Wednesday, November 27, 2013


As the Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaches I have been trying to have more conversations with the kids about gratitude. I get the distinct sense that this subject matter is a little deep for them.

"So what are some things you are happy that are in your life? Things you're thankful for?"


"Anything else?"

"Nope, not really.......Wait! Crayons! I'm happy I have crayons, and Christmas, yeah, Christmas is good."

And perhaps Wes is thinking big grateful thoughts in that little mind of his and just can't get the words out.

"Wes? Are you thankful for things?" I say this with complete assurance that he will just nod his little head.




This is Wes's new word. No. I think he is quite concerned that since he is about to turn three and hasn't until this point been able to use the word "no" that he is in danger of not being allowed to get older.

He has started a vigorous cross training program aimed at building up his stamina in the no department. He's excelling. I don't want to brag but he's no-ing on a pretty advanced level.

"Wes is your favorite word no?"


See? See what he just did there? We all know the answer is in fact YES but he is slipping in an extra no just for dramatic flair. Advanced I tell you.

While I too am thankful for Christmas and crayons my list includes being thankful for the "no's" and the perspective that life is a journey and not a race.

I am so thankful that I can be privy to watching my children learn and grow and that they have the support they need to do so in a positive and consistent manner.

I am beyond thankful that we seem to have found a medication regimen that is working pretty effectively for Wes's digestive issues and that we might just might be seeing the light at the end if the tunnel.

As I sort through the last year of photos I see that the boys have a deep appreciation and love of many things.

They are thankful for Legos
I am thankful they are old enough to clean them up 

I am thankful for naps
even if it means having a sweaty neck

and peaceful faces
I am thankful for sweet eyelashes

Jack is thankful for the vacuum
I am thankful he likes to vacuum

Wes is thankful he can get away with................ 
wearing no pants!

Wes is thankful for bread

really really thankful for bread

I am thankful for little hands who hold mine while they sleep telling me without words that I need to slow down

We are all so thankful for Daddy

I am thankful for these little heads

I am wishing you and your entire family a very happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The day Jack came home from kindergarten Chinese

Jack came home from Kindergarten Monday and announced he was Chinese.

After a brief and intensely confusing conversation about why he was not in fact Chinese he showed me his latest school assignment.

We sat down together and read the information and Jack informed me we would be making flags together. Hence the Asian confusion from earlier.

 This month his class is celebrating their shared heritage and the teacher wants each student to note theirs and draw the corresponding flag for each country they hail from. Attached was a short survey about cultural customs, dress, meals, and holidays that we observe.

So after lunch Jack and I got down to business and we started discussing the various countries both sides of our families are from. Surprisingly enough none of these countries or lands of origin are Asian in nature. Jack remained steadfastly confused. I don't blame the child.

The first flag we drew was the Spanish flag and he wanted to know why we didn't speak Spanish if we were from "the Spanish," as he calls it. I told him I didn't really know why but that we could both learn it. He remained unimpressed.

Then, when we moved on to Ireland and he wanted to know what language they spoke and I told him mostly English, his confusion deepened. We topped this all off with the grand old English flag and his confusion reached an entirely new depth not yet achieved by the Spanish and Irish flags.

Jack: "What do they speak in English?"
Me: "You mean England? English."
Jack: "Can you speak English?"
Me: "Yes and you can too. We are talking in English right now."
Jack: "How are we talking in English?"
Me: " We just are........"

Thankfully he stopped his line of questioning. So we stood back to reflect on Jack's flags and he was quite proud of his handy work.

We then got cracking on the survey that accompanied the flag project. It wanted to know what plants grew in his countries of origin.....oh dear....Then we got to what cultural customs do we practice in the home.....ohhhhhh dear. And we ended with a nice what holidays or traditions do you observe from your native land......ohhhhhh crap.

 I wrote palm tree for plants because lets get real what the heck else can I put? I don't think Ireland or England have any super awesome flora or fauna we don't have here and well palm tree seemed cool, maybe even exotic. Spain is our only shot at a non W.A.S.P heritage here.

Big money no whammies SPAIN! I'm putting all our culturally cool eggs in one basket and that basket is named Spain. Never mind that the closest Jack has ever gotten to eating Spanish food was trying a tortilla once, he can say Adios and that has to count for something. Right? RIGHT? Si? SI? I'm speaking in Spanish now for added authenticity.

When Brian came home from work that night and Jack started showing him the flags he had drawn he proudly announced that tomorrow we were going to draw the Chinese flag.

Oh well. Maybe I will embrace the new Asian side of the Kelleys and fire up the wok. I can understand his level of confusion. Jack's kindergarten class is one of the more ethnically diverse groups of children I have seen and its a delight.

There are families hailing from the Philippines, Japan, China, Columbia, Vietnam and India. Its diversity at its very best. His best friends name is Sevin. He sits at a table with a boy named Pi and a girl named Chmoi. I'm told, by Jack, that I pronounce her name incorrectly. I'm pretty sure everyone that tries to say that name is not saying it correctly. I guess that's the risk you run when you name your kid Chmoi. Pi's parents had the right idea.

Because of Jack's level of confusion about his heritage, I felt the need to send a quick email to his teacher giving her a heads up about his muddled beliefs about his cultural ethnicity.

Dear Mrs. V,

I just wanted to write you a quick email to let you know that Jack has expressed some confusion regarding his cultural heritage and the flag project. He remains insistent that he is Chinese. You may or may not have realized that we are not of Asian descent. Jack remains unconvinced. We are rather, of a more European descent, and hail from Spain, England, Ireland and various other European countries. We just wanted you to be adequately prepared for his level of confusion regarding his country of origin. I will be sure to work with him in the days leading up to his presentation but thus far he remains at best distinctly confused.

Jack's non Asian mom Lily

I'm a bit concerned for his presentation to his class this Friday. He cannot remember which country belongs to which flag or what countries he is supposed to belong to for that matter. He believes Spanish is a country and is still completely covered in marker but he quite enjoyed himself which I think should be the point of a lot of school work for his age group.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lesson #12: Content with the uh ohs

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Children are wonderful at being in the moment. They are naturals at mindfulness. When they play they are fully engaged and they let the real world slip away preferring instead to become intent observers of make believe. They aren't worried about running that errand, paying that bill, doing that assignment, or making that appointment on time because for that precious increment of time their priority is focusing on that singular moment and nothing else. I'm not sure when this slips away from us and when we simply decide that being present is no longer a worthwhile endeavor but its something I have personally struggled with for some time. I tend, like others, to project out and think ahead. I like to map things out and predict what the next task to complete is. While this can be a beneficial trait it can also be the undoing of quiet moments I should be enjoying. How do I learn to enjoy this moment instead of worrying about the next? Why do I shatter the calm of this moment in the hopes that I can change the outcome of the next? Why do I become so disenchanted with the newest accomplishments or successes and press on for more and more?

We find ourselves in a society where we should be constantly evolving. Ideally we are all learning, advancing, absorbing, expanding. We can get sort of obsessed with that notion. You should be smarter by now, you should be achieving more. This ever constant buzz that hums about your ears has a consistent message. "Don't be content with what you have." This is such a dangerous mentality and one I have been far too guilty of listening to. If you are also a parent you know all to well that this desire to better ourselves can all too easily translate into pushing our kids to learn more and more. You find yourself trying to teach your kid how to count in different languages, or do fractions before they are ready, not because they are interested in it, but because they should be doing it. I certainly don't mean to suggest that we shouldn't be teaching our children, of course we should, I just mean that as a parent there is this insane pressure to make sure our children know enough, are exposed enough, are cultured enough, are polite enough etc. They should be pushing for more. So we push, we struggle, and we strike on. But what would happen if we all just gave each other permission to tread water? What if we just sat back for a moment and breathed into those moments of success? What would be different about your life, my life, if we just lived in the most successful parts of our day? I would probably be a lot less cranky.

 This topic has been spinning around my head for awhile. Wes, who will be three in January has and is struggling with a significant speech delay. It took a year of weekly speech therapy for us to get to the point where he could say, "pa, ma, ha, ah" back to back. We aren't even at the point in therapy of speaking actual words. A year of hard fought syllables. For months he struggled to switch from one consonant sound to the next and for many sessions we just had to work on the letter we started with. For instance if we started out by asking him to say, "Ha," he could only successfully say syllables with the H sound. We have just now rounded the bend of being able to switch, with some ease, in between consonant sounds and we are noticing a definitive increase in his ability to spontaneously use words without us having to prompt him. He can now say, "wa," for water, ""Mmmm" for milk, "ca" for car and "bye" for goodbye,  and his favorite and perhaps most used, "uh-oh" for pretty much everything else that goes wrong.

But as good as those words are, there are so many more that he needs to convey the complex things he is thinking and feeling. I can't help but feel he is locked in a room with no way to get out. I want nothing more than to hear I love you, to hear what he wants from Santa, or to hear about his good and bad dreams. I want to hear him babble, I want him to tell me what he wants, what he's scared of, what he needs, what angers him or makes him laugh. I want these things so much it hurts. But perhaps the real problem is that I want those things for him so much that I am in danger of missing the special moments that are now. What I would have given last year to hear him utter anything let alone use signs and now I take these things for granted and push on wanting more and more. What if I gave the Uh ohs space in our life and gave them the celebration they deserve. What if, just for today, I decided to be content with the speech Wes does have and set the worries aside for another day. I want to tell you all to do it because miraculous things might start happening. For instance a little boy might grab your face while loading him into the car and point at the moon. You then might say, "yes thats the moon! Mooooooooonnnnnn. Can you say Mmmmmooooo?" The little boy might then make the sign for eat and point emphatically at the moon. "You want to eat the moon?" you might respond. The same little boy might shake his head and then point at the moon, make the sign for eat, and then the sign for toast. "The moon is hungry and wants to eat toast?!" That same little boy will shake his head vigorously up and down and "Mhhmm." as you get him buckled in. He will then grab your face softly with both of his little hands and make the sign for thank you. He's not thanking you for buckling him in, but for understanding him and what he is saying. You might then let a little tear slip down your face as you slowly back out of the driveway and give thanks for the little uh ohs you have previously been so dismissive to.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chocolate chip cookies (That won't break the calorie bank)

When we had to convert to an egg free household the first thing I tried to tackle was the chocolate chip cookie. I first tried subbing egg with Ener-G egg replacement powder and I found the cookies dry with a slight after taste. I wanted a cookie that didn't taste lower in calories, but was, and tastes like a rich yummy treat. Also while I am at it I want to eat three dozen cookies and lose weight. I figured I would put that request out there while we are being all demanding. Someone get on that, stat.

I tried adapting my favorite light cookie recipe but found that I was having a significant problem with the cookies spreading when they baked. They looked sad and were crispy instead of moist and chewy. They needed some bulking so I ground up some oats and that did the trick. The thing I like about this is that you get a slightly nutty taste from the oats, the added health benefit of oats, the bulking and moisture from the oats, but because they are ground up you don't chew the oats so it isn't an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. Also because they have chia seeds in them instead of nuts I have basically made a health food and you can feel free to eat a bowl of them for breakfast. I kid.

Also if you aren't coping with an egg allergy feel free to use eggs and you won't notice much of any difference in the taste.


1 cup flour
1/2 cup oats (grind in blender)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP chia seed + 3 TBSP warm water (or one egg white)
1 tsp vanilla
4 TBSP butter or shortening melted
1/3 cup chocolate chips

1: Preheat oven to 350.
2: Melt butter or shortening and add sugars. Stir or beat until light and fluffy.
3: Add chia seeds mixed with the hot water or egg and stir to combine.
4: Add vanilla.
5: Combine dry ingredients, including oats which you have ground in either a blender or cuisinart. You can add the oats whole if you prefer.
6: Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and stir until combined.
7: Add chocolate chips and portion out onto baking sheet.
8: Bake for 8-10 minutes or until just golden brown.

Make them your own by changing around the ingredients to suit your taste and the allergies of family members! As is these cookie are egg free and nut free and if you use shortening rather than butter they are easily converted to dairy free.

Nutrition Information:
Calories: 95, Fat: 3.1, Carbohydrates: 16, Protein: 1.1, Sugar: 10.5, Fiber: 0.3

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lesson #11: How to be a battery cheater

When I was a kid I had this sweet brown fisher price cassette player. I would rock out to kids music and listen to books on tape. Mostly it ran out of batteries right at the good parts and all of a sudden everyone would start talking or singing really slowly. No worries I would just pop the cover off the battery compartment and pop those D batteries into my battery charger. Boom. Problem solved. Can you even remember the good old days when batteries died in a toy and you could just pop the cover off and replace them? I know the mere thought or memory of this is giving you some sort of awkward blood rush. The sheer freedom of being moments away from taking something from inoperable to operable can tend to make one drunk with power. Can we not find a way in this hyper modern world to replace the damn batteries in kids toys without unscrewing 89 miniature screws? Can we seriously not figure this out?

If you're a parent then you have been there. Your child brings you something that needs new batteries. Sometimes you just lie and say its broken and don't even mention the whole new battery idea. Don't worry that makes you normal. When my children won't buy that particularly unconvincing explanation, and instead insist that a repair is possible, I break out in a cold sweat as I realize the impossibly tiny battery chamber is held tight with about eight screws. Two just won't do here. Clearly most children have the fine motor skills to expertly wield and operate multiple tools up to AND including screw drivers so we have to take the utmost care that we put as many tiny screws in the damn compartment as possible. I mean really. REALLY?! Are we going for some sort of record here? Do the toy companies get paid per screw? Once I find my impossibly tiny screw driver, which by the way was left in the most logical place imaginable, the bathroom cabinet, I then spend fifteen expletive ridden minutes extracting said tiny screws. Then and only then do I realize the damn toy takes AAA batteries. Who the hell even has these on hand? What sort of black magic is this? So now I am rummaging around in my junk drawer, checking the glove compartment of my car, the bottom of my purse and the bathroom cabinet which I am now pretty sure has magically qualities. This feverish hunt produces two AAA batteries....but I really need three. SO I cheat. Battery cheating involves adding two new batteries and one old dead one. I'm told this is a bad thing to do. I'm lead to believe this is disastrously inefficient and potentially dangerous. May lightning strike me down then because I am not coping with putting a child to bed without his beloved and slightly trippy Dreamlite turtle. You know the ones that project stars onto the ceiling in different colors so your kid can spazz out instead of going to bed.
Why sleep when you can trip out?

So now that I'm an official card carrying member of the battery cheating club I do the only sensible thing and eat a cookie. Ok maybe two. If lightning is going to strike me down I would like to go out on a calorically dense high note. It seems only right. Ok, so cookie in hand, or mouth, your choice, and I go to retrieve my tiny screws. Oh dear God. I have only six of the necessary eight. Well crap. Have you eaten them? Have I lost them in the couch? So now I am searching for satans screws and finally find them and get them back in the damn holes and screw them back in using excessive force because after all I know the cold panic of losing a tiny screw. Then I press the button in order to see the brilliant starry sky in the only way it was meant to be seen, projected off of a giant sea turtles back, and............. nothing happens. What fresh hell is this? Is it finally time I am being made to pay the battery cheating piper? Crap I knew this day would come! I got cocky. So I unscrew the impossibly tiny screws AGAIN and realize I have just installed the batteries backwards. Phew. Rectifying my grave battery error and replacing the screws yields me the starry night sky I need to put the darn kids to bed. Good news this whole process took me a quick hour and the kids are now going to bed at 9 instead of 8. This is going well.

On behalf of all parents I am going to say they obvious, THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER WAY. I need the rip cord version of battery replacement so I can get on with my day and my very important business. I don't know if you know this but I am a skilled zester of oranges for potpourri and I am very very busy. I also have quite a lot of trashy T.V to watch while my children make each other sea sick with their spinning turtle lights instead of going to sleep.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Lesson # 10 Pin all the things and some bad stuff happens

I blame Pinterest for convincing me that I can do stuff. I too have floated a precious magic eraser in one of my toilets hoping against hope that the sponge would magically clean my toilet overnight. The magic eraser fairy must have been on a serious bender because I ended up with no such clean toilet.

Pinterest offers us this marvelous opportunity to pin hundreds of ideas and recipes and DIY projects in the hopes that we can be this person we have always wanted to be. The person who has it all together. The most perfect version of you. You know, the person whose house looks like it comes straight from the pages of Pottery Barn (but guess what she whittled all her furniture from re-purposed logs she found in her back yard!), the perfectly coiffed hair and face (She makes her own makeup out of crushed berries and stones and it only takes 43 seconds,) the mom who makes gluten free hand dipped shortbread cookies that also have no sugar (This mom secretly drinks.....Shhhh we can't all have it together.) Pinterest makes us promises. It whispers to us that its as easy as one two three. You can do it! Lies! All lies! My friends I am here to tell you I fall for this every single damn time. I tell you I pin something and I become convinced I have found my next crafty project.

"Oh my gosh I am going to secretly become really good at felting and embroidery and then maybe I will have some left over time to make some orange zest potpourri. I always knew that I was good at making potpourri. I can just feel it."

Never mind the fact that I have not even begun the project that I am already secretly convinced I am pretty stellar at. I mean I don't want to brag but in my mind I am zesting on a pretty advanced level.

So I try a lot of things I find on Pinterest. Sometimes I come out a winner. Other times? Well other times I make the "Pintrosity" hall of shame. For instance on one such occasion I became rather convinced (read obsessed) with the notion that I could clean between the glass of my oven door. If ever there was a time for that blessed lady to shout, "Ain't nobody got time for that!" this was her moment to shine. But she didn't show up to stop me, so I followed the directions so I could have a gleaming oven door. Having a clean oven door would pretty much complete my life. Pretty much.

First Step: Get a screw driver and remove oven door by unscrewing screws and gently lifting door off its hinges.

What it should have said: Find one of your 900 screw drivers. This will take you 43 minutes. Wait until your children are both hungry and tired and then begin trying to remove this impossibly heavy object from your oven. Don't worry this will only take another 28 minutes and the danger that the door will crush a member of your family ranges from approximately 23% to 49% depending on who you ask.

Second step: Locate the screws on the back of the oven door and unscrew them all. Gently lift off the glass.

What it should have said: See all those screws that are crusty and gross and filthy? Yes those ones. Unscrew them all but don't gouge your arms off. I know it seems impossible given that they are covered in chicken fat and grease. What the hell do you cook in your oven woman? Once removed, try to put them in a safe place where you won't forget about them. No, not there, that place is complete rubbish. No wonder you can't find your 900 screw drivers. OK now gently remove the glass and put it somewhere safe. Wait, scratch that. Just tell the kids not to touch it. Hahaha, I kid, I kid, they won't listen. They are now covered in chicken fat.

Third step: Clean the pane of glass that is embedded in the oven door and replace other pane of glass, replace screws and place door on hinges and then replace those screws. Voila! Perfectly clean glass.

What it should have said: Note how the glass that is embedded in the door is also double paned and will in no way shape or form allow you entry to clean it. Oh you can certainly try to bend a coat hanger and shove it in that random crack and see what happens, but I will give you a hint, you won't be anywhere near the glass lady. Replace the other pane of glass and curse Pinterest for making you think you can do these things. You can't. This is why we can't have nice things. Wait to replace the oven door until your husband comes home because you will lose a foot otherwise. Also if possible try not to let the children play in the oven even though it now doesn't have a door. Voila! Perfect Pinstrosity!

Or maybe cupcakes are more your style? Delicious cupcakes that look like cute little candy corn?! Just in time for Halloween! The kids will love them! And OK so you need to make them egg free so the little guy can partake but that seems easy enough. Oh they will have such warm fuzzy memories of holidays with their fun mom who made them cute little treats.

What they should have looked like:

What they looked like:
They look just like candy corn don't they?
Jack's expression says it all 
Epic flop. The kids were good sports and told me they were delicious and they enjoyed decorating them but I needed redemption.

Desk before
So as I wandered my local Goodwill looking for redemption and anything that looked like it needed rescuing I found this little beauty. Beat up, chipped, and badly in need of some TLC. It was a manifestation of my Pinterest ego. It needed a boost.To Pinterest! It took me two months of weekends sanding away in the garage and countless trips to Home Depot to buy things I have no business purchasing, but I just finished staining it this weekend and I am so happy with the results. At last a Pinterest success!

Desk after
 I am hopeful that with the new desk comes the renewed energy and time to write more. So huzzah my fellow Pinners. Never give up and remember you can always come here to share your Pinterest related woes because I too know the bitter sting of a Pinstrosity.