Saturday, April 30, 2011

Susan's Not-yet-Famous Beer Cheese Dip

We really like the Bier Cheese dip at Hofbrauhaus. I recently tried to Recreate it at home. It wasn't exactly the same, but it tasted good anyway!

Beer Cheese Dip

3 tbsp Butter
3 tbsp flour
1 bottle flat beer (or mostly flat)
8oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 oz cream cheese (light)
Dash pepper, worchestershire sauce, Onion powder

In a medium sauce pan, melt butter on medium, whisk in flour. Whisking constantly, add 3/4 bottle beer. Cook until thickened. Stir in cheese, melt completely. Stir in spices. Add more beer if it is too thick. Transfer to a crock or small slow cooker. Serve warm with pretzels/soft pretzels, crusty bread, veggies, etc. For dipping.

*note: I used Yuengling, but I think it would be bette with a darker beer. Not sure if it would be good at all with something likeBud Light!

* let me knOw if you try t!
**blogging from my phone is really annoying!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

MacGuyver Puppet Theater

An old phone cord, an old cardboard box, some red fuzzy velvet, and duct tape

Sour Cream Indeed!

I went to Giant Eagle (supermarket) yesterday. I spent some time deciding on sour cream because we rarely finish the 16oz size before it molds. Unfortunately they don't sell 8oz of light sour cream. I looked at all the prices and opted for the 16oz Giant Eagle brand Light sour cream. The price marked was $1.79 or 3/$5.00.

As I was checking out, I noticed it rang up at $5.00. I asked the employee, but she just shrugged. I decided to pay and go to the service desk because the line behind me was long.

Guess What! They overcharged me by $3.21!

As the girl re-scanned my Advantage Card and handed me back my $5.00, she chuckled and and said, "Well, the really funny thing is the price on the sour cream has probably been ringing up wrong since we changed the sale prices last week!"

I do not think it is funny. I'm happy they gave me back my money, all five dollars because they have a price guarantee if something scans wrong you get it free. But what about all the other people she was chuckling about? Did Giant Eagle STEAL $3.21 from all of them? I mean, having something priced wrong might be an accident, but not contacting the customers and giving their money back when they realize the mistake is stealing.

But the story doesn't end there.

I called my sister Emily just because I had to tell someone about this ridiculousness. Coincidentally, she also bought sour cream from Giant Eagle this week. It was Fat Free and in a different city 90 miles away. There was no way this happened to her too, right? Wrong! She called me last night after she got a chance to look at her receipt. There it was. $5.00 for a $1.79 tub of sour cream.

The moral of the story, I guess, is that grocery stores don't always get the prices correct* and if you aren't watching the prices ring up on the screen, you're going to get overcharged. And they're not going to notify you. I really hope they don't intentionally miss-mark prices, but it might very well be the case. I wonder how much money they steal from customers who don't notice the price being wrong during check-out. Even with kids climbing all over the cart and distractions around, you have to pay attention to the scanner!

Please feel free to share this story. I wish there was something more I could do to "stick it to the man."

*Something scans wrong for me probably once a month at Giant Eagle. Usually, the check-out girl notices too and it is resolved right away. But if that's how often I notice it, it must happen all the time.

Sour Indeed. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Looks Like We Won't Be Spending Money on the Movies

Ian loves movies. He likes animated movies, particularly the Toy Story Trilogy, Cars, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Kung Fu Panda. (Maybe a couple others I'm forgetting.)

We have a problem right now with movies that are not listed above: he won't watch them because he thinks they are scary. I understand it, because even Disney movies have scary parts, but this is a fear that drives him out of his seat into another room, begging to turn it off. He won't watch it the whole way through to see the happy ending. He shuts down. 

What I don't understand is that he's not scared of the movies I listed above. There are scary parts in all of them, but he doesn't seem to mind. It seems like if he watched and became familiar with a movie before last fall, he's ok with it. Anything thank you. 

What can we do? I mean last month we spent $4.99 on getting Tangled from on-demand and he was asking me to turn it off within 10 minutes. Same with Shrek 2, 3, & 4. The Little Engine That Could was a no-go. 

It's really frustrating... not to mention a little annoying to not be able to branch out at all. 

Is this a stage? Is there something more to it? Have your kids ever done this?

Mystery Trips

It's almost summer mystery trip season! Last summer, Roger & I organized mystery trips for each other the kids as a way to get out and enjoy our surroundings. We set some ground rules mainly to keep things from getting too expensive. We tried to stay close to home...not many overnight trips (if any at all). We like places that are free/inexpensive and that we can pack our lunch.

Not all of our day-cations are mysteries, but I like to try and throw a little mystery into the mix. The kids don't understand the mystery thing yet (every trip is a mystery to them) so  the fun is just for Roger & I.

Last year our first mystery trip was planned by Roger and was to Simmons Farm in McMurray, PA for strawberry picking. It was so much fun!

I'm starting to gather mystery trip ideas in my head for this summer. What are your favorite PA/WVa/OH day trips?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lauren's Sproutin' Teeth!

I hope to be back to regular blogging tomorrow.

Just wanted to get on record that Lauren officially has a second bottom tooth. All the better to bite mommy with... *sigh*

Friday, April 22, 2011

Lauren is 9 Months Old!

Already? Oh my goodness!

At 9 Months Lauren:

  • Has one tooth on the bottom and one that will probably be here before the weekend is over.
  • Is pulling up on anything she can.
  • Is still army crawling with seemingly no interest at actually crawling.
  • Is wearing 6-9 months size clothing.
  • Can say Mama, Dada, Baba, and Uh Oh!
  • Sleeps horribly.
Those are the major highlights. I'll try for pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Lily...Rash?

Aaron got up again on Friday morning with the rash. It had migrated to other parts of his body and was now also on his face and neck. As the mother of a child with allergies, I've discovered in research and visits to the doctor that rashes are more concerning if they are on the face/neck area. We took him to the doctor and they asked me all they typical "rash" questions (listed below). The doctor couldn't come up with anything. After asking the other two pediatricians in the office to check it out, they decided since it was Easter weekend to do blood work to make sure Aaron didn't have any obvious cause for concern. The tests came back normal. Aaron woke up Saturday and the rash was gone. We'll never know what actually caused it, but it was definitely an allergic reaction to something. Scary!

Original Post:

Part of being a parent is intense detective work. I mentioned this before a few weeks ago. Today it's a case of "mystery rash" on little Aaron. He went to bed fine and woke up with this:

You can click on it to see it more closely
Click on it to see it more closely
I have been wracking my brain all day trying to think of the "usual" rash suspects:

  • change in laundry detergent or washing routine
  • change in soap/shampoo
  • brush up against something strange outdoors
  • ate something "unusual"
Nothing really came to mind. The only thing he ate different yesterday was pretzel hot dogs and he's had both sugardale hot dogs and Mr.Pretzel Hot Pretzels before. He played in the sand box yesterday, but he had long pants and long shirt sleeves. He didn't have a bath yesterday. I haven't changed the laundry at all. So...what could it be?

It looks like contact dermatitis/allergic contact dermatitis. But from what? 

I walked into the kitchen and smack in my face was the Easter Lily I bought yesterday. In the cart at the grocery store Aaron thought it was really fun to touch the flowers, leaves, etc. of the Easter lily. And I told him several times, "You can touch, but be gentle because it is a flower." 

Little did I know...

After a quick google search asking the question, "Can Easter Lilies cause a skin rash?" I had my answer. Who knew?!

Easter lilies can cause a Poison Ivy/Poison Oak type contact dermatitis rash. Coming in contact with the stem or leaves is enough to cause the rash. Aaron has really sensitive skin and he was definitely touching the Easter lily yesterday. Now I'm thinking that's what caused his rash. Poor little guy. I feel terrible for letting him touch it...for even putting it in the cart with him! Of course I had no idea that they could do that to humans, I knew they were poisonous to cats, but humans? Nope. Never knew that.

I thought I'd share my latest discovery on the subject of skin rashes and Easter lilies. Of course, I'm not certain that's what caused it. I probably won't be certain unless the rash gets worse and we have to have cultures done or something, but it seems pretty plausible to me. So just for your information, that pretty Easter lily is best left out of the home. I'll be taking our's out to the porch then next time I head that direction. 

Mommy's so sorry, Aaron. :_(

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Something to Talk About Around the Water Cooler

I read an article recently that talked about American children not drinking enough water. The article went so far as to say that most kids are bordering on chronic dehydration. Even children who drink a lot of milk and juice like mine do are not drinking enough water for their little bodies to thrive. I started thinking of ways to increase our water consumption here. One thing that stuck out in my mind was an actual water cooler at my sister's office. Ian, Aaron, & Asher all thought it was the greatest thing ever... self serve cold water. 

I looked into the in-home water coolers and even ones that had refillable bottles were way too expensive for our budget. 

I was walking through Target today and spied  this:

It's plastic, so I don't have to worry about it getting knocked off & shattering into a million pieces. It's green, Ian's favorite color. The spout doesn't pour too fast and isn't too tight for the kids to use by themselves. It's small enough to fit in our refrigerator to keep the water cool during non-drinking times. It is portable. It was cheap: $5.00.

So far, it's a huge hit. Ian said, "Mommy! We get to do it all by ourselves? Into big boy cups? This is great. Great news." 

So my plan is to put the water jug out on the counter in the morning and leave it out until naptime. Then get it out again after nap until bedtime. When we go on day trips we can take it with us, too. The best part is that I'm also happening by and filling my glass with ice water. So far today it has increased everyone's water intake.

I'll update in a couple weeks with how it's going. Maybe you need pretty colored water jug to help increase your water drinking too! 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ian's Birthday Celebrations Galore!

When your birthday falls right at the end of winter (supposedly? I heard it snowed in NW PA yesterday) and usually during the Easter season, I guess you get to partay! Or maybe it's because you're four? Or maybe because your parents are crazy.

Saturday we hosted a kid party for Ian. He invited a lot of kids. Only (only, right...) eight including Ian,  Aaron, and Lauren were able to come. As it stood, though, it turned out to be the perfect number and mix of kids. In my opinion, everyone had a good time!

If you haven't ever been to a "kid party" for a bunch of preschoolers, picture 8 kids ages 6 & under running around like lunatics, only pausing momentarily to lick the frosting off the top of a cupcake. It's exhausting!

Yesterday, we hosted some ladies and kids from my mom's group. We had seven children including 2 babies, 2-2 year olds, a 3 year old, a 4 year old, and a 5 year old. Interesting to me that it was not as wild as Ian's preschool friend party. And I actually got to sit down!

This weekend will will have some family in town and it will be party time again. Not specifically for Ian's birthday, but for all the April birthdays we have in our family.

Don't think the fun stops there, either as we will celebrate with Grandma & Grandpa Spaceship (Bishop) in a couple weeks.

I think Ian has no idea that birthdays don't technically last for a month! We're making the most of all this activity piled up. Maybe we can keep it rolling until Lauren's birthday.

Ian's Birthday Party: Candles & Kids

Ian's Birthday Party: Cupcakes

Ian's Birthday Party: Sneak Peek

This was a candid photo. In fact, I was just taking a picture of the berries and as I clicked, a little hand reached up. So sweet.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ian!

Happy birthday to our sweet firstborn! He's four today. I can hardly believe he's been in our family for four years. We're reminded all the time how blessed we are with such a sweet, loving little boy. He's an incredible big brother and a wonderful son.

Happy birthday, Darling. We love you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Preschool Birthday Snack Day

I'm way behind on posts for April. I blame my computer's abrupt demise. I'm still using the Google netbook. Someday soon my [pink] dell laptop will make a triumphant return to the little table beside my chair. No seriously, Roger got the new hard drive in the mail on Tuesday and I'm hearing little whispers of progress. Anyway, lets move on to Ian's birthday snack day at school.

Several of Ian's classmates take (devilishly delicious?) processed snacks to preschool and I'm wholeheartedly against it. I don't call a pouch of fruit snacks made with HFCS and artificial dyes a proper snack to hand out to thirteen four-year-olds. I don't count Oreos or Cheetos as proper either. Not that my kids don't eat those things on occasion, but I just think there's a missed opportunity there. Sometimes peer pressure is a good thing. When it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, I think peer pressure is great. So I use it. My kids like love fruit. Let's share the love!

So today Ian and I prepared personal-size fruit pizzas for Ian and his friends at school.

The feedback from Ian's teachers was great. All but two kids scarfed up the fruit pizza while oohing and ahhing over how pretty it looked. One of the two "passers" gave in to peer pressure, but promptly removed the fruit and threw it in the garbage. The horror! The other outright refused to even try it. Can I take a moment to rant about the two passers?

First of all there are only two kids in the whole class that Ian doesn't particularly care to be around. He calls them trouble makers and tells tales of so-and-so breaking Mrs. C's toys and being mean to other kids. The same two kids always bring the same two snacks when it is their turn: Oreos and Dunkin' Donuts Munchkins. Those are the two kids who declined to eat the fruit pizza. I'm probably drawing a conclusion that I shouldn't, but isn't it interesting that the trouble makers are the ones who refuse to eat the fresh food snacks? They're the ones who bring unhealthy snacks? They're the ones who are mean to other kids and break toys? The ones who Ian prefers to keep his distance from... do you see what I'm saying? Ok. Moving on.

I know slapping a sliced up strawberry and some blueberries on a cookie with cream cheese/cool whip frosting doesn't make it a necessarily healthy snack, but in the grand scheme of things I think it's better than a plateful of Oreos. I also think its about more than a frosted cookie with berries on top. It's about experiencing fresh foods. Its about allowing a child who might not typically gobble up berries have the chance to do just that! And teaching that desserts can be healthier and delicious at the same time. That it's still a yummy treat for a special four-year-old's birthday even though it isn't a cupcake heaped with frosting. We are responsible for teaching our children to make good choices. I take that responsibility very seriously while trying to strike a balance with the healthy stuff and the delicious garbage that has a cool cheetah guy on the bag.

Ian was so proud of his fruit pizzas and I was too. I was thrilled to hear most of the kids thought Ian's snack was awesome. Success!

PS: When I was a kid, I used to get so annoyed with the dentist up the street who gave out apples instead of candy for Halloween. I thought he was so lame. All Ian's school mates probably groan when they realize it's Ian's snack day. He's taken: Blueberries, Apples and grapes, cheese blocks, graham crackers, and fruit pizza.


Mini Fruit Pizzas:

1 pkg Pillsbury Sugar Cookie dough (I used the ready to bake ones so they all came out exactly the same)
1 8oz pkg softened light cream cheese
1 small container (light) cool whip
2-3 Tbsp. Sugar
Fruit washed & sliced to bite-size for topping!

Bake cookies as directed. Allow to cool completely. Combine cream cheese and sugar until smooth, fold in cool whip. Spread a layer of cream cheese mixture onto each cookie. (Can do this part ahead of time.) Top with bite-sized fruit up to 2 hours before serving. Serve chilled.

If you put the fruit on too long ahead of time, it makes the cream cheese layer really runny.

I've used all of the following for toppings:
Mandarin Oranges
Peaches (peeled and sliced thin, fresh OR frozen!)

You can make a large fruit pizza instead of mini using a tube of sugar cookie dough pressed onto a pizza pan or baking dish. The cream layer goes a long way. I frosed 16 cookies and had half of the cream left over! Probably enough for 4 dozen mini pizzas.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You found a WHAT while you were cleaning behind your bed?

Ian's turning four soon and we'll be celebrating with friends and family in the coming weeks. I always welcome Ian's birthday time because it is also spring cleaning time. The sun starts shining in the windows more (ok, maybe not this year...) and I get a little spark of energy to clean.

We've been busting our buns this week cleaning. I mean really cleaning.  If you're the super-cleaner type, don't answer this, but for us average folks: when was the last time you cleaned behind your bed? I can tell you as a matter of fact that the last time I actually heaved our gigantic king-size bed to the other side of the room and really cleaned back there was before Ian was born. It's just not a place we regularly clean. It isn't a place that we think about getting dirty. Apparently it is, though, a place that gets dirty.

In addition to huge dust bunnies, I found five binkies. Not all of them were Lauren's binkies... I found parenting books, rice bags, and money. It was really funny--and interesting--to delve into the depths of the little space between our bed and the wall.

I have to tell you. I'm really happy it is clean. I walk in our bedroom and immediately my mind goes to what it looked like when I moved the bed... all that dust and all those lost binkies in the binkie graveyard...I'm so glad it is clean now!

We've cleaned and organized all the bedroom closets this week. For the past few years we've just been shoving randomly into the closets and then, it's out of sight, out of mind. It's easy to blame the kids for taking up all our housework time and opportunities, because it's true. I've been holding and wearing Lauren for much of the time I've spent working on the house this week. And don't even get me started on trying to clean with a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 year old "helping." How many times can a mama say, "Stay out of my dirt pile!" or can a daddy say, "Leave it in the garbage bag, that's not a toy, that's a gnawed-on toilet paper roll!"

We resorted to paying Ian for the work he does to help. He gets pennies, dimes, and quarters for completing the tasks we ask of him, like picking up and organizing the kids' books onto the book shelf in the bedroom. He also picks up dirty clothes, runs the "zhumer" (dust buster), puts rogue milk cups into the sink, puts away laundry, picks up toys, and generally helps entertain Aaron and Lauren while we're working. I think tomorrow I'm going to give him a magic eraser and let him shine the walls.

He frequently asks to go to Target to look at the toys, but rarely is willing to leave Target without a toy or a tantrum. He was thrilled a few weeks ago when I put him to work (after listening to him beg about Target all morning)  to earn money for Target. (I went on to say that daddy goes to work to make money so we can buy things we need and sometimes things we want, too.) I give him a little bowl and popped a coin in each time he did a chore to completion. We magically ran out of chores when he reached a dollar.

So far it's been working great. We try not to abuse it because we want it to keep working. I'm not sure how I feel about how driven he is by earning money and buying toys,* but I do love that it gets him helping us more than he usually does.

Sidenote: The money thing does not work on Aaron. He doesn't seem to "get" it yet...or doesn't care as much as Ian does.

What do you do to inspire your children to help you do chores?

*We always give Ian the option of spending his money on a dollar bin toy or saving his money to get a toy "from the shelf." (His words.) Sometimes he chooses spend and sometimes he chooses save.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Product Review: Apple & Eve Fruitables Juice Boxes

I was browsing the juice box section of WalMart before our trip last week. I usually buy whatever is the cheapest 100% juice. Turns out, there is a fruit and vegetable juice combo that wasn't any more expensive than the other kinds.
As I turned to the side of the package to peruse the ingredients list, I'm sure my mouth started to drop open. Here's the list (for the berry berry flavor):

Ingredients Juice from Apple, Purple Carrot, Sweet Potato, Butternut Squash, Beet, Pear, Strawberry, Raspberry and Tomato Juice Concentrates (Filtered Water and Juice Concentrates), Filtered Water, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, Vegetable Color, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin E Acetate.

Beet juice? Really? Butternut squash? Tomato? Purple Carrot? I bought them, in the back of my head thinking Aaron would love it, but Ian wouldn't go for it.
I'm happy to report I was wrong. They both love these juice boxes. Ian noticed the carrot in the picture, but just in saying, "Mommy! There's a carrot on this juice box!" He doesn't seem to care that this juice is more veggie than fruit...and not just any veggies...the "not so widely accepted" veggies 'round this house like squash and beet. (I know. My asparagus-loving kids are weird.)

The juice inside (the berry berry flavor that we tried) is a clear-pink color. Not like a lot of the other vegetable/fruit juice combos I've seen, which were not clear juice and a thicker texture. This juice is clear like any other kind of juice box. So far I haven't noticed the juice staining any clothing or carpeting. 

It gets better, though. Here's the rest of Apple and Eve's description of their fruitables juice boxes:

Naturally flavored juice beverage from concentrate. No sugar added. 1 combined serving of fruits & vegetables. 1/3 less sugar naturally (Fruitables has 1/3 less sugar compared to other juices and juice drinks). Fruitable has 1/3 less sugar than other juices & juice drinks; a combined serving of fruits & vegetables; only 70 calories per serving; 100% vitamin C; a good source of vitamins A & E. Fruitables doesn't have added sugars; high fructose corn syrup; artificial sweeteners; artificial flavors; artificial preservatives. Fruitables - a juice beverage that's packed with fruit and veggies but has 1/3 less sugar than other juices and juice drinks (Fruitables has 1/3 less sugar compared to other juices and juice drinks). This is one refreshing way to get the healthy nutrition you need every day. Hey, who said fruit & veggies weren't delicious? Apple & Eve Fruitables provides the combined equivalent of one fruit and vegetable serving per juice box. According to the USDA dietary guidelines, a 1/2 cup of fruits and vegetables equals one serving of fruit and vegetable juice (4 oz). Each Apple & Eve Fruitables juice box provides over 4 oz. of fruit and vegetable juice. Pledge of Purity: This product is made with pure fruit & vegetable juices. There are no added sugars, preservatives, or artificial colors. Pasteurized. Gluten free. Sugars naturally occurring from juice. 66% juice. Packaged in USA.

I'm in love with these juice boxes. I mean, I don't necessarily love juice boxes, but I love that they are lower sugar, HFCS and artificial sweetener free, and have a complete serving of fruit and veggies in each serving. The price difference was minimal and since we only serve juice boxes on occasion I think I'm going to stick with this kind! 

If you have a juice-lover, give this kind a try! Can't hurt, right?

Happy 8th Anniversary!

We've know each other for 14 years, married for 8, 3 children. I'm so blessed.

Friday, April 8, 2011

All I Want is a Teeny Little NAP!

Naptime. Most moms I know covet naptime like its a big diamond necklace or a trip to Tahiti. I know it is ranked highly on my list of things I enjoy about raising small children. In fact, my night sleep is interrupted and what we can call crappy and I've become dependent on afternoon naptime. When something goes awry and naptime doesn't happen, it makes the rest of the day very difficult.

These days, the triple afternoon nap is a regular thing. People ask me all the time, "How do you do it? How do you get three kids sleeping at the same time?"

Today I will try to tell you how I make it happen so regularly.

First we have to remember Ian was not a good napper when he was a baby. I tried to get him napping in his bed (or anywhere, really), but he preferred cat naps on the I told myself. Looking back I realize I was an enabler of the catnapping way of life. Four years and two more babies has given me great insight into how I affect nap quality and timing. I believed wholeheartedly Ian was "a catnapper" so that's what I let him do. We didn't run for home at naptime, if he slept twenty minutes here and twenty minutes there, that was how it happened. That worked for us (sort of) while it was just Ian.

When Aaron came along a lot of the way we did "sleep" in our house changed. I worked diligently getting Aaron onto a predictable nap schedule from very early on. Why? Because Ian was such a crappy sleeper that in order to get a nap for Ian, Aaron had to be sleeping too. It only took a couple months to figure out what worked and to get Aaron napping at the same time as Ian in the afternoon. It worked great for 18 or so months and then Lauren came along and I had to rework it all over again. It happened faster after Lauren was born. I think by 6 weeks old she was predictably napping in the afternoon, too.

When Ian was a baby we had no schedule. We ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, went on outings when we wanted to, etc. I came to realize that my kids need a schedule. Even if it is a loose schedule, it is a predictable schedule. Without it, I'm certain we would not have the naptime success we have. I have quite a few mommy friends who do things differently than I do, and that's fine. We all do what works for our own families. For me, that means we are at home at naptime every day. We make very few exceptions.

We wake up and have breakfast, wash, dress, and get ready for the day. (7 a.m. usually)
We leave the house around 9 a.m. for our morning activities- school, errands, or an outing/playdate.
When lunch time rolls around, we come home (or eat a packed lunch in the car on the way home). (12 p.m.)
After lunch, the boys watch a show on TV while they drink milk and I change diapers. (1 p.m.)
When the show is over, we go to the bedroom and read stories. The boys get in their beds. I give kisses and close the door. (no later than 2 p.m.)
I come back to the living room and nurse Lauren until she is asleep and then put her in her crib.

It works like that almost every day.

Ian goes through seasons where he fights napping, but the schedule remains the same and so far he has always come back to napping. We also occasionally forego napping at home and let the kids nap on the fly while we're doing something fun or traveling.

I believe our rigid nap schedule and the well rested children it produces allows for the occasional straying from normal. I also believe it is the reason we have such well-behaved children. It is obvious to any observer when nap doesn't happen, our children's behavior slips. We have far more tantrums, more fighting, more trouble at mealtimes, and the kicker? More trouble at bedtime! When one child isn't napping for some reason, they all get cheated on their naps...and that makes for an unhappy house!

That's how I do it. I run a tight ship when it comes to napping. It is not optional. If you ever wondered why I cut and run from a play date that was still going you know! If you've ever wondered why we never schedule parties, lunch dates, or outings in the afternoon...wonder no more. If you want to know why I don't answer the phone (in fact, the phone ringer is just off between 1 and 4 p.m.) it's because I value naptime so highly that I don't want any interruptions.

We are slaves to the nap. I used to hate it, but now I love it. It is for my own sanity and happiness as much as it is for the kids. When they are tired, they are little wildebeests who drive me absolutely bonkers. When they're well rested, everything is hunky-dory. I know before long we'll no longer be tied down to our house in the afternoons and I'm looking forward to that, but for now, everybody naps. No exceptions!

What do I do during naptime? I nap. Well, I usually get caught up on the day's news and have a little snack, update my to-do lists, and then lay down for a few minutes. It's my 3 moments of alone time during the day and most days I can't keep my eyes open to read even three pages in a I nap. And it's delightful.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Product Review: Zoo Pals Cups with Lids and Straws

I only have about 4 minutes to write this while I drink my coffee and the kids are all happily eating pancakes, but I wanted to write about them before I forget. 

I was walking down the paper plate aisle at WalMart yesterday and happened to spy these cups. They are disposable (made from some kind of not-paper, not-styrofoam, not-plastic material) and come with plastic lids and bendy straws. Each cup has the face of a zoo animal on it, so they're kinda cute too. 

Roger and I have always discussed, since the point in time when Ian started drinking from cups at restaurants instead of his sippy cup, that restaurants should always have bendy straws. We also discussed buying our own package of bendy straws just so we'd always have them. 

We're leaving soon for our trip to North Eastern Ohio for my Uncle's funeral. So I was finally going to buy a package of bendy straws. 

I spied these cups and thought they would serve a perfect purpose in our life! Some restaurants don't have kids cups. So we'll keep this box of cups in the car. Other times, we're out running around and realize we forgot to pack cups for the kids. Instead of handing them a whole bottle of water or a whole carton of milk, we can use these cups and reduce the chances of spills. We can also use these when we are visiting friends and family who don't have little ones (and therefore probably don't have two sippy cups on hand) so there's less chance of accidentally spilling on someone's beautiful oriental carpet. They're disposable, so we can use each cup until it's non-functional and then toss it. 

Up until today, I've always felt the disposable kids cup options were not truly disposable, made of firm plastic... I felt really bad throwing them away. 

Of course, like everything that isn't reusable, we'll try to use them sparingly. They're going to fill a void though, and I'm excited to use them! 

Yesterday when we got home the kids decided they had to try them out and lo and behold one of the cups (Aaron's) ended up on its side on our carpet. I'm happy to report that no pink lemonade was spilled! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Playground Pictures

In between a hail storm last night and the thunderstorms that are coming right now, we had a warm morning with some sunshine. So we hit the playground full-force!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Let your kids help you squeeze the ever-loving juices from those lemons and lick the sugar spoon as you make lemonade.

The collective V-5 have been sick for several weeks. I think we've had at least 3 consecutive colds, one bout of Roseola, two ear infections, and one stomach bug. Once one of the tots catches a virus, it spreads through the family like wildfire. I've fallen victim twice in the last month, having been healthy most of the winter. Aaron, of course, gets the worst of it. When he gets a little virus, it turns into a big deal. We're currently in the "big deal" stage. Aaron coughed pretty much non-stop from 9pm until 2am last night. It was awful. We tried everything we could think of to do last night:

  • his regular medicines for asthma & allergies, albuterol (two doses over the 5-hour coughing fit), honey, acetaminophen, cold water to drink, warm water, a cool-mist humidifier, vicks vapo-rub, sitting up, laying down, etc. Nothing helped. 
So we're dealing with crazy sickness right now. Ian, Aaron, Lauren, & I are all feeling pretty crappy. Yet we know and praise God that our children are overall healthy, We know that it could be far worse and we are extremely thankful for the blessings we have...even if we have been wiping disgusting noses for well over a month.

My laptop stopped working last week, but by the grace of God, Roger was able to save the last four years worth of photos from going down with the sinking ship. (I was literally sick over the prospect of losing those photos. Don't ask why they weren't backed up. It's a long story.) 

My Uncle Wayne York passed away last night. His body, broken by cancer, is whole again and he suffers no more pain. For that we are thankful, but saying goodbye is hard. We have to find the words to explain it to our  children, one of whom will definitely ask the difficult questions. Ian was only 20 months old when Roger's grandfather died and he did not understand what was happening. We ask for your prayers for my Aunt Claudia, cousins Roxanne, Kevin, Carrie-Lynne and for my entire family as we say goodbye this week. 

There are also some other family illnesses, problems, and sadness right now. A very stressful couple of weeks we've had! 

Lauren sprouted her first tooth this weekend. She's a little over eight months old. Why am I including this in the "lemons" post? Well, teething sleep sucks. Sick-and-teething means there is rarely high-quality sleep at all. 

But you know what? We're ok. We are chugging along trying to think positive and be thankful for what we do have. (It would be easier if the sun would shine and warm up the frigid air!) 

My mom's birthday is Tueesday, so happy birthday to her! Lauren learned her "first word" and has been saying it all day... "uh-oh!" It's adorable. Roger has a netbook I can use until we can get my laptop fixed. I got most of the laundry washed and folded this weekend! We cleaned the living room... like scrubbed the walls! The hotel we'll be staying in later this week has a pool! Lauren hasn't been screaming as much in her car seat. Aaron's nose is running less than it was last week. I've lost 11 pounds since January. I learned how to grind my own hamburger this week and it is awesome. I used gift cards we've been saving to buy a sit-n-stand stroller. Ian's turning four this month. Spring is just around the corner!

There is plenty to be thankful for... so we're making lemonade out of all these sour lemons. Pink Lemonade, in fact, because "that's the kind Aunt Dianne makes and it is my favorite," says Ian. 

May you have a blessed week and if you have a moment, could you pray for us? 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

As Seen in Apple Green

I was submitting a photo to FuzziBunz photo contest and decided to add them here for some weekend eye candy. So here's LoornaDoone in her Apple Green one-size Fuzzi Bunz cloth diaper.