Thursday, June 30, 2011

Reading

Since I became pregnant with Big Girl I've pretty much stopped reading for myself. During my pregnancies I read lots of books about what to expect (didn't care for What to Expect, but that is probably another post). Admittedly, I read a lot more during my first pregnancy. There was more time and I had a lot more to learn.

So, getting to the point of this post - I have totally discovered books on CD. Lame. I know. But, I read all day long at work. I read books to the kids at home. Reading is important, but its really not something I do for myself anymore. Unfortunately, I have pretty much just been sticking to books on CD for the kids. (Hello Little House the entire freakin' series!)

I need suggestions on what to read for me. Do you have a favorite new book? recent book (by recent, I mean less than 5 years old)? I need to start reading again. I don't know when it will actually happen, maybe if I can take lunch breaks?

Send your suggestions anyway - I'll try them. Only rule - no science fiction.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beach on the Brain

Our annual beach trip is almost here, and its pretty much taking over my brain. When I say taking over, I mean seriously it is taking over.

Packing. Planning the laundry cycle so Big Girl has her favorite sun dresses clean. Grocery list. Pack 'n Play. Strollers - the one that is already rusted - where is it again. How is all this crap going to fit in our car? Birthday presents. Birthday cake. Baby food. Take home made with us? Take the food processor and make it there? Just buy some pre-made? Hummm. Milk. Seriously milk. I want to drink. Margaritas. Wine. Corona. Margaritas on the rocks in the middle of the day. Mojitos. Did I say I want to drink. Have to figure out the milk thing. Frozen or formula. How to get frozen milk down to the coast. If it gets defrosted, can it be refrozen? Little man hasn't had formula other than mixed in his bananas twice. Should I just suck it up and not drink. I want to drink. I am a grown up. I am going on vacation. 

Ugh.

Seriously. the birthday cake. I love making birthday cakes for Big Girl and her cousin. I'm sure I will be making them for Little Man too. Since we are going to be at the beach, we've been looking for inspiration I've been looking for pictures of cakes online that I think that I can pull off and then showing Big Girl some options for approval.

Basically, I think we are going to end up with a cross between these two.





We'll do a rectangle with water and sand. I'm not sure about decorating little teddy bear cookies. It seems like it would be tough and Big Girl is a little beyond teddy bears. Maybe a tree. For sure a cool beach towel laying on the sand. For sure the fun Jello water. Gotta have a beach umbrella we will have those on hand (see margaritas above).

Ideas? Please share.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Things Kids Can Get Away With That Grownups Can’t

There are so many things kids can get away with that grownups can't.

- Saying things like Bojakles or Jinkle Bells when asking for a biscuit.
- Swimming half way across the pool and then just stopping to hold onto the rope. When someone asks what is wrong, just saying "I'm tired" and hanging out for 10 minutes even though the water is three feet deep.

Big Girl has a friend that she sees almost every day. He is super adorable and has a fantastic Mom. :) The other day he was doing a little Potty Dance. The Potty Dance is one of my most favorite parts of preschool. Every kid does it. Every kid has their own style. None of the kids I know do it like the kids on the Pull-Ups commercial.


If I was at the office and walked out of a meeting doing this dance what would people say? Hummm. Better yet, what if I walked out of Church hopping down the side aisle with my knees together and ankles pointed out? I think my kids would have a few less play dates.

Another thing kids can get away with - making noises while they eat.

You know the noise "hmmmm" as they chew up chocolate fresh watermelon. Little man roars when the food isn't coming in fast enough.

Chew, chew, "Rooooaaarrr." Yes, I know you want another spoon dripping because its so full, but I can only go so fast. Are you even chewing? Are you just swallowing? Sometimes I want to check that your mouth isn't full so you don't choke.

Imaging if I was out for sushi and let out a big 'ol "Rooooaaarrr." Would they think I have rabies? More likely I'd get the check handed to me without an offer for another glass of wine. If it was Ruth's Chris Steakhouse how many bites of my fillet (with a "Rooooaaarrr" between each one) would I get down before the kind waiter in the bowtie would come over to the table. Maybe bringing the manager?

Perhaps I should try other noises in a rest5urant. Think "When Harry Met Sally."


I know you were thinking it even before you scrolled down and saw the YouTube file. You were. Don't try and play like you weren't. All I am saying is - if she were 8 months, or 3 years, making the same noises without or without the actions people would be giving her different looks.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Yum, Yum

Here it is. The long over due garden update.

Short Version
Our Garden is awesome. The harvest list so far:
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • Lettace
  • Cucumbers
  • Strawberries
  • Red Potatoes


Still growing/anxiously awaiting:
  • Watermellon
  • Tomatoes
  • Cantelope
  • Carrots (picked one early it was little, cute and tasty)
  • Marigolds
Long Version
Growing a garden as a family has been a rewarding experience. We all get to work together and each person's strengths can shine. I get to organize and keep things neat and take pictures (plus blog about it). Husband gets to use tools. Big Girl can make a mess and help with almost everything. Little Man can sit and watch and giggle.

We've also learned lessons along the way. Big Girl has learned about comparison shopping online and (uhoh how to order things, including where the credit card number goes). She's also learned about watering plants at the base and we've had some good conversations about following directions.

Then of course the conversations about healthy foods. They are a constant in our house:

"You've had a sweet thing today, so maybe we can have that candy tomorrow."
"The fruit roll up says 100 percent fruit no sugar added, but it tastes like candy. Is it?"
"Does dried fruit have sugar in it? Does it count as my sweet thing?"

The best: "Our strawberries taste like candy, but I get to eat lots of them. That is great isn't it Mommy?"

Oh how we love the garden. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cold Food

My kids eat their food cold. Not just cool or room temperature. Cold.

It started early. When Big Girl was eating baby food, I would take it straight out of the fridge (had to be refrigerated since it was home made) and feed it to her. When I went back to work and she was about 10 months old, she would drink her milk from the bottle cold.

When Big Girl was in preschool I would always make her plate first, then put it in the fridge while I set the table and made the other plates.

I was even known to ask waiters and waitresses, "Could you stick hers in the fridge for a few minutes before you bring it out?" If not, we would spend 20 minutes waiting for it to be cool enough for her to eat. If you're at Applebee's (her favorite) this is longer than it takes to get settled, order your food and for them to bring it out. At fancier places or when I knew we would be sitting for awhile, I would just let her play or color while I ate at least half my meal before putting her plate in front of her.

Many people thought it was strange.

Then, Little Man started taking his bottles cold a few weeks after I went back to work. He was about three months. Then his food. History was repeating itself.

Then, one morning as I was driving into work I almost hit a UPS truck and a huge light bulb went off. The truck was because of the light bulb - not the other way around.

Big Girl had eaten her food cold for years because I started her off that way. What started at making my life easy by not warming things up had turned into a big time bad habit. Even a way of life.

It had taken weeks of telling her every meal that her food wasn't too warm to eat before she would eat with us at dinner (without the plate going in the fridge first). Occasionally she still says "its too hot!" when her food is room temperature. Grrr.

But do I change? Nope. Just last night it was sweet potatoes and peas straight from the fridge for little man. Following dinner - a nice chilly bottle that I had pumped ahead of time.

Should we change his habits now? Probably. But come on. Its just too easy right now. We'll change it in the future.... Hopefully before re-entering the world of asking waiters to stick a plate in the fridge before serving it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

'Da Funk

It really wasn't that bad - but - there has been a funk in our car (off and on) for the last few weeks.

There have been some super hot days in Raleigh lately. And, at one point I had said it spilled like spoiled milk and tried to think about when Big Girl had milk in the car. Nothing. Couldn't figure it out.

Then today I was sitting in a parking lot and dropped a pen. As I was fumbling for it, I looked right next to my hand and saw a cheese stick - still in the wrapper thank goodness.


So now, here I am racking my brain as to when Big Girl had a cheese stick in the car. As best I can figure - when we went to see her 'cuz graduate college. THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY!

Yuck.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Jam

Have you ever made your own jam or jelly. We heart it. Fairly easy, plenty fun and the kids can help. A few weeks ago we made some. I am just now getting around to showing it off, so here goes.

1. Pick lots of tasty fruit.


2. Wash fruit and slice it into pieces. You want all the pieces to be about the same size, however they really don't need to be exact. Big Girl helped take the "hats" off the strawberries and slice them in half with a knife.

3. In a large sauce pan, combine 2 pints strawberries, 1/2 cup water



4. Simmer covered on low/medium heat until fruit is soft. Then add 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 tbsp lemon juice.



5. Stir, stir, stir. until it the jelly point is reached. As soon as it starts to thicken up (think rubber cement thickness) remove from the heat. If any impurities have floated to the top - i.e. strawberry "hats" skim them off with a spoon.

6. Wait 10 to 15 minutes and pour into sterilized jars allow to cool and refrigerate.

If sterilizing is scary or you don't think you have the right jars, consider an empty peanut butter jar or the little Gerber baby food rectangle things. Both can be sterilized by going in a big bowl of water that has been boiled in the microwave.


Words of wisdom on this one... Don't use a pickle jar. Even if its been cleaned you will still catch a whiff of pickles when you open and close it.

More tips:
- If your jam is too thick after being refrigerated, allow it to sit on the counter and warm up.
- If you make small containers of jam, they can sit on the shelf in the pantry for a few weeks and be just fine.
- Before putting the jam in the jars, let your kids decorate them with permanent markers and stickers.
- Grandparents and Great-Grandparents love jam.
- Jam and Ritz crackers makes a fun snack. Using plastic containers you can hand one container to each kid and let them practice spreading. Time consuming and tasty task = Mom can scrapbook shop on-online for a furniture drink her fav beverage and watch TV out of the corner of her eye without interruption clean the kitchen .

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Things I Am Excited About...

I read Beauty in My Mess (Luv you Marg!) and was inspired to make a list of things my kids and I Big Girl, Husband and I are excited about.

1. The Beach
2. A birthday wish come true - celebrating at the beach.
3. Swimming Skillz that don't make us think a lifeguard is going to have to jump in to help Big Girl when she tries to complete her races on swim team.
4. Our family. All of us/y'all/them.
5. Being able to drink Mt. Dew. Okay, this is just me. But it caused major problems for Little Man when he was a tiny. Now re-thinking this makes all of us happy, because there are days that I really need caffeine to maintain my sanity.
6. Sitting Up. Yea. You don't realize how lucky you are to have abs that help you sit up until there is a tiny little person learning to use theirs and they start to topple over when their tummy gets tired.
7. Our House. More super awesomeness. The super is because we are almost finished (knock on wood) with a little demolition/remodel project that included an electronics upgrade.
8. Kids that LOVE healthy foods. (A garden update is on its way soon!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Swim Team

If you have lived in Raleigh long - and have kids - you have probably heard about summer swim teams.

Pretty much every neighborhood has a pool and pretty much every pool has a swim team. It is pretty much a Raleigh tradition. The league itself is huge. Huge.

The website for the Tarheel Swim Association says it is, "North Carolina's largest summer recreational youth swim league! Over 10,000 athletes aged 18 and under competed last summer for TSA's 78 member teams."

This is Big Girl's second summer swimming and she is sooo excited.

Last night she made it all the way across the pool (25 yards) without stopping or getting help. So, today she gets a prize. (Gotta love good ol' fashioned bribery.) A bright purple swim cap!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Talking

Little man is talking. Well, kind of. More accurately, he is screaming. But - we have heard two full sentences (one wasn't screaming).

First, the happy one. Husband walks into the kitchens after work. Little man is sitting on the kitchen counter in his bumbo chair. "Hi Dada." What? Huh? Big girl starts shrieking, "He said Hi Dada. He said Hi Dada." He wouldn't do it again for anything.

Since then he's said the same phrase again. Always followed by giggles. He knows he is communicating and it is just amazing. Six months old!

Second, the not so happy one. Trying to put him to sleep is all fine and good - as long as I'm the one doing it. Its not that we have a real particular routine. We can sit in his room, sit in the TV room, hold him walking around the house. But, between 8 and 8:15 each evening, his eyes just close and he is asleep.

Okay. So back to the story and his other sentence. We are trying to get him accustomed to other people helping him settle in for the night. Last night husband tried and tried. He is awesome with him and the guys love each other. However, between his tears, Little Man kept saying, "I wan Mama."

What a sweet sentence, but what a difficult situation. Do other kids do this? What are parents to do?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Celebration

Its time to brag a little. Big Girl is seriously worthy.

She did an awesome job in kindergarten. So, last night we took her to Chuckie Cheese to celebrate.

When we ordered our pizza we showed them her end of year report and - get this - she got 15 extra tokens. Yes. 15!

What a prize.

Bragging part two - husband.

Oh yea. He won the skeeball grand prize. 250 tickets. Wow. 250 tickets really helped in the quest for the iCarley bag.

BTW, is anyone else watching this show? I think Big Girl is about to have a new favorite.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stayin' Busy for the Summer

Summer is almost here. Summer is here. Summer is almost here. I'm going to stick to almost because school isn't out yet. So, what's on the agenda for the summer? Learning. Yep. There. I said it. Learning.

It's never to early to be thinking about getting into the right college. Um. Okay. Its never a bad time to help your kid stay ahead so they are in the top of their class. Okay. Said that too.

But seriously, aren't other parents there. Doesn't every one want their kids to be smart?

So, what is our plan for the summer? A little reading workbook. A little math workbook each morning before play time. I'm not talking about a lot. Really. Don't online roll your eyes. I know its there through the computer.

Big Girl's school send home the next two levels of reading workbooks since we already paid for them with our book fees. So, I picked up a 2st/2nd grade math book at Five Below. She's only going into first grade, but it had simple division and she loves that stuff.

So, off we go. School is out Friday. Play all day Monday, maybe Tuesday, then its workbook time.

It will all be so easy when it becomes part of the routine. Right?!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What I am Lovin'

1. This new look.

Yes! So sweet. So us/me. So Raleigh. So Lovin' it.

I honestly have been working on it for awhile. If you notice, there is no designed by tag anywhere. Why you ask? I designed it myself. Maybe I should get one.

Okay. Enough of that.

2. Everyone getting over the springtime funk.

It seems like everyone in Raleigh has experienced some kind of illness over the last few weeks. Finally everyone seems to be feeling better.

Hooray!

No Lovin'

I have absolutely no love for the insurance company. I have so much not love it is pretty much hate. Its not even our current insurance company. Its our old insurance company. Health insurance policy that ended in December. Yes. You read correctly. Six (long) months after our policy ended I'm still sorting through their crap.

To make the story short, I had a running total of my receipts and in October I thought I had met our max out of pocket. I called and they said no I had a little more to go. Spent the "little" more and went on leave to be with our new born.... Still they say we didn't reach it.

Then the end of the year came and they said we never reached it. What?!? They are crazy. Ever since then I've been calling and getting put on hold for long periods of time attempting to talk to them.

Finally someone in Human Resources started to help me out. As it turns out, I have overpaid several doctors. So the insurance company and this girl from HR say.

Laugh it up now. You aren't the one calling your doctor and saying, "Um, yea. I think I paid you too much and I need my money back."

"Yes. I see that you over paid by $1.48."

"Actually, my insurance company says it is more like $132.14."

Do you think they like these phone calls? Do you think they would much rather keep our hard earned money? OF FREAKIN' COURSE.

I would laugh to. Y'all know its not going to go well. I'm going to end up with high blood pressure or something over this and be back in their office. You know I will. I'll end up with the same girl trying to take my payment that I just finished trying to get my money back from. Just watch.

Do you have an insurance story (If its about Blue Cross Blue Shield don't send it. They are still nice to me and I want to keep it that way.)? Do you hate Cigna as much as I do? I know I'm not alone.