Thursday, October 16, 2014

Because his worst trait is MY worst trait...

Yesterday morning is not one that I want to relive. In black and white that looks pretty dramatic but hear me out…

My car had a flat tire so we were getting ready to walk to school. Per the norm, no matter what time I wake-up or start getting the kids ready, the last 10 minutes before we are out the door is hectic. I had scheduled our Christmas picture shoot for yesterday afternoon so yesterday morning I pulled out a sparkling new pair of shoes for Cooper to wear. 

You see, it does not matter that the new pair of blue Converse was the exact same as the old pair of blue Converse (but in the appropriate size 12 instead of the size 10 he's been jamming his feet into), they were new shoes and Cooper does not like new shoes just on principle. Period. End of discussion.

I knew it was going to be a fight but I put them on him anyway.

He cried. He raged. He took his shoes off. I put them back on. He threw himself on the ground. I picked him up. He threw his school bag down. I picked that up. It went on, and on, and on. Ridiculous, I know, but it had escalated to a point where I couldn't just let him cry and get his way.

Somehow I managed to get the three of us out the door, had Carrington in the stroller and was coaxing a crying Cooper down the driveway on his scooter. Then, he fell. He was lying on the ground, SCREAMING about his shoes in front of God and all of the neighbors when I totally lost it.

I grabbed his new shoes, chucked them against the garage so hard that it made Carrington cry and then I stomped off to go get his other shoes. 

Not my proudest moment. I lost my temper and caved to his demands in one shoe-throwing instant.

About halfway to school I stopped him, apologized and told him that Mommy made a mistake. I shouldn't have gotten so angry and I definitely shouldn't have thrown shoes. Inside, I was thinking about how much trouble he would have been in if he acted like that. 

The worst part was that I realized that his temper is MY temper. The reason that we go head to head so often is that we are so much alike. Unfortunately, the part of myself that I hate the most is manifested in him and on top of that I had just set a TERRIBLE example of how to act. Ouch.

After a somewhat normal/pleasant drop-off, I tucked in my quivering lip until I got out of the carpool circle and called Kyle. I knew what I was going to hear on the other end of the line and I knew it it was not going to be empathy. Unlike me, Kyle has no temper whatsoever (unless its about Aggie football, haha). Cool as a cucumber, that guy. In our 10 years together, he has never so much as raised his voice with me or called me an ugly name. (Guilty and guilty.) Shoe-throwing anger is a completely foreign concept to him. 

After my "confession", I was in full blown beat myself up mode and made the phone call I always make when I need someone to listen and help me sort things out…my friend Chelsea. As college roommates, we used to call each other "2am friends" because it didn't matter what time of night it was, we were always there to talk. Same holds true (schmirteen or so) years later!

What she said was so perfect I wish I could have recorded it and listen to her telling me this before I start every day. Instead, I'll share with you because it is such a good message to all Moms out there!

In summary:

Stop beating yourself up. You are not perfect and it's healthy for your children to see that. Use this as a teaching moment.

Knowing how alike Cooper and I are, she told me to think about what I would want Cooper to tell me if he had thrown the shoes (which I assure you he was seconds away from doing, ha!) and say that very thing to him.

So smart that friend o' mine! (P.S. C, this is why you are going to continue to get the first phone call whether you like it or not!)

So when I picked him up from school, I did as instructed. After a heartfelt discussion, I wrapped it up by telling him that I would try harder next time. His response? "Next time I'm crying just let me wear my different shoes, ok Mom?" 


We'll get there. One day at a time buddy man…

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's for Dinner Wednesday: Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

I decided to start (and hopefully keep up with) a series on the blog about what's cooking over at our house. If your house is anything like ours, it's hard to get everyone on the same page meal-wise. Here are our "eating truths":

  1. I am NOT a short-order cook. What you get served for dinner is what you eat for dinner.
  2. I have realistic expectations about what my kids will and will not eat...but we try everything.
  3. Kyle and I do not eat bland food.
At first glance, you may be thinking that these three things do not marry. Are our kids out of luck on chicken vindaloo night? Are Kyle and I drowning our baked chicken and pea sorrows in a pound of Chahula? NO and NO.

Lately I've been using a little method around here that keeps us all happy. I've been breaking down the elements of what you may write off as an "adult recipe" and serving the basics to the kids and spicing things us for us. For example, my kids will totally go for some crock-pot chicken over rice while I happily cook by vindaloo sauce on the side. And while they would both turn their noses up at my arugula pesto chicken pitas, they are happy to chow down on some chicken and pita bread.

First up on my recipe list are Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes. This time I used beef and gruyere but you could sub ground turkey. Or do chicken and peppercorn romano. Or sausage and leeks…I digress but it's all good!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

3 sweet potatoes 
1lb ground beef
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp cumin (I find that cumin is a spice flavorful enough but not "too spicy" for kids.)
1/4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Gruyere (or other cheese of your liking!)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a casserole dish with foil.

Pierce skins of washed sweet potatoes with a fork several times and arrange in the casserole dish. Bake until tender, 45-60 minutes. (If you don't have a ton of time, start your potatoes for about 5 minutes in the microwave.)

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion (only use half if your kids are picky about this). Reduce heat to medium and sauté until onions just start to turn clear. Add ground beef, cumin, salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink. Transfer to two plates: one with a kid sized portion of beef (See "Kid Dinner" below) and one for the remaining portion.

When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut two of them in half lengthwise and gently scoop out the flesh leaving about 1/8 inch of flesh in the skins and put into a large bowl. (Sweet potato skins are pretty delicate.) Set the other sweet potato to the side for kid dinner - see below!

Mash sweet potatoes with a fork, masher or hand mixer until smooth. Stir in butter, milk, thyme, broccoli and beef. You can check your spice factor and add salt and pepper (or whatever else you like) at this point.

Mound your filling back into your sweet potato skins and top with cheese. Put the potatoes back into your baking dish and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Turn up the heat to broil if you want to brown the cheese on top.

Kid Dinner

You already have it cooked. Whew! Cut the remaining sweet potato into cubes or sticks (easy for little hands) and serve with ground beef. I also keep bags of frozen veggies (I like the Central Market Organics brand) so serve with meals such as these. Peas and lima beans are always a hit around here!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Mom on Repeat!

These days I feel like a broken record.

These days I feel like a broken record.

These days I feel like a broken record.

Do you ever have days where you feel like you are on auto-pilot with your kids? Like some weird version of the movie Groudhog Day except it really is a new day but you find yourself saying the same thing over and over and over again?

If so, YEA! Join the club. If not, you obviously don't have kids yet!

Here are just a few examples of our daily phrases. Does anyone have a tape recorder? This might make my job a lot easier!

  • Tushi in the chair! - This one has multiple applications: carseat, dining room, shopping cart…etc.
  • I'm the Mom! - Cooper not only tries to parent his little sister, he also tries to parent ME! I often sub this line out with: "YOU'RE NOT IN CHARGE!" To a 3 year old…#momfail
  • Don't hit your sister! - Usually followed by "Don't wave that [whatever thing he has in his hand] around in the air and "accidentally" hit your sister either!
  • Step in your pants! - I don't know what is so hard about getting dressed but everyday it's like I have to explain it to him all over again. (As I'm squatting down on the floor offering my head as a balance bar, no less.)
  • That is not a toy! - My kids have what seems like 100 toys although they never play with any of them. Brooms, hangers and my nice camera on the other hand…
  • It's not snack time, it's [breakfast/lunch/dinner] time. - Why are snacks so superior to all other meals? If I call Cooper's lunch a "little snack", he will eat it without question…go figure.
  • Forks are for eating! - You would be surprised as to how many musical instruments, trucks and monsters our forks can turn into…to the demise of my breakfast table, no less!

These are just some of the little phrases I find myself repeating every day. I would LOVE to hear what is on repeat at your house! 

The little nuggets that make it all worthwhile!

Monday, September 29, 2014

My [Current] Favorite Things!

Do you ever notice that when you come home from a girls' trip you end up with a list of about 15 things that you just HAVE TO HAVE?! All of my gal pals and I are always gabbing about what we are using and loving. I also love reading my blogger friend's posts on their favorite things…it's like a secret peek into their closet/pantry/purse, and isn't that what the internet is all about?!?

Recently I've had a couple of friends suggest that I put together a favorite things post. So here you have it, a few of my current favorite things!

First up, things for the ladies…because everyone else gets to go first all day long (at least at my house)!

  1. Two Faced: The Secret to No Makeup Makeup - I actually scored this one from my friend Chelsea's favorite things blog post. Unoriginal or not, this is a must have. It's the perfect that glowy "I'm not wearing makeup (wink, wink)" look and its all in one simple palette! It even comes with a card to show you where to put the concealer, brightener, luminizer, blush (2) and bronzer. It is quick, easy and pretty. All you need is a little mascara…
  2. 3D Fiber Lashes - Speaking of mascara… Y'all. Never would I ever would I EVER have thought in a million years that I would get into direct makeup sales. Roll out the pink Cadillac, right? All kidding aside, there is nothing else out there that compares to these lashes. It's like fake lashes in a tube for $29 and just a few minutes. And, it's natural ingredients like beeswax and green tea fibers…you know my little hippie heart likes that!
    Here it is kicking my favorite Dior Blackout' butt!
  3. All In One Bag - Sleek enough to carry out as a clutch, compact enough to throw into your diaper bag to keep your stuff separate from the attack of the gummy bears and 4 day old goldfish! Pretty versatility goes a long way in the mom game!
  4. Lifeproof iPhone Case - OK, not the most attractive iPhone case but it has definitely gotten less bulky since the first model. Carrington thew my phone in a pool this summer so I was definitely glad to this. No need for phone insurance with this guy!
And for the kiddos…
  1. Bento Box (and here) - For whatever reason, food that goes in bento boxes gets eaten. I know this are on the expensive side, but they completely cut out the need for plastic baggies and can be used like a lunch box in themselves! We used to use the Dr. Sears Nibbler tray but I'm not seeing it on Amazon anymore. Cooper outgrew that one but its the perfect size for Carrington now!
  2. Sound Machine - Again, on the expensive side but well worth it. Plus, it's on sale on Amazon right now. My kids are light sleepers and this sound machine is the only one that actually moves air instead of just playing noise on repeat. We can have a college football watching party in the living room and not hear a peep from the kiddos. It's the price of a night of babysitting so that's how I rationalize the purchase…and the party!
  3. Rain Boots - After my tadpole post, I had a few friends ask where I got Cooper's light up rain boots. (Nordstrom) These were an awesome purchase and the first shoe Cooper has been able to put on all by himself. This is great except when we are trying to actually look nice or put together, but we've come a long way from the days when he would only wear Tom's!
Also, thank you to Aunt Phyllis who sent Cooper the Superman Animated Series…much more appropriate than Inappropriate Superman and a quick climb onto our favorites list!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dear Monsters…Love, Cooper

Cooper has a thing about monsters coming into his room at night. (Why did we ever invent the idea of monsters for our kids?!) I'm always scrambling for reasons as to why monsters won't come into our house. i.e. "Kona will scare them away." or "They're afraid of Daddy's big muscles!"

One night, I had the bright idea to tell him that monsters wouldn't come to our house because I put a sign on the door that says: "NO MONSTERS ALLOWED!" Well, Cooper thought this was an excellent idea and now EVERY NIGHT we have to make an actual sign to put on the front door.

He dictates what to write and "writes" along with us. We come up with gems like this:

"Dear Monsters,

If you come to 
our house I will
blow you down and 
smush you like a 
pancake. And, I 
won't make you
a cake.


AND, for some reason, said sign has to be accompanied by two candlesticks and one outlet safety plug. Don't ask, I don't know why!

Whatever works, right?!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Tale of 200 Tadpoles

A couple of Sundays ago it was raining in Houston. (Shocking.) Cooper had just gotten some new light-up rain boots and I was bound and determined to prove to Kyle that this was not just another idle demand from the boy and indulgent purchase by me. So, all geared up, we had a little Norman Rockwell moment and went outside to play in the rain.

Cool boots, man.

Doing the Boy Mom thing.

Cooper let me borrow his frog umbrella.

Sister got in on the action too!

Don't you just want to squeeze those thighs?!


As it turns out, some frogs had laid eggs in the "lake" that is our poorly drained street. (Thanks city of Houston?) And in a couple of days we discovered tadpoles.

What started as a fun Cooper activity...

...quickly became a neighborhood affair and before I knew it I had about 200 of these little suckers in a drink bucket in my front yard!

Let me tell you, I was a little worried about starting a biblical plague in my own front yard.  There were SO MANY TADPOLES! However, it was a good little activity for us and the other kids and I used the "let's go check on the tadpoles" as a distraction many a time. 

Well, as life (luck?) would have it, these guys turned into frogs during the torrential downpour that happened in Houston last weekend. We were happily out of town and returned to find only two cute little baby frogs. Whew.

As Cooper says, "Some tadpoles get to be frogs and others get to be dead." Well put.  


Or, at least a very fun activity/science experiment at the least!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Dreaded Swim Lesson

We went to swim class today and Cooper did NOT throw up.

Not to say that he has gotten sick at every swim class (he hasn't) but it's been quite a journey to get to a happy(ish) place in the pool.

We started lessons back in June. I elected to try private lessons given how AWESOME Cooper is at trying new things and mingling with new people…NOT! Anyway, we show up on the first day and he was pretty cooperative in the pool with someone he didn't really know, until she made the mistake of asking him to put his face in the water that is! Silly, silly swim teacher, this is what happens when you ASK a three year old to do anything! Cooper started to whine and very directly told her "NO THANK YOU!" After this, she promptly pulled the plug on the lesson telling me she wanted him to be a little more comfortable with her and in the water before lessons.

We opted to come back in two weeks after more pool time. At this lesson, it only took him two minutes to tell her "NO!" and earn his "done for the day" card. Yeah, he figured her out pretty quickly. She told me, "I really want him more comfortable here and with me. He should be running up to me excited to start the lesson with a hug and be willing to go underwater." I took everything I had not to laugh in her face. He's got your number, lady.

Private lessons with pushover instructors, as it turns out, are not for us!

Next stop…group lessons at the YMCA in July and part of August.  I felt like he was getting behind and the Y offered two week crash courses where you went for four days in a row. We did three sessions and actually had some luck here. There were kids in his class that were actually terrified of the water so ornery little Cooper came out looking like a shining star! He blew his bubbles as instructed and was willing to swim (assisted) as long as his eyes didn't get wet. Top of the head? FINE! Nose, ears and mouth? OK! But don't you dare get his eyes in the water! No, he will not wear goggles. That would just be too convenient!

His instructor at the Y was a huge college football linebacker that looked like he could have eaten Cooper for lunch. No matter his size, Cooper had that 300 pound teddy bear like putty in his hands by the end of the first lesson. Cooper was the only one not crying. This guy was not going to risk that by making Cooper put his face in the water and you better believe Cooper knew it!

So we finally settled on a once a week swim class with two of Cooper's besties. This is where we should have been all along! They are a lot tougher on the kids and Cooper started making strides from the beginning. Plus, all the parents sit behind a glass wall to watch so I only had to see the crying boy, not hear him too. As much as he would cry and have anxiety before class, he was pretty ok with things after the lesson and my chocolate donut bribe. He was FINALLY progressing.

Until last week.

The day started with the normal pleas from the boy about not going to swim class. I countered with my typical bribes, condolences and encouragement which got us to class virtually tear free. Once inside, he started his wind up and his usual routine of crying and "I want my Mommy" which makes my stomach turn, even from behind the glass. That day they were working on floating on their backs which is really hard to do when you are yelling at the top of your lungs!

The next thing I know, I'm watching his head dipping down into the water. Through the flailing limbs I could see that he was actually coughing up a little water. Uh oh. "Oh man, please let that be water and not…" As soon as I could think it they were putting him on the outside of the pool where he promptly tossed his cookies. Ugh.

I hand Sister over to a friend and she immediately starts crying from the commotion. Awesome day to forget her binky!

I ran into the pool and scooped him up. One of the lifeguards helped me over to the shower to get him cleaned up. Wouldn't you know that in the comedy of errors that was my crying baby and my barfy kid the lifeguard pulled the chain and started the shower ON ME as soon as I bent over to set Cooper down.

At that point, soaked from head to toe with two crying kids, I considered letting Cooper learn how to swim once he got to college. But, as life would have it, we did go back and he showed up today with no tears and did perfectly fine. I did notice that his instructor didn't really make him go underwater today. Like, at all.

Don't mess with Cooper, he's willing to puke to get out of what he doesn't want to do! I wonder, has he outsmarted this instructor as well or are we finally turning a corner? Stay tuned!