a real REALITY show

While in Virginia, Danielle and I had the daunting task of making 3 meals a day for 3 adults and 5 quite persnickety children. We had meal "plan" laid out and we had a list. However, since neither of us are good at plans or lists, a fact I found quite disturbing, we would "wing it" most evenings. Sometimes, we would adapt the plan so entirely it wasn't even close to what we started with. One such evening, we were standing around the kitchen trying to brainstorm dinner. We had assorted leftovers, which are always challenging, and some fresh ingredients, when we were struck by the number of times we are called upon to concoct dinner out of almost nothing. Danielle was drawing a blank and I was firing ideas out faster than she could keep up when it hit us. I don't remember who thought of it but, it struck us as completely hilarious. This is what we feel the next Food Network show should be based on. Forget the Iron Chef, forget The Next Food Network Star what they need is a Food Network reality show. It should go something like this.
The contestants should be regular mom's, not people with degrees who call themselves cooks or chefs but real people. I felt that they should be drawn at random with judge showing up at their doorstep. Dani felt that the show should be 3 contestants in a more controlled environment. Regardless, the contestant or contestants should have 60 minutes or less to make dinner for a family of 4, with at least 1 family member being a child under the age of 10. The dinner should consist of salad/soup, meal and dessert. The contestants will be given random leftovers, a limited supply of pantry items, limited supply of staples such as bread, milk, eggs and cheese, and some fruits and veggies which can be frozen, canned or fresh. The leftovers must not be labeled with a date or time. The Pantry items cannot include a box mix such as Hamburger Helper or brownie mix. The milk must be close to the sell by date and some of the cheese must have mold, this is after all a reality show. The contestant will have an interruption of some sort during the meal process. Soccer practice, a phone call from a mother-in-law, a grape juice spill on the carpet are all potential interruptions. The sink must be full of dirty dishes and the dishwasher full but not run. Since this is TV, we decided that it would only be fair to give the contestants 3 lifelines. You may 1. Phone a friend and borrow 1 item (cup of sugar or egg for example) 2. You may use the internet or a cookbook to look for 1 recipe. 3. you may in-list the help of judge to stir, hold, time or change diaper if necessary. The dinner must be eatable by all family members and there cannot be any feeding the dog. Whining by the children or husband reduces your score. In the event that the dinner is burned, blackened, scorched or if the smoke detector goes off at anytime the contestant will be prevented from moving to the next round. In the event that the contestant proceeds to the next round they will be treated to dinner out, a baby sitter and a year supply of your choice of coffee or chocolate. The winner of the final round will be crowned The Leftover Queen and will be joyously celebrated for exactly 10 minutes or until the meal is finished.


What is this picture? Well, I am angered to say it is what is left of the paint someone poured over our Chevy Avalanche. The kids and I spent a wonderful week with my sister in Chesapeake Va. While the drive there always seams to take FOREVER and it seams we spend more time stopping than driving we always have a great time. This time was no different, except for this one incident.

I was awakened at 6:30 Thursday morning by my sister, remarkably calm as she said, "Kristin you have to get up. Someone poured a quart of latex paint on your truck. We called the police and you need to come down. John (her husband) is outside scrubbing the truck right now." Well, if that doesn't wake you from a sound sleep I don't know what will. I was awake and dressed faster than I would have ever believed. I stumbled out the front door to find that the driver side door was indeed covered with white paint. John retold the story from his perspective. It seams he found the truck at 6 am on his way to work. It was now about 6:30 and he was drenched in sweat, water and paint flecks. I stood there stunned. I guess I should have jumped up and started scrubbing. I couldn't move. It was a nightmare I was sure of it, only somehow I was awake.

We scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed for just about 5 hours. Dani and John apologized profusely. I know the guilt is heavy on their shoulders, only what could they have done? In truth they did more than one could have imagined. They were more than gracious with their time and energy. John even delayed going into work by 2 hours. What has struck me the most was how wonderful it is to have family around in a crisis.

Anger does not even cover the emotion I felt while working to scrub the paint off. As I scrubbed and rinsed, the emotions flooded over me. Anger, frustration, sadness, depression, and violation flooded me in wave after wave. Not only did this selfish act affect me but, those around me. As I continued to scrub the grief came hard and fast. I cried and cried. I could not believe this was happening. A vacation turned sour, for some summer fun? and and hour of laughs for some bored teens? What causes teens to do this? This act of complete stupidity took probably no more than 5 minutes for a group of teens to complete. Yet, the clean up took 5 hours. I had been violated, my family now not as innocent as we once were. I tried to swallow the lump in my throat at we explained to the children that a can of paint had "fallen" from a truck, an accident, a lie. A lie, we told to keep them feeling "safe" in the neighborhood. A lie to keep the grief and hurt from them. A lie to prevent one more causality in this ridiculous drama.

Cleaning the truck I noticed teens walking, riding bikes or skateboards through the neighborhood. Could one of these be the one to have done this? Riding by to take a look at the damage done? If it was, I hoped that they saw their damage to our property and I hope they came to regret their actions.

The truck came 99.9% clean. With only specks of white paint marring the black plastic trim. Over time I too will become 99.9% clean forgetting the damage done to my property and my family.


Hungry, Thirsty & Bored

These are the new names for my children. The additional 3 dwarfs no one mentions. I am forever hearing, "I'm Hungry"  "I'm Thirsty" or/and "I'm Bored"  I am not sure how this came about.  I am sure I named them Mark, Jack and Emma.  Yet, it seams every time I turn around I am being re-introduced to my children, as they state most emphatically I'm (insert hungry, bored or thirsty).  I have tried several different methods for ending this struggle.  My first approach was humor.  As they introduced themselves as one of THE 3 I respond with, "nice to meet you.  I'm Mom."  Or if I am feeling particularly mischievous, "Mucho Gusto.  Soy Mama."  This is typically received with little more than an eye roll.  Although, I do get an occasional sigh as they are again subjected to moms "attempt" at humor.  Next, I usually try logic as I say, "What should we do about that?"  or "How can I help?"'  Again the eye roll.  Sometimes they just  look at me blankly.  It is SO obvious that I am completely insane!  Well of course I need to wait on them.  "I need a drink."  Or  the more popular "What can I eat?."  follow in the logical progression.  At least we are getting somewhere.  OK. Next step.  "Do you know where the glasses are?"  If yes, then do you know where the water comes out of the faucet?  We progress logically through these steps until they are completely fed up and ignore me completely.  I'm bored is a bit trickier.  Being a busy mom, my solution to boredom usually includes a list of chores that need to be completed.  "Well, I am glad you are bored because I was looking for someone to clean...."  My third and last attempt is usually complete lack of empathy.  Basically, I ignore them until they get tired of me and move on.  I know this is not the most effective form of teaching.  Yet, the endless stream of demands on a day to day basis can really drive a mom insane.  Some times they may be asking nicely yet what I hear is, "WENCH, FETCH ME MY DINNER."  "THE KING IS IN NEED OF HIS ENTERTAINMENT!"  "HOW MANY TIMES DO I NEED TO REMIND YOU THAT MY GLASS IS TO REMAIN FULL!"  As a parent we try to teach our children to be self sufficient.  It is a long road we travel to get there.  I know perhaps someday I will be pleased with the results. (I hope, I hope, I hope) . For now I suffer daily as my children insist on being called Hungry, Thirsty and Bored. Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho.


Princess Emma learns to sew

Emma has been asking, and asking and asking, (ok pestering at this point) to learn to sew. I know, I should teach her when she is interested but for some reason I am restraining myself. Quite a bit of my hesitancy is that Emma and I, like many mother daughter pairs, tend to disagree on quite a bit. I just don't want this learning experience to be a big huge fight. I worry she is not old enough, that her dexterity is not quite what it needs to be or that I will not be patient enough. I searched through several websites looking for suggestions on teaching kids to sew. Most of the sites are for teaching older children. Plenty of advice, good advice, I just couldn't seem to commit. I know the draw for her is the sewing machine. With all its pretty knobs, dials and a cool foot petal who wouldn't want to learn. I have tried in the past to teach her to sew by hand, and well that was just not what she was looking for, she wants the machine!

I suck it up and decide on a pattern. I know if I let Emma choose we will be in WAY over our heads. I let her go through several bins of fabric and she settles on some pink (big surprise, I know). As I start to explain many of the things I am doing with her, I realize she has payed a lot of attention while I have been working because she is completely understanding everything I say. She is able to answer my questions and calmly, ask me questions about things she doesn't know. There is no fighting, no arguing and defiantly no "MOM, I know!"

It was most pleasant. As we progressed I could feel myself deflate. The stress I had been holding in my shoulders relaxed. I felt like I could finally take a big breath. I didn't tell Emma what we were making because I thought it would be fun to watch the project emerge. She tried several times to guess but eventually I told her. "A hair scrunchie?" she asked. Yeah, a hair scrunchie! I thought she would be proud to be able to wear the thing she made. I thought it would be really cute. That she would want to tell all her friends about it! "Hey, Look at this! I did this with my really cool Mom!" I am such a fool. She finished the project but, with a lot less enthusiasm than I expected. And I have to give her credit she did put it in her hair, briefly so I could take a picture. When we were done I watched her rip it out and set it on the dresser, where it still sits. When I asked her why she didn't want to wear it she replied. "Mom, I like that you helped me. And I am glad I learned to sew. But there is NO WAY I am wearing that thing out in public!"

Perhaps next time I'll get her lessons. But it's cute Right?


yet, another plaid quilt

I know this may sound a bit redundant but I have finished yet again another quilt. And yes, before you asks it has plaid in it. Oddly enough it is called Checkerboard Square. I pulled the pattern from the one and only quilting magazine I brought with me from El Paso, February 2009 American Patchwork & Quilting This quilt just sort of tumbled into my lap. I am not sure when I decided to make this, it just sort of happened. It was much like changing your mind at the last minute. I was planning what I was going to do next. Imagining how much I would have to buy to do whatever it was, funny how I cannot even remember what it was now. Then this quilt just popped out at me and I thought "Hey, I think I have enough in my stash to make this quilt. Then I won't have to buy anything." I thought I was being so ingenious.

The quilt required two types of plaid, dark blue and black and a dark black plaid and assorted brights. Well, while I did have the brights required, I did not have any dark plaids. (I believe I mentioned my obsessive use of them lately.) It's OK I thought I have plenty of fabric! HA. Weeks went by and I would pull out this and that, set it out, like it, then hate it, then try something new. Finally, I decided I would have to buy something. Funny how that works isn't it. I searched and searched and searched. I could not find the fabric I wanted! Plaid is apparently not an "in" thing, not that you can tell from my quilting. I resorted to ordering online. I hate to order online fabric. Half of the enjoyment of picking out fabric is being able to touch it, feel it, roll it between your fingers and enjoy it. Buying it online is so impersonal, so sensory depriving. I sucked it up and ordered two plaids. Well, when they arrived I was SO NOT happy with the look of the two together. Imagine that. The colors on my monitor were not true to the fabric, another disadvantage to online buying, I might add. What to do? Should I buy yet another fabric? Is it worth dragging three kids to the fabric store? Why do the quilting Gods taunt me so? It was then I realized that the back of the plaid had a different look than the front. That's IT! It just might work. The contrast is subtle. Depending on the light it is difficult to tell, but it looks like a similar yet entirely different fabric. Genius I tell you! I'll admit, until the end when the quilt was complete, I was unsure if it would work. I asked anyone who I could drag over to the desk, "What do you think? You think this enough of a contrast?" While my survey was a bit limited, and only Ginger really had an opinion, I went ahead. Onward!! And I am proud to say It worked! Yahoo! And I hardly had to buy anything! Genius. I know.



Lists are great if you need them. I am forever making lists, which then I loose, misplace or generally disregard. I am that person who is at the grocery store trying to remember where the list is and what it might have on it. I often find myself returning home, only to find the item that I went to the store to buy I have forgotten. My lists often turn up in the most unlikely places, in my pants pockets, the washer, the dryer, the floor of the car, the bottom of my purse. I have even pulled a list out of the receipt file in the file cabinet. (My filing is entirely another story.) Therefore, I have a huge appreciation for people who can use lists efficiently.

John is a prime example of someone who utilizes lists to their full potential. I admire the way he not only writes things down, but will keep tabs on "the list" for weeks until it is completed. If he ever forgets his list he will call me and say something like,"I need the number of such-and-such. It is on the back of the shell gas receipt, in the top drawer of the desk, next to the stapler." (no lie, true story) I am very envious of the feeling one must get when checking off a list. It must be a great sense of accomplishment to cross through a task and know it is completed. I am not sure why I have such a problem with lists. I guess it is just the free spirit in me that has difficulty with lists. Or it could be the fact that I have three kids, or that I am getting older. Naw, defiantly the free-spirit thing.

I must on some level have the need for "checks" in my life. I have completed yet another quilt and started on a fifth. I was looking over my last three quilts and I began to see a theme. They all have check or plaid fabric. Hmm. Perhaps, my subconscious is trying to tell me something. Perhaps, there is some greater sense of purpose that comes from "checking" off the next quilt. Perhaps, feel the need to "check" off new skills, new fabrics or new patterns. Perhaps, I am going slowly insane and have developed OCD and I can only work with "checks." I am not sure of the reason but, I believe it is time to buy some solids.

This quilt which is again from the book Quick Cut Quilts, is entitled, oddly enough, Checkerboard Plaid.

Complete Quilt-Check



Yesterday the family set out to explore Dreaher Island State Park. It was a short 45 minute drive over to the other side of Lake Murray but well worth it. The Island is actually several Islands that are linked together. There is camping, hiking and boating available so this makes it a great place for a potential weekend getaway. We drove around and explored the park. After a brief stop at the information center for a map we decided to explore the campground. The campground is beautiful full of large mature trees and right on the water. BEAUTIFUL! We found an empty campsite and decided to let everyone explore. The kids, being kids, headed straight for the water. Mark dug out the fishing gear and promptly got his line tangled in some driftwood. Jack and Emma began gathering sticks for some imaginary structure. It was a humid day but the breeze off of the lake made it almost tolerable. The kids were having a great time. Mark picked up a rock the size of his head and chucked it into the lake. John immediately scolded him at the unnecessary size of his rock, not to mention he through it right by where Emma was standing. Not two seconds, later Jack picks up another large rock and chucks it. John says something like, "Jack I just told Mark not to do that!" To which Jack replies, "I didn't know you meant me too?" John gives Jack a look of disappointment and exclaims, "Jack just because Mark does something does not mean that you should to it." It was then that he pulled out the old, "If Mark jumped off a bridge would you do it." Jack thought for a while and then said, "Well, Dad. It would depend how high up the bridge was and if Mark survived the jump." At least he would think about it first.


Happy Birthday Emma!

What to you get a princess for her birthday? A day at the spa, of course!

Emma and I spent the afternoon getting our hair done. Emma was super happy and very excited. Emma was treated to a deep hair conditioner. All of that pool and lake water is taking it's toll on her curly locks. She was so cute trying to act mature and patient, all the while wanting to do her little happy dance. She donned the hair cape and twirled around like it was the best thing ever. She happily popped up into the chair and chatted with Ms. Francine. I couldn't get over how big she looked. Usually she is "the baby". When I have her out by herself I am surprised how her annoying little attitude all but vanishes.

She cracked me up (and most of the hairdressers). She jumped up into the chair to have her hair washed and sighed. "This is so relaxing. I can forget about all my troubles." Oh, to be 8 and have problems! She was having a marvelous time!

When she found out that she would be sitting under the dryer. I think she was truly in heaven. She sat primly and played her DS and enjoyed every minute of it!

When we were done she couldn't stop playing with her lovely locks, telling all who would listen how this was the best birthday yet! Then she stopped me on the way out and said, "Momma, This day could only be better if we went shopping!" Ahh, a girl after my own heart.



Last week was a HUGE week for milestones. As a mom, I know my kids are getting bigger, older and smarter, at least they are supposed to be. But often it is hard to witness this in action. With babies and toddlers you see their progress much more frequently. They sit up, crawl, walk and run all within a year. As they age there are days when it seams they will never get out of one particular stage or another. A child that does not remember to put their shoes away one day certainly cannot remember to do so, regardless of the number of times they are reminded, within the same year or decade. Every once and a while, I look at my kids and think, "When did they get so big?" This week I was absolutely floored with their accomplishments.

We spent the better part of the week on the boat. The week went quickly and with the Pierces here it seamed to flow seamlessly. Our mornings were spent lazily making big breakfasts and waking slowly, the days were full of boating and evenings were for grown-up time. Wow, yes I said GROWN-UP time! With all four adults helping out the chores almost became fun, at the very least they were tolerable. Even the kids got along with rarely a fight.

We have been trying to teach Mark to water-ski since he was about 9 years-old. He bravely tried out the trainer skis and suffered a dunking or thirty before coming out exhausted. Year after year we worked on the trainer skis. He has been able to ski for the past 3 years without much of a problem. Well the problem was he never was very enthusiastic about it. It seamed he half heartily would try it once or twice a year. The rest of the days on the boat he was contented with tubing, which is fine. This year because of his growth spurt and his increased strength we decided to let him use the adult skis. We were worried about the weight of the skis and well just about everything that could go wrong since he is after all still a kid. Boy, did he prove us wrong. He popped out of the water the first time and away we went. There were a few adjustments to be made in the learning curve, but nothing 3 or 4 tries didn't iron out. By the end of the week he was doing tricks! I couldn't believe it. He was having a blast. Every time we would get ready to go out he would state, "I get to ski first right?" Boy oh boy was it exciting.

Jack was my next surprise. He has always been afraid of water. It took him 7 years before he would even put his face underwater. The boat has been a source of stress for him, and now with his broken finger, acquired while boating, it appeared he would forever be "concerned" about going out on the boat. I'll admit our first trip on the boat after "the finger" incident was a bit shaky. But he warmed back up to the boat and even to swimming in the lake. He would however, under no circumstances, ski or tube. It was just fine and dandy that the others did it but he would just watch from the comfort of the boat. This week not only did he tube slowly but he tubed FAST. It was a huge comfort watching him tube with Abby and Mark. I watched is discomfort ease and his smile grow. By the end of the week he actually let go of the tube and purposely fell off the tube while we were moving. Wow-oh-wow!

Emma was yet another surprise. She has tubed before but always with mom or dad and never fast, and never out of the wake. Despite pleading and begging from Abby and Ellen, Emma refused to ride with them until the last day. What changed, I have no clue. With Emma one can never tell. With Jack and Mark it was obvious that the discussions on the Physics and Mechanics of waters affect on the tube, boat and skis made a difference. With Emma I guess she just felt like it. What ever the reason she broke free from tubing with Mom and Dad. Now, it is much cooler to tube with Abby and Ellen. Will it last who knows. But it was great to watch while it happened.

Abby and Ellen even made great strides in the water. Both of them tried skiing and had much success. It was a joy to watch their fears fade and their confidence in themselves grow. We practically had to bribe Ellen to get her back in the boat. She definitely had the mind set she was going to get this and do it NOW!

Everyone set a milestone this week. Even mom who was able to take 3 naps in one week! woohoo! All and all it was a great week!


Life's A Beach!

One of the things on our "to do" list this week was to head down to the beach. South Carolina offers a plethora of beaches, actually the entire east side of the state, amazing. Charleston is only 2 hours from us and it came highly recommended. Wednesday morning we all headed off for Folly's Beach. The kids were super excited, as was the case most of the week. It took every ounce of patience to get us there, but we did make it.

We arrived at high tide which made beach space highly prized. But within an hour or two the beach was opening and the shells were plentiful.

The ocean is so beautiful and I love the sound of the waves and the wind. I discovered that the beach, even with hundreds of people around you, is very peaceful and therapeutic. The sounds of the waves completely drowned out the kids screeching, yelling and whining. While the ocean did a fair job of eliminating the fighting. There was much to do and the kids, and even the adults had a great time.
It was highly frustrating to two-year-old John to discover that the ocean was quite "yucky."

After a full day of building sandcastles, body surfing, searching for shells and consuming large quantities of salt water we headed back. It was wonderful!