The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
December 2017

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Celebrating the Completion of Bitty's First Decade

While spending most of my time and energy on squeezing a little more summer out of summer, I suddenly became aware that Bitty's 10th birthday was fast approaching. The first decade! We tend to do birthday parties on even years and try to do something else fun on odd years, so I already knew we had a party year coming up, but it seemed like I should put some special effort into this 10th birthday. But oh....have I complained already about the fact that one daughter has a birthday that coincides almost exactly with the last day of school and another whose coincides almost exactly with the first? I'm sure I have. But I find it's worth mentioning again. Already stressful times, and then adding a birthday on top? Oi!!!

Bitty and I chatted a bunch about her birthday desires - I just listened patiently for a few days as she'd approach me periodically with all sorts of (horrid-sounding) ideas - Chuck-E-Cheese! Renting a party room! Actually I'm just making those up. I can't remember what her ideas were, and she definitely did not request Chuck-E-Cheese. But I do remember feeling not too excited about many of her suggestions but decided to just sit back and wait for her to scroll through her imagination until we landed on something we could both enjoy.

Her final idea was a cooking party on our back porch. I confess to possibly slightly maybe pushing hard in this direction, because it seemed like something pretty simple and easy to pull off.  Boy am I dumb.  Haven't I somehow learned over the past almost-thirteen years that I can not keep a party simple?  It's not like the parties that happen are all that fabulous or anything, it's just that I always overcomplicate things and keep adding details to the plan until I'm sort of overwhelmed.  Happens pretty much every party I've ever thrown.  I do not know how to change this habit.

The day began with a birthday breakfast.  I thought it was completely adorable that Bitty wanted the same biscuits and gravy that her Aunt Tonja had fed her on the camping trip the weekend before.  We had indeed learned a quick, easy, and heart-stopping way to make sausage gravy, and nothing goes better with it than giant buttermilk biscuits.  She was thrilled, and I had heartburn.  But truly, it's good stuff.

I did have to spend a little bit of her birthday at the school because it was the Friday before school started and being the PTA Queen (aka total slave) that I am, I had to man the table for a bit.  But the girls were excited to come in with Troy to see their class lists and find out who their teachers would be.  Skippidy was lucky enough to land in Ms. Blank's class, who also taught Bitty.  She is a classroom magician.  Like Snow White.  Really fun and sweet and happy and also puts up with no crap.  Bitty ended up in the class I was really hoping for; a Mr. Fuller who I find to be a fantastic educator and I would love to see go into administration in our district.  But...I digress.

After the morning at school I quickly came home, tossed some balloons and streamers around the porch, and got ready to teach 10 girls a few cooking ideas.  It was both easier and harder than I thought it was going to be.  That was a pretty large group, and they were excited and hyper, but they're also a really good group of girls and we had fun on our projects.

Bitty started the party by teaching them all a get-to-know-you game that only she knows the rules to. I loved letting her take charge of her game while I stayed in the background taking care of last minute preparations.

Then we moved to the tables where I had the girls use fabric markers to decorate some aprons, which I confess were awfully cheap.  Should have figured that out when they were 8 bucks for a dozen on Amazon. The paint pens weren't that hot either - they were rather over-generous in their paint dispensing. I think I only ruined two of the girls' shirts. (Insert red-faced emoji here.)

Then we moved on to the food.  We started with pizza dough, and then while that was rising we took on fruit kababs.  They loved that.  Blessedly the pizza dough rose quite well during the fruit cutting so we then prepped our pizza toppings and made mini pizzas.

While the pizzas were taking their sweet time to cook, we had present-opening on the lawn, where Bitty's day was made with legos, green sunglasses, and a board game called Sheriff of Nottingham, among other fun and thoughtful gifts.

Following these exciting events we declared it movie time, and we put on The Princess Diaries in the living room.  I was expecting two solid hours of girls giggling and wrestling and shushing each other while I hid in the kitchen.  Actually, much to my surprise, they all snuggled in and watched the movie.  Quietly. And attentively. It was divine. I called them into the kitchen three at a time to make the birthday cake - microwaveable mug cakes topped with ice cream that were a real hit, especially to me, because I didn't need to create some wretched theme-cake-fail that I manage to produce birthday after birthday.  Best cakes ever!

The next night we gave into to Bitty's pleas to have a family dinner at Red Lobster with her grandparents...that was probably a mistake.  That dinner was more expensive than the rest of her birthday put together.  Oh well.  We did have a nice evening, and we came home to eat her other requested dessert of key lime pie.  I love the way my little gal thinks.  Key lime pie is a favorite of mine, even though this one turned out limey enough to pretty much knock your socks off.  We sat on the porch savoring the sweet and tangy pie, playing Sheriff of Nottingham, and giving Bitty her one family group gift (besides the crab-legs extravaganza) of a Playmobile airplane.  It is truly an awesome toy.  It doesn't fit anywhere in our house except the middle of the playroom floor, where it has stayed, gathering nothing but many many hours of attention from many many kids.  It was a pretty sizable gift but a very happy one for Bitty as well as her siblings and friends.

Despite the exhaustion of putting together that cooking party for 10 little girls, (figuring out the timing and details on that one was a wee bit stressful!), I was so happy that Bitty had a really memorable and positive birthday weekend; just what she needed to get her happy and ready for the start of school.

Many thanks to Cap, who took on the job of party photographer - Troy was away and I sure had my hands full.  He did a great job taking about a bazillion pictures.  Great job, Cap!  And Bitty?  Happy 10th Birthday.  What a gal you are growing into.  Generous, funny, friendly, creative.  And many more adjectives besides.  I'm so lucky to be your mom.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Last Ditch

As summer wound down, so did my energy and desire to do anything fun at all with the kids. The evenings lost a little light, and I followed suit. But then the inevitable happened. I allowed that ever-present, niggling little voice to question my good-mother status. Summer's ending - quick! Does everyone have sun-burnished hair? Has everyone laughed them self sick at least once? Have we all exhausted ourselves with all the fun?

Um...nope. Like I mentioned before, this summer was a little bit challenging. Troy was gone a lot. I felt like every single day I was at a full sprint doing nothing but trying to not fall behind even further. We did do some fun stuff, of course, but really our big San Diego adventure happened right at summer's outset, and things sort of coasted along from there. I never did fall into (or climb into as the case may be) a steady schedule - I never instigated daily chores or reading times or a weekly visit to anyplace like library trips or a favorite park or anything. We just survived from day to day.

So of course I do what I do every summer. In fact, I am almost positive that there is a blog post JUST like this one written at the end of all my summers. I'm not going to go back and check - it's too embarrassing to remind myself that I never can get summer figured out. I started cramming in a bunch of last-two-week activities; things we should have been doing all summer and just hadn't been. Things like, you know, going swimming at the city pool. (You'd think that would have happened a time or two.) We went to the zoo, much to 66% of my childrens' dismay. Granted, it really was a hot and crowded day, but since I have a zoo pass and since we hadn't used it much....we went! What else did we do? I'll tell you one thing we did NOT do. That would be going to Lagoon. Not only did I not want to pay $125 for the four of us to get in, but my childrens' taste in amusement park fun differs so vastly that I had no idea how I would keep us all together. Bitty? No roller coaster never not ever ever. Stomper? Every single roller coaster always! (Almost.) Skippidy? Might try a roller coaster, but isn't tall enough for most of them. And do not mention the swimming area at Lagoon to me - that is a place I will be happy to never visit again. So yes, no trips to Lagoon.  More like a lego outing at the library and one trip to a bounce house warehouse.  Of course we made an event out of eating at Ugurt, our favorite local frozen yogurt shop.  (200 South above 1300 East - you should go check it out.) We tried to feel summery, and I think we did.  (And at the moment I'm choosing to define 'summery' as 'totally wiped out and ready for school to start.' Check!)

Legos at the Library:

Bounce House visit, where I even splurged on the Hurricane Machine:


A couple of half-hearted photos from Hogle Zoo:

Checking out the display at The Sweet Tooth Fairy, where Bitty had a $5 gift certificate to spend:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Of Course That's How it Went

I know, I know. It's the middle of September and I'm still trying to catch up on the rest of our summer, but before I get to all of that, I just have to get to this one little incident. you remember that last summer, on the 4th of July, we were up on Bainbridge Island celebrating with my brother and his family? It was a lovely day filled with lovely things like three-legged races, tasty barbecue, quaint small town gatherings, a few tear-inducing fireworks and...oh yeah. A parade. A big fat parade during which someone walking along decided to gift Skippidy with a massive stuffed dog. Massive as in: Skippidy could not carry the dog because it was literally twice her size. That day she was beyond delighted and our whole family felt like the good luck gods had smiled on us with favor. We never win things, and this time, we totally did! Winner winner!

Then we tried to get the dog home with us. Talk about a tight fit in the car. And then we tried to find a place for it in our house. That was even harder than the car. We kind of stuffed it in the top bunk in the girls room for a while but I was afraid of how it would look for a stuffed animal to take precedence over my daughter as the dog stayed safe and sound up high while she tumbled to the floor, edged out by its furry bulk. Finally, after moving it around every few hours as it systematically got in my way all day long, I decided to see what would happen if I just left it on the back porch. Guess what. No one noticed. Okay, every once in a while the kids would drag it onto the back lawn and lie on it and roll around on it and stuff. But those times happened less and less frequently, until eventually I would walk outside and there would be this big furry dusty lump in the corner of the porch. It looked very sad and neglected, and also dirty.

I started to feel tempted to somehow dispose of or smuggle out this massive plush nightmare from the house. The only thing stopping me, as usual, was pure guilt. I wanted to get rid of it, but it didn't seem like a nice thing to do without asking. I'm sure you can guess, however, what would result from asking my kids. I'd never get their permission - that's just ridiculous. So outside it stayed. One spring evening we held a gathering on the porch and wanted to get things cleaned up and tidy in preparation. As we often do, we began piling the scattered odds and ends from the porch into the garage, just to keep them out of sight. And like so many other odds and ends, the giant dog didn't ever make it back out of the garage. It lay heaped just inside the swinging door, its permanently smiling face gazing absently at the floor.

Finally, as this summer was drawing to a close and we were trying to reclaim the garage from a season's worth of clutter, I broached the subject with Troy, who often teases me when I bring up things like this. I always try to couch my intent in a question like, " you think the kids still like playing with this?" But I'm never able to disguise the underlying question of, "May I PLEASE get rid of this?" well enough for him not to recognize exactly what I'm asking. But that didn't stop me from trying once again. In fact, this time, I think he may have even brought it up himself.

Together, we shook out the dog and hid it in the back of the minivan, deciding to take it to a donation center rather than just flat out chuck it in the trash. I cleverly hid it under a blanket and surrounded it with other bags and boxes headed to Savers. And come Monday morning, I drove away, deposited our donations in the capable hands of the fine folks at Savers, and returned home, feeling I had triumphed.

I kid you not, not one week later, little Skippidy woke up a little early on a school day morning, made her sleepy and pajamaed way upstairs, and climbed into bed with Troy and me. She snuggled in close and said in a groggy little morning voice, "Mommy, I was just thinking. Do you know where my giant dog is?"

My eyes locked with Troy's, which looked as wide as mine felt. ARE YOU SERIOUS? Month after month after month without a word about this dog, and within days of its ejection from our home, she asked about it?

Of course. Of course she did. And many were the tears that did flow when we bravely told her the actual truth. Which was of course that we found a sweet little child who had no toys of their very own and we thought we could share something of ours.

Oh parenting.  Sometimes I just have no idea how to do it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Annual Visit to Lost Creek

It just wouldn't be summer around here without one "Camping Trip with the Preslar Family" blog entry, would it?  It's hard to think of new things to say about the trip, but I just can't skip posting something about it - it happened, didn't it?  I must take note!  And besides, it will be fun some day to go back and read over the progressing years of these annual events.

This year was really different from the other years, funny enough.  Troy's parents were there, as well as his oldest brother Rick and his wife Tonja.  And us.  And that was it.  There are only two other brothers, but they are the ones with other school-age kids.  Rick does have three cute boys, but they're all in their 20s and haven't come on the trip for many years.  Tonja has two cute kids too - but again, they're in their 20s.  Apparently the 20's are not a good decade for family camping.

Despite our small numbers we really enjoyed the weekend.  It was kind of different for my kids who didn't have cousins to play with.  They were forced to interact with.... (dum dum DUMM!) EACH OTHER.  This mostly went well.  Not entirely, but really for the most part, yes.

We were able to put our new canoe to good use in the lake.  All five of us managed to get in without getting too wet (getting back out was a problem - we had no one to help us and so I had to hop into the waters of the shore in my jeans and hiking shoes).  It was a trick to balance, paddle and help the kids fish all at the same time but we did pretty well.  Except for the catching fish part. It was a bummer to come up empty-handed as we fished for an hour, especially while we caught glimpses of fish actually jumping out of the water only feet away from us.  And I had even remembered to bring all the things I needed for fire-side fish cooking.  Usually I totally forget about that and have to beg borrow and plead for tin foil, butter, salt and lemon.  Despite the lack of fish, I really enjoyed being in the canoe with the family.

The kids and I also had a lot of nice time just being mellow together.  Troy very generously bought us a big camping hammock that could accommodate me plus all four kids at once - we snuggled up in there more than once to read together and I even got Bitty started on her first knitting lesson and project.  Plus, get this.  I took TWO naps in the hammock.  My husband loves me, what can I say.

We had nice weather, tasty food from the ever-generous and wonderful Tonja, and just enough campfire to saturate our clothing and hair with smoke. Just how a camping trip should be.  Wouldn't miss it.