Sunday, June 26, 2011

And the winner is....

Anonymous.  Seriously.

I had an anonymous comment, so just as a joke, I included her in the drawing.  Of course she won.  But, as Ann Onymous was vague as to her exact location, (She didn't even give me a fake name!) I had to draw again.  Actually Jonah did the drawing.  He thought the whole thing was great.  He even wore his Jelly Belly t-shirt for the occasion.  So, why does his picture, taken with the winning entry look like a mug shot? 

Rebecca S.  from Letters to the World is our lucky winner!  Congratulations, Rebecca!  Just e-mail your address and your jelly beans will be posted forthwith.  As for the rest of you, don't be haters.  Go over and visit Rebecca.  She's Canadian.  Everyone likes Canadians, right?

As for this space here, I may be away for a short time.  I have a little extra help with the kids the next few weeks, so I am catching up on all of the housework I neglected during school.  I want everything to be spick and span and organized for when school starts up again in August.  Only six weeks left of summer for us.  I'm already excited.  So, miss me, people, miss me.  (I can't possibly stay away that long.)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

International Sam of Mystery

Samuel has taken to wearing disguises.

He calls them disguises.

I call them extra laundry.

I'm glad he is able to express himself.

Now, if only he would learn to fold.

Just a reminder that the Uno, Dos, Tracey Jelly Belly Give-Away is still going on.  Make sure you check it out; follow the link and leave a comment.  All that sugar-y goodness in a decorative tin can could be yours.  You still have a 1 in 12 chance!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Jelly Belly Field Trip and a Give-Away. Yay, Give-Aways!

It is officially summer vacation, for almost officially everyone.  Since we homeschool, day to day life has not changed much, except that there is no school.  In it's place: swim lessons, family visits, and field trips.  Yay, field trips!

A few weeks ago, my brave and adventurous mother, known forevermore, and to all, as Nana (Okay, maybe not to all, but to all who matter.  Me, my sister, our spouses, our kids.), offered to take us to the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, California.  Yay, Nana!

Samuel, Baby Lucas, Tante Tricia, Me, Catherine, Jonah, and Nana rocking the mandatory paper hat before our tour.
Have you ever heard of Jelly Bellies?  They are gourmet jelly beans.  They started with eight flavors and now have over fifty, like pomegranate, chili-mango, and buttered popcorn.  If those flavors are too exotic for you (buttered popcorn is gross), they also have licorice, green apple, watermelon, and strawberry jam.  My favorite is cinnamon.  Yay, cinnamon!

President Ronald Reagan was a big fan when he was Governor of California, and took his passion national when he became President.  A special jar was made for his desk in the oval office, and on Air Force One, just to hold his Jelly Bellies.  When news of this spread, so many curious candy eaters ordered them, that the poor Jelly Belly people, caught unawares, were seventy weeks behind on orders.  No fear of that now.  They run a huge, state of the art processing plant.  Tours are free and include a Jelly Belly Portrait Gallery, and samples.  Yay, samples!

President Ronald Reagan made entirely our of Jelly Belly beans.

Again, entirely our of Jelly Bellies.

I brought my three kids, and my sister brought her one baby.  That was a ratio of three adults to four kids.  Baby Lucas was pushed around, strapped securely in his carriage.  We knew we could trust Jonah and Sam to locomote and not wander too far (we had their sugar).  But, Cate was a different story.  We weren't taking any chances.  We kept her on a very short leash.  Yay, toddler leash!

They told me this leash was the latest in pre-school fashion.  I was deceived.

Yes, look closely.  I am tied to a chair.

I'm not going to let it stop me though.

Of the four kids we took, only three had teeth.  Now, only two do.  It was like Halloween, and the Easter Bunny, came all in one day.  Yeah, they were a little hyper restless, vomiting nauseated and crying tired at the end.   But, we had it under control.  (See leash above.)  And it was worth it!  Yay, worth it!

So. much. sugar.

Now for the moment you have been waiting for.  The BIG Jelly Belly Give Away.  Jelly Belly Jelly Beans come in fifty flavors, forty-nine* of which are featured in this box, and I am giving it away to you.  Yes, you!  Well, one of you.  Just leave a comment here, or on Facebook, and you will be entered to win.  The drawing will be held seven days from today.  (Any longer than that, and I am likely to eat the prize.)  Good luck!  (Nana and Tante Tricia not eligible.)

*Forty-nine flavors, not forty-nine beans.  There are a whole bunch of beans.

To learn more about the family business that changed the jelly bean, you can go to the Official Jelly Belly Website.  They also make the most amazing candy corn, so book mark it for October, when you will be in need of just such a confection.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Week in Kids

It's been a long time since I have posted The Week in Kids.  But, it is summer and I have more time.  And, it is summer and we are crazy busy.

This week...

Tante Tricia (my sister) came to visit.

She brought ice cream.

And, baby Lucas.

What?  They won't let me have any ice cream.  What else am I supposed to do?

Also this week...

...the boys had their first ever swim lessons.  They are in the Seahorse class, which is only one step above the Starfish class.  As Sam pointed out, "Starfish can't swim."  Neither can you baby.

Also this week...

...we went to the Jelly Belly Factory (more on that to come) and ate jelly beans until our teeth rotted out of our heads.

Also this week...

There are movies on the ceiling at this dentist.  They don't make his teeth any stronger.

...Sam had to go to the dentist (again), only to confirm that his teeth have, in fact, rotted out of his head.  He has cavities in fourteen of his twenty teeth.  We're talking root canals and caps and stuff, under general anesthesia.  This is not happy news.

Also this week...

...I gave Cate a tub of water and some plastic dishes, so she could "do dishes" just like Mommy.  She promptly took off all her clothes and jumped in.  Uh...she never learned that from me.

Also the week...

...Cate got a new swim suit.  Which she insisted on trying on.  Immediately.

And, posing in.

Okay, what is this about?  Supermodel pout, working the tutu swimsuit over pajamas look.

Also this week...

...we returned Tante Tricia's visit with one of our own.  Uncle Jim gave lawn mower rides.  (And, launched rockets, but more on that later, too.)

See you next week!!! (maybe)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sam's Incredible and Pizza

You may think that there is no such thing as a skee ball injury, but you'd be wrong.

Do you remember last week, when I said, and I quote, eh-hem "When you have three kids, it is very rare that any one of them gets to spend time alone with both parents...We can't afford to get a sitter for two, so that both Mommy and Daddy can take one out..."

All still true.  But we don't have to pay Nana.  Which means we can afford her.  (Love you, Mom.)  Last weekend, Nana took Jonah and Cate to stay overnight with her, while Sam got to spend a whole bunch of time alone with Mommy and Daddy.

Sam alone is like a fish out of water.  As the middle child, he spends most of his time tagging along with Jonah, or trying to keep Cate from tagging along with him.  But he adapted quickly.  As a huge treat (and to make up for the fact that we did not have the good sense to have him first or last) we took him to a place called, John's Incredible Pizza.  And it was...incredible.

The first thing we did was take ourselves on a little tour of all the different rooms to sit in.  There is, among others, a cartoon room, with huge screens running cartoons, a sports room, with huge screens running sports, and a log cabin room, with no screens at all.  There is a fireplace and big wooden beams, with a pheasant and hunting dog motif.  As the modern, sub-urban, American family wouldn't know how to hunt anything that wasn't on a screen, this room was completely empty.  So, we decided to sit there.  But not until we hit the arcade.

I played skee ball.  Sam played a car racing game, a motorcycle riding game, and a spaceship flying game.  I played skee ball.  Sam rode a horse, a rocket ship, and a giant frog.  I played skee ball.  Sam shot things, beat me (I let him win) at the water pistol game, and bowled five frames.  I played skee ball.  Sam talked me into sitting with him on hard, formed plastic reclining chairs pointed at a screen, while the chairs jerked along in time to the movie shown thereon. This, by the way, jiggles one around quite a bit, and, in hindsight, is not fit for any adult woman over, oh...ninety-five pounds.  I played skee ball.  I also rubbed some Crisco on my hips to get on the kiddie coaster, as he was not tall enough to ride alone.  Minor public humiliations suffered to a soundtrack of pop hits from the eighties.  When was the last time you listened to Howard Jones or Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam?  I ask you.

So you see, I was there for my son.  I participated, I watched, I clapped and cheered like a dutiful mother.  Though, I confess, that during any lull in the activity, I sneaked away to play skee ball, like a pack-a-day smoker trying to get at a lit cigarette.  I love, love, love skee ball.  I always have.  But, now I'm rusty.  My scores were low.  I hurt my back.*  It was sad.  But, I have become a world class whac-a-mole player.  As the mother of three small children, I have had lots of practice.

After about an hour of building up our immune systems by touching everything in the arcade, we settled in for a buffet lunch.  This place does not mess around.  They had fifteen different kinds of pizza, and a well appointed salad bar.  The buffalo chicken pizza was my favorite, and I am emphatically against poultry on pizza.  They have a spicy peanut butter pizza too, but I declined.  Sam's choice was macaroni-and-cheese pizza.  That's right folks, macaroni-and-cheese pizza.  You have to hand it to them, they know their crowd.

They also make something called "nacho pizza" which must be quite popular.  The pan was empty when we went by.  Then, as we were eating, they made an announcement, and you could tell it was a big deal, that the nacho pizza was ready, come and get it.  This was followed quickly by the sounds of obese people in $90 "athletic" shoes power-waddling to the buffet.  (Okay, I shouldn't be so harsh.  If they had said "nacho cheesecake," for example, I might have thundered along with the herd.)

Arcade games and a buffet lunch.  We, the adults, were sated.  Sam however, had one more thing he wanted to do.  Dance, on the hearth of the Cabin Room fireplace, for a rapt audience of two.

It was incredible.

*I may very well have hurt my back trying to dislodge my girth from the kiddie coaster, but do you see how I dropped one factual sentence next to another, thereby implying that they are connected?  Is it my fault if people jump to the wrong conclusion I want them to jump to?  This is a law school education at work people.

[The pictures that don't include Sam were taken from the John's Incredible Pizza Facebook page and HERE.]

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bend it like...

Do you remember the moment your oldest child figured out you are mortal?  My moment came last week.

I have always wanted to be a mom.  I have never wanted to be a soccer mom.  I am fine with mini-vans, juice boxes, and sun screen bought in bulk.  I just don't want to spend every Saturday morning, for the next fifteen years, sitting on the sidelines of a soccer field.  And, that's not even counting the practices.

Unfortunately, you can not be any kind of mom with out a kid.  And, my kid seems to be better at kicking a ball than pretty much any activity he has tried.  I don't want to be a bad mom, so we have enrolled Jonah in a soccer class.  It only meets once a week, on Friday nights.  This I can live with.  If he loves it, I may need to take it like a big girl; pull up my mom jeans and a camp chair, because Saturday morning soccer it will be.

So far, he has had two classes.  Afterwards, we go out for frozen yogurt, just the two of us.  I miss that one-on-one time, now that school is out.  We have the best conversations.

"Mom, I'm pretty good at soccer," he said, after his second class.


"Yeah.  Except sometimes I trip over the ball."  This is true.  I have seen it.  He is getting better, though.  He gets up a lot faster now.

"Well, honey, sometimes that happens," I said, knowing how easily he can get frustrated.  "You can't be good at everything right away.  You will get better with practice."

"Why can't I be good at something right away?"

"You just can't."  You can't, can you?  I mean, it's never worked for me.  "Even the best soccer player in the world had to learn how to play first.  And then he had to practice."

"Who's the best soccer player in the world?"

"Honestly, I have no idea."  I am going to be a really bad soccer mom.  "I know who the most famous soccer player in the world is."


"David Beckham.  He's from England."  All I know about soccer I learned from People Magazine.

"Is he good?"

"Oh, I'm sure.  I think being good is what made him famous."

"Maybe I'll be like him someday."

"Maybe," I said.  Minus the tats and the plastique wife, I thought.  Posh, my foot.

"Can we go see him?"  See him?  See him how?  See him play?  On the street?  For tea?  Doesn't matter.  The answer is the same.

"I don't think so," I said.

"Why not?  Won't the Queen let you in?"  How did this get to be my fault?

"No.  I don't think the Queen much cares.  I can get in to England."  Okay, so I was a bit defensive.

"Well, we should go to England and meet him."  Sure.  It's that easy.

"Honey, it's not that easy.  He's famous.  All kinds of people want to meet him.  I wouldn't even know where to find him."

"Call him up and ask him."

"I can't just call him up.  It's doesn't work like that."

"Why not?" he asks.  Why not, indeed.  The child's line a reasonable, yet ridiculous questions had me off balance.  I was now engaging in this debate.

"Well, for starters, I don't have his number."

"You should get it," he says, all matter of fact like.

"I can't get it."

"Forget it," he said, resigned and disgusted.  "I'll have Daddy call him."

{I borrowed the art above from an article at}

Friday, June 3, 2011

She Is Not Practicing to be a Drunk Sorority Girl

Yes, this is a picture of my daughter, wearing hand-me-down boy-pajamas, hugging a toilet.  How, you ask, did I come to have a picture of my daughter, wearing hand-me-down boy-pajamas, hugging a toilet?

I blame the size of the house.

Our house is the smallest one in our neighborhood.  Twelve hundred square feet, three bedrooms, two bathrooms.  Don't misunderstand, I am not complaining.  I love this house.  Its is a sufficient blessing, and we are happy to have it.  I also know, that by world-wide standards, I live in a mansion.  With clean running water and electricity.  Refrigerator, gas stove, central heat and air, flushing toilets (like the one my daughter is hugging).  In several countries, I am a queen.  I appreciate this bounty.

My guests, however, may not share my world view.  And, they must use the children's bathroom.  I do my best to keep it visitor-friendly.  No urine on the toilet, no toothpaste in the sink.  It may be a low standard, but it is higher than it could be.

To this end, I have worked with the children, to use a paper towel to wipe their face, and then the sink, after they brush their teeth.  "Make sure all the blue is gone," I tell them.  Then go throw the paper towel in the garbage.

Cate has become very good at this.  But, when she started, she was inclined to toss the paper towel in the toilet.  "No, no,"  I told her.  "We don't throw paper towels in the toilet.  They make the toilet sick."  She was upset at this.  She did not want to make the toilet sick.  She's very sweet that way.

So now, after she throws the paper towel in the trash can, she leans over and hugs the toilet.  "I yuv my potty," she says.  Everyday.

That is how I came to have a picture of my daughter, wearing hand-me-down boy-pajamas, hugging a toilet.