Thursday, October 27, 2011

You Know You Want To

BREAKING NEWS! As of 1:49 EDT on Friday, we are now at 10 people and 15 kits. I'm going to limit this to 15 since it is the holiday season and all (if you don't believe me, check out your local craft store). We. Must. Limit! Everyone else, you're in. I'll be sending out emails soon. And seriously, check out that picture of Ollie. I mean, really. It's awesome.

One pin on Pinterest led to another and what did I find? Only the second-coolest swap idea ever (second to the quiet book swap, of course). Jen from this blog did a swap for a toddler's "busy bag." I'd never heard of one before, but when I saw what she had in it, I wanted it.

So who is in? You: make x number of kits, mail them to me along with $10 to cover shipping (unless you're local and it'll be free!). Me: make my own set of kits, receive everyone else's kits, distribute, and then remail to everyone! Jen did 20, but with mail and all, I don't think that would be feasible.

If you want in, just leave a comment. If you think it's too busy of a time with the holidays and all, let me know and I'll think about doing it again later. But maybe having it now just in time for winter will be a good idea. Anyway, just comment and tell me you're in because, hey, it'll be awesome.

Again, for clarification. You would pick out which "busy" kit you'd like to make (see the above link for examples, but certainly you're not limited to this). However many people are involved with this swap is how many kits you'd make (as of Friday morning, that's seven). You'd have a couple of weeks to do this. Once you're done, you mail your completed part to me in Maryland along with money for shipping (probably around $10 for the priority flat mail box.  If I didn't charge you shipping, I would lose a lot of money, something I'm not willing to do). I'd assemble them so that everyone has one of each kit. Then I'd mail them back. Let me know if this doesn't make sense.

P.S. Look at this totally awesome picture of Ollie. Doesn't he look like he's being attacked?! And yes, this is his Halloween costume. Any ideas as to what the rest of us are being?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It Will Get Easier, Right?

I'm wondering if I'm laboring under a great delusion. I have never been shy to admit that being a mom to little kids is quite difficult for me. There's a lot that I don't like about it (the acting, the playing with Little People, the wiping of bums, the broken sleep). Of course there is a lot I do like (the cute baby voices, the cuddliness, the new baby smiles), but really, it's hard for me.

So I've been thinking about ways in which my life will be easier once the boys are older, and here's what I came up with:

1. Because it's on the brain, camping. No middle of the night feedings when it's freezing cold and dark. Ability to take longer hikes. Ability to take hikes without kids strapped to you. Backpacking! Need I say more?

2. Feeding. Older kids can feed themselves. If they're hungry, they can get themselves a sandwich or yogurt or an apple or whatever. Then they can clean up after themselves. I also have hopes that they'll be better eaters with better palettes.

3. Running. I am so excited for Saturday morning runs with my boys and weekday morning runs without them.

4. Shopping. Grocery shopping, while certainly more expensive with growing boys, will be accomplished without kids during the day.

5. Crafting. I know that as kids get older, bedtimes get later so I might not have my three-hour block at nighttime, but still. They'll be at an age where they can entertain themselves. (And by "entertain" I mean "do homework.") Or I'll just do it while they're at school!

6. Full-day outings. Certainly now I am committed to naps for both kids, but I am pumped for the day when they don't need them. Doing things like going to the zoo, visiting Smithsonian museums, hiking, or taking other day trips will be so much easier with kids who don't need naps. Sure, I'll occasionally forgo a nap now, but because Rhett still needs them, we pay for it in whininess and tears and tantrums.

7. Hanging out with them. As expressed, sitting on the floor with cars or blocks just isn't my favorite thing, no matter how much I love my children (all the way to Pluto and back, just in case you were wondering). But going to soccer games, school functions, back and forth to mutual, all sound like my kind of things.

8. Dating my husband. At a certain point, Rhett will be allowed to watch Oliver without requiring a babysitter. That means dates with Chuck will be more regular and frequent and free. Hopefully we'll still like each other then. Heehee. (Maybe we'll have to keep up that annoying kitchen dancing.)

9. Bathrooming. I won't have to constantly ask if they need to go to the bathroom. I won't have to wipe a bum after they go poo. No more diapers!

10. Driving. No more car seats! No more strap buckling! Heck, at some point, they'll be able to drive me!

Okay, wow. I should just stop now. It seems like everything will be easier. Maybe the only thing I can think of that will be harder is just the feeding of two teenage boys. So I'm sure I'm missing somethings where it will be harder. Cajoling kids to do homework? Suppressing teenage boys' hormones? What?!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Maryland State Park # 2: Cunningham Falls

In my quest to camp at all state parks in Maryland, we went to Cunningham Falls this past weekend. Except for last year when we were rained out, we've camped on this same weekend in October since we've been married thanks to the Maryland version of UEA. Love it.

We had perfect, if not a little cold, weather. And really, a little cold is always better for me than a little warm. In addition to great weather, we had great company. This year, three awesome families joined us. (And no, I'm not just saying this because I know some of the co-campers read my blog.) Normally when camping, Chuck and I turn in around 7 p.m., willing ourselves to stay awake until at least 8.  But because we had others joining us, we stayed outside and chatted and played games and froze and it was seriously so fun. Plus, I love love love seeing Rhett play with his friends almost as much as he loves playing with his friends!

While the preceding week was a bit difficult and going camping for just 24 hours is never easy, it was definitely awesome.

I'm pretty sure Ollie was the warmest of all of us.

Here are the four oldest kids eating breakfast. Sarah was kind enough to make Mickey Mouse pancakes for Rhett and he loved them.

Always with the Bruno bacon tongue.

Ollie was slowly sinking down in this photo shoot.

How Ollie spent the hike.

Exploring the waterfall.

Rhett still asserts his position of "no pictures until I'm four." But we still assert ours of "We don't care. You're getting your picture taken anyway."

On the hike.

Taking a rest stop with my little boys.

Look how pretty Maryland is in the fall. It's what keeps me here in the summer and winter.

I told you: Rhett is forever looking sideways. We thought for sure he'd fall asleep in the car on the way home, even placing a friendly wager between husband and wife on it. We both lost as he made it the entire way home awake. Oh well, at least he napped once we got home.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Latest Projects

Now that it's getting colder, we thought Ollie might need a couple of sleep sacks. They also might keep his little legs from escaping through crib slats.  Can you guess which fabric I chose and which fabric Chuck and Rhett chose?

One morning Rhett asked me for a cape. Since he loves being a vampire, I thought the skull fabric would be perfect for a cape so I whipped one up. Now to make a super hero mask to go with it.

My fun cousin Emily initiated a fun little craft swap and this is what I made for Shauna: a couple of necklaces for her and bow ties for her little boy.

Some time ago I made some library bags for two of my nephews. A friend of my sister saw the bags and commissioned me to make one for her little girl. I am super pleased with the use of the cute corduroy.

A fun Halloween wreath modeled after one I saw on Pinterest.

Once Ollie had a name, I could finish his stocking.

And more ties for another friend's baby. Gosh these things are addictive.

I've started on my Christmas gifts, but don't want to share those just yet. Going camping today--wish us luck!

And because it's been too picture of Oliver.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Things Rhett Says (and an update)

After I told him a pretty botched version of "Hansel and Gretel" where the only part I got correct was the part where the witch wants to eat Hansel and Gretel.
Rhett: Why does she want to eat them?
Me: Probably because she likes the taste of little kids. I like little kids. Maybe you'll be tomorrow's dinner and Ollie can be our lunch.
Rhett: No! That would bleed me! Don't you love me?

Chuck and I were channeling our ninth-grade selves and dancing in the kitchen while Rhett finished his third bowl of pasta. And just in case you were wondering, no, you couldn't have fit a Book of Mormon between us.
Rhett: Please stop dancing. It's really annoying.

Rhett: How much do you love Jesus, mom?
Me: Oh, Rhett, I love Him very much.
Rhett: I love Him more than you do.
Me: How do you know?
Rhett: Because He gave me [looking around...] that bucket.

This kid. This funny, energetic, forever-acting kid. While I am enjoying cuddling and snuggling with the small one, this big one sure keeps me laughing. For the first three weeks of Ollie's life, Rhett was fine because Chuck was home and we could play one-on-one defense. Then my parents came and the odds were even better if you were a little one! Rhett ate it up (although he did get a little too comfortable with them and started acting out just a tad before they left). But when it was just me with the two boys during the day...hoo boy. Rhett was not happy. Like five-or-more-time-outs-a-day not happy. It was not pretty. Was it because he was 3.5 or because he just had his world rocked with the arrival of Oliver? I'm sure both. We had some pretty rough nights where everyone in the house was in tears (well, maybe not Chuck).

But oh how much better it's gotten. Rhett still understand he can't really play with Ollie. But he's become so much more patient with us as we tend to Ollie's needs. And not only more patient, but it seems like he's grown up a lot too. Finally some of the things we've been teaching him have started to sink in.

For example, he's become a much more resilient boy. This quality is very important to me. I want Rhett to be able to rebound when he's disappointed. To hear him say, "That's okay, Mom" instead of having a tantrum on the floor just warms my heart.

He's still acting and it's still driving me crazy. But it's part of who he is and he loves it. He's especially into acting as Halloween characters: ghosts, vampires (good vampires who don't drink our blood and bad ones that do), whatever. He absolutely loves Halloween...and candy corns. Too bad his mom eats the whole bag before he gets a chance to have two.

He's becoming more and more independent: changing his clothes without help (sometimes) and going to the bathroom are his biggest accomplishments. But also helping with getting Bruno his breakfast and clearing his plate after dinner.

Oooh dinners. There's something that I could change. If it's not "noodles with white sauce" (pasta alfredo) or pizza or something with syrup, he immediately doesn't like it. He can eat three bowls of noodles or three tiny bites of pork chops and both fill him. And since I know he won't starve, sometimes all he gets is those three bites. But it's a struggle for all involved.

Overall, however, we've got one happy kid in our house. Because Maryland requires not only kindergarten, but full-day kindergarten, we think we'll need to put him in some sort of preschool next year. Registration for preschool starts in January, and it's already freaking me out. Who said my kid could be old enough to go to preschool? Who said my kid can turn four? Who said they wanted their kids to grow up? Oh right. Me. I guess I just don't always feel that way.

P.S. I just found out that sometime in 2013, there will be a Wal-Mart about 1.5 miles from my house. I don't know why, but I can't stop thinking about this. I'm not excited, but am so curious to know how it will change life in my small neck of Montgomery County. So weird.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It Takes a Village (at least for me)

When I posted about my struggles with infant Ollie, it had been a hard couple of days. I'm sure what I am experiencing is no different from most peoples' experiences with a newborn; I just like to complain more than most.

Happily, things have improved. Ollie is back to once a night wake-ups and we have made a concerted effort to make sure when he cries at night it's due to hunger and not just something else. (Isn't it amazing the difference between once a night and twice? Seriously, with once a night I'm not at all tired during the day. But twice? Omy.) We've found a way that makes us all happy to deal with his rolling. He's napping pretty well during the day in the crib, and we'll keep him in the bassinet with us at night for a little while. We have every reason to expect good things. Life is good...and getting better!

But I'm just amazed at how helpful and caring my friends are! Just knowing that people care and want to help is, well, helpful. And just knowing that others have gone through the same struggles is again helpful.

I'm saddened that we don't live in a village-like atmosphere anymore. I think I could have done very well with that. I still have dreams of living in a cul-de-sac filled with my friends. We'd have bar-be-cues weekly, babysitting groups so I could date my husband, craft nights, girl nights, co-op preschools, running groups. And think of everything we could help each other with! Where I have talent, I can help you. Where I lack, you can help me. We'd know that we're not alone and that everyone hopes for the best for everyone else. Doesn't that sound lovely?! Yeah, I thought so too. Now let's just all find a cul-de-sac where all the homes are for sale. Then we'll all move there and all our problems will be gone. Who's with me?

This bunch of crazies is welcome in my cul-de-sac anytime. In fact, their presence is required. (Nikki and Frederick, just because you're not here, we still expect you.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Random Thoughts

Now that I've found Pinterest, I am so done with Facebook. Not really, but I rarely check FB anymore and am quite addicted to Pinterest. It's such a great way for me to store ideas and find new ones.

If I could be on any HGTV show right now, I'd totally pick "Curb Appeal." I saw the most amazing redo recently,  and I want my house to look like that. (If you want to see the exact makeover I reference, click on the link and then click on the episode titled, "Great Enough." So beautiful.)

Related to home improvement, we're getting new countertops soon! They're being manufactured as I type and will be installed within the next two weeks. Turns out I don't like granite, so we chose a concrete instead. But it's not regular grey concrete; it's special concrete with river rocks in it. So seriously beautiful and cool. Can't wait. Until then, we're enjoying cutting on the current countertops...without cutting boards! Cutting boards be danged!

My use of "danged" just there reminded me of a recent SNL sketch about Mitt Romney. They  parodied his Mormon swear words during part of it, but clearly they didn't do their research. I mean, "shucks," "fudge," and "cheese and crackers?" We don't talk that way. Where was "fetch?" Try again, SNL.

If Rhett could choose three foods to have every day they would be (1) pasta with alfredo sauce, (2) peanut butter sandwiches, and (3) some sort of chocolate as a meal. I would have French toast, but not sure what else. I really love French toast.

Do you think it would be horrible to give trick-or-treaters glow sticks instead of candy? I saw the idea in the paper and think it's not a bad one. Those things cost about ten cents a piece and we don't get that many kids. We'd spend about as much on candy and these things are still cool, unlike pennies or toothbrushes.

It's not set yet, but we might have the coolest summer plans ever: spend 3-4 weeks at my parents' house! (Sadly they won't be there; happily they'll be on a mission.) I think I'm okay to work from there part-time (someone's got to make the summer money) and being there that long would give us so much more time to see people and do things that our usual one-week trips prohibit. But what to do with Bruno? I don't feel comfortable asking people to watch our dog for an entire month nor do I feel comfortable putting him in a kennel for that long. Pug on a plane, anyone?

I'm looking for recommendations for workout videos. I have the Jillian Michaels one, but get bored doing the same one day after day. Let me know if you use one you like. Anyone try the Insanity ones? We have them and Chuck and I might give it a go.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ollie Update

Remember when I said it was about as good as it gets? Well, it's getting bad. I feel like Oliver's nighttime sleep should be lengthening, but it's not. In fact, he's waking nearly as often as he does during the day. This does not a happy mom make.

Our big problem is this: he's rolling over. He starts on his back and then rolls all around, often ending up two feet and perpendicular to where we initially put him. More often than not, he ends up with his face in the side of the bassinet (see below) or with limbs sticking out of the crib and face directly in the slats. This does not a happy baby make.

There are so many problems with his nighttime sleep and I don't know even know where to start. First, where to put him. Up until now, he's been in the bassinet in the basement just outside our "master suite" (it makes me feel fancy). During the day, we've been able to nap him in the crib in the room he'll eventually share with Rhett. But as we've seen, the bassinet sleeping is getting tricky. We've nervous about SIDS and suffocation with the padding in the bassinet. But I'm also nervous about broken limbs and woken brother with the crib.

Second, how do you stop him from rolling? I think some of the problems of multiple wake times at night are due to him rolling and not liking where he ends up. Then he thinks, "Well, I'm awake so I might as well eat." But when he does half a regular feeding, I know he wasn't that hungry.

Third, he won't be swaddled any more. Those [insert my maiden name here]-thighs are too strong and he kicks out and then the blanket ends up all over the place. Since we try to keep nothing in the crib but baby, this becomes a problem. I feel like if he was swaddled, we might have a better chance.

Once again, parenting is kicking me in the butt and reminding me that I know nothing and worse yet, that I have no control over anything. I'm tired and frustrated and missing my old life. I love my babies, and I may be breaking some sort of mom code when I say this, but here I go: Oh, how I do wish they'd grow up quickly.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Weekend

Our annual pumpkin day turned into pumpkin weekend this year. We did the pumpkin activities on Saturday and feasted on pumpkin food on Sunday.

Saturday was the trip to the pumpkin patch. First was a ride on the tractor pull. (Chuck is happy to have Ollie around because he got out of having to wear a matching jack o' lantern shirt.) I now understand why my mom did this to my sister and me.

Ollie clearly loved every second of it.

The little ones with their pumpkin loot. Rhett loves his green pumpkins and insisted that Ollie's was also green...but smaller. Done!

Sunday morning we made pumpkin french toast. If you plan on making it, do it! It was fairly mild in taste, but the spices were yummy. Of course, pumpkin bread as snack during the day. And after dinner, pumpkin shakes! (Whoa. They made up for the "hint of pumpkin" flavor from the morning. It tasted like drinking pumpkin pie.) Can you imagine if I hadn't been able to find pumpkin? The horror.

A note about Rhett's refusal to smile in pictures: He told us during the hayride that we can't take his picture until he's four years old. He said that once he's four he'll want to smile for pictures, just not when he's three.

Friday, October 7, 2011

ISO...Preschooler Who Wants to Share a Love of Little People and Noodles with White Sauce

Is it just me, or has mail gotten lamer and lamer? I love getting mail. Sure, junk mail is junk, but magazines, packages, letters, wedding and birth all brings such joy. Living at the end of a route only heightens the excitement because I have to wait all day to know what will be brought to us. And now that I don't really get bills in the mail, it's either junk or good! Unfortunately, it's mostly junk.

I'm sad that Rhett will never experience such happiness from getting mail. I'm sure his joy will be replaced by some newfangled thing, but it won't be the same. So I thought, what about getting Rhett a little pen pal? You know, someone his approximate age with whom he can correspond on occasion? So, anyone want to volunteer their child? I was thinking it should be someone who doesn't live in Maryland and is about his age. Certainly Rhett can't read nor write, but I can transcribe and he can draw pictures. Does anyone (or, more likely, anyone's kid) want to be Rhett's pen pal?

Is this totally lame? Is this one of those things I'm doing more for me than for him?

Penultimately, a note from management: It's come to my attention that some were offended in the way they may have been portrayed in Wednesday's post. Plaintiff avers that he, in fact, was looking for the actual Moody Bear, not the bear's house. I'll give that to him. He also avers that he did not "pore over" the room, but rather "glance over." I will refute that. When it was revealed to Plaintiff that I found the bear after a one-second look into the playroom, he was visibly and audibly aghast. His aghastedness tells me that he really looked, because if he had merely glanced, as he asserts, then he would not have been so surprised.

Finally, some fun pictures. We took the chariot for its debut ride the other day (we've had absolutely perfect weather). I love this picture of Rhett because it's so him. The sideways glance is something I'll always remember, and hope he does it forever. And a picture of a smiley baby is just fun.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Can You Find Moody Bear? Because Chuck Can't

Within the first year of marriage, I realized I'd married a man who can't find things. It doesn't matter where the things are (pantry, cabinets, closets), he struggles in all areas. For example, the other day we were trying to clean up and find Rhett's "Moody Bear" game thingy. We were all looking everywhere, but without luck. We even looked under the couches. This was serious. I made one quick trip to the playroom and SURPRISE! I spied it immediately. Mind you: this is a room Chuck had already pored over, searching for that blasted Moody Bear.

So now it's your turn. First I'll show you what Moody Bear looks like:

(Yes, yes, technically this isn't Moody Bear, but rather his house. So sue me.)

And here's the playroom exactly as it was when Chuck unsuccessfully looked for the bear. I'm going to bet that you can find Moody Bear, so please just tell me how long your search took. (And yes, you're allowed to click it to enlarge.)

P.S. I'd like to thank you all for the thoughts and prayers for our family during this very difficult time. You know, the difficult time of "no-canned-pumpkin-in-the-stores-whatsoever." All your prayers were answered yesterday when I found it at Safeway. I bought 12 cans and plan on buying more. Wait, what's that you say? You weren't praying for pumpkin for our sad family?! Hmmm...Prayer really seemed like the only logical explanation since I'd been looking for so long. Regardless it's MINE, all mine. [Cue evil laugh.]

Monday, October 3, 2011

Two Months!

The little one is two months old. I am happy to report that time is moving much more quickly with Oliver than with Rhett, which for this non-baby woman, is a good thing. He's doing great. Sleeping, eating, and being awake--he's mastered them all. Sometimes he requires being held to get to sleep, and if it's after Rhett's gone to bed and before I do, I won't complain. I love just staring at him, wondering, "Who are you in there? What kind of person are you going to be? Mathematical, like your Mom and Dad? Or someone totally different?" I love the excitement of watching kids as they unfold, and he's no different.

Two-Month Stats:
Length = 22.75" (50th percentile)
Weight = 10.75 lbs (37.5th percentile)
Head Circ = 15.33" (37.5th percentile)