Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Homework! Homework! Give me a break!

"Homework!  Homework! Give me a break!"

We are only in  week two and I am shouting this at the top of my lungs, throwing my glasses off my face and grabbing a Summit Bar to munch on.


Does any one else remember that commercial or am I just showing my old age?  You've got to love the grainy footage from 1981!

Anyway, back to my complaining.  Peter had a ton of homework over the weekend but got in done and managed to do some fun things as well.  He hopped into the car on Monday afternoon and said that he's got so much he better get started in the car.

So he whipped out a pencil and a workbook and got to it.  He got home, grabbed a snack and immediately started back in on the homework.  Around 4:45 (well over an hour into his homework) he starts to freak out a bit.  "Mom, I'm never going to get this done before Boy Scouts.  And if I don't get it done before Boy Scouts when we get home, I'm going to be up for hours."

I calmed him down (y'all, this 12 year-old can still freak out much like he did at 2) and we went over everything he had to do.  And based on everything he had to do, I made the executive decision that he was not going to be able to go to Boy Scouts. 

He finally finished his homework around 8:00.  Now don't think he was continually at work on this.  He likes to work for a bit, go outside and shoot 10 baskets, work more, take a 10 basket break.  It works for him if he knows there's a break coming up between the work. 

Yesterday, his load was homework load was much more manageable but Sarah had a ton of it.  She got to work on it at 3:15 and worked hard until almost 5:00 (with no breaks because she can't stand to stop if she knows she's not done).  She has just started swimming one night a week for the next two months and she had to get dressed so we could go to that.  We left around 5:30 and got home around 7:30.  We ate dinner and then she worked on her homework for another 45 minutes and then she was finally done.

The swimming program she is doing is either 1, 2 or 3 nights a week.  Since this is her first time in this program and her first year in middle school, we went with one night a week.  She really wanted to do 2 but I just felt like it would be too much.  And now I'm glad I chose the 1 night option.

I don't feel like the kids are overscheduled but on nights when their homework load is just too much, it makes me wonder.  I know the general rule is 10 minutes per grade which would put Sarah at 60 minutes a night and Peter at 70 minutes but they are waaaaaaay over that guideline the last couple of nights.  I know that their school is tough and it won't be like this every night but YIKES!  What a way to start the year.

Too bad they don't still make Summit Bars because I think we could all use one!

Monday, August 31, 2015

First week - done!

The first week is in the books and we're already on to week two!  And I have to say, it went pretty smoothly.

There were a few hitches - a uniform malfunction and a forgotten assignment - but we moved passed those very quickly  and overall, it was a very good week.

Both kids are very happy to be back and they seem to be excited about their teachers and classes.

The both had a lot of homework this weekend and the first thing Peter said when he hopped in the car on Friday afternoon was, "Can we get my haircut tomorrow?  I have a ton of homework and I want to get started on it right away."

I knew the barber shop would be less busy at 3:00 on a Friday that at 11:00 on a Saturday but he was adamant and if he really wanted to get started on his homework (on a Friday!) I wasn't going to stop him.

For the past two years, Dan and I have been trying to get him to start his weekend homework on Friday instead of leaving it all until Sunday afternoon but procrastination and Peter are best buddies so no amount of cajoling has ever worked.

He came right in on Friday afternoon, changed his clothes (into a suit, I might add) and got to work.  When he came down in his suit, I questioned his wardrobe choice.  His response?  "Mom, all the great scientists do their work in suits.  Einstein, for example."

Silly boy!


Um, okay.  I went with it.  Who am I to question when a boy sits down on Friday to do his homework.

So, he sat at the table from 3:30 until 5:00 working on his homework.  Then Colton came over to play and gave him a quizzical look and Peter laughed and went upstairs to change out of his too small (I just bought in January!) suit.  Colton stayed for an hour and after he left, Peter sat down to work on his homework.  He finished most of it on Friday but still had to work on a report that's due on Tuesday.

He to get his hair cut and  had a basketball pool party on Saturday so no suit wearing/studying took place then.  But after Mass and Sunday lunch at my parent's house, he immediately started to work on his report and got finished a day early.

Peter and some of the boys from the basketball team.  Apparently when not flashing gang signs, they were playing water polo - which Peter described as "like playing basketball and soccer in the water".

I'm hoping this trend of getting things done sooner rather than later continues!  And I'm wondering if I should get him a new suit? 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sailing on the Cape.

I just realized yesterday that I had a few pictures from our trip to the Cape that didn't make it to my blog post.  These pictures were on Dan's phone so they didn't get downloaded with the rest of them.

When Dan was growing up he and his mom and brothers and sister spent every summer at their house on the Cape.  His Dad would drive down on Friday evening after work and stay until Sunday afternoon.  Dan loved his summers on the Cape.

He and all his siblings took sailing lessons and are all good sailors.  Their family had a Beetle Cat and would  take it out on Lewis Bay.

Dan's sister owns a sail boat now that she races in the D.C. area but she also has a smaller one that she keeps in Massachusetts.  She had it at the Cape when we were down this year and she took us for a sail.

The kids had a blast and we really enjoyed our afternoon on the water.

Sarah and Aunt Cathy

The old man and the sea.

Cathy, Peter, and me cheesing for the camera!
My little cutie steering the boat!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It was good but don't make it again.

My paternal grandma was a good cook.  Not sure if she enjoyed it or not because back then you made everything from scratch.  As soon as you could buy bread in a loaf at the store she stopped baking it from scratch.  And she thought boxed cake mixes were a gift from God. 

Grandma spent all of her life cooking for her 7 kids and all the hungry farm hands.  (My grandparents owned a dairy farm.) I have several of her old cookbooks, the majority of which are your basic church cookbooks where all the members submit their favorite recipes.  She's got many of these recipes circled throughout the books.

She also liked to clip recipes from the newspaper, from magazines and from ingredient packages.  I have several composition notebooks from the 1960's where she has glued many of these found recipes. 

All these recipes  lead me to believe that she liked to try new dishes and wasn't just making the same things over and over again.  And I'm the same way. 

Dan always complains that I should find 10 - 15 things, learn to make them well and be done with it.  He doesn't like all of my experimenting.  But in my defense, I can't find 15 things that we all like or that we would all be happy eating on repeat for the next 10 years. 

So in my never ending quest to find something we all like, I'm always trying something new.  (I think my grandmother would have loved Pinterest!)

Last night, I tried Ina Garten's  Baked Lemon Chicken.  


Isn't this so pretty? 

I thought it was a really good chicken dish.  It was moist and juicy and very lemony.

Peter thought it was "too lemony".  Dan said it was "nothing special".  And Sarah said it was "very good".  (However, the fact that she left most of it on her plate leads me to believe she felt otherwise.  She's really good about telling me how good dinner is even though I can tell she really doesn't like it.)

And at the end of dinner Dan declared, "It was good but don't make it again."

And we all got a good laugh because according to my parents, that's what my grandpa would say to my grandma after she made something new and he didn't like it.  The first time I heard this story I was a little annoyed.  I could imagine my grandma toiling away in the kitchen over a new dish and hoping it would be something her husband would like.  And then to hear, "It was good but don't make it again" had to be a bit of a let down.

However, after my own failed attempts at new dishes and hearing critiques from the peanut gallery, I can see where he was trying to let her know how he felt without hurting her feelings.  Instead of telling her everything that was wrong with the dish, he told her it was good but no need to make it again. 

And I'm guessing she appreciated being let down easily and knowing that she didn't need to waste her time on that one again.  But I'm also guessing that she was still slightly annoyed because I imagine she thought the dish was just fine!

Don't feel too bad for me though.  Not everything I try gets "It was good but don't make it again."

Last week I tried this dish and it was met with three hearty declarations of "This is really good!"  I, thought it was okay but since they all three really liked it, I will be putting this in the rotation and adding it to my list of things I make that my family actually likes.  Now I just need 14 more....


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Day of School!

The kids had their first day back to school yesterday and I would be a horrible blogger if I didn't document it.

Here are my 6th grader and my 7th grader:

The annual posed shot!

The annual silly shot!

And they way they normally look at each other....just keeping it real!

They both had a great first day.  Here's hoping to a great year!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: It's the end of summer vacation and I can't believe it!

Let's do some quick takes!  How about 7 of them?

1.  I know everyone says this but I can not believe how fast the summer has gone by!  And experience tells me that the older the kids get the faster the summers (and years in general) fly by.  And you know what school starting means...check in Monday for my obligatory mom blogger post with back-to-school pictures!  You know you're excited!

2.  My husband (who is in charge of the garden) plants sunflower seeds every year.  And being the frugal and sentimental man that he is, he takes seeds from the current years dead flowers and saves them and replants those seeds the next year.  Here he is with one of this years flowers which by the way, is a fourth generation flower!

 Last year the sunflowers didn't grow very tall but this year they are huge!  I think it's a perfect combination of hot sun and lots of rain.  Who knows?!  At the end of the season, he'll harvest some seeds and save them and he'll do it all over again next summer!

3. I took Peter to the eye doctor earlier this week for his annual exam and while we were waiting to go back, we played around with some new frames.  He kept choosing the most horrible glasses to try on.  We had the best time laughing at all the different styles he chose.  We decided these made him look like Bill Gates circa 1980:



Okay... perhaps Peter has less hair than Mr. Gates but you get my drift.  Peter's eyes haven't changed since last year so he's sticking with his current (rarely worn except for school and even then only if he's in the back of the class) pair.

3.  We always have lots of peppers in the garden and this year is no different.  So I tried my hand at pepper jelly.  Ya'll - it was so good and so easy that I'm making another batch today!


I am excited to get this stuff on top of some cream cheese and crackers.  And I think it's also going to be really good over a pork tenderloin that's cooking in the crock pot.  YUM!

4.  And speaking of yum- when we took our bike ride from Falmouth to Woods Hole, we had some really good bruschetta at our lunch stop.  Sarah and I replicated it as best we could this past weekend.  She and I scarfed it up.  So good!  (And yes, the tomatoes and basil are from our beloved little garden.)


5.  And speaking of our garden...

I have absolutely loved having fresh flowers all summer.  I can not tell you how many smiles they have brought me.  I'm going to be sad when they are gone.

6.  The kids are excited about school starting...not because they are ready to learn but because they miss their school friends.  I'm predicting that they will be hopping out of bed on Monday and Tuesday but by Wednesday I will be dragging/threatening them.  I have a new plan though...now that they are both in middle school, they will be getting up to their alarm clocks.  No more mom waking them....we'll see how it goes.

7. We have a fairly laid back weekend on tap.  A Boys Scout event tonight, a Girl Scout event on Sunday afternoon, basketball workshop and yard work and errands in between.  I hope you all have a great weekend and enjoy what's left of summer vacation!

Head over to Kelly's for more quick takes!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Cape Cod!

Y'all!  I'm back!  Did you even notice that I was gone?

I posted three crock pot recipes on July 29th and then headed to Cape Cod on July 30th and we didn't get back until August 9th.  And since then, I've been in the middle of PTO planning meetings, doctors appointments, dentist appointments and back-to-school shoe shopping! (One of the perks of attending a Catholic school is that I had already ordered all the uniform pieces from Land's End before we left for the Cape so shoe shopping is the only thing we had to do. And for that Peter, my non-shopper, is very grateful.)

We had a great time at the Cape.  We got to see Dan's sister for a couple of days.  We spent a lot of time with Dan's Uncle Bob and we also got to see Dan's brother and sister-in-law for lunch.  It was looking like we weren't going to get to spend any time with them so the fact that we were able to see them for lunch was a great bonus!  Although due to scheduling the kid's didn't get to see their cousin, Jillian and play their normal round of mini-golf and they were very disappointed about that.

We did a few new things that we hadn't done on past visits to the Cape.

We took a boat ride from Chatham and saw the seals:








The tide was going out so the sand bars were starting to emerge and all the seals flocked to them to lay on them.  We saw a ton of seals.  And they sounded like wounded cows!

We also strapped our bikes onto the back of the car and headed to Falmouth.  We parked and hopped on the Shining Sea Bike Trail.

From the official Cape Cod Bike GuideThe Shining Sea Bikeway (SSB) was named for a line in the song America The Beautiful, written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates. It follows the original route of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad that used to run from Buzzards Bay, through North and West Falmouth, around Woods Hole and into Falmouth Station. In the early 1970's the Town of Falmouth purchased the right of way, tore up the tracks and officially opened the 3.3-mile Shining Sea Bikeway in 1975. In 2009, a new 7.4-mile section was added, extending the trail to North Falmouth. This addition was built with a $3.2 million federal grant. Now the SSB runs 10.7 miles from County Road in North Falmouth all the way to the Steamship Authority parking lot in Woods Hole.

We biked the 3 and half miles from Falmouth to Woods Hole and got to see beautiful scenery - salt marshes, the ocean, rocky beaches, and several Osprey nests.  It was flat and breezy and absolutely perfect.  And when we got to Woods Hole, we hopped off our bikes and parked them at the Steamship Authority and walked around Woods Hole.  We found a nice place for lunch and after lunch we got back on our backs for the ride back to Falmouth.  We walked around Falmouth for a bit and got cupcakes.  It was such a great day.  I would definitely do that trail again!

Here are a few pictures from our ride:

Look at the beautiful view behind us.  That was our view for a lot of the ride!

Feeding the ducks at the restaurant.

Walking back to the bikes.

Cupcakes in Falmouth!



We also went to the Cape Cod Inflatable Park. Y'all!  This place was so much fun! They had something for everyone.

They had water slides (but we went at night after those had closed down), all kinds of bounce houses (of course, my kids were too old for those) and a whole section called The Challenge.  That's where my kids hung out most of the time. 








Sorry for the grainy cell phone snaps.  The kids had a blast and Sarah said the only thing that would have made the place more phone would have been if she could have had all of her friends there with her!

In addition to all of the new things we did on the Cape this year, we also spent lots of time on the beach:















And we got ice cream.  Lots of ice cream.  The Cape has so many good ice cream places.  We went out for ice cream 6 times and we only repeated the place once.  And I'm not even going to complain about how much weight I gained on vacation. 


 And we biked to Seagull Beach one evening and walked out on the jetty for a pictures.


We had great weather and we made a lot of good memories!

And I can't believe there's only one more week of summer vacation left!