Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Heart Attack Moment

This little girl nearly gave me a heart attack a few moments ago.

Cautious is not really a word that I would use to describe Rachel.  The likes to keep up with her older siblings, doesn't mind falling flat on her face, and when she does she gets back up and keeps on trucking.

She has been trying to access the stairs for quite some time.  We usually have a safety gate at the top and the bottom of the staircase.  Both are meant to be locked whenever Rachel is awake.  When relying mostly on a 4-year-old, a 6-year-old, and a 7-year-old to close the gates it goes without saying that they are not always locked.

Anyhoo...I saw Rachel climb about five steps last month.  Then, in a horrifying split-second, I watched as she fell down the same steps.  I was too far away to catch her.  Scary.

This afternoon, while the older kids were playing outside, I was enjoying some toddler time.  Then I noticed Rachel was no longer in the living room.  Not hearing her in the dining room or kitchen, I headed to the stairway.

The gate was open.

And there she was.  Standing at the top of the stairs.

My heart nearly stopped.

Rachel, on the other hand, was as cool as a cucumber.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lessons in the Kitchen

The kids cooked dinner last night.  Mostly.

I asked Joshua to head up a team to make waffle batter.  He is well prepared for such a task, having been a kitchen helper since he could stand on a chair.  He has about one year of experience making things on his own.  He can make pizza dough, bread dough (because it's really the same as pizza dough), cook bacon and pancakes on the griddle, and fry eggs.

The batter making process went smoothly and the kids even cleaned up after themselves as an added bonus.  I, however, was out of the kitchen so I didn't know all that actually went into the batter.  Neither did I know how much of everything went into the batter.

Come time to cook the waffles I noticed that the batter was a little too yellow, a little too thick, and a little scant.  I assumed that I had just forgotten how this particular recipe turns out.

The waffles cooked quickly and were a wonderfully crips golden brown.  They didn't seem to hold together like usual, but they looked great.

Then I tasted one.  It was rather salty.  In fact, it was salty enough and not quite as waffle-y as I expected from a tried and true recipe, that I began asking questions.

"How much flour did you put in?"

"Four cups."

"Okay, how much oil did you put in?"

"One cup."  (No one said waffles were healthy!)

"Okay, how much milk did you put in?"

"One cup."

"I think the recipe said 3 1/2 cups."

"No, it said three to one or two.  So we put in one."

"Okay...well, how much salt did you put in?"

"One and half teaspoons."

"Didn't the recipe say half of a teaspoon."



One third of the flour and three times the salt.  That's just how we roll sometimes.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Matching Games and Visual Learners

With everyone being sick on and off, the kids and I have been very much out of routine.  Sure, we have our meals at fairly regular times and bed time is generally on schedule.   But school...wait a minute.  What is school?  I think I have forgotten.

We have also had some major fallout in the attitude department.  I don't think the kids know how to talk nicely to one another.  When they try it sounds just as rude and mean as whatever tone of voice I tried to correct.  Somehow they will get there...hopefully.  The process, however, is painful and slow.

In an attempt to keep everyone on the same page and tackle the attitudes, I instituted a game day early in the week.  We built puzzles and played games all day long.  We practiced rejoicing with those who rejoice (instead of throwing a fit that your sister got ahead of you in the Ladybug Game).  And I corrected and corrected and corrected.

By Tuesday the kids had picked up on the game thing and were playing by themselves.  Now that the week is over I think we have built the same three puzzles about 5 times each, played the Ladybug game several times, learned Uno and played it a few times, and we have probably played a dozen or more games of Memory.

Well, it's what I knew as Memory growing up.  Now it is called Matching.  Apparently we don't want children to feel bad about their memories, so we put the responsibility on the tiles.   It's not that I didn't remember where the second tile was, it's that the tiles were not matching.

Anyway...back to the point.  If there ever was one, that is.

Hannah started out as the most enthusiastic Memory/Matching player.  She and I played several times while in Montana over the holidays.  Her excitement waned just a tad with each game because I would win.  Like, really win.  As in I would take the last 10-12 matches in one sweep.  Maybe I should have cheated and played dumb.

While she still wants to play most of the time, Abby has taken Hannah's place as the most zealous Memory/Matching player.  At least once a day she traipses downstairs announcing to her siblings, "I'm going to play a game with Mommy!"  Out comes the box, along comes the very long process of maticulously setting out each tile, and then we play.

And I win.  Every time.  But only by a small margin most of the time.

She doesn't seem to mind.  Usually she just laughs the whole time and says funny things like, "Oh, bummah!"

During one of our games, Abby said to me, "My brain is very smart, Mommy.  My brain has eyes in it.  They can see things and remember what they look like even when my real eyes can't see it."

If ever there was a description of a visual learner, that would be it - eyes in the brain to see things even after the image is no longer visible to your real eyes.

This strength in visual learning is a big reason why Abby does very well at the Memory/Matching game.  Some of the kids will see a tile and excitedly shout out, "Oooh!  Oooh!  That one is somewhere [points to about half of the tiles] over there!"

When Abby sees a tile that has a match she knows of, she smiles and says, "I know!  I know!  The other one is right [points to one specific tile] there!"  And she is right about 99% of the time.

For the time being, I am the undefeated Memory/Matching champion.  I have, however, met my match.  Soon, with those eyes in her brain, Abby will be winning.

I'd better be willing to pass on the title.  It is, of course, a game for preschoolers.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Chew Crew Vs. The Stomach Flu

I know, I know.  It's not actually the flu and it isn't just in the stomach.  But for the sake of a catchy title, I'll be referring to the stomach virus as the flu.

And for the sake of any readers who are a bit sensitive, I will attempt to omit gory details and stick to generalizations.  Although, when you're talking about the stomach flu I doubt things can be too pleasant.

Nearly three weeks ago, we made a last minute trip to Montana for Christmas.  Our main goal was to be a support and hopefully an encouragement to my mom after my grandfather suddenly passed away.  I'm still not sure if we accomplished either goal because what we ended up bringing along with us was a lot of vomit.  Not exactly encouraging, you know?

Round One: A Decided Victory
Stomach Flu: 6
Chew Crew: 1

Claude came home from work on Friday evening feeling unwell.  He thought it was from some leftovers he brought along for lunch that day.  As it turned out, that was not the case.  He was sick for about four days.  Our first night of driving, about 30 minutes after everyone was asleep, Abby threw up.  We thought it was from being up late.

We arrived at my parents' house on Monday night.  After a very late bed time (something to the tune of 1:00am for the kids), Jeremiah threw up.  Again, we thought it was from being up late.

Then the next day...more vomit.

And then Christmas Eve was golden.  Except that the illness the little ones had the day before meant that we couldn't see family - a bit disappointing considering it's probably the only time we will all be in the same place again.  Sadness.

Christmas night, however, was a mess.  And I do mean that in every sense of the word.  Claude and my dad know the extent of that mess better than anyone else.  Joshua and Hannah were both down for the count.

Within a few days Rachel also had it. By this time we realized that the earlier patients did not eat bad food or get sick merely from staying up too late.  This was definitely a stomach bug and we were losing.  I was the last one standing, and that because of the prayers of some faithful friends.

After Rachel we thought that might be it.  We were ready to head home from Montana and we thought everyone was well.

Round Two: Down for the Count
Stomach Flu: 5
Chew Crew: 2 

Don't worry...I'll be more brief from here on out.

We were up very late packing that last night before heading home.  After just sitting down to chat with my very sleepy parents, we heard what we were dreading all week.  Joshua was sick...again.

The next day all three of our back row kids were sick - Hannah, Abby, and Jer.  And then Rachel decided to join in on the fun.

We stopped early that night, got a fairly expensive extended stay suite and did laundry until after midnight.

Round Three: The Victor's Strength Weakens
Stomach Flu:4
Chew Crew: 3

After a few more bouts of sickness on the drive home, we thought we were out of the woods.  Finally, we were in our own home, with a pile of laundry and a bunch of tired kids.  I can't remember if anyone got sick that first night, but it became clear very quickly that the stomach flu was not finished with us.

Abby, Jeremiah, Rachel, and Claude were the casualties this time around.  For the most part everyone was less sick than previously.

Round Four: The Underdog Takes the Lead
Still in Progress
Stomach Flu: 2
Chew Crew: 5 

We are hopeful that this will end.  Soon.

Abby and Joshua are the only two far.

Yesterday I went to war with the germs.  We have been disinfecting and cleaning and washing hands and all that jazz, but we needed to takes things to a new level.  Every hard surface that gets touched by little hands was bleached and/or Lysol-sprayed, scrubbed, and then disinfected for good measure.

I sterilized all of the water bottles, caps, lids, sippy cups, bottles, toothbrushes, and medicine cups I could get my hands on.  In case your were wondering, Nalgene bottles don't boil well...they shrink actually.  Oops. 

The sick kids have been confined to the master bedroom and bathroom and forbidden to touch anything other than their own cup and snack bowl. Since they both got sick again this morning, they are confined once more.  This time they are occupying the upstairs and the only healthy person allowed there is Mom.

Extreme?  Perhaps.  But there have only been 4 or 5 days in the last 21 where we have been vomit-free.  Now that is extreme.

Claude and I are exhausted.  The nights are long with many interruptions.  Every cough, hiccup, sneeze, or strange sound sends us aflight.  Who needs to be cleaned up now?  To say that we are done with this thing is the understatement of the year...make that both years (2014 and 2015).

Now consider the kids.  They are the ones actually being sick most of the time.  They are also ready to be done.

This war must end.  And the Chew Crew must come out the victors.