Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

One in a Million

My mother is awesome in a million ways. One of those ways is her ability to touch people, to impact their lives in a positive way. This morning she told me that a boy who grew up with my brother, now in his 30s, wrote to her and told her that he still has his Dreamcoat. (My mother was the mastermind behind these coats we made out of our dad's shirts for a school performance) Can you remember an adult in your childhood that made an impact on who you are today? Aggie, my first grade teacher and my Auntie Pati are two people I credit with giving me the self-confidence to believe in myself.  There is a boy I worked with years ago who has called me 3 semesters in a row to tell me he is still in college. It is an absolutely amazing feeling. 
I can't wait to see who the special people are for Ella, Drew, and Tyler. I am going to do my best to expose them to people who can offer them a sense of pride, self worth, and community. Although it is exciting to think of them having these experiences, it is also a little tough. Another reminder that I have to let them go a little. That one day, sooner than I think, they are going to be out there in the big world without me. I hope they run into a million people just like my mom....if only there were a million, but even the Dreamcoat boy knows, there is only one. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sick In

We are stuck at home today, my little buddy Drew is sick. I can't remember the last time we stayed home all day. The tv is so abused today, but every time Drew tries to play he ends up laying down wherever he is - the floor, a chair, on top of toys, etc. So, tv it is. 

Which brings me to another point - Ella is so loving Drew's illness. It all started last night when Mike brought home apple juice and Popsicles. Drew barely wet his lips before returning to the couch. And there was Ella, beaming from ear to ear with a Popsicle in one hand and a big cup of juice in the other. During meals Im offering every thing and anything to Drew, hoping he will eat something. Ella listens in and asks for whatever I suggest to Drew. For lunch she had soup, yogurt, toast, muffins, apples, blackberries, cereal, crackers and juice. Drew had 2 bites of soup and fruit.  After lunch she said, "You not feeling good, Drew? Wanna watch some tv? Yeah. Ok buddy. Mommy, put the tv on for Drew!" She really plays the concerned sister role so well! 

ps. I can't find my camera usb cord, but I have some cute pics and videos I want to share. Keep your fingers crossed! 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dad signing on

Thought I would make my first appearance following a historical weekend for the family. Our first trip to the hockey rink!!!!

There is a tradition of hockey on both sides of the family, so I have been anxious to get them started on the ice. D&E were both excited to lace up the skates for their first time. The first challenge was getting them to walk with the blades on. Check. They both did this superbly. As we approached the door to enter onto the ice, they both began to walk a little slower and with a less enthusiasm. I think reality had set in. We were actually going to step thru the boards and onto the ice.

Their first steps were a bit wobbly. Lauren and I each had one, our arms under their arms. I was loving it! We were on the ice. I was hoping that they loved it as much as I had when I was young. But I quickly realized that this wasn't going to happen quite yet. As my family likes to say … "no flies on Ella" She quickly realized that at this point, on the bench was the best place to be. "I sit on the bench….for a little bit" she said. Everything is always "for a little bit" with her. So we brought them to the bench and sat them down just to survey the ice for a while and watch the people skate around. I thought it would be good for them to see me do it - so I skated around as well. Just seeing their faces, outlined by their snow hats, their little eyes locked onto me as I made a lap - that was awesome for me - my heart was filled up. I was elated.

We proceeded to bring them on the ice and do our best to help them skate around. They did awesome. Ella did her best skating en route to the door off the ice. "Ella, lets skate to the door then we can get off….oops Ella we missed the door, lets go around again" "okay Daddy lets go"
Drew was just a trooper - he did great. As he skated around he said "this is like a choo choo train" - Anything in motion is like a choo choo train with Drew.

Seriously, with a little help, they were both able to almost walk across the ice. A great job for their first time out. I was proud.

Also - much like the first time we went skiing together - Lauren really impressed me. She doesn't skate much but she looked like she did!!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One Down


I am with all 3 kids all the time. Seriously. All. The. Time. Of course, there are a handful of exceptions. This weekend there were a few instances. Mike took Drew to breakfast with his mom and aunt (the one who travels with THE uncle who terrorizes Ella). I took Ella and Tyler to a different place for breakfast. It was remarkably calm, quiet, and uneventful. Then when we got home Tyler went for a nap and Ella and I had the house to ourselves for about an hour. We cleaned together. We listened to music. We sat at the table and colored. We talked. 
As I sat there with my cup of tea (pause. did you read that? miraculous.) I enjoyed the peacefulness. But, a moment later, I was bored. I missed Drew. I missed Tyler. I missed the noise and the busyness. I missed watching Ella and Drew and Tyler together. 
It was a good moment to have. A good reminder that although our days seem so chaotic, I love the chaos - better known as Ella, Drew, and Tyler. I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Wall Flower


One of my mom's tried and true responses to every difficulty Im having with the kids is, "It's a phase, it will pass. And then it will be a new thing!" She is so right. 

Today we went to a neighboring town's library for the first time for their Toddler Time Play Hour. Yes, it was as lame as it sounds, but thank goodness toddlers are sooo into lame. Ella began her usual line of questioning....

E: What's your name? 
little girl just stares
E looks around for a near-by adult and says louder: Hey, Hey! What's her name? 
Mother: Her name is Hannah. 
E, looking at me: Her name is Hannah. 
E: My name is Ella. This is Tyler my baby brother. And that's Drew. My birthday is next. I want a Trumpet. 

She continues this around the room and even includes the Librarian. At one point a mother turned to me and said, "wow, she is so outgoing." And then it struck me. This is the same little girl who clung to Mike or I when entering any new building. The same little girl who just months before would cry forever if a stranger looked her way, never mind spoke directly to her. 

Kids are amazing. Phases are amazing. My mother is so right. 

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Boo-ti-ful!


One of Drew's new favorite comments is, "That's Boo-ti-ful." He says it in a matter-of-fact almost sarcastic way. I love it. It makes me laugh out loud every time. Here are some recent examples, 

Me. "Your friends are coming over for your birthday and we are going to decorate gingerbread houses. 
D. "Oh, that's a Boo-ti-ful thing." 

D. "Mommy, this is a Boo-ti-ful dinner." 

Me. "Here is another truck library book."
D. "Oh, that's Boo-ti-ful." 

I love this kid! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Observations

We planned on going to story time at a Barnes and Nobles this morning, but I had the date wrong. (It is amazing how unconnected from the world I can be...the date? I barely know the month!) We were at a different mall...the kind of mall where the woman are dressed as if they may be photographed at any minute. The kid of mall where there are often more sales people than items in the store. We fit right in....in my dreams! 

We were playing at the train table (Drew was playing, Ella was hoarding stuffed animals and Tyler was stuffing his face) with 4 other boys ages 1-4. We were the only English speaking family present. To say these boys were aggressive is a ridiculous understatement. They were pushing, grabbing, yelling, grunting, and smashing stuff.

I was proud of Drew, although his lip quivered once, he stood his own, clutching his little red caboose and trying to get out of the way. He changed directions when needed, let other non-caboose trains go, and was always on the lookout for an abandoned train. He didn't sink to their level. Several times all 3 of my kids were just standing and staring at the wild show. Most surprising were the overly stylish moms who were barely watching, much less intervening. Sometimes I am critical of myself for being too involved, but they were just negligent! We left to go play with the overpriced Pottery Barn play kitchens and came back later to a friendlier Thomas the Train loving crowd. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Try, Ma Momma

I researched a new pot roast recipe on epicurious, bought the ingredients and got it going yesterday at 9 AM. Don't you just love pot roast on a crisp day? Mike especially loves it and the kids eat it, always a bonus. I thought it might be fun to try a new recipe. So wrong. Not only did the house smell horrible all day, but it tasted...well...icky. 
Ella: "I don't like it mom." 
Me: "I know Ella, it doesn't taste too good. I tried, but it didn't work out." 
Ella:" It's ok. Good try, Ma Momma." (her new name for me.)

Later she was on her play phone talking to my mom....

Where's Caca? Oh, he is in traffic. He'll be home soon Nonnie. What are you having for dinner? Chicken? Oh, that's good. Ma Momma tried but I didn't like it.  I said, "Good try, Momma!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Simple Pleasures


There is nothing like a young child to remind you to take pleasure in the simple things. I suppose this is an especially poignant point as the holidays approach. Here are some favorite things of the moment: 

Ella: She has taken to hanging a reusable shopping bag on a dining room chair and filling it with things. Little animals, dish towels, combs, magnets, and books all reside in there among other treasures. She occasionally takes a peek in there, carries it for a lap around the house and then hangs it back up. 

Drew:  A flashlight is his new obsession. Sometimes for a big thrill we turn the lights out. 

Tyler: He is just too easy. He loves to tear paper, eat shoes, and play with bowls (although that last activity caused a cut on his eye and a trip to the ER, but no stitches.) Oh, and he also loves to splash in the toilet! Come to think of it, maybe I should buy him a toy :) Ha, Ha. 

As the giving season approaches, doubled with their birthdays so close to Christmas, I have been giving some thought to our approach. I have thought about my memories of waking to mounds and mounds of presents. The joy, the wonder, and the excitement. Mike remembers getting a big gift upstairs at Gram's house. We have a few years to iron out what our gift giving strategy and traditions will be. This year Ive started by choosing some handmade gifts from Etsy that I think they will enjoy. I like the fact that they were made by moms. I wish I were more crafty! Hopefully this year Ella, Drew and Tyler continue to absorb the feelings of the holidays - love, thanks, peace, joy - that all come when gathering and celebrating with family. 

Although you, my loyal readers, aren't big on commenting - I would love to hear some of your family holiday traditions that our family would enjoy as well. 

ps. that picture is Mike holding our most pleasurable gift last year - Tyler - although he turned out to be not so simple. 

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Road Rage

This video is a little outdated already, because the T-Bone is officially walking! He takes about 5-10 steps with a big proud grin the whole way. Such an awesome, amazing, heart swelling experience to watch.
video

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Seasons Change


I love when the seasons change. The crunch of leaves beneath our feet, the crisp air, the colors, taking sweaters out, comfy food, snuggling under an afghan. I think the kids enjoy it too and I love when they point out a pretty tree or a cool leaf.

When the seasons change it feels like a new chapter in the day to day. I love to set new goals, especially in Fall. I love thinking about new places to go, new recipes to try, books to read, etc. Although, if I could keep my goal setting to 4 times a year, I may be better off. I have always set goals: from losing weight, to better grades, to working on relationships. I might set 3-4 goals a day. I am always thinking of ways to make it better. "It" being anything. I think this is what made me pretty good as a counselor, I know how to evaluate, set goals, and follow through. I can't remember a time when I wasn't doing that.

I can see how this drive to improve can be seen as a dissatisfaction for what is. But, I don't think of this as a negative quality. I am truly happy with who I am, where I am, and what I am. I love my life. I am just constantly motivated to change. I can do both.

The problem is that I already see myself setting goals for my kids...they could be more independent, speak clearly, learn the alphabet, etc. I don't want them to interpret my goal setting as criticism, or internalize that they are not good enough. That would be the exact opposite of my intentions as a parent and would devastate me.

So, my new Fall goal is to lay off goal setting for the kids -maybe my best goal yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Banana Phone


Ella was using a banana as a phone today at the zoo. This is her conversation:


"Hi. What are you doing?"

"Wait a minute. OK, go ahead."
"Yeah, yeah. We are at the zoo. Its a beautiful day."

"I don't know what you are talking about!"

"Talk to you later. Bye!"


This coupled with the fact that I went over my minutes on my cell phone bill, lends me to believe I am on the phone a tad too much.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

11 Months



Dear Tyler,

This is your last shot at being a baby. In one month you will have your birthday and be on your way to being a little boy. I need to tell you this because you are already trying to race ahead. You want it all - to eat, to climb, to tackle, to love. You are constant motion and constant noise. You are so independent already and you certainly know what you want. You yell at all of us if we get in your way - I think we are in trouble when you actually start talking!
You are a super snuggler and give the best hugs. Instead of waving, you point at people with a huge smile - melts me every time. You seem indestructible, thank goodness, because you are such a daredevil - climbing stairs, flying down slides, wrestling with your big brother. I love to watch how excited you get while watching Ella and Drew, or when you see animals, or while dancing. You are always happy, so eager to join in. Unless you are hungry, and then watch out! Have I mentioned that you are a human garbage disposal?!

You are amazing.

I love you - Mom

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sweet


After the mean step-sisters rip Cinderella's dress to shreds she runs into the garden and cries on a bench.


I glance over at my little buddy Drew, and his lip is quivering.


"Mommy, Cinderella is sad?"


"Yeah, buddy. But, wait a minute, she will get happy."


sniffle, sniffle. "Ok."


Is he the cutest sweetest little thing?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grandpa Toot


When Drew wears this shirt, all I think about is my Grandpa Toot. He wore flannel shirts sometimes, smelled like cigarettes, coffee, and the outside air. His face was often scratchy when we gave him raspberries on his cheek. He was either in his chair watching tv, or at the kitchen table - but sometimes he was in the basement and would allow us to join him. He was always working on a project but he had a special area for us to use a hammer and nails - what a treat! He had a laugh like a cartoon character and cleaned his plate like a magician. He didn't say much, but he didn't have to - he was there and he loved us - it went without saying.

A Favorite Place


After running a few errands this morning, we went to the local county zoo which is less than 10 miles away. We go there quite often and it sometimes feels like ours. Especially today. It was cloudy and a little chilly, there were exactly 6 cars in the parking lot (which is also for a playground). The zoo is free now for the winter season, so we walked right in - no staff in site. We stopped over to see our buddies, the buffalo, but on the way we were surprised by the prairie dogs. We have seen one or two before, but this time there were at least 12! They were running, wrestling, eating - the kids loved it. We walked towards the barn and sat on a bench for lunch. We saw one other family pass by, but other than that the kids had the pigs, sheep, and donkeys to themselves. The animals were all up and the pigs were talking. Everyone was happy, despite their colds, and it felt perfect. I love my kids and I love being a mom -especially on days like this.
ps. this pic is from a few weeks ago, but I love it!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Things We Love

Im going to start posting one item the family loves each week. To start us off...
we have 2 of these sound machines
one in each of the kids rooms. While living in the city, they slept right through fire trucks, garbage trucks, drunken 20 somethings on their way home from a bar - but here in the quiet country (I wish!) it apparently is TOO quiet for them. So, we purchased these little gems to add some noise. They work like a charm.
Drew likes to pick which of the sounds they listen to each night. I have to say that waking up to rain when it isn't really raining throws me for a loop. I also wake in the night wondering why the windows are open when he sets it to "summer night" and it sounds like the crickets are invading. The box says that the human heartbeat is the most soothing sound, but it freaks them both out! If you have trouble sleeping through noise, I suggest you pick up one of these.

Sickos

Well, the excitement of Halloween and a trip to Boston was just too much for our family. The entire family has some sort of cold. Drew started it off and he is already feeling better. I think Ella has it the worst with congestion, cough, and a fever here and there.
Last night I was rocking Tyler as he sniffed and gagged and I could hear Ella barking in her room. Mike was in a NyQuil haze peacefully oblivious to it all (damn breastfeeding, I would have loved to join him!). I wanted my empathy for the kids to override my own pounding head, runny nose, and achy body - but it didn't. Sure I felt bad for them, but there was also this little part of me that was wondering what pharmaceuticals I could buy that would knock them out. I know, I know there are currently no cold medicines recommended for children under five, which is why I don't give them anything...but can't a woman dream?!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fick or Feet





Have I mentioned that Ella and Drew pronounce many words incorrectly? Maybe it is because I talk much too fast and with a mix of Jersey and Boston! Anyway, they had 3 occasions to dress up and loved every minute. Ella ended up with 3 variations of her costume due to weather and other misfortunes...E & D were the Tortoise and the Hare and Tyler was an unrelated spider.