Sunday, March 30, 2008

Random Photos

This is sort of a "Where in the World are Smunch and Mam?" kind of post. I think today will be one of our last big letterboxing forays for a while. Smunch was decidedly grumpy about the whole thing. Despite a grumbling start, I think even Smunch had fun. We went to some neat places and and the weather was beautiful...although the wind was cold. Daddy stayed home to repair my garden boxes in preparation for my planting some vegetables sometime soon. Not sure who got the better deal. At least he got freedom from uber-grouchy Smunch.

Anyway, here are some photos from today in a bunch of not-totally-local spots where we tromped around, following clues and stamping in our logbook...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Yesterday, Mam was 20 months old and her eye doctor decided she should really have glasses.
What a cutie! She was still so little that even the little girl glasses kind of took over her face.

Today, Mam is 4. And this is what those exact same glasses look like on her.Not really all that bad until you notice that the "arms" are all splayed out in their attempt to get to her ears.

So, today Mam got her very first pair of big-girl glasses. She saw the box in the mailbox and couldn't contain herself. "They're here! They're here! They're here!" She loves them. They're still pink...of course!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Bunny Day!

Now that I've finally gotten to blogging about our day, it's nearly over. In most respects, it's been a great one. The kids got up painfully early this morning, but when Daddy came out to check on them, they were watching Reading Rainbow. When he told them not to eat the candy in their baskets, Smunch said, "Oh, it's Easter, isn't it?" Duh.

It took them no time to work themselves up into an excited frenzy after that. So, Daddy and I were out in the backyard giving helpful suggestions and hints where to look for eggs well before 8 o' hour I consider barely civilized. I tried to take pictures of the egg hunt, but the kids were running around so fast, it looked like a blur, even in real life! Fortunately, I think it still captures their unbounded enthusiasm pretty well.
I think they must've found at least two dozen eggs. Probably more if you count the half dozen real eggs (as opposed to candy-filled plastic) they found. But it was all over in a flash. Phew. And then it was time for the great pouring of candy...out of the eggs, into a big bowl where it could be adequately oggled.
Gram and Grandpa joined us for the wonderful cinnamon rolls with waffles, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, coffee and orange juice. Once breakfast was over, I felt the need to get out of the house. Daddy felt the need to do taxes (are you kidding me???) on this beautiful day, so I piled the bikes in the mommymobile, lured the kids into the car with promises of crossing a big bridge. We took off just before noon.

And guess what we did? Oh, right. Like you didn't know already, huh? This time we got to get out on our bikes on paved trails. Mam had kind of a hard time on her little bike with training wheels. The trails may have been paved, but they weren't flat. It was a lot for a tiny pair of legs to handle.Here's the teeny tiniest letterbox I've ever seen. It was attached by magnet to the bottom of a bench. So cool.

Then we headed over to a historic farm in the area, which naturally also contained a letterbox, but of greater interest (at least to you), it was also beautiful and had a bunch of new lambs tottering around on their gangly new legs. Very, very cute.
I wish you could tell that Mam was skipping in this picture. And yes, that's her Easter dress. Yes, she went bike-riding in it. No, I couldn't get her to take it off. Whatever.
Around 2:30, we headed back over the big bridge...made even more interesting by having to stop and pay the exorbitant toll. Then we stopped at a wetlands preserve and walked around there for a while. The kids were surprisingly game for all of this. On the whole, there was very little whining. They got to see some jack rabbits, lots of small aircraft landing at the nearby airport, flocks of geese, billions of ducks...oh and a couple of runners who walked past as we were walking out of the restroom. These two guys were shirtless and Mam loudly declared, "They're NAKED!!!" They didn't seem to notice. It probably wouldn't dawn on them that a four-year-old might refer to them that way. They did, after all, have shorts and shoes on!
They had a terrific time tromping around. We didn't get home until 4 o'clock. Sleep came easily tonight!

Cinnamon Rolls

I'm not about to start a foodie blog or anything, but I'm going to take a minute here and say, I made the best cinnamon rolls for Easter! Oh, er, I mean Mam and I made the best cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon rolls being sort of a yeasty kind of thing, I had to start them before the ballgame yesterday. And Mam helped. She watched the mixer very carefully and offered to taste the dough at just about every stage.
We'd already planned a meal of waffles with strawberries and whipped cream, but Smuch announced a few days ago that we had to have "those swirly things". Um, right. Of course. We hardly ever have those swirly things and I think I've only tried to make them once in Smunch's lifetime. They didn't turn out great. But these? Awesome!

Oh yeah, and the waffles were kinda good too.

Opening Day, Take 2

Last year, I used the event of Smunch's first day as a baseball (well, T-ball) player to start my very own blog. Opening Day seemed like the right day to do that. So, it's only appropriate that I should catalog this year's opening day as well.

This year, Smunch is playing in a new league...because PONY Baseball uses the field at his school. Of course, none of his games are actually at his school, but that's beside the point. So, we've got a new color (orange instead of teal), a new mascot (a bird instead of a snake) and a whole new lineup. I'm happy. It's a great group of kids...and more importantly, it's a great group of moms, who all have kindergarteners at the same school.

Smunch even has friends on this team...
...which means I have friends in the stands.

This year's opening day was far less painful than last year's. Instead of a big ceremony involving the entire league and hours in the hot sun, an "official" from PONY Baseball came and talked for about two minutes, the kids from both the Orioles and their opponents, the Mets, were officially introduced and it was time to PLAY BALL!...
...or to sit for a very long time squinting into the sun because a)you were put last in the batting order and b) you refuse to wear your hat.
Smunch proved last year that he's not really all that good at hitting off a tee. He's better when being pitched to, but he did pretty know, considering no one keeps score.

And Mam? Well, doesn't she look like the picture of a true Oriole's fan? All thanks to her brother refusing to wear his hat, of course. What's up with that anyway???
Despite how happy she looks, Mam was bored to death by the whole affair and had a must-be-touching-Mommy-at-all times moment to top that off. It didn't matter that her Sarah was there. She would do nothing without Mommy. And poor Mommy just wanted to see her kid play baseball! Waaah!

Of course, the truth of the matter is, even Smuch, in all his sports fanatic glory, couldn't quite maintain his enthusiasm for the entire game. He looks pretty bored here, huh? He's playing third base...and check it out! He's got his hat on now that the game's almost over!

Yes, my kid sings too.

I can't really explain why this post is here. It just seems like it ought to be done. Look! My kid performed with the rest of the kindergarten in his school's K-3 concert! My kid? Oh, he's kinda in the middle...second row..about four in from the left. See him? That's my boy!Now that I'm done with that, I'll say that last Thursday we had the relatively painless experience (relative to, say, childbirth) of going to Smunch's concert, which was held at the local junior high school auditorium. There was no parking. The crowd was standing room only. The kids were cute. It was over in an hour. Mam was thrilled.

Another Birthday?

Well, yes. Actually, it was five days ago and I forgot to note its significance. There were no parties, no photos, no celebration at all. How sad. Happy belated birthday, little blog. Who knew you'd make it this far?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

So, the shirt is a size too small and the skirt is probably a size too big. It just doesn't cover it all, but this is the outfit she insisted on. What a little leprechaun she is!

Letterboxing Rocks

You tired of hearing about our letterboxing exploits yet? You know, I wouldn't keep writing about it if we weren't having such a grand time! And this weekend, we had a particularly long and rather cold outing to a really neat place, so it seemed like it deserved mention, even if I left the letterboxing out of it entirely.

Late morning yesterday, I packed the kids in the van for a trip to Castle Rock State Park. Daddy ended up joining us at the last minute, so that was a bonus. I packed a few snacks and extra sweaters for the kids. Good thing too. It was COLD up there! Daddy, naturally, brought no sweater and had to put up with wearing my long, flowing cardigan for much of the trip. I have no pictures. You'll have to envision that for yourself.

The best part of Castle Rock, as you might expect, are the rocks! They're huge and riddled with holes and caves. We probably could have (and maybe should have) spent our entire time climbing around on the rocks and hanging out in little caves.
But it was cold up by the park's namesake rock. We found one letterbox up there with a disappointingly lame stamp that we added to our logbook. And I ran around like an idiot trying to find another one. I never found it. The first part of the clue was to "Find David's Trees". I didn't find them either. We decided to head back to the parking lot and potentially take another trail.

Naturally, we saw "David's Trees" on the way back, right next to the parking lot. Ugh. Turned out to be a pretty easy box to find.

Leaving my flowing sweater and our better judgement behind in the parking lot, we headed down a new trail to find the third and last of the boxes up there. It was much warmer, thankfully. And it was beautiful.
Of course, it turned out to be a monumental hike to the last box. It was fun, but challenging, with a lot of lifting the kids over stuff. We found it and immediately headed back. The kids were getting whiney. Daddy carried one kid on his shoulders much of the time.
As a quick detour on our way back, we went to see the waterfall. It's hardly spectacular compared to say, Yosemite, but it's pretty tall and the view downward is completely dizzying. I had a strong urge to hold onto the kids very tightly. And I took Mam's glasses off for fear they'd go over the edge.
You can't even see the depths of the waterfall in this picture, so you'll have to take my word for it.
From the waterfall, we zoomed back to the parking lot as fast as we could muster. Everyone was tired and everyone had tired legs, although you might've though Mam would never make it judging by all the complaining. She did though. Both the kids did great. And maybe Daddy did best of all, since he ended up carrying the weight of a child much of the time.

I always thought this was the kind of parent I'd be...regularly getting the kids out to learn about nature and get a little exercise. Why did it take me so long to get here? I think this was one of my favorite family days out ever!


No, it's not even spring yet, although the weather here might have you thinking differently. And the fact that daylight savings time and Easter both somehow got put in some preposterously early spot on the calendar. But I assure you. It's still winter. Really.

As if to completely disprove me, the merchants association in our town put on an Easter egg hunt over the weekend. Both Main and State streets (Yes, those are
really the names of our two main street. That's how quaint we are.) were lined with little plastic eggs.

We've been to several types of egg hunts. Our town even has a second one this weekend. Although the kids are very cute. Often dressed up in their little Easter outfits, all of the other egg hunts I've been to have been horror shows, especially for us. My kids are still kinda small, they're not really aggressive or overly competitive. At one hunt we went to last year, I think one of them actually
got an egg. It's sad and it's the most incredible show of greed I've ever seen. There are always instructions to take no more than 3 or 5 eggs. What accounts for all the 8-year-olds with baskets brimming over? I hate it. I'm boycotting from now on.

The hunt downtown is
way more fun. The streets are long enough that you can sort of find a place to hang out until the siren goes at 10am. You only get 5 eggs, if you play by the rules. Mam even voluntarily put one of hers back when she counted at there were six. Those are the kind of kids I have. It makes me happy. But what's even happier is that no kid who's there at the start of the hunt goes away without the maximum number of eggs. There are plenty and even the little kids get their share.
My kids aren't so little anymore, not compared to the first time I took Mam to this hunt.

It's funny to think about other parents feeling intimidated by my sweet little things, but I try to remember what a kindergartener looked like to me when I had a 2-year-old. Life is crazy that way. My kindergartener still looks like a sweet little kid to me. Just two years ago, I might've thought he was Goliath! Fortunately, he's still a least when it comes to littler kids who aren't Mam.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Runaway Peas

During a particularly crabby dinner.

Mam: I can't eat all these peas.

Me: You will, or you won't get any cake and Daddy and I will finish it.

Mam: They keep escaping! (As she throws a pea over her shoulder.)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Princess Party

Have you noticed that I've yakked and yakked around the topic of Mam's party, but not bothered to post anything about the main event? Oh, sorry. You were sleeping already?

For those of you who are still with me here, let's party! Or at least relive Mam's "Dress-Up Princess Party".

For the second time in a month, we were lucky to have a beautiful day. Our plum trees around the front door had burst into fluffy pink blossoms for the occasion.

My logic was that if we did a lunchtime party, I would have to come up with fewer games for 3- and 4-year-olds. Not particularly true, it turns out.

It's something of a tradition for me to be up 'til at least midnight before the kids' birthday parties, hands coated in frosting and food coloring, decorating a cake. Smunch's cake worked out great. I was done by 10:30. Mam's wasn't done until 12:30 and if you've seen the
post about this cake you already understand why. And why I was up even though I'd started work on her cake about a week and a half earlier.

By 10:45 the next morning, Mam was dressed in the princess dress of her choice and was busily posing for photos in front of "the frog."

I had Gram take both kids to the back of the house, so we could capture Mam's reaction to the fantastic birthday cake. Daddy and I brought it in from the garage and arranged it in the dining room.

As if she knew something big was expected of her, when we called Mam out to the dining room, she had a funny smirk on her face. She smiled a tiny little smile, shrugged and declared..."Whatever!" (Hear that tinkling noise? That's my fragile ego breaking into a million sleep-deprived pieces.)

I was putting the final touches on the cake (writing "Happy 4th Birthday") when the first guest princess arrived. I was done not a moment too soon. I still had to run back to the bedroom and change into my own dress-up clothes.

I'd put out strings and beads for making necklaces and princess coloring pages printed from the web. The cake was displayed in the center of the dining room table. There were streamers and balloons (white, pink, lavendar and baby blue).

Sequined tiaras lined the entry hall table. Each of the guests got a tiara and were shown where they could do beads or color. Turned out they needed more direction and help to do any beading, really. A few of them tried. The coloring sheets were more popular.

Once all the princesses had arrived, I started the party with storytime, so that all the princesses would understand the first game and one of their party favors. So, I sat on the sofa, in my regal gown, and read "The Frog Prince" to 10 little kids (including Smunch) who were very attentive to the whole thing. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a version of this story where the princess actually
kisses the frog. In the more authentic version, she throws him against the wall to turn him into a prince. That didn't work so well with my game, Pin-the-Kiss-on-the-Frog.

Daddy drew a super cute frog and printed it out really large. I bought some lipstick-print stickers to create this Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey variation. The girls really enjoyed it. Even those who didn't want to be blindfolded at the beginning were in on it at the end. I gave each one a bracelet as a prize for participating. It made for a cute super-kissed frog at the end!

After the game, we had lunch. I'd made finger sandwiches with white bread without crusts. Sandwich choices were cucumber with cream cheese (least favorite), cheese (Colby jack) and cream cheese with strawberry jam (the favorite). I put out some cheese cubes and Daddy made a killer fruit salad, which at least one guest ate, while insisting that she
doesn't like salad.

When they were done eating, the princesses drifted away, only to be found in various states of undress, having something resembling a pajama party (using princess dresses instead of pajamas) in Mam's room. Several opted for dresses out of Mam's collection rather than the dresses they came in. There was giggling and tickling and general hilarious mayhem. Here's a photo, but I'll need to upload some video if you truly want to appreciate this sight. It was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen.

I rounded up the royal contingent and distributed one small, silky purse (either pink or lavender) to each of them. We talked about what kinds of things princesses have in their purses and I let them loose on the back patio to search for rings, necklaces, bracelets and plastic coins. Smunch, who is a very good hunter, was miffed when I tried to get him to stop taking all the jewelry, but it turned out that all he needed was to feel like he was helping princesses in distress find their belongings. Then he was great. They had a great time and each of them came away with a purse-full of loot.

Naturally, none of this took long enough. There was still almost an hour of the party left when they were done. So, I did what I did with Smunch's party and let the princesses play in the back yard for a while. They had a great time running all over, hiding behind trees, sliding down the slide and swinging in their fancy dresses. As the end of the party neared, I enticed them all to pose for a photo with promises of cake.

You might not be surprised to know that I wasn't overly eager to cut the cake. I mean, I knew I wouldn't get away with presenting the cake, but not letting them eat it, but I wasn't anxious to chop up my masterpiece of a birthday cake. We sang happy birthday, each princess got her choice of white or chocolate cake. They scarfed it down.

Each princess was presented with her own frog and a balloon before she left and just like that, the party was over. And I turned back into a pumpkin...or somethng.