It's Lunchtime

As a stay-at-home mom, lunchtime has lost all of its novelty.  Because I try to be a good mom, I make sure to concentrate on providing the boy with a well-balanced meal that he is willing to eat, and after that exhausting task, I sometimes just nibble on what I'm fixing him as I prepare his plate.  Last week, I had one of those, "I'm not eating another pb & j/chicken nugget/ham sandwich/hot dog today!" moments.  So I raided the produce drawer and looked through the pantry and freezer to see what new thing I could conjure up.  What I threw together was so delicious, so nutricious, so not run-of-the-mill, that I made it again today and decided it's too good not to share.

Here's what went into it today (I really just put what I had on hand into it...you may certainly add or subtract ingredients according to your taste):

2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1-2 ribs celery, sliced
2-3 stalks asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/2 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen green beans
1 tsp red curry powder
salt & pepper to taste
pita pocket bread

In a skillet, heat oil and cook chicken, onion, and garlic until chicken is cooked through.  Add all other vegetables, curry powder, and salt & pepper and continue cooking in covered skillet, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender.

Spread hummus inside of pita pocket, then fill with heaping spoonfuls of the veggie/chicken mixture.

Or, if you're a picky preschooler, place onto compartmentalized plate so that nothing touches.

Bless the food...even if you're Optimus Prime.

(He ate every last bite...and so did I!)


Project 64: Tickle Me Pink

Tickle Me Pink.  Are you kidding me?  Whoever named this color should win a prize for being absolutely adorable.  Anyhoo.

I typically complain that pink and purple are the hardest for me to find because of the fact that I'm outnumbered by fellas in my house, and I'm a bit of a tomboy.  I had no trouble this time, though, thanks to our love of books.  I was happy to find a specimen of Tickle Me Pink from both my and the boy's libraries.

One of Wyatt's favorite books is simply titled Ted.  It's about a boy and his imaginary friend of that name and all of the hijinks that ensue when they put their minds together.  The illustrations are beautifully done, and in all honesty, are the initial reason I bought the book.  Thankfully, the story is hilarious, too, which has made it a frequent choice at bedtime.
Here's my punkin' reciting  his favorite lines by heart, word-for-word.

None of my books are so exciting as Ted and all of his antics, but a few have greatly impacted my life nonetheless.  This pretty pink bible study workbook, for example, gave me a new perspective on beauty.  It's called Beauty by the Book by Laurie Cole, and teaches its readers what the bible has to say about beauty.  In case you're wondering, God looks at our hearts first and foremost.  But He also happily claims responsibility for our outward beauty...He created it afterall!

Which to choose as my official entry?  Both the bright-eyed Ted and my study workbook are the exact shade of Tickle Me Pink when compared to the crayon scribbled on paper.  Pink was the natural choice for the bible study book about beauty; the imagination need not stretch too far for that one.  Ted, on the other hand, gets his unique "pinkish-purply" by eating lots of raspberries.  How can I not go with Ted?


Ingenuity Saves the Day

Very soon, the ultimate photo op will present itself in our family:  we're getting the boy his first dog.  I know.....I am totally pumped, too!  Before that blessed day can come, however, we need a fence.  Personally, I've desperately wanted a fence since the day we moved in.  Even at 7 months old, I could tell that I was going to need to imprison, uh, I mean corral this child when out of doors.

Well, as with everything else nowadays, building a fence is expensive, hence the four year wait.  One of those hidden costs to fence-building is having a surveyor come out and mark the corners of your property; it averages between $200-500 to get this done.  A friend in the neighborhood told us that all of the lots are marked with rebar pins at each corner, buried just under the surface.  This got my good-lookin' hubby to thinking:  why couldn't we just find them ourselves?

Idea 1:  Use a metal detector to locate pins. 
Seems simple enough, right?  Well, after locating two different metal detectors from a family member and a friend, only to have neither of them work properly or well enough to sniff out the pins, we gave up on that one.  Plus, the show we put on for the neighbors by walking around scouring the ground with the things was a little awkward.

Idea 2:  Use the abstract of our property to make an estimated guess as to where those pins are, and use a shovel to dig them up.
Who knew that a little measuring tape plus some good guessing would work?  My hubby, that's who.

Here are my two loves, celebrating the discovery of pin number two!

Not exactly a needle in a haystack, but well-hidden, that's for sure!

His desire to be right in the middle of what we're doing paid off for him, as usual, with the acquisition of a big, fat grub.  Think he's excited, or what?

I know this photo's color is all wonky...the sun going through that pail gave my camera fits...but here is the new thing that mean ol' Mommy won't let Wyatt bring into the house.  
He can join the rest of the club in the bug house on our back porch.

There's really nothing more satisfying than knowing that you just saved yourselves hundreds of dollars.  Nothing, maybe, except using the found money to buy a great pair of boots?  A sweet friend has an amazing pair of Frye boots that are stunning, especially when you consider she wears them while wrangling pigs, and I would love to have a similar pair.  Don't believe me about the pigs?  Check out her blog, The Barefoot Indian (don't be confused...she does wear shoes from time to time, and when she does, she doesn't mess around!).

Alas, snap back to reality:  the hubby doesn't look at our jackpot as found money, to him, it's saved money, which I guess is a good thing, too.


Splish Splash!

Every year as summer approaches, I get more and more antsy to go jump head first into a pool.  Summer is my all-time favorite season.  I love tan lines, sunglasses, giant-brimmed hats, flip-flops, the coconutty smell of sunblock, pedicures, citronella candles, charcoal, fireworks...you name it.  I don't even mind the ridiculous humidity....thanks to the new clinical strength deoderant that's available over the counter.  Today was my first taste: our MOPS group met at the Y for some indoor swimming!  And as if fate were smiling on me, the next theme for Theme Thursdays is water!

My sweet water baby
 His first-ever attempt at the slide.  I had my friend Jennifer stand ready to catch him if necessary since I was standing back a bit to take the picture.  He loved sliding into the water, and continued to do so over and over until we had to leave!
 I love this one!  I sped up the shutter just a touch and I love that you can see his feet cutting through the water! 
 And the grand finale: Crazy Dance in the Pool.
  Kendall, this one is really just for you.  I'm thinking of making a compilation photo book of Wyatt doing his crazy dance all over the world.  We could seek out famous landmarks and monuments just for this exact reason.  Or...we could just pretend now that I HAVE PHOTOSHOP!!!!
P.S.  I haven't installed it yet...haven't had time yet.  Still just using Windows Photo Gallery to "edit" right now.  I did play with contrast for the second and last of these photos, and I love how they turned out, but I cannot wait to see what is in store for me with this new software!


School Days

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as preschool or pre-k or whatever it's called...you just went to kindergarten.  And when you did, it was half-day kindergarten.  Somewhere between then and now, it became very important to begin schooling your children from birth.  Mom's Day Out, preschool, pre-k for four year olds, pre-k for five year olds, half-day pre-k, full-day pre-k...I seriously can't keep up, nor do I want to. 

I'm not going to homeschool Wyatt (knock on wood), but I do feel like part of being his mom includes teaching him the things that are on the preschool curriculum.  I guess I could put him in preschool now and enjoy a couple of hours to myself every day, but I'd miss him...er, I mean, I think that he'd learn better one-on-one with me than in a classroom of 20 other kids at this point in his life.  He has no attention span, but he loves to learn.  I know how to capture and keep his attention, how to redirect him, and what he does or doesn't comprehend.  So, I'm keeping him to myself for one more year.  Neener neener boo boo.

Several days a week, we work on his "school work" for as long as he is interested.  It always involves coloring, cutting, gluing, patterns, recognizing and writing his alphabet, some math and numbers, and his favorite: science.  Some days, we'll do one page, then take a few hours off, only to return and do 10 more pages.  Other days, two or three pages is plenty.

Today, we started out with a coloring page.  He refuses to use crayons...he prefers markers because "you don't have to push so hard."  Sometimes I make him use crayons, though, to strengthen his hands and improve his fine motor skills.

Next, he had to cut out pictures which would complete a series of patterns.  He loves to cut and glue!

Sticking your tongue out definitely helps with precision.

Applying the glue...

...and sticking it down.  I love pictures of his sweet little baby hands.

Our letter of the day was "B."  How convenient.  Gotta tell ya, I'm pretty proud of his rendition of a bumblebee.  

And that was enough for today.  He jumped his sillies out on the bed!
This would've been a great picture for Theme Thursday last week!

Then did his crazy dance.  I think I'll use one of today's pictures for Theme Thursday this week...the theme is "Active."  You can learn more about joining Theme Thursday by clicking here.

During the time we were working on all of this, the clouds moved out, the sun moved in, and we decided that it was a good time to go outside and explore nature! 


Kids and Animals

I believe it was W.C. Fields who said, "never work with children or animals," but I have found both to be the easiest subjects in my photography.  Call me crazy, but nothing is more satisfactory than catching a smile from the shyest of toddlers or capturing the uncanny wisdom of a good old dog.  Don't get me wrong, I love to photograph flowers and other still life, but I like the added challenge of a moving target.

Today the boy and I went to a friend's house for a leisurely playdate.  Because no day would be complete if I didn't snap 80-something pictures....and because I was conveniently surrounded by tiny people and animals....I gave my shutter a workout. 

It was SO WINDY, and sweet little Kaelyn held onto Momma so she wouldn't blow away.
 The twins in a very The Shining moment.  Lauren can stare you down.
Precious babies.
 This one is for Kim.  I made our entire playgroup schlep across a pasture just to photograph the hay in this former donkey stable.  It was so sunny, this is really the only shot I got that I was happy with.
 Don't panic...it's dead.  You should know that Wyatt screamed like a ninny and literally climbed me like a tree when he first saw this, but once I showed him it was dead and harmless, he demanded to hold it.  He hasn't put it down since...it's been 4 hours.
 A pretty white horse.... 
...who's been visited by the same braid-fairy as Piper's horse.
 The ever-present Diesel.  He is the epitomy of a good dog.
 Sean, having a blast on the swingset.
 I think this may be my favorite photo of the day.  Lauren, up front, is out of focus a bit, and you can see Kaelyn in the background...both of them smiling so big.  Great kids.
 In sync.  Not to be confused with N'Sync.


Pizza, Pizza!

As you may have figured out by now, Wyatt is an only child.  As such, I have made many parenting mistakes over the years by catering to the kid simply because I have the time, and no one told me not to.  One of the biggest mistakes:  not introducing the boy to "normal people" food.  You should know that my son eats healthier than any other kids his age...partly because I don't allow him much from the junk food arena, but mostly because he honestly prefers fruits and vegetables.  So, since the first time he gummed a chunk of real food, I've been fixing him little trays of a menagerie of chopped fruits and vegetables, with one measly portion of protein (just to say I tried).  Typically, he's gotten protein from nuts, beans, and dairy...I'm pretty sure during one of my use-the-tv-as-a-babysitter days, he caught an infomercial about becoming vegan and totally bought into it because I can't get the kid to eat meat.

What he WILL eat:
black olives, green olives, cherry peppers, smoked oysters, nuts, curried lintels, celery, carrots, cucumbers, pita bread, any cheese, peanut butter on wheat crackers, avocado, mushrooms, zucchini, raw spinach, eggs, ham cubes, fish, shrimp, beef jerky, popcorn, any soup, and so on.

What he WILL NOT eat:
Corn dogs, sandwiches (of any variety, including the ubiquitous pb&j), chicken nuggets (unless I threaten him within an inch of his life), hot dogs (unless it's off the bun and cut into chunks), pizza, macaroni & cheese (unless two bites per serving counts), hamburgers, spaghetti-o's, or any other food that is typically found on a kid's menu or on an adult's plate at dinner time.  For example, he'll eat raw potatoes, but not mashed potatoes. 

None of this is really a problem...he's healthy, and at a normal weight.  Where it gets annoying:  we can't eat out.  Ever.  Restaurants don't have a plate of black olives, cashews, string cheese, cucumbers, and strawberries on the menu.  And if you ask the waiter to specially make you one, you get a look reminiscent of the one Meg Ryan got in When Harry Met Sally. 

So, the hubby and I decided 3 weeks ago to put the kid through the wringer and start making him eat what we eat, no exceptions.  The first few nights, he got his regular stuff with a small helping of our food.  It was enough to throw him into a tailspin.  Lots of hysterics.  But eventually, he tried everything we gave him, and on occasion, even grinned and announced, "HEY, that is yummy!"

With week two began the "how much of this do I have to eat" debate.  Sigh. 

We're beginning week three now, and last night the hubby offered to fix dinner:  he called Mazzio's!  I'm not joking when I say my kid is smart.  As soon as the phone was set down, he started fretting and asked if he was going to be forced to eat pizza.  The answer was yes.  For the first time, he seemed excited to try something new.  Once at the table, he cheerfully selected a piece and started nibbling, crust side first, until it was nearly devoured!  Jason and I couldn't believe our eyes. 

This pizza was hastily thrown together by some acne-prone teenager at the local eatery.  It was burnt, extra greasy, and honestly one of the worst samplings of pizza I've had in ages.  But my son ate it.  Happily.  We promised him that next time he eats pizza, it'll be a hundred times better.  As for me, dinnertime already is!


A Lazy Kind of Day

Considering that yesterday's temperatures climbed into the 80's, today is a bit chilly and it seems like a storm is looming.  The air is so damp that you almost feel like you're swimming through it to get from point A to point B.  Did any of this keep us indoors?...not a chance.  We awoke early and noticed that a good friend, who also happens to live right behind us, had rented a jupiter jump.  Trying to convince Wyatt that it was rude to call and ask if we could join in on the fun proved to be impossible, so minutes later, he was bouncing.  Luckily, Rebekah is super understanding, and she loves Wyatt almost as much as I do.

The lighting was atrocious...it is super cloudy, plus the jumperoo glows orange on the inside from what little sunshine there is, so I was forced to play around with color and texture. 
I actually like the results!

All of this jumping worked out for me...I am linking up to Theme Thursday and this week's theme is Jump!  You can learn more about Theme Thursday, or link up your photo, by clicking here.

After jumping, the big boys played catch.  Wyatt watched from the sidelines, and I ended up holding half of what he begged to bring out of our house...all of which he swore I would not end up holding.

 Mrs. Bekah's pretty potted flowers...they weren't convinced by the puny sunshine to open up today.
Wyatt, showing Mrs. Bekah his new starfish that he scored at the zoo yesterday.  He loves her so much, and I tell her often that she is the only person who could kidnap him and get away with it:  he'd never turn her in, and when given the choice between the two of us, the authorities would take one look at their red heads and assume they belong to one another.

Before too long, the wind started picking up, and the skies started getting gloomier, so I asked if the boy wanted to go play board games with me.  I'm guessing this was a "yes?"

Remember Colorform?  I found this Funny Faces game at TJ Maxx for $3, but the laughs we've had playing the game have been priceless!
 Adding ears to his silly face.
 Okay, one ear.  My favorite thing about Wyatt:  he thinks outside the box.  I love how he upturned the toupee on the dude at left, and gave the second guy a frowny face....
 ...but he always gives himself a smile!
 This is that obligatory newborn photograph that I failed to capture when Wy was tiny.  I never got the shot primarily because I was too cheap to hire a photographer, and at the time, I only had a camcorder that took still photographs.  The quality was decent, but couldn't produce much detail.
It's never too late, right?  These little feet have walked miles beside me, and I cherish every single piggie!


The Zoo: Part Deux

Two days ago, I blogged about the Tulsa Zoo's Nature Exchange Center and a very productive nature walk the boy and I took.  Today, I finish the story.

When this is the first thing you witness in the morning, how can you not have an incredible day?
I had to pull the car over for this one.  

  The heavens tell about the glory of God.
      The skies show that his hands created them.   Psalm 19:1 NIV

Okay, back to the zoo...

I managed a couple of animal photos, although not many.  I am extremely fond of this Sicilian donkey.  I think he likes me, too, as he always comes over to me when I call him and I totally sneak in an ear scratch or two (this is NOT part of the petting zoo, but I can't resist him).  I know I'm about to come off as a Jesus-freak, but that's fine by me:  there is a sweet story behind this particular donkey that makes me love his breed all the more.  It is said that this is the type of donkey that Mary rode into Bethleham to deliver our Savior, and also the same type that Jesus rode into Jerusalem...hence the cross on the donkey's back.

I lovingly refer to this big guy as the Wyatt Cow because he and my son have the exact same color of hair, and they're both perpetually in need of a good haircut.

The female peacock.  She seemed rather grateful to have her photo taken...usually her mate hogs all of the attention.

That's it for animal pictures today, but now, onto the rest of the story...

This is Rob.  He is an incredibly knowledgeable zookeeper that works in the Nature Exchange Center.  I converse with Wyatt about Rob almost every single day of my life.  Wyatt wants to be Rob when he grows up. 
In this photo, the two of them are discussing the thorn we took from a honey locust tree.  We learned that the scissor tail flycatcher will skewer bugs on these thorns and come back later for a snack.

Here, we see Rob explaining that we did not bring in a rabbit skull, but in fact had found a muskrat skull.  Wyatt scored 3,000 points for this baby!

Rob, slinging a new snake-skin over the beam to join the others in his collection.  At left you can see some of the bins of categorized treasures brought in by other zoo patrons.  This isn't even half of it...I only brought my telephoto lens today, so I had to go outside to take this shot.  

And here is Pooky with his new goodies!  All in all, he ended up trading 5 items for a total of 3,210 points today, bringing his overall total to 3,270!  He spent about half on a splurge item...a giant starfish...and of course found a couple more little seashells to add to his collection.

The animals and Nature Exchange were only half of the story today.  We once again accompanied friends (and the entire population of Tulsa, it seemed).  Because children are so fun to photograph, I didn't fight the urge to capture their sweetness.  Here are a couple of my favorites.

Ashlyn, trying to see through her windblown hair.
Lauren, with her typical stoic face.
 In a moment of weakness, a smile cracked, and I caught it!
 Kaelyn, doing a balancing act.  Yes, they're twins, and you may follow their antics here on their mother's blog.

I actually snapped a couple of my own child today, too!  Here he is, doing some odd martial art kick in an attempt to show off his new bandaid.  He tripped at the petting zoo, so now I get to worry about e. coli and staph.  Yippee.  Also notice the lack of shoes.  If you're the type who likes to chastise mothers for not properly dressing their kids, let me assure you that I always put shoes and socks on him, and he always takes them off.  Considering that he has on more than one occasion completely disrobed down to his bare-butt, I try not to stress too much over the bare feet.

You know that obnoxious kid at the playground who's always throwing the mulch and dropping things onto passers-by below?  Yeah, well, if he didn't look EXACTLY LIKE ME, I'd totally pretend he wasn't mine and just walk away.

 Today has been a magnificent day.  I am again reminded of how truly blessed I am, and how charmed my life truly has been.