Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Monster Clowns Return

I woke up to find a chipper Tater puttering with her doll house, and she immediately began to chat me up as I put in my eyedrops and blearily groped for the coffee maker.
"The monster clowns are back, so I had to come sleep downstairs on the brown couch.  One monster clown got in my bed with me, and the other one was looking at me through the window with his ONE GIANT EYE."  She seemed more excited than frightened, but I am still traumatized; also a little perplexed as to how she can come up with a deleted scenes plotline out of Stephen King's It at the tender age of four.  Anyway, now we spray her room at bedtime with monster clown repellent.  And I'm contemplating the need to splash a little holy water around the room too.

Today at the pharmacy, Tater asked, "Why are they wearing those (lab) coats?"  I responded that it was their uniform, and she demanded, "Well, are they going to sing and dance?"

I opened the freezer door, and when Tater felt the blast of icy air, she declared, "Shiver me timbers!"

Spork watched with interest while I planted snapdragons. When Tater came around the corner to see what we were doing, Spork declared, "Mommy pwantin' the fwowers in da ground, because them bored in dat black fing (the black plastic flat). Now dem not bored anymore!"

It is truly magical living with two 4 year olds.  They keep me laughing and looking at the world from their fascinating perspective.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Picnics for T-Ball

We spend 2 days a week at the ballpark during t-ball season.  In the interest of eating healthier and saving money, I have been making a big effort to pack picnics instead of hitting the drive-thru or concession stand.  The kids have been happy with salami, cheese, crackers/bread, and fruit or I switch it up for PB&J.  Here are some salads I've been making for Hubby and me.  Not that the kids aren't welcome to eat the gourmet salads, but the sight of greens makes them run!

Orzo Salad - Hubby's favorite
halved grape tomatoes
1 pack feta
shredded basil
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt & pepper
1T sugar

Autumn Chopped Salad - in any season, this is so, so good.  A crowd pleaser for sure, I like to bring it when I'm feeding groups of women.

Spring Pasta Salad - this was arguably more delicious hot, a little "meh" when chilled.

Lemon Ricotta Chicken Salad

Thai Chicken Salad - best made the night before, as to let the flavors marry and the cook forget the smell of the fish sauce straight out of the bottle.  We can't get the green papaya nor the peppers she mentioned, so I use a big Anaheim pepper and 1T chili garlic sauce to compensate for the loss of spice, still amazingly delicious!

Next up,
Greek Pasta Salad
Layer Salad - for nostalgia and the love of bacon
Caprese Salad - you need a baguette and some good dipping oil to go with it!
SW Chicken Chopped Salad

If you have a favorite salad you think I should take to the ballpark, please put a link in the comments.  I think I need a few more to get through the season without repeats!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Montessori Living

The Nugget is attending a Montessori school, and I'm very thankful for the experience.  I am learning so much, and while it's not the right fit for every family or every child, it feels really great for the Nugget, right now.  Even as a toddler, he had a very strong desire not to be "bossed around" but would happily cooperate and help if he felt like he was part of a team, and I believe Montessori really speaks to that.  I wanted to share some Montessori-style parenting we have adopted for our home.

1. Contracts - When I worked at Extended Day, I noticed the art room had a written contract with the expectations for the room, and each child had signed his or her name on it.  It was posted prominently by the door.  The Nugget and I brainstormed about what the rules and consequences should be, made a contract of outdoor rules and one about screentime rules, had the Nugget, Daddy, and myself sign them, then posted them in the mudroom and right by the TV.  When an issue arises, I gently refer to the contract, and I am no longer the bad guy!

2.  Check-out System - When the students arrive at school, they must give the administrator/guide who is greeting them a firm handshake, eye contact, and a hello.  They do the same when they leave school.  It helps the school keep track of them while also reinforcing valuable communication skills.  We were having trouble with the Nugget slipping off to ride his bike without letting us know, so this summer, we are having him check out with a handshake before leaving the yard/house.

3.  Visual Aids - I actually started these way back in preschool, but they are very Montessori.  The Nugget is a visual learner, so it helps him to have checklists or pictures to remind him what to do.  When we find a situation that is repeatedly difficult for him, I break down the proper procedure into 3 steps, doodle a little representation for each step, laminate the cards, hole punch them, and clip them to whatever will be handiest.  For social conflict at school for example, the cards are clipped to the hem of his shirt and read:

Stop! (with a stop sign)
Talk and Listen (with cartoon word bubbles)
Get help (with smiling teachers)

4.  We are trying to enact family meetings with just the 3 of us for now.  We start with affirmations for each other, then talk about our goals, our problems, and brainstorm solutions.  The first one was a little boring I think, next time I will provide fun snacks!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Things I Learned from my Mom

  Grammy and The Nugget, 2009 (biggest 2yo ever)

10.  Tip generously.
9.  Speak up if a product doesn't perform as advertised!
8. When you have company, hide stuff in your car and the master bedroom.  Oops, was that a family secret?
7. Giving is way more fun than receiving.  And fabric ribbons are way prettier than plastic ones!
6.  Take lots of pictures.
5.  Read to your children.
4.  Hide the good chocolate.
3.  Children need you most when you're in the shower or on the phone.
2. Invest in education...not just for your own children but for the whole community.
1.  When you're feeling low, volunteering makes you feel better.

I love you, Mom!

Grammy and Spork, 2015

Grammy and Tater, 2015

Thursday, May 5, 2016

I'll never look at irises the same way after this...

Tater Thinks Aloud

"In my new bed, there are no monster clowns.  When I had my old bed, sometimes there were monster clowns, but they are gone now."  (Girl has scarier plots than Tim Burton)

T: Do you sleep at work?
D: No I sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s room.
T: Do you cuddle like Santa Claus?
D: What?....
T:Why don’t you sleep in my bed?
D: It’s not big enough.
T: If we had bunk beds we could sleep one on top…and one on the bottom

M: Oh, look at the pretty irises.
T:  Is there diarrhea in them?
M: What?
T:  Is there diarrhea?  In the irises?  Inside them?
M:  No...
T:  Why is there not diarrhea in the irises?
M:  ???
T:  Why don't people poop in the irises?
M:  I'm not sure I have a satisfactory answer for you.

T:  You're a potato!  Mr. Potato.
D:  Ok
T: And I'm a watermelon!  No clapping!  You don't clap, Mr. Potato!

Spork Makes a Tough Decision

I recently got a little special solo time with Spork and treated him to dinner out.  He asked if he could have dessert, but it was getting late.  I said, "Well, you can choose to stay and have ice cream, but you might miss the Nugget's video."  He made an awful strangled sound, like he was making Sophie's Choice, then shouted, "Wideo!  I choose wideo!  Let's go right now!"  He squirmed and whined the whole time I paid and packed up the leftovers, then clambered quickly into his car seat, shouting, "Let's get dis Beaver home!"  I am relieved to report that we made it in time for most of the video in question.

The Nugget, on Marriage

The Nugget declared that Pinto and Giraffe got married last night.  I congratulated them and asked if they were taking a honeymoon.  He replied, "Yes they are!  In my bed!"

The Nugget has been telling me for about 2 months now that when he grows up, he does not wish to get married nor have children.  "I want to live alone in a hotel and have adventures.  I want to fly to a new city on my private jet every day.  I probably shouldn't have pets either because I wouldn't have time to take care of them."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Watch out for wedgeables

We were enjoying chicken chili one evening, when Spork spied that Daddy's bowl had cilantro in it.  He shouted, "Daddy!  Dere some gween stuff hidin' under your chips!"  Daddy reassured him that he wanted the cilantro, but he continued to eyeball it suspiciously and then double checked his own soup to make sure I hadn't snuck any "wedgeables" into his.

Spork started t-ball this week and is very delighted with his new sport.  I warned him there would be quite a lot of waiting for his turn, but he did really well with patience and personal space and seems to have a good arm on him.  I worried that Tater and the Nugget might feel regret about not choosing to play but they were blissfully happy spectators from the comfort of the playground.  Of course, the first day was in the 60's and sunny; we will likely all have different feelings when the temp creeps over 80, it's past everyone's bedtime, and we're at the ballpark for the 25th time.  But for now, t-ball is a win all around!

At parent-teacher conferences, Spork was described as, "Couldn't get more creative if he tried."  He spends most of his school hours in dramatic play, and when the teacher brought a leopard print jumpsuit with shiny pants and fur cuffs, he immediately put it on and said, "Miss L, this so beautiful.  And I'm so beautiful."  He is doing so well, and I am so grateful for his teachers.

I have been making more of a mindful effort to tell Spork that I love him often.  I'm in a constant state of driving, food prep, cleaning, and laundry, I realized that I am not getting those important words out to the kids nearly enough.  Anyway, I guess it's overrated, because Spork sighs and replies, "Mommy, I don't like that."  Ornery boy!

The Nugget is rocketing through 2nd grade.  He was recently bold enough to tap dance in front of the school for Open Mic!  He can't wait for his tap recital and choir concert.  When Tater said, "I don't think I would want to go up there (on stage)," the Nugget replied, "Oh, you would be nervous but I think you might find after your first performance, you become addicted to the stage!" 

Tater has a new bedtime routine with Daddy.  She has him give her a Hippo Kiss, a Giraffe Kiss, and now a Gorilla Kiss.  She came up with the silly sounds and gestures that go with each one, and she goes to sleep with a giggle on her lips.  She and Spork swapped early bird shifts this year, and now she is the first child down the stairs.  She was sneaking down like a ninja, helping herself to yogurt and entertaining herself silently for months.  Now that the sunshine is up with her, she tiptoes downstairs, then starts belting out the Notre Dame Victory March at 6:30am.  Go Irish!

Tater and Spork came out to dinner at a local pizza parlor, and they were amazed when the server set down the double decker pizza tower at the table.  Tater exclaimed, "Oh! My! Gosh!" in the loudest cutest voice, that everyone laughed and turned around to see her face and the server mused that they should put the two of them in a commercial for the restaurant.

Tater is starting to have definite opinions about fashion.  She likes to go through at least 2 wardrobe changes a day, which is wreaking havoc with the laundry.  At least her clothes are tiny.  She likes to know the history of each piece, "Who buyed me this shirt, Mommy?"  She is very proud to wear cousin Cabbage's hand-me downs and a few special pieces from big brothers too, but also gets an awed look when she finds something that Grammy or I bought just for her!  

At parent-teacher conferences, she was described as kind, friendly, helpful, and spunky!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spring Break with the Nugget

Tater and Spork's school stays open, but the Nugget and I got to take a weeklong spring break.  The budget was tight, so we managed some frugal fun!

Day 1: Playdate and homemade cookies!  I got so much accomplished while the Nugget had a friend over to play.  It was great to hear the sounds of Playmobil, Pokemon, and air hockey while I scrubbed the bathroom and returned phone calls.

Day 2: Roadtrip!  We checked out this great new indoor playspace with Aunt A and Gramsie.  It had an amazing 3 story playscape that made photos nearly impossible as the children rocketed through the obstacle course behind mesh panels, but I caught some cute b-ball shots! Yummy lunch at Tom + Chee, some downtime at Aunt A's park, and back home.

Day 3: Rainy day fun!  Lazy breakfast, painting project ($3 kit from Target dollar spot), lunch date, bowling!  We get free bowling passes when our kids attend birthday parties at the local alley - what a deal!  Do your kids always beg to waste your money for arcade games?  I put them in the category of, "You can, but you have to spend your own money." 

Day 4: The Nugget's buddy D took him to Sky Zone, then he had choir in the afternoon.

Day 5: Ag Days with old friends Nucas and Dawa, K&K. "Just like olden times," we mamas joke.  It was kind of a bizarre flashback for me, since the little ones were still in school.

Day 6:  Lowe's birdfeeder workshop!  If you haven't heard about these, both Lowe's and Home Depot offer free children's workshops, and we love them.  I used to help the Nugget hold the hammer and now he can unwrap the kit and assemble on his own.  Tater and Spork got their turn at Ag Days in the afternoon while Daddy and the Nugget did Snap Circuits at home.