If Evolution Really Worked I’d Have Way More Than Two Hands

Man, I thought I’d be able to keep this thing up at least twice a week but life has taken over. Today is the first time I get to sit at my computer to write anything since my last blog post!

Lots of things going on in the Panda cage right now: Mardi Gras is Tuesday, the kids haven’t been to any parades yet but my house looks like we’ve thrown a carnival. This past weekend I spent in revelry with adult friends because well, I earned it. How’s that saying go, “Working mother is a redundant phrase”? Yeah, that’s me. So I had a blast, made gumbo for an army of people and went to a parade where I had tons of fun catching beads and throws for my friend’s daughter, Cadence. The panda cubs were with a sitter for the weekend.

At Wal-Mart, shopping for last minute lawn chairs. Yes, I dress in theme for most holidays. Don't mind the smeared makeup, I fixed it shortly after the picture was taken!

For Valentine’s day Maverick and I had more cupcake adventures, which were awesome. We made “sweetheart cupcakes”. Basically, devil’s food and strawberry cake batter baked in cupcakes. Hollow out the middle, and fill with a blended mixture of cherry preserves, cream cheese, and powdered sugar. Make a ganache, dip the cupcakes in the ganache frosting, and then decorate. They were DELICIOUS. We brought some to my grandfather and other family members on Valentine’s day and then last night I delivered the leftovers to some friends of mine, to prevent me from eating all of them.

Sweetheart cupcakes!

With the hollowed out middles of the cupcakes (as you know I’m frugal and don’t like to waste ANYTHING) I blended more cream cheese and then dipped in melted semisweet chocolate. VOILA: Cake truffles!

Cake truffles with sugar crystals!

Also last week we turned my rock garden into a raised flower bed for annuals. We have had lots of rain and back and forth between cold and warm weather so I haven’t sowed any seeds yet, but mostly will be planting wildflowers there. Maverick and I can just throw the seeds and wait for the pretty to happen!

This will be full of colorful flowers by summer time

While digging out the earth for the raised flower bed, Maverick made some new friends. Insects. Worms. Earwigs. All sorts of gross things. It’s always amazing to me how little boys will touch, hold, play with DAMN NEAR ANYTHING and not be bothered by it. We now have a pot of soil and worms outside, and he checks their progress daily. By checking their progress, I mean he pulls them out of the soil and flips them around in his hand a bit then puts them back into the dirt. I’m getting the creeps just thinking about it.

The tiniest worm on earth. His name is "Sam"

On the gardening subject, all of the tomato plants have sprouted true leaves, so that meant last night I had to ELIMINATE THE WEAKER ONES (MWAHAHAHAHA) ok that’s enough of the mad scientist gardner. So now, we have 15 tomato plants in our coldframe.

Here they are! In all their glory. Ethan took out the markers so I have no idea which pods contain what varieties but hey, all tomatoes are delicious so I'll be happy if even ONE of these makes it to bearing fruit. The two pots on the sides are sunflowers, the one in front of the tomatoes is a cluster of basil seedlings that is struggling to survive, and the aluminum pot has some violas. I'm hoping to make a window box with those, it gets too hot here for them to survive the summer outdoors. They are only a couple weeks old at this point. Gardening takes SO MUCH patience.

My little artists decided to draw on the sofa today, and I read on google that HAND SANITIZER and PAPERTOWELS would remove ball point ink. And it worked! So for all you moms out there with kids that are as creative as mine, commit that tip to memory. The last time this happened I paid to have the sofa cleaned… this time I just used a lot of elbow grease and remedied the problem myself.

I also would like to mention here that I am participating in a fundraiser for the Autism Society of Acadiana… and if you read this blog I’d like you to share it on your blog, or maybe donate. I’m 100 dollars away from my goal. Please, follow this link and read the story associated. Help in any way that you can. Rock for Hope

I hope that everyone has a blessed week, and I promise that once Mardi Gras settles down I’ll be posting more, it’ll be my Lenten Devotion this year: BLOG MORE OFTEN!

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Iced Coffee, Dollar General Shopping, and Baby Bobos

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Kind of fuzzy but that really dark spot is where the flap of skin got liquid stitched.

Today and yesterday have been an incredible whirlwind of emotion for everyone in this house.

Yesterday, Ethan fell and got quite the knot on his head. No long term damage, but the resulting injury looked so bad that I brought him to the emergency room anyway. Luckily for Ethan, the bobo was on his forehead, which the ER physician told me was the toughest part of the skull. Also, apparently babies are engineered to handle falls from walking height. Thank God for intelligent design, amiright? A little liquid stitch on the broken skin and some prescription infant pain killer for the next couple of days to ease the headaches and WHAMMO, Ethan’s first concussion!

Today was also the first full-time school working hours paycheck we received of Michael’s, which was a whole other added stress. It’s the beginning of the month so of course rent is due, utility bills are due, we just paid car insurance at the end of January… needless to say, things are very tight right now. Michael has more of a problem with this than I do, because I know that as long as the roof over our head is paid for, and our electricity and water are working, and I have some food in the house, my family and I will be fine. I think he may be reconsidering our decision for me to stay home with the kids, but if they were still in daycare we’d be spending well over 300 a week in gas and daycare costs, which was only a couple hundred less than what I was making. Not to mention the gas for me to and from work, the cost of working in general, etc. I stick by our decision and know that the next few years of living in frugality will benefit us in the long run. Example: I used to spend 100 dollars at the grocery store, minimum, per week to feed a family of four ONE meal a day and three meals a day on the weekends. We never ate breakfast or lunch at home. NOW, I can spend 50 dollars a week at the grocery store and feed us ALL breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I’ve been couponing, shopping sales, buying reduced meat specials, and making really big, filling meals out of next to nothing. For instance, two nights ago I found two very large chicken breasts in my freezer. In the pantry I had about a half pound of spaghetti noodles, a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, and a jar of parmesan cheese. Always on hand I have flour, eggs, milk, vegetable oil. I made chicken parmesan and spaghetti for all four of us, double servings. I don’t have a cost calculator but I’d estimate about 1.50 per serving, honestly.

For Christmas a very dear friend of mine gave me a basket full of Community Coffee, another friend gave me a french press, and Michael trumped them all by giving me a keurig coffee maker. Keurig pods are EXPENSIVE, so while I use it for its convenience I’ve limited myself to one cup a day and have been cold brewing coffee for iced coffee using the french press and gifted coffee grinds. It’s very simple.

Instructions:

Place 1 cup of coffee grinds into french press.

Cover with water. Stir. Place press on top of pitcher. Let grinds sit overnight.

After about 12 hours slowly depress plunger and pour into a pitcher.

Pour desired amount over ice with splenda and splash of milk and you have iced coffee, for approximately 40 cents a glass! Beats commercial coffee chains ANY DAY.

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Iced coffee (I don't like a lot of ice in it)

“Bob Books”, Maverick’s “Lesson Tree”, and Ethan Scaring People

About three months ago I went through this phase of putting decals on my walls. You know what I’m talking about: stencil outlined dark black images, quotes, etc. My significant other was not a huge fan of the tree I put on our living room wall (this is an understatement) even though I thought it was elegant. I’ve converted this tree into Maverick’s “Lesson Tree”. Every time he masters something we put a symbol for it on the tree. Originally it was going to be a place to display his various worksheets and craft projects but that got out of hand entirely because I keep him so busy. Now, it’s a visual progress report that he can see and add to himself every week.

Today’s major accomplishment was recognizing all three sight words and reading most of a first grade level book on his own. This is the second book in the Bob Books series, and it took him about a week to master it. We actually had two big steps in one day, he’s able to recite “itsy bitsy spider” on his own now, without any help. He’s very proud of this and entertains his brother a lot with the rhyme. So, today, the sight words “he”, “ate”, and “little” got added to the tree along with an “itsy bitsy spider”. The worksheet for the spider also was a test of his skill with scissors, as he had to cut out the legs following a zig-zag line. He did great. Already on the tree we have the sight words “are”, “good”, and “now”, along with some plums, to celebrate his mastery of the first book in the series “Plums are Good”.

Maverick's Lesson Tree

Tomorrow we are starting on the third book in the sight words series, and this weeks letters and phonics are “H”, “short O”, and “S”. Concepts for this week are “rhyming” and “opposites”. Theme this week is “Mardi Gras”, I have two craft projects lined up. Tomorrow we will make a “Mardi Gras Float” using a shoe box, and Friday we will make a “Mardi Gras Mask”.

Ethan’s major accomplishments so far this week are way more walking going on in this house, and extreme levels of independence displayed. Poor kid has an ear infection and upper respiratory infection right now (because Louisiana’s climate is RIDICULOUS and the mold levels are EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH) but he is still ripping and roaring (quite literally). He has recently learned how to say “RAWWWWWWR” and uses it pretty frequently to “scare” people. He will launch at you with incredible strength for a fourteen month old and shriek “RAWR” then pretend to eat you. I’m pretty positive this is behavior learned from Maverick’s obsession with zombies, since I caught Maverick yesterday trying to make Ethan say “BRAAAAAAAAAINS”. Ethan also has developed a general disregard for all things potentially dangerous. Namely, the staircase. Sometime this weekend I am going to install a hardware mounted safety gate at the top and bottom of the stairs, because both he and Maverick know how to take down the tension mounted ones: just throw yourself at it. Lately my security for the stairs has been a giant recliner pressed up against the bottom so they cannot climb up unattended, and just keeping the door shut when I’m upstairs in their room with them. It works, but I’d like to have a gate installed. Ethan is also talking a lot more, and Maverick seems way better at understanding him than we are. He will say “Yes Ethan, that’s right!” when Ethan even sounds remotely like he’s pronouncing something correctly. All I can understand from Ethan is whenever he screams “DADA” which is synonymous with “mommy”, basically all adults are called “DADA”. He says “bubba” for Maverick, “bobba” for bottle or sippy cup, “eat” when he’s hungry, and “bye bye” pretty much any time you wave at him. He can say “dog” if we see one, “duck” if we see one, and “book” if we’re reading. Mostly it’s a lot of babbling, though. If I’m watching the news, Ethan will walk up to the television and yell vehemently at the “talking heads”. He even slaps his hands in defiance of them talking over him. He’s far more vocal than Maverick was at this age but way behind Maverick in physical development. He’s not behind according to his pediatrician, but Maverick was a mostly silent walking, climbing, crawling, running toddler.

 

It’s funny, last night I was talking to Michael about Maverick, thinking how incredible it was that at his third birthday we were begging Maverick to speak, and now we can’t get him to shut up and he’s saying words like “incredible” and “awesome”. He still gets subject-verb agreement messed up but pretty much anyone can understand him. His godmother says Maverick was just waiting until he was ready, and I can agree with that. The language explosion I’ve seen from him in the past two weeks is literally shocking. I’m not sure if it has much to do with being taught one-on-one now, or if he’s finally figured it out. Either way, he’s amazing.