Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's All Coming To A Head

I've been on a leave from work for almost nine weeks now - since March 1. It doesn't seem like it's been nine weeks, but May 17, I am scheduled to report back to work.

This has been my big change to experience, in a safe way, how I would do staying at home with the wee ones - and how they'd do with me at home. I had tried this route before three years ago and failed miserably.

A lot of that failure had to do with the fact that I had gone from 500mph to zero, with a toddler and infant (who was very mobile) who couldn't be left alone long enough for me to go to the bathroom. We had just moved, and I didn't know anyone nor did I have any activities for myself or the wee ones.

This time around, I've been working part time three days a week - and two of those from home. I am involved in the wee ones' schools, in my church, in neighborhood organizations and more. I have a routine for myself and for the wee ones. Theoretically, staying at home should be easier.

My grand images of having tons of time to tackle my miles long to do list? Shattered.

That doesn't mean that I've gotten nothing done, however. I've been a regular at the gym. I've managed the preschool fundraiser that will be complete this coming Wednesday. I've started the process of remodeling our master bathroom. I've cooked a lot more (which I enjoy). Oddly, I'm home less than what I was when I was working, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Staying home means giving up a huge portion of my family's income, as well as the good insurance from my job (he's a teacher - even working part time, I out earn him). I won't be able to get a position like what I have again, especially in this economy. I have a career that I'd essentially be throwing away, and for the most part, it's been on that I've really enjoyed.

But then I read a book by a working mom who talks about the balance she has in her life and keeping sane. She looks at her life with a great deal of humor, and it works for her. Some of the quotes really stuck with me, however.

Ravage of Time: The damage you inflict on those around you when you find yourself with too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. It's no accident that I rarely yell at my kids or snap at my husband unless I am late or overwhelmed by a to-do list that seems to have no end.

And it hit me. This is what I do. When I'm less stressed by deadlines and things I can't control, I'm more in control and calm. With my wee ones - especially Mister Man - being in control and calm is critical to having a productive day. And working - even part time (or maybe because it's part time?) - is stressful. I'm never fully home or fully working. Because I have a foot in both worlds, both worlds expect my all. And I can't give 110% to two different places. I'm lucky when I'm giving 80% to one!

I'm pretty sure now that I will be remaining a stay-at-home mom. It seems to be what's working better for my family. We're all happier these past two months, and happiness is what's most important, not who has the biggest bank account.

The trick for me now is to make sure in my head that I'm really sure this is the direction I want to take, since I won't be able to change my mind. And then I need to figure out how to tell my work that I won't be coming back. Do I tell them now? Do I offer to come in for one last day? What about all my work from home equipment? And at what point do I lose my health insurance and need to ensure I'm covered by my husband?

But most of all? I feel like a weight has been lifted. The confirmation that I'm seeking started coming through stronger and stronger the more of Kristin van Ogtrop's Just Let Me Lie Down I read. While being a 55 hour a week working mom with three boys is the path that she chose and the option that (no pun intended) works best for her, I shied away mentally from many of her anecdotes. That life was so unappealing to me now.

So let's see how I'm doing in another six months!

This post was inspired by the book Kristin van Ogtrop's "Just Let Me Lie Down" which I received from the SV Moms Group Book Club. There was no compensation nor review involved.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Ever Happened To Leslie?

Friends are such important people in your lives. They come and they go - sometimes - but they all have a purpose in our lives and teach us various things about ourselves or others.

When I moved to Minnesota before fourth grade began, my family didn't have a house, so we stayed in a hotel until we found one (ha - good luck finding that relo package now). Being that Minnesota isn't exactly a tourist destination, living in a hotel after awhile becomes ... boring.

Finally a girl arrived at the hotel pool one day who appeared to be around my age - a first, I believe. We stayed and played together for a few days and became fast friends. She had also just moved to Minnesota, and her parents were just waiting for their house to be ready to move in. She was only there a week or so, but I really missed her when she left.

Fast forward to me moving into a house - a week before school - and getting signed up for that new school. It was a small Catholic school, and I knew no one. The first day of school was tough, as the cliques had already formed by fourth grade, and it was not easy to break in.

On the fifth day of school, I rounded the corner after getting a drink of water and spotted Leslie (my friend from the pool) coming around the corner the other direction. Imagine my shock - and joy - at seeing her again. Apparently she had been on the wait list for my fourth grade classroom (speculation is that my second grade sister got me in ahead of her) but had finally made it, so she'd just registered that morning.

You have no idea how wonderful it felt to have a rock like that. My life in school was instantly so much easier. We were best friends, and we spent so much time at each others' houses. She was an only child, so she had her own bedroom plus a playroom for her cool things like her dollhouse and unfolding chair into a bed. She had a Scottie, which I thought was the coolest thing ever. Plus, she had a really great singing voice, and her parents talked my parents into letting me join the children's choir. While I was never a soloist - she sang the Tin Man verse of "If I Only Had A Heart" - I enjoyed my experience, and it's probably a big reason why I enjoy singing today.

We were pretty much inseparable through fourth, fifth and sixth grades. In the seventh grade, there were finally two sections of classes, so I didn't see her as much, although we rehearsed The Sound of Music together frequently - she was Maria, of course, but I was Liesl (hey, it's a small school, apparently you didn't need that much talent).

But come the summer after seventh grade, I decided that I wanted to go to a public school for the increased opportunities - from larger classes to more electives. It was decided just before the start of school, and with my typical preteen selfishness, I threw myself into my new world. Finally, I was in a school with the other kids from my neighborhood. I wasn't the odd kid out, and I loved it.

I never saw Leslie after that. By the time I was a little older and realized how much I missed her friendship, I found out that her family had moved back to Washington state (she had come from Spokane). I did find out that she went to St. Mary's College by Notre Dame for college somehow, but I've never been able to track her down to apologize for disappearing and to try to renew our friendship.

I have no idea where she is today, but I wish I did. She made my fourth school in five years (due to moving) a pleasant experience for me, and I would have been lost without her. Although I made other friends at that school - including many I now keep in touch with via Facebook - hers is one of the two friendships from that period in my life that I most regret letting slip away.

So hey - if anyone knows where I can find Leslie Smith Field, have her shoot me an email, would ya? Ditto with Katie McCall while you're at it.

What friends do you most regret losing touch with?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

Quick giveaway reminder before I forget. Go here for a chance to win an Energizer Smart Charger.


It's Tuesday again, and we're working on summer in Chicago. It isn't here yet - although we at least saw the sun. I'm not desperate enough to call high 50s summer. (Although, give me a couple more weeks and maybe I will!) Tonight we had a special dessert: snow cones.

Yep, good old fashioned snow cones. In fact, I actually have one of the Snoopy Snow Cone machines that I picked up at our church's rummage sale a couple years ago for $0.50.

Yep, that really is the original one with the snowman syrup squirter and shovel to get the snow out and everything.  Ahhh, memories!

The big problem comes in the flavoring though. Getting shaved ice? Not too hard (although hand cranking four bowls? No need to get to the gym! My Vitamix could probably do a decent job now that I think about it. Eh.

Back to the flavoring. There are tons of syrups out there, but surprise, surprise - they're full of high fructose corn syrup, which means they're out of bounds for us. In searching online, I found recipes to make my own snow cone syrup, but it always called for Kool-Aid, which sorta seemed like it was defeating the purpose of making my own.

After a couple of hours noodling on this, I finally came up with a (brilliant?) idea. Thinking back to the cupcakes I made for Little Miss's half birthday, I decided to essentially make a simple syrup using fruit.

And the results? I got rave reviews from my crew, so the leftover syrup is going in the fridge (or perhaps I need to move it to the freezer) to await a suitably hot day to make some more snow cones!

Homemade Snow Cone Syrup

1 1/2 c strawberries (I used fresh since they're in season)
1 1/2 c frozen cherries (I had the sweet dark cherries, but again I'd like to try this with the tart ones - my sweet tooth isn't so strong)
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
zest of half a lemon

It doesn't get easier than this. Add the ingredients to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil for two to three minutes.

Place the mixture in a blender and zap it until it's as smooth as your blender will make it (gotta love the Vitamix for this one). Strain, and chill.

Spoon just a small amount over shaved ice. Thin with a bit of water if you like, but I liked it nice and thick (still very pourable just not as viscous as the traditional neon colored syrups). This would also be pretty darn good over ice cream, a theory my husband promises to test out later tonight.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I May Need To Rethink This...

As a parent, I want my children to have a broad palate. I remember before having kids dreading the idea of my children only eating hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, something I couldn't imagine doing myself. With that in mind, I instituted the chew-and-swallow rule early in the wee ones' toddlerhood.

If it's on your plate, you must take a bite large enough to satisfy me, and you must fully chew and swallow that bite before making a pronouncement. Granted, I've had to clarify that rule over the years, since it did originally start out as the "you have to try it" rule, which was open to far looser interpretations.

The wee ones have grown to accept it, and they know I'm not going to make them try things I truly don't expect them to like. Mister Man avoids sauces of all kinds, so I won't force him to try a fettucini alfredo, for example. And really, liver and onions? There's no way I'd eat it, so I won't push it on the wee ones.

Over the years, they've discovered (or remembered) that they really enjoy something from these requirements. And there are some things that we'll just keep trying again later. As Mister Man keeps insisting ever since his field trip to the grocery store (seriously - it was a really fun field trip), "Mommy, as I get bigger my taste buds get bigger, too, and things I used to not like, I might like."

Today we had a baptism to attend, and there was a lunch afterwards at an Italian restaurant. With Little Miss's dairy allergy, it was a bit of a challenge to find something for her to eat with the family style meal. The bruschetta and the bread were unfortunately out, as they had dairy. And it would be two courses before they brought out something for kids.

I offered Little Miss a piece of calamari in the hopes that it might tide her over.

And she proceeded to eat at least half a family size platter of calamari. (And an entire monstrously large bowl of pasta with marinara, but we won't talk about that now.) As I saw her continue to ask for more and more, I realized that maybe I should be a little more selective in what I offer her.

Maybe I'll find something a little less expensive to offer her next time. Can you imagine the guy on his first date with her as a teenager when she starts ordering?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Mama Didn't Teach Me

As a parent now, I recognize that my mom worked hard to teach me the things she felt were important for me to know about life. I do the same with the wee ones, and I can only hope that my lessons will allow them to develop into happy and confident people.

However, some of the things I learned along the way - unintentionally or not - I've since learned aren't the secret to a happy life. I've redefined a few things, and it seems to be working for me.

Without further ado - the top 10 rules I've unlearned:

10) Sitting too close to the tv won't harm my vision. Granted, I'm not one to sit three feet away anyway, but this is no longer something that gives me heart palpitations for fear that I'm causing irrepable damage.

9) It's never too late to say you're sorry. Growing up, we avoided conflict. It was much easier to pretend something didn't happen rather than deal with it and move on. I'm finding it far more effective to deal with the issues and have a clean slate.

7) Planning doesn't solve everything. My mom is the most organized person ever. She is the reason I had my calendar color coded based on activity in college to keep everything straight. But now? Well, when I have plans with eleven women to go to dinner tomorrow night, I expect that several will drop out. The fact that I'm down to six now and may not be able to reduce the reservation by that much? Eh. I'll survive. There's only so much I can control after all.

6) The phrase you can never be too rich or too thin is bunk. I can't tell you how often my mom repeated that to me, and wow, looking at it now is that unhealthy. But hey, I'm not thin and I'm not rich, but I'm pretty darn happy with my life thankyouverymuch.

5) Sometimes, it's ok to sit down. My mom was in perpetual motion. She had bridge or was driving us to or from an activity or was taking a neighbor somewhere and the like. While I do sometimes follow the same route of overcommitting myself, I'm learning to say no and to take some time to relax just for me. And I think that is making me a happier mom and person.

4) You don't have to be the nicest. Back to the theme of saying no, my mom volunteered for everything. She sought out situations to help people - people she knew, friends of friends, and more. She currently drives her 97 year old bridge partner to bridge each week. She got suckered into watching her neighbor's dog almost every weekend for three yearrs although they rarely even said thank you. Me? I'm ok if not everyone likes me. Having the most friends doesn't win you the race in the end. That isn't to say that I'm (purposefully) rude or mean to people, but I set limits. And if people don't like them, deal.

3) Falling down is ok. My mom still freaks when one of the wee ones falls or otherwise gets hurt. She hovers, and it freaks them out. I'm busy trying to foster independence and a sense of competence. My rule right now is "no blood, no foul" and it's working. I think.

2) Sometimes, you need to take a step back ignore the stereotypes. If I did, I wouldn't have sent the wee ones to the excellent preschool I did. I wouldn't have some of the wonderful friends I do now. My mom is way different from her parents, but there are still prejudices she holds that worry me. Just this afternoon she wanted to know if they did background checks on bus drivers - the first time she's asked this in four years of wee ones riding the bus - because I told her that Little Miss had a new bus driver, a younger somewhat heavy-set Hispanic man. Apparently this is grounds for concern. Well, for her anyway. (And yes, everyone who comes into contact with children in district goes through a thorough background check.)

And the number one thing I unlearned from my mom?

Perfect is not the goal. Sometimes good enough really is. Striving for perfection leads to a fear of failure and paralysis. And since you can never accomplish it, there's never the true joy of satisfaction. It isn't that I do thing halfway, but I set a point where I'm satified and can quit.

I can only imagine the things the wee ones will be unlearning from me!

Hopefully it won't have anything to do with giveaways - Biogaia was extended until tomorrow, e.l.f. cosmetics runs until Saturday, and Energizer Smart Charger is open until May 4.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sometimes You're The Windshield; Sometimes You're The Bug

I love that song, and now I have it going through my head. Artist anyone?

Today, I was the bug. While I was super productive and got a lot done, I also realized that all my running around out and about probably induced quite a few snickers. And deservedly so.

I have a pair of jeans that is coming really close to having a hole in the knee. I know to be careful with them. This is not uncommon, as the knees seem to give out regularly.

Me? I've got a whole different issue, and yes, I apparently walked around like this all day long. It wasn't until after dinner when Mister Man pointed it out that I realized my problem.

Go ahead, you can laugh, too. You've got my permission. There's really no way to salvage these, is there?

BUT if you laugh, you have to go enter giveaways - I'm extending my probiotic giveaway due to lack of entries. Probiotics are good for you in a lot of ways, and many of these are perfect for kids. Go. Enter.

Plus e.l.f. cosmetics giveaway.

And I have a brand new giveaway from Energizer - a Smart Charger!

Lastly (I know I know) if you want to hear about the oh so fun Silicon Valley Chicago Moms Blog event, go check out part one of my recap here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

Don't forget that I'm still giving away some e.l.f. cosmetics here!


Spring is truly ummmm springing in Chicago, and I'm starting to get a real taste for the fruits of summer. Literally. Unfortunately, those fruits tend to be very expensive at this time of year - not to mention flown in from parts very, very far away.

Instead, I'm contenting myself with some of the frozen and jarred varieties to convince myself that the gorgeous days of summer are just around the corner. This recipe is one that my mom used to make all the time when I was growing up. It was one of the few recipes she made that appeared "fancier" and was oh so yummy.

And us being us, we completely mispronounced the name of it as "Peach Cooch-in" but hey, it all tastes the same, right?

Peach Kuchen

1 1/2 c flour
1/4 t baking powder
2 t cinnamon
1 3/4 c sugar
1 egg
1 c milk
1 stick butter, unsalted
1 29oz jar sliced peaches (you can do jarred or frozen - I prefer the jarred or frozen myself)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix cinnamon and all but 1 T sugar, and set aside. Cut butter, baking powder, flour and remaining 1 T of sugar together. Pat gently into a pie pan.

Drain and rinse the peaches (or use fresh or thaw the frozen). Layer artfully - my mom's word - over the flour mixture and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the peaches. Bake 30 minutes.

Mix egg and milk. Pour into pan after the first 30 minutes of baking. Bake another 30 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Yum! And ummm no, there is no picture. Pictures would mean it survived cutting the first piece, and when I make this, it is GONE.

PS It's really good with ice cream, too. Just sayin'.

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

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mister Man Spoke, Too

As a reminder, I still have a giveaway going for e.l.f. cosmetics here and several more to come when I have more than ten minutes to put up a post!


I wrote last week about Little Miss's first word because I thought it was pretty funny. Really, how often does a one year old know the world "eyebrow" (notice I said know and not pronounce correctly), let alone have that for her first word.

That being said, I can't just leave Mister Man out. After all, he's quite the verbal little guy. He didn't start out that way, however. Like Little Miss, he didn't babble as an infant.

In fact, when he didn't talk at fifteen months, I expressed concern to my pediatrician. She told me that she wouldn't be worried until he hit eighteen months without talking, but that if I were really worried she would help me through the Early Intervention process (which I had asked her about, having a friend who knew enough about it to give me the basics).

Any parent with a child under the age of three who is concerned that the child might developmental delays from social to speech to fine or gross motor and more can have the child evaluated for free to determine if there is actually a delay and, if so, how severe. Each state does it differently, but let me encourage you to google Early Intervention for your state if you have any questions. It's much better to know and be prepared than it is to try to deal with something at a later age. If therapies are needed, they're far more effective the younger the child is.

PSA over, and back to my point.

We started down the path of requesting an Early Intervention evaluation for Mister Man. We received the paperwork via mail and returned it as quickly as possible. From that point, the county (it's done at the county level, at least in Illinois and I believe most if not all other states, as well) had sixty days to set up an evaluation to determine if he had more than a 30% delay in any area, which would then qualify him for therapy.

While we were waiting, a seventeen month old Mister Man was playing in our guest room around 11am one Sunday morning. He bent over to pick something up and leaned slightly into the guest room. He puked. I sent my husband over to clean it up, since I don't do puke. We thought it was weird, since he was playing just fine but shrugged it off.

Within an hour, he had vomited another seven times and the diarrhea was starting to kick in. We called our doctor who told us to keep him hydrated and just watch him. At that point, he'd fallen asleep atop our guest bed and seemed relatively comfortable.

As soon as he woke up, he began vomiting over and over and was completely listless, and we called the doctor again. This time, she told us to go ahead and take him to an emergency room with a pediatric specialty. We packed Mister Man up in the car and drove the forty-five minutes to that hospital, with me on the phone along the way trying to determine from my insurance company whether this hospital was covered and what we had to do. It was, fortunately, our first ER trip.

As we walked into the ER, I carried Mister Man while my husband parked the car. Mister Man began vomiting again as I walked through the doors. A nurse kindly gave me a puke catch bucket for him as I began to cry and started to register him. It was now 4pm.

At 7:30, we still hadn't been seen by anyone, but his vomiting had stopped since the major episode when we first came in. Part of that was likely due to the fact that he'd puked up everything in him, and he had no interest in any popsicles or cups or anything. We sat in our little corner as far away from anyone else who might be contagious as possible, and I rocked my limp ragdoll of a baby.

We were finally taken back, and the doctor immediately started fluids by IV. Mister Man perked up a little. He now had a fever, and the diarrhea had returned. His poor bottom! The doctor told us that he likely had rotovirus. The big question was whether Mister Man would be sent home because he appeared to be doing better or whether we would simply be back in the morning and he should be admitted. Around 11:30pm, they finally decided to admit Mister Man.

We were ushered up to the pediatric wing, and Mister Man wore a tiny little hospital gown with cute clowns decorating it. He was hooked up to all sorts of machines, and the IV was continued. Luckily, he was asleep for most of this.

By morning, he was far worse. It was definitely rotovirus, and he simply lay there like a doll with his eyes open and staring at the ceiling. He had no energy to even blink, let alone move. Nurses checked him every hour, taking his temperature, fixing his pulse-ox meter that kept falling off his tiny little finger, giving him shots, adjusting his IVs, listening to him breathe, and more.

The whole time, he lay there unmoving and silent. It was heartbreaking. I was lucky enough to be able to stay in the hospital with him, and my parents also took shifts sitting with me when my husband had to go teach. In fact, the second or third night we were there, my father saved Mister Man's life.

I was asleep in the hospital chair and Mister Man had rolled over such that his IV line was wrapped around his neck and was strangling him. My silent boy struggled, and my father was luckily awake and was able to untangle him before it was too late. I still shudder to think what would have happened had my dad not been there that night.

By the third day we were there, Mister Man was starting to feel slightly better. I was able to take a short break to run home to shower and grab some Baby Einstein DVDs to entertain the boy who no longer wanted to lay in his hospital crib. He was finally standing up or sitting on our laps and needed entertaining. With so many wires still attached to him, he couldn't go far!

The nurses were still monitoring him regularly, and he was not a fan of the temperature taking (keep in mind, he was seventeen months), nor did he like the shots they gave him. The probiotics they were not giving him to counteract the massive doses of IV antibiotics he'd received were also not high on his list.

As the kind nurse stepped toward him one morning, he was standing up leaning between my legs as I rubbed his back. He heard her coming and craned his neck to see who was coming. As she approached, his eyes widened. He shook his head back and forth rapidly. Nonononononono! he shouted.

His will was denied, and the nurse did what she had to do as he fought her to the best of his ability. And me? I sat there in shock, reeling from the fact that my little boy who had been near death just a day before had finally spoken his first word.

As a post script, Mister Man was evaluated for Early Intervention less than a month later. He had over a thirty percent delay in a few areas and began speech and occupational therapy twice a week shortly thereafter. His big issue with speech was luckily not comprehension but simply that he didn't have the core strength to draw enough breath to make sound. We added physical therapy later that summer, and the improvement he made was impressive. He picked up on the major signed within a few weeks of starting. By twenty-two months - less than four months after beginning his therapies - he was putting together two and three word sentences. And now? His speech rocks. I thank my lucky stars for my friend who knew enough about the services that are available to recommend the Early Intervention testing. And I encourage you to check it out if you are at all concerned. It is often nothing, but what a relief just to know for sure!

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm Writing At Chicago Moms Blog Today

Yay! I was invited to participate in the Chicago Moms Blog, and my very first post went up today. I'll be over there at least a couple times a month, and I'd love a virtual high five as I explore that new domain!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

She Was Special From The Beginning

While at my lovely pretending we don't have children and enjoying some time by ourselves while we chat and drink wine once a month babysitting co-op meeting (ironic, no?) meeting last night, the topic of baby books came up. I was relieved to hear that I wasn't the only one who didn't have a completely up to date baby book, including a calendar marking every major milestone.


I've got a book.

I think I have a few things written in Mister Man's. Little Miss's is a blank book.

I've saved the strands of hair from the first haircut and the hospital bracelets. I've taken the pictures - although I've yet to print anything since 2001 (two years before Mister Man made his appearance), but yay to Costco for having unlimited $0.09 prints right now. Ambition. It's a scary thing.

I don't have the dates of any milestones written down, nor do I have their specifics recorded. That doesn't mean that I don't remember the important ones very vividly.

I know Mister Man's first words were a screamed, "nonononononononono" when he was in the hospital for rotovirus and was finally feeling well enough to recognize that he didn't want the nurse messing with him anymore.

I know that Little Miss was crawling at six months and running at nine months. I may not know the exact dates, but really - who's going to know if I fudge them a little bit.

Some memories we have on video, which makes pinning them down even easier. We recorded Mister Man's first (disastrous) haircut. It was the only one that we ever did at home, and my husband and clippers are forever banned from being in the same room.

But the one that most sticks out in my memory is Little Miss's first words. She never babbled, as she couldn't hear due to her constant ear infections as an infant. We finally had tubes put in October of 2006 when she was 14 months old. From there, she was finally able to hear, and she quickly began speaking.

I remember her looking up at my while I was changing her diaper. She was laying on the lilac changing table cover, and her skinny little chicken legs were waving in the air, finally free of her sleep sack.

She looked up at me with her eyes far wiser than her years, and her legs suddenly stopped moving. She stilled, which is something that she never did - nor does she now. She slowly reached up towards my face, an intent look upon her face.

Eye-bow, she said, as she gently stroked my right eyebrow. Eye-bow.

As proud as I was, I couldn't help but giggle a little. Eyebrow? Really, eyebrow was my daughter's first word? I mean, I get the "no" from Mister Man. I totally do, and I'm ok with it not being mama or dada, but eyebrow? Apparently we reviewed our body parts a little too frequently with her.

Ahhh, my little contrarian. Some things never change.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Needs An MD Anyway?

Quick reminder of two giveaways here and here.


On Monday night, Mister Man told me that he felt like he had strep. At the time, he was overtired from a long weekend and too many activities and being out of routine. Monday had involved a late dinner and later bedtime, and I wrote it off to him just being out of sorts and tired in general. After all, he had zero symptoms of any illness at all, not so much as a sniffle.

On Tuesday, I received a call from my friend who was doing carpool pickup.

Hey, Michelle. I just wanted to let you know that Mister Man told me that he thought he had strep. I felt his lymph nodes, and they're swollen and knobby. Do you want me to meet you at the doctor? Huh. I guess that wasn't just him being overtired.

I took a quick look at the clock - 4:20 (she was ummm running very late after having locked her keys in the car at school). The doctor closes at 4:45, but it was worth a shot.

When I called, the nurse didn't really want to see us. After all, he didn't really have any symptoms, and this was a recent onset. Besides, all the appointments were already taken. I begged, and she put me on hold while going to talk to the doctor. Provided I could make it there by 4:45, we were golden.

Living all of three minutes from the doctor, Little Miss and I were there with plenty of time to spare. Mister Man walked in a few minutes later and promptly started reading. After waiting a few more minutes, we were ushered back to see the doctor.

So why are you here? she asked after introducing herself (nope, not so lucky as to be able to see our regular doctor who we adore).

Well, Mister Man said that he thinks he has strep, and his lymph nodes are swollen, so...

Does he have a stomach ache? A fever? Cough?

Ummm, no.

Well, does he have a runny nose? Is he not eating?

He's been acting normal. He just told me that he has strep.

I'm pretty sure she rolled her eyes at me at that point.

Ok, Buddy. Why don't you hop on up over here, and we'll take a look at you.

She listened to his chest, looked at his ears, his nose, and inside his mouth. Then she turned to me with her hands on her hips.

I can see a little post nasal drip, but everything else looks completely clear. I'll do a culture since you're already here, but it's not going to come back positive.

Ok, I said meekly, sitting quietly in my chair and trying to explain to her that in November he also had symptomless strep. She wasn't interested in hearing about it.

Four minutes later, she returned to the room.

Well. It's positive. I'm going to write you a prescription. Does he have any allergies?

I was pretty impressed. Mister Man has only ever had strep once before, and his throat wasn't hurting then either. What can I say? The boy knows his body. Maybe next time we can skip the middle man and just write our own prescription!

And in the meantime? Let's just say that I didn't exactly get as many things done today as I'd planned. You'll notice that it's 11:45, and I haven't even checked email today. Fingers crossed he stays well enough and symptom free so he can go back to school tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Don't Forget Space Shuttles

Quick reminder of two giveaways here and here.


As I was walking through the school today, Mister Man's principal called out to me:

Michelle, I want to talk to you about Mister Man.

My heart sank. Apparently the look showed on my face, too.

Oh no, she said. It's not like that. This is a little story I wanted to share about what he said to me.

As the students were heading out the door to go see the Peter Pan play for their field trip, the principal was waving good-bye to them all.

Enjoy the play! she called to them. Say "hi" to Peter Pan for me. Have fun flying with him!

Mister Man turned to her through the crowd of students, a very serious expression on his face. He waved his finger at her, and his voice was exasperated.

Dr. L! That's impossible! Flying isn't real. The only way you can fly is with an airplane, a helicoptor, or a blimp!

She burst out laughing. I did, too, as she told me the story. This? This is his personality in a nutshell. It absolutely captures him perfectly. I love my Mister Man!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

Quick reminder of two giveaways here and here.

I mentioned in yesterday's post that it was Mister Man's half birthday. I made him the cupcakes that he requested, strawberry cupcakes with cherry frosting. This forced me to get awfully creative.

I had made a strawberry cake for Mister Man's birthday a year and a half ago, but I wasn't thrilled with it. The only recipes I could find required using a box mix and Jell-O. It's just not my cup of tea. This time around, I decided to fake it and make a totally homemade strawberry version since I was already going to do that for the cherry frosting.

And you know what? It turned out pretty well. This is one that I'm keeping, and I'll definitely make it again. I did a fairly small batch, not sure how it would turn out. This made 20 cupcakes, but doubling or so the recipe would most likely make enough for a fancy three layer cake.

I'm also including the recipe for the cherry frosting he requested. If it were my cake, I wouldn't combine these two flavors, but it wasn't bad and the frosting? I was really surprised at how well it turned out. On a chocolate cake - if you like that sort of thing - it would be awesome. I'll be putting it on a white cake, myself!

Strawberry Cupcakes

1 1/4 c cake flour
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 c sugar
2 3/4 t baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 oz butter, at room temperature (use unsalted, please!)
6 oz pureed strawberries - I used fresh, but frozen would likely work as well
4 egg whites
1/3 cup milk
1 t lemon zest

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease tins for 20 cupcakes (or use liners).

Add the butter and pureed strawberries into a bowl, and beat it. Keep beating. Beat beyond the point where you think you should stop. All of a sudden, you'll realize that you have strawberry butter. You had no idea how tempted I was to get out a slice of bread or make some scones and just eat the strawberry butter. I'll be doing this again and serving the strawberry butter at a party.

But I digress.

While the butter is beating, get out another bowl and place the flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Mix it really well to get it fluffy and well-combined.

In another smaller bowl, mix together the egg whites, milk, and lemon zest. Whisk it really well until it's a ummm consistent consistency.

Add the one-third the egg white mixture to the butter and beat to combine. Add one-half the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and repeat the process until all ingredients are added and *just* combined. No more beating after the first egg addition.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake tins, and bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes, depending on your oven - until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for 10 to 15 minutes then move them to wire racks. Frost only once completely cooled.

Cherry Frosting

1/4 c frozen cherries, pureed (I used sweet dark because I had them, but tart cherries would be better)
2 T butter
3 c powdered sugar

First of all, note that I measured nothing when I made this. I never measure when I make frosting. It's all about the consistency you want and how it tastes to you. Frosting is incredibly forgiving. If you add a little too much of one thing, you can make it up by adding some more of something else.

I prefer cooked frostings because it takes out the powdered sugar taste and feel from them. With using frozen cherries as my liquid instead of milk, I also wanted to get the juices flowing.

I added the cherries to a small saucepan and turned the heat on medium low. I added the butter and stirred until it was completely melted and combined. From that point, I added powdered sugar until it was like a thicker soup consistency (but still very liquidy - since it's heated right now, you don't want it too thick). I continued to stir it on and off for about ten minutes, then I let it cool.

It. Was. Good. My mom even commented on how much she loved the glaze. I left the cherries very slightly chunky for a couple reasons, and it worked out well. I thought it looked pretty cool, too.

When frosting the cupcakes, I dipped them upsidedown in the frosting while it was still warm but not hot to give it a crumb layer. After the frosting cooled sufficiently, I used a spatula to scoop on another layer of frosting and let them set another twenty minutes before serving.

I ate two, if that gives you any idea.

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

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Half Birthday, Mister Man!

Quick reminder of three giveaways here, here, and here.


Today is Mister Man's half birthday. Yes, we celebrate half birthdays around here. It's a fun tradition, and the wee ones get a kick out of it.

Apparently a tradition has been set. Mister Man's dinner request yet again this year was French Toast. Keep in mind that I don't eat French Toast. I don't like French Toast. I've never liked it. Ever.

Silly me, I introduced it one night when I was running low on dinner ideas and had a loaf of bread that had sat around one day too long for me to truly enjoy it. I mixed a few things together, and apparently I'm a French Toast master - odd since it's a food I don't like, but apparently the nutmeg and orange zest (among other things) I add works.

Nonetheless, making French Toast is a super easy option. It's a throw dinner together in ten minutes option. Gotta love that. The only bummer is that I then have to make dinner for myself separate. Ironic that I won't make a different dinner for the wee ones when they don't like something, isn't it?

Mister Man then made me really get out my creative hat for his cupcakes though. He requested strawberry cupcakes with cherry frosting.


And I'm the kind of mommy who says that they can have whatever flavor they want, and I mean it. I have done a strawberry cake before, but I really hate using mixes and other processed things with all sorts of chemicals in them. This time around, I found a way to make it strawberry and yummy and actually pretty darn good. It's good enough that it's making it to Tasty Tuesday this week.

The cherry frosting was more difficult. My husband suggested I go look at Betty Crocker, but I really prefer the homemade stuff for the wee ones, especially for their birthdays. I guessed and played around and ... I ended up with cherry soup. Which then cooled into a wonderful almost glaze-like topping. It was perfect for the cupcakes, and Mister Man was thrilled.

Granted, I wouldn't put those two flavor combinations together myself, but strawberry cake with a cream cheese frosting perhaps? Or my baked fudge frosting? That I could do. And the cherry icing? Ohhh that would be scrumptious on my normal white or yellow cake.

That's why I went back a half hour ago to have a second cupcake, right? Shhh!


Today is really about Mister Man. He's fully six and a half now, and I'm happy to report that I don't have problems with him getting older this time. He's already talking about his seventh birthday and what he's going to do for that.

In the meantime, enjoy being six and a half, Mister Man!

Even though I didn't make the cupcakes dairy free, Little Miss was not to be left out. I made her a cake awhile ago and put it in the freezer, so all I have to do is cut off a hunk anytime we have a celebration, and she's happy.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Well, Thank GOODness!

Quick reminder of three giveaways here, here, and here.


Little Miss recently had a dentist visit her school, and she's been very proud of this visit. She tells all of us about it all the time, and she's begun to lecture us on what the dentist taught them.

My mom relayed this little tidbit earlier today from a conversation she had with Little Miss:

LM: Grandma, did you know we had a dentist come to visit my school?
G: Yes, Princess, you told me about it.
LM: You have to brush your teeth every day to be sure you don't get cavities.
G: You're right, that's very important.
LM: And you can't eat junk food. Sugar is bad for your teeth.
G: Did the dentist explain why?
LM: Yes, he did. There are lots of things you shouldn't eat. You shouldn't drink pop either. And you shouldn't eat candy or chew ice.

At this point, she paused a bit, apparently thinking very hard.

LM: But Grandma, it's ok. You can still drink wine.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Simplifying English

Quick reminder of three giveaways here, here, and here.


Little Miss is in the process of learning to read. Sort of. She really really wants to read, mostly because she sees everyone around her reading. This is the girl who insists she can do everything anyone else can - and do it better.

Reading? Not so much her forte right now.

And I can understand why. Fortunately, I don't remember the painful process I went through in learning to read, but watching Little Miss struggle and try to figure it out, I'm really realizing how difficult the English language is to read.

I am grateful that we don't speak Mandarin or Japanese or another language where the characters add a whole different level of complexity to reading and writing, but English doesn't exactly make it easy. French, on the other hand, is pretty straightforward. If you see an "e" with an accent aigu, you know exactly how to say it each and every time. It just doesn't change.

English? Pronounce "lead" for me - nope, I mean the other one, "lead." How about "project" - or is it "project?" Maybe it's for, four, or fore? To, too, or two? Flower or flour? Where or wear? You get my point.

When I read historical fiction, there are some authors that go with more "genuine" spelling for the era in correspondance, and you can see how words were more often spelled exactly as they sound. Letters were more consistent in how they were pronounced.

But we have lost our way somehow. We've made English into a complex and confusing langauge (I won't even get into grammar - just sticking with reading, since that's our issue right now; I'll revisit grammar when Mister Man is struggling in Language Arts in second grade).

I propose that we make some changes.

First of all, there will be a new letter for the "oo" sound. And by "oo" sound, I mean the one for "boo" and not for "brook." Brook may continue to use the "oo" combination.

G will only be pronounced like the "g" in grandma. There is no more "j" sound allowed with G - all those move to be spelled with a J.

And for those who need to spell Hebrew words, there will be a new letter for the "ch" sound in Challah and Chanukah. I haven't decided yet what it looks like, but there is definitely a need for a new letter, potentially a c with a fun accent.

Then we have the "ght" sound. That will be replaced on a go-forward basis with simply a T. Right, might, thought, bought, and so forth become easier to read and to write. Ta-da!

Little Miss is also struggling with the "th" sound. Is it "the" or "with?" We will bring in a new form for the hard sounding "th" - an accent over the h perhaps? The standard soft sounding "th" can remain as is.

Oh, and the "sh" sound in sure and other words? Yep, it goes back to being spelled shure, just like I (and about four other people) spelled in in the fifth grade spelling bee. In case you're wondering, I'm a visual not an auditory learner.

The letter S will be corrected in many words to have only the ssss sound like snake. Z will replace the Ss currently in words like busy.

Oddly, I'm ok with double letters and silent Es. I'm not quite sure why I have this double standard, but it's there.

In thee end, are language will look like this. If wee are to bizy riting, or thout we were, to consentrate on how to brake apart the correct spellingz, we will still bee able to rite and not fite our teecherz.

Or maybe not. Just writing that paragraph hurt my brain. Apparently Little Miss is just going to have to figure it out, slowly but surely. Perhaps it's a good life lesson in dealing with frustration and failure, learning to persevere and finally succeed.

Come Celebrate The Ultimate Blog Party!

Yikes, I can't believe it's already April 9. I'm a little late to the party, but a party doesn't always start exactly on time, does it? I'm chalking it up to being at home right now, which means that I sometimes have to really stop and think about the days of the week and the date. Regardless....

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Come celebrate with me, too!

For those of you who don't know me, welcome!

My name is Michelle, and I have two wee ones, Mister Man who is six and a half (as of Sunday, yikes!) and Little Miss who is four and a half. We can't forget the halves around here - they're critical. In fact, we actually celebrate half birthdays.  On Sunday, we'll be celebrating yet again.  Mister Man has requested my French toast (which of course I actually don't like but make for them anyway) along with strawberry cupcakes and cherry icing for dinner.  I'll be putting on my creative cap for this one!

The wee ones keep me pretty entertained, and I write about them frequently.  They say funny things, they break my heart, they make me proud, and they try to drive me crazy.  I think most parents can relate to most of those emotions - especially the last one!

I work part time, although I am currently on leave and testing out the waters of the SAHM world.  It's amazing how quickly the days fill up, as I'm nowhere near as caught up on life as I expected to be six weeks in.  Then again, I'm also the PTO president at Little Miss's school, which keeps me plenty busy.  I am achieving one of my goals for my leave, however.  I'm working on learning to say no - in fact, I told Mister Man's school that I was not able to chair their gala next year.  And I declined to be the head coach of the wee ones' softball team.  We won't discuss what I have gotten myself roped into though, will we?

I also love to cook, and I'm in the process of teaching the wee ones, too.  Little Miss is learning to crack an egg, although she insists on washing her hands after each cracking.  Mister Man does a pretty good job of measuring the dry ingredients, and I figure I'll be passing on the cooking dinner baton sometime in the next four or five years.  Each week, I put up one of the recipes I cooked over the past week with my Tasty Tuesday posts.

The blog here is all about My Life.  My Story.  My Version.  Come join me, and follow along with the fun!  And let's all celebrate the party with 5 Minutes For Mom.  It's not too late to join the Ultimate Blog Party, as I've proven here.

Did I mention there are prizes, too?  My favorites are the $200 Apple Gift Certificate from cMomGo (which is a website that I started using for my PTO this year and love love LOVE - don't know what I'd do without it!), $100 GC to, the foot and calf massager, the Get Fit pack, a custom made tutu for Little Miss (there are 2!), the Collected Recipes Cookbook binder, the Disney Mickey 5-in-1 Tasty Baker, the Wall Slicks decal GC, the $55 Amazon Gift Card (ok ALL the Amazon and Target gift cards!), the Flat Belly pack, the Cook It Together cookbook, and the Tupperware pack.  That's a lot of favorites, isn't it?

I can't believe how many prizes there are.  To be honest, there aren't ANY that I wouldn't want (the few young baby items excepted).  So come join the party!

And I almost forgot - with all the prizes mentioned above, I have a few giveaways with some neat prizes going on myself: Hot Locks doll here, probiotics here, and e.l.f. cosmetics here. Enter one or all, and good luck!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Meet The Professor

Quick reminder of three giveaways here, here, and here.


When Mister Man was going to kindergarten this year, he had to have a vision exam before the school year started. We went to a developmental optometrist who doesn't just look at whether you can see or not but focuses also on how well your eyes work.

Just like that, we had an answer as to why t-ball was so painful and frustrating for him last year. And things we should have noticed as parents but didn't became clear. Mister Man had no depth perception, and his visual spatial acuity was severely underdeveloped - meaning that he couldn't see and track things the way you or I can. It made reading interesting, as he read by context without seeing the individual words - which explained why he would skip words when reading aloud or add words that weren't there.

Vision therapy started soon after, and it's made a world of difference. He can actually catch things now because he's been able to get his eyes to work together and develop the fine motor skill in his eyes. Ditto with reading and tracking items in dense and random places. Phew. Fingers crossed he'll finish up with this soon, especially as my insurance started denying claims at the end of January (and yes, I do have an exemption letter covering this exact service and I'm still fighting it, but grrr).

Point being, we have update appointments with the doctor every eight weeks or so to measure his progress and ensure that he's getting where he needs to be. So far we're on track, and it's possible we'll even end the therapy early given how well he's going.

In late January, we had a checkup and the doctor noticed that Mister Man's right eye was at 20/40. His left was fine, so we went on our merry way. When we went back for our next check-in a couple weeks ago, his right eye had deteriorated again and was now 20/70 with an astigmatism. Bummer.

The good news the doctor gave us was that he only needed to wear glasses when doing board work at school, so we don't have to worry about getting sport glasses and sunglasses and all sorts of things that basically just look like giant dollar signs to me.

We shopped around to find some glasses that he really liked and could wear comfortably. Mission accomplished, I then started to drill the rules into him - they go on and off with two hands, don't touch the clear part, keep them on whenever you're seated in school, they either live on your head or in their case, etc. I'm hoping that this sinks in, as I'm not too interested in replacing these anytime soon.

Regardless, he's pretty proud of his new look. And I'm wondering how long before Little Miss also needs glasses. Apparently Daddy passed on his eye genes - maybe that's why no one has my blue eyes?

And of course, so is Little Miss who can't bear the thought of being left out.

So was it smart or paranoid to buy the second backup pair?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Summer Big? Or Summer Small?

Quick reminder of three giveaways here, here, and here.


My husband has Twins tickets, and he asked me when I wanted to head up to Minnesota to go watch them play. We love going up there (I grew up in the Twin Cities - sorta), and I still have a lot of friends up there. And an outdoor ballpark for the Twins and not just the Saints - the minor league team in St. Paul? Rock on.

So I did a mental perusal of my calendar.

Welllll, the wee ones are in school until mid-June. Mister Man has a few more days than Little Miss, but they end around the same time. They've both asked to do summer school, which means they're booked until July 9. They're really neat classes - Mister Man, for example will be doing a science experimentation class and learning to cook - and the price for four hours a day five days a week for the entire session is less than regular daycare for a single week.

With Little Miss going into kindergarten, she gets busy on the schedule next with SafetyTown that starts up July 12 and runs until the beginning of August. It's a really neat program that teaches kids all about various types of safety and things they need to know from riding bikes to electricity and more.

August brings me to BlogHer. Oh yeah. And Florida. In fact, my parents are taking the wee ones to Florida for two weeks starting the day before I leave for BlogHer.

And by the time we get back? Well, school is starting up that next week already.


Going to Minnesota isn't something I really want to do in a quick weekend, especially since I'll give in and drive rather than buy four plane tickets and rent a car. Even Labor Day weekend is painful, not to mention crowded.

How is it that summer has already disappeared before it's even started? We're back to fifty degree weather, and in my book that's barely even spring.

The more I think about it, the sadder I get. The fun zoo trips, the jaunts down to the children's museum, the lazy days at the pool, those all seem further and further away.

Most of this I can't change, and much of it I wouldn't want to. Both wee ones picked out their summer school classes, and they are very excited to go. But maybe SafetyTown doesn't need to happen this year. Maybe we'll do it next year when Little Miss is going into first grade. Without naps, we can do more fun things later in the day than what we can now.

After all, summer is about getting up when you want to. It's about forgetting what day of the week is it, having no schedule, and figuring out the day's plan as the day unfolds. It's about relaxing and trying new things and plain having fun.

And I could really use some fun in my life. They're only young once, and I'd like to enjoy it. Besides, I have some Twins games I need to go see.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Tasty Tuesday!

Three giveaways (and yes, the odds are still awfully good) here, here, and here.

Plus, I just put up a review of a totally awesome caramel apple factory. If you want to see how they're made and drool, go visit here.


It was Easter this weekend, which means I was a baking fiend. I had lots of stuff to make, and the wee ones enjoyed helping me. Until it was 9pm on Saturday night and I realized that I hadn't made anything for them to eat between Easter services on Sunday (singing in the choir and my husband out of town means we're there for two services). I decided on applesauce coffee cake for Little Miss, since it's dairy free and easy, and I made blueberry sour cream muffins for Mister Man.

The muffins rocked. In fact, I'm eating one right now, and they are wonderful. The entertaining thing is that it was after ten before I started making these and nearly midnight before the last muffin tin exited the oven (I like smaller muffins, sue me). This meant that my brain wasn't fully functioning as I made them.

For example, at the end of the mixing, I couldn't remember if I'd put in any baking soda or not. Oops. (Verdict: I forgot it, so the extra half teaspoon I stirred in was a good idea.) Oh, and I neglected to check on my sugar container before I started. Needless to say, this recipe was tweaked mightily as I was making it, but it really turned out pretty well. And yes, what is below is the "new and improved" version.

Blueberry Sour Cream Muffins

4 eggs
1 c white sugar
1 1/2 c light brown sugar
1 c vegetable oil
2 t vanilla
4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t baking soda
1 3/4 c sour cream
3 c blueberries (I used frozen)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin tins. I used 36 medium sized tins and 24 mini muffins for this. I also like my muffins smaller, so if you fill them more, you'll make fewer.

Beat your eggs in a bowl. Add the sugars and continue to beat. Slowly drizzle in the oil to ensure it emulsifies. Add the vanilla and mix well.

Add half the sour cream and mix well. Add the baking soda, salt and half the flour. Gently, and oh so slowly, mix until the flour is *mostly* gone. Add the remaining sour cream, following the same strategy. Add the remaining flour, again mixing just until the flour is mostly gone. You do NOT want to overstir this.

Fold in the blueberries carefully. Scoop into your prepared muffin tins. I debated adding a streusel to the top, but in the name of pretending that these were healthy muffins, I decided against it. Ok, so if I were really making this a healthy recipe, I would have used half applesauce with the oil and plain yogurt instead of sour cream. Eh.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes until your cake tester comes out clean.


See recipes like this and more with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Blessed With Grace!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fashion Show!

Go check out my two giveaways (reeeeaaaaallllllly good odds here) here and here.

Plus, I just put up a review of a totally awesome caramel apple factory. If you want to see how they're made and drool, go visit here.


Spring has finally sprung here in Chicago - and oh my, I really hope I didn't just jinx that! That of course means that the wee ones have started to wear outfits that don't involve covering them from head to toe. In fact, we even had a record high 83 degrees on Thursday that necessitated a mid-day clothing change.

And that mid-day clothing change made me realize that the wee ones are truly growing. It isn't just my imagination. In fact, Mister Man has grown three inches since his checkup less than six months ago.

With that in mind - and knowing that they had to have something suitable to wear for Easter today - I insisted that we do their least favorite activity. Yep, it was fashion show time. I promised them something fun once we finished, and they reluctantly agreed, provided that they got to choose the five outfits we were going through that day.

We'll start with Little Miss, since ironically she was far more cooperative in this endeavor, although she is usually the more difficult of the two. Maybe my little girl is really turning into a little girl (ignore the hair please - she had just woken up from her nap, and my mom didn't use conditioner in her hair after swimming class).

As a reminder, they got to choose which outfits they'd try on.  Our first selection is a lovely 2009 Fourth of July ensemble.  This is one that I am going to have to hide until the holiday this year, as I recall she greatly enjoyed putting it on repeatedly last summer.  Unfortunately, the entire outfit still fits.  On the plus side, the elastic waist on the skirt is now close enough to fitting that she will be able to run without holding the skirt up.  Am I the only person who has an issue with Faded Glory being placed prominently on a t-shirt that displays our flag?  (Yes, my mom bought this one, not me.)

Her next selection was, not shockingly, a Twins ensemble.  This is a t-shirt that passed down from Mister Man after he outgrew it.  I see that she will also be wearing this one frequently this summer.  The capri pants are getting a little short, but this will at least get us through the first part of summer.

I had a difficult time approving this outfit, as she's worn it for the past two summers already.  Yes, you read that correctly.  This has a second skort that she also tried on that she has finally outgrown.  While they fit in the waist, they were a sligthly indecent in their length.  That skort?  24 months.  This one?  3T.  The shirt is a 4T, and I can see that again, we will only be able to wear this for the first few weeks of summer before it is gracefully retired.

Once again, Little Miss has chosen a Mister Man hand me down for her outfit selection.  Is anyone noticing a trend?  My poor mom.  She so isn't getting her girly-girl.  On the plus side, the Willie t-shirt will definitely make it through the summer.  I'm reserving judgement on this skort, however.  It seemed loose, and at four and a half, running around holding up your pants just isn't going to be allowed.

For our final outfit, Little Miss went with the un-shocking choice of Tinkerbell.  She was thrilled to note that this 5T selection passed muster.  These pants, however?  They went into the donation pile.  I don't think we can justify wearing them any longer.

With Little Miss being as compliant as she was, I was able to sneak in all her summer dresses, as well, in the guise of seeing what she could wear for Easter today.  Her first selection was a lovely dress that would look much better on a girl four inches shorter.  This was also placed into the donation pile.

Our second attempt was last year's Easter dress that was ankle length at the time.  Although definitely shorter, this may be our winner.  I'm thinking that 6pm on the day before Easter was not going to yield a new dress for her.

We moved on to one of her favorite dresses last year.  Little Miss long torso is definitely outgrowing this dress.  However, while we won't be wearing it for Easter, I am holding on to this one for a few weeks until I am certain that she has something else to wear when needed.  This one is at least decent.

Little miss's final selection was this once mid calf-length dress.  After deciding that she looked like she was headed to a 60's minidress party, I told her that this also had to be placed in the donation party.  However, after seeing the green dress that one woman wore to Easter services this morning,  I am rethinking that decision.

Mister Man was next on the docket, and he proved to be less happy about the fashion show. Actually, he was fine with the fashion show aspect, but he did not like the picture taking portion. Go fig.

Interestingly, Mister Man's first choice was to pair a shirt I'd bought him last year purposely too big with a pair of soccer shorts from last summer.  The shorts will stay until I can buy a new pair, but they're quickly headed for Little Miss's closet.  The shirt confirmed that Mister Man is not yet into size M clothing.

Next up we have a pair of shorts that my mom bought last year - size 7 - that apparently will fit all summer long.  Thank goodness I have some clothes I know he can wear.  That shirt may last us for a few weeks into summer, but it appears destined for the donation pile.  I was quite proud of him for matching nicely - relatively - for his first two outfits.

His next outfit also matched beautifully, and this shirt looks like it might make its way through at least half the summer.  The shorts only prove how much he's grown in the past year.  Yikes.  I'm amazed he was able to button those without giving himself a hernia, but he said they actually felt fairly comfortable.

I lost all faith in his fashion sense here, although it's possible that he grabbed five shirts and then five shorts and only tried to match them up after they were out of his closet.  That's the theory I'm going with anyway.  These shorts are also headed for the donation pile.  And yep, this is another M shirt that I bought him last year for the future.  The future has not quite yet arrived.

So far, five outfits, and we're only able to keep about half the clothes.  I did a quick peek at some of their other clothes in the closet and saw a few 2T shirts and such in Little Miss's closet and some 4T and 5T clothes in Mister Man's.  Apparently we'll be doing more fashion show, soon.  And I might put up some of the more entertaining outfits - if they let me!

In the meantime, I'm begrudgingly making my shopping list.  I suppose Little Miss needs at least one dress to get her through the summer.  And Mister Man might need more than one pair of shorts this summer.  time to start clipping those coupons!

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