Preoccupied with Pox

Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with pox.

Okay, not really pox, but I liked the alliteration.

I wanted to offer an update as to what’s going on in our home, as it’s prevented me from posting anything for the past week.

Two Fridays ago, I took our 19mos old,  C, to the doc for a terrible cough/cold. She was prescribed amoxicillin for an ear infection, which we started that afternoon. Exactly one week later, she woke up with a pink dotty rash all over her body and swollen lips.

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Originally the doc didn’t think they could fit her in, so recommended stopping amoxicillin and starting benadryl.

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Trying a baking soda bath

The benadryl seemed to help for a few hours, until it suddenly flared up, presenting bigger red dots covering more surface area. C is a “mouth breather” so it was hard to tell if she was breathing normally or was a little strained.

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Regardless I immediately called the doctor back and they squeezed me in. By the time we got to their office and into a room, it was the worst it had been yet.

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I was told it was not an allergic reaction but a side effect of the amoxicillin. Since she was breathing fine, didn’t have hives, and wasn’t itchy, they weren’t concerned and said it could take up to 3-4 days to disappear.
Well, on Saturday she started itching and it only looked worse. It was now bright red raised patches.  I called the on call doctor (different from whom we saw Friday) and he said he usually tells people up to 5 days for it to completely leave the system.

Hello Tuesday… While the raised red patches were now gone, the red dots were still covering het body – especially her face.  By Tuesday night her legs were also swollen.
Did I mention she has had trouble sleeping this whole time? Every night she wakes up at least 2 times, the second of which is usually the more difficult to get her back to sleep. It’s taken anywhere from 1-2 hours every night. (I’m hoping at this point, that by the time this is over, she will be so relieved to not be itchy or irritated that sleeping through the night will be a breeze! )

I did bring her back to the doctor, who said that we will definitely not do amoxicillin anymore – but it still looks like it’s going away. He recommended keeping her on Benadryl and waiting a few more days. He said she is not displaying any symptoms of serious reactionary syndromes, and showing no signs of internal distress. This did make me fell much better.

So, for now, we will keep up with the Benadryl when she’s itchy, and probiotics as often as allowed.

Thank you to all who have been praying!

And thank you for being patient while I care for my baby.  I’ve got some exciting recipes to share as soon as I have time to post them!
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A lesson in Endurance, Confidence, & Gratitude

There are some parenting situations where I wonder if I’m making the right decision. You know that old saying, “choose your battles”? Sometimes I think, why get all worked up about this? It’s not that important. and I’ll drop it. But there are other times when I stick to my guns and even though I’m second-guessing myself inside, when I follow through, I am pleased with the results – and my kids learn something.

Case in point: We had A’s friend birthday party this past weekend. I had the thank you cards ready to go. I wanted her to write them out herself. Why?
1. I didn’t have time at that particular moment to do it myself (enter a little bit of guilt).
2. I want her to learn from it: that it’s important to officially thank people (especially via cards in this electronic society – it’s almost becoming a lost art – one that I haven’t taken the time to teach her in the past); also the discipline of having a project and seeing it through to completion.

So I wondered, how can I make this as easy as possible for her, while still giving her ownership over it?

Here’s what I came up with:
I wrote out a script of sorts. On paper it looked like this:
Dear ____,
Thank you for coming to my party!
I really liked the _____.
Love, Aubrey

Then below that, I wrote out each attendee’s name and what they gifted her. Most gave her more than one thing, so I wrote out each item, with a line in between each girl/gift to form rows. I explained to her where to write each girl’s name, and how to write in the gifts in the “I really liked the ___” area. I told her, “You don’t have to write EVERY thing they gave you – you can choose one or two items and thank them for the ones that were your favorite. Then, check their name off the list so you know you did that person already.”

This worked out so much better than I had hoped. What started out as a time saver/discipline activity ended up being a confidence booster, learning opportunity, and very valuable life skill.

She did the thank you cards in two batches. She carefully chose which gift(s) to thank her guests for, occasionally asking me what the words said. This also served to remind her who gave her each gift. By the last few cards, she was writing some of the words herself, without looking back at the script. She’d come to me and excitedly say, “MOM!!” I wrote ‘coming’ without even looking!!!” She was so proud of herself. I rejoiced with her, and realized that this activity was also helping her memorize how to spell words – a handful which she didn’t know yet. Even when she had a couple cards left and asked me for help, I explained that she only had those two left, she was doing such a great job, and just to keep working until she was finished. (A lesson in perseverance and discipline.)

She sealed all the cards herself, and even drew decorations on the envelope of each card. (An opportunity to exercise her creativity!)image

What did I learn from this experience?
*She is absolutely capable when I encourage her and give her the tools to help her succeed.
*Encouraging my children to complete a task is always worth the valuable lessons it teaches them, even if it seems ‘hard’.
*Every day, normal situations are opportunities to teach lasting life lessons – and it’s my job to find them and take advantage of them.

And now, since she’s done it once on her own, she’ll have the confidence to know that she is fully capable of doing it again, and won’t see it as such a daunting task. I hope that she will look at it joyfully from here on out as an opportunity to not just use her manners or check something off her list, but utilize a life skill of taking time to realize and really appreciate what she has. I hope that it will become a habit that will become part of who she is – a woman with an attitude of gratitude.

Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Ephesians 5:20 – Give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse God’s accomplishments is to discover his heart. To discover his heart is to discover not just good gifts but the Good Giver. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. It does to anxiety what the morning sun does to valley mist. It burns it up. – Max Lucado

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Fruit snack detergent?

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I guess this is what happens when your 18mos old knows how to help with the dishwasher. Yes that’s a fruit snack where the detergent usually goes. 😉 I guess she thought it looked like the Cascade dishwashing packets!

Easy Christmas crafts for kids

I like to do fun things with my children. Fun, low-maintenance things whenever possible.  Oh I know kids are messy.  Call me lazy, or call me smart.  Less mess= less clean up time = more time to play or do other things. I’ve got it!  Call me practical! 😉

So, while Christmas shopping at Target a few weeks ago, I found these gems – and only because I checked my Cartwheel app! There was a coupon for 50% off all seasonal kids crafts! Definitely worth a look, I thought. Bonus: I found felt Christmas stickers that I volunteered to buy for my Kindergartener’s class… ALSO 50% off! Score. Craft kits, after coupon, was $2, $4, & $5.

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We did these first. It was a kit to make 4  gingerbread ornaments. They were super easy for the kids to understand and finish without help (except for my 17mos old of course. She figured out the stickers but if course they weren’t I’m the traditional places). It kept them busy for about 20 minutes. I threw away the box with example picture and it was neat to see how they decorated them.  Brendan actually used some of the sequins as eyes and at the corners of the mouth. I never would have thought of that and was glad he surprised me! Each child marked theirs with their name and the year. We are giving the extra as a Christmas gift. (Shhh don’t tell!)

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This one I saved for my two eldest when the little one was napping. My eldest colored it and they did the stickers together. Originally there were stickers for the mouth, but they fell off… hence the hand-drawn ones. Pretty cute as a homemade decoration.  Fun detail: it lights up from a switch on the bottom.
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These came in a kit of 20. I let each child do 2, and saved the rest. I was going to do the rest before Christmas, but now I think I’ll save them for next year. When they finished, our eldest realized the sticky backs of the scarves and arms adhered them to their doors, and that’s where they hang now.

What I love about these kits:
1. They were very affordable
2. The kids loved them
3. Everything you need is included in the kit (unless you want to decorate more with markers)
4. Low-maintenance and easy clean-up

These kits were great even for the creatively-challenged like me.  😉

As I probably won’t post until after Christmas, I’ll extend a very Merry one to you and yours! My prayer is that your holiday is rich with the true meaning of Christmas: the coming of the Savior!

Organization Struggles with Kids

As always, what is expressed here is my personal opinion. I hope to simply keep it real and relate to some parents in similar situations. Maybe ideas I share can help?

This… is a heavy topic. What?? You don’t think so?

I feel like so much of being a parent is “try, fail, adjust”. This goes for EVERY ASPECT of parenting, and housekeeping too. We do what we know best to do unless we realize our current routine is NOT working, or we find a better way to do it.

In my home, organization is like this. Let me give you a few barriers to having the perfectly organized home (maybe you can relate?!):
1. Budget – I don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on different shelves, drawer systems, containers, labels, stickers, cabinets, etc etc etc.
2. Time – Neither do I have time to make a lot of these things DIY.
3. Changing Stages – Every parent understands how much changes in the first year of a baby’s life, and even in the first 3 years. You are in a constant state of rotating. Rotating OUT the toys and clothes they’ve outgrown and rotating IN clothes that fit and toys that are more age/developmentally appropriate. Now when you have multiple children at different stages, this is a little stickier because what’s appropriate for your eldest is not always appropriate for your youngest. But that doesn’t mean you should hold your eldest back.
4. Decision-making – because of all the aforementioned items, I hesitate to make a decision (which involves spending time and money) if I am not positively sure it will work for us. I don’t want to waste my time and money on something that might not work, or on something that will only work for 6 months.

Then I have this debate always going on: Teach them -VS- Avoid it.
You know what I’m talking about.
Example: You may have a clean playroom, but that’s only because the toys are all mismatched, and the kids can never find the matching figures or the corresponding pieces because they’re scattered between 5 different bins or drawers. This is the ‘avoid it’ method. While easier at the end of the day – it’s probably easier for the kids to help you clean up, and for you to clean up yourself – it is frustrating and somewhat sad when your kid wants to play with her favorite toy but can’t find the pieces. Then you waste 30 minutes trying to find what she wanted to play with, and by that time, play time is over and you need to move on to do an errand, eat a meal, or take naps.
This, to me, is ineffective and unacceptable.
The ‘teach them’ method takes MUCH more time and energy (choose an organizational system, implement organizational system, teach OS to kids, and then re-teach it – EVERY. DAY.) but I can’t bring myself to lower my standards on this one. I want to teach them how to do this on their own, and I want them to learn and remember it. I don’t want to have to help them every single time. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that at this stage, their play and clean up does have to be 100% monitored if I want it to remain tidy. **All moms know we use our full faculties when caring for our kids. Hearing is one of them, and if they are playing nicely so I can cook, clean, use the potty, or – heaven forbid! – sit down for a minute, I am okay leaving them SIGHT unsupervised for a short time in an area that I know is child-proofed.** I don’t mind helping tidy up once in awhile, but cleaning up after themselves is a life-skill which is my job to teach. So I refuse to do it for them every day, especially when I ask them, “Where does this toy go?” and they consistently give me the right answer.

Like everything, it’s a matter of finding balance. I have tried the “let it be messy” method. People will say, “Kids will be kids.” or “you have 3 kids” or “you can’t expect them to pick up after themselves at this age”. Hm, I thought. So I tried that way. But I just felt like I was making excuses for myself. Another reason it became unacceptable (other than the embarrassing feeling whenever someone came over which necessitated apologies and excuses to THOSE people – bah!) is because it is DANGEROUS. Most especially at night when my 2 year old would wake up in the dark to go to the bathroom. But also during the day when I’m carrying a 16mos old on one hip, a basket full of laundry on the other, and, welp, that pretty much blocks my view of the floor and the explosion of small plastic toys all over it. Plus, how is this any better than the ‘avoid it’ method, where toys are scattered yet put away? Kids still can’t find or play with the toys the way they were meant to be played with, which only ensues in them making a bigger mess. (Additionally, vacuuming takes much longer when you have to clean up an entire sea of toys first.) Sigh.

So I have to put this out there: fellow moms – and dads! – what is your method? Because honestly, I see pictures like this in magazines, on pinterest boards, on facebook, etc. all the time:

Do people's closets really look like this?!?!

Do people’s closets really look like this?!?!

Staged for a photo

Staged for a photo

too organized

My kids would grow out of these toys before I had time to do this. Lol. Requires too much of Mom without teaching the kids to DIY.

 

Does this actually work for anyone?

Does this actually work for anyone?

Here’s what’s awesome about this last picture:
It’s beautiful. Everything is uber neat. It is labelled, it is color coordinated, there are probably things in those drawers that are used all the time, but hidden from view so your house doesn’t always look like a tornado went through it. It’s cute. It’s balanced. And yes, it looks like a magazine photo shoot.

Here’s what’s NOT so awesome about this picture:
1. There are PAINTS(!!!!!!!!!!) within arms reach of a child. Maybe this would work in your home. Mine, not so much. If I so much as step away to go to the bathroom, these paints would be all over the WHITE cube shelf, on the floor, on the wall, on my KIDS, and they’d probably find a way to get it all over those cute looking little balls to the right of the cube, and subsequently throw them all over the rest of the rooms of the house, tracking paint wherever they go. All this in the time it takes to go to the bathroom? I know you are thinking. Yes. You would be surprised. Kids are FAST creatures. Do you think those lids are kid-proof? Oh. You must not have children. Because when kids want something, they will mess with it until they figure it out.
2. This organizational masterpiece seems to be having an identity crisis. I’m not sure if it’s for kids or for adult crafts. Notice what looks like yarn rolled up inside that nice, clean, very breakable mason jar. Hm. But there is a teddy bear and a kid-size chalk board on it too. On the TOP, where the kids who use them can’t actually REACH them, but it is there nonetheless. There seem to be some scrapbook/photo album type devices here, but there also seems to be a Dr. Seuss book. Ok, ok, some Dr. Seuss books are beloved by adults.
3. I can’t read what those labels say, so I can’t speak to what’s in those drawers. But, oh yeah, the kids won’t be able to read them anyway (well maybe my eldest). So… Even the labels are not helpful for the kids.
4. Also? those little pom pom thingies would be all over my floor in a heart beat.

Maybe this was not meant for kids things after all. Maybe it was just meant for a craft room. With a door that you keep locked so the kids can’t get in and destroy all your beautiful things. Or maybe for older children with no younger siblings – because if you have more than one child you know the younger ones always want to do what the older ones are doing.

**For the record, I just dislike the second one because 1 – our toys wouldn’t nearly fit in that space and 2 – the toys are so high up on the shelf that the kids can’t reach them. 3 – that is a safety hazard. Do NOT tempt children by putting their toys on top of the TV or high up on climb-able shelving units. Mistake. Can you tell practicality is my #1 priority?**

Ok, so my goal was not to try to criticize, but we spent the afternoon cleaning up and organizing the toys in the basement, and that always gets me thinking about what we need to stay neater. Switch into positive problem solving mode now commencing!

Now that my youngest is a little older and my middle one is communicating better, I feel like I am almost out of the “JUST SURVIVE THE DAY AND TRY TO KEEP EVERYONE CLEAN, FED, HAPPY, AND SAFE” mode. (um, actually… clean is not really a requirement now that I think about it.) So I’ve picked up a few little projects here and there. (One of them is an awesome display for my jewelry, which I realized will no longer fit in a traditional jewelry box. I will post when it’s done!)

With the holidays coming, and our first time hosting our family’s Pie Night (Oh yes, it is amazing. Should I post pictures?!?!), I’ve had to put a deadline on organizing our playroom and toys in the basement. Which is a good thing. The hubs always jokes that I only clean up when I’m expecting company. Well, in actuality I pick up all day long, but if I know someone is coming over, it forces my deep cleaning to the top of the priority list for a bit. And truthfully I am a little tougher on the kids on those days (“Put that away right now! I just cleaned that up!” Sorry kids.) so it doesn’t get re-messed after I’ve cleaned up the previous messes.

What’s that phrase about having a clear head because your surroundings are clean? No seriously, I can’t remember it. Regardless I really believe that’s true. I am a stickler about this in my kitchen. I hate when it’s messy because I can’t even BEGIN to think about the next meal when it’s a gross mess everywhere I look. But we spent today downstairs cleaning up, and I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. Like I won’t have second thoughts when the kids want to play downstairs anymore, or trying to ignore the hidden messy corners of the room because everything is actually CLEAN. (Did I mention we have an older house? If I’m not cleaning constantly, bugs get in. Um, lots of them. Yuck.) It doesn’t look like a MAGAZINE cover, but it’ll do for now. There’s room for growth, and that’s the best part!!
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The bottom line is this:
1. It has to be safe
2. It has to be tidy
3. It has to be manageable for the kids
4. It has to be acceptable to Mom
Notice, ‘magazine ready’ was not on my list.
So what works for you might not work for me. I’ve seen people organize puzzles in plastic baggies. I knew immediately this would not work for us. I need something much more durable to outlast my chillens. But as long as you have a system that works for your family, you’re succeeding.

And maybe I’m just setting myself up for another let down, but I’m hoping that this time the organization is organized enough at their level that they will be able to keep it up – with some help from Mom, of course.

Quick, flavorful veggies

Growing up, I never ADORED broccoli. It didn’t bother me to eat it, but it wasn’t my favorite either. Some regulars where I work bring their two kids with them all the time, and they would always (wait for it) VOLUNTARILY get broccoli as a side!! I was uber impressed. Which may or may not have been the reason I started cooking broccoli more at home 😉

Turns out it’s a good thing I did, since Aubrey now LOVES broccoli! She will even eat it -gasp- RAW!  The first time this happened I was cutting broccoli to make the way I’m going to show you, and she asked, “Mom, can I have one right now?” (grabbing a piece off the cutting board). I was kind of quietly freaking out in my head. Don’t make a big deal out of it or it will ruin it! I was thinking in a terribly over-excited voice in my head. Very calmly and off-handedly I said, “Sure honey.” I watched out of the corner of my eye because I was certain she was going to spit it in the garbage. But she didn’t! And now broccoli is probably her favorite vegetable, with cauliflower coming in a close second.

So how did I make it the first time I bought fresh broccoli and cut it off the stalk? Sorry to say I didn’t steam it or even blanche it. Nah… I take baby steps. Here’s how I like to cook these now – and they’re usually a hit with everyone in the family (I guess I’m still working on the hubs though).

First, obviously, cut up your vegetables. I try to cut the broccoli and cauliflower into smaller pieces for the kids (remember my definition of kid-friendly?)
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Then melt a generous tablespoon or so of butter in a skillet over low to medium heat. (Yes, sorry, this is not really a healthy dish by today’s standards. Back in the 50s maybe, sure.) You want the melted butter to cover the surface of the pan.
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Once it’s all melted and you’ve tilted the pan to cover the entire surface, evenly sprinkle some Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and paprika. It will form almost like a shortened version of a compound butter, which is going to coat our vegetables very nicely.
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Then place the prepared veggies in the pan – just enough to cover the surface. Now DON’T TOUCH! Let it sit for a minute or so, and sprinkle more seasonings on the top of the veg.
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Then give the pan a good shake to move the veggies around and coat other sides of them. After another minute or so you can do a little flip with the pan to rotate them even more.

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Here’s where you have some options.
1. You can add another pat of butter to the middle (aaaand maybe the sides too) of the pan and sprinkle more seasonings over top of the veg. This is the best way. The seasoned butter sticks so well to the veggies and forms almost like a crust of deliciousness!
2. If you have some chicken stock open in the fridge, or possible using it for your main dish, you can add a splash or two to the pan to hydrate the veggies some more. I must warn you: it will sizzle and probably whatever bits of seasonings are on the bottom of the pan, it will kind of clump them up and form a chewy… substance. haha. But if you like them more moist this is probably the way to go.

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Look at that seasoned yummy-ness!

Now. Yes we use a fair amount of butter here, but what I like about it is it gives the veggies flavor without overcooking them (the more you cook veggies the more nutrients leak out). I should tell you now, this is part of my process of introducing new foods to my kids, particularly vegetables (see QUICK TIP). And although I’m glad Aubrey enjoys raw broccoli, I really don’t enjoy the dry raw florets, so this preparation is a perfect compromise! Hope you enjoy it too.

Quick Tip – Introducing Vegetables to Kids (Or, how to get them to eat healthier!)

I unconsciously developed this, shall we say, method for introducing new foods to my kids, particularly vegetables. If you know me you know that I try my best to make healthy meals for my family, but I am not an extreme health nut. I like to try to strike a balance. “Everything in moderation” as my mom always says.

So whenever I’m introducing something new to my young kids, I give myself a little leeway in the health department. I’ll choose a preparation that I think they will like, even if it’s not the healthiest. For example, a recipe that uses butter or cheese. Or maybe BBQ sauce. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A DIPPING SAUCE to get kids to eat, well, just about anything!

Then once I establish it as a friendly food that they enjoy, I will put it in a soup, or a sauce, or mix it into a pasta, and then try healthier cooking preparations. My 5 year old regularly asks, “What’s in this Mom?” I stopped trying to hide things from her a long time ago. She was too smart for that. So at this point I’ll say, “Zucchini! Remember how much you liked zucchini last week?” Usually the response is, “Oh yeah! Yum!”

One other tip: let the kids be around you while you’re prepping a meal. Even better yet, let them help in whatever way is safe and doesn’t make an enormous mess. This is how I learned which raw veggies my kids will eat (Aubrey loves broccoli, Brendan loves bell peppers and tomatoes, Camille loves tomatoes). Once they’re old enough, you can also include them in the actual planning part. Give them some pre-approved dinner or side options and let them choose. The more they feel they’ve contributed, the more they’ll take ownership and be willing to try things.

You can follow my blog to see some different ways I’ve done this and adapt them to your family. Good luck! Have fun experimenting!!