Thursday, February 25, 2010

Am I doing my kids a disservice?

This is on my mind today.

I have a hard time believing that I can purchase the tools necessary for my kids to be successful in life. Not every kid is going to be the best at everything he or she attempts, and not everyone develops at the same rate. I think the key phrase from the article is that people are seeking professionals for routine problems of childhood.

Will my kids not do as well as they possibly could because I have no interest in getting them professional help in things that will come to them eventually? Are there really that many more students out there who need help outside of their homes?

And the bigger issue is, what happens to the children out there who actually need the help but can't because there aren't enough therapists out there to service everyone?

(There's a reason why this post is labeled "aimless." Not really going anywhere, is it?)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Midweek Moments

  • Going through Louie's folder I saw that he got a sticker that has a picture of a dinosaur and it says "Nice Try" on it. Lou informed that he thinks it says that because it's a triceratops. Not sure if the coffee hadn't kicked in yet or not, but I was pretty impressed that he caught onto that.
  • Charlie drew his first "person" picture, or at least one that I recognized people in it! As in the past, I get so excited when the boys draw pictures of people--our family. When Lou first drew his I called them "chicken nugget people." Not sure what kind of artist Charlie will be because when I went to find the picture it was crumpled up and cut up. I'm guessing he's a bit more on the avant garde end of the spectrum. (I'll have to post the picture later.)
  • In the last couple of weeks I've attended a PTO meeting and a board meeting at the preschool. In both, the topic of technology has come up in discussion. This is a point of conflict with me. As much as I love technology (i.e. digital cameras, the internet), I feel like it is healthy for all people to have the ability to disconnect from electronics. Not all the time, but sometimes. There is so much to be appreciated around us and as much as technology has been responsible for some really great things (this blog, for instance, ha-ha), it does cut us off from the "living" world. On the other hand, I want my kids to be well-versed on the ins and outs of technology because (as the talk in the meetings suggested) that is where classrooms and education in general is headed. In the not-too-distant future kids will be reading on iPod Touches instead of textbooks. (Wow. Just now getting to my point.) Benny has found a game that he can play on a website and he loves it. He talks about playing it all the time and I wonder if he
  • As I type this I see a squirrel digging up a bulb that I planted. Ugh. Please, please, please let there be a few flowers that pop up this spring!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Still Shots from Hoopsfest

Here are some pictures from the warm-up and game on Saturday. Sorry the pictures are so grainy. The light wasn't the greatest and because they were playing full court I was taking the shots back a little further than in previous games.

The kids were so excited even though I don't think they had any clue what was going on. The organization that runs the basketball (and baseball) program is incredible. The woman in charge is so dedicated to the kids--really emphasizing that it is about the kids having fun. The kids learn a lot because the pressure is not there and grow both as an athlete and as a person. So glad we're a part of it!

In line doing their layups before the game

After they ran through the banner, the team members were announced individually

Louie always plays under the basket with his hands up

Gracie wore her warm-up suit just in case they needed an extra player.
Turns out Louie has a teammate named Grace who made some great shots!

Meredith wore her ballerina outfit to be the cheerleader on this special day. (Can you believe I allowed this? Ah, how time has changed me ;)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Are People Losing Their Minds?

So when I heard about this announcement made by the American Academy of Pediatrics I felt a strong desire to talk to someone and because my kids really don't want to get into deep discussions with me, I thought I share my thoughts with you.

Basically, the AAP wants companies to redesign hot dogs, among other items that cause choking in children.

My answer to the problem of parents who fear their kids will choke would be: don't let them eat hot dogs.

Yes, bad things happen. Many bad things can happen to kids. However, the possibility of bad things happening can be curbed by awareness, being informed and using common sense. But even if all these occur, you cannot ward off all negative situations.

Dr. Gary Smith, the lead author of the policy statement says:

"There's a general recognition that more needed to be done to protect children from choking," according to Smith. "We have a number of laws and regulations that help prevent choking due to toys. There are no such similar regulations for food."

I think the major difference between having toys that kids can choke on and choke-able foods is that food is pretty plain and simple--if it is a certain size, it need to be cut down to bite-sized chunks; if it is difficult to chew, either cut it down to make it easier or just don't give it to a child; if its texture is such that it's too thick (i.e. peanut butter) only put a thin layer on a piece of bread or cracker. It comes down to common sense. With toys, it's completely different.

Toys come in all shapes and sizes, made with different types of materials and are geared toward certain age groups. I would imagine that I wouldn't find a toy aimed at infants 6-12 months that have pieces that a child might put in his or her mouth because that is a prime time for teething. An apple will always be an apple; a grape, a grape; and a hot dog will always be a hot dog--hopefully.

I'm curious as to how far this will go. Every summer you hear of near- or actual drownings of children. Again, this is a tragic, tragic situation, something every parents fears. But you can't redesign pools. It only takes a few inches of water in which drowning is possible. The steps are taken in order to be as sure as you possibly can that a child won't be in a situation where they can drown. But bad things will still happen.

I tried to find statistics on these situations, but it was difficult to find exact numbers. What I do know is that sometimes the fear of what may happen does more to affect how people act than the actual number. Worrying about what may happen is a major reason for why people act, but overall it's irrational. I'm not sure if that pertains to this situation--maybe there is an epidemic of children choking on hot dogs, hard candies, etc.--but my guess is that this is more precautionary.

My hope is that tomorrow the AAP retracts or at least amends their statement. Or maybe this is a method to get the word out to parents: make a policy that is so overwhelmingly to an extreme that it makes headlines and then it comes to people's attention that they need to take care in feeding their children.

It just might work.

Wow, so who gave me permission to use this blog as a soapbox??

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Terrible Twos

I was under the impression that the dreaded terrible twos didn't exist. Louie hit his "punk" stage about four going on five, and Benny was three, going on four. I guess with each kid it gets younger and younger because Charlie is a full-blown punk these days.

I know that there are going to be naysayers out there, but it's true--Charlie has a side to him other than being a big ol' ham. He hits his siblings and runs away laughing. After you tell him something he puts his fists on his hips and yells NO! with all of his might. He uses a pencil as a weapon and when you ask him to give it to you he runs away with the pencil almost going in his eye!

What is going on here? Where is my sweet, sweet Charlie Bear? He's still in there, I know because he gives us glimpses of him every once in awhile. But this new persona has taken over and it's wearing me out! What bothers me the most is that it affects everyone else so much. When Benny has his temper tantrums or whatever, it's usually something that is (somewhat) contained to himself, or at the most between him and me or Kevin. Charlie seems to want to involve as many people as possible.

I am hoping, hoping, hoping that this soon will pass. I get irritated with his outright indignation toward me. I can't get over the fact that he thinks it's ok to throw a toy at his sister's head or kick his brother in the stomach, running away, smiling. I know my baby boy will return. I just know it.

But now I know that the Terrible Twos are alive and well.


In the schedule we saw that on Saturday it was supposed to be Hoopsfest, but we didn't know what that meant. We were pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be a big production! On hand for the game was the biggest group of fans any kid could ask for: Uncle Jay and Christina drove down from Columbus; Uncle Paul came in from Cleveland; Aunt Jill and Uncle Nick came from Dayton; as well as Grandma and Grandpa R, Aunt Erin, Uncle Joe and Gracie, and Grandpa M.

Usually they have two games going at once, on shorter courts. This game the kids played full court, which is a big difference for those little legs! But I'm getting ahead of myself--before the game even began the lights went off, a smoke machine started up and a spotlight shinned on a banner made by the moms of each team. As the team was announced they broke through their banner and ran to the center of the court to be announced. For whatever reason our gold team wasn't able to break through their banner. Here is a short video of it:

Louie didn't score any points that day, but he had rebounds in the double digits! Each time the announcer called out his name! It was such a fun way to end the season.

Stay tuned: baseball starts at the end of April!

A Little Bit of Sunshine

Ahhh...just what we need amidst all the snow and chill of February.

On Friday we met up with Amanda, Owen and Eli at Krohn's to pretend that it was warmer than it actual was. Of course the day we pick to go it's a fairly mild day (38 degrees) that we could have spent outside, as long as it was on concrete. Otherwise it would have been pretty muddy. Regardless, I'm glad we made the decision to go to the conservatory.

Right away it was time to eat! I can only imagine what it's going to be when these guys are going through puberty!

After inhaling their pb&js they headed over to this sand vessel and played while Amanda and chatted. So very nice.

I know that it's always hot inside the conservatory, but today was extraordinarily warm! How awful that I get to be around all these gorgeous flowers and in the sun and warmth (sorry, I thought this shot was nicer and it seems really blurry!) and I complain about it!

The boys shared their special treat of gummy frogs with Owen and Eli. Not sure how good they were. They might have been lime flavored, which I'm not a big fan of.

Owen is destined to be a tour guide. Maybe that is the way he can support himself through college to earn his degree in some sort of science. This kid knows what he's talking about!

Seeing all the plants got me excited for spring. I am starting to plan for the garden.

And I dreamed of a day that I could actually grow a beautiful plant...

This patient lady waited for the boys to get in position to take the cave picture. I don't think she expected to be in it!

Did you think I was kidding about how hot it was? We had to go outside to take a breather and let the boys run around without their coats on!

They had such a good time playing tag and chase and I'm sure everyone thought we were terrible moms to let them outside without hats and coats.

It was a gorgeous day spent with great friends!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bringing About World Peace

Smiling is very important. If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace. It is not by going out for a demonstration against nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.

~Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Couple of Updates

  1. Here is the link for the bumblebee pencil topper. It's cute to make even if it's not Valentine's Day. Charlie and Benny ended up making their own, but used two pencils so that it could be a finger puppet! (They came up with that all on their own :)
  2. Here are some more pictures of the icicles outside. I wish that I had some way to show you how big they really are, especially in diameter. Maybe I could just tell you that the big icicle there is as long as three Merediths and about as wide as one...ok, that's an exaggeration, but when I went to knock them off this morning I was concerned for my well-being. Those suckers are huge! They are thick and heavy and I was glad that I didn't go bonkers in knocking them off, hitting the house with them because I could have broken some windows!

All About the Girls

Last night we celebrated Fat Tuesday like we always do with a family pot luck. We had jambalaya and a king cake (Grandma got the baby!) and an assortment of other treats and appetizers.

We played Balderdash while the boys made Mardi Gras masks and took turns hiding the coins around the house. You would have thought I's get some good pictures of the night, but no, just of the girls.

Here are a few:


Checking out each others jewels

Sweet cousins

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Really Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

I just finished a book called Identical Strangers, which is a true story about two women who were adopted as babies find out at 35 that they have an identical twin. What is most fascinating about the book was the idea of nature versus nurture. The book was written by the twins themselves and not only did they include their own story, but those of other twins they met and those they researched.

More often than not, from what they found much of your personality is determined in your genes. I had a hard time digesting that one. It is understandable that your DNA plays a role in making you who you are, but don't you want to believe that the experiences that have shaped your life have also been a part of you, you? I do.

But then I look at Kevin and see how amazing of a person he is and if the boys and Meredith are blessed with any of his aspects, then they are lucky kids. For instance, last weekend we were home and did a good, thorough cleaning of the house. I was upstairs with the boys in their room and Kevin was straightening up in our room. All of a sudden I heard some construction-type noises in downstairs and I figured he finished and was working on the basement.

Later, I go down and see that he has constructed this awesome shoe-shelves-doo-hickey that is perfect for our closet! This is something I've struggled with for so long--the frustration of never being able to find anything on the floor of our closet. He goes and whips it out in about 15 minutes. He is amazing!

I'm so glad that in their little bodies they have the ability to do great things like their daddy! How interesting it will be to watch these kids grow and develop into themselves, regardless of who shares some of their genes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lil' Auburn Baby

Are you starting to see it??

There is a bit o' red peach fuzz on my baby's scalp!

I know it'll come in one day, and that day it will be beautiful!

I'm Done with the Snow

The meteorologist said that the snow was going to start at midnight (it didn't), then 2:30am (I was up--no snow), but by the time folks were traveling to work there was a steady, heavy snowfall. It has been going non-stop ever since.

Some things were left in the van from our trip to Jungle Jim's yesterday and when I went out to get them I couldn't get over all the snow. Last week I shoveled a pathway to each side of the van and put salt down. You couldn't tell anything was shoveled at any point.

This first picture was taken a couple of days ago. All along the front of the house we have some mega icicles. With the warming up, a little bit of melting and refreezing (didn't know how icicles were made, did ya?), they have quadrupled in size! I feel like this second picture doesn't do them justice. Maybe if I work up the nerve I'll go outside and take another picture of them. Needless to say, I won't be upset when it warms up enough for them to disappear all together!

The boys are getting stir-crazy. They have no desire to go outside to play in the snow anymore and it seems like the only thing on their agenda is to get on each others nerves. And mind. Poor Meredith is getting her two front teeth in and they have been worse than the bottom two. Her gums are swollen and pink with pain. And to make matters worse, I hear that Cleveland is sunny today! Spring--your arrival will be much appreciated!

Presidents' Day Eve

In other words, Jungle Jim Day for our family!

Each February my aunts, uncles and cousins make the trek out to Route 4 to find the oddest ingredients to make up some pretty good recipes. This was Meredith's first experience out at Jungle Jim's and I have to say that she rather enjoyed it, if only because she walked away with a special biscuit treat from the UK. Yum!

Some highlights of the menu:
  • stuffed clams
  • rotisserie-style pork heart (it was Valentine's Day!)
  • baby squid salad
  • crickets (dead, sans chocolate)
  • broiled eel
  • Blue-Point oysters
  • more kim chee
  • something that I was not able to identify (I'm guessing I don't want to know)
(The heart--I wasn't kidding.)

Some things are made more for shock-value, to see who is willing to put it into their bodies, but there were many "normal" things made as well. For instance, Aunt Jane made bruschetta, which isn't so exotic, but it tastes so much better when made with fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella from this great market! (Jungle Jim's makes many of their own cheeses in house.)

Cousins Susie, Jill and Denny
(They made a delicious guacamole and a I'll-have-to-get-the-recipe creamy cheesy corn dip)

Our main contribution was "wonton bowls." I wanted to do something for the Chinese New Year (year of the tiger--rarr!), but I'm thinking that the recipe might be a little more Japanese than Chinese. Regardless, it was very easy to make and I think I might make it again. What was great is that I could try it out on everyone there, get honest reviews, and next time I'll be able to perfect it. (There was too much ginger in the beef mixture and not enough wasabi powder in the mayo.)

My Funny Valentines

Last year for Valentine's Day Kevin worked in the basement and the boys and I made decorations and dinner for him. We did the same thing this year and it was a real treat.

These are stained-glass hearts that Louie made at his Valentine's Day party.

While Ben and Charlie napped, Louie punched out paper hearts and I used a sewing machine to make them into Valentine's Day garland! (Can you see how excited I am about doing the most basic things on a sewing machine--ha, ha.)

I made a devil's food chocolate cake with vanilla icing and the boys decorated it for Kevin.

The first time was an honest mistake, but after hearing every few seconds Oops--I got icing on my finger! I figured that they were using that as a ploy to taste the dessert before they ate dinner.

This was the finished product. I thought they did a pretty good job of decorating. Especially since all three were doing at the same time. I had visions of it being ripped in three because one was putting red hots on their section of the cake. What's funny is that they didn't end up eating any of the decorations. None like cinnamon and only Ben and Char like peppermint, but they didn't want it with their cake.

After making the cake they made a "Happy Valentine's Day" poster where they each colored a few letters and then glued on conversation hearts.

Our Valentine's Day dinner! We had pork loin (using my always-a-winner Paula Deen recipe!), asparagus (the boys had a salad) and couscous. Who needs a fancy-smancy restaurant when you have Casa Llena?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heart-Day Par-Tay

I haven't been in Louie's class at all year, so when I secured a babysitter in Grandma I volunteered to be a part of the kindergarten class' Valentine's Day party. My job was to come up with a craft.

I saw some really great deals on oriental trading company for Valentine crafts. They fit the theme; they were magnets, so they were actually a useful craft; and they had bears in them, so they weren't such a "girly" project.

But they wouldn't get here until after the party was already over.

So I went searching on the world wide web and found this great craft where you make a bee pencil topper with googly eyes (and who doesn't like googly eyes?!) and on the antennae you put two hearts that say "Bee" and "Mine."

All the items for the craft were found easily and last night I did a trial run of the bee and also made some rice krispies for a party snack. You are well aware of how terrible I am at making these marshmallow treats as witnessed in Benny's 3rd birthday "Christmas Bush." I am getting better, is all I'm going to say. Unfortunately, this post has no pictures but I will describe as best I can.

In my mind I thought, how cool would it be if I could get the rice krispies to sparkle with sugar crystals! I wanted to do something to make them special for the holiday and we had some pink sugar crystals in the pantry. I mixed them in with the melted marshmallow made it all pink. Pepto pink, it was that bad. Oh well. They were shaped well (very pretty cubes) and there was enough for the class. Probably extra marshmallows were thrown in, so I'm sure they tasted good! Reflecting on the matter, I probably should have just sprinkled some on top of them after I put them in the pan. Benny thought otherwise. For his St. Patrick's Day party I'm volunteering for he wants me to do the same thing with the green crystals. Hey, what can I say? I know what kids like.

On to the craft: my little prototype was looking good as I attempted to instruct the kids on how to create the pencil topper. It didn't go so well for the kindergartners. Who knew that my generic glue holds better than the fancy Elmer's they have at school? Googly eyes rolling everywhere, paper hearts sliding off of antennae, and I had another mother helping out at the table who kept laughing. Ah, the story of my life. Great idea in the head, doesn't always do so well when executed. We ended up securing everything with scotch tape, which made the bees look pretty shoddy, but the kids loved them. Again, the googly eyes made everything funner.

Besides the bumble bees, they also made "stained glass" hearts and played a bean bag game and heart bingo. Afterward, their teacher read them a really cute story called Roses are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink and then came the treats. Wowza! They had a lot of sweets. There were four different kinds of heart cookies along with the pink rice krispies, red jello packs, strawberries and grapes. The party was in the morning, so that poor teacher was stuck in a room with 24 crazies! (The kids did put the leftovers in a baggie in their cubby for treats at home.)

I'm so glad I was able to come in for the party. It was neat to see Louie with his classmates, see a little bit of what goes on during the school day, and I even made friends with some of the other mothers! I just need to brush up on my craft and baking skills. Hopefully by the time Meredith's in kindergarten!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Newest Musical Favorite

For Christmas, Meredith got the Ziggy Marley "Family Time" CD. It is awesome. I've written on here before about music that the boys like, and it's no coincidence that it is stuff that Kevin and I like, as well. They have plenty of time in their day when they hear nursery rhymes and other "kid" songs. When we're in the van or in the kitchen we play music that the whole family can listen to and this CD definitely fits the bill.

Not only are the songs great, but Ziggy sings duets with many of our favorite singers! Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Jack Johnson and even Laurie Berkner! The music has the familiar reggae feel, but the lyrics of the songs are geared toward issues children deal with as well and family experiences. For instance, the song "Cry, Cry, Cry" sounds, at first, like a "Redemption Song." As serious-sounding as it is, it somewhat mocks the struggle of a child who isn't understood by his or her parents. One of the lines is Set the Children Free! when they are put in their room under duress. Make me laugh every time I hear it. Because that is my life. Every night.

All the kids--Meredith included!--bop along with the beat and sing the words. No kidding--Charlie, even! It's one of those CDs that you can listen to all the way through and while making its listeners happy, it's also a soothing disc, which is often needed for long car rides.

The CD ends with two stories read by Jamie Lee Curtis. The first one was written by Ziggy called "Helping Hands," the second one is a children's book written by Jamie Lee called "The Human Race." Although they are both good stories, sometimes I wish there was a way to put the songs on repeat, skipping the stories unless we're wanting to listen to them. The CD is enhanced, in that if you put it into your computer and there are activities for the kids to do.

Overall, a great call by Santa! The CD case was sitting out last week when Uncle Billy stopped by and saw it sitting there. He let us know that "Family Time" recently won a Grammy. No surprise to our family!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Wrath Against the Magical PJs

Second night of wearing pjs backward, second snowday.

Ben was not impressed. In fact, he was pretty darn mad today! He has good reason, though. Today he was supposed to go to school, but tonight was to be his VIP night. Every year the preschool has a night where a person who doesn't normally get to come into school visits with the student to see what the day is like. It's a shortened version of the day, and it's something Benny's really been looking forward to.

I tried to explain to him that Miss Cathy emailed to say that there was just too much snow in the parking lot to allow everyone to come tonight, but in his best "angry" voice, Benny yelled at Lou that it was his fault that Daddy can't come to school with him!

The night will be rescheduled, so I'm not feeling too badly for Benny, but I imagine it is hard when you believe that pajamas have the ability to control the weather.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

For the Love of Snow Days

The day is done and I have to say, even with the moments of craziness and creeping in on cabin fever, I really, really like snow days.

I like being forced to be homebound sometimes. We rush around so much with school drop-offs and pick-ups, appointments and play dates that it's nice to have to stay put for a while.

Part of that comes from the fact that I feel like I got a lot accomplished today! We were gone all weekend and last week was pretty busy so the laundry had piled up, among the multitude of other things that had to be done around the house. In addition, we made paper snowflakes and shoveled two driveways!

I know that a generation ago, people didn't leave the house as much as we do today. I imagine that if I had to pick, I'd choose to have the ability to leave the house more often. I like being able to go to the zoo, the park or the museum. There isn't a bus system, so I have to be able to drop off and pick up the boys from school. We are busy, and there are other parts of our life that are affected by it, but I think that we have a lot of great experiences because of it.

And that is why snowdays are so treasured in our household. It shakes things up a bit!

Just Because

We got Charlie's 2 (and a half) pictures taken yesterday and of course, the cutest smile of the day was given by someone not getting her portrait taken!

Things are so different with the fourth: I may bring a diaper bag, but I don't bring extra outfits in there "just in case." Of course, this would be a situation where we would need an extra pair of pants. Her little toot caused a big explosion, something we haven't seen the likes of since she was quite a bit smaller and her pants were ruined. Fortunately, we had a big, warm blanket to cover her up with because she went home pants-less.

The Magical Power of Kids' PJs

Louie came home from school yesterday telling us that his music teacher informed us that if he wore his pajamas backwards when he went to bed that night that he wouldn't have school the next day. As soon as he walked out of the bathroom after taking a shower he showed us that not only was his shirt on backwards (easily visible) but his pants were, too (he showed us the tag).

It worked!!

I heard the boys up in their room when I got up with Meredith this morning--a snow day and they were playing up in their room?! These pjs are amazing!

While the boys were playing oh-so-nicely by themselves Meredith noticed the snow. I don't know why this surprises me so much. She couldn't take her eyes off the white stuff that is still falling pretty heavily in our yard. I tried to take pictures, but to get good ones of her and the snow I had to take the flash off so it is kind of blurry. Here's one of each:

She was so excited, I wish it would have turned out clearer!

The excitement is shown, but she's washed out with the flash. day a digital SLR will be a reasonable price!

Some of what she was seeing. I'll take another picture later because the snowfall has gotten even heavier than when this was taken.

Superb Owl '10

Uncle Denny and Aunt Sherry hosted another great party this year. The group was an overwhelmingly Colts crew, save for me and the boys and a couple of others. Well, we never got out of Charlie what he wanted, but I'd be pretty surprised if he did anything different than his brothers!

Halfway through the game (when it looked like the Colts were going to run away with it) Benny decided to switch sides. For whatever reason that frustrated me. I don't care who you're rooting for, but don't be a bandwagoneer! I think it's important to stick to your guns when making decisions, even if it is as unimportant as who's going to win the Superb Owl.

And you can see how much I actually cared about the game, considering the following are the only pictures I took:

"So Gracie, who are you rooting for," asks Andy.

"I don't care. Give me some soup," says Gracie.

"I love these shoes, Mere. Where did you get them?" asks Gracie.

P.S. Joanie came up with the "Superb Owl" a while ago and I thought it was a great name to take the place of the ridiculous rules put in place by the nfl.

P.P.S. I often like to pretend that the girls are in a Look Who's Talking movie.