Thursday, 4/17/14

The stomach bug, shopping, and shoes.

I’ll give you one chance to guess who came down with the stomach virus on Monday…. just one. And another guess as to who went shopping at Marshall’s on Tuesday because everyone knows the cure to the stomach virus is spending money, right?

Wrong.

I was at Marshall’s because I was looking for something to wear for Easter that color coordinates with my children’s outfits. No, I’m not that mom… I just play one on TV (or least I’m trying to this year!).

The problem is that I’m nursing so all cute dresses are out. At least any cute one at Marshall’s. And I’m not huge on button down shirts. Yeah, I know, huge problem.

I’d love to be wearing something like this on Sunday morning

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.53.30 PM

Or like this

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.54.36 PM

But it has yet to be an acceptable practice to pull an entire dress up over your breast in public to nurse, and that would be one large nursing blanket!

So now I’m trying to think of what I might own that I could wear that might be somewhat in style. Which reminds me, did you know the 80s are back? True story. As I was heading into Marshall’s I was hanging up from talking to my sister, Dottie. She warned me, “Hey, let me know if when you get into Marshall’s you feel like you stepped into mom’s attic.”

“Oh no,” I moaned. “It’s the 80s isn’t it? I can’t wear the 80s again. I already wore them.”

“Yeah, me too,” she said, “Cause I got your hand-me-downs.”

Which actually means she wore the 80s in the 90s because she’s 12 years younger than I am. That made us laugh even more hysterically, to the point where Ryan piped up from the backseat, “What’s so funny, mommy?”

I didn’t leave Marshall’s empty-handed though. I did manage to buy some pillows for the family room. Super important purchase.  And some Easter shoes for Ryan. He wanted these..

IMG_7413

But instead ended up with these…

IMG_7421

The practical mother in me knows that dress shoes will only be worn once and at least the tennis shoes are functional. Can I get an amen?

I happened to see this dress… please, please don’t make me wear something like this. I beg of you.

IMG_7420

To the little teeny-boppers and young hipsters who think they’re all cool for wearing something like this, I have news for you…. been there done that. We’re way ahead of you on this one. Now I know how my mom felt when we wore wide-legged “bootcut” pants (aka bell bottoms).

I’m headed shoe shopping with the girls today for Easter. Pray for me.

Wednesday, 4/16/14

Resurrection Cookies Recipe

We’ve done these cookies a few times now and I definitely want to do them again this year. I want you to do them too! So I’m giving you the recipe today. The recipe also appears in my 40-day family devotional for Easter. Give them a try. They’re a great way to anticipate Easter morning.

Slide1

***First, preheat the oven to 300 degrees.***

Ingredients:
1 c. whole pecans
1 tsp vinegar
3 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
1 c. of sugar

You will need:
Mixing bowl
Wooden spoon
Bible
Ziplock baggie
Wax paper
Cookie sheet
Tape
Mixer

Place pecans in the baggie and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. (Read John 19: 1-3)

Let the children smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. into a mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. (Read John 19: 28-30)

Add the egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave his life for us. (Read John 10: 10-11)

Sprinkle a little salt into the children’s hand and let them taste it, then brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that it represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers and the bitterness of our own sin. (Read Luke 23:27)

 

So far the ingredients aren’t very appetizing. Add 1 cup of sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of this story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. (Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16)

Beat with mixer on high speed for 11-15 minutes until stiff peaks form. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. (Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3)

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. (Read Matthew 27: 65-66)

Put cookie sheet in oven. Close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give the child a piece of tape and seal the door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. (Read Matthew 27:65-66)

Explain they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. (Read John 16:20 and 22)

Go to bed!

On Resurrection morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie!

Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Resurrection Day, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. (Read Matthew 28: 1-9)

This was a really fun activity with the girls. They were mostly into it! Sometimes the explanation of the scriptures were a little in depth for a five and three year old, but it was still worth doing. Initially I only had a piece of tape on either side of the oven. Natalie said, “No, mommy. Put some all across here (sweeping her arm across the oven door). That way no body can get in.”

When the girls woke up on Sunday morning they hurried downstairs and excitedly pulled the tape off the oven. It was neat to see how excited they were about the cookies and seeing what the surprise was (the hollow cookie representing the empty tomb).

Friday, 4/11/14

Pride comes before the stomach bug.

Piper had her 4 month check up yesterday. I told the doctor that other than a cold here or there my kids rarely get sick. Henry had a stomach bug a few weeks back and no one else seemed to get it, even though he purposefully shared his germs with me (granted he had no idea he was sick at the time). Speaking of that… last night he wanted to put our salsa in separate bowls so he didn’t get my germs…. this is the man who USES MY TOOTHBRUSH without a second thought and to my chagrin, but somehow last night didn’t want to share bowls in case I double-dipped. This is only one example of how I truly don’t understand this man! But back to the subject at hand….

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was telling the doctor how healthy we all are. And somehow deep inside I was proud of this as if I have anything to do with their little immune systems.

So at 4 o’clock when a very happy little boy started puking his pizza all over the dining room floor, splashing my slippers and the two area rugs at the same time, I couldn’t believe it. Hadn’t I just bragged to the doctor that Henry had a stomach bug and NO ONE else got it. A 2-week delay?

Natalie rushed Ryan’s play mate home (I later called his grandmother to apologize) and I spent the next three hours getting Ryan to a trashcan or the toilet every 15 minutes. Sometimes with an infant stuck to my boob and sometimes in the middle of making dinner.

Two syllables that will change your life:  ZO-FRAN.   Zofran is the anti-nausea medicine that cancer patients and morning-sick mothers take. Our doctor had just told me that afternoon that they’re now prescribing it to kids when they have a stomach virus. It limits the vomiting and helps them keep liquids down. So when I called afterhours saying I needed something STAT she called in a prescription for our little boy blue. Henry picked it up for us on the way home (along with apple juice, gatorade and saltines).  Ryan didn’t really throw up after that. He had a few waves of nausea, but I was up with him more in the night to go pee than anything.

This morning I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. I’m going off-list today so be scared… very scared people. I canceled my morning plans so have a whole 3 hours I didn’t know I was going to get. I’m starting by cleaning the first floor while my son watches Disney Junior all morning. This is going to defeat the purpose of limiting his screen time for the last 2 weeks in an effort to feel like a better mom, but he’s recovering and needs rest.

Who knows what will happen after that…. heck, who am I kidding? That will probably take me the full 3 hours!  Have a great weekend, folks…. I’m hoping to keep the rest of the hobbits and myself healthy! I’ve got Girl Scouts to lead on Monday….

 

Thursday, 4/10/14

4 easy ways to change your child’s bad mood

Slide1

With the number of girls in our house, it’s inevitable that someone wakes up on the wrong side of the bed several mornings a week. We like to rotate through so as not to jam up any one morning with too many grouchy pants, which can be good since the rest of us can absorb the craziness, or bad since you don’t double up your efforts on any one day meaning you space it out and have to deal with it more often.  Hmmm. Anywho… here are the steps I employ to make sure I’m sending Susie Sunshines to school instead of Pouty Patties.

1. Confront the issue head-on. Give a big lecture about how happiness is a choice and the weather isn’t in my/our control so we might as well get over the fact that we have to wear pants and not shorts to school today. (or whatever is bothering your child)

2. After a lecture doesn’t work, tell her to get over it in a stern voice because obviously I am going to have to choose happiness for her since she can’t get there herself.

3. Realize combatting grouchiness with grouchiness breeds more grouchiness and switch tactics.

4. Tell a knock-knock joke that only your son thinks is funny because clearly your daughter is too cool to laugh at knock knock jokes.

5. Ask her about the fun she had at the birthday party she attended over the weekend. Specifically, what was it like to ride on a camel?

6. Tell a story from your own life/childhood that relates. This morning – me riding on an elephant with my cousins when I was about her age.

7. Read morning devotional and pray with kids.

8. Send smiling children off with a kiss.

The real tactics here:

1. Get them out of their head (have them list 5 things they’re grateful for…. if they’re really obsessing have them list 5 things that are going right in their lives. This employs another set of emotions).

2. Help them change emotion by getting them to think of something happy they’ve done… a good memory, a great meal, a favorite person.

3. Move them to a happy place with a story of your own life… this helps them relate to you as a person, deepens bonds, and gives them a generally good feeling of belonging.

4. Not employed this morning, but also works: have a tickle fest, a water fight, an impromtu dance party.

What do you do to help brighten spirits in your house?

Wednesday, 4/9/14

Motherhood and the Unexpected

motherhood and the unexpected

As I sit here with milk leaking across the right side of my shirt because my darling daughter slept through the night for the second time in a row I think of all the things I didn’t expect from this motherhood thing. I certainly didn’t expect to wake up with soaked shirts and swollen, sore breasts. I didn’t expect for motherhood to work its way into every nook and cranny of my 24 hour-days and 365-day years.

I didn’t expect to have little bodies sit on my lap while I do my bathroom business, little eyes peer through fogged up glass while I wash my parts, or little voices call out in the night to interrupt dreams of quiet beaches and personal space.

It’s been a little more than nine years since Natalie made me a mother, came into the world with a crop of black hair and blessed me with a mother-love so big I thought my chest would explode. I certainly didn’t expect that. I didn’t expect to love my child and my mother in such a new way that chains couldn’t hold me back and mountains couldn’t separate.

Less than two years later and a little brown-haired baby shocked my soul again and left me deep in a pit of figuring out how to mother two little hobbits at one time while keeping a part of me for me. I certainly didn’t expect staying at home with them to be such a monotonous, mind-numbing, time-consuming, soul-drying task. I spent eighteen months trying to figure out how to put on six shoes, zip three coats, and pack one large diaper bag before leaving the house. Even as I type it there’s no way to convey how sweaty and stressful it can be to chase a toddler to the car while carrying a floppy infant and a heavy bag day after day after day.

And how can I ever write in one small paragraph the ground-shaking, earth-moving, soul-wracking event of having a baby that is about to die every single moment of every single day for the first year of his life? I didn’t expect that either. Blind-sided by a little heart so broken and out of place, that made my mother-heart break over and over into little pieces so much that once put back together barely resembles that which it once was. Who could imagine the put-back-together heart with its crude taped-together pieces would be stronger and feel more deeply than its “healthy” counterpart? Not me… certainly not me.

And this fourth go around, with her sister-black hair and her other-sister chin and her heart as healthy as can be? This soul who forced her way into this world without her parents’ planning, choosing to come uninvited, but welcome at the party nonetheless… this child is a healing balm to all of us reminding us that babies do come in perfect packaging.  As I watch her siblings dote on her and her father kiss her cheeks I know she was always meant to be a part of us. As I look down at her trusting eyes while she sucks contently on my life-giving breast, I know deep down that we wouldn’t have lived life fully without her. Wouldn’t have known again what normal is.

So I sigh as I change my milk-stained shirt, lean in on the little back that warms my lap, draw circles on fogged up glass to look back at innocent eyes and wearily answer nightly calls to cover up cold feet, fill up empty cups, and empty out full bladders. Because this motherhood thing, with all its demands and frustrations, its high points and low points, has the ability to stretch me so thin I think I’ll snap while at the same time filling my soul to the point of overflowing.  And who would have expected that?

Certainly not me.

Monday, 4/7/14

Piper – Four Months!

Piper turned four months on Friday. I didn’t post about it because as much as I hate to confess it, I thought her birthday was December 5. It’s December 4. Not sure how I got all this confused, but what can I say, she’s my fourth and I can only hold so many dates in my head. I really need to work on this. Just sayin’.

IMG_7235

Let’s see, milestones this month – - about 3 weeks ago she started grabbing onto things when they came in contact with her hand. Therefore, we’ve all been cleaning clumps of hair from her fists that she’s ripped from our heads anytime we put her down. It’s a very popular pastime as you can imagine.

IMG_7276

She can almost roll over. She had her legs all the way over on Saturday but her upper body was still lying sideways caught on an arm underneath. We’re still careful not to leave her anywhere elevated as she kicks off with her legs and rotates herself in a circle. And as a wise nursery worker once told me, just because they couldn’t do it yesterday doesn’t mean they can’t do it today.

IMG_7284

She found her thumb, her first two fingers, and her two middle fingers. She sucks all three interchangeably. Clearly she’s adaptable. Most people in large families are. I think. Well, now that I think that through, maybe not. But she is. I’m claiming that for her future.

IMG_7298

She’s refusing the bottle so she’s with me almost every waking moment. None of my other three were ever like this. She’s getting to the place where if she can’t see me she cries. I don’t mean a whimper or two, I mean a full-on “I’m mad” cry. Directly related?

I noticed Sunday her watching her hand as she brought it across to grab her wubbanub that was sitting in her lap. It’s the first I’ve seen her move her hand to intentionally pick something up. She picked up her little cow and started chewing on his tail. Score! It’s time to bring out some fun little infant toys for her to play with.

IMG_7309

Last, but not least, she got the cutest little flower hat the other day. Almost as cute as her…. Doctor visit this Thursday. So no stats until then.

Friday, 4/4/14

UBP 2014!

Welcome. If you’re coming today via the UBP 2014, I am Leighann, mom to four children and wife to one.. ain’t no sister wife in this house ’cause this mama don’t play that.

Natalie’s 9, Ainsley’s 7, Ryan’s 5, and Piper’s 4 months tomorrow, but who’s counting. And really by the time you get to four, you’re lucky if you can string a sentence together properly. You can find more about our family on the About page.

I’m a writer by trade and love to connect with new people online. On this blog I share a little of everything – family life, recipes, crafting, traveling reviews and opinions. My hope is that others find encouragement that they aren’t alone in this motherhood thing.

I also hope that those facing tough situations can find strength in our family’s story. Our son, Ryan, has several serious and uncommon heart defects – the two most prominent are ectopia cordis (he was born with his heart outside of his chest) and hypoplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS; his right ventricle doesn’t work). He is the FIRST survivor of a combination of these types of defects so we’re pretty proud of him. He also visited the “dinosaur museum” this week.  He’s the one in the middle with the red, long-necked dinosaur on his t-shirt (can you tell the majority of my kids are girls, since I have no idea what that long-necked dinosaur is called?) You can read all about him here.

IMG_7328

If you’re here for the party, let me know you stopped by. I’d love to be able to visit with you too. If you’re a regular reader, let me just tell you how strange this week has been.  Since my accident last week, I cut my thumb while slicing sweet potatoes. I can’t remember the last time I cut myself on a knife. It’s hurts somethin’ fierce since apparently I use my thumb to do  e v e r y t h i n g.

I got glass in my other hand yesterday morning while cleaning because I broke a glass putting away dishes. It was a tiny sliver, big enough to see and small enough to pull out with a pair of tweezers. Since I had the tweezers out, I plucked a few stray brow hairs and a rogue chin hair before plucking out the piece of glass. Multi-tasking at it’s best if I do say so myself.

I used the same pair of tweezers last night as Ryan had a tick burrowing into his head (note: reminder to check all your kids who are starting spring sports as ticks love to lay eggs in fields). I’ll be calling the pediatrician this morning to see if he needs checked out. The good news is that it was a sizable tick, definitely not a deer tick, but I’m not playing games with this thing. I’d rather be safe than sorry though. The girls thought it was the grossest thing they’d ever seen and I’m not going to lie that watching it wiggle as it tried to dig into his scalp made my stomach turn. Thank goodness he sat still for me while I extracted it and displayed much less drama than his sisters did. Yuck! I’m gonna see that thing in my dreams tonight.

Then the girls dropped a pyrex bowl in the bathtub (why in the world they thought it was a good idea to play with a glass bowl in the bathroom I’ll never know). The glass shattered, of course, and sprayed Ainsley’s foot with microscopic shards. One or two of which cut her. It was awful. But she lived and so did I after nearly having a coronary trying to clean the shards off her foot without furthering injuring her or getting more glass in my hand. It was about this time I started thinking how ridiculous that last few days have been.

IMG_7347

Lest you think all was lost, I was able to get my hair cut on Thursday… while nursing and holding a 4 month old because we all know how relaxing that is. And fun. Add a 5 yr old boy sitting off to the side into the mix and you’ve got yourself a regular day at the spa.

I was also proud of myself for getting my yard cleaned up on Wednesday afternoon. I told the kids they were allowed to gather AS MANY STICKS as they could to make a fake fire up on the hill near their home-made teepee. You know, live like the natives of old. They thought this was the best idea they’d ever heard and that I am the nicest mom ever to let them have my sticks.

IMG_7343

I’m hoping they pass on this awe to their sister who so far is not impressed with my mothering skills.

IMG_7351

Nope. Not impressed at all… hope you guys have a great weekend.

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

Tuesday, 4/1/14

Baseball and soccer all in the same day.

With baseball opening day came the start of soccer as well. Spring sure is in full force around here.  Natalie had her first soccer practice last night and Ainsley will have hers on Wednesday. We’re back to eating dinner on the run and sitting on the sidelines.  At least the weather was somewhat nicer than it’s been (sunny with no snow!). Natalie is the one in the black shorts and white shirt on the lefthand side.

DSC02128

Since the field was still a bit soggy, I backed into a spot and threw open the back hatch. While I nursed Piper there, Ainsley sat in Piper’s seat and did her homework. I guess it was cozy. Ha!

DSC02130

After homework, Ains and Ryan ran off to play with friends while Piper and I watched the rest of practice.

DSC02132

 

I’m looking forward to another great season.

Monday, 3/31/14

Spring has officially started! {Opening Day 2014}

All winter Ryan asked to watch the Pirates on tv… we kept telling him they don’t play until the spring. Guess what?  The Pirates’ season opener started today at 1:05 pm.

IMG_7300

The look on Ryan’s face when he saw the Pirates on tv!

When I turned on the pre-game and said we were going to watch the Pirates, Ryan said, “You mean it’s springtime?”  Yes, bud, it’s Springtime.

IMG_7303

 

He immediately started chanting, “Let’s go Bucs, Let’s go Bucs.”

Being the naive mom I am I jumped on the internet Friday to see if I could get tickets for today’s game. Nada. Nothing. Not even seats that weren’t together. Apparently they’ve been sold out for weeks. Who knew? It’s the first season the Pirates have taken to the field on opening day coming off a winning season. The last time that happened was in 1993 – 20 years ago. They hold the record for the longest losing streak of ANY professional sports team in the entire Unites States of America.

When they were introducing the line up, Ryan said, “I like that guy” when Andrew McCutchen came out of the dugout. “Me too!” I said. Then he said it again with the next guy.  I said, “Which one do you like?”  He pointed to the big Parrot mascot near the dugout and said, “That one. He’s green. I like him!”   Duh! The boy is 5 after all.

Here’s to a great season.