Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Wish There Was Two Of Me

There have been many times that I have wished there was two or more of me. One of me to man each child. Another one to do the piles and piles of laundry that have collected in my basement due to sick kids. Another to do the dishes, clean the kitchen, and keep kids in line. Another one of me to cuddle each child. Most importantly, another one of me to sleep! But the truth is there's only one of me and one person can only do so much.

Yesterday was a day I had been looking forward to for awhile: I was going to help out in Harrison's classroom and see his Halloween concert, participate in Max's fall party, take the minis to dinner, and go trick or treating with their little friends. Sick kids changed all of that. I'm not upset that my kids are sick....sick kids this time of year is usual. It was having to choose what to do and which child to support that got to me. Elizabeth is very sick and needed to go back to the doctor, Harrison had his concert, and Max wanted me to pick him up from school. Knowing full well I wasn't going to be able to do all of that an overwhelming feeling crept in: mom guilt.

I hate mom guilt and have really truly only felt it a few times. There have always been times I have felt guilty about the way I handled a situation with one of my kids, but this was a first for me. All three kids had something going on at the same time, all wanting my support, and it left me choosing. Thankfully the kids have wonderful grandparents who pitched in and made themselves available to help me out, but it was still a toughie for me. I wanted to see Harrison in his concert, I wanted to be able to pick Max up, but I truly needed to take Elizabeth to the doctor. I sat down and explained what was going on to each boy and left it at that with them.

All morning I felt an incredible amount of guilt and disappointment for not being able to go to each child's event. Worst of all I feared that the boys would be disappointed and upset with me for not being there and not "sticking with the plan" (this is big thing for my kids, especially for Max). I worried that this would be one of those things that they'd never forget and would throw it in my face.

While my mom guilt seemed to choke me all morning long, it was wiped clean when I picked the boys up from school. Instead of showing any kind of disappointment about the changes in their days, they were concerned about their little sister. I got grilled for information about how she was doing and if she was feeling better. I was appalled by their worry for their baby sister. No matter how guilty I felt, I knew this was not the day I was going to screw them up (I'm quite certain that will come another day). I was relieved to know that I must be doing something right when they are more worried about, concerned, and want to look out for each other rather than themselves.

I know there will be many more of these situations down the road where each child has something going on and I know I won't be able to be there for everything. I know we're lucky to have a fantastic support system ready and willing to help out when needed. Now I know something else too: that I am raising my kids to care about each other and not think only of themselves. I know I'll have the confidence to deal with these situations and have faith in my kids to be as understanding as they were yesterday. I am always amazed at how life has a way of teaching us things and this was just the lesson I needed to remind myself to have a little faith and never underestimate my kids......but I still think it would be helpful to have two of me around.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My House Smells Like Lysol

My children seem to be welcoming cold and flu season in with open arms. So far we've got chest colds, sinus infections, coughs, croup, pneumonia, and ear infections. Yay.....please note my lack of enthusiasm. With young kids around each other daily, eager to share their germs and not much else, the illness spreads pretty quickly. It doesn't really matter how much I wash, clean, disinfect, and whatnot, I know those germs are going to spread regardless, but it's good to know that everything is squeaky clean (besides the kid themselves).

Here are a few things I do to keep the toys and furniture clean. I do these things year round, but it seems especially important during the colder months when airing out the house and sending the kids out to play isn't an option.

  • Have the kids wash their hands CONSTANTLY!! I don't have them use Purell because of the chemicals in it....and with 1-5 year olds, you'd be amazed at how their hands are constantly in their mouths. A good antibacterial soap does wonders on their germy little hands.
  •  Use the dishwasher for plastic toys. Yes, the dishwasher for the thicker plastic toys that don't have batteries (yea, I totally stated that just in case someone tried to put a toy with batteries in the dishwasher and didn't think anything of it. I'm just saying someone might try it....). Little People, toys cars, play food and dishes, plastic balls, Legos, etc. Friday nights/Saturday mornings are perfect to run a large load of toys only and they have plenty of time to air dry. Just make sure there's no holes that water can get in to so mold doesn't grow. This is a perfect way to ensure these toys are properly disinfected and clean.
  •  Wash stuffed animals or dolls. I have a weekly rotation of things I wash: couch pillows, doll blankets, doll clothes, and cloth dolls. The most played with stuffed animals get washed once a week, the others get washed every other week.
  •  Wash curtains. Sounds weird but I wash mine at least twice a month, usually more. If a kid is sick, I wash them instantly. Why? Because you'd be amazed at how often my curtains are used as a tissue or used to wipe their hands and faces.
  • Lysol or other disinfectant spray. Use daily. During the winter months, I use it up to three times a day. Just follow the directions and you don't have to worry about your child ingesting any unwanted chemicals. This is my biggest help in keeping the toys germ free.
  •  Enforce "no biting toys" or "toys away from mouths" rules. Yea, it's a pain in the ass and I feel like I say it a million and one times a day to the kids, but it's the best way to keep germs from spreading.
  •  Wash bedding at least once a week. Daycare bedding gets washed daily, my kids bedding daily if they're sick, otherwise at least once a week.
  •  Up vitamin intake. Along with feeding my kids a well balanced diet, I up their vitamin intake during colder weather when they can't be outside. Mine get 2 daily multivitamins along with an upped offerings of oranges and other fruits and veggies that are packed with vitamins. Sure my kids still get sick, but it helps them fight whatever off quickly.
  •  Anything kid height gets cleaned nightly too-tables, baby gates, windows, the tv screen that's often used as a mirror, shelves, etc. all get cleaned daily. I use cleaners or Clorox wipes on these surfaces. Just be sure to give it time to air dry before little hands come into contact with those surfaces.
I know these sound like no-brainers and I can guarantee this is not a fool proof way to keep your kids from getting sick. These are just a few things I do to keep my home, which welcomes in numerous kids each day (aka numerous germs each day), clean and disinfected. Good luck to all with young ones as we enter the "season of sickness." May there be no horrible illnesses, no sick days taken, and no going broke buying boxes upon boxes of tissues.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Last Weekend In October

We rang in the last few days in October with a three day weekend that started with our Friday Family Fun road trip, a little bit of illness in the middle, and ended with a day of pumpkin carving, soup making, cookie and cake baking, dinner guests, and breathing treatments. As always, we know how to do things up big here:

Bup got her first nebulizer treatment Saturday morning. She was not too happy with it, but it does seem to be helping. We seem to be welcoming in cold and flu season with open arms here.
Now THIS is how to play with Legos!
Matt and I's Saturday evening/night plans got cancelled due to the sick minis. Bummer for us, but new jammies made it an exciting night for the boys. I love how it's the simplest things that make kids happy!
Aunt Cindi came for a visit Sunday morning and gave the kids Halloween goody bags!

Their favorite goody: these glasses!
Bup put all of the flavored tootsies in her stroller and pushed them around! She also sent them down the racetrack and then clapped for herself.
Thing 1 and Thing 2 made themselves a "slumber party" in the middle of the play area in the middle of the afternoon.
Carving pumpkins. The boys have waited for weeks for this!

Arm deep in our big pumpkin.
H with his spider pumpkin. 
Our big pumpkin with the "somewhat scary face" Max requested (Harrison told us "not to make it too scary for me").
Our family pumpkin carver!
We had Matt's parents over for dinner and dessert Sunday evening. They got to partake in our weekly new soup/chili recipe tasting and try out the crock pot chocolate cake. Deliciously rich dinner that we're still full from!
Ending the weekend with kids in bed and baking pumpkin seeds.

All in all not a bad weekend, although I could (always) do without the sick minis. This week is another short week but one that includes a "laid back Monday" with a movie and popcorn, the last of our Halloween crafts, foam stickers, mini Halloween party, and this will be the perfect week to break out the dress up costumes for the kids!

A New Recipe A Day

My challenge for the week was to make, or create in a few cases, a new recipe a day for seven days. It could be a meal, dessert, snack, or drink. After gathering some ideas from Pinterest, this is what I came up with:

Day 1 (Monday): Chicken and cheesy rice in the crock pot. Recipe can be found here:

Day 2 (Tuesday): Frankenstein's Snack-green jello with gummy worms. I wasn't quite sure how the kids would actually like this, but much to my surprise they actually ate it. They kept saying it was "Frankenstein's brain treat."

Day 3 (Wednesday): Breakfast Casserole Bites: Hash browns, eggs, whatever fillings one would want (we used turkey bacon, cheese, and green peppers), and then cooked in muffin tins at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. I made lots and they kept in the refrigerator and heated up nicely. Perfect for the cold mornings this week.

Day 4 (Thursday): Apple nachos. Sliced apples with chocolate syrup, caramel, and marshmallows drizzled lightly over the apples, and topped with chocolate chips. Sweet toppings make these apples even more delicious!

Day 5 (Friday): Coffee Drink. I found a recipe on Pinterest, but since it's not really iced coffee weather, I took the recipe and made it my own. 1 K-cup regular coffee, 1 tbsp. cocoa powder, 1 packet Splenda, dab of Cool Whip on the top. Chocolaty but not as many calories since I used cocoa powder instead of a chocolate syrup. Delightfully caffeinated.

Day 6 (Saturday): Grown up grilled cheese. Recipe found: in my head. Whole grain bread, mozzarella cheese, oregano, and spinach. I bake my grilled cheese (no butter) at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until edges are crisp and cheese is melted. Dip in marina sauce or tomato soup.

Day 7 (Sunday): Potato and bacon soup. Recipe can be found here:  It was a hit with the adults, but the kids didn't love it. Top it with cheddar cheese and not only is it creamy, but cheesy too. Thank goodness for leftovers!

 My family is not too keen on my experiments like this, but I'd say we all benefited from this one!

Week in Review: October 21 - October 24

This was a short "work" week with some short days which means I was still in the groove and being productive at the end of the week! Despite it being a short week, we were extra busy with the boy's school activities, projects, friends, and such. Besides the typical block building, restaurant playing, musical instruments, doll cuddling, and incredible imaginations, here's what the kiddos kept busy with:

Halloween stamps.
Practicing her balancing skills....
The boys built a superhero fort out of the alphabet blocks.

My day wouldn't be complete without at least a dozen one year old tantrums. Here's little Miss E screaming at me (for telling her no) and gently laying herself down on the floor so she can kick, roll around, and scream. When she realizes I'm no longer watching her, she stands up, stomps her feet, yells "mama!" and comes to find me....only to start up her tantrum again. We've already begun the "cooling off" in her crib routine. Things are getting interesting....
Frankenstein's Snack: green jello with gummy worms in it.
Leaf collages.
Pumpkin bowling was a hit!
Dyed rice drying out for the kid's fall sensory bin.
Decorating Halloween cookies. Elizabeth did a great job at using her little "knife" to frost the cookies.
I never tried any, but the kids informed me they were delicious!
Max browsing Amazon for things he wants on his Christmas list.
The finished Christmas list. Max and Harrison wrote this together with ideas for the three of them because "we share all of our toys mom, so we only need one list." Love them and their love for each other.
We took a walk down the street to see the construction work going on in our neighbor's front yard.
The kids colored leaves (drawn and cut out by yours truly).
Halloween color book pages (found in the Dollar Section at Target).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Friday Family Fun Day

The boys had one day off this semester so we decided to take advantage of their extra day. We finally made our way up to Northern Iowa to see the Grotto, take a drive to see the fall colors (which, in Northern Iowa, weren't too spectacular unfortunately) and of course stop for a hike at Ledges on our way home! Such a fantastic, memorable day for the five of us!

The boys playing with superheroes to pass the time on the way up to the Grotto.
"We're here! We're finally here!" said the two boys, followed by "wait? What IS the Grotto exactly?" 

So pretty and amazing.
Elizabeth was a bit confused by this statue of "the boy Jesus." She kept walking up to it, saying "hi, hi, hi" and would walk away confused when it didn't respond.
The Grotto was very pretty and cool to see, but the kids didn't love it. We all really enjoyed the Grotto museum that explained how it was made, rocks and wood that were used to make it, and the history of Fr. Dobberstein who built the Grotto. Max even enjoyed a documentary about it.
Of course they had to play at the park afterwards.
She spent her summer mastering slides and loves them all.
We love this happy, go with the flow girl. She's always happy to tag along on our adventures and rarely complains (even when a nap is missed).
 Nap time in the car on the way home. We also stopped at two Casey's on the way home, which resulted in some sugary treats for the minis.

 Gorgeous views at Ledges State Park.

 The kids were thrilled to hike a new trail. Max says on our next Summer of Fun To Do List, we MUST put to hike all of the trail at Ledges. Looks like we'll have an active summer.

 Harrison tried to slide down the hill we ran up.

 Harrison told us he didn't want to pose for a picture, so he sat on the ground and made this face.
 A very nice gentleman picnicking with his wife came up to us and asked us if we wanted our picture taken. I, of course, jumped at the opportunity because we hardly ever get all of us in a shot. The man explained they had four kids themselves and never got any pictures of all of them together. I loved ending our day experiencing the kindness of strangers and sharing "raising kids" stories. Great day all around!