Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Getting ready for October

Halloween Art

October will be here tomorrow. My favorite holiday is Halloween. I miss having my classroom and working on art projects all month long. It's a good thing I have a handful of kids to fill that void at home. Here Lyn, Evan, and Eliot are having fun with Halloween foam stickers. Evan and Eliot named all of the shapes and matched them. Lyn made a Halloween card for her Granny.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nursing Connor

Connor is my third child and my second son. He was born December 21, 2000. This post is about his early breastfeeding adventures. I had already successfully breastfed my older two children. I was confident that I would have minimal difficulties nursing Connor. Connor's delivery was fairly uneventful. I labored as long as I could at home and made it to the hospital in time. As soon as he was born and cleaned up a little bit I put him to the breast. He had no trouble figuring out what do. He was almost a pro from the get go. We went home and continued to enjoy a productive nursing experience for a day or two. Then I noticed I was getting more than sore. No matter what strategy I tried nothing helped. I looked up all kinds of information and read every book I could get my hands on to try to figure out what was wrong. Finally I discovered that Connor had an unusually high palette. The roof of his mouth was so high that he was always pulling unevenly when he nursed. I tried rotating him around for each feeding. I tried to give each side a rest periodically and alternate pumping. My only hope was for him to grow into his high palate. As his mouth got a little bit bigger his seal was more even and everything healed up and we had a good stretch nursing. All of this took about two weeks. When Connor was three weeks Christmas break was over and I had to go back to college. I was one semester from completing my associates degree. I found a daycare that would accept infants 3 weeks old. He was the only baby in his class so he got a lot of attention. I hated to leave him but I did not feel that I had much of a choice at the time. He did well switching from the breast to the bottle. None of my kids ever had the "cursed" nipple confusion. My supply was pretty well established. He usually had mostly breast milk in his bottles. Occasionally he had half formula and half breast milk in his bottles. I did not let this trouble me. I have always felt that any amount of breast milk is better than none. I was waiting for Connor to reach 6 weeks old so that I could move him to his brother and sister's daycare. They did not accept children till that age. It was a fairly decent daycare and I was comfortable having the kids attend. Right before Connor was set to move to his new daycare a new nursing dilemma arose. Connor had thrush. This is a yeast infection that invades mucus membranes such as the mouth. Well, during breastfeeding Connor transferred this infection to his mama. And so the cycle began. I figured I needed to be aggressive to break this cycle. Creams just didn't cut it. My doctor and Connor's doctor both prescribed us an oral anti-fungal medication, (fluconazole). We ended up having to take four doses to knock it out. By now Connor was 6 weeks old. My milk supply was steady. School was going well and Connor was thriving. He was a chubby little boy. I always tell moms to be and new moms that ask that it usually takes a good solid 6 weeks to get to know your nursing baby and establish a good breastfeeding relationship. Connor was my most challenging beginning nurser but we enjoyed a good run till he was 11 months old.

Homemade playdough

The kids have the best babysitter ever. She watched the kids Saturday afternoon and they made homemade playdough. They got to decide on the colors to make and added scents. Sunday ended up being so pretty. The rain finally let up and the sun came out. Annika and Eliot were happy to play outside and explore the playdough. Evan was napping but he got a chance to play later that day. Annika made the great wall of China with her playdough. She held it up for me to see and explained what she had all made. Eliot then followed suit and showed me her snowman and told me all about it. Eliot is amazing. Her language has just been developing by leaps and bounds. She is now officially 2 years old. Her birthday was on Saturday. We will be having a real birthday party later.

Here is the recipe for homemade playdough according to our babysitter.
1 Cup of water
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of salt
1 tablespoon of cream of tartar
1 cup of flour
Food coloring of your choice
Add scents such as pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, or mint.Combine in a pot and stir well to get all the lumps out. Cook on the stove and stir constantly until it forms together. Lay it on a plate until it cools. Knead well and store it in a Ziploc bag. It should last for 6 months. Don't worry it if appears to smoke or burn. It will come off the bottom of your pot just don't leave it unattended.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stuffed mushrooms

Well, I did say I was going to spend the day cooking. My goal for the day was stuffed mushrooms. When the little kids went down for a nap I got all of my ingredients ready. They were as follows:

one package of stoufer's spinach souffle
a medium package of medium sized mushrooms
a pound of spicy pork sausage
6-8 ounces of shredded mozzarella cheese with a little monterrey cheese thrown in
1/4 of a white onion

I only used 1/2 of the spinach souffle. You can use the whole package for a creamier filling. Set aside the spinach souffle so it will start to thaw. I actually cut it into small pieces to speed up the process. Brown the onions and sausage together. I like to overdo it a bit. I like the sausage to be a little crunchy for texture. Add the cooked sausage and onion mixture to the thawed spinach souffle. Add about half of the shredded cheese and mix in a bowl. Take the washed de-stemmed mushroom caps and fill them with the mixture. Place in a baking dish and bake for only 10 - 20 minutes at 350 degrees. For the last 5 minutes pull the pan out and sprinkle liberal amounts of the left over cheese on top and pop it back in the oven to melt. They are best eaten hot from the oven. The mixture keeps well before cooking. You can even freeze it but the cooked mushrooms don't reheat very well. Eat them while they are hot!!

My meatloaf recipe

I already posted this on facebook but I might as well post it here too. I added a few directions here too.

Well, I had some ground beef that I needed to cook. I didn't want to make hamburgers again. I have made meatloaf a hundred times but I wanted to try something different. I looked up some recipes and called my mother to get some fresh input. I took a little from all of my sources and made up a new recipe. Lyn helped me and even took a picture. This is what we ended up with.

1 1/4 pounds of ground beef
1/4 pound hot pork sausage
1 teaspoon diced garlic
1/4 diced onion
2 eggs
1 piece toasted whole wheat bread crumbled
1/4 package crumbled saltine crackers
1/2 a package Lipton soup mix (your choice of flavor)
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
salt and pepepr to taste

We mixed all of this together and shaped it into a loaf shape in a pyrex pan. I baked it for about an hour at 375 degrees. Towards the end of that time I spread the rest of the cream of mushroom soup on top of the meatloaf and continued to bake. It will be firmer if you let it cool a little bit. Enjoy!!!

It turned out pretty good. The kids had seconds and even thirds.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shadow play

My toddlers amaze me everyday. Last night on their own they started making shadows on the wall with their stuffed animals. They commented on their animals' shadows and their own shadows. Way to use your imagination guys!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

All about Evan

Evan had homework in his preschool class. He had to make a friendship quilt square. For all of those out there who have never had a young preschooler or toddler in daycare this usually consists of designing a piece of paper or poster board. The goal is to put information about the child and his or her family on the paper. Dislikes, pets, siblings, and pictures are usually included. When I was a toddler teacher for years this was not my favorite activity. I enjoyed learning about the children in my class and their families. But, the activity was more for the parents instead of the child. Evan is three now so he got into the project a little bit more than I expected. We kept it short and sweet. He made a hand print. (Of course he had to paint everything else after that.) He told me his favorite snacks. We listed his many brothers and sisters. He shared some of his favorite activities. I then took his oldest sister to her volleyball game (she won). As I had a moment to myself at her game I glued everything onto his poster. I could have involved Evan in this part of the project but a tired mom has to do what she has to do to get it ready for the next day. I left the poster in the car so it would not get destroyed. They next morning (today) I showed Evan the end product as we were walking into his school. He was so proud. I had him hold it up for me to see. I am assuming that he will be sharing this with his class and it will be pieced together with all of his other friends' artwork somewhere for all to see. Some of the goals of this activity for Evan age would be:

1) That he enjoy the sensory creative side of the painting.
2) That he would have letter recognition when he picked out his name.
3) Encouraging social interactions when he share the poster with others.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Imaginative play

Young children are constantly acquiring knowledge. They then need a way to experiment with that knowledge. One of the natural ways they do this is through imaginative play. They take what they have learned and use open ended activities to fit this knowledge into their world. Children need to play with toys and household items without strict rules. When parents and caregivers continually insist that children "play the right way" they stifle a child's cognitive potential. A child makes the world their own by making their own rules.

The pictures here in this post show my children playing with a toy kitchen set with a mixture of mismatched toy food and dishes. My older daughters continually model novel language and social settings to the younger children. They then take what they hear and see and make it their own. Other open ended toys that encourage this type of learning include but are not limited to:

Building blocks
Dress-up props
Toy animals
Art activities

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Colors all around us

The toddlers in my house have been fascinated with colors lately. To encourage this interest we have been listening to children's songs that sing about colors. We have been reading a lot of books that talk about colors. A favorite is the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? Everywhere we go Evan has been pointing out colors. Eliot has been trying her best. She has red and yellow down. Today they helped me cut out pictures of things of all different colors. We stuck them on the wall and listened to our favorite color song. They did a good job listening to the song and pointing out the colors they heard mentioned. We had a pop up toy and a copy of Brown Bear to refer to as we listened to the song. Evan kept going and talked about the colors after the song ended. Enjoy the videos of them learning about colors.

Here is a link to the book used in the videos.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Buttermilk Pie

I was born and raised in Alabama. I am by no means a country girl though. I have lived outside of the South for years at a time. But even I know what buttermilk pie is. I have eaten it many times and even baked it on occasion. I have many memories of eating my mother's buttermilk pies growing up. I bought some buttermilk yesterday in hopes of baking a pie today. At work today I polled my friends and co-workers and only one of them had ever eaten buttermilk pie before. Only one other had even heard of it. I was appalled. And they call themselves Alabamians!! My children enjoy making buttermilk pie and eating it whenever they get a chance. Here is my mother's recipe if anyone would like to try buttermilk pie. I have also included a link to an explanation and a little history on this misunderstood desert. Enjoy!!!!

3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 stick melted butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk

Mix all in order given (do not use electric mixer). Pour into unbaked 9 inch pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Then, bake at 250 degrees for at least an hour or until set. Let cool before slicing. Yummy!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Story of Two Stones

A little of religious history first......

According to Christian as well as Mormon tradition Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem. He also, according to The Book of Mormon, visited the Americas.

Now to my story of the two stones.

When I was 15 years old I was an exchange student to Guatemala for the summer. One of the trips I took with other students from Alabama was to the ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal. As I was exploring the pyramids and climbing to the top of one I passed a couple from the United States. They greeted me and said they were visiting from Utah. We spoke for a little while. It was just nice speaking to anyone who spoke English. At this time in my life I knew very little if any about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The couple told me a little about their faith and how the Mayan ruins held meaning to them. I did not really hold onto any of the information they shared with me. As my day at Tikal came to an end something prompted me to pick up a stone from the ground. I put it in my pocket and it made its way back to Alabama with me. It ended up tucked away in an old chest for years. As the years passed and I finished high school I met a young man. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We dated and eventually married. I converted to his faith and was baptised right after we were married. He had joined the Navy and during our first year of marriage he was deployed to the Mediterranean. One of the stops he made was Israel. He had a chance to visit Jerusalem. I asked him to pick up a stone for me from the streets of Jerusalem. He did so and brought it home to me months later. I dug up my old stone from Tikal. I placed these two stones together on a shelf for all to see. For years they held meaning for me. They supported my testimony to the church. I had two stones that Jesus could have tread upon on separate sides of the world. I am no longer a member of the church but I feel that my two stones still hold a story or two.

Saturday projects

Lyn is working on a project for school. She is designing an advertisement for the state of Texas. To distract the little kids while she was working I set up painting for them. Annika joined them. They enjoyed themselves. I practically had to tear them away from their painting. In the end Eliot actually cried herself to sleep for her nap. This only shows me that I need to offer them painting activities more often.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Chapter Four

The babysitter left her home for her initial military training. She was enjoying the empowering feeling of attempting to accomplish something both physically and emotionally challenging. Over a month into her training she began to feel just not quite right. She visited the medical clinic to make sure she was not seriously ill. She received some shocking news. She was told that she was pregnant. This was a shock because this meant that her training would have to come to an end. The babysitter was not unhappy that she was expecting another child but she was at ends now as to what direction her life would take. As was procedure she was transferred to a unit that was preparing for departure from the military. She collected her belongings and boarded a bus for home. She sought out medical care and tried to get her life back in order. She spent time with her son and tried to imagine which direction her life would go now. She made a decision that the father of her child had the right to know about the pregnancy. There was no question in her mind that the husband was the father of her child. She called him on the phone and told him that she would like to talk to him in person whenever he got the chance. She gave him directions to her new home and he arrived that afternoon. She sat him down and explained that she was pregnant and that she was sure that he was the father of the child. He was in shock. He wanted to know what the babysitter's plan was. She informed him that she did not see the need to interfere in his life with his wife. He seemed relieved that the babysitter was not trying to complicate his life. He knew that his family back home would be disappointed that he had fathered another child out of wedlock and wanted to keep the child a secret from them. The babysitter knew the husband did not love her. She had no expectations about his involvement. The husband stood up and gave the babysitter a hug. He told her that he knew she would continue to be a good mother and he wished her well. The babysitter never saw the husband again. Months later she delivered a healthy baby girl with strawberry blond hair just like her father.

The End

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Chapter Three

The babysitter began taking care of the little girl. They spent their days going for long walks with the stroller through the neighborhood. The babysitter did not live very far away from the little girl but when she was given the chance she moved even closer. She was now within walking distance of her. The babysitter liked sunflowers.She wore shirts with sunflowers on them. She decorated her kitchen with sunflowers. The little girl began to identify her babysitter with sunflowers. Whenever she saw one she would say "sunflowders" in her own little girl way. Her parents thought this was so cute. The wife was content that she had found someone to care for her child that seemed to care for her dearly. The babysitter did not have any children of her own and she nurtured and taught the little girl everyday. The babysitter did not dwell on the mistake she had made with the husband. It was like it never happened. It was never spoken of and he never treated her with anything but respect. As time went on though the husband started to come home for lunch every once in a while. Sometimes the babysitter and the little girl would come home from a long walk and find him eating lunch in the kitchen. This was a treat for the little girl who did not see her father many nights because he worked two jobs. More and more often though the husband would come home for lunch later in the day when the little girl was down for her nap. His attention shifted from his daughter to the babysitter. He never promised her anything. He only said he was lonely. Again and again the babysitter felt sorry for him. She knew she was betraying the wife's trust but what was happening just did not seem so horribly wrong. The little girl grew into a bright precocious two year old. Her mother felt it was time to move her from in home care to a quality daycare setting. The babysitter could only agree. She could see the child blossoming and in need of a daily social setting to continue to grow in. The family was so grateful for the care that the babysitter had given their child they presented her with gifts. They made her a "best babysitter award" and the wife gave her several gifts for her home with sunflowers on them. This separation led the babysitter to believe that the physical relationship she was sharing with the husband would come to an end. It did taper off but he would come over and visit her every once and a while. Sometimes it was just to talk mostly it was for something more. The babysitter was moving on with her life. On one visit from the husband she informed him that she was pregnant. "No!" it was not his child. She set him at ease about that. He wished her well and from then on they parted ways, mostly. They would see each other around town and the babysitter actually started watching a new baby whose parents were friends of the husband and wife. The mother of this new baby though decided she would like to be an at home mother and the babysitter only watched their child a few months. Every one's life was as normal as it could be. The babysitter was enjoying raising her new child, a son. When he was about eighteen months old she decided to make a drastic change in her life. She decided to join the military. The day before she left for basic training she made the rounds around town saying good-bye to all of her friends. This included making a stop at the husband and wife's home. She was hoping to see the little girl one last time. The wife and little girl were away visiting family. The husband was home alone. He invited the babysitter in. They talked for a little while. As she was getting ready to leave he scooped her up in his arms and carried her to the bedroom. They had not shared a physical relationship for over two years. Whose to say if it was a fitting farewell or not.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chapter Two

The husband and wife were enjoying their life together. It was a challenging life though. They were married and became parents so young. They were still finding themselves. The wife was continuing her education as best she could with a new baby. She wanted to be a teacher. She attended community college at night so that the husband could watch the baby. She made good grades and everyone was happy and healthy. There came a time though when she needed to take classes during the day. Their little girl was about a year old at this time. To help make ends meet the husband took on a second job working at a fast food restaurant at night. There he met a girl who had experience working with children. He was voicing his need for a babysitter for his little girl as his wife went to school and she said she would be happy to meet the whole family and offer her time as a babysitter if needed. The babysitter met the wife and the little girl. It was a great fit. The babysitter was a natural around young children and she seemed so sure of herself. The wife felt she was making a good decision by selecting a competent person to care for her child in the home. Everything seemed to be working out. The babysitter was also attending the same community college as the wife. She wanted to work with young children. Her classes were during the night though. She continued to babysit during the day and work at the fast food restaurant at night as well as take classes at night. Before the babysitter officially started watching the little girl she was working late with the husband one night. By this time they had become good friends. The wife was out of town with the little girl visiting her family miles away. The husband and the babysitter decided to hang out after work. They rented a movie and as they were watching it the husband started to poor his heart out about how dissatisfied he was with his life but he felt obligated to be the supportive husband and father. The babysitter listened to her friend. She knew she should leave. The husband knew what was happening. The babysitter knew there were better ways to provide support to her friend but she felt sorry for him . So, when he leaned forward to kiss her she did not stop him. Nor did she stop him from taking the moment further. One thing led to another and their friendship had entered dangerous ground.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Once Upon a Time....

Chapter One

Once there was a young girl. She had curly blond hair and her parents were very proud of her. She was an only child and she held all of their expectations. She was bright and had a talented voice. It seemed that her musical talent would take her places. As she grew into a young woman her musical interests broadened from just an interest in music to an interest in her young handsome music teacher. Now, the law of the land said that she was too young to explore her feelings but that did not stop her and her mentor from celebrating their new interest in each other. She still held the appearance of innocence while in her parents' presence but her true innocence was given to this first love. It did not last though. It may have been his wife that came between them or that he just moved on after the newness had worn off, who knows. But the girl moved on to other loves and set her eye on a bit of a bad boy. He was not quite what her parents had in mind but maybe it was just a phase. As she finished her schooling and prepared to move on to a local college with a full music scholarship she discovered something surprising. She had just turned 18 years old and she was pregnant. Well, the bad boy that she had been dating did the right thing and proposed marriage on the spot. He even thought her parents would be relieved if maybe he told them he was not her first love and it was not him that totally stole her innocence. That did not quite go over that well. The girl's parents did not want her to marry beneath her at such a young age. They urged her not to continue with the pregnancy. The girl felt in her heart that accepting motherhood was a road she was ready to go down. She married the boy as soon as possible. In order to support his new family to be the boy joined the military and was sent off for training. The girl was now a wife and the boy was a husband. The husband tried his best but while he was separated from his new wife he strayed. He spent intimate moments with a female that he meant while he was in training. He felt his wife would never know so that he was safe from her wrath. He returned to his wife ready to be the supportive husband she needed. Their new home was miles away from their families but this gave them the chance to rely on each other. Soon their bundle of joy arrived. They were now the proud parents of a little girl with her mother's blond curls. The young family was happy and thriving.