Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Neat-Freak Teen: Every Parent Should Have One

From the time my 9th grader, Sky, was a preschooler, she has demonstrated the preference for  neatness and order over messes and chaos. She was my only child who never really needed a bib, because she refused to get her face and hands messy. She happily put her toys away at the end of playtime, and even tried to make her bed when she was as young as 2.

Her room is never a mess. I won't say anything about my other kids' neatness or lack thereof, because they are all fabulous in different ways. Today I am bragging about Sky. If there is one bedroom in the house that I would never be embarrassed to have you take a gander at, it would be Sky's.

I was gathering laundry this morning after the kids were off at school, and I paused at Sky's room as I passed, breathing in the neatly made bed and freshly vacuumed carpet (she pulled the vacuum out on her own last night). It is a normal scene - Sky's clean room. And I thought, I wonder how many other teenagers keep their room so nice. I know I didn't, much to the chagrin of my poor mom.

I "trained" all my kids to clean up their toys when they were little, to make their beds, to hang their clothes. Something happens to them when they become teens, and they seem to forget those lessons. Except Sky, who probably didn't need me to teach them to her in the first place. If anyone is born with a "neat gene," she's one of them.
 I love her wall collections - notes and drawings from friends, favorite movie posters, souvenirs, awards from school. And her strings of colored lights, which echo the rainbow-hued polka-dots of her comforter. Her room is bright and cheery, just like her.
 This is a dresser that my husband and I bought at Good Will for Whitney when she was a teenager, then she and my husband used a "distresser kit" to paint it and make the paint appear "crackled."

Sky is a talented piano player and although we have a regular piano downstairs, this is her little keyboard she plays around on.

The kid even keeps her closet organized.

For years, Sky has been collecting snow globes from the different places we have visited or vacationed.

 I'm guessing this could be her favorite, as I know how much she loves New York City. Or maybe it's the Cedar Point one...

My husband is always buying the girls a bouquet of fresh flowers for their rooms. This past Valentines, he gave them beautiful bouquets of colorful, dried flowers - but he didn't know they were dried. He said, "Get these on water before they die!" and my girls said, "Dad! They're already dead, duh!"

It is refreshing to have a kid who keeps her room clean - although I'd venture to say it is not normal. Well, I will relish abnormality as long as she lives here!

My Lukey Boy, who follows me around everywhere, waited patiently while I took pictures of Sky's room.
So, what do you think? Are some people just born with a "neat gene"?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Boomerang Daughter & Grandbabies

I love, love, love that my grown daughter now lives less than 3 miles from me. We were first "separated" back in 2007, when we were living in San Antonio, TX, and my Air Force husband received orders to relocate to Pittsburgh, PA. She was 19 and decided she wanted to be on her own and not move with the family. She was going to college, and.....I think there may have been a boy involved. Yeah, there was definitely a boy involved. One year later she was married. Soon after that, the babies came, and I was so far away it hurt. We are now living in Washington State, and she and her little family decided to pick up and move here in December 2011.

Now I get to spend time with her and my grandbabies on a regular basis!

I love it that my shy, contemplative 16-month-old granddaughter shouts, "Nene! Nene!" every time I walk in their door. I love it that my grandson, who was quite wary of me when he was a toddler, greets me at the door with gusto and immediately tells me about his newest toy or creation. I love it that I have a toy basket in the coat closet at home so they always have something to play with when they come over. It is such a privilege that I get to watch these delightful, unique, precious human beings grow up right before my eyes. Now that they're here, I can't imagine life without them!

Just a 10-minute drive and I am at their front door. Whitney offers me coffee and we sit and chat. Austen puts on a serious face for my camera.

I ask River to look so I can take his picture, but like a typical 3-year-old, he keeps turning his face or hiding under the table.  Such a tease. So I say, "Hey River, can you make a mean face?"

 I say, "That's not very mean looking. Come on, make a mean face."

That's better. Now make a silly face.
Great! Now make a surprised face!

You look very surprised!  Now, make a smiley face!

And that's how you get a 3 year old to pose for the camera. :)

The boy, guilty as charged.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A 300 Calorie Lunch

Last week, my husband asked me if I could start packing his lunches when he's not out of town. No prob. I pack my 6th grader's lunches every day, and I actually kinda enjoy it. But here's the kicker: he wants me to keep them all around 300 calories. At first I thought, sure, that'll be easy. But the first time I tried to think of what I could pack in his lunch I realized it is going to be a challenge to come up with a variety of delicious, nutritious, portable lunches that can satisfy a grown man, yet meet the calorie needs of a chihuahua.

So, here was my first attempt at creating a 300-calorie lunch for my man. This is a tuna sandwich made on Orowheat Sandwich Thins (100 calories). I mixed the tuna (albacore, his favorite) with a minute amount of mayonnaise, mustard, some chopped onion, celery, and pickles. I measured 1/4 cup of the tuna salad, topped it with some spinach leaves, and calculated that to be around 90 calories. The strawberries & blueberries are around 50, the red pepper strips 15, and the Andes mint chocolate is 25. So, a 280 calorie lunch, give or take.

He said it tasted great and was filling, but it was obvious he was starving by the time he got home from work at 5:30. He followed me around the kitchen like one of my kids, asking, "How much looooonger?" while I worked on getting supper on the table.