Friday, February 27, 2009

A Surprisingly Good Day

Today is the second day in a row that our attempts to go play at a local park have been thwarted by things beyond my control. I'm trying to help Mister J handle these disappointments with grace instead of grump, but must admit that I, too, was bummed when the sprinkles began just as we arrived at the park this morning. I let the kids get out for just a few minutes, but when the rain started falling harder (and neither of the kids was interested in sitting on a wet swing) we loaded back into the mommy-van to figure out Plan B. We ran a few errands and made plans to meet Big J for lunch.

We had a great lunch! The kids were very well-behaved, Big J and I got a chance to talk about a few things, and when it was almost time to go Mister J reminded me about our free doughnut coupons. The last time we'd planned to use them the kids misbehaved and lost the privilege, but I was willing to give it a shot today. Big J had to go back to work but asked us to bring one home for him. So, we said our goodbyes and then headed over to the nearby Krispy Kreme!

I gave the kids their coupons, then made them order on their own and give their coupons to the person at the register. I always hated when my mom made give my own order, but of course I understand why now that I'm a grown-up. My kids usually hesistate, but since they were ordering doughnuts they had a little extra incentive today and not a bit of hesitation.

While I ordered my doughnut (and one for Big J), the kids had already gone to pick out a table next to the Doughnut Theatre. No, I'm not making that up, and yes, at our Krispy Kreme, you get to watch them make the doughnuts!

It's tough to take pictures through the glass, but if you look closely you can see the proofing box in the photo above - and the doughnuts rising inside! They go up and down on a vertical sort of conveyor until they are ready to go into the fryer. They were making regular (sweet, delicious!) glazed doughnuts when we arrived today, but halfway through our doughnuts we saw that they were changing to the 'no-hole' doughnuts - the kind that end up as creme-, jelly-, or custard-filled doughnuts. We've never seen these being made before, and although the process is the same (rising, frying, flipping, frying, draining, and a ride through the sugary, white curtain of glaze) it was still exciting to see a 'new' kind of doughnut in the 'theatre'.

So, what kind of doughnuts did we enjoy today? The kids each ordered chocolate-iced doughnuts with sprinkles.
I ordered my favorite - chocolate-iced, custard-filled - and picked out a chocolate-iced, creme-filled one to take home for Big J. I may or may not have sent him a pix message with a photo very similar to this one:
I have to admit that when we rain started this morning, I did not have high hopes for the day. I was eager to get out of the house because Mister J was a little sad about our neighbors moving, and I wanted to get his mind off of the moving truck next door. (Thankfully, they will still be in the same town and we can still meet for playdates!) I knew there was a chance of rain, and we didn't make it to the park before the rain began. Hmph.

Now, though, I am thankful for a nice lunch as a family and some sweet moments with the kids (and for pix messaging - sorry, honey, that wasn't really 'sweet' of me, but you know I love you)! As 'everyday' as having doughnuts might seem, they really were some special moments for me, and hopefully for Mister J and Miss M, too!

Overheard #16

My daughter needs to be bilingual. Scratch that, Big J and I need to be bilingual, because Miss M regularly counts in Spanish rather than English (thank you, Dora and Diego!). And that's not all....

The kids and I were meeting Big J for lunch today at a local Mexican restaurant. We got there before he did, got seated, and were going to go ahead and order (I'd already gotten Big J's order by phone to save some time). When the server came to take our order, I double-checked with Mister J that he wanted milk, and as I turned to Miss M I am sure that I heard her say, "Agua." I can't be 100% sure, as she wasn't saying it to me, she was turned toward the server. But it sure sounded like that's what she said. I confirmed with her that she actually did want water, and she said yes. The true test? She drank it when the server bought it to her.

I tell you, next week, she's going to break out with, "Quisiera un vidrio de agua, por favor." Should I be ordering a copy of Rosetta Stone?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ordinary Extraordinary

Mister J stayed for Lunch Bunch after precshool today. As has beome habit when I pack his lunch, I pack one for Miss M, too. Most of the time, she eats whatever is in her box around 10am - she is ready for a snack and eager to see what's inside her LLB. On days when Mister J stays for Lunch Bunch, Miss M and I usually come back home so I can get some work done around the house. Today, though, I had some work to do on a preschool fundraiser and some errands to run. Anticipating this, and knowing the weather would be just a little warmer today, I tossed a beach towel in the mommy-van this morning (I couldn't find a neat sheet). After the errands were over, we parked in the preschool parking lot, spread out our towel on some nearby grass, and had a picnic. We talked to a few folks who were picking up their children, one friend saw us picnicking as she was driving by and stopped for a chat, and then we just walked around a bit (Miss M loves walking on the curbing!).

It wasn't until I mentioned this picnic on my Facebook status, and someone commented on it, that I was reminded about the ordinary extraordinariness of it. Such a simple thing to do - sit on a blanket (um, towel), share some lunch, and enjoy the sun and breeze, just the two of us. What a special mom and daughter moment it turned out to be. I wish I'd thought to pull out my camera - but I bet it would have spoiled our ordinary, extraordinary moment. Not all special moments are about pictures - sometimes the uninterrupted memory is even sweeter.

UPDATE 2/27/09: I've added a new label for my blog posts - Ordinary Extraordinary - so I can tag other simple, special moments like this one. I'll tag old posts as I have time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Overheard #15

As my daughter, who has a miserable cold, was licking her corn from the table at dinner this evening (hey, she was eating, right?):

Me: "Ick. Time to get out the Lysol wipes...."
Big J (who sits opposite Miss M at the table): "Nah, just don't turn the table around."

We've had sick kids for a few days now, and are reaching the 'gallows humor' stage.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mini Muffin Success!

If you have seen my Facebook status in the last several weeks, you will know that, on occasion, I have been frustrated with some mini-muffin pan disasters. I tried to make two-bite brownies, and failed miserably, on two occasions (I thought silicone baking pans would be almost disaster-proof). Today, I had my first mini-muffin pan success. That is, the muffins came right out of the pan as I'd hoped they would - the taste, um, needs some work. But, in case you are interested, I tried this recipe for Pepperoni Muffin Bites from They came out a little bland, and we ended up dipping them in extra sauce. I think next time I might try to put some Italian seasoning, or maybe even the Parmesan cheese, into the muffin batter. I think the fine cornmeal is a must - the muffins had a very nice texture. In fact, I may make the muffins (without the pizza ingredients) again when I have a meal that calls for such an accompaniment. For now, I'm just pleased with the success.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let's have some fun!

The weather was nice on Sunday, so we spend some time outside. The kids played in the backyard for a while, and then I brought out some supplies for a get-your-hands-messy project. We made bird feeders!

They were pretty easy - empty toilet paper rolls with holes punched for some string, soy butter (or other nut/seed butter), and birdseed. I helped a bit with the soy butter spreading - and the kids had great fun with the birdseed. They were very proud to hang them on the trees in the front yard - we made four of them!

The kids worked on today's project while I was doing some paperwork. They love Play-Doh, play fairly well together with it, and it keeps them occupied for a long time relative to coloring, tv, and puzzles. Here's Miss M posing to show off her Play-Doh necklace:

It's too bad the photo doesn't do justice to the cute ponytails she was sporting today!

The necklace waas made with great pride by the creator of the following self-portrait:

What an awesome smile - and what great aim for someone who was looking into the lens of the camera! And what a sweet boy to make something for his sis - they were both so proud, and so was I!

Come again?

Apparently, even price rollbacks are taking a hit due to the economy....

Catch-Up Post - Valentine's Day

Here's the post I promised you with the photo of the cute pencil critters we made for Mister J's classmates. See? Aren't they cute?

I strayed this year from my typical 'special love-themed book' as a Valentine's gift for the kids. It's pretty hard to find an appropriate book for a boy beyond age three. So, this year, the kids got something else I knew they would like - rain boots! I will not tell you how many stores I went to in my quest to find rain boots (n.b. - shop online, and early enough to account for shipping time). I will only tell you that there should now be no more fighting over the too-small-for-him, too-big-for-her, formerly-only-pair-in-the-house rain boots that will make their next appearance at the upcoming clothing exchange at our church. And now, check out my cuties as they got their gifts!

Mister J was way excited about his. Miss M wouldn't even try hers on until the afternoon. It's supposed to rain later this week - we will be taking a walk when it does!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More on the Peanut Recall

It's still weird for me to be shopping as I usually do while there's a massive food recall in effect. If you are someone new to avoiding peanut products, I am sorry that you are having to deal with this. Avoiding peanut products has been 'normal' for us for nearly 18 months now due to food allergies, and the beginning of this particular journey was quite an experience. I know you have probably been surprised to discover how many of your favorite foods contain peanuts. I am surprised and the number of people avoiding non-recalled items that contain peanuts or peanut butter. Thankfully, there are many nut-free options. I encourage you to search online for peanut-free products, and especially to read the blogs of parents dealing with peanut allergies. One of the blogs I read, Gravity of Motion, has a list of allergy and asthma websites. Hop over there to check out Jane Anne's links, and tell her "hi" while you're there.

On winning the lottery...

If you noticed that I labeled this post with 'faith' - among other labels - you are probably wondering how that's related to the lottery. Please, let me explain...

I've been carrying around a lot of anxiety lately that's related to the school-choice and magnet school lottery process in our school district. Knowing that the results are beyond my control, I've prayed a lot during the wait. I have asked God to do His will. I have asked for patience during the wait, for knowledge to make the right choices, and for the ability to accept (with grace) the results, whatever they were.

Tonight, I am saying prayers of thanks. We found out this afternoon that our son is in our first-choice school and our daughter is 5th on the waiting list for her grade level. I'm not a fan of the word 'luck' - it's one I purposefully avoid using. But God does have a way of making me feel like I won the lottery. The chances of our either of our children getting in were so slim. We were told many times not to get our hopes up. Certainly, He had a hand in this.

Prayers of thanksgiving.... Over and over again.

Another Candy-Coated Holiday

Happy Valentine's Day!

Both of my kids had parties in their preschool classes today, and each came home with valentine cards and candy treats. Miss M, unfortunately, doesn't get to eat much of what she brought home. Mister J wants to be generous and share what he brought home, but many of these sweet treats are not safe for Miss M. I was most surprised of all to read the label on the candy hearts - you know, the ones that come in the box. The ones that are pretty much a Valentine's Day requirement (well, they sell a lot of them. I don't actually like them. But you know what I mean...). They have one of the longest allergy warnings I've ever read. They are processed in a facility that also processes peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, barley, oats, soy, and milk. For the quantity of candy hearts, candy eggs, and candy wafers this company makes, I'm surprised they don't have a facility for these items only, so that they can put an 'allergen free' label on them.

I'm not heartbroken about Miss M not being able to eat these - I'm heartbroken all over again, though, for the 'tradition' she'll miss out on.

I usually try to give a non-food treat, but since finding the perfect jellybeans, that's what Miss M gave to her classmates this year. There are 2 other children in her class (0f 6 total) that have food allergies, so I was excited to share this recent find. Mister J gave pencils, and we (um, I...) did some paper crafting to make them super-cute and fun (at least we thought so!). I'll post again soon with a photo of them!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Overheard #14

My children made a non-sanctioned trip downstairs (what's the past tense of 'sneak'?) before they were dressed this morning. When I found them, Miss M was hiding under a blanket 'tent' eating sliced cheese and playing with Mister J's Leapster. I picked up the cheese to put it back in the refrigerator and the Leapster to put it away. Here's the conversation that followed:

Miss M (in response to me picking up the cheese): "Mommy, don't take my friend!"

Mommy: "Miss M, cheese is not your friend, I promise." (Literally - but that's another story...)

Miss M (thinking of who/what might be her 'friend'): "Candy?"

Oh, yes - I thought it was funny too. And she saw me laugh. She's got me figured out, I'm sure. Have I mentioned that she's 2 1/2?

I wasn't laughing when I found the two cheese wrappers later in the day. I missed them in the semi-darkness of the morning. Time for some more yogurt....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bad Dream

My sweet Miss M just woke up from a bad dream. I'm still up working (late) and heard her crying. When I went into her room to check on her, she sat up and cried to me,

"I want Boots the Monkey back."

I no longer need to wonder what little ones dream about....

Overheard #13

As I was fixing sandwiches for my kids a few days ago:

Big J/Daddy: "This ham is awful! Is this what you are giving them?"

Mommy: "Do you mean the turkey?"

Big J/Daddy: "Oh, it tastes ok then."

My question? If it tastes that bad, does it mean he doesn't like turkey? Or, did the power of suggestion (or willing suspension of disbelief) truly have him expecting something else from a package labeled 'turkey'?

I got a great laugh out of this. Big J - not so much....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Orange Blueberry Muffins

I found Gravity of Motion when Jane Anne guest posted over at Rocks In My Dryer about life with a food allergic child. I've continued reading GoM (and RIMD, and many others!), and Jane Anne recently posted a delicious muffin recipe.

The kids had a 'snow' day today - using that term very loosely - and we needed something fun to do. They were not as interested in helping me clean and organize the pantry as I'd hoped. So, we made Jane Anne's muffins! You'll have to check out GoM to get all of the details, including the recipe (and leave a comment while you're at it - bloggers love comments!). Let me just tell you that it's a scratch recipe, it takes a full stick of butter (so you know it's yummy!), and it uses orange zest and juice. Since we were zesting an orange, we used fresh juice, too (zest of one navel orange, juice from two). The kids helped me measure, sift, mix, squeeze, stir, and scoop. Then they helped me taste. Oh. My. Goodness. You must make some for yourself. You will not want to share.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I've said it before...

... and I'll say it again - these lunch boxes are magic!

Preschool was on a 2-hour delay today, so both kids got to stay for lunch. The excitement of staying for lunch ended any disappointment Mister J might have felt about the delay (he loves preschool!). Miss M was excited simply because the lunch boxes were out. Here's what they took for lunch today:

Miss M's lunch
Green container: applesauce
Small blue container: Craisins
Orange container: ranch dip
Pink container: edamame, baby carrots, cucumber hearts
Large blue container: small (one slice) soy butter and jelly sandwich

Mister J's lunch
Yellow container: applesauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon
Blue container: Craisins and chocloate chips
Purple container: ranch dip
Red container: baby carrots and cucumber hearts
Green container: soy butter and jelly sandwich

When I picked Miss M up from preschool, her teachers told me that she had eaten every bit of food and she was licking the dip container. I knew she would be excited about her lunch - it was very difficult this morning to convince her to wait until she got to school to eat her lunch - but I never imagined she'd eat it all!

When I picked Mister J up, I asked him about his lunch. He'd also eaten everything I packed! He and I had an interesting exchange when I was packing lunches this morning. When I asked if he wanted cinnamon on his applesauce he replied that his friends don't like cinnamon. I replied that what was most important was whether or not he liked cinnamon and wanted it on his applesauce. He agreed, but I still wasn't too sure he'd eat it - he usually skips it, but I keep trying.... And today - success!

After seeing how well both of my kids ate at lunch today, I feel like I should call their teachers to confirm that they did, indeed, eat breakfast this morning. I also feel like I should serve every meal in their lunch boxes, and perhaps order another couple of sets!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Overheard #12

As Miss M was trying to ask politely for something, but was having trouble coming up with the right word ('please' or 'may I'):

"Mommy... I need a nice word..."

I was so proud of her effort to use her manners! As you can imagine, this is a big lesson that we are working on right now, and Miss M is getting better at it every day.