Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So long, 2008

Good-bye, 2008! Thank you for bringing us a pet cat and many fun new memories of our kids. And now it's time for you to move on and bring us what we hope will be a much better year!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

And now for Christmas....

The tree is up (though my 22-month-old has already knocked it over once, and the cat tries every day...). The cards have been sent. The gifts are pretty much all bought (I hope!). Nothing is wrapped. The house is a mess. The food for Christmas dinner has not been purchased. Hmm...let's hope we make it!

Best part of the holiday season so far? Listening to my toddler's glee as he shouts, "Missmas!!" (His way of saying Christmas, a word he thinks only refers to Christmas trees. But just wait until he sees what happens on Christmas!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

Wow, I haven't written in a while, huh? We have been busy, busy, busy. The older boys have been off school all week, and this morning we went bowling at 9:30 am! Tomorrow they want to have a day to celebrate our cat, but I expect to be busy getting ready for Thanksgiving.

We're not going anywhere for the holiday this year--it will just be the 5 of us at home. We're getting a pre-cooked turkey from the grocery store that we just have to heat up for a few hours. Of course we'll also have several sides and desserts.

We've had a very hard year...actually, a very hard 5 years. But we still have a lot to be thankful for, like our health, and still having a roof over our heads for the moment, and these 3 wacky & wonderful boys! I had the boys help me make a poster with turkeys on it, and we wrote things we were thankful for on the feathers. We still plan to add some more things before the big day!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My trick-or-treaters

This Halloween, my 10-year-old was Indiana Jones. I couldn't find a dark jacket for him, but I think he looked pretty good.

My 7-year-old was Prince Caspian...or basically, a knight:

My 21-month-old was Pooh:

They all had a blast trick-or-treating and got way too much candy!

Meanwhile, our cat would like everyone to know she is NOT amused to wear a chicken hat!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Toddler skills

I was sharing this with some mom friends and thought I should post it here, too. They were asking what our toddlers could do right now, and here are a few things my 19-month-old is up to...

I was impressed last night when he dumped out some goldfish crackers on the living room floor and then went into the kitchen, pulled a chair over to the counter, climbed up and got the Dustbuster down and brought it into the living room to clean up the mess!

But today he unfortunately used the same skills to get a permanent marker down from a kitchen cabinet and draw all over himself and the countertop! (We still haven't gotten it all off his face or hands!) We normally keep the chairs up on the table to stop him from climbing on them.

He can follow simple commands now and is very good about throwing things in the trash when we are done with them! (Too bad he also throws away things we need!)

He can open a straw wrapper and sometimes even put the straw into a juice box or juice bag! (Usually he is not supposed to...he just grabs his brothers' drinks and makes off with them! But they could not manage those straws by themselves until age 3 or 4!)

He can climb almost anything! He can also jump off the floor with both feet, and is a crazy amazing dancer. He is starting to walk down the stairs the normal way, only holding onto the wall slightly--scares me!

He can also identify SpongeBob ("Ba!") even from across a store... (blush).

He makes a cute "Shh" sound with his finger up to his mouth (but likes to scream first and then Shh himself!), and can imitate all kinds of noises, like the noise of the printer and the noise of the vacuum cleaner! He can also do an adorable fake sneeze on command.

He has a magic power over computers so that just barely touching them, he can turn them off or close programs or open new windows or even change major settings! ;)

He is pretty much a daredevil with great large motor skills, but not many words yet. Though one of his newest words, which sounds like "ga ga," is actually his attempt to say "en garde!" (He picked this up from foam swordfights with his brother!)

He also thinks it's hilarious to lick people, or to spit into his hand and rub it on people! He is such a boy! But he's so, so cute, and will occasionally give us huge hugs and even more occasionally give us real kisses, and it melts me.

Monday, September 1, 2008

School time!

All three boys started school this past week! I have a 2nd grader, a 4th grader, and then one in Mother's Day Out 2 mornings a week!

We're only sending the little one because his brother was in the same program at the same age with the same teacher, and we loved her, and I'm thrilled to report he likes it! He's never done well in the church nursery, just cries or has to be held, but both mornings he went to MDO, he stopped crying within minutes, played, had fun, and then wasn't eager to leave at the end! Amazingly, he also did well in the church nursery this week, after the two days of MDO. He is always in a great mood afterwards and babbling like a little chatterbox, so I think it's going to be good for him. (And it really is like a preschool, despite being for 1-year-olds...they do art projects, learn songs & fingerplays on the themes of the week, have storytime & some structured playtime, etc.) It was really nice to have a few hours to get things done, too.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

10 years!

I've been a mom for 10 years now! And survived my oldest son's 10th birthday. We took him and 2 friends to play indoor mini-golf and arcade games. And, since he wasn't having a huge party, we decided to get him the gift he wanted most in all of the world, a Nintendo DS. He was thrilled. Jumped up and down, and has thanked us profusely several times for giving him such a good birthday and gift! He is a very sweet kid, and I'm glad to have known him the past 10 years.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quick update

Since I last posted, my older boys finished a week of science camp, then a week of VBS, and now they are free for the next 2 weeks, and then school starts! My little one will be starting "school," too, a Mother's Day Out program 2 mornings a week. I also had a birthday since I last posted...and in a week, my oldest turns 10! Where has the time gone?!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Our week so far

My baby turned 18 months old yesterday and learned to jump off the ground with both feet in the evening! My other kids didn't learn that until around 2. This one keeps going, and going, and going... We took him to the children's museum during the day, and at night we had a mini half-birthday celebration for him with cookies he didn't care for and popsicles he definitely did.

The very happy half-birthday boy:

Meanwhile, the older boys finished a 4-day art camp yesterday at an ice rink. I went ice skating with them on Wednesday. Very fun!

Blurry pic of me on ice, taken by my 7-year-old:

Tonight we're trying a "Parents' Night Out" again tonight for all 3 boys. Last time we tried one, we were called to pick up the baby because he wouldn't stop crying. This was the first week he's ever played in the church nursery instead of crying or sleeping the whole time--still cried a lot, but played in the middle--so maybe it'll work, but I'm not getting my hopes up too high!

Oh yeah, and our computer broke this week! It says it cannot find the operating system--yikes. That's the family computer. I still have this laptop, so my husband is going to remove the hard drive from the other computer and hook it up to this laptop to see if the data is still accessible. I sure hope so, because it has our whole lives on, documents, etc., going back about 13 years!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Advice for new parents

Something they don't tell you when you're expecting...

1) Stock up on crazy hats.

2) Stock up on shoeboxes.

Seriously, between preschool, school, camps, etc., we've probably had 6 or 8 Crazy Hat Days to contend with in my 10 years of parenting, and I expect them to continue for a while. And even if you like crazy hats. Storybook character outfits also come in handy.

And I can't tell you how many times I've been asked to send a shoebox for something or other. Every time I'm tempted to throw one out, I have to remind myself that one of these days, one of my kids is going to tell me he has to have a shoebox tomorrow! And probably a decorated one at that!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Room sharing

My boys have always had their own bedrooms. But my older two have been having "sleepovers" in each other's rooms all summer so far, and have asked to share a bedroom. I find that odd, but they kept asking, so today my husband moved my my middle son's bed into the oldest's bedroom (the larger one). I knew my middle son would like this because he hates being alone, but my oldest is introverted and likes to have time to himself to read, etc. I figured the older he got, the less likely he'd want to share a room. But he seemed on board with it, too, so we did it. We'll see how it goes.

We plan to make the middle son's former bedroom into a second (tiny) living area or playroom. There's a futon in the baby's room we can put in there, and I think we'll leave my son's old dresser/changing table in there and use it to hold the TV/DVD player and old Nintendo system that are currently in our bedroom. I like the idea of another room we can all use, but I'm really not convinced this is going to last!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another girl in the house

We finally have another female in the house besides me! Introducing Pepper.

So now I have someone else who likes to get between me and my computer...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Template help?!

How on earth do you change a template in Blogger?? I've downloaded several custom templates from sites around the Internet, but got Blogger errors anytime I tried to upload one. I just tried some template code from, which has a lot of Blogger layouts, but again, I only get errors if I try to use them for my blog. I've even tried reverting to the Classic template style instead of the newer version, and it didn't help.

At this point, I'd be happy if I could even change out the plain green background on the edges for a textured background (and I have a good .jpg that might work for that), but can't figure out where in the code the background image is being called from. Argh. I'd rather get a whole new template, anyway, but even though I see other templates in use all over Blogspot, I can't get any to work.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tooth or dare

To my surprise, these things have actually improved my kids' dental hygiene.

This probably wouldn't. (But you never know!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my dad, my husband, & all the dads out there! My parents are visiting from out of town today, so my kids have been getting some quality time with their grandfather. :-)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I won popcorn!

I'm so excited...I won some Orville Redenbacher popcorn & a cool popcorn bowl from! This is perfect for me because popcorn really is my favorite snack. My first job was selling popcorn at a movie theater, but I never got tired of eating it. I just had some last night, and could really use that bowl! :-)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's always something!

I can't believe what just happened. My husband was going to take the baby out in the car. The baby was eager to leave, so I took him outside to wait for my husband to come out. My 7-year-old decided to come out and help the baby get in the car. He opened the door, and also got in himself and started climbing around in the car, even though he wasn't going anywhere. He accidentally bumped his head against the front windshield, and though he barely noticed the bump himself, the windshield cracked! There's a huge crack in the car windshield now, and we've only had this car 10 months. I can't believe that! I don't know if insurance will pay for it because we have a big deductible...sigh. And what happens to our windshield stickers (inspection sticker, registration sticker, toll road sticker)? I just didn't need this today. Our other car actually has a crack on the windshield, too, which we've never replaced because the car itself isn't worth the effort when we have no extra money. But this car is too good not to fix.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baby's got class

My 16-month-old son started his first-ever class today. That is, a parent & child "gymnastics" class for kids aged 12 months to 3 years old. The class information said it was for "confident walkers and up," and my baby has been a confident walker for 6 or 7 months. So my husband took him to the class tonight, where we hoped he could run & jump on mats & play with balls, etc., and get used to being around children close to his age. Instead, my husband said it was pretty structured, and the instructors seemed to think our son would understand the directions they were giving him, and how to do things like somersaults and bear crawls, and how to sit still and listen. Uh...right. He was the youngest one there, though apparently there were a few girls not much bigger who followed along much better. We're going to give it another go since we signed up for a 6-week session, but this may not be the best class for him!

My 7-year-old is also starting gymnastics tomorrow. He's asked about taking gymnastics for a month or two, but I thought by his age, the only boys in gymnastics were those who were serious enough about it to be at a higher level than he could keep up with. I found out, though, that the YMCA has beginning boys' gymnastics for ages 6-9, so we're going to try it out. He can do a decent cartwheel already, so I think he'll do fine...I just hope other boys have signed up for the class!

We also signed up for the library's summer reading program today. To my shock, my older boys were both so excited about it, they each spent more than an hour reading when we got home! The 9-year-old loves to read anyway, but the 7-year-old says he doesn't like it, so for him to choose reading over computer time, video games, or other types of activities was a big deal! Even the baby is enrolled in the program, with minutes that we read to him being counted, but he's so incredibly active, he won't even sit still long enough to hear a whole board book. It's less like we read to him and more like we read at him while he wiggles or darts around!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mixin' it up

I mentioned a few posts ago that I like baking, but when I bake it's pretty low-tech. My best mixer is a $10 hand mixer from the grocery store. My second best mixer is a spoon! I invested in a whole tackle box full of cake-making supplies, as well as some pans and decorating tools, etc., but so far I haven't managed to shell out for a stand mixer. I'm sure if I had one, I'd bake a lot more often and enjoy it more, too, since my hands wouldn't get so tired.

Meanwhile, it seems like every woman I know either has or wants a KitchenAid stand mixer, and I am no exception! I remember my grandmother having an ancient one when I was growing up--so old the cord to plug it in was made of fabric rather than plastic. And so reliable she never had to replace it. Since then, I've seen them in countless friends' kitchens, and looked at them longingly in stores and online. KitchenAid is clearly the gold standard of mixers, and I've long told myself that someday I'll have a KitchenAid Mixer.

Now, I'm hoping that time has come, because Ribbon Rock Star is giving away a Kitchen Aid mixer in an Almond Cream color that will go great with my kitchen! Feel free to go enter, but remember that the prize is mine! (Ha ha.)

Tiny clean machine

We went to the park the other night, and my 16-month-old (Son 3) made a beeline for something white he saw on the ground, maybe 10 feet away. He picked it up and it was a napkin. So he looked around, spotted a large trashcan, and ran over there with the napkin, pointing until someone helped him put it in. We were surprised he recognized it as trash or knew what to do with trash in a new environment. I guess I've done something right!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

So You Think You Can't Cook

To kick off my blog, I'm entering a giveaway that Parent Bloggers Network is sponsoring to bring attention to the America's Worst Cook contest. The America's Worst Cook contest is being run by the American Egg Board, which is perfect because one of my worst cooking disasters involved eggs...or rather, the lack of them.

For some reason, I love cooking shows. I especially love cooking competition shows, & I'm hooked right now on Top Chef & The Next Food Network Star. I've also loved Iron Chef and The Next Iron Chef, and I watch other food-related shows like Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Dinner: Impossible.

The odd thing about all this is, I'm wretched at cooking myself. I could no more invent a dish on the spur of the moment from a random selection of ingredients than run a marathon with no training at all. In fact, every time I heat up a can of soup or canned veggies, I have to read the directions! I follow them exactly. My mother's recipes drive me crazy because she'll say things like "a little of this" or "some of that," without any measurements. Even with eggs, I look up instructions in cookbooks or online every single time I try to hard boil them! I've had too many gooey Easter egg hunt surprises....

So baking is more up my alley, because you have to use exact measurements when baking. And I like the creative design parts. I took a cake decorating class a few years ago, and although I surely can't do anything like they show on Ace of Cakes (another show I like watching), I've had fun making a few special cakes for my boys' birthdays.

BUT...the decorating is still easier for me than the cooking part. The proof of this is, I am even able to mess up a cake made from a mix! Check out the following treasure chest cake, which I made for my oldest son's birthday a few years ago:

Not so smooth, frosting-wise, but I do think it turned out pretty good. (That's my actual cake in the photo--I cropped out the clutter in the kitchen behind it!) But the baking process was something of a disaster.

First, I put it off until evening, the night before the party--bad idea. Then, I had to make 3 separate sheet cakes, 2 to form the bottom of the chest and one to use as the top. I used boxed marble cake mixes. Piece of cake, right? (Groan.) Well, no, because with one of the cakes, I left out the oil. I didn't realize it until I was making the next one and got to that step, only to realize I'd skipped it entirely with the previous cake. Ack! But you know what? It looked pretty good, still cakelike, so I decided to run with it and hope for the best. It was getting late and I still had to decorate the thing.

So I put the third cake in the oven. But this time, when I got it out, it did not look right at all. It was completely flat! It dawned on me, horribly...I'd forgotten the eggs! Yes, the cake only required 4 ingredients, including water, yet I managed to leave out an ingredient twice in a row. This time, I had no choice but to toss out the cake and send my husband to the store, late at night, to buy me another box of cake mix! All in all, I was baking and decorating until after 2 am.

It wasn't a terrible disaster because we were able to fix it, and the cake looked and tasted fine at the party (the layer without the oil may have been dry, but smushed up with the other layer and buried under frosting and candy, it tasted fine). But still, you're better off not signing me up for Top Chef, and as for Ace of Cakes...well, maybe I can be the Joker of Cakes!

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a contest sponsored by the American Egg Board. So remember, never ever ever forget the eggs! You can have a cake without oil, and even a cake without frosting, but you can't have a cake without eggs!

Mama's got a brand new blog!

I've decided to create a blog to share some of the ups and downs of parenting 3 active boys, and also some of the great things I've found for kids around the Internet. Welcome!