Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Caution: 2 Year Old Ahead!

We just celebrated Logan's second birthday! I decided on a construction theme since he loves all big trucks construction vehicles and always points them out whenever he sees them. I was even surprised to find that evite has a construction themed invite, which made it quite easy to get started planning this party. Here is how I worded the invitation.
Foreman Logan is turning 2! Here's what we need you to do: Assemble your construction crew and report to the {Our Last Name} Construction Site. Come ready to work! Clock in at noon. A sack lunch will be provided. ~ Site Manager Meg
We served sack lunches to the kids since they were "construction workers." Each brown bag contained a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple, a juice box, and a package of Handy Manny fruit snacks. The adults had sloppy Joes, chips and dip, and veggies and dip.

I was lucky to find mylar balloons at Dollar Tree in the shape of a dump truck, so I bought two of those and tied them to chairs. Next, I took yellow crepe paper and taped it to our porch railings and then draped it across the porch to the door, where I taped it around the entire door to resemble caution tape. (I found that you can buy actual caution tape on eBay and Amazon, but I decided it wasn't worth the expense, especially considering I already had the yellow crepe paper, which I had previously purchased for crafts. You can get two rolls for $1 at Dollar Tree.)

I found an orange plastic table cover in the clearance section of Walmart. Although this is not the most environmentally friendly, it is really helpful for cleaning up. I cut mine down to fit our dining table, and had enough left over to cover our card table. I taped down the edges so the kids don't pull them off the tables. Then, once the party was over, I just peeled back the tape, rolled up the table covers and threw all the crumbs away!

My favorite decorations were the road signs I made from cardboard, acrylic paint, and black Sharpie. I also used a pencil and a ruler to lay out my lettering before going over it with the Sharpie marker. They said things like "CAUTION: 2 YEAR OLD AHEAD," "PARTY ZONE" with an arrow, "SPEED LIMIT 2," and "DIP" with an arrow pointing down. I taped a straw to the back of the "DIP" sign and inserted it into the veggie tray. Everyone loved that.

I wanted to have several fun things for the kids to do, but they had to be relatively unstructured since the birthday boy is only 2. I decided on an "excavation zone," a "demolition zone," an "obstacle course," and a "hard hat zone." Fortunately, the weather cooperated since most of these were outdoor activities.
Hard Hat Zone: I bought some plastic party hard hats (These are not very durable so they aren't meant to be played with.) on Amazon. (With shipping, these were still less than what I would have paid for a similar item from Oriental Trading.) I picked up some self-adhesive foam letters from Target ($1 a package) and some self-adhesive foam vehicles from Dollar Tree. There were helicopters, trains, planes, boats, cars, and trucks in the packages from Dollar Tree. In advance of the party, I took out just the cars and trucks and divided them up evenly amongst the children. I also selected all of the letters they would each need to spell their names and put them into baggies along with the cars and trucks. Once they arrived at the party, I had them decorate a hard hat. After all, they couldn't go into the construction zone without proper protection.

Excavation Zone: This is my term for the sandbox. I had my husband buy a new bag of play sand since ours had dwindled over the summer and let the kids dig. I did buy Logan one new sand toy, a bulldozer, and put that out there along with the other shovels, buckets, and rakes.

Demolition Zone: This was pretty popular, even with the older cousins! I taped up several different sized cardboard boxes and spray painted them. Then, the kids stacked them up and knocked them over. (My original plan involved a playground ball that I had spray painted black and I had hoped we could hang from the play structure to serve as a "wrecking ball," but this didn't work out.) The kids didn't know the difference, though.
Obstacle Course: Using those same spray painted boxes and an assortment of orange cones (borrowed from my mom), we set up an obstacle course in the driveway. The kids had a fantastic time riding scooters, bikes, and anything else we had with wheels, or just running and jumping their way through it. Logan got a new tricycle, so he tried that out. This was definitely a hit, even with the older kids.

Cake and Ice Cream
I think that cupcakes are perfect for first and second birthday parties. To keep with the construction theme, I made chocolate "dirt" cupcakes and tinted the frosting green to look like grass. Then, I crumbled up some Oreos and sprinkled them on top to look like freshly dug dirt. Lastly, I placed a cupcake pick in each one and put them on my cupcake stand. (The stand holds 23 cupcakes, but I made 24 picks because one box of cake mix will make 24 cupcakes.)

How I made my cupcake picks:

  • toothpicks
  • clear tape
  • orange cardstock
  • scalloped scissors
  • scrapbooking adhesive
  • circle punches (2 different sizes)
  1. After printing these off, and trimming the paper down, I punched each "logo" out with a circle punch.
  2. I punched out 24 slightly larger circles from orange cardstock and fussy cut around the outside of each one with scalloped scissors.
  3. I used scrapbooking adhesive to adhere each logo to the cardstock.
  4. Finally, I used clear tape, to affix a toothpick to the back of each cardstock circle.
The ice cream I served was called Orange Scream. It tastes just like a creamsicle. I covered the outside of sugar cones with orange construction paper to make "traffic cones." To do this, I traced around an empty pie tin (any round object would work), and cut out the circles. I cut each circle in half, started at one edge and rolled it all the way around the sugar cone, and then secured it with clear tape. These were simple and delicious, plus they were loved by kids and adults alike.

Thank You Cards:
Okay, I haven't gotten around to making these yet, but I will share my idea with you. Obviously, he can't write yet, so I will fill out the cards and then let him decorate them. I plan to use the computer to design a fill-in-the-blank format card that will read:
Dear ________________,
Thank you for the ______________________. I really DIG it! (Insert photo of Logan playing with one of his new construction vehicle toys.)

Some of these party ideas were my own and others I adapted from this website. I always check here first when I am planning a themed birthday party because there are tons of suggestions.

I Love You Every Weekend

Here are Mia's quotes from the month of August. Never a dull moment around here...

"Mom, the butterfly knows how to open the jar all by itself." (8/15/11)
(Trust me when I say that this is not something you ever want to hear coming out of your child's mouth. Substitute "butterfly" for anything else that flies, hops, crawls, etc. and you can imagine the fun I had trying to catch it and get it back in the jar. For your amusement, just picture me with a butterfly net trying to get it off of her chandelier and then once I had it caught against the window, spending several minutes trying to figure out how to transfer it to the jar without setting it free once again. She eventually 'fessed up to accidentally releasing the butterfly while trying to give it a "pillow"-- one of her baby doll's blankets.)

Mia asked Daddy if she could have a popsicle later:
Daddy: "Depends on how good you are tonight."
Mia: "Okay. I will be practically good!" (8/16/11)

Said to Logan: "You smell poopy!"
Said to me: "Can you check to see if his diaper is poopy?" {pause} "You just changed his diaper a couple of minutes ago."
Me: "That's usually how it works." (8/17/11)

While talking on the play phone:
"Hi, Daddy. We need you to come home. Logan has a yucky diaper. Okay? Bye!" (8/22/11)

Mia asked me what the word above the crib said and I told her "Logan."
Mia: "It says 'Mia' in my room. {pause} Why don't you have the words 'Mommy' and 'Daddy' above your bed?" (8/22/11)

Showing me the pretzel stick she was using to drum on a handful of  baby carrots: "I made a food instrument. Look! Look!" (8/29/11)

"Mom, there's something I want to tell you... I love you every weekend." (8/30/11)
Good to know. I wonder what I need to do for her to love me all the other days of the week (especially considering that it wasn't the weekend when she told me this)?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

You are a Child of God

I recently came across the following quote by Marianne Williamson while reading this post from Button Bird Designs (a very cute blog to read if you are into crafty re-purposing projects). I had not even heard of her before, but now I am looking forward to reading her books because I am sure they are jam packed with inspirational gems like this:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

(A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles", Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3])

I can only hope to live in such a way as to teach these wonderful ideas to my children!

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Bup," "Bup," and Away!

Logan's Early On teacher, Michelle, swears that summertime is one of the best opportunities for growth in kids' speech, and if his session today is any indication, she is really on to something! When Michelle asked Logan to identify the farm animal toys, he almost always produced an approximation for the animals' names or sounds that they make. When she showed him different pictures of animals in a book, he was able to select the corresponding animal toy. He also correctly matched up "girl" and "boy" with the pictures. I was pretty excited by this, and told her how he has become much more actively engaged in reading recently. He points to objects, makes noises, and will answer simple questions when we read together. She agreed, noting that he understands everything we say, and his ability to understand and follow directions is actually advanced for his age.

While playing with the animals, he started laying them down and Michelle asked him if they were going to sleep. When he responded "uh huh" she said, "Tell Mia, 'shh.' They're sleeping," and placed a finger over her mouth for "shh." Logan immediately mimicked the motion and made a "shh" sound! Both of those were new for him.

When he became hungry, it was time to wrap up the session, and Michelle asked him if he wanted to eat. Logan responded with an approximation for "eat," which I had never heard until then! He also wanted me to help him open his water bottle so he signed "drink." He has done this before but not without prompting. I told her that he had been signing "open" since she introduced it during his previous session. Logan repeatedly strung together signs for her by signing things like "open please" and "more please" to ask her to take out more animals. He was also saying "p" "p" "p" while signing "please," since Michelle had tried to get him to say please, "p" "p" "p" during the last playgroup we attended in July. She noted that Logan will mimic words when asked in context if an object is present. This is great because instead of just parroting words back to us, he uses them in a meaningful way.

Michelle also observed that Logan is starting to use spontaneous language. I told her that his newest word is his approximation for "up," but his version has a "b" at the beginning so it sounds like "bup." This one makes me smile because he says it so enthusiastically. Looking back at the progress he has made since starting Early On in January, when he wasn't even saying "mama" or "dada," it seems that his speech development is headed directly "bup!"

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Greetings from Zombieland

Dear Brain,
Wish you were here!

One joy of being pregnant was that I could always blame any flub-ups and forgetfulness on "pregnancy brain," as I called it. My friend, Kim, refers to this as "Childzheimer's." Now I know why she calls it that. With Mia's pregnancy, I was convinced that once she was born, I would regain my mental clarity. (I quickly realized that wouldn't happen as long as I was sleep deprived.) With Logan's pregnancy, I was a bit more realistic in my expectations. However, I continued to believe that this was a temporary condition, and at some stage of parenting, it would disappear. Now that I'm getting a decent night's sleep on a regular basis, I find that this muddle-headedness has not vanished, but rather it has increased. I swear that as my kids get older (and smarter), I continually lose mental capacity. My best theory of why this happens is that the kids are actually little zombies, and they are eating my brain cell by cell. I even found this article which supports my idea. (And then, after writing this, I realized it sounded familiar. Then it occurred to me that I had stolen the zombie terminology from another blog I read. Apologies to imanimama.)

This week has been especially full of these mommy moments. One day I totally forgot that I needed to wash diapers. Another day, I forgot about a playdate that had been on the calendar for weeks. (And I joke all the time that nothing gets done unless it gets written down on my master "Mom" calendar.) Plus, once I was called and reminded about the playdate, I couldn't figure out where I had written down the address, which wasted several minutes and frustrated me further.

Yesterday was the worst, though, because I was trying to make pizza dough and couldn't figure out why the food processor wasn't working. I had used it with no problems before. Turns out, the bowl part (okay, right now I can't think of the correct term, so I am just going to go with "bowl") just wasn't screwed on tightly. Once I realized that, I thought things would be fine. Then, I couldn't get the dough out. So, without really thinking (duh!), I reached in and tried to pull it out with my hands, forgetting that the blade was still in place. Ouch! The only thing I can say about this (other than it is the dumbest thing I have done in awhile), is that I am actually proud of myself for my quick reaction time. (Read: I didn't get any blood in our dinner. And believe me after all that, I was still serving that awesome pizza on the grill!) Of course, after managing to get the rest of the dough out, I discovered why it had been tricky-- I forgot to add the olive oil.

So, last night, I took myself out for some much needed "me time." This happened to come in the form of retail therapy at my new favorite haunt, Salvation Army. I found some great bargains, including a few pieces of clothing that actually fit me!! And the best part of the evening, and quite possibly the whole week, was the drive home. I heard Steven Curtis Chapman's latest song, "Do Everything," on the radio and it really spoke to me, reminding me that even though I feel like a major screw-up lately, I'm doing the best I can. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be Super Mom, and then feel like a failure when I enevitably fall short of that goal. This is just what I needed to hear last night:
You’re picking up toys on the living room floor
for the 15th time today
Matching up socks and sweeping up lost
Cheerios that got away
You put a baby on your hip and color on your lips
and head out the door
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you
Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do
Thank you, Lord, for reminding me what really matters most.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happiness is a Rainbow on My Clothesline

One of my favorite things about summer is being able to hang laundry out on the clothesline, especially Logan's diapers. Any cloth diapering mama will tell you that the sun does amazing things for diapers, including bleaching out stains and making everything fresh in only a way that being outdoors can. But line drying the diapers gives me an added boost by lifting my spirits. It makes me ridiculously happy to see all those cheerful, lovely colors of FuzziBunz swaying in the breeze.

We just picked up some "new-to-us" petite toddler size FuzziBunz to help with some minor leaking we were having since the little man has some seriously skinny little legs. I feel this was a good purchase because they do fit his thighs better than the mediums were fitting, and as a bonus, we now have new colors in our stash! So, of course, I had to hang them up by color and snap a picture of the rainbow on my clothesline. I dare you to look at this and not smile.

Friday, August 12, 2011

There Once Was a Smart Little Girl...

I'm not going to claim that Mia is a genius, but she is pretty clever! She also has a sizable vocabulary for a 4 and 1/2 year old, and constantly amazes me with the connections that she makes. For the past few months, she has been commenting every time that she picks up on homophones. Yesterday, when she wanted to do a project, I suggested that we make a book of homophones that she knows. For the most part, the words are hers; I just made minor clarifications (mostly when I had to ask her to repeat things when I couldn't write fast enough, and then she said something a bit different and I had to check that I got it right). The illustrations are not really her best work, but you get the idea. From a mom's perspective, this is great because it kept her busy for at least a half hour, maybe closer to an hour by the time we put it all together. From a former teacher's perspective, well, I told you I wasn't going to say it, but she's brilliant. I am a proud mommy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Soak up the Sun Prints

I have been going through craft withdrawal a bit lately, but I've been kind of lazy about coming up with projects to do. I was interested in trying out sun prints with the kids (not really a craft, but still creative), and I was able to get this SunArt Paper kit at Hobby Lobby for about 10 dollars. (I consider myself lucky, too, since it was the last package of cyanotype paper they had.) There are some cheaper ways to get it (I found some on Amazon that qualified for free shipping if you spend enough money), but this way I had it in hand immediately and didn't have to pay shipping. My kit included 15 sheets of 5" x 7" SunArt Paper and a 5" x 7" acrylic panel. Although we typically make our crafts with stuff around the house, I personally don't think this is a bad deal.

{My Favorite Print: "A Bit of Lace"}
{Leaves and Berries by Mia}
The process for making sun prints is very simple:
  1. First, we gathered some items to use for print making: flowers, leaves, feathers, buttons, shells, etc. 
  2. In the shade of the garage, we got out one piece of SunPrint Paper at a time, set it on a cutting board (you could use cardboard or another hard surface), arranged the objects as desired, and laid the acrylic panel on top (This keeps lightweight things like dandelions and feathers nicely in place.) if desired -- I skipped this step with bulkier items like buttons and sand dollars. 
  3. Next, we took the cutting board outside and laid it in the sun on the driveway for 5 minutes. (I took a timer outside to help me keep track.) 
  4. After 5 minutes, I set the print in a cookie sheet filled with water and some lemon juice for 1 minute.
  5. When we were done making prints, I put them back on the cutting boards and took our cutting boards into the house where I left them on the counter to dry. After that, I pressed them flat under some books for about 24 hours. Now, I just need to get some frames for our artwork.
{Cosmos by Mia}
I am happy with the results of this project even though it didn't go exactly as I would have liked. Logan, 23 months, only wanted to play in the water and Mia 4 1/2, lost interest after only 3 prints (and I was still trying to get the hang of things at that point). I thought it was fun, and we have a few more sheets of paper that I may just go ahead and use to make some more artistic prints to suit my own tastes. I have a ton of ideas!
{Hydrangea #1 by Mia}

{Hydrangea #2}
Other Items to Possibly Try:
  • tools (nails, screws, hammer, screwdriver, wrench, measuring tape, etc.)
  • sewing items (needles, spools, pinking shears, safety pins, pin cushion with pins?, cookie cutters, etc.)
  • cooking utensils (silverware, measuring spoons, slotted spoons, spatula, rolling pin, whisk, etc.)
  • costume jewelry (rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, tiara?)
  • beads (all shapes and sizes)
  • fruit and vegetables (sliced thinly--although I don't know how the liquid would react with the paper)
  • pet items (collar, leash, bones, etc.)
  • keys
  • stickers or paper cut-outs of just about anything (animals, music notes, sports, etc.)
  • I am wondering how it would look if I used stencils.
Other Tips and Ideas :
  • The 5" x 7" size was perfect for beginners and little ones who don't have much patience to fill a larger piece of paper. 
  • You may want to buy different sizes of paper if you want to display a grouping of prints.
  • If you are braver than I am, you can experiment with different lengths of exposure. I stuck with 5 minutes because it worked once, so I figured it would keep working.
  • You can also experiment with the sun's light at different times of day. It may take longer, though, if the sun isn't as intense.
  • Items with a lot of bulk tended to not have much clarity when the print was finished. We tried a branch from the hydrangea bush, for example, and it came out mostly like a big white blob. Once we separated it into individual petals, it was much more attractive.
  • I have a theory that darker colored items leave a brighter white impression based on the fact that some of the buttons barely showed up (I think these were the clear ones.) and there were different "degrees" of whiteness among the other buttons. There may be a completely different explanation for why/how this happens, but this is my best guess. 
  • One large item may look nice on its own, but groupings of items also look good, especially if you stick to odd numbers in your composition.
  • I am planning to save the acrylic once the paper is used up. Then, we'll have it for the next time we decide to make sun prints, and we can make two at a time instead of one. Otherwise, it can be used as a stamp block for clear stamps, or any number of craft projects...
  • If you want to make this more educational, you can teach about the science behind how photography works. For me, it's mostly about the artistic process, though.
    {"All Buttoned Up"}

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Easy Vegetable-Beef Soup

I have a terrible time keeping my favorite recipes organized. It's on my never-ending to-do list, but obviously not a priority, so I have decided to just post this one that I made for tonight's supper since it is ideal. (This way, the next time I can't find the recipe, it will be right here on my faithful blog.) I love this recipe because it's tasty, super-simple to make, and most importantly, everyone in the family gobbles it up.

Prep: 20 minutes     Cook: Low 7 hours, High 3 1/2 hours     Makes: 4-6 servings 
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 14-ounce can beef broth (1 2/3 cups)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 10-ounce package frozen mixed vegetables (I used a 12-ounce bag.)
  • 14 1/2-ounce can tomatoes, cut up
  • 10 3/4-ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  •  1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
  1. In a large skillet cook beef until brown. Drain off fat.
  2. Transfer meat to a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to the cooker.
  3. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
Note: If you want a lighter version, you can substitute ground turkey for ground beef and use chicken broth in place of the beef broth. Both are yummy, but I think the original recipe is more flavorful.

Who Needs the Manual?

I would like to thank the service department guys at the Brighton Honda for not making me feel like a complete idiot when I pulled in and informed them, "I have a door that won't open or shut." It was the one on Logan's side, and it wouldn't open when we had gotten to the doctor's office. I had no idea why, and it didn't even occur to me to check the owner's manual. I just kept pushing buttons on the key fob and on the control panel by the drivers side, hoping that the door would somehow unlock. When it didn't, I attempted to manually unlock it, and after having no luck, decided to just go old school and crawl across the van to get him out of his seat. Man, am I glad that I don't have to do that every time... because it was a pain. I don't know how moms did that back in the days before dual power sliding doors.

I had gotten him out and into the doctor's office, but of course, encountered the same problem when we were leaving, only then I realized that the door wasn't even totally shut. It beeped at us the entire time while we drove to the dealership (and through the McDonald's drive-through, because it was nearly 1:00 by this time and I obviously needed to feed the kids since I was expecting to be sitting in the dealership for who knows how long.) I should mention that I am also grateful for my sane husband for pointing out that there was a dealership just down the road from our pediatrician's office as I called him completely annoyed and stressed over trying to figure out how and when we were going to make it to Lansing to have this fixed.

Approximately 5 seconds after I pulled into the service department, the door was fixed. The guy walked over, closed my fuel door (which I apparently left open after getting gas before heading to the doctor's office), pushed a button, and voila, the door magically shut. I said, completely amazed, "Did you just fix it?!" He said simply, "I just fixed it." And then he joked that it would cost me $49.95. I am not even sure what the look on my face must have been. I was thinking, "Wait. Is he serious? Because if he is, that's ridiculous... Anyway, it should be covered under the warranty." He graciously ignored whatever idiotic expression was on my face and tactfully explained that the door won't work if the fuel door is open, which made sense, but I never really thought about it. Honestly, I didn't even look at the door or the side of the van to even realize it was left open. I just got annoyed that the door was "broken." Then he commented that this was probably the easiest, quickest fix ever. I agreed, and thanked him, adding, "The stitches are out! The door is fixed! Monday can only get better!!" And it did, so I guess the moral of the story is, who needs the manual when you've got a nice guy to quickly solve your problem for you?

Rite of Passage

I took Logan to the ER last Wednesday to get four stitches. My dad informed me that this is just part of being a parent. It's something that all parents go through at one time or another, he said. While I agree that this is true, I have to say, though, that it caught me off guard. I know that all of my nephews have had staples, stitches, and possibly even glue in their heads at one point or another, and even I (a very cautious sort of person) have a small scar on my knee from my own childhood experience with stitches, but still...It's not something you can prepare yourself for. For some reason I expected this to occur later on, not at 23 months.

Here's What I Think Happened:
I was actually not in the same room when it happened. It was shortly after 2:00 pm and I was in the kitchen writing out labels for the blueberry jelly we had just finished making, and my mother-in-law had just walked in the door. Logan was playing on the hardwood floor with his matchbox cars. There was a boom instantly followed by wailing, and my nephew informed me that "Logan's eye is bleeding." That didn't sound good, and he definitely sounded like he was hurt badly, so I quickly headed down the hallway toward the entryway where the sound had come from. Logan had actually darted the opposite direction to find me, so I saw the drops of blood on the floor before I saw him. Looking back, I feel a teensy bit bad that I went and got a damp washcloth to clean up (and try to stop the bleeding) before I even picked him up and tried to comfort him. When my mother-in-law handed him to me, I saw the gash on his left eyebrow, realized he needed stitches, and blurted out, "It's my fault!" Yes, I know it was an accident, but I wasn't exactly rational at this point. My baby was bleeding and in pain, and I hadn't even seen what happened. My best guess is that he wiped out on the floor and fell onto one of the matchbox cars.

The Guilt:
Despite the fact that he calmed down quickly (within 5 minutes, I think), I knew he needed medical attention. I felt like a total failure as a mom, and it took me longer to pull myself together before I could drive him to the Emergency Room. I kept thinking that I should have been keeping a closer eye on him so that I would know what had happened (although that wouldn't have changed the outcome). By the time we left, he was more sad about missing the library video about big trucks that we put in for the other kids than he was about his injury. I suppose I should be thankful for that, but his sadness about missing the video added to my guilt. During the 20 minute drive, he fell asleep because it was during what should have been nap time.

At the ER:
It was about quarter to 3 when we arrived at the hospital. It turns out that the hospital is in the process of renovations, so it was a little confusing to find the right place to go. Then, the woman working at the registration desk was on the phone so I didn't know if I was supposed to sit and wait or follow the signs to the next area. After a couple of minutes, a doctor saw me looking confused and told me I was in the right place. After registration was complete, the woman tried to put a bracelet on Logan but he wanted nothing to do with that so she gave up and just handed it to me along with a printout with 20 (Yes, 20! I have no idea why they need so many.) labels with his name and info on them.

Once we sat down in the waiting room Logan was as happy as could be. I gave him a Dum Dum sucker just like the little girl, about 3 years old, who was also waiting with a head injury to be patched up. One lady commented that it "must be a mom thing" to carry those. Yup. Totally a mom thing. In fact, I made sure I had at least 2 in the diaper bag before we left the house. Logan's boo boo was of interest to the other mom and she asked what had happened as did the next lady who came in with her ailing husband. She informed me that the same thing had happened to her son and to expect about three stitches. She also warned me that I would probably have to hold something on his head to numb it.

While we waited, Logan watched something called "Street Ball," some kind of basketball game, on the TV. I people watched for the most part. An elderly lady sat and grouched about how long she had been waiting to be seen (2 1/2 hours) and then complained loudly when the little girl with the head injury was called back before she was. "Why does she get to go now? She hasn't been here very long!" Her entourage of children (or whoever they were)-- there were about four of them-- explained that it was in order of importance, and the little girl was bleeding from her head and that took priority. I personally think that the fact she was a young child may have had something to do with it, so I silently prayed that she would be called back before we were because as much as I didn't want to annoy her, I was not keeping my little man sitting in that dingy waiting room longer than necessary! Obviously, I was relieved when she was taken away in a wheelchair.

watch because of what happened next.

The "Procedure"
The assistant (I don't remember her exact title) wrapped him tightly in a sheet like a mummy with only his head sticking out. He was pretty unhappy about that, as you would expect. Then, they put this heavy cloth over his face. It had a small opening that they adjusted so that it fit over his eyebrow that needed stitching. I don't know what the material was but it seemed like something that would be difficult to breath through. The only reason that I know he was breathing just fine was that he screamed the entire time, "Mama! Mama! Mama!" It was the saddest thing I have ever heard. I laid on the bed next to him and tried to kiss him through the sheet and talk to him to let him know I was there, but I know he was completely terrified. I don't know if it's always so heartbreaking, or if they really had to bind him up since he is so young, but I was glad when it was finished. The oddest thing is that I never looked away. I watched the entire time while the nurse practitioner stitched him up and thought about how the tool she used looked a bit like a fish hook going through his skin. When the covers came off, Logan was drenched in sweat. Poor little buddy! He looked so much better, though. And, after a grape popsicle, he was significantly calmer and ready to head for home.

It Hasn't Slowed Him Down Any...
Logan never did seem to realize he had an injury. He has kept on running around the house, playing with the matchbox cars, jumping down the stairs, climbing the refrigerator.... He is such a boy! Whenever I asked him where his boo boo was, he pointed to his knees! He slept fine, and never complained, so I still haven't given any Tylenol. Yesterday morning, though, he was started to pick at the scabs. I knew it had to itch, and I didn't know how to make him stop. By mid-afternoon, he had pulled out what I thought was 1 stitch. I was worried about this. I had spent the past few days fretting that he might somehow hurt himself again and cause the stitches to come out. My biggest fear was having to take him to the ER again, and having them think that I was a terrible, neglectful mother, and contacting protective services to take him away. I know that this is completely irrational, but I couldn't shake the thought!

The "Removal"
When he got out of bed this morning, I noticed that more stitches were missing. I thought that one was left, so I figured that he had pulled out 3 total since I thought there had been 4 to begin with. I called the pediatrician and waited two hours to hear back about what to do. They wanted to know if it looked infected. I didn't think so, but I decided to take him in, just to put myself at ease. Dr. McEwen commented that he shouldn't have been able to pull the stitches out, but then when she looked at the wound she told me it wasn't 4 separate stitches. It was a running stitch, and they had inserted the needle 4 separate times. I guess that makes sense. They had even tried to explain that same thing to me at the ER when I asked how many stitches. Clearly, I am not a seamstress.

Dr. McEwen removed what was left of the stitches even though she had wanted to wait a couple of more days (When Logan was discharged, they told me to schedule a suture removal in 5 days, which was today, but when I called the office, she said to wait 7 days, which would have been Wednesday). Getting those stitches out was much harder than I expected. Logan screamed and fought us, so it was hard for me to keep his head still. Plus, Mia was off in the corner crying, too. Apparently, she was scared because he was scared. I was exhausted by the time that was over. Now, we have to try to get Neosporin on the wound twice a day for a week. Once we were home, I tried to put some on a Band-aid, but he immediately pulled it off. And she suggested that if I was concerned about scarring, we could try Mederma for kids after the week is up, and continue that for two months.

Will He Have a Scar?
On the topic of scarring, yes, I am concerned about that. I feel awful that he got hurt in the first place but even worse that it was on his face. Logan has such a beautiful little face. I call him handsome all the time, but really I think he is beautiful. I hope he stays that way, although a part of me felt that if one of the kids had to have a scar on the face, at least it was my son, because somehow it seems better for a boy to have a scar. Boys can have scars and still be cool, but if girls have scars, it makes things tougher for them. And then, of course, I felt guilty for thinking this! My Mom Guilt is pretty much out of control over this whole incident.

{How can you look at this sweet face and not feel sad?}
So it seems that I have made it through this rite of passage as a mom, perhaps not without some scarring of my own. After four and a half years of parenting, I am now "officially" a mom. I have survived a child getting stitches. I was even praised by the ER staff for handling it so well. (Just don't tell them about the guilt!) I assume, that too, will fade in time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Berry Good Time

I took the kids blueberry picking for the first time on Wednesday. It was cloudy and drizzling a tiny bit and just over 70 degrees outside. Believe it or not, this was nearly ideal picking conditions as far as I am concerned. It wasn't too hot, it wasn't buggy, we didn't have to worry about getting too much sun, and there weren't too many other people picking (although there were more than I expected).

I have decided that if you are going to pick fresh fruit with young children, blueberries are the perfect choice. The bushes are just the right height for everyone to reach. There were berries low enough for Logan and high enough that I didn't need to stoop down. You don't have to lift children up to pick the way you would if you were apple or cherry picking. You don't have to worry about them trampling the plants as with strawberries and there are no prickers as with raspberries. Ripe blueberries easily cup off in your cupped hands and unripe berries are much tougher to pick, so it's hard to goof up. Oh, and the bushes are tall enough that you don't have to worry about kids sneaking away between the rows of plants.

After returning home, Mia and her cousin Eric helped me make Any-Berry Jelly using a recipe I found on page 82 of the August 2011 issue of "Disney FamilyFun" magazine. I couldn't find a link for this online, so I will share the easy-to-make recipe.

Any-Berry Jelly

Takes 15 minutes plus cooling time. Makes 3-4 cups.
  • 4 cups hulled and crushed raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries (use a potato masher), or a mixture of any of these
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 pouch powdered or liquid pectin (any kind should work fine for this -- just ignore the directions that come with it)
  1. Put the berries in a large, heavy pot. In a bowl, mix the sugar and powdered pectin, then stir thoroughly into the berries. If you're using liquid pectin (we did), add it and the sugar directly to the pot of berries.
  2. Bring the berry mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Let the berries cook at a full, rolling boil for 1 minute, then ladle the jelly into very clean jars. Leave an inch of headroom for the jelly's expansion in the freezer, cap, cool to room temperature, then store in the refrigerator for immediate use or freeze it for later.
To Die for Blueberry Muffins:

I haven't made any muffins yet with this batch of blueberries, although I know I will. We ended up with 3 1/2 pounds, and I have the most delicious recipe for blueberry muffins with a cinnamon streusel topping! You will definitely want to bookmark this one. You will come back to it again and again.

Before heading out to pick some berries, make yourself this "hands-free" berry holder. Okay, it really is hands-free if you remember to take your belt, which I obviously did not. The directions come from the same issue of "FamilyFun Magazine." Cut the top third off of a clean gallon milk jug, avoiding the handle. I used permanent markers to draw strawberries and blueberries on our berry bucket. Now, find your nearest berry patch and get picking.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Throw a Birthday Bash for Your Dog (No, Really)

First let me say that I am not a crazy person. I do not routinely have parties for animals or otherwise treat pets like children. (Well, okay, our old dog did have a small wardrobe, and I may have frequently occasionally signed her name to Christmas cards and the like... but that was during the B.C. era-- before children!) I swear I am now reformed from that sort of behavior.

That said, we celebrated our dog Ritzy's fifth birthday over the weekend. Mia had been asking for months when her birthday was (I had told her "sometime in the summer.") and if we could have a party for her. When I asked Mia what she wanted to do for Ritzy's birthday, she told me we needed to have a cake, streamers, balloons, party hats, a present, and we needed to sing "Happy Birthday." We took the kids to the store and picked out a bone, which I wrapped in doggie covered gift wrap. Next, I pulled out some of my Dollar Tree crepe paper streamers that I keep in the craft supplies and let Mia and her cousin Eric, who was visiting for a few days, decorate the dining room chairs. I twisted red and pink streamers together and hung them in the dining room entry. There were no balloons. I drew the line at balloons.

We did, however, have a cake, and I am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I found the recipe for a Peanut Butter Carrot Cake (that promised to be safe for dogs) on this website. This cake wasn't too huge so it didn't seem very wasteful to make, and as a bonus, it contained ingredients I already had in the house. The cake was a huge hit with Ritzy and her "cousin" Greta, who was also visiting. It looked pretty, smelled good, and didn't taste too bad (not that any of the human party-goers were that keen on eating it). Instead of pureed cottage cheese icing, I used my offset spatula to frost the cake with low fat cream cheese. I decorated the cake with Milk Bones and inserted five cut-up Pup-peroni "candles." We sang "Happy Birthday," attempted to get the dogs to wear party hats (generic Happy Birthday hats from Dollar Tree), and then watched them wolf down their slices of cake (after first looking at us suspiciously to figure out why we were serving them what appeared to be "people food" on regular plates).

In case you are wondering, I pulled off this entire party for under $5. I will warn you, though, that Dollar Tree's party hats are very cheaply made, (Duh! You get 8 for $1.) so the elastic broke on all of them. Anyway, I think it goes without saying that dogs do not like to wear party hats. I couldn't get a picture of Ritzy wearing hers for the millisecond that it stayed on, although I got a couple of "cousin" Greta. All in all, it was the best birthday party I have ever thrown for a dog. (Remember, I have never done this before, I swear!) Would I do it again? Sure. It made the kids happy, and it was even kinda fun for me. I really enjoyed making and decorating that birthday cake for the dog. Add that to the list of things I never thought I would say... until I became a mom.

Grow a Lollipop Garden (Plus My First Ever Giveaway Results)

Awhile back my hairstylist told me about a client of hers who plants a "lollipop garden" with her grandkids every time they come to visit. I decided to try it out while our 5 year old nephew was staying with us. This woman has her grandchildren "plant" Smarties, but I couldn't find any at our local Walmart. Then, I thought that jelly beans would make more sense because they look more like seeds, however, I decided not to spend the money since they only had the gourmet kind in the candy aisle.

Two days ago, I had Mia and her cousin, Eric, plant and water three lima beans during Logan's nap time. I told them that they were "magic beans." It rained that night so the following morning I suggested that we should check on their garden and see if anything came up. They were completely amazed that there were three lollipops "growing" in their garden! They quickly remembered who had planted which one and picked their own lollipops, letting Logan know which one was his. (I had tried to make sure that they would each get a color they liked.)

This was seriously simple (and cheap) fun, and the kids loved it. My favorite quotes were from Eric who said, "You should have planted one so you could have one, too" and "We should have let them grow longer so they would get BIGGER!" I can't guarantee that older kids will enjoy this activity as much as mine did, but it turned out to be perfect for a 5 year old, a 4 year old, and a 1 year old. So, get out there and plant your own lollipop garden.

Results from My First Ever Giveaway!!
Congratulations to Kelly! (The odds were in her favor, indeed.) Send me an email at: to claim your DOVE CHOCOLATE DISCOVERIES™ goodies.