Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tie Dye Party!

I hosted a tie dye party for our playgroup yesterday morning and it was such fun! I didn't get any photos of the process, but have some of my finished pieces to share. I was too busy with 7 adults, 11 kids under 7, and 8 bottles of permanent dye to take time to grab my camera. :) Here's info about the process, in case you want to host one at your home!

Supplies & approximate cost
plastic tablecloth or shower curtain to cover table $5 or free if you have one
old towels to absorb spills free
several packets of different colored Dylon dye $2.30 each
condiment bottles to mix & apply dye $1 each
table salt to add to dye $2
latex gloves for each dyer $2 for 10 pairs
bag of medium sized rubber bands $2
box of plastic wrap $3
100% cotton shirts price varied from $2-$5 each

Preparation & Process
1. I asked everyone to pre-wash & dry their items at home & bring them to the party.

2. Lay plastic covering on table & spread out towels on top.

3. The bottles I found held 1 1/2 cups water and the dye instructions say to add one packet to 4 cups. We put 1/2 a packet of dye into the bottle, then filled it with warm tap water. Put lid on, cover tip & shake to mix.

4. You are supposed to add salt to the dye before mixing & I totally spaced that off! The salt open the pores in the fabric to make it accept the dye. Thus resulting in brighter colors. Our colors are faded slightly because I forgot this step.

5. Wet the shirts in cold water & wring out. Fabric should be damp, not dripping wet.

6. Determine what pattern you'd like and fold/twist shirt, then secure tightly with rubber bands. Tight bands make stronger white lines in the pattern. I watched several youtube videos to get pattern ideas: like this one for hearts and this one for spirals. There are tons of great videos on this subject.

7. If the kids wanted to try applying the dye, they donned gloves and went at it. Most of our kids were too young to care, so the parents did them instead. Be sure to dye both sides!

8. Wrap item in plastic wrap to set the dye and travel home. Wait at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours before unwrapping. Rinse under cold water until water runs clear, remove bands & rinse some more. Put in washer. I did a short cold water pre-rinse, then a regular cycle hot wash with a little detergent. Dry on hot to set colors. I recommend washing/dying 2 complete cycles separate from other clothes to make sure the dye is all out and won't run. After that, it's fine to wash with regular clothes. Dylon dye usually stays good and doesn't bleed like other dyes.

9. If you get totally into this, professional dyers use Procion Dyes because the color intensity is very strong. That process involves a couple more steps and those dye are not usually available locally. Dylon dye is often sold at hobby stores like Joanne's, Hobby Lobby, and Michael's.

10. Now your one-of-a-kind shirt is ready to wear! What says summer more than a bright tie dye!?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Little Dance Party

Gotta love Aidan's request, "Promise me you'll put it on Facebook!"

Ummm, Whose Kid is This?

'cuz we are pretty darn sure that our Boy Who Eats Nothing can't possibly be knee-deep in a ketchup-soaked hot dog!

*please note that while vast quantities of ketchup and bun were consumed, the dog remained safely unharmed in this snarf fest.*

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Salads: Taco Salad!

This is a slightly modified version of Doug's parents' recipe for taco salad. I LOVE it so much, you've got to try this one! It makes a ton of salad so make it for many because it doesn't keep well. I try cutting it back for just 2 but it's hard to make it small.

Taco Salad

1 pound browned lean ground beef
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 whole head iceberg lettuce, shredded
3/4 bag corn tortilla chips, slightly broken
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tomatoes, diced
small can sliced black olives
a couple of green onions, sliced fine
1/2 bottle Western or Russian flavored salad dressing

Brown the beef while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Drain fat if needed, then add rinsed beans to pan to lightly warm. Combine other ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then add in meat/bean mix. Toss well with salad dressing to coat.

Serve with sour cream, salsa and/or guacamole.

One way I try to make this smaller, I reserve half of the ingredients and refrigerate them separately to use the next day for lunch. Then I just mix it up the next day before serving.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preparing for Kindergarten Transition, Phase 4: The IEP

This morning, we attended our IEP (Individualized Education Plan) Meeting to determine Sean's academic placement for Kindergarten. We had planned for a long meeting, but it went surprisingly fast thanks to the fact we had already met once to go over the testing results. Sean's teacher invited Sean to the meeting so that he could meet his new team members and he ended up choosing to snuggle up on my lap, then Daddy's, for the whole meeting. He was so quiet and shy!

We were notified that Sean is to attend the school we chose, with the teacher we chose. He will be at the same school as Aidan and have Aidan's former teacher, who we really are happy with. We also met the resource room teacher and the speech pathologist for the school. Sean's new teacher encourages as much inclusion time as possible for Sean, so he will be in her room at least 50% of the day. His pull out sessions will be for speech and academic focuses. He will start and end each day in the mainstream classroom. He will be there for art, language group, music, PE, recesses, social studies and science. His resource teacher will focus on his writing skill development and early math skills. While he is in the mainstream class, he will have an aide to assist him as needed.

Some of our concerns we addressed: uniform requirements, assistance for lunch, and potty independence. We heard very reassuring feedback on all of these issues.

The school dress code is khaki pants with a belt and a polo shirt tucked in. With Aidan, we were able to find pants that fit him loose enough that he could pull them up & down without buckling & unbuckling, yet the tucked in shirt helped keep them up. I'm hoping they fit Sean the same way. The teachers said that the kids all wear their uniforms as specified throughout the school, but are given the freedom to take off the belts in the resource room if needed. They said ALL the kindergartners need help most of the first year with buckles, buttons, zips, and tucking.

We brainstormed some ideas for adjusting Sean to eating more at school. I suggested that I could purchase milk in cafeteria style cartons to practice with Sean over the summer. He gets a lot of his calories from milk but is very specific about the container he drinks from right now. *ducking head* He prefers sippy spout cups still for milk, but likes juice or water from straw cups. I'm hoping to boldly ban sippy cups this summer and focus solely on straw cups and open cups for Sean and Ella. I think it will just be easier if I get rid of all of them and neither uses them. Well, easier on Sean but not so much my floors.

My other plan is to transition Sean to non-purees for lunches this summer. I think I can get him to eat a lunch consisting of a banana or blueberries, yogurt or applesauce, and hopefully either a small salad or a bread & cheese sandwich cut into bites. The kindergarten room has a mini-fridge I can use for the yogurt. I am planning on ordering these lunchboxes to help him eat independently.

My concern on potty independence is that Sean often waits till the last second to go to the bathroom and I was worried his clothes would slow him down causing accidents. He also uses a potty ring at home because he is so small he needs the added support. The resource room bathroom has a potty ring available, so that will be helpful. Of course, I'm hoping he's like Aidan and just waits to take care of that at home.

The IEP goals for the next year seem very attainable in most areas and the team even suggested that he may meet many of them earlier than a year so we will add more as the year progresses. Reading them gave me some ideas on things to work on this summer.

Due to budget cuts, he does not qualify for summer school at the preschool. His kindergarten teacher suggested a program at their school called Summer Scholars with run for a month in July, 4 days a week, 1/2 day. We are going to look into that for Sean as I think it will be a helpful way to acclimate him to the school. It's possible that Aidan can attend the program also, but we need more information on it.

We wrapped things up in just an hour and took Sean back to his class. I'm feeling much more comforted in this step now and excited to see how he will adjust next year.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Horray for Spring!

Decided to lift the dampness of winter and welcome the sun of Spring with a new bloggy look. The header photo is courtesy of our wonderful local photographer, Kalene Nisly, of Blue Muse Photography. She did a fabulous photo shoot of the kids for Easter. I got our order in weeks ago and still need to get them in the frames. Hopefully seeing my header will remind me to get that task completed. I love Kalene's work!

Preparing for Kindergarten Transition, Phase 3: Pre-Registration Night

Last night, Sean and I went to pre-register him for Kindergarten. He was very exciting to get to go out with Mommy by himself, but a bit confused about where we were going at 5 pm. I had dressed him in shorts and a polo, and he generally only wears polo shirts to church, so he thought we were going to church (he holds his hands to receive communion as his sigh for church.) I told him, "No, not church, we are going to do some papers for school."

Well, he heard school and started crying, saying no! Apparently he didn't want to go to school twice in one day. I reassured him, "no, we are not going to your school. We are going to a new place."

The district set up the Pre-Registration for all the schools in the gym at the high school, which happens to be right next door to the YMCA. So then Sean starts getting excited and signing/saying "Mama! MAMA! Swim! SWIM!" Poor kid. "No, Sean, not swimming today. We will go swimming on Friday." More tears.

Finally we walked into the gym and he saw all the crowds of people lined up at tables, but what made him the most excited was that he saw his preschool classmate Fischer running around playing with other kids.

And Fischer saw him. He came running over to Sean & saying "Hi Sean! Hi Sean! Hi Sean!" Sean was so surprised to see him & gave him a hug and a "Hi Fischer!" (Fischer and Sean have been classmates for 2 years and Fischer is one of the few kids Sean calls by name.) Fischer brought his big brother over to meet Sean. Sean was interested in the brother's DS game. I chatted a bit to the boys as I tried to fill out forms. Fischer asked if Sean could play with them off to the side with other kids & I said sure.

I sat there, jotting down answers on the forms and frequently glancing up to check on the boys. Sean had the biggest smile on his face, just playing with the other soon-to-be-kindergartners the same silly games of chasing and spinning and pseudo cartwheels. One of the gang.

I moved from the table to stand in line to turn in my forms and the boys found their way back to me. Fischer's mom was done and they were about to leave. Fischer asked if Sean could come to his house for a playdate that night. I told him we had plans later but would like to try another time. His mom said she'd get our phone number and set something up because Fischer would really enjoy having Sean over.

An invitation! To his first playdate. On his own, not just as Aidan's sibling. Not as a babysitting arrangement. My heart swelled.

Next, Sean and I had to go other to the magnet school table and fill out a transfer request. His future teacher was manning the table and tried to talk to Sean, but he was more interested in trying to climb up the stacks of folded bleachers. We discussed the upcoming IEP meeting and she said she didn't know if she'd be there yet.

I called Sean over to say hi to the principal, whispering "shake Mr. P's hand and say hi, Sean" Sean marched up to him, hand extended then got distracted by Mr. P's silky tie so he reached out to touch and shake the tie instead of Mr. P's hand.

Mr. P didn't seem to mind having his tie petted and asked Sean his name. Sean ignored him and wandered off to play on a cart dolly, then came back to ask me if we could go up to the 2nd story balcony.

I said our goodbyes, see ya at the IEP and took Sean upstairs for a walk about then we headed home. This was definitely the least painful step of the transition process!

Monday, April 12, 2010

iPods as Communication Devices & other random ideas

So, I have a few misc things to blog. One is an idea I thought of awhile ago and have been thinking about since. Here's my thoughts, bullet style. :)

* Aidan got an iPod Nano for Christmas and one of the features it has is the ability to record short videos as well as voice messages. Loads of fun for the boy that has made over 75 videos on our cell phone, but also a possible tool for Sean. See, occasionally his school has used their digital camera to film Sean's feeding therapy. We've gotten a dvd copy once in the past 3 years to show us how they work with him. I got the idea that maybe we could get a Nano for Sean's teachers to use to record sessions/helpful tips on and just send it back and forth in his backpack.

A modern day version of a communication folder or notebook that would allow us to see actual video of things he is doing & how to do them at home.

One of the biggest challenges of having a speech delayed child is that we can't ask him, "How was your day, Sean? What did you do today at school?"

They send home a generic slip of paper with boxes checked off that really offer little information on Sean's actual day compared to the rest of his class. If I saved them, I'd have a pile of paper reaching the ceiling that says "snack time: tried it? y/n liked it? y/n". 99% are checked no and no, by the way.

We've discussed if this could possibly be something worked into his IEP for next year. His preschool teacher thought it sounded like a possibility, but we haven't bought one yet for Sean's exclusive use.

Speaking of IEPs, Sean's has been scheduled for April 21. The school district Kindergarten pre-registration is on April 15, so I think I need to go to that, too.

* In news not related to Sean, his little sister is a wild woman! She looks totally toddler now with double scraped up knees and shin bruises from ankle to knee. This weekend she climbed on the porch swing and wedged her chubby thigh between the seat & back, resulting in me needing to pry it out & now has fine bruises in a linear formation.

* In related news, Sean and Ella have both learned how to unlock the front door handle. EEKS! I returned home one morning from taking Aidan to school to see the front door wide open and both of them swinging on the porch. Doug had been in the shower when I left. We now have to chain ourselves in to keep them from running out front all day.

* Aidan's school is having their Spring Concert tomorrow night and we are excited to go see him perform. He's happy that he has a line to say during the show and has memorized the words to their songs. I never knew there was a second verse to It's a Small World !

* All three kids have had massive growth spurts this winter. Aidan has gown up a clothing and shoe size since the beginning of the school year, so I took him shoe & uniform shopping last weekend. Ella is getting so tall and also moved into a new shoe size. But most surprisingly is that Sean has gained weight for the first time in YEARS! He's up to 38 pounds now, whereas he's been stuck at 34 for a couple years. He's also grown taller and I think I might fit in size 5 pants by Kindergarten.

* We found out about Sean's growth spurt due to a trip to the doctor for a nasty ear infection last week. It's cleared up now and I hope the tube is still securely in place. He had so much drainage the doctor couldn't see the tube last week. Yuck!

* We are debating on summer plans for the boys. Trying to decide on if Sean will do summer school. If Aidan will do coach-pitched baseball again. We want to get Sean in swimming lessons, he is such a fish and so in love with going to the pool.

* We also need to decide if we are going to go somewhere do something special for our 10th anniversary & Doug's 40th bday. Both events occurring this summer.

* We need to plan a start date for our summer building project- tearing out the ratty old fence and making a lovely new wood privacy fence.

Yeah, I guess that's enough for now.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Our Cafe is Now Open for Business!

Cafe manager, Aidan, carefully chooses a healthy, fresh special of the day under the watchful eye of his head chef, Sean.

Our friendly waitress prepares the kitchen for the day's feast.

Your meals are made to the finest standards and the dinner theatre is free!

We even have a selection of delicious ice creams to top off your meal.

Aidan's motto is, "Service with a smile!"

Thank you, Nana and Papa for the fun new kitchen! We promise to keep a table reserved for you!

Saturday Salads: Chunky Chicken Salad

2 boneless grilled chicken breasts, cut into cubes
2 stalks celery, sliced
about 30 grapes, cut in half
small handful of chopped walnuts
about 1/2 t dill
a few cracks of fresh pepper
a few shakes of salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise

Combine & chill. Serve on whole wheat bread or stuffed in pita pockets with a bit of lettuce.

use dried cranberries instead of grapes and pecans instead of walnuts for another yummy version of this salad!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Party like you're turning 39!

Last night, Doug arranged to have his brother babysit all three kids (he hadn't kept shy Ella before) while he took me out to dinner! He came home from work with a bouquet of flowers, a birthday cake for after dinner, and a silly gag gift (a Popeye tee shirt.) We had a great dinner at Il Potrillo where I enjoyed a Margaretta and ate shrimp & scallop fajitas. My sister called while we were waiting on our drinks and we both panicked that it was a call from home already! Instead it was a "Happy Birthday" serenade.

Curt said all three kids were great for him and they seemed content when we got home. Aidan helped Doug fill the tiny cake with the entire box of candles for my cake inferno.

Made a wish with the help of Sean.

Curt suffered from smoke inhalation. Or did his eyebrows get singed?

Sean surprised us all by taking several bites out of the cake! No, worries, we just ate from the other side.

We are planning on a dinner party and hotel night in Manhattan in a couple of weeks to celebrate with my parents, sister and nephews. Lucky me, blessed to have so much love in my life!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

"You say it's your birthday...

well it's my birthday, too!" So today I thought I'd share pictures of my life before motherhood. :)

10 years ago, I went from being a single woman to a wife

as my Dad entrusted another man with my happiness

and my Mom said goodbye to her last unmarried daughter.

19 years ago, I was an optimistic young college student with endless possibilities before me.

29 years ago, I was introduced to foreign lands and cultures as I explored Europe with my older sister and Grandmother. What an awakening!

33 years ago, I dreamt of princesses and barbies and castles with mouse ears while snuggled next to my younger sister.

38 years ago, I experienced the sisterhood of multi generations with my older sister, aunts, mother and grandmother.

Looking at myself 38 years ago, I see my young daughter in my own face, under my father's gaze.

39 years ago, I smiled in my young mother's arms, the planned and loved second daughter. So much living laying ahead, extraordinary experiences, limitless learning, boundless love.

I often wonder of my mother's journey in motherhood. Does it seem so fleeting to her as it does to me? Does she feel like she can just blink and decades swirled past? Where does her journey end and mine begin? Where will my daughter's journey begin, or has it already? Do we all walk this path together, mother-to-daughter-to-daughter-to-mother?

Happy birthday to me, Mom. Thank you for holding my hand as I walk.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Celebration

I know, I know, I'm falling behind again. We've have a week of gorgeous weather and just are having too much fun soaking up some sun! We had some good times celebrating Easter with the kiddos this year. All three enjoyed coloring eggs and hunting for goodies. Just gonna share some pics and get back to my sweaty dusty toddlers. :) Happy Spring, friends and family!