Saturday, February 24, 2007

Highland Games

Blue skies, warm weather, and the sound of bagpipes. It's time for the Highland Games! Thanks to Grandma Ann and Auntie Margaret, Laurel and Ian were perfectly dressed.

Ian loves his kilt and is proud to show it off.

Laurel loves her outfit too!

Marching with the pipe bands.

Laurel finds a playmate.

Run away, run away!

The day wouldn't be complete without a ride in the keg train.

Best buds having a great day!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Thirteen Months of Laurel

Today is Thursday Thirteen. Laurel is thirteen months old (give or take a couple of days). Coincidence? I think not. Therefore, I present, for your viewing pleasure (particularly the grandparents), Thirteen Months of Laurel:

One day old.
Was she really that small once?

One month.

Two months.

Three months.

Four months.

Five months.

Six months.

Seven months.

Eight months.

Nine months.

Ten months.

Eleven months.

Twelve months.

Thirteen months.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Reading Memory

Ian lays on the living room floor, carefully lining up his trains on the wooden track and his cars on the wooden road. MMMMMmmmm, beep-beep, choo-choo, and other various motor sounds permeate our otherwise quiet house.

I decide to briefly interrupt his playtime. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, I browse the little library we set up for our children. Several titles lay scattered on the ground, but the one I choose to entice Ian with, still remains on the bookshelf. I open it and start to sing the text:

Well, I have a thing to tell you,
and it won't take long--
The way I feel about you
is a kind of a song.

I hear the rustling of Ian's clothes as he scrambles to his feet and runs towards me. "Mommy, mommy, I want to read ******* *****!"

An excited smile covers his face as he falls into my lap. Together we share a wonderful book and create a special memory.


Anyone familiar with the text of the book? Any guesses as to the title?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Reading Goals

A book is a garden carried in the pocket.
-Chinese Proverb

Reading is one of the most magical and useful skills we can teach our children. It allows us to be productive, competent, and informed citizens. It also gives us the freedom to learn anything our hearts desire. It is an outlet to escape real life and visit imaginary worlds. Through reading, we can gain insight to what others think and feel.

One of my hopes as a parent, is for my children to love the written word. I'm confident they will learn how to read, that is almost a given in today's society. But will my children have a passion to seek out written media in their spare time?

My husband, Paul, has that passion. Frequently I find him reading news on the internet or perusing the newspaper. He loves to end a day by devouring a good book. The ultimate relaxing activity for him is a book and a bath.

I read tons, but somehow I lack Paul's level of passion. Sure, I love a good book when I have the time and the energy. I love being able to search for information on any topic at any time, thank you internet. I know I am a lifelong learner. The difference between Paul and myself, is I don't make the time like he does. I don't frequent the news sites throughout the day, yes, I'm hanging my head in shame. I don't reserve energy at the end of the day to read the novel I've been picking at for months.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not devoid of reading desires. Obviously, I'm reading. There are stacks of child development books that I've read several times and continue to thumb through seeking advice. Novels line our bookshelves, some I've read, most I hope to read. And well, I read numerous blogs each day. But most importantly, I read to my children. I read to them before nap time, before bed, and during play time. I hope to instill a passion for reading in my children.

A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up children without surrounding them with books.... Children learn to read being in the presence of books.
-Horace Mann

Paul and I surround our children with books. Cloth books and board books fill the shelves in the downstairs play area, as well as the upstairs bedrooms. We keep the paper books that easily tear in a basket upstairs, utilizing them especially at nap and bedtimes. Frequently, I find Ian or Laurel surrounded in piles of books they have taken down from the shelves, flipping through the pages of the one that catches their interest. It delights me that they play with books.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Jennifer, at her blog Snapshot, challenges all child care providers to set an attainable goal in reading with children. Here are some goals for our family:

  • *Once upon a time, we would go to the library about once a week. Since the holidays, we have not gone. YIKES! I'm setting the goal for us to visit the library once a week.
  • *Laurel tends to be too tired to read with us just before bedtime. I would like to make sure she gets to hear a couple books before falling asleep. I am going to set the goal of starting her nighttime activities with reading books instead of trying to do it just before she goes to sleep.
  • *When I taught, I read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Based on research, he gives reasons for reading to/with our children, along with tips and recommended book lists for different aged children. I want to reread his book, and will be checking it out at the library (hopefully it's available) when we go this week.
Three goals is a good place to start. Once I have these under my belt, I may add more.

We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading.
-B. F. Skinner

Friday, February 16, 2007

A Day at the Park

Paul has been working long hours all week, so when Ian repeatedly asks, "Where's Daddy?" I know it's time to take action. A sunny, warm day presented itself, so the kids and I pick up Paul to have a picnic at the park across the street from his work.

This is no ordinary park, it's a railroad park. While we eat, Ian is quick to point out the little train chugging by.

Laurel's wondering why she doesn't have sunglasses on. I need to work on that one.

Ian watches the train go by as he runs around on the playground. Surprisingly, he chooses to play instead of ride on the train.

Laurel climbs to find the slide.

Laurel's at the top and ready to slide down.

Laurel proudly looks up from the bottom.

Ian climbs the ladder.

Ready, set...



Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! A great day to let people know how much you care about them. I'm feeling extremely loved. Last night, Paul and I got to go to...

Yes, that's right! We experienced Blue Man Group. What a fun show! We tapped our feet, clapped, laughed, bobbed our heads, raised the ceiling, and absolutely had a blast! Plus, we got directions to make a Mentos Geyser at home!

Today, well, my kiddos are giving me a wonderful Valentine's Day present. They are both taking...


Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sleep Retraining

Back to the topic of getting Laurel to sleep through the night. Paul and I agree to let her cry it out. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, we won't go to her. In the past, if we did just go check on her, it would make her all the more mad, especially if I didn't nurse her. The goal is to get her to sleep through the night without nursing. She was sleeping through the night for months before she got sick, just a little retraining needed I hope. Here's how Laurel's week of nighttime sleep has gone:

Keep in mind, bedtime is around 8:00 pm and I want her to sleep at least until 6 am. Living in the desert, we are parched, so I go ahead and nurse her at that time and then put her back down for another hour or so.

Monday Night
8:00 bedtime
3:45 crying, really pissed off, back to sleep in 2 minutes
5:00 crying, really pissed off, back to sleep in 6 minutes
6:15 crying, I get her and find she managed to get her left arm out of her sleeve and the sleeper is tight up around her neck on one side and tight under her armpit on the other (I feel like a heel I didn't check on her earlier, her poor left arm is cold), I put her arm back into the sleeve of her sleeper, nurse her and she's back to sleep in 5 minutes.
7:15 Babbling, up for good
*Mental note: if she's really pissed off, go ahead and check on her, something is probably wrong.

Tuesday Night
8:00 bedtime
4:30 crying, back to sleep in 5 minutes
6:00 crying, I get her, nurse her and she's back to sleep in five minutes
7:15 babbling, up for good

Wednesday Night
7:45 bedtime
9:00 crying, really pissed off, Paul checks on her and finds her leg stuck between the crib slats. Once rescued, I go ahead and nurse her to help calm her down (probably shouldn't have done that), back to sleep in 5 minutes.
4:30 crying, back to sleep in 1 minute
6:15 crying, I nurse her and she's back to sleep in five minutes
7:30 awake and babbling

Thursday Night
8:00 bedtime
5:00 crying, back to sleep in a three minutes
6:00 crying, I nurse her and she's back to sleep in five minutes
7:15 awake and babbling

Friday Night
8:00 bedtime
5:30 crying, back to sleep in one minute
6:30 crying, I nurse her and she's back to sleep in five minutes
7:15 awake and babbling

Saturday Night
7:30 bedtime
5:50 crying, back to sleep in one minute
6:15 softly crying, falls back to sleep within seconds
7:00 awake and babbling, I finally nurse her

Sunday Night
8:00 bedtime
6:30 I'm sitting here blogging, updating this post, waiting to hear a peep out of her yet!

It seems Laurel wasn't the one who really needed the retraining, just Paul and me. We needed to remember everyone wakes at different times throughout the night. Most of us just fall back to sleep. Laurel tends to cry herself back to sleep. Her cry sounds very sad and it's hard for us not to go to her, but she falls back to sleep much faster if we let her be. Obviously, when her cries sound frantic, we will check on her, already learned that lesson. But for the occasional whimper, we will put our faith in Laurel to fall back asleep on her own.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I've got writer's block, so I'm giving this a try. Plus, Peter, over at the Tutu Boutique, tagged me to share things about myself. So here's my very first Thursday Thirteen: Things you may or may not know about little old me.

1. I use to be musically inclined. Once upon a time, I played the flute, piccolo and piano. I still have my flute and regret I never play it from time to time. It'll take some work to remember how to read music.

2. I was a geeky marching band member. Not just playing flute, oh no, I took it one step further and twirled flags and rifles in high school.

3. I have been married four 3 years (oops, brain fart, had to correct it).

4. I have two kids ages 2 1/2 and 1. Yes, we've been busy!

5. I love where I live (Phoenix suburb in AZ). It currently is 80 degrees F outside! Sure summers get to be 100+, but we can cool off in the swimming pool.

6. I could eat cereal morning, noon and night.

7. Some of my favorite cereals include Total Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms.

8. In high school, my best friend and her dad nicknamed me Sapo Verde (green frog). Not sure why or how that came about.

9. I once wanted to go into the air force and become an astronaut.

10. Instead, I became a teacher. Over 11 years, I taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th grades, including second language learners (usually from Mexico and Latin America, but a few from Tonga, Vietnam and Somalia).

11. I stopped teaching to be a SAHM when Ian was born. I miss teaching and will definitely return once Ian and Laurel are in school full time.

12. I'm extremely shy. Even once I know people really well, I tend to be on the quiet side. I'm a really good listener.

13. I wish I had time to garden. I love the feel of dirt in my hands!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Little Common Courtesy

I can't keep this in, I'm sorry. I'm not one to usually use my blog to rant,especially since I'm not good at ranting, but I need to today. Simmer, simmer, simmer, I have to get this off my mind, so here goes...

Both my kids have been sick a lot this winter. I expected the colds, but the stomach virus took me off guard. Our family has stayed home for well over two weeks. Before that, we stayed home off and on while Laurel and Ian were getting over other colds. This was done intentionally to let my sick little people recoup and so they wouldn't infect others.

Today, I felt it was safe to take Ian to Jumping Beans, a little exercise class provided through the city I live in. To say he was excited to get out of the house would be an understatement. "We're going to jumping cwass, hurray!" he shouts as we load up into the van.

We arrive at class, take off our shoes and sit and watch some girls run around on the mats in the middle of the floor. "Mommy, there is children here!" He smiles ear to ear. Ah, it's good to be out around other people again.

We start class by marching in a big circle. Ian holds my hand and tries to march, actually he's taking gigantic steps without lifting up his knees. Next, we walk sideways, backwards and then on tiptoe. Ian's having a blast trying to imitate the teacher. We are warmed up and ready to stretch. We all grab a mat to sit upon.

That's when I notice it, the little girl sitting behind us begins coughing, a down deep in the lungs kind of cough. The mother grabs a tissue and has her daughter blow her nose. I think to myself maybe, hopefully, it's just a cold, no big deal. Wrong. As class progresses and we start running, her cough gets worse and even sounds a bit like a bark. Her mother occasionally takes her aside to blow her nose, but then gets her running again.

Of course Ian and I used sanitizer after the class, but other kids that use the equipment that little girl handled may get infected. I remember a music class Ian and I took when he was about 14 months old, where a mother used sanitizing wipes on anything her little guy played with or chewed on. She used them before he got his eager paws on them, and after, very considerate in my opinion. Maybe I need to start doing that too, using wipes on the equipment before and after Ian uses them. But in the exercise class, there are times where balls, hoops, etc are being tossed back and forth between children. Then, it's out of my hands and Ian will be exposed to whatever.

I know we parents can't keep kids home for every little cold, but when a child is continually coughing that hard, they need to stay home. They need to stay home to get better, and to not spread germs to others. This is just some little, inexpensive class, not a mandatory thing. When Ian is sick, we skip class so that others aren't infected. I also refuse to take him into stores while he may be contagious.

As a teacher, I couldn't believe that a few parents would send their children to school with a note or having called me saying to the effect:

Dear Teacher,
Please keep an eye on __________. She threw up last night. She has a slight fever. If she gets worse, please send her to the nurse.

The poor student usually ended up going to the nurse, and then sent home ill. Then whatever the ailment was would spread through the classroom. Smart. So respectful of others.

I'm not saying that for every little cold a child needs to stay home, but when it's more serious, like a respiratory infection, pink eye, the flu, or worse, yes, he/she needs to stay home. A little common courtesy can go a long way to help keep our children healthy.

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's Still Me

Hi. I'm just playing around with the templates and having some fun. It may stay like this, it may get tweaked.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Make the Crying Stop!

Babies crying in the middle of the night, a topic we parents know all too well. A topic that creates much debate. Should we console them or let them cry it out? Should we go to them right away, check on them every five minutes, or let them be? Should we sit in the room until they fall asleep, bring them into our room or even our bed, or again, just let them be? Should we play soft music, give them a lovey, change their diapers, nurse them or give them a bottle, pat their backs, take them for a car ride, etc., etc., etc. So many options, no wonder there's a lot of debate on the subject.

Laurel was (notice the use of a past tense verb) a good sleeper. She would usually sleep through the night from about 8 p.m. until 6 a.m., when she would let me know she was ready for a drink. Once done nursing (she takes all of five minutes to nurse!), she would go back to sleep until about 7:30. A good night's sleep in my opinion. She would wake up rested, cooing and babbling.

That all changed a couple weeks ago. While sick, we obviously went and checked on Laurel every time she cried. Heck, taking it one step further, I slept in her room that first night of sickness. There was really no choice, she was vomiting almost every hour. Subsequent nights, Laurel wasn't vomiting as often, but I needed to nurse her every chance I got to prevent dehydration. Again, no decision to make there.

Here we are, a full week of good health, but Laurel continues to cry throughout the night. It's time to do something about it. For all of our little family's health, we cannot permit her to continue this bad habit. Yes, it's a bad habit! She acquired this behavior while sick, and now it's become involuntary. It's time to reprogram our little lass to sleep through the night again.

So now the question is, what do I do to get Laurel to stop crying in the middle of the night? How do I convince her that she really doesn't need to depend upon my breasts to fall back asleep? Of all the choices out there, which ones should I try to remedy this situation? To whom do I look to for guidance? Sears? Ferber? Weissbluth? Mom? Friends?

In all honesty, I don't believe there is one absolute answer that fits every parenting style. Parents have to decide how to tackle this subject in a manner that suites their individual needs and strengths. Anyone out there telling us there is only one way to do it, is ignorant. What I do appreciate, are the people out there saying that there are choices, try something and if it doesn't work, try something else.

We are lucky to live in a time where information is just a click away. Whether it be by computer or a phone call to our own moms and dads, friends, or a professional organization, advice is just minutes away. Yes, the road to getting our sweet babies to sleep through the night may bumpy, but with some determination and inquiry, we will eventually find a smooth highway to Slumberland.

So what approach will I use on Laurel? Hmmm, thinking, thinking, thinking...

Any guesses as to the approach I will try?

Friday, February 02, 2007


I'm having a serious case of insomnia right now. It's 3 a.m., everyone else is sleeping soundly. Desperately trying to wind my mind down, I thought I'd blogsurf. I want to change the way my blog looks, so I've been especially interested in the sites listed at the Share the Love Blog Awards. There are so many wonderful blogs out there, so many wonderful women (sorry menfolk, it's exclusive) sharing their lives with us.

This morning as I scrolled through the different categories, something caught my eye. Surprise, someone nominated me under the Best Commenter category. Ok, somebody out there was awfully sweet for doing that, and I wanted to say thank you.


Stomach virus update:
Laurel's absolutely, positively back to her old self. I even heard her cackle as she toddled off with one of Ian's toys. Hurray!

Yesterday, Ian had an ongoing fever, and pretty much slept the entire day. No vomiting, a huge improvement, and he even managed to eat a couple bites of banana and crackers. Unlike last night where he tossed and turned and kept waking up, tonight he sleeps soundly. Things are looking up for him.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Four Car Family

Shhhh, don't tell our car insurance company, but we're now a four car family. Ian and Laurel are environmentally conscious, their cars don't require gas. And Laurel, going one step further, drives a car that doesn't even require batteries! (Gotta' love the quiet toys. Thanks Riley, that was an awesome birthday present!)

Laurel: Hey there buddy, I think you damaged my bumper!

Ian: Well, you shouldn't be riding my tail like that!
It's now day seven of the stomach virus. Laurel seems to her usual rowdy self. Her appetite is slowly returning, time to put some meat on those skinny legs!

I think Ian is on the mend. Yesterday was rough. He must have vomited every hour. Dehydration was a huge concern, especially when he couldn't keep a tablespoon's worth of water down. Poor guy, he kept pleading, "Mommy, more water, please!"

I wanted to honor his request, but knowing better, I only dare let him have a few sips at a time. My husband, brilliant as always, suggested giving Ian ice chips. Duh, why didn't I think of that? Ice chips give the satisfaction that you're consuming something with the benefit of slowly absorbing some water. Once we started Ian on ice chips, he seemed to not throw up. Coincidence? It's been 16 hours since he last threw up, I think we'll try some diluted juice once he wakes up from his nap.