Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Five Favs - Odyssey vs Town and Country



Back a few months ago after the wreck, our rental van was a Town and Country that we drove for nearly 3 weeks. Coming from an Odyssey there were some differences that I liked and didn't like so here goes for anyone who might be in the minivan market. Before buying a car again I would definitely try and rent a model or test-drive the car for more than 20 minutes just to really test the functionality of the car. You learn more about what you like and don't like the more you drive it. Example - I bought a Scion xA (back in the day) and I didn't realize it didn't have cruise control until after signing the papers and driving it off the lot! HA!

Anyways, here goes:



Do you know how stinking hard it is to get a minivan rental in a smaller market? Tough. 


Five Features of Town Country that we liked: 


1. Middle front console - This was a neat feature because to slid instead of popping open. If you know anything about me - I like to pack things in the van and not having the move everything to access the console was great. 


2. Unlocking doors when the van is turned off - This seems like not a big deal until it is. The Odyssey's come programed to keep the doors locked when the car is turned off. I cannot tell you how many times Lee and I have pressed the sliding door buttons only to get a BEEP-BEEP-BEEP from the van because the doors are locked. After 80,000 I finally got the people at Honda to reprogram our van but I drove a loaner Odyssey last week (hello, 3rd cylinder misfire and new timing belt) and that loaner had the same CRAZY feature of keeping the doors locked. SO DUMB!

3. Interior lighting - The lighting in the Town and Country is way nicer than the Odyssey. There are several more push lights as well as that blue middle tract lighting. (Again even in the 2016 loaner Odyssey they hadn't stepped up the lighting game)


4. 3rd row windows open - I'm not sure why the Odyssey 3rd row windows don't open but it seems weird to me. Not that we ride with windows down but just airing out the car is nice sometimes.

5. Digital speedometer - I just like having the speed digitally as well as on the little stick speedometer thingy. 


Five Features of Odyssey that we liked: 
1. Accelerating  - The Town and Country accelerating very loud and almost truck like. The Odyssey acceleration seemed much more smooth and seamless. 

2. Height - The height of the Odyssey is just a tad bit lower than the the Town and Country which makes it easier for smaller kids to get in and out. M has a little bit of a challenge throwing her leg up into the T&C - not a huge deal but just a noticeable difference. 



3. LATCH clips in third row - The Odyssey has at least 2 if not 3 sets of LATCH clips in the third row. I was surprised the Town and Country only has one set. Now that we have Britax CLICK TIGHT carseats - which I highly recommend - we don't need the LATCH but still curious why the T&C only has one. 

4. Longer - The Odyssey was just a bit longer than the Town and Country. I probably wouldn't have noticed had I not been parking in the garage and had a point of spacial comparison. Everything fit in the T&C perfectly fine. 

5. Center dash - I liked my maps and other screen in the Odyssey much better than the Town and Country. Maybe it is just because I was used to the Honda version but the Honda screen/maps/thing seemed a bit bigger and a little more intuitive. 

So that's all I have. Obviously price was not a factor here nor do I have an idea about what either of these vans costs. I have always heard Honda's have good resale values but I've never tried selling one so who knows. If I had to pick a new van today I'd still go with the Odyssey.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

7QTs - Celebrations, Projects, Derbies

Recapping the past 2 or so weeks....




--- 1 ---

Let's see the last place I left off was here...



Soapbox Derby for American Heritage Girls


E had fun during her two races


R and M enjoyed the donuts and watching some. It was mighty cold for April 30th which was a bummer and even more of a bummer was the church was locked and so there were no bathrooms : ( 

Other thoughts on the Soapbox Derby:

1. There is very little strategy involved
2. There is lots of teamwork in moving the car back into position once a driver has run the (short) course. 
3. I think I still prefer the Pinewood derby cars and races like Uncle Kev used to do in Cub Scouts. It was way more hands on and a lot more fun to watch and there was a clear winner in the group. 

---2---

After the derby we had an intensive Saturday laundry day... As usual


Now that the big girls are upstairs there is a but more work involved in the transportation of their clothes and they've been read the riot act on putting the clothes neatly in the right drawers. 


M on the other hand just ends up with balled-up clothes in her drawers but is the most eager to 'be a helpa' so wrinkly pajamas it is. 


---3---

These two...

M loves A so so so very much but when he sits in her lap, he practically knocks her over.

They were did not participate in our family activity that I need to post on but they were excellent observers. More on that later?

---4---

Then the week was mostly a blur of the normal - AHG, soccer, work, school - normal-ish, boring-ish stuff.

Then the weekend brought Mother's Day:


Saturday Lee cooked a crowd favorite (and my favorite too) Pine Nut Chicken 


And he got me flowers : )

Sunday we have a massive joint Mothers Day celebration with Jibbe and Grammy and cousins in Raleigh. I think it was a success and a fun time for everyone.

I opened a number of beautifully decorated cards and some sweet projects from school. E was so funny about all the stuff she made for me. She got this MASSIVE Christmas bag and put all my things in it so I couldn't see them. It was precious. 

---5---

And then my thoughtful one turned a whole six years old a few days after that!


Breakfast of Champions

I put out an ISO on FB for Star Wars sets with Leia in it that don't cost 1.5 millions dollars.... Death Star, cough, cough. Well my cousin who shares the same name as E came to the rescue and mailed not only Leia but R2D2. The packaged came the day before and I let E open it before breakfast and she was super surprised and way happy.

Also, she wanted Lucky Charms for her birthday breakfast instead of waffles or pancakes - probably because I've messed up pancakes too many times before BUT she insisted on Lucky Charms. Which kind of annoyed me but hey it wasn't my birthday. We finished the box yesterday and she declared she wanted waffles next birthday. We will see if that holds true.

Finally on her birthday, she got to go on a field trip - so zero seat work on her birthday. WooHoo! I, unfortunately, couldn't go because you know - work, younger siblings, the hour long drive, all day - I don't like missing field trips but so it goes. From the pictures, I know she had a blast.

We sang happy birthday with just our family that night before rushing off the AHG but I have a story to tell about her present so maybe next time.

---6---

E came home with a bug project and this is about how it went down...


Make a model of a bug. She wanted to do a butterfly so she looked at pictures of butterflies and decided on the Orange Barred Sulphur (which lives in South and Central America but can be found as far north as New York - who knew!)



The model had to be 3-D so I was searching for some creative outlets for the girl who loves crafts. Seriously I decided I made a serious error in judgement and promptly had Papa exchange it. 


E made a couples casts of the butterfly with pipe cleaners but abandoned those because the Model Magic was sticking to them. 


After she played with it for awhile, she got down to business


The finished model


Now it just had to dry for 2-3 days!?!?!?! before it could be painted.  We were hoping it would dry in the shape it was sitting but I think that is where the modeling clay would have been better



The yellow waterbased paint wasn't cutting it for E so we dug up some ancient paint of mine


Sometimes I'm legit worried about catching something on fire or breathing in the fumes. 


Chia for the black parts of the butterfly? Chia on my floor for a few days!


Almost done.


No you may not bring your model to school like this. Please find something else it can 'fly' in 


E is so literal that answering the question - what do you and your bug like to do and where did you find your bug - were comical. Look at flowers and on the Internet? 


The butterflies : ) 

---7---

On the day of all the painting this is what the kitchen looked like at 5:30:



Project stuff, dinner stuff, breakfast and lunch dishes, mothers day stuff, the Lego topper for the birthday cake later in the week, a dishwasher that needed to be unloaded. The works. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Stinky Soccer Clothes


A few weeks back I had a rough time at soccer practice. Well actually that would be more accurately described as my children made me want to bury my head in a pile of stinky soccer clothes. 

Oh my goodness it was rough. I think both R and E were tired -but they did have full bellies because I know we need fuel to make it through. I don't even really remember the circumstances surrounding the drama. I can tell you that with six 4 and 5 year old girls there's lots of drama. Drama over ball color, drama over whose hand is on top when we do our cheer, drama over who is partnered with who. DRA-MA. Totally normal. I get it and can usually deal with it. 

Lee was at the swings with M and A. Then something happens with E. Like meltdown mania over something silly. Tears. Screams. The works. I think she is going to power through to finish what we were doing but then she can't. She just can't. SO off to Papa and the entire park can hear her howling the whole way. 

Sigh. Scream a little louder kid, will you? 

Then it was R's turn to meltdown. Now R is still just 4. A young 4. She still doesn't like the ball being taken away from her and she moves and shakes at her own pace (on and off the field) - okay I get it but this season she's been doing a lot better with things. But not tonight. Who knows what exactly set her off but something did and the tears began flowing and she is the type who cannot be reasoned with when she is emotional. 

Can we just all go home, now? 

All the while there are 4 other girls who I'm trying to run practice for as this background drama of my own children is taking place. I'm torn between having to parent my children and coaching my team. I expect my children to behave/participate/whatever for the duration of practice - as I hope they would if I was not their coach. But my children do not have the benefit of me sitting on the sidelines during practice watching them monitoring what they are doing and being able to pull them aside and IMMEDIATELY correct behavior if needed. 

In fact, on this particular night I think all but one of the six players needed a little extra parenting. Full moon, maybe? I don't know what it was. But that doesn't give my kids a free pass. 

After a talk with Papa, eventually they pulled it together - barely - and we scraped through practice. Then. Then. Then. E and R asked if they could play on the playground. 

Ha.

Haha.

Yeah, no. 

Not after that performance. I pretty much read them the riot act in the van home. If you EVER, EVER behave like that again I'm not coaching next season. It is embarrassing. It is not fair to the other players on the team. Need I continue? Would you EVER do that for your teachers at school? Then why would you behave like that for me? You all ought to try to "let it go" like Elsa and not sweat the details. And you guessed right, no dessert. 

I laid it on the line. But my mom ego was totally deflated. I mean if my kids are going to meltdown I prefer they do it at home and not on display for 100 people. However, I know the other parents on the team (and in the park) knew exactly how I was feeling because their kids have their moments too. Parenting is hard. You never know the moment you kid is going to throw you a curveball. Sure it is easy to talk about the great things they do, and their successes and the good times - because there are lots of them but it is the trying times that really cause me to reflect on how I can parent better and how I potentially avoid situations like this again. 

Well the next day the girls redeemed themselves at our game. Their behavior and effort and attitude was more than good. So I'll dig myself out from underneath the pile of stinky soccer jerseys and hold my head high knowing/hoping/praying that I'm doing the right thing in the parenting ball game. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Strawberry Daze 2016


The girls and boy and I packed up and headed more than a few miles down the road to pick strawberries today. 


The farm we went to has organic you-pick strawberries - which is awesome.


But last week the weather was wacky and the plants were pelted with hail thanks to a thunderstorm. This week it has rained like crazy so the plants are SUPER water logged. There is some part of the plant or fruit or something that is going to succumb to some sort of fungus sooner rather than later (probably because of all the water) and there is nothing that can be sprayed on the strawberries that is certified organic (or at least that's how I understand it). SOOOOO... we went out to support our local farmer and get some super cheap organic strawberries. 


A was a good sport for most of the time 


M was surprisingly helpful and played along for at least half the time. I think she took off the bottoms of several strawberries and threw them in her bucket so we found those at home. 


Watermelon dress with strawberry stains


Just taste testing one


R kept saying she was hungry so I told her all there was were strawberries. She was happy but then tried to make me believe her finger was bleeding but it was just strawberries - problem solved. E is a self-proclaimed strawberry hater - except in smoothies; same with tomatoes but yes to ketchup and no to spaghetti sauce


The loot. 6 buckets full for $30! I knew some were bad and other needed trimming because of my help but I wouldn't have been able to do it without them. They were awesome little worker bees! And despite it being well past lunch time didn't complain about a late lunch when we rolled home at 2.


This is my favorite pic of the day!


The swings were too big for the bigs so they settled for this... 


I think we need a few for our yard


M had a grande time on the swing as she always does!


Strawberry Picking 2016. I let E and R go play for 'one last time' while A and M and I headed to the van. A nice dad and his son offered to pull the wagon while I herded M and toted A. We found some space in the van for the 4 flats of berries - no small task, you know. Then I called for E and R, which was followed by - "oh, you have more?". 

Oh indeed. They are the reason we collected so many strawberries!


Papa washed, processed and froze our loot. Strawberry smoothies are in our future and we won't be paying an arm and a leg for them for awhile. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

7QTs - Acorns, Cheerios and Fun in the Rain!

Oh what a week...




--- 1 ---

Last Friday we had a playdate at our house and this is what it consisted of:




Lots of rain


And no thunder. 


The girls has a blast because it is probably the first time they've played in the rain like this and they were out there for at least 30 minutes. And no one caught pneumonia and no one cracked their head on the super slick garage floor. 

---2---

The next day E and R were playing "mail"


Which was this bizarre game of them dropping leaves around the sideway and driveway. There is now one section of one tree that is quite barren. Though I did convince E to climb the tree to get more leaves because I wouldn't pull them down for her - and she actually did it. 

I figure I have way more problems than one tree missing some leaves so that's why I didn't stop them. 


---3---

Sunday we went to Grammy's

And played hide-and-seek in the park

And took Grady on a walk with Grandpa Joe


These girls are too peas in a pod!

---4---

If you have read this blog for any length of time you might remember we throw our bread scraps and other crumbs to the squirrels affectionately known as Buddy or ardilla. Well here's what I found one afternoon:


Me - M, stop eating the Cheerios off the steps


The second time I caught her...

Me - M, Stop!
M - Look the bee-bus.
Me - M, they are gross!
M - They not dirty!

---5---

Grandpa Joe pulled this gem out of one of his flower pots.



Papa - Oh I give a homily about this!
 #alwayslookingforpreachingmaterial

I had never seen this stage of the acorn-to-oak tree. It was super cool and E took it to school the next day and it came home in pieces so R couldn't. Maybe I should have sent it with R first. Well anyhow, this came in perfectly handy with some of E's homework because she had to write about a plant. She could pick any one but after some debate over flowers and tree she settled on the oak tree.

The first 2 sentences were pretty easy for her to come up with because they were about acorns but then for the last 2 she did NOT want to write about a season (spring = pollen, fall = colorful leaves, winter = no leaves) because that would make the sentence long. So then we had to clarify that trees do not have stems they have trunks and trunks have rings for each year the tree is alive and 25 minutes later I couldn't pronounce the Latin words for oak tree; the rings sentence was way longer than any seasonal non-sentence but what do I know?

We got to visit the chicks that hatched in E's class

---6---

A is so so so crazy...


Either that or he has got me completely wrapped around his finger. It is so hard to listen to him cry and if he is awake he wants to be nursing, eating or being held. However, this is not conducive to getting ANYTHING done so - like most things it seems - I just do whatever halfway. Why is table wiped off and the dishes still on the sink? Blame A. Why is our bed made only half the time? Thank Sir A. Why can't you sit down and eat dinner with us Mama? Ask your brother.

At this point, I have come to accept any number of things won't be done or they won't be done very well or completely. That's just what this stage of life is like. Maybe A will decide he likes his jumper thing. Or maybe he'll figure out how to stuff Cheerios in his mouth by himself. But I'm mostly okay with how we roll because he is so cute and I don't want to rush him.

I'm quite sure I have one of the preschool songs in my head on repeat - Peace, patience, love and joy... gifts of the Holy Spirit. Especially when I'm not feeling any of the gifts. 

---7---

It is so interesting to see/watch siblings interests evolve.


When E was 2-ish she ALWAYS had to ride on the mower with Papa, as soon as she heard it. She was ready. Now E still likes to ride but she's got other things on her mind plus she's getting slightly on the bigger side : ) R will ride occasionally but really it has never been her 'thing'. She'll ride for a few minutes and she's done. M is going to be Papa's mowing partner for sure. She loves to ride and has to ride with her hat. I can definitely see her just riding along, singing whatever song comes to her mind - just like E used to.