Friday, August 22, 2014

Five on Friday: Portraits of Summer

This week - a (relatively) wordless Five on Friday. Enjoy five "Portraits of Summer" from my camera lens this year.

Okay, so there's six.

(I had a lot of trouble choosing so few. I could have made this Fifty on Friday...)

Five okay, Six Portraits of Summer:

 #6 -
 Cow on the Range, Meeteetse, WY

#5 -
 Bald Eagle, Buffalo Bill State Park, Cody, WY

#4 -
 Bluebells, Beartooth Lake, Shoshone National Forest, WY

#3 -
Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, WY

#2 -
 Gray Jay, West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, WY

#1 -
Sunset at Wardel Reservoir, Basin, WY

Monday, August 18, 2014

Just When You Think You've Got It Together...

a.k.a. The Bologna Castle Incident

One week, recently, I went grocery shopping.

I have a simple philosophy when it comes to groceries – the less often I shop, the less money I spend. I make a menu plan for the next seven to ten days, check my pantry, then make my grocery list. Then I go shopping once. Sometimes, I forget things. Like toothpaste, or laundry soap. And then I have to go back before the week is up. But generally, it works pretty well. Or at least... it did.

And then we had kids.

And now... going grocery shopping once a week, with three kids in tow, is like running a marathon. (Well, that's my best guess for a comparison. I've never run a marathon though. No plans to, either. Not a runner.) Anyway, I'm always exhausted by the end of it. And the kids are usually totally over it by the time we get done get halfway through our list enter the doors of the store. Sometimes I go by myself at night after the kids are in bed! It's like a vacation! (Well, that's my best guess for a comparison. I don't really get vacations though...)

Anyway, back to the week in question. On this particular day, we were expecting company. They were due to arrive in the evening, somewhere around suppertime, and we needed some groceries and sundry items. It couldn't wait until after they arrived, and I hadn't planned ahead, so that left me with no choice other than to go shopping in the middle of the day with my kiddos. Not really my favorite thing to do, but hey... I do it all the time, so no big deal, right?

Well, we got through the non-grocery sections pretty quickly and painlessly, then moved on to the grocery aisles. We got our milk, yogurt and cheese. Then we stood in front of the lunch meat. And as I decided whether we wanted turkey or ham (we got both), Mountain Girl made a monumental discovery.

Bologna packages STACK in a fashion quite similar to blocks.

“Look, mom! I'm making a castle!”

Me: “Wow, honey, that's great.” (She had about three packs stacked up at this point.) “Okay, kids, let's go.”

One thing that preschoolers struggle with is... listening. I guess adults struggle with that sometimes, too. If it's fun, and I only do it for one more minute, then I don't have to come exactly when someone calls me, right?

I begin walking away from the deli case. And at that time, Biker Dude sees what Mountain Girl is doing and since it looks like more fun than following mom around the grocery store (I can't imagine why), he starts stacking bologna too.

The more steps I took away from the deli case, and the more often I called them to follow me, the faster and more haphazardly the bologna packages were stacked! They were making the most of their time, that's for sure.

Finally, upon threat of jail time the loss of their afternoon snack, they come running over to me. YES.

Then, I look beyond their happily mischievous little faces to the deli case. NOOO...

It looks like... like... well, I can't even think of a suitable comparison. (Tsunami? Earthquake? Hurricane? Landfill?) Anyway, it's bad. There are bologna packages everywhere. (Not on the floor, thank goodness, but strewn everywhere through the deli case.)

“Okay, turn around,” I say. “You guys are going back over there and cleaning up the mess you made. We have to put all the bologna back where it belongs. Somebody worked hard to set that out, and you guys trashed it!”

We go. We fix the bologna. I can't figure out where the Beef Cotto Salami is supposed to go (what is that, anyway?), but we do the best we can. Then we go to find potato chips for daddy's lunches.

And then IT happens. A nice young lady stops me and says, “You're a good mom. I saw what you did there, and I was impressed.” I was a little embarrassed, to be honest. I didn't realize anyone was paying attention. I said “oh... thank you”, then moved on.

And then I thought to myself... “Yes, I think that was a pretty good mom-moment. Making my kids take responsibility for their behavior. I can do this mom-thing.” And I walked down the aisle feeling a little happy with myself. A little pat on the back. Yes, it is nice to be recognized sometimes for things that we do as moms that are generally pretty unremarkable.

BUT, just when you think you've got it together, life happens.

Life, in this case, refers to the full-scale mutiny which my (lovely) children unleashed on me in the next aisle.

I'm sure there was a whispered conversation between them. “Psst, MG, mom thinks she's got a handle on us here.” “No way! What do we do about it?” “Oh, it's on now! Just follow my lead...”
(P.S. - This is all in fun. I love my kids. I know they're not actually out to get me – well, most of the time anyway. :) )

They ran up and down the aisles! They darted in front of other patrons and their shopping carts! They didn't come when I called! They said things like, “let's play tag!” and “let's play hide-and-seek!” to each other! They shouted! They (well, mostly Mountain Girl) screamed!

I tried to get a handle on it. I picked up Mountain Girl and put her in the cart. She cried. Loudly.

(Sometimes people, the lady in the store with the crazy kids that you look upon judgmentally (and yes, I've been guilty doing that myself)... sometimes, she's doing the best she can. Maybe show her a little grace...)

They weren't done yet!

I put MG back down after she “pom-missed” to behave herself.

And they danced! And they played ring around the rosie! And they fell on the floor! And crawled on the floor! (Which is just gross, by the way.)

PJ called. He was on his way home from work. He was going past the store. I said, “rescue me!”

A few minutes later, my knight in shining armor husband in dirty work clothes came riding walking through the door on a white horse in boots. Reinforcements had arrived! I breathed a deep sigh of relief.

Kids. Sometimes they make you proud. Sometimes they keep you humble. Sometimes they make you laugh. Sometimes they make you cry. Sometimes you find yourself celebrating your apparently awesome skills in parenting. And sometimes you wonder where on earth they came from and who taught them how to behave.

At times like this, when our kids make us feel like a complete disaster, I keep telling PJ that consistency is the key (even though sometimes I feel like it's not working at all). I have to believe that as long as we keep on reinforcing the same concepts – eventually something is going to stick in their little minds. And later, when we can't be there beside them, they'll hopefully have learned enough from us to make the right choices.

Next time they stage a mutiny in the grocery store and I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle... I'm gonna try and remember that. And in a few years, when we're facing much different challenges, I'm maybe even gonna wish for a deli case bologna castle.


We'll see.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."
 -Proverbs 22: 6 (KJV)

"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him."
-Psalm 127: 3 (NLT)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Five on Friday: Five Things that Confuse Me

It's Friday again! I'm confused about where this whole week went. I had a pretty busy week, but now that it's Friday night and I'm looking back on things... I'm not really sure what all I accomplished this week.


Well, in honor of my confusion, here are -

Five (more) Things that Confuse Me:

#5 - Kids. Ha! I love my kids, and most of the time they make sense (or if not, at least I can usually figure out their line of reasoning, even if it's not the way I would think). But sometimes... sometimes, there's just no figuring them out. Hmm. You know... sometimes... adults can be pretty confusing too... Maybe I should rewrite this point...

#4 - This list is confusing me right now. Yeah... I completely just forgot what I was going to write for #4, and I've tried and I totally cannot remember what it was...

#3 - Our "good" old dog. Yes, Superlab is really confusing me right now. This dog... she's almost eight years old now. She's always been so good, and trustworthy. I mean, I could leave a plate of food on the floor and leave the house for a while, and when I came back she would not have touched it. But lately if we leave anything on the kitchen table and walk out of the room, she gets up on the table and eats it! My poor table has the scratch marks to prove it! (The other day, she ate half a stick of butter off the table. Gross.) She'll also dig in the trash can if we leave lid open and rip open trash bags if she gets a chance. Why, Superlab, why? Why are you being so... weird?!?

#2 - Cake without frosting! Sometimes, I read a recipe that says something like, "this cake is so rich it doesn't even need frosting". Yeah, right. That's absurd. A cake is not a cake without frosting. A cake without frosting is basically just... bread (sort of).

#1 - And finally, I think it would be very confusing to live too close to the "line" where the time zone changes. How does that work? You leave your house at 2:00pm to pick up some groceries. You drive for thirty minutes. When you get to the grocery store, it's 1:30pm - or 3:30pm, depending whether you're traveling east or west. (Poof! Time travel!) But it's 2:30 at your house, so if you have an appointment at your house at 4:00 you'd have to remember to do the math so you got there at the right time...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Five on Friday: Ice Cream!

We just wrapped up a week of VBS (Vacation Bible School) at our church. It was a lot of fun! I think all the kids really enjoyed it.

It was also a lot of work, and...

I'm tired.

So, this week, something simple is on the menu for Five on Friday. Something I don't have to think too much about.

Here are:

My Five Favorite Flavors of Ice Cream!

#5 - Vanilla. It's classic and wonderful on its own, but the best thing about vanilla is that it is a blank slate... an empty canvas upon which the artist (that's you!) can paint delicious shades of caramel, chocolate, strawberries, whipped cream, sprinkles - pretty much any topping you can think of goes great with vanilla.

#4 - Peach. But not just any peach ice cream! It's got to be my Grandma G's homemade peach ice cream - so incredible! However, that can be hard to come by, so any peach that tastes like real peaches and not something artificial will do in a pinch.

#3 - Peppermint. The kind they only stock at Christmas. (Which is one of the biggest disappointments ever. I think they should sell it year-round.)

#2 - Chocolate. Just because... it's. chocolate.

#1 - Coffee. Yup. That's my absolute favorite.

I love ice cream! Who doesn't? List your favorite flavor...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Seven on Saturday: Things I Like About Pennsylvania

 Oops. I forgot to post my Five on Friday this week... To make it up to you I'm giving you not just one, but TWO extra points! Yes, you heard right. It's Seven on Saturday! lol

This week was pretty unusual. We have dubbed it "Pennsylvania Week" here in Wyoming. Three different families that we knew from our time in PA came through town on their vacations, and we were able to meet up with each of them. It was really great to see them all and reconnect a little bit, and we had some fun times at supper, the rodeo and the frozen yogurt bar. We were even honored to host one of the couples at our home for one night. They surprised us in the morning with a straight-from-Pennsylvania Shoo-Fly Pie. They brought it with them on the plane. It was quite the treat, and completely unexpected! (Thanks, guys! It was still very fresh and awesomely delicious!)

I much prefer living in the west compared to living in Pennsylvania. But, of course, I still hold some fondness for the area in which I grew up. So many memories there.

So, in honor of our visitors, here are
Five Seven! Things I Like About Pennsylvania:

#7 - Farms. So many farms. I love farms.

#6 - Fresh produce! With so many farms, and gardens that grow so easily in the rich soil, and orchards full of fruit trees, there is such an abundance of readily-available fresh produce. And it is lovely. (I do miss that.)

#5 - Roadside stands. Where the farmers sell their produce. Seems like there is one on every corner.

#4 - Greenery. PA is GREEN. Lots of rain + lots of good soil = GREEN. And in the fall, I loved seeing those green leaves change all sorts of colors. So pretty.

#3 - Fireflies. Or lightning bugs, as we always called them. They're everywhere in PA for a few weeks each summer. We used to spend lots of evenings chasing them down and catching them in jars (or our bare hands). I wish my kids could do that! But we don't have them in Wyoming. I wonder why? I always assumed they were everywhere, until I lived out here.

#2 - The food. Pennsylvania Dutch style food. Is. Amazing. Lots of good cooks around there. (I get food like that out here because I know how to make it myself. But there are a few things that I have not figured out how to duplicate. Like Ham Loaf. (Any of my PA friends reading this have a good recipe for ham loaf???)

#1 - Family! With the exception of just a few people, almost all of our family lives in PA. That is, most assuredly, the best thing that state has going for it (in my mind). Oh, and I like my friends in PA too, of course. :)

Well, there you have it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go have some lunch. Which is going to include a slice of Shoo-Fly Pie for dessert.