Saturday, March 19, 2011

Taking a Break

First let's start with a brief photo recap from our last trip to Bounce Gymnastics. At five bucks per kid, I'd say we get more than our money's worth with each visit.

And now on to Spring Break 2011!

Being at home this week means I get to indulge in certain pleasures like taking Jack to his soccer class. Wow. I totally need to figure out Coach Andrew's secret for mesmerizing and commanding small children. This guy needs to quit his day job and sell that juju. Or at least give me a couple of pointers. Again, wow.

It's rare that I get to see Jack in a group dynamic where another adult is in charge. I am always surprised at how well he listens and how eager he is to please, since we don't always see the cooperative and amenable side of him at home. It's clear that Jack takes his budding soccer career very seriously.

Sawyer puts his entire body into each kick. As I have said before, he is a daily crack up.

Staying home also means I can lay claim to the breakfast table. I have a total love/hate relationship with breakfast. I LOVE LOVE LOVE to stay home in my pjs and sip countless cups of coffee while flipping blueberry pancakes, but that kind of luxury is usually reserved for the weekend. That pesky job of mine often interferes with my lounging and breakfasting and there are many mornings when pouring a few bowls of cereal is the best I can do. But I really hate cereal and the cold, hollow emptiness that inevitably follows you throughout the morning. I want my kids (and me, too!) to be satiated, satisfied and ready to start the day and a soggy old bowl of flakes just isn't going to cut it. Also, the insane packaging! Now before you go disparaging me for being a dirty Eugene hippy (which I would totally own except that I'm actually quite neat and tidy), just look at a box of cereal! It's so much packaging for such little product. Yes, yes, I know, the freshness, you say. Bah! It's a racket. I loathe breakfast cereal. Anyway. Back to the love. The kids and I have been loving up some Puffy Oven Pancakes (check your Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook- it's in there) because not only can you whip it up in a snap, it's also quite fun to stand transfixed in front of the oven as the pancake puffs up and out of the pie plate. Perhaps the kids and I are just easily amused? Brent doesn't like the puffies because he says they're "too eggy". More for the rest of us, I say.

Jack spends some quality time with Beatrice Potter while digesting the pancakes.

And speaking of eggs, it turns out that the best way to get your non-laying chickens to restart their egg production is to buy new chicks. Eggs a plenty is this house right now, and by summer we'll be getting four a day. Brent really should give the Puffy Oven Pancake another try.

The kids spend a lot of time cooking with me and I recently realized that they can actually be somewhat helpful in the kitchen. I was making carrot cake cupcakes the other day and Jack ceremoniously announced that he would be grating the carrots. Hmmmkay. I had all sorts of visions of grated fingers and bloody cupcakes but it turns out that he's actually a pretty decent prep cook. Sawyer arrived wearing his fleece cap and no pants and proceeded to throw carrots on the floor. He is lucky that I love him so much.

I think our new go to dinner is Golden Tofu with Peanut Sauce from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. Seriously, how did I live without this book for so long?

Ninkasi just started selling their beers in twelve ounce bottles. Life could not get much better around here.

One of my goals for the break was to clean out the playroom. All playrooms have the unfortunate tendency to turn into pits of despair and ours was no exception. Although we've tried to keep the kids' consumerism to a minimum they still end up with heaps and heaps of toys. I seriously wonder if they multiply in the night when no one is watching. I'd planted the idea in Jack's head that we'd be doing some spring cleaning and that we'd be donating some of his old toys to charity. Jack jumped right on board with this idea and began feeding me lines about giving toys away to kids who don't have toys and how he and Sawyer have too much stuff and how it feels good to give your things to others. I was both surprised and impressed by his newfound philanthropic attitude. Maybe all of this quality parenting mumbo jumbo had its merit! It was all sinking in! Things were starting to pay off! My son was becoming a thoughtful and generous human being! My heart swelled with pride.

And then it deflated once again when he went on to say that all of this empty space in the playroom would be just perfect for ALL OF HIS NEW TOYS! Wha? Yeah, he totally thought we were clearing out shelves for a shopping spree. Greedy little...

Compromise. It's certainly the key to marriage and it just might be the golden ticket for parenting as well. I told Jack that if he wanted new toys he would have to cash in his piggy bank. A bit of history here, Jack has been hoarding pennies and stealing change out of my purse for years now to deposit into his piggy. He often talks about taking us all to Disneyland with his money and so it was clear to me that the kid has no real concept of currency, inflation, or the economic recession. But he has been holding this piggy full of riches near and dear to his heart for years now and so I was surprised when he quickly agreed to spend it. I thought this might be a teachable moment about the value of money/a family outing with a bonus lesson in economics and so we loaded into the car and heading for the nearest coin counting machine. Jack soon learned he had $29. He awkwardly stuffed the bills into his pocket and then had a mini meltdown when I reminded him that we had to drop off the old toys at the donation site before we even thought about new toys. When we finally arrived at Toys R Us, Brent and I knew we were in for the long haul. Jack has a very hard time making decisions and when you are about to spend your entire life savings on new toys, you just don't mess around. He thoroughly inspected about fifty different options before settling on a knights/castle/dragon set that is actually pretty cool. Jack handed over his cash without a moment's hesitation and then spent the entire afternoon lost in a world of swords, armor, and chivalry. So I guess it was a pretty good day.

Did he learn anything? I don't know. I'm not sure that any lesson on charitable donation and/or monetary value could have possibly be gleaned from this experience. Sigh. This parenting thing is hard sometimes, but at least now the playroom is less of a pit. And that means I have more room for sewing. Who is the greedy one now?

Uncle Nick and Aunt Mishaun paid us an impromptu visit. Jack commented, "It's like Christmas when they come!"

And how will we be spending the rest of the break? Today the kids and I head up north to visit my friend Melanie and her kids who now live in Portland. And if you read anything about my summer trip to visit her in Bend, you'll know why I ask you to cross your fingers for us.

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