Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 113

Remember the other day when I had the snow blowing dilemma and ended up wishing one of my neighbors was a masseuse?  Well, soon after I posted that I got an e-mail from Groupon saying they were giving me a $10 coupon for any Groupons available.  I am always eye-balling the massage offers they have, so I took the coupon as a sign and bought one!  Actually, I technically bought two massages; a chiropractor in town was offering two 55-minute massages for $59 and I figured that'd get me the best bang for my buck.

Today I am grateful that I actually got to take advantage of this deal and have a massage!  I was hoping to do it soon, and the stars aligned - mother-in-law could babysit, they had an opening, I could get dinner ready ahead of time, etc. - and I was able to go in for a little muscular relief.

With that being said, remember quite a while back when my sister got a "man-ssage"?  Well, I got one today!  I had a feeling the massage therapist would be a guy; I scouted out the prospects on the company's website and the two that looked most like massage therapists (according to the way they were dressed) were men.  So when he came and got me, I just smiled and felt slightly prepared for the experience.

And how did it go, you ask?  Pretty well, though it was a little weird; nothing like having a guy you've never met before rub lotion all over you.  A few things ...

For starters, he seemed to spend a lot of time on my thigh areas.  And while focusing on said areas, he was moving his hands in opposite directions, essentially giving me a snake bite on the back of my legs.  That part wasn't awesome.  Also, he massaged my legs with his arms ... like his whole arms ... like his head may have ended up near my rear end.  I'm glad I couldn't see him.

Speaking of my derriere, he spent a bit of time there as well.  (That portion was covered up with a sheet and underwear, but it was still a bit weird.)  However, weird as it was, I was a bit sore there from shoveling (and falling while snow blowing last week) and I could feel some relief in my back while he was essentially kneading my tush, so I guess I was okay with it.  Most of the time I just smiled and laughed in my head at the situation.

The back massage part was good, but I have never gotten a massage with muscles this sore so it wasn't as relaxing an experience as it usually is.  Though I guess I wasn't really there for relaxation so much as relief from aches and pains.

I finally turned over, and he chatted with me a tiny bit, first asking me if I'd ever been to a chiropractor's office before.  I said I hadn't, and then he asked me where I had gotten massages before this one.  My response?

"Anywhere I can get them."

Yup, I'm that awesome.  I really said that.  Apparently now I'm some sort of massage-addict that looks for massages in any and every situation.  Look out, world!

So, the massage went okay, I made it through.  Did it help?  We'll see tomorrow.  Right now I'm a little more sore, and sore in places I wasn't before.

Like I said, we'll see.  Either way, I am glad to have gotten a massage as I clearly love them so.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 112 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that Mollie is doing so well as we start potty training.  We're on day three or four here, and while she's had a few accidents here and there, she's doing well overall.  Pooping on the potty has been an issue, though, and she actually dropped a deuce in her underwear while we had company over today.  So that was fun.  But I am happy to say she wasn't ashamed or embarrassed by it, and I think she now has hope that she will be able to do it in the potty soon.  (She certainly doesn't want to poop in her underwear again, that's for sure!)

I'll post more about it later with pictures (mostly of her bribe) and the triumphs, but for now I am just glad that it has started as well as it has.

Have a wonderful day!

Busy Little Bees

The kids are busy little people.  Even when we're just staying home, they always have something up their sleeves.  Mollie, for example, likes to do "gymnastics". Here's an example of that:

Yes, it's more running back and forth over cushions, but it gets her moving and tires her out.  This is what happened after the video:

Baylor was still tired because he had actually fallen asleep during rest time and I woke him up prematurely.  Mollie, on the other hand, just plum wore herself out.  And she wanted to be like Baylor, as usual.

They're not always tired, though.  Sometimes they've just gotta dance!

Lots of circles when they dance.  I have no idea how they don't get dizzy.

Mollie found this diaper box in the living room (I keep them to store stuff/fill and donate to Goodwill/etc.) and turned it into her own personal car.

Mollie also likes to jump wherever she can.

She's pretty good at it, too!

The kids don't mind taking their show on the road, either.  Mollie, eschewing dessert for a bowl of salsa and "a lot" of chips, likes to feed them to her babies every now and then.  (But don't ask her to share them with you!)

Her babies also get to play games with her; Jenna, the doll in the picture, even got to flip down the pictures while they played Guess Who!

I know a lot of this post has been about Mollie, but usually Baylor is right there with her playing and just doesn't want to get his picture taken.  (Or the picture turns out blurry, and he won't let me snap another one.)  The next picture is a perfect example of that.  Baylor brought up the bear and moose that typically reside in the downstairs bedroom at my parents' house where Baylor takes his rest.  He started giving the bear, his favorite, a piggy back/top-of-the-head ride, and Mollie jumped right in and gave a shoulder ride to the moose.  They spent a while squealing and galloping and smiling with their stuffed friends.  It was wonderful.

Life with a nearly-three year-old and a nearly-four-and-a-half year-old is a lot of fun and very busy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snow Blowing Dilemma

Last night, as my brother- and sister-in-law were leaving after picking up their kids (we babysat; it was super fun!), my brother-in-law commented that the snow was really coming down and that we should probably plow before bed and then again in the morning.  (Good advice, by the way, Gil!  Totally should have done that.)

We, of course, didn't do it last night; the kids needed to be put to bed, the dishes needed to be done, New Girl needed to be watched, and bodies needed to be rested.  So, after talking it over with Bryson, I decided to get up earlier than usual and blow the snow off the driveway before he had to leave for work, which was earlier than usual today because he has a regular Wednesday 6:00 a.m. meeting with people over in Asia he has to be at work for.  Before I went to bed, though, I posted a question on facebook in hopes to quell my anxieties about running the snow blower that early in the morning.  "Okay facebook friends, quick poll ... how bad would it be to blow the snow off one's driveway at 5:15 a.m.?"  I got a few answers before I hit the hay, most of which giving me the go-ahead to do it without worry.  Still, I went to bed feeling unsure as of what to do.

As I would have expected had I actually thought about it, I had a heck of a time sleeping; it was like an awful version of Christmas when you're a kid: I was anticipating having to get up in the morning and dreading it all at the same time.  When 4:45 rolled around, I was more exhausted than usual and still very conflicted about running the blower.  While I got prepared - snow pants, ski coat, ridiculously heavy-duty gloves, earflap hat, etc. - I fired up the computer to see if anyone else had chimed in on the issue.  One friend said her snowplow comes in the middle of the night, but that it has to be done so it's okay.  The next friend, though, said she'd be "mad-pissed if (her) neighbor was snow-blowing at 5 a.m." that a plow is "more acceptable (and quicker and less loud)".  That was, of course, the reaction I was dreading, and as I headed outside I still felt guilty at the noise I was about to create.

The garage door went up, and as I looked outside I knew I couldn't do it.  The snow was softly falling and the air was still and quiet.  No one else had their lights on, all the windows darkened as people slept a good sleep, and I knew in my heart I didn't want to be the one to destroy that.  I knew I felt just like that last friend who commented did; I would be furious if someone woke me up with their snow blower, and beyond furious if they woke up my kids.

So, I resolved to do what any normal person would do ... I shoveled five inches of snow off our entire driveway.

I did Bryson's side first as he was the first who needed to leave.  His side cleared off rather easily, though that was because I pushed most of the snow onto my side of the driveway.  As I started in on the mass of snow on the second side, Bryson came out.  He pointed to the blower quizzically, wondering if I had just been unable to get it started.  Walking up to the garage, I explained to him that I just couldn't do it, I didn't want to make all that noise.  Usually when I do something rather questionable, he looks at me with a geez-Nicole-are-you-insane kind of smile; he didn't smile this morning ... I'm pretty sure he was more irritated with my stubbornness and incredulous that I would shovel the whole driveway when our perfectly-good snow blower was right there.

He asked if there was anything he could do, and I asked him to get the monitors so I could finish up and still know the kids were alright.  Then he left, only the fourth car I had actually seen on the road yet this morning, and I knew I had done the right thing.  I finished up quickly, the whole job only taking about 45 or 50 minutes, and got inside.  Even just opening the door, it felt like a furnace in here.  As it turns out, you don't need to wear snow pants on top of sweatpants when it's 34 degrees outside; you're just going to sweat your ass off in the process.

I'm glad to have the driveway cleared off, though I know it will need to be done again later as the snow kept coming down as I toiled away.  I am wondering, however, how long it will take for my back to begin to ache after the effort; as it turns out, you really should lift with your knees, not your back (even though it feels pretty strange and a bit less-efficient).  Maybe one of my neighbors is a masseuse that would like to express appreciation for the extra sleep by giving me a free back massage.  We'll see.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 111

Today I am grateful to be a "no cavity kid".  I still go to the same dentist I went to as a child, and I used to get pretty proud of being up on the "no cavity kid" wall.  So even though I don't get to get my picture taken or get a prize after my cleaning, I still give myself a little pat on the back for keeping my teeth in good shape.

Have a wonderful day!

And make sure you floss!

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 110

Today I am grateful for the roof over our heads.  Though I may gripe about it at times, I know we are incredibly lucky to have such a nice home to live in; so many people have no homes or live in terrible conditions all across the globe, and I feel fortunate that my little family is protected by sturdy walls and a solid roof.

Have a wonderful night!


A couple Christmases ago, Baylor got chopsticks from Santa in his stocking.  He tried them once or twice but never really grew that fond of them; even though he really wanted to be like Bryson and use them when we ate Chinese food, he never got the hang of them enough to stick to it.  So when Mollie said she wanted chopsticks for Christmas, I was understandably hesitant to pass the idea along to Santa.  But, I did anyway and she got them for Christmas in her stocking this year.  Chomping at the bit to use them, we finally made our way to our favorite Chinese restaurant (Golden Wok) in mid-January.  I brought both kids' chopsticks in case Baylor wanted to give them another try.  And he did ... for a few bites anyway. 

Mollie, on the other hand, ate almost her entire meal, including seconds, using her beginner chopsticks.  She was so proud of herself, as was I, and she was actually really good with them right off the bat.

Ambidextrous, even!

Part of Baylor's problem this visit was that the MSU basketball game was playing on a TV right in his eye line, so we actually had trouble getting him to eat anything using his own hands; he was just too distracted with the game.  He did focus a little better when the fortune cookies, rice cookies, and oranges arrived; he is a sweets man, after all.

Mollie, fresh off her complete domination of her new chopsticks and the delicious chicken fried rice we had for dinner, reveled in a rice cookie.

We had a great time, and since then Mollie has been requesting Chinese food as often as she can.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 109

Today I am grateful that I was able to actually run nearly three miles this morning.  Three miles!  In high school I couldn't run a mile without walking at least once (and then feel like dying soon thereafter).  I was so excited about it I just wanted to contact my high school gym teacher, Ms. Host, and squeal with delight at my efforts.

It's a small victory to be sure, but I did it and I feel somehow stronger knowing I did.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 108 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that Baylor did so well at Grandpa Chris's birthday celebration last night.  I am also incredibly grateful that everyone understood Baylor's aversion to loud noises (and the "Happy Birthday" song in general) and kept all the singing so quiet.

It made a little boy (and his mom) so very happy.  So very happy to have one more step to increased comfort at birthday celebrations.

Have a wonderful night!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 107

Today I am grateful that Baylor had a good birthday celebration experience at school.  He told me that it wasn't so bad, that he only had to hold his hands over his ears (during the singing), and that he didn't hide under the table or cry.  (Yes, all of these things have happened during other school birthday celebrations.)  He even told me he thought of a relaxing/fun place like I had suggested beforehand.  (He chose Chicago; we will definitely have to visit there soon in celebration.)

Grandpa Chris's birthday party is tomorrow night, and I'm hoping that the positive experience today will make him even a little bit more comfortable about tomorrow's festivities.  We shall see.

Have a wonderful night!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 106

Today I am grateful for a large, white box delivered to me by our friendly UPS man.  (Who was, by the way, amused that I was so incredibly excited for this delivery.)  My whole adult life I have struggled to find shoes that really fit; I knew that I had relatively wide feet, though not wide enough to buy "wide" shoes, and that finding something that felt comfortable was unbelievably difficult.  I had had my feet "sized" by people over the years, and every time they said, "8.5 or 9".  So that's what I'd look for, inevitably frustrated at the fit ... somehow too narrow yet kind of sloppy at the same time.

Imagine my surprise, then, when two people within a span of a couple months tell me that my feet actually measure at a 7.5 length.  The first guy didn't really elaborate, but he helped me find a pair of shoes that fit well to run in and I was grateful for that.

The second guy, though, was happy to illuminate my situation.  (And given the look on his face, he thought it was rather humorous, too.)  Apparently, I measure at a 7.5 length, but my feet are so wide that finding a shoe that size would be nearly impossible.  Moving up to an 8 or 8.5 broadens the options a bit, but then you add into the equation the fact that my toes "are nearly squared off ... they don't come to a point" (his words, not mine) and that means that I have to buy shoes with a wide toe box.  Kind of like clown shoes (my words, not his).

Armed with new knowledge about my feet - an amazing discovery at 31, I'll tell ya - I hopped onto and began searching in earnest.  I ended up ordering seven pairs of shoes in the hopes that I could find one pair for house shoes and one pair for wearing out and about.  They finally arrived today in that giant, 13.8 pound box, and I am not sure I've ever been so excited to try on shoes before.

Trust me, that excitement wore off after the first pair were uncomfortably tight, but I plowed forth and found at least one pair of for-sure keepers.  They have made great house shoes this afternoon, and I am so glad to finally be out of my exercise sneakers; you can only wear those things for so long before you start to feel like you should be running everywhere, you know?  Some didn't fit at all, but three others are definite options (here, here, and here if you were wondering) and I'm looking forward to narrowing down my options in the next couple days.

Yay for new shoes!  I'm so grateful I can finally say that with such a sense of relief.  And so are my feet.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 105 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that I am working on getting onto more of a cleaning schedule.  The kids moved our kitchen bar stools into the living room to play with them the other day, and the felt circles on the feet (a.k.a., dust collectors) left a whole bunch of grey dust bunnies on the carpet.  After announcing that I would be vacuuming, Baylor asked me, "Is this spring cleaning?"

Yeah, it is so rare that I vacuum (among other things) that my son thinks that the simple act of vacuuming is a big spring cleaning event.

So, after this lovely little wake-up call, I'm working hard at staying on top of the cleaning around here.  It won't be easy; mealtime alone is a nightmare ... syrup, rice, crumbs of all shapes and sizes, among other things, seem to somehow be magnetically drawn to the floor and the counter top and people's shirts, but not their plates or bowls or mouths.  *sigh*

I digress.

I'm grateful this is happening.  I am grateful that this "big spring cleanup of 2013" will be the impetus for change around here.

Have a wonderful day!

Looking Like Her

A couple weeks ago I bought a couple of school memory books for the kids, and seeing them reminded my mom of the ones she had kept for us as we made our way through school.  While she had some trouble finding ours she did stumble upon her own from when she was a kid, and we had a great time strolling down memory lane with her.  Baylor seemed to only be half paying attention, so when my mom asked him who the person was in her 11th grade picture, Baylor took one look at it and said, "Mommy!"

It was the longest my mom's hair ever was, with a slight wave to it, and yes, I do look a bit like her.  At first I was a little sheepish at someone thinking I had stepped out of the 70's, but I doubt Baylor was commenting on my mom's clothes.  And yes, my hair looks a little 70's at times; I don't like to blow it dry or straighten it because it takes an eternity and I don't really want to take the time to do that every day.  But I do look a bit like her; she's gorgeous, so I should be so lucky.  (And if Baylor thinks I look 17, then that's all the better.)

Just for fun, I thought I'd add a couple more of her school pictures.  I forget what grade this is from, but it was so incredibly 60's I couldn't resist.

And this one is my favorite.  Just look at those little curls!

Thanks for the genes, Mom!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 104

Today I am grateful that things turned themselves around.  The day started off really rough; I was feeling overwhelmed and completely distracted, and I ended up crying in front of the kids.  It's weird to have two little people attempting to comfort you, one working extra hard because others crying makes him very uncomfortable.

Anyhow, slowly but surely the day turned itself around and we ended with smiles and hugs and a great meal, if I do say so myself.

On that note, I'm going to try to make tomorrow better by getting a good night's sleep now.

Sweet dreams and have a wonderful night!

Organization Win!

After the typical influx of toys at Christmastime, I decided it was time to do something about it and get some sort of organization system going for the mess that was quickly taking over the living room.  I searched and searched Amazon for just the right item, and I finally found this wonderful toy organizer.  It is twelve bins of organized awesomeness, and so far it seems to have gone a long way toward keeping things in check.  Whenever the kids want to play with something, they just have to take down the bin they want ...

... and play!

When they're done, they are expected to put the bin back before they take out another one.  And so far we've had pretty good success with it!

Here's hoping this trend keeps up!  Yay for organization!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 103 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that the kids and I made a mixed CD together yesterday!  We had so much fun doing it, and they were able to put a lovely eclectic mix together for our car ride to Holland with Oma and Aunt Christine.  (I did steer them a bit as we would have ended up with another copy of the Beatles' Number One CD and a bunch of Christmas songs if I hadn't, but for the most part it was all them.)

What does their CD sound like, you ask?  Here is the playlist!

1. Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
2. Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
3. Daytripper - The Beatles
4. Love Shack - The B-52's
5. Ticket to Ride - The Beatles
6. Particle Man - They Might Be Giants
7. Shake It Out - Florence + the Machine
8. Piano Man - Billy Joel
9. The a Team - Ed Sheeran
10. We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae) - Fun.
11. Let It Be - The Beatles
12. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
13. Here It Goes Again - Ok Go
14. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together - Taylor Swift
15. Twist and Shout - The Beatles
16. Istanbul (not Constantinople) - They Might Be Giants
17. Edelweiss (reprise) - The Sound of Music soundtrack
18. Hey Jude - The Beatles
19. Viva la Vida - Coldplay
20. Monday, Monday - The Mamas and The Papas

Gotta love a good eclectic mix!  It really does represent a lot of what they like now, though, and it is nice to have a record of their current favorites, a list that will undoubtedly change wildly over time.

Have a wonderful day!

P.S.  On a side note, the kids love Here It Goes Again more for the video than the song itself.  So here's what they are thinking of when they hear the song ...

They actually like this next video better, but the song itself isn't quite as dynamic as Here It Goes Again.

Okay, enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Real Naked Chef

Baylor got to help Aunt Christine make some dessert after his rest time a couple weeks ago, and he was beyond thrilled.  He was also naked, save for some underwear.  (Baylor has a tendency to strip off all his clothes during his rest time.)  Health code violations aside, he was ready to rock in the kitchen!

Baking with Baylor is always a laugh riot.

Sometimes it's tough to catch your breath.

But you do, and you stay on top of things or things will get away from you quickly.

But Aunt Christine is a seasoned pro at this by now, and she and Baylor worked some kitchen magic.  He even tried using the hand mixer; it only stayed at the first level so he wasn't too upset by the noise.

Must have the typical Maxey hold-your-tongue-out-just-so-when-concentrating.

Baylor and Aunt Christine make quite the duo in the kitchen, and Baylor loves getting to help out with such important work.

Have a wonderful, sweet day!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 102

Today I am grateful that I was able to start running again this weekend!  It feels so good to get back on the treadmill and really work out.  It's amazing how much a good run can wake up your body and mind for the day.

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 101 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that I was able to make a little headway on my mission to clean up my desk.  It is beyond messy, and it feels good to know that it is on the road to "recovery".

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 100!

Okay, who else didn't think I'd make it to 100 days?  I mean, don't get me wrong, I was certainly hoping I would; it feels good to be able to stick with something like this.  But I just didn't know if I could.

Today I am grateful for having stuck with this for 100 days and for two little cards we got in the mail yesterday.  (Of course, the mail got here so late that I didn't end up getting yesterday's mail until today.)  Anyhow, the kids each got a card from my Aunt Marty, who the kids often refer to as GG's sister.  They just love getting mail, and the cards were right up their alley.  Baylor is really getting into math, and his had a little Valentine's equation on it, and Mollie's had a bee on it ... which she thought was like the song "Let It Be".

I asked them if they'd be so kind as to let me take a picture of them with their cards, but Baylor was being contrary and would only let me get one eye.

Then Mollie, of course, had to follow suit.

They stopped to read them for a sec ...

... then they let me get the cheesy smiles.

Thank you so much, Aunt Marty!  You really made the kids' day.

And happy belated Valentine's day, everyone!

Have a wonderful night!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 99

Today I am grateful for the "100 kisses" Mollie gave me before bed tonight.  It was really like ten, but she was so sweet about it and it made me smile.

Sometimes it's the little things, you know?

Have a wonderful night!

The Snow Camel

With all the lovely snow we've had this year so far, we were bound to get one round that was ideal for snowman-making.  You know, the kinda-wet, easily-packable snow that falls heavy and just begs to be made into balls of all shapes and sizes?  The kids and I decided to capitalize on one such snowy day, and we headed out to enjoy a little snowman making.  The backyard had more undisturbed snow, a bit thicker than the front because it gets less sunshine and therefore melts less in between flurries.  The snow packed with little effort, my small ball picking up more and more snow as I pushed it down our bumpy hill.  By the time we made it to the bottom, it was the perfect size for the bottom of a small snowman.  In no time I made two more balls, suitable for the torso and head of our first family snowman.

The kids and I then began scouring what we could of the backyard to find arms, eyes, a nose, and a mouth for our new frosty friend.  It's amazing how much dexterity you lose when you have heavy snow gloves on, and as I sat there trying to push a tiny rock into the densely-packed snowhead I wondered how my parents seemed to do it with so much ease when we were kids.  Finally, after much fumbling and concentration, our snowman was built, smiling back at us in the backyard.  Two seconds later, Baylor stepped back and ran full tilt at the poor frosty guy, knocking him to pieces.  Two more smaller snowmen later, and I realized that Baylor sees snowmen as easy targets for tackling practice; we were done with snowmen for the day.

I could see the kids growing restless, but I was really hoping to really get as much as I could out of the time and effort I had put into getting us all dressed and out the door, so I offered to push the biggest snowball we had up the hill and into the front yard so we could maybe build a fort there.  Of course the kids were all over that, so I started pushing the ball, about the size of a basketball, up the hill.  By the time I reached the edge of the driveway in the front, it was almost up to Mollie's shoulders and weighed a ton.  Luckily, there wasn't too too much snow on the driveway and it rolled across that quite easily, and I plopped it right next to the cement with the little energy I had left.  Unfortunately, as I looked around the front yard, I noticed a surprising lack of snow; I had forgotten in just that short amount of time how much more snow there was in back than in front.  The kids badly wanted to build something, though, and since the driveway needed shoveling anyway, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and shovel all the driveway snow to the area around the giant snowball.  Bryson came home just as I was finishing up the driveway, and I had him run inside to grab the camera to document our time outdoors.

Sadly, there wasn't even that much snow on the driveway, so our fort-building snow was of a modest sum.  But, I did what I could with it, and soon the kids decided that I had built a snow camel.  

I tell you what, though, if you think you lose dexterity wearing snow gloves, just try putting snow mittens on your kids.  Their hands essentially become giant poking devices and little more.  Poor kiddos!  They seemed to want to help so badly.

I did try to make a fort and even got a window made, but the snow camel won out when there wasn't much snow left to build the rest of the fort.  Baylor loved looking through the window, though.

He also loved sliding head first down the side of the camel.  Funny little guy!

We finally used up all the snow in the surrounding area and decided to give our snow camel a try.

Not too bad, if I do say so myself!

Soon enough it was time to go inside for lunch, but Mollie wanted to try to sit on the original giant snow ball one last time.

We had a blast and were plenty ready for lunch once we got all our snow gear peeled off.  Hopefully we'll get another wet snow like this one yet this season!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 98

Today I am glad that Mollie's first dentist appointment went so well.  Besides them saying her teeth looked great and that she didn't seem to have knocked the front one loose when she fell the other day (which is what initially prompted the visit), she was much more comfortable there than I was expecting.  My mom was the one who initially brought her (Thanks again, Mom!) and I expected to arrive to see her clinging to her Oma.  But when Baylor and I walked into the room, there sat my brave little girl, sleepy time pals in her arms, looking almost calm.

Baylor and Oma ended up leaving, and Mollie was a total champ for the duration of her exam.  She tensed up a bit when Dr. Stewart came into the room, but she didn't cry or ask me to hold her; she just sat there like an old dentist-going pro.

I can tell she likes being a "big girl", and I'm so proud of her for it!

Have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 97 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that I was able to go to Baylor's Valentine's Day party at school.  (Pictures to come at some point.)  He was pretty anxious about the whole thing and was resistant to doing any of the activities at first, but I was able to coax him into it and I think he eventually had fun.

A couple girls were sad because their moms couldn't be there, and I so wish I could have comforted them in some way; I did try, but I think I was enough of a stranger to them that it just wasn't going to happen.

Still, we had fun and it was a good social experience for Baylor.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 96

Today I am grateful that Mollie seems to be okay after falling head-first off one of the bar stools at my mom's house.  She was readjusting in her seat when she lost her balance and tumbled off.  As one would expect, she came up bawling, all red in the face with tears everywhere, and it took a little longer than usual to calm her down.  But then, as she was winding down her cries, she sobbed, "Don't let Baylor eat all the apples!"  Aaaannnd we knew she was okay.

Still, I called her doctor who gave me a good idea of warning signs to look out for and how to deal with her nap.  They wanted me to wake her up 20 to 30 minutes into it and make sure she could recognize me, then she could drift off to dreamland again.  So, 25 minutes into her nap, I trudged up the stairs, slipped into my old room, and tried to wake her.  I didn't want to jolt her awake and may have been a little more gentle at the outset than I usually might have been were I just trying to wake her up, yet I was still a little concerned that she wouldn't wake up right away.  It took a bit of nudging to get her to wake up, and even then she wouldn't say my name.  I'd ask her what my name was and she'd plop her head back on the pillow.  After a few tries, I told her that I wouldn't leave until she told me my name.  Still, she laid back down.  Finally, I said, "Mollie, what's my name?"  And, perturbed, she looked at me and said, "I don't know, Mama."

That's my Mollie girl.

I know we're not out of the woods yet, but that gave me a little confidence going into the rest of nap time.  Here's hoping!

And I hope you have a wonderful afternoon!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 95 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that Baylor woke up in an awesome mood.  Mondays aren't easy for anyone, and getting up in the morning when you have a cold, even just the end of one, is not fun.  So when he was cheerful and happy to see me this morning, I was thrilled!

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 94 (a day late)

Today I am grateful that I was able to sleep in this morning.  Am I thrilled that I'm just now eating at 9:15 and  haven't put on my contacts, showered, or dressed for the day yet?  Nope.  But this cold is really taking its toll on me, and I'm hoping that the two hours of extra sleep I got this morning will help shorten its duration.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

That's What They Said: The At-Home Restaurant

Today Baylor asked us if we wanted to eat at his restaurant.  Mollie and I jumped right in, and Baylor had us seat ourselves at the dinner table.  Our adorable little waiter came to the table and asked what we wanted to eat and drink.  Here's how it all went ...

Baylor:  Welcome to my restaurant!  What do you want to eat?
Me:  Well, what kind of a restaurant is this?
Baylor:  Italian.  (smiles)
Me:  Oh, well then I'll have the lasagna.
Baylor:  Oh, well the lasagna has a lot of garlic.
Me:  That's okay!
Baylor:  Um, we don't have any.
Me:  Okay, well what do you have on your menu that is low in sodium?
Baylor:  Garlic bread.
Me:  That's it?
Baylor:  Yup.  (pauses)  But our pizza is delicious!
Me:  Okay then, I'll try the pizza.
Baylor:  What kind do you want?  I forget what you like on it.
Me:  Green peppers and onion, please.
Baylor:  Okay, what for a side?
Me:  Can I have breadsticks?
Baylor:  No, we don't have any.  Only garlic bread.  We do have applesauce.  Do you like applesauce?
Me:  Yes, I'll have that.  And a water with no lemon.
Baylor:  (grimacing)  Do you want ice?
Me:  Yes, but not too much.
Baylor:  Oh, I will have it crushed up for you!
Me:  Thanks, buddy!
Baylor:  And what do you want for dessert?
Me:  Oh, I'd like to wait until after I'm done eating.
Baylor:  Okay!  (starts leaving)
Me:  Wait, don't you want to get Mollie's order?
Baylor:  (smiling)  Yeah!  Mollie, what do you want?
Amalia:  I want pizza.  Cheese.
Baylor:  Okay, and for a side?
Amalia:  Breadsticks.
Baylor:  We don't have breadsticks.  You can have applesauce, if you want.
Amalia:  Yeah!
Baylor:  Okay!  (heads off to the living room to put in the order ... encounters Bryson)  Daddy, do you want to eat at my restaurant?!
Bryson:  Um, sure?
Me:  Come in here and sit with us!
Bryson:  Okay.
Baylor:  (smiling)  Daddy, what do you want to eat?
Bryson:  What kind of restaurant is this?
Baylor:  Italian.  We have great pizza!
Bryson:  (smiling)  Okay, I'll have pizza.  What kind should I get?  Can I just share with Mommy?
Baylor:  Um ...
Me:  Well, what size pizzas do you have?
Baylor:  Sixteen inches.
Bryson:  Whoa, well I'll just share.
Me:  And we'll just have half cheese, half green peppers and onion.
Baylor:  Oh, sorry it's a fourteen inch.
Bryson:  (smiling)  Okay, we can still share.
Baylor:  I mean it's a twelve inch.
Me:  Buddy, do you want them to be personal pizzas?  Like we each get our own?
Baylor:  Yeah.
Bryson:  So like a nine inch?  (Baylor nods)  Okay, then I'll have a pepperoni and onion pizza.
Baylor:  What do you want to drink?
Bryson:  Water, please.
Baylor:  Okay, but our milk is really fresh!
Bryson:  (smiling)  Good selling, buddy!  Sure, I'll have some milk.
(Baylor scurries away and brings back our imaginary pizzas.  We "enjoy" them.)
Me:  Wait, Baylor can I get a dessert?
Baylor:  (smiling)  Yeah!  Here is the menu!  (holds up an imaginary menu)
Me:  Oh, buddy, it's so far away I can't read it.  Will you tell me what's on it?
Baylor:  Sundaes!
Me:  Yeah, what else?
Baylor:  Ice cream!  One hundred flavors!
Bryson:  So sundaes and ice cream ... anything else?
Baylor:  Nope!
Me:  Okay then, I'll have a sundae.  What are the flavors of ice cream you have?
Baylor:  (grinning ear to ear, running circuits around the house, and yelling ...)  One!  Two!  Three!  Four!  Five!  (continues counting all the way up to one hundred)
Me:  (after I finished giggling)  Alrighty, I'll take number one hundred.  As a sundae, with chocolate on it.
Baylor:  We don't have any chocolate.
Me:  Oh, okay.  Well, do you have caramel?
Baylor:  (grinning)  Yes!  We have caramel.  Do you want whipped cream?
Me:  No, thank you.
Baylor:  Do you want a cherry?
Me:  No thank you, I don't like them very much.
Baylor:  (looking baffled)  Okay, no cherry.
Me:  By the way, what flavor is number one hundred?  Will it go well with caramel?
Baylor:  Yup!  It's vanilla!
Me:  Awesome.
Bryson:  Can I have some dessert, too?
Baylor:  Sure!
Bryson:  I'll take number ninety-nine with caramel on top.  What flavor is number ninety-nine?
Baylor:  Vanilla!  Flavors one to one hundred are vanilla!

He then proceeded to tell us where he gets the caramel from, but I'll spare you the details.  Needless to say, he's got a funny, blooming imagination.  I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

Friday, February 8, 2013

That's What They Said: Oh Really?

Baylor: I leaked a lot once today.
Bryson:  I heard, buddy.
Baylor:  You did?
Bryson:  Yeah.
Baylor:  Did you hear about it on TV?
Bryson:  No, it didn't make the local news.

Me:  Mollie, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Amalia:  A caterpillar.

Me:  Mollie, are you just pretending to go to your pink house?
Amalia:  No, I am real-ing going, Mommy.

A Year of Gratitude: Day 93

Today I am grateful that Baylor had a snow day, though not for the reason you might imagine.  He is still working his way through a cold, and I am grateful that I didn't have to make the hard decision about whether or not to keep him home again this week.  He already missed Wednesday and was bummed that he was missing out on the fun the class was having.  I probably would have kept him home today, making him miss the dinosaur finger painting exercise he was so looking forward to, and I was glad that the school district made the decision for me and made it so he wouldn't miss a thing.  Thanks, Northview!

Have a wonderful day!

The Kids These Days: 2.5 and 4 Years

Well, well, well ... I am finally getting around to writing this, nearly four months after starting it.  I realized that Mollie will be three years old in just under two months over one month now (yes, I've been trying to write this for that long), and she's not technically even two-and-a-half anymore.  *sigh*  The good thing is, all the things I was going to write about still hold true, so that's something, right?  Anyway, here goes ...

Amalia, my little lady, is now two-and-a-half years old, a fact she is actually able to tell you about now.  She is really easy to understand and seems to have a wide vocabulary, but there are still words here and there that she mispronounces.  She used to have a bunch, but slowly they've been replaced by correct pronunciation and quite frankly it makes me a little sad; I miss her calling water "yaya", sleep sheep "beep beep", and the like.  All it took was a quick correction by me and the cute little toddler talk vanished, and while that's great I am - rather selfishly - choosing not to correct some of her mistakes just yet.  For example, she just butchers the word "your"; it comes out something more like "thurrr" and it's adorable.  Plus, people don't know what she's saying, so right now I can get away with it if she insults someone - which she has been known to do.  (More on that later ...)  She also says "bobbin" instead of "bottom" ... cute beyond words.

So, the insults ...

A little while ago a new person came to our house for a visit, and as per usual, Mollie wouldn't speak a word to her.  After the woman left, Mollie looked me right in the eye and said, "I didn't like her face."  Yeah, she said it.  I was shocked, to say the least, and she followed it up with, "I didn't like her face and I didn't like her."  At that moment I was intensely grateful for her shyness, otherwise I could totally see her saying that to the person's unappealing face.  (The woman's face was actually quite pretty; I think that's just how Mollie was expressing her discomfort at having a stranger in the house.)  Ordinarily, though, Mollie is quite complementary.  Really, I swear!

Recently, Mollie started saying, "When I get tall like Grandpa E ..." and finishing it up with what she is looking forward to doing when she is older.  Grandpa E is the gold standard in our family for those who want to be tall, so I can't blame her.  (Trust me, I wanted to be as tall as him - which is about 6'3" - when I was a little girl; at 5'4" I clearly fell a little short of the goal.)  And her list of things that she'll do when she's as big as he is includes potty train, drive, and like certain foods.

My lovely girl has, blissfully, decided to skip the whole princess phase and declare herself a queen.  Yes, a queen.  She proclaimed it one day as she was wearing a pink floral corduroy dress from back when Christine and I were kids (literally ... it was one of our dresses; Mom saved it) and was feeling particularly fancy - it has poofy sleeves and lace around the collar and wrists, after all.  A week or so later we decided I would be the queen mum.  And it is wonderful.

Amalia has an imaginary brother named Andy-brother that she speaks of frequently.  I am apparently not Andy-brother's mom and Bryson isn't Andy-brother's dad so I'm not exactly sure how they are related, but she thinks of him as a brother all the same.  He is of varying ages depending on the day, though she often makes him younger than herself.  She also, occasionally, has a sister named Mollie.  Andy-brother and imaginary Mollie live in my Mollie's imaginary pink house.  She created it in her mind months ago and talks of it regularly.  Baylor also has an imaginary house, blue of course, where his imaginary brother lives.  He is also of varying ages and often gets to do things Baylor wishes he could do (e.g., drive a car).

Mollie has three dolls now that she cares for on a pretty regular basis, Sally, Colin, and Adele.  She loves to pat them, put them to bed, feed them on occasion (Colin spent the bulk of one day in a high chair "eating" a salad, a.k.a. a piece of play lettuce), and so on.  She's very caring and considerate with them and often likes to take them all out with us.  I usually put the kibosh on that unless we're going to Oma's house, and then it's an adorable free for all as Mollie tries to figure out how she can carry them all to and from the car (one of our rules for Oma's house is that if you're going to bring something, you have to be able to carry it yourself ... I have enough bags to carry, thank you very much).  When it was just Sally, before she had really taken notice of Colin and Adele who have been around longer, she used to have her sleep on the glider in her room and would kiss the "boo boo" on her forehead (a blue mark left by an errant toy no doubt) and both of her eyebrows.  It was adorable and so sweet.  Now that there are three of them, she's less consistent with where they sleep, typically either bringing them into bed with her or leaving them downstairs altogether.

Dear Amalia isn't all sugar and spice, though.  She has a stubborn streak a mile wide (wonder where she gets that from ...) and has been known to throw a fit every now and then.  Her favorite and most signature move is a general slumping of the shoulders when she is displeased with something.  It's very dramatic, though it elicits more laughter than sympathy at this point.

Both kids hate it when I make dinner every night, mostly because it means I can't go play with them in the living room.  I try to get them to keep me company in the kitchen coloring or reading, but they can only do that for so long before they get restless.  (I am one of the slowest cooks in history, able to stretch a "15-minute meal" into a two-hour long ordeal.  They have time to get bored, believe me.)  For a while there, they would both freak out any time I would pull my hair back in a pony tail (like I do when I make meals), with Mollie often moaning, "Don't make dinner now, Mommy!"

Mealtime in and of itself is a bit of a test of wills and patience at this point.  They both tend to be kind of pokey eaters who would much rather talk than feed themselves.  We often end up feeding them, though for Baylor especially this seems a bit ridiculous; we've tried to just let them feed themselves, but then dinner ended up being hours long and even more torturous.  The best nights are when we have some of their favorite foods, as those tend to be the nights that they actually scarf down whatever I've made.  Lately those favorite foods are tortellini, pizza, and - Mollie's favorite - tacos.  Sadly, I don't feel comfortable just keeping those three foods in constant rotation, so we have to endure slower-eating nights quite often.

Mollie and Baylor are both digging The Beatles something fierce right now.  We listen to their number ones CD on constant repeat in the car, and they have their favorites they look forward to hearing (Mollie loves "Ticket to Ride" and Baylor loves "Daytripper" and "Hey Jude").  Every time I see the track number display flip back to "1" I heave a small sigh, but then I remind myself that we are listening to The Beatles and not Kids Bop or The Wiggles or something else equally annoying and I smile.  John, Paul, George, and Ringo, I salute you!

Baylor is really getting into reading these days and has started up some chapter book series.  We started out with the A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy, but we stalled out at G when they didn't have it at the bookstore.  (Yes, I buy him the books ... for a few reasons.  One, he can be hard on books, and as we've already returned a few library books damaged I didn't want my card revoked for the rest of eternity.  Two, he actually reads and rereads them all the time; his "rest time" consists of him sitting in his bed reading books for an hour or two and most of the time he chooses chapter books.  And three, I'm hoping Mollie will get into them someday, and it'd be nice to have them already on hand when the time comes.  Plus, she loves just about anything Baylor loves, and I'm hoping to use that to my advantage when it comes to getting her to love reading.)

Anyhow, I digress.

He is now working his way through the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne, having received books one through four for Christmas.  These, and the aforementioned mystery books, are great, but they are for a bit more mature of a reader than a four year-old so we've had to do a bit of explaining and a bit of calming down when things got too intense.  (He had a particularly rough time when a T. rex was introduced in one of the books.)  On the upside, he's learning some pretty impressive words like "precipice" and "samurai", and our dictionary is getting a workout.

Baylor is getting into the whole Star Wars thing, though he hasn't seen any of the movies yet.  He initially became interested in them when he saw a bunch of cool-looking Star Wars sets in a Lego catalog, but his interest was piqued even more when I checked out a copy of R2-D2 and Friends at our local library; he spent about four weeks (I renewed it once) pouring over it and memorizing it with little effort.  I'm looking forward to watching the movies with him someday, but I am pretty certain he's too young for that right now.  All in good time.

Speaking of Legos, Baylor still loves them.  (Shocker, right?)  He has a bunch of sets, but he rarely does them by the instructions anymore.  Instead he prefers making "Baylor originals" or "creations" as he calls them, occasionally referencing the instructions for tips on how to make this or that.

Baylor is also into the cash register he got from Santa this past Christmas.  It has a bunch of educational games on it, and from those Baylor has learned all the names and values of the coins and is working on learning how to add and subtract.  It's pretty amazing to watch him at it, and for something that most people would consider a bit too "educational" Baylor really seems to find it fun.

Baylor is a very glass-is-half-full kind of kid.  He's always looking for the silver lining in any situation.  Your team didn't win?  Don't worry, the other one did!  I don't want you to read the story tonight, Daddy, but you can snuggle with me!  On top of that, he's always looking for the best in people; he doesn't want anyone to be mean or hurtful.  Take this recent interaction as a prime example ...

Baylor, after his rest time, told me he wanted to be a villain and I would be the hero.  I was pretty surprised by this as he's only recently been even remotely open to the idea of good guys vs. bad guys, so I agreed.  However, I had to go to the bathroom first, so I told him I'd be right out to play.  While I was in there, I could hear him scamper into the kitchen, read a magnet off the fridge, laugh, and run away again.  After I finished up, I paused at the desk to check my e-mail.  All of a sudden he cackles at me and slams the French doors right next to the desk saying, "I'm locking you out, Mommy!"  Then he blew raspberries on the door for good measure.  I asked, "Are you being the villain?"  He grinned and said that he was, then he told me that he had stolen something and pointed to the magnet from the fridge I had overheard him reading.  I smiled then dashed around the stairway and into the living room and tackled him.  "You got me!" he shrieked, then he sat up very seriously and said, "I am sorry for stealing that.  I will be better in the future."  Worst.  Villain.  EVER.  And I love him all the more for it.

He's also quite complimentary.  Quite often he'll come up to us and say something like, "I like your shirt!" or "I like your hair!"  It's super cute, and it's nice to see that he understands how complimenting someone makes them feel good.

But believe me, Baylor isn't perfect; he has his quirks and issues just like the rest of us.  For example, he is not a morning person.  Let me repeat that ... he is NOT a morning person.  On non-school, nowhere-to-go days, I let him sleep in as long as he likes; he needs the sleep, so I'm happy to just let him go.  School days, though ... ugh, school days.  He really needs to be woken up by 7:00 so we can leave sometime around 8:20 and make it to school on time, and waking him up then does not guarantee that we won't have to hurry.  Sometimes he's so tired that he grabs his blanket and pillow as I'm scooping him out of bed and proceeds to lay his head down at the breakfast table.  *sigh*  High school is going to be a real treat, I can already tell.

Baylor also, for whatever reason, likes to try out just about every public restroom he runs across.  If we're eating at a restaurant, you can almost guarantee he'll have to use the potty at some point, most of the time just so he can see it.  And while restaurant bathrooms are certainly his favorite, he isn't above "needing" to use the potty at Costco or Target.  Unfortunately, he hates hand dryers, so we have to do a lot of careful observation when we first enter a bathroom to prepare for the possibility that he'll have to endure the noise of a dryer at some point.  (Costco is definitely the worst for this; he ended up crying in the stall the other day because they have those terribly loud Dyson Airblade hand dryers and the bathroom was busier than I had realized.)

My little man has a bit of a love/hate relationship with the homework he gets in preschool.  He usually has fun doing it once he starts, but man does he put up a fight to get there.  It's been getting a little better as of late, but now we have a new problem: for a while he was writing his name on his paper just as he should (okay, maybe a little bigger, but whatever ...), but now he has decided to be artsy with his "signature" and creates little stories with the letters.  Oh look, the L is holding the O and R!  Or hey, the B has a hat on!  I often want to write a note with each assignment to let his teacher know what is going on in each crayon stroke, but I try to refrain and let Baylor's work speak for itself.  I have a feeling I'll be fighting this urge for many years to come.

Both kiddos have been testing their boundaries lately, and it's getting a little tiring for me.  I have a pretty firm "whining will not get you anything" stance, and have for quite some time, but recently they seem to have decided to test my limits.  Just how far can we push Mommy until she caves?  Unfortunately, it often ends with them crying a bit and me feeling a little guilty over holding my ground.  I feel so strongly about them not being spoiled and getting their way all the time, though, that I'm willing to endure a little unhappiness if it helps them cope with disappointments later in life.  *sigh*  But that is a much larger issue for another post - should I get around to writing it.

So that's it!  Actually, that's just the tip of the iceberg with the kids; there is so much more to them than I can really relate here.  But I want to hit the highlights of how they are now so that someday, way down the line, I'll remember their sweet little selves at two-and-a-half and four.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Year of Gratitude: Day 92

Today, right now, I am grateful for sleep.  Sleep and knowing that when I wake up in the morning, the kitchen will be pretty clean, by my standards anyway.

Sweet dreams and have a wonderful night!

A Year of Gratitude: Day 91 (a day late)

Today I am grateful for the kids itching to snuggle with me.  Baylor's a bit under-the-weather and Mollie is ramping up her mama's girl side for whatever reason, so they both felt the need to be near to me today.  And I can't say I mind it one bit.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Legos, Baby Care, and Snow!

Baylor has an amazing amount of Lego sets for someone his age, so it wasn't overly surprising when he got a duplicate one for Christmas.  We returned the duplicate to Target and actually found a really cool car and camper set to replace it!  I think Baylor really likes that it opens up.

Mollie is very into taking care of her babies these days, and with our old dolls at my parents' house, Mollie almost has her own little daycare center going.

After a nice dinner, Christine and Baylor settled in to work on the garbage truck set he has at my parents' house.

While Mollie and Oma admired and played with his handiwork from earlier.

As usual, we had a nice little evening, and when we got home it had started to snow.  The kids watched A Charlie Brown Christmas on pretty heavy rotation during the holiday season, so they were pretty excited to finally try to catch snowflakes on their tongues.

It was so sweet to watch them give it a try, and it was nice to be able to just sit back and enjoy a little simplicity before bedtime.

Hope you're enjoying the winter as much as these two are!