February 28, 2011

All It Took Was a Steamer

My daughters aren't the pickiest eaters in the world. Usually they'll try something at least once. Even Sue Sue, who used to make herself gag if you gave her new foods, has gamely adhered to my "one bite" rule. Still, making sure my girls eat enough veggies is a battle.
Hubby and I are trying to eat better (meaning no more processed food... or at least a lot less of it). To fulfill that goal, we purchased a vegetable steamer. It's been a great addition to our kitchen. We use it all the time. Last week one of my daughters expressed interest in trying some steamed vegetables. The next night I steamed broccoli and made a cheese sauce. They gobbled it up... and asked for seconds! A few nights later I decided to steam asparagus for them.... same results!
I am convinced that as long as it comes out of the steamer, they will eat it. I'm now trying to figure out what other vegetables to steam and experiment with. Cheese sauce and a steamer... a small price to pay to get my girls to eat veggies.

February 24, 2011

Who Was Here First? (A History Lesson)

Before school this morning, my girls had an interesting and fairly amusing conversation.
  • Cakes: "Who was here first? Oh wait, I know, the leprechauns."
  • Tortilla: "No, it was Santa."
  • Sue Sue: "No, it was just other people."
  • Roo: "Yeah, other people who didn't have enough money and had to find a new house to live in." (Oops, our talk about why Mommy and Daddy work may have gone a tad too far).
  • Cakes: "No, no, remember, we learned this in school. The Indians were the first people to live here."
  • Tortilla: "Oh yeah. With the people who wore those tall hats with buckles."
  • Sue Sue: "I'm telling you, it was just people."
  • Roo: "Yeah, let's just say other people."

February 22, 2011

And Sometimes They Just Don't Get It at All

The day after I wrote my glowing post about how wonderful my daughters were during our first outing to the mall, I found myself dealing with another first: The first grounding. What a terrible day it turned out to be.
The day started off normal and nice. The sun was shining. We took a long walk around the neighborhood. When Hubby came home, we decided to take another short walk to enjoy the short-lived "heat wave." Soon after that walk, things went south.
I would love to say my daughters were "over-tired." No. They had energy galore. They were in rare form and an outsider might think we had hopped them up on sugar. They were little terrors.
We started with warnings. Ignored. We started removing privileges. Ignored. We sent them to their rooms. They went and turned it into a game. There were giggles, squeals... clearly not the punishment we intended. Eventually we took away any fun privilege they had anticipated for the following day, including a trip to grandma and grandpa's to ride bikes. That did the trick. Suddenly everyone was sullen, sulky, repenting.
We followed through on the "grounding" and when they asked to do fun things the next day, we had to remind them what it means to be grounded.... and what you should do to make sure it never happens again. 
OK. Let's be realistic. I KNOW it's going to happen again, but hopefully not any time in the near future!

February 21, 2011

What Have I Done?!

Over the weekend, the discount salon we frequent offered $10 cuts for kids (rather than the regular $12 price). I've been debating whether to cut Sue Sue and Cake's hair, so I jumped on the deal. They're back to chin length and very happy with their new 'dos.
The problem? All of my girls now look the same from behind, identical or not. Even Roo, who refused a cut and has hair a few inches longer than the others is hard to distinguish from the back. In the last 24 hours I have mixed up every single one of their names. I can no longer tell Tortilla and Cakes apart with a glance (until the cut, Cakes had longer hair than Tortilla. Now their hair is the same length and color and even has a wild curl in the same spot). At one point last night, I looked at one of my girls and simply said "Hey you, come here." You thinking I'm joking? I really did say that!
They think I'm teasing them when I get their names wrong. I'm going to have to start picking one of them to wear hair clips or something! I can only imagine what will happen when they go to school tomorrow (they're off today for President's Day). Something tells me their teacher is going to have the same problems I'm having right now!

February 17, 2011

They're Starting to Get It

Shopping with my daughters used to be uneventful. We could go to a store, hit the toy aisle to look and be done. Now that my daughters are old enough to understand the concept of buying things, shopping can be hairy. The toy aisle can still be fun, or it can lead to "Can I have this?" "I really need this."
A few days ago, I needed to go to a nearby mall. As a general rule, I avoid malls. I'm not a big shopper to begin with, and I hate those kiosks in malls where the employees badger you the entire time you're walking by. But the store I needed to go to is only in a mall and I had to go because I had a Groupon that was about to expire. So off we went to the mall.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I realized my daughters had never been to a mall before. Fortunately, the store I needed to go to is near an entrance, so we didn't have to parade through a department store. We bought what I needed and then my daughters asked to go on the nearby escalator. I humored them. They've been on escalators before, unfortunately, it dawned on me as we stepped on the moving stairs that I've always had other adults around when we've been on escalators. I held my breath. We all made it on and off without incident. Thank goodness the elevator was nearby and it was a glass elevator, so they were more than happy to ditch the escalator on the way down.
As we headed to the elevator, I spied The Disney Store. I decided to take them. Before we went in the store I repeatedly told them "We are NOT buying anything." 
They were mesmerized by all the "stuff" in the store. They had fun looking at the "Tangled" items and seeing the tiny bathing suits for babies. The dressing room was a castle, so of course they wanted to go inside. No one was trying anything on, so I let them look inside for a few minutes. They didn't ask for a single thing. No one sighed dramatically or stomped her feet. I'm a huge sucker so I decided to reward them for their good behavior in the mall and in the store. They each picked out a cup with their favorite princess. (Actually, Roo chose Minnie Mouse because they didn't have Snow White). As soon as they found out they were going home with such a fancy surprise, I was inundated with choruses of "Thank you, Mommy." "This is so nice. Thank you!" Every single one of them thanked me profusely. At one point I was even declared the best mom ever. The point is: they're finally starting to get it. The lessons on manners are paying off. The lessons on not getting something every time you ask are working because now they don't ask for something every time we go to a store. The lessons on staying with mom in busy places are sinking in. Are they perfect? No, but they're finally starting to get it! I was on Cloud 9 for the rest of the day after all the "thank you's" I received.
(On a funny side note: when we got home, Tortilla said "Thanks for taking us to Disneyland, mom!" If she thinks this was cool, wait until we eventually go to the real place!)

February 15, 2011

Little Geniuses

At my daughters' Valentine's Day party, the topic among the moms turned to which school our preschoolers will attend for kindergarten. One mom began telling us what a "genius" her little one is. She has her testing to enroll in a charter school for gifted children. One of her reasons is that her daughter is reading and she doesn't want her held back in kindergarten by kids who aren't as advanced as her daughter.
Ugh. It's kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten is a crucial time for children. It will, in my opinion, make or break their love of learning. But I don't think a lax year of kindergarten will prohibit a child from attending a good college. When I was mulling over where to send my girls for kindergarten (the nearby charter school? the closest elementary school? the current elementary school where they attend preschool?) a teacher in my neighborhood said "It's just kindergarten. They'll be fine regardless of the experience."
After the conversation at school yesterday, I just wonder: why do we put so much pressure on little kids to be "advanced" and "gifted"? Let me tell you something about the "Talented and Gifted Program" when I was growing up. There were no tests involved, at least none that I can remember. Your parents filled out a form saying they wanted you in the program and boom! you were in. Were some of these kids smart? Sure. Were they all? Well, I'll just say not all of them went on to have stellar high school grades or achieve a higher education.
Do I think there's a place for "gifted" programs? Absolutely. Children learn at all levels. There are going to be kids who are learning beyond their grade level and ignoring their needs can set them up for failure. But kindergarten is about so much more than academics. It's about learning to follow rules. It's about learning social skills. It's about progressing beyond preschool and learning how to, well, learn. 
After hearing this mom, I spent a few minutes questioning my own decision. Should I really be putting my daughters in public school? Should I be looking into to these "advanced" charter schools that I've never heard of? Then I realized something: I have the smartest children on the planet. I mean don't all parents feel the same way about their children? My girls will be just fine.

February 14, 2011

What I Learned from Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day I learned something very important. It has nothing to do with hearts or roses or love. I learned I'm not cut out to home school my daughters!
Last week I wanted to be "on top of things." Instead of leaving my girls' Valentines for school to the last minute, I tackled them early. Sixteen cards times four makes for a lot of work, so I spread it out over a few days. Fortunately, our preschool asks that you have  your kids only sign "from" and not address the "to" section. This makes it easier on the teachers to distribute the cards and easier on the parents helping their children sign the cards.
Tortilla went first. It took her awhile because she has so many letters in her name, but she was very attentive to detail. Roo went the next day. She was done in a flash. Cakes didn't even need my help. Sue Sue was another story. She has written her name billions of times with no problems. On this particular day, though, she kept writing one of her letters backward. I wrote her name for her and asked her if she saw the difference. "It's pretty much the same," she responded. No matter what I did, she treated it as a joke. She laughed when she wrote her name wrong. She laughed when I tried to help her. I was ready to stab one of the gift pencils that go with their cards through my eye.
I finally made her get down and practice her name on an Aquadoodle. She did it without problems. She came back to the table and... "oops, I wasn't paying attention (hysterical giggles)." I really wanted to just give up, but knew she had to finish those cards. We finally made it through her 16 cards and I vowed right then and there to never, ever home school my children... for their sanity and for mine. And if we're butting heads this much during preschool, I can only imagine the epic battles we'll have as she (and her sisters) get older!

February 08, 2011

The Bachelor

You don't have to spend much time in my house to realize the original owner was a bachelor. Just take a look at my kitchen and you'll know no one who has ever used a kitchen designed this one.
It starts when you are confronted with the island. Who thinks islands are a good idea? They take up space and, at least in our house, become a "catch all" for mail or whatever else is in your hands when you walk in the house (we enter from the mud room just off the kitchen). Although, if you look at my cabinets, you realize the island is a necessity.
I. Hate. My. Cabinets. They go all the way to the ceiling. What a waste of space. At least if they stopped before the ceiling I could put some cute decorations on top of them. But no, some really tall bachelor decided shelves that require a ladder to reach (OK, maybe not a ladder, but a stool) would be a great use of kitchen space. I have several cupboards in which I can only reach the bottom two shelves. I'm 5'7" people. I shouldn't have to struggle to reach things. If I need to reach anything higher than those bottom shelves, I have my daughters stand on the counter (with me holding them for support) so they can grab what I need. What am I going to do when they grow and should no longer take on that role?
The appliances are another wonderful leftover from the bachelor. First of all, they're black. I realize some people prefer black appliances, but this particular stove shows any and all grease specks, no matter how small. Secondly, they're Amana brand. There's nothing wrong with Amana, except for the fact that only Sears carries that brand. Sears is not conveniently located to our home, so when we need replacement filters for the fridge, well, it let's just say it's a pain.
The fridge. Yes, clearly a single person lived in this house before us. It has to be the smallest refrigerator in the history of refrigerators. The only thing smaller would be a dorm fridge. I need space for food for six. There's barely room for the 3-4 gallons of milk we go through in a week. Hubby is great at the video game Tetris, so when I come home from the grocery store I make him deal with the refrigerator and freezer. He's very good at cramming every thing in there and still making it look orderly.
The kitchen does have one positive aspect. It merges directly with the family room/TV room. This means when I'm making meals I can still see what my daughters are doing. When they were younger, I could even put up gates to "trap" myself in the kitchen and keep inquisitive toddlers away from the oven. 
I take comfort in the fact that at the closing for this house, the "Bachelor Owner" and his girlfriend were preparing for the arrival of their first child. Hopefully now that he's had time to see a house through the eyes of a parent, he realizes the error of his ways!

February 07, 2011

Remember the Post About the Concussion?

Last week I wrote a post about Sue Sue's "concussion." If you'll remember, she was acting lethargic and had a bruise on her forehead. Turned out she's just a Drama Queen, because a little later she was running around with her sisters, acting like she didn't have a care in the world. Then, on Friday, that post came back to bite me in the (fill in the blank).
My daughters have reached an age where I can take a shower without fearing for their lives. At least that's what I thought. For some reason, on this particular Friday, I decided to leave the bathroom door cracked. Usually I shut it, since I take fairly quick showers. I only linger under the scorching water if Hubby is home or the girls are at school. Right before I turned off the water I heard Cakes yelling for me. What now?! I got out of the shower, dried off, wrapped myself in a towel and went to the top of the steps. Cakes said Sue Sue had fallen and "hurt herself." I told Sue Sue to come to the steps. She was whimpering and said she had fallen and hit her head. She said she was OK, so I dried my hair. 
When I came downstairs, I saw Sue Sue from across the room. The first words out of my mouth were "Holy crap!" (This led Cakes to ask "What's a holy crap?" My response: "It's naughty. Don't say it.") From across the room I could see a huge goose egg on Sue Sue's forehead. I put ice on it. The swelling didn't really go down. Apparently the girls were playing "The Three Little Pigs" and Sue Sue (a pig) fell while being chased by the wolf (Roo). She managed to hit her head on the corner of the couch (the part near the floor). Call it the equivalent of the perfect storm. She hit the couch just "right" and ended up with the aforementioned goose egg plus a scrape. So my Friday was spent monitoring her for signs of a concussion. The swelling has gone down, but a gigantic bruise remains. That will teach me to blog about non-existent concussions!

February 02, 2011

The Break Up

Dear Netflix;
It's not me, it's you. I know I should try to soften the blow, but why lie? It's time to part ways.
When I first heard about you, I was skeptical. Who can't find the time to return a movie to a rental store? Then along came quads and I barely had time to shower, let alone leave the house. The luxury of throwing my latest DVD rental in the mail was wonderful.
We had a good run. I often found myself watching the latest releases on the day they came out because I figured out your "system." You send out Tuesday's new releases on Monday. I rarely had to wait for things and rarely found myself with scratched DVDs.
But now I've moved on. To the library. Yes, the library. In the last month or so, I've made a shocking discovery. For whatever reason, you have been holding out on me. My local library receives many new releases weeks before you do! And they're free to rent! Sure, I can't build a "queue," but I can put up to ten items on hold. Unlike you, the library won't let me put DVDs on hold as soon as the movie hits the theater. I have to wait until said movie is "on order," but I don't mind checking the website often to see if I'm able to request a movie. (Right now I'm #2 in line to rent Tangled when it comes out, so clearly the persistence paid off).
I'll always remember you fondly and I'll continue to tell people what a great service you are. Who knows, maybe we'll rekindle our relationship someday. But for now, I'm going with the entity that doesn't take a dime from me!
Thanks for the memories,

February 01, 2011

How Did I Live Without It?

For many people, technology is addictive. They just can't figure out how they lived with out their IPhone, Blackberry, etc. I felt that way for awhile, but when Hubby and I cut costs, one of the first things we did was ditch the cell phones. It's very liberating. We can be out of the house without people bugging us. We do have one shared cell phone, which Hubby's parents pay for because it was just $10 a month to add a line to their plan.
So I'm not a technology junkie. I would love an IPhone, but I can certainly live without it. What I have learned in the last few weeks that I can't live without is my sewing kit. Yes, my sewing kit.
Ever since we moved, I have been looking for the darn thing. We found it once, but when I needed it, I couldn't remember where I put it for "safekeeping." So for years I have been searching boxes and closets, trying to figure out where I put it.
A few weeks ago I decided I wouldn't give up until I found it. Interestingly enough, it only took me a five minutes to find it. My girls were delighted when I triumphantly brought my sewing kit downstairs. Then they proceeded to pile any and every toy that needed mending on the coffee table. That day I repaired a princess costume, a pillow pet, a pillow, a heffalump and a hat. Since then I've been finding odds and ends that need mending.

As crazy as it sounds, it's wonderful to have my sewing kit back. It's also nice that the girls are no longer telling people "(fill in the blank) has a hole in it and Mommy can't fix it." Guess I should have put more effort into finding the sewing kit a lot sooner!