Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ah...the baby smile.

I finally captured one of these on camera - the elusive baby smile! Doesn't he look like a charmer?


For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!







Friday, June 26, 2009

Kai-versations: Outtakes

After the girls' party this year we decided to do video thank you notes to send to their friends. It seemed like a fun way for them to say thanks in their own words (since they can't really write yet) and for their friends (who can't read yet) to hear from them how much they appreciated everyone coming to their party. We're still getting them all finished because it was quite an undertaking (each Thank You takes several takes to get it somewhat coherent) but we're almost done.

This particular outtake I just loved. The girls loved this present given to them by some good friends of ours, but they were just confused about which thank you video we were doing. Still, I love how sincere she is until she realizes she has no idea which present she's saying thank you for. Needless to say we tried again for take number 2 after I reminded her again what present we were talking about...
video

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Come visit me...

I'm the new Atlanta Children's Crafts Examiner over at Examiner.com which means I'll be posting several cool craft articles a week over there with fun ideas for things to keep little hands busy.

In the meantime, check out my first article on creating clay texture stones with kids. It's a fun, easy & educational craft that my girls loved!

Click here to read the article!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I wish you could smell this picture.

I wanted to share this picture for Wordless Wednesday but hated to do it without sharing the recipe. So, forgive me for not totally following the Wordless Wednesday rules.


(Thanks to my brother-in-law and his iPhone for this great picture!)

For Father's Day I made the dads in our family my favorite Apple Pie recipe. It is a seriously amazing pie. I found the recipe here on Recipezaar.com.

But, here it is for you if you'd like to try it out:

Ingredients
  • 2 9 inch unbaked pie crusts
  • 5 cups sliced apples
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Ingredients

1. Mix all ingredients except for apples in large bowl.

2. Add apples.

3. Pour into pie crust.

4. Add second pie crust to top and vent.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Easy, right? And everyone will think you've spent a lot of time on it. Go ahead and let them think you did!

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The great vaccination debate of 2009

Yesterday was Trav's 3 month doctor's appointment. And the one where I finally came face to face with the dreaded vaccination question.

With Kai, I vaccinated no questions asked. That's what you do, right? You vaccinate your kids. I honestly didn't even know I had a choice.

With Ivy, I vaccinated some. But she had a terrible reaction to one of her vaccinations and by then I had learned that **gasp** some people don't vaccinate their kids. And then I learned why.

And for the last 2 years I have wavered between vaccinating, selectively vaccinating and not vaccinating at all. And by "wavered" I mean I stopped vaccinating because I couldn't decide whether or not to vaccinate and so I went into analysis paralysis. But, thankfully, my girls have been very healthy and even though they were both in preschool we never had any problems whatsoever.

Then when I knew Trav was coming I had to revisit this whole issue. And that meant getting a new doctor because our doctor told us that if we decided not to vaccinate fully along the schedule the CDC published then we should just move along to some other practice. Which, of course, we did. Because, whether we decided to or not I didn't want a doctor who would take away my ability to make decisions about these things.

But, the question still remained, should we vaccinate or not? There are so many reasons to vaccinate. And so many reasons not to. I read Dr. Sears' The Vaccine Book about 3 times. And Googled until I was fully freaked out by the arguments on both sides of the issue.

We declined the Hep B shots in the hospital. And didn't have to face the question again until yesterday's visit. But, I'd done my research and so I had it all figured out, right? Right. Two months ago I had decided not to vaccinate. Then a month ago I decided to do DTaP because of our potential travel to Hawaii this next year. Then the night before our appointment I read way too much on DTaP and decided not to vaccinate at all until he was 6 months old. But, at the doctor's appointment my ped talked to me about the pros and cons. She is really truly an amazing pediatrician who is 100% fine with no vaccinations. But, she was concerned about our travel with Trav, too. Her honest recommendation was that I do the DTaP since Pertussis and Diptheria are potential threats when traveling to the South Pacific. But she respected my ability to make the decision enough not pressure me. And so I made the best decision I knew how. I got the DTaP.

But not before I sat quietly in the exam room and prayed over Trav that he wouldn't have a bad reaction. That the scary side effects would not be an issue for him. And that I was making the best decision possible for him.

Of course, all the way home I worried. And panicked. And, above all else, prayed.

Some of you may think I've made the wrong decision for vaccinating at all. Some of you may think I've made the wrong decision for not vaccinating all the way. And some of you may be right where I am still struggling to decide just what is best for your kids.

Either way, it was one of the most difficult decisions I've had to make as a mom. The problem is, whether you choose to vaccinate or not you never really know whether you've made the right choice until something bad happens. And I don't like those kinds of decisions.

But, I'm a mom. And I suppose that is why we get paid the big bucks, right? Yeah, I thought so.

Where do you weigh in on the vaccination debate?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trav on his own


Because he always has to share picture posts with his sisters I thought I'd share one of just him. On his own.

Our little guy went to the doctor today for his 3 month check up. He's growing like a weed. Though he's still really teensy. He's in the 25% for his height and weight, but that noggin of his is measuring a whopping 50%. But, it is such a cute noggin you don't even notice that it's bigger than the rest of him!

He's a far cry from his older sister who always measured in the 90% (despite being 6 lbs. 6 oz. at birth) so it will be fun to see if he gets growth spurt that will let him stand a chance against his big sisters!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Enough.

I lost my keys. Six weeks ago.

And yesterday was abysmal. If you follow me on Twitter you already knew this. Actually, I've been whining all week. But yesterday? That was the icing on the cake.

First, there is this vacant rental house. And cleaning up the disgusting mess left by our tenants. And the stress of paying for it without getting rent. Then work has slowed down again unexpectedly for Thomas which is really bad when you're an hourly contract employee. Not good timing. Either one of those things I could handle on its own. But together? It is bad. I've been trying to be positive. I've been praying a lot.

Then yesterday morning on my way home from dropping Thomas off at the train station, I said to God, "Could you please help us out? Could something good happen today? Even something small? Please?"

And when I got home and took Traveler out of his car seat I was in a better mood. And I thought things were looking up. Until I discovered that he'd had a baby poop blow-out in the car seat cover I had just taken out of the dryer. But that wasn't the best part. There nestled snug in his car seat of poo was my Blackberry. Trust me when I say, you don't even want to know what that was like.

That's when I told God that if that was His idea of helping that I'd be fine without His help today.

Follow that up with an entire day of everything that can go wrong will and, well, you'll understand why I tweeted "If God is the Heavenly Father, then I'm the bratty whiney teenage daughter today." Boo-hoo. Poor me.

But I yelled at God a lot yesterday. We're cool like that, though, so you don't have to worry. He knows me. He gets me. And, thankfully, He puts up with me in this stuff. So I asked Him why He couldn't give me one stinking good thing that day. Anything. I wouldn't be picky.

And He didn't remind me that my children and husband are safe and healthy. And He didn't point out to me that I had a roof over my head. And He didn't rub my nose in the fact that I have a pantry full of food to put in my children's bellies.

Instead, last night after something I needed became annoyingly lodged in a crevice in the van and I had to get Thomas to remove the whole center console to get it out God showed me where my keys were. The keys that had been lost for 6 weeks. The keys that I thought I'd lost for good.

And for that moment, that one small thing was enough to let me know He was there. And that was enough for the day.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My two cookers...

Cookers are what the girls call everyone from chefs to the people who make their Happy Meals at McDonald's purely organic healthy take-out meals.

So, imagine their excitement when Dewde and Dewdette gave them "cooker clothes" for their birthday! Pretty sweet, huh?

For more Wordless Wednesday, head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Okay, so I can't cook...


I can do lots of things. I can write some kick-ass haiku. I can bargain shop like a mad-woman. I can do math in my head. I can read really fast. I cannot, however, cook well. Not at all.

On more than one occasion Thomas has come home to smoke and the scent of charred food in our kitchen. I burn lots of things. Steaks, hamburger helper, scalloped potatoes (see above pic). I under cook lots of things. Pizza, fish, chicken, biscuits. Have you ever had medium rare chicken? I have. I am a menace in the kitchen. To be honest, I’d rather clean the kitchen than cook in it. (And I hate cleaning so that should tell you something.)

These scalloped potatoes pictured above? I made them explode. Explode, people. Do I even need to say any more?

Oh well. At least I still have haiku.

A version of this post was originally published December 1, 2007. And, no, I haven't gotten better at cooking yet! : )

Now it's your turn. What is your worst cooking story?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Artful Friday: The Recap

Our first Artful Friday was last week and even though it was just the girls and me it was really a fun day.

We started out reading Leonardo the Terrible Monster which is a great book about not-so-scary monsters and then we set out to make our own not-so-scary monster friends.
Styrofoam eggs & balls, paint, glue, glitter, & BBQ skewers were our materials and the girls used them with enthusiasm!

Even though it nearly killed the control freak in me to do it, I let them have complete control over how they made their monsters. I didn't tell them where to put the eyes or how to glue the hair. And you know what? I think they came out even better because I kept my hands off!

See what I mean?
This week we're doing a dad-themed book/craft in honor of Father's Day (shhh...don't tell Thomas) and I'll post pics next Monday!

Got any cool summer arts/crafts ideas for kids? Feel free to post suggestions/links in the comments!




Friday, June 12, 2009

Flashback Friday: Life Lessons from a Yard Sale

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I found out about Flashback Fridays through Tiffany's blog and have been meaning to participate for a while. Basically it's a chance to re-publish blog posts you wrote back before you had people who actually read your blog. Pretty cool, huh? If you want to participate (or just read posts from others who did), head over to Scary Mommy's blog!

Life Lessons from a Yard Sale
(originally posted February 16th, 2008)



Thomas and I survived out first ever yard sale today! It was a fun experience (i think?) and definitely an eye opening one. We ended up having a pretty successful one though we didn't meet my projected goal (which Thomas says was overambitious anyway). But, mostly, the whole thing was pretty hard work. From the dragging out things, to the pricing, to the waking up at the butt crack of dawn it was no picnic. By far the hardest thing about the whole process, though, was saying goodbye to clothes, furniture and other items we loved for fraction of what they were worth. People can be cruel with your belongings. Anyways, that said, I learned some lessons that I am going to carry beyond the yard sale and they are:

1. You can never be mad at someone for getting something out of you that you don't want to give. The truth is, you are still in control so no one is "forcing" you to give them a cheaper price than you want. I think, for me, this translates into a practical lesson because I often find myself getting angry that people (friends, family, or strangers) convince me to give or do more than I want to. I get angry at them when the truth is I can't get mad at someone for something I control.

2. It's not personal. It's hard to believe when people are digging through your belongings, but the fact that they don't like something doesn't mean they don't like you. It doesn't mean they think you are a bad person, they just don't need/want what you have. Still, I'm the type to take EVERYTHING personal so that is a tough one for me. I think it brought to light, though, the fact that most things in life aren't personal for the people who aren't on the receiving end of them. Does that mean that it's not a big deal just because someone doesn't mean it personally? Of course not. But, I do think I'm going to think twice before falling apart of the smallest perceived offense. I'm also vowing to be more vigilant about my own behavior so as not be so callous in my actions toward others.

3. It is okay to let go. As if you couldn't tell from our carport, Thomas and I have a bit of a problem letting go of things. It's why our basement is a mess. And our car is a mess. It's why I have every scrap of scribble and art from my girls. I can't let go. It is the most difficult thing for me to do. But, throughout this (and my various Craigslist selling adventures) I've learned that you won't actually die from selling a chandelier that you took out of your first house and saved ever since. Your children's lives will not be irreparably damaged from you selling their collection of Happy Meal toys. And, old clothes that don't fit are better off being sold for $1 a piece (regardless of what you paid) than left in trash bags in your basement. This was an important lesson for me and I'm glad I've learned it. In fact, this whole cleansing of material goods is kind of addictive and we're already looking forward to another yard sale experience!

Of course, I feel like a big dork for finding "life lessons" in a yard sale, but I needed something to blog about today and I truly did find a little enlightenment in the whole yard sale process so don't make fun of me too much. Or do. 'Cause I won't take it personal...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Artful Fridays: Reading books, making messes, having fun.

Now that Traveler is almost 3 months old, I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. Life is getting a little easier and I figure it's time to get back to my creative/crafting/art interests.

And, what better time to do that than summer, right?

So, in an attempt to keep my kids from being bored this summer I'm starting Artful Fridays at our house. Every Friday the plan is to get the girls outside, read some new children's book, and make a little art inspired by the book.

I've always wanted to be a part of a kids' art group where the focus was on having fun, getting creative and socializing so we've invited friends to drop in on Fridays, too. I think it's a great way to keep the kids entertained so moms can get some much needed grown-up conversation at the end of a busy week. I'm keeping it open-ended for friends so they can come when it works for them and there is no pressure to be there every week. Some weeks we may have lots of friends, some weeks it may be just me and the girls, but every week we'll be getting messy, creative, and fun with art and reading.

Our first book is going to be Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems.

It's a great kid's book about a Monster who is terrible at, well, being a monster. But when he finally gets good at the scary monster job he realizes he'd rather be a friend than a monster anyways.

And Leonardo and his terrible monster friends will be inspiration for our own crazy, silly monsters. I think it's going to be a fun way to engage the kids in the book and I can't wait to see what monsters they come up with. I'll be posting pics of their creations, soon!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

My Pocahontas & Tiger Lily

More pics from the pow-wow. I just couldn't resist.







**The first two pics (a.k.a. the two best pics) were taken by my good friend Jennifer W. Without her I'd have very few pics from the party!**

For more Wordless Wednesday head over to 5 Minutes for Mom!

Total Truth Tuesday...


I'm skipping Total Truth Tuesday this week for the following reasons:

a) I'm grouchy.

b) I'm grouchy.

c) Traveler and I are both sick.

Please forgive me for being such a bloggy slacker lately. I promise to get back on track tomorrow...

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Pow-Wow Party

As you might remember from last year, I love birthday parties. Or, I should say, I love throwing birthday parties. Actually, I love throwing parties in general. It is entirely possible that my obsession with putting on events has to do with the fact that I eloped and was thus deprived of the chance to obsess about the most special day of my life. Or not.

Either way, I try to have a big birthday party every year for my kids. It started with Kai's first birthday and we've continued the tradition every year. We've had a Japanese themed party, a Luau, a Pop Art party, a Faerie Forest party, and this year, a Pow-Wow party.

Since the girls' birthdays are only a month apart we do joint parties. It is easier on us and allows us to have one big huge bash where we go all out. I love the way it works out.

The pow-wow theme was really fun to plan for. We had teepee cupcakes for the kids, a Native American scene on the cake for the grown-ups, a rock painting station, a pony bead jewelry station, and (the best part!) PONIES!

With over 20 kids and 30 grown-ups it was important to make sure we had plenty to do, and I think we had just the right mix of activities to keep all the kiddos busy while waiting for pony rides.

Here are a few pics from the party. The girls' outfits were made from thrift store finds and turned out pretty fun. I'll be posting more about how I like to make costumes on the cheap later in the week so stay tuned for more on that...

Every year we have a picture framed for each girl and have guests sign it. They have one from every birthday and I hope someday they'll enjoy having these as reminders of their birthday celebrations.


I kind of messed up and forgot to order a cake for the grown-ups this year. So, in a last minute run to Kroger I found a birthday cake decorated with removable balloons and dismantled it, added some sprinkles for grass & dirt, and used the Native American figures the girls had to play with as decoration. I think it worked out pretty fun!


The teepee cupcakes. I wish I could take credit for these amazing things! They were AWESOME. They were cookie and cream flavor with an actual Oreo baked into the bottom. The cone was filled with Oreo creme and they were absolutely heavenly!

Last (but not least!) were the ponies. Can you tell the girls were loving them?


**Notice how even though I spent 3 days making 20 Native American vests out of paper bags and headdresses out of feathers & posterboard my children aren't wearing either. That's gratitude for you!**


Friday, June 5, 2009

Kai-versations: Preschool Theology

Kai gets worried a lot that other people (particularly siblings) are going to be able to do things she can't. Or do things better than she can. So we always make a point to tell her that there are things she is going to be good at and things she might need more help with and that is okay. And that it makes her and her siblings a good team because they complement each other.

Yesterday she decided to apply that idea to her preschool theology.

Kai: "Daddy, can God really do anything?"

Thomas: "He sure can. He can do anything you can think of."

Kai: "Well, I think there are things that God can do that I can't and things that I can do that God can't. Do you think that's true?"

Thomas: "Hmmm...can you tell me some things that you think you can do that God can't do?"

Kai: "Well, God can't sleep in my bunk bed 'cause He's way too big and wide for that. So, I can definitely sleep in bunk beds better than He can. Don't you think?"

Not quite sure what to say to that one. I guess if God really wanted to sleep in bunk beds He could probably do it better than anyone. Still, this girl of ours sure does keep us on our toes...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Total Truth Tuesday: I like to pee on sticks. Apparently.

Here's the deal. I am 9 weeks post-partum and more than just a little paranoid. Because I have already taken 2 (TWO!) pregnancy tests (thanks to some less than prudent behavior brought on by a few too many cosmos on vacation). Both tests, however, came out mercifully negative.

So, the only conclusion I can come to is this. I am addicted to peeing on sticks.

I'll be honest. I'm not one of those girls who was ever cut out for casual sex. In my life I have known three modes: Virgin, Paranoid About Being Pregnant, & Actually Being Pregnant. I should invest in stock in EPT because, seriously, I have spent almost as much on buying their tests as I did on Traveler's C-section. True story.

To be fair, part of this nervousness comes from the fact that I did have a positive test about 8 weeks after Kai was born. Do the math on that one, folks. What can I say? We had a hot tub. And a fridge full of Smirnoff Ice. Whatever.

But, when I sadly miscarried soon after discovering I was pregnant I found myself constantly wondering if I had unexpectedly gotten pregnant again. And it started a habit. A pregnancy test habit. And, if you're familiar with those things, you know that can be almost as expensive as narcotics.

I know from speaking to friends that I'm not alone in this habit. Birth control or not, I know many women who routinely find themselves testing "just in case." And thanks to a good friend (who shall remain nameless but knows who she is) I learned that the $1 tests from the Dollar Tree are as effective as the $9 tests from CVS. Good to know, right?

So, call me obsessive. Or crazy. Or paranoid. But, the peace of mind I get from occasionally taking those tests is well worth the $1 I spend on them. And the look on the cashier's face when I drag a 5-year-old, 3-year-old, and 9-week-old in with me to buy a pregnancy test? That, my friends, is priceless.

Do tell. Are you a member of the "I take pregnancy tests for peace of mind" club? 'Cause I'm thinking of getting jackets for us...

Monday, June 1, 2009

On learning not to take "No" for an answer...

I might have mentioned this before once or twenty times, but I have some spirited children. And that presents some unique parenting challenges.

One of my greatest challenges, though, is pretty standard stuff. Getting them to listen to what I say. Or to what their father says. Or their grandmother. Or...you get the idea.

A couple weeks ago while we were on vacation I was presented yet again with a listening problem. Kai had been playing in my mom's room and kept getting into her make-up, clothes, shoes, etc. Finally, a bit frustrated with her, my mom called me in to intervene.

I hate to see Kai behave this way. I hate when she repeatedly ignores me or her father when she is in a situation where listening is important. So I took her aside and attempted to talk to her about her decisions.

I sat her down, looked into her big brown eyes and tried to explain the situation.

"Kai," I started, "when someone tells you 'NO' that means you can't do it anymore and you have to stop."

But, that didn't seem right to say. So I tried again.

"What I mean is, when someone gives you a rule to follow then you need to always follow it."

But, that just didn't work for me either. Because it occurred to me that words hold such power that I just couldn't speak those into her heart. It felt like I might as well be saying, "You need to always give up when someone puts an obstacle in your path and always follow the rules without question." I didn't want that to be something she started to learn.

And while you might think I'm sounding a bit like a crazy hippie, I do believe there is power in the words you speak into a child's heart. And if I tell her to always listen to the word "NO" or never question a rule, I wonder what she'll miss out on accomplishing in life. Because one thing I love most about her is her determination and perseverance.

But, I also believe kids do need rules and that kids (particularly mine) need to listen to what those who know best for them tell them to do. As my husband is always anxious to remind me, you need to know and understand the rules before you can know when/how to break them. I'm hoping in my kids' cases, they know my rules for a good 18 years or so before they learn to start breaking them.

So, my dilemma was how to explain to her that she needs to listen to me, her father, her elders without planting a seed that "NO" is the end of the road and an obstacle there is no getting around.

Because even though I want to raise well-mannered kids who listen to everything I tell them, I believe it is most important to raise free-thinkers who respect authority while maintaining the ability to think outside the box and challenge accepted norms when appropriate.

How do I do that? What do I say to explain this to my children?

And so, after much agonizing, I came up with a way to explain our position to Kai.

I told her, "Listen to the people who love you."

This was the best way I could find to express to her that it is important to listen to rules that are given to her by people who care for her without impressing upon her that the words "No" or "You can't" are absolute and that she should give up whenever anyone tells her those things.

These words, "Listen to the people who love you," also have even greater implications. It isn't just a matter of listening when it comes to do's and don'ts. I hope it also impresses upon her that she ought to listen to those who have her greatest interests at heart. That she should seek wise counsel for decisions. That she can trust those of us in her life who love her.

Rules are important. And we have our fair share around this house. But, my goal is to communicate to our kids that "No" and "Don't" and "Can't" should have less influence over their decisions than the advice (or strong suggestions) of those who love and care for them.

After all, where would we be today if our founding fathers hadn't had the courage to break a few rules now and then?