The Power of Flower

If nothing else, one thing lately I’m sure I got right is my kids’ middle names. On this blog, they go by their middle names: Lily, Rose and Violet. The flower theme was at first semi-accidental. “Lily” and “Rose” just went best with my first two kids’ first and last names. The fact that they were both flower names was a bit amusing, but not particularly on purpose until we got to the last baby girl. If you have two big sisters with flower middle names, clearly you also should have a flower middle name. We couldn’t have her left out of the theme.

When I was pregnant with Violet, people kept teasing me about what her middle name would be. “Is that a Tulip in there? What about Daisy?” Only Violet, Iris and Ivy were contenders and Violet sounded best with her first and last names. In fact, I don’t think it sounds like we did anything on purpose with her until you hear all three full names together, which doesn’t happen often.

I wondered if the kids would be regretful of my silly flower theme, but (at least at this stage of life) they LOVE it. They love going in the garden and planting flowers that “mean” them. They love assigning their poor baby sister the favorite color purple because of her being a Violet. They love that when I wear rose, lily or violet jewelry that it symbolizes them. It’s been really nice and I highly recommend doing something similar.

And if that weren’t enough reason to love flower middle names, Rose has added a new one. When she plays princesses these days, she calls all of her sisters by their middle names. “We are the princesses of flowers with the power of flowers!” she claims. They live in Flowerville and use their flower powers to defeat evil. I guess evil people must be allergic to flowers.

I guess I must be evil then?

If Rose and Violet dress up like Cinderella (Lily hates dress up), Rose actually gets angry if you refer to either of them as Cinderella. “NO! I am Princess Rose of Roseville and this is Princess Violet of Violetville and we live in the Flower Kingdom!”

Obviously.

Flower Power!

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Hot Dog Math

If you ever find yourself in doubt as to how many hot dogs you should make for 40-50 people when you are also serving pizza at a party, the answer is 10, not 60.

Or you know, skip the hot dogs altogether, but to do that would mean having the birthday girl losing a food allergy. Or skip the pizza, but that would mean going all beef with the hot dogs to satisfy the religious dietary restrictions of several party guests. And that’s expensive! (Though probably less expensive than doing hot dogs AND pizza retrospectively.)

If I weren’t so exhausted right now from hosting a party, I’d have a second party two hours after the first one ended to get rid of the hot dogs!

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Expert Dancer

After becoming a gymnastics dropout last year, Rose took up ballet. It was a match made in heaven. She’s a princess and is obsessed with being as beautiful and frilly as possible, which means ballet was MADE for her. Or so we thought.
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Then at the end of the school year, she went to a gymnastics birthday party and suddenly she wanted to take gymnastics again. Gymnastics: the type of class I spent $90 on for her to sit in my lap crying instead of doing somersaults.

My husband and I were still convinced that ballet and Rose are made for each other. We tried to encourage her to remain in ballet, but here’s what she has to say about it.

“I really like ballet, but I already LEARNED ballet. I already know all about dance. I’m a dance expert. I don’t need any more dance lessons.”

That’s right, after four months of ballet lessons, my four year old is a ballet expert. There is nothing left to learn. She has it down. And it was a ballet/tap combo class, so she is a tap expert too! Those people who study dance for years and years clearly are wasting their time. There’s nothing left to learn after the first 4 months!

So I guess she’s going to gymnastics this year. You’d think she was already an expert of that considering she took 2 months worth of gymnastics lessons last year.

Maybe she can be a concert pianist and an Olympic swimmer too.

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Homework Rebel

So yesterday Lily came home with her first spelling list for first grade, which was oddly a lot easier than ANY spelling list she ever had toward the end of kindergarten– where I believe her first spelling test somehow had the word “clown” on it.

Her spelling list now:

a
I
in
the
is

Lily reads at at least a late second grade level. She has been reading chapter books for almost a year. Obviously, she can spell these words.

Yet the spelling list came with a literal tic tac toe board of insane activities we had to do together. We were supposed to play tic tac toe with the activities to make sure we got three in a row. Examples: Make flashcards, write the words in flour in a plate, write down as many of the words as you can in one minute, do artwork with the words. Parental involvement was required in each activity.

And you know? I totally understand that these kids need to be able to spell these words and not all the kids learn them so easily. Some of these activities might help kids who have trouble with them and that’s great, but this is a huge waste of time in our household. The activities should have been optional. When I got the list, I turned to Lily and asked her how to spell each word. She could spell them all. Following that and short of a REAL worksheet she can fill out herself, that should have been the entirety of my involvement. Because you know what? I finished my first grade homework when I graduated from first grade 28 years ago.

I totally contemplated cheating on my daughter’s homework and just putting my initials on three of the tic tac toes in a row, but Lily can read. She’d totally know I’d cheated. And she’d take that as a cue that it was ok to cheat.

It’s not.

But seriously. WHAT. A. PAIN. So last night I had to spend 20 minutes helping my child participate in ridiculous activities to memorize words she already knew how to spell.

Whatever happened to just quizzing your kids on the spelling words and then being out of the loop? You REALLY expect me to make a huge mess of my kitchen by having my 6 year old write words she already knows how to spell in flour? Really?

Ugh.

And yes, I’m back. Bad winter, bad routine, no routine, long crazy summer and Candy Crush addiction (and Candy Crush rehab!) all gave me writer’s block for a little bit too long there, but I think I’ve conquered it. I hope. Or at least today I have. Hopefully our new and improved school schedule will keep me writing.

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Two for One Meal: Crockpot Vegetable Soup and Pot Roast

What tastes totally delicious but looks like puke when you try to photograph it for a blog?
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Vegetable soup!

Totally unappetizing LOOKING, but amazing tasting. I promise.

This isn’t usually a recipe blog, and it’s not about to become one, but this was yummy! I had to share it.

A couple weeks ago, my friend Lindsey told me she’d made amazing vegetable soup in her crockpot AT THE SAME TIME as the pot roast she made her family. It pretty much blew my mind, and I decided to try it myself. She didn’t give me an exact recipe, so I winged it and texted her a little in between.

I did:
1 pot roast, probably about 3 pounds?
2 packets of Lipton onion soup mix
1 32 oz box of beef stock
1 can of tomato soup
1 cup of dry sherry (white wine would work)
1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas)
1 box of frozen spinach
3 tsp chopped garlic (probably about 3 cloves)
a bunch of shakes of worcestershire sauce
a couple pinches of salt
a giant crockpot (I don’t know the size of mine, but it’s pretty huge and was filled to the top)

I put all of that in my crockpot, cooked it on low for 8 hours and when it was done we had a semi-decent pot roast that all the kids ate, especially with the soup spooned over it AND a TON of absolutely delicious vegetable soup. And I say this as a person who usually doesn’t care that much for vegetable soup. This stuff was super savory and delicious. I think the pot roast really added to the flavor of the soup. We have enough food to last for at least one more meal for all five of us, plus more for lunch for a couple of us. So, basically, I made two different meals at the same time and both were yummy and appreciated.

It was genius. And not even really my idea, but you should all go make it right now because it was easy.

And if you don’t have something, wing it. I didn’t have a real recipe either. It will probably still be good. At least, that’s how it works when I improvise!

The only problem with this soup-and-pot roast-cooking-at-the-same-time situation is a potential for INSANE splatter if you accidentally drop the pot roast back into the soup when you are trying to remove it from the crockpot. Not that that happened to me or anything. Nope. My counter, floor and my entire body were NOT covered with red soup. I didn’t have to stop prepping dinner to go put my clothes in the wash. Not at all!

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Chapter Books

Recently the following piece of paper found its way home in Lily’s book bag.
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“I have a dream. My dream is read chaptr books”

I 100% support this dream, though the dream itself had already come true before this slip of paper came home. For the last couple months, Lily has been reading the Junie B. Jones series to herself.

My husband, however, is confused by the dream. He doesn’t understand exactly what chapter books are.

I keep explaining that for a little kid, graduating from picture books to books with chapters in them is a thing. When you are in elementary school, books with chapters in them are called chapter books. I know it’s not a term I’ve made up because our local bookstore has a whole section in it labeled “Early Chapter Books.”

Still, he won’t acknowledge that chapter books are a thing. He insists they are just books, since all adult books have chapters in them. “Are they fiction? Non-fiction?”

It’s not a difficult concept to grasp. Any book you read as a child that has chapters in it as opposed to just pictures in it is considered a chapter book. When you are 6 or 7 or maybe 8, you strive to read chapter books like a “big kid.” I remember feeling a big sense of accomplishment in second grade when I was finally able to read a Ramona book by myself. I remember bragging to relatives that I was able to read chapter books!

But no, my husband claims that “chapter book” is a made-up term he’s never heard of.

How were we educated in the same country?!

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Olympic Gender Bender

Lily: Is that a boy or a girl skating?

Me: That’s a boy.

Lily: Are you joking? He looks like a girl!

My husband: A lot of the figure skating costumes look a little girly, but that’s a boy.

Rose: Only girls can black skate.

Us: Black skate? What do you mean?

Rose: What they are doing right now.

Me: That’s ICE skating. Not black skating. And boys can ice skate. Boys can do anything girls can do, just like girls can do anything boys can do.

Rose: No! Boys can’t wear costumes!

Me: Yes, they can actually. And they do.

Lily: What about that one? That’s a girl, right?

Me: Nope. That’s another boy. We’re watching men’s figure skating, so they will all be boys.

Rose: But it looks like they are dancing! Boys don’t dance!

Me: Some boys dance.

Lily: But it looks like girl clothes!

Me: Some boys wear girl clothes. Some girls wear boy clothes. Anyone can wear any clothes they want.

Lily: You’re kidding me, right?

Clearly I haven’t prevented these girls from learning gender bias, but outside of social isolation, who can? Oh well. We’ll keep talking and they’ll get it someday.

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Big Hair

I was singing Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” and Lily asked me if I’d made the song up. She’s recently learned that I am not the musical genius she once thought I was. While I may sometimes alter the words to a preexisting tune, I do not write these Top 40 Radio songs myself.

Whenever she asks me about a song I’m singing, I pull up a youtube video of the song. This time, big-haired Bon Jovi showed up rocking out “Livin’ on a Prayer” for her. Rose and Lily watched him singing together.

“You see how big his hair is?” I said. “In the 1980s, a lot of people in bands made their hair big like that.”

“You mean their hair was all static-y?” Rose asked. “He has a lot of static in his hair just like me!”

Yes. That’s exactly what I meant.

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My School is Truant

Lily has not gone to school more than two full days in a row since mid-December. It is February 5.

Granted, there was a 2-week winter break in the middle of all that, but still. Let me repeat, there have not been two full school days in a row since mid-December. We’ve had 12 cancellations (so far) and at least 15 2-hour delays. Lily is in half-day kindergarten. Our school system splits the 2-hour delay between morning and afternoon kindergarten. Each class is one hour shorter, so she only goes to kindergarten for 1.5 hours on delay days and gets home an hour later than usual. If you add in the time it takes kindergartners to take on and put on winter coats, they might have an hour of actual class on those days. I have trouble seeing what the point is.

With 15 2-hour delays add up to 30 hours of missed school– another full week of classes. But we won’t be making up that time. In fact, we won’t be making up all of the 12 days we missed (so far. I suspect we won’t have school tomorrow. Another delay has already been scheduled.). They are talking about extending the school day 30 minutes and sending home extra homework to make up for the missed school, which in my world doesn’t make up for any missed school at all. In high school, an extra 30 minutes is only about 4 minutes per class. Are they really going to learn anything new in 4 minutes? Does an extra 4 minutes really make up for 12+ missed days?

If Lily were to miss 12 days of school on her own and then show up late for school another 15 days, I suspect a truancy officer would be at my house right now. We would probably be discussing whether or not she should repeat the year after missing so much school.

Instead, we have our school system trying to figure out how to get out of making up all the days of learning we “had” to skip because of the weather. I know there are financial and logistical problems in making up all of those days, but I’m more concerned with the fact that our kids are losing so many days of learning. Even when they do get to go to school, they only get to go for a couple of days and some of those days are on delays. I have trouble believing that much learning is getting accomplished with all of these interruptions.

Sometimes I wonder if the whole school system should just make up the year. It’s hard to say.

All I know for certain is that I’m glad Lily is only in kindergarten. If she were in an upper grade, I can’t even imagine where we’d stand right now.

Here’s hoping this winter lets up before we have to go to school through August.

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Kids Doing Laundry

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I probably should have stopped them from swinging their 1 year old sister around in a laundry basket, but they were having so much fun. And they weren’t swinging her very high. She was really only a few inches off the ground, so I figured she wouldn’t be hurt if they dropped her.

Luckily, this time my leniency paid off and no one was hurt. Annoyed when I eventually told them it was time to put her down? Yes. Hurt? No.

This gets me thinking, though, if they can manage to carry their 20 pound sister around in a laundry basket, surely they can carry a laundry basket full of clean clothes back to their room to put them away. Right?

Dream big.

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