Monday, August 31, 2015

Getting Off to a Lazy Start

Sixth grade school lunches look different for Dema than they did for Parker. Parker loved leftovers and he didn't attend a nut-free school. Dema can be particular about his lunches, he cares what other people think more than Parker ever did, and the foods he loves at home may not be best for lunch since they are not served hot. I also haven't really gotten into the swing of school yet and still feel very much in summer mode. Here's some of the lunches Dema's enjoyed so far. He eats every bit, even if he finishes it on the walk home from school or as he does his homework.
Chickpea salad with chipotle Vegenaise and mixed greens on sourdough bread, organic carrot sticks under organic red grapes, and black pepper Snapea Crisps.
Black pepper Snapea Crisps, sundried tomato wrap with hummus over organic red grapes, sunbather and fruit spread sandwich on sourdough bread.  
Organic apple slices, farmer's market strawberries, Gardein black bean burger with sauerkraut, mixed greens, mustard, and chipotle Vegenaise on rye bread.
 Since Dema has been eating all of his lunch at school and is hungry on the walk home, I decided to add a little more. We bought a new PlanetBox launch lunchbox and bag to match his new PlanetBox backpack. His old carrying bag from PlanetBox had a zipper malfunction after a couple years of use. I like the new design better.
Sambazon Blended Breakfast smoothie, organic cranberries.
 The cranberries come in a resealable pouch and I leave it in the velcro section of his lunch bag throughout the week. He doesn't eat the whole pouch in one sitting. It is more of a sweet treat after his lunch and as he walks home.
Farmer's Market strawberries, Italian Tofurky deli slice with mixed greens, chipotle Vegenaise, and mustard on rye bread.
Fridays are usually pizza day at Dema's school so I try to pack something pizza-ish on Fridays.
Organic carrot slices (Dema prefers bite size slices to sticks when eating at school), organic red grapes, and Tofurky Pepperoni hot pocket.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Walking Down Memory Lane

Dema on his first day of 6th grade.
Dema showing off his new PlanetBox backpack. Review coming soon.
Dema started sixth grade this year and even though this is his third year in private school, it takes me back to the one year Parker spent in public school. I have fond memories of walking to and from school with Parker (and often one or two of his friends) each day of his sixth grade year. That was also one of the best years of homeschooling for Dema. We were still car-free back then and the walk too and from school was the only one-on-one time Parker and I had during the day and it was precious. Now, I am determined to make walking a part of my routine with Dema this year. So far, it has been really great for both of us. We have our dog, Gracie, with us some of the time so it is good for her too. Dema gets a non-rushed completely focused time to chat about whatever is on his mind, and boy does he have a lot going on in there!
Dema walking on the brick wall on the way home from school.
So nice to take some time to unwind after a long day.
Rob works some days in an office a few blocks from Dema's school. This is a nice change from Rob working at home full-time. So some morning I run into Rob walking the dog and Josie or heading into work as I walk back from dropping Dema off. Some days Rob walks to pick Dema up from school and spends the rest of the day working from home. One afternoon, Dema went to Rob's office to do homework before I picked him up. It is nice to have options and some really nice family time that I've missed since we bought a car. I love taking the slow lane when we can and getting out of the motorized boxes.
Meeting up with Rob, Josie, and Gracie one morning after dropping Dema off at school.

Parker's first day of public school and sixth grade.

Here is a post with Parker's last day of sixth grade and public school.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Asking Questions, Changing the World

All three kids were fortunate to be asked to be part of an ad for our local university. It was really fun for all of them and the director, Anne Lukeman, has a passion for education and is fabulous with kids. Dema (he is part of the experiment) and Josie (you can't see her face, she is one of the audience members) were in the scene with the physics experiment and Parker is in the scene with the elephant's toothpaste (an experiment we actually performed in our homeschooling group last year).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I was chatting with my eleven year old, Dema, the other day and he mentioned a craving for root beer. We aren't soda drinkers, but root beer is a once in a while treat when he goes to the movies or at certain restaurants. I mentioned root beer floats. He'd never heard of one, but he immediately knew he wanted to try it. I finally got around to buying the vegan ice cream and the natural root beer. They were a hit with the kids, but I have to admit they didn't taste as good as I remembered from my childhood. That's probably for the best.
Parker with his first ever root beer float.
Speaking of floating, this is how Josie spent a good portion of the afternoon this Sunday. Thanks to our fabulous neighbors for the use of their pool and mini kayaks. Josie clearly has too much energy and competitive drive. She made Rob time her over and over until she could across in ten seconds. She went back and forth countless times. Going from the deep end to the shallow was clearly harder since she couldn't really push off. She often creates games like these and competes against herself. If only I could harness this energy somehow.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Free to Be You and Me

We are so fortunate to have quite a few theater options in our college town. We live in twin cities and both park districts have theater opportunities for children, the community college opens up some of their performances to teens, CUTC has mixed age productions as well as one or two a year just for kids, the surrounding small towns have community theater and they also cast children. This doesn't even include the on screen opportunities like Pens to Lens, individual ad or promos, there is even a web series which is filmed locally. This is just from the top of my head.

It could keep someone acting all year long. With three kids all interested in acting, it does.

Class Act is unique in town because they focus on teaching the children (and adults) how to act or stretch their comfort zone. A lot of time is put into the acting process, getting extremely comfortable on stage, playing with different roles, singing, dancing, and all around improving your performance skills. Parker has loved the improve classes at Class Act and this summer Dema was able to participate in a three week camp ending with several performances of Free to Be You and Me.
Photo from the Class Act website promoting the show. 
Show poster from the Class Act website.
If you have never seen Free to Be You and Me, you are really missing out. It is sadly as relevant today as it was in the early 1970's when it was written. The group really had great energy together and Dema loved working with them. He was one of two boys in the cast and that might have been one of the reasons he liked it so much. He is really not as comfortable and confident on stage as the rest of the cast so it was a great experience to learn from his peers. Dema's solo was about wanting a doll when all his dad wants to give him are balls. Luckily, he has a grandmother who understands the benefits of boys playing with dolls and he has a doll at last. It always makes me tear up. I love the message in the entire musical of being yourself and not judging others.
Josie and her friends, Indi and Amara, waiting for Free to Be You and Me to start. Their first selfie?
Josie loved the play so much, she went twice.
Dema and his fan club.
The cast in their diapers from the baby scene.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Just Keep Swimming

I signed Parker up for swim team this summer. I thought ten hours of swimming each week was just what a growing teenager needed. I didn't think through the waking up early, for both of us, each week day. I assumed we wouldn't participate in the meets because Parker is not a competitive sort (see future post on competition), but I signed him up in our twin city where things are very supportive with less pressure and several of his friends were on the team there too.
Parker and his friends hanging out after swim team practice.
Parker ended up liking the exercise, loving the time with Connor and Zoey, being part of a team of great teens, and even attending some of the meets. In fact, it was soon after Parker started that Dema and Josie joined too. They didn't need the exercise with gymnastics three times a week for a total of 7 and 6 hours respectively, but they did need work on swimming technique and they enjoyed meeting new people, awesome teen coaches, and being part of a team. Parker's friends also have younger siblings in swim team so they had an hour each week day to hang around and chat. The their swim team is amazingly supportive of each other. All the kids and parents root for each other, they were very welcoming of new families, and encouraging of participation in the events without being focused on the outcome. Pretty much perfect for us.
Josie on the left, ready to start the backstroke.
Josie was crazy adamant about only wanting to swim backstroke at meets, but she would reluctantly fill in where they needed her in the relays.

Dema swimming backstroke.
 Surprisingly, Dema was the one who really loved swim team. He looked forward to practice and wanted to compete in every event he could. I think swim team will be a regular thing for Dema. I wish his school had a swim team.
Parker coming up for air during a meet.
Josie diving in off the side, during a meet, instead of the box. She is stubborn, this youngest of mine.
Rob and I were surprised that we enjoyed the meets ourselves, seeing parents from other teams in the area, rooting for their kids and ours. I was pleasantly shocked how fun the meets were and how quickly the mornings went by. Fueling the kids during meets was interesting. They don't want to eat too much before or during, but it takes a lot of energy. Parker's favorite snack during meets was organic red seedless grapes,  fresh blueberries, and dried fruit and nuts. I also brought energy bites (squares of mixed nuts, seeds, and dried fruit), which the kids liked. Dema went for his friend's pretzels, but I'm not sure that helped with his swimming. They were definitely ready for a big lunch after the meets.
Parker getting ready for the turn.
Josie's friends, Amara and Indigo, also joined the team and they had fun swimming together. The older kids from the team coach the younger kids and it is super sweet. I really appreciate how good all the teen coaches were with children. It made the experience even better.
Pajama day at swim practice.
They had "spirit week" or maybe two weeks, toward the end of the season and Josie was all about participating. I thought it was a little silly since the kids all ended up in their bathing suits, but it was fun for Josie. Since her friends are moving soon, it was nice for them to see each other every day at swim and sometimes after since it is hard to get them to to leave each other.
Were multiple suits day.
At the end of the season, they had pool party, and the kids had a great time!
Parker loves climbing walls and water so this is a favorite aspect of the pool where they swim.

Parker wants to keep the exercise going and is hoping to meet up with his friends at the indoor pool on a regular basis. Rob is hoping to swim laps with Parker and the other kids, if they want to join. It is great exercise. I have fond memories of going to the pool when I was kid. I took lessons, but I never got into swimming laps and my form is horrible so it was educational for me too.

Someone - Audio Amusement

I'm not sure I delved into this book in the correct frame of mind. Pretty much everything about the book bothered me. I was listening while working on some house projects so maybe I'm not being fair. Obviously, a lot of people like it and I'm not used to giving bad reviews. Well, this isn't really a bad review, just bad timing. 

I found the book hard to listen to due to the content and the narration. First off, I listen to the book while falling asleep too and it was hard to find my place in the morning. Not the author's fault, but something to keep in mind if you are consuming the audio book version. Kate Reading used a very strange emphasis on every. single. sentence. A sentence about a girl falling down the stairs had the same intonation as the description of a man's suit.* Every sentence sounded like some sort of declaration. I really wasn't fond of her voices for the different characters either. To be fair, she had to speak with the main character's child "voice" and adult, which is probably hard to do. I'm not being a hater, I was trying to look through other books Ms. Reading has narrated so I could tell you I enjoyed something she has done, but I don't see any work I remember listening to, although her voice sounded oddly and annoyingly familiar. 

*What is up with all the deep description anyway? Most of it didn't seem to add to the story. The story jumped around a lot and it didn't need to, in my humble opinion. It was way to depressing for me right now. All the death, the main character works for a mortician at one point, and the long suffering father with the broody brother who doesn't live up to his potential. The ending, don't get me started on the ending. It just falls down the stairs, figuratively, and I was left thinking there is no point to life.

I'm sure in other circumstances I would have enjoyed the book more. Perhaps if I read it in print and I was in the mood for something deep and thought-provoking? I just picked it up at the library and didn't read anything about it. I'm not saying you shouldn't read it or listen to it, but be warned. For this middle aged mom with one dead parent feeling like life is pretty much going at a breakneck pace as it is and am trying to stay positive and not scared shitless about death (mine, my spouse's, my kids', my siblings', my remaining parent's), it was not a thumbs up.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

It's All an Act - Ordinary OCD

Dema came home from theater camp today and I knew something was off. He has really enjoyed this three week experience at Class Act so I was surprised at how upset he was and, as usual, it took a while to get it out of him. This is part of the patience piece of parenting a child with OCD and I struggle with this the most. I have to gently dig to get to the heart of what is triggering certain behaviors. It ends up that the director changed a scene and Dema needs to smell someone's feet.

This is acting, my friend. Sometimes you are asked to do something that is out of your comfort zone. My other kids would have just gone with the flow, but for a person with OCD, smelling someone's feet and then being on your knees, on a dirty floor, during the scene can be extremely stressful.

He is going to get through it, but this week has been already more hand washing than usual and "getting contaminated". I'm sure my working on the a house project is not helping.* I wish I knew what would help. Since he is eleven, I can sit down and talk it out, but even when he understands that he'll be fine doesn't keep the anxiety away. We'll need extra snuggling and lots of patience to get through this week.

I think in some ways being involved in theater is therapeutic for Dema. He has to do a lot of acting in everyday life just to fit in, but acting does make him happier than almost anything else he does. I can't wait to see Free to Be You and Me. I just hope he doesn't let his OCD get in the way of performing and having a great time.

*Moving furniture around can really affect Dema, but living in an old house with lead paint and then working on taking off wallpaper and stripping paint can really unsettle him. In the end, he is always happier with the house, but there are days when I wonder if he wouldn't be more content in a new house.

Concerts in the Park - Crushing on Community

We are fortunate to have quite a few lovely parks in our community. One of my kids' favorite parks (outside of the one we live on, of course) is Scott Park. It was revived a few years ago and the kids beg to go, but it really isn't in our normal routine right now. We were happy to have a lovely excuse to go recently. Our neighbor/friend, Ryan Groff, is lead singer in a band, Elsinore, and they were performing on what his son's third birthday. We adore Oliver (Parker babysits for him on a pretty regular basis so he didn't want to miss celebrating Oliver's birthday and hearing Ryan) and Elsinore so we had to go. It was hot, but so much fun! Someone brought huge boxes, watercolors, hay bails, and other fun things for the kids to play with while they enjoyed the music. Elsinore played some great new songs, but one of the "older" songs close to our hearts was also performed. I don't know if I blogged about it, but we were extras in the video. Blink and you miss us (you can see Josie as the little person between the band members at the end...I'll blog about it soon), but it was a lot of fun.
 A perfect evening!
Elsinore playing at Scott Park
Our neighbor/friend, Ryan, is there lead singer.
Josie and Indigo painting the cardboard structure.
I was happy the paint was water colors.
Parker and his friend, Nico, also built a cardboard structure.
You are never too old to play with big boxes.
Josie slowing me the inside.

Josie and her friends had lots of fun hiding and running.

Parker playing around on the park's water features.

I guess one is never too old to get really wet too.