Thursday, June 28, 2007

Changes in the Wind...

I know that I have been behind on my posts...but for good reason. Our family is undergoing a dramatic life change right now. After 6 years of working in an office (almost 5 of those trying to find a fire fighter job) husband finally needed to change his life. So he quit his job and became a full-time EMT. The job he had was his first 'real' job out of college and it was only supposed to get us through my grad school...but we ended us staying around for years and years. And he has been trying to find a fire fighter/EMT job that would attempt to support us for years but they are few and far between. But he needed a we took the chance.

He went from working Monday through Friday, 9-5pm with a set salary and awesome benefits to working 3 overnight shifts a week on an hourly pay (but with full benefits). Essentially, it is a 50% pay cut! But...he worked it out with his old job that he can work part-time for them on an hourly basis...and he has another freelance job that he has been doing all along anyways. Oh...and I got a job as well (that's another post). So, we now have four income sources that we hope will equal, if not exceed, our previous income (please, please, please!).

So...our schedule is nuts! (Did I mention he is back in school a bit as well?) Adjusting will take some time...but I hope we do. And the anxiety over money is a bit stressful...but we hope we will adjust to that (I liked the one big paycheck each month). And hopefully it will only be this crazy for a year until he is a full paramedic and will starting looking for fire fighter/paramedic jobs once more.

But I tell will be worth it. My husband, although he did like his job, was suffering. This was affecting everyone. He needed to do something he really enjoyed and wanted to do. So...being a little crazy for a short amount of time should give us some great long-term benefits.

Happy parents=happy family...I always say.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ingredient of the month...

Instant Pudding!

Yes...not my usual ingredient but this is one of the processed/pre-made items I always have on hand. Always! It is inexpensive and can serve as a nutritious snack (add fruit or nuts!).

Yes, I do make pudding from scratch at times...but instant pudding is fabulous. We stick to the sugar free-fat free versions for a healthier treat. It is incredibly versatile. You can make anything...pudding (of course), triffles, cakes, pies, smoothies, popsicles, paint!

I love to use it in the summer especially since it takes no heat to it is done in 5 mins. The kids can make it themselves as well. My daughter loves to create new recipes using it...since she can do it without much supervision. It is also something that if the kids request can appear almost instantly (we don't always have cookies, cakes, brownies, ice cream on hand).

Make or buy a cookie/graham cracker crust...fill with prepared with Cool Whip...enjoy. Add, before the pudding, fruit...bananas are especially good. Or place whole cookies (oreos, nilla wafers, or nutter butters are good) in between layers. Top with nuts, sprinkles, or cookie crumbs. Chill for a couple hours. Or freeze for an icy treat!

Dirt and Worms!!
Top prepared pudding with crushed cookies and top with gummy worms!

Add pudding or jello mix, milk or juice, and fruit to a blender and mix until desired consistency.

Pudding Pops (where has Bill Cosby gone?!)
Fill popsicle molds or small cups with prepared pudding or jello and freeze until firm (at least 4 hours).

Mix pudding mix with water until a finger paint consistency (or thinner for brush painting) and paint! Can do the same with Jello (or use unflavored gelatin and food coloring).

Check out Kraft Foods and Jello for more ideas (there are tons!)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The mistakes of a busy parent

My oldest had a dentist appointment...where one goes, the rest will follow. The boys and I stayed in the waiting room while she got her cleaning and exam. Thankfully, the room was empty, so I let them run around and play (without damaging anything). When we first got there, I had to update her medical history, etc. So while I am filling the forms out, my 3yo asks to look at the Spiderman magazine he sees on the rack. I glance at it and hand it to him (with pen still moving on the paper). A couple minutes later, he comes over and shows me the magazine, telling me Spidey has a funny butt (a common discussion point these days)...then asks 'what is coming out of Spiderman's butt?' Even after looking at it for a minute, I didn't notice this until he asked. I simply replied they were spiderwebs and we should find another magazine. It was a Mad Magazine...and sure enough his webs were shotting out of his bum. I distracted him with a Highlights instead..that seemed to work. I can't imagine what the receptionist thought of our conversation.

Then we spent the rest of the 30 mins counting the beautifully mouthed people on the walls (how many boys, girls, adults, children), army-crawling under the coffeetable, looking at brochures for teeth whitening, going to the potty a couple times, selecting the perfect sticker. Note that nothing I had brought in the diaper bag remotely entertained them.

Fun, fun!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nudist Colony

I have to admit to you all...I live in a nudist household. On most days, at most times, at least one person in the house is naked..or close to it. In particular, the boys are nudies! It all started when my 3yo was potty training and we used the naked method. Since then, throughout the day, he slowly takes off more and more clothes. By bed time, he is definitely nude. With the weather, we are fine with him sleeping in just a diaper. Our youngest has taken it on as well. He pulls and tugs at his clothing....takes his diaper off at all costs (through the onesie!). We honestly don't really even notice it anymore.

Since it is so is common to have people in their bathing suits, undies and a tank top, or just undies for the boys.

We have instituted some must wear clothes when non-family members are over (as my 3yo says, 'people don't want to see me naked'). You must wear clothes outside (for the most part). And no naked butts on the table!

Is it really a big deal? Not for us. They wear clothes when it is appropriate and they don't wear them when it is safe and comfortable.

But do take this as a warning to any of our house guests!

Friday, June 15, 2007


This is my 100th post on A Mom for All Seasons!
Thanks for reading! Please come back again and again!
Happy Father's Day to all you fathers out there!
Have a fabulous day celebrating fatherhood!
Let us know what you did to celebrate!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


My grandma came to visit last was so nice. She has so many 'Polish grandma-isms' that you just have to love her!

First of all...they (my dad and her) were supposed to be here at noon (this was confirmed more than once). So, I planned my morning accordingly, including an appointment until 11am. Then I call my dad to say good morning at 9am, and they are an hour away! I had to say too bad and the door will be open but we won't be home until 1115am.

Now I should have known...this is the lady who tells us Easter dinner is at 11am (why not call it brunch?). And we are late if we arrive anytime after five minutes before we said we would be there.

But all was forgiven when my grandma brought me a batch of cabbage rolls and some kolockies (which she made at 530 that morning!).

We had a very nice visit...going out to lunch, having a pizza party, heading out to Prairie Farms, playing the in backyard. But the best part was simply hanging with my grannie. Telling me all about her work (she will never retire), what books she has been reading, all about her bad eyes, the family. And when she left, I had this plate of half-gone kolockies...and the house still smelled like her (in a good bad old people smell). I just love her!

And I am definitely off the Shit List! What's that? Well, if you do anything to anger my gram you are quickly moved to the Shit List (the SL, as we refer to it). She created this. If you don't communicate with her for a certain period (determined by her). If you don't visit when you are within 100 miles of her house. If you don't keep her up-to-date on your lives. If you don't send her updated photos of yourself and your children. If you don't give her a kiss and hug hello/good-bye (my 3yo is on the SL for that). My brother will continue to stay away because he is scared at how deep he is on the SL. The good news is that getting off the SL is quick and relatively painless...just give her a call or stop in for a visit. She just wants to be loved! And I am happy to indulge her! is her recipe for Kolockies (Eastern European cookies)
although I will probably be on the SL for sharing this with non-Polish/non-family members!

2 sticks of oleo, softened (what she calls margarine...but I use butter)
8oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp vanilla
fillings (we use canned or jarred pie fillings...our favorite is apricot but raspberry is great...or even sweetened cream cheese)

Cream oleo and cream cheese. Add vanilla and flour. Work until it becomes a nice dough. Turn out onto surface and roll until about 1/8 in thick. Cut into 1-2in squares. Add a small amount of filling to each square. Pinch two opposing corners together. Place on baking sheet. Bake 20-25 mins on 350F. Remove from oven. Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

School's out for the summer...

I love my kids...I really do. I even really like spending time with my kids, one reason I decided to stay home with them full-time.

But, adjusting to the summer routine is challenging. This past week, having everyone home all the time has been interesting for us all. Not only is everyone home without a definate schedule, they are spending more time with each other than ever before. There have been lots of good points...playing together, sharing, creating projects together, getting into trouble....but there has also been a lot of fighting, screaming, hitting. They just have to spend some time and effort working out living together.

And they eat so much!! During the school year, my daugther eats two meals and a snack at school and my 3yo eats a snack at school and then takes a nap at home. During the summer, I have to provide all those meals and snacks!* They are like bottom-less pits! We have to really watch the snacking (my 3yo has found ways to get into all the food in the house...I need new hiding places!) so they eat some decent meals.

So, we are finding our way into a schedule (regular trips to the gym, library, pools, and parks). We just can't afford camps or any other regular programs (although my daughter is in the children's theater production). We are cooking together to make healthy snacks. We are instilling a strict rest time each day for everyone (in separate rooms).

So...parenting is always challenging! and something is always keeping you on your toes...let's just wait to see what happens when my husband changes jobs next week!

*In Champaign-Urbana, the school district offers free breakfast and lunch to any child between 1-18years old at Stratton Elementary (breakfast 730-9am; lunch 1130-1245pm) and Garden Hill (breakfast 8-9am, lunch 1130-1245pm).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


We love our granola here!

We eat it with yogurt or milk....make it into muffins...and love granola bars!

But man, it is expensive to purchase. So, I make it myself. It is SO much cheaper than way, plus you can control the flavors.

Here are my favorite recipes (created by combining my favorite recipes)
4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups rice krispies
2 cups nuts (best if they are not toasted)
1 1/2 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix oats, cereal, and nuts in a large bowl. In small bowl, mix oil, honey, and vanilla. Pour oil mixture over oats and combine until well-coated. Add cinnamon and mix again. Pour onto large baking sheet and smooth into even layer. Bake 25-30 mins (or until golden brown) at 350 F, stirring every 5-10 mins. Remove from oven and add fruit. Allow to cool completely. Store in air-tight container.

Granola Bars (these taste like Luna Bars Nutz over Chocolate)
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter (I use natural, chunky)
4 cups rice krispies
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
12 oz chocolate chips, melted (optional)

In a large pot, heat corn syrup and sugar until simmering. Stir in peanut butter. Remove from heat. Add cereal, oatmeal, and nuts. Mix until well-combined. Press into 9x13 pan (press hard!). Spread melted chocolate on top. Allow to cool completely. Slice into bar-sized pieces. Store in air-tight container.

**These are mix up the ingredients as you like (use different cereals, nuts, fruits, candies, spices, add ground flax seed or wheat germ).

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Pool Time!

So, we finally made it to the pool today. It was a fun time. It was hot today, about 85 F and humid but it wasn't crazy hot like it is in July so at times it was actually a bit cool. Our littlest one was shivering a bit, coming in and out of the water.

We went to our local public pool, Sholem Aquatic Park. It has a baby pool (which isn't open right now), a zero-depth or beach-like pool, a lazy river, and a couple water slides. I really like the zero-depth pool because all the kids can be in the same pool (normally the baby pool is restricted to those 0-4yrs old, meaning my older child can't be in there but the big pool is too deep to bring the little ones). At Sholem, they also have some fun activities like a slide, water spouts, a dumping contraption in the shallow end. The kids loved it. We all really enjoyed the lazy river (called The Rapids at Sholem). The boys thought it was a really fun ride. Our 10yo really loved the bigger waterslide.

At Sholem, there are really nice grassy areas to sit and have a snack, sunbathe, or just hang out. The concession area is nice, covered, and clean. The snacks, although we brought our own, are reasonably priced (including popcorn, ice cream, soft pretzels, hot dogs, pizza, french fries). Note to parents...swim diapers are required for little ones, but if you forget, you can purchase them for $1.

Overall, Sholem is a really nice place to spend a couple hours with the family or even on a date with your special someone. They are open until 8pm and offer a couple movie nights.

We purchased a season pass (getting the early-bird discount in April). I figured out that we need to go 7 times in order to break even. Kids 3 and younger are free, so we could get away with a family pass for 3. Additionally, we can go to Spalding Pool, which is actually a couple blocks from the house. So, its a good deal...and it allows us to bop over to the pool for just an hour or leaving when the kids are throwing tantrums after we just got there...and not feel bad about spending a lot of money.

So, check out your local pool...through the park district or YMCA. Or, if you are lucky enough, get to the beach!

Enjoy! Be safe!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Summer Reading!!

First of all, let me give a big thank you to the Champaign Library's Janice Harrington!
She is a fabulous children's author and children's librarian. Unfortunately, she is leaving the library to move on to other things (teaching at the University). We were fortunate enough to participate in her last storytime on Wednesday. She is just the best, and we will miss her! Thanks for all your hard work and dedication!

Now...let's make a committment to read this summer!

If you have been reading my blog for a bit, it is obvious that we love to read here. And summer is a great time to really get into it as a family. For school-age kids, summer can be a big time for losing reading skills (up to a grade-level), so it is important to keep things going over the summer so the fall can start off right!

Our daughter's school is doing a great thing this summer. Each family is given a reading journal, a reading log, and three books to read together. The family is encouraged to read books together and talk about them as well as journal. For every book read or month of a completed reading log, the kids will get a raffle ticket for a new bike!

We also participate in the library's reading programs for all of our kids, and me too! The best part of the library program is that they provide you with a reading journal for each child. My 10yo completes hers on her own...writing down the books she reads and what she likes about them. My 3yo likes to draw or talk about his books (as I write down the titles and his dictations). My 1yo simply gets to draw and keep a tally of his books.

My goal for the little ones is 100 books read to them (not including repeats).
My goal for the 10yo is 12 chapter books in addition to reading to her brothers.
My goal is to read 12 books as well, in addition to reading for and with the kids.

We also sometimes will have a family reading night...over dinner we talk about what each of us is reading that week (whether it be a book, magazine, newspaper, textbook).

Summer time is a great time to pick up a series. I challenge myself to read all of the series as fast as I can (I just started to re-read Harry Potter).

I really like murder/crime mysteries. Here are some suggestions:
Sue Grafton's Alphabet Series
Kate White's Bailey Weggin's Series
James Patterson's Women's Murder Club Series
Robert Parker's Sunny Randall or Jesse Stone Series
Carl Hiaasen's books

If you haven't read Harry Potter...get to it! The last one comes out July 21st!
If you liked Harry Potter....try Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass).

Remember to read together! And if a child sees how much you value reading...then they will want to do it too!

Have a great reading summer!