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Sunday, January 29, 2012

When Mom Forgets What You Need...Just Ask

I was tucking in the boys tonight and Zach was a little more conversational than normal. I found a little boy devotion book on his shelf that we had read together some but never got all the way through. I told him that we should get back to reading devotions together in the morning and he said we should start tomorrow.

After putting Matt in his crib and turning to leave I heard a voice "Hey, Mom". (Zach always puts "Hey" before Mom when he addresses me). I looked back to see what he needed and as plain as day he posed a question. "Can we do that thing that we did when I was three?" Oh boy, I had to think for a minute about some of the things he may be talking about because we did a few things when he was three!

I went back to sit down next to him on his bed and tried to probe a little deeper into his mind. I thought maybe he meant the toddler devotion book we read at that time so I asked about that. He said, "no, we read devotion, ate breakfast, brushed our teeth..." That is when it hit me. His preschool teacher, in helping us get used to transitions and things that he struggled with at the time, printed us a bunch of PECS pictures and gave us a velcro chart to use at home to help him with his morning, after school and before bed routines.
I asked him about it and he smiled real big and nodded. I love that face...the one I see whenever he knows that I "get it"! I asked if he wanted me to use pictures or just words now since his can read and he told me he liked both. But, he explained, he wanted to be able to "put a check" next to it when he is done. Then, since he was on a roll he asked "can I have one for morning time, home from school time, and bed time too"? Bless his little heart...he knows what he needs even when I had overlooked that myself. He asked for it. I just love him! He is getting so good at communicating.

So, of course after his bedroom door closed I was off to find the perfect updated (he wanted one "for someone who is 5, not 3") routine chart. There is never anything PERFECT but I did find three things I could put together and make something I think he will be THRILLED with when he wakes up in the morning. It is so rewarding as a mom to know that I am providing something that my children need. This was one of those great days!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I love TWO!

Matt had been playing for awhile and wanted to watch a show before he took his nap. I told him to go get ready and I would be in to turn on the television. When I came in from the kitchen, there he was sitting ready to watch with his row of cars lined up on the couch ready to watch with him.

He had been playing with his little wheelie cars that have little people driving them. He had lined them all up so the little faces were watching the screen. I love two year olds...life is full of all kinds of cute moments!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Boys and Cars

I don't know what it is in the male genes in this house...but my oldest two boys have competition and a desire to be first coursing through their veins. I think this has to be from their dad because although I like competition, and like to win, it is not a requirement for me to participate in an activity!

Last week was the annual cub scout Pinewood Derby. Ryan thought it would be cool to make a "canoe" car. So that is where it began. There is a very fierce streak of competition in his blood. It has been something that has been a concern for me as his mom, from pretty early on as it could potentially affect his life negatively. He and I play games all the time as an attempt to "practice" having fun even when we don't win. To be honest, I don't really feel like too much progress has been made in that area, but he likes to play games and we continue to practice playing for fun.

That brings us to last week. His car ran in the second heat. That first run for the car is always the moment of truth...after all that time shaping, sanding, staining/painting and waiting for it all to dry, the time has come. Can the car actually race?

Ryan's did...he won the heat! I am not sure if his car has won ANY heats in the past. His goal has always been a cool design and he has been pretty good at being okay if it didn't get top times. But this year...it won the first heat so hopes were set high right from the start. The problem was, the computer program wasn't set up right and it didn't record properly. Since they were only in the second heat, they fixed the problem with the program and started all over again. Second heat time again and Ryan's cars races...THIRD in the heat. AUGH! I have to
admit, I was pretty disappointed too!
There were quite a few heats that his car won so if we are looking at year to year improvements, his car ROCKED! The final standings put the little canoe in 6th out of 31 so it wasn't too shabby! He was pretty surprised when Grandpa arrived to watch the races too since he didn't realize I had invited him to come.

There were a few tears, but after the disappointment at the start, I can't say I blame him. It is always a learning experience and I was pretty proud of how he dealt with his feelings. His car did win the vote for "Best Car That Isn't A Car", defending his title from last year when his "bobsled" car won the same award.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kitchen Love: Step One

Funny to put the word "love" along with the word kitchen. At least for me. Most of the time, I am looking for ways to spend as little time as possible in that room of the house. In the busy years of raising a family, I have found this is not a plan that works for me since homemaking includes a lot of kitchen activities. I am a creative person and use those talents in every other area of my life but for some reason when I walk into the kitchen it is like I have a total brain freeze.

Always admiring people who love to cook and plan wonderful meals for their families, I come up a little short in my enthusiasm for the "food" part of my job. So, I am working on the idea of loving my kitchen. Step one: David and I both got $50 gift cards to Kohls for Christmas and I waited until they sent out their next round of coupons (which was a great idea because WOO HOO: 30% off!) We agreed we would find a set of cookware we could both be excited about and combine our gift cards.

So, here it is...its red. How cheerful, as a first step to change in my kitchen, this bright new addition. Back in, oh...probably 2000 I had a Pampered Chef party and earned their great set of cookware for half price. The set has served me well but as pieces have worn out, they don't sell the ones I need to replace in their open stock so I have supplemented with other pieces. I haven't had a 2 quart sauce pan since 2005 when after a rice cooking incident mine was scorched unmercifully. I tried everything to salvage what was left of the bottom of the pan but it really was hopeless. Needless to say, that has been somewhat inconvenient.

I will keep the family sized skillet and stove top wok because I make probably 5 out of 7 meals a week with those and the new set doesn't have an equivalent. I was also THILLED to find out that my steamer insert from the old Pampered Chef set fits nicely into two different sizes of the new pans. That was the one thing that we were hesitant about when we were looking at this set. I use the steamer insert all the time!

The little bonus was what they call the one egg wonder pan. David took it out of the box and immediately thought it would be best used as part of the toy kitchen set the kids play with downstairs! (I put my phone next to it when I snapped the picture to show the comparison...it is TINY!) It really is a one egg wonder! I am sure that during this time of our life it will be used the least of all of the pieces. I am looking forward to handing my honey an egg sandwich as he walks out the door for work in the morning. Talk about minimal clean up!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grandma Johnson's Scones

These are not MY Grandma Johnson's scones. I was searching today for a few easy recipes for breakfast goodies to surprise my children. Allrecipe.com is my favorite place to start when searching for good recipes. The spinner app for the IPhone is pretty cool and I use it a lot to figure out how to use the ingredients already in the pantry.

Scones are not my favorite. They seem a little on the dry side to me, although they aren't too bad with a good cup of coffee! But, when I saw the recipe for "Grandma Johnson's Scones" I had to try them since my Grandma Johnson had some pretty great recipes and it made me a little sentimental. It was a very quick recipe! I substituted chocolate chips instead of raisins because the only raisins in the house were individual little snack boxes and I didn't feel like opening enough of them to get a cup. They aren't the prettiest but not bad for my first attempt.

I ate breakfast cereal every weekday morning growing up, so I assumed that my children would be perfectly happy to have the same. Each morning they ask in hopeful anticipation "what's for breakfast"? One of my goals for this year is to come up with a few other breakfast options because well, I love my kids and it is fun to find ways to get them excited when they wake up in the morning. Along with that, I am also trying this year to become more "at one" with my kitchen. As a homemaker, my kitchen needs to be more like my office than a place where I try to spend the least amount of time possible. It isn't an efficient room right now, but trying to find the best way to set it up so it works for me is a goal that has moved to the top of my list.

The kids will be pretty pumped to have chocolate chip scones in the morning! I can't wait to surprise them!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Master of Transfer - Mommy Bonus!

The one day this week we were planning on going out of the house is of course the day of the winter weather advisory with blowing and drifting snow. Matthew was extremely excited to be able to walk with his boots in the snow so it was a highlight for him.

Unfortunately, on the way back home after lunch, he fell asleep. Although he has always been able to transfer from his car seat to his bed and stay sleeping (unlike any of his siblings), I knew this would not be a successful attempt with all of the winter gear to get off of him!

Mommy Bonus! Once I had unbuckled and gotten him out, he was still sleeping! Although a slow process, I was able to get all of his winter things off and snuggled into his bed still sleeping! It is always great to be able to enjoy a full naptime. It looks like winter has truly arrived in Iowa and at least for today, that is okay!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Here We Go Again...

It has begun...what should be my last potty training experience. A little bit of excitement is lying there behind the doom I always feel as the adventure of potty training begins.

I have been thinking and talking about starting with Matt for some time now since he talks a lot about the toilet and has both pooped and peed on the toilet already. This morning he asked if he could have big boy underpants and I really couldn't tell him no.

Dare I get a little excited that for the last 2 1/2 hours he has been totally successful - dry pants and pee in the toilet. I would LOVE to have an "easy one" this time. I have had some of each, but only one that was truly easy.

There is not a single pull up in the house which I think is a good thing. Pull ups have sabotaged many a potty training attempt in my past. They are too much like diapers. For one of the older kids, it wasn't until there was pee in the big kid underwear and they were uncomfortably wet that there was an understanding of what needed to be avoided. The pull ups were too absorbent and a little too comfortable even when wet. It only took one accident in that case and the training was complete.

Matt is pretty smart. Unless he gets it into his head that he can "control" the situation with his decision to go in the toilet or go in his pants (one of his other siblings did just that), it will be fine.

Monday, January 9, 2012

O Christmas Tree

I informed the kids yesterday that when they got home from school today, the tree and the Christmas decorations would be down. I have learned through the years that in order for a smooth transition from the Christmas season into the rest of the winter, it is best that I give them a warning.

Stacey and Matthew spent some time looking at the lights and ornaments for one last time and playing with the nativity after breakfast. It was sweet to watch them in their own way "say goodbye" to Christmas before leaving for school.

This is a hard Christmas to say good bye to for me too. I think that as the kids get older and I try to keep up with the activities and events of our lives, time just passes like a whirlwind. It gives a new meaning to what God says about our lives being but a breath. I sure am feeling it lately. It seems like we just put the tree up and I don't feel like I had time to sit and ponder. I like to ponder at Christmas...I mean, Mary pondered the greatness of God and all that He is, even though she didn't fully understand the whole picture from her side of the cross. It gets me to thinking what is it that I really understand when I think of the fullness of God and who He is? I need to ponder too and Christmas is one of those times when I make more time than normal to just sit in His presence in the wee hours of the morning when the twinkle lights seem to cozy up the house with a little extra warmth. It just went by way too fast for me.

So, maybe I will just have to make 2012 a year of pondering, finding those moments when He whispers to me in the stillness...it may not be all about sadness, this may just be the beginning of a new dimension of relating. Whatever it is, I am going to get this tree down today and look forward to the opportunities of 2012!

Friday, January 6, 2012

January in Iowa

Yes, it is January. The children got home from school and I sent them out the door. How strange to only have an hour of daylight after school to play when we are outside without coats! The last couple of days have been strange.

I am the "hibernating" type. I like winter, all of the cozy activities that it brings. I get caught up on scrapbook pages, knitted dishcloths and all the other fun crafts that I like to do when it is too cold to do anything else outside. I sure don't need tulips and other buds coming out in January thinking it is spring!

I find myself in a confused state as I watch my children playing outside at this time of the year, especially since they aren't building snow forts and snowmen! To get myself into the winter spirit, I made myself some hot chocolate to enjoy, even at 60 degrees! The kids were pretty thrilled to enjoy some too!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Just What IS An Emergency, Anyway?

2012...day two (as he calls it on his calendar). 4:30 p.m. and Zach is doubled over in pain. He has had episodes like this before and so I waited a little bit but then thought it would be best to take him in and see what this might be. The word "appendix" always seems to come up in conversation with David during these times. Off we went to the urgent care clinic. They took one look at him and told us to go to the ER. They too were afraid it was appendix and knew they would be wasting time without the proper equipment there to diagnose.

Poor boy...can't even stand up and out we go again to the car. He tries to walk because he tells me it hurts worse when I pick him up. After a 45 minute wait with a pager, we get checked into the ER and were told it would take 2 HOURS to get him in to a doctor (said as though that is perfectly acceptable I will also add). Meanwhile he is crying, moaning and yelling out in pain disturbing all of those who are in the waiting room watching the Rose Bowl!

I was trying really hard not to judge, but what IS the definition of an EMERGENCY anyway, as they shot me dirty looks. In this case it seemed to be first come, first served which would work for most any of the situations I saw, people laughing, talking about the game, watching their clock annoyed with the wait.

I had a 5 year old child in excruciating pain and the poor thing was made to sit in a waiting room for TWO HOURS! He gets the bravery award in my book. He was so exhausted from being tense and hurting that when we finally did get him in a room, the look on his face was priceless when he saw there was a bed and a pillow! I gingerly helped him up and as soon as his head hit the pillow he balled himself up in the fetal position where he had a little relief and he fell right to sleep. The doctor had to wake him to take a look at him.

The doctor did the right thing coming into the room embarrassed that it had take so long. As he looked Zach over I could tell that he was not happy that Zach had been made to wait that long hurting so bad. When all was said and done I was so relieved to find out that it was not his appendix. Who knew that a bad case of constipation could be such a terrible ordeal. I can't imagine how much worse it would have to be for someone to have compassion on a 5 year old and move him to the front of the line. I actually think there were a couple in the waiting room that would have let him go ahead of them!