Monday, June 30, 2008

Howdy Pardner!

The kids had a great vacation with their cousins.  The last stop Sunday, was a visit to "the town too tough to die" Tombstone, AZ. 

Rowdy bunch of outlaws!

Dressing up at Big Nose Kates an Old Wild West Tavern

Is there a sheriff in this town?

Truly a Historical American Landmark, Tombstone is America's best example of our 1880 western heritage, which is well preserved with original 1880's buildings and artifacts featured in numerous museums.

The kids love to see the horses and carriages, watch gun fights, and most of all shop for souvenirs! It has been a yearly tradition to visit for the past three or four years. A good time was had by all!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Vacation Here We Come...

We are leaving early tomorrow morning to go to Apache Lake. We have rented a pontoon boat for the day with my sister and her family. We are then onto a hotel in Phoenix with a 9 acre water park for the kids. 

As much as I love my computer, I probably won't take it on the lake or to the water park, but I will post some cute pictures of the kids and family after the trip.

My kids will get some quality time with their cousins. We are also traveling over the 4th of July to Southern California to see more cousins, grandparents, and family. After these two trips it will be back to the grind for everyone as school starts on July 14th!

I am busy packing for the trip. 

I am trying to avoid the car looking like this:    

Not an easy task with four kids in tow! 

“A vacation frequently means that the family goes away for a rest, accompanied by a mother who sees that the others get it.”
-Marcelene Cox

“Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip.”
-Unknown Author

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I heard it on T.V.

A couple of weeks ago all of my kids were having tummy trouble.

In the midst of everyone being sick, my older son Lil' Expert said "Mom, I think I'm lactose intolerant."

I said, "Where did you here that?"

He said, "I heard it on T.V. and when I ate a piece of cheese it went right through me!"

In a day or so he was fine, no more lactose intolerance. I thought it was so funny my seven year old was now self diagnosing based on what he saw on a T.V. commercial. The amazing thing was he remembered the word and used it mostly in the right context.

It is incredible what kids pick up, and a good reminder to be aware of the influences all around them. They really are little sponges.

For some more cute kid stories go here.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Life's a Balancing Act

Do you ever feel like this guy?  
Sometimes I do.

This week my writing class starts again on Wednesday evening. I have been taking classes through the Writers Studio out of New York. There is a  small satellite school here in Tucson. It is a great program, and unlike an MFA program it is manageable with four kids. The founder Phillip Schultz just won the Pulitzer Prize this Spring for his book of poetry Failure.   

We have had a month break from classes and I haven't done as much writing as I would have liked. The discipline to write at night after the kids are in bed continues to be a struggle, but I've done okay this week and have worked on my stories two different nights.

My sister and her family are coming to visit on Thursday. We are going to California over the Fourth of July, and the new school year starts for the kids July 14th. We have been reorganizing the house. New carpet, changing the play room into a guest room, reorganizing the kids bedrooms, and revamping our master bedroom.

Life truly is a balancing act...

Here are some things that help me along the way: 
  • Coffee. I don't know how I managed all these years without it when I was pregnant or nursing, but now I am happily dependent on it again. It helps a lot. I love coffee!
  • My husband bought me this new writing program called Scrivener and it manages all my projects, outlines, and ideas. It is fantastic and reasonably priced too! 
  • I know that this time with my little children is going by so fast. I'm  trying to embrace and celebrate the time with them now. 
  • Keeping organized. When the house is chaotic and I'm searching for things all the time it is much more overwhelming to get things accomplished.
  • Trust God. Pray. Meditate. These things help me to regroup and recharge. 
I am working on three short stories right now. My goal is to get them complete and ready to send out to literary journals and magazines during this next ten week class. For my fortieth birthday year, I want to get a short story published. I have four months to go. The writing itself is fulfilling and the publishing part is secondary, but I am more motivated if I have a goal in front of me. I am entering a couple of literary contests for new writers and I have some other publications in mind. 

Here is an excerpt from one of my works in progress:

Watering Holes

The ugly shack behind the house is where you’ll find the Fishing Grandpa. He sits in his weathered, tin workshop among scattered tools, loaded firearms, cheap vodka, and gallons of apple juice in glass jugs.

Up before sunrise, he looks through the makeshift doors, towards his neighbor’s tree farm.  Grandpa watches the Red fir, Norway spruce, and Sequoia marching along in the wind. Their conical shapes, shiny dark branches, and bluish green needles with silver tips shine in the morning air. The fresh, woodsy fragrances mingle with the smoke from his open fire.

Spitting his tobacco in the early morning light, he readies the poles. A simple set up for his granddaughter, just the rod and line. His hands shake a little, and he drinks to steady them. 

No longer able to stay inside, his granddaughter Tessie runs for the shack. Still early, she warms her hands by the fire. She fidgets and squirms ready for her first worm.

“Grandpa’s making moonshine, don’t tell your mom,” he says.

“Moonshine, Moonshine, Moonshine,” she sings.

“Grandpa, will we catch a rainbow fish today?”

She remembers their best day ever, last summer when she caught a fish on the American River.  Grandpa had gone to the ice chest. The line started pulling and bobbing, the pole rising and falling toward the river. 

“I got a bite.  I got a bite,” she called.

She reeled it in. Grandpa came to the edge of the black river, and his big, rough hands moved over the fish. 

“Look at these colors, a rainbow trout. This means you’re a lucky girl,” he said.

Today they hike through a stream from watering hole to watering hole, over here to a point and now to a weedy area with some inside and outside curves.  They stop in an inlet where the creek flows into the lake. He relies on the elements to catch fish, his creel brimming with bass and trout.

Noble fir and Scotch pine line the moving water. He points out the strong, wide-spaced branches protecting the smaller orange and red bark of the Manzanita and the cream-white Elderberry trees. As they walk, he notices the native grasses waving gracefully in the cool breeze and watches the animals take cover, scattered throughout the openings between the islands of woody shrubs. She is ahead collecting stones along the shallow river. He pauses, raising his bottle before the next fishing hole… 

I keep trying to stick to this mantra, writer's write!

I'm not 40, I'm eighteen with 22 years experience. ~ Author Unknown  

Life begins at forty. ~ W.B. Pitkin

We don't understand life any better at forty than at twenty, but we know it and admit it. ~ Jules Renard

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mama's New Furniture

For nearly 10 years, we have been using our $99 Ikea dressers and a mattress just on the rails. Our bedroom has always been the least decorated room in the house. The kids are getting older and last weekend we finally moved the baby's crib out of our room. We decided to splurge and buy new bedroom furniture for ourselves.

I am so excited. It looks like someone else's bedroom. I love it. Here are some pictures of our new bedroom:

Last night, my husband was so comfortable on the new mattress that he snored louder than he has in a long time.  I kept waking him up to turn over so I could get a little sleep!

We still have to add some photos and a few homey touches, but it is fun to see our room transformed!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Here comes Peter Cottontail...

Cottontail Rabbit 
Eating Creosote bushes
Living in our yard

Kids call you Whitetail
Watch you play through the window
Hop, hopping along.

We have a resident cottontail, just a baby, living in our front yard. The kids and the dogs have been watching the little rabbit through the window for a few weeks. 

The cottontail comes right up to the front window to nibble on flowers. My kids are always checking to see if Whitetail is around throughout the day.  They call him our pet. This is the kind of pet I like, considering we have many high maintenance pets already!

Beatrix Potter wrote the story of Peter Rabbit as a letter to a four year old boy Noel Moore in 1893. Like Whitetail, Peter goes into a garden to help himself to a snack. He gets himself into big trouble. My kids have been enjoying the story since we have our own little mischievous bunny in the yard. The story is timeless, and is just as appealing to children today. Go here

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends, they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.  ~Charles W. Eliot

Regardless of other activities, the best predictor of summer loss or summer gain is whether or not a child reads during the summer!

Haiku Friday! View more poems here and here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Can't a guy get a little shut-eye around here?

"Come on, please? I wanna play! I wanna play!"

"Hey, don't bother me pal!"

"This is really comfortable... I'm feeling a little sleepy myself."

"If you can't beat them, join them!"

Photos courtesy of my husband Big Expert!

The stars of Wordless Wednesday: Scout and BearBear! 

It's Wordless Wednesday here and over a 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How to clean with four children in tow...

There are four at home for the summer, seven and under.

While I'm cleaning one mess, they are usually creating another. 

Today, I decided to clean the master bathroom... to really, really clean it. I left the kids and dogs in the front room watching cartoons while I broke out the hard chemicals.

Later, I was chatting on the phone with a friend and she said, "I don't know how you can deep clean the bathroom like that with all your kids home. My kids at that age would have been all over me." 

Well, they actually did come in the bathroom a time, or two, or three...  

I was in the bathtub barefoot with the tub full of Soft Scrub and Method brand bathroom cleaner. My baby Lil' Red tried to climb right in the tub with me and all the cleaners. 

I was cleaning the mirrors with glass cleaner that smelled so minty fresh, and suddenly the paper towels disappeared. I found them. The entire roll was unrolled down the hallway, no child in sight.

The last task of cleaning the bathroom was to mop the floor. Every single one of my children, four to be exact, walked in during the mopping and left footprints to be mopped over again.

One would think that with all the interruptions, they could not be making any other messes in the rest of the house, but...

When I came out to check on them, Brown-eyed Gal, my three year old had sprinkled pepper around the kitchen. 

Our beagle puppy, Scout had shredded a sponge and a roll of toilet paper all over the living room. 

Lil' Expert, my seven year old had pulled a chair up and helped himself to quite a bit of candy on top of the refrigerator. 

Last but not least, Storytellin' Boy, my five year old had started his own cooking project. First, he cracked several eggs that he mixed with some hawaiian rolls and some crumbled parts of a cheese stick to make his own "Health Units" as he called them. 

"Mom, they are really healthy and delicious. Don't you want to try one. They have to harden up in the refrigerator to be done. But then they will taste so good. Don't you want to eat one of my health units?"  

My master bathroom is really, really clean. And as a bonus my son has made lunch.

Here's a couple of original pictures of the bathroom when we moved in back in 2005. This is how it looked after today's cleaning!

By the way, I love and am addicted to
Method Cleaning Products. They are environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and they smell so good. These products keep me cleaning. And as you can tell by my motley crew, the cleaning is not going to be ending any time soon.

Here's to summer cleaning projects!!!

*5 Minutes for mom is hosting Tackle it Tuesday to bring housecleaning to the blogosphere. Read more housecleaning projects!

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Lil' Expert asked me if he could hold Daddy's alarm clock in his lap while he was watching a movie the other day. He said he wanted to keep track of the time and hours so he would know when Daddy was coming home from work. The closer it gets to 4:30 or 5:00 each day, the more excited he gets. He knows Daddy will play Wii games, chess, computer games, and take him swimming. He likes Daddy to tuck him in best.  

Storytellin' Boy spends a lot of his day thinking about things his Daddy would like. He draws him pictures, packs him lunches and writes him letters while he is gone at work. He also pretends that he has to go to work too! He will talk about his job and his boss and show us his drawings and say, "these are my work papers." He loves telling secret stories with Dad right before bed.

Brown-Eyed Gal likes to play with her stuffed animals with Daddy. She laughs when he acts out the animal sounds. She likes to go in the pool and spa with Dad.  At night she says, "My daddy loves me." She loves to have stories read out loud from Dad.     

Lil' Red loves to play peek-a-boo with Dad and giggles at his crazy antics. When he first walks in the door, she runs to him and wants to be picked up right away. She likes to climb up on his lap when he is working at the computer and try to push all the buttons.

Thanks for being such a good dad and connecting with each of the kids in their own special way. We appreciate what a great father you are, and we love you very much!

"It is a wise father that knows his own child"  
-William Shakespeare

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Funny Sleepyheads!

We played hard today
Crashed on Mom and Daddy's bed
Too much fun and sun

I don't need much room
Feet are dangling off the bed
Rest by my brother

Both of us so tired
Brother can you spare some room
Sleeping on the edge!

It's haiku Friday!  More Haiku's can be found at A Mommy's Story and Playgroups are No Place for Children.

Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thirteen Things about Storytellin' Mama
#1 Edition

Summer Reading is upon us.  
Here are thirteen Stephanie 
Plum novels by Janet Evanovich 
So irresistible, light, and funny! 

1. One  for the Money
2. Two for the Dough
3. Three to get Deadly
4. four to Score
5. High Five
6. Hot Six
7. Seven Up
8. Hard Eight
9. To the Nines
10. Ten Big Ones
11. Eleven on Top
12. Twelve Sharp
13. Lean Mean Thirteen

* Book #14 Fearless Fourteen is coming
   out in five days, June 17, 2008.  Janet
   Evanovich Books are perfect for lounging
   by the pool, the beach, or just escaping into
   a funny and zany world.  

or Here!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Helping Kids Simplify...

It seems during the school year we rev up with accumulating things. School papers, toys from Christmas, birthdays, fast food, and way too many clothes. It is hard to avoid so much stuff with four kids and a busy family.  

School's out, and we all need a break. For once, I did not over plan the summer with an over abundance of camps and activities. We have just been together, swimming, eating, playing, and being.

I recently read a post from My Cup 2 Yours about simplifying:

"Simplifying. It’s good for the schedule. It’s good for the house. It’s good for the soul. I love it when things are simple and organized. Like when that “catch-all drawer” in the kitchen is clean, with the paperclips in the paperclip box, the pens in the pen container, and the sunglasses, plastic robot, and Barbie crown where they’re supposed to be and NOT in the drawer. It makes finding things easier. Simpler."

We have a couple of projects going on- replacing carpet, changing the play room into a guest room, and moving the playroom toys into the children's bedrooms. I decided to involve my children in the process.

I had heard a tip from another friend. Anytime, she needs to reduce the toy load she lets her children help decide which toys to give away. She talks to them about how blessed they are to have so many nice toys, and how many children are less fortunate. She gives the control over to them, and then they are less likely to have trouble parting with the older toys.

This morning I tried it. I gave each of the older boys a medium size box. We talked about other boys and girls in the World needing toys, and I told them to fill the boxes with whatever toys they wanted to give away. 

They were so enthusiastic about the task. They worked together and spent about two hours going through toys and filling up their boxes. I heard them in the playroom saying, "I don't need this anymore" or "I don't play with this."  In the past, when I talked about selling toys at garage sales, or taking toys to the goodwill they would get so upset. 

Lil' Expert, my seven year old said, "Mom, I put one of my neopets in the box." These are his most favorite stuffed animals.

We have a local church that takes clothes, toys, and food monthly to the children that live in the dumps near the Nogales/Mexican border. I showed the boys some photos on the internet of some other children of the dump  from Puerto Vallarto. We decided to donate our things to our local church for the upcoming trip.  

Lil' Expert after looking at the pictures said, "They'll have fun with our toys at the dump. Mom, do you think we should send them a penny or two in the box, or at least a dollar." 

Storytellin' Boy went and got his piggy bank. He asked me to open it. He wanted to give "seven dollars to the children living at the dump." 

Today, I have been reminded of the giving nature (with a little prompting, of course) of my children!!! 

"Teaching children to count is not as important as teaching them what counts"
-Arlene Greco, Christian author

Today is Works for me Wednesday over at Rocks in my Dryer. Check out other WFMW tips! 


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

She's gone Cat Crazy

Brown-eyed Gal has gone totally bonkers for cats. She doesn't really play with any of her toys, except those somehow related to cats. She has a giant pink cat pillow, two or three cat stuffed animals, a puzzle piece with a cat on it, a couple of cat storybooks, and a tiny little plastic cat that goes to a dollhouse. These are her cat treasures.

She plays with them all around the house. I see her tucking them into beds and feeding them with toy baby bottles.  She plays with the kitties in various corners. The corner of the office where she is hidden away from view behind a recliner, or in the corner of my bedroom behind the rocking chair. I hear her meowing and see her crawling around on all fours. She makes cat families. Sometimes she searches around for the mommy cat, or the daddy cat, or the baby cat. 

"Mommy, I hear my kiddy. Meow, meow. he's calling to me."

Today she got a new stuffed animal cat in the mail from her grandmother. She laughed and meowed at the new toy. She told her brother, "Look at my new pet." She told me, "Mommy my kiddy is so soft and so cute." She played with this new kitty for hours today, and tonight the new kitty is in the place of honor sleeping in her arms.

The funny thing is we had cats for several years. Murphy and Elephant were our two mischievous cats. The older kids loved the real cats and Brown-eyed Gal loved them when she was a toddler.  

Storytellin' Boy, our five year old started having terrible allergy attacks. We found out it was from the cats. We waited for several months, and tried different things, but his allergies did not improve. In the end, the cats had to go.

So now, we've added some new "pet" cats into the fold. The good news is these "kiddys" don't have their cat litter changed, they don't claw the furniture, and they don't eat much. They do provide Brown-eyed Gal with hours of companionship. They are quiet and well-mannered. Our two rowdy dogs could take some lessons. The best behaved pets we've ever had!  


Tuesday is Silly Monkey Story day! To view more stories about the funny and delightful things children do... go to 3 Garnets and two Sapphires.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Finnish Mac and Cheese... the Ultimate Comfort Food

The first weekend we moved to the Sonoran Desert, I met my friend Paive who had relocated here from Finland. She has two boys around the same ages as mine, and we spent time together with the kids frequently.  She has since moved away, but one of the things she left us with is a delicious recipe for the ultimate comfort food.

My friend says this dish is close to being the national dish of Finland! It is called "Lihamakaronilaatikko." 

Can you pronounce that?  We'll just go with Finnish Mac and Cheese! 

It is a kid's favorite and since she prepared it for us, my children cannot get enough. It's full of wholesome, basic, comfort food ingredients: eggs, milk, cheese, tomatoes, ground beef, macaroni, salt and pepper, and ketchup on top!

Well, since the Storytellin' Family spent most of the weekend ill with the flu, we are all ready for something soothing and not too hard on the system.  

I am still feeling a little under the weather, so rather than write out the recipe and steps myself... 

Here is a beautiful site, I found that shows step by step instructions and pictures of Finnish Macaroni and Cheese.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Musical Beds, Throwing Up and Sleep Deprivation...

Saturday, I started out the night sleeping in the guest bed (futon) in the spare room with Storytellin' Boy. He has a fever and has thrown up four times since about 9:00 pm. 

As I'm working with the little sick boy, I hear the baby crying. She is just getting over the "throw ups" herself and was sick the previous two nights. She is now sleeping in a pack-n-play right next to our king size bed. A few days ago, one of the doors on her crib failed and fell completely off.  She is the fourth one to use the crib, and I think it just wore out from all the years of use. 

Anyway, I wait because my husband is in the bed right next to the little port-a-crib. The baby continues to cry. Storytellin' Boy is settled for a minute, so I go and check on the baby. My husband is snoring inches away and is not bothered by the crying baby, or the throwing up going on in the next room.  I pat the baby back to sleep.

I go back to bed with Storytellin' Boy. I fall into a deep, exhausted sleep. I wake up startled and hear a gagging sound. Brown-eyed Gal has just thrown up red Hawaiian punch all over her bed. My husband actually wakes up and helps me clean up the mess. I move Brown-eyed Gal into the futon bed with her sick brother. I load the bed up with towels and bowls. I make a bed on the floor with a sleeping bag near both of them.    

I have been up six times now since I first went to bed. I'm sure it's the middle of the night, maybe 2:00 am. I look at the clock before hitting the comfortable bed bag on the floor. It's only 11:53 pm. I hear the baby crying again. Pat, pat, pat and she's back to sleep. 

I'm feeling a little queasy. Something tells me, it's going to be a long night...  

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Crickets in the Kitchen

We are having a home invasion of crickets. During the day, they are quiet, but every night is a raucous cricket symphony. They especially love the kitchen. The crickets remind me of summer breezes and cool evening walks, except I can sit right here in my office and experience a full range of cricket harmonies. There are no "Quiet Cricket" relatives living in this house! They have all found their wings.

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle is one of my children's favorite books. The story is as follows:

One warm day a little cricket is born. He is welcomed by a very big cricket who is trying to teach the little cricket to say hello. The little cricket tries to rub his wings together, but nothing happens, not one little sound.

He is greeted throughout the day by various other insects. A locust whizzes by, then a praying mantis. But even though the little cricket tries to answer them, he can never make a sound. Next he comes upon a worm, a spittlebug and a cicada. Each of them greets the tiny little cricket. The little cricket really wants to say hello, but he just can't get the sound to come out. He is not discouraged. The little cricket keeps practicing all day long to say hello to each different insect that he meets.

The little cricket is enjoying the silence that the night brings when a luna moth sails quietly by. Then he sees another cricket, who is also a very quiet little cricket just like him. This time all of his practice pays off. When he rubs his wings together, he begins to chirp! It is the most beautiful sound the other little cricket had ever heard.

Eric Carle has illustrated the insects to be very realistic looking. At the end of the book, there is a mechanism that makes the cricket chirp. It sounds exactly like an actual cricket.

This is a beautiful book and a great summer read for preschool age children, or you could always just stop by my house and enjoy a noisy summer cricket serenade!

Friday, June 6, 2008

A Tale of Two Coaches

I play basketball.
I won most improved player.
I earned a medal.

Mom says a slam dunk.
I am getting stronger now.
I dribble and shoot!

Lil' Expert has just finished his first season of basketball. At the beginning of the season, he had trouble dribbling and was unable to hit the basket with the ball. He was afraid of the ball. If he got the ball in a game, he would immediately pass it to another player as fast as he could.

Fast forward to Saturday's pizza party after the last game. The coach had all the kids gathered together to give out medals and pictures.  He announced he had a special award for one player. Lil' Expert got the award for being the most improved player on the team.  The prize was 550 tickets to redeem for prizes at the pizza place's prize counter. He was so proud and excited about the prize tickets. Of course, being his Asperger's collecting self he spent the tickets mostly on prizes ranging from 5 to 15 tickets instead of any large ticket items.  This meant a long time deliberating at the prize counter, and a large bag of prizes!

Lil' Expert's coach was fabulous. He pushed and challenged him, but he was also fast with encouragement and hugs after the game. As I have mentioned before, Lil' Expert can have social problems. There were times when my son got into trouble and had to run laps. I wanted to step in and protect him. I wanted to explain it was his disability and intervene.  I kept my mouth shut, and Lil' Expert rose to the occasion. This has been the most successful sports experience he's ever had.  

My other son, Storytellin' Boy also played basketball. Well, he started to play until we pulled him from the team after the first game. His coach took the game very seriously, even though it was a bunch of five year olds running willy nilly around the basketball court. The league did not even keep score during these games. 

Storytellin' Boy has his head in the clouds most of the time, and basketball was no different. During his one and only game, he did not really follow the action and was often in the wrong place at the wrong time. My goal would be for him to learn to be on a team, learn the fundamentals of basketball, and have a positive experience during the practices and games. Hopefully, he would learn to run in the right direction when his team had the ball by the end of the season.

His coach had other plans. She spent most of the game yelling his name, and occasionally would yank his shirt in the direction she wanted him to go. I don't mind a little redirection, believe me he needs it, but this coach really screamed at him. She screamed at other kids on the team as well. He did not respond to this, and seemed paralyzed like a deer in headlights. After the game another parent on the team approached me and said, "I didn't like the way the coach was yelling at your kid during the game."

I talked to the coach in a very diplomatic way, but she was very defensive. I don't think she understood my perspective and I probably didn't understand hers. During the game, she yelled at her own daughter (also a five year old), "Your playing like a girl." It's a coed team and her daughter is a girl! 

In many circumstances, I believe in sticking it out. I know my kids will eventually have to learn to tolerate difficult people. In this instance, I really felt the negativity outweighed the positives.  My son is five. I hope that playing sports will build his confidence and self-esteem. We decided quitting the basketball team would be best for Storytellin' Boy. 

Two different teams, two different coaches, and two totally different experiences. I am sure there will be many more sports and coaches to contend with in the years to come.

It's Haiku Friday! More poems at A mommy's place and Playgroups are No Place for Children   

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Where's the Fairy Dust?

Lil' Expert lost another bottom tooth yesterday. He loves losing teeth, but he loves the tooth fairy even more. It happened in the morning and all day he planned for the tooth fairy visit. He schemed about what the tooth fairy might leave him. His guesses ranged from a quarter all the way to a Wii gaming system. 

"Mom, it's a pretty good looking tooth, don't you think," he said.

When he lost his first tooth about a year ago, we started a new tradition around the tooth fairy visit. I had heard the idea of sprinkling glitter around the child's pillow and on the window sill in their room. This "fairy dust" is left behind by the tooth fairy as proof of her visit. I use a multicolored glitter for my fairy dust, and it looks sparkly and fairyish when sprinkled around.

This morning my son woke up, and was quite pleased with the tooth fairy's visit.  He jumped around, showing me the fairy dust and the money the tooth fairy had left. 

His brother Storytellin' boy has yet to lose a tooth, but is greatly anticipating the event. He came into the bedroom. Right away, he wanted to know, "Where's the fairy dust?"

Lil' Expert and Storytellin' Boy spent quite a few minutes examining the pillow, the bed, and the window. It is amazing to see the wonder of these little boys.  I know it won't be long before they are too old for the tooth fairy and other magical beliefs.

I will relish the time now, while they are still asking, "Where's the fairy dust?"   

Monday, June 2, 2008

Southwestern Salsa Extraordinaire

Tomorrow, the kids and I are going on a picnic. I am bringing my current summer signature dish. 

I had this salsa a few months ago at a neighborhood party. The host was kind enough to give me the recipe.  It is so colorful, so delicious, and so easy to make. The bonus is the kids even like it. I adjust the seasoning on part of the batch so it is not so spicy.  

The salsa is fresh, low calorie, and great for hot weather because there is no cooking involved.  It has been a crowd favorite everywhere I've taken it. 

Southwestern Salsa

1 can white corn drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno finely chopped
1 can black beans drained and rinsed
1 container red cherub tomatoes halved
1 red or green bell pepper chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1/2 cup fresh green onion
1/2 cup fresh red onion
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3 or 4 shakes of hot sauce
cilantro garnish sprinkled on top

Mix ingredients together and marinate over night, or for several hours.  I make a double, or triple batch to have it all week long. It's a great topping over chicken, vegetable dip, and yummy with chips.  

Happy Summer cooking!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Night Swimming

My husband has been away on a trip. It's been tough having all four children around the clock. Last night, the baby was already asleep. I was relishing the thought of the other three sleeping soon. I had plans to work on my writing and watch a movie.  

My son said, "Mom, can we go night swimming? Please, please mom?"

It was a beautiful, clear night, and I thought why not. I'm so glad we did because I really enjoyed watching and interacting with the older three.

As I sat in the spa with Brown-eyed Gal, she said "Mommy, de stars are budiful." 

They were beautiful. We turned off the spa and pool lights. The stars were bright and easy to see. We looked at the North Star and the Big Dipper.

The boys decided to play  "monster." They jumped off the rocks into the dark pool, and I made monster sounds as they swam around in the dark. They laughed and scared themselves silly. When they couldn't take it anymore they would yell, "Mommy, mommy turn on the lights."  We played this over and over until they were relaxed and ready for bed! 

R.E.M. describes it well in their popular song Night Swimming:

Night swimming deserves a quiet night.
The moon is low tonight.
Night swimming remembering the night...

One of my favorite R.E.M. songs. 

Some of the best times with my kids are spontaneous, when I let go of the routine for a moment. Night swimming, awesome!