Thursday, January 31, 2008

Life with my toddler

This picture is what it means to be the mother of a toddler. And this is what life is like every day with my toddler. There is at least one very dramatic, tearful burst of emotion each day. The expression can be brought on by a variety of factors...

This particular one began when I asked Noah to sit next to her brother so I could take her picture. We had just finished carving our pumpkin on a beautiful fall afternoon. Obviously, Noah didn't want to sit down. She's really not much for sitting, in general.

Other emotional moments come when we are negotiating her reward for going potty. I suggest a small treat, such as a a few M&M's or a mini Tootsie Roll. She wants an entire candy cane. I try to reach a compromise and give her half of a peppermint candy. She chucks it across the kitchen floor and a full blown fit unfolds.

There are the outbursts that follow being asked to pick up her toys. Again, she defiantly hurls a block or a counting bear across the living room, screams, "No!", kicks her baby doll and runs.

And there are the battles of staying in her car seat, getting off the kitchen table, opening the front door when it is snowing and blowing, and negotiating pink, green or purple socks. All of which result in something similar to the picture above.

Reasonable discussions with a toddler a fruitless. Yelling at her makes the bad moment worse. Time out can be effective, after the third try.

My mother, quite wisely, said, "Remember, Sarah, you are the parent."

Right. I forget that sometimes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I, like many Americans this evening, have been absorbed by the political happenings in the state of Florida. First, let me express my jealousy for the sweat pouring from the brows of the politicians and journalists. It was another blizzard like day in Kansas. The mere sight of citrus groves and ocean views makes me seethe with anger.

Tomorrow, my presidential hopeful, Rudy Guiliani, will give his endorsement of John McCain. While I will forego the commentary on issues, I would like to offer this passing thought.

In all the noise of this upcoming election, I think it would be quite American of each of us, to step back for a moment and see what's really happening. Republican or Democrat, there is a field of candidates out there right now vying to be our next president. There are debating to the left and to the right of every issue, and they all spend a whole lot of time wandering somewhere in the middle. But right or wrong, they each believe they have the answers to make this country better and stronger than it already is. Isn't there just a little part of you that is inspired by that?

Can you look beyond their red or blue flag and see a person who has committed themselves to serving their country? Are you not in the least inspired by the process? This purely American, purely democratic, "from the people" method of electing leadership for our country.

I know I certainly don't have what it takes to run a presidential campaign. But you can be certain I wouldn't miss my opportunity, my right, to vote.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

There was a break from the cold and snow this weekend. The temperatures rose into the 50's today, and the sunshine went straight to our head. We decided it was finally time to reorganize the garage.

The mess was overwhelming. It looked like a project that should have been on a TLC program. In order to get into my van, I had to step over piles of boxes from Christmas. My recycling items blocked the doorway to the basement. Various furniture items were being houses down there - after the bedroom switch-aroo in December. I started a garage sale pile six months ago that was now blocking the deep freeze. Two strollers, a wagon, a baby swing, a bouncy seat, three lawn chairs, four coolers, two sets of golf clubs, a foam deer for target practice, softball bats, tools, a gas grill, a tailgate gas grill, a dog house, and a partridge in a pear tree covered the rest of the floor. It's a two car garage that holds one mini-van and the aforementioned items.

We were in desperate need of a garage reorganize. My husband just happened to get a new electric drill for Christmas (thanks, Dad!), and he promised he could build a new shelving unit. He made only three trips to the lumber yard, one trip to the hardware store, and one trip to a friend's house to borrow another tool to get the job finished. Oh, and all the neighbors stopped by to watch. My husband doesn't exactly have a "handy-man" reputation. The older gentlemen in our neighborhood get a kick out of his "projects." (I'm secretly glad we live next to handy people so they can come to his rescue.)

With the shelving unit finished, it was time for us to sort through the mess. This is when things began to get ugly.

"Oh, and you're so organized!"

"I don't know why you think your tools belong on the floor."

"You can't just take paint cans to the dump, $#*&@$%!"

"That used to be my grandpa's. It is not trash."

"Oh look. Your father's day present. Buried in this @#$% mess."

I am really not exaggerating here. It was very ugly for about an hour this afternoon.

However, I am happy to report peace and organization triumphed on the home front. The shelving unit is spectacular. I can once again see the garage floor and get to my van without tripping over boxes. My husband and I exchanged apologies, and a few good laughs. After all, it is Sunday.

Friday, January 25, 2008

More deception

I'm back in business. My (used) new computer desk collapsed the other day. So we had to make some repairs. The desk came from my parents house; as did ninety percent of the furniture in my house. My dad informed me that "furniture comes as is; no warranty; no guarantee; and certainly no returns." After $2.19 spent at the hardware store on brackets and screws, I'm back in business.

I thought I would give an update on the "Deceptively Delicious" situation.

As you can see from the picture, I have quite a collection of purees in my freezer. Every few days, I steam or bake something new to add to the puree box. It's really fun to see all those colorful veggies in my freezer; and it's especially fun to know that the kids are eating those veggies.

Here are a few of the recipes that were a success:

* Grilled cheese (butternut squash)
* Chicken and brown rice soup (cauliflower and sweet potato)
* Hamburgers (broccoli and mushroom)
* Chocolate chip muffins (pumpkin and sweet potato)
* Chocolate chip cookies (chick peas)
* Peanut butter and banana muffins (sweet potato)
* Macaroni and cheese (butternut squash)
* Pizza (red peppers)
* Baked spaghetti (red peppers, green peppers, mushrooms, broccoli)
* Whole wheat pancakes (sweet potato)
* Sloppy joes (red pepper)
* Chicken nuggets (sweet potato and flax seed)
* Rice cereal treats (brown rice cereal and flax seed)

I think the kid's top picks would be the chocolate chip cookies and the chicken and rice soup. If you can believe it, the cookies had whole chick peas in them. There were not pureed - simply stirred into the batter and baked. The kids couldn't get enough of them. And I just had to let them have two for dessert.

Some of the recipes came from the cookbook. Some were my own recipes and I just added the puree.

I have come to learn that a picky eater is a tough hand to be dealt. My daughter is a fantastic eater, and she has gobbled up everything on the list above. Three of my four daycare kids have a sensitive palate. The pickiest eater wouldn't even touch the chicken nuggets - while everyone else ate them up. Was it the darker color? Was it the real chicken? Was it that they weren't shaped like dinosaurs?

What I know for sure - I'm sticking with the plan. I know I need more vegetables, and I even like vegetables standing alone, not hidden in a recipe. I know for sure that I will do my best to avoid the highly processed foods, the enriched white flour, and the sugar. I know that the kids I'm dealing with don't need to be aided with short bursts of "sugar energy."

I know that if you are looking for a way to improve your own nutrition and your family's at the same time, this is an excellent way to get started.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It seems my daughter has a bit of a "red and itchy bottom" situation. (Someday, she's going to hate me for this, among other things.) I spent a solid 30 minutes last night at two different stores searching for the right medicated cream to address the issue.

Thankfully, I have never been bothered with a "red and itchy bottom" situation. The unfortunate side of this, however, is that I am in no way familiar with all of the over-the-counter products to curtail these issues.

There are one-day treatments, three-day treatments; seven-day treatments; creams, suppositories, reusable and non-reusable applicators, and powders. It was overwhelming. I stood bewildered at each store for at least ten minutes before I could begin to focus on what I was trying to find.

Our doctor had told me that any over-the-counter product will do; what he failed to tell me was that there were three million over-the-counter products to choose from.

After a call to my husband and another phone call to our doctor (thank goodness he's a family friend), I finally left with the right cream. (And a powder for good measure.)

I called my husband on my way home and said, "Hey honey, I found what we needed. And I picked up some condoms, pregnancy tests, and lubricating gel as well. They were all within arm's reach."

He hung up the phone, put the kids to bed, and waited giddily for me at the front door.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Time to go home

How do you know when it's time to leave the party? Answer: When both of your children have thrown up.

Friday evening, my husband's family gathered at his Grandmother's house following the funeral. Things were really going quite well. We had survived the funeral, the burial at the cemetery, and the dinner with no major disasters.

It did take three pieces of gum and a package of M&M's (and a pacifier) for my two-year-old to keep quiet during the funeral. The kids did not ride in car seats in the funeral procession. Nonetheless, for being the only (idiots) parents with children under the age of five at the funeral, I was quite pleased with our performance.

However, Friday evening was a disaster.

Tucker was the first to send his supper spewing across the kitchen floor. He was sitting on my lap gnawing on a sugar cookie (Gasp - what sort of mother gives a seven month old a cookie?) when he broke off a chunk of cookie and proceeded to choke. The chunk broke free from his esophagus, as well as the bottle he had just finished, and hurled down my leg and on to the kitchen floor.

About an hour later, I was rocking Tucker to sleep in the living room. Daddy, Noah and a two-year-old cousin were rough-housing on the floor. Noah - still recovering from a nasty cough - went into a coughing spell. The rough-housing / football had taken her breath away. She (skip ahead if you have a weak stomach) gagged on some phelm and puked up her beef and noodles on the spot. I passed the baby off to his Aunt, and scooped up Puker #2 spreading the second round of up-chuck all over me. I was really beginning to smell nicely.

Needless to say, we gathered our things and headed back to our lodging at Aunt Karen's house.

Tucker's spewing seemed to be an isolated incident, while Noah's lasted through the evening. Daddy fell victim to the same stomach bug, and surrendered to the toilet gods for the rest of the night.

After a rough night, we loaded our things and headed for home promptly the next morning. Daddy and the kids were in bed by 7:30 pm. I'm running on Dr Pepper and plan to have things Cloroxed and Lysoled by morning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We're on the verge of a significant daycare shortage in town. There are two in-home providers who will be quitting at the end of the school year. A number of families are going to be left looking for a new provider. And a number of mommies will spend many hours tossing and turning about what's best for their babies.

Babies vs. Career. This was the cover of the April 15, 2002 edition of TIME magazine. I was a senior in college. I saved the magazine - must have known that was the question that would plague me just a few years down the road.

The truth is, I always knew the answer. I always, always knew I wanted to stay home with my babies. What I lacked, was the conviction to share that with my husband, my friends, my co-workers and myself. I cried and cried after my first child was born; furious at myself for not living the life I wanted.

So I went back to work for a few weeks, gave my notice, and never went back. Daycare was really never part of my "life dream," but it helps me to keep my mini-van, err, Target clearance rack wardrobe, err, lifestyle.

What I have learned is that "Babies vs. Career" is a very personal question; one that each mommy must answer for herself. And if you fail to, one, fully examine both sides of the issue, and, two, live the life you have always wanted, you have not answered the question.

Perhaps in my community a few mommies will be forced to take another hard look at that "question of our generation." And I hope they make a decision that will bring them closer to that life they dreamed of years ago...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Lena's Legacy

I never really got to know Lena. She passed away this morning - leaving behind quite a legacy.

Lena is my husband's grandmother. Ever since I have been a part of his life, she has been in a nursing home. Frail, confused, drifting between this world and what's beyond.

Though my moments with her were short, her memory is in my kitchen oh so often. Lena's legacy was her cooking. Her fried potatoes, her meatballs, her recipes rich with lard and brown sugar. My how I have tried - and tried again - to win my husband's heart by recreating her recipes. I came close once with the baked beans. The meatballs are good, but not good enough. The fried potatoes couldn't be further from the original. As for the food, his heart remains with Lena.

Lena, as you watch us from above, keep a close on my kitchen. If you should see me flip through my recipe book for one of your recipes, please send a little brown sugar and lard blessing my way. May you live in peace forever knowing your food was a little piece of heaven on earth...

Monday, January 14, 2008

A delightful place to live

I have been reading, "I Should Have Seen It Coming When The Rabbit Died," by Teresa Bloomingdale. It's an Erma Bombeck-esque book; Bloomingdale is the mother of ten (that's not a typo) children and raised her family in Nebraska. She had her first child in 1956 and her tenth in 1969. What I have found most fascinating so far are the parallels to motherhood today and fifty years ago. The stories of baby food, toddlers, lost mittens and hats and sleepless night are not so different than the stories I am sharing today.

I have had rural economic development on my mind this past week, and there was something Bloomingdale said that struck a chord with me. She was talking about the joys and blessings of having a big family - again, ten children.

"...What's it like being in a big family? It's a little like living in Nebraska. Nobody in their right mind would want to live there except those who already do, and they know it's a delightful state to be in."

Insert Kansas for Nebraska, and the statement remains true.

There are not many people who choose to live in Kansas; especially rural Kansas. In fact, out-migration is one of the toughest issues facing rural places today. The best and brightest leave home for an education and do not return. Decade by decade, our population dwindles. And our communities spiral downward from there. With the population go the jobs, the businesses and services, and - the toughest one for many - the school.

So what am I still doing here? I, like Bloomingdale, know this is a delightful place to live and have chosen to make it my home. Unlike the others, I got my education and went back to a small town.

Sometimes it feels like I took a step backwards. I compare myself to my peers from college - the places they live and the careers they have seem so exciting.

I even remember a conversation I had with my mom during my senior year of high school when we went on a college visit. She said to me, "What if you get this education and then give it all up to have a family?" Premonition only a mother could have.

Taking a look at my life now, my education is what I have to stand on. Somehow, it defines me. And because I opened my mind and my heart to an education, that keeps my wheels spinning even today as a household manager. I have so many ideas for the next phase of my life - and so many opportunities because I stand firmly on my education.

And beyond that, I want to help others see that this is a delightful place to live. I am involved locally in community development efforts. We are seeking ways to not only attract businesses and population, but more importantly, to retain what we do have.

Living here, in the middle of the country, is just enough for me and my family. There's just enough people to have a crowd at church and the high school ball games; there's just enough businesses so that I can get what I need; there's just enough people that I can have a few friends and not know the entire town.

So here's to you - Nathan, John, Britney, Trudy, Sarah, Katie, Matt, Bernie, Ryan - and so many more of my fine friends who have made the choice to make a delightful rural place their home. You are the living examples that you can really have it all - an education, a great place to raise a family, fresh air and open spaces. Cheers!

Sunday, January 13, 2008


The Potted Goose needs a makeover! I have been online for 60 days now, and it's time things start to look a little more professional. So - this is my shout-out to a graphics designer or web designer who would like to bring mother goose to life.

I am looking for someone to help me create a header for my blog; as well as assist in making the entire site more professional. If you are interested and happen to have said skills, let me know!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Paying the price

For me, the cost of daycare is much more than writing a check each week. I operate a daycare out of my home - sharing my time with children other than just my own. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the one really paying the price.

Yesterday, my daughter bit another child. Is that to be explained away as two-year-old exploratory behavior? Or, did she pick that up from a four-year-old who bit another child a few months ago?

She also flip-flops between calling me "momma" and my given name, "Sarah." I suppose she hears the other kids calling me by my name. I cringe when I hear it - I went through labor with her just so she would call me "momma."

So much of my time each day is given away to children other than my own. I understand the alternative. I could be dropping them off each morning at someone else's house; writing a check so someone else could spend their day with my children. I have already tried that. It lasted a mere three weeks; with moments of guilt that still well up in me.

Yet, I wonder? Am I, and my children, paying the price for the influence, the chaos, the endless messes? Am I being greedy? Wanting to keep my home, my mini van? (Okay, maybe not the van.)

Or is this just mommy guilt? Would I second guess every decision involving my children no matter what? Will I ever feel confident that I have done the best I could for my kids?

In a perfect world, I wouldn't have to operate a daycare. But this is my not-so-perfect life.

Noah and Tucker - I want you to forever know - that at this moment in your young lives, I am giving you all that I can. Thank you for sharing me with other children. Thank you for enduring the chaos, the mess, the unintended influence. Your daddy and I are committed to you, and only you. We love you so much more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I'm baaaaack!

Menstrual Cycle: I'm baaaaack!

Body: I thought I was feeling cranky.

MC: Well, you had quite a nice vacation.

Body: Right. Nine months of pregnancy followed by seven months with a new baby. Now that's a vacation.

MC: Sixteen months? Has it been that long?

Body: Long enough that I almost forgot you existed.

MC: Hey, at least I'm taking it easy on you this time.

Body: Easy? Those cramps piercing my back and shooting down my leg have me thinking I'm pregnant again.

MC: You think this is tough - just wait for next month.

Body: You're coming back again next month?

MC: Would you rather be pregnant?

Body: That's not what I had in mind.

MC: Okay, then. I'll see you in about 28 days.

Body: Why don't you call when you're on your way? The kids and my husband would appreciate a little time to prepare for the mood swing.

MC: You know I can't do that.

Body: Alright. But if you show up early, why I'll...

MC: What? Get pregnant again?

Body: Eh....

MC: That's what I thought. See you soon!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sneaky Sarah

Besides dealing with sick babies this weekend, I wanted to give you and update on the "Deceptively Delicious" recipes...

- My husband has enjoyed the meals so far. In fact, he said the extra fiber and veggies have "kept things runny very smoothly" for him.

- For lunch on Friday, I made chicken nuggets. The chicken was coated in sweet potatoes and then rolled in bread crumbs mixed with flax seed meal. Everyone except my pickiest eater enjoyed them. (He is just so picky that the ONLY fruit he will eat is apple slices with the peel removed.)

-One of the boys asked to have the chicken burritos for lunch again on Friday! He said, "Sarah, you can fix those for me every day!" Mission accomplished.

-I tried the rice krispie treat recipe. It called for brown rice cereal and added flax seed meal. I had to cut off my pickiest eater at three cookies.

-This week's meal plans call for pizza (with red peppers and mushrooms), macaroni and cheese (with butternut squash), chicken noodle soup (with cauliflower and sweet potato), burgers (with mushrooms and carrots), and chocolate chip cookies (with chickpeas).

- This is so much fun - it's almost like being Santa every day at lunch time!
I had dinner plans Friday night - a big group of girls and pizza and beer. Should have been a great time, right? Chatting with the girls, yakking about our babies, and relaxing a bit with a drink. I headed out and left my husband behind with two sick babies. My mind - however - really never left home that night.

Caring for a sick baby is exhausting. Absolutely exhausting. Forget what needs to be done for the day. Forget your own personal health and hygiene. Your kids take everything you've got when they are sick.

But I'm not complaining. I am not looking for sympathy; nor was I happy to be leaving my sick babies behind Friday night. I am just spelling out the truth - tending for ill children leaves you physically and mentally drained.

Somewhere in all the kleenexes, dirty laundry, tears and tantrums and hacking coughs...are my best mommy moments. God put my in the middle of that mess - with these two children - on purpose. He intended for me to care for them at their worst just as much as he intended for me to be there at their best. It's all part of his perfect plan.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Back to reality

Reality struck today as the daycare crew came back. I just had three, so it was a nice way to ease into the week. Everyone was well behaved and quiet. It was fantastic.

Oh wait. I forgot one thing. My affectionately called "mutton buster," sledded down the stairs in a cardboard box and crashed into my husband's brand, new old-fashioned popcorn popper cracking the dome lid. ( Why? Why the? What am I going to tell Brent? What am I going to tell him? He's going to beat this kid - or me.)

The popcorn popper is just fine. Brent and Noah made a batch this evening while they watched a "fuball game." As for the mutton buster, he's already got quite a rap sheet. What's one more violation?

I fed the kids the spaghetti sauce with hidden red bell pepper today - everyone had two servings. I tried a recipe for a fruit dip for snacks. Noah loved the dip, but the two boys just ate their apples. I guess I can't complain - they were eating apples for a snack. That's better than our usual bag of cheesy crackers. Tomorrow we're having chicken & cheese burritos (with carrots and butternut squash).

My husband's smile now has two front teeth. The dentist got him in first thing this morning. It's a good thing. I couldn't even look at him without laughing.

Okay...gotta get this posted before my husband sees his pic on the www.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Apparently, I needed out of the house last night. New Year's was fun, to say the least. It's nearly 2:00 in the afternoon, and I am just getting dressed for the day and am going to wash the breakfast dishes. Yeah...New Year's was fun.

So much fun, in fact, that my husband is now missing a front tooth. (The picture will be coming soon!) I would like to be able to tell you that he was fighting for his bride, or stopping a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel, or that he even slipped and fell on the ice. But the truth is, he was trying to pry the cork from a bottle of wine with his teeth. Yes, "Joe Bob" was opening a bottle of wine with his teeth. We are just that sophisticated; such astute connoisseurs of wine.

Yeah...New Year's was fun.

As for the resolution thing - I have a legitimate chance at making this one happen. I'm just so darn excited about it...

My mom gave me the "Deceptively Delicious" cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld for my birthday. (It's the one where you hide fruit and vegetable purees in meals for your kids.) I used some Christmas money to buy a mini food processor, and already got started pureeing yesterday. I just couldn't wait for January 1. This morning I made "pink pancakes;" traditional pancakes fortified with pureed beets and grated apples. As my daugher said, "they're dewicious!" Even my husband thought they were quite tasty. And yesterday I made a batch of spaghetti sauce and added pureed red bell peppers. I can't wait to try out the recipes on the daycare kids this week. I have a couple very pick eaters. I will let you know how it goes.

I have never been very good about New Year's resolutions. I figure goal setting should happen much more often than just once a year. I am, by default, a goal setter, an "achiever" type, a first born. It's part of my genetic code. Not a darn thing I can do about it.

So I hope your New Year's resolutions come to fruition, but more importantly, I hope you are always striving to be a better you!