Saturday, September 25, 2010

Watching the grass grow

Oh, the irony of that statement! As it turns out, growing grass is actually quite a bit of work. In fact, there's a lot to know about it, and you can even get a PhD in the subject (Turf Science, to be exact), like my friend Pam. So for the past several weeks, we've been tilling, seeding, fertilizing, watering, watering, watering, watching, mowing, watering, watering, seeding, watering. Seriously, you guys. I had NO IDEA how much work this was going to be. Especially the watering.

But let's take a look back, shall we? Only 16 months ago, we moved into this house, and the backyard looked like this:

We had visions of using this half acre of yard as more of a soccer field than a poison-ivy infested woodland. Not that those areas don't serve a purpose, but I was constantly paranoid that the kids would get infected. (Brian has had poison ivy almost constantly since we moved here) So we began the long process of transforming this yard. And when I say "we," I mean "Brian." I helped here and there, but I haven't been in the greatest position for yard work this past year. And I'm not as hard of a worker as my husband.

So by last fall, Brian had cleared it, one bag of yard waste at a time, to this point: (And someday I'll have the nerve to get rid of that eye sore of a plastic playhouse. The kids really like it - and it was free - but gosh I wish it weren't bright pink and blue.)

And then a group of tree-guys desperate for work stopped by and asked if we had anything they could cut down. Brian hired them to remove all the brush in the area for a ridiculously low, seriously almost shameful price. They did in 6 hours what would have taken Brian a year or more. That brought us here:

But they had only sawed everything off at the ground, which left over 100 small stumps to be removed by hand. This summer, especially during his paternity leave, Brian was out in this mess with an axe, a shovel, and a rake, clearing it down to the dirt. Katy also spent hours out there with him, wearing gloves, "pulling roots." Together they collected 75 bags of yard waste to the curb. This is the first time we could really start to envision the size of our yard. (the dead area is the border of our property)

We also got the playset, complete with wood chips. Then it was time to plant grass. One very large water bill later, our yard looks the way we envisioned it. Ironically, the rest of the grass in the yard is brown and dead, like everyone else's, but the new grass is mossy green. I am so proud of my husband and all the hard work that he put into this project over the last year. Our family will enjoy this space for many years to come.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Not THAT kind of overdue - ha! I found this on my Dad and Sue's camera - taken as I left for my induction with Luke. Nine pounds, eleven ounces. Eeesh.

As I mentioned, I'm taking a basic photography class, and this week my assignment is portraits. (Yes, we have assignments! For class critique! I thought I was going to sit in the back and take notes!) So here are some OVERDUE photos of the kiddos. More to come...

Speaking of weights, the bathroom scale estimates that this guy is just over 14 pounds.

So precious, this boy.

Come to think of it, this is an accurate representation of her frequent demeanor.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Eight nights. That's what it took before all three of the children had returned to their normal sleeping schedules. *shew*

We had originally told Katy that this would be a temporary situation, like maybe until she's five. Last night she said, "I don't WANT David to move out when I'm five. I want to share a room with David forever!" Brian asked, "What about Luke?" and she said, "Luke can sleep in here, too! The whole family can sleep together!" Be still, my heart. (and oh crap, what are we gonna do when we wanna put the boys together? maybe she'll change her mind by then)

Tomorrow, Luke will be three months old and I promise that I will post pictures of him, because I just realized that I haven't shared a picture of the poor child since he turned TWO months. I've been rambling too much. (And tired, have I mentioned tired?)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Last night

9:30pm: I arrive home from my digital photography class (an attempt to do something for myself, not focused on small children, although indirectly it is, since I hope to improve the pictures that I take of my children).

10:00pm: I take care of the things I would have done that evening had I been home (pump since I missed bedtime, laundry, pack lunch, etc.)

10:30pm: Katy wakes up screaming, having a night terror, as she has done every night for the past few weeks. It makes sense, because she does it when she's overtired, and she hasn't taken a nap in 3 weeks and she's been waking up earlier with David in her room. But they are painful, as she is crying, disoriented, calling for Mommy, and it lasts about 20 minutes. (David sleeps through the whole thing)

11:30pm: I crash into bed.

3:30am: Luke wakes up. I go in and feed him and try to soothe him back to sleep.

4:30am: After several attempts, he is still awake, so I nudge Brian and ask him to take a turn. He finally gets him back down.

5:15am: I hear a voice calling me from Katy and David's room. I go in and find David standing in his crib, as if it's time to get up. I tell him, "It's still nighttime," and lay him back down. Mercifully, he goes back to sleep. (Katy sleeps through this as well)

6:20am: I vaguely remember Brian telling me to turn off the alarm.

7:20am: Brian alerts me to the fact that all 5 of us are still sleeping, and it's a work/school day. We drag ourselves out of bed and the kids all wake up shortly thereafter.

9:00am: Somehow, by God's grace, I still get Katy to school on time, although we're all a little bleary eyed.


Despite these hiccups, I think the room transition is going really well. I'm astonished at the talking/crying/waking that can happen in the room without the other one waking up. And sleeping past 7 this morning is a huge step, I think. We're getting there.

As I put David into his crib for nap yesterday, he asked me why he was still sleeping in Katy's room. I felt terribly that maybe I hadn't explained it well to him, so I sat him down and said, "This is your room now, too! Luke is sleeping in your old room, because it is for babies. This is where big kids sleep, you and Katy - in David and Katy's room!" He had the biggest grin on his face and now keeps telling me that he's a big boy. Maybe I could use this motivation toward potty training, too? How many changes can we handle in one week?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Night 1

So last night we made the switch. Katy ran around all day yesterday saying, "We're going to have a sleepover tonight! Me and David! And we're going to keep doing it again and again and again..." I told her it was only for a while, and she asked how many nights. I said maybe until she's five, and she said, "That's a lot of nights!" It's true.

Overall it was a success. Bedtime went smoothly and it only took Katy and David 20-30 minutes to fall asleep. We were cracking up listening to their conversation over the monitor: "Taytee, I see monter! (monster)" "No, David, that's just a lamp. Do you need a drink of water from your water bottle?" "Yes!" Luke went right to sleep in the nursery and we were in business. It felt great to brush our teeth as loudly as we wanted in our own room.

I was excited that Luke slept all the way until 5:30 before waking up (he's been getting up closer to 2 or 3 for the past week), but then I couldn't get him back to sleep after he ate. Katy must have heard him because she woke up and started talking to David, so the entire family was awake at 5:45. That's such an ungodly hour, isn't it? The difference between 5:30 and 6 feels longer than 30 minutes.

But I'm optimistic: maybe after the novelty wears off, we'll go back to our usual schedule?

(And Katy still didn't nap today - after being cranky all morning. I think the nap is really gone this time.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ode to MiniVans

I saw an article in the paper today about the downfall of minivans. It said that sales of minivans in this country peaked in 1995 and have gradually fallen ever since, and that automotive companies are scrambling to keep them selling, leading to ads like this: (if you have not watched this Swagger Wagon video, it's really worth two and a half minutes of your time),

But the article leaves me a little confused. We have had a minivan for our entire marriage (Brian uses it more like a covered truck in addition to hauling children). And in just the past 12 months among my good friends: Kate and Wendy bought the same make and model, Stephanie gave in after saying she'd never get one, Sarah finally convinced her husband, Pam bought one and wishes she had done it sooner, and now Abigail is in the market. And you should see the parking lot at the preschool.

Brian also accuses me of having minivan envy. Everytime one of my friends gets a new van, I'm telling him, "So and so's van has this, and such and such's van does that." But I love our old van, and I hope it holds on for a few more years.

So I guess my corner of the world is very small, because where I come from, the minivan isn't going anywhere.

Friday, September 10, 2010


*This week has seemed crazy, and we still have two more activities that don't start until next week. I'm sure it will all feel normal soon enough.

*The kids have had a snotty cold for the past week, including Luke. At 11 weeks old, I'm not overly concerned about a runny nose, but it's pitiful to listen to. I'm actually thankful that he has made it this far without getting sick, especially considering the number of illnesses his siblings are certain to expose him to. And David had a cold with a wet cough when he was 5 weeks old, so we made it farther than that!

*After much fretting, I have decided not to return to my work-from-home job. Prior to Luke's birth, I frequently had two hours in the afternoons to work while both kids were napping, and then some evenings after they were both in bed at 8. Now Katy has stopped napping almost completely, and Luke is unpredictable from one day to the next as to whether or not he will nap at the same time as David. I was starting to feel as though adding work to my plate at this time was going to send me right over the edge (I've been teetering too close as it is). I do hate to quit, though, because I loved working for them, and the set-up was really ideal for that season of my life. I really hope to work for them in the future.

*Brian and I text quite a bit (not just to each other, but in general), so Katy has picked up on this method of communication. She takes my phone (with a full keyboard) and asks me to set it up to send a message to someone, usually one of the grandparents. Sometimes she just types nonsense, but sometimes she asks me how to spell something, like "I ate cookies at school." Then she anxiously awaits a return text. They are good sports about it, especially the ones who are Verizon so they won't get charged. It has just now occurred to me to wonder if this is not the greatest habit to get her started on so young. Will she be asking me to text her kindergarten friends' parents' phones?

*I think David really enjoys the time when Katy is at school, even though they enjoy playing together. Yesterday we stopped at the grocery store next to Katy's preschool, and he was jumping up and down in the parking lot, "I go to store with Mommy!" (and Luke, but who's counting). We haven't been to this store since May, and we walked in and he said, "You looking for flowers Mommy?" I thought for a second and realized that the last time we were there in May, I bought flowers for an end-of-the-year event. I couldn't believe he remembered that.

*David is 2 and a half this month, which marks the beginning of the "difficult year, " at least in my experience with my daughter. It's true that suddenly his first response to everything I ask him to do is, "I duh-want to!" But he is more easily persuaded than his older example. And he's just so sweet and cute that I'm tempted not to get worked up about it.

*It is time to move Luke out of our room. He's looking crowded in the bassinet and waking up every time we roll over. I've been nervous about this room situation for quite some time. And after collecting your opinions, we had planned to do what most of you suggested, which I hadn't previously considered: put the boys together from the beginning. But now that it's time to go through with it, I'm wimping out. We're going to try putting Katy and David together and putting Luke in the nursery. Just temporarily. My concern is that Luke wakes up easily during the night (in response to noise, etc), and sometimes requires feeding, soothing, and time to get back to sleep. So I just want him to have a place to sleep on his own so that I can sleep. Also I thought of naps. The boys are the only ones who nap in the afternoon, so it would be nice to have them in separate rooms since they aren't on the same schedule (I'm almost always attempting to get one to sleep in the middle of the other's nap). So I'll let you know how it goes. This is just a trial and if it doesn't work, we'll try something else.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Here We Go...

This has nothing to do with football, but I can't hear the phrase "here we go" without thinking of that song.
But today is the first day of preschool, which means welcome to the fall schedule!

This year's first day was a totally different story. There were no nerves (they were mostly mine last year), I knew that I needed puh-lenty of time to get over there (last year I was actually late on the first day), and I knew that Katy wouldn't hesitate to jump in and do fine. I was almost in tears, though, at pick-up time, watching the 3 year olds next door bawling as their parents came to get them. It's hard to watch. Katy didn't bat an eyelash and told me several things she learned today: "Don't run on the sidewalk or you will fall and scrape your knee. Only run in the mulch. Don't cough on your hand or you will touch a toy and give your friend a cold. Cough into your elbow." So okay, they went over a few rules today.

David is already anxious for his turn to go to school. He asked me, "Tan I tay with TayTee tahday?" Then when we picked her up he refused to leave saying, "Mommy, I didn't get to ride da skoobus." He actually could've gone one morning per week at Katy's school this year, but we opted not to. There's an option to enroll him in January, too, so we'll see.

And I was curious to see how the morning-on-the-go would be with Luke. It was as I suspected. From the time he got up at 6 until I put him in his crib at noon, he must've taken about 5 catnaps in between fussy periods. He just doesn't sleep for very long anywhere but his crib. And today was "gentle start," so she was only at school for an hour and a half. Maybe after a few weeks like this, he'll learn to sleep longer in other places? I'm such a stickler for naps, this is difficult for my Firstborn personality to get past.

So all in all, a successful first morning.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Something I enjoy & Update on Life with Three

So of course this is not a review blog, but I'd like to share with you a product that I thoroughly enjoy and feel makes a significant educational difference in our lives. And for those of you who read review blogs, you'll appreciate my disclosure: I didn't receive a darn thing from Melissa & Doug for saying this. :)

I saw the Melissa & Doug magnetic calendar originally at Bob Evans, if you can believe it. Then for Katy's third birthday, her Grammy asked for suggestions for a gift and I suggested it (we have such generous grandparents). Now it hangs on our wall and is actually the calendar that we all refer to as a family to see what is going on for the week.

Every last day of the month, Katy and I (and soon David) sit down and pull all the magnets off the calendar and wipe it clean and make a fresh month. Katy finds the correct month, and she is learning the concepts of years, months, weeks, days of the week, etc. She also places the magnetic numbers in the correct spots once I get her started on the correct day of the week. When we first started, she could only do one through ten, but she's making progress learning the teens and twenties.

The other thing that the calendar really helps with is knowing what is coming. Katy used to ask a lot of questions about WHEN stuff was going to happen, and it's hard to explain how long "two weeks" is to a 3 or 4 year old. But now, she helps me put events on the calendar, and then she will ask me what number today is, and then she goes and looks to see what we're doing today and how many days until something else happens. Also, if something is in the distant future, like Christmas, I can say to her, "we have to change the calendar 4 more times before we put Christmas on it," and she understands, at least somewhat, that it's a long way away.

The calendar comes with a lot of appropriate and really useful magnets, such as "Visit the Dentist," "Birthday Party," and "First Day of School." But the magnets can't possibly cover everything, so I use a wipe off marker to keep track of other activities.
So my point is, I would highly recommend this calendar to any family with a preschooler, and I think it's worth the $20 price tag.
The reality of having three kids under five is setting in. It's not any one thing, but the combination of everything is a bit overwhleming at the moment. The past two weeks have been really crazy as I've been rushing to squeeze in haircuts, dentists appointments, well visits, etc before our fall schedule begins. We've also had lots of orientations, meet and greets, and organizational meetings for said activities. Tuesday is the first official day of preschool, but we've already been over there three times.
I feel like I can't possibly complain about sleep, because Luke is doing really great for his age, but I'm still really tired. We finished our freezer full of meals, so I'm trying to figure out real cooking again. Luke has really woken up and been more alert lately, which is really fun, but comes with more fussiness and difficulty going to sleep. He starting to want to nap in his crib, and usually gets one long nap per day there, but I don't know when that will occur. I'm trying really hard to keep him taking a few short naps in the swing or the car seat, because we're going to be on the move in the mornings and I just can't stay home for long crib naps in the morning.
Oh, and the yardwork. I'll do a separate post when it's complete, but we are growing grass. Lots of grass, and it's a lot of work in this heat.
And Brian and I would really like to get back into shape, but I'm having a hard time getting the time and energy together that it takes to get things moving in that direction.
So enough of the Whinefest - things are good and I think we'll be into a groove in a few weeks.