Catching Some Waves

It's a good thing this blog is called Normal Everyday Life because that's all I can think of to write about tonight. No humorous stories or mothering insights to share, just a fun day that I'll want to remember when summer has passed and school routines are underway. Today we went to a local wave pool/water park. Seven kids, three moms, a picnic lunch, and water slides make for a great summer afternoon.

At this pool, the water is calm for awhile and then every so often they start the waves. My girls were right there as close to the deep end as possible waiting for the waves to build and toss them about in their tubes!

These huge slides were another hit. The kids didn't hesitate to get started on those as soon as they got there!

Of course, all that swimming and running around wore them out. Lounging in their tubes eating snacks was the best way to regain energy for the next round!

It was fun to discover a new place so close to home. Water is always a hit in the heat and cooling off with friends is the best way to experience it! This was just the type of day we'll be longing for when routine and order enter our world again in a few weeks.

Mom's Top Ten Quotes

The other day, I had to think of something I say often, a quote I live by if you will. Of course my mind drew a total blank and I couldn't think of one thing I ever say that's noteworthy. So I asked the people closest to me, the ones that listen to me on a daily basis. Well, it didn't take my kids all of two seconds to start yelling out what they consider my favorite quotes. Here are some of them that sprang immediately off their lips. (Keep in mind that the 10 to 18 year old crowd is going for humor, not flattery!)

Mom's Top Ten Quotes According to the Kids

Your father's home. I say this when they come to me for the zillionth time ignoring the man related to them in the same room. Dad can do things, too, you know!

I need some peace and quiet. Many, many times a day.

You'll feel better in the morning. Sleep is apparently my cure for everything.

Is it 8 o'clock yet? Code for "isn't this day over yet, and will people never be in bed????"

You'll live, and/or You're fine. Unless it's a matter of survival, you're pretty much going to have to stick it out.

Back away from the food. Why are they like vultures circling their prey when I'm trying to prepare dinner?

Come on people. Will you never finish getting ready and get in the van????

I can't wait until Dad's home. Said by every mother since the beginning of time.

Tell me in three sentences or less. This applies to tattling and descriptions of movie plots. I don't need more than a quick summary of either one!

You just take care of that. Mom's had enough and you're going to have to handle that the best you can.

I really had to laugh as they shouted these out. It's true, I do say all of them...occasionally! :)

What would your kids say are your most famous quotes?

*This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Blueberry Picking

Have you ever done an activity with your kids where you wonder, is this even worth it? Is this worth the time, money, or effort I'm putting into it?

I had one of those experiences the other night. My dad had asked me if I wanted to meet him with the kids and pick blueberries after he got out of work. About 10 minutes before I left, he called and told me he was hitting traffic and wondered if I should reconsider. But I had three kids already prepared for what they considered the highlight of their day, so I said we'd come anyway. 

Well, the traffic added about 45 minutes to our trip. It was frustratingly slow to take that long to move four miles. Plus the kids were playing some game in the backseat that involved cheers, protests and arguing two feet from my ears. Not what you want to hear caught in traffic for 45 minutes...after your husband has been out of town for four the summer...when all the kids are home 24/7. Wow! Dark mood alert!

I must have wondered a million times if this was even worth the hassle for some blueberries. I was totally ready to stop by Sam's Club, buy a big bag of frozen blueberries and be done with it!

When we finally pulled into the field, one of my daughters yelled with pure delight, "There's Papa! I'm going to go kiss him to death! I just love him so much!" and raced out of the van. Right then and there, I knew it had been worth it.

My kids had a blast picking berries and they must have thanked me a dozen times for taking them. Even my 11 year old son declared he LOVED picking blueberries. Who would have thought?

Sure, I could have skipped blueberry picking that night. I was very close to throwing in the towel a few times, but I'm glad I didn't miss out on these smiles!

I ended up coming home with a big pail of fresh blueberries and three very happy kids. We won't choose rush hour to go picking next time, but we'll definitely make another trip to the blueberry patch with Papa again this summer!

Motivational Monday #99

Welcome to another Motivational Monday Link Party! I can't wait to see what you've been up to this week!

In case you're new here, each Monday we focus on inspirational posts, healthy recipes, crafts, and home decorating/organizing tips. Each category has its own link to make it easier for readers to find fabulous posts. Motivational Monday links with others, too. That way, each post will get more exposure.

Here are the featured posts from last week's party:


Barb of Life in Balance Picks
1. Get Paid To DIY | Army Wife to Suburban Life 2. Why I Don’t Teach My Kids Not to Talk to Strangers | From High Heels to Hotwheels

Mitzi of Written Reality
1. How To Make A Welcome Kit For A New Neighbor | The Domestic Life Stylist  2. Earl Grey Tea: Could It Lower Cholesterol Levels | Natasha In Oz

Lauren of The Vintage Mom

5. Growing Organic Garlic | Back 2 Basic Health 6. What I Learned from The Family Portrait | Some of the Best Things in Life are Mistakes

Toni of Tickles and Time Outs

7. Kale & Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe #PGeveryday | Upstate Ramblings 8. Growing to Love My Mismatched Furniture | Of the Hearth

Marie of Normal Everyday Life 9. Parenting Can Be Like a Bullet to the Heart | The Giles Frontier 10. How To Talk With Your Girl About Being A Girl | Thee Angel Project

Kate of Mom Favorites 11. GARDEN FRESH GUACAMOLE | A Girl in Paradise 12. #iPhoneography ~ Tips and Tricks for taking Better Smartphone Pictures | Natasha in OZ

Getting Away Without Kids

Aaah...vacation. Sit in the sun and relax. Go sightseeing at a leisurely pace. Enjoy wonderful meals out. Maybe not if you're taking the kids. I've written about the joys of family vacation here, but this post is about taking a trip alone, just me and my husband.

Last summer, it worked out that every one of our kids was at a summer camp the same week. We decided to not let this glorious circumstance pass unnoticed and took a vacation to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Here we are in Montreal, footloose and fancy free!

We're going to get away again in a few weeks! We'll already be in the Northeast dropping three children off at camp, so we're going to travel on to Boston and then Portland, Maine. Honestly, it wouldn't matter where we were going because everything is a treat when you get to spend time as a couple.

Four Benefits to Vacationing Alone

Time to Reconnect: I love our family life and I love our kids, but someday it will be just me and Steve again. I want to be able to look forward to that day with happy anticipation. Getting away from home and family responsibilities allows us to see each other at our best again. It gives us the time to focus on and rediscover that person living in the same house we do!

Choose the Destination: A lot of the places that interest me do not interest my kids. When they go on vacation, they want the beach or an amusement park. They're looking for entertainment, not relaxation. When we're by ourselves, we set the agenda without guilt and can do things the kids would consider completely boring.

My kids would not be awed by this pretty city view!

Feel Younger: Remove me from parenting responsibilities and I feel ten years younger! It's an amazing feeling to only have to think about yourself for a little while. All of sudden, I'm not a suburban mother of five...I'm young and hip!

Eat What You Want As Long As You Want: Mealtimes become a special event. There are no chicken fingers, french fries, or hotdogs on the menu. If we want appetizers and desserts, no problem! We can linger at the table and finish whole conversations uninterrupted.

I fell in love with this fruit and cheese appetizer in Montreal.

The first time we got away by ourselves after we had kids was when my oldest was a year old. It was hard to leave her even though it was just for one night. In fact, the only reason we went was because of positive peer pressure! Friends that were further along in the parenting process planned it and insisted it would be good for us. You know what? They were right! Since then we've tried to take little weekend trips away once every year or two. Last summer was the first time we planned a whole week!

Always, without fail, I dread any trip we take alone right up until we leave. It's hard to plan childcare and I worry about what might happen when I'm gone. There are so many little things that fill my mind and I hate saying goodbye to my children. Truth be told, I'm kind of a mess! But also always, without fail, I start to relax when we're on our way and end up having a great time!

Your turn. Have you gotten away without the kids? Was it wonderful? Did you need some friendly peer pressure to take the plunge, too?

Got Zucchini?

It's summer and the zucchini is ripe and ready! I don't have a garden, but I've been getting some fresh zucchini from my parents and my mother-in-law. Maybe you've been getting some from a gardening relative or friend, too. If you're like me, and end up with more than you can eat in its natural state, then you might consider making some delicious zucchini bread.

Today I'm going to share the Betty Crocker recipe I've been using to make zucchini bread for almost 20 years! I'll include a link to this recipe at the end of my post, but first I'd like to share a few changes to make the bread more healthy and moist.

If you've never made zucchini bread, you may not realize how simple it is to get the zucchini ready to use. Begin by washing and drying the outside of your zucchini. Then, cut the tips off either end and shred the rest into a bowl using an ordinary cheese grater. This recipe requires three cups of zucchini and makes two loaves.

Because I like to make four loaves at a time, I grate six cups of zucchini. If I have any extra, I put 3 cup amounts of grated zucchini in quart sized ziploc bags and store them in the freezer. Before using, I thaw these out for a day or two, draining the thawed zucchini in a colander before I put it in the batter.

A few tips to make the bread more healthy:

1. Use applesauce instead of vegetable oil. The Betty Crocker recipe calls for 2/3 cup vegetable oil, but I always use applesauce instead.

2. Use whole wheat flour. The recipe calls for 3 cups all-purpose or wheat flour. Definitely go with the whole wheat if you're looking to make this a healthier bread.

3. If you'd like to avoid cooking with eggs, you can substitute 1 Tbsp soy flour plus 1 Tbsp water for each egg.

4. Feel free to leave out the nuts and raisins. This recipe calls for chopped nuts and raisins, but my kids don't like them.

And one tip to make it more tasty!

4. Add one cup chocolate chips. This won't make the bread more healthy, but it will make it a sweeter treat! My son loves the bread this way and eats it up quickly!

The full Betty Crocker recipe can be found here.

I hope you'll be enjoying some of this fantastic bread soon!

Linking to Turn It Up Tuesday  Wake Up Wednesday  Thursday Favorite Things  Shine Blog Hop  Be.You.Tiful link party  Show-Licious Craft and Recipe  Strut Your Stuff  Saturday