Monday, March 28, 2011

I want to learn Why The Caged Bird Sings

Last night I didn't go to bed until 2:00 am.  I've been having trouble sleeping over the past few nights.  Last night I was dog tired, but got sucked into an INCREDIBLE program on the OWN network.  Yes, that's Oprah Winfrey's new network...don't judge me.  

At midnight I started watching Oprah's Master Class.  It was Oprah's story and it was very inspirational.  But, I couldn't have imagined what was about to come on next...Oprah's Master Class:  Maya Angelou!  I've always been awestruck by Dr. Angelou.  She is so eloquent, so wise.  Her voice, to me, is like honey. (Did you know she was mute for 6 years as a child? Amazing, huh?!)  I could sit and listen to her all day, soaking up every story, every bit of wisdom, every metaphoric morsel of good, old fashioned advice.

Thing is, I've always felt this way.  I try to catch her whenever I see that she's going to be on TV.  And, I've read a few of her poems, but really very little.  I sat there, thinking, "Why have you not read every bit of every word that this woman has written?!"  

Here is a clip from the show I found on YouTube.  She is describing words as things.  So true, so profoundly true, Dr. Angelou!

Do yourself a favor and DVR this program.  I think my generation could learn a lot if we stopped for just a second...took a break from TV, Facebook, and Twitter...and listened to the wisdom from Dr. Angelou's generation.

In the meantime, I'm heading to the library to check out every copy of literature they have by her!


Friday, March 25, 2011

...It's what's for dinner...

As many of you know, I live in a teensie weensie college town in Western Tennessee.  The only place to grocery shop is Wal-Mart and there is an extreme shortage of good restaurants.  The exception of this is three Mexican restaurants.  That's right, three.  Why we need three Mexican restaurants in a town of around 15,000 people, with only a 1.7% Hispanic population, is lost on me.  Other than the places to get delicious fajitas and quesadillas, there is only one restaurant that Bryan and like to eat at, and it's a little pricey, so I have to cook most of our meals at home.

One thing that I've missed is good Chinese food.  I've always loved Chinese food and it has been a staple in my diet at least once every two weeks since before I can remember.  I've been completely starved of Chinese food for the past year...until I discovered deliciousness in the boxed dinner isle.

The Orange Chicken is my fav!

Granted, it is not exactly the same as what you would get at a good Chinese restaurant or hole-in-the-wall take-out place, but it's pretty stinkin' close.  And, when you can't get Chinese food that is stomachable within an hour's's heaven.

It's really easy to fix too.  All you need is whats in the box, a pound of chicken (you could also use pork or shrimp), water, and vegetable oil.  

In the box (clockwise):  white rice, sauce mix,
seasoned cornstarch, chiles.

I do a few things differently than what the box suggests, though.  First, I don't put in the hot chiles.  Jackson won't eat it if it's spicy and I'd prefer to keep my heartburn at bay.  Second, I add half a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies at the end of cooking.  It adds some more nutritional value and substance to the meal.  This is one of the few meals I can sneak vegetables into, chop them up really fine, and Jackson will actually eat them!

The finished product!  YUM!
Jackson agrees!

Fixing Wanchai Ferry has it's benefits other than just providing me with my Chinese fix.  One, it's much cheaper than Chinese take-out.  Two, it's probably saving me a few inches on my waist-line.  Typically, many Chinese dishes (General Tso's, Scallion Chicken, Orange Chicken, Honey Chicken, Sesame Chicken, etc.) are all double fried.  Wanchai Ferry is only cooked in 2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil and I've found I can even cut back on that a little.

There are a couple downsides to Wanchai Ferry.  First, I wish the white rice was brown rice.  I prefer brown both in taste and nutritional value.  Second, if you need to feed more than two adults and a small child, I'd suggest fixing two boxes OR making something on the side.  Frozen egg rolls/spring rolls would be nice or even a good serving of fresh fruit.

The dogs are making the clean-up really easy too.

Try it and let me know what ya'll think!


Monday, March 21, 2011

...Enjoy your ride on Thunder Road!

Today I got an email from a friend looking for some perspective on a lesson she was teaching.  She asked a fairly simple question...

"In one sentence, how would you describe parenting a toddler?"

Of course, my answer didn't just come in one sentence.  But, I concluded with a phrase I'd seen over and over growing up after dozens upon dozens of visits to Carowinds...

What a great ride!

"Grit your teeth.  Bear the load.  Enjoy your ride on Thunder Road!"

Do you see those little white signs?  They actually have the 'Grit your teeth...'  quote on them.
It's my favorite part of the whole ride!

Thing is, I don't think just parenting a toddler is like riding a roller coaster.  I think parenting in general IS a roller coaster!

The first year of parenthood is like the very beginning of the ride, when the coaster is cranking you all the way up to the top of that first, and largest hill.  When you first get on you're scared and excited.  As you start to climb the hill, you begin to wonder why you got on the ride to begin with.  It feels like it's taking forever to get to the top.  You look back to the people in line and think, "What are you doing?!  Don't get on this roller coaster, you crazy people!!"  But then, right before you reach the top you start to get a little bit comfy, maybe you even put both of your hands up.  You're feeling free, like everything's finally going to be ok.

Then you crest the hill and you see all that lies in front of you...the rest of parenthood.  Extreme highs and lots of lows.  The ride is going to be bumpy, you never know what's going to be around the next turn, and sometimes something will throw you for a loop.

You'll go through a whole range of emotions.  Sometimes you'll be so scared that you're gripping the bar in front of you, grinding your teeth, and praying to God for the ride to be over.  Other times it'll take your breath and you'll be smiling and squealing for joy.  And, you might even throw those hands up again - both in praise to God for the blessing of children and out of frustration because you just want to give up.  

The highs for me are AWESOME - Giggles, laughs, milestones, etc.  And the lows are pretty scary sometimes.  Discipline, punishment, frustration, and worries (especially with Jackson's speech).  

But the cool thing is, just like on a roller coaster, you have to go through the lows to get back to the next high point.  If all you did was stay on the top of the hill, the ride wouldn't be nearly as exciting!

Now if only I had an old picture of me as a kid at Carowinds to end this post with...oh well!

Also, don't forget to register for the giveaway!!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Giveaway Vlog

Ok readers, here's the deal. I am really trying to draw more readership to my blog so in an effort to do so I am doing an AWESOME giveaway! I'm giving away one of my absolute favorite products from Celebrating Home....our new Fragrance Warmer and Gel!

All you have to do to enter is "Like" my Facebook fan page (there's a link to the lower right on this page for my Facebook fan page), sign up to become a follower of my blog, and comment on this post saying you've done those things. Also, to enter your name more than once recommend your friends to do the same thing. Just make sure they tell me you recommended them in their comment on this post or I won't know to enter your name in the drawing again. The more friends you recommend, the more likely you are to win this INCREDIBLE GIVEAWAY!!

I did my very first vlog to show you exactly how AWESOME the fragrance warmer is! It's a little long (sorry I ramble a little) but I'm proud of it.


Now get out there and spread the word, people!


Thursday, March 3, 2011


After some wonderful advice from friends and family, I called the doctor today to have him evaluate Jackson's speech.  I needed to do it just for peace of mind!

The appointment went well.  The doctor asked me a lot of questions about what Jackson is doing and isn't doing.  There were several things on the 17 month developmental checklist that he isn't doing.  Some of them were pointing to things that he wanted, pointing to body parts, saying 8-10 words, and dancing in response to music.  After hearing my concerns and interacting with Jackson a bit, the doctor said he did believe it would be best to refer us to a speech therapist with the Tennessee Early Intervention System.

He was very intent on saying that this did not mean that there was a developmental delay.  The speech therapist will come out to our house in the next 2-3 weeks and be able to diagnose Jackson better.  The doctor said that there is about a 50/50 chance at this point.  Half of the kids he recommends to TEIS have some type of developmental delay and half of them don't.

The good news is that it was clear that Jackson has no delay in his comprehension and understanding of what we are saying.  And, he seems a little advanced in his mobility.  He even went to look outside the window when I asked him to in front of the doctor.  He also babbled a lot in front of him which is another great sign.  That proved that he knows what he should be doing, he just isn't putting words together for some reason.  Basically, Jackson isn't having a problem with understanding, it's just with his expressive speech -- and that is easily fixable the earlier it is caught.  And, by us being over-cautious we will catch it extremely early.

The doctor also assured me that we are doing the right thing by erring on the side of caution.  Speech is the one delay that directly correlates with school performance.  The sooner we catch it and fix it, the better.  I was relieved to hear that because I've felt like I may be overreacting -- but I am doing EXACTLY what any good mother should do!  Not only that, but there is nothing I could have done differently to aid in his speech development.  If there is a delay - there is no amount of coaxing and teaching that I could do that would get him to talk.  And, just because he watches a little more TV than necessary, that would in no way cause the problem.

Long story, short -- TEIS will call us in about a week and come out in about 2-3 weeks to evaluate Jackson.  In the mean time, we are to keep doing what we've been doing and hopefully the light-bulb will switch on and he'll start talking up a storm.  If there is a delay, that's ok because we will be able to get the help that he needs and fix the delay before it becomes a problem!

Thanks everyone for your prayers and words of affirmation!  Keep them coming and I will keep you all updated as well!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Late Talker

This isn't going to be the best blog post in the world but I just need to vent about how I'm feeling right now about Jackson's language development.

Over the past several weeks we've been making a concerted effort to keep the TV off.  Some days I've done really well, others I haven't.  It's especially hard when I need to get something done or when he's crying for it.  It just makes him so happy.  So, I'm thinking of turning it off completely for the rest of the week to break the habit.  Thing is, I don't know if I can do it myself.  I feel like if I am not allowing him to watch it, I should turn it off for myself too.  Because, honestly, I think the problem is my addiction to TV as much as it is Jackson's.  I know that I could be working with him more and interacting with him more, but for some reason I get glued to the set.

Jackson has made a little progress in the past few weeks.  He's saying da-da, good, gone, done, tries to say dog (sounds like a Homer Simpson 'Doh!'), and on occasion will try to say 'I did it' (sounds like 'die-did-dit') when he throws the ball.  All of these things are random though.  He won't say them on command or mimic us saying them.  It's almost like he refuses to say anything if we are wanting him to.  He doesn't say any of the things you would think a toddler would say first like juice, milk, cup, cookie, ball, ma-ma, etc.

But then he does do things that blow my mind.  He tries to brush his own teeth and hair.  He knows how to work my iPhone (presses the button, and slides the bar to turn it on), knows how to turn on the tv (go figure), can open the back door if it's not locked, and will go fetch just about anything you ask him to (a ball, his blanket, his cup, a toy or book, etc.).

I've been feeling really good about his progress until I was looking at a milestone chart today and found myself heart-broken and riddled with guilt again.  I've had several friends tell me to stop looking at the charts, which I am totally going to do starting today.  They seem to make me feel worse about Jackson's development rather than better.  It said that he should be saying 15 words regularly by 18 months.  That means he has a whole heck of a lot of catching up to do in the next 4 weeks, which makes me nervous.  Also, it said that he should be pointing to body parts when asked.  Jackson has absolutely no interest in even sitting through the 'Heads, shoulders, knees and toes' song and I can't get him to sit still long enough to even point out his body parts long enough that he would be able to recognize them.

I'm trying not to be upset about it or think there might be something wrong but it is really hard when you see every other toddler at Jackson's age doing things he just will not do.  Is it something I'm doing?  Am I not doing what I should be doing to aid his development?  Or is he just laid back and will do it when he feels like it?

I know that every child is different and develops at a different pace but I can't help but worry.  I guess, more than anything, I'm struggling with fear and mother's guilt.  Fear that he will need some type of intervention and guilt that in some way this is all my fault.  So prayers are greatly appreciated for us (Bryan too b/c he has to deal with an emotional wife) right now!