Thursday, April 30, 2009

To Do Or Not To Do...

Today I will finish my to do list.

Or at least as much of my to do list as I'll get complete for awhile. This is my last day of "vacation." In fact, my vacation ends today at noon when Little Miss climbs off the bus and our normal schedule resumes. No more both wee ones out of the house and time for me to do what I want and need to be done.

In the next four hours -- after I get Little Miss onto the bus, of course, and Mister Man dropped off at preschool, I have quite an impressive plan.

First, I will stop by the library to get Eclipse. Yep, I may have been number seven on the hold list, but somehow the book came in for me the day after I finished New Moon. I'm thinking this may be the end of my productivity, but ... I've got plans.

I also need to stop by four local businesses that have promised donations for the wee ones' Cinco de Mayo fundraiser at preschool. Of course, one of them is ten minutes south of me and another ten minutes north of me. It's hard to complain when they're donating though, isn't it?

Oh, and I can't forget that I am supposed to be volunteering at our local elementary school's rummage sale. In exchange for volunteer hours, they share the proceeds from the sale with the wee ones' preschool. I've spent ten of my "free" hours there so far this week.

I also need to do some more weeding. I had the entire front landscaping, in addition to most of the north side of the house and half my garden free of weeds. And then it rained. And rained. I'll show pictures of the damage tomorrow. Let's just say that I invested in Preen when I stopped at Costco this week.

Most importantly though, today I will be sure that Little Miss naps. She has to nap today. Her napping is the only way I can read, Eclipse, after all. Well, unless I skip the rest of my obligations and instead hang out at the library to read.

I wouldn't do that though, would I?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

And This Is Why I Don't Read....

I have a stack of books that I want to read. And I truly want to read them. I haven't made much of a dent in them, though. It's completely rational. I have a ton of stuff to do, and reading just isn't up there in the priorities. It should be, I know, but reading is dangerous.

Forty-eight hours ago, I knew little about Twilight. I knew that it was about Edward and Bella and that they were vampires. I knew it was based in the Pacific Northwest. And I knew that it was a love story. Oh, and I knew that there were four books, although I couldn't have told you the titles other than the first one.

Then a friend of mine lent me Twilight. She had a copy, and it meant I didn't need to buy the book or wait for the library -- although I wasn't on the wait list, so I wasn't getting it that way anytime soon anyway.

I put it into the mental pile of books I want to read. And the wee ones and I happened to go to the library that same day. I was interested in finding Love and Logic, which Dawn had recommended to me. The wee ones were occupied with their books, my husband had met me at the library and was watching them... and I snuck down into the adult section.

While there, I found Love and Logic. I've read the first three chapters so far and enjoy it. I also put myself on the wait list for the other Twilight books. I now know their names, although not the order in which they were written.

It's possible that I also picked up a Sharon Kay Penman book that I'm three quarters of the way through reading.

I left Twilight in my car, since I know that bringing it into the house would mean I'd read it. Then I got a mani/pedi. Oops. Rather than read the outdated magazines, I brought the book into the shop with me. This was Monday.

At 1:16am Monday evening, I finished Twilight. I then called the friend who lent it to me to see if she was home so I could "return" it to her. She offered to lend me the next one. She wasn't home, so I couldn't do the switch, but she volunteered to stop by my house after she finished running around for the day.

At 5pm, I had no new book. I "happened" to be driving by her house running an errand at 5:30 and decided to bring the book back to her house. She had company though, so I disappointedly just tied the bag containing Twilight to her door.

She saw me though and insisted that I come in, as it was just her MIL. And she lent me the second book. I didn't get home until 9pm from the errands I was running, but I started reading the book then.

At 8:32am, I finished the New Moon. And my friend is still not finished with Eclipse, so I have to wait for that. I just checked at the library, and I'm still eighth on the wait list.

And this, this is why I don't read. A magazine I can put down after an article and go about my day or fall asleep. A good book is always just "one more chapter" although even I know that isn't true when I think it.

Maybe it's a good thing that I don't have access to Eclipse yet. Unless I go buy it somewhere....


PS At about 10am this morning, I got an email from my local library. I have a book now waiting for me. Yep, it's Eclipse. Why not any of the others, I don't know. But tomorrow morning I'll be headed to pick it up. I didn't get it (and finish it) today only because the library closes at 9pm and I didn't check my email until 9:23pm. Apparently today's productivity will be shot tomorrow. Only one more to go after that, at least!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

Summer is finally working it's way to Chicago. Of course, being Chicago, winter is still fighting back. That's why it's 42 degrees today. Yesterday was mid seventies, and we had some beautiful weather on Saturday... until it dropped 30 degrees by 5pm.

Regardless, I'm done with winter, which means I've started grilling. You saw the marinated steak from last week. This week, I did lemon chicken kebabs. Yum. The wee ones usually tell me this is their favorite food ever when I make it, and I certainly feel good about feeding it to them.

Plus, marinade + grilling = easy meal!

Grilled Lemon Chicken Kebabs

3 chicken breasts
2 lemons
3 cloves garlic
1/3 c olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 red/orange/yellow pepper
1 Spanish onion

Trim the chicken breasts, and cut them into chunks for the skewers. Don't make them too large, or they won't cook fast enough, but you don't want them tiny either.

In a Ziploc or other container, zest one lemon and then squeeze the juice of the lemons. Peel and chop the garlic into the container. Add the olive oil and salt and pepper. You'll want more pepper and less salt than you'd expect. Mix this well, and then add the chicken.

Marinate for at least two hours but no more than four or so. You want the flavor to get into the chicken, but you don't want chicken cerviche!

While it's marinating, cut the peppers and onion into large pieces. I typically keep three onion pieces "together" vs separating them entirely. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them for a good hour or longer to ensure that you have skewers remaining when you're finished grilling.

If I'm doing this for company, I'll do chicken, pepper, chicken, onion, chicken, tomato, chicken, onion, chicken, pepper, chicken on the skewer -- and yes, I have long skewers. It looks pretty that way. If I'm just doing it at home, I'll put all the veggies on a skewer, with the chicken on separate skewers. This way I can better monitor the cooking time. See, I'm thinking!

I usually grill this on medium (I have a pretty hot grill) for five to eight minutes, turning after 4 minutes. This is really great with dilled rice, and it's perfect for a warm summer night.

And of course, as always go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!


Monday, April 27, 2009

Someone's Got It In For Me

This week is my vacation. And by my vacation, I mean MINE. Not the wee ones'. Not my husband's. I'm not going anywhere, but this is my week to recharge.

It all started when my parents -- who provide a ton of help to us during the week with childcare -- announced they were going to Amelia Island with an aunt and uncle for a week in April. My mom immediately started panicking. What would I do about the wee ones? Who would take them to daycare? Who would pick them up from preschool? Oh, it was a disaster and she never should have agreed to go....

I simply announced that I would take the week off work. That mollified her.

Of course, my plan was to take the week off work and keep the wee ones in school and daycare. Thus, it's my week of vacation.

It is not meant to be.

Last Wednesday, my aunt's brother passed away. The vacation was off. My mom cheerfully announced that I no longer needed to take the week off since they'd be in town now. Uhhhh, yeah.... And the guilt trip started. I'm proud of myself, though; I didn't cave.

My dad announced that they're taking the wee ones to the city on Wednesday and going to the Field Museum, and how fun. I was going, right? Uhhh, sorry, Dad, but you are soooo wrong on that one. His opinion is that since they're in town, the wee ones can just skip school all week. Yeah, not so much.

We compromised. I'm not going to the Field Museum, but they are. My Wednesday vacation day is back on.

And yesterday? My husband couldn't get out of bed. He had a fever. The veteran teacher who never gets sick was miserable. I informed him that he absolutely was not allowed to remain sick. He had to find some way to get his immune system into gear and off to school once Monday morning rolled around. And he did.

And the green noses from the wee ones? I didn't see anything, did you?

Day One of my vacation? A success.

It involved a manicure, a pedicure, and lunch with some really fun friends consisting of Lou's (good Chicago pizza for the uninitiated) and an initiation into the world of eggless cookie dough. Did I mention that I'm also 152 pages into the first Twilight book?

I feel better already.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It'll Never Look Like This Again....

Little Miss has hair issues. Unlike her brother, when she was born, she didn't have long and thick eyelashes, and her hair was pretty much nonexistent. His hair grew in thick and fast. Hers... didn't.

My mom kept telling me that mine didn't come in until I was three, and that it was thin before that -- but look how thick it is now. That comforted me for awhile. At Little Miss's third birthday, I started to question this, but people kept telling me that her hair would come.

Every month that passes, my belief falters just a little bit more. Her hair is thin, and it flies everywhere. It's always in her eyes, because it isn't thick enough to hold a barrette or long enough to tuck behind her ears. You've seen the brushing before and after pictures.

I finally gave up. This is what Little Miss is doomed to look like, forever:

So today, I took her to get her hair cut. I requested that they cut it as short as they can get away with to look "cute" and to make it appear fuller than it is. They obliged. In fact, I told her she looks just like Grandma since Grandma has the exact same haircut now. Doesn't it look cute?

I love that feeling right after you're finished with a haircut. It looks great, no hairs are out of place, and there's just this sense of peace. Until you realize that the woman used product, had a special styling brush and spent fifteen minutes styling Little Miss's hair.

Granted, the hair now looks like this:

However, I don't have the time or talent to recreate this look. Tomorrow morning when she wakes up, the dream will be over. At least until the next haircut. When I may ask them to make it even shorter in the back.

Friday, April 24, 2009

So What's Normal Anyway?

Mister Man has had developmental delays since he was an infant. The majority of his issues are driven from a lack of core strength. Without a core, he couldn't talk. Talking late means his social was delayed since he couldn't communicate. The core also delays his gross and fine motor, as you have to be able to control your core to control your shoulder to control your whole arm to control your lower arm to control you hand to control your fingers.

It's a long process to remediate this, and we're still working on it. He's been receiving therapies since he was 17 months old, and at his third birthday, he moved into a special needs school to continue his therapies. He started out in a self-contained classroom receiving over two hours of PT, OT and speech each week.

He's made huge progress with the right kinds of teachers and activities and therapists over the past two and a half years. He doesn't automatically stick out in a group of kids anymore -- although there are times he does -- and he has friends that he loves playing with who also enjoy playing with him. In accordance, his minutes of therapy have slowly decreased.

Today, we had his IEP meeting. It was a big one, as it also was the one to requalify him for an IEP, in addition to the transition to the kindergarten team at our local elementary and the annual review of his progress. And they scheduled it for an hour. Silly people!

The good news is that the meeting went well. He's made huge strides that not only I'm seeing but that the school also recognizes. They give him standardized tests to measure his skills (not academic but physical), and there were some that are now above average where all had previously been significant delays.

This made my heart sing.

Each of the therapists also gave a verbal narrative of the concerns and achievements that they've witnessed. And now? Some of them just make me shake my head. They had two concerns in particular that really make me wonder if they have a skewed version of normal. What they describe sounds fairly typical to me when I see other kids from our neighborhood and elsewhere at the age of five or six.

When Mister Man wants to get someone's attention, and that person is across the room, he'll frequently shout, "Hey!" instead of walking over to the person and addressing them by name in a quiet voice. Seriously? Seriously, this is a concern? Show me a kid who doesn't shout from across the room, please!

And another big concern is that when a therapist came over to chat with Mister Man, he was reading a book -- one of his favorite activities. The therapist began reading the book to him, then stopped reading and asked him an unrelated question. He didn't answer the question but instead said "Keep reading. What's the next word?" He didn't say please or phrase it as a question. And he wanted to (gasp) get back to his preferred activity instead of talking to the therapist. And this was cited as a social skill that he needs to work on. Uh-huh.

The good news is that with these types of criteria, I know the school won't need to worry about running out of kids who qualify to attend. Manners -- even for parents who work on them, and we do -- aren't the forte of a five year old, and that to me seems to be pretty typical. They're definitely things we need to work on, and we plan to do so, but I wouldn't call it something requiring an IEP. To me, at least, this is just education. Normal education.

And really, if these are the kinds of things that the school is focusing on now -- and there are other things, as he tends to get in people's faces when he gets excited and his fine motor is still not at age level -- I'm totally cool with that.

Mister Man, you've done a ton of really great work, and I'm so proud of you!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doing School

If you have a child, I have a book you need to read - and I don't say that lightly. If you interact with a child, I have a book for you to read. While technically it's about stressed out high school students, it has messages for parents of kids of all ages.

When your child gets home from school, do you ask him how the test went? Do you schedule activities to make sure your kids get the best opportunities and aren't bored? Do your kids have the same definition of success that you do (go ahead, ask)?

Last night, our school district brought in Denise Clark Pope who wrote Doing School: How We Are Creating a Generation of Stressed-Out, Materialistic, and Miseducated Students. She spoke for slightly over an hour and then took audience questions.

It was powerful. Like I need to reevaluate how I do almost everything with my wee ones powerful. The statistics she quoted were really scary. The level of cheating because kids feel there is no alternative, the tiny minority that feels that homework is actually useful, the kids who check out because trying and failing is too painful, the schools where the average hours of sleep across the entire student body is under five.

And it's happening everywhere.

Kids need to get good grades and be involved in lots of activities. That way they can get into a good college. Then they need to study hard so they can graduate and get a good (read: high paying) job. Then they have to work tons of hours so they can someday be happy. And that's what being successful means.

God help me if the wee ones grow up thinking that this is success. While having enough money to live definitely reduces stress, working hard at a job you dislike can create more stress and unhappiness than being completely broke. I want the wee ones to love what they do in life -- and by life I mean so much more than the hours they spend at work. I want them to feel fulfilled. I want them to have meaning in their lives. And I want them to take the time they need in order to find it.

I went to Northwestern. I was that kid who took all the AP classes in high school and did tons of extra-curricular activities and had the leadership roles you're "supposed to" have. I got to school, and I didn't know how to fail and I was afraid to try.

I was lucky that I finally got it when at Northwestern. I figured out how to enjoy what I did (it took me all of eight weeks to drop the high pressure program I started and find a better fit of a major) and spend time with friends and things I loved. I have friends who never figured it out, and many of them still aren't happy today. While there are times that I am stressed out by work, it isn't drugery that I detest, and it isn't the only thing in my life.

So how do I make sure the wee ones figure this out before I did? How do I get them to be resilient and creative and questioning and self-seeking? Denise Clark Pope walks through all this in her book, which is a really easy read. And I need to go read it again because there's so much more to get out of it.

While kids should be presented with opportunities with extra-curricular activities, as parents we need to limit it. They need downtime to play and figure out things on their own. And as parents, we need to step back and let them. And that's the lesson that's the hardest one for me. But if I don't let the wee ones fail safely now (and that means I won't be running to school with a forgotten lunch or assignment), they'll never learn how to fail and then bounce back with a creative solution.

There is so much more in this book, so many lessons for us as parents. And when the wee ones get home from school when there's a test? I'll be asking if they felt the test was a fair test of their knowledge, if they felt they learned something from it. It's the learning experience I want to create joy in, not the grade I want them to fear.

And the wee ones? Nope, they won't be going to Northwestern. I want them to find a school that's a good fit for them. They'll end up in the right place in life regardless of what school they attend, and the studies bear that out. I was afraid to ask the questions to find a good fit, but I was lucky that it worked out. Had I known now what I had known then, I probably would have gone down an entirely different path. I don't want the wee ones to have that question someday.

And I don't think you do, either. Doing School will help you develop the child you want to raise. And the emphasis is that it's not too late. You can reel in the college senior or start with the two year old. Thank you, Denise.

This Q&A sums it up so much better than I have. But if you read one book this year, just one, make it one that counts for years to come.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tasty Tuesday - Marinated Steak

This week, it was really easy to decide what to feature. I had a friend in town, and I happened to make one of my favorite meals -- and I often forget about it. This was one of the very first recipes I ever received from someone, shortly after I graduated from college.

The first time I made it, I made it with a then-boyfriend for my parents. We had two and a half pounds of beef tenderloin that we cooked, in addition to veggies and potatoes and biscuits and salad. And between the four of us, we ate it all. It was so good that we just couldn't stop. And my mom and I are not huge eaters.

I've made it periodically since, and it always gets rave reviews. One of my husband's friends paid it the ultimate compliment by saying there was no point going to a steakhouse because this was better. Huh.

I've used this with a variety of cuts of meat. Tenderloin is definitely the best because it's so tender, but I did NY strip this time, and it was great. The tougher the meat, the longer I marinate. Tenderloin only goes in for two or three hours. NY strip might go in all day.

Yummy Marinated Steak (I know -- it actually has no name)

3/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c Worstershire sauce
2 t dry mustard
1 1/2 t pepper
1/2 c vinegar
2 (or more) cloves garlic
1/3 c lemon juice
3/4 c vegetable oil

Get out your blender. Pop in the soy, Worstershire, mustard powder, pepper (ground), vinegar, garlic, and lemon juice. Blend it up until it's well mixed. Slowly add the vegetable oil while blending until emulsified.

Put your steaks in a Ziplock bag or container, and pour the marinade over them. Store in the fridge to marinate. Turn them periodically. For the last hour, take them out of the fridge to finish. Steaks cook better when close to room temperature, and I promise that an hour out of the fridge isn't going to make the meat go bad.

Save the marinade after you take out the steaks. Put it in a saucepan and boil. Boil, boil, boil for at least ten minutes.

Grill the steaks to your preferred doneness (if you're using tenderloin, don't go past medium rare or a light medium). I sometmes save some of the marinade to baste the steaks, as well, but it isn't necessary.

Serve the steaks with the marinade sauce as an accompaniment. It's good. My visiting friend kept dipping his bread in the sauce to sop it up, putting more sauce on his plate and repeating.

I need to make this one again, now that the weather is warming up! Go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Oh What A Night!

I only wish I were posting about the song -- and yes, I have it going through my head right now, so you can share in my misery.

Last night, we were invited to a friend's house for dinner. They live in our neighborhood, and ordinarily we'd walk, but it was raining, so we needed to drive. And about forty-five minutes before we were supposed to be there, I realized that I didn't have anything I was bringing. Oops.

So I made Nana's Apple Cake because a) it's dairy free -- her son also has a lactose issue, so it's appreciated b) it's yummy and c) it has three ingredients so I can get it cooking quickly. Yeah.... At 4:52 I finally called her and asked if I could borrow her oven to finish cooking it. We were supposed to be there at 4:30.

Her kids are both boys, and very (stereo)typical boys, at that. Little Miss was super excited to see them, and she ran into the house and started playing. Eventually, they migrated into the basement where the bouncy house was turned on. That required adult supervision, as four children in a two person bouncy gets a little dicey. Especially with some kids who like to turn it on and off. And some kids who like to try to make the walls fall down.

My friend and I left our husbands downstairs to monitor the situation while we chatted and got dinner finalized.

Fun Event A: Mister Man came upstairs holding his arm and crying. And no, I don't know why my husband didn't handle it while downstairs, so don't ask.... He'd fallen on his previously broken arm, at which point we all decided maybe the bouncy house wasn't the best thing to play with right now. Tears gone, we started dinner.

Fun Event B: My friend made great chicken fajitas. She crock potted the chicken in salsa. Neither child would eat the fajitas, although both tried them, to their credit. Neither child would eat the spanish rice my friend made either. She very kindly made them chicken nuggets. And I only twice had to shush Mister Man from going on about how yucky the food was.

Fun Event C: After dinner and before dessert, the kids were all playing upstairs. We had each gone upstairs to check on them a few times when her older son suddenly burst into loud howls. Yep, Mister Man stabbed him in the eye with a Lego toy. We're still not sure of the whole story as Mister Man didn't get much of a chance to explain himself beyond the typical "but it was an accident" story. And her son never game many details either. Mister Man was too wound up from the long weekend and was sent on his merry way home with my husband to go to bed.

Fun Event D: After dessert -- ok in the middle of dessert after my friend's younger son decided he was done eating watermelon and Little Miss quickly followed suit -- the two went upstairs into his room. I checked, and he had turned on a Baby Einstein video. Whatever. I went back downstairs until a couple minutes later when we felt and heard the thud. And then the screaming. I was closest and made it up the stairs first, and my friend's husband was close behind. I opened the door to the room and saw the dresser tipped over with her son underneath. I pushed the dresser back onto the wall, by which point the dad was scooping up the boy to check him out. The television that was atop the dresser had crash landed on the bed, missing Little Miss by about three inches. Her son appears to be fine, although many of the objects that were atop the dresser previously had broken in the fall. The dresser didn't land all the way on her son, as the foot of the bed stopped it. Apparently, he had tried to climb the dresser to reach the VCR to change the movie, and it had tipped. He fell back against the footboard of the bed and probably has a pretty bruised back. The drawers also fell out and landed on his legs, but thank GOD the dresser was stopped by the bed.

We left after that.

I asked her to let me know how both her boys are doing today, but I've gotten a few good reminders and lessons here.

1) Tonight when I get home from work, I am anchoring Little Miss's dresser to the wall. Mister Man only has a very low bureau that he could never topple. But I'm still considering anchoring that, as well.

2) Dinners need to be earlier. We'd been invited for 4:30 with dinner around 5:15 or 5:30. That's too late for an evening out for us. We need to be eating between 4:30 and 5 because social dinners take so long to eat. And the dinner never starts on time anyway -- my friend had forgotten to make rice, so we didn't start our meal until almost six.

3) These kids need to be supervised when playing. While the wee ones can play with some kids with only check ins every five minutes or so, with these friends, there needs to be an adult present at all times.

4) My husand needs to stop showing the wee ones Spiderman. Spiderman cartoons from the 1970s has turned into his little ritual with them, and I've been against this for a number of reasons: it pushes bedtime too late, they get into a very demanding mode where they expect Spiderman, I don't like them watching much tv anyway, and although this is a very sanitized version there still is cartoon violence. In talking to Mister Man after I got home (who was absolutely filled with shame and crushed and could hardly talk, poor kid) I determined that he wasn't trying to hurt anyone but that Spiderman shoots things out and throws things and the bad guys just get captured and don't get hurt. He can't draw the line between what's ok and not, and with his issues in knowing where to draw the line already in some of his social issues, Spiderman is just too much for him. Spiderman didn't necessarily cause the Lego stabbing, but it certainly didn't help the matter. My husband, fortunately, had already thought of the same thing, so we're on the same page.

My biggest concern is that Mister Man is in daycare all morning with the boy he "stabbed" (it was a Lego square ship like thing, so stabbing is a little severe of a description). The boy even when we left was playing the drama up to the hilt -- not saying that he isn't hurt but his mom said he was milking it. Mister Man has two boys in daycare who already get on his case about everything where we've been working with the teachers to ensure the behavior is appropriate. If my friend's son starts talking about what Mister Man did in daycare, we could have a problem. We'll see when I get home.

And meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out when the right time is to call my friend to apologize again for Mister Man and to see how both her kids are doing. But I'm not expecting a dinner invite anytime soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Play Ball!

I’ve learned quite a bit about t-ball in the past couple of days, and even my childless friend who was visiting this weekend and got stuck chasing the wee ones’ schedules today claims to have enjoyed it.

First, if there are opening day ceremonies, find out from experience parents whether or not this is truly a worthwhile event. Our opening ceremonies consisted of a parade, $1 burgers and custards from Culver’s, moon walks and more. Or so they claimed.

Really, we stood by the south entrance of the football stadium for a really long time trying with all our might to ensure that our children didn’t scale the locked fence. We made sure that no child disappeared. We searched for additional teammates. And twenty minutes after our parade was to have started – add in fifteen minutes planned prep time and you have squirrely five and six year olds confined in a small space for over a half hour, ha! – we began our parade.

The parade consisted of everyone, including parents and kids, walking about a half mile to the baseball fields. Then we stood with the other four members of our team amidst other teams while various officials gave twenty-three minutes of speeches. And yes, I kept track.

Fortunately, Mister Man wasn’t bored. He did sand angels with his legs – as did his teammates – until I caught him. He then picked up sand and poured it over his head and onto his shirt. Then he made roads in the sand. When I finally gave up and moved him four feet onto the grass so he could no longer reach the sand, he made like a billy goat and pulled up the grass.

I then had a conversation with him about how playing with sand and grass during a game was not going to be ok. And I mentally planned in some time for a shower later in the day.

The ceremonies finally ended, and the 400 kids were released to go have fun on the moon walks. Yep, both of them. One was a ten foot high slide and the other a moonwalk. And the bigger Little League kids of course came over after awhile and spent most of their time either sitting at the top of the slide blocking everyone from going down or kicking and shoving kids down. If they were knocked down, they bounced on kids at the bottom and them climbed back up the wrong way, stepping on kids on the way up. Yep, I've got a letter to write to the league about suggested either disuse of the moonwalks in the future or potentially some authority monitoring the moonwalks.

And the line for the Culver's food? Yeah, we didn't even try that one. Even after hanging out for over an hour, the lines were twenty people deep. We're just not that patient!

That was at 11am. At 5pm, we had our game. You can imagine how much wound up and exhausted all those five and six year olds were by yesterday evening. Our coach is also new to t-ball, so in our single practice on Thursday, we didn't exactly discuss how a game works or what is expected of t-ball.

Fortunately, parents are allowed on the field in t-ball, so my husband helped Mister Man out at "shortstop." He tried giving him all the hints, from the ready position to what to do if there is a man on first and second and the ball comes to him. Forget the fact that there are no outs in t-ball and the ball is supposed to always just be thrown to first. Mister Man appreciated the advice, however....

After the practice on Thursday, I realized Mister Man needed some remedial t-ball skills. I taught him how to stand and swing, and it really made a huge difference. He's a rules based kid, so drawing two lines on the driveway where his feet belonged made a huge difference -- compared to the "stand here, step forward, swing with your hips" that was being coached. Too amorphous for my boy!

It made a huge difference, and he actually was hitting the ball instead of the tee and hitting it well.

The last batter each inning hits a "home run," and Mister Man was that batter in the second inning. He was so thrilled as he rounded the bases!

Today, we were supposed to have another game. In fact, we should be there this second. Unfortunately, the rains have returned, so we were called off. I think one game this weekend was enough though. Both wee ones went up for naps before one, and I haven't heard a peep for either!

PS I promise the next post won't be about t-ball!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!

Spring has finally arrived. I knew this partly because I wanted to go sit on my deck in the sunshine to work this afternoon and partly because we finally had our first t-ball practice.

Opening Day happens to be Saturday, but that's what happens in Chicago. Our first pratice was snowed/colded out. Our second practice was rained/colded out. And Tuesday? Yep, more rain and cold.

Tonight... Mister Man was introduced to t-ball. While they aren't yet best friends (my husband is currently at Play It Again Sports hunting for a tee among other accoutrements), they seemed to do ok for a first meeting.

He wasn't the kid who got hit in the face by a batted ball and started crying (yes, that happened). He actually knew where first base was. He eagerly charged every ball.

The rest of it though? Well, we might need to practice a bit. This is our first organized sport, so I know it will take awhile. He did hit the ball though (and I'm doing my darndest to make him a lefty!), and he had fun doing it.

At the end of practice, we received our shirts, hats and socks. Mister Man was thrilled that his cap and shirt had his name. But best of all? He loved the idea of being number four!

I asked him to model his new uniform, but he was too tired by the time we got home. This big boy was still at practice when bedtime rolled around, and he's smart enough to know to go to bed when he's tired.

So can anyone guess what team we are?



Yep, we're the Mets! Ok, if you can figure that one out, let me know. I'm completely confused.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Peer Pressure

This morning, I was getting Mister Man ready to head off to daycare. He almost tied his shoes for the very first time. Almost. That's not the point of today though.

Little Miss was already on the bus to preschool, so it was just to two of us. His shoes were on, as was his coat -- and yes, I know it's April 15. In Chicago, we still need a coat this late into spring.

We were almost to the car when I realized that he didn't yet have a hat on. We wear a hat just about every day, either for protection from the cold during the winter with a ski hat or from the sun with a baseball cap during the summer.

I've gotten sightly out of the habit lately, but with the wee ones playing outside at daycare and during gym at preschool, I know it's time to start focusing on the hats again. Little Miss chose her lilac White Sox hat without a fuss.

I remembered that I had a hat already in the car, so I suggested that he just put that one on.

Mister Man: I don't want to wear that one.
Me: Really? Why not? (It's always been one of his favorites.)
Mister Man: Because.
Me: (I'm intrigued now) Well, can you explain why?
Mister Man: Well, some of the kids don't like the Cardinals.
Me: Ahhh. So you want to be like the other kids?
Mister Man: No, I still don't like the cubs. I just don't want them to know that I like the Cardinals.
Me: That's ok. You don't have to tell them.
Mister Man: I just don't want them to make fun of me for liking the Cardinals.


Really? He's five. He's in preschool for goodness sake. Kids not only are choosing teams and pressuring others, but my boy has picked up on it. My boy who doesn't always fit in the greatest and struggles with some of the social cues has figured this out.

And I absolutely did not make him wear the Cardinals hat. I'm just hoping that no one starts ripping on the Vikes. Then we might have to have a little chat.

Poor kid. Where does it go from here? What will actual elementary school be like? Middle school and yikes -- high school?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

This past Saturday was Mister Man's half birthday, and yes, these are occasions that we celebrate in my house. It isn't done up all the way like a full birthday party, but the half birthday child chooses the dinner and also a type of cupcake. Cakes are for full birthdays, and cupcakes for half birthdays in my house.

Mister Man requested a chocolate cupcake with chocolate chips. And strawberry frosting. Uh-huh. Mommy doesn't like chocolate cake, so it's possible that someone tried to talk him into a different type of cupcake and failed miserably.

So instead, I did my darndest to make a type of chocolate cake I could eat. And enjoy. I had intended to puree and strain strawberries for the frosting but when I bought strawberries at the store, I forgot I was buying them for my mom for her Easer salad and neglected to get any for myself.

Instead, I got creative with a half package of strawberry Jell-O. The flavor was good, albeit somewhat crunchy. If I did that again, I'd heat the milk slightly and stir the Jell-O until dissolved instead of adding it into the frosting with the powdered sugar.

No one complained though. In fact, my dad had three. I'd say that's a ringing endorsement!

Double Chocolate Cocoa Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting


2 c chocolate chips (or about 3/4 c chocolate chips left in the bag and a bunch of panic until you remember the milk chocolate melting discs that you chop to make up the remainder -- it was GOOD with two kinds of chocolate melted in the cupcake)
3/4 c butter, room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c milk

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (don't skip this step or shortchange it!). Beat in eggs and vanilla until well mixed.

Add cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Mix until well combined. Add 1/3 c milk. Mix again. Add 1/2 c flour. Mix until just combined. Add the remainding 2/3 milk and mix well. Add the last 1 c flour and stir until about halfway mixed in.

Add the chocolate chips and stir with a spoon until just mixed in.

a) Fill ice cream cones about to the first lip of the cone where it starts to get wide (this makes about 28 cones) or b) fill greased muffin tins with the batter until about 3/4 full.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. If you do cones, it will take longer. Be patient. It's worth it.


1/4 c butter
1/3 c milk, heated
1/2 package strawberry Jell-O (or be good mom and puree about 1/3 c strawberries and strain them)
3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

Cream the butter. Heat the milk until simmering, then add the Jell-O and stir until the Jell-O is dissolved. Add the milk to the butter and beat to combine. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar (slowly) and mix until well combined. If you're adding strawberry puree instead of Jell-O, add it at with the milk (not heated).

Wait until the cupcakes are fully cooled before frosting.

(And, yes, Donald Leopard and Sizzy joined us for the cupcakes, too)

Go check out this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace!


Monday, April 13, 2009

eBay Is On The LIST.

The wee ones' preschool does a fundraiser every year in conjunction with Cinco de Mayo. Because we're a small school with few parent volunteers, and the kids attending are preschoolers, many of which have special needs, our event is during school hours. We don't do the fancy galas that the other schools in our district do but rather have events during the day for the am and pm classes.

We invite parents in to see the events, which includes student performances and a dance troupe from the high school. During this, we have raffles and a silent auction.

The raffles have always gone over well -- including by people not connected to the school, which rocks. The silent auction garnered some negative feedback last year. Because some parents aren't able to attend at all and others have kids only in the am classes, many parents didn't feel it was fair because they wouldn't be there at the end of the auction. Although we offered last year to proxy bids for people if they told us their max bid, not many people took us up on this.

This year, we tried to get a little creative and move into the digital age. Some of us thought it would be great if we could list our silent auction items online for people to bid on -- no arguments of it not being fair because they weren't there and there's also the possibility of opening it to a wider audience for things like the three games of Cubs tickets we have.

In doing research for this, I found two companies doing online auctions that sounded like they might work. cMarket specializes in nonprofit fundraising with online auctions. They had all sorts of neat ways to do things, so I contacted them. Unfortunately, they're not for our school. They have a $595 auction setup fee, in addition to taking a pretty hefty portion of the auction's winning bid. I ruled them out pretty quickly.

eBay was the other possibility, as they have a nonprofit bit setup, as well. You have to vet your organization through Mission Fish and then it sounds like you can potentially list your item and get the listing fees back so long as the proceeds of the auction are for the nonprofit. Totally cool.

Of course (being the non-eBay person that I am), I had a ton of questions. I wanted to know things from: can we group our items together so people can find them easily to how long we can have the auction run since the presale brochure goes out well in advance of the fundraiser itself to how the fees truly work. I couldn't find any of these answers to my satisfaction online, so I sent off an email listing my seven questions very clearly to eBay.

I was promised a response within 48-72 hours. I was fine with that.

I waited 48 hours. Nothing. I waited 72. I was annoyed, but I wrote it off as bad customer service and a sign that I really shouldn't count on this working. And yes, we found an alternate solution that I think will work well -- at least for this year -- late last week.

A full week after I sent my email, I received a response from eBay. I was irritated that it wasn't even close to their 72 hour promise, but I was intrigued to see what it would have to say in the hopes that I could use it for next year or at least pass the info along to other PTOs in our district.

Below is the email verbatim.

Dear Michelle,

Thank you for writing eBay in regard to

We are committed to making your eBay experiences pleasant and

Sid P.

eBay Customer Support

Yeah. I have to say that I believe I will never be using eBay for anything. Ever. How exactly does that come even close to being helpful? Seriously?

And I had such high hopes for the potential of having an online auction. Nope, it's a raffle ($1 per ticket) for our regular items and classroom baskets and a super raffle ($5 per ticket) for our more unique items. Here's hoping that it works out well. We got some really great donations this year, but I know the economy is rotten.

Regardless, we will not be using eBay this year. Or next. Boo.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hippity Hoppity!

Happy Easter to all who are celebrating... and bear with me if you aren't!

It's been a bit of an unusual Easter, with some good tradition still thrown in there fortunately. I went to Maundy Thursday mass to sing in the choir, but I couldn't do two services today and Holy Saturday -- especially with my husband at the Brewers game and me without childcare.

It turns out that the service I missed last night had some drama to them. There was a bonfire outside the church that was contained in a container like what you would put beer or wine in. And it didn't stay contained and sort of spilled outside. And one of my fellow choir members accidentally set her bulletin afire when she held it too close to her taper while trying to read the text. Bummer!

Fortunately, the Easter Bunny did come to our house, although the wee ones were still sleeping when I left to go to church. That means that not only did I miss them finding and going through their baskets but there are no pictures of this. My husband doesn't exactly get it.

Oddly, the Easter Bunny in our house didn't bring chocolate this year, but he brought some stuff the wee ones definitely enjoyed: several new placemats (including a way cool periodic table one and a neat Spiderman plus a planets one), Spiderman activity book, Curious George dry erase board, a tiny sunflower container, a pair of big boy scissors, and the like. I believe everyone was happy with it.

After church, we went to my aunt and uncle's house, which is pretty traditional. Except that my parents and one other set of aunt and uncle were the only ones there. Two of my mom's five siblings didn't make it, and none of my cousins did. That's a first. One aunt and uncle did literally nothing for Easter but couldn't be bothered to come, so their three children (and spouses and children) didn't make the journey either. Sad, but what can you do. Even my sister didn't make it.

My aunt and uncle were going to have an Easter Egg hunt for the wee ones, but that fizzled somehow and instead they got presents. Two outfits and a swimsuit for each of them. Ahhh, clothes. My favorite kind of gifts nowadays.

And since Little Miss's swimsuit literally shredded in the water this past Saturday at swim lessons, the new suit couldn't have come at a better time. Again, I wasn't there and I'm going by what my mom said, but she came home a swimsuit short and claimed she'd never been more embarrassed in her life.

And then we all stuffed our faces, as normal. Ham with all the trimmings... and non-dairy foods for Little Miss. My aunt and uncle are good that way! I even have proof that it was a good day:

Yep, that would be my husband who had volunteered to shepherd the wee ones for awhile, sound asleep in a chair.

I think my aunt and uncle (who are childless) were ready for us to go by the time we packed up. The wee ones get a little riled up around Grandma and Grandpa, and then couple it with no nap and sugar that they kept eating throughout the day. Their poor cats -- who are also not used to having children around -- may never recover.

I'm thinking that after a good nap, I'll be just fine. And no tempting Easter candy to eat, either!

Happy Easter (or not)!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Judge Not

Yesterday, I was on my way home from a playdate with Mister Man. We'd stayed longer than I originally intended, and it was rush hour as we drove back. I avoided one of the major areas of traffic in town and took a side street to get back to the main divided highway. As I got to the stoplight to turn left onto that highway, the emergency light over the stoplight turned on.

I watched a fire chief vehicle go speeding north and a small firetruck followed shortly thereafter. As I finally got my light, I turned left and proceeded in the same direction that the fire vehicles had gone. No biggie. I saw a Black Mercedes SUV come roaring up behind me and pass me going at least seventy in the fifty-five zone. I shook my head in disgust and continued on my way.

For about a half mile. At that point, all traffic stopped, which I assumed was just par for the course on a Friday afternoon. I saw the SUV drive onto the shoulder and keep speeding along. I sighed out loud and told Mister Man that I sure hoped that this car was hurrying because they had a connection to an accident ahead and not because they were simply that rude.

We sat in that spot for almost twenty minutes. In that time, I saw another firetruck and an ambulance come up to the left of us and passed on. I started to realize that yes, there was an accident up ahead. Then I saw another firetruck and two more ambulances stream by a couple minutes apart. Going north in the southbound lanes so they could go more quickly. Yikes.

There was not an option to turn around, as the divided highway had a big ditch between the north and southbound lanes. And given where I was on the road, there wasn't a side road for another three quarters of a mile or more.

Eventually we started to inch forward. Very slowly. I finally got to a cross street where I could see that the police had blocked off all the northbound lanes and were finally funneling onto the side streets. As I turned right, I could see the black Mercedes parked on the side of the road and empty.

My heart sank. While I selfishly was hoping that the person wasn't simply being rude, I didn't truly wish pain on him in hoping that he was related to someone involved in the accident. And it was a bad one. I could see the burned out shell of the car down in the ditch, and two ambulances were loading patients in them. I couldn't see much more.

My guess is that someone was coming from the side street where there is only a stop sign and was trying to either turn left or cross the divided highway and misjudged where oncoming traffic was and was t-boned into the ditch. Other people were picking up large pieces of cars -- bumpers, etc.

I said a small prayer as I headed on home via backroads. I finally got back to the other major street near me and headed west towards home. I got to the final stoplight before my neighborhood and saw the emergency light turn on. I watched an ambulance come streaking up and head to the hospital I had just passed. It had to have been from the accident I had been trapped by earlier.

I was happy to see that the lights were flashing and the ambulance was hurrying, as it meant that at least one person was only injured. I also realized that the small two minute stop I had made on my way home that had delayed me slightly may have been more beneficial than I thought.

It so easily could have been my car involved. Was my stop the reason that I wasn't two minutes ahead and part of the awful crash? Was my last minute instinct to see if a business was open (it wasn't) what saved me and Mister Man from tragedy?

And the next time I see a car streaking around me hurrying for what I had always assumed was no good reason, I will be saying a small prayer that everything is alright with them. And my assumption will be that they need to hurry more than I do.

PS When you are driving and come to a stop, please PLEASE don't block roads and driveways and business entrances. You aren't going to get anywhere any faster by being eight feet forward, and anyone who wants to needs to get in and out cannot. Isn't that such a simple way to make life easier for so many people? Plus, I'll like you more if you let people get through.

Friday, April 10, 2009

She Has An Active Fantasy Life

As we were walking from the library through the parking lot, I gave the wee ones my usual lecture about dangers of the parking lot.

We talk about how we need to hold an adult's hand and always look both ways before crossing. I've tried starting to add the bit about how if a car has a stop sign, you can sort of look to make sure they're slowing down and then proceed. As long as you're holding an adult's hand.

The wee ones know the dangers of being hit by a car, and they excitedly shout them out to me -- ok, excitedly is probably the wrong word to use here.

You might get hit by a car!

Something might get broken....

You might die!

You might never be able to ride your bike again!

And then Little Miss turns to me -- oh so seriously -- But, Mommy, if I were in the middle of the street and a car was coming towards me and would hit me, I would just twirl around in a circle and then spin a web at the car.

And what exactly would that do, Sweetheart?

It would stop the car. And then it wouldn't hit me. She looked at me like I was nuts for even having to ask. *sigh*

Yeah... as much as I love to encourage the imagination of the wee ones, I think it's time to start reining hers in. Just a little.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I've Been Trumped

As I sit here watching my husband watch baseball for some unknown team on his computer, I smile.

I always thought I was a sports fan. I haven't missed a Northwestern football game since I started attending school there. I never turn down a ticket to a baseball or hockey game. Heck, I can even tell you when you do and don't have icing called in a game.

But my husband? He's a whole different breed. To me, baseball just isn't a fun sport to watch on tv. If I'm doing something, I'm fine with a baseball game being on in the background, but I won't turn it on as a solo activity.

My husband cheers for the Cardinals. Let me tell you, the Cardinals are not one of the teams playing on his computer. And yet he's engrossed. He's learned to have his earplugs in because after too many years of baseball 24/7 for eight months, I can only stand baseball for two or three games a year now.

He's trying so hard to be quiet, but out of the corner of my eye, I can see him failing. He's waving his arms in the air above his head in celebration before realizing what he's done and pretending he's just stretching. He wrings his hands together before nonchalantly scratching his nose. A yesssssssssss escapes every once in awhile.

And each time, I look at him and giggle. He gives me a helpless look, but then it's back to the ballgame.

I finally asked him who he was watching. It was the Twins. That's my team. I'm the one who cheers for the Twins, who can tell you the 1987 batting order, who bought the wee ones all theri baseball gear. But ... I don't care anymore. I don't even ask him the score.

But I'm not hopeless. I can tell you that football starts late this year. That the first weekend of September is still preseason. That counts for something, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Can He Say That?

I bet y'all thought I wasn't going to post anything today. It's been a long day working, and choir practice went extra long tonight what with Maundy Thursday tomorrow, Good Friday services the day after, the Easter Vigil on Saturday, and two Easter services Sunday morning. I'll say it again -- I don't remember signing up for this when I agreed to sing in the choir!

But choir practice did have one benefit. Our choir director reminded us of an entertaining occurence from the service on Sunday.

We were supposed to start outside on Palm Sunday in the garden with a greeting and then process into the church singing and following behind a donkey. But there was no donkey. We processed without him, as it was too cold for us to even think of waiting for him.

The reverend made a comment after the blessing about how the donkey was on his way but was late. If we were lucky, maybe the donkey would make it in time for Communion, at which point the reverend made his way back to the altar.

And as he passed the choir director, the choir director said in a stage whisper, "What an ass!" Needless to say, the poor reverend was biting his lip and we're still not sure how he kept a straight face. None of us in the choir did.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tasty Tuesday!

In all the giving that I've done to my church through the choir, offetories, Sunday School, and more, there is one thing that has made it all worthwhile. Aside from the obvious, of course.

One of my fellow choir member was in charge of the social hour a month or so ago and made the most delicious cake. And it was dairy free naturally without being switched up. We all loved it, and I made it again this weekend. Unfortunately, some people in my house thought it was good for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so I didn't get any pictures of it!

It's really a great cake and so easy to throw together. Find this type of recipe and more with this week's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday with Blessed With Grace! I have found so many yummy recipes. I didn't manage to do it this week, but if I have time next week, I'll share my favorites that I've made so far.

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Cake

1/2 c oil
1 1/2 c sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 c applesauce
2 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
3 T cocoa powder
2 T sugar
1/2 c chopped nuts (which I would never put into a recipe because I simply don't do nuts)
1 c chocolate pieces (orrrrr possibly more if you accidentally spill some on the cake -- just accidentally, of course)

Mix the oil and the 1 1/2 c sugar. Beat in the eggs. Stir in cinnamon, salt, applesauce, baking soda and cocoa. Add the flou and mix until just moistened.

Pour mixture into a greased and floured 13x9 pan.

Sprinkle with 2 T sugar, nuts (or not), and chocolate pieces. You can lightly stir this in or leave on top. I tend to leave it on top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. If it starts to brown too much on top, cover with foil -- but I've never found the need to do that.

If you really want to, you can serve it with a whipped cream garnish. Just sayin'....


Monday, April 6, 2009

How Many Times Can We Celebrate Easter?

My neighborhood has a babysitting co-op, which is wonderful for so many reasons. It's given me great built-in friends with kids about the wee ones' ages. Whenever I need a sitter, no matter whether day or night, I have someone I trust -- for free! The moms have advised me on schooling decisions and helped me through my angst. And every year, they do an Easter Egg hunt.

Last year it was at my house, but after 45 children (no joke) in my house searching for eggs, eating pizza, and decorating cookies, I quietly didn't volunteer this year. Some other sucker -- I mean MOM -- graciously did.

Today was the big day, and the wee ones were excited. I, of course, got stuck at work and so didn't get home until five minutes after the event had started, so we were a bit late, but it was fine. They had a great time hunting for their dozen "hidden" eggs.

Little Miss did get a little upset once when someone beat her to the egg. She kept exclaiming, "But that was my egg! I saw it first!" Next year, I think she'll learn to move faster.

Once everyone had the requisite dozen eggs, we moved on to the cookie decorating. Yes, even Little Miss can decorate the cookies, as I brought special non-dairy cookies for her and some non-dairy icing that three other kids also needed to use. Yep, food issues are definitely becoming more common with almost one in ten kids in this group.

Little Miss did all her decorating all by herself.

She also did all her eating all by herself. In fact, she refused to decorate her second cookie until she'd finished eating her first. And she's a slow, deliberate eater....

Mister Man decorated his cookies, too. His focus was simply on getting enough frosting on the cookie so that he could get as many sprinkles and other decorations on it as possible! Typical Mister Man, he ate about half his first cookie and then asked to save the rest for later. Sometimes I wonder if he's really my kid!

At this Easter Egg hunt, the Easter Bunny always comes, too. The wee ones were sooooo excited when they saw him. They ran up to give hugs, and then I spent the next five minutes trying to get a single normal looking picture of them with the Easter Bunny. I never really succeeded.

At least the Easter Bunny knows how to pose!

And after today? On Friday we head to the local "mall" where the Easter Bunny is hanging out. Saturday is decorating eggs, with the Easter vigil at church providing everything from the blessing of the Easter baskets to more egg decorating. And on Sunday? It's the culmination of our celebration where we get to see what the bunny brought us.

I will admit that I heard that this year he's bringing Spiderman placemats and cups and activity books and other such things instead of the traditional candy. It's an interesting concept, don't you think?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Welcome, Spring!

Today is Palm Sunday. Next week is Easter, and in preparation for this, my church had its opening outside church where a donkey was to meet us and escort us inside for the processional.

Except that it was so cold that half the parishioners refused to go outside. And the donkey never showed. But it was still a neat idea.

Today was also Mister Man's first t-ball practice.

What, you say he has a broken arm? You say he can't play because he's in a cast? Well, yeah... I know. But I sorta forgot that he had a broken arm when I signed him up. I blame too little sleep.

I've thought about it though. Technically, he can still throw the ball, and he can learn the rules and hang out with his teammates before he's fully cleared to play. He won't be able to bat, I don't think, but that's only for a few weeks. And with laid back t-ball, I can help him practice in the field by handing him the ball when it comes his way so he can throw it in.

I've also found out that they pretty much stack the infield so there's got to be another kid nearby who can help out during games. And come April 14, his cast comes off and he's allowed to play a week or two after that. No big deal.

Today was the big day though when he was to have his first practice. I was all set for it, including having my camera with me so that I can take pictures of him on that first day. We knew that one of his buddies from preschool last year was going to be on the team, as was a buddy from school this year. That makes it even more fun.

My husband decided that being the man in the house, he wanted to take Mister Man to the practice since his baseball game had been canceled due to concerns over sleet and snow in the forecast -- and the fact that the fields they play one were still wet from rain earlier in the week.

Nothing against my husband, but I'm definitely going. So we all packed up, including Little Miss who really needed a nap, and we headed out.

Did I mention the weather forecast? You know, the sleet and one to three inches of snow tonight, with an additional one to three inches tomorrow expected? And the gusty winds? And the 36 degrees?

Mister Man's practice was -- fortunately -- canceled. Instead, we were to meet at a local pizza parlor and get to know each other and let the coach know shirt sizes since apparently the shirts get names on the backs and hats get names embroidered in them. Fancy!

We arrived at the pizza place, and it was apparent that the restaurant was closed. Ugh. There was one car in the parking lot that looked like it was changing a tire. We pulled into the parking lot anyway, hoping that I could get ahold of the coach and find out plan B. Luckily, the car that was getting a tire changed was the coach, and they just had the bat case sitting out by the rear of the car and a batting helmet on the front hood so we'd recognize it as part of the t-ball team. Obviously that didn't work so well for me.

Plan B was heading to the local Pizza Hut where we ummm ate at the buffet (I can't really say enjoyed, can I?). Mister Man was thrilled to see his buddies and was almost too excited to eat anything. We got the rules, and we also found out some more good news -- for us anyway.

The coach is out of town for Easter next week. When we're supposed to have our next practice. We likely won't practice until the 16th or later, which means Mister Man will have his cast off. Rockin'!

You've really got to hate it when you try to put together a submission for Mother Of The Year and fate conspires against you so that your entry become almost meaningless, eh?

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