Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Skin Stuff

Just because my friend Terry asked, for skin we've used several different things. The one I consistently buy is Tree Hut body butter which is available at Walmart. They have a fairly high shea butter content, keep his skin moisturized, cost about $4 a tub, and I don't have to order them from somewhere. They also don't feel greasy like some other products. They also have flavors which are not overally girly. We're using coconut lime right now.

We have not had much problem at all with dry skin. I know some people have struggled with using cheaper products but maybe that's due to their child's skin type or environmental conditions. We do live in a state with very dry winters.

I have used olive oil/African's Best Oil but I would rather use a lotion. The oils spill easily and can splash and drip. Olive oil is good in a pinch. (Or if you're just too lazy to go upstairs to get the regular lotion.)

Locs Week, 4 or 5 or 6

I can't tell you what week we're on in the locking process. And I'm too lazy to go back and look at my first post so I'd know for sure. I think we're starting week 5. Anyway, his hair is starting to loc. Not all the twists but there are some that would definitely take some major combing/detangling/fighting with to get out. It also seems like I am spending less time on it. Today I did a pretty major redo and it only took 20 minutes. The last week or so, I've been able to spend about 5-10 minutes each day adding a moisturizer and retwisting, but I've only had to retwist just a few rather than a lot.
Just a recap in case anyone is interested in product info. I started the twists using Jamaican Mango and Lime Resistent Locking Gel. I'd used Let's Jam gel before but I like Mango and Lime better. I used it for any major retwisting. To retwist, I would spray with Taliah Wajid Bodifying Mist (either full strength or dilluted with water) and then twist. To keep the locs moisturized, we moisturize each morning and night. I have been using two things: Treasured Locks Herbal Hair Balm and Curls by Sisters Smith Butter Me Up. Lately, I've just been using the Butter Me Up. We rarely shampoo with shampoo, just use conditioner as a shampoo. I've been using Neutrogena's Deep Recovery Hair Mask, mostly because that's what I had when Kenson came home and it's worked so I haven't changed. (I actually had a special conditioner for African hair too but I liked the Neutrogena better.)

The other interesting thing is now that his hair is in twists all the time, Kenson's hair is often the center of attention. And he doesn't always like it. People often come up and touch it. (It's always been people that we know but not necessarily people who Kenson knows.) He has started saying very bluntly "Don't touch my hair!" We're working on getting the word "please" in there so it doesn't sound quite so out of sorts. Most of it is due to curiousity. People want to know if I did it, how long it took, how I got him to sit still, and what it feels like to touch it. They are intrigued because there aren't a lot of black people with locs/twists around here. (I know one other person and I'll use the word 'know' loosely because I don't even know his name. He's an assistant coach for an area soccer team.) I'm just thankful we haven't had a stranger want to touch it. I can't imagine going up to a complete stranger and asking to touch their hair. But I know there are people who do such things because other people have told me about it.

Anyway, here's a new photo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A few more Conleigh photos

I have lucked out this month. After getting just a few photos since January, I now have a whole bunch of recent photos. Just what I needed because I had gotten to the point of researching ticket prices to Haiti. I don't know when all of these were taken but sometime within the last few months. Still no news or advice from anyone on what to do with her file that is being held. We're officially at one year in the same office with no progress. What a lousy thing to have to write.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Wonton Soup
Fruit Salad

Pork Roast with a Twist of Orange
Mashed potatoes
Green beans

Ham and Cheese Pasta
Mixed vegetables

Taco Pan Pizza (Divide into two pans before baking; freeze one for later.)
Fruit Salsa with cinnamon chips

Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza (Sauce of ketchup, mustard, and spaghetti sauce. Sauce + crumbled cooked bacon+ browned hamburger + onion + chopped dill pickles, all on pizza crust and topped with cheese)
Carrots and celery

Pancakes, bacon, fresh fruit

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We love squirrels!

Walking to the post office today, Kenson and I kept walking past squirrels. He was so excited about it for some reason. (Nevermind that our front yard is squirrel central.) Anyway, he yelled to one of of them, "C'm here!" So I asked him what he would do with the squirrel if he got it. With an ubber serious look on his face, he told me "Pet it's tail." Like "duh mom, what else would I do."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Conleigh photo

2 sets of photos in one week, that's a amazing. They just celebrated birthdays at HCH. In this photo, Conleigh is sitting next to the birthday girl, Esther. She's sucking her thumb which is one of her trademarks.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


I've been busy working on some satin lined fleece caps to sell on Etsy. My goal has been to create some simple caps with cute artsy themes that also are great for your hair because they are lined with silky material rather than fleece/cotton. When you have a silky lining, it reduces friction and helps keep the hair tangle free and frizzy free. For those who are styling African American hair, any type of rubbing can create frizzies and can make styles look not so fresh. So these are my solutions. I can't vouch with scientific data on the effectiveness but they are super cute which should count for something!

I just listed these in my Etsy store. They are baby sized, not big kid sized, and pretty girly. But I have some big kid ones cut out with some boyish styles amongst those. Once I get them finished, I'll add them to my Etsy page.

Kenson's Newest Saying

Kenson's newest saying is "I funny." Or "Kenson funny." Usually said when he's in trouble. Followed by a Cheshire cat grin and some serious attempts to get the disciplining parent to laugh. Trust me, it's not so funny. Especially after 20 or 30 times.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Another week, gone by

Friday-I'm not sure what we're going to do today. It's been a long couple of weeks at home. Even though we've been out and about, I'm still going a little stir crazy. This afternoon, we are going to town to look at two houses that are for sale. Maybe we'll get groceries after that.

Thursday-homemade applesauce in the crock pot, yum! I made two batches for D to take to school with him for a staff breakfast on Friday. One was apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon. The other was apples, pears, white sugar, ginger, and vanilla. Use quartered apples, add a bit of water (just enough to cover the bottom of the slow cooker), and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are tender, mash with a potato masher or blend with a blender.

Wednesday-worked on some cute satin lined fleece hats. I'm hoping they are perfect for curly hair and that the satin lining will help keep frizzies away. At any rate, they are turning out darling with ribbons and buttons and appliques. When I get a few more done, I'll post pictures. Small group church in the evening.

Tuesday-Had to use my Walgreens coupons by today so off to Lincoln we went. Needed some more fish oil capsules so we went to Red Clover heath food store. Found some Hansen's Nectar Smoothies on sale. Mmmm...awesome juice. Worth the money. I also met with a small group of ladies from school; chit chat and craft type stuff.

Monday-I honestly don't remember what I did this day. The women's ministry at church kicked off it's fall schedule on Monday night so I know I went to that but I'm totally at a loss for the rest of the day. I'm guessing laundry and dishes were involved.

Menu Planning

Steak Fajitas (Toss cooked steak strips with taco seasoning, peppers, and onions)
Fresh fruit

Lettuce salad with fajita meat
Cinnamon Chips with fruit salsa

Ham and Cheese Pasta
California Blend

Pork Steaks with a Twist of Orange (Brown 1 large sliced onion and 1 1/2 t. minced garlic in butter on stove. Add 1 finely chopped jalepeno, 4 1/2 t. chilli powder, 1 t. salt, and 1 t. pepper. Gradually stir in 1/ cup chicken broth, 2/3 cup orange juice, and 4 pieces of cooked bacon, diced. Place roast in slow cooker; pour liquid mixture over roast. Cook on low for 4 1/2 to 5 hours until meat is tender. Can make gray using cooking juices.)
Mashed Potatoes
Mixed Veggies

Italian Bean Soup (In stock pan combine 3 chopped celery ribs, 3 chopped carrots, 1 chopped small onion, 2 cans of chicken broth, 2 cans of drained butter beans, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1 t. basil. Heat through.)
Lettuce Salad

Monday, September 14, 2009

2 year olds + powdered milk =

A giant mess. They just look so content and happy with themselves, don't you think? (So thankful for these photos. It's been a while since I've seen any of Conleigh.)


No sub calls this week or last so I decided to get some things ready for the Junk Jaunt, a 300 plus mile garage sale along Nebraska's highway 92. Last year, my aunt made a few goodies like cookies and jelly but she's not doing it this year. I had some produce I needed to use and cookies are always easy. In the last two days, I've made Autumn Cran-Pear Jelly, Apple Preserves, Watermelon Jelly, Maple Nut Scones, Pumpkin Spice Scones, Peanut Butter Cookies with Honey, Gingersnaps, and Fall Vanilla Cookies with Chocolate Frosting. I think I'm going to make some Cranberry Scones too. I already have Strawberry Cranberry Jam and some Jalepeno Cucumber Relish made so I'm going to take a few jars of those things. Can you say "Yummo?"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Locs Week 3

Still doing the same routine. Tightening any loose or frizzy ones about every day (or every other if we're not going somewhere). I washed them last week with conditioner and then I used an apple cider vinegar rinse on them a few days ago so we have been getting them wet. We've gotten lots of compliments on them. I really like his hair like this; it's just cute. I can't say that I thinkn we're really locking yet. I have been able to easily separate the frizzies and I've easily pulled apart a couple of the twists that were kind of big or looking funky. I have been trying to keep them moisturized by using Treasured Locks Herbal Hair Balm as my main moisturizer. I'm a little worried about getting too much styling product/moisturizer on them as this can lead to itchiness but we'll just keep an eye on that.

On any given Sunday...

there is the opportunity for chaos and mayhem. Today was such a day.

Our realtor scheduled an open house for this afternoon and of course, we were still cleaning and straightening this morning before church. Then D decided he was going to go to an auction instead of church. So Kenson and I headed to church and D headed to the auction.

And church is where the drama begins. The two of us head in and sit towards the back. Kenson is a bit loud and just kind of testing the limits. After a bit of this and then a yank on my earring, I hauled him out of the sanctuary and headed to the car with threats of violence. (Okay not really but we did head to the car and I was a bit cranky.) After a quick conversation, he assured me he would obey. (Ha!)

When we get back in to the santuary, another family had arrived and unintentionally sat in our seats. So I had to ask them to pass me my things and then find a new seat in a packed santuary with a child who is saying pretty loudly, "My spot!" Of course, the front rows have some open space so that's where we head. We sit down, worship continues, Kenson plays appropriately for a few minutes and then needs to go to the bathroom. So out we go.

Back in, all the way back to the front, and then we sit for a few more minutes until Kenson starts playing way too loudly. He won't stop and so I ask him to scoot over closer to me, hoping proximity will make him more mindful. He refuses and moves away from me. I move to pick him up and move him closer and he starts screaming no. So back out we go, into the foyer. (Trip number 3 out in about a 15 minute timespan.)

Now what to do? Sitting in the foyer seems a bit of a reward for bad behavior, especially since we've already discussed/prayed over disobedience. He can't stay in the sanctuary because he's being loud and disobedient.

The other kiddos his age are upstairs but that presents a problem as well. Kenson has been doing great in the nursery and Sunday school rooms but now that school has started back up, all the classrooms have changed. Kenson is now 3 so he is supposed to go to Kids Club during the sermon instead of nursery. Kids Club is for 3-6 year olds and has a new teacher every week. He has not done well with it. He wants to go back to the way things were. And I really would have no problem letting him but due to the way the ages break down, his old nursery room is no more. There was a big group of 3 year olds who moved up and no 2 year olds so his old classroom is now empty.

That means he can go to the new nursery with the babies, go to Kids Club, or stay with us in church. The last 3 weeks, I have gone to Kids Club with him as he was not wanting to stay and started throwing a huge fit if I left. (When I say huge, I mean huge. We are experiencing more tantrums at home too so I'm not surprised. He has been such a complient kiddo but now he is testing and pushing, trying to see if we will relent if he flails, hits, or yells.) So I can take him up there but I will be forced to stay or forced to leave him tantruming.

We sit quietly for a while, kind of in time out. And then we talk about going upstairs. I go over all the basics of going upstairs. Mama will be down here. It's a little scary I know. Your friends will be upstairs. And Kenson affirms that he will not get mad or cry.

Up the stairs, in the door, and...the tears start. No, Mama! I tried to pry him off of me and hand him over to the high school aged helper. He is not ungluing himself from me at all. He's getting louder and more flailing and desperate. The adult leader stops everything, instructs the high schooler to take him, and I exit, with tears in my eyes. I know he is okay, that he knows I'm coming back. I know that he is anxious because of the different teachers, the number of kids, the older kids, and the new classroom. I know some of his behavior is related to his desire to control the situation, to keep me next to him. So I leave, and pray that the screaming, flailing, and tears will stop. All the other kids are looking at him as I leave. I'm feeling terrible for leaving the teacher with an emotional mess. I head to the church library and wait. (With a Kleenex in hand.) I hear screaming and loudness for about 5 minutes. And then it stops. Hallelujah! The rest of the time (remainder of Kids Club and then transitioning to Sunday school) is easy.

Too much craziness today. Quicky cleaning, a sick and semi absent husband, lots on my mental plate, a cranky and disobedient kid, too many trips out of the church sanctuary, too much craziness. Hoping next Sunday is less eventful.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Cabbage Patch Soup
Garlic Bread

Teriyaki Steak (using a bottled marinade)
Grilled pineapple
Grilled potatoes

Bean burritoes
Mixed vegetables

Ham and Cheese Panini with cranberry relish
Texas Slaw

Italian Panini
Lettuce salad

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Peanut Butter Brownies

Jen requested the recipe for these so I'm sharing it. I can't say they are the best culinary treat but they were tasty enough for us to be down to 1/2 a brownie as I'm writing right now. D wanted chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting for his birthday but I had a box of brownie mix I wanted to use up so I was improvising.

I took a box of brownie mix and added on the top a peanut butter cheesecake mixture. (Beat 6 ounces cream cheese, add 1/3 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 egg, and 2 T. milk.) I used a pan that was a bit smaller than 9 x 13 so the brownies would be thicker. My original goal was to swirl the cream cheese mixture through the brownies. But for some reason, it wouldn't swirl. It just sat on top of the brownie batter. So if I did these again, I would probably use half the brownie batter, top it with the cream cheese mixture, and then the remaining brownie batter. I did top them with a chocolate frosting but they turned out really sweet and chocolatey, almost too much so I'll spare you the frosting recipe. I think some chopped up Reese's Peanut Butter Cups would be a great topping to add before you baked the brownies. (Or to put on right after you took them out of the oven so that the chocolate would melt against the warm brownies and then set up again once they cooled.)


No news on the Conleigh front. Our letter to the director of Haitian social services arrived and was delivered. But the lawyer for the orphanage is apparently on vacation for a week or so and no one else will be able to receive information from the social services office. So we will wait a another week or so and see what we find out.

This week at church we sang a new song to me, a hymn. I don't even remember the title. But the words to one of the verses were from Is. 49. "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me." This verse really spoke to me before Kenson came home but I had kind of forgotten about it until Sunday. It gives my heart rest as it reminds me just how treasured my children are in the eyes of God. He sees every moment of their lives, even in my absence, and I can trust His provision for them. He loves them more than I do, enough to record their very being on His palms. Like a holy tattoo, He has not just the names of my children but their hearts and souls, their essences, right next to him at all times. What a reassuring thought; the God of all cherishes my kids. In my absence and in my presence, in my successes and in my failures, my kids are engraved on His hands. How quickly I forget what is held in and engraved on His mighty hands.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mini Preschool

To help keep myself sane by having some activities planned through out the week and to give Kenson some more structured activities, we're doing mini preschool at our house a few days a week for an hour or so. Usually less than than that but I kind of have an hour blocked out for it.

We're starting out with all about Kenson activities. I'm especially focusing on recognizing and forming the letter K (not necessarily with a pencil just knowing that it has three lines and how the lines go together) and recognizing his name. We're also going to do some fine motor skills work with holding pencils, crayons, and scissors.
Last week, we did two activities:

For the first one, we made some K's using pre-cut strips of paper and then glued them onto scrapbook paper which I folded to make into cute little cards. I did go around the outside of the letter with marker so it was a bit clearer. Now we'll have to decide who to write.

The second (and sort of third) activity was to create a magic lines painting by using masking tape to write Kenson name on a blank sheet of paper. We then colored over it with homemade fingerpaints. (The homemade fingerpaints kind of counts as another activity.) When you pull up the masking tape, the negative space spells his name. I didn't have freezer paper and just used cardstock so my masking tape stuck a bit but it still worked pretty well.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekend Recap

Wow! What a weekend! We were busy all weekend. It made for one cranky little boy but he is now in bed and will hopefully awake tomorrow morning with a new personality, a personality that hopefully departs from the churlish and generally ill tempered.

Friday was the first varsity high school football game of the year. It was the first time Kenson had been to a football game. He was amazed at all of it. When we got there, the football teams were still warming up and he was so excited to see them catching, throwing, and kicking the ball. Then the band starting playing and he just wanted "Somebody hit drum." Then the cheerleaders and the bird mascot came out. And it was all over. He loved the bird. 'Where birdie at?" "Find the bird." We heard that for the remainder of the night. We left before the game ended but it was still a late night.

Saturday was the first Husker game of the year. It was a pay-per-view event on tv so I ordered if for D's birthday. My mom and dad stopped over and our friends, Lisa and Daniel, and their baby came as well. Lisa made us homemade ice cream which was delicious! Kenson did manage to learn to say "Go big red!" But he really would have rather played with the baby. He loves babies. Always has. He just hasn't quite figured out that babies aren't the same as toddlers. He's a little rough with them. As in let me throw the ball at your head and hope you catch it rough. He's getting better though. Again, another late night since the game didn't start until 6 pm plus Grandma and Grandpa were there so we had to stay up to see them.

Today, we had church. Then we went to a wedding reception for D's assistant soccer coach who got married in California a while back. They had the reception on a farm with tractors and a huge swing set. Kenson did not want to leave. But we decided that after the crabbiness and tears over every single thing that an on time bedtime was a must. So now we're home. And he's in bed. And I'm hoping that the I'm-3-and-I'll-cry-and-and-yell-and-whine-if-I-want-to tears are behind us. At least for a few days.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Menu Planning Monday

Husker game Day

Nacho/taco bar with black beans and pork verde (beans and pork from my freezer)
Cheese Sauce
Pico de Gallo
Peanut Butter Brownies

Baked Jerked Chicken
Cranberry Relish

Cheesy Potato Soup with hamburger, carrots and celery

Bean burritos, mixed vegetables, fresh fruit

Bread Pudding
Fruit salad

Ham and Cheese Panini with leftover cranberry relish
Fresh fruit

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Locs-weeks 0 and 1

I think we've decided to take the plunge and loc Kenson's hair. I had wanted to let it grown out a bit just so I could get some practice for when Conleigh comes home and after 7 months of experimenting on Kenson, I think I'll be able to manage some basic styles on Conleigh. So that leaves us with choices to make about Kenson's hair. I really prefer him with hair rather than bald. (Maybe because his head has been shaved for the last 2 1/2 years, until he came home?) Anyway, his hair is now a bit shy of 3 inches in the front when unstretched and is a bit shorter in the back where he lost some of it due to ringworm. Derek and I both really like the look of locs and the fact that after the initial locing is done, they become pretty maintenance free. I don't know how people who have multiple kiddos with hair that needs to be done do it. I'm not sure I could keep up with having Kenson and Conleigh's hair to do.

Anyway, I've been researching locs for the last 7 months. I originally thought we were going to do two strand twists but after doing some more looking and after having Kenson's hair in single twists multiple times, I think we're going with the single strands. They will take longer to loc and they are more prone to coming out as they are not secured with rubber bands or braided.  But I think they will serve our purposes well.

I want the end results to have a more rugged, less defined look to them but not thick and unruly.  That is one reason I chose single strand twists over two stranded twists and braids.  The single strand twists will have that more rugged look right away versus the other two methods where you have to wait for the hair to actually loc to get rid of the look of two strands of hair or a braid.  I also decided to not part the hair as I was twisting but to instead choose random sections of hair.  I think that will help with the rugged, more "manly" look I'm going for. 

I started last Wednesday after Kenson's bath by going through doing single twists. To do single twists which can also be called coils or comb coils, you basically just take a section of hair and twist it between your thumb and pointer finger. It will start twisting up on its own. Each section had a base that was about the size of the end of a pencil eraser but some were bigger and some were smaller.  To help it stay and to help keep the hair healthy, you want to do it on wet hair. I also applied gel to each section of hair before I twisted. I used Jamacian Mango and Lime Resistant Locking gel. I have to say I totally am loving the gel. It has held very well. I made each section about the size of the diameter of a pencil which was the smallest size recommended for starting locs. I think I put in around 150 twists. After I had his whole head done, I used a cool blow dryer to help set the twists. Then off to bed with a sleep cap.

All in all the twists have been in for a week now and they still look great. I have redone a few here and there but not a major redo so the gel is working well. Basically, what I'm hoping is that I can spend 15 minutes each day tightening and redoing any that have come out and that this will be sufficient to get them started locking. So far, that has worked.

I have gotten them wet twice but not washed them as I think I want them to start locking before I wash them. For the record, you can wash locs, even when they are brand new. But since these are being started with twists, I'm going to hold off as long as I can so that the washing doesn't disturb the locs. We don't use shampoo on Kenson's hair but I think even a copoo (conditioner wash) would cause the locs to unravel.

Here's a picture of last Wednesday and one from today, a week later. (Pardon the snotty nose in the second pictures; it appears to be the time for boogers at our house.)

Goosebumps and Such

Kenson always gets cold easily. The tropical climate of Haiti is a far cry from our Nebraska weather. The kid's teeth chatter when we're in a swimming pool on a 90 degree day in the middle of July. I am not exagerating. The weather here has decided to act like fall all of a sudden so we've had lots of days in the 70's with nightime temps of 40. It means the mornings have been a little chilly. Today after Kenson got out of the shower, he had goosebumps and his teeth were chattering. I asked him if he was cold and he said that he was and then told me that his teeth were running. Too funny. Any of you have your teeth start running right in the middle of your mouth?