Thursday, November 21, 2013

Warm and Fuzzy.


Do your children ever fight?

Of course they do, right? Or is this just something I say to console myself as I watch our living room turn into a regular scene of You Tube chicken fights?

Your kids probably don't fight. They pick up their toys and never talk back and then run off to spend most of their free time quietly reading contentedly or riding their pet unicorns around the gumdrop tree in the backyard that really does grow dollar bills. That would be just my luck.

However, if you're a struggler like me and constantly blaming your genetics or your own flaming temper or your lack of parental savvy in banishing the squabble of unruly children, allow me to share one little craft that could make a minimal but positive impact in your home. Just channel all of that frustrated anxiety and lack of know-how into shopping expenditures at Micheal's. It's remarkably cathartic. All those foam sticker charts and puffy paints can serve as concrete evidence to any passerby that even if you technically have no idea what you're doing as a parent, you're at least damn good at faking it. And if you're feeling really biotchy, pin it to your Pinterest boards for all the other parents out there to see. Ha ha ha, suckas.

I give you, our Warm and Fuzzy Jars...

Last summer, I happened upon this idea and thought we should implement it in our home. Normally, our girls get chore money when they complete all of their responsibilities in the house. These are given in the form of green cards throughout the week (it's green paper I cut into strips. it's morphed into prized currency in our household. each green card is worth a quarter OR ten minutes of staying up past bedtime - their choice). We also have red cards for naughty behavior...which can represent going to time out for ten minutes, an extra chore, or cleaning under Mom's toenails and eating whatever toe-jam they find. Fine, the last one isn't for real but there are days I swear they not only DESERVE it, but it would probably be enormously effective.


However, I felt like I wanted to give them more positive recognition for good behaviors outside of this red card/green card system. Something to encourage nicer behavior, kinder interaction with others - especially their sisters. Enter The Warm and Fuzzy Jars. The girls each got to paint and personalize their own glass jars. Each time I observe a kind act, or a nice word, or a helping hand from them, I tell them it made me feel warm and fuzzy so they get a fuzzy poof ball in their jar. Once the jar is filled, they get to pick an activity to do all by themselves with Mom or Dad.


And! As a bonus, when they congratulate each other for receiving a warm and fuzzy, they can earn an ADDITIONAL warm and fuzzy.
Case in point: London or Lily will frequently get jealous and angry when they see that the other has earned a warm and fuzzy. Gosh, WOMEN. You can never just celebrate another female's accomplishments, can ya? The best part is that they are still female children, and as such haven't mastered the art of masking their unmistakable envy into passive-aggressive commentary or frenemy tactics. Instead their faces inevitably contort into obvious despair and they fold their arms into their chest and screech. I have to say I appreciate the open vulnerability. In fact, I'm going to revert back to my natural inclinations and give it a try. Next time I see another EFFING blogger renovate another EFFING gorgeous house in EFFING Europe I'm going to sit down and screech until I feel better. It will probably be healthier than the usual trip to TJ Maxx to buy yet another vase stamped with some fake French provincial print on it anyways.

The best example was when London explosively screamed "I hate you!" at Lily right after Lily received a warm and fuzzy for doing something nice FOR LONDON. Exactly. This is the kind of curve ball kids inevitably throw at good parenting technique. Someday, when I am summoned to their future therapist's office, I will defend myself: Yes, yes, I TRIED the warm and fuzzy positive reinforcement yada yada bullCRAP, but because of it they started shouting that they HATED each other, so we stopped ALL recognition of good behavior. I've had it with all your new agey fuzzy lovey dovey sticker charts when what I really needed was a wood shed and a tree branch...

So....anyways. Where was I? Oh yes... In an effort to combat the jealous primal rage provoked by the recognition of another's happiness, we award the efforts to join in and celebrate that happiness. It's kind of hilarious. I will notice London helping Ellie Jane clean up her toys and inform her that she earned a warm and fuzzy. Lily will overhear from the other room and come running in, "Wow! GREAT JOB LONDON! GOOD FOR YOU!"
Which means that Lily ALSO earns a warm and fuzzy for her jar for giving London a nice {bribery induced} pat on the back.
To which London responds, "Wow! GREAT JOB LILY! GOOD FOR YOU!"
and they continuously congratulate each other ad nauseum until I kindly remind them that the cycle ends after the first congratulation. Nice try ladies, nice try.




It's been working as well as can be expected. It's still a little erratic, inconsistent, and immensely hopeful. Kinda like their mama.



{{oh man, if they aren't just the cutest little chicken fighters}}





Monday, November 18, 2013

Meal Planning Mondays: top o' the mornin' to ya.

{ellie jane's birthday pancakes for breakfast, last week}

Do you like a hearty, indulgent breakfast on the weekend?

What kind of question is that? Of course you do. Who doesn't?
My only issue is that I always want to go back to bed right after a big breakfast. So truthfully, it is rare when I'll eat a plate of pancakes or french toast for breakfast. Which is a tragedy on so many levels when I think about it. Parenthood just doesn't provide the opportunity for sleep that a lazy, Saturday morning body needs. I keep fantasizing about Tyler and I's next anniversary getaway, in just oh...ELEVENish months. Hotel, nice robes, big luxurious breakfasts with five stack banana pancakes oozing with butter and syrup....siiiiiigh.  Hold on Rae, just 
hhhhhhhold on!


A friend recently invited us to her house for a Friday morning breakfast get-together. Her text read, 
"House dirty 
Making cinnamon rolls
Bring what you can and come on over"

Ya know, I have to say that text summarized the most basic three part criteria for me to fall completely in love with a friend.We went, as did a few other moms. Our kids played and we ate a smattering of really yummy food and chatted and for that Friday morning, all was right with the world.

Here's to more breakfast clubs!

{ pancakes and cartoons, welcome to childhood.}







.....................................................................................................


Now, time for
Meal ideas!:
{click on titles for links to recipes}

Let's start with breakfast:

I made a modified version of these with a standard pancake mix. Just add a cup of pumpkin puree, some pumpkin pie spice blend (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves), and a couple of smashed bananas to your normal pancake recipe. More nutritious than plain old pancakes (insert: pat on back).


I love any recipe that can be doubled and frozen for later.


K, kinda a weird segue of food photos but,
moving on to Dinner, here's what's on our menu:


I finally invested in individual, large bowls in order to serve one-bowl meals to the family. I grabbed a bag of chopsticks too. Man, we are just so authentic now its unbelievable. 


Made this on Friday. My kids always complain about the amount of veggies destroying the glory of what they understand pizza to be {ie, little Caesars five dollar pizza}, but I won't give up. Exposure equals preference, exposure equals preference, exposure equals preference! Remember that folks! It's brain science, read it here in this great book.


kay, let me explain this one. I've fallen in love with Asian food over the past few years, and one of the reasons is that the food is healthy AND so, unbelievably tasty. There is an ancient Eastern medicine system that talks about The Six Tastes, which was believed to provide the perfect balance to a meal. If you experienced each of these tastes, your body was receiving nutritional balance. They were sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent. In my wannabe foodie experience, no where do you find that combination illustrated more beautifully than in Asian meals. Tom Kha Soup is one of them. Multi- levels of flavor and FRIGGIN DELICIOUS. It's not your average soup. 
The recipe here is one of my favorites but you'll need to quadruple it because she only makes it for one serving (seriously? i know.) You don't have to be really particular with the measurements though so give it a try and play around with it. A few substitutions I made:
instead of water, use chicken broth
instead of kaffir lime leaves, use grated lime zest
instead of galangal, use fresh ginger
instead of fried tofu, use shredded rotisserie chicken


....................................................................................


Happy Meal Planning!
Now go feed your family whydontcha:)







Wednesday, November 13, 2013

On ToothFairies.




I want to talk about this kid now.





Cuz really. She is just the bees knees.

I have to say, I really think the most amazing, miraculous, blow-my-mind part of motherhood has been the experience of witnessing how my very own, singular heart can beat in such multiple, separate, distinctive, infinitive ways for each of my children.


Last week, she lost her second tooth. It was a BIG DEAL. As always.

She insisted she didn't want to give it to the tooth fairy. Instead, she said she was going to make a necklace out of it. Okay then, said I.


.
.
.
I should have known.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.
I am her MOTHER. I have been RAISING this child.
How could I have not seen this coming from a mile away?!
.
.
.
.
.

{Finn and Lily, buds.}
.
.
.
.


The next morning, she stormed accusingly, triumphantly, indignantly! through my bedroom door and announced:

" A HAAAA! THERE. IS. NO. TOOTH. FAIRY."

"Whattttttt? What are you talking about Lu?"

She squinted her eyes knowingly at me as she pointed at my face and explained,

"Last night. Last NIGHT. I PUT MY TOOTH UNDER MY PILLOW. And guess what? THE TOOTH FAIRY DIDN'T COME. I tricked YOU."


{{......son of a gun!!??! Think fast think fast think fast think fast. Outwitted by a seven year old. AGAIN.....}}

{shrug nonchalantly}

"Hmm. That's odd. Very interesting."

I stroked my chin with my thumb pensively, setting a real nice Sherlock Holmes vibe to the scene.

"Well, did you say you wanted her to come OUT LOUD?"

"Huh? 
No.
Why did I need to say it out loud?"

"Well, because, ahem, you know...well, EVERYBODY KNOWS really...that if you declare OUT LOUD that you DON'T want the tooth fairy to come, when really you DO, then you must reverse that declaration by saying OUT LOUD again that you DO indeed want her to come."

{silence. stare down. don't blink don't blink don't blink. she's been able to smell insecurity since her infancy}

"Why?"

"Because think about it, Lu. For all she knew you wanted to STORE it under your pillow. As a keepsake?A good luck charm? Something to give you good dreams? The tooth fairy isn't going to go swiping it, STEALING teeth that she expressly OVERHEARD is not intended for her taking. You know."**

{hold the gaze. hold it hold it hold it hold it.}
{**if there is some sort of existential Hell for all the unethical liarface santa claus toothfairy easter bunny parents out there, i have just consigned my fate to it for eternity. whatever, sign me up. but i'm not going down without a fight.}



The stare down continued for another minute. Until, a slow surrender,  marked by a single raised brow and a suspicious glare as she ssslowly paced backwards out of my bedroom. It was Lily's signature I've got your number signal.

PHHHHHEW. Can't screw this up. Kid's going to be up watching like a HAWK {or Haack? cccclever!} all night.

I'm doomed.

...................................................................................

Later, after a hectic day, I crashed into my bed around midnight. Settled into my pillow ready for sleep when luckily I suddenly jolted to attention! Tooth fairy time!!!!! I ran downstairs and grab a $5 bill (a bit of a raise, call it a guilty late fee}. I sneaked into her room and found her breathing to the heavy, rhythmic beat of deep slumber. The contours of her ever developing, beautiful features still encase the last remnants of the cherubic baby-face I've studied nightly for seven years. I peeked under her pillow to feel around for the tooth. I felt a small box. I quickly slipped the $5 bill under and tip-toed out of the room.

As I stepped out into the light of the hallway I opened my hand to see a miniature Milk Dud box, wrapped in construction paper like a miniature gift. I unwrapped the contents to find her tooth wrapped in a miniature note that she had composed with extra-miniature handwriting.

Dear Toothfairy,

Thank you for my teeth.
This is for you.

Love,
Lily

And inside she had tucked a coppery, shiny penny. 


And at that moment, past midnight, holding her mini Milk Dud box and sweet note and little tooth and shiny penny,

I cried.



.................................................................................


Dear Lily,

This toothfairy thanks you.

{And loves you, more than any other sparkly Toothfairy biotch
 with wings and a big silvery tutu ever could.}

Love,

Mom












Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The last bits of October.


I have no business posting today, so I'm going to make it quick. I have a few final papers due soon, and let me tell you what a BAD IDEA it was to re-enroll in school to {finally!!} finish my degree. First of all, I crave school and learning in the same way I crave Krispy Kreme glazed, not hot (i know, weird but true) donuts. Every now and then, I'll eat 7 in one sitting, get deliriously nauseous, sleep it off and have no desire to return for around five months. But dang it if the stupid gosh darn university system refuses to let me operate in this manner. It's like I'm being force fed donuts every single day. Talk about taking all the fun out of binge behavior. Sheez.

My sister and I had a conversation the other day in which we devised the worlds most ingenious Momsterversity system. It involved the combination of dropping your children off on the same campus to attend their school while you go with other mom friends to attend lectures in your school on that same campus, and if you have babies you drop them off in the baby center where there are one of those see-through windows only on your side so you can watch your cute babies play adjacent to your classroom. And, AND, there are comfy chairs and headsets in a quiet-room if you need to feed/nurse your babies so you can sit and still listen to the professor speak. Then, around noon-ish, all the kids and babies and moms gather in the quad to eat lunch and play tether ball. Wait, did I just describe a MomsterUniversity or heaven?

Or, fine... I suppose you could just finish college before having children. But where's the adventure in that?!

Gosh, it's such a damn paradox. Because I promise you this, MOMS are better students than students. 
I'm a better student now than I was in my younger days for sure. I appreciate the learning process so much more. In fact, I just think our brains aren't ready to consider the enormous privilege of education till we're past 25 anyways. Before that, the female species is just too obsessed with thigh size and calorie counting and bootwear and sororities and selling their birthright for a mess of pathetic boyfriend pottage. I realize I'm blowing your mind with all of these highly scientific elaborations, but really. You might want to Google check my assumptions or whatever, but I'm almost CERTAIN they are correct. I think we may be combining the optimal timing of cognitive development, emotional maturity, peak fertility, and education in a wonky manner, is alls I'm sayin'.

So I guess, compared to motherhood, textbooks and research papers and final exams become a total bbbbbreeeze. However, I cannot lie, the combination of the two is sort of a nightmare. No, I take that back. It IS A NIGHTMARE.

Oh well, such is the course I've decided to charter. On good days I believe I can do anything. On not so good days I console myself with my Grandma's hopeful reminder that No life is ever wasted, you can always serve as a bad example.

Back to the grind...



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To My Ellie Jane.


Happy Birthday Ellie Jane!

I realize that one day you will actually read these posts as an adult  and possibly inquire red-faced as to why I posted this on your third birthday post:
{ellie's recreational diversions: climbing on top of the AC unit to feel the breeze a la natural. And don't deny it, you know it must be totally awesome. Awww, to be so free, sigh...}

to which I will simply respond, have you read any other posts? Is there anything MORE Ellie than this purist, this adventurous, this a la natural Ellie jane? 

Of course, I am hopeful that this unabashed love of being and zest for existence will culminate in activities that do not constantly involve nudity, but for now I'm basking in it and all it represents about having you as my child.

You are the free-est, happiest little Spirit. Your essence is joy, and you've been drowning us in it since the day of your birth.

Gosh, I'm so lucky. How does a mother get so lucky?


 Today you've turned three.
Which, by the way, you refuse to accept.
You've informed everyone, and I mean everyone we've encountered today, that you are five. And when they try to correct you, you firmly raise your hand in five widely stretched fingers, with raised eyebrows,  an incredulous half smile, and a penetrating stare that seems to telepathically transmit the following response: 
did I studder

The attempt at correction suddenly ceases, and quite miraculously, everyone is in agreement. 
Okaaay then...the kid says she's five. (?)

So hey, way to reach for the stars I guess, even if it means appearing a little deluded. I like that about you.;)



Oh my ellie, ellie, ellie.

We love you so.

Happy Birthday, you adorable three/five year-old.

Love,

Mama


...............................................................................................................

A peek into the past:







Monday, November 4, 2013

Meal Planning Mondays: Guess who's having a nervous breakdown?!!!



I feel the need to disclose these photos.

Do you feel better about yourself?

You're welcome.

Just look. at. my. house.

But it gets better! Oh yes! Because guess who went CRAY.ZEEEE. this weekend? Me, that's who!
I was the epitome of exhausted, stressed, anxious, overwhelmed. In fact, I have no business even using the term "was" as if this is the past tense we're speaking of. I am.

And of course the target of all of my frustrations ended up directed at my { rather amazing} husband. Cuz who else is bound by sacred vows to deal with all your crap, am I right or am I right?! {hint, not right.} Let's just say I ruined not ONE but TWO consecutive attempts at a date night. It was dysfunction at its finest. And not in some cute indie, focus feature film kind of way. My psychoticness didn't have a single ounce of Zooey Deschanel's I'm so weird and keep saying bizarre things entirely outside of rational social contexts with my batty eyes and blank stares but Joseph Gordon-Levitt still can't help but adore me charm. 


But I can write about this now because we've made peace. Erg, I said I'm sorry. And People of the World, I HATE saying I'm sorry. Because I'm rarely, like ever...almost NEVER... wrong. {winky face}
But ya gots to do what ya gots to do. 
And I married a patient, forgiving man {much needed}. 

And as a crazy side note, I kid you not, the moment we entered church yesterday, while still argumentative and secretly fuming with each other, we walked into the chapel just as our bishop stood up spontaneously and announced that he had read an important article that he wanted to share titled TEN WAYS TO LOVE YOUR SPOUSE AND HAVE A HAPPY MARRIAGE.

{Geez, God. You think You're rrrreal funny.}

It reminded me of my childhood, driving to church on Sunday with the family crammed into our old Suburban. Basically, at times it was nothing more than approx 97 thousand people arguing, yelling, complaining, running late (as usual), missing a shoe or set of scriptures or an actual child. (Wait, where's Sarah?!!!) Only to enter the church and hear the hymn...wait for it wait for it!:

Love at Home 

There is beauty all around, when there's love at home.
There is joy in every sound, when there's love at home.
Peace and plenty here abide, smiling sweet on every side.
Time doth softly, sweetly glide, when there's love at home.


Nobody wanted to admit it, but we could kinda hear Jesus up in heaven going

BA BAM!


{oh look! children playing in the garbage area! unclothed! imagine that.}



So, yeah. 

Balance is hard, my friends. The journey is challenging, the ride gets bumpy, the highs are high and the lows can be low, and all that good stuff.

Hey Tyler, I love you. 
Thanks for always helping me clean up the mess.


Happy Monday!

.................................................................................................................

Meal ideas!:

Vegetarian with flavor!

Because chicken can get really boring sometimes...

When I saw this recipe I said ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It's like all of my food fantasies have finally manifested in the form of a taco.

Medication for aforementioned nervous breakdown. Best taken around 1am with a glass of milk and a bad attitude.