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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

Reading. Writing. Arithmetic. Those will come with time. I think it's important to teach the basics first. 

I hope she never forgets it. 


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Baby Deposits With Compound Interest

For the first time in six years, there's no crib in the house.
I took it down yesterday. We had two for a while.  We took the second one down about a year ago, when Chase moved to his big boy bed. 

No more diapers, either. I put the changing pad we've always used in the tippy top of the closet. The sweet little, handcrafted diaper stacker my folks used when I was a baby went into the storage room downstairs. Even the "learn to walk" toys have been relegated to the attic.

Sound a little sad, don't I.  I guess I am a little.  I enjoyed the baby part of motherhood way more than I thought I would.  Of course, I'm not talking about the middle of the night feedings or the ten gazillion diapers or the crying for no apparent reason for hours.  (That was me, not the babies.)

Ever heard of an emotional love bank?

I'm talking about the hundred smiles a day that only I was privy to. (Ching, ching.) I'm talking about being there for the firsts of EVERYthing for each of my kids.  Crawling, walking, talking, praying. (Clink, ching.) I'm talking about being the only one who could soothe their hurts and make them feel safe.  (Clink, clink.) I'm talking about the nights Brian and I would sneak in and watch them sleep. (Ching again -- just for sleeping!) I'm talking about the emotional investment, not only that I made in them, but that each made in me. Snuggles, cuddles, playtime, rocking. All those things go a long way to fill the Mommy Love Bank. (I hear they withdraw a LOT in their teen years.) 

No diapers or crib.  No changing pad or bumper pad.  No bottles or pumpkin seats.  *Sigh.*

When I tucked Ava into her toddler bed tonight with her big girl panties on and no sippy cup for comfort, I headed to my usual place of respite....the bathroom.  In just a minute or two, I heard her sneak around the corner.   With her big brown eyes looking up and me and nodding the whole time, she asked, "Rock a minute?"  


Maybe the coins just keep getting bigger?


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sometimes Getting Started is the Hardest Part

I think Kristin and I actually began thinking about blogging at the same time. A few months and 87 or so entries later I was still thinking about blogging while she had become a seasoned pro.

Initially, I was thinking I’d create my own blog complete with a niche and unique look. But, then I reconsidered. There are only 24 hours in a day the last time I checked, and I don’t have much high-energy time left over after I’m done with all my commitments each day. So, I’ve decided to work together with Kristin on something that started out as a simple blog, but will become our life story for future generations of our family.

Time for me to get off the dime and start making some contributions. This is my starting point.

As an aside, I seem to have lots of ideas these days. However, I’ve found that simply getting started, for a number of different reasons, is a real challenge for me. One reason is that I tend to psyche myself out by thinking that something has to be just right on day one. I can write more on that subject later.

For now, it’s good to say, “Hello, Blogosphere.”

Brian Signature copy

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We're Going to Applaud Whether You Like it or Not

Today is Veteran's Day.

On Sunday, our pastor asked all current and past service men and women to stand.  Brian stood with about 75 others while our congregation applauded.  I commented after church about how for as long as he lives, at least two holidays a year, he would be asked to stand while everyone showed their appreciation.  

I said, "How do you feel about that?"  He just shrugged.

He hates it really.  Well, he would say "hate" is a strong word, but he doesn't love it.  I asked him if it made him feel honored and he said, "I guess so."  Then followed with some murmuring about not being or feeling worthy of the honor.  

You can read back on my Memorial Day post for details, but essentially Brian joined the Army Reserves at 16 thinking it was a good idea at the time and feeling sure he wouldn't have to go to war.  

It's not that he feels bad about his service or regrets it even.  It has more to do with feeling like there are men who joined for nobler reasons and served with great courage and sacrifice. (Correct me if I'm wrong here, honey.)  There are those who got more blood on their hands, and in their minds, than he did.  (As an aside, I've talked to some of them, too and they don't like being applauded either.)

I say Brian, and others like him, deserve our gratitude and honor, too.  I'm grateful that when he was called to the first Gulf War, he didn't flee the country or do something to earn a dis-honorable discharge.  He could have shirked his duty either with flippancy, rebellion or cowardice.  But he didn't.  

He did what he said he would do. He did what he was called to do.  That's who I want serving our country.

I'm grateful to have a husband like that.  To have a father like that for my children.  And proud to applaud him, and any like him, whether they like it or not.  Aren't you?

Maybe if we keep applauding, if only twice a year, it'll finally sink in that they all deserve it.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas Gift Dilemma

About this time of year, yes, even before Thanksgiving, I have family members asking what the kids would like for Christmas.  Actually, I had an email in September about it this year!

Truthfully, because they're still pretty little, anything wrapped in paper with their name on it, is a gift they'd love.  From a 25 cent rubber ball out of a vending machine to the $300 tree house Sammie saw in the American Girl catalog.

So, I started to take an assessment of what they have now.  Ready?

Rocking Horse (2)
Preschool games: Kanga-Banga Roo, First Alphabet Game, Chutes and Ladders, Slide n Ride, Alphabet Board Book, Memory Card/Match Games (4 sets), Candyland, Leapfrog Bingo, Dr. Suess ABC game, Scrabble Jr., Jenga, Dominoes, Uno, Go Fish
Building Things: Bright Builders, Legos (lg. box), Duplos (xl box), Zoob (250 pc. set) wooden and plastic baby blocks (3 sets), 
Tool/workbench w/ tools
Doctor kit (4 sets, plus crash cart)
Baby Cradle
Baby Carrying Bassinet
Baby dolls (5)
Baby Doll Stroller
Fire Engines (2 lg, w/ sound)
Dump Truck (1 lg. w/ sound and motion)
Caterpillar and Frog Pull-Behind Toys
Elmo Dolls (hokey pokey, tickle me and chicken dance)
Toddler Bowling (one plush, one plastic)
Mr. Potato Head (basic, plus Spiderman, Tinkerbell and Minnie/Mickey set)
Diego Adventure Play Set
Learning Play Telephone (3)
Care Bears (3, including two that sing solo or in harmony w/ each other)
Stacking Ring Set (one plush, one w/ stars, one that rattles and one with sound)
Stacking Toys (buckets, boxes and cups)
Pounding Peg Board (3)
See-n-Say Animal Sounds
Puzzles (animal w/ actual sounds, plastic ones for toddlers, counting and letter ones for preschoolers, wooden Noah's ark, United States map and nativity, Strawberry Shortcake, Pocahontas, David and Goliath)
Jasmine miniature doll w/ miniature clothes
Play money (about a million dollars' worth)
Stuffed Animals (16 in Ava's room, 30 in Chase and Sam's room including two Build-a-Bears and ones that snore, talk, giggle and even have heartbeats)
Tea Set (one singing plastic, one princess and two miniature porcelain)
Princess Tea Cart
Play Kitchen (one sink w/ cupboard, one pantry w/ working clock and one Little Tikes kitchen, all with full cookware, dinnerware and play fact, I think she has more pots and pans than I do)
Nightlight (one cow, one elephant, one doll, one princess)
Barbies (4)
Barbie Kitchen 
Magnetic Dress Up Dolls (princess, cowgirl and ballerina)
Just Like You American Girl Doll, plus sectional sofa
Salon Chair Set for American Girl Doll
V-tech Fly and Learn Globe
Princess Design-A-Dress
Crayola Paint Sprayer Set
Fisher Price Learn to Tell Time Clock
SpiderMan Doll (speaks, slings web and snores)
Spiderman Action Figure (one w/ moving 4-wheeler, one w/ moving motorcycle)
Pirate Set (telescope, dagger, patch)
A to Z Sesame Street Letter Book Set (w/ floor puzzle mat)
My Little Pony Barn (w/ 4 ponies)
Cinderella Princess Foam Chair
Create-Your-Own Jewelry Box
Train Table
Brio Train set (basic and safari set, plus a few extra engines)
Puppet Theater 
Puppets (6)
Ride On Toy 
Walk Behind/Ride On Toy for beginning walkers
Small Electric Keyboard
Sit On Toddler Keyboard/Music Toy
Dress Up Clothes (over 40, plus acessories; see here for great detail)
Crawl Through Expandable Gym (like this)
Fisher Price Barn (w/ animals)
Magnadoodle (1 lg, 2 sm.)
Giant Floor Puzzles (6 or so including Dora, pirate, castle, firetruck, dinosaur, plane, trucks)
Art Easel w/ 4 smocks
Sesame Street Pirate Ship
Princess Play Castle
Ariel Vanity (child-sized w/ mirror and stool)
Toddler Pinball Toy
Buzz Lightyear Bubble Machine
Rubbermaid container of infant toys (like rattles, crib toys, floor mats)
Aqua Doodle Floor Mat
Talking Parrot
Tambourine and Bongo Drum
Bin full of action/animal figures 
Playdough (Octopus set, zoo animal set and floor mats)
Bin full of all sized balls
Big Wheels (2)
Tricycles (2)
Red Flyer Wagons (2)
Jeep (battery-powered to ride in)
Elmo Guitar
Little Tikes Car (foot-powered like the Flinstones)
Two-Wheeled Princess Bicycle
Barbie 3-Wheeled Scooter
Little Tikes Ride-On Bike
Sandbox Toys
Light Sabers and Swords
Roller Skates (Barbie slip-on and pink over-the-shoes kind)
Movies (70 VHS tapes and 45 dvds)

I am NOT exaggerating and I'm sure I've forgotten many things.  Not to mention that many of the things listed above come with a dozen or more pieces with each set. And, each year we have the kids pick several toys to give to Goodwill before the Christmas season, so they can think, if only for a few moments, about children who have nothing.

How do I say "This is ridiculous!" without sounding ungrateful? We have a large family who are "gifters" and many friends who bless us with hand-me-downs when their children outgrow toys.  We are grateful for what we have, but truthfully, if our children never received another toy or game, they would be happy, well-rounded and (dare I say?) spoiled kids, having much more than many children will ever have.

So, if you feel you MUST give gifts for birthdays or the upcoming Christmas season, may we make some suggestions?

Consumable gifts are welcomed!  Like giant floor coloring books, craft kits, paint sets, markers and crayons, more face paints, poster board and construction paper.  We go through those like crazy and have so much fun doing it.  Non-craft consumable ideas: bubble bath or even bath paints.

Add to what they have. Like puppets for the puppet theater, American Girl Doll accessories for Sam's doll or more Brio train pieces for Chase's train set.

My favorite idea is anything that helps to make memories.  Passes to the Indianapolis Children's Museum or to our local Wonderlab.  A trip to the zoo with grandparents. Is there anything more fun?  Or a gift certificate to the local pottery-paint shop, The Latest Glaze. Having fun, making memories and a built-in keepsake.  (And nothing for mommy to clean up!)

If you have any other non-thousand-piece-toy idea, leave a comment.  Or, let me know what YOU'RE asking for for Christmas.  I've heard it's never too early...


Friday, November 7, 2008

Birthday Ideas?

Those of you that know my husband may have some ideas about a birthday gift.  He doesn't really celebrate birthdays and probably would be happy without a gift at all, but I wondered if you've seen anything that just screams his name.  His birthday isn't until the 17th, so if you see anything between  now and then, please tell me!


Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Great Minds" on Elections

I'd been brewing up a post about the election.  What I thought before, during and after.  Then I read my buddy's post.  What is it they say about great minds thinking alike?

I think I'll just send you her way and you can have a little piece of my own mind about it.

Click here and then read her regularly.  


Monday, November 3, 2008

The Apple Works

We picked the coldest day so far to take the kids from co-op to The Apple Works. 
We took a tractor ride into the orchard of 7,000 trees and we each got to pick an apple.  There were farm animals, a pond, picnic area, an electric train, a playground built into a barn and a mound of hay to play on.   

The kids learned about pollination and toured the cider press and apple washer. See how interested Ava was?  (For about five seconds.)  Then she decided to check out "dat square cwoe."

Everyone got to try their apple cider and have an applesauce cookie.  They didn't seem to mind taking off their gloves for that!

And, even though I'm not a germophobe like some people I know, I do NOT like porta-potties, so we used our own!  

Next year, we'll go on a warmer day.  Want to come with us?


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Trick or Treat '08 -- Final Cut

Well, the face paint was a hit. I only did half mask this time for Spiderman, so he could eat without messing it up. And, the Ariel wig has been retired. Even though I think the spray was the exact same color as the wig, this seemed to suit her better.

Grandaddy dressed up as a "Bar Room Brawler", though you can't see the black eye so well in this pic. He loved handing treats out to the kids!

Mom and Dad got a little lazy and pulled out the tractor and wagon.  It was helpful after Ava got a few treats, all she wanted to do was ride in the wagon and eat, eat, eat!  I didn't think to get pics of our whole group...the Newland girls were in our party.  You can see a pirate getting out of the wagon here. Maybe Cindy will show you how creative her girls were!

You know how celebrities have "after parties" when their movies premiere? Well, here are a couple of shots of our after party!

Even Spiderman relaxes after a hard night...