Sunday, January 29, 2012

Kids are Gross

Kids are so gross. They will pick their noses. Eat stuff off the floor. Squish egg between their fingers when they are supposed to be helping you "hatch" them to help with the baking. Ryan refers to cracking eggs as hatching them. He loves to help out in the kitchen. And yes, he stuck his hand in the bowl and squished them between his fingers today. Uncontrollable urge I guess. And our little goat, as I like to call her, has had her fair share of gross., if you recall from a past post.

But tonight I experienced the ultimate in gross. Along with a good heaping helping of panic.

Our little acrobatic goat can climb out of her crib now. This past week has been a struggle at nap and bedtime. So tonight we went through the regular routine of putting her in her crib, closing the gate at the top of the stairs and retreating to the living room for some quality adult time. We went upstairs several times to catch her running around the room squealing, or to comfort her crying and re-tuck her back into bed. We decided to let her cry it out a bit before going back up. Robert then went up to get her because her crying had escalated. As he was going up the stairs I heard him ask, "What is that smell?" I was using a natural cleaning product downstairs on a few toys. It did have a nice fragrance. But he didn't say anything about it when he was in the same room with me just seconds ago. Then I heard:

"What is that? It is really strong up here - OH MY GOD!"
"Oh no! What is that? Oh no! What is that? OH NO!!!"

I raced upstairs asking, "What is it? What's wrong?" And as soon as I hit the first step I too smelled a very strong chemical odor. The smell thickened as I reached the top of the stairs, fearing the worse.

Robert had her in his arms and had the box of baby wipes in his grasp. He then began wiping her face and hands as he explained that she got a hold of something in the bathroom. In the toilet.

I looked in the bathroom to see the toilet open and thankfully, empty. But there on the side of the bowl was a blue gel that had little finger marks dug into it. "Toilet Diamonds" as Ryan calls them, are Scrubbing Bubbles Cleaning Gel that is applied under the rim with an applicator and I suppose look rather tasty to an almost two year old.

She had gel on her hands, in her hair, on her face, and yes, we believe she ate some too.

So as it turns out, I just got off the phone with Poison Control. She's going to be okay. There's a possibility of some mild irritation to her intestines, perhaps vomiting and diarrhea. But she is alright. Thank the heavens!
But Geez! That is Super Gross!  I feel sick to my stomach just writing about it!

Now before any of you go out of your way to scold me on the safety measures I should have in my home, I just want to assure you that we have child safety locks on the cabinets where the chemicals & cleaning products are kept. And actually a majority of the products are natural and safe. But we never in a million years dreamed she would eat anything out of the toilet! (Eww! - full body shiver!) And no, we are not going to invest in a toilet seat lock. I think she's learned her lesson.

And to my friend who said our family has so many sitcom worthy ordeals - this one's for you!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Truly Super Duper


This past weekend we all went on a shopping trip to a store.
An ordinary task for most people.
But for us, it is an unusual venture. Ever since Ryan's diagnosis we have kept him pretty sheltered. We do not take him to the stores with us very often. We took him out to a store probably less than half a dozen times last year. Shopping carts have so many germs and shoppers can be quite disgusting sneezing all over my precious boy. Well, maybe not directly on him, but near enough that it invades his air space. Now that he is suffering an upper respiratory infection just days after swimming in the cesspool of consumerism and bad hygiene, confirming my fears, I believe we may never leave the house again.

So we took him to Target this past weekend. Something we probably should've done before Christmas if we wanted to spare ourselves the embarrassment of failing the most important parental seasonal duty. <<see Santa Fail for details>>

We had a bunch of stuff to return (duplicates of gifts) so we were pretty excited about having a gift card to spend! We walked to the back of the store towards the toy section. To be honest, we had our doubts that we would find anything to fit the bill.

"Okay buddy here we are! Now we are going to look at some toys and we need you to tell us if you see the Super Duper Lightning McQueen Thingy." I explained.

"What does it look like again?" Robert tried to get him to divulge more info.

"It's super duper and has strings on it." He had just mentioned this small detail to me last week when I prodded him once again for info. I dismissed it at first but now I am not so sure. Now I am even more confused.

Great. Strings on a toy car? A car puppet? Doesn't make sense.

We slowly proceeded down each aisle and pointed out each Cars toy we thought might be the elusive prize. He dismissed them all. We even tried to play up the coolness of some of them, desperate to fill the void of his crushed Christmas dream, hoping he would be somehow convinced that this particular toy within our budget was super duper. But alas, he was not easily impressed.

We were coming to the end of the toy section. The aisles were now filled with clearance merchandise of rejected overstocked misfit toys. Our hopes were dim but we trudged forth.

Then we spied an entire shelf of large boxes with the Cars 2 logo. We studied the box and discovered it was a slot car race track, much like the ones we remembered having as kids. We reminisced for a moment then focused on our task.

This was not cool enough to be it. Could it be?

Then we saw it. There in the picture on the box, a child holding a remote that had a wire leading back to the box attached to the race track. As if it both occurred to us at the same time, Robert and I said "Strings!"

"Is this the super duper thingy?" I cautiously asked.

"He looked up from his giant Icee cup which was now half gone and nonchalantly said, "Yep, that's it." No thrill, no excitement, no jumping gleefully, no hugging and kissing everyone as he ran through the aisles crying with joy. Nope, nothing. Not the reaction we were expecting.

"Are you sure this is it?" Robert prodded.

"Yep, that's the one. The one with strings." Again, clinical, dry. As if we should've known this from the start. But this time he perked up slightly as he reached for the box to get a better look.

I could see a glimmer in his eyes. The look on his face - truly super duper! This was it! We had finally found it! The holy grail of Lightning McQueen toys - and at an incredibly discounted price! Who knew it would be a slot car track!

I must've been displaying that concerned look on my face that revealed my doubts of it's value as a toy worthy of our household. Robert looked at me then searched the box for battery information.

You see I have an unwritten checklist of toy ownership feasibility. He knew what I was thinking. This toy failed miserably. Being a Libra I like to weigh the pros and cons of EVERYTHING. I am quite proud of the skills I have to make decisions, the only problem is it sometimes takes forever to reach that decision. This one did not take long. My thought process went something like this: (and yes, there are 3 colorful voices in my head arguing at all times, a la 3 Stooges - the classic one, not the one with that modern day reality TV stooge - I can't even bring myself to post a link)

Does it require batteries? YES
Does it look like something we will have to change the batteries on often? of course 
Ugh! Let me guess, probably a size we do not have.
What size? D's
As I guessed, we do not have any - in fact we just gave some away for Christmas

Does it make noise? Yes.
Typical, though not a deal breaker

Does it have parts small enough for Rowan to eat? Yes.  
Uh, she'll try to eat anything
Does it look like they can get hurt playing with it? Huh! 
I can almost envision the blood.

Could they use the parts as weapons? Yep 
more blood. not looking good.
Are there many pieces? Yes  
about a zillion
Does it look like it's going to break? Uh,  
Do you have to put it together? ...
Once together does it stay that way? :(
Warning! Warning!
Is this the toy he wanted? Yes! Will he love it? Yes!! Will it relieve my guilt if I buy it? YES!!!

This year I'll be stocking up on batteries and taking him to the store in November, in a bubble, with plenty of Purell and antibiotics on hand. In the meantime, I need to brush up on my kid-speak deciphering skills.  As Lightning McQueen says, "Wish me luck!"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Baked Potato and Leek Soup

Baked Potato and Leek Soup
Creamy, cheesy, hearty, veggie packed, restaurant worthy meal in a bowl. But sooooo NOT figure friendly. I'm sure you could make slimmer variations with skim milk and fat-free stuff, but it probably won't taste as good as this one! Potato soup is my all-time favorite and this recipe is the best one I've made. It is super easy and perfect for cold snowy days.

10 medium Potatoes (baked for 1 hr. at 350* and then rough chopped with skins on - do this first and bake while prepping all the other veggies and start to cook the soup)

1 large Carrot, peeled and shredded
1 stalk of Celery, diced
1/2 large Mayan/Sweet Onion, diced
2 Scallions, diced (Reserve a small amount for topping)

2 cloves of Garlic, minced
3 large Leeks, sliced (slice first then rinse in a bowl to wash away the sand, leeks float and sand sinks, drain/dry on paper towels)
Salt & Pepper 
A tablespoon of dried crushed Thyme (I eyeball this by pouring some in my palm and crushing it)
1 lb of Bacon (Reserve a small amount for topping)

4 tbsp of Butter
1/4 cup Flour
4 cups Milk
1 container Sour Cream
1 bag of shredded Cheese (I used Sargento's Double Cheddar) (Reserve a small amount for topping)
1 Box of Chicken Stock or Broth

Heat oven to 350* and bake the potatoes for 1 hr
While the potatoes bake, prep all veggies and other ingredients
When the potatoes are done, rough chop leaving their skins on and set aside.
Coat the bottom of a large stockpot or Dutch oven with a little vegetable oil.
Turn heat to medium high
Add all diced veggies (except potatoes) and Salt & Pepper & the Thyme, and stir occasionally until just softened
Remove veggies from pot and set aside.
Cook the bacon in the pot

Drain on paper towels and crumble and set aside.
Drain most of the grease but leave the browned bits
Add butter and melt, scrapping up the bits from the bottom of the pan

Add flour and make a roue
Whisk in milk slowly until all flour is dissolved and the liquid is thick
Season with Salt and Pepper

Add shredded cheese and stir until melted
Add sour cream and chicken stock and mix well
Return veggies to the pot along with the rough chopped baked potatoes and the crumbled bacon
and stir.

Let simmer on low until ready to serve.
Top with reserved scallions, bacon, and shredded cheese (optional)

Serve with crusty bread or a multi-grain flatbread like in my picture.

Rowan LOVES her soup!

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The thin line between providing our children happiness and spoiling them rotten is a tightrope that I think all parents stumble across. For me, this has become a difficult task when I am consumed with overwhelming desire to never have Ryan face anything remotely disappointing ever again, after all that he has been through. But it seems I should give him more credit. Just the other day he proved to be amazingly hopeful in the face of disappointment.

We were in the car headed to my sister's house for my niece's 3rd birthday just this past Friday.  Rowan was asleep within minutes as the hypnotic engine played her favorite lullaby. Ryan played with a toy and hummed happily. I was fighting off a headache (the start of my current cold as it turns out), trying to concentrate on the road as the commercial noise on the radio softly buzzed in the background. Then from the back seat I heard a sweet little voice.

"I had so much fun the other day opening presents!" he chimed so cheerily, kicking his feet rhythmically against the back of the front seat.

"Oh, you mean on Christmas?" I clarified more than asked.

"Oh yeah, yeah, yeah... on Christmas, " he corrected. "That was so much fun!"

"Yes, it was a very special day and Santa was so very nice to bring us so many wonderful gifts." I tried to continue on, mentioning something about how just being together was gift enough but I was abruptly interrupted by the saddest sound ever.

"Yeah, it was so nice, even if Santa did forget to bring me the super duper Lightning McQueen race car thingy that I really, really wanted."

My heart sank. I had dreaded this moment but I thought it was going to happen on Christmas day, not nearly a week later. You see, for the past month we ran into Santa several times at a variety of venues. And each and every time when Santa asked what he wanted, he would instantly reply with the same exact answer: A Super Duper Lightning McQueen Race Car Thingy. He sounded so much like the kid in A Christmas Story, the same enthusiasm and quick tongued matter-of-fact manner that it made me giggle every time.

Believe me, I tried to figure out what in the world that was. I asked other moms and relatives if they could decipher the foreign language of my child. I only got the same deer-in-headlights look I'm sure I displayed the first time I heard him say it, followed by looks of pity and the unhelpful tidbits of "Well, you'd better figure it out soon." I looked through sale ads asking him to point it out to me. That proved to be too overwhelming for him because he ended up pointing to each and every awesome toy in the ad that he wanted Santa to bring for him. But none were the Super Duper gift he so coveted. I asked him to describe it for me to which he responded with a "You know mom, the super duper one." Riiiiight. How silly of me. I scavenged the aisles of several stores, even daring to ask a pimply seasonal worker if he knew what it was to which I got a blank stare which turned into a suspicious look as if I were playing some kind of a hidden camera joke on him. I even typed it into Google hoping maybe it would miraculously show me the item I sought instead of the 1,240,000 useless results. I was even desperate enough to ask my cryptic four year old to draw me a picture of it. "Mom. You know." was all I got. Apparently I have impressed my children so much with my incredible mind reading skills that they automatically assume my powers transcend the Santa-Parent barrier.

I ended up buying a few items that I thought perhaps were cool enough to qualify as super duper though in my heart I feared the worst. I even held out hope that our foundation Santas had hidden the prize amongst the generous piles of wrapped gifts. (The presents were ALL so very wonderful, by the way! Thank you Secret Santas!)

"Wha?" I stammered reaching for the radio knob to shut off the noise. "You didn't... Santa didn't..." I was so glad he could not see my horrified face.

"Santa must've forgot to bring the super duper Lightning McQueen race car thingy I asked for." He then let out a huge sigh of disappointment and my heart broke. "That's okay. I guess the elves just didn't know how to make it." he concluded. I imagine he was shaking his hanging head.

"Ohhhh. Can you tell me about it please? What does it look like? I'm just so sad about this." I pried for more info.

"Oh no Mom," he reassured, "Don't feel sad about it. It's not your fault."

I couldn't even breathe let alone speak as I tried to stifle laughter and tears.

"It's okay, mom. Maybe Santa will remember to bring it next year."

So although Santa obviously failed, Ryan's positive outlook persevered and that is a win in my book.

Speaking of Santa fail... This morning Daddy came downstairs with a box he found in our bedroom. Inside were a few small gifts that Santa had forgotten to put under the tree. D'oh! Hopefully Santa will have his act together next year!

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday and here's to a prosperous New Year!