The Upside of Wasting Food

Over the last five years or so, I’ve been whittling away at a bunch of the areas of our lives where we are wasteful or unkind to the earth.  It started with an electric car and cloth diapers and has spread into so many things we use and do.  I make homemade dishwasher detergent and bathroom cleaner.  I hardly use paper towels.  I try to use reusable containers instead of foil, saran wrap, etc.  One area that continues to eat at me is food waste.

I will say that we’ve cut back dramatically on food waste just by eating at home more.  I am happy to say that one of my original goals from when I started the blog was to eat dinner at home at least four nights a week.  It’s kind of crazy to think that we were eating out THAT much that it was a goal for me to eat at home four days a week.  These days we go out for dinner maybe once or twice a week and it’s no big deal.  Actually, what is kind of a big deal for me is to figure out what I can make that everyone in the house will enjoy. All this experimentation results in food waste.  My kids aren’t super open minded when it comes to trying new foods.  Sometimes I look at what my family has eaten over the course of a day and I feel like a failure.   It’s a terrible feeling to think that you’re failing your family.  But I keep trying.

Today I was cleaning out the refrigerator since tomorrow is garbage day.  It had been a few weeks since I dug through the back of the fridge so there were several containers that needed to be cleared out.  In fact, I was pretty much out of containers with lids so I knew I needed to do it.  It was like a jab to my gut everytime I opened a container and dumped out the contents.  A cup of pumpkin.  A small container of sweet potatoes that no one cared for.  Left over rice and dahl.  Millet that I probably wouldn’t salvage.  A bit of arugula that didn’t get eaten in time.  Some questionable looking strawberries.   It was a lot this week.  But then I started thinking about it and realized there was an upside.  Pretty much everything that I threw away was a small left over portion of something I had tried.  And pretty much everything was a whole food that I was throwing out.  Years ago, I remember always throwing out produce because I never got around to making the things I thought I’d make.  Well now I’m making them.  The pumpkin was what was left after I made pumpkin muffins for the girls to snack on.  The sweet potatoes were left after I attempted to mash them but no one cared for them.  Most of the strawberries were eaten; just a few were left because I had bought a large container and then my mom brought more.  And I’m also noticing that more and more of the trash we produce is organic waste (which reminds me, it’s time to get back on the compost train!!!) – so instead of having overly processed foods, we’re eating more real foods, in general.  We’re not entirely where I wish we were, but you know what?  We’ve made great progress in the last five years.  It’s only Tuesday this week and already I’ve put my wok, food processor, blender, and slow cooker to work.   And don’t get me started on how badly my knives need to be sharpened from constant use!  So, no, food waste isn’t a good thing but I will say that this week it helped me recognize that we’re eating better AND it reminded me that I really am trying to feed my family healthy foods.  It’s not a failure.  It’s a step along the path of a journey.  I’m going to keep at it.

Side note:  Today my five year old literally started crying when she saw what I had made for dinner.  Real tears, folks.  I had tried a new recipe for Crunchy Stir Fry Zen Bowls (I thought they were beautiful looking and they tasted pretty good to me!) and asked her what she would like instead.  She said she wanted to make her own dinner.  “Out of what?” I asked.  “Apples, cabbage – I want purple and green both, and cucumbers and I want a tortilla to put it in.”  Huh.  Really?!?!?  I put some spinach on her plate along with a whole wheat tortilla, some apple slices and the cabbage she asked for and she stuffed it into an overflowing burrito and she ended up eating the majority of it.  Her meal was healthier than the one I had made for her!  So ya, we threw away some food but there was a bigger portion that went into her growing body.

Super S is SOOO Super

Super S is three years old.  I feel the need to talk about her.  I’d post pictures but wordpress is acting funny and won’t let me upload them.  Argh!  She has so much going on and I don’t want to forget what she’s like right now.  Every day I feel her babyhood slipping further and further behind us and I am excited about the things ahead of us but I’m also mourning the stage in my life where we have babies in our house.  This post IS going to be about her but for a minute I need to talk about me.  I struggled with Sia turning three.  We’ve decided that we’re done having kids.  And it’s the right decision for us.  Our family is complete.  It is.  But holy moly.  I love infants.  I’m not pretending that those impossibly hard months of no sleep and being depended upon for everything don’t exist.  I’m not saying that there’s no real, physical, and mental blow to one’s being as a result having a newborn.  There is.  I’m just saying it’s worth it and I’m sad to see that part of my life gone.  Before I had kids, I remember wanting that feeling of a little person’s head on resting on my shoulder.  And that’s really really nice.  But having been a mom to two little ladies, the stuff that I think I miss the most?  That look of sheer, unadulterated joy and adoration when you pick her up out of her crib.  That quiet time when no one else and nothing else in the world exists but the two of you.  Those moments when you know, without a doubt, that there is nowhere else your child would rather be than with you.  Her explosive stretch when you undo the swaddle followed by her unbelievably soft warm body next to yours when you pick her up after a nap.  Knowing that she trusts you more than anything.  Sorry if there are typos in this.  I’m bawling.  So it’s come to be.  I’m that woman.  You know her.  I catch myself staring at carriers covered with blankets, waiting for the moment it passes at just the right angle so I can get a peek at the delicate sleeper inside.  (I swear I’m not a creeper)  A few days before Super S’s birthday, I heard a baby crying in the parking lot.  I could tell it was a little baby.  It made me cry.  I’ll miss this part of my life.  My baby is a tiny little girl now.  I have so much to look forward to.  I know that.  Let me tell you about my little lovely as she is today.

Sia is a happy child.  Her enthusiasm on the inside bubbles over to her voice and she uses her entire body to talk.  She’s fast.  She runs fast, she talks fast, she jumps fast, she climbs fast.  She loves blue.  In fact, we didn’t have much of a theme for her third birthday party – just blue.  She loves her sister and picks up all kinds of things from her, especially speech and phrases.  She was half asleep the other night and (I don’t know why I did, but I did) I asked her who her best friend was.  She said “Kayeena,” her big sister.  She’s also a big big fan of her dear old dad.  She’s been doing this thing lately where she calls out each of our names when we’re getting ready to back out of the driveway.  Usually it’s just me and the kids while my husband is at work so it goes something like this:  “Sia!  Ahoy!  Karina!  Ahoy!  Mama!  Ahoy!  Daddy!  Not ahoy.”  And she says that last one so sadly.  She misses him when he’s at work.

In 2015 we took her to the emergency room twice.  Once at the beginning of the year because she had a super high fever and was becoming lethargic.  Turned out she had pneumonia.  The second time was because she tripped and hit her head on the corner of a baseboard.  She needed stitches.  It freaked me out – I could see her skull.  She was amazingly brave, though.  And actually I stayed calm, considering how scared I was on the inside.   I’m hoping she got all the emergency room visits out of her system and we’ll never  (ever) have to go again.  A girl can hope, can’t she?

She’s currently in speech therapy.  We found that while she understands way more than we expect her to, she was getting frustrated often because people couldn’t understand her. So we had her tested a few times and not surprisingly, she was advanced in her comprehension abilities but right at average for her speech.  At first they dismissed her as not needing therapy until one of the therapists did a specific test and realized she was making a massive amount of sound substitutions.  We have been going to speech therapy for the last few months to help her with her pronunciation.  I don’t know how much of her improvement is due to speech therapy and how much is just that she’s getting older and is developing more tone and muscles in her face and mouth but she’s definitely improving.

She loves me.  I know this.  I would be confident in saying that I’m her favorite person, though this is fading.  In her sleep she puts her arms around my head and says “I luff do too, mama” even when I don’t say anything first.  She is my little buddy.  We hold hands all the time and since she’s so light, I carry her often too.  She constantly needs to be touching me and calls for me at night.  She’s not satisfied until I lie down with her.  The fact that my mere presence brings comfort to her is so validating and makes my life worthwhile.  Whenever she sees a picture of someone sad or crying, she will always say  “wants her mommy” is the reason.  If someone looks sad on tv, says “where her mommy?” with a concerned face.   For someone with such an abundance of words, I am struggling to adequately communicate how much her love for me means to me, to my soul and my very existence.  I think she even looks like me.  Some more things about her:

  • She knows her alphabet, shapes, colors, numbers
  • Is beginning to count 1 for 1
  • Loves going to My Gym for classes
  • Favorite joke – “why did the pink panda go to the doctor?  Because he was pink!”  She loves telling this joke!
  • Likes playing with her kitchen, dressing as a princess, reading books with her family, memory, play-doh
  • Sleeps in her own bed in her own room but needs me to fall asleep.  Still wakes up at least once a night
  • She’s very affectionate.  Likes being held
  • Has been playing splendidly with her sister
  • Loves jumping in the ball bin, sliding and drinking from the water fountain
  • Sings pop songs more than nursery rhymes/songs – Some of her favorites are Roar, Fight Song, Let it go, and Single Ladies
  • Loves Luna – still her favorite My Little Pony
  • Favorite shows are Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Strawberry Shortcake, Paw Patrol, Jake and the Neverland Pirates
  • Loves pesto, pasta, strawberries, watermelon, BUTTER (omg butter), milk, bagels, steamed carrots, cheese, varan/bhath, beans and rice, waffles (with honey), french fries/tatertots/hash browns, pancakes, smoothies and popscicles made from smoothies, Applesauce (please stop with the apple sauce!), quesadillas, chips and all kinds of treats.
  • Likes being outside.  Not interested in plasma car; wants to go straight to the scooter
  • Loves playing with bubbles
  • LIkes to jump in the pool with her floaties on
  • Knows what she wants
  • Still twirls her hair to the point where her finger gets stuck.  Doesn’t even realize she’s doing it.  She mindlessly pulls and plays with my hair and sometimes Karina’s.
  • Likes watching TV and playing on her iPad
  • Enjoys painting, coloring and stamping
  • Weighs 26 pounds
  • Is beginning to dress herself but is really good at undressing herself.  Shows up naked often and inappropriately
  • No longer uses a step or a potty seat for the toilet.  Goes by herself.  Hallelujah!

She’s a great kid.  She has mellowed out since turning three – she was definitely a feisty two year old.  We were worried for a while that her temper would cause her strife in her life or that maybe she wasn’t as kind as we would like her to be but now that she’s better able to express herself, we’re seeing a very compassionate and sweet person.  When her sister is upset, she will say “It’s ok, Kayeena” with a very concerned face and will find words to soothe her.  Sometimes she sympathy cries with her.  It’s hard not to laugh when that happens.  I think one of the things that’s calming her down a bit is that she can better express herself.  She’s got a killer smile.  When she feels shy or overwhelmed by new people or places, she grabs onto her big sister and hugs her.  She’s smiling, so I think she’s ok but I think being close to Miss K brings her comfort.

I love this girl.  For who she was, who she is and who she will be.

DIY Very Hungry Caterpillar Costume and Beautiful Butterfly Costume

So this post is about a year late but I figure the timing is still right.  Miss K’s taste in costumes has become increasingly more complex over the last several years.  When she was 10 months old, I decided she would be a flower for Halloween.  At a year old, I decided she’d make an adorable elephant (she did).  At two years old, SHE decided she wanted to be an alligator princess.  Luckily Carter’s made an alligator costume that year so I pinned a crown on it and called it a happy Halloween.  Last year, at three years old, she said she wanted to be a “half rainbow, half Anna and Elsa butterfly.”  Sigh.  Seriously?

After thinking about it a bit and coming across some super duper cute costumes, I (skillfully) suggested that it would be fun to be the beautiful butterfly from The Very Hungry Caterpillar and to make things better, her sister could be the caterpillar!  It was so. stinkin. perfect.  Super S WAS a very mobile, hungry little girl and she was at an earlier stage than her big sister, who was actually very fluttery (and of course beautiful).  So she agreed.  But then I realized I needed to get costumes.  Couldn’t find any that I liked so I took a dive and decided to just make them.

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It was actually fun putting them together.  They weren’t perfect but my kids enjoyed helping and I was proud and they loved wearing them.  So all in all, it made us happy.

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The Very Hungry Catepillar
Materials:
-Green Felt
-22″ x 24″ in of green fabric
-Red Beanie
-Yellow Felt
-Yard of Ribbon
-Green Thread
-Scissors
-Fabric Glue

Using this post as inspiration, I used this tutorial as a guide to put together the dress.  I could try and spell it all out for you but she does a much better job than I could ever do.  I didn’t even bother using my sewing machine, though.  I just made hand stitches (there are just so few) and then cut pieces of green felt for stripes and sewed those on as well.  I think it took an hour, tops, and I don’t even really know how to sew.

I had considered making my own beanie but then spotted a crochet hat at Joann Fabric and decided that, for my first foray into costume making, I should keep things as simple as possible.  I simply cut out some yellow and green circles for eyes and used some fabric glue to attach them.  Also made a little bitty nose and colored it brown. The best part about these costumes is that Eric Carle’s art doesn’t have perfect lines; they feel a little messy or imperfect.  Good thing messy and imperfect are areas that I have extensive expertise!  Back to what I did…I then rolled up two pieces of felt and sewed them into the beanie.  This was the part of the costumes that I was most bothered by. I couldn’t get the antennae to stand up straight.  They didn’t bend but kept flopping over.  If anyone has suggestions on that, PLEASE comment below.

I picked up a pair of bright green tights from The Childrens Place and the Hungry Little Caterpillar was set!

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The Beautiful Butterfly
Materials:
-36″ x 36″ piece of green felt
-10 pieces of felt in various colors (be sure to include yellow and green for the hat)
-Elastic
-Pins
-Needle/thread
-Paper/pencil
-Fabric Glue
-Scissors
-3/8 inch wide elastic, cut into two 15.5 inch long pieces and two 4 inch long pieces)
-Yellow shirt
-Yellow tights
-Red Beanie

For this costume, I used this tutorial as a guide but decorated the wings differently and also didn’t bother making a stencil.  I measured her wingspan from wrist to wrist and made sure my felt piece was the same width at the widest part.  I just drew on the piece of felt and “winged” it (see what I did there?).  Same with the pieces that I attached to decorate the wings.  I kept the book open in front of me and tried to best reproduce some of the designs/patterns. It’s pretty tough to recreate due to the shades and shapes of the actual picture but I did my best.  I made circles, tear drop shapes, and used scraps to fill in the empty spaces.  I actually cut four of the same shapes and glued the pattern on both sides of the wings so that Miss K would look good from the front or the back.  I’d suggest laying out your pattern first and then gluing down.

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I used the same process as above for the beanie.  I had a hard time finding yellow leggings so I took a pair of $4 leggings from  Target and dyed them with Rit dye.  I was so excited to see that the color matched pretty darn close to the yellow shirt she had in her closet!  She LOVED being the butterfly for Halloween.  Even when we were handing out candy, she would spread her wings dramatically once we had opened the door so she could show the trick-or-treaters.  It was awesome.

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Outside of the research and gathering materials, I’d say these costumes took no more than 3-4 hours total.  I won’t lie.  A couple days before Halloween, I was having doubts about our homemade costumes and almost made a trip to Target to buy something else.  I was worried no one would know what they were or that the girls would look silly.  I sent a picture of the costumes to a couple friends and they knew right away what they were and they said the costumes were awesome.  And we did receive compliments while we were out, so that’s always nice too.  In a sea of Elsas, it was nice to feel unique.  But above all, my girls loved being in the costumes and they enjoyed making them together. I’d call that a success!  Good luck and share if you’ve made similar costumes!

FTF: 5 Things I Won’t Miss About Having Toddlers in the House

There are about a trillion things that I can think of that I will undoubtedly, sorely, heartbreakingly, devestatingly miss about having little bitties living with us.  When they grow up, I just know that I’m going to crave their littleness…The oh so wonderful feeling of carrying their warm sleeping bodies from the car with their heads trustfully resting on your shoulder, the little cries of “Mama!  Mama!  Mama!” for every and no reason, the unexplained head butt into your butt, the unabashed requests for mommy snuggle time. Oh wait.  This is supposed to be five things friday, not gazillion things that make my heart melt.  So let’s get back on track.  There are, however a few things I won’t be missing about having littles running around here:

1.  Bag full o’ crap EVERY single time we leave the house or come back.

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2.  Tissue paper out the bathroom all the way into the bedroom.
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Why? For the love of corn, WHYYYYYYYYY???

3. Aftermath of #2 and having to keep the trash can out of reach.
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4. I have nothing to say about this one.
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Ok, I lied. Seriously, WTF?

5. Everyday.  All. Dayam. Day.
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No exaggeration, I re-rack the shoes at least 3 times a day.

Another Breastfeeding Journey Comes to an End

It’s happening.  We’re pretty much done with breastfeeding.  I’m actually a little sad over this.  When I weaned my older daughter two years ago, I went through some mixed emotions.  I was really ready to get my body back.  This time, I know that this very well may be the last time I ever get to be that close to someone.  And my baby is growing up some; I kinda didn’t want it to end.  I’m having a hard time accepting it.  And my body seems to be having a hard time with it too.  My metabolism has come to a complete halt – I’ve put on weight at an alarming rate since cutting back.  But it’s time.  We made it to 14 months.

I vividly remember Super S crawling up my stomach and my chest and latching on within minutes of being born.  She was so sweet and just knew what to do.  She had a little jaundice so I fed her every two hours around the clock.  She was a sleepy eater.  So I’d switch her back and forth to help keep her awake.  She did a number on me.  Last week I found a form that a lactation consultant that I visited had filled out.  She  actually used the words “trauma to nipples.”  Funny how nature makes you forget.  She had a shallow latch and that resulted in a very painful time for me for the first several weeks.  The consultant helped with that and then it got better but I remember being in tears (I’m sure the lack of sleep encouraged those tears too).

One thing that surprised me (I suppose it’s a little odd) was that I found myself feeling the urge to feed my older daughter too, even though I hadn’t nursed her in a year.  Kind of bizarre, right?  I wonder if it was because I was nourishing the younger one and that maternal instinct to nurture my kids was on overdrive.  Maybe the process just flooded me with memories from the first time around.  I don’t know.

Luckily my sweet little buttercup grew and gained weight.  Once her body pushed out all the jaundice, I eased up and started feeding her every three hours or so.  Sweet, quiet moments shared between just her and I.  But she was also having a hard time with it.  I guess I had a heavy let down; she would sometimes choke when I fed her and she sounded congested and made lots of wet sounds while sleeping in her crib.  She even coughed, which newborns shouldn’t really do.  I got the feeling she had silent reflux.  Luckily she wasn’t spitting up as much as her sister did but I still felt something wasn’t quite right.  So I tried a few different things.  I would sit her upright for awhile after every feeding and was more diligent about burping her.  We put a wedge in her crib to keep her up at an angle.  What seemed to help the most, though, was feeding her with her body at a decline.  She just needed a little help from gravity, I guess.

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Super S was a like a clockwork.  Up every three hours to eat without fail.  Then it happened again.  Blood in her diaper, just like her big sister.  We had been to this rodeo before so we didn’t freak out.  We took her in to see her pediatrician, who had helped us work through allergy issues with our first baby.  She didn’t seem the least bit concerned.  It was most likely a dairy allergy.  Since it seemed that my older daughter was most sensitive to soy and dairy, I cut those out of my diet first because I wanted to keep breastfeeding her.  We never saw blood in her diaper again.  She outgrew the gurgles and was easy to feed.  I just kept dairy and soy out of my diet to the best of my ability until she was 9-10 months old.  She was fine.

I very rarely pumped and fed her with a bottle.  I didn’t even try using a bottle until she was around three months old.  And technically, I knew I should have been more diligent but I was lucky.  Pretty much the only time she used a bottle was when my mom watched her.  And by some miracle, she drank from the bottle without much strife.  I think she just loved drinking milk, wherever it came from.

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I just loved how warm my little lovely was.  In the early days, there were a few times when she slept with us and she would just sidle up to me, even without much motor control.  It’s amazing what nature enables.  My favorite feeding was the first nursing of the day.  We almost always did this lying down, her little tummy pressed against mine.  Her little legs kicking and pushing against me.  She was just so content and at peace.  She didn’t make a ton of eye contact with me when I was feeding her but I often couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  I remember there were a few times when her big sister would come in the room and the sound of her voice would make Super S smile, eyes closed, still latched on.  It really was the sweetest thing.  And some of my favorite memories of those crazy days of having a newborn and a toddler were of feeding Super S with my feet propped up on the ottoman, Miss K sitting on my legs. The calm that came with the feeding were energizing.  Miss K would say “Sia’s eeeeeeeeeeating.”  She was just a little bitty two year old and Super S would be sleepily and happily filling her little belly.

Maybe the breastfeeding played a role in bringing Super S and I so close together.  She is clearly attached to me, more so than my older daughter.  Even now, she will sleep with her arms clutched around my neck if we lie down together.  She likes to sleep on my face and pull my hair.  It’s aggravating and so incredibly endearing at the same time.  I love this little girl more than I describe.

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At a year old, I was still feeding her twice at night and four times a day.  Then I stretched out the daytime feedings and dropped a night feeding.  Then we accidentally  (but wonderfully!) night weaned her when we left her with my parents for two nights.  I finally was getting some rest!  Hallelujah!  Then, in the next month, I gradually dropped another daytime feeding and was down to just the bedtime and morning feed.  Then we dropped the bedtime feeding and gradually tapered down the morning feeding too.  And here we are.  I didn’t have a plan.  I didn’t know how long I’d be breastfeeding her.  But this weaning has been gradual, feels natural, and hasn’t been too upsetting for her.  And I didn’t have any engorgement issues, clogged ducts, or hormonal surges.  But we’re done and I’m going to miss this part of my life.

Why is this even worth writing about?  Because there is something so special, so precious, so validating about the bond that nourishing one’s child in this way brings.  I was lucky – I’m a stay at home mom.  I had the luxury of not having to pump and was blessed with a good supply of milk, despite my age and lack of fitness.  I could do this with her and I’m so incredibly glad I did.  I’m proud of us.  I’m proud of me.  As wonderful as it is to know that you’re the only one able to provide a milk built so perfectly for this one child, it also meant that the responsibility was 100% on my head.  Five to nine times a day.  No break.  No days off.  But it was worth it.  So to any mom reading this that is considering breastfeeding or is having difficulty with it, I say if you can, stick with it.  It’s not always easy.  It’s not always convenient.  But it’s one of the best things you can do for yourself and for your child.

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Five Things Miss K Said This Week that Melted My Heart

Miss K has always been a sweet girl but lately she’s just been getting me in the gut with her golden heart.  She gets that from her dad.  I sometimes wonder if being her primary caretaker was the absolute best thing for her and when I hear her echoing positive words and sentiment that I say to her, then I think ok…maybe it’s good that she and I are together afterall.  I’ll try not to cry while writing this.

1.  “This was a great dinner.”  I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been having a hard time getting on the same wavelength as the rest of the family and it seems like my husband and Miss K haven’t been enjoying the food I’ve been making lately.  She has no idea how much it meant to me that she said those words.  All I made was some vegan phyllo dough egg rolls, cut up and salted some cucumbers, bell peppers, and radishes, and warmed up some fried rice.  I just want to know that she’s enjoying something I made that’s reasonably healthy for her.

2.  “You can do it, Sia!  I know you can!”  I don’t even remember what Sia was trying to do but she was encouraging her sister without any prompting from me.  I wasn’t even in the room, so I know it came from a pure place.

3.  “I’m proud of you, mommy.”  For what?  “For being so good.  And for playing candy crush saga.”  I love this on so many levels.

4.  I wasn’t sure how my kids would react when I unexpectedly turned on the hose and sprayed water.  50% chance of delight, 50% chance of freak out.  So without realizing she was even listening, I said, “Let’s see if mama’s awesome or mean.”  And bless her heart, she said “She’s AWESOME!!!”

5.  “Don’t worry, Sia!  It’s gonna be alright!  Mommy’s coming back!  She loves you!”  Sometimes Super S flips out when I leave the room and my little bitty three year old took it upon herself to comfort her baby.  And I really love that she told her that I loved her.  Whether she’s just repeating the words or she feels it from my actions, I am just so incredibly thankful and relieved that she believes that I love them.

One other thing happened when I went to pick her up from school today.  Super S sometimes gets really REALLY happy when she sees Miss K since they’ve been separated for a few hours (seriously, it’s like 3 hours and in that time Super S also takes a nap but maybe to her it feels like an eternity?).  Today was one of those days.  She tried jumping out of my arms so she could go and hug her big sister and squealed in delight.  When I put her down, Karina hugged her and kissed her and instantly took a carrot from her lunch and tried feeding it to Super S.  Those interactions just slay me.

Five Things that I should be able to do easily but can’t

So I actually do all of these things – they’re just surprisingly difficult when my littles are around.  It’s the kind of stuff that no one ever tells you about before having kids.

1.  Dishes – since she learned how to crawl, Super S has been super interested in the IMG_20131121_110312dishwasher.  She climbs into the door and sits down and then starts messing with the silverware.  In the process, she gets all wet and I can’t load anything because if I load in the top drawer, she’ll get dripped on and she’s in the way of the bottom drawer.  For the same reason, I can’t unload the dishwasher.  When I do dishes by hand, she always comes up to me and screams to pick her up but I can’t exactly do dishes one-handed.  So then you’d think I’d do them when she’s napping…but we have a one story home and her room is close to the kitchen so it wakes her up.  I’d rather not do dishes at all.

2.  Pee – I know a lot of moms have problems with interruptions or an audience.  Those don’t really bother me much.  What does bother me is that Super S makes a beeline for the bathroom whenever she hears the door open.  It’s like she’s a cat that hears a can opener or me when a bag of fritos opens.  Then she runs in, climbs the wooden step that we have in front of the sink so that Miss K can wash her hands, and then stands there looking at me like “Bitch, what are you just sitting there for?  Turn on the water.”  Since I’m peeing, I just look at her.  That just angers the beast more and she starts grunting like an ape “HOO HOO HOO!”  Of course I’m concerned about her safety too but the worst part is trying to leave the bathroom.  I have to pick her up and physically remove her.  And then all hell breaks loose.  She acts like I took her best friend and ate her.  Crying, throwing body on the floor, banging on the bathroom door, all of it.  It’s awesome.  I’m considering staying in a constant state of dehydration just to avoid it.

3.  Sweep – This should be easy, right?  Wrong.  Both my kids have a crush on the toddler-helping-1broom.  They want to use it and hug it and take it with them everywhere.  So they both get all grabby and try to get it from me or from each other.  Usually it ends up in fistacuffs.  Once that’s settled, and everyone’s calm, I take the broom back and attempt to sweep because they’ve finally lost interest.  This only resparks the interest.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Then they finally give up and then just run through the dirt pile or in Super S’ case, forage for food in the dirt pile.  Sometimes Miss K wants to help so she tries but it ends up making more of a mess, kind of like the picture above.  I love crappypictures.com, by the way.  Hilarious.

4.  Fold Blankets – For some reason, folding blankets in front of my kids is futile.  Not only will they grab the blanket while I’m attempting to fold them, but they’ll inevitably fall (I don’t know what they think will happen when they go running into the blanket but it always ends up with a little girl falling on her face).  And even then, I’m ninja.  I manage to fold the blanket.  But I walk away and come back and the blanket is unfolded and thrown on the floor.  I don’t know if it’s an eff you to me or if they think they need to show the blanket who’s boss but 9 times out of 10, if I fold a blanket in front of them, it ends up on the floor within minutes.

5.  Open the refrigerator.  Or close the refrigerator for that matter.  If I open it,IMG_20140130_161044 Super S will come running and will start touching everything.  The other day the two of them were foraging in the the refrigerator – Miss K opened it, Super S assisted and I don’t know what happened but there was maple syrup all over the floor afterwards.  I almost lost it.  Miss K eats butter, Super S eats anything she can get her hands on and GOD FORBID I attempt to close it while they’re looking.  I love how Miss K. is holding a bag of bread in this picture.  They were pilfering grapes.  I actually find this really cute.  And not energy conservation friendly.  And sadly more work because usually it ends with some sort of food on the floor.

Teaching Kids About Being Kind

bekindOne thing that’s great about kids is that they have genuine actions.  Typically when they’re really little, if they do something nice, it comes from the heart.  They’re not trying to manipulate or get on your good side or get something out of it; it’s just their nature coming through.  I love it when my 13 month old baby tries to feed me food.  The smile on her face is priceless.  It’s her version of being kind.  She’s giving her food to me.  When she was barely two, I bought my older daughter a placemat.  I showed it to her and the first question she asked was “Where’s baby Sia’s?”  That came from a genuinely kind and thoughtful place.  I’m concerned that as they get older, they will fall out of the habit of being kind or that they’ll take kindness for granted.  So here are a few ways to teach kids how to be kind:

1.  Lead through example.  There is no better way to teach kindness than to live it and model it for your kids.  If they see it in action, they will adapt it into their own lives because it’s just what you do.  And after you’ve done something for someone else, explain to them why.  For example, if you stop to help someone put away their groceries, afterwards, tell your child that the person “needed help because the groceries were heavy and it’s a good thing we were able to help them!”

2.  Talk about kindness DAILY.  Maybe it’s dinner conversation – “Did anyone see any kindness in the world today?”  Maybe it’s telling them about something kind that someone did for you.  Use the words “appreciate, kind, considerate, out of their way, nice, thoughtful” and describe how it felt to receive or give the kind act.  Ask them about what they did today that was kind.

3.  Make it a point to recognize when someone does something kind.  Especially the child.  Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce.  I find myself telling my child that I’m proud of her often.  Lately she’s been asking me why and I try to make sure I tell her that I’m proud of her kind heart and then give her examples.  When she shares with her sister, I tell her that it was a kind thing to do.  It feels good to be recognized and if it encourages her to do it again, then I’m in!

4.  Make suggestions.   You can’t force kids to be kind but you can help them find ways to do so.  I’ve noticed that if I say “Miss K, baby is crying.  Go give her a toy.” usually there is some dismissal or even pushback.  It seems to be a lot smoother if I say something like “Oh no!  Baby is sad!  Do you think she would feel better if you gave her a toy?”  Coming up  ideas and letting the child choose gives them the chance to own the act of being kind.

5.  Find ways to be kind together.  My daughter and I were at Costco once and there was a handicapped woman trying to get some paper towels into her cart but was clearly struggling.  When we turned the aisle and we saw her, I said to my daughter “She looks like she could use some help, should we go see if she would like some help?” And the enthusiastic “Yes!  We should help her!” was amazing.

An amazing example of teaching children about kindness comes from a dear high school friend’s family.  They sadly had to cope with the devastation of having a still born son.   I cannot begin to fathom the pain they’ve been through.  I believe that if it were me, I would shut down and close myself off to the world.  That I would have a hard time understanding why the world was so awful.  Instead, this beautiful family has taken their grief and turned it into something beautiful.  Check them out here.  This family of four goes around doing random acts of kindness to honor their son, Dylan.  They’ve made donations to the L&D ward at their local hospital, paid for fellow diners’ meals, handed out Krispy Kreme gift cards, and brought treats for nurses and firemen.  The best part is that they involve their two sons in this and their sons genuinely seem to enjoy it and get joy from it.

They really serve as inspiration to me. And today is the Vernal Equinox so I think a celebration is in order.  I’m going to challenge myself to do something kind everyday for a month.  I’ll report back.  Wish me luck.

Sia’s Strawberry Birthday Party

A few weeks ago we had a first birthday party for Super S.  After hemming and hawing over it for a while, I finally agreed with my husband that we’d have it at the same amusement park we had her big sister’s first party.  I picked a strawberry theme this time and had fun putting together a few personal touches.  I loved seeing my little ones (and all the other beloved littles in my life) have a good time.  Super S did great – I don’t remember her crying or fussing at all.  Amazing.  And my sweet little girl had a long day.  She played and skipped her usual nap.  She was with her grandparents for awhile but when I picked her up, she fell asleep on my shoulder.  It was a fun day but that may have been my favorite part.  A big thank you to my little sister, Neha, for shooting over 400 pictures of the party.  Love ya -thank you!

I found this outfit and couldn’t resist putting the little birthday girl in it.  It’s from Gymboree and I especially loved the strawberry tutu and headband:

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Big sister wore a navy blue/white polka dot dress with strawberry accents, a headband that matched the colors in our theme (red, pink, and green), and strawberry socks.

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Here’s a picture of our wonderful family:

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We had a white cake with a light whipped topping layered with strawberries in between (I cheated and just got it from the grocery store bakery).  I decorated it with lady fingers tied with a ribbon and fresh strawberries on top.

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I also baked some decadent chocolate mini bundt cakes and made a Nutella ganache for the top.  I then topped the bundt cakes with fresh fanned strawberries.  Yum.

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I think baby wants some cake!

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I did some simple skewers with green grapes and more strawberries.  As basic as they were, they were a huge hit!  The kids all ate them and I actually ran out!

IMG_5160I think Daddy wanted to eat the birthday girl.

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I made a fabric scrap banner and hung it at the party.

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Instead of doing the bags o’ crap favors I had done for the last two birthday parties we had thrown, I decided to do something a little greener and I’m actually very happy with the way they turned out.  I bought strawberry plants from Home Depot and potted them in these adorable pink and red striped buckets from the dollar spot at Target (we were lucky – Super S’ birthday is right before Valentine’s day).  I hand wrote care instructions on the back of printables that I got from designingforpeanuts on Etsy.  By the way, she was incredibly fast; I had my printables within 30 minutes of putting in my order.  The tags were fastened with some green ribbon with strawberries on it that I picked up from Michaels.

I attached a flag from some free printables I found online to a striped paper straw, also from Bakers Stock, and wrote each guest’s name on it.  Stuck that in the pot with the plant.

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I also made some strawberry shaped lollipops from a mold and candy melts.  I’m really happy with the way they turned out, especially since I had never made lollipops before!  I wrapped them in cellophane and tied them with with bakers twine in pink/white, red/white and green/white (ya I got these from Bakers Stock too!  Can you tell I heart that site???). Apologies to the parents of the guests for all the sugar!

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We filled some cupcake liners (also from Bakers Stock) with Strawberry Hi-Chews and put them out on the favors table.  I love those!

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All in all, I’m happy with the way things went.  More than anything, though, I’m happy my little girl was happy.  Thanks for coming to my party!

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My baby kinda looks like…(the 2014 edition)

Back by popular demand (not really, I think I’m the only one amused by this), I present to you: “My Second Baby Kinda Looks Like…”  A little background on this.  A couple years ago I used to amuse myself by posting pictures of my little one and what she reminded me of.  So my baby kinda looked like Wolverine one day and her Fisher Price Seahorse the next.  My mind is always turning on that but I’ll admit I haven’t had the creative juices flowing enough to keep up with it on a weekly basis like I did for a while.  Now I have a second baby and a whole new type gatorade to quench my thirst for ridiculousness.  So here we go:

My second baby kinda looks like…

George Dub-ya (only smarter.  and possibly more aware of what’s going on in the world.)  ZING!  Heyo!

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she just needs a soccer ball and some cleats.  

P3060029…she’s flipping me off and saying “Oh ya?  Well take THIS!”

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