October 31, 2012


Halloween 2012 was fun . . . and COLD! Even so, the boys were so thrilled to be in their costumes, they had no trouble posing for pictures.

Claire on the other hand . . . not so excited about it.  

It was cold, and trick or treating was short, but it was one of my favorite Halloweens so far.

October 26, 2012

Dear Claire, Months 8, 9 & 10

Dear Claire,

You have become super chatty.  Some might say that makes you a lot like me.  We'll see.

The other night, I was spending some time with you before bed and you kept looking at me and saying "Daba! Daba! Daba!"  You said it with such conviction that I felt like I should know what you're saying.  My interpretation was: "I'm so tired, and I'm doing my best to stay awake so that we can chat for a while."

You've also started saying "ga ba bye" every time someone leaves or is headed toward a door.  We wonder if it's just a fluke, or if you really are saying "Go bye bye."  Or maybe you've just learned that when you say "ga ba bye" you have four people who stop,  smile and give you all of their attention.  That could be it, too.

I love our chats now, but I really look forward to our chats some day.  I love talking with your brothers and I know I'll love talking with you.  It makes me think a lot about what my relationship with you three will be like as we get older.  I picture us as good friends, but I push those expectations out of my mind almost as soon as they enter.  I've learned in my 34 years of life that expectations about how relationships will be often leave me disappointed, so I try to not to expect much. But I can hope, can't I?

Your "baby-hood" is almost over and the toddler stage is quickly approaching.  Just typing that puts a lump in my throat.  You've taken two steps on your own now, but only a few times.  Just like you have with everything else, you're taking your sweet old time.  You have just a tiny bit of hair.  Enjoy it while it lasts though . . . give the genes on our family, you'll eventually have more hair than you can handle.

All four of us are totally in love with you, Claire.  The boys take care of you so well and sometimes your dad and I just look at you and then smile at each other in disbelief over how beautiful you are.  We love you so much!



October 19, 2012

Claire at 9.5 months

At 9.5 months, Claire . . .

. . . weighs 21 1/2ish pounds and measures 28 1/2 inches.  Is that right?  I think it is.  I have trouble keeping it all straight.

. . . loves peas and peaches.  Does not like pineapple.

. . . Will stand on her own for a minute or two at a time.  She's taken 2 steps on her own, but really had to be coaxed.  She never falls back to the ground.  She slowly lowers herself and sometimes pauses half way down in a way that makes it look like she's practicing the wall sit.

. . . sleeps 12-14 hours at night and still naps twice a day. Since she's the third child, we're aware of how lucky we are.  Though, she really does okay if we skip her morning nap, so I think it's probably on its way out.

. . . wears 12 - 18 month clothing.

. . . continues to be the happy, easy going baby that she's always been.  Sometimes I can't even believe how great she is.

. . . has a smile that will light up even the darkest of rooms.

. . . stops whatever she's doing and crawls furiously whenever she hears the door open.  Seeing her dad or brothers come in induces arm flapping and squealing.

. . . squeals whenever we take the gate down because she knows it means we're taking her downstairs to play with her brothers.  She loves those boys.

. . . makes a funny little gasping noise (that so reminds me of Bennett) that makes us laugh every time.  Between that and her stink face, she knows how to make us laugh.

October 10, 2012

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

I pre-ordered Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing soon after I learned that it would be available.  It arrived yesterday and Ben and I spent a while looking through it and reading bits and pieces.  I love it.  So does he.

October 9, 2012

On Bennett . . .

A few things about my favorite middle child . . .
  • He will do anything you ask him to do . . . in his own time.  He's so much like Kyle in that way.  Everyone tells me what a difficult/stubborn kid Kyle was, and now seeing how Ben is, I can see how he might sometimes be perceived that way.  Ben (just like his father) really needs time to warm up to an idea before he'll participate wholeheartedly.  If he has to do something before he's ready (which is quite often, because some things in life won't wait) he does it under protest, kicking, tantrums, etc.  When possible, I wait for him to come around to an idea.  During all the other times, he just has to suck it up.
  • His favorite game is "made you look."  It's so "fun" when he yells "Hey, Claire's choking on my lego!" and then exclaims "Made you look!"  It's hard to make a 3-year-old understand why that might make Mom frantic rather than make her laugh.
  • He's the first one awake.  Every. Morning.
  • Ben does not like to be the center of attention unless he initiates it.  He loves to tell people what he's done and he's so proud of his accomplishments.  But when he has to do something on his own in a room full of cheering people, he's not all that cooperative. 

    Case in point: The trike-a-thon.  Last Thursday, Ben had the chance to participate in a preschool fundraisher called the "trike-a-thon."  He talked about it all week and asked every day if it was trike-a-thon day.  On the day of, he was the first one out the door, tried to load his bike up into the van on his own and was so excited.  But as Kyle and I watched him sitting with his class, I could see him glancing at the first group of riders watching the cheering parents and I leaned over to Kyle and said, "Uh, I'm not sure how this is going to go."

    Sure enough, it was his turn and he refused to ride.  The teacher had his bike up there ready to go and he wouldn't get on.  About two hours after the trike-a-thon, he announced he was ready to ride, but it was obviously too late.  Life lesson . . . check.
  • As we were driving to school this morning, Ben yelled "MOM!  JACK'S ANTAGONIZING ME!"  A year ago at this time, I was having him evaluated for speech therapy.  My, how things have changed.
  • He's still loving preschool.  All he'll ever tell us, though, is "I had fun."
  • He loves to "read" books to us  . . . the ones he's memorized, that is.  If he doesn't remember the words, he just makes them up.  The made up story is usually more entertaining.
  • He looks forward to Jack coming home every day.  It's a count down from when he wakes up from his nap.  He looks out the window and asks about every 10 minutes when Jack will be home.  It really is cute.  Though, within 5 minutes of Jack arriving home, the boys are fighting, so I'm not really sure what he looks forward to exactly.

October 7, 2012

Taking back the basement

The basement is where we keep most of our toys. And if you had ever been in our basement before last spring, you know it looked like we have at least 12 children. It was ridiculous.

Back in April, I was at my breaking point. There were toys everywhere and I couldn't keep up with it. I expected the boys to take care of their things and put them back where they belong, but they're 4 and 2 and were practically drowning in all of the stuff. I've organized and rearranged more times than I can count. We needed a different solution.

And then I found an article on pinterest that changed my life. I didn't pin it and when I went back to find it, I couldn't. If you know which one I'm talking about, PLEASE link to it here because this particular blog had some other great ideas for living simply with children.

This particular post basically said that usually kids have way too many choices and that inhibits their play. After reading that, I watched my boys and both of them (especially Ben) just kind of bounced from thing to thing and never really sat down to play with anything for any significant period of time. Also, we never had all of the pieces to most of the toys together, so they couldn't even play with some of them.

So over Easter weekend, Kyle and I took all of the toys from their room, the living room and the basement downstairs and we all went through the toys together. We eliminated over half of the toys!

Here's our new system for the leftovers:

90% of the leftover toys were divided between five tubs. Two really large tubs and three medium sized ones. All of the tubs are in the closet under the basement stairs. Our original plan was to bring out one tub every day.  At the end of the day, all of the toys went back into the tub and back in the closet.  Then the next day, the new tub would come out.

We left out plenty of "staples" that are out all the time.  Their play kitchen is stocked with pretend food.  They have a bin of balls. We also left out the large cardboard blocks and the trio blocks because those are things they play with regularly.  We left out the train sets for the same reason.

We started the new system that week and I was pretty sure that we'd get a week or two in and abandon it.  But we didn't.  It was GREAT!  Every day was like Christmas when they'd open the new bin to see what they could play with.

We have made one adjustment, though.  We now leave each bin out for 1 - 2 weeks at a time.  I was noticing that Ben would be really excited about the fire truck one day or Jack would get really interested in a particular puzzle, but then we had to put it away at the end of the day without them really getting enough time with it.  Also, it was getting annoying to have to go downstairs and shift REALLY heavy tubs each and every morning.  So, we pretty much just leave it out until it's time for a change.  And then it's like Christmas all over.

All of Claire's toys are upstairs and the only boys' toys allowed upstairs have to be baby-safe and approved by Kyle or I.  This is a little tricky, and we do a lot of sending them back downstairs with things, but overall, it's really helped.  When Claire started crawling, we put the gate up at the top of the stairs, and it's been nice because when the boys come up and wait at the gate for us to let them through, we can tell them to take things back down before they even get them upstairs.

When we feel overrun with toys, we just leave all of the bins in the closet for a while and just let them play with the staples and all of their books.  It's been interesting, too, because they've made up more games than they ever have before and I wonder if it's because they aren't as distracted by the other stuff.

I rarely stick with this kind of organizational system, but this one works so well, that it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

October 6, 2012

On Jack . . .

Jack is enjoying Kindergarten, though he asks to stay home quite a bit.  I don't think it has as much to do with Kindergarten as much as it does him missing being at home and wondering what his brother and sister are doing without him.  His printing has improved drastically over the last month and every so often he'll talk about something else he did at school, but other than that we don't get much information from him about how things are going.  In one email, his teacher indicated he's doing well.  I'd love to know more and to ask questions about him in class, but I don't want to be THAT parent.  I'm still trying to navigate this whole "parent of elementary school student" thing.

He started soccer this month.  He had only 10 minutes of his first practice/game (in pouring rain) before it thundered and it was cancelled.  Last week he actually go to play.  I really enjoy watching him play and he seems to enjoy playing.

Jack has become really crafty.  Don't leave a cardboard box, scrap paper, string or anything else lying around.  It will become something new.  Ipads, checker boards, helicopters and other weird hovering vehicles . . . he has created more contraptions than I can name.  He loves to come and sit at the work table in my office and just cut things and create things.  I like to think he got that from me, though while I think that I'm creative, I don't think I'm very crafty.  He probably takes after my mom and my aunts in that area more than he does me.

His school pictures are today and he insisted wearing his Superman shirt.  Kyle and I were encouraging him to wear something else but finally gave in.  We don't plan on doing anything with these pictures, other than throwing them in his Kindergarten memories folder, so who cares?  And now forever, we'll remember how obsessed with superheroes when he was in Kindergarten. I did make him promise that he'd wear whatever I ask when I take them out for photos soon.  I'm so trying to let him make as many of his own choices as I can, and only stepping in on the big things.  That's so hard for me to do.

A few weeks ago, he was really upset with me about something and flung himself onto his bed exclaiming, "I don't want to be your son anymore!"  I was sitting next to Ben on his bed and said to him, "Well, Ben.  I guess that just leaves you and me."  I was, of course, joking.  We moved on with our bedtime routine.  A few minutes later, Jack still had his head buried in his pillow and I heard little sobs coming from his bed.  I went over and sat with him and didn't say anything.  He just looked up and said, "I said something that I feel so, so bad about."  He apologized and told me that he does, in fact, want to remain my son.  I apologized for joking about it and told him that he didn't need to worry because there was nothing he could say or do to change that.  It was a sour moment turned sweet.

The top three things I love most about Jack during this stage:  His helpfulness, his creativity and his sensitivity.

October 5, 2012

Remember when . . .

. . . I didn't have to start every blog post with a statement on how bad I feel that it's been so long since I've posted?  No?  Me neither.

It was after midnight on Monday when I started this post.and I should've been in bed.  It's now Friday morning.  I feel guilty.

I need to blog.  Not because it's been so long or because I have some sort of quota to meet . . . but because the three kids I have sleeping down the hall are growing so fast and life is moving so quickly that I can barely remember what happened yesterday.

I think if I could sum this "stage of life" up in a few words, it would be something like "kids are messy" or maybe "kids are time consuming."  Oh wait, no . . . it would be "kids are expensive."  I 100% love my kids and in a weird way, I love this hectic chaos that has surrounded the last month or so.  It's just exhausting.  And really, really hard.

We had our house professionally cleaned on Tuesday. {insert defensive statement about how my life is so crazy that I need professional cleaning services to keep me sane}  That same night, Claire dumped a potted plant on herself and all over the living room floor.  I had a bowl of chili explode all over my kitchen floor.  And then later, one child pooped on the bathroom floor . . . about 18 inches from the toilet.  Which was okay, because there was potting soil still all over the floor from Claire's bath and that needed to be cleaned up anyway.  It's hard to keep up.

The day to day is sometimes overwhelming.

It doesn't help that I'm averaging 4 - 5 hours of sleep each night.  Oh, and the back pain I've had over the last couple of weeks . . . let's not even get started on that. In addition, my business turns 5 years old next month and it's not slowing down.  FIVE YEARS!  In 2007, I had 17 sales total.  I sold more than that yesterday.  I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that.  Oh, right . . . and I still have a full time job at camp.  DId I mention that?

Life is chaotic and I sometimes find myself looking forward to a day when they're all self sufficient and Kyle and I will get more time together, but I don't want to wish this stage of life away, either.  A little more than six years ago, I wondered if we'd ever have children.  And six years ago next week, we heard Jack's heartbeat for the first time.  These kids aren't just our responsibility . . . they're our privilege.