Monday, December 29, 2014

Cup of Sugar Neighbors

Growing up I had family, and lots of it.  I don't think I thought much of it till I grew up and moved away.  I had grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins literally within walking distance.  I had family at both the school and church we attended-dad and mom's side.  We had Wednesday Night supper at my grandma's house nearly every week.  My kids don't have that.

My kids do, however, have surrogate family.  There are some people in our lives who have stepped in and been the close proximity family we don't have.  In our old neighborhood we were good friends with both of our next door neighbors and knew/visited often with several other neighbors.  One of our next door neighbors were Cup of Sugar Neighbors.  Literally.  When we had to make the decision to move, it was so hard.  I tried every way possible to figure out a way to stay in that house with our growing family, but it wasn't to be.  I dreaded moving to a new neighborhood and not having my Cup of Sugar Neighbors anymore.

What is a Cup of Sugar Neighbor?  Its a neighbor you can go to at any time of the night or day and ask for anything and they'll gladly help.  Its the neighbor who comes over at 3am to help you with a screaming baby who you're at your wits end with and your husband is working.  Its the neighbor who trusts you to watch out for their kids while they're at work and the kids are on the cusp of needing/not needing childcare...but knowing you are home lets them be home on a snow day.  Its the neighbors who give you their garage code so that you can borrow some eggs when you're in the middle of baking and you run out.  And five years later I still miss those neighbors.  We still see them, but it isn't the same.  Just thankful we've stayed friends.

So we move to our new neighborhood.  Slowly we get to know people and of course it is hard.  We have Rosebud literally 9 days after moving in.  We don't want to bother anyone, and our kids are kinda loud.  But our neighbors on either side are very welcoming.  I'm going to focus on one of our next door neighbors.  Soon after we had Rosebud Janet brought over a brand new crocheted baby blanket.  She talked to the boys through the fence and gave them peanuts in the shell-something they'd never had before.  She and her husband baked gluten free cookies when LMM couldn't eat wheat.  They were one of the only neighbors that first Halloween to even know that it WAS Halloween.  Janet would come over and watch the kids if I ever had an emergency.  Like the time Sweet Pea put a pencil through her ear and Rosebud was in bed sick so I couldn't take her with me to the ER.

Fast forward through the last five years and just thinking about it makes me cry.  Because Janet died yesterday.  Unexpectedly.  And we are totally and utterly devastated.  This isn't a move to another town and a different friendship.  This is goodbye.  And I'm not ready.

 I'm remembering a crocheted baby hat for Sweet Pea and Rosebud's doll-because it was too small to send to the hospital where she sent baby hats for new arrivals.  Another baby blanket a few weeks ago for our newest arrival who doesn't even have a blog name yet.  Hundreds of peanuts passed through the fence to eager little hands.  She bought them to feed the squirrels.  Rosebud often "helped" Miss Janet do laundry-I'm sure she chatted poor Janet's ear off.  She was the first person this Christmas (we celebrated 2 weeks early) that LMM wanted to show off his bike to.  She always had time to see his latest LEGO creation.  Snug hates math, but Janet was a retired math teacher.  She always encouraged him to do his best and she volunteered with struggling math students after she retired.  She had little cups to pass out drinks when it was hot, bandaids to put on scrapes both imagined and real-even bought the kind with pictures on.  She was always generous with hugs, her time, and her patience...especially when she knew I was OUT of hugs, time, and patience.  She took the time to talk to me when I was at my very most frazzled.  She had a special relationship with Rosebud who always seems to need more than I have to give.  She even would push the kids on the tire swing, and swing herself.  And I'm going to miss her so bad.

You don't always have Cup of Sugar Neighbors.  I've been blessed to have them more than once.  And this loss hurts so bad.  And it is hurting my kids.  I know this spring when they go out to play they are going to have a void-because nearly every time they went out to play she would come over to say "hi", give hugs, and invite them to play with her dog in the backyard.  I can't even imagine what her husband is going through.  My heart especially aches for him.  He is also a wonderful neighbor and I hope somehow we can help him through this horrible time.

Take the time to be someone's Cup of Sugar Neighbor.  You never know how much it might mean to them.  Mine have meant the world to me.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Third Trimester Rambling

Third trimester is always interesting.  This has, overall, been my best pregnancy yet.  Maybe I'm getting good at it? I guess I really can't take credit for something I have zero control over.  It's not like with the boys, when I lost 14 pounds before I ever gained an ounce, that I was doing something wrong.

As with the other girls (yes, #5 is a girl) I had lots of nausea through the second trimester, but kept everything down.  Rosebud gave me sciatic pain that was almost unbearable.  Sweet Pea did too, but not as bad for as long.  So far I've only had tiny twinges.  Insomnia has been an issue, but having been given the green light to take Melatonin once in awhile I've been sleeping better.  (You know, when Sweet Pea isn't coming into my room announcing that she isn't tired, can't find her bink, wants a drink, needs to go potty, wants to sleep with us.)  Heartburn has also been a little bit of a "fun" thing, but again, NOTHING compared to what I had in the previous 4 pregnancies.

I have 9 more official weeks to go.  Really that means probably 7-8 more weeks, but who knows.  I had Snug at 34, LMM at 37, Rosebud at 38, and Sweet Pea at 39.  Maybe I'll make it to 40 this time.  I certainly hope not.  I'm DONE at 38 weeks.  I'm pretty sure mine are fully baked earlier than their due dates.

I'm nesting like crazy, which is so dumb as this is baby #5.  Really, how much is there to get ready?  I spent an hour the other day on our deck pairing and pinning baby socks.  I have newborn and 0-3 all mixed up and I can't for the life of me decide which ones are what size so I think I'll just do trial and error on that one.  *baby tip* Take the small gold safety pins and pin the toes of your baby socks together when in the drawer.  When you put them on the baby, take the pins off otherwise your kid will look weird.  When they're "dirty" aka have been worn, stick them in a small lingerie bag so the dryer doesn't eat them.  In your spare time pin them back together before you stick them back in the drawer.  This is the ONLY way I know to not end up with one sock of each.

So I'm doing stupid things that don't matter at all, but still feel the urge.

In light of this, and because I know that by 38 weeks I'll be DONE (if not literally, physically), I've decided to start homeschooling in *gasp* July.  The 28th to be exact.  I don't plan on doing that in the future, but I think I need a good 33 (taking Snug's birthday off, and Memorial Day) days under my belt before I hit that 38 week mark.  I plan on then doing partial days, as much as I can deal with, and taking 2-3 FULL weeks off once baby comes.  I'll then do partial days till baby is 6 weeks (or maybe before, we'll see).  I really really want to be done by June 2015.

Right now we've been to camp, been to see grandparents, had lots of time at area parks, seen and played with friends, and had VBS.  I feel we can start school and not feel gipped on summer vacation.  However, after MONTHS of school, I know we'll want to be DONE and ready to start all those fun things again next spring.  You can laugh when all my grand plans fall apart.  I figure it is better to have a plan and not meet ALL of my expectations than to have no plan and meet ZERO expectations.  Right?

In the meantime things just seem overwhelming to me.
** #1 had a birthday in the BEGINNING of June.  His birthday banner still hangs in the dining room. **The garden.  Everything about the garden.
**Keeping clean tablecloths on the table.  I just pretend they are clean.
**The kids' bedrooms
**The taking to and picking up from preschool for Rosebud that will start in September
**Getting the summer pictures off the camera.  All 1,100 of them
**Getting up in the morning. Kidding.  Sorta

Having help in these areas from anyone but my husband is also overwhelming because having company seems overwhelming.  So no, I don't want help.  Nice, huh?  We're just blaming it on the 3rd trimester.  I only have 9 more weeks to blame on pregnancy, going to make the most of it :o)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Car Seat Blahs.

Car seat shopping...again.  Need some honest reviews from YOU.  You can either comment in the blog comments section, or leave a comment on Facebook.  This is very frustrating and never ending it seems.  I just asked back at Christmastime for advice for one for Sweetpea!  #1 (for those of you who don't normally read my blog, that's my hubby) says the whole height and weight requirement thing is being fueled by lobbyists who work for car seat companies.  Not that he's not about safety-he knows what can go wrong in an accident for kids not strapped in and wants our kids to be safe.  We have a rule that if our seats get moved either he or I install them into the next car.  This offends people.  So sorry, they're not YOUR kids.  So it isn't that he doesn't care about car seats...he just thinks it is a racket that every 2 years all the "rules" change and none of your car seats comply anymore.  A racket AND expensive.  Maybe he's right.  I'm just not willing to bet the kids' life on it.

Our boys were under the "old" system where you moved your kids at 30 lbs to a high back booster.  Oh how times have changed.  Now they're supposed to be in a 5 point harness BACKWARDS till that weight.  Rosebud's 5 point only goes to 40 inches.  She's 40 1/2".  My brilliant idea was to switch carseats with Sweet Pea because hers go to 50 inches.  Problem:  Rosebud's head, even in the "up to 50 inch" seat is only an inch and a half below the top of the headrest...the manual says her head needs to be at least an inch below it.  Another problem?  Sweet Pea isn't yet 30# and Rosebud's old car seats are "supposed" to face rear, but we can't get them tight enough that way so they only work forward facing.  Right now so that Rosebud isn't too tall for hers, Sweet Pea is turned forward and she's only 25#.  Confused yet?

Rosebud is long in the body, so even buying another seat that is up to 50" (most 5 points are now) doesn't help us because her head sits too high.  She's nowhere near 50", but too tall for those seats according to their manuals.  I took her to a store and tried some other brands, but still her head is right up at the top...even if it is a 50" seat.  I need a car seat store that has them ALL.  EVERY SINGLE ONE FOR SALE IN THE WORLD on display that I can sit her in and see how she fits.  This doesn't exist.  

So then I discovered this:

It is a highback booster (for when she hits 40#) that ALSO has a 5 point harness.  I need to know if anyone owns one of these seats.  It is an Evenflo Chase Harnessed Booster.  It is less than $100 which is a MUST.  Seriously can't afford one more than that.  Truthfully, this one is not in the budget, but we have to get one.  It gets good reviews on Amazon and Evenflo (big shock as they made it).  I'm wondering though if the headrest adjusts really high.  Little Monkey Man has a high back booster that he still sits in and he still has more height we can add to his.  But without SEEING the car seat, I don't know how high this one we're looking at has the potential to go.

I hate car seats.  HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE them.  But I know firsthand how valuable they are.  Help please!

(Or other recommendations for highback boosters WITH 5 point harnesses)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Why I Do My Kids' Parties

Why I do My Kids' Parties.  Alternately titled "How Being A Pack Rat Saves Me Money"
I love love love to do my kids' birthday parties.  I have them choose a theme no less than 4 months in advance.  Knowing ahead of time lets me get on Pinterest, browse clearance sections, borrow things from others, and have the time to make items.  A year before this party I needed new table clothes.  I chose two that I loved for spring/summer (our table is L O N G) that also matched Rosebud's first birthday theme.  Since then I used them for daily dining, as well as 2 more parties.  

 Pinterest is THE place to find party ideas.  There are also a couple of cute sites on my Blogroll that I consult.  Mostly I have to be willing to do lots of work myself.  Thankfully I have a mom who also enjoys creating and always helps out.
 I love coordinating clothing with parties.  I don't often buy my kids new clothes, but it is a fun excuse.  I also sometimes MAKE them.  I didn't make the actual shirt (Wal-Mart $3.88) but I did the pinwheel on the front and the crown.  I made the crown entirely (if memory serves me right) out of stuff I had from previous projects.  SO MUCH of what I use is bits and pieces of former projects.  I'd LOVE to say that all that stuff is nicely's not.  Thankfully I have a knack for remembering things I've used before.  Sometimes I do spend more than I "should" on an item.  The candles on her cake, for example, were originally $4 for the pack.  However, the pack had 24 candles in it.  I believe I have now used (I have saved some of the burnt ones that were still quite tall) these candles on over 5 cakes.  With still several unused and several re-usable.  That means in the end each party will cost less than $1 (probably in the end less than fifty cents) for candles.  I can handle that.  Is it pack-ratty to save them?  Yep.
 Although we always have close family friends (some with children, some without) at our parties, when our kids turn 5, they get an official "friend" party.  I wish I could find pictures of Snug's, but I don't have the time right now.  I spend more on these parties, but that really is their gift.  They get a small gift, but nothing much.  Again, I use, re-use, thrift, clearance, and borrow.  In this picture you can see the mast.  It is made from our clothesline, a free large cardboard tube from JoAnne fabrics, a tablecloth, and a borrowed Jolly Roger.  The brown paper making the bow and covering the table is leftover from when we moved.  The steering wheel I made out of cardboard that came when I had a large picture printed.  I always save cardboard.  So I had to buy the eye patches and bandannas as party prizes-when you consider that everything else was pretty much free that doesn't seem so bad.
 Again, I had theme dress.  The hat and outfit were hand-me-downs from a friend.  The gun and sword he had picked as his souvenir from Disney (when he decided to have a pirate party).  We all dressed in "theme" for this party,our roles were part of a "play" that was the party.  We used clothing we had, stuff we got from Goodwill, and some small pieces of material I bought from the fabric store.
 Cakes get tricky.  This one was from a Betty Crocker recipe site.  Of course I bought the cake and the accessories at ALDI, but the idea came from there.  Where I spent money here was on the small foil wrapped coins.  I got them at Party City and tried not to notice the price.  I think they were like 15 pieces for $1.  That is crazy.

 Certainly she didn't pick her theme, but it was fun anyway.  Again, Pinterest, knowing a LONG time ahead of time, and clearance.  I chose her theme for her second birthday shortly after her first one!  Her shirt was on clearance for around $2 at JcPenney, her skirt (and one to match her cousin for a subsequent party) I believe was $2.50. I had all but one of the ribbon colors in my ribbon collection and made the bows to match.  If I don't have anything to use my 40% off coupon for JoAnne fabrics, I often pick up a roll of grosgrain ribbon.  Comes in handy come party time to have lots to choose from.
 Pinterest.  ALDI.  Enough said.
 This was probably my most challenging, and least favorite cakes to make.  But he LOVED it.  The Transformers were very hard to use, broke after a couple of weeks, and were a huge disappointment.  I wish now I had just bought some sort of cake topper ones.  I didn't,  thinking it would be more fun to give him Transformers he could actually PLAY with afterwards, but that wasn't the case.  Fail.  He had Transformer plates, cups, and napkins that a friend gave me for the kids to just use.  She had them left after a party.  I saved them and when he said he wanted Transformers, I brought them right out!

Our boys have summer birthdays, so often we are out of town and don't do as much of a planned "party".  Instead we're swimming, hiking, at camp, or doing other fun things.  They don't seem to mind.
 This is Rosebud's most recent party.  It was really fun as I remember having at least one Strawberry Shortcake birthday myself.  I was even planning on bringing out my vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls (because, being a pack rat, I naturally still have them) but TOTALLY forgot.  The plates and napkins that have character print I paid $0.68 for.  That was shipping or tax or something.  Because I had ordered something for my Sunday School class from Oriental Trading Company they called me to do a survey.  Do phone surveys.  They usually come with a reward.  Mine for this was a gift certificate for their online site.  Thus the practically free character serve ware.

The cute buckets/silverware rolls were from a birthday my sister-in-law did for her daughter.  She was kind enough to give me what she had left and I put them to use!
 I love dishes.  When I buy dishes, I buy ones that I like, and that also will be useful for other things.  My "Fiestaware" plates are certainly not.  They're Wal-Mart knock offs.  But I bought them in several festive colors that I can use for different party themes as serving platters.  My cake plate?  $2 at a garage sale.  The green placemat on the table under the cake?  Still from Rosebud's first birthday party and has been used in several.  Sometimes something as little as a placemat makes your table pop.  Many of the other dishes were wedding presents (clear glassware looks nice with pretty much anything) or things I've picked up at garage sales.

Balloons?  Pinterest.  They're red balloons that have cardstock (which I of course have tons on hand from former projects) glued to them and permanent marker "seeds".  Make them the night before, the glue takes a LONG time to dry.
Her apron is a bit droopy here, but she was happy to BE Strawberry Shortcake.  My mom got her the dress at a resale shop and made the apron.  You can't see them in the picture but she has green and white striped adult knee socks that I had bought on clearance after last St. Patty's Day.  I sewed the heel out of them, and on her they were way up her thigh giving the illusion of tights.  Her hat was more money than I'd usually pay for a birthday outfit, but the dear friend who made it sells them for their adoption fund*.  I consider it helping them to adopt AND getting a fun accessory.  Halloween costume for Rosebud?  Check.  

So WHY do I do my kids' parties big?  Because I LOVE it.  Birthdays are special no matter if you have a big bash at a kids' party location, do a simple dinner and cake, or a theme birthday at home.  Every family is different.  I know several people who see my parties as a pain in the neck. Something they'd never ever ever want to plan and do.  Some people think my parties are too expensive (trust me, as I've shown you they are WAY cheaper than they appear), too time consuming (probably true), or too excessive.  I don't think celebrating my kids once a year is too excessive :o)  Overall it is a creative outlet for me and how I show each one they are special.  

Happy Creating!

*If you'd like to order a hat (she has SO SO many styles to choose from, anyone remember LMM's Sock Monkey party hat?) please contact me or leave a comment.  I'll hook you up!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Not An April Fools Prank

It isn't an April fools prank.
Little Dray #5 has a due date of 9/24/14
We will know gender in 37 days.

No, we were not planning this.
Yes, we are happy about it.
Yes, we were a little shell shocked.
Yes, we know where babies come from.
No, we don't want your negative opinions on having more than 2 kids.

We will share the gender, and most likely the name when we find out in early May.

Any guess on gender?  Snug, who seems to have a knack for this sort of thing, predicts girl.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Long Winter

Snug and I are reading "On the Banks of Plum Creek" right now, and I keep thinking we should have read "The Long Winter".  (Both titles are part of the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)

I love winter.  I love seasons in general.  Spring is a bit...rainy...but it promises new things to come!  In the winter I want snow.  I hate those winters where it is in the high 30's, low 40's and rainy.  Brown, bleak, blech.  That certainly hasn't been this winter!!!!  We've had tons of snow, and I am not complaining.  The temperatures, well, they're a bit drastic.  We've been in the negative temperatures so much.  The kids want to be out in the snow, but often the temperature doesn't allow that.  Or maybe I'm just too careful.  I'm all for them being out when it is 25-30 degrees without windchill, but negative fifteen?  No.  Negative 30? NONE of us are going outside.

This morning as we all piled into our 15 passenger van (our regular mini-van needs to see a doctor but for lack of time and fear of cost we haven't bit the bullet yet) I had 4 kids BAWLING.  Sweet Pea cries pretty much all the time, so that's nothing new, and after being up all night with her throwing up I knew she was tired as was her roommate Rosebud.  But the boys were crying.  LOUDLY.  I finally got out of them that they were cold.  Their hands were cold trying to get on seat belts and the van, which cannot fit into the garage, takes longer to warm up.  I heard anguishing cries of "I HATE THIS.  I HATE WINTER.  WINTER GO AWAY!!!" coming from the backseat.  I tried not to laugh.  It sounded like all of the posts from friends on Facebook.

This afternoon Rosebud accompanied LMM as he went to feed the dogs.  They'd been out about three minutes when I heard an anguishing cry "It's no use Rosebud (which of course he doesn't call her)!  I just can't.  It's too cold!  I hate the snow!!!"  I guess things weren't going well and he was just giving up.  I brought him in, warmed his hands, gave him a different game plan, and he succeeded.  Oh the drama of it all.

Five more weeks of winter?  I think that's right.  Personally I'm tired of the extreme cold, not the snow, but for my children's sake...COME ON SPRING!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chew On This

This is a "I'm on my soapbox post".  You've been warned.

Something that has bothered me for quite some time has come to a head this basketball season.  With kids' sports seems to come a special "snack" (what we would call a treat at our house) at the end of each game.  It has bothered me, but I don't like to make a {big} ruckus, so I've kept my head down and just participated.  No more.

I read an article a few months ago...I don't remember where.  A magazine?  Facebook post?  Another blog?  Can't remember.  Anyway, it was written by a concerned mom who was trying to get her child's sports association to ban junky treats and instead give the kids nutritious fare.  (remember when one mom was chosen to bring oranges to soccer?  I do).  The problem is, everyone has a different idea of "nutritious".  I don't buy all organic produce, and for some people, that is one step away from insanity. I'm practically killing my kids.   However, my kids don't drink juice, pop, or eat much candy.  Many people we know think we are one step away from child abusers-kill-joys at best.

I know everyone will be completely thrown off guard to find out that LMM has diagnosis of ADHD.  Quite a shocker.  Not.  Anyway, it doesn't define him, just like his sensory processing disorder doesn't define him.  It is who he is, and it just means we need to find other avenues to help him function in situations other children don't find hard.  I share this because maybe some of the things I've found can help other parents.  Although it doesn't define him, we felt like finding out for sure would help us decide how to best help him be in control of himself and be able to focus.  I'm not going to take this particular opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of medicating.  I have some strong opinion on this (another HUGE shock) but that's not what this is about.  It is about diet.

After doing some research and working with a psychologist, we have decided to modify his diet and give him a natural supplement.  We have seen some great changes!  In fact, he has been so much better focused that he has started kindergarten!  One thing we kept seeing over and over was that food dyes, sugars, processed foods, high starch foods, and fruits can all trigger ADHD symptoms.  They are not what is best for the brain and they can really affect these kids.  Another interesting thing was that a lot of dairy can also aggravate the system.

We switched to whole milk, absolutely nothing low-fat, and no hydrogenated oils within the last year.  This is also way better for his brain.  High protein diets (but not peanut butter) work well for many ADHD kids.

LMM now has very limited dairy, very very few processed foods or white starches, a reduced amount of fruit, more veggies, and more meat/eggs/tree nuts.  He also drinks as much water as he can consume.  We've seen a great change in him just from that.  So much so, in fact, he doesn't take his supplement unless he is going to church or preschool (he's finishing out the year along with doing kindergarten at home).

But then basketball season started.  We pay $8/kid to the concession stand for the season and after each game they get to pick out $1.00 worth of garbage, I mean "snacks", before they go home.  I didn't think much of it till the first game when I saw what the choices were.  HOLY COW.  They have a choice of about 20 kinds of candy like Snickers, M&Ms, sour gummy candies, fruit snacks (which are very often even worse for kids than candy), and there are about 10 kinds of chips.  Along with that they get a juice box.  Most of them are kool-aid type things.  Some are the Roarin' Waters that have "less sugars".  I CRINGE every time someone tells me those are better for kids.  That or something sugar-free.  If they are going to stick it in packaging of any kind and call it sugar-free or less sugar means they put some HORRID chemical in there to make it taste better.  They don't encourage the kids to have pop.  Well, that is at least a good thing.

At the first game I realized we never should have paid the money, I'm not sure why we did.  I guess because the coaches said "bring $8" and I blindly agreed.  But there was a silver lining.  There was some fruit and I asked if they could have that instead.  I guess I grew a third eye, but the lady said "um...I guess so".  That was for LMM's 8:30 game-I think looking back now they have it there in case someone didn't have breakfast.  It sits next to the Pop Tarts.  When it came time for Snug to go up, there was still fruit and when he asked for that HE had a third eye, but the lady (different one for each game) then said "Wow.  Yes."  I was a happy mama.  I felt my $1/per game could have bought WAY more fruit than they were getting, but for LMM who now has his fruit consumption limited this was a big treat, and for either boy they like to walk up with the rest of the team and get something.  Who wouldn't?

Second game rolls around, and I have to say after doing that Saturday alone (#1 had SWAT) AND it being picture day which meant and extra 2 hours there and super cranky kids, I wasn't feeling my most gracious.  LMM had his game, got his fruit, and we were good.  Snug had his game, and there was no more fruit.  I could see him standing there getting really red in the face so I went over.  He had asked for fruit and they said "no, pick something else".  They were annoyed he was taking so long, so I tried to explain he didn't eat any of the other food choices they had.  She said "how about just 2 juice boxes.  All kids drink those".  I asked if he could just have his dollar back for this week and they denied that flat out.  Finally the lady there said "well, what DOES he eat?".  Well, the mama bear in me got all riled, up.  I'm not proud of it, but I, being very tired, very human, and very sinful replied "Eggs.  Milk.  Water. Veggies.  Fruit.  Real food".  The lady then looks at my 7 year old and snarkily says "want a bottle of water?"  He then had tears in his eyes.  I felt SO BAD.  I wanted to just give in and let him have whatever.  But he had 3 sibling standing there, one of whom REALLY shouldn't be eating that stuff.  They have a popcorn machine and they let him have a bag of that, which I felt was a fair compromise.

Next year, we are NOT sending in the money.  I'll have little carrots and hummus, cut up fruit (maybe even something special and off-season we don't get in the winter), or mixed nuts.  When it comes to baseball in the spring, same deal.  We won't be on the list to bring "snack" and we won't be taking any from other families when they bring it.  We'll bring our own.

Here's the deal.  That junk is SO bad for their bodies.  Do they get it sometimes?  Yes.  Usually when I'm too tired to fight or afraid of ruining a relationship with someone.  I hate it.  Do my kids ever eat chips?  Yes, once in awhile.  Certainly not once a week.  Do they get juice boxes?  They have in the past, but I won't be buying any.  At a birthday party they might get some (really watered down) lemonade.  We see birthdays as special occasions and know that they will get more junk than normal.  But that is part of the fun, something to look forward to.  If they have a steady diet of junk, then they just absent-mindedly eating it.  Sometimes they get a little (again, WATERED down) hot chocolate after playing out in the snow, but more often than not it is hot tea.

And we're not perfect and I try not to look down on parents who daily fill their kids with sugars and preservatives.  But sugars are literally cancer foods.  Preservatives do NOTHING good for the GI tract, brain, or bowel.  Artificial colors are terrible for you.  I'd rather they enjoy a little on their birthday cake than have it all the time.

Lest you think our kids hate us for this, they don't.  Snug said he was trying not to cry because "I know mom that that stuff is bad for kids and can make them sick.  I wanted you to be proud of me".  Oh buddy, I am.

Here's another thing.  Maybe you don't see those things as bad.  I've heard so many parents say "oh, but they need to refuel after the game."  They're not playing varsity here people.  Here's an example.  You can calculate for your own kid/sport here:
(on the far left near the bottom you can pick your sport, if the link doesn't work, let me know)

I put in LMM's weight, sport, and duration (he is on the floor about 18minutes).  In his game he burns, an average, of 45.72 calories.  A juice box alone averages 90 calories!!!  That includes the 100% juice kind.  I found my calorie counter on
That doesn't even take into account the snack he'd get with it.  Lets say he picks fruit snacks.  That would be 70.  So now he has burned 45.72 and consumed 160.  That really doesn't make sense.  Also, there are ZERO nutritional benefits to either of those foods.

If I give him a banana it is 110 calories, but it is also full of vitamins, fiber, and not processed.  Switch it up to almonds and the serving size I give him is 90 calories...and almonds are a GREAT brain food for him.  They help him settle down and we've added those and walnuts to his daily diet.

Stepping off my soapbox.  I know I'm "that mom" but my kids are worth it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rosebud The Author

We are homeschooling Snug and recently Little Monkey Man started Kindergarten.  However, he still attends preschool three days a week (we do more school with him in the PM) and Rosebud goes two days a week.  

We love our preschool; they always do great things with the kids.  Hallway art and creative writing pieces to go with them always are fun to see.  It's interesting to read both your child's "writing" (it is really dictation) and see what their peers have to say.  It gets better throughout the year as you actually get to know the other parents and children.  Sometimes we all have a good laugh at a particular piece while waiting in line for pick up.  One child was going to give his mother vitamins for Christmas-that got a chuckle.  

Today I read Rosebud's on the way IN to her classroom.  I'm going to share it with you, but it means more to #1 and I than anyone else really.  I literally had tears running down my cheeks I was laughing so hard.  Rosebud's teachers thought something was wrong.  I choked out that I had just read her latest writing piece and they started busting up as well. Because they know her well.  Because, really, her piece pretty much sums up life with Rosebud at this particular junction in life.  

I will try and explain some of the more...interesting parts...and will (put my words in italics).  Her lead teacher wrote down exactly what she said, but prompted a couple of times to get the story moving example:  how did it feel? what did you do?.  She had to ask Rosebud to slow down as her words were just tumbling right out of her.  Here goes.

My Snowy Day

On my snowy day I played with my brothers and my sister Sweet Pea (obviously she used her real name) and my mama and dada.  We played and I build a snowman.  It was little and tiny.  And it was Baby Otter.  Belle Otter...Belle Otter that what the name was. (Belle Otter is what she insists we call HER these days.  Belle as in Beauty and the Beast, and Otter as in...the animal.)  I wore a hat and boots and a scarf and I weared a coat.  My feet felt cold in my boots (note to self...).  The snow felt cold and I ate it!  It was salty.  I got boogie in it and I love it like that! (GAG.  GAG GAG GAG.)  I saw snow outside and our house and our neighbors.  And our other neighbors.  (Just in case you didn't know that when it snowed the entire neighborhood is affected.)  I heard Belle Otter.  (This part confuses me as she is normally Belle Otter, but now the snowman is and she can HEAR it?) She was swimming at the museum where we go and see the otters. (We do have otters at our children's museum, but she has some stellar hearing as it is about 15 minutes away-also wasn't it a snowman?)  I love the otters!  I heard mommy and daddy talking to each other outside too.  (I'm not sure but I think that the teacher may have cut her off at this was getting a little off topic.  And perhaps it wasn't best to post on the hallway wall a private conversation she apparently overheard between my husband and myself.)

So there you go.  It was quite an...interesting...piece.  But such an insight into her life.  From her alter ego, to her recent snowman building (hers had a ton of sticks protruding from it...eyes, nose, arms, belly button...a very scary looking beast it was) to our trips to the museum, and apparently her eavesdropping skills!

 A side note, mostly for my own records, she now weighs a whopping 28 1/2 pounds and will be 4 in April.  She is just shy of 39".  Maybe by her birthday she'll be ready to not be rear facing.  (She isn't, they changed that recommendation from 2 years to 30 pounds after we had already switched her)

Friday, January 3, 2014


Oh my heavens.

My heart is still pounding as I type this.  My hands are shaking.  And I had to share.

A few months ago our cat, Oliver, caught a Deer Mouse in the backyard.  I saw it happen and threw a sand pail on the mouse and shooed Oliver away.  One of the things I do like about our cat (there are many I don't) is that he is a good rodent cat.  We rarely have moles, mice, or other varmints in our yard.  I intended to keep it long enough to show the kids, but showed #1 first.

The way #1 tells it is all wrong.  He says this was all my idea.  Nope.  HE was the one who suggested we keep it, not me.  I was surprised, but after all he loved rodents when he was a kid, so I shouldn't have been too surprised.  He'll tell you it was me, but I was on a catch and release mission.  Anyway, into a cage it went.  We've fed it peanuts, cheerios, and birdseed ever since.

This morning I am cleaning out the homeschool room.  It has become a dumping ground in the last couple of weeks, and the boys slept on the floor in there for a few days while we had company.  We start back to school on Monday and I would like a nice clean slate.  Snug is 1/2 way done with his school year and LMM is going to start kindergarten here soon.  A clean well-organized room motivates me more than anything else.

I decided to start with cleaning the mouse (Ralph) cage first since the shavings get everywhere and it tends to be the messiest job.  We rarely see Ralph.  He is nocturnal and rarely makes an appearance.  He's been a rather disappointing classroom pet on my part.  He usually hides in a small wicker ball that came with his cage.  When you clean his cage you have to be fast-I don't pick him up by hand as I don't really want to be bit.  I make sure he is in his ball and then quickly scoop it up and put it in a hamster ball we have-the whole thing fits inside and then I pop the top on.  I have to be fast because otherwise he runs out of his wicker ball and runs wildly around his cage for awhile.  This time he didn't make an appearance, even in the blue plastic exercise ball.  As I cleaned the cage I was becoming convinced that he had passed.

I was starting to feel a little sentimental that our Ralph had died and deciding how to break it to the kids.  Then, in a sick way, I was happy.  Now we could get something a little  Something actually fun to watch!  As I was by this time convinced he was dead, I didn't quickly stick the wicker (ok, it isn't wicker, but I don't know how to describe it otherwise) ball back into the cage.  I was deciding if I should just empty the contents into the trash.

SHOOT!  That stupid mouse was not dead, he had instead been sleeping or something and sprang out of that ball like a shot and was clinging to my HAIR!  Gotta say I didn't keep my cool and then all the kids came running as did the cat.  That stupid mouse dropped to the floor and was running all over the room.  He then ran under the door and out into the hall.  I had grabbed the cat by this time and when the mouse ran in the boys' room I had them close the door and shove dirty clothes in the crack underneath to keep it contained.

After about 15 minutes of furniture moving and LMM being my rodent spotter I finally put a pencil box over him and he is back in the cage.  STUPID STUPID mouse.