Monday, June 18, 2007

A Week at the Zoo

Hello family,

Welcome to another rambling tour of life at the Porters. We have had just another normal, crazy week. Our last week has been full with all kinds of fun events. To my great relief, Jared had his last day of T-Ball on Saturday. Try as I might to enthusiastically watch five and six-year-olds take three tries to hit the ball off the tee and then throw it past the base 5 minutes after the runner passed, I had a very hard time being an enthusiastic spectator. However, I was glad that Jared enjoyed it and had fun. The coach's wife went WAY over the top: she made a photo album, a gold medal, team baseball cards, a fun foam water bottle holder, a hat and a cute certificate for every kid on the team. Wow, it made me tired just looking at it. Between the gold medal and his "YMCA T-Ball" trophy, Jared was thrilled beyond belief. He is now convinced that his team was the winning-est team ever... after all, he has a gold medal and a gold trophy to prove it. The other highlight of Jared's week was getting to eat lunch at school like one of the big kids on Tuesday. Even though it was at 9:30 am, for "lunch" he got to have a corn dog AND chocolate milk. Wow, if only his mom were so nice.

-->On Tuesday I took the kids to lunch at McDonald's with some other moms. The kids played happily on the play place while I chatted with other moms and ate one of my worst lunches in recent memory. Since I don't really like McDonald's, I thought I would just order a few snack things. I ordered an apple dipper, a small order of fries (which the kids took care of in short order) and a Chicken Snack Wrap. I made the mistake of getting a ranch snack wrap, so my sandwich was doused with large quantities of marginally flavored mayonnaise. Despite efforts to remove some with a napkin, I only succeeded in removing everything except the chicken and the tortilla. I was left with a rather slim and not very appetizing lunch. After our McDonald's outing, we went to Target and then went 10 minutes down the road to go strawberry picking! The kids and I ran into a friend who was there with her daughter, so we picked until they left. With the three of us diligently laboring for over an hour, we went to check out and found we had picked 14 pounds of strawberries. So I diligently spent the next two days making two batches of freezer jam, two strawberry pies (which the kids informed me that they didn't like) and bags of frozen strawberries. Oregon strawberries are sweeter than California strawberries, but unfortunately, they are about half the size. So I spent upwards of three hours one day endlessly removing hulls and slicing strawberries.Wednesday was the last day of kindergarten. Jared is now an official kindergarten graduate (yep, he's bested both of you, Lindsay and Meg... =] ) We celebrated this momentous occasion with a classroom promotion celebration, complete with ice cream and an informal diploma ceremony . His teacher had made very cute memory books and "diplomas" for each of the kids. They each came up, shook her hand, got their "diploma" and she shared a memory of them from the year. This was very cute when it was Jared's turn but very tedious when it was time for the other 24 children to have their turn (at a minute and half each, it really added up....). Her memory of Jared was that he was Mr. Dash--- he would dash into class, dash around at recess and dash out the door when it was over. She also said that he had made excellent progress in reading. After school got out, we celebrated the last day of school by having a friend in his class over for lunch and then going to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. Jared got bright green and blue sherbert with Mike and Ike's mixed in--- Yummy!

My exciting item of the week was more cooking experiments. My grand meal of the week was Herb Roasted Wild Sockeye Salmon with Red Potatoes and green salad. I went to the store and despite not being a big fish person, they had the most beautiful tempting ruby-red salmon-- and it was even on sale! Believe me, it was glorious, and the kids were duly appreciative. Jared loved the salmon but prounounced the potatoes "yucky." Camryn refused to taste the salmon, but at least tried her potatoes-- and about 5 slices of bread. Dave came home late and duly appreciated it cold and leftover. My other concoctions of the week were Red Pepper and Walnut Stir-Fry, Thai Spicy Rice Pudding (made with coconut milk, allspice and cinnamon- yum), Tomato Basil Panzanella (a great salad made with leftover stale bread softened with water) and Top Ramen. Yes, it seems that the pregnancy foods that have really stuck are Top Ramen and baked potatoes with cheese and sour cream. Just can't get enough....

The kids love playing on our trampoline. They probably spend close to two hours a day jumping on it... or standing on it and throwing toys and other objects into the tree above them. I have learned not to be too bothered by this until last week. While they were jumping on the trampoline I took a phone call and went upstairs. A few minutes later, Jared and Camryn came up with very guilty looks and Jared said, in a much-too-trying-to-be-excited voice, "Guess what? A kind of funny thing happened, mom. We were out jumping on the trampoline and then some guy's head popped up." I instantly knew something was up, so I went outside and sure enough, there was our neighbor's head above our fence, telling me that my children had been throwing large rocks into his yard and at his house and some of them were hitting it. I thanked him and instantly marched the kids up to bed. I don't believe in raising my voice, but I do admit that on this occasion, my voice went above its normal decibel range. I'm also not a parent who generally believes in spanking as a tool or a threat, but I must admit on this occasion to threatening to spank my children repeatedly and send them to bed for the entire day if this EVER happened again. After they spent a long period of time on their beds, I had them make cards to take to the neighbor and tell him they were sorry and would never do it again. Camryn drew a picture of kids throwing rocks at a house with an "X" through it and Jared wrote, "IM SORE FOR THROING ROKS AT YOR HOWS."

My other parenting dilemma has been with Camryn. Recently she has been the less difficult of the two until.... this week they were jumping on the trampoline with friends and apparently Camryn decided it would be funny to moon everybody. After taking her inside, having a time out and explaining that showing her bare bottom to people was not funny or appropriate behavior, I figured we were OK. But then later the same day it happened again. This time Camryn had a LONG time out to think about not doing it again. After spending a lengthy period on her bed, she insisted that she would remember to never do it again. Then two days later she started to do it again... in the freezer aisle at Safeway. I marched her to the bathroom and, I'm ashamed to admit, because I couldn't think of anything else to do without permanently abandoning our shopping cart of groceries, she got a spank. I felt terrible and stewed and debated later over whether I'd done the right thing. But... the good side of the story is that she hasn't done it since. Between this and an incident of her using a certain slang term for hot dog, I have started to really wonder whether I have done an adequate job as a parent or if I just haven't been sufficiently worried about the negative peer influences at preschool.

Despite her troubling laxity at keeping on her underclothing, Camryn is very aware of other moral dangers. In particular, she is our family expert on the evils of coffee. She often points out that there is a store across the street from us with a bunny on it where people are buying......COFFEE. These people, she informs us, are "not listening to Jesus." In family discussions, if it ever comes up what Satan might want us to do, the very first item on the list from Camryn is [said with a suitably dark and dismal tone], "Drink COFFEE."

So now I get to the bee-in-my-bonnet part of my narrative. I have really been itching to fix the border of our backyard. So after my cooking enrichment group on Thursday, I dragged the kids to Al's Garden Center for 2 hours to look at plants. I stewed and debated and couldn't decide while the kids amused themselves by taking off their shoes, splashing in puddles, playing hide-and-go-seek and getting wet in the fountains. After selecting an obscenely large number of plants and taking them home, I set them out in my yard I realized that at least half of them wouldn't work. So on Friday I went back to Al's Garden Center (this time without the kids, who were playing with friends). This time I spent 2 1/2 hours, exchanging, debating and selecting, then finally came home to start working in the yard. I was discouraged to start with because on Friday morning I went on a cleaning rampage: I cleaned the kitchen, swept and mopped or vaccuumed the floors, cleaned the downstairs bathroom, even cleaned the family room windows (including our resident bird poop of two months) and when I was done.... it just didn't look all that different. Maybe I need to hire an organizer or something. So, I wanted to do SOMETHING that would make an impact. So I started working in the yard.
On Saturday morning, after a breakfast of coffeecake (and some careful explanation to Camryn that it did not have coffee in it) I went out and kept working. I felt all the strength and gusto of a pioneer woman taming the land.... after all, I was attacking rock hard clay soil that would only scrape off in 1/2 inch segments with my shovel and bare hands. My ego was much deflated when Dave came out with a pickaxe and loosened up the spot I was working on in about 5 minutes flat (it only would have taken me 2 hours). But by the end of the day on Saturday (OK, by 9:00 pm), I had turned the soil, mixed in bags of soil builder and planted probably 30 plants. Dave attacked the yard with equal exertion until about 10 pm, in between fielding two conference calls. So 1/2 of our yard looks pretty good now... only another 1/2 to go. After all of this exertion and a late bedtime on Saturday, Dave and I both fell asleep at 8:30 pm on Sunday night.

We had a nice Father's Day, including a lovely dinner at a friend's house (by far the best and most kitchen-friendly way to treat your husband). Actually, I made Dave's special father's day dinner tonight instead. After a morning of panic at attempting to clean up the chaos and mess that had accumulated during our weekend of work on the yard (punctuated by Jared and Camryn erupting into fights over Camryn sticking her foot in the drawer when Jared was trying to close it, Jared not sharing his treat with Camryn or Camryn trying to steal Jared's treat), I finally got things to a state of semi-order by afternoon, at which point Camryn fell to pieces and threw a series of fits for the rest of the evening. For dinner, Jared suggested that we eat our meal as a picnic outside. This was fine for about 10 minutes, until Camryn decided she did not WANT a picnic and started using that as her fit-throwing-reason-of-choice.

Today while I was cleaning, Jared and Camryn experimented in the kitchen. Jared invented a sauce of cinnamon, sprinkles and corn syrup, to be served spread on an english muffin. This he made especially for me, to eat as my lunch treat (maybe he was trying to give me a taste of my own medicine). He also wrote a recipe that reads, "STORT [start], BUTERFLI SPRINKLS, SINAMUN, HALUWEEN SPRINKLS," etc. .. He also created a new sensation, the "Bardino Burger," a tasty crustless sandwich with a filling of butter, salt and pepper, microwaved to warm perfection.

In other random news, on Friday night, a friend's child we were babysitting fell off the trampoline. Funny enough, the trampoline enclosure went up that night. At any rate, we - and the friend's child- are still alive and the kids are -at least currently- asleep. =]


Quotes of the Week:

Jared: "I'm going to have another Cars party for my next birthday and we're going to have a race with 200 laps!"

Camryn: "I'm going to have a baby soon, because I'm almost a grown up. You're a grown up when you are 14." -->
------------------------------- Postscript to "A Week at the Zoo":I forgot to add the part about our "zoo." Jared's new hobby is collecting insects. His first pet was "James," a garden spider that met it's unfortunate demise when mommy accidentally hit his spider bowl, turned it over and smashed him trying to catch him again. Jared was distraught, but after many tears and finding a new "James" he finally got over the tragedy (funny enough, he wasn't distraught at all when he accidentally brought James II to an unfortunate early demise. He also has caught a moth, a "rolly-oly" bug and several other species. So far we have managed to keep Jared's zoo outside on the deck.

Jared also built a nifty lego plane that has four engines: one fire, one steam, one electricity and one gas... I guess he's looking into alternate fuel sources already.


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