Friday, October 3, 2014

DIY {Card Catalog Upcycle}

At the end of August, I was out walking in our neighborhood with LadyBug and came across this gem sitting at the end of a drive-way, waiting for the trash service to come by. I hustled back to the house and asked The Boss to heft it home. I had a PLAN!

That afternoon, I posted a picture on my F@ceb00k wall and started a guessing game with my friends to see who might be able to "see" what it could become like I was seeing it in my head.  I guess I drove a couple friends crazy - I even got some private messages IMPLORING me to spill the beans to them! What fun my friends are!!!

The Boss had some sanding and glue-ing to do, as the laminate on the top and back were a little water-damaged. But in short order, he finished that step and turned it over to Baby BlueEyes to remove all the hardware and clean out the drawers. Like how he saved the tedious part for the kid?! Ha!!!

We had some dark primer in the basement. There was some skepticism about whether it was still good because we are pretty sure it was from painting our kitchen beadboard, back in 2010. It went on smoothly enough so I think we're good. All those little drawers standing up with their new primer remind me of little soldiers for some reason.

After The Boss did a TON of reading about creating a faux vintage look, he started by painting a base coat of the milk-chocolatey brown that we used in our dining room back in 2009.  Are you sensing the theme here? Yup. Upcycling on the cheap, using what we have on hand as much as possible. That's the goal!

The next coat was a thinned-out glaze of black with plenty of brush-strokes left to create a washed, worn kind of finish. This part is always hard for The Boss. He's such a perfectionist and the uneven, randomness of this look really stresses him out. NOT enough to hand the paintbrush over to me, but enough to make him doubt himself and second-guess my vision (that he already, admittedly, struggles to see the way I see it)

I am, oddly, NOT a perfectionist in these kinds of projects. I have a general ballpark in which I want the look to fall but if it's close, it's okay with me. I like the lack of symmetry and the quirks of hand-finished work. It is definitely NOT how I operate in most other areas of my life. Which might add to his stress, now that I think about it. 

Once a couple coats of a polyurethane were applied to seal and protect it from the wear and tear of all our big and little Gang members, it was ready for some after-market add-ons. The Boss spent almost an hour at L0we's the other day, texting pics of various leg styles and lengths to me. We settled on these and he spent his day off (from his part-time job at T@rg3t) finishing the legs to match the cabinet. Pretty impressive work, if you ask me!

He brought it in to the house and added the legs while Mei Mei looked on. Her first response when she saw it standing up was, "Oooooh, WOW!" My thoughts exactly, sweet girl! Look at how perfectly those legs blend in color, shape and size! And being the detail-nerd that I am, I'm also excited about how closely the knobs of the table match the turn-work on the legs. I know, NO ONE would notice that. But I do. And I love it!

What's even more perfect than the spot-on match is that the legs and the hardware to attach them are THE ONLY expenses we incurred to finish this project. I love me some cheap upcycling!!!!

The Boss and Mei Mei sat down and put all the brass hardware back into each drawer. And re-tacked each card-plate in the original holes. Well, to be more accurate, Mei Mei cheered daddy on and sang songs from Frozen while Daddy worked the hardware. Heh. 

The excitement was growing - I started cleaning the spot I planned to put it. Oh, man. There was a lot of dust back there... I think someone needs a re-definition of the chore card labelled "Dust Downstairs." Harumph...

Finally, it is DONE and in its new home. I could NOT possibly love it more. Really. It's so much better than I pictured it. It's absolutely my new favorite piece in the whole house.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Family Day {6}

Six years ago today, in a dusty hot Civil Affairs office in Xi'an,
a beautiful squalling baby girl was handed to me.

Six years ago, my arms finally got to embrace
what my heart had been holding for months.
YEARS, if you really know my story.

Six years ago, this lovely, spunky, sensitive, little firecracker
changed me forever as only the gift of life can change.

I'm so grateful for the gift she is to our home. To our family, immediate and extended. I love the way her little mind works, always thinking, always processing. She's intuitive and inquisitive. She's loving and expansive. She's a treasure and it's such an honor to parent her.

It's a beautiful day for our family to look back and remember. It's even more exciting to hug her tight and revel in the forever that stretches ahead of us. We are blessed. Beyond measure, we are blessed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Uh Uh"

As Mei Mei gets increasingly more verbal, you know, with actual discernible words and phrases, we are regularly amused by the things that come out of her mouth. One of my favorite things lately has been her non-word communication. By that, I mean her little "Hmmmm?" when she hasn't heard us clearly the first time. Or the "Uh HUH!" when she whole-heartedly agrees with a suggestion. Or the humming she does to her babies when she's talking to them and putting them down for their naps.

Well, yesterday, she pulled a new one out of her bag o' tricks.

She spent most of the morning happily playing between The Boss's phone, the iPad, her baby dolls, and the table coloring or "typing" like Mommy. Around 11:30, I noticed that she looked pretty tired so I put lunch on a fast track. I treated her to "chippies" on her plate (potato chips) but reminded her that she had to sit in one of her two booster seats for her meal while I worked on the school calendar. Neither of those options suited her AT! ALL! so she put herself in the corner and boo hoo'd for about 5 minutes. I repeated her choices to her and proceeded on with my work, just quietly and gently reminding her after about 10 more minutes that she had chippies on her plate and she was free to eat them when she made a choice about the two seats. The pull of the salty, crunchy, yumminess finally won; she climbed into her booster seat with a big, aggravated sigh to let me know she was totally put out with me.

I watched over her plate, reminding her to eat the hot dog and the chippies equally. When the chippies were finished FAR sooner than the hot dog, or the carrots for that matter, I told her that there would be no more chippies until some bites of the dog or carrots were finished. She quickly shook her head and said, "Uh Uh" in strong disagreement with my instructions. I calmly repeated my directive and walked over to the sink. She kept repeating "Uh Uh" through her copious tears and shaking her head in between trying to lick the salt off her fingers and her plate.

When it finally appeared that she just could not shake her despair, that exhaustion had taken over all sense of logic, I calmly cleaned her up and changed her diaper. All the while, she was frantically shaking her head and telling me "Uh Uh" over and over. I was trying hard not to laugh at how CLEARLY and ridiculously her tired little self was behaving. That would only serve to escalate her needlessly.

I carried her up the stairs and rocked her quietly in the chair, praying for her and NOT singing. See, when I started to sing (as per our normal pre-nap snuggle routine), she started with the "Uh Uh" again. I was fine with that, so I rocked silently.

But every few seconds, with lids drooping heavier by the second, she'd get out a sleepy little "Uh Uh." Each one more slowly drawn out than the last. Until there was barely a whisper of one last "Uh." 

That is, until I laid her down in her bed. Upon which she burst out one final "Uh Uh" more vehement than them all.

I am so proud of myself. I held the laughter in till I made it to the hallway and shut her door.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Day of School!!

There's been a LOT of firsts for this Gang this summer. And today marks what we hope is the last of the firsts for a little while. It will be nice to settle in to a familiar routine for all of us, but particularly for Li'l Empress and Mei Mei who seem to be having the hardest time (not surprisingly) with all the new stuff going on in our lives.

Last night, Shaggy and Miss A showed up to wish the Gang well on their respective first days. And to meet the newest member of our Gang. Yes, we have a new Gang member. We are welcoming a Chinese exchange student into our home. She came by last night with her parents to meet us and drop off some of her belongings. She moves in today with the rest of her stuff. She's a junior at the local Christian high school and we are all excited about what this relationship will hold for our families. Please pray with us for her transition. It's her first time in an American school, living with an American family, and a big one at that. We want this to be a great positive experience for us all! I'll share more about her as we get her settled, after I ask her permission to do so.

Without further ado, here's all the Gang that headed out the door. ALL three of them by 8 a.m. I might add. Sheesh, that feels really stinkin' early, for all of us!

Today is LadyBug's first day of HIGH SCHOOL!
Yes, my baby girl is a 10th grader.
She was very nervous about the HUGE building
she has to navigate but super excited to see all her
BFF's again. I'm so glad she has so many friends
who will muddle through it with her.

Baby BlueEyes starts middle school today.
I am positive he's going to shock his friends
with how much he's grown over the last three months.
He wasn't nervous at all that I could tell.
I love his confidence!

He was, however, very sad about saying good-bye to these two munchkins.
He kept telling them how much he'd miss them today.
I got a little choked up. He's such a great big brother!

Li'l Empress has been worrying and nervous for three days
about going to school without her big brother.
She did great all morning long, even saying good-bye to him
without tears. Until the bus pulled up.
There's no picture of her waving as she climbed up
because I was peeling her off of me and strongly
encouraging her that she would be safe
with the new driver on the new bus without her brother there.

By the time I met her over at the school for their Welcome Back
festival, she was working on her smile and feeling more settled.
This part of the "first day" is familiar to her now so she was able
to enjoy the hugs from friends that she hadn't seen all summer long.

Her teacher is new to us as a family but has been at their school
for a very long time. And every report I've heard has been a positive one.
We are excited to have her on our "team" for Li'l Empress's journey this year!

And thank you, Jesus, for this precious friend.
This is her little BFF from church and though they aren't
in the same class this year, she's absolutely still a gift from God
for our Li'l Empress. SUCH an encourager - seriously, it chokes me up
how sweet and compassionate she is.
When they were heading into the building in their separate lines,
"Little Miss I" gave Li'l Empress a "thumbs up" and
shouted, "Good luck today!"
How cute is that?

So now The Boss and I are hanging out with Mei Mei and trying to decide what to tackle first. No surprise, after our long holiday weekend with friends, I've got lots of daily tasks on which I should catch up. And tons of pool towels to wash and fold. Hopefully that will keep my mind busy so I don't think about how ridiculously short this summer felt. And how crazy quiet it is in this house right now.

Share your first day links in the comments. With my slower paced day (cuz gosh, when's the last time I only had one kid to take care of?!) I'll come by and say hi!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Muffins For Dinner?! YAY!"

I have so much to share about the goings' on of the last three weeks - but until I gather the pictures and the words to share the new stuff, here's a great idea for a yummy Summer dinner I made for The Gang.

Fair warning, I tweaked this from another recipe so it's not entirely original to me. I had four big zucchinis in the fridge that were graciously shared with me and one of them needed to be used immediately. So I washed it down, cut off the mushy ends, and slice it length-wise into four "spears." Then I de-seeded it and ran each spear through the food processor using the grating blade. A 14" long zucchini yielded about 3 1/2 cups of shredded zucchini.

Ham and Cheese Crust-less Zucchini Quiche

1 large, chopped onion
1/4 c. butter
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4-1/2 c. baking mix (Bisquick)
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
6 eggs
1/2 c. milk
3 c. shredded zucchini
1-2 c. chopped ham, to preference
3/4 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 c. parmesan, shredded (optional)

In large skillet, saute the onion and garlic in butter till soft and slightly golden. Add shredded zuke and continue to saute on lowered heat till the zuke has softened and is starting to release its juices. Set aside to cool slightly.

In large bowl, combine parsley, baking mix, parsley, basil, and thyme. Beat together the eggs and the milk and pour over dry ingredients. Lightly mix till just moistened. Add the zuke, ham, and cheese and finish mixing gently till all of it is incorporated. Don't over mix!

Pour into 2 generously sprayed deep dish pie plates, or 2 9x13's, or a deep 11x14. Bake at 400 for about 18-22 minutes until they are golden brown and have raised gently. They will be moist and dense inside but a knife inserted in the center should come out clean to be sure they are done.

This time around, I poured it all into 22 sprayed muffin cups. (Yes, I was just shy of the full 2 dozen but I liked that they were nice and high and full when they were done. It's a trade-off, I guess!) I used my Pampered Chef muffin stones and they turned out moist and lightly golden all around. Li'l Empress thought I was kidding when I told her we were having muffins for dinner and Mei Mei shocked me into tomorrow by downing 1 1/2 of them. She - of the great veggie boycott! We let them dip the bites into their choice of mustard and served it all with a side of salad and broccoli.

It's another healthy way to get some good veggies into your kids and they really are delicious.  I've got two really big ones zucchinis left and I'm getting a hankering for my other Summer Favorite. Anyone else have a good zucchini recipe - other than zucchini bread! - that they want to share? Share some of your favorites in the comments!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Field Trip to the Frontier

Last week, we took a few days to drive to the Shenandoah River Valley to see The Boss's parents. The Boss and Baby BlueEyes were planning to help Grandpa clear some brush and cut some trees into firewood. The girls and I had big plans to read, watch movies and do our nails.

However, knowing that those three sedentary activities would NEVER occupy Mei Mei long enough to actually be relaxing for anyone, I reached out to one of my adoption groups to see if any of my on-line friends would be interested in a meet-up. It took a little back and forth but finally, my friend and I settled on the Frontier Culture Museum of VA.  I'm not being paid to say this, but GUYS! If you are ever in the vicinity of Staunton VA (just south of Harrisonburg), get yourselves there for a day. It will take a full day and you should wear good walking shoes and bring a good amount of water. But it is SO worth the admission fee and the effort. What a BEAUTIFULLY maintained and managed piece of living history this place was.

The museum traces the history of the three or four main people groups that left their Old World to make a life in the Americas. Beginning in the 1600's with the enslavement of West Africans and moving through the English, the Irish, and the Germans, each exhibit is a real, working depiction of that slice of history. MANY of the structures across of the huge "campus" (for lack of a better word) are original to the region that they depict, having been disassembled and shipped to the site. There were interpretive historians on site to weave stories and give us a glimpse of daily life at each major exhibit (except the West African site. That kid was a little bit of a dud. :) ). There were animals roaming in the pastures and ducks and geese in the paths squawking for our attention (which BBE happily gave. In spades! Oh my word.) We were all completely captivated.

Here's just a few pictures of our great day. Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of the West African exhibit. It was super dark in the huts. Plus the younger kids were a little unsure of themselves in the new setting with new people. Plus plus, my new friend and I were talking our faces off getting to know each other while the kids explored. Most of the photo credits go to LadyBug.

The 1600's English farmhouse was the second exhibit on the walking path.
The dining room, work room and family room all in this one space.

This beautiful side board is an original piece.
From the 1600's!
Yes, I was drooling. It was full of lovely earthenware dishes
and cookware. More drool.

The kitchen was quite small and off the main living space, behind the stairs.
It was quite drab compared to the adjoining rooms.

The front of the 1700's Northern Irish farmhouse.
It's an original home structure, from Ulster.
The side building attached there on the right is the Weaving Room.
Each family had to produce a regular quota of cloth to pay their rent to the English landlords. 

This sheep was fantastically large.
And sat in the shade of the pasture like a dog.

Here's my gang with our super-fun travel mates!

The 1700's German farmhouse had many pieces of lovely furniture
with hand painted finishes. Quite familiar to this PA history buff :)
 This trunk was huge and very intricately painted with
a faux wood grain finish, very typical of that era.

This is the 1820's farm that is mostly still the original structure.
It's typical of the farms in the post-Revolutionary era in this
part of Virginia and surrounding colonies.

Just a few of the HUUUUGE sunflowers
in the garden of the first farm house.
The gardens of this log cabin were fantastic!

This is a farm typical of Virginia in the 1850's .
It was a massive home, with several outbuildings
and barns to support the family. 

The two little peanuts that are responsible for
this field trip so the Mommas could take the friendship
from on-line support to real-life relationship.
I love what the adoption community has added to our lives!

A great day was had by all and we came away with a lot of great memories and some wonderful insight into the rich history of Virginia spanning several hundred years. Really, if you are in the vicinity, you MUST go! And take lots of pictures. I'll bet it is simply breathtaking in the fall with all the colors changing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Recipe for Comfort

Last week turkey kielbasa was on a GREAT sale at my local grocery store. So I threw some cabbage in my cart and let my mouth water over the plans to make one of my all-time favorite comfort foods: Polish Haluski (pronounced ha-loosh-kee). When I was growing up in North-East PA, this dish was on every single buffet line of all our church dinners and special events. There's a large Polish community in that part of Pennsylvania and lots of yummy recipes have made their way into this Irish-Italian cook's kitchen!

Traditional Haluski doesn't have kielbasa in it (or really any meat for that matter) but I love me a one-dish meal so I take liberties. It's been unseasonably cool here in our neck of the woods, and this dish was just perfect for Saturday's family dinner.

Here's the link to the recipe I used as a reference (Haluski - Cabbage and Noodles), but really, it's a "cook by touch" meal for me. The recipe was just a refresher as it had been so long since I'd made a huge batch like I did on Saturday.

First, boil and drain a 16 oz. bag of extra-wide egg noodles. Toss them with a light sprinkling of olive oil to keep them from sticking. Pour the noodles into a deep casserole dish that has been generously sprayed to prevent sticking.

Thinly slice all the kielbasa (or even smoked sausage) that you are using for your meal and brown it up gently in a lightly sprayed, deep skillet. If you are using light kielbasa or turkey kielbasa, it's wise to add a bit of olive oil to the pan to prevent sticking or scorching. It also helps to generate some drippings and thus some depth of flavor. You can also use a touch of chicken broth if you prefer. When the meat is nicely browned and the bottom of the pan is darkened up, pour the slices and the drippings over the noodles and let them sit together for a while longer.

Then, add equal amounts of olive oil and butter back into to your deep skillet. Saute an onion that has been roughly chopped until the pieces are soft and translucent. Add several cloves of freshly pressed garlic. I tend to have a heavy hand with the garlic for this meal, but you do what tastes right for you. Generously salt and pepper the mixture as the garlic softens. While you are cooking the onions, be sure to get up all the dark bits of flavor that are clinging to the bottom of the pan from cooking the meat.

Add a head of cabbage that has been roughly chopped. My sister-in-law recently used bags of pre-shredded coleslaw mix and I think that is just BRILLIANT! A time-saver for sure if you don't mind the slight addition of expense.

Once all the cabbage is softened and beginning to turn a lovely golden color, it's time to put it all together. Pour the cabbage and onion mixture over the noodles and kielbasa. Be sure to get all the good flavor that is sticking to the pan, even if you have to go back to the stove and add a touch of new butter or olive oil to the empty pan to deglaze it a bit. That flavor and the added moisture is crucial to a great haluski!

Mix the whole kit and kaboodle together very well. If you are prepping it right at dinner time, then you can go ahead and serve it as soon as you mix it all up if you wish. Or, sprinkle it generously with black pepper and cover the whole casserole tightly. I sprayed the inside of my foil to prevent sticking. Bake the casserole for 30 minutes at 325, so that the flavors can all blend and absorb into the noodles.

I particularly like to make this meal early and utilize the "delay start" feature on my oven. The flavors and ingredients get to hang out all day together since nothing in it will spoil if left in the waiting oven. I set it and then forget it till dinner time!

I typically serve this meal with a big green salad and some hearty bread. Though, certainly the bread is not necessary with all those noodles.

One of the reasons I love this dish so much is that it is really easy to prepare and is made from very simple ingredients but it packs a major delish-factor-punch for everyone. Another reason, if I chop the cabbage small enough and take extra time to pull out the "ribs" of the outer leaves of the cabbage that tend to taste too strong for my littles, is that they are also getting some awesome nutrients that they don't normally choose on their own to take in. See, they all THINK they don't like cabbage. But this meal goes a long way toward proving their little theory wrong. {grin}

An added bonus to this particular Saturday night dinner is that my son's sweet girlfriend looooves ethnic dishes like this one. She's Latvian and grew up eating haluski and she really enjoyed sharing this dish with our family.

So tell me, what ethnic dishes or comfort food dishes are you looking forward to the most, as the summer winds down and your style of cooking changes with the weather? Leave me a comment or even a link and I'll come by to say hi!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Different is Good, Right?

I mentioned last week that this summer both LadyBug and The Boss have some extra time on their hands. Unfortunately, The Boss's recent "extra time" is the sort that none of us ever really want to embrace. Due to a departmental re-organization, he has been on "summer vacation" with the kids and I since early June. It's been quite a strange summer. Most weeks feel like an endless string of Saturdays around here, as The Boss's presence at home during a week day tend to "take us all down a notch or two" as far as routine is concerned. There are definite plus's to that environment for The Gang, especially on the heels of the very difficult and high tension winter we all just survived. I'm trying to stay focused on the plus's but I have to admit, it's not easy most days.

Ironically, the Thursday before he was released from his position, we were sitting on the couch, catching our breath at the end of a fairly "routine" day. I said something to the effect of, "Gosh, I feel like we are really settling into a good new groove. Like our new normal is here and is do-able. It's kinda nice, isn't it?"

I'm not superstitious or anything even close but golly, you can bet I'm never uttering words like THAT again around here. Sheesh.

Anyway, as I was saying, there are some "upsides" to having Daddy home for the summer. We got the gift of extraordinary quality time together as a family before we sent our boy off to Basic Training. There's never going to be another opportunity to have all 8 of us home quite like this again, now that both boys are launching off into the next stage of their grown-up lives.

~ Father's Day, June 2014 ~

~ Time to leave for Basic Training ~

Letting go of Dr. D was is really hard on both The Boss and I. But knowing that he was moving on to do something he has always dreamed of doing and seeing the excitement and joy in his eyes as he prepared to go really has made it easier. He was born to do this life he is pursuing and while we miss him terribly (like, "I hate seeing his empty bed, parked truck, and my empty couch" kind-of-terrible!), we are incredibly proud of the man he has become and the path he has chosen. More substantive letters would be nice, but hey, I know better than to expect a novel! :)

Oh, how I miss this afternoon sprawl!

The Boss was also able to finish the renovation of our deck in record time, since it didn't have to be squeezed in on weeknights and weekends only. We are so grateful that we had planned this project in advance - both because of the good timing for him to do it and the finances required to complete it. I'm tellin' ya, if you don't follow the Dave Ramsey plan for budgeting and managing your money, our gang is a PERFECT testimony of why you should! We don't do it perfectly but losing his income didn't not derail this project financially. And that's particularly awesome considering that we had demo'd the deck in early May when we had some help available to do so. Living without a deck and all that mess out there all summer would have been SUCH a huge and ugly problem for this pool lovin' gang.

Isn't it so inviting?
Come on by, the iced tea is cold and the pool is warm!

And of course, the "Honey Do" list has gotten a lot of attention since the deck was completed. Little niggling tasks that we have been meaning to "get around to," things that we have needed to repair, re-decorate, or refresh, and so on. Those smaller projects are all getting checked off the list as the days go on. He is a putter-er by nature so while he does miss the routine and structure of a work day (eh, who am I kidding, he doesn't miss it yet), he is really enjoying the time to do all this physical labor and spruce up the house and the yard.

Finally, I'm getting to tackle some projects that I've had on my mental To Do list for a long while now. I mean, Daddy is BETTER than a babysitter and he's free for afternoon swim parties. So I've tucked myself away a couple times to sort through mountains of school papers and projects from the last two school years. I purged my closet and dresser. I went through my jewelry box for the first time in probably 3 years. I even got to go through 4 bags of hand-me-downs within three days of receiving them - a record in this zoo lately! I've been sorting, streamlining, cleaning out, and yes, I'm back to writing. A slow and easy start, but I'm back.

The extra bonus of the swim time with Daddy is that Mei Mei is really acclimating to the pool quite well and coming along in leaps and bounds in her ability to trust Daddy and the big sibs in the water. AND she has slept through the night pretty much every single night for more than 3 weeks now. All that sleep has drastically improved her day-time behavior (and mine). AND her language is just exploding recently. She lightens the mood around here daily with the new things she is learning to say and the mimicry she pulls out at the funniest moments! We can't get over what a difference we are seeing in her, now that her surgeries are over and her body has come to its resting place of her new normal. It's really quite remarkable and I know The Boss has enjoyed being here to see the daily little transformations that are yielding a happier more settled and peaceful little Mei Mei.

Mei Mei turned THREE at the beginning of the summer.
Actually, the night before Dr. D left.
This is her cheesey smile on her new Kai Lan bike.

So. It's a different summer than we had imagined or planned for ourselves. And a very different kind of productivity than we had envisioned. But we're finding the new groove to it and I'm working on appreciating the time we have as a family as much as I can without worrying too much about the job leads and paychecks and insurance issues. THAT kind of worry messes with my momentum in serious ways. I'm finding it to be an hourly choice to alternatively focus my attention. It's not easy and while I do enjoy that he and I are getting these tasks done with unusual (for us) timing and focus, I do have to work to not camp in the worry-tent. I guess I can be thankful for that - it's keeping me sharp and on my spiritual knees at the very least.

It's different. I'm working to find the good in this kind of different.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Art of Distraction

Li'l Empress very often struggles to express difficult or negative emotions with her words, resorting instead to copious amounts of tears, feelings of anxiety and rejection, and a bit of a "poor me" complex. We've been getting some great help and tools to equip her to grow in this area of her emotional development. And in the process, I have realized that some of my parenting tools are a tad stale. I also have discovered that I don't use "distraction" as a tool often enough. 

Earlier this week, she had come to The Boss and I with a very minor offense and was on the cusp of turning it into a full-blown melt down in which she was being wronged in the very wrongest possible way, from which she would likely never, ever, ever recover. Ever.

Ummm. Yeah. Okay. Really?

In a flash of brilliance that I can ONLY attribute to the grace of the LORD ALMIGHTY (Cuz I was feeling far less than brilliant. Ya feel me?) I asked The Boss to stop his job hunting for a moment and do an image search for the infamous Grumpy Cat. Just that quick change of focus and the resulting images was enough to completely overcome any offense she was nursing.

So I had her pick her favorite, grumpiest face. I explained that she spends too much of her day looking like that over the littlest stuff. That THAT face should be reserved for really big stuff. We went on to have a fairly hilarious discussion of what things warrant THAT face. And I had The Boss print her favorite picture of the crabby kitty.

Then I cut apart the pizza box from dinner.
(Don't judge. I ran errands and grocery shopped all afternoon.
You want that I should cook TOO?)

I pulled out the markers, the glue, and the scissors.

There was cutting, gluing, and affixing to an old paint stick.
Took me five minutes.

credit: found on the internet
This side says, "A little LESS of THIS, PLEASE."

And this side says, "A little MORE of THIS, PLEASE."

I've used our new sign about four times in the last two days. She might have to work really hard to fight the smile that the feline provokes in her. But at least she's not fighting with her sister. Or fighting more tears. Oh, thankyoujesus.

So what funny or distracting parenting tool have you found to change the mood in your home? Fill me in here in the comments or write your own story of summer drama and creative interventions and share the link. I'll be sure to come by and learn from your flashes of brilliance, too!