Tuesday, April 29, 2008

not easy being green

Everywhere you look these days there is the Green movement going on. I remember when I used to roll my eyes at teachers I worked with at school who always said we should recycle and laugh at the people who only shopped organic, knowing they were just being ripped off! And how aggravated I was that everyone was talking about this just because their favorite celebrity was suddenly green. And although I'm not the picture of environmental consciousness by any means I do see myself emerging into at least a more simplistic, open-minded person when in comes to the environment.

Maybe it is because back in middle school I was idealistic & hopeful for the earth. I remember being all into Earth Day in 7th grade and writing an essay on factory pollution to win a scholarship to an environmental science camp. So maybe I'm just going back to those roots....
Maybe it is because I'm a Mom now and I do worry about where my kids and grandkids will live. I'm also concerned by Kaya's very sensitive skin. She can't walk outside now without her face breaking out (I'm not sure if it is heat, an allergy, or the smog.....I do know it cleared up when we visited the country air in Kentucky).
Maybe it is since I visited the Amish iridoligist with my Dad this fall and saw firsthand their knowledge and simplicity of life.
It is probably because I want to be an earthy girl to impress Michael Egan. (That is Matt's suspicion at least).

So I've been doing my little part to try to be halfway green. I now use reusable bags (most of the time) when I shop. This is the best thing to do when you have 2 kids. Just keep your bags together and hand them over when you check out. They hold so much more.......less trips in from the car! They are so much less mess.....no bags to put away and figure out what to do with. Although when I do have to get plastic I reuse them in our bathrooms or for other cleaning projects. I have also found that asking for paper bags to use when I know I need to ship a package or want some fingerpainting paper is a great plan! I know my reusable bags aren't saving the world but they make me feel like I'm making a tiny effort at least.

I've also been using some natural products from Trader Joes that I love. And the reason I can use them is because it is Trader Joe's......I can't afford most of the natural cleaners out there! This all-purpose cleaner is the absolute best I have found. I even buy bottles for my mom because she loves it so much! It smells incredible and really makes everything shine (when you take the time to clean anyway). I've also used the dishwash detergent and made the big step to laundry detergent this week. I always refused to use UNSCENTED cleaners. I love scents.....why do they have to be so bad? But I used this and was amazed how fresh and clean the house smelled after doing laundry with this. It smelled so clean......but am I really eco-friendly if I do 11, yes 11, loads of laundry all at once?

I've also been saving money and indulging myself by making homemade bath salts. A delightful recipe from Jenny! I have used tea tree, cucumber, and lavender essential oils. Such a yummy treat to make for my friends and myself. It really does make your skin so soft.....it also makes you wonder what is in all of the other bath products out there?

So this is what I do well in the way of greenness. And this is what I don't...
I do recycle when I can but sometimes when I'm on a cleaning frenzy I don't take the time to sort through what I should recycle. I refuse to recycle glass though because our pickup service doesn't take it.
I buy organic food only when the price is comparable to the "regular" stuff. We're on a budget.....why does it all have to be so expensive?
I can't worry about EVERYTHING you hear out there. I would stand it constant fear of being poisoned by the packaging of our foods, playing in the park, or even taking a shower. I refuse to let the Green movement take over my life and make my family live in fear of what we are doing wrong.
And sorry, Oprah, I'm NOT putting worms in my kitchen to use for composting.

I'll just use my bags and inexpensive natural cleaning products.....that will be green enough for me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

bloody mary

Thank goodness there is this drink that I can consume at 11:00 am ( after fixing breakfast, dressing myself & two toddlers, my son locking himself in the house & me out, and going to Target with MAJOR temper tantrums) without anyone blinking an eye........

And......thank goodness my friend (who has a 2 1/2 year old daughter too) was joining me on a playdate at 11:00 am who thought a Bloody Mary was exactly what we both needed.

springtime treats

Spring treats are the best......not counting the pollen that drives me crazy! My eyes are almost swollen shut today....aargh!!!
But I'm glad I can squint through the puffiness of my allergies to realize I have these joys to savor.

Zander planting seeds in these adorable little pots. He also planted some seeds outside his playroom window. Cross your fingers and hope something grows for him!

My perennials are starting to bloom this week. I love my irises. They have spread completely to surround both sides of my house this year. What a good drought-hardy plant! They weren't watered at all last year (due to the watering ban) and they still spread beautifully. I love being able to go outside and pick bouquets of flowers!

And a great refreshing glass of lemonade. It was perfect to sip on yesterday in our 80 degree weather while watching the kids play. Here is the recipe that came from my mom & dad (I'm not sure which one perfected the ratio of lemons to sugar, so I'll credit them both).
Juice from 6-7 lemons
2 cups sugar
1 gallon water
Mix together and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

shhhh....we are at the library

I love the library.......I mean I LOVE it. I have a strange love for it. If anyone asked me what I would do for a day if I had all the time in the world I would probably say, "Go to the library and read." When people send out those mass friendship survey emails that ask, "What do you want to do when you retire?". I always immediately think, "Volunteer at the library." When my friend asked, "Where do you find your place of solitude?", I automatically thought to myself, "The library."
You get my point.

So as part of my Community People lesson plans ( and my secret wish to brainwash my kids) we went to the library a couple of weeks ago. I looked online, found our community library, and decided to go right after story time ( so my kids would not be the only loud ones there!).

Before our trip to the library I prepared Zander and Kaya for the adventure into the world of books. I read them books about the library ( anyone who steps foot into my house probably wonders why I think the library is even necessary). We watched a Reading Rainbow show about the library. We were more than fully prepared to go.

Zander was so excited. The entire ride there he kept saying,
"Are we at the library yet, mom? Is that the library, Mom?"
We finally got there and applied for our library card.

The kids (and I) were super-excited to be at the library in Woodstock for the first time. It is really a gorgeous building with so many resources. Zander looked around in awe as we entered and proclaimed, "Wow, Look at all of the books." Kaya, seeing the flower arrangements on all the tables proclaimed, "Wow....flowers."

After we got our card we rushed upstairs to the children's section. I kept telling them, "You have to be quiet. Tiptoe and whisper, this is the library."
They did really well following my instructions.......until story hour ended.

Then all hell broke loose.

Kids came running in all directions. They screamed. They ran. They climbed on the furniture. They did not follow my Tiptoe And Whisper Rule in any shape or form.

So, my kids, being the followers they are, didn't either. We quickly picked 3 books and left.

Not to be disuaded from the visit, I kept talking about the library. The one way I could persuade Zander to leave Grandma & Grandpa's house this weekend was to promise the library. He has asked to go every day this week.

So this morning, after he and Kaya banged the wooden blinds on the windows over & over, I said, "We are not going to the library unless you STOP!" And they stopped. The magic of the library.

And so we went. AND I told the kids "You have to be very quiet and tiptoe at the library." Kaya said, "SHHHH Babies Sleeping," and I just agreed. Zan-Zan said "No running, just Tip-Toeing."

We went in and tiptoed to pick out our books. I only had to shush them once when Zander yelled out, "Mommy, Look, I see a book about Dog Birthday Parties!" Which I, and the librarians ( I think) found simply adorable.

And then......those kids started coming up the stairwell. I thought Oh no, will Zander & Kaya still be good?

And those kids start running, and screaming, and climbing throughout the children's section of the library.

And Zander looks at me with those big brown eyes and says "Look Mom, those boys run through the library."

That would be the slashing through my heart when I have to be BAD MOM and say "I know sweetie, but Zander & Kaya are not allowed to run through the library."

So we look for other books for about 20 seconds before Kaya bolts..........

to the exit door....I sprint and catch her. And in whispering tones scold her and warn Zander.

And then the OTHER kids get louder. And they climb the train (which has signs that clearly state DON'T CLIMB) and run around everywhere. And I notice all of their moms chatting together oblivious to the chaos around them.......And I notice all of them have ONE child to look after, not two.

So we go looking for Z's Bob the Builder Book AND THAT IS WHEN I TURN INTO THE MEANEST MOM EVER.

Because he looks around and sprints................to the Exit Door........and the Alarm to the library goes off.......and I just want to crawl under the carpet and die.

I catch him and say, "We are leaving the library and going straight home." We check out our books and head to the elevator which prompts a major breakdown.......with screaming, thrashing, and biting (I only wish I could have been the one initiating all of those actions). And I look at Zander and say, "If you continue to lose your temper like this, we will NOT go to the Car Wash ( his reward for being good to the library.....yeah, I know I'm sick for including my to-do chores in his reward list, it works!). He continues to throw his fit and in the car is crying continuously that mommy will not let him go to the car wash.

I am truly at wit's end.

I am driving in the car with a screaming child who wants to go to the CarWash and a toddler who is worried because mommy is sad.
I am almost in tears. I don't cry in front of them because I don't want them to think they got me. But oh, they are close. They are so close.
I am contemplating my decision on how to handle the situation. Am I too hard????
I started reflecting on when I was a teacher and some other teachers thought I was way too strict on my students. And how I doubted myself.
Maybe my expectations are too high? They are only 1 and 2..........do they really know how to behave?

And then.........while I just want to keep putting myself down for my methods........my SON.......my PRECIOUS SON, says...
"Mama, I'm sorry. I wasn't a good boy for you in the library."

And then.........all my worries, apprehensions, and doubts melted away.......

He realized what I wanted. And he was sorry, so maybe I'm not so mean.

So then. After his apology, we went home........not to the carwash (that would defeat my discipline strategy) and we read books. Library books. For a while. It wasn't a wasted trip after all.

watch me wednesday (sinking saturday night)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

wedding weekend

This past weekend we traveled to Kentucky for my cousin's wedding. Here is the beautiful bride with her groom...

I was so proud of the kids and how well they did to only be 1 and 2. Zander was the typical male though and kept saying "Is it starting?" (before the wedding) and "Is it over yet?"( during the wedding). Kaya was excited to hear the wedding music and kept saying "Kaya play piano please." One day Kaya.....
Uncle Michael and Aunt TeTe helped to keep them entertained.

I felt so old seeing Rebecca getting married. I used to babysit her and her 2 sisters (below). I remember putting all 3 of them in the back seat of my old Buick to go to the pool......all while blasting out their ears with my singing and loud music. They were such good girls and I always loved watching them whenever the chance came about. Here are the two other sisters, Lora & Felisha.

Zander especially liked the reception. The food, punch, cake, and going to the potty were great fun for him!

He was also excited to see his cousin Kelsie.

Speaking of cousins, I was excited to see mine too. We have so many memories from childhood (most good, except for a few squabbles here & there!). That is the only thing I don't like about living away from home.....all of the family I miss seeing. I guess that just makes each visit more special. Here are the 4 oldest girl cousins- Amy, Angela, myself, and Kim. Angela is the oldest (who always bossed us around, she also kept us well entertained). Amy is her sister and closest to my age, only 4 months apart. She is sweet and happy-go-lucky. She got along well with everyone, I think she was the only one usually not involved with fussing.
Kim is the youngest. She was the tomboy who loved cars (having 2 older brothers makes that easy to understand). Now she is such a hardworking, dependable, and fun person whom everyone loves. And I suppose they would describe me as the nerdy one who only wanted to read, not go out & explore or ride bikes. Not much has changed!

It is a blessing to have so many family members I love and enjoy so much!

my favorite wedding weekend

Speaking of wedding weekends, I went to my favorite wedding on this day exactly 8 years ago......

Happy Anniversary Mattie!!! Love you.....Wifey

Sunday, April 20, 2008

a backyard package

A few months ago, when Matt went on his Vegas trip, he brought Zander & Kaya 2 of the Backyardigan characters. They were absolutely thrilled......but of course Zander then thought he needed the Blue Backyard. The funny thing about this was that he thought his Dad had to go back to Vegas to get a Blue Backyard.

A week later two of our favorite friends came to visit and Zander asked them if they could go to Vegas to get him a Blue Backyard.
And because they are the best in the world, they did manage to find the Blue Backyard for Zan-Zan. They went to The World of Nickoledeon instead of Vegas but Zander didn't know the difference. (Although I'm sure Ben would have preferred to travel to Vegas instead!)

Here Zander and Kaya are opening their package up with such anticipation.....

Look at our backyards!!!

And finally, A Backyard HAT!!!

Thanks Nelsons......we love our treats and can't wait for you to move closer to us!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

tea party treats

Another novelty is the tea-party, an extraordinary meal in that, being offered to persons that have already dined well, it supposes neither appetite nor thirst, and has no object but distraction, no basis but delicate enjoyment. ~ Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

answer to routines, rituals, and ruts

I am always inspired by this wonderful friend of mine but especially loved one of her most recent posts that talked about routines throughout the day. This is what she had to say,
The truth is, even in my "laid back take the day as it comes" mode, there is ritual. Things I am either in the habit of doing or enjoy so much they make their way into my days without any plan.

So this got me to thinking about my day-to-day activities. I so often think of myself as the laid back kind of gal.....then I take a look around my house. I suppose I'm laid back in some respects but I do a lot of planning and organizing that probably doesn't scream "LAID BACK" to anyone who enters my domestic palace.


I love to plan my weekly menu. And I love to post it on my chalkboard in the kitchen. Every Monday this is something I do and I secretly love it. I especially love when I have time to peruse my cookbooks to plan especially spectacular or adventurous meals. And I love to plan my grocery list by aisle and coded by the coupons I have clipped. After all of this organization, I love looking at my receipt and proudly noticing I saved so many dollars! I think this is what keeps me sane after I have just stopped the slap-fest between Z & K in the checkout aisle. This little planning ritual of mine makes me feel so together.........even if nothing else gets accomplished within my abode that week.


Oh how I love staying at home with my kiddos but sometimes I do feel stuck in a rut. So the other day I decided to make this little plan for April. Our themes for the month are Community Helpers, The Letters H & I, and the Color Green.
Yes, I do see how this will prompt many of you to laugh out loud at me for going back to my former teaching days. It isn't that I think planned lessons are necessary for the growth and development of my kids it is necessary for my sanity. How many times can I watch the same Handy Manny show or play with the Elmo Garage with Zander before I lose my mind? I need our little activities to break up the day as much as they do. And they seem to be learning with it while I get to do something I enjoy, just an extra bonus.

So it seems to me that the only way I can get to an easy-going state of mind is to have some order in my daily, weekly, and monthly life. I'd like to think that I was just so cool with whatever but to be honest I suppose I'm not. I don't always 100% follow through on my planning, but at least I have a plan. And that is what gives me peace.


Getting up at 6:00 to savor my coffee and share my thoughts with you.......

I hope your ruts, rituals, and routines bring you much happiness today.

Friday, April 11, 2008

friday treats

I decided to listen to some of you and rest & take it easy. At least for today. And it has been great......I have done no housework, no cooking, I didn't even make up my bed.

I took over an hour to shower, dress, do my hair, makeup, and nails (Whoaaa....that is huge) today-which is about 70 minutes more than I usually spend on myself. I was getting all fixed up to go have a kid-free lunch with this cutie.

After our lunch date I went shopping at a nice, leisurely pace. It was quite nice to shop and not continuously referee the two little ones! I went to my favorite store, Trader Joes, to get some yummy fruit & snacks and these bright happy roses for myself.

I then traveled on to my favorite bookstore, Bookmiser, which sells used books. I love their selection and the atmosphere. I also love trading in my books for store credit! I usually walk out with way more books than I could possibly read in a reasonable amount of time but today I only selected these treasures.

So now, I think I'll continue treating myself and go watch The View that I recorded. What were your Friday treats?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

recuperation activities

Now that I'm back on the full-time job of wife, mother, teacher, maid, etc....
I thought I'd reflect on my recuperation activities of the past two weeks. It was quite wonderful to know my kids were in the best of hands and be treated like a princess non-stop by my mom. So recuperating from surgery is good for something!

I loved it that Zander and Kaya acted like it was a great treat to see me when I wasn't resting or sleeping. I even had the joy of giving Zander some cross-stitching lessons. He loved it so much that I ordered him some lacing cards from schoolbox so he could sew by himself.

I read a lot of books. My favorites were Change of Heart, The Sunflower (if you're looking for a warm, romantic, feel-goodie, this is it), and The Undomestic Goddess.

On afternoons when the weather was nice, I would go outside and watch the kids play. They have become quite addicted to popsicles now. Wouldn't this face make anyone feel good?

And I think I read 20-30 magazines. I know all there is to know now about the celebrity gossip world, how to be a green family, and the best diets out there that are guaranteed to make you look fabulous. I also found tons of recipes I'm eager to try. Which prompted this little project.....on one of my last day of recoveries (which still wore me out, I went to bed before 8). Family Circle had this recipe on one of its covers-I could not resist making these adorable pupcakes!

So that what I was up to while recovering. What would you have done?

Now it is back to getting up an hour before the kids to have some time alone, making lists of things to do , planning play-dates, writing lessons, grocery lists, cooking dinners, cleaning the house, planting flowers.........

Sounds like I need to jump to it, huh?

Saturday, April 5, 2008

how does your garden grow?

Zan-Zan and Bugga, Oh how I love ya,
How does your garden grow?

While wearing sock gloves,
We add water and love.
To make a perfect flowering show.

Thank you Mom & Zander for planting such pretty flowers for me to display on the front porch. They are so cheerful and welcoming.......like both of you!!!