Thursday, March 29, 2012

Today Was Totally Awesome

I can't get over how much different life with kids is when you can go outside and stay outside until dinnertime.  Zoe and I figured out a way to go dig in our garden plot while Owen napped this morning and when he woke up well before lunch, she convinced me to just go get him and head right back out to work some more ("Mommy, I don't want to STOP until we are ALL DONE.")  I was a little hesitant, but as I checked Owen's diaper, I asked him: "Do you want to put some sunblock on and go out to the garden?" and he immediately lit right up and said "YES! YES! YES!"  How could that not automatically make the whole thing completely fun?  He looked so cute walking with us in his little summer boy getup, complete with safari hat, holding his little red bucket.  We kept trying to get a smiling picture of Zoe and Owen together on the way there but anytime we stopped him walking he started screaming.  He was so excited to get out there!  I don't know if part of him sensed I was going to let them get completely and totally muddy but for some reason the little dude was in hog heaven even before I let them loose. (ps shout out to my friend Laurie-Anne for telling me how to get my photos into these cool much easier to make one on Picasa first than it is to struggle with Blogger--THANK YOU!!)

The rest of the day was full of fun with neighbors and friends...we did it all:  broke out the sprinkler, ate popsicles, played with the water table, enjoyed po' man's sangria's (orange juice and red wine) and played at the playground.  Save for a 20 minute pocket of time when I realized Owen was going to skip his afternoon nap despite being visibly exhausted, the day could not have been more perfect.  Thanks for sharing it with us, friends!

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm Baaaack....

Well, hi there it's been a while!  See, there was this little incident a couple of weeks ago.  Our computer totally crashed before my eyes one night while I was quietly browsing the blog world looking for project ideas.  There was no saving it so we ordered a new computer and waited patiently for it to arrive.  Everything is a total mess since we couldn't easily transfer our data from our old computer onto this one but luckily we have an external hard drive that we last updated in January so it wasn't a total disaster.

Anyway in these last couple of weeks one of the biggest surprises for me was how much I missed writing and sharing here.  I've known that it's become a big part of my life over the last year, but I've had this love/hate relationship with my blog and it was nice to realize that I would really miss doing it if I quit writing so here I am!

To avoid turning this post into a chapter, I'm just going to share the pictures I took since our computer died so you can see what we've been up to--since the weather has been consistently BEAUTIFUL, it's been a busy couple of weeks.

Caring for Smiley the giraffe...first painting him and then later bathing him with friends...notice the little shorts Owen has on--I knit them!  Here is the pattern.
Art Group/Young Scientists...this is the monthly activity my friend Jessica and I run as part of our Resident Manager job for Family Housing.  This was our biggest turnout yet and was so much fun.  We made homemade lava lamps and then just let the kids go crazy with paint.  Some of the artwork took my breath away as we were cleaning up...
Painting noodles for necklaces.  We used the same method we used to make our rainbow rice last year except that I ended up laying them out to dry like this on wax paper.  Such an easy, fun project..not messy at all and very satisfying.  We were able to talk about color mixing and although we were short on paint and couldn't make as many colors as we wanted, we were both more than satisfied with the outcome.  She's made a bunch of friends necklaces since then, and since I gave her a darning needle to help thread the noodles on, she learned how to thread it and everything.  I ended up tying the embroidery floss onto the needle for her...otherwise she would have quit in frustration, but that's okay!  I tied a bunch of safety pins to the other end so the noodles won't fall off as she strings them on.
So proud of this one!  I made the red head first for Zoe and then the brown haired one for a friend who is about to have a baby.  There is nothing like giving a homemade gift and I think this is the most proud I've been of anything I've made so far...especially since I've never considered myself a seamstress!  Here is the tutorial for the body and you can easily find the tutorials for the hair, face and clothes on the same blog (Quaint and Quirky)
 Just a fun picture of Owen eating a chocolate chip cookie on a hot day...he ate the whole thing and then said in a daze, "More!"
An afternoon with Zoe's favorite teacher, Jen...while falling asleep last week, Zoe told me that she "felt in her heart" that she wanted to invite Jen over so she could show her our playground.  I warned her that although she would most definitely want to come, she may not be able to and Zoe said "It's okay..I mean, I  would be disappointed and might cry, but then that would be over...I just want to ask...please Mommy, can you just ask?"  How could I not just ask.  So, I did and Jen accepted the invitation!  She brought along her daughter, Edie ("Mommy, did you know that Jen has a daughter in high school?") and the two of them graciously spent an afternoon with us watching Zoe quietly zip around as fast as she could in an effort to show them all of her skilz as fast as humanly possible.  Jen even topped off the visit by doing one of Zoe's yoga videos along with her.  Jen is awesome, and so is Children's House Preschool.  We are so, so grateful.
With the warm weather comes....water play!  The sprinkler system turned back on the other day (or they were testing it or something) and Zoe ran around Smiley Court, sprinkler hoppin'.
 ...we also got a new water table for our patio and I think it's going to be a hit this summer...
...last but not least...for 20 minutes at lunchtime today, Zoe didn't allow me to enter the kitchen.  She didn't want to tell me what she was up to, but at one point came into the living room and said "Mommy, will you come open the peanut butter and jelly jars, but DON'T LOOK AT THE PLATES."  She called me in when she was done and this is what I found:
The last time I'd seen it, a half hour earlier, the table was covered in junk.  I looked around the kitchen in amazement as I realized that not only had she made all three of us perfect little lunches, but there was not a spot of peanut butter or jelly on the counters...there were no crumbs anywhere and everything was put away in it's rightful place.  She amazes me more and more every day...

Phew!  There you go, now I'm all caught up!

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Glamorous Life

I made a decision this morning that I wasn't going to follow my initial gut reaction to tell you this story, but bath time tonight presented me with a situation that leaves me no choice but to go ahead and tell it.  I wasn't going to because it's possible it crosses some sort of line...I pictured Zoe reading it as an adult and decided that if I were her reading it as an adult I'd be embarrassed (and not in a cute "we were all kids once" sort of way) so I couldn't very well do that to her.  I had wanted to tell it because it's such a typical "this is my life" mom story and it's always hard to pass those up but I was going to resist the urge in the name of my relationship with the future Zoe....anyway, since I received "the sign" during bath time that it was, in fact, necessary that I relay the story, I feel I have to preemptively even the score by telling a similarly embarrassing story about my own childhood so....

I pooped in the tub once.  Yes, I know I'm not the only one but, although I was young, I was old enough to remember it which I think officially means I was too old to be doing such things.  In fact, I was just telling Zoe about that a couple of nights ago during bath time.  I'm not sure why I did but chances are it naturally fit into the conversation we were having at the time (that fact is it's own tiny "this is my life" mom anecdote actually)...I told her I'd done it and that I've never forgotten the sight of my Dad scooping it out while yelling "If you have to go, you get OUT of the TUB and GET ON THE TOILET."  I immediately regretted my decision to tell her because she would. not. stop. asking. me. about. it.  I had a fleeting fearful feeling that she would somehow see this as permission to do the same thing sometime, but I immediately put that to rest knowing that there's no way she would want to.  Still though, I had a sinking feeling that SOMEHOW the choice to tell her this story would come back to haunt me in some way.

Which brings me to today...a beautiful, sunny, warm day...a pleasant morning was being followed by a quiet lunch with the kids.  As happens almost EVERY time we sit down for a meal, Zoe announced: "I have to go poop, will you come with me?" and I responded as I always do: "I can't go with you because Owen is eating and I need to stay down here with him to make sure he doesn't choke."  Now, a couple of things are going on here..1) I do feel comfortable leaving Owen alone for a couple of minutes while he's eating but I know she can go by herself and I think she's just trying to control the situation by waiting until I'm busy to ask me to keep her company.  We find ourselves in this particular standoff almost daily, but also 2) even though I know she can and should be wiping her own bum by now I can't seem to let it go.  Of course it's not because I LIKE doing it but I just can't imagine she'd be very successful and I can't give up the control.  I think she must sense this, which is why she throws down the challenge for me so although I'm encouraging her to go up and go potty by herself, part of me cringes at the thought.  When I win the standoff and she goes by herself I sit downstairs imagining the carnage upstairs in the bathroom and the germs that will inevitably be spread if she doesn't thoroughly wash her hands (she often does not).   Anyway, I won the standoff today and I sat downstairs anxiously wondering if I should just go up and help her.  Just as I had decided to give in and go up, she started coming down the stairs...I was unpleasantly surprised because I hadn't heard the toilet flush or the faucet running but I knew she'd gone poop.  I was trying to get the story from a smirking, very unnerving, sly looking Zoe when she turned around and said "I haaaave something for yooooou, Mommy".  Still confused, I said "Huh? What?" as she pulled down her tights and underwear, revealing a large piece of toilet paper wedged into her bum.  As I jumped out of my chair yelling "OH!  EW!  ZOE!  EW!" I scurried her up the stairs, somehow dislodging the toilet paper in the confusion.  I saw it falling to the kitchen floor (next to Owen's high chair where he was happily eating a non-germ infested lunch) and just kept yelling "OH! ZOE! EW! GROSS!!  EW EW EW!!"...all of this fuss actually hurt her feelings because she explained that she had felt proud of this genius plan of hers.  She had put the toilet paper there in case she'd missed some poop while wiping herself, that way it wouldn't get on her underwear.  Why she felt the need to show it to me right there in the kitchen, I have no idea but we had a conversation about it for sure.  I suppose this all means I should just start insisting she wipe her own bum, but I'm not sure if I'M ready for that...time will tell and I promise, I'll try.

So, the rest of the day went along just fine and the kids were having a silly, happy-go-lucky bath right before bed...Owen was all washed and Zoe was busy dunking her head, washing shampoo out of her hair when she started scrambling to stand up yelling "OWEN POOPED!!" and there, dancing around these two formerly squeaky clean kiddos was a big, old floater.  Owen just laughed and luckily, Zoe did too.  As they stood there shivering in their towels, watching the water drain from the tub and waiting for me to wipe it out, refill it and rewash both of them Zoe quietly said "Awk-waaard."

This is my life.

This is too though, so it's not all totally gone to shit...highlights from this week:

A Cozy Saturday Morning

A Beautiful, Quiet Morning..making a "tree" from sticks, dried leaves, pine cones, etc...

My 4 Year Old Tween...complete with iPod shuffle and shades

Giving Baby a Bath (thanks for the idea, Pink and Green Mama!)

  Coffee Filter Flowers
We did coffee filter eggs last spring and this year wanted to do flowers...Cut coffee filters into shapes, color with washable markers, spray with water, let dry and hang in your window!  So easy...we used our spray bottle filled with "Monster Spray"...a combination of lavender and water..monsters are repelled by it so it can also be sprayed around a dark upstairs at any time.  Perfect for these because they smell nice too!
 Original Cookie Recipe a la Zoe (inspired by TinkerLab)
The initial collection of ingredients: cheddar cheese, honey peanut butter, salt, vegetable oil and food coloring

1/4 cup of salt (!)

Searching for more inspiration: "Is this food, Mommy?  What about this?  Can you eat this?"

Preeetty sticky

Topping them off with chocolate chips


Excited to taste test and then....

...the reaction.  That's all she ate.  I tried really hard to eat a whole one but I just couldn't do it...threw it in the trash when she turned her back...oh well, it was fun!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stumping Mom

My daughter, the book lover.  Last week, we went to the library and rediscovered James Marshall.  Zoe's friend Cameron (and my friend Marisa, Cam's mom) introduced him to us via the George and Martha series.  If you've never heard of them, like I hadn't, you really should check them out.  They are simple, sweet, funny and really fun to read.  Anyway, Cam and Marisa let us borrow their treasured "Complete Collection" book quite a while ago and we eventually, reluctantly returned it to our friends after at least a month of enjoying it.  When Zoe saw the books at the library she got so excited, she grabbed every George and Martha story off the shelf (plus a couple other James Marshall stories) and RAN to the check out, she was so pumped to take them home.  We've been reading them all at least twice a day since then, and I know it's going to be really sad when the time comes where we can't renew them anymore and have no choice but to return them.  It's been funny reading them over and over because as an adult, they seem so simple....the first 20 times or so, Zoe would just quietly listen and giggle once in a while.  Then, she started asking questions and I realized there are a lot of phrases and words in the stories that are totally new to her.  Here is a list of words/phrases she has asked me to clarify for her.  Some of them are easy to explain, but some are absolutely NOT...when reading this list, really take a moment to try and imagine how you would explain them to a 4 year old, keeping in mind that you basically get one shot at it.  If the first words out of your mouth are completely ridiculous and confusing and you try to start over, you can forget about it.  You lost them in the middle of the first might seem easy at first but you'd be surprised how often you can't do it...either because the word itself is main part of the definition in your mind or because the explanation of the word or phrase is just as, if not more, confusing to a kid Zoe's age than the actual word or phrase...anyway, like I said, really take a moment to try and imagine how you would explain it without the aid of the internet...just you and your 4 year old sitting in a recliner in your living room, quietly reading together:

-...lost all her confidence.
-have some consideration
-I'm not the nosy type
-silent treatment
-...he gave Martha quite a bawling out
-green thumb
-misunderstanding (the difficulty of this one in particular took me by surprise)
-hypnotize (and this one just sounded creepy when I said it out loud)
-George had broken his promise (another surprisingly hard one to clarify)
-Martha decided to swallow her pride (forget about this one..she still asks me every time we read it because I haven't found a good way of explaining it)

Before I typed this up, I expected it to be much longer because sometimes I feel like all I do while reading these to her is stop to try and fumble through an explanation.  I guess that's because there are also lots of questions about the subtleties of the stories themselves...anyway, it's been really funny to me lately....

...and just because we had a nice are a few highlights:

Nathan had a crazy, busy work week and had to stay at the library until it closed every night so the kids and I were on our own.  Although traditionally Zoe has rallied in times like these, she lately has become particularly helpful.  She has been saying "How can I help?" and then actually DOING the thing I come up with in answer to her question.  Lots of times though she'll ask if she can do something and I'll reluctantly let her try after she insists and I end up pleasantly surprised and grateful for the extra pair of hands.  One of those things has been helping to get Owen ready for bed.  One night she did it all by herself but usually she needs a little assistance from me...either way, I appreciate her help though.
I tried so hard to get a good picture of her getting his PJ's on one night but this was the best I could do...he loves his sister so much.

Silly, grown up Zoe
Proudly wearing a necklace she made from the beads she got for Christmas from her cousin, Alex
Our new end of the week, pre-preschool tradition:  Jamba Juice Thursdays!
Enjoying the BEAUTIFUL weather we had today...spent all day long outside--yay!