"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Build A Force Field

By Evan
Age 6 1/2

1. Get a Special Jacket. One that's built for catching lightning. You might have to build it yourself.

2. Wait for a thunder and lightning storm.

3. Use your Jet Pack to fly to where the lightning is shocking the ground.

4. Catch the lightning in the bowl. Oh, you need a bowl that's built for catching lightning, too.

5. Once you've collected all the lightning you need, take it back to your lair.

6. Mix it with red food coloring.

7. Pour it into a generator.

8. Wait five weeks.

9. There's your Force Field!

10. Use a remote control to control your force field so it lets only the good guys in and keeps the bad guys out. It can protect everything important, like the jewel room, the White House, and other important stuff.

"I've got big plans tomorrow, Mom."

Uh, oh.

Lesson Learned:
So red food coloring is actually intended to be used in the creation of a force field. Who knew?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Changing Perspective

Sam went away this weekend. For less than 24 hours....but for all 22 hours that he was gone, it rained. And so, needless to say, when he got home, I headed out for a little Me Time. First I spent too much money on a cup of coffee (but, even as I took my last sip, it was still hot, so it was worth every penny). And then I spent too much money on party and craft supplies for Max's upcoming Princess and Heroes Birthday Party (but the look on his face when I got home and unloaded the goods for him to peruse made them worth every penny).

And then.....behold! I went to the grocery store. ALONE.

Mommies, you get it. My options were: take two kids on one of Max's days off of school or use up one of my Molly and Mommy Days while Max was at school. I guess there was technically one other option...The Nuclear Option: The Take All Three Kids Grocery Shopping AFTER SCHOOL option.

It, obviously, wasn't even a choice.

And so, I wandered the aisles of the grocery store far from home....the one near the university, that I don't usually go to but that has the right kind of yogurt and milk for my high-maintenance dairy-free, soy-limited, nut-free, need-more-fat-and-protein skinny minnies. And while I wandered, I sipped my coffee, read labels, compared prices and protein-contents, and felt totally Peaceful.

And then I saw them. The group of four ridiculously cute and perky college roommates. They were all huddled around a cart that contained, roughly, six things. One of them held a list. The one pushing the cart said to the others, "So, is that everything?" Two nodded, one--the one holding the list, dramatically put her head in her hands and said, "I don't even know. Let's just go. This place is Like. So. Overwhelming."

I, clearly, just about laugh-snorted my Grande Vanilla Latte all over the sweet potatoes.

Overwhelming? Grocery shopping with your three (adult) besties, is overwhelming?

Oh, if only I had had my three little (not adult) besties with me today. I could have just loaned them to her for a few minutes.

They could have just given her a little glimpse into her potential future...the crying, the whining, the excessive touching of each other and things on shelves, the walking too slow, the walking too fast, the hanging onto the cart, the "I want to ride in the cart"s, the "I want to get out of the cart"s, the "I need to use the potty NOW!"s, and the, roughly, 76 "Mommy Can We Get"s per child. (Unless your baby is preverbal, then she will point to the box of Elmo crackers, say "Dis!" and point to herself repeatedly and with increasing insistence until you finally "understand" what she's been trying to tell you and just throw the damn Elmo crackers in your cart.)

Overwhelming?

How is she going to handle mid-terms?

Lesson Learned:
Ah, perspective. You live and learn...and then you look back and realize that, what seemed like a big deal at the time, was a walk in the park.

I shudder to think what I'll be doing when taking three kids under the age of 7 to the grocery store seems like a breeze.....

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Juice Cleansing for Beginners

A few months ago, my brother officially launched his new juice company, The Juice Laundry. We've been drinking raw, organic, cold-pressed juices ever since and LOVING them. Max is a big fan of the red pepper/pineapple juice while Molly is a fiend for the beet/carrot/cucumber blend. (Evan prefers his juices "one at a time," as in "apple," which surprises no one.)

I'm not a big drinker; I mean I am in terms of cracking that beer open just about every time 5pm comes around, but I'm not in that it never occurs to me to pour myself a cup of anything other than coffee. I rarely drink a cup of water....I know, I know....but I honestly rarely feel thirsty. It's genetic.

ANYway. Despite the fact that I'm not a drinker, I have found myself reaching for these juices not only because they're so good for me (two pounds of organic produce in every bottle!!) but also because they're so amazingly delicious. Who knew?

Well, apparently, a lot of people. "Juicing" has become something of a big deal among the health-conscious types, and my brother's company has really taken off in his town in just the few months his juice has been on the market. A lot of people enjoy the juices by the bottle, as we've been doing, but most of my brother's customers purchase the Juice Cleanse...where for 1-3 days, they only consume a carefully designed menu of six juices and one cashew milk each day. It's to purify and detoxify your body. To clean your machine. Get it? The Juice Laundry?!

I have been toying with the idea of doing my own beginner's cleanse for awhile now, but didn't want to do it while nursing for some reason. Yesterday was my day...and Sam's, too. We opted for the "Gentle Wash," because the juices in this category are a bit more palatable for those of us unaccustomed to drinking straight vegetable juices. For example, the green juice in the gentle wash consists of kale, spinach, cucumber, grapefruit, and apple, whereas the heavy green is kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, parsley, apple, ginger, and lemon. You can't go wrong with either....the gentle green is just a touch sweeter, a good place to start.

I started the day with a total cheat. While cleansing, you're not supposed to drink coffee. While cleansing, you're also not supposed to be up at 4am with a sleep-striking toddler. So I cheated. Instead of my usual cream and pinch of sugar, though, I used a few tablespoons of the cashew milk. Oh, mama. This is good. I hated to waste a bit of my cashew milk dessert on breakfast (it's so decadent and delicious I knew it would be a welcome sweet treat at the end of my cleanse) but it was worth it.


Juice #1 was the Gentle Green, which I sipped at 9:30 while unpacking groceries as Molly slept in her crib. (Hooray for my first baby who can be transferred, asleep, from car to crib!! No more sitting in a running car in my driveway playing Candy Crush! Who am I kidding, I still do that first.)


Juice #2 was one of my all-time favorites, the cucumber/grapefruit/pineapple blend. Super refreshing and light. Molly loves it, too. She demanded a sip. And then 'moh' sips. I, obviously, couldn't resist this face.


I drank the red-pepper/pineapple juice while the kiddos ate lunch...and then....I cheated. Again. Only this time, it was a total accident. Several times already that morning, I had caught myself before tossing a random...whatever was left over on a plate or tray...into my mouth for absolutely no reason other than the fact that the last waffle bite, strawberry slice, or cheese spaceship cracker, was headed either there or into the trash. Reduce!

So I drained the bottle of juice and started to clear the lunch plates. I picked up Max's last turkey sandwich triangle, as I often do, as my lunches, like most mamas', are made up of odds and ends of other peoples' lunches....and I ate it. I felt guilty. I also realized how much mindless eating I do during the day...especially when I caught myself, immediately after the lunch blunder, reaching into my secret chocolate stash at the top of the pantry. (Don't tell Sam about it....he's worse than I am.) I stopped myself in time.

During Quiet Time, I typically fire up the Keurig for a little mid-afternoon boost to get me through the rest of the day. But, coincidentally?, I didn't need it yesterday. Was the cleanse already giving me extra energy and clarity? Perhaps. After we rested, the littlest two and I went to the bus stop with MY Gentle Green juice in hand. Only, as is always the case when there's one of something and you're telling the littles that it's for YOU, not THEM, Max and Molly wanted to share. And, because that juice is LOADED with goodness, I was happy to oblige. They both loved it. I did, too, what of it they allowed me to have, that is.

I was planning on bringing my spicy lemonade to Evan's gymnastics class after school, but forgot it. Because of that, I ended up drinking it over dinner, while Sam enjoyed the next juice...the beet blend. It's one of my other favorites, but after guzzling the spicy lemonade, I couldn't drink more juice. And because I ended my day at 9pm (see: sleep-striking toddler, 4am wake-up), I ended up skipping it in favor of my protein-dense decadent cashew milk. It really is dessert in a bottle, but one that does your body good. 

I had done it. My first Juice Cleanse. And with only one cheat and one slip-up....which I'm SURE would have been avoided if I hadn't been the one making meals and snacks for people five different times during it... 

Lesson Learned:
Do it! Do your body good! Clean your machine! Next time I'm going for two days. No slip-ups. 
(But I still might do my coffee cheat....)

Monday, September 2, 2013

blooming confidences

On Max's third day of school, I picked up a Missing Mommy Kiddo. He was happy to go to school that morning, and said goodbye to Molly and me with a kiss and a smile. When I arrived at noon, however, his teacher said that he had gotten a little sad about twenty minutes before. He perked up for the end-of-day singing and dancing (his second favorite part of school, only behind playing dress-up. That boy can rock a Snow White dress.), but as soon as our eyes met, his lower lip started wavering and I barely caught him in time before he melted into me.

We had a quiet, lovey afternoon and didn't talk much about school. The next morning, he clasped his hands below his chin and said, "Hooray!! It's TUESDAY! That means it's NOT a school day!" And my heart cracked just a little bit. Max's school is perfect for him. It's calm and quiet and inspiring. It's musical and imaginative and artistic. It's friendly and warm and inviting. It is safe. It is happy. He knows his teacher well. His best little buddy is in his class. After his first two days of school, he was a non-stop motor-mouth about every last detail of his classroom, his new friends, and his activities of the days. I know he's happy there....so why doesn't he?

Tuesday night I made a special bag for Max. In a small, drawstring pouch I tucked a family photo, his beloved flyer from the upcoming Disney Princesses on Ice show, a Love Stone, a pipe-cleaner shaped into a heart, and his Sofia the First Amulet.

In the morning, as he ate his waffles and didn't once mention that Wednesday is a school day, I showed him the pouch...but not it's contents. "If you feel sad or lonely at school today, Max, ask Mrs. W if you can sit in a quiet spot somewhere and look through this pouch. The surprises inside will make you smile, and they'll remind you that Molly and I will be there to pick you up soon...before lunch time!"

He cast his eyes down to his plate. He sighed a heavy, sad sigh. He slumped his shoulders. He stuck out his shaky lower lip.

"Oh, baby. I think you're going to be so happy at school today. Don't spend your morning feeling sad about school."

"I'm not feeling sad about school," he started. "It's just that I'm not going to feel sad ever at school today. And I won't feel lonely and I won't miss you. So that means I'm never going to get to see what's in that pouch."

?

Um? Okaaaaaaaaaayyy.

So I handed him the pouch to peek in over breakfast....and sure enough....no tears at school that day!

In fact, when I got to school to pick him up, he was smiling broadly....and holding his Amulet. Apparently, after I had kissed him goodbye that morning, he opened his pouch to show his friends. One of his friends had spied the necklace and had wished to wear it. Her mom told me the story as we greeted our happy kiddos: "Oh, C had so wanted to get that Amulet! She probably wanted to wear it all morning!" Our teacher, Mrs. W spoke up, "Oh! She did wear it!" C smiled shyly and I looked to Max...who was beaming. "I shared!" he exclaimed as he threw his hands in the air dropping the pouch, spilling it's contents, and losing his balance.

Oh, that Maxwell.

Not a tear since. And he's bringing with him a million happy stories to share with me as we walk home each afternoon.

Did you catch that? Yes...we walk to preschool. We live in Mayberry.

And my almost-4 year old is Happy Happy Happy.

***

Evan is amazing.

I can't even to begin to describe the growth in his confidence in the past year. He's a total school pro now...already. The school bus is a breeze, he's up, dressed, and ready to start his day right at six... (I wouldn't mind if he caught a little extra sleep in the morning, but I've finally come to accept the fact that my children were born with some crazy gene mutation that causes them to need very little sleep. Molly has finally started "sleeping in" until about 4:45am.) ...and Evan, too, is Happy.

On Friday he brought home a sheet titled "A Peek at My Week." In the first section, he was to write "Something that went well this week." Below, "Something I'm still working on." I'm not sure if I ever wrote much about it last year, but Art class was always difficult for him. He struggled with the fine motor requirements, he struggled with the time constraints, he struggled with the sensory aspects of some of the projects, etc. I heard about Art a lot from him, and it was never positive. And there were other issues with the class, too, but mostly, he just felt like he stunk at it...and that, well...stinks.

Imagine my surprise when, on the top line of his Peek sheet, I saw that he had written "ART." I asked him about it...."So tell me what went well in Art class this week, buddy." "All of it," he replied, "We had to draw monsters by listening to Ms. M describe a monster and mine turned out really cool. I mean, like, probably the coolest one at my table! Or even in the whole class! Well, maybe just my table."

And he beamed. And my heart swelled...and I read on..."Something I'm still working on...making new friends." And I asked..."Is there anyone in particular you'd like to become better friends with?" And an immediate response...."Yup. A. She's nice and she's my friend but we never play together yet because she's always off playing with some other kids. But maybe someday!"

That's the spirit, kiddo!

And, as luck would have it...that someday was today. A moved into our neighborhood over the summer. We had met her family briefly, but the kids hadn't played together. As our family hung out on our back patio this afternoon...the little ones busy with play-dough, me washing windows....Evan said, "A's daddy and brother are outside. Maybe she'll come out, too." "Maybe," I said, "Or you could go and ask her dad if she can come out to play."

He thought about it for awhile....like, an hour.

And then..."Daddy? Will you go with me to ask if she can play?"

And so they went. Sam ended up doing most of the talking, but ultimately, A came running out... "EVAN!" she yelled, as they both broke into the wide smiles of long-lost buddies. And they spent the next hour running around the house, tossing the football, digging in the garden, acting silly.....like old friends. And when she hugged him as she was leaving, Evan didn't hug her back...but he didn't pretend to fall asleep, either! Progress!

Lesson Learned:
They're both changing and growing right before my eyes. If I blink, I'll miss it.....so I guess it's just as well that we're no longer sleeping.....