Month: July 2010 (page 1 of 3)

Cartwheels and Piggybacks, It’s Just That Kind of Day

When I was a kid, I always went to the Kittanning Folk Festival with my grandma. It was special something we did together. Even after my parents and I moved hours away, I made the trip back to my hometown each summer to visit the festival with her. Today, I got to go with my girls, their cousins and, of course, my grandma.



My Magical Lucy

It was magical.

Time Well Spent

Some people go to the beach or a lake, on a cruise or to an amusement park for a vacation. I’ve been spending my time with the newest members of my family.

Little Miss Kelsey

Little Baby Bob

What could be more refreshing?

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is my placenta previa has corrected itself. There are no words to describe the relief I feel.

The bad news is I have beautiful ultrasound images to share with you, but I have to wait until I return from a short trip to Pennsylvania to visit my family. We headed here straight from my appointment, so I haven’t had the chance to scan them, yet. (P.S. Don’t tell my doctor where I am. I’m not supposed to travel this far in my third trimester, so sshhhhh! It’s a secret!)

Also, I’m making too much amniotic fluid. This explains why I’m looking and measuring so big. Phoebe’s size is perfect. She’s just got a big pool to swim in while she waits to make her entrance. The same thing happened when I was pregnant with Julia, so I’m not worried, which is really a lie because worrying is what I do. I’m a little worried. But less worried about the amniotic fluid than I was about the placenta previa. I traded up on worries today. That’s not so bad.

Walking Tall: How to Make Your Own Bucket Stilts

My six year-old is a cotton candy fanatic. It’s her favorite thing in the whole world. Getting cotton candy is such a special event that she’s begun collecting her cotton candy containers, which are often little plastic buckets. She displays them like trophies…or mementos of my poorer parenting decisions. And so, I’ve been on a mission to use them up! Get them out! That’s how we came to create our own cotton candy bucket stilts. Also, ice cream bucket stilts. I know. I know. Cotton candy and ice cream! At least using the stilts will help them burn off all that sugar, right?

You can make stilts, too. Here’s what you’ll need.

Bucket Stilts Supplies


  • 2 containers (approximately 64 oz. cans or plastic buckets)
  • Nail
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Rope
  • Craft Supplies (optional)


  1. Using the hammer and nail, punch a hole in either side of each container.
  2. Bucket Stilts 1

  3. If you’re feeling fancy, you can use some craft supplies to decorate the containers. Make them look like elephant feet! We had some gold spray paint left over from another project, so we used that and added some stickers.
  4. Bucket Stilts 2

  5. Cut two pieces of rope, one for each container. Make sure the rope is long enough to thread through the holes in your container and reach your child’s hands.
  6. Bucket Stilts 3

  7. Thread the rope through the holes in the containers and tie the ends. You will have a loop of rope going through each container that your child can use as a handle.
  8. Bucket Stilts 4

  9. Let your kiddo jump on and take them for a spin!
  10. Bucket Stilts 5

A few tips:

  • Be sure to test the strength of the container you use. The larger ice cream buckets we used actually held less weight than the smaller cotton candy buckets.
  • Using the stilts really does take some coordination. Be prepared for some stumbles. I recommend trying them on the grass as it’s a little softer if someone tumbles.

Originally written for and posted on the now-defunct My OH! Momma website.

Making A Cake

“That’s all we’re getting?” Julia asks, nodding toward the pack of butter in my otherwise empty grocery cart.

“Uh huh.”

“Cause that’s all the money we have?” She looks concerned.

I take stock of the faces turning our way, smile and say, “That’s all we need.”

But that’s not true. We have eighty-one cents in our account and three more days until payday. I had syphoned gas from the lawn tractor to put in the van to get us to the store. Money is tight. But it happens sometimes. Times have been tougher for us, if you can believe it. That doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that this is the first time Julia noticed it.

I pay for our butter, load the girls back up in the van and head home. The gas light blinks on and I increase the volume on the radio. The girls are too busy singing, “…somethin’ tells me I’m into something good” to hear the we-need-gas-ding.

We get home and immediately begin working on a cake, from scratch of course. It’s Grandma and Grandpa’s 35 year anniversary, so we decide to use the heart-shaped pans. The girls are so excited. They stand at the counter, watching the cakes cool. What they really want is the icing. Is it time yet?

I make up a batch of my buttercream. Julia suggests we make it a color and remembers that red and blue make purple, so that’s what we do. I sit at the table to ice the cake. The girls sit underneath it at my feet without realizing I can hear their plans to nab some icing.

“Spoons!” Lucy suggests.

Julia is more cautious and says they’ll use their fingers to get a lick when I get up. I clear my throat and shuffle my feet. She gets the hint. “Maybe if we’re patient,” she says a little too loudly, “Mom will let us lick the bowl.” And I do.

When I put the food coloring away, I discover some blue sprinkles in the back of the cabinet and let the girls add them to the cake. They ask me to call Grandma to find out when she’ll get here. The waiting is torture.

We make spaghetti – with meatballs, as it is a special day – and serve what Lucy calls “the love cake” for dessert.

Cake for my parent's anniversary

Julia declares it “the best meal ever.” And at bedtime, as I lay in bed beside her with my arms about her, she tells me, “We have the perfect family,” before she falls asleep.

But I am still thinking about the butter.

So Maybe The Bratz Bathroom Bummer Wasn’t Such A Bummer After All

When Julia started Kindergarten, she immediately became friends with a girl I’ll call Rhonda.

Of course, Rhonda isn’t her real name. I’d love it if it was, though. I’d be all, “Help me, Rhonda!” Man, I love The Beach Boys. Especially during summer. It just feels so….right!


Julia adored Rhonda and talked about her all the time. So much so that I made it a point to introduce myself to Rhonda’s mother one day at school pick up.

Me: “Hi! Are you Rhonda’s mom?”

Rhonda’s Mom: “Yeah.”

Me: “I’m Leslie – Julia’s mom.”

I extended a hand of friendship.

Rhonda’s Mom: “…..”

She looked at my hand like I was trying to feel her up. Or kill her.

I pulled my hand back and brushed at invisible lint on my pants in an effort to look a little less awkward and rejected.

Me: “Well, Julia talks about Rhonda all the time. I think they’re becoming very good friends.”

Rhonda’s Mom: “How do you know who I am?”

Me: “Well, we’ve been picking up our kids here every day for a month…”

Yeah, Rhonda’s mom was kind of a giant asshole. But, Julia still loved Rhonda as evidenced in the first half of her Kindergarten memory book.

Page 3:
“I get along with….Rhonda.”

Page 5:
“My favorite day is playing with….Rhonda.”

Page 6:
And look! There’s a picture she drew of Rhonda.

But then, one day, suddenly and mysteriously, Julia and Rhonda were no longer friends. I inquired, many times, about what happened, but all I would get was a shrug from Julia.

I’ll admit, there was a small sense of relief. I knew there was no way I’d ever let Julia go over to Rhonda’s house. Her mom was a jerk. But, I could tell Julia was disappointed that they were no longer friends and that felt terrible.

Her disappointment didn’t last, however, as she became fast friends with a lovely girl with a perfectly delightful mother.

So, yesterday. After months and months of asking and wondering, I gained some insight into the falling out of Julia and Rhonda and I pounced on it like it was the juiciest piece of gossip I’d ever heard.

Julia had mentioned Rhonda in passing and my mother asked her, “Whatever happened with you two? Why aren’t you friends anymore?”

And Julia didn’t shrug. SHE SPOKE. She said, “I’m not one of the sexy girls.”

Okay, what does that mean?

“You’re not?” my mom asked.

“Rhonda is a sexy girl. She plays with Bratz dolls and stuff….my mom doesn’t allow me to. Sexy stuff isn’t for kids. So, I’m not a sexy girl.”

“But that’s okay, you know,” my mom told her.

“Oh, I know, Grandma. It’s okay. Sometimes when the other sexy girls aren’t around, Rhonda will still play with me. But I still have other friends.”

And I almost couldn’t contain myself. She listened.

This just may go down as one of my proudest moments.

Making Room for Baby (and some pictures I want to show you)

Two months from today, I will be holding Phoebe in my arms instead of my belly. We’re all warming up to the idea, though I just can’t seem to imagine what it will be like to actually have a third child in my charge, especially since I still haven’t figured out where I’m going to put her clothes. But it satiates my nesting desires to arrange, rearrange, and rearrange them again. Conversely, it’s given Dave an eye twitch and a stiff neck. (You should see what happens to him when I bring up the subject of transporting all three kids in the van.)

Julia, the cat charmer

Not a day goes by that Julia doesn’t ask, “What do you think Phoebe will look like?” We’ve all placed our bets on the color of her hair – I say brown, Julia says blonde and Lucy says orange. Dave hasn’t made an official bet, although when she comes, you can be sure he’ll tell us, “I told you it was going to be (whatever color it is).”

Lucy in the whale pool

Lucy has been looking at the ultrasound photo album I made with regularity. She points to the pictures and says, “Mommy baby belly! That’s Phoebe!” And she’s progressed from smacking at my bump to laying her cheek against it to feel her sister move, seasoning it with kisses and telling me, “Phoebe’s cute!” She mothers her baby dolls and even pretends to nurse them because, “I a good mommy! I love baby!”


I’m not sure what inspired the change in Lucy’s attitude. I’ve considered that it may be actually feeling the baby or seeing so many ultrasounds or all the books we’ve read and talking we’ve done about it. Dave seems to think it’s the two new molars we discovered peeking out of her gums yesterday. I think Julia’s excitment has helped. I love that she’s so proud to be a big sister.

The neighbor's cat that thinks it's our cat

Julia has been deeply involved with this pregnancy to the point that she became convinced, one night after a watermelon binge, that she was also pregnant. She requested “one of those sticks you pee on” to verify it. I tried to explain that it was impossible for her to be pregnant, but The Virgin Mary didn’t do anything to help me on this one and Julia just can’t see how the birth of Jesus could be any more special than the birth of her baby will be. At least she’s willing to take vitamins now. And she’s naming her daughter Stacey.

Mommy cat and kitten

And Alexander Thought His Day Was Bad.

I knew it was going to be a rough day when it started before we could even make it down the stairs to breakfast.

“Noooo!!!!!” Lucy screamed.

“Mom! Lucy pushed me!” Julia snitched.

I was already battle-worn as the night before ended with a naked Lucy, fueled by sisterly motivation, waggling her butt at me from the top of the playset and refusing to come down followed by a Level 6 Mommy Meltdown that inspired Dave to actually get up, clap his hands and shout, “Okay, BEDTIME GIRLS!!!!”

By 9:15 a.m., Lucy was in time out for ripping the pages from Julia’s library book.

I let her sit for the usual two minutes then approached to talk about what she had done. But she refused to talk. In fact, she refused to even make eye contact, rolling her eyes up in her head when I asked her to look at me. So I told her, “Well, then you can stay in time out until you’re ready to talk to me,” while I reconsidered my stance on storing kids in the closet.

The child sat in time out for 45 minutes, people. FORTY-FIVE MINUTES.

And this is how that 45 minutes went:

Me: “Lucy, are you ready to talk?”

Lucy: “NO I NOT!!!”

Twice she thought she’d try talking with me and that went something like this:

Me: “Lucy, did you rip Julia’s library book?”

Lucy: “Yes.”

Me: “Are we allowed to rip books?”

Lucy: “No.”

Me: “That’s right. Ripping books is NOT okay. So, are you going to rip books again?”

Lucy: “Yes!” arms raised in a V.

Add in an offensively satisfied Julia lingering about the scene peppering us with commentary and you’ve got the makings of an inevitable nuclear explosion.

Though every fiber in my body told me it was probably the wrong choice, we went to playgroup that afternoon. It was an act of hope. Or desperation. Surprisingly, it defused the situation. The kids played pretty hard and no one was hit or bitten. I sat in a near-catatonic state on my friend’s back patio which helped me regain enough will to go on the rest of the day.

And so, we are all still alive. No one is residing in the closet. And some days, you call this success in parenting.

The Bears

The BearWe’d been away from the girls approximately 18 hours and while most people wouldn’t call that a vacation, I did as I am always with the girls. Always. All the time. Where are they now? With me! See what I mean? And so, we thought we’d mark the monumental occasion and bring them home a gift. Because that’s what people do when they come home from vacation: bestow gifts upon the bitter left-behinds that didn’t get to make the trip.

Dave wanted to buy them stuffed bears. Given that the girls have one hundred million gajillion stuffed animals, I suggested that a stuffed bear may be the stupidest idea ever in the world. I perused the clothing and craft sets, you know, something they’d use. But, Dave was persistent and we came home with two bears: one white, one brown.

We gave them to the girls and they fussed over them as they’ve learned to do in order to show gratitude for the sentiment expressed. I fully expected them to be tossed aside and forgotten. So, you can imagine my surprise that night when Julia climbed into bed and requested her new bear.

Now, three months later, those girls wouldn’t dare to dream of going to bed without their “bearies” Or to the store. Or outside to play. Or anywhere. It’s like those frickin’ frackin’ bears are sewn to their arms or something.

Dave is so smug about it all. Now and then, he’ll nod toward a bear and give me a wink. And I think of that wink whenever I have to scour the house or trudge out to the driveway in my pajamas to retrieve a forgotten bear. Or I have to make a lunch for “Beary’s” first day of school. Or I have to scrub the paint or applesauce or chocolate or bubble gum or cornflakes or rubber cement from their fur. Or I have to pull over and stop the van because I forgot to buckle the bear’s seatbelt and, “Mom, it’s unsafe. He could die!!!!” And I think next time Dave winks at me, I’m going to poke him right in the eye.

What Makes Pop Fizz?

I don’t allow my kids to drink pop, but that doesn’t quench their fascination with it. I think it’s all about the fizz. So, I gave them a pop…for an experiment to study the gas behind the bubbles: carbon dioxide.

Here’s what we used:

Pop Fizz Supplies


  • 16 oz. bottle of pop
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 balloon


  1. Fill a balloon with 1 teaspoon of table salt.
  2. Pop Fizz 1

  3. Remove the cap from the bottle of pop and fit the opening of the balloon over the mouth of the bottle. Don’t let the salt fall into the pop, yet!
  4. Pop Fizz 2

  5. Once the balloon is secure, lift up the end and let the salt fall into the bottle. Pop is super-saturated with carbon dioxide and when you add salt, you release it, because bubbles can form faster on the jagged edges of the salt. The balloon will begin to fill with gas and foam.
  6. Pop Fizz 3

  7. The liquid from the foam will fall back into the pop bottle and you’ll be left with a balloon filled with carbon dioxide. Look at how much gas you swallow when you drink a bottle of pop. No wonder it makes you burp!
  8. Pop Fizz 4

A few tips:

  • As soon as you open the pop bottle, gas will begin to escape. Make sure you use a freshly opened bottle for the maximum effect.
  • This experiment can get a little messy. You may want to try it outside or over the sink.

Originally written for and posted on the now-defunct My OH! Momma website.

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