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."