Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Every Saturday morning that we're in town, we take the kids to the library. The one we go to has a great kids' section, with lots of toys in addition to the books. The kids love to climb in and out of the fire engine - just large enough for the two kids to sit in - and take turns wearing the firefighter's helmet. I always like to put on a puppet show for the kids, using some of the many puppets the library has on hand for their weekly storytime. And, of course, we read books while snuggled into a bean bag chair.

Sammy, being all boy, is going through a tractor/truck/train phase right now. So this past week, we collected about a dozen books on various forms of transportation to check out. His favorite? Garbage Trucks. We had to read that book about 5 times at the library, and another 5 times that evening when we got home. And, every night before bed, he's requested that book.

On Sunday, Natalie and I were home alone for a little while. She was crawling around on the floor, exploring and playing with toys, while I read the newspaper on the couch. Soon, I saw her little head pop up as she pulled herself up on the couch to say "hi". Then I saw she had a book clutched in her hand - The ABC's of Cookies, starring Cookie Monster. "Ah-bah!" she said excitedly, waving the book around. "Do you want to read that book?" I asked, and she nodded her head, squirming in anticipation.

It's so rewarding to see that my effort to instill the love of books in them seems to be paying off. I can only hope that they continue to enjoy reading as much as they do right now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mealtime with rambunctious young children

Scene from any random night at our dinner table:

Me: “Tomorrow I need to go--”
Sammy: “I want milk!”
Me: “to the post--”
Sammy: “I want milk!”
Me: “I know you want milk. Wait a minute, please. I’m talking to Daddy. So, tomorrow--”
Sammy: “Pweeeeeeease?”
Natalie, throwing her graham cracker on the floor: “Ah-goo, pbbbttthhh”
Sammy hops off his chair: “I go see Nye.”
Me: “Sammy, get back in your chair. We need to sit at the table while we eat.”
Ron: “I was reading about this new way to make hydrogen…”
Me: “Sammy, get back in your chair.”
Sammy, munching on Natalie’s graham cracker, which he’s scavenged off the floor: “Mmm, this is dewishus!”
I get up, pick up Sammy, and plop him back in his chair. Natalie flings her sippy cup on the floor and starts crying because she wants out of her highchair.
Ron: “and then the hydrogen molecules…”
I take Natalie out of her highchair and pour Sammy some milk with my one free hand.
Ron: “As long as you’re up, could you get me a napkin?”

After about 20 minutes of this, everyone else is finished eating. I sit down to eat my cold supper, while both Natalie sits on my lap and grabs at my food, and Sammy takes all the magnets off the fridge and throws them on the floor. Finally, when half my food is on the floor because of Natalie's help, I sigh, give up, and dump the rest of my food in the garbage. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember the days when I could enjoy a nice, hot meal in peace and quiet.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Enough with the storms already!

Since storms usually seem to hit around 10:00 at night, when I'm just going to bed, I never used to pay much attention to storm warnings. I'd rather be sleeping than be hiding out under the stairs until it blew past. Having kids changed that. And a 2-year-old in a neighboring town was killed by a tornado a few weeks ago, which drove the point home even more.

As most of you know, the Midwest has been battered by storms this spring. We've been incredibly lucky so far. The tornado from a few weeks ago touched down in the towns on either side of us, but we had no damage at all. Not even branches down.

Then last night, there was a severe thunderstorm warning, and the television said that major winds were a part of this storm. That was enough for me to decide to stay up and see what was going to happen. It started thundering and lightning, with a lot of rain. Then, very suddenly, the winds started howling. We ran around the house, shutting all of the windows, then glued ourselves to the TV. It didn't look like anything too major was happening, since all of the networks were still showing regular television, with just a little scrolling bar at the bottom mentioning the weather alert.

Then....a muffled thud came from the back of the house. Ron and I looked at each other, and said at the same time, "What was that?" Ron went into the kitchen to look out the window, but since it was dark, he couldn't see much. I checked on the kids, and both were sleeping peacefully. Just as we both came back into the living room, there was another muffled thud, and then a loud, earth-shaking thump.

Ron again went to look out the kitchen window, and this time he could see that our humongous oak tree which stands stood right outside the kitchen window was gone. That was when we knew it was time to hightail it downstairs. Ron scooped up Sammy while I grabbed Natalie. Not surprisingly, both immediately woke up, so we got to do bedtime all over again when we finally felt safe enough to come back upstairs. It took an hour to get Sammy back to sleep, since he was so wound up over the excitement.

Miraculously, the tree fell away from the house, and when we went outside to look this morning, there was not as much as a scratch on the house. Absolutely amazing. It's going to be a lot of work to cut it all up and haul it away or burn it, but we were very lucky. (And Ron's comment: "I really wanted to cut that tree down anyway, but didn't know how to do it with it so close to the house." It also ended up smashing an inground grill, which has always been an annoyance, and which I have always wanted to remove. So, two birds with one stone. Yay, Nature.)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Kids crack me up. The following two conversations both took place within fifteen minutes of me waking up this morning.

Conversation #1: (background: we're going to a craft show later this morning; but like so many of the things we do on the weekends, it doesn't open until 10:00)

Sammy: "What we doing today?"

Me: "We're going to a craft show but it's not open yet. You wake up so early that nothing's open when you get up."

Sammy: repeating, "Nothing open." Then: "But my eyes are open!"

Conversation #2: (background: Natalie had a dirty diaper and I had just changed her)

Sammy: "Where Nye peanut go?"

Me: "Huh?"

Sammy: "Where Nye peanut....penis go?"

Me: laughing, "Well, she's a girl and she doesn't have one."

Sammy, chasing Nye who's crawling away, and pulling down the back of her diaper to check the way that I check for poop: "Let me check, Nye. Nope, no penis."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

More breaking news

Natalie took one unassisted, halting step tonight. She'll be nine months old tomorrow. This one is going to give me a run for my money, just like her brother.

My morning commute

I could see the smoke from two miles away. As I neared my freeway exit, I realized that the source of the smoke was on the exit ramp. I assumed I would have to get off at the following exit, and loop around and come back, but then I noticed the car ahead of me take that exit successfully. Just as I got on the ramp, I saw that the smoke was coming from a blazing car in the left-hand lane. I needed to turn right, but I was very skittish about driving past that car. I could picture the gas tank exploding as I pulled alongside, but I had no choice at that point but to keep going.

A state trooper waved me past, stopping oncoming traffic so I could turn. I was very thankful for that, as I could feel the intense heat through my closed window, and was getting more nervous every second.

By the time I got on my bus, the fire trucks had arrived, and they were no longer letting people through. Unfortunately, that ramp is the only way for the bus to leave, so we had to sit there and wait while the fire department finished putting out the fire. That resulted in me being about half an hour late to work, but I can't complain too much. At least my car wasn't on fire. Now, the owner of that car - he or she was having a very bad start to the day.

Nothing like a bit of excitement to start the morning.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Random pictures from last night

This is the new 2008 model Mr. Potato Head. You saw it here first.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Milk Carton Semi Truck

This project is a little too complicated for my toddler to do right now, but I am definitely printing this one out for future reference. I think this would be a great project for a father and son to do together. Here are the directions to make a model semi-truck out of milk cartons and toilet paper tubes. http://www.freecraftunlimited.com/semi-truck.html

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's the Little Things that Matter

I placed an order with www.reusablebags.com last week and was so excited to dig into that box when it came. I wanted to replace my BPA-laden Nalgene water bottle, and also upgrade my cheap-o canvas grocery bags, which were already ripping at the seams after less than a year of use. I ended up buying these ACME bags - guaranteed for life! - a stainless steel canteen, two stainless steel sippy cups for the kids, and that cool little sandwich bag at the bottom of the picture. I'd never heard of these before, but what a great idea! It folds out into a placemat, and the inside liner wipes clean.

Just had to share!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Craft day! Suncatchers

Today's art project is sun-catchers.  

Materials needed: clear contact paper
glitter, sequins, tissue paper, or any other small colorful accessories

Cut two smallish equally-sized pieces of the contact paper.

Peel the sticky backing off of one of the pieces.

Here's where the toddler comes in.  I find it helpful to keep mine busy doing something else during the previous steps.  Otherwise I'm likely to find that he's decorated his bedroom with baby powder in the meantime.

Decorate the sticky side of the contact paper with glitter, glitter pens, crumpled tissue squares, sequins, etc.
Peel the paper off of the other piece of contact paper, and stick it to the decorated piece.

You can leave it as is, or cut it into a fun shape.  We went with a heart this time.  

To hang in the window, use a paper punch to punch a hole in the top, loop a string through, and use a suction cup to fasten it to the window.

A variation on this idea:  Using a single piece of contact paper, have your child paint a picture With finger paints or another washable paint, of course (but I'm sure I don't need to tell you that).  After the paint is dry, cut around the design, peel the paper off the back, and stick directly to the window.  It comes off the window easily when you're ready to take it down, even after 6 months.  Not that I've left one up that long.  OF COURSE I wash my windows more than that.

Breaking News

Not ten minutes ago, Sammy came out into the living room and proudly announced, "I go poop in the potty!" Not believing him, I said, "You went poop, or did you just go potty?" He repeated, "I go poop!" Still not believing, I said, "You went poop in the potty chair or in your diaper?" By this point, he was getting exasperated and he said, "I go POOP in the POTTY CHAIR!" I got up to look, and sure enough, he did!

Ron said, "I have to say, that is so much easier to clean up than a dirty diaper. Just one wipe and that's it." Five minutes later, the turd was still in the potty chair, and guess who ended up dumping it in the toilet and cleaning it? NOT Mr. It-Is-So-Much-Easier-To-Clean-Up-This-Way.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Lost: SANITY. Big reward for safe return.

Natalie is now fully mobile. She started crawling, haltingly, about a week ago, but over the weekend she figured out that she can really get places now. Couple that with the fact that she pulls up on everything, and you get trouble. Case in point: this morning, while I was trying to get ready for work, she went over to an end table, pulled herself up, and flung every last magazine on the floor. Then she followed me into the kitchen, opened a cabinet, and pulled out a stack of heavy pots and pans, narrowly avoiding smashing her teeny-tiny toes in the process. This is all in the space of ten minutes. This was an exhausting weekend. Not just for me, though. She tired herself out so much yesterday that she fell asleep in her high chair while we were still eating supper. She didn't even twitch a muscle when I took her to her room, changed her diaper, put on her pajamas, and placed her in her crib.

Even scarier? When she pulls herself up, she lets go and balances for up to 10 seconds at a time. Um, if I remember correctly, that means walking is not too far off. I had really hoped that Sammy would be a better listener (i.e. less likely to take off running in the parking lot) before she started walking, but it looks like I'm not going to be that lucky.

One of our recent craft projects was making suncatchers. They were really easy and used materials that I had around the house. Details and instructions to come later tonight. The pictures are still on my camera. For some odd reason, I didn't have any time this weekend to do anything except CHASE THE CHILDREN.