Archive for March, 2011

Raising a Preschooler-Today’s Adventure

March 28, 2011

Today at school I heard one of the teachers tell Lex to go blow his nose and wash his hands. He told her that he already blew his nose and all that came out were boogers. I told him to go into the classroom and I’d help him. Here’s our conversation once we were there;

Lex-I already blew it, but there’s something hard in there and only boogers are coming out.

Me-I’ll help you. Just blow really hard.

Lex-There’s a little green thing in there.

Me-(suddenly many thoughts went through my head, but what I said was…)Did you put a little green thing up your nose?

Lex-Yes

Me-Where?

Lex-In my classroom

Me-Ok. Blow really hard!

Out comes a small, oblong piece of plastic.

Lex-Oh good! That hurt!

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Because I Could

March 25, 2011

It’s the little things that make a mom’s day!

On any given day, I make up to 3 trips to the high school (30 miles round trip). Yes, I have carpools, but the morning drive is always mine (unless their dad is in town, but either way, a trip is being made from this house). There is the 2pm, after-school pick-up, then I have 2 different sports pick-up times; 4:30 & 6. I have carpools for each, but sometimes it just works out that I do the morning, the 2pm & 1 sports pick-up. Fridays get even more exhausting because I also have the task of getting Mariah to and from work. She gets off somewhere between 10:40 and 11pm. Yes, I’m exhausted by the time I fall into bed on Friday nights. But today, GLORIOUS TODAY…I made ONLY the morning trip! It was the other moms’ turns for 2 of the 3 afternoon pick ups and the 3rd was offered by my daughter’s friend. I got Mariah to work, but the phone call came in that she’s riding home with a coworker who’s coming for a sleepover. Can this be for real?! I can put my kids to bed, put in a movie, climb into bed and call it a night?! It’s almost too much to believe.

On top of all that Good Stuff, I found out that today is International Waffle Day, so I asked the kids if they wanted to honor the day by having waffles for dinner. The overwhelming answer was “YES!”. So I offered waffles with their choice of toppings; butter, syrup, jam, blueberries, peanut butter and whipped cream. Oh the combinations they enjoyed! But me…well this M.O.M. decided that I would leave the celebrating of the day to the kiddos and I chose to have a more grown-up dinner; Shrimp sauteed in garlic, butter and white wine, mashed potatoes and the leftover broccoli and cauliflower in the fridge. I ate my fill of the shrimp and then shared the rest with the waffle-lovin’ kiddos. All because I could!

It really IS the little things!

Now to get these lil ones to bed, put in The Bucket List and enjoy a VERY rare evening. I’m planning on tucking this evening into my Heart Envelope to draw from on the days that all that driving is just too much to take.

Doing the Dance of the Children and Reveling in the Break~

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Letting Go of “Normal”

March 24, 2011

Normal-it’s what we all strive for. It’s what we’re “supposed” to be. It’s all the people around us-or so we perceive. Normal is what my kids said today’s lunches were, because I included cheese puffs (never mind that they were wheat free, gluten free, contain no corn syrup or msg) and trail mix.

Normal-we all think it’s pretty important.

Well, it’s what I’m needing to let go of. I chuckle at myself for even saying that because, really, when have I EVER been “normal”? I’m the oldest of 9 children, I was a single, teen mom and have gone on to have a grand total of 9 children of my own. None of that fits society’s views of “normal”.

But surely my kids are normal. They’re all good-looking, read just fine, present themselves in a “normal” fashion when out-and-about, play sports and go to private schools where, if anything, everyone is normal or above normal. Geesh! Normal is certainly what my kids are.

Yeah right! As I’m being forced into clearer vision and thinking, I realize that my kids have always been slightly outside the societal norm. My oldest has chosen to pursue all of her higher education in faith-based schools-certainly not the norm for most. My oldest son struggled mightily with what “normal” was supposed to be. He always had strong ideas on what was right and what was wrong and that you should always be choosing to do what was right. I look back, with a heavy heart when I think of a note he wrote in 6th grade, telling his father and I that he was grateful for the Catholic education he was receiving, but that he was really having a very hard time with not having any friends. We encouraged him and pushed him through. He struggled with grades because of poor handwriting and downward-spiraling self esteem. He became angry and aggressive. And then God stepped in and introduced us to the right environment and peer group for him and within a few months he became happy, full of life and by all means, “normal” once again. Hmmm, environment changed everything. Changing our perception of where he “should” be or what sports he “should” be playing and trusting that we couldn’t provide all the answers, changed his whole life.

I could go on down the line, describing each of my children and the ways in which I perceive them as “normal” and the ways in which they are so much more than that. But really, I now need to focus on my 7th child. My 8yr old son.

I look back to bringing him home after his birth and how sensitive he was to all his environmental stimuli. He was coming to a home with 6 older siblings. 6 boisterous, outspoken and noisy siblings and this didn’t work well for him. Every time someone yelled or ran through the house with happy screeches, he would shake and cry. He couldn’t sit in the baby swing. The movement seemed to terrify him. TERRIFY! He only slept if he was directly on me or swaddled in my blanket or clothing (I learned to cover him in things that smelled of me). I asked questions of people I knew who worked in special education or had children with challenges of their own. But little by little we all seemed to develop coping mechanisms. I noticed that he started to become noisy if everything around him was noisy. I learned to tell him to look me in the eye when I was giving him directions and to have him repeat what I’d said. I learned to assign a number to each task and ask him to go through the numbers. I learned that riding a bike was frightening for him but that he could ride a scooter like nobody’s business. I learned that his fine-motor skills were low for his age and we stopped trying to buy shoes with laces. So, we learned to try to make it through each day with a minimum of challenge. But not everyone is his mom and not everyone is so accommodating or patient (I use “patient” loosely when describing myself) and he started to have real challenges in the classroom last year. He couldn’t grasp the concept of getting things done in a certain timeframe. His thoughts on any given subject were too big for the classroom discussions and he just can’t NOT say what’s going through his head. So he became frustrated at not completing things on time and with the fact that he has poor handwriting and he just decided to give up on doing the work all together. He started hiding his work or destroying it. This meant that his grades plummeted and he was put on academic probation. ~sigh~ It was just a downward spiral. Then he started 2nd grade. New teacher, new year. And she worked REALLY REALLY hard with him. We kept our communication open and discussed various ways to help him function within the classroom setting and finally we discussed getting him into counseling so that he could have better tools to draw from to perform successfully. His grades have been up. He’s not hiding work. Both the teacher and I, realized that he is more than capable with any of the work placed before him.  All in all, it’s a better year. But through the open communication between teacher, parent and counselor, it was suggested (strongly) that he be tested for Asperger’s. While I wasn’t totally surprised, I was challenged. I cried for 3 days. Not for myself, but for my child who possibly needed something more, something different and had been pushed through with the hope that he would finally “get it”. I spoke with a couple people and then had the testing scheduled.

We don’t have a full report back yet, but I’ve been given a partial report and he seems to fall, quite solidly, in the spectrum for Asperger’s. Yesterday I was told that according to the tests, he has an IQ of 156 (I placed a link here because until yesterday, I didn’t know what any IQ scores meant and am betting that most people are in the same boat I was) and that it’s suggested that he be placed in a more challenging school environment. This is where I have to fall back on what I learned with my older son (who was never tested for an “disorders” and has no diagnosis of any) about trusting that environment makes all the difference and where I have to let go of “normal”. I want what’s best for each of my kids. But I’m also having a tough time letting go. I will continue to read, research, talk and learn and I will continue to be human and fight my own ideas of “normal”. And, you can bet I’ll be talking about the whole thing as it unfolds.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Emptying the Head-It’s All I’ve Got

March 22, 2011

Days like the last few are completely overwhelming. All I can do it put myself on autopilot and go with the alarm and what’s written in my planner. There’s simply no time for anything else. Yet my thoughts are in there, begging to come out and be expressed. Short of staying up for hours after I put the kids to bed (remember, I get up hours BEFORE they get out of bed) and giving up any hope of sleep, I just can’t find the time to get all these thoughts organized and written. But to keep me sane (or at least keep up the illusion), I’m going to empty all these things from my over-worked head, onto this blog and then come back to revisit and elaborate when (ha!) there is time.

Japan-Praying! I realize that I have no true, life experience to make what these people have gone through and are going through, real for my head. I find the pictures helpful to try to make it real for me. I continue to talk to my kids about the tragedy and to remind them to pray for all effected and to offer thanksgiving for all we have.

Asperger’s-I keep playing moments, mannerisms and coping mechanisms through my head to get a bigger picture on how I’ve learned to live with, love and nurture my child without knowing why they were seemingly so challenged in some areas, yet so vastly brilliant in others. Now that I have a name and a diagnosis, does this change anything? Read! I must read and research.

$-always on the brain.

Must get cell phone fixed! I’m tired of trying to read all my texts upside-down and backwards. I kid you not. It’s hurting my head!

My 3rd recipe video is out there, waiting to be posted. Now, if I could just get it!

My father is in the ER today. One of my sisters was with him and my mom. I have some detail, but don’t know what will happen. Prayers.

My 14 yr old scolded me for “putting up with” my 4 yr old kicking the back of my seat and throwing a fit, while I was driving. “Putting up with?!” My best response was to ask if she’d like me to throw the van into park, unbuckle, go to his car seat, unbuckle him, spank him and then go back to driving. Seriously, what’s a M.O.M. to do? I’ve developed a blindness and numbness over the last 22 yrs that allows me to continue in normal, everyday activities while craziness is happening all around me. I can’t help it, it’s just what I do.

The other day my 17 yr old Senior said these, all-too-knowing words-”There’s so much to pay for right now. Prom, graduation and college. Who thought to put all of that together at the same time?! I need $800 for my college fees and it’s about $800 more than I have”. ~sigh~ Said like a hard-working girl from a big family!

Dinner-Oh yeah!!!!! I’ve GOT TO GO MAKE DINNER! Geesh, then it’s off to pick up one of the girls from softball, pick up another’s paycheck and finally call it a night.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Mommy of Many Goes Shopping-Finally!

March 21, 2011

Grocery shopping-It’s not my favorite chore. I’ve blogged about the huge task it is and how I hate the number of times I have to touch my groceries before they’re actually on my shelves and ready to be used. BUT…after the last 19 days of making due with what was in the house, I was EXCITED to go! I’d been making an ever-growing list as I used things up and I was ready to go. Today I hit Trader Joes and Costco. I still need to decide if a trip to the commissary is in order or if I should just pick up the remaining items at Vons. But that will have to wait for another day or two. Long list-VERY LONG list!

And what did I learn from not grocery shopping for all that time? What items should a house always have? What can we live without?

Well, it’s true that the basics are needed! If I hadn’t have had bread or tortillas things would’ve been a lot more difficult. Milk, pasta, beans (I had canned kidney, black and refried stocked on my shelves when I began), butter or oil, frozen chicken, eggs, sugar, oatmeal. These are all the things I really fell back on. It was handy to have a few frozen meals that didn’t take any thought.

I learned that I could live without cheese. We ran out pretty early on and it’s usually added to a good portion of our meals, but things tasted fine without it. I also learned that I could be creative. We made cookies out of the ingredients in the house when we ran out of snack items. There was lots of thought involved, but all the food I prepared was good.

All-in-all, I am patting myself on the back. It’s good to know I can make due and it’s even better to know that my kids weren’t too difficult to please. We spent more time together over food prep. And it’s good to go through and use up what you’ve had stored. BUT…now it’s time to restock. This means BIG shopping trips and more $ put out than normal. I’m wondering if it all balances out. Did I save $ by using what I had when I am ending up needing to replenish it? Hmmm…Let’s look at it as Spring Cleaning of the cupboards, freezer and fridge.

Doing the Dance of the Children With 2 Shopping Carts & Full Cupboards~

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St Patty’s Day & The Tricky Leprechaun

March 17, 2011

My kids have come to count on a visit from a tricky leprechaun, each year on St. Patty’s Day. They spend great amounts of time brainstorming the design of their traps and exactly what they will do when they finally DO catch that tricky lil leprechaun. Last night was no different! They broke out bowls and the tambourine, a pocket watch, various pieces of Tupperware and pieces of train tracks. Oh the traps they built! There was lots of talk before they finally went to sleep. And when they woke they were only slightly disappointed to find that even though their well thought out traps, indeed, lured a tricky lil leprechaun, they had not been successful in catching him.

Our leprechaun likes to speak in rhyme. This is the note he left behind.

Max’s trap, ruined by the leprechaun, but at least the lil guy was good enough to leave behind some sweet treats!

Max, gathering his loot.

Gabi’s trap, tipped over and missing the golden pocket watch she had used as bait. Left behind was a green carnation and some sweet candy.

She was excited to have been visited!

The 3 trappers and their note. I love the look on Max’s face (“I’ll get you yet!”)

Doing the Dance of the Children on St. Patrick’s Day~

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Fun In Preschool with Rainbows-Skittle Count (count & taste the rainbow)

March 17, 2011

March is all about rainbows, the beginning of spring and leprechauns.

Here’s a fun way to review the #’s you’ve already learned.

Give each child a 1/2 Dixie sized cup of Skittles and a paper plate

Have them gently pour the cup out, onto the plate

Have the kids separate the Skittles into piles of each color and then ask them to count one color at a time, moving through the colors of the rainbow. We found that using 1/2 a cup was a good amount because they were familiar with those #’s. Any more than that was confusing for them (we did this 2 days in a row, as with all of our projects, and on day 1 we filled the cups and it didn’t work well). The BEST was when we got to Blue. There are no blue Skittles in a regular pack of Skittles, so it was a great lesson in “0″ and “none”.

We went around the class through each of the colors, charted the kids’ answers and then totaled each child’s Skittles. We then talked about less and more and left the chart up for a couple of days.

Doing the Dance of the Children~

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The Leprechauns Came to Preschool

March 16, 2011

In preschool we get to celebrate everything twice-once for the kiddos who come on M-W-F and again for the kiddos who come on T-Th. So today we got to celebrate St. Patty’s Day a day early and the Leprechauns didn’t disappoint.

Wee footprints were left on the tables and along the floor.

The kiddos brought in their homemade Leprechaun Traps. So cute!

We didn’t catch any leprechauns, but we DID get some tasty treats. We will try again tomorrow!

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Feeding My Family For 2 Weeks wit the Food Already in My House-Day 14

March 15, 2011

It’s Day 14 in this challenge and I’ve got to say that I’m REALLY proud of myself!

Lunches have been the most difficult, but I’ve still managed to make them happen. Tomorrow’s lunches will surely be the VERY last of what I can possibly make happen with what’s available. I’ll let you know if I come up with some FABULOUS idea and go beyond tomorrow.

Tonight’s dinner is nachos-I took 1 can of refried beans, 1 can of black beans (drained), a smallish chunk of Velveeta and about 1/3 jar of salsa. I cooked all of that together in a pot. In a separate pan I cooked about 3/4 lb of ground beef. I poured the bean mixture over tortilla strips that I laid in a 9×13 pan. I topped that with the ground beef. I drained a can of corn and sprinkled that on top of the whole thing and offered sour cream to anyone that wanted to top their nachos with it.

And for dessert-Oatmeal cookies! We don’t usually have dessert and the point of making these wasn’t to have them for dessert, it was so that Lex and I could enjoy some time together AND to add them to tomorrow’s lunches. But, everyone got the bonus of a cookie for dessert.

There you have it-Day 14′s dinner and dessert from my cupboards, fridge and freezer.

Doing the Dance of the Children and Using What I’ve Got~

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“Mom Appreciation Day”

March 14, 2011

Yesterday was a rare and wonderful day! We stayed home ALL day and worked in the yard and the house. It was so peaceful and productive! The kids came outside with me while I took care of some things in the yard. Our trampoline had been needing to be taken apart & disposed of for quite some time. I was able to get all of it, except the circular frame, apart. After I was done, the kids played-actually played, with their imaginations and each other! After awhile they came to get me and told me they’d set up a “carnival” for “Mom Appreciation Day” and that I needed to come out and pick what “booths” to go to.

Tristan, Gabi and Max-manning their booths and waiting for me to pick where to go first. Oh the choices…

There was Max’s Crash n Bash where the booth visitor can choose which trucks to Crash n Bash into each other…

Max demonstrating

or you could pick Gabi’s French Restaurant where your hunger and thirst could be satiated with such fare as tea with a “smidge” of mint and chocolate scones. She had also picked fresh flowers to give to her visitors.

A little sign that I was presented with

And let’s not forget Ye Olde  Battle Arena. I enjoyed a display of strength and courage between these 2, fine knights (notice that the trampoline frame was put to good use).

And to top it all off, Gabi wandered the yard with such entertainment as the hoola-hoop jump.

It was a great afternoon!

Here’s to the imagination and to peaceful days at home~

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Feeding My Family For 2 Weeks with the Food Already in My House-Days 10 & 11

March 12, 2011

I’m still on this mission and I’m still finding good food hiding in my cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. Dinners have been the easiest. Breakfast has been mostly hot or cold cereal or toast with various spreads. Lunch has been the most challenging. I pack all the kids’ lunches each day and it’s becoming more difficult to put together complete lunches, but I’m not giving up yet!

Day 10-This was EASY! We had leftovers. There were leftovers of 3 different meals, so the kids even had choices.

Day 11-Being a Friday in Lent, I made a meatless meal. Tofu with tri-color peppers, onions and garlic with Mr. Yoshida’s sauce/Basmati rice medley made with veggie broth/”Bean So Green” from Trader Joes frozen section. I have 2 kiddos who don’t especially enjoy tofu, but they ate the peppers and onions with the sauce and the other food options.

Not bad!

I’m feeling confident that I can do this for the next few days. I’m enjoying being forced to think about the meals and to be a little creative.

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Lenten Conversation with My 4yr Old

March 11, 2011

We were driving past a Weinerschnitzel and Lex asked if we could stop there to eat (a fairly random request since we’ve NEVER stopped there before). I said that we could another time, but since today is a Friday in Lent, that we aren’t eating meat, so we wouldn’t be able to go there today. Then I reminded him why we give up meat during this time.

His response-”I didn’t sign anything. Don’t you have to sign something saying you give up meat?!”

He’s 4! I can’t recall a time I’ve asked him to “sign” for ANYTHING. But it seems that given the choice, he would NOT have signed up for meatless Fridays.

Doing the Dance of the Children Through Lent~

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Feeding My Family For 2 Weeks with the Food Already in My House

March 10, 2011

Since the beginning of the month I’ve been making meals with only what’s already in my house. I was fairly well stocked when I began, but under normal circumstances, I would have made a trip to the grocery store for items that I always use, that I didn’t already have. But instead, I took inventory and made a mental list of what meals I could prepare with what was here.

I’m 9 days in and so far, so good! I still have some meals that I can easily put together before I have to get too creative. Though, you can bet that my grocery list for next time is getting quite long, as I empty the pantry!

What have I made? Well, I wrote a list from memory and I can only come up with 8 meals for the last 9 days. I guess the 9th meal wasn’t all that memorable!

1-Veggie Radiatore with ground beef, pine nuts and alfredo
2-Kale, tri-color peppers & tomatoes with veggie broth, over spaghetti
3-Spaghetti with red sauce and meatballs
4-Chicken & veggie stir fry over brown rice
5-Vegetarian chili with cornbread
6-Mac n Cheese (straight from the box)
7-Shells n Cheese with ground beef and mixed veggies
8-Oriental chicken salad

These aren’t listed in any particular order. Not bad, huh?

I must say that the Lenten season is a good time to take on an experiment like this, because if the kids don’t like something or ask why you’re not including a particular ingredient or “normal” choice, you can just tell them to offer it up. :-)

Always thinking and ALWAYS Doing the Dance of the Children~

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Give Me an “Edit” Button and I’ll Screw Up All Your Hard Work

March 9, 2011

This evening I sat with my webmaster for 2 hours, trying to learn some new things and trying to get my latest recipe video up on the site. After a few glitches and lots of hard work (on his part), I was told what I could do to change things up the way I wanted. He left and I pondered the things I learned (or tried to learn).

After running a couple errands for my kiddos, I got home, changed into some comfy clothes and came to my computer to “Get it Done”. Whoo Hoo! I was SO excited! Yeah…until I actually made the changes and then realized that I had suddenly made my video disappear. All I wanted to do was add a title!

There are SO many things I know and understand and then there’s all the techno stuff that just has no place in my brain. I try! I listen. I hear. But I just don’t understand! None of the code-talk makes sense to me. And because it doesn’t make sense, I can’t make my brain walk through a logical path of how to make it all work. Ultimately, there are things I’ve learned-how to record a podcast, how to edit the podcast and use a specific program to make it show up where I want it (kind of). I can write a blog post like nobody’s business! I can even add pictures…uploaded from all sorts of places…but there is simply so much I can’t do!

So after a ton of work and time, I seem to have undone what I was trying to enhance.

~sigh~

This is where I just need to say Thank You to the people who make the things happen that I can not.

I sure hope that email I sent gets read and that my video magically (or so it seems to me) shows up!

Off to bed with this techno-challenged M.O.M. I wonder if I’ll dream of html code. And I wonder how “easy” it is to click *magic* keys and make it all reappear.

Doing the Dance of the Children and Being Thankful For Those That Play the Music~

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Same Thing, Different Day

March 7, 2011

It’s been awhile since I’ve just sat down and written about the day without a real purpose.

Today-Monday-The 1st Day of the Great Fast in the Easter Catholic Church-A day that I drove to the high school 3 times (that’s 90 miles!)-A day of work-A day of school-A day of feeding my children-A day of doing laundry-A day of trying DESPERATELY to keep my 2nd grader on task with his homework-Just another day

I packed the kids’ lunches last night because I knew it would take a little creativity. After all, packing kid’s lunches and making sure there are NO animal products included, when you’re not a vegan family and you’re not able to run to the store for any new items, takes a little thought. What did I pack? Crackers with organic peanut butter/edamame with seaweed & toasted sesame seeds/peppers, baby carrots and small tomatoes/a pickle/a clementine/water. Not bad! At least the lunches were ready when I woke up this morn. So I was able to spend a little extra time on the laundry and not only got a load switched and a new one going, but I was able to fold too. It’s the little things.

I got the girls off to the high school and the other kids and myself to our school with a little time to spare. However, my kindergartener did not have her backpack. A small casualty! I went through this rainy, So Cal day with kiddos stuck in the classroom and then scooped up my own preschooler and headed out for errands-we picked up my flash drive that was loaded with my next cooking show! Yippee (look for it in the next couple days)! Then we ate and headed up to the high school for the afternoon pick-up. Then it was back to our school to grab my other 3 kiddos from their school day.

When we got home I got creative with the after school snack-I toasted white corn tortillas over the flame of my gas stove, then added a spoonful of vegetarian refried beans, a little southwestern salsa and guac. Yum! Tristan ate 4! Then it was time to go back to the high school for the after-sports pick up. I grabbed one of my daughters and a team mate, dropped the team mate at her house and got home to try to wing dinner. What did I come up with? Well, I put a little olive oil in a pan, then added chopped onion and garlic. After that was ready, I added kale, sliced tri-color peppers and fresh cut tomatoes. I cooked it all down, added a little veggie broth, cooked it down again and put it all over spaghetti noodles. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was enjoyed. Success!

Shouldn’t I just be able to grab a glass of wine, climb into bed and finish the movie I started 2 days ago? Nope! There are kiddos to keep on task with the homework. We are now on 2 1/2 hours of keeping said kiddo on task with homework! And I wonder why my patience is thin!

You know what would be great?! If someone came up with a product (that actually worked) like the 5 hour energy drink, but instead is was like 5 hours of PATIENCE. Now THAT is something I’d be clearing the shelves of! It seems that by the time I’m making dinner, I’m really ready for the day to be over. I suppose it could be because I’ve had such a long day by that time, but still…I NEED patience and endurance past 4pm. My day isn’t done until the lil kiddos are in bed and I just don’t see them adjusting their schedule to start going down for the night at 4pm.

So I guess my best chance at making it through without falling apart is prayer and writing about it. Right? Right!

So there you have it-Same Thing, Different Day.

And as always, I’m here, Doing the Dance of the Children~

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