Monday, February 28, 2011

The Result of Sleep Deprivation + Cold Medication

Today while pumping, I spotted a little black ball of sock fuzz on my bedroom floor.  I sat with my eyes heavy and my chin resting in my palm, just staring at the fuzz.  Then it started to move.  Things started to blur, and the fuzz gained thin little legs and antennae.  Despite intense blinking, rubbing and raising of eyebrows, things blurred more and the fuzz started changing size and shape.  "It's a sock fuzz, dummy!"  I kept telling myself, yet my brain insisted it was some bug creature that only existed in my imagination because it had legs like an insect and moved like a worm.  Unfortunately, I see myself catching up on 0 hours of sleep in the near future.  At least I might get some mediocre entertainment out of it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Racheal Ray, eat your heart out! Or, just eat my meat loaf.

My first meat loaf, and it was delicious!  Nothing like your mystery meat school meat loaf.  It was so good, I can't get the lyrics, "I made meat loaf and I liked it....", after Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl, out of my head.

I'm not a huge meat loaf fan, but this recipe sounded different and delish (and then is was), so I thought I'd share.  Sorry, I don't have a picture because I didn't realize this meal would be blog-worthy until after it was eaten (twice, first right out of the oven and then again today for lunch.)  But who am I kidding, my camera s-u-c-k's and I wouldn't have a good picture of it anyway.

I got this recipe out of my new favorite cookbook, 1001 Short, Easy, Inexpensive Recipes.  I'm giving you the recipe, but know that where it says "2/3 cup", I see "dump some in."  That's something that Rachael Ray and I have in common, so just call me a professional chef J Plus, Cory doesn't like mushrooms so instead of cream of mushroom soup I used cream of celery.  Weird sounding maybe, but don't you remember how delicious I said this was!

Delicious Meat Loaf
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
2/3 cup dry Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 (10oz) can of condensed mushroom soup, divided
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter

--I added--
1/2 lb sausage to 1 lb ground beef (instead of 1 1/2 lbs beef)
a squirt of mayo (probably 2 tablespoons, I don't know)
a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese (close to 1/2 cup maybe)

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Combine beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, half mushroom soup, eggs, mayo and Parmesan in bowl and mix thoroughly.  Shape firmly into 8x4 inch loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes (I had to bake mine longer, maybe +15-30 minutes...I didn't really keep track.)  Mix butter, remaining soup and 1/4 cup water in small saucepan, heat thoroughly and serve sauce over meat loaf.  Serves 6-8.

1001 Short, Easy, Inexpensive Recipes

After reading over the recipe and all of my additions, it's a surprise it turned out so great.  I didn't know how much I didn't pay attention to.  Haha.  Hopefully it's good for you too, but to be safe you can just close your eyes while you cook and that way you'll surely be as precise as I was.

Friday, February 25, 2011

NASA's Newest Scientist

Finally Cade has an obsession that doesn’t involve four tires, a race track and the word, “VROOOOM!!!!”  His latest focus: outer space.  Particularly space storms.  Granted, he still races and crashes his Hotwheels and creates chaos in our living room, but at least every other question or story he has now is about something different than how his cars wrecked or who got first! 

When he gets interested in something, he doesn’t hold back.  He keeps asking if Jupiter’s storm is in the same spot and if any other planets have storms and we can’t send astronauts to those planets because of the storms and how are the storms made and….well you get the picture!  I don’t know why storms are his main focus besides the fact that he’s always been interested in the weather segment of the news and asked a million questions about an almost-tornado storm and the historic floods we had last year.  

And FYI, there’s a severe lack of information about space storms on a Google search!  The only explanation I can give him about space storms is that they really aren’t that different than Earth storms, but that’s a complete assumption on my part.  I truly have no idea, so if someone knows more about this topic, educate me!  Haha moving on!!

Recently we signed up for a library card (something I’ve wanted to do for years, but just never got around to it) and “outer space” was the first thing I searched their online catalog for.  I currently have holds requested on five books and one DVD.  A Bill Nye the Science Guy DVD to be exact.  I’m excited for that one J

This site has a cool game where you can “make a planet” and Cade’s had a ton of fun with that.  We’ve also found a few rocket and shuttle launch videos on YouTube and he loves those.  The last launch of the Discovery shuttle (Thursday, Feb 24 at 3:50 pm) was perfect timing!  But of course, I reminded myself all day to turn to CNN around 3:45, but got distracted until 3:56.  “Mother of the Year” award right here.  Thankfully they showed multiple clips and we watched it again and again and again and again online.  He loved knowing that the astronauts were going into space RIGHT THAT SECOND and asked a lot of questions.  It was the first thing he told yelled to Cory as soon as he walked through the door stepped onto our porch J 

It’s exciting that he’s so into it and I’m trying to learn more too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Milkin' Mamas: Special Delivery!

This is part three of my breast milk donation journey!  You can read part one here and part two here.

Farewell breast milk!  Your mission: go make babies strong!  FedEx came yesterday to take away my breast milk.  I have bittersweet emotions.  I had a mini panic attack actually.  It just hit me that I haven't needed to put any breast milk into the freezer for weeks.  I used to fill a storage bag (6 oz) about every other day but recently I've been using all of what I've been pumping whether in a bottle or when making baby food.  I've stayed ahead of how much Brynlee is eating each day, but I haven't had extra.  Why does this make me nervous?  Well, I'm fearing now that I'm going to get rid of all of what I have stored and then a month from now I'm going to need it.

Then I started packing the cooler for my donation shipment and I promptly realized I'll never need that much.  In fact, I still have enough left for ANOTHER donation.  Brynlee has been slowly eating less and less breast milk and more and more regular food.  She went from eating almost 30 oz a day to about 20 oz a day.  And I'm still producing a couple ounces more than what she's eating each time I pump.  So we're good.

Here's what FedEx sat on my porch last week.

Holy hell that's a big box!  I mean, I'm not sure what I was expecting.  Actually, I know what I was expecting and it was a small cooler like one you can carry on a shoulder strap, but I don't know why I had such off the mark expectations.  For crying out loud my entire freezer can barely hold a bag of frozen peas, how did I think I was going to ship 150 oz of breast milk in a shoulder cooler?!?  Anyway, this was what was inside.

Honestly, it didn't seem like much room inside with the thick Styrofoam walls but it was fine.  I'm beginning to realize that I have "visulization" issues.

Inside was some paperwork and also two big ice packs that had to freeze for a minimum of 48 hours.  Milkin' Mamas sent me a 25-pack of storage bags so I can keep pumping for donation and more directions and reminders of the guidelines I have to follow.  There were also picture directions of how to pack the cooler which was nice, even though it may seem like a no-brainer, you're really dealing with precious cargo so you want to make sure you're doing it right!  Can you imagine NOT doing it right and getting a phone call saying all of your donation was spoiled or something equally as distressing upon delivery?!?  Hopefully now I don't have nightmares about that! 

The directions say to call FedEx the day before you want to schedule your pick-up.  Well, I called yesterday around 3:15 and the lady said they could pick it up that night.  I guess as long as you schedule it before 4:00 PM, they can pick it up and ship it overnight, which is obviously extremely important!  So, I quickly threw in an ice pack, 30 bags (180 oz) of my frozen stash, the second ice pack and my donor number paper.  One last look at all my hard work and a bittersweet goodbye then I taped the box closed and attached the prepaid label.  Ready for delivery!  I was amazed that I still have over 100 oz left in my freezer.  I think I'll be requesting another cooler this week. 

I kinda wish I got pictures of all the little babies that I'll be feeding.  You know, like those commercials that show kids in other countries and say that you can send money to help them and you'll get a picture and story about the kids in return.  I know Prolacta and Milkin' Mamas are reputable companies and I trust them, but I kinda feel like I'm lacking closure.  My heart goes out to those tiny little babies and their families and I'm just so thankful for my own two strong, healthy children.  Really, we don't even know how lucky we truly are!  I only hope to keep going strong with my production and pumping schedule so that I can keep donating! 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pick Me Up Monday: I love my babies!

Yeah, as I've said before, SAHM get the Monday Blues too!  I saw this idea at Baby Dickey and knew I had to do it too!  Here's my pick-me-up photos.  I actually have two because unfortunately we don't have a super good picture with both kids in the hospital when Brynlee was born.

I chose pictures from Brynlee's birth for a couple reasons.  1) I'm starting to put together photo books for the kids' birthdays in July, so I rediscovered these just this morning.  2) I've had baby fever ever since Brynlee was born (bring on #3!!) and I love thinking back on when she was born.  She just turned 7 months on Saturday (the 19th) and she's getting her first tooth and has been sitting on her own for a long time and is starting to eat more and more finger foods and I'm having a mini melt down over it all!!!!  --DEEEEP BREATH!-- 

So anyway, these are my Pick Me Up Monday pictures because they just make me smile!  I love my babies J

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Bathroom Drama

Remember THIS:

If you read this post you do.  I believe I ended that story, of my husband demolishing our bathroom ceiling and pouring water out of the exhaust and chopping excess tubing with, "most times everything works out just fine...I hope I don’t eat my words."  I'm eating them.  I'm feasting on them actually.  It's an all you can eat buffet.  In other words, our exhaust, if used in its proper manner, will most likely set our house on fire.

For example, as I was drying my hair after a nice, hot, steamy, relaxing shower, I hear a pop and see an orange ember fall carelessly from the ceiling.  FAAAAAANTASTIC!  "Why, WHY, WWWHHHHYYYY is this happening???"  I interrogate my husband.  My handy-dandy "fix it" man.  "Oh, um, crap, well, must have been the water I poured out.  I mean, I think maybe some of it got into the motor, possibly...maybe..."

Ooooh, okay.  I get it.  Completely understandable...  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?  You THINK water MIGHT have gotten into the MOTOR and you never thought to maybe NOT plug it back in to suggest that it can and should be used in the manner that it is intended to be used?!?  Needless to say the exhaust has been unplugged.  We now tolerate a steam covered mirror and cold drafts from the bathroom door being left open during showers.  FIRE EXTINGUISHERS are boldly written in all caps on our shopping list marker board right under NEW EXHAUST FAN!

Sometimes I wonder about my husband.  Can't live without him, and we might all die with him.  But we love him! J

Thursday, February 17, 2011

So, how bout that weather?!?

I’m so totally over winter.  I’m tired of stuffy noses.  Dry skin.  Dry hair.  Cold feet.  Indoor activities.  Short days.  Icy roads.  Heating bills.  And now on the list, ear infections as I had to pick up my son from school because he was crying in pain.

I’m ready to go for walks. Wake up to the sun.  Play in the parks.  Go swimming.  Let fresh air come in the windows.  Celebrate my kids’ birthdays.  I’m ready for the green to come back!  I love that first warm day.  That first sign of spring.  I always put on some old school Jack Johnson (think, Bubble Toes) and drive with my windows down. 

I have somewhat of a weird feeling towards writing about the weather.  Like, I have nothing else interesting to say so, “How bout that weather!”  But lately it’s just gotten me so excited, I couldn’t resist!  Spring is my most favoritest season ever ever ever!  Today was definitely a Jack Johnson day.  Not so much green as it is brown, but hey at least it’s not so white anymore!  It’s also not midnight black at dinner time.  Okay, enough with the color descriptions.

Something came in the mail a few weeks ago that spiked my anticipation.  It gave me hope that the cold will soon be gone.  We got Cade’s registration for soccer!  Just the thought of sitting outside in lawn chairs at the edge of a tiny little soccer field, hearing happy, carefree screams from the kids running around chasing a ball makes my heart smile J  It’s a close-your-eyes-and-imagine moment.  He starts practice the first week of April.  Less than TWO months! 

Plus, the groundhog didn’t see his shadow, so spring is almost here right?!?  I’m not sure if I correctly understand that theory but anyway, the heat wave in the Midwest this week sure does suggest that an early spring is headed our way.  In true Midwestern fashion, I’m sure there will be one last snow storm before the May flowers show their little faces but for now, I’m elated! J

I just hope I’m not speaking too soon.  I know it’s forecasted to snow/rain/make more mud this weekend, but just remember Mother Nature: karma’s a bitch!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Household Tips

Rachael Ray had a “tip” themed show today with great tips ranging from how to start your own business to how to make a memory chair out of stuffed animals.  I love love LOVE learning all about things like this and I love it even more when I can actually implement them to better my own life.

So, I decided to compile my own "household tip" list.  I'm no pro with years of experience under my belt, but I do have two kids and am crazy about cleaning and organization.  Most of these might seem completely lame or make you say, “….DUH!  You think that’s a ‘brilliant’ idea??”  Well, to me it is.  And some of these I only know about because I believe I thought of it myself (meaning, I didn’t see it on the Internet or hear about it from someone else) or because my mom did it.  I just want to share and hey, how am I suppose to know if you already know about it or not?

  • Secure a cleaning rag to a specific cleaner with a rubber band to avoid “cross clean-tamination” J
  • To help with stuck or baked on food on a cookie sheet (or something similar that you can’t easily soak), lay a wash cloth with hot soapy water on it on top of the cookie sheet and let it set for several minutes.  I love the special cleaners that you spray on, let sit, then simply wipe away, but they aren’t advised for nonstick surfaces.
  • Keep a small basket with baby diapering essentials in every major room of your house so you don’t have to trudge up (or down) stairs to the changing table every time baby needs a change.  I also keep Q-tips, travel sized lotions and baby powder and disinfecting hand wipes there too.
  • Hang a small (locker sized) marker board on the door of your pantry or a cabinet in your kitchen to keep a shopping list.
  • This isn’t uniquely my idea, but I’m always buying storage containers to hold all sorts of things that aren’t easily organized.  I always had piles of things on my closet shelves that don’t stack nicely and fall all over the place (like light bulb packages, battery packages, cleaning supplies, medicines, bathroom supplies, etc.)  I’m not sure why it took me so long to automatically buy storage containers that I can shove all those things into and STACK on the shelves.  Seems like a no-brainer, but I guess I needed several reminders, so count this as another one for you!
  • Keep a “family binder” with sections for recipes/weekly menus/takeout menus, your budget, event invitations and each family member to keep specific information like health records, school information, activity information, etc.  If you go out and have a babysitter often, you can have a section for them too with emergency phone numbers, kids’ schedules, important Do’s and Don’ts and any other information you need them to have.  I actually got this idea from another great blogger (Sister’s Stuff).
  • These are essential items that I always keep packed in my suitcase.  Items that you seem to always need, yet regularly forget when traveling!  Plus, I don’t have to run around the house rounding up everything during those stressful packing times!  It helps to shorten the “To-Do” & “DON’T FORGET!” lists so much when leaving for a weekend.  Also, it cuts down on crazy unpacking moments when everyone gets home tired and cranky.  Everything has come in handy at least once!
      • an extra (cheap!) baby monitor set
      • a night light
      • an extra phone charger
      • extra bath/toiletry items (I just have a bunch of travel-sized containers that I always refill.  Then, I don’t have to pack my originals or dry them off after showering that morning!  I also put my old, but still working, hair straightener in there so I don’t have to wait for mine to cool before I pack it.)
      • a lint roller
      • plastic grocery sacks
      • diapers or Pull-ups (I did this with Pull-ups when I stopped using a diaper bag with my son.)
  • Put snacks (like crackers or fruit and cereal bars) in a small Tupperware container in the diaper bag so you never forget to leave the house with a snack AND you aren’t trying to feed your toddler animal cracker crumbs because they got smashed at the bottom of the bag.  Another snack tip, for variety to help keep your child happy while waiting: have a “trail mix” snack in a Tupperware container.  Trail mix ideas: marshmallows, Cheerios or other cereal, raisins, peanuts, Rainbow Goldfish, pretzels, fruit snacks.
  • Another diaper bag tip: Have lots of small items falling to the bottom of your diaper bag?  Go to the cosmetics section of your favorite drug store and buy a small makeup bag to hold all those items.  Things I keep in my bag: pen, travel size diaper rash cream, Orajel, chapstick, hand sanitizer, fingernail clippers, tweezers, Tide pen, Infant Tylenol, Infant laxative drops, small tube of Aquaphor, all those extra alcohol wipes you never used on your infant’s umbilical cord.
  • My children’s doctor’s office has great little books that they record your child’s stats and shots at each doctor’s visit.  My friend commented that she wished her daughter’s doctor’s office did that.  So, it’s not technically my idea, but it’s a good one!  So get a little Memo notebook to record this information and keep it in that handy dandy bag I suggested in tip #10. J
  • Have a lot of your children’s precious artwork, but out of fridge space?  Take pictures of the “best” and at your child’s birthday, make a photo book (like one from with all the pictures of their artwork from that year.  I also keep some of Cade’s most special drawings or crafts and store them in a storage tub in his closet.
  • Okay, another weird one, but it took me 4 years to think of it, so maybe I can shed a few years off for you if it applies.  My kids sleep with fans on to create white noise (blame my husband for starting this habit because now WE sleep with a fan too.)  When Cade was a baby, we always had the problem of the fan circulating too much air in his room, making it chilly.  It hit me when we had Brynlee, to put the fan in the doorway (we have a plug-in behind the door) so it blows right out of the room.  Then, when we’re not using it, we store it behind the door.  We have tower fans so they fit back there nicely.
  • For those of you who love to have you kids help you cook (or don’t love it because of the mess) this tip is from a cook book from my husband’s grandma.  Putting salt on a raw egg that’s been spilled on the floor and you can sweep it up with a broom.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Milkin' Mamas: "Conditionally Qualified" Donor!

I’m officially a “conditionally qualified” breast milk donor!  I had always thought about doing it, even before my daughter was born.  I think it’s an amazing thing for breast feeding mothers to do if they can.  Well, when my daughter was about 4 months old, I realized I could!  Read this post about why I needed to donate my breast milk!  I started the process late last year, starting with research, looking for milk banks in my area and just answering some of my questions.  I found the website Milkin’ Mamas and bookmarked it.  I kept going back to it to read the FAQ and learn more about their process, etc.  Then, I saw this tweet and I was sold.  I emailed Milkin’ Mamas right then. 

They were great.  I received a reply from them in less than 24 hours.  First, I had to answer a few preliminary questions (my name, my baby’s age, do I smoke, have I ever lived in Europe…just the basics J).  I passed.

Next I was contacted by Prolacta Bioscience.  Prolacta uses donated breast milk to make 100% human milk fortifier and standardized human milk.  That milk is given to critically ill and premature babies.  The minimum donation is 100 ounces but they will obviously take more if you have it.  You might be thinking, “Whoa!  100 oz!  Who has an extra 100 oz of breast milk?!?”  I did.  I had 200 oz extra.  Just call me Super Lactate Woman. 

Prolacta had another form for me to fill out.  How much information do these people need?  I’m only donating precious breast milk that will feed incredibly fragile babies.  Apparently this is a serious business J  Anyway, next I received an email with forms for my doctor and Brynlee’s pediatrician to sign.  In the mail I got a little kit with a thermometer to test my freezer, vials for the blood test, DNA test swabs and of course more instructions and forms.  The kit also contained prepaid FedEx shipping packages.  I had to report my freezer temperature (-4 degrees Fahrenheit) and verify my donor “code” via email and after that information was confirmed, a nurse from ExamOne Lab called me to set up an appointment for her to come to my house for a blood draw.  The day before the blood draw I contacted FedEx to arrange a pick-up for my two packages (the blood samples and DNA samples.)

I continued to pump and store my milk like usual during the entire qualifying process.  I had to check my freezer temperature every now and then just to make sure it was staying at a safe temperature.  I also made sure I was following the guidelines that they require.  They sent a lovely letter, with the greeting, “Hello Beautiful Mama” J, that outlined all of them.  I think I’m more attentive to how I take care of myself now than I was when I was just providing for Brynlee, but it’s supposed to be that way; Brynlee is strong, healthy and thriving and my donated milk will be going to very premature, disadvantaged babies.  It’s just crucial to be extra careful.

Milkin’ Mamas notified me when my doctor and Brynlee’s pediatrician sent the medical forms back (they don’t require medical records, just a signature from the doctors to confirm that I don’t have any health issues and that Brynlee is developing normally.)  After receiving the results from my blood test (again, I passed J), I was considered a “conditionally qualified” donor while my DNA profile was being created.  I was on my way to milk donation!  I let them know how many ounces I currently had ready to donate, whether or not I was going to be an ongoing donor (I said yes!) and if so if I needed collection bags.  Isn’t that great, not only do I not have to pay one cent for any of this (the blood tests, the shipping, the special in-home visit from the nurse) but if I’m going to be an ongoing donor I don’t have to buy my own storage bags either!

So far, the entire process has taken about a month.  I know it didn’t have to take that long but of course, life happens and there were several speed bumps on my end; lack of free time, problems with scheduling the nurse’s visit due to weather, printer malfunctions, etc.  There was never a delay on Milkin’ Mama’s end of things.  This company is just all around great.  They are working for an incredibly good cause and they take care of the people who decide to work with them.  They have been nothing but supportive, kind, generous….everything honorable people should be!

I can’t wait to receive the coolers and send them my liquid gold!  Not only because we had another issue today with putting away our freezer groceries J, but also because I can’t wait to know that I’ve helped a child in desperate need.  I can’t wait to lift at least a little bit of the burden off a vulnerable mother’s shoulders.  The crazy freezer stock is so totally worth having to buy one less bag of frozen broccoli (and plus, it keeps the stuff we don’t need – think ice cream and popsicles – at the grocery store!) J

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cade's Screen Time Makeover

I’m always looking for ways to satisfy my urge to organize.  My son is the focus of my latest mission.  I posted a few days ago about my quest for a new rewards chart and system for limiting my son’s TV and video game time.  Well, I found it.  I created the ultimate system for doing just that.  At least I think so and my son’s pretty pumped too.

I searched websites (especially this one) for different ideas and tips.  I had a very complex idea, too complex for a preschooler, and simplified it so that he can easily learn and use our new system.  Cade loves numbers and is learning more and more math skills so I incorporated that into tracking his screen time.  We bought him his own timer and made him somewhat responsible for setting his own limits.  I have faith in this approach because for one, kids love feeling in charge and responsible for their own well-being and two, it will help teach him self-control, time management and responsibility.  Inadvertently, he’s also learning some reading and math skills too!  He thinks it’s awesome.

Here’s a look and our new and improved, super duper rewards system:

Let me explain my madness.  Really, all I changed about the first system was the addition of the first page ("Cade's Activities") and new daily goals (chores) to better fit his age and abilities.  I'm thinking about adding new rewards, but for right now we have quite a few and he still loves all of them.  As you can see, there are 12 columns on the "Activities" page, each titled "10", standing for 10 minutes.  Cade gets 120 minutes of TOTAL screen time in one day.  (Right now, we're not counting the TV that we watch as a family in the evenings because it was the time he was spending glued to cartoons or Wii games, without social interactions, that was becoming an issue.  We watch family friendly shows with him and talk with him throughout those shows so it's somewhat of a conversation starter and learning opportunity.  I know, I know...that time SHOULD be counted too, but little steps people, little steps!)  Okay, moving on...

Cade gets to decide how his 120 minutes of screen time is divided (but he still asks for permission before snatching the remote.)  He's learning how to count by 10's in order to track this (sometimes to make it easier we just count the marks that he makes in each square and then his limit is "12" marks = 120 minutes.)  He's also learning that if one row (TV time or video game time) is full, he can't have any time in the other row.  Haha.  Sometimes that bothers him, but mostly because he's obsessive about "completing" things and doesn't like the empty spaces.  Also he has brief feelings of being cheated out of some of his allotted time when there are empty spaces, but then we just count the marks and I say, "12 is 12!  That's your limit!"  Then I encourage him to look at the listed "great things to do" activities to help fill his time and keep him having tons-o-fun instead of pouting on the couch.  Before, I would just spout out orders and threats, "Go look at the hundreds of books you have!  Play with your millions of cars!  I'll just have to tell Santa that you don't like your toys and that he doesn't have to bring any new ones next year!"  Now, he sees that he's met his limit and it's not me just telling him.  He doesn't hear "NO, you can't watch more cartoons!" when he sees that, "YES, I did get my time!"  And now when he's encouraged to try another activity that's listed on his sheet, I hear, "Okay!"  VoilĂ !

See, visualizing duties, responsibilities, limits, just makes it more fun!  And easier! J

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Happiest Place On Earth? Not To My Kid!

Cade came into our room last night because of a bad dream.  He told me all about it this morning and remarked at how "real" it seemed.  "Yeah," I said, "sometimes dreams do seem very real.  But you know that they aren't."

"But, there's a place where dreams do come true!  I saw it on TV!!"

"Inception?" I thought, "We did just watch that.  And IMPRESSIVE that he understood the concept of that movie!!!"

Nope.  My child is not a genius, with the mental capacity of an adult.  It was much more uncomplicated than that actually.  He'd simply seen a commercial for this place:

Way to go Disney, for filling my child with the fear that the monsters and horrible storms that he dreams about could actually come to life.  We may never get to enjoy a family vacation to your wonderful World. 

Luckily, Cade did have the ability to understand my explanation of what the phrase, "dreams come true" really means.  Haha!! J

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ultimate Slacker!

I could possibly win an award for America’s Ultimate Slacker tonight.  Ok, maybe not the ultimate slacker.  First, let me show you the “dinner” that I’m eating right now:

My son’s dinner: PB&J, a banana and some milk.  He was lucky to get that.  My husband's: one of his protein shakes (he's part of a strenuous workout class right now) and chips and salsa.  At least my daughter ate well.  A thawed cube of sweet potato zucchini and some breast milk! J 

The reason I’m posting this is because I started my morning reading another blog post about the “perfect mother” and have thought all day about why mothers find it necessary to criticize each other.  Every move I made today, I thought, “What would another mother think of this?” or “I wonder how many other mother’s have done this exact same thing.”  I wasn’t getting down on myself.  Just curious thoughts. 

I think going from a working mom to a stay-at-home mom, I really set the bar high for what I wanted to do around the house and with the kids.  But even stay-at-home moms don't have perfectly clean houses or get dinner on the table every night.  And I'm slowly beginning to be okay with that.  So what's really important?  Slacker or not, I’m a pretty great mom.  Some days I’ll doubt that, but today isn’t one of those days.  Besides, isn’t it more fun to just let loose sometimes.  Who wants dessert before dinner? J

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thank God It's...Friday? What's that?

TGIF!  Wahoo!  The last day of the work week!  Weekend here I come.  Two full days of no work replaced by relaxation!  I know exactly how I’m going to spend it.  I’m going to sleep in late, watch TV in bed, order pizza for lunch at 2:00 in the afternoon, shower whenever I want for however long I want, then maybe call some friends to figure out “the plan” for the evening.

Hold up.  You mean to tell me that I’m going to be doing the same things during the weekend that I do during the week?  I’m not going to get a break?  I STILL have to fix food at normal eating times and pick up toys and play make believe and help kids get back to sleep in the middle of the night but still wake up at the crack of dawn?

Oh that’s right, because I’m a mom.  Back to reality.

My husband asked me this morning if it sucks that I don’t have a real “Friday” because I stay at home.  Eh.  Not really.  I still have that “TGIF!!!!!” feeling and the I get the “Monday blues.”  I don’t know why exactly because sometimes my husband even works weekends, so really it is exactly the same as the week.  But I love my job.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Kudos to all you Mommies (and Daddies) out there who sacrifice it all for their little bundles of joy.  You have the most important job in the world, and it's amazing!  But take some time for yourself this weekend, even if it means locking yourself in your bathroom for 30 minutes to enjoy a facial and hot shower.  Why don't you go ahead and sing in there while you're at it.  J

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Look Into My Parenting Philosophy

It's been very busy around my house for the past, oh 6 months.  My daughter was born and my son went crazy.  I'm not sure if he's jealous of her, or annoyed that he's not the only child anymore or if his behavior can all be blamed on his age.  And gender!  I'm sure it's a combination of all of that.  The past 6 months was a rough transition for my husband and I so why wouldn't it be for our 4-year-old too?!?  I quit work at the childcare center where I was his preschool teacher and soon after was his last day there.  Then, he started at a new preschool with a new teacher and new friends.  He has to share the spotlight at home and learn how to act around a baby (and a sleeping baby!)  We went from two incomes to one, so we've had some stressful times because of that.  So I know it's been quite a change for him.  He loves his sister and his excess energy has never come out in violent ways, but that doesn't make his rambunctious behavior any less annoying!  And unfortunately (I'm embarrassed to admit this) we've turned to cartoons and video games, particularly Mario Kart Wii, to help us get some down time.  He loves him some screen time!

I really don't want his couch potato habits to escalate anymore, so I've been on the hunt for ideas for some sort of chart to track his screen time and give him a visual for what he's limited to.  Being a preschool teacher in my past life, I always feel the need to make lists and charts and organize things anyway I can!  It's an addiction.  I'm also big on positive reinforcement and positive discipline.  I made a "responsibility" chart for Cade about a year ago and we tracked his daily goals with some sort of stamps each day.  He had a set number of stamps to earn before he got a special reward.  He loved it and it worked wonders!  I always encourage parents with preschool or school aged children to use visuals to help get your point across or to help "train" your children to do whatever you want them to do. J  

Here's what that chart system looked like:

Everything is laminated and we used dry erase markers to make the "stamps" and write the stamp goal.  All the different rewards have a piece of Velcro on the back to attach to the Velcro dot on the "goal" sheet.  Cade loved this, but has since outgrown those goals.  He's getting old enough to have actual chores and special duties around the house so I wanted a new chart to have those.  Also, I wanted to incorporate his activities and limits on screen time somehow too.  This is where it's getting complicated.  I'm continuing my search online for ideas so I can simplify my version.  I found great ideas on this website and I'm wondering where it has been my whole life!  I love it!  It's given me wonderful inspiration and hopefully I'll have an update soon for what I come up with for a new responsibility chart that works for us.

I love this kind of stuff and I'm always trying to learn new ways to teach kids and feed my hunger for organization!  I welcome any of your ideas!  Also, I'm willing to give tips for what I've done in the past or if you'd like a downloadable form for the chart I used, I'd be willing to share that too. 
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