Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to get your child to eat more veggies..

Throw a spontaneous party! The kids were making a fort in the living room and covered the floor with colorful towels. It made me think of a fiesta! So I brought out the veggies and dip!

They ate it up because it was suddenly a party! I put out sliced cucumber, carrot sticks, hummus and ranch (they love choices), as well as pita chips, pretzels, and pickles upon request all on a bright party platter we had used at our last birthday celebration (thank you dollar store).

(Sorry for the bad lighting, it was the only pic I could get!)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Can't Wait to Slow Down

I have been ignoring the state of my house, except I finally threw in a load of laundry this week after my husband told me he had no clean shirts to wear to work tomorrow! I rarely cook anymore and if I do, it's a 10 minute meal! And I'm not really getting any quality time with the kids and I'm SO missing them! At least one was in day camp all week, so he was busy and worn out. But this camp registration job I'm doing is just getting busier and busier! My boss asked if it's slowed down now that camps have started. LOL! Good thing you couldn't hear the insanity behind that laugh.

I'm the type that likes to stay on top of things and return phone calls right away. I can do it, but it's been at the expense of other things. Important things! I've barely seen my husband, and you may have read how our last date night went (see previous post)! When I finally do go to bed, I can't sleep because I have too much on my mind; I need to call her back first thing in the morning, Did I post that on that one account??, I should have checked my messages one more time... I'm not trying to complain, I'm enjoying this job, it's been fun being back in the work force, it's bringing in some much needed cash, and I can still have my kids with me while I work. I just can't wait to slow down again. I miss my family and my sleep! My favorite things, in that order!

Not to mention, my boss calls me up yesterday and first says, "are you sitting down?" Then, "Don't freak out." What a lead in! Now that I'm freaking out, but don't know why....I find out my art supplies did not ship out so I have nothing for my campers Monday! Nothing! No paint, no paper, nothing. And there's no time even if they shipped now! After some hyperventilating, she sent someone (thank God she didn't make me do it) off to a local art supply to get all the items I ordered or at least as close as she could get. I still can't sleep just because I don't know for sure what I'm ending up with and if I'll have all the right things for the projects I planned. I'm not freaking out! At least not outwardly! I'm good at improvising, but it's killing me not knowing! Monday will be interesting, that's for sure. I know we'll have a blast no matter what, though.

I don't know if I'll have a chance to post next week. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with registration while teaching camp. I don't know much. But I do know, I'm going to try to sleep once more. And if you're waiting for me to call you about camp, I will be working tomorrow morning, so don't freak out!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Who's idea was this?!

My 8th wedding anniversary is today and though we planned no big thing, my husband did good! He came home with a bunch of gorgeous roses & box of Sees candies!  A huge step up from barely remembering a card last year and nothing at all the previous two years. Ya, he's big on romance (major sarcasm).

Since we're big on family, we decided we'd rather go to dinner with the kids and enjoy our two beautiful results of wedlock rather than leave them with someone and go on our own. We chose a Hawaiian place downtown as something out of our usual and fun for the kids to see the tiki decorations. Sounded like a good plan and started out picture perfect!

Maybe it was all because my wine was forgotten until the end when I gulped it down just to make it through the rest of the meal! I don't know, but one little angel kept kicking the table and sliding under it. The other refused to sit at all and proceeded to jump on the bench seat which was shared with other patrons (who didn't stay long for some reason) and yell at the top of her voice for her brother to give up all his fries! I won't go into every detail but you get the picture of my nice relaxing anniversary dinner. Who's insane idea was this and where is the freaking nanny?! I need to fire her! Oh ya, that's me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The day after

And this is what happens when u stay up half the night! (noon the next day)
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Get Kids Involved in Organizing and Cleaning, the earlier the better

Seems like the theme of the month is organizing. 

This subject keeps popping up. People must have put off spring cleaning and now, realizing it's already summer, are looking around their cluttered homes wondering how in the world they accumulated so much crap and what the heck to do with it all?!! I know I am! Maybe it's just me?

If you're a Santa Cruz local, pick up a copy of 'Growing Up In Santa Cruz' and read the article "That organizing energy...nurture it in your kids" by Suki Wessling, for three reasons. It has some great tips, features a blog (The Aums) by a friend of mine who shares some great advice about making it easy for kids to put their own clothes away.

And, BONUS, a little advice from yours truly (look for Leah Mastilock) on starting early with responsibilities! (I was pleasantly surprised to see my name in print this month! I remember posting my barely thought out comment on FB, but didn't dream my little quote would make it to print! Yay me!)

Now that I've had time to think about it, I thought I'd share my top tips for getting kids involved on a good track to a (somewhat) more organized life. If you've seen my house, you may think it laughable that I would be sharing tips at all and wondering, what the hell is she talking about organization for?

I am by no means a neat freak. You will find no label makers in my house! But regardless of the current state of my home, I know where things are and getting kids started young helps them create good habits that will help them stay organized in school and later on in life.

Okay, I'll get to the part that will actually help you already:

Top Tips For Organized Kids:

Be an Example: Don't hate me, but you know very well kids do as we do, not as we say. Pick up your own crap if you want your kids to ever do it.

Start Early: I see so many moms throwing toys into big toy bins... stop it! Get smaller bins & though it may take a little extra effort, sort like things together. For one, it's SO much nicer to play with a toy when you can find all the pieces, accessories, etc, all together. And I really think this sets a great example for staying organized when your child is suddenly in middle school and needs to keep each subject separate!

LET THEM DO IT! Do you really expect your tween to suddenly clean up after themselves when you've done it for them their whole childhood? Are you crazy? Toddlers LOVE to sort and put things away. Encourage this! If they don't do it right, so what? At least they're doing it. If you're anal, you can sort it out later after they've gone to bed. Make it routine to clear the table after dinner, pick up after playing and each night before bed.

My two year old loves to put away the dishes,  I quickly grab all the knives and heavy things, then she hands me the cups, bowls, etc. She happily throws the silverware in a pile in the drawer. I do sort that out later, but make her feel proud for the job she did! Make it easy for them with easy to reach bins, drawers, etc.

Sandy Toes Creations- Get Kids Involved in Organizing and Cleaning
she even sorted them out this time!

Let them clean the windows, wipe the counters, help fold the laundry & put it in the right drawers (even if it's all crumpled & tossed in, again, you can fix it later if it's that important to you. Really, there are more important things.) Even if their "help" is not really helping, let them feel like it is. My 5 year old likes to wipe down the tub when I'm cleaning the bathroom. I have to go over it again when he gets tired of it, but I praise him for all his help and what a great job he's doing while he's in there!

This works with a lot of other things as well, I let my kids "help" me with almost everything. If they can't really help, I give them something to do so they think they are. Like handing me things I ask for while I cook. Or wiping down the cabinets with a cloth. Unnecessary, but they don't know that yet! I'm not going to refuse an offer of help! I don't want them to stop asking!

Make it fun! Sing a clean up song or put on some music & dance while you clean! Do it together so it's bonding time, not solitary confinement. You don't want it to feel like a punishment.

Don't let it pile up: Clean up after each game or activity. But please, please, let them be messy while they're playing!! Don't crush their creativity and imagination because it will make a mess! Cleaning is for after play!! Again, help and encourage, but don't do it for them! Don't let it get overwhelming. If it seems that way, help them pick one thing to do at a time so it's manageable. Pick up all the blocks first, when that's done, pick up all the books, etc.

Reward, not threaten: this is more of a top parenting tip, but can apply to cleaning and organizing as well. Let your kid know that they can play, read a book, go to a friend's, whatever they were begging to do before you made them stop and clean up, after they're done with the task you want them to do.

I have found that just changing my wording can get a much better response! Instead of "No, you can't do____ until you clean up this mess!", try, "Yes, you can, as soon as this is picked up" or at the very least (if it's still going to be a no), "We can talk about it as soon as you're done". Sometimes just the word "No" will close down all communication and you're left with anger and a kid choosing to no longer listen to you.

My teen foster daughter lived in a pile of clothing and I don't know what all! You could never see the floor, she would step on things and ruin and break things. Until she lived with me and had another thing coming! Yes it took a while, but she finally got the idea that if she wanted to go anywhere, her room had better be clean. Eventually I didn't even have to ask.

It's not easy, but if it's a routine from early on, it makes a big difference! It also teaches respect of one's things (a reflection of self-respect) and respect of other people's things. I would never let her borrow from me at first because I knew my things would be lost or broken. Later, I knew she would take care of them.

Hope this was helpful to someone. Please share your tips with me! I'd love to know what works for you!

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Naps are Definitely still needed!

Not that I thought otherwise, but now I know for sure, naps are definitely still needed! My precious baby girl didn't get one yesterday and by 4pm, she was perfectly happy. Yep, you heard right, a smiling little angel, as long as she got her way! But God forbid anything not go exactly the way she wanted! She was completely falling apart over every little thing! By bedtime she was a mess! I mean total meltdown, screaming, crying, stomping feet, giant crocodile tears... the whole shebang, all because I moved the stool for her to climb onto the potty when apparently I should have let her do it herself. When it didn't stop and everything I did just made it worse, I started laughing! Sorry if I sound like a horribly uncaring mother, but it was rather hilarious and what else could I do by that point? She finally calmed herself down, but it was a struggle to get her to go to sleep. She was so overly tired that she couldn't let herself relax and wanted her blanket on, then off, then a different one, and on and on. She did finally fall asleep and I marveled at how sweet and peaceful she suddenly was! Was this the same child I had just wanted to bang over the head?! How could I have been frustrated with this perfect little darling?!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Forcing my kids to have fun

Why do I have to drag my son, kicking and screaming to do something incredibly fun?! He loves his Karate class! He started last year and we tried out a bunch of other martial art studios, but he fell in love with this one (I highly recommend Rod Sanford Martial Arts in Soquel! ) and only wanted to go there. So we've been going ever since.

When it was pretty much the only thing going on last fall, he was thrilled to go! He would beg to go on days there was no class! He still loves it, but now that we're much busier, he's tired in the afternoon, has a favorite TV show, though he doesn't get to watch much TV, we both love Wild Kratts and it happens to be on at the same time as karate. So, now he whines and cries and it's a big huge struggle to get him to go. But he is all smiles and laughs two seconds after he gets there! He loves it! I just have to remind him of it every time I'm trying my best to get him there on time! And his favorite part is the warm ups in the beginning, so he does not like to be late. Ugh. I hope this is a short lived faze. It's exhausting!

Appreciating the Great Things in Life

Now that I've caught you up on those oh so important current events (see previous posts today) I have been reflecting on what an amazing thing it was that I was able to throw a great party this weekend for my baby girl. Warning, get ready for sappiness!

I had to stop and just really appreciate life today. I have such an awesome one! I am so in love with every person in it and every moment I am blessed with right now. I don't want to miss a second! I have not always felt that way, that is for sure!

Even those that think they know me pretty well may not know that in my teens and 20's I majorly struggled with depression. I was not sure from day to day how long I could stand living in this world. I don't want to dig deeper into that right now, but after a very long healing process, with the help of some great counselors, and hard work on forgiveness, mostly of myself, I am a different person today.

More recently, my husband was off work for three months this last winter with a crippling mystery pain in his abdomen.  He was in excruciating pain whenever he bent or sat, the only comfortable position for him was lying down. Not great for a delivery driver. 

Sandy Toes Creations- Appreciating the Great Things in LifeHe went through every test, scan, you name it, they could think of, but could find nothing out of the ordinary. It was a very scary time, hard on the kids because he couldn't play. Hard on finances, too, and though we made it as happy as we could, it was a very rough Christmas.

Finally, after switching docs and trying a different combo of meds, the pain miraculously went away! It has not come back! I believe it may have been a hernia they couldn't see with scans because it only came out when he was sitting. But we'll never know for sure.

With all those appointments with specialists, tests and scans, came thousands of dollars of bills, but we were so happy to have him back to enjoying life again we really didn't stress too much. Plus we had help from our wonderful church, friends, and family with food & more. We made it through.

We're still trying catch up, but to go from that dark time of pain and uncertainty, not knowing if he'd be well again, if he'd be able to work again, if we could keep our home, to this happy weekend of carnivals and birthday parties, being able to feed our friends and family so they could celebrate with us, not having to stress over how we could possibly buy a present for the beautiful little girl we just want to spoil rotten... It is amazing! 

I am in awe how our lives have turned around and how so many, even people we did not know, came to our aid when we were so in need! I thank God everyday for giving me this wonderful life!

Can't live without Hummus

Here's the hummus recipe that was a big hit! And cheaper than the store bought hummus I always buy (though I love Trader Joes hummus, especially the edemame flavor). My son will not eat vegetables, chicken strips, or fish sticks without his precious hummus, so I had wanted to make some for a while, however, every recipe calls for tahini. Being an ignorant American white girl, I have no idea what that is. I looked in the spice section, but could find nothing of the sort. Finally found this tahini-free recipe, doubled the garlic (you can almost never have too much garlic; I say almost because I did have one instance where there was just too much, which I had previously thought was not possible! Also, I have  tried garlic ice cream at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and realized some things should never have any garlic in them!) What was I saying? Oh yes, this was super easy and so delish!

Blueberry Cake is Heaven!

I later made cupcakes! Yum!
This is where I found the fabulous blueberry cake recipe for my daughter's birthday! It was so good, I was actually disappointed there was none left over! I may have to make another one. I doubled the recipe and used a 13"x9" cake pan. Ok, actually I used a casserole dish because I'm not cool enough to have every cooking item I need. I improvise with what I've got!

Moist Blueberry Cake with Light Lemon Icing - I Adore Food!

Highest and Lowest in Two Days

Sandy Toes Creations- Highest and Lowest in Two Days

Oh Happy day! 

The birthday party for my 2 year old girl was a success! 

I found out Costco closes early on Saturday (what's up with that?!) and had to jam across town and brave the Sunday morning lines, making it back a little late for the party... I mean we planned on a grand entrance, right?

Family came from out of town, friends new and old, it was great! Everyone had a great time and the food was awesome, if I do say so myself. I discovered you can make great hummus without tahini and blueberry cake is to die for! 

Nothing like homemade birthday cake. My mom always made one for me and it just tastes so much better when it's made with love! Don't you think? I posted the recipes, but I can't take credit for them, I found them online.

It took two nights just to get my kitchen back under control! I can see the counter again! Woohoo!

It was a gorgeous day at the park and I turned into a french fry! I'm still paying for it! At least I remembered to sunscreen the kids.

Boo was completely spoiled. I think she had the absolute best day of her entire little life! She got to eat whatever she wanted (and she loves to eat!), she had everyone's undivided attention, and she had a mountain of presents to open! She loved every gift and it was hard to keep her moving onto the next one. She just wanted to stop and play with whatever she just opened right then and there. Who can blame her?

Now, covering every inch of my floor at home, are dolls and their accessories, sparkly purses, hats, tea cups, saucers, you name it. If it's girlie, it's all over my house! Everyone had so much fun, then we got home.

It was meltdowns all around! My husband, no exception! Somehow I managed to get everyone to bed and finally, finally, got to relax myself. I had a much deserved glass of wine and then crawled into bed and died.

So why did I mention highest and lowest in the title? Well that day was the highlight of her life so far, then yesterday came. 

We were given a bunk bed by some very generous people (who we can't thank enough!) and had, as of yet, not had time to put it together. Finally, last night, my husband was home early enough to do it.

Both kids were bouncing around in anticipation like it was Christmas morning! He got it all set up and they were both up and down the ladder, hanging blankets down to make a fort in the bottom bunk, and just so ecstatic about this wonderful new playground in their room!

We went to bed late yet again because there was no calming them down immediately, though I tried. Finally everyone was ready for bed and Monkey climbed up to the top bunk. I started to rock Boo until she was sleepy, as usual, but she was having none of that! I realized with horror that she was certain in her little mind that she was going to get to sleep in the top bunk, too! I planned for her to stay in her crib, not even on the bottom bunk yet!

Oh no, I am not ready to deal with that! Yes she's now 2, but she can stay in her crib where she can't climb out (yet) every 5 minutes! She was fighting me to get up that ladder again and trying to make it sound great, I told her she was going to sleep in her usual bed (as if that was exciting! Wow, she already knows what an idiot her mom is, how scary is that thought?!)

There was no pleasing her, so I finally had to put her in her bed with her lovey (little blankie she can't live without) and leave her to calm herself for a while. I felt horrible! It must have been the biggest disappointment of her whole life! I'm sure she really thought she was going to get to sleep in this amazing new bed we got just for her and all her happy dreams were suddenly crushed. She'll probably need years of therapy before she fully recovers!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oh, and I was all worried about missing things like the school carnival in the future in my previous post... we went to the Twin Lakes Christian School carnival last night in Aptos, OMG! It was awesome! Bounce houses, giant slides, climbing wall, dunk tank, face painting, games, food, balloon animals... and it wasn't expensive so we got to do almost everything! Definitely will become an annual thing!

Happy Birthday Little Trouble Maker

This little angel is at this very moment climbing up on a stool, reaching into the cupboard, and getting the box of fruit snacks down all by herself...... (me stepping away for a moment)..... and now she is screaming and stomping her feet because I put them away (she already had some). I gave her some crackers, but apparently that was unacceptable! Now she's showing me! As she opens a drawer she knows she's not allowed in, taking my pen, calculator, and I don't know what else, she's running back into the living room with them! Happy 2nd birthday to my little troublemaker! I'm not entirely mean, I did make her purple blueberry pancakes in butterfly and star shapes this morning per her request!

I was up late thinking of how she would only be one year old for a few more hours. I know it's cliche, but it does go by too fast! She was always an early mover and very independent (she also screamed at me this morning for trying to help her put her boots on under her poofy Easter dress she wanted to wear today. Excuuuuuse me!!) so I feel like I was cheated out of baby time! No I'm not quite ready for another. I have my hand full enough for now!

She's the girliest toddler I've ever met and it certainly doesn't come from me! I was always more of a tom-boy. I remember my mom begging me to wear a dress, but rarely was I seen in anything but jeans and tees. If I couldn't climb trees or slide across mud, it wasn't for me! This dainty girl is a mystery. Totally her Daddy's little girl! It's going to be a fun, interesting journey with this one!
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