Riley’s Summer Exit Interview

Riley’s Self-Pic

1.  What was your favorite adventure this summer?

The one that we find the leaves and different seeds (she’s referring to a nature scavenger hunt we started at the Athens Botanical Gardens).

2.  What was your favorite thing we baked together?

Those yummy brownies we made yesterday.

3.  What was your favorite thing we played at home?


4.  What was your favorite outside activity?


5.  What was your favorite dinner we made this summer?

My fried rice with meatballs (the dish I made last night!).

6.  What was your favorite thing about the summer?

Oh, that’s a tough question.  Bouncing on the couch like this (followed by a demonstration), reading books, watching TV, and playing games on my momma’s computer.  And that’s all.

7.  What are you going to miss the most about summer when you go back to school?

Playing games.

8.  What did you like the most about hanging out with Adrian?

To play with him.

9.  What do you like about playing with your brother?

Mmm.  That’s a tough one.  I don’t know.  (With some prompting).  Yeah, laughing with him.

10.  What did you most like about hanging out with Sidney?

To play with her.  To tickle her.

11.  What did you not like about the summer?

To not get my way.  Like when you don’t read me books when I want to read them.  Like on movie night (Okay, I should just say that we have read to Riley and Adrian and Sid every night except for one or two when we let them watch a longer movie at night.).

12.  What was your favorite He-Man and She-Ra story?

That one when they couldn’t swim.  The water one.  And those pools that they had to throw the stick in the water and it bubbled and hissed and hissss, hisssss.  That one.

13.  What was your favorite treat this summer?

Getting donuts today!  That’s today, momma. (I took Riley to Ike and Jane’s after dropping the littles off at daycare.  I wanted to do something special with her to celebrate today, and I loved going out to breakfast or out for coffee with my parents when I was growing up.  Pretty much the best start to a special day in my books.)


Riley: Mommy, can we be done now with questions?

Me: How about two more?

Riley: Okay.


14.  What did you learn this summer?

What I learned is that when somebody’s pastry is sitting on a counter (like at Panera), we don’t steal the sprinkles.  (You can guess how she learned this lesson and how embarrassed I was.  Riley (and Adrian), the Sprinkle Thieves.)

15.  What was your favorite accomplishment?

That’s a tough one.  How about a different question that that?

16.  Do you know what accomplishment means?

No.  No, momma.

17.  How about, what are you most excited about with school starting?

My backpack.  (With more prompting…).  A sandwich holder?  (With more prompting…)  Oh, to color mommy a picture.


Riley: Okay, Momma.  It’s time to go camping.

Me: Yes, let’s go (camping in the play room that is).


Tomorrow, I won’t be able to say that.  So today, yes, we’re going camping.

Summer @Home Highlights!

Shawn’s been back in school since last Tuesday.

The littles are back in daycare as of this morning.

Riley goes back on Wednesday.

I start teaching next Monday at 9:05am.

I start my classes on Tuesday.

Where, oh where, did the summer go?

I thought to celebrate the end of our family’s summer, I would compile some highlights and reflections.  Enjoy!

Best Family Meal:

Shawn: Lasagna and bread crumb pasta.  He can sure do Italian!

Me: Probably my meatball and pea pie.  I also got really good at making carrot fries.

Best Dessert: Banana Bread Cobbler.  Hands down.  Did I mention I am making it this week?  Again?  No way I am letting the kiddos eat all our bananas two weeks in a row!

Best Baked Good: Zucchini Brownies.

Best Lunch: Sweet potatoes with peanut sauce.

Best Outing: Atlanta’s Children Museum and Splash Park and Athen’s Botanical Gardens.

Favorite Adult Activity: Racquetball.  Nothing like whacking a little ball around an enclosed space with your significant other with whom you have spent the vast majority of weeks on end.

Best (Adult) Splurge: New racquetball rackets and my new outdoor firepit!  Instead of stocking up on coffee, I picked up a firepit at Bed, Bath, and Beyond yesterday.  I have really wanted one, and I cannot wait to enjoy it once the weather gets a little cooler.  Me, sipping some tea (or hot cocoa) and reading by the fire after the kids go to bed…  Or our family, roasting marshmallows on the weekend…  Can’t wait!  The kids have already volunteered to pick up sticks!

Proudest Moment: Riley picking up litter at the park the other day.  Adrian giving Sidney big hugs every day.

Cool New Tricks: Sidney standing up.  Adrian and his colors.  Me and my diaper cake (pictures coming!!) and Spanish.  Riley recognizing words.

Favorite Home Improvements: My new shutter message board and vintage key holder in the kitchen.  I’ll post pictures of these soon!

Favorite New Kid-Friendly and Affordable Restaurant: Dickey’s BBQ (and kids eat free on Sunday!)

Biggest Grocery Splurge: Beverages.  Coke Zero (for Shawn), other Coke products for me, coffee, and Chrystal Light lemonade and ice tea mixes.

Favorite Kid Activities:

Riley: Mets Bear Rescue.  Shawn would put my Mets Bear stuffed animal in precarious places, and Riley would have to rescue him.  She saved him from burning lava, floods, high peaks, and cages.

Adrian: Blocks, Trains, and Golf.

Sidney: Hanging out with her older siblings and putting things in her mouth.

Best Realizations: 

  • Enjoy and make the most of every moment with the kids but don’t get overly sentimental.  Time passes too quickly.
  • Recipes are good guides but experimentation can produce fun, tasty, and healthy dishes with on-hand ingredients.
  • Be firm and hug often.
  • Take turns with the Mood.  Don’t hog it but don’t refuse it either.  Everyone gets the Mood from time to time.
  • Days pass so freakin’ fast.  But don’t say freakin’ too much around a four-year-old unless you want her to start saying it, as in “I’m so freakin’ cold, Momma!”
  • I love being a mother AND I love writing, reading, studying, and teaching.  My days are full, and I am pretty freakin’ happy.

Stay tuned for my Summer Exit Interview with Riley and Adrian!  Should be fun.  I started compiling questions, and I cannot wait to hear their responses.

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.


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.


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?

Summer @Home: Week 4

Here’s the week’s run-down!  Enjoy!


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


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!


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).


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.


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…)

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.


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!)


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.


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.


Sleeping on the couch.

Computer games.

Brushing her hair.

Sweet potato bread.


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.

Summer @Home: Week One

Our first week at home with all three kids has been a blast.  Here’s a look at Week One, and its costs, activities, and highlights:

Food & Costs

Breakfast – three boxes of cereal, a bag of English muffins, milk, and some bananas = $12

Lunch – two loaves of bread, jar of jelly, jar of peanut butter, snacks (dollar a day), and applesause/bananas = $15

Drinks – coffee and creamer (dollar for 7 cups of instant coffee!), iced tea/lemonade mix = $8

Dinner has been mostly eating down pantry staples this week.  But for next week’s planning purposes, we’ll reserve $15 for our fruit/veggie basket and that leaves about $10 for meat, beans, pasta, etc.  Yikes!  We’ll see how that goes! = $25

Outings – DQ for ice cream, Moe’s Monday, and Buffalo’s Cafe on Thursday for dinner (we wanted to try something new!) = $56 (we’ll try to cut this down next week!  I’m thinking we’ll hit up DQ for their half-price happy hour or maybe Sonic for half-price milkshakes after 8pm.  Hmmm…I so need a website that publishes eating out deals!

Kid Activities

1. Riley @ gymnastics camp every morning

2. Y-time!  Swimming followed by Kid-Watch

3.  Picnic lunches @ YMCA or park

4.  Art time (stencils and/or coloring)

5.  Little outings: library, park, and Wal-mart

6.  @Home fun: ball bit, baseball hitting practice, reading, baking (a cake and some cookies for Father’s Day!)

7.  Naps!  At least for Adrian and Sidney.

Adult Activities

1.  Basketball.  This week, Shawn and I started playing basketball together again at the Y. My record is not off to a great start (0-5), but it was great to get back in the gym and start lighting it up again (well, sometimes).  It has been three years since I have played, the last time being our weekly pick-up games at Sewanee.  I am definitely a bit hesitant and out-of-shape.  Now, my whole body aches.  But that is a good thing.  I think.

2.  Netflix Movie Genre Marathons.  This week, we did Romantic Comedies.  Each night, we took turns picking a different romantic comedy on Netflix.  The top pick of the week so far: Chalet Girl (with cast members from One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl and plenty of fun snowboarding scenes).  We’ve also enjoyed The Rebound, Morning Glory, and some made for TV movie.  Shawn’s up to pick tonight, and next week, I think we’ll do Thrillers.  Fun.

Tips & Tricks

1.  Clean up the playroom every night.  After the kids watch one show at night, we all pitch in to clean up the playroom.  Then the fun can begin again tomorrow.

2.  Eating lunch out (picnic-style).  This keeps the house cleaner and it’s more fun!

3.  Keep up with the dishes.  Shawn washes and I put away.

Hopefully, I will have more to add to this section after next week!

What We Are Learning

1.  Sidney = crawling.  She is getting so close!

2.  Riley = cartwheels and backward rolls.

3.  Adrian = potty training and the alphabet.  He pooped once and peed a couple of times.  He also can say all of his letters now.

4.  Me = Marshall Mcluhan’s Gutenberg Galaxy and Computer-Based Instruction (the summer course I am taking).

5.  Shawn = Diablo