Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Break

We don't typically enjoy a Spring Break, which baffles many since Hubby works for a university.  Alas, the students' movements don't affect his work schedule much at all.  And the Nugget's school is basically the only one in the area that also forgoes a spring break.

Still, I took it upon lately-grouchy self to have an attitude adjustment and treat this week like a mini spring break for the little ones.  I think it's doing me some good!  I decided we wouldn't spend a lot, but we'd do a mini adventure every day instead of just a couple times during the week, and having that to look forward to each morning has given me more energy to face the day.

I think we all have our seasons of ups and downs, and lately I've just been feeling a little trapped.  Trapped in the house over the long winter, trapped by the schedule of naptime and school pickup, trapped by the Nugget in the hallway at school while he stalls instead of zipping his backpack while Spork and Tater bicker and whine impatiently, trapped by my own cycle of ambition/failure at housework, trapped by the clock and my own fatigue, trapped by the incessant demands of my lovely little trio who turn into crazed maniacs at the tick of 4pm.  But these traps mostly exist in my mind, so it's time to shake it up and get creative.  Like how trading the stroller/leash for the red wagon at school pickup has made a world of difference.  It's time to open the windows and let some fresh air inside!

 Furry girls, Lil' B and our Ol' Lady S.

 Swap that sippy cup for a travel coffee mug, and she's driving just like me.  Be afraid.

Sneaking in some fine motor work with Spork.  Rubber bands around a can of beans.

Riding the Sweep before meeting Daddy for lunch.  It was a good day, followed by an epic meltdown, which is just your basic tangible evidence of a great morning.  If they're not crying at naptime, I didn't wear them out enough ;)

A peaceful morning at the Farmer's Market.

Farm fun at Ag Days.

Tater's sense of humor continues to grow.  She likes to joke that everything has a poopy diaper.  This week, she told me her first non-diaper joke, "A dolphin's driving Daddy's car!"  I replied, "Really?!" and she said, "NO!" and collapsed in a fit of giggles.

We went out to dinner, a rare occasion now, but Spork remembered exactly how it should go.  When the host's stand was empty (he was rolling silverware in the back), Spork queried, "Where da guy go?"

Children reflect your vocabulary back to you all the time, but especially in the toddler years.  Things I didn't realize I said so often until I heard it in toddler lisps:
"Holy moly!"
"Oh dear."
"Hmm, let's see."






Monday, March 31, 2014

A pride of March lions

My best guess, based on waking up to snow at least once a week this month, is that there is an entire pride of March lions, and they ate the damn lamb.  We Midwesterners all know that winter hasn't gasped its last icy breath until May, yet it feels like we were due some karmic sunshine what with January being what it was.  Nevertheless, the 50 degree days peppered in amongst windshield-scraping-mornings feel extra sweet.  Birds are singing, sundresses are in Tater's closet begging to be worn, and spring swim lessons have started for the kids.  Other sunshiny tidbits:

Spork thought a pair of balloons were the best thing at his pal A's birthday party.

Sundresses beckon, but sweater dresses are awfully cute and cozy too.

As a reticent baby, I thought Tater might be my quieter child, but apparently we raise 'em to be talkers.  Anyway, while I finished checking out at Barnes and Noble this week, she waved to the cashier (a David Bowie look-a-like, btw) and chirped, "Bye-bye!  Have fun!"

Spork and Tater both love cooking up "snacks" for their dolls, stuffed animals, and me.  When Spork mixes, he mutters, "Make-a-make-a-make-a."  When Tater delivers my food, she tilts her head to the side and asks, "Want some?" Then when I go to take a pretend bite, she exclaims, "A-cool down!" She tries to warn me seriously but she can't keep a straight face.

The next door neighbors have a precious new Lab puppy, with soft coal black fur and big puppy feet.  Since they both work FT, I offered to let Puppy B out a few times a day for them as needed.  The Nugget is totally in love, and he can hardly believe that little B is going to be bigger than our own Doggie.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

As long as I've got my suit and tie...

The Nugget has taken to wearing a mismatched shirt and tie to school several times a week.  When asked why he wants to get "dressed up", he just shrugs and says, "Because I like to!"  (My hunch is that it has to do with the number of compliments he gets from adults when he's dressed up or because he's emulating Daddy who wears a "work shirt" daily.)  Rock on, my dapper little gent.

Although the Nugget is the second oldest in his K class, all of his classmates have been sporting gap-toothed grins while the Nugget has been pacing the sidelines waiting for his turn at this childhood rite of passage.  Yesterday, he finally lost his first tooth, a lower incisor, in the middle of circle time.  According to Mrs. K, he was wiggling it with his tongue, made a comment about how loose it was, reached in and popped it out!  "It didn't hurt at all!" the Nugget exclaimed.  It was taped to his locker in a plastic baggie for him to take home, and we got to bust out the pillow his Aunt M gave him when he was born.  The Tooth Fairy left him a gold dollar and a tiny note, and we debated this morning how she might have carried the goods all the way to our house if she is, as the Nugget states, the size of a fingertip.  He suggested that she must use her magic wand to carry the notes, teeth, and money aloft while she flies on her little wings.






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I replaced the heart shaped wreath for my springtime egg wreath, and Tater Tot squealed with glee and shouted, "Eggies!  They're hatching!!!"

Tater Tot's Sesame Street obsession continues, though I think Abby Cadabby has taken over Elmo's spot as her favorite.  She can correctly identify Ernie and Cookie Monster as well, but prefers to call Big Bird, "Elmo Bird".
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In a miraculous 180 from a year ago when Spork would wake from naps like this...

...he now wakes up from naps like this (picture him growling softly under the blanket and squeezing those claws)....


I assume he is a T-Rex playing peekaboo.  Thank you, Ms. OT for making afternoons much sweeter!


Monday, March 17, 2014

Luck o' the Irish

Part of my adopted heritage is Irish, and I really love celebrating St. Patrick's Day.  Because it fell on a Monday this year, we basically celebrated for 4 days.  

First off, a playdate for the Nugget's friends.  Thank Pinterest for printable treasure hunt clues.  The kids found a pot of gold (necklaces from the Dollar Spot and gold foil chocolate coins) hiding in the fridge.  Not many pics because I took a cute video - they really got into it because most of them are reading now!  They fought over who got to read the next clue.


 Another playdate activity - stringing rainbow (Froot Loop) necklaces.  Yes, they were all eaten moments after being created.

We put more green on for the parade downtown on Saturday.  We had to bundle in our winter coats, but everyone still enjoyed it, even after the requisite mama meltdown of trying to get everyone into the car in a timely fashion.  (Seriously, I wonder if I can get an inhaler of aerosolized low-dose Valium, because nothing puts me over the edge like trying to herd my darling trio and their 50 pounds of  accoutrements into the car.  I need to tattoo, "I will not stress over my first world problems" on the back of my hand.)  Anyway, Spork loved the parade so much that he whined, "Come back!  BAAAACCCK!" after each set of performers passed by our spot, and he had a raging fit when we loaded back into the car, so you know it was a good time!  Tater was very amazed by all the doggies in costume, and the Nugget was thrilled by big kids doing "bike tricks" plus the fact that he received 2 seed packets for our garden.  Oh, and unfair parade distribution of goods to siblings?  Better believe I'll come armed with spare lollipops in my bag next time, oy!

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And I also need to work on my recipe log a bit more.  Here's our typical St. Patrick's Day meal.

Easy Corned Beef
Corned beef brisket with seasoning packet
1/4c water
Place brisket in crockpot and rub the seasoning on top.  Add water to the bottom, being careful not to wash off the seasoning.  Cook on low all day.
Use the leftovers with in grilled swiss cheese sandwiches or make real deal Reubens by adding sauerkraut, rye, and Thousand Island.

Cabbage
1/2 onion, chopped
2T garlic, minced
2 apples, chopped
1 head cabbage, cored and chopped
3 T butter
Melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the onion and cook about 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cabbage, stir for about 5 minutes or until cabbage softens a bit but is still crunchy.  Add the apples, and season with salt and pepper.  If you have bacon in the fridge, a crumble on top doesn't hurt!

Mint Brownies
brownie mix
1/2t peppermint extract
Another easy brownie upgrade!  I've been trying to play around with mint brownies for awhile, and 1/2t was just the right amount of extract to add to the batter.  Bake as directed.  I used this frosting recipe, and could have halved it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Spork goes to school

In a somewhat unexpected turn of events, we went to an open house for an in-home Montessori-based preschool.  The head teacher is a long-time acquaintance of our family, an exceptional parent, and really well-connected to the community.  The Nugget has attended 2 camps she's led and loved them.  We weren't planning to send Spork to school until the fall when he'll start at the Nugget's preschool, but during the visit to this little school, I witnessed him come to life and had this overwhelming feeling that he was ready, he wanted this, and we needed to make this happen for him.  After talking it out with Hubby and Ms. OT, we decided to enroll him one morning a week for the rest of the semester.  Beavs was very pleased.  No tears at drop-off on the first day, and his teacher reports he did really well.  The preschool sends pictures from each day, and I spotted Spork sometimes in the center of the action, sometimes concentrating hard on his own task, but always wearing a firefighter's suit from the dress-up bin :)  Our little boy is growing up!


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Spork Vocab
1.  Spork has finally mastered, "Yes!"
2.  While Tater has her bonky, Spork has his bwayne-tiss.  It sounds a little like a anatomical term to me.
3.  Instead of asking for screen time, a video, or naming the video, Spork usually whines, "Wanna watch.  Watch.  Watch."
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In Tater news, DCS finally pushed the paperwork back to our attorney, who has filed it with the court with a request for a date.  Hope to hear back soon!  The CW let me know that if by some weird fluke the courts are full and don't have a date for us til after our license expires, they will not make us renew, and we can keep full custody during the "waiting to finalize" period, so a huge weight has been lifted!
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The other waiting game we're playing right now is with the Nugget's elementary choices.  Our neighborhood school is not the best, so he's applied to 2 magnet schools in our district, 1 private school, and 2 public schools in the next district.  Waiting to hear about spots available and financial aid, please pray for us.  I feel really frustrated that the schools haven't made decisions yet - it's still "early" but I have a little boy who feels a bit lost without a school to call his own yet for next year.  And to be honest, I feel a bit lost too, especially since each school will come with its own different transportation schedule, hmm!  Praying it will all turn out ok and that he'll wind up at the school that's best for him.





Monday, February 24, 2014

Spork Overheard

Spork's love for the Little People, Duplo people/critters, and now the Playmobil 123 ark animals is seriously legendary.  He's giving some of them deep voices now.  So awesome.  More overheard conversations:

Superman:  See my cape?
Elephant:  Oh, oh!
Superman:  Where my mask?
Elephant:  I don't know.  Oh no!  The mask!

Giraffe 1:  You wanna go first?
Giraffe 2:  Nay, me!  (walks out on the extendable table arm used to support the extra leaf)
Giraffe 1:  My turn!  I go!  (follows)
Giraffe 2:  We all done now.
Giraffe 1:  Ok.  Put away!  (Giraffe pushes the arm back into the table)  Hawlp me, hawlp me!  Please!
Giraffe 2:  I hawlping (both Giraffes are now shoving at the table arm).


Spork sings the Dinosaur Train theme song now, and I can't even describe how awesome it is.  He does something crazy with his voice, making it lower and more nasally than it is naturally, and he sings it at top volume.

Spork has decided that it's in his best interest to inform on Tater Tot.  When I'm unloading the dishes or trying to get a minute to pee in peace, he'll come stomping to me, fake tears in his eyes, his face crumpled, and whining up a storm.  When I ask him what's wrong, he'll say, "Sis-say!  Up there!  Oh no!"  And I'll follow him to find her scaling the brick fireplace wall to reach the mantle/elbows deep in my purse fishing for lotion/pulling tissues one by one out of the box.  He might only have 5 months on her, but big brother knows trouble when he spots it!

Daddy says that Spork is cut out for the offensive line, and he's already trying to play the part by busting his poor lil' face up all the time.  Plus, he's a scab picker, so there is this ancient (originally received in November) owie that he keeps letting heal then reopening at the last minute.  All I can do is sigh, keep it clean, and hope he eventually learns to leave it be!

Spork has developed quite the rapport with the kindergartners and teachers.  He is brimming over with enthusiasm and the unquenchable desire to join in the classroom.  Mrs. L has a special fondness for Spork, and he pretty much launches his 40 pound self at her when she comes within a few yards of him.  The other day, to show off for Mrs. L, he started strutting and marching and performance culminated with him grabbing and repeatedly chest bumping the door frame.  I don't believe I've ever seen anything like it.
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I had to remind myself of this post, back when the Nugget was Tater's age, because once again, I'm struggling with the toddler id and the physical/scientific nature of the 2-2.5 yo, when Tater pulled hair and pushed today, followed by Spork exuberantly flinging his best bud out of the way (and off a step, thankfully the bottom one) at a playspace today.  At least this time I'm armed with the proof that a pushy/smacky/grabby 2yo can indeed mature into a lovely gentle preschooler given consistent correction and what feels like a lot of time to grow!  This too, shall pass, self.  In the meantime, thankful for friends who give us grace and understanding while our children learn and grow together, through the fun and not-so-fun phases!




Thursday, February 20, 2014

OT 4Ever

A couple years ago, I'd never even heard of OT.  My first introduction to it was watching Parenthood, then my niece said she was interested in becoming an occupational therapist.  So when we got Spork a speech evaluation through First Steps, I was surprised that they referred us to OT services, which I thought was just for kids on the autism spectrum.  But boy was it a dream come true for Spork and for us too!

We've been very open about our First Steps experiences in real life, because I think it's an amazing program and hope that by sharing how much it's helped us that someone else takes advantage of the program as well.  We've also gotten a lot of questions from family and friends about what it means and what exactly Spork has been doing for an hour every week.


Basically, a lot of what we first misinterpreted as general grumpiness/temperment (massive meltdowns that lasted 45 minutes, the refusal to take a fun distraction, on the edge of tears at the drop of a hat) was due to Spork having a higher need for certain types of physical movement.  It's not something we view as a disability nor a problem, it's just an unusual need, the way Daddy needs second dinner or the way the Nugget needs to be run like a racehorse on a daily basis.  Spork needs a lot of "crashing", bouncing, heavy work, compression, and rhythmic movement to meet this need.  OT gives us the tools to meet these needs in a positive healthy way, as opposed to Spork throwing violent fits to try to get his "crashing" in a harmful way.  The turnaround since we started in November is absolutely tremendous.  Spork can be redirected and distracted after a small disappointment.  We can see his real personality emerging, and those tantrums are happening more like 1-3x/week and they are much shorter now.  His fuse is lengthening, and he's just an overall happier child.  Plus, OT is really really fun!  Spork (and Tater who gets the benefit of joining in his in-home sessions) both look forward to it every week.  Things he does include bouncing on a yoga ball/mini trampoline, sliding, swinging, being pulled or "rowed" on a blanket, parachute play, manual experiences like making ooblek and playing in dry beans, and experimenting with different whistles and horns.  Ms. OT is totally delightful and really cares about Spork.  It's a pleasure to learn from her and very exciting to watch Spork make progress and thrive.


I'm still very new to it, but my hope is that this post will reach just one other family who needs help.