What did you learn today?

A typical afternoon around here usually looks like this…

The boys get off the bus and come bounding down the hill to the house.  They barely make it through the door before they begin dropping coats and back packs and then head straight for the snack of the afternoon.  I barely get a “hey Mom” as they scarf down the food, climb onto the counter to grab a cup from the cabinet that is too high for them to reach from the ground, which they will then fill with water or milk of which they will spill half onto the floor on their way from the kitchen to the table where they throw open their books and make a half-hearted attempt to do their homework while discussing which fun activity will take place first when they are finished.

Somewhere in there I usually throw in a “Hi there!  How was school today?”.  With crumbs flying left and right and a back-handed wipe to the corner of their mouths to remove the dribbling milk, they spit out a “good”.   I make an attempt at getting a little information with the pretty basic “So, what did you do today?” and everyday, without fail, the answer is always the same and in unison…”nothing”.

Nothing?!  Really??!  What I want to say is “You left the house a little over seven hours ago and nothing at all interesting has happened to you in that time?” but instead I say, “Hmmm, did you learn anything new?” and again, in unison, they reply “no”. 

I think to myself…how is this possible?  I know the American public education system could use some work but we live in a pretty good school district and I’ve met their teachers, they seem like well-educated folks that could probably muster an interesting fact every once in a while.  How is it that neither of my children can come up with one new thing they’ve learned in school on any given day of the week?

This is something that has gotten under my skin since my oldest started school a few years ago.  I’ve tried all sorts of different ways to extract information and on a few occasions I’ve actually gotten the goods but, way more often than not, I get the standard “no, nothing” answers…until yesterday.

Diane Sawyer

Image by asterix611 via Flickr

I watched an interview with Diane Sawyer (on the new OWN network – yes, I’m embarrassed to say but we can talk about that another time) and she talked about someone she knew at one time who said that he never asked his kids the standard “How was school today” questions, instead he asked them “Did you ask any good questions in school today?” 

WOW!  What an awesome question.  I had my very own Oprah A-ha moment.  I couldn’t wait to give it a try when the kids got off the bus yesterday.  So, as I heard the squeal of the bus’ tires and the sounds of the boys chasing each other down the hill, I readied myself by the snack cabinet in the kitchen.  Here’s what happened…

The boys busted through the front door and almost knocked me down as they dropped their coats, shoes and bags.  I think I actually did one of those cartoon spins in a cloud of dust when they ran by to grab their snack.  Then I said “Hi boys, how was your day?” to which they responded “good.”  Then I asked the new question I had learned just a little while before…

“So…did you ask any good questions in school today?” 

SCREEEECH!

“Huh?” asks my oldest, a 4th grader, with a granola bar hanging half out of his mouth.  I repeated my question “Did you ask any good questions in school today?”  He looked to be very thrown off by this new dialogue but then it seemed as if he actually began thinking of an answer.  “Ummmm…yea, I did.”

Ok, I must tread lightly here.  I appear to have him sniffing at the bait but I don’t want to scare him off so, very nonchalantly, I say “Really, what did you ask?”  Then he proceeded to spend the next ten minutes telling me about the STEM fair, what it’s all about, what he is thinking of doing and the question he asked, which was “Should our experiments be about something that would be useful in real life?”.

AMAZING!  Not the question, although I did think it was a pretty good one, but that I had actually spent a pretty good chunk of time finding out about his day at school, I didn’t have to dig and dig to get an answer and he was happy to be telling me all about it. 

The real test was going to be my 1st grader.  He is a man of few words unless it has something to do with the Army or Star Wars.  So, I tried my question on him.  He looked at me and said “Yup, I asked if we could use markers on that.” I did a little probing and found out that “that” was a writing assignment they were working on in class and that the answer was, indeed, yes, they could use markers on “that”.

I was completely amazed that this new question was working so well but I was not entirely convinced.  It was only one day after all.  So, I gave it a try again today during dinner.  The whole family was gathered around the table enjoying their home-made chicken noodle soup and I did it, I just threw it out there… “So, did you ask any great questions in school today?”.  My husband looked at me with one eyebrow raised, wondering what I was up to.  I hadn’t mentioned to him the conversations from the day before or the Diane Sawyer interview I had seen.

No sooner did I have the question out of my mouth before my younger son said, “Can I go first?”  then my oldest said “Oooohhh, I want to go first, mine was really good.”

Was this for real?  Were my boys now actually fighting over which one of them was going to tell us about their day?

We settled the who will go first dilemma and then heard all about both of their questions, why they were asked, what the answers were and anything else they wanted to tell us.  It was fantastic and I have decided that I will continue to ask them the same question everyday and hope that they remain as excited to share with me the questions as I will be to hear all about them.  And who knows, maybe this will encourage them to think about and ask some really great questions in school.

Thanks Diane Sawyer…it looks like I asked a really great question today!

3D Character and Question Mark

Image by 姒儿喵喵 via Flickr

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Thank you to the village

It has been waaaayyyy too long since my last post.  There have been deadlines to meet, carpets to clean, drapes to wash, sporting, scouting and school events to attend, etc.  It seems like life is swallowing me up sometimes.  People say to me all the time…”Jen, I don’t know how you get it all done.”

The truth is…I don’t really (check my closets and under the kids’ beds!) but what I do get done has a lot to do with the amount of help we get from my family.   

Dad & Little Bird

My dad and his "little bird"

The proverbial “They” say that “it takes a village to raise a family” and in our case, that is so very true.  Just in the past week alone my mother came to stay with us for a couple of days to keep an eye on little ones so I could clean the carpets.  Then my father came along with us to a scouting event in order to keep an eye on his “little bird”, as he likes to call her, so that my husband and I could volunteer at the event.  Yesterday, my sister came to babysit so that I could go to school for my oldest son’s parent visitation day and tomorrow my mom will be here again so that I can do the same for our middle son.

Mom & our baby girl

My mom and her favorite granddaughter

It amazes me all the time that we have such wonderful family members that are willing to take time out of their busy schedules in order to help us!  I honestly have no idea how other people do it. 

My sister playing with the boys.

I hope I remember to tell them thank you every time but just in case…Thank you!  The five of us are so thankful to have you in our lives!

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The hidden lessons of Halloween

I know I am a couple of days late with this post but, what can I say, I’ve been a little busy. 

Like the rest of the world, (ok, so maybe not the entire world), my family and I celebrated Halloween this past weekend with the traditional costume and trick-or-treating ritual. 

It is interesting to see how much a simple ritual can teach you when you aren’t looking.  For example, this was our daughter’s first trick-or-treating experiment.  I pulled out the first Halloween costume I ever made, a skunk costume originally worn by child #1.   She looked absolutely adorable!

Then there was the trick-or-treating training session, led by my mother.  It went a little like this…knock on table, teach her to say “Trick-or-treat”, put a candy corn in her pumpkin and then encourage her to say “Thank you”.   It didn’t take long, only a few rounds, for her to get the idea.  It is essentially Pavlov’s dog, really.  I could see her wheels turning “Hey…I say words, I get candy and they clap for me…Let’s do that again.”   Excellent…the littlest one was ready to go.

Lesson learned:

Work hard and you will be rewarded.

~~~~

Next came the  middle child.  He has done this a few times before so he knows all of the basics and again, like Pavlov’s dog, knows that there will be candy at the end of the tunnel.  That is the ultimate goal after all.  His challenge is deciding which costume to wear.  Will  he be an army guy , a Star Wars Clone, astronaut or something all together different.  He wanted to choose them all but he ultimately had to make a decision and live with it.

Lesson learned: 

There will always be many choices in life but you just have to go with what you feel is the best choice and then live with the consequences of your actions.

~~~~

Then there was my oldest.  He wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to be but it had to be scary.  He realizes that there is candy involved which is cool but there is also the joy of celebrating with your friends and chasing the cool neighbor of a friend who likes to hang out in the bushes with a chainsaw (sans blade, of course) in order to scare the pants off of the local trick-or-treaters and their unsuspecting parents.  The candy has really become a by-product of the social aspect of the holiday for him.

Lesson learned:

The companionship of good friends and a loving family will always outweigh the material “sweet things” in life.

~~~~

Lastly, would be my husband and I.  All we really wanted to do was curl up, watch a movie and get some sleep but we love our kids and have sweet memories of emptying bags of loot onto the living room floor and stuffing our faces full of as much candy as our parents would allow.  We had to afford our wonderful children the same opportunity, right?  So we put on our costumes (well, at least I did – my husband went as himself) and headed out to the party.  Don’t get me wrong, there were good friends, food and fun but I have to say that I would not be getting into the holiday spirit as much as I do if it weren’t for my children.

Lesson learned:

Don’t sit back and let life pass you by, get out there and enjoy it! If your actions can help to improve the lives of others along the way, then all the better.

Who knew that there were so many hidden lessons to be learned on Halloween.  What did you learn this year?

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Child Abuse or Parenting Genius?

Saturday was a looooong, busy day and by Sunday evening, after church, playing football with the boys, helping with two school projects and all of the regular activities that happen around here, my husband and I were exhausted!  In all of the chaos of the day, we had forgotten to take something out of the freezer for dinner and, to be honest, we were just too tired to make anything anyway.  We tossed around the idea of going out to dinner but, again…too tired.  We don’t live in a place where we can have food delivered so that was out of the question too.  So…what does a mother and father of three do when they are just too tired to feed their children?  I don’t know what you do but here’s how it went at our house.

I called my two boys over and told them the following… “Hey kids, there’s been an announcement.  Today has been declared Parent Appreciation Day which means that the kids have to make dinner for their parents tonight.”   I was immediately met with sighs and groans to which I replied “You get to make what ever you want as long as it is remotely healthy and edible”.  They perked up a little bit after that.  I suggested that they go in the kitchen, check out the pantry & the fridge and come up with a plan.  They have both helped with dinner before but never gone officially solo before, with the exception of the occasional hotdog or sandwich. 

Their father and I sat in the other room listening to the various noises of them rifling through possible ingredients and discussing their plan.  After a few minutes, my husband gave me the look of “Are you sure that turning the kitchen over to a 9, 6 and 1-year-old is a good idea?” 

Eventually it seemed as if they had a plan.  Our oldest was going to be the head chef and prepare the bulk of the meal.  Our middle son was the sous chef, maitre’ de and general “do everything else” guy.  He prepared the menu, the list of rules that he taped to the wall and cleared the dining room table for dinner.  He also provided our appetizers and side dishes. 

After several questions about how to do this and that, it was clear that they needed a little guidance in the kitchen and after my 9-year-old asked my 1-year-old to hand him a knife (in order to allow her the opportunity to help) I decided it might be a good idea if I went in to supervise.   He was just opening the box of pasta that his little sister had chosen from the pantry and was trying to figure out what to do next.  I did not want to steal his thunder on the planning and executing of the meal but I decided to provide a few suggestions on how to prepare what he had planned in order that I might actually have something edible for dinner.

He got a little frazzled when everything started coming together at the end and he needed to drain the pasta, turn off the pasta sauce, cut up the chicken patties he had chosen to add to the pasta, etc. but he got it done. 

Our middle son was frantically pouring drinks, trying to get his sister to sit in her chair, which she did not want to do, and preparing the “side dishes”. 

Finally, it was time to sit down to our meal.  Here is what was on the menu:

Appetizers – grapes and crackers

Drinks – chocolate milk for everyone (except li’l sis who got plain milk)

Meal – Wheelie pasta noodles served with diced tomatoes, chopped chicken patties, a tomato based pasta sauce and shredded parmesan cheese.

Sides – sliced cheese and crackers that appeared to have been stepped on and rolled over.

Dessert – our choice of cookies or ice cream.

It’s not exactly what I would have prepared but it was definitely edible and the kids were soooo proud of themselves.  My 6-year-old even told me that he would make us dinner every night.  Then he added “except for Friday because that will be my night off”.   He also said that we needed to keep the rules hanging on the wall so that we would all remember to follow them:

  1. Don’t be loud.
  2. Do not go in the kitchen
  3. Finish your food unless you are full.
  4. No more than three refills
  5. Stay in your seat.

I asked him if they had to follow the rules when it was my turn to make dinner.  He said yes so I agreed to leave them up for a while.

It was also great to hear my 9-year-old say “Mom, I can’t believe you do that every night.  That is hard work, especially at the end when you have to do everything at once.”  

Ah…validation…it’s a wonderful thing.

Will this change the way they eat dinner every night?  Will they eat all of their veggies and never complain about a meal again?  Probably not but that’s ok, we’ll keep working on it.  I think the first step to this goal will be to institute a regular Parent Appreciation night!

  

So, how do you vote?  Child abuse or Parenting genius?

 

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A Yummy New Recipe

In my Quest 2B Me, I am trying to do a better job of preparing meals for the family.  I have always done a pretty good job of that, until this summer.  We had such a fun-filled summer of fun at the pool and with other activities that on most nights we just ate a light dinner of BLTs, salads or something else. 

I think part of the reason that I was so easily pulled from my dinner making routine is because I was tired of hearing “YUCK!  Are we having that again!” from my husband or children.  So, I have been trying to find, or come up with, some new recipes.

Courtney, over at Women Living Well, posted this recipe (with pictures) on her blog a couple of weeks ago.  I thought I would give it a try and my family LOVED it!  We devoured every last bite on our plates, except for my oldest who still has an aversion to veggies…but, he didn’t complain about the meal which is a good sign.

It was such a hit that I thought I would share the recipe with all of you.  It’s easy to make and very tasty!  It’s even better when served with some garlic bread and a glass of milk.  Enjoy!

Bow Tie Pasta with Italian Sausage and Vegetables
5 Sweet Italian sausage links
1 16 oz farfalle (bow tie) pasta
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 onion sliced into wedges
1 zucchini cut
15 cherry tomatoes halved
salt and pepper as desired

Place Italian sausage onto a skillet with approx 1 cup of water. Cook through on med-high heat. While sausage is cooking, start pasta. When sausage is done, remove and slice into coins. Keep remaining drippings from the sausage and add the olive oil and minced garlic to the skillet. Sauté the garlic on med-low for 2 mins, do not brown. Add sliced veggies and sauté for approx 5 mins. Mix the sliced sausage with veggies in the skillet. Add cooked and drained pasta to skillet and toss with all other ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with Parmesan cheese.

Note – this makes a very large pot of pasta.  If you are cooking for one or two, you will probably want to cut the recipe in half.

Do you have a delicious, healthy recipe of your own?  Please share it!

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A day with my daughter

Over the weekend, my husband took our sons to an all day Cub Scouting event which meant that my daughter and I were going to have a “girl day”!  I was really looking forward to it.

It may sound strange but I don’t get a lot of one-on-one time with my daughter.  We do a lot together as a family and, while the boys are in school, I have another little girl here with me during the day.  So, this was going to be our first real girl day in a long time.

She is still very young, not quite two, so there is only so much we can get into but I had visions of a little shopping, lunch and painting her nails for the first time.  And, a little selfishly, I was looking forward to her nap so I could have a little quiet time for myself.

 We managed to do every one of those things but they didn’t quite work out the way that I had hoped.

Shortly after sending the boys on their way, we headed out ourselves.  We took a drive to the local Wal-mart to pick out the perfect nail color.  I had some polish of my own but I thought a quick drying color would be best and that it would be fun to take her to pick one out. 

Normally, a trip to Wal-mart means that we need a cart which she complains about being forced to sit in the entire time, constantly trying to make an escape.  So, on this day, since we were just there for one thing, I thought I would let her walk.  She had a different idea and insisted that we take a cart. When I told her that we weren’t going to get one, she proceeded to emphatically point at the carts and cry.  So, in an attempt to keep the afternoon light and fun, I obliged.  It was at this point that she decided it would be fun to push the cart herself.  I figured, we’ll only be here for a minute, what could go wrong.  Well, if you ask the poor lady we almost mowed down, I’m sure she could tell you a thing or two about why that was a bad idea.

When we finally made it to the cosmetics aisle and were searching through the nail color, I thought that there must be a line of nail polish geared specifically to little girls.  You know… pretty colors, quick drying, etc.  When I didn’t find it there, we headed to the toy aisle in the “girly” section, as my boys refer to it.  How lucky were we!  I immediately spotted a small pack of Barbie nail polish which came in five different colors and even had sparkles.  Perfect!  My little girl was so excited that she actually squealed for delight at the sight of it.  Off to the register we went!

As we approached the check out aisle, I explained to her that she must hand her new found treasure over to the teenage boy who was not quite as interested or excited as we were about our girl-day adventures.  She took one look at him with his sour-puss facial expression and hair hanging in his eyes and yelled “NO!”.  There was no way she was going to hand her special treasure over to this person.  We went back and forth about this a couple of times until finally I had to pry the polish from her hands and hand it to him.  It took approximately half a second before she threw herself face down on the floor in a full-on tantrum.  Wonderful!  This was not going as I had envisioned it.

After her dramatic display of emotion on the floor of Wal-mart, I decided that lunch at home would be a much better option than attempting lunch out.  I had also decided that there was no way that I was going to try to paint her nails while she was in this kind of mood so, immediately after lunch, I put her down for her nap.  Ahhh…now for the “me” time.

Apparently my sweet, little baby girl did not care much about my “me” time and did what she could to keep me from it.  She jumped up and down in her crib, screaming, crying and throwing things about the room.  She is bigger now so the jumping up and down causes an exquisite thumping and banging noise as the crib beats against the wall with every jump.  I tried very hard to ignore it, thinking that she would eventually tire out and go to sleep.  After about 45 minutes, I could take no more.  I even thought to myself “Well, if she doesn’t take a nap, I will just put her down for bed early tonight and then I will have time to myself.”

So, I scooped her from the crib and we cleaned up the mess she had made.  After a little play time and dance time in her room, we made our way to the living room for the main event…her first manicure.  Even though she had no idea what was next, she seemed just as excited as I about this special event.  She smiled and wiggled with delight.  I asked her to choose her color and then took her hand.  As I opened the polish and was about to swipe the brush across her nail for the first time.  She snatched her hand away and gave me, what I like to refer to as, the stink eye.

I don’t know what she thought we were going to be doing, but painting her nails was apparently not it.   In order to give her the idea, I painted one of my own nails.  She slowly agreed to it.  The problem was, this wonderful Barbie nail polish was horrible!  The sparkles really just formed a big clumpy, gloppy mess and it refused to dry.  Even after several minutes of blowing on and waving our hands it was still just as wet as when we started.

Have you ever tried to get a 21-month-old little girl to sit still.  It’s not happening.  I don’t know where the polish wound up but it didn’t take long for it to disappear from her finger tips.  Besides that, she wasn’t happy with just one color.  No sooner had I painted her fingernails pink did she decide that she also wanted blue, yellow, purple and then red. 

The other thing that isn’t happening with a 21-month-old little girl is reasoning.  No matter how hard I tried, she was not understanding that it wasn’t a good idea to paint one color over the next.  So, after trying to fight it, I just went with it.  We made a huge mess but I think she had fun.

There was more playing, a little bit of Dora on the TV and then dinner and a bath.  Before I knew it, we had already reached her normal bed time.  We snuggled up in our pjs, sang her favorite bedtime song and then I tucked her in.  She fell asleep quickly and all was quiet.  I washed a few dishes, cleaned up some toys, made myself a cup of tea and then tucked myself in on the sofa under a blanket, ready to watch an episode of Oprah that I had dvr’d earlier in the week.

I had seen approximately 10 minutes of the show when the front door flew open and in came my husband and the two boys.  They were exhausted but excited to tell me all about their day.  I listened and helped the boys into their pajamas and into bed, still eager for some quiet, “me” time in front of the tv.  My husband had other ideas as he had dvr’d the Ohio State game earlier in the day and was getting comfy in my spot on the sofa with remote in hand.

UGH!!!

I retreated, obviously irritated, to my bedroom and plopped into bed.  I sat and thought about the day I had envisioned versus the way it had actually turned out.  How was it that I was so far off?

So…here are the lessons I learned that day:

1) I need to schedule more “girl time” for my daughter and I.

2) 21-month-old little girls are too young for a manicure!

3) I shouldn’t try to force the special moments, just go with the flow and the special moments will just appear.

4) When attempting to get some “me” time, I should hide and lock the door so that no one can find me!

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We’re Bored!

School is closed today, for teacher’s meetings, and I am already slipping into insanity.  It is 8:45 in the morning and the five children here with me (my 3, plus 2 others) have already run out of things to do, they are bored.  How is that possible?

I remember spending hours as a child in the backyard preparing meals of grass and weeds (spaghetti, salad, etc) for my Cabbage Patch dolls, setting up my version of various animal traps (an old milk crate held up by a stick with a rope tied around the end) or just creating masterpieces from various scraps of whatever I could find in the house or the garage.  If all else failed, I would disappear into a book I had picked up from the library or the latest Betty & Veronica comic book I was lucky enough to get my hands on.

What have we done to these children that they are unable to find creative ways to keep themselves busy? They woke up, had breakfast and immediately started in on a video game.  When I told them that their video game time was up (there were some heated debates going on) and that they needed to find something else to do, they looked at me like I had three heads.

They attempted to go outside but it is was too cold and wet.  They wanted to chase the dog around the house causing her to bark, jump on all the furniture and knock down the littlest ones of the bunch but, again…I had to put a stop to that.  So, after making many suggestions and being met with “MOM!  That is sooooo boring!!!”, I got fed up and gave them my “When I was a kid…!” speech and walked away. 

The funny thing is…even though I was met with rolling eyes and exasperated sighs, I think they heard me!  It’s amazing, I think they really heard me. 

All of the boys are now playing some sort of game they made up using the baseball cards my brother passed on to them this past Christmas.  They don’t know who any of the players are and have probably never seen so many cheesy, 80’s mustaches in one place, but they are having fun…for now! 

Do you remember how you spent your days off of school as a child?  What did you do to keep yourself entertained?

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A Mother’s 10 Commandments

Girl Cleaning Up With Broom and Trash Bags

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

I was feeling a little stressed this morning and decided I could use a little mom comedy.  So, I thought I would share it with you, my faithful readers (translation – those of you that just have nothing better to do for the moment!). 

The following was printed on one of the fun little notes that my mother hid around the house for me while she was staying with us over the weekend. 

I thought this was perfect and should be read and signed by every member of the family.  I even considered, for a moment, that I should hang it on the wall, next to our list of family values but was afraid it would scare them all off.

  

Mom’s 10 Commandments for a Happy Household

  1. If you take it out, put it away.
  2. If you eat on it, wash it.
  3. If you turn it on, turn it off.
  4. If you mess it up, clean it up.
  5. If you drop it, pick it up.
  6. If it rings, answer it. (I am not sure I want my 6 year old doing this one!)
  7. If it barks, walk it.
  8. If you open it, close it.
  9. If I cook it, eat it. (I would like to tatoo this one on my oldest’s forehead!)
  10. If I say do it, don’t ask why. 

 

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone obeyed Mom’s 10 Commandments?

Can you think of any other’s you’d like to add to the list?

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What a week!

I celebrated my 35th birthday last week and wow, did we celebrate.  I spent several days with my mom friends enjoying a girl’s night out dinner, a shopping trip followed by lunch and then a Friday morning brunch.  We laughed, ate, talked, ate, had a mimosa and then ate some more.  I am going to have to spend a lot of time at the gym to work off all the yummies I consumed with them this week!

I am also very blessed to have the majority of my extended family very close by.  I was able to spend the weekend with my mother, father, grandmother and sister.  They made my meals, brought me cake, gave me gifts and hid fun notes around the house for me to find all weekend long.  It was so much fun!  I love the fact that my parents are so fun and creative.  It is one of many characteristics I have learned from them and chosen to continue in my own family.

A definite highlight of the weekend was the evening I spent at dinner with my husband.  We don’t get the chance to go out alone very often so when the opportunity presents itself, we take advantage of it.  We had a fabulous dinner (there I go eating again!) and a few hours to chat about all the wonderful things going on in our lives. 

Two of my most special gifts came from fellow bloggers.  The first from Lisa at Gems of Delight and the second from Paula at Simply Sandwich.  I know that neither of them realized that it was the week of my birthday but their gifts came at such a perfect time.  As far as I am concerned, there is no higher honor in the blogging world than receiving praise and recognition from a fellow blogger, especially from those that are so good at what they do.  Thank you!  I can often be spotten reading their blog posts of the day and encourage you to do the same.

What I realized this week, as I began my 35th year, was how lucky I am to have all of these fabulous people in my life!  I can’t remember a time when I have felt so special and well loved.  So, to all of you, I say THANK YOU and I only hope that I can do as good a job showing you how special you are to me!

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The Unattended Toddler

 

She is on a Quest 2B Her!

 

Something happened over the past few months.  I can’t really pinpoint the day it began but I can tell you that something definitely happened…   

 My sweet, adorable, angel-faced baby girl has become a…TODDLER! 

 She has been “officially” toddling since she was just a little over 10 months old, what an exciting and wonderful time.  She would take a few steps, fall down and then look at us with a smile and sense of pride just because she had commanded her body to propel itself forward in such a fascinating motion.  She is now almost 21 months old and is well on her way to the “Terrible Twos!”.  

This littlest blessing is our third child and you would think that we’d have the toddler experience all wrapped up in a neat little bow by now but that would be so far from the truth.  We have learned a few things along the way though.  My husband and I don’t stress over the little things like we used to and are much more laid back when it comes to the kids.  We have also learned the best ways to handle the sleep deprivation, tantrums, and stinky diapers.    

 The challenges we are experiencing this time around may be due to the fact that we are occasionally a little too laid back.  When our boys were little (especially our eldest) I had to know where they were every second and had to protect them from any and every possible harm that may have come their way.  I imagined the worst possible thing that could happen and then did everything to protect them from that possible (but not probable) danger.  They were never far from my sight and I always knew what they were doing.   With my daughter, well, let’s just say that there are a few unattended moments that pop up from time to time. 

Now, before everyone gets too upset, I am not referring to long periods of unsupervision or neglect.  I am talking about the few minutes it takes to run to the bathroom or even just the instances where I am in the other room washing dishes while she is watching the latest episode of Do-Do-Do-Do-Do-Dora…or so I thought! 

It is amazing what a toddler can accomplish in just a few minutes!  I could try to describe it to you with my usual flair for the descriptive but I figured that a picture is worth a thousand words,  so here are a few photos I snapped recently. 

Busted with her pacifier

 

We recently went to a system of only allowing her the pacifier while she is in her crib.  On this particular day, she snuck into her room, took it out of her crib and then attempted to hide on our bed in hopes that she wouldn’t be caught (she hasn’t gotten a good grasp of the hiding thing yet).  I’m not sure where she grabbed the hat in the process but I thought it was a nice touch. 

  

This girl can sleep anywhere...even on the dog bed!

 

This one wasn’t really due to an unattended toddler, more because of an unattended dad who wasn’t sure where else to put her when she fell asleep at a friends house while we were watching the football game.  I thought it was cute and worth sharing though! 

  

Our future fashionista

 

One of our latest challenges with the little one is that she has discovered how to open her dresser drawers.  She pulls out which ever item of clothing she can get a grip on and then puts it on in any way that she can.  In this photo she is sporting a bathing suit top, pajama pants, dress shoes and a tie dyed dress as a shawl.  This is good stuff!  Check out your next issue of Vogue magazine for a runway version of this outfit! 

Showing off her leg art.

 

And finally, the latest and greatest of her adventures.  If you ever wondered how creative a toddler can be with a blue ink pen, well then…just check out her legs.  She did this shortly before we were to get ready to leave for church on Sunday.  Let’s just say that she was wearing leggings under her dress that day!  I guess I really can’t complain, she didn’t color on the kitchen cabinets this time. 

This is just a small collection of the most recent toddler adventures here in our home.  Having been at this stage a couple of times before, I know that there will be many more to come in the next year or two.  The difference this time around is that I know, as frustrating as it can be, I need to enjoy them because they will be gone before we know it and then we will be left longing for just a glimpse back at the days of the little girl in her mismatched outfit and blue legs.  

What is your most memorable toddler moment with the child(ren) in your life?  

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