Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Well...That Escalated Quickly...

As a Stay At Home Mom of 2 Preschoolers, a 200 lb dog & 4 cats - I pride myself on being pretty darn organized and being able to multi-task like nobody's business.  I can literally cook dinner, fold a load of laundry, wipe the nose of a child with the sniffles, talk to my mother on the phone, pull a kid's stuffed animal out the mouth of a mastiff, and do my income taxes all at the same time.  However, even the most accomplished of super mom's has a "day" where it just all falls apart.  For me - that day was yesterday.

The day was off to a good start - I woke up and didn't have hives (which I get randomly for a week or 2 seemingly unrealted to anything in particular, unless I ate a lot of dairy but even sometimes when I don't).  I went into Lauren's room to find her buck naked (nothing new here)...as many times the outfit she planned on wearing is in the laundry and thus refuses to wear clothes until said article of clothing is "clean" (and by that I mean - I take it out of the dirty laundry and shake it out.  Don't judge - any port in a storm).  So I'm digging through the dirty laundry - Ben screaming at me to get him out of his crib - yes, he's still in his crib.  The convenience of this is beyond priceless.  He has never tried to get out of it, although I'm positive he could.  But he loves the safety of his crib, and thinks the only way he can get out is if Mommy gets him out, so if this means he's in a crib until he's 14, so be it.  So 1 kid is screaming, the other is naked, dirty laundry being savagely strewn about my bedroom....and the doorbell rings.  It's 8:07am.  What the hell?  I peer out the bedroom window and see a CNG (Connecticut Natural Gas) truck parked in front of my house.  This can't be good.  I tell naked Lauren to wait upstairs and scurry down to open the door.  Brynn - the 200 lb Mastiff - is barking and trying to get outside to the perceived "threat", so I open the door just a crack  - Brynn's snout wedged instantly between the cracked door - and an official looking gentlemen tells me that our house is due for inspection of the gas lines.   A bunch of things run through my head...like why would they show up unannounced at 8am?  Isn't there a better system than this?  I don't have a bra on.  Maybe the guy is a disgruntled employee looking to bust his way into my home and tie us all up?  Ben's screaming, Lauren's naked, and Brynn hasn't eaten breakfast yet.  So I tell him this isn't a good time and he slides notice through the crack in the door that instructs me to call CNG to schedule an appt.  Yeah - that's the 1st thing on the old priority list. 

By this point, Ben is worked into a full fleged frenzy, so I run up and grab him out of the crib and continue on the quest to find Lauren's pink shirt with the zebra on it in the dirty laundry.  The dog is downstairs barking at her food bowl, as the Mastiff has a hearty appetite and expects her 3 cups of food with beef broth and sour cream promptly upon waking.  So you know - just in case I didn't already feel like my morning was a little hectic, I have the unnerving gutteral bark of the dog to remind me that I'm not moving fast enough. 

Just as I see a flicker of the bright pink zebra shirt in the laundry (SUCCESS!) - Lauren's screams in from her room, "Ben pee on my floor!!! MAMA!  Ben  PEE!!"  Oh seriously?   Sure enough, there's Ben standing there - pull up on a heap on the floor - standing in a puddle of pee, crying.  As I'm searching for paper towels and cleaner I hear the dog barrel-assing up the stairs and heading for Lauren's room (aka - scene of the pee crime).  Lauren pipes up with "NOOOOOOOOO BRYNN!!!!  That Ben PEE!"   I get in there just in time to see Brynn licking the pee off the floor - Lauren pulling on her collar in a futile attempt to move a dog 4 times her size, and Ben still standing in the same spot crying.  At this point I decide it's time for a glass of wine.  Just kidding....I decide the best way to handle this is to split up this dynamic trio in order to be able to clean the pee with as little collateral damage as possible.  First, I take the dog and lock her in my bedroom.  I then put Lauren and her outfit in the bathroom tell her to get dressed and use the potty, then I set about the mission of cleaning up pee.  I realize that Ben is just too much of a mess to wipe down and that a bath will be in order.  Of course, the dog has to go out to do her business and eat (lest she start snacking on the cats) before I start the bath process, so I throw a bath towel around Ben and tell him to wait while Mommy takes the dog out and then it's time for a bath.  He instantly throws himself on the floor - red-faced, fists balled and proceeds to scream "I no want a bath" over and over and over.....

Instead of fighting that battle right then, I figure I'll at least get the dog out and then fed and maybe Ben will be more agreeable when I get back. Sometimes he forgets what he's protesting - I should only be so lucky this morning.  I throw on my flip flops and winter coat and head outside with the dog.  If my Facebook friends could only see me now.  As Brynn takes care of business I stare at my house thinking about all the crazy that goes on in there and wonder if this type of whacky is on par with the likes of Honey Boo Boo?  At the very least, some sort of TLC trainwreck.  If only there were midgets involved, then we'd really be on our way to reality stardom.  I'm yanked from my thoughts by Brynn who has spotted a real threat....a neighbor's cat.  Brynn gets right into "guard mode" and starts barking at the cat and it's then I realize that she's got her back foot firmly planted in her own shit.  My to-do list is growing by the minute.  I don't know if you've ever tried to clean the paw of a 200 lb dog.  But it's a challenge. She automatically assumes it's nail clipping time and all hell breaks loose. 

In any event, we all made it through the day....some of us less sane than others.  When Brian called for his daily noontime check in to see how my day was going, I told him that I could understand now when you hear about these people who go into a "fugue state" - where they conveniently forget who they are, block out all memories and wind up in a bus terminal in San Antonio.  Wandering around with no clue as to who they are and how they got their.  I'd be willing to bet that many of these people are mom's who just needed a temporary break from the crazy :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Let's Decorate!

I love to decorate for every occasion.  I've been known to go a bit over the top (especially at Halloween) - but Halloween is worthy of it's own blog altogether!  Anyway, I've always loved having the house dressed up according to whatever holiday happens to be coming our way...and I find it especially fun now that I have the babies.  They LOVE to help mommy decorate and it provides hours of fun for them (and me!)  It gives them a creative little outlet.  Don't get me wrong - we're not competing on Design Star over here :)   We're just having some fun while making the house look festive :) I usually make a it a day project for the kids.  I'll tell them the night before as I'm putting them to bed that tomorrow we're going to the "decoration store" and then come home and decorate. Afterward we bake a dessert that has something to do with the holiday.  More on that later!  It's a busy day with several different parts of the "project" :)    So how do we decorate on a budget?  DOLLAR TREE

I've never been into a Dollar Tree prior to having kids. WHAT?  I know....I've clearly been living under a rock.  When we were having a bday party for my son a few years ago, someone told me the Dollar Tree had mylar balloons for - your guessed it - $1 each. Compared to $3+ a balloon at some of the other party stores, I decided to check it out. When I got there I was OVERWHELMED!  I mean, tons and tons of party decor, seasonal decor, arts & crafts for kids....all for $1 each.  I couldn't believe it.  Now I'm hooked.  It's perfect for what we're doing...having fun decorating  - not having to worry about the kids dropping expensive decor or family heirlooms :)    What I like to do is pair this Dollar Tree stuff with some nicer pieces I already have.  For example, I spent less than $10 decorating for Valentine's Day.  And I can reuse most of this stuff next year.  I always decorate my mantle and then scatter a few other seasonal pieces around the living room and dining room. Here are some pics of my Dollar Tree decor...

Halloween Mantle....

Fake black roses from Dollar Tree in a nice vase I already had, 1 package of scattered fall leaves, 2 little "tombstones", 2 snowglobes with black cats & pumpkins, tealight candles, and of course spiderwebs with plastic spiders (needed 2 packages of spiderwebs). Everything on this mantle is from the Dollar Tree accept for the vase and the large candles.   Total spent -$8

 The Fall Dining Room....a pack of 10 colored fall leaves - you guessed it - $1.  I tape them up at varying angles around the room.  The little scarecrow I use for both Halloween and Thanksgiving decor. Another cute tombstone, and an old car being driven by 2 skeletons I bought on a 50% sale after last Halloween for $4 (not Dollar Tree!) .  Tealight candles in pumpkin candelholders (courtsey of my mother, and may I add - straight from the 70's.  No seriously, these things were made in someone's ceramics class..)  You can buy a bag of tealight candles for $1, as well.  Total spent - $7

Thanksgiving Mantle.  Used the leaves and scarecrow from Halloween.  2 turkey candleholders as decor (thanks mom).  I put some funky gold shimmery stalks from Dollar Tree in the vase and bought a roll of pretty ribbon and tied a bow around the vase.  Total Spent - $4

 Valetines Day Mantle!  Dollar Tree buys:  both red heart vases, 2 packages of pink & red glittery heart sticks to fill up the vases, a roll of red heart garland, a bouquet of fake roses in vase I already had. Red heart on wall (in a pack of 6).  Total spent - $7

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gluten Free...To Be or Not to Be?

Although we are not a strict "Gluten Free or Dairy Free" family - we do enjoy many of the healthy advantages a gluten free diet offers.  I was gluten free for over a year and felt fantastic.  While I'm not allergic to gluten, I definitely could feel the benefits of eating a healthier diet in general.  I do have a sensitivity to dairy - if I eat too much I actually break into hives.  But again, it's just not realistic to cut 100% of dairy out of my diet.  So I do the best I can.  Since I don't HAVE to be gluten-free, it was difficult to sustain, so I now aim for moderation in our house and for our family.  We try to eat a healthy balanced diet - some of which contains gluten and some doesn't.  I'd like to teach my children about nutrition at a young age so they get a chance at a healthy start to life.  I also don't want to elminate ANY food altogether, so I do allow them the occasional fast food meal.  I try to be as realistic as possible knowing there are going to be just be times when we're out and about and we're all hungry and cranky and the easiest thing to do is to stop for a Happy Meal.  The key is moderation.  Doing it every day wouldn't be healthy for our bodies or our wallets, but on the same token, it's a fun treat and let's face it - a part of our society.   

That said, I'm always looking for and/or creating new yummy and healthy recipes for our family.  One of these recipes I stumbled upon a few years ago and it's become a staple in our house for breakfast.  My 4 year old daughter Lauren will literally ask for it for all 3 meals some days.  She is my picky little princess when it comes to food, so when this was a hit, I was thrilled as it's chaulk full of protein and fiber, and vitamins.  I call it Gluten Free/Dairy Free Almond Chex Delight

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Snowed In

Here in Connecticut we recently experienced a blizzard named either Charlotte or Nemo. Well I guess the official name is "Nemo", however here in CT some weather stations give the storms their own names, thereby creating more confusion than necessary.  In any event, we received 32 inches of snow here in Manchester, CT and we were snowed in for 3 days before a snow plow finally showed up.  3 days - 2 preschoolers, a 200 lb dog who is not a fan of "going" in the snow, and limited liquor.  By day 3, we were ready to hoof through the almost 3 feet of snow down to a liquor store in hopes of replenishing our supply of liquid sanity. (but the plow showed up just in time, and we were able to drive..)

There's only so much play-doh, art, coloring, puzzles and building tents in the living room out of bedsheets the kids could do before the fighting, whining and nagging began.  So here we were, 6 hours into the storm of the century, when all hell broke loose.   So I did what any other mom-on-the-edge-of-sanity would do.  I put them in front of the TV, and promptly started texting my friends with kids to commiserate.  Had I known at that point we were in for 2 more days of the same, I probably would've lost a little piece of my soul.  But instead I discovered 2 - count 'em TWO - magical activities that kept the kids busy enough to get us through the next two days. With that said, I'd like to thank Disney Junior Online, for providing fun, educational games that my 3 & 4 year old could easily learn to play on their own with limited direction. Go to Disney Junior Online Games  and check it out.  The best part was that I felt that the kids were actually DOING something and not just sitting zoned out in front of the TV like little couch potatoes.

The second fun & FREE activity was playing on my iPhone with free apps for kids I was able to download.  Now I'm very protective of my iPhone after the incident last summer where my son fell into a duckpond and I had to go in after him - iPhone still in my pocket.  It was destroyed and I didn't have insurance on it.  It was a $500 trip to the duckpond.  So I keep this new phone under lock and key, lest anyone look at it the wrong way and so much as hurt it's feelings.  But desperate times call for desperate measures, and so I let the kids take turns playing with the phone.  Turns out there are lots of free, fun & educational games to keep them entertained.  When they tire of one game, I delete the app and download another.  And it's portable.  Let's just say this will come in quite handy on our next grocery shopping trip.  I'm now on a Pinterest mission to find more fun, creative fallbacks for a rainy day.