if it’s free, it’s for me

So you know how we’re broke?  Well, we are doing our best to have fun with it and also be smart.  So today I started hawking stuff on craig’s list.  Anyone want a really cute table with drop leaf sides and 2 chairs?

And while on a walk this morning, I ran across a sock in the road that Caleb lost on Wednesday’s walk.  I picked it up and carried it home in order to wash it and put it back in his drawer so he can wear it again.

And we also planned not one, not two, but THREE trips to three different Chick-Fil-As for Cow Appreciation Day.  Breakfast was a hot date with just me and Russ.  We were the first “cows” of the day and the only ones the whole time we were there.  I looked around at the people paying for their food and thought “SUCKAS”….but then they were probably thinking the same thing about us.  For lunch, we met Grammy so she didn’t have to go by herself (Pops is NO fun).

Then for dinner, we dressed up the whole family.  Taylor was pretty excited.  And THE chick-fil-a cow was there.  Caleb wouldn’t stop pointing at him – he was mesmerized and even got to practice saying “cow” and mooing.  Taylor on the other hand was terrified.  Go figure.

I didn’t think it was possible, but I am Chick-Fil-Aed out…even with the different menu choices.  It’ll probably be a long while a few weeks  a week at least before we go back.

And I did save the spots and ears for next year.

Gratitude

While I certainly wouldn’t wish a giant cyst and it’s necessary surgical removal on anyone, I do wish everyone had the opportunity to experience the blessings that come from an event like this (or at least to intensely recognize the  blessings surrounding them everyday).  I am truly overcome with gratitude and humility.  I have the best support system ever.

My mom has been here since the night before my surgery (two weeks exactly now) taking care of me and the kids….feeding us, cleaning, doing load after load of laundry, playing with the kids, driving us around…basically loving us in every possible way.

I have not cooked in two weeks and yet have eaten heartily (I take that back – I have only eaten heartily for nine days – since I was in the hospital before that – no hearty eating there).  The amount of food in our house is incredible.  Russ is getting spoiled…poor guy won’t know what to do when the food runs out and it’s back to me to determine and prepare what we eat.  Taylor has also grown accustomed to her “church friends” coming bearing food.  The one night we did not have a new meal (we needed a break to take care of some leftovers), she asked “Which of my church friends is bringing dinner tonight?”  For all of us it’s a double treat because we get to see some of our favorite people AND get delicious dinners.

I love the note in a recent card from a loved one:  “So, I’m southern and feel the need to feed you because that’s what we do when someone we care about is hurting.”  That note included a gift card…we have received a few of those as well, so we can still eat when the meals run out.  INCREDIBLE.

I received lots of beautiful flowers (and a balloon).  It seemed like there was a steady stream of flower delivery people coming in.  Flowers from friends, family, church people, and even the MUSC Dean’s Office (!).  INCREDIBLE.  I used to wonder why people sent flowers for things (other than an occasional love bouquet from your spouse), because really what do you need all those flowers for?  But, man, did each arrangement bring a huge smile to my face!  In the sterile white hospital room, I was surrounded by beautiful color, reminded of love and awesome people.

There were more cards than I could have dreamed

on top of the electronic love through comments here on the blog, on facebook, txt, and e-mail.  I got a stack of magazines to keep my loopy brain entertained and some games to play with Taylor.  I had visitors who braved the downtown craziness.

I am truly humbled by it all.  It’s not that I ever doubted that I had great people in my life or that I was loved deeply by many, but I have just come to a new understanding and appreciation.  I will never be the same (or at least I hope I won’t).

I will begin writing thank you notes tonight, now that I’m feeling better and hopefully won’t fall asleep as soon as the kids are in bed.  I made a list of everything people had done before Sunday because Russ wanted to make sure he knew what to thank people for when he saw them on Sunday…but I added all the non-church people as well for my future note writing (since the drugs do crazy things to my memory).  When I handed Russ the list, he stood there for a second with his mouth wide open – in shock by all of the acts of service we have received.

Shock.  Awe.  Overwhelming Gratitude.

I am grateful for all of you – for your love and support and prayers.  I couldn’t have made it through without them.

Thank you.

bribes, threats, and deals

Having a two year-old is really challenging.  (Is that an understatement or what?!)  But on the plus side, Russ and I have become masters of trickeration to get the job done.  Disciplining is so hard, and just when we think we’ve figured it out, a new issue comes up and we have to put on our creative parenting thinking hats once more to come up with a solution.

THE OPTION

We learned early on the power of the option.  Instead of, “let’s get dressed”  or “let’s eat breakfast”  or the really wrong approach, “do you want to eat breakfast now?” – we say “would you like to wear your purple shirt or your pink shirt?”  or “do you want cereal or oatmeal for breakfast?”  It’s amazing how many tantrums and arguments we have avoided by giving Piglet a small amount of power and control over the situation.

THE THREAT

But there are times when the option does not apply, when a direct order is, well, in order.  This usually leads to all forms of heads exploding because Piglet loves to  not listen and do the exact opposite of whatever the order may be.  Repeating something 55 times with no result drives me completely batty.  So we then mastered the count to three approach.  A time out used to be on the other side of the “three”, but Piglet has learned to be completely apathetic to time out.   awesome.  So we started taking away toys.  The top shelf of our bookshelves are full of toys.  She gets them back when she has been a good helper or listener.  There are good days and bad.  But I find myself saying, “if you don’t do X, then you will lose a toy” way more often than I’d like.  I wish there was an easier way or a better way to discipline.  any ideas?

We are also struggling with bedtime.  Piglet is a master at THE STALL.  So we start threatening to take away books one by one until we don’t read any books before bed (which is really heartbreaking for me because I love reading books).   THEN we struggle with her actually staying in bed.  So we have to threaten to take away her stuffed animals one by one until she stays in bed.  But last night, I hit the ultimate threat.  I said, “if you want to watch any TV in the morning when you wake up, then you need to stay in bed.”  Girl did not move a muscle after that.

The same thing worked in the mornings when she kept getting up to early.  Now she stays in bed until 6:30 (when her good night light comes on) every morning (unless she has to poop, which is actually quite often).

THE BRIBE

AKA THE INCENTIVE or THE REWARD (if I want to make myself feel better about it ).  We have also been working on pooping in the potty for a while now.   Piglet is a pee champ, but she holds onto the poop like it’s her BFF.   We tried offering two m&ms, but that was not enough motivation.  So we finally made a sticker chart to hang in the bathroom.  Whenever she poops in the potty, she gets two m&ms AND a sticker.  And when she gets five stickers, she gets a reward.  It was a slow start (taking over 2 weeks to get five stickers), but now she is on a roll (five stickers in a week).  And she gets really excited about the sticker.  more so than the reward really.  Now it’s time to up the number of stickers required for a prize because with two stickers a day, it’s going to get pretty expensive to go to Old McDonald’s or get a new movie every five.

THE DEAL

The deal, a close cousin to the bride and the threat, also known as THE BARGAIN, is most utilized at meal time.  “You can have one more strawberry if you eat one more bite of chicken”  But it’s really fun when making bigger deal deals because we shake on it and she says, “deal”.  And she is really good at holding up her end of a deal, so I’m rather partial to the deal as opposed to the threat and bribe.  But WHATEVER GETS THE JOB DONE.

At the end of the day, my head hurts from all the deals, threats, bribes, and options, but at least my head is not exploding.  I just hope we’re not screwing Piglet up.

sweet tooth

They say that if you eat healthy food while you are pregnant, then your baby will be more likely to like fruits and veggies.  I guess if you eat Lucky Charms for breakfast everyday and have milkshakes once a week because that’s what you crave (and what your husband craves), you baby will be very likely to have a sweet tooth.

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I’d say that’s a pretty intense love of sweets.  Notice the use of a spoon and fork – she was double fisting the ice cream

Chicken Stew

It has been a long standing tradition to make a year’s worth of chicken stew on Labor Day with my dad’s family.   I don’t exactly know how long standing, but for as long as I can remember we have participated in this crazy ritual.   This year, some folks were busy on Labor Day, so we postponed it until today.   This actually worked out well because usually it is 100 degrees, and when you add the cooking flames, it is just hot.  But today was nice and cool and we could all stand around the pot to get warm.

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It probably looks odd to the neighbors (and now you).  At 8:00 am we begin gathering around a giant witch pot sized pot and dump in all of the ingredients.  It gets stirred with a giant oar.   It has to be stirred continuously, so my dad and his brothers take turns at the oar.

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MMMM

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This was Piglet’s first Chicken Stewing experience.   She had to be told 546 times that it was hot.  (as if the flames didn’t give that little fact away).   Here she is with my aunt – you can see her forming the word “HOT”.  But even with the multiple warnings and the visual giant flames, she kept running full speed at the giant pot.  I guess that’s why she and Curious George are kindred spirits.   It’s a miracle she escaped without any burns.  Good thing she was distracted by the mud and puddles and rocks.

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Once the stew is done stewing, we get to eat.   Our tradition is to enjoy the stew with several loaves of white bread (the good kind that has no nutritional value whatsoever), though there are some relatives by marriage who use saltines.   weirdos.  This year’s batch was especially yummy.  There are a lot of ingredient amounts that are guestimates (eh…a handful and a half of pepper looks right and if we run the hose for 10.5 seconds, that should be enough water…eh, looks about right), so every year it comes out a little different.

Once we’ve had our fill and the stew has had some time to cool, we ladle it out into many containers so we can enjoy the awesomeness anytime we want.  It’s really good in the winter when it’s been a long day and you just don’t feel like cooking.  One of those quality comfort foods.

Hooray for Chicken Stew Day.