Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Free Ice Cream!

I love free stuff, so I thought I would share this info with you.
Today is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's!!! I got vanilla heath bar crunch, E had mint chocolate chunk, Ed -coffee, N- chocolate, and K- vanilla (she kind of took one bite, made a funny face, and refused to eat any more).
Find a location near you!
What's your flavor?

And the 30th is 31 cent scoop day at Baskin Robbins! (Thanks, Allie!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

A is for...what?

N has never been interested in learning the usual preschool things- colors, numbers, letters. For the longest time everything was "Lellow". We were thrilled when he started recognizing other colors at the age of 2 1/2- we thought he was colorblind until then. He can count up to ten and then he does the usual mish-mash of "teen" numbers (11, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19). And he knows how to count down from 10 as well. And he can sing the alphabet, although missing a couple of letters. Ok, fine, not exactly advanced, but somewhere in the continuum of what 4 year olds know. The real problem starts with associating symbols for letters and numbers. He knows "0" and "O". He knows N is for his name. And he can write his name. That is it. I had hoped that a year in preschool would help him pick up recognizing the upper case letters and numbers from 1-10, but apparently not. Dora and Blue's Clues haven't helped either. So in an effort to help my son start kindergarten not completely illiterate, I am giving his schooling a real priority for the next year. Because, believe me, it will take a year.

I had been recruiting E to help me out, and she patiently went through A B, and C on the magna doodle while in the car for a good half an hour. He did not get it. The boy still did not know which one was which when she wrote them randomly. She had him say it, trace it, write it, nothing.

So this brought me to this past Monday morning. I was determined to get him to recognize a letter A. So between the time that E left for school and I had to drive him to preschool (half an hour), I worked on the magna doodle with him myself. It was not pretty. I am ashamed to say I ended up getting pretty frusterated and angry. He ended up going to school in tears, and still not knowing what an A was. I promised him when I dropped him off that I would make it fun in the afternoon.

So after lunch I put K down for her nap and printed out a book that I found online. We colored it together, read it through and then practiced writing some upper and lower case A's. He then asked what we were going to do to learn the letter A (in a fun way). I said, "Well, I was thinking maybe we could paint it, or make it in playdough." He thought a second and said,"How about make it with blocks?" I thought that was a great idea and so we took out the blocks and made letter A's with them. Then that afternoon when he was outside playing he ran over to me excitedly,"Mama! Come see what I made!" I followed him to the patio where he pointed out a perfect capital and lowercase A that he had made using his water gun. I was so thrilled! I am planning to start an alphabet book with him this afternoon and have him cut things out of a magazine that start with A, and glue them to a page. I think it finally stuck. He has been pointing A's out to me all week, and next Monday we will move to B.

I have to keep reminding myself that N is N. He will learn this, and I have to be patient with him. It is such a temptation to look at 4 year old Johnny who is writing books and, Jenny who taught herself how to read at 3, and feel like my son doesn't measure up. It is so easy to compare him to other kids his age and wish that he was hitting all the milestones at the same pace. But that is not the kind of mom I want to be. If it takes him a little longer I want to help him learn through encouragement instead of shame. I want to be on his side instead of fighting him. I want to know when to push him to reach, and when to be content in the level he has achieved. But most of all I want him to know I love him, no matter when he learns his ABC's, or how to read, or how to do algebra.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

How I spent the last 1 1/2 hours:

The tools...

The project...

1,000 dandelions, literally. I counted.


And there are still thousands and thousands of these left.

I must admit, they are pretty in their own way,
but they can really take over if you aren't vigilant. Each spring I am out there for hours on my knees, killing my back and putting blisters on my hands (if you look closely, you can see my palm is already starting to bubble up, wah!).
And then the next day it looks like I have done NOTHING! As discouraging as that is, I still do it because I know that if I don't they will take over and my lawn will be nothing but a sea of dandelions.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Up Sleeve" Weather

Most of us are thrilled to shed the sweaters, jeans and socks in favor of t-shirts, shorts and sandals. Not N. He is most comfortable the more he is covered up-- long pants, long sleeves, socks and shoes a must. Even better are boots, and sweatshirts with hoods that he can cover his head with. So each spring we have to go through the painful process of convincing him that it really is too warm to wear his long pants and long sleeved shirts, and that sandals really should be worn without socks. It is torture for him and us. A recent conversation went like this.

"OK N, let's get dressed!" I say with forced cheerfulness.

"But Mama! Why am I wearing this shirt? I want down sleeves, not up sleeves!"

"Well N, it is a warm day, and when it gets warmer, you need to wear short sleeves" I explain as I pull the shirt over his head.

"But Mama!" He complains as he tries to tug the sleeves down over his elbows.

While he is distracted I pull on his shorts. He immediately stops the action with his sleeves and says, "What happened to my pants? Look!! They don't fit!"

He tries to tug his pants down to his ankles all the while moaning and groaning, "Uuugh!! Uughh! UUUUGGGHHH!" He is only stopped when he realizes I am putting on his crocs without socks. "Noo!! I want socks! My toes want socks! I am just a little boy!"

"N, this is what we wear in the summer. See? Mommy has short sleeves on! I have no socks! Look at E and K! They are the same. You will get all hot and sweaty in those other clothes!" I say through gritted teeth as I wrestle the shoes over his balled up feet.

Reasoning does not work, he just gets more agitated. So I end up giving him a hooded sweatshirt as a compromise. He immediately zips it all the way up, and pulls it over his head.

Fast forward half an hour, after playing outside.

"Mama! I am all sweaty!! I want to come inside!"

I finally convince him to give up the sweatshirt, but he does so reluctantly. As he runs off I breathe a sigh of relief. Round 1 is over. I ultimately won, but the summer months stretch
before me. I am not looking forward to the swimsuit battle. Because "up sleeves" are one thing, getting my boy to go without a shirt is a whole other ball game.

N in one of his favorite outfits (crocs complete with socks).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cutest Baby?

So, here is the thing. When I was growing up I would say things like, "I hope I have a cute baby some day." And "If I have an ugly baby I will still love him/her, but I will know deep down that they are ugly". I know. The things that went through my mind.

Since I have had children, I have come to this realization: No matter what your baby looks like, they are the "Cutest Baby in the Whole Wide World. Ever." Is it because love is blind? You spend so much time with your babies, that they just are cute to you? I know this same phenomena happens when you fall in love with someone, or get a crush. It may be one of those relationships that start out as a friendship, but as you get to know the person, spend more time with them, their physical appearance seems to be enhanced and you find yourself attracted to them, even if everyone around you
does not see what you see.

Going back to babies, I have stretched the truth from time to time with a"Aww, she/he is so cute!" (because it is what is expected), and the mother smiles, looks adoringly at their little one, and sighs,"I know", or more modestly,"Thank you." I just think it is impossible for a mother to think her baby is NOT cute, no matter what they look like.

Although I did had a brief period of about 3 hours when I thought K was NOT cute, and even disagreed with the delivery nurse when she said,"Oh what a cute baby!" and I said,"Thank you for saying that, but I know she isn't". Don't worry, after she stopped being so blue and swollen, I did think she was cute, and she just got better from there.

I know that I have felt that each of my kids were TCBITW, but looking back at pictures, with some emotional distance from their babyhood, as well as clarity that comes from a little time, I can see they weren't TCBITW. Take for example, the two pictures below of E and N. When I first took these pictures I couldn't get over how cute they were, and looking at them now, I still think they are pretty cute, but I can also see that not everyone would feel the same.

when they are yours, they are TCBITW.

And so, without further ado, I introduce you to the current CBITW:

Or at least, the cutest baby in our family. (And as E likes to add, "Born in April", since she doesn't want to exclude herself)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Party Time!

K's actual birthday passed pretty uneventfully. She doesn't really need anything, and so I had only ordered her one little baby doll for her gift. Unfortunately, it is backordered until the end of the month, so we couldn't give it to her. I made a cake and we sang happy birthday to her, but she didn't get any (I was saving her first piece for her party on Sunday). We ended up having our mini-church night on Friday so everyone sang to her before she went to bed.

Then yesterday we had K's First Birthday party. We usually do a birthday brunch on Saturday mornings for the kids, but their Aunt Linda and Uncle Bob always work on Saturdays, so have been unable to attend when we do that. So we decided to keep it simple with appetizers and cake on a Sunday afternoon. I went to Costco the day before and got these dangerously delicious Spinach and Artichoke dips to go with pita chips (dangerous because I now have two half containers leftover, and I can't bear to get rid of it, so I know I will end up eating it for lunch this next week), mini eggrolls and popcorn chicken (for the kids, but I think everyone enjoyed them). My mom and Ed's mom also brought a couple of things and we had plenty of food.

I did a pink flower theme, so the napkins were wrapped in a green and pink ribbon with bits of pink silk flowers tucked inside. The tablecloth was pink, as were the paper goods. We made a flower cake by using two round pans to make a double layer cake and then 12 cupcakes around the edge for the flower petals. I made some buttercream icing and dyed it pink and yellow and then Ed iced the cake(as he always does). After everyone ate their fill we cleaned up the appetizers and got out the cake stuff. I had been practicing with K, trying to teach her how to blow out a candle, but she kept thinking I was telling her to blow her nose, so she would instead blow into a tissue and then give me a big smile. Anyway, all that is to say, that after the singing she stared at everyone staring at her, and then tried to grab the lit candle, so I ended up blowing it out. She got one of the pink frosted cupcakes and absolutely devoured it. She ate it like a pro, and then held up her plate for more when she was done. After cleaning her up and getting her changed into a fresh dress, we opened gifts. She wasn't too into that, so her siblings and cousins "helped" while she played with the ribbon and wrapping paper. Shortly after that everyone went home, and we declared the afternoon a success-- the food was almost all eaten, the kids had fun playing together, and the birthday girl didn't lose it.
This will be her last solo family birthday party. I am planning on combining all the kids' family parties into one big one each year in the summer. N and E are already looking forward to their's this June when we plan to do a Carnival theme. We'll see how that goes!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!!

** A note about the slide show-- to avoid having the music video playing over the pictures, click on "view all images" and watch it in that form**

In honor of her birth, I reposted her birth story here, since it is still back at xanga. I really can't believe this is all a year ago! I look at these pictures of my little girl, and get nostalgic for that tiny infant we had, but am still thankful it is a year later.

I woke up with my usual insomnia the morning of the 3rd at 1 am. After playing on the computer for a couple of hours I went back to bed. At this point some contractions started. They were mild enough that I could just breathe through them, but strong enough to wake me up each time I drifted off to sleep. When morning came, Ed decided to work from home, in case the contractions got stronger and more regular. They pretty much stopped at this point, and I was able to do laundry and some cleaning. After lunch I lay down for a nap, but the contractions started up again and were about 15 minutes apart. When I got up, they stopped being so regular, so I decided to make an apple pie that I had been meaning to make all week. After I got it in the oven, the contractions started up again, and I decided to go for a walk with the kids (around 4:00). We got as far as my friend Anna's house where I dropped off E and N and kept on walking around the block. As each contraction came, I was able to walk out the pain and breathe. After 2 laps I picked up Ed and he walked the last lap with me. It was 5:00 by this time, and we stopped to pick up the kids and then called Jim and asked if we could bring E and N over for the night, as it was pretty clear labor had started, and the baby was coming!!
When we got home, I made the kids a quick dinner of macaroni and cheese, and as they ate, the contractions were becoming more intense and close together, about 10-15 minutes apart. Ed had found my yoga ball, and I would bounce on it through the contractions, but I couldn't hide the pain and discomfort from the children. Ellie understood that it was a "good" pain, and was excited that her baby sister was coming. Noah was very concerned and asked, "Mommy, need a tissue?" and brought me one. (Even a year later, E still teases me when she sees the ball, getting on it and bouncing up and down, mimicking my cries and moans. Nice, E, nice.) Ed then took them to Jim and Steph's, and I settled down on my ball in front of the computer, to work through the contractions and distract myself from the pain with Solitaire.
My mom arrived around 7:00, and Ed came back shortly after with my requested dinner- a cheesesteak and milkshake. We sat around the kitchen for a couple of hours, and my contractions were 5-10 minutes apart, and increasing in pain. We decided at this point that we would all try to get some rest, and we would call my mom when we went to the hospital.
Ed and I went up to bed, but I didn't do much sleeping. The contractions slowed down, but each time they came I would need Ed to rub my back, or I would jump out of bed and try to walk through the pain. He did fall asleep, and I tried to work through the contractions by myself. Finally at 1:30a.m. the pain was too intense to be lying down, and I wasn't getting any sleep anyway, so I thought I would take Jeni's advice and get into the bathtub. Ed offered to come down to the bathroom with me, but I told him to get his rest, as he would need it later. I stayed in the bathtub for an hour and a half, and it really did help. I was able to bear the pain on my own as the contractions increased to a consistent 5 minutes apart. As the contraction started, I would start pouring water over my belly and say the alphabet, seeing how far I would get before the contraction ended.(I think my water broke in the bathtub, because when I was checked at the hospital they said it was broken, and I didn't ever feel anything) By 3:00 I was ready to call the doctor, so I got out, and made the call. They told me to come in, so Ed and I got ready and headed out. The streets were dark and empty, which was a blessing since we got to the hospital in less than 15 minutes. During rush hour it would have taken half an hour.
We checked into triage at 4 a.m. and I was 5 cm dilated, which was a pleasant surprise. I had expected 2-3. My contractions had slowed down again, but I was ready for an epidural. We got into the labor and delivery room around 5, and I got my epidural around 6. After that, things reallly slowed down. Ed's mom and my mom arrived around 7, and there was a lot of sitting around. I didn't feel the contractions at this point, and they weren't as regular. After the doctor examined me around 7:30 he ordered pitocin, since I was still at 5cm. The problem was, with each contraction I had the baby's heart rate dropped from 140 to 60. The nurse had me switching sides with each contraction, and finally put me on oxygen as well. When we asked what could be causing the heart rate drop, she said that the cord was probably being compressed. I asked if that meant it was around the neck, and she said it was possible. I knew in my heart that was the problem. Ever since my first pregnancy that has been my biggest fear for delivery. That the cord would be around the baby's neck, and she wouldn't make it. This fear was made even more real, as friends from high school just had a baby a few weeks ago that had the cord wrapped twice, and had to be revived and could suffer brain damage as a result. The nurse then put a scalp monitor on the baby, and felt that it would be ok to start the pitocin. Once I was on that, things really sped up, and contractions came every 3-5 minutes. But then the nurse would keep lowering the pitocin, or turn it off because the heart rate kept dropping. So the labor really stretched out. I believe if there hadn't been the heart rate issue, and I could have gone on the pitocin right away, K would have been born much earlier, maybe by 9:30. Finally around 11, I was still only at 6 cm, and so the doctor ordered the pitocin to be increased so that labor would progress. The moms left to get lunch at this point, and Ed helped me through each contraction, as I was feeling pain and pressure with each one. At 11:30 I was examined, and was at 8 cm. The moms had returned at this point and were amazed at the progress that had occurred while they were gone. At 11:45 I was climbing the sides of my bed with pain, and begging to push. The doctor came in and said that although I was fully dilated, there was something strange on the side of the cervix, and it was probably a lip that hadn't completely thinned. His actual words were, "That's weird, I've never seen that before!" I responded, "Great. Just what I wanted to hear." 15 minutes later, at noon, it was clear that this "thing" wasn't going anywhere, and I needed to push (it ended up being scar tissue from a previous birth, or that is the OB's best guess). So the room quickly filled with people, the light dropped down, and the end of the bed taken away. I pushed, and after the head came out, Ed said (later) that he was scared that the baby was gone. The cord was wrapped around her neck and she was blue and not crying. Thankfully, I didn't know this at the time. All I remember is the drill seargant nurse ordering me to hold my legs and push as hard as I could. At this point the shoulders got stuck and there was some manipulation to get them out. After what seemed like an eternity, but was only 8 minutes, K was born. There was still no cry, and I could tell by Ed's face that something was wrong, but when I asked him, he said it was fine. As they got her over to the warmer, they got her breathing and we heard her first cries. I heard the nurses say that she was getting pink, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Her APGAR score went from a 5 to a 9. After they got her cleaned up a little, they brought her over to me, and we had the naming. We handed my mother in law the envelope, and she read K's name. At 1:30 we were taken to the hospital room, and the process of recovery began.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Are you a Lurker?

So here is a topic I have wanted to discuss for quite some time now: Lurking! Whenever I hear that term I get an ominous picture in my head of someone hiding in the shadows, just watching. According to wikipedia's definition, " a lurker is a person who reads discussions on a message board, newsgroup, chatroom, file sharing or other interactive system, but rarely participates."

I think that everyone, to some extent, is a lurker. Take me, for example. I have blogs I regularly read and so I comment on them. It helps that most of the blogs I read are those of my friends and family, so it is less intimidating to respond to what they write. But then there are other blogs of strangers that I stumble upon and read a little, but don't comment, even if I feel I have something to say about the topic. It feels safe to just click from one blog to the next, reading snippets of other's lives without interacting. If I find a blog that I really like, I still hesitate before commenting, instead, reading through posts, and "getting to know" the person and the blog before I comment. If I like what I read enough, I will revisit the blog several times and finally work up my courage to delurk
(" The verb to "de-lurk" means to start contributing actively to a community having been a lurker previously").

On this blog I have several faithful commenters who respond to what I write on a pretty regular basis. But I have a feeling that there are several people out there
who know me in real life, yet still have not commented. My husband is one of these lurkers, and try and plead as I might, he will not comment! But at least I get his comments in person. And I wonder if there are other regular visitors out there that I don't know in real life.

I acknowledge that you have a "right" to lurk, and when I put myself out there, you don't have an obligation to respond. But I must admit that I like the feedback. And frankly, if I didn't want comments I would keep my blog private.

So today I invite you to take the plunge and delurk! I will give you a hand with this question- What kind of lurker are you? If you lurk, what makes you finally decide to delurk?

And as an added bonus for delurking, I will come visit your blog and comment as well! It's a win-win!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Finally Spring!!

Yesterday started off a little rainy and unpromising. After E got home the sun came out, and the temperature was around 70. I decided to take the kids for a walk around the block. After our walk, I thought that it really was too nice to go inside, even though it was 5:30 and I should be making dinner. Instead I packed up the kids and we headed to a nearby playground that I have wanted to try out. It turned out to be a perfect decision. We were practically the only ones there, so the kids could climb up and down the slides unhindered, while I pushed K in the swings. This was the first time she has had a chance to swing since last fall, and she LOVED it! She laughed and contentedly watched the action from her little bucket seat.
. Since E and N were playing so nicely, I decided to take advantage of the walking track. I buckled K into her stroller, and off we went. I could still see what was going on at the playground, and stopped in to check up on the kids after each lap. I was able to enjoy the breeze, blue sky, blooming flowers and trees, amuse the baby, AND get exercise-- it was awesome! A little after 6 I called Ed, who was almost home from work, so I reluctantly told the kids we needed to go home ourselves and get some dinner. The night was still so nice after dinner that we fired up my new firepit. The kids got to roast marshmallows, and then we all watched the stars come out as the fire died down. We even saw an owl swoop through our backyard, chasing down a meal. It was a perfect ending to a perfect evening.