Life. Love. Family. My Perfect Imperfection.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Lenten Photo Challenge, week 2

Sharing my photos again from the Lenten photo challenge on Instagram.


Day 8: Gift



Gift: E's teacher (as well as Alex's teacher) has truly been a gift to our son, and our family. I'm grateful everyday for them both and the school as a whole!
















Day 9: Family


Family: This only part of my family. Our nieces and nephews and our sons from my side of our family. Not everyone is here. 3 of our nephews are not in the picture. We also have a beautiful niece on my husband's side of our family. I'm thankful for all these special kids!













Day 10: Something I carry


I don't do it as often anymore in a baby carrier or wrap but he's still in my arms plenty. This is an older picture of me wearing Jack in the Moby Wrap.















Day 11: Witnessing
Ethan and Alex are always playing with and helping to take care of Jack. They truly love him and he loves them too. It's hard to snap a picture with both of these boys not in motion, LOL. Alex is always on the move and Jack is definitely following in his footsteps! I was "witnessing" brotherly love in this picture. :)












Day 12: Charity

This one took me a while, but I found this carton in the boys' room for Habitat for Humanity. They are supposed to collect money to donate.















Day 13: Humanity; Day 14: Alive
The next two days I put two photos together. One I've had for over a year, the ultrasound picture. It's the very first picture I have of Jackson. The other is from just a few days ago. Just as I wrote on Instagram, this IS humanity, and he truly was no less alive the day of that ultrasound than he is today. I really believe that. A baby is a baby, no matter how "big" or how many cells they have. Conception is the beginning of life. What you do with that truth, I suppose, is up to you. But it is the truth.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Proud of my boys

This weekend was a big one for the 2 older boys. E had the regional spelling bee and Alex had the blue and gold banquet for cub scouts.

I took Ethan along with my mother-in-law and Jack to the community college where the bee was being held. I made sure E was okay with me not sitting backstage with him. Last year, Jas sat back there, just in case. He was so funny. He said to me "No, mom, I'm ok. I'm mom's big boy. I'm your big boy!" LOL. Yes, buddy, you sure are. So we went and sat down to wait for the kids to all be called back so they could start the bee. We waited for almost an hour! Finally they called the kids back and announced the judges and the gentleman who was giving the words, as well as stated the rules. E was #25 so we had a little of a wait. During the first round, each child had to state their name and school and then spell their first word. Of course, my son, the ham that he is, had everybody in the audience laughing. I even heard at least one person behind me say she remembered him from last year. He really does shine, and make an impression on people. I really don't know why I worry about his future so much. He's going to do just great out there in the big wide world some day. I just hope that "someday" doesn't get here too quickly... Anyway, he got the first word right: denture. They were having difficulty during the first round with sound so after all 75 students had a turn (53 made it to the next round), they took a 15-20 minute break.

Second round came and it was eventually E's turn again. This time: oratorio. He spelled it incorrect - ouritorio - but after a big sigh of disappointment, he walked off stage calmly and was just fine. :) I found out later that 38 kids went out in the second and third rounds, and round 12 ended with just 2 left. The last 2 boys battled it out for 13 more rounds, when the top speller finally run in round 25! Crazy! Anyway, so after E got out, I gathered our things, met my M-I-L and Jack in the lobby and picked E up from backstage and he got his "prizes" - a certificate, a dictionary, and a tote bag with a ruler, pencil and pad of paper inside. He decided since he has the same dictionary from last year, he wants to donate this year's to his classroom. When I asked him how he felt about getting out so early on, he said he was ok, and "how am I supposed to spell the word right, when I couldn't even understand what he was saying?" and "I don't remember even studying that word!" Ha. He is certainly something else.

Big thanks to Marsha - my M-I-L - for helping me out with Jack. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you!

Alex went with Jason and my F-I-L to the blue and gold banquet. They got to eat chicken shack and enjoy some time visiting. After lunch, they had the awards ceremony, starting with the younger kids (tiger, wolf and bear) and then the webelos got their awards and they did a special "arrow of light" ceremony.

Alex received his Bobcat patch and pin (finally!), his Wolf patch and pin, his Blue and Gold patch, Order of the Eskimo patch (for winter fun day), Scout Sunday patch (for wearing his uniform to church in February for Scout Sunday), and his Gold Arrow Point for finish 10 electives in his Wolf book.

He was so excited to show us when we met up at the house. I don't think he stopped smiling at all! Love it! We are excited to work on more electives with him, as well as belt loop activities, the family fun book and the Light of Christ book (so he can earn the family badge, and the pin/badge for Catholic 2nd graders!). I'm planning to drive over to the Scout store and pick those 2 books up this week, so he can finish them before the end of the school year.

At his next pack meeting, he should get his first two belt loops - collecting and video games. He is starting to collect coins from around the world and has a pretty nice start from old coins Jason and I had and gave to him. He found a 1943 steel penny at the consignment shop a couple of weeks ago that we are going to go back and get one of these days. ;)

As soon as we get all his patches on his uniform shirt and patches/pins on his red vest (before next Tuesday's den meeting?), he wants to wear his uniform on their next casual day - probably this Thursday! - to show the kids what he got. Seriously, the boy is so excited!

These two make me proud, not just because of what they do, but because of how they handle things. Even though Ethan didn't win, he took it in stride, mostly, and worked hard up until then. Alex worked hard to earn those badges, and wants to continue to work hard to earn more. So I'm proud that they aren't giving up, that they are building character, trying new things, working hard, learning, and having fun all the way! Speaking of learning and trying new things, Ethan went up to two of the other contestants on Sunday to introduce himself. While we probably need to work on his etiquette a little, he's made great strides in that. Before, he would have been oblivious to the other boys and girls, but he told me he wanted to go meet them! Baby steps are becoming leaps...

Oh yeah, and a big shout-out to my in-laws, Marsha and Joe! Thank you so much for treating us to dinner Sunday night and for coming with us to the boys' activities! It meant a lot to us and it was so nice to see you guys. I hope we can make it down your way sooner than later. And even though my mom had to work, thanks to my mom and dad, Linda and Gale, for thinking of us, texting me to find out how they did, and for trying to watch the live-stream, even though it was a crappy audio! I can't wait to see you guys again. It's been too long. :(

Friday, February 22, 2013

IRL, my existence is

quite lonely.

Sad, right? I am not writing this for a pity party, or anything of that sort. More so to see if I'm the only person like this, and to give others some perspective, some insight on my life. 

My typical week (which is seriously probably 50 weeks out of the year) goes something like this:
Sunday: Go to Mass if we all make it up in time and are in decent moods, drive home, sit at home or maybe go to a store and walk around with Jason and the kids. Possibly go out for a cheap meal. Watch TV. Go to bed.
Monday: Get up, shower, make breakfasts/lunches. Drive the kids to school, go home and sit with Jackson, clean the house, watch tv, etc. Pick the kids up, go home, cook dinner. Watch TV. Go to bed. Throughout the day, go online.
Tuesday: Repeat
Wednesday: Rinse, Lather, Repeat (seeing a pattern yet? LOL), except throw in a couple of hours of babysitting now.
Thursday: Same as Monday.
Friday: All of the above, plus I do the budget. Every other week I try to do the grocery shopping with just Jack, which usually entails 2-3 stores and several hours. Sometimes that's not done till Saturday, or even Sunday on occasion.
Saturday: Take the boys back and forth to Catechism, most weeks, and then usually we end up just sitting at home the rest of the day, unless there is some special thing going on.

Holidays are special because we always go to see family, so that's always out of the norm.

I haven't gone out with a friend for coffee, or lunch in 18 months. And before that, I don't think ever. When we go to Mass, we get there right at the start (if not a couple of minutes late :( ) and leave right after, and since they don't really ever have fellowship Sundays or things like that, I don't know anybody from our Parish. Well except in passing, like the boys' teachers, our priest and deacon, the religious education director and a couple moms that happen to have daughters in Alex's class. I don't even think any of them know my first name. Is that their fault? I suppose not. There's no "moms' group" or anything.

Since we've lived here, we've been to one of Jason's co-workers houses once to hang out last summer, we have asked another to watch our dog when we took a mini-vacation, and had my one friend over with her boys for dinner one time. In 3 and a half years. 

Even when I did work, back in MD, and then in OH, I didn't do anything outside of work or home really. Sometimes in Maryland, my friend Jill and I would get together, and while we had fun, in all honesty it was mostly play-dates for E and her daughter. I think we may have gone out once in almost 4 years of living there. 

Boring.

This part has nothing to do with loneliness but I don't buy clothes or shoes, for myself, unless it's an absolute necessity. I just don't find it worth it. I own 3 pairs of jeans right now, and that's it. Several shirts that get rotated each week (read: 8 or 9!). My pj's consist of old t-shirts that just aren't suitable for public sight, LOL - stains, etc and sweatpants/pajama pants. I own 2 dresses that I bought back in 2007 for my S-I-L Confirmation and I usually wear those to Mass, 2 or 3 dresses that no longer fit :( and 2 skirts that I'd wear but I have no "dress" shirts to go with them. I own one pair of black heels that I wear whenever I dress up, a few pairs of flip-flops for summer and  pair of sketchers shape-ups that I wear daily (even in the winter!) and have had at least 2 years now. My coat is about 5 years old, and I almost replaced it this year, but the one I wanted, they were out of my size locally and I didn't want to spend double ($120) on it online. I know, I probably sound cheap. I really do buy my clothes at Meijer. I haven't spend more than $15-20 on jeans or a shirt in a very long time, and when I did, it was only once I think, at Torrid. I actually splurged and spent $80 on some stupid jeans and they didn't even last as long as many of the ones I've gotten at Meijer!

I don't wear makeup. I don't see the point really. Jason doesn't mind and I'm sensitive to many of the ingredients anyway. Mascara and eyeshadow make my eyes itch and burn something fierce. I honestly can not get lipstick to look right, I haven't found a shade that looks good on me. Generally, the only jewelry I wear is my wedding ring and occasionally I'll wear a necklace. I have my ears pierced 3 times, but never even wear earrings anymore. I don't paint my nails (and even if I did, it would look like crap!). The last time I got my hair cut, I had it trimmed a couple of months ago, but usually it's a year or more in between because it feels like such a waste of money. It's not like I ever do anything with it anyway. Wash, condition, brush. Every day. It won't hold a curl, even with a can of spray. I don't even remember the last time I had it in a ponytail, haha. It's getting really long now though. Basically I'm not a fashionista, and I'm not into beauty "stuff". I don't have time, expertise, or the money to deal with it. 

I literally do nothing. I mean, I do stuff. I clean (sometimes, HA), cook, take care of the kids, watch tv, read, blog, facebook, etc. But when I leave the house, it's to take the kids to school, catechism, the doctor/dentist, or to go grocery shopping or to a restaurant with the family. We don't have a date night. Ever. We don't have a babysitter. Period. It's like a vacation to go visit our parents 2 hours away or my sister down in Columbus. Just to be around other people, other adults. I love Jason very much, but sometimes it's a drag to not have anybody to just hang out with and do stuff with besides him, or even go on a date with him.

Like I said though, I'm not trying to complain. I just don't think people understand where I'm coming from. I REALLY don't have any friends (at least that live close enough to just go visit) or a support system nearby besides Jason. My son's poor teacher is about the closest thing I have to a "coffee break" and only because when I get there each morning, I talk her ear off for 10 minutes or more. I'm surprised she hasn't reported me for stalking! LOL. Luckily, she's nice and has pity on this SAHM. Now I'm not saying all SAHMs are this way. I'm sure it's just me. I also don't think having a job would help. If I did, I would never see Jason, because we'd work opposite shifts so we wouldn't have to pay for daycare for Jack, let alone find someone we trust. I would probably have to work weekends, due to my skill set and experience. Plus, at work, I'm all about work, not making friends or socializing really. So I still wouldn't have friends or whatever.

I don't even know what the whole point of this post is. Sometimes, you just get a bug stuck in you, and you have to get it out, ya know? Whatever. It doesn't matter. It just is

7 Quick Takes #2


--- 1 ---
I'm looking forward to this weekend. We aren't doing much of anything tomorrow, but Sunday is going to be a fun, busy day. Ethan is in the regional bee for the Scripp's National Spelling Bee and if he wins, he goes on to the National Bee in Washington, DC. Alex is attending the Blue and Gold Banquet for Cub Scouts and will get (hopefully) his bobcat and wolf badges and possible his gold and first silver arrow points. He's super excited about it. Jason talked to his mom last night and they are going to come up and visit for the day. Jason and F-I-L will go with Alex, and M-I-L, Jack and I will go with Ethan, since the events are at the same time. Exciting!

--- 2 ---
 We've got a cold bug going around here. First, Jason, who hardly ever gets sick, came down with it a few days ago, but is feeling much better now. Then I started feeling not so great, first with a stuffy nose, aches, and just kind of yucky feeling. Now I'm pretty much just coughing and a bit stuffy. Last night, Baby Jack started coughing some and has a runny nose. :( This is probably his first real cold, though he had a stuffy nose for a couple of days a while back. I'm just hoping that he's better quickly and that E and A don't get sick.

--- 3 ---
The second trimester at school is over next week and we have conferences. I like that I can go online and keep track of their grades, so there's no shockers on the grade cards. Right now, they are doing good. Alex has all A's and E has mostly A's and B's with a C in Art. I'll be glad when Art is over for him, because his perfectionism holds him back so much in there. He's assigned Spanish next trimester, which I hope he enjoys. Alex has Spanish, too, but goes all year since he's only in elementary (3rd). Talent show is coming up at the end of March, right before Spring Break.

--- 4 ---
Speaking of Ethan, we've been having a lot of frustration lately, to the point of him being self-injurious. He'll pinch his cheeks, smack himself, bang his head with a book, he even poked himself in the leg with mechanical pencil. No amount of telling him not to seemed to be working. So I offered him some incentive. Earn a star for each day of no hurting himself, and a second star for following along with class (he has a tendency to go ahead in the subject, or finish early and then find something else to do) and collect 40 stars. At that point, he can pick out a (up to $15) video game. So far, he's had two great days in a row. We'll see if the bribe incentive works...

 --- 5 ---
Jason has to go out of town for work, starting March 3 but he'll be back the 8th, thankfully. He gets to go to Ft. Worth, TX to meet with the big bosses. It should be an interesting week around here.

--- 6 ---
 Thanks to a good friend who told me about them, I bought some dye-free suckers and gummy bears at Meijer (local grocery store). They are Yum Earth brand, and even though they are on clearance and we probably won't be able to get them there for much longer, I'm pretty excited! The suckers are pretty good - I especially like the watermelon flavor and the boys liked them a lot. They have yet to try the gummy bears, but I ate a pack. They are pretty good flavor-wise, but kind of hard/sticky, not really sure how to explain it. They don't remind me of the softer versions I'm used to, I guess. But none-the-less, they aren't bad at all! I'm sure the kids will enjoy them as a treat.

--- 7 ---
I played my flute the other day for the first time in a while and it was nice. I want to get into playing more often. I was even thinking of looking into a local community band that is through the community college, maybe in the fall. It might be fun! If not, at least I have quite a few decent pieces of music laying around here and the boys always love to hear me play. :)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What we tried this week...

Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!
We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.
This week we're answering the question: What new foods or recipes have you tried or discovered?
You can see all the responses to this question on February 21 at the link-up post.
To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!

***

Since I already had the menu planned with mostly easy and all well-known recipes, I really didn't expect to have any new food or recipes. But I've never had much luck making good pork chops and knew I needed to find a recipe to try, so this was good inspiration to look for something different instead of doing the same old thing. 

I found this recipe and since I still have bread crumbs left from before the start of the challenge, I didn't buy anything outside of the rules! I did change 3 things - I left out the parsley, I browned them using coconut oil instead of olive oil and I "double-dipped" the pork chops, first in the egg mix, then the breadcrumbs, then the eggs and finally the breadcrumbs again.

Outcome...


AMAZING! They were flavorful, moist and tender! Alex finished his whole plate in less than 10 minutes (never happens!) and Ethan followed close behind. Jack even liked the meat. Definitely making these again.

What else did I buy that was new to us? Hmm. Honestly not much. I did buy a fresh mango for Jack to try and some fresh sugar-snap pea "packs" with ranch for Alex to take in his lunch, as well as some pears, which I have bought before and made puree for Jack several months ago but these are for E and Alex to take for snack or with lunch. Alex tried the snap peas today but said he didn't really like them "raw".

OH, I forgot! I also made "pop". I found the recipe in one of my cookbooks, The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook, that we bought back when we were trying a gluten-free diet to see if E had any digestive problems from gluten and if it would help with his frustrations, anxiety, etc. We saw some change but after going back to a "typical" diet, honestly we haven't seen a big difference. Although he has allergic shiners (dark circles under his eyes) that did seem to go away, as well as his skin cleared up on his cheeks, and those came back at some point in the last 2 years. I've been considering having him retested for gluten intolerance, because at the time he was tested the first time, he was already off of gluten for several weeks and I'm not sure we got an accurate reading. But that's a whole other topic...
So back to the pop I made. All you need is 1 liter of seltzer water and frozen juice concentrate and possible some fresh lemon and lime juice. I could only find a 2 liter seltzer water so I used that.

Recipe:
1 liter seltzer water
4-6 Tablespoons frozen juice concentrate, thawed
(they recommend using white grape juice and a splash of lemon and lime juice)

After dumping a small amount of seltzer water out, carefully and slowly pour juice concentrate into bottle, taking care not to cause too much fizz. It WILL cause a mess if you go to fast. Trust me!

I used a 2 liter seltzer water and 12 T white grape juice concentrate. Alex loves it, E somewhat liked it but doesn't really guzzle many drinks ;) and Jas thought it tasted to much like plain seltzer and said maybe to add a little more juice next time. I personally can't stand flavored water, or flavored seltzer, not sure why, so to be honest, I didn't even try it. Plus I'm big on cola-type pops, especially Pepsi (throwback is my fave) so yeah.

Oh yeah, and I flavored some more yogurt at home. Not really a new recipe, or even a recipe at all, but I just take organic, whole milk, plain yogurt and add an organic jelly (one that is preferably just fruit and maybe a touch of sugar) until flavored to taste. All the boys and Jas liked it, and this time I used the Cascadian Farm blueberry fruit spread. I can't get over the "sourness" of yogurt so again I won't eat it, but it's nice to find a healthier alternative to the gogurts and pre-flavored, ultra-sweetened store bought yogurts that everybody else will eat.

By the way, even though it's not really new food for me, I have eaten more fruits and veggies in the last couple of weeks! I even stepped on the scale for the first time in several weeks and was pleasantly surprised to see I've dropped 6 1/2lbs! 181, down from 187.5, since the beginning of the year. That's even with not exercising! I needed to share ;)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lenten photo challenge

You may remember that I'm participating in a Lenten photo challenge. I figured I would share here for my less computer-savvy readers that may not get to enjoy my pictures on instagram, facebook or twitter but will come read the blog. (Hey, Mom!!) I will try to remember to share my pictures and thoughts once a week on here. Not only is it nice to share, but it really got me contemplating more too.



Day 1: Cross
This first picture is of a Crucifix I bought
when we lived in Ohio. A family was visiting
that was selling these beautiful hand-made
items and I fell in love with this. It's made
from olive wood. I chose this for the first day
as it's actually only on of two crosses we have
in our home. The other is a small pewter cross
that E received as a gift in celebration of his
First Communion 2 years ago. I'm sure we
have many small crosses somewhere, on the
many Rosaries we have but those are the only
"separate" crosses/crucifixes that we have.
Now that I'm thinking about it, it makes me
somewhat sad. On either side sit Angels, both bells, both gifts. They remind me of my Guardian Angel who is with Jesus!

Day 2: To Pray With
The second day we were to take a picture of something we can pray with. While I don't use it often enough, and I don't pray the Rosary nearly enough, I do carry this is my purse, along with a second one. This was a gift, and as horrible as this will sound, for the life of me, I can't recall from whom I received it! :( It is beautiful though and smells faintly of roses. The Rosary is a beautiful prayer, not to Mary but about Jesus, to Jesus, through Mary. The scriptural Rosary is a very powerful prayer, that helps you contemplate her life, Jesus' life and death, and brings you closer to God. I'm not sure why I don't pray it more, other than the fact that I just don't find time in my day to do it.


Day 3: Peace


Peace. What brings peace more than sleep? Ah, the sight of a sleeping baby. ;) This picture makes me smile, mainly because for a long time (and I very much treasure those moments!) Jackson wouldn't sleep anywhere but on my chest. Lately he's been sleeping in the crib at naptime most days, and at night for the first several hours and then co-sleeping in our bed after he wakes for that first night-time feed. Yes, he's still nursing during the night, at 13 1/2 months old. LOL. In fact, as I write this, he's napping very peacefully in our room and I am taking full advantage ;)



Day 4: Love
Love is many-splendored thing. Or something like that. It is unconditional in it's true form. This picture is of an image on a decorative plate that I found at a thrift store a few years ago. It has the Last Supper image in the center, and several images around the outer edge. It hangs in our dining room currently. This particular image, as I shared on instagram, reminds me of a mother's love for her child, the love Mary had for Jesus and the perfect Love God has for us. It is also a reminder of the love our children have for us. Jesus loves us even when we screw up, even when we sin. He knows we are not perfect, that we are "only human", after all God the Father made us this way, in His image, but not perfect or all-knowing. Yet He forgives us and loves us and encourages us to do better and "sin no more" even though tomorrow we will, and can only hope to try to do better.




Day 5: Light


I was trying to get a picture of the sanctuary lamp but as I was trying to take it, I decided it was easier to get the Tabernacle as well. It's truly fitting though, because He is in there, in the form of the Eucharist and He is the the Light of the World. The picture is blurry because I was holding a very squirmy 1 year old after Mass! Still, I think it conveys the message.











Day 6: Happiness
Happiness is bath time... (with daddy!) I only add the "with daddy" part because a.) I always just take over with the baby duties, i.e. feeding, bathing, etc, so it's a rare thing daddy gets the opportunity to do this, and last night, he just took over. LOL. He didn't even give me the chance to do it. b.) It was truly a happy moment for Jack, as he thought it was so neat that daddy was giving him a bath and was playing and giving him a mohawk with the shampoo. I love seeing my boys spending time with their dad. It really makes my day :)







Day 7: Fruit
Fruit given to us from the Earth, by God. A small harvest, truly: bananas, red grapes, strawberries, avocados, blueberries, pears, clementines, apple slices, and a mango! It's a true blessing. But what other "fruit" are we given? We will be known the fruits of our labor, our good works. This got me thinking. What fruit do I bear? Good will towards others? Surely not enough. Kindness? Nope. I argue with Jason and yell at the boys. Almsgiving? Not really, since it seems we never have anything to give. Service? The only place I volunteer is at school once in a while. Praying for others? On occasion, if I really remember to, though people I care about are always on my mind and I guess I do say a quick little prayer for them if something is going on. I'm truly grateful for all the "fruits" we have been given, the blessing from God - good, healthy food; Jason's job and paychecks; two vehicles that are safe and reliable; 3 amazing sons; all the extras that make life a little more fun; my sons' school and teachers; friends and family. But how do I give back, spread the blessings, bless others, share God's love? What can I start to do? What can I change? Food for thought...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Menu for Feb 16 - Mar 2

There is some overlap with the old menu but some of the meals are carrying over. I'm changing up my planning a bit too. Instead of being so strict with the daily meals, I'm going to just list breakfast and lunch options for the 2+ weeks and the actual menu for dinners which will be planned out mostly, since we have meatless Fridays during Lent and leftovers every Monday.

I'm dropping the chicken salad even though we didn't eat it. We are carrying over tacos, nachos, homemade fish sticks, and pork chops and fried potatoes. I'm also going to give myself a break from cooking a couple of times ;) So here's what I'm planning:

Breakfast options:
cereal
jelly toast with yogurt
eggs and toast
pb toast with fruit
leftover waffles
pancakes
blueberry muffins and yogurt
sausage gravy and biscuits
oatmeal
eggs and muffins
     Lunch options:
    1.  muffins, cheese, pretzels, carrots w/ranch
    2.  ham and cheese rollups, yogurt, pretzels
    3.  egg salad/tuna sandwiches, fruit, yogurt
    4.  leftover chicken chunks, cheese, grapes, yogurt, pretzels
    5.  oatmeal, fruit
    6.  lunchmeat and cheese sandwich, fruit, yogurt
    7.  tortilla rollups (lunchmeat and cheese), fruit, yogurt
    8.  egg salad/tuna sandwiches, fruit, pretzels
    9.  hummus with tortilla/tuna sandwich, yogurt, fruit
    10.  lunchmeat and cheese sandwich, pretzels, fruit
    11.  leftover spaghetti, yogurt
    12.  oatmeal, fruit
    13.  leftover meatloaf sandwich, fruit, yogurt
    14.  ham/salami and cheese rollups, fruit, yogurt, pretzels
    15.  grilled cheese, tortilla chips, fruit
    16.  peanut butter/sunflower seed butter and jelly, yogurt, fruit
     Dinners:
    • Saturday, Feb 16: Tacos (ground beef seasoned with homemade taco seasoning, homemade refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, cheddar, taco shells and tortillas)
    • Sunday, Feb 17: Eat out - possibly
    • Monday, Feb 18: Pork chops, pan-fried potatoes, green beans
    • Tuesday, Feb 19: Leftovers
    • Wednesday, Feb 20: "Grilled" chicken (seasoned with garlic, sea salt, pepper), mac and cheese, corn
    • Thursday, Feb 21: Nachos with ground beef
    • Friday, Feb 22: Spaghetti and garlic bread
    • Saturday, Feb 23:Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn
    • Sunday, Feb 24: Chicken alfredo with broccoli
    • Monday, Feb 25: Leftovers
    • Tuesday, Feb 26: Breakfast sausage, eggs and toast
    • Wednesday, Feb 27: Cheeseburgers, chips, carrots w/ranch
    • Thursday, Feb 28: Pizza pockets
    • Friday, Mar 1: Homemade fish sticks and fries, salad, corn
    • Saturday, Mar 2: Eat out

      7 Quick Takes Friday, #1 :)

      This is my first time joining in on Quick Takes, so you'll have to forgive me. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right ;) I've seen it several times before and it looked like fun. 
       

      --- 1 ---
       I joined Instagram on Wednesday. I saw a link-up on Facebook for Catholic Sistas to their Lenten photo challenge and thought "How neat it would be to join in!" I love to take photos and I'm trying to grow in my faith so this goes hand-in-hand with both. You can follow me on Instagram. My username is growingintome. :)
      --- 2 ---
      Baby J went to bed early last night but woke up around 10 and was wide awake till after midnight. He didn't eat a lot at dinner and even though he had nursed right before he fell asleep around 7:30, he was hungry. I gave him one of those baby smoothie things and he seemed happier. But he didn't want to go back to sleep, or be held. After a little while of playing, he didn't really know what he wanted. Just about midnight, he laid down on the living room floor and just crashed out. It was really sweet. Of course, by that point, I couldn't fall asleep and I never went to bed until 2:45 :-o Talk about a tired mama this morning!
      --- 3 ---
      Speaking of Baby J, and nursing, I think he's starting to slowly wean himself. It makes me sad and happy all at the same time. E and A both were formula fed after a few short weeks of struggling with breastfeeding, so this is a much longer time, being over 13 months now. It's been a really amazing journey, even with a few hiccups in the beginning. Having support and help has really made a difference, and he and I have such a wonderful bond and experience. Nursing a toddler is definitely different than nursing an infant, and I love the way his face lights up when I recognize what he wants and mama's milk makes him happy, healthy and full. I love that I can give him that and that he can play with daddy and still bond with him. That's been a journey in it's own right.
      --- 4 ---
      I'm babysitting today. 2 little girls, one that's 11 and in 6th grade with E, and was in his class last year, and one who is 6. They are usually over here on Wednesdays for a couple of hours after school. It's been very interesting to see the differences and likenesses between girls and boys. I'm not used to having girls around :) It's been kind of nice to have some other girls around, plus it's done wonders for my boys' social skills, especially E.
      --- 5 ---
      Ash Wednesday ended up being a long day. We didn't make it to morning Mass, and then by the time dinner was finished, and everybody was done with homework, I had lost track of time, so we didn't make to evening services either :( The boys have Catechism class tomorrow and we are going to make it to Mass at some point this weekend. It's been difficult taking the 3 boys myself but when we make it, it's so worth the effort. 
      --- 6 ---
      I'm still doing The 6 Ingredient Challenge and this week's writing prompt asks what new foods/recipes we are trying, so I'm eager to find at least a couple of new foods AND recipes. Join in over at Hobo Mama and Anktangle.
      --- 7 --- 
      There's a talent show coming up at the boys' school and they are doing a skit/dance with friend. Have you seen "pillow people"? It's really cute. I can't wait to see them do it. We've just got to get their costumes together and have them practice the dance. We're using the song "Cha Cha Slide 2.0" by DJ Casper, so it should be fairly easy to learn. I just hope they enjoy themselves. :)
      For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

      Thursday, February 14, 2013

      6 Ingredient Challenge, Week 2

      Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!
      We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.
      This week we're answering the question: How is the Six Ingredient Challenge going for you so far?
      You can see all the responses to this question on February 14 at the link-up post.
      To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!

      ***

      I'm doing this one a little different. I'm going to write little blurbs (hopefully each day) throughout the week and share on the 14th. 

      2/8/13
       We are doing pretty good so far. I only do the main grocery shopping for the 5 of us every two weeks so it makes it a little easier. I do usually have to get a few perishables every few days, though. For us, I planned to buy as few items with more than 6 ingredients as possible. We did pretty good, but did (as I mentioned in week 1's post) buy cereal, granola bars, fruit snacks and a couple of other things that I really didn't even check. I know that the granola bars have 8 or 9 ingredients. Since we've already been buying mostly organic, avoiding food dyes, sodium nitrates/nitrites, and high fructose corn syrup, I figured those items would be our vices so to speak. In all honesty though, I have made some questionable choices. I had planned not to eat out at all, at least the first 2 weeks of the challenge. Especially after the pizza "incident". The other morning, we were running so far behind, Baby J and I didn't eat before we took the boys to school, so I treated us to breakfast at Big Boy's. Another morning, I stopped at Burger King for a quick breakfast (we are trying to cut fast food out entirely, but I'm struggling with this one). Finally, yesterday, we were out getting Baby J's birth certificate, had an hour left on our parking meter, and were across the street from numerous restaurants. I chose Subway, and while I know it's not healthy, it might have been better than the other choices. So starting fresh today. Over the next week, we will pick off the menu (mama included ;) ) and on Thursday or Friday I will start planning for the next 2 weeks. I'll probably plan it a little more flexible than before.

      2/9/13
      Still sticking to the challenge. I picked up some toddler smoothies for Jack today - the ones in the little pouches - for a quick snack or breakfast on days we are running late over the next week. I made sure to check the # of ingredients to and since water and fruit don't count, they had 5 ingredients each (yogurt/milk, and added vitamins).

      2/10/13
      I have got to learn how to make a good loaf of whole wheat bread :( We had to stop at the store after Mass today and get milk, eggs, dishwasher soap and, you guessed it, bread. I didn't even bother looking at the ingredients of the bread. I know it's more than 6 ingredients but my boys really like sandwiches for lunch and toast with eggs. I have a really nice breadmaker, but I've never had luck making a good sandwich loaf that everybody will eat. Especially, one that's whole wheat. However, I've recently started using King Arthur white whole wheat for all my baking and it seems quite a bit "lighter" so I may have to attempt again.

      2/11/13
      Ugh! Not doing good today. Well, actually, we had a great day in most ways. Snow day for the kids, so they played and helped out with the baby while I cleaned and re-organized the whole kitchen! Of course, I forgot to eat much of anything, and by dinnertime I had a headache. Tomorrow is trash day so we always try to do leftovers on Monday night. Jas had a parent/leader meeting for cub scouts so he was only home for a short time. Nothing sounded good to me so we fed the boys and after he was done with the meeting, he stopped and bought fast food. Blech! It wasn't even that good! Oh well. Thinking ahead to next week. Also, I talked to the boys about the gogurt they usually get for school lunches and we decided together that we aren't going to buy it anymore. It's sad when they add 3 thickening agents, plus vitamins into it to make it what it is. I explained we can use plain whole milk yogurt and add jelly/jam/applesauce/maple syrup/etc to flavor it and it will be healthier! They actually loved the idea. :)

      2/12/13
      Remembered that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and we need a meatless meal. Jack and I stopped and picked up frozen shrimp (for Jas, E and A) and some boxed Annie's mac and cheese for all of us. I think the mac and cheese had 6 or 7 ingredients but it was darn close ;)

      2/13/13
      Yay, dinner turned out good with green beans thrown in for good measure. Since we were at an appointment, I did stop and grab some fries on the way home because I was starving. :( Not doing so good on the no fast food, no pop, no candy for Lent so far, and it's only the first day! But I am starting a new menu tomorrow and most of the stuff from the last two weeks were within the "rules" so I'm pleased. Now that I'm starting from scratch a little more so (having used up some things we already had, but may have been over 6 ingredients), I can really see where we are, and how we/I am doing. Our budget is a bit tighter this week so it should be interesting...

      2/14/13
      Happy Valentine's Day! We don't usually do anything special for V-day. Tonight we are just going to have chicken quesadillas for dinner. In conclusion for the week, I can say we did ok as a family, but mama, not so great. I am grateful for this though, because it is helping me see my mistakes, keeping me honest, and accountable, and at the end I hope to be able to come back and see how far we have come!!

      Wednesday, February 13, 2013

      Baby J's appointment

      Today was Baby J's eval for physical therapy. At his 12 month appointment, I filled out an "ages and stages assessment" to rate where he was with all of his gross and fine motor skills, speech, and social skills. He missed passing for gross motor by 1 "point" so his pediatrician referred us to the local ISD for an eval through their early childhood program. We went over there and spent a good hour to hour and 1/2 talking and playing. J is approximately at 11 months developmentally with gross motor skills (he's currently 13 months 1 week) so he's in the right range, and everywhere else he's in the 12-13 month range. So he's fine. But she did notice he uses his right leg to stand up with, to switch position, etc., favoring it over the left. Even to the point of his left leg being a little weaker. Most people favor one side, but to prevent any issues, she gave us some suggestions, some exercises, to do with him to get him to use his left leg more and she figures he'll be walking very soon. She also noted that he curls his toes on that foot and said to try and help him stand flat on it.

      I noticed a while back that his left thumb doesn't bend, or rather straighten, at the knuckle so he hyper-extends it where your thumb is attached to your hand. Just as I was about to mention it to the PT and ask her, she noticed it also. She said it probably isn't related to his leg/foot favoring but it still could be a concern and she would definitely bring it up at his 15 month appointment. So I have to remember that, plus he has a small lymph node on the top/ right side of his head that is "enlarged" for lack of a better word. I mentioned it before and the ped said it shouldn't be swollen but lets just keep an eye on it, so in April I will bring it up again.

      Oh and his surgery for his testicle isn't until May 28th. So it's a long couple of months till that happens. I'd much rather do it now and just get it over with!

      Monday, February 11, 2013

      Mama's been busy!

      I spent seven-ish hours going through cupboards and drawers in the kitchen today. We had 2 overflowing junk drawers, lots of wasted space and just some things in not-so-convenient places. I moved a lot of things around as well as cleared off some counter-space.

      Have you ever noticed that once you start throwing stuff away, how much easier it is to part with things? I filled at least one garbage bag with trash, plus 2 brown paper grocery bags with recyclables! Being down to one, semi-organized junk drawer is nice, as is having things available that you use daily.

      Next up: the family room/office. Our desk is a mess! I used to do all our budgeting and bill-paying out there until Jas bought the laptop. Now I usually figure out the budget at the dining room table and then pay the bills from the living room. Our poor, neglected desktop and desk are overflowing with old statements, papers, dust, and random things that we just set down and forget about. It's definitely a catch-all for clutter. I need to go through our filing cabinet too and get rid of anything older than 6 months. I like to keep statements from every bill at least 6-12 months just in case. I can go back and make sure I paid the bill, when and how much. Also, I need to tackle the bookcase. I have a ton of books that I've read, and many I haven't. Many will probably never get read again, not because they're not good, just because, a lot of the time, if I've read it, I tend not to go back to it. The kids have a tendency to bring stuff out there and just forget about it.

      This mama is ready for bed now though. All three of my handsome little men are sound asleep, Jas is home and I'm exhausted. We have a long day ahead of us, as well as a full week. A has cub scouts tomorrow. I'm babysitting Wednesday. Baby J has his PT eval Thursday and E has to turn in his Ronald Reagan report. Then E and A have a 4-day weekend (mid-winter break. Didn't they just go back from Christmas break? It's weird to me...), with Catechism class on Saturday, and - hopefully - Mass on Sunday. We did good this weekend. We (the three boys and I - Jas doesn't go to Mass typically, only for special occasions) made it to 8am Mass and the boys were well-behaved and polite. It was a special day for A though, he received  a special blessing as a scout!

      I was sitting here thinking the other day and realized if I could have the perfect place to live, it would include at least one thing from every place we've lived. From NY: my job - the place and the position I was in, because even though I was a manager-in-training at a pizza joint, it was fun!, my friend Cathy (and her kids of course!). From MD: our parish - which is where I went through RCIA- including my sponsors/Godparents, my friend Jill and her daughter. From OH: our families, my friend Sharon and her family. From MI: my kids' school - including all the teachers, well most, there are a couple I do NOT like, but we are like a large family (it truly takes a village!), my friend Julie and her kids. Then I would throw in some amazing friends I've made online, but never met. It's funny how things are though. We never really realize what we have until it's gone.

      Friday, February 8, 2013

      Talking more

      Baby J loves to play peek-a-boo and just added "boo" to his vocabulary. So now, he says boo and uh-oh consistently, and he babbles a lot. think he said car, blueberry, E's name, and thanks at least once each, and Jas heard hat. He does say mama and dada sometimes, and knows who we are but turns it into a game with us. I'm just glad he's starting to talk. He's also very social, playful, and learning to engage us. He will purposefully try to hide and wait for you to "look" for him and peek out from behind the chair/blanket/whatever. Just last night, he tried to throw the blanket over A's head to get him to play peek-a-boo. He's playing dropsie right now with E (picking up and dropping the remote while saying uh-oh, just so E will pick it up again). Baby J and A will roll a ball back and forth and he tries to throw it too. He was "diving" onto the floor last night. It was so cute. He would be on his knees, put his arms out and lean forward, gently falling toward the floor with intention and kind of catching himself with his face just an inch or so from the floor, chin down, eyes up, and laughing uncontrollably. Then he'd turn a quarter turn and do it all over again. We were all cracking up. Then E was tickling him and he was giggling like crazy. Oh yeah, and he waves and says "hah" for hi. Too cute.

      Thursday, February 7, 2013

      Six Ingredient Challenge, Week 1

      Six Ingredient Challenge buttonJoin the Six Ingredient Challenge hosted by Hobo Mama and Anktangle!
      We're on a six-week path to eat more whole foods, guided by one simple rule: Buy foods with six ingredients or fewer. And we're blogging about our journey on the way.
      This week we're answering the question: Why do you want to participate in the Six Ingredient Challenge?
      You can see all the responses to this question on February 7 at the link-up post.
      To join in the Six Ingredient Challenge anytime during the six weeks, visit the sign-up page for a list of posts and to link up!

      ***

      I wanted to participate in the Six Ingredient Challenge because I'm trying to learn more about our food. We have already been making changes to our diet by eating healthier and making more informed choices. Sometimes I don't remember to read the labels and just trust (read one of my previous post about that recent mistake, HA!) and so this is a reminder to do just that. Not only am I avoiding the "foods" we are trying to stay away from, but I have a goal to look for, 6 or less ingredients in the items I buy. I bought quite a bit of fresh foods, or items with only 1 ingredient. Blueberries, strawberries, apples, tomatoes, potatoes, jalapenos, sweet peppers, bananas, lettuce, salad mix (2 types of lettuce), milk, whole wheat noodles, and who knows what else that were all 1-2 ingredients. I think I may have messed up a little by buying some cereal, granola bars and crackers (all organic and less ingredients than traditional items, but still more than 6, I'm sure) BUT I am making progress all ready. And that is why I wanted to do this challenge. To move forward. To do better. To be accountable for my actions. I'm excited to share how we fare on this - short - journey towards making better choices! I think that reading about how others are doing and sharing our own experience will make it even better. So thanks for having me :)

      Wednesday, February 6, 2013

      It's in all the little things

      I walked outside to start the van this morning and the snow was wiped from the windows. It's there, written in the things he does, not just voiced in those 3 little words we all crave to hear.
      It's there when he cleans off the car.
      It's there when he shovels the drive so we don't slip and slide.
      He shows it by waking me up before he leaves,
      Never going without that simple goodbye kiss.
      When he washes the dishes,
      or cooks dinner after a long day at work,
      takes Alex to Cub Scouts even though he's tired,
      wrestles with the boys, and tries to console a crying baby, it's there.

      Something as simple as "thanks for the good dinner."
      Or as complex as wanting to solve my every day problems.
      Sometimes, he knows to just listen and commiserate.

      It's there when he fixes our cars and keeps them safe,
      when he gets up and goes to work each day, even if he may not want to.
      It's sacrificing his wants for our needs.

      It's there, in all the little things he does, each day. 
      He says it without even saying it
      "I LOVE YOU!"
      And that is only part of why I love him too...

      I love you, Jason.

      Tuesday, February 5, 2013

      Another old blog post, one of my favorites

      A note about "some kid" ;) with Asperger's Syndrome/Autism

      *Originally written on my old blog, November 10, 2011, and shared on my private facebook as well. I haven't updated this one, and there may be some spelling/grammar mistakes.*

      When I sat down to write this, I almost titled it "A note about Asperger's Syndrome/Autism" but then I thought long and hard. Every child is different. Including every child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Actually every person is different. We all have our little quirks about us and things we like or don't like, our own personalities, etc. So this story or note or post or whatever you would like to call it is about MY family, and MY son. I've decided to post this on Facebook as well as my blog. This isn't meant as anything bad. I just want people in general to understand some things.

      Let me start with a short background. I am a married mother of 3 beautiful handsome boys. My husband is an amazing man and we've been married over a decade (he says it's been like 30 years, LOL). He is the love of my life and I don't know what I would do without him. Our youngest son is still in utero, to be born sometime at the end of December/beginning of January. How do I know he's handsome then, you ask? I'm just a little biased *wink*. We will call him "J" for the sake of this. Our middle son is 6 1/2 - we will call him "A" for this. A is a smart, funny, neuro-typical boy who just got moved up a grade to 2nd due to his being advanced. He is a great little brother and will be an awesome big brother soon. Now for the main star of this "article", there is our oldest son. "E" is a very bright, sweet boy of 9 (and 1/4 if you ask him!) that happens to have Asperger's/Autism. He is also advanced academically, having just entered 5th grade in September.

      This is what I would like you to know though.

      Things that are obvious to you, may not be to him. He has a different way of thinking and looking at things. Be patient. Teach him those "obvious" things. He doesn't just learn them by watching like the rest of us.

      Things that are obvious to him, may not be to us. Realize that he's not trying to be rude when he says something matter-of-factly. He may not see that you don't "just know" what he does. Be patient and listen to him. That doesn't mean let him be rude. That means listen and then say to him "Even though you may not have meant to, you said that rudely. If you want to tell me something, please do but use a nice tone and words to explain to me." - just as you would do with him when you explain. Again, he has to be taught this. And he will forget and need to be reminded.

      He has a sense of humor. It just may be different than yours. He may find something inappropriate funny and you may have to explain why it's inappropriate. He may not get certain jokes, either.

      He may not know when to stop talking about something. If you get him talking about his favorite things, he will go on and on. If you want to change the subject, it may be hard to and he may not want to. Or you may want to just walk away. Try not to do that. He has feelings too and you wouldn't like that if people did that to you. Try to gently let him know you would like to change the subject.

      He may not seem like he is listening but most times he is. Just because he doesn't look at you doesn't mean he isn't listening. He's just not remembering the "rules of etiquette" for conversation and active listening. Gently remind him that it's good manners to look at the speaker, at least from time to time, so they are aware that he cares what they have to say.

      If he says something rude or sarcastic, if he ignores you or doesn't answer right away, if he seems like he's being stand-offish or doesn't like you, just remember he needs you to help him open up. He isn't trying to be mean, he may be overwhelmed or not know how to respond. Don't give up, he wants to know you and for you to know him.

      He has a love of maps and drawing. He is smart. He is funny. He loves people to a fault. He doesn't always see if people don't really like him or "get" him because he doesn't understand why people wouldn't like him or somebody else. He likes everybody! He gets upset easily. He gets frustrated about things that wouldn't bother the rest of us. Don't get mad at him. Help him. Be there for him. Talk to him. Don't give up on him. Open your heart and arms to him. YOU have to try a little harder because it's harder for him to try!!

      E is a wonderful kid. Everyone that has taught him, taken care of him, taken time to be friends with him and loved him has told me that.
      "He's so sweet." "He's so nice" "He cares so much" "He's funny" "He does so good on his work" "I hate to see him so upset"

      E is a perfectionist. He thinks he should get something the very first time he tries to do it. And of course that means, when he doesn't, he may lose it. He may have a tantrum or a meltdown. You may think he's just being bad or mom and dad don't know how to control him, etc. No, that is his frustration coming out in the only way he knows how in that moment. Besides, I don't want to CONTROL my children. I want to RAISE them to be happy, healthy, productive members of our society and to hopefully do the same with their own children someday.

      I don't kid myself. I know he can be hard to handle sometimes. I get frustrated, angry even. I've yelled more times than I care to remember. I am not perfect. But I don't have to be perfect, I just have to be his mom and love him and try MY best. It seems to be working so far.

      It may seem like I'm focusing on the "bad" or "hard" aspects of E's behavior. Maybe I am. But sometimes that is what needs to be explained to people on the outside, even people that are close to us but still outside our little family.

      Some of the best things come out of those "bad" things. Like when he has an amazing day at school, even when transitions are normally hard for him. It's something to be excited about. Or when he tells a funny joke out of nowhere. Or when he runs up to his dad when he gets home to give him a hug or asks him to wrestle. When he accomplishes something, even a little thing, that is out of the ordinary or difficult for him, it's awesome.

      He's a great big brother to A and has taught him a lot. Some good, some bad, just like any sibling will do. They are the best of friends and the worst enemies when they get mad at each other. I know both of them will be great big brothers to J when he is born. They both already love him so much. I love my boys so very much and just because A is "easier" to get to know and shares his personality with you more easily doesn't mean you should just brush E off. If you give him the opportunity, you will be amazed at the love that kid will share with you!

      Old blog post (Truth is.)


      Truth is.

      *I wrote this for my old personal blog originally on Nov. 30th, 2011. Most of it still applies. Except for paragraph 3 - I am proud to say Jackson and I have made it to one year nursing! Also paragraph 7 - I get to add that I have more family to love in the form of 2 future BILs, (coincidentally both named Matt!) as well as 2 more nieces. I've been meaning to share this for a while. It is truly one of my favorite pieces of writing. I need to start putting myself out there more and I guess this is my way of doing that :)*

      Have you seen this on FaceBook? I've seen several people (nephew, sis-in-law, nephew's g/f, cousin, etc) do this. They put as their status "Like for a truth" and anybody that likes their status, they then post on their wall something about that person, such as truth is I miss hanging out with you, or something along those lines. Always nice stuff it seems like. Well I'm going to change it up a bit and write a post of truths about me. This is going to be my first blog for December and NaBloPoMo on BlogHer. It was going to be something different but I was thinking about this on the way home from getting my munchkins from school and it feels right. It will be "raw" and open, honest and maybe too much so, but here goes.


      Truth is I can be totally manic. I can be calm one minute and yelling the next for what seems like nothing. I love deeply and yet not enough. I get attached to people too easily and never know if they really care or are just humoring me. I have a hard time opening up to people but once I open up, watch out. I still can't always share my opinion with certain people because I don't want to hurt their feelings or disagree with them. I don't always make the best decisions with my kids but I always try to be a good mom. I am a mean mom, because they don't get to play video games during the week and only 2 hours each day on Saturday and Sunday, I don't buy pop all the time - it's a treat with pizza or when we go out to dinner, I make E sit in a booster seat still even though he's 9 because he's under the height/weight limit, I won't let them eat in our new van (yet) cause I want it to stay somewhat clean, I make them pick up toys (not nearly enough though) and put away clean clothes, I expect them to eat whatever I fix for dinner and then take care of their dishes after meals, I expect them to do homework and study hard. Mind you, they don't think I'm really mean, except when I yell at them ;)

      Truth is I am scared to have another baby. It's been 6 years since I've cared for a newborn around the clock, changed diapers, tried nursing, and functioned on less than 6 hours of sleep. I'm worried about post-partum depression, even minor baby blues, especially since I HAVE to be able to leave the house and take my older boys to school and after-school functions and be somewhat presentable. I'm worried about nursing. I didn't have the support I truly needed with the boys. People tried but gave me an out, thinking that was supportive. I believed, at the time, it was and it wasn't meant any other way. But it would've been more supportive to say, you can do this, try one more day, he's having wet/dirty diapers - he's getting enough, I've been there/done that. But I didn't have anybody that knew those things, all my family members had bottle/formula-fed and we were hours and hundreds of miles away, so I didn't have help nearby. I didn't have a close friend I could call when I was desperate for someone to just listen and say just make it through this day, this feeding and then rest. Someone to remind it's ok to do nothing but nurse, eat and sleep if I need to. I gave up. I don't want to give up this time. I know more now. I know where to go for help. I've done research and reading and I feel confident now. I have a friend I can call if I have to. But truth is I'm still worried! I'm scared of labor and delivery. Obviously I know my body knows what to do, I've been through it twice but still. I'm worried about Jason. I'm worried about the boys.

      Truth is I want to just sit and read a good book and not be bothered for several hours at some point in the next week but I know that I won't make it happen. Truth is there are dishes that need washed and I don't feel like doing them.

      Truth is I love food. I love to eat. Especially junk food. Chocolate. Candy. Pizza. Oh, pizza. How I'd give anything for pizza tonight for dinner. But alas, I will wash those dishes, and I will cook dinner. What's for dinner? Eh, I'm not sure. Probably chicken cordon blue and some pasta or potatoes or something. Lucky for the hubby, the kids had pizza for hot lunch at school today so I won't even mention that that's what I would love to have for dinner. Nachos from 7-11. Yes, really. I don't know why. They always give me a stomach ache but those with a Pepsi Slurpee and I'm good! See. I told you. Junk food. I like real, good food though too. Chicken fried steak, baked fish, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes with gravy, kielbasa, spaghetti, beef/chicken tacos with all the fixin's, steak, baked potatoes, any kind of pasta, garlic bread. Oh! Gotta stop with the food. I'm making myself hungry. Although, being 8 1/2 months preggo that isn't hard to do, LOL.

      Truth is FaceBook is kind of annoying. I spend WAAAAAY too much time on there. I can see why Jas avoids it like the plague. ;)

      Truth is I love my family. Not just my hubby and boys. I love my mom and dad, my sister L and her hubby, my sister H, my MIL, FIL, BIL J, SIL J, SIL M, my 6 nephews and 2 nieces. I'm sad when we only get to go home for a few days here and there. But at the same time after a couple days visiting, I'm ready to go home. We all are. It's more about being able to be in our own house and sleep in our own beds than anything. If we lived near them, the visits would be less hectic, more fun and relaxing. Plus we could trade off whose house we were at. We might even get some much needed adult time more often. Maybe even a date night once in awhile ;)

      Truth is I have acquaintances, I have friends and then I have friends who are more like family. Some of my friends, I wish I had more time to get to know them better and grow closer to them. The friends who are like family are so special to me and while it's a small number they mean the world to me and I'm glad they are who they are.

      Truth is I am so grateful my husband's job allows me to stay home. I hear alot of women say that they would get bored or resentful or whatever. Well I do get bored. I do feel lonely. But at the same time, I have a lot of time to myself and I have the opportunity to be able to take/pick my kids up from school, volunteer whenever I feel like it, and be home with them at a moment's notice. I don't have to worry about daycare or finding a sitter if they get sick. This isn't meant as a dig at working moms. I respect you more than you could ever know. It's just not right for OUR family. It's not right for ME. I love being a stay-at-home mom/wife, even when I don't ;)

      Truth is there are always going to be things I want in this world. Some things I will get, some things I won't. That's ok with me. I am not a child. I don't feel the need to have everything I want, when I want it, all the time. Money is not the most important thing. Stuff is not the most important thing. Corny as it sounds, my family IS the most important thing to me. Sure, a dishwasher would be awesome so I don't have to spend the time standing there handwashing all the dishes, but I've lived without one for over a year. Sure, I'd love a kindle so I could read anywhere, anytime without lugging a heavy book around, but I'm ok without one too. Besides if I got those things, I would just find something else to bug about "wanting", LOL. Of course I want to take the boys to Disneyland or the Grand Canyon. Who says we can't? And why not? because we'll have a baby?! Pashaw! That is not good enough. Having a little baby with you is no reason to not allow yourself or the older kids to enjoy something. It's an excuse and a lame one at that. Will it make it more difficult? Yes. Will we have to improvise? Work together as a couple? Yes. Wow, what a concept. We are awesome parents and we can do ANYTHING we set our minds to. Just like we tell the boys. They can do whatever they want, they just have to try. Put some effort in. So why as adults do we forget this? or think it doesn't apply to us? Geez.

      Truth is this post has become quite the ramble!

      Truth is it's not even the first of December yet, it's only the 30th right now and I'm writing away. More than I have in months. It feels really good to just pour it out and not edit my thoughts.

      Truth is I really should go. My family will want dinner soon and Jason will be home any time now, hopefully. I should wash some of the dishes and throw together something. It will probably turn into a leftover night instead of that chicken cordon blue because, truth is, I don't really want to cook tonight!!

      Tip for changing eating habits

      I've joined in the 6 Ingredient Challenge and even though this isn't one of the writing prompts for it, I thought I would write some of my thoughts. Hobo Mama shares this yesterday. (I'm a day behind on my blog reading, LOL) Go check it out. There's some great tips and thoughts on changing how you and your family eat!

      She asks the following questions at the end of the post.
      Have you had to change your family's eating habits? How easy or hard was it to get your kids or partner on board? Do you have any tips for transitioning hesitant family members?

      I have definitely had to change our family's eating habits. We used to eat a LOT of fast food, and fruit rollups and other not-so-good things. While we still eat out, I honestly don't think it's very often and we try to make better choices as to where we go.

      It was easy to convince Jas that we should eat out less and cook at home more, as well as try to eat more veggies. It was more difficult to introduce the "weird" (or hippie, as he jokingly calls them) foods, like quinoa, flax seed, coconut oil, coconut milk, lentils, sunflower seed butter, and mostly organics. Just because the types of food were different to us as well as more expensive. Also the kids sometimes protest when I won't buy certain things but I've been offering more of their favorite fruits, finding healthier, whole grain versions of our favorite dinners, pancakes, breads, etc, as well as better versions of treats - like granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, and candy. They are definitely more willing to try things and want to help make homemade versions of stuff.

      Some tips I have are the following:
      • Change one thing at a time if necessary.
      • Offer at least one item they love at a meal, and something new/different.
      • Find a better version of their favorite item. For example: we love pancakes around here, but instead of buying the boxed pancake mix (Jason's favorite) I've found a homemade WHOLE WHEAT version that is delicious! No white sugar either, it uses either honey or 100% maple syrup and bananas for sweetness. Another example: Instead of buying boxed blueberry muffin mix, I make homemade ones.
      • Involve the kids (or your partner) in the making of a meal. Getting them involved, especially the kids, really does get them to want to try the food, because they helped make it!
      • Have each person pick out something new to try at the grocery store, or a new meal they would like to try.
      • Prepare for the occasional backslide. You will decide it's easier to just order pizza, or go to McDonald's at some point. Try to avoid it, but if you do go ahead and do it, don't feel bad. Just move past it :) Case in point: I'm so mad at myself right now :(
      • Remember it's ok to have a treat once in a while.
      • For us especially, I try to explain that when we eat stuff like food dyes, or certain preservatives, or eat out at - at least at certain restaurants - we have certain reactions including headaches, tummyaches/digestive problems, brain fog, anxiety/exaggerated frustration/meltdowns, irritation, harder time sleeping, hyperactivity, and just a hard time focusing the next day. Because we don't like the way we feel after eating those things, we are trying to avoid them. My kids seem to be coming around to this.
      After re-reading Hobo Mama's post, I realize I have many of the same tips and ideas. LOL. That's ok, that just means they are really good ones ;)

      Monday, February 4, 2013

      what's new around here?

      I've been doing so much writing about food that I've lost focus a little about what this blog is really about. Yes, it is about food, to the extent that we are trying to make changes. But really this is supposed to be about our day-to-day life and how I am growing and changing as a person or mom. I don't want to become so centered on one aspect and then lose myself, my writing and bore people ;)

      I'm going to help save a life today. No, I'm not a superhero. I won't go running into a burning building and rescue somebody or lift a 2-ton car off of a child. What do I mean then? How can I know I will help save a life? How presumptuous of me! Well, I do know, and so can you!! The boys' school is having a blood drive, and I am signed up to donate blood today. Did you know that each blood donation can go to help up to THREE people!? I didn't! So yeah. I'm doing a good deed today. And while it's something simple, and maybe I shouldn't "brag" about it, I am proud of myself. I wanted to share, because maybe it will inspire someone else out there to do the same.

      Baby J goes Feb 13 to Early On to be evaluated on his gross motor skills, to see if he qualifies for physical therapy (PT). If he does, we set up an IFSP (individual family service plan) and see if he needs any other services. I don't think they will find him eligible, only because in the last month his gross motor skills have blossomed so much. He will let go of furniture and stand for several seconds, he cruises around furniture very quickly, he can sit from a standing position much easier, he will bend to try and pick up something while holding on to try and stay standing, he will hold your hands and take several steps, and he went from doing the "army crawl" 95% of the time to crawling on his hands and knees about 40-50% of the time. He was truly only 1 "point" away from passing the pediatrician's evaluation/assessment anyway, so now he'd probably pass with flying colors. We're still waiting to hear from the urologist's scheduler so we can set up his surgery.

      A has his blue and gold banquet Feb 24 for cub scouts and will get his Wolf Badge (as long as we finish his last two achievements by the 10th!) It's at noon that Sunday and he and Jas will be going to that by themselves. I'm disappointed that E, Baby J and I won't be able to be there, but we have our first conflict of schedules! Anyway, I am very proud of him, as he has been working on these achievements and some of his electives to get his arrow points starting in April as well as his belt loops! I think he's technically earned 2 of the belt loops and his gold arrow point and first silver arrow point. A seems to be really enjoying the fun activities and Jas and him get to have some father/son time.

      E won the school spelling bee and goes to the MI state charter school spelling bee on March 15th. Before that though, he is going to the regional bee for the Scripp's National Bee on Feb 24. Yeah, there's our schedule conflict. Same day as A's blue and gold. I was hoping it would be at a different time, but nope :( Registration is at noon and the bee starts at 1pm (the same time A will get his badge), so E, Baby J and I will go to the bee and Jas and A will join us later. If E wins this regional bee, he would go on to the national bee the week of May 26th. A is excited about this because they would both end up missing some school AND his birthday is May 30 so he'd get to go on a trip for his birthday ;) LOL. Silly kid. It should be interesting going though, because last year, Jas was backstage in case E had any behavioral "issues" and because I will have Baby J, who is only 13 months old with me, I won't be able to do the same. I know he's made a lot of progress and matured a lot in a year so hopefully it should be ok.

      I'm proud of our boys being understanding that they have to "share" us for the day, one of us being at one's important event and the other being at the other event.

      Jas has to travel for work soon, for a week. It's been a while and I can honestly say that I am not looking forward to it at all. I will have to make sure I have lots of easy dinners on hand since I won't have help.

      Almost time to head out for the school and it's snowing. Lovely. Ha! At least I'll be on time for a change ;)