Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Honey Cookies

Life is so busy these days!  Not "I've over-scheduled my family busy," just "I have a lot of kids and a house to take care of busy."  Throw in my adventure with a friend in creating a community charity project, fitting in exercise, and dabbling in a new adventure (to be disclosed at a later date!) and that equals up to not enough hours in a day.  Considering the days begin at 5:30 and don't end until 10:00, that's saying something!

I've continued with the Couch to 5K program and have to finish up week 6 this evening or tomorrow morning.  It's gone pretty well and I hope my body continues to hold up for the Color Me Rad race at the end of  August.  Once school resumes and the baby is a bit older, I think I'll be ready to hit the gym again and start working on strength training and other cardio activities, too.  While the baby weight is slowly coming off, I still have a long way to go!  (The recipe at the bottom of this post won't help, either!).  

We've tried to stay busy over the past few weeks.  The kids have begun to fight more since they've been together every day for weeks, but summer vacation is drawing to a close.  While that makes me a little sad, and admittedly our summer was not as fun and pleasant as I had hoped, I am looking forward to some structure again.  I am not, however, looking forward to rushing around in the morning and getting everyone out the door or the grouchiness that comes out once school is over.  It will definitely be an adjustment period for us all again!

On this rainy day, I decided to pull out one of my favorite cookie recipes from long ago:  Honey Bee Cookies.  We purchased some local honey from the fI don't make them often, but when I do, they're gone quickly!  Enjoy!

Honey Bee Cookies
from Alpha Bakery Children's Cookbook

1/2 c. margarine or butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon

Beat butter, brown sugar, honey, and egg in a medium bowl on medium speed, scraping bowl constantly until smooth.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  (The dough will not be thick like regular cookie dough).  Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet (I put parchment paper on mine).  Bake at 375 degrees until set and light brown around edges (surfaces of cookies will appear shiny), 7 to 9 minutes.  Let stand 3 to 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. 

Dough is sticky, but not very stiff

The finished product!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Great Potty-Training Debate

Sometime between the second and the third year most people decide that it's time to get their kiddo potty-trained.  While it's a necessary step in life, it can also be one that is filled with anxiety, frustration, and admit it, irritation.  Cleaning up messes around the house is not fun.  Taking your kiddo to the potty every twenty minutes limits what you can do during the day and gets old for the child as well.  So, what do you do?  Do you push potty-training onto your child or wait until they express interest and, in a sense, make the decision on their own?

In this day and age of what I like to call "competitive parenting," this can spark a little debate.  No offense out there parents, but we're all guilty of bragging about how early our child did this or how great our child is at that.  We take pride in our child's accomplishments and love to push them into things they just might not be ready for to keep up with the Jones'.  While it may not seem like a big deal to give them a little push, it may be a problem if they're not developmentally ready and experience a great deal of failure.  It can lead to frustration for the child and the parents and actually discourage them from mastering a task.    

This is the philosophy I try to adhere to when potty-training.  I have yet to push any of my kiddos into it.  Yes, it would be nice save the money on diapers and I could stop answering the "When is so-and-so going to be potty-trained" questions.  In the end, though, I truly feel like when they're ready, they'll do it.  We usually get the potty out sometime after they turn two and set it in the bathroom where they bathe.  Trying to go before taking a bath has always led to their first successful pee in the potty.  We make a big deal about it.  We clap and cheer and dance around like we're supposed to, but we don't push it any further than that.  Soon it becomes a habit to sit and try before getting into the bathtub, but that may be the only time they use it for months.

Then, almost magically, one day they ask to sit on the potty at another time.  They may or may not go, but the interest is there.  We'll ask throughout the day if they want to go, but never push the issue.  Soon they want to try and more times than not they are successful.  It seems that once we've reached this point, they are ready to take the plunge into potty-training.  We've just entered that phase with our little guy.

Sometime late last week he began disappearing into the bathroom, ripping off his diaper, and proudly exclaiming that he had gone potty.  It was a happy day for us all.  He is by far our most independent and stubborn child and I knew that potty-training him was definitely going to be on his terms.  On my trip to Target over the weekend, I picked up some training pants and now that's all he wants to wear.  We call them practice underwear and he loves them. We've had a few accidents over the past few days, but his progress has been fast and with very little struggle.  In just a matter of a few days, he's also stayed dry over night.  Unfortunately this means he's waking at 5:00 to go to the bathroom, but hey, we'll take it.

We'll see if it continues.  I am hoping we're on our way to being a one-kid-in-diapers household again, but if it's just not the right time, that's okay, too.  He'll get there in his own time and we'll all be happier if that's the route we take.  After all, who wants to fight with a kid with a loaded "weapon" that could spray all over you at any time?  Not me!  I was peed on enough when he was a baby!  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Funday!

Just a brief post on this beautiful Sunday morning.  A few days ago, I finally went to my Pinterest page and did one of the outdoor summer activities with the kids that I had pinned:  sidewalk paint.  It was super easy to do and they had a lot of fun.  We used foam brushes, but I would suggest a thicker bristle brush instead.  The paint dries like chalk, so our driveway is now a canvas of brightly colored drawings by the kids.  It is supposed to easily wash off with water, but since we've had no rain lately, we'll just leave it!

Sidewalk Paint

Food Coloring

In a muffin tin measure out 1 tablespoon of corn starch for each hole.  Add 6-10 drops of food coloring (the more dye, the brighter the color).  Take outside and add some water.  It will start off thick, but as you stir turn it will turn into a nice, smooth paint.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer is for Grilling

All of the sudden time seems to be going really fast.  It's Thursday and I'm still stuck at least a day behind.  We've had a very busy week, though, so it definitely makes the time go faster.  We've been busy marking things off of our bucket list the past week.  The kids have had a lot of fun and we're over halfway there!  How is your summer bucket list coming along?

I have been slacking a bit in the meal preparation department.  Being unable to eat dairy really takes the fun out of cooking.  You have no idea how good pizza (with cheese!) sounds or some cold ice cream.  The things we do for our kiddos, right?  I don't want time to go quickly with her, so I will treasure the months ahead, suck it up and try to enjoy eating out of my comfort zone.

Tonight I decided to try something new for dinner:  a homemade chicken marinade that I found online. It was really quite simple and contains items you probably have in your pantry.  I used some of the new products I purchased that are part of our goal of cleaning up our food and limiting (ideally eliminating) GMO products:  organic canola oil and soy sauce.    The canola oil I purchased from Amazon and found the organic soy sauce at Target.  Since soy and canola are both on the high-risk list, I was pretty excited to find them!  I made this recipe for two chicken breasts, but it would easily work for four.  

Chicken Marinade
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar

Mix together with a whisk, pour over chicken, and let marinate for at least four hours.  Longer would be best.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Sleep Battle

If there was one aspect of parenting I was not prepared for it could easily be summed up in one word:  sleep.  I fully understood that I would not get a lot of sleep once I brought the baby home.  What I didn't understand was that the sleep issues would continue well past the first birthday.  Once we work through an issue, we get all excited and think, "Yes!  It's over!"  Ha!  Now multiply that by four and we've got ourselves a lot of years of fun ahead.

We've never been blessed with good sleepers until Baby #4.  The Princess gave us a little reprieve for about six weeks, but then at three months began to wake frequently again and continued to wake during the night until 15 months.  Of all of our kids, she slept through the night first.  Our oldest was over two and our little guy was 18 months.  Sweet little Baby #4 has been giving me long stretches at night for several weeks.  Bless her.  

Once we got to sleeping through the night, we thought we were set.  Then there came time changes, moving to a toddler bed, full bladders that woke them prematurely, nightmares, and independence.  While we went through our trials and tribulations with our older two, never did it last as long as it has with our little guy.  This boy has more will and stubbornness than the rest of our children combined.  He was a horrible sleeper as a baby, spent about 8 months sleeping great, and has been a real pill since he learned to climb out of his crib right after Thanksgiving.  We thought this would just be a little glitch and we'd move on, but it's been months of bedtime struggles and nap refusals.  Some days we take a ride so he can get some sleep during the day, because nap or no nap he's going to fight us tooth and nail to go to bed and it's going to be much later than it should be.  

My husband and I disagree on how to handle the situation.  We've tried several different approaches:  rewards for staying in bed, punishment for getting out, checking in on him every few minutes, praise for being in bed, etc.  I have had enough of the epic battles, so we will be starting from scratch and trying to reboot this boy.  First step:  since he climbs out of his crib all of the time anyway, I plan to move the toddler bed into his room.  He has not wanted it, but I think we're going to try it.  Second step:  removing all of the toys out of his room to cut down on distractions.  The only thing left for the time being is books.  Third step:  room darkening curtains.  I'm going to give these three steps a try and see if we see any improvement.

He is also the king of bargaining at bedtime.  "Rock me one more minute."  "Scratch me in again."  "I need some water."  "I'm not ready!"  "The sun is still up!"  You get the point.  I think we need to stick to a very firm bedtime routine:  stories, songs, a few minutes of quiet rocking, in bed, a little drink, a little scratch, good night.  I don't think this will go over particularly well, but it's worth a try!

I know this, too, shall pass.  I really wish it would have passed months ago, but it has to end sometime, right?  Probably just in time for Baby #4 to start in with some sleep antics...