Wonderful Wednesday: The things my kids say

So I mentioned recently how HOT it is getting here in North Texas. Pooh and Tigger are really feeling the heat! Today, Pooh refused to get in the car when I picked them up from daycare because his carseat was so hot. I told him it would cool down quickly with the air on, and he finally agreed to get in.


[Don't worry, that picture was not taken today. I am not so cruel
as to dress him in a nice warm long-sleeved shirt in this weather!]

Halfway home, Tigger let it be known that he was listening:

Mommy, you were right! It’s colding up in here!

My challenge of the week: Getting life a little more organized

It’s been a busy weekend around here! We headed out to my parents’ house to celebrate Memorial Day, with my Dad (my favorite veteran!). There were lots of people there – me, my 3 sisters, all the husbands, most of the kids, and even a few grandkids, cousins, and lifelong friends in the mix. All in all, about 25-30 of us (I never counted, but the plan was for about 24 and then a few extras came by). Anyway, needless to say, little work was done other than simply enjoying the holiday! Tomorrow, I’m headed out to help take mom and dad to a couple dr appts over the next 2 days, which means I won’t be home or able to head to campus. But I cannot afford to keep missing work. So I’m looking into organizational tools, so that I can get work and things organized and in control so that I can get back to the garage. Here are the top 5 things I’m trying to do this week:

1. Plan my time better – I love working with students, but I have to jealously guard my time or I can easily spend too much time working on other people’s stuff and not on my own. I’ve found that setting specific office hours, or lining appointments up one after another, all on the same day, really helps me control the amount of time I am spending in support of others rather than in pursuit of my own goals. Having a workable calendar to schedule this stuff is crucial, so I’m following this example to create a planner that meets MY needs.

2. Plan my blogging better – I’m looking at a few tools for this, and I’ve decided to use some pages available through Mama Jenn. I’m excited about getting these printed and bound into my new planner (see point #1) and getting my blogging back on track!

3. Plan my eating better – my recent freezer cooking session will help with this, as will the leftovers from yesterday’s cookout. Best of all, I’ve got both fresh and frozen fruit ready to enjoy for a healthy snack (as long as I can resist the ice cream to go along with it!)

4. Plan my writing better – I’ve got several manuscripts for work in various stages of non-completion, and I’m working on setting some goals for that too. One way I try to do this is through using the site 750 words. The goal on this site is to write 750 words a day, about anything. Or nothing. Or lots of things. It’s about getting words on paper. I struggle with this, but I find that having a set goal for a number of words really helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something! And many times, when I reach that goal, I’m on a roll, and I keep on going.

5. Plan my breaks – I am highly motivated by being able to check things off of a list, and I find that once I’ve made a list, it’s really helpful to not allow myself to take a break until I can mark off at least 2-3 items. At that point, I’ve likely worked for several hours, and I need a break, plus my reward of email checking, tweeting, or web surfing is much more meaningful since I had to work for it!

Mi Papá

For this post I’m participating in Spanish Friday over at Latinaish. English translation is at the bottom (but try it in Spanish first and see how it goes!)

Hoy, estoy pensando en mi papá. Hace pocos meses, los doctores le avisaron a él que él tiene cancer. No sabemos cuanto tiempo él estará con nosotros todavia, pero estamos tratando de asegurar que los nińos tienen buenos recuerdos con el abuelo. Nos juntamos cada cuando, solo para estar juntos, pero tambien para dias de fiesta y ocasiones especiales. Esta foto es un dia así, cuando toda la familia se juntó en la casa pequena de mis papas y pasamos el dia juntos. Aque pueden ver mi papa, mi mama, y todos sus nietos y niños de nietos (como se dice “great grandchildren” en español?):

Y aqui, pocos momentos despues, cuando tuvieron que “be silly”:

Today I’m thinking about my dad. A couple months ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. We don’t know how long he’ll still be with us, so we are trying to make the most of the time we have. In particular, we are trying to make sure that the kids grow up with good memories of their Papaw. We get together when we can, just to be together, as well as for holidays and special occasions. This picture is of the last time we all went out to my parents tiny house and spent the day together. You can see my dad, my mom, and all the grandkids and great-grandkids.

The second picture is a few seconds later, when we told them all to be silly.

My first specialty cake!

This month, Pooh turned 3, and we decided to celebrate his birthday with the family when we went to my parents’ house for the holiday weekend. I thought about buying a cake, but I’ve recently been inspired to try some cake baking of my own, so I googled around and found a couple cakes that I thought Pooh would like. Ultimately, I went with a train theme, complete with a little Thomas on top.

This being my first cake, I didn’t want to be overly ambitious in my baking, so I went with boxed cake mix and canned frosting. Here are my expenses:
2 Aldi cake mixes: $0.99 each
1 Aldi cream cheese frosting: $1.29
6 eggs: a free gift from my mom’s chickens
oil, food coloring, etc: shamelessly stolen from my mom’s cabinet
various and sundry small snack items: gathered from my kitchen
Total cost, not including labor: $3.27

I’ll let you decide how much my labor is worth!

First, I baked all the cake. One white cake mix made 2 round cakes, one 8″ and one 9″. One chocolate cake mix made 2 small (6X9, maybe?) oblong cakes. Once they were all baked and cooled, I gave the round ones a crumb coat and stuck them in the fridge overnight.

One oblong one I cut into 12 smaller rectangles, and gave each of those a crumb coat too. This was much more difficult since they’d been cut! It would have been much smarter to bake them all separately, or use a heavier cake mix, or even let them sit out and dry for a while before attempting any icing, even a light coat. I’ll know better next time.

The second oblong cake was extra. Since we were also celebrating my dad’s birthday, and he loves German chocolate cake, I just iced it with coconut pecan icing, which was as close as I could get (okay, as close as I could find at Walmart) to German chocolate.

The next morning, I gathered bowls, the food coloring, and my “freight”, and got to work. My sister and her daughter had arrived by then, and they helped. Here’s my niece, ready to get to work – isn’t she a cutie?!

First we iced the round cakes in white, and placed them, touching, on a cake board (we used a piece of wood covered with cake paper). My sis (who has made lots of great cakes) suggested we cut out a small portion of one cake so that the two would fit together better = great idea! Then I took a toothpick and drew two half-circles on each cake, about 1.5 inches apart, to create a giant 3, then I traced the 3 with icing. I could have just started with the icing, but I’m not that brave. With the 3 made, I used pretzels to create railroad ties on it.

We decided the juncture of the 3 needed a stop sign, and luckily we had a red Jolly Rancher handy.

That was the easy part! Next came the freight cars…

Each of the small rectangular cake pieces we iced in a different color, adding 3 cheerios along the bottom of each side to form wheels. On the top, we used pretzels to create a box, and then filled the box with some kind of freight.

Ultimately, our freight included fruit snacks, smarties, a swiss cake roll, mini chocolate rice cakes, cheeries, chocolate waves, sand (crushed up cookies), and a mixture of them. The freight cars were placed around the larger cake, with pretzels connected each one to the next.

It was impossible to hide the cake from Pooh when it was done, and once he saw it, he kept climbing up on the kitchen stools asking for some. When I told him we could not have cake until after we sang happy birthday, he happily sang the entire song for me.

I’m pretty sure this cake was a huge hit – at least Pooh seemed to love it!

Mijo

This is a Spanish Friday about what’s On My Mind. Scroll to the bottom for the English translation.

El domingo, mi hijo (aqui se llamamos Pooh) cumplirá 3 años. Guau! Nos conocimos hace 2 años casi exactamente. Era (fue? nunca recuerdo) el fin de semana de Labor Day del año 2009. Yo acabo de cumplir mis estudios y mudarme a Texas para comenzar un trabajo nuevo. Fui a la casa de mis papas para la celebración, y vino tambien mi sobrina con su familia, incluyendo su “foster child” nuevo. Él era un gordito precioso!

Fue amor de primera vista!

Pooh vivía en la casa de mi sobrina por 9 meses, mientras mi esposo y yo cumpliamos todos los requisitos para ser “foster parents”. Nos visitaba varias veces, y nos conocimos bien durante este epoca. Después de la navidad, mi sobrina y su esposo fueron a India, y Pooh se quedó con nosotros por una semana en total. Que alegre poder cuidar a ese niño precioso! El dia que recibimos nuestra licensia, Pooh se mudó a nuestra casa. Fue el 28 de junio de 2010. Después de casi un año, el 13 de mayo de 2011, finalizamos el proceso de adopción, y ahora el niño es hijo mio por siempre. Es increíble que nuestras vidas han sido tan bendecidas por ese hijo!

Y mira, como ha crecido y cambiado en 2 años:

Estoy participando en los viernes de español con Latinaish – ven a ver todo!

English translation:
Sunday, my son (who we call Pooh on here), will be 3 years old. Wow! We met almost exactly two years ago. It was Labor Day weekend of 2009. I had just finished school and moved to Texas for my new job. I went to my parents’ house for the holiday, and so did my niece and her family, including her new foster child. He was a precious little doughball! [see first pic]

It was love at first sight!

Pooh lived with my niece’s family for about 9 months, while P-daddy and I finished all the requirements to become foster parents. He visited us several times, and we all got to know each other during that time. After Christmas, my niece and her husband went to India, and Pooh came to stay with us for an entire week. What fun to take care of such a precious little boy! The day that we received our foster parenting license, Pooh moved to our house. It was June 28, 2010. Almost a year later, on May 13, 2011, we finalized the adoption process, and Pooh became ours forever. It’s incredible how blessed our lives are with this little boy in them!

And check out how he’s changed and grown in 2 years! [see second pic].

With the 3rd birthday coming up, Pooh is definitely on my mind! To see what’s on everybody else’s mind, join Rhonda over at Down to Earth!

Generations

Lately, what’s on my mind a lot is Pooh. On September 4, he’ll be 3 years old. Though we’ve only had him for not quite 15 months, that is longer than he’s lived with anyone else, and it’s pretty clear that P-daddy and I are, in his mind, his true parents. While the idea of adoption never phased us, we were not really sure how the rest of our families would react. But everyone has opened their arms and hearts to him, and he has found a true home and family, not just with us, but with all the rest of our clan as well. Pooh and his Papaw have been forming a special bond (I think it was the tractor that started this, but that’s another story).

This pic just makes my heart go warm and fuzzy. Pooh is a great mimic, and I love that he is, in essence, following in my dad’s footsteps. Since my dad is one of my most favorite men on the planet, and I think he’s incredible, I think it’s the perfect place for Pooh to be.

This pic was taken not too long ago, when we headed out for a weekend at my parents’ place. Dad walks the perimeter of his property every morning, and since there are snakes and spiders and other wild things, he takes a walking stick, and often wears boots. Pooh, not to be outdone, has to do exactly the same (we took his Elmo boots with us just for this purpose). We try to get out to visit as much as possible now, since when we leave the country, visits will not be nearly as frequent. But we know that the memories of times like these will be cherished by all of us, no matter where in the world we are.

For more pics and heartfelt thoughts, head on over to Down to Earth and check things out over there!