Friday, February 19, 2010

Follow Me Friday!

Recycling is good, right!  I thought I would recycle one of my earlier posts again. This is one of the first posts I wrote that went beyond my son's eating quirks. Enjoy, and I will be back next week with fresh content:) My mom and I have discovered bread baking and it is helping Jackson eat more food! Details to folllow.....
I am linking this up with Follow me Friday hosted by: One 2 Try, Hearts Make Families, and Midday Escapades .

Battling Jackson's eating habits hasn't been the only parental frustration we have dealt with in the last 5 years. Parenting is tough. Not that you haven't heard that before. Everyone tells you about sleepless nights, responsibility, etc. But, I am referring to the emotional and, sometimes, physical demands parenting can have on you.
Here is my list of the top 4 toughest things about being a parent:
4) Parenting is icky! Not just the poopy diapers. Although those aren't the most pleasant things to have to deal with! Being a parent has enlightened us to all the disgusting things a body can produce. Sometimes I feel like I have the kind of experience that could land me a job at the CDC. I had to deal with a fungus behind Jackson's ear once. A fungus! I frantically called the pediatric emergency hotline telling them that my son's ear looked like it was going to fall off. The nurse giggled.  
My best piece of advice that I can bestow on young mom's and/or dad's is that when a 2 year old tells you their belly hurts-DO NOT put them on your lap! It is so funny to my husband and I how we can deal with puke in a way that we never thought we could deal with puke. Something that used to be so revolting is now just par for our disgusting course.
3) Working with nocturnal creatures: I am sure you have always heard that kids don't like to go to sleep. I heard it, too. In fact, my parents used to tell the funniest stories about how much my brother and I disliked bedtime. But, until you deal with an actual child who doesn't like sleep, you have no idea the frustrations that can come with bedtime. My sons have a solid political stance on their bedtime rights as human beings. One day, mark my words, Jackson will run for office on the slogan: "Equal bedtime opportunities for all ages. Why should parents be the only ones to stay up late?" And, it isn't just their lack of desire in going to bed. It is their endless amounts of energy that can be frustrating! I think Jackson should be studied, but I am afraid they might find some superhuman gene in his system and genetically mutate it to produce those energy drinks people consume! Wrigley, too! Every night around bath-time he starts to inform us that he is skipping sleep time today. "I not going to sleep today, right mommy?" Really!?!?! It does, however, make me feel good that life is so amazing to them that they don't want to miss one moment by sleeping. Still, I didn't realize I would be raising two owls.
2) Guilt: Raising human beings is such a huge responsibility. No matter what we do, there is always an element of guilt. All that we do is being observed by them and they are little sponges soaking up everything. So, there is this nagging feeling of guilt when we slip and let our moral judgement be compromised on occasion. Now, please don't think we are bad people. But, realistically, we are not perfect people either and there are times where we say a bad word, gossip, yell at each other or any number of horrible things. So, when I witness one of them exhibiting behavior that is less than admirable, I always think-did they see me do that? My father always jokes and says, "Do what I say, not what I do". But, unfortunately that doesn't always work. All we can do it our best and hope that they take more good than bad from us as examples.
1) Endless worry: These days there is so much to worry about I think my head may explode. I have heard that it never ends, too. Even when they are 50 I will still worry about them. Their safety, their security, their health, their sanity, their happiness, etc. Sometimes I want to lock them in the house and never let them go into the big, bad world. But, then my mom brings me down to earth. Jackson and my husband were off to their first camping trip and my mom told me she was worried about Pythons! PYTHONS!!!! Really!?! There are always going to be dangers out there. The worrying will never end, so I might as well just learn to live with it!

In Miley Cyrus fashion, I should probably also include the 4 things I love about being a parent:
4) Smiles and giggles: When we first had Jackson, I was overwhelmed and terrified. My body had just been through a drugless labor and between learning how to breast-feed and sleepless nights, the thought of ever having another baby seemed downright insane! One day during Jackson's first week home, my husband came home to find me sobbing. I told him through the tears that although we had always said we would have 2 kids, I was now happy with just the one. Cut to Jackson's first smile and me telling Adam we could handle a dozen more kids! When the kids began giggling as babies, I did everything but set my hair on fire if I thought I could get a laugh. And even now, at 3 and 5 years old, hearing them laugh is the most unexpected joy. Sometimes I steal a glance in my rearview mirror to find Wrigley looking out his window smiling. At what, I don't know. But, no matter what I am feeling or experiencing that day, I too will begin to smile.
3) Working with my husband: I know that sounds funny. Like parenting is a job. But, it is. Just like any business, decisions have to be made and I am not the only CEO of this organization. We naturally consult on everything. Sometimes I giggle inside about how much thought, research and preparation goes into every little decision we make about the kids. I always think to myself, is this the decision that will send them to therapy one day? Making these decisions with Adam, my husband, has been a lot of fun. He has a different take on things that I have come to appreciate and look to when I am feeling a little crazy. We are very different in our styles, but have found a strong partnership that works. When one of us gets frustrated over dealing with the kids, we "tag" the other person to step in. It keeps the kids on their toes! Sometimes it does backfire on me, though. When I give time-outs, the kids will scream "I want Daddy!". To wipe the grin off Adam's face in those moments, I tell him that the kids know a sucker when they see one:) In all sincerity, I think it is good for the kids to have a balance. They need discipline,  but they also need some leniency. I tend to be the tougher of the two, but Adam also lets me be the good guy every once in a while. And for that, I love him!
2) Seeing my parents be Grandparents: I have figured out that being a grandparent is getting to experience the "things I love about being a parent" list without having to deal with the "the things that are tough about parenting" list. They have done their "parenting" time, now they get to soak up all the good stuff and leave the hard stuff to mom and dad. I love, love, love watching them with my kids. They look at my children with such love and fondness and are the few people in the world who are actually anxious to hear about the details of the activities of the kids. Jackson and Wrigley return that love and fondness tenfold. Recently I asked Wrigley and Jackson why they liked going to Mimi and Papa's. They simply replied, "Because they are nice". Of course, the ridiculous amounts of chocolate milk and candy probably don't hurt!
1) Endless Moments: Life, to me, is a series of significant moments. Those times when you force yourself to take it all in. I don't remember everyday of high school, but I do remember certain moments that were significant. A car accident on homecoming, the first Varsity football game I cheered in, the feeling right before we walked on the floor for a competition, the day we skipped school to watch the Bay Hill golf tournament from my trampoline. I remember sounds, smells, feelings from those days and telling myself to remember those things. I don't remember every date my husband and I have been on, but I do remember the moment I knew he would be the man I would marry. Moments. Up until I had kids, those moments seemed few and far between. With kids, those moments are endless. Everyday I stop and compel myself to remember what is like to see them sleeping or the feel of their hugs or the sound of their voices or the glee in their eyes when I am tickling them. Everyday brings new and different moments and I can't wait to experience those moments each worth all the frustrations!


MckLinky Blog Hop

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dream a Little Dream

I posted this a few weeks back. It has been working so well, I thought I would re-post for those who have recently started following....

As a mom I hear and read all kinds of tips and tricks to get your kids to do or not do things. 99% of the time these tips and tricks don't work. I just think every kid is different and what works for one isn't going to work for another. However, the 1% of the time the tip/trick pays off is worth the effort:) So, with that being said, I have found a fun way to get my 3 year old to look forward to bedtime.  Wrigley used to be a piece of cake to get to bed, but lately he has been giving us a lot of resistance. There is crying, pleas to stay up and play, endless excuses.  Until one night....

 As I was putting Wrigley to bed, he said he wanted to see snow. With us living in Central Florida the chance of him seeing snow anytime soon is pretty much not going to happen (even with our recent cold fronts). So, I told him he could dream about the snow. We then spent a few minutes talking about what he would do in the snow, who would be with him, what the snow will feel like, etc. When he woke the next morning, I asked him about his dream and he described what we had talked about the night before. Every night since, as we walk to his bedroom, he asks me what he will dream about tonight. It is so precious listening to his little voice describe his imaginative scenarios and seeing the anticipation in his eyes for the dream yet to come. The best part of all is that there are little to no tears when I announce bedtime!

So, give it a try if you have a toddler resisting bedtime. If anything, it will be a few special moments spent with your child......


P.S. Tonight he was dreaming about being in a boat with Mickey Mouse, Jesus, and Mimi and Papa!

This post is linked to Try and Tell Tuesday over at Mom Tried It. Head on over to get some great tips, tricks, advice, etc....

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lessons Learned

I decided to do something cute and crafty for Jackson's valentines for his class. I found this great idea to make heart-shaped crayons here. It was really super easy and fun to make.  I put 2 heart-shaped crayons in a little baggie with some conversation hearts, then attached a cute label with a crayon box pixture that said: Thanks for "coloring" my school days with fun and laughter. Cute, right!  Well, both my husband and a friend commented that the crayons could be mistaken for chocolate or candy. Not wanting to change my plan, I argued that the baggies would be opened at home and surely parents will read the label prior to letting their child eat what is in the bag. Famous. Last. Words.
Wrigley watched in envy while we made the bags, periodically asking if he was going to get a candy baggie. Keep in mind that Wrigley helped unwrap and break the crayons. He watched while I put the crayons in the hear-shaped muffin pan and put them in the oven. He also was in ear shot during the grown-ups discussion over kids eating the crayons. 

Wrigley got his little bag before he went to bed and was told that he could have a piece of candy in the morning. Of course, first thing he asked for in the morning was his baggie. I gave him the baggie and sat him down at the kitchen table while I poured my coffee. A few minutes later I heard, "Mommy, these candies taste yucky". SERIOUSLY! Yep, big 'ole bite of crayon.

The entire ride to school was spent grilling Jackson on what he needed to say to each one of his friends: The big hearts in your valentine candy bag are crayons NOT candy!

Lessons Learned:
 1) I should have paid more attention to my 3 year old before giving him crayons that resembled candy.
2) I really shouldn't lay such a burden on my 6 year old to warn his friends about my cute little bags that I refused to re-make:) They really were cute!
3) I may have the pickiest child on earth, but I also have one who will eat anything!

Want to read about some more mama guilt? Head on over to Cop Mama and see what other moms are thinking about....

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Diet Wrecking

This is what I do when it is cold, wet and rainy outside. I bake uncontrollably. What you see here is chocolate chip muffins from Annie's Eats and chocolate cupcakes from Betty Crocker:) with white chocolate sprinkles. 
To the 5 lbs I lost over the last few weeks: Hi! Welcome Home:) Don't get too comfortable; I will be kicking you back to the curb in the next week. Until then, enjoy your stay! 

Oh, I almost forgot: 

Wrigley said he wanted to eat the trees. Cute, huh! He ate 2 of the trees and then asked for a cupcake!

Have a great Valentines Day tomorrow!!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Feed Me Books!

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?
My son and I adore these "How do Dinosaurs..." books. One Christmas Jackson recieved a small stuffed dinosaur and this book from a family friend:
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
 The first night I read it with Jackson we were howling! The book asks how a dinosaur says good night and then asks if he does a series of "naughty" nighttime behaviors (ex: slamming his tail and pouting, swinging his neck from side to side). We were laughing because a lot of the things the dinosaur shouldn't be doing is what Jackson was currently doing at bedtime! I was able to say, "That dinosaur sounds like someone I know!" At the end, though, the book reviews how a dinosaur should say good night and this is where our little ritual began. When the dinosaur gives a big kiss, we give each other a kiss. When he turns out the light, we turn out the light. When the dinosaur whispers "Good Night", we whisper "Good night". When the....well, you get the picture. I can't say that this book solved all of our bedtime issues, but it certainly didn't hurt. This was the first book he memorized and would act very proud when he was able to "read" it to others. 

I was thrilled when I discovered that this book was part of a series. The series is great for emerging readers as it rhymes throughout and offers a lot of sight words that my son needs to know in Kindergarten. 

I was even more thrilled when I found this book: 
 How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?
It centers more on general table manners than picky eating, but it is still super cute! 

And for Valentines Day, we will be reading (for the gazillionth time) Jackson's favorite Christmas present from mommy: 
How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? 
There are many more in this series for just about anything you can think of: going to school, making friends, learning letters and numbers, etc. Check them out; you and your dinosaur are sure to love them!

This post is part of a series that I have been following the last few weeks from The Adventures of Motherhood called: Feed Me Books Friday. I love this idea as it is a way to get reviews for books from mothers who are reading them to their kids.

I am also including this post as part of Follow Me Friday sponsored by:
Hearts Make Families
Midday Escapes
One 2 Try

For some reason I can't paste the code here, but if you want to link up and see all the other fabulous blogs participating, please click on any (or all) of the blog links above.

Whew! That was a lot of info at the end, huh:) 


In full disclosure: I have included the Amazon Affiliate links below should you want to purchase. I will receive 4% of the sales price should you do so. 
How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sloppy Joe

One of the few meals I can prepare without following a recipe is Sloppy Joes' (Joe's? Joes?). This is also one of the first recipes I ever found on-line. My husband loves him some Sloppy Joe's and I had no clue where to begin to make them. Did you know that they are not listed in many cookbooks? I guess they are so far below the gourmet meter that chefs don't bother including them. So, to the internet I went and printed the first recipe that appeared. Lucky for us it was a great one! Anytime I ask Adam if he wants anything special for dinner, these are what he wants. Pretty simple to make and very delicious. We prefer ours sweet, so I add a lot more brown sugar than most people would probably like. You can change it based on your preference.

I made a few rookie mistakes tonight concerning Jackson eating. I knew that we would be eating dinner later due to baseball practice, so snacks were given about 3:30pm. Now, most kids would still be hungry enough for dinner at 7:30 (case in point-Wrigley cleaned his plate), but Jackson can function off of small doses of food for long periods of time. He will make a great Survivor contestant if that show is still around in 12 years. Second mistake: Jackson was doing homework while I was cooking which left Wrigley without a playmate. I gave up trying to entertain a hungry 3 year old while trying to cook, so I turned the TV on in hopes of getting 30 minutes to get dinner on the table. Of course, when it came time for dinner, Spectacular Spiderman was in the middle of a show and I knew I would be fighting Jackson to eat, so I didn't want to fight over turning the TV off. What I didn't consider in my equation was that the TV was a huge distraction and Jackson was able to avoid eating by watching the TV! (for those of you wondering, our kitchen is practically part of the living room, so the TV can be seen from our kitchen table). Third mistake (not really a mistake, more of a circumstance): my husband was umpiring tonight and I was left to face the picky eater alone. I knew I was doomed and Jackson could smell the fear.

Even before the dinner was placed on the table the whining began. He negotiated a smaller portion, was able to get Doritos as a side dish (I thought it would give me leverage. One bite of sandwich, one chip. Apparently, Doritos are not as enticing as I thought), and ended up never taking a bite. I was left telling a 6 year old that he needed to thank me for the time and effort I put into dinner and when his father got home, thank him for earning the money to make the meal. I know, real mature of me:) I also told him he would be going to bed hungry and would not be allowed Fruit Loops for breakfast. He responded that he was going to ask for eggs anyway. When did he turn into a teenager with that attitude?

Here is the recipe for those of you out there who will actually eat it:
(I would love to give credit to whoever put this recipe on the web, but it was like 5 years ago that I printed it and I lost that piece of paper about 3 years ago. Luckily, I have made it so often I have it memorized. Just know that I did not create this. A food genius in the cyberworld did and we are forever grateful)

1lb ground beef (I normally use the lower fat variety, but it really is better with the higher fat content)
1/2 cup diced sweet yellow onion
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup water
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar (you can reduce or increase based on taste)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce

Brown meat with onion on medium heat. (I drain access fat, but again would be super good if you didn't)
Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in flour. Add in all other ingredients and simmer until thickened.
I would taste test and add ingredients based on flavor preference. I typically always end up having to add in more brown sugar after Adam tastes.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Try and Tell Tuesday-Tried and True Recipes

When my husband and I got married, I had 2 main meals that I could cook: Spaghetti and Frozen Pizza. We ate out a lot. When I was a working mom, I had zero guilt about eating out or throwing a frozen meal together and calling it dinner. But, when I got laid off and we decided to take it as an opportunity to see if we could manage with me as a SAHM, I decided that I should cook a homemade meal every night. I have always been a believer that if you try hard enough, you can succeed at everything. Everything but cooking, apparently. There were many times that my husband came home from work to find the kids starving and me crying over a disaster of a dinner. My mom was a great cook, his mom was a great cook. What was wrong with me?

One day I ran across a food blog and started reading comments about recipes. The posts and the comments taught me a lot about the recipes and how to cook the meal. I am now addicted to food blogs and have found some amazing recipes! I always read comments to see if I should tweak the recipe or if I need to change an oven temperature or time. I also print the recipes and add my own notes (who in the family liked the meal, who didn't, ingredients to add next time, etc.). I even got brave, at some point, and started cooking from cookbooks again. I can't say that I am a great cook, but I have started to surprise myself with some edible dishes.

Here are some of the recipes that I have tried and enjoyed recently:
French Onion Soup-who knew you could make this at home! This is one of those meals I thought only restaurants knew how to make:)
Sausage and Roasted Vegetable Pasta-Melissa D'Arabian from Food Network is great! Love her show, her recipes, her tips.
Best Brownies Ever-Annie's Eats is one of my favorite food blogs. Her recipes are easy to follow and so unbelievably yummy! I have always struggled making homemade brownies, but these were easy and so good that I wrecked my healthy eating plan on one batch!
Bacon Wrapped Chicken-this was one of the meals I cooked while cleaning out my pantry/fridge/freezer. Super fast, Super easy and Super tasty! Fairhope Foodie is one of my more recent finds and I have already bookmarked half of her site for future dinners.

I have found that I enjoy cooking a meal for my family. There is a sense of pride when I place a meal that I created on the table....even if Jackson hardly every eats it:)

This post is part of Try and Tell Tuesday from Mom Tried It. If you would like to link up, head on over to Mom Tried It and share your tried and true ideas, recipes, tips, etc.
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Sunshine Award

Who couldn't use a little sunshine? Thanks so much to Misadventures Mom of 3 for this wonderful award:)

There are some rules for me to follow -

• Put the Logo on your sidebar, or within a post. (check)

•Pass the award onto other Bloggers (check)

•Link the nominees within your post. (check)

•Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog. (In Process)

•Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award (check).

Here are my nominees:

Thanks, Misadventures Mom of 3, for the shout out:)

I love visitors, readers, followers. It is so lovely to know that there are others out there reading my words, sharing my troubles and joys. So, to try and gain more of you amazing readers, followers, visitors, I am participating in a new Blog Hop at Trendy Treehouse.
This is a free way to market your blog to others, so head on over to Trendy Treehouse and link sure to follow Trendy Treehouse on Facebook, Twitter, and Network Blogs.
Thanks for reading:)

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pizza Crescents

Our normal grocery bill is $125/week which is pretty darn good considering that we do not eat out at all. That means $125 feeds all 4 of us breakfast, lunch and dinner for 7 days. Not too shabby:) But, my pantry is packed solid with half empty (or half full) boxes of pasta, some chicken broth, get the picture. So, I challenged myself to plan my meals based on what I already had on hand and see if I could spend less than $40 at the grocery store. Turns out, this was easier than I thought! I am going to do this at least 1-2x's a month and will save us $80-$160/month! Yippee:) Thanks to $5 dinners for the great money saving tip! (My friend Michelle at Smart Money Mom did the same thing and saved even more.)
I had ingrediants on hand for pizza, minus the crust. What I did have was crescent rolls. I debated rolling them out to make one big crust or make individual little pizza crescents. The individuals won out and we thought this was the greatest meal ever to be placed on our table. Ok, that is a little dramatic, but they were darn good!
I would imagine most kids would have been giving their moms hugs and kisses for serving them this for dinner. Not my kid! This meal started the, what I like to call, Crescent Pizza Battle of 2010. My son, who loves pepperoni pizza, refused to eat these. Because they were not in the shape of a triangle and they were not delivered to our house, he would not take a bite. Now, I understand my son's refusals to eat vegetables or even fruit...but pizza because it was shaped differently...COME ON!!! Much debating was spent between my husband, son and I. One hour at the dinner table begging him to try a bite. There was crying (from me) and in the end, one bite was consumed by my son...who still holds the title for World's Pickiest Eater!
I am sure these crescents have been done before and I am sure you can find a version on Pillsbury's website, but here is how I did them:
Roll out individual crescent rolls. Place a spoonful of your favorite pizza sauce, some mozerella chesse and your favorite pizza toppings. Roll crescent (you could do an egg wash to give it that shine) and sprinkle some cheese on the top. Bake according to crescent package directions. The buttery sweetness of the bread mixed with the salty pepperoni and cheese...T-A-S-T-Y!
This post is part of Follow Me Friday! Link up at either: One 2 Try, Hearts Make Families, and/or Midday Escapes. Happy Blogging!
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MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, February 1, 2010

Try and Tell-Fun Learning Games for all ages

I am so happy that one of my favorite blogs, Mom tried it (and where I get a lot of my "tips" and activities) is starting a blog carnival where we can share those tried and true things that have worked for us either with the kids or in the kitchen, or just about life in general!

Here are a few parenting "tricks" that I have found to work well:

I have a 5 (soon to be 6) year old and a 3 year old. One loves to learn and the other says "I don wanna learn" whenever I even mention a number or letter. With their age differences and their differing opinions on learning, finding activities to do together can be tough. Often times I find that Jackson (the oldest) and I end up playing a game while Wrigley (the youngest) plays by himself. Sad, I know! So, the other day I came up with 2 great activities that involved all of us and tapped into some learning for both kids!
  1. I drew a vertical line down the middle of their chalk board and drew different shapes on one side and sight words on the other. I told them that we would play a game and gave each one a piece of chalk. When I called out a shape, Wrigley had to find and circle it and when I called out a sight word, Jackson had to circle. It was a lot of fun and both kids were racing to circle the most things.
  2. Since letters and numbers were making Wrigley disgruntled about learning, I decided this week to focus on our 5 senses instead. I grabbed some great activities from No Time for Flashcards and he enjoyed them. So, while we were gathered around the chalkboard, I decided to combine spelling and senses. I drew a face and a hand (Jackson had to remind me about the hand. I would of totally forgotten touch!) and then would say and write a sentence about senses (ex: She saw a bird). I would leave out at least two words (ex. ___ saw a ____). I would have Wrigley come up and circle what she would "see" the bird with and Jackson had to spell the missing words. So much fun!
I can't wait to read other posts at Mom Tried It from others and gain some tricks, tips, recipes, activities, etc. for my arsenal:)