Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tidbits: Summer is Here edition

*So many things have completely wrapped up that I'm not going to know what to do with myself this week. And I mean that quite literally, of course, there's no bon-bon eating going on with 3 small kids. But to go from a weekly schedule with quite a a big empty daunting in its own way. I'm sure we'll have fun figuring it out.

*Girl Scouts is done for the summer. In general I think I volunteered for too many things this year and I will be cutting down next fall (my oldest is a kindergartener! sign me up for everything!), but the one thing I for sure want to continue doing is leading Girl Scouts. It has been a great year and I can't wait to see what next year looks like. The only thing going on this summer is that Katy's whole troop is going to day camp togeher in July (it's so close to my house, we are so lucky! some people drive really far for camp.) But I am NOT NOT NOT helping out with that, so she will go on her own and I know she'll have a blast.

*School is also done. Katy's school did a little program (a mini-graduation they called it) on the last day, and it was super cute. They sang songs about all the things they've learned this year and did the Phonics Dance for us. The kids were arranged alphabetically in order to hand them their diploma as they walked off stage, so Katy was in the top row behind tall kids and we could not see her at all, except for brief moments when someone leaned over. But it was actually so comical how invisible she was, it will be a fond memory. 

Katy and her teacher. Remember how the last day of preschool I was hoping that I'd be happy about Katy's year on the last day on kindergarten? I am. She had a great year.

David insisted on having his picture taken with Mrs. H as well. She said, "With a future kindergartener!" We'd love for him to have her in 14 months' time. *gulp*

*The biggest news of the week is that I finally, finally pulled off the garage sale, thus completing my 40 bags in 40 days project. I was able to go through all the areas of the house and got rid of more than 40 bags worth of stuff, for sure. I am really glad that I did it - things feel lighter for sure and I know exactly what we have and where it is located. My only disappointment is that you wouldn't walk through my house and think, "Wow, you have so much less stuff!" It doesn't look that different, really. Most of the clutter was hiding in closets, basements, cabinets, drawers, etc. But I'm still glad to have it done.

The garage sale was a big success. My friend Beth brought stuff over to sell and helped me so much. We were SLAMMED on Friday, I couldn't believe how much traffic we had. And I know it's a lot of work, but I really love garage sales. I love the social aspect - we talked to lots of people we know, both well and not-as-well. And I just love the idea - I've got this stuff, can anyone else use it instead of buying something new? It also helps me to see people excited to get the stuff for cheap and even hear how they are going to use it. One lady said she was going to use our boppy pillow in a residential home for kids with severe disabilities. I love to know it will be put to good use! Another woman was literally giddy about a wallet and a bag of fabric. She kept saying, "thank you so much, I love these!" So anyway, I'm a dork. I really like garage sales.

I made $315, plus $91 from Half Price Books (I did a liberal sweep of the books, CDs, and DVDs in this house). So I'm excited to have $400 of summer fun money. I'm sure that if you worked that out to an hourly rate, it wouldn't be too impressive. But it needed to be done, so for some extra sweat, we got some spending money out of it.

*It's been 90 degrees this weekend (so glad our driveway is shaded), so the big kids are currently initiating the neighborhood pool with their dad. I think that has been the most common question I've heard in recent weeks, "Did you join the pool?" So hopefully we'll be filling a lot of that open calendar with pool time. Let summer begin!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Dear Katy,

Your birthday letter is coming a little late, because we've been so busy celebrating and wrapping up the school year (and soccer and girl scouts) that it's been tough to do much else. But I at least wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed this past year as your mom.

Free Raising Cane's for a hole-in-one(ish) on your birthday

You have grown up SO much this year. Part of it is going to school everyday, but part of it is just you. I love the relationship that we have - we can tease each other, laugh at inside jokes, and sincerely enjoy shopping together.  You ask some really good questions and we talk about things that are hard to understand. You are really very helpful to me in daily life with your brothers - if I ask you to do something for one of them, you jump up and do it.

Using your new jump rope. All we could remember was "Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss her fella..." What are the other ones?

Teachers tend to love you. Learning in a structured environment is a strength of yours, so you do well and you help others. You are happy and obedient at school. In fact, you are TERRIFIED of doing something out of line, not because you are afraid of the punishment itself, but because it just wouldn't be RIGHT. My only concern for you in this area is that you keep a sense of humility. It would be too easy for you to become prideful because of your success at school. So we talk about that a lot.

You wanted a cookie cake, and I am not exaggerating, I almost burnt down the house making this cake. It WAY overspilled out of the pan, filled the house with smoke, and three days later, I can still smell it. But it tasted great.

(double click to enlarge photo)
The list you made for activities at your party. It says: "1. Nature Hunt 2. Introduce 3. Scratch paper  4. Sing Happy Birthday  5. Snacks and cake  6. Presents  7. Water games  8. Dry off  9. Go home." Later you told me you forgot "10. Goodie bags"

One way in which you are very different from me is your determination to try new things and to get it right all by yourself. We gave you roller blades for your birthday, and you are making very slow laps around the cul de sac, determined to skate as well as Benji in your class. That's the other thing: you are fiercely competitive. When I was talking to you about remembering to say "thank you" for your gifts at your birthday party, I knew what I had to do to make it stick. I said, "Remember what a nice job Rachel did at her party, looking at the person in the eyes, using their name and saying 'thank you'?" Well, not to be outdone by Rachel, you followed the script perfectly.

You insisted on getting these huge straws for your party, even though I warned you they'd be logistically difficult.

One excited hostess.
We made a last minute switch to a water paper and it was a huge success.

You have loved soccer this year, and it has been fun to watch. The other parents call you, "Small But Mighty." You aren't the strongest player, but you are trying SO hard.

I can't wait to see what age 6 will bring. First grade will seem like a big transition. I am hoping to see you grow in your friendships with other kids. You are hoping to reach 40 pounds and get out of your 5 pt. harness in the car. (I'm so sorry, sweetheart! I know that makes you angry and "feels like a baby," but it's really the safest until you're a little bigger.) 

You're getting bigger every day.

Love, Mommy

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Terrors at Night

Before I had kids, I had never heard of night terrors. Or if I had, I probably assumed it was really bad dreams. But unfortunately, I've learned all about them now, as Katy is one of the 5% of kids who have them. There is some evidence that they are hereditary, which might explain why my boys have had a handful of them as well. But Katy has had them, off and on in phases, since she was 9 months old.

The most defining characteristics of a night terror are that the child is actually asleep while it is happening, he/she does not respond to you when you try to comfort them, and he/she does not remember it in the morning. They also always happen in the first few hours of sleep, which fortunately means that I'm usually still awake.  Even when Katy was 9 months old, I could tell the difference between a night terror and just waking up upset. When she woke up, she's stand up in the crib, crying, and when I walked in, she would reach out for me, calm down, be comforted. But during a night terror, she would scream and scream, very suddenly, often still laying down in the crib, eyes closed, and if I picked her up, she'd be stiff as a board, not cuddling to my shoulder, and not calming down. In fact, I eventually discovered that the fastest way to get through it was to let her go without trying to comfort her, as difficult as that was. The terror would last anywhere from 5 minutes-45 minutes.

Now that she's almost 6, night terrors look a little different. She hadn't had any for awhile, but for the past month they've been happening about 3 times a week, and it's quite upsetting. Here's how they appear now:

She bolts out of bed, screaming and pacing in her room, shouting nonsense, almost always including "Mommy!" An example might be, "No! I don't want to! It's backwards! Mommy! Close the door!! MOMMY, NOODLES! Why doesn't he answer the question?" It's funny in the morning, but at the time, it's scary.

I enter the room, and she acts like she doesn't even see me. In fact, to look in her eyes, they seem to look past me. She continues to yell and cry and thrash. If I touch her, she either resists or she might be comforted for a second and then lash at me. I usually try to get her to lay back down. She will do it, but she continues to lay in bed yelling nonsense, screaming in spurts, and thrashing around in her bed. Sometimes I lay down with her, but honestly, it really doesn't help her and it's upsetting for me. Usually she falls back asleep within about 10 minutes, but last night it lasted almost an hour. She never remembers it in the morning. Once in awhile, right as she falls back asleep, she will wake up (really truly wake up) and it's like a light switch: she isn't crying, she asks for me to fill her her water bottle and says that her throat is dry and gives me a kiss good night. It's very strange.

A good visual image of what it's like is how demon-possession is portrayed in movies. That's what it looks like, as if she isn't in control of her body. And please let me clarify that I am NOT in any way suggesting that this is some form of possession. This is textbook night terror, if you google it.

The biggest mercy in all of this is that even though she shares a room, David NEVER WAKES UP. Once in awhile he rolls over, but I've never seen him even open his eyes while Katy is doing all of this in the very same room. Oh, that kid. So laid back.

So what to do about it? The only known cause of night terrors is being overtired. I know that was true when she was a toddler. We got to where we could predict night terrors as we were putting her to bed. Short nap today? Been running at the zoo with grandparents and getting to bed late? Night terror.

Some articles suggest that if it gets really bad, we could try waking her up 2 hours into her sleep cycle in order to break up the cycle. But I'd rather not have to do that long?

The only thing I know to try is to put her to bed earlier? Right now she's supposed to go to bed at 8, but it ends up being 8:30 most nights. She can sleep as long as she wants to in the mornings, which is usually between 7 and 7:30. That SEEMS like enough sleep to me, but we have been busy lately, so...I guess we should start bedtime routine at 7:30 so she's asleep by 8? It's just hard when the weather is nice and you just want to enjoy your evening rather than rushing to bed shortly after dinner.

But I guess we'll give it a try, because all of this screaming in the evenings? It's wearing me out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Pace Continues

David was SO excited to wear Spiderman jammies on the same night as Luke.

All done with preschool until fall. He has had a GREAT year.

Our tree swing gets hours and hours and hours of use. I break up a lot of arguments over whose turn it is.

Grammy and Papa John came for a visit and we put them to work, this time painting the shed. Katy and David helped and they LOVED it. And they were actually helpful!

Perfect weather again this weekend.

Brian and I switched roles this time - I painted and he chased Luke and brought us food. I was so thankful for a change of pace - I really enjoyed painting.

Katy wanted a bandanna like me. Once I showed her how to use the brush and how to trim carefully, she really was helpful.


After - it's the same color as the house.

Katy has been asking me for months for a pair of Twinkle Toes. They cost more than my usual $15 cap for shoes, so I kept telling her to ask Grammy for them for her birthday (Papa John's daughter works in a shoe store so they like to buy shoes).

So Grammy came through, and she is thrilled. And you can't get the full effect from the still shot - because they light up, too!

In the next two weeks...finishing Girl Scouts, finishing soccer, a visit from Oma and Opa, Katy's birthday, the end of school, and a garage sale. And then it's SUMMER!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

In other news

*We have BUTTERFLIES!! One of them emerged while Katy was at school one afternoon, and the other one we got to watch while it came out, we even got it on video. Very, very cool. So far we've been feeding them orange slices and letting them out in the bathroom to fly around. I've been trying to convince Katy to let them go, but she's having so much fun watching them.

*David's last day of preschool is Thursday!! This school year has flown by, I think partially because it's been such a good one. I have truly loved our schedule and routine, the kids have both been happy at school, and things have just gone smoothly. I'm sad to see it ending, but I also know we will enjoy summer break.  And next school year will bring new adventures - full day for Katy and three mornings a week for David. Luke and I will get some bonding time!

*We went to the library this morning and happened upon a storytime. We have gone much in the past year because a) we had enough other stuff on our schedule and b) Luke is too wild. Well Luke was so stinkin' hilarious. He sat up front with Katy and tried so hard to copy her hand motions and dance moves for the songs. He wasn't keen on sitting for the story part, but I think if we went to one aimed for toddlers, he'd be fine. I'm looking forward to doing that stuff with him by himself in the fall.

*Katy's birthday buddy and good friend Brooklyn took her on a birthday outing to Build-a-Bear workshop. (So this was to celebrate Brooklyn's birthday, instead of a party.)  Katy had the absolute best time. And Stephanie said they were so sweet and mature and kind and cooperative that you wouldn't believe they used to make each other cry on a weekly basis when they were 3. Back when we lived on the same street and saw each other often, we wondered if they were fighting like siblings because WOW. But now look at them! Almost six! And they are real friends. It warms my heart. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

*Last week I watched a video that we have of David when he is exactly the same age that Luke is now. First of all: MELT. Secondly, it made me realize how much Luke is NOT talking. I'm not worried about it, from a long term perspective. He has words and he will learn to use them. But I had forgotten how some almost-2-year-olds are using full sentences to communicate their needs. We're not there yet, and it definitely plays into his frustration, and therefore tantrums. But just so you don't think it's all tantrums from him - here's a video of Luke's own sweetness. He thinks this car is "silly."

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


About a month ago, I found this shed kit online for a discounted price, and I sent the link to Brian on IM (he was at work). If I had known the size of this project and the amount of work that it was going to entail, I don't think I would have had the nerve to start that process. But now that it's done, I'm so excited to get the mower and the wheelbarrow and the wood and all the tools etc etc etc out of the garage. And then when I have my garage sale in a couple of weeks? We might be able to park a car in there! In the summer!! (When all the kids' riding toys and bikes are out in the summer, there's no possible way to park a car in there as it is). And if we could store all the outdoor stuff in the shed in the winter, maybe we could park TWO cars in there! In a two car garage?!? Let's not get crazy.

You already know that it took the better part of two weekends for Brian to prepare the ground, level it, and build a gravel bed for the shed to sit on. The instructions said that it would take 2 people 1 day to build it and one day to shingle and paint. Let me just tell you that Brian, who is a good worker and knows pretty well what he's doing - ended up spending THIRTY HOURS (all of that time he had someone helping him, so make that SIXTY MAN HOURS) building and shingling the shed. Twelve hours Saturday, twelve hours Sunday, then he took off work on Monday and spent 6 hours putting shingles on. Not so fast, Instructions.

My Dad put in a ton of hours, and we are so thankful. He even had to go home (2 hours each way) for a night to take care of some business, but then came back for another round of work. And Brian's friend Dave helped build all the rafters and got the roof on, giving up a better part of his Sunday.

Laying out the kit and getting started on the floor.

David was patiently watching for SO long before Brian gave him a hammer and showed him how to finish nails that Brian started for the first wall. He was so proud of himself and super cute.

Sue helped me so much with the kids on Saturday. We took a bike ride to the park, made cookies, and here she helped Katy plant a hanging basket.

Sue and I took the kids to church on Saturday evening and came back to find four walls up. The only disappointment was that they were hoping to be done and they were only halfway.

Sunday morning...enter DAVE! He was determined to build the roof before he left.

...and by Sunday afternoon, he did.

My Dad came back and they got to work on the doors, shelves, vents, and decorative hardware.

Monday morning, they started the shingles.

By Monday afternoon, it's a full-fledged shed. Just needs to be painted, which can wait because it came primed. I asked Brian if he wanted to stand in front of it for the final picture, flexing his muscles. He said, "No, how about bent over crying?" Also, about an hour after this was taken, it started to storm and didn't stop for 12 hours. We really lucked out with the weather.

I know this is going to sound completely ridiculous, since I didn't pick up a hammer or a nail, but I am exhausted! Three solid days of keeping the kids out of the guys' hair, keeping everyone fed and watered (confession: we got some carry out), and still trying to keep up with the usual groceries and laundry and errands that come in a typical weekend. Brian said that one thing he's decided is that if we get a paver patio (on the docket in the next year), he's just going to hire it out instead of doing it himself. It's on record, honey! You said it!

But I am so thankful and proud of my husband - he works so hard to make our home better and better, saving us tons of money by learning to do things and making it happen. It's an awesome shed!