Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Worst Cooks in America

Have you seen the Food Network show Worst Cooks in America yet?  Spence and I became hooked this week!  He's always been a sucker for food network competition shows like Chopped and Cupcake Wars, actually we all get into Cupcake Wars, and now we have a new favorite!  It's a show about a dozen or so self proclaimed (or spouse proclaimed) worst cooks in America.  They are split into two teams lead by Food Network chefs.  This season the head chefs are Anne Burell and Bobby Flay.  The chefs take them through cooking challenges and mini competitions to teach them how to cook and narrow them down to the best of the worst on each team.  Then the final two cook for food critics and the winner gets $25,000.

Our current favorite on the show is Erica Weidner, she's hilarious!  She is such a total wreck in the kitchen, yet still manages to hold onto enough goodness to stay in the show (though it's very early in the season still) because she shows promise.  They're all wrecks in the kitchen but she is a hilarious wreck!  On the Food Network website this is her description:

Erica enjoys cooking with unusual kitchen tools, such as razorblades and pliers, and considers food expiration dates to be mere suggestions. She needs considerable assistance in order to avoid harming herself in the kitchen and to keep her family safe from her meals.


Love it!  When I watch cooking shows everyone is SO much better at cooking than I am, which is a bit discouraging when you think about attempting the dishes they make.  So it's nice watching a show where the cooks are more lost in a kitchen than I am!  Gives a girl hope!  I mean, there's one guy who only knew how to cook things in the dishwasher!  The DISHWASHER!  The man was freaking out a bit when there wasn't one in the show kitchen!


Once we discovered the current season we found seasons 1 and 2 On Demand and are nearly done with season one.  Comparing the seasons so far, the Chefs are a lot harsher in season 1 where in season 2 (one of the chefs is different each season) they seem a little more relaxed - like they're teaching real people and all and not real chefs who should know better.  Maybe it's the difference in chefs that has inspired a more pleasant environment, perhaps Bobby Flay brings out the best in Anne Burell, where Beau Somethingorother brought out the mean in her?  


On a related note (I promise) have you seen the show The New Girl?  One of the contestants in season one (Rachel Coleman) reminds me SO much of Jess on The New Girl!  They look nothing alike but sound and act similar enough to give us a good laugh every time!  


Anyway, I recommend it for a good laugh, cooking inspiration, and hope for the hopeless!



Monday, February 20, 2012

Connor & Mommy Night

Sunday evening ended up being a Connor/Mommy night.  Spence and Mikayla went to some friends of ours's house to watch wrestling (the grown-ups) and the kids played video games.  Izzy was sleeping over at Nana and Papa's house because she was bummed that Mikayla was going somewhere and she couldn't (Izzy doesn't handle staying up till 10:30 at night very well the next day).  So by around 6:00 it was just me and Connor left at home.

 When a family of 5 suddenly becomes 2, it is SO much quieter!  First Connor and I cuddled on the couch eating Thin Mints and watching Gold Rush.  He loves all that machinery!  We've been meaning to take him down to the John Deere place nearby one of these nice days to get a close up look at front-end loaders, backhoes, and all sorts of bucket/blade wielding heavy machinery.  After watching Gold Rush for a little bit we got down on the floor and built car/block castles.  Then Connor would knock it down, look all apologetic and say, "Sorry", and we'd build another one.

 He was really hamming it up that night, even wanting me to forever capture the image of his foot.
 And his other foot.
 Then there was more building,
More hamming it up,
And then we sang songs.  This first video demonstrates how he doesn't like to let me sing with him (which may be why he gets most of the words wrong ;) oh well!), and how he has a flair for the dramatic.  
video

And one more, even BETTER ONE, in case you think he's as cute as I do.  Even MORE dramatic and mixed up!!
video

Clearly, we had a great time!  It is rare that he and I get one on one time, so that made it extra special.  And to top it off, once I put him to bed at 7:00 I had the house to myself for 3.5 hours!!  WOO!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentines For Tots

The Valentines Day art project the toddlers and Izzy did spanned over a few days to make.

First they painted pink on stiff white paper.  All the while we talked about the color pink, and painting, brush, and how paint is for paper - not for eating.

Then the next day we added red footprints to form a heart-ish shape.  There were lots of giggly tots and wiggly toes during that process!

The next day I helped them paint a heart around their footprints, hand-over-hand.  We talked about the color Red and the Heart shape, and how we paint nice and smooth!

Valentines Day Eve I hung them up on the door to welcome their parents (and us) in the morning!  They can give them to their Mom or Dad tomorrow after daycare!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hiding, Pinning, Zyrtec, and More

Time for a stream-of-consciousness post of sorts.

The toddlers in my life are big into hide and seek.  They are generally terrible hiders, but that doesn't stop them from squealing with glee every time someone finds them!  Connor's found a few spots lately that we wouldn't have found him quickly at all had he been quieter.  It cracks me up how every child I've known thinks it's a good idea to hide in the same exact place (or maybe one of three places) every time.  Also, I often take my time finding them.  I mean, why not enjoy a minute or two of silence right?

Speaking of games, Connor and my 16 month old daycare boy made a game out of cleaning up these little snap-together beads.  Daycare boy stood next to the bucket about 6 feet away from the pile of beads.  Connor would pick up a small handfull, or sometimes just 3 or 4 beads, bring them to daycare boy and put them in his hands, and daycare boy would put them in the bucket.  This took them a good 5 minutes at least to pick up the pile, but they had fun and were developing their team-work skills!

We spent a few days working on Valentine pictures for the daycare kids (even the baby!) to give their parents. They are turning out really cute!  Here is a picture of the baby's Valentine, I covered up his name.  I'll show you the bigger kids' version in a separate post.


I've started following a few more people's boards on Pinterest, but have been more selective in which boards I'm following in order to keep my main page easier to keep up with.  Specifically food boards!  It's hard to look at all that yumminess when you're on a diet!

I've become slightly addicted to wintergreen life savor mints.  They help me keep my mouth occupied when I'm hungry so I don't snack all day long.

I've finally started taking Zyrtec to deal with my many environmental and seasonal allergies.  While I'm still often itchy, it doesn't feel as bad as it was.  The main difference I've noticed, though, is how much easier it is to breath!  I didn't realize what I was missing until I had open sinuses!

I'm thinking of making the Pioneer Woman's pot roast again on Sunday because it is Oh So Yummy!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bullies

Bullies.

cm bullying 1
         image taken from google images

Every grade has them.  Most classes have them to some extent, even among the Kindergartners (and some preschool class rooms probably I'm sure).

Mikayla is nine years old and has already dealt with a few different bullies.  In Kindergarten and 1st grade it was a couple boys who were mean to everyone and pushing them around, threatening them with nasty looks.  In second grade it was more the mean girl kind of bullying.  She's in third grade now and has a particular boy in her class that is both obnoxiously distracting and physically aggressive.  I'd pick him up by his collar and scream in his face if I didn't think I'd get arrested.

The bullying this year has just recently started, and her class has been a mess of teacher switching because her main teacher has had a lot of back problems, so when Mikayla told us about this kid last weekend I told her if it happens again to tell her new teacher.  We are hoping her new teacher is strict and vigilant about this kind of behavior and will turn it around.

If the teacher doesn't do anything or it happens again though?  We told her this:  First get in his face and yell at him in your angriest voice, "Don't hit/kick me again or I'll hit/kick you back harder!!"  And if he takes it as a challenge and keeps it up then we gave her full permission to use what she learned in 21 months of karate and knock him on his nasty little butt.  She's a really strong girl, she could do it!  We told her if she were to get in trouble for it, and only if he got physical first, we would stand up for her.

I was bullied when I was a kid.  First in Kindergarten, then again in 6th grade, with some mean-girl junk somewhere in between.  In Kindergarten I had to walk quite a ways (at least it felt like it to my 5 year old self) down the road to my bus stop.  There I'd have to wait for the bus with two other Kindergarten girls who lived right next to each other and were good friends, and little b*&#@'s.  I'd have to get there about 5 minutes before the bus came to make sure I wasn't late or anything, and then they would torment me.  Pushing me around, knocking me to the ground, and when there was snow on the ground they'd throw big hard snow chunks the plows left at me until I cried.

Once there was enough snow to have created a big mound at the end of a driveway about half the way to the bus stop, I'd crouch next to that, hidden from those girls, and watch for the bus to pull onto our street.  Then I'd have to run like hell to get to the bus stop, where the bus driver would very irritably tell me to get to the bus stop sooner so he wouldn't have to wait.  I was five.

My parents had no idea this was going on because I never let on.  I don't know why I didn't tell them, I know they would have helped me if I had told them but for some reason I didn't.  I really wish I had.  They didn't find out until after the school year I think when a neighbor mentioned to them that they had seen me sitting in that other driveway before the bus came.  I don't remember what all the story was there, but I wish she had mentioned something to my parents sooner.

In 6th grade I was sitting in the back of the bus with my little sister and 2 other 6th grade boys.  For whatever reason those boys decided I'd be their kicking bag and the object of their constant teasing.  I came home crying most days, hiding it well from my parents.  I don't know exactly why I didn't tell them about it, whether it was out of embarrassment or fear of it being worse if they did something about it.  I wish I had told them about it earlier because when I broke down crying one night and told my parents, my dad got pretty pissed at them.  He got in the van with me and I showed them where the boys lived and he drove to each house and went in to talk to their parents.  I don't know exactly what was said, but it did get better after that.  I'm glad he talked to them, and I'm sure he would have rather kicked them right back for me, but knowing my dad he was probably much more of a calm storm than what was going on in his head.

I only wish I had been the kind of kid that would have been able to stand up for myself better.  I was quiet, shy, and other than some weird game where my friends would call me "Abigail" and I'd punch them in the arm, passive.  I guess I was an easy target, which is what I don't want for my kids.

We told Mikayla, and will be talking to Izzy about as well very soon, not to let herself be an easy target, and to always come to us when stuff like that happens because we (like most parents) will always be in her corner.  At the age she's at right now, most kids will back down if the victim puts up any kind of believable fight.  "Get in their face and make them be afraid of what you will do to them" is what we told her.  It's not the kind of thing I had the guts to do in elementary school, but I really wish I had.  Lots of things made me stronger as I grew up and learned more about life, and though I'm still pretty quiet much of the time, and the idea of confrontation fills me with anxiety, I'm a lot stronger.

Bullies are everywhere, and unfortunately we can't always count on teachers and school staff to see or do anything about it.  There are lots of teachers, some that I know personally, that are fantastic anti-bullying advocates, but there are too many out there that stand idly by and do nothing, or not enough.  And if the bully's parents are told about the behavior and do nothing about it, then there's not much a school can do other than expel the child when it gets to a certain point.  We've all seen the articles and news stories about kids getting bullied to the point of suicide in middle and high school, and the teachers and staff can't be everywhere and sometimes just don't know what to do about it.  It's worse these days than when I grew up, because it's not just school, parks, neighborhoods that it happens in, it's online.  Kids are getting viciously harassed on facebook pages and through text messages. Nasty lies and names can be spread to an entire school in a matter of seconds.

I don't have the answers to the big stuff, except to raise your children to accept people for their character no matter how different they act/look/believe/are. [[edited to add: I also realize that being a strong kid and them standing up for themselves will not always save them from harassment and violence.  I don't for one second mean to imply that a child is being bullied because they aren't standing up for themselves properly, only that it can help when no one else is standing up for them. ]] I don't have the answers, but we're trying our best to raise strong daughters and a strong son that will be compassionate and stand up for themselves and their peers.  Because, unfortunately, bullies will never be a thing of the past.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Kids Names

Hello out there!

If you haven't noticed, I haven't blogged much lately, or at all in the last couple weeks.  The longer I took to get back into blogging, the more I felt like I needed to do some massive recap or something which made me want to write even less.  So I'm going to skip any kind of massive recap and just pick myself up off my ignored blog's floor and get writing!  It won't be every day but hopefully it will be more often than... never.  Hopefully.

A while back I had mentioned that I was thinking about using the kids' real names, and after hearing lots of helpful input, and thinking about it a bunch, and running it by the hubs, I've decided to go ahead and introduce you to my kiddos!  I will not be using our last name though.  For those of you who don't know my kids' real names, here they are:

Mikayla

Isabelle (Izzy)

And this is Connor

Sorry! Wrong picture!
This is Connor

Aren't they cute!?  :o)
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