The Nest ~ by Sam

Just returned from dropping off Justice for her Senior trip to Yosemite. Hallie spent the night at Makenzie’s, celebrating their birthdays with a few close friends. Kaia slept over at Sea World with her Girl Scout Troop, and will spend the day there. Shane is asleep, after picking up Justice at 3:30 this morning from a day (and Grad Night) at Disneyland/California Adventure. It’s just me, the cats, my birdie friend who sits on the telephone wire over the backyard every morning, a cup of coffee, and my banjo. Not a bad way to spend the morning, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I miss my girls. A few quiet moments here and there are nice, I suppose, but, at the end of the day, I still love the “wild rumpus.”

The older they get, the broader our circle becomes. I like to believe that they are not drifting away from us as they grow, but widening the arc in which they travel around the heart of our family ~ taking all of their awesome, unique energy out in to the world, and bringing more people in to our circle as they go. I know that my world is richer because they are in it. It only seems fair to share them with the rest of the world, even when I want, selfishly, to hold them close.

And now, prophetically, my little birdie friend has flown away, having chosen the perfect moment in my narrative to do so. I know she’ll return, tomorrow, only to fly off once more. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?


A Day in the Life ~ by Sam

And now for something completely different!

Nothing today about saving money, or keeping things low-stress….unless making mac and cheese for dinner counts as low stress.  Just a little slice of life, you might say.  Hang on tight!

What a day! Justice was up all night working on finishing a project. Kaia woke up with a splinter in her finger (we still aren’t exactly sure how that happened). Shane got lunches packed while I tried to help with the splinter. Justice got ready, and I got her out the door (eating breakfast on the way), and then we remembered that she had borrowed something from a teacher for the weekend and needed to return it, so we had to double back. Kaia was still working on that splinter. Got Jus to school. Shane got Hallie to school. (I don’t really know what Hallie did this morning. She had an allergy attack, took her meds, ate breakfast and got to school on time and with all of her homework, so ~ GO, HALLIE!!) Kaia and I continued to work on the splinter. It had broken off in her finger, and she thought there was still a piece in there, but we just could not get it. We poked, we soaked, we coaxed…we gave up, put neosporin and a bandaid on it and got her off to school.

Then, Justice texted. She had forgotten to print up one table. The orange one. Could I print it and drop it off at school? Sure, no problem. Race home, look at the computer….uh…orange table…orange table…a-ha! Orange table! …and another orange table…I printed them both, gathered up everything that was on the surface of the desk and stuffed it all in an envelope. Got it to school and dropped it off, then remembered that the ottoman cover had been stained pink in the wash, and I needed to pick up some of that oxygen bleach stuff that was going to be my last-ditch effort in getting it out.

Then, Justice texted. I didn’t print the right thing. What?? I printed all the orange stuff I saw! Okay. I’ll go home and find it. So…start racing home and ~ ANOTHER text: Nevermind. It’s here. Phew!

Okay. Off to the store. Um…first store doesn’t have it. Screw that. I am buying stuff to make veggie curried chicken salad, and some apples and pears…and peonies. THERE. ALL BETTER. But…I still need the bleach crap. I worked to hard on that ottoman cover to lose it!

Okay. Next store has it. AWESOME. Home. Laundry. Coffee. Pay the health insurance premium for the month. Crap. Time to pick up kids? ALREADY??? Yup.

In to the car. It needs gas. Cool. Gas station right up the road. Pump open, slide my card and…transaction canceled. Wait…what? Try again. No…I said, “Debit.” Fine. Fine. Credit will be fine. No…I don’t want a car wash! Transaction canceled. Are you freaking kidding me??? One more try ~ holy cow! It worked! It took like 10 minutes, but it worked!

On to the freeway ~ FIRETRUCK!! Firetruck? Really? Now?? Okay, okay….yes. Go help people. That’s good. Okay. Back on to the freeway. Off the freeway, and ~ would you believe tow truck? Tow truck. Right at the end of the ramp. Okay. Wait for traffic, wait for traffic, wait for traffic….can you people see my flipping blinker?? Maneuver around tow truck. Cool. On we go. Turn down Chandler Blvd., coming in to the homestretch, and…ambulance. *sigh* Yes, yes, the helping people thing. I am really, truly so grateful for ambulances and the people who operate them. Back on the road and to school without incident. Pick up Hallie and her friend Maya. Start toward our house, where I will be dropping off the girls, and, on the eastbound side of Chandler Blvd., one lane is closed. We are in the other lane (as in everyone, given the lane closure), behind a GARBAGE TRUCK. I am thankful for garbage trucks and the the people who operate them, too. Without them, there would be garbage all over the city, right? So, we drive very slowly down the block, stopping at each and every house. Hello, neighbours!

Drop the girls at home, race to Justice’s school, to find her approaching our usual pick-up spot just as I pull up. First thing that has gone right all day (besides the bleach thing, I guess). She hops in, and we zoom off to pick up Kaia, late. Find her, find her lunchbox, and run to the car. She changes in to painting clothes in her seatbelt, while I drive. She’s crafty. Drop her off at another elementary school, where her Girl Scout Troop is painting a mural. Drive home. Justice falls asleep in the car.

Unload the car (including rousing Justice and sending her inside), load up Kaia’s trumpet, pick up Maya (whose mom is the Girl Scout Troop Leader, and is at the elementary school with Kaia and the rest of the girl scouts), and head off to drop off one kid and pick up another. Bicyclist runs a stop sign in front of me. Luckily, I saw her. Holy cow. Continue down the road. Train. Luckily, a short commuter train. Things are looking up. Get to the school, drop off Maya, pick up Kaia, who is covered in paint, and race over to a trumpet lesson, planning to get a cup of coffee as soon as I drop her off. get caught up in a conversation, instead, which is actually awesome, because, on a day like today, it was really nice to talk about something other than the day I was having. So, we talk music and education, and, before I know it, the lesson is over. We’re done. We can coast through the rest of the day. Cup of coffee for me. Ice cream for the kids.

Arrive home (with ice cream) to find Justice still asleep and Hallie working on homework.

Took a few moments to write this, and now I am off to make some macaroni and cheese for the kids for dinner. Assuming I can convince myself to get off the sofa. Kaia was lobbying for ice cream for dinner. I gotta tell you, that idea is sounding better by the minute…No, no…I’ll make macaroni and cheese.  Did you know it’s almost as easy to make it homemade as it is to cook the boxed kind.  Just boil and drain macaroni, add cheese, milk, butter, a little salt…stir to melt (heat a little if you have to).  There ya go.  Mac and cheese!  Okay.  Enough lollygagging! Time to get busy.


Let Them Eat Cake…er…um…ICE CREAM! ~ by Sam

Okay, I don’t usually dole out unsolicited parenting advice, but this one goes so far toward the “low stress” part of our plan, that I am going to throw it out in to the world.  Here goes:

Sometimes, when your kids ask if they can have ice cream for dinner, just say, “Yes.”  Really.  Mind you, not ALWAYS, but I really feel it’s fine, once in a while.  There are ways to make it a slightly less unhealthy choice.  We like Trader Joe’s Frozen Vanilla Fat Free Greek Yogurt.  As Kaia says, “It’s a little more sour that regular ice cream, but it just…works.”  It also contains more protein than ice cream, as well as some active cultures, so that’s awesome, from a health standpoint.  Offer toppings like fruit (we had bananas and cherries tonight), natural peanut butter, graham crackers, granola, and nuts, as well as a few chocolate chips, and maybe a little chocolate sauce.  They can use the graham crackers to make “ice cream sandwiches,” crumble them into the ice cream, or eat them on the side.  

Tonight, Kaia made an ice cream sandwich by spreading graham crackers with peanut butter, then adding a few chocolate chips and some frozen yogurt. She had a banana on the side.  Justice topped the ice cream in her bowl with peanut butter, chocolate sauce, walnuts and sliced bananas (not sure if she used the graham crackers at all).  Hallie made a banana split with cherries, nuts and chocolate chips on top.  

This isn’t a new idea.  About once a year, in the Fall, my mom used to make apple pie for dinner.  I loved it.  Warm apple pie with milk poured over it ~ yum!  And look, it’s apples, bread (crust…yeah, I know, it’s greasy), milk.  I mean, it’s not that bad.  Think of Bill Cosby and his chocolate cake.  (If you don’t know about Bill Cosby and his chocolate cake, go straight to YouTube and search “Bill Cosby Chocolate Cake.”)  Once in a while, embrace the silly, be that parent who says, “Yes,” and put those smiles in the bank, so you can withdraw them from your vault on a tough parenting day.  

Sure, there’s a lot of sugar, but, if you don’t serve it at every meal, every day, and you make healthy food choices most of the time, I see no reason not to let them eat cake…or pie…or ice cream.  

At out house right now, bellies are full and everyone’s happy ~ and that is absolutely priceless on a Friday night, at the end of a very hectic week.