Thursday, December 23, 2010

In Which Specifics Matter

Mommy: Savannah Lynn! Do not wipe your nose on your shirt!
Savannah: Sowwy Momma. (wipes nose on mommy's shirt instead)
Mommy: Sigh.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

In Which We are Sick for Christmas....Again.

I guess that I can hold out a little hope- we do have a few more days...but our track record isn't great!! Austin and I were discussing Christmas Eve services and I said the plan was to go to the 5pm Children's Service and the 11pm Midnight Mass.  Austin replied we'd never gone twice before, and I explained that we'd never all gone twice, but it's always the plan.  Children's service for the kids and Midnight Mass for mommy.


We really "like" to be sick for Christmas around here!! So far I've parked Austin at home with a sick kid or sent him to church with well kids while I sleep off something every year but 2!! This time it started 2 days ago with Savannah running a horrible fever and that turned into tummy problems and coughing/sniffling.  Now Logan is laying in bed with me sniffling away and getting warmer by the minute and both mommy and daddy are feeling pretty low, too.

Secretly (well, not so secretly now), I don't mind caring for sick babies.  Of course I want them to be healthy, but taking the time to snuggle and read and watch movies is so special, because I remember how comforting my momma was when I was small and sick.  I hope that my kids remember that, too.

Plus, at least there are lots of fun Christmas movies on TV! I'm still waiting for the claymation ones (like the Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus is Coming to Town) but we've watched lots of other cute ones as Savannah has drifted in and out of sleep snuggled up on me. I don't enjoy all the goop coming out of her, but there is something very special about being able to comfort her the way only a mommy can :)

Prayers that we're all healthy for Christmas and that Riley stays well are appreciated!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In Which We Purge Christmas....And Also Elf Away.

I seriously backed off of Christmas this year.  In the past I've let it way over stress me, mainly because I've tried to make Christmas the major production that my mother (who I love, please don't get me wrong) makes it.  She did such a great job of stressing, decorating, baking, polishing, tweaking, wrapping and making magic for us.  With my kids, though, I've never really wanted Christmas to be quite the way it was when I grew up, even though it was perfectly magical. I really want our Christmas to be about family and tradition and most of all about Jesus.  Over the past few years I've really frustrated myself trying to make Christmas what I want it to be, and "competing" with my mom, who will buy 3,000 presents by the time it's all said and done :)

This year, mainly because I'm totally burned out on other areas of life, I really let it go.  I let go of competing with her on the number of presents we buy, because honestly, our kids play with 3 or 4 of them and then forget about them.  I let go of freaking out about stringing 4,000,000 strands of lights in the front of our house because it's always frustrating to me that Austin doesn't "man up and hang the lights" so I did wreaths with bows and called it a day.  I think next year I'll buy pre-lit wreaths and be perfectly happy.  I let go of going to as many events and parties as we could cram in, and instead I filled our days with family projects.  I kept our advent devotions.  I kept the tree.  I kept secret shopping trips and the nativity scenes and ice skating. Also, the homemade thank you cards, but only because we really like painting things.

I let go of individually made cards and got free ones from Shutterfly for writing about them on my PWC Moms blog. And you know, somewhere in the purging, I found the joy of Christmas again.  My kids and I have enjoyed the snow, and the reading, and the making treats for other people.  We haven't stressed or run all over the place any more than we normally do, and I've actually worked to cut that down, too, so that we can savor the season.

I still think that Christmas has been great so far for us.  By not deciding that I have to do the nine million things I've made myself in the past, we've allowed ourselves to do what is special for us this year.  For example, my kids apparently love gingerbread houses.  This is the 5th one we've done.  It's got chocolate rocks on the sides.  How awesome is that!
 I've also tried not to freak out so much about the baking.  I bake with our kids all the time, but during Christmas I want things to be perfect, so I tend to micromanage or do it myself.  So this year, since I know it's really fun and special for them, I've picked things they can do.  We did chocolate dipped pretzels tonight, which ended up with around 6 different non-matching toppings on them but are still cute, and we also did gingerbread man cookies (I told you they love the gingerbread!!) I also decided that I'd chill out on the monstrous cookie platters we end up doing for our neighbors and share some of our home-canned goodies instead, so I've started getting some salsa and peach butter ready to go out.  We're caroling tomorrow (keeper!!) so we'll hand out goodies to our neighbors on Saturday.
 I think that for next year there are a few more things I'll bring back, but for this year, this minimalist Christmas has really helped me figure out what I really want to have in our family's holiday, and what I, and our kids, don't need to be happy and joyful during the holidays.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Which We Celebrate an Awesome Little Man

I still cannot believe that this little monkey baby turned into a SEVEN (7) year old this week.


It just absolutely blows my mind.  He is so very much the person that God created him to be- he held his head up just a few minutes after he was born and kicked and screamed until he rolled over at 6 days old. He still will not hold still to save my life.  He looked and explored and marveled at things from the minute his eyes focused in the light- and he still wants to know everything about everything.  I never thought I would say "Hold on, I'll google it" so much in my life. Aunt Elaine is visiting this week and Riley instantly had questions for her like "How many species of plants do you have in Texas that we don't have in Virginia?".

He reads.  I'm not going to lie- that was difficult for the two of us.  He needed to learn to read and I couldn't remember learning because I'd done it since before I was in preschool.  But my sweet boy reads and absorbs information and writes books in his spiral notebooks.  The first time I listened to him choppily reading a chapter book, I cried.

Big old round tears.

I just cannot believe this little thing who used to go all Dracula on my shoulders when he was hungry has turned into a person.  He reads, he prays, he wonders and he knows so many things that he's learned or that he believes or that he postulates.  He is so amazing.  We are such a blessed family to have him.  I have never seen a child who is a better big sibling.  I think I hit my brother way more than I ever helped him and Riley, although he has the occasional temper, ties shoes and fetches blankets and gives huge hugs and tells mean big kids to BACK OFF MY BROTHER.  There are just no words for how incredibly full and happy he makes our lives.  And I, for one, am so thankful to God for letting me have him.

We spent Riley's birthday exploring Skyline Cavern and then hiking at our favorite Christmas Tree Farm.  Uncle Kevin and his girlfriend Lauren joined us and we had a great time.  A mad scientist party is in the works for his classmates.

Happy Birthday little man.  We're so very proud of you and who you're becoming.

Friday, November 19, 2010

In Which We Breathe a Sigh of Relief

It's a month to be thankful, and I am so very very thankful that the (stupid) Gala is over.  It was really stressful to me because I didn't feel like I could get the support that I needed from other volunteers, although in the end I was tremendously blessed by several of them.  I feel like our lives have calmed down tremendously, which is great because we're coming up on the holidays and Riley's birthday! I'm so happy to have more energy and focus for my family!

I thought I'd share a few pictures:

This was our table of prizes that the principal put up with some help from the teachers displaying many of our items that wouldn't "walk away".  It was a great way to get the kids excited!
Riley's teacher was so awesome about helping out! She offered a day of baking cupcakes with a student and my friend Martha, who's also a teacher, went to classrooms to help make crafts.  This is Riley's class' contribution- they're Turkey Placemats.  We won both :) We couldn't help ourselves! I think these would be really really cute with just one handprint in the middle, too, for family placemats.  The kids dipped their hands and fingers in one color and then painted over with the other colors to make "feathers" and a beak.

I have a quote on my facebook from Top Chef- "I rarely do anything without a deep fryer and glitter".  I actually don't use a deep fryer that much, but I do love glitter!! We had a workday on Veteran's Day at my house and embossed bags and programs and strung beads for the centerpieces.  I was happy to have the company and everyone did a great job! I've never had a heat gun, so we used my flat iron to emboss and it actually worked really well!!

And here's a picture from the event.  I think everyone had fun! 

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Which Mommy Drinks Wine Every Day

This weekend was my weekend to work at the Jewelry Store.  I really like it there, but I make absolutely no money.

You should see my pretty new baubles, though :)

Saturday, Austin took the kiddos to a Halloween Party (first of several!) at our friends' house in Alexandria.  The kids had a fantastic time roasting marshmallows and bobbing for apples. Their costumes aren't completely done (although they keep changing their minds) so they wore ones from past years.  Riley was a Transformer and Logan was a Ninja and Savannah wore a Disney princess dress.  Austin also burned his hand on Justin's outdoor grill. (Side note: Metal with fire below it gets hot!)

Sunday I was also supposed to work, but it ended up that the office manager was sick and I got to have the day off! That meant that I could join the family for a trip to West Virginia to see my Godmother, Beth, and her family. The drive it always gorgeous this time of year with lots of farms, vineyards, and trees along the way! Aunt Beth fed us some tasty food and helped the kids carve pumpkins and make tie pillows.  It was awesome!

Logan, however, decided to engage in this little gem:

"Aunt Beth, my Mommy drinks wine"
"Oh really?"
"Yep. She drinks it every day"

This is false.  In fact, it's very false.  Austin enjoyed laughing at me get embarassed, though- he seemed to think it was pretty funny.

I'm leading a small group for children at church on Sunday and I'm excited.  I think I'm going to use the pumpkin lesson- it's one of my favorites! If you've never done it, you basically start with a pumpkin and talk about how the pumpkin is a lot like a person.  Open the pumpkin up by carving off the top and talk about how when we do bad things like lie or disobey our parents, it's like having yucky stuff inside of us.  Jesus, though, can take those yucky things away. (Empty the seeds and goop- they make a tasty snack if you roast them!) But, that's not enough, because just taking out the yucky stuff leaves the pumpkin empty inside.  Jesus wants to fill us with his love (put in a candle).  But he also wants us to share that love with others, so he wants to transform us to share his light! (I usually put the lid on and we sing the this little light of mine song)

The face I carve goes with this poem:
I am a Jack O’ Lantern

My lights will shine so bright

For I’m a Christian pumpkin

My symbols tell what’s right

My nose is like the cross

On which our Savior died

To set us free from sin

We need no longer hide

My mouth is like a fish

The whole wide world to show

That Christians live in this house

And love their Savior so!

The story starts at Christmas

My eyes are like the star

That shone on Baby Jesus

And wise men saw from far

My color, it is orange

Just like the big bright sun

That rose on Easter Day

Along with God’s own Son

And so on Halloween

Let’s set our pumpkins out

And tell the trick or treaters

What God’s love is all about!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In Which I am a Bad Mommy?

So here's the thing.

I do all of these things to be a good mom.  Like volunteering in Riley's class and being involved with PTA and saying yes to being a den leader for boy scouts.....

But when I'm feeding my kids dinner out for the 3rd night in a row, I have to wonder if "being a good parent" isn't getting in the way of me being a good parent.  And I don't mean that to discourage other people from being active in leadership of children and children's groups, because for heaven's sake, if we all did a little, then the same 10 of us wouldn't end up doing it all.  Or at least trying to do it all.  Which would, seriously, make things way more fair.

It would also make it easier for me to make dinner.

(Okay fine, also if I wasn't running so far behind because I let my car run out of gas thinking I could squeeze just one more meeting in before I stopped.  That probably would have helped, too.)

I also have to wonder how my kids benefit from me being the only leader in their lives.  I always push that children need positive role models other than their parents, but how many are mine really getting? I've read the studies, for example, that say that kids need to hear people besides their parents telling them about Jesus.  If I'm always the children's pastor- who's stepping up to tell my kids that Jesus loves them besides me? Do I leave them at a church without me so they get other people to tell them? Not that that's an issue right now, it's just a thought that's occurred to me several times in the past, especially at my last "work church".

This next week I'm going to work really hard on finding more balance in our lives, despite all the things I'm trying to do.  It's such a shift from summer and I know that I should give myself more room to adjust, but I've never enjoyed failing (or mediocrity for that matter- although it seems to be my speciality lately) so it's difficult for me to admit that I need to re-find my groove.

In other news, somewhat related, Logan, Savannah, and I went to speak to the French Honor Society at the high school today because they're helping with our Multicultural Festival.  They are led by my former French teacher.  I still understand French really well, but to speak it? I totally lack the confidence especially when the first sentence out of my mouth is incorrect (pendant que vs. depuis my bad) and the little snot in the front row points it out.  I totally deserved that- I was SO that girl in High School.  However, the cute part was the whole club exclaiming that Logan looks JUST like Le Petit Prince when we walked in.

I can see it. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Which We Travel to Philadelphia

My friend (who was originally Austin's friend...but I usurped her during a time of great emotional need- thanks Claire!) is moving to California to take a job in her now PhD-ed field.  It's a great opportunity for her, but I knew that since she'd be moving across the country seeing her this weekend was my last shot! The weekend was not without errors (for example me deciding that we could stay after driving up for dinner because "I worked at the Jewelry store LAST I think I'm good!" ended up being did the notion that the traffic wouldn't be bad going north).  However, we had a great under 24 hour trip!

Austin couldn't go with us, so the kids and I hopped in the car and headed up alone Friday afternoon thinking we would head up and meet Claire and Evan for supper.  That didn't happen because the traffic was horrendous.  However, we did have cheesesteaks at 10:20 pm.
Tony Luke's!!! Nice!!  We ended up staying with Claire and Evan and the next day (after an angry phone call from the aforementioned work and me freaking out because i.hate.messing.up.) we decided that we would see the PMOA (aka ROCKY STAIRS!!) and then we checked out the Franklin Institute. It was really weird for me to PAY for a museum!! I've decided that I will toss some money in the basket at the Smithsonian from now on because OhMYGoodness was this museum nowhere near as good and it cost $50 for us to go in!!  I think that maybe churches should try this technique because I never appreciated our fantastic FREE Smithsonians so much until I went somewhere that charged and wasn't as good!!

However, the kids and I still had a fantastic time and we were so happy to say goodbye to Claire and Evan.  We hope they have a safe and easy trip to the West Coast!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

In Which I Recap The ENTIRE Summer

Hmmm.....I think that journaling is a spiritual discipline...which would explain why I am so freaking bad at it!! I also think that many things have fallen by the wayside for me as we've gotten closer to school, so hopefully now that some type of order is returning to our lives, I'll be a little better about leaving a legacy for my children. (Or, alternatively, leaving something for everyone to laugh at!!)


So.  Summer. My last post was July 1stish.  So I will now recap our summer using my facebook statii as my guide :)

We played with friends.  Lots of friends.  At awesome places like Burke Lake Park and the Sprayground and the Pool and our house for BBQs and smores and fun.  We went to the Dale City 4th of July Parade and the P-Nats Game and Fireworks.  Savannah left early with Daddy and thinks fireworks may be the 8th level of Dante's Inferno.

I also tried to be reasonably brave and let Riley be a little more independent.  I try really hard not to be a helicopter parent, but so many bad things happen and I think especially as someone who worked for a church and got training in all the horrible people out there, it makes me nervous.  I let him walk down the street to talk to a friend and cross the street and play at Kendall's house without me.  It was kind of a huge deal with tears and hyperventilating.

For me.

He was fine.

So.  The week after 4th of July, my mom and I took the kids to Myrtle Beach thanks to my VERY generous bosslady and her VERY awesome sister who let us rent their awesome condo for next to nothing!!  We had a great time in the water and relaxing and visiting a local children's museum.  We also went out to lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe one day! It was very awesome :)
Then we did some VBS.  High Seas Adventure and Egypt (where we did makeup and Ema Anne came along for the ride!!) and a kind of neat one done by a local Episcopalian church where they just all met up in someone in the neighborhood's yard!!  Savannah helped.

We went with our friends the Lamonts to Williamsburg and did Busch Gardens and Water Country and a brief (and unpaid) tour of Colonial Williamsburg.  We also visited the Yankee Candle Flagship store and made our own candles and saw Santa (in Bermuda shorts!) It was awesome!

I went a little crazy for 2 weeks and did nothing but scrub my house and take the kids to the park.  And bake.  It was almost like I was nesting, but minus the pregnant part :)  We made foccacia and cookies and dinners galore! And I think we enjoyed every park on this end of the county!!  Then we were dirty and needed baths.  So we did that.
                                                         Multitaksin- Ur doin it Rite.
We went to the beach for our annual trip with my family, which was fun to do, but also a little bit of the stinky because there were millions of jellyfish and lots of stormy days.  We got to meet Uncle Kevin's new "friend" Miss Lauren- and we all think she's pretty awesome :)

Ema Anne came for a visit and not only helped with VBS (she hasn't converted yet that I know of....but we would love to have her on team Jesus- she does some mean VBS makeup!) but also helped me put up some peaches from the farmer's market into frozen sliced peaches and peach jam.  Yum-o!

I cleaned out the PTA closet and with the help of some awesome friends and fellow suckers, got the budget, audit, bylaws and calendar planned for this year.  We're doing some really fun stuff together and I hope it all works out!!

I was reminded I am not a United Methodist. And, that Table-Flipper Jesus is still my favorite Jesus.  He's the same one who likes Kids and Sick People and the Poor.

We went to the fair.  It smelled terrible and felt greasy.  The kids got to see their first ethnic rumble between two groups of teenagers.  That was unexpected and not fun.

We.Read.7,000.Books.  And enjoyed our county's fabulous summer quest program.  We went to Vienna and watched the Great Zucchini.  He needed more of a shirt, but the kids enjoyed him anyway.

Auntie Elaine moved to Texas and Everyone Cried.

(This picture is actually from High Tea at the Willard Intercontinental for my momma's birthday, but it's the picture of Elaine that I have right now....and high tea is FULLY AWESOME!)

We babysat.  A lot.  And Logan explained me:

 ‎"Some mommies are nice, and some mommies are mean. My mommy is mean, but her rules are fair and she has them because she loves us."

Nice Logan.  Thanks. 

I got to see my friend from college, Jess, who came down for DanceSport.  We went to LuckyStrike lanes for date night with the Meeks'.  We bought school supplies and baked more and had fun and fell into bed exhausted and woke up excited.  We watched Derelict Dog with friends in Occoquan...and subsequently spent hundreds of dollars on Belgian Beer with friends.  Multiple times.  It was great :)

It was a fun summer.  A tiring summer.

And then, I had a glass of Lambrusco.  And watched the days get shorter and my children get older and smarter.  And waited both excited and sad to see them go off to school again.

And had a little more of that Lambrusco. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In Which Summer Continues

Being as I completely failed as a mom this year (which I'm blaming on the incredible bout of depression followed by the adjustment to the fabulous happy drugs) I didn't really plan our summer.  Not in the way I have previously planned our summers, anyway.  Typically, we have a THEME!! for each week (like pandas! Let's make panda crafts and panda snacks and read books about them and go to the zoo!) so that I'm prepared and have the kids occupied.  This year, not so much.  I'll add it to my mother of the year application, fear not :) 

Last week was fairly easy because of VBS (which Logan wants to go to AGAIN!!) but this week I've actually had to keep them busy, especially in light of my anti-TV declaration.  The good news is that my children are fish, which means I can keep them busy for at least 90 minutes swimming at grandma's house (yay for a pool without tons of random people in it!! I'm sorry, I'm just grossed out by public pools, especially (shudder) the ones with overly warm pee receptacles baby pools).  By the time we drive 15 minutes there and 15 minutes home, that's 2 hours of quality entertainment!! Unfortunately, with kids that wake up at 7 and go to bed at 8, there are still 11 more hours to fill.  

Fear not, however, because we have now gone on a quest with ED Hirsch using some fabulously outdated books of his:
OOOhh yeah son!  It's What Your First Grader NEEDS TO KNOW! Hirsch uses the theory that we need to have a firm understanding of some cultural stuff so we can all....(okay, fine, I admit I didn't read the intro- but my mom used these books with us each summer and saved them all so they're free!!! Plus, he works at Mr. Jefferson's University, so he must be smart) Our edition is not revised, which mainly matters in Geography, but luckily Riley isn't enough of a reading fan to notice the map says "Soviet Union" on it.  Whatevs.

We are also huge fans of workbooks in Casa de Kotlii.  Especially the ones that come with bonus stickers!!! Those things work as motivation for anything.  However, WYFGNTK (that's not as catchy as EVOO, is it?) is working for me because it gives us lots of projects to work on.  The science section this week is about the Physical World, including a fun-filled discussion of minerals, which lead to the rock tumbler.  The rock tumbler has been noisy, but exciting.  We check the rocks daily, which is probably a no-no, but after step 1 they look like this:
Which is a vast improvement!! Also, in literature, we're memorizing some nursery rhymes that I never knew about (I mean, I guess I did when my mom did this with me, but I didn't remember some of them). We're also reading Anansi Rides the Tiger, which we're turning into a play for Daddy to watch on Friday.  I already had a spider costume for Logan, but we decided we'd need masks and a painted cardboard backdrop, so more time spent!!
Then there's fine arts, where we're learning about music.  This involves lots of dancing to lots of CDs and itunes downloads.  Plus, we like to do field trips once a week or so, and since the Smithsonian NEVER lets me down, the plan is to check out the Smithsonian Museum of African Art- which, as a bonus, streams African Music.  Bam.  Add in some baking and some playdates and you have a pretty full week!! 

Look at that, I could totally be a homeschooler.

Ha.  No I couldn't :) 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vacation Bible School Part the First

I love VBS.  I think it's one of my favorite things.  I remember loving it as a child- especially at LCOC where they had Captive Free (a super cool Christian mission experience band of super cool 19-25 year olds who are the coolest people IN THE WORLD EVER when you're 8).  My love of VBS even allowed me to direct one when I was still working for churches, and as crazy as it made me, I loved every minute of it.  Our church doesn't hold VBS since they have full day camps all summer for children whose parents work, but we still found our way into 2 VBSes so that momma could get her fix :)

This past week (the beginning of my TV-free-ish declaration) was our first.  Our friends Ethan and Nathan attend 2 churches (how cool is that!!) and their Anglican Church was hosting one the week after school let out, which seemed pretty perfect to me!! Their mom was running the Bible Voyage portion and had talked to me in the late winter/early spring about ideas for how to run it more smoothly and I managed to wiggle my way into being her assistant.  Not only did Riley and Logan have a great time, but we also switched cars all week, since I still lack a car that can seat more than 5, and took our friends Heather and Kailey with us.  Savannah was miserable in the nursery and helped out in the story room and dragged me into opening and closing each day so that she could dance to the music.  I think for our next VBS in August I'll see if we can try her in a preschool class.  She's been potty trained for some time now and really loves participating in the activities rather than just sitting in a nursery.

Getting to teach the lesson on the 4th day, which in Group's VBS lessons is always the day we learn about how Jesus died on the cross for us, made me so happy.  I really miss being in ministry with kids- I love how spiritual they are when we let them be :)

After VBS each day we all (RLSH and K) went swimming at Grandma's house.  The boys have also been enjoying a lot of pretend play as knights.  Savannah is always the princess and since it's after swimming, she's usually sleeping beauty :) On Friday night, Mommy and Daddy got to go on a date to hear Derelict Dog play and Riley, Logan and Savannah got to stay home with a babysitter!! It was highly exciting since they usually stay with Grammy and Papa AND the sitter let them watch a movie!! Since it's TV-free-ish, I don't mind a movie for a special occasion like a babysitter! The sitter was awesome and really great with the kids.  She'd been at VBS all week and came recommended by our friend Kathy, who called her for me, but I'll have to wrestle her number away since the kids loved staying with her!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TV Free(ish) Summer

We've been going to VBS for the past few days.  Which I love, because I am such a Children's Ministry Junkie.  It's so sad that I love VBS this much.  I love watching the kids get into it, I love setting up ghetto-rigged Bible Scenes, I love the super cheesy music, and I just miss being formally in ministry.  However, we have TWO VBS's this summer!! So yay for me :)

One of the things that I've noticed is that when I volunteered as a teenager, the kids were way more into the imaginative play portion of the Bible Stories.  But now, I think so many kids watch TV for hours on end, they're unimpressed by our lack of Oscar worthy special effects.  We've always tried to keep TV to a minimum for our kids, but I think I'm officially challenging myself to keep the summer as TV free as possible as of today.  If my kids lose their imagination I'll be really sad, and that's worth some extra effort on my part since I'm the one who has grown accustomed to using the TV for 30 minutes or so of child-free time to clean or finish a project.

Today following VBS, Riley made his own lunch and now the boys have been happily playing pirates for about an hour.  I think when they get tired of it, I'm going to set up the kiddie pool in the front yard and let them play outside with the neighbor kids and have popsicles.  We have some zucchini to cook in the only edible way I know (ahem, zucchini bread) and then there's craft time at the library.  If I pay off my $10 fine (oh the shame!!) then we can check out some books for tonight.  One of my goals for the summer is for Logan to know all of his upper and lower case letters by sight and for Riley to be reading independently on level 1 and level 2 easy reader books.  So, we'll see how this goes :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

In Which I am a Bad Blogger

So, sometimes, life happens :) And when life happens, I seem to forget about keeping track of it, even though I truly want to.  There are so many little happy memories that happen each day that I hope I don't lose sight of when I forget to write them down! Especially in the things, just the little funny things, that my children say.  I think at some point I need to go down my facebook status updates and pull all of their child-isms out and write a post on them.  Most are pretty funny :)

So, I will be going through and "post dating" a few posts....because I just learned that I can change the dates on postings! So a little cheating to catch up and then hopefully I'll be better!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Passover

We celebrate Passover at our house.

It's something that I go back and forth with myself on, because it is OH so important to me that our kids are Christians.  However, in the end it is also important to me that they understand their father's heritage (and theirs, too) and the origins of our faith.  Beyond which, I've come to believe that the reason that children stray is because they are curious.  So, if I answer their questions and don't make Judaism taboo in our home, they won't wander towards the mysterious faith of their father.  I know that probably sounds terrible to read, but when we had Riley, we determined that I really cared and Austin not so much, about what religion our kids were.

Over the years I have really struggled with how we balance our family.  There are a lot of websites and organizations out there supporting interfaith families that make Jewish choices and support completely ignoring the other parent's religion- but that's not really a balance.  For me, what we do now is much more a model of cooperation based on what our religions mean to each other.  We celebrate Passover with Daddy.  Mommy stresses out and cooks all day and sets a nice table and we pack our backpacks with what we would take if we had to go on a journey across the desert.  We eat macaroons and pavlova and charoset and bitter herbs.  We tell the story of how the angel of death passed over the houses covered in the blood of the lamb.  We talk about how Great our God is and how much he wanted the Hebrews to be free from bondage. How our Great God rolled back the waters of the Red Sea. We hunt for the afikomen (and inevitably someone cheats). We go to bed happy.

And then, we wake up and it's Holy Week.  We talk about how Great our God is.  We tell the story of how death passes over those of us who are covered in the blood of the Lamb.  But this time, the Lamb is Jesus, the perfect sacrifice.  We talk about how God has had a plan of salvation all along, through the Hebrews and the Israelites.  How much He loves us and wants us to be free from the bondage of sin.  How our Great God rolled back the stone from the cave that no longer held our Risen Lord.

Because it's the same story.  It's our story.  It's the story of a Great God who loves His People so much that He would go to any length to free them.  And I'm glad my children have that knowledge, even if I wish their daddy shared our faith, I'm so glad that we are able to give them more ways to know God.

Good Pesach.  

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Soo Cute!

I love following a trail of blogs when I have a free minute and when the kids went to bed tonight I found someone's adorable craft blog with a giveaway! It's very Michelle Obama-esque (and while I don't love liberal politics, I do so love Mrs. O's style!) If you become a follower or leave a comment, you can win it!
(And if you won't wear it, you can subsequently send it to moi. I am in need of cute things.)

More Crafty Goodness

This time just for Logan! First and foremost, someone has a birthday coming up!! I can't believe that my snuggly bunny is going to be FOUR!! I love all of my children, but they are all so different, and if I could have my way, Savannah and Riley would grow up, but Logan would stay 3 forever. He's such a sweet and happy little guy!! I hope he keeps his temperament forever!

So. Logan wants a pirate party. Riley has always wanted to have 9000 people at his parties, and we've had them out and about at different venues that can accommodate that. Plus, our townhouse is pretty cozy (not that we don't have our annual 30 kid Halloween party in it, but that's REALLY a squeeze!) Logan, however, has a spring birthday, which means we can have a fun outside party that momma can actually plan and have fun with!! Here's part one- the invitations. I used scrapbook paper that was designed for a family album. It was antique colored with lines, and then I cut shapes, antiqued it more with a brown ink pad, stamped on the piratey shapes, and wrote everything on. Then I scrunched them, unfolded, and rolled them up and tied them with twine. They were a pretty big hit at preschool!! I love doing little kid birthdays and I'm so excited that I get to have fun with this one!!

The invitations look a little weird on here, but that's because I blurred out the information on them, because I don't really want the whole interwebz showing up for the party. :)

Next, Logan had crazy hat day at preschool. Which I forgot about until, oh, 12am the night before. Go Mommy!! So, I took one of my Holy Cross hats, painted it with green sparkle paint, added paper ears and embellishments, and I think it turned out really cute!! Here's Logie in his hat:

I enjoy that his preschool has this little tradition of Easter Hats. I think it's really cute and so different from anything anyone else does! I also got to stay and be room helper today for the class Easter Party. It was so neat to watch his teachers in action, but boy do they have more than a saint's helping of patience!! I can't stand it when my children talk over me, but Logan's teacher was so calm and happy even with 16 kids talking over her at times!! I could definitely learn from that, although she does have a few years of practice on me- she's definitely a great model of how to interact with munchkins :) They actually both are.

Here's Logan's class. I love how different most of the hats are, although 2 of the boys come together (mom of one is babysitter of the other) so theirs were the same. Such individual creations :) It was also very sweet that the other classes came out to watch their little parade. Since they're only 2 day a week students, they didn't get to be there for the BIG parade tomorrow, but everyone came out to watch them today! Very sweet, especially the older kids who clapped and waved and made their day :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The St. Patty's Party That Wasn't.

(Did you know that you can dye your rice krispies treats any color you want by adding food coloring to the melted marshmallow goo? You can. You can also cut them and frost them to look like clovers. With decorator sugar. FYI.)

We had planned for a St. Patrick's Day Playdate with Logan and Savannah's friends at our house, but Savannah is now sick with a tummy bug. Last night at around 11:20 she was crying for me and when I went up she told me that she had a booboo and I asked her where. She put my hand to her mouth, threw up in it, and, when I said, "Oh, clearly you have a booboo in your tummy" she responded "No, booboo in mama's hand". Obviously this is my daughter :) Never missing a beat.

Love that.

So, anyway, we had planned this playdate and I had a few simple crafts that I thought I'd share, plus we made teacher appreciation presents (I'm in charge of that for PTA so it's on my mind)

Our first craft for the party was going to be simple foam hats with shamrock decorations. One of the reasons that I like waiting until the last minute is that I get things on clearance! I bought these things yesterday at our local Michaels for $.33 each (including the bags of foam adhesive shamrocks!!) Not very complicated, but our target audience was between 1 and 3, so simple is good. I wrote Savannah's name on hers and then let her stick on the shamrocks.
The next craft I planned was decorating little cloth bags. We were supposed to go on a hunt for gold coins so I had these small bags ($.50 each) and my fabric markers ready to go to make rainbow bags. I had a story from the library about the gold at the end of the rainbow, so the plan was to read that, decorate the bags with rainbows, and then hunt for our gold chocolate coins. Savannah wasn't much interested in this one, so I did it for her. Forgive my ugly attempt at a leprechaun.
Finally we have the teacher appreciation gifts. These are a little more involved, but we did them over two days. So, here goes. First the supplies. You will need to assemble some glue, glitter, a terra cotta pot, your green scrapbooking paper scraps, scissors, bamboo skewers, a green crayon, tape, floral foam, small brads and ribbon.
No, it's not sideways at our house, I just have no clue how to rotate pictures on here :) So, first things first, paint a line of glue around the top edge or rim of your pot and roll it in glitter. We put our floral foam inside first. Also, if you've never tried Martha Stewart's glitter- you totally should.
So, next, paint a little glue on your floral foam (or sqeeze it out, whatever floats your boat) and let your baby cut up a ton of ribbon to be grass. We also added some confetti. That's optional :)
So now we have a glittery pot of grass! Hooray! Next, cut up your scrap papers into hearts. You'll need 4 as far as I'm concerned, per 4 leaf clover. Savannah preferred 3 and Logan enjoyed 5. But I say 4. Either way, it was a good way to practice counting to whatever number. Line them up in circular formation, and attach them one at a time with the brad. We also had a little circle plastic embellishment that came in our brads. I had run out of green by the time I decided to take this picture, so there's an orange one. True story, the flag of Ireland is Green, Orange, and White. I'm an unintentional GENIUS ;)
Fabulous! Now, peel your crayon a little so that you can use it on the side and color the skewers green. I'll wait. Done? Excellent. So, now you'll want to either glue or tape them to the back of your shamrock. I'm not very patient, so we prefer tape. Once you've assembled them, stick them into your floral foam. At the end, we add a square piece of paper to a skewer and write "I'm so lucky you're my teacher" and the child's name. Or, in Savannah's case, Coach, since she has a swim coach, but no teachers yet. :) Although this would be cute for a Sunday School teacher, too, no? People tend to forget them, and they need love, too!
So, that's our party that wasn't, and our St. Patrick's Appreciation gifts. Hope you enjoyed! We're going to be around sipping gingerale and eating crackers for awhile, so maybe I'll come up with something else cute, too! We have a shamrock shaped cookie cutter- maybe some potato stamps!! With Green Paint! That'd be fun on a t-shirt!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Past Few Days

We had a whole mess of excitement around here from Friday to today. Riley's school had their first performance (the first was supposed to be a "Winter Holiday of Choice" concert, which was canceled due to snow). This time they chose the theme "Famous Americans" and it was quite possibly the most adorable thing EVER. The only other time my kids have been in something it was the Christmas Pageant at DRUMC, and because I was "directing" that hot mess, I didn't actually get to enjoy their presence, nor do I actually remember much about it at all except that I felt like I might drop dead after.

So- back to the point. Riley's class said a few words about Pocahontas, and also featured songs about George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Martin Luther King, Jr. You can see a brief video here:
Pocahontas Song

This week was apparently date week- Austin took the boys to 5 Guys and Frozen Custard after their swimming (which he also got to take them to!) on Wednesday, and I took Savannah out to the playplace at the McDonald's near us. This weekend, we swapped and Austin took Savannah on her first official Daddy Date for Thai Food and I took the boys out with our friends and then back to their house for a movie night. Austin and Savannah joined us later- and Savannah did an awesome job of sleeping in Kailey's bed! The boys and their friends were up, however, until around 11pm by the time we got home!!

Saturday we had a 1st Birthday to attend, and I always love how sweet those are. My friend Rebecca did an awesome job decorating for her little guy's big day! After that I got a MNO and the munchkins got to spend the night at grandma's! They managed to wrangle extra cupcakes out of Mrs. Rebecca and were very excited to show up at Grammy's house with cupcakes and goody bags in tow! The party had an added bonus for me in that I met another very nice Christian Momma with a little girl Savannah's age. It was ironic (don't ya think) because we were talking about churches and she was on the committee that interviewed me at the church I should have taken a job at. When I left DRUMC I had two offers and felt lead to take one, but took the one that paid more. Biggest mistake EVER, and God is still finding these little ways to remind me that his ways are the best and I should yield my will to him when he has a preference. Noted.

Unfortunately, I just got a phone call that Logan officially has the stomach bug that's going around, which makes me feel terrible because it's never nice to be sick without your momma to snuggle on!! I hope that by the time they get back here he'll be feeling better- I am supposed to go try a microdermabrasion treatment at the spa and my skin has been such a mess the last few days with the pollen coming out, but if he's not feeling better I'll definitely skip it to "nuggle mama". (I love the little babyisms that Logan's kept!)

This week we have Savannah and Logan's St. Patty's Day Party, and I'm hoping to start crafting for that tonight. I have a big to do list around the house right now, though, and currently Austin is beating me in the crossing things off department!! (In all fairness, my first item was "renovate master bathroom" and his was "install doorknob"- but he's still winning!!)

I'm not sure who's reading this, but if you are, I hope that you have a great week and enjoy the Kindergarten Singing!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mama, I love you....

Logan is such a sweet and honest little man- I love how he's inbetween stages right now- he still has his sweet round cushy baby face, and he also has so much to say and can do so many "big boy" things!!

Today, he looked back at me with his sweet cherub face and said "Mama, do you know how much I love you?" Smiling, I asked, "How much?" and, with the independent thought of a much older child, but the honesty of a toddler he answered "Not as much as Lucky...but you're second."

Beaten by a dog. Oh well, I guess I'll take what I can get.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I love the Fishes

All three of our kids are fish. They've been in the water since they were tiny and just love it! Logan did great today and we got a little video of him doing streamline. Riley has a lot of trouble concentrating, but has such natural skill it kills me to watch him not paying attention because he could be phenomenal!!! Savannah is constantly amazing her coach with how much a 2 year old can do!!! As an added bonus for Savannah, swimming is her special Grammy time! It started off that way because I was working, but now she doesn't swim if I'm in the water with her and since Grammy is currently enjoying lots of free time (still no job :( hopefully soon!) she is happy to spend one morning a week with Savannah in the pool!

Enjoy some of the pictures!

The Messy Letter Project

We've been working with the littler kids (and Riley) on letter recognition. We did shaving cream on construction paper for A/a and tonight was flour for B/b. They have done really well with it- they don't seem to get bored or frustrated if they're making a mess, and Savannah can even point out an A on a page!! Here's a little clip of tonight's messiness!! I'm thinking about something gooey for tomorrow night- maybe toothpaste? We'll see!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm Melting!! I'm Melting!!

Well, it's melting outside anyway!! We finally got to walk to school again, which was so wonderful!! Lucky has been less than appreciative of the melting, though, because he has been getting almost a bath a day due to the mud!! Savannah had her 2 year check up and is still tiny, but proportional, so that's good!! We had a fun time this weekend at a few different birthday parties, including Logan's best little friend Kailey. He really wanted to make her something, and decided on a princess crown and wand. It turned out so cute!! I made the K and the 4, but Logan put everything else on by himself! He's such a meticulous little bug! There is still a little bit of snow on the ground as you can see from this picture, but it really is sooo much better than it was before!! We are definitely a family that likes to have the option to be outside! We are all playdoh and coloring and pretend-playing-ed out!! The boys played fetch outside with the dog yesterday until their little faces were blue and their lips were purple (and that only took 20 minutes)!
We also found out today that Logan's teachers approved him for 5 day 4's next year, so he's very excited about having class each day for 1/2 a day. Preschool has been so good for my kids- I know some people don't think it is but the social skills they learn and the friends they make are so worth the time and cost. Savannah has also been clamoring "I gow ad kooowl!!" and so we are signing her up for the 2 1/2 year old class which will meet 2 half days. She is such a social child, and I hope that the increased interaction will help with her speech.

Monday, February 22, 2010

(Wait...I had a birthday, too!!)

Okay, not that I'm important, but Savannah's birthday is just 7 days before mine!! Austin took me out for Lebanese food and comedy, which was so much fun!! The comedians were all really funny, although the last one to go on was actually a little bit much for my taste- he actually came out and took his shirt off and was dancing and rubbing his fairly substantial beer belly, and it pretty much went downhill from there, although his pants (thank goodness) stayed on. It was really great to get a night out with my hubby, though, he's been so busy with work lately and I miss him when I never get to see him awake!! The kids made me cards for my birthday, too, and I'm not sure if the video will work, but Logan's was super cute. Grandma helped them make them, and Logan was really disappointed because he wanted to go to Hallmark and buy me a card that plays music when you open it. So, instead, my mom rehearsed with him so that when I opened my card he sang "Eye of the Tiger" and when I shut the card, he stopped. It was super cute and definitely my favorite part of my birthday, even beyond the chocolate whipped cream cake!! Not the most flattering video of me- but I hope it works for you because he's soooo cute!

Fantastic February (Look, I'm caught up!!)

So, more fun in February!! First, we had Savannah Lynn's 2nd Birthday!! Her Ema Anne (which is actually Hebrew for mother, but whatevs, it works) was able to join us because their most recent litter of puppies ended up not being there after all!! For Savannah's home party my momma and I did a ballerina bear cake:
Which is sideways, but I don't know how to fix it!! Sorry!! The picture of Savannah at the top is of her in the birthday dress that my mom made for her on her super-cool new sewing machine!! Mine is broken right now because some little helpers knocked it off its TV tray and the thread holder snapped off. It's a fairly easy fix, I just haven't done it yet- not that my skills are anywhere as good as my mom's!! Savannah was so cute because after opening her first present (a doll and a "mommy set" with a stroller and diaper bag and bouncer seat) from my parents, she politely refused everything that everyone else gave her!! I think that my brother was truly heartbroken, but everyone else seemed to take it in stride. Our present to her was a big girl bed, which she's done fairly well in so far- although the missing baby gate across her door has certainly allowed her to get into mommy and daddy's room with much less fuss!! She been doing great with potty training, too, and has been speaking more and more, which is such a relief after two early-talking boys!! Savannah still "clicks" her K's (we call her a bush baby) and says H instead of P and a few other standard things (like W instead of L) but it's fun to listen to her begin to express what she's thinking more and more!!

For her "big party" we had a joint 2nd Birthday at Gymboree with Savannah's friend Shane, who also has 2 big sisters the same ages as Savannah's 2 big brothers! We had a really great time with all our friends and the kids all seemed to enjoy the "farm fun" theme!!

I still can't believe my baby girl is 2! She is so much fun to play with- we really enjoy our teaparties and dress up while the boys are at school!! Savannah is definitely all about being a princess and loves all things pink and purple and glittery and does such a great job playing mommy. She's an awesome swimmer and constantly showing up the older kids in her class (which she gets from Daddy!) and also loves to dance to the music and run around after her brothers. She is definitely outgoing but also loves to spend time alone and will "Wead" books to herself quietly for a good 10 minutes, which I think is pretty impressive for such a little girl! She loves to color and even enjoys a good shopping trip with mom! It's so great to have a girl- even though I love my boys!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Christmas in February

Christmas was wicked fun :) We started off with a trip to the Christmas Tree farm where we picked up this gigantic beauty :) It took up basically our entire living room, which I think is pretty fantastic :) I love Christmas, even though it's so much more work as the mommy!! Plus there was the extra difficulty this year of hiding the kids' super-secret present!!

The Christmas Tree Farm we went to was the best one by far! They had bunnies to pet and lots of space to hike and a trail back to the old cabin that the farmer and his wife lived in!! Since bunnies are Logan's favorite thing on earth, Logan was in 7th Heaven! He was so cute holding the little tiny babies! Riley's favorite part was running around in all that open space- he's constantly making me feel guilty about the fact that we don't have a big backyard for him. One day, though, we will :) We really didn't have enough ornaments for the size tree that we bought, so one of my favorite things this Christmas was watching the kids add whatever they could find that was hang-able. Candy, toys, refrigerator magnets- they all made their way up to the tree upstairs. Also awesome this year was getting to go to Logan's first Christmas performance!! Yay for preschool! He did a great job singing "There were 10 Little Angels" and looked adorable in his halo. Logan is such a sweet and loving little boy who is so full of joy and watching him is great fun for all of us :) (Also, as you see from the first picture, we went in for the Pageant of Peace and the National Christmas Tree, too!)

Then of course, there were the visits to Santa...always fun! Savannah did really well and was excited to see the big man, and Logan was excited, too, to ask for a pirate dog and a sword. Riley had a list a mile long, which was cute, too! Little did Logan know, though, that the surprise we had to work so hard to keep a secret was the dog that he and Riley had been begging for FOREVER!! I never thought I'd talk Austin into it, but I finally did. It only took 7 years :) His name is Luck and he's pretty freaking adorable.

So, we obviously had a few snow days. (11, actually, between December and February) We finished up 2009 by celebrating the New Year with Riley and Logan's friends Kailey and Heather and my family. We had been hoping for more people, but the snow-that-never-came kept most people inside :) We had a blast, though!