Saturday, November 29, 2008
Originally, we weren't sure what we were going to do for the holiday. Tim's brother and his wife had invited the whole family over plus some family friends to celebrate Thanksgiving early (last Sunday) since they were going to be away from home on the actual day of Thanksgiving. So we figured that was our holiday celebration with Tim's family. My sister always has her in-laws over and it just gets too crowded, especially with our 4 kids added to the mix. We decided against going there. My mom and step-dad decided to go to San Francisco for the day, rather than spend the holiday with us. What grandparent doesn't want to spend a holiday with their grandchildren?! Enough said.
So it was just going to be the 6 of us here at home....a nice, quiet Thanksgiving. Tim was fine with it. I was okay with it too but I was a little sad that we have family so close to us yet no one was coming over for the holiday. It says a lot about my family. I kept saying to Tim, "I'm just sad that Thanksgiving will be just like any other day for us....me in the kitchen cooking a meal that no one will probably eat and chasing after kids while trying to keep them entertained, changing diapers, cleaning messes....". I'm sure he got tired of hearing it but there was nothing he could really do or say to snap me out of my bad attitude so he would just roll his eyes every time I would start in. I envied all my friends who were getting together with their huge, loving families to celebrate the day.
The one good thing about not having family around was there would be no drama. There's always at least 3 people in my family who aren't talking to other family members and it's awkward and tense. In Tim's family, there's always some kind of needless drama that gets thrown in at the last minute, making everyone dread the holiday.
When we found out that Tim's parents were just planning on staying home, I asked Tim to invite them over. Why not? My MIL and I aren't exactly the best of friends but surely I felt we could both make the best of it for the sake of the kids, who deserved to have a fun, happy Thanksgiving. At the last minute, I got nervous because I wanted to make a really delicious meal that would impress them. I guess I was afraid I would be compared to my SIL, whose meal last Sunday was out of this world.
Thursday came and I had everything in the kitchen ready to go by the time they arrived. I planned on staying in the kitchen most of the time to avoid any possible drama that may happen or any unfriendly, unsolicited comments that might have been said. To my amazement, everything went well. I did stay in the kitchen most of the time chopping, slicing, dicing, arranging and cooking. And my MIL would come in from time to time to offer to help or to have some light conversation with me. My IL's helped so much with the kids, keeping them out of the kitchen and keeping them happy and entertained.
I did the same turkey recipe I did last year (Alton Brown's recipe from Food Network....SO yummy and juicy!) and I made real mashed potatoes (not the powdered kind that my MIL thought would have been easier), real stuffing (not Stovetop), fresh green beans with garlic and bacon, and my FIL made the gravy. It was probably one of the best meals I've ever made. The turkey was just oozing juice everywhere as Tim carved into it. The skin was crisp and a nice shade of brown and the meat turned out perfect. It was so beautiful and I wish now I had taken a picture of it!! Everyone seemed to be impressed, which made me happy, except for Tim who never seems to be generous with his compliments. "So, Tim, what do you think of dinner?"...."it was okay...I didn't like the sausage in the stuffing". Whatever. When he started in with the fact that I was using real bacon in the green beans instead of the fake stuff, his mother finally said, "will you just stop? Your wife is trying to make a nice meal. She's putting in a lot of work...you could say something nice". At this point, I was starting to see her more as my ally and my husband as the enemy.
Needless to say, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving, much to my surprise. For once, I wasn't left in tears after a holiday meal with my family or Tim's family. I can only pray that Christmas turns out as nice!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I watch Kate Gosselin sometimes in complete awe...and sometimes she makes me feel encouraged and reminds me that children are a blessing, no matter how many you have (or how many came to you at one time!!). And sometimes I watch her as she cooks organic meals from scratch for her family (although it's been rumored that she has a personal chef who cooks for the family) and I feel completely inadequate, thinking to myself, "If she can cook organic meals from scratch for her EIGHT children, I should be able to do it for my FOUR children". Personally, I kind of like when she has meltdowns on the show or when she gets mad because one of the kids got paint on their shirt because it makes me realize that she is human. She's not perfect, as much as the tv shows sometimes reflects her to be.
The other night, there was a show on TLC called "Twins, Twins and Sextuplets". It was to air right after Jon and Kate, Plus 8 and I kept thinking it had to be a story about 3 different families. But no....it was about Eric and Betty Hayes who have 2 sets of twins and sextuplets. I can't imagine why I've never heard of them before....apparently, they've been all over the news and on major shows, like Oprah and Good Morning America.
Of course I had to watch it and I was immediately enamored with this family. Not only are all the kids fun-loving and adorable, but the parents have such a great sense of humor. They showed the family just hanging out at home and also running errands, like to the grocery store. They just seemed so....well, normal. Even with 10 kids....3 sets of multiples....they seemed so calm and in control. In the beginning, the mother talks about how she transitioned from having 2 sets of twins to having sextuplets and she said something like, "I just figured we had already done it twice....it really wasn't that bad". She never complained and she was able to make light of her situation, even during the stressful times. Her husband, at one point, said "shoot me" in a joking manner.
What really impressed me is that the father works outside the home while the mother stays home with the 10 kids. Some are in school and she spends that time during the day doing tons of laundry and cleaning...she said it's never ending. She seems very organized and makes it actually look kind of easy. I don't know if she has any outside help but they didn't mention any, except for the volunteers that came over initially and helped with feedings when the sextuplets had just been born.
Now, Kate Gosselin is pretty awesome in her own right but I somehow feel inadequate when comparing myself to her, which I know I shouldn't do. I think most mothers compare themselves to others...it's a way of testing ourselves to make sure we are measuring up, doing the best we can for our kids and not missing out on anything. I had to keep reminding myself that Kate Gosselin has tons of help...someone helping her with laundry, volunteers to help with the kids, someone to travel with them on vacations, and her husband now stays home and helps her because they are reportedly getting paid something like $65,000 per episode.
I guess, in the end, I could identify more with Betty Hayes than Kate Gosselin. Kate always seems to have an attitude, seems to have a "I'm better than you" quality about her. Maybe she's not like that in real life but they certainly portray her that way on the show.
As I watched the Hayes family go grocery shopping, and shoe shopping with all 10 kids, and all the while Betty is quizzing them in the car about what the colors of the traffic lights mean (instead of yelling at them to be quiet), they had earned my respect and admiration. From one fellow mom of multiple multiples to another (even though she outnumbers me by sextuplets...I could NOT even imagine what they must have felt when they found out they were having 6 more kids all at once), Betty Hayes is my new hero!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
"I'm trying...I'm really trying....I may need some help"
When the going gets tough, big brother is quick to the rescue....
Monday, November 17, 2008
So we had skim milk, oat bran, flour, baking powder, eggs (only the whites), pureed butternut squash, sugar, salt, canola oil, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. The Wellbutrin in the medicine bottle in the background is not included in the recipe, though I suspect if I crushed up a few and threw them in, I'd be feeling mighty fine after about 2 muffins.
Oh and two 4-year olds who had obviously started to play with the flour....
After preheating the oven to 400 degrees and spraying some Pam in the muffin pan, we got started. First we mixed all the dry ingredients into one bowl (used half oat bran and half regular white flour....could probably use whole wheat flour instead but I wasn't sure if it would make the texture too heavy) and mixed well, as demonstrated by one of my lovely assistants.
Once all those ingredients are mixed together, we put in the pureed butternut squash. Cole asked, "yuck, what is that stuff?" and I said "it's my secret ingredient...it makes the muffins really sweet". Bella asked, "what's it called?" and I said "it's a secret...that's the whole point of a secret....to not tell anyone". I knew at any mention of squash, they'd run for the hills and even if the muffins did look delicious, they would refuse to touch them so I had to come up with something. When they had questioned me about the ground flaxseed, I explained to them that it's something that helps them grow taller. They were okay with that so I told them that the secret ingredient not only would make the muffins extra sweet but it would also help them grow. They gave me their approval, as I dumped the squash into the bowl of wet ingredients.
Then we mixed the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients. While it smelled heavenly, it looked pretty nasty. This is when Cole pretended to gag over the bowl, as he said, "Hey Bella, watch this...." and then he pointed to the contents of the bowl and said "I puked...hahahaha". Nice. Boys will be boys.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
This morning, I started off by finally sorting, folding and putting away the 5-6 loads of laundry I finished washing/drying last night. It took 2 hours. I wish I was kidding but I'm not. Then this afternoon, Tim took the kids to his parents' house. Most
Then of course the cabinet shelf where I had my spices was now empty so I decided to organize all my cookbooks and recipes I've collected over the years....then that lead to another empty cabinet shelf. So I moved some of the paper products we use every once in while to that shelf (because it was overflowing in the cabinet where they had been, leaving me to have to dig out my crockpot everytime I want to use it). And this continued for at least 2 hours....the more I'd clean and organize, the more I wanted to keep going. I ended up going through our entire pantry, cleaning it out and organizing.
I gasped when I started pulling out things that had been buried in the very back of the cabinets....things from 2003 that had been opened and then forgotten about. Who on earth still has food from 2003 in their pantry???!!! Oh, it gets better....I discovered that we have a rotisserie cooker!! When did I get that thing? I have no idea....it was buried behind a bunch of junk in the bottom of the pantry. I may have used it once I think....can't remember. My memories have been clouded over.....by having 4 kids. I also found a juicer, which was a wedding present from one of Tim's high school buddies. I know it was a wedding present (from 2002) because it still had some wrapping paper on it, with the friend's name written on it by me in preparation for sending out thank-you notes....and it had never been used....or opened, for that matter.
So now my kitchen pantry looks like this:
And the beauty of it is now I know exactly what we have so I don't need to keep buying cans of pinto beans, thinking we don't have any....or oatmeal. Who needs 5 boxes of oatmeal, for crying out loud?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
I soon figured out that a bunch of the moms and kids had met there for a playgroup because there were about 8 moms huddled together, literally in a tight circle, as if to say to others, "don't even think about joining our little clique because we're tighter than tight".
I was standing in front of the play structure, watching my kids play. Cole and Bella had found a friend to play with, a little boy also named Cole who is at the park frequently. Everyone was happily playing when Bella ran over to the swings and wanted me to push her. Garrett and Landon were on the play structure but I felt they'd be fine if I took my eyes off them for just a second to give her a good push to get her started on the swings. And of course, just as I took my eyes off of them, that's when Garrett fell and got stuck on one of the bars so he was maybe 2-3 feet from the ground, if that. He didn't cry but he did scream out to me..."ma...uh....uh....ma" and I ran over to him as quickly as I could but not before one of "those" moms could reach him. She was nice enough to help him get down since she happened to be standing closer to him than I was .
I smiled at her, somewhat embarrassed, and said "thank you for helping him....he has no fear....he thinks he can climb higher than he really can". I suppose I expected her to smile or chuckle along with me and say "Oh I know...my kids are the same way" or "No problem...I'm just glad I could get there quickly enough to help him" . But no....the look on her face was one of total judgement. She had a scowl on her face and said, "you should probably keep a closer eye on him then". I was completely taken aback by this...I mean, it's not like I was far away, not watching him for a lengthy period of time. I was literally a few feet away pushing my daughter on the swing. I fully intended to walk back over to him within a few seconds after giving Bella a push. It's just as I turned my back to walk over to her, that's when he decided to test the waters.
I decided to keep my mouth shut at that point. I didn't owe her any explanations and she obviously wasn't very forgiving. While I did appreciate her being so closeby and being willing to get to Garrett before I could, I didn't appreciate her snotty, rude attitude about it.
I have 4 kids, all very energetic and all very independent at times....sometimes one of them will run off as I'm attending to another one. It happens...but none of them have ever been hit by a car, none of them have been kidnapped, none of them have ever been injured (not seriously anyway). I was offended by her comment....I mean, even if she thought I was a horrible mom, she could've used a nicer tone.
What I don't understand is why some mothers are like this...why do they sit in judgement of other mothers, without having a full understanding of the situation? We all have different situations, we all come from different backgrounds but we're all mothers, who love our children and want nothing but the best for our children, including to always be safe. There have been many times I've been at the park and I've seen another child fall or get sand in their eyes and maybe the mother either didn't see it happen or wasn't close enough to get to the child immediately, so I would help the child until the mother could come over. It's always been appreciated and usually it ends up turning into a lengthy conversation with just another mom, who's also feeling overwhelmed and split up into a million directions.
After all, aren't we supposed to be a sisterhood? Aren't we supposed to have each other's backs? If anyone can understand the ups and downs and the challenges of being a mother, it's another mother, right? We should be lifting each other up, encouraging and supporting one another, even if we're perfect strangers. Not sitting in judgement of one another or being critical....oh, sure there's a such thing as constructive criticism....but downright snotty, rude, judgemental attitudes? What's up with that?
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I happened to be wearing a plain white-t-shirt, blue Nike sweatpants, and a powder-blue light sweatshirt zipped up over the t-shirt. I'm being very detailed here because it was very important to her that she match me exactly! I managed to find something in her closet that was close enough...she was thrilled beyond words and all day long, she kept saying, "Mommy, we're twins".
Today, she came into my room and said, "I want to wear what you're wearing". I had on a red long-sleeved shirt with a white tanktop underneath, jeans, and white tennis shoes. So off we went into her room to find her the same exact oufit. Only she wanted to wear her new black shoes and I was more comfy in tennis shoes so she battled with me on this..."But Mommy, we have to look alike or we won't be twins". She also insisted on wearing her hair like mine, which I had partly pulled back in a barrette. Her hair is very thin and out of control so she had to settle for a ponytail. She also gave up the fight on the shoes and settled on her black shoes and ALLOWED me to continue wearing my tennis shoes. Although while we were at the dr's office today, a man in the elevator pointed out that we were dressed alike except for our shoes. She shot me one of those looks and said to the guy, "I told her to wear black shoes but she wouldn't...she just won't listen to me" and she sighed and crossed her arms over her chest. The guy laughed and as he walked off the elevator, he said to me, "You've got your hands full with this one"....yeah, I know.
While we were playing in the backyard today, I had my camera out so I could get some videos of the kids going down the slide, mainly Garrett who goes so fast down it that he literally flies off the slide at the bottom, landing on his butt. Bella asked Cole to get some pics of us because "we're dressed like twins".
Monday, November 10, 2008
And, as it turned out, towards the end of my pregnancy, I was sent to the hospital quite a bit by my OB after appts or after non-stress tests (which actually caused me to have more stress). Each time, I'd call Tim and ask him if he had the list so he could bring me my stuff. And each time, he'd say "no, you didn't give me a list". I'd say, "Oh yes I certainly did....I handed it to you and said for you to put it in a safe place". He'd just sigh and say "well, I don't remember having it...so what do you want me to bring you?". As if I'm supposed to remember all 20 things off the top of my head during a very stressful time?? So I'd sputter off some things I could remember and inevitably he'd bring maybe 4 or 5 things (sometimes one of the things wasn't even anything I had requested). I remember calling him one morning after staying overnight in the hospital and screaming at him, "Do you know how hard it was for me to sleep last night without my beloved pillow....without having any chapstick for my extremely dry lips....are you sure you can't remember where you put the list?". Again, he'd swear I never gave him any such list.
So now I have proof....such a list did exist and he had placed it in the mini-van somewhere so well-hidden that even HE didn't remember where it was. I happened to find the damn list 22 months later. It must have ended up on the floor of the car when one of the kids was rummaging through either the glove compartment or the driver's console. I laughed to myself when I saw the list, thinking how much more comfortable and happy I would've been if he had remembered the list. Things like chapstick, my pillow, hairbrush, dental floss, toothbrush and toothpaste, nail clippers, magazines, crossword puzzles, my laptop, anti-persperant, tweezers and a mirror (I have no idea why I put that, except I must have figured that tweezing my eyebrows would kill some time while on bedrest), my cellphone charger and hair scrunchies. I also put the camera and the video camera on the list so we'd have it there ready to go should I be whisked off suddenly to deliver our surprise miracle twins.
Each time I was in the hospital, I was put on bedrest. Not allowed to get up, unless I had to use the bathroom, which was to be a very quick trip. And on a couple occasions, they took away my bathroom privileges and I was treated to using a little porta-potty next to my bed. But I guess that beats having a catheter shoved up into my bladder....I was saving that fun experience for the absolute last thing right before my c-section.
The same thing happened when I was pregnant with Cole and Bella. I actually had a bag packed...well, semi-packed...with a list IN THE BAG of the other things Tim was supposed to pack and bring to the hospital. Again, I was admitted to the hospital after a routine visit and I never got that bag delivered to me. Everyday he'd visit and slap his forehead and say "Oh I forgot the bag". Then they finally released me after a week and I said to myself, "I'm gonna pack that damn bag myself and put it in the car"....but after being home for 7 hours, my water broke and I could hardly think straight, let alone remember to pack the rest of the bag and bring it with me. I called the hospital to let them know we would be coming right back and the nurse said, "okay, calm down...you probably have some time to pack your bag and take a shower if you'd like" but I was convinced that my babies were gonna suffocate without any amniotic fluid or that I would suddenly dilate and they'd fall out of me while in the shower and I'd be on one of those Discovery Health Channel specials called "Women who Delivered their own Babies...in the Shower". We did remember the camera....I'm not sure how we remembered to bring that but we did. Good thing too, because I ended up having a c-section 4 hours later.
After being in the hospital for at least 24 hours before I had Garrett and Landon 6 weeks early, the doctors kept going back and forth on whether to keep me or release me. The nurse finally told Tim he probably had enough time to go home and get something to eat, PACK MY BAG (I had been fortunate enough that he had delivered a few things to me during the 24 hours I had been there, including my magazines and a canister of nuts...huh? why nuts? I have no idea), and then come back. During this time, the dr came back in, after reviewing the blood flow study that had just been done by an u/s tech, and said "we have to get these babies out as soon as possible...", as it turned out that Garrett (Baby A)'s umbilical cord appeared to have some problems and the dr wasn't sure if his blood and oxygen supply were being compromised and for how long it had been, if that were the case. So of course I'm freaking out....crying....trying to hold it together....and Tim isn't there. All because he hadn't remembered MY FREAKIN HOSPITAL BAG. He barely made it back to the hospital, camera in hand...and that was it, nothing else. No freakin chapstick STILL.
Garrett and Landon were delivered and thankfully, even though they were 6 weeks early, they were okay, especially Garrett. At that point, I didn't give a rat's ass about the hospital bag. I mean, who really cares about chapstick and hairbrushes when my insides have just been torn open, having had 2 human beings ripped out from my uterus, and my boobs are aching but I can't get the least bit of breastmilk to come out?? And I couldn't cough or bend over without feeling like my insides would explode out of my body through my incision, which the nurse ensured me would never happen in a million years....yeah, apparently she's never watched those DHC specials because I'll bet my life on it that someone in this world has done that.
In closing, I now have proof that I was prepared....that I did write that hospital bag list and I must have given it to Tim and he put it in the mini-van and totally forgot about it. Someday, I'll forgive him, for forgetting about the list...yet, being thoughtful enough to bring me a can of nuts. Because doesn't every woman want a can of nuts to munch on while on hospital bedrest??
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thankfully, her pediatrician was also a dermatologist and he gave us his home number for emergencies....there were plenty. He met us at his office many, many nights and even spent Christmas day 2004 away from his family for a few hours to help us stop the bleeding that had started in the middle of the night, which we could no longer control on our own.
The worst part was that the ulcer was so incredibly painful for her that she would cry endlessly, which would reduce us to tears just seeing her in so much pain. We tried every topical cream we could think of to help with the pain and even dosed her up on tylenol with codeine at certain points to help manage the pain. She endured painful steroid injections, laser treatments and cauterizations....we sought several professional opinions as well.
At this point, we were more concerned with the profuse bleeding than anything else. There were times we were frightened that she'd bleed to the death right there in our kitchen, as we tried desperately to control it. We had to find a way to get that under control and our doctor had tried just about everything he could think of.
Along with this, we used Regranex...another miracle drug (in our eyes), which was typically used to heal ulcers on diabetic patients. Between these two things, we were able to get things back under control and we were finally starting to see some healing.
Even though it was healing, it was still in horrible shape and we weren't sure what the outcome would be. We met him in person while he was here in Northern CA and once he took a look at her arm and saw how well it was healing, he advised us to just let nature take its course. He said it would continue to heal but she would probably be left with extensive scarring and plastic surgery would be a more realistic option at that point, around the age of 4-5.
Once there was sufficient skin to cover the scar, he would cut the scar out and pull the new skin forward over where the scar had been. He said it would be a lengthy process, with risks, of course. She's never been under anesthesia so we're not sure how she'd react.
At her age, his concern was how she would deal with the expanders. She wouldn't be allowed to engage in certain activities that might pose a risk of interfering with them...and of course the process is not very comfortable.
He did say that the extra saggy skin that she has in the crook of her elbow could easily be removed and that's what he would suggest. I asked him about skin grafting from another part of her body and he didn't feel that was any better of an option.
I asked, "Does it bother you that your right arm doesn't look like your left arm?" and what she said brought tears to my eyes...."No, it doesn't bother me...I think it's pretty and I like it. I want to keep my scar. It makes me special".
It brought me back to a time awhile ago when some kids wouldn't play with her at the park, saying her arm was "ugly". She had cried. And that's when I had told her that her arm is what makes her extra special and that is where she had been kissed by an angel before she was sent to us. I was so happy that she had remembered that and, most importantly, believed that....she felt special because of it and it's a part of her and she wants to keep it.
Obviously, it's not bothering her as much as I thought it might have been...and if she wants to keep this part of her, then who am I to argue with her. Maybe in a few years, if it is bothering her, we can pursue reconstructive surgery at that time. It'll be her decision.
And in the meantime, all I can do is keep encouraging her positive attitude....I'm beyond thrilled that when she looks in the mirror, she likes what she sees.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
They actually have him lifted off the ground, which cracked me up. He thought it was all fun and games until they kept picking him up repeatedly and squeezing him between the two of them. Awww, good times....
I had parent/teacher conferences with Cole and Bella's preschool teacher on Wednesday. Seems like they are both on target with where they should be for 4 year olds. I was impressed with how well they're both writing their names now compared to back in August when they started there. The teacher also showed me their self-portraits...one done in August and one done last month...and there was also a huge difference. Cole now has a face and legs while Bella is just a big circle with legs.
The one thing the teacher did say Cole needs to work on is his confidence level, which didn't surprise me. We often hear from him "I can't" or "I don't know how" and as much as we encourage him to try, he'll either refuse or just start crying. Maybe he's a perfectionist and he's afraid of making a mistake....or maybe he doesn't have enough confidence in himself to even want to try. So we talked about ways we could boost his self-esteem and his confidence level in trying new things. Overall, I was happy to hear they're both doing really well and the teacher feels they'll be more than ready for kindergarten come next fall. Yikes...kindergarten already??!!
Yesterday, I had a developmental assessment for Garrett (Landon will have his next week). The hospital where they were born follows premature babies through the first 2 years of life to make sure they are developing on track and to line up services, should they need it. The nurse who did the assessment was one of the nurses who had taken care of Garrett and Landon when they were born and she was amazed at how much he'd grown. I was amazed with how well Garrett did during the assessment. Not at his behavior so much because he was pissy as usual...making angry faces when he wasn't happy about something and having major attitude problems if he didn't like something he was asked to do. But I was amazed at how well he completed some of the activities she had him do, like doing shapes puzzles...he actually put the squares where the squares go and the circles where the circles go. Then she had him do this thing where he had to put little pegs into holes and he did them over and over without any problem. He also pointed out pictures to her in a book when she asked where certain things were. This is when I had my "aha" moment and realized that all my reading to him wasn't in vain. He was absorbing every little thing even if he didn't act like it when I "quizzed" him. He was also very good at problem solving, which surprised me because at this young age, you just don't expect that. For instance, the nurse asked him to put 10 little square pieces into a coffee mug. As he was doing it, the nurse said to me, "this is always an interesting one because most kids aren't able to do it but it's interesting to watch them try it and see how they problem solve". Garrett sat for a good 5 minutes (which is long in toddler-time) trying to figure out how to get all 10 of those squares in the mug. And he never got frustrated...he tried several different ways and then finally he just started stacking the cubes on top of each other to get them all "in" the mug. Needless to say, the nurse and I just sat there in staring at this....it was so much fun to watch him figure things out. He's a smart little booger....high-maintenance, whiny and head-strong but definitely very smart. At the end of the testing, the nurse said the only thing he's behind on his expressive language, which I knew. We have a speech evalation next week for both him and Landon. It'll be interesting to see how Landon does with his developmental assessment next week.
So back to the food...boy, I sure did get off on a rampage about Tim's eating habits....on Sunday morning, I told the kids that I'd make them french toast. Their little eyes bugged out and they asked, "but Mommy, do you know how to make french toast?"....this is when I had to explain that Mommy has been very lazy about feeding them healthier foods and that as I popped kids out of my body, left and right, I got lazier and lazier and suddenly it seemed that the most convenient thing to do, esp on busy weekday mornings, was to reach for the frozen french toast and slap that on their plates. This excuse may have worked well for me when they were toddlers and the little twins had just been born and I was so freakin sleep deprived and overtaken by PPD that they were lucky they even got fed, even if it was crap, but now there's just no excuse...I need to make time to make healthier meals for my children.
For the french toast, I used whole grain bread (which Tim told me would be absolutely horrible for french toast...as if he's Emeril Lagasse?) and instead of using all whole eggs, I used only 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites, mixed in a little fat-free milk, a splash of vanilla and a couple dashes of cinnamon and got started. Bella wanted to help and I figured if she helped, maybe she'd be more into eating something different. It smelled really good while they were cooking so I hoped they'd taste as yummy as they smelled. So.....the little twins wouldn't touch them but Cole and Bella loved them. In fact, they each asked for another piece!!! Which then posed another problem for me....they shouldn't really be having seconds on the french toast. I offered them more fruit but they both turned that down. Okay, so yet another hurdle to get over but I'm making progress....
Then came for the revamp of the chicken nuggets. The dino nuggets had been used up the other day and so I had nothing to fall back on. I found a recipe online for baked chicken nuggets and it looked pretty good. I mean, how can you screw up chicken nuggets?? Well, I guess if anyone can, it would be me. But these actually turned out super yummy....so yummy in fact that Tim raved about them and said "hey, when you make these next time, you should cut some into long strips so we can have them on sandwiches". Cole and Bella asked if they could have some for lunch tomorrow but I had only made a small amount just in case they didn't like them, which would leave me on the hunt for another recipe. I told them I'd take some time in the next few days to make a huge batch of chicken nuggets and french toast to freeze so we could have them on hand, ready to go.
I also revamped the meatballs I make with spagetti. I'm using ground turkey and instead of putting bread crumbs in, I use rolled oats. And I also throw in some grated carrot and zucchini, along with the other typical meatball ingredients. Instead of using regular spagetti, I switched to whole grain spagetti. Yet another successful meal....the kids loved it and actually requested the leftover meatballs for lunch the next day. No more ground beef for anything anymore....I'm using all ground turkey for my meatloafs, meatballs, in place of italian sausage in some of my other recipes. And no one seems to be the wiser. No more shake-n-bake on the chicken....I started using Panko crumbs, which actually tastes better and seems lighter in taste.
My biggest challenge has been switching to fat-free things, esp dairy. They do eat fat-free yogurt but the cheese is gonna be a hard switch. Same with ranch dressing, which they sometimes like to dip their veggies in. Bella actually doesn't mind the fat-free dressing but Cole won't touch it. And I can't say I blame them....after being so used to eating the light versions of these things, the fat-free items taste horrible. It's a work in progress....
So far, so good....I think it's the little changes here and there that will make a huge difference. Just cutting out the frozen chicken nuggets and the frozen french toast, substituting ground beef with ground turkey, throwing extra veggies into things like meatloaf, meatballs and soups, and going with fat-free versions of some of the light items they've been eating, as well as sprinkling ground flaxseed into a lot of the things I've been making, should pay off. Also, cutting out the bedtime glass of milk with a light snack should make a difference too.
We're supposed to go back in 2 months to have Bella's cholesterol checked again and I'm praying we see a significant drop in her numbers. We'll be meeting with a nutrionist next week, who will monitor her weight and give me some suggestions and feedback on other changes we can make. I feel like we're headed in the right direction and it's been much easier than I anticipated!!
Edited to Add: Some people have asked me to post the recipe for the chicken nuggets....here it is with a couple revisions....Baked Chicken Nuggets:
I made some changes based on the reviews. To cut down on the fat, instead of using butter to dip the chicken in, you can use low-fat buttermilk. I didn't have any on hand so I used 1 cup skim milk with 2-3 tsp of white vinegar mixed in (essentially buttermilk after you let it sit for a few minutes). I didn't have any stale whole grain bread to make breadcrumbs with so I just used store-bought breadcrumbs. I didn't add any additional salt like the recipe calls for because I figured between the parmesan cheese and the bread crumbs, it would have enough of a salty taste. To kick up the protein and fiber, I added some ground flaxseed and oat bran to the bread crumb mixture (no one will even notice!). After the chicken nuggets are coated, put them on any type of cooking rack (like a cooling rack or a broiling rack so they are not laying flat on the baking sheet), and then put them on a foiled-line baking sheet. This will allow the nuggets to get nice and crisp....don't worry about turning them over. If you cook them on the rack, they will get crisp all over. I cooked them like the recipe said for about 15-20 minutes and then I broiled them for about 5 minutes to get them browned.
You can serve them with any kind of dipping sauce. They are yummy! My kids have been asking for these everyday for lunch since I discovered this recipe!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
So here I was stuck indoors with 4 extremely energetic kids...what to do, what to do. Well, first we made Jello Jigglers, which are actually quite gross if you ask me. I used to love Jello when I was younger but now the stuff just makes me feel sick. Figured that was the wrong choice of snack when Cole ate some of the jigglers and then started running around the room as if he were the Tazmanian Devil.....on crack. That'll teach me to stray from our usual carrots with yogurt dip.
Then we played a question/answer game where the kids would all stand at the top of the stairs and answer various questions I would ask them....well, Cole and Bella, anyway. The little twins just stood on the stairs, giggling the whole time as if I were the best stand-up comedian ever (guess the Jello jigglers hit them a little hard too). Whoever called out the right answer first, got to move down one step....until they got to the bottom of the stairs and that person was the winner. And I agreed to sing "We Are The Champions" for the winner and/or the Rocky theme, depending on which one the winner chose. Good God, the things I do to entertain my children.
They answered questions like "what did we have for dinner last night?", "what's Mommy's first name?", "who drops off presents for you if you've been good at Christmas time?", "what does the Easter bunny leave for you on Easter?", and "Who is God's son?"....they actually did really well. And they had fun with it...that's most important, that THEY had fun! Even if I did sound like a complete idiot singing the Rocky theme. Somewhere in my head, I could hear Simon Cowell saying, "that was just dreadful...absolutely horrible...don't quit your day job".
I was getting tired by this point and I looked at the clock and....I could NOT believe my eyes....only 15 minutes had passed!! Huh?? That 15 minutes felt like an hour. I was so sure I'd look at the clock and it would be 5:15 pm and I'd hear Tim's key in the door, ready to rescue me so I could make dinner without 4 kids hanging on my legs. Darn it....what was I supposed to do then??
I said, "Hey, let's play hide and go seek"....okay, cool, they were into it! I explained to them that Mommy would stand in the corner of the family room with my eyes shut and count to 10 very loudly. When I got to 10, I'd start looking for them. So off they went while I counted. By the time I got to 10 and said "ready or not, here I come", the house was silent. Not a peep, not a giggle, not a footstep...and I thought "what am I....high?? I'm gonna sit down for a few minutes and let them think I'm looking for them". So I sat down in the rocking chair and said things like "oh wow, you guys did such a good job hiding...I can't find you anywhere....where are my kids??" while I flipped through the People magazine I got 2 weeks ago....Madonna and Guy are divorcing?! Where have I been? Oh yeah, entertaining my kids. I'm so out of the loop on what all the celebs are up to these days. Finally, after 6 minutes, I think the kids were getting antsy so I actually did search for them and I found them all hiding in the coat closet in the living room.
They giggled at the thought of outsmarting me. Cole said, "Mommy, it took you forever to find us...we're good, huh". Oh yes, son, you're awesome at hide and seek...now go hide again so Mommy can pour herself a tall, chilled glass of wine while she "looks" for you all. So off they went to hide and I counted and then sat my butt down again, flipped through my magazine some more and decided against the wine and drank some apple juice instead. I figured I might actually fall asleep and forget about them completely if I had some wine.
We did this a couple more times and then finally Bella suggested "Mommy, why don't you hide and we'll look for you?"....oh great, now where was my down time??!! Being the evil mother that I am, while they had their little hands over their unsuspecting eyes as they counted, I grabbed my People magazine, went upstairs and sat in my shower. I figured they'd never look there and I'd still be able to hear them to make sure they were safe (and not leaving the house!) I actually got to read most of my magazine before I heard Cole come into my room for the 5th time and say "Okay, Mommy, we give up...where are you?" and I popped out from the shower and Cole and Bella screamed...."aaaagggghhhh, you scared us".
Cole said, "Wow, Mommy, you're really good at this game"....yes, son, I am, and thank you for noticing. Last night, after the kids were in bed, I came online to look at the weather report, praying that there will be rain again tomorrow. Rainy days aren't so bad after all....
Monday, November 3, 2008
My biggest challenge with Cole and Bella remains the same....getting them to do the things I want them to do without having to nag. And I'm not talking about difficult, impossible things for a 4 yr old to do, like wash the family car by themselves or mow the lawn. I'm talking about things that are expected of any child, like using good manners, communicating appropriately with one another, bringing me their dishes after they're done with a meal, cleaning up their toys without having to be asked, etc. I've done them a huge disservice by always doing some of those things for them, like cleaning up their toys because I can do it faster and I'm tired of fighting with them about it. They find every excuse in the book to avoid helping or doing something they should be doing...."but Cole's not helping", "I didn't make that mess, someone else did", "my leg hurts so I need to rest", "but it's Thursday" (I have no idea how they think that even comes close to qualifying as a valid excuse....I counter back with "well, God made Sunday as a day of rest, not Thursday, so please go pick your toys up").
I was reading one of these parenting magazines a few weeks ago and one mom shared an idea she was using with her children to encourage more positive behaviors...a sticker chart! But she called it a happy chart or something like that. Her child would earn 1 happy point (in the form of a sticker) for every time she did something positive. Once her child had 20 happy points (20 stickers) on the chart, she would take her child to the store to pick out a small toy. And she also solved the "I want's" by telling her child everytime she was in a store and said "I want that", the mother would say "once you have 20 points, we'll come back and get that". That's the other problem I have with Cole and Bella...their sense of entitlement. They want everything they see and they want it now. It gets so tiring....
So I decided to borrow this woman's idea because it just seemed so clever....well, and not having to fight with the kids over every little thing was enticing too. I told them about my plan and they were all for it. We sat down and made our happy charts...they both got to pick out which color they wanted for their chart and they got to color it and write their name on it. Bella decided she wanted Princess stickers to use for her points and Cole wanted Spiderman stickers.
From that point on, every time I saw them doing something positive, I told them they had just earned a happy point. After awhile, they were finally starting to get the idea....they were totally buying it! And what was even greater was I didn't have to nag anymore....if they didn't do what I asked the first time, I'd just say "it's too bad you don't want to clean your toys up because this would be a wonderful opportunity for you to earn another happy point". I almost died of shock the other day when that worked!!
Now I'm hearing things like, "Mommy, can I please have some more ketchup? Did you notice I used my manners? Do I get a happy point for that?" or "Mommy, I'm bringing my dishes to the sink...can I have a happy point?"
But there are still some things we need to work on, like Bella sleeping in her own bed at night, instead of climbing into our bed and getting them to stop fighting like cats and dogs. That's the ONE thing I really wish would've/could've been resolved with this system. I know siblings fight but these two go at it every minute of the day. And most of it's silly things...."Cole's sitting on my part of the sofa" (I didn't realize we had assigned seating on the sofas), "Bella's looking at me" (perhaps if I blind-folded her that would prevent this problem), "Cole's breathing again" (when Bella complained about this to me, I asked her "and your problem with him breathing is....?", she replied, "I just don't like it when he breathes"....oh, okay, well, let's put on time-out for breathing then).
Oh well, we'll do this in baby steps I suppose. I must be appreciative of the things they've accomplished so far using this Happy Points system. They are being more helpful and using manners, even if it isn't with one another. I wonder if this system would work with Tim....how would a grown man respond to getting Happy Points for putting his own clothes in the laundry basket and not on the floor, putting his dishes in the sink, and not leaving his stuff all over the house for me to pick up?? And what on earth would I give him as a reward for earning 20 Happy Points? I have a feeling he and I would be on entirely different pages in answering that question. Maybe he'd settle for me cooking his favorite dinner of baby back ribs and corn on the cob....that's got to be as good as sex, right?
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Now, if you were in danger and in desperate need of being rescued, wouldn't you want those two to come to your rescue??
As for Garrett and Landon, I totally underestimated them. Landon is usually our happy-go-luck, always-smiling baby. Garrett is usually our high maintenance Mama's boy. They were polar opposites last night. Garrett went as Superman and Landon was Batman. Garrett had a blast...he loved his costume! Landon freaked out the whole time and refused to even let me get a picture of him. I didn't get a pic of all 4 of them posing nicely in their costumes...total bummer....maybe next year? At some point, Tim snuck Landon off into the kitchen and stood him up on the counter and he managed to get a pic of him with his cell phone.
An unmasked Batman....but doesn't he just look SO cute??
It was funny to watch him because, at first, he just didn't get the whole trick-or-treat concept. The person would throw some candy into his bucket and he'd look at it, grab it and then give it back to the person! I kept trying to put the candy back in his bucket but he would freak out so we just kept letting him give the candy back. After awhile, I think it started to sink in, this whole concept of "free candy that I get to keep", even though he doesn't even like candy, he started to reach into the treat bowls being offered by people who opened their doors and put the candy in his bucket. But then he wanted to plop himself down right there on the spot and pull the candy back out of the bucket and examine it. Each time I tried to get him to stand back up again and move on, he would freak out in pure toddler fashion....screaming, stomping his feet, giving me the "evil eye". This whole time Landon just sat in the stroller, completely comfortable with letting Cole take his bucket up to every door while Cole said "can I please have some candy for my lazy brother?" But I guess he got tired of sitting on his behind in the stroller while everyone else had a good time and he managed to walk up to a few houses on his own.
At one point, it started to rain and we started to head back home but then it stopped raining and the kids wanted to continue going around. Even Garrett, who by now was into the whole trick-or-treating concept full swing. He was even starting to run up to the doors before Cole and Bella could get there!
The other thing about Garrett that was so funny was that every time someone would say to him, "Who are you supposed to be?", he'd throw his hand over the "S" on his costume and say "uh, uh, uh"....I'd translate for him, "I'm Superman and aren't I just about the cutest Superman you've ever seen?"
Here are some more pictures:
I love this pic of Cole and Garrett walking together. They both look like such big boys!
I was so proud of all of them at this house. Each of them took a box of raisins instead of candy, without any prodding or coaxing from me!! The lady was very impressed that they chose a healthy snack over junk!