I grew up with the extraordinary priveledge of knowing my maternal and paternal grandparents (as well as 2 great-grandmothers, a great-grandfather, and even have some early memories of great-great grandparents too). Like my parents before me, at different times during my life, we have lived within walking distance of at least one set of grandparents. As a young child we lived with my maternal grandparents for a year, Grandma and Grandpa Jones, who owned restaurants (as did Grandma Jones' parents) and because of this I have grown up around people who love food, love to cook, and love to teach others to cook.
Our children are lucky to have one set of grandparents 2 blocks away, grandparents who love to have them over for some fun in the kitchen. And on the day these photos were taken my mom, aka Grandma, bought some locally made pizza dough, some sauce and cheese, tied aprons on Ben and Emma, and let them make their own pizzas. There was a little gentle instruction but for the most part she just stood back and let them go for it. Yes, it was a bit messy, and yes, some ingredients were eaten and not used on the pizzas, but what was best about this day was how their laughter filled the kitchen.
Not only did making their own pizzas give them each special appreciation for the food that was on their plates (they both said it was the best pizza they had ever eaten) but it reminded me that by adding a few extra minutes to the dinner routine, and being a little more patient when having them join me in meal preparation, will go a long way in giving both Ben and Emma that same love of being in the kitchen that I learned from my family.
Yes, it's true, I have an extra $42.79 burning a hole in my pocket this month because we are now potty-trained. And I say we are potty-trained because it has been a collected effort (thanks Dave for all the times you have literally run to the bathroom when the battle cry of "I gotta pee" sounds, and thanks to you big-brother Ben who has tolerated the ever mobile potty-chair with only a modicum of embarrassment and a lot of encouragement of your immodest sister who many a time insisted that only you could take her to the bathroom.)
We have survived pee on the floor, pee in the car-seat, pee on our bed (more than once, our comforter is now really, really clean and I just can't wait to get that EWEB bill), pee in the pants, and pee around, but not quite in the toilet.
I remember one of the things that went through my mind (after the usual elation, excitement, etc,) when I found out that I was pregnant with Emma (and besides the thought that everyone in our home was sleeping through the night and that was about to change, again) was "oh crap, everyone in our house goes to the bathroom by themselves, and now we will be diapering and potty-training, again..."
But after a couple of days of naked from the waist down (Emma, not the whole family), buying some big-girl underwear, moving the potty chair to the most convenient spot (outside, the living room, and even taking it along on a family beach vacation where when Emma spied her potty chair in the condo's bathroom she picked it up, hugged it, and exclaimed "my potty, I love you") we seem to be on the home stretch of potty training. Diapers are still worn at night but are often dry first thing in the morning. I haven't had to wash any bedding in days. And she has even peed on the road (not on the actual road but in public restrooms while we are out and about- and after using a few of them we may just start peeing on the road, but that is a different story for another day.)
And truly, the best thing about this potty-training story is how proud Emma is of herself. She exclaims "I a big girl" every time she goes and celebrates each success with a little song and dance. And I have heard more than one woman laughing out loud in an adjoining stall when Emma exclaims "I did it, I made pee" (maybe those public restrooms would be a little better if we all yelled that.)
So if you see me around with a paper cup of coffee in my hand from a chain-coffee store or a new lipstick on my lips don't go thinking we just won the lottery, I just have a little extra spending money this month that isn't going towards the purchase of diapers.
And that, to me, feels a little like winning the lottery.
What happens when you camp for less than 24 hours (or more correctly what DOESN'T happen when you camp for less than 24 hours)? Well, you don't get a chance to make s'mores. So what do you do instead- well you make them at home. You will need one box of graham crackers, half a Hershey's bar per person, and a bag of marshmallows.
Since we were without a campfire we made them in the microwave- it felt a bit like cheating and there was no golden (or blackened) crust to pull off the marshmallow, but it was still fun.
And this is how you make the 8 year old with over 70 mosquito bites happy:
Camping is one of our favorite summer rituals. The fresh air. The yummy treats. The time spent together "unplugged" from the telephone, tv, computer. The games. The laughing. And the stars, all those brilliant stars you can't see in the city.
So last Friday Dave took the day off, we packed up the van and headed off to one of our favorite campgrounds- Sand Prairie on the Middle Fork of the Willamette river, a sweet little spot with a great slow bend in the river for pitching rocks. We pulled into what is usually a fully packed area, surprised by the quiet and that is when the bad omens started.
Bad omen #1: no camp hosts, no usable toilets, no running water. no thanks.
So we went up the road 20 miles or so until we found a small campground with about 8 spots and running water.
Bad omen #2: only 2 other campsites were taken. Should have taken this as a sign.
But we soldiered on, setting up camp, putting up the tent, getting ready for dinner. Laughing. Snapping photos. Drinking lots of water. Running after Emma who decided the woods were her personal "play park". Bad omen #3: it was about 95 degrees out. And we could hear a lot of buzzing.
But Emma and Ben got into the box of games and art supplies and pulled out my childhood dominoes and played for around an hour.Bad omen #4: 5 minutes after we paid for 2 nights of camping we all had at least 2 mosquito bites. So I pulled out the Cutter and sprayed everyone down.
As the night wore on the mosquitoes got worse. I retreated to the tent with Emma, trying in vain to get her to sleep while Dave and Ben read in the van until they got too hot. Then they sat around the campsite, Ben rolled up his pant legs because of the heat. Unfortunately for him the mosquitoes found him irresistible and ate him alive.
We all fell asleep well into the night watching shooting stars and listening to the calls of the bats flying right over our tent and picking off mosquitoes for their dinner. Lovely.
By morning we had all had it. Ben exclaimed "I don't really want another night here in mosquito mansion."
We did have time for a quick cup of cocoa and a bowl of cereal before we broke down our campsite. Seriously, I want to go home... The Cutter just didn't cut it...must go for the all DEET formula next time. And the aftermath of so many mosquito bites: The weekend was not a total loss. We came home, got cleaned up, and sent Dave off to the movies. We ordered a pizza and watched "Clutch Powers" a new Lego movie. We slept in our own beds. We went swimming. We played. We laughed. We had donuts for breakfast. We kept telling stories about our less than 24-hour camping adventure.
And the best omen of all: we didn't see so much as one mosquito for the rest of the weekend.