Saturday, February 23, 2013

Natural Born Tapper

This year we put Peach in dance.  It is Saturday and because Dr. J is always working I have to take all four kids with me.  Gigi and Captain E spend their time running around with other kids, watching the big ballerinas through the window, commenting on when Peach isn't behaving, and squabbling.  Tiny T is not surprisingly much more of a handful.  Recently I've just come to sitting in the hall with her and watching her walk back and forth.  Today while Peach was in ballet through a series of head shakes, pointing, and grunts Tiny T asked me to put Peach's tap shoes on her, and then she was off.  She headed right over to the hard surface floor and started stomping.  What do you think, do I have a natural born tapper or what?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Valentine's Part Two

I love holidays.  I think it is because I grew up in a big family that really values tradition and holidays make me feel connected to my past as well as my present.  Plus they are an excuse to do fun kid things and leave boring adult things like paying bills and folding laundry on the side lines.  This years Valentine's day especially rocked out since I've been pinning fun ideas for two months.  It started with a heart shaped braid for Gigi's hair.  She was the most excited about the day.  Captain E had his party the Friday before, Peach had her Wednesday, finally on Thursday Gigi was going to have hers.  She told me she was going to sleep in her clothes to makes sure she made it.  I promised her if she slept in pjs I'd do something fun in her hair to celebrate.  She loved this braid!  Then we went downstairs where I had a box of chocolates and a tiny mailbox with a Valentine from both me and Dr. J for each child.

The girls loved it.

Especially they youngest girl who went CRAZY for her chocolates!!!  

Captain E then had a Valentine's Day gift for me that he'd made at Cub Scouts, a box of chocolate covered strawberries.  Hello, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!  They were delicious, and yes I ate half the box for breakfast :)  Then it was on to heart shaped meals.  Kids love hearts so why not.  

We had heart shaped nested eggs for breakfast.

Heart shaped PB&J for lunch with some Valentine's Day jokes for entertainment.  
And heart shaped pizza for dinner.  It is typically our tradition to do a fancy dinner but this year doctor J was working until nine and Captain E had piano lessons at seven so we pushed our fancy dinner to two days later.  

The rest of the day was sort of a whirl.  We went to the conservatory with some friends and looked at orchids and Koi fish.  The girls loved it although one of our little friends fell in one of the Koi ponds and I had the nearly impossible task of trying to keep Tiny T from putting her fingers in the open fish mouths, but otherwise it was lovely.  The flowers were beautiful and it was so warm that even shedding sweaters I was sweating.  

Then we went to Costco where I picked up a tons of fruit and coveted this sectional piece.  I don't know that the style is necessarily my favorite but I love how the pieces can be moved around into some many different variations.  It seems like a good piece to have.  I was originally thinking that maybe we'd use part of our tax return to purchase it but turns out this year we made enough money to push ourselves into a new tax bracket and miss out on EIC and Child Tax Credit.  Which I guess I'm glad we got a raise but it does mean no new couch.  So back to put money in the jar for it and maybe I can squirrel enough away before they stop carrying it.  We've just gotten to the point where we can not fit on a normal sofa.  Hello family of six :)

I also texted Dr. J and asked him if he waned to buy me roses for Valentine's Day.  Then I offered to pick them us since I was at Costco where they sell a dozen on Valentine's day for $14.  It does not get any better than that if you are going to buy flowers on the big day.  He said, "Whatever makes you happy makes me happy."  So there you go, roses for me.

It was a fun day and I think the kids really enjoyed it.  As for our fancy put off dinner I pulled out some of the t-bone steaks we got from our cow.  I've been saving the better steak cuts and it seemed like a good day to use them.  The menu was t-bone steaks, baked potatoes, salad w/ homemade ranch dressing, cheesy biscuits, artichoke with butter sauce, and two bottles of apple cinder.  It was delicious and a great way to celebrate how much I love all five of my Valentine's :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent - Keep Calm, Because I'm the Mom

A few days ago I mentioned I gave up yelling.  It happened one day after I stumbled across the pin of the blog The Orange Rhino.  I've given up yelling before but always found myself blowing it after just a few days or sometimes a few hours.  Let me tell you folks, eight year olds know how to push your buttons.  But I hate yelling at my kids.  Often I can feel myself teetering on the edge of out of control and while my logical brain is saying, "stop it, this isn't making anything better," my emotional self is just angry and wants the world to know it.  Afterwards I feel horrible and when my children scream at me I often wonder how I can expect anything but, when I have clearly modeled such an undesirable behavior to them.  I also constantly have the mantra running through my head that negative has such a greater affect (it's called the negative bias and it exist in everything that we do) and the well known adage that it takes five positives to offset a negative.  So essentially I always felt in the hole.  I would do all this wonderful stuff for my kids but then I would yell and I'd think, great in that second of a lack of self control I just took myself back down to ground zero.  But here on the internet I found a woman who was a self proclaimed yeller 1, almost at the end of finishing 365 consecutive days of not yelling.  It was like a revelation from God, proof positive that you can be something else, that it is possible to change, that me, a yeller could stop.  And so from the moment I read that, I just stopped, I refused to allow myself to yell at my children in anger (yelling across the park to get their attention...that was still ok :).  I went a day, then two, then three.  I said to Dr. J, "This is going to sound really silly to say out loud but I haven't yelled at the kids in three days."  He said, "That's not silly, that's amazing."  At four days I posted it on Facebook (because nothing is ever official until Facebook right and mentioned it on my blog.  It has now been 13 days and I've decided that for Lent 2 this year I'm going to just keep calm and continue on in my goal of not yelling at the kids.  Now typically Lent is a time to give "up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence."  And so I've given up things like sweets, chocolate, or salt before  but I think yelling can totally apply because giving up yelling is my commitment to give up what for me personally is my own lazy parenting, my half hearted attempts at self control, and releasing my tendency to hold onto anger.

Giving up yelling has been a liberating feeling.  I can tell you that I feel like an amazing mom right now.  All of the good, positive stuff I do gets to stay in the positive side and I don't feel like it is being taken down because I'm constantly trying to make up for being the crazy yelling mom. My house has been calmer.  My kids are being more loving.  My son has told me multiple times this week that I am the best mom ever.  It is not to say that there have not been rough times or that my kids have changed their behavior to match me.  In fact there was a night when late homework and a temper tantrum while not resulting in a yell definitely resulted in me being majorly relieved when a certain child finally went to bed.  Also my kids have still yelled  at me when they aren't happy about the way something is going and while they are doing it there is this part of me that says, "Hey they are showing disrespect, how are you letting this go."  But this other part of me, the better part says, "You can do this."  And what comes out of my mouth is the very calm, "I can see you are really upset about this but while you are being disrespectful I need you to go upstairs.  Feel free to come down when you are feeling a little more calm."  And that's it.  And maybe my son or my three year old yell at me while they are stomping up the stairs, "I hate you."  But maybe I just say, "That kind of talk hurts my feelings."  And then I just ignore the next five to ten times they say it.  And five minutes later they have calmed down and they come bouncing down and I say, "Guys we need to be careful of the words we say because they hurt people's feelings."  And then it is over.  And instead of these long drawn out horrible fights between us, there is them freaking out, me being calm and we shave a whole 45 minutes off the whole thing.  So maybe I don't "show them they have to respect me."  Maybe I'm "letting them get away with it."  Maybe I don't match them word for word.  But MAYBE none of that stuff ever worked in the first place.  Maybe that is just a way to get fear or blow steam.  Maybe in the end our kids get to a point where we can't dominate them and instead we need to learn to teach them, help them see the right paths, applaud them when they make the right choices and be there to help them get up when they make the wrong ones .   Maybe that is better.  Dr. J has said he definitely notices a difference in this house and so have I.  And maybe that difference will start to percolate in, and maybe someday they won't feel the need to yell at me when they get upset.  Maybe, just maybe I can undo what I've already done.

There have been some casualties along the way.  I'm coming to realize that control must be the first one.  We can't control our children forever and so instead we need to learn to be a gentle guide or a shinning light of what we want and to realize in the end that this is their life and sometimes the choices they make are not the ones we would have wished for them.  Feelings of needing to be "respected" have had to be let go.  Fear is not respect and that's all yelling has ever gotten me.  Pride needs to be let go.  The fact is that even though I think I'm always right, sometimes, just sometimes, I'm not.  I've had to let go of the idea that my frustration is always the kids fault.  So often the are just the target because of circumstances that are beyond their control.  I'll give you an example of this.  Just this last week I had a morning doctor's appointment for Tiny T.  I knew it was going to be a stretch because I needed to leave shortly after the Elders got on the bus for school.  Unfortunately Peach was just having a hard time getting herself together.  She took her time picking out shoes, she spilled milk, she had trouble with her seat belt in the car.  I knew we were going to be late and I could feel myself getting frustrated but I also realized it wasn't Peach's fault.  Yeah sure maybe she could have done things a second or two faster but she isn't the one who scheduled a doctors appointment for so early and she also wasn't the one who wasted five precious minutes earlier in the morning on Instagram instead of getting the kids up just a little earlier.  That was me, and now we were here, she was doodling a bit and I was getting frustrated, but it was me who led to this situation.  So I swallowed what was going to be my snap to "Hurry it up," and I called the pediatricians office.  "Hey," I said, "We are running about ten minutes behind, you know two kids and all."  "No problem," they said.  The moment I wanted to yell was gone.  We have to let go of ire caused by our choices and our embarrassment or annoyance at our kids for acting like kids when we put them in situations that are not necessarily natural to them and then they act out.  And finally I'm starting to let go of caring about what other people think about my children.  My behavior with my children should not be controlled by fearing that other people will not approve of my children and will think I'm a bad parent if I can't "control them".  First off there is a really good chance most people are not even judging me so why should I worry about it.  Second off, I need to remember it's always easier to be the Monday morning quarterback or in this case, the person not dealing with the toddler meltdown.  Third off if people really do want to judge me and can't see how this would be a struggle for them, then who needs them, I mean I never really even liked those people anyway right, so just let it go ;-).  So wish me luck as I try to rock out this Easter Season by continuing to fill my house with calm, because after all I am the mom!

 1 I realize there are people out there who never yell, I have a list of some of the most amazing, self-controlled, loving moms that I aspire to be, but I am not them and sometimes when I think of them I feel hopeless, but this woman wasn't them either and she was doing it.  That brought hope that I could to.  

2 Even though I am a Mormon and belong to a religion that just doesn't join most of the rest of Christianity in really rocking out Easter I have been celebrating lent off and on again since my late teens, thanks to a friend named Aurora, because I love Easter and I want to celebrate it to it's fullest, not just listen to a couple of talks on one Sunday and eat ham.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Valentine's Day Prep

Valentine's Day is a huge deal for me, not because I'm especially attached to the fake romance of a Hallmark Holiday, but because I'm the kind of mom who loves traditions and holidays.  So VD is just another excuse for me to give my kids a little something extra to make them feel specially.  This year I wanted to decorate for the holiday but I'm 1) exceptionally lazy and 2) trying not to spend too much money.  I do happen to have a ton of pictures frames lying around though so I figured if I could find some cute printables that would be fun.  And I did.  The View From 510 had the cutest Valentine's Day printables collected that I'd seen in my fifteen minutes of searching (remember I said lazy here, but really they are totally adorable) and they were all free.  So I downloaded every single one of them.  And one night when Dr. J was working nights I printed them off, stuck them in frames and placed them around the house.  

 Love the Love Is Spoken Here Print.  Obviously this one can stay up all year.  
These three all say Valentine's Day on them so they'll be coming down February 15th, but when you consider they were free, and adorable, not big deal :)

This I Love You one is probably going to be sitting next to my $5 orchid, yup that's right, $5!  Thank you Sam's Club clearance.  

This tiny little Love More one on the dresser that yes I was going to finish, but we decided to put in our room until it warms up and we actually get around to it, well it is my FAVORITE!  So adorable.  Thanks a ton 510 for searching these out, and thanks Sprik Space, Every Creative Endeavor, Pizzazzerie, The Tomkat Studio, J&A and Company, Eighteen25, and Lovely Little Snippets for your amazing printable art.  It made decorating for the season easy, cheap, and fun.

I then got cracking on Valentine's for the kids to take to school.  Hello having three kids makes little things hard work.  By the time we were done cutting, writing, and putting tattoos away my fingers were TIRED!  I took Peach to the store and she choose these Tattoo butterfly animals.  They were adorable and disturbing all wrapped up in one.  She helped put the stickers on that held them closed while mom and Gigi tore them all apart, put the tattoos in and folded them.  She then (with the help of mom) signed all of them.  That is actually one of my favorite parts about Valentine's, it is a great way to work on writing/learning how to write your name.  

Captain E told me weeks ago that he wanted to do Star Wars Light Saber Valentines weeks ago.  I some some at the store but they were going to cost me 8 dollars, and look, I'm sort of cheap, so we went looking around online.  We found two different sets that he liked so we printed out both types.  The first was at Cute As A Fox.  The second was at Stitch Craft Creations.  I bought $30 glow stick bracelets at Target for a total of $2.  He got lots of cutting practice and mom only lit two glow sticks on accident while putting them in.  Thank goodness for the EXTRAS!

Gigi's valentines were these cute bubble wands I found at Target.  A pack of 24 only cost $3.  I cut out 24 hearts for her (plus a few extra for family members) six at a time using stacked scrapbook paper.  Then we made slits and shoved the bubble wands in.  We saw that idea somewhere online but I can't remember where.  She finished it off by adding her name.  Everyone was super happy.  Thanks internet for all the great ideas!  Thank you pinterest for making up for those of us who are absolutely not creative or artistic.  Thank you amazing craft bloggers out there who are willing to share their talents!  I wanted to stay away from Candy for several reasons this year.  One, I didn't want the extras lying around here.  I only believe in eating chocolate, but if that cheap stuff is here, I'll eat that as well :)  Two, I've been thinking about allergies a lot, so hopefully this was funner for the kids to do and it will go over well with their classmates.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Healthier Almond Joy

 So I was craving an Almond Joy today.  I blame the Orange Rhino girl.  I have always felt guilty about yelling, but I was born into it.  I will swear I'm never going to do it again, and then I yell, and then I feel guilty, and then I cycle again.  It was so annoying.  But when I read her blog (saw it on pinterest...who pinned it first, maybe Kami, I don't remember) I thought if this woman can do this for a year then I can do it as well.  So I recommitted.  And so far it's been three days. And those of you with young kids are probably thinking, what they heck is wrong with this lady, why can't she make it longer then that, but let me tell you, when you have a cranky baby, a stubborn toddler, a defiant six year old, and a high strung eight year old, well sometimes it is hard to keep your cool.  But knowing there is someone out there who is doing it, and reading some of her tips (well they seem silly at the time but honestly it helps just to try something else) is helping.  That being said I still have a lot of stress build up, and today that stress told me I wanted a candy bar, like, really, really, really wanted one.  I was standing in the check out line at Meijer thinking, would it be that big of a deal if I just bought an Almond Joy?  I'd been at the gym today though and it seemed like a crying shame to counter that with a candy bar.  So I came home thinking, I want to make something that will fill that need for me, but maybe I can make it just a tad healthier.

I started with 1/2 cup of sun dried figs that I'd chopped and 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut.  (If I'd had dates I think those totally would have worked as well).  I blended them together in my food processor.
 Then I got dirty and squished the mixture with my hands.  I made little balls and put them in some cupcake holders.
 Peach added an almond to each one.  I sort of wish I would have had her add a few more.
Next I melted 1/3 of a cup of Ghirardelli's 60% Cacao bittersweet chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzled it over the tops.  I stuck the whole thing in the fridge to cool.  They are delicious, not quite the same as a an Almond Joy, but definitely filled the need for me.  I estimate they are about 87 calories a pop, and with coconut in them not exactly fat free, but they are loaded with fiber, nuts, and fruit, and in my book calories from fruit never count :)

Bunk Bed Ladder

This weekend Dr. J and I put the girls bed up into the bunk.  They've been begging us to do it ever since they  saw their cousins bed was in a bunk and I figured it would be good prep for the step of moving Miss Cheetah out of our room and into theirs.  I knew the ladder was going to be a problem eventually but I didn't realize it would be a problem immediately.  Then I came into the room and found all three girls on the top bunk.  "How did SHE get up here?" I asked the two oldest.  "She climbed," they told me.  But I was a bit skeptical.  So I decided to film it.  Turns out she did climb.  Silly little baby.  15 months old and she is such a tiny tornado (12 months if you still are using her adjusted age :( )

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sunday - It Is All About Hair

  Sunday is all about hair.  Gigi, was rocking out the curl look.  She loves curls.  Of course her hair is stick straight.  How is that for irony.  My whole life I just wanted my hair to be straight.  Her whole short life she's wanted hers to be curly.  This Sunday we were able to at least give her a little tasted.  Peach's hair still won't hold a curl, but it is starting to grow out again and laying a lot flatter than it use to.  Sunday was her first Sunday as a Sunbeam at church, that means she is officially in Primary now.  They actually traded out the first Sunday of January but with the holidays and illnesses we missed the last four Sundays.  This Sunday we made it and she was super excited!  As for Cheetah she hates having her hair up, but this one Sunday she left it alone for the three hours of church.  I think she forgot it after the first 45 minutes of trying to pull it out.  What do you think of her dresses?  I found that beauty at Target in the clearance section, $5.00!

 Here is my little beauty taking a nap.  What is with these eyelashes.  I mean they are just so crazy long!  My kids are lucky to take after their daddy in this way.

 Nothing says love like a chocolate chip apparently we don't love daddy that much because this was the last cookie and we ate it :)  When Captain E saw it he said, "You much take a picture of this heart shaped cookie."  And so we did!
 Dr. J had Wednesday off this week.  So we headed to Sams.  After we ate lunch...not very many places you can feed four people for 6 dollars :) I love Cheetah's face it this pic.  Her cheeks are stuffed with pizza.  What do you think of Peach's pig tails.  She was so thrilled that her hair was long enough to wear this way.
 Cheetah found this sports bra in my laundry pile and picked it up.  Then she put it on.  I don't know if she knew what it was, but it wouldn't put it past her.
I'm a cutie!

Saturday - A Day Off?

My Saturday's are crazy.  I mean nuts really.  I think if it was a two person job they might be a little more manage but usually Dr. J is working Saturday or working nights so sleeping.  Last Saturday he was sleeping.  So it was up to this wanna-be-super mom to do it all on her own.  First I gathered the kids for swim lesson.  They started two months ago and it has been a special treat.  The positive, they are the Y and are all at the same time.  So I actually have a few minutes alone after I drop Cheetah off at child watch and join the other parents in the gallery.  It's fun to see the kids getting more comfortable in the water and as a child of Arizona I feel like every person should know how to swim.  The negative, they are in the morning so no sleeping in, and it is winter so I have a ton of gear to haul around.  Most of the parents come in pairs and have at most two kids in class, most just one.  I come alone and am responsible for getting three kids in the pool, keeping track of all the gear, and then getting three kids out and dressed.  Luckily Captain E is capable of dressing himself, I just need to keep track of his socks for him.  Gigi and Peach on the other hand are all mine. It's actually the reason I drop Cheetah off at child watch.  Getting two girls out of cold wet suits, into warm winter clothes, and then hair blown dry, the whole time while they are crying that they are cold, and wiggling like crazy, well that takes BOTH MY HANDS!  We then pick up Cheetah from baby jail (a place she is very happy to be) and head home for lunch.  

 After lunch we take Peach to dance.  If Dr. J is home I can leave the older kids at home to watch a movie or play on the computer.  If he isn't they bring their Itouches and sit quietly or not so quietly while she takes her ballet/tap lesson (How did my mom survive before the digital age...what did we kids do when we were bored?).  She is adorable and loves it so much.  It almost makes it worth the craziness of having to haul in two pairs of shoes and entertaining Cheetah on my lap for 45 minutes while watching her and waiting to trade her ballet shoes for tap :)

 Then we head home to play.  Last Saturday we went to Barnes and Nobel first.  I'm in love with these Calico Critters and I had gotten in a coupon in my e-mail for $10 off a toy at the book store.  Hello my first Critters family!  Now I'm not so secretly coveting the koala family.  The momma there is a baby carrier. Can you guess why I love her so much?  So we headed to the store and picked up the family and then we brought them home to play.  The girls love them just as much as I do so that was a score!  Then I needed something to entertain Captain E.  The child loves to cook so we made some chocolate chip cookies.  They lasted exactly one day which is why we had to make some more yesterday, but it is a fun activity and it keeps us busy.

 Then it was time to bathe the kids.  I've tried having them shower at the gym but it has been a nightmare.  First they complain that it takes to long for the water to heat up and because they just got out of the pool they are "FREEZING!"  Secondly I get soaked in the process.  So before we go to bed Saturday night I try to get them bathed.  (Church is now at 9, we have to leave at 8:30 and there just isn't time in the morning).  This Saturday the girls wanted their hair put in rag curlers.  Peaches stayed in a whole two seconds, but Gigi's were perfect.

Then I have laundry to fold.  Four kids, two parents, it is a never ending job.  Saturday is my main catch up day and by the end of the day I often have lots of clean loads but nothing is folded.  This particular Sunday I had seven loads to fold.  Dr. J teased me that it was a pile big enough to lose a kid in.  Then he looked again and said it was a pile big enough to lose all our kids.  Finally I got the kids in bed.  Huray!  Time for a break?  Not last Saturday.  I was teaching Young Women's at church on Sunday so I needed to go over my lesson.  Luckily I'm loving the new program. So that's in.  My Saturday.  Nothing quite so not relaxing as a "day off".


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