...because we all have our motley moments!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Be the Blessing

At the MOPS conference last weekend I happened by a vendor booth with a huge sign that said, "Be the Blessing." A couple came up with the idea to manufacture t-shirts and jewelry to remind people to help each other and "be the blessing" for those in need. I bought a bracelet from them with the logo written across it, and it has given me much to think about since.

I cooked lunch today using our George Foreman grill, and I watched in awe as the twin grills cooked my chicken from frozen to fantastic in just minutes. And then I thought about the people my sister in law works with in Pittsburgh who have to cook using candles or cigarette lighters.

Our son is celebrating his 3rd birthday today, and the floor of our living room looks like a toy store exploded there. I'm so happy to see him having a great day, but I do think about the children in the video at the conference who are living in third world countries and can literally be supported with just $38 a month. It's amazing that their needs can be met with so little when I know I throw away at least that on frivolous things every month. I wonder who spoils them on their birthdays?

So, I'm looking at my bracelet often now, and with every look I wonder what I could do to bless someone else today. Let's be honest--it's not always obvious! Have you dealt a random act of kindness lately? Has someone done something amazing for you? I want to hear about it today--don't be shy! Your comment could "be the blessing" for somebody else!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Being Lucy

I was very lucky to grow up with four wonderful Grandparents. I have so many great memories of spending time with them as a child and adult that watching them leave this earth has been some of the most difficult times of my life. Lately, I have been thinking about my mom's mom a lot. Her name was Lucile McMahon, and she survived the Great Depression. My grandparents lived on a self-sustainable farm way before that was en vogue or even defined. Each summer we would spend one Saturday freezing corn and one Saturday cleaning chickens. I could tell you horror stories about the cleaning chickens, but I will spare you. Let's just say my family learned early on that I was better suited for the inside work on those days. And in case you were wondering, chickens really do run around after their heads have been chopped off. We found it best to hang them on a close line, but I digress.

My grandparents also had peach trees and a grape vineyard, so grandma would do a lot of canning and she would always make jelly. I loved picking the grapes and helping with the jelly. Nothing in the world smells as good as concord grapes cooking up into juice.

A few weekends ago, our family took a day trip to this historic town not too far from us. We wandered around the historic homes and state park, then we made our way to the town's winery. I really don't like too many wines, but it is fun to try a sample or two. When I walked into the winery, I smelled that smell, instantly recognizable from my past - concord grapes cooking. Even better, I found some concord grapes for sale! I know I keep emphasizing the concord variety, but it does matter. This farm girl would not consider using any other grapes for jelly. I am sure someone out there has, but it sounds crazy to me.

The box of grapes looked pretty small, too small to make a batch of jelly, so I had to ask if they were good for eating. These grapes were so valuable to my family that apparently we weren't allowed to eat any. All grapes were used for juice or jelly. Yes, I could eat them, and they were great, but I just had to try to make some jelly even if it were only a small batch.

Typically, my family uses Sure Jell in all of their jellies, but I did not have any on hand, and I didn't have the spare $1.86 in my budget (Dave Ramsey) until the next payday. So, I did what my grandma would do. I improvised. Fortunately, I have one tool she didn't - the Internet. After much searching, I found a recipe at epicurean.com that didn't require the Sure Jell.

With much excitement, I cooked the grapes. After they cooled, Alex and I ran them through the food mill. Then I cooked the juice and sugar until it jelled. The smell was heavenly. I wish our computers had smell-o-vision so I could share it with you. I eagerly toasted a piece of bread to see if the recipe worked, and it did! It made two beautiful pint jars of jelly, which was perfect because I only had two jars on hand too!

So, this weekend, we traveled back down to the winery to buy more grapes. I have decided to make the jelly for Christmas gifts, and I will be using Sure Jell in this batch. It really shortens your cooking time and gives more consistent results. I have also budgeted for some cute little jelly jars for the gifts. I love thinking about my Grandma while making the jelly, and I am so lucky to have learned so much from her. Some of the things she taught me, but many of them, my mom taught me because of her. It is a great legacy.

Now, since I have 16 pounds of grapes in my refrigerator, I should really get started. The grapes won't cook themselves!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cuter than when I dropped him off

Last week I went "back to work" (if you can call working one day a week "back to work") I am tutoring at a Home School Co-op. I am tutoring Alg. 1, Alg. 2, and Advanced Math. It is the perfect job for me right now. I only work 4.5 hours a week. I get to teach math and there is FREE daycare for my son. It all sounded so great to me until I had to drop off my Little King at the daycare.

The daycare is great. The people who run are good. That was not the problem. I was the problem. I did not want to leave my son for 4.5 hours. I had never left him with anyone for that long. As I drove closer and closer to work the more and more I got nervous, and sad. But I sucked it up and went to the nursery and dropped him off. He waved and said "bub-bye" to me as I walked out the door. I walked quickly to my room to set up for the first class (can you call 9 students a class?) I didn't look back, I knew if I did I would be right back in the nursery! So, I started to teach. Time went by pretty quickly as I got back into my teacher role. But, I was SO SO SO SO SO excited to go and pick up my Little King at the end of my teaching time. When I entered the nursery, I couldn't believe it. I don't know how it happened but...

My son had, some how, gotten cuter in the last 4.5 hours. I didn't think that was possible, but he was so ADORABLE! I just wanted to eat him up, kiss and snuggle him! So, I did! And he loved it!

When I told my friend, Joy this story she said: "I know what you mean, coming home to my kids is like coming home to a present every day! I am always so excited to see them!"

It is totally true what they say: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"It's Deductible!"

I've been sick for over a week now, which means my house has been falling apart for at least that long. I still don't feel well, but have decided today is the day to suck it up, pull my hair back, and get some chores done!

I've already itemized our donations over at "It's Deductible" (a service of Turbo Tax online) this morning, so I can finally drop off these garbage bags full of donations to the Care Center. We never have yard sales anymore. Mostly because I'm too lazy, but also because most of the stuff we get rid of can benefit someone in need (lots of kids stuff and household goods, and LOTS of adult clothing) and we get a tax deduction. Another issue I have with yard sales is where to store it all until I have enough to warrant holding a sale. I'd much rather itemize my stuff on "It's Deductible" as I weed it out than price it for a yard sale and have to deal with the headaches involved in that. Their site has almost every item categorized with low, medium and high quality values already assigned, so at the end of the year, we know exactly how much we've donated. It's great!

I'm off to deliver these goods (and get them the heck out of my dining room...finally!).

What do you do with your cast-offs?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vindication at the Pediatrician's Office

I seriously feel like I live at the pediatrician's office. There was a period of 7 weeks last winter that we were in there once a week. Micah had a cough, Ethan had an ear infection, then pinkeye, Micah needed shots, etc., etc. I worry sometimes that the office staff or even the doctor is going to think I'm paranoid. I really don't think I am, though. Well, maybe once. When Ethan was 3 months old he threw up twice in a row so I took him to see the pediatrician. That one time the doctor seemed a little irritated, but not since. They really are very nice. Anyway, 3 weeks ago I had to go back. Ethan had this crust on his scalp that had been there several months. I thought it was dandruff, so we switched shampoo and then went to using Head & Shoulders all the time, but nothing worked. I still thought maybe it was just dry scalp or something, but it had been so long I thought I'd better call the doctor. While we were in the waiting room, Micah was looking at the fish and I saw the same crust on his scalp. Uh-oh. The doctor's diagnosis for both kids? Ringworm. I know - disgusting, right? It's not actually a worm, it's a fungal infection. I think I would rather it be a worm because it takes a long time to get rid of fungal infections. 40 days of pills twice a day for both kids. Fortunately, we've been able to crush it up and put it in their milk and they don't notice. Anyway, about 2 weeks after the ringworm visit, Ethan came down with a fever and started crying about his ear hurting. I hated going back so quickly, especially since when I called the receptionist knew who I was and said good-naturedly, "Were y'all just in here?" I said, "Yeah, I feel like we live there," so she would know (hopefully) that I'm not crazy and I think these visits seem excessive, as well. Her response was, "Ah, the joys of having 2 kids." Ethan's ear was very infected; so bad, in fact, that the doctor could barely see his eardrum. We left with lollipops, a prescription for antibiotics, and a sigh of relief for Mommy. See, I wanted to announce to the waiting room? I'm not crazy! My kid is really sick!
I don't know why I feel like I'm putting the doctor out by taking my kid to see him. I mean, that's what he's there for - to treat sick kids. I can't expect myself to take care of every medical problem. I can deal with a 24-hour bug, a cold, or minor cuts and scrapes. But I can't see inside their ears, nor can I diagnose ringworm. I didn't go to medical school, for crying out loud! Is this just part of the "supermommy" disease? Or is it my southern upbringing - be a quiet "lady" and don't bother anyone? What IS that? I'm still taking my kids to the doctor for scalp crust and ear pain, though, no matter how often I have to go to that germy place.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Farewell For Now

Hi everybody! Just wanted to post to let you know that I am taking a little break from Motley Moms.

It's been fun posting my thoughts and such and I LOVE reading everyone's submissions daily.

Y'all are a great group of ladies and I have considered myself fortunate to be counted amongst you literary smarties. Thank you Donna for making this forum possible. You are not only a big dreamer, but a big doer too!

Take care and I love you all!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Time out--Sub!!!

So, last Tuesday I went to a weight lifting exercise class and we did a new routine to work on our shoulders. As I lifted I could tell that something wasn't right, and the immediate pain at the base of my neck and upper back told me I had done something very wrong. I ran my errands and picked up our son at preschool as usual, and then I went home to recuperate. Well, as much as a mom can recuperate in the presence of a preschooler.

I remember the days when I was teaching and I would need to stay home for the day because of a virus or I would need to leave before the day finished for an appointment, and all I had to do was call in a substitute. Sure, I had to get the plans ready, but someone was there to watch the students and help them if they needed it. Aaaaah, what a great idea the substitute...

Well, when we returned home after my little injury, I realized with despair that there was no substitute to call. There are no subs for mommies. My husband did come home early as I couldn't even turn my head much less change a diaper or, even more difficult and necessary, move our son out of harm's way if the need arose. But even with his presence which was extremely appreciated, my "job" wasn't done. Our son still wanted to play, chores still waited to be done, my blog article of the day sat unwritten (sorry about that!)... There are so many things we do in a day as moms that aren't obvious until they aren't done.

So here's to you and all you do, Motley Mommies--you are appreciated, and there is no one in the world like you! Have a great day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why I Will NOT be posting a Deep, Inspired, or Thought-Provoking Blog Today

10. I was up way too late last night watching Doogie Houser, I mean, Neil Patrick Harris host the Emmy’s.

9. After reading Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (Thanks, Lindsay!!), I am now on a limited cash based budget. I spent several hours today buying groceries, cleaning out refrigerator to make room for the groceries, and putting up the groceries.

8. My adorable, energetic ADD and SPD child is having a tough transition to our new home, town, and preschool. We currently have no effective way to discipline or motivate him. Redirecting, reasoning, bribing, threatening, bargaining, begging, and pleading are not working! 1-2-3 Magic is no longer magical, and my mom’s bag of tricks is empty.

7. Due to the stress of #8, I have been baking and eating everything imaginable: grape jelly, homemade rolls, pumpkin muffins and chocolate chip cookies.

6. After eating all of the baked goods from #7, I have now had to add 45 minutes of exercise to my daily routine so that my “fat pants” will still fit!

5. On Labor Day weekend, I fell off of a donkey. There is a video, but I cannot post it as I have sent it in to America’s Funniest Home Videos.

4. Last Thursday, I went with Alex on his preschool field trip. The trip included a lovely two-hour, round-trip school bus ride with 20 preschoolers to a pumpkin patch fully equipped with outdoor port-a-potties. For added fun, we played in a corn-filled pit and took a wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch.

3. Due to the combined effects of #5 and #4, on Friday, I spent the whole day on the couch. I couldn’t even crawl to the computer.

2. Over the weekend, I spent much time trying to make Facebook lists so I could email all of my friends and ask them to sponsor me in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure I am walking with my sister-in-law, only to find that Facebook emails can only add lists with 20 names or less at one time. Many of you have already sponsored us, but if you would like to sponsor either me, Alex or Charlie, you can click here: Louisville's Race for the Cure.

1. My highly reliable and always there for me, cable, phone and internet combo were out all afternoon. Seriously, CBS has all new episodes of How I Met Your Mother, CSI Miami, and Big Bang Theory - our new favorite. Do they want me to have a heart-attack?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Deep Facebook Thoughts...by Donna

The more I get into Facebook (FB), the harder it is to write an actual paragraph. You kinda get addicted to the one-liner status updates. Those whose FB status I love to read are the ones who write a funny, but very telling one liner. Liz is awesome at it. She's funny and serious at the same time. "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope." Her FB friends know she's having potty training issues right now. Well...her son is. Or Rachel's "Don't, don't, don't bite your friends." --Yo Gabba Gabba." Or my friend Ticia's status the other day, which was longer, but cracked me up: "...so some people selling cable just knocked on my door and asked "if my mom was here".."uh no".."how about my dad".."nope not here either"..could I tell them that they came by.."why sure I can!" Ha! Ha! Ha!" I think Ticia has like four kids now.

Some people use FB to rant about their politics or other gripes. It's easy to ignore them because they always write WAY more than one line.

Since we're on the subject of Facebook, does anyone else have pity FB "friends?" Someone you know, but who you wouldn't normally see or talk to about personal problems, but they friended you on FB and you can't ignore them because they're friends with someone in your family? Hypothetically speaking, of course. It's a little weird. Especially if they've known you in a more professional context in the past and now they see your status updates about all the wine you drank last night or how badly your "bike parts" hurt, or that you're hobbling around like a little old woman...not necessarily things I would walk around town saying to casual acquaintances.

Is anyone else glad that FB "poking" is pretty much done? Maybe it's not, but I'm discriminating enough not to "friend" anyone who would do something so pointless. Has anyone received an invitation to a FB "pillow fight?" One word..."WHY?"

Anyway, I find Facebook enthralling, like a weird ongoing science/social experiment. People of all ages are using it now and does anyone even remember the name of that other social networking site anymore? Does it even exist anymore? If you're not on FB, you should give it a try. It's fascinating!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Life and Death

Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Patrick Swayze. The older I get, the more I recognize celebrities who die. For a long, long time it was just River Phoenix and Kurt Cobain. Everyone else who died was old when I was a kid, so it didn't affect me much. But the deluge of celebrity deaths this summer has really made me sad. It also gives me the creeps. I start thinking ridiculous things, like, "Are these the end times? Are these people being punished for their misdeeds? What did Patrick Swayze ever do to anyone?" And then I think about my own life.
I had a rough year once. In April 2007, my cat died. Then my mentor teacher died. Then my mother-in-law was in a serious accident that left her bedridden for 3 months. During that time, my father-in-law succumbed to lung cancer. 7 months later, my father died suddenly of a heart attack. This past summer, in addition to the celebrities, 4 people I knew (or at least knew of - their loved ones are my loved ones) died. It's not the end of the world (as we know it and I feel fine) or punishment or anything else. It's just life. Life ultimately ends in death. The Bible talks about death a lot. Psalm 116:15 is a verse that has both angered and comforted me when I've lost loved ones. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." It's funny that it took the deaths of these celebrities this summer to make me start thinking about my own mortality. Because it's not that something new is wrong with the world. It's that I'm at the age now where famous people I grew up with are dying. Some of my friends' parents are dying. It's just another stage of life, which means I'm getting older and closer to my own demise. I'm not going to lie - even though I know I'll go to Heaven, the thought of death freaks me out. But my point is not to dwell on mortality or to be especially morbid. My point is that I've realized that my "bad year" was just life being life. It was nothing special and it certainly wasn't unique to the human condition. Because honestly, I've had other "bad years." There was the year my grandfather died, my parents divorced, and my house flooded. And the year when I was 4 and my parents and I all had the flu at Christmas and we were really far away from our family and I had a kidney infection and and and. You see what I mean? I could get really morbid and pessimistic if I thought about this stuff too much. Jesus told us it would be hard. It should come as no surprise when life is hard. In fact, John 16:33 says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." It's the last part of this verse I'm going to focus on. He's overcome the world. And I am truly blessed.

God's Peace

When I hear a prayer request, I typically pray for God's peace to surround that person. I can think of no other better prayer because that is the ultimate for me. With God's peace, any outcome is OK for that person.

Last week, I got a chance to experience God's peace in my life.

It all started with an innocent homework assignment for my 2nd grader. A family tree. Now, this may be a simple project for some families because their ancestors are recorded going eons back, but for me it has always been a little harder. My parents and grandparents had it really tough growing up. Poverty and tragedy abounded. Both my parents had been basically orphaned at an early age because of their mother dying and both their fathers then left the children to fend for themselves. Family members took the kids in, but they were all separated into different homes. I can't imagine the sadness.

The good news for me is that my parents came out of it as survivors and were determined to give me a better life than they had. They succeeded. One way they protected me from the past was to not talk much about family history. They always told me to not worry about the past and to concentrate on the future. So I did.

Last week, I called my aunt and asked her to help me fill out the family tree. That was when she mentioned that she knew something about my family that she didn't feel she could tell me about. I was like, "What?!? Your kidding right?". It involved my parents and apparently my parents agreed not to tell me about it for whatever reason.

After I made sure that it wasn't about me being adopted or anything, I tried to pry it out of her. She wouldn't budge. It drove me absolutely crazy for 2 days. What could it be? This would be the answer to all of my childhood questions - or so I thought.

Then, God's peace intervened. I completely stopped obsessing about it. Either my parents had trained me well to not think about the past, or God's peace surrounded me. I think a little of both but mostly the latter.

I believe God has helped me to see a couple of things. Firstly, my parents always had my best interest at heart. If they didn't think I needed to know, then I trust that they had good reason for it. Secondly, I am exactly where I need to be right now in my life and opening a can of worms will probably not benefit me in the least. Thirdly, I know God knows what it is and if He decides to let me in on it without me badgering everybody in my family, the it'll be OK. There are some questions in life that can be left unanswered or answered in His time.

At church last Sunday, the sermon confirmed my third observation. Just like I trust that my parents knew what was best for me, I believe God does too.

Is God's peace enough for me or do I want to have "knowledge" and be like God? Remember in the book of Genesis when God told Adam and Eve that they could eat from any tree except the Tree of Life and they ended up eating the apple from that tree because they wanted to know everything like God does?

My family secret (it's not much of a secret anymore, huh?) is like that apple. It looks juicy and full of knowledge and like the key to my childhood, but if I touch it and eat from it, my eyes will be open in a way that will taint some of the beautiful memories that I have of my past.

Will I change my mind someday about finding out? Maybe. Who knows? For now, this is how I read into this situation.

One day, if you also trust Christ with your eternity, we will be in Heaven and God will answer all of our questions. He will wipe every tear. He will rejoice with us and we will live an eternity full of truth and goodness.

No more family secrets.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

I LOVE to bake, and since Alex was little, I would let him help me in the kitchen. He is getting better at pouring and stirring, and I am getting better at living with the mess. Alex can even crack an egg all by himself now! Sure, we have dropped an egg or two along the way, wiped egg all over his shirt and mine, and baked some cupcakes with egg shells, but that is all behind us.

Here is one of my favorite cookie recipes. It is simple with only 4 ingredients, and very kid friendly. I would love to take credit for it, but it is actually Paula Deen's Magical Peanut Butter Cookies. I also like this recipe because for a cookie, it is healthy. Well, it is at least justifiable.

For each batch, you will need:
1 cup of peanut butter
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Since I am high maintenance and like to personalize my recipes, I have started adding a pinch of salt. After you mix all ingredients in no particular order, you roll the cookies into small balls and then roll cookie balls in sugar. Then place on an ungreased cookie sheet and squash them with a fork. OR, my personal favorite, roll them into balls, place them on a cookie sheet and squash them with a Hershey's Kiss. You are supposed to preheat the oven to 350, which I always forget. The cookies need to bake for about 12 minutes. I let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to firm up before I remove them.

The biggest obstacle in this recipe is not allowing your small child to eat the dough, on account of the raw egg. I finally gave up after Alex had eaten about four or five small raw cookie balls. It didn't hurt me growing up, so I hope he will be OK too. You have to pick your battles, right?

Did I mention that the cookies (both baked and unbaked) taste great too?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

TOYS: To Play Or Not To Play...

My son has MANY toys... sometimes too many.

He has some REALLY REALLY nice toys. So nice that I don't want him to play with them because I don't want him to ruin them or lose pieces.

When he got these toys as gifts I was like:
"Oh, look at this great toy... wont that be so fun to play with?..... No- don't touch it!"

I know that it defeats the purpose of the toy to have it and NOT play with it... but I can't help it that I want to keep them nice. It is not like I NEVER want him to play with it... just not until he is old enough to respect the toy! (which will probably be too old to enjoy playing with it. )

I am not too worried about it right now since I can easily distract him with an empty 2 liter bottle. He can bang on that thing all day! Why is that kids like to play with containers (AKA garbage) more than other toys?

So, for now I will keep all his cute puzzles, and nicely crafted toys on the top shelf and leave the empty 2-liter bottles and boxes on the bottom shelf!

How do you handle toys in your house?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Random Ramblings and Falling IQ's

I used to be eloquent. I could remember exactly what I wanted to say, even in the middle of saying it. I could speak intelligently, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. People understood me. I remembered dates, times, names, and faces with no problem. I could make a phone call and remember who I called, even after several rings.

Now, I have to glance at my phone screen to see whose number I dialed. Sometimes even after they have answered. WHAT is that?!

I make plans, immediately forget to write it on my calendar, and then recall the check I wrote for an event I should be at right now. Surprise!

I garble my words, especially when I'm tired. No one can understand me. Not even me. And then I forget what I was trying to say in the middle of saying it.

I can NEVER think of the word I want. It stays cemented to the tip of my brain, taunting me with the knowledge of its existence and my inability to deliver it.

Now I just go on and on about random things like Quakers and furniture and lack of sufficient discipline all in one speech that should be about, I don't know, say "summer vacation." And it doesn't even occur to me that it's unusual until I realize people are jokingly referring to my propensity for winding speeches involving Quakers, removal of furniture, and discipline. Hm.

Who is this person? Is motherhood to blame? Has my IQ actually dropped because of it? WHAT is going on?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Bad Mom Story

You want to really know how bad of a mother I am? Well, I'll tell you. My son has been potty trained since early June. He would have the occasional pee accident, but nothing major. Then, 2 weeks ago, he started pooping in his pants again. Every day, sometimes multiple times. But, he only did it at home. We were at Target, way in the back of the store and he told me he needed to poop, so we walked all the way to the bathroom at the front of the store, took care of business, no problem. My husband and I discussed it to death and decided he was nervous about school starting. Makes sense, right? Well, school started and the pooping continued, but not at school, just at home. I read all I could find on the subject. Some kids have encopresis, which is the inability to feel when a poop is coming. Ethan does not have this, as evidenced by the trip to Target. Some kids are constipated and won't poop because it hurts coming out. Not my kid - you could set a train schedule to his bowel movements. He's not sick, he doesn't have diarrhea, school started just fine, my husband and I aren't getting a divorce or bringing home a new baby, so I don't get it. Well, I think I do get it. I think he's doing it on purpose. And this is where I have issues. The pop-psychology default is, "Don't punish for potty accidents." I agree. I remember wetting my bed as a child and being spanked for it and how helpless I felt. But my son is not helpless. To further prove this to you, let me tell you about this weekend. On Friday after he had his daily bowel movement in his underwear, I had had it. I mean, I seriously HAD HAD IT. I asked him why he pooped in his pants and he said, "Because I want to." So I told him, "If you keep pooping in your pants, you cannot go back to school." It's true, in a way. They are required to be potty trained to go into the 3-year-old class. I told my mother-in-law about this and Friday night after we all gathered at the beach for the weekend she took him aside and told him she was very sad about his choice and that she didn't want to have to call the preschool director, whom she is friends with, and tell her he couldn't go to school anymore.
I know this sounds terrible, but it worked. He didn't have any "on purposes" all weekend. He used the potty and we praised him for being a big boy and he went to school all week and stayed clean and dry and then about an hour ago, he pooped and peed in his pants again.
I am at the end of my rope. Again when I asked why he did it, he said, "Because I want to."
Do you see what I'm up against? Judge me if you will, but I'm convinced he's doing it on purpose. It's a power struggle. And I'm tired of throwing away underwear!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to cook

Who taught you how to cook?

Your Mom? Your Granny? Yourself?

I really find it fascinating when I cook something from scratch. It's amazing how several ingredients can come together to form something delicious to eat!

Through the years, I have learned a lot of my cooking via trial and error. It's a great teacher. I've thrown away many a meal because it just came out yucky.

I also like to learn new techniques for doing the most mundane cooking. I came across this little part of the AllRecipes.com site where it shows you "How To..." whatever.

If you ever wondered about the proper way to make scrambled eggs, then here you go!


I love my kitchen gadgets and I love tips for making great food.


Oh, by the way, happy 09/09/09 day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Healthy Eating Game

So...how do your kids eat? Do they love healthy food, or do they barely recognize it? My little guy loves fruit, but he isn't very partial to veggies. This summer I took him to my great aunt's garden and let him "harvest" some squash and zucchini hoping that he would take some ownership in the growing process and want to eat what he picked. He definitely took ownership--to this day he points to squash and zucchini and says, "I picked that for you!" Unfortunately his next words are always, "YOU eat it. That's yucky."

Did my husband and I do this? I don't think so. We are both adventurous eaters and there is a strict no-criticizing-food rule in our household. Regardless, it's not who is at fault that matters, it's what to do now. How do we get the little guy to eat a healthier diet?

I am a magazine junkie, and in the October issue of Parents Magazine there is an interesting article about Dr. Brian Wansink's ideas on that topic. You may have already read this, but if not, here are some points that piqued my interests in particular:

1. Dr. Wansink puts a lot of stock into the presentation of food and drinks. He serves water in huge glasses and juices in tall, thin ones. The idea with the water is that we drink more of what we have in ample supply. The juice in the tall, thin glass appears to be larger than a short glass, and though there is less juice in the tall glass it is visually more satisfying.

2. On that same note, he serves desserts, sweets, and snacks in small, cute bowls. He fills them to the top, and visually it looks like the kids are getting a big serving.

3. He uses funny names for common foods, like "X-Ray Vision Carrots," "Power Peas," and "Dinosaur Trees (Broccoli)." He claims that in his studies kids ate twice the amount of veggies when they had funny names.

4. More color matters. Just like in a study where kids ate more M&M's if they were in assorted colors, kids also eat more veggies in assorted colors, eg. assorted peppers instead of only green ones.

So, what do you think? Do you have any ideas for encouraging a healthy diet in your home? What do you think of Wansink's ideas? I would love to hear from you!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Love at First Sight

In 2005, over Labor Day weekend, we made the four-day journey to Astrakhan Russia to meet our child. We drove to Chicago on Thursday night, and flew out Friday morning. Our twelve hour flight spanned nine time zones, so sometime late Saturday, we arrived in Moscow. We met the other American couple (the Ribeiros) who were also adopting with our agency and had dinner with them in our fabulous luxury hotel. On Sunday, we, the Ribeiros, and a plane full of burly suitcase-wrapping, gun-carrying, vodka-drinking hunters, flew to Astrakhan, Russia. You must understand that they carried both the guns and the liquor on to the plane! Per our translator, Astrakhan is known for its hunting and fishing. It is on the Volga River Delta that opens to the Caspian Sea. We landed in what looked like a war-torn, third world country. It looked like Fantasy Island without the Fantasy. I remember about 12 ferrel kittens running all around the open-air waiting area of the old, dirty airport. Shell-shocked doesn't quite describe how I was feeling. The stress of our impending referral was weighing heavily on me.

Our family video from Monday morning before we met our child is hilarious! I had just fallen out of the phone-booth sized shower and twisted my ankle. I was a nervous wreck. Our week in Astrakhan was truly a roller coaster of emotions. We had to visit six or seven different Russian physicians to prove we were healthy enough to adopt, and we were in a very remote region where English was rarely spoken. Above all, I had to answer the deepest fear in my heart: Could I love a child that someone else gave birth to just like I would love a child I had given birth to?

I never really believed in love at first sight until I saw this picture. This is Alex's referral picture. We saw it for the first time on September 5, 2005. They told us his name, how old he was, and then asked if we wanted to adopt him.

We then travelled to the orphanage to meet our child. The staff brought in a little boy, but they didn't say whose baby he was. I remember feeling so guilty that I couldn't even recognize my own child, who was now a year old from his infant photo. The first baby was for the Ribeiros, so we waited some more. Those few minutes seemed like years. Finally, they brought me a smiling baby boy. We each held him for a few minutes and then he began to softly cry. As Charlie quickly quit video-taping this precious memory, translators and social workers flocked to my side to help comfort this sweet boy.

We got to visit Alex every day and get to know him more, and we ran errands necessary to completing our adoption. One day, our translator had Driver drop us off at Sans Pizza. They served American style pizza with or without fried eggs. For dessert, we had the best cappuccinos. Later that week, I met a super sweet girl at the film store in the mall. I practiced the question over and over and then put away my dictionary. I asked the question correctly, "When will the film be ready?" I just didn't study what her possible answers would be. When she answered me, I had no idea what she said. I also met another nice girl at a kiosk in the middle of the mall. She was studying English, and I was studying Russian. We talked a bit, and she gave me a pencil. At the end of the week, we had a wonderful tour of the city's Kremlin followed by dinner at a trendy coffee house. I ordered blini (thin pancakes) with cream and berries, and it was delicious! Best yet, we had a very real chance to be parents, pending our court date in October.

Leaving Alex for six weeks while we waited for court was difficult, but it was part of the process, so it was accepted. During that time, his birth mother would be asked to again resend her rights as his parent. She could change her mind, but it would be very difficult for her to regain custody of him and highly unlikely that she would pursue that option. We left Russia exhausted and emotionally drained, eager to return as soon as possible. The Ribeiros were no longer strangers but friends for life, and for the first time in many years, we had the hope of becoming parents.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

One Less Kid

We only have two, but sending KID 1 off to Kindergarten has really given me a LOT more time and energy to get stuff done around here. It's amazing what a difference one less kid makes when it comes to home projects! My house is cleaner, more organized, and more "put together" than ever before. I feel like I have a little more time to spend making things work better around here. I'm cleaning out closets, getting rid of excess stuff, planning our menus for the week, and creating "systems" for managing the household. Holy crap! It's like a whole new woman is emerging from the tired, stressed out, weight-gaining, unmotivated, unhealthy old me. And I didn't even realize things had gotten so bad until I could compare the "old me" to the "new me." I just thought I was lazy for the last five years. Wow! I feel so much lighter. 52.5 lbs lighter, in fact.

I guess I had just gotten into a rut. Mostly due to the fact that there are only a limited number of hours in the day, much of them taken up by our two preschoolers. And as you know, staying home with preschoolers is HARD WORK! While I didn't have to change his diapers anymore, or even change wet sheets, or get him dressed, or feed him, our five-year-old required so much of my time and energy to train him, love him, and entertain him. Now that he's spending most of his learning time at school, I feel like I can just relax and have fun with him when he's at home.

I'm able to focus more attention on our little one now, who loves having Mommy all to herself. She started preschool this week, so now I have two mornings a week to work out, do some writing, get my hair cut, go shopping, schedule appointments, or relax, all without having to juggle two kids simultaneously. When I went for my yearly this spring, both kids were with me and they both decided to wear their cowboy boots and hats. "Brought my posse, Doc," I quipped to the doctor as she bustled in to find two cowhands climbing on her stool. It will be so nice to walk into the ob/gyn exam room ALONE!

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my kids. We have fun together. I didn't even realize how depleted I was until I got some time back for myself. This is the first time I have had daylight hours to myself in over FIVE YEARS! It's great, but I also wouldn't trade these past five years for all the tea in China. I've just entered a new "phase" of mothering, and I have to say, it's fabulous! Like Karly, I didn't shed a single tear when we delivered our little Kindergartner to his teacher on the first day of school. I was ready for the change and so was he.

"Have a great day at school, honey!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nostalgia Revisited

I've probably said this before (I'm getting to the age where I tell the same story over and over again), but the best advice I received whilst I was pregnant was my friend telling me that she never listened to people when they said, "Oh, wait till the terrible twos!" or, "Wait till he's a teenager!" She decided to enjoy her son at every age, whether he be an infant, 2, 15, or 40.
I've thought about that a lot lately, especially as people have been sending their kids off to school, some for the first time this year. I know that some mothers get very sad about their kids growing up and I might feel differently when my kids are older, but right now I think it's just neat. I loved it when they were tiny babies - their teeny little toes and sweet coos and cuddling them all the time. But let's not forget the spit-up and sleepless nights. More than being glad I don't have to deal with some of the infant stuff, though, I am really enjoying the ages my boys are right now.
Micah is 19 months and he is a riot! Tonight he was dancing and snapping his fingers and I swear he learns a new word every day. Plus, he's trying to potty train. I kid you not - he has watched his brother so much that he tries to go potty and has actually been successful on 2 occasions.
Ethan is 3. My MIL calls 3 a "magical age." I'm not one to be that sappy, but I get what she's saying. He has a very vivid imagination and we can have actual conversations now. How cool is that?
So I'm going to be like my friend. I'm going to enjoy every age. I'm going to think it's neat that my son gets to go to preschool and high school and I won't make him feel guilty if he wants to go away to college. Fly, son, be free! Just call me every once in a while. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Computer Games

We have recently equipped our children with a new device... a computer of their own.

I had my doubts about it at first. Will they destroy it? Will they spend too much time on it? Will they fight over it?

Well, after about 2 months it looks like it is one of the best things we did for them and myself. They love it and I love it.

Now, it took some doing. We started with an older computer, then I had to figure out how to connect it to the Internet that I have on my primary desktop. I had to buy an adapter and install it. This was easier said than done.

Once I figured that out, I then had to get the security systems set up so that the kids couldn't see anything bad on it. We use Besure Online on our computers. I hardly ever see any pop-ups and it does a great job screening undesirable things. The whole project took a couple of weeks.

Next, I downloaded their games. They like to play Hello Kitty, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Spirit the game, Care Bears, Nemo and Publix Preschool Pals.

The beauty of having the internet on their computer is that I can set up their favorite websites beforehand and they can just click the ones they feel like playing with when they want to. Their favorites are Starfall (I love this one!), PBS kids, Dave Ramsey kid games (Junior's Clubhouse), National Geographic for kids, Noggin, Karito Kids, Zoology, Highlights and Crayola.

I now can do my work on the computer and they can do theirs. It's worked out well in that we just set a 20 minute time limit for each of them if there's an issue. They actually don't play on it all the time. They also are pretty careful with the computer. I attribute that to the CompuChild computer classes they took at their pre-school twice monthly (I highly recommend these classes!). My kids amaze me by how much they know about computers at ages 5 and 7.

How do you guys feel about kids and computers?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Today, our son learned a very important lesson. He learned that when he drinks milk from a straw and exhales rather than inhales, some pretty cool bubbles result. A messy lesson, but an important one nonetheless. What really amazes me is that I didn't instruct him to blow through the straw--he had that idea on his own.

It makes me think of my own childhood and the cool lessons I learned along the way. Do you remember the first time you put a marshmallow in the microwave and watched it grow into a ginormous blob? Did you ever try to fry an egg on the sidewalk to see if it would really work? Anyone try to start a fire with a magnifying glass?

The little guy went to his first day of preschool today, and while we are excited to see him begin his journey into "official" learning, the bubbles were a fun reminder that the world is his classroom and some of the best lessons (or the most fun ones, anyway) are self-guided. Here's to discovery! May it serve him well.

So, what are your kids up to these days?