Archive | February, 2012

Happy Leap Year!

29 Feb

I always recognize Leap Year, being that it is the anniversary of my 1st date with my husband.  It makes it easy to not forget this little milestone and I like that we only have to acknowledge it every 4 years.  Not a huge deal, just makes the day a little more special in our house.

Well, this year I had another motive.  A couple of weeks ago, for Valentine’s Day, I really went all out for my kids.  I even packed them a special themed lunch to celebrate the day of love.  The response was far from excitement (except from my daughter).  My second grade son was horrified and my youngest son even told his kindergarten teacher  that I’m really embarrassing sometimes.  Really?  They are little kids.  It’s not like I showed up to school dressed as a cupid!  I think they just need to be trained a little better…Happy Leap Year Kids!  I hope you enjoy your lunch…

Little Boys and Danger!

28 Feb

As the proud Mom to 3 active sons, I am still constantly blown away by this boy thing .  The way they think and the things they do are so totally foreign to me. I realize that my boys are a bit more active than most kids and I admit that my boys can be “that” kid.  I have been mothering boys for over a decade and I still am totally amazed by their creativity and desire for danger.  In between jumping from the the middle of the staircase down and hitting each other with sticks & foreign objects, they still manage to find the energy and brain power to think of even more danger and destruction.  Really nothing is surprising anymore and it takes a lot to shock me.

This past weekend, my 2 youngest little men decided to create a homemade roller coaster of sorts.  Somehow among all the proper toys in the garage (bikes, scooters & skateboards) they found an old gardening cart.  Actually, it is just a storage container for an unused bag of fertilizer.  We don’t use it any more as a cart, because the wheels are a little off track.  The older of the 2 convinced his younger brother to hop in and  get ready for the ride of a lifetime.  After a running push start through the garage the real adrenaline rush began.  Down the driveway, off the curb, he flew across the street, popped back up the curb and finally the grass in the neighbor’s yard stopped him, just feet before hitting a tree.  Sound fun? It must be a guy thing.  In the 15 minutes that I thought they were riding bikes on the circle, they must have repeated this 50 times.  Over and over.  The fertilizer bag had ripped and a white powdery dust followed behind appearing like smoke coming form their homemade race car.  But hey at least they remembered a helmet and safety goggles (a.k.a. sunglasses).  Dad had witnessed this little invention of theirs and really didn’t think much of it, but mean Mom didn’t quite see this as harmless fun.  They were so incredibly proud of their invention. I bit my tongue, let each one show me their bravery, and snapped a couple of pictures.  The cart has now been officially retired.

The teenage years are going to be interesting for sure.  I better say my prayers and hope for the best…

Costa Rica by Land

24 Feb

This past summer, our family set out for a jungle adventure of a lifetime.  Off we flew to the beautiful and amazing country of Costa Rica. We couldn’t wait to see the monkeys, toucans and hopefully a few sloths.  Costa Rica has so much to see and so many incredible places to visit.  With a timeline of only 10 days, I planned carefully and settled on 2 different areas to visit.  Both locations were a bit of a distance from each other, but what’s a couple hundred miles?  I then had to make the decision if we would catch jumper flights or just hit the roads of Central America.  When traveling with 6 people, cost is always a consideration.  Also, I want to keep in perspective that trips with my kids are meant to be a learning experience as well.  So with little hesitation, I decided we would travel by land and make it an adventure while exploring the country.  Reflecting back, I am thankful that I at least had enough sense to hire a driver to to the driving.

The family loaded into a nicely air conditioned 12 passenger van and the bickering between kids began.  There were 4 rows and 6 people.  Really it’s simple math, each person can’t  have their own row.  Also, only 2 people can sit in the front row, not 4 kids.  This was the theme of every stop we made.  As for stops, we made a lot, so there was a lot of fighting.  Also, hiring a driver meant that we had another person in the van and they were in control of the driving.  It makes it hard for us parents to threaten to pull over and leave the kids on the side of the road, in the middle of a foreign county, to help stop the bickering. I knew things must have been bad when the tour guide moved to the back and politely insisted that my middle schooler sat up front with the driver.  So, we resorted to bribery of anything with sugar and it managed to keep the peace (somewhat).

We drove through amazing small villages & surf towns, near the highest elevations of Costa Rica, chatted with locals, and made our own sugar cane juice.  Our tour guide had binoculars and could spot wildlife out of nowhere.  It was amazing!  The kids observed the world around them and actually asked amazing questions through the teasing, crying, fighting, and spills. We were going to survive and maybe not totally lose our sanity…so we thought.  The last hour of the longest day ever (the only 200 mile day..haha), was the longest hour of our trip.  My 7 year old said, “I’ve seen enough damn toucans and I am DONE”!  (We can thank his wonderful language to his viewing of the Jack Ass movie on the redeye flight to CR as Dad slept peacefully).  As parents know, when one link in the family unit falls apart the whole thing can get very ugly.  We did arrive to our destination and didn’t leave any of our kids on the side of the road.

As the shock of the longest day ever wore off and the reality set in, I realized what we had experienced.  We covered the gound of one of the most beautiful places in the world.  My kids saw things they would have never seen from a plane.  I laugh about it now and I wouldn’t change a thing.  We created the most amazing memories with our family, but next time I think we’ll stay away from 200 mile drives!

Family Ski Day

21 Feb

I grew up skiing with my family.  I loved to ski as a kid and I still love to spend several days a year racing down the the beautiful mountains.  Like many other parents, I have this crazy vision of our entire family carving down the mountain in harmony.  All 6 of us, laughing and enjoying each others company on a beautiful powder day.  Just a thought.  For those of you who have tried skiing with kids or see other families attempting this task, you know what I’m talking about.  This is just not the reality.  There are two types of  kids out on the slopes.  First, you have that no fear, all out, straight down, X-games loving kid.  The over type is the dramatic, claiming to be frost bitten and dehydrated, crying, drama queen (or little prince).  There is no in between, it is one or the other.  This leads to one type of parent on the slopes with their kids…an exhausted parent.  My simple solution to not pushing myself totally over the edge is Ski School for the kids while I get in some real vertical feet.  We always end the day with a couple of fun runs together as a family.  Mom is relaxed, the kids skills and and confidence have improved, and everyone is happy (for the most part).

I have been lucky enough to visit many resorts in the Western United States while growing up and in my pre-kid life.  What used to make for a great resort is much different than what I would find now as an ultimate resort for families.  Bigger isn’t better and steeper isn’t the winning ticket for me.  The ultimate destination for me now must have easy parking (who wants to walk a mile while trying to herd kids) and a great place to have a leisurely mid afternoon appetizer and beer. These two things top my list and set the standard for the perfect ski day.  If I’m going to be really picky, having a resort that can offer nice wide runs for my beginners, short lift lines, and a great school make it a perfect 10!  Almost sounds to good to be true?

Yesterday morning we drove 30 minutes from Salt Lake City through the beautiful Big Cottonwood Canyon to Solitude Mountain Resort.  This resort is small enough to let your tween take a couple runs on their own, yet large enough to entertain and challenge the best of parents.  Great ski school, amazing food and drinks, no crowds and high speed lifts. Heaven!  After a full day and tired legs we walked steps back to the car, ended with some quick snow play time and called it a success for all!  The best part of all is that we tired them out…all 4 of them!

Mexican Grocery Trip

17 Feb

I am a huge fan of exploring the local culture of the places we visit.  I want my kids to get away from the fancy hotels and touristy shops and learn about how real people live in other parts of this amazing world we share.  What better way to learn this skill then by grocery shopping right alongside the locals?

Our Playa del Carmen, Mexico grocery excursion was well planned, just as all our vacation plans.  I researched stores, distances from our condo and how we would safely return with 4 kids and bags full of groceries.  Check.  I’m a planner and I have this I thought.  Let me 1st tell you that a one mile walk at 9 a.m. in 90 degree weather with more humidity than you can imagine sucks!  The streets were uneven, sidewalks were missing, kids were complaining, and did I say that it was really hot?  I can’t forget to mention that I enjoyed one more cerveza than I should have the night before and the double shot iced latte wasn’t helping make the walk any easier.  After a couple wrong turns and a few circles around the block we had arrived to our shopping destination, Mega!  I don’t think a grocery store has ever looked better.  All I could think of was air conditioning!

My vision of a relaxing and leisurely shopping trip was thrown away as fast as I walked through the doors.  The place was packed.  I don’t mean packed like Costco the day before Thanksgiving packed…it was insane.  Extended families with a lot of kids, screaming babies, and grandparents along for the ride.  Obviously, I didn’t realize that it was payday in Mexico and shopping was a full family event.  We navigated through the store with aisles full of boxes, wood pallets, and people restocking shelves.  We managed to get some of what we needed, learn that avocados were sold out, and not permanently lose any of our  children.  We filled 2 carts, spent over $300 and left with food for only 1 dinner and about a  month worth of snacks.  But hey, we did purchase Hello Kitty toilet paper (you never know when that may come in handy).  We hopped into a beat up Nissan Sentra taxi surrounded by all of the junk we bought, never went back, and ate out all but 1 dinner.  Lesson learned…have the refrigerator stocked  when you arrive at your destination and look for that cultural experience in a cute and charming local market.  While a nightmare at the time, that had to be one of the top 3 travel stories to make us laugh!

The saying says, “A picture says a thousand words”.   Well, this one lies.  We sure look like a calm and relaxed family after a successful and educational grocery shopping experience.  Not exactly the case…


Another Holiday…

16 Feb

As an insanely busy Mom of 4, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by every crazy little holiday.  I feel like every time I get on the internet or turn on morning TV, there is another little “holiday” being shoved down my throat.  I’ll admit, I feel a little guilty at times. I’m not terrible about remembering the big holidays, but I surely can’t say the same about all of these small holidays.  I’m really inconsistent.  Celebrating each and every holiday always sounds like a great idea.  I always have big plans 3 months in advance to serve a Ground Hog Day themed dinner or plan a cute little Earth Day celebration.  But really??  Life just gets in the way sometimes.  Somehow, this Valentine’s Day, all the stars aligned and  I made it happen.  Decorated table, little gifts, fancy breakfast, personalized placemats, balloons & flowers and even a LOVE themed lunch.  Wow!  I think I rocked this one…

As the kids awoke on Valentine’s Day morning, the reality of why these small holidays drive me crazy occurred to me.  I re-evaluated if the grocery store trip for balloons at 9p.m. the night before and 4 hours of sleep was really worth it.  I had one kid mad about their gift, another sad that I only wrote 8 sweet things about them, last minute homework dilemma, wardrobe melt down, 3 fights, a barking dog, a spill and a too cool 2nd grader that was horrified by the themed lunch.  I couldn’t get them out the door fast enough! Barely keeping my cool, I finally got my 4 Valentines off to school.  I was then able to finally begin my day doing kitchen damage control before running to multiple class parties among hundreds of wild and sugar filled kids.  All I could think about was if that was fun?!?!  Exhausting – yes!

The crazy sugar and party filled day quickly came to an end.  As I sat in my messy kitchen while eating bad takeout, my kids reflected on their day.  They all decided the best part of the whole day was lemonade in champagne glass.  It shows me again how simple kids can be and made me realize that all my hard work creates a memory.  But next time, I think I’m going to skip the hard stuff and go right to the champagne glasses with juice!