Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy 5th birthday Logan!

My baby is five today. FIVE!

He changed my life so completely. Becoming a mom was the coolest thing EVER! MAN I love this kid!

A little look back at his birthdays so far:

Brand-new boy. He was into Mommy at that time.

First birthday. He was into Elmo.

Second birthday. Oh, how I remember that green frosting! We took him to Greenfield Village to see Thomas the Tank Engine that year. He was really into Thomas.

Planting his third birthday tree. We plant a tree every year on his birthday. He was all about farms and tractors that year, hence the overalls.

Blowing out his cool Logan candles on his fourth birthday. He was into Monster Trucks and Legos last year.

This year, he's into playing outside and sports, and is really looking forward to tee ball, so he's getting all his gear, plus some roller skates, and he's having a little roller skating party tomorrow.

My big five-year-old boy!

He is also having his last day of preschool today and preschool graduation (caps and gowns and everything!) is on Sunday, so it will be a memorable weekend for him. I'll take lots of pics, and I'll be back at it on Monday.

Happy Birthday, baby!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's their job, and yours

The other day, I read a post by a blogging buddy, Lisa @ This Mommy Works.

It was about being interrupted by your kids, and was based on a quote: "Interruptibility makes a great mom," by Dee Ann Stewart.

Lisa's blog post got me thinking and has kept me thinking. As a matter of fact, it has changed my outlook a bit and has, I think, made me a better mom.

Kids interrupt. It's part of who they are and what they do. Not just conversations--though they're really good at that--but anything you're doing. Any mom knows what I'm talking about.

When you're a mother, good luck getting five minutes alone in a bathroom. Just the other night, I was in the tub and Logan streaked into the room and next thing I know, I'm sharing my bubble bath with a little boy who asks too many questions

Heaven forbid the phone rings, or you bump into someone at the store and start chatting. That pushes kids' "interrupt" button and they immediately begin clamoring, even if they were quiet as a church mouse up until that moment.

Cleaning house, sleeping, making dinner, looking at a magazine, trying to hear something on the radio... ANYTHING a mom is trying to do will be interrupted by her kids.

But, you know, it's their job.

And ever since reading Lisa's post, I've been trying to keep that in mind. I am doing less just-a-minuting and more putting down whatever I'm doing to tend to what my child needs RIGHT THAT MINUTE. Even if it's just Logan wanting to show me how his Grave Digger toy crashes when he's racing the Maximum Destruction toy.

Interruptibility makes a great mom, and I'm trying to be more interruptible these days.

After all, one day too soon, I'll wish my boys were interrupting me, talking to me, wanting attention from me.

Plus, the laundry just lies there quietly. It's easy to ignore and never interrupts.

Well, unless it stinks.

Anyway, next time you find yourself getting agitated about your child's incessant interruption, next time you find yourself thinking "I just need to be NOT NEEDED for a little while," remind yourself that it's their job to interrupt and it's your job to be interrupted, and you'll miss it when it's gone.

Although, I still interrupt my mom more frequently than she'd like.


Sorry, Mom. It's my job.

I guess I'm both the interrupter AND the interruptee.

Kids are constantly trying to reassure themselves that their presence is important to those who matter most in their world, and often, that's mom.

Give your babies that reassurance. Let them know how much they mean to you by stopping whatever is distracting you from them, getting down on their level and really paying attention to them. Listen to them. Don't just wait for them to get done talking so you can go back to whatever meaningless task you were doing before.

BE THERE for your kids. They matter most.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A spring walk

It was WAY chillier than it looked outside yesterday. But, Logan wanted to go on a scooter ride to the book store to spend some of his saved money on a book. How could I refuse? So, we parked at the train station, I strapped Jordan into the backpack and we walked/scooted downtown, got each of the boys a book, stopped by Blondie's for a sweet treat (a bite-size piece of fudge for me and a small bag of gumballs for Logan) and headed back to the train station. It was only about a mile and a quarter total.

Though the breeze was chilly, it was sunny and the trees are flowering, so town was quite pretty. I took a few photos (of course). We also saw several hatched eggs (possibly robin, due to the color). Logan smashed most of them in typical little-boy form. I wanted to bring them home and make a little decorative nest for them. Boo!

Anyway, enjoy the short tour of my hometown, lovely Lapeer, Michigan, and its crown jewel, the 1846 historic courthouse, as well as Annrook Park and the three cabooses at the historic train depot, which have been a favorite of Logan's for years. We have eaten many a lunch sitting on those cabooses and waiting for a train to pass.

Foodie firsts

Logan has been craving corn on the cob lately (or maybe he's just craving summer) so when I spotted some at the grocery store the other day, I picked it up. It was surprisingly decent for off-season non-local corn. I had fun watching the kids chow on it. It was Jordan's first corn on the cob, and he seemed to like it.

Then, yesterday, I had to take Jordan to the pediatrician AGAIN! It seems all the antibiotics he's been on lately have thrown off a balance in his body, causing him to basically have jock itch. Ew. It looks really uncomfortable but doesn't seem to be bothering him that much. Anyway, got something for that. More medicine. Yay. But I decided to let Jordan have his first lollipop because Logan always gets one, even at Jordan's appointments, and even though Jordan didn't really know what it was, he gets kind of jealous when he sees Logan with one, so I allowed it.

At first he didn't know which end to put in his mouth. He kept chewing on the handle. He got it after a while, though, and made a huge sticky red mess. He started chomping off bites, though, and I had to take it away, which made him really mad. Oh well.

So, there ya go, 'cause I know you couldn't make it through Wednesday without seeing pics of my kids eating. Whatever!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Homemade ketchup

We tend to buy good ole Heinz ketchup. It's the kind I always have had and it just tastes like it is supposed to. I can tell when we go to restaurants if they use a different kind. It just isn't the same.

Well, I got my last issue of MaryJane's Farm magazine and it included some homemade condiment recipes. I made mustard last month and it turned out pretty good but a little too spicy for me. It's a belly-burner! That might be because of the crushed brown mustard seeds I used, though.

I decided I wanted to try making homemade ketchup for a couple reasons. First, Heinz has high-fructose corn syrup in it. Second, I had some old, frozen tomatoes waiting to be used up. So, I borrowed a food mill from my dad and went for it. Today. And boy, did I make a mess!

But, it turned out pretty darn tasty! Logan claimed he didn't like it, but I am wondering if I put it in a ketchup bottle if maybe he would like it (as in, if he wasn't told it was the homemade stuff.) It doesn't taste exactly like Heinz, but it's good. It only keeps a few weeks, though.

Anyway, here's the recipe, if you're interested in trying it. I, as usual, didn't measure anything. I just added approximations and adjusted sugar and vinegar and salt to taste.

3 lbs ripe tomatoes, chopped (I used thawed, frozen, chopped tomatoes)
1 med. onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed (I didn't have any so just used garlic powder)
1 T black peppercorns
1/4 t dry mustard (didn't have any. used whole mustard seeds)
1/2 t ground allspice (didn't have any)
2 whole cloves
2 t celery seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 t paprika
1/4 t cayenne (didn't have any. used blackened seasoning)
1/3 c light brown sugar
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 t sea salt

Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and spices into a stockpot and simmer for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly until about 1/3 of the juices have evaporated. (Whatever. Mine cooked for maybe 20 minutes. I kind of "lost" some of the juice all over my fridge as the tomatoes were thawing, though.) Let sit for 30 min. to cool. Remove cinnamon stick.

Put tomato mixture in a blender and process on highest speed for a minute.

Run mixture through a food mill using finest mesh screen. Return to a clean sauce pan. Bring to a simmer and add the sugar, vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Adjust to taste.

Simmer an hour or so to thicken. Allow to cool to room temp. Store in fridge in a jar for up to 3 weeks. Or, you can freeze it in plastic canning jars. When ready to use, thaw and simmer 15-20 min to allow extra water to evaporate.

So, yeah, it was pretty easy. It says if you're using frozen tomatoes, to thaw and drain in colander, and since there will be less volume, reduce sugar and vinegar to 1/4 cup each and the salt to 1/2 t, and then when thickening simmer for only 30 min.

Me? I just added this and that, coming close-ish to the recipe, and simmered until it looked and tasted done, and it turned out great.

terrabella accents

A while back, I decided out of the blue one day that I wanted some wooden bangle bracelets. I don't know why. I mentioned it on Twitter and one of my "Tweeps" sent me a link to the terrabella accents etsy shop.

I took one look at these bracelets and immediately placed an order. No shopping around or anything.

It was a total impulse purchase of something completely frivolous, but I couldn't help myself. They were so pretty.

The bracelets arrived from Nicaragua, and two of them had broken on the trip to Michigan. I was so sad! I contacted the seller, Sheila, and she immediately sent me out a new set, no questions asked. AWESOME customer service, no?

A while later, I went back and did some more browsing in her etsy shop. Boy, are there some neat wooden things! I would probably buy one of everything if I could. Guess I'll have to settle for my gorgeous bracelets.

My photos aren't as good as the one above, which is from the etsy site, but these are my bracelets

The cool thing is, none of them are exactly alike, and they are made from sustainable wood bits left over from the seller's husband's carpentry business. ECO-FRIENDLY, folks! That gets a big thumbs-up from me.

Here's a little about what Sheila has to say about her etsy items:

"'Terrabella' means 'beautiful land' and perfectly describes the setting in which I live. Our country has different natural resources in the different regions. We have volcanoes, fresh water lakes and lagoons, beaches in the Pacific Ocean and Carribean, mountains, and rivers. Each small picturesque town has its own traditions and foklore... We moved from Florida to Nicaragua in 1995 on a 3 year adventure and now its 2010!

My husband’s carpentry uses larger pieces of sustainable wood; therefore I found a way to use his tiny pieces of wood to tie them in with what I love to create. It is a byproduct and gives me the gratification of having found something useful and beautiful to do – one’s man’s garbage is another one’s treasure.....

I have always been fascinated by the different regions and the ingenuity of the people in each region and found ways to help sustain and support individual families.

The crocodile leather is bartered from a family that lives in the lake region where crocodiles are sustainably farmed and are used as their main source of meat. I give them bangles for their artisanal creations and they give me small amounts leather in return.

The baskets are elaborated in the northern region of the country where the lower temperature and higher altitude provides pine trees that do not exist in any other region. Since my grandmother is from this region and we are constantly travelling there, I always purchase whatever amount of baskets this one particular family has made and then I embellish them with natural seeds, metals, and fibers."

I was impressed with these gorgeous bracelets and I don't regret purchasing them at all. If you're looking for a unique gift for Mother's Day or a little treat for yourself, I urge you to stop by the terrabella accents etsy shop.

BY THE WAY... If you haven't noticed, Sheila left a comment on this post offering my readers a special deal in her shop! :) Now you can get something for you AND for mom!

My blog is carbon neutral

And yours can be too!

“My blog is carbon neutral” is an initiative started in Germany to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Those in charge of the initiative plant a tree for your blog, neutralizing your blog’s carbon footprint for the next 50 years.

They've done the calculations to determine that planting one tree will neutralize the carbon footprint of a blog with an average of 15,000 visitors a month. The carbon dioxide emissions can mainly be tracked back to the immense energy usage from computers, servers and their cooling systems. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) assumes a yearly absorption of one tree of approximately 10kg (20lb.) carbon dioxide emissions. The "My blog is carbon neutral" initiative is using a very conservative yearly absorption value of 5kg (11 lb.) for its “My blog is carbon neutral” initiative to ensure that the neutralization of each blog is achieved.

If you have a blog, make it carbon neutral! It's quick, easy and free.

Just click here and follow the simple instructions.

Monday, April 26, 2010

WILD child

Jordan + sunlight + a balloon = an AWESOME hair day!

I am so in love with this photo!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shhhh... it happens!

So. There was a time in my life that I was a very different person. I hadn't changed many diapers aside from a few here and there when I used to babysit, and I thought a kid drooling or, heaven forbid, spitting up on me was the end of the world.

(Actually, someone else's kid puking on me would actually gross me out pretty badly.)

But anyway, things have changed after two kids. I have been pooped on, peed on, spit-up on, full-on projectile vomited upon, you name it. And somehow, when it's your own kid, you just deal with it.

Unless you're a guy, I guess.

You see, Jordan has been on antibiotics the past few days because he's had croup twice in as many weeks. Antibiotics, decongestant and ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation. All that medicine means that basically every diaper I change is poopy. AND it's medicine poop, which is an awful consistency that doesn't just nicely roll or peel off the cloth diapers like normal poop. No, this stuff doesn't want to come off at all. Even when I scrape at it with the silicone spatula I have in the bathroom for such occasions. (See, I told you things have changed!)

So, that means that lately, there have often been a couple diapers soaking in the toilet in our half bath. Thanks goodness we have two bathrooms! But, the door MUST be kept closed because Jordan is into EVERYTHING these days, and that includes the dirty diaper bucket and the toilet.

Can you guess where this is going?

Tonight, I got the kids cleaned up and pajammified after dinner, and I was in the living room picking splinters out of Logan's fingers when I heard Hubby ask Jordan, "Why is your arm wet?" That question was followed with a panicky-sounding "Oh no..." and then a bit of chaos as Hubby ascertained that the baby had, indeed, been "fishing" in the toilet, which had two nasty diapers floating in its brown water. Said baby had then touched Hubby in various locations, thus spreading the fecal fun times all over his Daddy.

Daddy got kind of loud.

To which I had to reply, "Honey, chill out. Shhhh... It happens!"

Really, though, it does. Often.

I will freely admit it was probably me who left the bathroom door open this time. I dealt with it. I went in there and cleaned until you could eat off the floor while Hubby set about giving Jordan another bath.

And, yeah, it was pretty gross. He had actually pulled the diapers out of the toilet so there was brown water and chunks all over the floor.

I had to chuckle a bit, though. I mean, I didn't even flinch when I found out what Jordan did. I just said "OK, I'll take care of it in a minute."

That baffled Hubby, whose "poop alarms" were sounding, rendering him unable to think clearly. I imagine all that was going through his head was "Poop! Oh my God, poop! What do I do? Poop! There's poop! It touched me! Aaaargh! Gross! Poooooooooop!!!"

It got me thinking about how different our jobs are. I mean, between the cloth diapers and an almost-five-year-old boy who is learning to wipe his own butt, I have to deal with crap every day, in the literal sense, while he has to deal with an entirely different kind.

I wonder which is worse? Somehow, I get the idea that each of us thinks the other has the short end of the stick.

Oh well.


Shhh.... It happens.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Anatomy lesson

When we're driving around, Logan and I have lots of random conversations.

Yesterday, we were playing a rapid-fire rhyming word game--one of us would say a word and then we had to say as many rhyming words as we could until one of us said a different word. Then, Logan asked me to name all the parts of a tree (trunk, roots, bark, branches, leaves...). Then a bee. Then I asked him to name the parts of a little boy (and he named "love" as one of them. awwww.....) and then he asked me to name the parts of a mom, and I said "Well, pretty much the same as a little boy, since we're both people."

He replied, in all seriousness, "Moms aren't the same as little boys because they pee out their butts."


It was all I could do to not drive off the road, I was laughing so hard.

So. There's your anatomy lesson for the day. I'm off to pee out my butt.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth day recap

Hey hey Happy Earth Day, even though it's almost over!

Well, it was a pretty spring day weather-wise here in Michigan. Not super warm, but warm enough to play outside, and very sunny. Got up at 5 a.m. after the second night in a row of very little sleep. (2 nights before, Logan was up all night crying due to a raging ear infection, and then last night, Jordan was up all night. I think he's teething, but can't be sure. I know, though, that he has a TERRIBLE diaper rash. I feel so so so bad for him.)

Started the day with a jog. Came home to a crying, up-way-too-early baby. Logan woke up crabby too. Yay fun. We were all tired and crabby.

After breakfast and a shower for three, thanks to a very bad diaper situation, we headed out to check out a couple garage sales because I'm looking for a baby slide or SOMETHING I can actually allow Jordan to climb. No luck. Went to a bulk store for some wheat berries to make name gardens for the boys and ended up buying a make-your-own laundry detergent kit that is supposed to even out to something like 2 cents a load and be better for the environment. I'll blog about how that goes once I get into it.

We came home and had lunch and then went out for a nature hike out back on the airport property. Didn't see much. The most exciting part was a tiny pond where we saw raccoon and deer tracks and one frog hanging out in the water.

After we got back from our walk, we broke out the bubble solution that I mixed up the night before from a recipe in Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy (See review here), and that turned out to be the highlight of the day.

The recipe I used was:

2 cups distilled water
1/2 cup blue Dawn (not Ultra) dish soap
1/4 cup light corn syrup

Mix together gently, trying not to make foam. Store overnight before use in lidded container.

I made a double batch.

We tried a few different things to make bubbles and had the best luck with two chenille stems (pipe cleaners) made into a loop. We got realllllllly soapy and sticky. Jordan usually loves bubbles but he wasn't all that interested. He played in the water for a while and then occupied himself going up and down the deck stairs. Logan had fun popping the bubbles I made. I had trouble getting a good photo with one hand while trying to make bubbles with the other hand, but some of them turned out kind of interesting.

Right after popping a big bubble

Baby playing in the soap, and sticky, soapy baby handprints going up the deck stairs

After bubbles, we played roof ball for a while (throwing balls up onto the garage roof, trying to get them to go over the house. None did.) and then headed back inside where I bathed the soapy boys and made dinner: homemade chicken breast nuggets, boxed blueberry muffins and a mix of corn and lima beans. It was kind of "use up some leftover crap in the freezer night."

And now? Jordan's in bed, Logan's going to bed soon, I have to steam the wrinkles out of some preschool graduation gowns and then I want to take a hot bath if there's time. I am really hoping for some good sleep tonight because I'll be up at 5 again tomorrow, heading to the gym. Oh, crap, and we're out of bananas! I always eat a banana before my morning workout. Grrrr....

Anyway, morning will surely come too soon.

Hope your Earth Day was wonderful, however you spent it.

Good night!