Thursday, October 30, 2008

Virtaland

This post comes live from my parents house up north in Mass. My mom took the train to us and made the drive with me (despite my best protests). The ride was fantastic, timed for nap and filled with chicken nuggets they slept for 3 hours of the 4 hour trip! On the way my mom mentioned that she and my dad had been talking about taking all the kids to Disneyland. Although it would be fun, I think they will appreciate it more in a few years.
So, we pulled into the driveway and in the first hour the kids were given the tour of the new "Kids Room" complete with new beds and filled with toys, books, dolls, and anything a kid could dream of. Then they were introduced to chocolate milk for the first time. Before they took their coats of my father wheeled two new bikes into the room. Did I mention the new guitar, drums and harmonicas?
Seriously. Disneyland has nothing on this place.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Jersey Childrens Museum





We spent the morning at the New Jersey Children's Museum, the perfect place for a rainy day. Of course, growing up at the Boston Children's Museum sets a pretty high standard, but this place is nice too. We went there once before for a birthday party 6 months ago. Wow, what a way to track development! 6 months ago they didn't talk nearly as much, had difficulty climbing on some exhibits, and had a lot more hesitation while exploring. Tyler slept the whole time we were there before, today he was all over the place! All 3 loved the sand box, although Tyler ate a little more than I was comfortable with, ick. Another hit was the music room, grocery store, and pizza shop. Im looking forward to returning this winter.

Bedtime Stories

Im about to load some pictures on to the computer for a post about the children's museum today - but their little voices floating down the stairs are killing me. They are into reciting their favorite books to each other before they go to sleep. Two of the top choices from the library this week are "Shaggy, Waggy Dogs" a book of photos and little poems about different breeds and Goldilocks. Here is what I hear:

"Shaggy, Waggy Dogs! Im a dog that likes to play. I can play all day. Catch that Frisbee. That's a Peedle, Drew." (she means poodle)

"Unsa ona time, there were 3 bears in the woods. The Daddy bear, mommy bear, and the wee little baby bear. Too Hot! Just right! She broke the chair to pieces! No one knows."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Music Man

Our house is an all day music fest. They get funnier every day. This past weekend we went to the NJ State High School Marching Band competition held in our town. Wow. had no idea this sub-culture existed. Drew and Ella were totally enthralled, oblivious to the strong chilly winds and the cold cement seat. My favorite part was when Drew turned to me and said, "Mommy! I want Santa to bring me a trumpet!" Im just glad he didn't ask to be in the Color Guard! Here he is doing his thing on the Harmonica...
videoAnd his favorite, the guitar...
video

Pictures Displayed



If you're like me, you take tons of pictures, load them onto your computer, and then look at them occasionally. I haven't printed any pics in months. A shame, because there are so many that I love and that evoke different emotions just by catching a glimpse of them. So, anyway, I had the idea to arrange a bunch of my favorites on a wall somewhere in the house in June. Then I gave up on the idea because, well, it was summer and we had WAY too much to do. Recently I saw this on one of my favorite blogs and I was inspired again. I should have spent a little more on quality frames. I got these for less than $1 a frame at The Christmas Tree Shop. I also should have bought more as I printed out a bunch more 5X10s and I had to leave out a few I really love. Anyway, here is the result. I love that it is near the table. I look at the pictures 3 times a day as I am feeding the kids. Sometimes when they aren't acting so cute it helps to look at pics of when they were!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Creative Meals

Typical for toddlers, we go through some less enthused dinners these days. Drew especially can eat like a bird on some days and like a lion on others. It doesn't bother me too much, but I was looking for inspiration to provide a nutritious meal in a more enticing way. Behold, the Bento Box. I came across this website Lunch in a Box and almost fell off my chair. A little more searching and I found there are a TON of sites out there just like this one. Not only are mothers actually making these meals, but they are taking the additional time to photograph and write about them. Geesh.
There is no way I am even considering going to this level, I mean, COME ON! But, here is of my recent attempts at brightening up dinner. I promise, no more food pics. Even the kids were saying "Mommy, why you take pictures of my dinner?"

We are Connected!

I have my very own Internet connection now, that I actually pay for! The first thing I did - kick everyone off my network!! I have no sympathy for those pirates :)

I've been doing a lot of thinking and I have lots of post ideas, so make sure you keep checking in. Im going to try to start some new weekly segments next week.

It's good to be back!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not Connected

My Internet access has been patchy at best the last few days...what can we expect when pirating from our neighbors?! I broke down and ordered our own service so we should be all set by weeks end. This is my third attempt at an entry, hopefully I won't get kicked off before Im done.

We went to the Bronx Zoo this past weekend and had an amazing time. What an awesome place. The animals were so accessible and active - not the half dead hidden in a bush type that you encounter at other zoos. Ella, Drew and Tyler loved it. From his bed in the morning Drew declared, "I want to ride a camel." He talked about it the whole way there. When we approached the camel rides and asked if he wanted to go, he gave us a strong "Not Either!" This is his new way of saying "no." I have no idea where it came from.

We raked leaves for the first time last week. My poor little city dwellers had not experienced it before. They had a blast jumping and running through the piles. Drew was even a pro at loading up the leaves.

There has been a lot of birthday talk as of late. I was surprised to encounter this response to a discussion of twins, "I don't want to share my birthday! I want my own!" I thought this would come much farther down the road. They seem content to hear that each will get their own cake, present and song. Drew changes his mind frequently on what type of cake he wants - dump truck, cookie monster, guitar. Ella asked for a drum cake and then came up with a Strawberry ice cream cake with sprinkles. Stay tuned, we have a few months to change our minds!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Great Weekend


I hadn't seen most of my family in 3 months, so just them being here was an awesome weekend! But, the weather was great and we had so much fun. A day in NYC on Saturday, exploring Central Park and FAO Shwartz and then the Christening on Sunday. We did a lot of hanging around, laughing, and enjoying the kids concerts. Nana commented that our house was neat and clean - whew! Ella loved giving the tours - maybe a partner in mom's real estate company one day? Im still feeling the happy glow a visit with all my family gives me! Just one question, has anyone seen Mac?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Name this Beast



At the pumpkin patch/farm/store/petting zoo - this animal was the only one that would eat the crackers provided by the farm. But he/she/it didn't just eat them, it sucked them into it's mouth whole. It looked exactly like a living, albeit hairy, ATM machine. Ella and Drew loved it and I was laughing too hard to be horrified that my gorgeous children were dangerously close to this nasty beast!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pressure


Ok, my 91-yr-old grandmother is coming into town this weekend for Tyler's christening. Im cleaning my A^% off! Seriously, she notices everything!

Drew and Ella have been "napping" for 2 hours now. When I say napping I mean: singing, yelling, pretend games, telling stories, and as they say "doing tricks." At least I can get some stuff done while they are in there.

Enough blogging, more cleaning!

Oh, but wait until you see the pictures and frames I finally organized. Pictures to come next week. I love them!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prince's Throne

Why do men have wierd issues with going the bathroom? Why are they in there for so long? Apparantly it is in the genes...
Our bedtime routine is PJs, books, teeth, one more try at the potty and then into bed for some singing. For the past 5 days in a row after we tuck Drew into his bed he says, "I have some poopies." So, we sit him on the potty. He sits. And sits. And sits. This goes on for about 20-30 minutes! If I am in there I pepper him with comments such as: "All done, buddy?" "How about you try in the morning?" If Mike is on potty duty I hear, "Take your time, buddy." What is he nuts? Encouraging this pattern?! Right now you're thinking, "Suckers. Rookies. How can they fall for this stall tactic?!" That's the kicker - he does a poop everytime! A big, yucky, stinky manly poop. What are we supposed to do?!

200th Post!!

Woo Hoo! The big 2-0-0!

...just wanted to celebrate!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Im over here!!


After several weeks, today was the first time Ella and Drew didn't look for me during their little class. I sat in the waiting room chatting and playing with Tyler waiting for them to appear any minute. They never came. As other mothers went in and came back out they reported that they were doing well. I was proud for about a second and then I wanted to stand in the doorway and yell, "Hello! Ella! Drew! Im over here!! Do you need me?! Are you having fun? Did you say please?" I still feel weird. Good god - how am I going to handle kindergarten?!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

In Theory


Well, it seemed like a good idea.

Backdrop: I provide healthy, cost effective meals as often as possible. Sure, we indulge in the occasional chicken nugget and Mac & cheese from the box. But, on a whole I offer natural foods with as little processing and additives as possible. And I hate to waste food, especially with my grocery bill reaching ridiculous heights, coupons or not.

This morning was chilly and I could think of no better breakfast then yummy oatmeal. Not the processed over packaged individual servings oatmeal...but the simmered on the stove with milk, raisins, apples and a touch of brown sugar oatmeal. I let the kids sprinkle in the raisins and apples to really make it exciting. I served it up and sat back to watch them enjoy. Well, it wasn't going over well. (With the exception of garbage disposal Tyler who polished off 2 bowls!) Ella really tried to like it and finally resorted to hunting and eating only the raisins. Drew sat and stared at it. He didn't even pick up his spoon. When they started asking for "something else" I emphatically stated "Try one bite of oatmeal and if you don't like it, you can have cereal." I mean, isn't that what parents are supposed to say?!Ella ate her bite immediately and asked for cereal. Drew refused. Cut to 20 min later and Drew was sitting stoically periodically asking for cereal while Ella was on her second bowl. When I brought out the peaches he was nearly in tears. Finally he ate one measly drop of oatmeal and then downed the peaches. After 2 bowls of cereal, peaches and kiwi he ate a few more bites of oatmeal on his own. I have to say, even though this ended somewhat successfully, it was heartbreaking. I felt like such a tyrant!

Poor Tyler will be eating the leftovers for the next 3 days!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Torture Ride


Ella and Drew have lots of fears. They can't verbalize them yet, but we can tell by the screaming and crying. We used to comfort them and would never push them to do something they didn't want to do. But now we know better. I just can't let them miss any more fun stuff. So, I forced them on the carousel, now they love it. I made them hold the little stick for the birds to eat at the zoo. "Daddy, I freaked out!" they reported that day. This week we tortured them by planning a hay ride. They started crying while approaching the menacing tractor pulling that frightening hay. By the time we climbed onto the hay they both were screaming with snot and tears all over their faces. They were clutching Mike and I as if we were about to throw them from a cliff. The people already seated were looking at us as with a mix of humor, annoyance, and disbelief. After a solid five minutes of waiting, screaming, begging, and choking the tractor finally started up. We hadn't moved 10 feet when Drew exclaimed, "It's like a train ride! I like it mommy!" Ella soon followed with an "I LOVE it!" Little pains in the A^&%%es!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jersey Kids take on a Classic

Finkle, Finkle Little Star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a DINER in the sky
Finkle, Finkle little star
How I wonder what you are

I know, I know, this calls for a video. Ill work on it!

Ella is a Trip


Recent Quotes:

"No, Drew daddy doesn't take that bus to work. You silly boy." - if I didn't know better I would have thought a NYC society woman with a cigarette dangling from her outstretched arm was in my backseat.

"Im not joking. I want applesauce."

"Where's T-Bone?" - referring to Tyler

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Are you Happy Mommy?

Ella asks me this several times a day. I answer pretty much the same every time - "Oh, yes I am happy! I love to be with you guys and the day is beautiful..." yada yada yada. But Im usually preoccupied with something else.
The other day I read a post over at this blog that started me thinking. Then I watched the 99 Balloons video (google it if you haven't seen it yet). Each day is filled with so many moments to be happy, but I think I waste a lot of them.
I waste moments worrying about silly things like what to wear and what to cook. I waste moments cleaning (although some could argue not enough!) when my kids want to play. I waste moments rushing kids up the stairs, into the car, and out of the bath. I waste moments cleaning up dinner while they still sit and talk. I waste a lot of moments making lists of what to do next instead of doing now. None of these things makes me happy. I truly want to model how to live happily, simply, and purposefully for my kids. To stop, listen, and enjoy. So, Ella if you are reading this someday - Yes, I am happy. I am the happiest mommy there ever was and I am going to work on being even happier every day. Now wake up so we can go play.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Back to School


Well, technically this is just the beginning! Sure I could have found a preschool for Ella and Drew this Fall, but I didn't. Yes, they missed most cut-off dates because of their December bday. Yes, most schools are ridiculously expensive. But to be honest, I just want them with me. I would be insanely jealous of whatever adult got to be with them for a few hours a week. I am so addicted to these kids, I can't miss a minute!
So, we did the next best thing and signed up for a little Stepping Stones class. It is designed to help kids gradually separate from their mom/dad. (I said I was addicted, I didn't say I wanted them attached to each leg for the next 18 years!!)They love it and look forward to it each week. I stay in the waiting room with Tyler the majority of the time, but they both come running for me for Circle Time. According to the teachers this is very common. This week the 2 retired school teachers who run the program said, "Your kids are adorable and very chatty!" I swelled with pride.
My friends and I also began a co-op style home school preschool. My SIL Heidi did a similar idea with her friends and we knew of a few moms in town who also had successful programs. So each week one of us takes a turn being the teacher while the other mothers watch the little siblings. We are following a letter of the week curriculum and the kids are having a blast. I was the teacher last week and in the great Virta competitive style, I went way overboard!! But, the art project, songs, magic tricks, snacks, books, and activities all beginning with B were a big hit! Each week, Ella insists that next week she is going to be the teacher. She then turns to Drew and says, "Are you going to listen to me, Drew?" to which he replies, "Yes, Ella." He is going to be a great husband someday!