Thursday, May 27, 2010
I'm leaving on Saturday to spend a few days visiting with my sister in Oregon. Next week she is graduating with her bachelor's degree in nursing, and since she has come to so many of our graduations it is fun to finally get to go to hers.
This week has been the end of a busy month for my bank account and my budget was not doing so well. So I've been trying to just use what I have instead of going to the grocery store; I used to be really good at this, but I've gotten in the habit of shopping frequently instead. It's been a challenge this week to work with what I've got instead of running to the store for that 'one thing' (it always turns into ten things). But I'm proud to say that I did it and have saved some money. Tomorrow I'm going to Costco and get a pizza for Little Dude's birthday and I'm trying to decide if I should get a few things for Mr. Fob and the kids so they don't starve over the weekend. Or I might just let him do some grocery shopping if he decides he needs something. It's not like we don't have food in the house--it's just not as 'fun' as other food there is out there.
We did finally get an insurance plan that covers the whole family, but it's pretty basic and won't do us much good except in major cases. The copay for an office visit is 35 dollars, and after taking Little Dude last week for his ear and then both the baby and Little Dude in for checkups today I just want to die. I'll be glad when my kids are all a little bigger and the medical expenses can calm down a bit.Thankfully we don't have to pay to have any more babies.
I was surprised today at the doctor's office to find out that the baby only weighs twelve-and-a-half pounds; it's only one pound more than she did two months ago. Especially since she gained four pounds in the first two months. However, my pediatrician felt that it was a not unreasonable pattern for a breastfed baby, especially since she is sleeping all night now. She still has cute chubby cheeks and dimply elbows, plus she's bright eyed and happy, so I'll try not to worry too much about my milk supply or her health. Little Dude is also still 'little', weighing in at 33 pounds. When I went back and looked at my records it turns out that he is the exact same height and weight as S-Boogie when she was four. My kids are just small and slow growing.
Little Dude will be four tomorrow; it's fun when kids get old enough to be excited about their birthdays. I'm hoping we can all have a fun day together. He's had a hard year and I wish I could help him be a little less anxious about life. Tomorrow is also an exciting day for him because it is S-Boogie's last day of school, and he has been waiting for months for her to be free to play with him all day, every day. I can tell sometimes she just wants some alone time, but she's usually willing to play with him. I'm so glad my kids love each other so much right now.
For the last two days the kids have spent the afternoon making mud in the backyard. While I fully support creative childhood endeavors like this, I have to confess that the resulting mess does try my patience a bit. Their clothes and bodies are generally completely caked in dirt by the time they are done. I just remind myself that it's good, healthy fun and that none of their clothes are really that important. It would be nice to have a newer washing machine that could handle the mess better.
This has been a long post and I don't know how to end it. I think I will always spend the night before each of my kids' birthdays remembering when they were born. It's weird to be able to remember life 'before' and 'after'. Especially since Little Dude's birth was early and unexpected. I still can't believe it's been four years since then and I'm grateful to be able to look back and see growth in my emotional well-being and my abilities as a mother. Looking back also reminds me of what there is ahead and I look forward to the next years of his life as well.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Then we looked out the window and saw the massive snowstorm that had already covered our new garden in at least a half inch of snow. It didn't let up for almost two hours; I had to go knock the snow off our trees that were bending to the ground. We'll have to evaluate our tomato plants tomorrow to see if any survived. Then, as I was getting out of the shower at 9 our power went off. According to the nice guy at Utah Power it would be fixed sometime in the afternoon. So we hauled ourselves off to S-Boogie's school to attend her end-of-the-year program (my mother-in-law had spent the night in order to come with us). There was supposed to be a family picnic in the park afterwards, but the snow forced us to sit around the desks in the classroom to eat our lunch. Mr. Fob didn't want to eat anything, and Little Dude refused to eat his food in sympathy or something. He had also spent all of his sister's program whining about how much he didn't want to be there. And my camera battery died so I have no record of their cute singing performance. When we got home at noon the power still wasn't back on. I went out to take my mother-in-law home and felt bitter about the fact that many places were untouched by snow.
When I got home the power still was out (this was almost 2 o'clock), but then it switched on just in time for the arrival of friends. Sadly neither Mr. Fob nor I were in a very entertaining mood and I feel bad that their visit wasn't all that exciting. The kids were also feeling particularly obnoxious and clingy at that point as well. Thankfully in the evening the sun came out, the baby took a real nap in her crib, and I was able to make dinner. Little Dude was horrible during family home evening and we finally sent him to bed early. He came out to use the bathroom and flushed half a package of toddler wipes down our toilet and Mr. Fob and I decided that we were finished with him for the day. Little Dude didn't protest bed and fell asleep immediately so I think he was just having a hard day due to being over-tired and still a little sick from last week's ear infection.
Oh, and I checked my professional email (the one that isn't FoxyJ) for the first time in a few days and found a new freelance project waiting for me. It needs to be done by Wednesday and I just started it tonight. And of course one of the files that I need won't open. I think that's a sign that I should just go to bed and hope tomorrow is a better day.
Friday, May 21, 2010
This week I've been riding the ups and downs of parenthood as usual. Some days I think 'wow, I really feel like things are going well; I know what I'm doing; I love my life right now.' And then S-Boogie tells me her stomach hurts, and instead of doing anything about it I shoo her back to bed with a dismissal of her complaint. And then she wakes up two hours later covered in vomit. I spent the next day washing just about everything in her room. Sometimes we miss our cues and make mistakes, but that just means we have to try again. I'm the kind of person who wants things to be the same all the time. I want to know what my script is and I want to be able to follow the directions sure of what the outcome will be. I keep trying to find some sort of formula: A+B=life is perfect.
Instead, I'm learning to go with the flow and to accept the fact that things are always changing. I think for me right now my personal metaphor is sailing. I'm in charge of the boat, but I'm also at the mercy of the wind and must work with it. Some days we're sailing along and others we are becalmed and stuck. But the wind will always change and I just need to be ready for it when it does.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Ghana: We colored the flag and read a few books about Ghana as well as several storybooks. The kids especially loved this one and we read it many times. For dinner I made jolof rice with shrimp (I sort of followed this recipe and didn't add other meats besides shrimp) and some avocado with peanut dressing. They were both pretty tasty. We also made some banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for a treat; not totally Ghanian, but they do eat a lot of bananas there.
Greece: We colored the flag and read a few books, including this adaptation of a myth. I've made Greek food several times before; for dinner we had chicken in pitas with cucumber sauce, rice pilaf, and salad (like from this post). I also tried making baklava for the first time; although it took time to make, it actually wasn't as complicated as I feared and turned out to be very tasty.
Guatemala: We colored the flag and read some books about the country, including this sweet story. For dinner I cooked some spicy beef in the crockpot (I mostly used this recipe, cooking all the sauce ingredients on the stove and blending them first--it was awesome). Then we listened to marimba music and made some corn tortillas together. The kids loved making tortillas, and even though I didn't think they turned out that well, it was the highlight of the week. They still keep asking to make tortillas. We also had a good discussion about poverty and other issues after looking at some of the books and talking about the size of people's homes and what they had to eat.
Haiti: This country gave us another opportunity to talk a bit about poverty; we read a few books about Haiti and colored the flag. I also got a few storybooks, including this one that I really liked. For dinner I made the beans and rice recipe from this page (without ham) and some pickled vegetables. I wasn't sure I'd like the pickles, but they were really tasty with the beans and rice--vinegary and spicy at the same time.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
S-Boogie has just two weeks of school left before summer vacation. After growing up in California it still is strange to me that school ends before Memorial Day. And it feels strange to have a child who is beginning second grade next year. Naturally I've been trying to figure out what we're going to do this summer. This is the first time in about five years that we won't be moving or having some other sort of upheaval during the summer. That part of it is nice. The sudden transition to having both children home all the time is not so nice.
We will definitely be participating in the library's summer reading program, and they often give out coupons as prizes so we will be able to do some fun things with those. This summer I will also have S-Boogie only count books that she has read herself. Her reading still isn't really great (she mostly just uses sight words or guesses), and I think the best thing is to get lots of practice. We live close to a swimming pool, but I'm not sure we're going to go very much this year because it wouldn't be very safe for me to take the baby and the kids. She's not quite big enough to really get in the pool and the older two need more supervision than I give while holding a baby. I did sign the kids up for swim lessons the last two weeks of June and hopefully we can go swimming as a family a few times. Next summer will be even better for family pool time. We will also plan one day a week, at least, to walk over to the park. Playing in the backyard is fun but it's nice to change things up now and then. Besides the Bean Museum at BYU, is there anything else in Utah County that's free (or relatively cheap) and fun for kids?
I'm thinking about having some sort of loose schedule or routine every day, including a bit of time for working on school review stuff. I don't want it to be annoying to the kids, but they're both young enough to still be excited about homework and we have a lot of resources on hand. My mom has given us several different workbooks, plus I have a large collection of uncompleted assignments that S-Boogie brought home from school. I'm also thinking of teaching them a little bit of basic piano and reading music, since I'm still trying to find money for piano lessons and a teacher for them.
I never did follow up on the TV question; thanks to everyone for all the advice. I have to admit that we'd never get rid of our TV since we love watching movies, but we don't have cable and so that really limits our options of what we can watch. Since TV is such an important thing for S-Boogie I've decided to use it as a motivator for the kids. They can earn TV time by reading and use up to an hour a day to watch. If it gets to be a problem then we just won't have television at all. I'm hoping that we will have enough fun stuff to do that it won't be such an issue. So far the kids spend a lot of time just playing in the large dirt pile in the corner of our back yard. Hopefully between the dirt pile, library books, and homemade snacks we will make it through the summer with our budget and our sanity intact.
Monday, May 10, 2010
--Baby P seems to be settling into a decent daytime routine and often takes a fairly lengthy morning nap as well as an afternoon one. Last week she had a bit of a cold and was grouchy, but during the last few days she seems to be feeling better. I've also noticed that she is starting to actually play with the toys on her little baby gym.
--I've been making bread for us during the last few weeks and it's been nice to have home-made bread on hand. Another blog I read suggested cutting the entire loaf up with an electric knife and storing it in the freezer. I don't know why I hadn't thought of that before. The electric knife is fast and cuts thin slices, and having it all cut at once is so much more convenient. Today I made whole-wheat bread and the kids were so excited to eat it with dinner.
--I've also discovered that if I start whatever parts of dinner I can earlier in the day while the baby is napping, the evening rush is not so hectic. Mr. Fob doesn't end work until 6 and we like to get the kids to bed by 7:30, so dinner and bedtime are usually kind of crazy.
--The kids love playing outside in the backyard almost every day and I love watching them having a great time with mud, rocks, and sticks.
--My visiting teacher has two girls, one that is a year older than S-Boogie and one a year younger; they invited her over for a playdate today and had a great time together. I'm so glad that she is making some good friends in our neighborhood. Now I just need to get more playdates for Little Dude.
--We played Go Fish as part of our Family Home Evening tonight with our set of Hawaiian fish cards. Little Dude sounded out most of the names of the fish on the cards--he is definitely a reader now!
--For our treat I made some panna cotta with blackberry sauce. I had some buttermilk and blackberries in the fridge and it seemed like the perfect recipe. It was easy to make and the kids loved it. Glad to have another healthy treat in my repertoire.
--Today I got an email with the instructions for my first work project. I signed on to do some contract work for the company Mr. Fob works for. It won't be very regular hours or anything, but the projects look interesting and I should be able to work them into my schedule and earn a little cash while keeping my brain in shape.
--This week should be the last cold weather of the season and I am so anxious to move on to warmer weather. I hate the hot part of the summer, but I'm looking forward to warm, sunny days for the next few weeks.
Friday, May 07, 2010
I thought the title of this book and the cover both seemed a bit hokey, but it had been recommended to me by several different people so I thought I'd give it a try. While I didn't agree with everything in the book and I don't think all the tips would work with children (and they weren't intended to--that's just who I spend most of the day with), I did glean some useful ideas from it and have been trying to use some of them in my life.
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
This was our book club pick this month, and while I've read it once before I didn't remember much from the last time (about ten years ago). This time I found that I didn't like it as much; the second half of the book is all courtroom drama, and that can really drag. I also felt like the author was trying to make a statement about home birth by depicting the most extreme situation possible. We did have a good discussion about it and it's a fairly easy read, so I would still recommend it for book clubs.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
I liked this book quite a lot, but I think I would have liked it even more if I had not read it so soon after finishing The Surrendered. Like that book, it also feels a bit too much like it's trying to be a Great Novel, with all kinds of Important Issues thrown in. Thankfully it is still an enjoyable read and has fascinating characters and beautiful writing.
Black Hawk Down by Mark BowdenI've been hearing about this book for years, so when I saw it on my parents' shelf I decided to give it a try. As a history/nonfiction book it is really well-written and compelling. If you're not used to reading military reporting, though, it can be a bit dry; the first part took me a while to get into and there are a lot of people to keep track of, but in the end I liked it and felt like I learned a lot about a part of our history that I didn't know much of about before.
I didn't want to like this book because the title sounded just a little too twee and because it is an epistolary novel. I was worried it would just be too cute and annoying. Thankfully it really wasn't and I enjoyed it a lot. The author did a great job creating the different characters through their writing styles and I thought the plot was engaging. I just wish it had a different title.
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley MerrymanI could write a really long post just about this book. It's a fairly quick read and deceptively simple in the writing (only half the book is the actual text, the other half is notes and references). If you like Freakonomics, then this is good book for you. The authors go through and look at recent research studies about children and discuss their implications for parenting. A few years ago I blogged about an article they published on praise; the rest of the book is similar to the article and gave me a lot to think about. And made me feel good for being so strict about my kids getting enough sleep.
The New Kings of Nonfiction ed. Ira GlassI agree with other critics of this book on two points: there is a serious lack of female voices and many of the essays barely qualify as 'new', having been published up to twenty years ago. I still enjoyed reading many of the essays and would recommend the book for anyone looking for good nonfiction writing.
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
For some reason I keep reading books about World War Two this year; it seems to be the backdrop of choice for so many contemporary novels. This is no surprise considering its impact on the twentieth-century. This novel focused on the Russian experience in the war, and I thought those flashback sections were the most interesting. The present-day story seemed to mostly be filled with cliches and melodramatic writing.
Alma by H.B. Moore
After reading Moore's Abinadi a few months ago I was excited for this book. I think it's a good follow-up and the writing is just as impressive. I didn't find myself as captivated by the story, however; I think that's due to the fact that this book is more concerned with physical action than spiritual growth. I liked the subtle characterizations in her first book and the descriptions of change, but in this book the characters felt more stereotypically 'good' and 'evil'.
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
The plot of this book is very typical of YA books: a girl who comes from a loving family with a fabulous boyfriend and great friends undergoes a horrific tragedy. However, the writing really elevates it above many similar books and, despite the fact that it was a quick read I find myself thinking about it several weeks after reading it.
The God of Animals by Aryn Kyle
This is another coming-of-age novel, narrated by a twelve-year-old girl who grows up on a horse farm in Colorado. The main lesson she seems to learn is that the world is a cruel place and people will disappoint you. I thought the writing was beautiful, but the action of the book was a little too sad and harsh for me.
Love Chains by Margaret Young
I went to the library to check out Young's novel Salvador but decided to get a short story collection instead. I actually think the introduction to this collection was my favorite part. I did like most of the stories, but I particularly liked the introduction and its discussion of the impact of literature on our faith.
Counting the Cost by Liz Adair
I'm not usually a big romance reader, but had heard about this book from several sources after it was nominated for a Whitney Award (and won). For some reason, I had a hard time starting it. I actually put it down after a few chapters and came back to it after reading a few books in between. After a while it got better and I really enjoyed it. Although my grandparents lived in a different part of the country, they married during the same time period and I often thought of them while reading this book. I didn't really like the end, but I know the author was basing her work on family history and so I suppose it was closer to real life than the sort of ending I wanted from a book like this.
Monday, May 03, 2010
On Saturday we had hopes of sleeping in, but our lovely children decided to get up around 7:00. We let them watch TV for a bit while we ignored them. Then we all had breakfast together and spent some time cleaning the house. After that I decided to go get my hair cut since it had been a few months. As I was preparing to leave, our mail carrier stopped by with a package from my mom that included some birthday funds, so I took that with me to the mall and stopped at a few places besides the hair salon. Then I got to spend the afternoon alone in the house with the baby while Mr. Fob took the kids out to run errands and pick up his mom so she could watch the kids that evening. We took the baby with us to go up to Bountiful to visit some friends and play games together. I got to open my present from Mr. Fob: Settlers of Catan. That was exciting because we love the game and I've been wanting to get it for a while. On the way to our friends' house we also stopped for dinner at Zupas. And no, even though it was my birthday present I didn't win the game. Maybe next time.
Yesterday, my actual birthday, was more low-key. We dragged ourselves out of bed and got the kids ready for church. My mother-in-law had spent the night and she came with me. Even with the extra help, church yesterday was not one of our better experiences. The baby was cranky and not very sleepy and Little Dude was really acting up in sacrament meeting. After we came home I took a nap and then we just hung out in the afternoon while Mr. Fob cooked up a feast for dinner. He made twice-baked potatoes, salmon, and rolls. One of his sisters came by in the early afternoon and then his other one came a little later, so we got to spend several hours just hanging out and enjoying some family time. The kids loved having cousins to play with and the baby got lots of time being held by her fan club. I got several fun kitchen items from my wish list as well as some candy (and yes, I did get some new underwear too). The only thing I would have liked this year would have been the rest of my family at the party. Oh, and some warm, sunny weather would have been nice too. Snow in May was not on my wish list.