Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Disneyland!

So things have been absolutely crazy around here the past two weeks!  When Big-Bug's school break started two weeks ago, we packed up the car and took the boys for their first trip to Disneyland :)  We decided to drive so we would have more control about rest periods, meal times and potty breaks and we were really glad we went that route.  We made it to Sacramento our first day of driving and then were able to make it to Anaheim by about 3:30 in the afternoon the following day.  That first evening we explored downtown Disney (which was new to me!) and enjoyed dinner at the Rainforest Cafe.  The boys declared it to be "the best restaurant in the world." After dinner we spent some time in the gigantic Lego store where the boys each made a custom mini, it was super fun!





Some of the highlights from the actual Disney park days were the Buzz Lightyear astro-blasters (which we had to ride twice,) star tours (which the big boys had to ride twice as well) and the pirate's lair on tom sawyer island!  I think the boys could have spent the entire three days running around the pirates lair and would have been perfectly contented :)  We also watched the Jedi training academy, which was a fantastic show and enjoyed some mandatory churros!  We had some amazing luck meeting the actual Disney characters themselves; time and time again we were in the right place at the right time.  We were able to get photos of the kids with Mickey and Minnie, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy, Rabbit, Tigger and Eeyor and Mr Incredible! We also saw one of tinkerbell's fairy friends (who Big-Bug informed me is named Vidia) and she waved to the boys - but the meet and greet line was 45 minutes long (!!!) so we decided to pass her by :)



The first night we came back to the park after dinner to watch the holiday firework show.  We had a great view of the fireworks going off above the castle (which was all decorated for Christmas) and when the show ended it suddenly started snowing all up and down the main street of Disneyland.  It was fake snow of course, but the kids didn't know the difference and it was so sweet to see the faces of all the little ones as they gazed up at the snowflakes and tried to catch them :)  That was definitely some tangible "Disney magic" and you could have heard a pin drop in the crowd, even the adults were swept up in the spirit of it all.



On the second night we left Disneyland and took the kiddos to a surprise dinner at Medieval times! This turned out to be the favorite part of the whole trip for my husband and myself.  The acting and horsemanship was unbelievably amazing (and the "feast" was delicious as well!) I would 100% go back to Medieval times again (in fact, I can't wait to go again!)  The boys loved it too and were completely swept up in to the fantasy of it all - I genuinely think they believe they met real knights :)


On our third and final night in Disneyland we watched the holiday parade.  We ended up with great seats right in the front row and the parade was fantastic! Baby-Bug was hollering out and pointing to different characters as they passed by "mick mouse!" "buzz bybeer!" and Big-Bug and Middle-Bug were amazed by the marching toy soldiers and bouncing snowmen :)  We stayed late that third night finishing up some rides in California Adventure and said a fond farewell to the castle on our way back to the hotel.




After two more days on the road (and a lot of holiday traffic!) we arrived back home the night before Thanksgiving.  We spent a quiet holiday at home and enjoyed a traditional turkey dinner, just the five of us.  I made my first-ever batch of homemade dinner rolls and was very proud of them :)


That night I headed into work at 11pm to be ready for our store's midnight opening for the black Friday sales.  It was an interesting experience for me, having never worked or shopped black Friday before - but I don't need to do it again :)  Working a ten hour night shift when you are used to working days is a hard adjustment! (Especially hard when the break room is stocked with tang instead of coffee!!!  Tang?! Really?!)

So now we are trying to catch up from all the business of the past two weeks (lots of laundry waiting for me!) and we are settling back into the school routine.  My husband has a business trip this week, and I am putting on a Family Fun Night at Big-Bug's school on Friday, then it's Baby-Bug's second birthday and Christmas soon after...so December is going to be another fun, busy month!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Early Morning Games with Baby-Bug

This morning Baby-Bug managed to take down the baby gate that normally keeps him out of the main living area of the house during the night.  Since he is a pro at unlocking and opening the doors, we like to have some extra security insuring he is not doing any traveling while we are sleeping at night! I guess those peaceful nights have come to an end!

Luckily, after he removed his baby-gate, he just came in to say good morning to us and snuggle a little.  While we were lounging around, Baby-Bug started playing the silliest little game.  He would point to me and ask "what your name?" "My name is Mommy," I would respond "What's your name?"  He would grin really big and say "My name ummmm.....PIZZA!" We went through this exchange probably two dozen times and it was so hilarious!

Later this evening I was changing his diaper and he looked up at me and asked "What's your name?" "My name is Mommy," I told him "what's your name?"  "My name ummmm.....HOT DOG!" he said, then he started over again "My name ummmm.....PIZZA!" he said the second time, then started in again.  "My name ummmm....HAT!" he said the third time.  Then he pulled his ball cap over his face, peeked out and shouted "PEAK A BOO!"

It is so much fun to see more and more of his personality as he gets older. He has such a sense of humor! :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feed the Birds

Earlier this week one of the mommies in our play group hosted a bird feeder making play date for the kids.  We weren't able to attend, and I was so disappointed!  I asked my friend if she would share her directions with me so I could still do the craft at home with the boys and she showed up this morning with not only the directions (which were super cute!) but also an entire kit of supplies all the way down to pre-cut ribbon for hanging the finished feeders!  She is so thoughtful!

So this afternoon I set the card table up on our patio and the kiddos got to work making bird feeders and selecting which branches to hang them on (we only have one tree in our yard and one large lilac bush, so their options were limited haha!)  They really go into it and have been sitting in the yard ever since, waiting for the birds to come ;-)

It was a prefect fall day to play outside!  Chilly, but beautiful.


Halloween was a Blast!

This year we had the ultimate halloween experience (meaning it stretched for days and days! haha)  We started the festivities with an All Saints carnival at church, which was the boys' first "real" carnival experience.  They had so much fun fishing for prizes, tossing bean bags and participating in a "sucker walk." There was even a station to decorate your own sugar cookies, which the boys really got into.  Middle-Bug was a little intense about his frosting, he had to make sure it was perfectly smooth and completely covered his cookie, so he sat at the table for a long time working on his masterpiece!



After church the next morning we attended a traditional halloween party at a friend's home.  She invited a lot of the families from our play group, so the kids had a ton of fun with their buddies and the adults had a ton of fun visiting too!  There were some yummy snacks at the party (as always with our group!) A delicious cabbage salad, adorable jackolantern quesadillas, home made bat shaped tortilla chips and or course - my monster eyeball deviled eggs ;-)


Amidst all the celebration, we also found time to carve our pumpkins!  This year was a lot of fun because we let the older boys draw a face on their pumpkin and then we cut the face out for them like a stencil.  Their creations ended up super adorable!  Baby-bug got really into the fun and seriously enjoyed munching on the carving scraps....it must have been tasty!


On Halloween day Big-Bug went off to school while I took Middle-Bug and Baby-Bug to a play date in their costumes :)  It was so much fun to see all the other little ones all dressed up!  That night we took the boys for some mandatory trick-or-treating.  They had so much fun and Baby-Bug was hilarious.  Once he understood the concept (knock, say trick or treat, get candy) he was extremely enthusiastic!  He said "trick or treat" at every house and would holler "THANK YOU!" or "Happy Halloweeeeeeen!" as we walked away.  Adorable!

A nice, dark, foggy night for trick or treating!

We let the boys enjoy their candy for a few days and then we told them about the "switch fairy" who is building a castle out of candy and will trade kids a surprise for their halloween candy.  The boys thought that sounded fantastic (although Middle-Bug had a few reservations) and that night they left their candy buckets on the front porch for the fairy to the find.  In the morning they ran out to the porch to find their candy was gone and they each had a new transformer instead as well as a copy of "Rio" for the three of them to share.  It worked out really well, so well in fact we are going to try leaving the buckets out the night after halloween next year :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What a Busy Day!

We had such a fun, busy day yesterday!  We took the boys to the pumpkin patch with some of our friends from playgroup in the morning.  It was a little cold when we first arrived, but it was actually pretty comfortable weather-wise while we were there :)  There were so many fun things for the kids to do, there was a big mesh cage filled with rubber balls and a sort of castle wall built out of hall bales for the kids to mock-battle (this was also fun for the grown-ups! hee hee)  There was also a huge hay slide with sleds for the kids to ride on the way down, a zip line, pumpkin tether balls, an awesome (LONG!) hay ride, a barrel train with a speed-demon driver and these long irrigation tubes the kids could roll balls down like a chute.  Aside from the kiddo activities, there was also a 10 acre corn maze that we did not venture into, we probably would have been there all day if we did!



After the pumpkin patch we headed to a friend's house for a birthday celebration! It was super fun with an amazing food-spread and yummy hot apple cider!  The boys had a ton of fun having balloon-lightsaber battles with their friends, running around in the sunny backyard, and watching a little star wars!  We always have a great time with our buddies!

We weren't able to stay for the whole party because we had over-lapping parties that day (what are the odds!) so we hopped back into the car and headed to another friend's house! We arrived about an hour late, but this was a "science party" and we showed up just in time for the experiments!  The big boys got to build baking soda volcanoes, make slime, create pudding masterpieces, and blow off soda bottle geysers!!  They had a blast!  They even each received their own lab coat, ID badge and clipboard to conduct their experiments, it was super cute :)

We made it back home in time for dinner and the kids couldn't stop talking about all the fun things they did that day.  I agree, it was an awesome fun day - but I am really glad we have a wide open schedule after church this morning!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The sick germs have left the building!

So last weekend I came down with something nasty! This rarely happens to me, but I was laid out pretty flat on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately for me I had to work on Friday night!  I managed to make it through my little three hour shift, but there were a couple times I was kneeling down to pick up items off the floor and I honestly wondered if I was going to have the energy to get back up! haha  Saturday morning I woke up feeling worse! (imagine that) I had a bad feeling it was strep throat, so I drug myself to the Dr for a test and sure enough, it was strep!  I can't believe it still, something like 90% of strep throat cases occur in kids 15 and under - I thought I was well past my strep throat years!!  I came back home equipped with penicillin and locked myself up in the bedroom to wait out my 48 hours of contagious time so I didn't share the love with my husband or the kiddos.  That's the bad news.  Since I was contagious and super sick, I also had to miss my Grandmother's 90th birthday celebration that day as well as a fun night out with my girlfriends to celebrate two of their birthdays that same night.  That's the other bad news!!

The good news is - my self imposed quarantine WORKED and a week later, no one else in the family has come down with any sore throat or fever symptoms. Yay!!  The other good news is I am back to feeling like my fantastic self again ;-)  But the best news of all is I got super sick THIS month, instead of NEXT month when we will be in Disneyland *whew* The kids also all had a pretty yucky head cold last weekend and early this week, so we are hoping that will ensure their good health for the trip as well!  All we need to do now is get our flu shots and we should all be in business!! *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Officially Enamored

When we moved to our town about four years ago, I went through the dreaded process of finding a new pediatrician for the kids.  I HATE moving to a new town and trying to find a person I feel I can trust with the health of my children. Moving to a place where we didn't know anyone else compounded the problem, because I couldn't even ask for reliable recommendations from friends or family.  In the end, we found the clinics that were in network with our insurance and took a wild stab in the dark.  I can actually remember calling the clinic to make the boys' new patient appointments.  The receptionist listed off four physicians who were accepting new patients at that time and asked me who we wanted to see.  I picked the doctor with the most interesting name :)

Over the years we have thanked our lucky stars on numerous occasions because our pediatrician has turned out to be the ideal doctor.  He is great with the kids and really pays attention to them when they have something to say, he relates to parents unbelievably well because he has three young children of his own and most importantly - he is willing to settle in and listen to your concerns and answer any questions you might have.  He never makes you feel rushed or unimportant.

Before today I would have described my feelings towards the kids' pediatrician as "appreciative," "grateful," "impressed," "relieved."  But today, I have officially become enamored.

And here's why:

Middle-Bug had his fourth birthday last week and today I was taking him in for his annual portrait.  We always go to a photo studio in the mall down town and have typically had a pretty good experience with them.  Today was unfortunately an exception, but that is a story for another day.  Towards the end of our photo session today, Middle-Bug went to sit down on a small stool in the waiting area.  When he sat on the stool it tipped over backwards and Middle-Bug cracked his head on a table top on his way to the ground.  He instantly started to cry and I went over to inspect the damage.  When I got close to him I could see that he had actually split his head open and was bleeding quite a bit!  The employees at the studio were swarming all around us, one called an ambulance (probably a bit of an over reaction) one brought paper towels, one brought an ice pack, one brought stickers for all the kids and started entertaining Big-Bug and Baby-Bug and one ran to the back to print our photos out at no charge.  In hind sight their response was so smooth, I wonder how many times they have been through this drill!

When the fire crew arrived they took a look at Middle-Bug's head, asked me a few questions about his mental status (which was fine) declared his injury safe enough for private transportation and then I signed some wavers so I could take him to be seen in my own vehicle. The EMT who did the exam recommended the urgent care facility at the local hospital rather than the ER because the wait time is shorter, so I packed everyone back up into the car, called my husband and told him what was going on and then headed to urgent care.  When we got there I unloaded all the kids (and Middle-Bug's ice pack!) and we headed across the loooong parking lot to the entrance.  Unfortunately when we got to the door there was an employee standing outside who asked me if we had an appointment.  WHAT?!  An appointment for urgent care?!  She said if we really wanted to we could come inside, but we most likely wouldn't be seen today.  I asked her where else we should go and she (very rudely!!) said "another urgent care I guess."  *sigh*  So I packed everyone BACK to the car again and called the boys' doctor to see if he could recommend another local urgent care.  They told us to come right in and the doctor could do any necessary stitches/staples himself.  By this point of course, I was pretty shaken up and was trying my best to keep from breaking down in tears while I was on the phone and it was such a comfort to finally feel like we had a solution.

We drove the short distance to the clinic, checked in at the reception desk and were immediately seen!  Their doctor checked Middle-Bug over from head to toe, decided his (extremely minor) head wound was already clotting and sealing up so well he didn't want to mess with stapling it and opening the wound back up, checked his ears and nose and throat for swelling and determined that Middle-Bug was in fact Wolverine.  (To Middle-Bug's unending delight)
This awesome doctor has seen us through an electrical shock, a knocked out tooth, a broken arm, infant hernia surgery, a super-sprained foot and now....a (minor) head wound, each time in a way that has made the experience feel comfortable and safe. I mean seriously, could there BE a greater pediatrician on the planet!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie and What a Day!!

My husband has been out of town the past two days on a business trip.  This is always a challenge for me because it means "Daddy" isn't here to distract the kids while I take care of certain tasks like brushing the kids' teeth at bedtime or cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.  Without that distraction, the kids are left to entertain themselves (something they are very good at doing) and I regularly find myself with twice the mess to clean!

Luckily, these past two days have actually been pretty smooth.  I was able to get Big-Bug to school on time both days, even with the littler bugs in tow.  We had a successful trip to the grocery store all together and I was even able to take care of some banking and finish picking up decorations for Middle-Bug's birthday party this weekend!  On the home front, I caught up on the laundry, cleaned the kitchen and the bathroom and managed to stay on top of the toy clutter (for the most part.)  I was feeling very accomplished and decided I was going to have the house in pristine condition by the time my husband came home this evening.  I had such a good head start on the cleaning I felt like I also had time to make something extra tasty for dinner!  Since I had leftover roast chicken in the fridge, it seemed obvious to do a chicken pot pie.

Lately the bugs have been turning their noses up at veggies, so inspiration struck this afternoon and I decided to make three miniature pot pies (one for each kiddo) as well as one regular pie for my husband and myself.  It took a little longer that way, but I let each child fill their own pot pie with a custom mix of peas, corn, carrots, celery and chicken in the hopes that it would encourage them to actually eat at dinner!  When the pies were stuffed, I added the gravy and then carved each of the bugs' initials onto the top of their pie before popping them into the oven. 

Personal Pot Pies!

I carved a tree into mine, but the kids told me it doesn't look like a tree! haha


I could leave it at that and have you all thinking I had a productive, blissful two days followed by a night of creative cooking and some quality bonding time with the bugs...but instead I will tell you the whole story.  The whole story being that while I was rolling out pie crusts this evening I asked the bugs to please clean up their toys in the living room.  The three of them went right to the living room and I could hear them having a good time together and smiled to myself, thinking they were doing such good work.  Unfortunately, when I peaked around the corner to check on their progress, I discovered they had not been cleaning at all.  Instead, they had been shredding a roll of toilet paper all over the living room.  Yep.  Since I was in the middle of pot pie prep, I couldn't do a whole lot about it aside from confiscating the remainder of the roll and telling the kids they needed to clean up the mess they made. 

A few minutes later, the bugs were chasing each other up and down the hall and into the bedrooms playing some form of pirate game.  At this point, my anxiety level had already been raised, but I could hear little snips of phrases like "which room should be the ship and which one should be the island?" "You take this map and I'll take this one" so everything seemed to be going alright again (with the exception of the shredded paper that was still littered all over the living room floor.)  Suddenly Middle-Bug let out a frantic holler and began to cry and call for help.  I dropped everything in a flash and raced down the hall to see what was wrong. I found Middle-Bug wedged between his closet door and the chest of drawers inside the closet "I'm stuck I'm stuck!" he cried.  I could see right away that all he had to do was turn his head to the side and he could fit right back out the way he went in, but Middle-Bug was so hysterical it took me a while to calm him down enough to understand my directing.  Once he finally emerged unharmed (thank goodness!) I realized Baby-Bug was no longer in the room observing the spectacle.  My mind instantly shot to the unmanned kitchen with it's pre-heating oven, unattended chopping knife and vulnerable pot pies!  I raced back down the hall just in time to see Baby-Bug snatch the open bottle of vegetable oil off of the counter top (what was I thinking!) and take a huge swig, pouring oil all over his shoulder, down his chest and back and onto the floor at the same time.

At that point Baby-Bug was sponged -off and buckled into his high chair for the remainder of dinner prep, and the older Bugs were sent to work cleaning up the mess they had made of the living room (and thankfully, they did clean up this time.)  A little while later the pies were ready and I pulled them out of the oven, carefully popped the Bugs' pies out of their tart pans and dinner was served!  The kids were pretty proud of their creations and spent a while congratulating themselves on being "master chefs."  Then they spent a little while fantasizing about all the things they plan to cook next "I'm going to bake the bread tomorrow morning" "I'm going to put the peanut butter on the sandwiches" "I'm going to do the jelly!" Next they fantasized about turning our house into a restaurant "We can call it pumpkin halloween house restaurant!" "We can invite our friends to eat at our restaurant!" "We'll need decorations!" Finally they picked at the crust on their pot pies...then they asked to be excused.  *sigh*

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big-Bug Starts Kindergarten!

Well, the day we have been thinking about for the past five and a half years has finally arrived.  Big-Bug has officially started school. I have alternated between dreading this day and excitedly anticipating this day for the past year (mostly depending on what kind of mood Big-Bug happens to be in on a particular day ha ha) It is strange to realize that this will now be the "norm" around here for the next 17 years!  For five and a half years, Big-Bug belonged to me alone and now suddenly he has a part of his life (a big part!) that doesn't include his brothers and me. Part of me wants to keep him home with me (hey - there's home school right!?) and another part of me is so excited to see him head out into the world with confidence to learn new things and make new friends.  But all of me feels like the past five and half years passed by way too quickly!  Only another four years from now I will have all three kids in school!  Hard to imagine :)

Big-Bug decided he wanted to ride the school bus to school this year (eek!) so on his first day of school all five of us went out to the bus stop to wait for the bus to arrive.  It showed up right on time and Big-Bug didn't hesitate for a second.  He climbed right up the steps of the bus, found a seat, sat down and started waving to us from the window.  The rest of us hopped into the car and drove up to the school to meet the bus so we could make sure Big-Bug found his way from the bus parking to the kindergarten classroom without any confusion. When we arrived, we found out the school has a great method for keeping track of it's students and all the kids who ride the bus go straight into the gym each morning where they line up by grade and are then released one line at a time into the hallway of the school.  We intercepted Big-Bug when he got off the bus to explain this new info to him and he changed direction and headed straight into the gym.  With a little assistance from the gym teacher, he found the kindergarten line (as I watched through the window) and sat down next to the other children.  We left at that point and as we all walked back to the car my husband told me "It's alright for you to cry, just don't go over the top okay?" ha ha  When he said that to me I paused for a moment to think about it, did I feel sad?  Not really! I was going to miss Big-Bug for sure, but more than anything I was looking forward to hearing about his day when I picked him up from school....only two and a half hours later :)

When the time came, we pulled up to the school with Big-Bug's favorite treat, a vanilla steamer from Starbucks, and waited for the teachers to bring their students out front.  When they walked out, Big-Bug was grinning from ear to ear and barely even noticed I had a steamer for him because he was so busy telling me about the picture he painted, the story they read, and the sparkly playdoh he got to play with in class.  But he was the most excited to tell me "Mom, I can READ!!"

The only negative piece of news he reported was he did NOT enjoy lining up in the gym with the students who ride the bus.  Apparently the teacher in the gym blew a whistle when it was time for the students to be dismissed and Big-Bug thought it was way too loud. He said it scared him and hurt his ears and he no longer wants to ride the bus if it means sitting in the gym each morning.  I was a little surprised he would let a little whistle keep him from the awesomeness of the bus ride (which he LOVED) but he was very insistent. So from now on we are dropping him off in the mornings so he can line up with the kids who get a ride from their parents in the front of the school (under the supervision of a teacher who told me she NEVER blows her whistle because she thinks it is too loud)

Today when we picked Big-Bug up from his second day he told us he got to read books with a "bigger kid," ran into some of his preschool friends at recess (where they apparently played "ninjas") and that tomorrow they are going to work their letter sounds again. I think it is going to be a fun year :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bring it on Fall!!

September is here, it's back to school for Big-Bug (his first "real year" of school and he is SO excited for kindergarten!) and it's state fair time in the northwest! The Bugs and I joined a good friend of ours and her two little boys at the fair last week and oh man did we have fun!!  We started our trip with a European-style circus show with trapeze artists, gymnasts, acrobats, jugglers, clowns, contortionists and musicians.  It was absolutely amazing and so impressive to think about the amount of dedication and self-discipline the performers must have to reach that level of skill-mastery.  The kids were really into the flashier performances, but their interest waned a bit when the more delicate, slow acts were on the stage.  They were boarder-line too young to appreciate how awesome it truly was! I, on the other hand was completely in love with the whole event!  Something about the combination of the music, the choreography was so magical!  When the music started and the show began I actually felt myself tear up - I definitely want to see more circus shows!  My husband promised to take me to see Cirque du Soleil when we got to Vegas (whenever that may be! haha)




After the circus show we spent the rest of our day viewing animals, riding ponies and carnival rides, sliding down big slides, riding a barrel train, eating ice cream, holding a python and walking through a petting zoo.  It was a great time!

The kiddos loved these goats!
That same week we took a camping trip with my whole extended-family on my mom's side.  It's an annual tradition and always a ton of fun.  Since Baby-Bug has been having a really hard time sleeping away from home lately, we decided we would all enjoy ourselves more if we only stayed one night at this year's camp trip.  Thankfully the camp ground is only about 2 hours away, so it's not too bad to go up one day and down the next.  On this trip Big-Bug and Middle-Bug discovered they can swim unassisted in a pool with their life jackets on (prior to this realization they used to cling to my husband and me like little monkeys!)  Once they experienced the glory of "real" swimming, there was no getting them out of the pool!  While we were camping we also enjoyed a lot of great conversation with the family, a nice camp fire and the kiddos even had some toasty s'mores!  Maybe next year we will be able to stay all three nights :)
Ready for dinner!
Since we've been back from camping we have enjoyed a breakfast pajama potluck with some friends from our playgroup and I hosted my monthly book club meeting that same night.  It was a long, busy day- but so much fun!  We also took Big-Bug for his classroom open-house and had the chance to meet his kindergarten teacher.  While we were there, countless older students popped into the room just to say "hi" to their old kindergarten teacher.  I LOVED seeing this, obviously this is a woman who is well liked by her students and it reassures me that Big-Bug will have a great year at school.

yummy over-night breakfast casserole!

Tea Party Table set for a themed book club meeting :)


Today we attended another great play-date with our fantastic playgroup, a Teddy Bear Picnic at one of the local parks.  We have done this in years past and it is always so cute to see all the little kids with their favorite stuffed animals :)  Today was no exception and as an added bonus, a lot of the snack items were adorable too!  There were Teddy Grahams, biscuits shaped like teddy bear faces with sesame seed fur and raisin eyes and smiles and great big ginger bread teddy bears with icing details (very impressive!)

Favorite Teddies (and animals of other varieties!)
We are forecasted to have temperatures in the upper 90's this weekend (maybe even breaking 100!) so it looks like we are getting a last-blast of summer weather.  BUT....starbucks already launched the pumpkin spice latte....so I say: Bring it on Fall!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Life is Never Dull.

I take it back. Any time I ever complained about being bored, I deeply regret it now.  Just in this summer alone we have had a broken arm, a knocked out tooth, a hotel lock-out, a play-pen escapee and a tsunami alarm on the beach.  Tonight we add to the list - a destroyed crib! Baby-Bug is definitely more physically adventurous than either of his brothers were at this age.  Big-Bug was the only kiddo when he was going on two, so he was having to figure everything out on his own.  Middle-Bug was (and is) just the type of personality that would rather snuggle and give hugs than run around and climb things - although he has still had more than his share of bumps and bruises! Baby-Bug though, he has TWO big brothers to keep up with and he takes that job very seriously.  He started climbing the ladder on his brothers' bunk bed before his first birthday (which prompted us to un-stack the bunk beds pretty quickly!) He is fearless on a play structure, we have to stack our kitchen chairs when they are not in use to keep him from climbing up onto the table and I routinely find him standing on the back of the sofa (eek!)

Tonight my husband is at a baseball game, so I was looking forward to having the house to myself (a rare occurrence.)  I made homemade pizza for the kiddos, gave them a bath, brushed their teeth, read them each a story and tucked them into bed.  All three boys were being so good and we really had a pleasant night together.  After I had said goodnight, I fixed myself an iced coffee with almond milk, popped in a movie and got ready to settle in and fold some laundry.  I could hear a little giggling coming from the bedroom, but it was pretty quiet.  Then Big-Bug hollered out "Uh oh mom, I have some BAD NEWS!" I hurried down the hall to see what was wrong and found one of the crib bars of Baby-Bug's crib split in two!  According to his brothers he was kicking at his crib with his feet and yanking on the bars with his arms at the same time.  Apparently this is an effective method of escaping!  Obviously I was not about to leave him sleeping next to the crib bar-turned-spear tip so I set about converting his crib into a toddler bed (thankfully he broke a bar on the removable side of the crib!)  Naturally - this transition is not going well.  It has been almost two hours since I put the kids to bed and all three are still awake.  Baby-Bug won't stay in his bed, he is REALLY enjoying his new freedom.  I had to put a baby gate in the bedroom doorway so I can sleep tonight (Baby-Bug also knows how to unlock and open the front door!) and the gate is doing a pretty good job of containing the chaos.  There is however, a small pile of stuffed animals accumulating in the hallway outside their bedroom.  Poor Big-Bug is trying hard to sleep in a room with his mini-tornado baby brother, but I had to pull Middle-Bug out and put him to sleep in our bed because he was encouraging Baby-Bugs antics a little too enthusiastically.

The Carnage

I'm not sure where we are going to go from here now.  Obviously Baby-Bug can not remain un-contained in a bedroom with his big brothers.  So it's either a new crib (which we probably only use for 4-6 months tops) or it's a re-shuffling of bedrooms......we shall see.  We are a family of five in a three bedroom house, so someone has to share no matter what.  Lately I have been extremely tempted to just get a murphy bed for the living room and give up our bedroom to the kids.  We hardly use our room anyway, we only go in there to retrieve clothing or sleep, so it wouldn't make that big of an impact.  The only issue would be storage...oh, and getting my husband on board  haha

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reading with Baby-Bug

This afternoon Baby-Bug carried a board book out to me and wanted to read together.  This particular book doesn't have any words, it just has a collection of related, brightly-colored photos on each page.  When I "read" this book with one of the boys, I typically just point to each picture and say the name of the object.  Today when Baby-Bug handed the book to me, he pointed to one of the small pictures on the cover and said "shoes!" This is the first time he has ever said the word "shoes" and he definitely knew what he was saying.  I decided to mix things up this time as we read the book, and instead of pointing to the objects and saying their name, I would ask Baby-Bug to point to a particular object on each page.  We made it through the book and by the end I was amazed at his comprehension! He could point out shoes, pants, a shirt, a car, books, teddy bears, a stroller, cup, spoon and fork, an apple, banana, ball, a nose, a mouth, a hand, strawberries, a dog, a fish, a hat, rain boots, a tricycle, a crib (which he called "nigh-night") and a boat.  When he pointed to the boat he even sang "yo-ho yo-ho!" haha. Obviously a lot of these objects are things he interacts with on a daily basis, so it makes sense that he has been exposed to those words, but I was really surprised he knew all the names for those objects because they aren't words he speaks (yet.)  He was pretty pleased with himself!

The other boys enjoyed some reading today as well.  We had a stop at a book store earlier so I could pick up the next four books in a series I am currently reading and I let Big-Bug and Middle-Bug each pick a new book as well.  Instead of books though, the boys decided on comic books!  This is a first for us :)  Big-Bug picked a Star Wars Clone Wars comic (which was pretty neat, even included pages with mechanical specs on some of the fighter planes - Big-Bug was way into that!) and Middle-Bug picked an X-men comic book that also featured a guest appearance from Spiderman! I had to censor out a word a couple of times, but it was a pretty neat story and the kids ate it up!  I have a feeling there will be more comics in our future...

Friday, July 22, 2011

A little of this and a little of that

We have been pretty busy around here lately with knocked out teeth and broken bones, but we have been having some fun and enjoying our "summer" too!


Last week the Bugs and I were able to enjoy a day on the beach with some of our good friends.  The weather wasn't very nice, but it didn't rain (much) on us and it wasn't (too) windy. The kids were hilarious because they actually shed clothing the longer they stayed on the beach!  They started out in swim shorts, rash guard tops and fleece jackets and ended up just down to their swim gear (after first soaking their jackets in the ocean, naturally.)  The kids spent the better part of the day digging in the sand, rolling in the surf and battling with stick-swords outside of drift-wood forts and us moms spent the better part of our day chasing after runaway toddlers, stripping and re-dressing wet, cold kiddos and rescuing beach toys that were stolen by the waves. By the time we called it a day, the kids were thoroughly worn out and the Bugs and I were able to grab a quick dinner at Mo's Chowder House before driving back home.  I tried their shrimp special and it was really good!  popcorn shrimp, prawns and grilled shrimp skewers!  It was more than I could eat so each of the Bugs had their first shrimp-experience as well (they liked it!)


We also went strawberry picking a couple of times!  The Bugs were really into it the first trip out.  They listened attentively and then spent the entire trip crouched down, inspecting strawberries, finding fully ripe berries, carefully twisting them off the plant and adding them to the bucket.  I was actually pretty impressed! Baby-Bug started out doing okay as well, but quickly began stuffing the strawberries into his mouth instead (stem and all)  Since we wasn't be very discriminate about the ripeness of the berries he was eating (some green....some smushy - yuck!) He ended up riding on my back in the carrier instead.  Let me just say squatting down to pick berries with a 30 pound kid on your back is quite a work out!!  The second berry picking trip was not so smooth, which is ironic because the farm had a fantastic organizational system in place.  They assign you to a row of berries, then you walk all the way down the row until you come to a flag staked in the ground.  You start to pick at the flag and you bring it down the row with you as you progress.  This way each group that comes to the field has an easy time finding berries and doesn't have to scrounge through picked over bushes (very smart!) Unfortunately, the kids decided they would rather sword fight with the flags than pick berries, so I picked as fast as I could, filled our bucket and got the heck out of there!  We picked up a box of freshly made strawberry scones and I grabbed a coffee from the farm stand and we all sat in the back of the car munching on goodies while we waited for our friends who were actually interested in picking berries :)  I think we are going to try blueberry picking next, I am hoping this will be more successful because it will be new and because there is no squatting involved ;-)



We also took a family trip the the beach this month.  I had to work during the early part of the day, so we packed the car and headed west for an evening of hot dog roasting and beachy fun!  It was a relaxing time, Big-Bug realized for the first time that it is actually fun to splash in the water and we couldn't keep him out of the surf after that discovery.  Baby-Bug learned to open the cooler by himself and was in heaven helping himself to carrots and bottled water and Middle-Bug.....well, Middle-Bug broke his arm on a log.  But he was having a ton of fun right before it happened!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Deja Vu!

We have another injury in the house.  About a week ago, my husband and I took the boys to play at the beach and roast hot dogs over a bonfire.  It was a fun evening and toward the end of the visit Middle-Bug was really having fun running to the waters edge and then racing away from the waves as they crept towards his toes.  He was laughing his head off and screaming and we were all having a good time watching him.  Unfortunately he lost his footing on the retreat and fell into a driftwood log wrist-first. He cried pretty hard and we spent a while checking his wrist, asking him to wiggle his fingers, rotate his hand, etc.  In the end, it seemed like everything was fine.  He stopped crying, he had full range of motion, his hand wasn't puffy, his circulation was good, there wasn't even a bruise or a scrape.  By the time we were heading back home, Middle-Bug had totally forgotten his hand.

A few days ago Middle-Bug was playing with his brothers and he bumped his arm again and said "ouch! my owie arm!!"  This raised a little red flag for us because there was no way his arm should have still been hurting that many days later.  But, when we pressed on his arm and asked him him a few more questions Middle-Bug said it didn't hurt at all.  We decided it was possible that he just smacked the same arm and it was just a coincidence. 

Yesterday I took the boys to meet a friend of theirs at the McDonald's playground. Middle-Bug was up in the tubes sitting at the top of a slide when another child squeezed passed him and shoved his arm against the side of the tube.  He started to wail and was so upset he had to come sit with me for quite a while before he calmed down.  He was pointing to the SAME spot on his arm and telling me it hurt.  So when I loaded the kids back up into the car I called their pediatrician on my cell and they were able to get us right in (The boys have the most wonderful pediatrician!) They examined Middle-Bug's arm and couldn't feel any noticeable breaks, but he was tender in areas that made them nervous.

So...this morning I took Middle-Bug for a wrist x-ray where they determined he has a green-stick fracture in his right radius very close to the wrist.  After the radiologist, we headed back to the pediatrician's office where they set him up with a splint and called in a referral to an orthopedic specialist.  Now I am just waiting for a call from their office so we can set up an appointment for Middle-Bug to get a cast.  He was a really good patient today, he has some reservations about the x-ray, but he ended up doing very well and was cooperative and pleasant the whole time. He got to pick a treat on the drive home and opted for a cake pop and 'nilla steamer from starbucks :) I feel bad that we let him walk around so long with a fractured arm before we took him in! Ironically he was actually IN the dr's office with a broken arm while Baby-Bug had a check-up!

Oddly enough, this same thing happened to me when I was about 5.  I tripped on my blanket while I was running down the hall and fractured my arm, but it was such a small break it took my parents a while to realize it was actually broken! Deja-vu!

This will definitely make our beach trip this weekend a lot more interesting.....

Friday, July 8, 2011

A not-so-relaxing week

I officially give up the search for relaxation.  After this week, it has become quite clear that seeking out relaxing moments actually sets some cosmic force in motion that results in strange, bizarre and often exhausting circumstances.

It all started on Monday night when I took the family to a Fourth of July party at a friend's house.  There was a fantastic firework show put on by the local golf course, and these friends have a front row view from their porch.  The kids had an amazing time eating popsicles in the dark, throwing pop-its and running around the lawn with their buddies, waving a flag and watching the fireworks exploding overhead.  Meanwhile, we were enjoying a fun visit with some awesome friends and having a good laugh watching all the little boys tumble around together in the grass. Ah yes, it was a prefect recipe for a magical childhood memory :)  We were having such a wonderful time, we even stayed until 11pm!  This was quite a treat for the kids and I must say, they did pretty well with the late night!  So where did I go wrong?  I'll tell you.  Tuesday morning the boys were still asleep at 9:30 (which is highly unusual) so I just took advantage of the quiet, made some coffee and sat down to read the news and have a little "me time."  10:30 rolled around and the kids were STILL asleep.  "nice!" I thought to myself. "what a relaxing morning!" Unfortunately, this relaxing morning resulted in kids who were not tired at bedtime.

Tuesday night I was playing host to the book club I have been attending for almost three years.  I was really looking forward to our meeting because the other ladies are so much fun and the conversation is always lively.  Since it was such a hot day, I thought it might be nice to hold our discussion out on the patio with a small fire and refreshments.  Unfortunately, my fire pit did not want to cooperate with this and tried to smoke us all out instead, so the fire was nixed.  We did sit on the patio however and the breeze was really nice.  Since the kids were tucked into bed and I was going to be occupied all evening, my husband decided to go out bowling with some friends....while I am really glad he had a fun night out, this turned out to be a bad combination of events. Instead of sleeping, my boys decided to alternate between hollering out the window at us, running down the hall and peaking out at us and crying (baby-bug's contribution to the chaos) For their grand finale, the boys ended up outside in their pjs, barefoot, playing on the swing set in the dark.  Needless to say this was a bit distracting, and didn't make for a very relaxing girls' night!!

Wednesday night, after a long bedtime that was made memorable by a post-bath-time poop by a not-yet-diapered Baby-Bug (and the subsequent mess that occurred when his brother discovered the mess by stepping in it) I decided to try for a little down time again.  My husband went to bed early after a long day and the kids were all tucked in for the night.  Baby-Bug was already asleep and things were looking good.  The house was quiet, my to-do list was finished for the day, and I decided to take my book with me into the bath and enjoy the quiet.  Things were gong well, I was enjoying my book when suddenly I heard what sounded like a slight jiggling of the bathroom doorknob.  I listened for a moment to see if that was indeed the sound I heard, but everything was quiet.  Hmmm.  I went back to my book.  A minute later, I heard the sound again.  I decided it was time to dry off and investigate, so I grabbed a towel and was just stepping out of the tub when suddenly "WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM!"  someone started kicking and pounding on the bathroom door!  What in the world!!!  I ripped the door open and discovered Middle-Bug had had a potty accident while he stood timidly in the hall waiting for the bathroom to be free.  *sigh*  So instead of reading in the bath, I cleaned up my son (and the hallway) and got him settled back into bed.

Thursday I was determined.  This was the night I was FINALLY going to relax and enjoy my evening chaos and potty-mess free!  After the kids were tucked into bed, I went out and picked up sushi and a movie for my husband and myself.  We settled in on the couch to watch a light-hearted comedy and started enjoying our yummy dinner from our favorite to-go restaurant.  Suddenly I heard noise coming out of the boys' bedroom.  Annoyed, I marched down the hall to settle them down.  When I opened the door, I found Baby-Bug asleep in his bed and his two big brothers running around the room, throwing stuffed animals.  "BOYS!!"  So I got the kids back into bed and made sure to emphasize how important it was for them to stay in bed and be quiet.  Then it was back to my movie and sushi.  A few minutes later though, I was down there again repeating my instructions and adding the warning that there would be a consequence involved if they boys wouldn't follow directions.  Again, back to the couch I go and FINALLY everything is quiet and it seems like that elusive thing called relaxation might finally be mine.  Fast forward a half an hour and I am kicking back on the sofa, laughing at the movie and enjoying my evening....suddenly *Crash*WHAM*WAIL!!  I am on my feet in a second and racing down the hall.  I throw open the boys' door and flip on the light and there is Big-Bug, sprawled out on the middle of the floor with blood dripping out of his mouth!  I scoop him up and carry him to the living room, dripping blood the whole way down the hall.  I peak inside his mouth to survey the damage and find a big gaping hole where one of his front teeth used to be!  "What happened to you!!!" I ask "I fell off my bed" he replied....somehow this explanation and his current condition just don't add up, so I walk back to the bedroom and ask Middle-Bug "what happened to him?".  "He was climbing on the crib and he fell off"  Yes, this explanation is a lot more believable.  Big-Bug admits that his brother is telling the truth while he sits on the couch, biting on a wet wash cloth to stop the bleeding.  Meanwhile, I debate the necessity of a late-night ER trip with my husband.  Thankfully, the missing tooth was one that was already loose and we had been warned by the dentist 6 months ago that the root of this tooth was dissolving quickly and would likely soon come out.  Upon closer inspection, we could see that Big-Bugs tooth had come completely out, and had not cracked off.  We could also see that the blood had actually come from his lip, which he bit into when he fell, and not his gums - so that was reassuring as well.  In the end we settled for leaving a message for the dentist and putting his tooth under his pillow for the tooth fairy.  Thankfully, the boys have a routine dental appointment on Tuesday already.

At this point, I decide that any relaxing activity just invites chaos into my life and just turned in for the night. As we are laying in bed reading, my husband says "didn't you make some dessert? How about we go back out to the living room, cuddle up on the couch with some dessert and read for a while."  "You know what,  lets do it!" I say.  So we hop up to walk down the hall and I look over at my husband and see an ENORMOUS bug  on his leg!! He takes a swat at it and it starts flying around the house while we alternate ducking, swiping and eeking! Yes....relaxation and me, it's just not meant to be!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The sometimes surprising kindness of strangers

This morning the boys and I went to the park with our playgroup for a little play time and some fun with sidewalk chalk.  The older boys had a great time running around playing "star wars"  (what else!) with their buddies and Baby-Bug enjoyed throwing the chalk in the garbage can one piece at a time ;-)

Towards the end of our play date a group of late-teens/early-twenties guys on skateboards stopped near the playground to use the water fountain.  Baby-Bug was instantly locked onto the skateboards and hopped off the see-saw to get a closer look.  As he approached the group, the guys started talking to him and he babbled excitedly and pointed to their skateboards.  One of the guys handed his skateboard to Baby-Bug and Baby-Bug happily bounced up and down while he held it.  I was standing near by getting a kick out of the whole exchange when all of a sudden the young man said to Baby-Bug "You like that? It's yours!" and the three of them turned and walked away! So, Baby-Bug proudly toted home a skateboard that is bigger than he is and I remain amazed at the sometimes surprising kindness of strangers.  I have found the greatest acts of kindness have often come from the most unexpected places.

*and now I will be off to buy a helmet ;-)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Much on my mind

Today was...well...it was. 

In order to fully understand today, I have to take you all on a journey back to yesterday.  Yesterday being the day I ran out of milk, cheerios and bananas.  This may sounds like a minor irritation to most of you, but in a house with three small boys this is a crucial emergency.  My children cannot start their day without a bowl of cereal and a banana.  I can make oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, crepes, cinnamon rolls - you name it and those kids will be crying for their cheerios.  They definitely did NOT get this trait from their mother because I can't stand anything bland and cardboard box-ish.  Further complicating this situation were the facts that 1- my husband was leaving town the next morning and was going to be gone on business for a couple of days and 2 - I had a job interview in the morning before my husband left town.  These factors left me with two options.  I either had to run out to the store late last night and stock up, or I had to listen to the kids whine over their pancakes while I got ready for my interview and then drag them all out to the store with me later in the afternoon.  I am sure you can all see which one of those options was more appealing! So around nine o'clock last night, my husband still wasn't home from work.  This indicated to me that he was going to be quite late and I figured I had better send him a message asking him to come home before ten so I could make it to the store.  I sent a short, friendly message to his phone and then set about menu planning, writing up my shopping list and optimistically getting my shoes on.  Ten o'clock rolls around and there is still no word from my husband. Okay - he will walk in any minute....I'm sure of it. Ten fifteen, still nothing!  At that point I decided to message him again to find out how close he was to home.  Ten thirty he finally responded telling me he had just now checked his messages and was still at work.  *sigh*  So he rolled in at 11pm....the same time the grocery store closed for the night.

The result? This morning I woke up to my alarm a full two-hours earlier than I needed to start getting ready for my interview.  I threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth (your welcome) and combed out my bed-head on my way out the door.  I arrived at the grocery store in the early morning when all the aisles were still cluttered with boxes as merchandisers stocked the shelves. This proved to be quite the navigational challenge. By the time I checked the last item off of my list, I had an overflowing cart and 90 minutes before I need to be leaving my house, dressed for my interview.  Naturally I ended up in line behind someone who had apparently never been through a check-out line in their life.  They fumbled through every step of the process and I stood patiently behind them with my "friendly" smile glued to my face in desperate self-preservation. When I finally made my way out of the store I decided I had earned a cappuccino for my troubles.  As I drove home sipping my coffee I imagined myself taking a quick shower, getting dressed and heading out early - coffee in hand - to find my zen place and center my focus in peaceful solitude before my interview began.  This picture depended entirely on my husband's willingness to unload the groceries from the car while I showered of course, and that was a bit of a problem.  When I opened the door to the house I found everyone (including my husband) still asleep in their beds!  Well - actually the kids were all awake in their beds...my husband was the only one sleeping.  When the boys heard me come in they immediately jumped up and hit the ground talking, there was an instant spike in the noise level in our house and hubby must have noticed because he came out of the bedroom pretty darn fast! He instantly started changing the baby - then setting out breakfast and before I knew it, I had unloaded all the groceries while I waited for him to finish up with the kids.  I checked the time and now had only 30 minutes before I need to be leaving for my interview.  I got myself ready as quickly as humanly possible and raced out the door (with my coffee!) hoping I wasn't going to fall off my shoes and make a fool of myself.  I arrived at the parking garage a few minutes ahead of schedule, fed the meter and then sat down in the car to finish my coffee and find my center....yeah...right!  It took all the time I had to just calm down from the frantic pace of the morning, leaving no time to run over potential interview questions and responses in my head.  Before I knew it I was standing in the administrative offices, shaking hands wondering "How did I get here?!"

Luckily, the interview seemed to go well and I am confident that I made a memorable impression (in a good way, I promise!) since the woman conducting the interview and I shared a common interest that we chatted about afterward.  I am really hopeful that this will turn into a job offer for me. The position would be part time, on-call scheduling, but it has the potential to turn into a permanent part-time career position.  And that would be fantastic!

So now I am just going to relax after an exhausting day and a trying dinner experience with a certain kiddo and....wait....what's that? I have to do it all over again tomorrow at another interview...with an out-of-town husband and a (generous and awesome) babysitter?!  *double sigh* I guess it will be a long night of cleaning and planning instead. (Did I mention Big-Bug also has his kindergarten orientation tomorrow afternoon? Yeah, it's one of those weeks!)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finished Ranting...for now ;-)

So, after last nights food-rant, I decided I had better come back on here and share my weekly dinner plan.  Yes, I did manage to come up with some meal ideas that are made of actual food, so it's looking like the world isn't quite as dim a place as it seemed last night ;-)

This week we are going to be having a little more meat than usual because our local grocery store is having a good sale on local, whole fryer chickens.  (and I forgot to add in last nights rant that I am also trying to stick to a grocery budget!!)  So for dinners this week we are going to be having:

Crockpot roasted chicken with steamed broccoli and carrots and mashed potatoes
Chicken (left over) black bean and sweet potato soft tacos
Black bean corn cakes with guacamole
Oven baked chicken with sweet potato fries and green beans
Curried lentils with garlic naan and roasted squash
Chicken (left over) pizza with sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and baby spinach
Black bean and tomato stuffed baked sweet potatoes

I'm also planning to try a new cookie recipe this week.  It is made using bashed bananas and oats for the foundation and then sweetened with chopped dried fruits and nuts.  Sounds absolutely delicious! I'm going to make them tomorrow night so I have a batch ready for my fabulous friend and her kiddos when they come over to babysit on Thursday afternoon while I am at a job interview.

After five years of being "just mommy" I am officially re-entering the workforce (or trying to anyway.)  Now that I have finished my degree, it is time for me to find a small, part-time job and start paying off my student loan!  Luckily, hubby writes his own schedule, so we will be able to work around each others schedules and avoid daycare for the bugs.  I would ideally like to find part time work in my degree field, but it is unfortunately really hard to come by.  Instead I am going to settle into something that will just be an enjoyable place to take off my "mom" hat for a while and enjoy interacting with other adults :)  I have two interviews this week, which is really exciting!  I will admit, I am a little nervous since I haven't interviewed for a job in so long - but luckily hubby interviews people all the time! So he can help me brush up on my rusty interview skills ;-)

Once the bugs are all in elementary school full time, then I will be looking for an actual career in my degree field.  I am hoping keeping up my volunteer work between now and then will help me stay relevant! Wish me luck!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Discouraged

Lately I have been starting to feel like there is nothing to eat. Period!  We have been trying to eliminate certain things from our diet and it is becoming such an exhausting challenge for ME!  We started by going organic for dairy and produce, then we (mostly) eliminated red meat, then switched to only local chicken and only wild-caught fish.  Next we reduced our total meat consumption to only 3 or 4 days a week. Then we eliminated artificial flavors, food colorings (with rare exceptions on birthdays) and most preservatives.  I started baking our bread at home to escape the preservatives and additives in bread and then, like most of the world - we zeroed in on high fructose corn syrup (which is in everything!) Now most recently - hubby has decided to go off of processed sugar.  This move pretty much eliminates everything else you can buy ready-made, partially processed/prepared or packaged.  While I fully support the this move from a health-aspect....I am finding myself exhausted under the strain of being the full time cook around here!  Suddenly meal planning is infinitely more challenging and the amount of time spent in the kitchen actively cooking has sky-rocketed. Hubby and myself could get along happily on salads, fruits, veggies, nuts and lean proteins like beans, lentils and fish - the kids are unfortunately a little more picky.  If I fed them an entree salad for dinner each night - they would starve!  This means I am stretching my brain to find ways to prepare a sweet potato that fits in our nutritional constraints, but also appeals to a pre-schooler.  (I have found oven-baked sweet potato fries to be the best approach so far)

This evening I turned to the internet for meal inspiration. I googled "quick, healthy dinner ideas" and instantly had more results than I could ever hope to read through.  I started at the top and began working my way through and each site just brought me more and more frustration.  Every article has suggestions that included things like ramen noodles, lean pockets, dinners drenched in ketchup, store-bought sweet and sour sauce poured over frozen meatballs, etc etc.  It really made me pause to see these ideas listed as "health food" for our children.  With advice like this circulating, it's no wonder we are faced with an epidemic of childhood obesity.  Who in their right mind would advise parents to feed their kids something so heavily processed as a healthy meal? 

Since the internet has let me down so terribly, I am afraid I am going to have to dust off my tired brain for some old-fashioned creative thinking. Maybe once I put my dinner menu together I will right my OWN article on healthy dinner options to counter some of that mis-advise on the www!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The sun! It IS real!

Man, after all these months of rain and cloudy skies - I actually got a little sunburned today! Clear blue sky, 72 degrees...a perfect day!  What made it even better was today was my testing day down at the Willamette River.  Hubby left for a business trip this morning, so I ended up taking the Bugs with me to the river for the first time.  There is a parking lot next to the dock and we usually set up our testing station in an empty parking space, or on someone's tailgate.  So today I made the Bugs a bargain - if they would sit cooperatively in the car (in the shade with the windows down of course) while I stood next to them and ran my tests, I would take them across the way to the playground when I finished my sampling.  Naturally this proposal was well received.  One of my site mates, Steve really sweetened the deal as well by sharing his orange tic-tacs with Big-Bug and Middle-Bug while they waited (Baby-Bug was not amused by this development.) He is such a nice guy, I have really enjoyed getting to know him and the other two team members this past year.

After we wrapped up our tests, I took the Bugs over to the playground and they had a fantastic time trying all the "new" toys.  We have never taken the Bugs to this particular park before and it really does have a very impressive play structure - lots of activities AND swings!  After we had been in the heat long enough, I took the Bugs for a shaded walk over a small bridge to look at one of the tributaries that runs into the Willamette, then I took them to check out the dock on the way back to the car.  This was a big moment for me because I have three kids and two hands!  Taking them out on a floating dock (with no rails) seemed a little stressful to mom!!  But they did SO well - super mature and safe about the whole thing - I was really impressed.

When we came back home I went out to work in the yard for a while.  The Bugs were playing with their new water table and I decided to work on pulling up all the vegetation from a section of our yard where we are planning to put down a gravel pathway.  As I was working away I uncovered the severed tail of a squirrel. Now - I spent years working in the animal care department of a wildlife park and I also spent a couple of years working on an ambulance where I saw all sorts of blood and guts.....but this squirrel tail....YUCK!  I literally felt queezy when I saw it!  The worst part is, the boys and I have named the squirrel that hangs out in our yard (Wallie) and we haven't seen him around for a while....After that discovery, I put my tools away and called it a day! Ha Ha  I did venture back out later though to cut the front grass and I am so glad I did!  This evening the sky clouded back over, the breeze picked up and everything is gray again.  I wouldn't be surprised to see rain tomorrow. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Dialogue with Baby-Bug

So Baby-Bug will be 17 months old next week and his language is really blossoming lately!  It's funny to watch because the more words he learns, the more his older brothers seem to notice him.  Suddenly he is finding himself included in the game more often than not.

Right now the big boys have three favorite activities involving Baby-Bug.  The first is lining up at one end of the hallway and telling Baby-Bug "Say Go!"  Then when Baby-Bug says "Go!" the big boys run to the opposite end of the hall as fast as they can.  The three of them can do this over and over and over again.  The second popular past time is dog piling on each other. The boys rotate who is on the bottom and take turns stacking up on top of each other, for some reason this is hilariously funny to everyone.  The third and most recent addition to the bugs' play time is a sort of repeat after me game.  The big boys will take turns asking Baby-Bug "can you say (insert word here)?"  and Baby-Bug will repeat the word back to them (or at least make an earnest attempt.)  When Baby-Bug successfully repeats the word, all three boys break out in applause.

So far his words include "Hot," "Bye-Bye," "Hi," "Nigh-Night," "Ma-Ma," "Da-Da," "Ready," "Go," "Hey!" "What?" "Why?" "Whereda-Go?" "Hereda-Go," "Ow" "Tiggle-Tiggle (tickle-tickle)" and of course, "Uh-Oh!"  My favorite word of his is "What" because he pronounces it so perfectly and really knows how to use it at an appropriate time.  It is so painfully adorable when I call out to him and he responds right back to me "What?" haha

Baby-Bug has taken a real interest in animal sounds lately as well.  His favorite animal is a dog - whenever he sees one he gets so excited and immediately starts barking :)  He has also started to imitate a duck saying "Whack-Whack" and even flapping his elbows like a bird wing.  This evening he made a good attempt at cock-a-doodle-do but it came out a little more like "Gogga-do-DO!" :)  I am also pretty sure he said "Ca-Ca" for cookie yesterday, because he said it twice and pointed to the plate of cookies on the counter each time, but it may have been a coincidence. I will have to see if he does it again.

It's so much fun to watch his personality peek through a little more and a little more.  He is such a cutie pants, but also such a sneaky little guy!  He definitely keeps me on my toes :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Reasons This Weekend Rocked!

#1 - The weed filled cracks in our front driveway are no more.  Not only have all the weeds been pulled and disposed of, but the cracks have been patched as well! (nice work honey!)



#2 - The spot of adhesive left-over from the sticker that came on our bathtub that has been collecting fuzz and dust for almost two years has FINALLY been scrubbed off.  Why it took me two years to buy some rubbing alcohol, I will never understand.

Now you see it...
Now you don't.
#3 - Our master bedroom (that was originally the Bugs' bedroom) finally looks like a "grown up" room again!  Thanks to a little blue paint, the cat and the fiddle and the cow jumping over the moon no longer decorate our bedroom walls.

 
"Hey diddle diddle.."

yes, that is a dream catcher.  Don't laugh, it works!


#4 - The new patio bench Hubby brought home yesterday and the cozy fire we cuddled by after we tucked the kids into bed! ;-)


#5 - Awesome BBQ for dinner!

Whiskey river burgers, fresh pineapple, stuffed portabella caps, macaroni salad and chips with guacamole!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter!

Well, we made it!  Hubby and I managed to successfully cart the Bugs up to Washington, attend mass on Easter Sunday as well as two separate Easter parties and cart the Bugs back down to Oregon in about a 36 hour window. It was busy, but a lot of fun and we were able to see so much of the family!!  This year was a special treat for two reasons; one - my Aunt and Uncle from Texas were up for a spring break visit and were able to join us at Easter party number one.  Two - Hubby's Grandad is over on a visit from Scotland and he was able to join us (along with Hubby's parents) at Easter party number two!  The kids were able to visit with all eight of their grandparents on the same day, such a rare treat!

And speaking of treats....the Easter bunny(s) were extremely generous this year! On top of the Easter baskets of cake pops, chocolate peanut butter eggs, apple spice cookies, fresh berries and carousel tickets the Bugs received bendable bunny figurines, glitter stickers, a peter rabbit book, cute carrots stuffed with reeces pieces, chocolate bugs, an Easter sticker book, crayons shaped like rocks and authentic cadbury button eggs that came all the way from the UK. Wow!

Of course we had a ton of delicious food at the parties as well! My aunt made a wonderful crustless quiche that she served with ham, french toast, muffins and a yummy fruit salad with mangoes, strawberries and kiwi.  At the second party we potlucked and there were so many tasty things! Two types of ham, garlic potatoes, deviled eggs, pistachio salad, trifle, pasta, a pea salad, home made creamed corn, hot crossed buns, and much more!  My mom made a cute bunny cake for the kids to enjoy and I made some marinated mushrooms and tried really hard not to eat them all myself! haha (I do love the mushrooms!)

Now we are trying to settle back in and catch up on the house work that always seems to pile up when we are planning a trip out of town (even for only one night!)  We are looking forward to a busy month ahead full of many more exciting times!




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lemonade...that made itself!

As I mentioned earlier, Hubby has been working the closing shift while he looks for a new employee for one of his stores.  I have been trying to make the best of the long LONG days this creates for me and the boys!  It's amazing how that small but crucial 2 hour difference really upsets the flow of our days around here!

Well today, I didn't even need to work to turn my lemons into lemonade, they did the transformation all on their own!  This morning was our playgroup's annual pre-Easter Easter egg hunt and since Hubby is closing tonight, he was able to join us at the park!  The Bugs were SO excited to bring their daddy along, the joy of bringing Daddy to playgroup might even have overshadowed the joy of egg hunting :)  To top it off, the weather was beautiful and we were able to spend a fun morning together in the park, coffee mugs in hand, watching the Bugs scurry around with their friends as they gathered eggs.

When the hunting had ended, Big-Bug suggested taking Daddy to his new favorite restaurant - Sweet Papaya.  This is a relatively new establishment in the north side of town that serves frozen yogurt.  What is unique about this frozen yogurt bar (at least it's unique in our area!) is it is self-serve and there are an overwhelming number of flavors to choose from as well as an enormous topping bar!  When you are finished customizing your creation, you weigh your cup and pay by the pound (well, ounce really.) We had the whole place to ourselves this morning and created some delicious, sickeningly sweet goodies!  Big-Bug tried the chocolate frozen yogurt with a variety of chocolate chips, m&m's, gummy bears and reeces pieces on top.  Middle-Bug had strawberry frozen yogurt with blackberries, raspberries, gummy bears and chocolates, Baby-Bug had vanilla frozen-yogurt with black berries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and mango on top, I tried the white chocolate macadamia nut frozen yogurt with a variety of berries and mango on top (and I will admit - some english toffee bits!) and Hubby tried a mint vanilla frozen yogurt swirl with strawberries and walnuts on top.  It was all so delicious!!

By the time we made it home, the bread machine was just finishing and it was time for lunch.  The Bugs all sat down to eat while hubby got ready for work and then he was on his way. True - he won't be home tonight to join us for dinner or read bedtime stories.  But if he had opened this morning we would have missed out on a wonderful time at the Easter egg hunt and a great family outing to Sweet Papaya! I'll take that trade any day!