Life with Kids

Spring Break in Pictures, Part 1

I have had an amazing spring break so far. Here’s proof!

Melon margaritas at Iguana Grill on Lake Travis.

A hike reveals an unexpected grotto.

Thank goodness for spring!

Citizen dips strawberries for game night.

Elizabeth walks through what meager bluebonnets have bloomed so far.

Petah! The girls and a friend play a few rounds at Peter Pan Mini Golf.

So much more to come!


Princess in Waiting

Ready for her prince…


Think there are any on Craig’s List? I guess we can send her to Windsor…

This is her getup … Mama had no hand in it!

Candy Hearts-Warming

Emily has 22 kids in her class. Eliza has 19. This means that Valentine’s Day lasts for a week or more with leftover candy and sweet sentiment (and wrappers and sugar highs.)

Today in the car, Eliza, who is three, opened a little packet of candy hearts–the chalky kind with the little sentiments like “Hug Me” or “I’m Yours.” She wants to be like her big sister, so she often pretends that she can read.

“I know what this one says!” she announced, holding up a pale orange heart.

“What’s that?” I asked, glancing at her via the rearview mirror.

“It says, ‘I really like you and you’re my friend and I gave this to you for Valentine’s Day!'”

We all paused.

“And that’s all!” she said.

“All that fits on the heart?” I asked.


Emily giggled behind her cupped hand. “Elizabeth! That’s too much!”

“It is NOT!”

She popped the candy in her mouth as if to prevent authentification.

“Guess what this one says!” She held up a purple candy.

“Let me guess–shot through the heart and you’re to blame, you give love a bad name?”

Both girls giggled. Mama and her 80s lyrics.

“NOOOO! It says, ‘You’re a stinky-poo!'”



“Nobody says that to somebody on Valentine’s Day!” I turned to look at her, kicking her legs in excitement. We were stopped at the light.

“I did!”

“You called someone a stinky-poo on Valentine’s Day?”


“Was that nice?” I asked, gearing up for a teachable moment.

“It was just a boy. Daniel. Boys are stinky-poo.”

I almost defended boys. Came within an inch. But really, I couldn’t argue with that.

A Day of Pix

Yes, Mama is new-camera shutter-happy. If you get annoyed with parents endlessly showing pictures of their darlings, skip this blog!!!

First, we visited Emily at school for lunch–mmmm, pancakes!

Then we were off to Fry’s for–of course–spare battery and card for the new toy! Eliza got her pick of the little candy and toy quarter machines as we left for being sooo patient. Bouncy ball and M&Ms! (Or, as she calls them, MMMs.)


Then we waited for Emily to arrive home on the bus.



And lots of play time in the back yard!


This is the sort of exciting day we tend to lead!

Happy Camera Dances

Ah, my new Canon Digital Elph 550 came in last night. I got her all charged up and have been running around terrorizing my children with unending flashes.

The camera is tiny, about the size of a deck of cards. I did the important stuff first, you know, set the “turn on” sound to a bird song and the shutter click is now a dog barking. I’ll get sick of that soon enough, I am sure, but it makes the kids laugh.

Many people ask me to help them pick out a digital camera. I warn them about shutter lag, the time between when you press the button to take a picture and when it actually snaps, the uselessness of digital zoom (don’t EVER use it), and the conundrum of new cameras with higher megapixel ratings yet not necessarily taking a better picture, just a bigger file.

This particular camera, however, amazes me. Turn on the camera and it is instantly ready. Press the shutter and it shoots. I did basic shots of the girls, then started playing with the white balance to get some fun ones of still life objects. The camera also does video, so I am going to have SOOOO much fun with that.

Anyway, off to play! I’ll post anything else fun I take! But watch out! This camera is so small, I plan to take it everywhere! Nothing goes undocumented!

Easy Cheese

This post is probably going to subject me to more ridicule than yesterday’s cheesy Statesman letter (“photo gives us hope…”good gracious…) But I press on anyway.

I accidentally became a slacker mom Monday. I am in charge of snacks for Elizabeth’s preschool class this week, and when I got home yesterday from picking her up, the teacher had surreptitiously slid me a note among Eliza’s feather collages and finger paintings reminding me of my error.

This morning I practically careened to the grocery store to pick up finger foods and get them to her class even though she does not attend on Tuesdays. Back when I signed up for snack time, I had visions of cute hand-made food toys. Now I had to rush just to get something for the kiddos to shove down their gullets.

I remembered a few years ago making a candy train. The base was a pack of gum, the engine compartment involved two “Now and Later” candies, and a kiss made a smoke stack with the little paper curling up. The wheels were circles of peppermint.

I was not allowed to use sweets for the snack, so I dashed about the grocery store, trying to come up with the components of the choo choo without involving allergy foods like peanut butter and anything sugary. As I stocked up on blocks of cheese and pretzel sticks and wheel-shaped dried cherries, I wondered how I would hold the concoction together. The pretzel sticks might break the cheese apart, and I could not fall back on the mainstays of peanut butter or frosting as edible glue.

Then, beckoning at the end of the aisle, glittered the shiny white rows of Easy Cheese. I held up a can, compared artificial flavors. I avoided looking at sodium or fat. Or ingredients.

It’s sticky. It’s squeezable. It would work.

In middle school I had an addiction to Easy Cheese. Not so bad I would squirt it directly in my mouth, but I could pile it so high on a single cracker that the threat of it toppling was well assured. I didn’t have much access to it, as my parents wouldn’t buy it. But if I went to a party (I come from a long line of gatherings involving Ritz crackers and Easy Cheese) I never strayed far from the siren call of a long lovely flow of yellow cheese product.

My Easy Cheese obsession was abruptly halted at a party in my early 20s. Some friends hosted a Halloween gathering in their double-wide trailer and served, naturally, my favorite pressurized snack. I was sitting at the bar when a drunk guy grabbed the can, pushed the nozzle, and fed the family’s dog a hard dose of Easy Cheese. The dog licked the nozzle and whined for more. The man laughed and set the can back on the counter with the food.

My stomach heaved. I snagged the can along with the others and dumped them into the trash, washing the dog slobber off my hands afterward. I imagine dogs licking it, people licking it. I couldn’t take it anymore. Never again.

But today, it seemed the solution. I bought it, vowing NOT to eat the stuff, although the sweet little yellow top screamed, “Open me!”

I spent a good half hour working with pretzels and cheese and cherries to get it to work. I did not have to use the Easy Cheese. I could even, I thought, throw it out without breaking the seal.

But something was missing. Smoke. I imagined the little curl of yellow spreading upward from the cheese cube engine. I couldn’t resist. I popped the top and pressed my finger on the slender white nozzle. It sputtered at first, showering a splatter of yellow on the counter. Still strong, I wiped it with a sponge. I shaped a little twist of smoke, but it fell off the side. Without thinking, I cleared it off the train with my finger.

Oh, a finger full of Easy Cheese. What to do? I eyed the sink, the faucet could wash away my temptation.

But no girl with my history could resist for long. I licked the finger, the salty sharp cheese flavor flooding my senses. And I, sadly, was lost.

We’ll see if the can makes it to the end of the day. It’s hidden, but I know exactly where to find it.

I Got a Rock

For those of you poor children unfamiliar with the phrase, it comes from the classic Peanuts Halloween special, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

After each trick or treat session, each member of the party announces the treat they received. Each time, with great dejection, Charlie Brown says, “I got a rock.” Every year the show airs, concerned children flood any fan club for Charlie Brown they can find with candy. We’re a sympathetic lot.

I waited at the house with great anticipation for my daughters to return from their grandparents’ house this Christmas Eve. Emily jumped out of the car, tote bag in hand, immediately pulling out favorite new toys, a shirt, candy, and coloring books. “Look what I got for Christmas!” she said, spreading her loot all over the stairs.

Elizabeth insisted on walking around from the garage to the front door to ring the doorbell, as is her habit lately. I opened the door for her, blonde hair lit in the sun and asked her, “Elizabeth, what did you get for Christmas?”

She held out her hand and opened her fist. “I got a rock!” she announced.

Children are always the unexpected joy at Christmas. You can spend entire paychecks on toys, games, puzzles or treats, but you can never anticipate the thing that matters most to them–an empty box the perfect size to sit inside, a colorful bow that fascinates them for hours, or, as in the case of little ‘Liza, a rock she found in the dirt at her grandparent’s lake house.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday filled with simple joys discovered in unexpected places. Merry Christmas.

Christmas Bliss

Two red shirts, size 3T and 6, bought in a frantic 5-minute blitz at JC Penney: $19.95

Two sets of pictures, printed instantly on a dye-sub printer Deanna now covets: $37.85

Cost of items requested during the ensuing discussion–2 Glow-in-the-dark Doodle Bears: $49.90


Eliza, age 3 and Emily, age 6


A tear-free Santa visit! (Kid-wise. Mama gets the waterworks going at just about anything.)