Sunday, February 27, 2011

Love and Hate

The Nugget is a passionate child, and has already formed some love/hate relationships. You just never know what side of the coin will land.

Bathtime - right now, tubby time is in the Nugget's good graces, thanks to the Nearly No Christmas scene with Santa enjoying a bubble bath. But we have had phases where we've had to drag him kicking and screaming to the tub and wash quickly! Miss L gave us the most genius suggestion - calling a dry washcloth an "umbrella" and letting him hold it over his face during the hair rinse.

Doggie - He refuses to acknowledge that she's his friend or part of our family. "No, she is NOT a good guh-rul," is a frequent complaint. But when he's not chasing her with his grocery cart or being reprimanded for poking her feet, he's cuddling up to her, giving her kisses and hugs, and attuned to her every desire. "Doggie wants more dinner. Doggie needs to go outside and go potty. Doggie wants her bone. We are having a puppy nuzzle nest."

Small dogs - He was once their biggest fan. A dog, only tiny? How amazing! But then he realized that they jump, they're spazzy, they're yippy. And now he wants to be picked up anytime he sees one within sniffing range. He told, Miss L, "Please don't bring Doggie M (chihuahua) here, because he'll touch my toys."

Dinosaurs - Not so long ago, Dinosaur Train was his favorite video, his favorite thing to play, he wanted dinosaur books from the library, and he'd hum the songs daily. Now, he hides his face anytime he sees a dinosaur, and does not even want to discuss them. If he sees a dino, he'll tentatively ask me, "What's that?" but when I confirm it's a dinosaur, he moans, "Noooo, I don't want you to say that." All of his dinosaur toys have been relocated to the basement until he works through this new fear. I can totally relate - I remember my brother and I watched the super-cool and super-terrifying Walking with Dinosaurs. I was fine with them during the day, but I know I made my brother hide his T-Rex model in the dresser before I could fall asleep at night.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas

Enchiladas
1/2 a rotisserie chicken (white and dark meat), shredded
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 can enchilada sauce (we like the Market Pantry red)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
colby-jack cheese

Combine the meat and beans. Lay out one tortilla and scatter the meat-bean mixture and a small handful of cheese evenly in the center. Roll up and place seam side down, in a glass casserole dish. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas. Pour the enchilada sauce over the top of the prepared enchiladas. Top with more shredded cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes if the cheese isn't melted.
Serve with guacamole and sour cream.

Easy French Dip Sandwiches

French Dip - adapted from allrecipes.com
1 pack of sirloin (1 pound makes about 5 sandwiches)
whole wheat crusty rolls (hoagie shaped)
sliced provolone
1 can Campbell's French Onion soup
1 can beef broth
1 can/bottle beer
lite sour cream
butter

Trim the sirloin and place in crockpot. Pour in soup, broth, and beer. Cook on low about 6 hours. Remove meat and let it rest for 5 minutes, then slice against the grain, return to pot.
Split the rolls. Butter one side lightly, place sliced cheese on other side. Toast in oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese is melted. Spread sour cream on the buttered side of the roll. Use tongs to add some sirloin. Cut in half diagonally, so there is a pointy end for easy dipping.
The liquid left in the crockpot becomes the au jus. Ladle out a small dipping bowl for each sandwich.

Chicken Broccoli Divan

I decided to start adding my favorite recipes, so in case the Nugget wants them as an adult, he'll be able to find them easily.

Chicken Broccoli Divan - adapted from Campbell's Soup recipe
1 can Campbell's broccoli cheese soup
1/3 cup milk
2 heads of broccoli, lightly steamed and finely chopped
2 breasts of chicken, diced (I usually use a rotisserie chicken)
3/4 cup shredded cheddar or colby-jack cheese (if you freshly shred a block of cheese, it becomes a million times more delicious)
French's onions or panko breadcrumbs and 1 tbsp butter

Mix soup, milk, broccoli, and chicken, and put in pie plate. Top with shredded cheese. Sprinkle lightly with the onions, or you can use make a light coating of panko on top. If you opt for the panko, dot with butter so they brown nicely. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 minutes more until cheese is bubbly and hot. Serve over brown rice, with salt and pepper. About 4 servings.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Top 10 - Toddler/Preschooler Gear

10. Klean Kanteen with sport cap. The Nugget has had this water bottle since he was about a year old, and I forsee him being able to use it through grade school, because it's not a baby cup. It is indestructible and easy to wash with a bottle brush or in the dishwasher. Store it upright in your diaper bag because it's not leakproof. You can buy a sippy adapter that works with an Avent spout.

9. Inchbug orbit labels. These silicone labels are debossed with your child's name and stretch to fit around bottles and sippy cups. Really great for daycare and playdates, where 2 children might have the same sippy. The silicone also helps young toddlers get a better grip on their cups. Unlike a sticky label, you can pull these off so you can hand that baby bottle down to a little sibling and big kid can move the label to a water bottle.

8. Mabel's Labels. Our preschool requires that each item the child wears/brings to school be labeled. Art supplies, clothes, shoes, outerwear, toiletries, etc. It's really hard and time consuming to hand label with a Sharpie, and sometimes the tags are so tiny that it's physically impossible to get initials on them. Other times, I've found the marker bleeds and you can't read the letters anyway. Or you find out there's another kid with the same initials. We've tested Mabel's Labels and they really stay stuck. Even the clothing labels stay on through many laundry cycles, and the shoe labels stay nicer than the shoes themselves. The only tag that didn't work was on Giraffe, because the Nugget actively picked away at it, trying to restore his friend to her unmarked glory. (Luckily, everyone knows Giraffe and Nugget go together now, so no worries there.)

7. Hanna Andersson Swedish moccasins. The Nugget has really sensitive feet and hates going barefoot. We have hardwood floors, so his slippers need to keep his feet warm in the winter and have nonslip soles. We've tried many brands, but the Nugget loves these the best. They stay on his feet, are warm enough without making him sweat, and have thin soles that let him feel the ground without twisting an ankle. He even likes to wear them to bed, so they must be super comfy. I love their price tag ($12 at the outlet) and the fact that you can toss them in the washer (a must for potty learning).

6. Mrs. Meyer's room freshener. As Bill Cosby said, "God has now put odor in the poo-poo." Many conventional air fresheners are in an aerosol and/or have a lot of nasty chemicals in them - not exactly what you want a child to be inhaling. The Mrs. Meyers formula is a spritz bottle made with essential oils, and the price is right.

5. Travel potty. I've reviewed this before but it had to make the cut. My mom friends saw us pull it out, and everyone wanted one! It folds up into a little briefcase, and takes any gallon size zip bag. We have used it in lieu of scary public restrooms and on roadtrips when there is no pit stop in sight. I carry it to the parks in the summer because you never know if the bathrooms will be locked of if your newly potty-trained kidlet will be able to hold it for a half-mile walk from the playground to the restroom (Whoever designed these parks has not had to shepherd a full-bladdered tot with short legs 800 meters to a toilet. Seriously, I'd put one within spitting distance from the slide. You've got about T-45 seconds from the announcement that pee-pee is coming.) It holds up to 70 pounds, though an older kid will have to do some maneuvering to sit comfortably.

4. Medicine Safe. The Nugget is tall for his age, and now that he can use a stool, there is no such thing as out of reach. I feel so much better knowing that our meds are locked up tight in this box, which takes an adult-sized hand, dexterity, and strength to open (yet is still doable when you're suffering from a migraine). It comes in 2 sizes, and there is another safe available for cleaning supplies.

3. Kneeling pad. I don't know why it took me so long to buy one, but my knees are so much happier when I'm bathing the Nugget now.

2. Peltor headphones. The Nugget has a holy fear of public restrooms. The hand dryers, the auto flush, and the strangers talking and flushing just add up to a sensory nightmare for him. Grammy saved the day with these headphones that she'd originally bought for parades and fireworks. We keep them in the diaper bag now, and with his Peltors on, the Nugget is confidently conquering his fear and now wants to explore every public restroom he finds. He also uses them when the dog goes ballistic for the mailman, and they can be used for dress up too (air traffic controller, pilot).

1. Laptop lunch bento set. I scored one at a secondhand sale. Don't bother buying the insulated lunchbag that goes with it, it fits perfectly into most rectangular soft-sided bags. It is four containers in one that keeps a kids' lunch neat (no smashed sandwiches), allows you to pack a waste-free lunch, and it's very compact. If I tried to stack four separate lidded containers, it would never fit into the Nugget's lunchbox, but this does the trick.

P.S. Nugget here. Mommy forgot Twilight Turtle, and that turtle is my favorite. You can pick the color (I always pick purple, because that purple is my favorite). She likes that it has batteries instead of a plug (not sure why she doesn't like me experimenting with those plugs and shiny lightbulbs, they are really fun) and that I haven't figured out how to take the batteries out (yet). I like that he shines stars and a moon on my ceiling, and he watches me go to the potty in the morning. He doesn't open his eyes though, because he's sleeping. Why? There's a ladybug too, but I don't have that ladybug, I have that turtle.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Eyes on your own paper

We've made it past the 2 month mark of our latest disruption. We are practically to the 2 year mark of when we entered the pool for this child. An elephant's gestation period.

The bitterness comes quickly and easily when I allow myself to sneak a peek at others' lives. Lives that seem easy and effortless to me, where children come not only when wanted but whose arrivals can actually be planned down to the month or date. Where pregnancy is a time when they are surrounded by joy and excitement, and a healthy baby on a deadline seems a given. When I compare myself to others, I find myself asking, "Why?" and wondering if our repeated losses are some sort of punishment.

When I remind myself to "keep my eyes on my own paper", my outlook brightens. Though building our family is harder than I ever could have imagined, we are blessed in so many ways. I am chiseling away at the roadblocks between us and the child who will complete our family. I am opening every gate possible. When I focus my energy on doing what I can to bring our child home and filling up our Nugget with love, I feel like I can take this.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Adjectives and the Color Purple


The Nugget has a wealth of adjectives that sound really cute when he says them. When he uses then about something mundane, it just adds to the entertainment value. Amazing! Glorious! Really neat! (bonus because it sounds like really sounds like "weh-wee") Spiffy!

Like when he finished folding a clean napkin:
"Fantastic!"

Or when he unbuckled his seatbelt:
"That's pretty cool!"
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The Nugget likes to inform us, "That purple is my favorite," anytime he sees anything purple. His teachers say that on the days he wears purple to school, he informs each friend and teacher that he's wearing purple and that purple is his favorite.
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In the photos above, the Nugget is "being a doggie." He informed Miss L that when he gets older, he's going to be a girl, then he's going to be a doggie. I don't have the heart to tell him that's not how it works.

"Friendship" Day




I alluded to the fact that the Nugget would be celebrating "Friendship Day" but not Valentine's Day at preschool. Well, it turns out that it's simply semantics, and late last week, we received an email requesting that children bring in "friendship cards" to exchange with the class and that parents could sign up to bring in paper goods or snacks. Ha!

So this weekend, the Nugget and I created some simple wax paper hearts. There are tutorials all over the web on how to do this, but basically you take a sheet of wax paper, sprinkle half of it with crayon shavings (simply sharpen dull crayons over the wax paper), fold it in half like a quesadilla, and iron it on medium heat between sheets of kraft paper. It felt like we had to cover the sheet in a monolayer of crayon shavings, but I'd recommend leaving blank spaces. As they melted, they spread a lot, and we had melty crayon leaking out of the wax paper. After it cooled, I cut them into hearts, hole punched them, and tied a ribbon to create an ornament. I realized later that the teachers requested that each "friendship card" be signed, so I then created makeshift envelopes for each heart out of construction paper. They are not precise,
just hand cut strips of paper, folded and glued. I made each to custom fit a matching heart, and since they ended up peeking out of the envelopes, the tagline was obvious.

The final photos (then we're done with V-Day for this year, I swear!) were of a craft I've been wanting to do forever! I can't remember where I saw it, maybe Martha Stewart from years ago...but I saved a jelly jar, set it inside a Dollar Tree glass vase, and filled the in-between space with sugar hearts. Today I went to the local flower shop to pick up some Gerbera daisies (check your Entertainment books/Value Checks, because florist coupons are often in the back), and finished it off with a tag for the Nugget's sitter. You could use the same concept with any small items, like colored beads (maybe in school colors for a sports banquet) or pebbles.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Treats



Valentine's Day is much more fun with kids. It's a fun little distraction when the Christmas excitement is long over but spring seems too far away. Also, it's a holiday where gifts aren't expected (except from your sig oth), so it's super fun to surprise some special people in your life. So here's a late gift guide!

I love this ASL teether in lieu of a Baby's First Valentine's Day onesie. It will last forever and will even look sweet propped on a shelf after all those teeth have arrived.

Babylegs make a great gift for a baby or toddler. The Nugget still wears his when we need add long sleeves to a t-shirt or want an extra layer under snowpants. Flames or hearts are equally festive, yet will be wearable all year long.

Japanese stationery is so fun! Little kids will create pretend letters or teach your favorite tween how to enjoy snail mail and include a book of postage stamps and a ride to the post office so he/she can proudly dump them in the mail slot.

A handmade address stamp would be perfect for a February wedding gift, especially if the lovebirds are moving into a new home. I have this one for our family, and can vouch for her beautiful creations and customer service (the first version she sent had a typo, but she corrected it asap).

The Nugget gets a book and a mylar balloon (Dollar Tree!) from us for Valentine's Day. Last year, we gave him Henry in Love. This year, it's Love, Splat. I meant to stop there, but I spied the cutest mini mailboxes in the Target Dollar Spot, so I filled one with a pair of red and purple heart socks and a sheet of shiny vehicle stickers.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Proving ourselves fit parents since 2006

Completed:
1. 2 foster care training classes (2 more to go).
2. 3/4 of the foster care paperwork application (including a 12 page essay).
3. My physical, drug test, and TB test. (Will pick up paperwork on Monday).

I shared a FB status that said, "Proving myself a fit parent since 2006," and got so many comments/questions about it, I thought I'd use it for a blog post. It's something people ask us about frequently and are typically shocked to realize that we still have to go through the process for each child, nay, each year. In addition, most of our adoption hoops are not transferring over to the foster parent hoops, so we're kind of bopping back and forth between the 2 tracks.

It's easy to let myself feel bitter and jealous about what we have to prove and what bio parents can take for granted. It's easy to feel embarrassed or violated when I have to get my fingerprints taken like a criminal or submit to a house inspection. But at the same time, I feel like it's a blessing in disguise, because the essays we've had to write and all the reflection we've had to do to come up with a "parenting and discipline strategy", many months pre-Nugget, has really paid off; not that we are perfect parents by a long shot, but that we are mindful parents, trained to look not only at short-term good behavior but forced to consider the big picture. Sometimes I wonder why bio families aren't also required to get training for the transition to parenting.

I think adoptive parents have the burden/blessing of feeling constantly "watched" and we can let that irritate the heck out of us, or we can channel it into becoming the best versions of ourselves, the best parents we can be.

I know too, that trusting even an experienced babysitter to watch our dear Nugget for the first time was terrifying, and I can only imagine and hope that the background checks ease a few butterflies of birthfamilies when they entrust or consider entrusting their little ones to us.

Valentine's Day Party 2011





We had our annual Valentine's party with the Mom's Meetup group. In a super-awesome brain fart, I forgot to check my calendar and first took the Nugget to the wrong library branch...way across town. By the time we arrived, the party was well underway. The Nugget is a slow-to-warm up child, and the party was double the size of our usual playgroups, so it was at first horrifying to him. Until he realized there was candy and cookies to be had. And his buddy D snuck up behind him and gave him a gentle "surprise poke". She always knows how to cheer him up.

D is almost exactly one month older than the Nugget, and he adores her. I thought these pictures really captured their personalities and the goofiness that ensues when they're together. D's mom has a blog here; she is one of the co-masterminds behind all our moms' group fun.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Such a gentleman

The Nugget had some great one-liners when we went to dinner at Houlihan's with Grammy and Grandpa.

N: Grammy, I have an idea!
G: Yes? What is it?
N: Um, we could stay here for 20 years.

Then, the Nugget ran into his sitter, Miss L and her boyfriend A, while going to the restroom with Daddy. He eagerly led them back to the table so Miss L could meet Grammy and Grandpa. Pleasantries were exchanged, then the Nugget offered her a beverage.

N: Miss L, would you like some wine? (complete with Vanna White hand gesture, from Daddy's wine glass to Miss L)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

TV talk

The Nugget is at the precious age where he verbally responds to questions posed by TV characters. Before, he would just sit there in gape-jawed fascination. And soon he'll realize the characters can't really hear him. But right now, I'm listening to him have a conversation with Blue.

"Blue, I went there this last day!"

"Yeah! I do."

"Right there! There's the key, on top of the glacier!"

"Um, when I grow up, I'd like to be a doggie."

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This last day

A new, oft-used phrase in the Nugget vernacular is "this last day". It sometimes means yesterday, but can also mean last week, last month, last year....or 3 minutes ago. I like it - it lends some drama to everyday reminiscing. Sounds very biblical.

"Remember when we saw the cars get broke when we went to Grammy and Grandpa's house this last day?"

"Remember when I wore that sweater this last day?"

"Did we see the clock this last day?"
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The Nugget developed a new playing-pretend game this last day. You know, some kids play cops and robbers, others play waiter and diner. Well, the Nugget is quite the laundry enthusiast, so...

He laced his fingers together and held his arms rounded and in front of him, like a ballet dancer. Then he swung his circle side to side, making a "Chh-chchchchch," sound. He exclaimed, "Mommy, I am being the agitator, you be the clothes." Then he coached me until I gave a satisfyingly floppy-dirty-clothes-in-the-washing-machine mime. It took a few tries, but I think I have it down now.
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The Nugget takes it upon himself to provide us with toys, books, and lovies. It is so sweet, you just have to enjoy the moment and try not to dwell on how/when you will pick up the mountain of toys growing at your feet.

"I'm gonna read you a story, Daddy." (pictured)

"I'm going to bring you a lovey. 2 lovies. Lots and lots and lots. Wanna hug them?"

And my personal favorite...
"I'm going to give you a (Rubix) cube. One for Mommy. One for Daddy. And one for me!"
Yes, Hubby keeps 3 Rubix cubes in our nightstand drawer. They have all been solved repeatedly.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

3.5

The Stats:
46 pounds
3'7"
Size 5/6
Shoe size 29EU/12.5US

Top 10 Challenges of 3.5
10. According to the parenting books, a child's energy peaks at 3.5. Well, I sure hope they're right, because it's very hard to imagine you getting more energetic. You are like a whirling dervish, and we have to "run you" like a skittish Thoroughbred lest you destroy our furniture and our sanity.
9. There is an awful lot of foot-stomping when you don't get your way.
8. You are starting to say embarrassing stuff now. Like, "That lady has funny hair." Once, you pointed to a woman wearing a neck brace and repeatedly whimpered, "I want her to take that off." I tried explaining why it wasn't polite to stare and that she needed that to help her neck heal, but you only got more insistent.
7. You often refuse to talk on the phone, and the hopeful grandparent on the other end sometimes hears, "I don't WANT to talk right now." Of course, the second we hang up, you are begging for the phone or sneaking Daddy's cell out of his pocket.
6. You have perfected your stalling and bargaining tactics. When we say you need some Nugget time in your room, you immediately snap to attention. With puppy-dog eyes and batting lashes, you turn on the charm and say, "I'm making happy choices now, so I can stay downstairs." You also know that Daddy's the "nicer" parent and already asking him for favors when I've said no.
5. You take everything very literally and seriously. When I made you a card with hearts dropping from a cloud, you got very upset, because, "Hearts don't fall from the sky, Mommy. Only rain."
4. You know the anatomical differences between girls and boys. And like to discuss them in public. And like to ask people if they have a penis. Fun and embarrassment for all!
3. You refuse even things you want, just so you can say no and assert your will.
2. You've learned how to slam doors to get your point across.
1. You can move furniture. You moved your bed until we glued it down with 3M mounting squares, you frequently slide the table during dinner, sometimes I come out of the bathroom to see you rearranging the couches. Arrgh, how it pushes my buttons!

Top 10 things I love about 3.5
10. You give me "a hug and then a squeeze". You used to lean in passively and hug by offering your body to us. Now we get your sweet strong arms wrapped around us, and it feels like heaven.
9. You say, "I love....YOU!" With a finger point right to the chest. We say it to each other over and over until you collapse in fits of giggles. Best game ever.
8. You sing. All the time. Real songs, real lyrics. Sometimes mistaken lyrics which are even funnier than the real ones. Sometimes in a whisper, sometimes belted out like you're performing on Broadway and your mic's broken.
7. You pretend that you're not going to smile. But our Mr. Funny Business can only last about 5 seconds before your great cheesy grin busts through your faux stoicism.
6. You give your toys voices. Giraffe has a teeny high-pitched voice.
5. You exclaim over cute things the way I do. With the same pitch and tone. "Oh! It's chubby! It's little! Aww!"
4. When Daddy gets home, you eagerly charge him and ask, "Did you bring any stinky Daddy clothes?" And when Daddy pulls the plastic baggie full of sweaty gym wear out of his backpack, you jump up and down with glee and inhale. Then you always ask if I want to smell them too.
3. When I tell you what we're going to do in the mornings, you often grin and say, "I'm so excited to do that!" And you bounce and vibrate.
2. You take your "naps" downstairs now, on the loveseat. You read books, watch me work on a scrapbook or take phone calls, and play with quiet toys. You take your own bathroom breaks. It's such a peaceful time where we're together yet doing our own things, and it's so pleasant.
1. It was about this time last year that you were kicking babies and shoving your playmates just to see what would happen. Now, it's such a joy to watch you go up to a friend and ask if he wants to play. Or be ready with a "trade" for the toy you want. Often during a playdate I'll see you holding hands with a friend or giving a hug.