Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We Made It!!

It's the last day of November, and another successful 30 posts in 30 days. I never really run out of things to say, it's just that I should really spend my spare time doing other things. And by the end of the month, I worry that I am boring you. :)

So we're in full fledged Christmas mode. Brian and I are spending our evenings organizing lists and shopping online. Katy and I are filling in a December calendar full of fun activities. I'm going to take David downtown to see the train display, and tomorrow starts the advent calendar. Meanwhile, large baskets of laundry sit unfolded and piles of papers unorganized. But there is never enough time to do it all, so I'm trying to learn to just go with the flow. (Doesn't come naturally) So I'll have lots to share this coming month as well, just not everyday. It's been fun!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Traditions

I've really grown to love our Hallmark ornament tradition and look forward to it every year. But there's a difference between how it plays out in my head and how it really goes down. As the kids are getting older, I'd like for them to have some input, if not a final say, in which ornament they pick as "theirs" for the year. But there are some ornaments that I'd like for them to pick and some that I wouldn't. And guess which ones they want?

They were both going nuts in the store, so excited, touching every example and picking up the boxes (placed perfectly at toddler height). No matter how I tried to steer Katy toward the baking or even cell phone ornaments, she insisted that the only choices were the princess ones (either Disney or Barbie). We've tried not to push the princess thing, and she isn't princess obsessed, but she is for sure a girly girl who loves dresses. She also wanted one that "did something" (i.e. lit up), so she ended up with Barbie:


David was running from train to car to truck to tractor and back to truck, back to train, etc. And he was downright giddy about an ornament that looked like an elaborate train set where the train moved in and out of mountains. It was $45. He loved it so much that we considered splurging on it. But then I came to my senses and allowed him to choose from several others that were 1/3 of the price. He settled on the police car (that he thinks resembles the one from Disney's Cars), that actually works on a motion detector and scolds you for peeking.


As we put this on the tree, along with the yellow convertible from last year, David had a TOTAL meltdown that we weren't going to let him play with them. Crocodile tears. So then I thought, why can't he play with them? Won't they be cuter on his tree as a grownup if they are a little worn from love? This isn't a money making venture. So he played with them for several hours while we decorated. Which is a step for me, you guys, because I store these things in their original boxes.

I also had to let go a bit for Luke's ornament, because my initial assumption was to get the token "Babies 1st Christmas" ornament. But Brian talked me into getting the handprint kit, since we haven't done anything like that for Luke yet. And we'll put his picture in the other side as soon as we...*ahem*...get some prints made.


I think a new favorite tradition of mine is opening the Christmas decoration box to discover the after-season clearance things I bought and have forgotten about. This year included silver tinsel, a berry wreath for the door, a stuffed Santa, and a stocking for Luke. Also Brian's mom had given us his childhood ornaments, so we've added those to the tree this year. We were able to give my sister a bunch of spare decorations this year, so she can get her own tree and decorate her apartment. That was fun to do as well. So now our tree is entirely our own childhood ornaments and the Hallmark ones that we've gotten for the kids.


Seriously can't believe that Christmas is here. This fall has flown by...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Princess and Her Prince

Oh, David, what a sweet brother you are. Katy convinces you to be a prince and dance around to "ballet music." When all you really want to do is play with your cars. 



video


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The return of videos

While we are busy with Thanksgiving over the next couple of days, I will share some recent videos now that I finally figured out how to get them from my new camera to the blog. First I wanted to show you how big and active Luke is getting! Of course he wouldn't show off for the camera his rolling skills, but if he is left on the floor for long enough, he'll scoot backwards and even get up on his knees! I'm thinking...wait a minute...crawling is not too many months away. Yikes!

Of course, his sister can't keep her hands off her brother, and David is watching Cars in the background. It's a typical morning from my house. (also, sorry about the jumpy. hard to control the camera and try to coerce him to perform)

video

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Luxury of Ceiling Lights

One of the quirks of owning a home that was built in the 60's is that we moved in to no ceiling lights in the house except for the kitchen. (See also: no electrical outlets in the bathrooms) We didn't have very many lamps, so we purchased a couple to get by, but let's just say that we've been getting dressed in the semi-dark for the past 18 months.

So a few weeks ago, Brian began the project of crawling through attic insulation with a lamp strapped to this head to run the wiring required to put ceiling lights in the 4 bedrooms. I'm slightly embarrassed by the state of these bedrooms as I share these photos, but I figure that it's the 23rd of November, and if you are still reading, then you know me well enough to know that I'm no Martha Stewart.

We opted for a ceiling fan for our room. I used to have to open the blinds in the morning to see to dry my hair (because you know, no outlets in the bathrooms).

Those of you who have stayed in our guest room will be thrilled that you no longer have to stumble around to a 40 watt bulb. (We put the same fixture in the nursery)

Another ceiling fan for Katy and David's room. Oh, do you like how I changed it from "Katy's room" to "Katy and David's" by shoving a crib in the corner with a firetruck comforter? The fun decor will have to wait until we figure out the permanent residents.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day to Day, revisited

In August of 2008, when Katy was 2 and David was 5 months, I did a post about what our daily life looks like. I thought I might do another one, because WOW. It looks different now (at least to me). And we still have a 2 year old and a 5 month old, so I guess the difference is the 4 year old? Or I got sick of staying home so much?

A typical weekday looks like this:

At 6:20 the alarm goes off. If the baby is awake, I get up to feed him. But if not, I hit snooze and wait for Brian to get in the shower. Usually Luke wakes up before he is out and I feed him and hand him over to Brian so that I can shower around 7. Katy and David usually wake up between 6:30-7:15. We've been working with David on waiting until the clock says 7 before calling for us. He's getting there, he waits about half the time.

While I shower, Brian takes them downstairs and feeds them cereal while they watch some TV (Cars these days). I try to get done by 7:30 so he can leave for work, but often he brings Luke up to hang out with me while I dry my hair.

On non-school mornings, it's a more leisurely pace, completing the same tasks as below. But we are still out of the house almost every morning - whether it's swim lesson, play date, some kind of appointment or errand, playgroup, or going to the park.

On school mornings (3 days/week), I come downstairs and get the kids ready (dressed, diaper changes, clean up breakfast, brush teeth and hair, pack bags, hopefully eat something myself). A current challenge is that Luke would love to go back down for a nap before we even leave for school, but many mornings the timing doesn't work out. We do what we can. He'll catch a catnap in the car if he doesn't get one at home. We're out the door by 8:40, and no matter how "on time" I think I've been running that morning, I am rushing out the door at go time.

We pull into the parking lot and I unload the kids (put Luke in a stroller), and drag them into the school to take Katy to her classroom door. Then the boys and I have 2.5 hours. One of the days, we usually go to the library for storytime, one of the days we go to church for my mom's group/Bible study, and one of the days we go home. Luke naps in the carseat for 20-30 minutes here and there when he can. If we're home in the morning, he might get a nap in the crib.

After I pick Katy up, we go home for lunch (about once a week we get McDonald's, which I justify because our favorite menu item is the fruit and yogurt parfait). Then we have some playtime before rest. We try to get outside as much as possible, although it's tougher with a baby (he's so heavy, and he always needs something so I'm constantly going inside).

Around 1:30, give or take, I begin heading toward rest time. David goes into his crib and usually sleeps 2 hours or so. Most days, Luke will also take a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon, but it doesn't usually fall at exactly the same time. He might go down at 12:30, for example, and David not until 1:30. Then at some point, Katy will select "quiet activities" (puzzles, games, coloring, etc) and go to the playroom for her rest time. I set the timer for one hour, and she plays in there on her own. I usually have to help with something at some point (potty, can't find blankie, etc). About once a week, she'll fall asleep and sleep right through the timer going off, for about an hour. IF the stars align so that all 3 of them are "resting" at the same time, I get one hour to myself. About half of that is usually cleaning up from the morning/lunch/laundry etc. The other half I'm usually on the computer checking email, looking up information about various things, or this month, I'm blogging. If I had continued to work from home, this afternoon time would have been stressful and busy, rather than a time to catch my breath. So thankful for that breath.

Once Katy finishes her rest time, there is usually some time with just her and I - we play games, read books, or she likes to help me cook, fold laundry, or clean as well. I also struggle because sometimes I didn't get everything done that I wanted to during rest time, so sometimes I will let her play games on starfall.com for a little while.

The boys wake up and we have another round of play time. Again, we try to get outside. Katy usually begs me to go play with various neighbor girls, which could be another post of its own. I try to get dinner together (which is warming up the main course and making salad, rice, or pasta) by the time Brian gets home between 5:30 and 6. The hour or so before Brian gets home tend to be a bit nuts. Luke is somewhat fussy and wants to be held. I'm getting ready for dinner. The big kids are bickering, etc.

The kids go wild when Brian gets home. We sit down for dinner and try to catch up on the day and play a dinner game. They often get down from the table and go play before Brian and I are done eating and we try to have 5 minutes of adult conversation, albeit with a baby on our lap. Then Brian will go and play with the kids while I clean up dinner (this is my preference - please entertain them for a few minutes).

Luke has been going to bed between 6:30 and 7 recently, so I'm nursing and dressing him during this time. Then the family activity varies: maybe it's bath night, maybe I take one of the kids on a walk or to the grocery while Brian takes the other. Or we might all play a game together. Now with the time change, it's too dark to go back outside, but when it was light we would do that.

One night a week, Katy has Awana at church. We carpool with another family, so if it's our night to drive, I take them, run errands, and bring them home.

Between 8 and 8:30, one of us puts the big kids to bed (teeth, jammies, books, prayers and kisses). Amazingly (and knocking on that wood), they've been going pretty much right to sleep. Partially it's Katy giving up her nap, and the bedtime is slightly later for David since we moved them in together.

Then Brian and I either watch TV, work on projects around the house, talk about what's going on, or take turns with the computer. Around 10:30 we are heading upstairs, and Luke usually wakes up by 11 for his first feeding. He's also up again around 3, give or take. For some reason, once every few nights he has trouble going back to sleep after that second waking and he might be awake for an hour. But he isn't crying, just awake in his crib. So we keep going in to check on him, burp him, change him, etc, and eventually he goes back to sleep.

One thing that is drastically different on the weekends is that Brian and I take turns letting each other sleep in - I usually take Saturdays and he takes Sundays. Of course, I'm up at 6:30 feeding the baby, but I can easily go back to sleep, even if I'm awake for an hour. I'm a night owl, so I can sleep LATE. I feel a bit sheepish to admit that I force myself to get up if I sleep much past 9:00. Brian never sleeps past 8:30 on his mornings.

I love reading about daily routines, so if you are up for posting yours, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

What I Watch on The Tube

For many years I really only watched one thing on television: NBC's Thursday night line-up. When I looked it up, I realized that this dates back to the early 80's with Cosby and Family Ties. But for me, it consistently started back in 1995 with good ol' Friends, Seinfeld, and ER. Over the years, the shows changed and included several gems such as Mad About You, Frasier, Will and Grace, Scrubs, and My Name is Earl. Eventually it has landed on The Office and 30 Rock, which have also ranked toward the top on the hysterical rating.

However, for the first time in 15 years, I'm kind of bored with the Thursday night line-up. I still laugh, but not to the degree that I used to.

So thanks to the genius that is DVR (and the fact that we are home with kids in bed by 8 every night), we've branched out to some other shows. Here's what we've been watching:

1) Glee. Watching the initial previews I never would've guessed it, but I love this show. Hilarious characters and one liners, ever-prevalent Ohio references, and the music is SO fun to watch.

2) The Middle. The wife from Raymond and the janitor from Scrubs? What better combination to make a parody on family life in the midwest? I laugh out loud at every episode.

3) Modern Family. I'm laughing just thinking about what to write! Mitchell - you're the reason we now refer to athletic events as "sports games." And Phil. Oh, Phil. I think I laugh so hard because you're the only person I know who's a bigger dork than I am. Classic.

4) The Office. Although I think it's past it's prime, we still watch it. The cast is brilliant.

5) 30 Rock. Until a few weeks ago, I still thought this was the best comedy on television. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are the best combination. It's just a unique comedy.

6) The Event. We just started watching this one this fall because Brian was so upset about Heroes being cancelled. Heroes lost me after the first season because I couldn't keep track of who was really alive, actually dead, who knew who had which powers, what year it was and who had time traveled to get there. But Brian stuck it out until the end. The Event is reminding me very much of Heroes. They've got two more weeks before I'm lost.

7) Oprah. I don't even come close to keeping up with her during this final season, but I DVR it and watch probably a couple of episodes per month. I keep thinking that I'll get this long glorious vacation and be able to catch up. (ha!) But I just love Oprah. She's genuine, generous, smart, concerned, funny, and interesting. This is going to sound corny, but I've learned a lot from watching her show here and there over the years. I really can't fathom that she won't be on at 4:00 next year. I remember that my cousin saw her live and said that she cried when Oprah walked into the room, just realizing how much she has done for so many people. I would do the same thing, I know I would. I would bawl my eyes out. (don't judge me!)


Not that I need to add to the list, but what are your shows?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Once a Month Update

Gosh I can be wordy! Everyday I intend to do a brief post and it ends up being quite verbose. Just like I am in real life, I guess. Hard to get me to shut up.

Anyway, I wanted to give a brief (really!) update on the Once a Month Cooking project. Remember back in January when I tried it for the first time? It took my neighbor and I somewhere around 12 hours to make a month's worth of dinners for each of our families. Then The Girls made me a month of dinners right before Luke was born. As I approached cooking for my family again, my friend Kate, who had been doing the Once a Month thing for a year now, offered to take me under her wing.

So now we've cooked twice together, and it is amazing. She has planned the menu for us from these books. She has put all the recipes in a spreadsheet that allows you to select and create a grocery list. We split up the list and do the prep work ahead of time (chop veggies, cook meat). Then she comes over to my kitchen and we pound out 28 dinners for each of our families in approximately 5 hours. And get this: for about $100 each.

I'm hooked.

Kate's confidence, practice, and planning skills have made this so much easier. But even if she decides she doesn't want to be cooking buddies anymore (don't worry Kate, you didn't make a lifelong commitment :), I feel confident enough at this point that I would try to do it on my own. She picks simpler recipes to keep the prep time and the cost down. And we cut corners here and there. This isn't the Food Network, it's just dinner.

I'm getting dinner on the table shortly after Brian gets home from work. We're eating less take out. We're trying new recipes. And we're spending less money on groceries. I hope to find a way to keep it going.

(Gah! Still so wordy!)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Craigslist Pet Peeves

As you have probably noticed, I'm into resale. Garage sales, consignment shops, craigslist - if it isn't perishable, I look there first. Lately, I've been spending some time on craigslist (kids don't mind used toys for Christmas!) and a list of pet peeves has been forming in my head. I have bought and sold many items using this website for the past 6 years, and in my humble opinion, there are some unwritten rules that get broken quite frequently and drive some people (me) crazy.

(Disclaimer: If any of you have broken any of these rules, well that's ok, because I love you. You know how things are more irritating in mass quantities of anonymous online contact?)

Unwritten rules for the seller:

1. Once you post something for sale, check and respond to your email at least daily. If you are not an email user, include a phone number. If someone emails you to inquire about an item and it is sold, please respond and let them know. Or better yet...

2. Once the item sells, delete the ad. Soon. There is SO much stuff posted on craigslist, and a large percentage of it is no longer available. The searching process would be so much easier if ads were deleted. Also, don't update your ad to say "SOLD." Just delete it.

3. Be reasonable about the price. Unless the item is a hot ticket, most used items are worth about 25-40% of what you paid new. Even if it was barely used. If you have to track it down, drive all over creation, and pay cash, you aren't going to pay 90% of the new cost.

4. Include a picture. Or don't, but just understand that you are more likely to sell the item if you do. Lately I've been searching for a treadmill, and if there are 50 treadmills listed, why would I inquire about the one that only says, "Used treadmill in excellent condition. $300"? I've used this to my advantage, though, too. When we were looking for a playset, we couldn't get to them quickly enough before they were gone. So we called a guy who didn't put a picture up, knowing that he wasn't getting as many inquiries, and he was close enough that we were willing to drive over and look at it. I'm certain that's why we got that one before it was gone.

5. Don't bother with items under $5. This is just a personal opinion, but I am not willing to drive 20 minutes away to buy a DVD for $2. That's a good price, but I would waste more time and gas money than it was worth. Personally I think you should put those items in a garage sale, donate them, sell them to consignment, or (shhh...) pitch them. But who knows. People still post them, so maybe they are selling.

6. Brand matters. We once posted a Pottery Barn area rug - we had paid $100 at the PB outlet and we asked $40. I had 10 emails by the next morning and people were calling me begging me to let them buy it even though they weren't first to respond. I bet I could've sold it for $100.

7. If you are using craigslist to make a profit by purchasing strollers at 75% off at Target and then selling them for only 50% off on craigslist, please remove the Target clearance tag so that the buyer doesn't feel like they've been taken to the cleaners. No reason.

Unwritten rules for the buyer:

1. In your initial email-of-interest, please say something more than "Is the item still available?". Make an offer, let them know when you can come and see it, or ask questions that you have. Let's speed up the process, shall we?

2. If you say you will come to look at or purchase an item, please show up within a reasonable amount of time or call to say that you will not. There's nothing more frustrating than thinking you are going to sell an item and arranging a meeting to stand there and wait for nothing.

3. Bring cash. It's pretty widely understood that craigslist is a cash-only venture. By asking if you can pay with a check, you are putting the seller in an awkward position to say no.

4. Make an offer. You might be surprised how low someone is willing to sell something for if it's been sitting in their basement and they haven't gotten any bites yet. They can always refuse and you can always say, "let me know if you change your mind." There have been a couple of times that I have wished that I would have accepted early offers when I didn't get any others, and if someone else would've given another low offer, I would take it.

Okay, I feel better! Happy resale hunting!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Question #4: Dreams for the kids

My mom asked:

What are your dreams for your kids? If you were to imagine each of them as 30-somethings, what will they be doing?


We all know what the pat answer is: I want them to be happy. And of course that is true. More than anything I want them to be happy, healthy, faithful, contributing members of society.

But I have thought a little beyond that about what I might hope. Mostly I think about our family dynamic. I hope that I am close with my kids when they are grown, and that they are close to each other. I hope that if they have families of their own, that those new members are a natural extension of our own family.

I hope that I see them often (by the way, that's the purpose of all the OSU brainwashing - we are (not-so-)secretly hoping that they'll want to be Buckeyes, where Brian gets significant tuition reduction for his children and we have our old house for them to live in rent free, then they'll be Central-Ohioans long term! This is a dream, right? A mom can dream?). 

I hope that they have a strong spiritual faith and a heart for others. I hope that their lives have a positive influence on others' lives.

I hope that we sit around and play cards and laugh together, help each other with yard work, that they call and ask me for advice about which car to buy. I hope they still give me hugs.

I hope they have a strong community around them, wherever they are, and that they build positive relationships with others.
I hope they find careers that meet that delicate balance between enjoying what you do and not working yourself to death for the sake of it.

I hope that when trials come, as they surely will, that they will have the tools to cope with it, and the support system to help them through it.

I hope they find others (spouse, friends, co-workers) who appreciate them for the wonderful people they are.
Gosh, is that all? No pressure or anything. I guess we parents have our work cut out for us.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Question #2 & #3: division of labor/bringing out the best

Bluedaisy asking two questions:

1) Has the division of labor between you and hubby changed since you added a 3rd child?


I've heard a couple of fathers say that with each additional child they felt more and more pressure to increase their labor at home, and I think Brian would say the same. I'm not sure that the division of which chores we do has changed much, but having three kids just means that each of us has to step in and help out more and more. There is such little time in which all 3 kids are sleeping that we are constantly evaluating how many kids we can include in a chore. Brian can rake leaves with the 2 big kids, I can take one to the grocery with me, all 3 have to be asleep to mop the floor. So we find each other working together to split things up with the kids "helping out" so we can get it all done.

We have a fairly traditional division of labor, I think. I have thought several times recently about how much he does around here that I would either have no clue how to do or wouldn't want to do: fix the plumbing, run electric line, clean the gutters, rake TONS of leaves, install ceiling fans, etc. He also takes care of the bills, because he majored in finance and I...uh...didn't.


2) What do you find that each of your children bring out in you as a mommy (good or not so good)?

Hmmm...interesting.

Luke: He brings out the silly. There's something about babies that makes us act all goofy and crazy just to make them belly-laugh. And he's getting chunkier - his thighs are so squishy and his cheeks are so chubby, I just want to kiss him all day long.  On the downside, babies make me so tired, I fear that he brings out the grumpy at time, by no fault of his own.

David: He brings out my lower lip. He is so sweet and so emotional and sensitive, that I find myself loving him and feeling badly for him a lot of the time. He was trying to keep up with a group of girls at the park who were ignoring him. He kept coming over to hug my leg and say, "You're my friend, Mommy." He's such a cuddler: the other day he had one set of fingers in his mouth, the other arm wrapped around my neck, grabbing some of my hair and some of his, twirling it. *lower lip out* He also brings out the "STOP!" He's getting more physical and aggressive, and I find myself keeping him from hurting someone throughout the day.

Katy: She brings out the teacher in me. She is so curious about everything, anxious to learn and desperate for structured adult activity. So I'm sitting down with her teaching her to tie her shoes, teaching her to write letters and spell words, teaching her to cook, do puzzles and play card games. Not because I think those things are important, but because she INSISTS. Just today I was asking her teacher how to teach her to tie her shoes. They said, "kids don't usually learn that until first grade," and I said, "but she won't stop trying and asking me to teach her!" For these reasons and more, she also brings me to my knees. I'm never sure if I'm making the right decisions or not, how best to parent her. This is true of most children, I'm sure.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Question #1: Handling 3 kids (ha!)

Pam asked:

How do you cope with 3 kids? Seriously I want to know. Sometimes, when both my boys are giving me stereo noise I feel like my head is going to explode. So I wondered what you do to keep from going nuts. :-)


The first thing I think of when I read this may not be exactly what you are asking, Pam, but I thought I'd start with an update on how life with 3 kids is going.

Overall I think it's going well. Certainly 3 kids is somewhat busier than two, but not busier than I would have expected. And I still stand by my philosophy that whether you have one kid or eight, life is more challenging with  a baby in the house.

A couple of things that I have noticed since Luke was born: first is that I cannot believe how the laundry has multiplied. I used to be able to go 9 or 10 days without doing any, and then do several loads in a row and get caught up. Now it feels like laundry is a never-ending, constant task. I'm doing a couple of loads mid-week, and then every single weekend doing a big push. And by the time I get it folded, sorted into piles, carried upstairs, and put away? There's just as much in the hampers to go back down to the basement. A long term dream would be laundry on the 2nd floor. (Not even the main floor - it should just be right next to the bedrooms.)

We're not eating out as much (a good thing) because it's more and more difficult. We stay home more in general. Again, it's a season. Oh, and I'd be losing my mind right now if I hadn't quit my job. That opened up 5-10 hours a week that were previously busy and stressful.

Also, it seems that before Luke was born, we had fun activities on the weekends, and it was more playing than working. But now the weekend feels mostly like work: between grocery shopping, cooking, a little exercise, yard work, house projects, laundry, and cleaning, there is only time for occasional entertaining activities. Perhaps the difference is that during the week I'm just getting through the days with the kids, rather than also getting those chores done. So weekends are for catching up. I miss the fun stuff, but hopefully we'll get back around to that.

But the day to day is manageable. Of COURSE it gets loud and crazy often. As for coping skills, I don't know...I think in some ways I've just gotten used to the craziness. Sometimes in the middle of the day, several things will go wrong at once and it's nuts, and I'll picture a reality TV camera in my house, displaying the craziness for all to see. Some viewers would shake their heads, others nod in empathy, others would judge me. But it helps to remove myself from the situation and get a good laugh about how ridiculous it is. I also know that when it gets out of control, I've got a good story to share with The Girls later.

But I certainly don't have it together, I'm just getting by. Trying to keep it in perspective, enjoying it as much as possible, and relishing the evenings after they are in bed. It will get easier, I hope.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

(Almost) Wordless Weekend: Bestie Babes

We started as a life group, but now these families are among my dearest friends. I see these kiddos and their moms in a playgroup each week, among other times. We've doubled the babies in the last twelve months, and it's funny how even the kids are friends. Katy and Emmaline, the Baby Brother twins, love to play dress up together. David and Frank are 2.5 year old boys to the tee: they wrestle, crash their toy cars, and balk at potty training. Landon and Maggie are only a few weeks apart: they've mastered crawling and the race is on to be upright and mobile. Then Luke and Benjamin joined the crew this summer, and for now his mom and I are sharing war stories about nighttime feedings and milk supply. But we're confident that they'll be good buds.



I'm so thankful for their friendship - I really don't know what I would do without them.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quick question/almost forgot

Ah! Barely remembered to post before heading to bed. Brian was off work yesterday and today so we've had a combination of house projects (running electric for ceiling lights in all 4 bedrooms) and enjoying this strange burst of warm November weather (2 parks in one day!).

So, I have a question for you. Does anyone have advice about what to do when you 4 year just acts unkindly? It's hard for me to admit, but there are lots of times when Katy says or does things that just seem mean spirited, harsh, rude, etc. I know that in her heart of hearts she's not mean and hateful, but she might say or do something to another child at the park or to an adult if they are trying to get her to do something she doesn't want to do. It's almost always an act of frustration about not getting her way.

But do you punish a child for being unkind? Something about that doesn't seem right, but I feel very strongly that it shouldn't happen, so I need to do SOMEthing. It seems like the right answer is "model kindness and she will be kind," but I hope that if you know me in real life (and Brian), you will believe me when I tell you that I am kind to everyone. I can't remember the last time I said something mean to someone? (unless this is a huge blind spot?)

Also believe me when I tell you that I have talked it to death with her. We have gone over it and over it and over it. Why she needs to be nice, how it makes her friends feel when she says something mean, how God wants us to love others, etc. When she isn't frustrated, she seems to understand, but the behavior continues.

I do think it has gotten better over the past year, so perhaps it's an age/maturity thing. But I feel so embarrassed to ask about it. I hear other parents say that their kids are so perfectly sweet and kind and generous, and I wonder what I am doing (or not doing) so that she isn't always that way?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Twiddling our thumbs in December?

You know what I've noticed? That many of our usual week to week activities take a break between Thanksgiving and Christmas:

-Swim lessons - done until Janaury

-Awana (weeknight church program) - next week is last week until January.

-MOPS/Bible study - ditto

-Library music class for David - you guessed it.

Now I know that December will be busy and we'll need to wrap gifts and put up the tree and go to the occassional Christmas party. But what, pray tell, am I supposed to do with my children during regular business hours for the entire month?

(Okay, I know that it's not everyone else's job to provide structured activity for my kids. That's my job. But I like my routine and feel like it's a bit abrupt to be done next week until JANUARY. Do you think?)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anyone...anyone...anyone?

Last year during the 30 posts in November business, I asked if anyone had any questions. It was interesting to see what people asked, because most of it I would never have thought to write about, but I'm pretty much an open book, so I was happy to. One person asked to tell a background story about my life prior to having kids. I really enjoyed writing that and there were several "I never knew that" comments. (In fact, if you have a blog and have never done that, would you please? I'd love to hear it. One of my very favorite things to do is sit down with someone and ask them all about their life experience. It's fascinating. And I'm always amazed about friends that I've met in adulthood, but I've never gotten around to finding all the details of their life stories.)

So I'm wondering if anyone has questions for this year? No pressure, of course, but I'd be happy to have some more topics to clutter up the rest of this month. :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Survey Says?

Welcome to Chaos!! Thank you all SO MUCH for participating in the name-changing poll. I am actually completely shocked that the results leaned so strongly toward one name. But I'm also glad because that really helped me feel confident about a choice. Just for the record, here are the poll results, along with some thoughts:

Chaos: Party of Five: 12 votes, 54% - I liked this one too, but just wanted to make sure it didn't make everyone think of Neve Campbell

Not Your Mama's Blog (Unless your name is Katy, David or Luke): 4 votes (18%) - I thought this one teetered between funny and trying-to-be-funny-but-actually-lame.

Mommyville: 0 votes - Funny, I was totally sold on this until Brian said he didn't like it. I guess it's just vanilla, huh?

They Call Me Mom: 3 votes, 13% - I thought of this one because of a co-worker of Brian's. Let's say his name is Joe Brown, his email address is theycallmejoebrown@gmail.com. Isn't that funny?

The Trenches: 2 votes, 9% - I heard someone say something about being In the Trenches, and thought that was an accurate description of how I feel from day to day in parenthood. But I also didn't want to imply that raising children is even nearly as difficult as war. I mean... gosh.

Raising Littles: 4 votes, 18% - It's just what I do.

So hopefully the new name will start to feel like "home" soon. Thanks again!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Birthday Treat - not neccessarily for the birthday boy

It's my wonderful husband's birthday, and our celebration this year is pretty tame (loaded baked potatoes, Betty Crocker, and a movie after the kids are in bed). He did have an adventure with Katy this weekend, though: her first Ohio State sporting event. (Exhibition games are free.) He went with two friends and their daughters (or two of Katy's friends and their dads? either would be accurate description)

They had such a grand old time, I really wish that I could have been there to see it. The kids in our house are predestined to enjoy The Buckeyes in some form, so it's fun to see the excitement. And meeting Brutus is not something that everyone gets to do. Katy knows it is a big deal. I shoved the camera in Brian's hands on his way out the door and he obliged.


You know...Peas in a pod and all that

Halftime snack

Must be an entertaining halftime show

Brutus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Serious observation

This cracks me up! Life size poster of Greg Oden (former player)

Wish I could hear what they are saying

Poor Katy has been really upset recently about being short. The girl in the middle is 6 months younger than her! Don't know what to tell her. Brian told her she's got cheerleader build, but I'm not that's what I want her to aspire toward (not that it wouldn't make a fine extra-curricular, but...)

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

One evening after a bunch of rain, outside our front door...

(Wordless Weekends for NaBloPoMo...starting NOW!)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Gettin' 50 free Holiday Cards - so can you!!

You may remember that I LOVE to receive Christmas cards, especially ones with pictures of all your pretty faces. In fact, one side of my refrigerator is reserved for their display and is typically cleared off every November to get ready for the arrival of new cards. I really love that part of the holidays.

I have to admit that part of my motivation for getting our recent portraits taken was to have something to make an online Christmas card. I have used Shutterfly in the past and this year they are offering a great deal. All bloggers who are willing to post about Shutterfly holiday cards can receive 50 for free! You know I love a good deal! Check out the details of this one here.

I really do love Shutterfly. They offer matte printing, which I prefer over glossy. They have a HUGE selection of very stylish and fun card designs - there are 748 options for Christmas card designs for 2010!! And they give you the option to start a project and save it for later. For those of you with little kids, you  know that you can never get anything done in one sitting.

I don't know which one to choose - so many are great. I noticed that several of them really feature the photo as the main attraction. I think that for this year, I will choose one of the collage options, like We Heart You Holiday Card. That way I can feature several of the pictures that I like. The truth is that I will comb through these options for hours before picking just the right one.

I also noticed that the desk calendars are 20% off until November 22nd. We have given these as gifts to grandparents in the past and they are HUGE hits. In fact every year when we ask Brian's mom what she wants for Christmas, she says, "One of those picture calendars."

So check out the Shutterfly deals if you are looking to create holiday photo cards - and then send me one! Please!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Spotlight on: Katydid

photo by Jason M.
She is so grown up! The stuff that comes out of her mouth, you would think she is four years old going on thirty. She's very petite, so she often surprises adults. Some people will ask me if she and David are twins, but that is always before she opens her mouth. She can wax eloquent on any number of topics.

I have often described Katy as "intense," which has been true ever since her birth. She knows what she wants and when she wants it, and she will go to great lengths to try to make it happen. She's very persistent, and I hope that serves her well later in life.

She amazes me everyday with the new things she is learning. She goes on kicks...right now she is into puzzles and words. I bought a 60 piece and 100 piece puzzle at a garage sale in October. I brought them home and she had mastered them in a couple of days and wanted more. I grabbed all the 100 piece puzzles that the 2nd hand store had, and she rotates through them on a daily basis. She's also become interested in combining letter sounds to make words. We've worked through a few of the short vowel early readers, and Brian taught her how to copy words from the dictionary using her magnetic letters. She plays early reader games on starfall. She'll do these things for a month or so, and then get fixated on something else.

She is very social and is desperate to play with other girls her age all the time. Playing by herself is not a strong point (now that I have David, I know that some kids just do better playing by themselves). She wants organized activity every moment of every day. I'm so thankful for preschool and Awana, because I just have a hard time keeping her busy all day.

She loves her brothers and in many ways sets the tone for our family. Katy keeps me busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way. She is a strong, passionate, and persistent little girl with a big future ahead of her. I look forward to helping her figure it out.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Spotlight on: Davey Bubs

photo by Jason M.

He never gets to go first anymore, but David is sweetness personified. I think he was given to me to change my perception of having a boy, because wow, I never could have imagined how I love my son. He loves to snuggle, is very sensitive (be careful not to hurt his feelings - he'll break your heart!), and has a gentle heart. Of course, he's also a 2 year old boy. He is obsessed with cars and trains. He'll lay on his side on the floor rolling a matchbox car around and around and around and around (and around and around and around). And he has his meltdowns over terribly unjustified things like a broken cracker.

He's matured so much in the past couple of months. He seems more and more like a preschooler. He loves to read books, and gets attached to them. Last night he couldn't find his train book and he was in tears because he was so worried that it was lost forever. He pours over his Thomas catalogues, trying to name the trains and gift sets. Oma gave him the Cars DVD a couple of weeks ago, and it's safe to say that we're on a Cars kick.

I've been amazed how older siblings expose kids to things at a younger age. David is more familiar with concepts like school, bikes, letters and numbers, television, board games and the like, because of his older sister. I know Katy wasn't doing many of these things at two and a half. Sometimes I hope that it doesn't rush him into things for which he isn't ready. But in other ways, he's learning skills sooner than he otherwise might have.

Ever since he was a newborn, David has loved to eat. He hasn't met many foods he doesn't like. Of course, given a choice, he'd choose french fries and M&Ms over carrot sticks, but he will taste and eat most things. Strangely enough, however, he doesn't like cheese.

David is so much fun, and I especially look forward to those little moments that I steal with him by himself. He talks and talks and shows me more of his wonderment. I can't wait to see how he grows in the next few months into a bonafide preschooler. I love my Bubby Boo!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Spotlight on: Lukey Loo

photo by Jason M.
4 month stats: 15 lbs, 4 oz (60%'ile), 25.5 in (65%'ile)

Luke is 4 months old. He's had a stuffy nose and a cough for a month (checked out twice), but you wouldn't know it. He really doesn't complain too much. He spends more time than most in his car seat being carted around to his siblings' activities.  He's very smiley. Daddy gets him to laugh the loudest. He alternates sucking on his pacifier, his thumb, and his fingers (David style).

His sister is his biggest fan: whenever she sees him, she lights up and teases him with some kind of song, (to the tune of This Old Man), "Lukey Loo, Lukey Loo, La La La La Lukey Loo, with a Lukey, Lukey, Lukey-Lukey-Loo, La La La La Lukey Loo." Never a dull moment in his world.

After being really awful for a month or so, his sleep is gradually getting better. Most days he takes one long nap in the afternoon in his crib and then catches cat naps the rest of the day when he can get them. He's still getting up about twice in the night, but that may partially be due to some milk-supply issues from mom (a story for another day).

He rolls from back to front and then sleeps on his tummy. He tolerates tummy time much better since he started this. He likes to stand, and we've put him in the Exersaucer and the doorway jumper a few times. He babbles and jabbers and drools and spits up like crazy.

This past weekend I took him on two long walks in the jogging stroller, each of them over an hour, and he didn't make a peep. He even fell asleep for part of them. I love this sweet boy, interested in the world and just taking it all in. So glad I have my Luke.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Wishy-Washy November

I'm looking forward to November. We don't have a lot planned, I'm hoping we'll be healthier, and the weather in October has been so great that I'm hoping to stretch it out a bit. But I've been debating about NaBloPoMo (daily posts in November for National Blog Posting Month). In the past I've done it, and I've even said, "I'll do it if I can," but then I'm frantically typing at 11pm and Brian's saying, "I thought it was only if you had time?"

But one thing that I really enjoy is looking back at archives, and I've noticed that during the daily November posts, I write more about the day to day stuff, rather than Big Events, and it's nice to read that, too. So if it's only for Future Me, I'm going to try again. They may be short, maybe a few questions for you, and possibly Wordless Weekends.

So for my first question: what do you do as far as Halloween candy distribution? How often and how much candy are your kids allowed to have, and do you just get rid of it at any point?  So far this year (4 days), I've let them pick one piece after lunch and one piece after dinner. But I don't think I want to do this until it runs out - that's a lot. And they look at it so much, I know I can't just "make it disappear" without them noticing. They know how much is there.

So what do you do?