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Pumpkins One, Two, and Three (and Me)

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Entries in summer (3)


Swim season recap.

Hi there!  Sandra waves hello, logging on for the first time in three weeks.

We're enjoying our summer and cannot believe it's almost over.  And before it ends, I need to record some important happenings.  One in particular is Max's involvement on swim team.  It was touch and go whether he'd choose to participate this year.  He tried winter swim and Charlie and I watched in horror as he seemed to get worse week after was obvious his heart wasn't in it.  He would jump in and do a few strokes.  Then he'd  completely stop and lose all momentum, seemingly content with sinking.  And then--at a critical moment before sinking too far--he'd stroke, stroke, stroke, bobbing back to the surface.  He'd repeat this tortured rhythm the full length of the lane.  It was hard to watch. 

When summer rolled around, it was a surprise when he said he'd join swim team.  Not a surprise was the groaning when he trudged to the 7:45 a.m. practice each day.  But he always stuck with it.  He even graduated from the B meets to the A meets because our team needed someone in his age group to do breast stroke.  I should point out that he could not do breast stroke when this proposition arose. 

I should also point out that while other kids might be embarrassed by the notion of attempting something in public before they can do it well--the concern does not seem to cross Max's mind. 

A notable thing about our oldest is he really doesn't care what anyone thinks.  And this often presents challenges because his parents are, you guessed it, included in the group of "anyone."  Sure he wants to please us and enjoys making us proud.  But gaining acceptance by doing what others do is not a driving force in his decisions.  It never has been.  Rather, he will strive to do things well if he wants to.  And he is not easily influenced by the notion that he should want to do something well just because others do it well.  I'm not sure exactly what character trait, if any, that represents but it resulted in him happy to swim breast stroke in a race with seasoned swimmers even though he could not actually do the breast stroke.  I might have mentioned that already but it's worth repeating because it made me proud.  Especially when I saw his face before the first meet and realized he was pretty nervous.

Max disqualified during the first two meets.  He'd either do an illegal stroke or forget to touch the wall with two hands.  But he stuck with the practices, only missing when we were out of town and when he fell sick for a few days.  And in the end, the breast stroke finally clicked.  He cut his time nearly in half and by the end of the season, he improved enough to qualify for Divisionals.

More importantly, he made friends, enjoyed team camaraderie, and learned the valuable lesson that hard work pays off.  At our team banquet, he was selected by the coaches for the hardest working boy award.  I have never seen him look proud, surprised, and embarrassed.  And as I watched him clutch the plaque and process what it represented, I've never felt my heart swell quite that way. 

His coaches are really exceptional.  Wonderful young adults who are committed to the kids--many of them grew up on the very swim team they now coach.  The two young ladies in charge of the 8 and under kids are really great, not to mention adorable.  I knit them a pair of earflap hats in team colors with fun pom poms as a thank you gift.  I hope they like them.

I was a timer at the end of the lane and he's waving hello. But doesn't it look like he's trying to use the Force?

We've spent far less time at the pool since the end of swim season.  But we have a couple of weeks left.  We are ending this summer with a big surprise trip for the boys and I am all-a-flurry trying to get ready.  I'll give you a hint.  It starts with a D and rhymes with Help Me.  Okay, that's not the right attitude.  I know we'll have a ball and are lucky ducks to get to go.  I'm just a little worried that traveling with a three-year-old to a theme park filled with attractions that he--and he alone--cannot ride won't be the smoothest experience we've enjoyed.  I think I've made it clear how much he likes to hang with his brothers.  We will have to divide and distract, I think.  Wish us luck.


Icee cozie with a short how-to.


Although I bake treats nearly every day for my brood, do you know what works them into a tizzy without fail?  Icee pops.  Yes, the artificial flavored water you can always find at the dollar store.  I like to think it's because I don't let the boys eat them too often.  But honestly, it's probably because I went a little heavy on the flax in the most recent round of muffins.

So.  They love icee pops but won't hold them because they are ICE and thus--yup--freezing.  Sick of paper towels constantly unwrapping (not to mention the waste because I finally switched the household to cloth napkins) I whipped up some cozies out of craft felt.  I made a dozen or so for our neighborhood Labor Day block party.  But then it started raining and the entire party moved indoors (as in our indoors) so I put the kibosh on the icee pops. 

I meant to make these all season but never got to it.  And I just should have done it because the cozies took all of 12 minutes to make.  Since summer is technically over (sniff), instead of looking at this as something I never got to, I'm going to spin it as "wow, I already crossed something off my summer craft list for next year." 

 1.  Find some spare felt.  I have a ton of acrylic felt laying around because I'm hooked on using wool felt for most of our crafts.

2.  Determine how wide to make the cozies.  There are wide and skinny icees--go figure.  We have somehow acquired both so I marked accordingly.  You certainly could just wing this but I knew I'd forget to make different widths.  I swear my short-term memory has still not recovered from my pregnancies.

3.  Sew.  I used a bright colored thread in a wide zig zag for contrast.  That is as fancy as I got.

4.  You need two rows of stitches on the inside lines because you will cut between them (see below).  

5.  Cut your cozies apart.  Up to you whether to stitch the bottoms closed (I did).

6.  Put the icees into the they are ready for little fingers.


Back to school and ice cream in a bag.


Today was Max's first day of first grade.  I have no idea how that happened.  Not in a, "hey, wait, it's only the beginning of August?" kind of way--I know how that happened (he goes to a year-round school so his summer is only six weeks long).  No.  More in a, "how on earth can you be six??!  Six!  And starting grade school?  Where they don't have snacks in the morning or bathrooms in the rooms?" kind of way.  It's killing me.  And although I was more of a mess on his first day of kindergarten last year, I still managed to puddle things up a bit.  Okay, a lot.

Now, I should say that I actually like the year-round format of our elementary school.  It's very nice to have a few weeks off in the fall and spring, as well as an extra couple of weeks during the holidays.  But the end of summer break is hard--especially when most of Max's play friends have another month before their summers end.

So I have some activities lined up for August that will hopefully keep summer alive and well around here.  Today's project (and treat) was making ice cream in a bag.  You will need some milk or half and half, sugar, vanilla, ice, two quart-sized ziplocs, one gallon-sized ziploc, rock salt and any mix-ins you'd like--unless your kids are straight vanilla types like mine (are you shaking your head in wonder?  Because I don't get how they can love every candy on earth as long as it is NOT in their ice cream).  Oh, and mittens or other means to keep little fingers warm.


I scribbled down the instructions for this at the start of summer--I think from Family Fun magazine but I'm not 100% sure.  We made two batches which was enough to serve four.  We must not have used enough ice as the ice cream never set up much past soft serve.  I just stuck it in the freezer for a little bit (like 30 min) and it was perfect.  But don't take my word for it.  Take the word of a first grader.  Sniff.

Ice Cream in a Bag (adapted from Family Fun Magazine)

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