Tuesday, October 25, 2011

life...

What I'm loving....

 - homemade honey bran muffins slathered with a friend's homemade pumkin butter.  so good!
- spending an uninterrupted hour with my oldest while the littles nap
-  my new gym routine.  losing weight easily (the first time since giving birth in 2006) and feeling o-so-good
- hearing the thoughts of my middle child.  he's putting words together well and communicating better than I thought he would, given that he's a boy and a younger sibling.
- the afternoon sunlight.  it goes perfectly with my Bible and a cup of tea.
- my youngest child.  I never knew such delightful babies existed.

What I'm struggling with...

- figuring out how to balance all my hats: mommy, cook, maid, laundromat, teacher, wife, personal shopper, friend, daughter, sister...  something always gets left unattended and I'm sad to report I think it is usually a relationship.
- the new rebellion I see in my two-year-old.  Staying consistent is hard!
- the repeated bouts of copious amounts of snot with my youngest.
- the afternoon nap of the eldest has been completely and utterly laid to rest.  Sob.

So that's life as we know it... for the moment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

the whole purpose...

... of discipline is to stay in fellowship - fellowship with God and other fellow image-bearers.  Sin is a fellowship destroyer.  Recently, there was a remarkably vague post on Femina about the specifics of discipline, but it held a nugget of gold that I latched on to.  How do you know after you've disciplined your child whether or not it has accomplished your purpose of drawing them back into fellowhip with not only you, but also God, or if you have just created a boiling-beneath-the-surface-but-I'll-smile-and-pretend-it's-all-good-or-they'll-spank-me-again* situation with you child?

The only specific that was named in the post was that the author's toddler is asked to give a high-five before the discipline can be deemed complete and effective.  The premise is simple - most toddlers won't give you a high-five if they are ticked with you.  So, we've adopted a similar approach to ending discipline here.  Ethan has to shoot us a high-five, and Emory has to tell us a joke.  Both are based on the individual tempermants represented by the kiddos, and neither child will preform the necessary action unless their heart is happy.

That's what we're after anyway, isn't it?  A happy, joyful heart is a truly obedient heart.  My heart's desire is for my children to know the joy of the Lord.  It's hard not to obey someone who fills your heart with joy.

*Cat's out of the bag.  We do spank, but it is not our only method of discipline.  We love our children dearly and are careful to use this method responsibly.*

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

what's goin' on?

Life has been so hectic lately.  I'll start with some bullet points on what we've been up to since my last post:

- We went to the beach for a week.  I'll post pictures soon.  Fun was had by all.
- We're still chugging along with kindergarten.  It takes up a lot of my time, which I totally expected, but it still frustrates me.
- I had minor knee surgery taking me out of the mama game for a few days.  We were well cared for by friends.
- Ethan's been diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder.  We're still in the process of narrowing down which one.  Lots of blood being drawn.  He looks the picture of health, you'd never know anything was wrong with him... until he catches a cold that knocks him down for 2 weeks.
- Ella Margaret is still such a terrific baby.  Beginning to sit up.  Still on an all milk diet, won't touch solids.  Slaps the spoon right out of your hand.  She'll be seven months on Sunday.  She doesn't look like she's hurting too much for nutrition, weighing in at 18 pounds, 10 ounces at her 6 month check up. 
- Emory has finally accepted school as part of her day.  She is a real trooper.  Working really hard at not crying when she's frustrated with a new concept.  She's almost nailed it.  I really enjoy being her teacher.  This is where she and I connect the most.
- Eric is hard at work being a veternarian extrodinairre, a selfless husband, and a fun daddy.
- We've decided to start doing cloth diapers for the 2 diapered kiddos, and I am loving it.  It does not add that much to my workload at all.  Ethan, in true boy fashion, loves to flush the dirties.  It's something I've wanted to do for our children for over a year and my parents made it happen for us.  Thanks Mom and Dad!
- Since switching to cloth diapers, we're generating only 1/3 of the trash we had been.  We haven't taken our dumpster to the street in 2 weeks.  We used to take it twice a week.  That speaks volumes to me and is totally worth the microscopic bit of extra work cloth diapering is.
- Because of Ethan's issues I'm working on getting us on a preservative-free, whole food diet.  Educating myself has been a slow process.  I'm looking forward to eating a cleaner diet and not feeling so sluggish.

What's going on with you guys?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

the pox....

.... my children have contracted an illness known as hand, foot, and mouth disease.  Wouldn't you know, it is the same thing as hoof and mouth disease that animals get.  Leave it to a veterinarian's pack of kiddos...  Fortunately, the dogs and cat are safe since the respective human and animal strains of this virus don't cross that particular species line. 

This virus is characterized by an unexplained high fever for about 48 hours.  Just about the time the fever breaks and you figure your child has finally kicked yet another fever virus, these horribly painful blisters appear on the soles of their feet, palms of their hands, inside the mouth and throat, and the diaper area.  It has not been the most fun my children have ever had, but I think we've found a few remedies that have made waiting this virus out a bit more palatable. 

For starters, we don't ever let the Tylenol expire.  They are getting their recommended dosages every four hours whether they act like they need it or not.  To wait until they act like they need it ensures that you will endure over an hour of holding your screaming child as they writhe in pain over the blisters covering the most random parts of their body.  It's amazing to me that a dose of Tylenol seems to keep this monster at bay.  Our other remedies include ice packs on the most sore spots, which have tended to be the kiddo's feet, and lots of movies.  I think the ice is partly a placebo effect, making the kiddos feel better because Mommy is doing something for them other than chanting, "I'm so sorry.  I'm so sorry." over and over as they wail and gnash their teeth while writhing in my lap.  I do think the ice has a small numbing effect which has to help the my-feet-are-on-fire-because-they-are-covered-in-blisters symptom. 

Here are my babes watching a movie while icing their feet.  Yes, we use frozen brussel sprouts as ice packs.  The only useful way to use the vile weed, according to my children.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

kindergarten...

....  homeschooling is something I've always been open to.  Since Emory won't be 5 until October, yet has been pining away to begin school, we've decided to do kindergarten at home this year.  If it goes well, we'll do first grade at home next year.  If this is a bust, she'll go to kindergarten at a local classical school.

    So far so good.  The first week was really, really hard.  Emory does well, very well.  Ethan has been harder to occupy while I teach Emory, while Ella Margaret either sleeps or is content to be held.  I was fairly discouraged until Emory's first soccer practice when I got to chat with a mom who is on her second year of homeschooling and has children the same age as mine, with one extra thrown in there.  Our educational approach is very similar (I'm doing a blend of classical and Montessori) and she had some good ideas that have worked well for me.

For starters, I have stopped focusing on getting school done by a certain time.  We start around the time I put the baby down for her morning nap and get started on the hardest subjects first.  This first session is about 45 minutes.  Then, I just sneak in another small session or two throughout the rest of the day.  Emory has asked that she has an art project each day, and she usually completes that while I make supper.  So far, this system has worked far better. 

I've doing weekly thematic units, and I am planning my own curriculum which is a lot of fun but very time consuming as well.  If I teach Emory at home next year, we'll definately be purchasing a curriculum.  Here is a photo of my little scholar hard at work...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

the 15 minute shakedown....

.....  I got this idea off the Enjoying the Small Things blog, bookmarked on the right over there.  Kelle does a shakedown to make it look like she's been productive right before DH comes home on the days she's been productively playing with her little ones.  I've modified the idea a bit and it has worked so well for us that I thought I'd share.  Each evening after dinner around here, my house resembles a primordial cave full of savages.  I was tired of it taking me another half hour of straightening up after the kids were finally down before I got to sit down and relax with the dearest.  Since I head to bed early right now due to the inconsistent waking times of our youngest, that was leaving me with precious little time for the most important relationship in the house.

Soooo, each night after dinner we have a shakedown.  I put 15 minutes on the timer.  Baby goes into the swing, happy or not, and everyone who can walk gets busy.  My main focus is the kitchen while Daddy and the older 2 go from room-to-room putting things to rights.  We have 3 rules for the shakedown:

1. No stuffing or cramming - everything goes back where it belongs.
2. Each room has to be put to rights, this means mama has to get a move on putting dinner away.
3. A room is not clean unless Mama has declared it so before the timer dings.

Having to race against the timer puts everyone in high gear and the motivation is completed with the promise of 3 M&M's if the work is done before the timer buzzes.  It's super cute to hear the kids encouraging each other to work hard to get the job done right.  This system has brought out the best in our kids, which was our goal - teaching them to work well together.  And ain't nothing wrong with a little reward for a job well done. 

This works so well that now all I have to do is yell "Shake-down" and everyone gets busy.  Ethan will run into a room and overturn something if that room is clean just so he can pick something up.  Emory comes running into the kitchen every 30 seconds to make sure there is still time left on the timer.  We haven't had to use this during the day (only at the end of the day), but I totally reserve the right to use it twice in one day if things get really out of hand around here.

So far, we've beaten the buzzer each time.  Our home is small enough that it can totally be picked up by 4 people in 15 minutes if everyone is diligent.  I imagine there are homes out there that would need a bit more time to get picked up.  Whatever works for you.  I just think it shouldn't always be mama doing the picking up, and there is no reason why cleaning can't be made fun for the kiddos. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

soccer mom...

.... Emory has found her athletic niche.  After trying our hands, or rather feet, at ballet, tap, gymnastics, and swim I think we've settled on what may be this girl's calling... athletically speaking.  She comes by it naturally.  Daddy was a soccer super star, even landing himself a scholarship to Belhaven, which he turned down for the promised land of Mississippi State.

I have to admit to being a little surprised.  We enrolled her in this week-long soccer camp to give her an introduction to the sport.  I thought fo' sure we'd discover that she hated it.  NOPE!  Just shows ya what do I know?  I'll even admit it felt really natural to pull up to the soccer field and watch her do her thing each day this week.


Her scrimmage team for the week.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

my husband is dating a beautiful blonde...

.... he's also thinking about taking up with a curly headed dude.  Good thing we all live under the same roof so I can keep my eye on the competition. 

Emory's daddy asked her out on a dinner date for tomorrow night.   They've been dating for some time, about 2 years now, but the dates have all been of the breakfast variety.  Now, at long last, it looks like the relationship is being upgraded.  I think he's teaching her to take it slow!  We're making a big deal out of this time they'll have together by encouraging Emory to choose something special to wear tomorrow.  There might even be a fancy up-do and some pretties applied to the lips to complete her look.  She and I have had a few conversations about the upcoming night out with her daddy and she's totally stoked about the idea of dressing up and going out with an older man.... even if it is her old man!

Next Friday night is Ethan's turn for a "man-date".  I smell a tradition developing.....

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

for the newcomers...

.... I forgot that some of you might not know my whole story when I wrote #34 on my last post.  For those of you who need to be caught up (or just need a refresher course) check out these posts:

Alabaster Boxes

How It All Began

The Original

Enjoy! 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

34 things....

.... in honor of tearing another page off the calendar of my life, I thought I'd jot down a couple of things I've either learned about life, or discovered about myself on this journey:

1. three small kids ain't all that bad as long as you remember to breathe through the chaotic moments.
2. if you stay really organized it reduces the number of chaotic moments you experience.
3. those chaotic moments make really funny stories later.
4. in order to not just survive, but thrive, you have to see every spare moment that you get to do something just for yourself as a bonus, not a right.
5. humor diffuses all kinds of stressful moments... it can even stop a toddler fit in it's tracks.
6. if you haven't told your husband very specific ways he can help lighten your load, you can't complain (yet)
7. obedience to God's word really is the only way to have a happy life.
8. if I make it a goal to make life as much fun for my kids as possible, life is more fun for all of us.
9. making life fun for the kids also makes them more receptive to the harder lessons in life.
10. when the kids are running wild giving them a sorting job really helps them to settle down.
11. a lot of times, out-of-control kiddos just need that energy directed a bit.
12. as long as the beds are made I feel like the house is clean.
13.  the hours between 1 and 5pm are my favorite time of day.
14.  I believe beer was made for summer.  There is nothing as wonderful as a cold beer on a hot evening.
15. I love, love, love to eat outside and it is my goal to one day own a really nice patio set and eat outside as many times a week as we can.
16. a cookie can never have too many sprinkles or chocolate chips.
17.  dark chocolate is most certainly the nectar of the gods.
18. a fun drink is the fastest way to my heart.
19. my favorite hot drink is a peppermint mocha.
20. my favorite bubbly drink is diet dr. pepper cherry.
21. my favorite adult drink is a gin and tonic.
22. my favorite fruity drink is a Leapin' Lizard from Planet Smoothie.
23. I only drink water because it is good for me.
24. Not only do I love a special drink, but a cool cup makes it taste even better.
25. I am not a shoe gal.  In fact I am painfully practical when it comes to shoes, much to my sister's chagrin I am sure.
26. Not only am I practical about my shoes, I'm not very fashionable at all.
27. I am usually the last to know what it going on and I have no idea how or where people get the info they have.
28. I really hate to talk on the phone.
29. the best advice I think you can give a new mom is to pray, pray, pray about everything (even things like sleep training) and then trust your gut.
30. I am thrilled my oldest seems to enjoy reading as much as I do.
31. I really like having 2 girls and 1 boy.
32.  We never intended to give all of our children "E" names, it just kind of happened.
33. I never thought I'd have a child with a double name.
34. I will forever be so thankful for June 7, 2003!  Without it my husband and children would not have been a possibility.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

freaky, huh?


If it weren't for the obvious 1970's photograph, I'd host a give-away and make you all gues who is who.  Indeed folks, it ain't hard to tell you this kid takes after.  Most people say she is the spittin' image of her daddy until I whip out this picture.

moments...

.... that is what I've decided motherhood can summed up as - moments.  Both good and bad, everything is just a moment before it all changes again.  Gone are the leisurely Saturday mornings of hours spent sipping coffee while reading a good book.  Instead they've been replaced with lots of little moments which are so much better.  Moments like when the two big kids are happily entertained with coloring, the baby is napping, your cuppa coffee is still hot (remarkable, really), and you get to blog.  Moments when the house is the exact perfect temperature (very difficult to achieve during an Alabama summer), all 3 children are napping, and you found a diet dr. pepper cherry you didn't know was hiding in the fridge.  Moments such as this morning when the littlest one awakens a full half hour before the other members of the household and you and your beloved get an incredibly rare chance to enjoy just her, all by herself, without the background noise of the bigger kids vying for their fair share of parental affection.

Of course, there are the moments, too, when you've tried to cram in that last errand and you get home at the hottest part of the day, unload 3 hungry children who all happen to be crying, and have to decided who gets fed first.  And you're hungry too because while everyone else got breakfast you were making beds and starting one of 10 loads of laundry scheduled for that day.  And you're pouring sweat because you live in Alabama and it's hot and humid.  And, being hot and hungry, you're desperately close to losing your temper with the first kid who looks at you sideways.  But then you remember to breathe, it's just a moment and it won't take long to get the children inside where it is cool (or at least, cooler), feed them, and everything will be right again.  At least for a moment.  Or the moment that just interrupted the blogging of this post - the moment where you had a show-down, knock-down-drag-out fight with the toddler over a pair of scissors that the preschooler set down for a moment.  Because that's all it takes for a toddler boy to get hold of something he really doesn't need to have - a moment.

Older women keep telling me I'll miss these moments.  And, I believe them on most days.  Treasure the moments, friends.  They are fleeting!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

what's not to love...

... about this precious face?

lost in translation....

.... we were listening to an Indelible Grace cd today at lunch and the song "Jesus Cast a Look On Me"  came on.  In true Emory style, she began belting out the song along with Matthew Perryman Jones, only with her own little twist...

"Jesus, I've got a cast on me..."

Just too precious not to record.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

the pirate story...

.... mostly just for Mom and Dad, but the rest of you can enjoy it too.

About a month ago I had the kids at Sam's.  Ella Margaret was in the Baby Bjorn while Ethan and Emory were in the double cart.  I'm pretty sure I had not yet had a shower and had thrown something random on since we were mostly hanging out at home that day.  Anyways... we were standing next to the lunchmeat making our selection when Emory announces, "Hey Mom.  Look!  A pirate."  I naturally start to half-heartedly scan the packages close to me to see what she's talking about while I am bouncing in order to keep the bjorned baby happy, trying to keep Ethan from spilling his "example" (what Emory calls samples), and make a wise choice in the lunchmeat we'll be eating that week. 

I can't find a package with a pirate on it so I decide to ignore her.

Again, "Hey Mom.  Look!  A pirate."

I decide to "come to" out of my lunchmeat-selecting-while-tuning-out-the-incessant-chatter reverie, and respond with a "What, Emory?" 

Again, this time pointing behind me, "Look, Mom.  A pirate."

I glance behind me and there, sure enough, is a gentleman pushing a cart and wearing an eye patch.

Emory asks, "Can we go over there and say 'Argh' to him?"

I whip my head around so fast that the wind my movement creates almost knocks the 1/4 of a bagel bite out of Ethan's hands and hiss, "No we can not go over there and say 'Argh" to that man."

My reaction was a big mistake because now my eldest child senses my fear and she, being who she is, will exploit this and make me regret not playing it cool. 

"Why can't I say, 'Argh' to the pirate Mommy?" only this time her voice is a mite louder.

Now my voice has dropped to a whisper, "Because he might be sad that he has only one eye."

"Why is the pirate sad, Mommy?"

"He's not a pirate!  And, wouldn't you be sad if you only had one eye?"

"Why does the pirate only have one eye, Mommy?"  again, a little louder than before.

"He's not a pirate!"

"Can I ask the pirate why he only one eye?"

"He's not a pirate! "  then thinking that the best tactic is to just divert the attention off of the "pirate" and onto something else I ask a little too brightly, "Who want to go get some yogurt samples?".

At this time the gentleman passes us, and as fate would have it, Ethan has finally finished his 1/4 of a piece of a bagel bite example, looks up and upon seeing the eye-patch hollers out, "Yo ho ho!" 

Moral of the story? God gives us children to keep us humble.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

out of the mouth of...

.... well, you know. 

Every little piece of fuzz or lint, as well as anything creepy or crawly is dubbed as a "pider!" by Ethan.  It cracks us up!  He'll jump back and say, "Oooo, nathy!  Pider!"  (Translation: "Ew, nasty!  Spider!")

Emory tripped in the kitchen tonight at dinnertime and hollered out, "Mouse!"  I think she meant to say "Rats!".  She's taking after her Gigi.....

just 'cuz they're really cute...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

while the cat's away...

.... our daddy works every other Saturday which is a bummer for mama, not to mention the kiddos.  It makes the week seem really long.  But, it is necessary for his job, so, rather than getting hung up on what I wish was his schedule, I've been trying to make those times extra fun for the kiddos.  This mornning, we had whipped cream on our strawberries.... FOR BREAKFAST!  If you know me at all, this is a rare treat in our home.  But, life was meant to be lived, so here are my babes, living life preschooler style:





Wednesday, May 18, 2011

changing the title of the blog...

.... because my life is not made up of the life and times of this family, but rather one Jesus-lovin' mama who is daily flying by the seat of her pants in her attempt to love and live as Jesus did.... and falling rather short of the mark.  But that is where He comes in.  Jesus, that is.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

a good afternoon...

... that's what is a-happenin' around here at the moment.  Daddy is home for the afternoon because some bad storms last night took out the power of most of our city.  We have power here at the house, however, so said Daddy is watching cartoons with the big girl while the two littles nap.  Ethan's running a fever, probably because we have Ella Margaret's baptism scheduled for this Sunday.  Most of the family is expected and my children like to get sick right before we have guests just to make things interesting.  Will we are will we not have to cancel our plans and tell everyone to sty home?  This is why I don't watch Lifetime; I've got enough drama in my own little corner here.

The upside to the fever is that he's responding very well to a Tylenol/Motrin cocktail (totally used to mock moms who did that!) and he's taking a super-long nap.  SCORE!  And so is the baby, who we've discovered sleeps soooo much better sans paci.  The only sad part to that is she has to cry a bit before drifting off to sleepy town, but she stays asleep longer and has seemed generally better rested, so it's worth it.  I have never really gotten used to hearing my babies cry, and I let EM cry even less than I did the other two probably because I feel so sorry for the chaos her life will be given her birth order.  She gets held so much more just to keep her happy.  I'm such a sucker.  Actually, I prefer to think of it as learning as I go and knowing she won't be a baby like this for long at all.  Too soon she'll be as big as Ethan  and screaming at me, "I do it!"  when I try to open her yogurt for her, or she'll be another Emory and begging me relentlessly for worksheets to practice writing her letters.

For now, I've got a super cool big kid to go cuddle with, two sleeping babies, a cup of "Energy" green tea, and my house is the perfect temperature.  This can only be achieved in the warmer months with the aid of a fan.  And, it only lasts from early afternoon until dusk.  I'm off to enjoy it while I can!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And the Starbuck's goes to....

.... all 3 contestants!  I totally goofed up the directions and finally figured out why I wan't getting the responses I had expected.  More details to follow, but for now I gotta run.  Ethan is dumping out the contents of a brand new box of Cheeze-It's....

Send me your addresses to seskocelas@yahoo.com, gals!

Monday, April 18, 2011

to dream feed or not to dream feed?

That has been a point of a little concern around here.  Dream feeding is that last feed before Mama gets into bed for the night.  You get the baby out of the crib while he/she is still sleeping, attempt to feed them without waking them up, and then lay them right back down for the night.  Basically, a feeding without an awake time, just for those of you who may not know.  I've personally opted not to dream feed with the first two kids, but we considered it with baby number 3.  I was always afraid that the baby would wake up too much and then I'd be stuck with a wide-awake kid right when I was ready to turn in for the night. 

I've been a little more intentional with Ella Margaret about getting her on a schedule as soon as I could, mostly for my own sanity.  I've always been fairly routine oriented (sleep, eat, play) but now I find myself wanting to be able to plan the time we are eating, playing, and sleeping.  Some people become more lax about a schedule as they have more children, I become more needy for a schedule, I guess.  So, for the first time, I was willing to try a dream feed.  I start her day at 7am, waking her if I have to, since she is on a 3 hour schedule.  This means our day looks like this:

7am - awake and eat then "play"
8:15am - sleep
10am - awake and eat then "play"

11:15am - sleep
1pm - awake and eat then "play"

2:15pm - sleep
4pm - awake and eat then "play"

5:30pm - sleep
6:30 - awake and fussy time
7pm - eat
7:30 - down for the night

Now, if I give her a dream feed at 10pm, she sleeps until 4:30am.  This is a good long stretch of sleep for an almost 6 week old, for sure!  She's a real trooper about her night time sleep.  Her big sister was too.  But, it takes about 30 minutes to feed her.  This means, I am getting back into bed at 5am, and the big kids are up at 6:15am.  Not to mention the fact that I've had enough sleep to now be really awake.  It just wasn't working for me.  So, we pulled the dream feed.

Now, Ella Margaret's last bottle is at 7pm (sometimes 7:30 depending on how the day is going) and she gets up anywhere from 1:30am to 2:30am to eat.  She passes right back out after eating, and so do I.  I think I am  barely back in the bed before I am asleep again.  I have a friend who is a big believer in the dream feed, but it just doesn't work for me.  Go figure.  It's all about what factors work together to help Mama keep her sanity!  But this also might be why the earliest any of mine have slept consistently through the night without waking to eat was 6 months. 

Do you dream feed?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Works for me Wednesday...

.... Ok, so this is a day late.  But remember, I live in the land of newborn right now, so the fact that I've had a shower and have not cried today is a huge feat.  But, I just remember something I did before Ella Margaret arrived, in preparation for my stay in the land of newborn.  Are you ready?  It's pure genius, I tell you.

Around here, I often misjudge how "into" a certain fruit my kids are.  I will buy strawberries and they will eat them as though they are the secret of the universe elixir.  So, I will buy them for a second week in a row and my children will snub them as though strawberries are for, you know, common folk.  Not royalty, like my children.  So, here I'll have a plethora of strawberries because, of course, I bought them at Sam's. 

This was causing my frugal husband to develop a rather vicious eye twitch, so I needed a plan.  That's when I happened upon an idea that was really my daughter's in a round-about way.  If my children are snubbing the current week's produce selection, I just freeze it and use it later for smoothies.  I slice it before hand.  I have done strawberries, peaches, blueberries, and bananas this way.  Just remember to slice it first.  Otherwise, it will reek havoc on your blender.  When I slice the fruit, I place it on top of wax paper on a cookie sheet so it doesn't all stick together in one big lump.  Then, after it is frozen, I transfer it to a tupperware container.  It's just a preference, I don't do plastic baggies very often, but I'm sure it would work.

Our favorite smoothie is a half cup each of two different fruits and a cup of any kind of fruit juice that you prefer.  Since the fruit is frozen there is no need to use ice to make it slushy.  Sometimes I cut the juice down to a half cup and add in a half cup of yogurt.  This makes enough for 2 kiddo size smoothies and a small smoothie for the mama too.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Starbucks Give-away!

Correctly guess what 3 of the following 5 phrases of Ethanese translate into English and I'll send you a $10 Starbucks giftcard.  Happy guessing!

1.) bast opp
2.) it yowt
3.) dit dowt
4.) dod
5.) bee bo

Monday, April 11, 2011

just to keep me in the will...

... I'm going to use a rare spare moment to post some pictures of the kids instead of folding laundry, vacuuming, or cleaning the bathroom like I  should be doing.  Enjoy!









Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ella Margaret Skocelas

Meet the newest member of our Skocelai tribe.  Ella Margaret arrived at 4:12am on Wednesday morning.  Our biggest baby so far, weighing in at 9 pounds and 3 ounces and measuring 21.5 inches long.  Incubating for 40 weeks and 5 days will do that to a baby!  Her birth story is the most interesting one so far, but also the shortest.  On Tuesday I had a normal, post-due date doctor's appointment.  Normal, except for the first time in this pregnancy, when I was checked I was actually dilated... to 4cm!  Wahoo!  I was whisked away in office to a non-stress test to see if there was a pattern to the contractions I was obviously not feeling.  It was being determined whether or not I was going to get to go home. 

After my doc saw that there was no pattern, he sent me home with the following, "I predict you'll be back here in 12 to 24 hours."  That was at noon.  I headed to my friend's house to pick up my kids, grabbing lunch for us on the way.  We hung out for a bit and I began to notice that I felt a little different.  I brought my kids home, leaving Ethan with Eric who had worked a half day, and took the big girl out for a date.  There is just something about that girl that I wanted to enjoy by myself one last time before life gets kind of cranked up.  I'm so glad I did. 

She and I ran to Walmart to get some batteries for the camera (so glad I checked that morning!)
and then went home for supper, which the daddy had prepared.  We ate, played, put babies down and I began to feel really restless and energetic - if that makes any sense.  At about 9pm, my friend Aimee dropped by with my cell phone I had left at her house.  While she was there I started having some mild contractions, but enough that she totally noticed me trying to non-chalantly time them.  She asked if we wanted her to stay, but knowing that the contractions could be irregular for a while, we sent her home.  She was not gone 30 minutes before we realized we were going to have to call her back.  I frantically dusted the house knowing it would be a while before it got done again, took a shower, painted my toe nails, and settled on the couch to time contractions again.  At 10:30pm, they started coming every 7 minutes, so at 11:30pm we called the doctor.

I was told to wait until the contractions were painful enough to need pain meds.  At this point my contractions were uncomfortable, but not painful.  However, within 10 minutes of hanging up with the doctor, they were very painful.... and two minutes apart.  We called Aimee and got very nervous because the contractions were really ramping up fast.  Although she got here very fast, I had started to get nervous that we wouldn't make it.  We blew past her almost as soon as her feet were inside the door, and headed to the hospital. 

We made it there by 1am, hitting every green light on our way (praise God!).  I got ushered to a room, and checked and we discovered I was only at 5 cm.  This seemed so strange to me because my contractions were the most intense I've ever had.  At 2am we were finally done with all the initial blood work and admission stuff and I was finally allowed to have some Nubane.  Very shortly after that, I got my epidural.  That process was over at 2:30am, but I immediately could tell it wasn't working like the other 2 I had with my previous deliveries.  I nervously told the nurse that I was still in a lot of pain on my right side, kind of like someone had drawn a line done the middle of my body.  She informed me that I was wrong, I was just feeling pressure.  I let her believe that for about 10 minutes, trying to talk myself into believing it too, before I told her I could tell her how many contractions I had felt in the last 10 minutes and that my pain level on my right side was the same as it had been before the epidural.

That finally got her attention.  In the next hour, I was given two more boosts and another bolus of the anesthesia, none of which worked on my right side.  I could tell that what needed to happen was that it needed to be re-done.  But, by this time, it was 3:45am and I was fully dilated.  The nurse asked me to give a practice push and then she called the doctor in saying, "This one means business."  Well, duh.  I wasn't there for a tea party.  Three hours after we walked in the door we had our little girl, right at 4:12am.  There was a bit of drama initially because the cord was around her neck and she was born so fast that she was in a bit of shock and had to be resuscitated.  She pinked up after a minute or two and has been doing great ever sense.

So there you have it.  The story of the birth of Ella Margaret Skocelas!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

the 4th trimester...

.... officially overdue!  Baby Skotch was due yesterday, and here we are, at today, with no real labor going on at all.  I've got strangers offering to lift my children into the cart for me at Publix, folks at the gym groaning for me when I walk in the door, and 2 crazy kids completely oblivious to their mamas discomfort.  Emory climbed into bed with us at 6:30am, on my side, after removing the obstacle in her way which just happened to be the body pillow holding my belly up.  At 6:40am I asked her to please stop wiggling and she asked me if "we" could get up now.  I told her that she was welcome to get up, Mama was staying abed until 7am!  That was the plan, at least, until I heard the little boy rearranging the location of the rocker from his crib at 6:45am. 

Ethan's favorite new game at bedtime is to play whack-my-head-on-mama's-belly-because-it's-cool-how-it-just-bounces-off.  I let him because maybe it will cause my water to break one of these days.  As Eric was leaving for a short Kid's Market shift this morning he sighed and said, "I can't wait until I'm not always a foot away from you." 

We're a little ready to meet this new little person!  Until that time, we're baking up some banana bread for a Bethlehem Children's home bake sale Emory is running at our gym, getting some hours in at Kid's Market, and Daddy's taking us out to dinner.  He won't tell us where, just that it's a new little place that has only been open a week.  Emory and I are having fun taking guesses.  So far, she thinks it's a restaurant where you can eat while riding a hippo, and I'm thinking some sort of new sandwhich shop.  We'll see!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

because it's Saturday morning and the kids are watching T.V....

I actually have a second to give the bloggy world a pregnancy update.  Ooops, spoke too soon.  I sat down which means I have a lap that the toddler wants to occupy.  Here we go.  Ok, now on to the pregnancy update. 

Currently we are sitting at 39 weeks and 1 day.  There is a small debate about my due date between Dr. and me.  I say tomorrow (2/28) and he says next Friday (3/4).  I won't get into all the reasons why I "know" my due date is different, but I was there and sweet Dr. Mac was not.  But I digress, because at this point it doesn't really matter.  I haven't "done anything" which means I have not dilated a bit, not effaced, and baby is sitting so high that my OB won't even consider inducing me in my current state.  We do have a tentative induction date set for this coming Thursday, March 3rd, but we're not really planning on meeting Baby Skotch that day.  Something tells me this may be my "latest" baby yet. 

I got to have an ultrasound yesterday and I am more anxious than ever to have that baby in my arms.  Baby is measuring in at 8 pounds and 9 ounces, which we all know can be wrong, but has me nervous none-the-less.  The U/S tech did say that all baby's weight is in his/her belly and that the head is measuring small, so it may not be so bad.  We'll see.  Remember, I've had an 8pound, 8 ounce and then a 9 pound baby.  So, they seem to be getting bigger.  Ethan had a big ole head, which may have been why his delivery was more difficult than Emory's was.  Her head was almost 3 inches smaller than his.

Meanwhile, there are 4 folks around here anxious to meet this kid!  Not the least of which is me.  Sciatica, prego exhaustion, and mood swings are a bit much to me when there is a 27 pound toddler in the mix.  Every bit of normal household activity kind of feels like a marathon to me and I am ready to not to be pregnant any more, to say the least.  However, with this beautiful weather we've been having, it's been my goal to pass the time left outside with the babes.

Currently, the littlest is chasing the cat down the hallway with a sword (don't feel sorry for the cat, she started it) and my big girl is completely plugged in to our electronic babysitter.  Hubby is off at work and I am wandering around trying to accomplish a few chores and maybe dry my hair at some point.  Happy Saturday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

at this very moment....

.... we have 2 children running fevers, one with a cough and one with a rash and sore throat.  Hmmm... I'm still opting to sit on it and give it a day or two before shelling out $60 in co-pays just be told the babes have a virus.  So, we've dosed up on Tylenol which seems to be doing the trick.  That, and Mom broke out the special juice reserved for sick kiddos - Kool-Aid!  Rashes and coughs are still with us, but everyone's spirits are lifted.  The weather is in the 60's today, so we've trucked outside, jackets over jammies, to play.  Kids are beside themselves with joy.  The game of choice is "feeding the goats", which amounts to both children pushing pebbles through the fence to our dogs.  That, and cooking up a mean witch's brew in our wading pool that has been left to acumulate water from snow and rain in the past week.  Gotta love a good imagination!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

a few lunch ideas...

..... #1
half a whole wheat pita
spread pb inside
use fresh cut fruit instead of jam or jelly
VOILA!

....#2
cut a few slices of whole wheat bread with cookie cutter shape of choice
toast
spread with pb or cream cheese
top with fave fruit
VOILA!

....#3
open a whole wheat english muffin
spread with favorite tomato sauce
top with cheese of choice (we use almost anything we have in the fridge)
toast
VOILA!

As a variation of #3, you can use cream cheese instead if tomato sauce and top with spinach and feta, tomatoes, olives, peppers, you name it!
Obviously, the above options are more kid-friendly, but all can be dressed up to be more grown-up.  And, I just came across a splendid idea for making chocolate yogurt.  HERE is my recipe for homemade yogurt that is stupid-easy to make.  As you may remember, I make every batch vanilla and prefer to flavor individual servings via my mini-chop.  Well, to make chocolate yogurt, you add a pinch of cocoa.  No need to add sugar if you sweetened your batch of yogurt with honey, like I do.  You can top this delectable treat with strawberries, raspberries, or bananas... whatever you're inclined to do.  I haven't tried this yet, since I just found this recipe today, well, actually about 5 minutes ago which is what got me so excited about healthy lunches I keep forgetting the share.  So, I'm anxious to see if I can pass this off to my kids as a real treat instead of the usually vanilla wafer or fruit snacks they get after meals.  We'll see......

Saturday, January 29, 2011

unexpected joys in motherhood....

- finding a pair of socks tucked behind my pillow as I wearily crawl into bed at night
- a rare afternoon nap for me and being awakened with a kiss from the big girl
- smiles when the discovery of a favorite snack is inside a snack-trap
- the countless pacis on my desk, kitchen counter, bedside table, laundry basket, bath tub, etc...
- children's books stacked on my bedside table and far out-numbering the grown-up books
- the happy dance each kid does as they get their one cup of juice for the day upon rising from bed
- hearing the toddler try to keep up as we sing "ABC's" (he just repeats E-F-G over and over)
- seeing the big girl excited by new responsibilities and owning them as hers
- over-hearing the children playing so sweetly and not being allowed to intrude without breaking the spell
- having both kids help me with supper
- smelling a freshly bathed kid and laughing at the crazy post-bath hair
- fielding impatient comments about the impending arrival of a new siblings

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

trash talkin', four-year-old style

One thing of note about our eldest is that she does not fail well.  At all.  In fact, because she didn't answer the phone the "right way" the first time I bestowed the privilege on her, she now completely refuses to answer a phone.  This trait, not failing well, is fairly common in first borns.  Or, so I'm told.

Once, about 6 months ago, Emory and I had a day where we enjoyed a couple of board games.  Now, the thing about the type of board games you play with a preschooler is that you can't "throw" them to "build" the self-esteem of the poor kid.  Which card you draw when playing Candy Land is not at all something you can alter in any way for your benefit.  Believe me, Emory has tried. 

On this particular day, we had played Candy Land and Hi-Ho Cheerio.  I had won both games.  This was much, much to the dismay of the big girl.  After many tears and talks about losing well, being happy for others when they win, and blah blah blah, Emory asked to play another game.  I can not remember what the game was, but what I do remember is her cocking an eyebrow at me and asking (rather accusatorily), "You gonna win this one too?"

So, tonight after dinner she wanted to play Don't Break the Ice.  We haven't played this one in a long time.  And, it's been a while since we've played a game.  Anyhoo, it lasted until we played the second round, which Emory lost.  I'd lost the first round.  When she lost, she did well.  No tears, just an announcement that she was tired of playing the game and could we now build a snow fort for the little polar bear man.  She announced that we would build forts and the one who used the most ice cubes would win.

We're building and I'm just building a snow fort and minding my own business when she starts in with the "You think you're building a good fort, don't ya?  I'm gonna build an even gooder fort than you."  A little time passes and she realizes that my fort is gooder, due to the fact that I have the motor skills of a 33 year old, and so she asks, "Can we trade forts?"

Puh-lease!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

17 month stats

(almost) a big brother!

- now sits in a big boy chair at the table
- refuses to eat supper unless he has the same utensils the rest of us are using
- can adeptly use a fork and spoon
- loves olives, apples, and yogurt
- has a vocabulary of about 50 words and phrases, with my favorite being "mam, mam" (yes ma'am), "here a go" (here you go), "nigh nigh" (night night), and "tiss?" (kiss?)
- does not appreciate any delay in being gotten from his crib upon awakening
- still takes a substantial morning nap, great afternoon nap, and is finally sleeping through the night!
- has not yet figured how to climb out of his crib (HALLELUJAH!)
- sleeps with 2 pacis - a feeler and a sucker
- prefers his daddy
- can kick a ball better than he can throw, but is pretty darn good at both
- loves his sissy unless he's busy
- thinks the dogs are the best thing to play with
- is more socially aware than his sister was and already knows the names of most of our friends without prompting
- will not get out of the bath tub without a fight unless you promise to sing "Rock-a-bye, baby" while he's wrapped in his towel
- can brush his own teeth
- can't stand to be left out of anything
- loves to go bye-bye
- will not watch a video unless we are in the car

Monday, January 3, 2011

Warning: this post will contain a bit of mush.

... now I am not a mushy gal.  Not in the least sentimental.  The sentimental one is my husband.  However, I am not heartless, and occasionally my heart is touched, deeply, by random things.  I once cried over the fact that my husband remembered cheese puffs versus cheese curls when he packed me a lunch on a busy Saturday afternoon during Kid's Market season.  Granted, I was about 8 weeks pregnant, but my point is, completely random things make me feel sentimental.

Tonight we took down the tree and holiday trimmings in order to make room for all the baby gear that Ethan needs to get accustomed to not being allowed to touch.  Two months practice should do it.  Anyhow, I was working the kitchen while Eric was taking the ornaments off the tree and it reminded me of the time we were dating and I could not find the time to get my Christmas tree down.  I was working and in school, both full time, and I was a bit stressed that this tree would still be in my apartment mid-March.

Well, my knight in shining armor came to my rescue.  I arrived home after a very full day to an empty tree stand sitting on my dining room table.  Well, it was devoid of a tree, but had been filled with tulips, my favorite flower.  Touching, isn't it?  There is even a picture of it somewhere in a drawer.

Tonight my valiant man has, without a word of complaint or a moment's hesitation, taken down a tree, put half the kids to bed, unloaded the dishwasher, and is just now relaxing in his chair.  What a guy.