I have a brilliant new marketing plan or at least a good idea for placement of products in major grocery stores. I feel as if gingerbread house and village kits should come with some sort of alcoholic beverage for the adult. It would need to have some a timer on it because goodness knows I had enough trouble assembling those things sober; the cocktail would have come in handy afterwards. I must hand it to the kids that not once did they say anything about how much better Daddy would have done it (although he would have done it much better, I suspect). I made the icing too thick and messed up the icing pouches that came with the kit. Then you actually have to assemble those little suckers! If the walls aren't quite straight then the roofs fall off. Needless to say my village would not pass inspection for quality of construction but once I smeared the icing on the roof of each little building the kids had so much fun! I learned years ago that what looks good to me and what looks good to them are two totally different things. Fun was had by all... Cullen, Carson, cousin Phillip, and Lila. If I had been in possession of a bottle of champagne I would have made mimosas for one. If you drink with four kids present that doesn't count as drinking alone, does it?
I love that two days ago Cullen and Carson both cleared off a shelf for the Harry Potter Lego sets that they hope and wish with all of their hearts to receive for Christmas. I love this because:
1) They actually cleaned something up, which is in itself a cause for celebration 2) They live a life where they feel confident that they will get the basics of what they want 3) They both still believe in Santa. I think one is teetering on the edge of knowing the truth but he still WANTS to believe and both boys will always play the game for Lila.
We don't over-indulge them. My motto is that just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something. We could buy them a four-wheeler for Christmas, for instance, or a new DS game every week but we don't. We could get Happy Meals every day but we don't. I don't want them to live a life where we can't keep up with their demands. These Lego sets are a fraction of what some of their friends will get but Cullen and Carson will be happy to get them. The sets are on backorder but I have inside information from a certain elf that Santa prepared far enough in advance where he doesn't need to worry about a shortage of Harry Potter Lego sets.
Well, we just returned from our first trip with all three kiddos, excluding the easy and comfortable family trips to the beach. This was a trip to Washington DC for seven full days. We had been anticipating it for months but, luckily, Kevin and I knew all along that all would not be perfect. Some parts were very stressful but all-in-all it was worth it and we formed quite a few good memories. Lila's all involved things we could have stayed here and done in Baton Rouge but the DC-parts really hit home with the boys.
A few basics observations and suggestions: 1. If your children are extra sensitive you may want to skip the Holocaust Museum. Cullen was very bothered by it to the point where it may have been more disturbing than educational. It is also not a very good place for two year olds as a little girl running and screaming with delight alongside the displays just doesn't seem right. Even in the lobby said running and screaming girl may cause you to receive some odd looks.
2. Arlington was perhaps the most powerful thing to me. Seeing the graves and the tombstones of some of our biggest leaders and heroes as well as some of the meaningful quotes made an impact.
3. I love the free museums and the fact that they were all near each other. Then you don't feel bad if you need to leave or cut a visit short or even pop over from one to another then back again.
4. Our hotel (The Holiday Inn) was soooo inexpensive and met every one of our needs. There weren't many places to eat nearby but it was a short walk to the mall area and the metro.
5. I personally wouldn't recommend taking the White House tour with a toddler. Cullen and Carson barely made it through the hour and a half wait. We got there at 10:15 for our 10:30 appointment and didn't get in until noon. That was because the 11:00 tour went BEFORE the 10:30 tour. The guards said "That's the way the government works" and while I guess they thought it was funny I found it to be anything but as we tried to hold a toddler back out of the street for an hour and a half. Strollers are not allowed on the White House Tour so she was unrestrained.
6. To estimate food budget for DC here is the formula: create a daily budget then multiply it by two. That is what you will be spending.
7. I think fall is an awesome time for Louisiana natives to go. The fall color was spectacular and another one of my favorite features. It made just walking down an otherwise ordinary sidewalk extraordinary.
8. Make sure there is a bar in your hotel and try to bring a nephew or two that you can bribe to watch the aforementioned toddler since they don't let children at the actual bar in DC either. I did try...
9. Don't over-schedule. I found we were most likely to be stressed when we were rushing to appointments and trying to keep a schedule. It's hard enough keeping a schedule with kids but add in one toddler and one child with mild muscular dystrophy and things go a little slower.
10. We did not bring a single toy for Lila and she did fine without them. She played with cups in the hotel room and turned the TV off and on a lot.
11. Try to get a direct flight. It seems like it would be well worth the extra money.
12. GO to DC! It was a lot of fun and I saw things I had only been reading about since my own childhood. I hope my boys remember something from this trip and that they will enjoy going back again when Lila is old enough to traverse the streets stroller-free!
Today we went to the sweetest little party for my our friends Wade and Cathy's three little girls. They each have October birthdays and they have their party all together at Cathy's parents' house "down the bayou" near Raceland. Lila and the boys all had so much fun with the mobile petting zoo and Cathy's yummy and adorable food and decorations. Not to mention her three sweet little girlies Eme, Cate, and Lily! This was in sharp contrast to our Laser Tag party earlier this weekend with Cullen, which included sweet kids but of the sweatier, boy, variety.
Arrange 12 of the ice cream sandwiches in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Spread 1/2 of the whipped topping on top of the sandwiches. Spoon 1/2 of the hot fudge on top of the whipped topping. Place remaining 12 ice cream sandwiches on top of the fudge, spread on the rest of the whipped topping, then finish the layers with the remaining hot fudge. Cover and place in the freezer for 2 hours to set. Let soften at room temperature briefly before cutting into squares.
I made it, put two ones on top, and voila, we had an easy birthday cake that didn't involve an oven. He and his couple of friends who slept over all loved it.
I am making these pom poms for my classroom. http://www.marthastewart.com/how-to/tissue-paper-pom-poms-how-to#slide_1 Since I don't come up with any unique craft ideas on my own anymore I thought I would share this one!! Cheap and festive; my friend Cathy has them in her little girls' playroom.
"Fishy up High!" is what Lila said upon seeing her fish garlands I made for her decorations for her party. That is why I love doing parties for children; they notice and appreciate every little detail! She loved her party planning, was tolerant of the crowd of doting friends and family at the actual party, and enjoyed playing with her new toys when things quieted down. The cake was done by The Happy Baker in Prairieville. They did a great job making the cake exactly as I had asked them to make it. It was adorable! In addition, I loved her little bubble favors. I like to keep favors simple and this was perfect; who doesn't love bubbles? The bubbles were from Wal-Mart and the labels from an Estsy shop Simplesweetness (http://www.etsy.com/shop/simplysweetness?ref=seller_info). Simple Sweetness got the labels to me right away; I was so pleased with their fast service! Lila loved her fishy party.
If I could I would love to plan birthday parties for a living. Of course then I would need to have 1) someone willing to pay me 2) that same someone would need to be willing for fork out big money for the ideas I have 3) they would need to be patient, since my good ideas don't always turn out the way they are supposed to
Of course, I try to make my ideas come to life on a budget (of sorts). Lila's second birthday party is in two days and the theme is "Little Fishy". I have to be honest: most of my ideas for this party looked way better in my head that they have once they have actually been done. The invitations were cute but not quite what I envisioned. The little goldfish bowls full of blue jello and Swedish fish look like goldfish bowls full of blue jello and some unidentifiable blobs. The mini cups of blue jello and Swedish fish (one for each little guest) look like blue jello with dead fish in it. Kevin thought I was making jello shots at first, which was scary because does he really think I am so far gone as to serve jello shots at a two year old's party? We'll have out the big water slide, a new ball sprinkler I got, and a bubble machine. Most of all, Lila will have fun seeing her friends, family, and decorations and I know the things that look imperfect to me will look great to her. On an end note, here is a link to a cute blog my friend Cathy posted on facebook with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I think it's so cute and would work for any age.
Gone are the days when I wished for a Toys R Us closer to home. If it were closer, that would take away my excuse not to go. We went today after a three year break. The boys were having a sleepover at their cousin's house and it was my brilliant idea to take Lila on her first trip to the toy store. It was to be our special time with her since Kevin took the day off today and could join us for our glorious adventure. Did I mention that she is teething? Did I mention that "teething" means she is getting two molars at once? Oh, did I also mention that she is a week shy of being two? Needless to say everyone but us would know that going to a toy store in such a condition was not a good idea. We did get her two presents for her birthday (one from us, one from my mom and dad). I also found Baby Oragel in the check-out line. The trip ended with Kevin rushing our screaming child out to the truck while I raced to buy the presents, actually longing for the days when I just had to tell Cullen and Carson NO every time they asked for a new Pokemon and they sort of listened instead of this maniacal teething creature we voluntarily brought with us. I did take a moment to congratulate the check-out girl on her attempts to up-sell but that no, I did not care for insurance on the baby doll set or the Little Tikes car (or truck or train, depending on the mood Lila is in). Insurance on TOYS?? What the heck? They should up-sell Valium or margaritas when checking out at Toys R Us. They would make a killing.
The drawers of pencils pens markers scissors forks + spoons survived two boys numerous play-dates nieces nephews and random children but it did not survive Miss Lila RIP easily accessible pens markers scissors forks + spoons you are no longer safe and neither are my floors.
I think it's important to read to keep your brain fresh and to help you think about issues, people, and places that you usually wouldn't think about. I don't feel like people need to read above-level or even at-level books for this to work. Sometimes it's good to just read for enjoyment! The saddest thing to me is that so many students are turned off to reading entirely because they don't like the books they read in school. Summertime is the time to remedy that problem. I read all the books I've always wanted to read during the summer. I carefully chose the books I wanted to add for the English III summer reading list at EAHS. The one I am really excited about is Unwind by Neil Shusterman. It's a thought-provoking book about life after a second Civil War, which was fought over the issue of abortion. The book doesn't take sides in this ongoing debate but instead brings up multiple issues about the sanctity of life as well as the importance of choice and individuality. I also really liked the format and message of Crank by Ellen Hopkins but it was a little too intense for the summer reading list and has more inappropriate scenes. I recommend both for adults and older teenagers. Let me know if there are any books you read that you would like to recommend for my summer reading list!
I think I have figured out why I love (most of) baseball season. I don't actually like baseball as a whole as much as I love everything it signifies. I like that it means spring and summer are on their way. I love that it means the end of school is coming soon. I love the memories of watching my oldest brother play baseball and then later being the batgirl for his team. I love the soft, fine, dirt of the baseball field, the cold of the bleachers on my legs, and even how clean you feel washing off after a summer night at the ball-game. I loved running back and forth to the concession stand. Usually I carried money I found under the bleachers, which had fallen out of various spectators' pockets. Neither of our boys are athletes at heart and both decided not to play baseball this year; I don't miss the hectic schedule and being out too late on school nights but I do miss the nostalgia I feel when I watch a ball game.