Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Think inside the (bento) box

My bento boxes came! They are so cute! I love the size- just right for a child's lunch. I was a little disappointed that the lids don't snap on tight. If they got bumped too much, they would come apart. They do sell a little strap that you can put around them, but it seems like they should just be able to make the lid fit tight! But overall I am really happy with them! And Abigail is very excited. She has been trying to play with them all week. And I totally love the little bag to carry it in.

The top says: Happy fruits is very delicious. I will eat this and will become fortunate all together! (I think it is so cute!)


Abigail got a wrap sandwich (tortilla, cream cheese, ham, cheese, lettuce), cucumbers cut out with a leaf cookie cutter, asparagus sprigs, orange slices, grapes, and some ginger snap cookies.



Kydon got leftover quesadillas from dinner, some cucumber slices, 2 asparagus sprigs, and some heart shaped ginger snap cookies.

**I will be posting future bento boxes on my food/recipe/meal plan blog, here. There is also a link on the right**

A thoughtful gift

One of my birthday gifts from Kydon this year was a little unusual....

I don't usually go for the whole 'lets get a Disney movie to celebrate my birthday'. But the *real* gift was time- I had all 3 kids home with me for the day, and he bought me the movie to put on for them in the morning to give me a little break. It was awesome! Good Job!

Also, it has been brought to my attention that everyone in the family has a 'subject tag' for posts except Kydon. So this post will officially kick off his tag! Now I just have to go back in my archives and find the other posts about him to put the tag on.

And today I made a bento box for Kydon's lunch. You know, save money, eat better, that whole thing. :)
Tortilla with garden herb cream cheese, ham, lettuce and cheese, rolled up and sliced, carrots, tomato, a few triscut crackers, and a birthday mini-cupcake.

Monday, September 29, 2008

All that is fine within you


I thoroughly enjoyed attending the women's conference this past weekend (more info here). There was much that was said that really resonated with me, and struck different places in my soul. It was very uplifting, and I left wanting to do more, be better, and try harder.

One phrase in particular really struck me. It was sort-of just said in the middle of a sentence, with no particular importance placed on it, but the phrasing of it was so unusual, and it began to conjure up some images in my head, and I actually spent a lot of time thinking about this one little phrase.

Barbara Thompson said "Rescue all that is fine within you".

I started picturing my creativity and joy drowning in a sea of anger and frustration.

Or my energy and organization stranded on a cliff of procrastination and time-wasting.

Or my faith and hope being suffocated by doubt and fear and worry.

The idea of needing to 'rescue' my finer qualities was quite fascinating to me. Selfishness... laziness... sarcasm... these are not my finer qualities, and I spend far too much time allowing them to surface. I am going to try harder to bring my finer qualities to light, and let my more selfish and lower tendencies die from neglect. What are *your* finer qualities? What is keeping them from shining in your life?

Funny moment recaps

We've had a few funny moments/phrases recently, I thought I would combine them into a post.

Abigail:

We started a carpool for her preschool with another little girl named (of course) Abigail. Our Abigail was trying to explain this phenomenon to Jack and Aidan: "Boys, her name is Abigail, but she doesn't look like me"

We were sitting down at a park, and Jack and Aidan started running toward us. She looked at me and said "Oh no, Mommy- here come the twins!"

I picked her up from preschool. When her teacher put her in the car, she had a funny gleam in her eye. Once the door was shut, she started giggling almost uncontrollably. She almost couldn't tell me about the joke she was playing on me- during their playground time, her and a friend had caught a bug. She held it secretly in her hand the rest of the time (because her teacher would have made her throw it down), and she took a bug into our CAR!!! It was so funny to see how much she was laughing about this little trick! I might have a practical joker in the making! :)

Jack:

Sharing his secret of escape with Abigail. The boys had escaped their church class (hello- teacher-what the heck? But that is a different post) and went outside to play. Abigail was quite fascinated with finding out how did you DO that? Jack was happy to share- "You have to be berry, berry qwiet".

This isn't really a saying, but he LOVES orange. He has always liked Auburn, but since we went to the game, he will only wear orange clothes, only eat orange food, and will only use orange dishes. He likes to say "I weally wuv orshange"

Aidan:

When he doesn't know something "I can't know"

When asking me for something "Mommy, why you NOT getting me .... (fill in the blank)". He says this always at the top of his lungs, in a very demanding tone. Ok, this is actually really annoying and infuriating, but I'm hoping that one day I will be able to laugh about it. :)

This might be embarrassing, but it was so funny I can't help but write it. We were at my mom's yesterday, and Aidan jumped up to run for the potty. Never one to put things off, he started mid-run to pull his pants down. As he ran by the dog, he yanked them back up and said "Mitzi! Don't see my bum!"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Best Idea Yet

I have stumbled upon my best idea for a reward system. I am always trying to convince force motivate the kids to do things. I have tried treats, tv time, extra stay up late time, money, all sorts of things. But they have all eventually stopped working, and are hard to keep up with, etc.

I keep waiting on this new plan, because I have been sure that it was just a fluke- that it wouldn't actually work. But it has been almost a month now, and we are still going strong. So I am willing to share. I don't know how it works, or why. Frankly, it baffles me. But hey- I'm not one to question something that works so magically.

It is the 'gold star' reward system. When someone does something good, they get a "gold star". As in I say "good job putting your seat belt on without help. You get a gold star". That's it. There is no *actual thing* that is a gold star- it is just me saying they get one. I continue to chuckle every time I say "whoever gets in the car and buckles their belt without help gets a gold star" and they all start running for the car to do their buckles. If you only knew how I used to have to beg, chase and corral them into the car.

I don't ever take them away for bad behavior- it is purely a reward, not a punishment. But boy, they get so happy and excited when I give them a gold star! And I don't have to keep up with anything or buy anything or remember anything. They don't accumulate and cash them in, they don't have any meaning other than mom telling them 'good job'. Which apparently, is enough.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Food Friday

As a member of my Church, I have learned my entire life to be prepared. To live frugally, save, make do, and think ahead. One of the recommendations I have always known is to have a one-year supply of food on hand. Many in the Church call it food storage. My in-laws prefer the term food "supply", since storage indicates that you get it, throw it in the basement and never think of it again (which happens a lot). Food supply indicates that you use it, rotate it, and don't waste it. The current recommendations are that you have on hand a 3 day supply of water, a 3 month supply of all food you would eat, and a 1 year supply of essentials.

There are a million reasons to accept this counsel. It is wise to be prepared. I have heard many, many stories of people who have needed and used their food supply at different times. Growing up, my father lost his job for a time, and with my mother not working and 5 children, they have told me many times how grateful they were to have their supply of food to use when finances were exceptionally tight.

It finally occured to me not long ago, that it is up to ME to make sure we have our own food supply. I am the Home Manager, the purchaser of groceries, planner of meals, etc. If we don't have it, and there comes a time when we need it, I will have no one to blame but myself. So I have made sputters and starts over the past couple months, but now it is time to get serious. So I am starting a weekly "Food Friday" feature where I catalog what I have done each week to achieve my goals. It may be a storage tip, a freezer recipe, or a motivation to get re-charged, but I am going to try to make some sort of progress each week.

Here is what I want to eventually achieve:
  • 3 day supply of water (1 gal/person/day) = 15 gal
  • 30 freezer meals
  • 3 month supply of non-perishables
  • 1 year supply of basic necessities

Here is what I have:

Pathetic, I know. But at least we have peanut butter. And oil. I mean, what else do you need? Some black cherry citrus fresca? Got it!

So this week I did two things. While I was at Costco, I bought 3 (25 lb) bags of flour. I want to start making more bread items from scratch, so we use the flour and don't have to buy as much. I am not good at making sandwich bread, but I am pretty good at rolls, pizza dough, tortillas (well, Kydon does those), and sweets. I also bought 2 frozen lasagnas to add to my freezer meals, and I made an appointment to go to our canning center in October to can some flour, powdered milk and sugar.

That is progress! And now I am posting here. I encourage anyone who is interested to join with me! We can help and give each other ideas and motivation. I am pretty much starting from scratch, and plan to go pretty slow, so no one should feel behind!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Family Pictures

Aidan and Abigail love to draw pictures of the family. Abigail draws them herself, Aidan likes to direct us "Now draw Jack. Now draw Daddy". Today she came home with a pretty typical example. She almost always leaves out one or more people (Daddy in this case). But never forgets Laura and Dane. They are always included. Quite often she will draw us all in the same color, then switch to red for Laura, a nod to Laura's red hair.

From L to R is Mommy, Abigail, Jack, Aidan, Laura, Dane.

I was impressed that this time she got the hair pretty accurate- curly for me, bangs for her, short and curly for Jack, short and straight for Aidan, Laura has long hair, and Dane's was short before it got a drip of water on it. The belly buttons are a recent addition. I love watching them get more and more detailed!

And this is how she writes her name:

I also like this because it shows how she colors- she fills in every blank space when coloring something. Just like how this box is colored all red- she has colored that way for years. So cute!

More Bento

My Bento Boxes are due to arrive TODAY, but of course not in time to send to school with Abigail. Making do with tupperware, but not loving it.

I included grapes, a container of pineapple, a tomato, a hot dog "doggie" (or some strange animal that I can't really identify, but who cares as long as it is somehow cute, right? Right?!?), and some cucumbers cut up like stars. And the little pouch of chocolate chips. Those seem to be a favorite, she likes to share them with her friends.

When she saw it today, she got such a loving look in her eye and said "Mommy, you make lunches better than anyone else's". That right there is the reason I do it. She feels loved, and enjoys it. It makes it all worthwhile.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Painting Fun

Lest you think it is all chaos, tantrums, and craziness here in my house, the other morning we had a lovely time painting some birdhouses. They had so much fun choosing colors, painting, and they were SO proud of the end result, showing them to anyone who they came in contact with.



This Time Mom Particpates In The Death And Torture

Alternate title 1: I never volunteered at the Bird Rescue Center in college. Maybe I should have.

Alternate title 2: I used to think you should deal with issues like death with kids directly. Now I know I am a big chicken.

Alternate title 3: Today I squished a hummingbird.

When we drove into our garage today, a hummingbird flew in with us. I left the garage open all day, thinking the poor thing would find his way out. But he didn't. We have really high ceilings in our garage, so there is a good 3 feet above where the door opens, and he just kept flitting around the ceiling, bumping his little nose and not knowing what to do.

So as the day wore on, I decided to try and help him get out. After a few bumbled attempts with a broom, I decided he needed to be caught and released. So I found a big box, a tall ladder, and 3 witnesses, and went to work. I trapped him once, and he was buzzing around the box, but before I could get a lid and get him down, he escaped. No biggie- the first time was pretty easy, so I tried again. This time I trapped about 3/4 of him. And heard some really heart-wrenching tweets. He fell into the box, and the kids let out a heart breaking 'oh NO' all in unison.

I knew the poor thing was hurt beyond repair. I knew the humane thing would have been to finish him off and alleviate the suffering. But I looked in the eyes of 3 really, really sad kids. "Poor honey-bird" "he dead mommy?" And I couldn't do it. I lied through my teeth. "No, kids, he is ok. Just really tired from all that flying. He needs to rest". And we watched him flop around a little. I kept up the illusion "look, he moved his wing. He is getting better". Then we put some leaves in his box in case he got hungry. One more death preceded by torture.
Then, after they were in bed, we got rid of the honey-bird. I guess he "flew home to his family". At least, that is what I will tell the kids in the morning. I felt so terrible that he was suffering for so long. But not terrible enough to suck it up and tell my kids that Mommy killed their honey-bird.

If you would have asked me 4 years ago, I would have said "Oh, a situation like that is a perfect opportunity to teach children about life and death, and see for themselves what happens when things die". But today, I just couldn't face the tears of 3 little kids, who so sweetly loved this little honey-bird and would have been crushed to know that he was dead. I'm a big chicken.

What is good for the Goose sucks for the Ganders

I started out the day with noble ambitions. I wanted to 'go with the flow'. Let my kids be kids, let them do the things they wanted to do, and say "yes" as often as possible.

I did pretty well for the morning. I had to bite my tongue so many times that it is probably a bloody stump by now, but I did it. I gritted my teeth from letting out the automatic 'no', and said 'yes' to almost everything.

I let them eat applesauce that I normally reserve for outings, have hot dog buns for a snack, watch 3 TV shows instead of one, gave Jack 5 glasses of milk, let them pull all the cushions off the couch, drink water from a (glass) mug instead of a sippy cup, watch youtube videos, allowed them to wear strange, mis-matched clothes when we went out, and bring bags stuffed with toys into the car when we went out.

Frankly, it drove me crazy. And by crazy, I mean I was having a psychotic episode by the end of the day. I think my eyes started having convulsions. By the afternoon I was a mess, and pretty much said 'no' to everything except sitting in their rooms crying.

But I learned a few things. First, it is good to say 'yes', but bad to make myself insane. I must learn to find the balance.

Second, this is a good method for Abigail, but a bad method for Jack and Aidan. Abigail, when told 'no', will fight it with all she has. She goes a little nuts, and has to push and push and push until she figures out where the line is, and what my breaking point is. She never can accept the 'because' reason for me telling her no. But if I say 'yes' enough, she can calm down. She doesn't have to fight and push so much. It calms her, and she stops asking for things, stops fighting everything, and just relaxes and lets things work. And then when I did have to tell her no, and she started up with the pushing, I just said 'Abigail, I have let you have everything your way. This is a no', and she just accepted it and moved on. It was beautiful.

But Jack and Aidan, not so much. Once I started saying 'yes', they couldn't control it. They had to just keep asking for more, more, more until I just couldn't take it anymore. No self regulation, no limits. I don't know if it is age, or just personality, but this method, at least at this time, is not a good way for them.

So now I just have to figure out how to say 'yes' to one and 'no' to the others. I know that no one ever said parenting was easy, but sheesh. :)

Saying Yes Challenge

I say 'no' all day. Sometimes it is necessary. There are things the kids want to do that are unclean, unsafe, or not allowed for various reasons. Then there are the things that are more of a personal preference. Like food, or rolling down the windows, clothing, etc. etc.

And lately it seems like Abigail and I are butting heads about absolutely everything. So much of her driving force is control. She loves to be in control of things, and hates to have choice and decisions taken away. So the past several days I have tried my very, very best to say 'yes' as often as I possibly can. Especially with food. Even if it is 5 minutes before dinner, or 2 minutes after we are done, I have tried to never, ever say 'no' when she asks for food. A few times I have limited her choices, but I usually try to just grit my teeth and let her have what she wants.

I understand there are reasons not to say yes to everything- she doesn't need to get everything she asks for, and she needs to learn to wait, and to go without, and a whole bunch of other things. But I am trying to identify those times when it is just my preference that is causing the no, because it is better for her to learn for herself the consequence of choices, rather than having those choices taken away and her being forced to do what I think is best.

So this is my challenge today: How many times can I say YES? How few times can I say NO? I challenge you, if you are reading today, try to make your YESes a lot more frequent than your No's.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sometimes, all you can do is laugh. Or cry.

My mom put a quote on her blog a while ago: The LDS Prophet, Heber J. Grant said, "That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our ability to accomplish it has increased."

I decided to apply this principle to Taking A Walk With My Kids. Where we each walk a short distance (across the street and past 6 houses to the corner, and back). The idea is to say "hey, lets take a walk" and we all move toward the door in an orderly fashion, walk down the street and back, then get home and say "that was a nice walk".

We are a loooooong way from this ideal.

I've tried to do this off and on every few months. Every time it backfires on me. This week I decided we are going to take advantage of the beautiful fall-ish weather and try it again and again until we finally could do it. This entire week we have gone either once, twice, or three times every single day. We are still a loooooong way from the ideal.

Today I decided to do a photo documentary to detail just how hard it is to "take a walk".

First the shoes.
We had only been out of the car for an hour, but they all had taken off their shoes, and socks, and no one could remember where they had put any of them. So I took a good 5 minutes to locate Jack and Aidan's shoes and put them on. Abigail wanted these:

And we spent another 5 minutes arguing about why she can't wear those to go on a walk and I waaaaannnnnnt to. So I told her it was her choice, but that if she wore them, her feet would hurt. Guess what she chose? And guess how many houses we passed before I heard this: "Mom, you were right- my feet hurt" (1.5 houses).

Ok, shoes are set. Now for accessories. I used to try to go on the walk without carrying or pushing or bringing anything. I finally, after many, many arguments, gave that up. Now they each get to bring something.

Abigail chose a Dump Truck. Which we have 2 of. But apparently she chose JACK'S dump truck. I can't tell the difference, but it was vital. She wasn't giving it up, and Jack wasn't giving in and getting the other one. So we cried for a while. Jack finally went and got the other one, and we were ready to go.

Except Aidan wanted a train. That we had to find. And put back together. And after 10 minutes of negotiating all this, he left it here:

But then he remembered he needed this sign:

Ok. Everyone has shoes, toys, all that we need right? Right! Let's go! Oh- Jack has to go potty. (pause... wait). He's back. Let's go! Nope, he forgot the monster truck. (pause.... wait).

Finally, about 20 min after the initial idea, we are ready! To take a walk! We made it to the end of the driveway before Aidan decided he WASN'T GOING. So he went back inside.

That's ok. I am going to persist. So we keep walking. We get across the street, and Aidan changes his mind.Jack and Abigail are happily walking for the moment. But Aidan is sad, and tired, and wants to be carried. That is one of the cardinal rules of the walk- MOMMY WILL NOT CARRY YOU. But I gave in. There is pretty much no way that this walk will fit the ideal anyway.

Have I mentioned our problems with fally-down pants?

Jack is usually the happiest walker. But he likes to run way ahead. This running away has cut our walk short many, many times. But today he just ran ahead a little bit, then sat down to wait.

While waiting, he was blowing dandelion seeds. And when we caught up to him, Abigail and Aidan thought it was a good idea.

But we can't do it without contention and competition. So Aidan snatched all of the 3 seed pods that were available. And Abigail let him have it.

Yep. That is what ended our walk today. We were almost there:

See the corner? Our goal? We didn't make it to the corner. And definitely didn't make it without issues.

The reaction to my declaration that when kids act bad, we have to go home:

When all 3 are crying, I must be doing something right. ;)

At this point, I was still enjoying myself, capturing all these moments on the camera, and Abigail was quite mad about that "MOM! You are supposed to be MAD! And you are HAPPY"! I said "yea, I'm still happy". Abigail then took a swing at me:


And we went home.

We will try again later today. Or tomorrow. Or both. Because I really want to be able to walk outside with my kids.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2nd Bento Box

Here is my second Bento Box! Very simple- carrots in the bottom, a small tomato, string cheese and rasin kabobs (I know it looks like marshmallows, but I promise it is cheese), and a cut up hot dog with a mustard face. And some chocolate chips in a napkin tied with ribbon. It only took about 5 minutes to assemble this meal, probably the same as if I had just put it in like a regular lunch. I also like this method because it doesn't use any plastic disposable bags. And I bet I will like it even better when my cute little boxes finally come!

You can see my first attempt here.
Follow up: She ate the whole thing! There were maybe 3 carrots and 2 rasins in her bowl when I went to wash it, and she said "Mom, can you make that lunch next week too?" A success for sure!

Monday, September 15, 2008

When Death is Preceded by Torture

Today was a beautiful fall day. Warm, a little overcast so the sun wasn't too bright or hot, and there was a nice breeze blowing.

About 8:00 am, after breakfast, clean up, morning work, and watching a couple of TV shows (yep, all that was done before 8!), the kids headed outside for some play.

And they played for almost 4! hours! And they were all happy the whole time! No crying, no fighting, no hurting each other or driving each other crazy. It was heaven. I went back and forth, played some outside, did some housework, and talked to a friend on the phone.

First, they found a big bug on the deck. I can't tell you what it is called, but it looked very similar to this:

It was clinging to our door, and the kids thought it was the best thing EVER. They enjoyed poking it with sticks, running and screaming whenever it made any sort of movement, and then poking it with more sticks. They seemed to be having fun, so I went back to vacuuming.

About 2 minutes later, (I imagine it was a long 2 min for our bug friend) Abigail runs in to triumphantly tell me that she had successfully squashed him with her scooter. And a few minutes after that, Jack ran in to give me the very exciting news that they had found a jumping bug! I ran outside, with all the excitement he was expecting, to examine this most precious creature. I found a smallish grasshopper, who was missing one or more legs, thus enabling him to "jump" for the kids, but not jump enough to actually get away. And if you would have heard the squeals of delight, and great belly laughs of satisfaction, you would know that his torture did not go unappreciated. But he got squished too.

So then, wanting to capitalize on their new-found purpose, which was miraculously enabling them to all be in the same vicinity without screams, cries, and bruises, I gave them a box and told them to make a bug home, and find lots of bugs to put in it. I am pleased to say that they treated these bugs with utmost care and concern.
They found a "baby" snail, and searched diligently until they also found his mommy and daddy. Daddy turned out to be a roly-poly bug, but we won't go into the genetics. If these bugs were hungry, they were showered with leaves and grass and sticks. If they wanted something to hide on or under, the kids were thoughtful enough to chuck a few rocks at them. And when they showed signs of being dirty, they very nicely found a small bowl of water to bathe them in. I'm not sure how long they lasted alive, but I hope (for the bugs sake) that it wasn't long.
After bug torture, they pulled out some blankets and pillows for nap/play, and then we had an outdoor picnic, and then some swinging. It was such a beautiful morning, filled with great weather, happy kids, fun times, and some death and torture.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Swap matching

I have sent out the information for the swap! If you did not get an email, and were expecting one, let me know! Amanda and Katie, I need your email to give you the info- email me at momto3under2 @ gmail.com.

I will post pics of the swap when we do it- if you post pics on your own blog, let me know and I will link them, or if you want the pics on my blog, email them to me.

Have fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lucky

Click here to sign up for kids mail swap- it closes tomorrow!

In all of my busyness today, Abigail was coloring nicely at the table while I was cleaning out the car, cooking dinner, managing the boys, etc. etc. She said "Mommy, will you come color with me?" And thankfully, I did. I put down all I was doing, and stopped for a few minutes to color a picture of Dora. Something I don't do enough, and I'm trying to do more.

Here was part of our conversation:

Abigail: Wow, this sure is a hard picture to color, right?
Me: Yep, it sure is, but you are really good at coloring.
Abigail: You sure are lucky to have me so you don't have to color by yourself.
Me: Yes I am, honey, I really, really am.

And I really am. Lucky. The only word to describe it. Lucky to have a little 4 year old to color with. Lucky to have my car littered with toys, cracker crumbs and sippy cups. Lucky to not ever be bored. Lucky to have a family that needs dinner every night, and breakfast every morning, and a snack 5 seconds after we finish the dinner dishes. Lucky to have them climbing and hanging all over me. Lucky to have little ones to kiss and hug and play with me all day. I am lucky. Times three. And I try not to forget it.

Hanging on Mom and ready for bed-time milk.

Items cleaned out of the car- and it wasn't really all that dirty! 3 blankets, several pairs and 1/2 pairs of shoes, 5 toy phones, 5 sippy cups, and 11 (!) monster trucks. And a few other random toys.

Another self-portrait. Told you I was lucky!

Abigail took this one of Jack. So cute!