Wednesday, November 2, 2011

12 Days of Christmas --- Dinner Ideas


If I plan a menu through the month of December (back in October), will it make the holidays go by with a little less stress? Just wondering because I'm so am hoping for that!

While jotting dinner ideas on my calendar I started thinking it would be fun to serve up some sort of food for those 12 days counting down to Christmas. (Yes, here I am, making a simple idea complicated again!) So, I've browsed from time to time, all the way up to Halloween, and now, before completing my menu, I can't help but share all my research with you! So, have a look, then share your ideas with me!

(BTW, I thought this video of the MOTAB singing the 12 Days of Christmas will be a fun way to start Day 1.)


    Day 1 --- Partridge in a Pear Tree

Fresh Pears (This is a nicely presented!)



Day 2 --- Turtle Doves

Turtle Cake --- This is beautiful! (However, I will use this chocolate cake recipe instead --- it's super easy to make, you don't need coffee an it's one of our favorites.) I think I'll have a scope of vanilla ice cream with that!


Day 3 --- French Hens

Stuffed Cornish Hens (2 hours), Apricot-Glazed Cornish Hens (for glaze only)



Day 4 --- Calling Birds actually "Colly Birds" (means blackbird/crow)

Calling Bird Cut-out Cookies
  • Buy or cut out a bird shaped stencil. Spread cream cheese on crackers and use the stencil for things like finely chopped chives, black olive, paprika, chopped egg yolk, to make the birds on top.
  • Colly Bird Pie (I think I'll make 2 pies some night soon and freeze one of those for later --- or --- I might just make a regular old pot pie and make reference to the children's rhyme with blackbirds baked in a pie.)

Day 5 --- Golden Rings


  • gold-foil wrapped chocolate bells (for ringing)
  • oranges sliced into rings
  • onion rings with a hamburger
  • Cowboy Donuts (for 5 golden glazed doughnuts --- or glazed will work)
  • Christmas Bread Wreath (for breakfast)

Day 6 --- Geese-a-Laying
Duck Egg and Brussels Sprouts Hash (I'll just use hen eggs from the store...)

Day 7 --- Swans-a-Swimming


Swan Cream Puffs


Day 8 --- Maids-a-Milking
Milk Duds, Popcorn and a Family Christmas Movie (But, what's for dinner?)
  • something with lots of milk (i.e. cheese, custard, yogurt)
  • Chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream
  • Tres Leches Cake

Day 9 --- Ladies Dancing


Pink Ladies (With so many sweets, just make 1/2 a batch --- these are rich and oh, so good.)
  • Pink Lady apples (can use to make Raw Apple Crisp, Apple Cider (juice the apples through a juicer)/Wassail, apple pie)
  • Gingerbread Ladies (1, 2, 3, 4) --- Can be baked and frozen until Day 9!

Day 10 --- Lords-a-Leaping


Chicken a la King (can make double and freeze extra for the 10th Day)

Day 11 --- Pipers Piping


Snowman Stew (Make 11 snowmen with little pipes drawn on with mustard.) I will use this slow cooker Beef Stew recipe because we like it and it's pretty easy, I'll just add the snowmen towards the end of the cooking time, maybe even pour it into a casserole dish... but that might be complicating a simple idea. Here's some good crusty bread to serve with it.)

Day 12 --- Drummers Drumming


California Rolls --- video (These are drum shaped, add something for drumsticks ---  chopsticks?) These can be made a day ahead. (Serve with instant Miso Soup and steamed veggies.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick-or-Treat!


I finished the bat wings just in time, even with a broken sewing machine. Payton's smile made it all worth while. (Those are glow sticks in his wings, purple even, his favorite color these days, but the picture just doesn't show it.)


I signed up to bring treats to his school class and was asked to bring veggies. I wasn't sure how creative I could get with those --- good thing for Google --- I found something easy enough. The hardest part was coming up with a little container small enough for the nose. (Yeah, I found one!) I also signed up to bring treats to Alyssa's class, but, it turns out that I guess that meant I was staying to help with the party! Ohhhhhh... so, I would bring cupcakes still... but, the teacher wants the kids to decorate them! Okay... I guess I can do that too...

I don't know why I didn't get a picture, the cupcakes were really cute with a spider web in the icing and a spider ring stuck on top. But here's her class playing musical chairs to Halloween music.


And here are my two monsters after a quick dinner, ready to TRICK-OR-TREAT!


Alyssa's is a witch for the 3rd year in a row. My mom sewed us matching costumes and left room for my little girl to grow with it. Doesn't she make a darling witch!


The weather was cool, yet, nice for this time of year. We trick-or-treated our neighborhood down to their school where they were having a trunk-or-treat. We ran into some of our friends there.



Then we trick-or-treated our way back home. Some people where very creative in decorating their house. These were some of our favorites:




We got TOO MUCH CANDY! (Almost 2 buckets full each!) I told them so too and asked them to just keep their favorites --- we needed to get rid of the rest. And they did --- without complaining (and with a little help). YEAH! Now they've got 1/2 a bucket each (as if that isn't too much!)

We hope your Halloween was fun too!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bat Wings

Today begins another attempt at turning my son into a vampire bat. Last Halloween, I gave up when I couldn't get the wings to work. He was so disappointed. I felt awful letting him down that way. So, I promised him he could be a bat next year. (I would have an ENTIRE year to figure out how to make bat wings...) Next year's here. It's 1:00 Wednesday morning. He needs his costume Friday morning. No need to panic yet --- I have it all pinned together. He'll get to try it on in the morning (I hope all the pins are poking outward enough that those don't draw blood. And, I'm hoping for only minor adjustments.)

My mom is the seamstress. Not me. She made my daughter and me matching witch costumes 3 years ago. This will be our 3rd year wearing them together. However, Alyssa says she's not doing Halloween this year. Of corse I said OK --- I told her she could stay home with Daddy (he would LOVE that). I'm betting she'll change her mind. She's already decided to wear her costume to her ballet Halloween party, after all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My 6-Year Old Daughter


Alyssa, she’s a sweetheart. Find a lonely girl and she’ll be first to be her friend. She feels sad when she sees others making poor choices. She always wants to know when we can do more service. And she's smart. One time when she was barely 3 we called her “Little Miss Smarty Pants” and she said, “No! I’m not Smartly Pants, I’m Smarty Skirt,” because, she was, after all, wearing a skirt!

At 4 years old, she could not learn how to read fast enough and it frustrated her so deeply she’d scream. Now she’s the top reader in her first grade class. She brings home extra books every night and can’t wait to read those to us. She sneaks books into bed and reads until the last sliver of light fades from her room.

However, one of her favorite ways to spend time with me is getting ready for church Sunday mornings. She picks out her prettiest dress and I polish her dainty fingernails. She carefully places those into her very own pink nail dryer. She tells me just how her hair should be and really likes it braided. For a finishing touch we add sparkly stickers to her ears. She feels like a princess as she admires her reflection with a satisfied smile.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Goo Goo Ga Ga

video


Payton's 1st grade teacher played "Goo Goo Ga Ga" for his first grade class. He tried telling me about the baby and the troll in the song. So, because he was so excited about it, I looked it up online. It was easy to find because, apparently, Joe Scruggs is a favorite with some other bloggers. It's very cute --- at least it was the first 1/2 a dozen times we listened to it. Now I can't get out of my head! Needless to say, the kids don't have a problem humming and singing it all day loooooooooooooooong!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pumpkins

My son (6), so creative...

He started drawing pumpkins during sacrament meeting last Sunday and kept on drawing until the meeting was over.

I thought we'd tape those to the front window with the other Halloween decorations, but, then thought his birthmother would enjoy them, too. So, we're sending them in the mail tomorrow --- and I'm hanging these scanned drawings in my blog instead.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Pepper Water

Sitting around the dinner table eating a bedtime snack --- celery (because it's suppose to work like an antacid).

Alyssa: Mommy, I wish we could get paid money to go to church.

Me: Some things are better than money (...thinking about treasures in heaven). Going to church helps us to become more like Jesus --- and becoming like Him will make it so you can receive many of His blessings.

Payton: Jesus has very important work for me to do. Like going on a mission! (He gives a HUGE smile. He's really excited to do this.)

Eli: If you could go anywhere in the world on your mission, where would you want to go?

Payton: Salt Lake City!

Me: That would be a great place to go.

Eli: Do you know why they call it "Salt Lake"?

Alyssa: Because it's a lake and it has salt in it.

Eli: (surprised) That's right!

Alyssa: (blushing because she's so smart)

Payton: (very matter-of-factly) Did you know sharks don't like salt water? They only like pepper water.

Me: ???? (hu?)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Diagnosis: Meniere's Disease

At the end of March I got dizzy. Laying down seemed to help --- it almost made me feel normal again. About four days into this, I laid myself down on the living room floor and willed the phone to come to me. What is wrong with me?!?! After, several minutes I willed myself to the phone, which worked mildly better than the phone coming to me. I returned to my previous spot on the floor as I dialed my husband's cell. "I can't do this anymore," I wailed. He said to make a doctor's appointment and he'd be able to come home to take me. Relief! (Often, he's an hour away for work.) But, that meant I would now have to get the phone book. A doctor's visit was motivation enough to crawl myself back into the kitchen.

Fortunately, by the time of the appointment, the worst of it had passed. The doctor asked so many questions. Many seemed repetitive. One was if I had ringing in my ears. I said I didn't. Each time I turned to look at my husband, I would get nauseous again (poor guy : ). The doctor did a bunch of test in which I had to follow his finger with my eyes. Finally, he concluded that I had Vertigo and eventually it would just go away on it's own.

Vertigo, in very simple terms, is when some of the "gravel" in your ears gets out of its spot and ends up in different parts of your ear, causing you to feel unbalanced or dizzy.

So, he had me lay down with my head just hanging off the end of the table(?) and turned it just so. I stared at his fingertip until the dizziness went away. Then we repeated it on the other side.

When I stood back up --- I was BETTER! I wanted to laugh right out loud. It seemed so humorous that I spent 4 days at home trying to get over this, and then to lay down in the doctor's office and get immediate relief! Why had I waited so long? He told me that I could do that exercise at home and prescribed meclizine to help reduce the dizziness. Unfortunately, the medicine didn't seem to do much for me.

I was so happy to feel good again until it returned. I tried and tried to do that exercise on my own bed. My husband tried to help too, until I vomited. We just couldn't get it to work. He and his friend gave me a priesthood blessing of which I was very grateful for. I wanted to be told that I would heal quickly. Instead, I was told that this would bring me closer to the Lord and to not be ashamed to ask for help from members in our ward. Ok...

I spent the weekend lying down again. I did have good moments though, sometimes even a day or two where I almost felt back to normal. I managed to get through the next week well enough. Then it was suggested that I see a certain chiropractor. I did with the help of my visiting teacher who was so kind to drive me --- 3 times a week sometimes. The chiropractor would reset my ears. It helped a lot. Every now and then a little wave of dizziness would threaten worse to come, but it didn't and life seemed manageable. I felt sure the whole Vertigo thing was going away.

Then came the neck pain. Terrible neck pain. (I blamed it on the chiropractor.) Soon after that came the migraine, only on the left side, but constant, unless I laid on my back and kinked my head to the left just so, it would go away, then I felt well again, as long as I stayed in that position. Anyway, having the chiropractor move my neck around to reduce the dizziness didn't work very well anymore and the dizziness got worse again. The chiropractor prescribed muscle relaxers and pain killers for the migraine and sent me back to my doctor. Those two were now talking about me seeing a neurologist and having an MRI done. That scared me.

About that time, I realized that the high pitch beeps I'd hear in my ears from time to time is was "ringing" in the ears. I also noticed that that was happening more often. This is called Tinnitus. My chiropractor said that when you have Vertigo and Tinnitus as the same time, it is called Meniere's Disease.

And that's all he said about it. But, he, and the doctor and the neurologist, still wanted to have a couple MRIs done, one on my neck, one on my brain. Fortunately, the MRIs didn't find anything. Still, that was a miserable week. One good friend brought my children home from school several times. Another came to pick me up so that I wouldn't have to walk there in the rain. Thankfully, the ward brought dinner over 3 times one week. I felt extremely grateful that they cared enough to do that, but my husband said he could fix dinner (which he was, and doing wash, and cleaning the house, and sometimes even making breakfast, and going into work early so that he'd be back in time to pick up the kids when he could, and running me around). He stepped right up to what needed to be done and did a great job. I was so grateful for him. He needed a break! Even if he didn't think so, and I was so grateful that a prepared dinner would give him that break.

I feel guilty though --- letting people help so much. I did my best to walk down and pick up my kids from school when I could and it felt good to do that. One day, I felt a little off to start, but figured a walk would do me some good. We only had a couple houses to go before we would be back home when I got really dizzy. I had to yell at my son to run and catch up, but I couldn't wait, I was going to be sick. I don't know how, but I managed to make it to my own toilet. : )  I can't tell you how paranoid I was to do anything for a week after that, but I simply could not let my kids miss out on their life because of it. (Everywhere we went I would look for the nearest trashcan or bathroom, just in case... sometimes I'd carry plastic bags with me.) I so wanted to take care of my responsibilities. After all, I am healthy!!! I just have a little ear trouble that's causing a BIG mess.

One Thursday the dizziness came back and my chiropractor was not in his office. On Friday, I waited to go until my husband could take me after work. The office had closed at noon. Desperate to not spend the entire weekend in bed, my husband's grandma sent some exercises for Vertigo that her doctor gave her. They were the same ones I couldn't make work. Eli searched the internet for some new exercises and had me try some. No luck. Later, I tried one called Brandt-Daroff Exercises. It works! (At least most of the time.) I felt empowered that I no longer would have to rely on my chiropractor to make the dizziness go away!

So, to finish my story, I got medicine for the migraine and about the time things started to feel good again, the pain in my neck began on the opposite side. So, it was not the chiropractor who had caused the pain on the left side after all. I was aghast. I just could not start over with that pain again. Especially if it was going to mean another month or more of pain! I began taking the pain pills again and fortunately, I don't think it even lasted a whole week. That made me happy.

Last week was good. In fact, I felt good enough to get back on the internet and read! I could focus on words again! I could concentrate again! I love to research stuff on the internet and was finally able find out what it had to say about Meniere's Disease.

After reading many sites (finding the same information on multiple sites make the repetitive information more valid to me) I came across two sites that I like. One is by a man who tells about his personal experience with Meniere's Disease and the other is a compilation of easy to read facts.



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Meniere's Disease -- An Overview


Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause severe dizziness, vomiting, ringing in the ears, and can disable you for the better part of a day or more.  It is a non-fatal, non-curable condition.  Non-curable?  Well, think of it like having an allergy to something...  nothing they can do will make you no longer allergic to whatever it is you're allergic to...  but once you understand the fact that you do have this allergic condition, you can find ways to avoid triggering it.

My personal battle with Meniere's


...  I had a total of about a dozen severe attacks over six months or so.  During an attack I would get extremely dizzy within a matter of 5 or 10 minutes.  Sometimes I would begin vomiting.  During an attack I was too dizzy to walk or do anything except lie down.  ...   I usually still felt pretty lousy, or as Meniere's sufferers often say "out of sorts", for about a day after an attack.

The severe attacks … were triggered by the stress…

One frustrating aspect of dealing with Meniere's disease, or any inner-ear disorder, is that you don't generally LOOK sick to other people.  Your friends and co-workers may think you are making the whole thing up, or that you're a little crazy…


How I Beat Meniere's Disease


… An MRI of the brain and ear was performed to rule out the possibility of physical damage including a brain tumor…

One doctor … suggested I keep a log of my attacks.  I wrote down when they occurred, and anything unusual I had eaten or done in the day or two prior.  (He suspected I was reacting to salt in my diet.)  Once I did this, it became totally obvious that my attacks had nothing to do with food, and everything to do with stress and disturbances to my sleep schedule… (Hmmmm, I did notice I felt the worst when I was working, but seriously, I live fairly stress free, unless there's a deadline to meet... Logging my food? What a tedious and loathsome way to spend my day, however, it may help me keep the symptoms away, I should make a sincere effort --- especially being the mom of two little ones.)


____________________________________



Ménière's disease is a condition of the inner ear. About 1 in a 1,000 people develops Ménière's disease. … The disease is named after a French doctor called Prosper Ménière who first described the disease in the 1860s.

Symptoms that 'come and go'

Ménière's disease typically comes in attacks (episodes) of the following symptoms:
  • Dulled hearing in the affected ear(s). The degree of hearing loss varies.
  • Vertigo. This is dizziness with a spinning sensation. It can be quite severe and make you feel sick or vomit. Vertigo can develop with little or no warning. You may feel very dizzy and ill. You may need to go to bed until it passes.
  • Tinnitus. This is a noise such as a ringing, roaring, or buzzing noise which you can hear from inside the affected ear.
  • Ear pressure. You may get a sense of fullness or pressure inside the ear.
  • Loud noises may seem unpleasant and distorted.
An attack of Ménière's disease may last from 20 minutes to several hours. The average is 2-4 hours. Many people feel quite sleepy after an attack. Slight unsteadiness may last a day or so after an attack --- sometimes longer. (This helped me to understand what was happening.)



Attacks may be frequent, or occur only every few months or longer. Sometimes they come in clusters of several attacks in quick succession. For example, you may have an attack every couple of days or so for a week or so. Some attacks may be so close together that it may seem that one attack lasts for several days. On average, you may get 6-11 clusters a year. (Hopefully, I don't get cluster of attack 6-11 times per YEAR!)



An uncommon symptom is to have sudden unexplained falls (drop attacks). These are falls without losing consciousness. Drop attacks last just a short time with little associated vertigo. They occur in about 1 in 25 people with Ménière's disease. So, although uncommon, drop attacks can be alarming and potentially dangerous if, for example, you are driving or up a ladder when one occurs. (WAIT! What? At least this hasn't happened to me! Talk about making someone paranoid about going out. For the most part, I have a brief period of warning and I have not fallen at all. Whew!)

You may have long periods of time (months or years) between attacks (or clusters of attacks) when you have no symptoms. In about 7 in 10 people with Ménière's disease, the attacks stop altogether within 5-10 years of their starting. This is hopeful! : )

Symptoms that may become permanent

  • Hearing loss. During each attack the hearing loss is temporary at first….
  • Tinnitus. … often temporary at first … eventually becomes permanent in some cases. (and not so hopeful...)

What causes Ménière's disease?



It is thought that a build-up of fluid in the labyrinth from time to time causes the symptoms. The build-up of fluid may increase the pressure and cause swelling of the labyrinth. Also, fluid may leak between different parts of the labyrinth. These effects may cause the inner ear to send abnormal messages to the brain, which causes the dizziness and vomiting. (There's a longer explanation on their site, but I think this sums it up quickly.)

What is the outlook (prognosis)?

The way Ménière's disease affects people can vary greatly. At the outset of the disease, it is not possible to predict how badly it will affect an individual in the coming years. In many cases, months or years go by between attacks. In some cases the attacks are more frequent. Some attacks are minor and don't last long. Some attacks can be very distressing with severe vomiting and dizziness. However, treatments that can ease symptoms have improved in recent years.

There is a good chance that after a while (typically after 5-10 years) the attacks stop occurring altogether. However, you may have developed some permanent hearing loss or permanent tinnitus in the affected ear or ears by this time. This may be only a minor degree of hearing loss, but some people become deaf in the affected ear or ears. (So, I guess we just wait and see...)

So, I'm sure that's more than anyone cared to know. But, that's been my life pretty much for the last couple of months. I so desperately wanted to be done with it by the time school lets out for the summer and it looks like I may have my wish. And, just to note, I've found that a green veggie juice a day seems to reduce the pressure in my ears. One more incentive to eat better.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Giving 6-Year Olds Choices


Today Payton got "Kitty" fresh water --- without any spills! He proudly reported his accomplishment with his hand up for a high-five stinger. Such enthusiasm for a job well-done --- this was a job I hadn't requested or reminded him to do. I had just woke up with a splitting headache --- the same one it seems I've had on-and-off for the past month. His happiness makes me smile. Things have changed here in the jobs area.

About 3 years ago, when my kids were around 3-years old, I was struggling big-time to become the parent I wanted to be. I expressed my exasperation with a good lady I was just beginning to get-to-know. She introduced me to Love and Logic. I devoured the parenting techniques they taught and began practicing those on my children. The results were wonderful.

Overtime, we sort of let those ideas fall to the wayside.

My husband and I have our own ideas of what a good parent needs to be like. Eventually, parenting became a battle and it didn't seem right to push so hard for what I wanted; although, it would certainly be a disservice to our children if I just gave up. So, how are we going to teach our kids? We needed some new ideas! I was given good suggestions and advice from some of my readers which I've seriously considered. 

And then, of all things, we were reminded about the Love and Logic approach to parenting. (If you've experienced with it or listen to this audio, I would love to here your opinion on it.) One idea in particular was about giving children choices. This was once my favorite technique. It is to give your kids LOTS of choices ALL DAY LONG, choices, that as parents, we can be perfectly happy with either result, such as, "Do you want to put on your shirt first or your pants first?" This is suppose to help them feel like they are in charge, that they have some control over themselves. In the back of my mind, I thought of Payton shouting at us, "Why don't you ever let me do what I want?" Which, of corse, we do. But, in his little mind, we are making way too many demands comparatively. I couldn't wait to reintroduce this technique.

Another reminder was to let my kids make mistakes. I have been so focused on helping them be successful that I have forgotten that it is ok to let them learn from their mistakes. I guess it is mostly the sting I feel from those who see me mother this way, such as, sending my children to school in pajamas because they would rather play than get ready for school, letting them go without breakfast because they would rather go to school on an empty tummy than in their pajamas, not combing their hair because we don't have time to find the brush that didn't get put back away after brushing the doll's hair, not taking them to an Easter egg hunt because they refuse (for over 2 hours) to do a 5-minute pickup in their room, taking them back to pay for the 25¢ candy they stole (1/2 a dozen different times)... Is this really what a "good mother" does? Love and Logic convinces me that it is better that they learn from their (cheep) mistakes when they are little rather than when they are older and the consequences are much more severe.

Does this make me feel too strict? YES!!! Really, I don't want them to be embarrassed, I don't want them to miss out. So, what can I do? I figure I can do my best to make it possible for them to get their little things done. And empathy --- Don't forget the empathy! Always make the bad guy the unfortunate consequence of their choice; I should be there to love them through their suffering, hold them while they cry, but let the consequence of their action teach them.

The transformation has been greatest in Payton this week. The first choice I gave him was, "Do you want to run to the ice cream shop door or walk with me? At first, he looked at me questionably, then a huge grin came over his face when he said he wanted to run and he sped off. Although, he still puts up a stubborn attitude when I ask him to do a job (how do I embed this video?), he will, eventually, do it. And sometimes, like today, he will do one if his jobs without anyone asking. I guess that makes him feel like he's in charge.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

6-Year Olds and Chores

Aaaaaaaargh! I am frusterated! In fact, this week they have become so defiant that for the past 2 days they have even stopped flushing the toilets! 

I expect my 6-year old twins to help with jobs around the house. They've had jobs since they were 3-years old and sometimes it can be a challenge for the 3 of us. I only ask them to do what they have shown me themselves they can do --- I take that as my cue to know what they are ready for.

It doesn't seem other mom's I know have chores for their young (6 and under) children. I need to know if I am totally out of line here or what I am doing so wrong, because I can't seem to make it work anymore and attempts are just getting worse. I don't know if I should scrap the whole thing and be the mother who does everything and expects nothing (my husband's ideal type of mother, but, not in my nature) or to press forward in my thinking that if I want my children to be capable, me, the mother, has to teach them. So, I give them jobs.

Their job list:
  • MAKE BED (All they have to do is flip the covers back over, only trying to teach habit here, not perfection.)
  • PERSONAL PRAYER (again, it's about habit, this is mostly a reminder and will be taken off  the "job" chart when school starts again)
  • GET DRESSED put pajamas in drawer
  • WASH CLOTHES Once a week (Alyssa on Tuesday and Payton on Friday) they bring down their hamper and I help them load it into the washer. If it gets in early enough, they help me put it into the dryer before leaving for school. I fold or lay out most of it and leave it on their bed for them to put away when they get home.
  • ZONE JOB These are once a month jobs spread out over the month. Each week we detail clean a section of our house. They each have 1 job a day in that area. This week we are in our bedrooms and today the job is to straighten up the clothes in their closets so they hang nicely.
Now they are ready for breakfast.

After breakfast:
  • Clean up TABLE SPACE (their own dishes into dishwasher and garbage into trash can)
  • KITCHEN JOB --- Every morning the table needs wiped off and the floor needs swept. They take turns doing one or the other. I am not looking for perfection, just a 6-year old effort. (Besides picking up their toys, and making their bed (if you want to count those as jobs), I feel like this is the only real job I insist on every morning.) This is an attempt to teach them that being part of a family means helping with the household chores. We play "Beat the Timer" and I set it for 5 minutes.
  • BRUSH TEETH (habit reminder that will come off the 'job' list soon)
  • COMB HAIR (another habit reminder that will come off the 'job' list soon)
  • WIPE OFF BATHROOM COUNTER (I want them to be aware of how much toothpaste they get on the counter --- again, not looking for perfection here.)
  • PACK LUNCH (I didn't say 'make', I put it on the counter for them, in a few years they will get to make their own.)
  • FEED PETS AND WATER PLANTS (together because we use the same water pitcher for both) I usually end up doing these, but, often, they want to help so I put it on their job list. I gently stress the importance of this job by saying things like, "The dogs must be thirsty/hungry, we better get them some water/food because we would sure hate to be hungry/thirsty all day.  Until they learn the importance of the task, I make sure it is done every day. I am not willing to let the pets or plants go without if they won't do it.
  • OR --- TAKE OUT COMPOST --- Last year they fought for their turn; the weather's just warming up enough again to put it back on their list. (I'm afraid it's going to become a struggle this time around. I can't help wondering if I should put it back on the list just because I know they can do it.)
That should be 10 minutes max. in their bedrooms. After breakfast, it's easily 20-30 minutes if they go at a good pace. I know it's too much time to keep them focused, so what do I cut out? At this point, I would like to snuggle on the couch and read to my kids until the bus comes; unfortunately, this almost never happens anymore. It makes me sad because this is what I most want to do before they are gone for the next 6 1/2 hours of the day.

Today, nothing got done except they put on clothes! (I have taken them to pre-school with their pajamas on before, so if they want to wear clothes, they know they had better get them on.) Often, I am trying to get food inside them while they are putting on their coats and I am stuffing their lunches into their backpacks while the bus is waiting. Part of the problem, there are no consistent consequences, if there are any at all. Sometimes they stay in their rooms until it gets clean or their wash gets put away. But, Payton will stay in his room all weekend (except to eat) and still not get it done, even if it means he has to miss out on fun activities. (He is more stubborn than me, and I am stubborn.) I hate doing it that way. So, I help them succeed, which usually means I do it all while they watch. It seems they learn to expect that. Then I get all crazy about them not doing any of their jobs! I hate being the mean mom. All I really want is for them to quickly get through their jobs so I can spend quality time with them. I hate asking and asking and asking for the same old things to be done EVERY day and then have the evening end without spending quality time with them. What do you do when they refuse to do what you ask? How do you teach them these things with love?

The worst of it was that while Alyssa put on her jacket, I pointed out that it was filthy. "Look at the orange stuff on it! And all the dirt on the front! Why do you put your jackets on the floor." As I quickly removed it, and replace it with a dirty coat (I just washed) I noticed food and sleep junk on her face and say, "You're face is dirty too. Why didn't you wash it?" I try to help her with her backpack and let out a sigh as she picks up the opposite arm that I need. "Oh, your hair!" I had tried to do it earlier, but it didn't happen. "You look like nobody takes care of you," and guiltily I wonder if I don't. She frowns and says, "People think I look funny when I don't comb my hair." Me, I say, "If it was important enough to you, you'd get it done." Isn't it important enough to me to help her get it done? She puts her head down and says she doesn't want to go to school. But I walk her out to the bus anyway. She pushes up against me. I pick her up and put her on the bottom step and nudge her forward. My poor baby. How can she stand the way I talk to her?!?!? I just can't stand myself sometimes. I feel so bad now that I sent her off to school feeling that way.

What would you have done?


Giving 6-Year Olds Choices

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Our Adoption Story - Part 12 - Miracles

Part 1 - Infertility
Part 2 - Waiting
Part 3 - A New Goal
Part 4 - Comfort
Part 5 - Chosen
Part 6 - Charlotte
Part 7 - Expecting
Part 8 - Shopping
Part 9 - Birthday
Part 10 - Hospital

Part 11- His Will 


March 18, 2005

Exhausted, we sleep deeply. The next morning, we follow our plan. Getting my job back isn't so easy. My bosses are on vacation --- out of the country! I explain our situation to my old supervisor and give him my request about wanting to be hired back on, full-time --- and, then, be given maternity leave. I've NEVER considered cellphones a miracle in my entire life! Unfortunately, he can't get a hold of the bosses --- but, he can leave a message. I am LOVING technology!

Eli and I go back home --- and wait. We sit in front of the TV, not really watching it. We don't say much. We just wait. Finally, the phone rings! We jump. It turns out I have to go back in and explain exactly what I want from my old job, again. We head back into town. I am careful to be clear in that I won't be coming back to work after "maternity leave" in case that legally changes things. (We are so careful to do everything EXACTLY right because we don't want anything to come back and bite us in the butt at some random time in the future.) Their only request, that I work full-time for one week to make the full-time requirement legit. I can do that! He signs the employment form. Eli and I take the form to the adoption agency. It turns out Eli has spring-break next week, the week I will work full-time. He will be able to stay home with the babies that entire week! Another small miracle --- but, truly one.

Mary faxes my signed employment form to Headquarters in Salt Lake City. While she's faxing, we ask her if she'll let us know if we qualify. She tells us to just head back to Albuquerque and she'll give us a call when she knows. We obey. After a long drive and only ten minutes left to the hospital, we still haven't heard from Mary. We call her. No luck. Eli calls Brenda. She answers, but before we can ask, she is already talking, telling us she's got the babies in her backseat and to meet her in her office. Soooooo --- we qualify then? I have to ask. I cannot explain the euphoria I feel at this moment or the wonder of the miracle we are witnessing.


_________________________


At Brenda's office we see our babies dressed in sleepers that actually fit. They don't match, but, I don't care anymore! Hardly daring to believe this is real, I hold them close, breathing them in. I can't let go again. The reunion is incredible. "To good to be true for someone like me," is a repeating thought. In the meantime, we re-sign a ton of papers and I take more pictures. Brenda gets Charlotte on the phone and Eli and I sit ear-to-ear, on the love seat, with arms and hearts full; but, all are at a loss for words. We let her know we are taking the babies home with us now. We thank her again.

Yesterday, when Brenda told Charlotte that her babies didn't go home with us and that they had a plan for foster care while they found another couple, Charlotte had said, "They go home with Eli and Corinne, or they go home with me." Brenda said that without her pulling for us that way, we wouldn't be bringing them home. We are ever so grateful she stuck with us. (Another miracle.)

I can only imagine what it must have been like for Charlotte... choosing a couple to raise her babies, we believe she must have felt good about her choice, and, then, to suddenly have all she felt secure about in her adoption plan being replaced with the unknown --- by those who were suppose to be supporting her. How must that have been for her?

It's dusk now and it is a strange, but wonderful feeling to drive back home with babies in the backseat. My family is all celebrating a wedding right now. I call them to announce our good news. For some reason my brother, Rob, tells me to call the groom. I do. I tell him we're bringing our babies home. He can't talk, he's suppose to be doing the garter belt! Brothers! So, I have to call Rob back again and tell him to let the family know. I'm so happy I could burst while sharing our triumph. I am also anxious to get home. The babies are so quiet that for short moments I forget they're in the backseat. When I remember again, I get sort of an creepy feeling for having forgotten. I must have been exhausted.

At home, the house is empty, quiet. Eli's mom is working at the Albuquerque temple (she put us on the prayer roll earlier this morning). Eli's dad is working on the road tonight. When I realize we'll have the house to ourselves for the first night of being a family, I feel greedily thankful. However, soon Eli's grandma is over. Then, Eli's sister and her family show up. They love on our babies big time. This welcome home is so precious, perfect really --- it's wonderful to see their instant love and acceptance of the babies into our family. And, then I am glad we are not lone. I have to take more pictures. I believe these pictures will mean a lot to our babies someday. I want these pictures for Charlotte too. I want her too see her babies' arrival home being celebrated. However, Eli has had enough of the picture taking. I haven't taken nearly enough! But, I happy oblige, setting the camera down. It's so much more exciting to be part of this event than to be behind the camera.

Soon enough, we discover the diapers I had purchased for a newborn baby, are way too big! So are the tiny cloth diapers we made. Eli goes out to buy diapers for preemies.

When everyone goes home, and the house is quiet again, we tuck our brand-new babies in their tiny blankets and lay them side-by-side in their huge crib. Then we scoot them a little closer, so they are just touching. We stand and watch them sleep before kneeling down beside each other and offering a prayer of gratitude. We plead with our Father in Heaven to comfort Charlotte. We also know that any day she can still change her mind. This nagging bit of terror gets pushed into the back of my thoughts. We pray, perhaps a little selfishly, that she doesn't.

And that is how the first, of many, long sleepless nights began.


_____________________________



It is by many small and great miracles that Payton and Alyssa came to us. Looking back to certain events leaves no doubt in our minds that Heavenly Father's plan, from the beginning, was to place them with us. I could not bring their spirits to earth through my body, but Charlotte could. She, fortunately, had the wisdom and selflessness to trust her heart and chose to make one of the biggest sacrifices a mother can make for her unplanned baby, a plan of adoption. Charlotte wanted a mother and a father to raise her tiny babes. She recognized that her love for them was not all she hoped to give them. She desperately wanted more for them that she could give. She became our angel and will forever be part of our family. We love her and our children know that she loves them too.

Adoption is not selfish. It is the most selfless sacrifice a mother can make for her unplanned baby. It is a dream come true for the hopeful couple she chooses; and, gives her baby a stable, loving family and promising future. Adoption, however tragic it can seem, is a beautiful way to make things right again. Adoption blesses me daily through the joys of motherhood, a gift of which I will be eternally grateful for.

6 YEARS!!! We brought our babies home 6 years ago tonight! I LOVE being Mommy!






Our Adoption Story - Part 13 - Photos

Our Adoption Story - Part 11 - His Will

Today was an exciting morning for the kids. They found leprechaun footprints across the living room rug! I encouraged the kids to hurry and get ready for school so we could start looking for the treasure that he surely left somewhere in the house. The rule in our house is that you have to be dressed and have your bed made before you can get on the bus --- otherwise we get to walk. (I like walking with them.) Alyssa's room was a disaster! I helped her as much as I could while I also dressed Payton, showered myself, prepared breakfast and had individual morning prayer with each. In the meantime --- Payton wouldn't get his few items in his room put away because he kept searching for treasure. "There's no gold downstairs!" Arrrgh! (Ok, I'll admit, that was really funny!) So, although the kids got their stuff done, it was just as the bus pulled up. Oh, well. I guess we'll try the hunt when they get home. So, now I'm off to the store to find corned-beef and cabbage for tonight's Irish meal. (Maybe I'll pick up some green Jell-O, too.)

I also decided to put this post up early today because I didn't get it up yesterday. But, it works out better this way (it's more the time frame that things really happened six years ago.) Tomorrow's post will finish Our Adoption Story.

Part 1 - Infertility
Part 2 - Waiting
Part 3 - A New Goal
Part 4 - Comfort
Part 5 - Chosen
Part 6 - Charlotte
Part 7 - Expecting
Part 8 - Shopping
Part 9 - Birthday
 
Part 10 - Hospital


March 16 and 17, 2005 (The two days that blended together.)

Arising early to go back to my babies, we are interrupted by the adoption agency's call. They asks us to meet them in their office. We drive there, but, somehow we end up talking to them in the parking lot with our ears both on my cell. They say, "One of you needs to have steady employment." I remind them about the income from our rental and assure them that we both have work. Eli works part-time doing work-study at the college. I can work part-time from home. We have separate money saved for the adoption. (We even got a small loan as a financial cushion --- for just-in-case.) They say, "It has to be a full-time job." They say, "The babies need medical insurance." I tell them about my visits to the Medicare office and the result. They tell us, "The babies can't leave the hospital without being insured." They tell us that we need to be insured. They ask if one of us can get a full-time job. My last job had asked me a few times to become a full-time employer. I was sure I could get hired back on full-time. Eli didn't want to start our family with me working and him at school. He feels very strongly about not bringing our babies home to a babysitter. We should be home with them. I agree, but, me working won't be permanent. Even if I did go to work, we'd still have the "insurance" problem. They say that if we, now, filled out an application for adoption with them, we wouldn't even qualify. I understood that everything had been updated and was in order! But, they have their rules. What about God's rules? He's the one in charge! We are so frustrated. I am physically upset. Every solution only brings another problem. They will NOT work with us. They can't work with us.

Finally, understanding comes --- they have no intention of letting us take the babies home. We hang up and pull into the parking lot behind their office. Oh, the excruciating PAIN inside my chest! The deep darkness swallowing me again. We cry like we have never cried before. I feel myself detaching from reality. After a while, we begin our long and painful drive home. We LEAVE OUR BABIES! I weekly remind myself that I don't want to miss my little brother's wedding. I need a new goal to focus on right now and it was to get there. It's a pitiful goal, because all I can think about is how we are turning our backs on the most incredible opportunity. I STILL WANT TO FIGHT! How am I going to put the pieces of my life (work, school, just living) back together again when I get home? I have no desire to move on. I feel so heavy.

But, what can I do? I plead in a silent prayer. I can't fight for them on my own. Eli has to want to fight, too. I had been so sure we would bring them home. Why? What was that whisper for? Must we try again? I think Eli's emotionally spent, he's done trying. But, I would try again... and again, and again! Just not now. All I can do now is put it in the Lord's hands. And suddenly I truly understand the significance of these words. We have done all we can do, if it is His will, He will help us with the rest! Surely, if they are meant to be ours, only HE can make it happen. Thy will be done --- not mine! I believe this. I know HE can make it happen if this is what should happen --- despite the reality of our situation. But, He might not.... Still, I take comfort knowing that it is God who is in charge, after all. Please, just let those babies go where You want them to be, where they will be deeply loved and cherished and brought up right.

Through tears, Eli says he's sorry. For what!?!? He says it's his fault because he didn't take school serious enough when we first got married and he kept dropping out of his classes and it brought us to the point of not bringing home the babies. But, he is going to school NOW! And there are 3 big companies wanting to hire him when he graduates in 4 weeks! No, it isn't his fault! From time to time we have to pull over because the tears get too heavy to see through. We cry until we can move on again.


___________________________



Entering the house, I see a large vase of white roses. Those were meant for a new mother and the reality that I am not a new mother hurts. I am trying, trying so hard, to hold the tears back. Through water-filled eyes, I sight the postcard that announces my acceptance into the nursing program. Today is the last day to accept my spot. I should get on that. But, I can't. I go to my room and cry instead.

Eli and I both request a priesthood blessing to get through this. Our bishop, who also has been doing all he can do to help the adoption go through, comes over. He and Eli's dad give Eli a priesthood blessing. He is counseled to not give up without exploring every option. That, and hoping Eli will heed that counsel is all I remember. The bishop keeps telling us, "There is Headquarter's way and then there's the Lord's way." I couldn't agree more --- those have been my thoughts exactly. My sister calls and suggests I go back to work full-time and take maternity leave. It might work... I don't understand "maternity leave" rules exactly, but I could find out. Eli's mom has been working with a cousin to see what he can do for us about catastrophic insurance. We schedule to meet with him in the morning.

We set up a plan-of-action for the next morning. I don't remember the exact order anymore, but it goes something like: Sign paperwork for Medicare for babies (thanks to my mother-in-law and the man in charge there). Sign paperwork for catastrophic insurance for us (thanks again to my mother-in-law). See about getting a full-time job with maternity leave (thanks to my sister's inspiration). We'll go back into town one more time if necessary. If we still aren't getting anywhere, we have to let go. We'll miss my brother's wedding, but I'll regret not doing everything possible to bring my babies home.

Charlotte had planned on a natural birth. Because baby girl didn't turn, she had had a c-section. Because of that, she had 4 days in the hospital to recover. So, the babies had 4 days in the hospital as well. That bought us time. (Another miracle?) Tomorrow, however, that time will be up.


Part 12 - Miracles

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Leprechaun's Treasure Hunt


I grew up with a love for treasure hunts. My older brother is the BEST treasure hunt maker! His are a real challenge. His treasure hunts don't have a lot of clues, but the ones he creates are HARD. I have tried to race my 2 sisters to the end before, but, I can't remember who won. All I remember is spending DAYS sometimes, trying to break codes without a key. It was hard and frustrating, so, when I did break them --- I was ecstatic!

My homemade treasure hunt isn't nearly so tricky (my hunters are only 6); but, it's not a piece of cake either. Hopefully, it will last a good hour or two. And, hopefully, it won't be too discouraging if they prefer something a little more fast paced. If your kids are up for a bit o'challenge --- mine might do the trick!

I've never gone out of my way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day other than to make sure I have some visible green on me somewhere. (Once, when I was little and not wearing green, my older brother had me so worried about getting pinched that when I went outside to ride my tricycle, I REALLY thought I was getting pinched!!!) I also happened to celebrate it twice with a friend and I remember her mom made green Jell-O and green punch. We probably had green beans too. We watched that leprechaun movie. A few years later I celebrated again with her and didn't even realize it was St. Patrick's Day until dinner rolled around and we were eating green Jell-O and drinking green punch again. We even watched that leprechaun movie again! I thought it was so neat that this was their tradition and I got to be part of it! How cool is that?

Eli's mom makes corned beef and cabbage. The recipes I have found haven't turned out all that wonderful, not that they were bad. It just seems like I've had better. Maybe it's because I always look for a crock-pot recipe. Perhaps you have something better you could share with me this year?

This year, I've created a treasure hunt for my kids, but I don't mind sharing it. A good friend inspired me to celebrate this boring green holiday before she moved away. So, this year I am going to cut out my own little green leprechaun feet. Instead of them leading to a treasure right off, it will lead them to the first clue in a tricky "Leprechaun Treasure Hunt" with fun activities and snacks along the way, and a Pot-O-Gold at the end of a homemade rainbow. I hope my two are up for a bit o'challenge. We'll begin it first thing in the morning and finish it after they get back home from school.

For those who are interested in giving my Leprechaun Treasure Hunt a try, here it is. (If you would like a .pdf of the hunt, leave your email address in the comments. I will be happy to sent it to you.)


*You will build a rainbow that looks like the one above with the clues, the colored circles lay on top of each other with the largest (red) on the bottom and the smallest (purple) on the top. The round decoder (small white circle) goes centered on the very top (I forgot to mention that part in Clue #8). Once those are stacked, make sure to turn each circle so that the shamrocks line up (on the right side). Finish with the "cloud" on the very top. Then, fold the whole thing in half along the shamrocks. Hold it up to a mirror to read the final clue, it will take you to the treasure "at the end of the rainbow" (Pair of Boots). Hope this helps!
Instructions & other info. --- Print on WHITE

Clue #1 (front) --- Print on WHITE
Clue #1 (back) --- Print on WHITE


Clue #2 (front) --- Print on RED

Clue #2 (back) --- Print on RED


Clue #3 (back) --- Print on ORANGE

Clue #3 (front) --- Print on ORANGE *WHOOPS! On 6 across I blacked in the last box. It's suppose to fit "clover."


Clue #4 (front) --- Print on YELLOW


Clue #4 (front) --- Print on YELLOW


Clue #5 (back) --- Print on GREEN


Clue #5 (front) --- Print on GREEN *WHOOPS! I didn't get "mold" into the word search. This clue is too hard for young kids, it's even tricky for adults. Sorry about that. (Next year's will be a little easier.)


Clue #6 (back) --- Print on BLUE


Clue #6 (front) --- Print on BLUE


Clue #7 (front) --- Print on PURPLE

Clue #7 (back) --- Print on PURPLE

Clue #8 (coin insert) --- Print on GOLD --- compass directions go with Clue #2

Clue #8 (pot envelope) --- Print on GREEN or WHITE


(leprechaun footprints) --- Print on GREEN (as many as you need)

EXTRA (compass directions) --- Print on GOLD or GREEN