Apples, Hay, and Tacos

My plans for a playdate are not usually very exciting, so I have my friend to thank for the idea of taking the kids somewhere new today.

I may have been apple picking as a child…. I have vague memories of paper bags and apples on the ground…but no sense of whether I enjoyed it or not. Today I got to try it with the kids at Hillcrest Orchards.

It was a perfect day, sunny and in the low 70’s, and the place was big enough to accommodate everyone without seeming crowded.

Of course there is the requisite hay maze……

As well as the farm-themed cut out boards for the kids to pose as animals, farmers, or pumpkins…..

We finally headed off to the orchard to put the kids to work, getting there on a rickety tractor pulled wagon of course.

We picked honey crisp today, and at first I thought the rows of trees were just baby saplings. I was shocked to see them bearing fruit, an amazing amount compared to their tiny size. Super sweet, we were allowed to eat them right off the trees. Bonus that the kids found that irresistible. Jenna was shocked to find seeds in the middle of her apple….because she has only ever eaten her apples sliced on a plate before. Eating food from it’s original source, off the tree in this case, instead of from the fruit bowl seemed to stimulate their appetites. I wonder what she would do if I pointed at a chicken and told her that’s where her chicken tenders come from??

There were more things for the kids to do, like a track for go cart type bikes. I can’t show you a picture because I spent my time there pushing Sammy on his, or riding Jenna on the back of mine. GREAT workout, but not fond of the unattractive panting after I was finished.

 

More acceptable ride that doesn’t require mom to exert herself…

 

Didn’t mean for this to be freaky…but reminds me of “The Ring” and if she had started crawling on the ceiling I would have left her there…

 

And the day would not be complete without dried corn stuck in everyone’s pants

 

And finally. The best part. The grand finale of my trip. The reason I will definitely more than consider going back……..

Before we left we wanted snacks. There was a little eatery inside with cider, water, apple cinnamon donuts and cookies.  There was a food truck outside, with a menu posted on it’s side.

I was amazed at the selection of food…. and please, please forgive me for not having a picture of the actual menu. I can recite a couple things by heart…. such as the all beef hot dog in toasted pretzel bun, complimented by apple chutney and cheddar cheese….. or how about the rosemary parmesan fries, complete with garlic aioli dipping sauce? Or my personal favorite….. drum roll please….. butternut squash and black bean tacos. Oh my god. I’m so glad I ordered them, because they were amazing. Not what I expected from a food truck at this farm out in the boonies.

I did not take photos of my food because 1. I didn’t want to look weird and 2. I ate it way too fast. But I checked Pinterest and found something close to just give you a tiny idea….

fries

Trust me when I say the tacos and fries I ate today were so much better looking and tasting than these examples, but you’ll have to trust me unless you check out Hillcrest Orchards yourself.

 

 

 

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Important friendship criteria

 

 

My friendship criteria….were I to actually  have time to cultivate a friendship…..

  1. Must be funny, but not the annoying funny that just laughs at everything. The kind of funny that can be light and dark, funny ha-ha, and funny “god my life is depressing”.
  2. Must not judge my parenting. Unless I ask. And then always follow up judgement with a story about how they are even a worse parent than me because….etc..
  3. Must be able to keep the secrets I tell them, that are secrets I’ve promised others not to tell. The buck must stop somewhere after all.
  4. Must not be evil or possessed by any sort of demon, this is kind of a deal breaker.
  5. Sarcasm is required

There are more things of course, intelligence and wit, integrity-but not too much, don’t want me to feel bad about myself…… kind of difficult to find someone with all these requirements, probably just easier to continue hanging out with the kids……

What made me start to think of what qualities a new friend of mine would need to have? A conversation with Jenna about a boy at school she’s chosen as her friend. I don’t know if he shares the sentiment, but every day I hear his name.

What made her choose him, out of 13 other kids whose names she’s not in the hurry to remember?

Jenna’s friendship criteria:

  1. Must have a Blaze and the monster machines lunch box.

A simple and effective method to weed out those not worthy……

 

 

Dinner observations

Image result for restaurants with screaming kids

I took the kids to dinner the other night, only because Sammy had it in his head that we should go and I liked the idea of not making dinner. Besides, we needed a break at the end of a loooooong week of school.

He picks Cheesecake factory, and we are seated outside. The tables are so close together, you can’t avoid sitting in the middle of the conversations around you.

On my left, is a family of 5. Two parents and three children, all seem to be under 5. They are loud, kids take turns screaming, actual screams…. and the parents both speak a mixture of English and Italian to them. I like the sound of the Italian, but not when the mom is speaking in a constant yell, right into my ear.

Jenna likes to watch other people, she’s still too young to realize it’s rude. And knowing her, she probably wouldn’t care. I keep directing her attention to our own table, but the noise and activity next to us are hard to ignore. First she comments that one of the boys goes to her school. I don’t look over, but I sense the mom turning her head toward us as though she knows they are being mentioned. Jenna says later that one of the boys is looking at her, as she continues to stare at him. I feel eyes on us again, and lightly tell her to just look at me then.

She continues to watch the progress of the family, parents attempting to stop the screaming and fighting of their kids and not doing a great job of it. During a lull in the noise, she comments to me “Yeah, I like the dad better than the kids”… Since the mom is practically in my lap, I am sure she hears it. The head turning toward us confirms it. I think I tell  Jen to eat her dinner and keep her eyes on her food.

But she’s so right. He was definitely the quietest…..

My little monster

 

Don’t be fooled by my innocent smile…..

 

I just want to say, the 15 year old was right. As much as I hate to agree, his baby sister is kind of a monster. Sometimes.

She loves school, grabs my hand and drags me into the building in the morning, and is beaming when I pick her up at the end of the day. She believes it is “her” classroom, and the other kids and teachers are there for her entertainment. She does not miss me at ALL.

Monster, right?

And suddenly, she’s way more independent and impatient with the rest of us. As I’m sitting in the car, waiting for the cars in front of me to move so we can park and walk in….she starts to get belligerent in the back seat. “Mommy!, why are we taking so long! My teacher is waiting for me!” She doesn’t seem to care that I literally can’t get out of the car yet, and so threatens to stop being my best friend if I dare continue to keep her away from the teachers who are desperately waiting for her inside.

On the way home yesterday, she is holding her water bottle in the back–thirsty after school. As I’m on the highway, and in no way able to turn around and help her, she decides she can’t hold it a second longer and I need to take it from her now, now, NOW!

I tell her no, hold it herself…. and Sammy starts to talk about wanting to go out to eat somewhere. He’s listing the choices of places for me to choose from, and Jenna breaks in:

“Well, YOU both can go, I’M not going with you! I’m going to stay home all by myself!” (Complete with wide eyes and head bobbing for emphasis) “Because YOU won’t hold my water bottle!”

We have some back and forth, with her emphatic that she will stay home alone, and will also not let anyone in to HER house, and me wondering if I’m going to get pegged with a water bottle in the back of the head…..

And poor Sammy in the background trying to tell me “don’t talk to her momma….” (because she’s mean of course….)

As much as I worry about her strong, super sized personality…… I still love it. I love the attitude and I love knowing she’s got something I never had at her age–call it confidence, bravado, an unrealistic sense of self importance…whatever…..  she’s not afraid to speak up for herself and it took me decades before I could do that.

And then late last night she called out for me, having a bad dream and wanted me to sleep next to her. And I loved cuddling up to her…..it was great for about 5 minutes…. then she asked me to move over and stop touching her 😦

Definitely monster.

 

Friday flop

Now that school is back in session, we don’t get to stay up late until Friday rolls around.

This week I kept reminding the kids to motivate them through waking up early and going to bed early…..Friday’s almost here!!

We usually let them stay up pretty late, watch movies, eat popcorn, play games. Daddy can always depend on them to wait up for him when he finally gets in from work.

So tonight, we were all set… went to the park for a couple hours after school and got home by 8pm. Everyone had a snack, showered, settled together on the couch to pick out a movie. I had my laptop appropriately in my lap, and was catching up on some emails.

Next thing I know, I wake up to the sound of Dora and her friends singing about how they couldn’t have done it without me…….. and no signs of life around me.

Lightweights…..

Clearly, we need to build up our Friday late-night stamina.

 

 

 

the ongoing hole in my heart

Last night together before heading back to college 😦

One might think that after having 4 kids, and sending most of them to school every fall, year after year….. I would be numb to the pain of “the first day back”.

Maybe this year feels worse than usual because last summer I didn’t know what it was going to be like without the oldest at home during the school year. This summer, I enjoyed her at home (most of the time…), but I also knew what was coming when summer vacation ended.

And it can’t be avoided… so I loved having her home, but dreaded her going back-for my own selfish reasons.

Adding to my pain, we have the 3 year old starting preschool tomorrow.

She’s ready! She’s soooooooo ready. But I am finding myself really depressed this week, as the days creep by. I squeezed her and kissed her so hard this morning that she faked an injury to get me to stop.

 

Will her school understand the importance of chocolate cake to her academic success???

 

I know I’ll be at work while she’s at school, but knowing she’s not safe in our little nest while I’m gone is stressing me out. Interacting with her teacher and other kids all day, going potty, eating lunch and snack, napping, playing, learning….. all these things will happen. She will be bossy, she will be bossed back. She will possibly be unhappy at some point.

Hyperventilating.

The 15 year is taller every morning. He’s back in high school, no longer a freshman. Lets me hug him at home, I don’t know about in public……

And the 6 year old started first grade today, away from the “baby wing” of the school, and upstairs with the big kids. He wore loafers today for gods sake…..and he loved it. He told me after school that he wants to live in first grade.

And so we are back in the school year, and all that goes with it.

Dammit, they keep growing up.

 

 

 

 

Starting back, but I’m not ready.

Image result for back to school blues

It’s coming….. end of summer, and Back to School. A time I mourn before it gets here, and mourn harder when it comes.

People think I’m weird for being sad to send my plethora of children back to school, but I hate it. For selfish reasons like not having to pack lunches all summer, or forcing children out of bed before seven in the morning each day. I hate how the clock starts ticking as soon as I make the drop off at school, and I have to make sure I get through my work day efficiently enough to make it back to school for pick up on time.

Everything feels like a rush, and too many things have to be jammed in the day.

Don’t get  me started on the fights about homework and dinner, and last minute stops to buy things needed right NOW for school the next day.

Cold weather, darkness, rain, ice, snow…… follow up to round out the crapfest that is the school year.

Hmmmmm. I might be a little pessimistic right now.

I think probably I’m moody because I’m dropping the oldest off at college again on Saturday. Tomorrow is my last day to spend with her, and part of it will be spent doing last minute shopping for things like pens, pencils, book bags, and water glasses to replace what I keep breaking. Not especially memorable, but necessary. Then she leaves, with only a messy room, and the shirts she steals from me as a reminder…..

And the youngest. Oh my god, how did I think she was ready for preschool??!  She starts in 6 days, and I feel the squeeze starting in my chest. I know she’s smart, and social, and so far seems to have no sign of separation anxiety from me…. but she’s never actually been away from the house, without me, for a whole day. I want to pull her out, forget it, we aren’t ready.

I’m not ready.