Friday, June 28, 2013

We Survived!

   In 10 minutes Josh will be off work.  He has spent 6 months on this shift (Mon-Fri 2pm-11pm) and I am glad to report that WE SURVIVED!  I don't know how we made it, but we did.  Being mostly a single Mom is hard.  It makes me ever so grateful that Josh is present when he is here. 
As hard as it has been on THOSE days, I know that the weekend will come and I will have a helpmate. 
   Starting Monday we will have a new challenge.  Josh's shift will be Mon, Tues, Fri & Sat from 8:30am-7:30pm.  So he will be up before we are and leaving as we are getting up.  I am so excited for this!  It's been really challenging having him get home around midnight and then unwind for a couple hours followed by sleeping halfway into the day. As exciting as it will be to have the day start the same for everyone, I am more excited that Daddy will be home for bedtime.  There is something magical about pre-bedtime dancing, stories, songs and snuggles that seem to capture childhood.  And now Daddy will get to be more present.  I love it! 
   With every change come a readjustment period.  Josh is going to be off on Wednesday & Thursday for the rest of the year.  These are regular school days for us so I'm sure it will take a bit of time to make sure that everything gets done on time without distractions.
   The best part is that once school starts back up Kira will be going to an enrichment school every Thursday and Rora will have preschool Thursday mornings, so minus the one week a month that I am teaching preschool, Josh and I will have a morning to OURSELVES! (With just Ella in tow.)  I have no idea what we are going to do without the big girls.  I'm sure it won't be to hard to find something to do.  ;)
   I love change and this is looking like it will be a wonderful opportunity for our family to grow together.  I'm so excited!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Did She Get So Big!?!

   Time has flown by so fast!  I can't believe Ella will be 14 months in less than a week!  She is a great baby. Recently she has started doing the funniest smile.  She lifts her head and scrunches her whole face.  Makes me laugh every time! 
 
   She is a really good baby.  So easy going.  I can set her on the counter and she won't try to get off.  She is content to watch whatever I am doing.  A few nights ago I was making marshmallows and she sat on the counter and watched the entire time.  After I gave her a taste she tried to get into the bowl for another and I told her  not to and she just sat and watched until I was finished and shared with her. 
 
   Ella has quite the vocabulary.  She can say bubbly, Mommy, Daddy, Nu (nurse,) yeah, I love you, baba, no, sisis(sissy,) gapa(grandpa,) poo poo(she is so smart and when I ask if she pooped she will tell me!) Rora, eww, yuck, and when you say Doctor she will respond with WHO!  She understands so much more than she can say and does and excellent job of communicating.  She also signs more, please, thank you, nurse, yay and love. 
 


 
 
   One of Ella's most favorite thing to do is dance.  She loves the girls dancing classes and gets really frustrated when she can't join in.  When we are home, whether there is music or not, she will dance and dance.  She makes my heart so happy.
 
 
   Grilled onions are her favorite food.  She eats all veggies but broccoli.  She loves most fruit.  She will occationally eat meat and rarely tolerates bread.  She has a sweet tooth like her Mama and knows how to get what she wants. 
 
 
   Ella loves to swim.  She refuses to sit in her floaty, preferring to either have me hold her, hold onto the edge of the float and kick her legs or her favorite, jump into the pool over and over and over again. 
  

 
   Overall she is a very happy baby.  She likes to be where the action is.  As long as she is involved, she's a happy girl.  She doesn't want to miss anything.  Today she woke up at 7:30 and refused to nap until 3:45.  She wasn't grumpy at all during the day except for a few times fatigue overtook her.  But as soon as I tried to lay her down she would get a burst of energy and be raring to go.  She slept for all of 45 minutes and then was her happy go lucky self once more.  She fell asleep around 8:15.  The last few days have all been this way. 
 
I can't imagine my life without this precious girl.  She makes me smile and no matter how frustrated or stressed out I get, she brings  me joy.  I sure love this girl!!

 

 

 
 

Such a Great Sister!

   I just found this picture that Josh took a few days ago. Rora is a great big sister and Ella completely looks up to her.  It's so cute to see them play together.  Rora completely engages Ella and does the most random, goofy things to make her laugh.  I love that she gets to be the big sister.  While it can be hard at times, she really looks out for Ella and get so sad whenever she gets hurt. 

 
  The other night Kira was at a birthday party so Rora took her bath with Ella.  This is a first for her and both girls loved it.  They kept me busy refilling tea cups with fresh water so they could really drink.  Ella would watch Rora and do exactly what she did...right up until we took a few pictures and Rora got silly and started to 'water' herself by pouring water in her ear.  Ella just giggled and giggled at her which made Rora make noises and faces to go along with the watering.  It was a hoot!  

Secret Forts & Girl Talk

     Today Kira came in from playing outside and started running her mouth.  All about how they have a secret fort, that's named Secret.  And how they have secret things in the fort, like bricks that look like hearts (broken landscaping bricks that really do look like hearts.) and there isn't any nectar in it, but they can smell the nectar because the flowers are just above.  The best thing about secret forts is sharing secrets IN the fort and the only other person who you can tell is Mommy. (I LOVE THAT!)    
    She stood there with such animation in her face making sure not to leave out a single detail.  Standing there listening to her I can't help but be sad that there isn't a scrap of baby left in her.  Somehow, without my knowledge or approval, she became a kid.  And I like her.  I know that's a silly thing to say, but I really enjoy my time with Kira. She is so inquisitive, smart and entertaining.  I want to relish the next few years of secret forts, bricks and nectar.  They won't last long and I will miss them when they are gone. 
    While she was standing there, I also saw a glimpse into the future.  A glimpse filled with 2am trips to the store for new slippers, (yes, my Mom and I did that!) first love, heartbreak, spiritual talks and deep, deep friendship.  I know that times will get rough, (Hopefully she won't be as bad as me!) but I hope to be the kind of Mom she can confide everything in.  The one she wants to share all her girl talk with.  Her best friend. 


 
The girls and their friend Kenna playing in the secret fort.   

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top 5 Amazing's in Arizona!

Since we've lived in Arizona a little over a year now.  I know, it's gone by soo fast! Overall, I am not in love with Arizona.  I like seasons and greenery and Arizona is lacking in both.  BUT there are some things to love here so I'm listing my top 5.

#5:  The Tortillas.  I promise, they are THAT good! *I didn't add them because I couldn't think of a 5th reason, they really are THAT good! 
#4: The Library.  Especially storytime.  I was spoiled as a child with an amazing librarian who poured her soul into storytime. This is the first time I have consistently brought my girls to storytime, all thanks to Miss Lori who is fantastic!  To top it off she remembers the kids even if we can't make it and will save the craft/information for us so we don't miss out. 
#3: Homeschool network.  I was filled with anxiety about homeschooling when we lived in Alabama.  The legal mumbo jumbo terrified me.  Maricopa has a great group.  Everyone is focused on the kids having fun and learning.  From co-ops, free classes that Mom's volunteer to teach to weekly PE.  They have helped make my first official year as a homeschool Mom that much more enjoyable.
#2: Dance!  Dance is Kira's passion, and she has a real talent for it.  Since we moved here her confidence has grown and her passion has increased.  DSPA has offered both girls some amazing opportunities that wouldn't be available elsewhere.  We LOVE DSPA!!
#1: Family.  Of course family is our #1.  Having Grandparents so close is wonderful.  Not only that, but having cousins, aunts, uncles and Great-Grandparents here has been such a blessing.  I am really close to my Grandparents so giving the girls the same opportunity is priceless.  Not to mention that we are only 10 hours from my family so we see my family much more often.  Grandpa Madsen has even come out to visit us here!  TWICE!! 

While Arizona may not be the place I want to live forever, I have come to love the people and activities that it offers.  I will never love the look of cactus, but I love the soul that resides here. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Hate ______!

   Maybe I'm the Mom that is to strict.  Maybe I'm the Mom who doesn't let my kids have enough fun.  Maybe I'm the Mom that will make them roll their eyes because I'm such a goof, nerd, *insert whimsy of the day,* etc.  But one thing I WILL NOT be accused of is being the Mom who allows my kids to be mean! 
   As I have conflicts arise in my life, people that I don't necessarily get along with and scenarios that make me want to lash out.  I have tried and continue to try to keep my thoughts as kind as possible.  If I never allow myself to think the word HATE, then I won't act that way and I won't turn into a person who HATES. 
   Tonight we had an incident.  It requires a little background.  Rora was a bit of a pill during her dance recital and cried for Mommy the ENTIRE time the show was going on.  As a Mom, i'm sad that she was upset, but as a parent who knew my child was ok, who knew she was excited to perform and who knew she had her sister with her the entire time, not to mention her teachers who she knows and loves.  It makes me not very happy about the way she acted.  I see taking a dance class as a privilege.  We spend a lot of money so the girls can have the PRIVILEGE of dancing.  If they didn't enjoy it, they would immediately stop.  No questions asked.  After recital we talked about how dance is a privilege and isn't something we have to do.  In order to help Rora understand that it was decided that instead of taking a couple of classes during the summer, she would only be allowed to take one class and Mommy wouldn't watch her class.  Thankfully her class is at the same time as one of Kira's classes so she walks into the studio with Kira and Kira helps her get her shoes on and get into class.  Mommy of course, comes in to pick her up. 
   Sometimes lessons are hard to learn and this one has been rough on Rora.  Tonight after we got home from the studio, (she was watching Kira's class,) she said to herself, "I hate Mr. Vince." 
Maybe I'm not tolerant enough.  Maybe I should just let things go.  But that doesn't sound like me, does it!?!  ;)  Hate is to strong a word for me to just let go.  We went and had a talk about what was really bothering her, the fact that she couldn't take the class and it looked fun. 
   For most Mothers, that talk would be enough, yet it isn't for me.  Her next step was to draw a picture for Mr. Vince, which she then delivered. 
   I   know it is hard to tell people you're sorry, no matter the circumstances.  It's especially hard when you are 3.  Rora was really brave and as long as Mommy held her hand she was able to give Mr. Vince her card and a hug. 
  It would have been much easier to let it slide, or just have a talk, yet I want my children to know how powerful the word HATE is.  And if the way to teach that is to stop what we are doing and drive over to tell someone we are sorry, then that's what I must do.  If it is treated lightly then it will be used more often.  So by taking the opposite approach, maybe it will be held more closely.  That might make me extreme, but one thing I know is Rora won't be using the word HATE anytime soon!

*sorry this post is a hot mess, I wanted to get my thoughts down before they cooled...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

T.A.R.D.I.S.

 
 
  First summer project completed!  If you don't know what it is, then something is seriously wrong with you!  SERIOUSLY!  You must stop reading this, get on Netflix and watch Dr. Who! 
 
  Everyone at our house is obsessed.  I love that the entire family can watch it.  There is minimal violence, no language, no sex and the storyline is out of this world awesome!  So naturally, it's all the girls want to play, following that line we just had to build a T.A.R.D.I.S. (time and relative distance in space.)  Basically, it's the space ship that The Doctor travels around it, oh, and it's bigger on the inside. 
 
  Initially I was going to take a box and paint the outside and make it that way, but I came across this blog and couldn't resist trying my hand at it.  Since I don't have a projector I freehanded the entire thing based off pictures.  The top is lopsided (I wasn't paying enough attention and didn't start the top in the middle of the board...D'OH!) but other than that, it turned out better than I expected.  The girls are thrilled and it's awesome (the lights and words glow!) to be able to check something off the list that makes my girls soo happy! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Bread...Healthy?

I have a weakness for chocolate zucchini bread.  It's sinful!  Since we have zucchini coming out of our ears, I've had plenty of opportunity to tweak the recipe.  You can find the recipe I started with here this is my healified version:

2 squares unsweetened chocolate (If you don't have any bakers chocolate on hand, you can use 3/8c cocoa + 2TBS oil.)
3 eggs
1 C maple syrup
1 C honey
1/2 C coconut oil
1/2 C applesauce
2 C grated zucchini
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 C fresh ground whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 C dark chocolate chips (in health food stores you can find minimally processed, preservative free chocolate bars.  Just cut it into chocolate chunks. That is, if you can't find real chocolate chips.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate until melted. Stir occasionally until chocolate is smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla and chocolate; beat well. Stir in the flour baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a loaf comes out clean. 
This is super delicious, almost brownie like in it's chewy texture.  A perfect treat to use up all that zucchini!

Jar Reward System


We are currently using full jars as our reward system.  It is working pretty well, so I thought I'd share. 
Here's how it works:  The small jar has to be filled to the top in order to get a reward.  The girls get to pick a reward from the list, they then cross it off and can't pick the same reward again.  Our list is as follows:
Go out for ice cream
Special play date
Bouquet of flowers
Movie night
Dinner date during Daddy's lunch (dinnertime) at work
*for the ice cream & dinner date it's a family affair so everyone benefits

Then when each girl has received all 5 rewards and fills their jars again we get a special family reward: Nerf Guns and an all night FIGHT!

It takes 4-6 weeks for Kira to fill her jar. (It's on the right.) She gets anywhere from 1-5 beads at a time for completing chores, usually extra ones, cleaning the living room with the timer, mopping, etc.  When she disobeys then I take anywhere from 1-3 'beads' from her jar.  So far Kira has received a bouquet of flowers and an ice cream trip.  YUM!

For Rora we have it set up a little bit differently.  She still has a LOT of meltdowns throughout the day so it isn't feasible for her to lose beads when she disobeys.  So she gets sent to her bed until she calms down, (she throws lots of fits.)  Rora, being only 3 also has a harder time helping to clean.  She earns anywhere from 2-10 beads for each completed chore.  I really want her to associate cleaning with the joy of filling her jar, not with the dread of this is mandatory.  At this point if she refuses to help she usually has to stay on her bed while we are cleaning and then remain in her room for 5-10 minutes after and miss out on whatever fun thing we are doing in that time.  She is getting really close to getting her second prize for a full jar.  Her first reward was a special play date.  She chose to go to my friend Sue's house (who had all her kids in school and focused 100% on Rora...Thanks SOO much!) where they played lego's, made cookies and Rora was the center of attention for 2 hours.  She loved it!     

I really like that the kids don't get instant gratification with this system.  It takes a LONG time to fill their jars.  So many studies have shown the benefits of delayed gratification and since I agree with them this works for us.  I also love that I don't have to do anything except tell them how many to put in and occasionally take some out.  It isn't hard and requires only minimal effort from me.

The only drawback is that sometimes I forget to reward the girls when they are being especially nice, etc.  Although to be fair, I would do that with any system. 

Our Experiment Was a Success!?!

    We finished our experiment, and have had a few simple treats and things since with no major differences spotted.  UNTIL today!  You see, Saturday the girls had their year end dance recital.  We gave each girl a chocolate ballerina as a surprise.  They didn't eat them until yesterday since the recital went so late on Saturday.  The ballerinas are the size of a regular candy bar, so plenty large, but we figured it was a special occasion and it would be fine to give them each a treat.  Oh how wrong I was!  It is now 1 o'clock.  Today has been one of the most emotional/tantrum filled/over stimulated day that Rora has ever had.  She is melting down every other moment.  Usually, she only has clothing issues with socks and shoes.  Today it's been pants too.  Every little thing results in screaming, and while I know that she doesn't understand enough to communicate and therefore resorts to throwing a fit, it's really, REALLY hard to remain calm. 
   On the upside, I now know for a fact that sugar (possibly) and all the preservatives aggravate her and make it harder for her to be the kind loving child I know.  On the other hand, it is really hard to keep kids away from all that junk ALL THE TIME!  I am really nervous, we are heading to Utah in a couple months (2 new babies being born, woohoo!) and I know that my Dad like to eat out all the time (we've already talked about how we can only go out once...I bet he will try to tempt me with more...), eat junk, say everything's ok, and I don't want to turn into the bad guy always telling the girls that they can't have such and such, but I don't know how I can cope with another day like today.  Any tips to help our trip run smoothly?  Or for that matter, to keep the rest of my life running smoothly?