Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Hubs Birthday Weekend

Typically on a birthday weekend, the birthday guy or gal goes out. With it being Hubs birthday weekend it was only fitting that I went out. I'm totally joking but I did go out with some friends. As most moms have learned, going out hurts. Like, 24 hours of hurting afterwards. Luckily I've learned and kept things light on Saturday. I rested and started a new book. In the evening we took the kids to run errands at the mall. The boys were in shopping heaven in Old Navy.

Excellent book! I love the way it was written from all point of views.

Yes the boys love clothes shopping. They pick put out some interesting (and awesome) outfits!


Sunday is when all of the family fun happened. We started the day with a big brunch at home and then went to Ledges State Park all afternoon. Since we've hiked all of the trails in the Park numerous times, we opted to hike the creek this time instead. With our Keens to protect our feet, we hiked a few miles in the cool (and kinda gross) muddy water to where the creek meets with the Des Moines River. 

Races are more fun to run in the water!

"Look mom it's a little Sliding Rock!" exclaimed the minis (referring too our slide down the waterfall in North Carolina. Read about that here).

The oldest cannot get enough of rock climbing!

We ended our fun family day with a meal of fried chicken, pasta salad, and fruit. It was a great day and great way to end our weekend! Next weekend we plan on taking a road trip to somewhere, but we're still debating where! Nothing like waiting until the last minute....

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where Is Your Table?

This has been my dining room table for the last three months:

It's actually in the eat-in portion of our kitchen because our formal dining area is used as a playroom at the moment (as it's been for the past five years). Yes, that's a child size table and chairs instead of a full size table and chairs. 'Omg,' you're saying to yourself as you stare at your computer screen. It's cool, I get it. I can also see the look on your face. You're either incredibly put off by something that doesn't effect you, you think I'm insane, or you feel bad that we don't have a bigger house. So let me tell you a story before something comes out of your mouth.

At the beginning of summer I decided I didn't want my full sized dining room table. I had school age kids coming for daycare for the summer and I've been through the fighting over who got to sit where, dropping cups from the waist high table creating a huge splattered mess, or kids falling out of their chairs. I just didn't want to deal with it.  We made a trip to IKEA and purchased a few side tables (they're taller, larger, and quite a bit cheaper than the actual kids tables) and several kids stools. They were then set up where my regular sized tables and chairs once sat.

All summer long the only thing I had to worry about was fighting over what color of stools the kids wanted to sit in. Even that was easily solved by rotating colors. Now let me tell you about family dinners. Typically at family dinners we had a lot of the same issues that I didn't want to deal with at daycare: falling out of chairs, jumping out of the chairs as soon as I gave them permission to leave their seats, playing in their seats. Family dinners had become nothing I looked forward too. We're a family that eats together 6 or 7 nights a week. I at least wanted meal times to be pleasurable.

Our family dinners at the new tables included all of us sitting on kid size stools or all of us sitting on the floor around the tables (the minis refer to it as our Japanese style of eating). After the first few nights of our new eating style, our family dinners became enjoyable again! The kids actually sat still and ate the meal with us. They shared about their days, they could actually reach the center of the table when asked them to pass something. There were no more huge spills and no one fell out of their seats (unless you count that one time I completely missed the little stool I was attempting to sit down on). I actually LIKE eating meals with my kids now. I actually look forward to it at the end of the day. 

I'm not sure if it was the change of pace or coming down to their level, but there's absolutely no fighting about dinner, at dinner, or over how much they have to eat for dinner (or any meal for that matter). Do I expect it to last? Probably not but the peaceful dinners have been nice. Oh so often we're not willing to change things up because of what society says. I realize it's not every day that you walk into a house that doesn't have a full size dining room table and chairs or find someone that has willingly given their's up. However, sometimes change, a different change, is just the right change. Parenthood is largely about survival and these kids size tables and chairs have given me sanity. At least at meal times.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Week In Review: August 15 - August 26

Two very busy weeks in one. The first part was the end of Summer Vacation 2016 shenanigans and the second part was the beginning of the school year. The end of summer was just as busy and fun as expected. The start of the school year actually went much smoother than I was anticipating. My boys seemed to flow right back into their school routine and there were no heartbreaking moments when the littles at daycare realized the big kids weren't around.

We spent the last two weeks doing some of their favorites...which mostly means making the house incredibly messy!

Here's a quick look at our last two weeks:

We broke out the homemade play dough one day and flour "sand" the next. My kitchen was a mess!

We tried out a cool Skittles experiment. Put Skittles in a circle and pour warm water on them. Then watch the rainbow appear in the water. All of the kids thought this was "so cool" and even cooler that I let them eat a few Skittles too. Much like every day, we were pressed for time so we had to quickly move on to the next activity. I set the plate aside and forgot about.

A couple of hours later the kids checked the plate and found this:

And just like that no one wanted to eat Skittles anymore!

One of the activities the kids wanted to do again was Lemonade Stand Day. All morning they played Lemonade Stand/Shop in the backyard. In the afternoon, we set up stand in the front yard and sold lemonade. We did this at the beginning of summer too. That time I let the kids use the money to buy new toys (of their choice) for daycare. This time around I suggested they donate any money earned.

After throwing a few ideas around, they decided to donate the money to the National CMV Foundation. One of my daycare babies and their little friend Pippa has congenital CMV. I loved hearing the kids (attempt) to explain to everyone who bought lemonade what CMV was and why the money was going to the Foundation. 

All in all, the kids made $111.60 at the lemonade stand. The next day we donated $150 to the Foundation (via their website) thanks to some extra donations thrown in from daycare families.

The kids painted canvases to take home to their parents. The kids have been very anti arts and crafts all summer. They've only wanted to draw and color their own pictures. The preschoolers practiced coloring in the lines and making pictures with stickers and the older kids perfected their drawings of princesses and Ninja Turtles. This was the only planned art I could get the kids to do since June!

We attempted one last science kit for the summer: make your own candy. The kids decided on marshmallows. They didn't quite turn out (as one child said, the marshmallows tasted like "a combination of marshmallows and kiwi very well mixed together), but no one seemed to mind.

So, so, so much play time in the backyard....and when they weren't in the backyard, they were inside building.

We did the smash cake the kids requested. Read more about our last few days of summer and the FUN we had here.

We made Back to School Night even more fun with dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant (even better when we ran into and ate with friends/a daycare family) and Snookies (our favorite local ice cream shop).

The last day of summer vacation was special: the bigs got to do whatever they wanted. Literally whatever they wanted. I figured I didn't have to deal with "but you let us do ____ before!" so why not?? They chose to bring every single figurine outdoors, making ice cream sundaes, trying Gobstoppers for the first time, and spending all day attached at the hips. 

My "favorite" part of the day came in the early afternoon. All summer long we went without an injury (excluding the occasional scraped knee). That is until I pulled out the Kiwano melon. No one had tried it before and I knew it was sharp (the oldest mini had poked himself on it when we bought it at the store). So I warned all of the kids not to touch it. It WAS in fact sharp. I cut into and the kids asked to smell it. Sure, completely harmless, I thought. First thing that happened, a child grabbed onto the fruit and cut their hand. We were down to final hours of summer vacation 2016 and THAT'S when the first injury happens. Face palm.

After all of the goodbyes were said, I collapsed on my couch. Summer was over. I took off the first day of school to give myself a break. Or that was the plan. I actually had a crazy busy day that didn't feel like much of a day off at all. But I did get things accomplished, so there's that.

I love first day of school pictures!

After dropping the boys off at school, we caught a quick breakfast at one of our faves La Mie. I had a completely relaxing breakfast with Hubs and the littles mini.

Of course the only time the cat wants to cuddle is when I sit down to fill out paperwork for preschool while I'm wearing a black dress. I was not impressed.

One of my biggest treats for the day was going to Target in the middle of day. Of course I had the four year old with me who cried when she didn't get the shoes she wanted and picked out enough new dresses to clothe her entire class.

You should always cry when Target is out of "my size of sparkling shoes!" She took this further and placed the blame on me, screaming "you never buy me new shoes! My feet hurt in my old shoes! I can't even wear them anymore! I'll have to go barefoot to school!" I couldn't decide if I was more embarrassed or ready to throttle her. Either way we promptly left Target and had a good talk in the car. Not exactly what I was planning on my afternoon trip to Target!

But once we were all calmed and apologies were made, we tried it again....and daycare got a new toy out of the deal.

I've got to admit, I was nervous for the first day back with the big kids gone. It was quiet and only a couple of the kids questioned where the big kids went, but everyone seemed to transition fairly well. Although, having Play Doh and Kinetic Foam around Thursday and Friday may have helped things....plus as soon as the boys made an appearance after school, daycare seemed completely crazy again.

I don't have much planned for the next couple of weeks. Once preschool starts for a few of the kids, there will be even less kids around. I know the kids will need time to adjust and settle into the new normal of our days. Instead I did a massive toy rotation and brought out toys that haven't been played with in months. Then we'll be starting in on our fall activities--some of my favorite activities ever!