Friday, December 25, 2009

The Short Version of Christmas 2009

I woke up before the kids...walked the dog and got cinnamon rolls rolled out.

Jack woke up a little after seven. He asked, "What did Santa bring me?"

We held him off for about 5 minutes and then we woke Casey and headed downstairs.

Jack loved his toy kitchen. Casey stayed in my arms for a few minutes and then realized there were presents to open.

They ripped through their presents from Santa in a few minutes.

Jack wanted to put all his Legos together immediately.
Casey wanted to sit in her new chair from Auntie to open all her presents.

Wrapping paper piled up. Casey tried to push her shopping cart through it all.

Jack put a chicken in his oven for Christmas dinner.

Pat built a Lego construction fleet and a garbage truck from another building set. Casey pushed her shopping cart through all the Legos on the floor.

Jack & Casey helped Grampie put together a garage that didn't have all the right pieces but they're having a good time with it anyway.

Mom & I got all the vegetables ready for Christmas dinner. She made an apple pie for us after I failed to plan to get a cheesecake in the oven early enough.

Casey took a short nap and is not very good at sharing this afternoon. Jack had a "special day" and didn't take a nap so his sharing skills aren't great either. But it doesn't matter because it's Christmas and there are lots of new toys to distract.

The roast is in the oven and smells good.

The kids are busy playing with various toys.

We're on our third Christmas movie. The Griswolds, The Christmas Story and now Home Alone (my favorite).

Videos and pictures to come! Or check out Facebook.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland

On Thursday, we drove up to Philly to celebrate an early Christmas with Pat's parents. At that time, the forecasters were predicting 2 to 4 inches of snow for today. Pat thought we should go out and get a sled and boots for the kids. Being from Maine, I thought that was taking it a little far...after all they have winter jackets and sneakers.

But then, the forecast changed a little. 12-18" of snow! Pat got up early, waited for Jack to get up and then hit the road on a quest for winter gear. He found snowsuits and boots and the cutest penguin hat & mittens for Casey at his first stop. But then he had to go to 6 stores to find a plastic orange sled! Either there was a run on them last night or the stores just weren't prepared for one of the biggest December snow storms in recorded history.

The sled was a hit! Jack, Casey & Pat were outside in driving snow and below freezing temperatures for an hour this morning and an hour this afternoon. When Jack came back inside, he told Pat, "That was a fun time outside!" I can't believe Casey stayed outside for as long as she did. The mittens are tough. She won't put her thumb in the thumb hole so she essentially doesn't have the use of her thumb. That's kind of tough when you're trying to shovel and pull a sled around. It's even tougher when Jack is in the sled. But, amazingly (after a little trial and error) they stayed on her hands the whole time.

We also introduced a new daytime resident into our household. His name is Bob the Elf and he reports directly to Santa about how good (or bad) the kids are being. He is part of the Elf on the Shelf family. It's a great little story to help explain how Santa knows so much. Every morning he shows up in a new place after his visit to Santa to report on the previous day. Jack got to name him and I think "Bob" is a good option considering the names he's given to other things...Hmmm and Hor might have been a little awkward.

We're actually pretty lucky that we got some snow before Christmas, even if it's not at our house. Jack was pretty certain that it had to snow before Santa could come. Now that we've seen some snow, he can go back to worrying about where our chimney is, how Santa will fit down it and making sure there isn't a fire going on Christmas eve.

I have some pictures of our winter wonderland but I can't upload them here, or I don't feel like figuring how I could, so maybe I'll post them next week sometime.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Weekend #2

The kids are snug in their beds after another fun Christmas-ey weekend.

On Friday, Pat and Jack went to a Norfolk Admirals hockey game. They left right after dinner so they could get a free hockey jersey for Jack as it was jersey night. Casey and I played and put together a puzzle for the hundredth time.

"Where's 'dis go, Mommy?"

"Right over there, Casey."

"Where's 'dis one go, Mommy?"

"Right there, Casey."

Casey went to bed early and I started to do a little cooking for our Army/Navy football party on Saturday. Jack & Pat got home around 9:30. Jack came in and didn't say a word but handed me a puck that he'd gotten an autograph on. He was very proud of it. Then he took his jacket off and showed me his jersey. He was swimming in it but he looked very cute. He also got that signed. Both the puck and the jersey were signed by the mascot of the Norfolk Admirals (a dog) which is impressive considering that Jack wouldn't go anywhere near mascots or anyone dressed in a large costume last year. And yet Santa is still scary.

On Saturday we held an Army/Navy football party and combined it with a playgroup Secret Santa party. We had 8 kids aged 3 and under running around here. It was a little crazy but everyone was having a great time. The kids played, stole cookies from the kitchen, opened presents and ate pb&j's for dinner while the grownups chatted, ate, and tried to slow the flow of cookies out of the kitchen. Oh, and there was a football game on too. Go Navy/Beat Army.

Today was rainy. Jack and Casey spent at least an hour playing with play-doh at the kitchen table. It was Casey's Secret Santa gift from the party. Then we watched the Elmo Christmas special and had a picnic lunch on the living room floor.

After naptime, we went to Portsmouth to go to Winter Wonderland. It's a display of animated characters (elves, animals, carolers, reindeer, etc) and a couple of trains. We also got admission into the condensed version of the Children's Museum. (The actual museum is under construction so they moved some of the features into another building.) We played for about an hour in there and then headed across town to the Botanical Gardens drive-through light display. I'd say it was a success since after we drove through all the lights Jack said, "Can we drive through again?"

Another big moment in the day was when I finally finished putting some decorations up in Casey's room. About 8 months ago, I bought some vinyl applications to put on her wall. I procrastinated and procrastinated for months. Then we decided to paint so I felt justified in my procrastination. After all, it would have been ruined if I'd tried to take it down to paint.

Last weekend, I finally started putting it on the wall. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be...I spent about an hour trying to get the first piece up. I was a little discouraged and out of time so there were just some stems of flowers on the wall for the last week. Today I put the flowers on and Casey's name and it is finally complete. Thankfully the other two pieces were not as hard as the stems. And some day I will post pictures of it, but I don't have any yet. I'll have to do a room makeover post and show Jack and Casey's updated rooms.

One more weekend until Christmas weekend!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Good Trip to the Hospital

Sometimes it's the littlest things that make me feel like I'm doing my job (as Mommy) well. Today we went to the hospital's immunization clinic for our second round of flu shots. My goal was to get H1N1 vaccinations for the kids. Last time we went, we got the seasonal flu shot and it was a 2 hr excursion that left me kind of frazzled and resulted in missing Legos (but don't tell Jack about the Legos.) Luckily, I was able to get a vaccination for myself as well.

This trip, I remembered snacks for the ride to the hospital and better toys for the wait. Despite the full waiting room, the wait was a lot shorter this time. The kids each grabbed a chair and played quietly and nicely with their toys. This allowed me to fill out the paperwork without having to entertain the kids. After about 15 minutes, we were called and we went in to get our shots.

Casey was really the only one who got a shot. Jack and I both got flu-mist. I had a little talk with Jack about how to breathe in and not out when he gets the shot. For some reason, when he first started smelling things, he was actually breathing out instead of in. I had to tell him to do the opposite. He was so soon as the corpsman came near him, he took a deep breath and held it. But the corpsman told him to do it again after a count of 3 and he did just fine.

Anyway, it was a smooth operation all around and we got home in time for lunch and naptime. In fact, Jack informed me that he really likes getting flu shots. Go figure. Even Casey, who got stuck with the needle, was happy because she got a bandaid.

As a side note, it's probably not a good idea to tell your 3 year old that his sister needed a bandaid because she had a little "hole" in her leg now. All sorts of questions that begin with "Why..." will result. For some reason I thought that might be a good explanation.

Round 3 of flu shots is one month from now when they get their second H1N1 shots. Next year, when we only have to get one shot, will be a piece of cake compared to these monthly trips.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Weekend #1

We had a great weekend of holiday skating, shopping, movies, parades, dog washing and decorating. It was a lot of fun and I can already think of a bunch of things I want to get out and see this weekend.

On Thursday evening, Pat's ship held their annual holiday party. We got a babysitter and headed down to Norfolk to enjoy the evening. The babysitter's report was that the kids "eventually" went to sleep, but I got no more details. It sounded like she had fun with them and apparently she really liked Casey but I'm not sure when "eventually" was or how hard it was to actually get them to sleep. This was probably the first time we've had a babysitter put Casey to bed so maybe she didn't like it so much. Usually she is already asleep by the time the babysitter gets here. It was also nice to have a babysitter who could drive. One of the Manic Mommies is always saying that you can never have too many pairs of shoes or too many babysitters.

Pat had most of the day off on Friday. In the afternoon, we went to the mall. Jack and Pat went to the outdoor ice rink and went skating. This was Jack's first time with rental skates. We have a pair that strap onto his shoes and are a double runner. These were his first lace-ups but they still had a little double runner. Pat finally convinced him that he was too big for the "little" ice which is a 5'x5' box. I think Jack really liked that he could climb over the 2 foot boards to get on the little ice and that he could open and shut the little door himself.

Casey and I cruised around the mall a little bit while they were skating. She wasn't so bad all by herself. We looked at all the Christmas things. I should have seen if I could get her to sit on Santa's lap without Jack around. She was very interested in what was going on around Santa and I don't think she's scared of him like Jack. We ended up at the play area eventually where it was nice for me to just have one person to keep track of. I think Casey also loved having all my attention.

On Saturday, we did a little Christmas decorating. We decided to put our tree in a different spot this year and we had to move a little furniture around. Then Jack and I went out on a date and Pat, Casey & Tugger went out together. I took Jack to see his first movie at the cinema. We went to the Cinema Cafe where you get to sit at tables and order food and it is very kid friendly. Jack worked on his popcorn for almost the first hour. A couple of times he told me that he didn't like the movie and wanted to know when we could go play. After he was done eating, I let him sit on my lap so I could explain what was going on in the movie to him and he seemed to like it a little better. After the movie we went and played in the play area and then we did a little shopping. Once again, so much easier with just one child, although he walks so slowly that it seems to take forever to get around.

Pat took Tugger to get washed at a do-it-yourself place. Apparently it's not that easy to wash a 70 lb Boxer while holding your 30 lb daughter in your arms.

We ended the weekend with the Christmas parade on Sunday evening. I wasn't even sure I wanted to go, but I knew that Jack would like it and it turned out to be a good time. This was our second time going so we were better prepared. We brought chairs and blankets and found a great place to watch it. Jack was mesmerized by everything. Casey was yelling "Merry Christmas!" and waving to everyone. And we were warm and cozy. Jack was upset that there was only one marching band but he was distracted by the many candy canes he was given. Just before the end of the parade, Casey fell and knocked her head on the pavement. She was crying hysterically for a while and it caused me to miss Santa. He was in some weird lit-up bus with a lot of windows and probably heat. I actually haven't been to many Christmas parades, but isn't he supposed to be on a fire truck? And out braving the elements like everyone else? Jack liked it though, because Santa was behind the glass and that didn't make him scared. So it was a fun time and great way to end our weekend.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let's Call Him Mr. Ed

A few weeks ago, I was playing with Casey while Jack was at his Little Gym class. Casey brought a book over to me and we were looking at the different animals in it. We looked at a horse and she said, "Neigh. Neigh." Then I asked her what animal it was and she responded with "Hor!" really loudly. The other parents thought it was pretty funny. I tried to get her to add the 's' to the end of it but she's not quite there yet.

Fast forward a couple of weeks...Jack, Casey and I were playing with some cars on Jack's town map. He went to get some pets and came back with a horse and a pig. He then said he was going to give the horse a name and its name was Hor.

"Jack, that's not a very good name for a horse," I tried to tell him. I was met with many protests and whys. I knew if I told him it was a bad word that he would just ask "Why?" again..."Why is that a bad word?" Eventually I distracted him with something else and we forgot all about the horse named Hor. Hopefully Casey will get the pronunciation right soon and next time I'll convince Jack that Mr. Ed is a really good horse name.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Menu 2009

Cider Brined Roast Turkey
Sausage Stuffing
Macaroon-Sweet Potato Bake
Fontina Stuffed Potatoes
Glazed Carrots w/Pistachios
Green Bean Casserole
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Apple-Cranberry Pie w/Crumbled Walnut Topping
Pumpkin Vanilla Bourbon Tart

In school on Tuesday, Jack's teacher asked them each to say something about Thanksgiving and something for which they are thankful and she wrote it down. Jack told her, "We are having a big turkey for Thanksgiving. It's in the fridge to cool down." On Sunday morning I told him I had to go take the turkey out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. I believe that's why he thinks it is cooling down.

He then told his teacher that he is thankful for Emily. The teacher told me she thought it was so cute that Jack was thankful for his sister. At which point I had to explain - "Oh, no, her name is Casey. Emily is a train from Thomas and Friends and Jack's Nana is going to bring him that train for Thanksgiving so they can play trains while I cook dinner."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How hungry are you?

Yesterday afternoon.

Jack: Mommy, I'm starving.

Me: You can have some apple slices. I just cut them up.

Jack: No thanks. I'm think I'm going to be starving in a little bit when the muffins are done. I'm not starving now.

I never cease to be amazed by his eating habits. There are many things he claims he doesn't like, but I don't think I believe him any more. It appears to be more of a matter of preference.

For months and months, he's claimed not to like milk anymore. I offer water or milk with dinner and he picks water. Actually a lot of times he picks juice, but gets water. On Friday night though, he asked for milk and it has been his new favorite drink. He just asked why he couldn't have some up in his room for bedtime. Go figure.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Most Fearful Time of Year

On Wednesday, Jenn and I went to the mall with the kids so she could do some shopping. I spent about 2.5 seconds shopping and the children in the stroller started whining and crying to go play. Luckily I had done some online research prior to entering the stores and within that 2.5 seconds I actually found a dress for a Christmas party. (I was like Superman in the changing room.)

The mall was already in its Christmas splendor and I happened to see Santa Claus down one level. I excitedly mentioned it to Jack and he said, "Why is he here so early? I don't want Santa to be here yet. I don't want to go see him."

As we walked around he kept asking why Santa was here already. I tried giving him various reasons as to why Santa was here so darn kids can tell them what they want and he can get the elves working on kids can get their pictures taken with him for Christmas cards...because it's a lot warmer here than the North Pole and Santa was tired of the snow. Nothing seemed to satisfy his insatiable curiosity.

While I was telling all these tall tales, Jack was doing a little thinking on his own and he finally decided that "it must be Christmastime for someone else Mommy - that's why Santa is here already."

Every year since his first Christmas, Jack has gotten more scared of Santa. He didn't even want to see the guy when I mentioned he was at the mall already. I believe we will forgo the $25 to get a picture of crying kids with Santa this year. I think it would be a physical struggle to get Jack anywhere near Jolly Old Saint Nick.

There is a benefit to this fear though. He may not want to get up close and personal with Santa, but he does want to get some gifts from him. Lest he see Santa on Christmas Eve, Jack has informed us that he wants to be in his bed and asleep with his door closed all the way when Santa brings the presents. I couldn't ask for anything more on Christmas Eve. And hopefully that means he will stay in his bed until his normal waking hour. I fear the day that they are so excited they can't fall asleep and they wake up really early.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Curious about Christmas

Jack has started requesting Christmas songs for his bedtime songs. Tonight he found a Christmas book on his shelves and said we must have forgotten to put it away last Christmas but then he said, "But it's almost Christmas so I guess we can read it now." So we read it and sang some songs.

Just before I was leaving his room, he said, "Do we have a timsy?"

"A what?"

And then I thought he said it was something that Nana had.

"No, Mommy, a chimsey that Santa comes down."

"Oh, yes, we have a chimney. It goes down into our fireplace." Even though we really don't have one because it's just a gas fireplace.

"And Santa comes down that?"

"Yes, he is special and can come down the chimney to deliver gifts."

"But isn't there a fire in there?"

"Well we'll make sure there is no fire on Christmas so Santa doesn't get hurt."

"Oh. Yeah because we haven't had a fire in a long long time. There used to be a little fire in the logs but it's not there anymore because Daddy hasn't turned it on yet. It was a long time ago, three days ago, when we had a little fire but we're not going to have one until after Christmas now."

"Okay, Jack, Good Night."

He tends to ramble on about things when he is tired...and it's a lot of fun to listen.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Weekend Escape Part 2: A Tale of Two Weekends

To describe what I was doing last weekend at the Manic Mommies Escape, I thought I'd compare this weekend to last weekend.

This Friday, I went to the gym and the post office and otherwise stayed home and played with the kids. I made grilled cheese and sweet potatoes for dinner.

Last Friday, I spent the day traveling. I flew out of Philadelphia airport enroute to San Francisco airport at 7:45am. On what was kind of a non-stop flight, we stopped in Chicago to drop off a sick flight attendant, we stopped in Denver to pick up some more passengers and we finally landed in LA where I was able to deplane. At least I met two wonderful ladies on the flight. I can't think of a time when I've chatted for a whole flight with strangers.

I caught another flight into SF that was delayed by fog. I finally landed about an hour and a half later than scheduled and picked up my rental car. Luckily, I was just in time to get stuck in rush hour traffic on the Oakland Bay Bridge en route to Napa.

By the time I got to Napa, I had been traveling for 16 hours. I was apprehensive about getting there late and not knowing anybody when I finally arrived. However, I was quickly directed to the free drinks and then out to check in and get my badge. I just sat myself down with a few ladies who were waiting in the lounge, introduced myself and had instant friends.

The highlight of Friday was the comedy show. The show was called One Funny Mother by Dena Blizzard. I was laughing so hard that tears were coming down my face. I also appreciated the huge array of Dove Chocolate we could just dig into and the fruits and veggie hors d'oeurves. There were also choco'tinis which were the signature drink of the night. It was good but a little rich once I'd already inhaled a lot more chocolate.

Now on to Saturday. This Saturday was another day in the house. We got the dog out for a desperately needed walk, even walking the long loop around the lake in windy, misty weather. I checked out damage from the storm. It was mostly limited to trampolines (3 of them!) and a few pieces of fencing. In the afternoon, I got crazy and rearranged toys! Dinner consisted of yogurt, pasta, peanut butter crackers and fresh from the oven french fries. (By the time the fries were ready, the kids didn't even want any, so they were purely my guilty pleasure. But they weren't even that good.)

Last Saturday was a little different. I attempted to sleep in but sleeping in these days is 8am and that's 5am on the west coast. I managed to lounge in bed for another few hours. Hotel breakfast came along with another moment of introducing myself to random strangers and making some new friends.

Amy Nobile & Trisha Ashworth, the authors of "I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper" and "I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids" had a seminar that was amusing and interesting. Then I went to book club with the author of "The Wednesday Sisters," Meg Waite Clayton.

The afternoon was a wine tour of the valley with stops at two wineries. We boarded plush coaches and I got my first views of the Napa Valley's wineries and beautiful scenery. We had lunch at the first winery, Flora Springs and got to tour their caves and taste a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon out of two different barrels - one American Oak and the other French Oak. I was impressed that I could actually taste the difference. At our second winery, Rutherford, we got a more in-depth look at how they actually make the wine and gorgeous views while we tasted.

For dinner, I met up with a group of 7 new ladies that I had never met and we had a great time at Farm. It was a delicious meal with great company.

On Sunday in Napa, there were a few seminars in the morning that I wanted to go to. I was sitting in the first one when I got a headache and started feeling nauseous. I ran back to my room and was sick. I felt pretty miserable for a couple of hours and finally felt better after lying in bed. I don't know if it was a touch of food poisoning or what. I was very relieved that I was feeling well enough to check out and drive back to San Francisco but I was upset at missing the last few sessions. I didn't have to be in SF at any particular time, so I did some outlet shopping on the way back. I wasn't feeling the greatest but when you don't have many opportunities to shop by yourself, you go anyway.

I was on a plane back to Philly on Monday morning, super early. It was a great weekend away and everyone was very friendly and fun to meet. I think traveling to the west coast for only a weekend might have been a bit much and required a lot more planning than I had intended but overall, I'm glad I went. I can't wait to hear where it's going to be next year and I'll definitely recruit some of my friends to go.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Storm Footage

I have to interrupt the story of the weekend getaway to put up some pictures of the Never-Ending November Nor'easter that we're having. (I added the Never-Ending part myself.) Sure, I could probably write two posts tonight, but there are a lot of shows just waiting for me in the DVR and I have to cook popcorn.

Anyway, it has been rainy and windy since Wednesday. I don't know how many inches of rain we've gotten, but it's a lot. There is a pond across the street that is several feet higher than it normally is. Sorry I don't have any actual numbers on that either.

After pouring for 2 days straight, the storm drains were starting to back up last night. At one point our street was a river although it only lasted a couple hours. I didn't even have time to get the canoe out. However, I did think water might start coming up the driveway and eventually into the garage. I wondered at what point I should do something. If it was going to flood, I probably would have been asleep anyway. So, I started worrying about all the things that were on the garage floor and I went out to be proactive and move some things. I brought Jack's painting easel inside and moved Tugger's dog food up on the steps. And then I decided that I would just take pictures of the rest of the things and let insurance take care of it if anything happened. Apparently the dog food and easel are my most prized possessions in the garage. Even I find it a strange couple of items that I decided to rescue. I just figured there was no need to let that easel get wet when we normally store it in the house anyway. And the dog food would have made a big mess. And the dog would have been hungry.

Speaking of the dog, she hasn't enjoyed this rain/wind quarantine and was running around the house trying to get energy out. I even played tug of war with her today to burn some of her energy.

We were able to get out of the house today and went to the gym and post office. Apparently a lot of people had mail to get out. It bothers me that going to the post office has to become a stressful event because there are two children in tow. There are so many things they want to touch and so many things I have to tell them not to touch. Finally they found a couple of chairs and that is pretty good entertainment for them.

On the way home we went the "back way" which was covered with water. I turned around and took another back way...which was also covered with water in spots but not as much. I could have just taken the DRY (ie no standing water) main road but I didn't want to bother the kind police man who was directing traffic at the light to let him know I was just going to my development and wasn't going to try to cross the bridge that's been shut down for days. The kids enjoyed watching the water splash up the side of the car. In fact, Jack said we were just like a duck going through the water. In my head, I kept hearing the voice of a woman I overheard while showering at the gym - "Don't put the brakes on. Just keep moving. People don't know that, but you have to keep moving." Excellent advice. I believe that's what ducks do.

Anyway, here are some pictures. If you've never seen these ponds in the first place, then it probably doesn't look much different for you. These are for Pat, who is out to sea and in his own water world.

The little pond near the entrance to our community. Don't worry, the fountain is still going strong in the middle of this pond.
This trampoline used to be in the yard across the street. It blew over a fence to get here.
The pond nearest our house. That fence normally isn't under water. The ducks were having a great time here today.
The nearest house just put up a little retaining wall in the spring. It's about 3 feet under water now. There is a little sign in the water near the middle house - that's where the big drainage pipe's completely submerged.

I'm very lucky to be living where we do. Many other people in this area have had a lot of damage from the water. It's been quite the storm.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Weekend Escape Part 1

Last weekend, I hopped on a plane and jetted out to Napa Valley, California for a getaway weekend with 150 other moms...that I didn't know. I went to Manic Mommies Escape '09. The Manic Mommies are Erin and Kristen, a couple of ladies from Massachusetts who produce a podcast every week about raising their kids and the "joys" of parenting. Sometimes they have guests on their show, from pediatricians to authors of parenting books to other moms. Other times they just sit and chat. Either way, it is a great show and they always make me laugh.

I started listening to Manic Mommies when Jack was about 5 months old. He had decided that I was the only one who could hold him before bedtime and that he needed to be held until he fell asleep. This would seem to take for - ever. I would have to wait until he started twitching and relaxing and then I'd wait until that was all done and then I'd wait a little longer, just in case. (A few long months later we let him cry it out and after a couple tough nights, he became very easy to put to bed. A different story these days.)

After many nights of being frustrated with how long I had to hold Jack, Pat suggested that I listen to my iPod while I was holding him. My nice, new, expensive iPod that had barely been used in the year that I'd owned it. It turned out to be a great idea. I went to iTunes and searched for podcasts about moms and stumbled across Manic Mommies. I have been listening to them ever since.

They started holding a yearly Manic Mommies Escape for listeners to get away and meet other moms without their children. The first one was in 2007 in Newport, RI. I would have loved to have gone to that one, but we were just getting ready to move up there a month later. Last year it was a cruise in the Caribbean and we had to commit in June, before Pat showed up to his ship and had any idea of his schedule. Now that I think about it, I would have had a broken foot anyway and would have had to cancel.

This year, I decided I was going, no matter what I had to do to get there and where it was. It turned out to be in Napa Valley and I was very excited since I'd never been there.

To be continued...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How a 3 year old plays hide and seek

First he plays in the pantry and manages to wedge himself in there and shut the door completely.

Then he comes out and says that he wants to play hide and seek and asks if Mommy could count. It's quite possible that instead of asking, he demands that Mommy count, depending on how whether he's remembered his manners or not.

Mommy starts counting (while in the kitchen making dinner) and he proceeds to go into the pantry and shut the door.

When Mommy is done counting, she pretends that she can't find him. (An option here is to have a 21 month child clinging to the Mommy while she is trying to make dinner AND look for hidden 3 year old.) Mommy pretends to look in various rooms and asks like she can't find the child. Meanwhile, 3 year old is in the pantry saying, "I'm in here, Mommy!"

Finally Mommy opens the door and pretends she can't see him and he jumps out to tell her where he was hiding the whole time, quite proud of himself.

The options are endless...
- he could hide in the same spot three times in a row
- he could move to a different closet and hide in there three times in a row
- he could find a great hiding place but then play with a loud game while hiding there
- he could hide in the same spot you just left

Mommies should also get a turn at hiding (with or without clingy sibling in her arms). Mommies preparing to hide should find a good magazine and a good hiding place and expect to hear, "Where are you Mommy?" dozens of times. You can either call out clues or let him look for long periods of time while you catch up on US Weekly or the Target Christmas catalog.

3 year old hide-and-seek - a great game for a rainy afternoon!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Monkey See Monkey Cough

On the way home from the Little Gym last night, Jack was making funny coughing noises in the backseat. I believe he was trying to be a coughing monkey because it sounded like "ooh ooh aah aah" but he coughed it out. Not one to miss out on any opportunity to imitate, especially when it's fun sounds, Casey also joined in with some monkey coughing.

Then, Jack said, "I guess the monkey is getting sick, Mommy." After a long pause he then said, "I'm just falling apart." At which point I started laughing. It was a good note to end the day on. I'm not sure where he came up with that, but it was funny.

Tonight, I opened the mail at the table and Tugger's city registration tag was in one of the envelopes. Jack was curious about it and asked what it was. I said, "It's Tugger's registration tag. She's legal now."

And from that, Jack came up with the following statements...
"Can I see Tugger's legal now, Mommy?"
"Oh no Mommy, Tugger's legal just fell on the floor. Can you get it?"
"Tugger, this is your legal. You have to wear it."

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's Cute and What's Not

After further consideration, I realized that Nerds are probably exactly the same as they were 20 years ago - it's just that I no longer find tiny clumps of purple sugar called Nerds all that appealing. And that's about all I have to say about that.

Anyway, I thought I'd write a few things about Casey tonight -

What's cute - she copies every single thing that Jack says in her cute little voice. If Jack says, "I'm hungry" then Casey says, "I'm hungry." If Jack says he wants to go on the potty, the Casey says she wants to go on the potty despite the fact that she doesn't.

What's not cute - her new obsession with ripping things apart, specifically anything cardboard that she can peel the layers apart. So far she's gotten two library books, some board game pieces, and several of her own books. She also peeled the picture off of one of Jack's wooden puzzle pieces. Jack is also not a big fan of this phase.

What's cute - how excited she is to jump on Jack's bike and ride down the driveway. She can't reach the pedals yet, but she just uses her feel to propel herself. As soon as the garage door opens, she heads for the bike and takes off.

What's not cute - the fact that she heads for the street once she gets on the bike. She really likes the little hill at the end of the driveway and she's not one for staying up by the garage.

And that concludes my first installment of "What's Cute and What's Not."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

I started writing while Pat was out with Jack and Casey getting treats but then they came home. Jack said, "I got a million pieces Mommy!" He also managed to throw the word 'tremendous' into his chatter today - "Daddy got a 'mendous hit!" This school is teaching him amazing things. Or more likely Caillou, Little Einsteins and the Backyardigans. TV can be educational!

Anyway, Jack was a ghost and Casey was a giraffe, for a little while. It was almost 80 degrees out, so the giraffe jacket got a little warm.

I've never seen someone so excited to be a ghost as Jack was. I got some sheets and tried to make a decent ghost costume. Two times in a row, I cut the hole for his head way too big. I tried to turn the pillowcase into part of his costume too. That didn't turn out well at all. It really shouldn't be that hard to make a ghost costume, but I was trying to make sure his head wasn't covered and he could get his arms out. Pat bought some white hair paint and white face makeup and that solved the problem. Jack finally felt like a scary ghost once he put it on and then we safety pinned the sheet so it wouldn't fall off him. He then spent the next 20 minutes running around being scary.

Strangely enough, my kids ended their Halloween festivities this evening with an apple. After some candy, Jack claimed that was still really hungry. I figured he was only hungry for candy and was surprised when he took me up on my offer of an apple. As for me though, I'm about to dig into their candy.

Last night we went to a Halloween party at the Little Gym and Jack was Batman. I convinced him that it would be too hard to tumble in his ghost costume. Casey was a doctor for a few minutes until she reverted back to cute little girl.

Tomorrow we're heading to the zoo in costume also. I think Jack has decided he wants to be the giraffe so he can meet up with his giraffe friends. No shortage of costumes here, that's for sure.

We carved pumpkins yesterday too. "We" being Pat and I. Jack could only be convinced to scoop out the goop one time and that's about all the interest he had in pumpkin carving. Once it was carved though, he really like seeing it with the candle inside. Pat carved the Phillies logo in his pumpkin, also known as Jack's pumpkin. I carved a traditional Jack'o'lantern that turned out's been a few years. All the features were too small and it didn't light up well at all.

And on a final note, Nerds just aren't as good as they were 20 years ago.

Here are some Halloween pictures...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Day of School

Jack started a little class at the rec center today. It's an hour and a half on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the next month. After the success of The Little Gym, I thought he would enjoy the classroom too.

When I was at the dentist last week, the hygienist asked me if he was excited about starting school. To which I responded, "Oh, I haven't even told him yet." It's better right now to not hype things up too much before they happen...or I'll be asked over and over when it's time to start school.

This morning though, when I finally started talking about school, he got very excited. He talked about school from breakfast until we left the house. He jabbered on and on about what he thought he would do there and if they would have the same things as The Little Gym and if they would play with little balls. When I got his backpack out to put his snack in, he was convinced that he needed to put a bunch of toys in there to take to school. He asked if he was going to go on the bus, but then said that he knew he had to be a bigger boy to go on the bus. He was so confident about what he thought school was all about.

But then, he also thought this would be a good way to show up on his first day:

I dropped him off with very little fanfare. The teacher got out some blocks and he started playing and barely looked up at me as we left. Casey and I headed to the gym where they missed Jack being there with Casey. When we went to pick him up, he told me that he wanted to stay longer. And...he got homework! I knew they said it started early, but 3 year old homework??? Actually, I'm looking forward to getting a box and going around with him tomorrow to find things that start with the letter "b."

On Thursday, Casey & I have a toddler gym class while Jack is in school. I'm looking forward to that time with Casey.

I'm not sure if I'm downplaying this big day for Jack (and me) or not. I mean, I didn't even think about his first day of school clothes until this morning! I guess I didn't think it was a huge deal since it's not really a preschool...just a rec center program. But, it really was the first classroom experience for him and I dropped him off like any other preschool. This was the day where I hoped that the manners that I taught him (read - repeated over and over and over) made him a pleasant, courteous little boy in class. The teacher said he did great and I guess that is the validation that I needed. That and the fact that he really liked his class. Other than that, I don't really know what he did for an hour and a half but all that matters what that he enjoyed it.

The first day of school pictures aren't that great because he only wanted to say "Cheese!" if he was wearing a crown. But he was pretty serious about putting his backpack on...and then hiding when I tried to take a good shot.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Jack and Casey have a new way to drive me nuts. First, I will speak sternly (or yell...which is very seldom of course) at one of them, or express my frustration or exasperation at something they have done. Then, Jack will look at me and start chirping, "Happy? Happy? Happy? Are you happy, Mommy?"

I usually respond to that with, "No, I'm not happy. Casey just dumped all her food on the floor." Or whatever the case may be. Jack goes back to chirping, "Happy? Happy? Happy? Why aren't you happy, Mommy?" Then Casey starts in with her repetition of the word happy. I wish I could describe exactly how they say it, but I guess "chirping" is the best description.

It irritates me when they start doing it but by the time they are both repeating "Happy?" over and over again, all I can do is start smiling and start to laugh at them. And then I really am happy again. The 3 year old and 20 month old have won again. It's amazing that they can take my bad mood and change it so easily. I'm not sure if it's very perceptive of them or just a fun game. Probably more of a fun game...they seem to take great pleasure in saying the word happy over and over again.

It's kind of like how you're supposed to smile when you're not in a good mood and it will start to make you happy. Jack & Casey's twist on it is that they can just be completely annoying and say the word happy over and over again and it will in turn make other people happy. Maybe we could start charging other people for "Happy?" therapy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pumpkin Day

On Saturday, we headed out to the pumpkin patch. It was a grey, overcast day with temps in the 50s which was a big change from previous pumpkin days. In the past, Jack has worn swim trunks on our pumpkin day.

We went to the same farm where I picked strawberries earlier this year. There was a cute little store with a bakery in the back selling all kinds of delicious pumpkin flavored goods. We headed out behind the store for the corn maze first.

It was actually my first corn maze. We were given a set of 10 questions about corn with multiple choice answers to help us navigate the maze - at each junction the paths were lettered and we just had to pick the right letter. We know very little about corn because we found ourselves down several dead ends. We let Jack go check them out for us and let us know if it was a dead end. Probably the funniest part of the maze was a deer head mounted near the path. It scared the crap out of Pat.

After the maze the kids played in a little play area. It looked like the ideal place to have a big party some evening. There were games for the kids and adults, hay bales to sit on and hot apple cider brewing. At 11am, we were the only people there. The kids had a good time playing around in a sand box.

We bought a 1/2 gallon of cider, a pumpkin muffin and a pumpkin cupcake to snack on at the cute little shop. Then we went to the pumpkin patch and on a hay ride. Jack kept looking at pumpkins and saying, "Nope, that's not the one." Finally, he said, "There it is! It was waiting for me the whole time." It was pretty cute in itself, but I found it funnier knowing that he took that line straight from a book we had read a few weeks earlier.

After Bill and Ben, the Belgian Work Horses, took us on a little ride, we headed home. Jack insisted that the pumpkin be in his lap on the way home. Oh, and after he found the one that was "waiting for him" he ended up giving it to Casey and decided he needed a bigger one with less green on it.

I took a ton of pictures and it turns out that I really like all of them. The pictures themselves could tell the story. However, I just picked some of my favorites for on here and I'll put the rest on Shutterfly soon.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hitting the streets

Yesterday afternoon was kind of gloomy - looked like it might rain again. I figured we would play inside for the afternoon and I would start dinner early since it needed to cook in the oven for a while. However, our new friend stopped by to see if the kids wanted to play.

I think I'm going to call her the neighborhood social director. She is the 9 year old girl from across the street. We've been living here for over a year now and I've been watching her play with every kid in the neighborhood except for mine. She is always riding her bike around the block to see who is out playing. One street corner is practically a gold mine for her - 8 kids in one house. I've seen her there a lot and even at the house behind us. But never at our house.

A few weeks ago, she finally stopped by our house to meet our kids and play with them. I was starting to feel a little left out. Strangely, she decided to stop by when Pat was out in the yard playing with them. He came in the house to let me know that the kids had a new friend.

So yesterday the social director stopped by to see if Jack and Casey could come out to play. Which means that Mommy needs to go out and play. I would be comfortable if Jack went out to play with her by himself, but Casey is a full time job. She has a renewed affinity for the street. She realized that the slope at the bottom of our driveway is a lot of fun to ride down on her tricycle. So into the street she goes. Then she likes to drive over to the corner and play around on the curb and slope there. While I would prefer that she play in the driveway, there is a benefit to living between two cul-de-sacs. I keep my eye on her and down the street for cars but I let her play.

Luckily, it was warmer outside than I thought. The social director told us that she was going to get the kids from next door and bring them to our house to play in the driveway. She brought them over and also brought their soccer ball and net. They had never been to our house to play...they are a little older and it just seemed like we were never outside at the same time they were.

Thus began Jack's first experience with team sports. They divided into teams of two to play soccer - one goalie and one player per team. Jack was a little confused as to how to get the ball at first. He just wanted to take turns and didn't understand he had to try to kick the ball past a defender. He also refused to be goalie for a few minutes but when threatened to go inside, he came around.

From soccer they moved onto golf. Since they were taking turns, Jack enjoyed the game. We have a little putting green and they were all trying to hit it in the hole.

Finally they moved on to hockey and this is where Jack really shined. He had already kind of figured out how to play the game with other kids and he really had a great time trying to get the puck into the goal and playing goalie. And as his proud mother, I thought he did a great job as a goalie considering he was playing against a 4 year old, a 5 year old and a 9 year old.

I didn't really mean to turn this into such a long story, but the overall point of it was that I felt like I watched him grow up before my eyes in that hour. He went from begging Mommy & Daddy to play hockey in the house to playing street hockey with the neighborhood kids. And I had a little vision of what it will be like in a couple of years when he and Casey are just out playing in the cul-de-sac with the other kids while I make dinner. Sometimes it's hard to imagine that when you're putting the shoes back on Casey's feet for the 5th time (because it really wasn't that warm out) or chasing her down the street for the 15th time. The apple-rum pork chops never made it into the oven, but I had a lot better time watching my kids make new friends and new memories.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Out of the mouths of Jack & Casey

"The passengers are waiting here because they're waiting for the hookers," Jack said yesterday as we were standing on the street corner in front of our house. I said, "Okay, Jack" and then returned to keeping an eye out for cars as my children played near the street. A few minutes later, I realized what had just come out of his mouth.

"Jack, what did you say the passengers are waiting for?" I asked.

"The hookers, Mommy." And thankfully he pointed to the back of his train (also known as a Cozy Coupe or plain old "car" on other days). That may not clear it up for you but I finally understood what he was talking about.

In Jack's world, he was driving the train engine and in order to take on passengers, he needed to add some passenger cars. In order to add passenger cars, he needed some "hookers," otherwise known as couplings. Just pure coincidence that we were standing on a street corner at the time of this discussion.

Casey is actually speaking full sentences now although they are pretty hard to understand. She says, "I want to color," or "I'm hungry," or whatever else Jack is also saying. Somehow she manages to say whole sentences using only a couple of syllables.

I bought an abridged version of Cinderella for Casey at the bookstore a few weeks ago. It's one of her new favorite books although I think Jack likes it even more. We read it in Casey's room and then we take it into Jack's room and read it there again. When we read it to Casey, she points to Cinderella on every page and says, "Mommy!" And that kind of makes my night.

That was going to be the end of my entry, but Jack just came out of his bedroom with his Legos and said, "I need you to take these away now so I can go to sleep." He gave them to me, climbed into his bed and shut his eyes. Night night.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Please Keep Your Hands to Yourself!

I think maybe my short term memory has gotten shorter. This morning, I took Jack and Casey to the commissary with me, like I do every week. I think I was even looking forward to it a little bit...maybe because I had a good week of meals planned and was looking forward to getting everything. But as soon as I put the kids in the car cart I started looking forward to it being over.

Casey would not keep her hands to herself. Even as I was physically restraining her from touching Jack, she was trying anyway. As soon as I would let go of her (you know, to push the cart), she was touching him again, or biting him or pulling on his shirt or touching his steering wheel. It was pretty miserable. At one point I told Casey (in a pretty good-natured voice) that I was about to sell her to somebody in the store. Jack piped up with, "Why do you want to sell her Mommy?" It's good that it was an empty aisle. And strangely, I probably would have ended up selling her to a man because the commissary was strangely full of men this morning. About 75% men. Must be a weird Columbus Day thing. Which reminds me that we didn't do a single thing to celebrate.

Anyway, we got all our groceries. I didn't even have to turn around and get forgotten items from my list, which is good since I probably wouldn't have bothered with anything that required more time in the aisles.

We came home and I attempted to put groceries away, make lunch and make a Lego car for Jack. The groceries and the lunch suffered as I worked on the Lego car. It was Jack's present for wearing underwear to bed for the first time and staying dry all night. I had held off giving it to him earlier in the morning because we were busy running around but I couldn't keep him waiting any longer.

Finally I got some food (I wouldn't call it lunch) into the kids and the car together and we headed up for naptime just a few minutes late. They both slept great and I got some things done around the house.

And here is where my short term memory failed me. I thought it would be a great idea to go to Target after naptime??? It was raining out and I had some gifts that I needed to no time like the present. And while Target presented different challenges than the commissary, it was no easier. Casey's on her own agenda and wants to go where Casey wants to go...not where Mommy or even Jack want to go. And while I got birthday gifts and Christmas gifts at the same time and the trip was successful, there's got to be an easier way! Now that I'm thinking about it, the easier way is called "online shopping" but that requires a little more forethought for shipping times than what I had this week.

And in conclusion, we're done our major excursions for the week. We might not leave the house again except to go to the gym, where someone else gets to chase my children.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sunny Rainy Saturday

Today was supposed to be our community picnic. I volunteered to help set up, hoping I could actually be helpful with Jack and Casey in tow. We arrived just on time for setup. Also arriving with us were huge black rain clouds. Instead of helping with setup, we ended up picking up all the kids' games that were already out and putting them away before the rain could destroy them.

I thought it would be a good idea to wear a cute skirt for the party. The wind also thought it was fun to blow it around every which way, including up a couple of times. The wind was also blowing some of the game balls down the street. I asked Jack to run after them and pick them up. A minute later I looked around could not find him. I couldn't imagine where he had gone. Maybe I just didn't see him and he was behind a table. Nope. It was only a matter of about 30 seconds but it was starting to worry me. Then, he comes running out from behind one of the houses. He had chased the balls all the way into a backyard. I was actually pretty proud of him for chasing them so far...and relieved that he was in my sight again.

At this point, the wind really picked up and rain was about to start. I quickly loaded the kids back into the stroller and pulled the plastic cover down over them. Just as we started walking again, it started raining. And then it rained harder. And then it rained even harder. I thought the kids were staying dry but I forgot to cover one spot and rain was coming in behind their heads. I was jogging but it was into the wind and I was wearing a skirt and crocs. I was trying not to break my foot again but also trying to get home as quickly as possible.

When we got home I was soaked all the way through and the kids were wet enough that they needed new clothes too. Jack tried to take off his shorts without taking his shoes off first and apparently he found that a little difficult. I was upstairs changing, closing all the windows and cleaning up all the rain that had come in the house. I could hear him whining and carrying on, but I thought I'd let him work it out himself. When I came down to help Jack, he was laying flat on the floor at the foot of the stairs, in his Elmo undies with his shorts around his ankles and his shoes still on. I wish I had a picture.

Anyway, it was an adventurous 15 minutes. I couldn't help but laugh the whole way home as it poured on me. One of our neighbors was driving by and offered me a ride but at that point, I was already wet and it didn't really matter. I'm hoping they'll have the picnic next weekend and Pat will be able to join us but we'll check it out later this afternoon and see if they decided to start over again after the rain went through. It figures that it was only a half hour rain event.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Casey was a little bugger this afternoon. She screamed a lot for what seemed to be no good reason. I think she is teething because she keeps putting her shirt in her mouth and chewing on it. It was feeling like a long afternoon, especially since she woke up early from her nap. But we played outside and we went for a walk and finally it was dinner time.

And at dinner time, to my immense satisfaction, Casey ate chicken! Casey ate sweet potatoes! She also had some pasta but that's something she will normally eat and not worthy of an exclamation point. The only reason we had the pasta was because I knew I couldn't convince Jack to eat chicken or sweet potatoes. I tried to get him to eat sweet potatoes by putting some brown sugar on top, but he tried to eat just the sugar.

In simply eating some vegetables and some chicken, Casey more than made up for her afternoon of screaming. It also helps that she and Jack were pretty good while I was making dinner. They were sitting out on the deck each reading a book. Well, they don't actually know how to read, but they were at least looking at pictures and being quiet. At some point, Casey's reading turned into ripping pages apart, but at least it was a book that I had gotten for a dollar.

After dinner, we headed outside to play for a few more minutes and enjoy the gorgeous weather. It is so cute watching your babies push their babies around in strollers. Jack pushes an umbrella stroller around with his doll, alternately named Sam and Timmy, while Casey pushes a doll-sized stroller around with Grace. We were circling around the cul-de-sacs and suddenly it seemed like every kid in the neighborhood was with us. All of them were older than Jack and Casey. Jack was excited to play with the big kids and Casey was just happy to watch. It was pretty amusing watching Jack try to chase around the big kids pushing a stroller with a doll. He thought he was cool though and learned some new sound effects from the older boys (who were playing with swords). And I learned that I'm kind of glad he's not quite a big kid yet.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Out to Sea

Pat got underway today for a little over a week. Before heading too far out to sea, they stopped and practiced dropping their anchor. I took the kids to Fort Story where we had a great view of this. I wanted to try to give Jack a better understanding of what it meant that Daddy was underway or at sea. He liked that he could see the ship but kept asking me if it could come closer and put the bridge over, meaning the gangway. We spent a delightful hour watching the ship and playing around the rocks. The kids were great and the weather was great. There were also dolphins jumping around all over the place. Some were probably only 20 ft out in the water from where we were standing. And the best is that Jack was the first to see them - "I just saw a dolphin jump Mommy!" This afternoon Jack asked several times if we could go back to where we saw Daddy's ship. I might take them back see the lighthouses there some day soon because we had such a good time today.

I have no idea what they were looking at, but it was pretty cute.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Fall Saturday

Nothing too exciting going on around here, but I am very grateful to be enjoying fall. Last year I was hobbling around on crutches after having broken my foot and I wasn't too happy about it, especially since it is my favorite time of year. I did make it to a hay ride on crutches though, so not all was lost.

We had a nice Saturday. It was a gorgeous fall 80 degrees or so. No humidity - I guess that's what fall means around here. Pat got a lot of yard work done and is very excited about his new edging tool. It makes our driveway look very nice. I finally got my hair cut after several months of pony tails and then headed to Old Navy. I pretty much rebuilt my winter wardrobe. It's hard to shop for sweaters in 80 degree weather, but when they're only $15, you might find yourself with three or four of them anyway.

Pat took Jack, Casey and Tugger for a walk this morning. They came back covered with donut icing and happy. I was happy because I cleaned out the miscellaneous closet in the guest room while they were gone. Now I can get in there without random toys falling on me. And maybe someday I'll do some scrapbooking again now that I can get to it.

This morning Pat took Jack to his ship while Casey and I did some shopping at the Navy Exchange. After watching Jack try to run in his new Crocs, I decided he needed to have some real sneakers. And after watching Casey fall dozens of times in her Crocs, she needed some real shoes too. So they are the proud owners of new Nikes...and when I say proud I mean that Jack wore his through his entire nap and Casey wouldn't let me take hers off once she tried them on. Casey was a walking advertisement for Nike after she got her new shoes. I tried to get a picture of Jack but he was too busy calling me coach, telling me to blow the whistle and running around the living room in his new sneakers.

Besides the new winter wardrobe, I am the proud owner of a dozen fall themed cookie cutters. We didn't get to any fall cookies last year, so this year we are going to have them in any shape you could imagine, from broomsticks and cauldrons to pumpkins and leaves. Pat won't be around much for the rest of the month so I guess we're going to spend the time making cookies.

And what would fall be without some football. Pat reminded me that 4 years ago today we were moving into our new townhouse in Annapolis and going to the Navy football game. Today we watched Navy on TV (only because we don't live there anymore) and had dinner with the kids at Buffalo Wild Wings, where we could continue to watch it on TV, along with a couple other games at the same time.

Now it's bedtime for the kids and we're getting ready for an exciting evening of Tivo. I was checking the Tivo box in the garage (yes there's a tv in the garage) and found that it had recorded some new episodes of one of our favorite shows - The Real Estate Pros. We thought about setting up some lawn chairs in the garage for a change of scenery, but Pat just brought the box into the living room so we shall watch it in the comfort of our couches.

What a great fall Saturday!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Are we there yet?

Jack has an ability to ask really difficult questions in the car when we're out and about. For the life of me I can't figure out how to answer them. Even if I do answer them, another "Why?" is sure to follow.

He is starting to recognize places and knows where we are going for the most part. That knowledge apparently inspires his quest to know more...

Jack: This is the way to Rita's, Mommy. Why is this the way to Rita's?
Me: This is the shortest way to get there and it's the way the road goes Jack.
Jack: Why?

I can't answer that. Maybe I could delve into something about city planners and roads. Or something about horse trails from a long long time ago. But I really don't know the history of these roads well enough for that. I end up not answering him or repeating myself.

Jack is also interested in where all the other cars are going.

Jack: Where is that car going Mommy?
Me: They're probably going to work.
Jack: No, they're not.
Me: Yeah, I think they are.
Jack: No, they're on the same road as us, so they're going to the gym too.
Me (in my head or sometimes out loud): Well why did you ask me if you already know where they're going?

On another day, he asked me what I was doing and I told him that I was speeding up to get in front of a truck (a dump truck). That opened a whole new can of worms.

Jack: What truck Mommy?
Me: The one behind us Jack.
Jack: Where is it going Mommy?
Me: He's going back to work.
Jack: No, he's going home.
Me: It's the middle of the day...he's probably going back to work.
Jack: No, he's going home. He has a little boy at home who is 3 too. He's going home because he is going to take his little boy to the Little Gym.

Jack wins again. But I have to love the imagination he has.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Before & After

I have a few improvements to my kitchen that I would like to make...sometime in the near future. I'm thinking about a tile backsplash to add a little pop of color and maybe some paint. I've only been thinking about it for six months and I think I've figured out what I want to do. The hardest part has been choosing a color. I know that I want a glass subway tile...just want to get the color right.

Now I'm pretty sure about the color, but I haven't made any more progress. Pat mentioned that I should get some material to cover a bench seat that we have in the breakfast nook. I thought that was about the last thing I was going to do in my kitchen...until we decided to have 35 people over and it looked like this...

First of all, I should mention that the bench was a great bargain at only $12 at a Christmas Tree Shop. It required a few holes redrilled to put it together and a lot of extra swearing on Pat's part, but I know he was very proud of his bargain and his handiwork. It currently holds a bin of baseball hats, one bin for Casey's shoes and coats and one for Jack's.

Most of the grime and dirt is from Tugger. The bench is behind Casey's chair at the table which is also where Tugger hangs out during meal times, waiting for Casey to drop her a few dinnertime treats. While Tugger is waiting for any stray food, she slobbers and as she circles around Casey's chair she transfers the slobber to the bench.

The orange on the bench is a decorating touch from Casey and her use of an orange marker. We keep those up high now.

So, two days before the Hail & Farewell, I ran out to Hancock Fabrics and found some great fabric. I think it may have cost a few cents more than the actual bench. So now...I love the look of the bench and the whole corner and I even think I've figured out what color to do the tiles in...kind of an apple green. Don't hold your breath for the pictures of that project though.

Anyway, here is the after.

And now I've written a whole post about a bench. And I could probably right more but I won't bore you any more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dinner for 30

Yesterday we hosted a Hail & Farewell at our house. All of Pat's fellow officers came to "hail" the new members just arriving on the ship and to say "farewell" to those who are leaving. We figured that attendance would be around reality it was probably a little more. It's one thing to think about the amount of food that is required to 30's a whole other thing to actually see 30 people standing in your house. The food doesn't take up quite as much space as 30 people, three-quarters of them men.

But think about the food I did, for about a week straight. I started cooking on Sunday and making lists and thinking about lists and cleaning and thinking about where I should place all the food. I thought a pasta bar would be a fairy easy way to feed a large amount of people. I thought that until half an hour before everyone arrived and it seemed that none of the water would boil. Eventually it did, and no one went hungry. In fact, I had way too much food.

Pat really had me stressed out about how much food 30 people could eat. He mentioned the enormous amounts of food necessary for spaghetti feeds for his hockey team in college. He encouraged me to get 6 lb of spaghetti and 6 lb of penne at Sam's Club. I doubled the meat sauce recipe. I quadrupled a roasted red pepper cream sauce recipe, sending Pat to the store at the last minute for more red peppers so I could do the second double batch. I tripled a batch of grilled veggies...half of which I had to roast because when I went to turn the grill on, an hour-long downpour started.

Currently residing in my fridge/freezer and pantry are:
1 batch of meat sauce
A double batch of roasted red pepper sauce
About 2/3 of the vegetables
Assorted leftover desserts
A whole jar of Sam's Club bruschetta mix (already made about 60 slices of bruschetta with the first jar)
6 lb of penne
3 lb of spaghetti

I guess I should have another large group of people over here soon. Pat informed me that pasta doesn't go bad. After the pasta extravaganza of last night, Jack decided he would like pasta for dinner tonight. Well lucky him...we just had a little bit on hand. I turned some grilled peppers into a pepper & goat cheese quesadilla because I couldn't quite cope with more pasta. However, I will do my best to take care of all these pesky desserts lying around.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Crossings and Cooties

Jack woke up a little earlier than Casey from naptime today so we had a little time to kill, just Jack and I.

He played with his trains for a little bit and I tried to read a book. He interrupted me every 5 seconds with a new question or to inform me that the coaches were ready for passengers. I quickly gave up on the reading. He has a bunch of wooden signs to go with his train set - Stop Sign, Do Not Enter, etc. For a long time, the Do Not Enter sign was his favorite one. He used to ask me over and over what it meant and any time we saw one on the street, he would get excited about it. Apparently, he has a new favorite. He saw a Railroad Crossing sign at a friend's house a few days ago and today he told me he was "just going to wait for it." When I asked him what he meant by that, he said he was going to wait for Santa to bring it for Christmas.

I'm actually glad that he thought of Santa on his own. Lately when he tells me that he wants a new toy, I tell him that he should ask Santa in a few months. His response has been, "No, we can just go to the store and get one." He says it in a tone that implies I am completely ridiculous for asking Santa when it would be much quicker to just go to a store.

Anyway, a few seconds after telling me he was going to wait for the railroad crossing sign, he realized that he had an almost life-size one standing in the corner. It's a piggy bank that makes train noises when you insert coins. I told him that we shouldn't put any money in it right now because the noise might wake Casey. It's really loud. Jack didn't take so well to this idea. He dramatically drove one of his trains off the track and onto the floor. He starting crying... because the trains obviously needed that signal or the railways would just be mayhem. We eventually compromised and shut the door to the room so he could make the signal noise without waking Casey. All was right on the Island of Sodor again.

Eventually we moved on to playing the Cootie Bug game. When Jack got games for his birthday, I was looking forward to playing them with him. Then I actually tried to play with him. He's not much for the rules. I think I explained to him dozens of times that it's not where the die lands but the number on the top. We played two games of Cootie and he finally figured it out...and beat me both times fair and square! Anyway, the best part of the whole game was that he kept saying we need to "roll the dough" instead of "roll the dice."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

True Stories of the Highway Patrol...or not

Jack is becoming quite a story teller. He's getting very good at explaining what happened during the day to Pat when he comes home from work. But he's also got a very good imagination and some of his stories aren't exactly what you'd call "true."

For instance, he told me that Daddy's car got hit by a couple of others cars. Daddy's car was fine but the other people had to get new ones. It was a him and a her, not a her and a her. But they got new cars. Pat verified that this story was not true.

Today, Jack dressed up as Batman (so I knew this wasn't a real story.) He told me that he didn't want to wear the mask because he had to save the world over and over again. I asked him why he didn't want to wear the mask. He explained that he couldn't save the world with a scary mask on and also that it was hard to breathe with the mask on.

Thankfully, he's taking a break from saving the world and has gone to bed with a minimal amount of coming out of his bedroom. And I'm going to go watch The Office season premiere.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Monkey See Monkey Do...

There is no other way to describe Casey right now. Mostly she does whatever Jack does. She tries to say what he says and she tries to do what he does. But she also tries to do the same things that I am doing. I realized I have to think a little bit about what I'm doing when I was scratching Tugger's belly with a hockey stick. Casey thought she should do the same thing but it wasn't quite so gentle. At least she's not chasing Tugger around and whacking him with the hockey stick like Jack did when he was her age.

It's also interesting to see the differences in the way Jack and Casey "learn." When Jack learned to talk, we would continually ask him to say a word. We would repeat it over and over again until I thought I was driving him crazy because I was certainly driving myself crazy. And eventually he would carefully say it, as if making sure that he was saying it correctly. I had never seen a child learn to talk and my expectation of how they did it was a little different from the way Jack learned.

When you ask Casey to say a word, she just goes for it - she says whatever she thinks might sound like what you just asked her. Hence yogurt becomes "yo-yo," blueberries become "boo-boo" and pizza was "pee-pee" for a while. This was more in line with how I thought kids learned to talk. I didn't realize there could be such a difference until Casey came along.

It will be interesting to see how this translates as they get older and go to school. When we started going to the library for story time, Jack wouldn't join in for any of the interactive songs. He just sat and watched for the longest time. Finally, about 2 months passed and he got comfortable with the words and the actions and he started joining the group more.

This week, Jack started classes at The Little Gym. I was worried that he wouldn't listen to the teachers and would be running around crazy (like a couple others). Instead he sat outside the circle and just watched and tried to figure it out. I could see him trying to process it all and make sure he had it right before he tried it. This bit of his personality is so interesting for me to watch. He loved his class and can't wait to go back next week. I'm glad that even though he's not in school yet, he has this little bit of time where he learns to listen to a teacher and how to act in a classroom type setting...and yet he gets a lot of energy out too!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More Bedtime Drama

It's hard to motivate myself to write a blog after the bedtime war every night. A couple of nights ago, I told him to get in bed and go to sleep about 50 times. He just kept getting up and opening his door and smirking at me. I would try to ignore him and calmly put him back to bed. It was not easy. I told him I was going to put him in time out the next day for one minute for every time I shut the door. That didn't work. And I didn't fall through on it because trying to keep him in time out for 20 minutes would have become an hour ordeal as I would have to keep returning him to his timeout spot.

The silver lining in the cloud (the cloud being the fact that he can now defeat the childproof lock on his door) is that he can let himself out of his bedroom after he wakes up from his nap. Today I think he played for about 45 minutes while Casey and I continued our naps. I heard him playing with some of his books down in the playroom and then he came down to see if I was awake yet. I asked him what he had been doing and he said, "I was just reading some books to Tugger."

Other than the bedtime struggles, we had a pretty busy Labor Day weekend. Pat's brother got married in Philly and my parents drove down from Maine to help babysit. Jack was in the wedding as the ring bearer and he did a great job. He loved getting ready with all the guys, although he was a little intimated with all the girls in their pretty dresses. When it was time to walk down the aisle, he got very serious and walked very slowly and did such a good job. My parents were watching Casey...there was no way she was going to stay still in a pew for any longer than 2.5 seconds.

Here are some pictures...mostly from after the wedding and before the reception when Casey and Chase joined the fun.

And for the record, I've been upstairs 5 times in the middle of this post to put Jack back to bed and he is now yelling from his bedroom.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Hockey Helmet

Last week, Casey dropped her morning nap and started napping only once a day. And I found myself with so much more time on my hands. I was able to workout for more than 30 minutes at the gym without trying to rush back to the house and get lunch ready and fit in naptime. I was also able to shower at the gym so I didn't waste any precious naptime minutes doing that. We went grocery shopping, got the car detailed, went to Farmer's markets and playgrounds and we did a little shopping. I was finally able to stop by a couple of thrift stores that I have wanted to check out for a while.

I have been reading a lot of blogs where people decorate and make rooms look amazing with some really inexpensive thrift store finds, usually improved with a can of spray paint. It inspired me to try to find some of my own deals but I didn't really have the time until now.

On Friday, Jack, Casey and I headed into the CHKD Thrift store to see what we could find. The kids found a train table that they really enjoyed. It had the train tracks glued on there and Jack was a little disappointed that he didn't have his trains with him. We might not have left the store if he'd brought Molly along. (Molly is his special train, a reward for making the move from pooping in his underwear to using the potty.) Anyway, I didn't really see anything that jumped out at me.

We got to the meager toy section and the kids were poking around on the shelves. Casey pulled a car out and pushed it around the floor. Jack found some lacrosse sticks and wanted to know what they were. And then...Jack found a hockey helmet.

At first glance, it was just a hockey helmet that I was pretty sure would be too big for him. Then I took a second look at it. It was in really good shape and looked like a youth helmet. I'm not even sure it had been worn before. I couldn't tell what size it was, but it was certified until 2011. I was wondering if Jack's head would fit into this helmet before 2011. Then, I saw the price - $2.98. Whether he would ever wear this helmet in any sort of real hockey action no longer needed consideration.

Jack has turned my socks, his socks, wooden blocks, slippers, and plastic bags into hockey skates. He has turned train pieces, bean bags, McDonald's toys and golf balls into hockey pucks. Our hardwood floors are ice. Diego and Nemo push toys are Zambonis. And every time he plays hockey, he straps a pretend helmet onto his head (and anyone who is playing with him).

Buy the child a 3 dollar helmet whether it fits or not!

So, we left the store with Jack's first hockey helmet resting soundly on his head. He claimed that it fit and was very excited because, "Now I don't have to wear a pretend helmet anymore." As we were walking to the car, Jack tripped and fell on his knees on the concrete sidewalk. His already scraped up knee was ripped open again and he was actually bleeding quite a bit. I got him into the car and started to try to clean it up, at which point he told me, "Mommy, my knee really hurts but I didn't hurt my head at all because I had my helmet on."

I didn't have the heart to tell him that he might have noticed the uneven pavement and not tripped if he wasn't wearing a hockey helmet that was too big.