July 30, 2008

Proud Parenting Moment 2,736

Today I decided that it would be a good idea to make peach jam and can some peaches. Growing up I can remember my Mom and Nonnie canning every summer - peaches, applesauce, pickles and, of course, tomatoes. So we pack up the van and head to Target for supplies.

While in Target I almost lost every bit of sanity I had!! The triplets were just little terrors!!! Parker and Peyton wanted to be held (because that is easy when I am pushing and pulling a cart), then they decided they were going to boycott sitting and stand up every other second! After sitting them down 157 times and putting the 10 items I needed in the cart we headed for the checkout.

Right before the checkout was a display of Hannah Montana shirts. Helena had mentioned that she liked one of them, so as I turn to look for her size (because she was a FANTASTIC LISTENER the entire trip) I hear a sales associate say "Hey little man, please sit down". As I look back Parker is standing on his seat in the cart yet again! Then Peyton decides to join in and she proceeds to tell me and my sons that "Little boys that stand in carts sometimes fall down"! while I am sitting then down for the 156th time of the trip. (157 happened in the checkout line)

My response should have been: Really?!?!?! You mean it is not a safe thing to do????? , but I just looked at her as she began to explain the dangers of little boys standing in carts to me and I said in a not so nice voice with hand gestures (like I was Italian) "I GOT IT!"

I am not an idiot - I know it is not safe and do you think it really lead to an enjoyable trip??? I am in this store at least once a week with my circus - last week was a trip of perfection - this week I did not even stop to get my Starbucks on the way out!! (That is my treat for surviving the trip to Target - good or bad.) Now I know I was rude and it was not an appropriate way to act - but please give me some credit here lady - I am shopping with 4 kids!!!

July 29, 2008

Peach Pickin'

This weekend was a disaster - all 4 of the kids got colds and of course Parker and Preston escalated to nebs by Saturday night. It is amazing what a normal cold can do to them!! Helena and Peyton - just colds. So after several days of nebbing, potentially cancelling our trip to the orchard with friends and proactively cancelling Angie spending a few days with us (Helena was mad!!!!!!!!!!!) because she is going on vacation this weekend............we woke up sounding like normal 2 year olds!

Yeah! Summer Sunshine here we come!! I could not wait to get out of the house and get them some fresh air.....not to mention getting some pent up energy out! So off to the orchard I went - 4 kids in tow (with no morning coffee because I hit snooze on the alarm). After 4 poopie diapers, yes 4, getting everyone dressed, lunch packed because I was tooo lazy to do it last night and packing up the van - we were off with 15 minutes to spare. This orchard - Godfrey's Farm - is a local place were I do almost all of my vegetable shopping for the week. Lisa, the owner, is also a MOM of twin girls and a super sweet woman!

We had 10 families from my MOMs club participate and it was so much fun to see how excited all of the kids got when they found "the perfect peach"! Helena was so funny, as soon as she saw Kenzie there (she is the only girl in her set of 2 year old triplets), she was done with me and off to help her girlfriend! Helena did a great job picking a 1/2 bushel of awesome looking peaches for me. Me and the boys hung out by the edge of the orchard (monkey backpacks and all) and collectively we picked a peck! They liked throwing the peaches they found on the ground at Ms. Lisa, the funny thing is she would throw it back - her farm she makes the rules right!!

After picking we headed to the park for some lunch and playtime.....they had a blast playing with a bunch of kids just like them. Leaving the park was not so easy, but hanging out with a group of friends who don't even blink at a tantrum is awesome! No one looks at you like you are going to put your kid in therapy for the rest of their lives!!

Helena, the boys and I had a really nice day that led to a nap for everyone but me. Trust me it did not go perfectly by some standards, but by mine it was pretty darn great! I love to create new traditions with the kids so we can make a point of doing it every year. Our large group of plenty had a great time and it is fun to spend time with my friends and their families. I am hoping to find a local orchard that grows apples so we can keep up our Pick Your Own tradition for our family and extended family.

July 23, 2008

How Does Your Garden Grow??

While I was growing up, my Grandfather always had a vegetable garden. When I was little I was in charge of the parsley bed and every Friday I would collect some to take to my Great Grandmother in Canton.

Every spring he would start his seeds and let them grow on the front porch until they were ready for planting. After planting, I loved to watch the garden grow and help him pick tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and squash.

Now I have my own garden to watch grow and this year we have doubled the size, for several reasons. 1 - Do you know how much 4 kids can eat?? 2- I use it as therapy!! I never mind planting, weeding, harvesting. This year we had some pumpkin seeds (from our composted soil) take root - that was a nice surprise. Best of all we have had a great yield.....over 20 zucchini, 15 squash, cucumbers, carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew, green peppers, broccoli, pumpkins, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, basil and of course parsley. We only lost our chives and green beans (Jason tilled them under thinking they were weeds).

Helena loves to help me pick the vegetables, especially the strawberries which hardly ever make it to the house!! There is something gratifying about making a salad with the vegetables you picked fresh that afternoon, I can't fully explain it. Some of the pumpkins are almost ready, so pies are on their way. Zucchini - let me count the ways....you would be surprised. Tomatoes and peppers - homemade spaghetti sauce, tomato sandwiches.

I am already thinking of what we can do next year to improve our garden - I know we will expand it one more time - have you seen the way my boys eat??? - and add a few more varieties. Plus, I want to add some raspberry bushes and fruit trees.

I hope my kids grow up with the same appreciation I have for "watching my garden grow"?

July 20, 2008

Summertime, Sweet Summertime

Summertime, Sweet Summertime.....what is it all about?

Perfect song on the radio
Sing along, 'cause it's what we know
It's a smile, It's a kiss
It's a sip of wine, It's summertime
Sweet Summertime

Remember when those lyrics spoke to us in a way that we totally understood because it was the life we were living! Now our lives have changed and Sweet Summertime has some new meanings (but that doesn't mean we have to give up the old ones or the memories of those days gone by!!).

The past few weeks since I have been back from AK have been a lot of fun, busy, but fun. Here are a few things that have made my summertime sweet.......

- the triplets have gone through another rite of passage - Fla-vor-ice pops! They love them - now I am not the biggest fan of giving the boys 100% sugar as a snack, but come on it's a kid thing!! Helena has taught them proper ice pop eating procedure, plus they even share and trade if they like the other ones flavor.

-going to the beach - Today we day tripped it to the beach for some fun in the sand, wave jumping and pony sightings. The kids did great!! Helena and Parker love to get in the water - Parker is a little dare-devil who loves to "jump waves". Preston likes to chase the waves back and forth while playing in the wet sand. Peyton for the first part of the day just wanted to be held while I stood in the water, but by the end of the day Jason had him chasing waves (with a pretzel bag in his hand, that by the way, did not get dropped even when he got smacked in the face by a little wave. That boy takes his snacking very seriously!!).

- pizza at Dough Roller - Why, I am not sure, but I love their pizza. I think it is because we can usually get through a dinner there with little to no issues and lots of eating in a reasonable amount of time. Plus what screams summer at the beach, besides Thrashers, Dumsers, Jessica's Fudge, etc.....you can tell where this is going!

- sitting on the deck watching the kids in the Kiddie Pool - Saturday we stayed at home and finished up the weekly "chores" - laundry, cleaning, grass mowing, etc. But after lunch the kids got in the little pool and just had a blast. There was a nice breeze blowing and the 4 of them were having a great time, which meant me and Jason were having a great time watching some harmony!

- GNO at the Rams Head - how great is it that we can declare a GNO and call it a date (because my husband, unlike some others I know, will make a point to be home on time so I can have a night off!)! I had a lot of fun at dinner and it was nice to get to know some new MOMs in our club a little better. Plus the food and drink was great....Lynchburg Lemon-aid anyone?

- Helena - before you know it, school will be back in session and we will not have so much time together baking, doing crafts, playing with the brothers in the moon bounce, etc. That little MISS can push my buttons to no end, she knows what she wants and will debate and negotiate until she gets it, but I secretly love that about her!! Don't get me wrong, she tries to wear me down and sometimes wins, but later in life that will be a great trait to have developed (for when she becomes President of the United States).

- going to the zoo - this could be a post all on its own, but I will give the concise version. Tuesday of last week I called Lauri to see if she wanted to go to the Maryland Zoo with us. She has boy twins the same age as the boys and a 4 yr old son, our kids have played together before and get along well. 6:15 that morning, my friend Beth calls in a panic, her sitter is sick and she just started a new job, can I watch Natalie - sure - what's one more!! I have already had the forethought to call my cousin Angie to help me out for the day and she has graciously agreed for the adventure.

At 10:30 am (2) adults, (1) teenager, (1) 4 year old, (2) 5 year old and (5) 2 year olds enter the zoo!! I have to say - we had a great day - we saw the new baby elephant Samson, then headed to do the "Maryland" side of the zoo. The boys, all 6 of them, loved the ducks so much I think we spent 15-20 minutes just looking at them. The otters were being fed, so that was a treat, they went thought the bat cave and saw the working farm animals.

By 1:15 my guys started to melt down, so after lunch we headed out (Parker showing how well his lungs work!!). Overall it was a nice day out with friends, the beauty of traveling with another MOM is that you go into it with realistic expectations of what a successful day really is with 11 people, 8 of them under 5!!

We decided our next trek is to the Washington Zoo, so watch out, we could be calling you to help chaperon this one!!!

I hope your Summertime is sweet and you are making lasting memories as well............

July 10, 2008

First Week Back To Work!

As Jason was running out the door Monday morning about 4:30 am he told me to "Have a good day!" and kissed me on the forehead like he has done every morning for the last 9.75 years! (And I seriously mean every morning he leaves for work he does this!!)

Back to work after a great vacation - a vacation that I could actually vacate - do you know I did not change a diaper for 7, count them 7 full days!!!!!!!! Don't get me wrong I missed all of my boys very much while I was gone, but I knew Dad would take care of everything while I was gone - no worries. Well one worry, "How long was it going to take me to get my boys back on schedule???"

Big Credit to Jason - while I was gone he took the triplets to the park (alone), out to dinner, to the zoo with his Aunt, to the Beach for 3 day with his parents and arrived back home in time to greet us at the gate when we got off of the plane (all 3 boys in tow)! Everyone was well fed (the fridge and pantry were empty) and of course the house was clean - anyone who knows my husband knows he has serious OCD!

So back to the schedule - It has taken me 4 days to remind the boys that Mommy likes to use the gate in the living room, but other than that and Helena still being on AK time, my van being in the shop for 4 days, me being on AK time and trying to reinstate the daily schedule while adding the required reading list and workbooks for Helena, plus starting to potty train the boys - we are doing OK!!

Honestly - I have only had to put myself in time out once a day for the last 4 days, so that is not tooo bad if you ask me!?!?!?! Tonight, as I was walking around the outlets looking for some onesies for the boys - they totally understand that you need to remove your diaper to sit on the potty, the problem is Parker and Preston always want to streak around the house, so snaps it is - I found this note pad (while looking at the Vera Bradley sale rack) with the best quote...

"Today is A Gift...That is Why it is Called the Present"

I love it - it gives me the reality check that I need when my boys are trying to push my buttons and H. is telling me that "I am not playing with you Mommy, now can I have some candy?". The reality is - I am truly blessed to have these little people in my life to push my buttons and repeat back to me what I say to them. Those crazy moments are totally outweighed by the fantastic, funny, great ones. I am blessed that I have a husband (of almost 10 years) who does not complain (often) when I need to venture out by myself to get it all back together so I can have an even better day tomorrow!

July 9, 2008

Alaska Day 5 and 6 - All Around Town

It is hard to believe that I am still on AK time - come on people at 2am I am still wide awake.....when will the madness end??

None the less here is a quick recap of Day 5 and 6 of our trek up north....

Day 5 - After waking up and getting everyone ready to go to the Dog Sled Show - we make a pit stop at the Alaska Fur Exchange where low and behold I found them, yes there they were just waiting for me to buy (because remember this is the only thing, with the exception of Big Louie's homemade salsa, that my husband asked me to bring him back) a 4 foot tall stack of Moose Antlers, which sat next to the kitchen table size pile of Caribou horns!! I was very excited that I did not have to go into the woods and track them myself. Did you know that when you pay for them, you buy them by the pound?? Yes, by the pound but I didn't waver because, bless his heart this trip was his idea to begin with, and although there was some grief here and there, he deserved them.

So as I make my $228.00 purchase ($214.00 for the antlers, $14.00 for my ivory earrings) I felt successful - my main mission was complete!!

Off to the show we go! The setup of the show was not fantastic by any means, but the people and information were wonderful. The first person you meet has run and finished the Iditarod 4 times, the next young lady is not yet 18 so she cannot run the race yet - however she had won several Jr. competitions and finally you meet Dallas Seave - his dad won in 2004 and he is the youngest person to ever finish the race at 18. After the show you could meet some of the dogs and hold several of the puppies. The kids really enjoyed their day.

Afterwards we went back to the house and got everyone ready to go over Aunt Jackies for dinner and a showing of "Camp Rock". The girls were very excited and so were P. and I because we got to have dinner at The Lucky Wish Bone -(think small town place Rachel Ray would go on one of her shows). It was the best - homemade onion rings, great burgers, etc. Then we went shopping downtown and I got some great handmade gifts for everyone.

Day 6 - We headed to the zoo and to the Imaginarium (think Port Discovery). Both places were fun, especially for the kids who could touch anything and everything they wanted. We headed to the Golden Arches for lunch in between and DQ afterwards. I love DQ! When we got home Georgia had grilled some burgers and we had dinner, and crashed (after blogging, a game of cards and doing some laundry)!

I have to say - here is where I get mushy - I really do miss P. It was great to see her and typically she is on a 12 hour time difference so calls are sometimes hard. She is the best Mom - hello people she traveled from Malaysia, had to get on 3 planes and flew for almost 24 hours with 3 kids?!?!) She pretty much ROCKS in my book! L. will be here this weekend - I know he misses them so much! It will be nice for all of them to have some family time at home, one of their US homes that is.

P. - thanks again for letting us crash your vacation - we truly enjoyed the experience and loved every minute of it. We will have to do it again in another 10 months.
G. and Big L. - without you guys this vacation would not have been as much fun as it was. Your hospitality and generosity was tremendous and we will forever be thankful for the memories you helped us create.
B - I will never forget how you crushed me at cards - I will have to practice and call for a rematch some day!

P.S. I forgot to mention that the antlers will be arriving around the 15th of this months, and the shipping cost more then the purchase price! But I guarantee you that we are probly the only house on the Shore that will have a pair hanging in their living room!

July 5, 2008

Alaska - Day 4 - Alaska RR and Resurrection Bay

Today we ventured to Seward by way of the Alaska Rail Road. To say the train ride was beautiful does not justly describe it. It was amazing to see the snow covered mountains, glaciers, wildlife, waterfalls, etc. When we arrived in Seward, we headed to the docks and boarded the Star of the Northwest for a boat tour of Resurrection Bay. Sewared reminds me a lot of Edgartown on Marthas Vineyard (minus the mountains of course!). The quait little towns where everyone makes you feel like you are at home.

While on the boat we got the girls binocculars to see the sights a little better. H.was so funny, because I do not really know what she saw out of them but she looked like a little explorer.

Heading out of the Seward docks we saw a Bald Eagle flying over head and he swooped down to catch a fish right in front of the boat (this part I missed, but everyone else saw it!!). We Cormorants. There were remnants of Copper mines in the side of the mountains, they were in use until the earthquake of 1964 when the land sunk 10 feet. Also in the side of the mountain is an old post from WWII when the area housed a fort, it was thought that Seward may be on the attack list because it was the big port at the time.

Just before arriving at the Gulf of Alaska we came upon some rocks covered in Stellar Sea Lions. They were just lounging on some cliffs and shorelines in the beautiful sun of the day. You could hear them growl and bellow from the boat. After rounding Barwell Island we saw the most amazing thing - the blow of a Humpback Whale. There is was, about 100 yards from the boat! The kids were going crazy, as well as the adults. We trolled for about 15 minutes to watch them swim by, showing off their tail flukes. When H. spotted a "blow" she was so excited - I told her she found him first!!

After that, we headed to Bear Glacier, again words cannot describe the sight. On this part of the trip is where we got to see the next amazing thing - a pod of 6 Orca Whales. Watching the dorsal fins break the water followed by the tail is just amazing. I will never look at Shamu the same way again!! In the Kenai Fjords there are 2 types of Orca pods, local and transient. Obviously we will never know which pod we saw, but I just thought that was interesting.

Now we were heading back to Seward, so P. and I were able to take a break and enjoy some dessert. I forgot to mention we were served a prime-rib and salmon dinner on the boat. We enjoyed some coffee and cheesecake and prepared for a relaxing ride back. When we arrived at the dock, we boarded the bus to the train and just made the last call.

The train ride home was nice, at one point we had to slow down because there was a moose running down the middle of the track! We got a chance to have dinner in the dining car and play some cards to pass the time. To remember her train ride H. chose to get each of her brothers a train whistle and she got a wooden train.

Needless to say we were very tired when we reached the house around 10:30 pm - our day started at 4:00 am. H. fell asleep in the car on the way home and all I had to do was carry her in and get her in her jammies.

Tomorrow we hunt for moose antlers.....

Alaska - Day 3 - Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Portage Glacier and Alyeska Ski Resort

If you ever have a chance to look at a map of Alaska, you will notice that there is usually one way to anywhere you can get to by car. The highway system is very minimal. In fact, if you want to go to Whittier, you have to wait in your vehicle until the train goes through the only tunnel and they open it up to cars. This is the road we traveled today. On one side of the 2 lane road is mountains with Dall Sheep on them, on the other is Cook Inlet and the mud flats.

On our way to Portage, we visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. As we pulled in Helena screamed and jumped out of her seat - there it was - a MOOSE! She was so excited just does not describe her enough. The park was great - we saw coyote, black bear, bison, sitka, elk, etc. For a non-profit organization they do a great job. Before we left, we got to watch a black bear wake up from a nap in a tree and shimmy his way back down.

When we reached Portage it was cold!! It was also amazing to see snow covered mountain tops in June. The glacier is not actually visible from the road anymore, it has moved behind the mountains. You could see the Burns Glacier and the Shakespeare Glacier. There was also a small ice burg floating in the Portage Sea. We toured the visitors center and a Ranger was giving a talk about moose. The kids were very attentive to the talk, so was I. I wish I could give you more information about the area, but the pamphlet I picked up is in German!! Needless to say the area is beautiful.

After Portage we headed over to Alyeska Ski Resort and yes, 4 trails were open. They got a late snow in May! Most people were hiking from the new hotel to the top, but we took the tram up and back down. The kids had a snowball fight when we reached the top. Most of the trails on this side of the resort are double black diamond. The tram driver and I got to talking and he actually grew up in Maryland, Denton to be exact (20 minutes from where I live now!) The area itself reminds me of Deep Creek Lake with all of the cabins and such around the base of the mountains. P. said this is where they would come to spend weekends with friends growing up.

After that, we headed back to Casa de Monzon and were greeted with a great chicken dinner. Georgia and Big Louie really took care of us during our trip. Their hospitality was unbelievable and we could not be thankful enough!! We got a local lead on some antlers thanks to Georgia, so Tuesday we will see what we can find....

July 1, 2008

Alaska - Day 2 - Downtown Anchorage

Having a "local" as your tour guide is the best, especially when it is your friend!

Saturday morning we got up and headed to the Saturday Market with H. and Malloree. Madeline went fishing with her Papa and Matthew stay home with Nanny Georgia. The market was bustling with all kinds of vendors, craftors and food. (Think Thurmont on a smaller scale.)

After walking the market for a while we headed over to the Anchorage Brewing Company where we met Louie's sister Jackie and son for lunch. I had a draught root beer and fish and chips for lunch. At home the fish is usually New Zealand Cod, here it is Alaskan Rock or Halibut - I went for the halibut. It was really good along with the Parmesan Fries. The building also houses the Imaginarium, an interactive museum for kids but we will visit that when Madeline is with us.

The center street of Anchorage was closed for the Fireman's Challenge so we headed over there next. They did some safety demos and several of the surrounding Stations did an obstacle course in full gear. The girls loved it, especially when they turned on the fire hose.

After that we headed back to the market for some more shopping and rounded out our day with some kettle corn. I got some great pictures of the city and surrounding areas.

After heading home for some rest and an easy dinner of pizza (Pam and I went to Costco to pick it up) we just prepared for Sunday. The one thing J. keeps asking for is a set of Moose Antlers, so we did some research on that as well. Thanks to Big L, we had some leads on where to get them.

So far no Moose sighting though....

Alaska - Day 1 - The Arrival

Friday - June 27

So there we were 4:30 am getting the van ready to head to BWI. The boys were wondering what they were doing up before the sun, H. was ready to go and so was I. J. drove us to the airport with a speedy drop-off right at 6:30. We had just enough time to grab a coffee and snack before heading to our plane for a 7:30 departure.

The plane ride to Houston was about 3 hrs. and went by pretty fast at that hour. The 3 hour delay to get on the plane to Anchorage, not so fast, but we made the best of it and I found a Brighton Store right by Starbucks! What more could a country girl ask for.....

The 7 hour flight to Anchorage was pretty awesome - we could see the mountains for miles and we even got to see Mt. Rainer. H. didn't start to melt down until the last hour, that was not too bad since she had been on a plane for 10 hours at that point. When we arrived in Anchorage (9:45 pm east coast time) we were met at the gate by Ms. P., Madeline and Malloree. It was so great to see them - the kids are so big and P. looks great!! When we got back to G. and L.'s house dinner was just about to hit the table and H. could not have been happier - tacos, rice and beans!! What more could she have asked for....

After visiting for a little while, we headed to bed and totally crashed - it was 10:00 pm here, but my body was reminding me it was 2:00 am and had been up for 22 hours. Oh and it is summer, so there is no nighttime - only dusk! (Try explaining that to a 5 year old.)