Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

McDonald's Playgroup

Months ago I was chatting with the Joanie of Keeping Up With Mom and we were discussing various mommy things like preschool and such. Joanie told me of her alternative preschool approach involving the playground at their local McDonald's. We laughed (I'm pretty sure she was laughing, too) and then I tucked it away in the back of my mind where most things go and never return.

Fast forward a few weeks to last week. My lovely Lolly has been out of preschool for almost two months. TWO MONTHS PEOPLE! Two months without that social outlet that she so badly needs. Because my Lolly is one social girl. A social butterfly, if you will.

Now, this lack of social outlet is, I believe, what has lead to a some difficult times in the Chaos' household. And when there is a parenting dilemma I consult my personal Parenting Bible, also known as Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.
I was scanning the glossary in the hopes that the answer to all my problems (at least these particular problems) would just jump right out at me. I read various bits and pieces throughout the book but didn't seem to find the answer that I was looking for. But I did find something. Over and over again. Introvert versus Extrovert. The needs of each and the importance of meeting those basic needs. Now, I had read this MANY times. Because, you see, while my Lolly is a beautiful extrovert, her mama is an introvert. A social introvert, but an introvert none the less. Which means that I recharge by spending time by myself. And extroverts recharge by being with people, with friends, socializing. I think of this often, especially the part about how an introverted parent CAN NOT parent an extroverted child on their own. Extroverted children just need so much. And every time I think I'm going crazy, I remind myself of that. I can not, as an introvert, parent my wonderful child, an extrovert, on my own.

Now. Are we noticing another theme? I didn't at first. It took a while. But I saw it eventually. Look closely. Notice the me's? The I's? The focus on how hard it is for me to parent her. And yet forgetting that as difficult as it is for me, it's probably a little frustrating for her not having her needs met.

Then came the epiphany. Parenting my girls is not actually about me. It's about them. It's about helping them to grow into the people that they are meant to be. That's not to say that I shouldn't also take care of myself. But that's not parenting. That's self care. And showering. Unfortunately, this isn't the first time I've had that particular epiphany. I'm just grateful that I manage to remember it more often than not.

This particular epiphany was a new one though. I've read, lots and lots, about introverts versus extroverts and really have tried to use this information to help me better parent my girls. I've tried to provide Lolly with as much socialization as I can tolerate. We chat and discuss all day long. Every day. From the moment she wakes up to the moment she falls asleep. I am pretty patient with her questions, of which there are many. And I encourage sisterly love and play between Lolly and Babs frequently. And yet. It wasn't enough. We were starting to have a lot of discipline issues and I was getting frustrated to say the least. I'm the Mom not the social director!

Here is the important part of all this rambling, as enjoyable as it all is. Even though it was very unintentional, depriving Lolly of her daily social needs (that were just not being met by family) was essentially the same thing as forcing a shy, introverted child to socialize and play with strangers all day long every day. Just less obvious.

So! That became my new daily parenting goal. Make sure that Lolly gets some socialization (besides me & Babs) every day. Sound complicated enough?! Oh, it is. At least for me. Gone are the days of just going outside and playing with whatever kids happened to live on your street. Nowadays, it's all about play dates. And with the play date, you also have to entertain the mother. Not always fun. Especially if you don't particularly enjoy the mom. Or if you were hoping to get some housework done while the kids played. We have one or two friends that we can do the drop off play date with, but I can't exactly call them everyday. That would make me slightly stalker-ish in a non-socially acceptable way.

I decided to brainstorm! Doesn't that sound so exciting?! I would come up with a list of alternative social activities that we could do with little to no planning in between play dates and other activities. My obvious first choice was the library. As much as my kids love the library, all the shooshing from mom is kind of a buzz kill. The park! Nice in good weather. Assuming there are actually other kids there which isn't the case most of the time. My good friend Hairyshoefairy suggested grocery shopping, which is totally going into my Social Activities Parenting Arsenal.

There was just one idea that I kept coming back to. It would work no matter what the weather was outside. And the likelihood of other children being there was good. Very good. It had so many things going for it. What was this mecca for childhood socialization that would not drive this Mama crazier?!

McDonald's Playland. Joanie is brilliant.

We tried out the McDonald's Playgroup today for the first time. My girls were happy campers! They got to go to McDonald's! And play on the play ground! I was the Best Mom Ever for the day! And me? I could relax, enjoy my fries and just be. I could talk to people. Or not. No one cared. I watched the kids play and glanced at my magazine a bit. That was a little difficult to do while keeping an eye on the girls. Next time, I'll just sit by the door. Everyone was happy. My girls got to socialize and play and I could just be....all Zen-like. It. Was. Awesome.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

One Last Hurrah

It's been a while since I've had an "I'm sick" post. Hasn't it been nice? I've rather enjoyed it myself. But winter seems be wanting one last hurrah around here. On Monday morning it was snowing. SNOWING. So I was outside, looking like a fool in my superman jammies, trying to brush the snow off our tree limbs so we wouldn't lose any more. It was a Kodak moment I'm sure. Then, to add insult to injury, this morning I woke up sounding like a man.


Not really.

And the timing is just super fabulous as well with a certain event coming up this week...

I'm Going to the CBC!

Yep, I'll be there. Coughing into my elbow and vainly chewing Vitamin C tablets. Yes, my friends, I will be the belle of the ball.

On the bright side, I'm going to take my latest parenting plot on a test drive tomorrow and you'll get to hear all about it. See? There is always a silver lining if you look hard enough.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Favorite-less

I don't really have a Friday Favorite today. I'm too cranky to be a creative genius and come up with something clever. This week I started physical therapy on my shoulder. And it hurts. And is making me a little whiny. Slightly unpleasant at times. Mostly, it just hurts. Really a lot. I didn't realize how right handed I was until now. I'm very right handed.

You're probably wondering why on Earth I would be in physical therapy. Well, it's from an old injury dating back to the high school days. A wild vacuuming injury. Yes, I actually managed to dislocate my shoulder while VACUUMING. Of course, for all of you who know me in real life or have been reading this blog for, oh...a week or two, that's not all that surprising. It's just me. And we love me for it, right?!

But never fear. I have some good stuff coming. We celebrated Babs 3rd birthday with a wild, party filled weekend. And I have recently discovered that I actually am a design snob, which kind of came as a surprise. We'll see if you're surprised as well.

But until then......have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Favorite-A Day At The Farm

There's not much better than spending the day at Wheeler Farm.

Except for when you go with friends.
It's even better.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Mother's Day To Me

You might have heard a mention or two of Mother's Day being this past Sunday. I, for one, started celebrating on Friday. Because I am a party animal.

On Friday we went to CG's work to have lunch and enjoy some out-of-the-house time. We haven't been to CG's work for lunch since, probably, last September or so. We were due.

After lunch and visiting, the girls and I went to an antique shop to have a look around. Now, you might be questioning my sanity for taking a 3 and 5 year old to an antique shop. And that's okay. I question my sanity all the time.

After our adventure in the antique shop, we walked to a cute little bakery that was close by. And! CG met us there to enjoy some bakery goodness. CG got a peanut butter cookie dipped in chocolate, I got a piece of chocolate mouse cake and the girls split a "chocolate porcupine" which was a piece of chocolate cake with raspberry filling, chocolate butter cream icing and all dipped in chocolate and shaped to look like a porcupine. I wish I had gotten a picture of it.

Then we headed to the mall for some retail therapy. Well, actually not for retail therapy. We headed for the Hello Kitty store. Because the girls just love it. I tolerate it. Ah, who are we kidding. I LOVE the Hello Kitty store. CG tolerates it. But it was his idea. The girls each got a cute little compact with a mirror and comb. I got this awesome wallet. Because I'm such a grown up and all. Cute, huh?!
We also took a little train ride. Choo choo!
On Saturday I actually thought it would be fun to work in the yard and get the garden weeded while the girls played outside in the kind-of-sunshine. This would be another good time to question my sanity.
After a few hours of hard labor, I decided it wasn't fun anymore. Then we went grocery shopping. Like I said, I am a party animal.

Sunday morning was lovely, except the part about having 9 am church. But! I got to watch/hear Lolly sing in church which is always a highlight for me. Unfortunately, at the beginning of sacrament meeting I got a migraine. It's my own fault really. I had said that I wanted a nap for Mother's Day. Next year I'll specify a nap without the blinding headache. Sadly, this kind of put a damper on my day, but I had such a nice weekend that I can't really complain. Well, I complained a little, but I'm not complaining anymore. And, really, how can I complain when I'm lucky enough to be the mom to these two girlies?!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Cinco de Mayo

I have had a bad day. I terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. To say it was a craptastic day would be glamorizing it. It was an epic failure kind of day. But it is Cinco de Mayo. Which is a national holiday. Granted, it's a national holiday for a country that I'm not actually a citizen of, but still a holiday. And so, we celebrate. Yay.

I made this yummy casserole for dinner. But we needed a dessert. A dessert that I could make that didn't require a trip to the store. Because seriously? Me loading up the girls and heading to the grocery store today would have moved our status from epic failure to atomic implosion. So, this dessert was born.
I think I'm going to call it Mint Oreo Pie. Because that's pretty much what it is. And now I'll share with you my amazingly complex recipe.

Mint Oreo Pie
16 Mint Oreos, crushed (technically you're supposed to use 18, but I only had 19 cookies and needed some to garnish)
3 tbsp. melted butter

Mix the crushed Oreos with the melted butter and press into pie pan.

Small box of chocolate pudding

Mix pudding according to package directions for pie filling. Pour into pie crust and sprinkle the last 3 crushed cookies over the top. Refrigerate until serving.

Easy yes? Now I'm going to go have another piece of pie. Happy Cinco de Mayo.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tip Tuesday-A Travelin' Fool

One of the questions I have been asked quite a few times since our trip to California has been "how was the drive?". Because, let's be honest, the combination of young children in a car for 10-12 hours each way can be a recipe for disaster. Disaster, I tell you.

And, in keeping with the honesty theme of this post, I must tell you that it really wasn't bad. No really. It could almost be called enjoyable depending on who you were asking. But it didn't just happen that way. I actually prepared in advance for the car trip almost as much as I planned for the rest of it. Can you even believe it?! I prepared in advance! I used to be able to do things like that a lot, but have since lost that ability. I think it has something to do with having children or not getting enough sleep or pollution or something.

For this week's (possibly month's) Tip Tuesday I'm going to share with you some of the things I did right on this trip. And some of the things I did wrong. Because those are inevitable for me. I will also share some random stories from our drive because I know you all totally want a play by play for all of the 20+ hours that we spent in our car.

First up, some things that worked:
**Fun kids music. Now, I know that may seem like an oxymoron, but it really does exist. Our theme album for this trip was "Under A Shady Tree" by Laurie Berkner. It's fabulous. We also had some Choo Choo Soul (great for anyone who likes trains or soul), You Are My Sunshine and a few others. Books on tape helped out as well.
**New library books that I read during the ride. This didn't work quite as well on the way down because the wind was so loud that I had to yell to be heard. I don't like yelling and I'm not very good at it.
**Toys borrowed from Grandma. My girls loved the view finders and that kept them entertained for quite a while. Or, like, 5 minutes. Same thing. I also had removed some of their toys that hadn't been played with in a while so they could make a reappearance on the drive.
**Pipe cleaners. Pipe Cleaners People! This was a huge hit. They can make things, you can make things for them, it's like a craft but not as messy and they're cheap.
**In the weeks before we left, I stocked up on little trinkets from Target's dollar section and the dollar store. Since we were going to Disneyland, I did a lot of princess things for the girls, but just about anything would work. A few things I got for them were tiny princess stamps with a cute bag to hold them and a note pad to draw on, sticker books, double sided mirrors (my girls LOVE looking at themselves in the mirror), giant wooden beads with string, silly putty, and things like that. I didn't actually use all of my tricks so what didn't get used went into my box of fun to use at a later time.

Some things that didn't work:

Well, I can't really think of anything we tried that really didn't work. But I can tell you that during the entire car trip I didn't get to do anything on my own because my time was spent keeping the kids happy. It was fine and I actually enjoyed getting to spend that extra time with them without the home distractions. On our trip to California we did take a portable DVD player and didn't even use it. I don't really have a problem with kids watching movies on a long car trip (putting on a movie for the 30 minute trip is whole different story & a bit ridiculous), but it was a last resort thing for me. Surprisingly, we didn't end up at the last resort. I have no idea why. I'm guessing the planets were aligned correctly or something. But on our most recent trip to St. George, I popped Alice In Wonderland in and let the girls enjoy. While I took a much needed nap. And that's okay, too. We all benefited from that time.

And now for some fun stories of our travels. On our way to California we stayed overnight in Las Vegas. Side note that must be shared-we stayed at The Eastside Cannery and were shocked. Not only was is a super great price, but the room was FABULOUS! So, if you're going to Vegas, stay there.
Anyway, the plan was to hit the M&M Store on our way out of town because our girls just love it. And I thought that might make the next four (more) hours in the car slightly less painful because they had gotten to do something fun. I think it worked. We had fun. And I even found the girls cute M&M t-shirts on clearance. Because that is just what I do.
Before we headed out of Vegas we had to stop for gas. And you know what that means. I HAD to play the slot machines. I begged a dollar off of CG and he obliged with minimal eye rolling. He didn't even wonder out loud how he could have ended up with a woman like me. So, I started out with a dollar lost some, won some and when I started losing again I cashed it out. One dollar in, three dollars out. Good times. But don't worry. I made it a teaching moment for our girls. I pointed out to them that it's fun when you're winning, but when you start losing it's time to cash out and move on.

Yes, tomorrow I plan on clearing a very prominent spot in our home for my Mother Of The Year Award.

Our trip towards California was otherwise uneventful, unless you count the time when I told CG that if he followed the stupid TomTom's (GPS) instructions and turned off Harbor Boulevard (which is the street our hotel was on) that our marriage was on line. Pretty typical travel experiences.

Our trip back from California was slightly more entertaining in a disturbing kind of way. While driving on the freeway we were blessed enough to be passed by a Very Large truck. With a "subtle" display of his personal beliefs on his trailer hitch. It was a large silver "male anatomy" swinging in the breeze. I was almost speechless. Not quite, but almost. Although I didn't find this truck to be nearly as disturbing as the truck we saw in LA that had the bumper sticker on it saying "If you really want to know what's happening in politics listen to Glen Beck".

Then came the exciting stop at some random gas station in Las Vegas. It was off the beaten path. Way off. Far enough off that it wasn't the classy part of Vegas, by any means. But we needed gas and a ladies room and this place offered both. I took my girls into the bathroom and while Lolly was doing her business we noticed something on top of the toilet paper dispenser that I thought probably did not belong in a public bathroom. I looked closer, didn't much care for the look of it and warned the girls to stay away from it. Which, of course, just made them want to play with it even more. I wanted to take a picture but didn't have my camera so you'll just have to use your imagination on this one.

We finished up with me feeling a little anxious to leave and informed the gas station attendant that there was something in there that they probably didn't want in there. He made an immediate beeline for the bathroom, then stopped suddenly to ask if we had touched it. I kind of laughed a little and said no. He would understand in a moment why there was definitely no touching.

It was about 12 inches long. The handle was about 3 inches and then after that it was 9-ish inches of sharp, pointy, thin, icky metal. There was no way we were touching that. You would have heard me screaming if there had been any touching.

He came out with it wrapped in a few layers of paper towels holding it as far away from himself as possible and was asking his co-worker if it was a prison shank. Clearly, this was our cue to leave this fine establishment. I had already tried to play the slot machine again and it had refused my previously won dollars so I took it as a sign that I wasn't meant to play again. So we continued on our merry little way.

Personally, I think the travel time is all part of the experience and one day, when my kids are older they will have memories of car rides like this to relive, laugh at and swear they'll never do to their kids. Until they have kids of their own, that is.

I see many more car rides in our future, so tell me....what are your great travel tips? Or horrific experiences that need sharing? I'm open to either since they're both part of the journey.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Things I Can Win At Yep, there has been a time or two (or three) that I have won a fabulous prize thanks to It's something I'm relatively successful at because it doesn't really require any skill or talent. Just randomness. And we all know how good I am at being random.

So, today I'm going to share with you a few things that I've been lucky enough to win and enjoy over the last little while. I'd tell you how long but that would be kind of embarrassing since it's taken me so long to post about it. I know! How unlike me!

Last, um, Fall I won some free business cards from U Printing from Scattered Mom's blog. I was super impressed because not only were they great to work with (since I had to submit my logo at least twice) but the business cards are FABULOUS. I bet you're wondering just what I had printed on those free cards. Well, see, I wasn't really sure what to do. But whenever I got to little blog get gatherings I see people handing out business cards with their blog, Facebook, Twitter and other various information about that. And I thought to myself, "Self, you should get some of those because your blog name? It's almost as hard to understand/remember as your real name". So I made blog cards.
Aren't they lovely? They've come in handy a time or two. And if you want, I can send some to you! That way next time you're at mommy group or book club and you're telling everyone about the most awesomest blog you've ever read, but it's such a long name that no on will remember then you can just pass around the cards. Oh, you mean that doesn't happen to you all. the. time?! Oh....well then....moving on.

Then a while back I won a cute little thing off of Jill's blog. She is an awesome blogger and someone I regularly stalk on her blog and on Twitter. She was having a week of giveaways and I won a cute little pocket mirror from My Button Boutique on Etsy. It's super cute and has so far proven to be fairly indestructible by little hands. Always a good selling point for me.
I also won passes to the Hogle Zoo thanks to Kristina & Stephanie. A couple of months ago they decided to do a fundraiser to gather Snuggies for a couple of retirement homes. And it goes without saying that I donated a pink Snuggie, although it was a tough decision choosing between pink and leopard print.

And most recently I just won another something FABULOUS! I'm really so excited about it. I won a Shirly J gift basket from the lovely ladies at Sassy Scoops. I've recently been trying to convince CG that we need to switch out a bunch of our canned food storage items for some items from Shirly J because they're so super yummy AND they take up a lot less space. And space is valuable around here. Really valuable. Also? A lot of their products actually cost less than the canned version that I've been buying at the grocery store. So that's, like, a double score.

Wow. That's a lot of things that I've won. I promise I don't spend all my time entering giveaways. Really. I'm even luckier than I thought I was! Seriously, I'm thinking that I may have entered 10 maybe 15 giveaways in the last SIX months. My odds are pretty good. Maybe I should spend some quality time in Vegas.

Now, as much fun as I know it is for you to hear about all the fun things I have won, I know it's even FUNNER to enter giveaways yourself so you can win something wonderful. Over at Make It Work Mom's there is a Mother's Day giveaway/freebie extravaganza where you can get in on the action. And Jill has a great cake giveaway going on.
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