Friday, July 3, 2015

Five on Friday: Rules for the Summer

Hey kids: you know your parents give you a lot of freedom around here (don't you?) But once in awhile, we really just need to lay down the law. 

Now is one of those times.

 It's summer and there are certain rules that apply now that don't apply the rest of the year. Learn and obey:

1. Stop. Wearing. Socks. For real. It's barefoot and sandal season, yo. Stop making me wash, dry, sort and fold socks. (Exception: big kids that do their own laundry can wear socks every day if they're weirdos that wear socks all summer long.)

2. We don’t need any more animals, dead or alive, in the house. They are welcome to live outside. (This also applies to bones found in the woods. And rocks.)

3.  We only eat outside now. That means you. Out. With that crumby or drippy whatever it is in your hand. Out. Side. Now.

4.  I know during the school year you were allowed to come downstairs at 7:30 am. Now that time is 8:00 am. Anyone that stays until 8 gets bonus points and no, I don’t know exactly what that means yet.

5.  Can we aim for no ER visits? I mean, this one kind of applies year--round but wearing a cast in the summer is the pits. Just try your best.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Five on Friday: Things I Learned When My Pretend Friend Came to Visit for a Week

1. She's really real! Not pretend at all!

Just kidding, I had a pretty good idea after being friends online for a decade that she was a real, live person. A few hours before she arrived, I had a mini freak-out moment. "Did I really say they could stay all week? What if they're annoying? What if their five kids are terrible?"

I couldn’t have been more wrong (thank goodness!) The kids zippered right in together, much like the way traffic does getting into the Holland Tunnel (of which our Midwestern friends were exposed to both on the way into and the way out of the city on our day trip). They very comfortably meshed together, happily doubling the size of our families for one week.

Here are some things I learned during their stay:

1. Somehow, in some inexplicable way, feeding fourteen people did not seem like much of a difference from feeding seven (is that sort of like when people swear going from 2 to 3 kids is a nearly unnoticeable difference?)

2. Apparently some people actually refer to “sneakers”  as “tennis shoes.”

3. Having out-of-state guests makes one really appreciate and enjoy the many things to do in one’s own area. For the past two summers I’ve been so busy with the kids we barely made it to the Jersey Shore even though they love going. This year because of our visiting friends we made it there in the first week off from school! It was also fun introducing regional foods with them that they don't have in Indiana, like pork roll and disco fries, or that are just better in New Jersey, like bagels and pizza (if I do say so myself).

4. Other people exist that raise their large broods the way that we do—perhaps more lax than other people with things like nudity and filth while strict with other things like good manners and eating. I’m so impressed that in four nights and five long, activity-packed days, the only breakdowns were from my youngest, who is, after all, the youngest and was a little sick at the start of the week and definitely overtired by the end.

     5. Inviting a passionate, talented, professional photographer to stay with you is a great idea. I highly recommend it--but if you can't do that, you should check out my friend's work on her page: Raincliffs Photography

      Thanks Em and Chris for a wonderful visit. I'm so thankful the Internet brought us together!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Five on Friday: Signs of Summer

It's my kids' last day of school and my oldest daughter's 8th grade graduation tonight, but that's not the only way I know summer has really arrived at my house. There's also:

1. We've hardly been to the beach yet but when I open the dryer, sand falls out. It's also there when I drain the tub.

2. I'm hyper-aware of my toes' existence because now that they're exposed EVERYONE KEEPS STEPPING ON THEM ALL THE TIME.

3. Getting the littles to bed on time is impossible.

4. I can't find my deck rail anymore. It's covered with towels.

5. I keep trying to pick freckes off the kids in my relentless quest to find deer ticks.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Five on Friday: All About A for her Birthday

"Some people have surprise pregnancies, we have surprise babies."

We didn't expect this sassy Little Miss but of course we couldn't imagine our lives without her. She turned five yesterday and so today's list is all about her. Here are some memorable moments from her first five years:

1. Age 22 months:  I had her at the Amish market when an older bearded man walked by. She shouted "MAMA! Ho ho ho!" (Thus began a series of referring to various strangers as Santa, the worst of which was a woman who was not particularly old nor round.)

2. Age 23 months:  I was cooking and gave her some cheese to eat. She came back and said "nose" and I said, "Yes you have a nose." She came back a minute later and we repeated that conversation. The third time she came in I asked, "where is your cheese?" and she said, "nose" so I had to fish it out. It was gross. (Thus began a series of putting things up her nose. More cheese, legos, whatever.)

3. Age 2.5 years: We were at the library and passed a baby in a carseat on the floor on our way to go check out. She said to me, "Mommy, I gunna go fight da baby, 'kay?" (She didn't. But she does still fight.)

4. Age almost 3: Very cheerfully: "I hate you! I like Daddy! He my sister!!" (Thus began . . . oh wait, never mind. She's obsessed with Mama now, not Daddy.)

5. Age almost 3: Daddy O put her on the potty before bed. She said she didn't have to go, he said she had to try. She sat and waited and then said, "Come on pee pee, you sleepin' in my (va-)gina???" (And, you guessed it, she's still obsessed with talking about private parts!)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Five on Friday: Getting Ready for Summer

Yesterday on I shared an essay that I originally wrote last June about how I'm not worried about summer learning loss ( ) because my ids do a different ind of learning in the lazy days of summer.  While it's still true that I plan on letting my ids have a fun active summer with lots of time for playing in the woods and dirt and being bored, I still do need to do some thinking ahead to make our summer go smoothly.

Here are some ideas I've stockpiled so far:

1. Babysitting co-op! My youngest is done with preschool but the big kids are not done until the 19th, which means it's  just her and me for a few wees...or is it? Not anymore! With this co-op in place, I'll watch 3-4 kids three mornings and then I'll get seven mornings of dropping my kid at the other participants' houses. WIN WIN.

2. Ice pops! Perfect summer snack but of course I like to try to keep them healthy most of the time--and of course a five kids do not agree on a favorite flavor.  So what I've started doing is making 2-3 flavors at once and pouring them into the molds and putting the extra in mason  jars in the fridge. When they eat ice pops, I rinse the molds and then pour some more from the mason  jars and place back in freezer. Our two favorite recipes as of late are a tofu-chocolate pop from Thug Kitchen ( ("There's tofu in here???") and a creamsicle from Super Healthy Kids (

3. I hit half price day at the thrift shop without kids and  stocked up on books they haven't read yet. I hate taking library books out anywhere so these new exciting books will be great for day trips. I also picked up two videos they haven't seen but I think they'll like for a rainy day or bringing to my parents' lake house.

4. Stockpiling ideas of things I don't usually let them do so can keep them quite busy: fill air mattress up and jump on it, hammer nails into pieces of wood, spray paint branches or deer bones they find in the woods.

5. Dust off the facebook group I started last year and put a ton of local parents on--it's got a really original name: "People with kids who like to do stuff." It's a great place for people to share ideas of free, cheap, fun things to do in our area.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Five on Friday: Camping Serendip-Style

A picture-heavy list today with highlights from our camping trip last weekend . . .


1. There was a lot of gas being passed. Luckily I had my handy-dandy scarf to double as a gas mask.

2. Mad libs for entertainment, with lots of potty humor, naturally.


3. Drip castles! So mesmerizing and nostalgic.

4. Dead turtles! My youngest found this tiny little dead diamond-back terrapin turtle on the bay beach. A volunteer who was there teaching us about the horseshoe crabs told us it might have been an egg that never hatched (and then the eggshell part decomposed). It's so small and perfect, everyone has been fascinated by it.


5. Ah, nothing says, "THE SERENDIP CREW IS HERE!" like hoisting a child on to the roof of the bathroom to retrieve a ball. This might have happened more than once.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Five on Friday: Games Young People Play (A Double Feature!)

You know kids, they only think they want toys. The novelty of a new Lego set or racetrack wears off in about five minutes--but games they create with their siblings last and last. In between the ever-present bickering lately (I'm hearing a lot about Mercury being in retrograde, can that stop now? Please?) are bouts of all five kids playing these awesome games they've made up together. It's been making me reminisce about the games I used to play with my sisters when we were growing up.  So for today's Five on Friday list, a double feature!

Games we played:

1. CAVEY: Played in the play yard where the swing set and play house were. My sister J and neighbor H lived in the little house and I was a caveman named (you guessed it) Cavey who constantly messed things up and wasn't allowed in the house. Hey, wait a minute . . . 

2. DOCTOR, DOCTOR: One sister would leave the room while the other three tangled up with each other in a human knot on the floor and then shouted, "Doctor! Doctor!" Other sister came back and had to detangle the knot.

3.  ORPHANS: So many games revolved around being shipwrecked, lost in the woods or somehow otherwise becoming oprhaned and having to live on our own. I blame Disney.

4.  NURSE GOODLADY:  Once when my younger sister got sick at the end of the summer I thought it would be fun to help take care of her and so I became Nurse Goodlady (we were very creative with the names, as you can tell). She got better. I got Scarlet Fever. Not even joking.

5. YOU CAN'T COME IN HERE:  I'll admit, I was trying to freak my sister out with this but then it turned into a game. We'd sit at the kitchen table doing nothing and then I'd look up at the door and say in a spooky voice, "You . . . can't . . . come . . . in . . . here!" Then we'd run and scream and jump on my parents' bed and kick each other's legs. That was fun, apparently.

Games they play:

1. MURPHY'S LAW: Try to come up with the worst possible thing you could say in various scenarios. Vote on winner.

2. FLOOR IS LAVA: Just what it sounds like. You can't touch the floor so elaborate paths made up of pillows, couch cushions, jackets, etc. are strewn about to be able to safely get around the house.

3. PANDA BRAWL: A variation on #2 in which you try to push your siblings into the lava.

4.  FIRST IMPRESSIONS: One person says the name of a well-known book or movie character and a line to say. Everyone else has to say the line the way the character would and then there is a vote to choose the best one. I was recently the champ in speaking like The Incredible's Frozone in saying, "The wisteria is growing like crazy." (Though G said it was too much like regular old Samuel L. Jackson and not enough like Frozone I still won.)

5. GRAVITY'S SIDEWAYS: In which they basically slither around on the floor grabbing on to furniture in order to not float up and away. A variation called "MOUNTAIN CLIMBER" is pretty much the same but involves a grappling hook (which I believe is a plastic pirate's hook-hand and some yarn).

Friday, May 15, 2015

Five on Friday: Mother's Day Goodness

I don't really get into Mother's Day all that much. I don't expect my family to spend money on gifts and the last thing I'd ever want is for my children to bring food to my bed. I mainly want the kids to be nice to me and make me cute things, which is what I'd like on any given day.

Well they were nice to me and did make me cute things so I suppose that counts as a successful Mother's Day. Here are some highlights from the day:

1. Kids helping me in the garden for hours with minimal complaint (okay fine an occasional, "IT'S MOTHER'S DAY" reminder was needed when someone started to whine).

2. This card. "Why is my hair blonde?" "I couldn't find a brown marker."

3. The "Klee-Nar" robot. "This is just a prototype for the real one you'll make me one day, right?" "Nope."

4. These AMAZING hand drawn cards, a set of six villainesses, by my oldest daughter (that came with a really special letter that made me cry)

 5. And FOUR plants . . . see that one all the way on the right? That Z brought home on Thursday but told me was for his oldest sister? Apparently it was all just a ruse. He said that so he could give it to ME on Sunday (and no, he didn't just say that to save face, this story was confirmed by sister and Daddy-O). What a cute little sneak.