Thank you.

It’s teacher appreciation week.

I have anxiously walked the aisles of the store, feeling the soft petals of the beautiful orchids, fingering Apple and Barnes and Noble gift cards, and contemplating Pinterest creations. None of it seems right. As a teacher who has been on the receiving end of all of these things, I have always been so thankful for the parents who take the time to run to Kroger for a flower, for the kids who pick a dandelion from the yard, for the gift cards and the sentimental gifts, but it just isn’t enough for the people who care for my little boy. Nothing seems to be. Our son’s preschool teachers are the epitome of patience. They exude kindness and push our kids to be good little people. I teach middle school and cannot fathom how they do this with tiny humans each day. 

2 months ago, our son starting having very unusual events. They often resembled seizures, although he was lucid. Most occurred at school, and we ended up at the ER twice, not to mention numerous doctor visits. We worried that he wouldn’t be able to remain enrolled because the other students deserved their teachers’ attention, too. We understood and accepted this possibility. While the school was within its right to dismiss Z, they let him stay and worked with us as we navigated this mysterious situation. We texted during the school day, we texted and spoke on the phone after school hours. We discussed the different doctors’ opinions and what we thought. And no matter what happened, we always knew that his teachers’ first concern was for our son’s well-being. 

My son will be 3 this week. I am in my 7th year of teaching. I now understand what it means to entrust my child to other adults and the time it takes to create a relationship with these people to help our child grow as a team. As an educator I have always appreciated parents who were open communicators, but as a parent, I know the effort and trust required to open the lines of communication. The past 2 months have been very difficult for my husband and me. It is hard to get a text during class that your son has been on the floor shaking and acting funny for an hour. There were so many times when we wanted to leave and pick him up but could not and they were always quick to tell us they were caring for him and he was okay. Modern technology is a beautiful thing. 

Beth. Chloe. Oksana. Kim. And everyone else who works with Zanon- every day we are so very thankful that you love our son as we do. That you make sure he is okay, that you watch for signs that he isn’t. That you text us how his day has gone. That you hold him accountable and treat him like everyone else. That you are his teachers. We have made it this far because we are a team. It may be that we never know what has caused these issues, but what matters is how it was handled- and you handled yourselves, him, and us as parents beautifully. 

Thank you for teaching and loving our son. We appreciate you more than you know. 

Rachael and Sean

More toddler entertainment

As we wind down this break, it is becoming more obvious that Z and I both are ready to get back to our normal schedule. Thankfully, there are plenty of friends to play with and lots of ingredients in the kitchen to mix together!

To start the day, we caught up with friends for a play date.. So wish we had one of these in the back yard! Tessa and Oscar make a mean breakfast, too! Z even ate!

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Afterward, I promised Z a “surprise” after his nap. This seems to really help with naptime.

At first, I was going to use the hard plastic swimming pool, but not only is it huge, I also don’t have enough ingredients to fill it to a satisfying level for me him. I remembered the unopened blow up pool from his birthday party last year and set about filling it with…

uhhh… stuff..

-2 canisters of salt

not enough.

-The whole plastic canister of flour, plus a half bag.

still not enough.

-bag of fake snow leftover from when we made… fake snow.. ahem.

Perfect.

I made a “Z” and added a little glitter, then stared it at forever hours until he woke up from his nap.

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(sorry for the weird meme font.. my editor wasn’t cooperating when I tried to add text)

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Love this face haha. He was fine with this mixture, except I had to watch him for eye-rubbing (his clothes were covered in white). He doesn’t eat things anymore, but fake snow is probably not something you want your kiddo ingesting. I added it for the soft texture.

Finally, the mat under his pool is one of those heavy table cloths with a fabric back, so it didn’t slide around. He was great about following the rules and keeping everything in the pool, but it caught anything that still made it over the side.

If you want to see a video of when he first saw it after his nap, click on over to YouTube.

Today after nap it’s rainbow rice (not in the pool… that’s being saved so I can add a little water this weekend and he can mold it like sand) and water beads.

Halfway to summer!

The Pinterest Secret

Before I hop up onto my soap box, read the post below:

Facebook Pinterest

I decided to continue with my current Pinterest project before deciding whether I wanted to respond. I don’t know this person- it was a ‘like’ by someone else that brought it to my attention. The person obviously has quite a following, as there are several hundred thousand likes. And yes, I ‘liked’ it, too. But it got me thinking.

Feeling Like a Bad Parent

I have had so many people comment on my activities with Zanon (many of which are straight from Pinterest). They tell me I’m an amazing mom, the word “idyllic” has been thrown out there, and many bemoan their lack of motivation or ability to do such things and compare their parenting to mine.

Let me clue you guys in:

You’re not bad parents if you don’t do the stuff I do. Unless your child is left with his or her needs unmet all day while you head off to do whatever you want, you’re not a bad parent. If you go to McDonald’s ___ times a week, you’re not a bad parent. If you buy the paint instead of making it, you’re not a bad parent. If you raid the 24 hour Kroger at 5 AM the morning of your child’s class party because you honestly didn’t feel like baking last night, you’re not a bad parent. And you don’t need me to tell you this.

Why do we all put so much pressure on ourselves? A little Crayola paint licked off a finger isn’t going to hurt your kid. Store-bought cookies are awesome! The cardboard play house Target sells with the pictures all printed and directions easy to read is super cool (I went hunting for it today, as a matter of fact.. sold out. Boo.).

What matters is that we are involved. We do things with our children, whatever they may be, the best that we can. For some of us, the DIY route is fun. For others, pure torture. Guess what? Your kid isn’t judging you. As a matter of fact, most adults aren’t, either. We’re all just trying to survive parenthood, which leads me to my next point..

The Real Pinterest Secret

I do all of this for some me time.

You heard right.

Yes, I put time into searching Pinterest for stuff because I think my son will love it. I also know that if I do it right, I will be given a secondary reward: time to recharge. A little bit of Facebook surfing. A chapter read. A cool Pinterest dinner made (yes, cooking is cathartic for me).

If my son is happily and safely engaged in an activity, I get to breathe a bit. If this mommy doesn’t get breaks, her fuse becomes short. Little things that don’t matter begin to frustrate me. That’s when I know it’s time to drop 10 glow sticks in a blue food-colored bathtub and sit on the toilet seat with my iPad while he plays. It’s my way of staying sane. Or that play mat I spent an hour making gets pulled out. Or I fill the muffin tin with shaving cream and food coloring, tape some coloring pages to the walls of the bathtub, and let him go to town.

All of that time front loading an activity buys me at least double in happy kiddo quiet time. And if I take care of the things I make, I can reuse them.

I also love to create. I have 20 coloring books for big kids on my Amazon wish list. When I don’t have a creative outlet, I get frustrated.

So you see? This is all about me.

Hehe. No, but really the payoff comes when my son is learning and growing and mommy is mentally readying for the next thing. Toddlers (and I’m sure older kids) can be exhausting. My hat is forever off to SAHMs.. you guys are something special. I’m off for a 2 week break with a husband vying for major overtime. I have to maintain my sanity.

Speaking of which…

Shower curtain play mat

This was my catharsis for today. I taped Sharpies to each side of a box and went to town on an overpriced Dollar Tree/General shower curtain liner. He’s still napping, but I really hope he enjoys it. I still have lots of drawing to do, but that can wait. On the way to our house is also a 5 foot tall geometric dome and an indoor swing.

Someone on Facebook joked, “Are you starting a kids gym at your house?” I replied, “I’m starting a mommies with toddlers mental health facility.”

All are welcome. :)

Zanon’s ClosetBed

Next edit:

Phase I is complete.

  • Custom shelves
  • walls/ceiling painted
  • 2 power sources, including USB
  • tiled floor
  • shelves installed on the outer wall behind the door
  • reframed opening

Panoramic

Panoramic

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More to come via Flickr, as I’m sure I’m running out of storage space here on WordPress. Zanon loves his big boy bed and had no trouble falling asleep tonight. The gate in front of our bedroom will be reinstalled in his doorway in the next few days. Hopefully there won’t be any sleepwalking until then.

Phase II will be installing a loft above the shelves, using them as the support system (we had them made with this in mind). Besides saving for that part, the biggest question right now is how to install a ladder… we’re kicking around whether to just have one that reaches the bed itself. Otherwise, I’m thinking the left side? Maybe a stairway? The other choice is to purchase a rope ladder but having it swing loose would freak him out I’m sure. Ideas welcome on that front.

Thanks again to mom for helping make my vision polished and amazing.

Now, everyone take a moment of silence for no more crib. How did that happen so fast?

 

Edit:

Mom decided that for our Christmas gift, she would have the awesome Charles (and his son) come and make Z’s closet wonderland a polished reality. W00t! Thanks, Mom! They’ve had one day in there, and already it’s looking awesome. I’m home sick with some icky but not debilitating virus, so I thought I’d share the update.

Z's new USB plug

Z has a regular outlet on one side and this awesome USB plug on the other. They will be part of the shelves Charles is making. Z will stay in the toddler bed (front removed during Christmas break) for awhile, but when we’re ready to convert that to the full-sized bed, the shelves will be accessible to him. I have a funny feeling we’ll want to move him to a regular bed within the year, but it really depends on how well he does. And how tall he gets!

Closet construction

They’re coming back tomorrow to continue work. The floor has nice tile, the walls and ceiling will probably be some sort of dark color…blue… green? (we’ll see what my mood is when I go to Home Depot this afternoon with a toddler), and Charles is working on custom shelves that will fit in there on the left and right. I’m hoping with our tax return we can afford to have him finish it all off with the loft above. It will be about the height of those holes they’re going to patch up tomorrow.

So. Excited. And thankful that Z will have such a neat place for himself. Cannot wait to start sticking stars all over the place hehe ;)

Until the next update!

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Project time!

In hunting for ideas on Pinterest, I kept coming across the same few images. When I specifically searched for these types of ideas, it was apparent that I’m not the only one looking to save space.

Crib in closet

Two of the three rooms in our house are 10×10. Not big at all. Although we only plan to have one child, we want him to be able to comfortably spend time in his own space. Right now, we have too much furniture for the space. Once the idea took hold, I was on a mission.

His bed would go into the closet.

As any brilliant carpenter would, I first measured the width of the opening. The length of the crib and the opening were both about 72″ across. Perfect! Once Sean was safely miles away at work, I distracted Z with television and snacks and set about emptying the closet of the various toys and clothes that had yet to be organized into keep/toss. I tugged the crib across the room and attempted to stuff it into the closet. No go. The silly lip on the door jamb that keeps the closet door from pushing all the way inside the closet needed to go. After consulting with a friend who in real life can build super cool stuff by himself, I came home and delicately used a hammer and box cutter to tear the offending piece of wood off the frame.

Then, I tried again.

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Win. If you look closely, you can see my handiwork on the right side. I’ll have to attend to that later. Ahem.

So now that it fits (Z loves it), my next move is to decorate the space. I of course have a lovely Pinterest board full of my ideas. After spending a few hours tonight looking around, I’ve narrowed it down. I think.

I want to purchase this set of decals to place above his bed and over the ‘wood.’ They glow in the dark, which is a neat addition to a child’s space that still looks nice. I’ve found several options on Etsy for ceiling stars, too. Can’t forget those.

The shelf in the picture above will probably be relocated to one of his walls in his room, but at kid height. I found a liner for that exact sort of shelf that tabs between the rungs. It’s a thick plastic. Obviously a short-term solution to have a place to play and color, but for now it’ll work. I’d like to install sheet metal or the like (magnetic) above it in a proportional strip and possibly paint half of it with chalkboard paint.

Middle School Bulletin Board

As I was in the process of donating my entire wardrobe this summer, I ended up with a bunch of old t-shirts I couldn’t bear to part with. Concerts, NHL, former school, silly sayings. I had the idea to use them for a background on a bulletin board at school, so today I went in and started working.

What I had after 3 hours (yes.. I had no idea it would take so long) was this:

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So far, I like it. I think I will add pictures to it, too, from my summer. I have another board to work on, so that might come later. For now, this one will function as a sign in/out (hence the clipboard) or something like that.

Grilled Cheese.

Short and sweet.

Grilled cheese:

  • Provolone
  • Cheddar
  • Italian herb cooking cream cheese
  • Thinly sliced Roma tomato
  • Thinly sliced mushrooms (optionally sauteed first.. great both ways)

I spread both sides of the bread with (Smart Balance) butter, and the inside of each piece with the cream cheese. Then, I layered the cheese and the tomato/mushrooms. I used 2 Provolone and 1 cheddar, but of course everyone likes their sandwich different.

grilled cheese

 

I can’t pretend it’s the healthiest thing out there, but I could definitely live off these. Next time, I’ll sautee minced onion for it, too.

Crock Pot Ranch Pork Chops & Mashed Potatoes. Ish.

At 7 this morning, I decided to make something in the crock pot. It all began so innocently.. me, my chewy coffee (oops), a frantically happy toddler, and Pinterest. It is an acquired skill to pin whilst parenting. I claim this right, as my husband claims his parenting to be “babysitting” when I’m not around. Yes, go give him hell for that. >:)

I let Z choose between chicken and pork chops, and his little voice trying to say pork chops won.

I found this recipe on Pinterest from the Living, Laughing, and Loving blog. Looked simple enough…

Here’s a peek at the finished product:
Ranch Pork Chops w Mashed Potatoes

My dear friend Max called this post gibberish (yes, it is), so here’s the fast version:

Stick the meat, yogurt, ranch powder, and water in the crock pot for a few hours on high. Then, add an onion (if you like) and the potatoes and consider using the low setting. If you’ll be gone all day, use low from the start. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove them and mash however you like to mash. Reserve some drippings for gravy if you like. I stored the mashed potatoes in the crock pot on the “keep warm” setting for about 2 hours and it was all fine. 

Get a cup of coffee. You’ll be here awhile…

In defense of the ‘sanctimonious’..

A horrible, terrible thing happened in Aurora. Some insane punk decided to take out a theater full of people. In that theater, 71 people were killed or injured. I wasn’t there, but I followed it on TV and Twitter. As a mother, I cannot get the image of Alex Sullivan’s father out of my head, screaming at the media to help find his son. And that poor boy did not survive. If you saw that video, we both were willing them to just FIND that kid.

Click to continue reading

Cornstarch Paint vs. the Hose

After Sean got home yesterday, we decided we had enough energy to brave the heat with Z. Sean took him outside and I made shaving cream and cornstarch paint….

Keep Reading!

Baking Soda & Vinegar Sensory Play!

Yesterday, we tried something else from the blogger at Mama. Papa. Bubba. … baking soda & vinegar. She called it Moon Painting.. Z didn’t really allow it to become something great to look at, but he did love the activity.

Keep Reading!