Sunday, November 29, 2009
Well, this family doesn't only let me play their reindeer games, they downright force me! I do love the family that plays together. After plenty of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie was eaten we played games at the in-laws. Jac asked me after the second family game together (first we played the second annual flag football game and then we played two rounds of "Papa's game" which is an indoor game that Papa swears he didn't have anything to do with creating), "why are we playing games"? Which I thought was an interesting question.
To play or not to play, what type of interaction does your family have during holidays and get-togethers? The tendency is to let the kids play and the adults talk and never the twain shall meet. Not that this is bad, I have a lot of fond memories of playing with my cousins, kids that you instantly bond with even though you only see a handful of times throughout the year. However, I do think it is especially memorable to mix the two groups and see what you get. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmas and grandpas all playing the same game - all ages all genders. Big ones helping little ones and everybody laughing and making memories.
I need to give props to my football team, The Turkey Legs - we beat The Gobblers 6 to 4. I believe each touchdown was worth one point for those of you who were confused. We even had several injuries on the team as well as had one of our team members picking daisies on the sideline most of the game. (Which was actually easier than making sure Mia wasn't getting plowed over by any of the more aggressive flag footballers.) We also had some pass rushing that was a bit aggressive - counting to 3 MISSISSIPPI seemed to be a challenge for some of The Gobblers. And of course the team was a man down when I had to help Jac go to the bathroom, which turned in to bringing back the wagon and some leaves and sticks. And not only did we win, but we definitely took home the fashion reward. I can't say the same for The Gobblers - are those in-laws or outlaws?
We all had fun and quickly popped some Tylenol as a post game reward.
Then we came home and were immediately bombarded with Jac's requests to put up the "fall" decorations. By that he meant the Christmas decorations. Which is exactly what we did on Saturday and Sunday. Jac is a big helper and pretty relentless when it comes to decorating. He wants it all out and all out now. He made sure that every light was strung and every stocking hung. We are fully decorated and the house officially looks like Christmas. Now we just need the weather to cooperate - 70 and sunny doesn't feel like Christmas!
Did you get some decorating done this weekend?
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I am thankful for the things that my husband cannot control. I love the way he looks, I love the way he smells. I am thankful he has good taste and is smart. I am thankful he has a great memory. I am thankful for his amazing geography skills. I love his creativity, without it things like "Camp Austin", "Spring of Fun" and the "Sports Couples Road Trip" wouldn't exist. I am thankful he has a great job that allows me to be at home with the kids and do things like write this blog. I am thankful he can build a fire.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
There is a fine art to making a wonderful cup of coffee. It has crossed my mind to apply at Starbucks as a barista in order to perfect my skills. I am concerned with this tactic as they may make me bus tables or clean restrooms and work my way up to barista over an excruciating time period. Although bussing tables and cleaning restrooms actually fits nicely in my bailiwick, I prefer to keep those skills closer to home. So becoming a barista will have to stay on the back burner. For now I will continue to work on my coffee skills at home.
I have figured out a few things as a coffee lover.
- Heat is very important. Water needs to be heated between 195 and 205 F, heating water on the stove and using a french press actually gets better results than my Mr Coffee. I am sure there are coffee makers out there that heat up the water to the desired level but I currently cannot afford any more investment into this habit. Normally, I simply get my water as hot as possible from the tap before it goes into the coffee maker and make the coffee immediately - no timers for me. As my husband says, no one likes warm tea - either cold or hot please. Same goes for coffee. I also prefer a coffee cup shaped like a champagne flute because it holds the heat in longer. My cup is on the left in the picture.
- Bean quality matters. I have tried a lot of coffee, I believe my favorite is straight from the source. Getting beans from South America directly is the way to go. This is a bit difficult simply because I am not in South America all that frequently. However, you can order beans directly from the coffee farms online. I actually don't think they taste as good as they do when you haul them back yourself, but that could be because they are sitting around for sometime and not as fresh. So barring a trip to Costa Rica or Honduras, I stick with high end beans from US companies. Mostly Starbucks, but right now I am working through some Caribou Coffee and it is good.
- Grinding fresh beans helps. Grinding the beans right before you make the cup always makes it taste better. I rarely buy ground coffee, but every once in awhile will grind my beans ahead of time to save time. I like a fine grind because I like really dark coffee. This is where you can make a difference in dark versus light, if you grind it finely you will get more surface area for your water and you will get darker coffee. Here is the art. You also need to be careful with high end machines and super fine coffee, because it will clog your machine.
- Quantity of grounds. This is difficult and takes practice. I have found that I make 10 cups of coffee really well because I know exactly how many beans to grind. However, when I make less coffee I tend to make it too dark (which is hard considering I like my spoon to stand up in it). Normally I just make 10 cups and pitch whatever I don't drink.
For all of you non coffee drinkers who make coffee, good for you! There will never be a complaint from me. Any coffee is better than no coffee and your efforts are always appreciated regardless of how much your coffee looks like tea (you shouldn't be able to see the bottom of the cup). It is comparable to my attempts at being interested in college football every fall. My husband appreciates it no matter how lame the attempt. He loves that I go to the games with him even if I tend to talk to my girlfriends the whole time and only cheer when the fight song is played.
Go drink a cuppa and enjoy!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Jac got a haircut over the weekend. Quite a dramatic makeover if you ask me! He went from barely being able to see his eyes, to seeing all of his cute cutie face. I actually think he looks younger because we had his hair cut shorter like this when he was around two and a half.
Jac at 30 months
And like Samson his strength left him when his hair was cut. He has lost all strength for fits and complaining. It is a miracle transformation and he has been sleeping 11 hours at night. His behavior has done a 180 turn and we are all a lot happier.
One more interesting picture - no resemblance here at all.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I am a girl with an identity crisis. Who doesn’t have one of these? Probably everyone. I am a mom of two cuties who slammed into my life and made it amazing and mysterious. My goals used to be clear and well defined. My career was laid out for me and I was on the top of my game. Until change happened, which it inevitably does. I thought that even with change I was the same person with the same goals. I became a stay at home mom and got to experience the very life that I had previously scoffed at. I chose the one occupation that I had vowed to never accept, always knew I would have a career. Who would have thought that when my life changed I would change too?
Life has many seasons. I was fortunate to have a warm and love filled childhood; with plenty of adventure and freedom for a gangly slightly tomboyish little girl to experiment in the great outdoors. As I grew my parents prepped me for my college season by nurturing my sense of independence. Of course this time in my life had plenty of angst to help me figure out bigger issues in life, a ton of schoolwork to make sure that I would be ready to start a career and large amounts of fun sprinkled in for good measure. Then of course I moved into a career and was lucky to find my husband at my first job out of college and we set off to make sucesses of ourselves; whatever that meant. Our careers moved us around quite a bit and in the process we got married and gained our first baby - Trooper the golden retriever. We learned a lot in our first years of marriage about trust, responsibility and what it takes to make a family.
Then mommy season came. All my previous phases in life had been laced with freedom to go where I want and with whom I wanted whenever I wanted, enter a baby who had a tendency to scream at the top of his lungs when he was hungry, full (he had reflux), tired, just waking up (still can't really understand that one), wet or just out of sorts. After a layoff, a move and another baby (woops, didn't see that one coming) I was in a strange place with no job, two babies, no friends and a big inferiority complex for not having a job. I was surrounded by loving family, which helped immensely but really missed that day to day interaction with coworkers friends and even my husband. Nobody really talks about how isolating mommyhood can be in those first few years, though. During naps and sleepless nights, sickness and cold weather you just don't see many other adults during the day. Thank goodness we moved to the friendliest place on the planet and into Ward and June's neighborhood; it all just clicked.
It took me a good three years of being a stay at home mom to come to terms with it. I realize now how important this job is and also how amazingly lucky I am to be able to stay at home. To all the single parents of the world and to all the moms who work, you are amazing!
My family, husband and kids and extended family and friends; with my faith, are the most important things to me. But as the diapers have given way to training pants and training pants to big girl and boy pants, I have started to wonder. What is that nagging at the back of my mind? Drive, ambition, maybe even a goal that doesn’t revolve around a crumby floor or a Dora toothbrush.
This is a peek into my life, my dreams, my hobbies, my family and my faith – a girl learning about who she is and where she is going.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
No, I am not giving away a minivan, but the uberchic minivan driving mom from http://minivansarehot.com is having a giveaway. Jump over and check her blog out and be amazed by her wit and wisdom! Okay that may be a little thick. But she is talented and funny and it is definitely worth checking her out and signing up to be in a drawing for the book Testament Focused by Becke Stuart. The book is full of beautiful pictures and encouraging Words.
You can also see more about the book at Becke's blog Moop and Saba.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I ran downstairs very excited.
"Did you see the elves? Did they come down here?" I was breathless and very excited acting like I truly had just had a North Pole experience.
I got two dumbfounded looks.
"Let's go see if they are still here, I just heard Santa's elves and I bet they were checking up on you for Santa." This was very apropos as we had just written our letters to Santa last night including how good we had been!
So then Jac got it. He ran up the stairs and ran to look in the kitchen. Then he looked out the window, thinking that maybe he would see them "driving" or running away.
"I think they were upstairs, maybe we can tell if they were here." I needed them to get upstairs because the candy evidence would be what truly "proved" that they had been here.
They went upstairs, and started looking in the various rooms. They were peering out the window because I do think they realized that they must be long gone by now. I looked down the hallway at the candy on the floor and realized that they were blending in with the Lighting McQueen Town Rug that was currently decorating the upstairs hallway. The green and red Hershey kiss bells were completely blending in and they had walked right by them. I quickly took the rug into Jac's room and then asked them to come look in there, they literally had to walk right over them. These are the pictures of them finding the candy.
Finding the Candy (finally)
Collecting the Candy
Eating the Candy
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I look at kids who are in their elementary years and moving into junior high and I wonder, do they have time to play? With soccer, dance, Spanish class, religion class, homework and of course the chores that every parent is lining up for their kids, when do they play. All of these things are great pursuits, but when do kids have time to just be kids and run in the great outdoors? A lot of my play happened when I was tiny, but a huge majority of my pretend play happened when I was in third, fourth and fifth grade and even upwards to middle school. I remember very distinctly talking to myself when I was in high school as a way to work through a conversation that I was going to have when I got to school. With a teacher, with a friend and with boys who wanted to be more than friends – in a way this was play also.
According to the February 2009 Scientific American cover story “The Serious Need for Play”, “kids who enrolled in play-oriented preschools are more socially adjusted later in life than are kids who attended play-free preschools where they were constantly instructed by teachers. By age 23, more than one third of kids who had attended instruction-oriented preschools had been arrested for a felony as compared with fewer than one tenth of the kids who had been in play-oriented preschools.” Wow, I mean that is serious business. 33% of kids who attended a non-play oriented preschool were arrested for felonies by age 23, I repeat that because it seems huge. My immediate reaction is perhaps, play makes children smarter and more creative. This creativity may be what is keeping some kids from getting arrested for those felonies and other from getting caught with their hand in the cookie jar! By all means, let your kids play so that they too can be creative rule breakers! Just kidding, I truly believe that play with other kids helps children understand societal rules and norms as well as so many other benefits of learning self control, relieving stress, fighting obesity and the list goes on.
And all of this play isn’t supposed to involve an adult. Who knew, I get more time for Oprah, I mean for cleaning those floors of course!? Kids actually learn more when they play by themselves or with other kids. They have to use more verbal skills to communicate with their three year old sister than they have to when they communicate with their parents who can at the ripe old age of 35 fill in all of the blanks and understand when they mispronounce “white” and say “wipe”. (One of the cutest words Mia still mispronounces, use it in a sentence, trust me it is cute.) They are more creative with rules when adult rules aren’t being forced down on them and they feel less inhibited to be different pretend characters.
Happy Wednesday – and try it out today, send your kids out and tell them to PLAY!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
These cookies look like innocent turkeys, but beware, they are actually enough to make your four year old have an all out meltdown!
The kids and I made cookies on Monday with our neighbor friend. Fun was had, spoons were licked, feathers were applied and cookies were eaten. Then it got ugly. (Queue scary music.)
Jac's behavior has definitely gotten a bit less four year old like and more two year old like since giving up the nap and starting preschool this fall. Things are good when he is well rested and fed, and evidently not when there are a couple dozen turkeys looking at him. All was well until we sat down to dinner. First, Mia was not interested, everyone in the family loves meatloaf, but not tonight. Then Jac jumped on the bandwagon and decided that he wasn't eating either. All out mutiny. Which was simple enough to solve. If you aren't hungry fine, please leave the table so that mommy and daddy can eat in peace. But be forewarned! No dessert if you don't eat your meal.
Well things went from bad to worse with Jac, and he was sent to his room. Mia decided to buck up and try the potatoes that I had fixed. (Contrary to the critics at the table, it was a tasty meal. Sweet meatloaf, a potato and cheese concoction, and sauteed beets. You may have issue you with the latter, but I promise it is good and in our house, you don't have to eat everything you just have to try it all. The only reason you would have to eat everything is if you wanted one of those turkey cookies. Queue the scary music again.)
So Mia was back at the table eating and Jac was in his room. It sounded from the wailing that someone was doing him bodily harm. Jeff and I were finished with our meal at this point and were cleaning up the kitchen. After the kitchen was clean I went upstairs with Jac. Being the reasonable mother I am, and knowing that what my son truly needed was sleep I gave him two choices 1. go eat your dinner and no I am not making you anything different or 2. go to bed. (It seemed like an easy choice, I wasn't being mean on either level because for choice 1. Jac has been known to eat two or three helpings of my meatloaf and for choice 2. he normally goes to bed at 7:30 and it was already 6:45.)
My son doesn't always make the wisest choices. He opted for a middle road of being defiant and shouting, I am not eating it if it is my dinner. In four year old speak what he really meant was, mommy this fit will stop if you will just give me a turkey cookie - did I mention that he has been screaming for turkey cookies this whole time? I of course knew what I had to do, put Jac to bed. I knew it wouldn't be fun or easy, but this is what I had to do.
So another 30 minutes later after Jac had finally been convinced that he wasn't leaving his room and I would stay with him until he fell asleep, he did just that, fell asleep. It was ugly and loud and certainly not how I would choose to put him to bed, I felt like the mom in the book Where the Wild Things Are. I did realize a few things from this incident. Jac needs more sleep, somehow we need to get him more sleep. The turkey cookies must be put away and potentially sweets in general must disappear for awhile.
Some questions that I had were, how do I get this boy to sleep more? Do we have too many things going on (preschool and play dates are really all we do, but is four days a week just too much)? And last but of course not least, how do I get rid of two dozen turkey cookies?
Monday, November 16, 2009
Jeff wants to see the horizon and everything on the horizon, buildings, empty lots, people, trees, whatever. In fact he often points out planes and helicopters to the kids as we drive. This provides many benefits. He has an amazing sense of direction and once living in a city for a short time knows his way around to many different places that he has never been, simply because he drove by them. He notices advertising, smoke on the horizon and wrecks very far in advance. However, there are some pitfalls to this single minded focus on all things far away. He has a tendency to drive off the road! Which I think is a pretty big deal. He also has a pothole magnet on the front of the car, because he never pays any attention to the road immediately in front of him we are perpetually falling into a pothole.
I, however, am the exact opposite. Unless I know the road well, I don't look up. I look at the road immediately in front of me, the traffic around me and basically any danger in my path. Once I am familiar with a road (over many years), I will be comfortable and look around at the buildings, houses, trees, etc. Jeff likes to make fun of me relentlessly telling me that the action is going on out there not down on the ground. The saying, can't see the forest for the trees comes to mind. I feel strongly that I am the safer driver, wreck record set aside, because I see the immediate problem at hand. Jeff claims he is the safer driver because he is more than capable of dealing with any immediate problem, and he will see a problem coming far in advance and anticipate it. (Tell that to the tires hitting the potholes.)
What I wonder is what does this say about our personalities? I think a lot. I have a tendency to live in the immediate and look at problems from a micro level breaking them down into manageable pieces. Where Jeff is fantastic at looking at the bigger, broader picture and not allowing problems to grow out of proportion.
Which kind of driver are you?
Friday, November 13, 2009
These noses didn't really stay on the kiddos for very long, too big. And they were actually quite stinky, so although they fit my bigger nose quite nicely I couldn't stand the smell.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Speak is a 2004 movie based on the teen fiction novel by the same name, written by Laurie Halse Anderson. This is not your average teeny bop movie. In fact, it may be something that some teens aren't ready to view. From a parent's point of view it reveals what a tragedy it is to lose communication with your teen.
For me this is a good reminder to foster communication with my young children on every topic so that someday we can have more mature conversations about the intimate and sometimes uncomfortable topics that come with growing up. But more importantly, kids may be screaming for our attention without ever opening their mouths and noticing changes in their behavior is part of my job description and can be costly if unnoticed. Even completely trustworthy teens who normally make good choices, will be put into situations that they either feel pressured to go along with the group or that they simply cannot control.
This movie also reminds me that the motive behind an action may not be what you think. I am guilty of judging people based on the action that I see without keeping an open mind regarding why they are doing something. Shouldn't we try and think the best not the worst about our peers i.e. the Golden Rule? I came away from this thinking about how my judgemental actions could have hurt someone in my past and how to refrain from doing this in future.
Speak is a must see or read for any parent of a teen. But also for those of us with younger children looking forward to all of those super fun teen years! Although not a movie that is going to make you jump for joy, it does have a breakthrough ending that warms a parents heart.
DVD thumbnail will open a new window to amazon.com.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
How many of us want it all? And then realize that we definitely do not and cannot have it all after the wonderful bundle of joy has arrived. The clear winner at that point is the bouncing baby boy who for whatever reason does not sleep in more than 45 minute increments. Why do we want it all? We have been programmed to believe that men have it all and we want that too. Power, success and maybe just maybe a little recognition. However, I can tell you right now that if men have it all they definitely don’t do it all. They go to work and do a great job ‘bringing home the bacon’ without ever setting foot in a grocery store. Nor do they bathe the children, feed the children or teach the children anything but a three point stance. That sounds harsh, and in no way am I digging on my own darling husband. But the majority of two income households still don't split the parenting duties and the house duties down the middle.
There are many women out there who know in their heart of hearts that they want a family and definitely know that staying home with the kids is the answer to their dreams. The rest of us sort of fall into this life without having a clue what is happening. That would be me. Never in my wildest dreams would I believe that when I grew up I would be a stay at home mom. This was beneath me, limiting, ridiculous in so many ways. Why stay at home when clearly I had the capacity to run a company if not a country and could ‘outsource’ all of that menial domestic business. I mean you can get a lawn guy, a housekeeper, a nanny and even get someone to cook and prepare most of your children’s meals. So the choice is obvious, right?
Until the ‘real’ world actually comes calling and you find yourself between a move and a layoff with hubby really starting to step up to the plate. All of a sudden going back to work seems like a lot of work! And staying at home becomes more real with that business environment a made up fictional place where men and women who clearly either are superhuman or delusional choose to spend most of their waking hours. The real world becomes real, with diapers and potties and Elmo. And conversations regarding poop and sleep are truly the most important meetings of your entire life. Where teaching your child that God exists is far more fundamental than what this fiscal year's Balance Sheet is going to look like.
But then the doubts creep in with, but I am not contributing to society or otherwise. I have so much to give, or do I? Maybe why I am at home is because I am a big fat failure. And you look at all of the amazing women who are now your peers and they truly are the most talented gifted people you have ever met. They not only have children that learn to poop by two and sleep 12 hours at night without waking up, but they work from home for a Fortune 100 company and run the local PTA and are tennis stars on the amateur circuit and somehow also have Bible study two nights a week. Who are these women? Have they cloned themselves, because I think that is still illegal and someone should do something about this.
Not me, though I am paralyzed with fear of failure. The biggest job I have ever asked myself to do will last the rest of my life and will be displayed in front of God and everyone to show my success or abysmal failure. And because I am so afraid of failing in that I am deathly afraid of taking on anything else. Because I couldn't possibly handle any more responsibility in my life right now.
But what happens after kids? Where do I go from there? They do grow up and although the job doesn’t stop, it gets noticeably easier even if they end up living in your basement presumably they will have their own key and not need to jump in bed with you at night. So what then? Will I wallow in grief of an empty nest and make my husband miserable by mothering him? Or somehow someway will some 30 year old Harvard MBA take pity on me and higher me in some need to find diverse backgrounds to appease HR. Perhaps as a consultant of the bygone technology boom days as a person who can tell exactly what not to do to make a company thrive in the long term. Will ‘mommy’ be on my resume to fill the 18 year gap in time in which I was playing, wiping and cooking?
Monday, November 9, 2009
Jac had it totally figured out this year, the faster you go the more candy you get. And Mia was a close second. We had fun with them and they make me laugh so much. Jac would say - 'okay Mia, it is your turn to ring the doorbell'. Which is very nice and big brother like - then Mia would literally push the doorbell 50 times until the people showed up and open the door. I didn't realize what she was doing until partway through and then that made me laugh again!
The Racecar Driver and the Ladybug with their friend the Butterfly
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Well the good news is that Mia was dry ALL day. Wow, that is awesome. We went to the Magic House and spent 4 hours there, she came home used the potty. Went to sleep - took a 2.5 hour nap and then went to the potty. In the middle of dinner went to the potty and before bath time went to the potty. No accidents. However, it has been a few days since she has done her serious business.
So....we may have to resort to the prune juice that we have used once before. Seems to be pretty magical, just a few hours later and we were good. I think she is working so hard on her control, maybe too hard.
Friday, November 6, 2009
He had one yesterday because he had been gone from me until late afternoon and something had been building up in him all day. They told him at school that he needed to wash his hands a certain way. They did a whole program on it, watched a movie, gave them handouts, etc. Well, it just so happens that Jac doesn't like to wash his hands and but he does wash them diligently after he uses the potty - but under protest. I fully anticipate another hand washing strike to hit at some point. But my little rule follower was so upset that he had been washing his hands the wrong way AND that now they wanted him to add some "perceived" extra steps. Insult to injury - the new way would definitely take several seconds longer than the current way.
My brilliant parenting tactic was to tell him to forget it. This may be the wrong message - but I said first of all their were some adults that didn't wash their hands so he was already better off, and secondly - you can't do everything in life perfect. Some things you just have to do. Get them done and be done. Don't look back. I told him that there would be things in life that he would want to practice and do really well and others not so much.
This blatantly goes against the saying "if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well", but you know what if I tell this to my little perfectionist he will probably end up in therapy. He will figure out that there are chores in life that he doesn't like sooner rather than later and some things just need to get done.
Anyway, he seems happy with that, and slightly scandalized that some adults don't wash their hands!