Monday, February 28, 2011

For muscular aches and pains

Dan pulled a muscle in his lower back this past week,
and I put together a batch of our favorite home remedy for muscular aches and pains:


Ingredients:
  • Bottle of green menthol rubbing alcohol
  • Bottle of bayer aspirin
Directions:
  • Crush up an entire bottle of bayer aspirin with a hammer.
  • Dump the powder into the bottle of rubbing alcohol.
  • Use cotton balls to rub the alcohol mixture onto the affected area.
This has been a really successful, nonmedicinal way for us to get muscular pain relief.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Land of Inbetween

There's a place between here and there.  A piece of ground in the middle of take-off and landing.  A section of the unknown within beginning and ending.  You probably find yourself there from time to time.  It's the land known as Inbetween.

Inbetween is one of the most rugged places in life.  You aren't fully here, and you aren't fully there.  Your emotions and hopes are strewn across an endless list of possibilities.  Door knobs of wood, brass, and silver line the path, but which will open?  In the land of Inbetween, the paths are lined with sealed envelopes and foggy dreams.  Excitement runs forward and fears hold back.  And if you stay long enough, you feel the tremors of  your soul.

The land of Inbetween is downright scary.  It's a place of blind trust.  It's where the pedals of faith meet the narrow road of fortitude and where movement is demanded though there's no place to go.  The worst part of this land isn't the uncertainty or frustration that accompany it - it's that God likes it when you're there.

While He's no sadist, God loves the land of Inbetween.  He loves what it does to us.  He loves the humility and dependence it creates in our hearts, so He creates innumerable forks in life's road that swerve us into the land of Inbetween.  The unknowns of job, marriage, children, and home are the signs of this uncertain land.  At times, people are thrust into Inbetween by mishaps, accidents, sudden deaths, and even unexpected fortune.  Some people visit so many times they begin to wonder if it's life.  And they aren't far off.

So what will hold you steady when you walk through the terrain of Inbetween?  A recognition that Inbetween is God's design.  In one miraculous moment, the Creator of the universe placed you in the greatest Inbetween of all time - the place between the earthly creation and eternity.  Life's smaller lunges forward and backward are merely postcard reminders that there's something greater than this place we're visiting.

If you're in your own land of Inbetween, remember that God was the original designer of this journey.  You can get mad, scream, and even pout if you want. But it doesn't change the fact that you're merely passing through.  Everything else is Inbetween.  
(from Deeper Walk, a Relevant Devotional Series)



This could not have come at a more fitting time for us.
Daily, we're asked 
What's next?
What's new?
How's the job search going?
How long will you be here?
Where will you go?
When are you coming home?
What will you be doing this time next year?

I'm so thankful for this reminder that we're just passing through.

Praying today that if you find yourself in a Land of Inbetween, 
you are as encouraged by these words as I am.
Waiting on 
a job?
a baby?
a marriage?
a move?
an answer?
a new start?

May we both find that this waiting is, in fact, an opportunity for us to live out faith,
"The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1)

Without faith is impossible to please God,
because anyone who comes to Him must believe
that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
(Heb. 11:6)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Girls are all the drama, and boys are all the trauma."

Last night, Tucker took his first trip to an Urgent Care.

Dan & I were early to pick up Lana from preschool yesterday afternoon, so we took Tucker to play on the playground for a few minutes before it was time to get her.

He was going down the slide when his shoe got caught on the edge and twisted his knee up and back.
He started favoring that right leg immediately, but didn't seem to be in substantial pain. 
He was walking, but would kind of collapse every 8-10 steps.  

We took him home, figuring that he had just tweaked it a little,
gave him some ibuprophen, and put him down for a nap.

He slept a solid 3 hours, and didn't wake up until 5:00.
We were sure he'd be feeling great, but when I got him out of his crib and put him down on the floor to walk, he couldn't.
Every 2 steps he would take, his leg would crumple under him.
He would cry when it happened, but it wasn't an "I'm in pain" cry,
it seemed like he was more frustrated that he couldn't get his leg to do what he wanted it to do.

We decided to go ahead and take him in for an x-ray, as it seemed to be getting worse instead of better.

Our friends Mikal & Alyson Rhino were so gracious, and took Lana right into their home on a Friday family evening for them so that Dan & I could both go.

I was so concerned about taking him to an ER and exposing him to all of THAT ickiness,
so Dan had the bright idea to take him to our local urgent care.  
On the way, I prayed in particular that he would be protected from catching something ELSE in that waiting room, and that the staff there would be well trained to help him.

We're so thankful for how the Lord answered our prayers!
When we arrived at the Urgent Care, there was not one person in the waiting room.
It was ALWAYS packed,
and there just wasn't another soul there.
We waited all of 5 minutes,
and they took us back.  
The nurse on duty just happened to be an x-ray tech who is just pulling some extra hours as a nurse.
She is actually the one who wrote their procedures for x-rays. 
Could I even have asked for any more???

The end result was good, too.
No fractures in his leg -
it's most likely a strained ligament.
The doc said to give him ibuprophen to help with any internal swelling,
and to let him do "activity as tolerated."  
He said he should be back to normal in 5-7 days.

The best part of the trip was the doc warning us as we were leaving,
"Yeah, girls are all the drama, and boys are all the trauma."

So far, so true.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Art time

One night earlier this week, we finished an early dinner, and Lana wanted to color a picture she got at gymnastics.  She pulled out the markers and settled at the table, and Tucker came screeching through the living room "I want color!  I WANT COLOR!"

So I set him up in his highchair near Lana with some markers and paper, and he had a blast coloring with big sister.

We colored together this way for nearly 35 minutes,
and while Lana worked hard on coloring neatly in the lines, 
Tucker did cool things like

putting marker tops on and taking them off

 matching colors of marker and top

learning to switch the top to a different way if it won't go on

coloring on his hands

pressing his messy hands on paper to see what would happen

and crying when it was time to clean up.

At first, I thought we were just coloring.
We were also practicing fine motor skills,
strengthening the muscles in the sides of his hands,
color matching,
problem solving,
experimenting,
getting sensory input,
developing new vocabulary,
and learning to love art.

I love being my children's first teacher.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bedtime stories, Daddy-style



I always, always, always read bedtime stories in the rocker, and then Tucker goes straight to the crib.
I love that Daddy and Mommy do things differently.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My little readers.

I've read to these two children every day of their little lives,
often multiple times a day.
I've spent countless hours turning the pages of children's books,
I've spent untold time in rockers, recliners, couches, beds, floors, tents, and more...
just reading.

And here's the payoff:



A 4 year old who is actually reading those words.
A 1 year old who is finally turning the pages, asking for books.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Baked Oatmeal


Baked Oatmeal

My friend Paige shared this recipe with me, and we absolutely love it!
My kids like regular oatmeal, but this just takes it to the next level for them.
We've tried lots of baked oatmeal, and many recipes turn out dry and almost like granola.  Blech.
This version stays moist and gooey, and inspires this non-oatmeal lover to devour my oatmeal!

Ingredients:
3 cups oats (not quick-cook)       1 cup milk                        3/4 cup dried cranberries/raisins
1 cup brown sugar                      2 eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon               1 stick butter, melted
2 tsp baking powder                   2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350*.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients in the first column.
  • Beat in the wet ingredients from the second column.
  • Stir in dried berries or raisins (or a combo).
  • Spread into an 8x8 pan.  (Double the recipe for a 9x13 pan.)
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 40 minutes.
  • Optional: during the last five minutes of baking, drizzle on a mixture of melted butter and brown sugar for an extra yummy topping.  

Tomato grits


Tomato Grits

My friend Emily shared this divine recipe with me, and every single time I make it, it's a hit.
People who don't even really like grits love these!
(I've made a few slight changes to her recipe to suit our family's preferences.)

Ingredients:
1.5 cups whole milk
2.5 cups water
1 cup quick grits
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 to 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 can Rotel tomatoes (I use Regular when making this for adults, and Mild when the kids will be eating it, too.)
  • Bring water and milk to a boil.
  • Add salt and grits, stir constantly for 1 minute.
  • Reduce heat, cover and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the stick of butter, stir, cover and cook for 3-5 minutes or until creamy.
  • Stir in cubed Velveeta cheese, remove from heat. (If you don't have the velveeta, just make it without it.  They'll be yummy anyway!)
  • Add garlic powder and 1 cup of shredded cheese.  Stir well.
  • Stir in the can of Rotel (including liquid) and mix well.  
  • Pour into baking dish and bake at 350* for 35-40 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese on the top the last 5 minutes of baking.



Mini-me

We found matching shirts in Dan's and Tucker's closet!
They weren't bought together...as a matter of fact, I think Tucker's is a hand-me-down.

I couldn't resist the cuteness this morning before church.



What do you think?  Does Tucker look like his Daddy?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Time out


When Tucker pitches a fit about something,
we tell him to go to his room.

We've never told him to sit on his rug,
but he does, nearly every single time.

We don't use time-out as a punishment, really - 
he doesn't have to stay in there any specific amount of time.


We just send him there when he starts tantrumming, and tell him that he can come out when he's done.

And he does.

This works like a CHARM with him.

Monday, February 14, 2011

You are my I love you.


I am your parent; you are my child.
I am your quiet place; you are my wild.
I am your calm face; you are my giggle.
I am your wait; you are my wiggle. 
I am your carriage ride; you are my king.
I am your push; you are my swing. 
I am your audience; you are my clown.
I am your London Bridge; you are my falling down.
I am your carrot sticks; you are my licorice.
I am your dandelion; you are my first wish.
I am your water wings; you are my deep.
I am your open arms; you are my running leap.
I am your way home; you are my new path.
I am your dry towel; you are my wet bath. 
I am your dinner; you are my chocolate cake.
I am your bedtime; you are my wide awake. 
I am your finish line; you are my race.
I am your praying hands; you are my saying grace.
I am your favorite book; you are my new lines.
I am your night-light; you are my star shine.
I am your lullaby; you are my peekaboo.
I am your goodnight; you are my I LOVE YOU.
by: Mary Ann Cusimano

I found this on my friend Andi's blog, and had to have it for my own.  Thanks, Andi!

I love it when you....

Our new Valentine's Day traditions:
homemade valentines from mama.



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hello, Week 5! Meet my new kicks.


Today I am in the middle of Week 5 of C25K.
(I'm running today instead of tomorrow b/c of some scheduling stuff.)

Here's what W5 looks like:

Day 1 (ran on Friday)
5 min - warmup walk
5 min - run
3 min - walk
5 min - run
3 min - walk
5 min - run
4 min - cool down walk

Day 2 (today)
5 min - warmup walk
8 min - run
5 min - walk
8 min - run
4 min - cooldown walk

Day 3 (will run on Wednesday)
5 min - warmup walk
20 min - run
5 min - cooldown walk

This is the week I become a runner.
(Real runners, please don't laugh at me.)
The week that I run without stopping for a long stretch - hopefully a couple of miles.

This is a big deal for me - I'm excited, and I think the program has prepared me for this.

For the past week, though, I've been having some knee pain immediately after I get off the treadmill, so Dan sent me to buy some new shoes.

I went to Raleigh Running Outfitters to be custom fitted.
Did you know they offer a 15% discount if you have a Y membership?!

I scored a pair of excellent Adidas Supernova Sequence; they feel like slippers on my feet.

Having a good pair of shoes to run in totally motivates me to keep on going.  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

This year's homemade valentines


I love making valentines.
Although I was SO tempted this year to go the premade route
(I even bought some and then took them back).

When I found this quick and cute idea online that would work for Tucker's & Lana's friends, 
I knew we could pull it off.

Nothing says love like a smiley face and a sucker!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Chicken Penne Alla Gibbs


My friend Kendra Gibbs shared this recipe with me a few years ago,
and it has become a family favorite of ours.

Ingredients:
2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 14-oz cans Italian diced tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
Seasonings (I use basil, oregano, salt, pepper.)
1 lb cooked, shredded chicken
penne pasta

  1. Saute garlic and onion in butter.
  2. Add tomatoes (including liquid) and cook down, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add cream and bring to a boil until sauce thickens.
  4. Add chicken and seasonings and heat through.
  5. Serve over penne pasta.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Life with Tucker today (1 year, 5 months)


Profile of a 17-month-old Tucker
  • Enjoys: throwing balls (and other toys), knocking down block towers, walking instead of riding in a buggy, reading books, brushing his teeth
  • Turn Offs: bandaids and stickers.  And messy hands.
  • Strengths: he's talking more and more these days, so he's doing great at communicating his wants or needs to us.
  • Vices: taking toys from his sister, throwing stacks of folded laundry
Favorites of a 17-month-old Tucker
  • Foods: exactly the same as last month.  He will eat anything that looks familiar.
  • Songs: Itsy Bitsy Spider, Five Little Monkeys
  • Shows: anything Elmo, and sometimes Blues Clues
  • Books: Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton.  He loves her books above all others!
  • Toys: shopping carts and strollers, riding toys, balls, musical instruments
  • Activities: walking around the store, throwing things in the trash, helping Mommy with the laundry, playing Ring Around the Rosie

New Words:
He says "I want _____," all day long.  "I want ball, I want cat, I want cup, I want go, I want book, I want eat."
My very favorite way that he uses this sentence is when he wants to play ball.  He'll hold the football over his head and say "I want frow!"  or "I want catch!"
If he's hungry, he'll come into the kitchen and tell me "Cook it!"
He calls his milk "manoo," for no reason that we can figure out.
"Dip dip" is when he wants to feed himself, as in "I want dip dip!"  That means give the boy the spoon.
Other words/phrases he's using now are:
thank you     catch it!     num-num     I see.     I get it.     outside     oh, man!
Shhhhh         OK             oatmeal       "Eggo" for Diego      eyes         nose

How 17-month-old Tucker is like his...
mommy - even if he's in a hurry, he'll often take the time to put a toy back in the cubby when he's done
daddy - other times, his version of cleaning up is pushing a toy under the changing table.  Yes, he's done that.

Treasuring details of 17-month-old Tucker
  • He calls Mommy Daddy.  It took us a while to catch on to it, but he never ever refers to me as Mommy unless prompted.  For several months, it's kind of hurt my feelings that he asks for his Daddy all the time - never Mommy.  But in the past couple of weeks, I noticed that at preschool, when he passes my office in the stroller and hears my voice, he says "Daddy!!!"  And now we've noticed that it's just what he calls me.
  • He gives wonderfully sweet kisses when asked.
  • He has learned to point to his nose, eyes, head, mouth, and belly.  Ears are in the vague direction of his head.
  • He is making some animal sounds....always duck, dog, and cat; and sometimes cow, sheep, and pig.
  • He follows directions remarkably well.  We can give him one step directions, and he'll comply almost every time.  His preschool teachers tell us that he does this for them, also.
  • When he pitches a fit, we tell him to go to his room until he's done....and he does.  It's working like a charm to end tantrums at home, although tantrums out in public are a bit tricker.
  • More often than not, taking him out to eat is a disaster.  He's a terribly picky eater, so he usually doesn't eat much when we're out.  And if he's done eating, he wants to get down and play.  Of course we don't let him, so then he screams.  Not pleasant.
  • Other things I want to remember from this age:
His fine motor skills amaze us.
He can open the childproof Tylenol.
These pictures show him hard at work:

When he wants to watch a movie, he'll go get the remote and point it at the TV and say "Elmo!"

For fun one night, I introduced him to a popsicle in the bath. 
He's a fan.

Anything and everything is a hat these days - including breakfast.

He loves to roughhouse with Dan, and will push him around the living room, trying to knock him down.

He's just now at the age where he likes to walk on low walls.  He's pretty good at it.

He makes the best faces when he's concentrating on something.

And if he's really deep in thought, he bites his lower lip.

We took him to Marbles for the first time this month,
and he loved it.  

Amazement.
I love this.

He has the funniest pencil grip right now.
Most kids his age wrap their entire hand around the writing utensil with the thumb on the top.
Tucker puts his thumb on the bottom.

He loves cars and trains, and makes the cutest sound effects to go with them.

He's lost so much of his baby look, and is beginning to look like a little boy.
I think he looks a lot like Dan sometimes,
but in general, he's a pretty good mix.

He got his first shiner this month - 
walked right into the corner of our end table,
going full speed ahead.
I bet this is just the first of many.



This picture made me tear up when I took it,
and even more when I put it on the computer and saw it big.
This is how I feel....
he's just growing and climbing and changing,
and I can't slow him down.
I want to scoot him back a few steps,
or at least make the staircase longer.
This is going by too fast.