Friday, January 31, 2014

A Piece of Advice

I know so many friends, family, and acquaintances having babies in the next six months it's ridiculous. I am so incredibly happy for all of them and while I do have tons of advice to pass on, the one thing I want them to know: never say never. Any time you have ever uttered the words "my kid will NOT do that" know that you're child will in fact do just that.

One of my good friends found out last week she and her husband are having a boy in June. She made a comment during a shopping for baby day last month that she hates monkeys and bears on boy's clothes. I laughed and told her she should NEVER say never when it comes to anything with her child. Sure enough, she wound up with four onesies and pj's covered with monkeys and bears because that's all she found while shopping. I kindly reminded her that this is her first lesson in not to speak in absolutes when it comes to kids.

Before I had kids, I was the worst offender of this NEVER judgment. I'd see a kid screaming in the middle of the grocery store, throwing the biggest tantrum ever and I'd whisper to my husband (then boyfriend) "our kids will NEVER act like that." Flash forward seven years. I affectionately call our family of five outings "a circus train wreck." Why? Because one kid will always be crying, screaming, fussing, complaining, etc., one kid will actually be listening...until he/she decides not to, and another will be running in the opposite direction we're headed, yet we keep moving on. Circus train wreck all around (we get a lot of  "oh my goodness, bless you" when we're out). I want to go back in time and give every parent I so unfairly judged a hug, fall at their feet, and exclaim "I TOTALLY get it now."

I totally get that strict schedules are for....well, not for us and don't suite every child's needs. I totally get how loud a single child can be....I'm pretty sure mine can compete with a herd of elephants and win. I totally get that for every time I've said my kids will not act that way, eat that, see that, have that, or do that they have done just that. I'm one hundred percent positive it's payback for my NEVER way of thinking.

We were in a restaurant several weeks ago. Our youngest at 19 1/2 months, is at the age where there is no sitting still. You can imagine her displeasure to sit through an entire meal at a restaurant. Instead of having her scream and interrupt those around us, I gave her sips of my pop (in my defense, this was the first time she had ever had it and she's my third kid and I completely have the "whatever, she's alive" mentality). I noticed a woman and man balking at the fact that I was giving my daughter sips of pop. I wanted to first tell them to mind their business and that this is sooo not a usual thing, I'm actually a huge proponent of kids eating healthy. Instead I rolled my eyes at them and chuckled to myself 'they'll get it someday.' By the looks they shot at us and whispers, I know they were discussing how their someday child(ren) will NEVER take a drink of pop, never get fussy (they'll teach them how to actually behave perfectly....something no other parent has mastered, just an fyi for you perfectionists). I can now guarantee that someday, they're child will be running around the restaurant screaming and drinking pop while he/she does it. That's just how this NEVER judgment thing works.

So, new mommy friends, for every time you've ever made statements along the lines of my child will not do that, behave that way, eat crap, run crazy.....just know that it's going to get thrown back in your face. Because your child WILL do those things. If you want to keep it a dirty little secret and pretend that your child is completely perfect, be my guest. I, and every other parent out there, will know the truth. I'm just here to offer advice and tell it like it is. And this is how it is.
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Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Messiest of Messes

Shaving cream. We've used it to paint with, make "snow" with it, and played with it in sensory bins. This time, I used food coloring to brighten things up a bit and placed it right on the kid's tables with sea creatures and let the kids go crazy smooshing, burying the creatures, swirling, and even a bit of throwing the shaving cream. Most of the daycare kids wanted no part of the sticky messiness, but my three minis were all about it. It was one of the messiest activities the kids have done, but they definitely approved!

The after math:

The next time we do a shaving cream sensory, I'm envisioning doing it in summer, in the backyard, the little pool, and being able to hose the kids down for easy clean up!

Make Your Own Valentine's Decorations

I despise spending money on things that don't get a lot of use, like holiday decorations for example. You may remember my challenge to myself to buy Christmas decorations under a certain amount on money, but I didn't want to go all out for Valentine's Day decor. On Max's recent sick day, I was trying to come up with activities for him to do during nap time. That's when we sat down and made our own Valentine's decorations. 

Nothing over the top and all with art supplies we already had on hand. The result was some very cute decorations made with construction paper, markers, yarn, stamps, and paints. The fact that we didn't have to spend any money to decorate makes it that much better!

I'm sure we'll be adding to our decorations over the next week as we have numerous Valentine activities to do.

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Boys Days

Tuesday and Wednesday were dubbed boys days in our house, with a house of four boys (plus one tag along little girl named Elizabeth who has no issues trying to keep up with the boys thanks to her brother's). The differences between boys and girls are vast and sometimes shocking. So, what are days like with just little boys to contend with?

 Lots of yelling and "arrghh" saying, random wrestles on the floor, running, jumping, super hero playing, plane flying, and just all around rough.

Max was home on Tuesday to make for a very rowdy (and fun) boys day. Wednesday was an all boys day too, where they attempted some new maneuvers on the slide in the living room. I am very pleased to report there were no injuries, just a few bumps and bruises on arms and legs.

How do you keep little boys entertained you ask? Like this:

Running, running, running, more running, jumping, diving, and then more running. They ran and jumped into the ball pit, they played chase, hide n' seek, jumped off of the couch, did random karate kicks in the air, piled on top of each other in the ball pit, and made the musical instruments into weapons. Typical boy stuff.
One shirtless little boy, using a play apron as a cape, helping me bake heart pancakes.
Trying out the new maneuvers on the slide. Elizabeth complicated their playing by laying at the bottom on the slide and told the four boys "no hit me!" Now that is typical girl behavior.
Harrison rolled down the slide after being told he could no longer run down the slide.
The boys set up a card game (Go Fish). Elizabeth had to play too.
There was lots of playing with the super hero figurines....and lots of playing super heroes too!
Frogs on a stick anyone??? The boys like coloring these, taping them to the stick was cool, but they really like chasing each other with the frogs the best. Eventually the frogs started "attacking" each other, which was when it was time to put them away.
Playing with the boys is great, but sometimes you just need to take a time out for a biggest brother/little sister snuggles......and then go into wrestling each other.

Despite the constant running, yelling, and playing super heroes, I still think little boys are much easier than little girls......they just require a lot more caffeine to keep me going!

Monday, January 27, 2014

It's Just Too Quiet

Every parent looks forward to when their children go to bed and there's "peace and quiet" restored to the house. This morning, I was abruptly woken at 5 a.m. by the sound of.....silence. Complete and deafening silence. No sound machines playing, no electrical whirs, no video monitors showing sleeping kids. Just complete darkness and silence. As it turns out, our entire neighborhood lost power, but in those first few seconds of total silence, there was panic. Panic that something was wrong or one of the kids had done something (this would not be a first time that one of my kids has pulled something in the middle of the night).

As parents, we love the sound of non-screaming kids, but when it gets too quiet you know there's more than likely the need to worry. I would rather hear a crash followed by screaming than a crash followed by silence. The later, happened last week. I heard a minor crash, more of a large thump and then total silence. I gave it a couple of minutes before I went to the door (mostly so I could take a few deep breaths before I entered the room). When I got to the door, the only thing I heard was Harrison whisper "how long do you think you can hold the shelf Max?" At that point I barreled through the door only to see my oldest standing on his dresser, holding his shelf that was high on the wall while Harrison (the very typical middle child) stood below him catching the items that were sliding off of the shelf. Max turned his head toward me and said "mom I falled my shelf." After I took the shelf from him and set it safely out of the way, I was described a story of an impressive ricochet effect from their basketball hoop to their shelf and Max happened to be standing in just the right place to catch the shelf. These are the kind of things that happen when there's silence.

The silence with kids is usually accompanied by something being broken, a huge, bigger than life mess, playing with one (or more) of your most valuable items, coloring or painting NOT on paper, hiding things you're sure to need the minute you can't find it. Every parent has their story, or stories, like this.

Several weeks ago, my three wonderful minis kept me up all night. My husband was kind enough to let me sleep (once I finally got to bed at 8 am), while he took care of breakfast and watching them. Two hours later I woke up to a silent house. Instant panic. I ran out of the room exclaiming "what happened???" Then I saw the note posted to the front door explaining that the four of them had gone to brunch and run an errand so I could sleep in the quiet house. Funny thing: the house was too quiet for me to even sleep! I'd start to drift back to sleep and then my eyes would shoot open.

There are many days I wish for ear plugs to drown out the constant screaming and continual noises that come with having kids, but apparently I have gotten use to the chaos. The chaos suddenly brings about it's own sense of peace and knowing where the kids are and what they're doing. So momma's, before you go crazy with your cooped up, crazy children, just keep in mind that noise is better than silence.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Another Winter Weekend

These cold temps we've been experiencing this month have really been getting to the kids. We've been spending quite a bit of time at home lately (one would be amazed at how long it can take to get 3 kids in and out of the car....something one does not want to do when it's well below zero outside), but luckily we've been keeping plenty busy with activities around the house. We did manage to get out of the house Saturday evening and visit the Des Moines Botanical Garden Sunday morning before the next deep freeze set in.
This is what 6 a.m. Saturday morning looked like. The boys woke up coughing (we can not catch a break from this crud going around) and woke up the rest of the house. Thankfully everyone else went back to sleep, while Max chose to play the Kindle buried under blankets. Later in the weekend, Max was banned from the Kindle when bought a few apps...oops!
The kids have immensely enjoyed the Little Tikes slide even though Max is too big for it. They tried going down the slide on pillows, with blankets over their heads, running down the slide, and jumping from the top......
Max attempted it with roller skates, but mom quickly squashed that idea.
The minis and I baked and decorated round 1 of Valentine's cupcakes. This was Elizabeth's first time helping us bake and she LOVED it. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures because I didn't want to leave her within reach of the batter!

Reading books at Barnes and Noble. We let the kids pick out a few new Valentine's books to read this week.
Cold temps won't stop these kids from a milkshake date at the mall! Harrison kept warm in his new sweatshirt that just sums him up perfectly.
Sunday morning at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens. This was our first time here and the kids really liked looking at all of the flowers and walking along the paths, although they were disappointed there wasn't "a lot of room for hiking. There needs to be an inside hiking place mom!"

"There's a waterfall!" said Max. "Mom! Mom! Mom! It's waterfalls!" said Harrison. "Oooohhhh! Look! Water!" said Elizabeth.

Elizabeth loved smelling the flowers. There were also a few little educational centers set up that the kids really enjoyed.

Max grabbed the camera and took tons of pictures of flowers. He was especially proud of this one because he took it just for me since my favorite color is pink. I think this boy may benefit from photography classes in the near future.
We stopped at the kids area where Max and Elizabeth colored flower pictures. Elizabeth couldn't quite figure out how to use scissors, but she insists on trying because her brother's use them.
The boys instantly spotted this bird house in the garden showroom. Max took a picture so the boys can figure out how it was made and make their own this spring.
Elizabeth really like the little girl statue. She kept patting her head and giving her kisses telling the girl statue "it okay."
After we got home from the Botanical Garden, the boys felt it was time to open up the new inflatable pool. Harrison grabbed a spear from one of his Imaginext figurine and tried (and succeeded) to open the box himself.
Max helped daddy blow up the pool, which was a bit larger than what I was imagining.
We're using our new pool for a ball pit! Hopefully this will be the week's playtime entertainment for the kiddos.
Spent a good part of my afternoon tracing and cutting out hearts for daycare. This week we'll be making Valentine decorations and they'll all be making Valentine's for each other. Hopefully this will keep them busy!
There's a slide in our daughter's bedroom. Some people might find this odd, but it's the norm around here!
Max's newest flip flops. Maybe if I start buying spring/summer clothes and accessory that will make spring come faster????
This is the time of year where we all go crazy, emotions run high from lack of fresh air (at least that's my best guess), but our Winter To Do List has helped with that a bit. We're slowly but surely crossing things off of our list. February will be a super busy month (luckily this will help with our winter blues) and we're counting down until our weekend getaway to Honey Creek Resort!

We haven't made too many plans for next weekend, but we'll hopefully cross a couple more adventures off of our list. This week is sure to be busy, but I'm thinking this guy will help the week along!