Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Nugget Quotes


N:  Mama, Daddy, close your eyes.  I'm going to get my pajamas on all by myself and surprise you!
M:  Ooo, I am going to be surprised!
N:  Yes, and I will be so pwoud of myself.

N:  Daddy, are you going to have a good sleep?
D:  Yes, are you?
N:  No, I'm going to stay wide awake all night long.

N:  Whoa, look at that very fancy truck.
M:  Yes, I see it!
N:  That's tight.
(Where in the heck did he learn that?!)

M:  Remember that you will need to take turns and share all the toys at school.
N:  Yes, but if I see a friend who's going to play with my best toy, I will run super duper really fast and get it first.  Then I won't have to grab it.

Scout:  I want it to eat chocolate.  That's my favorite food.
N:  Scout, chocolate is not a food.  It's a dessert, and you can't have it all the time.

N:  Mama, I was thinking that today we could go somewhere.
M:  Well, today, you get to go to school!
N:  Oh!  I am going to be very pleased!

Every night at dinner since our trip to OH, the Nugget says,
"And I'm thankful that we're going to see Baby Cabbage next time."

After tuck-in, we head downstairs and the Nugget usually yells, "Sweet dreams!  See you next time!"  Tonight, he added, "Good luck!"

Pictured:
"Look, I am the most ginormous butterfly I ever saw."

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quiet Bag

I always love hearing what other parents put in their child's "quiet bag".  You know, the bag of toys you pack for church, restaurants, doctor's offices, or visiting a parent at work, baby sib's nap/nursing time, etc.

I have a really funny quiet bag story from my own childhood.  My mom got me these mini saint books with pretty watercolor illustrations for my quiet bag.  I don't think she read them or she assumed that at 4-6, I wouldn't be reading, I'd just be admiring the pictures.  Well, I was an early reader, and the books weren't just saint books.  They were martyr stories, with deaths recorded in gruesome detail!  So as a 5yo girl in church, I would read them and mull over my death options.  Would I prefer to go with a swift beheading?  Or maybe eaten by lions.  I drew the line at burning at the stake.  Imagine my relief and surprise when I found out that modern Christians were typically not required to die violently.  Love you, Mom!

I rotate the contents of the Nugget's quiet bag, but here's a few rotations worth, minus the nightmare-inducing books.  I combine 2-3 rotations when I know it will be a marathon event like a wedding or waiting in line at the health department for a flu shot!  Tell me, what's in your kid's quiet bag?
Rotation 1:
stickers
mini notebook
Silly Putty
Schleich animals
Color Wonder markers and book

Rotation 2:
plush lovey friend
crayons and coloring book
pipe cleaners

Rotation 3:
Matchbox car or airplane
mini photo album
Spirograph set
return address labels
sheet of construction paper

Rotation 4:
book
Wikki Stix
lacing cards

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fruit




I am like a broken record with the fruit farms, right?  Can't help it, maybe I was a farmer or a fruit picker in a past life.  It is my favorite kind of exercise.  We trekked out to another local orchard this weekend for Redhaven peaches, and came home with apples and blackberries too.

We had to stop for lunch on the way home but hadn't pre-mapped out family-friendly restaurants.  We took a gamble and just slowed down when we came to the closest town's main drag and spied a little soda shop.  It was an absolute treasure - popcorn and water beat our menus to the table, our delicious panini sandwiches were wrapped in parchment paper and  delivered in tin lunchboxes, and we picked out single scoop ice cream cones, all under $25.

I've got a peach pie in the fridge (although I'm tempted to call it the ice box when it is holding a pie...it feels so Laura Ingalls Wilder) and applesauce cooling on the stove.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day




The sun is dialing its rays back from "intense" to "golden".  Autumn is coming, I can feel it in the air.  The Nugget has come skipping downstairs fully dressed and ready for his day for the past couple mornings.  He is working on buckling his own seatbelt in the car these days too.

Today, he hefted his little backpack on his shoulders, and with a wink, he was in the car.  He entered the school building with confidence - pressing the call button and laughing at the "clunk" of the door unlocking instead of covering his ears with dread.  He waved to Ms. H at the front desk and twirled to show her his backpack instead of hiding behind my back.

But when we entered the classroom full of boisterous classmates to unload his fresh art supplies into his art box, little octopus arms wound tight around me.  Still attached, we went over to the fish tank, where we counted his new class pets, and friends came over to debate with us whether or not there was a fourth fish hiding in the cave.  The octo grip slackened, then transferred to Llama.  I asked him if he wanted a kiss in his hand like we did last year, but today he preferred one kiss deposited in each of his pockets, then he was off to line up with the children to go outside.  He didn't look back.

After I left the school, I started my fall routine.  A 2 mile walk on campus, some errands to the store and library, and home again to create something for my boys to eat tonight and upload pictures from my camera.  My car felt quiet, and my arms felt empty carrying only what I needed, no wipe-o's for sticky fingers, no headphones for public restrooms, no snacks.  The emptiness felt a little traumatic at first, like part of my own body had been severed.  Then it felt a little like freedom, as I slipped quickly back into efficiency:  workout, errands, housekeeping.  It's a little of both, I suppose, and I am thankful that this "letting go" business of parenthood happens gradually.

While walking around campus today, I spied some parents depositing their big boys and girls for their new school year.  I wondered if it seemed to them that their teens gamboling and flirting on the manicured quads were just yesterday wide-eyed, octopus-armed preschoolers transferring chunky crayons into their art cubbies.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Prelude to a school year


The Nugget starts school on Monday.  On Friday, the school hosted an open house; an opportunity for the children to meet their new teachers and explore their new classrooms.  The Nugget will be in the 4's room, and all 3 of the teachers have been guiding preschoolers for 15 years or more.  These are unflappable women full of enthusiasm and calm.  They had a scavenger hunt prepared with sticker stations, so that each child would seek out different features of the room, like the art cubbies, the lockers, and the all-important restroom.  The children decorated paper name plates and picked out their own special square on the "art gallery" bulletin board and watched with awe as Miss L stapled their creation to their chosen square.  We stocked the Nugget's locker with back-up clothing and delivered his pillow and blanket.  The Nugget proudly handed over the pictures he'd chosen - one of himself for his locker, and one of our family for the family board.  He discovered heavy bins of well-loved die-cast vehicles and  sorted through them reverently, pausing to show us or one of the teachers a "very special" truck or helicopter.  He was thrilled to see his friend J, and the boys reunited with giggles, tickles, and a shared mission of racing cars down a plastic ramp.

The Nugget has been preparing at home by watching Mister Rogers' Going to School and reading Llama Llama Misses Mama.  Last year, he handled weeks 1 and 2 so easily that I don't even think he noticed I was gone.  The rest of the year was met with ambivalence - he moaned that he didn't want to go to school every day, was clingy at drop-off with occasional tears.  At the end of each day we got this glowing report from his teachers, and Daddy practically had to drag him out the door.  This year, he boasts, "I'm not going to be sad or scared.  I'm not going to miss you, because I know Daddy is coming to pick me up.  I'm going to help other friends who are sad.  I'm going to give them a toy, and that will make them happy!" This year, he said he said he doesn't need Bedtime Giraffe, but that he will bring Llama instead.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Summer's End


I smell like chlorine, and there is Play-Doh under my fingernails.  I have 4 woodland creature stickers on my shoulder and arm.  It's been a good day with the Nugget, and the listening fish jar is practically full.  August is fickle; she seems to welcome you with the promise of weeks left before school, then she snatches them away.  August chokes us with heat and humidity so thick you feel like you're swimming through the air, then treats us to the first whispers of autumn.  She is summer's end, get it while you can.

This week, I've tried to memorize the hollow thump of his red playground ball, the way his curls tighten against the back of his neck when he's sweating, the way he flops on his back and flips his feet all the way up over his head the second his bottom hits couch.  The way he tap dances, his torso loose and relaxed, his arms gesturing wildly, his feet stomping out a rhythm like he already knows the steps.  His nervous laughter as he pedals his big boy bike, equal parts terrified and delighted.  His sweet little boy's voice telling us such gems as,

"I teached you how to swim!  You did a good job.  But I am tired from teaching you, because it was a lot of work."

"Llama, when my jar is full of listening fish, I get to go to a place that has pancakes.  It's called Bob, Evans."

The way he marvels with hyperbole about the littlest things,

"This is the most tallest tree I have ever seen!"

The way he encourages us to try new things, the same way we encourage him to just try a bite of casserole.  "Daddy, let's go talk to Neighbor G!  Let's ask him how his day was!"  "Mommy, let me show you how to hit a baseball.  I know you can do it!"

I am coming to peace with our family just as it is.  I am no less a mother than one blessed with 2, 3, or 6 children (although I'm getting more sleep and food than they are).  I'm not saying we're done...just that I have finally found peace and contentment here, and that's worth celebrating.  I have finally learned how to live in the moment, and maybe that's what our trials were all about.

It's not that I would go back and do anything differently with the Nugget as a baby or a toddler, it's just that I wasn't emotionally prepared to wave goodbye to those chapters of life, those stages of growth.  I thought I'd get a chance for a "do-over".  That I'd surely get to revisit those challenges and treats with more calm and wisdom.  Now I feel like I'm more present for this age, because maybe, possibly, likely it's the last time I'll ever get to be mommy to a 4 year old.  The enthusiasm, the anger at being told he's not quite as big as he thinks he is, the giddiness...I can marvel at these little grains of time as they sift through my fingers.  And the truth is, I should have been doing this all along, because even if I did get to visit the ages and stages all over again, it wouldn't be with the Nugget.

Bags are packed in our front hallway, full of Kleenex, naptime essentials, and a current photo to tape to the Nugget's locker, reminders of what's to come.  The Nugget pages through albums of what's behind us, adding his own perspective and blurring the tense, "Mama, when I was a baby, I will be able to talk.  When I was a baby, I don't like peas."




Saturday, August 13, 2011

Milestone


The Nugget drew his very first stick figures this week, totally unassisted and without any prompting but that of his inner artistic spirit.  They are Mr. Rogers (in white) and Miss Maggie (in blue).   Not sure if the spots are neckties, necklaces, dog tag, or belly buttons.

These are a few of my favorite things


Nugget here.  Mommy wanted me to log some of my favorite/un-favorite things, so she can remember what I was like at 4.  Parents, they can't remember anything!

My favorites:
Song - Till the World Ends by Britney Spears, but anything by Britney, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry are a sure hit with me.
CD - Sesame Street Silly Songs
Foods - Arthur macaroni (I call it, "The Faces"), pears, peaches, raspberries, corn dogs, string cheese, yogurt, ham, bacon
At the park - teeter totter
Animals - giraffes, pandas, flamingos, and zebras
Color - purple, of course!  But I like all the colors of the rainbow too.
Video - changes practically every day, but I have recently discovered Yo Gabba Gabba, Mister Rogers, and Reading Rainbow
Book - the Llama Llama series
To do - playing with my friends, playing guitar with Daddy, tap dancing, riding bikes
Clothes - my helicopter underpants, my purple peace sign shirt, wearing shirts that match Daddy's
Vehicles - any
Having my fingernails clipped

I do not like
Foods - potatoes, lettuce, parsley, cilantro
Animals - most bugs (but I like butterflies, dragonflies, caterpillars, and ladybugs)
Saying goodbye.  Sometimes I will even pout and turn away so I don't have to say it.
Clothes - shirts with graphics on the back, because I like to see the pictures
Getting splashed, especially in the face
Auto flush toilets
Hair cuts
Having my toenails clipped
Getting my hands sticky - I want them wiped right away when that happens.
When Mommy and Daddy say I'm not old enough to do something, like chop with a sharp knife or drive the car.  I'm very tall, so I think I should qualify.
When Mommy won't let me listen to the Katy Perry Alien song.  Something about words she doesn't want me repeating or silliness like that.



Friday, August 12, 2011

Hummus

Hubby eats hummus for second dinner every night.   I should have bought stock in Sabra, because he was snarfing a family-sized tub each week.  Finally, I decided that I had to try making our own, for the sake of our budget.  It took a few experiments, but here is the winning recipe.  My friend K tipped me off to a Middle Eastern grocery shop that has the best deal on large jars of tahini.  The rest of the ingredients are practically chump change.

Hummus
1 can La Preferida chickpeas (this brand was the key to winning over Hubby's taste buds)
1/3 c tahini
15 twists of sea salt
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c water
4 T garlic

Drain and rinse chickpeas.  Stir tahini in the jar before measuring.  Combine tahini, chickpeas, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic in the food processor.  Slowly stream in the oil, then the water, until smooth and creamy.  Store in fridge for about a week.  Enjoy with carrots, cucumbers, pita chips, or tortilla chips.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Incentive Program


We rolled out a new incentive program this week.  The Nugget gets to add one fish to the jar each time we catch him listening.  When it's full, he gets to have dinner out at the restaurant of his choice.  It is working so far.  Often, when I find he's getting out of hand, I realize we've been concentrating too hard on what he's doing wrong and ignoring what he's doing right.


This weekend, I heard a commercial about a classic car show just down the street.  Hubby and I are both planners, so we don't often make it to last-minute events.  But this time, I called Hubby the second after the radio commercial ended and asked if he could take the Nugget while I was grocery shopping. I met the boys after I tucked the groceries in the fridge and found them munching pizza.  The Nugget eagerly told me about fan belts and couldn't wait to point out his favorite car to me.  He wandered the lot slowly, with his hands on hips, thoughtfully assessing each car.  He waited in line for a balloon giraffe but decided at the last minute to get a ladybug that fit on his wrist, just like the girl in front of him.  He wore it gleefully and when we got home, he gave the ladybug a tour of the house, then held his hand up awkwardly so she could see the tv while he watched Mister Rogers.  Sometimes spontaneity has its rewards!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Natural Bug Repellent Reviews - Group 2

As promised, I tried a couple more natural insect repellents on myself and the Nugget.  Go here for Group 1.  Here's our feedback.

California Baby - At a little over $13 for a bottle, this was the most expensive brand we sampled.  I had a heck of a time getting ahold of it, as it always seemed to be sold out through my favorite vendors.  Now that it's in-hand, it might be my favorite.  You shake the bottle, then it sprays gently into your hands.  The spray top has a twist lock, so you could lock it and feel comfortable with it being in your bag.  It feels like water, dries on the skin immediately, and smells very light.  I think its protection is comparable to the Burt's Bees - a bite or two per outing.

Badger Anti-Bug Balm - Out of all the brands we tested, this one was by far the most effective.  We didn't get a single bite when we wore this.  Per ounce, it might be the most expensive, but it's in a very different format so I'm not positive how long it will last vs. the others.  It is basically like a giant stick of lip balm - it's a waxy solid that you apply to your skin, then rub.  This makes it great for the Nugget's face, because it can't possibly drip into his eyes.  However, if you don't have it cranked up just right, the plastic edges of the tube rub your skin a little - no biggie for the adult, major drama for a preschooler.  The scent is different than the rest - more cedar than lemongrass/citronella.  I felt very confident about having this one in my bag, and it would be super for travel - no leaks possible.  Even on very hot days (I'm talking in the car during a heat advisory), the balm did not liquify.

Both Badger and California Baby make genius combo Sunscreen/Bug Repellent products...maybe we will test them next summer!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Buddy the Elf


After swim lessons, the Nugget sits on the steps outside to have a little snack.  He loves to wave bye to all the other friends as they are leaving, and he also yells, "Hello!" to any college students lucky enough to be within hearing range.  Most are good sports and reply instead of ignoring him.  Today, he spotted 2 boys and yelled, "Hi!  What's your favorite color?"

We see trucks with the name "K-" plastered on the side in giant letters.  The Nugget has a friend with the same name, and when he first saw the truck, he asked what it said.  When I replied, he exclaimed, "It's full of K's!" In the way a milk truck is full of milk, or a Lay's truck is full of chips.  Today, he decided that it couldn't really be full of K's, because there's only one of her.  Instead, he mused, "It's probably full of toy K's.  They are little, and you shake them to turn her on and off.  Usually toys have buttons, but she doesn't.  But at night time, she starts talking to you all by herself.  She says, 'How are you feeling?'"

Quick quote:
"My favorite grain is sweet grain.  It's a kind of grain that we get from combines.  It tastes like chocolate, and it comes from corn."