Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mardi Gras Pasta Necklaces

Is there anything worse than having sick kids? Maybe having a sick child, being nine months pregnant, having pneumonia, and going into labor...but enough about Franklin’s birth.

I am lucky that the kids get sick a lot less often than most. I attribute this to well-trained children who wash their hands often and change their clothes after we have been out and about. This may seem slightly obsessive, but it has served our family well.

This is the first time everyone has been sick at the same time. I blame Coco for this illness spreading. She likes to pick up everyone’s cups around the house and have a sip...much like her a cocktail party.

Yesterday, after a long week, everyone was well enough to sit at the kitchen table for an activity. We made pasta necklaces. It was easy. The kids were out of bed. It gave us a break from the Disney Channel.

This is a super easy sick day activity because you probably have all you need to do it at home. I like using the directions at this blog. I used this activity to talk about Mardi Gras and Lent with the kids. I did not go into detail about Mardi Gras in New Orleans- they can learn about that when they are 30.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Chain Reaction

We are having a hard time getting “back to normal” after Franklin’s birthday weekend.

It started Sunday night when Vincent spiked a fever. This happens whenever he is sick, even if he just has a cold. I don’t know if this is a result of being down a kidney, but I have learned not to freak out when his temp hovers in the 103 range- it’s just how he is.

His fever is accompanied by a headache, which he enjoys being medicated for, and an overall lethargic disposition.

We laid low yesterday and I decided to keep him home from school today, just to be on the safe side. The other kids seem unaffected, but Franklin demands an equal dose of Tylenol whenever Vincent gets his. I have resorted to drugging V in the dark, master bedroom closet- please don’t call CPS.

The boys enjoyed some extra TV time this morning after breakfast until I dragged them outside for some chilly, but fresh air. We were all enjoying the sunshine, juice boxes, Nilla Wafers, and a conversation about day light savings when it happened.

Colette vomited. This girl does not get sick and never vomits, however she made up for it today. Of course, I wondered if she was ill or she just choked on a bit of cookie resulting in a wonderful gag reflex when my mental checklist was interrupted by Vincent losing his breakfast...and snack. No sooner could I tell Franklin to look away when...well do I really have to tell you?

Poor Vincent and Franklin are destined to be the children at school that sympathy vomit for a sick classmate...and I will be the mother called to bring a change of clothes to the school office.

We spent the rest of the afternoon coloring and taking it easy. We checked our garden and played some Legos. My two non-nappers both fell asleep on the sofa. I briefly nursed Coco and she has held it down- maybe we are out of the woods. She fell asleep too.

Then I did what any mother would do while sick babies napped- I Cloroxed all surfaces and settled down at the computer for my lunch (it’s 4:00, but whose really keeping track?).

A slice of leftover birthday cake counts, right?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Years with Frank

We just wrapped up celebrating Franklin’s third birthday.

Two was quite a year for Franklin. I am happy to report that we all survived.

Frankie went through what is probably a very typical “terrible two’s” period... it started at 18 months...I feared it would never end. But somewhere around the end of December, my tantrum-throwing-two-year-old was replaced by a little boy who asks for permission to take naps, willingly shares with his sister, and says excuse me before interrupting.

It looks like the threes will bring a little more calm to our home...until April...when Coco turns 18 months.

Our celebration started Thursday evening and last until Saturday night.

There was pizza.

And Cake.

And presents.

Family flew in from out of town. We only took breaks to sleep. We had another cake.

And more presents.

Did I mention we had cake?

The kid got a couple presents.

And some cake.

Vincent said it was the best weekend ever. The adults are exhausted.

Happy Birthday Franklin!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Boy and his Dog- A LOVE Story

Franklin loves dogs. He has recently started asking for a puppy. If you know our living quarters, you know that Patrick and I laugh hysterically at the request.

We do not have room for another animal at our house.

Luckily, Franklin already has the best dog in the world.

Snoop Dogg has been a member of our family since 2004. We got him when we were living in Charlotte.

My friend Danielle and her daughter Hunter were visiting for Easter and we decided that a new dog would help with my home sickness. As soon as Snoop was released from his pen he climbed into Hunter’s lap to snuggle.

We knew we found our new dog.

When Vincent was born the 65-pound fawn Boxer showed no jealously or anger.

He was as protective and affectionate toward the baby as he was to Patrick and I.

Then came Franklin.
Poor dog didn’t know what was about to hit him.

Snoop has become Franklin’s dog...because Franklin says so. Snoop does not seem to mind. He follows Franklin everywhere he goes.

Snoop puts up with Frankie climbing on his back and riding him like a pony, wrapping a blanket around his neck so that he can be Super Dog, pulling him around by the collar, and occasionally grabbing his ears.

In return, Snoop gets lots of table scraps from Frankie, is talked to like a human, and is stroked on the chest...constantly. But most importantly, Snoopy gets to snuggle with Frankie on the bed. Sometimes Snoop is Frankie’s pillow. Sometimes they spoon.

They always keep each other warm.

Snoop is starting to age. He has a few grey hairs on his sweet mug. Boxers don’t have a long life span. When it is Snoops time to go he will be sorely missed.

The new puppy will have a big collar to fill. Hopefully, no time soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Old School Valentine's

There are two things I will always remember from my childhood Valentine’s Days. The first is getting a pretty red heart filled with chocolates from my parents. They were ALWAYS See’s Chocolates. This, I believe started my obsession with See’s candy.

I have tried others- Helen Grace is decent, but to me, is just trying to hop on Mrs. Sees’ bandwagon. Godiva Chocolates are rich and fancy looking, but a bit too pretentious for me. There is no need to try so hard. When it comes down to it, give me a box of See’s and I am a happy woman.

Patrick...are you listening?

The second thing I remember from my childhood Valentine’s Days is making heart shaped Cherry Filled Cookies with my mom. We did this every year. The recipe was from her old 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Cookbook.

We would bring the red book down off the shelf a few times every year. The cover is partially falling off and the pages reflect years of sticky fingers thumbing through the edges. Mom has notes written in the margins, and her favorite recipes indicated with a big “Excellent,” scribbled next to it. The book has fun photos of the cookies across the bottom of the pages. I love this old-school cookbook.

I found that old Betty has reprinted it using the original format. Check it out if you are so inclined.

This is the first year I attempted to make the cookies with the boys. I hope to make it a yearly tradition.

There’s Franklin. He’s got the Bieber hair going for him in this photo- try to contain yourselves, girls.

And the final result. Time consuming, but worth it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sweet Preschoolers

There is something so sweet and innocent about preschoolers. They are friends with everyone. It doesn’t matter if a classmate is a boy or a girl or looks different. They are all friends. It is sad that this changes in elementary school. How nice a society we would live in if preschoolers ran the world. Everyone would be a friend, we would have daily arts and crafts, there would be lots of dessert, and naps on demand.

Yesterday we made Valentines in preparation of the party at school today. Vincent wrote his name on 15 cards and 5 tags, no small feat for a 4 year old. He took pride in the writing, taping of candy to each card, and decorating of his Valentine’s bag, all by himself. I prepared candy bars for the teachers. Vincent was so excited to pass out his Valentines to all his friends when I left him at school this morning.

Preschoolers are so sweet.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In the end...

Preschool re-registration was this morning. I hope, now that it is over, the tightness in my chest will abate.

For months Patrick and I have been debating whether or not to sent Vincent to Kindergarten next school year. Both of us had valid reasons to bolster our opinions. We went back and forth. We gave all talking points careful consideration. I fretted. A decision had to be made.

VW will stay in preschool one more year. In the end, mama always gets her way.

If this was not stressful enough (I know, I am a bit dramatic, but this is important stuff to mothers), we then had to decide what days to enroll him and Franklin, a new preschooler, in next year.

So much to consider and worry about. Will two full days be enough? Are three half days better academically? Lots of socializing happens in the afternoon- maybe three full days are best? Would three days be perfect for Vincent but overwhelming for the younger Franklin? A decision had to be made.

Our final decision was based on two determining factors:

First, I consulted the preschool principal, whom I trust, and has an amazing talent for analyzing the little people in her charge.

Second, and more importantly, this is only the beginning of the boys’ educational journey. When they hit the doors of the local elementary school, there is no turning back (unless they are home schooled, which is another post for another day). In a short 18 months VW will be a full time student with all the rigors of reading and math, cutting and pasting, listening and following directions. These days of being home with mommy, snuggling late into the morning in our pjs and making a mess with the play doh after lunch, are fleeting.

The boys will be attending preschool Tuesday and Thursday full-day next school year.

In then end, mama always gets her way.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Thanks Frank!!!

Franklin is potty trained!

I don't know if it was the desire for super hero underwear or the four pound vat of Red Vines sitting on the office desk, but Franklin is potty trained.

For the first time in three years, I have only one child in diapers. This is a momentous week in our home. I'm sure all mothers can share in the joy!

Thanks Frank!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ole! (for Audrey)

I found this recipe online a few years ago (thank you “RasinKane”, whoever you are). I make it twice a month, at least. The kids devour it, Patrick loves it, it makes the house smell great...and it has beer- I think it is my favorite recipe!

I should probably save it to post on Cinco de Mayo instead of Chinese New Year (happy year of the rabbit), but my friend Audrey loves Mexican food and I have been thinking of her a lot this week. This one’s for you A!

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

1 onion, chopped

1 (16 ounce) can chili beans

1 (15 ounce) can black beans

1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer

2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained

1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning

3 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts

shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)

sour cream (optional)

crushed tortilla chips (optional)

avocado (optional)

lime (optional)

Dump the first 8 ingredients into the crock pot. Give it a stir. Place the chicken on top of the mixture and cover. Cook on low for 5 hours. Remove the chicken from the crock pot. Let it cool a few minutes and chop it up into bite-sized pieces. Mix the chicken back into the soup and cook for 2 more hours. Serve topped with any or all of the optional toppings above.

This is what Coco amused herself with while I worked.

NOTES: I like to use frozen corn instead of canned. Also, if you or your family do not like spicy, you can adjust the amount of taco seasoning, or use tomatoes without green chilies. I have made this with chicken thighs as well, just be sure to take the thighs out before they fall off the bone.

Most importantly, I like to use imported Mexican beer so that I can drink one with it at dinnertime. Totally unnecessary, but gives me an excuse to buy decent beer. Last night I used a Heineken keg can. I don’t normally drink these, but I had it left over from the summer. I snuck them into Movies at the Lake with Audrey and her family. Audrey is fun. She took this picture.

Enjoy the taco soup!