Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27th, 2012

I'm still alive and kicking over here.  When I'm tired, I get depressed and grumpy, and I really don't want to complain in this space...so I don't say anything at all!  (I'm like Thumper, except I've learned my lesson...."If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all.")

Anyway.  We had guests for dinner.  And I made too much food- did you know that two chickens, 2 pounds of pesto green beans (plus a handful of baby potatoes), a loaf of bread, a big salad, and two bunches of roasted asparagus is too much for 4 adults and 5 picky kids under the age of 9?  Oh, and the two apple pies plus ice cream.  That apparently was too much as well.  BUT, the good news is that we had four drumsticks at our disposal.  That made the kids happy.  And we got to see adults and get to know them better, and that made US happy.  Plus, we have a lot of leftovers.  That makes me happy, because dinner was delicious!

Sunday we had a big dinner too.  My dad has a grilled scallop recipe down PAT.  He makes up a few for dinner every week for he and my mom.  He offered to cook up a whole bunch for our family dinner, and WOW.  So good.  He gleefully reminded me, when Ernie showed her obvious enjoyment, that the dinner cost more than my monthly grocery spending.  SO VERY GOOD.  SO NOT HAPPENING AT OUR HOUSE, ERNIE.  (He must have cooked...oh...80 scallops?  For 7 adults and 5 kids?  A couple of us were sick that night, it wasn't quite the crew we normally have.  But still.  We were WELL fed.  Plus a Costco bag of greens....oh my yum.)

(Ernie helpfully told our dinner guests that the leftover chicken bones could be made into soup, and that's her favorite part about chickens.  They can be made into SOUP, isn't that neat?  Our guest was pretty impressed at Ernie's culinary knowledge, but I had to explain how very, very new meat was in our house.  Mama has learned how to cook chickens, and it's changed Ernie's life!  Nevermind that tonight's birds were rotisserie from Costco...)

I've started the "Couch to 5k" running program.  First week is half done, and I'm hopeful that I will keep at it the full 10 weeks!  There's a triathalon/5k at a park close by, in June.  I'm planning on signing up for that... which is kind of brash, considering that the farthest I've ever run is a mile...but maybe if I take it slow, I can make it the whole way!

My husband got to work  yesterday and found this e-mail in his inbox:
I'm moving to Guatemala.  I might be back this afternoon.

Not enough sleep
Woke up to Mimi pooped in her diaper, and Cocoa leaked out of his.  
I need a hair cut.  Maybe I can find a good hairdresser down there?  
Cocoa is squawking, and won't stop.  (Ernie is still asleep.)

I love you, though!  

I didn't move to Guatemala.  But I didn't get any more sleep that day either.  I'm going to look back on these years and miss them intensely, aren't I?  I know I will.  Just thinking about my kids right now makes me all warm and fuzzy, but they're asleep.  I have so much more perspective when they're asleep, don't you?  

We've had some sunshine and temps in the 50's and 60's- I'm slowly making my way around the yard and weeding.  The garlic mustard (invasive weed) is starting to come up.  The buttercups are already forming dense carpets- I've got to get those out now, because they grow in clay.  If I don't dig it up now, they're NOT coming out!  There's a little weed that sends out tiny white flowers at the first hint of sun in the season- they make seed pods that explode when you touch them, which is why parts of our yard are completely infested.  I'm pulling them up too.  Wonder Daddy and my dad took out about 800 pounds of tree limbs/trees on Saturday- we're loving having a truck to haul stuff in!  

Saturday I received my first flowers of the year, as well.  The girls found their favorite little vase- it's going to be a permanent fixture on my kitchen table until the frosts come in the Fall.  It's normally filled with weeds or alyssum.  I love it.

first bouquet of the year- dandelions

We're ordering produce from the co-op again.  Not a bad haul for $16.50!

I think the best news of all right now is that Ernie is doing well.  I love seeing a strong gaze out of those clear blue eyes.  The sunshine is helping everyone feel better.

Wonder Daddy took Mimi out for a ride in the bike trailer Saturday evening (YES, after hauling 800 pounds of wood around the yard.  He's a beast.)  She came home wearing a crown and crowing about eating chicken nuggets- her daddy drove through the drive thru window!  The cashier thought that was the best thing he'd seen all night, haha.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Art Days and a New Photo Project

three phases of the sun- crayon
Three phases of the sun, by Myrnie

Daily art creation has continued- on the day we learned about the positions of the sun in the sky, we all drew our interpretation.  It was fun to draw, separated from each other, and then come together and compare.  We haven't done nearly enough art and creative time this year, it's wonderful to have it be part of our days again.  (That the baby is older now helps a LOT- he can be happy in his high chair with a cracker, or a piece of paper and some chalk.)

I tackled my pile of magazines a few weeks ago, and tore out all the pages I wanted to keep so I could recycle the rest.  Today I dug out  my neglected "inspiration binders" and starting filling in pages- it was therapeutic!  The kids wanted to join, so I set them down with big pieces of paper, a pile of magazines, scissors, and glue.  I told them to cut out things they wanted to remember, or meant something to them.

Ernie was pretty methodical

Mimi wasn't


inspiration book

I always love flipping through these inspiration notebooks- they span quite a few years of magazines, and it's interesting to me that I've gravitated toward the same look for so long.  I love blues, lavender, rose, white, beach wood, with lots of green.  Lots of natural materials, like wood and grass.  It's the same in my gardening pages, my kitchen pages, my decorating pages...so calming and wonderful.

If you haven't voted yet for Sophia Way today, please take a moment to click over, for me.  Voting closes at midnight tonight (March 20th.)  My Dad especially has worked with them for years- if they win this little Facebook contest they will receive $5,000.  I just found out tonight that they are in the final stages of getting ready to build a facility 3 times the size of their current- they are the ONLY resource for single, homeless, women in our county.  The work they do for women is amazing, and their rehabilitation programs are doing so much good.  As of right *now* we are .7% in the lead...with two hours left.  This has been a tight race!

One more link- this is a complete navel-gazer of a project, but I've been keeping a photo journal of our meals.  We cook simple food, and our grocery bill is normally pretty low (sometimes under $100 for the month, ALWAYS under $200.)  People ask "What do you EAT?"  And I look at them...and wonder....what do YOU eat?  I cook food, and we eat it!  I don't remember what it was!  So, Food on Plates.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Please Vote Tonight

I'm doing it. Calling in the big guns and mobilizing whatever social media clout I have- there is a homeless shelter that is *this close* to winning $5,000 dollars tonight in a Facebook Voting Contest.  They are the ONLY women's shelter in their county, and my parents have been closely involved with them since their inception.

If you can, please click over and vote for Sophia Way.  Thank you!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Colors of the Season


Avocado smoothie with lime and spinach


Cara Cara Oranges, Florida Grapefruit, and Limes

watercolor picture and snowflake

Snowflakes, cut from watercolored coffee filters

tissue paper rainbow

tissue paper rainbow

tissue paper rainbow

Tissue Paper Rainbows

We mixed colors, and then painted

Color mixing activity

watercolor rainbow

Painting with our colored water- it dried brighter!

What an odd time right now.  Snow on Monday, flooding on Friday, and sunny 50's on Saturday.  Winter isn't giving up without a fight, but Spring is coming!  We braved Seattle to visit the aquarium this week, and nearly got washed off the floating bridges trying to drive over Lake Washington.  We declared that afternoon a school holiday and spent the whole afternoon playing downstairs with the doll house and cars.  Cocoa started the week with a terrible fever- 103 on Sunday, but was fine by Tuesday.  Now Mimi has a night cough- I tried to give her a cough drop last night, but the menthol taste didn't agree with her,  and I ended up with a handful of ......ummm....well, her dinner.  And the cough drop.  I suppose catching it is better than washing sheets, right? We'll stick with spoonfuls of honey for her, and warm lemon water (with more honey.)  ("It's 'picy, Mom!"  Not a huge fan of the lemon, but likes not coughing afterwards!)  

Cocoa has learned to go to sleep on his own at bedtime- this is kind of a REALLY big deal!  I knew it was time, he wouldn't fall asleep in my arms anymore.  I hold him tight, and rock during our lullaby ("I Am a Child of God.")  The first night he fussed about 5 minutes, 2nd and 3rd he lasted about 30 seconds.  This was JUST fussing, though.  I love my baby years, I really do.  Today I took him to the grocery store- we stood in the entry of our home, while I got my shoes on, him in my arms.  He lunged towards the door, making his "waving" hands, totally ready to go. When did my boy get so big?

Seems more than just the season is changing right now!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tissue Paper Rainbows for St. Patrick's Day

My daughters have never heard of leprechauns.  Is that terrible?  I told them stories about leprechauns today, to get ready for this art activity.  They're little people, they're sneaky and tricky.  If you catch one, he has to tell you where his pot of gold is, or grant one wish.  (I might be embellishing a bit.  Isn't that how fairy tales go?)  You can find leprechauns at the end of a rainbow, if you're quick.

Ernie's only response, much later, was "Mom?  Are leopards yellow?"  Yes...with brown spots.  "OK, so the yellow in the leprechaun rainbow is going to remind me of leopards.  Because their word roots are the same- they both start with "lep!"  My child...is obsessed with learning about animals right now.  I also just introduced her to the concept of word roots, and heaven help us all, I'm going to dig out my latin word root cards tomorrow and show her a few.  Oh, and Mimi said she would NEVER wish for all the candy in the world- she'd get sick.  OK, then!

ANYWAY!!  I love these rainbows- I remember making an enormous poster this way for my 3rd grade teacher as a girl.  I begged and begged the teacher to let me stay in from recesses to help finish it for her.  The girls took to this just as much, Ernie was actually giggling over her project.  I was awarded "Best Mom Ever!" status for the afternoon- I love that status.  I certainly didn't have that status at the grocery store today...

So, here's the supplies:

  • tissue or crepe paper in rainbow colors, cut into squares- we used crepe streamers
  • white school glue
  • a pencil with an eraser
  • construction paper
I showed the girls how to sketch a rainbow onto their construction paper, and start filling it in.  You take one square of paper, and swizzle it around the eraser end of a pencil.  Lightly tap it in the glue, then press it onto your paper; gently pull the pencil out while holding the tissue paper down.  They got the hang of it really quick, and this was a ZERO mess project.  The best kind.

scrunched tissue rainbows

scrunched tissue rainbows

scrunched tissue rainbows

scrunched tissue rainbows

Monday, March 12, 2012

Growing Pains

  • Three teeth cut (that I can see)
  • First steps
  • First wave
  • First point
  • First words (Noooo.....Dada!  DOH!  Which I think means go.)
  • First time feeding himself with a spoon
  • First sip of milk, and first time drinking from his own cup
After a busy week, is it any wonder that his little body is doing everything it can to make him slow down?  Our little boy slept in our arms most of Sunday, and developed a roasting fever in the afternoon.  A long, fretful night (thank you, Wonder Daddy, for holding him a couple hours so I could sleep a bit before the sun came up!) and he is completely wired today.  10:00 and he's still running circles around me and demanding everything he can see in his ever-widening sphere.

Slow down, baby boy.  The world isn't going anywhere.


Scheduling the 6-Year-Old

Have I mentioned before that my daughter is not autistic?  She's not.  I swear.  But by gum, there's hardly a "raising the autistic child" method out there that doesn't seem tailor-made for her.

A neighbor of ours has an autistic boy- he's a teen now, so she's been through it all.  He's pretty high functioning, but we were giggling the other day, and swapping stories.

"There was a year we couldn't go to the park, because she'd scream for an hour and a half when it was time to leave."

"Oh YES, we were house-bound for years!"

She asked me if I'd set up a visual schedule for Ernie yet?  Umm...a what now?  It changed her son's life- they set up a big board with strips of velcro, and laminated pictures of every single activity that would be done during the day, and stuck them up in order.

"OK, but I'm trying to get her to accept spontaneity.  What about that?"

Easy, you say "See this thing?  We're adding it right here- now move all the pictures over and make room."  So he had a visual that everything was just getting shifted.  Nothing was getting skipped or missed, so he didn't have any stress about what was coming (something Ernie REALLY struggles with.)  It gave him a way to visualize the day, without constantly asking about what was coming.  After a time using this system, you start taking things off the board that are just memorized- for example, take down the "brush your teeth" picture, because he just knows that we always do that, and he never forgets.

I sat down with Ernie today and made a list of everything we do during the day, and then drew up a daily schedule, with both of our activities side by side.  (So she could see that from 5:00-6:00 she's on her own, I'm cooking, for example.)  In some ways, this feels like a step backwards- I've been wanting her to be self regulating, and a better listener.  But I can see how this could really help her- she was practically giggling with glee at nap time, saying "Alright Mom!  I'll see you at 2:00!  And then, I'll practice piano!  And at 3:00...we're going to have a snack!"   I won't do pictures, I think, because she does so well internalizing written words.  Hopefully by the end of this week, I'll have a fun project to show you guys- I'll make a run to the craft store and make something nice.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Felt Rings for Vintage Canning Jars

I found some great jars at the thrift store- vintage, French, Triomphe jars.  I can't even find them online, so I'm not certain how common these sizes are, but they're perfect for storing things in the kitchen.

The rubber gasket rings were old and crackly (and....eww...second-hand, old, rubber rings?)  I used one as a template and made some quick felt rings for my jars- a double thickness of these works a treat.

How do you store things in your kitchen?  I end up with a hodge podge of mason jars, plastic bins, 25 gallon buckets, and old sour cream containers marked with Sharpie.  Definitely not stream lined, haha!

felt rings for vintage canning jars

felt rings for vintage canning jars

felt rings for vintage canning jars

felt rings for vintage canning jars

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

End of the Nana Visit

Alas, Nana did eventually need to return to her own family.

Let's see.

Oh, I told you that Saturday was the chocolate factory, McDonald, the movie, the hamburgers, the all-you-can-drink strawberry soda?  Did I mention this happened?

He's walking!

Yeah :)

Sunday was church, and dinner at my husband's grandparents- his mom stayed at their house Saturday and Sunday night.  Dinner was amazing as always- more on that later.

Monday we threw out all the stops- Nana took the girls and their dad out for pancakes, and then to the toy store.  Quick lunch and nap at home, and then an afternoon at the park.  Oh my word was it cold!  But it was sunshine, so we grabbed it.

at the park

(Oh, and just a little reminder: If you get home from the park, and make hot cocoa, and bring the mugs out to the table where everyone is playing Monopoly, and notice how FULL the table is with all the game stuff, don't be surprised when those mugs start going down like dominos.  Drat!  I decanted everyone's drinks into covered cups, and all was right with the world again.)

We ended the day with dinner at home (caramelized onion soup, roasted brussel sprouts, fresh bread) and then an outing for ice cream.

at the park

Can I just say how completely UNDERWHELMED the girls were with my dinner that night?  And with lunch?  (Noodles that I know they loved a few days before.)  Twelve meals in 4 days, and 5 of those were out of my kitchen.  My plain food is nowhere near as good!  Hope they adjust back soon :)

At Baskin Robbins

We absolutely loved having Nana here!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

When Nana Comes to Visit

reading a story on the couch      

The night before Nana comes to town, the girls can't sleep.  At 9:30 PM, they're still shuffling out to where we're sitting.

"I can't fweep!"  Mimi sighs.  "Mimi, what's more exciting: Christmas, or Nana coming?"

"....Nana coming."  I know she's telling the truth too, because they had NO troubles falling asleep Christmas Eve.

         The day Nana comes to town, all three kids are awake by 6:30 AM.  We finish our chores by 8:00, and play math games with chocolate chips to pass the time.

       The day Nana comes, we pile into the car to drive to the airport, and half way there Mimi exclaims "I've got to go potty!"  Hold it, kid.  (Lucky for her, there was a biffy in the cell phone waiting lot.  But she opened that lid, took a short look, and shut it again.  "Ewwww Mommy!"  and backed up.  Yep, this is what you get to use.  Better get it over with!)

     We found Nana, and spent the rest of the day visiting with folks at my husband's grandparents' home, and playing with Nana back at our home.  The girls played Hangman, Phase 10, and Charades.  They read books. They put on a little piano recital.  They danced.  Oh my goodness, are these girls tickled pink that their Nana is here to visit!  She chose to sleep on a little mattress in their room, so she'd be right there when they woke up this morning.  (Of course, Wonder Daddy and I stayed up till after midnight chatting with her.  I was not amused when Cocoa's needs and Mimi's coughing kept me awake till 2 am!  Sure hope I didn't shock Nana too much when I lurched my way into their happily chatty room at 7:15 this morning and croaked "Girls, please be quiet!!  The baby is asleep!"  That sweet woman got the girls dressed, fixed their hair, and made eggs for breakfast.  She got Cocoa out of his crib when he woke up, and I never knew about any of this, because I didn't wake up until 9.  She's a saint.

playing hangman

     The girls went on their much-loved traditional visit to the local chocolate shop with Nana, and we spent the afternoon at the movie theater watching the new Studio Ghibli film, "The Secret World of Arriety" and then went for burgers.  (The movie was AMAZING.  I felt like crying, it was so nice to be back in the old style of Ghibli animation- the scenes could have been right at home in Totoro or Whisper of the Heart.  Sigh.)