So Far So Good

We are nearing the end of our first full week with the grandchildren, and so far everyone seems to be having a good time, although I must admit it took me awhile to get the hang of cooking for so many people. And the thing is, they expect to eat not just once but many times a day! Stephan, the youngest, is the self-appointed food critic, who has so far let me know that my cheese pizzas are delicious, my blueberry muffins would be better without the blueberries, my scrambled eggs are good, the corn is better than my home-made macaroni and cheese, the fresh green beans are not as good as canned, the heart-shaped cinnamon cereal is good without milk, and the milk is not what he’s used to but is okay. Jearid is the most adventurous eater, who proudly announced that he has even eaten eel before!

When the kids first arrived, we looked through all the flyers and brochures and events calendars that I had collected, and we put together a schedule of activities for the two weeks the children would be here. Jearid got to pick where to go for his birthday on July 5, and he picked the science center in St. Louis. We also offered the kids the choice of one other out-of-town trip for next week, and Stephan perked up at the sound of Lego Land in Kansas City. Bethany’s main interest was in swimming, so we penciled in several swimming days. Next we selected a few events with set times, such as a children’s concert of patriotic music, a production of the Wizard of Oz at the public library, a July 4th party and fireworks display, and a dance walk. Finally, we filled in the remaining time slots with events that could be done at any time, such as throwing rocks in the creek, more swimming, watching boats go down the river, bowling, visiting the art department and playing with clay, learning to play the banjo.

By now, we have settled into a nice routine. As people wake up, they fix themselves a bowl of cereal, and then, once everyone is up, we have lunch (something simple like omelets or cheese quesadillas or macaroni and cheese), and after lunch we head off to do our scheduled activity for the day. After that, we have dinner at home, play checkers or mancala, listen to grandpa read The Phantom Tollbooth, watch a movie or tv show on their dad’s computer, or do whatever else we can think of to entertain ourselves. Bethany spends a lot of time on her phone, reading and listening to music, and writing stories. Bedtime is a relaxed affair, with people heading off to bed when they get tired. Usually the boys outlast the rest of us, but they were up bright and early and ready to head to the Science Center yesterday.



Enjoying the quiet while it lasts

The grandchildren will be here any time, and I am taking the opportunity to sit and relax for a bit before they arrive. It won’t be this quiet for a while.It has been a busy day for all of us. My son arrived last night from Georgia just before dark and then got up at daybreak to drive halfway across Kansas to pick up his kids, who have also been riding in the car all day, having left Colorado Springs early this morning with their mother. My husband left about 3:00 to go call a dance in Rolla, Missouri tonight (he claims he will be back eventually).

I have been trying to remember how to cook for children and have been to the farmers market and the grocery store to stock up on cereal and goldfish crackers and bananas. It’s been a long time since I had to cook for picky eaters, and the list of foods that the youngest grandchild will eat, according to his mother, seems rather limited. Fortunately, I found a website by a mom who has four children and who kindly publishes her kid-tested weekly menus and grocery lists. So I picked a set of menus for the next two weeks, and we’re just going to go with those. I don’t want to argue about food or spend all my time filling special orders, as though this were some sort of restaurant. I’d rather spend our time having fun together. I don’t mind changing my cooking habits while they are here (I’m not going to make them eat navy beans with chard, for example, or anything with tofu), but I can’t guarantee that what I cook will taste exactly like what they’re used to. When my children were young, my main rule at dinner time was, “If you don’t want to eat what’s on your plate, fine. Don’t talk about it. Don’t say Ew Yuck. Just ignore it. But this is what’s for dinner tonight.”

I have also been making a list of things we could do while the children are here, but the heatwave this past week (up to 107 on Thursday) has kind of thrown me for a loop. Of course, the heat makes water activities a lot more appealing, but it might dampen the enthusiasm for walking around the zoo or farm. We are fortunate to live in a college town, where there is a lot to do. Some of the activities going on in and around  town the next two weeks include:

  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a brief adaptation by two professional actors from Hamstead Stage Company, put on at the public library.
  • Fun-Tastic Classics with the Missouri Symphony, also at the public library.
  • This Land is Your Land” Family Concert at the Missouri Symphony
  • Kids Series, “World of Art: Found Objects” at the Museum of Art and Archeology
  • Fourth of July “Fire in the Sky” and Children’s Activities
  • Family Summer Camp at Bass Pro
  • Outdoor movies and concerts
  • Numerous parks, including a couple with splash parks

Only a short drive away, there are many farms we could visit, including Warm Springs Ranch, where 16 baby Clydesdale horses were born this year.

In Hannibal, Missouri, they will be celebrating the 57th Annual Tom Sawyer Days, complete with fence-painting contests, frog-jumping contests, a “Mighty Miss” raft face, concerts, and more.

And there is always bowling, fishing, swimming, picnicking, going to movies, going to the river, camping out, biking, hiking, caving, and so on, depending on how adventurous we feel.

On days when we want to stay home, my grandaughter has asked if I would teach her to sew, and we can come up with lots of other games and crafts and stories to fill the time.

We are also only two hours from either St. Louis or Kansas City, so we could take any number of day trips while the children are here to visit the zoo, Lego Land, the Steamboat Arabia Museum, Six Flags, the Botanical Garden, the Science Center, Grant’s Farm, or take a ride on the light rail train.

With all these things to do, I bet the grandchildren will hardly notice we don’t have a television or video games. What do you think? (I’ll let you know how that theory works out. Did I mention the children are 14, 12, and 8 years old?)

Urban Farm Hootenanny

Second Annual Hootnanny at the Urban Farm

What a lovely day we had yesterday, the first day of October, the kind of blue-sky day that reminds me that I need to get outside way more often. We started out at the farmers market, where we ran into many of our dancing friends, who were also out shopping for local or organic produce. I had been bemoaning the end of summer (no more corn on the cob, cantaloupe, tomatoes, peaches), but I have to admit that the fall crops (sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples) have their place, too, and I was happy to see lettuce and spinach back now that the days are cooler.

Next we drove to the city’s mulch site at Capen Park and ran into another friend, who was dropping off some tree trimmings. It was a busy place, with quite a few people dropping off yard waste of all kinds (brush, tree trimmings, rotted fire wood, and one truck load of watermelon rinds).  After we loaded up the truck with mulch, we also picked up a few tree limbs to take home and cut into firewood.

Then we went to the second annual urban farm hootenanny, where we enjoyed the bright sky and the sunshine,  listened to live music, visited with friends, checked out the silent auction items, admired the crops, and enjoyed some city-slicker bbq chicken, grilled sweet potatoes, grilled butternut squash, mixed greens, apple crisp, and wine, all from local producers. Days like this make me realize how blessed I am.