Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Motivation Is Renewed

I have a trio of fun giveaways going on right now:

Family calendar giveaway from BusyBodyBook right here.

JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii right here.

Spinbrush MyWay! (for girls) battery operated toothbrush right here.


Today is my husband's fortieth birthday (which ummm this post isn't actually about, but happy birthday to him anyway!), so my parents came over for dinner to celebrate, as they do for all occasions.

While we were sitting on the deck after dinner, Little Miss climbed from her chair into my mother's lap. This isn't too unusual, as she knows that my mom will let her do basically whatever she wants. Again, not out of the norm, my mom reached over to get a spoon of rice to feed her - because why should Little Miss do something for herself if my mom will do it for her?

As my mom reached over, Little Miss poked a finger at my mom's arm swaying in the breeze. Fluffy! she giggled. She grabbed a chunk and swung it back and forth. Look, Grandma, it swings! Can I play with this on the plane?

I'll spare you the photos. And my mom. But yikes!

My mom is not heavy. She is the Donna Reed who is 5'4" and weighed 105 pounds dripping wet. There is a picture of her wearing a bikini on the beach where my sister and I are still tiny. I am maybe two and my sister is barely sitting. And my mom is wearing a bikini. Let's just say I didn't get those genes.

She hasn't exactly gained much weight since that time, but she has what she calls "old lady arms." And Little Miss is fascinated with them. And I mean fascinated.

Call me silly, but I don't want my future - wayyyyyyy in the future - grandchildren to be playing this game with my arms. I am so keeping up on and increasing those arm workouts. Starting tonight.

I'm afraid I'm going to have nightmares about this tonight.

Friday, July 30, 2010

3-2-1 Liftoff!

I have a trio of fun giveaways going on right now:

Family calendar giveaway from BusyBodyBook right here.

JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii right here.

Spinbrush MyWay! (for girls) battery operated toothbrush right here.


This week, Mister Man has been at camp - his first "real" day camp. It was supposed to be a full day from 9am to 3pm, but not enough people registered for the full day, so they canceled the second half of the day. I was really proud of Mister Man when we found out about the change last week. He's been looking forward to this camp for months - he picked it out all by himself and chose to do the full day versus the half day option - but he took it in stride and didn't freak out.

Each day when we get to camp, he runs out of the car and into the building where his camp meets. And I do mean runs. I follow him and sign him in, but he's already busily ensconced in that day's activity by the time I finish with that. He's too busy to say good-bye.

So what has him so intrigued? It's a space camp. They build rockets and learn all sorts of facts about space - one of his favorite topics. After reading the description of the class, he fell in love. He was sure that he was going to build a rocket and discover The Unknown (which apparently is a planet that scientists know exists but have yet to actually discover).

I had a really hard time explaining to him that in a week long space camp, he was not in fact going to discover a planet. In fact, his rocket wouldn't make it into orbit at all. He would be lucky if it got 50 feet off the ground. That took a lot of convincing, but he finally understood - before the class started - that he was not going to be discovering any new planets.

He did build his rocket though, and today was launch day - with parents invited (and most showed up, although a very visible few did not).

They headed out to a field for the launches. Everyone had a rocket to launch, so there was a lot of waiting. Fortunately, they had a task. For each rocket that launched, they were to use an altimiter to determine how high the rockets went. It was pretty cool, actually.

When it was their turn, the children filled their rockets with water from the communal bin. Next was the walk out to put the rocket onto the "aquapod" before it was pumped to 50psi by the instructor.

Next, all the children had to check the skies to ensure they were clear. For the first few rockets, some of the children were concerned as an airplane was flying past. The instructor reassured them that no, the rocket would not interfere with the airplane's flight.

Once the all clear was given, the child pulled the ripcord, and the rocket flew into the air, releasing the parachute from the cone to help it float gently back to the ground. (Ok, so my camera doesn't take pictures fast enough to get any of the flight sadly. Yet another reason I need a fancy DSLR!)

He was so thrilled with all he learned, and there was a neat ceremony afterwards where each child was presented with a certificate of achievement. Mister Man is already talking about what he'll learn next year. He can't wait. And honestly, I can't wait either!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My New Little Orange Belt

I have a trio of fun giveaways going on right now:

Family calendar giveaway from BusyBodyBook right here.

JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii right here.

Spinbrush MyWay! (for girls) battery operated toothbrush right here.


After my oh so fun and mind-blowing day yesterday, I almost forgot that not all was bad. There were some parts that were actually really good - like ummm getting confused for a twenty year old (yeah that one threw me for a loop, too!).

And then there was Mister Man's belt promotion test. We started Tae Kwon Do at the beginning of the month. Mister Man has been absolutely loving it, and he's been working super hard at it. We have class twice a week, and he practices what he's learned almost every day. Fortunately he's still at the belts where I remember enough from when I (briefly) did Tae Kwon Do that I can help him practice.

His hard work is really paying off, and yesterday he tested for his orange belt. He had to demonstrate everything he's learned to date - his stances, punches, blocks, kicsks, falls, positions, etc. And his eyes had to be closed while doing it.

He did great. He passed his test, and he is officially an orange belt, so he'll be learning all new stuff starting tomorrow - and boy is he excited.

The coolest part of the test for him is that he got to break a board with his foot after the test. And he did it - on the first try. It was pretty awesome, and I think he's going to keep that board forever.

After the test, the instructors removed his Velcro yellow belt and tied on the new orange one. I began to worry that now we had to officially learn how to tie the belt rather than just Velcroing it in the back. Luckily, I discovered that the orange belt is also Velcro once he came out to show me. Phew!

And now we begin our quest for purple. I know (as does he) that it won't be nearly so quick and that he'll have to learn more - including his first forms - but he's ready for it and can't wait to see what he learns tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Holy Moly. What Do We Eat Now?

I have a trio of fun giveaways going on right now:

Family calendar giveaway from BusyBodyBook right here.

JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii right here.

Spinbrush MyWay! (for girls) battery operated toothbrush right here.


Mister Man is special needs. We've known this for a really long time - we've been in early intervention since he was 17 months old (and would have been in earlier, but it took that long to go through the bureaucracy). We got the official diagnosis of autism in April.

I know that people with autism frequently have allergies. And I know that their allergies are expressed differently than some others. Rather than being anaphalactic or hives, they tend to be behavioral based - aggression, hyperactivity, stimming, impulsivity, etc. When my mom eats something she's allergic to, she gets horrible migraines. When Little Miss eats an allergen, she has issues with her lungs, sinuses, GI tract, etc. I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise to me.

Today, we finally got the results from Mister Man's allergy tests. I'm still stunned. I'm still freaking out. I'm still struggling to figure out how to do this. To give you a sense:

Foods To Avoid Completely
Cane sugar (any and all forms of it)
Cocoa powder

Foods To Eat No More Than Once A Week (mild allergens)

Foods We Can Eat (thank goodness!)
Wheat (phew)
Corn (phew)
Beet sugar
Maple Syrup
Cacao (not cocoa)
Fish Oil (sans salmon)
Sunflower seeds

Dairy? Dairy I've learned to avoid thanks to Little Miss. And thankfully, wheat is ok. But beef? And cane sugar? Do you have any idea how many foods have sugar in them?

PB&J is gone for good. Sushi - can't do the soy sauce. Cheeseburgers? Pfffft. Turkey bacon? It has sugar in it. Bread? Good luck finding a commercial bread without sugar of some sort. My homemade pizza? My s'mores pizza? Smoothies? Gone, gone and gone.

Did I mention we have three birthdays in my family we're celebrating in four days starting Saturday? And that we also have a classmate's birthday party this weekend? Apparently I'm going to add sugar free baking to my repetoire awfully quickly.

And now I'm freaking out about all the things we didn't test. The salt and parsley I put in our quinoa tonight? Oops. The basil and oregano I use all the time for seasoning? Pears? Cherries? Plums? The list goes on and on.

So if you see me rocking in a corner over the next few weeks, you'll understand why. My brain exploded today, and I'm still looking for the pieces.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

I have a trio of fun giveaways going on right now:

Family calendar giveaway from BusyBodyBook right here.

JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii right here.

Spinbrush MyWay! (for girls) battery operated toothbrush right here.


We are officially into the "yuck" part of summer that involves constant heat and humidity puntuated by rain that serves not to cool us off but instead to increase the humidity further.

I don't tend to eat very many heavy meals this time of year. In fact, the thought of eating a steak or some pasta or a creamy soup almost makes my stomach turn. I'd much rather have something light and cool that will refresh me while I'm being braised in the Chicago summer.

I made this soup this week after not having made it in years. I had somehow forgotten about it, but I won't be forgetting it anytime soon. So yummy and so easy - and better yet, no heat!

Chilled Cucumber Soup

5 cucumbers
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
2 T fresh dill, chopped
1/4 c lemon juice
1 quart buttermilk
1 pint plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Peel the cucumbers and cut them in half, scraping out the seeds. Sprink the cucumbers with salt and let them stand 30 minutes. Drain the excess water. If you are using English cucumbers, skip this step.

While the cucumbers are drying out a bit, chop the parsley, scallions, and dill. Once drained, chop the cucumbers coarsely. Put the cucumbers, lemon juice, buttermilk, and yogurt in the blender, and blend at high speed.

Add the scallions and dill. Season to taste with salt and pepper (use a little less salt than you think you want - it will get stronger as it chills).

Chill well before serving. YUM!

And I know I know... pictures. Sorry, it disappeared too quickly. I can show you an empty bowl if you like!

Enjoy this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed With Grace!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'm Not An Alcoholic

I have a trio of fun giveaways going on right now:

Family calendar giveaway from BusyBodyBook right here.

JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii right here.

Spinbrush MyWay! (for girls) battery operated toothbrush right here.


I may have just drunk a good portion of a bottle of wine by myself, but I am not an alcoholic. Let me explain how I got to this situation in the first place.

1) I am on day three of being a single parent, and I forget how hard it is when you don't have any support at home. Sure, it's nice that when I put things a certain way they stay that way, but when I need a break, I no longer have one. No, my husband didn't leave me - he's in Vegas with a friend for five days. Yes, I'm that nice a wife.

2) I agreed to watch a friend's two children for five hours a day three Sundays in a row. While her kids are fine and mine like them, having four kids in the house while trying to avoid crying and other drama can be somewhat traumatic. Today was our third week of the three...

3) ... so I decided to take all four children by myself (see #1) to the Kohl's Children's Museum today. On their 25th anniversary celebration. A free day. To say it was crowded was a bit of an understatement. I will admit that the day went far better than I thought it would as I started out, but my grasp on sanity has obviously left me - proof being the idea in the first place.

4) I have certain rules in my car - like no throwing of any objects by anyone - that I tend to be fairly strict about. I pulled my car to the side of the road to reiterate that one on the way home after four overtired children couldn't quite manage to listen to reason while the car was moving. Once I mentioned that things like throwing items in my car (and punching each other) were the kinds of behaviors that I would need to tell my friend when she asked how her children behaved and explained to my wee one that they would be cleaning out the car entirely and all books were being removed from it once we got home, all was fine.

5) Once I got home, I was proactive and did a load of laundry. After glancing inside, I saw that Little Miss's pj bottoms from the night before were in there, so I decided to do darks. (Quick backstory - with our overnight p0tty training issues and my husband out of town, I decided to put Little Miss in Pull-Ups outside her pjs. She'd still have to stay dry, but hopefully the sheets wouldn't need to be washed twice a night. Friday night she was dry all night. Last night, not so much.) What with it being summer and my husband being out of town, we had slightly fewer darks than normal, so I took a look through my closet to see if I could toss anything extra in. Bad idea mixing Mommy's nice clothes with the wee ones' wear.

6) Once the wee ones were in bed, the washer finished at exactly the right time. As I started pulling clothes out, I noticed that there were little white things in my load of darks. Ugh, I thought, Little Miss put one of her dirty Kleenexes in her pocket and forgot to take it off. (She'd had a little runny nose for a couple days.) As I continued to pull items from the washer, I realized that no... this was in fact a Pull-Up explosion. Although I'd asked her this morning when I saw her in different bottoms what she'd done with the bottoms and Pull-Up (and ensured that she put the bottoms in the washer instead of her dirty hamper), she had "accidentally" put the Pull-Up in the washer, and I hadn't seen it when I'd peeked inside.

7) I took the entire load downstairs and outside and proceeded to spend the next thirty-five minutes shaking out each individual piece of clothing to get as much of the nasty Pull-Up goop off the clothes as possible. Interestingly, stretchy fake type materials, silky things, and velveteen don't hold onto the goobers nearly as well as regular cotton items.

8) After that thirty-five minute period, I looked like a snowman with bad dandruff. Although I had remembered to close my mouth and nose and turn my head while shaking, I was covered in the Pull-Up goobers. On the plus side, having gone through an hour long wash cycle, at least they weren't quite so urine-soaked as they had been previously. And yes, I've since taken a shower.

9) I then spent the next twenty minutes cleaning the Pull-Up goop from the washing machine itself. You'd think a Pull-Up explosion would essentially disintegrate, but no, it adheres to any and all surfaces of the washing machine, in addition to the clothing. It was not easy to get the stuck on goop off the metal in the washing machine. Every time I thought I had it all, I found more. In the end, I practically needed to crawl inside my slightly urine-smelling washing machine (whee!) to get it all removed.

10) After putting the shaken clothes back into the washing machine for a double rinse cycle (in hot water with vinegar), I still found some of the little white goobers attached to the clothes - not nearly as many, but some. Oddly enough, I almost didn't care after having drunk my little bit of wine.

On the plus side, the wee ones were so exhausted from the activities of the day that they fell straight asleep once they tumbled into bed.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

But I'm *NOT* Scared!

I have a trio of fun giveaways going on right now:

Family calendar giveaway from BusyBodyBook right here.

JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii right here.

Spinbrush MyWay! (for girls) battery operated toothbrush right here.


As a special treat last night, the wee ones and I headed to the library to borrow a movie to watch for a special movie night with Mommy. Have I mentioned how much I love the library? Free books, free movies, free artwork, free all sorts of great stuff!

I digress.

We went to the library partly because I want to start expanding the wee ones' repetoire of movies. While I tend to be fairly conservative about what I'm comfortable letting them see - just because it's G doesn't mean it's ok! - this also means they have seen only a handful of different movies. Ever.

As Mister Man is going into first grade, this is starting to be a social issue for him - and he has enough of those already. Part of the reason I don't show more movies is that Mister Man gets freaked out by them so much. When he's seen part of Ice Age while at a friend's house, he ran into the kitchen screaming because he was scared. We watched The Muppet Movie recently, and that scared Mister Man. We tried The Rugrats Movie, and Mister Man asked me to turn it off.

At some point, he needs to learn to be a little less sensitive, and my shielding him from the majority of television and movies (uhhhh yeah, we don't watch tv either - go fig) probably isn't helping matters any. That doesn't mean that I'm going to start having the wee ones watching any movie, but I do recognize that we need to start branching out.

In the end, we chose The Tale of Despereaux, which looked to be fairly cute and innocuous. But fairly innocuous doesn't mean that we won't have issues going trying to watch it.

In preparation for this, we talked about movies - how they are generally good versus evil, since that makes for a good story. We discussed how we know that in the end, good always wins out but that sometimes bad things might happen along the way. If nothing bad or surprising ever happened, it wouldn't make for very much of a story.

Mister Man seemed to be buying into this a little, and it was a pretty good conversation. We talked about the stories that he makes up in his head (he invented his own comic book "Beyond Time In Space" and is convinced he's going to write more Star Wars movies), and he seemed to realize that they also had the good versus evil theme.

We got home and ate dinner before I prepped the movie. I got out my Angie's Kettle Corn (too hot to pop popcorn on the stove last night!), and we started the movie.

Every few minutes - especially when something a little intense was happening like a cat trying to attack a mouse or knights chasing a rat - Mister Man would pipe up.

I'm not scared.

This part isn't scaring me.

This isn't scary to me.

It's ok. I don't think this is scary.

While some of this may have been more for his benefit than mine, he made it through the movie and loved it. He was so proud of himself, and he can't wait for another Movie Night with Mommy where he can choose a new movie.

And another entertaining moment today from Mister Man? When discussing how digestion works, he explained that, "Once food is digested and moves out of your stomach, it goes to your large Einstein." I was with my mom at the time, and we both had the worst time trying not to burst out laughing. Poor kid.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Need To Teach Her To Close Her Mouth

Do you need to find a way to stay (or get!) organized? Try the BusyBodyBook - giveaway here.

Or if you'd rather be active, I also have a JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii that I'm giving away here.


So I'm not actually talking about Little Miss chewing like a cow, showing the world what she's eating, in this post. I could write an entire post on that, but ... not tonight. Tonight, I'm still shaking my head over my precocious little girl.

For the last several weeks, she has been telling me about her summer school kindergarten teacher who isn't a grandma but looks like a grandma. She comes up with these types of oddly phrased comments on a regular basis, so I didn't think too much of it.

Except that summer school has been over for almost two weeks now. And she's still periodically talking about her teacher who isn't a grandma but looks like one just as she's done since the second or third day of school.

As we were driving to the library this afternoon, she again talked about how when she had her kindergarten summer school class, she had a teacher who looked like a grandma but wasn't a grandma.

The phrase finally penetrated my consciousness, realizing that she hadn't varied the way she'd said it once.

Ummm, Sweetie, your teacher. Is she really not a grandma?

Yes, Mommy. She isn't.

How exactly do you know that? You didn't ask her, did you?

Of course I did. How else would I know?

Do you remember what question you asked her, exactly?

Wellllll, I just asked her if she was a grandma because she really looked like one.

Of course she did. Why wouldn't you insult the kindergarten teacher on the second (or possibly first?) day of school. Fortunately, she doesn't teach at the school Little Miss will be attending in the fall.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Partying Like It's 19...84?

Do you need to find a way to stay (or get!) organized? Try the BusyBodyBook - giveaway here.

Or if you'd rather be active, I also have a JumpStart Get Moving Family Fitness game for the Wii that I'm giving away here.


Last night, Melisa and I went to Ravinia. Ravinia used to be one of my favorite places to go when I lived in the city - super easy to take the Metra up (and get off *at* the concert park) and $8 for lawn seats to see the CSO with name bands not that much more.

A ummm little while has passed, and I now live a healthy drive from Ravinia and have two children and all sorts of excuses. And it's also slightly more expensive. Those $8 tickets don't exist anymore. Last night, the B-52s were playing, and we paid $27 to sit on the lawn - which granted isn't bad for a concert these days. It just means I'm not going to Ravinia a few times a month!

It was Melisa's first time, however, and we decided to do it right. Of course we both also sorta ran out of time, so we didn't get the way cool wine glass holders or low table that we initially talked about, but our food and experience - ahem - rocked.

I learned long ago that you don't just bring a blanket to sit on. Since it cools down so much over the course of the night, the ground gets really damp - and so does your blanket. So I brought my tarps along to place under them. Except that last night was so incredibly humid that everything got wet, from my yummy homemade twix-knockoff bars to my shoes to the cooler and more. Fortunately, we didn't care because we had fun anyway!

There is a beautiful pavilion where the concert takes place, and there is also the option to buy (more expensive) tickets to sit there for the concert. I've never done it though, as I prefer sitting in the lawn, hanging out and enjoying a picnic while listening to the concert - and people watching, of course!

There are people everywhere sitting on the lawn - as far as the eye can see in both directions there are people with blankets and tables and chairs eating and drinking - and excitedly waiting for the concert to start.

Orrrr perhaps sneaking in a little bit of last minute work, as the case may be.

While we were there, we realized that someone else we knew was also attending the concert. And being the responsible bloggers we are, we set out in search of Napwarden - who turned out to be sitting exactly where I usually do when I go to Ravinia - but we couldn't sit there because there were already huge tables set up. Ironic, no? We chatted for awhile before returning to our feast.

And what a feast we had. I brought fresh French bread and spinach dip (and yes the loaf was soggy from humidity by the end of the night!) and my spinach and orzo salad - plus the oh so yummy aforementioned twix bars. Melisa made a really, really yummy curried chicken salad and a great fruit salad, too. And then of course the water and Mike's Hard Lemonade. (Black cherry? Oh please tell me they'll make that flavor forever; it's my new favorite!)

We of course had way too much food and silly us - we brought "nice" dishes to display it in, so we had some heavy stuff to cart back to our cars, but that was ok. Leftovers aren't bad (except that my husband already accidentally dumped the leftover orzo salad on my kitchen floor *sniff*).

Oh yeah... and there was a concert, too. I almost forgot!

The B-52s were great. They haven't lost a step, even though they're older than I want to think about. Sitting on the lawn provides great sound as they have speakers everywhere.

And the people watching - oh the people watching! It was unfortunately too dark (no lights) for me to take any video or decent pictures, but the people dancing and singing all over around us was worth the price of admission alone. I loved seeing how into the concert so many people were!

You are also able to walk up behind the pavilion and stand to watch, knee deep with other concert goers. I loved being able to see the funky stage and awesome hair and clothes the B-52s wore.

And of course, they played all the great songs - Roam was early on, Loveshack was a great extended concert play version, Wig was their opening song, etc etc. And of course there was an encore. There had to be - and it was the perfect ending of Rock Lobster. Part of what makes this so much fun is that you could see how much they were enjoying it and how much fun they were having, too.

As the concert ended around 10:30, we packed everything up and headed back to the shuttle buses to start our drive home. I only had one call from Melisa - where she had to quickly disconnect because she lost a windshield wiper! - and we both arrived home safely and of course too wired to sleep.

But I think I can talk her into going to another concert at Ravinia. And maybe then we'll have our cool table and wire wine glass holders.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two Steps Forward; One Step Back

Do you need to find a way to stay (or get!) organized? Try the BusyBodyBook - giveaway here.


I wrote earlier this week about our excitement at being released from Vision Therapy. Mister Man hit a huge milestone and accomplished so much. That was the good news of the week - and our two steps forward.

And then there's the two steps back. Remeber when I discussed last week about how we're working on moving Little Miss away from Pull-Ups at night? Yeah, it's not going so well.

The first couple nights, my husband and I woke up Little Miss a few times to have her go p0tty at night. She stayed dry, but then we started having solid accidents during the day. Three of them, in fact. That had the washing machine cranked up enough.

After the third night, Little Miss hasn't stayed dry yet - we're hoping cutting off all liquids after dinner helps, but the jury is still out on that one. Even when she's awakened only a couple hours after falling asleep, we still discover her lying soaking wet and sound asleep. And yes, this is my light sleeper who wakes up if I so much as walk past her room too loudly.

The washing machine is now drawing overtime wages, and we're dipping into the "wow, I didn't realize we still owned these" sheets. Last night, I arrrived home from softball and could see the light in Mister Man's room as I pulled into the driveway. That is never a good sign. I could hear him sobbing as I walked into the house and quickly ran upstairs.

Yep, he'd had his own accident in bed, something he hasn't done in years and only - maybe - twice before in his life. And apparently somewhere along the way his mattress cover ripped (according to my husband) and was thrown away. (Side note: yes, we have a cleaning lady who strips our beds and remakes them, so I wasn't aware of this.) Being an IKEA mattress with a thick cover, the cover is removable and washable.

My husband's response? Well, the cover is hard to remove, so he'd left it on for the previous half hour plus of cleanup. We now need a new mattress tomorrow for Mister Man. And it had better come with a protective cover! Instead Mister Man was put back to bed with a towel cover the very wet spot and no sheets, comforter or anything. Since I could see the towel already getting wet, I made a few alterations to the arrangement, including providing Mister Man with a comforter.

Needless to say, I'm in somewhat of a crabby mood after this. Of course, part of that is remnants from the night before.

The wee ones sleep through the night. They sleep in their own beds. They always have, and they just don't know there's an alternative. Shortly after 9pm, Little Miss woke up sobbing hysterically, but couldn't tell me what was wrong. After I comforted her, I came back downstairs. Three minutes later I was back upstairs with more sobbing. And no good resolution. This time I didn't make it down the stairs before her hysteria had me running back into her room.

She didn't want me to leave. She couldn't stop crying - and even today - she couldn't tell me why. Every time she was settled to go back to sleep, she's start up again as I walked out the room. After forty-five minutes of this, she finally asked me to stay and sleep with her. Uhhh, no. She asked to sleep in my bed. Again, no (hello not-staying-dry-girl, not in my bed!).

At this point, I sighed and asked if she wanted to sleep with Mister Man (obviously I had no idea there wasn't a mattress cover on his bed). She agreed, and I placed her next to her thankfully very heavy sleeping brother.

An hour later, she was sobbing again. In his room. Once I made to the bedroom, I determined that she was done with his room. She wanted to be back in her own room (thankfully, she was still dry!). So I picked her up and gently deposited her back in her own room.

That was the last I heard of her that night, but ohhh did it mess with my own sleep. We've never had that experience before, and I have my fingers and toes crossed that we don't experience that particular regression again.

Two steps forward, and one step back. As thrilled as I am that Mister Man graduated from one therapy, I need some more news like that on a regular basis and less backsliding like we've had since then.

Anyone have a glass of wine they can spare?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Am More Than "Mom"

Have a prereader? Enter to win the My First Bob Books Alphabet set here.

Brand new giveaway for a BusyBodyBook is right here.


The wee ones look at me, and they see Mom. They see the woman who cooks for them and with them, always ensuring that they drink their milk. They see the woman who does their laundry and helps them clean their rooms. They see the woman who kisses the boo boos and bakes the birthday cake.

But I'm more than that, and I wonder if they know about this. I wonder if they know how much I love horses and how much I miss riding them. I wonder if they understand why I choose the books to read that I do and why I enjoy certain authors while rejecting others. I wonder if they consider how I'm a slightly different person when I'm with my friends and my focus isn't on them.

I doubt they do.

When I look at my mom, I see the same thing. I see the woman who is always there with advice and help. I see the woman who made the spaghetti to put into the refrigerator for lunch. I see the woman who drove me all over kingdom come for various activities.

And I know she got a little lost, too. I was thinking about this the other day while reading a book where the author explored her mother's addressbook after her death and discovered all sorts of mysterious facts about her mom.

To be honest, the author was a little surprised and rocked by some of the relevations she learned about her mom. Her mom was a real person, and that was so hard for her to reconcile with her image of her mom.

And I don't want that. I don't want to have the wee ones see a version of me that I paste on for the world. I want them to know who I am and to feel comfortable growing into their own individuals based on the role model I am. And for me, I don't want to put my life into separate pockets - the mom bucket, the me bucket, and so forth.

When I hear about my mom going to the city with her friends for the day to explore museums and see a play, I'm still surprised. I feel badly that this is something that my mom wasn't able to do as I grew up - or that she didn't share with me when I was growing up. That isn't the relationship I want to have with the wee ones.

And with that in mind, I'm going to heave a huge sigh of relief and take away that guilt. Tomorrow I'm heading to Ravinia to see the B-52s, and I'm going to tell the wee ones what I'm doing and why.

And the next time I have the opportunity to do something fun? Well, so long as it doesn't conflict with something the wee ones are supposed to do, count me in!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

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Generally, I don't post recipes off a box. Ok, generally, I don't make recipes off a box. This past week, I made this recipe for a party I was hosting, and we were all so surprised by how absolutely yummy it was. Of course, we did alter what we made slightly from the official recipe - it wouldn't be me if I didn't make it my own a little bit!

Mediterrean Cous Cous

1 T olive oil
2 large chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 c chicken stock
2 T white wine (and yes, I did initially type "whine" - it's been one of those days)
1 package Near East Parmesan flavored cous cous
1/3 c feta cheese
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/2 c parsley

Trim the chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. Mince the garlic (don't use the bottled stuff, please!) Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and stir to separate. After a minute, add the garlic. Sautee until the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes or so.

Pull out the chicken and garlic, and set aside for the moment. Add the broth, wine, and spice packet from the cous cous. Bring it to a boil, then add the cous cous and the chicken/garlic.

Remove from the heat and cover. Let it stand for five minutes while you cut the grape tomatoes in half and chop the parsley. Once the cous cous is done, gently stir it and sprinkle the top with the feta, tomatoes and parsley.

Enjoy, and YUM! Look for this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed With Grace!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pushing Through The Unexpected

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Two good friends of mine from college got married on the same day almost eleven years ago. I had to choose only one wedding to attend, and it turns out I chose the right one.

My out of town friend called me four years into his marriage to let me know that his wife had left him. She had simply decided that she didn't love him anymore - if she ever had - and that she wanted her own life back in Chicago.

While he was devastated, he wasn't accepting it. There was nothing to precipitate it, and no reason she couldn't work through it. He decided to support her and let her work through it to realize that it was something else in her life that she was dissatisfied with and not him.

The parallels between that situation and the one described in This Is Not The Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson where she goes through her day by day personal tragedy after her husband gave her the same news.

At least publicly, my friend dealt with his grief gracefully. He continued moving forward with his life, maintaining interests and creating new ones. In the end, his wife became his ex-wife, and he dealt with that well - and is now married with an almost one year old child.

When I think about the pain that he had to have been going through, his complete faith inspires me. He's like me in that he prefers life to be well-ordered and predictable (yeah, with children, that gets stretched a bit), but he always knew he would be happy and that he could find his way to peace again, moving forward just one day at a time.

I'll be honest that there are days when my life isn't the peaches and roses I wish it were. There are days I wish I were still single and in the city with only myself as a responsibility. And there are days my husband drives me batty and I dream about a husband who can magically read my mind. But I know that I wouldn't change what I have if I could - and that faith keeps me grounded.

This post was inspired by "This Is Not The Story You Think It Is" by Laura Munson, which I received as part of the Left to Write book club. We do not do book reviews but rather write about something the book inspires (and no, I would not recommend this book, as a side note).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Now *This* Is A Graduation I Can Celebrate!

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I am not big on graduations for every occasion, as I've discussed previously.

Today (yep, on a Saturday), however, we had a graduation that I am still celebrating. I called everyone I could think of to share the good news, and I even tweeted it. What was this graduation? Why, Mister Man finished his vision therapy today!

Now, keep in mind that Mister Man has been in one type of therapy or another since he was seventeen months old. With him not talking, I had him evaluated, and lo and behold he entered the Early Intervention program where he received five hours of therapy a week - speech, occupational and physical.

He continued that not until he graduated from it, but until he aged out. When he turned three, he became the responsibility of the school district, where he continued to receive the same therapies and also added a social component.

He has never dropped a therapy. He's never become age appropriate to where we can say we don't need a particular therapy anymore; welcome to the life of the special needs child. His IEP to this day has some of the same goals that were written almost four years ago, and it requires the same set of services be provided weekly.

In fact, we added private occupational therapy earlier this summer (after I quit my job to give myself more time to dedicate to getting him the services he needs - whee!). Fortunately, he loves this OT, especially since it's conducted in a gymnastics facility in a one on one setting, so he feels like he has his own gymnastics class just like Little Miss.

The vision therapy one threw me for a loop, however. It was a surprise when we started it, in fact. Mister Man entered kindergarten last year, and we took him for the required exam - except that I went to a developmental optometrist.

While there, I learned that while he sees (or saw since he now has glasses!) 20/20, his eyes didn't function properly. He had visual perception issues and lacked depth perception.

This explained so much.

When he read aloud, he skipped some words and added others. It turns out that his eyes couldn't follow the line across the page, so he relied completely on context for reading. While this sufficed for now, come later in the elementary years, he would suddenly have a very difficult time.

And t-ball last year? When he never hit the ball a single time from coach pitch? And my child who was completely unable to catch even the most softly thrown ball? OH! It's because he sees the ball in a different place. No wonder that's such a challenge.

And his handwriting? No, it isn't just a fine motor delay. His brain and eyes weren't working together to help him figure out how to plan in space and determine how big and how close together to write his letters.

My eyes were opened.

And we began our vision therapy journey last fall. We have been going once a week to a location forty minutes from my home - because there are very few doctors who do this (and none in my insurance network!) for an hour since late fall.

We could start to see differences as we did the homework and he progressed in his therapy sessions. He could catch his socks when I tossed clean laundry to him to put away. He stopped skipping words when reading aloud. He suddenly became interested in drawing and creating - something he'd avoided his whole life.

And January 22, my insurance company - that would be BCBS of IL - decided that my developmental optometrist can no longer bill for services. My letter of exemption for the specific CPT code and agreement to pay me in network rates since there were no other providers were apparently no longer worth the paper they were written on (I'm still fighting this one), and so all the expenses were now borne out of pocket.

In case you've never been to therapy of any type, let me tell you that is it not cheap. Were we not seeing the results already, I would have discontinued it immediately. I could justify the risk of not being reimbursed because I could see the difference the therapy was making with my child.

And today? We had a progress report today. Mister Man read the randomly spaced stream of numbers without a hitch. He followed the cue with only his eyes - neither his head nor his mouth moved to help him track it. He could tell his right from his left. His copying of random shapes in a grid was "completely average and age appropriate."

I couldn't stop the smile from lighting my face. "Average" may not be the way you want your child described, but me? That description of Mister Man makes my heart sing!

We are officially released. Mister Man has made such great strides that we can halt our therapy sessions and just work on our practices at home from time to time. He graduated from a therapy.

And for me, this is a real graduation to celebrate!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Have My Own Priorities

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While The Chicago Moms Blog has closed down, there is a new collaborative blog in Chicago that is just opening up that I am a part of - The Chicago Moms.

Today, you can find me over there where I try to work through my feelings over the priorities the world expresses. How would you spend $99 million over five years?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

And The Potty Training Experiment Continues...

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Little Miss turns five in a mere two weeks. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I know she's thrilled about it (for the record, she's asking for a snorkel and a Star Wars toy for her birthday).

I have other priorities than her birthday, however. Little Miss is still in Pull-Ups.

P0tty training my little girl has not been easy. With Mister Man, we told him how it worked, we told him what he needed to do, and twenty-four hours later, he was in underwe@r 24 hours a day. There are some benefits to having a perfectionist personality.

Little Miss was not so simple. When my parents took the wee ones to Florida a couple years ago while I was at a wedding, my mom put Little Miss in underwe@r and started pushing the issue. She wasn't ready, and I wasn't thrilled.

What I discovered eventually is that Little Miss is perfectly capable of staying dry and using the bathroom, but that she simply doesn't care enough to do so. She's perfectly fine continuing whatever she's doing and using her diaper. And getting wet or dirty? She doesn't care.

We eventually convinced her that she couldn't do swim lessons unless she was out of diapers, and that motivation was the solution for her. Except during naps. And bedtime. And periodic oopses, always of the messy kind.

I finally took away naptime Pull-Ups when I realized that she could indeed stay dry during naptime if she chose but that if she had the Pull-Up, she'd use it. Bedtime - not so much.

We (read: my husband) accidentally put her to bed one night in her underwe@r, and she woke up at 2am saying she had to go potty. Ah-ha! We were golden, or so I naively thought. The next night, sheets were changed somewhere in the o-dark-hundred hours.

Needless to say, we quickly gave up on that idea. And now she's almost five. Less than a month from it, and she's my light sleeper. This is definitely something she's capable of, so I decided to have a conversation with her about it.

Little Miss, you know you can't have sleepvers with your friends if you wear Pull-Ups at night.

I got a blank look.

Peanut, wouldn't it be nice to be able to wear underwe@r all the time and not have to take off your princesses?

She shrugged. Oh yeah... Pull-Ups have fun characters on them now, too.

Little Miss, you know that Mister Man stopped wearing Pull-Ups when he was 3 1/2. How old are you now?

Four and three-quarters.

Hmmm, was Mister Man younger than you when he wore underwe@r at night? Hoping, desperately and obnoxiously hoping that a little competition and sibling rivalry might kick her "anything you can do, I can do better" personality into gear

Three and a half is younger than I am now.

Right, so don't you think it's time for you to stop using Pull-Ups?

But I don't want to!

Well, why on earth not?

Mommy, when I'm sleeping, I'm too lazy to get up to go p0tty. Ummm, are you kidding me? You're four and copping to being lazy? Ohhhhh no.

Just so you know, when you turn five, you will no longer be able to wear Pull-Ups. That is one of your birthday presents, and if we run out of Pull-Ups before then... I'm not buying any more.

Insert whining.

And then we realized on Sunday night at about 7pm that Pull-Ups were all gone. None. Zero. And so we began The Great Underwe@r Experiment.

After soliciting suggestions on Twitter (ahhh how I love Twitter), I grabbed all our spare towels to place under Little Miss while she was sleeping to make changes much easier in case of issues. My husband and I woke her up three times to go p0tty over the course of the night, and ... she stayed dry.

The next night, we had the same routine, and she was dry. Tuesday, she had a solid accident in her underwe@r because she was too busy playing to go p0tty. *sigh* It had been almost a year. Tuesday night, we had the same routine and same outcome. And yesterday? Another accident of the messy variety - while we were out of the house, of course.

This is not an even trade.

Last night, my husband suggested we cut down on the number of times we wake her up. I reluctantly agreed, and she got a mere once a night midnight p0tty call. Amazingly, she was dry this morning yet. That gives me hope, and fingers crossed we aren't trading again today.

So far as I can tell, she has yet to wake up to go on her own. That doesn't bode well for my sleep. I'm ok for now, but once my husband goes back to school at the end of August, I no longer have anyone in the house awake in the middle of the night.

Someone tell me that I'm not setting myself up for massive piles of laundry!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

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I know, I know... I'm actually posting my Tasty Tuesday recipe on a Tuesday. That almost never happens anymore. I had a party at my house last night. Needless to say, I was cleaning and organizing right up until the first person arrived (and oh does it feel good to throw things away!), and the last person didn't leave until almost 11. I wasn't exactly up to posting then!

This recipe isn't actually from last night, however - although I do have a few pretty good ones! Instead, I made this one on Sunday when a friend's two children came over to play with mine for five hours. A kitchen diversion was definitely in order!

And fortunately, they loved them. I did, too. I will never again be able to eat a pretzel from a movie theater or baseball stadium again. And they were super easy, too!

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 c water (not too hot but definitely warm)
1 T sugar
1 t salt
2 1/2 t yeast
4 1/2 c flour
4 T butter (or in my case to keep it dairy free - Earth Balance)
2/3 c baking soda
1 egg yolk
pretzel salt (ok, so I ground sea salt because this wasn't planned ahead enough, and it worked fine)


Combine water and sugar in a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Add 2 c flour and mix until well combined. Add the salt and melted (but not hot!) butter and mix again. Add the remaining flour and mix on low. Once it's all incorporated, change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Cover the bowl with a damp towel, and let it rise for about an hour - you want it to double in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

I used two jelly roll pans lined with sil pats. While they weren't *stuck* stuck on, they didn't release easily. I would recommend brushing your sil pats with oil to ensure no sticking. If you use parchment paper instead of sil pats, definitely brush them with oil.

Use a large heavy soup type pan and fill about 2/3 full of water. Add the 2/3 c baking soda to the water, and then bring the water to a boil.

While the water is heating, divide into 8-12 equal pieces (we did 8, and they were massively large, so next time we're making smaller pretzels). Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope and then shape them.

Part of the fun of doing this with kids was letting them shape them as they wanted to - we had a couple hearts, some circles, and some very interesting looking pretzels. To do a traditional pretzel shape, make a U with the rope, then cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel.

Place each pretzel onto your baking sheet as you finish it. Once they're all done, place the pretzels into the boiling water one at a time for 30 seconds (I flipped mine partway through, and that seemed to work well). Remove them from the water using a a spider and put them back on the baking sheet.

Beat an egg yolk with 1 T of water, then brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.

Enjoy! They were still good the next morning, but I don't know how long they will really keep (I wouldn't guess much longer than that) because they were all gone by then! Check out this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed With Grace!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

We Can't Take Her Anywhere...

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Around us, Arlington Park does a family day on Sundays. While I'm not a huge fan of horse racing (or pony rides or petting zoos, for that matter - but those are entirely separate issues), it can be a lot of fun heading to the racetrack on the train and watching the horses.

And oh yeah... my dad and my husband love to bet on who's going to win.

So we all trekked down there, the wee ones, my husband, my parents, and I. With the train schedule, we arrived there slightly before the third race, so we got to see the horses being prepped for the race (where I correctly predicted the favorite wouldn't win, as I could see that he was slightly off in his left hind), which the wee ones thought was just a blast. They now want to know if I can use a hose to give them their baths, too. I'm tempted, let me tell you.

We made it into the concourse where my husband and father placed their bets (me, I'm content to just watch) before heading down to the rail to watch the race. As we were in a crowded public place, my focus was on the wee ones and whose hands each were holding. I had Little Miss, and my dad was with Mister Man.

As we got near the rail, my mom tripped. She missed a step, as those giant yellow lines they paint across them are pretty hard to miss (if you walk with your eyes closed). I grabbed her and kept her from falling all the way, but with Little Miss on one hand, I wasn't as quick as I usually was.

She insisted she was ok, but Mom-the-Martyr was not ok judging by the look on her face. She insisted on watching the race, so we settled her on a bench. I could already see that her foot was swollen, so off I went to find the first aid station and get some ice.

That was the first race I missed. Oddly, they hide the first aid station wayyyyy far away back behind two doors, but I eventually found it and got her an ice pack.

We helped her back up into the concourse where we set her down while we got lunch for everyone, gently lifting her foot into a chair. As the next race neared, she insisted we all go to watch it and that she would be fine walking to it. But she wasn't.

That was the second race I missed, as I helped her hobble down to the first aid station for them to look at it. They immediately wrapped it after determining that they couldn't feel any bones out of place.

My mom remained in that poor chair in the concourse - not even facing one of the monitors so she could see what was going on - for the remainder of the race schedule. She refused to go home and ruin the day for the rest of us, but she was obviously in pain.

Of the remaining five races, we had to leave before the last one, two I missed while doing the family activities with the wee ones (the aforementioned pony rides and petting zoo), and the last one I missed while tracking down assistance to the train station - and yes, they did provide a wheelchair and then car ride to it or we would never have made it). I vaguely remember the racetrack being more fun when I went there with work folk on outings.

The verdict from the orthopedist is that yes, she did sprain it so she's in a soft cast for now. If she's still in pain in two weeks, she's to return to see him for an MRI to sniff out any additional damage. My guess? There's no way she'd admit to further pain and won't go no matter what.

But the next time we go to Arlington? I think we might leave her at home. That or she's going to be assigned to hold someone's hand, just like the wee ones!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

You Chose Owl What?

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Yesterday was the last day of summer school for the wee ones. While I am happy to not be waking up quite so early in the morning to get them out the door to the 8am classes, I know they enjoyed them and are looking forward to what they'll take next year.

Little Miss's kindergarten prep class is complete (although I had a horrible time this morning convincing her she wasn't on her way to kindergarten today), and Mister Man has no more cooking class (I may yet have to post on that one) or science class. Prior to the end of the science class, however, there was a science fair.

Mister Man was excited to have me come to visit his classroom and see the science fair and only told me that it started at 11am three to four times each day the week leading up to it.

When I asked for more information about it, he explained that he'd chosen the owl pellet project. He was to open the owl pellets and build a vole skeleton.

I'll admit right now that I did not have the greatest science education growing up. When I got to college and had my first chemistry class, I had no idea what a pipette was. I only passed that class thanks to a very bright friend of mine who graciously agreed to my lab partner.

Needless to say, I chalked up his explanation to being six and not really getting things and just smiled and nodding. I was thinking - don't ask me why - that his chosen project was to open up some plastic owl-shaped container with a plastic skeleton puzzle in maybe twenty pieces. And note the word chosen - yes, he chose this project.

Ohhhh how my eyes were opened. Allow Mister Man to explain his science project.

You see, owls eat their prey - voles, mice, etc. They digest everything they can, which leaves fur and skeletons. These are compacted together in the owl's stomach in to - wait for it - pellets, which they then vomit up.

Uhhhh. Yep. My son's science fair project is owl vomit.

So apparently these little gems are all over forest floors, if you know where to look. Oddly, I've never seen them before. The science supply stores, however, sell them - lucky us.

You open up a pellet, which is fortunately wrapped in lovely tin foil, whether to protect the owl pellet or people, I'm not actually sure. You then start digging through the compacted fur - which is rather dust-like - to find the bones encased within.

There's also a nifty little digging stick tool to help you get the pellet started and ensure you aren't missing any pieces of the skeleton.

Once you have the bones removed from the bits of fur, you simply arrange them on the handily provided piece of paper that shows where the bones are in the various animals and "build" your skeleton from there.

Interestingly, the skull and jawbones appear to have been the easiest to find, and they were also Mister Man's favorite. When he asked to bring these home, I unfortunately had to decline.

No, my child couldn't have the project on planets and space. He wasn't interested in the density of various liquids. He didn't want to build circuits or create pressure with Alka-Seltzer to pop open small containers. No, he chose to build skeletons from owl vomit.

Call me a wimp, but there are some things about science I was just fine not knowing. And yes, he has announced that he wants to take this class again next year.

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