Friday, October 30, 2009
I mentioned in my last post that yesterday was G's parent-teacher conference. No big surprises here-- she's a sweet kid, a little hesitant to speak in class, and often times a little distracted. Mike and I both agreed that this is a totally accurate assessment. And I tell you this, not sarcastically, or in a way that suggests I am disappointed in imperfections in my kids--but because I believe I can only be a good parent if I understand the things that my children struggle with. I also do not believe it is a breach of G's privacy to share them, because we are being purposeful with recognizing our imperfections, and not being ashamed of them. Owning them, and working on them.
G is also our very predictable kid. As of her first 7 years, she hasn't thrown us for too many loops. Children 2, 3 and 4...yet to be determined, but HIGHLY more likely to set the class gerbil free.
In any case, every child in G's class drew a family picture and none were labeled--so we got to pick out which one was our small clan. Four children definitely gives it away.
Or maybe it was Mike's rather large ears and hands. Or L's freakishly tiny frame (again, accurate).
But. The thing that gives it away completely?
In G's rendering, these four children are wearing matching outfits. It appears this little obsession of mine has morphed into a defining characteristic of our family.
Happy Halloween weekend!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I'm not kidding. Every single child had an event scheduled. Back-to-back-to-back. I tend to think of the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas as the schedule that sends me into hysteria. But week of Halloween? I am on to you.
Turns out my work for last night was not so bad, minus the lingering paranoia that I was forgetting something major. I mean, worlds would COLLIDE if I forgot tape. Or, styrofoam cups for coffee. Is someone bringing styrofoam cups? Did I ask someone to bring cups? Is this my fault? Will the coffee be wasted without the cups? Who should I call? WHO SHOULD I CALL??????
Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? Because, for as much as I LOVE my Diet Coke, there are people out there equally obsessed with Starbucks. And, it's my suspicion, that if you offered free Starbucks to coffee addicts, they would create a homemade coffee bong or just lay on the floor and let it funnel straight down their throats, before they would let it just sit there.
Or. They would find a cup.
People are resourceful like that.
Since you've heard me FREAK out about it all week, here are pictures of my day. Beginning with the snack bar. With included a selection of yogurts and toppings. Not my idea, I can't take credit. But it does sound yumm-o, and healthy and freaking awesome. The pumpkin did end up with polka dots, I just couldn't help myself. And the Christmas lights are courtesy of my husband, Clark Griswald.
Moving on. Four-year-old Halloween party. Which, I coordinated with my fellow room parent, Brenda. Who made the most amazing spread of treats in the history of Halloween. Just wait, you'll see.
Brenda and I learned just last week that we were responsible for the Halloween party. We both signed up to be room parents, and didn't realize that meant party planning, until our kids teachers emailed to see how the plans were coming. Plans? PLANS! Right....
Activity #1: Make a monster tables. Here is where my crap loads of monster parts went to good, creative use! Though it seems I planned enough for an army of monster aliens, and really, we only needed 16.
Look at these cupcakes. Don't they make you remember the age of 5? I love little kids and cupcakes, and G's preschool did not allow them, as a boycott of messiness. But then you miss out on this sugar-loaded fun. I cannot resist it, based on the beautiful colors alone.
Oh! Did you think that was it? Because Brenda seriously ROCKS party treats. Why yes, those are candy corn pizzas. Made with three different colors of cheese. Did you know that when cheese melts, it keeps it's borders and doesn't ooze? Because that is seriously the coolest pizza I have ever seen.
And yes, those are apples. What you cannot see is that there are chunks cut out of the skin, which make the wedges look like mouths. And then, she inserted almond slices to look like teeth. GET OUT!
All the festivities topped off with dinner at my in-laws, with my sister-in-law and her cute boys here for a short visit. Fat glass of wine officially downed.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It did not end well for the pizza.
And that just says to me that contorting into rather awkward spaces ends in dismemberment. I love it when food speaks real, practical and applicable truths.
Pizza, you are not the dumbest of the foods.
And then, once Big J & L left on the magic school bus, Little J and I embarked on the LONGEST game of Hi-Ho-Cheerio, in history. I'm not kidding, it took at least 10 minutes for me to keep any of my cheeries off the tree, and the cruel cherry-fate-God made me spill them, continuously. And then I learned that lifeless, children's board games can have a spiteful temperament.
Which maybe I should have known, if you'll recall my Candyland debacle.
All this to say, that it has been one of the most and least productive days I can remember. Because the house is a D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R with no signs of recovery, and I am juggling at least 5 major projects. But they will be done by bedtime tonight, or by 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. Whichever comes first.
I am not a good multi-tasker. Not because I can't get it done, but because it FREAKS me out to have a lot of different balls in the air. I am paranoid about forgetting something. This paranoia came to a head tonight, when I couldn't locate G's homework. Sidenote: We get spelling homework sent home every week on Monday, due on Friday. Bad, BAD plan for me. We are constantly searching for that stinkin' paper, and it is always returned with some sort of food stain.
Anyway. Homework found. Sanity in check.
By the end of this day I will finish a freelance writing project, bake two loaves of bread, cut a crap load of monster parts out, figure out how to decorate a teacher snack bar, potentially paint some pumpkins for a teacher snack bar, finish my bible study (okay, I haven't started this one). At some point, I also need to find Big Bird (L's Halloween costume) some form of orange leggings.
Oh, and I blogged.
Peace out. Tomorrow evening will greet me with a fat glass of wine.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I seriously want to know who thought that watching Baby Einstein videos was going to make their kid a genius? Because suing Disney for false advertising????? That is ri-diculous.
When I bought my Baby Einstein COLLECTION (I believe we own 5 of them), I knew exactly what they were--a 25 minute baby soother that allowed me to have my only opportunity to shower. And now you are telling moms out there that it is selfish and harmful to bathe.
That's not okay.
As if EVERY message out there is not geared at telling moms that if they don't make the right decisions, they will cause harm and lasting damage to their children. See my post on vaccinations, the current hot topic. But it is seriously in EVERYTHING. If you let your kids watch Baby Einstein videos, they will not be smart (and certainly have all kinds of attention disorders). If you don't get them the "right" first walking shoes, their feet won't develop properly. Sippy cups cause lisps. If you co-sleep, you are an enabler of bad habits...if you schedule, you are a cold hearted bi---. If they eat dairy products from cows before they are a year old, their stomachs will explode.
ALL kinds of craziness. I have been told ALL of those things with my first child. Okay, not the stomach explosion part, but it was a seriously insane warning about dairy.
It was like a double dare to give my baby yogurt. And I did.
And guess what?
She lived. And still has a stomach and everything.
Listen. I KNOW my sinful, selfish tendencies will send my children straight into the arms of a kind therapist at some point in their lives. But I also know that some of the decisions I am fretting over and hoping are right, will be wrong. I will fail sometimes. I can't always see the whole picture, and without that kind of perspective, I just can't know for certain if giving my child soda when she is five will create a pattern for obesity throughout her life.
For instance. We painfully installed baby gates ALL over our house. And guess what? G still fell down our stairs TWICE. No plan is fool proof.
And I REFUSE to live under that kind of pressure.
We all know that mom. She hand sanitizes everything and only feeds her baby organic chick peas. And she is TOTALLY exhausted from all the loads of laundry she does in a day (with fragrance free detergent that is hand-mixed by Tibetan monks) and is kind of woozy from the toxic bleach fumes she inhales. Seriously, we all have a little bit of her in us. But ladies, PLEASE create some kind of boundaries for that kind of crazy. Because if you tell me that the moon's gravitational pull and the earth's orbit have some sort of influence on your child's sleeping and teething patterns, I will stage an intervention.
It's okay to shower sometimes. It's okay if your baby lies in her crib and plays happily without you. It's even okay if she lays in her crib and plays unhappily without you sometimes, too. It's okay that she cries. It's okay if you pick her up when she cries. It's okay if you feed her rice cereal when she's four months old, and it's okay if you feed her rice cereal when she's 6 months old. It's okay if you don't nurse until you're child is a toddler. It's okay to wear flannel pajamas. It's okay to get a babysitter. It's okay to just sit sometimes.
It's okay to wing it. Tell 'em I said so.
Who put the freaking soap box out here, and forced me to stand on it...again?
Oh, right. The person who is suing Disney over Baby Einstein videos.
Maybe it's that I had an uncontrollable fit of productiveness/insomnia last night, which means I didn't officially fall asleep until after 3 a.m. ...so today I am tired. And probably a little irritable (to which you reply, NO! NEVER!). I promise more Halloween, less social-empowerment/I-am-woman-hear-me-roar in the days to come.
Until then, keep it real ladies. Keep it real.
Monday, October 26, 2009
When it rains it pours. As is always the case with being BUSY. But then again, that is the definition of busy-ness...having to do a lot of things at the same time.
Which is particularly true when you have children, and you like to be, *ahem*, involved in EVERYTHING. Which this week, includes planning and assembling a snack bar for the teachers at G's school (during their fall conferences on Thursday) and planning a Halloween party for Big J & L's class (also Thursday). Don't feel sorry for me...I do it to myself, every time. I no longer know how to function without being FRANTIC.
And it's really sad and slightly neurotic to be panicky over cupcakes and storytelling. I have problems.
I'm kind of in love with this idea....and the way it turned out. So, we need to fill about an hour with crafts/games/snacks at this Halloween party. Yes, there is indeed a craft (Do you even know me, if you have to ask?), but here is our game--a scavenger hunt for Mr. Bones, who quite unfortunately, does not have any of his limbs/parts attached to one another.
Bummer for Mr. Bones. Great fun for 4-year-olds.
My plan is to hide the various bones throughout their classroom, and have the kids search for them...and then assemble them on the white board at the front of their classroom. Interactive, right? I really love how he turned out. I mean, doesn't he just seem to be such a nice fella...considering he has lost his skin and muscles, which I would think, might make someone pretty grouchy! And let me tell you, ribs are not easy to conceptualize on paper...but I think this works, or at least you get the picture!
I will post more party details on Thursday! I may have started the Halloween festivities around here a wee bit too early...is it just me, or does it feel like it has been Halloween season forever?
Sunday, October 25, 2009
But for now, I have chosen, and that frees up a whole lot of time and brain capacity for me to debate the REAL topics, like birthday party themes and Christmas decorations.
Let me put on record, that I have finally discussed this with my husband (aka, the voice of reason) and we have agreed to get the vaccinations for the kids. And here is why.
Most people I talk to, or opinions I have read online are FIRMLY for or against the vaccine--there is no gray area. It is really easy for me to adopt the stance of those who can state their cases well. And for whatever reason, the argument against the vaccine was really persuasive for me. In years past, our flu vaccination record was sporadic at best. If they had them available at our well-visits in November/ December, we gladly took them. Additional trips to the doctor for the purposes of shot-giving? No chance. In seven years, I have yet to see our kids seriously sick with the flu--our vomiting episodes last less than 24 hours, and I have not seen a fever last longer than 2 days. I am not naive enough to think we are not at risk for more serious sickness...it just hasn't been our previous experience. Which is shocking, really, because we always assumed the prematurity of our twins guaranteed a life of illness and lung-related complications. To have escaped that, thus far, has been a wonderful surprise. I will note, that because of their prematurity, Big J and L are considered a high priority for receiving the vaccinations.
About 2 weeks ago, a memo came home from our preschool, offering free H1N1 vaccines. I tossed it, thinking my mind was made up and I was not vaccinating. And then today, G came home with a similar memo--this one strongly advocating the vaccine, not only for the safety of my child, but the well-being of other children. There is NOTHING that makes me want to run far, far away like guilty pressure. It's a wonderful, sinful part of my being. So, when I had a conversation with my husband (the voice of reason) today, I was pretty huffy and defensive, because I felt a guilted about the choice I was making not to give my child the vaccine.
To which my husband responded, that he thought our kids should get the vaccine. I try not to hate his ability to separate emotions (huffiness) with decision making. Despite my bad attitude, I am pretty sure that spite is not a good reason for or against the vaccination.
His reasoning was so true, and yet, none of the criteria or rationale I was using when I thought I wouldn't vaccinate. I understand their are potentially dangerous additives in the vaccines, a list of harmful (if unlikely) side effects, questions about its effectiveness. I also understand that this virus is pretty awful (we know SEVERAL kids who have been in the hospital) and potentially fatal (though chances of this are low as well). On either side, their is the remote possibility of a BAD outcome--how do you decide which disaster is worse? How do you KNOW whether your kid will have an adverse reaction to the vaccine, or require hospitalization and a ventilator as a result of the virus?
Truth is, you don't.
At the heart of it, I do think it comes down to what you believe and NONE of the other hype and paranoia and general popularity of a particular choice. And I agree with my husband--we do not believe the government is intentionally out to screw or harm us. I believe the CDC is pushing this vaccine, because it believes it is in the best interests of the country. I believe that based on their facts, this is what they consider the best course of action. And I do not believe they would so widely distribute something if they felt it was too risky or dangerous (do not hear me say it is without risks...not even crossing the street is without risk).
Are their risks, and could there be adverse effects? Yes, absolutely. But there are risks with EVERYTHING. Let's not talk about the damage I am doing to myself with the amount of Diet Coke I drink in a single day, but I do it anyway (for sanity purposes). I vaccinate my children for every other preventable virus/disease, and those shots carry some risks as well. L had several surgeries, all of which carried MAJOR risks, and one of which resulted in two moderate strokes--so I do know what it's like to live with the downside to a decision.
And then there is also our history with the NICU. Where we pumped our one pound babies full of all kinds of strange drugs. They received caffeine through their IVs for weeks. They took part in a drug trial in their first and most fragile weeks of life. There were parents, somewhere in recent history, who had to agree to try animal products and risky procedures and all kinds of crazy sh--, so that the doctors who treated my babies would have options to save their lives.
I'm not saying the swine flu vaccination is going to change medical history, BUT, my personal experience tells me that medicine is evolving for the better. Doctors can more effectively diagnose and treat patients. And as a result, I have to believe the H1N1 vaccination is a positive step for modern medicine. A result of what we know, right now.
When it comes down to it, and I take a really close look at it, apart from the convincing arguments--not vaccinating goes more against what I believe and the ways I've parented, thus far. Shocker! I'm being dead serious! Even more amazing is the fact that I couldn't figure this out on my own, without the help of my husband who so kindly and patiently showed me that sometimes I can be a sucker for peer pressure.
You just have to make a choice and have faith. Because at the end of the day, I still believe the God of the universe is larger than the swine flu and it's resulting vaccine. And that my children are firmly in his hands. And that their fate and safety and general welfare are really not under my control (much as I think it is). I drive myself all kinds of crazy believing the decisions I make for them mean EVERYTHING about who they will become and the paths they will travel...and it just aint so! Thank God, because I do a pretty crappy job sometimes! He has delivered us from A LOT. All kinds of medical issues and the complications that come with them--there are horrific outcomes we have been spared, and there are disabilities that we will carry for life.
Man, do we understand that we just are not in control. And you do what you can, and what you believe is best. And you pray about it. And you have FAITH.
As you read this, please do not hear me say that you should vaccinate. Or not vaccinate. My point, seriously, is that you need to consider it in a larger context, beyond who is saying what, and how many people are doing this-that-and-the-other. Figure out what makes sense for you, and for the stance you've always taken when it comes to your kids. What do you think about regular vaccines? Do you hand-sanitize every 2 minutes? Is it rare that you ever wash your kids hands before meal times? Do you treat every fever with Tylenol or let it run it's course? Did you go through labor without drugs (CRAZY!!!) or opt for an epidural? Do you call your doctor or search the Internet for answers to medical questions?
I'm just sayin'. Those answers will tell you a heck of a lot more about your medical "beliefs" than any newscaster or school administrator or neighbor who has an opinion on the subject. And that's all I have to say about that.
I have officially left my soap box.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Because, based on today's experience with face paint/makeup, I'd have to say that hair is the #1 obstacle to smooth coverage. I had images of a mini-mime troupe, but my make-up job seems a bit lacking...due to the eye area.
Mimes have eyes, right?
I'm just saying, I don't remember seeing any visible skin on a mime. I want to know how that is possible. I may be enlisting in Mime make-up school.
Mostly because I had visions of intricate cat faces and Spiderman masks. And it became quite obvious (very quickly), that facial artwork is NOT achieved by cheap cosmetic kits. However, I now know that side-splitting laughter can be purchased in a squeezy tube for $3.
Halfway through, I realized that I should have made them the members of KISS. WHY didn't I think of that as a costume theme this year????
Little J was going to be Spiderman. Spare me the part where you tell me Spiderman's face is not white. IT'S ALL I HAD (and a mother improvises). Let's all say a small prayer RIGHT NOW that I didn't try to tint the white cream with red food coloring. So...the black eyes were about all I could manage to get on, mostly because the make-up crayons do not work so well when the face has been coated in slippery white make-up. So instead we ended up with some sort of albino Harry Potter.
I knew G would want to be a cat. I talked Little J into Spiderman/Scary Potter. L wanted big bird (WHERE to even begin with that?), but was unknowingly transformed into a clown. And Big J. He wanted to be a school bus? I tried to draw it on his cheek, but again we had that weird slippery/oily skin combo that made it impossible.
But funny. Really, REALLY funny.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I call her G, the Good witch.
And I'm not sure if I have ever told you, but I *heart* striped tights. Particularly black and white striped tights. I got a pair on a whim three years ago, and both girls have worn them religiously. Found a new pair at Target this year. Cha-ching.
I wanted to do a simple little corduroy skirt, but always seem to talk myself into adding a little flair...enter the green/yellow ruffled lining.
Here is where I tell you that skirts are SO EASY. I don't even use a pattern anymore, because basically you are sewing rectangles together and adding elastic. Adding a lining isn't really hard either, particularly if you are adding an elastic waist band. Heck, I don't even use a ruler or a tape measure anymore...I simply eyeball the fabric and cut a relatively straight line. If one side of the skirt happens to be a quarter inch higher than the other, I highly doubt the untrained eye can tell. And if you are looking that closely at my daughter's "skirt", then you have issues. Case in point--if you look closely at the picture above, the left side of the top purple layer sits higher than the right. I mean it when I say that sewing is only fun for me if perfectionism is not involved. Period.
So, this entire project...cutting, sewing, adding elastic...would have been done in less than an hour. Except. I forgot I was working with corduroy, which is a rather bulky fabric. Particularly this weight of corduroy which was very thick. I normally cut my fabric very wide, to produce a really full skirt when you cinch it up with the elastic waist band. And that works well, when you are working with lightweight cotton--but not THICK corduroy. Long story short (too late), I ended up having to take some of the original width off of the skirt...which wouldn't be so bad if all the seams and ruffles weren't already sewn together.
Instead of taking the time to rip the seams apart and start a-new....I just cut the side seams off, made the skirt the width I needed to make the waistband work, and sewed it back together. For those of you that don't sew, I know that seems logical. It is, in fact, the laziest way to fix my oversight. Again, I'm guessing you'll never be looking on the inside of my daughters skirt. And if you do...
Issues. That's all I've got to say.
This skirt makes me very happy. And G likes it too, although she likes to remind me that it is "just a skirt" when I tell her 100 times a day how cute she is. I also think that minus the striped tights, with brown boots and maybe a white or orange monogrammed shirt, this becomes a fall ensemble, so I'm thinking beyond Halloween.
Hello, my name is Sara. And I think entirely too much about children's clothing.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Officially, this combines my three largest obsessions, at the moment:
Let it be known that this is perhaps the most accurate portrait of my life, on October 21, 2009.
For the first time in a long time, I got my sewing machine out and whipped up a little something for G, which had all the makings of a GRAND SCALE disaster, but turned out okay! My model, however, is not home from school yet, so I'll post tomorrow. I would post it later tonight, but I am going to see...
And blogging, and children and sewing and candy corn are going to have to wait. Until tomorrow.
See you then.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
I was featured on the CRAFTY CROW! Woo-hoo! That blog is like the holy city of all things crafty--a great round-up of what people are doing all over the World Wide Web! It appears the Crafty Crow liked my haunted village post, and I am thrilled and all kinds of honored!
In the midst of my creative debut, I also received a couple of blog awards from one of my FAVORITE bloggers. So, I take that as kind of a big deal, because I've never won a blog award before--and this thing has become a real, living child to me, so you can only imagine my pride. I started writing this and didn't tell anyone it existed...and now people are actually reading it and **GASP** enjoying it, so I am beyond words. And Jen, at Diagnosis Urine is, one of the greatest writers of all time, so for me this is a gi-normous compliment. Did I mention she has 4 kids, ages 6, twins age 4 and 2 (almost 3). That's right. She is me! Only funnier!
And, as part of the conditions of the awards, I am to pick 6 of my favorite blogs...I am following Jen's lead here and gifting both of these to the same 6 bloggers. Drumroll, please....
Kim and Jodie at Fresh Art Photography
Amy at The Beachys
Katie at More from the Mohrs
Charla at The Balough Bunch
Kiera at Excerpts from Life
Melanie at LilyGray
Erin at Erin Duggin Photography
When choosing blogs, I realized two things. Not many of my friends update their blogs on any kind of regular basis. So, if you are on this list, it is because you make some sort of effort...and you are appreciated for it! People love what's going on. And hopefully this will encourage you to keep doing it. Because I wouldn't have a creepy, online, anonymous, 24-hour accessible, social life without you!
Secondly, I have a lot of photographer friends! And I know you guys are all professional ...but, you are still loved and admired by the lay people! Seriously, I wouldn't think you were good if you weren't also REAL with what you share...so bravo, gals. Oh, and the pictures are pretty freakin' amazing too!
And. As the last piece of business that comes along with telling you how great I am (kidding. kidding...but that's what it's beginning to feel like, I know!), I am supposed to answer this list of questions in just one word. Really hard, for a writer. I am boring in one word answers. I need sentences and punctuation to come alive, so be fore-warned.
1. Where is your cell phone? dead
2. Your hair? Transition
3. Your mother? Far…
4. Your father? …away
5. Your favorite food? sushi
6. Your dream last night? none
7. Your favorite drink? wine
8. Your dream/goal? security
9. What room are you in? family room
10. Your hobby? writingsewingcraftingsleeping
11. Your fear? Public speaking
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? skiing
13. Where were you last night? church
14. Something that you aren't? patient
15. Muffins? pumpkin
16. Wish list item? Ski chalet
17. Where did you grow up? Hawaii
18. Last thing you did? eat
19. What are you wearing? jeans
20. Your TV? Little People
21. Your pets? tired
22. Friends? Great!
23. Your life? Entertaining!
24. Your mood? motivated
25. Missing someone? yes
26. Vehicle? Minivan.
27. Something you’re not wearing? shoes
28. Your favorite store? Anthropologie
29. Your favorite color? Red
30. When was the last time you laughed? tonight
31. Last time you cried? Two weeks
32. Your best friend? Mike
33. One place that I go to over and over? Hobby Lobby
34. One person who emails me regularly? Becky
35. Favorite place to eat? Miso (or McDonalds)
Monday, October 19, 2009
We are still getting all kinds of crafty around here...and this is just a sneak peak of our extreme makeover, pumpkin edition. Meet the rest of the gang:
I saw a GREAT idea on this blog, and decided it would be an excellent way to decorate pumpkins with my kids! I am not a fan of handing my 3-year-old a rather large kitchen blade for pumpkin carving, and knew I was going to incorporate some kind of painting/felt, but then...
Living with Lindsay (the blog previously linked), showcased an idea for "Pottery Barn" style pumpkins, and I fell in love with the idea of using toothpicks to stick ears and eyes and what-nots into a pumpkin. See our butterfly eye:
In any case, these are pumpkins #275-279 that happen to be gracing our home, as of late. I might have a small pumpkin hoarding problem.
And to top it all off, word from the orthopedic surgeon is that I have a metatarsal stress fracture...or in my technical terms, a bum, slightly broken foot. And I say slightly, because I have been walking and running on it for 2 months, so don't feel too sorry for me. They didn't have to amputate or anything.
It does hurt a little. But not like recovering from a C-section. After that kind of pain, it is always a fear that one of my limbs may actually have to come detached to even signal a problem.
This not running phase is a blessing and a curse, in my expert opinion. A blessing, because I have been looking to reprioritize my life, and not running 5 days a week frees up a substantial amount of time. A curse, because it seems that candy corn, cake with frosting, and McDonalds french fries will need to be banished from my diet if I don't want to double my current body weight. I am going to need to grow some will power REAL fast.
However. I have managed to avoid wearing a "boot" in the hopes that just not running on it will be sufficient to heal it (hopeful, as I mentioned, because I can still walk without crying). Having to wear that thing would bring back MANY a flashback of having to explain how I broke a finger while TEACHING an aerobics class in college (and why I was forced to wear a rather large hand splint). True story. It feels embarrassing and genetically inferior to say that I broke something simply by running (something that millions of people manage to do, injury free, every single day).
I did cheer myself up by purchasing a white pumpkin. Definitely a deep rooted, hoarding problem.
What to do with 6 extra hours in my week. What to do, what to do, what to do.....
Sunday, October 18, 2009
How we arrived with a child lying on the side of a rural road, begins and ends with an apple orchard that includes a camel. You KNOW how we are suckers for strange and exotic animals that live in farm-type settings.
Same said orchard has a handful of kiddie rides, which are quite a hit with the 3-6 year old crowd. EVERY single one of these rides involves spinning. But, they are free with admission, so you MUST ride them no fewer than 12 times each to get your $8/child worth. FYI, this picture will be a silhouette in our home!
And the main event, apple picking. Which is AWESOME, by the way. Particularly since you are allowed to eat as many apples as humanly possible, FOR FREE! Today is the day I learned that I like eating fruit straight off the tree. It makes me feel organic.
Now to find that free field of quarter-pounders...
Second lesson learned today: I like apple cider. Which is NOT made by adding spices, as I told my children today. Something to do with fermenting, but I'd rather not think about that as a beverage I am drinking, unless of course, we are talking about moonshine (of the bathtub variety). But I like my cider COLD, and not hot, as it has always been presented to me.
Only to puke within 10 minutes of arriving back home.
I blame four things: the 20 apples Big J ate, the fermented liquid sold to my son as "cider", our germ-infested excursion to McDonalds (see here), and the constant spinning on the kiddie rides to stir it all together nice and good.
The camel was just an innocent bystander, and in no way a conduit of swine flu.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Potentially even hepatitis.
I like to call this the "natural" way to vaccinate children and produce viral anti-bodies. Not that I am against vaccinations--I am actually all for them, as polio (unlike airbrushed t-shirts) is not high on my list of things that I would like to see return. I am, however, against the time and energy and mental stamina it takes for me to drag four children to the pediatrician to get said vaccinations. That's what well visits are for.
But, despite the visible amoebas and the fact that I once witnessed a child have a blowout diaper in a McDonald's playland (the horror)...the kids had a lovely time.
I will also note, that it makes for an interesting case study to watch what young children do when presented with a life-sized Ronald McDonald statue. All behaviors witnessed were inappropriate/violent, in the 45 minutes I observed.
Not sure what this says about the generation we are raising.
Or their capacity for misplaced rage, when confronted with immobile, defenseless victims.
Or their tolerance for clowns.
Or their desire to make-out with not only anything that moves, but also, a lifeless piece of plastic (thank you, 12-year-old girls).
On a positive note, it appears children are EXTREMELY untrusting of adults dressed in costumes, in a kiddie play area (minus the 12-year-old hormonal girl incident). It seems our smear campaign against child predators dressed as friendly mascots is working.
On another side note, my google search for photos of Ronald McDonald produced a plethora of inappropriate images. It appears behaviors witnessed by 4-year-olds today definitely carry through to adulthood.
Wow. What is with the desire to abuse clowns?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Since I began this blog in November, I believe that I have come to terms with the fact that I was meant to do something creative. This little "breakthrough", as we'll call it, would have saved me from a lot of unhappiness in those years when I thought you were supposed to have a 50-hour-a-week desk job.
Granted, I was an English composition major. That MIGHT have been my first clue. But at 21, I would have never have believed that I would be able to have a career or identity doing something creative.
That just isn't what people did. Or so I thought.
Eleven years, four kids, and one blog later, I'm beginning to get it.
So head on over the Jodie's site, Fresh Art Photography...because she and her partner Kim are doing phenomenal things with a camera! And I am beyond honored that they are including a small piece of me! Thanks guys!
We are starting here, but I am also offering them to anyone out there who is interested (and happens to read my blog). $50 for an 8x10, $40 for a 5x7...all silhouettes come in a custom frame for hanging and can be made according to your color preferences! Send me an email (email@example.com) if you are interested and I'll be in touch!
Thanks for all of the encouragement and kind words, blog world! Creative Sara is breaking out of her shell and is threatening to rule the world with a framed shadow army!!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It will involve some sweating, definitely some shaking (both nerve and caffeine induced), potentially vomitting and an overall redness to my skin which will be very unnatural and extremely alarming.
Because my church is doing a pretty awesome women's event, leading up to Christmas. And I have been asked to lead a session on kid's crafts. Which makes me REALLY excited about the craft stuff, minus the fact that I have to actually speak coherently in front of people. Minor detail. But I love the idea, so I'm going to take one for the team.
Ohh! Perhaps I can just bring my laptop and blog the whole thing?
But then people might worry that I have lost my voicebox for some reason (probably smoking induced, or some strange incident involving blow darts) and that's how weird rumors get started.
So. If you are in St. Louis and would like to come see a woman spontaneously combust (do NOT wear anything flammable...the sheer temperature of my face may ignite you), PLEASE join us! It will be held on November 7th, and I do have a whole lotta ideas for keeping it crafty...really cute, easy, fun ideas. Keepable stuff, no foam stickies. I'm not anti-foam stickies (okay, maybe I sort of am), but we're going outside of the holiday aisle at Hobby Lobby for this one. My deal is only 45 minutes, but it's a whole morning's worth of fun, and includes lunch--and the other workshops sound fabulous (and potentially less dangerous). Drop me a comment if you are interested, and I will get the info to you!
And even if you can't make it, leave a comment anyway. It is going to take a lot of mental hand-holding and esteem building and general behaviors similar to infant care-taking to get me through this without a breakdown of some sort!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Leg warmers and autumn-themed madras pants.
I miss the leg warmer season every year, as I mourn summer and dress the children as if it was still pool weather. And then before you know it, we hit 35 degrees and gray (non-optimal leg-warmer-wearing weather). Despite what J. Crew says about how cool it is to wear booty shorts and wellies, you will FREEZE YOUR ASS OFF in the Midwest if you attempt those kind of shenanigans.
And in the middle of our fall fashion shoot, little bits needed in on the action.
Let's just hope this is not a sign of things to come when needing attention at the age of 16.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Apple. Stick. Caramel. Not quite.
Let's just say caramel is really thick and diva-like. I had to keep it warm and pliable on the stove top while coating the apples, which makes it NOT a kid activity. Then there is the actual coating itself, which is REALLY thick. And once you get that apple all wrapped up in its pure sugar blanket, it looks FANTASTIC....
So you put it down on the wax paper.
And then, before you know it, that perfect apple looks like it's melting.
No biggie. I mean, this was an activity intended to be made by 4-7 year olds, before we knew open flames were involved (shh).
So you decide to hide the melting effect with a few sprinkles. Which won't stick to the outer coating of the caramel, which has kind of solidified. And I say kind of, because it's still doing it's weird melting thing, which leads me to believe there is some sort of oozy magma something-or-other lurking beneath the surface.
I don't pretend to understand the enigma that is caramel.
So then you get those apples covered and you pop them in the fridge so that they can gel. And when you pull them out, an hour later to wrap them up in cute little cellophane bags, you realize they are STUCK to the wax paper. And you cannot remove them without leaving a layer of paper on the bottom.
So then, you have to run some warm water to melt the paper off.
And then, when you pat it dry, you get your cute little cellophane bags ready. And when you try to pretty it all up, it will cling to every inch of that bag with amazing power. So that the entire bag, stick, counter, you name it...will be covered in a layer of sugar stick.
Caramel apples. Let's just say this one is a wee-bit tougher than it looks.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Ladies, don't be jealous...he is ALL mine.
Tonight I had a date with one very handsome, five-year-old gentleman. Very necessary, given our Tuesday that spiraled violently out of control. Because while I feel that Big J requires a bit more, ahem, discipline these days...I also think he needs a lot more attention, in the fun-mommy sense. As a general rule with our kids, tighter reigns don't really work with out a corresponding increase in love and attention.
Which is difficult where there are three other little people running with scissors and razor scootering without helmets.
But tonight we had chicken fingers and french fries, did a little reading at Barnes & Noble, played with trains (for the third time today) and had a 15 cent ice cream cone to top it all off. And it was magical and so nice to really see my little, grown-up boy. Who told me, at the dinner table, that if poop doesn't flush down the toilet, you have to use a plunger. Classic.
And he was such a gentleman (aside from the poop banter). So cute. And polite. And excited. And minus the obnoxious energy that so obviously comes from having to fight for my attention. Crap, don't you hate it when the answer is so obvious.
I love this kid.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Haunted Village followed by dark laughter, for those of you who cannot translate scary accents in print.
It begins with the boxes I have been hoarding for weeks (to the dismay of my husband). But they actually did find a purpose!!! To make them "house-like" you'll want to cut windows into them with an X-acto knife or scissors. You are welcome to let your three-year-old do this, but I have a feeling it might end badly. With blood...which would fit in nicely with the Halloween theme.
I also used a glue gun to seal the tops of the boxes shut, before letting them go at it with paint. Because I wanted to cover the brand names/logos on the box, I opted for acrylic paint, instead of the safe, Tempra stuff. For this reason, I stripped my kids down to their undies before painting! See picture below, to understand why non-washable paint and 4-year-olds are not a good idea.
The Village! If your children do not completely cover their boxes, never fear! I feel that adds to the spooky look! I also gave them a packet of bat stickers to embellish with, and I bought one of those large spiderwebs that we cut into pieces and draped all over the houses.
The part that really brings it to life, is the Christmas lights--which set the village aglow from the inside! I fished these out of our basement (as they are sitting at the bottom of the staircase, just where we left them in January), plugged them into the wall, and went to town weaving them through the village. Here is also where I had to cut big holes in the back of the houses to loop the lights through each house (in the hole on the back, out the bottom of the box). I did a really messy job, and half this strand isn't working...but it fits with the spooky/rundown theme!
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
I will say, that I had a truly inspired idea (pre-baking), to dump all measurable ingredients into bowls that would make it easy for the kids to spoon out of. Most of you are probably on to this little trick...I am just now joining the party. On most baking adventures, I do the measuring, they do the pouring...but I decided to let them in on the action a little bit. Because I'm cool like that.
My second thought was that I would bake something yummy for the kids to take to their teachers. An October pick-me-up if you will. This is why baking a pie or an apple crisp wasn't an option...I wanted something transportable and keepable for days.
I think I learned why there are no bread recipes utilizing apples. Have a looksy:
Apparently, I love me some oil. Because these things were...interesting. In taste and texture.
Okay healthy friends! I know you're out there (I'm talking to you Beth B.)! What am I missing here? Is healthy eating an acquired taste, or is it possible to use these crazy substitutions to produce something with more taste than mulch? And, have you ever heard of baking any sort of bread with apples?
Here is where the whole project was going--we painted with apples (ya know, literally cut an apple open, slather it with paint and stamp away!), and I decided they would look great as cards! For teachers (cliche, I know)! Attached to cute bags of muffins!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Worse than Candyland. So you know it's bad.
And it's currently only 1:50 p.m., and my children have been at school for almost two hours. Which means, technically, it was just a morning of awfulness. In my opinion, that makes it even worse.
But I will tell you in all honesty, that if I could have just walked out the door, without the bus driver calling the Division of Family Services when she found them all alone in the house at noon today, I would have done it. I would have left.
And I would have breathed.
Because today, they didn't even give me a minute to catch my breath before arguing about who got what train. And who got to stand in what order at the counter as we made the WORST muffins of all time (I'll post later). And who got to pour the sugar. And then there is the general obnoxiousness that accompanies clothing changes, bathroom breaks, CANDYLAND (again), and all other household tasks and activities not listed above.
But how do you fault children for being obnoxious and a tad-bit wild, when that's sort of in their job description? I'm not talking crazy wild, more like goofy-wild. Enough to drive you crazy without warranting a punishment? I hate that gray area, and apparently my children recognize the boundaries of these behaviors as the "demilitarized" zone.
Case in point: writing their letters today. Playing teacher is NOT something I like to do. Mostly because it ends VERY badly for all involved. My strength is not in motivating my kids academically, because this is where my VERY proud alter-ego of perfectionism likes to prance itself around in a hot pink bikini. And so I like to hide that little hussy, but she is there people. Oh, is she ever.
My point in having my children practice their letters, is that I am becoming increasingly worried that the twins are lacking in this skill. I seem to remember G being able to clearly write her name at the age of 5...and with Big J & L, well, let's just say there are moments when I'm not even sure they know their name. Again, it's not a big fear of mine, but I also feel convicted to HELP them along in this area. And I emphasize "help" because after today's lesson, I'm pretty sure at least 2 of my four children will drop out of school in the 2nd grade to become circus performers.
L happily played along and wrote her A's and B's (we're not talking the entire alphabet...just a couple at a time). The circus does not look to be in her future. But Big J. That kid giggled and pretended not to be able to write a straight line. For 30 minutes straight. He lost the privilege of playing until lunchtime, and of riding to school on the school bus. And still, he giggled.
He wouldn't do it. And I wouldn't let it go.
Which wouldn't have been unmanageable, but lunchtime followed soon after our writing debacle, and on this particular day, L decided not to chew anything. No matter how close I sat, or how much I prompted. There were timeouts and spankings involved. Nothing.
Her lunch today consisted of two bites of hotdog. Which is HORRENDOUSLY hard for me to handle, as I have tracked her calorie intake for almost 5 years. And this seems like total failure.
And then Big J chimed in with the giggles and the no's when it came to eating his meal as well. And that was it. He went in the high chair, banished in the dining room. L sat at the table and sang to her hot dog. I went upstairs, cried and called my husband to take over because mentally, I was D-O-N-E.
And he came to my rescue with lunch out on the town and some calm words. We talked through a new plan, because it is obvious these little people are getting the best of me. And I've let bad behaviors slip, because they haven't been as obvious as hitting and biting and yelling and tantruming.
I wish I could have tantruming. I would LOVE a good, clean go-to-time-out tantrum.
There have been subtle, defiant behaviors. Constant giggling (not out if cuteness, trust me). Not trying (at all). Having to be asked to do something MULTIPLE times. Each incident seems innocent enough, very kid-like. So easy to write-off as general, juvenile behavior. But put together, it spells out a bigger and more troubling picture of how they are learning to work the system.
The second half of the equation is my own anxiety level and need to "perfect" them. And I am trying to find that balance (and probably will for the next 50+ years). Some things, I need to relax about...undoubtedly. I need to leave L's growing up to God--I was never in control of that anyway. I need to know where to push them, and where to rest. I need to figure out where to let them struggle a little. No answers, just general observations of areas where things need to change. But I also need to know where to break them of really harmful habits.
I'm pretty cautious not to set the bar too high. I recognize "perfectionist" Sara, and I try to gag and duct tape her up tight in my closet at all times. I know that this will ruin my children, if I let it, so I TRY my hardest not to expect too much. But then, there's the opposite--not expecting enough. Justifying bad patterns as "life" and not a deeper, more rooted issue in who they are becoming.
Tough call. I feel like I border between high-strung mommy and complacent mommy at almost every moment of my day. Obviously, I'm missing the personality that specializes in the gray area. Perhaps perfectionist mommy has her pinned in some sort of mud-wrestling competition, way deep in my psyche?
Monday, October 5, 2009
More specifically: A board game. Involving three youngsters. Who have neither the fine motor control, attention span, or personalities to handle a game which requires them to take turns, manipulate a small, plastic man, and generally be in control of their extremities.
I probably forfeited my halo when the board was kicked for the 12th time and I just couldn't remember who was on blue, green, purple and orange. Only there was slightly more irritation and edge to it than that.
Somehow, L ended up winning (again), which is amazing, considering she had to take FOUR consecutive turns out while being forced to chew the bagel she had "chipmunked" in her cheek since breakfast, an hour prior.
It could only have been made worse, if, one of the children in question had taken their milk from breakfast and poured it over the entire board. Which was completely possible, as our tally for large spills equals three today. My reaction to those, are also, a strong case against sainthood.
I am really beginning to understand why priests, nuns and the original apostles did not have children. Healing the sick? Banishing demons from the body? Fasting for world peace? Persecution? Puh-lease. Try an entire board game, with a minimum of three children (under the age of 5), without selling your soul, just to keep all the pieces within eye sight! It is spiritually impossible to be godly when being tested in faith by the all consuming moral fire (translation: board games).
If I was the devil, I would make board games for preschoolers a top priority. And then I would use some sort of capitalism/supply and demand/economic voo-doo to sell them for $1 at Target and Walmart. World domination within days, guaranteed.
I know you saved my babies from horrendous prematurity.
I know you healed my husband of cancer.
Show me that you are bigger than Candyland.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
It is the small miracles that remind me, there is indeed a God. Who watches over the millions of exposed outlets/toddlers throughout the world.
Yes, I HAVE heard of outlet covers.
In our household, those are known as child magnets. And I say this, because the little people spend infinite amounts of time trying to pry those plastic covers out of the sockets. Which means their bare fingers are dangerously close to live electricity for many minutes at a time, versus the random moments they choose to dangle cars from them.
We aren't there yet, but I am pretty sure the purchase of bunk beds will also confirm my belief in the Lord Almighty.
Oh, and Razor scooters. Those things are death on very narrow wheels.
With four children, in seven years, we have only had ONE stitch. Just one. On Big J, when he fell from my parent's couch and hit his very thin eye skin on their coffee table. And ONE stitch later, he was good as new.
And we haven't sworn off coffee tables. Yet.
I grew up living in fear of a lot of things. Being hurt was at the top of the list, for sure--and it's taken a good 12 years for my husband to gently teach me that being hurt isn't always the worst thing in the world. This coming from a man who made trips to the ER annually in his youth. For things like soccer tether spikes in the leg, and mangled jaw skin.
He is still crazy. And ER worthy.
But also a very good example. A reminder that my children HAVE TO fall, in order to pick themselves back up. They have to get hurt (a little) to realize that's not always the worst thing. They have to trust in someone besides me for their protection.
They have to get over their fears and live outside of their comfort zones. Not carelessly, but in faith.
Here's wishing you all a little faith this week!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Here is the project I began when my parents came to visit. The project I had NO BUSINESS starting, as it was September and my house has been a mess for 6 years. And I will say that this was WAY bigger than me, as I have lately been empowered to just "wing it" when it comes to sewing, and so I figured I would throw it together without a pattern.
Which is awesome, except for the fact that I have never sewn anything resembling a shell bikini or a large fish tail.
My first guess on size (determined by "eyeballing" how big I though G was), was almost a disaster, as this top fits PERFECTLY. Let's just say she is allowed to eat, and grow (slightly) and breathe. But not at the same time.
I need to stitch the left side ruffle up some to even it out, but overall, I am happy with the results. Here was my inspiration (Chasing Fireflies, $78), so you can judge me on accuracy:
This is the one and ONLY costume I am making this year. After the Thomas the Train debacle of 2008, I swore I would never make a costume again. Ha. I just am not all that crazy about my 7-year-old being Hannah Montana or Garbriella from High School Musical. Or the hyena from Lion King (true request). And I dislike them, not because I have a problem with any of these shows...but because they aren't CUTE! I mean, little girl, fairy princess, I-believe-in-magic CUTE! I only have so long before she wants to throw on a mini skirt and thigh-high boots, and be some version of a sexy kitten/nurse/go-go dancer. So I'll take mermaid while I can.
L, on the other hand is going as Big Bird. Which, I realize, isn't "girly" cute, but it is soooooo L. My little L who is unbelievably attached to a soft bowling pin, shaped like a kitty. If I could figure out how to make THAT as her costume (without the tapered bottom threatening to topple her), I would. Anyway, she is also incredibly stuck on Big Bird, as it is the only movie she ever cares to watch....so Big Bird it is.
Photos to come (after Halloween) of the Big Bird and the mermaid. Stay tuned.
Oh. And in case you are wondering who would win in a battle between a garden toad and a praying mantis....well, I'd call it even. Frizzle attacked the praying mantis MY HUSBAND threw into his habitat, only to spit him out when it was obvious he would be unable to swallow an insect twice his body length. They are now sitting peacefully at opposite ends of the tank.
Just in case this kept you up at night.