Monday, December 23, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
"Mom, what's for dinner?"
"Pasta with sauce...yummy yummy!" I left out the fact that I pureed a whole bunch of carrots into the pasta sauce...he'll never know. And what he doesn't know won't hurt him. In fact, it will make him stronger, healthier, happier.
I've been doing a lot of thinking about the lies we tell our kids now that Christmas is upon us. The lying seems to have been amped up a bit. Every time the UPS guy brings a package to the door and Aidan asks "What is it? Can we open it?" I say "Oh, no...I think it must be something for Daddy's school." Then bring said box to the basement where the kids don't go and won't ever know for sure what was in that box. The items will magically appear under the Christmas tree on December 25th and my children's eyes will be filled with wonder and awe. So, the lie is a means to an end. A magical end filled with smiles and giggles where happiness abounds. I like that end.
Every night, Waka Buckle, the Elf on the Shelf, finds himself a new place to sit and every morning Aidan bursts out of his bedroom "Is my elf here?!? Where is he?!?" Once he finds him, and has a giggle about where Waka Buckle is camped out, he asks me how he got there. "I don't know, buddy!" I do know...I put him there. Lies. Do I feel bad? A little bit. But, its all in the name of Christmas magic.
Santa is real in this house. I have a number of friends who have told their small children that Santa is a myth because they don't want to lie to their kids. That is their choice, and I respect them as parents and love their kids. But, that's just not how I roll. Some of my best memories from childhood revolve around Christmas, Santa, the flying reindeer, and all the rest of the magic that surrounds the holiday. I remember driving home from my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve and we kids would have our eyes peeled looking to the sky the whole drive home. "OH MY GOSH!!! I saw a red light in the sky! It MUST be Rudolph...HURRY DAD!!! Drive faster!!! We need to get to bed so Santa doesn't skip our house!"
The anticipation of Christmas morning would then likely keep us up well past our bedtime, our little minds unable to stop thinking about what was to come. That excitement was awesome.
Childhood should be about magic. It should be about believing in things that defy logic because you haven't been hardened by the real world yet - there's no coming back once you have.
“There are two ways to believe in Santa Claus,” according to Rick Epstein, author of the book Rookie Dad Adventures in Fatherhood. “One way is to believe in him, the other is to help little children believe in him.”
I'm going to work my tail off to help my children believe for as long as possible.
*P.S. If you tell your kids there is no such thing as Santa, and they then tell MY kids there is no such thing as Santa, we might not be friends anymore. Just sayin'.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
You see, I'm not all about natural disasters. Regular hurricanes, tornadoes, wild fires...pass, thanks. A blizzard doesn't scare me. Snow melts, power is restored, and the kids get a few days off from school. I'm OK with all of that.
Right now, we're having our first "real" snowfall of the season. Its so beautiful! I'm sitting in my house, surrounded by Christmas decorations, sparkling white lights on my Christmas tree and my banister, cozy and warm in fleece leggings and a hooded sweatshirt, watching the snow fall while my two adorable (read LOUD) children are sleeping. My house is quiet, and I am enjoying this blissful moment.
I know not everyone has an appreciation for winter, or snow...but I do. I consider myself lucky to have been born here, and to have grown up appreciating the four seasons and all they have to offer. And having children of my own now makes me even more grateful. My kids wake up to snow and its THE BEST DAY EVER!!! And I remember thinking the same thing when I was a kid :-)
I have lots of friends that live in warmer climates - Arizona, California, Texas, Florida - and this time of year, some of them like to post pictures of their beach days, or a picture of their 10 day forecast, to make those of us in the cold jealous. The thing is, it doesn't work for me. I just finished beach season, I'm over it. I really don't like to sweat. And sweats are so much more comfortable than bathing suits. The beginning of each season is so wonderful, full of hope and expectations. By the end of each season, I'm ready for the next one. Fall is my favorite season, ever. I love everything about it. But, this past week or so, when Mother Nature has been bipolar and we've had frigid weather alternating with mild no-coat-necessary weather, I've been READY for the cold to come and stay for a while. Its part of the cycle, and I wouldn't change that for anything.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
I've always been adamantly opposed to the whole concept of a "family bed" in my house. Many of my friends co-sleep, it works for them and that's all that matters. I just wanted no part of it. I like my space, and I like the seperation for 8-12 hours of peaceful slumber :-)
My kids now refuse to sleep in my bed. Even when he is sick and vomiting every 15 minutes, Aidan insists on sleeping in his own bed. Its just what he's used to...its his bed. I would love to eliminate some sheet changes in those rare incidents, but otherwise, I am really glad my kids have developed such strong sleeping habits. And that my bed is my own.
I've been sick lately. A lot. Hubs still has to go to the office, and I somehow have to manage being Super Mom. Well, given the "norm" as of late, the definition of Super Mom has expanded to include hours of PBS cartoons from the comfort of Mommy's bed while I hide under the covers and plead with God to give me the strength to get up and carry on despite how ill I've felt. The kids lay around my cocoon of blankets and laugh and squeal as they watch George get into trouble, take a stroll down Sesame Street, learn new words from a talking dog, and ask lots of questions just like Sid. Its a beautiful thing that they give me this time to try and "feel better" before getting them breakfast. And when I'm able to enjoy the snuggles and giggles, our morning cartoons under my covers will be my favorite part of the day.
So, it seems in the end, we have a family bed afterall ;-)
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Aidan looks up at me and says "Then I won't need you anymore...?"
"Well, I hope you'll always need me."
"When I am grown up, where will you be?"
"I'll be right here, for as long as I possibly can be!"
"Then God will take you away?" (as his voice gets quiet and his eyes get sad...)
<<gulp>> "Not for a long, long time baby...I'm hoping to be here for a long, long time."
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only three. A few posted URL’s to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.
It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn’t. We are such a competitive culture that even our pre-schoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn’t be a race.
He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations.
But more important, here’s what parents need to know.
That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.
That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The baby bottles have been in the basement almost a year now.
Liam doesn't eat meals in his highchair. In fact, the only reason it still sits in our kitchen is to use for his time-outs!
I don't carry a diaper bag when we go out. I toss a couple diapers and a bag of wipes in my bag, its big enough. I don't need a changing pad, changes of clothes (usually), bibs, burpies, bottles, toys, etc.
I don't carry a spare binky around with me anymore. Liam only uses it in his crib.
My children can go play in the backyard, hardly supervised, while I'm making dinner.
The infant car seat, bases, and snap and go have been in the basement collecting dust for some time now.
The baby bath tub has been in the basement since Liam was old enough to sit in the tub with Aidan and drowning was no longer a constant fear.
The stroller is an optional accessory most outings.
I don't puree foods anymore. The kids eat grapes WHOLE. Cereal is served with milk, at least for Aidan.
Apple picking the other day, Liam could eat an apple whole - skin on and all.
Babies are a lot of work. Everything you do is that much harder, and takes that much longer. Its undeniable.
But another thing that's undeniable? They grow up REALLY FAST! I don't have babies anymore...I have toddlers. And while life certainly isn't easy with two little boys to chase, its remarkable how much less complicated everything is once they've grown beyond that baby phase.
Toddlers bring their own sort of trouble ;-)
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Since having children, our "we need to find a church" conversation has become increasingly more common. I've looked online, I've talked to friends, I've gotten recommendations from friends and ministers, we've visited a Baptist church but just didn't think that was the place for us.
We're still looking, but in the meantime, we're raising our kids to know God, to love him, and to trust him despite of a lack of "church" in our lives. We talk about and pray to God everyday. Before naps and bedtime, we all gather around Aidan's bed and say prayers together. Generally, its either me or AJ leading the prayer. We'll ask Aidan to say the prayer sometimes, and he pretty much always fights us on it - he acts embarrassed, like he doesn't know what he's doing. Its not something we push too much on, he's a pretty stubborn child. But regardless of who does it, prayers are always said, and when its done, there is a chorus of Amens, including my little Liam.
Today, I overheard my son praying to God on two separate occasions, asking for help with things that were trying him at the time - but not before thanking Him for the day and for everything He's given him. I can't fully express how this makes me feel. I think of my church upbringing as a blessing in that it taught me about God, it taught me the Bible, taught me to know the scriptures, to have convictions, morals, a depth of love for God and his creation. Today, I've been reassured that my children are well on their way.
he will not depart from it.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I have just two words for you: Pumpkin Muffin. Dunkin Donuts makes my favorite season of the year the tastiest too ;-)
Seriously though...I LIVE for Fall in New England. Nothing in all the world compares to it. People can post pictures of tropical beaches and umbrella drinks all over Facebook, Instagram, Twitter to their heart's content, but nothing beats a pumpkin patch, apple orchard, or a giant pile of crunchy fallen leaves ready to be jumped in!
I've always loved Fall - forever my favorite. I love dressing for Fall - jeans, boots, sweatshirts, scarfs...its just such a comfortable season. I love decorating my house, inside and out, with pumpkins, hay bales, corn stalks, warm rustic colors all around. Lighting candles and the fire place, baking all kinds of treats, but especially homemade apple pie. Crockpot cooking, soup, hot chocolate, pumpkin spice coffee (another Dunkies treat), fresh warm cider donuts from the apple orchard's farm stand - and one cold treat I can only have in the Fall, Dairy Twist's Fall special Pumpkin Oreo ice cream - its a season full of gastronomic delight!
Having kids makes my favorite season even BETTER (hard to believe that's possible, right?!?). Playing in apple orchards, picking our own pumpkins, carving and decorating them, baking and eating our pumpkin seeds, baking apple pies with their "help", preparing for Halloween and stepping inside their imaginations to make their costume exactly what they hoped, celebrating Thanksgiving and all that we are grateful for - my two children being right at the top of that list.
Seeing things through their eyes just makes everything that much more beautiful.
Monday, August 26, 2013
The term "school" has been thrown around a lot lately. Aidan hears his Daddy talk about school, and having to do homework every night. He hears adults ask me "When is Aidan starting school?" He has heard his friends and their parents talking about school starting up, back-to-school shopping, planning for the big day, etc. The other day he asked his Daddy "When can I go to school?"
Aidan is not going to preschool this year. He is three years old. He won't be 4 until the end of December. He can't start Kindergarten until September 2015 due to the age cut-off being Sept. 1st. He will start preschool next year.
I am a SAHM and we are living within very limited means. Sending Aidan to preschool for 2 years is just not in our budget. But regardless of budget, I just don't see why I should send him to preschool for 2 years. Other moms totally have their reasons (be it work schedules or simply for their own sanity), and I respect their choices. But, delaying 14 years of school, not taking college years into account, for one more year is my gift to my little 3yr old. Its one more carefree year of being under momma's wing, sheltered from growing up any faster than he needs to, and having fun with his brother at a time when their relationship has yet to reach a point of hostility, jealousy, or a constant need for a referee. I love being able to stay home and raise my children. I love watching his imagination in action as he runs around the house and yard pretending to be a fireman, rescuing all kinds of people and animals from danger. I love when he asks me to read him a story, and one story becomes twelve. I love that he still naps in the afternoon and I get a little (and yes, much needed) break just about every day, but I still get to be with him otherwise. I love that he gets to go to a 2 1/2 hr drop-off gym class once a week, where he gets to play and have fun, and experience a little separation from me and Liam too, because I do understand the importance of that independence.
He's so eager to learn new things. Its seemed for the longest time that he's had no patience for learning letters/numbers, but lately has really begun to express interest. He has a preschool workbook one of his aunties bought him a couple years ago that has been tucked away in a closet until yesterday. With all of his inquiries about school, I thought it was time to try some of the lessons in the book (we've tried learning letters and numbers in various other ways with limited success). We sat at the table together and page by page started working our way through the lessons, practicing tracing different kinds of lines, then moving onto shapes, then colors. I told him this was his homework - and he's been "doing homework" since.
"Aidan, come upstairs so we can get ready to go out."
"Mom, I'm doing my homework!"
Despite all that, I still feel a little twinge of guilt that he's not going to school this year. Like I'm harming his odds of being successful once he does start school - like I'm starting him off with a disadvantage because all the other kids have been in preschool for YEARS! I start thinking these things and immediately just have to tell myself to shut the hell up. He is a brilliant little boy. Preschool for even just one year is still optional - not mandatory. His one year of preschool will be AMAZING! He is going to love it. He's going to have so much fun learning and meeting new friends. He's going to come home from school eager to share with me all that he did, right down to what he ate for a snack ( he's a growing boy, afterall), and I will have a big, giant smile on my face watching my little sponge grow and learn under someone else's wing. My pride will soar as I see him mature further into his own little person, and my heart will simultaneously ache as I see less and less of my "baby", and burst with excitement for the boy he's becoming and adventures he'll have!
Its going to be wonderful - next year.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Its happened...my husband's annoying habit of quizzing me "Who sings this song?" when we're listening to the radio has unfortunately been directed toward its next victim - our 3 year old.
Aidan, brace yourself. This is only the beginning. My advice to you, in addition to deep sighs and heavy eye rolling, is to respond with: "Some 80s hair band." I promise you will be right 98% of the time.
Monday, July 29, 2013
1). When you purchase a hard and soft taco dinner kit, make sure it says "KIT" on it, otherwise, you're just getting a bunch of shells. Having a bunch of shells and a bunch of ground beef does not a delicious taco make!
2). When you realize you goofed and don't have seasoning for your tacos and you pack your kids up to go to the store just to buy taco seasoning, don't cheap out and buy the generic store brand. I'm generally all for store brands and often can't tell the difference from the "good" stuff...not true of taco seasoning. I spent a good 10 minutes adding cumin, paprika, salt, onion salt, and garlic powder to make it edible.
3). I have spent years making tacos for me and the hubs. Always the same. One taco kit, one pound of ground beef. We eat as much as we want and still have leftovers for another day. Now that Aidan is eating tacos, I need to buy 2lbs of ground beef for taco night from this day forward. This is just the beginning of the changes to my grocery planning raising 2 boys (and their dad!).
Quite an educational dinner tonight!
Sunday, July 28, 2013
every. aisle. we. went. down.
This is a way of life now. I don't try to stifle their passion. There are worse things they could love at this very impressionable age. I'm embracing this love of all things fire rescue!
God forbid I didn't notice...its nearly unforgivable at this point.
I can say with a fair amount of certainty that the highlight of my kids' summer has been getting to climb around a real life fire truck, push buttons, try on helmets, fasten seat belts, ring bells, turn on sirens, and ask lots and lots of questions to a real live fireman at our town's Family Fun Day!
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Aidan's been on rides before - he went to Disney at 16 months, Canobie Lake last summer, Marshfield Fair last summer...he loves going on rides. But there was something especially exciting watching him at Carowinds yesterday. He's older, so there's more understanding of what's going on. He has more opinions of what he wants to ride and doesn't want to ride, and his enthusiasm is just really adorable! Carowinds' kiddie section is called Planet Snoopy. Being his father's son, Aidan's been watching Peanuts shows for sometime now, and he loves Snoopy and Charlie Brown! So, this made Planet Snoopy even more thrilling for my little guy. Every corner we turned, "Mom, there's another Snoopy!" It is indescribably fun seeing your children experience things that excite them so. He rode the carousel (with Daddy and Liam), the boats, a train ride, and a helicopter ride with Mommy (twice). I think the helicopter was his favorite - it was just precious watching him play the role of pilot. He told me at the start of his first helicopter ride "I'm having a great ride today Momma!" Love.
Mommy had a great time too! Despite the incredible heat and humidity, and significant amount of time spent in Planet Snoopy, I got to ride a couple coasters - my favorite! I rode The Intimidator - a race car inspired roller coaster. It is, hands down, the most incredible roller coaster I've ever been on! The seats are shaped like race car seats - deep bucket seats. The only restraint is a v-shaped padding attached to a metal lever in the ground that lowers over your legs/pelvis. Your head, arms and entire torso are completely unrestrained in anyway. I've never experienced anything like it! I rode this coaster just anticipating the padded lever over my pelvis to fail and my body to go catapulting through the air...my body felt weightless as it spent the greater portion of this coaster lifted off the seat. I screamed and laughed my way through the whole thing simultaneously...I loved it!
Saturday, June 22, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Our neighborhood is pretty small - 36 houses total. All our houses are close together, and there are a handful of "common areas" scattered throughout the neighborhood. This past Saturday, on one of those grassy patches of common area, we had a neighborhood Block Party, complete with grills, kiddie pools, water tables, and a big bouncy house for the kids. (It should be noted that of the 36 houses here, most of them have multiple children living in them...you should see this place at Halloween! )
In addition to all those things set up for family fun, we also had a bike parade for the kids! Oh my goodness, they were SO excited!! They all decorated their bikes/tricycles/push cars with streamers, balloons, flags, flowers...whatever they could get attached (I saw a Cookie Monster doll tied to one little boy's ride). They paraded up and down the street around orange street cones -made it very official that way, hehe. At the end they were all awarded with...what else? CANDY!! It was a great time for all the families there and I feel so lucky to live in a neighborhood bursting with little ones :-)
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I'll admit, I have a slight obsession for all things peanut butter. Most mornings, in the rush of getting the kids fed, cleaned, and out the door on our way wherever, I don't have time or the desire to make myself a proper breakfast, so I have a cup of coffee and a spoonful of peanut butter. A spoonful of pb keeps me satisfied far longer than a bagel or a bowl of cereal does...its perfect!
So, you get the point. I love peanut butter. The other day while Liam napped, Aidan and I made a Father's Day cake for AJ. I had a gold butter cake mix and one jar of store bought chocolate frosting. I wanted to make it a little more interesting though. I put a half cup of peanut butter and a half cup of confectioners sugar in a bowl and blended it together using my hand mixer. Then I blended in the jar of chocolate frosting. It didn't seem right yet, so I added a heaping spoonful of Fluff! Now, it was good.
I had baked two round cakes and, once cooled, put my chocolatey peanut butter concoction in between the 2 layers. The hubs stopped at the store on the way home to pick up more chocolate frosting so I could cover the top and sides of this masterpiece. Once frosted, I had to add chopped Reese's cups to the top.
This cake was a big hit in my family! I served it after Fayher's Day brunch and my brothers and even my diabetic father loved it!* They all said it tasted just like a Funnybone...which apparently they all love and I didn't realize just how much!
*I don't know whether I should be so proud of my finished product that it made a hardcore diabetic crossover to the dark-sugary side, or if I should be ashamed for allowing my dad to fall off the no/low sugar wagon. I asked him several times if he was sure he really wanted a piece...he even admitted that he'd be hurting later, but he just had to try it!
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I love this recipe because not only is it so tasty, but the ingredients are things I generally have in my fridge and pantry regularly anyhow, so I don't often have to plan for this meal.
1lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 jar salsa (you can choose your desired level of heat)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 container sour cream
Put the salsa, taco seasoning, cream of chicken soup and sour cream all in the crockpot and stir it all together. Add the chicken and make sure they are completely covered by the mixture. Cover and cook for 5 hours on low. Remove the chicken and shred it using 2 forks. Place shredded chicken back in pot and mix with the sauce. I generally let it cook another 30 minutes or so just to absorb as much sauce as possible, but your chicken is fully cooked so you can eat it now if you want too!
I have served this as an appetizer with tostitos, as shown in the photo (from Pinterest), or over white rice, or in flour tortillas as burritos. This dish is SO versatile!
Pesto Ranch Chicken
It sounds like such a strange combination, but it WORKS!
1 dry packet of Ranch salad dressing mix
1 jar of basil pesto (I prefer the Classico brand over any others I've tried)
1 cup of chicken stock
8 skinless chicken thighs (I have also used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and shredded it at the end - my 3 year old loves it that way the best)
Add chicken to crockpot. Cover chicken with the jar of pesto. Sprinkle the packet of Ranch dressing mix over the pesto covered chicken. Pour the chicken stock over chicken, cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours (depending how much chicken you use).
I serve this over pasta and LOVE it! I'll have to remember to take a picture next time I make it.
I had SO much fun with this theme!
Dollar Tree...I love a good bargain!
The favors were mini orange metal pails filled with Easter grass, sea life gummies, bubbles, a fishy finger puppet, and a lollipop - also all from Oriental Trading.
I was SO pleased with how these came out!
Veronica's Sweetcakes (in Marshfield) - not a bargain, but totally worth it ;-)
It was a VERY happy birthday for my little Liam bug!
Sunday, June 2, 2013
...in all its full fat glory (with additions like, oh, I don't know...peanut butter cups!) and it was PERFECTION!
Here is my ingredient list:
5 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of Confectioner's Sugar (I'll admit, my 1/2 cup was heaping)
1/2 cup of peanut butter (again, this 1/2 cup was a little over...and for the record, I used Skippy Creamy)
8 oz tub of whipped topping (from the freezer section at the grocery store, thawed - and I did actually use the "light" kind)
1 chocolate ready-to-eat pie crust
1 king size package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (4 cups), chopped
1/2 Hershey's milk chocolate bar, grated
Beat cream cheese and confectioner's sugar in a medium bowl until blended.
Mix in peanut butter and beat until smooth blended.
Fold in whipped topping.
Spoon filling into pie crust.
Sprinkle shaved Hershey's chocolate over top of pie, and sprinkle the chopped bits of peanut butter cups on top of that.
Cover and chill pie for at 2-3 hours before serving.