Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer Is a Comin'

It's finally here and we have embraced it.
It's our favorite and we have gone head over heels for all things summer.
Not much about this time of year we don't like.
Watermelon, corn on the cob, shish-ka-bobs, and berries.
Scraped knees, feet burning on the poolside concrete, and grass cuts...it's all good.
Even Harrison has noted the smell before a thunderstorm and watching for the nightly appearance of lightening bugs.
The 90 degree days, the line drying pool towels, and my sunscreen sweaty boys make everything about this 3 month period just about perfect.
Stay tuned because this summer looks to be full of road trips, milestones, memories, and firsts. For now, I'm off to play lifeguard to my two summer lovin' boys.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Out To Lunch

I can still remember the day we discovered life wasn't over just because we were parents. We had been trapped at home for weeks thinking we could never go out until our newborn was grown, talking, walking, and educated.
We had been sequestered with our unpredictable baby, nervous that should we attempt to re-enter civilization he would at any moment start screaming his head off and we would be thrown out for disturbing the peace.
But we proved to ourselves that fateful afternoon that we did indeed have what it takes to order a meal, eat, and interact in our new roles as parents. And we've been enjoying some meals out ever since.
Don't get me wrong, any parents knows there are a few restaurant appearances we wish could be stricken from the record. The ones with the spilled drinks, thrown bread sticks, the didn't-get-their-nap-in-the-church-nursery meltdowns.
But for the most part our little gentlemen do a pretty good job. It sure is nice to not have panic attacks over heading into a restaurant to eat. These guys do a great job minding manners and bottling up their energy...to be used at their later convenience.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Keepin' It Clean

One of the hardest things about our ditching the processed and refined was saying goodbye to instant oatmeal. Harrison could down a packet of strawberries and cream faster than I could make it.

So thanks to my sister's experimentation she created a clean version of the instant classic. Once we scarfed down our first batch we set out to experiment with other flavors to enjoy.

Our favorite these days is a tropical fruit mix. The boys can't get enough and to tell you the truth, neither can we! Knowing it's a healthy, wholesome breakfast, I'm more than happy to dish out seconds of this re-invented classic. 
Tropical Oatmeal

2 Cups fruit of choice...we use diced mangoes, pineapple, and bananas
1 1/2 Cups water
Bring to a low boil over Med/Hi heat
Add  1 1/2 Cups milk of choice...I use coconut
Puree mixture (I use our hand blender)
Bring back to soft boil over med/hi heat
Add 1 1/2 Cup Old fashioned or steel cut oats (not quick cooking)
Cook until oats soften, remove from heat to allow to thicken. 
Sweeten with agave or honey
Notes: Once I add the oats I use my hand blender to break them down in the fruit puree. This allows the oatmeal to cook faster and gives a consistency very close to instant oatmeal.
I also stir in plain Greek yogurt into our individual bowls to cool it down and give a nice protein kick and creamy consistency.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Growing Pains

Days have been a little long around here lately. Both Harrison and I are going through some growing pains as we figure out new bumps in the road of growing up. There have been some nights I collapse in bed and feel sad about the way they day went, the way it could have been, should have been instead. There are moments when I wonder if we'll figure out how to scale this wall together...without injuries.

But then I sneak back in my sleeping boys room and kiss his soft little forehead. I pray over him, I stroke his hair, and can't help but be breathless over the fact that God chose me for his mom. We are going to have plenty of off-moments and endless days, but the simple truth is, I'm glad he's the kid I get to have those off times with. Even in the growing pains he's an awesome little man and we'll grow together. So after a battle we regroup with cuddles and encouragement. We bandage the wounds and laugh. He gives me a hug and says he loves me and in that moment I see the man he's becoming. And that makes it all...worth it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

O's

I'll admit it, these little O's buy us time...walking around, shopping, talking, finishing a meal...time.
Kids have no idea they are bored, not moving, or contained while munching away on the virtually mess free favorites.
I unashamedly keep some with us at all times. This has kept waiting rooms from being demolished and nearby shoppers sane.
Now we just have to work on Jefferson's throwing arm since he has lately decided O's will help him practice for his future pitching career.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crazy Is The New Calm

So far I've learned boys don't care much for calm and still activities...at least my boys. 
 Story time, coloring, playing with blocks...ha! Story time becomes wrestle time, coloring becomes tearing paper into 1000 bits to pretend you blew it up, and blocks are turned into hand grenades.
But I'm not a very still person myself so maybe that's why the boys and I make it work pretty well.
We learn hands-on, hands-in, and hands covered in something muddy, sticky, or slimy.
I know I've got a lot to learn still about raising these men, but we are making some fun memories as we all grow together.
We get muddy from slipping on river banks, and get sore thumbs from practicing nail and hammer skills as we build memories and relationships.
And you know, in the midst of boys with capes tied around their necks and flipping each other head over heels in a wrestling match, I cherish every moment...every single hyper, never still, loud and crazy moment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fast Learner

Jeff's a fast learner. Not yet walking and he can unfold an entire load of laundry, empty kitchen cabinets, and go spelunking in the the toilet bowl.
He has learned which buttons to push to make Harrison howl in frustration and which buttons just break something.
He has learned that throwing fits, throwing food, and throwing caution to the wind makes for a grumpy momma, so this fast learner figured out a fix for that too.

Full of confidence, knowing his momma is wrapped, he beams a sly grin and blows me a kiss. Yeah, he's a pretty quick learner.
(Linking up to Show Off)

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Giving Gift

One of the, (389 million), disadvantages of not being near family is that Harrison has no idea how this present concept works.
See, when you miss out on Christmas, birthdays, milestones, and achievements with Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles, you have to make up for it...all at once.
 
So the precious few visits we get with family also have multiple presents occasions packed in. At this point Harrison has learned gifts and visits come hand in hand.
I have to admit that one of my favorite things as a parents is seeing my child's delight upon receiving a new toy, but one of my least favorite parts was watching a monster of greed start growing.
When Harrison's "gimmies" were getting out of control it was time for a reality check. First we established that we are blessed to bless again. We educated Harrison on the many children who don't receive new toys due to poverty, being orphaned, or neglect.
Afterwards our sweet little man spent some time getting all toys from every crevice of the house, the attic, the bathtub, under the bed, and outside. We lovingly went through each one and Harrison created his own "gifts" to give.
Our little man has a pile of toys to take to kids who "don't have new things to play wif and no presents eiver!" He made sure not to pick broken toys or ones with missing pieces since that would "make those kids sadder." We are very proud of this guy's growing heart as he learns the gift of blessing and giving.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Going Clean

As a family we have turned our backs on all processed, preserved, and pre-packaged foods. We are embracing foods in their simplest forms without adding to or taking away. We are going "clean". Clean eating basically means...if all ingredients aren't whole natural foods, it's not clean.
This has been a good transition as we feel healthier, have more energy, and honestly have smaller appetites as our bodies run more efficiently on the whole foods we were created to utilize as energy.We aren't going overboard with clean eating, but it is our first choice for the majority of our meals and snacks.
Though more time consuming as most clean eating foods need hands on prep and don't come in kid friendly little bags, we have had fun re-inventing our old mass produced favorites and becoming addicted to some new edible loves.
But as with most kids, how was I to get my boys to embrace a huge plate of raw spinach? I don't even like raw spinach, or a lot of raw veggies in fact...so we've found new ways to get our veggie quota while being kid (and adult) approved.
These smoothies are protein packed since we make ours with Greek yogurt. They rely on a good serving of antioxidant rich blueberries and iron heavy spinach. These frozen goodies are a nutrition punch and perfect for any time of day.
We make a huge batch and freeze the left-overs in popsicle molds for post-workout goodies and hot day treats. Harrison begs me to make these smoothies and has no problem sucking down the spinach...I honestly can't even tell it's in there.
This recipe is a "make it your way"...but this is the base we found and use most often. It's been fun to teach the boys about healthy fuel for our bodies as we mix and create new whole flavors together...especially if it involves frozen treats!

There are no exact measurements...just don't overfill your blender...not that we've done that or anything :)

Several handfuls of spinach
Coconut milk
Frozen peaches, frozen blueberries, and a frozen banana
Plain unsweetened Greek yogurt
Honey - enough to sweeten to your taste

Blend until smooth...enjoy! Freeze left-overs for amazing clean-eating popsicles.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Together

I wasn't so sure at first, in fact, I was pretty not sure. I just didn't see that these two boys would ever click. 
On one hand there was two and half year old Harrison who wanted me to leave Jefferson at the hospital and begged me to not hold "that baby."
And then there was Jefferson...a swaddled, fussing, non-sleeping, time consuming newborn. He kept me sleep deprived, worn out, and emotional.
But then time was on our side. Harrison realized Jefferson wasn't going anywhere. Jefferson grew bigger and realized Harrison was always around and something changed.
First it was small, just making each other smile by making noises. Then laughter followed, then occasional toy swapping, and now we have full on interaction and side by side play.
These two love to tackle each other, dig for buried treasure, and look at comic books. They join forces to make messes, create art masterpieces, and keep me on my toes. But they do it together, and that is awesome.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

What My Boys Are Made Of

As the days have gotten warmer and longer, our time spent outdoors has gotten longer too. It's while I'm watching my boys dig in the dirt, climb trees, chase beetles, and taste ants that I think about the poem "That's What Little Boys Are Made Of".
I couldn't agree more as I stare at the gray bath water ever night, and scrub sticky fingers in the sink before meals.Their infinity for all things slimy, dirty, wriggly, and muddy both amuses me and baffles me at the same time. I'm not anti-dirt, I just don't hold onto it as diehard as these..."Please don't make me wash it, leave it outside, my hands are clean enough," boys.
So on further review of that poem, I'll agree with the snakes and snails...but I would also add all the treasures found in cargo pockets at the end of the day, the "man scrapes" on knees and elbows, the jelly and magic markers mixture all between fingers, and the sweaty little heads falling against my shoulder for the few sweet moments they are still enough to hold close.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Penny Jar

Harrison has a jar of pennies, or coins, or gold doubloons, or whatever he feels like calling it that day.
His jar sits on the counter in the kitchen in plain sight, for better or for worse.
The only way that jar gets any new coins, treasure, gold, whoziwhatzits, is for Harrison to go above and beyond.
He has to think outside the box and from his heart. It has to be acts of service and behavior that had no parental prompting, but rather came on its own.
Matt and I are quick to hand out the coins for opening doors for ladies in public, sharing a favorite toy with Jefferson, or meeting a need without being asked.
This kid knows we are watching and my dishwasher has been emptied, Jefferson has been looked out for, and his closet has been straightened.
His jar is emptied and counted most nights. At first he asked for more coins and preformed only to receive them. But a funny thing is happening.
Suddenly our little man stopped asking and just starts looking for opportunities to help out and serve. Now it's something he does with pleasure, and something we get to reward with another shiny penny and plenty of hugs and pride in our growing boy.