Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sleep Issues

Here's a sign that Ben is growing up: last night he came into our room complaining of nightmares. Well, at least we THINK that's what it was - he was saying something that sounded like "Hooper", but I think it was really "Hacker", one of the characters from Cyberchase, a PBS show the kids watch. He's voiced by Christopher Lloyd - how cool is that?!

Anyway, this period of sleeplessness drove Ben into our bedroom about 4 times in 20 minutes last night. The first time he climbed right into bed with us and tried to go to sleep between our pillows. Aaron returned him to his bed then and the next time, and then I did round #3, since Aaron said his attempts "didn't stick". Neither did mine, but his next one did, and there were no further disturbances until 6:30am, when I went to the kids' room and found both of them sitting on Ben's room gabbing away like sorority girls. Grr.

Then we had naptime. After a little quality Wii time with Daddy, Ben pitched a fit about taking his nap. (Which, I'm afraid, are on their way out entirely - they are shrinking from 1 1/2 - 2 hrs to closer to only 1 hour. Eeks.) After about 15 minutes, Aaron went upstairs on his own errand and looked in on our boy child - and then announced that Ben was MIA.

I told him to look in the baby's room, across the hall -sometimes when he's resisting or being evasive he'll hide in there. Nope, no luck. Aaron's next report to me was that Ben was sleeping behind the couch. In the room next door to me, downstairs.

People, I am not sure how this child was able to get downstairs and into another room without either Leah or I noticing, but it may be a sign that he's top-notch material for the FBI. We already know he's way sneakier than Leah - a few rounds of Hide N Seek will teach you that. He can actually hide silently for more than 5 minutes - Leah starts to giggle at about 30 seconds.

This helps to illustrate something - when you see goofy photos of kids sleeping in weird places (on their bike, the toilet, at the table) we tend to think, "Wow, that kid must have been REALLY tired!"

But in actuality, it just demonstrates how fiercely kids will fight going to sleep. They will doggedly keep doing whatever it is they are doing until sleep finally overtakes them and they give in. The backstory is that their mom or dad has probably been trying to get them to take a nap or go to bed for about 20 minutes BEFORE that hilarious photo was taken. Good thing it's not video, or there'd be a lot of weeping and wailing to go with that shot!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Colitis Stinks.

My good friend Christina has been struggling with ulcerative colitis for the last 13 years, and opted to have her colon surgically removed this past fall. Although this surgery will have obvious influences in her life, it will take away the "flare ups" that make colitis sooo much fun and hopefully cure her disease.

(Incidentally, Christina is the friend that first held an Estrogen Fest! She was also a downline - er, recruit- of mine when I was a Creative Memories consultant.)

Now, Christina and her mom and sister are hoping to participate in a half-marathon to raise money for a cure for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. They are 41% of the way to their goal of $16,500, but need to be at 50% by May 4th. Here's the link for Christina's story, their cause, and their fundraising efforts. You can make a donation here too!

Check it out!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Brief Lesson on Tudor England

Book club met Sunday night to discuss The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillipa Gregory. You know, that book that was recently turned into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. THAT one.

Member C had recommended the book with the warning that it, "May have a bit of sex in it." Um, yes. But I was prepared for that. After all, aren't ALL stories about royalty full of sex? Not really a shocker to me. And it wasn't nearly as smutty as the Harlequins I read in high school.

Anyway, we ended up giving ourselves a history lesson in the process, as we used C's laptop and Wikipedia to figure out exactly when Henry married his ladies, and how they all passed away. For the record, that would be:

Katharine of Aragon - divorced (mother of the future Mary, Queen of Scots)
Anne Boleyn - beheaded (mother of the future Queen Elizabeth I)
Jane Seymour - died (mother of the short-lived King Edward)
Anne of Cleaves - annulled
Catharine Howard - beheaded
Catharine Parr- survived him (which seems to be no small feat!)

In addition to not being very creative in naming their children, it seems that women were little more than chattel or a form of currency: they did as their fathers and/or husbands told them to do. Which is why the "other" Boleyn girl, Anne's sister Mary, is the narrator of this book. Not only did she have the chance to be the Queen (she was a lover of Henry's, and the mother of two of his children) but she had the good fortune to marry a man who wanted her to have her own mind. She chose to leave the court and the infectiously gluttonous lifestyle promoted there.

Okay - enough of the heavy stuff. We also covered public vs. private education, childbirth stories (never very far from ANY discussion involving women, by the way), how allowing princes/kings to be indulged usually leads to their own undoing (as also seen in Imperial Woman, a previous club selection), and whether or not it is really Chairman Mao in his tomb, or some wax figure of him.

Also, we discussed whether or not C's cat was preparing to bite my foot, after some very in depth sniffing, and then a bit later, an extra large "yawn" taking place uncomfortably close to the foot in question. I am a cat lover, but I DID move my foot to a more protected position. Namely, under my rear.

Our next book is People of the Book, which member IA has been pushing for about 6 months. Okay, okay, we get it- it's good! We'll read it! And discuss it May 17th, at IA's house. Be there or be square. (Ed. note - Oops! We'll meet at member LJ's house. Sorry, Noel, for the panic attack!)

(Oh wait. We are in a book club. Most of us have been "square" for the better part of our lives.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Holding my Sanity in Their Chubby Little Hands

4am - Leah awake from a bad dream

5am - Ben awake, pointing at his ear - "hurts" he says, repeatedly

6am - Ben awake again (still?), pointing at ear. Wants his daddy to kiss it. Tries to sleep in our bed. In his room, he wakes up Leah, who is understandably frustrated.

6:15am - I take Ben downstairs and lay on the couch with him. He refuses the Tylenol I tell him will make him feel better.

6:30am - Leah is crying because there's no one in the room with her, and she's bored. BORED, people.

7am - Finally, I release both children to PBS and hope I can catch on hour of decent sleep.

7:30am - Ben is crying for breakfast. At this point I start bellowing.

8am - Ben is crying to get dressed, Leah has eaten breakfast. After dressing Ben, who then says he's tired, I tuck him in on the couch and announce that I am going to shower and should not be interrupted.

8:50am - I have showered, dressed, put away laundry, changed the sheets on our bed and straightened up our closet. Going downstairs to the ridiculously quiet living room, I find that BOTH children have fallen asleep on couches. Leah is not dressed for dance yet, so I wake her up. She doesn't want to GO to dance because she is tired and cold.

Ben spends all of dance on my lap cuddling, either eating his crackers or just holding his cars. Leah is excited about class after her friends show up, and comes out of class hyper as usual.

When we get home, Ben follows me around while to do small tasks, then falls asleep on the couch when he finally gets me to sit down. He doesn't eat any lunch except for peas. Leah doesn't really,either, but that's because she got distracted by Daddy's chips.

Ben takes an almost 2 hour nap, during which I get some shut-eye, also - but not enough. Leah says she's star-ving, but refuses to eat the rest of her lunch (3/4 of a peanut butter sandwich). She finally does, after doing her cartoon-cry for a bit.

The other child has finally eaten some other food - apple and fruit snacks.

And Baby #3? He's been moving, kicking, and sticking feet in my ribs for the last 12 hours.

I'm fairly certain that they are all plotting together to drive me insane.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Protege

There is a guest blogger over at my sweet sister-in-law's blog that you just HAVE to check out.

We had 8 of Aaron's family members in town this weekend: brother Marlen & his wife Annie, bachelor brothers Peter & Bradley, brother Josh & his wife Erica (with niece MVJ!), and of course, his folks Bobbie & Clarence. Only "the boys" and Josh & Erica stayed here. The visitors arrived Friday evening, and left today at noon. And we did spend a decent portion of our time sleeping. But we still managed to consume an absurd number of beverages, including 20 cans of soda. TWENTY.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Earth Day Idea

Here's my big idea for Earth Day, which obviously requires no actual work or effort on my part: Retailers, stop printing the extra receipts! Stop with the requests for evaluations promising a chance at $5000. Stop with the coupons for products I just purchased. Stop with the extra 5 inches of receipt paper explaining the entire return policy in explicit legalese.

In fact, let's just stop printing those receipts at all for purchases under $20, especially when they are by credit card and/or for disposable items like my Starbucks coffee. Come one, WHAT am I going to do with that piece of paper?

Most large stores have credit card look-up available for returns, and a lot of us do our banking online - so why do we need that receipt? If you do, let's actually request it, instead of it being automatic.

Well, I might have gotten ahead of myself there -after all, at my beloved Target, having the receipt for my purchase has gotten me out of two scrapes:

1) I bought a pair of rubber boots, which of course went on sale the next week. I brought in my receipt and got my $5 back - which may not be much, but it did pay for my coffee!

2) On one shopping trip, I brought a top up to the register, and after a price check decided I didn't really need it. On examining my receipt later, I noticed that I had still been charged for it. Thanks to my receipt, I got the refund over the phone - and that surely would have been $18 I'd have been out otherwise. And that's a LOT of coffee!

So, let's keep the receipts. But not all the other brouhaha that seems to come with them these days! Really, my purse is already crowded - I don't need more junk.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Caution: Gorry Details Ahead

Ben woke around 12:45am last night sick. And I mean, he got sick. For some reason, I made Aaron go deal with the initial yells, not knowing that there was actually a good reason behind it this time. We repeated the scene two more times, all about 15-20 minutes apart. You know, long enough for Mom and Dad to just about calm down and doze off. Then the blood curdling cries would start again.

Leah was a champ - she'd wake up, of course, but went right back to sleep every time. What a girl!

After sick #3, we laid him on towels on our floor. About an hour later, and 3-4 more bouts, Aaron finally went downstairs to sleep since the poor guy had to work today AND is on call tonight. I put Ben into bed with me, so I could relax a bit more - at least I didn't have to maneuver out of bed quite so quickly. At about 5am we both finally got to sleep for awhile straight. The poor little guy, every time he'd wake up he'd say, "I tired..." and a couple of times wanted to go watch TV or play!

He ate 2 pieces of toast this morning and kept them down pretty well - slept for an hour, then another incident just before lunch. Immediately after he ate some crackers and plain Sunchips...then ANOTHER incident around 2pm. At 3pm I made him lay down with me, and he slept for an hour and a half while my mom gave Leah some one-on-one attention - thanks, Mom!

Then ANOTHER incident shortly after Aaron got home from work at 4:30...Nothing for dinner - he wouldn't touch the plain spaghetti noodles, but then ate a handful of grapes. I'm really hoping I don't regret that later.

He seems to feel great immediately after being sick. Like, whackadoodle great - jumping, running, climbing...normal stuff. When he doesn't feel well, he puts his hands over his mouth and his eyes get really big!

So anyway. I haven't showered today, because I didn't dare leave him along that long. I did nap for a bit this morning on the couch while they played, and then this afternoon with Ben, so I don't feel completely dead. I do wish I could make my little guy feel better, though! He's not running a temperature, and really has no other symptoms. Leah has never been sick for this long, and it really stinks because, of course, it's hampering my social life! We skipped my women's Bible study this morning, because of both a sense of social responsibility and physical exhaustion. Tomorrow Mom is taking Leah to gymnastics, and then hopefully Aaron will be able to stay with him in the afternoon so I can run errands (he has tomorrow pm off.)

But even MORE hopefully, my baby will be all better by tomorrow. Let's all pray and cross our fingers, 'cause a sick three-year old is no fun for anyone.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where I've Been

No, this is not the intro to my life story. (Which, incidentally, would read like this: Anchorage, Hebron, Bismarck, Heeebrroooon, Nevada MO, Grand Forks, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Rochester MN, Fargo)

After not blogging for TWO WHOLE DAYS and then my usual weekend break, I feel I need to account for my whereabouts. Mostly so you can pity me and my poor family that had to deal with me.

Wednesday night was the first real-ish performance of the play I directed at church. This is not just some little play, folks. It was two acts, with a cast of 20 - all in grades 8-11. The play was the "theater" part of the annual fundraising dinner theater that the youth put on - complete with free childcare on site AND valet parking (by adults!). A silent auction is also part of the evening. So yes, it's kind of a big deal.

But anyway - Wednesday's performance was just for the youth and their friends, and was just the play portion. We drove to church and ate together as usual, but from then on, I was with the students - and didn't get home until almost 9pm.

Thursday is the night we host Bible study at our house. Kids weren't in bed until 8:30pm. (Usually they hit the hay between 7:30 & 8pm)

Friday was the first night of the dinner theater. I left the house as soon as Aaron got home, leaving him not only with both kids but ALSO with dinner to make. Wasn't that so nice of me? I spent my evening giving last suggestions to my actors and watching the play from the balcony. Got home at about 8:45pm.

Saturday we all went to the dinner theater, along with my parents and a couple friends from a nearby town. This time, I went up to chat with my students a couple of times, but mostly I stayed downstairs and socialized. It was a very fun evening, and our wiped out kids went to bed at 9:15pm. Eeks! Leah was "too tired" to do anything - like go potty, put on pj's, etc - and Ben was starting to get a second wind.

Sunday we left at 9am for Grand Forks, to attend our niece MVJ's baby dedication! We were especially honored to be asked to be her godparents. After brunch at a golf course's restaurant, we headed home - with Ben sleeping the entire time, including another hour at home, and Leah sleeping ZIPPO.

So it's been a busy four or five days! But let me get back to those students and the play...

It went great! The kids knew their lines and their places - they even put in some extra funny touches! The audiences responded with lots of laughter to the plentiful jokes...most of which we'd forgotten were even IN the play. I was very impressed with what the kids were capable of, especially since we hadn't worked with the complete set until Monday night, and we hadn't had sound effects until Wednesday. (Isn't that kind of insane?! I was totally freaking out!)

There was very little I would change about the show, from casting to final touches...everything pretty much went as well as it could have. It was a great experience, and I had fun getting back in touch with two of my interests - theater and working with youth.

But man. Am I glad it's done!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And Finally...

Our photo recap has finally made it to Easter Sunday. Aaron was singing on the worship team for church, so Mom and Dad joined the kids and me at the 9am service. Then we got to our hotel buffet early enough so that we didn't have to wait for an hour to get in - Aaron got to walk right in when he was able to join us.

Can I brag for a minute about my kids? (Like you're going to stop me now!) They both sat in the service with us, and they were so good I couldn't believe it. Leah mostly messed around with her princess stickers, and Ben ate his craisins snack and then took turns sitting in everyone's lap - I would say he spent about 75% of the time cuddling. And he's not sick. Weird.

At the hotel, they were equally good. Of course, it helped that we had a table at the edge of the room, so there was space for Ben to run, and I also didn't bother stopping him from going under the table. Our table was miraculously right next to a door to the restrooms out in the hallway - really, let's not underestimate this godsend at this point in my pregnancy. I'm to the point where I take a mental note of where the bathrooms are everytime I go somewhere.

While we were waiting to pay for our buffets, we happened to run into my aunt & uncle (Mom's sister) and my grandpa - we hadn't known they were in town, but made plans to get together at our house after we'd all eaten.

My dad took this family photo for us, which demonstrates that the weather cooperated to the degree that we didn't have to wear our coats, helpful since the only coat I have now that will actually close is my parka's outer shell - oh so classy over my dress.

The angle of this photo may make it appear that "I don't even LOOK pregnant!" but it's all smoke and mirrors, folks. In other shots, it is very obvious.

Great-Grandpa Henry - I love how even though my kids only see him a few times a year, they seem very comfortable with him, even snuggly. Ben didn't hesitate at all when we asked him to give Grandpa a hug.
Leah poses in her full Easter outfit. The sweater was mine, but I don't ever remember wearing it. In any case, it's completely adorable, and after I happened to find $3 dress shoes to match it, I requested that Mom make a dress to match.
Easier said than done. We visited every fabric store (well, 3 of them) in town to find the right shade of pink. And we found it on clearance at Hobby Lobby.

Leah is obsessed lately with being a ballerina when she grows up. I'm not terribly concerned about it, though, since every pirouette has about a 50% chance of landing her on the floor. Exceptionally coordinated, she is not.
In this pose, you can better see the adorable applique that her grandma Claudia added to the bottom. Even more impressive? Grandma whipped this dress out in ONE DAY.

We ended the day with a visit to IHOP to meet Josh & Erica and baby niece MVJ. She is getting dumpling cheeks! The kids loved her up real well, and Aaron commented that she'll have a cold in 2 days. Oh well!

In other news: Tonight is the first show of the dinner theater I've been directing for the youth at our church. It's a great play, and I'm really trying not to think about it too much this afternoon. Official performances are Friday and Saturday nights, as part of the youth's major fundraising of the year.
More about all this later.
Now go enjoy your weather - whatever it is! Unless you're flooding. There's really no way to enjoy THAT.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trains, and Candy, and Presents, Oh My!

We had Ben's big Thomas party to celebrate his 3rd birthday last Saturday morning. I don't know if the other boys (SIX of them - all around 3 years old) were more subdued because it was early, or because they were unsure of their environment, or because there were no older kids to get them riled up - but they were a very quiet group!

As kids were arriving and for the first 10 minutes or so, they started working on the coloring booklets I'd put together:

I cleverly made sure I had 8 of everything, including the coloring books and goodie bags, so that Ben and Leah each got one as well.

I had planned a couple of easy little games, but as soon as those little guys spotted the train track, all plans pretty much went out the window. Which was just as well, really - we fortunately had enough trains and enough spots around the track to avoid any arguments, and they played very nicely until I decided that the moms had had enough photo ops - seriously, those boys were totally surrounded by momarratzzi.

Next activity: Decorate the mini train cakes that I'd baked using this mold, borrowed from a friend. They turned out beautifully - I used a yellow cake mix and baked them according to the directions for a couple extra minutes.

Again, what's with the mystery sideways photo? Anyway, here was my strategy for decorating: 1. Purchase blue, yellow & red ready-to-shoot frosting (blue & red take SO much dye to get right) and a variety of candies (gummy Lifesavers, Twizlers Pull n Peels, Sixlets, mini jelly beans, snack size Airheads).
2. Put a mini cake on a plate for each kid.
3. Have a mom shoot some frosting onto it in strategic locations.
4. Put some candy on each kids plate and let them go at it.

Granted, I'm sure a fair amount of candy bypassed the cakes entirely and went straight from plate to mouth, but it was fun, and they actually let us get a photo before digging in to eat.

By this time, the "family" portion of the party had arrived: my mom and dad, my Grandma (now called GiGi) and my great-aunt Marion. The kids didn't care about the order of cake duties, so they cheerfully ate theirs first, then sang "Happy Birthday" with us for the fam.

I also made this little cake, but it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped - perfectly serviceable, of course, and still very yummy. But that blue dye, I tell ya - it was definitely more "Ocean Blue" than "Sky Blue" as promised! Also, it would have helped if my square cake pans had been the same size, instead of one being an 8x8, and the other a 9x9. Oh well!

New toys! Ben kept asking when he was going to get to open presents - and FINALLY Mommy said it was time! We have the giver(s) sit in one chair, while the birthday kid sits across from them in another chair...

...and after opening, a "thank you!" and hug is only appropriate!

Great-Aunt Leona set this cuddly panda book - Ben gives it the hug of approval! This was the genuine article, but he also re-hugged the thing several more times for other photos! What a sport.

The "big" present of the day was this Thomas roundhouse playset. It has four little cubbies, and each had a new engine in it - Ben is checking them out. It was a hit, and Ben is positively in love with his new trains.

Here's the official birthday photo - Happy Birthday, our sweet Benjamin! This has been a fun year for you, full of self-expression and asserting yourself. I'm praying that you keep your goofy sense of humor and your love of helping Mommy in the kitchen and hanging out with Daddy. Mommy and Daddy love you! (So does that sister of yours, too!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Eggs - for reals!

I know, you are all waiting for the photos of Ben's birthday party...but my particular brand of OCD compels me to follow chronological order. And before his party Saturday morning, we dyed Easter eggs Friday evening. (ps - Notice how light it is outside! Pretty crazy, seeing as we still need to wear coats...)

Aaron, who is a relative newbie to dying eggs (his first time was when we dyed them with Leah!), has taken to the ceremony of it all. He makes a "name" egg for each person present. This year he was also really into using the wax crayon to make designs. Not content with simple swirls, he asked Ben for ideas - and got handed the assignments of "family" and "train". Done, and done!

Leah got to dunk them all by herself this year - she was pretty proud of herself!

Ben checks out "his" egg.

And demonstrates how long his hair is! He's starting to lean toward the Wolverine style again...

Not sure why this one got turned sideways, but these are the name eggs. What we learned this year is that Mommy should NOT try to help. I made Leah's, the front yellow one. Can you see her name? Yeah, me neither. If I'd chosen blue like mine, it would have stood a chance. Maybe.

What Mommy DOES like to do is try different dying techniques. In one of my magazines this year I saw an idea that looked promising. You dye an egg, then let it dry, and then wrap cheesecloth around it (I used twist ties to secure it). Then you spoon a contrasting color of dye over the top and let it dry again. For these, I used a double thickness of cheesecloth, and I probably let them sit too long in the first round of dye. If I had more to experiment with, I could play around with those factors. At any rate, they look pretty and weren't hard at all.

Our dozen. I take photos like these of decorated cookies and such, then cut them into shapes to use as borders on my scrapbook pages. They add some nice color and give a feel for what was accomplished, but without taking up the room of an actual photo.

In the next couple of days, I will post photos from the big birthday, and also some from Easter, with us in our coordinated outfits. I can almost hear your anticipation!

Ready for the OB ward

Leah & friend Addie are having the funniest conversation- Addie has a baby doll, and they must have been pretending "having a baby" (again). She showed it to Leah, and said, "Isn't she pretty? Isn't she little?" and Leah said, "No babies ever come out THAT fast! In real life, they stay in longer than that- that was like, a minute!"

Then Addie brought over a bucket and said the baby could go potty in it, and Leah says, "Babies don't go potty in a BUCKET...they go in their diaper!"

and a bit later..."In real life, mommies stay in the hospital after they have a baby before they come home."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Eggs

Easter is another of those good American commercialized holidays that we've stubbornly chosen to abstain from...well, that commercialized part, anyways. Of course, we DO celebrate Christ's resurrection as payment for our sins...we just don't feel that it warrants a basket filled with egg & bunny themed gifts.

How did THAT happen, anyway?

Aaron and I were reminiscing about our own Easter experiences growing up. His family primarily stuck to the religious side, but my family embraced the secular as well as the religious. Every Easter morning we started out having to locate our Easter baskets. These were regular baskets, turned for one glorious weekend into the receptacle for oodles of candies. We didn't need no stinkin' pink or yellow contraption, although we DID fill the bottoms with that second most terrifying material (behind Christmas tree tinsel), artificial Easter grass. That junk NEVER goes away, and come July is a subtle reminder of that morning spent getting primped and gorging on candy - a truly ideal combination.

Anyway. After finding our baskets, the four of us kids would eagerly wait at the door from the kitchen to the living/dining room. This was about the one or so days a year that door was actually used, and OH did it get it's moment in the sun! Finally Mom and Dad would decide that there had been enough anticipation, and would let us loose.

Our house was filled with ledges and nooks & crannies - perfect for the jelly beans, chocolate foil-wrapped eggs, and malted eggs that the folks would hide all over. And they weren't necessarily easy to find, either. One year we decided to be retro and hide some REAL eggs ....yeah. One wasn't found until a month or so later. NOT a plan that got repeated! (Although at the same time, nothing too devastating happened, either. Sorry to disappoint.)

My favorite hiding spot had a rather fortunate set up. The evening before Easter, I had absent-mindedly been playing with a black velvet ribbon, about an inch and a half wide. Just before bed I had laid it over the black keys on our piano. The next morning, during the candy hunt, I saw it was still there and picked it up. And lo and behold! between every black key there was a jelly bean. I greedily swept them into my basket as quickly as I could to avoid attracting the attention from the siblings. Ah, sweet Easter memories.

Never at any point in my childhood was my Easter basket discovered already filled with TOYS. This is a serious shopping occasion now, it seems. There are all kinds of items marketed especially for those baskets, and some parents spend a considerable amount of time debating what to put in them - although fortunately most seems to stick with bubbles and sidewalk chalk type things. Maybe one reason for my apathy to this aspect is that Ben's birthday is so close to Easter - having to fill a basket AND get birthday presents is just too much pressure.

With our own kids, we choose not to do fun things.

Just kidding.

Kind of. We don't have Easter baskets at all, although jelly beans and Easter candy is definitely around. I haven't banned Easter egg hunts the way I have Halloween parties. In fact, we went to an egg hunt this morning, for my MOMS Club kids. THIS hunt involved plastic eggs filled with mostly non-candy items like stickers and erasers. And the "hiding" of the eggs was done so as to not be frustrating for an 18-month old child...Do you have that picture in your head? Ben "found" his share in the kitchen...all lined up under the cupboards. So the "hunt" part was kind of played down, but the fun of opening the eggs made up for it. What did Leah & Ben put their eggs IN, if they have no baskets, you ask? I gave them small brown lunch sacks and let them decorate them with markers and Easter stickers. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sometimes Things Just Work Out

Today was Ben's birthday - officially. The party is coming on Saturday. But he still got to commemorate the day with lunch at McDonald's after gymnastics (where BOTH parents were present...what a treat!) and then a trip to Target to pick out a couple of presents. Which were selected by Mom and Dad. A game, Let's Go Fishing! (which we got for $5 at Target?!), and an indoor/outdoor activity, this ring-toss game.

Previously I had gone over and scoped out the scene. almost buying him this Thomas set. Then I called Aaron for approval, and he reminded me that my lovely friend Joanne had offered us her son's Thomas collection, which he's outgrown. She brought two bags of stuff to church tonight, and included was the Roundhouse! And two of the engines that go with it...leaving room for the two that he already has. I think I am just as excited as Ben will be when he opens it Saturday morning.

My plan is to temporarily put away the wooden tracks, since his interest has waned, and just keep out this plastic set for awhile.

Also, on the way to church tonight I found myself thinking about birthday traditions, and how I let Leah pick her birthday dinner last year. What, I thought, would Ben have chosen if we weren't eating at church? Chicken and rice. And he seems to really like my goulash version of chicken fried rice best.

And WHAT do you think the church (well, head chef Joy G) was serving tonight? That's right - chicken fried rice and fruit salad, with ice cream for dessert. Ben ate two adult sized servings of the rice, with seconds on the fruit, also.

Then he got to go home with Daddy and play with the two gifts we got that afternoon. I guess the fishing game was a huge hit, and the ring toss game lasted 15 seconds. AND he got to watch Daddy play Mario Kart for a bit.

I can only hope that Auntie Ruth and Uncle Aaron had as good of a day.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gripes & Greats

Gripe: If you, large corporation, own a trademarked character/cartoon, such as...I don't know, I'll just pick THOMAS... you really REALLY should also sell the license to a company such as Wilton so that moms like ME can make their little boys very happy on their birthdays...instead of leaving us wondering how on earth we're going to pull off a Thomas cake with NO THOMAS CAKE DECORATING SUPPLIES.

I'm talking zip, zero, nada. I went to Cake & Candy World today, and as soon as I mentioned that I was looking for Thomas items, the clerk (who knows everything about cakes!) immediately said she didn't have anything Thomas because Wilton hadn't been able to purchase the license from that company (which also owns Bob the Builder!) for the last several years. Augh!

And a great!: Yesterday I explained to Leah that if she had a bad dream, I would no longer lay next to her until she fell asleep - that simply would not be possible once Magnus is born. I said I would tuck her back into bed, but that was it. And last night my resolve was tested. Darling daughter woke me up at about 2am. I repeated the new rule, and she just said, "Okay." I was so proud of her! No whining, no complaining...she just got into bed and went to sleep, after another hug and kiss. *relief*

Gripe: WALMART. I count on you to provide a variety of items in one location. Today I was expecting to find cream/white tights for Leah to wear for Easter and hoping to find a Thomas T-shirt for Ben to wear on his birthday, and maybe a CD of Thomas songs as well. But no. You let me down yet again. I could find NO white tights in Leah's size - not the coveted knit tights, not even the less acceptable microfiber ones. Nothing. Except black. NOT HELPFUL.

Also, I could find NO Thomas items, although I'm almost willing to give you a pass on that, based on my knowledge of HIT Entertainment's stingyness with their license. Man, are they missing out on some cash.

And why, oh WHY do you not have a maternity section? It would seem obvious, after a spin around your complex, that your average clientel is rapidly multiplying. Just a few basics would be welcome - jeans, t-shirts, etc...these are the things we count on you for! Get on it!

Great: After 2 weeks of sharing a bedroom, and a reminder every night that Ben is NOT to wake Leah up when he gets up in the morning, he FINALLY didn't! He has never woken her up before the permitted wake-up time (that we know of, anyway) but she is likely to sleep for another 15-45 minutes after 7am, whereas Ben seems to watch for the exact stroke of 7am. This morning, for the first time, he came into our room first, and when I said he could go downstairs and turn on the TV, he did! No whining for Mommy to go with him...he was all business. I was one proud momma.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Joys of Toys: Boys

My kids have birthdays just about exactly one month apart. Ben's is first...he turns THREE this Wednesday!

And let me say right away, Happy Birthday (on Wednesday) to Ruth & Aaron! If you don't get your presents on time, know that I did think of them at least a week ago. Ben accidentally "stole" his auntie & uncle's birthday, so I'll be paying for that for the rest of our lives.

We are having a Thomas themed party on Saturday for 6 of his buddies. Yes. We will have SEVEN 3 year olds (or approximately) here that morning. God help us all. "Birthday" to Ben has come to mean a couple of things: "party", "train cake", and "new toys". Let's talk about that last one a bit more, shall we?

As is evident from the party theme, Ben loves Thomas. I don't know many boys who don't, in fact. Ben has been indulged with two sets of train tracks, one called Take & Play (smaller, plastic tracks, metal trains) and the more classic wooden set, although not the Thomas brand. I like the idea of the Take & Play for travel to Aaron's family out West. Our little man also has Thomas bedding on his toddler bed, board books, movies, a sweatshirt...and now, two bigger books - think the Berenstain Bears sized books.

Now, once upon a time we had a couple of these. But Mommy kept dozing off while reading them because they are FILLED with railway terms. It was like reading a textbook or something....boooring. But apparently all the little boys love that stuff. So we picked up a couple at Once Upon a Child (if you're a mom and have never been there, see if there's one in your area!)

Now, as much as Ben loves Thomas - and really, it's a very wholesome show, gentle & teaching - I have no objections - he also really, really loves cars. Hot Wheels, generics, and yes, CARS the movie. Our kids are nothing if not suckers for merchandising. And so are we, because so far we have bought him the movie (he's only actually seen it once...I have a feeling that will change. Very, very soon.) a set of board books, and a couple of Avon body paints for the bath. Target also had Cars socks in their dollar aisle, so I bought him his first pairs of "fun" socks there last week - no waiting for the big day to wear them!

Cars. also, for me is not an issue - I've seen the movie about 3 times (again, about to change...) - there's nothing scary, no issues to avoid, and it's actually a good movie! I wish there were not quite so many items plastered with its images, but otherwise, I'm good with it.

Ben is also into guns. I'm not sure how, but he has figured out how to point one and make the appropriate sounds. And let's be clear: HE DOES NOT OWN A TOY GUN. And we're not in a hurry to change this, Grandpa. He doesn't have any GI Joes, watch any TV shows that have shooting, or read any books about guns. His father doesn't own a gun, and I don't recall him watching Grandpa target shoot...So for now I'm blaming this fascination on his friends and McDonald's Happy Meal toys, which are frequently characters from shows waaay above his age level. It's either those or another Ronald McDonald bath toy, folks.

Items that have been used as a gun by Ben: golf club, ping pong paddle, block, fingers (the classic), napkin holder from kitchen table.

One of MY favorite toys is the Little People collections...I may have a slight compulsion regarding them...if I see a deal on one, I almost literally can't resist it. The kids have the house, farm, parking garage ($1 at a garage sale!), and now a railroad (ebay deal!). I meant to give it to Ben at Thanksgiving, but decided to wait for an opportune, being housebound during a flizzard? (Flood + Blizzard. Can't claim credit for that one!) I brought it out and it's been a big hit. Little do the kids know that there is ANOTHER set downstairs that they've never seen - Main Street of a town. And it has a couple of vehicles with it - $5 at a garage sale! Aaron is seriously questioning my sanity. But don't worry - they are not all available to play with at the same time.

My mom has several of our old sets at her house, and the kids adore those as well. Gotta admire the longevity chops on those Little People.

Ben also enjoys some non-typical boy toys: Littlest Pet Shop (more about this in my girl toys post later...), baby dolls, and of course, stuffed animals. Especially Leah's, it seems. Books are always a winner, too, as well as balls and things to hit them with.

So far, we haven't found too many things that we (me) are opposed to - unlike with girls toys....

What toys do your kids love/hate? Or, what do you remember loving when you were little?

Friday, April 3, 2009

When Did You...

American Baby has an article this month about the whens, whys, and hows of letting go of certain baby habits. They give solid advice, but I thought I'd share my own experiences with a few of these items:

Pacifier: Leah had hers until about 16 months. By then it stayed mostly in her bed, but when we decided to get rid of it altogether (because of the late night wake-ups to retrieve it from the floor!) we went cold turkey. No nuk. Nothing.

We thought it would be much harder. For about a week, she fought her naptimes a bit, but we just ignored her yells, and she'd still go to sleep. At night, you wouldn't have known anything had changed!

Ben had his a bit longer, because at about 16 months we flew to Rhode Island for my brother's wedding. I overruled Aaron, and said there was NO WAY I was flying across the country with a 1 1/2 year old and no pacifier. But we got rid of it a few weeks after we returned, in much the same way - and the same results- that we had with Leah.

Naked Time: Um, still working on this one. We try to keep at least pants on Leah - she can take her shirt off if there is no one visiting (this includes grandparents). How do we really explain to her that it's okay for Ben to have his shirt off cause he's a boy, but she can't, cause she's a girl? Doesn't make sense to her, since they look exactly the same!

Ben has become convinced that anytime he comes in from outside his pants need to come off...thanks to our early puddle-splashing this spring. He has to at least have pants (and shirt) on at the table. And if we have company. I know, we are very hard-core.

Afternoon Nap: Leah hasn't napped in the afternoon regularly since she was 2 1/2. At that point, it was maybe an every-other-day thing, or even less than that. Then I realized that it was taking me longer and sapping more of my energy to try to get her to nap then I would use if I just let her stay we started quiet times. She listens to audiobooks, books with CDs, or music. Quiet time is done when Ben wakes up, but sometimes it extends three hours...!

Ben is our sleeper. He continues to take an afternoon nap, and he turns 3 next week (next week!) . In fact, he walks up the steps holding my hand, and shuts his eyes as soon as he lays down. I think he looks forward to it, although every once in awhile he'll fight it, if there's something interesting going on downstairs. Can't say as I blame him, but I swear he puts up the fight just to make us look bad! And then as soon as we get out of the room he starts yawning and rubbing his eyes. Stinker.

Both kids go to bed happily between 7:30 & 8pm, and get up around 7am. I really don't know what I'm going to do once Ben stops napping...I'm not sure he's the type of kid who will happily listen to stories by himself. We'll see!

Because Momma is NOT ready to give up her naptime...not entirely, anyway.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

This Stupid House

Let me get this out of the way, first: In general, we love our house. It is in a great location in a great neighborhood, has an awesome floor plan, yadda yadda yadda.

But we are gradually discovering some very stupid things about it, too.

For instance, that the wet bar was place on TOP of the carpet, not on the cement floor underneath. Which meant that the entire bar had to be taken apart and moved when a drain clogged and we had water on that carpet.

And that when the siding was changed at some point in the past, the ventilation wasn't done properly, which led to water damaged walls & ceiling in a bedroom. (Currently in the process of being replaced.)

And for some reason, the tub's faucets in our master bath will immediately shoot out water of the correct temperature with a hurricane's force, but the shower immediately next to it needs 5 minutes warm up time, with much LESS than hurricane-type water pressure. Why? We're not sure.

The latest discovery came this morning. The kids and I had emptied everything out of their (now shared) closet so that Aaron could paint it. He and I were hanging out in there, discussing various plans...I was saying how I really wanted a new closet system because that one drives me nuts - it has a shelving system in the middle, but the shelves are so deep I can barely reach the back. But really, it's an okay set up, so we went back & forth trying to decide: get something different or put up with "okay"?

We started dismantling the present system and soon our decision was made for us. Instead of putting the shelf on TOP of the carpet, they cut it away for the legs. Which means there are two long skinny cuts in the floor of the closet. The floor trim was cut around the shelf, too. BUT THE SHELF WAS BARELY ATTACHED TO THE WALL. One screw. Which didn't even go through the Sheetrock - we didn't need any tools to remove it entirely. So why on earth didn't they take it out for the carpet install?

Anyway, as Aaron said, we're sticking with what we've got. Maybe we'll paint it white to make it less hideous. I'll post photos later...

And we'll just wait in anticipation for the next stupid thing to present itself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Public Service Announcement

During a visit several years ago, a dear friend and I were visiting about our current lives. I was listing the different activities I was involved in, and she said, very calmly and understandingly said, "Yes, Lyz, but you've always been such a busybody." I was a bit taken aback.

Later when I repeated the conversation to Aaron, he was surprised I wasn't more offended. But I explained that she hadn't meant it as an insult...she literally meant that I was a busy body - always doing something, going somewhere.

BUT that is NOT what "busybody" means. And I've run into several sweet friends who also think it means being active. So I'm here to clear the record. If you tell someone that they are a busybody, no matter how innocently you mean it, they may take it as a complete insult, because it actually means that you are a huge gossip, always involved with other people's business.

But don't take my word for it. Here's the Free Online Dictionary definition:
n. pl. bus·y·bod·ies
A person who meddles or pries into the affairs of others.

And another definition, and yet another.

THIS product seems to support this definition. What better tool for a true busybody?

But confusing matters is THIS company, for exercise equipment. However, their name is Busy Body - two words. Which makes me think they are actually playing on this derogatory word. Still, not helpful with clarification.

Even worse? This company, which is called Busybody's Student Laundry. Now, unless they are going through your laundry looking for details of your activities, the name is incorrect. Unless it is owned or operated by someone with the last name of Busybody. Which would be unfortunate.

Making me wonder which definition (the correct or incorrect) they were working on is this product: the BusyBodyBook, a scheduling book for moms. It's actually a pretty cool looking tool, but I'm wondering if its name is based on the fact that you can see what everyone is up to (CORRECT definition) or because everyone is so busy (INCORRECT definition) that you need a special notebook to keep track of them.

If you have been functioning under the misconception that "busybody" may be an innocent, neutral description for a person, I hope this post serves as a warning: YOU MAY BE SERIOUSLY MISUNDERSTOOD. And people may be offended and think poorly of you.

That is all I am saying here. Just doing what I can to make the English language a bit clearer.

Here's another post about words/phrases that threaten to push me over the edge. And yet another.