Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sleep, Baby, Sleep!

It is sometimes a real challenge to get all of the kids to take their naps at the same time.  It seems that when one goes down, another gets up and, it seems, tries to get everyone else who is down to wake up!  I mean, I can understand.  It's much more fun to play with your siblings and friends than it is to do something boring like take a nap!

But I still have the hope and dream of getting everyone into bed and sleeping around the same time everyday.

Today is actually not so bad.  Jo went to bed herself easily.  Gabriel was a bit harder, but once he settled, he was out like a light.  Jesse took some time before he was tired enough, but then he rolled over and slept as soon as I put him down.  So that leaves Baby B.

He is usually my best sleeper (after Jo, who usually sleeps very well and easily for her naps).  But not today. He has realized that across the room from his bed is something very very fun...Gabriel!  So, Gabriel is sleeping, and Baby B is very tired, but he keeps hopping up and 'calling' Gabriel with giggles, squeaks and jumps up and down in his bed.  Then, he throws himself on the mattress and snuggles with his blanket for a minute and then pops back up to jump and giggle again!

Thank goodness for white noise machines!  I think that there is no way things would work out without those! I actually just got another one for the downstairs room where Jesse (my very very worst daytime sleeper!) takes his 15 minute catnaps.  It's not as good as the one I have upstairs, but it's ok.  I kind of wish I hadn't spent the money on it, though, and had held out for another one like the one we have upstairs.

We have this upstairs...the Sony Dream Machine,

and some other cheap one downstairs that only makes noise that doesn't even really sound like it should.  It sounds more annoyingly repetitive than soothing, but it seems to help Jesse, so I guess we'll keep using it for now.

Anyway, I'm going to take advantage of my few minutes peace....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

So THAT'S Where That Was!!!!

I finally took some time to clean out behind and under the couch.  This is what I found when I moved it:

Holy cow!  How long have THEY been under there?  I'd been wondering where they'd gotten off to...

But, after I got them swept up, it really wasn't that bad, although I had been looking for that shoe of Gabriel's as well as wondering why out Uno games kept getting shorter and shorter due to lack of cards...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Happy Birthday, Jesse!

We celebrated Jesse's first birthday on Saturday and he was so cute!  Elizabeth made his cake and she also made a little one that he could dig into as well.  We figured that we didn't really want his sticky fingers in the big cake, so she made a little one, too.  They both turned out really well.

First, we had some pizza...

 Then Jesse began to wonder where his cake was!

 There it is!

 But he didn't really know what to do with it.  He touched it and started crying because he doesn't really like his hands all messy.  Any time he is eating and gets his hands dirty, he will hold them out for us to clean them.  But while he was crying, I took some of the frosting and put it in his mouth.  So THAT'S what that's for!  You could see the wheels turning in his little head...

...and this is how he figured out how to solve his messy hand problem!

  Smart kid!

But Gabriel was having a hard time waiting for the real cake.  We were all looking at Jesse and watching him eat his cake, and we heard 'Mommy, I don't want to eat this part' from Gabriel.

Well, of course not, silly guy!  That's the candle!!!!

Anyway, here's the cake.  It was half chocolate and half vanilla.  Yum!

Then, he opened his presents, and he love love loved them!  Especially this helicopter from Baby B.

So cute!  So fun!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Amazing Flying Potholder!

Last week we had some serious Valentining going on.  The kids all made hearts from their handprints...

 ...and then they made borders and decorations to put around their handprint hearts.

It was a lot of fun and turned out really cute.  But, of course, I don't have any pictures of the final products, and we have already sent them away to grandparents and aunts and uncles.

While all this was going on, there was more fun happening in the kitchen:

Both of the babies were basically following Elizabeth and me around being kind of fussy and wanting to be picked up, so Elizabeth devised a way to entertain and distract them while allowing them to remain on the floor.  She took a long string and tied it to a potholder.  Then she threw the potholder across the kitchen to where they were sitting and then reeled it back in.  It was so cute to watch and they were very much entertained with this 'amazing' invention!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Christmas All Year 'Round

I have a confession to make:

We still have our Christmas lights up on the outside of our house.

Anyone who drives Elizabeth home late from babysitting or from choir knows this is true.  

'Our house is the one there with the fence,' she says.

'Oh, the one with the Christmas lights still on?' they ask.

'Umm...yeah.  That would be ours.  I'll just get out here...'

But really, what's wrong with a little extra color and lights in the evening?  

Honestly, it's just that Gabriel really likes them and turns them on every day and every time I mention to Jimmy that it just might be time to take the lights down, there is a sorrowful 'Noooooooo!' that comes from the back seat of the truck, and so, they stay up one more week.

I did, however, put my foot down on the red ball that was hanging in the middle of the front stoop.  I never really liked the placement of that ball.  There are supposed to be balls all around the gutters where the lights are hung, but somehow, whoever hung the lights this year didn't get the memo.  Not like we don't do them the same way every year...for the last 8 years or so.  But hey, it's easy to forget, right?  I mean you open the box of 'outdoor decorations', see a few strings of lights and a whole bunch of plastic balls, and you think, 'Yep.  It must be just one...just one up there right in the middle.  Just one lonely red ball dangling there all be its lonesome.  That must be what is meant to be done with this big box of balls'

But I digress.  And next year, I will be sure to either write clear instructions or be home during the application of the outdoor decorations.  I mean, I know our big plastic balls are a little hokey, but at least if there are multiples of them, it doesn't look like some weird red nose hanging on our house!

Anyhow, the solitary red ball had to go.

And, of course, we can't just use a ladder like normal people...oh, no.  We have to make a spectacle of ourselves to get it down.

Gabriel was looking on to be sure that we didn't sneak up there and take his lights down, too.

Don't worry, little buddy, we're still the odd ones in the neighborhood with our Christmas lights still up.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Do Not Exasperate Your Children...

Ephesians 6:4  Fathers, do not exasperate your children, instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the LORD.

I firmly believe that children need to learn the meaning of the word 'no', and I believe that the sooner they learn it, the easier it will be on them, on the family, and on the community as a whole.  I believe that many parents have given up on trying to teach their children 'no' and rather go for 'no, ok?'  But to be effective, 'no' can't be framed as a question.  It is no because it is no.  It is not 'no' only if you want to agree with me.

I also do not believe that children should be allowed to run the house.  They should be taught that certain things are not ok and are off limits, especially for the youngest members of the family. Don't touch the computer, for example, or don't drink mommy's coffee Gabriel, or don't put your feet on the table at dinner time, or don't pull the cat's tail or try to take his food from his mouth while he's eating...you know, the things that not only protect the valuables in your house from being wantonly broken, but also to be sure that your children remain relatively safe in their home environment and it is an enjoyable experience for all involved.

But even though the word 'no' is used liberally around our house, I also believe that it is our duty a parents to set up areas where it's easy to follow the rules.  That way, things are more evened out.  You may get more 'no's' at the dinner table, for example, but the living room and your play place is pretty much free game, within reason.

Along those lines, when I see a problem area, I try to figure out if this is an area that needs a 'no' taught, or is this an area that needs to be rethought and redesigned with the kids in mind.

Our 'dining room', if you want to call it that, is actually the room that used to be the tiny kitchen before an addition was added to the house and the kitchen was moved back there.  To get to this 'new' kitchen, you must walk through the 'old' kitchen.  It is quite narrow and a little bit long, and has pretty narrow entrances to it on both ends.  In this small small space, we have a dining table pushed up against the wall with 5 chairs and a highchair crammed around it and 3 tall bookcases.  That means that if someone is sitting in a chair eating and you want to walk past them, they must push their chair all the way up to the table to their chest is touching the table so that you can get past behind their chair.

The bookcases hold most of the books that we have in our house.  The reason that they are there is because there really is no other place to put them.  We have a gate that we can close off so we can keep the littles either in or out of the dining room/kitchen area and away from the books.  But, of course, Jesse's favorite past time is to pull all of the books off the second shelf from the bottom and watch them hit the floor.  They make a wonderful slapping sound on the stone tiles we have in that room, and the pages flutter so wonderfully, it's easy to see how he just can't resist.  However, as much fun as he has pulling them off, it is not fun putting them back up, and it's not even like we can leave them down for the day and just collect them once a day because if we do that, they we can't walk back and forth to the kitchen.

I decided that this was not a place where I wanted to try to teach a 'no' so Elizabeth and I decided to take all the books off that shelf and leave that shelf empty.  Actually, to be honest, it was my idea and she was roped into helping.

This is what we started with (this was after they had been picked up and somewhat neatly placed back on the shelf):

...and this is what we ended up with:

There is something in front of the other shelf so that Jesse can't pull those books off right now.  You see, the problem is that we have too many books!  There is no way to empty those two shelves and still have all the books out.

So now I have come to a dilemma:

Do I put the extra books away to be taken back out who knows when?


Do I get rid of some of the books that we don't use as much and just figure that we can get them back out at the library if we ever want them?

Is it ethical to get rid of books?!?!?!?!?!?

It seems kind of pointless to put the books away.  I mean, if they are packed away, when am I ever going to say, "Wow!  We really have a lot of extra space here!  Let's pull out those old books that we haven't seen in years and stack them up right here!"

But on the other hand, it's really hard to get rid of books!

It does seem more practical to have a carefully chosen library of really awesome books so that they aren't lost in the mediocre ones, I guess, it's just hard to part with books.

Does anyone out there know what I mean?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Gymnastics Take 2

Today was Jo's second gymnastics class.  We had spent some time in the last few days talking about the class and what she thought of it, and what she should expect from it again.  She had said that she liked it and that she liked the other kids who are in it, (who are all younger than her since they don't have a homeschool class, so these are kids that are not yet kindergarten age) and she likes the teacher.  She just said that she felt new and felt as if she didn't belong there; like she shouldn't be there.  We talked about how sometimes we all feel that way in a new experience, but that with time, you can feel more comfortable, and we also talked about how a lot of the other kids in her class are new, too, and how she really does belong there just as much as anyone else.

And she was super excited to go to class this morning.

But then, things kind of fell apart again this afternoon.  She didn't want to learn her AWANA verse.  She couldn't concentrate on it.  Usually she has no problem memorizing the verses very quickly, but she just couldn't get her head around it today.

Then, she had a crying and screaming jag in the car on the way to AWANA.  She wanted one of the other kids in the car to quiz her on addition problems with some flash cards that she had, but they wanted to help her with her verse while she did that...one math problem, say the verse, then another math problem.  Jo has having none of that.  She was also upset about what was playing on the radio and whatever else she wanted to get upset about.

When we got to the 'safety' of the church, she was fine, and she managed to eat her dinner and say her verse in AWANA with no issues, but in the car on the way home, she had a problem keeping her hands to herself and keeping her voice at a normal car noise level rather than just screaming at the top of her lungs.

I am so frustrated!  Mostly with myself.  I mean, I really want her to be able to continue at this gym.  She seems to have a talent for gymnastics, and the price is discounted right now, and I think that if I were to talk to my brother, I might be able to convince him to invest in her and pay for at least a few months of classes, but I'm not sure that it's the best thing for Jo.  So, here I am, projecting what I want on her and not accepting the fact that she is the way she is and no matter how much I desire for her to be able to handle these things, it just may not be something that she can do.

So, I guess I will let her finish out the last 2 classes and let it go.  She definitely likes it, but if it makes her and all the rest of us miserable for the rest of the day afterwards, I guess it's just really not worth it.  And I can't keep denying that this is her reality for right now.

Monday, February 11, 2013

If the Shoe Fits...

I just don't get it.  When I was growing up, we had 4 pairs of shoes:  sneakers (you know, the blue ones with the 2 white stripes down the side), flip-flops (thick foam soles and wide nylon straps, usually in rainbow colors), winter black 'pretty shoes' for church and summer sandals or jellies for church.  That's it.  We got up in the morning, pulled our tube socks up over our calves, shoved our feet in our sneakers where they stayed til it was bath time.  The only time we removed our shoes during the day was after church when we went up to our rooms, took off our pretty shoes, put them in the closet and replaced them with our sneaks.

I do remember that when we were older, we would sometimes go around the house barefoot, but never ever in the winter (we would get sick, or so we were told), and we never ever ever wore socks with no shoes...or shoes with no socks, for that matter.  We were pretty severely chastised if we were found wandering the house with just socks on because we would wear out our socks.  It just wasn't done!

So what changed?  When did it suddenly become all the rage to take your shoes off...every time you enter the house and everywhere you go????  I see kids take off their shoes at church and wander around in their socks!  I don't remember being told repeatedly to put my shoes on or to go find them because they were always always on my feet!  I mean, I understand if you run a household where you take your shoes off when you enter the house because then the shoes (supposedly) stay at the door and are there when you need them.  But that is not the case in our house.  We have hardwood floors through most of the house, and because of all the entering and exiting of both children and pets, the floors just aren't that clean (although Baby B and Jesse do and nice job of mopping them frequently with their pj's as they scoot across the floor...)

The thing is that it's not like I really care whether they wear their shoes in the house or not, although I stick with my dad's rule of no socks without shoes, so we have supplied all the walking people in the house with either slippers or sock-feet (that's what we call the socks that have the leather on the bottom.  They are awesome).

But the problem is that if there are no shoes on their feet while they are in the house, it takes that much longer to get ready to go anywhere!  Holy cow!  It must add at least 15 minutes to the get-out-the-door process!  First you have to find the shoes, preferably a matching pair, and then you have to apply both socks and shoes to twitchy little feet!

Add to that the diapers that need to be changed before we head out and it can take up to 30 minutes to get everyone clean, diapered, shoed, buckled into the appropriate car seats and down the road.  We have cubbies and shelves where the shoes are supposed to go, but they inevitably end up dumped on the floor where Jesse will pick one up to chew on the irresistible rubber sole, and when the shoe is removed from his mouth, it is usually tossed on top of the guinea pig cage in an effort to effectively keep it out of his reach.

I am seriously considering super glue.  I figure that it will wear off by the time they grow out of their shoes, so it could work out to be perfect timing!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Maiden Voyage

We did it.  We finally braved the big wide world and traveled to the library with all of the kids in tow.  Elizabeth and I planned carefully.  The timing had to be just right:  after morning nap at 9, but before lunch.  So, when the little ones woke up at about 10, we mobilized.

First, we had to feed Jesse and Baby B.  Then change diapers.  Pack the diaper bag.  Put Jo and Gabriel into the car.  Give them a snack to eat in the car so that they don't run all around and impede progress.  Apply coats and hats to Baby B and Jesse.  Stuff them in their car seats.  Attach said seats to the car.


Drive down the street.

Arrive.  Choose parking space carefully.  Must be near the entrance with the least amount of street to cover to get the door, but it must have enough space around it to open all the doors.  Park.  Unload.

Stroller first.  (Still looking for a front/back double stroller.  We had to use the jogger today.  It almost didn't fit through the front door of the library.)  Then one baby followed by the other.  Then Gabriel.  Jo.  Books.  Diaper bag.

Squeeze through the entrance.  Snake through the shelves to the kids' room.  Park outside 'cuz the stroller won't fit.

Yay!  We made it!  And fun was had by all.

Then, reverse the process, arrive home, make lunch, feed 4 hungry mouths, tuck things one and two into their cribs.  Read 3 and 4 a new library story.  Tuck 3 into bed followed closely by 4.

Whew!  Done!

We did it!!!!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dissecting a Situation

We started watching Baby B about 2 weeks ago.  Since we started watching him, we have just stayed home for the whole time that he is here...from 7AM-3:30PM.  We have gone outside to play, and we have taken walks, but we have not packed up in the car and gone anywhere.

And Jo has been great.  She has been calm and happy.  She has shared her toys and played relatively nicely with Gabriel.  She has been doing her school work well, and helping out a lot to watch Baby B and Jesse.

But yesterday, she went to her first gymnastics class at My Gym.  I won 4 classes at my MOPS meeting, and so we went to our first one this week.  Jo has been horrible!  Oh. My. Goodness.

It has not been as bad as it has gotten before, but she is a mess!  Crying over everything, fighting with Gabriel, playing way too rough with Jesse, not listening to Elizabeth, easily frustrated with her work and not able to play on her own well.

So what does this mean and how do I deal with it?  Does it mean that she can't go out and do things like gymnastics classes or whatever?  She doesn't have a problem with church on Sunday or AWANA on Wednesday nights, but I guess that's because we have been doing those things every week since...well, pretty much since she was born.

Does that mean that in order for her to be able to 'tolerate' an experience, she needs to repeat the same experience many many times before she can integrate it into her life without and issue?  But then does that mean that I should not have signed her up for the gymnastics classes since they will only last 4 weeks?

Argh!  I don't know.  She loves gymnastics, but is it too much for her and therefore for me since I then have to deal with her?  How do I help her overcome this?

Monday, February 4, 2013

On The Bookshelf: Fact and Fiction

I am still making my way through my The Princes of Ireland book, but curiosity got the best of me at the library the other day and I picked up The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog--What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love and Healing by Bruce D Perry, MD, PhD and Maia Szalavitz.

I seriously could not put this book down.  It was an amazing combination of stories of the children that Dr Perry had worked with as well as pretty detailed explanations of the brain, and when, why and how it develops.  It was absolutely eye opening and made me want to go and just hug on the kids.  It was pretty incredible to see how different children were either able or not able to cope with their circumstances based on how they were treated when they were infants.  Although I do not often buy books for myself, this is one that I would actually consider purchasing just to be able to read and digest it more.  I definitely recommend it as a good read to understand the brain and its development a bit more.

Also while at the library, I happened upon this book:

 Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Oh. My. Goodness.  This is the cutest book I have seen since Skippy John Jones!  It is about a cat named Pete who has buttons on his shirt and as you turn the pages, one by one they pop off.  But does Pete cry?  Goodness no!  Buttons come and buttons go.  He just sings his song about his groovy buttons.  (Ask Gabriel, he can sing it for you.)  Then, at the end, when there are no more buttons on his shirt, he looks down and sees...you guessed it!  His BELLY BUTTON!  It is so cute!  It is a great learning tool.  Each of the buttons is a different color, they have the written math problems on each page as you count down as well as a large numeral to see and trace with your finger if you'd like.  But I think that the best best part for me is that in the end, when Pete has no more buttons, he is sitting on top of a surf board on top of a red VW Bug! AHHHH!!!!  That is what Elizabeth and I rode around in when we lived in Hawaii!  And we strapped our boards to the top!  Perfect book!  I am definitely going to have to add this one to the collection!  I haven't gone online yet to hear the free song, and I'm not sure that I really want to because I think that we have come up with a very good version of it ourselves, but I may go check it out.