So here's what's been happening these past few weeks, but in the abridged version:
We moved to Florida. The end.
No, really, there's more but I'm not totally sure it's worthy of the play by play. One thing I do know is that I can't relax. Not even for a second. Not even while sitting on a lounge chair near the pool of the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed in. But first, some background.
We, meaning the six of us, left NY (okay, NJ) this past Monday morning. We packed up the van with more things than we probably should have and headed down to the auto-train out of somewheresville, Virginia.
This was the longest drive we have ever taken, with kids or without. We're just not road trip kind of people. Never have been and after this trip, never will be. We left at 8:08 am and arrived at the auto-train at 3:03, exactly 33 minutes too late to utilize our "preferred car unloading status".
When I first made the auto-train/Amtrak reservation I was told that for a mere fifty dollars extra I could have my van be one of the first 25 cars unloaded off the train. Who wouldn't want they? I was all over it, telling Josh that this was going to be the best $50 we ever spent. And it would have been, had we been told that "preferred loading" must be before 2:30pm. Hmm.
We also weren't told that the latest time to load your car was 3pm. No exceptions. Except for the exception. Like today. Because there was a huge accident on I-95, they held the train for us, because they thought we were on I-95. We didnt admit we were just late, and had been nowhere near i-95, there was no point.
We grabbed our stuff from the car, the kids and headed to the train. We did hear one of the workers behind us say something like, "oh man, how are those people going to get all that stuff onto the train!" but I can only assume he was talking about some other family who had an ever bigger cooler than us and more than seven bags because a big cooler and seven bags is totally normal for an overnight train ride, right?
After much maneuvering, we reached our sardine can, I mean room, on the train and it was at that moment that I understood why Amtrak recommends one small bag per person.
After spending a very very (very) long night on an upper bunk (don't ask), we arrived at the other end of the auto-train tracks, somewheresville, Florida. The big signs outside the train read "Orlando, Fl" but I know for a fact this wasnt Orlando, so I'm guessing this was something like what happened to my sister-in-law when she was in Israel.
The conversation went something like this:
Other guy: where are you guys from?
Other guy: oh! Me too! Where in NY?
Sis-in-law: um, NJ.
So I'm guessing that the people who live near the auto-train kind of wish they live in Orlando.
Anywho, our van was number 273 coming off the train. That, if you're still with me here, is definitely not one of the first 25 cars off the train.
This story is taking super long so I will just say that three hours after we got off the train, we arrived at the fanciest hotel I've ever seen in St. Augustine, Fl.
And that's where this story started, sitting at the pool and watching the kids swim and/or hold on to the walls of the pool. And where I can't relax. Because I have what seems like 4573 boxes to unpack, with no shelves upon which to do so.
If you have been following along for a while now, you will remember how fond I was of the built in shelves in my porch - and which we no longer have now that we have moved down south.
And that's where I am now, kinda standing around with lots of boxes thinking hmmm, I kinda wish I could have taken those built-ins with me. But I guess that's kind of the point of built-ins. You can go ahead and think about that now, I'll wait for you; I spent a lot of time pondering that today.
This moving story is taking quite a while to tell and even longer to type on my iPhone so I'm going to stop here before I need to get myself a pair of reading glasses with the promise to continue then story soon.
Thanks for sticking with me through this.
Be back soon,
Do you know what happens when you clean up the attic so you can show the house to potential renters?
You have this:
That's right, shopping bags. All packed up for the weekend, each kid's clothing and toys in their own personalized Shoprite bags.
Because you can't find any of your luggage, suitcases, overnight bags, valises, whatever you want to call them, you can't find them.
In the spirit of my Bobby Toby and Zeidy, who never showed up at our house with their clothes packed in anything other than a Shoprite bag (okay, maybe sometimes she used Pathmark bags), here we go away for the weekend!
So here's the thing: we're moving. To Florida. From NJ.
It's a big move, making me so panicky that I have physically been unable to blog, I just could not sit at the computer for anything other than looking for a mover (we still don't have one), looking for a house (still don't have one of those either), or looking for a renter (you got it, don't have one of those either).
This was all somewhat unexpected this late in the school year, but Josh recently took a principal position in a school down south and so ready, set, go! We have six weeks, max seven, to rent out our house, find one to rent down there and pack up our house. Numbers 1 and 2 are proving to be somewhat harder than I thought.
Number three though, for me, is the worst, and yet I had no illusions about it. I've moved with kids before. But before there were only two of them and they were babies and spent a lot of time in their cribs when I put them there. Now they're bigger and don't stay anywhere and so whenever I turn around, there they are. I love hanging out with my kids, but when I'm trying to pack a box, I'd rather not trip on them. I've taken to packing at night, after they're in bed,
So so far, I've packed 19 boxes. And I am done, so done. I told Josh the other day that I'd rather rent our house out furnished than pack another box. And not just furnished, but with everything you need - toilet paper, forks, underwear. Whatever. We're a full service rental.
When we get to Florida, we can just buy new things. That sounds so much simpler. And really, who doesn't need new underwear? Exactly.
But every article I read about moving with kids seems to indicate that consistency, routine and blah blah blah are the proper way to do this. So that means that even though your four-year-old has seven thousand stuffed animals, many of which have seen better days, you pack 'em up. Anything to make their transition easier. And I'm all about that - if you know me, you know that I take my kids' emotional temperatures many many times a day and if one of them is off-kilter, I become off-kilter too. It's not so much helicopter parenting for me because helicopters are on top of their kids' homework - or possibly even do their kids' homework. Not me. I haven't looked in their backpacks in weeks. I'm not sure if the second grader started signing his own tests himself or if the teacher stopped giving any, but I haven't seen a test in ages.
It's not the school work or test grades for me, it's their happiness. Contentedness. Their ability to deal with ups and downs and a life that goes sideways.
They were not, to say the least, thrilled with the idea of moving to Florida and leaving the school they know and the friends they love. And I totally get that the Florida keychains Josh bought them in the airport didn't make up for the news, even though the keychains were awesome and they carry them around all day long. But we did explain that we're going to live near where Mickey and Minnie and the Princesses live, which kind of took the edge off.
Change, in my book, is bad. People keep giving me these huge smiles while telling me that change is good. I hope so. I really hope those people are right.
Change is a lot of things; it's exciting, it's different, it's hard. But at the end of the day - and it is the end of the day now and I'm exhausted, so I'll end with this - change is not something that I normally seek out, but deep down I know that it really can be good. And I hope and pray every morning, noon and night these days that this change will be a positive one for Josh, for the kids, for all of us together as a family.
Unless we have to live in the van because we can't find a house.
That kind of change would just be eh.
Tales of the Adventures In Packing are sure to follow.
And maybe even a yard sale with a lemonade stand and a cookie table.
I know. Things are about to get crazy.
Forget Disneyworld, my happiest place (besides my bed) is Target. I love that place. And my favorite Target section - the dollar bins.
In actuality, I never need anything from those bins, but who does? And yet, I cannot walk past the dollar bins without adding a magnetic notepad or a Hello Kitty headband to my cart. But the best, at least in the spring, are the bubble wands. All four of my kids love these - even the ones who think they are too old to blow bubbles.
See, the bubble wands, they also double as light sabers and you know, light sabers=cool.
After school the other day, on the first really beautiful day in weeks - it's been weirdly cold for April - the kids ran outside and I handed these guys out. And they all played together. All four of them; all four kids have not been interested in the same activity in what feels like forever.
I fear that the days when I can occupy all four of them with one activity are quickly coming to an end.
I wonder how this will all play out.
We have been having breakfast issues lately, specifically with the what to have
part of breakfast.
My kids are partial to cream cheese and saltines, an unfortunate combination that has become the go-to breakfast in the house for a while now. I have been trying to counter that by offering scrambled eggs, but really, who wants to get up early to scramble eggs every morning? I know. Me either.
So I made these muffins
) last night, in the hopes that they'd eat these for breakfast - and three out of four kids ate them happily, and in my book, that's a win.
The 100daysofrealfood mom says to put whatever you like into the muffin batter so I tripled the recipe and then added three different kinds of add-ins: chocolate chips, walnuts and coconuts. But now I think about it, I'm pretty sure she meant nice things like fruit, not questionable breakfast items like chocolate chips. What can I say? Baby steps.
The muffins are delicious and a triple recipe yielded 36 muffins, so enough for many many breakfasts and a few lunchbox treats. Like I said to Josh - one recipe makes 12 muffins. That's so cute. What would I do with 12? After everyone tastes, I'll be left with almost none.
Nope, in our house, we triple a recipe or we go home. Or however that saying goes.
I turned my back for two minutes tonight, during dinner, and I'm not really sure what happened, but I do know that when I turned back, the seven-year-old was standing on a chair at the sink with the six-year-old at his elbow, the older explaining to the younger how to get water to flow through half of his yolk-less hard boiled egg.
Could you just gag? Me too.
Shockingly, to my children, I got upset.
Some might think that the whole wasting of the food is what got me upset and yeah, I really do not like when the kids waste food, but this time, what really got me? The flood. The water running everywhere, down the side of the counter, onto the boys' socks, all over the floor, making a wet and slippery and hard-boiled-egg-scented-mess. And we all know what hard boiled eggs smell like.
In light of my new policy of having the punishment fit the crime - proper consequences and all that, as opposed to the standard go to your room - I told the little one that he'd have to clean the water on the floor and the older one, he'd have to wash the dishes tonight.
The 6 year old grumbled but the 7 year old? He jumped for joy. Sheer excitement.
Apparently, I have been holding him back from the funnest thing ever!
After dinner, I set him up at the sink, showed him how to use the sponge and soap (just a little soap; it's a hard concept for a kid who delights in squeezing a bottle of Elmer's glue) and off he went.
And he didn't do a half bad job either.
I stood there, trying not to smile, or worse, laugh, because this was, you know, a consequence and all but inside, I was giddy and dancing and laughing and doing all kinds of cheerleader type stuff.
The boy was standing at the sink, up to his elbows in water and soap, saying things like:
This is awesome, I love this!
Maybe when I grow up, I can get a job doing this and actually get paid!
I wish I could do this every single night!
Well now. This just got interesting.
Could I really have him wash the dishes every night?
Is that even legal?
There must be some sort of child labor law in this country, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But I'm not going to look into that.
Let him be happy and wash dishes, right?
And also, I really don't like to do dishes.
So you know, it's win-win for everyone.
Milestones are a fact of life and we hit a big one yesterday - and yet, it appears that I was the only one traumatized. The only one sitting on the floor, holding back tears while saying yay and hooray with everyone else.
After begging for months, we finally moved our just-three-year-old into a big girl bed and she's loving it. Now, every few minutes, she will announce that she is tired and must take a rest in her new big girl bed right now. And off she goes, returning 90 seconds later, all rested.
We've been through this a bunch of times before, this whole transitioning from a crib to a bed thing (or, in our house, a twin mattress on the floor), but this time was extra bittersweet because she is the youngest. We've had a crib, and for a long while, two cribs, consistently in use for the past almost 8 years. There have been times when no one has slept in these cribs, but they were always there, we were always a house of babies and toddlers. And now, we're a house of biggish kids and it makes me sad.
But I take solace in the fact they are so much fun to be around now and that I really love watching them grow and expand their wings. I take great joy in listening to their after-school stories and make believe games that all four play together. And I love watching them experience new things and try, even if it's something they are scared to do.
There are many hard adjustments with little kids - giving up the stroller (where am I supposed to put all my stuff?), potty training (I hate going to the bathroom in the mall), and the kid who is just learning to recognize their letters and causes you to think hmm, maybe this one is dyslexic.
But I truly believe that crib-to-bed is one of the hardest adjustments - for parents - and not for the reason you may think.
I dislike the big-kid-bed move because it's one more kid who can get out of bed.
One more kid who can come downstairs and say they can't sleep.
One more kid who can come downstairs and complain that their roommate already fell asleep.
One more kid who can wander into our room at 3am and either poke me hard in the arm* or silently stand there and stare until my eyes open**.
I feel like kids of all ages should sleep in big cribs because then once they're in for the night, they can't get out.
How awesome would that be?
Now I have four kids coming out of bed - and I'm not making this up - in the first thirty seconds of her first night in her big-girl-bed, she was out and on the top of the steps calling my name. Twice.
She is definitely the boldest - the other kids all had the decency to stay in bed at that age and just call our names. But nope, not this one, she's a wanderer and I'm thinking we may have to lock the bathroom door at night so she can't get in. Only problem - how will the other kids get in? Okay, that wouldn't be the only problem - how would I get in? I'm always in there.
We have to figure something out. But that's a whole other story.
** Am I the only one freaked out by this? Truly terrifying.
Winter break. The kids wait for it all year; a whole ten days off from school and finally and thankfully, we're all better. No more tissues floating around the house and just enough coughing left over so that the daily hot chocolates still make sense.
The other day we found ourselves in Rockland County with some extra time and nothing to do. We headed over to the Palisades Park Mall and even though I am not a fan of malls*, do all my shopping online and only enter a mall when I absolutely have to, I have to say, it was
Not only will you find a Disney store, a Lego store and a carousel, but a ferris wheel. Inside. Oh, and there's ice skating, a movie theater and an arcade. We considered spending the night.
Because my kids are my kids, they were terrified of all the rides, but they went on them anyway, and were so proud of themselves afterwards. So a day at the mall and a shot of self-esteem. What more can I ask for?
Actually, you know what else I can ask for - a life lesson in using your money wisely. And, oh my goodness, did we find ourselves with a teachable moment in the food court.
My kids asked (and asked and asked) for ice cream and because it was kid#3's half birthday and because we like any reason to justify having a treat, we went to check out the ice cream. Alas, the only kosher ice cream available was Haagen Daaz. We waited on line while the kids seriously discussed their orders. Josh listened patiently while they each described their
flavor and sprinkle color and cone vs. milkshake requests. And that's when we noticed that there was no price list hanging behind the counter. And you wanna know why? It's because a small cup costs $3.50 and a small milkshake, a whopping $7.00. Seven Dollars. And while we slowly backed the kids and the stroller away from the ice cream counter, we took that opportunity to explain that seven dollars is an obscene amount to pay for ice cream and that if each kid indeed got their preferred shake, we would have spent $28 on ice cream.
And the kids just looked at us. I explained that they were welcome to return the $7 box of lego we just bought each of the boys at the Lego store and use that money to get ice cream and that's when I saw the light go on in their eyes, understanding that it's so much better to spend that money on a toy than on ice cream that would be gone in a few minutes. Instead, everyone picked a chocolate bar treat from the vending machine.
Josh went on to explain that for $28, we could buy enough ice cream in Shoprite to throw an ice cream party for them and all their friends. They asked when the party was going to be.
Huh. We need to learn when to stop explaining things, be quiet and just eat chocolate.
*My mom loves to shop. I can't even italicize the word 'love' enough to get my point across. She shops for sport, which works out well now because my kids always have enough clothes, courtesy of my mom. When I was little, though, I didn't find this shopping hobby to be that great. In fact, I hated it. I hated being shlepped to malls, I hated the walking around and I hated it that the malls were all so hot in the winter and there was nothing to do but carry your own coat. I mean, what is that? But I digress. My point here is that my best friend from preschool (hi Esti!) loved to shop when we were younger and her mom, as the fates would have it, hated shopping. So we traded moms on a semi-frequent basis. Esti would go along with my mom and they'd do their shopping thing and I would stay with Esti's mom, who, luck would have it, was very into creating intricate designs with chocolates and chocolate molds (yum!) so I got to see the inside of Brooklyn's chocolate shops on a regular basis. Bliss - for everyone.
I hope that title was decriptive enough.
Three things to discuss today:
3. A Whole30 Vegetable Soup
I'll start with number 3 first because I'm always hungry. This soup was so good that Josh was concerned he might have to make room in his life for a third soup. Currently, he only eats chicken soup and oddly enough, cauliflower soup. And now there might be a third. He's worried.
You should try it - and it's Whole30 compatible too.
Here's what you do:
Saute 3 sliced onions in some olive oil.
Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a little salt to the pot and keep sauteing.
Wash, peel and thinly slice two large carrots.
Add to the pot and saute the carrots too.
Wash and slice 6 zucchinis into 1 inch pieces, add them to the pot, cover and let them cook for about a minute.
Add 5 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
Partially cover the pot and lower the flame so the soup simmers until the carrots are done. The zucchini will be done a lot faster than the carrots, even though the carrots are a lot smaller than the zucchini. Go figure.
Once the carrots are done, allow the soup to cool and then use your very handy immersion blender to partially puree the soup.
It's really very good.
Moving right along to numbers 1 and 2 on the list above. They're intertwined so we'll just mix 'em up and call this number one and a half.
Manners and Chanukah**. Mannukah. Something we seem to have none of these days.
Right around night #4, my kids seemed to get very blase about the whole "gift each night" thing. As in, this is it? I didn't want that!, along with some tears. And that my friends, is not
even a little bit okay. But lest we defame only my children, this seemed to have been going on in many other houses in the neighborhood. And before we malign the neighborhood, I really do think it's a generational thing. Having said that, next Chanukah I am supposed to remind several of my friends about this ungratefulness. Next year, we are not giving the kids a gift each night of Chanukah. Yup. You heard me.
So here's the thing. I grew up getting a little something each night of Chanukah and I kind of like that tradition. But it's not working for us. In fact, on night five of this Chanukah, we did not give gifts. We had a gift for each kid, wrapped and ready to go, but we didn't hand them out. Instead, we used a popcorn maker to make popcorn and we all watched a movie instead, with the lights off and the couch turned to face the tv. And once the kids got over the initial shock of not having anything to unwrap, they loved it.
I think that's what it she be about - experiences. Popcorn and movie might not sound like much of an experience, but for my kids, it really was. Piling onto the couch and getting cozy under one big blanket with popcorn and drinks - it's just not something we do as a group, ever. Maybe it should be, maybe we should do it more often, but that's a whole other guilty-mommy-blog-post.
*In case you've been wondering where the heck we've been since seemingly dropping off the internet since the middle of Chanukah, we've been right here. Being lazy. I think (hope) we're back now.
** I know it's over, but I think it's still okay to talk about Chanukah, mostly because I still haven't finished putting away the menorahs.
While Hurricane Sandy was quite scary, especially because in our area, the worst took place during the night - in the pitch black - the days of blackout that followed were, for us (because we are quite lucky and have an intact house and car) quite boring.
We didn't last longer than 36 hours without power in our house; we moved on to my parents' warm and brightly lit house full of televisions and snacks quite quickly. However, in the brief day and a half that we did stay home, we compiled a list of fun activities that need no electricity and are not board games - for some reason, those got pretty old pretty fast.
Here, some ideas of ways to keep the kids entertained during a blackout*: 1.
Set your kids up in front of a mirror with a pad of drawing paper and a pencil and have them draw a self-portrait. This is a fun and funny activity because the kids will inevitably think that their drawing looks exactly like them and you will not be able to tell which kid drew which picture. 2.
Hand out a few paper plates and some crayons and tell the kids to color the plates completely. Glue a craft stick or tongue depressor onto the plate, making a handle. Blow up some balloons and play 'keep the balloon in the air'. 3
. Break out a bag of beads and some string and have the kids make necklaces and bracelets. If they make enough of them, they can give them out to the kids in their class when (if) school starts again. Or just use Fruit Loops and use them for a snack later on. 4.
Play hangman. And tic tac toe. Print out some word searches (before the lights go out) and store them with your blackout kit. 5.
Use the balloons and paper plate and sticks from #2 above to play volleyball. String a long piece of ribbon, rope or just plain string from wall to wall and presto, a volleyball net. 6.
Play charades. My kids had never played this before. It went well, plus all the running to the bathroom because they were laughing so hard made the time pass more quickly. 7
. The old classic: build a fort with couches, blankets, sheets and pillows in the living room. Add a few flashlights, books and snacks and you're good to go. Maybe you'll even get lucky and everyone will fall asleep in there. 8.
Grab some vinegar, liquid food coloring and a box or two of baking soda. Pour the box of baking soda into a pan - maybe a disposable 9x13 pan, but anything will work. Pour vinegar into 2 or 3 cups (or more, depending on how many cups of colored vinegar you want to make) and add a drop or two of food coloring to each cup. Using mini-droppers (the kind that come with baby tylenol - I've been saving those for years), pick up some colored vinegar and drop it onto the baking soda. Watch as the baking soda fizzles. It's very cool to see and will keep the kids entertained for a nice long while. Personally, I would make four pans of baking soda to keep the elbowing of siblings to a minimum. Count the number of kids in your house to see how many you should make. 9.
Take a puzzle that does not have too many pieces - between 12-15 sounds good to me - and hide the pieces around the house. The hiding places don't have to be that good, just a puzzle piece on a pillow or dresser. The kids won't be expecting them anyway. Hand our flashlights and set the kids loose looking for the puzzle pieces. When they're done, let them put the puzzle
together. Then hand out snacks. Finding the puzzle pieces is hard work.
Play What's on my Tush?
I found this game online, here
. It basically involved you, the parent, lying on the floor face down, with a pillow (fun already, right?) and the kids get to take turns putting whatever (a crayon, a toy car, a ball, the sadly not working remote) on your backside. The kids give out hints and you have to guess what's sitting on your
tush. This can go on for hours. It's awesome. If you do nothing else, definitely try this one.
See, you can handle this whole blackout thing like a parent who doesn't want to just crawl back into bed with a good book, a drink and a flashlight, even, if like me, that's exactly what you want to do. *Some of the ideas need specific items which you may or may not have in the house. Since I know that you are already putting together some essentials for the next weather-related
incident, such as the Nor'easter coming this way tomorrow, a quick stop at AC Moore might not be a bad idea.