Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brendan the Brave

Do your children ever amaze you with their daring?  Do they ever make plans that leave you simultaneously awed at their desire to reach and worried that they are going to fall flat on their faces?  

Mine do.  And it is both thrilling and nerve-wracking.

To wit: read what my firstborn decided to do last weekend.

Homecoming is in a little less than a month, and people are starting to ask and be asked.  On a related tangent, it seems that these days, it is not enough to just ask someone.  Rather, you have to ask in some kind of creative and public way.

So Brendan decided to enlist the help of a couple of his cheerleader friends and ask a girl at the football game last Friday night.

In front of the whole school.

Correction-- in front of the whole school and a bunch of parents.


He arranged the whole thing himself.  The idea was that the row of cheerleaders would hold up signs that spelled out the girl's name on one side and then flip the signs over to read "HOMECOMING??!" on the other.  Then he would burst through the line and wait for her to come down and accept his invitation.  The cheerleaders even turned it into a cheer for him.

I helped him get ready by helping him paint the signs for the cheerleaders to hold.

I also helped him pick out some flowers (red Gerber daisies--red so she would feel like she really received  flowers and Gerber daisies so they wouldn't be too cliched).

While I was helping him, I probably asked him at least five times if he was nervous.  He was as cool as a cucumber.

Then he left for the football game with his signs and the flowers tucked under his arm, and we were all on pins and needles to hear how it turned out.

Finally, he came home.

Lukas, who is 7, bounded downstairs from his bed where he had been fighting sleep, to ask the all-important question: "Did she say yes?"  When Brendan confirmed that yes, his efforts had been successful, Lukas said, "Phew.  Thank goodness!"

My thoughts exactly.  Brendan, you are a brave, brave man.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A New Love and Getting Down to Bid-ness...

I bit the bullet and decided to buy a new-to-me DSLR camera last week off Craigslist.

Nikon D70s Digital SLR Camera with Nikon AF-S DX 18-70mm and 55-200mm lenses

A Nikon D70s, to be exact.

Oh yeah!

I have already given my offspring many stern lectures about laying a finger or any other appendage on my camera.  I have plans to buy a lame point-and-shoot for them.  Maybe one with shock absorbers :)?

Now that I'm back in business camera-wise, it's time for me to get down to bid-ness. Here are some sad pictures of the state of things in some parts of our house.

The laundry room.

Sophie's closet.

My closet--eek.

I know, I know.  The horror!

We had our popcorn ceilings removed while we were away on vacation in August.  That is the good news.

The bad news is that we stashed everything from our rooms into our un-popcorned closets on top of stuff that we hadn't unpacked/organized from the move.  The icing on the cake is that all of this is now covered with drywall dust.  Drywall dust is of the devil!  It seeps into every crack and crevice.

Anyway, now that the kids are back in school, I'm excited to do some organization and cleaning to make our home function better.  You know you are officially a nerdy mom when cleaning and organization make you feel a sense of giddy anticipation :).

Look at some of these fun pics I snapped with my new love this morning. A good camera is so fun! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

When the Mice are Away, the Cat will Play

Summer has been fun, and for the most part, successful.  All of my kids, sans Lucy and Sawyer, went back to school this week.  Next week, Sawyer will start preschool a few times a week.  I felt a huge heart pang the first day as I watched them walk up to the bus or to school, thinking about how kids growing older is both thrilling and ever-so-sad.  But then, I immediately started mentally listing all the things to do that are easier with only a portable baby around.  Woo-hoo!

I felt a bit guilty about my feelings of happy relief that the kids are back in school when we had family prayers that night, though.  Sophie, our sweet 9-year-old, was saying the prayer.  She was asking for help or blessings for each family member in turn (i.e. "Help Damon to do well at his new school, help Brendan to do a good job in high school," etc.).  The last people she mentioned were Lucy and me.  She said, "Help Mom and Lucy to not miss us too much while we are all gone to school this year."  I had to stifle a little chuckle.  I think I will manage ;).

How about you?  Does back to school bring tears....or tears of relief :)?  Or both?

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lunch Box Reviews

A couple of years ago, I decided to make our lunches a little less wasteful and more environmentally friendly.  We had lunch boxes, but we usually bagged everything into plastic baggies that were thrown away.  They also brought individual juice boxes.

I wish I could say that this was all because I am so environmentally conscious, but I think I was motivated as much by saving money.  Nice Ziploc baggies and individual 100% juice boxes are pricey.

Of course, I was also inspired by lunches like this (courtesy of Bentolunch.net):

Part of me hoped that "if I bought the container, the cool lunches would come."  Sadly, it doesn't work like that :).  However, I figured that at least I can be more thrifty and environmentally conscious, right?

I set my parameters--my ideal lunch box system would be: inexpensive, versatile, sturdy and flexible.

Since I have four kids who needed lunchboxes and and I wasn't sure what I would end up liking, I bought the following systems:

1.  For Sophie, I bought the Fit and Fresh lunch box (similar to the one below).  The one I bought came with an insulated bag (we kind of bought it for the bag, since it had peace signs--Sophie's favorite--all over it). It cost approximately $8 at Marshalls.
Fit & Fresh Lunch on the Go (Colors May Vary)
2.  I bought The Easy Lunchbox containers and two Easy Lunchbox black insulated bags for Brendan and Damon.  They were approximately $13 for four containers and lids, and about $8 more for each insulated bag.
EasyLunchboxes 3-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers (Set of 4)
EasyLunchboxes Insulated Lunch Box Cooler Bag, Black
3.  I splurged and bought the Go Green Lunch Box for Lukas.  It was the most pricey of all the lunch boxes at $33 plus shipping, but it did include a nice stainless water bottle, and some other cool features, like leak-proof, silicone sealed compartments and a whiteboard message board inside the bag.

Shockingly, all of the lunch boxes survived the whole year.  Either my kids are becoming more responsible, or they actually took all my steely-eyed warnings to not lose their lunch boxes seriously for a change :).

The most important question is, which lunch system did I like best?

I think the short answer is: the Easy Lunchboxes.  They were cheap, surprisingly durable and their shape allowed me to pack either a sandwich or a main course/leftover meal with equal ease.  The other compartments were reserved for veggies/fruit and a treat.  I also bought Rubbermaid's reusable juice boxes from The Container Store so the kids could have drinks from home.
Litterless Juice Boxes

However, there are some things to add.

I loved the Go Green lunch box's design that allowed for a leak-proof seal.  Unfortunately, it was hard for Lukas to seal it properly on his own.  There are four flaps around the sides that have to be closed, and then a center knob that has to be turned for the thing to be leak-proof.  Lukas almost never managed to close all four flaps on his own, so this negated the whole leak-proof advantage.  The message board was really cool, though.  Also, there is more space than any school-age kid really needs in the Go Green lunch box.  I think this would be great for an adult's lunch box, though--since they would be eating more and be capable of closing the lunch box properly.

Sophie liked her "Fit and Fresh" container.  We augmented it with a sandwich container from the Dollar Spot at Target, or a Lock & Lock or other plastic food storage container for a salad or main dish.  It worked well, but it was kind of fiddly to have to look for so many pieces every day.

Anyway, I hope my trial and error can help someone else who is trying to find the "perfect" lunchbox system.  Happy lunching!