...because we all have our motley moments!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer with a Two Year Old!

Summer has been great so far! I am loving it! But I am also trying to get in to an easy routine with my 2 year old. We have some weekly events that we go to: Park outing with other moms from church, library visit to get new books, movies and play with their toys and puzzles, and a Pool party at my house (yes we have a pool). These activities are GREAT! We have a fun time doing all of them.

But I am looking for some ideas for activities that we can do around the house that focus on learning. Something we can do in the mornings when we wake up and are still in our PJ's. Right now we just sort of mosey around playing, making a mess, watching movies, going online... nothing really substantial... I would like to do something more constructive. I would like at least 5 ideas so that I can do them once a week.

That is where the Motley Moms come in. What are some of your go-to learning activities for toddlers?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Want to see what will ruin my summer?

Would you like to see it from a different angle?

Yes. That is my ankle. And really, the second picture doesn't do all the pretty colors justice. Last week I blew out my ankle. Would you like to know how? Or, rather, why? Because I am a big ol' klutz. That's it. I'm clumsy, so I will spend my entire summer in a brace and part of the time on crutches because I can't do plyometrics without turning my ankle the direction it was not meant to turn. The good news is: 1. It's not broken (although sometimes a break is better than a sprain, especially when it's sprained as severely as mine is), 2. I don't need surgery, and 3. School is out, which means my MIL and SIL are able to help me quite a bit. And yes, it is overkill to say this ankle sprain (4 torn ligaments! 3 month recovery!) will "ruin" my summer, but here is a list of things that will just not be the same:
1. VBS. I can't work it because I'm not terribly mobile, even with the crutches, but my kids can still attend. So I get 5 half-days to myself. Huh. Wait, that actually turned out pretty well. Okay, scratch that.
New #1. I'm going to get fat. It's inevitable. I can't do anything physical. No circuit training, no weight training, no running, no elliptical, no kickboxing. I was even considering going back to tae kwon do, but I won't be able to do anything strenuous until September, most likely. This lack of physical activity not only makes me flabbier, but it makes me cranky, too.
2. The Keys. Todd and I are going to the Keys in less than 2 weeks, by ourselves. I still won't be able to walk long distances, although I should be off the crutches by then, so there won't be any walking around Key West for shopping or people-watching. We can't go kayaking because of Todd's recent shoulder surgery (it takes a long time to recover from that) and I can't very well bike. I guess we'll be spending all of our time either in the hotel room or lying out by the pool, reading and sipping drinks with little umbrellas in them. Bummer.
3. Busch Gardens. They have a special going this summer where you can get a year's pass for kids 5 and under for free because they've opened up a new Elmo-themed preschool area. I was planning on going there a lot but I don't think I will now. Can you imagine me on one of those motorized carts trying to chase after 2 kids in a theme park?
4. Potty training. Micah really is doing great with using the toilet, especially since I started him almost a full year younger than I started Ethan. I can't remember the last time I bought diapers. But he's taking advantage of me. It's like he says in his head, "Hmmmm. Mommy's laid up on the couch with a hurt foot. I wonder what'll happen if I pee on the books."
5. Sleep. Since I'm lying around all day, I'm not expending much energy, so I'm not tired at night. My brain is probably going to turn to mashed potatoes because I'm watching more TV than usual and wasting even more time on the computer. And that's saying something.
All this has made me realize that I wasn't made for sitting around. But I'm sure, like in all things, God is trying to teach me something. Patience, maybe? Loss of control? Or maybe that my problems are small. My last post was pretty dismal and this one is just whiny. But oil is spilling out of control into the Gulf and people are losing their jobs and many in Haiti still don't have homes. I am blessed because I sit here with a brace and crutches that my insurance company (partly) paid for, insurance that I have because my husband has a good job, and my belly is full and my kids are healthy and my house is air-conditioned. Ugh. I'm tired of learning this lesson. I wish I weren't so.....human.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I got my degree on Facebook!

Sorry to hijack Motley Moms to rant a little, but I actually believe this is a topic worthy of a parenting discussion. While most of us reading this did not grow up surfing the Information Super Highway, our kiddos will only know the ease of Google for finding out what they need to know.

In the past few weeks a controversy has erupted on Facebook. Actually, many controversies have exploded on the social networking site, but this one in particular has caught my attention. Have you seen the icky glob the lady down in Miami found in her Capri Sun pouch?

More pics here.

I think we can all agree that, yuck, that is really icky. I wouldn't want to find one of those in my kid's juice box. When the mom who found the mass contacted Kraft, the maker of the juice, they told her they would test it. They did, and they concluded that the mass is mold, and the mold grew because the pouch had a leak. (This is true, by the way--the family confirmed that the pouch was leaking and that is how they found the object.) Kraft offered to reimburse the family for the cost of the box of juice.

Here's where things have taken an interesting turn, though--apparently the appearance of this ugly mass of yuck has turned many people in the Facebook world into biologists. Did you know it was that simple? People whose only contact with mold is with the stuff that grows on strawberries when they sit in the fridge for too long have decided that this could not be mold--it's too icky--it looks more like an eyeball, skin, (insert random body part here)...

Now, with one Google search I was able to find a picture on a blog of a similar glob found in an apple juice box made by an Australian company. There may be some masked villain touring the world's juice factories and depositing masses of flesh he removed from his victims into our children's favorite summer beverage containers, or maybe...it really is a mold that tends to grow in fruit juice.

I'm not really bothered by boycotts against products as long as they have merit, and I think social networking sites have given consumers unimaginable power when it comes to being treated fairly. What bothers me is that I have heard several people talking about the glob off-line, and they are sure that indeed it is the missing hand of Osama bin Laden. Let people say what they will, but in this age of information, information tends to spread faster than the speed of light, and before you can say, "Don't take that perfume sample from a stranger at a gas station!" we have a new urban legend on our hands, and in some cases it may actually harm products or companies that supply jobs to our economy and have, in fact, done nothing wrong.

So, as much as I would like to think that my time spent watching Criminal Minds has prepared me to be an FBI profiler (Hey guys at the Bureau--call me if you need a hand!), I can honestly say that it probably hasn't, and on that same note, being a part of the Facebook community (or any other site) has not qualified me to be a scientist or anything else. It is my responsibility to not believe everything I read and to look into things a little before I start a crusade against them. Most of the time, a quick trip to www.snopes.com does the trick. ;)

What's my point and what does it have to do with parenting? Well, I guess my main goal here is to inspire us all to teach our kids how to find the truth no matter how enticing a legend is. Sure, it's more fun to think that the Capri Sun in question came from Hannibal Lecter's jail cell, but really, don't we want our kids to be able to decipher fact from fiction, danger from safety? There's a Facebook community devoted to some new fad where the kids are drinking alcohol WITH THEIR EYEBALLS. I'm sure they think it's perfectly fine to do so. I want our little guy to be able to say, "No, thank you, you're an idiot," when approached with such ridiculous ideas. In short, I want to train our future member of society to be, well, not a moron. Of course, I may need to get a few more Facebook degrees before I can master that completely. ;)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fresh Produce

I love the fresh produce of summer. In Florida, colorful fruits and veggies start pouring into our supermarkets early, and then we get the benefit of the northern growing seasons well into the scorching summer months when our gardens take a break. I am easily drawn to the colors and smells of the produce department and roadside stands, and nothing makes me happier to come home with bags of the good stuff. I can practically feel the health surging through my body just looking at the antioxidant-packed bounty.

And then this happens.

"John, why haven't you guys been eating the pears?" John replies, "We have pears?"

I was mesmerized in the produce department at Publix a few weeks ago, ready to buy a cartload of the good stuff, when it finally dawned on me that we don't always eat everything I buy. Actually, we often weren't eating half of it. We had the beginnings of a very expensive compost pile. I stopped and surveyed the market stand trying to determine why this was happening.

Aren't produce markets beautiful? All of the shiny apples piled high in their bins, arranged so neatly. Who wouldn't want a big, bushy pineapple, especially when it's surrounded by colorful mangoes. The yummy harvest goes into the cute little bags to be weighed, then goes home to...

the black hole that is the refrigerator.

Yes, like a coconut falling from a tree, the realization hit me that the allure of these delicacies of nature is their beauty, and hiding them in the fridge behind the cottage cheese is an insult to them, and much worse, it keeps us from enjoying them. I took action that day when I returned home, and our produce eating has improved tremendously.

1. I did a refrigerator remodel. I ditched the stuff that needed to go, and cleared out the produce bin. I pushed the grains and nuts to the back where they could still be seen but not interfere with more perishable things in the front, and I moved all of the bottle things to the door. I put organizers into the drawer so that I could wash the apples and store them in an open container so that they would be ready to be eaten at any time. Once the apples were corralled, the other fruits and veggies organized themselves neatly around them. No produce bags or boxes, just a bin of fresh stuff ready to be grabbed and eaten at any time.

2. I did a grocery list remodel. I realized that I would habitually buy lots of short-life produce, such as berries, and very little of anything that would last until my next shopping day. We would force-feed ourselves the perishable stuff for two days, and then we were out of fresh food for the week. I examine our grocery list every week now to assure that I have a week's worth of edible goodies, and we eat them accordingly.

3. I stopped buying so much produce in the first place. This is contrary to my earlier grocery shopping posts, but I have decided that certain fresh food can be purchased multiple times a week so that it isn't reduced to compost. I still budget for it, though, and I make sure that the money is in the cash envelope when it's time to replenish the produce bin.

We want to enjoy our food, not just scramble to get it eaten so that it doesn't spoil. Do you have any pointers for making the most of the summer harvest?

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Home Study and a Wedding Dress...

We have been busy the last few weeks. {As I assume everyone else is since not a lot of new posts are showing up here on Motley Moms!} Our business has been mostly about our adoption for kid #2! We finalized our home study last week and we are officially on the waiting list! Hooray!! We are super excited! We are on the waiting list for a girl. The wait time will be much longer than it was with Kid #1 but we are trusting in God's timing.

Our Social Worker (SW) came to our home to update our home study from Kid #1's adoption. It is not a huge deal, but we wanted our house to be clean... I mean this person is going to help decide if we can take on another kid, so I want the illusion that our house is clean. And since she will be touring the WHOLE house, I can not just pick up the main level and leave the child safety gates up at both sets of stairways to block her from seeing the other 2 levels where I stashed all the junk from the main floor, like I usually do with company! (Oh no- now my secret is out!)

I am the WORST when it comes to cleaning! I am A.D.D. and sentimental. I will start to clean an area and I will get distracted or start looking at each item I am supposed to be cleaning and remember all the "good times" we had with it. Cleaning the photo albumn shelf is a 2 + hour job since I look through each one!

So, I was cleaning the storage closet and came across my wedding dress tote. (I stored my dress in a big storage tote with baby blue tissue paper to keep it white).... I start thinking of our wedding day and how beautiful and happy and young we were... and then I start thinking "hmmmmmmm I wonder if it still fits? " I open it up and it looks pretty and white so, I stop cleaning and try on my wedding dress.

And guess what....


After 12 years of marriage, I can still fit into my wedding dress! I go and show my husband who laughs and then tells me that I look beautiful! Good man!

Armed with new self-confidence, I was able to clean my house like never before! {don't worry, I changesd out of my dress to finish cleaning!}

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Only Rose is Left...

Have you ever felt like sitting on the couch all afternoon while watching a "Golden Girls" marathon and drinking yourself into a stupor? I feel like that today. I can't, however, because 1. I don't have any "Golden Girls" DVDs and it doesn't come on TV until 5, 2. I don't want to watch "Golden Girls" in front of my impressionable children, and 3. I don't drink if I'm the only adult available to take care of said children. I have the "Golden Girls" on my mind because I recently re-discovered how hilarious Betty White is and I found out today that Rue McClanahan died. That caps off our recent trio of celebrity deaths - Gary Coleman, Dennis Hopper, and now Miss Rue. The death of Rue makes me sad, although I never really liked her character on the show because she's a major whore. There are a lot of things that are making me sad lately, and mowing on Saturday and Sunday didn't even make me feel better.
You see, I love mowing. It's great exercise, I get some sun (while wearing sunscreen, of course), I get a break from my kids, it's instant gratification because I can see the fruits of my labor almost instantly, and I cut the grass in small sections, which is therapeutic for my ADD brain. The biggest reason why I love mowing, though, is because I am a brooder. When I have things on my mind, I don't particularly like to talk about them (which can make therapy a little interesting, but I digress...). I like to process. Mowing, and any other "hard work," help me to process things, especially if I'm also listening to my iPod at the same time. I sometimes feel like God is speaking to me through my iPod, to comfort me, to cheer me up, to make me sort through my emotions, however negative, and to get my mind off of the stress that is in my life.
I have 3 big things going on right now. One is good - a possible move to another house - but stressful nonetheless. One is a health concern that is most likely nothing, but I've had to wait a long time to find out. Another is the Big Ugly Situation involving my mother and a lawyer. What's funny about these situations being in my life is that these are not what are making me sad today. I am sad about freaking Rue McClanahan and the fact that Betty White probably doesn't have much time left, either. I am sad because my son has ringworm - again. I am sad because it rained all afternoon and now we can't go out to play unless I want my kids to get filthy. I am sad because I'm probably the reason why my kids are afraid to get dirty.
This is probably a normal reaction. I can't really handle the big stuff right now, especially the medical thing and the lawyer thing, so I'm focusing on the little stuff. Mowing didn't help and drinking certainly won't, so I'll just stress eat today and look forward to tomorrow, when I'll at least have an answer on my medical thing. Maybe once that's over I can stop mourning over celebrities and dreaming of drowning myself in vice.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Succeeding As a Mom, Take 1001...

Are you ready for my latest attempt at being an effective parent? Our son has been having trouble listening and following directions lately, and rather than going insane from repeating myself a billion times, I turned to a place where I often go when my life is in need of some order. The clip-art file.

In the aftermath of a knock-down-drag-out over bedtime rituals, I created this little display for our refrigerator:

I needed something to convey good and bad to a child who can't read yet, so I went with emoticons. Next, I searched my memory for the things that I know our son LOVES, and I made picture representations of those. Swimming, treats, tv shows, playing at the park...that kind of thing. I then pulled out my teacher stuff and made the little pictures into magnets. While he slept, I put all of these things on the refrigerator door.

The next morning, the little guy ran to the kitchen as usual, and he stopped abruptly. "What's that?" he asked. I explained that the pictures were the things he likes to do and I reviewed them with him. I then explained that if the pictures were on the happy face then he could do those things. If the pictures moved to the sad face because he didn't listen to Mommy and Daddy and follow instructions, then he couldn't have or do that thing for the rest of the day.

The first mishap involved stepping on the cat. He likes to play with her with his feet but he doesn't understand how powerful he is compared to the kitten, so we have a rule that he is not allowed to use his feet on the cat. He did it anyway just after we had discussed it, so I marched to the kitchen and moved Scooby Do to the sad face side. No boxes to check, no difficulty remembering the punishment--Scooby Do is on the sad face thus we were a Scooby Do free household that day.

Next, at dinner the little guy would not sit in his chair to eat or use a fork. He's 3 1/2, what can I say? After warning him, I marched to the kitchen and moved the picture of chocolate to the sad face. He wasn't too concerned, so I marched back to the kitchen and grabbed a few Dove squares, tossed a couple to my husband, and we ate them in front of him. I know, I know, Mom and Dad of the Year, that's us. But guess what? He understood.

So now, if his behavior isn't what it needs to be, I say, "Do I need to move a magnet?" He changes his attitude quickly. Also, I've included a variety of things he likes, so I can make a decision when I get to the pictures about the most advantageous magnet move. I try to choose what I know he cares about without shooting myself in the foot, you know? For example, if he's having a sick day, taking away Scooby Do is not the best way to go. I could, however, take away going to the park, and while I know we wouldn't have gone, he doesn't know that. All he knows is that he has lost a privilege due to his behavior.

Will this work forever? No. Already, when I moved Scooby to the dark side, he looked at the happy side and said, "So, I can still watch Max and Ruby?" We like to emphasize problem solving skills in this household, so it's our own fault. We have had some learning moments that have had positive outcomes, though, so for now it is a great success. The best part is that in the morning he is so eager to get started that he moves all of his magnets back to the happy side. Less work for me!

Hopefully this gets the creative juices flowing--do you have any tips for easy but effective discipline? Let us hear them!

Also, Happy Birthday to the queen Motley Mom, Donna! You make 35 look like the new 25 girl! :)