Monday, January 29, 2007

Decisions, decisions....

I have a big decision looming before me. And it's one I have to make in the next day or two. Back in September when I put Ella on a few waiting lists for preschool I really didn't think we'd hear from all three of them. They all had waiting lists and are all quality programs. And September certainly isn't that early to get on a waiting lists. Some are said to have year plus long waits. I kind of figured that we had the best chance of getting into one that was really close and the best price and the others would be filled up. Of course all three schools would have a spot for Ella. We visited the first (cheapest, closest) earlier in the month and I was happy with what I saw and Ella was comfortable there. I figured our only dilemna would be, MWF or TR. That was enough of a decision for me and I thought about it for a week - while I'm thinking I hear from another school and we find out that Ella has the final spot for the three year old class - should we choose to accept! This one is more expensive, $35 more a month. I decide to take a tour just for the heck of it, in the back of mind thinking that it's not a good idea because I'll probably love it and have a tougher decision to make. What do ya know...I love it. I love the feel of it, the classroom layout, the structure, the curriculum. It's definitely nicer - but I'm not sure if it's worth the extra money. We could manage it for a year, but then when Catherine would start the following year that price difference would be even bigger. Each has its own advantages with scheduling, location, etc....but at this point it boils down to cost.

I guess my question it worth it and does it matter? Will our choice of a preschool really have that much of an impact on Ella and Catherine? A mom of four told me that when they get to kindergarten the teachers want kids that know how to listen and sit still and are acclimated to being in a classroom and with other kids. The rest doesn't really matter. Anyone agree with that? Ultimately I know there is no wrong decision. I'm sure the kids will do fine at either school (I forgot to add that the third was even more expensive than the 2nd and the furthest away = easy elimination!). Do we go the less expensive route and save money so we can invest in their education when they're older (i.e., all the classes and programs available to school age kids - because you know Ella will want to be a horseback rider! In her dreams..!)? Or are these formative years that important that we stretch ourselves to go to the more expensive school?

Ugh. Any wisdom from those that have been through this would be welcome. As well as from those who haven't and just have an opinion! As I said, I have to make a decision by Thursday at the latest, probably sooner than that. I'm sure you'll all be waiting on pins and needles to hear our pick!

Until then....please fill my comments with lots of advice or just tell me to suck it up and stop being so wishy washy. I promise I won't be offended. At least I won't be too offended. I mean, I probably will talk to you again....eventually!

In all seriousness, thanks for reading.....

Friday, January 26, 2007

She eats!

We had a minor miracle in our home this week. Ella, who is typically a fairly picky eater (mac 'n cheese, chicken nuggets, fruit, yogurt, breakfast food, pizza, grilled cheese - pretty basic, no veggies or "different" types of food) decided that she would partake of the lovely food that mom had prepared. Not once, not twice, but FOUR dinners this week, Ella ate exactly what I had prepared. I'm still a bit in shock over it. Dinner at our house is me making something for Matt and myself and then at the last minute going "oh man, what are the kids gonna eat." It's a mix of us liking to eat food that isn't always kid friendly (I know, I know....they need to get used to it) and me just not having the energy or the time to fight with her at the end of the day. We do occasionally, but many nights Matt or I am heading out the door for something and we just want to eat in peace. I know most of you are sighing and thinking that I really need to buckle down and make her eat what I cook. I just say "she'll come around" - and not really believing it.

But this week she ate pork chop dinner (potatoes, carrots and pork chops cooked in tomato soup and seasonings....I did fib a bit and tell her it was chicken!), Southwestern Chicken Soup - our favorite winter soup that is full of beans, corn, tomatoes, green chilies, and chicken - it's even a bit spicy, she ate Spinach-Tomato Pasta Toss (baby spinach, diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning, italian sausage and mozzarella cheese tossed with penne). I have to pause there and say that I came very close to getting out the camera and taking a picture of my daughter willingly eating green vegetables AND saying "yummy, this is delicious" at the same time. Last night she ate corn flake chicken (not a new thing), but stopped short of eating strawberry spinach salad. That was fine....more for me!

Tonight is taco salad. She's never eaten red meat so who knows how that will go over. I might be able to make a soft taco with everything but the meat....

In honor of Ella's eating I am going to post the recipe for the southwestern soup. This is so easy and so good. We usually end up freezing half of it and it's reheats nicely.

Southwestern Chicken Soup
2 cups chicken broth
2 lbs cooked chicken - cooked and cut into pieces
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (16oz) stewed tomatoes
1 can corn
1 can (16oz) tomato juice
1 can chopped green chiles
1 pkg each of taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix

Mix together in large pot and cook on medium until warmed through. Top with monterey jack cheese.

I know the pkg seasoning mixes are high in sodium. There are low sodium taco mixes and you can always make your own. I'm sure there are recipes online. You can make this in the afternoon and let is heat up on low all day long or throw it together at the minute. Also, tostito chips are another good topper!

P.S. - In case you were wondering about Catherine, her dinner usually consists of cucumbers and apple sauce. In other words....she's worse than her sister. Sigh...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mid month review....

Wow, it's been awhile. Sorry to those of you who happen to check in here and find that nothing is new - for two weeks! - it's been a long couple of weeks. The kids have had colds....which ended up progressing into a sinus infection (Ella) and ear infections (Catherine). Of course this all happens over the four day weekend that Matt is away at a Young Life camp. When he got home Monday night I was feeling a bit nutty and looking forward to a break and having another adult around as well. Unfortunately he collapsed on the couch and has been pretty much out of it since then. Yeah, since Monday. He did go to work a bit but would come home early, exhausted and spacey. So he's been pretty much living in the basement and sleeping a lot. I'll admit I was not very nice to him on Monday night/Tuesday morning. I think that's an understatement. Just a bit. He came home from being away for four days and collapsed on the couch without letting me know something was wrong. I understood it was a long weekend, but Ella had been sleeping with me for three relatively sleepless nights as she coughed so much I feared she would throw up (does this happen to anyone else's kids?). So I wasn't very nice and of course felt bad when I realized he was sick. He did say that he understood my frustrations since he was so out of it he didn't clue me into how he was feeling, leaving me to think he came home and was too tired to help out and give me a bit of relief. Basically a few seconds of communication and we would have avoided hours of frustration. That's something we work on all the time.

I spent alot of time at the computer this week- reading blogs, posting comments on some, but everytime I thought about adding something new I would just go into a daze and zone out. This is why I was never a successful journal keeper. I love writing and putting my thoughts out there but I think I'm a bit ADD and have a hard time staying focused unless I have a really specific topic. I think the best format for me would be to dictate my blog. That's it. I'll just record my thoughts..... and then I will absolutely never get around to typing them up! :)

What else is going on around here....

Well for starters I started this last night but didn't finish before the laptop ran out of juice and I'm just sitting down again. Matt's still sick. He's sick of being sick. Keep him in your prayers!

Another reason I didn't post this last night was that it was Thursday night! Until Veronica Mars comes back, Thursday is the only night that I watch TV - but of course there are three awesome shows on in an hour and a half period. Some highlights....

The Office - loved it! NBC has posted the director's cut on their website and it's definitely worth watching - Phyllis has a moment that made me laugh out loud as well as some other good scenes. I wish this show could be longer. Some of my favorite moments - the look Ryan gives the camera after adding the "accents" to the Mexican lemonade, Jim missing Dwight, Michael going to get Dwight at Staples and the music in the background (Love lifts us up...), Oscar talking to Angela as she walks away when Dwight walks in, and of course Jim's answer to Karen's question....and so many more....feel free to add your favorites....

Scrubs the musical - again, so funny. I was definitely laughing out loud the whole time. I was a bit distracted because Ella was having a hard time going to sleep so I'll have to rewatch it later.

Grey's Anatomy - really good episode, really hard to watch - many tears were shed. T.R. Knight (George) was my favorite in this one....

Ok, so I didn't plan on doing a tv recap....

In real life....

The kids are getting better, less coughing and nose running. Luckily they never get sick of being with me since it's been mom pretty much nonstop for about a week now. I've been trying to get out of the house as much as possible to give Matt time to rest without feeling guilty but I'm running out of options.

Our favorite new activity is finger painting in the tub. A friend in my MOTS group suggested it on Wednesday and we've already done it twice. The kids LOVE it - they paint on themselves, each other, the tub. After we're done painting I run the water and we clean everything -they even find that fun. Then we drain the bright blue-green paint water so they can get clean for real. Something is wrong with our tub drain so it takes forever for the water to drain - all in all this activity takes close to an hour!

Catherine is slowing starting to add some more understandable words. "All done" is her latest. She has this funny laugh-growl thing she does that cracks me up. Lately she really enjoys trying to put diapers on her baby dolls - just like her big sister. It's funny watching them interact. In some ways, Catherine is the ring leader. She often initiaties an activity that Ella will mimick or want to do as well. I think this is just an age thing - Ella would gladly direct all of Catherine's play but Catherine is all into being independent, whereas Ella loves playing with people.

I'm taking a cake decorating class. It's fun and I definitely have more to learn than I thought! After working with the icing so much and smelling it for hours on end, I have no desire to sample my own work.

Ok, I have to stop this randomness. I could go on and on about this and that and no one would ever get to the end. Sorry that I am not that great about updating things regularly or including pictures. I can recommend two blogs to go to if you're looking for some regular postings - especially on the area of motherhood and family stuff - Crafty Pumpkin (but Christina is having twins in a few months so catch her and all her quotes, fun tips and websites while you can!) and A Groove Slightly Transformed (Beth is a mom of four girls who spends alot of time processing life in a very honest way - good stuff to make you think!).

Thanks for checking in!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Missing Christmas....

Ok, so I didn't totally miss Christmas, but that's how it felt at the time when I was sitting on the stairs watching my kids unwrap their gifts from afar. I spent most of the day Christmas Eve and Christmas day in bed fighting the stomach flu. I say fighting, because I hate hate hate the stomach flu so much that I fight it and resist it until the bitter end. I really think I have a phobia to throwing up. Is there an official term for that? I have it. Maybe because I hardly ever do it so just the anticpation of it makes it worse than it is. Who knows...

Anyway - I didn't spend alot of time with the family over the actually day of Christmas. But we drove to my parents house later Christmas afternoon and after a little more rest I started feeling normal. Although it wasn't totally normal because I didn't want to eat alot which is unusual for me. Kind of convenient I guess. That feeling did go away towards the end of the week and I got to enjoy my mom's Christmas cookies and all the other tempting treats.

So I can't share too much about my kids' reaction to their gifts. Ella got a bike with training wheels, Catherine got a sit-n-spin (which she prefers standing on, fun fun...) they both got a little keyboard with a microphone (very funny to watch them "sing" into it- Catherine just does alot of heavy breathing), Ella got a desk from my parents where she can store all her art supplies and do all her art work. At the moment that's one of her favorite gifts.

It was nice having Christmas day at home. We've decided to try and stay home for the actual day of Christmas as much as possible. But we love seeing family so we pack up and head out pretty quickly for a week long Christmas tour. We headed to Clearfield for Christmas with the Koerber family, which was an event since we pretty much just celebrate Christmas and Christmas Eve all over again. After a few days there we head to Ellicott City for Christmas with the deMontaigne's. After about a week straight of presents I've had to keep reminding Ella that Christmas is over - until next year.

Ella really enjoyed playing with her cousins. Her and her cousin Isaac would head downstairs to the playroom at my parents and just play pretty peacefully until Ella decided she wanted Isaac's Thomas the Train all to herself. Yep, that's right. All the toys that she got from my parents and she wanted to play with Isaac's most prized gift. He was very sweet with her and quite generous but by the end of the visit he was starting to get frustrated. Ella understands sharing but she is only quick to apply it when she wants to play with other people's toys. When I would caution her about not giving a toy back to Isaac, she would respond "Mom, I'm just sharing it". Same thing when she would want to use Catherine's new shopping cart. But if Catherine tried to play with Ella's new toys that "kind" spirit of sharing totally disappeared and it became "That's MINE!". Anyway Catherine had fun trying to keep up with Ella and Isaac and got her first kiss from Isaac one night while they watched TV. I might try to post it because the look on her face is so funny.

While at Matt's parents house Ella got to spend an entire day with Hayden and Sophia -without mom and dad! It was nice for me to see that she was so comfortable with us leaving her with Matt's sister because we don't get to see them that often. Poor Catherine got stuck doing some after Christmas shopping with us!

We were gone for a week and we were all anxious to get home and actually enjoy our presents. Now I have to start going through their old toys and deciding what can be put away. I'm not sure which is a more daunting task, that or taking down the Christmas decorations.

My little bout with the flu aside, it was a really nice Christmas. Each year the kids understand more and more about what is going on and it makes it more exciting for me. One of my favorite things was watching home movies from Christmas' past. Waaaayyyyy past - some from when I was 12 years old! We got so many laughs out of it and a few tears as we got to see loved ones who have passed away (and even my old dog Broozer). It's made me realize how important and special it is to record those events - as annoying as it may be at the time (believe me, it was apparent that there were many times we were annoyed with video camera) it is definitely something I treasure having now.

I can't think of a graceful way to end this post other than....on to the New Year !! Hopefully I'll get some thoughts up about that soon!

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