Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cleaning House



When I was younger there were a number of families growing up that celebrated Chinese New Year. As part of this celebration the families in our area would always clean their homes thoroughly, organize their houses and make sure they were ready for the year to come. I always was fascinated in these early cleaning rituals, watching an older grandparent sweep out the front door and the piles of things that got thrown in the trash or donated because they no longer were used. This idea of cleaning to welcome the new year sunk in with me somehow and in a lot of ways I strive to do the same things.

Until about six years ago my company furloughed us the week between Christmas and New Years, this furlough became my prep for the New Year. Somehow sitting around the house while the Hubs was at work just didn’t seem fair, kids once they showed up still went to daycare that week. Instead of sitting and watching whatever TV marathon was on for the whole day I started doing deep cleaning and organizing of the open areas in the house. This furlough was a great chance to clean the pantry, which sometimes ends up with thing way to old, clean the bakers rack, where we keep all the paper and little bits. Somehow that childhood experience of preparing for the Chinese New Year, became my prep for the calendar new year change and I really enjoy it.

Breathe now, I know the idea of liking to clean may be disturbing, even crazy, but hang with me for a few minutes. During these furloughs when I would be able to deep clean and organize the entire house image for a minute what it must have felt like to ring in the New Year every year and know there wasn’t anything outstanding I needed to clean or organize, there wasn’t anything that was hanging over me. So you know, it felt GREAT, there was something of a high about having things in order and being able to move into the New Year fresh and organized. Usually I came out of these week long cleaning sprees with a better idea of what house wise we needed to tackle and somehow this process of preparing the household for this made me much for focused going back to work since I knew my house was in order.

Now as great as this was this is no longer my reality, those furloughs are a company of the past and getting a week to sort of float around, watch endless TV and cleaning the pantry is a thing of the past. Along with these changes the kids are older and I can no longer just sneak into their rooms when they are out and that favorite dirty t-shirt that is two sizes too small disappears without them noticing, though I keep trying. Additionally the kids are old enough to start working on some of this deep cleaning themselves. If you walk into our house today you will see a baker’s rack piled high with things that need to be thrown out, organized, cleaned or dealt with in some way, there is a file pile the height of our desk in the office, and the pantry may, just may have spices like could be older than one of the kids. Since I don’t quite have the time of focus to knock this all out within a week anymore I have stretched it out to be about a two month processes every year. This may seem a pain or long, but in the winter Bean has Basketball and Chicken doesn’t always want to go to the games. On days he doesn’t want to go to games or when I get the desire I tackle one piece of the deep cleaning, I take on our closet, the kids rooms, the playroom, the pantry, the baker’s rack and the office one at a time. I no longer have that great rush I used to when it was all done in a big hit, I do tend to enjoy the spring and summer a lot more knowing things are taken care of at home.

Do you have something that you feel a desire to accomplish before the New Year? How do you start of the year fresh and ready to begin 2012?

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Picture Less Christmas

This Christmas I took no pictures. I didn't capture the moment to later admire or remember, I just lived in it.  Instead of capturing the morning breakfast and present opening fun, I just watched. I didn't look for that great shot, I just hung out.

Will I regret my lack of picture taking later? Probably..

Will I miss seeing the joy months later? Who knows...

I know eventually I will get back up to speed on my scrap booking and have nothing to scrap for Christmas 2011.  Maybe instead of pictures, I'll journal it all, if I remember any of it.

How did I spend my day if I wasn't busy with pictures? I started helping Bean set up her crystal growing kit, Hubs will be going to Radio Shack later in the week for more parts. We all played Kinect Sports 2, Chicken is going to drive me crazy playing football with that one.  We built a number of paper monsters, that has been a surprise hit.  Lastly, I hung out on the couch a lot and did nothing.  I find doing nothing quiet useful on occasion, without occasionally doing nothing we forget what doing something looks like.

This spate of nothingness won't last long, and I assume next year there will be pictures taken and forced poses in all sorts of positions for the holidays. For now, I will enjoy my total lack of picture taking and my general Zen state of nothingness.

Next post, my New Years Cleaning Jag.....

Have a good down week.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Bed Time Routines

We have had an almost militaristic standard bedtime routine since Bean was about 6 months, and yesterday it dawned on me that the time for those very structured bedtime routines was passed. It was so weird to me to look at my two and realize that yet another milestone has passed, I don't miss it, but it is gone.

A bedtime routine was one of those things that initially I wasn't really into, but to keep my sanity I initiated and kept very structured for the last nine years. It isn't like the routine hasn't changed and altered, but it was always loosely the same routine. Our routine when they were little was massage, get on jammies, brush teeth, read a short book, and sing a few songs. The massages usually dropped off around two and as they got older they jammied and brushed on their own and the books got longer, but really it was the same routine. For two kids that seemed to need more sleep than average, they both still sleep about 10 hours minimum a night and really just in the last year stopped doing 12 hour nights, this routine was critical.  For Bean the bedtime routine let her have that snuggle time and transition that she seemed to need.  For Chicken, the routine was almost a trigger that it was time to mellow out and get into sleep mode.  Bean still needs about another thirty minutes or so after the routine to fall asleep, while Chicken rolls over and is out in minutes.  These pieces though are all part of that routine.

There is still a routine, it has just changed and doesn't really include mom and dad anymore.  In the last few months we have been busier in the evening hours and so long stories started to fall by the wayside. We would still read on occasion at night, but mostly it was to catch one or both up on their class reading. Singing songs hasn't been something asked for in weeks, there are other things to distract and transition the kids.

What do we do now?

The kids get ready for bed like always; brush teeth, get on jammies, get water.  Then they settle themselves into bed, preparing their rooms the way they like. No longer are mom and dad required to shut closet doors or turn on the night lights. It isn't that those things don't still need to happen, it is just the kids do it now. Then the kids settle in for a little screen time, the only screen time on week nights.  Mostly Bean messes around to find a pandora channel she likes, or plays chess. Chicken will play a game or flip through some picture fact thing he finds. After screen time we check on them, once and the night is done.

Writing that down surprises me. For so long this routine that has gotten them comfortable and sleepy has been the cornerstone of our nights and now it isn't.  I am sure there will still be nights when extra tuck ins are needed or someone needs a little attention, but never again will we sing to soothe troubled foreheads or read Knuffle Bunny.

Embrace where they are going, celebrate where they have been, and appreciate the moments past.

Happy Holidays

Monday, December 19, 2011

Setting Expectatoins

Enjoying the holidays can be easy or tough. Sometimes it is hard to settle into the parties, kid performances, gift giving and general overhead the holiday can share with us.  One of the things that always seems to bite us is setting expectations. Expectations about what activities we can and cannot attend, what Santa can and cannot provide, and this year how great the snow will be at Mema and Popi's.

We have been spending Christmas up in Garden Valley for a few years now. These Christmas's are usually filled with great food, fun presents, and some seriously fun in the sun snow time. Sadly, there hasn't been a lot of snow this year.  Lets be honest it is colder than crap without a cloud in the sky and has been for weeks.  The  tubing hill started making snow and opened this week, but only three runs and it will not be the same.  There won't be a fort or snowball fights with the dog and sledding won't happen. This doesn't mean we won't have a good time though. With Popi's Christmas Village, Mema's goodies and craft space, the movie room and a big tub to play in things will be fine, they will just be different. Before we take them up there though and they see no snow, we need to let them know what is up and set the expectation.

Expectations help us all be better prepared for life in general but there are days I just don't want to do it. I don't want to be the one that has to help them reset their expectations. Looking at those faces when telling them that there will be no snow, or Santa maybe can't afford that SUCK. The flip side of lowering the expectation is that when something turns out great, like last Christmas, it is super wonderful and fun and resetting the expectations means the kids aren't disappointed if things don't work out. There are a lot of things that even without snow will be fun and I am sure there will be snow in a few weeks time and we can head up and have fun then.

Here are a few pictures from last year and I am sure this years pictures will be great, just without snow.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mom Time...

The last few years have defiantly been spent taking care of the kids, to the detriment of a lot of things. Due to limited household finances and time there have been a lot of time the Hubs and I haven't done things, or have gotten take out or have generally scurried through life without making sure we were taking care of ourselves.

We have decided that time needs to come to an end. We love the kids and want to do right by them, but to do that we need to take care of ourselves. No more excuses, no more missing things we really want to do because we want more time as a family. As a family there is quality and quantity and know that the kids are older we are striving for quality, not quantity.  The kids can partially fend for themselves, a single parent can manage an hour or so daily and no one will be screaming bloody murder when the other gets home. We can give up car pooling so that each of us gets the time we need. We have adjusted and though we continue to adjust things are moving in the right direction.

The last few months we have been making an effort to get  to the gym and have been meal planning more. We have learned we do better if we meal plan dinners for the month and lunches for the week. We also make sure there is always enough of the regular snack and breakfast fair around. Fresh fruits and vegetables are usually bought twice a month and generally we have been following the meal plan. The meal plan has led to less processed foods, more expansion of our food palate, and a lot less fast food.  The gym has been another beast all together, the Hubs and I both are striving to be healthy, but there are days it is tough to find the time. We are making that time creatively. I now get up at 4:30 am daily and get in a really good work out before work, to keep my strength training on track and keep me going regularly to the gym I have gotten a trainer two days a week. The trainer is a new experience and honestly if I can still walk down the stairs at the end of this week I will be really proud of myself. On the other side of the coin the Hubs goes to the gym after work. This leaves me with after school activities and dinner, but I was doing most of that anyways. On the rare night Hubs gets home early he helps with dinner and things are even easier.  The concession that has been the hardest for me is making the choice to let the kids get picked up late if I get stuck at work. Thursdays tend to be a tough day for me to get out on time, but with Hubs dropping off he would miss gym time if he had to pick up. We no longer have an after school activity on Thursdays and honestly there is nothing wrong with leaving the kids there a little longer one day a week, for some reason I just struggle with it. Eventually I am sure we will adjust to the Thursday craziness, but until then, if you see me posting to Twitter or Facebook frantically on a Thursday, just know I am desperately trying to get out of work and on with the second job I prefer, being two peoples moms.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baking for all and being gluten free





 
I love to bake. I have been baking since I was young and there isn't much I enjoy more than being able to make goodies from family and friends, especially this time of year.  Needing to change my eating habits to be gluten free has put a crimp it that baking though.  There was a year I cooked nothing with regular flour and made everything gluten free, the kids and husband were miserable. Then the next year I cooked all the old recipes and I didn't get to eat anything, then I was miserable.  Trying to balance the treats that are family traditions with gluten free recipes has become an effort. I have substituted gluten free flour for regular flour, things have tasted off. I have abandoned my old recipes for new ones, changing the traditions that we have come to count on. On top of this I don't want to leave the Christmas season 10 pounds heavier because there are tons of treats for me to gorge on.  
This year I am striving for a balance of gluten free treats and yummy family traditions. The gingerbread got cooked with the old recipe, gluten free flour way didn't work. The gingerbread is really more about the kids getting to decorate with frosting and sprinkles more than anything else.  Nanny's Apple Cake Recipe was split, 3/4 made with regular flour and 1/4 gluten free, this way I still get the treat of Apple Cake, but everyone else gets to enjoy Apple Cake without a texture or taste change.  Honestly the texture and taste change is only picked up by a few people, but I prefer that people get the original, plus gluten free flour is expensive.  For the cookie exchange I made a family favorite, Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies, the cookies weren't gluten free, but are always a big hit.  At the cookies exchange I get to pick up some chocolate that is gluten free and everyone loves these festive tasty cookies. The last cookie recipe I made was a new gluten free Chocolate Peppermint Wafer Cookie Recipe.  The chocolate peppermint cookies were awesome and I feel the glee of cookies during the holiday without feeling like I am going to OD on cookies.  The gluten free cookies are a great treat for me when everyone else is gorging on gingerbread men so layered in frosting that the cookies merely becomes a vehicle to get more frosting in your mouth.  The Chocolate Peppermint Cookies were suppose to be two wafers with frosting in the middle, I did what I called 'open faced chocolate peppermint cookies'.
I think this year we may have found a great mix of holiday traditions and new ideas.  The gluten free chocolate peppermint cookies will defiantly be back next year along with all the other favorites. 
You might be assuming the kids do all this baking with me, they don't.  It isn't that they aren't interested in learning to bake, or that I don't want to teach them. This baking is for others and because of that I am not 100% comfortable that the kids have enough hygiene and cooking knowledge to participate with me quite yet. For now they will continue to bake when we aren't sharing the goodies being cooked. That way when they lick the spoon and put it back in the bowl I can laugh and not be horrified that I am going to give someone a gift my kids have licked already.    
What is your holiday baking looking like? Are you making the old standards or trying something new?
Happy Baking.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The mommy cringe........

Last Friday night Bean and Chicken completed their high green belt testing. Though Bean passed, within 15 minutes of the test starting her and I were both in tears. 

I think her tears were because of extreme frustration with herself and the situation and mine were because I had to watch her struggle and could do nothing to help. In the last months we have made great stride with focus and anxiety with Bean.  She is taking a medication to help, but additionally we have talked with her a lot about slowing down, thinking before acting, taking a deep breath. and only focusing on what she needs to get done at the time. Somehow this all went out the window Friday night.  

In my mind Friday night was going to be great, this was the fourth belt test, we knew the drill everything would be fine, it was so not fine. There are a lot of reasons this may have happened and I am trying to sort through which issues we can assist Bean with going forward so this won't be a problem in the future.  One issue was that the test was late for us, the higher the belt the later the test and the test was at 7pm for green belts. All green belts sit for green belt testing, regular green belts first, high green belts second. Bean and Chicken were high green belts and had to sit and watch 10 other kids test before it was there turn.  Having to wait and think about all the tests to come and watching kids go through forms she isn't doing would not be helpful to her. Another issue was that I had been the one taking her to class since the Hubs was sick, there is an outside chance the change shook her and made her jumpy. It was a Friday, usually a down day and that could have impacted her. Lastly, she may just not have been as prepared as we thought.  So with all these possible problems which ones do I try and take on and deal with.  The one I see as easiest to address is making sure Bean is really prepared and preferably not by her brother.  Chicken learns forms pretty easily and frequently ends up helping her, she is much more confident though when she feels confident in class for about a week ahead of testing, and she didn't this time. Another thing we will tackle is making sure Bean knows about the test ahead of time and is mentally prepared, part of that preparedness will be a good nights sleep and making sure she isn't too wound up ahead of time. 

Back to testing night. The students sit through the green belts testing and it is time for high green to test. Bean, Chicken and two other kids were the only high green belt testers, it would just be the four of them.  This was the smallest group to test that Bean and Chicken had ever been in and Bean looked nervous. The Master spoke and the kids started with their forms testing, Bean did ok the first walk through, on the silent walk through she faltered. Suddenly there was panic in her eyes and a shaking in her legs.  The Master asked her to do it again alone, to calm down and try again. She did and she messed it up again, the next time one of the other instructors counted it off for her, she still faltered.  This time when her form turned her back our way I could see she was crying. The other instructor corrected her mistakes and they asked her to sit down. She was in tears though not crying enough to be visible from the back.  The boys next to Bean worked through their sparing, Chicken totally rocked it out, Nan still looked visibly shaken.  This is where I wanted to kiss the Master, he asked that one of the instructors come in to spare with Bean, an instructor she trusted.  Within her first spare Bean was back in into the test and did amazing. She rocked out the sparing and the Korean terms, which she has always struggled with. They passed her and all the other parents were incredibly supportive.

Ultimately though our kids will have rough days and failure is a possibility.  This will not be the first time I watch her struggle so publicly, it will not be the first time I want to save her. I know in my heart though, the times I don't save her and she succeeds will be the best and sweetest successes.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Making Ornaments

There are a lot of holiday fun times around the corner, but it always starts the season off right to do a little crafting the day after Thanksgiving.  Instead of Black Friday, we modge podge Friday.  With some friends in town we ended up at the craft store very early on Friday and picked up a bunch of clear glass ornaments 3 boxes for 10 dollars.  With some other supplies floating around the house, paint modge podge, a sharpie; and a few extras at the store, snow man stickers and fake snow the kids spent most of Friday making ornaments.

I had never decorated glass ornaments and wasn't totally sure what we were doing so there were some successes and failures.  The first issue was that we put too much paint inside the ornaments. We tried to paint the inside of a few ornaments and after hanging them upside down to get the extra paint out a few still cracked because of the amount of paint still in them. Another tip we had to learn was to decoupage any ornaments that we put stickers, paint or shapies on the outside of, then the items stay on and don't get shmeared off. The fake snow was a bitch to get into the ornaments, but ended up really looking amazing.  When working on decoupaging something to the back of an ornament it is a good idea to use like a sealant glue around the edge so that when you paint the background later the paint doesn't bleed into the paper you just stuck on.  Sharpies work better for kids to get on eye balls on faces instead of paint, sharpies are a lot easier to manipulate and manage.  Lastly; glass, glue, glitter, and paint in combo can be a total mess so it's good to use a table clothe you can throw out after. Hubs has temporarily banned glitter and it is understandable, there is glitter everywhere.

The part that I thoroughly enjoyed was having the kids make wish ornaments.  We got the over sized round ornaments and encouraged the kids to decorate these to represent the things they love most. Bean went for a bear, with pom pom ears and a cute bear face. Chicken got bored of the whole activity and I made his, which was in BSU colors with his name. Then all the kids wrote out their Christmas wishes on the computer and put them in their ornaments.  It was all too cute, and me and the other mom present ended up prying out the wishes later that night to make sure we knew what was on their lists. Chicken besides wanting a full size football, wanted his family to be happy and healthy.  Seeing what great people your kids are becoming is just too awesome sometimes.

What crafting are you all up to these days with your family?  We have a few more craft opportunities with out Activity Advent Calendar, thanks Rhonda, so it should be a fun few weeks. Have a wonderful time in this family and friends time of year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My couch smells really bad....

I have been sitting on the couch trying to write for a bit right now and something is distracting me.  My couch smells NASTY. Not like kid, animal fur, people smell nasty; it smells like a herd of sheep have peed on my couch......

Honestly I am a pretty clean person and try hard to keep my house clean and smelling mostly good. As much as I strive to keep a clean home I somehow struggle more than the standard person with odd animal smells. Lets be honest I just struggle when it comes to cleaning up animals. For years we had Natures Miracle in the house which was amazing to keep the animal smell mostly at bay.  Since we have moved beyond baby animals in the last year the Natures Miracle isn't around, so a friend suggested white vinegar. Now my house smells like a heard of sheep peed with a back smell of vinegar. I have used bleach wipes and carpet animal cleaner stuff on everything, couch, pillows, you name it. It still smells like a sheep vinegar pee puddle with a antiseptic smell.  The couch is old and animal abused, but no new couch till the cat dies, and I am almost positive the smell is in the couch.
This leaves a question.

HOW DO I GET THE SMELL OUT OF MY LIVING ROOM

I know this wasn't any great kid, family, holiday chat. The smell and the grossness associated with the fact I am sitting anywhere near it is total giving me a case of squeamish heebies.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday..Monday

After a week at home I jump back into the saddle of life and work again. Last week after being pretty ill Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday we had some friends up for the four day weekend. We spent Thursday on the usual traditions; lots of food and Festival or Trees. Friday, we actually went out into the throngs, man was that a bad idea. I ended up coming home from the Black Friday madness and did all my Christmas shopping online.  The girls spent Friday making Christmas ornaments a messy but surprisingly fun activity, this one might be a new tradition. Chicken played outside so hard he slept well for the next two days. There isn't a lot else to say in regards to the holiday, expect that like all other families we have decorated for Christams and started the quick jaunt towards the next holiday break. Hopefully the kids will survive the first day back at school after the break and I will survive the craziness of all the things I need to get done in the next few weeks.

One thing that we put on our priority list this year was family portraits. I have wanted really good professional pictures of the kids for a long time. This year a great friend, Noelle Veldhouse was able to take some amazing family pictures and I love them.



What are you taking the time for this year? What is your to do list looking like these days? I am so glad we added the pictures and think I will make this a more regular activity in the future.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful Traditions

Family traditions are everywhere and are particularly noticeable in the holiday seasons.  When Hubs and I first got married we lived away from both our families and in the hopes of setting up some traditions for our family to be I declared Thanksgiving a no travel holiday.  Anyone was invited, but we were having turkey in whatever town we were living in and were not traveling. 14 years later we still have Thanksgiving in town, and I really enjoy the chance to be home for this of all holidays, and have some set family traditions.

Thanksgiving is one of those unique holidays that is what you make of it, and we have made a good time of it. We have a few set traditions that no matter what we do, and there is one in particular that absolutely adore, Festival of Trees.  The Festival of Trees is a fundraiser for a local hospital and a number of organizations and individuals come together to create amazing trees around different themes. On Thanksgiving the Festival of Trees opens in the afternoon and before gorging on turkey or after, we go wander the holiday joy that this event creates.  The few times we have considered not being in town, I have always wanted to find a way to still go to Festival of Tress, it just starts the holidays off right for me. We tend not to abide by any particular food for Turkey Day or Christmas for that matter.  We have done steak, pizza, Chinese, we are flexible on food as long as there is plenty of it.   New Years generally means a big breakfast and a lot of doing nothing.  I always do a lot of baking and we enjoy sharing all the goodies with our neighbors.  These small things are our traditions, they are the things we remember year to year, but what of new traditions?

Where do you fit new traditions and ideas into your family holiday?  What are the things you remember and always will about your current holiday traditions? and what traditions from the past do you try and find a place for today?

For the past 6 years or so I have been striving to find a place in our traditions for an Advent Calendar, but not the chocolate one of my childhood, one that focuses on kindness to others and family time. There have been a myriad of attempts and non starters.  Thankfully one of the moms I know that is a Scrapbooker is doing a Advent Calendar workshop and I will be making a calendar this year. I am hoping it's small compact size and a list of activities will help.  I am hoping by the 3rd to be happily moving along with a new family Advent Calendar tradition.

TV shows are another big tradition for a lot of families and yet another one that I am often over whelmed by. As kids there were a handful of shows you would generally know when and where they were on and you were good. Now, there are tons of shows and they are on at all times and channels and I have a heck of a time catching up with what is on when. Generally this isn't a big deal as we don't watch TV during the week, but when school is out we are a lot more lax and making sure both kids get to see their favorite holiday show can be tough. Maybe I should just DVR it all?

Have a great turkey day...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Accomplishments and Goals

As parents I think sometimes it is easy to lose yourself in your work and your kids. Somehow you become, Bean's Mom and at work yiu become the position you work. The goal for me is to do quality impacting work as a parent as an employee. Sometimes though I forget that I am also a person and before this job and before these kids, I had interests and pursuits that had little to do with a job or kids. This month I committed to pursuing one of those interests again, writing. I participated in the nanowrimo challenge, the challenge to write 50,000 words, loosely a novel, in a month.

I finished yesterday, quite a few days earlier than the time line of the 30th.

What do you do to pursue your interests that are not tied to your family? Where do yiu find yourself in the madness of day to day life?

Finishing 50,000 words though maybe not a big accomplishment to some, feels pretty good. I have no intention of sharing this first attempt, but I have ideas for a few more that may be become more than an idea some day. The real thing that came out of this is the reminder that I am a person outside of a wife, mom, and worker bee and that there are pursuits I have that are mine alone. There are goals we all have as people and somehow this reminded me that they are just as important and need attention too.

In this time of year when we give to our fellow man, remember to give to yourself also, and feed your dreams, interests and goals. Those are the things that make us better wives, moms, and employees anyways.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Post Angry Bird Wrap Up..What Didn't Work

If you didn't read Mondays post go back and read it, last time was the positive fun time post, this one is the oh god I am never doing this that way again post.

First Pinata chaos, I will never do another pinata in quite that way.



Now that you have seen the video I think you know why I will never go dancing down pinata alley again.

The Sling Shot died early, we put together the sling shot with things lying around the house and it could have really used more love and attention. It did well for about and hour and then just started to get sketchy and was flinging things madly. I would also consider multiple sling shots or some way to distract one set of kids while another set of kids played with the sling shot, there was always a line and a number of kids wandered into the sling shot battle zone to retrieve bean bags while other kids were launching bean bags, not a good combo generally.

Since I am on the things that were good, but I wouldn't go quite the same way, activities.  There defiantly wasn't enough for the kids to do, they sped through two of the activities to get to the sling shot fun, or ignored the other activities completely.  I could have hooked up the crazy seven year old boy contingent present at the party to a tread mill and light the house for the next hour with the amount of energy they had, I just didn't have enough options to get that energy out.

Also on the activities front, stick glue doesn't work as well on sandwich bags as you would think, next time I will eat the mess and use real glue.

Party was a little too long. The party was set for three hours, it should have been two. The boys ran out of things to do and I was happy that as they all headed home there were not more tears.

So I am now finished with all the Angry Bird party craziness and you may now continue all your party planning in peace.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Post Angry Bird Wrap Up..What Worked

With the planning and organizing any party causes afterward a good wrap up is always needed and since I have cute pics and things went well and not so well I will be breaking this up into two posts.

First what worked, these are the things I liked and went well and I would do again.

The food buffet, I set up what I thought was a great good buffet and it was mostly single serving, this worked great for kids running through to get grab and go and then there weren't as many fingers touching lots of food.

For the second time in a row we have done a party out in our garage. This lets the mess and craziness of the party be focused outside of the house, even when the weather isn't ideal.  What I love about using the garage is that the mess is contained and somehow the noise doesn't drown the house.

The decorations and invitations. You have already heard about the invites, but I haven't shared as many decorations. I used paper lanterns from oriental trading company and free templates from online and was able to make some great birds and pigs and they looked great all over the house. I also found some peel and stick Angry Birds and they ended up looking great in the garage and not getting trashed by the kids.


Activities and the dreaded sling shot, there were positive and negatives to both these things, but this post was about the positives. The activities were varied and all the kids had the chance to participate. The sling shot on the positive side gave the boys something to to for a good amount of time before things got out of control.

Lastly, the absolutely best part about these parties and the reason the Hubs puts up with me doing them and I like to do them, seeing our friends. It seems like we are all so busy and so distracted, we dont' have a chance to just be with people and we all got a great chance to get together and enjoy an afternoon together and that was the best.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Illness..

I don't know about the rest of you, but this time of year our house in like a sick ward just about every other week.  It seems like someone always has the sniffles, grown ups included. The problem is having a sick kiddo doesn't just mess with their schedule or your schedule it is like a pebble in a stream with far reaching scheduling issues.

Let me explain why one sick kid in my house means no fun for friends, family and anyone else within a circle of us. One kid goes down, one parent stays home, this may mean extra driving duties and chores for other parent and sibling possibly not going to other activities due to scheduling. Loss of work for for parent home with sick kid means their work junk doesn't get done meaning making up missed work, which means rearranging the scheduling again, which means possible loss of family time, more driving cooking, cleaning and other home junk not getting done or being shifted around.  This is when general crankiness breaks out throughout the household. Of course now child one feels better and either parent of child two get ill, rinse wash repeat and now play dates are canceled the lawn isn't getting mowed and generally the break out has occurred. Even with a very thorough Lysol douching of the house, the kids and the pets it usually takes about a month, with a few days between each illness before said cold/malaise has worked it's way through the entire home, only to be repeated again in another month or so.

Admittingly we don't seem to be the healthiest family on the block. Somehow someone in our house is always bringing home something, but it isn't like we are licking dirty Kleenex. We wash our hands when we get home, and don't hug the snotty kids. Of note we all have allergies, various ones and many seasonal, I sometimes think this in general makes our house a bit susceptible in the spring and fall when we seem to battle these things. Really though we just need 4 solid months of NO ONE in the house sick at all and I swear we would be so much better off.

I realize in this vent I am speaking to the choir, most of you are fighting the good fight with illness, but for those that aren't. If you come to work and sneeze on me, I swear I will lick your keyboard with my germy mouth next time I have the flu.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Morning Work Out Rant

I have been trying to get myself together in the mornings and haul my sorry, but to the gym. I am by no means in good shape, chubby, is a great description and I can be downright fowl in the mornings. For those other folks that have to put up with my cranky emotional unstable fat behind in the mornings I have a few hints to help get you through your work out and shower time without bodily harm from me.

1. Don't wear perfume/cologne, it is 5am your natural smell is bad enough, your natural smell paired with some horrid over used flowerly,musky nastiness is only going to make me barf on your treadmill.

2. Don't talk about how 'lite' of a workout day it is and proceed to list 5 things taking multiple hours where only executing one would kill me. Though you are amazing and the work out queen, I am a sweating mess next to you and don't want to hear about how easy this all is for you.

3. If you are a sweater of the type that it flies off your body and you towel it off and then flit it so your sweat gets on me, make sure there is a little space between us. If we end up working out on machines right next to each other, flick your sweat on the guy on the other side of you, not ME.

4. Don't bring you kid to the gym to work out at 5am, they are tired don't stay on any equipment more than five minutes and generally take up space that my crankiness doesn't want to deal with, especially when they yell across the gym to you.

5. Don't look at me in the locker room like I just peed on the floor, I am over weight, have had kids and generally am not in the best body shape right now, and your horrified look is not helping. Give me a break at least I am here trying to get myself in a better place and your look is not helping my morning motivation.

6. Don't use the gym hair dryer to dry any hair unless it is on your head, GROSS.

7. While drying your hair please don't think I need a hot wind bath, is just moves the sweat and wet around.

8. Lets talk nudity, you knew I was going to go there. Please oh god please, don't flaunt in or stand right in front of me while you talk to your friend and I tie my shoes, I don't want to get that close to your personals.

9. After am hour working out and the horrors in the locker, I do not want to pass a sweaty person and even feel their sweat let alone have to touch it, please people we can all walk single file, there is no need to walk three sweaty people across and block the isle for those of us that are not CLEAN.

10. Lastly, to the naked lady in the stream room, PLEASE PLEASE, put a towel under it.

Thank you,
From the chubby lady singing in the corner taking up one piece of equipment for an hour.

Monday, October 31, 2011

When your kid opts for the unknown Halloween Costume

Bean is a kick in the pants of a kid and her kooky factor is really high, this tends to lead to somewhat off the beaten path Halloween costumes.  This year is no different, she has picked something no one will recognize at first sight, and when told what she is they still don't know.


This is not the first time an unusual costume has been selected that has been generally unknown, there was the Creepy year. Bean wanted to be Creepy from the series about a little girl being raised by bugs. Creepy is into bugs and a goth, you can guess how that went over with 6 year old Beans friends, they looked at her like she was crazy.  That time she at least picked something that the occasionally 5 or 6 year old had seen and thought was cool, but it was only a handful. Back then we got looks from other parents like we had dressed her up like a hooker, how could we let her pick that. Creepy was out of the norm, unrecognizable and weird, we thought it was cool.  We had a number of people ask why we didn't try to get her to pick something else, why was what we always said. Why try to deny a kid their chance at imagination, even if it outside the norm.  Halloween isn't about being conformist, it is about being a superhero, a fairy or even a character from a TV show not a lot of people watch.

So when you kid picks a funky non traditional thing, do you try and get them to change to something more recognizable or just totally go with it?  We have traditionally gone with it, Chicken was a ball one year.  With girls costumes moving towards being on the slutty side, I went with this non traditional costume idea just like I have in the past. The cool thing about her choice, it was culled mostly from her closet with a few accents, she decided to be Claudia from Warehouse 13.  For a 9 year old girl child I see Claudia as a great character; she's techie, a critical thinker, she puts herself out there, is musical, and is adventurous.  This isn't saying that she isn't flawed which makes her such a great character.  The kids have gotten into watching Warehouse 13 in the last year and though the show can have adult themes generally it is a great show for us all to watch together. The thing is no one we have run into on the Halloween circuit yet has any idea who Claudia is, and Bean could care less.  I am totally fine with her doing what she wants and being who she wants, but I see when she tells people who she is and they don't register it that there is a disconnect between the two children standing there in their costumes. This is one more thing that stands out and makes me see she is headed down that path where not everyone around her will get her, but when she finds those ones that do it will be like coming home.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pinata Trouble

Apparently I cannot make a Pinata.....

I had recently seen two great blogs about pinata making, Cindy deRosier's Strawberry Pinata and Mannic Mommies Angry Bird Pinata.  After reading both blogs I figured, I could do that, I was WRONG.

Take one I did the balloon and tape from Mannic Mommies, got the first layer of newspaper on and set it out to dry. The balloon popped, the newspaper caved in on one side of itself.  I think setting it out in the hot sun wasn't good and the newspaper was two thin.

Take two, yes I was crazy enough for a take two.  This was the all or nothing attempt I was not going to do this again.  First, I went with a the flour paste vs the glue paste, I tried the glue the first time. A thicker first layer of newspaper was in order. It was cold and wet outside so pinata production was going to be kitchen based.  I should have known trouble was brewing when I pasted both my pants and newspaper to the kitchen floor. Additionally the paste got EVERYWHERE, the whole time I kept saying I promise I will clean it all up. The first layer went ok, but messy, it was think and really wet. I set it aside to dry and went about my day. The next day I checked on it and there were two problems, it was still partially wet and it had shrunk and was wrinkled, really wrinkled. At this point I was tired and done.

An Angry Bird pig just seemed like something I should have been able to do and in frustration I reached out to my mom board for ideas and headed to the store to pick up Halloween stuff. At the store inspiration hit, and saved me. There was one decent looking pumpkin pinata left. The store attendant got it down for me and with some green spray paint, a plastic egg, a birthday hat and a template off the internet, ta-dah pig pinata. It isn't pretty but a bunch of boys will be using a sling shot to try and break it open, they won't even notice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Angry Bird Party Part 1

We are getting ready to put on an Angry Birds party for Chicken the weekend after next.  I am one of those go a little over the top kind of folks so figured I would share some of the fun here in a multi-part series. This first part will be short as it will only cover initial planning and the party invite.

As soon as Chicken started getting into Angry Bird I knew a party couldn't be too far behind and I wanted to do something that would be Angry Birds, but tie in the birthday. I like to draw so made the painting you see above. To get the basics of drawing the birds I started with a freehand sketch of what I wanted with a picture of all the birds nearby as a reference.  Then I needed a theme, the theme of the drawing and what would become the theme of the party was that those pesky pigs had stole all Chicken's presents and would the guests come help us get the presents back. When parties get planned this way I always try to think of the amount of people, food choices, activities; more than once I have picked a theme and come up empty with activities or food.  There are still a few blanks with this party, but I will share what I have already put together.

Planning a party like this involves more planning for me before a whole lot of action on my part. Once the theme was done and the painting was going to happen, who to invite and how came into play.  I really would have liked to send out invites though the mail but coming up with an invite I liked just wasn't happening and I had a painting. Using evite I imported my picture and made some custom RSVP sayings: Yes became Load me in the sling shot, no was flying south for the winter and maybe became not sure scaredy bird. What I love about evite is that I can send out invites a little late, it is really easy to get email addresses and this way I didn't have to bother with print outs addresses or anything else.  Then we started looking at activities to do with the kids; there must be a pinata, more about that in another post. Then the sling shot idea started the current plan is to build a slingshot in the garage and use a bunch of boxes as the bricks and beach balls as pigs. Lastly I am thinking of having the kids make bird feeders the ones that are seeds and peanut butter, something a little mellow but at the same time bird focused.  Food was the next idea center, this is an afternoon party and I wanted to keep the food easy with a lot of boys I have noticed it can get crazy.  I have made the test cupcakes once already with candy and frosting we will be having Angry Bird Cup cakes. For snacks I am currently learning towards bird food(trail mix), bacon and a fruit tray with dip.  Decorations will be paper lanterns decorated like birds.

What do you think am I missing anything need to add anything? Have you done an Angry Bird party and had a great success or failure?

Monday, October 24, 2011

What do your kiddos know about Cyber Security

Bean is accessing a website for her math homework and I was trying to figure out if I could viewPenguin  how many minutes she had done last week when she happily offered up her username to me so I could log in as her, I froze. Immediately I asked, have you ever told anyone else your username and password? She gave me that really weird look like I had plants growing out of my ears and said no, who would want that?

Seeing as we log the kids into and out of our home machine Bean had never had a username and password, nor had we ever talked about what that means. Yes, Club Penguin has a username and password, but we always log them in and out or we tell them the log in info as they are logging in. I have never thought to talk to them about keeping their information private. Yes, I am an idiot, I work in IT, I know better this should be something both kids know and live by, but they don't and I hadn't.

I stopped trying to figure out how to get minutes per week on her math website and asked her what her computer class and told her about user names. She said that a username and password is how she logs in to her website and gave me that you have plants in your ears look. I explained that her username and password were unique to her and that if someone got that information they could get into her math account as her. She said she didn't care if someone logged in as her. So I asked, well what would happen if someone logged in as you and failed the math sections on purpose so you would lose points and drop in the rankings. Her line, 'you don't lose points for that', ARRGG. I tried again, ok what if Chicken got into your Club Penguin account and set your triffle guy free (the little pet things).  This immediately angered her, she looked at Chicken and said I would make sure you failed and lost all your coins.  After I stopped the fight that was suddenly brewing, I reminded Bean that to prevent her brother from this all she had to do was not let him know her username and password. I light bulb went off, we were back on track, so you shouldn't tell people your username and password because then they can mess up your stuff on the web. YES....

This is only the beginning of the conversations we will need to have about computer safely and the internet.  Somehow during this process I realized like teaching our kids about sex, drugs, how to handle bullies and all those other things that we have to constantly discuss at the maturity level are kids are at, computer security and protecting your identity and yourself online is another thing to add to the list.

Can't wait till the sexting conversation...

Update: we ended up having another conversation this weekend about watching appropriate things on the Internet, and talking to mom and dad before you just go look something up. She was curious how nipples get pierced and Utubed it. Hubs Looked over her shoulder, saw the vid and just about died... Next subject appropriate things to look up and ensuring you always see a professional when you want tattoos or peircings.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Picture Organization and Use..HELP

 I took these pictures last year leading up to Halloween and at our family party. I love to take pictures and I love these pictures, I just don't seem to be using them. A few of the pictures from this party have graduated to one of the digital picture frames we have. A few pictures have made it to Facebook to be shared with family and friends. The majority as much as I love them are languishing in a file on our external drive.

Scrap booking is something I love, but don't really have a great set up for right now, so I don't do it very much. There always seems to be something else that needs to be done before or instead of me scrap booking. I am also years behind. I can pop out a travel album pretty well, most likely next summer I will sit down and over a few weekends knock out our family Disneyland trip from November 2010.  I will scrap it, but not journal it....
This is where I struggle, I can get the scrapping done, but I don't get the journaling done.  There are four albums in my office right now awaiting journaling and I have told myself no more scrapping till I journal.  So what has happened, I have pictures storing without notes stacking up on the hard drive, and albums and pictures sitting around the office not getting tended.  This all just makes this scrap booking seem more pain and less fun.  In general I am really just not getting things done with my hobbies. I am not making the time.


So I ask you..How are you storing your pictures for later use? Have you converted to digital to make it easier? Do you some how make notes on pictures or folders to keep track? Do you not scrap but do something else with your pictures? What is working or not working with your pictures?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Slowing Down and Making Bread

This weekend per usual we had big big plans. Go here, do this experience this..blah blah blah...

That all changed after a phone call from a friend and waking up with a sore throat.  Instead of a busy weekend running around we have mostly hung out and done nothing.  With both kiddos out of the house on Friday night the hubs and I hung out and I made muffins.  Baking is a favorite activity of mine and with a school function coming that I am cooking for the chance to make a try it out batch was perfect. We watched a movie, filled the house with yummy smells and eventually picked up our little happy zombie girl from daycare date night.

The next day again was planned, but immediately rescheduled to nothing in an instant.   Being gluten free unless I want to pay like 5 dollars for a loaf of bread that tastes so so I have to make it myself. Making bread is one of those baking skills I was never really all that good at.  Generally I don't take the time to make sure every thing is measured right, with proper temperature and the like.  With the kiddos distracted with various activities throughout the house, I decided to bake some bread, and actually pay attention to what was doing.  Baking bread is a throw back to me of my family far away. My dads mother and a number of his sisters all bake. When his sisters came to visit us from Newfoundland they brought their bread baking bowls with them. They used to warm their bread on my waterbed. For me homemade bread is love in a warm home made slice with butter.

Off the nostalgia kick and back on to my usual bread baking misadventures. Mixing the right gluten free bread combo to cook what you want can be really tough so I buy the remixed loaves.  Ultimately these mixes I get are the add oil, eggs, and water and it is all good. The thing that vexes me every single time I cook it the adding the yeast part, I have been wrestling with this forever and not succeeding. My yeast never rises and the assumption was that the water wasn't warm enough, I was wrong. This time when I poured the water I used the meat thermometer, the water turned out to be about 140 degrees, just a little warm for yeast since it is suppose to be about 110 degrees.  I had all the ingredients ready so just hung out until it was time. I decided to hand stir it also just to make sure all the ingredients mixed well without over stirring from a mixer. While all this was happening I helped the kids, picked up the kitchen and generally enjoyed the relaxation of nothing to do but watch bread bake. When the yeast was done I mixed everything and put the bread aside to rise then bake. The house smelled amazing, the bread was great and slowing down made all the difference.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Parent/Teacher Conferences....

So I cried in the middle of Parent/Teacher conference today...

Parent/Teacher conference is one of those activities that I get really nervous about. Their is something about parent teacher conference that reminds me of getting called to the principals office. Even though I haven't been playing at the school age mom game for long there have been some surprises during parent/teacher meeting that can make me a little skittish.  This year thankfully the surprise was an incredible good one.

I can't give you the lolly yet though, so lets talk Chicken. I was not happy about his placement this year, but I am starting to change my mind and this meeting reinforced that even more.  Turns out the crazy little monkey is smart as a tack and having success in class on a lot of levels. His math, reading, and spelling are looking really good. Honestly I wasn't worried about him academically there are other things I worry about with him.  He learn to use his hand prattling and he tends to rush through reading and writing activities making more mistakes than is really necessary or appropriate.  Generally speaking though the kids doesn't have any thing that I don't still have as an adult, I tend to interrupt at meetings and over rush through things without as much detail. With awareness our hope is that these things improve with time, practice and focus.

Walking through the meeting with his teacher though gave me a great glimpse into how she does things and gave me a chance to really chat with her. As I listened to his teacher explain the manipulative nature of the activities she does, the way she asks for one thing a lot of ways, it struck me. It struck me that even though I may not get the warm fuzzies from this woman, she is a good match for my son.  She is consistent, uses a lot of hands on manipulation to work something out, and though there are worksheets they are short and presented in a way to keep his attention.  After the meeting we talked about ways to continue to help Chicken learn math skills and I am now going to volunteer in class next week to learn all the fun math games that we can do at home as a family. The final verdict on the first grade conference is good and we can both work together for the education of Chicken.

Now to the good part where I cry.  Walking into Bean's classroom with her wonderful teachers there was no telling what could come out of it, there were big warm fuzzies here I just wasn't sure what her academic performance was going to say. Honestly there was a little bit of preparing for the worst, I had a lot of fear that bean was already falling behind and that we were going to hear reading scores below grade level. They started by telling me how much they loved having Bean in class and what a great kid she is, I knew that. Then they got down to the business at hand and slid a 'score card' of her performance. I was so concerned that I didnt' really look at the paper at first blush, then they kept talking about how great she was doing at this point I looked. She is at or above grade level in ALL subjects. Our baby girl who we had fought so hard for the last 8 months was doing well, not just doing well but thriving. I started crying, couldn't help it, the relief that washed through my boy at that moment the pride.. After the teachers were so good as to get me a tissue I was able to pull myself together and we could finish up.

Listening to the rest of the meeting, on cloud nine, about the wonders of my amazing kid was just a treat. She is doing wonderful, her reading and writing are improving, she is articulate in class and very responsible.  When the teachers told me she was responsible, diligent, focused and could easily follow all her directions beautifully in class with out issues. At this point my mouth just about dropped open and stopped. 'I feel a little bad, I think it is the meds', I told the teachers. Their response was loosely whatever makes them successful is worth it and if she is focused to learn how to handle herself eventually she will be fine on her own.  I love these women and part of the reason Bean is doing so great is that she LOVES them too.  For some kids I think the teacher really makes the experience and that is the case here. Now even though she is doing fabulous we all need to keep an eye on things, be aware of where she is struggling and not let her hide when she does run into difficulties.

Looking forward I am expecting a great year for both kids and am really excited by all the things coming up this year. Both kids have teachers who like them and are out for their best interest. I feel like when there are concerns arising I can talk to these teachers. Maybe, just maybe I will get over my fear of parent/teacher conferences by the time the kids hit middle school, huh?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pictures

This weekend I started looking through the pictures from the last year, somewhere in there has to be a picture I can use for a Christmas card right. I know Christmas talk already, but if I am going to get a picture, order the cards and get them out in the first weeks of December some serious planning needs to occur.  I noticed something though in the pictures I had, I didn't have that many. There used to be a time the kids would put on a hat and I would grab the camera, not so much now.  I still take pictures and enjoy the pictures I take, but with the business of life I don't scrapbook as much as I used to and our camera is older, so I just don't take as many pictures. I have also realized I so enjoy being in the moment with the kids, that I don't always remember to take out my camera.  The question now is, what do I do about our Christmas card then, is there a picture or pictures that will work? Do I put the kids in some cute clothes, drag them to the mall and put them in room and just let the photo place do the rest? The other option is to take them out to one of the amazing parks in town to get some good shots on out own. This method has worked in the past, but there are so many other people out at the same time it is almost worse than a photo studio.

I love fall and I always seem to take a lot more pictures in the fall, this is probably the chief reason I start hunting pictures this time of year.  I have read all the ways you are suppose to get kids to smile and work with the natural light, and blah blah blah, but really if my two are looking my direction I am going for it.  Chicken and bean can be really accommodating for pictures and generally I can get a few good shots out of 10, but they are never enthused to go take pictures in the leaves.   We tried once with the dogs and that was almost an animal planet special on how to take out the kids the dogs were so unruly.  Most of our family lives far away so I know the pictures are appreciate, I just want to show a great picture and have it not be like everyone else.  I never know quite what to do with Christmas cards and leaving myself plenty of time to think about it always seems good. Until it is well into November, I have no ideas and I need something.

Who know what will come picture wise in the next weeks that will save me. Right now I am thinking of dressing them up and dragging them to the park.  Maybe a Christmas camera would make it all better.  How do you set up and decide on your Christmas cards and holiday pictures?  

When I think about these things I always think about how the food networks and crafts shows shooting all the holiday stuff in the summer and imagine someone with a professional photographer in their house 4th of July weekend in thick holiday sweaters. 

The pictures shown today are the current front runners right now, but I can't think of a cute saying to go with them yet.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Learning Challenges and Research Papers

Bean is an amazing kid and has great qualities, but research projects show off all the learning obstacles that it seems she will be faced with long term.  In very few other ways do I so wholly see everyone of the issues that Bean faces with learning than when she has to do research to write something up. Usually I tend to go LOCO IMPATIENT CRAZY trying to get her through these projects too, which never helps the situation.  Lets start at the beginning of these oh so beautiful projects and walk our way through her challenges and my mental breakdown.

When an assignment comes home Bean is usually really excited and interested in the project. Knowing that focus is an issue I try to get some idea of what Bean wants to do and then we start talking about the work needed to do it, at this stage Bean gets sad. Work, work that isn't the fun stuff, but actual work.

I admit this is also where I lose guidance on where she is at developmentally, what can a normal third grader do on their own?  What should I expect and encourage her to do with little involvement from us? The one disadvantage we have in this whole kid thing is the one with challenges that are outside of my comfort zone came first. We won't know what is semi normal until Chicken is in third grade, and seeing as they are such different kids, what their norms are is drastically different too.  He is really motivated and independent and that works to our advantage with school assignments, that isn't Bean and that's OK. I need to figure out what to expect and then push her towards it, she has always needed a push to gain independence.

Sorry about that rant, back to your regularly scheduled report processing rant..

Before I start this paragraph, I have a lot of the same issues Bean has and I realize now what a total handful I must have been to deal with.

Information gathering is the most challenging aspect of any project that Bean works on.  Her reading is behind so it tends to take her a little longer to read through a web page. The processing issues we notice are making it tough for her to parse out the information that is important to her research. Her atrocious spelling and writing make it tough to take notes that are readable can be used later on, and she is slow in her writing, making it tough to remember what she started writing about in the first place.  The attention issues make it so she will happily diddle around in the office forever as long as no one interrupts her and she won't get the work done. What does this all mean? Well it means that I am trying to walk a really fine line of helping and not doing.  Whenever Bean starts a project I set her up on the PC get her through her first Google search and let her have at it, if she hasn't come out and asked a question in about 30 minutes it is time for some guided assistance.  Usually in those 30 minutes Bean has read the web page, but now has no idea what to do. We sit down and talk about the questions she wants answered, I ask her if the web page answered any of the questions. At this stage I either get the most incredibly vague answer to the question possible or a shoulder shrug. I scan the web page and pick a paragraph that has a piece or two of the information we need and have her read it. I ask her if there was anything that answered her questions in there? She usually can find one thing that answers a question, by the time she writes it down and I ask again she has forgotten the paragraph. I, at this point, re-read the paragraph to her and ask her again if there was anything important. Another item or so will come from this, but usually some type of conversation occurs that talks about the real meaning of the questions she wants answers for and what the information in the paragraph has to do with that. This information-gathering stage usually goes on for a few nights, with me feeding her smaller bites of web pages or books in a more manageable form for her, which is a mix of her reading it and me reading it to her.

Writing the report and doing the accompanying project are another phase of theses projects altogether. Honestly by the time the writing comes I am usually spent and my sanity is officially in doubt, but thankfully this is more where Bean can take it on her own. With notes from her research she writes a rough draft of her report after we put the pieces in an order that makes sense. She has gotten a lot better at organizing paragraphs and the like over the summer. First draft tends to be a spelling nightmare, but allow us to give some good grammar feedback, like all your sentences need periods. Second draft is pretty close and then the final is usually done on the paper that the teacher provides. The last part of most projects is the art or displaying of her research.  This takes quite a bit of talking to get a concise idea that keeps to a theme and meets the requirements. Once the talking is done she is pretty much left to her own devices. Her projects have always been fun at the end and a pain at the beginning, but isn't that how it is for most of us.



Any ideas greatly appreciated...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Balloon Rally....




A few weeks ago the yearly Balloon Rally happened and per usually we woke up early to go. There is something about hot air balloons that bring out the kid in all of us. The kids don't really love getting up early or walking to where the balloons launch, but as soon as hiss of the gas starts up Chicken starts pointing and jumping around and Bean gets this HUGE smile on her face. When they all those balloons start taking off with the crispness in the air and the giggles of the kids around me I can't do anything but smile.  Thankfully, the kids seem to enjoy the show as much as we do and after a cool morning watching balloons shoot into the air we make the run for a great local breakfast place. We have been going to this in balloon rally in it's many forms since before Bean could walk and just thinking about it makes me smile. When I think of family traditions a revel in the ones that we have created ourselves and this is defiantly one, and most defiantly one we will continue to do. Sorry this is a picture heavy one, I just love all the pictures over the last few years.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Things I LOVE having in the house

This will be a short one, I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off getting ready for a PTA event so I am going to keep it short and sweet. What things do you want, need, love in your house with kids bumping around the house.

LOVE, WANT NEEDS for my Kid friendly house

Paper - I have a huge sheet of butcher block paper that can always be used for bored people any age

Art/Craft Supplies - You have to have something to do with the paper and a pile of nasty crayons, markers, washable paint, glue and glitter are always good. As the kids have gotten older these supplies have been put in an accessible cabinet and can be used for school or fun. I try to keep a few cleaned out boxes, cartons, and toilet paper rolls around for crafts too, then the good stuff won't be destroyed for creativity.

Bins/Organizational Supplies - I have bins for everything, they keep me sane. The shoes have a bin, homework has a bin. All the coats get hung in the same place every day, back packs too. For me all this stuff though maybe a bit cluttery give me a consistent place to put things.

Books - I keep a huge variety of books in the house; picture, reading, reference. All these books give the kids the chance to explore on their own and lets me move on to something new when Chicken used to want to read 'Is Your Mama a Llama' for the 100th time. I am a total book fiend and love being able to watch the kids love of books grow.

Throw blankets - When it's cold blankets work for their given purpose to keep us warm, ALL over our house. In the heat they are used as inside picnic blankets, fort material, a carrying device and anything else we can think of

Juice boxes/Individual prepackaged snacks/Fresh Fruit - There are times when I don't want to or can't get over to go get a snack for someone, having the individual servings makes it easier. Yes there are juice boxes in the oddest places, but sometimes the easy route it worth the weird old juice smell in my car.

Cereal - I know this sounds crazy, but it functions as a quick snack or meal, can be turned into a fun dessert with marshmallows and functions as great bread crumbs in a pinch.

Netflix Instant Streaming - I have no idea how the changes to netflix will change this, but I am sure we will all know eventually.  There are days when if I have to listen to iCarley or there is nothing on but Zack and Cody I may lose my mind. This is stodgy me coming out, but there isn't a lot of TV I really like right now, besides a handful of shows.  Netflix instant download lets me just throw on something that will last more than a half hour and I know the content of before hand, though Angry Beavers is getting a trying.

LOCATION - we are located in a court and have a good size back yard, along with only having one not too busy street to pass to get to the park.  This gives us the chance to encourage outside play and Independence.  It also gives us a chance to clean the house in between kid tears through it.

Doors - There have been moments where I just needed to go into my own space and shut the door, before the kids needed therapy for life and I regret too much what I say.

Google - I come off way smarter than I am because I can look up just about anything.

What are you wants and needs to survive in your house of kids??


PS I am trying a new layout, what do you think?  I am a little bummed I can't add in all the linking I had in before, but I sort of like the layout. Your feedback will decide what I do.

Monday, September 26, 2011

'Shopping is a girls favorite thing to do!!`

While the Hubs was napping yesterday morning I took the kids and ran a few errands, knowing that us being gone means more peaceful sleep I asked if there was anywhere the kids wanted to go to kill some time.  Bean ripped out with 'Lets go to the mall, shopping is a girls favorite thing to do!!' with hand pumps in the air.  At this point my mind reeled and if I wasn't more alert would have driven us off the road. Who is this child sitting in the back seat and where did she learn that??

As Bean popped out with shopping is a girls favorite thing to do, my first thought was I had failed her. Somewhere in the universe a feminist was loosing her wings, I should just put her in a I am too pretty to do homework tee shirt and be done with it. This isn't the case though and obviously I slightly over reacted in my mind before, thankfully my mouth decided to respond. The mall didn't sound like a horrid idea and we could continue our chat as we wandered the mall. As we walked the mall we talked about what Bean thought the mall and shopping would make it the favorite thing for a girl. We started with is it your favorite thing, her response was sometimes when you buy me stuff, with that sweet smile that said buy me stuff.  There was nothing in our conversation that could point me to where this idea came from, besides TV and friends. Eventually I shrugged my shoulders reminded her of all the other great things she likes doing and we started talking about what things she liked at the mall.

There were some benefits to our mall wander that I found interesting.  Bean has a really fun and funky style and hanging at the mall with her for an hour really helped me get a better idea of her likes and dislikes. She doesn't like much and was really particular about the style of this or that and how should would wear it.  The thing that kind of bothered me the most was her over interest in one particular store and that everything in that store was, the best, except one dress. I swear she had looked at other similar clothes in other stores and didn't like the clothes, but it was in THE STORE.  We started talking about how similar the clothes looked and that if she only had x amount of dollars and could buy something similar to what she wanted in this store, but cheaper somewhere else would she do it?  This caused a lot of thought and Bean said she would get back to me. Eventually she agreed that the cheaper store would be better, I had a little sign of relief smart shopping can never be learned too early.

Also with us on this mall walk about was Chicken and he is defiantly already living up to the boys don't want to shop stereotype, unless it was Boise State gear, Star Wars or Angry birds. As we wandered  from store to store he showed interest but you could tell he was not as particular and didn't want to look so much as buy and leave.  The great thing about him on this walk was the endless chatting, thought at times if makes me want to sell him, letting him prattle gives me a real chance to know where he is at in the world.

I don't think I am done talking to Bean about shopping and girls favorite things to do, but I do have a better idea of where she and Chicken are at.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sports Kids and Broken Bones

For those of you tortured with me in real life or Facebook, which I assume most of you, this story will be a rehash of sorts, sorry.  About two weeks ago Chicken broke is arm at football practice horsing around.

Practice was over, the boys were suppose to be out getting the cones and there he goes head over tea kettle over two other kids. The Hubs was there and said Chicken immediately came up to him crying that he had broken his arm.  We knew we were headed to the ER, but I told the Hubs to come by the house and I would take Chicken. The ER was interesting to say the least, there were 5 to 6 other football players with injuries in the ER, one with what seemed to be a really bad concussion.  Seeing all these other young men injured in the ER made me wonder, is this just the beginning of the injury train and will his current love of football lead to real physical hurt down the road? How do I feel about letting him pursue a love that may really hurt him? 

Injuries happen, kids get hurt, boys will be boys, it is part of playing the game; I think I have heard everyone of these sayings come out of parents and coaches mouths at some point.  My thoughts on these comments, but that is my boy!!!  As a athlete I thought the bruises were pretty cool, as a mom I am not so sure. I know that injuries happen and there is always a chance, but I also know there are ways to mitigate it too. My larger concern with all these things are what the influence Chickens coaches will have. Will they look out for possible injuries to make sure worse ones won't happen, will they even know what to look for? Will they encourage him to 'play hurt'?  Will I be able to have a voice when I think something is wrong at practice? I know it is way to early for these questions, by that kid in the ER was way to early for a concussion like that. This will not stop me from letting Chicken play, everyone needs that thing and there is a chance this is his. I may just have to grin and bear it until he decides he doesn't like it or is old enough and self confident enough to tell a coach something is wrong.  That isn't the best answer, but it is the answer I have come too.  I will be involved, try to get to know the other parents and coaches and do the best to make sure he is in as safe a circumstance as possible, but things happen and that is just part of being a kid.

Ok I am done with my ranting momminess now and back to the arm. In the ER I jumped audibly when he got his arm straightened for his x-rays.  Told him horror stories of my broken arm and helped keep him still while they wrapped it. He was home for two days while we waited for the swelling to go down and to get in with the orthopedist. When we finally got into the ortho he asked if we wanted to cast it so he can finish the football season, I politely declined saying I think we were good with him not playing while it heels. He is out for the season and no TaeKwonDo for four weeks.  The worst part of this whole thing so far is that Chicken is getting in trouble in class a little more, he is a little too antsy since he isn't getting his usual exercise.  We go back mid October where they will hopefully take the cast off, and they will give him a brace for 2 to 6 weeks.  The ortho said with the type of break and crack it is a brace is usually recommended.  Hopefully we will all survive the next 4 weeks with a Chicken without activities.

Overall, I learned as a parent I am willing to go let my kid be a kid, even if I am totally worried for them; and that Chicken needs a lot of daily exercise