Dear Grocery Store Cashiers and Baggers,

No, I'm not really, really hungry. But thanks for your concern.

And, by the way - No, I'm not going to eat all of that. At least not by myself.

Again, thanks for asking. Please understand that I may not be able to muster a chuckle or much more than a half smile because I have heard these questions at least 11 million times. Sorry about that.

While I am apologizing, I would also like to apologize for purchasing so many groceries. I can see by the way you roll your eyes that you do not approve. However, I would like to remind you that I am standing right there, so when you complain to your co-workers about the volume of my purchases - I can most certainly hear you. My feelings are not hurt, but please forgive me if I don't qualify for Customer of the Year after that.

It does make me wonder if I am the only person who buys large amounts of groceries at one time? I have a big family, but ours is one of many. In fact, I am continually humbled by the moms I meet with 6, 7 and even 8 children. Surely they must shop at grocery stores?

Thank you. Have a nice day.

Richmond Zoo

This weekend, we went to the Richmond Zoo. It was a nice little zoo, and we had a great time.

The penguins were a favorite of the kids. We learned that most penguins live in warm waters (which made me feel a lot better about the 100 degree weather that they were jumping around in). We also learned that this breed of penguin only lives about 10 - 15 years in the wild, while the oldest penguin at the zoo was 30 and just last year had a baby!

Another favorite was the turtles in the moat surrounding the chimps and orangutans. It's funny - we can see turtles any time, but we almost NEVER get to see monkeys. Of course, the kids are more fascinated by the turtles.

My favorite part was feeding the giraffes. Where else on earth do you get to feed giraffes? Their tongues are scratchy and gross, kind of like a cow only gooey-er.

It was a great day, but it was HOT. I think I have spoiled these children, because they don't like to be out in the heat so much. Poor CoCo! Over and over again she said "Momma, I'm sweaty!"

Oh no!

I think I'm in trouble.


Today is Maddie's 10th birthday!

Ginger's Piano Recital

Here is Ginger at her first ever piano recital.

The teacher, Miss Cindy, was wondering if Ginger would be brave enough to play in front of the 50 people who were there.

Of course she was brave enough!! A princess couldn't disappoint her royal subjects!

Fiesta de las Familias

Every year, on the last day of school, Casa Esperanza Montesorri Charter School (Casa for short) has a fiesta to celebrate. The school holds several fund raisers at the fiesta (silent auction, raffle tickets, and food sales). The kids spend a few hours running around with all of their friends. It's a lot of fun.

But the highlight of the evening is the cultural performances. The kids practice for weeks and then give a performance to about 500 parents, grandparents, family friends, etc. They do some songs as an entire group and some by individual grades or classes.

This was the first year that all of the kids were in Casa, and therefore the first year that they all performed. Needless to say, it was also the first year that Mom got to sit in a chair and watch the entire performance.

I really looked forward to this year's performance - I had listened to the kids practice repeatedly in the weeks prior, correcting each other and trying to determine who could sing the loudest.

I was so proud of those children of mine. I was tearful the entire time (thinking "I hope Maddie doesn't notice her mother blubbering or else she is going to be very embarrassed in front of her friends.").

CoCo made me proud for just sitting with the group. This year has been a bit "touch and go" at school for my free spirit CoCo. It's not easy for her to sit still and follow someone else's routine. But, she did great at the fiesta! She stayed in place, sang her songs, did her dances and was on her best behavior.

Ginger was her little princess self. She sang and danced with such determination - it was obvious that she spent a great deal of time in front of a mirror preparing for this day. Unfortunately, it was horrendously hot (95 degrees at 7 pm). Ginger doesn't really "do" hot. Or cold, for that matter. It's not very princessy. But, she knew that her adoring audience was waiting for her, and she made the best out of it.

Owen was charming, as usual. He is very animated, and performed his numbers as well as any great actor on Broadway.

Maddie was AMAZING. She bravely volunteered to dance in a small group in the grand finale! Not only that, but she had to dance with a BOY. A real, live boy. I'm not sure that she realized how big of a deal this was until the day that they paired the 'couples' up. Maddie was paired up with a boy who is rumored to have kissed a fish. Now, I realize that kissing a fish does not seem like the worst thing in the world. In fact, some days, kissing a fish would register very low on my "weird-o-meter." However, if you are a girl in the 4th grade, this could be disastrous.

Maddie is a sweet child. Her teachers compliment her for how she seeks out other children who are shy or awkward, how she always eats lunch with the new kids in the class, and how she goes out of her way to make sure that everyone feels welcome in the classroom. This experience really tested her limits.

One day, as we were riding in the car, she said "Mom, I really feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders." It was so sweet, I just wanted to kiss her.

Being my kid, there was no way she would back out of the dance. She would not allow this poor young man to feel any worse than he already did.

When the performance finally came, I could not believe my eyes. Maddie was the leader of the group! She smiled her biggest smile, and really let loose! She danced and danced with that sweet little boy. She was a great sport thru out the entire thing. The boy was at least a foot shorter than her, and she had to dip WAY down for him to twirl her around. When it was over, she told me that she thought it went very well. "Mom! I only stepped on his foot 3 times, and he stepped on mine once! And it didn't even hurt!!"

I couldn't love those kids any more. What a wonderful night!

The Kids Get Crafty

Summer has just begun, and we have already hit the craft supplies, games and puzzles full force.

Maddie would not be outdone by Owen's Lego masterpieces, and so she created one of her own.

The little girls put this puzzle together no less than 33 times during one particularly rainy afternoon.

They all spent an afternoon painting daisy's on wooden blocks that we later used to create a border for one of my flower beds. I couldn't believe that I found an activity that would keep them all busy for so long.

And then, there is this little guy. I'm not good at wildlife photos (unless you include the wildlife that lives INSIDE my house). You have to use your imagination. This little dragonfly spent the entire day with us this weekend - every time I turned around, there he was.

So glad that it's summer!!