Friday, February 26, 2010


Tonight at dinner, he asks if they can take out the marble-castle thingy.

Me: Sure, I guess....what put that in your head?
Ben: I don't know, my bwain, pwobably.

Ben: I saw Pastor Glen at our church. Pastor Glen goes to our church you know.

(Yeah, we know - he's our new head pastor! Ben feels a special connection since Pastor Glen tossed a football with him at our Super Bowl party.)

This week the theme for gymnastics was "Muscle Beach". The teacher said something about being "really strong!" today, and Ben chimed in, "Jesus is weally stwong!" The teacher, bless her heart, said, "Jesus is really, really strong!" Ben then also pointed out that Jesus walked on water. My wonderful little churchy boy!

We are working on his pronunciations of things, after the success of having him "practice" going on the potty. So when he was telling us about the plot of today's episode of "The Electric Company" and totally mispronouncing "electric", I said it very deliberately, "e-lec-tric", and then he tried to repeat after me. I said, "e-lec-tric" again, but he simply said, "company," and just continued with his narration! Silly boy.

I love this age for hilarious sayings.

Between crying jags

Let's be clear: The phrase, "When Momma ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy," may be correct, but it could also be expanded to add, "and an unhappy baby ain't no fun, neither!" Adam currently is absolutely miserable, which may give you some clue into the state of our household the last few days. The poor guy is in the middle of his fourth (or fifth? we've lost count) bout of bronchiolitis PLUS is cutting at least two teeth, the big honkers right in front on top. I just spent the last hour holding and cuddling (after a dose of Tylenol), to no avail. Now it seems he has cried himself to sleep upstairs.

My counter is full of dirty dishes. But instead I am here, ignoring them. That is all.

I have taken on a "volunteer project", as Aaron likes to say, setting up an Etsy store for my mom. She is selling adorable little baby jackets - I'm telling you, super cute. And since Mom's standard for most everything is perfection, you can bet that these are high-quality items. I may contribute a few smaller items later on...when I get on a sewing streak again.

Anyway, it has proven more time-consuming than I'd thought. Hopefully it will be easier now that I've got the basics more or less figured out. Want to check out the store? It's called LizzyMaye - and I promise, I did not pick out the name. Mom did. And if she wants to name the store after her daughter, who am I to object?

I only have one item listed so far, but more will follow. Friend Tara is helping out with photos, so hopefully they'll be some beautiful examples soon...:)

Ben has hit a streak of independence (dresses himself, brushes his teeth, undies 24/7, no booster seat at the table, puts on own shoes & jacket). Also, a streak of incessant whining and outright disobedience. For instance, I will say, "Ben, do NOT flip the light switch!" and he flips that switch. Which, for this family, warrants a swat on the rear. THAT particular swat was on an undies-only rear, which surprised him a little. And last night, he decided that the slices of steamed carrots offended him so much that the two of them could NOT remain on his plate (he didn't even have to eat them...just leave them on the plate!) even after two warnings. That got him a time out. He came back and did as asked...and then ended up eating not only those two bites, but seconds & thirds as well. Turkey.

Leah had her second parent/teacher conference last night. As she told us earlier, her "report card" has all S's (satisfactory) but one S-, because she holds her pencil the wrong way. Such are the perils of kindergarten. She also had an S+, for "I participate willingly". Mrs. D, her wonderful teacher, actually got teary-eyed when describing how Leah helps classmates without being asked and is a kind & loving friend. This is a huge relief, since the social aspect was my main concern for her heading to school. Of course, whenever I see her with friends, I notice all the things she does "wrong" - which are probably all normal issues for five-year-olds just figuring out how to appropriately interact with other human beings. Anyway, I was happy to hear that my big girl is being a good friend.

Aaron will be gone for several days next week (he says four days, I say "a week" - who's to say which is true?:) at a conference to work - which happens to be in (or near? Not sure if it's a town or what) Keystone, CO. Two of his brothers are going with to share the snowboarding adventures. Meanwhile I will be at home enjoying my alone time. And oh, do I have projects planned! Mom has dedicated next week to me and the kids, and first on the list is sewing new valances for the kitchen windows. Then, I would also like to sew curtains for two of the windows in the "big room". And in the spare minutes, I'm hoping to get started on Ben's 1-2 year album. These are my goals. I will be fairly pleased to accomplish one of them.


Some housekeeping: I am now on Twitter and have a fanpage on Facebook. Have you joined yet? I'm contemplating a giveaway just for followers here on Blogger and fans on Facebook - so if that would describe you, go add Modern-Day Jane right away!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Keeping a closer eye on the baby.

Lately the kids seem to have hit a violent streak. Maybe it's the cold weather - there always seems to be an increase in violent (and really stupid) crimes during this time of year. I suppose I should have seen it coming with the discussion of the beheaded rabbit. But silly me, I thought things would stop with ONE dead animal.

And they had - until we were in the van on the way home from church one night. Aaron and I were discussing our separate Wednesday night activities, when all of a sudden Ben bursts forth with this story:

Him: "Me find a bwird and hit it's head off! Me hit it's head off wif a golff cwub!"
Us: "What!? Where did you find this dead bird?"
Him: "In Patty & Dave's yard! And fen me hit it's tail off, too!"

Wonderful. I was the one responsible for him having a golf club - kid-sized, but apparently still a good bludgeon - out in the snow. How was I to know that he would us it to decapitate a bird corpse? Usually Dave & Patty's yard would be off limits thanks to the fence, but since the snow now goes OVER the fence, it's pretty much fair game.

A few days later, I helped out a friend by watching her three kids: Miss M (Leah's age), Mr. P (a year younger than Ben), and Miss A (1 mo older than Adam). So basically I doubled my kids for the afternoon, and oh yeah! Aaron was out of town for the day. Of course I did what any mom trying to sane would do and kicked them all outside for awhile. Unfortunately, I hadn't done anything with that dead bird yet, and when I looked out the window a few minutes later, saw four kids on their bellies, circled around something in the snow. I'll give you two guesses what it was that they were studying so intently. I'm sure the neighbors thought my shrieking was great entertainment while they were making that Social Services phone call.

Shortly after this situation, Mr. P went down the slide and landed face first in the snowbank at the bottom, which cut his play time short. He came in to play with Ben's Hot Wheels. A while later I checked on the kids outside and saw this:

In case you can't figure out what's going on, that would be three kids, armed with plastic bats and a kid's snow shovel, trying to take the head off our snowman. Fortunately for the snowman, he had already thawed and frozen several times, so he was pretty icy. Persistence paid off, however, and eventually the head did indeed topple. And then Miss M sat on top of the body to really show it's who was boss.

What have we learned here? Tools sized for children's usage can only lead to evil.

How have you seen your kids' animal nature come out? Dare I ask? WHY are kids attracted to dead animals? Or is this just mine and I should start saving for the inevitable therapy?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Heart Attack

YES, I know Valentine's Day was over a week ago. I've been trying to tell my kids that since we got back from a short family vacation on the 15th. Usually I try to plan ahead to minimize whining opportunities, but this time I messed up. I completely blanked that we would be gone over the big weekend and spent 2 weeks talking up Valentine's Day and what the kids would give to their friends. Now I get to spend another 2 weeks telling them to wait until next year...

Leah wasn't so much of a problem. We found these adorable flower valentines in Family Fun magazine, and she only had to make 10 to cover her whole class plus teacher. Still, it took her several days to cut out all the hearts necessary. And then I ended up trimming them all to the correct size (that was my fault - I drew them waaay too big) and uniformity. But they were very fun, and I'd much rather make something unique than just buy a box.
This would be Ben's response to taking a photo these days, and also a demonstration of Leah's extreme eye-rolling abilities. Is there an Olympic sport for that? I smell a gold.

Anyway - we DID end up buying a box of Cars valentines for Ben, of which he gave out exactly two, since he's not in preschool and missed the church opportunities. I think we'll be keeping the rest for next year.

Leah's class had an awesome event on the Thursday before V-day - a Mother's Valentine Tea. All the moms came in and helped the kids decorate their valentine boxes. All I can say is thank GOODNESS for foam stickers. Wow. And also, what a feat of strategic planning! Take two chaotic events, only use one morning of class time, and then send all the distracting stuff home with mom! Genius.
The moms were treated to a portrait gallery drawn by our kiddos...and not labeled. Which meant we got to try to pick out our portrait...and yeah. There are a lot of dark-haired moms in that class. Lucky for me, it only took me 2 guesses.

Don't you just love that she didn't do a stick-person? I just got beyond those myself in the last few years...

Also, the kids had written in their answers to a series of questions about their moms. Honestly, I was very, very nervous. But Leah surprised me with her kindness and generosity towards her somewhat computer-obsessed mother. Here are the questions and her answers - exactly as she wrote them:

My mom's name is: ___Liz___
She is ___23___ years old, but she looks ___20____ years old. (!!!!)
She likes to eat ___caek___. (???)
My mom spend most of her time ___takeing kaer of Adam__. (need to work on silent e's?)
When we are together I like ___playing___.
My mom is the best mom in the world because ___she loves me more then I think___. (aww!)

Okay, those of you with delicate heart conditions may need to have oxygen on hand for these next photos. Aaron took them, and the absolutely kill me every time I see them.

There you go. Now aren't you glad I warned you? Did you or your kids do any especially cute or sweet for Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Back to the Books

While at book club this weekend, a few of the ladies mentioned that I haven't written a summary post or email of our meetings lately. I don't know why...maybe I got lazy, or maybe too many ladies were horrified by their conversations being out-ed! In any case, permission was given for me to continue, and so I will.

We met Saturday evening with 6 members present. We discussed The Prodigal God, by Timothy Keller. (This is kind of a detour from our usual selections, and I was especially skeptical, since as a rule I avoid non-fiction and usually avoid Christian books also. Not that I am advocating these tastes, AT ALL. I wish I read more of both types of books. But I don't. Anyway, The Prodigal God is actually the subject of a Bible study at our church, so I was rather unsure of how that would translate into a book club selection. But it did! Mostly because it is easy to read (not like Mere Christianity, in my humble & shallow opinion!) and short. For those unfamiliar, the book explores Jesus' parable usually known as The Prodigal Son - but renames it Two Lost Brothers.

Some topics of discussion:

1. Most of us are "elder brother" types - became Christians at a young age, and admit to being a tish - or more- judgemental of those who don't live up to our high moral standards
2. IA said that she identified more as a "younger brother" - lived a more indulgent lifestyle until finding Christ during college.
3. All were convicted by the explanation (and main point) of the book that both the elder & younger brother are separated from the Father.
4. Lyz said that during the section on the TRUE elder brother (that would be Christ), she started by thinking, "well, of course that elder brother should have gone in to the feast and rejoiced with the returned younger brother" - but Keller goes waaay further and says that a TRUE elder would have gone searching for the younger brother after he left, brought him back, and held the party himself. This is, of course, what happens in heaven every time a lamb returns to the fold.
5. It's usually harder for an elder brother to attend the feast than the younger brother, since their pride in their good behavior keeps them from God.
6. Since it is soo easy to become an elder brother (even the younger brothers do after becoming Christians!) it is that much more necessary to remind ourselves of God's great love & necessary mercy - and also examine the motives of our behavior. Are we "being good" because then God "owes" us a pleasant life? Or are we doing what He asks and commands because we love Him & recognize His sacrifice for us? Hmmm.... it's a fine line.

Other topics covered:
- Bacon, and the benefits of cooking it outside
- the possibility of flooding in the Red River Valley this spring, and how it's all the fault of farming in a lake bed. And then building a city there, too.
- You can reminisce all you want, but if you try to recreate the experience, you will inevitably fail. Unless it involves Dorothy Lynch salad dressing.
- Family farms cause great conflict when it comes time to "divide the inheritance".
- Babies are a sweet. And a giant pain. Reflux, diaper rash, eating...and totally unreliable. You can't even predict their size based on their siblings! And then there is the whole issue of potty training...don't get me started. I'm serious.

Other books or authors mentioned/suggested:

Annie Lamott (sp?)
The Great Divorce by CS Lewis (NOT about marriage issues...)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (none of us had ever heard of it or the author, but apparently it's never been out of print?!)
Middlesex - Which had us discussing the possibility of true gender confusion

And then we also had a book exchange, where some of us may operate under different motivations. For instance, it seems that most brought books that they truly thought others may enjoy, and Lyz simply brought books she wanted to get rid of. Too bad for N! That poor lady got a piece of smut from an airport bookstore. At Home in Mitford (by Jan Karan, the first in a series) and The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency were big hits (at least to this member). Of course, the one I ended the night with was CS Lewis & Sigmund Freud debating the topics of love, sex, marriage & God. Doesn't that sound like a page turner? Well, maybe for you.... Thanks to E for trading an Amy Tan novel with me!

The next meeting will be at G's house (again! The woman is earning riches in is her husband) on March 13th, and we will discuss our classics selection, Ethan Fromme by Edith Wharton. This is a very short and easier-to-read novel, and many of us have copies, so if you need one, talk to us first.

Happy reading!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mommy, CEO

My first two years of college were spent at a small women's two-year school called Cottey College. Cottey is located right in the center of the US (or thereabouts) - Nevada, Missouri. And no, that's not Nevada as in the state - it's pronounced Ne-VAY-da. Just so you know.

Since Cottey is a two-year school and has rather high admittance requirements (I just barely snuck in), most of the graduates transfer to other colleges or universities, including Ivy-League types. And then lots of those super-intelligent women go on to fancy -pants careers. Obviously, I'm not one of them, and I may have a teensy bit of insecurity about that fact.

A couple years ago, Cottey decided to put out an alumni book, and sent out rather in depth survey asking for current info. I filled it out, sent it in, and then a few months later got a confirmation phone call from some lady. She made sure all my answers were current, but questioned me about one. I stuck to my guns, though.

The actual book arrived in the middle of life, so I glanced through it, checked out a couple of old friends' listings, and stuck it onto a shelf. Last night I pulled it out and started at the beginning of my class's names. While looking at their schools, degrees, and careers, I was starting to feel that old insecurity creep in...What did YOU do with your education? You only taught for three years...and isn't teaching at a middle school kind of waste of all that nail-biting work at Cottey?...THIS girl was a film editor for major movie studios! THIS one is teaching at a university! THIS one started her own business! WHAT have you done?

Then I stumbled upon my own listing. And what had I written?

Well, here's the first part of the entry, (with my explanations):

Smith, Mrs. Liz. AA (degree from Cottey); '99 BA (from) Univ. of ND; (job title) Household & Family Engineer, (employer) Smith Family

Yeah baby. Now THAT's a life update. It also made me laugh outloud.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hmm, my hearing could use a tweak maybe...

Today was the big day. I got up at 6:15am, showered & dressed, let my mom into the house, woke Adam up for breakfast and then put him back to bed again. Grabbed a bagel and Aaron and I headed out the door to TLC Eye Clinic for my date with a laser at 7am.
They mercifully gave me 1/2 of a Valium right off the bat, but I'm not sure how much it helped, since the surgeon still seemed a little frustrated by my refusal to open my eyes wide enough. First they put a wire-springy thing on to keep my lids open - it seemed a little like an eyelash curler. As I stared at a circle of lights above, they put some kind of suction on my eyes which made my vision go black. It took about 10 seconds for each eye.Then it was over.
After resting in a cozy recliner for about 20 minutes, my knight in shining armor was there to whisk me away. At least, I hoped it was Aaron - I would have walked out the door with any guy wearing the same coat. Immediately after we got home, I prepared for a long nap by putting on the very sexy goggles that I'll be wearing while sleeping for the next week. With the room completely dark, and oh yeah! the two Tylenol PM's I took ...the next thing I remember is Aaron waking me up and telling me it was time to wake up. Because it was 12:45 and I'd been sleeping for over four hours. I highly recommend THAT part.
Aaron had a Culver's burger waiting for me, which meant more than just a good lunch - I am definitely the Culver's fan in the family. He even brought me a bag of chips AND a Pepsi. At that point, I felt a bit like an invalid, so it was sure nice not to have to stumble around on my own. By the way, while I was having this cosmetic (according to the insurance companies!) procedure done, he also took Leah to school, took out the garbage, loaded up all the kids to get Leah at school and let them play outside for a bit. This may not sound like much (after all, I do it every day!) but he's not used to it, and it is HIS day off, after all. Anyway, thanks honey! I really appreciated it, and could relax knowing you had everything under control.

After just a bit things cleared up and I started the hourly regimen of a variety of eye drops. By dinner time I was seeing at least as well as I had while wearing glasses, but it's expected that my vision will continue to improve for the next couple of months.
Leah refused to look at my eyes, and here's why:

I guess the blood spots (from the suction) freak her out a bit. It does look a little gross, I have to admit. Also, to get this photo I had to take it in the mirror with the flash off - couldn't keep my darn eyes open for the flash. I've always been pretty light sensitive (like, at movies when a dark scene suddenly switches to a bright one, I can't look at the screen and my eyes water), which maybe I should have warned the surgeon about beforehand.

Aaron is a bit jealous, since he didn't get quite the solid nap after his surgery that I did, and so suffered more. I have a check up appointment tomorrow right after dropping Leah off for school, and then another in a week, and then in a month.

But dude, that nap was worth it.

And the seeing without assistance is pretty great too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'll also be wary of full moons, just in case.

Today, in brief: Up until 1:30 am last night with Adam, who now appears to be cutting a 4th tooth. Ran Ben to the potty about 15 times in 90 minutes, but he did indeed poop (entirely in the toilet, unlike several times this weekend). Leah is staying home from school tomorrow, as she has a fever and took a nap at 5pm on the couch. And then only ate ONE plain pancake for supper. This is where things stand today, and it is probably all the result of our weekend.

We took a mini-vacation this past weekend, and everyone keeps asking if we had fun. We drove 4 hours with 3 little kids, stayed in a hotel for one night, visited 3 groups of people in 12 hours, and then drove another 1 1/2 hours, plus an extra 30 min for getting lost in the dark with 3 hungry & tired little kids before finally making it to Aaron's sister's house. Does this sound like fun to you?

We need about a two year vacation from vacations.

We definitely enjoyed parts, though. We love visiting our family and friends and getting a chance to bond with the littlest ones. There was a super-fast trip to Ikea that was especially fun for me, since I was finally able to get my paws on two items that were unavailable on my last visit. SIL Lisa and her hubs Mike have a great place near Brainerd, MN and are wonderful hosts. I love solving all the problems of the world with them and letting them feed me. (Want to know what I had for breakfast both mornings? Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake. I can claim ignorance the first time, but that second meal was pretty sinful.)

But. I want to tell you this little story that tickles me every time I think about it.

That first night we stayed in a king suite at a hotel, and we put both the "big" kids on the pull out sofa. It wasn't in a separate room, just a sitting area. Adam was in the pack & play on the other side of the room by our bed. And Aaron had a Netflix movie with us.

So he piled all the extra pillows in the corner of the room against the door. He also rescued from freezing in the van the 3 bottles of sparkling pear juice purchased at Ikea, and the chocolates, too. (He thought that I should wait until Valentine's Day to crack them open, but I argued that since I bought them myself -while he was kid-wrangling- I could eat them whenever I darn well wanted.) We have headphones for the kids to use in the van, and I even had the splitter with us, so we plugged them in and then watched a movie on our laptop - and that movie? Shaun of the Dead. If you aren't familiar, it's kind of a mock-zombie movie. But the gore is real. I'm fairly sure there's been few more inappropriate movies to be watching while within 5 feet of your babies.

Within minutes of the movie finishing, Ben woke up, stuck his arms straight out and moaned, "Moooommmy...sweep wif me....." and then Leah also woke up and moaned, "Lay with meeeee this tiiiiime...." I quickly got them reassured and back to sleep, but they both seemed a little too zombie-ish for me to keep from giggling.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Eyes Have It.

I finally got around to randomly choosing the winner of my book giveaway. And believe it or not, that winner is Melissa! Mel, you seem to strike gold on my giveaways. Good for you! I'll try to get that book out to you next week, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Pass it on when you finish!

More housekeeping: Are you a Facebook fan? So many of my wonderful friends and family are, and even some friends of friends who I've never met! Thanks! Now, are you a "follower" of the blog? Blogger has a great following system that lets you see which of your favorite blogs have new posts - go try it out! Well...what are you waiting for?

Okay, that's just about enough self-promotion for today.

Today was just filled with randomness. It started with an eye appointment at 8:30am. I'm getting LASIK eye surgery next week, when I will finally be done wearing my glasses. Because I have an astigmatism, I get to wear them for 3 weeks, presurgery. I'm convinced that this is a sales tactic. If you were allowed to wear your contacts right up to your surgery, it wouldn't seem like such a big deal to wake up with nearly perfect vision. But, if you have to wear your hideous, greasy-nose making, zit-inducing, ear-hurting, six-year-old glasses for almost a month first, well, THEN that nearly perfect vision (minus the hardware or contacts) seems nearly miraculous.
I haven't figured out yet how cell phones can get the Internet (or how the Internet even works, really), so I'm really trying not to think about how a laser cutting my eye is a GOOD thing.
After the eye appointment, I was a guest at Leah's school at 10am for the Mom's Valentine Tea. Okay, we didn't have tea (it was cherry 7-Up, I think) and the treats were chocolate-frosted donuts, but it was fun to have this special morning with Leah, since Aaron had the boys. The moms helped decorate Valentine boxes, tried to identify ourselves from the portraits drawn by our kids, and found out what they REALLY think about us from the answers on a brief survey. I was really bracing myself, but Leah's answers were very sweet.
Then ANOTHER eye appointment right after lunch. Ack. This one was brutal, but mostly just because of the dilating eye drops they had to use. Do you know what happens when your pupils are dilated? They let in a lot of light. Which is good, if you are trying to put a pacifier in a crying baby's mouth at 2am, or staggering to the bathroom in the early morning hours. It is NOT, however, good when you are trying to drive home at 2:30pm in a town filled with really white snow drifts. I drove home with one eye open, and was very glad that we live close to the clinic. Yikes. Thank you, Mr. or Ms. Driver who let me turn onto the street in front of them and didn't get all bent out of shape. Of course, the 3-foot drifts don't really help with the visibility.
After getting home, my eyes were still bugging out - I couldn't read any print, and a headache was forming. So I retreated and let my eyes have some self-defense in the form of a nap while Aaron took Leah to gymnastics. My very kind next-door neighbor woke me after half an hour, but I don't remember answering the door. And I think I chatted with her for a few minutes before fully comprehending who she was.
We are heading out of town to visit some family this weekend, so I'm taking a short break from the blogging business. Ben will be wearing undies on the vacation, so if you see a minivan screeching to a halt in front of the gas station and a mom flying out with a little boy, just let us into the bathroom first. You won't regret it.
What's the worst physical conditions you've ever driven under? You know, those times that you were debating calling for a ride? Or, if that answer may be too incriminating...How do you feel about your glasses? Or having your eyes cut into with a laser? Are your snow drifts taller than you yet?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Just another day in paradise.

Ben has developed a new way of sharing information, and it's along the lines of the joke, "Who has two thumbs and likes football? THIS guy," (pointing thumbs at self). For instance:

"Mommy, guess what I'm keepin dwy? My underweawr."
"Guess who wikes peanut buttah fwanwiches? Me do."
"Mommy, what wimes wif Target? Target." (We're still working on the concept of rhyming.)

And my favorite, "Mommy, what do dogs eat? Dog food. And frimp (shrimp)." Not sure where he got that one!


Leah had her 100th day of school today, and she got to spend the whole day there, instead of just the morning as usual. Sometimes I think she's getting all mature on me, and then sometimes I am thrilled with evidence of her innocence. Like today, when she wasn't sure if "Granny D" was REALLY her teacher's grandmother or Mrs. D in disguise. Or when, awhile back, she was convinced that her friend Addie was a real fairy, and had turned Leah and some other friends also into fairies. Eventually Leah put two and two together (in this case, the fact that she couldn't fly) and realized that Addie had been pretending the whole thing.


When Leah came home at 3:30, Ben rushed up to her and said, "Weah, me miss you! Me fwink Mrs. D was going to keep you all DAY!" Poor boy, he asked several times when we were going to pick Leah up, although I think that part of the draw is playing with his friend C at the students' recess time. I don't know what we are going to do with ourselves next year. Oh wait. We'll probably be busy trying to keep Adam from seriously injuring himself.


Milestone updates: Ben wore underwear all day today, completely successful, even with gymnastics this morning and Awana in the evening. He had a diaper on this morning still from overnight, but still told me when he had to go potty. Which makes me think that nighttime diapers may be on their way out, too.

Adam FINALLY choked down some applesauce tonight. For some reason, this and pureed pears have been the only foods he's resisted. And along with the increase in solid food consumption, one other thing has also multiplied: poopy diapers. I changed 4 on him just before 2pm today. Thank goodness Ben stopped crapping his pants - this baby seems to be doing enough for both of them.

What milestone has caused the most celebration in your house? Which are you most looking foward to? (Did you know that "they" have said it's now okay to end a sentence with a preposition? My proofreading just got that much easier.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making laundry more enjoyable.

Lindsay was over here the other night and scolded me for not posting photos of the completed entry/laundry room. However, I didn't really think you'd appreciate photos filled with tools, paint cans, and the occasional large appliance (shop vac, anyone?). Thanks to our Super Bowl get-together, Aaron was finally inspired to put his stuff away, as well as put the doors back on the closet.

Just a review:

Under that dark cabinet was an untiled area. And you can't see the chest freezer, which I would be standing right next to as I took the photo. Also hidden are the brass light fixtures with 2 bulbs each in them.

And here is Aaron's finished product:

Awesome, right? By the way, there's nothing wrong with the floor in front of the freezer - that's a rug that got quite a bit of abuse during its days in front of the garage entrance.

The laundry baskets on top of the freezer weren't just for show - that where they are for about 5 days a week, since I try to do all my laundry in one day. Right now, however...well, let's just say that between Adam and Ben, I've either been feeding a kid or running a kid to the bathroom ALL. DAY.

Here's another view, from the opposite direction:

Now try to picture a smallish chest freezer right next that door. Yikes, right? Mornings seem much less cramped now. And I haven't had a near-death experience with this new arrangement yet.

The memo board is from Ikea. I got the boot tray this weekend, but I think we're going to fill it with river rock to help the water evaporate faster.

That big shelf we've had in storage since moving in, since it wouldn't fit anywhere else. Lucky me that I never gave up on it! The plastic drawers in the corner will soon be replaced with something like this, which will allow for better air circulation and keep stuff from falling off the top.
One nice thing is that the infant carseat fits just right so that the tripping over it is minimized quite a bit. Although it won't be hanging around for too long - Adam now weighs 21 lbs, and the seat maxs out at 22. It will be a sad day when I have to start carting that child around!
Aaron's total remodel included: removing cupboards & counter, patching the tile, painting the walls, replacing light fixtures (new ones have 3 bulbs each), painting the doors and trim white, and put up a new shelf. He's so awesome.
What room would love freshened up? Which is most in need? How much of your remodeling projects have you tackled on your own? Who does the painting in your family?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Forget the Super Bowl. This is way better.

This last week has been amazing. I mean, we didn't cure cancer or solve the energy crisis (???) or anything, but as far as our little family goes, things are really looking up. First, we'll start with the older of my two sons, Benjamin (almost 4 years):

* Ben started wearing underwear last Sunday. He has continued to wear them when at home. Instead of calling it "forcing him to potty train", we are saying he needs to "practice" wearing undies & going on the toilet.

* He wore the undies to playgroup on Friday morning, and went on the potty twice while there.

* He went POOPY on the potty for the very first time Saturday evening! Aaron promptly took him to Target to choose a new game - which ended up being Gator Golf.

* We had a mostly-guys only Super Bowl party, and even with a few friends here he STILL managed to keep his undies clean. He told me twice that he had to go potty.

* Today it seemed like all I did was run to the bathroom for false alarms, but since this is what preceded the big event on Saturday (poopy!), I tried not to get frustrated. And he went again!

* Also, this afternoon my mom stopped by for a few minutes, and Ben told her, unprompted, that he wasn't going to wear diaper any more. Praise the LORD.

* ONE pair of undies all day today for Ben. I am so, so proud of him. This is what he said to me tonight: "Know what me kweepin dwy? My undeweawr!"

And now onto the baby of the family, Adam, who was 8 months yesterday:

* Last Monday he started sleeping through the night. Mostly because I stopped nursing him when he woke up at 2am, but the expected fit-throwing wasn't there, so he must have been ready!

* Eating solid foods has really started to go well - he opens his mouth for bites and begs in between bites for MORE FOOD MOM. On the double.

* Found his 3rd tooth, almost all the way through already! It's a top one, looks like maybe a side tooth?

* Started rolling over, from his belly to his back. Which is the "easy" way, but at least it's a start!

* Now I feel like I'm feeding him ALL DAY. He nurses every 3 hours or so during the day, and also eats a fruit or veggie with cereal twice a day. Plus whatever bits of banana or other mushy food he can beg off of us. And he is a HUGE fan of the baby rice puffs.

Basically, it seems that my little guys are finally making progress towards being bigger guys. I know this should make me sad, but I'm so tired of changing diapers and being woken up 2-3 times a night, that I'm going to push right through the possible melancholy and just REJOICE!

Friday, February 5, 2010

But the day's only half over...

Yesterday was a stand-out day for us adults in the house. I think the house won.

* The toe of my slipper caught on the 2nd to last of the steps, which meant that I took one GIANT step for mankind to the floor below. I didn't fall, but was still very thankful that Adam hadn't woken up yet, because then I would have been holding him. Scary.

* Then at breakfast, I somehow managed to put my elbow in my own bowl of cereal.

* Aaron was switching lighting fixtures, and while carrying an old bowl-like glass dome, tripped and threw it against a wall, where it shattered.

* During dinner, Aaron also tipped over his own cup of water.

*This happened to be about 2 minutes after Leah tipped over her cup of lemonade, but at least hers stayed on the table. (And at least his wasn't sticky.)

Other odd occurrences:

We've been having problems with our projector. We thought that it had been getting overheated, which is why it would just turn off in the middle of a movie or Wii game. But last night it wouldn't turn on AT ALL, so we decided that the bulb must need replacing. And there's this kind of big football game on Sunday that we were hoping to have friends over to watch...getting the new bulb in time would cost $80 shipping. So we are borrowing the church's projector. Game on!

Aaron and I have been in an unspoken stand-off about his laundry. Specifically, who will break down and put it away first. Usually I do it, but for whatever reason, I didn't this week. Or the last three before. It may be that the piles of worn-but-not-deemed-dirty-enough-to-wash clothes were too high for me to get around. In any case, I took pity on him last night while he was dealing with the projector bulb issue. It took me half and hour to put it all away, and I'm not exaggerating. There were more clothes outside of his drawers than in them.
Here's the conversation we had once we got to bed:

Me: Honey? When was the last time you wore a short-sleeved polo?
Aaron: I don't know, probably summer. Why?
Me: Because...I put your laundry away tonight, and at the bottom of one pile was a short-sleeved polo and khaki shorts.... I could swear that we've cleaned that dresser off since summer!
Aaron: Yeah, I thought so, too...
Me: Didn't we clean it off for Thanksgiving? No, that was LAST year...maybe Christmas?
Aaron: Maybe I put them on after a shower when I was overheated or something..

Here's to fresh starts!

Today, no trips, no breakage, no tipped over drinks! No laundry piles! (Except for in Adam's room, where most of HIS wardrobe is piled on the futon.)

Us: 12,000 House: 0

Has your home ever tried to fight back? What lengths would you go to to attend/host a Super Bowl party? Who are you rooting for, anyway?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

100 and counting

Ack! It's the last day of the giveaway! Go enter before midnight tonight!

Leah's 100th day of kindergarten is coming up soon, and those of you who have already reached this milestone may know what lays ahead: she's supposed to bring a collection of 100 things to school next week, and it has to be something that the kids can count and sort all week, so food is NOT a good idea.

This is also another milestone, of course: the first homework assignment that her mother does for her. Even though I have SWORN, as a former -and future- teacher, I wouldn't do that, I did give her quite a bit of assistance. I mean, she can't exactly drive herself to the store, right?

And I didn't really want to buy something anyway. Surely we had to have 100 of something around here, right?

Barrettes? Nope. Not even close, although we may have 50 roaming around here.

But I did have a stroke of brilliance with the next idea: plastic flatware. Kids stuff, not the disposable picnic stuff. These are bright fun colors, and even some polka dots!

Aaron took one look at the pile of bags on the table and asked, "Aren't you a little ashamed?" Yes, dear, yes I AM a little ashamed. Because, as he pointed out, we do have metal flatware for the kids, also. And that pile off what ended up being over 100 items didn't even exhaust the supply.

What did I include?

Ikea kids flatware - 15 or so

random brand from Target, similar to Ikea's - 12 (They were $1.40 for the whole set. You'd have gotten them, too, right?)

1st Years Take & Toss - many, many. These make up a majority of the pile. They are awesome for toddlers, and somehow (probably because of that "toss" part of the name) we ended up with mostly forks and no spoons. Or the other way around. In any case, I bought another pack or two, and now we seem to be overrun. Also, we have this brand of baby spoons, which are great, by the way.

Gerber's Tossables forks & spoons - I have no excuse. I think when I'm pregnant I compulsively buy these things.

Pooh set from Dollar Store - Not sure what planet I was on when I got these, but for some reason I thought we needed more so I threw them in the cart.
And then some additional odds & ends pieces.

I keep thinking that if we ever have a lot of kids over, we'll need a lot of suitable forks and spoons. But let's be honest here - I'm not EVER going to run a daycare, and we own a dishwasher. I'm never going to need this many forks & spoons. So when the 100th Day festivities are over, at least half of these will be making their way to the garage-sale box.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Going Bananas

Only one day left of the book giveaway! If you enter now, you'll have a 1 in 4 chance of winning. Them's good chances, folks.

One of my favorite sayings in the kitchen is: "That never goes bad!" I have a long list of things that I'm convinced have an extended shelf life from what popular (or Aaron's) opinion says. However, I have found a few things that I didn't expect to go bad...and did they ever.

Crisco: I hardly ever use it, but I used a bit to melt with chocolate chips last Christmas. It was for the Chocolate-Dipped Cranberry Cookies, and fortunately I stopped dipping before I was finished. Because that was some rancid Crisco, and the chocolate-covered parts were inedible. I ended up cutting them off and eating the non-dipped portions.

Bread mixes: In particular, a pumpkin bread mix from Tastefully Simple. I knew it was old, since the consultant's address was in Rochester (this would make it at LEAST five years old), but I thought I'd try it anyway just to see what'd happen. What happened is that I made of loaf of dust-flavored bread. It didn't really rise, and although technically it may have been edible, you'd have to be pretty hungry to actually consume it.

Wheat germ: Okay, I threw it out before actually testing to see if it'd gone bad. But I looked at the expiration date (something I've been working on...:) and it said, "Best by Sept 2003". As in, SEVEN YEARS AGO. Or 6 and some months if you want to get technical, but regardless, I tossed it.

And WHY, you may ask, was I even looking at the wheat germ? I am not exactly a health-conscious cook (Aaron has been bemoaning my fondness of cooking with butter). But my daughter's favorite dinner is pancakes, and I've been trying some "new" recipes lately, so when I found Banana-Oatmeal Pancakes, I figured I should give it a shot. You know, to earn some brownie points with Miss Priss.

Aaron was skeptical, with good reason - my past experiments with pancakes have not been overly successful. But these were a hit. Not one was left - Leah ate 2 plain (which she also does with normal pancakes - no syrup, no butter, nothing- I don't get it.) and another with peanut butter and syrup. Ben ate his one, Aaron and I had several, and Adam ate at least half of one.

I let Leah mash the banana, and she turned it into liquid. This may have been overdoing it, since you couldn't taste the bananas too much - just a hint, which may have been the goal, I'm not sure.

Anyway, they were great, and here's the recipe for you to try out:

Banana-Oatmeal Pancakes
prep: 10 min cook: 8-10 min yield: 4 servings from Parenting magazine, Oct. 2006

1 1/2 c flour
1/3 c wheat germ
1/3 c quick-cooking oats
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 c milk
1 ripe banana, peeled & mashed
3 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs canola oil, plus more for the skillet

In a large bowl, stir flour, wheat germ, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add milk, mashed banana, syrup, & 1 Tbs oil and whisk thoroughly. Pour milk mixture over flour mixture and stir until combined. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Lightly grease with canola oil. Pour 1/4 cup batter per pancake. Flip with spatula when tops bubble and edges look slightly dry. Cook until the other side is golden brown, about 2 min per side.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Now pass me that ice cream.

Only 2 days left of my Jane Austen- themed book giveaway! Go enter!

I have a problem with deprivation. Specifically, I deprive myself of healthy food. Mostly because I'd rather it go to these three cuties:

Yes, I tie-dyed their matching shirts. No, I didn't intend for them to be Vikings colors. I asked Leah what colors they should be, and she (of course) said "Pink and yellow!" I explained that the boys would be wearing them too, so maybe we should choose a less girly color than pink. Purple is still girly, I realize, but I had a feeling that the purple/yellow combo would go over just fine with their Vikings-fan father.

Anyway, back to deprivation. Several times I have opened the fridge and seen something healthy, but instead of eating it myself, I say, "I'll save it for the kids." Mostly this is fresh fruit and veggies, especially the rare things like mango, berries, etc. But even our regular veggies, I find myself thinking, "I'll just eat whatever's left." When I was pregnant, I justified eating the few cherry tomatoes that we got from a friend by saying, "It's good for the baby!" But now, somehow my own health is not a sufficient reason for those nutritious treats. I guess it's a good problem, since my kids happen to love almost all fruits & veggies. It'd just be nice if they could ALSO have a healthy mom.

Of course, I NEVER deprive myself of the last cupcake or a handful of Hershey's Kisses in the middle of the afternoon.

So I've decided to turn over a new leaf. A splurge here and there is acceptable, as long as it encourages me to eat better. I'm a sucker for Archer Farms yogurt. Their holiday flavors caught my eye, and since I'm an eggnog lover, I pretty much bought our their eggnog yogurt. And also the pumpkin pie variety. And now I'm enjoying the Honey-Almond, Cherry (or Blueberry)-Pomegranate, and Vanilla. I'm trying to eat at least one a day. That, with a glass of milk at lunch, I'm up to 3-4 servings of dairy a day, for the first time ever, probably.

A couple other new things in our kitchen:

V-8 juice. My goal is an 8 oz serving every night, just to help make sure I get more veggies. Even though I like them, dudes! Seriously, 2 1/2 cups is a LOT. Especially since that doesn't include fruits!

Rice cakes. I kind of love rice cakes, especially the Lightly Salted and White Cheddar flavors. Plus, they are crunchy and are perfect for when I want to eat but aren't really hungry. (Come on. You know what I'm talking about.)

Calcium +Vitamin D supplements. Sure, they look like horse pills. But I've been noticing that my nails aren't as strong as they were before I got pregnant with Adam. Also, the kids and Aaron are all taking vitamins with extra vit. D, so I figured I better join that particular bandwagon. Oh yeah, and I also started taking my prenatal vitamins again. I, um, might have run out several months ago and not bought more...oopsie. Basically it's a miracle that my bones aren't splintering away with every step.

Okay, so there you go. Those are some things I'm doing to improve my general well being (you'll notice, however, the total lack of a commitment to exercise!) What are YOU doing?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Waiting it out.

If you are a fan of Jane Austen, Emma, or just reading in general, be sure to leave a comment here and get a chance to win "Mr. Knightley's Diary". Go. Go now.

Let me just start by saying that from the start I was pretty sure that forcing Ben to potty train wasn't going to work. And this from the optimist in the family.

It started when Ben went to stand in a corner of the living room and started to look like he was concentrating. Immediately Aaron told him he should go sit on the potty! Ben refused, but wanted a diaper change. I complied, and there was nothing there. But since we were fairly certain that there would be #2 soon, we got him on the potty.

And boy, did Aaron work hard to keep him there. Not only did I keep him company, but Aaron got the portable DVD player set up right in front of the toilet. And Ben sat there for about half an hour with no progress, except through the Veggie Tales movies.

Then he wanted to switch movies, and it was the DVD player was the one that pooped out on us. It has been fairly onery ever since we bought it - we tried multiple movies, all which work just fine on our regular DVD player, and the portable one said "bad disc" for each and every one. Even the brand new one. We decided that we are adding that item to our list to research.

In the mean time, though, Aaron was NOT giving up. Our little 13" tv was still in the kitchen from the big Vikings/Saints game, so he tried to set that up so Ben could watch it - but the cable cord wasn't long enough.

Then he tried to hook up our regular DVD player - dragged it all the way over, found the only outlet in the area (as far away as possible) and realized that the DVD player doesn't have a coaxial input? Whatever that is. Seems that it's important, since the entire operation was then abandoned.

Ben wandered into the kitchen where I was making dinner (Banana-Oatmeal Pancakes! Yum!) - with no pants on. He asked for me to put a diaper on him, but of course we both refused. We told Ben that if he wanted a diaper he'd have to put it on himself. OR, he could wear underwear.

Well, THAT did not go over well. He spent the next thirty minutes whining and crying and sometimes laying on the floor with his butt in the air waiting for someone to put the diaper on him. Leah finally couldn't take it anymore, and started trying to. I told her, "Leah! We don't WANT him to wear a diaper!" and then she started crying, the poor thing.

Ben chips in later, "Mommy, you know why I no want to wear underwear?" "No, Ben. Why don't you want to wear underwear?" "Cause then me no run fast!" Huh. Yes, we definitely explained that ALL the people who run really fast wear underwear. NOT diapers.

His other arguments were that he wasn't a big boy - which we refuted by reminding him that almost all his friends wear underwear, even P who is a year younger- and that he doesn't WANT to wear underwear. That is his usual go-to argument. Doesn't add much to his persuasiveness, let me tell you.

In the end (ha! I'm hilarious) he put his sweatpants back on, but went commando. I don't know if we'll go through this entire circus again. But I'm REALLY hoping that Ben's attitude toward underwear changes. I don't know what they ever did to him.

The previous was written Saturday evening. Sunday Ben spent the afternoon in underwear! He used the potty when Aaron bribed him with playing Wii, and then later on pooped & peed in his underwear. And pants, and socks. It was a very gross mess, which I, of course, had to clean up. Back to diapers on Monday.

I have to say, I don't have a great discussion questions here...except, um....any good potty training stories? (Please, no more advice. We've had tons and tried lots.)