Monday, June 30, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday #4 Birthday Preparations

Let me first share what I DID tackle this weekend. ALL of the bedding in the house. Yesterday afternoon after we got home from church, Noah and I stripped all of the beds and took all of the blankets, comforters, etc. to the laundry mat. Noah likes going with me because we walk to the dollar store and he gets to pick out a toy to play with while I am doing laundry. They ALWAYS break before the last comforter is dry but now he has accepted that fact. After all, it's the DOLLAR STORE.

So today's tackle actually started yesterday at the dollar store. Noah will turn six on Friday and his party will be Sunday. The number of kids coming keeps changing but I want to be prepared. I bought all of the tableware for the party while we were there.

Here are the preparations I want to get done this week before the holiday weekend arrives:

1. I am determined to make full meals for my family every night this week because I don't have to teach since the music store is closed. Tonight is Potato casserole. I found it in a kids' Emeril Legasse cookbook.

2. Swimming lessons every morning.

2. I need to finish goody bags for who knows how many kids since the count seems to keep changing

3. I need to make a little snack bags for each of the kids since it will be a at a park and they are going to need a little pick me up after playing (besides just sugary cake)

4. I still need to figure out a game or two for them to do together at the park.

5. I want to put together a bag of activities to keep the kids amused for what seems like hours on Friday night while we wait for the fireworks to start. I can't wait until they are old enough to throw a football back and forth for an hour like we used to.

6. I need to get 100 water balloons filled for Sunday.

7. My house is a mess, mess, mess while I'm trying to get everything else done. Everywhere I look there is more clutter. The lack of storage space in our little house seems more apparent with each passing year.

So these are the tackles for the week. I plan to take it a little at a time and play with the kids a lot since I have to go back to babysitting next week.

What are you tackling today?

First Day of Swimming Lessons

After my lecture about riding bikes in their own time, are you shocked that I am forcing this on them at such young ages?

Actually, I have to say that it is one of the few things that I think my mom did right when we were little. My older brother, sister, and I were all required to take swimming lessons every summer until we were very strong swimmers. All three of us took lessons until we could swim the mile and pass water safety certification. Growing up in West Michigan, you are always going to be around water and you just HAVE to learn to be comfortable. It's not about leisure, it's about safety.

So, this morning we headed out.

I love the Grandville Community Ed swim program. All of the instructors are teenagers and they pretty much MAKE the kids do whatever they tell them. Last year it bothered me at first, but it really does get the kids swimming and lets them know who is in charge right from the start.

Last year, Noah was a bit timid and scared to go into the deep water by himself. We had full fledged crying a few times. By the end of the first session he was starting to get it.

So I put him into another two weeks to make sure he kept up with it. By the end of the 2nd two weeks, he was jumping off the diving board and TRYING to do what the teacher asked of him without complaint.

If you can see in this picture from last year, the instructor is actually helping him get through the deep end.

But THIS morning, a whole different Noah emerged. The kid was awesome. In a group with two other boys his age, they were jumping off the diving board and swimming all the way to the shallow end where the teacher/teenager was waiting for them. Not only that, he was actually SMILING while doing it. Amazing what a difference a year can make.

Last year every class end was "Do we have to come back tomorrow?" and this year it's "CAN we come back tomorrow?"

Aaron had to wait on the bleachers last year. But this year, at three years old, he can take class at the same time. The teenagers/teachers are very good at assessing their level right away and putting them in the right spot.

He and I took a class last year as a mommy and me but he did so well that Miss Gayle pretty much took over and he did pretty well.

Here he is with his teacher last year.

This morning he was VERY nervous. He kept asking the instructors "What if I sink?" I was fully expecting screaming from him but he actually did fine. He was with another little boy his age and was excited to show the other boys how to blow bubbles. Tomorrow they will send him off the diving board so we'll see what happens. When I tried to get him to do it last weekend, he went out halfway and turn abound. The instructors don't LET them do that during class. They actually DROP them into the deep end if they hesitate.

Although it will be a very busy week (I'll share with you tomorrow), it will be a good diversion and hopefully tire them out so they sleep well at night.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Funny or Scary?

My mother called last night. As I have mentioned before, I don't really have much of a relationship with my mother but since it is Noah's birthday on Friday, she wanted to be sure that his present arrived. Since we were putting the kids to bed, I was thankfully able to cut it short. But before she hung up, I mentioned to her that we were going to go see my grandma this afternoon, but we were all fighting so much (it was just one of those days) that we figured we probably should save it for another day.

If you remember this post, it was about how amazing my grandmother is. She will be turning 92 in a few weeks.

My mother had just gotten off the phone with her and this was the conversation starter from my 92 year old grandmother...

"I just renewed my drivers license this morning. I won't have to renew it again until I'm 97!"


Thank you, Dear Husband...

for bringing home a 6 foot stand up cardboard of superman from an advertising campaign a year ago

and then telling the kids that MOMMY will do a CRAFT with it!?!

I have now been nagged for a week about when we are going to do a craft with the Superman.

Any ideas?

Friday, June 27, 2008

A mid afternoon Update

So after my last stressed out post about five kids today, I thought I would take a quick minute to update on how the day is going. It is amazing how differently my six (well, in a few days) year old boy plays with girls than he does boys. Even though the house is louder, it actually is calmer in some ways.

Let me share with you a few conversation starters...can you guess the players, Deb? I love these because you can just see boy/girl tendencies.

"Pretend I was a puppy and you thought I was cute"..."Yeah, until you attacked me and turned me into a ninja"

"Pretend we're all a family and we all love each other"...""And then we all transform and take off in a super jet"

(Spoken from the bathroom) "Kristi, my REAL babysitter says that we should only use four squares of toilet paper. I think you should have that rule, too."

The most fun has been listening to the two "play leaders" in the group, one from each family, and watching how they mesh their need to be in charge of whatever game they're playing.

It's actually been kind a of a fun day.

Believe it or not, the biggest thing I was worried about was quiet time. I put Becca in on Aaron's bed and Aaron on my bed. Both fell asleep and the big kids are watching "BibleMan".

And strangely enough, I actually have time to BLOG!

I do think we'll head out to Playworld this afternoon. It's 85 degrees and muggy out, too hot for my liking. I am quite sure it will eat up my entire income from today, but we're all having fun and that's really what summer is all about.

Here are some of today's activities so far:

The kids are pretending to be cocoons turning into butterflies. Can you see two of the cocoons?

And we painted tee shirts for the 4th of July. I picked the wrong paint and the stars ended up pretty much red and blue blobs but I will outline them with glitter paint and they'll hopefully still be cute.

Noah and Hannah

I had gotten Noah a new set of legos to give him next Friday for his birthday, but I decided to give them to him today since there didn't seem to be enough legos for three kids to make anything of substance.

And I am shocked that I got Aaron and Becca to stick with the duplo legos.

One thing I forgot was just how often a diaper of a two year old needs to be changed. The other two year old I watch stays dry most of the day so when I picked up Becca to put her into the van to go to lunch, I ended up having to changer her pants (sorry, Deb) It's been six months at least since I changed a diaper.

Thanks for being so supportive during my rant yesterday, my bloggy friends. I haven't had a good vent in quite awhile.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #6 Sleeping

This is the second of my series of Thursday Thirteens surrounding everyday activities. My first was Reading. This week's installment: Sleeping. I know I have shared a few of these before but it is still fun to put them into a montage.

Newborn Noah sleeps (2002)

Sleepy Newborn Aaron (2004)

Cousin Olivia (2 days old) and Baby Noah (10 weeks) meet for the first time and fall asleep

Cousin Jamie and Baby Aaron tuckered out on Grandpa's boat.

I think this is the first brother picture we have of two year old Noah holding Sleeping Aaron on New Year's Day 2005. Look at that smile!

Aaron sleeping with Daddy

Aaron sleeping with Mommy (wrapped in a Woobie, of course)

Noah at 3 years old after long day of vacationing in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I loved the grip on the tube, even in his sleep.

After a quick walk around the block, Steve turned around one night and found Aaron sound asleep in the wagon.

Sometimes they're too tired to even wait until they get all the way on their bed

Super tired boys after a week in St. Louis

Even at five years old (six next week), they STILL look cute when they asleep. Look at Noah snuggle his "buddy"

Once in awhile, it's even fun to pretend to go to sleep if it means you can drag all of the bedding from both bedrooms into the living room for the sake of fun.

Happy snoozing tonight.

WW#19 "Return to the Mother Ship!"

Monday, June 23, 2008

More Messy Fun

Although not really a concoction, a mess can still be fun with a can of shaving cream purchased at the dollar store.

I used to make them sit at the table and then clean them off. Not this time...

Within two minutes of shedding their tee shirts and spraying the shaving cream on the table, I had a little boy who looked like this:

and another boy losing interest and opting instead to go do this.

So where do you send a messy boy to clean up? Check out the white in the water.

After wiping off his face, it took Noah about 12 more times down the slide before he actually got clean.

Oh to be young again.

Weekend Nothingness

Guess what we did this weekend?


Nothing, nothing, nothing, and it felt great!

Friday night I used our stimulus check at BOUGHT DISNEY TICKETS!!!!! YEA!!! I imagine Deb needs to show me how to put on a ticker for next March 15 when we leave. Speaking of Deb, she came over that evening and showed me how to put a button on my sidebar. Please go check out Root and Sprout. (Button on the right) It is an emag that I will be published in the July issue. More about that later.

I took the boys to open swim on Saturday and Noah amazed me. By the end of swimming lessons last year, he was still protesting the diving board and making sure someone was there to catch him. Not only did he get MAD at me for being in the water near him this time, by the time we left, he had me comfortable with him jumping in without me even being in the deep end. Aaron and I were hanging out of on the side (because his elbow had started bleeding again. I told you these wounds were getting nasty). The boys start swimming lessons again next week and I have no worries about Noah at all. Aaron was walking about half way out on the diving board and then turning around. What he doesn't realize is that these swimming teachers (mostly teenagers) have NO MERCY. They will follow them out until they go in, or they will do a little drop. Last year it bothered me, but I see the point of it. He will be fine after the first couple of days.

We took the boys' bikes to church yesterday so Noah could practice some more after church in the parking lot and Aaron wiped out again. Those open wounds broke open even more and I have decided to keep him inside for a few days to let them heal. I don't get squeamish very often but the elbow is looking nasty and I am trying to decided whether I need to break down and get the toe looked at by the pediatrician. The toenail is barely hanging there, but too much to just pull it off. Even in his sleep last night, he was fighting letting me clip it and it is getting red around the edges. I am hoping it is not getting infected.

Yesterday afternoon, we decided to split the boys up and I took Noah grocery shopping and Steve and Aaron were gone for over two hours, just bumming around. It is so good for Steve to go out with just one of them. A few weeks ago he took just Noah swimming and he's still talking about it. We are going to try to do it once a month for each kid. It gives them some individual time with each of us, which is lacking since summer vacation started.

Maybe we didn't do nothing after all.

So another week lies ahead. Some library programs, lots of babysitters, a visit to the kittens, a VERY busy day on Friday with Abby, Hannah, and Becca ALL DAY and then the weekend again. What a life!

How was your weekend?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

How Biking Has Changed

Christmas, 1981..An eight year old little girl gets her first bike ever...a pink huffy that she named Strawberry Shortcake. It is unusually warm for West Michigan in December and the girl and her older brother and sister head outside to learn how to ride. In her memory, about an hour later she is off and riding completely independently.

Fast forward 27 years. Now, a child gets his first tricycle at two years old.

And then the very next year, he gets his first two wheeler, complete with helmet and training wheels. Now, they're not really "training" wheels as much as just ANOTHER SET of wheels. There is no intention of pulling them off to teach a three year old how to ride a bike.

Aaron inherited the tricycle.

Last year, Noah got the next size bigger, again with "training" wheels.

And Aaron got his first "big boy bike" hand me down

It was last summer, when all of a sudden all of my friends started making declarations "My kids WILL learn to ride without training wheels this summer!"

Now, in my opinion, I was NOT going to push Noah into this milestone. I figure, when he's ready, he'll ask. Otherwise, it's just one more stress for him. So while everyone else is taking off the training wheels and teaching them, Noah has been perfectly happy riding along with his training wheels.

Evening pajama ride in 2006

For the past couple of weeks, I have noticed him relying less and less on the "training" wheels and wondered, "What would happen if I raised them?"

First bike ride of 2008

So this afternoon, I did. Up to the very highest. So high that the bike won't even sit straight. Noah was a little nervous, but willing to try and I ran along beside him. After passing a few houses, I decided, "I need to go with my original theory. He'll ask when he's ready" and asked him to stop so I could lower the trainers back down.

Noah and Neighbor Bradley in 2005 on their first tricycles

However, he didn't WANT to lower them back down. I took him over to the parking lot near our house, and started counting out loud how many seconds he could go without relying on the training wheels. He went EIGHTEEN seconds. He was so proud. I reminded him a few times to sit up straight and then he started reminding himself, which is unusual for him to take advice in the first place.

SO, am I going to take them off completely and be like every one else? No Way! After he finally had a couple of wipe outs and was ready to come home, we decided to go the store tomorrow and get knee and elbow pads but he is raring to go again tomorrow. He has a great attitude toward this step and I see no reason to force any more on him. Why do parents INSIST that a child MUST learn at a certain age? It's not like they will have their extra wheels forever. I have no intention of forcing it, but I will sit back and encourage the steps as we go.

How things have changed. When we were little, the kids with training wheels got made fun of and you learned to ride a bike by wiping out and getting injured over and over until you finally stopped wiping out. We NEVER had a helmet, and it's too bad because I suffered a pretty nasty head injury at nine years old when my bike got hit by a car. We were able to ride wherever and whenever without parents anywhere around.

I am proud of Noah and his first step today. At the same time, Aaron spent the time in the parking lot learning how to brake. That too, was a great milestone to have achieved today. Of course, ice cream celebrations were in order. (You don't have to search very hard to find a reason to celebrate with ice cream.)

What are your thoughts? Are you a parent that insists on taking the training wheels off and forcing the issue just because your child turned a certain age? Or are you like like me, wanting to wait until they're ready, however progressing in steps as your child seems ready?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Woobies: Good Bye Old Friend

Aaron has had a few bad days. The more we play outside, the more scrapes and bruises he sustains. The poor kid never cries when he gets hurt so sometimes I don't even know when it happens until later.

This past Tuesday, I got Noah a mini skateboard that was on sale for $3 so I thought it would hold him over until he got a real one. So, as I was leaving to go teach, I told our babysitter, "There are band aids on the table if Noah wipes out." She kind of laughed but we both remember last summer when someone got a scrape and I didn't have any band aids (can you imagine...a mom of little boys with no band-aids? The nerve...)

Wednesday morning came and as he was getting dressed, I noticed a band aid on AARON'S elbow. Here he is showing off his battle wounds on elbow and knee.

When I asked him what had happened, of course he had no clue. So I asked Noah and he told me that AARON had wiped out on the skateboard.

Now, fast forward to this afternoon. For a fun surprise, I decided to take the boys to Horton Hears a WHO at the $3.50 theater nearby. As we were coming out, Aaron wiped out, yet again. I think the sandals don't fit right...they're already in the garbage. The same knee that was already icky once again split back open, went deeper than before, and blood was pouring down his leg. Of course no crying from him but many passers by and a big brother started flipping out at the sight of blood. I didn't have anything available except...

Let me give a little background before I finish that sentence.

Three and a half years ago, I gave birth to a little baby boy. Because we are quite visible in our church, we received several gifts from friends. One of which was a gift bag with two really soft blankets. They were called "WOOBIES" and hand made by a friend of mine. At first glance, I thought, "Why do I need more blankets?" and then I read the note she included, about how they get softer when washed, they're bigger than the normal baby blanket, and make great super capes later when they get a little older (which they have).

They came to be the most important thing when we went anywhere. Aaron liked to be swaddled and we continued to do so so until he was past 6 months old. These were the only blankets that were thick enough to contain a growing baby.

We used them to cover the high chair

To lie on the floor

To keep him warm.

As time went on, I even paid her to make two more of them so that Noah could have some as well.

I loved them so much I started giving them as baby gifts...

To Baby Becca (daughter of Deb Mom of 3 Girls). Here I am holding Newborn Becca with the new Woobie wrapped around her while still in the hospital. When Aaron would see Becca with hers, he would try to grab it and suck on it. Abby and Hannah, Becca's big sisters, would panic and grab it back to give to their sister.

and my niece Kira (in the back of the stroller with a Woobie wrapped around her). Although Kira later became very attached to her pink bunnies, I am sure the Woobies are around somewhere in her VERY PINK bedroom.

I don't have any pictures of Baby Ronin with his but I remember they were really cute.

Aaron is a "chewer". He chews on everything. From what Steve's mom has told me, he was too and she always gave him a washcloth to chew.

For Aaron, it has always been about the Woobies. He has never preferred one over the others, but always a Woobie has needed to be in his reach, for three years and running. They have become so nasty and ragged that I even approached the woman who made them a few weeks ago to see if she could devise a full size blanket out of the Woobies to salvage them and get more use out of them.

Even at the puppet show at the library last night he had one hanging out of his mouth

And of course to the movie theater today. (Isn't it neat when a story comes full circle?)

So the end of that sentence way back at the beginning of the post...

The Woobie was the only thing available to stop the bleeding.

Oh so sad. I know we could probably clean it, but I have to say, it was already pretty gross...and now to try to clean out some pretty nasty blood stains on top...EWWW!

So, the sad fate of the first of the Woobies...

It is indeed a sad day.

P.S. It is now about two hours after I wrote this post and I am having second thoughts. It wouldn't hurt to TRY to clean it. Any suggestions? I guess that makes this entire post pointless, but I am going to share it anyway. The Woobies are such an important part of Aaron that I think it is still worth sharing.

P.P.S. three hours later....It came out! I have used the spray Oxy Clean Baby for everything for at least a year now and it actually got it out. The Woobies live on!!!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Recycling: The Hand Me Down Way

I was looking through all of the pictures on my computer tonight, deciding what to write about for my Friday post. Completely by accident, I found a funny phenomenon. I have A LOT of pictures of both boys in the same outfit, some two years apart, some only one.

I know we all have terrible hand-me-down stories. My brother has some fun ones about clothes handed down from an older cousin. My sister was SEVEN years older than me, and was a child of the 70's. I still have nightmares about a pair of bright yellow polyester bell bottoms that would be in style now, but were not in the mid 80's when my mom tried to get me to wear them.

I do not want to plague my kids with terrible horror stories some day. They will be spared in part because they are very close to wearing the same size right now, even though they are 27 months apart. Aaron will be taller than Noah soon and they can actually wear the same size underwear and shorts now. I had to go through and put initials in all of the shorts and jeans for ease of laundry delivery because it was taking forever to look at every label for size.

So, I thought it would indeed be fun to show some of the MANY MANY MANY photos I have of recycled clothing in our household.

Noah, Summer 2004

Aaron, Summer 2007

Noah doing crafts already 2006

Aaron the Ham 2007

Noah 2006

Aaron 2007

Noah 2005
(Sorry about the blur)

Aaron 2007

Even Pajamas

Noah 2005

Aaron 2007

And Winter Coats

Noah 2005

Aaron 2007

This last one is my favorite set...these boys are just SO handsome!

Noah 2006

Aaron 2008

And just to show that it started right from the start...

Noah 2002

Aaron 2004

Please don't think that Aaron only gets hand me downs. My step mom has always teased from day 1 that Noah looks "neat no matter what" . These kids are FAR from deprived when it comes to clothing. Noah is much harder on clothes now than he used to be and I am finding less and less stuff that seems to be fit to pass to Aaron. If Aaron keeps growing like this, it will be his stuff passing on to his BIG brother before long.

Do you pass on clothes? Do you have any horror memories of pass ons from when you were young. I am sure we would ALL love to hear...