Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jude: What the 2nd Year Brings

It's that time again.  My little boy turns 2 today and I love it!  When he was a few weeks old, I remember saying how much I wanted to know what kind of a person he was going to be. What would he like? What would his nature be?  And now, I love who he is and can't remember when I learned all about him!

This second year has brought horses, more books, basketball, JUMPING, cuddling in mom and dad's bed, and so. much. talking! For me as a mom, this second year has brought yelling - which I never wanted to do, threats - which sound ridiculous as I say them, and punishment - which is hardly consistent.  That being said, I love how he teaches me to grow - when I don't want to, when it's hard and especially, when it's inconvenient. 

We were very blessed with a beautiful (if a little windy) day to celebrate with a few friends.  I'm so very grateful for how much love J sees in his life.  It's natural to desire (even demand on some days) the ideal or the best for your child/life/day/circumstance but ultimately we never really control it.  The lesson I'm slowly, slowly learning is that the love is what matters.  And love just oozes out when I see these guys! Happy 2nd Birthday Jude!

Friday, November 9, 2012

How Useful is Your Library?

I'm the queen of not utilizing things mostly because I'm not in the habit.  Sure it might be life changing, but if I haven't purposefully pushed it into my schedule or lifestyle, it might as well not exist to me.  The library is one of those things for a lot of people.

Loves to read, just like his daddy! They do what they see!

I have always been a reader, but like I said, going to the library was an extra step that I didn't always take advantage of.  Once I met Mr. Butler, who consumes words on a page like water, I was hooked, if only by association!   We are blessed to live seconds from a recently renovated, very awesome library which is part of a huge library system here in Oklahoma City.  So it's easy for us.  Some of you might not be so blessed and of course all libraries don't offer the same services.  If yours doesn't offer something, ask why not or what it would take to get it.  You'd be surprised at how far you can get just by asking.  Still, here are some really cool things about Oklahoma City's Metropolitan Library System.

-Internet Reserves: Doing a research project? Found out your gluten intolerant? Think your husband's cheating on you? You can look up every book on the subject available in their system and request it to be reserved for you.

-Online Renewals: If you want to keep a book as long as they will let you (about 2 months, depending), just renew your books online.  No need to even show up.

-Interlibrary Loan: As a card carrier, you have access to ALL libraries in the system.  That means if your local branch doesn't have a book, the other 17 might! Use their website to find a copy and have it sent to your library for borrowing!

-Books by Mail: If you are homebound, you can qualify to have library books sent to you by mail for free!

-Free Events: There are free events (performances, club meetings, seminars, etc.) scheduled every week throughout the branches.  All are very relevant to families, developing child readers, community opportunities, etc.  Awesome, awesome, awesome.

-Databases: Newspapers, almanacs, phone directories, encyclopedias, the list goes on of all the different kinds of information available and available online! Research (that isn't just internet 'knowledge') at the tip of your fingers 24-7.

-Free Wi-fi & eMedia: Free Wifi and computer access - score! A whole host of books are available for loan on your ereader as well as audiobooks galore!

And yes, I could go on.  But here's the deal: If anybody in your family is in school (public or home) or ever needs to do research of ANY kind, why aren't you using your local library? It's an awesome resource that you're paying for anyway (taxes) whether you utilize it or not, so why not?  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Your Stroll is my Race

Have you ever witnessed somebody breeze through something in a few moments that you struggle for hours to get right?  It's daunting and frustrating.  Have you ever experienced (you or a child) racing through a subject at school with ease and/or not grasping something until months (sometimes years) later than the norm?

We all have a habit of assuming that most people don't struggle with those kind of inequalities.  We assume that it's just us or our kids, not most families.  As a piano teacher, I'm blessed with the opportunity in some cases to teach siblings.  In case you're not accustomed to the differences in family members, they are consistently inconsistent! What's easy as breathing for one, is a foreign language for another.

I'm the mother of an almost 2 year old who has lots of cousins and friends near his age.  Comparing skills is second nature, sometimes out of fun, sometimes out of fear that our child is behind.  But there is a very clear point that we are not getting as a society and often not practicing as parents and teachers.  Everyone - EVERYONE - has their own pace when it comes to learning and developing.  When we treat (panic, rush, demean) each other (especially kids) as though they've missed the boat on something, we miss the point of learning.

My son is not interested in colors and says everything is green (which is a mighty fine color).  In some circles that might be cause for heavy concern.  But I know that my son is developing weekly - more words, more signs (ASL), and more complex concepts.  And he's got a great arm! I trust that he'll get there eventually, so what's the emergency?  It's so easy to get hung up on milestones and skill levels and ignore the full picture of someone's development.

Everyone is going to have weaknesses and strengths.  If you give a child the message that their weakness makes them abnormal or wrong, then that could affect their approach to learning.  We all have to work harder at some things.  Sometimes your stroll (through algebra or public speaking) is my race.  The sooner we accept those realities, the sooner we can focus on how we are developing as a person, not just at a skill level.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Ideas for Your November

-Make your own applesauce.  Apples are in season (and cheaper) so take advantage of it now! Here's how I do it.

-Create a thankful jar for an important person in your life.  Fill it throughout the month with all the reasons and examples of why you're thankful for them. What an impact this could make in their life!

-Google a couple of your family's Thanksgiving traditions.  Make a game out of it by having everyone guess before revealing the truth.  More often than not, we have no idea how certain things got started!

-Plan to try one new thing for your Thanksgiving holiday.  Maybe a new craft, new recipe or start a new tradition!  Even if your new thing is an EPIC FAIL, you'll still make a fun memory with your family!

-Clean out your pantry and donate items to a food drive or food bank.  Or even better with your family or friends, hold a fund/food drive to benefit your local food bank.  The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is always accepting donations and makes it easy!  Look for something similar in your area.

-Take some pictures! Document the leaves changing colors and capture where your family is right now, for better or worse.

-Before the holiday chaos ensues, sit down and reflect on the year that is quickly coming to an end.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Applesauce From Scratch

Why make anything from scratch?  Doesn't it take too long?  Isn't the stuff you buy at the store good enough?  More than anything, the best reason to make anything from scratch is because its better for you.  Take applesauce for instance.  Unless you look for it carefully, most jars have extra sweeteners (sugar) added in.  Sweeteners, that in my experience, are totally unnecessary if you use the right combination of apples.  Usually, making your own is significantly cheaper as well.

Well, here is something that is so easy and doesn't take but a couple of hours for a batch and will taste so good you will turn your nose up at the store bought.

There are several websites discussing details about making your own applesauce and varying recipes, like Pick Your Own, Simply Recipes and Preserving Autumn but here's my take on it.

-Pick out 2 or 3 different types of apples.  The sweeter the apple, the sweeter the sauce.  Why you use tart (granny smith) apples and then sweeten it up with sugar is beyond me!  Varieties like Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, McIntosh, or Cameo.  All of my combinations have resulted in an apple pie filling flavor. WAY better than the store stuff!

-Core and chop apples. If you're in a hurry and don't mind chunky applesauce, don't bother peeling them.  I never do.

-Put into a pot (like a large stock pot, depending on how many apples you have) with cinnamon and cook.  Bring to a boil and simmer.  Stirring occasionally until everything is mashable.

-Mash (or put through a food mill if you're fancy and thorough), mix and stir.

-Pour into jars.  Heat in a water bath.  Set aside for cooling and sealing.