Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Look what I did!

I found something creative to do today. Check it out.
I made a sock monkey. Not too bad for a first attempt. It would have gone a little faster if my sewing machine wasn't broken. I had to sew it all by hand, but I thought it came out pretty good. I made it out of the socks Kimberly wore when she was in the Wizard of Oz. She loves him.

If I could only

It's Wednesday and my little pirate is still home sick. My hubby also has the day off and both of them are still sleeping. Must be nice.

I'm itching to do something artsy. Reading my friend Maria's blog has really gotten my artistic juices flowing. I've known Maria for a while now, but I just found out she has a blog. I knew she was artistic, but wow! She takes scraps and pieces of things and uses them to make the most beautiful art. I was showing Maria's pictures to my Kimberly one who also loves to use leftover scraps to make art. She said "that's what I do, can we sell my creations online too?". I think I need to get her some prettier scraps though, she uses a lot of blue copier paper in her art, I don't think it's quite as marketable. I'm just frustrated today, I have a bunch of great project ideas right now, but no money to go buy the materials I need to make them. I do have the materials for some unfinished sewing projects, but my sewing machine is broken. Grr.

Monday, January 28, 2008


This is what Kimberly did today while she was home sick.

I think the trip to the doctor inspired it.

Have you figured out what it is yet?

It's the receptionsit's desk at the doctor's office. Complete with little window so they can talk about you while you wait keep your information confidential. Apparently, from what I'm told precriptions of Capri Sun are dispensed at the bottom.

Scurvy ARGH

This is what happens when your children get their medical training from the television. You get notes like this one on your nightstand on a Monday morning when they aren't feeling up to going to school.

Now of course I knew right away that she didn't have scurvy, but after a note like that I had to take her to the doctor anyway. Of course the doctor confirmed what I already knew. Garden variety sore throat. Not even Strep. No pirates. How boring.

Grandma's Spaghetti

Today's recipe is one that has been handed down in my family for three generations. It's so ridiculously easy that I'm going to have to try to estimate the amounts for you. This one is great because it's easy to always have the ingredients on hand just in case something happens and you don't have more than 10 minutes to make dinner. Also in case I have failed to mention in previous recipes, I have a family of 5, so all my recipes are going to serve 5-6 people, so adjust accordingly if you have more or less people in your family.

Grandma's Spaghetti

Small shell pasta (about 3/4 of the bag)
15 oz can of tomato sauce
1/3 cup of margarine
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp salt

Cook the pasta until it is done and drain. Using the same pot, heat the tomato sauce, margarine and salt and pepper on medium heat until warm. Return pasta to the pan. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce. Serve in bowls.

This is really good with buttered bread on the side.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What mothers do

Today it rained all day. Strange for Arizona. It only rains like five days a year here, and today was one of them. I don't like the rain, or more specifically I don't like being cold and wet. It can rain all it wants if I'm inside, warm and dry. Or in the summer when it rains and actually cools it down from broil to bake, then the rain is ok. Today was the not ok, cold and wet, I can't feel my toes rain that I can't stand. On top of that, I had to be out in it. All day.

Today my oldest had her first cheer competition. It was a really big deal for her. So I did what mothers do, I gave up staying warm and dry, and stood outside in the cold all day taking pictures of my daughter. Her team won second place. I'm so very proud.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What's that noise?

Last night about 10:30 pm I heard this enormous racket coming from outside. Knowing that this was in no way a normal noise, I donned my slippers and went out in my bathrobe to investigate. Once outside I found my pool pump making a noise similar to what you might hear if you put rocks in your garbage disposal. It was not a nice noise. I don't like loud noise. I doubt my neighbors were appreciating it either. I went back in for a flashlight so I could see to turn the equipment off. When I get back outside it seems even louder, either that or I'm just rapidly becoming less tollerant of the banging noise. I get to the equipment and see that the offending part has a label that says "whisper flow" (now that's pretty funny). I try to shut it off, but the little lever to shut it off won't budge. I try moving the timing mechanism thinking I can trick it into thinking it's done for the day, but no it keeps on banging. Now I'm getting worried that metal pieces are about to go flying and I give the lever one more try. Success. It's now quiet again in my yard. I go back inside. Take off my slippers, get back in bed, get all warm and cozy, and remember that I changed the timer and forgot to put it back. I get up, and go back outside to fix it, for fear that the ruckus will start again before morning if I didn't.

This morning I called the pool man. From my colorful description he was able to determine, without even coming out to check, that the source of the noise is a motor that has gone bad. So if your pool pump ever sounds like it's trying to make a rock margarita, get ready to spend a few bucks on a new motor.

Happy Saturday

It's Saturday, and around here Saturdays are the day we try to make our house look less like a dump and more like a home. During the week, everything seems to slide as we are rushing to school, getting homework done, making dinner, and going to activities. Now that my oldest is doing cheer, we get home an hour and a half later than before. Add to that the fact that I can only do laundry or run the dishwasher after 9 pm or on weekends, and you can see why things back up. It was one seriously sick individual that decided it would be a good idea to give people a break on their electric bill if they used it in the middle of the night.

I woke up this morning to a sink full of dirty dishes and a weeks worth of laundry on my living room floor. I've done the dishes, and am about to start on the laundry. I'll probably do 10 loads of laundry today. Luckily for me my hubby vaccumed the living room and cleaned it a couple days ago so that's one less thing I need to do. The kids have one job today, get their rooms picked up enough that I can vaccum in there without sucking up Polly Pocket shoes. They are currently playing.

My middle one decided this morning to assign more chores to everyone. She made a list for herself and her sisters that included taking the trash out, cleaning the bathroom, and cleaning the living room (the one that daddy already cleaned. clever eh?). Needless to say, she wasn't very popular with the other two. They were all in here yelling that I had told them to just clean their rooms, and she wasn't the boss of them, etc. I had to explain to her that while I appreciated her enthusiasm about Saturday chore day, that I'd just be really happy if she could clean her room.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Who are you and what did you do with my kid?

After picking the kids up from school, we went to the library to return some of our books. The kids checked out just as many as they returned, but can I really complain? They are reading a lot, and that is only going to help them. It's been a struggle to get my oldest to read, it's nice that my younger two have found the joy in it without me having to cram it down their throats.

My oldest has finally found something she is passionate about reading, and so she checks out plenty of books now too. Not the normal reading you would expect for an 11 year old though. She's facinated by medicine and I think she is trying to teach herself to be a doctor. She keeps checking out these huge medical books and watching every medical show on tv. Now if she would just get her homework done every night, she might have a shot at getting a scholarship to medical school someday.

It's funny how they change as they get older. She used to be the super responsible overachiever, I never had to worry about her getting her homework done, but this year, since she started the 7th grade, she's become the biggest slacker. I guess my next topic of study will be how to deal with this alien life form that has taken over my child's body as she approaches her teen years.

One of my friends said to me the other day, how nice it must be having kids that are all out of diapers (she has two children under two years old), and while I understand the comment, I wonder if I might rather trade diapers for teenage angst.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Overdue Library Books

All the fun I had last week, working, looking for a new job, and troubleshooting the blog kept me from my reading. I currently have 27 books checked out from the library. Two of them are overdue, and only nine of them are mine. The other 18 belong to my children who because they insisted on keeping their own library cards in their own purses and therefore never have them with them when we are at the library.

Of the ones that are mine, I would really like to read them. One of them is Lovely Bones, which one of my friends just raved about. I also have Learning Outside the Lines. I really loved The Short Bus and I'm excited to read the book that started it all. I have a Christopher Moore book, he is one of my favorite writers when I want a good laugh. One of the overdue ones is the new James Patterson, apparently books with a lot of demand are checked out for a shorter amount of time which is how it became overdue in the first place. I also checked out the OJ book, but I'm not sure I want to read it. Part of me is sickly curious, and the other part says "you know he did it, do you really need to know how". My other checked out books are various other books about ADHD. Hopefully this week, I will have some time to read.

Red Beans and Rice

Happy Monday. I hope you all are enjoying your MLK day. My kids are all acting crazy. That happens any time they are off their schedule. FUN. Today's yummy recipe is Red Beans and Rice. This is something new we just tried this week and it was really good. Enjoy!

Red Beans and Rice

2 cups rice
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cans of kidney beans
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 cup water

Start your rice cooking in your rice cooker. About 10 minutes before the rice is ready, heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Saute the onions, celery, and garlic until the onions are clear. Place one cup of the beans in a bowl and mash with a fork. Add the mashed and whole beans, the one cup of water, cilantro, and chipotle pepper to the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve the bean mixture over the rice in a bowl. I also made some Jiffy Cornbread Muffins to serve with this.

My little one's first reaction was "Eww, beans, I'm not eating that", but after trying one bite (that's the rule around here, you can't say you don't like it if you haven't tried it) she kept eating it without complaint and when her bowl was half empty, she said "Mom, this is really good. Can we have it again tomorrow?"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Funny things kids do

This is my oldest taking a picture of herself in the mirror when she was probably about 5. She used to always take pictures with my camera any time she was able to get her hands on it. Sometimes you could figure out what she had taken a picture of, sometimes you couldn't. I always loved getting film developed because I never knew what kind of mystery pictures I might find. Below is a beautiful picture of the back of the car seat. Just in case you were wondering what the ride in the minivan looks like to your 5 year old. Here it is!
Of all the pictures she has ever taken with my camera, this would have to be my favorite. This would be her little sister going through my purse. Somehow all the contents of my purse got returned and I didn't know this had occurred until I developed the film.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Talking to myself

I apologize for all the technical issues my blog has had this week. I tried to get all fancy and got ahead of my technical knowledge. Right now as I'm typing this if you try to go to my blog, you are getting all kinds of page not found error messages. It's all my fault. I'm sorry. Hopefully it will be fixed soon. Until then, I'm talking to myself. It's been an interesting week though so I wanted to write. Hopefully one of these days, someone will be able to read it.

I started off this week by starting a new job on Monday. After a few frustrating hours of work, I went for coffee with a friend. That was definitely the highlight of my day. Tuesday I had another frustrating shift on the new job, and my oldest daughter had her first cheerleading practice. Wednesday I volunteered at my kids school. I usually volunteer from 8 to noon, and never have I wished so much to stay for the whole day, but no, I had to go home and work. By the end of my shift on Wednesday I wanted to throw the phone out the window (because it is the instrument responsible for bringing the hellish job into my home). Thursday I woke up and felt nauseous. The thought of putting on that headset made my stomach turn. My husband, being the prince that he is, said "if it's making you that upset, don't do it, find a different job", but I was determined to keep doing it at least until I found something else. I logged on for my shift, and my software wasn't working. I called the help desk and after some mediocre help, I got hung up on. I decided that it wasn't worth the grief. The work is bad enough, to have that much trouble just getting on the system to do the work was beyond wrong. So I decided to go out and find a different job, and I did, just like that. This one is at a company that the customers are happy to be there. Two new jobs in a week, it's a personal record.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Just Wait One Second

Today was a great day. Other than starting my new job that I was very poorly trained for, everything else went wonderfully. After my pathetic attempt at working, I went for coffee with one of my friends. I think I appreciated it even more after reflecting on the importance of taking time out for yourself yesterday. We moved to Arizona about 4 years ago, and I’ve found it hard to make new friends. Maybe it’s because I had more opportunity to meet other moms I had things in common with when my kids were smaller. Now the kids don’t want me to walk them to class anymore, and there isn’t much opportunity to interact with the other moms. I miss the close connections I had with the friends I made when my kids were little, the friends I had from high school, and the friends I grew up with. Now it seems that my closest friends are spread all the way from Washington to Florida and everywhere in between. We keep in touch on the internet, but it’s not the same as sitting in the same room, sharing a cup of coffee.

It’s not that I haven’t met people that I think could become the kind of close friends I so dearly miss, it’s just that everyone’s lives seem to be so busy that it’s hard to find the time to connect. The coffee date today has been a couple of months in the making.
The other day, one of my other friends commented that it had been a long time since we had seen each other. It has. I suggested that we needed to have lunch or coffee. She said to me, “We will have to plan something, when life slows down and we are able to breathe.”. It was then that I thought, “Well I guess I’m never going to see her again.” When is life going to slow down? I don't think it ever does. Rather than waiting for life to slow down for us to take a moment to enjoy it, we need to tell life to just hold on a second. I’m glad I did today.

Sausage and Rice

Sausage and rice

Smoked sausage sliced into bite sized chunks
1 cup rice
½ of a small onion diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes
Approx 10 oz water, I use the can from the tomatoes and fill it about 3/4 of the way up, one less thing to wash

Put everything into a sauté pan, cover. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approx 20 minutes until rice is cooked. Serve.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Importance of Mommy Time

It can be hectic being a parent. Besides the normal stuff of working, keeping the house clean, laundry, etc., you add homework, school projects, and after school activities. Being the parent of a child with any kind of learning disability or special needs adds another layer of stuff, meetings with the school, therapists, doctor appointments, and more time to complete homework. Sometimes it can be difficult to take time for yourself. You get so busy taking care of everything and everyone else that you forget to take care of yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in this trap, but it’s important to stop and remember that you can’t take care of anyone when you yourself are sick, run down, or burnt out.

You need to find something that you enjoy and make time for it. As much as I understand this, I have trouble implementing it. Back before I had kids I used to do a lot of art. Whether it was painting, or making crafts, I always had some kind of creative project in the works. After kids, I got busy and stopped doing them. For awhile I was scrapbooking, and I really enjoyed the creative aspect of that, but that too got pushed aside when life got hectic. I realize that when I don’t make time for myself, I get cranky and I don’t like being the frazzled cranky mom. So I’m making the effort to make time to do some of the things that I love and make me happy so I can be a better parent to my kids and a better wife to my husband.

Blogging is giving me an interesting outlet for expressing my creativity. It’s different to write and create something visually appealing in a digital media. My inability to do exactly what I want to the layout of my page is frustrating me though, and has inspired me to look into what kind of classes I could take to learn how to fully customize it myself. I’m also thinking about starting to paint again. It will be interesting to see how 2008 plays out, and what fun new things I will learn to do this year.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Crock Pot Beef and Noodles

We have a busy household. Three girls and their activities keep us running, so I like super easy, yet yummy meals. I have a bunch that I've collected on the internet, or that have been passed down in our family. I'll share a new one every Monday.

Beef and Noodles

1 can of Campbells French Onion Soup
1 can of Campbells Cream of Mushroom with Garlic Soup
1 lb. of stew meat
Extra wide egg noodles

Put both cans of soup and the stew meat in the crock pot. Don't add water to the soup mix. I usually cut the meat into smaller chunks so it's more bite sized when I serve it, but you don't have to. Leave it in the crock pot on low if you are starting it in the morning or high if you only have 4-5 hours. When you are ready to eat, boil your noodles, and serve the beef and sauce on top. If you like it creamier, you can add some sour cream right before serving, but because my oldest is a picky eater and won't eat anything called "sour" the rest of us just put a spoonful on top.

The Only Way to Eat an Elephant....

It seems completely nonsensical, on one hand my daughter needs everything structured. She needs to follow the same predictable pattern, day in, day out. She experiences a great deal of anxiety if plans are changed or if she isn’t given ample warning about a transition to a different activity. On the other hand, her room and her desk at school look like a tornado just ripped through. She has trouble finding the things she needs or wants. This causes her a great deal of frustration, and you would think that it would motivate her to keep things organized, but it doesn’t. (Or maybe it does, but she lacks the ability to act on that motivation). These two traits, the absolute need for order and the inability to create that order for oneself are both classic traits of ADD.

“So” you are asking “Am I destined to spend the rest of my life cleaning up after my ADD child?” The short answer is No, but (and you knew there was a but, right?) it’s not going to be easy. Here are my hints, and what I have found helps my daughter.

First, it helps if you can lower your expectations. Your ADD child is probably never going to be super organized or tidy. I can tell you this with certainty because I am an adult with ADD and I still struggle with these tasks. Your child is already dealing with self esteem issues because he/she can’t live up to the expectations of the school system. Don’t set him/her up to fail at home by not being able to live up to your cleanliness expectations too.

Second, get in and help. If it looks like a tornado just hit, there is no way your ADD child is going to be able to tackle it alone. There are two factors here, one it is overwhelming. If it’s too messy the ADD child doesn’t know where to start. Should he pick up the blocks first, or put the airplanes away? If there are too many choices, the ADD child will choose nothing. The other factor is what I call “Look something shiny”, in other words, ADD kids are easily distracted. Your child may pick up a couple airplanes, but by the third one he forgets he was cleaning and starts playing. Both of these things can be helped by having someone else in the room. You don’t have to do it for him, just help keep him encouraged and on track. Help your child get it clean, and then work towards maintaining that clean.

Third, make it easy. Break down the job into simple tasks. I have a chart on my daughter’s wall to help her remember the steps to cleaning her room. There are only 4 steps. First, she is supposed to pick up her dirty clothes. Second, pick up any trash. Third, put books on the bookshelf. Fourth, put toys in the toy box. Pretty much anything that is messing up her room falls into one of these four categories. By starting with the dirty clothes and the trash, we make the most visible improvement first. She can see her progress after just a few minutes. This makes it seem less overwhelming.

Fourth, make it routine. The last part is to make a habit out of picking up so the room doesn’t get back to tornado status. If it is picked up daily, there isn’t as much as if it is neglected for a week. My daughter has another chart on her wall with routines for the morning and before bed. She has 5 minutes in the evening to pick up her room before bed. This is plenty of time for her to pick up a day’s worth of clothes, trash, books, and toys.

It doesn’t always go according to plan. There are times when her room still looks like a tornado hit. About once every three months I have to go back in and help her get it all organized again, but little by little she is learning that she can clean her own room. It’s just like eating an elephant, one bite at a time.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

You did what?

Parenting a child with ADD is a daily exercise in patience. They do the most interestingly creative things. Like this.

One evening I was making dinner. My oldest daughter was away at a friends house, and my younger two were upstairs playing together. They were playing quite nicely (which is beyond rare, and should have been my first clue that something was seriously wrong). I could hear them upstairs playing house. My middle one playing mommy and my little one playing the baby. I could hear their little angelic voices as they played out their game. Until I called them down to eat.

They came downstairs covered in a fine white powder. I immediately started grilling my middle one on where she got baby powder. A few weeks earlier she had amused herself greatly by shaking baby powder downstairs from the loft above "Look mom, it's snowing!!", and I was quite sure I had removed all the baby powder that had survived the blizzard from the house. My little one replies "It's not baby powder, sissy took flour and eggs upstairs, we were making a cake". I looked at the middle child and asked "How bad is it?", "Pretty bad, mom" she replied (hey, at least she's honest). So upstairs I go to survey the damage. I find our loft covered in the fine white powder, and discover that it is in fact not flour but powdered sugar. Yay, not only is it all over everything, it's sticky too!! I find the egg carton and no sign of any cracked eggs, what a relief. I served the kids some dinner and set to work cleaning up the mess. I used a sponge to wipe the powdered sugar from every flat surface in the loft, and then started to vacuum up the mess off the carpet. It doesn't take long for the sugary goodness that is powdered sugar to gunk up the vacuum though, so I have to call it a night. Before going to bed I took the vacuum apart, cleaned all the sticky out, and left the filter and parts to dry until morning.

The next day:

I woke up early and re-assembled my vacuum cleaner (who would have guessed that one of the prerequisites for being a mommy was knowledge of basic mechanics) and went upstairs to finish the clean up. Upon arrival upstairs, I was greeted by a smell that can only mean one thing. They did play with the eggs! I have no idea how many, but the smell tells me they are there. SO now I'm on an egg hunt, but one that's not nearly as fun as Easter. I find a couple cracked in the bathroom trash can, a couple in a bucket, one stuck to a stuffed cat's tail (could be worse, could have been the real cat), and the best of all, one cracked into one half of a Valentines candy heart and placed on the dresser under the window with the sun shining in on it (and have I mentioned we live in Arizona). So I get the trash can and begin pitching everything that has the egg goo on it, and then I finish vacuuming up the powdered sugar.

I come downstairs to find my darling two children (who have been playing nice and quiet while I was cleaning upstairs) have taken all the spaghetti out of my pantry, broken it into inch long pieces, covered my front room floor with it, and are pretending the room is a barn, with the spaghetti being the hay.