Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bees, Oh My!

Two exhausted kids and I are driving home from the Phoenix Zoo. Laurel's actually asleep, and Ian looks like he'll be visiting Slumberland soon enough. I'm thinking about the wonderful things we saw and did on today's little adventure: Laurel proudly signing giraffe as one approached nearby to eat some hay strung high in a tree; Ian wanting to spend over fifteen minutes gawking at some enormous fish and talking with a new friend who was equally mesmerized by these aquatic animals; Ian trying to convince Laurel that we need to walk the opposite direction she was heading by telling her, "No Waurel, go this way!" and pulling on her arm; and an insubordinate Laurel stubbornly plopping her butt on the dirt path as a refusal.

A delightful day full of sunshine, exercise, discussion, exploration and curiosity about our animal friends. We've had a full day of excitement, and now head home to rest. Relaxing as I listen to the humorous lyrics of Faraway Cookies on the Philadelphia Chickens CD, I squint quizzically at a jiggly little black cloud that our van rapidly approaches. "What the...?"

Splat...splat...splat, splat, splat, splat, splat...splat...splat, as we drive through a swarm of bees. Unbelievable as it may sound, this is the second time I've driven through a swarm of bees on this section of the freeway. Ugh, my poor newly installed windshield is officially initiated by Mother Nature!

I look at the smeared yellow-green guts, pondering when I'll have time to visit the car wash. A slowing car catches my eye, it's wipers unsuccessfully trying to clean off what looks like a hundred splattered bees. Wow, I must have been on the edge of the swarm, the front of the other car was covered. At least I could see out my windshield, the other driver had to pull over to help out his wipers.

Ten minutes later, our little pack pulls into the garage. I carry my dreaming baby girl upstairs, gently place her in her crib and kiss the top of her sweaty head. Ian is actually still awake and makes futile pleas that he's not tired. Yeah, right buddy. Once in bed, story read, and cuddled, he's asleep within minutes. Sleep well little one, more adventure awaits you this afternoon.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Paul and I were spoiled this weekend. His parents watched both kids Friday night and Saturday. We dropped a very happy Ian and Laurel off (they love their grandparents so much), and then headed off to P.F. Chang's for dinner. I tried something new and now have a new favorite: Shrimp with Candied Walnuts, YUMMY! At 1225 calories and 80 grams of fat (OUCH!!!), I will have to be extra good this week. Of course we shared entrees, but Paul's choice of Kung Pao Chicken wasn't much better: 1220 calories and 80 grams of fat (OUCH again!!!).

Afterwards, we went home and watched the movie Idiocracy. HILARIOUS! The best part of watching a movie at home with the kiddos gone, was being able to turn the volume up as loud as we wanted.

Saturday morning, we leisurely woke up and went out, yet again, for breakfast. A brisk three mile walk afterwards helped put a small scratch into our calorie intake over the previous 24 hours. We ran a few quick errands and picked up Laurel on our way home. Ian was more than happy to watch his little sister leave so that he could have Grandma and Grandpa all to himself!

Sunday morning, we got some more exercise hiking Pinnacle Peak. I wore Laurel on my back. Carrying an extra 20+ pounds gave me a good workout. Poor Paul and a friend that joined us couldn't say the same. It was a very hilly climb, some parts being quite steep, but I slowed us down too much for either of them to get their hearts pumping. Next time, they both need to carry kids also!

Around 11:00, Grandma and Grandpa brought Ian back. We all had lunch (yes, it's all about food), then Paul's dad and I got busy working in my garden. When Paul and I relandscaped our backyard last fall, we had a 4x30 planter put in. Dad showed me how to filter the rocks out of the soil. There are TONS of rocks in our soil! About three hours in, we filtered out about 3 linear feet of soil. I'm thinking at this rate, maybe we'll complete half of the planter this spring, and try to do the rest in the fall.

Later that evening, the fun mood of our weekend took a 180 degree turn. Laurel came running towards me in the family room. She hit the corner of the table with her eye and immediately plopped solidly down on the floor screaming. I tried to comfort her in my lap as Paul brought me a bag of frozen peas to help with the swelling. That's when I noticed some blood. All I could think was, "Please, not her eye!"

Paul ran to get a cold washcloth. After gently putting pressure on the wound, we put some ice in the washcloth to help bring down the swelling. Once the swelling went down a bit, we could tell it wasn't actually the eyeball that was cut. The tissue in the corner of her eye was scraped.

This morning we're much more calm and relaxed. Yes, Paul and I have several more gray hairs and aged 10+ years, but these charming faces give us energy:

Not too bad, almost looks like eyeliner.

My, that's quite the hairstyle!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Reviewing Our Reading Goals

Has a month already passed since our family set some reading goals? I really need to stop blinking, or I'm going to find my babies in college before I know it. Go Sundevils! ASU, ASU, ASU! Go Sundevils! Yup, total brainwashing so they know where to acquire their higher education.

Let's take a look at how we did with each goal:

Library visits once a week -
The first week we tried to go on a Friday. A very eager Ian, Laurel and I arrived at 11:00, positive the library would be open by then. Ho, ho, NO! Denied! Our sad city is having financial troubles, the citizens voted down a proposed property tax, and now things are being cut back or eliminated. Friday's library hours are 1-5. We ended up going to a playground, having lunch and then going home for naps. Saturday was the Highland Games, and believe it or not, the library is closed on Sundays. We did plan accordingly, and made it to the library the second week. The third week, both kiddies had bad colds and I chose to not infect the world outside our home. The fourth week, BONUS, Paul (a.k.a. Daddy) went with us - YIPPEE! So, am I disappointed in not making it to the library once a week, yes. However, the unexpected happens and you have to be flexible. We did make it twice in a month's time, and that's a huge improvement over not making it at all for months. I want to still try and make it there once a week, but if other things come up, that's ok too.

Reading bedtime books to Laurel earlier, rather than waiting until we are about to put her to bed-
Interesting thing happened, I started reading books to her while Ian was still getting his diaper changed, pajamas on, teeth brushed, etc. We decided she could stay and read books with Ian and us if she didn't get too whiny, wiggly, or showing other signs that she was ready to go to sleep. So of course, she was suddenly able to stay up through at least one of the books we were reading to Ian. Needless to say, Laurel's reading lots of books at night with us, a very good thing indeed!

Rereading Jim Trelease's book, The Read-Aloud Handbook-
I thought I would be checking this book out at the library. After my frustration with the library not being open, I went ahead and bought the book. I'm so glad I did! He has research to back the importance of reading aloud to children of all ages from birth until, well, death. Why do I like this book so much? The author says it himself: This book is not about raising precocious children. It's about raising children in love with print who want to keep on reading long after they graduate.

Do I believe reading aloud to my children will help them achieve more in their lives? Absolutely! They may not end up having the highest paying jobs, but they will most likely be lifelong readers, and in my opinion, there is no greater treasure to be found!

I am happy with the results of our goal setting this month. We are definitely reading more. I've stolen some ideas from others. During meals, I read to Ian and Laurel. This seems to really benefit Laurel, who has a difficult time sitting still when reading longer picture books. But when strapped in her highchair and busy chewing, she is able to look, listen, and discuss (you know, in wonderful babble tones) longer books with Ian and me.

We've also come across some books that we love:

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell/Patrick Benson
A story depicting how three owlets react differently when their mother is late getting back to the nest.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
A young boy wakes and finds snow has fallen. The storyline follows his play throughout the day: creating a snowman and snow angels, experimenting with different footprints, trying out a snowball fight with older boys, utilizing a stick to knock snow out of a tree, and finally trying to save a snow ball in his pocket.

Tuesday by David Wiesner
Almost completely wordless, this book encourages tons of dialog between readers. The beginning pictures depicts startled frogs as they float skyward on their lily pads and head towards a neighborhood in the night. Following illustrations are of the frogs interacting with some of the residents in the wee hours of the morning.

My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
Mouse is Rabbit's friend. This book is also mostly wordless. Rabbit means well, but tends to get into trouble. When trying to help fly Mouse in an airplane, the plane ends up in a tree. Rabbit finds and stacks several different animals in the attempt of rescuing the plane. Of course, things don't work out exactly as planned.

Thank you Jennifer for setting up this month's reading goal activity. My family is definitely reaping the rewards!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Returning to Normalcy and a Car Wash

Hello all! It's been a fabulous week of fun, fun, and more fun! We played A LOT, and didn't get much done around the house, hurray! My nieces, Allison and Madison each got to stay the night with us. Ian and Laurel loved hanging out with them, getting and giving lots of attention. I'm really glad those two crazy girls visited us. They reminded me of the importance play has in our lives. We turned a wagon into a train, built sand cities and became Godzilla to trample our own sandy creations, completed several puzzles, panned for gold, colored, played games, read books, told stories, and giggled ourselves silly.

The average high this week was around 95 degrees Fahrenheit, 99 DEGREES on Friday! It's only mid-March, SCARY, what's the summer going to be like?

Today, Ian and Paul got Paul's car washed. As they left the car wash, Paul opened the sun roof to see if any wax remained on the window. As the sun roof opened, Ian looked up and touched it. Happily, he chirped, "Daddy, I am touching the sky!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring Break

Ian, Aug. 2005, San Diego beach

Taking a week off from blogging. No, not traveling, just resting, catching up on some much needed house projects, enjoying my wacky nieces, enjoying my own little ones and hubby. Hope you all have a great week!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Finding a Solution

During two different times in the evenings, I get overly frustrated (to put it mildly) with my children. It’s almost a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario with both my darling angels and myself. Usually while I’m making dinner, and during clean up afterwards, we all become our alter egos. On such nights, Paul is working late, so it’s just me refereeing our offspring, but I should be able to handle them.

As I busy myself in the kitchen, the kids are playing freely in the living and family rooms. For a brief few minutes, everything goes well. Ian plays with garbage trucks or his train set, and Laurel drops book after book off the shelf until she finds one of interest. Before long, Ian yells out, “No, Waurel!” and she is crying.

I quickly head in their direction. Typically, Laurel enters Ian’s space and decides to play with one of his toys. Appropriately, he tells her, “No.” Inappropriately, he grabs the toy away from her and pushes her down. She’s not the sturdiest on her legs yet, and sometimes rolls and hits her head on something. My response is to put him in time out, set a timer for two minutes, and give Laurel love and hugs. Sounds like a good solution: give the attention to the victim, ignore the culprit, and try to extinguish the inappropriate behavior. The problem lately is, Ian won’t stay in time out, or he’s acting silly rolling on the floor or pretending to fall down, knocks over nearby chairs, or like last night, plays with the nearby garbage canister and knocks it over spilling its contents across the kitchen floor.

That’s when I lose control. I put a still crying Laurel down in the other room and attend to Ian. He is placed back in time out, and reminded (by me yelling at him) that he needs to stay there and has lost a beloved toy like a garbage truck or train figure, whatever he seemed to be playing with just before the incident. Laurel typically follows me to our time out location, and her cries get louder with each passing minute. Ian seems to get more hyper, won't stay put, and I end up holding him in time out.

Once upon a time, we had a “jail” that kept Ian contained, but he is so big that he can lift it and get out. He’s also too big to go into a playyard. We started training him to stay in time out on his own, and he was successful with it for a while. Sigh, the last few weeks have been a different story.

Now, time out has become a reward. Ian’s receiving my attention, yes it’s negative, but it’s still attention. And Laurel is crying behind me, not being comforted. At this point, I want to run off and hide in a closet, but can’t, because either the stove is on or Laurel will try to eat from the trash strewn across the floor.

Enter Paul, who comes home from work only to find two crying/hysterical children, and a wife who wants to hide upstairs. Being the wonderful husband that he is, he jumps in and helps. He comforts Laurel while I have Ian help clean up the trash. Then once the kids are calm and occupied, Paul listens to me while I vent my frustrations. Brilliant man, he doesn’t just listen, he offers a solution: the next time Ian needs to go to timeout, we should strap him into a booster seat. No, not the booster seat he currently uses for meals, but a different looking one so there is no connection. We will call it the time out chair.

Once we put the kids to bed, I head off to the store to buy a time out chair. I find the cheapest booster costing $12.99. It’s ugly, and it doesn’t look like it will last forever, but it is completely different from Ian’s current booster chair. I get home with my find, and Paul immediately sets it up in the corner we typically put Ian in for time out.

First thing this morning, I show Ian his new time out chair. I explain to him that he will sit in the time out chair for two minutes if he does anything that hurts Laurel; including pushing, bumping, biting, hitting, and throwing toys. I also remind him that if Laurel takes a toy or is bothering him, he can get me to help by just saying, "Mommy help!" He understands, nods his head, gives me a hug, and runs off to play.

Midmorning, Ian pushes Laurel while taking a toy away from her. I check to make sure she is alright, although crying, and walk Ian over to the time out chair. I strap him in, look him in the eye and sternly say, “Ian, time out for two minutes for pushing Laurel. We do not push people.”

He actually sits quietly during those two minutes, something that has not happened in a long time. Once his jail time is up, I ask him, “Ian, why are you in time out?”

“I don’t do what mommy says.”

I want a more specific answer, so I redirect, “Ian, what did you do to Laurel that made you go to time out?”

“I push Waurel down.”

“We do not push people down. You need to say you’re sorry to her and give her a gentle kiss.”

“Ok, mommy.”

We find Laurel chewing on a block. Ian walks up to her and states, “I’m sorry Waurel,” and kisses the top of her head.

This is hopefully the beginning of many successes. Paul works through our dinner rush again tonight. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

In Need of Mushrooms

Baby, oh baby, why are you so frustrated?

I know I can, I know I can, I know I can.

Ok, I've got my foot in, almost there!

Alas, Laurel forgot to eat the magic mushrooms to shrink her body. She really needs to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Evidently, Laurel has yet to learn about scale, and what can fit into what. A couple days later, I run to help my whimpering child and find her at it again:

Ok, the door is wide open, I should be able to walk right in and find a seat.

Here goes, umph, hmmmph, uuuugh.

No luck with that side door. Hmmmm, over the top again.

(Notice her tongue, a family trait.)

The back door, that's it! It looks bigger, I know I'll fit this time!

She's quite a trooper, didn't give up for quite a while, despite her mother's fits of laughter.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Garbage Truck Love

Ian, you are a funny little guy. Saying you love garbage trucks, is an extreme understatement.

On your second birthday, you received your very first garbage truck. It was orange, made different noises at the push of a button, had headlights, even a dome light that turned on when you opened the cab doors, it had a lever that made a trash barrel lift up and empty trash into the hopper, and came with its very own driver. You played with this toy nonstop, you still do.

Your fascination with garbage trucks grew exponentially. Wednesdays and Saturdays evolved around when the trash and recycling would be picked up. You looked out the windows forlornly, waiting for that magical vehicle to come down the street. It seems when we least expected it, we would feel those all too familiar rumblings. We would look at each other and yell, "The garbage truck's coming!" I would only see the blur of your image as you ran to the window.

Some days, we would stand outside and watch as the garbage truck emptied every trash barrel on our street. The driver would usually wave at us. Sometimes, he would honk the horn, or better yet, make the hopper go up into the air. Neighbors would come outside to say hello, and you would talk their ears off about the garbage truck.

"The garbage truck picks up the trash barrel. Trash barrel go upside down. Trash go into the hopper. Trash barrel go on the sidewalk." Over and over again you would inform us, until we would repeat it back to you.

Your obsession was so cute, I made up a garbage truck song to sing to you at bedtime to help you settle down.

Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.
Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.

It drove around the block,
and it picked up the trash barrel,
and lifted it up
into the air upside down.

Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.
Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.

Then the trash fell out
of the trash barrel,
and went into
the hopper.

Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.
Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.

Then the garbage truck
put the trash barrel
back onto
the sidewalk.

Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.
Beep, beep, says the garbage truck, beep, beep.

Your obsession was obvious as we drove about town. You could spot any and all garbage trucks long before the rest of us. "Mommy, mommy, there's a garbage truck (usually adding in whatever color the vehicle happened to be)!"

You also pointed out EVERY trash barrel. "Mommy, daddy, is the garbage truck going to pick up that blue (or other color) trash barrel?"

Not surprisingly, one of your favorite books, is I STINK! by Kate and Jim McMullan. And of course, one of your favorite DVDs to watch over and over again, is about garbage trucks and trash collection. I have to admit, both are quite good, and all the adults in this household are much more knowledgeable about the world of solid waste.

Adoring family members have noted your obsession, and have bought gifts accordingly. You currently own a fleet of seven garbage trucks, two of which have residences at the grandparents' houses. You love each and every one of them. I frequently find you lining them up in a perfectly straight row, or find you lying between two of them with their music blasting into your ears. "Garbage trucks in stereo!" you shout out.

The green garbage truck you received last Christmas Eve.

The second orange garbage truck you received Christmas Day.

Of course, it's not enough to play with garbage trucks, you also like to pretend you are a garbage truck. Throughout the day, you rumble through the house finding objects to pick up like trash barrels. You make various engine noises and use your arms to hoist the object up and over your head. If you discover a cup or a bucket along the way, it is soon filled with smaller items that get dumped up over your head and behind your back.

You've even taught your baby sister how to sign garbage truck, something your father and I never thought to do. Now, when she sees or hears the garbage truck, she sweeps her arms up, over and behind her head, telling us, "Garbage truck!" She smiles and cheers when we recognize it and say the word out loud for her. Thank you, Ian for teaching her that.

The blue garbage truck you received today.

Ah, yes, my dear Ian, you do LOVE garbage trucks!