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We’ve Moved!

April 9, 2012

Thanks to Alison and Ado’s Blog Bash, I won a new WordPress theme from Erica at Yeah Write, so I’ve moved here. Please head on over there to stay caught up on what’s going on in our lives!

Life’s Lessons: Babies Get into Everything!

April 6, 2012

Or maybe I should say toddlers get into everything now that he’s really a toddler. Here are some of the things we’ve learned Brinky can do this week he’s been living as an only child:

1. He can now reach onto the edges of the high kitchen counters.

2. So he pulled down the pizza cutter that was out on the counter (and didn’t cut himself) and then a cup of coffee he poured all over himself (not hot fortunately).

3. We’ve been wedging a gate between the banisters at the bottom of the stairs to keep both Brinky and the dogs from going upstairs. He climbed that gate this week.

4. Oh yeah – he can climb the stairs with ease now.

5. He can and will climb on any and every piece of furniture in the family room – couches, chairs, tables.

6. And if we leave any pieces of furniture close together, he’ll use one to climb to another.

7. If we try to block something we don’t want him to touch or climb on with a box, he will try to eat that box.

8. He will stand up in his high chair as soon as he’s done eating.

9. He can reach doorknobs and wrap his hand around them, but hasn’t figured out how to turn them. Yet. So we’ve got that one still.

10. But he has a lot of fun while he’s getting into everything. And his smile’s awfully cute.

Linking up with Rach:

Handling Disappointment

April 5, 2012

What could happen to turn this excited, smiling girl into a sobbing mess less than an hour later?

This picture was taken right before Reagan headed out to the floor at gymnastics on Saturday for her Demo Day. We all know that in so many kids’ activities today every child is rewarded the same way with the same trophy or medal so everyone can win. And I don’t agree that the same rewards for every kid teach kids the right lessons. Demo Day doesn’t work that way. While it’s not the same as an actual meet where the kids are scored and ranked, it does help prepare them for meets and it rates their performance to help gauge whether or not they’re ready to move up to the next level. There are three of four Demo Days each year. On each of the four events, each child is given either a white, red or blue ribbon (blue being the best), depending on how well they perform the routine and how much assistance is required.

If I’m remembering correctly, I think Reagan got either two or three whites and one red at the first Demo Day. Most of the other kids did, too. They weren’t expected to have mastered the routines at that point in the year. At the second one, I think she got four reds, so she was relatively happy. But this is Reagan. She’s never satisfied. She always strives to do better. In some ways, I think that’s a good quality. She’s very motivated and driven to succeed. When it causes problems is when she sets her standards too high – higher than reasonable for her skill level at a given point in time. When she sets her standards too high and, not surprisingly, doesn’t achieve them, she’s crushed. She can’t handle the disappointment.

I find that I try to bring her down to a more realistic level. For report cards for instance, we remind her that it’s not been common in our experience for teachers to give students a grade of Exceeds Grade Level Expectations during the first half of the school year, so even if she’s certain that’s what she deserves, she shouldn’t be disappointed if she doesn’t achieve that, particularly when it’s not fully in her control. For gymnastics on Saturday, I reminded her that she didn’t have class the previous week, so it had been two weeks since she’d done any gymnastics (other than the constant gymnastics in the house), and even that short a break sometimes makes it hard for the body to perform certain skills. But I know she didn’t listen.

Her first event on Saturday was the bars. She’d been placed in a group for this class that was a slightly higher level group, so honestly she wasn’t one of the best in the group. In my mind it’s good that her coach thinks her skills have improved enough to put her in that group, but in her mind, she hates being with that group because she’s not the best. So I knew she’d be starting out a little discouraged because some of the other girls could perform skills she hasn’t mastered. She got a white ribbon on the bars. She can do her pullover and her back hip circle, but she doesn’t have the sole circle yet. It wasn’t unreasonable for her to get a white ribbon, but I could see in her face and the way she walked to the next event that she was already upset. She was certain she would get all reds or better – she actually thought she’d get a couple blues. It hurts me in these situations to stand on the outside of the gymnastics floor and know that she’s so upset and that I can’t do anything but give her a smile and a thumbs up when she looks my way.

Second event was vault. She did fine on it – a red ribbon. She’s been practicing it a bit too often on a mattress at home. But it didn’t seem to make her feel any better.

Her third event was the balance beam. The routine has gotten tougher since when Jenny was Level 2 a couple years ago. They have to do a forward roll on the beam. Reagan was so excited two weeks ago because she finally got the forward roll on the beam. She’s excited every time she accomplishes a new skill. But I knew she was off going into the routine because of the earlier disappointment. She had three chances to run through the routine before she had to do it herself. She fell off the beam all three times she tried the forward roll. She started crying at this point. I could see her wiping her eyes repeatedly and rubbing her face. Usually I can see in her face that she’s disappointed, but she holds it together and just looks really grumpy in front of others. She really started to lose it this time, and there wasn’t anything I could do. She was called up to do her routine, and she fell off when she had to do the forward roll. And then she fell off a second time because she was so upset. Another white ribbon. Complete meltdown at this point, sobbing while her coach tries to tell her that she did well except for the forward roll.

She made it through the final event – floor routine – with another red ribbon. She actually did better than she’s typically done in the past and got a couple skills she typically doesn’t manage. But at that point the damage was done. I honestly was struggling with teary eyes myself at a couple points just looking at her.

She came off the floor and didn’t even look at me and just went to her cubby. I went over to her and gave her a hug and told her that she did fine. She kept crying. When we got to the car, I asked her what she was so upset about. I told her that I was proud of her, and that gymnastics is a sport where you can certainly have an off day. She didn’t have practice the week before so that made it tougher. She knew she had the forward roll on the beam two weeks before, so the good news is she knows she can get it again. That sort of thing. None of it made a difference. I told her that I hoped she knew daddy and I weren’t upset with her or disappointed. She said it didn’t matter. That she’s disappointed in herself. I talked to her more. When we got home, she told Lee about it and cried more. We were eventually able to move on later in the day, but it was so tough to watch her get so upset about this.

Reagan is the kid who can’t understand no matter how many times we tell her: we want and expect her to always do her best. That’s our expectation. We don’t want her to be lazy and not use all of her potential. But we don’t expect her to be THE best. The problem is that she always expects herself to be the best, and frankly, that’s just not going to happen sometimes. If she could take it as something she learned and figure out ways to improve and do better in the future without the crushing disappointment, it wouldn’t be quite as bad. But she can’t. I hope one day she’s able to. And I hope one day I find a way to help her handle disappointment better. To teach her how to react differently.

I’m linking up with Shell for the first time this week:

Brinky Life #iPPP

April 4, 2012

The girls are gone to Hilton Head for spring break, so Brinky’s living the life of an only child. But before the girls were allowed to go, we told them they had to help us clean the house and get the family room extra baby-proofed for this week. What did they do? They put their brother to work.

He did keep his sippy cup with him while he swept because it’s thirsty work. And it was a new sippy cup he didn’t want to have removed from his hand.

He was allowed to eat some lunch after all his hard work, and he made some of the funniest faces ever.

At the end of the day, he had to have a big bottle and watch some Dora to relax.

It was tough to get ready for this only child week, but I can say he’s enjoying it now that it’s here.
Taming Insanity

Tasty Tuesday: Dinner Victory!

April 3, 2012

I often find recipes that I want to try on Pinterest, and I’m always so happy whenever I successfully find something, make it, and everyone in the family loves it. Loves it. That’s what happened on Sunday night. So I need to share the two recipes we tried.

First up, for our main course, we had Garlic Chicken Farfalle. I used the recipe on Kevin & Amanda’s site, and I’m writing it out here.

Ingredients:

16 oz. Farfalle pasta
1 c. heavy whipping cream
3-4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed OR garlic salt (I do a spoonful of crushed garlic)
1 Tbsp. pepper
1/2 c. butter
1 lb. bacon, crumpled
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 (12 oz) Lawry’s mesquite marinade with lime juice

Directions:

Crock pot chicken and bottle of marinade on low for 6 hours. Pull marinated chicken out of the juices, allow to cool a little bit, and shred. Set this aside. About a half-hour before serving, boil the pasta. In a small saucepan, melt butter, add garlic, whipping cream, pepper, parmesan cheese, and crumpled bacon. Whisk together on low heat for 3-4 minutes. In a large bowl, pour over cooked, drained pasta, add chicken and stir through. Sprinkle a little bit more shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Here are my comments/adjustments:

  • I LOVED the fact that the chicken for this recipe was made in the crockpot. It made the preparation for this meal much simpler. I didn’t read the recipe early enough in the day to realize it used the crockpot, so I ended up putting the chicken in the crockpot a little later and cooked it on high for 3 hours. It was perfectly cooked and easy to shred. I used three large chicken breasts and actually felt like there was a little too much chicken. I may add just a little more pasta if I use that much chicken next time.
  • Based on comments on Kevin & Amanda’s site, I also added a bit extra cheese to the sauce. I used some shredded parmesan and some of a shredded Italian 6-cheese mix, probably closer to a cup overall.
  • I used about half of the pepper listed.
  • I used the pre-cooked bacon pieces that are find with the salad dressings at my store – much more convenient and easier to clean than making the bacon, and just as tasty!

My finished product:

It was delicious! Lee and I loved it, and all three kids loved it. And my dad was here and able to enjoy it. Plus, it was a great leftover the next day.

Now, I think you can tell how much we loved that pasta. But we also had something even better with it. The most amazing dinner rolls EVER! They were light and fluffy and the seasoning was so delicious. They were so good that we almost couldn’t believe it when we took the first bite. I’m serious. Everyone should make these.

They were made with Rhodes Dinner Rolls, and the recipe is straight from their website.

Ingredients:

7 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp butter, melted
Directions:
Spray a small iron skillet with cooking spray. Place 7 frozen rolls in the skillet, leaving plenty of room for rising.
Cover and allow to rise for several hours.
Uncover rolls.
Combine herbs and mix with melted butter.
Brush rolls with half of the melted butter and herbs.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes, or until rolls are a deep golden brown on top.
Brush with additional butter and serve in skillet.
My comments/adjustments:
  • This isn’t a complicated recipe at all, but the recipe on the Rhodes site includes great step by step photos.
  • I don’t have a small iron skillet, so I just used a glass pie pan. And actually I used two because I made two batches at once to make sure there were enough for everyone (I’m so glad I decided to double).
  • Mine took about 5 hours to rise. This recipe was so easy – the only thing I’d always have to remember in the future (and we’ll definitely be making these again) is to start them plenty early so there’s enough time for the rolls to rise.
  • Besides the fact that these were so incredibly delicious, I loved the fact that they’re so cheap to make. The Rhodes dinner rolls come 36 to a bag, and other than that, all that’s needed is butter and herbs that we have on hand!

Here’s how mine looked right before they went into the oven:

And here’s a photo of what they look like finished from the Rhodes site (I forgot to take one because I was so excited about how they turned out that we just started eating them!):

Overall, it was an awesome and EASY meal that I would recommend to anyone and everyone!

Monday Listicles: More Guilty Pleasures

April 2, 2012

Since I already listed my guilty pleasures a few months ago (and they really haven’t changed any), I thought I’d do two lists of five guilty-pleasure related things for my whole list of 10 this week.

I’m going to start with a music-related guilty pleasure list – music I secretly love to listen to but am a little embarrassed about. There are actually way too many of these for me to list, so I’m sticking with 5 pretty random choices.

1. New Kids on the Block – I still love to listen to some NKOTB. It probably doesn’t even belong on this list because I’m not even that embarrassed by it. My favorite song of theirs still? Please Don’t Go Girl. I love Joe’s little voice.

2. Tiffany – Somewhat related to New Kids, I think (remember when she supposedly dated Jonathan Knight?). For some reason, my iPod has popped up a lot of Tiffany when I put it on shuffle lately, and I can admit that I don’t switch to another song. My favorite? Hold an Old Friend’s Hand.

3. Naughty by Nature – And now for something completely different, I loved some Naughty by Nature, okay? And we’re gearing up for the perfect weather for me to roll down the windows and listen to Feel Me Flow, a perfect windows-down summer song.

4. Grease soundtrack – My girls and I love to listen to the Grease soundtrack. Summer Nights is probably my favorite, but We Go Together is the most fun to sing because the girls think it’s funny that I actually know most of the lyrics.

5. Jonas Brothers – There was a time around three years ago when I really enjoyed some of my girls’ favorite music like Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brothers and High School Musical. I’ve mostly quit Miley because she kind of bothers me as a person these days, and High School Musical leans towards annoying, but I still love some Jonas Brothers music. And I will always listen to it when it pops up. I think my favorite is Lovebug, but I must say it’s a very tough choice.

My other guilty pleasure list for today is five websites I love to waste time on. Of course, none of the blogs I love to read are included on this list. They’re not time wasters.

  1. Damn You, Autocorrect – I love to make Lee sit and look at this website with me while we laugh until we’re crying. Our girls have actually worried before that we were going to be sick from laughing so much. It’s hilarious.
  2. The Superficial – We all know I love some celebrity gossip. I love The Superficial’s very opinionated (and sometimes slightly offensive) take on the latest celebrity news.
  3. Pinterest – Since I often find things of value on Pinterest (like some awesome recipe successes), I probably shouldn’t put it on the list, but I definitely have times that I just sit and stare at pins. I also like to filter the pins, so sometimes I just look at pins in the Humor category, and other times (when I’m hungry), I just look at the Food category.
  4. Sporcle – Maybe this isn’t a guilty pleasure either because trivia is educational, right? We enjoy doing Sporcle quizzes as a family. As long as I’m the one in charge of the computer. Everyone else (Jenny) types too slow so we end up running out of time.
  5. The Oatmeal – I love the Oatmeal’s comics! They are so perfectly right and hilarious. Every single one. Here’s one of my favorites:

I think it’s obvious from my old guilty pleasures list and these shorter ones that I don’t have a shortage of guilty pleasures in my life. And I have to say, starting today, my husband and I are enjoying one of the ultimate guilty pleasures – KIDS AT THE GRANDPARENTS’ HOUSE!* Sometimes I feel a little guilty for enjoying the time when they’re gone. But not too guilty. Especially because they seemed to spend yesterday trying to be as annoying as possible so we’d be happy to have them leave.

*But not the baby. We kept him here.

Linking up with Stasha for Monday Listicles:

My Kids are Weirdos (Funny Ones)

March 29, 2012

I find I’m in the mood to post a few recent funny things my kids have said that I’ve just taken a moment to post to twitter rather than writing an entire post. But you may have missed them if you don’t follow me on twitter, right?

We love to do quizzes on Sporcle, and Jenny made this hilarious comment when she was doing some music quizzes by herself the other night.

This is just the kind of crazy comment Reagan likes to make when we’re just talking. I told her that I in fact don’t think that’s what happened to Stevie Wonder.

Who loves the sound that flip flops make? Not me.

I’m not sure when she believes she’ll encounter a zombie. We were watching Resident Evil when she said this though.

Except not really because her hair’s too short to look at all like Katniss’s braid.

Someone’s a little obsessed.

I don’t really want to know why she thought that.

Random Wednesday #iPPP

March 28, 2012

It’s time for another random #iPPP post from me with a few pictures taken over the last week, beyond the ones I’ve already shared of the girls’ school dance over the last few days.

Do you think it’s hard for Reagan to read now that her baby brother’s climbing all over everything? She looks like she’s still managing to concentrate, even with the baby and the dog and the bag of goldfish, and I think the laptop’s up there, too.

Here’s Jenny’s squinty-eyed face right before the Hunger Games started at the movie theater last week for the midnight premiere. She may not look it, but she was really excited. And she was probably excited when she went to see it again the next night.

I already shared this on Twitter, but I think it’s worth recording here for all time, too. We call it: Poopface!

Isn’t this octopus Reagan painted awesome? I’m calling him the suspicious octopus because look at those suspicious eyes. Anyway, I thought it was an awesome enough piece of artwork to be worth sharing.

Linking up with KLZ and Liz for #iPPP:
Taming Insanity

Jenny & Brinky: Almost Twins!

March 27, 2012

This still amuses me one year later (from my Timehop email this morning), so I decided to share since I wasn’t blogging at this time last year:

This is Jenny as a teeny baby.

This is Brinky 10 years later, wearing the same outfit Jenny was wearing, and holding the old picture of her, and I think looking pretty similar. At that time at least. Now he looks a bit more like Lee.  And he and Jenny are both a bit bigger these days.

The Wonderful Smell of Gasoline

March 27, 2012

This is the real story of the day of the Spring Fling. I think that’s how I’ll describe it when I look back on March 23, 2012, when I’m old and my children aren’t at home anymore and I’m remembering things we did together.

First, let me tell you a little about the week leading up to the day of the Spring Fling dance at the elementary school.

It was a very busy week for me at work. I’m an accountant, and it was the end of our fiscal period and quarter, so that’s always a busy time. I also had more meetings than usual that took me away from regular work during the week, so I felt like I was constantly behind, even after staying late.

In addition to Monday night’s run to hip hop class for Jenny, I had a PTA Board Meeting on Tuesday night that went a bit too long and kept me away from my family for a second night. And I’d already agreed to volunteer at the school dance Friday night. So I probably shouldn’t have agreed to take Jenny to the midnight premiere of the Hunger Games movie Thursday night, especially because we had school and work the next day, but I did.

So, it’s finally Friday. The day of course started at midnight with the Hunger Games premiere. It was fun. I already talked about it here. I went to sleep around 3:15 and got up at 5:45 with the baby. So I think it’s understandable that I started my day a little tired.

I had a busy day at work, but I was very excited that an afternoon out of town meeting had been cancelled so I’d have no trouble getting home in plenty of time to help the girls get ready for the dance that started at 6:30. Right? Wrong. I got a call at 4:59 at work that required me to stay a bit late. I shouldn’t have answered, but once I did, it was too late. I called the family to let them know I would be late and they should go ahead and get ready.

I knew we could still make it in time to the dance if I timed everything just right. I got out of work at 5:40 and drove through McDonald’s for a healthy dinner on the way home so that everyone would be able to eat. I got home about 6:05, with dinner, and handed over the food. The girls were already ready, and their friends hadn’t arrived yet. Plenty of time to get to the dance at 6:30, right?

Actually I decided we should take a few extra minutes and leave at 6:30. I told them it would be cool to be fashionably late. I changed clothes, cleared out the back of the car so I could put up the third row seat to fit the friends we were bringing with us and got the baby changed. And we still had time to take a few pictures.

When we got in the car, I remembered that I was almost out of gas and decided to stop at the gas station because I’d hate to run out of gas with five kids in the car (or any other time really). I told the girls we were making a quick stop, and then we’d be on our way.

I have one of those gas caps that doesn’t attach anywhere when it’s off, so I always set it on top of my tire so the wind doesn’t blow it away. I was rushing a bit so we wouldn’t be too late. I unscrewed the gas cap and went ahead and started pumping the gas, then leaned down to set down the gas cap. It fell to the ground and busted into three pieces, but that’s okay. It does that sometimes. What doesn’t normally happen is this: I leaned down to pick up the pieces of the gas cap, and my fat butt hit the fuel dispenser, knocking it out of my car and since I’d of course locked it into dispensing position, spraying fuel all over the back of my clothes. Great. I decided to stop getting gas at that point. We certainly had enough to go to the gas station.

The girls managed not to see any of what was happening outside of the car because they were having a great time rocking to some loudJackson5 music. I hopped in and told them we needed to take one quick detour back to the house so I could change clothes again because I might smell a bit like gasoline. They agreed since the fumes were immediately filling the car. I rolled down the windows, turned up the music, and headed home.

I ran in the house (sort of – I never actually run), changed my clothes, and headed back out after a quick stop to tell Lee why I was there. I believe he knew since he could smell the gasoline. I suspect I probably still smelled a little like gasoline because of what got through to my skin, but no one said anything if I did.

Even though I felt like all of these things were a sign that I just needed to go home and sleep, we headed on to the dance, and we made it there at about 6:45, fashionably late. And everyone had a good time. And after the dance, and after sending Jenny off with a friend to see the Hunger Games again at 10:00 that night because she has endless energy, I finally got a good night’s sleep.

Linking up for Yeah Write #50: