Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What the heck am I doing all day?

It's amazing how busy I seem to be now that I am not working. How could I possibly have time for a job? During the day I busily putter around the house making beds, wiping counters, doing laundry, or any other mundane tasks that catch my attention. On Fridays when the kids are home from school and on newly free weekends (since I get all the chores and errands done during the week), we do outings. This month we have gone to the beach, Travel Town, The Museum of Natural History, Noah's Ark at the Skirball Museum, and the Strawberry Festival. Not to mention, spent lots of time with family and friends.

I've nearly cleared the back patio of the mountain of boxes that remained unpacked over the last year. That has definitely been slow going as I need to find a specific place for everything, and can only continue until the sneezing starts. For any of you who don't know this, I HATE sneezing. It is as if my body has decided to interrupt whatever I am doing without the courtesy of even saying "excuse me." Really, I can't talk when I'm sneezing so all conversation needs to stop. I can't listen when I'm sneezing. I can't unpack boxes, put things away, drive safely, or sleep while I am sneezing. You can only imagine the sailor language in our bedroom when this insomniac is woken up sneezing!! So, emptying all the dusty boxes is quite the challenging mission since my allergies seem to be in full assault mode these days. The fun thing about unpacking things after a year is getting to see them again. Oh! I was wondering where those platters have been. Ooh! Look at all these picture albums. Wow! All my childhood schoolwork! Each box is like a little present and I need to stop (and sneeze) to look at each thing before finding the perfect spot for it. So, you can see how this would take some time.

Another project I completed is not as simple as it might seem. For some time I've wanted to decorate the boys' room and make it more personalized. I had bought unfinished wood letters to paint, but never took the time. Recently, it came to me that a couple bulletin boards for their art and school work would be perfect in there. My initial thought was cork boards, but pushpins would only turn into weapons in that room. When I saw magnetic boards and colorful magnets at IKEA, I realized that was perfect. So after painting the letters, I broke out the nails (several sizes), hammer, level, nail gun and air compressor, hooked that stuff all up myself, and voila!! Check out their room now! The valance and wall hanging are from their nursery bedding set, but I just love them anyway. Take a good look at the carpet, because anyone who comes to my house knows, it isn't often visible for all the toys!

So, as you can tell, I have been quite busy. Although I am actively job hunting, I am also enjoying this disguised blessing of being at home for a bit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Beach Day

While I am off work, I am trying to spend Fridays taking the boys somewhere we wouldn't otherwise get to go. The interesting places are all jam packed on the weekends, so this is a nice opportunity to avoid the crowds. Today we went to the beach. We actually hit on a beach I haven't been to before, but will definitely be visiting again, possibly next week. It was really beautiful, but off the beaten path with limited parking, so not too crowded. The boys were fantastic the entire time we were there. I had the chance to praise them for bravery in the cold, cold water, teamwork, and overall good attitudes. Let me tell you, this has been infrequent as of late, and a refreshing reminder of easier times. After several months, it was easy to forget how much we all love beach days together.

Two cool dudes arriving at the beach with all their gear.

See that black speck? It's a dolphin! Although it's common for us to see dolphins swimming along the coastline, I have never seen them so close to shore (not that you can tell from this pic). The school would cruise back and forth and were quite playful. There were about three times I saw them actually flip their entire bodies completely out of the water doing a complete aerial somersault. Sensational. This was a highlight for me. Logan was kind enough to at least look. Hayden couldn't care less.

The difference between supervision and ......

...teamwork. What a nice change. Filling the bucket was a very big project. There was much conferring, waiting for waves, digging, and carrying. I'm still not sure what the ultimate goal was, but seems to me, it really didn't matter. It's all about the moment.

Looks almost like Baywatch, right?

Or James Bond?

Deep in conversation over dried apricots.

Navigating a murkey river of knowledge

Recently, I went to a seminar on how to navigate our school district. Being that it is massive, there is a lot to know! The lady giving the seminar actually gave new information for 3 hours, most of which focused on magnet schools, and how to earn points to get your child into the magnet schools. I was totally overwhelmed. Growing up where I did, it seems that my parents were fortunate (or wise to move there) to not have to deal with any of this. All the schools were good and still are. Not so much where I live now. There are certainly excellent schools, but we may not be zoned for one. Or, it might not be a primarily English speaking population. Or, one of the kids might need a magnet or gifted program, that isn't offered at our local school. Or.... the list goes on. I'm so glad I listened to this talk and now know what to ask and investigate. Because Hayden starts kindergarten in 2009, we will need to start this process this coming December!!

One good piece of advice that came out of all this is to keep him where he is at for kindy. It is a montessori program, and the boys are thriving. We love the school and the teachers, and at this point certainly feel it would be beneficial for Hayden to stay an extra year. He loves learning, asking for more academic work all the time. He has a lot of friends, and the school is a very nurturing environment, but with the well defined boundaries that my two little imps need. Seems I made a good choice to go the extra mile and try to sweeten up the teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. Oh, and I told you they wouldn't be getting those red velvet black and white cookies. Those are already ancient history.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Zen

One thing I tend to limit while I am working is my baking. It is something I love doing, especially with the boys. However, I normally do not have the time for gratuitous baking, nor do I want the added calories. Lately, for various reasons, we have been making many more treats.
We used fresh lemons from a generous neighbor to make lemon bars. Logan was in charge of the filling, while Hayden made the crumbly crust. As you can see by the picture, there were lemons and dry ingredients everywhere! Although they make a tremendous mess, it's worth the effort in the end. You can see by the picture that Hayden learned what sour means, while Logan was very busy in the background. They seem to really understand the process and enjoy the results.

For Shabbat dinner we made a chocolate and cheesecake swirled bundt cake, with M&M's of course. When it came to selecting a recipe, it was the picture of the cake with M&M's that sealed the deal. Since that particular recipe didn't look particularly fantastic, I selected a favorite swirled bundt cake of mine, adapted a chocolate glaze and let Picasso and Rembrandt add M&M's according to their own desgin. Because my bundt pan doesn't take a whole recipe, we used the overflow to make several mini-bundt cakes for the kids.

Last night, for Teacher Appreciation Week we made black and white red velvet cookies. This recipe was a bit more involved, and they seemed to lose interest when sifting the dry ingredients took too long. It was a bit tedious, but they came out so light and airy that I would do it again. The red food coloring added another element since two little
boys can make 1 tablespoon of red go a very long way. Somehow, I managed to contain the red to the baking area, while making dinner and getting Hayden to set the table. Since at one point he somehow got a huge blotch of red on his butt, he had to change his pants to avoid transferring it everything he sat on the rest of the evening, but that kid is super happy in sweatpants, so didn't mind at all. Once I finished glazing these, I thought they were so beautiful they needed to be photgraphed. Then, I had to taste one so I would know if they turned out ok. As much as I appreciate those teachers, these cookies aren't going anywhere!!! I guess we'll just have to make another sweet for school.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sweet Freedom

So, despite the fact that I actually do need to work, I LOVE being home! I haven't had this much time off since the kids were born, and having a newborn is enjoyable, but no picnic. Now? I can have a picnic any day I want. This whole layoff thing? Pretty sweet deal in my book. Fridays now belong to me and the kids, as they go to school Mon-Thurs. My house is the cleanest it has ever been. I take long walks most days. We are eating like royalty as I love to cook, but rarely have time. The pile of boxes on the patio has even dwindled. After a couple "career advancement" seminars last week, this week I plan to start my job search in earnest. However, until I have to actually go to work, I am going to enjoy every second of this time off.