Sunday, February 28, 2010

Our 4-day week switch...

My maternity leave ended 3 weeks ago. I was sad to leave my children - and cried over leaving my little man, but my co-workers and boss received me with open arms and told me how much I had been missed. The kids have a new nanny and they absolutely adore her! However, the nanny's other part-time job and my part-time job schedules didn't mesh perfectly, so we were able to make some changes. So, beginning tomorrow, the homeschooling schedule will be Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I'll go to the office Monday through Wednesday. I'm so happy the nanny and I were able to work out a schedule and I can keep my four-day weekends!

During my maternity leave, I took Will and Tricky out of their preschool/daycare, knowing that once the baby was born, all of the children would be cared for by one person on my work days. I had to purchase some books for Tricky and some additional materials for Will. [By the way, did you know Rainbow Resource has bargain books now?!]

I've started an Art History study with the kids. So far we've learned about Botticelli and Leonardo DaVinci. (Unfortunately, we missed the DaVinci exhibit at the museum.) I think I'm learning as much as the children. For example, I knew DaVinci was an amazing artist and inventor, too. He was also a scientist, botanist, anatomist, musician, mathematician, and from what I've read, handsome, too. A Renaissance man in the Renaissance - they don't make 'em like that anymore!

I've started will on Explode the Code 1. He actually enjoys the worksheets immensely! (His big sister HATED Explode the Code!) Hopefully, he'll continue to enjoy it... hey! I can dream, can't I?

Tricky is hard at work learning to spell her name, singing our Address song (a tune I made up so that the kids can learn our address and phone number... I made it up when Casey was 2), learning the letters and sounds, and (as she likes to say) tracing the lines. The Rod & Staff books I bought are wonderful - and Tricky loves doing work with her big sister and brother!

Casey and Will are also progressing nicely with their piano and voice lessons. Recently, they participated in the National Federation of Music Clubs festival. Casey sang The Lord is Good to Me and Sing, and played two pieces on the piano; while Will sang Mickey Mouse March and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Both received Superior ratings for their performances!

As for Chaucer... he's smiling and cooing (or saying "good" if you ask Richard). He also discovered his hands a few days ago! I'm sure finding his hands is "good" if you ask him!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Milk Alternatives

I have discovered, during the course of breastfeeding my babies, that they don't appreciate my love of cow's milk. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE milk - the thick, creamy, 4% milk fat (i.e., whole) milk. I love it in my cereal, I love it with meals, I love it with cookies. I love it in a 12 ounce glass, 34 degrees Fahrenheit, on a hot day or a freezing day. I love the stuff - you get my point!

I usually notice by my baby's second week of life that dairy is going to be an issue for a while. The baby starts passing a lot of gas, then starts crying, screaming, straining while passing that gas. Some people would call it colic. I recognize it as a milk intolerance - from what I understand, a baby's intestines aren't mature enough to process certain proteins found in dairy products until the baby is about 4 months old.

With my oldest child, I gave up milk for 4 months. I tried lactose-free milk (not realizing at the time that this intolerance had nothing to do with lactose). Lactose-free milk was a horrible substitute - not only did it not solve the problem, but milk with the milk sugars removed and other sugars added is not tasty to a whole-milk addict such as myself.

With my oldest son, I had to give up milk again. Again, for 4 months. I tried goat's milk. I kept having visions of that scene in "Monsters, Inc." where the Abominable Snowman tells Sully and Mike that he has fresh yak's milk - and it's not too bad after you pick the hairs out. Needless to say, I couldn't drink the stuff.

When Tricky was breastfeeding, I didn't try any substitutes. I gave up milk for 3 1/2 months and slowly reintroduced it into my diet.

I've again given up milk for Chaucer. However, I had to find a substitute. I tried soy milk, but his fitful gassiness didn't disappear. [I read that, while some mothers can substitute soy, there are babies with an intolerance to the soy proteins.] A friend suggested I try almond milk.

THAT'S IT!!! The original is fabulous! A slight almond taste (very slight), no aftertaste, thick (albeit, not quite as thick as whole milk), fewer calories, great in cereal or with a meal. The vanilla flavor is tasty, too, but only with certain things... I drink it with cookies or put it in my oatmeal.

Yes, almond milk... a viable substitute for a milkaholic.

The only problem... Starbucks doesn't have it. I have discovered that a white chocolate mocha with soy isn't too bad!

EDITED TO ADD: Fortunately, none of my children have milk/dairy allergies. For my kids, this milk intolerance seems to last only for the first 3-4 months of life, just long enough for their intestines to mature enough to properly digest the milk enzymes.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Day Inside

After hearing my children argue, fuss, whine, and fight over practically everything, I decided to make some fun for them.

S'mores in a Bag: A Failure
The first thing we tried was S'mores in a bag. A recipe I found in a magazine received in the mail a couple of days ago, it offered a substitute for that favorite campfire treat. In short, you put some graham cracker crumbs, marshmallow creme, and chocolate chips in a resealable sandwich bag; knead to mix; and eat. But that isn't exactly what happened. The marshmallow creme stuck to the inside of the bag while most of the crumbs and chocolate chips went to the bottom. Lesson learned? S'mores in a bag = mess.

Inside S'mores: A Success Story
So, after discovering the folly of that particular recipe, I decided to try my own concoction. Take half of a graham cracker, spread on a tablespoon-size dollop of marshmallow creme, and top with a generous sprinkling of chocolate chips.

Living Room Obstacle Course: Friendly Competition
Once the kids were hyped up on sugar, I thought they needed some way to burn off that new-found energy, but it was sleeting and raining outside. What to do? An obstacle course! One-at-a-time, the children had to don a pair of my shoes, pick up a small ball, crawl over a chair (while wearing the shoes and carrying the ball - wearing the shoes while climbing the chair proved to be quite a challenge for them),

move beads from one side of a toy to the other, jump in a hula hoop, crawl under the coffee table,

jump in another hula hoop, put a blanket on their head, and throw the ball in a potty chair (it has never been used, by the way).

I timed them, then they tried to beat each others' times and better their own time. It was quite fun for them.
Casey: 58 seconds, her best time
Will: 1 min. 8 sec., his best time
Tricky: 2 min. 5 sec., her best time

Obstacle Course for Me: More Difficult than Expected
So... I tried it! It went pretty well at first - I mean, the shoes were mine, so that wasn't a problem. No, the problem was the coffee table. I had to crawl commando-style and I thought my hips were going to get stuck and my husband would come home to find me trapped under the coffee table. I managed to shimmy out only to miss the potty 5 times before the ball finally went in (Tricky got it in on her first try).
Me: 1 min. 10 sec, not bad

[No pictures of my foray into the obstacle course, thank goodness!]