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Monday, September 23, 2013

My kids might be aliens

I read a lot of blogs. And almost all of them are written by other moms, most with multiple kids.
Hats off and awards to those I read that have 4+ kids. Yikes. How do you do it??

When I read these blogs, I react strangely to what I read about the kids.
I read about kids who won't eat anything remotely healthy.
I read about kids who refuse to go to bed.
I read about kids that throw tantrums over the smallest things.
I read about siblings that declare all out war on each other each and every day.

And when I read these posts, I always end up thinking to myself, "something is wrong with my kids".

Please, don't shoot me for what I am about to write.
I know it will sound strange to some and like outright lies to others.
I am not posting it to brag or make any other mom feel inferior.
I can assure you, I'm just as weirded out as you might be. They freak me out at times.
And I live with it, every single day.

1) My kids aren't picky with food.
Button used to be picky but somehow, we broke that behavior.
And no, it wasn't easy.
The kid wouldn't eat a lot of stuff, including PB&J.
But we kept at her and eventually, maybe due to the fact that Peanut will eat almost anything, she caved and started eating the way we preferred.
They both eat salmon, grilled or baked chicken, couscous, squash, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, apples, all fruits (although Button doesn't really like blueberries), and wheat bread. They eat a lot more than that but for the sake of your reading time, we will end the list there.

Button has even gotten to where she will repeatedly try a food, although she might still hate it.
(Example: It took me a few years of variations before I finally got my cornbread dressing to taste the way I wanted it to... like my grandmother used to make. But each time, Button did try it. She didn't like it and told me so. But she kept at it. When I finally got the damn recipe perfect, she told me she loved it.
Deviled eggs are a different story. She tries them every single year. And every single year, she hates them. Maybe that will change when she's older?)

2) My kids don't throw tantrums in public.
Yes, Peanut did throw a few at school but it usually had to do with her not expressing anger in a better way, which she has finally learned to do.

Each kid has thrown ONE tantrum each while in public:
Button did it before I knew her, in Target. According to my husband, she sat her chunky 2 1/2 year old butt down in an aisle and proceeded to raise hell. My husband and her bio mom walked away, around the corner so she couldn't see them. Within 20 seconds, she stopped crying and got up to find them.
She has never done it again.

Peanut did it after I moved here. We were at Cub grocery shopping and she spotted bananas in the buggy. (Please, I am from the south. I have never called them carts and I never will. Chalk it up to a southern thang and move along.) Peanut wanted a banana. She wanted it right then and there. She was not listening to the reasoning behind not giving it to her. She didn't care that it had to be weighed and paid for before consuming. She.Just.Wanted.It.
She threw one hell of a fit.
Good lord. It was awful. From produce all the way to frozen goods, she wailed. She kicked her legs. She made me wonder what in the hell I had gotten myself into moving in with 2 kids.
An elderly lady smiled at me and told me not to worry, it happened to every mom. I informed her it was over a banana and she looked bewildered.
My husband finally took her outside at checkout while Button and I stayed inside.

Happy as hell to say that the child has NEVER done it again.

3) My kids don't get up at the butt crack of dawn. 
Not anymore, at least.

When I first moved here, they got up on their own by 6:30 am, an ungodly hour to me, a lifelong night owl. They were loud because they couldn't be bothered to think that other people in the house might want to sleep in. They were hungry. They were bored. They wanted to go outside.
Meanwhile, I once again pondered what I had gotten myself into.

We managed to break that habit.
No, it wasn't overnight.
No, it sure as hell wasn't easy.
Yes, I was almost committed during said habit breaking.

A few years later, we can get them to stay in bed until someone comes to get them up.
There have been times that they've stayed in bed, asleep, until noon. (Told you, night owls.)

4) My kids don't fight with each other.
Yeah, they are totally aliens. I know tons of siblings that cannot get through one day without bickering or hurting each other. My own nieces have left scars on each other with fingernails.

But my kids don't do that.
Sure, Peanut and her temper used to wail on Button occasionally.
Peanut would be 'done' playing with her sister and expected to Button to read her mind. When Button didn't get the hint magically, Peanut would smack her with  Magna-Doodle. Or bite her. Or smack her. Or kick her.
Button never once retaliated. Instead, she curled into a ball and started to cry.
She never stood up for herself, which most big sisters will do.
(Yes, she was/is a bit of a doormat. We are working on it.)

Peanut stopped physically hurting Button when she was around 4, so in the last 3 years, there's been not a hint of physical violence.
And you will rarely hear either kid tell the other one off for being annoying.
I think I'd prefer they fight.
Some of you just spit out your drink, right? You're thinking, 'what the hell is wrong with you? Do you realize how good you have it?'.
Bear with me here while I explain.

I want my children to be able to express their emotions. Whether they are happy, mad, sad, frustrated, giddy, jealous, or pissed off, I want them to be able to express those emotions in healthy ways.
There are right ways and wrong ways to express any emotion. And learning as a child to express these emotions in the proper ways should be easier for them as adults.

The problem? Button doesn't express anything but happy and sad.
Any other time, she clams up and lives in her head.
She has allowed other people to hurt her for years and never expressed the emotion you'd think she'd express. (In 1st grade, her 'friend' would find her every single day on the playground and step on her fingers. Every day. And not once did Button get angry. Hell, she still called this kid her friend!)

And she's missing anger totally. No, I have never once seen this kid angry.
All of those times that Peanut was mean to her, broke her toys, made her feel bad... never once did she get angry. I am starting to think that she's not capable of  feeling that emotion.
And that worries me. At times, it's easier to deal and move past anger. Sadness has a way of staying in your heart and head forever. In my experience, being sad all of the time makes you feel worse whereas feeling anger can help you to deal with things and not appear to be a doormat.

No, I don't want her to have a terrible temper.
No, I don't want her to scream and lash out all of the time.
But if someone hurts her on purpose, I want her to be able to stand up for herself. And anger helps you do that, not sadness.

Personal experience: I was a doormat in junior high and high school. I cried a lot due to the constant bullying bestowed upon me by the majority of my grade. I never stood up for myself. I retreated inside my own head and ended up miserable.

A few years after high school, I ran into a guy from my school. He ended up calling me a bitch at some point, although I cannot remember why or how it came up. It bothered me.
So I asked my BFF at the time, a guy I'd known a few years, closest thing to a brother I will ever have, if I was in fact a bitch.
His reply: 'You can be, when you feel threatened or wronged. But when I first met you, you were a doormat and people hurt you constantly. I'd much rather you be a bitch when needed than watch people walk all over you.'

I would much rather have my girls be strong and stand up for themselves than be cowering in a corner crying over any little thing that goes wrong.

Yep, my kids are strange.
And let's face it... numbers 1, 2, & 3 really don't bother me at all.
But number 4 keeps me awake some nights, depending on what happened that day.
I worry about my girls and am trying to help them find the balance needed to deal with the plethora of emotions that they will most likely encounter in their lives.

How about you? Do your kids do something that makes most other moms stare at you in disbelief?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trip through a forest and then into a zoo

Yesterday, Button had an event in the morning at a park in the Twin Cities.
Since Peanut did not have a the same event, we planned to walk around said park and take pictures of little one so that I can learn how to get my camera into Manual mode and leave it there.

But it was raining.
We sat in the car wondering what in the hell to do for the next TWO HOURS.
I had my husband search for the nearest Payless so that I could get ballet shoes for Halloween that will make my little Peanut the cutest little butterfly fairy ever.
Luckily, said Payless was less than 20 minutes away.
Yeah, that killed less than an hour.

Did I mention I was tired?
I didn't have a chance to work out before we left so I was half asleep.
No time to make coffee either since I rolled out of bed, sprinted to get clothes on, and then lef the house hoping traffic didn't suck.

We drove around for what seemed like days but in reality, it was maybe half an hour.
When we got back to the park, we still had half an hour to go before the class let out.
LUCKILY, it has stopped raining.
So my husband and I took Peanut on a walk in the forest.
Said forest was really nice. Great park.
And I imagine it'll be even more beautiful next month when the leaves are changing.

On the path, I spotted this off to the side and Peanut was giddy with glee:

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that the park officials did this.
(Funnily enough, Button walked the same path more than once and never saw it. Nope, being observant isn't her strong suit.)

Finally Button was ready to go.
We stopped at Sonic to chow down before heading over to the Como Zoo for the next class, which both kids were attending. Luckily, it was a drop-off event so my husband and I had some alone, grown up time. We hit up a bead store in St. Paul that I had been wanting to check out. It took 7 minutes to get there and 7 to get back. Yeah, we had some time to kill.

So, we walked around the zoo.
It was the first time that I had been to the zoo at Como (I attended a wedding in the conservatory a couple of years ago). And since it was Wednesday, midday, there wasn't a crowd. (4 buses of kids on a field trip were leaving just as we pulled back in, thank god.)

But with less crowds, there was less to eat.
And by less, I mean nothing was open.
Which I hated. Cause going to the zoo means eating some junk food, right?

I got to see the animals and it was decent weather, although the humidity left by the rain made me and the girls look like we had Chia hair.
We collected the girls after the class and hit up the gift shop. (We buy them pencils and a shirt for every place they go, like zoos, aquariums, and touristy places.)

We hit hella rush hour traffic on 94 trying to get back to the other side of town. (I don't see how people drive that stretch everyday. I'd go postal. I was bad enough when I had classes at St. Thomas and had to drive thru it a few days a week.)
By the time we got home, I was ready to go to sleep before dinner.
But we still had math to do and some spelling/writing.
I think I made it to 11 something and then totally crashed.

It was a fun but exhausting day. 
The kids had fun and I got to see penguins:

Disney is coming to St. Paul!

My girls love anything Disney. Their first trip last year was a huge hit. So much of a hit that they asked before we even left "when can we come back?".

Well, it seems a little Disney is coming to them!

Grab your tiaras and doubloons and join us for Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure. Mickey and Minnie are taking their seats too at this never-before-seen live show featuring your favorite characters from Disney Junior's hit series, Sofia the First and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Get swept up in the excitement as Sofia and her family prepare for a royal celebration that helps us all learn the true meaning of being a princess with a special appearance from Cinderella. Then it's off to Never Land where Jake and his swashbuckling friends Izzy and Cubby, with a little help from Peter Pan, battle Captain Hook to unlock treasure hidden inside a mysterious volcano. It's danger and dueling on the high seas as Jake discovers what it takes to be a true hero. Filled with new music, amazing effects, thrilling action and endless surprises, your whole family will sing, shout, and soar into the action when Disney Junior Live On Tour! Pirate & Princess Adventure sails into your hometown.

Special Bonus! 
Starting ten minutes before every performance join loveable Doc McStuffins for a special pre-show! You can help Doc take care of one of her beloved toys with her own special brand of love and magic. Free to all ticket holders.

My Readers can Save $4 using code: FAM4. Not valid on VIP or VIP floor seats. No double discounts. Service charges, handling and facility fees may apply. Get Your Tickets Today!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hawking my stuff wherever I can

"Jewelry takes people's minds off your wrinkles."- Sonja Henie

I've always had a fascination with jewelry. When I was a teen, I had more earrings than I could wear in a month. And the more they dangled, the more I had to have them.

I still love jewelry but I found that I was having issues finding what I really wanted in stores.
Either I hated the colors used but loved the design or vice versa.
Or I didn't want to pay 200 bucks for a string of gems.

So I did the only thing I could do... I started making my own.
And I love doing it.
It feels so good to come up with an idea, put my time and energy into it, and see the mental picture come to life.

I opened an Etsy store over a year ago but I didn't keep up with it much. At the time, I didn't even know I could make a FB page for the business.Now, I'm in hit for keeps.

I changed the name because the old one wasn't catchy. It didn't roll off the tongue well enough.
And when I tried coming up with a new name?
Took me a flapping month or more. I am just not that great at naming stuff like that.
I suck at it.

One night, it just sort of pooped into my head.
I love to travel.
I'm a chick.
I design jewelry.

And then came making up a new logo, which actually took less time than I thought it would.
The logo makes me smile, especially since my 'gal' has coffee and a suitcase. It's just me.

Last night, I finally got around to adding items back into the shop.
Since I don't feel like trying to keep up with an additional blog, I figure new items can be featured here on this one. (I tend to be lazy and that makes life easier for me.)

So, here's a peak at what's listed as of this post:

The above earrings and bracelet were made to match butterfly the necklace.

I'll be adding more as soon as I can. I am particularly proud of a pendant that I hand sponge painted with nail polish to match the beads in the necklace. I love it.

If you like sparkly things, bounce by the shop:

You could also hop over to FB and make me a happy, happy lady by liking the page:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Let's get it started!

HA! Let's get it started... in here!
Whoops. Like I'll ever get that out of my head today.

It's Monday.
And it's before noon.
And I'm up.
And I worked out.

Holy crap.
Who am I?

I am a teacher, starting today.
That's right... we're homeschooling.

It's our very first day and the kids are actually excited to do some work.
Yes, they like school work.
No, they are not robots.
Yes, we are sure. (Maybe.)

As of right now, we are sure that we made the best decision for our kids at this point in their lives. The last thing that my husband and I want to do is screw them up mentally.
But only time will tell. (And now, I'll be singing an oldie but goodie from the Nelson boys.)

So, here we are, doing school in our pajamas.
(Admit it, the pajama thing is making you jealous, isn't it?)

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Delicioso- Coffee of the Month

My best friend and I LOVE coffee. And we both love a particular creamer that I wrote about here.

For a time, she could actually find Caribou Coffee in her local stores but that seems to have changed. (Possibly due to Caribou selling the company to some German company that doesn't make coffee. I don't know.)

In the past, my husband and I have taken coffee to her when we visit.
On planes, it was in our carry-on luggage.
In the car, we've got a bag with 2 varieties of grounds making the car smell delicious on our trip down south.

I've always joked with her that I should just send coffee in the mail and she could be in a sort of coffee of the month club.
Well, the joke became reality... and still a joke.

Last week, we picked up some coffee for her at the local 'Bou. And they had a great mug that we thought she'd like. But when it came time to pack it up, I just couldn't close the box and send it off without a little something extra.

I made up a 'newsletter' from Delicioso- Coffee of the Month Club.
And it was sweet.
And by sweet, I mean it was hysterical. I made that shiz sound official and such, including making sure to describe the new coffee she was receiving.
(The name is a joke with us and has been for years. Neither of us speaks Spanish. But for years, we would take a random 'o' to a word and make it sound Spanish. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that 'delicioso' is actually how to say 'delicious' in Spanish.)

The letter:

Hello Manda!
     Welcome to your first of many coffee gifts! We are so pleased to be able to share with you your favorite Caribou coffee and hopefully some new favorites.
     We have reviewed your requests and made a note of your likes and dislikes when it comes to your daily cups of java. Rest assured that we shall only be sending you light roast coffees that contain as much caffeine as you can handle. We understand that a woman is only as happy as her coffee is caffeinated.
     Enjoy this month’s offerings, Daybreak Morning Blend and Costa Rica Sombra del Poro. Costa Rica has flavors of semi-sweet chocolate and black cherries and a bold creamy texture.
     Please don’t hesitate to send us feedback when it comes to your monthly coffee deliveries. If you are not satisfied with anything at all, please let us know. With your input, we can build your coffee profile and have a guide for future months.
     Again, welcome to Delicioso! And remember, life without coffee ends the life of those around us.

And then it was signed from us. 
But I didn't stop there.
I just couldn't.
That's not me.

There's another joke we have together. Years ago, she made the comment that certain mugs were right-handed or left-handed mugs depending on the side of the mug with the design. It's a joke that never dies and we never let her forget it.

This mug that I sent her had a main design on the front and a small design on the back. So she got this little insert stuffed down in the mug:

Please accept this mug as a
‘welcome to the club’ gift!
We at Delicioso know that a
great mug can make the coffee
drinking experience even better.
And we know that coffee aficionados
are different in most ways so the
mug we have included can be for a
righty or a lefty, since the design is
on both sides. Take comfort in
knowing that your mug can be
a right-handed or
left-handed mug!

I got it all typed up and sealed the box.
We shipped it Wednesday and then the waiting game started.
I was dying. Mainly because I had been planning this for a week before I actually did it.

Friday comes and I am waiting all day to get a phone call.
But her girls had a football game that night (they are in Color Guard this year) so she was rushed after work.

Finally late last night, I get a text:
"I got my package today. Bout pissed my pants laughing!!! Thank you sooooo much!!"

Today when I talked to her, she told me that she was literally holding onto the dining room table, doubled over laughing. Which of course, made me feel great. I know work for her has been sucking arse lately and she needed a laugh. Too bad only the dog was there. Poor thing was probably worried she was dying.

I love making people happy and making them laugh until they almost pee themselves is an added bonus.

What about you? Any experience with surprising people? Any huge things with which people surprised you?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Food Prep Night

I can cook but I don't really like to do it.
Standing in the kitchen for a long period of time is not my idea of fun. (The plantar fasciitis could be the cause of that problem.)

So I try to make a few meals in one night, enough for 4 days or so.
As long as we get to the store and have a stocked fridge, we do well with this plan.

We just went to Target tonight so when we got home, it was food prepping time.

First, have you tried the Ziploc Zip'n Steam? I fraking love them.
It takes the guesswork out of steaming veggies and you throw the bag away after so no extra dishes. Bonus!

I made some zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, and green beans.
The broccoli and green beans were for myself and my husband. The zucchini and squash?
For Peanut.
Yes, my 7 year old LOVES veggies.
She informed us that she'd like to just eat a plate of these veggies for dinner. Or lunch. Or breakfast. Or a snack.

So, I made her a few helpings for the next few days. When I showed her, you'd have thought it was Christmas morning.

For myself and my husband, I made salmon, couscous, broccoli, and green beans.
We each have 2 servings for the next few days.

Sorry for the iPhone photo. I was in a hurry trying to get the food in the fridge so I could start the next part of my food prep.

Right now, I am waiting on my chicken.
Mmm, chicken.

I get out the crock pot once a week and add some chicken breasts. I add a mix of water and low sodium chicken broth, along with whatever herbs and spices appeal to me that week. I set it and walk away until the delicious smell smacks my brain awake and brings me into the kitchen.
I remove it from the crock pot a piece or two at a time and then talk 2 forks and shred it. And wow, it shreds so easily.
Then it goes into a bowl until I use it on something. Sometimes, I use it for chicken salad, sometimes for chicken tacos, and sometimes I throw it over lettuce and have a salad.

Taking an evening to make the above food means that I am not in the kitchen much during the week except to have bonding time with my buddie, Mike Rowe Wave.

The only other night I plan to cook anything this week is when I try this delicious sounding recipe that I found on You're My Favorite Today. I must try this. Our family LOVES any sort of pasta.

How about you? Any go-to or easy meals?