Chili (Shawn)

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Chili cheese dogs and cauliflower popcorn (Me!)

Friday: Lasagna (Shawn), salad, and rolls (Me!)  We had friends over for dinner and Settlers!

Saturday: Leftover lasagna.  Yeah, it was so good I could have had it for a week straight.

Sunday: Pancakes and sausage (Me!)

Sidney’s Growing Food List

  • Cheerios
  • Green beans
  • Toast
  • Peas
  • Applesauce
  • Plums
  • Sweet Potato

She is still nursing really well, too, so I am not quite sure I’ll be ready to start weaning when school starts.  I love cuddling with her in the morning for her early breakfast in bed!

Baking Adventures

No-bake cookies

(recipe and picture from Pinterest)

Blueberry cake with white icing (using cake mix + greek yogurt)

Chocolate banana peanut butter bars

Mug brownies (I tried to go healthier…applesauce for oil…they turned out a little cakey, but with some peanut butter on top…YUM!)

(recipe and picture from Pinterest)

Banana muffins

(another from Pinterest)

Out and About

Five-in-a-row Errand Morning: Riley, Adrian, and I hit the library, the bank, the graduate school office, Kroger’s, and McDonald’s (for icy drinks…frappe for me, yo!) all in one morning.  The kids were all-stars and we had a great time.

Lowe’s for a kids’ building workshop: This Saturday, we made a spinning panda attack.

Cracker Barrel for two free blueberry muffins.  Adrian housed his in about four minutes.

Splash Park in Gainesville, GA

The YMCA, of course.

Mommy and Adrian and Sidney outing: We hit Target and Panera, just the three of us.  So cool.  Adrian picked out a seat once we ordered our bagels and scarfed half of his bagel without saying a single word while I tried to start up a conversation and then just resorted to staring at him and his mouth-stuffing cuteness.  Then he passed out on the way home.

Newness

My new shutter display in the kitchen.  I will post a picture soon.  Shawn hung up an old shutter I picked up at our neighbor’s garage sale.  I use clothes pins to pin up coupons, cards, etc.  Love it.  I have some knobs and pulls to outfit it a little more, too.  It looks great in our country kitchen.

The shutter looks something like this:

A new look in the house.  We pulled up our rugs to clean the wood floors, and I really like the look.

Sidney crawled for real the other night. Just a scoot or two, but still.  Count it.

Naps.  I took two this week.  Two.  Two.  Bliss squared.

Riley read her first word: ON.  We went over some word flash cards, but she totally picked ON out of Precision Auto.  That counts, right?

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Summer @Home: Week 4

Here’s the week’s run-down!  Enjoy!

Injuries

Shawn: Cut and bruise on the back of the knee from hockey.  Puck-shaped bruise on thigh from hockey.

Lindsey: Two burns from oven on knuckles.  Two scrapes on other knuckles from grating lemon zest.

Riley: Sparkler burn on hand (but very minor).

Sidney: Three bruises on forehead from crawling into walls.

Adrian and Riley: Bumps on heads from colliding with each other.

Startling Statistics?

Amount of time a single roll of paper towels lasted in our kitchen: an entire month (seriously…we brought one back with us from the beach and we just finished it today!)

Amount of time it took for Riley to run her first mile: 18 minutes

Number of snacks Riley typically has after dinner: 3 (but two of them have to be healthy, like fruit)

Number of times Riley asks for a He-Man and She-Ra story starring both Hordek and Skeletor before we go anywhere: at least 5

Number of stories Shawn and I make-up for Riley each day: probably a solid 3

Amount of money we spent on beverages last week: 50 bucks!  Yeah, we totally busted our budget, but Coke products and Crystal Light were on sale.  We stocked up.

Number of unripened bananas Shawn and I ate this morning because the kids wanted bananas but they were unripened and we had already peeled them: 2

Number of naps Sidney took this afternoon: 0

Bowls of cereal Adrian eats for breakfast: around 3

Amount of time Riley spends completely clothed during the day when we are at home: 10 percent

Meals

Monday: Spaghetti and salad

Tuesday: Power-Out Night-Out – I had Panera (plus two free cookies from an awesome manager), Shawn had Subway, and the kids ate at Chic-fil-a

Wednesday: Burgers for the 4th!  Plus salad and grilled squash.

Thursday: No-Peek Chicken (so good!  and easy and simple!  Chicken, rice, two cans of cream soup, water, and a pack of onion soup mix.

Friday: Chinese!! Just 15 bucks for the four of us plus one lunch leftovers.  Not bad.

Saturday: Kielbasa sandwiches and green beans from our neighbors.  So, so good!

Realizations

1. The money I make grading essays goes straight to our eating-out fund for the summer.

2. We can clean the house (minus the playroom), get dressed, and get the kids dressed in under twelve minutes (when company is on their way over).

3. I am never as productive as I want to be.

4. Bugles are so freaking addicting (I am eating them now!).

5. Shawn is really good at playing with the kids.  I am really good at planning and doing activities with the kids (though circle time was sort-of a bust).

Conversations

Shawn: The playroom looks great.  Why did you clean it?

Linz: It was a mess.

Shawn: But the kids are just going to mess it up again.

Linz: Exactly.  If it is messy, they will find somewhere else to play.

***

Riley: Get the facts straight (or something like that…no idea where she heard it!)

***

Riley: Salad gold.

Linz: Yum.  What’s salad gold.

(Riley points at the mirror in our bathroom.)

Linz: Uh.  You mean solid gold.  Got it.

Activities

1. Rescue (a stuffed animal from all sorts of traps and cages)

2. Rope-climbing (Riley has started training to be a CIA agent.)

3. Driveway fireworks (Riley only managed to burn herself once.)

4. YMCA (We added raquetball to our activities line-up there.)

5. Atlanta Children’s Museum and downtown splash park

6. Library (UGA (for me) and the county one (for the kids)

7. Centers (We made it through coloring and He-Man…then we lost Riley and Adrian and I did the letters center.)

8. Sidney started making laps around the house.

9.  I finished up my last week of class.  Woot!  A month-long grad class is intense.

Foods – New and Favorite

Sidney: Plums!  Next up is green beans.  So far, I’ve been pureeing fruits and veggies we have…hopefully this effort will last through the summer.

Me: Peanut M&M’s.  Yes, I ate a whole large bag minus about five this week.  Yes, I hid them in a shopping bag in the back of the meat drawer in the refrigerator.  Yes, I feel really good about this.  Yes, I am sad that the bag is finished.  Yes, I love peanut M&M’s.

Adrian: Mango!  He ate two whole bowlfuls!

Shawn and Linz: Zucchini pizzas for lunch one day.  Shawn even liked them!  But they didn’t look anything like what I had seen on Pinterest.  The cheese was all over the place!

 

All of us: Lemon brownies.  Who knew?  We ate a whole pan, brought half a pan to our neighbors, and froze half a pan.  So good and only a handful of ingredients.  Even the kids really liked them!  (And I didn’t even make the icing!  For me not to put icing on a dessert and eat it is saying something…)

Dine Out All Week for $100: Part 1

So Shawn and I were brainstorming today about how we could eat out for dinner every night for a week with our family of 4 (and a half) for one hundred dollars.  We’ve got 4 days mapped out so far:

Sunday: Dickey’s BBQ.  Quarter plates (which include a meat, a delicious roll, and two sides) cost $7.25 and kids eat for free (chicken nuggets, a side, a roll, and a drink!).  Total cost = about $15.25.

Monday: Moe Monday, of course.  5 dollar burritos and kids eat free after 5pm!  Without drinks, that’s roughly $10.70.

Tuesday or Wednesday: Stevi B’s Pizza Buffet.  Adults cost $5 each and kids eat for around $4.  Little kids like Adrian are free, so our total cost here is about $14.  I also think our Stevi B’s has a deal on Tuesday or Wednesday night for a better deal.  Not sure what it is, but I will check next time we go.

Tuesday or Wednesday: Subway.  With the continuation of $5 foot-long subs, a family of four could get 2 subs, divide them 4 ways and call it an easy night out.  For us, Shawn usually eats his whole sub and the kids are not quite sub eaters yet (though Adrian will pretty much try anything we express any interest in!).  Still, we are probably looking at about $14 in total (two subs and something little for the kiddos).  By the way, this month’s feature is Buffalo Chicken.

And stay tuned for Part 2 (or Thursday, Friday, and Saturday dining out ideas!)

PS  Shawn and I really, really like to eat out.  Can you tell?

PPS  I don’t really like to spend a lot of money.  Can you tell?

PPPS  We haven’t actually done this, eat out every night for a week.  But after we post Part II, we might have to give it a shot!

PPPPS  And then we’ll have to do a week of eating in for a week straight.  Yikes.  That could be tough.

Summer @Home: Week 3

I am definitely in full-out summer mode…not really sure what day of the week it ever is, what day of the month…wearing no to minimal make-up…living in a t-shirt and short shorts around the house…sweating….eating lots of ice cream…

I love this time of the year.  Even the sweating.  Especially the ice cream!

This week was another fun one: some new fun findings, cute Riley sayings, athletic feats and woes, culinary adventures, and more.

Meals

So I already posted about our meals through Wednesday.  Here’s the rest of the week:

Thursday: mac and cheese, baked beans, and hot dogs (yes, all mixed together)

Friday: pizza slices at TransMet.  I had gone to the one downtown last August, and we all had a great time and a great meal at the one right down the road from our house tonight.  The kids scarfed three slices of cheese, Shawn had two BBQ slices, and I had a veggie pesto slice (plus the kids’ crusts).  Sidney slept.  I’m already looking forward to our next visit.

Saturday: Veggie bake and leftovers.

(I adapted this from an idea I saw on Pinterest…zucchini, squash, and tomato layered on top of some cooked onion and garlic powder…sprinkled with some olive oil and breadcrumbs…will add a little cheese half-way through cooking for an hour on 350.  Can’t wait!)

Outings

Girls’ Breakfast @ Panera on Wednesday

Movie morning (1 dollar tickets) on Tuesday

The YMCA most days for 1-4 hours (swimming, basketball, Kid-Watch, running, playground, and hockey).  Unfortunately, I am sort of falling apart.  Between my feet, ankles, and knees, I am all sorts of sore.

DQ Happy Hour!

Castle Park

Botanical Gardens.  We had a blast…checking out some flowers, taking a hike on the purple/orange trail, swimming in mud (Riley, that is, after trying to climb up on a sideways tree after her father), climbing trees, telling another He-Man/She-Ra story, wiping mud on each other (well, Riley tried to get me muddy), and cooling off in some water (well, I dumped two water bottles of water on Riley after she got mud on me).  Once it cools down a bit, we will definitely head back.  The area was beautiful, and we’ve got a nature scavenger hunt I found on Pinterest to finish.

Highlight of the Week

Lunch with CAROLINE outside Atlanta!!  Hands down.  Riley, Sidney, and I met Caroline on her way home from TN.  So, so cool!  We ate at Panera, did a little shopping, talked in person…it was awesome!

New and Refined Feats

Sidney has mastered the army crawl

Riley ran/walked 3/4 of a mile.  The goal is a mile.  If she does, she gets another monster cookie from Publix.  The things this girl will do for a monster cookie!  She’s pretty quick, too.

(Monster cookies look something like this!)

I can code Objects and Methods.

Sidney is starting to consistently sleep through the night!  Woot.  But of course, she’ll be up a lot tonight because I typed this.

Discoveries

I think Panera coffee makes me sick…I had it twice this week, and afterwards, my head was seriously spinning for a bunch of hours.  This makes me unbelievably sad.

My phone or battery is dying.  Boo!  I just ordered a new battery…we’ll see if that works.

Adrian loves to pull Shawn’s body hair (especially leg and chest hair).

Riley’s Favorites and Least Favorites

(Can you guess which are which?)

He-Man and She-Ra stories.

Underwear.

Sleeping on the couch.

Computer games.

Brushing her hair.

Sweet potato bread.

Sayings

Riley: Aunt Caroline is poisoning us?

Me: She is?  How?

Riley: With this lip gloss.  And our new clothes.

Me: Do you mean spoiling?

Riley: Yeah.  Poisoning.

Adrian’s Breakfast One Morning

Two frozen pancakes (one toasted, one frozen).

Half of a bagel thin.

Nutri-grain bar.

Milk.

Fun @ Home

Water balloon fight!

Cardboard box house-building.

Puzzles, coloring, and reading.

Baking.  Four loaves of sweet potato bread!

Playroom obstacle courses.

Summer @Home Week 2

I cannot believe another week is already over!  The days are blissfully and exhaustingly full.  Especially when two of the kiddos wake up at 3:30 one morning (Shawn took that shift, thankfully!).  As a family, we are really enjoying our time together and learning how to deal with sibling rivalry, schoolwork/reading/home life balance, dishes, and more.  Here’s the breakdown for this week, combined with a shorter version of our grocery report for the week.  Yeah, we definitely busted the budget this week, but I think it was worth it.  Two items in particular: Diet Root Beer and Meat.

Groceries

Not quite 90 dollars.  This included quite a lot of food, our fruit and veggie basket, 4 cases of Diet Root Beer, and 6 pounds of ground turkey.  And I should say, that was 6 pounds for 11 dollars!  Good stuff.  I broke the bundles up into 1 pound packages.  This week we just ate 2 packs, so we have four pounds of frozen meat to work with.  I am pumped.  The dinner possibilities are endless.  The soda was a nice treat, too.  Especially since it is so hot now, I think this was a good splurge for us.

Meals

Last Sunday – TACOS!  Shawn’s favorite for Father’s Day!

Monday – Moes!

Tuesday – Eggs, Rice, and Cheese

Wednesday – Leftovers

Thursday – Grandpa’s Chili (from the freezer) over rice and a sweet potato (for me)

Friday – Veggie Night…Carrot Fries, Squash Chips, and a new Squash Casserole.  So good.

Saturday – Burgers and Corn (and we will have a Lemon Pudding Cake for dessert later…I wanted something new with our lemons.  It looks yummy.  Will probably have some as soon as I finish this post!

(Love this image of lemon pudding cake from Cookie Madness.  My recipe was pretty similar to hers, too….just no cream of tartar, more milk and no cream, and a tablespoon less butter.)

Activities

1.  Gymnastics Camp for Riley Week 2.  She improved so much in a week.  Her cartwheels and backward rolls are really coming along.  Plus, during the parents’ show, she was so much more confident on every obstacle and element…bars, beams, vault, trampolines, and rings.

2.  Gainesville, GA Children’s Museum.  We went for Father’s Day.  Spent a solid two hours exploring the neighborhood-like building.

3.  Brave.  Shawn and Riley had a father-daughter date on Friday afternoon.  The littles stayed with me to do some cleaning and veggie cooking.

4.  Y-Time.  I think we spent between 1 and 4 hours everyday at the YMCA.  We hit the pool, a mat-covered room, and then let the kids play at Kid Watch while Shawn and I work out.  I really love the time we spend as a family doing active things like this, and the kids are becoming such strong swimmers, too.

5.  Home-time.  This week, I completed my second level of activities for class, finished Marshall McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy and Andrea Barrett’s Ship Fever, did some coding, started working out Part II of my creative project, cleaned the dining room and playroom (like deep cleaning), lots of laundry, and watched The Office and a few more movies with Shawn at night.

Outings

McDonald’s for lunch (twice…I know, I know…but I am obsessed with their chicken, frappes, and sundaes…and it is pretty cheap for all of us to eat!) and Stevi B’s for pizza (another 13 dollar meal out…and seriously, their loaded baked potato pizza, mac and cheese pizza, salad bar, and cinnamon rolls are so freaking good.).

New Stuff

Riley: Swam across the pool without using the wall or bottom to rest at all!!

Sidney: Totally on the move!  The girl can army-crawl her way around the house now.  Look out, world.  She also started eating solids once a day…cereal and sweet potatoes (home-pureed by me!).  Next week, we might do carrots.

Adrian: He is close to getting his colors down.  And he can swim on his own with the noodle.  And he ate sweet potato salad (recipe to come in the next post…).

Linz: Running!  I ran my first four miles (on four separate days) since before I was pregnant with Adrian.  The first mile was really rough, but this morning, I felt really good.  We are still playing basketball, too, but I hurt my foot, so I have to rest it for two-three days in between our 1-on-1 matches.  Not gonna lie, having a small injury actually makes me feel really good.  Hard core.  Might even tackle some boot camp next week…

Funny Sayings

Shawn to Riley – Why did you kick your brother?

Riley to Shawn – I don’t want him around me.

Linz while telling a story to Riley – “He-Ra” and “She-Man.”  This totally cracked Shawn up.

Our New Tips and Tricks

1.  We now pack a wet bag and a dry bag for the pool.  This has made changing and leaving the pool infinitely easier.

2.  Shawn washes dishes.  I put away the clean ones.  When we stay up with dishes daily, the kitchen stays so much cleaner.

The Love Bug Game: 10 Years and 4 Versions of Car Fun

Shawn and I started playing this car game a decade ago when we used to log long miles in the car together between his place in western Pennsylvania, my family’s home in Virginia, and New York City.  Since then, we’ve spent hours in the car together, traveling to see family and friends, going on a coast-to-coast road trip, and running errands.  We even drove to work together for three years.

To make that time together more fun, we started playing the Love Bug Game.  I think we are now in Version 4.0 with the inclusion of Riley in the mix.  Here’s a quick look at our game, how it works, and its evolution:

Version 1.0

1.  Love Bug.  When a player sees a Volkswagen Beetle anywhere (on the road, in a parking lot, in a driveway, etc.), he earns one point.  The player must call out “Love Bug” plus the color of the car (for example, “Love Bug Maroon!”).  If a player calls out Love Bug in error (that is, they don’t actually see a Beetle), the other player gets a free hit.  The player with the most points wins.  A new game starts every day and lasts for only one day regardless of how many car trips or the duration of a car trip on that day.  Players must spot Love Bugs in the vicinity of each other for them to count.

Version 2.0

Above guidelines plus the following additions:

1.  Dealer Lots.  Love Bugs in dealer lots do not count.  In Version 1.0, they were a crazy frenzy.  Imagine “Love Bug orange.  Love Bug cream.  Love Bug black.  Love Bug Gray with white roof.  Love Bug blue.  Love Bug navy.  Love Bug eggshell.”  On and on.  Driving proved difficult during these moments.

2.  The Element.  If a player sees an Element and calls out “Element,” she sends the other player back to 0.  If the Element call is in error, the other player gets a free hit.  A cruel, cruel addition.

Version 3.0

1. Lockdown.  When a player is at 0 and the other player sees an “Element,” the player @ 0 goes into Lockdown.  To get out of Lockdown, the player can use either an Element or a Love Bug.

2.  Starting Bonus.  If a Love Bug is spotted first, the player who calls it gets 2 points.  If an Element is spotted first, the player who calls it gets 1 point and send the other player into Lockdown.

3.  Sleep Mode.  When a player is sleeping, the game is paused.  If a player is reading or dealing with children, game play continues.  Sleep is the only reason for play to be suspended while the game is on.  If Shawn and I are together, the game is always on.

Version 4.0

1.  Introducing the Little Ones.  Now that Riley can recognize Beetles, she is invited to quasi-play.  That means, any Love Bug she sees counts for her, even if it is a repeat of one that we have already called. But the reverse does not hold true.  If Riley calls a Love Bug, it becomes off-limits for us.  Riley does not get sent to 0 or Lockdown.  Perhaps when she starts to recognize Elements, that will change.

And there you have it!  The Love Bug game.  Now that it is summertime and we leave the house at least once all together every day, we’ve both been stepping up our game.  Yesterday morning, I was up 5 to Lockdown and Riley had 2.  But by the day’s end, I lost.  So not cool.  Ah, but today is a new day, and we are getting ready to hit the YMCA for some swimming.  Bring it.

Camp: A Certain Kind of Perfect

Last week, we spent one of our days up north at Camp Kon-O-Kwee.  Though my family moved around a lot growing up, Camp was the one constant.  I started going to Camp Kon-O-Kwee when I was six years old in the YMCA’s Indian Princess program.  Then at seven, I started summer camp.  Then in high school, I became a Counselor-In-Training.  Two years later, I became a Counselor.  Then, and finally, I became a Village Director.

Part of me cannot believe that time in my life is over, that the many summers I spent at camp are over and done.  Camp creeps upon me at odd times: when a certain smell is in the air, a certain song is playing on the radio, a certain type of evening breeze, the feel of concrete or grass, the smell of a fire or marshmallows, stars in the sky.  And then I am right back there, back to the place that taught me so much about life, people, and possibility.  Camp, and the people there (namely Uncle Rob, Aunt Judy, Uncle Harry, and so many of the staff I worked alongside for so many summers), taught me how to recognize and be confident in my ability to work hard.  My parents instilled a solid work ethic in me, but it was at camp –  sweeping outside the dining hall Saturday mornings, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before lunch, helping out in the dish room, tarring cracks in the tennis court – where I realized I was, I am, good at working hard.  Really good at it.  In fact, it is the thing I like best about myself.

And though my days at Camp summer after summer and even on the weekends are over (and though this makes me unbelievable sad), it was with unparalleled delight that I was able to return, if only for a day, to camp with my kids.  We stayed in a beautiful guest cabin, tackled the Trail of Courage four times, walked across camp, took the kids on a paddle boat in the pond, took a morning hike, visited our old lodges, made a camp fire, roasted a bag full of marshmallows, and sat staring into the camp fire until nothing else seemed to matter very much at all except the simple fact of our family together and the gooey golden brown goodness of a perfectly roasted mallow.

As we sat there, Sidney rolling around on a blanket in the grass, Riley armed with a marshmallow stick, and Adrian asleep inside, I told Shawn the day had been perfect.  A certain kind of perfect.  Camp perfect.  He agreed.