Thursday, June 28, 2012

Drawing Maps

Can you guess what this drawing is?

It is a map of the world - can you see it now?  Cate drew this free hand by herself in the car - no picture of the globe in front of her.  I think its pretty darn good myself - maybe I'm biased.

Cate went to Vacation Bible School at our church for the first time this week.  The theme was "Up and Away" so they pretended to be "crews" on an airplane adventure.  It is an excellent situation for her, there are 6 kids in her group (including one of her kindergarten classmates) with a college age group leader and a teen age helper.  They move through 5 stations of activites, play games, sing songs, have snack and make friends.  We are not huge church goers, Cate's complete exposure has been a handful of Sunday School classes.  So I'm glad she is loving VBS and happy she is learning about the world.  The program is raising funds for mosquito nets for kids in Africa and they have been teaching the kids why.  Cate can tell you all about the problem now and was very excited to take her checks from mommy & grandma today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The girls make Lucy Friendly Banana Bread (Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Banana Bread)

Lucy LOVES bread.  She would eat only bread with ketchup for dinner if you let her most nights, but until recently she only wanted it if it was white.  Well my little girl is growing up and expanding her horizons now!  A few weeks ago I let her have a bite of a regular banana bread and she was hooked.  I couldn't let her have too much of that loaf since I'd used eggs to make it, so the next time I made one just for her and it turned out great.  She ate it all week and the day it ran out started asking for more.  Since my baby has to miss out on so much good stuff I can't resist her asking for a pretty healthy option that she loves.  Here is my recipe adapted the Family Favorites Made Lighter cookbook along appearances with my "helpers" - (fair warning I am not a good "food photographer", I am always inspired by friend Susan over at but I just can't seem make the food look at good as she does - although half of it is probably my cooking ability and the other half my photograher skills!)
Banana-Nut Bread
Nonstick Cooking Spray
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/8 t. salt
3T Ener G Egg Replacer mixed with 4 T warm water (or 2 beaten egg whites for "normal" people)
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 medium)
1/4 cup sugar
3 T. veg oil
1 t. grated lemon peel
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Spray a 8x4x2 loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.   In a medium mixing bowl stir together egg replacer, banana, sugar, oil and lemon peel.  Add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended then add nuts.  Pour into pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

This definitely a recipe that kids can help with easily.  I find the best way to manage that is to put each ingredient in small bowls, with the smaller measures of dry ingredients in a single bowl. 
Then I put the bananas in big chunks onto a large cutting board, hand the girls some big forks and let them at it!
While I read the recipe out-loud, I let each girl take a turn at dumping in the ingredients.  We even play a guessing game as to which bowl is which ingredient.

Then we take turns stirring - which is of course their favorite part!

no Cate you CANNOT put that spoon in your mouth!

one last joint stir after the nuts go in
A fun rainy day or 95 degree day project for everyone with an awesome tasting result!

Of course when it came time for clean up some how I was the only one left with this mess! But the smiles are worth it, especially when Lucy gets to have treat she actually wants!

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Cool Chick Cruisin

Cate had a first recently - she got to ride in my parents' 1965 Mustang Convertible with the top down.  My mom said she laughed the entire way to our house (all 8 miles) and waved to every person she saw and even some to the birds and trees! 

Cool Cate!

this is how you install a car seat in a car that originally didn't even have seat belts!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tumbling Blocks

People assume my life is crazy because I have a child with special needs.  I'll admit that once it was out of the ordinary but these days it is a normal multiple child life.  Until she was three, Cate saw 3 specialist (Heart, Lungs, Ears) and 4 therapists (most of which were done at school) in addition to the sick visits to the pediatrician which felt like they were all the time.  Through all of that I work full time and Cate attended daycare.  I was probably even more involved in her daycare because of those facts since I had to make a point to talk to her teacher to tell them about the latest doctor recommendation or this week's change to the therapy schedule.  It never felt crazy because to me it was just life - I don't know any different.  By the time Lucy was born, Cate's health was typical of any 3 year old in daycare - the specialist had done their job and gotten us "to baseline" so we saw two of them for maintenance and even the ENT was only quarterly.  When both kids were in the same daycare, I made the rounds every day and spoke with both of their teachers so I knew about every school event, every project, every friend.  Once Cate started pre-school things seems to get really crazy.  I was incredibly lucky that an acquaintance turned into a friend and my childcare source.  She keep Lucy everyday, and Cate during all school breaks and sick days.  This friend took Lucy to school (a 3 hour church nursery school/pre-K program) and picked her up every day for two years. 

She was the one who talked to the teachers everyday, the one they told the successes and failures too.  I heard everything second hand.  I know this was a survival tactic because of how much I needed to be involved in Cate's schooling.  I really don't believe I would have made it through the last two years sane without her.  Unknowingly I had let my life become a stack of blocks, each balancing on the other.  Things were working great, I had a semblance of control and only noticed Lucy getting the short end of my attention to her education in spurts.  My friend gave me freedom to run to the store alone, leave Lucy late to take Cate to therapy, live with only knowing the basics about what Lucy did all day long.  I would have gone crazy, not having info on Cate's day but with the second child and my need to maintain the balance I let it go with Lucy.  I classic second baby situation I know - a total stereotype.   I'm sure dealing with Cate's special needs has something to do with it as well - she seems to need me more because I had to be involved in each little milestone while Lucy learned pretty much everything on her own.  I let Lucy be independent because she seems so independent but the truth is she is only 3 even if she speaks like a 6 year old.  I should know she has a new best friend or that she got in trouble for throwing sand at a boy at school.  I know that I was doing what I needed to do to keep our lives in a comfortable place and Lucy has not suffered or been neglected at all.  I don't think she is going to be affected by this in the future, actually if anything she got way more attention at the babysitter's house and learned more about getting along with kids of different ages. 

Well last Friday one of my blocks slipped and things started to tilt.  In those hours I realized how much I had given over control of Lucy's life to another person.  A good person, a caring person but still not me.  The funny thing is that the teachers at Cate's school are always telling me what a great mom I am because I'm so involved.  Poor Lucy on the other hand, I've been to her school once all year, she has never even had a play date or been to a birthday party for one of her friends.   Since the moms don't know me they don't have a way to invite her I guess (its a no invites through school place)?  So I went ahead let the blocks all tumble and decided to rebuilding them in a new formation. 

I may wish this day had never happened when school starts in August and pick up times are less flexible.  I figure by then I'll consider myself lucky to make it to Target with one child much less by myself.   But hopefully I will have also increase my involvement with Lucy - the school will call me if she is sick, I'll know that they are having Dr. Seuss week at school or learning about the ocean, and the other parents will recognize me as her mom not mistake her for the babysitter's other child.  I guess it is true that change is necessary and this time I think it will be for best in the end.  I hope, as long as I stay sane that is and don't go running back to my cushy situation!

Please also use this as my excuse for less blog posts in the next week or two, while we are all getting used to our new responsibilities!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My favorite time of the year

Nope its not Christmas or Thanksgiving, although I love them too, they are too busy and rushed to be completely enjoyable.  Here is a hint:
cucumber/orange water is awesome!

That's right SUMMER!!!  Now I don't get off from work, we have no big vacation planned, and its actually more hectic for me when the girls are off the school schedule.  What I love is weekend days in the pool.  The first couple weekend of the summer are the best of the best - enjoying them knowing we have many more in store.  It is the one activity I can think of that involves almost no stress on my part.  I don't have to plan it or organize it or even drive to it since we have a pool in our backyard.  These days normally consist of jumping into swimsuits (we use the sunsuits for the girls and our pool is shady so we barely even do sunscreen), toting a bucket of towels down, and throwing together some drinks and snacks from whatever is in the fridge/pantry.  My parents frequently join us which even makes it more relaxing since it spreads out the number of "mommy" requests I get during the course of other activities.  Both of my girls can swim, Cate is totally independent as those of you who saw the swim meet video can attest.  Lucy has just learned enough to be dangerous, she has lost that little bit of fear she had last year but hasn't quite got the kick to back it up yet although I think she'll be there by the end of the summer.  Fortunately she actually likes wearing Cate's old swim float so we can put her in that and just watch her.  The girls love to play by themselves as well as with us.  They both love to jump off the diving board and Cate is very into going under to get things from the pool bottom.  One of our favorite games is called "you're not my baby" which started with me trying to get Cate to stop hanging on me a couple years ago.  It consists of me holding either child while rocking back and forth saying "my baby, my baby", then with a startled look holding them out and saying "wait you're not my baby you are a gorilla (or any other animal)" then throwing them into the water - far as possible for Cate, just a little ways for Lucy so far.  This game can go on until I can't think of any animals to name and I LOVE IT!  I love to get to roughhouse with them, not my normal form of play, and I love watching them smile and laugh.  It is just awesome.  You've heard this before on this blog but swimming is one of the things I thought I was giving up when we got Cate's diagnosis.  I wish I'd know then at 6 years old she would be an excellent swimmer who is as much a fish as I was growing up.  Then just to make pool days even more awesome, after we finally drag everyone out of the pool both girls are pretty cooperative taking a shower.  That means that we have relatively no bed time fight since on top of already being bathed they are exhausted by 8:00!

Here is too a lot of sunny Saturdays this summer!!!
lots of fruit is eaten by our pool!

grandma looking awesome as usual!

floats are blown up - summer is officially started!  thanks grandpa

"trying to relax here mom"

grandpa has the relaxing thing down!

princesses even invade the pool!

fun stuff!  although this float died this day after Lucy bit it!!!


post swimming - Lucy didn't even make it through the credits of the movie I put on!  Cate isn't crying, she spends so much time under water she often has puffy eyes.

Friday, June 8, 2012

the Beach!

We took a four day weekend at Tybee Beach last weekend for Ric's oldest brother Ron's wedding.  Ric's sister Debbie got a beautiful house just off the beach with plenty of room for all 17 of us.  My girls never wanted to leave.  They LOVED all the attention from their 7 cousins ranging in age from college freshman to 6 like Cate.  Ric said at one point he missed his girls because from the minute they got up to the time they dropped into bed exhausted they were asking "where is ..." but this time it wasn't mommy or daddy they were looking for it was a cousin.  Cate was a complete fish - she had to be physically pulled out of the ocean every day.  Debbie let her borrow a mask and for the next two hours she barely came up for breaths even though you couldn't see the sand on the bottom through the cloudy water.  I can't wait to get this girl where we can do some real snorkeling - maybe I've even found my future dive buddy.  Lucy wasn't so sure about the ocean.  She was OK if you got her past the wave breaks but she favored playing in the sand.
New sunglasses - very cool Lucy

Lucy off for more building supplies

Cate making "soup" for Daddy

Cate pretending to surf

Mommy I can hear the ocean in this shell

making a different kind of soup - don't know why this was a soup themed weekend

Logan & Colton were amused
The wedding was beautiful and the girls had so much fun dancing.  It was awesome to be with our family for this happy occasion.
Lucy was hiding because she was a bug magnet for some reason

Cate's cousins - Kim, Jenni, April > I felt like should pay them after all the time the entertained Cate!

Cate waiting for the bride & using her fan like a proper southern lady 

Laurie and Ron

Grandpa out on the dance floor with the girls - Cate was the first one out there when the music started

Our family!

Lucy getting her Daddy dance

Cate getting her Daddy dances