Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I may be the only person who is creeped out by this product, but I kind of doubt it. I actually think it's a great idea, but the execution is dreadful. The name Baby Bullet juxtaposes two incongruent words in a distasteful manner. it's derived from the sister product, the Magic Bullet but lacks the cleverness. I think making babyfood is great, and I've done it myself, but this product is so oddly presented!

A related issue is the use of cutesy smiley faces on an implement that utilizes SHARP BLADES. These same cups that are used to purée the food can also be used to feed the child, creating a positive association with the cup for the child, thereby increasing the odds of the child reaching for it when it does have blades attached. A new addition to the product line is a little steamer that cooks the fruits and veggies and can sterilize infant items, which is a nice idea too, but it also has the insipid smiley faces in conjunction with VERY HOT STEAM. It seems so inappropriate to make such dangerous items attractive to small and inquisitive people! I get the CPSC recall emails all the time, and I think this could end up in my inbox, but it probably won't since it will likely perform as it advertises.

A-man has found their marketing very effective and is convinced that we need this product with hot steam, sharp blades, and smiley faces. He also likes to remind me that "our baby can READ!" thanks to the heavy marketing of the infant reading program aimed at insecure lower middle class parents on the Sprout channel. I'm sure she could, but I'm not convinced that such early reading has any real benefits, so I'll pass. She speaks full sentences just after her 2nd birthday, so I don't worry for her language development. Although early reading would allow her to look past the cutesy faces and read the warnings in the instruction manual for the Baby Bullet!


With the season of Lent/Easter/Passover upon us, I've been doing some reading and thinking on the subject of chametz and thinking that I'm glad I'm not morally obligated to rid my home of chametz in preparation for the coming holiday because I would fail. As the wife of a Hebrew Bible prof, I have tremendous respect for the Jewish faith and admire the discipline the Jewish lifestyle requires, something often missing in the "easy-grace" tendencies among Christians. In commemoration of the Passover, the more observant Jewish people rid their homes of any grains that are not kosher specifically for Passover, grains that are fine to have in their homes any other time of year but which represent a ritual impurity during Passover. These grains might have miniscule amounts of natural leavening in them, which makes them not permissible to eat or to own. The reason for this is that God commanded Moses to tell the people to clean their homes thoroughly and to prepare unleavened bread for their Exodus from Egypt, so all grains consumed or owned during this Paschal feast must be unleavened. The cleaning and removal of chametz is actually a big inspiration for the tradition of spring cleaning, a chance for a fresh start.

My house is FULL of chametz! I have about 75lbs of grain and several containers of flour, pasta, and oats. I have small children who tend to wander a bit with their snacks, and they have left crumbs of everything in little nooks and crannies throughout the lower level. They read books at the table, and leave crumbs in them. The Jedis' backpacks often have crumbs from their leftover school snacks, crumbs which come flying out when a sweatshirt or folder is removed from the bag. The diaper bag is the same. My car is a cruddy mess of snack crumbs and french fries as well. This is pretty much the status quo, sadly.

However, some days are much worse. Take yesterday, for example. M-girl was supposed to be watching Caillou on the computer, the Jedis were playing Wii, and Dr.O' and I were getting a few minutes to talk in our room nearby. M-girl has been pretty good about leaving my bin of wheat alone, but not yesterday! She dumped several cups of wheat berries on the floor and into the computer armoire. It did not appear to have gone into any of the electronic equipment, but it made a HUGE mess! I still see bits of wheat on the floor, and I think it'll take several vacuumings. My house is sprinkled with a perpetual layer of barely visible chametz!

This gets me thinking about how the Old Testament laws, including those about chametz, were to point people to God and His holiness and to demonstrate how people can never be sinless or attain holiness on their own. God's people had to do their best with God's help and to trust that He would be faithful to His promises.

Jesus came and said that following the 10 Commandments was not enough. He said that lusting was the same sin as adultery, that hate was the same sin as murder, and that our thoughts were the seeds for these sins. But He also bridged this gap between our sinful selves and our Heavenly Father. There is spiritual chametz, clutter, and uncleanness in my life, visible and less visible. Some of it is stuff that isn't always necessarily sinful, but it also doesn't bring me closer to God or help me to serve others. I have to do what I can with the Holy Spirit's help to remove it and become more like my Lord because I owe Him an obedient heart, but I can also live in the joyful hope that these weaknesses, imperfections, and sins are covered by the blood of my Savior.

In the meantime, though, I can't help but mutter "chametz!" everytime a mess happens in my house, like a toddler playing Montessori sensory table with my wheat bin, a school-age kid spilling cereal, or my wheat grinder filter getting clogged and sending flour all over my kitchen!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

White-Knucklish Week

So we've had some nutty days again. I spoke too soon perhaps about the improvement in A-man's attitude. He was in full-throttle hostility before church and at church on Sunday. Ragingly naughty. I have lost it with him a few times but can definitely see how positive attention and the threat of losing screen time are very effective. Stay calm, Momma. Breathe and think....

After the struggle on Sunday morning, I dropped the Jedis back at the house where Dr. O' was home with a very pinkeye-gooey-green M-girl. I went to Kroger to grab some milk, newspapers for coupons, and a rotisserie chicken. In the crowded mess that is our local Kroger on a weekend, plus the confusion of the store being remodeled, my car keys became detached from the carabiner that attaches them to the rest of my keys. So I was in high-heeled boots and church clothes with no car keys, a husband at home with kids, groceries to carry, and the only car. No one could find my keys, so I prayed and went back out to my car. A nice older gentleman was in the car next to mine. I spied a purple booster seat in the back and thought, "he's a grandpa, and he's waiting for his wife! Ask him for a ride!".

I did and he was very willing and kind. His wife had run in for a few items and was out shortly. Turns out that their granddaughter is in A-man's class and lives on the other end of our neighborhood. They drove me the mile home and freaked out poor Dr. O', who was sure I'd been in a car accident. He was relieved that I was fine and walked to the store to get our car with his keys so that no unscrupulous person who might have found our keys might use them to scope out the lot and steal our car. He was back in 20, and my keys have yet to turn up. At least it was only the car keys and not the house keys!

Yesterday I went to a checkup and received some reassuring news. Man, health insurance is good. Expensive, but good. I was so worn out yesterday that I went to bed after homework time and slept about 12 hours.

I-M has an appointment today and will probably hit his deductible, which is 1/2 the total family deductible. He's meeting with a psychologist to get to the bottom of his low working memory result from December. I'm thankful for those in the related professions who have suggested that the testing situation and ensuing anxiety may have skewed things. We'll see. I just got M-girl down for a nap so that she's had some rest before I go get I-M at 1 for his appointment.

After school, the Jedis will be doing some cleaning because of their naughty attitudes and the fuss they made this morning. Mostly, they'll be putting away laundry and cleaning their room. I shuddered this morning when I saw what a pile of laundry was in the basement, but 1/2 of it was two blankets that are now in the washer and will soon be spending several hours on the line since it's sunny. Dr. O' is really the best partner I could ever hope for, and he washed and dried the diapers the other night. I'm a bit of a slacker these days, so they're still in the dryer, and I have to get them out and stuffed for use.

We have our white-knuckle weeks and our cozy and happy rhythm weeks. This one's more white-knuckle, but we have much to be thankful for!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dr. O' and I just made 4 loaves of bread and a double batch of falaffel, yummy! I made 3 pan loaves of 100% Whole Wheat Honey Bread, and he made a loaf of Crusty Caraway Rye bread in the machine. He was partial to another recipe that required beer, but he decided that a loaf of bread was not the best use of a nice brew. I got a replacement spiral dough hook for my KitchenAid after trying the c-shaped one that was very ineffective. The new hook moved 9 cups of whole wheat flour with no trouble, and we probably have enough bread for the week. The falafel is a hybrid of 2 recipes and is perfect! The downside is that it requires chickpea flour, which is hard on my grain mill. Maybe I'll run the dry beans through the food processor first. Next time I bake, I'll definitely need more flour, so I have to plan to grind flour before I get any recipes started.

Tomorrow Dr. O' and I are making spanikopita, and we have the phyllo thawing in the fridge over night. Our other tasks include haircuts for the guys and a bath for all shorties on 2 legs or 4. M-girl's pinkeye is pretty epic, so I think she'll be home from church with her daddy.

The Jedis have had a really peaceful day playing, which was really a delight. I continue to praise God for the continuing improvement in A-man's attitude and behavior! I-M is growing up alarmIngly fast these days and has a super-cute grin with his new front teeth.

Great repost that has had me chuckling for days

10 Reasons why living with a toddler is like a frat party

10. There are half-full, brightly-colored plastic cups on the floor in every room. Three are in the bathtub.

9. There's always that one girl, bawling her eyes out in a corner.

8. It's best not to assume that the person closest to you has any control over their digestive function.

7. You sneak off to the bathroom knowing that as soon as you sit down, someone's going to start banging on the door.

6. Probably 80% of the stains on the furniture contain DNA.

5. You've got someone in your face at 3 a.m. looking for a drink.

4. There's definitely going to be a fight.

3. You're not sure whether anything you're doing is right, you just hope it won't get you arrested.

2. There are crumpled-up underpants everywhere.

1. You wake up wondering exactly how and when the person in bed with you got there.

Friday, March 25, 2011

When hoarding is a good thing!

I keep as much pinkeye medicine around as I can because it's stupid to take kids to the doc for it. I try to get them to call it in at the pharmacy if at all possible. If 2 kids get it, I fill 2 scrips and use one to treat them, saving the other bottle for days like today! I happened to have one sealed bottle that just expired last month. M-girl has a vicious case of pinkeye, and I'm being so careful since my contacts are in. She was in her room for naptime, systematically destroying it, but not sleeping! The sitters are coming tonight, the house is mostly clean, and Dr. O' has a faculty meeting. Long day prior to date night!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Finger Food Night!

Since Dr. O' is taking me to see some fun Shakespeare tomorrow night and because I can't have the babysitters come to a messy house and because it's Thursday, I've been working steadily on decluttering so I can wrap up a weekly home blessing. The obstacles are lack of sleep, two recent trips and the stuff that isn't finding a home yet, recent illness, a bit of interference from Jedis, and plenty of interference from the Dog and Toddler Show. M-girl has been very grumpy since yesterday's shots and did have a long nap today, complete with funky drawers.

The sun is beautiful this afternoon, and I decided that dinner tonight is finger food because I'm too tired to cook. We have plates of crackers, Cabot cheddar, feta, hummus, pita, cucumber, cherry tomato, carrot, red pepper, grapes, bananas, oranges, and bacon for those who are not giving up meat for Lent. Yummy, no fuss, and a good way to clear a few things out of the fridge! We've got some GS cookies hidden away for dessert.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A pediatrician, Tim Horton,and a tired mom walk into a church

I was actually organized this morning instead of thinking that I was! I joked with Dr. O' about how much I overpacked for an outing with I-M when he was a baby, but this morning I took only my purse (debit card included!) and a wet bag with a cloth diaper and two cloth wipes. Another mom at the pediatrician's brought a HUGE bag, a huge purse, and her 6-mo infant in a carseat/stroller travel system. It was like the Super Star Destroyer of gear loads, while mine was like Luke Skywalker's landspeeder or an x-wing Starfighter at the most. Dang it, Star Wars, get out of my head!

I digress. This morning I remembered to pack new rainy day toys for when A-man has indoor recess. I got up on time, got everyone ready and out the door, filled up the car, and got M-girl to her 2-yr check-up. She's healthy and is finally at the 20th%ile for weight! She did need some bloodwork for allergies and iron and needed some vaccinations, so she got some pokes, poor kid! She and I went to get bagels at Tim Hortons after, but she hit the bag at home and yelled "no bagels! Hortons doughnuts!". Can't pull anything over on this kid! In the course of enjoying my bagel, I suddenly felt my jaw lock up! It does this now and then, and it's irritating. No bagels for a while, I guess. At least I can brush my teeth!

We made it to the midday Lenten service today, with a minor meltdown at the end due to the need for a nap! It was especially important to me to get there since I missed church on Sunday. Now for an hour and a half of quiet before my Jedis get home!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Murphy's Law & errand day

I had several errands this morning and was happy that I had everything organized even though we overslept by half an hour. Everyone got out the door on time, and I came home and got myself presentable. I went to the hospital in Martins Ferry for some paperwork and got there fine after a few wrong turns. Then I went to the Kroger in Bridgeport to grab a few sale items and other essentials. At the register I realized that my debit card was in my pants pocket at home. Ugh, stupid mistake! I got them to hold the stuff and found the route back to 70, but I found a branch of my bank first! They did a withdrawal, and I was back at Kroger in 10 minutes. Nice to catch a break now and then! M-girl may not nap today after all this running around and because we'll get the Jedis in an hour. We will get the rest of the errands done with them along or let them wait another day. It's hard to be totally productive on such a sunny and beautiful day!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Les miserables

I forgot to mention that we watched this on PBS last night with the Jedis. So much fun to share this with them! They understood the story as I explained it to them. I love the gospel parallels and spiritual lessons that stand so clearly against a backdrop of revolution and enlightenment without God. The only downside? A Jonas brother played Marius, weakly. The guy playing Enjolras made up for it mostly. I liked that Lea Salonga played Fantine in this production after brilliantly playing Eponine years ago, and notably for the 10th anniversary cast. The kids saw maybe the middle third, and I'll have to pull out an old VHS to get them through an abridged production. I'm so glad they are so interested in such enduring characters, and that the characters aren't from Star Wars!

Another party weekend

The kids and I had a great time visiting my parents this weekend! We left right after school and arrived safely 5 hours later. They are such good little travelers, and A-man is so reliable out in public now that he can be reasoned with. We got dinner in Zanesville, OH, and that was our only potty stop. I realized that M-girl hasn't seen much of the Veggie Tales because the Jedis had gotten tired of them, but all 3 enjoyed watching one DVD of them with the audio playing through the car's speakers.

We spent Saturday morning hanging out with my parents and Unkie Justin, who had M-girl as his little shadow. He's always been a terrific uncle, and he is so patient and helpful with the kids. Something I've always loved about my family is that we've always had someone little around since my parents' kids were so far apart, and the grandkids started coming before my youngest brother started school. It's always been good for the big kids to get experience with the little ones and for the littles to get all that love and attention from the big kids! M-girl developed a really special bond with both Uncle Justin and cousin Kayleigh, who were the little ones when I got married!

Chuck-e-Cheese had an hour wait, so we moved the party to a place that the kids thought was even better! It was like an enormous hamster Habitrail for kids to crawl through and slide down! They all had a blast, and it was nice to have fun playing instead of obsessing over tokens and tickets and prizes. After the play zone, we had cake and presents for Arin's twins and M-girl. We played until bedtime and crashed hard for the night! I especially enjoyed getting time with my sister Arin and with my Mom, whom I've missed a lot. Sunday morning we packed up and got ready for the trip home.

Dairy queen in Richmond was our lunch stop before crossing into Ohio, and although there were very few customers, it took 30 minutes for them to have lunch ready, which is kind of baffling, but the kids were patient. After we passed through St. Clairsville, my gas light turned on, and I took an exit thinking it led to a gas station. Instead it led to 470, a longer route home! We got off it near Bridgeport, across the river from Wheeling. We barely made it to a gas station, and the on ramp back onto 70 was not marked, so we nearly got back onto 470, which would've taken us too far into Wheeling. I managed to get us turned around and found the right on-ramp, and we were home minutes later!

Dr. O' missed us terribly and had a hard time sleeping in the too-quiet house. He got a lot of work done and will be able to finish the semester with less stress. He just got a paper topic accepted for his fall conference and needs to get it written and submitted. He's teaching all summer, too, so he has a lot on his plate. I'm glad he got a chance to plow through a pile of work so he can breathe!

The Jedis are back to school today and were pretty easy-going after a long weekend. I love when everybody makes the morning peaceful!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Busy day & inadequate sleep : /

For no good reason, I had a hard time sleeping between 2 and 6 am. My restlessness kept Dr. O' awake too, and he has an overwhelmingly busy day today. I hope to grab a nap today because I'm driving the kids 5 hours to Anderson this afternoon straight from the bus stop. It will be a long day, but the drive is totally uncomplicated, nearly a straight shot west. We'll grab some Subway along the way and get Star Wars movies playing in the back seat and some This American Life playing for me on the stereo. Ooh, and some Beatles! I bought the blue and red compilations with the iTunes credits I got for my birthday. Oh-bla-di, life goes on!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Time to cut cable? I hate commercials!

I did some cleaning today and have spent the last few hours and watching TV, a very unusual occurrence! I'm perplexed by the commercials marketed to women on TV. I must not fit the demographic! 3 different channels had sad commercials playing simultaneously. (1 was for a birth control pill that I know has caused serious problems like embolisms and strokes, only now it has folic acid. What? The only reason for this is to prevent neural tube defects in a baby if the pill FAILS. Seems like a strange way to market it! The commercial is also about women shopping for all the things they'd rather have than children. Trust me, I know that children can be inconvenient as mine are quite challenging, but I can't imagine anything better than my little loves! (2 was for a device that prevents pregnancy, but could cause miscarriage and loss of fertility. I don't know how these things get approved. (3 was for a procedure that thins the uterine lining to make menstruation easier, but it could cause death of mother and child in case of pregnancy. Drug side effects are one thing, drug side effects for fertility-related products seem so anti-woman to me. Think I'll stick with Netflix and avoid the commercials.

Conflict averted

I-M still had a low-grade fever last night, so he's having another home day. A-man only complained once about his ear yesterday, and he tried to stay home again today, but I gave him ibuprofen and dropped him off with no qualms. He was sad to go to school without his beloved brother. I was glad that I took the time to listen to him in the middle of the morning chaos instead of yelling at him to quit whining and get in the car. He and I have gone many rounds in the past, and it makes all the difference if we calm down and hear each other out. I firmly believe that this prevents many of our battles and diminishes the intensity of the ones that do erupt. I'm so thankful to have communication with my little brown-eyed love!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dearest little Jedis...

You are fever-free and energetic thanks to Tamiflu and some snuggling, so I think you should return to school tomorrow. If you have energy to fight with each other, you can certainly make it through a school day. Also, kindly eat the delicious minestrone I am preparing without complaint, for I am tired, and you protest this meal every time, only to eat it with gusto when you decide to stop being a stick in the mud.

Sincerely, Mommma

PS, you have also kind of cluttered up the house, so no more Wii until we get the mess squared away, all right?

Another humbling moment in parenting

The Jedis ask each other "is Dad home?" when they get stuck on their wii Star Wars game. "We can't ask Momma because she stinks at Wii games". Granted, I told them this myself so that I wouldn't have to try to get them through every level whenever they got stuck. Watching my 5yo play this game so expertly has convinced me that I did the right thing letting them figure the game out and letting Dr. O' be the trouble-shooter. A-man could now hand me an ignominious defeat without breaking a sweat!

Home Day

I gave A-man a home day today just in case he comes down with something. All 3 are fever-free this morning, but all 3 have cruddy coughs. The last thing I wanted was to have to pick him up I'll at school, particularly if M is napping. He says his ear hurts, so I figure they would've called me anyway.

Beware the Ides of March, everybody! ;).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tamiflu! My kingdom for some Tamiflu! (and maybe a beer?)

So we have been slammed with the flu. The kids were all a little snot-nosed and tired yesterday, but that's not unusual, especially since we had just traveled the previous 2 days and hadn't gotten enough sleep.

Despite my gargantuan efforts in November to get 3 kids to the pediatrician's for flu shots with 2nd degree burns on my leg while Dr. O' was in Atlanta, I-M has the flu. My apologies to anyone who has seen my kids this week. Really sincere and heartfelt I'M SO SORRY. A-man and M-girl have been prescribed preventive doses of Tamiflu, and I-M is on it to shorten the course of the illness. I-M is getting 90-95% of the oxygen that he should, so he's also on neb. albuterol and orapred susp. Oh, and LOTS of ibuprofen! No hospitalization is good, so all we can do is try to prevent that again. Poor guy is close to his deductible, but I don't want to meet it that way. He's been sitting and/or sleeping in the same position all day, and his fever has been 103. He's had one can of ginger ale and 1/2 piece of toast. His entire body hurts to the touch.

Unfortunately, flu season is supposed to be mostly over, so most of the pharmacies don't have Tamiflu, either because they ran out or they sent it back to the manufacturer because it was near expiration. Four pharmacies that I went to or that Dr.O' called did not have oral Tamiflu suspension for kids. Thankfully, CVS can compound the suspension from the pills, and they are my new heroes. They also have good deals on Yuengling according to their sign, but we're actually well stocked ;). I'll stick with my ginger ale, anyway.

We need some prayers! We had a trip planned to Indiana that is now at least partially postponed so that we don't bring a round of plague-ishness to the Village. We should be well enough to see B-grands this weekend as long as the Tamiflu kicks in and I-M is fever-free long enough.

Thank you

Thank you, sick child, for peeing on the futon. I now have the best reason in the world to finally buy that new couch!

Creativity in the Kitchen

Dr.O' gave up meat for Lent again this year, which makes our meal planning interesting. I am continuing to eat lean poultry, and so are the kids. Dr. O' has agreed to do the special shopping and much of the prep for his dietary committment, which may again become a long-term thing. We made a menu yesterday for the next two weeks, and I'm pretty excited about it!

Black Bean Burgers
Baked Ziti with Ricotta
Portabello Mushroom Sandwich
Cilantro and Hummus Sandwich (much like the Mediterranean Sandwich from Panera)
Lentil Soup
Vegetable Barley Soup
Curry simmer sauce over basmati rice with chickpeas
Falaffel and cucumber sauce

Stupid Steenrod

We've had a severe monkey wrench thrown into our plans for next week: the school system neglected to tell us until FRIDAY that they were cancelling Spring Break, which was supposed to start today. Know what? I don't care. I'm still going to Indiana. I could've had my kids at school every one of those snow days. It's not my fault, and they can't let parents know this so late when people have to make plans! Stupid. I was already annoyed with nearly everything about this school, and it's supposed to be one of the best in the district. Now I'm just ready to be done, but I have my doubts about committing to homeschool next year. It has to be the right choice for everyone in the family.

The big issue with this cancellation is that the school has abdicated its communication responsibility and handed it over to the PTA. If parents don't read the PTA website, they have no idea what's going on. I do read the emails that link to the PTA site, and I am subscribed to their calendar. It's a wealthy attendance area overall, but there have to be some parents who don't have access to the internet all the time. I've been overwhelmed by all the paper announcements from the PTA, newsletters from the teachers, graded work, homework, and random enrichment junk they send home. They could do a much better job putting all the information into one newsletter weekly from the school itself, plus one classroom newsletter from the teacher, both of which could be accessed online as well. The PTA crap could remain on the website, but their role should be scaled back because they're just wasting paper. Homework could be put straight into the folder, in the same pocket every time, and graded work/keep at home stuff could be in a manila envelope so that we don't have to fish through all this crap to find the important information.

Whirlwind Party Weekend

We are pretty wiped out after a great weekend! We spent the night in a hotel in State College PA on Friday night. The kids swam with their cousins and stayed up until 11:30 eating pizza and giggling. We crashed hard for the night and enjoyed the hotel breakfast in the morning with the O' grandparents. We got to Dr.O's brother's (another near-Dr.O') PSU apartment around 11 and began a group effort of preparing lunch and wrangling the 6 kids. The community center at PSU's grad housing has no real kitchen, so we prepped each dish and took it over to the community center, where Pop-pop was watching the kids. We had a ridiculous amount of food and barely made a dent in it, but if everyone we have for Christmas been there, we wouldn't have had enough!

We celebrated 5 birthdays in one shot and enjoyed a cake that was made to taste like a Tasty-Kake Candy Kake (it's an East Coast thing, like Carvel-- two things I'd never heard of until I spent time in the Mid-Atlantic area). My MIL replaced the peanut butter filling with a butterscotch filling because one nephew has serious allergies, and the cake was amazing! Like a heart-shaped pound cake with creamy butterscotch caramel and coated in solid chocolate. Yum! We enjoyed chatting and playing with the kids, and BIL set off some rockets with the kids, an activity that my FIL used to do with his kids.

At 5 we had the community center cleaned up, and it was time to head home since we and my in-laws all had church responsibilities for the next day. With a stop or 2, it takes us a little under 4 hours to get home. The Jedis were thrilled to have a great box of Indiana Jones Legos to open thanks to my cousin Kim! We got them ready for bed and sent them upstairs for the night. Despite her long sleep in the car, M-girl demanded to be put to bed immediately, too. She had a lot of sleep to catch up on because she doesn't want to miss a minute of playtime with her cousins when we're with them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Typical Miscellany & Minor Matters

So the home computer is interminably slow this afternoon, and I am thumb-typing this on the iPod touch Dan gave me for my birthday. This is quite challenging, especially as I try to get my thoughts down quickly before they disappear. (note: I gave this up after a few paragraphs and restarted the laptop, which M-girl had apparently been playing with).

My birthday and M-girl's were both this week, in addition to Dr. O's spring break and Ash Wednesday. We took the kids to the Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner and brought a king cake that I made using dough from's Clone of a Cinnabon recipe, and it turned out great!

We are heading to PA for a quick overnight trip tomorrow to celebrate a number of family birthdays on Dr. O's side, and it will be a great visit with cousins! Next week the kids and I will go to Indiana to visit with some friends and family as well. The kids are especially excited about going to "Chunky Jesus", which is kinda sacrilegious but is how Aidan pronounced "Chuck E. Cheese's" for a very long time.

So today is Weekly Home Blessing, which is speak for 7 10-minute chores to maintain a home's basic cleanliness. I typically do mine on Thursday in preparation for the weekend and occasionally on Mondays to dig us out of the mess created by our weekend revelries. The chores are to get rid of surface clutter (I put mine in bags as I go and then put the stuff where it belongs at the end), change sheets, empty all trash, polish the worst windows and mirrors, dust, vacuum, and mop. I've been doing it for over a year, and it has made a huge difference here. The daily stuff includes wiping down sinks and toilets, making beds, and anything else that gets gross regularly enough to warrant daily attention. I like a streamlined plan that reminds me to do the important stuff on a schedule so that I'm not wandering around not sure what to do. I can't adhere to it strictly because I have small children and a dog, so a perfect house is a lost cause.

It's been pretty darn glamorous around here. After my hot date to Olive Garden yesterday where I ate entirely too much smoked mozzarella fonduta (totally worth it!) I came home and tried to get M-girl down for a nap and to get laundry caught up. I utterly failed at both attempts, but I managed to put her down again just before Dr. O brought the Jedis home. Then he caught us up on laundry with tremendous dedication and energy, plus guiding kids through homework, doing the dishes, and making some excellent Spicy Black Bean Burgers.

We managed to get the kids through a somber Ash Wednesday service, although I had to "tomato stake" A-man. For those of you unfamiliar with this term in a child-rearing context, it means to keep the child very close to the parent, often with constant physical touch, in order to monitor behavior and prevent anything really ugly from happening. I had to do more of that than usual with A-man last night! He was in rare form, and I decided to immediately "tomato stake" that kid by holding his 5-year-old lanky body very closely to me, rocking him on my lap and stroking his head. I carried him when we went forward for the imposition of ashes. I intertwined my arm with his during Communion. And it mostly worked. No big meltdowns at church, although he did quietly sob for a minute or two. He was overtired, as were his siblings. And so were his parents, to tell the truth.

My recent attempt to tweak the bedtime and morning routines has been very effective, except for last night when I fell asleep before I could go upstairs to sit with them. There was some naughtiness afoot, and both have lost their screentime until they help me get the upstairs bedrooms clean enough to be ready for vacuuming and get the big basket of kid laundry put away. They do this a lot right before Weekly Home Blessing, and I'm secretly happy to have screentime to hold over their heads until they are helpful and have good attitudes. Good opportunity to teach them hard work and self-control!

So today's tasks have involved lots of wiping surfaces, decluttering, and well, shaving the dog. She was overdue for a trim, and I thought she had fleas. I washed all her bedding today, shaved her, and bathed her so that I could put her flea prevention/killer on. I want it to be on her while we're gone so that there's less opportunity for the kids to come in contact with the medication. She apparently doesn't have any fleas yet, but the season is upon us anyway. I also tried to give her her heartworm and other medicine ground into a powder and then mixed with gravy. No dice. She would not eat it for anything! For a dumb dog, she can be surprisingly astute about my trying to hide meds. Finally, I put some broth in the dish and crushed up some crackers into it. People food did the trick. She's at my feet right now, but after the drugging, shaving, and bathing stunt I pulled today, it'll be a while before she trusts me!

M-girl's stunt of the week is to destroy her room during nap time. Her other defense/means of protest regarding naps is to wait until that time to poop in her diaper. Both are quite effective at keeping her awake and occupied during a nap time that both of us need very much. She's never been able to go to sleep with anyone else in the room, even from shortly after her birth, so sitting in the room until she drifts off isn't an option like it is for the Jedis. The difficulties are that she can get out of bed and explore her room now (which is a good thing from a development standpoint), and she is getting to an age at which many children do start to give up naps. However, she does not sleep enough night-time hours to make up for giving up a nap, and more night-time sleep could be difficult with the rest of the house up and about in the morning. If I let her up after a long time spent destroying her room, she's overly tired and ready to destroy other rooms in frustration. This typically happens closer to the time I need to go a few blocks away and pick up the Jedis from their bus stop. M-girl thinks: "Checkmate, Momma!"

Yes, I am posting this to Facebook, but I don't have to get onto the site to share my blog posts. I know a few people who have O'H-kid withdrawal, so here's a fix!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lenten Facebook Detox

I finally bit the bullet and made my announcement about taking a break from Facebook yesterday. I've been meaning to do it since New Year's, but I'm glad I didn't because January and February are often hard for me, and I needed the therapeutic effect of chatting back and forth with my mom friends all over the world. I'm giving it up for Lent because I do need to give it up for a while as it has changed from being a way to keep in contact with friends and family after the move to a pretty serious distraction in my life. I chose Lent because I figured 40 days would be enough time to detox and because I'll be more motivated to keep my heart focused on prayer and preparation for Easter if Facebook is not an option. My FB account doesn't do quite what I want it to do, and I've had some problems with privacy/hacking from time to time. Also, there are Facebook friends who I'd probably be able to delete with no hard feelings, or they could delete me and it would be no big deal at all. However, pruning the list is harder than starting afresh. I'm also planning to use some of the extra time researching homeschooling and trying to decide whether it's a doable option. I plan to either do that or try to finish my MA starting in the fall. I need to do something!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What "one more thing" can I do?

I've been getting pretty worn out these days. The winter is finally coming to an end, and some changes are in the air. The Jedis and Dog & Toddler Show are extra busy and extra needy. I've been getting about 6 hours of sleep each night for no good reason.

The other night I felt like checking out early for the night. I rested a little after dinner while M-girl watched Caillou on the bed with me, and Dr. O' did homework with the Jedis. He got the kids ready for bed, and I thought "tomorrow WILL go better if I get up and do a few small things". I got out of bed and spent 5 minutes starting a batch of yogurt, 5 minutes starting the bread machine with a nice loaf of honey whole wheat, and 5 minutes starting a hot wash of a load of diapers. I entrusted Dr. O with making sure the diapers got dried on low, and he did it. It turned out that I had kind of a bad night, and I was really thankful to have yogurt, bread, and a load of fresh and clean diapers for M-girl.

We never know what kind of day the next day will be, but we can make it better by being prepared, you know? I try throughout the day to think what "one more thing" I can do to make the next period of time better. There's always something on the list! I can't do everything every day, but I can work to discipline my heart to be aware of our collective needs. I can train my kids in self-discipline so that they don't have to feel stressed and worried when they can't find something they're looking for.

My "one more thing" is enormous right now! Time to fold and put away Mt. Laundry before it avalanches on someone!

Dynamic parenting

I am the momma of kids who like routine. I like routine, too! The challenge is setting up routines and rules that fit with our family's priorities and are appropriate for the children's development. What I love is that as the parent, I can change the routine when it's not working. I don't have to do what any other family is doing or what any book suggests, but I can if I want to! There's tremendous freedom in being in touch with what my family needs and in adapting my parenting to suit our current phase.

The Jedis have a habit of staying up in their room and reading or playing until they finally conk out. It's awful, but we've had trouble figuring out what else to do without resorting to harsh punishment. The best solution is to stay in their room until they fall asleep, which cuts into our couple time. However, it makes a tremendous difference to A-man to have momma cuddle him in bed at night. I-M is the major culprit in the late-night partying, and A-man would gladly fall asleep sooner, I think. We've known this was the best solution, but it takes discipline to go up and do this every night. Now I'm falling asleep beside my A-man and getting up around 9:30 or 10 and moving to my bed. I take my iPod so that I have something to listen to while the boys settle down, and I really enjoy that time with them! I need to work some Bible stories into that routine as well.

The major benefit of this enforced bedtime is that the boys wake on their own around 6:45. I help them dress, and they quickly eat breakfast. Previously, we had to wake them and dress them while they woke up, and they gave us a hard time about choosing what breakfast to eat, and they dawdled through breakfast time.

Their reward for going to sleep earlier and for getting up cheerfully on school days is that they have about 30 minutes to play in their rooms. Any time they spend fussing comes out of their playtime instead of my time getting them out the door. I give them warnings as it gets closer to time to leave, and they can lose the next day's playtime if they are not obedient when it's time to go.

I like that my children can see that if a routine or rule isn't working, we can work together to change it. I love that they are learning about responsibility for their own morning routine. I especially love that the chaos can be tamed with a few little changes!