Chesed

WFMW: Cold Remedies

Zara is absolutely miserable with a bad cold.  Actually I suspect she has the flu.  She wasn’t a very happy baby Friday and Saturday when we were in Virginia which I easily attributed to being away from home.  Saturday during the night she spiked a fever.  Don’t you just love that ultimate version of Mom guilt? Hi, we came to visit you and now we have the flu so hopefully we’re only leaving good memories and not germs.  Gah.

At any rate, her fever left yesterday, but she’s left with a cough and a nose that erupts like Old Faithful only I’m pretty sure the timeframe is less than every twenty minutes.

I’ve learned a few things about colds in kids in the last ten years and, not surprisingly, I’m still learning.  Babies really should come with an instructional manual. About the time Adam was born, they pulled most cold remedies off the shelf.  At the time I thought it was pretty unfair. What? They’re just supposed to deal with the symptoms? The past few years I’ve gravitated toward a slightly more holistic approach so I’m not sure exactly where I fit in right now.  I mostly know that I scream prevention and still fail to do all of the things I preach.  Like the fact that my favorite flu prevention is Vit D consumption and we’ve yet to swallow one dose this year.

So did you know that a cold lasts a very long time (10 days to 2 weeks) and that the peak day is day 5? I didn’t either until Zara was a month old and so sick with a cold that I absolutely could not wake her.  We landed in the pediatricians office where she, of course, woke up and appeared more well than she had at home.  He said, “Let’s see, this is day 5. That’s usually when we see babies because they keep getting worse and by day 5 parents are nearly panicked.” To be honest, I think I panicked more when she did not have one wet diaper for a period of almost twelve hours and finally put out a few reddish crystals instead of urine on day six.  Her pediatrician still wasn’t worried and I finally eeked enough milk into her with a syringe to help her revive enough for a semi-normal feeding and suddenly we saw her eyes again.

So there you have it.  Baby is worrisomely sick and it’s day three? You probably need help before she crumps.  Day five and it’s bad but respirations are still normal? Hopefully this is as bad as it’s going to get.

But the best thing I learned last winter is that eucalyptus oil does a beautiful job of helping with coughs.  Unkers and Vicks have been good friends of ours for years.  We slather the kids chests and their feet, then put socks on them when we tuck them in at night.  Adam can handle straight Vicks, but Liam’s skin is sensitive so I either use Baby Vicks or put a very thin layer of Vaseline on his chest and then a layer of Vicks.  I just about can’t bring myself to put even baby Vicks on a teeny tiny baby’s chest, but I would put it on the soles of their feet.  Interestingly, Vicks contains eucalyptus and lavender oil.  After reading an article about oils for colds, I decided to try it.  The next time Zara got sick, I added 6 drops of eucalyptus oil to our regular warm air humidifier and set it next to her crib.  Amazingly, she coughed less when first getting up than she had before she went to bed.  Quite unlike the normal wake up and cough and cough and cough types of scenarios that happen normally.  I loved it because I wasn’t putting anything strong directly on her skin and I wasn’t using any petroleum products. (Told you I’ve been edging toward the other side.) ;) One of these days I’m going to find a carrier oil we can all use and make my own cough rub. :)

UPDATE: Soon after posting this, a friend — thanks, Carmen! — with far more experience in essential oils messaged me about eucalyptus oil and said it’s dangerous in babies with epilepsy. Zara is up and gu-rouchy so I need to do more research but two quick links confirm these concerns.  In fact, after reading [this article], I wouldn’t even recommend putting Vicks on a baby’s feet.  It appears to be more dangerous topically, but is definitely one of those risk way outweighs any potential benefits kind of scenarios and it should not be used in kids under ten. Which makes me very curious why they sell baby Vicks??  So now I’m really serious. What DO you do with your babies?  I find it interesting that Zara has more spasms whenever she has a cold whether or not I use oils.  For example, I didn’t use anything until last night (not even tylenol) and yet, all day yesterday she showed a significant increase in events.  Today is about the same as yesterday, perhaps a little less, but we haven’t hit evening yet either. I’d really like to know causation on colds and spasms for her.  But anyhow, this is one more reason why you don’t follow everything you read online. Also, if you’re like me and just learning about EO, here’s where I’m going to begin my education.

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The other thing we try to do when colds happen is to cut back on dairy consumption.  Because milk based products can thicken phlegm, it stands to reason that they can accelerate the cold to ear infection progression.  So we push fluids, just not milk.  We haven’t dealt with an ear infection in years.  Causation or correlation or just blessed? It’s hard to tell, but I’m grateful.

Aside from an occasional steroid inhaler when Adam younger, we’ve been blessed with garden variety cold symptoms.  I know that some of you have tangled with nebulizers and hospitals and far more complicated respiratory issues than we have.  I’d love to hear your tips for staying well #washyourhands #washyourhands #washyourhands and what you do to make your kids more comfortable when they develop respiratory infections.


WFMW: My Cleaning Fairies

You would think I’d write about cleaning all the time instead of posting recipes since I actually like doing it.  I still think cleaning is sort of like therapy and being in the kitchen is something to be avoided whenever possible.

Today, I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorite cleaners.

1. Mox

Mox

This is hands down my favorite cleaner for tough jobs.  It is super concentrated so I dilute it for normal cleaning, but when I need the big guns, I dump it straight onto my rag.  It cleans black mildew off patio furniture and the outside of window sills like nobody’s business.  It cuts that grease ring in the tub like it didn’t even need scrubbing.  It can be used for a stain remover in the laundry (I pull it out for really, really tough jobs) and supposedly has even taken wet paint off of clothes completely.  Thankfully, I haven’t had to put it to the test. Seriously though, I rarely reach for bleach anymore and Greased Lightning is a thing of the past (did anyone else hate the smell of Greased Lightning?)

2. Legacy of Clean

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This is what I turn to for the kids bathrooms or if they are helping me clean.  Again, it’s super concentrated so I mix it in a spray bottle and Adam’s all set to clean their bathroom.  I also use it when I clean Zara’s bath because it is so mild I feel confident it won’t provoke skin issues in our eczema prone kiddos.  So far so good.  I love how it smells … clean and fresh, but not overpowering.

3. Kleens All

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Unfortunately, I can’t tell you where to get this one.  It is an incredibly mild, organic cleaner. So mild you can even use it on vegetables.  I use it when I wipe down the cabinetry and mop the hardwood floors and I love it.  It leaves no residue and is so gentle on the finish.  Unfortunately, it came with my cabinets (I purchased extra when we built our house in Virginia) and I can’t find a link to purchase just this product.  Perhaps a little digging would find it.

Now, I’d looooove to hear what your favorite cleaning products are! I’d especially like to hear from Norwex users.  I’m still a windex and paper towels girl when it comes to glass.  I’d love to hear if Norwex rags are the cat’s meow from someone who has actually used them for awhile.  Actually, to be honest, my windows are usually so dirty on the outside I have to first wash them with a drop of dish soap in warm water, but you know, no one really needs to know that.  Some parts of cleaning are anything but therapy.  Like windows.  And cleaning out the frig.

Are you a cleaner or a cook or a baker? Who are your cleaning fairies?


Zara’s Visit with Neurology

Today it’s been two weeks since Zara had her follow up appointment with the neurologist as Johns Hopkins.

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It is difficult to put into words just how relieved we feel since that visit. In reality, nothing changed.  But sometimes we don’t really know how much we need to hear words from someone with knowledge and experience until we receive them.

It is easy to recap the visit in words.  Zara saw the same neurology fellow, but a different attending.  I loved that he was very, very direct.  There were no minced words, no vague drawn out “wellllll …” phrases, and no questions hedged around.  They both checked her reflexes extensively and found them equal bilaterally so no sign of neurologic damage there.  They listened to her development and were pleased.  They watched the videos we’ve taken of posturing she’s done since her hospital stay.

In his words, “This is NOT infantile spasms.  We can tell that from the first thirty seconds of the EEG and from her normal development today.  At this point, we can watch and wait.  Some babies have the physical output of seizures without significant EEG changes and sometimes they grow out of them and everything stays benign. (Of course we are hoping this is the category Zara belongs.) If anything changes … the intensity or frequency of the spasms, a delay in her development, or even that the spasms concentrate to one side (currently they flip flop and don’t look the same), then you need to call us right away.”

“How long will it be until we get in?” David asked thinking of the several month wait time we’d been told initially.

“She’s on our high acuity watch list.  She’ll be in right away.” (Obviously she’s not high acuity, just being watched that carefully.)

I felt such an enormous relief to know that we could actually watch something on the outside (her development) and have a accurate clue about what was going on inside.

In his very frank, decisive manner he continued.  “These movements that you are concerned about and that we are concerned about are not normal baby movements.”

Until that moment I had no idea how much I needed to hear him say that.  You know how it is, in our well-meaning way, moms try to comfort each other by saying things like, “Oh, all babies make wierd movements,” or “I think that’s just kind of her,” or “I didn’t see anything.” I wasn’t at all offended, just beginning to feel a little muddled.  After three babies, did we still not recognize normal and abnormal?

I think if there was one thing I’d like to tell new moms it would be this.  Trust your intuition.  God made you a Mother and He gave it to you for a reason.  You might not have it right away.  For some, it comes more readily than others.  But you will develop it in time.  It doesn’t mean you’ll never be wrong.  Goodness knows I took Adam to the pediatrician countless times for, “I think it’s just a virus,” visits. :)  Hey, who knew viruses shed themselves in the strangest rashes ever? It doesn’t mean you’ll never need input from others because sometimes we lose our perspective because we are too close to the situation.  But when you get that feeling deep inside, don’t be afraid to act on it.  My nursing instructors used to say, “There is no such thing as a dumb question.”  Well, I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a dumb pediatrician visit.

For us, the clue is in the way Zara’s motions repeat spastically.  Bigger than that is the way it interrupts what she is doing.  When her arm jerks to the side and she goes on playing with the other, I watch to see what will happen, but I don’t feel anxious.  It’s when she jerks, or her torso spasms, interrupting what she was doing, that I watch and hold my breath, hoping this is not the time benign gets shattered.

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Meanwhile, Early Childhood Development has still not been here.  First her referral got lost in the paperwork, then she finally got re-found when I called and they made an appointment over a month out.  Thirty minutes before they were supposed to show up they called to say the teacher slipped on the ice and had to go to physical therapy so they’d call me back the next day to set up another appointment.  Meanwhile, I’d asked Neuro if she really needed to see them since she was learning so many new, age-appropriate things.  They still said yes.  Apparently, having another set of hands and eyes evaluating her to make sure we’re not missing any muscle issues would be a good thing.  It’s been a week since the teacher slipped on the ice and they finally called, with another appointment several weeks away.  I’m thinking by the time they get here, Zara may just walk to the door and say hello to welcome them in. :)


WFMW: Staying Motivated

Motivation has been one of our toughest hurdles since we’ve started homeschooling.  One student flies through his work so fast he hardly takes time to think.  The other can spend so much time thinking he forgets to do his work.  The problem is, the thinking isn’t even always about his school work.  Putting punctuation into a sentence about Henry Ford sparks an instant need to dialogue about Henry Ford and the fact that he didn’t actually invent the automobile.  He just improved it so much that it became readily affordable and dependable.

There was the garden variety messing around and the kind that looks for all the world like you’re concentrating on a problem when you’re actually not even thinking about school at all.  This might be harder to identify if the person overseeing hadn’t been notoriously adept at every trick of the trade when it came to messing around in middle school.  But by far the biggest problem was the need to talk about the subject referred to in a book or something a sentence reminded him of that now needed to be discussed immediately.  For some Mom’s with a different style of homeschooling, this could actually be a good thing instead of a problem.  It all depends on your educational style and what goals you are trying to reach.  At our house, we have very little trouble with discussions and conversations.  We are trying to improve on the ability to be assigned a task and do it quickly and efficiently.  Also, because we may choose to re-enroll the boys in school if we move back to Virginia, we try to keep school similar to the structure of school, just a bit less rigid.  We also try to parent in a way that makes sense for the rest of their life, i.e. , what kind of work ethic are they developing and is this going to be a detrimental or helpful pattern of behavior in a job?

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I tried many things.  I set timers.  I gave frequent reminders pleasantly and in an I-mean-business voice. I asked many homeschool moms and school moms alike for advice.  I tried many more things.  There were rewards and consequences. But nothing worked for more than a few days.  The truth is, it was still me who was doing the motivating.  This was really nothing more than a very bad habit.  They say if you can build a new habit for two weeks, you’ll own it.

I’m not sure we’re completely owning it, but we’re a lot closer than we were.

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One fabulous day in September I was talking to a former teacher and explained my dilemma.  She smiled immediately and then offered the wisest suggestion I’ve heard so far.

When she had a classroom of kids who couldn’t stop talking and constantly thought of interesting things in the middle of a lesson, she gave them a piece of paper and told them to write down what they wanted to talk about and save it for later.

It worked perfectly.  For one thing, the act of needing to write it down made him think about whether it was actually something worth talking about.  Most of the time, writing was more of a chore than the joy of talking about something inconsequential.  I wasn’t feeling like I was constantly shutting him down.  He could converse about things that interested him, just at a different time.  And finally, he was working at self-motivating.  Usually, all it took was one question with the first random conversation at the beginning of the day.  “Is that something you want to write on your paper?”

And that was it.  He is motivated not to talk, because he is motivated not to write a long list of conversation pieces mostly contrived to avoid the task at hand.

Our days are much more peaceful with plenty of time for the interesting conversations that are relevant.

If only it wouldn’t have taken us years to find such a simple solution.  But kids are all different.  Sometimes you’re lucky and the first thing you try works. Other times, you have to try nearly every conceivable thing until you find the right method.  Maybe that process is teaching them just as much as the lesson being learned. Anything worth learning is worth working at until you do learn it.

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 “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”  –Ann Landers


WFMW: GroupMe

I have to give credit to my Mom for this weeks Works For Me Wednesday edition.  If you know me at all, you know I’m not exactly the most tech savvy person on earth.  It’s not that I don’t like using technology (far from it).  I just don’t like figuring out how it works.  Maybe that’s called laziness.  I prefer to think of it as satisfied. Haha. Funny how we can make something sound so different with just one word.

It may or may not have taken me months before I switched to using Lightroom after purchasing it.  Ten months later I can’t imagine why I waited a day.

Whatever it is, I’m probably not the person you’re going to ask about gadgets.

But, my mom found this one and I LOVE it. (Told you I like using them as soon as I know how.)

Maybe everyone else has been using this for the past two years and I’m the only one who was still hanging out in the dark. But, if you haven’t, you will want it.

What it is:

A free app you can download on your phone or on your computer.  You create groups and essentially form your own private chat room.

Why I love it:

I can use it on my phone (I don’t have a smart phone) because someone added me to the group.  With one text, my mom and sisters and I all get the same message.

If you download the actual app instead of only being added by someone else, you can share pictures, like each others comments, easily see who sent which message, and add emoticons.  Because we all like those funny smiley faces, right?

I can use it on my iPad and text via wifi when I’m at home and don’t have cellphone service.  Because it’s all the same group, the messages go to the same place instead of switching conversations from email to text and vice versa.

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Even though we’re spread out from Maryland to Georgia, I feel super connected when I get a quick snippet of what’s happening with the rest of my family.

It’s perfect for this stage of my life that doesn’t always afford long emails and phone conversations.

Want it?

Here you go. GroupMe

You’re welcome.

Any favorite tech tips you want to tell me about? I’d love to hear them.  Bonus points if you find an app that irons shirts.


Craving McAllisters

The other week I was craving a cozy lunch at McAllisters Deli.  Or Panera Bread.  Anywhere that offered warms soups and sandwiches and yummy salads made with ingredients not on my normal shnormal grocery list.  Well, maybe also anywhere that served me lunch ready made on a platter, but that’s a bit of a moot point.

I found this recipe for Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup that is so similar to the Creamy White Chili family favorite I’ve made for years.  This one has a few more ingredients and ooo, la, la, they turn my looking pretty good recipe into something that turns heads.

About the same time I went to the grocery store while hungry.  This is never a good idea.  Particularly not in the aisle with the feta stuffed olives and gourmet curries.  This jar of basil pesto literally danced on the shelf chanting, “You know you want me.  You know you want me. You know you ….”

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And did I ever.

I bought a yummy focaccia from the bakery and stopped at the local bulk food store to stock up on Swiss cheese and gluten free ham.

Let me tell you.  It’s a match that rivals your favorite fast casual restaurant.

For the sandwich, melt butter (the real deal) on a frying pan.

Add slices of bread for however many sandwiches you wish to make.  You can use whatever kind of bread you like.  I prefer something whole grain and with a little crunch. Liam gets a gluten free slice of Udi’s and ta da! We’re all good to go.

Spread a thin layer of pesto on the bread.  This stuff is like a green-colored goldmine.

Layer with two slices of ham and top with thickly-sliced swiss cheese.

Toast until just lightly browned on the bottom.  You can either cover the pan with a lid for a bit or pop your plate in the microwave for a few seconds if the cheese hasn’t melted by then.

The soup … … I already gave you the link.  Hopefully you’ve had it simmering in the crockpot all morning.  And don’t be afraid to top it with avocado like she says.  I wasn’t convinced I wanted warm avocado in my soup, but it is flat out amazing!

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Well, the weather outside is frightful.  But the food inside’s delightful. And since we’ve no place to go.  Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.


Ten Months

Ten months of time with this precious baby girl.  Ten months of hugs and kisses, nights on the recliner, baby smiles, hours of blissful rocking, and splashing in the bathtub.  Ten months of bad colds and giggles that break the air into a thousand sparkling diamonds.  Ten months of teary tummyaches from dietary intolerances and wild celebration over milestones reached.  Ten months of lullabies and peekaboo.  Ten months of so much love.  Ten months of still hardly daring to believe the miracle of her is true.

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She is a doll.  A doll with a vibrant, confidant, affectionate, opinionated personality.

She stole our hearts from the very beginning, but the last two months, she’s squeezed places we hardly knew existed.  We watch her consciously and unconsciously, laughing at her antics and analyzing anything that seems amiss.

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The first weekend in December a cousin friend of mine showed me neurologic things she noticed with Zara based on her own experience with her daughter who had a stroke before she was born.  The way Zara didn’t clap symmetrically.  Her right hand clapped.  Her left hand tilted down and lagged in movement.  The way you could feel resistance in her left arm when you lifted both at once.  The way she bent her ankles instead of keeping them straight.  The way her thumbs went inside of her fists.  Our biggest concern was the way Zara had stopped rolling.  Dorcas showed me how to hold her legs in position to teach the muscles in her torso how to move.

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I came home and called Early Childhood Development to see what was happing with her referral.  The earliest time they could see her was mid-January.  Meanwhile, I followed Dorcas’ suggestions at home.  Within twenty-four hours, Zara was rolling from her back to her tummy toward her left with lots of struggle, but giggling hysterically at her new accomplishment.  Within days she could roll independently either direction as long as she was nudged in the right direction.  That and other arm exercises seemed to loosen her muscles and the resistance in her left arm diminished then disappeared.

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Did she have Infantile Spasms, was miraculously healed, and had only a few tiny neurologic deficits? Did she only have a musculoskeletal issue that needed loosening? If so, why did it suddenly start? We’ll probably never know.

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Does she still have spasm type issues? Occasionally.  Ninety-nine percent of the time, they don’t involve any arm raising anymore, but there are still occasional head and shoulder jerks. Are they benign? We don’t know.  There are times when she suddenly throws her left arm backward, stiffens for three to four seconds, then lets go.  Is it something to be concerned about? We don’t know.  There are times when she is crawling and suddenly collapses as her right side gives way.  She lies on the floor for a few seconds, gets up and crawls again, only to have it repeat a few strokes later.  Is she just playing or is something sinister going on inside her cranium? We don’t know.  There are times when she crawls with her left fist tightly clenched.  Is it her being silly or a neurological sign to notice? We don’t know. Perhaps the most frightening was the night she woke crying with a strange jerking and strange breathing pattern.  Was it a nightmare or did she have some type of seizure activity happening? We don’t know.

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Zara has a follow up appointment with a neurologist next week. Will we find the answers for our questions? We don’t know.

What we do know is that she has made tremendous strides in reaching milestones.  In the last month she has gone from only making one sound when babbling to saying “ma ma ma ma ma,” “ba by,” and cooing “IIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” on my shoulder in the exact cadence I use a dozen times a day when I cuddle her close and say, “I love you.”  She picks out every baby picture and always has to stop in the hallway to point out Grandpa and Grandma Beachy’s picture as she grins and babbles “ba ba ba ba.”  She hums along with music and scrunches up her nose to accompany her widest-mouth grin when she’s feeling silly. She pulls herself to her feet using only one hand to balance herself, stands alone for a few seconds, and once or twice walked along the sofa downstairs.  She doesn’t wave, but opens and closes her tiny hands and says “ba ba ba ba” when we say bye bye and tries hard to play “Where is Zara” except she mostly covers her ears instead of her eyes. :) The day before Christmas she crawled up the entire flight of steps from the basement to the main floor.

You can imagine how easy it is to be certain there is no longer anything to worry about and then suddenly catch something and wonder.  If that four day stay at Johns Hopkins did nothing else, it certainly re-shaped our tendency to laugh away oddities with an innocent, “babies are so funny.” It also made us appreciate her, and life, so much more.  I hadn’t realized such a thing would have been possible.  But every time life digs into your heart with a spade, it opens up your capacity for love.  For gratitude.

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On this first day in 2015, I celebrate the beautiful gift that is her life.  Even with it’s questions.  Maybe even because of it’s questions.  Because without the questions, I might forget how very, very, very wonderful she really is.


WFMW: Rice Crispy Candy

It’s not January 1rst quite yet, so I’m still allowed to talk about sugar instead of salad, right?

We pared our Christmas activities way, way, wwwwaaaaaayyyyy down this year.  The session between Thanksgiving and Christmas is super short, and there are lots of Christmas activities we all get involved in over there.  Cookie making, caroling as a camp, a staff Christmas craft exchange, staff breakfast …. you get the idea.  David’s long distance trips go in spurts, but he ended up with even more than planned because of a court hearing.  I really didn’t want to have one of those hectic get ready for Christmas months so we just dropped most everything we normally do at our house.

One of the things that didn’t happen was our traditional cookie and candy making.  You know how every family has their favorites? Well, ours includes chocolate covered peanut butter balls (some people call them buckeyes), date nut balls that are swoon worthy, lots of other chocolate dipped yummies, peanut blossoms, russian tea cakes, rice crispy candy, and thumbprint cookies. I knew that some of the groups from camp were going to carol for the staff.  In years past I’ve gotten caught red-handed (a pretty big oops for a house that deliberately doesn’t keep sweets on hand.  Hey kids, how about some apples? No?) at the last minute.  This year David tried to give me a bigger heads up.  Life was crazy and the first group still got snickers I grabbed last minute at the store.

The second group came at a less crazy time so the boys and I made rice crispy candy.  It’s probably my favorite thing to make because it is so, so easy and fast.  We decided to try making snowmen with the candy.  You have to work fast before the candy cools, otherwise it’s pretty child-friendly and fun.

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To make the candy:

Melt:

1/2 c. butter (yes, really, just tell your arteries to work it off)

40 marshmallows (I just dump in a bag of the big ones)

When it’s melted, stir in 5 c. rice crispy cereal.

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Let it cool just enough so you can handle it. (This is where you’d typically just dump it into a greased 9×13 pan and let it cool.) I started early and got scalded more than once.  Start forming balls in three sizes for the layers of the snowman.  Once it’s cool enough, the kids can jump in and help.  In retrospect, I would add the candy details at this point, then let them harden and assemble them.

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Rice Krispy candy (45 of 16)

We did it in reverse.  I assembled them immediately and then we tried to garnish them.  By then the rice crispy candy wasn’t so moldable and we had to attach the candies with chocolate which got pretty messy.

So since you get to learn from my mistakes, let the kids put eyes in the tiny balls and buttons in the medium sized balls as you are forming them.  When they’re completely cool, melt some chocolate and glue the three sizes together to make a snowman.  You can even add a scarf of chocolate if you like which covers up the messy issues beautifully.

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I like adding chocolate garnishes using a ziploc bag with a tiny hole cut at the one corner.  Have you found any great tricks for dispensing melted chocolate?

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I realize this is often used as a Christmas candy, but I think it would be a fun addition to a hot chocolate party for kids who have been out sledding.

Happy sugar over-load!

PS: Gingerbread men are easier because they are one piece and horizontal.

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Rice Krispy candy (55 of 16)

PS 2: Rural internet stinks. After multiple calls to customer service they are finally sending out a tech ….  a week from now.  Meanwhile, I guess we’ll embrace streaky images as a new art-form.


The Beauty of Art & Music

One of the things I love about homeschooling is the way it has created a little free time for the arts starting in elementary school.

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Someone gave us a piano to use just before we moved here.  In October 2012, we unloaded it into our house and hired a piano tuner.  While she was here I asked her for piano teacher recommendations.  One of her recommendations was Miss Lindsey, the girl who was already teaching art at Adam’s co-op.  Lindsey had already suggested to me that Adam might benefit from a one on one tutoring in art because she saw his interest in it.

June 14 (132 of 268)

A teacher who comes to our house and can teach him both piano and art? I couldn’t imagine anything better!

Adam started classes in December.  David and I took an occasional class and thought we’d learn it alongside him.  I dropped out after a month and David dropped off about a month later because we simply weren’t finding the time discipline to practice for thirty minutes every night. I needed a mom who said, “You need to go do your piano practice now and then made me do it whether I felt like starting or not. :)

Liam begged and begged and begged to be allowed to start.  He has loved music from the time he was a baby, picking up rhythms everywhere and singing before he talked.  He would often sit at the piano and play.  While most children just sort of bonged and banged, his banging usually sounded somewhat melodic and pleasing.  By the time he was five, he was picking out simple melodies on his own, sometimes coming home from church and picking out a hymn we sang note by note. Finally in February of this year, a few months before his sixth birthday, we decided to let him try.  The discipline has been a stretch for him.  He loves to play by ear, and needing to work at finger play that did not come easily was a stretch. Especially since it only yielded simple tunes and he could forget the books and play a song by ear.  We backed off a bit on the intensity of his lessons so he wouldn’t lose the fun of it and now he is enjoying it so much again.

David listened to Adam practicing the other night, shook his head, and said, “That makes me jealous.” It’s amazing what you can learn in two years!

Adam is loving his art classes, too.  After exploring composition, perspective and shading for a bit, he experimented with oils and found what he loves.  He’s working on a series of animal paintings and dreams of selling artwork someday.

wolf oil painting (1 of 1)(Those horizontal lines are not part of the painting or the wall. See note at the bottom of post.)

As a stay at home mom, I love having another adult walk into my house once a week! Lindsey feels as much like my friend as she is the boys’ teacher!  We share recipes we love, stories about our day, and she is my go to person when I have a question about something locally.

piano recital (4 of 4)

As a relatively left-brained teacher and parent, I love seeing the boys have opportunity to exercise and develop the right side of their brain.  Piano has also taught them discipline, developed their ear, and given them opportunity to perform publicly on occasion. Art allows them to be creative and a little messy …. things I’m not so good at carving out space and time for in the afternoons when I’m through teaching and needing to get on with housework.  Lindsey has developed talents in them I would never have been able to pull out because I don’t have them myself, and I am forever grateful to her.

piano recital (2 of 4)

As Plato said, “I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and in the arts are the keys to learning.”

PS: Please excuse the odd linear issues in some of the pictures.  We’re having issues with our internet currently and it’s showing up in some odd ways. Hopefully we’ll get the kinks worked out soon. :)


WFMW: The long jump

Have kids? Check

Have Christmas cookies? Check

Have cold weather? Check

Have kids eating more sugar than normal and cooped up inside because of cold weather? Check.Check.Check.

One day when we were doing school I decided to see how far the boys can jump, just for fun.  They loved it.  No, actually they LOVED it! Now they beg for me to mark off a jump for them again.  It’s the perfect way to encourage energy release without simply doing something mundane like running stairs.

childhood unplugged (2 of 2)

All you need is painters tape and a yardstick or some other way to measure.  A hallway works fabulously, but any open space will do.  I marked off a long starting line and then one foot increments off to the side.  If the tape is on carpet and they land on it, the tape tends to work it’s way loose.  When it’s beside them, they can still easily count how far they’ve jumped.

childhood unplugged (1 of 2)

We all three ran and jumped because it was just that much fun.  Those crazy boys can out-jump me already!

Tell me something your children like to do when they’re cooped up inside and then go have some fun!