Wishing for a Sugar-Less School

First, some sugar facts:

  • The American Heart Association recommends that children get no more than 3-4 teaspoons of sugar a day, adult women should limit sugar to 5 teaspoons a day, and adult men and teens should limit it to 8-9 teaspoons a day.  (One teaspoon equals 4 grams of sugar.)
  • The average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, which adds up to 70 pounds of sugar per year.  (Gross!)
  • A can of soda has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar, and a lot of cupcakes have 500 calories and 40 grams of sugar.  (That’s like eating 10 sugar cubes!)
  • Sugar causes behavioral issues (depression, anxiety and aggression), tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.  And it weakens your immune system.
  • Sugar is addictive.
  • Everyone loves sugar!

It seems like most adults have a complicated relationship with sugar.  We all know it’s bad for us, but we eats tons of it anyway.  It’s in everything.  We celebrate with sugar and show people our love and appreciation with sugar.  We love to bake with our kids and to take them out for ice cream.  Girl Scouts sell cookies, Campfire Girls sell candy, and little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

I love sugar as much as the next person, and I am a total sucker when my kids ask me for a sugary treat.  So for me the only way to eat less sugar is to not buy it; to try not have it in the house.  We don’t have a habit of eating desert after dinner or having sugary snacks. We try to stay away from processed foods.  We don’t drink much juice or soda.  We try to teach our kids about making healthy food choices and we look at the sugar content on food packages.  But I’m not a fanatic by any means. We love to bake. I put a little desert in their lunch boxes every day – usually a small piece of chocolate.  And I often have chocolate in the house.  I can’t help it.  My excuse is that I’m half Belgian.  And human.

For kids, however, sugar is far less complicated.  Their relationship with sugar is simple:  get as much as possible.  Which is why I can’t stand the fact that my kids are being given sugar at school.  They’re not going to say no to sugar, and I’m not at school to say “You’ve already had enough!”

But before I tell my woeful tale of sugar at my kids’ school, let me first say that I love my kids’ school.  This is Nadine’s last year there before heading off to middle school, and she has had an amazing six years there.  She is so prepared to head off to middle school because of her wonderful education, caring teachers, and supportive parents.

But if I could change one thing about that school, it would be for them to please stop giving the kids sugar.  Birthdays in the classroom are frequent and celebrated with cupcakes and doughnuts. Rice-Krispy Treats and Twinkies are traded on market day (the “bring something from home to sell/trade” day.)  Candy is given out by some teachers and tutors, and at some before/after school activities.  It wouldn’t be too bad if it was just one thing, but all of these things add up to too much sugar.

Too many times have I brought a healthy snack to the playground after school, only to have my kids turn up their noses because they’ve just had a Krispy Kreme doughnut for someone’s birthday, or been given candy for doing crossing guard duty.  I do not want to take Nadine to her three hours of gymnastics after school when she’s eaten only a sugary snack filled with empty calories.

So last week I went to the PTA meeting to plead my case, along with a friend of mine who feels as passionately about this as I do.  I was also really curious to see if other parents, teachers, and administrators were in agreement, and if so, how we might adopt a sugar-less culture at school.  Here’s the handout we brought with us: Care Free Sugar Less Wilcats

I tried to be really careful to use the term “sugar-less” instead of “sugar-free” because I’m not proposing we ban sugar from the school, I’m proposing that we stop giving our kids sugar without parental consent, and have less sugar at school.  Let’s go ahead and have the bake sales, and the Halloween carnival, but please, during the day let’s not celebrate every birthday and holiday with doughnuts and cupcakes.  Let’s tell the teachers, tutors, and others to stop using sugar as an incentive or a reward.  Let’s not trade sugary treats or junk food on market day.  Let’s practice what we teach about good health and nutrition.

There weren’t that many parents at the PTA meeting, and no teachers, but the principal was there.  Many of the parents were in total agreement and enthusiastic about the idea.  One mom, a teacher in another school district, said they had done this at her school and she thought it was very successful.  She said that they now celebrate birthdays by making birthday cards, and that the kids don’t miss the sugar at all.

After our discussion I asked the question, “So what can we do?” I was told by the PTA president and the principal that this needs to be a grass roots campaign and that we (my friend and I) should try to persuade parents to not bring in sugar for birthdays or market days.  The principal said she would talk to the teachers.  We were told we could work with the communications chairperson on this. Then our time was up.

Hmmmm… Did we get a big brush-off or did we get a green light?  I was confused.

I didn’t want this to turn into a big project, and a “grass roots effort” sounded just like that. I would have much preferred it if they had said, “Hey, great idea!  That makes perfect sense!  Let’s tell teachers and parents not to give our kids sugar without parental consent.  Let’s update the handbook and the website and send a notice home with the kids.”  Darn it.

But change is never that easy is it?  And, like I said, our relationship with sugar is complicated.  Adults love giving kids sugar.

So I’m not sure what’s next.  I hope that when we meet with the communications chairperson that we can at least start a campaign in the fall and make some persuasive posters and flyers that support our cause.  I’ll try and get some more parents on board.  I honestly don’t think the kids would miss the sugar at all, and I think the parents would be relieved to not feel obliged to bring in birthday treats.  We’ll see.

Wish me luck!  And if you know anything about getting sugar out of schools, I would love to hear about it.

And look at this awesome care package I got yesterday from my parents.  Belgian chocolate, yum!  The kids were thrilled.  Me too.

Belgian Chcolate Care Package

Hooray, it’s Mother’s Day!!!

Today is Mother’s Day and I am so excited to do nothing but relax and soak up the awesomeness of my family.  Right now I am lounging in bed with my laptop and a cup of coffee, with the window open, a soft breeze blowing in.  Miles is sitting at my desk staring at the computer watching a Fred movie.  Is there any sound on earth more annoying than the sound of Fred’s voice?  I don’t think so.  But today I could care less.

Kitty Necklace from MilesAlready I’ve gotten my present from Miles.  He gave it to me as soon as he woke up.  It’s a necklace made out of a domino with a picture of a cat decoupaged on top, and it’s the cutest thing ever.  Nadine has been secretly scheming with her dad all week about my present, and on Friday she said “If a package arrives on the doorstep DO NOT LOOK AT IT!”  The package has arrived – we’ll see if she can keep it a surprise.  So far so good.

Phinney Wood Art Walk 2015What I’m most excited about today is that I don’t need to think about a thing.  For the past week I have been running on adrenaline, organizing an Art Walk Pop Up sale that took place at my space on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. The Art Walk was amazing – we totally lucked out on the weather and tons of people showed up (more to come on that) but I have to admit, I’m really glad it’s over.  After cleaning everything up and having dinner Saturday night, I passed out on the couch at around 8:30 pm while the rest of the family watched Robin Hood.  My house is a complete wreck but I don’t care and I don’t plan to do a thing about it. Today is about spending time with the people I love most, calling my mom, and not trying to get anything done.

I’ve been a mom for almost eleven years now, and it’s hard to remember what it was like pre-kids, when there were only two of us living in this house, our dog Sadie was our baby, and time didn’t pass at warp speed.  Adopting Nadine made me a mom, and fulfilled my dream of having kids.  As soon as they put her into my arms, everything changed.

First MeetingTodd and I struggled with having kids for years, but we never lost faith that it would happen some day, some how.  All my life I imagined I’d become a mom, but I never imagined it would happen by adopting a baby from China. But that’s the way life usually works, isn’t it?  You don’t just decide how things are going to happen and then they happen exactly that way.  There is always an element of fate thrown in there, and fate usually has it’s own plans for you.  But if you stay on the path, and never throw in the towel, you will get to where you are supposed to be.  Keep the faith and you’ll get what you want and more than you ever imagined.  That is why Nadine, and Miles, are my little miracle babies.  They both gave me exactly what I wanted in the most unexpected of ways, and now I can’t imagine my life any other way.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

- Steve Jobs

Right now there is a lot of activity happening in the kitchen – Nadine, Miles, Todd, and Victor (our surrogate son/first cousin once removed) are all cooking up something for Mother’s Day breakfast and I love it!  What could it be?  I don’t care.  I am just so thankful that I have a team of people happily working on making this day special for me.  What could be better than that?  What’s better than being appreciated?

Mother's Day Breakfast

I closed my eyes, the kids brought me outside, I opened them, and saw this!

Present from Nadine

This is my present from Nadine – a sparkling water maker (hooray!) – but I just love the wrapping paper!

P. S. Right after writing this post on Sunday morning our internet went down, and has been down for two and a half days.  Horrors!  But having it down on Mother’s Day I think was a bit of a gift.

Top Ten for my Kids

The kids have been back to school for a couple of weeks now, and it’s been great getting back into our rhythm.  Miles and Nadine are both good students (even though Miles is a bit of a daydreamer) and I really like their school, but every year there seems to be a new method for teaching them stuff, and I just can’t keep up.  This year it’s Singapore Math which I’m assuming is great, and hopefully I can understand it well enough to help them with their homework.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a little too nonchalant about their academics.  Yes, I want them to do well at school, absolutely, but recently I’ve been thinking a lot about what really matters in terms of being successful in life, and whether or not the curriculum adopted by the public schools supports this.  I am NOT dissing public schools – oh no – I am truly thankful for my kids’ school and awesome teachers.  But I really love this quote attributed to Plato:

Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.

So what do I want most for my kids?  I decided to make a list.  And maybe it’s a sappy list, but I don’t care.  Here it is:

  • I want my kids to have curious minds, and to indulge that curiosity.
  • I want them to value, embrace, and explore their creativity.
  • I want them to know themselves, to have confidence in themselves, and to be good to themselves.
  • I want them to be happy – to laugh a lot and be silly – every single day.
  • I want them to be empathetic, kind, and polite.
  • I want them to push themselves outside of their comfort zones (but not recklessly.)
  • I want them to embrace the question ‘Why?’ and use it to approach their problems.
  • I want them to love and respect the natural world around them.
  • I want them to love to read.
  • I want them to travel and explore the world.
  • I want them to embrace the four-fold way:  1) Show up.  2) Pay attention.  3) Speak your truth.  4) Release attachment to outcome.
  • I want them to know that doing their best is always good enough.
  • I want them to be able to work well with others.
  • I want them to know that they always have a net.  And that they should jump.

Okay, so it’s not a top ten list – it’s actually fourteen.  But who says you have to stop at ten?  And it seems like a pretty decent list to me.  Can you imagine if they were actually able to live up to it?  I can.

Jump!

In conclusion, I’ll leave you with this excellent quote from the brilliant Oscar Wilde, that pretty much sums up this post for me:

Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.

 

Getting Away From it All

Glacier National ParkThere’s nothing like getting away to clear the mind.  And even though we were traveling by car, we really got away from it all on our recent road-trip, our second annual family camping extravaganza.  This year we drove east to Glacier National Park in Montana, then north into Canada and Banff, then back west through Canada, hitting Harrison Hot Springs.  It was an amazing vacation, and I love this new tradition of ours.

I love it because it’s just the four of us for an entire week.  It is such a treat for the four of us to have so much fun together.  We play frisbee and monkey-in-the-middle, hike, fish, tent wrestle, and just hang out 24/7.  And we are so happy.

Hike Lake Louise

I also love the driving.  It’s a lot of scenic driving and winding hills, but best of all Todd and I get to talk to each other – as much as we want.  Or not talk and listen to the music we love, like in the old days.  In fact it’s really like the old days since our “new” car, that replaced our “old” car, is a 1997 Subaru with just a tape player in it.  We’ve hung onto old cassette tapes that are 20-30 years old now but they still crank out the tunes for us, like the Police’s Zenyatta Mondatta and Cracker’s first couple of albums.

The Back SeatThe kids set up their cozy little spaces in the back seat with their pillows, piles of books, drawing stuff, and the DVD player.  Like last year they watched the movie Airplane back there, and even though we couldn’t watch it from the front seat, Todd and I know that movie so well that we could visualize every scene and laugh along with the kids.  On the way home Nadine sat in the front seat for a bit so Todd could sit with Miles in the back and watch Star Wars.

Then there’s the camping.  This year we really had it down.  We had a new 6-person tent that Nadine and Todd always set up and took down together, and it was luxurious to have all the extra room.  We had a borrowed “X-Cargo” box on top of the car, and it held all of the camping gear.  Then in the way back we had just a cooler, food, water, and our bags.  Easy peasy.

Firing up Pancakes and CoffeeOur camping stove broke on the second day of the trip and we thought we were going to have to buy a new one somewhere, but it turned out that cooking over fire works just as well.  It’s funny to think of how well we lived and ate, living outside for a week with just the stuff packed into our car.  Nadine thought it was so much stuff but I kept telling her, “You know we’re pretty much packing up our clothes, our kitchen, our beds, our furniture, and our house for a week.”  (Although I could have packed a lot less for Miles, who wore the same thing almost every single day.)

Campsite in BanffEach campsite we stayed at cost around $20 per night, and was beautifully situated in the woods, surrounded by mountains.  I’m pretty sure a hotel room would cost a heck of lot more and the scenery wouldn’t be nearly as good.  Although the mosquitoes might not be as bad, and you wouldn’t have to worry about bears.

And, of course, the national parks we go to are so beautiful it’s mind-blowing.  The snow-topped mountains that jet out of the lush valleys, the rivers, waterfalls, and glacier lakes, the wild-flowers and wild-life are practically impossible to capture with a camera.  Of course I tried, and got some great shots, but I almost wished I didn’t take a single photo and just took it all in 100%, without stopping to take pictures all of the time.  But I do love taking pictures and want to look back on these trips later on, and the photos will help the kids remember them too.  Plus I think that maybe the act of carrying around my camera and looking for shots might make me more observant, noticing more.  Like the wild-flowers.  They are just tiny little things that grow in crazy places, but when you look at them close up they are incredible.

Glacier Wildflower

Todd and I kept saying to the kids, “Look out the window!  Look how beautiful this is!” but the kids weren’t that impressed with the scenery.  I guess that will come when they’re older.  Right now what they want are animal sightings and fun things to do.  And we got those a-plenty.  We saw three bears, lots of mountain goats, a moose swimming across a lake, deer, all kinds of birds, ground squirrels and chipmunks.  We got sprayed by waterfalls, climbed on rocks to cross rivers, played in the snow, and crossed ice bridges.  They also love gift shops, and while they browsed the gift-shops at some of the lodges Todd and I could enjoy a pint of Moose Drool on the deck.

Leaving St. Mary Campground

Swimming Moose

BearBig Horn Sheep

Lake LouiseThen on the very last day of our trip, which we spent at Harrison Hot Springs in British Columbia, we walked over to Harrison Lake and saw this:

Harrison Hot Springs Water ParkEven though the water was ice cold and the weather was gloomy, once the kids got a glimpse of that thing it was all over.  There was no way they were not going to get their butts onto that water park. It was all they talked about it and even though it cost $35 per person, we all knew we were going.  Fortunately we were given wet suits.  Then we climbed aboard the floating banana and got towed out to this island of dreams.  Even though I think it was way more dreamy for the under-40 set, I still had a blast.

Todd and Nadine were the bravest, jumping off the tallest structures and sliding down the steepest slides.  Miles was all over the rope swing and jumping off the trampoline into the water.  And I was a big chicken.  What happen to me?  I think I’ve watched so much AFV with the kids that I couldn’t get over visions of me tumbling down the giant pyramid or doing a face plant off the rope swing.  It didn’t help that I was very aware of being four times as old as most of the people at the water park.  But I must say, I jumped and slid and rolled around and did the seesaw thing like crazy, and it was so totally fun and probably the best workout I’ve had in a long time.  I think my muscles are going to be sore for weeks.

One of the best things about getting away is coming home.  We pulled into the alley behind our house at around 7pm on Sunday night, and when I stepped out of the car, I was immediately overcome by the feeling of the air.  Granted the air in the car wasn’t the freshest, but I do love Seattle air.  I always notice it when we fly home from somewhere far away, but today I was surprised to notice it so much when I stepped out of the car.  I guess it’s because we live so close to Puget Sound, that the salt water permeates the air, and feels so fresh and smells incredible.  And then there was my vegetable garden, which must have tripled in size while we were away.  (Thanks neighbors for all of the watering you did!)  The kids went immediately to find the cat.  And then there were our delicious beds that night.

When I woke up the next morning there was nothing in the fridge and so I made pancakes with what was left of the mix I’d made for the trip.  How luxurious to turn on a stove, throw the dishes the dishwasher, and eat while watching cartoons.  But for some reason they just didn’t taste quite as good.  And I’m going to miss running into these guys on the road:

A Ha Ha Moment

WARNING:  This post contains poop references and potentially offensive material.  If you’re okay with that, please proceed…

I can’t help it, but I just love corny jokes.  I don’t always remember them very well, but once in a while I’ll be in a conversation with someone, and something gets triggered in my brain to remember a joke, which then, unfortunately, makes me feel the need to immediately blurt it out.  It must be so annoying.  But it cracks me up.

So today I thought I’d share some of the ones I can remember so that other people can share the laughter, or, more likely, the groans…

The World’s Corniest Jokes That Make Me Laugh:

“What’s brown and sticky?”
“A stick.”

“What’s brown and sounds like a bell?”
“Dung.”

“What’s brown and sits on a piano bench?”
“Beethoven’s last movement.”

“What’s Beethoven’s favorite fruit?”
“Ba-na-na-na”

“What did Obi-Wan Kenobi say to Luke Skywalker at the Chinese restaurant?”
“Use the forks Luke”

“Did you hear about the midget clairvoyant who escaped from prison?”
“Be on the lookout for a small medium at large!”

“Did you hear about the new airline that flies direct from Geneva to Italy?”
“It’s called Gen-Italia.”

“How do you make a tissue dance?”
“Put a little boogie in it.”

“What did the sign in front of the rehab center say?”
“Please stay off the grass.”

Miles also loves a good joke, and is pretty good at coming up with his own clever word play.  I am very proud of his jokes, and always ask him to tell people his latest joke.  (What an annoying mom I am.)  Check ‘em out…

Miles’s original jokes:

“Why don’t seagulls fly over the bay?”
“Because then they’d be Bay-gulls (bagels)”

“What kind of soldiers do you make with your shoe laces?”
“Knotsies (Nazis).”

“Why do eggs think it’s funny to be thrown against the wall?”
“Because they crack up!”

“What kind of car does God drive?”
“A Jesus Chrysler”

and finally…

“What’s the difference between an alien and a poop?”
“An alien is from Mars and says ‘Take me to your leader’ and a poop is from Uranus and says ‘Take me to your toilet’.”

What second grade boy wouldn’t have a poop joke in his repertoire?  Oh, and I also like his funny little rhyme:

“Humans go to college and get more knowledge. Aliens go to Jupiter and get more stupider”

Okay then…  That’s all folks!

Showing Off

I know, I know, I brag about my kids all the time.  But I can’t help it!  They are just so totally amazing to me.  And the pictures they draw blow me away.  I don’t think an adult could ever truly mimic the way a kid draws.  So today I’m going to show off some of Nadine and Miles’ artistic creations.

Nadine:

Let’s start with Nadine, who draws and colors a lot.  Like me, she has lots and lots of notebooks.  She fills hers with lists, and songs, and pictures.  She draws lots of pretty girls in different outfits and hair-dos, like this one:

pretty girl by Nadine

She also draws pictures with cool patterns and colors, like this one:

Nadine's colorful patterns

My most recent favorite is a picture that she just brought home from school.  She had to draw a picture in art depicting a setting she imagined, and she drew and painted this grave yard.  I love it so much that I’m going to frame it and hang it in our freshly painted orange room.  Here is is:

nadine's graveyard

Miles:

And now for Miles.  Miles likes to draw with a sharp pencil or fine tipped pen, and can really bring his imagination to paper.  He doesn’t copy things like I do, he just draws things the way he sees them in his head.  Like these aliens dancing  Gangnam Style:

Some of my most favorite pictures are from his homework assignments, like this one from last year (first grade) of gazelles:

Miles draws Gazelles

And from his letter books, like these:

'GR' Words illustrated by Miles

'CH' Words illustrated by Miles

'TH' Words illustrated by Miles

One of the best things about being a parent is experiencing the creativity of my kids’ imagination.  What adult, when asked to chose a word that starts with the letters “Th” would chose the word “Three” and then draw a dragon and two ninjas?  We become so literal as we grow older.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get some of that naive imagination back?

I Like Big Butts in a Can Out Loud

There is not a kid at school that doesn’t know Sir-Mix-Alot’s song “I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie” (really entitled ‘Baby Got Back’), which is pretty bizarre considering it was released in 1992 and is kind of inappropriate.  (Check it out.)  But it is infectious, and has embedded itself into the brains of children and parents alike.  We sing it all the time at our house ad nauseam.  Well maybe ad nauseam for Todd and Nadine – Miles and I don’t seem to tire of the song.  It cracks us up.

So yesterday was Veteran’s Day, the kids didn’t have school, and we did a lot of drawing.  Miles worked on a special picture for me, and kept saying “It’s a surprise, don’t look!”  And I have to say, when he gave it to me I was pretty surprised, and confused, until I read the caption.  Here it is:

Big Butts in a Can Out Loud

Did you notice some of the finer details, like the greenish gas and the poop?  And at the top is a chicken with a big butt, with a big pimple on each cheek.  Ah, my little artist.  He sure knows how to make a mama proud.

What I love best about this picture is that it is a reminder to me that I have no idea what really goes on in that boy’s brain, and that how he interprets the world is very unique to him.  I love this picture.  So much.  Thanks Miles!

Happy Halloween!

Yesterday was the best day of the year.  Or, according my kids, one of the best – right up there with Christmas.  And I have to admit, it was pretty darn fun.

Last night, after an excruciatingly long day at school, a group of us met up at our friend’s house.  We ate some snacks, admired the costumes, filled our to-go cups up with wine, grabbed some pillow-cases, and hit the streets.  It was a perfect evening for trick-or-treating, not too hot or cold or, most importantly, wet.  And lots of colorful leaves littered the sidewalks and streets.  Such a great time of year!  Nadine was dressed as a vampire, although her fangs just wouldn’t stay in her mouth, and Miles was a zombie hunter, although he looked a lot like Rambo.  I had a hippie-type costume on, and Todd, as per usual, was a weirdo.

Finally we hit the streets with lots of other frightening little people, and wow, those kids got such a workout – running from house to house, up and down stairs, non-stop as fast as they could, screaming with joy and yelling things like, “They’re giving out full-size candy bars at that house!” or “Let’s go to the chinchilla lady’s house!” or “Are you kidding me?  A granola bar?”  Meanwhile the old-fogy parents said things like, “You’re complaining about a granola bar?  We used to get apples or raisins, or worst of all, pennies!”  The best, though, was when Miles came back from one house and said, “Here mom, you can have this one, I know you love them,” and handed me a Brussels-sprout. I do love them.  And even though I don’t know who was handing them out, I love them for their Halloween trickery.

At eight o’clock the streets started to quiet down, but our kids still had some energy, and that’s when they really raked it in.  That’s because the treat-givers, who were ready to call it a night, started handing out fist-fulls of candy.  Eventually we made it back to our starting point, and even though it was late, we had to count and sort.  Nadine scored big with 172 pieces of candy, M&M’s being the most popular, with surprisingly few Reese’s Peanut-Butter Cups (my favorite, darn!)  Not a box of raisins, apple, or razor-blade to be found.  Finally, around 10pm, we all collapsed into our beds.  What a night!

The trick-or-treating "ladies"

A dead prom queen, a beautiful vampire, a nerd, and Death.

A Quick Candy Break

A quick break for candy – aka ‘dinner’.

A full bag of candy

Bags full, it’s time to head home.

A very happy vampire

A very happy vampire…

Halloween trickory!

…and a very lonely Brussels-sprout.

Happy Halloween!!

La Pietà

It’s been a while since I’ve added a new blog post.  My original goal when I started this blog was two posts per week.  Then I kind of slowed it down to one.  But now that I’ve included the “I Never Log”, I’ve been busy trying to catch up on logging my ‘I Nevers’, and have neglected my regular blog.  Add to that the kids’ activities (karate, soccer, basketball, gymnastics, camp-fire girls – too much!), Krypton Community College (more on that later), re-organizing the house after Nadine moved her room into the TV room, my parents’ visit, and Todd’s bookkeeping, I’m hardly feeling like a trophy wife these days, much less a blogger.

So all of that rambling is just a long prelude, and excuse, for today’s short post – just one picture from the weekend.  But it makes me laugh so hard, I thought I’d share it.

La Pietà

Happy Monday!

The Best Day Ever

It’s hard to believe that October has rolled back around.  My garden is officially done, the leaves are turning red and falling, the daily variations in the weather are huge, the kids are planning their Halloween costumes, and, best of all, it’s mushroom hunting season!  And oh boy, did we have fun on our annual mushroom hunting extravaganza on Sunday.  Unfortunately Grandma, our mushroom guru, was sick and couldn’t join us.  But wow did we get lucky with the weather and the bounty.  Mushroom hunting has become a fall ritual for us.  I think it was our ninth trip (click here for last year’s post), and we saw more mushrooms than ever.  And no, I can’t tell you where we go.

We’ve had a lot of rain lately, as is to be expected this time of year, but it started to clear up on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday were spectacular – 70 degrees! – and the mushrooms loved it.  This is the first year we saw chanterelles growing right off the trail, and we just kept picking and picking and picking.  We had 5 adults, 8 kids, and infinite enthusiasm – not only for hunting mushrooms, but for the trek through the woods, the tree frog, the snakes, the horses, the knives, the stick whittling, the knives Todd whittled out of sticks, the views, and (for me and Uncle Reid especially) the photo ops.

It’s a long day of hiking and hunting, but when we get to the top the view is outstanding.  So we hung out there for a while, relaxing, snacking, whittling, and taking pictures, and the kids were saying “This is the best day ever!”  I love that so much.  Nothing makes me happier than seeing the kids having so much fun – and going on a magical romp through the forest with my most favorite people.  Here’s our day:

Hiking to the forest

Lunch break with a view

mushroom in the woods

tiny orange mushroom

Nadine and Miles mushroom hunting

mushroom

relaxing at the top

miles inside the monument

jumpers

jumper

my funny kids

shrooms in the grass

ancient mushroom

hiking out