Friday, December 26, 2008


The other night I dreamed that I had another baby. It was a girl with straight blond hair.
Is this an omen, or was that Kit Kittredge in my dream?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

One of Those Moms

Since Daniel's parents now live in the same area as us, and my parents still live in the same area, our kids were blessed with an overabundance of Christmas presents this year. Really I mean too many presents. I now realize that I could have just bought nothing, and they still would have had too many gifts between Grandma, Nana, and Santa.

So, we have decided to break up all the present-opening festivities by starting Christmas yesterday. The kids got about a quarter of their gifts yesterday, and they're actually very happy with that. But we still have lots to go.

One of the gifts that Abby opened up last night is Kit Kittredge, an American Girl doll. Now, some of my family already knows how badly I wanted one of these dolls when I was little. I would carry around the catalog, look through it all day, and dream about having my own American Girl doll with all the accessories. However, they are somewhat expensive, and I never got one.

Don't you see how cute she is? Anyway, now that Abby has one, I find myself wanting to hold the doll, fix her hair, help change her clothes... I really, really like this doll. Every time Abby plays with the doll, I watch to make sure she's careful. If Avery grabs the doll, I tell him no and take it away. I think I'm obsessed with this doll, guys.

The problem is, when my cousin was younger she had expensive dolls. Her mom kept them in her closet, up on a really high shelf, or in a box. My cousin was not even allowed to play with these dolls, because they were so "special." My mom always thought that was wrong, and commented on it to me a lot. I agreed at the time - that was weird.

But... Now I feel like I'm starting to become one of those moms. You know, like I'm compensating for my lack of an American Girl doll by over-protecting this one. I even suggested that we keep poor Kit Kittredge in her little doll casket (Daniel's words for the box she came in), and put her in the closet until Abby is older. After all, Abby didn't really like the doll that much until she saw how much I like the doll.

Now I'm fighting my urges and actually letting her have the doll in her room. She's still in the box, under the pretense that "the boys might ruin her." Abby has already changed Kit's clothes once, dressing her in a more Christmas-y outfit. I already had to re-fix her hair.

*sigh* Having a daughter is a great way to get all the toys you once wanted but never got, but it's so hard to remember that these are her toys, not yours.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A Brief History of Daniel and Sara

Okay, since many people do not know the whole story of Daniel and Sara, here is the quick version:

We met on the Internet, in the Yahoo! teen chat room called Grovespace. This was before eHarmony and, and we weren't even looking for romance. We were just two 17 year olds chatting in a chat room about deep things such as music, life, and probably how oppressive our parents were or something.

We chatted for a while, and then started talking on the phone, writing letters (the old fashioned way to communicate), and eventually Daniel bought a plane ticket and flew to New Mexico to meet me in person. I wasn't an old man, he wasn't a stalker, and we really were who we said we were. It was great, and we decided at that point that we did, in fact, love each other.

Next, he flew home and we kept up the long-distance thing. I visited him in Louisiana, and then he flew to Ohio to visit me at my college. During that trip, we figured, "why not just get married?" And so we did.

We found a minister that would marry us the next day, bought a marriage license, stopped for a drink at McDonald's, and got married. The ceremony was in the minister's basement, which was decorated nicely for Christmas. We forgot the rings in the car, and Daniel had to go get them in the middle of the ceremony. I was wearing a grey sweater and jeans. We didn't know we had to pay the minister, so he gave us a discounted rate. I know it sounds awful, but it was really the best day of my life.

Daniel and I moved a lot during our first five years of marriage. Every time a lease was up on the apartment we were living in at the time, we would move to a new city. Oh, the things you can get away with when you have no children! We lived in at least 7 different apartments/ houses that I can remember before we found out in February 2003 that we were expecting Abigail Horizon. Our favorite was when we lived in the "big city" - Columbus, Ohio.

Right before we had Abby, we moved to an apartment in the Dayton area and actually renewed our lease after a year. This is something we'd never done before - parenting was really changing us. We celebrated our 5th anniversary 3 months after Abby was born. We were a happy family of three for 15 months, and then found out we were having an Avery Ellis. We decided to buy a house at that point, and that's where we live to this day.

We were a happy family of 4, living in our own house, and driving a mid-sized sedan. We then found out we were expecting Ethan James. So, we brought him home to a our house-made-for-four and our car-made-for-three, and realized we needed more room. Too bad. We're still in the same house, but now have a minivan.

So, we are still writing the story of Daniel and Sara, but that is the background behind the ten years that we've been married.

The Importance of December 21.

Ten years ago yesterday (December 21) was a big day. A huge day, actually. That's when Daniel and Sara became Daniel and Sara.

Well, unfortunately, I don't feel like we actually celebrated our 10th anniversary. Yes, we ate out twice. But still, is that really an adequate way to celebrate the fact that we have been married for 10 years, and are still happy?

What I would have liked to do is a lot different from anything we could have really done. We do have three small children, after all. I would have loved to make the day a huge production. Renew our vows, take a trip away with just the two of us, fly to Europe - whatever. But we can't afford any of those things, and we would have arrange for childcare for the kids, etc. So, we ate out for lunch and dinner, and then went home.

I know, some people who have been married for more than 10 years probably think, "what's the big deal? It's just 10 years." But really, according to everyone else in the world, Daniel and I had everything going against us when we married in 1998. We were teenagers, we met on the Internet (more about that in another post), we hadn't finished college, we had no money, we had only known each other for a year, we had no plans other than being together... The list goes on and on. But, we made it 10 years. If I put 10 years into something, I plan on sticking with it to the end. Hence the reason I'm overloading myself with college classes lately - I've been doing that for 10 years, too.

So, December 21, 2008 was the day that Daniel and Sara have been together for 10 years. No family members told us "Happy Anniversary" (that I recall), no gifts were exchanged, no vows were renewed. but you know what? At least I was with Daniel yesterday and I know I'll be with him today and tomorrow and the rest of the days that we have. I no longer have that dread that comes when you realize that, eventually, one of you will have to go home. Now home is Daniel and Sara.

Thank you, Daniel, for 10 nice years. Okay, they were actually 10 awesome years. I love you.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Out of Hand

So, I did decide to send Abby to a private school for Kindergarten, after all. I paid the (what I consider) big bucks, and paid the fee for books and the fee for school supplies and bought the uniforms, etc.

Guess what? I'm not done shelling out cash to this school. Abby has at least two types of fundraisers a month - and what parent wants their kid to be the only one in the class that doesn't have any funds raised?? She has had school pictures that cost a small fortune, she has had class parties that I have to "donate supplies" to. A letter was sent home last week requesting paper towels, on top of the treasure chest prizes I donated and the wrapped candy I also donated.

This certainly isn't the first time I've complained about this, and I doubt it will be the last. But really, why do we pay tuition and then have to pay, pay, and pay again? I'm sure this would be the same for public schools, right? Except you don't have to pay for the actual schooling part. Oh well. This was my choice, to send her to a private school. I'd better quit complaining.

But guess what? It turns out that just having kids cost money! I know, right? Well, it's Christmas time here (and probably elsewhere), and of course I'm buying presents for the kids. It seems that when kids get to age 5 or so, they start to realize that their friends have things that they do not have. And what do you think they do? They ask for those same things, of course! Or if that doesn't work, then they beg or cry or throw a tantrum. It really depends on the kid.

Since I really am not into buying everything my kids ask for (unless I find a good enough bargain!), I'm now thinking about how to get them to understand this. I guess there are many different ways to go about this. Some parents just drive all over town and spend excessive amounts of money to get everything on their kid's Christmas list. Other parents try to compensate for the amount of presents with fewer but better quality or more meaningful gifts. Some parents do the three wisemen type gifts - one material/expensive, one spiritual, and one for the body.

I've also heard stories where the parents go ahead and buy what the kids want, but first they have the kids go through their rooms and fill a big box with old toys to donate to needy children. This is a good idea, but what happens when they start to fill up the box with toys that you stood in line for an hour to get, got up at 5 am on Black Friday to find, or paid a fortune for? What if the toy just has some sort of sentimental value to you, but not to your kid? Then how do you teach them give to others before they receive from you?

Sometimes it can be really hard to part with material possessions, money, or time. But we all make these sacrifices for our kids anyway, don't we? The question is, do we teach them that this is the most important part of Christmas, or do we send out other Christmas vibes to our kids?

After all, can you imagine a 5 year old Jesus begging his mom for more frankincense for Christmas? **

**Yes, I know Christmas was not celebrated then...**

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Kids Need Grandparents

So I can get a break! Just kidding....

Now, I know lots of kids do not have grandparents. I don't want to upset anyone who is in that situation. However, since Daniel and I had kids at a fairly young age, our kids almost have too many grandparents. Lately I've been realizing how nice it is to have them around.

My kids have a Nana, 3 Grandmas, a Mamaw, a Grandpa, and a Hairy Grandpa (he's the one that's not bald). Three of those grandparents are great grandparents.

Well, earlier this week Avery spent the night at his Grandma's house. She took him to Chick-Fil-A, the library, and Target. She bought him one of those spinning light/snowglobe/thingies that I refuse to waste money on. She let him run around Chick-Fil-A's playground - which I would never do if Chick-Fil-A wasn't so darn yummy. She even let him in a library. That I do not do, because Avery is still at the too loud-too hyper-too much of a pain stage. Plus, he tends to tear up books that we do not already own.

Then today my mom and I took the kids to Big Lots. She is much, much more lenient about letting the kids freely roam the toy aisles than I am. She is also much, much more likely to buy them stuff than I am.

So, there's one reason kids need grandparents. To let them do things they normally do not get the chance to do, even if it is only because they have a little brother just 1 year younger and a sister just 2 years older and that's too much for Mommy to handle in public. *phew* What a long sentence!

Another reason is to buy them things. I'm kidding, of course, but I sure do appreciate it when Grandma or Nana shows up with new jammies or jeans or sweaters for the kids. I also happen to know that the kids appreciate the toys that Nanas and Grandmas buy them.

But really, I think the main reason that kids need grandparents is just to have someone other than their parents that loves them and lets them hang around their house a lot. For some reason, this is just immensely fun to my kids. Any trip to Nana's house or Grandma's house is the greatest thing ever. Even if it's just to drop something off for a few seconds. Also, every toy at Nana and Grandma's house is better than the toys at our house. Even if they're the exact same toy.

There are lots of other reasons that my kids love their grandparents. Nana has about a million pens and innumerable scrap papers on which to write and draw. Grandma always has hard candy stashed away in her pantry, and she gives the kids soda (which they are not allowed to have). Another Grandma has stairs that are fun to climb up and slide down. Mamaw has a real cat and a dog statue.

Whatever the reason, grandparents are great!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Killing Time

Well, I have a 12-15 page paper due in 2 days. I guess I should be writing it, but instead I am searching the Children's Book of the Month Club for Christmas presents.

Everytime I search for books, I tend to forget the names of the authors that my kids like. There are certain books that have become classics in our house, and we (especially me) tend to like most of the books that author writes. You know, like all those "If You Give A ______ A _______" books? All very nearly the same book, but funny every time!

But, since I am now writing this post and no longer searching for books, my memory has returned. So I would like to share some of these "classics" with you:

  • Olivia by Ian Falconer
If you ever wondered what Abby is like at home, read this book. The whole story is eerily similar to Abby's life. We especially like the ending.

  • If You Give A Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
All of Numeroff's books are hilarious. Apparently, having a mouse in your house eating all your cookies is not always a bad thing. My kids particularly like his underpants.

  • Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book? by Lauren Child
The first time Daniel read this book to Abby, he told me, "you have to read this!" It's a very funny almost re-telling of classic fairy tales. I really like the upside down parts.

  • Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Never, ever let the pigeon drive the bus. He'll beg and try to trick you into it, but remember - no, not even your mom would let him.

  • My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems
An elephant, a piggie. Best friends. But what happens if one of them is sad? My kids like to act this one out, and we have a couple videos of them doing just that. Be prepared to act like a cowboy and a robot when you read this one.

  • No, David! by David Shannon
It may as well be called, "No, Avery!" Ethan can now read this book, even though he is only 23 months old. It's that good of a book.

These are probably the most read books in our house, although you can substitute practically any other book by these authors, and still have a great book in your hands. For example, Mo Willem's "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog," Laura Numeroff's "If You Give a Moose a Muffin," or Ian Falconer's "Olivia Saves Christmas". Basically, the thing to do is remember the author's names, not necessarily the book titles.

Even though we especially love these authors, we're always looking for new finds. Does anyone have their own "classics" list? Leave it in the comments section if so - I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Little Too Far?

So, maybe no one noticed, but I've been quite silent lately. No posts since the week before Thanksgiving. Well, I'd like to think AT&T wireless DSL for that. And busy-ness, not to be confused with business - I do not make money being busy.

Anyway, I decided to come back to my dear blog today. I first checked my e-mail, and found this:

Ummm... Okay. Apparently, this commercial has become quite controversial, and even considered offensive to many mothers who wear their babies. I myself wore Ethan in a sling (and still do every now & then), but I never needed the Motrin. The commercial has been taken off the air, by the way.

What do you think? Is this anger directed towards Motrin unfounded? Is it simply some babywearing mommas overreacting? Or is it really worth the grumbles it has caused?

If you wear your own baby (or did), do you find this commercial offensive? After all, why did you chose to use a sling? Some do it for convenience, some do it for the bonding, some do it for health reasons... But is it really something that should be used to sell pain medication?

What about these lines from the commercial:

"Babywearing seems to be in fashion."
"Supposedly it's a bonding experience."
"Babies worn close to the bod tend to cry less than others."

Interesting, don't you think?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Funny Fridays - Conversations With Avery

I've had many funny conversations with Avery lately. He seems to be going through an identity crisis...

Today at the grocery store, he started thinking out loud. "I wish I was Diego," he said. But apparently, he just wants to be Diego so Abby can be Alisha.

A few days ago he started asking me about growing up:

Avery: "Mommy, when I grow up, will I be big?"

: "Yup."

: "Mommy, when I'm a growed-up, can I drive a car?"

: "You sure can."

: "Can I drive your van?"

: "Well, I hope to have a new vehicle by then..."

: "Mommy, when I grow up, can I have mine own car?"

: "Probably. What kind of car would you like when you grow up?"

: "I'm going to have a green and yellow car. A hot car." (He means he wants flames
painted on the side)

: "Sounds interesting. What kind of job are you going to have when you grow up?"

: "I'm going to fix things. Like my hot car."

At least he has goals.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving Countdown - 8 Days to Go

I used to be a vegetable purest. I did not like my vegetables in a casserole, in buttery sauce, or mixed together. For Thanksgiving, I thought green beans were enough. I did not see the sense in adding cream of mushroom soup and those hard fake onion thingies.

But, one day I decided to take a vegetable side dish to a church potluck. For some reason, plain veggies just didn't seem good enough anymore. I looked around and finally found a veggie casserole dish that sounded good, and I made it. Let me tell you, corn is one versatile vegetable. Apparently, it's good plain, buttered, on a cob, and delicious in a casserole.


Yum-Yummy Corn Casserole


  • 1 can of corn, do not drain
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 large eggs
  1. Beat eggs in medium bowl.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Pour into sprayed or buttered casserole dish (9x9 or 2 quart).
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

Wasn't that easy? If you're making this for a crowd, you'll want to double it at least. Use 5 eggs for doubling.

Guess what? Corn is also good as a bread. Here's my favorite cornbread recipe, even though it's not exactly your typical Thanksgiving item. I like my cornbread sweet, so here you go:

Golden Sweet Cornbread
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan (but I like to use a mini muffin pan).
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes (9-11 minutes for mini muffins), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


You might not be able to tell in the picture, but this is the walnut tree in our backyard. More specifically, it is the walnut tree in our backyard that also serves as a raccoon condo and a squirrel refrigerator. Do you see that big hole in the tree? Do you see how it's filled with nuts?

The squirrels and trees aren't the only thing nutty around here. There's also the issue of Ethan. Not only is he really developing his cute little personality and occasionally breaking into a dance at Abby's class party (as seen here:)

He is now at the phase where he can arch his back and turn completely limp at the same time. This happens whenever I try to make him go somewhere he does not want to go. Into the carseat, away from a water fountain, out of the cabinets - anything is fair game for limp-boy.

So what new tricks are your kids up to?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanksgiving Countdown - 10 Days to Go

Do you have an abundance of those little wooden spoons that come in the tuna salad kits, too? Try this craft to use them up and create a cute napkin ring for each guest at your Thanksgiving table. You can also have your kids write each guest’s name on the turkeys. I recommend one letter on each turkey feather, if you have guests with short names.



Flat wooden craft spoons

Tempera or acrylic paints

Paper towel tube


Orange pipe cleaners

Black marker

Tacky glue

Red felt

Time needed: Under 1 Hour
1. Five craft spoons are required for each ring. Using tempera paint, color one of them yellow for the turkey's head, the others, a variety of colors (they'll be used for tail feathers).

2. For the turkey's body, cut a 2-inch section from a cardboard paper towel tube and paint it brown.

3. From orange pipe cleaners, shape a pair of short legs with three-toed turkey feet. Fit the legs through small holes in the cardboard tube, bending the tips inside the tube to secure them.

4. Use a marker to draw eyes on the face and use tacky glue to attach a red felt wattle.

5. Finally, glue the head to the front of the body and the tail feathers to the back.

Family Fun

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Countdown - 14 Days to Go

What do you think of first when you think of Thanksgiving? Yeah, me too - food! I especially tend to think about desserts. I love pumpkin flavored desserts, and here's a recipe I got today from my Pampered Chef lady with pumpkin and gingerbread in it. What could be more appropriate for Thanksgiving, besides adding turkey? (just kidding!)


Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle Recipe

2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix

1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix

1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon

1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping

1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional

Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.


My mother-in-law taught me recently that trifles are a wonderful thing to let kids make. The dessert already looks sloppy anyway, so your kids can just have fun. Crumbling up the cake is especially entertaining to my kids.

Remember to check out my other blog - I've posted tips for Thanksgiving menu planning over there.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thanksgiving Countdown - 15 Days to Go ** Updated**

Today I'm starting a new series, "Thanksgiving Countdown"! I looked at the calendar yesterday and realized that Thanksgiving is in two weeks. I did not know this. So, even though my Thanksgiving plans are not yet finalized, I'm sure some of you are further along than me. You might even be having family over for Thanksgiving. To your house. Yeah, you might want to get it ready.

So for the next 15 days on this blog I will be giving you Thanksgiving projects to consider. Crafts, recipes, decorations, and the like. If you need ideas, stop by my blog and see what I have to offer. I might even try a few of these myself.

On my other blog, Worth More Than Rubies (yes, I have another blog, and yes I just launched it today), I will be giving you tips to get your home company-ready. You know, cleaning and stuff?

To get us started, I thought it might be nice to create some kind of thing that helps kids and adults understand what this Thanksgiving holiday is all about, and help everyone be a little more thankful by the time November 27 rolls around.

I found this cute and easy Thankful Tree craft from Family Fun, and I hope to make this today with my kids.

Thankful Tree


Small tree branch
Pebbles, rocks, or marbles
Card stock or colored paper
Hole punch
Twine or string
Clear holiday lights (optional)

Time needed: Under 1 Hour

1. To make the tree, insert a branch in a flowerpot filled with pebbles, rocks, or marbles. Cut leaf shapes from card stock or colored paper, use a hole punch to make a hole in each, and attach a loop of twine or string.

Step 2 - Thankful Tree
At your gathering, have guests jot down a note of thanks on a leaf and hang it from the tree. I plan to also have each member of our family write down one thing they're thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving, and hang it on the tree.

Have fun! And please stop by my other blog. I'm having a grand-opening launch this week, and there will be a giveaway!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Embarrassingly Easy Recipe

I had a bunch of apples that the kids had picked at the apple orchard, so I was trying to think of a quick and easy way to use them as a side dish for dinner. I had about 15 minutes before dinner was ready, and I started to search online. Here's what I ended up making, and it is absolutely delicious! I modified a recipe that I found on the American Heart Association's website, so it must be somewhat healthy, right?

Microwave Baked Apple Slices
serves 4, as a side dish


Vegetable oil spray
2 unpeeled apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges (I've used Granny Smith and Macintosh)*
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon light tub margarine
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cooking Instructions

Lightly spray a 9-inch glass baking dish with vegetable oil spray. Arrange the apples in the dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes, or until stabbed easily with a fork. Remove from the microwave.

Add the remaining ingredients, and simply stir until the margarine melts.

*The photo above shows peeled apples, but they are good either way.

Delicious, I tell you! Make sure you pour some of the sauce from the bottom of the dish onto the apples before you serve them. These would also go great with some vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce for dinner. You could also add raisins to the recipe.

Oh Yeah... Halloween

I guess I overlooked showing off my kid's cute "Little Red Riding Hood" themed costumes. I've always wanted to costume them all around a theme, and this year Daniel let me :o)

Behold, my costumed cuties, and our version of Little Red Riding Hood:

Little Red Riding Hood was walking through the subdivision, collecting candy for her grandmother (yeah right).

Along came a big bad wolf, who decided to eat Little Red Riding Hood because she was full of candy.

Suddenly, a very lazy woodcutter came along to save Little Red Riding Hood.

He shouted, "Leave her alone!"

The wolf said, "Whatever!" and left. He realized that candy tastes better when it is not already inside a little girl, anyway.

The day was saved. Now let's eat some candy!

Monday, November 10, 2008


It looks like I took an unplanned week's vacation from blogging. But really, last week was busy. Very, very busy. We had sicknesses to deal with, voting, parent-teacher conferences, friends over, dinners at Grandma's, days off, papers to write, and Christmas shopping to do. So, I apologize for the unexpected silence (cause I rarely am, if you ask Daniel).

However, now that Abby, Ethan, and I have just cleaned up the house a little, I'm back. Why is it so cute to see your kids help you clean? Is it because they rarely do that? Is it because it actually forces you to clean other areas of your house just to give them something to do? I don't know for sure, but I really enjoyed cleaning the kitchen and putting away the groceries with the kids today (Avery was napping).

Now Ethan is happily sitting in a basket of laundry, playing with a cartridge, and the laundry is getting done! If only we could all have our kids with us at work. It might take a lot longer, but at least we would have more fun.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reasons You Know Your Kids are Growing Up #312

Reason #312 that I know Avery is growing up - he doesn't need my help peeling a banana anymore.

Soapbox of the Week - Halloween

Guess what? I take my kids trick or treating every year! I know, I know - it's the "devil's holiday". It's a Wiccan playground, etcetera etcetera. Well, our family is a Christian family, but we still celebrate Halloween.


Why not, really? After all, my kids do like candy, and so do Daniel and I. My kids like to dress up. My kids love riding around the neighborhood in a wagon, huddled together under a big blanket. We love meeting all our neighbors. We love the family time involved. So what's the big deal?

There has been a lot of debate over the origin of nearly every holiday we celebrate in this country. Halloween may have been a Druid holiday, but now it has just become a corporate-created marketing strategy. Just like Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter. Can't we just be good Americans and celebrate the holiday innocently and with good intentions?

Another thing - if Christians really do think that Halloween is evil, doesn't that just offer one more reason why we should be out there to be a beam of light to those dwelling in the darkness of an "evil celebration"? We are not of this world, but we certainly are in this world. I'm not saying that everyone should be handing out Christian tracts instead of candy, but what does it hurt to give out candy and a smile?

There are so many stories out there about people who bought coffee for the person in line behind them at Starbucks, and it really changed the person's life. Starbucks isn't a Christian company - but this form of giving is okay. Really, who are we to say that we shouldn't give to those who celebrate Halloween? If you don't want to dress up and go out trick or treating, that's fine. But don't look down on those who do. There's also no reason why you can't give out candy at your house.

Seriously, Halloween has become a commercially-driven holiday for kids. Can't we just let them enjoy an excuse to stay up late eating candy in a Cinderella dress?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let's Talk About Hair.

As you can see, Abby has curly hair. I also had curly hair as a child, but more of the frizzy variety than the ringlet variety that Abby has. Now, if any of you reading this has curly hair, you know that it is just not the same hair that everyone else has. Those shampoos for thick/thin/volumizing/frizz control/oil are not for curly hair. Actually, those curl taming shampoos aren't even for curly hair. And why is it, that we need to "tame", "smooth", or "control" curly hair?

As for getting a haircut, you can't even just go to any stylish you chose if you have curly hair. There are those stylists who like to wet your hair, cut it, and then blow dry it into an afro. Don't let them touch your hair, unless that's the look you're going for. There are those stylish who like to cut your hair in layers - or worse yet - use one of those straight-edge razor thingies on your hair. Never, ever let them cut your hair. The truth is, curly hair can only be managed by other people with curly hair.

Even brushing curly hair takes talent and know-how. You can't just run the brush through the hair, unless you want a static-y, frizzy mess. You have to be skilled in the brush and smooth technique, which to my knowledge, has never been understood by those who have straight hair. I hope you have good hand to hand coordination for this one.

So, if you have curly hair, don't despair. Get ready for some curl prejudice, envy, and protection. Throw away your round brush. It will get tangled in your hair, and you will have to cut off half of it. Forget specialized shampoo. Never buy a hairdryer. And scope out the hairstylists in your town until you find one with curly hair. That is not frizzy.

Good luck, curlies!

P.S. If you've recently found yourself blessed with a curly headed child, Johnson's Baby Lotion does wonders for "taming" and defining curls. It doesn't make curly hair greasy, and it smells wonderful. Give it a try.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pumpkin Time, Again.

Yup, it's pumpkin patch time again. Here are some pictures of this past weekend's excursion:

Too bad it was so cold that the kids had to have hoods on that obscured their faces... But Ethan loved pulling a wagon around, and managed to find the perfect pumpkin to make the wagon useful.

Avery is just not into smiling for pictures anymore. They all end up with a funny face, so this is the best I could get.

Of course I wasn't trying to get a three-kid picture again... But don't they look like they're enjoying it?

And I call this "Amish Boy Wannabe".

My Pumpkin surrounded by pumpkins.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Sad

You know, I think there's a point in every kid's life when they realize what about them is different from other people. Like when a girl realizes that she is unusually tall compared to other girls she knows, or realizes that her mother works and her father stays home even though no one else seems to do that. As anyone who has ever worked in an office or attended a college class knows, "It's these differences that make us each special." We should "celebrate these differences." Whatever. Try telling that to a ten year old girl who is already a B cup, has braces, and just started her period two days ago. (It's probably the milk!)

The truth is, I want my kids to be special and be their own person, but I also don't want them to be the weird kids. One of my goals as a parent - and stop me if I've said this 2 million times - is to make sure my kids are normal. That doesn't mean they have to conform to what everyone else is doing. That doesn't mean they can't excel in anything. That doesn't even mean that they can't be activists or conservatives, or whatever label you want to use. I simply mean that I want them to be kids while they are kids. I want my daughter to be a little girl before she's a preteen/teen/adult. I want my baby boys to be babies before they are men.

As for fashion, I don't know where I'll stand when this becomes an issue in my home. I was always the one who wore the "odd" clothing in my group. Of course, in the early nineties that just meant wearing gaudy rings on each finger, vintage shirts, and and Converse One-Stars. I'm sort of for dressing how you like, but really, do I want my little Ethan to one day be a goth wearing a hundred safety pins in his pants? No, not really. Clothing is still a grey area for me. Ask me again when I have teenagers.

Anyway, back to my original point. At some time their lives, kids realize that they are different in certain ways. I just always thought that was closer to puberty.

Today I asked Avery why he had an accident, and he responded, "I'm just different. I have yellow hair and no one else does."

My response? "What??"

Then he explained. "Ethan looks a little bit 'Cadun'."

I'm guessing he meant "Cajun," but who the heck told him this? Daniel is from Louisiana, so the term Cajun is not foreign to my kids, but I know I didn't tell him this. In fact, I always thought it was neat that Avery has blonde hair and no one else in our house does. I don't think I like for him to feel different because of it. I've dealt with the mailman jokes and questions about which kids were really "ours" for 3 years now, but this is new.

So now I'm reconsidering my stance on kids being different. Is it good or bad? Is it always just one or the other? If not, then when is it okay to be different?

Since my little Avery is so wise today, I think I'll just sit back and let him decide for now. But when he needs my opinion on combat boots and safety pin pants, I'm ready.

Monday, October 20, 2008

You Know You Should Cook at Home More Often When...

Your 2 year old can name the fast food restaurants by their signs. Of course, now that Avery is 3, he's developed a whole new name for each of the restaurants. There's "Burger Wing," "Tim Hor-Hee's" (Tim Horton's), and "Barbie's" (you might think it's Arby's, but really that's what Avery calls the redhead on the Wendy's sign).

Abby, on the other hand, learned the stores first by their signs. That's my little shopper. She knew Target and Meijer at age 2, but for some reason she has called Kroger "Jo-Ann's" for the past year. Avery's favorite store is "Load's". You know, the place with all the lumber and home-improvement stuff?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Soapbox For the Week - Milk

Lately I've decided to buy only hormone-free milk, otherwise known as rBST-free milk. Daniel "snickered" at me (in a manly way) when I told him, but I do it anyway. Why? Because of pus and puberty.

First, the pus issue. As Beth over at The Natural Mommy so graciously pointed out, milk from cows who were given hormones causes them to produce pus, which is then introduced into their milk supply. That's right. You drink pus. You can read the whole article here, but I'll tell it to you in a nutshell, because I believe every word.

You see, some cows are given a hormone called Posilac, which causes them to produce milk for a longer time than normal. Cows normally only lactate while pregnant or nursing their newborn calves, but this hormone forces them to lactate indefinitely. If you ever breastfed your own kids, you can probably imagine how this practise would cause problems such as mastitis. Well, along with mastitis comes pus. That pus is pumped out of the cows along with the milk, and ends up in the white plastic jugs in the grocery store's dairy case. Yum.

Another problem has to do with puberty rates increasing among girls. Apparently, girls are starting to grow breasts, pubic hair, and start menstruation a lot earlier than they should, and a lot earlier than girls did in the past. Studies have even found that 8 year old girls have started menstruating, and 3 year old girls have grown breasts or pubic hair. Now the numbers of such cases are still quite small, but really, do you want to risk that for your daughter? The article is here - I highly suggest reading it. You can also check out books such as The Body Project, by Joan Jacobs Brumberg, or My Year of Meats, by Ruth Ozeki .

So, what can you really do about hormone-filled milk? For starters, stop buying it. If you have a Meijer's nearby, check out their milk labels. They sell only hormone-free milk. For the past month or so, this is the only place I've bought milk, regardless of price. Today I heard that Kroger also sells only hormone-free milk (not confirmed), and Walmart does too (as of September). Since Walmart has signed on, you should be able to get a gallon of hormone-free milk in practically any city in the US. It's also more possible to comparison shop, without worrying about who has hormones and who doesn't - as long as you comparison shop among Meijer, Kroger, and Walmart.

Another option is to buy only organic milk. I haven't yet felt the push to switch to entirely organic, or even mostly organic foods in our home, but it is an option. Certified organic milk must be hormone-free, so you know as long as the label says "certified organic," it will be safer for your family.

Now, I'll step off my soapbox for this week, but come back next week for my stand against dirty fruit.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

It's Avery, Again - Sleeping Angel

I'm reposting this picture of Avery asleep on the arm of our sofa, in an attempt to win a free bedroom set for Abby. Makes no sense, I'm sure, but here it is:

Now doesn't that just scream, "give my sister a new bedroom set, so I can get a good night's sleep!"?

Here's a picture of what I'm hoping to win:

It's the Lilly Rose bedroom set, from Home & Bedroom Furniture. The Sleeping Angel contest is being hosted by 5 Minutes For Mom. Now tell me he doesn't look like a sleeping angel in this picture.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

A Wonder Toy

Ahh, Pixos.... If you don't know what that is, let me explain. They are this great new toy that is the modern version of those little pain-in-the-neck beads that you probably had as a kid. You know, the kind you place on little peg boards in shapes, cover with a piece of waxed paper, and iron together? Well, now kids have Pixos, which require no iron - just water - to hold them together.

The toy is really fun to my kids, even though it breaks my back to bend over the things too long, and it is very tedious to me. The toy is fun! And safe! And easy to do! (those are all words from the manufacterer's website) And perfect for sticking up a child's nose! (that one is my own)

Yes, we spent the entire morning yesterday trying to get a Pixos bead out of Avery's nose. And, to top it all off, our pediatrician's office was having phone troubles, so I couldn't call them for advice. I called my mom, my mother-in-law, and the pharmacist for advice, but nothing seemed to be working. For future reference, CVS is a great place to get free toothpaste and KY Jelly, but NOT a good place to call when there is a slowly disolving Pixos bead stuck in your 3 year old's nose.

So, here is a short list of what does not work when trying to remove Pixos beads from your child's nose:

1. Plugging up one nostril and the child's mouth, and having them blow through their nose. They will actually smell, instead.

2. Tweezers. Nose hairs - enough said.

3. Toilet paper. Those little nostrils are way too small for anything like that.

4. Pepper. After our pediatrician finally got their phone lines in order, they suggested that I place a bunch of pepper in my hand, make Avery smell it, thus sneezing out the bead. He did sneeze 3 times, but nothing came out.

And, the list of things I didn't try include suction, nasal rinse, and Avery's finger. Turns out that last one works. We were in the van, on our way to the doctor's office, when Avery told me, "I got out that ball, because it was bothering me." I pulled over, and sure enough, there was the green Pixos that used to be in his nose.

I guess sometimes it is okay to pick your nose...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No Comment

Overheard on a car trip:

Abby: I'm going to have two girls and two boys when I'm a b-dult (adult)... No, two boys and three girls.... You know, I might just have as many as I want, like 3 boys and 3 girls...

Avery: I'm going to have a boy and a girl.

Abby: I'll name them Sydney, cause that's what my friend was named in preschool, Emily, and Ethan. Those are my favorite names. (After some suggestions, she also decided on Carter and Luke for boys).

Avery: I'm going to have Eli, cause he's my friend, and Kiley. That's my cousin.

Abby: You know, Mommy, if you have another baby girl, you can name her Rose. That is a very pretty name, and I'm going to name my last baby Rose.

Avery: I'm going to marry Abby.

Abby: You can't marry me, I'm marrying someone else. You have to find yourself a girl to marry.

Avery: I'm gonna marry Kiley.

Abby: You can't! She's going to be your kid!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Uh Oh!

Today Abby took cupcakes to school. When her teacher saw me, she realized that she had forgotten the cupcake container that I had sent with Abby. So Abby was sent back to the classroom to get it. With Richie. When they came back out, he was carrying the cupcake container for Abby. No big deal, right?

Well, the other night Daniel asked Abby what her friends at schooled are named. She mentioned a few girls, like Emma, Elisabeth, Julie, etc. But then she started acting silly, and whispered in Daniel's ear, "And Richie." Then she giggled, just like a teenager. Wait a minute. She's had lots of boys before that she called friends, but none that she had to whisper or giggle when she said their name.

I never, ever ask her about boyfriends - I never even mention them for adults. I'm also very careful about people asking her about boyfriends. I don't like it, not at all. She's only 5 (as of yesterday) - way too young to mess with boyfriend/girlfriend junk.

Now I wonder where she got this giggling and whispering of boy's names. This is the very reason I did not want her to start Kindergarten! The kids are influencing her, and making her grow out of babyhood. Today its boys - who knows what it will be tomorrow?? I wonder if its too late to put her back in preschool??

The Princess is 5!

And doesn't she look just so old???

It's hard to believe that I was a brand new mom with no clue just 5 years ago, and she was a tiny little princess with no patience. The nurse in the delivery room was quoted as saying, "What a princess!" several times. She certainly hit the nail on the head with that one.

Happy Birthday, my sweet little princess. We'll get that pea out from between the mattresses one day...

(If you don't know the story, read it)

Friday, October 3, 2008

October 1

Hmm... October has only been here 3 days so far, and it seems to have definitely brought autumn with it! On October 1, I took the kids to the zoo. Seriously, if you have small kids, October 1 is the perfect day to take them to the zoo. At least this year. And at least at our zoo.

Want to see pictures? I tried all day to get a nice picture of all three kids at once. I did get several of those, but none of them are necessarily "frame worthy"... What do you think?

Round 1:

October 1, Round 2

Round 2:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mosiac Meme

My first meme! (click on meme to find out what the heck a meme is)

1. Sara
2. Pretzels
3. 1998
4. Blue
5. Catherine Newman
6. Iced Cappuccino
7. London
8. Tiramisu
9. Happy
10. My Family
11. Waiting
12. Lizardhippie

Here’s how it works:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker. Choose 3 columns with 4 rows.

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to? (or, What year did you graduate high school?)
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

If you have a blog, post your own meme. Make sure you leave the link in the comments section!

And We Never Left the House

Abby and Avery are sick today. That makes sense, though, if you consider that Ethan was sick Friday night into Saturday, Daniel was sick Saturday night into Sunday, and I was sick Sunday night into Monday. Like clockwork, Abby started feeling bad last night. Avery started his sickness a couple hours ago, and has been asleep ever since.

Remember that Full House episode where Jesse's twins got sick for the first time? The parents were taking the twins temperature every two minutes, sleeping beside their cribs, and just generally freaking out. Is this how it was for you when your first child was a baby? I can't really say it was for me and Daniel, but then again, I can't say it wasn't, either.

Now when our kids get sick, I'm definitely not sleeping beside their beds, but I am not getting any sleep either. If I do manage to get them in bed, sleeping soundly, then I'll usually wake up every hour or so to check on them, or if I hear even one little peep. Daniel sleeps at this time. If I'm not waking up every hour to check on them, they're usually waking me every hour and making me very, very crabby. Daniel continues to sleep. It's like a newborn all over again, but even more demanding! Daniel - no comment.

So, back to today. I was still a wee bit sick yesterday & today, and now these whiny, sick, pitiful kids are driving me crazy. No one was even dressed before 10, the dishes aren't washed from breakfast yet, and the TV has been on all day. To top it all off, today was picture day at Abby's school, and she missed it. Now she's going to be the weird kid with no picture in the yearbook, the comment reading, "picture not available." Don't you always wonder about those kids? Like, why didn't they have a picture in the yearbook? Were they vampires? Now you know - they were sick on school picture day.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Apples & Pumpkins - Meet & Greet Monday

This weekend we went to the apple orchard and picked our own apples. I figured that was the last weekend to do this, since you have to pick apples in September, right? Next weekend will be October, and thus belongs to pumpkins.

Nonetheless, the orchard already had their pumpkins out. The kids were ready to pick a pumpkin and take it home, but I convinced them to wait a week (for pumpkin month). Abby said she was going to make a "lantern" when she finally got a pumpkin.

They were heavy little pumpkins, too...

We finally got the kids to leave the pumpkins. Thank goodness, because every single time I type "pumpkin" I spell it wrong.

There were two friendly donkeys (burros?) at the farm. They liked to whisper jokes in each other's ear. I think Avery overheard the joke this time:

This next section will be entitled, "The Apples of My Eye." Why?


Wait! Before we head to the apples, we need to take a potty break - as indicated by this "pee-pee dance":

Finally, we picked those apples!

We picked the heck out of them!

And gathered a peck of them! Don't you just love my apple orchard poetry?

And, just look at our loot!

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