Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Preschool! I now have 9 hours a week all to myself.

The day has arrived - my little two are now both in preschool. Sarah started on Monday, and goes five days a week. You can just see how eager she was to let me take her picture!
I tried telling her that when she's older she might want to look back at these pictures and see what she looked like at not-quite 5 on the first day of preschool. Thing is, when Sarah doesn't want to hear it, you can't tell her anything. Sigh. (Although this morning, she did ask if we could do it again, she might like to have a picture to look at - is it terrible that I told her no?)
Jason, on the other hand, was more than willing to cooperate! He seemed all ready and happy to go, and let me take LOTS of pictures :) I love his sweet face. Happily, he has the personality to go along with it (yes, my love affair with my youngest continues - he's back to his sweet self most days!)
Now while he willingly let me take his picture, he wasn't so keen on getting out of the car when we got down to the church. Jason seems to think that if he covers his eyes, he disappears. I felt really bad prying his hand off my leg and making a run for it, but I know that sticking around wouldn't make it any easier on him - or me.
I felt a bit better hearing from some Facebook friends that he seemed fine, sitting in his classroom :) When I picked him up, he was all smiles & excited to show me what he'd colored that day, and said he was ready to go back this morning. Today went a little easier for both of us :)
So yesterday morning I had coffee with a friend, and ran some errands alone! It felt a bit like I'd lost something, not having anyone with me. Jason's been my buddy for almost 4 years now, and it's very quiet without him here. I know we both need this though, I need a bit of time to myself (I get less and less done as the kids get bigger when they're here!) and he needs to take those first steps, make some friends, and learn some things - otherwise I'd have a lazy teenager who knew nothing but how to play all the Lego playstation games....
So this is my second morning alone! Even Matt's in the office today & the house is eerily quiet. No rest for the weary though, there's no food in the house and I have a garage full of cabinets and doors that Matt's built that won't get painted unless I get moving. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, August 29, 2011

8 is great. And Glittery!

William turned 8 on Friday! He's been looking forward to this day for quite a while now. Actually, all the kids have birthday lists posted on the fridge, even though William's comes first and the others have at least another month to wait. William's list stayed the same for a little while, and included the following:

1) Mazing Hamster (Webkinz)
2) Another DS game
3) Another Wii, PS & Xbox game (nothing specific, he'd just like something new)
4) A pet cat
5) Money!!!! Specifically, a $50 bill - he had a line drawn to this, which was item #13
6) A math book, grade 6. William just started 2nd grade :)
7) A Medel Deteckter (his spelling)
8) A super sonic nerf water gun
9) Gold (yes - gold)
10) Anything!!!!! (this one should be EASY!!!)
11) Marble track pieces. (He hasn't played with his marble track in years)
12) A pet lamb (a real one, that would graze in our yard - and provide wool, I guess??)
13) See #5 above :)
14) A DS protector. No specifics here, apparently his cousin had one.
15) A Webkinz Signature cat. I think he already has one of these.
16) Slinky. William loves slinkies. They do not love him.
17) A Pillow Pet Sheep
18) A stuffed Webkinz lamb. You can never have too many stuffed sheep.
19) A checkers cake
20) Lemonade
21) Pokemon Black and White Game
22) a $500 bill (?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!)

Every time I read this, it makes me laugh :) Gold! Money! $500 bill! At least one of my kids appreciates the value of a dollar. William is actually very good with his money, he saves his allowance and last month he wanted to take some of his money to the bank, so that's what we did. If he keeps this up, he'll have a nice little nest egg by the time he turns 18!Anyway - William's favorite color is now gold - or yellow will do as well - so I did my best to glitter up his birthday :)

Thanks to all these cake decorating shows, you can now get lots of stuff at your local craft store, like edible gold glitter and powder for cake decorating....
I think he liked it.....
Checkerboard cake, per his request, served with lemonade....

I wrapped all his gifts in yellow paper and added gold bows....
William's been talking about using his money to buy a gold bar for at least a year now. Gold prices being what they are, that will never.happen. Silver, maybe - gold, no. After asking him about his thoughts on this though, he told us he didn't care how small it was, he just wanted GOLD for his birthday. I found a 5 grain flake of it on ebay (seriously - it's a flake, maybe 1 cm x 1 cm) and he was so impressed by it :)
William got a few other things for his birthday, including his pillow pet Sheep.

I think he liked it :)

Things I never thought I'd hear a child say? 'I GOT MATH BOOKS! GRADE 6!!!!!!!' When it was all said and done, William declared Friday the Best.Day.Ever. Even though he didn't get a pet cat or lamb. And his slinky? Made it through to late Sunday afternoon. Oh well :) Happy Birthday William - I hope you enjoyed it!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Daydreaming 8.26.11

It's Friday, the end of the first week of school. A week ago we were in the Outer Banks at our beach house, and there was a fabulous hammock on the second story deck. I read a lot of the Hunger Games on that hammock :) How can it be only a week ago? Feels like forever. Anywho! Today is William's birthday, and while I'm dreaming of sitting in this hammock reading, he's at school excited to be 8 years old, and wondering what presents he might receive tonight - so I thought this would be a great picture to post today :) Happy Birthday William!


If you'd like to daydream some more, click on the pic below to head on over to Becca's at R We There Yet Mom? and see what others are thinking about today. She also has some great travel ideas and tips for you :) Happy Friday!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

School Daze....

Today is the first day of school for my big two - which seems especially cruel this year, I can't remember the school year starting this early in the past & we just got back from the beach on Saturday. The house is really quiet without them! I do love how excited they get though, both kids were up and dressed early & ready to walk out the door at 7:40 - a big change from last spring towards the end when we were racing out the driveway at 8:05 to get them to school before the tardy bell at 8:15. Wonder how long this will last???
Evie was most excited to finally be able to use the binder with the kitty on it that she bought herself 2 weeks ago, and William's pretty excited about the pencil pouch he found that's one long zipper - I'm not sure why the whole thing needs to unzip, but he thinks it's pretty neat! Hope his teacher doesn't hate me too much for it ;)
Evie and William both go to the same school this year. As staff has moved around, William hasn't really run into any of Evie's teachers in the past, but I'm sure that won't be the case always. I can't say I mind, I know my younger sister always hated the 'Oh, you're Jenny's little sister!!!!' comments :) Poor Jason, he'll have 3 not too far ahead of him to color people's perceptions.
So we survived the first morning of back to school, and I took Sarah and Jason with me to breakfast with some of the other moms. I'm the only one left with little kids at home, but that will change faster than I can blink, and probably before I'm ready for it. I can't imagine the house without my little two with me, but preschool starts next week & I'll have my first taste! $10 I'm crying buckets next Tuesday after I drop Jason off.....
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So while we were at the beach last week, Jason FINALLY decided to use the potty ALL.THE.TIME. HALLELUJAH! Yesterday we went to Target & bought some new Lego Batman underpants to celebrate, and I'm gathering up all the pull-ups in the house to get them OUT of here. After close to 10 years of changing diapers (seriously - Evie was born in October 2001) I can finally say that phase is over. Never thought this day would come!
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I have a TON of pictures from our beach trip, but Blogger's being a PIA this week & giving me fits every time I try to upload them, but I'll keep trying. Suffice it to say, we really had a wonderful time at the beach - such a change from our last trip two years ago. It actually IS getting easier :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Road trip! Harried Mom is beach bound...

I love the beach. Especially the outer banks, specifically Duck, NC. Small town, quaint, quiet, perfect. It's been two years since our last beach vacation (to
Corolla) and three since we were last in Duck. I love it here. The drive that should take 6 hours but is really 8 with the slow traffic roll over the one bridge to the island seems totally worth it when you get here.



My dad rode down with us this time, so Sarah got to ride in the back & I sat next to Jason, and we watched movies the whole way!



William had a fever for three days prior, and was in tears on Friday because he didn't think we could go on our trip- happily, his fever broke before we left Saturday morning. He was tired & hasn't eaten much in days, but is rallying pretty well & feeling better :)



We got our key & went right to my favorite restaurant for dinner, the Red Sky Cafe. Best food EVER.



Evie really impressed me when I made up her bed Saturday night, she'd brought her dream catcher and her picture of our family with her & put them on her nightstand - sweetheart :)

So far this trip is a lot different from our last trip two years ago, what a difference that time makes with little kids- at dinner Saturday night, Matt actually said he was happy! And then I upset him Sunday morning :( Life is like that I guess, highs and lows, and here I am continuing my search for the Happy Medium. So far so good. Adios from the beach.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Swim Team Reminiscing; and a Sneak Peek at the Mudroom

Swim team is over for the summer. Thankfully - we get to relax for two whole weeks before the daily grind of school and homework begins. This was Evie's 3rd summer on swim team, and William's first. He worked really super hard before try-outs, and this year they accepted him. He was so excited!
For Evie's first year, I packed a bag every day & while she swam, the little kids and I either hung out in the shady snack bar area with coloring books & such, or we'd walk over to the adjacent park to play. Last summer was so stinking hot, most days we'd sit in the shade and try to keep cool. It was either that, or Jason wanted me to tote him back and forth, because he was 'bored' - ie, too hot to walk. Must be nice to have someone to carry you around, no?

This summer I managed to drop Evie and William off by 9am, and then some days I actually managed to stay at the pool and wait. A good bit of the time, I dropped them off while still in my pjs, and came back for them when practice was almost over. Whatever happened to the lazy days of summer where everyone sleeps in and no one has to be anywhere at any specific time? Back in June the kids went right from the last day of school BAM into swim team practice for six weeks. I can't belive it's pretty much the middle of August, summer break has gone by way too fast (and has also seemed include an eternity of whining).
My kids aren't the fastest swimmers. Evie does a great job, but only swims during the summer, so it's tough to compete with kids who swim year-round. Also, this year she went from 25 meters to 50 meters, so there were some turns during meets that got her disqualified. William? He gets his swimming ability from me, I think, and doesn't seem to come by it naturally. After years of group lessons and several private lessons, by the end of this summer he'd really improved SO MUCH! Now if we could get him to quit looking at the other kids while racing, actually use his whole arm during the backstroke and remember to not turn over from his back until his arm touches the wall, we'd be in business! 
I'm hoping this winter and spring they'll both decide to swim at the nearby indoor pool. I could live without spending another cold Saturday morning at the soccer field, as neither of them really have a passion for it. They're competitive and like to win, but don't want to spend any time working on skills. Why bother spending time doing something unless you love it? Life is too short for that.
The first couple Saturday swim meets I didn't really think much about anything for the kids to do while they waited in between events; finally it dawned on me that a deck of cards and some drawing paper & crayons might be a good idea. After that, Evie spent what little time she wasn't scoping out the concession stand drawing landscapes & making up mystical creatures. William got the cards out, and magically all these little girls came by to play with him.
I was getting a kick out of this little blonde girl getting all cozy with William while playing crazy 8's. She kept using him as an armrest & snuggling up to him. We ran into her at the pool a couple of times after that, and depending on who else was around, she either came over to play with William, or ditched him like a hot brick for one of her girlfriends. Girls are funny like that :)
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Back in the winter, as part of our bathroom remodel, Matt gave up his closet off the bathroom so we could have a stacking washer and dryer in there. That room still has some work to do (I have SO many doors to paint once the weather cools off & kids are in school for a few hours!) but the former laundry room, now given the glamorous name of Mud Room, is getting put together to get ready for school to start. The former narrow passageway with 2 doors opening into it -laundry room, shown here:
....no longer houses a washing machine and dryer, and the cabinets are gone! 2 weekends ago Matt pulled up the old vinyl floor and put down new ceramic tile; this past weekend the wall cabinets came down and up went bead board and new base boards. I've spent some time the last few days filling nail holes, priming bare wood, and prepping to paint the room, hopefully tomorrow! Shouldn't take long, as it's basically a 7x5 foot room. I have a picture in my head of how it will turn out, and can't wait to take pictures of the finished product to share :)
Looking forward to seeing my celery walls in my bright new room...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

William the Conquerer; Evie Returns; Potty Talk; and finally, You Should Be My Neighbor

This is a long one. Apparently cutting my Zoloft dose in half  (because I didn't want to DO anything and kept yawning all day long!) has brought my chatty back :) So grab your beverage of choice, use the potty if you need to, and I'll catch you up....

William kicked my butt today. I thought I'd gotten my butt kicked this morning when I let Jillian torture me with Day 1 of Ripped in 30, but really, she wasn't that bad. I Shred, so Level 1 was manageable. After today though, I can only imagine what Week 4 will bring. But since this isn't a DVD review, back to William. Apparently I am the Worst Mother In The World. Never mind those people that lock their kids in closets, don't feed them, or any other kind of horror - it's me. I asked him to - wait for it -  take a shower. And when he tried to sneak downstairs, after a full day of arguing with me and not doing what I asked, I told him he'd won himself a ticket to EARLY BEDTIME! Do not pass go, do not collect your $200, go directly upstairs to bed. Well. You can imagine how that went over :) Dear William, your life would be SO much easier if you would just do what we ask, within the first 3 times we ask you to do it. Funny - I commented to Matt today how awesome Evie is - she's back from camp you know! - and he agreed - and then I reminded him that only a year ago or so we were talking about how much Evie stank & what the hell were we doing wrong with our bratty kids? But then you talk to parents with older kids & realize it's all a phase, and the years from 9-ish to 12-ish are actually pretty great before it all turns to crap again. Happy Happy Joy Joy! William is getting his second set of ear tubes in 2 weeks, so at least he won't have the excuse that he can't hear us anymore.

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Evie's home! We're back to our routine of annoying YouTube videos of silly stuff playing all day & lots of interruptions about the most venomous animal in the world and what's going on with Shark Week or something or other :) I didn't realize quite just how much I missed Evie until we walked down the hill at camp to the picnic table where she was waiting - she gave me a huge hug and the tears were right there in my eyes. Go figure, I really did MISS her in a palpable way! The tortilla on her face I could do without, but she's home safe and sound :)
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I'd like to introduce you to bob. He's our new best friend. I've forever been saying, if only we had some way of just SHUTTING OFF THE TV, life would be easier to manage. Because between the four of them, the idiot box was on all.the.time. We tried telling them no more, but they'd just move to another room. I tried unplugging the whole thing. Jason just plugged it back in. So one day while headed somewhere in the van, Matt & I were talking about it, and I Googled TV timers. Enter bob. Bob is an amazing little thing that you plug your whole system into, and then it locks around the plugs - so little people can't unplug the TV from it. And then you assign up to 6 different users a PIN number, and a time allotment. In our house, each child gets their own PIN - we need to work with Jason and Sarah on not sharing theirs out loud with the other kids - and a one hour allotment of time. When their time's up, the TV gives a one minute warning and then shuts off. LOVE!!!!! We have the master code and can turn it on and off at will, and assign additional time if we like, but so far so good. You can assign time daily, 1 hour a day, or weekly - say 7 hours total, in which case it's up to the kid to manage their time. Evie gets a weekly allowance, Sarah and Jason get daily. William gets nothing until we return from the beach because he flooded his bathroom :(
Which brings me to Potty Talk. Jason's still in pull-ups. I really thought he'd be done by now, but - it is what it is, he knows what to do & how to do it, and I can't really do the rest for him, he needs to. We're anxious to get him finished because he starts preschool in 3 weeks, and while they'll take him in pull-ups, we'd like to just put this all behind us. So Matt came up with a brilliant strategy this weekend, and so far it seems to be working: Jason gets an extra 15 minutes of bob time every time he pees on the potty. And if he poops on the potty, he'll get an extra hour. So far this weekend, everytime the tv's shut off, Jason's gone running to the bathroom yelling "I HAVE TO PEE!!!" Today he kept himself completely dry :) Bribery? Sure. But whatever works, right? I'm hoping once he gets the hang of #2, we'll wave goodbye to the days of diaper changes....
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 Once a month we try to get together with some of our neighbors for an evening of socializing, and I can't believe it, but this Saturday was the first time we'd gotten together since January? February? Way too long. Anyway - If you were my neighbor (and we liked you!) you could come over for appetizers, conversation, and some drinks, and then once everyone's nice and relaxed we bring out games, and possibly 110 proof alcohol. That comes with its own fancy spoon and requires sugar cubes and precise amounts of water to be added.
Matt's always wanted to try Absinthe, but couldn't justify buying a big bottle of something he might hate. So our neighbor Rob brought some over! Once they opened the bottle & I smelled that black licorice smell, I knew I wouldn't be trying any, but it was interesting to watch. You pour the water over a sugar cube on the fancy spoon & the sugar quickly dissolves...
It goes from a radioactive-looking clear green to a cloudy green (still smelling like black licorice), and then you can either sip it, or toss it back. The smell alone was enough to keep me from trying it, although the licorice haters at the table who did try it said it wasn't that bad. I'll take their word for it.
Cheers!

And then we all played Trivial Pursuit, the 80's version.I got to be Have a Heart Bear :)

Some of the questions were really hard. I thought Rob was going to pull his hair out. Although after the pitcher of Mai Tais I'd made and various other things, I'm surprised any of us could answer any of these questions...
While I was the first to earn all my pie pieces & try for the final question, in the end Matt won the game. Because I don't know anything about Sports & Leisure, and he got the easiest 80's Movie question on the face of the entire planet. I want a rematch.
So who wants to be my neighbor??

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Oh the Inanity...or, my week so far with the 3 Amigos

I miss Evie. She's been gone 3 full days now, and while her presence isn't obviously missed - now that she's older she spends time in her room alone or downstairs playing or just doing her own thing, and the other three do a bang-up job of filling up the gap - I do miss her frequent visits to share a story, something silly she saw somewhere, or her latest dragon drawing. Two more days to go!
In the meantime, I have the Three Stooges to keep me company. Oh my heck. I expect Sarah and Jason to behave the way they do, they are not quite 4 and 5 yet. But William? Still waiting for him to act more like the 8 he almost is and less like the 5 he left behind 3 years ago. (Does that make sense? I'm confused.) Anywho. Evie's been gone since Sunday afternoon, and the Three Amigos (that's better than Stooges, right?) have been bickering ever since. Not so much Jason - although he will punch you if he feels you deserve it - but William and Sarah have been picking at each other ALL WEEK LONG. I really should record the noises Sarah makes, but I don't really want to subject anyone to all that whining and noise. It would make a great montage though, all stitched together on YouTube! (note to self: start recording Sarah's meltdowns...)
So this morning the 3 were having breakfast - Jason with no milk, 99% of the time, and Sarah never finishes hers and then is HUNGRY!!!! 40 minutes later - and I decided to capture the moment instead of getting annoyed with their giggling. They'll appreciate this down the road, I hope :) Are mealtimes like this at your house? We have a lot of up/down from the table, sillyness, and general goofiness that can get irritating. I try to ignore it as best I can, but sometimes - mainly dinner - I'd actually like to have a conversation with Matt that doesn't have to be shouted over the din. We tried sitting next to each other so we could talk, but that left the four kids too close together & we couldn't talk anyway because they were all even MORE goofy. Sigh.
I have no idea where I'm going with this. Srsly. School starts in 3 weeks and I have to say I think I'm ready - not so much for the influx of papers/routine of homework/activities all the time, but the kids at this point need more structure than they get from me. And since Jason and Sarah have discovered Webkinz World and Lego Harry Potter on the Playstation, they've almost forgotten how to play and entertain themselves. I'm thinking maybe next weekend when we head to the beach, we should leave all electronics behind. Honestly? I could unplug all the tvs and live quite happily. Just don't touch my internet :) Apple/tree? Maybe.
It's funny, they're all sleeping now and looking at these pictures I'm overwhelmed with those mom feelings of love - aren't they cute? sweet? how can they get on my nerves so much? But as my sister has said - it's hard to share your house with other people, even your family. Between the holes punched in doors from them being slammed into the doorstop to the flooded bathrooms & sharpie on the carpet, it's hard. For me anyway. I like my things to stay bright and shiny and new, always have  - I remember being completely irritated at age 7? 8? because my younger sister wrote my initials on the corners of the posters I had hanging in our shared room - backwards. And she broke the heart shaped dish I'd bought at the beach one summer, because she was messing with it. Yes I still remember that. Grudge, anyone?
So school starts in 3 weeks, and I'm looking forward to a little break from all this togetherness. Sarah and Jason start preschool on the 29th, and after almost exactly 10 YEARS - I will have a few hours in the house to myself with no kids. I'm almost giddy just thinking about it. I know 3 hours, 3 days a week isn't much, but I'll take it. Even if I just sit in a chair with my coffee and enjoy the silence.

Monday, August 1, 2011

One week only, Harried Mom of Three

August 1. How is that possible? I seem to keep saying that, how time is flying, but it really does seem to be getting away from me. My big kids start school 3 weeks from tomorrow. Where did the summer go?? Thankfully we still have our beach trip to look forward to, coming up in 2 weeks. I'm not really looking forward to coming back from the coast and diving right into back to school, and then William has a birthday coming up on the 26th! He was very excited last night to realize that today is August 1 :) Do you remember being anxious for your birthday to arrive, and not having the astonished feeling that yes, another year has past and you are ALMOST 41? Oy.

I dropped Evie off at Girl Scout camp yesterday. She'll be gone for a WHOLE WEEK. The house is a lot quieter this morning without her here, and I know I'm really going to miss her! Evie has really grown up so much just in the last 6 months, she's been a pleasure to have around :) The girls are doing 'Pajama Party', so it will be a week of facials, manicures, and lots of fun things like that in addition to swimming, hiking, and camp fires. I hope she makes good use of the disposable camera she packed & I can't wait to hear all her stories! Saturday morning seems so far away, and yet I also know it will be here before I can blink.
Riley, Katie and Evie ready for a week at camp!
So this week it's just me and the other three (and Matt, of course) and we'll finish up swim team practice with a final meet for William Friday night, and I'll probably take them to a movie. Feels like we can't have too much fun with Evie gone, but on the other hand, she's having fun on her own so why feel guilty, right? Although as I sit here right now I'm listening to Sarah and Jason and William go about their day bickering and making random noises (why do kids DO that??) & I'm realizing maybe Evie isn't the one causing the chaos here after all....
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Our internet has become craptacularly slow recently, and Verizon can't get a tech out here until Thursday :( It's not too terribly bad downloading, but uploading that one picture above took 10 minutes. The good side to that is, the kids won't be hogging my computer playing Webkinz, but the bad side is anything I want to do takes annoyingly long. Technology - can't live with it, can't live without it :)

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