Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why I'm Dreading A Child's Party

Hello, all-Kerry here, back from a rather long and self-imposed hiatus.  Before I go into the meat of my post tonight, I think I should explain where we've been.  Towards the end of April, my health took a nosedive.  No energy, constant headaches, wanted to sleep all the time.  And my eyesight got...scary.  It was a bit blurry one day, and I chalked it up to sinus pressure.  It gradually got worse, and I finally made myself go to the doctor.  I was diagnosed with diabetes, and while it's a pain in the ass, it's something I can manage.  But it had to get worse before I could get better.  My vision got to the point that I couldn't read, or drive, or see faces clearly.  I had horrible reactions to my medication-nausea and vomiting (enough to make me wonder if I was pregnant!), severe reactions to eggs and dairy, and severe mood swings.  Through all this, I was trying to manage my diet, start a regular exercise routine, and watch 5 kids in addition to my own.  Long story short, I simply had to cut out any additional stresses or obligations, and one of those was the blog.  Besides, it took over a month before I could get to where I could even see to type out a post.  Bannon, whose life is in a perpetual state of chaos, and makes me look like a total amateur when it comes to managing kids/work/home, went along with me for the break.  But we are slowly working our way back!  If any of you are still hanging with us, we deeply appreciate it.

And now, the dreaded party.  My little dude was invited to a birthday party, taking place tomorrow afternoon at a local park.  All the kids in LD's preschool class were invited, and it sounds like a nice chance for Jeffrey to get to see some familiar faces.  There's going to be swings and slides, which are some of the dude's favorite things in the world.  And there's bound to be cake.  Who doesn't like cake?  I can't be BFFs with cake anymore, but I still have warm feelings for it.  All in all, what's not to love about this party?

It's a very selfish reason, but it's one that breaks my heart.  Gatherings like this are always a very sharp reminder that my son is different.  His voice is very rarely part of the chatter.  He simply stares silently at a child when asked if he wants to go play.  When he does try to join in the play, he can only do so much, because his language skills just aren't there to allow him to understand that the kids are running from imaginary dinosaurs, or playing cops and robbers, or whatever.  So he often ends up on his own, doing his thing, wanting Mom to come play because he knows Mom will understand what he wants or needs.

Those things hurt to see, but what really gets me is what I can't see.  What does he think when a child asks him to play?  Does he understand what they want?  Is he choosing to be alone?  Does he stay quiet because he knows he's not on their level?  Does it hurt his feelings when he's not part of the group?  While his communication skills are slowly but surely coming along, he's not at a point yet where he can tell his peers what he wants.  While I try to help him do it himself, sometimes I have to intervene and speak for him.  Unfortunately, mom involvement is the kiss of death on the playground, and kids usually steer clear when they realize a parent is watching.  It just makes me so sad.  Why did my little boy get dealt this hand?

I know I don't have much to complain about.  There are so many children out there in more difficult situations, and I always feel so petty when I try to verbalize things like this.  But I think every parent has the same wants for their children-they want their child to be healthy.  To be normal.  To belong.  And during the preschool years, it's so hard for kids to understand that not every child is like them.  My son doesn't look different, so why doesn't he talk to them?  Why doesn't he want to play with them?  It's difficult to explain why, but I try.  I tell them that it's taking him longer to learn to talk, and that it's okay.  That everyone learns things in their own time.  I explain that my little guy can't say it for himself yet, but that he likes it when kids try to play with him, or say hi to him.  I warn them that, if he gets mad or scared, he may scream, or maybe even hit, but that he's not doing it to be mean.  If the child in question hasn't already taken off, I'll suggest that maybe they can go on the slide together.

And I'll remind myself that, one day, my son will be able to suggest playing on the slide in his own words.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Week 14- Sandwiches

by Bannon

When I saw that the reddit challenge this week was sandwiches I smiled because sandwiches are something that I can most definitely handle.  I make them daily for the husband, myself and the kiddos.  The hardest part of this challenge would be coming up with a sandwich that isn't the run of the mill boring peanut butter & jelly that I serve daily for lunch.

For Easter today I had plenty of hard boiled eggs sitting around here and I remembered a recipe I had seen in the new Pioneer Woman cookbook made with english muffins, hard boiled eggs, cheese and bacon.  So I made it from memory and forgot to add the mayo and dijon mustard.  These were liked by everyone but I know they would have been loved if I hadn't forgotten those two ingredients.

From The Pioneer Woman

 

Make-Ahead Muffin Melts

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Ingredients

  • 12 whole Hard-boiled Eggs, Peeled And Chopped
  • 2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 cup (Real) Mayonnaise
  • 12 slices Bacon, Fried And Crumbled
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 3 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 6 whole English Muffins Split

Preparation Instructions

Combine eggs with all other ingredients. Fold together gently. Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
Spread on English muffin halves, then broil for 3 to 5 minutes or until hot and bubbly. (Don't set them too close to the heating element.)
Serve immediately!




Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week 13 - Russian food

This week our husbands went out of town together to Toronto on a guys trip to go see a soccer game.  They also got to eat poutine (yum!) and lots of other great foods, drink local Canadian beers that they can't get around here and enjoy a child free weekend.  While the boys were out having fun we ladies took the kids to the circus together and we found that Bannon's kids loved it and Kerry's son thought it was OK.

We also decided to work together to do our recipe for the reddit challenge this week.  The topic is Russian food, which neither of us have any knowledge of other than Russian dressing or vodka, so this was going to be a bit of an education for both of us.

After looking around on the internet a bit the recipe we finally settled on was this potato knedliky (or dumpling) recipe.  It was very simple to make and the kids enjoyed getting to help roll the dumplings.  Taste wise, bacon grease makes everything taste better of course!  I think they would be a bit bland without the bacon and onions.

Ingredients
  • 4-5 baker’s potatoes
  • 1-1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 pieces of bacon (or enough salo to render about 0.25 cups fat)
  • 1 large sweet onion (finely chopped)
  • Salt pepper to taste


Peel potatoes and then boil until soft. 

Drain the potatoes well and return to the pot. Mash them until uniform consistency. You may want to let the potatoes stand for a little while to cool down after this step if you plan on rolling the dumplings by hand. Otherwise, thoroughly mix in the 2 eggs, 1 cup of flour, salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Roll one dumpling for testing. Drop it into boiling water, it should drop to the bottom, and float to the top when it’s done. If it starts falling apart add another half cup of flour to the dough. Make the rest of the knedliky and drop them into the boiling water. Again, cook until they float to the top and remove using a strainer.

At this point, the knedliky are done and ready for serving whichever way you like. For the way my family served them. Fry some bacon in a skillet until crispy, let dry, and cut up into bacon bits. Drain and set aside some of the bacon fat.  Finely chop a sweet onion and fry in the bacon grease until caramelized, set aside.

Then using a spatula, fry the knedliky in the bacon grease (or butter  if you don’t want to use bacon) until lightly browned on all sides.

Serve with a side of the caramelized onions and the bacon bits.


Kerry and Bannon








Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Smarterer


by Bannon

So I am a part of a word of mouth marketing organization called BzzAgent (you can learn more about it here.)  They give out samples and coupons and then the person who got those samples tells their friends and family members about it and shares the coupons.  Most of the time BzzAgent works just like that.

This time BzzAgent hasn't given me anything physically to share with anyone.  This time it's something called Smarterer, which is a website that you go take tests about various topics to see what you know.  They have all sorts of tests about Facebook, Twitter, Google Search, PowerPoint and even lighter tests about 80's music, video games, etc.

I found it all to be just OK until I found the Costco test.  As some of you may know, I have a bit of a Costco addiction so it should be no surprise that my first really good score on the Smarterer website was for this test.  That helped sell me on the whole Smarterer concept.

Anyone can signup and use Smarterer and take the tests, just go right here.  You need a Facebook signon to login, but other than that it's very easy to get started with test taking.





52 Weeks - Cheese

by Bannon

This post is a few days late in coming and I'm sorry.  You know life goes sometimes.

Last week's food challenge was cheese and I made a simple yet very tasty recipe that the whole family loves.  I found it on Pinterest and it came from here.  I've altered it to my liking.

Ingredients:

4 potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400ยบF. Cut the potatoes into tiny pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the Parmesan and garlic and set aside. Next, toss the potatoes and oil together in a mixing bowl then add the bowl of cheese and seasonings and stir to coat.

Arrange them on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes then remove from oven and turn over all the potatoes. Bake for another few minutes until crispy and golden.

This is an excellent recipe that always has the kids begging for more.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

52 Weeks Challenge, Weeks 10 and 11 Combined!

Kerry here, cheating like a fiend and combining week 10 (breakfast) and week 11 (cheese) into one tasty meal.  It's ham, swiss, and spinach quiche, and it's gooooood.

But first, I have a few random thoughts.  I want to thank everyone for the response to my last post, "A Low Day".  I received support, and a wonderful lavender eye pillow to help me sleep, and it meant so much to me.  But I also heard from readers with similar situations, which made me feel less alone, and it gave me some much needed perspective and clarity.  So thank you, all of you.

Also, for my fellow Walking Dead fangirls, a couple of thoughts.  I'm just now getting to finish the season (I didn't fully think out my clever plan to save money by dropping cable), and how did I not notice that Shane has to ask/tell somebody "something" at least 5 times per episode?  Only he's all Southern, so it's "M'ASK YEW SUMPIN'".  If only he'd ask Lori and Rick why the hell they don't keep Carl on a leash.  Sigh.  Also, is it just me, or does Daryl get hotter the crazier he gets?  It's just me?  I was afraid of that.

Anyway, quiche.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  For your ingredients, you'll need:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used wheat flour on my first attempt, didn't turn out as nicely as I would have liked.  Still tasty, though.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half
3 eggs
2-4 slices swiss cheese (depending on how cheesy you want things.)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 cup roughly chopped or torn spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped ham
1/2 shredded cheddar cheese

Whisk together the flour, salt, half and half, and eggs in a bowl.  Press your pie crust into a pie dish, then lay the swiss cheese slices evenly over the bottom.  Then spread the spinach over the cheese.  Pour the flour and egg mixture into the crust, then evenly top with the ham and cheddar cheese.  Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.  Allow the quiche to rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Low Day

Kerry here.  I'm not sure why I'm posting this here, other than that I need an outlet.  So, if you don't want to hear a bunch of confused meebling, you might just want to wait for the post after this.  :-)

I've been struggling with the concept that our Little Dude is a "special needs" child.  I was very baffled, and honestly kind of shocked, when I was told this during the enrollment meeting for his current school.  I understand it, logically-he has a clear need for speech therapy, as well as some physical therapy.  We were warned waaaaay back when he was a baby and diagnosed with hydrocephaly that he would need therapy.  So it shouldn't have been a surprise.  But, when I think of "special needs", I tend to think of children who have more obvious needs.  I look at my son, and I feel like calling him a special needs child somehow takes away from other children who are considered to be the same.  I don't know why I feel this way, and I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest to find out that this offends other parents of special needs children.  So, if you're one of those parents, please accept my apologies.  I look at my child, who seems mainstream on the outside, and it just feels wrong to me.

But today, my niece looked at me and asked why LD isn't doing the same thing I just asked her to do.  I tried to explain that he doesn't always understand or follow instructions, and that we sometimes have to actually physically lead him.  And I realized it, then-he does have special needs.  If he were to run out into the street, and I were to yell at him to stop, I have no idea if he would actually do it.  He's in a near-constant state of frustration because of the disconnect in communication.  He won't go up or down stairs by himself.  While he seems to enjoy preschool, and gets his therapy there, there's no notable improvement yet in their opinion.  Getting the report this past week with nothing but "minimal improvement" was so disheartening for me, even though I know he has only been there a few weeks.

I know I shouldn't feel this way, and that I should give it more time.  But I can't help myself, so I worry.  And then I toss and turn at night, so I'm tired.  I struggle to keep up with 5 kids that aren't mine, as well as the one that is.  I try to do housework, laundry, cooking-all these things that other parents totally kick ass at doing, but feels like such a struggle to me lately.  I don't feel like this every day, but I do today.  I think I need a vacation, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

But I do have some bright things on the horizon.  It's the weekend!  The first Crew game is tomorrow-not sure if I'll be there, but I'm happy the season is starting.  I'll get some time with just the three of us, and next Thursday and Friday will be just me and my Little Dude.  If the weather holds, I'd like to take him to the zoo.  I'll tell him about the animals, and maybe he'll be able to tell me a little something about them, too.  And I'll slow down, and be patient, and remember that this will all take time.  And as a parent, that's the best thing I can give to my child.