Saturday, May 29, 2021

Cooking for a Lifetime

I think we all can agree that raising children who can feed themselves healthy, budget-friendly meals is crucial. I really didn't feel like Elijah was prepared for cooking for himself as an adult. He enjoys cooking and has cooked next to me since he could hold a spoon, but cooking independently was not a common occurrence for him. Then during the last few years, he stopped cooking during times when he was drained of energy from the academic demands of high school. So during the past few months, I determined to make his cooking be a priority. He has been working his way through the book How to Feed Yourself by Spoon University. I love almost everything about this book. It talks to its audience as if they are a college student or perhaps just starting out in their own apartment with very little money or skills. It has a fun, youthful, non-judgmental vibe. 

Much to my delight, he hasn't complained about cooking the meals at all. He mostly makes them for me and serves them to me for lunch. I can't say he is the greatest fan about eating the meals himself. He is in that phase where he would rather survive on Cheerios, gallons of milk, any soda he can acquire and meat. However, he does try each dish and says that they taste good. I agree. I am very impressed with the meals so far. Most of them are single serve, but there are a few to make for your "roommates" or if "your mother is coming to dinner and you don't want her to think you are going to starve".

Fancy ramen

Frosting cupcakes

Healthy Mexican rice bowl

Scrappy cream cheese pasta

Shrimp and steak

Rotisserie Ceasar chicken wrap ~ this was my favorite so far.

A microwaved egg

We plan to continue with the book until he has cooked everything at least once (less one chapter). My only complaint is that there is a small section in the book for making fun, boozy cocktails. We are a dry household and with two adopted fetal alcohol syndrome kids, we focus a great deal on the dangers of alcohol. I wish they had left those recipes out. I may consider how they can be made into mock cocktails.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The Filming of Thumbalisa (Adaptation of Thumbelina)

Rebekah completed her last production with Asheville Contemporary Dance Theater (ACDT) as a high school student. She was the main character for the performance of Thumbalisa (Thumbelina). Because of COVID-19, they filmed the performance without an audience, using both inside and outside venues. I can't wait for the film to be released sometime in June. The last few weeks have been emotional for Rebekah. Growing up and transitioning to new adventures are exciting but hard. She has been with this dance studio since 2010 and has danced in performances with them for twelve spring seasons. There are so many memories. With COVID, everything felt and looked different from learning the pieces, rehearsals, costuming and the final performance. Rebekah worried that she didn't know the dances well enough and that everything felt very disorganized. However, in the end she felt good about it. I think it is going to be as wonderful as other performances from the photos I have seen. On to new adventures.... I am so grateful for all that ACDT did for Rebekah. They gave her a beautiful theater education and lots of dance exploration.

Flashback ~ Here is Rebekah in her very first performance with ACDT in 2010. She was a Cheshire kitten in Alice in Wonderland. I could hardly guess then what an amazing journey this child would take me on! Just as I can hardly imagine where she will be in a few more years. I look forward to the journey.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Coming Out of the Pandemic Thriving ...

I do realize that some of the news predicts that we may have a very rough fall/winter with COVID, but for now, I see great hope that the end is within sight. We are planning a vacation (not cross country or international, as we had hoped during Rebekah's senior year), but a vacation nonetheless! We are planning a graduation party and a few folks coming from out-of-state. It all feels so exciting and normal!

However, the pandemic was not all bad for us. We learned so much about ourselves. We grew even stronger as a family. 

Elijah had a perfect excuse to shelter in place and wait out the pandemic before looking for a job. He needed this year plus to rest, grow, mature, take a break from some of the negative forces/people in the outside world and to just be. He has turned into a much sweeter person with the pressures of life taken off his back. He is more focused on doing whatever he does do better and with less complaint because he has the margin to deal with it. We don't plan on making massive changes to his daily life just yet. We have added more cooking to his life, and he is still working with Grandma several days a week. His medieval sword play has returned, but it is more community-based instead of being run by one person. Elijah has stepped into one of the roles of running the program and is doing a fine job as a herald (referee) with some of the kid battles.

Rebekah kept the busiest schedule of all of us during the pandemic, but it was still less than her usual. She needed the break to have more time to think about what she truly wanted to do with her life. She was generally so laser focused on her goals and busy pursuing them that there was little time to evaluate if anything (even tiny things) had changed. She did realize that dance was the most important thing to her above all else. She basically new this, but thought that being a sign language interpreter was a close second. She has realized that it really isn't, especially when she realized how difficult and unwelcoming  the deaf community is to hearing people. So, going to college to be a sign language interpreter is on the back burner for now. She is only going to focus on contemporary ballet for now and just have a job to make ends meet. She can worry about college, careers and other future plans later.

Tim has also enjoyed his year plus at home. He starts back to his brain injury day program one day a week in the middle of this month after his siblings are fully vaccinated. He may increase his days there after a few weeks or try something new. He has realized that he may prefer doing something more purposeful with his time than going to a day program for entertainment and stress because of all the unique relationships. He had his physical yesterday and told the doctor that being home this year had been less stressful than his normal life. He felt that, overall, he had thrived during the pandemic because he has gotten back into making and painting models, become closer with his brother and feels less stress in his daily life. His doctor said that his experience was unusual, but she was very happy to hear it.  

As for me, I am so glad I concentrated so much on the house. I got a cleaning routine down that can be completed in about 25 minutes, not including meals. I have reduced our belongings a great deal and have much more understanding of what we would need/want to help us pass our days if we were stuck at home for a long time again. Let's just say, I was hanging on to lots of things for a rainy day and when that rainy year came, we didn't use hardly any of the things. I have even become cutthroat with books. If I read them and don't love them...they are gone. We are down to three well-stocked bookcases, and I am adding and subtracting books as I read them. I will keep our beautiful collection of children's books. I do intend to have young children in my life in the future, whether that be through grandchildren or providing childcare. I also got so much painting done and feel like I caught up a bit on home care.

So as we rejoin the world, I feel refreshed and ready to find our new normal. There are so many exciting things coming for Rebekah, and I do hope we find the perfect fits for Tim and Elijah. But I also see that they are content and growing just where they are. My little "garden" is growing strong. It is just some of my seedlings are meant to be mighty trees and most trees grow slowly and steadily. 

I pray you all have a wonderful Mother's Day!

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, May 1, 2021

A "Would You Rather" Challenge Birthday Party

Elijah asked for a "Would You Rather?" challenge party for his birthday. He got the idea from one of his favorite shows on YouTube called Team Edge. I was concerned that his idea could backfire wildly. We are not the bravest of people and don't tend to be much into disgusting food, pain or other such feats that may be dangerous. However, he has asked for some variation of this idea for years, so I decided to give it a try. I put weeks of thought into coming up with challenges that would seem gross or "painful' without really being all that bad from our family's point of view yet would still seem exciting to Elijah. Together, we came up with a pretty good list. I also declared that having someone cry at your party was not a happy party and that each person was offered a free pass card on one challenge. If they didn't use their free pass card, they received $5 at the end of the party. 

Our List of Challenges ~  We came up with 15 challenges and then doubled them so that each person had a 2 in 5 chance of getting each challenge. Each person got six challenges and picked them randomly from a jar.

Would You Rather ...

  • Have a bucket of ice water poured over your head OR put your feet in an ice water bucket for one minute?
  • Have hot sauce on half a donut OR eat four Blue Heat Takis?
  • Have a balloon containing flour popped over your head OR have a balloon with maple syrup popped over your head?
  • Have a small cup of buffalo wings-flavored soda OR have a small cup of butter-flavored soda?
  • Have a small cup of pickle-flavored soda OR a small cup of mustard-flavored soda?
  • Have a spoonful of apple-pineapple-sweet potato combination baby food OR a spoonful of ham baby food?
  • Brush your teeth with Ooze candy gel (sour flavored) OR brush your teeth with baking soda?
  • Drink Kool-Aid with Toxic Waste candy or Kool-Aid with Pop Rocks Popping candy?
  • Eat Toxic Waste candy or Smog Balls Sour candy?
  • Have two balloons containing glitter popped over your head or five water balloons thrown at you?
  • Wear syrup socks for the rest of the  game OR have your toes spray painted?
  • Have a rubber band snapped on your wrist OR get a rat's tail (wet towel) smack on your back?
  • On your next turn, do both challenges OR let some one choose which challenge you have to do?
  • Have live crickets put down your shirt for 30 seconds OR get tickled for 30 seconds?
  • Have others play Tic-tac-toe on the bottom of your foot with a pen or have someone draw on your face with a washable marker?

The table of torture

Flour being popped on Elijah's head

Pop of glitter!

Glitter man

Tim's been floured

Sprayed painted toes

I got the ice water challenge

They loved drawing on Dad's face.

Maple syrup socks

They were hard to get on.

The crickets

It took just over an hour to get through all the challenges. It went much better than I thought it would and only Rebekah used her free pass. I can't blame her. I wouldn't have wanted to be tickled or have crickets down my shirt, either. Tim got the honor of having the crickets down his shirt. What a brave guy! There were no tears or angry refusals. A success!!

If you want to do something like this, tailor it to your family. The soda and candy was mostly found at a huge candy store we have in town called Rockets, but many of them could be found at Cracker Barrel. 

Elijah got a  new ukulele for his birthday, much to his delight.

He wanted donuts instead of cake for his birthday treat, and we had Chicken and Dumpling Family Meal Basket takeout from Cracker Barrel for dinner. We also played a rousing game of Uno with advanced rules.

I do intend to keep blogging after my kids are fully graduated. However, it will probably be more themed or event based like this post with less frequent updates. I will probably still post on Friday or Saturday.

Blessings, Dawn