Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kind Words

Those of you who have been following along with this blog for awhile, or who have had discussions with me about grocery shopping with kids will know that I don't always have high opinions of a trip for food while surrounded by large numbers of the elderly. I generally feel like they make a mis-behaving child 100x worse. Most of them appear as though your presence in the store is making their trip a hassle, so no mercy for you/your child, just scorn. Or they give you that look that says: "what is that?!?" while their eyes bore a laser beam of disdain into your child. This is only magnified if your child happens to be having, well, a toddler moment. Few seem to realize that they were themselves young parents (and young children) at one point, and that others showed them grace at that time. (As an aside, I do love to be shopping with a bunch of middle-aged parents, for they seen t0 most often possess a charitable combination of remembrance and compassion, driven by having endured such days in the past while having moved on to other parenting struggles.)

However, every so often a person seems to be divinely sent to a particular place in your life just to speak to you where you're at right then, and today for me that person was an elderly lady in a grocery store. At the end of an already-too-long shopping trip, both kids were acting out. To make matters worse, I'd forgotten a couple of necessary items and had decided that due to scanner malfunctions, it was late enough I needed to get something for "lunch" as well. So, I committed the first parental faux-pas of grocery shopping. The "I don't need a cart because it's only a few items" one--if you've done it you've probably lived to regret it. Anyway, Lydia (my usually calm and well-behaved grocery shopper) wanted to be down and running all over, and was kicking her feet in protest at being held, and during the mayhem Joshua slipped off and began choosing items of interest to him. (If you're thinking candy, pop, junk food, you're on the right track...) When I finally convinced him to come back by me (in none too sweet of a tone) he started to make his way over, but got distracted right in front of an older couple. He was completely blocking their path, and I was sure they were none too pleased by it.

So, I pulled him back to my side and told him "Joshua, you can't just run without looking in a store. Those people are shopping and they're probably in a hurry, but you're standing in front of them and they can't move." I tried to escape with a quick "sorry" and moved on down the aisle. At this point I was truly ready to drop my items, skip the checkout, and leave without the items I'd forgotten, because I was highly stressed and close to tears. It's in those moments that parenting feels truly overwhelming. And that's when it happened.

The poor woman who Joshua had been totally obstructing walked over to where we were now picking out items and in the process totally changed the course of my day. She laid her hand on my shoulder, gave me a smile and said: "We are not in a hurry, you are not in the way. On the contrary, we are just watching, admiring. You (moms) do the hardest, most thankless job every day, and you do it with grace and beauty. Thank you!" I managed a 'thank you' of my own with tears in my eyes and she went on her way. But I was left humbled and grateful. I've never met the woman before, I can't thank her in any other way, so I will share her story. I know many times I am too quick to judge others and I hope I can be more like this woman, giving grace and encouragement at times of need, not just when people seem "deserving." Remember, she'd just witnessed one of my not-so-finest moments of motherhood: raising my voice, feeling out of control, two tantruming/disobeying children, and yet she saw the spirit and not the circumstances. Wow!

I have no idea if this woman knows Jesus, but she became the example of Jesus in the world through her actions today. There is no doubt in my mind that it is this type of behavior we are supposed to illustrate each and every day, speaking and serving the least of these in our daily lives. I have been blessed. May I remember to share this simple, yet meaningful blessing with others as I go throughout my life!

Proverbs 12: 25 'An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.'

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekly Menus


Ok, so I've been doing this the past few weeks and it's amazing how much time/stress it's saved to just pick dinner entrees ahead of time. There have been several days I just haven't felt like making what was on the menu, and that's fine with me, I like to think I'm spontaneous at times. However, not having to try to think something up starting at 3pm has been well worth it.

Today while browsing recipes, I found a link to this blog carnival. So I figured, why not, I'll participate. Besides, I could win a cool prize off of Etsy. Man, I love Etsy! (On an Etsy note, stay tuned, both of our moms have shoppes on Etsy, so I'm contemplating some type of post/giveaway, etc. that would feature them)

Anyway, without further ado, here's my meal plan:
(Sorry the recipes don't link yet, this week most of my recipes are from Eating Well magazine, so I can't link them. Maybe if I get a lot of time I'll check their site and see if they're online as well. If something looks really good, leave me a comment, or email me and I'll pass the recipe along.)

Monday: Marinated Steak with Balsamic-Red Wine Reduction, cheesy mashed potatoes, asian green beans and Creamy almond cheesecake. (We had a kid-free dinner! yay!)

Tuesday: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Wednesday: Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Pasta

Thursday: Leftover Night

Friday: MuShu Tofu

Saturday: Roasted Chicken Quesadillas

Cold and Warm

video

It is cold, cold, cold here in Wisconsin, AGAIN! This will probably be the story from now until the end of February. :( No one told us when we moved here that the reason we get less snow that Michigan is because it's honestly too cold to snow for much of the last half of the winter. Anyway, enough about that, we may be crazy, but we wouldn't want to live anywhere besides the upper mid-west, so we're OK with it.

Since it's so cold here, I thought I'd go ahead and post a couple of the videos I mentioned, because they certainly bring a smile to my face and warm me up inside!

The first video is of Lydia blowing kisses to her daddy. She does this often now whenever one of us is going somewhere and I find it absolutely precious. She's finally mastered the kissing sound, so they're getting pretty real. Although kisses that are actually applied to your face are still pretty sloppy!

The second video highlights one of Joshua's b-day presents and if you're between the ages of 25 and 35, I guarantee you'll recognize the song without any intro. Check out Joshua's dance moves...and then believe me when I say, the child has NEVER seen MC Hammer's original video. (Ok, this is no longer true, James showed it to him after seeing him bust out his own moves...but when the video was taken, he'd never even heard the song before the car started playing it.) Both kids LOVE to dance with the car and fights literally break out at our house over who gets to play with it!

Anyway, stay warm and enjoy!

video

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why I (Usually) Buy Name Brand

As many of you know, I've rarely met a bargain I didn't like. I really enjoy hunting for one and the satisfied feeling I get when I've found one. I also like grocery shopping, for real! This is probably mostly due to the fact that I typically find at least a couple of bargains while I'm there. In fact, since starting to purchase my own groceries, better than five years ago now, I've pretty much stopped making my grocery purchases based on what we're having to eat that week (with the exception of dairy and produce, of course) and instead making a list based on what's truly on sale. I have a fairly well-stocked pantry, so if we're having pasta, I've already purchased that when it was a good deal and I don't have to pay full price.

Significantly improving my ability to shop ahead is my chest freezer. My parents gave us one when we bought this house and if it were to die now, we'd immediately go out and purchase another, it saves us that much!

Anyway, all this to say that I'm going to post about my grocery shopping trip from yesterday, so if that type of thing bores you, it might be time to look away. But, this was probably one of my best trips ever, so I'd like to record it for my own personal memory, and I figured it might interest a couple of you in the process. If not, I'll be back with something more kid-focused later this week. We just got a Flip, so look for videos coming soon!

Without further ado here's a picture of my table after I unloaded my groceries from yesterdays shopping:


What would you guess I paid for all that stuff? (As a note, I realize it looks like I went crazy on the oatmeal and cereal purchases--however, both James and I eat oatmeal for breakfast nearly everyday, I make my own granola, and I have two kids 3 and under, so Cheerios go FAST! Same it true of the string cheese...)

Are you ready...wait for it...here it comes....
$41.53
Yep, that's right, just barely over forty dollars for:
2 gallons of milk
1/2 gallon of orange juice
54 pieces of string cheese
6 boxes multi-grain Cheerios
1 box Honey Kix
1 (1lb.) package tofu
1 (4lb) whole chicken
3 boxes Kraft Mac'n Cheese
4 cans Campbell's tomato soup
5 (8 pack) boxes Quaker instant oatmeal
5 (2 1/2lb) cans Quaker old fashioned oats
3lbs. fresh broccoli
1 (2lb) can of organic whole-milk yogurt
3 (6 pack) boxes of Nature Valley granola bars
And that's why as a general rule I buy name brand. If you're just running into the grocery store to pick up something quickly, it's true that the store brand will almost always be at least a few cents cheaper (sometimes a lot). However, they rarely go on a truly good sale, while if you watch carefully, name brands will usually be on sale at nearly 1/2 price (or more!) at least a few times per year. And, it's nearly impossible to find coupons for store brands, while there are some very valuable coupons out there for the name brands. Combine that with double coupon days (Wednesdays where we live) and you can really find a deal. In fact, I actually made $3 on those 5 boxes of instant oatmeal packets!
Aslo, completly off topic, but because I can't stop laughing about it, according to Joshua a few minutes ago, the past tense of 'make' is not 'made', it is "moke." As in "Look mommy, I just moke a tent out of a blanket and that chair!"

Monday, January 19, 2009

No More Pacis?

We're in the midst of trying to end Joshua's three-year love affair with his pacifier. It's not exactly going well. He's OK with the idea of being done with a paci, but when it comes to bedtime or when he falls down, etc. it's another story.
So, we've used a tip I received way back when and stored for future use: cut the tip off the paci nipple and it won't have the same soothing sucking feel. Well, this is probably true, but it doesn't seem to put him off in the least. (Probably because I don't think he uses it for sucking really at all, just for the comfort of having it in his mouth.
Furthermore, when he doesn't have his paci he's started putting his hand/fingers in his mouth and chewing/biting on them--at times leaving lasting marks or cuts by the time he's finished.
So, I guess my questions are these: Should I even care that he still has a pacifier? He's only three, certainly big enough to give it up, but not embarrassingly old. If I do take it away, any ideas on how to make the transition easier? Truly, I'm scared of taking them away cold-turkey, especially after recently talking to a friend with a daughter very close to Joshua's age who "took" her little girl's thumb "away" and promptly started having bedtime battles and a daughter who has refused to nap for going on a month now!
If you have any wisdom in this area, I'm all ears. I don't want to do anything cruel and I'm opposed to lying to him about it, but beyond that I'm open to just about anything.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Little Snowmen!

As most (if not all) of you reading this know, my kiddos have their birthdays just two days apart. So, last Thursday Lydia turned one, and on Saturday Joshua celebrated number three. Most of the time it seems impossible to believe that they're that old already, yet I can't really fully remember my life before kids!
In addition to being close together on the calendar, the kids birthdays are also really close to the holidays and it becomes difficult (or impossible) for our families to join us for a celebration here in Wisconsin around the actual birthdays, so we usually celebrate with them when we see them for Christmas.
So, by the time the kids' party rolled around on Saturday, Lydia was quite the seasoned veteran of the singing and candle-blowing routine. I'm continually amazed by how rapidly connections are forming for her these days and usually amused in the process. For instance, whenever she sees cake or cupcakes (or objects that resemble them) she's coined her own "baby sign" and quickly starts making a blowing noise she used to put out her candle!
Joshua, of course, fully understands all that birthdays entail a bit more, so each day since Christmas he's been asking us how many days until his birthday. He was SO excited to have a party with all of his friends, and talked about it for days before it actually happened. He helped pick out items to put into treat bags and also helped me assemble them. He had imput on the food served and dreamed about what might come in his presents. Before having kids I had no idea that three year olds were such interactive, aware, and opinionated little people!
Saturday, the big day FINALLY rolled around and we were joined by quite a few of our closest friends to celebrate with the kids. Snowmen were the theme and I was quite pleased with how their cake turned out. I always see these great (and supposedly easy to re-create) cakes on parenting magazine websites, etc. and yet when I've tried them in the past, they've turned out poorly. So, I was pleasantly surprised at how true-to-plan this one went together. :) Also a bonus, this close to Christmast time you can get a great deal on snowman themed partywear, too! I could write more, but I have a feeling that most of my readership was either at one of the family celebrations or at the party itself, so I'll just go ahead and post some pictures of my favorite new 1 and 3 year olds!

Busy little artists creating snowman masterpieces


Joshua and some friends in the 'snowcave'



So Excited!


Apparently the idea that the cradle is for the baby-doll is lost on her


Getting ready to frosting coat Aunt Laura


Blowing out the candles at Gigi and Poppas


Getting ready to frosting coat Aunt Angie

Helping Uncle Matt decorate the cake at Marmie and Gramps'

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Baby Girl, the Chatterbox

Lydia is so expressive these days. She's just such a little girl all of a sudden. I'm missing my baby, but so excited to see her little personality emerge. She's had a language explosion over the past couple of weeks, so I thought I'd post them here and hopefully have a record of the cute new words, instead of forgetting them like I told myself I never would and promptly did with Joshua!



"Noo!"

"Baw" (Ball)

"Hi!"

"Ot" (Hot)

"Gup" (Cup)

"Bom" (Boom)

"Boo-poo" (Poo-Poo)

"Mo" (More)

"A Dun" (All Done)

"Dad-dee" (Daddy)

"Mama"

"Sha-Sha" (Joshua)

"Bye-Bye"

"Kaka" (Cracker)

"Wuv-oo" (Love you)

"Dat" or "Dat-un" (That or That one)

"Uh-oh"

"Ni-ni" (good-night or nurse)

"Bee" (baby)

"Ba" (bath)

"Woh-Woh" (Hello, hello-- said when she finds anything that is or resembles a phone)

"Na-Na" (Banana)