Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Reminders of the importance of GOOD food....

We have eaten quite a bit of boxed mac and cheese lately. Not alone, of course- but with tuna added sometimes, and always some fruit and other sides. Snacks have often been cheese... or the occasional cheesy corn puffs. These aren't normally a staple of Tyrel's diet... or mine!
Today Tyrel had a genuine meltdown. Becky reminded me how Daniel used to do the same, within hours of consuming brightly colored orange (or green) artificially colored foods. These dayglo- orange cheeses really are not "natural" color! So we are back to taking a lot more care about what we are eating. yes, Nickole IS eating lots more vegetables and fruits.... but we haven't really eliminated some of the things we should.
On the FUN side... we have picked blackberries a couple of times in the past week. This morning, we finally had enough to make JELLY! It seems to have turned out PERFECTLY, already starting to jell. The kids got plenty of (not so good for you) sugar in gobbling up the last few scrapes of the pan.
 Yesterday, Mr C and I took the kids hiking at the Tanyard Creek Wildlife Area over in Bella Vista. It was the kids my second time there, Tom's first. We were pretty appalled at heading up the trail, the kids dashing ahead... to come upon a grown man  urinating right there on the trail! Had Nickole been a bit faster, she would of been 'exposed' to his exposure. We called the kids back in time, and went another route.
Tanyard Creek has been here, all the time we have... but we only just learned of it! It is a great hike along a broad, shallow creek. Wading is allowed. There is a suspension bridge, and a recently fallen sycamore tree spanning the creek. There are benches... and SHADE. I did mention the shade, right?
VERY nice when the day is 94* and hiking is about the last thing you want to think about.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fun at CowGranny's continues...

We picked Tyrel up from his cousins' house Saturday evening, after Jennifer was so kind as to get him from Becky when she picked up Connor and Alana.
Do you know what you get when you mix an only child with an eldest child?

We missed Frisby golf at the park this morning, in favor of accompanying Umpaw on the grocery shopping. Once we get lunch cleaned up, we are probably going swimming. If Umpaw wants to go along, it will be at the creek. If not, I will take the kids to the local pool. We have done a couple of the parks with Tyrel. It has just been so hot, the kids have been indoors quite a bit. Even Jaffa has been eager to get his walks over with, and get back out of the heat.

We did another demonstration today of the proper use of a handy little device known as a "light switch".  I may of gotten an eye roll from Tyrel. Keeping the two of them on track without too much bickering has been fun. I have now imposed a forbidden phrase. "Not Fair" is not to be uttered to me, or even within my hearing.

Well, so much for swimming.... Tyrel forgot his suit. The pool doesn't allow cut offs, and Umpaw doesn't feel like going. (He has been sick for several days.)

I got started on this post yesterday. We made a quick trip to the local Dollar General, and got the last swim suit anywhere near Tyrel's size.  He changed in the pool dressing room. I was at the point of going in and checking on him, when he finally appeared. (I had cracked open the door and called out to him.) We spent about 45 minutes swimming. I "time" our outings by keeping a close eye on Nickole. When she starts to look a tiny bit pink, we call it a day. She has such a fair complexion that it would be too easy to burn her to a crisp. As it is, she is freckling up nicely.

Today is housekeeping and errands. Sam asked me to put his check into the bank for him today. I told him to leave me a "sticky note" on the computer. (It is the handiest "ap"- minor notes to one another in a place everyone is sure to see!)
I heard much laughter this morning, and Sam calls out to me, "That sticky note is NOT the one I left you! SOMEONE has been messing with it!" (He glared at Daniel. Though he was trying not to laugh, so it wasn't a baleful glare.) Here is the note:
Mom could you, if you could, deposit my check in the bank, in my Bank account, split between my checking and savings account, at the bank, if you could please?
~ your favorite goat, Sam

Yesterday's grocery list was supposed to contain things we are out of. One item stood out: "Teenagers".
Yes, we are fresh out of teenagers.  Friday marked the end of the teens in our home. Guess we will only have visits from teens from now on. Umpaw suggested we persuade Alana to come stay, so that we DO have a teen in the house. 
We didn't have a party. I was at work at the Wooden Spoon. Tom was pretty sick, and didn't feel like going out. Dan and Sam did come in to the Spoon to have supper. Their birthday gifts failed to arrive on time... I am quite disappointed that Amazon Prime has failed us on such a regular basis lately. 
   Our next birthday coming up is Jasher's.
Our little Jasher Adonijah Coder... the firstborn CODER grandchild! Will be three years old on Friday. His birthday gift had plenty of time to arrive... and Amazon Prime got it there in record speed. Jasher is very happy with his Fireman Sam firehouse. (Uncle Buck disputes Tom's claim to firstborn CODER grandchild. He says that is Leigha Mae.) (Both have valid points regarding the title!)

Both the kids are up now...  Tyrel having been long arisen and is dressed and breakfasted. Nickole was roused and is consuming her breakfast, so that we may get Jaffa walked before the heat of the day sets in. Hope YOUR day is blessed!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Why am I so tired? Low key stress maybe...

Thankfully, not EVERY meal is an ordeal. Tuesday, I mistakenly believed that a bologna sandwich was the same as a hot dog. Hot dogs are readily consumed, so a bologna sandwich should be eagerly eaten by a hungry child, right?
Not So Much.
There was less struggle than usual to get her to TASTE the sandwich... then she readily consumed the bologna. Her verdict, "Your bologna is way better than my Poppys!" But it was served on multi-grain bread. 11 whole grains, which made occasional appearances as actual grain. CowGranny was NOT HAPPY to find the bread torn to bits and thrown all over the kitchen floor. The dog had not been in to find it, which had apparently been the intention.
Nickole cried like I was beating her when I made her clean it up. I only spoke sternly to her that it had better not EVER happen again, and I had no delusions that it was "an accident".

We have been feeding her for three weeks now, and she hasn't died of eating poisonous vegetables.
We have been exercising more than Nickole is accustomed to...  walking the dog daily- sometimes as far as three miles. Swimming, playing on the playground. *I* am getting a tan, having been spending so much more time out of doors, and actually NOT wearing jeans. Except during the hottest weather, I normally do NOT wear shorts. This summer has been quite different.
Tuesday we had "tennis lessons" in the park. There was a tennis pro from Bella Vista who came and instructed the kids. Monday was swimming at the pool. Wednesday is upon me, and I have nothing planned. This is house keeping day, but after that?
Nickole says she has never seen anyone clean house. (It is likely done while she is away at school.) She is learning that floors have to be picked up and swept and mopped, or vacuumed. Today I scrubbed both bathrooms, having to explain WHAT I was doing, and WHY. (As I recall, I was about 8 when I started washing dishes, and about 9 when I was shown how to clean a bathroom. I thought it was tremendous fun. My attempt at cleaning it on my own, to *help* was how I ended up with the skin scalded off both my feet when I was 8.)
All the kids have been given minor chores while they visit.  Nickole puts away the silverware and makes her bed. She folds her own clothes VERY NEATLY and organizes them and puts them away. I didn't show her how to fold clothes, except for socks. She was puzzled at how to make them 'stick together' in pairs.
Nickole told me she loves to organize things, and likes things all neat and clean around her. She asked me why I thought she might like things all sorted and organized. I gave her my opinion. She has very few things around her that she has complete control over. She CAN control her clothes and toys, in the way they are put together and stored. So she enjoys making things look nice. That's MY opinion.
May you have a blessed day. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Successful Kid Swap at Camp Washout

This weekend, Mr C and I met Becky at a halfway-mark destination, so that we could return Kimber Ann, and deliver Connor and Alana to her. We had thought it would be so much fun to camp overnight and squeeze in a couple of hours of hiking. A wiener roast followed by s'mores and hot cocoa to top off the evening.  We timed our drives just perfectly- Becky and her kids arriving just as Tom and I and our kids were gassing up and using the nice, clean "facilities".
Mom and Ralph were going to meet us at the campground.
  We checked in at the campgrounds, and set up our tents. Tom and Connor planned to sleep in hammocks, which we also set up. While Becky fed the kids a quick pimento cheese sandwich, Tom and Connor stretched out in their respective hammocks. Since we really wanted to get some hiking in, we tossed the overnight cases, pillows, bedrolls and such into one of the tents.  Not wanting the varmints to get the groceries, these were loaded into the trunk of the car, freeing the back of Becky's Excursion to hold the firewood we planned to gather. Connor and Tom were stretched out in the hammocks only mere moments, when we heard Connor hit the ground with a thump and an 'ooof'. His hammock had suffered a critical failure... it literally ripped from one SIDE to the other and tore completely in two. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt.
Connor, before the unfortunate fabric failure
  We  loaded up and went over to a trail at a lake we hadn't been to in more than a decade. We got parked and were just about to set off on the hike. Becky and the littles decided a trip to the 'facility' was a priority. Mr C decided the same. He handed me his water bottle and locked up the car.
.....With the keys inside.

   So Becky gave him the excursion key, and he went to see if he could get a phone signal anywhere in the no-mans-land of cell service, and figure out a way to get help. In looking for cell services, he stopped to ask someone and that person sent him to a nearby garage, where a man and his grand daughter were working. The fellow said that locking ones keys in the vehicle is a too frequent occurrence in those parts. He had tools, and came back to the parking lot where his grand daughter played with ours under the shady trees, and he and Tom each worked separate windows for half an hour or more, until the keys were at last set free.

While they were working on the locked car, the fellow had blocked in Becky's truck, so we were ALL stuck right there... and a storm was rolling into the area. The forecast had predicted a partly cloudy, rain free night of camping. As quickly as we could load up the kids, we headed back to camp to add the rain flys to the tents. Rose and Ralph were waiting at the camp for us. The kids realllly really REALLY wanted to see one particular sight, so we piled into the vehicles and set out for some quick sight seeing.

The rain started in innocently enough. Sporadic sprinkles. We got back to camp and were trying to decide if we wanted to wait out the rain to fix hot dogs, or go out to eat. The rain picked up the pace. With ZERO cell service, we couldn't look at radar, or call anyone to check for us. It was decided we would go out to eat. The rains decided that since we were all in our vehicles anyway... it was OK to let loose the heavens. It rained so hard we could NOT see to drive. One of the few times in our marriage Tom did more than slow down for such rain... he actually pulled over to the roadside. It came down in barrels. We figured we would eat quickly, then head back to camp to assess whether we would break camp, or stay the night.
   The nearest restaurant had upped its reputation over the years, and we were at prime time Saturday night... a line out the door and around the building. Mom and Ralph wanted to get back on the road, so we had fast food for supper instead of the restaurant. The sky was clearing as we got back into the vehicles and headed our separate ways. Back at camp, we had to get the wood we had gathered earlier out of the Excursion, no matter whether we stayed or not.
  Apparently, one should make a basic choice of camp sites based on more than finding two sites together. Becky's campsite was better drained... as all the water in the campground ran down a little channel we had not previously noted... forming a stream that flowed nicely along the slope into the flat area. Its progress was impeded only slightly by our tent. The tent with all the bedding in it.
The bedding that was sodden in its attempt to soak up the three or four inches of water the tent had valiantly stopped from escaping.

   Yikes. It was a slopping wet mess. The kids, impervious as kids are to the troubles of adults, were begging to light the campfire and have their s'mores and cocoa! We began traipsing the wet bedding over to the picnic tables and across the cars, hoping to drain some of the water off before packing up. Becky's tent had stayed somewhat dryer. Tom dumped out the accumulated water, and parked that wet tent up by the road, where it was also used to drip 'dry' the bedding. We began sorting out what items should go to which vehicle in our transferring of children. I found we had TWO completely dry sleeping bags that had been missed in the initial unloading of the car, as well as two comforters sealed in a vacuum space saver bag. With a bit of discussion, it was decided we would stay.

The s'mores and cocoa were made, and more hot dogs consumed. We sat around the campfire visiting as the kids played king of the hill and ran through the twilight.

  Becky and her kids made do with her slightly damp bedding, plus one of the dry comforters. Alana and Nickole shared Tom's multi-layer sleeping bag, spread flat. Its built in sheet and coverlet was over them. Connor used the other dry sleeping bag in an extra hammock that had somehow been taken along. Tom used his hammock and the second dry comforter. I found a dry towel, and used it to cover myself on an inflatable pool float in the tent with Alana and Nickole.

About 3:15, Becky and I emerged simultaneously from our separate tents, in need of  bush to water. The sky overhead was full of bright stars, but all around the patch of bright sky was flashes of lightening and distant thunder. It was on all sides. We figured we would ask Mr C for his opinion... and woke him up. His opinion agreed with ours. It was better to pack in the dark under a clear sky, than wait and see if it was actually going to rain. The vehicles were packed, with a bit help from sleepy children.
We stopped for coffee at the nearest convenience store... and then hugged one another goodbye. Not 10 minutes later, the skies opened up again.  Breaking camp at 3:30 in the morning was a spot-on good call.
Now, I am back to the house washing lots of bedding and such in our wonderful new washing machine. I am so thankful for its extra large capacity!
Did I mention we got to visit a tarantula?
Boy, do we know how to have a fun camping trip!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

"The Days Are Just Packed"... (Calvin and Hobbes/ Bill Watterson)

I have been enjoying this summer. Probably as close as I will get to having "Camp CowGranny"! We have been to so many public playgrounds and parks that I have lost count. We have been taking part in the summer reading program through the local library. We have been swimming both at the local pool, and at small creek that allows public access to its swimming hole. Ice skating, dog walking, firefly catching have all had a place. We have made doll clothes and colored in coloring books and sketched freehand, and drawn on the sidewalks with chalk. In digging out the crafting supplies (I can't believe I don't have ANY glue!) I came across the pattern blocks and the magnet building toy. This sparked a whole new indoor play interest.

It seems there have been too few hours to squeeze in everything we wanted to do! On Saturday, we are meeting Becky. The plan is to camp overnight, and do some hiking, before she takes Kimber, Connor, and Alana back to her house. So... we have camping to look forward to this weekend.

All of this fun has been tempered with a few chores. The food still has to get cooked, the laundry done, the dishwasher loaded and unloaded. Floors get swept and mopped, or vacuumed, beds made up. Grass has had to be mowed and the garden watered. For the most part, computer time has been very limited. Not only for the kids, but for myself as well.

I am finding it to be very true that kids not only need boundaries, but they want them. They need to know that there are rules and consequences. They need to know that you absolutely mean what you say, and that you follow through with your word. This has been REALLY hard on ME! One child is fond of stating she doesn't like what I have prepared for a meal, and that she will not eat it. She wants ice cream instead. Sorry. If you don't eat your meal, you do not get treats. Before heading out skating, I was informed that she didn't CARE that she would not be getting ice cream, she was NOT going to eat her (1/4) sandwich. She refused to even taste it. "Skating is hard exercise. You get hungry." "I don't care. I WON'T eat that!" So... it was wrapped up and put away for supper. It was so HARD to not buy her ice cream when I got it for all the other kids. Seemed "mean"... but it was in fact not rewarding her poor decision. Once back home, she was suddenly still "not hungry" when offered her sandwich. (Had she eaten it then, I may of taken her for a cone!) Supper rolled around with pizza. "Pizza is my favorite!" "I am so glad! You can have some as soon as you finish your sandwich." (Which had remained untasted.) Negotiations didn't work. She eventually decided that I really, truly did mean she had to eat her entire (1/4) sandwich. She had to throw her fits and whine and cry in the bedroom, where we could ignore her tantrum. She was free to go play, watch cartoons with Umpaw, whatever. But, nothing else to eat until she ate the sandwich. Once she did, finally eat the sandwich, she was hungry enough she ate 2 (or three?) pieces of pizza, and a big dish of ice cream.

"How did we get her to eat?"
There you go. We didn't give in to a child refusing to eat what is good for her just because she didn't want what was offered. Yes, it was hard on us. Yes, I felt bad at having to be so unbending. But it is something that HAS to be done. I am hoping we have her long enough that she will start eating good foods without the battle. I think she is often surprised that she really DOES like most of what I set before her. Once she actually tries a food, she has come back for more. The "battle" is in getting her to TRY it. We started out with a "two bite" policy... but that had to be set aside. (Two bites of each food, then dessert. ) She was filling up on dessert. Now, if she ONLY eats two bites of  her food, she only gets two bites of dessert. If she eats a reasonable portion, she can have a whole dessert.
Back to my topic on needing rules and boundaries... Kids need to know you love them. Even when they are being a pill, and they are testing your limits. You don't love them ONLY when they are being good, you love them all the time. You love them when they are refusing to taste mashed potatoes... "Yes, I can give you a hug and calm you down." (But you still have to eat your potatoes.) Affection is not a way to manipulate someone.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sum, Sum, Summertime!

We picked up Alana last week. Today we added Connor to the mix. The girls have had tea parties, played with Barbie dolls and doll babies. The box from my new washing machine has made quite a fun playhouse.
(I did mention I got a new washing machine, didn't I? I am tickled pink with yellow polka dots about it. The electronic 'brain' of the old machine went out.)
The box has been playhouse, dressing room, pet shop, grocery store... a wonderfully fun toy that came 'free' with the new machine.

Alana was added to the visiting grandkids last week. It changed the dynamics considerably. Both little girls want to be her 'best friend' and exclude the other. :( *sad face* With Connor's arrival, Alana has paid more attention to him than the littler girls, who have had to resort to playing nicely together again.

Last week we tried making strawberry jam. We ended up with strawberry syrup... which just might be more versatile than jam! We have used it on ice cream and in cereal.

The girls and I still haven't made our doll clothes. I was thinking today would be a good day for that... but today is also the 'coolest' day this week. Temperature is supposed to be only 83*. The rest of the week we near 90* So this just might be a good day for some outdoor activity.

Yesterday was activity day with the summer reading program. We met at the park to watch a barrel racing demonstration. The girls got to meet the horse. (I think his name was Rowdy.) We went to the pool for awhile in the afternoon. Day before yesterday, we went to a swimming area at a dammed creek in the area. (Stop laughing, Becky!) Our Kimber the fearless pretty much stayed knee deep... while Nickole was out deep enough to float her life jacket!

So far, I haven't gotten many pictures of Connor. But here are more of the girls since the last batch was posted. Have a blessed day!

This really captures our day. Sam, dressed in his new clothes for the upcoming wedding of a friend. Dan, helping Kimber walk on the ceiling. Tom stretched out on the couch. (Alana and Nickole were clearing up after the tea party.)