Sunday, August 30, 2009

Statuesque Kids

Unfortunately my 2 older kids like to play this game where they pretend that Leora is "the monster." They run away from her and she chases after them, blissfully unaware that she's supposed to be the "bad guy." I guess it's nice that they can all play together in some form, but it won't be so nice when she catches on...

Anyways, a couple days ago I was nursing Kai in the living room when Gregory and Charla came zooming in, taking refuge on the couch from Leora who was giggling a few paces behind them. She climbed onto the couch, waiting to see what exciting thing they would do next.

Then Gregory had this stroke of brilliance and whispered to Charla that they should be statues! They froze in similar poses, eyeing Leora, as if waiting for her to give up finding them and move on. Instead, she thought this was fun, too, and froze as well, grinning broadly.

I was laughing SO hard!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Tough Decision

Gregory goes back to school this coming Monday! I can't believe the summer vacation is over. Somehow I feel like SO much happened, yet feel terribly guilty for not maximizing the time I had with him home better...

Posing with a picture he drew for his new teacher at the Open House this week. He adores Mrs. Brown already!

We've decided to have Gregory repeat Kindergarten. Academically, he's right about where he should be for 1st Grade. We've discussed and prayed about this long and hard, and just can't shake the feeling that he needs another year to mature before advancing a grade.

His birthday is 2 weeks before the cut-off. We hope that by allowing him to be the oldest in his class, he will be less likely to succumb to peer pressure and have more opportunities to be a leader and (hopefully good) example.

(Enjoying popcorn at the Open House)

He will also have another year to better master the curriculum, so that he will be less likely to be playing catch-up for the rest of his school career, or even possibly end up repeating a grade a few years down the road.

We're grateful that the school allowed us to make the ultimate decision, despite some of the educators opposing the idea. It just feels right. And he's excited about it, too! I was worried about broaching the subject, but he immediately responded, "I LOVE Kindergarten!"

On a similar note, we have Gregory and Charla scheduled for sleep studies next month. They both have huge tonsils and snore a lot. The snoring I can handle, but they're often very difficult to wake up and I think some of Gregory's struggles to focus at times, and Charla's short temper may be aggravated by poor sleep. I'm hoping that we'll be able to get them tonsilectomys, in an attempt to make life easier for everyone, especially them. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Resourceful 2-Year Old

I had to devote a post to my Leora in honor of her determination to get into mischief...

(Luckily the last occupant had flushed the toilet!)

A couple months ago she discovered that the little chairs that came with our little Disney Princess table can easily serve the alternative purpose as a stepping stool! This has enabled her to get into all sorts of trouble, although luckily never anything harmful...

("washing" the dishes)

My kids are unfortunately often picky eaters, so we try to supplement their less-than-satisfactory diet with Carnation Instant Breakfast drinks. As you can see, Leora utilized her chair trick to dump and mix a couple packets together. We caught her pinching the powder in her little fingers and blissfully licking them. I wanted to be mad (it's not cheap!), but I grabbed the camera instead.

On this day I heard Charla yelling at Leora and came into the living room to this- my toddler chugging down what was left of the juice! Maybe she has a future as a poster child for Juicy Juice...

This picture just cracks me up every time I look at it! I guess it's pretty self-explanatory.

We've recently moved the table and chairs upstairs into the girls' room. I didn't snap a picture of it, but I found my resourceful little girl dragging her potty chair out of the bathroom to use as a step-stool, which I confiscated and returned the the now-closed bathroom.

She is such a little firecracker!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Leora Turns 2!!

My #3 has officially entered her Terrific 2's! I can honestly say that because I don't think she's officially entered her menacing-tantrum-throwing-stubborn phase yet... She's still fairly compliant. May she ever be so.

Most of her birthday happened the day before, on Sunday. While she took her nap we baked her cakes (a personal sized one and one for the rest of us) and the kids helped decorate. It was SUCH a blast!

(first balloon he ever blew up)

("Decorating" the tree with old party hats)

(I am an AWESOME photographer- I snapped this right as the streamer broke in 2... crazy cat.)

Gregory helping to set up the Disney Princess dome tent I found at Good Will for $2- I was pretty proud of that find. I also figure it's about time she be let in on the Princess obsession dominating our house. After all, we call her our "Baby Princess".

Decorating was SO fun. The kids took turns pointing to wear I should start one streamer and then where to tape the end of it. They also chose where to put the "Happy Birthday" banners, and put a lot of thought into where to put party hats from my box of party supplies I've accumulated over the years.

(the actual original cake mold from my own toddler years... I stole it from my mom when I moved here)

Quick great/painful story:
For my 3rd birthday my mom painstakingly frosted this cake into Birthday Bear with a star tip (like I frosted Leora's) - it was perfect! During the birthday party, my best friend Christian, and I, kept sneaking away from the games to lick the frosting off the cake in the fridge. By cake time, we had scraped off almost all the frosting. A sheer miracle that I am alive to tell the tale.

The instructions are about a 1/4 century old, so it didn't clearly say how much batter I needed. When one cake mix barely filled it 1/2 way, I quickly mixed another batch (I didn't have another of the same flavor) and added it, leaving a couple inches from the rim, and using the remainder to put in my mini-bear tin for Leora.

When I checked about 1/2 way through baking I was SHOCKED to see the batter flowing out of the top of the cake mold like gloppy lava!

heehee- looks like the Care Bear had a nasty accident... how appropriate- I plan on starting Leora potty training next week when Gregory goes back to school.

I LOVE this picture- as I frosted the cake, occasionally I would squirt a dollop of frosting on the kids' hands. They were very enthusiastic about getting more!

SO, after going through all the trouble of baking the cake, I wanted to spend some quality time frosting it, but the cake-eaters were getting impatient. Then my stroke of brilliance- I sliced the sitting bear in half so that I could frost the front at my leisure for her actual birthday the following day, and people could still eat cake on Sunday!

It started as a joke, inspired by the chocolate bottom. In the end we were laughing to tears, "diapering" the face-planted Care Bear in white frosting, hoping the brown tail would look like a cute lil' tail and not... something less appetizing.

I had refrigerated the frosting in the decorating bag, so it was SUPER hard to make the stars of frosting on Leora's little cake. After finishing the front, I figured Leora wouldn't care if the whole thing was frosted, so I didn't bother with the back :P BTW, it was all Gregory's idea to make her a kitty cake.

I needed to borrow a few ingredients from a neighbor, so I invited them to come help us eat our copious amounts of cake. Unfortunately, they were unable to make it. Charla waited for them faithfully by the stairs, finally zonking out. She ended up sleeping through the presents and most of dinner!

When we got Leora up she came down the stairs, all bubbly and happy as usual. She was SO excited to see the closed tent, and then wasted no time trying to pull out the gifts when Gregory revealed them!

She was so psyched about the little wagon, that once she freed it from the tent, she just took off down the hallway, pulling it behind her! She probably would've been happy without any other gifts!

Good big brother, carefully pulling her along. She's definitely easing into that princess role easily!

Gregory was VERY eager to help unwrap the presents! Practicing for next month, I guess

(Our awesome assortment of table decor: Princess table clothe, Winnie the Pooh cups, and Valentine's Day plates)

(Right before she bravely blew out the candles)

Enjoying breakfast in her tent the next day, ON her birthday

My finished product- I was pretty pleased :)

Leora, on the other hand, was not nearly as brave ON her birthday. The candles scared her. She burst into frightened cries and fled the table.

Aside from her reaction to her cake in the end, the whole birthday experience was a ton of fun for everyone. Now to brace myself for mountains of laundry next week...

Monday, August 17, 2009

False Alarm = Good Practice

So the forecast for this week predicts a 30% chance of rain every day. Around 4:00pm yesterday I could here sirens from the base, but I couldn't make out any dialogue, so I figured it must be an operation on base.

Imagine my surprise when my neighbor burst into my house to grab her 2 girls who were playing with mine, and informed me those sirens had been a tornado warning and that the base had already taken cover (I'm STILL getting used to this part of the country.. grr). I had noticed BLACK clouds rolling in and noted the rain and wind pick up a bit, but it never occurred to me that it may be indicative of severe weather!

SO, I throw my kids in the downstairs bathroom and race around the house, grabbing an assortment of things. The kids were understandably anxious, especially when I grabbed the cat and held on to her while collecting essentials- they kept asking what I was going to do with her. I was afraid she's scamper out of reach if I put her down.

Of course, the one thing that was eluding me was my cell phone. By the time I found it (in plain view on top of the TV) it had been about 5 minutes. Kai was crying in his bouncer, and the other 3 were trembling. When I plopped down on the bathroom floor, one crawled into my lap and the other 2 snuggled into me as closely as they could.

Not even 3 minutes passed before I got a phone call- it was that same neighbor. Get this... turns out it was NOT a tornado warning- it was the siren for "We're under attack!". Come to find out from Fred later, it was accidentally activated. *groan*

All this week the ENTIRE base is enduring drills and roll-playing and simulations to see whether they are truly prepared in case of eminent danger- I know ALL about it because Fred is his unit's UDM (Unit Deployment Manager); the guy in charge of this operation. Let's just say the past couple months leading up to this have been a bit stressful... ok, that's an understatement.

ANYWAYS, ironically, the storm DID peak during my rushing about, making the trees thrash around pretty violently, rain pelting the house super hard, so I totally believed my neighbor!

Gregory was very concerned about our "stuff". I considered trying to explain renter's insurance to him, but instead tried explaining that the most important thing was that we were safe, and that we could replace any possessions that could get destroyed.

I've decided to view this whole thing as a blessing- a very realistic trial run for next time, should there ever be a next time. I think having a basket, box or bag of stuff ready to go in an easily accessible place is a must.

Here's a numbered picture I took after the "all-clear". It's kind of funny seeing what I figured was important enough to grab... and realizing what I forgot (like important/legal documents and water) :

1. 2 big blankets
2. My beloved Canon S5 IS
3. Baby bouncer
4. cordless phone (not much use if power went out)
5. sippy cups
6. milk for the kids
7. battery operated lantern
8. kids' books, to wile the time
9. case of kids' DVD's (I gave up finding the laptop- later Fred pointed it out in the main hallway)
10. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows... reading for me
11. nursing wedge (coolest nursing invention EVER... deserves its own blog post)
12. loaded diaper bag (behind Charla)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yet Another Blond Moment

So, here's another laugh at my expense...

Anyone who has nursed knows what a "let-down" is. For those who may not know, it happens a few seconds after your baby starts nursing- you get a tingly feelings in your bosoms, like you get when your feet fall asleep, as the milk is "let down" for the baby. Unfortunately, this happens on both sides at once.

I forgot to insert breast pads yesterday, so when I went to nurse Kai during the first block of church meetings, I was relieved that I didn't get the tingly sensation after he latched on. Of course, as luck would have it, I DID have the let down, as evident by the enormous damp spot dominating the left side of both my shirt AND over-blouse!

With 15 minutes left until Primary, I didn't have time to go home and change shirts. So, I wadded up some paper towels and stuffed them under my shirt, hoping to soak it up, which did seem to help.

Of course, once Primary got underway, I was so preoccupied with the kids that I didn't realize that the paper towel was STILL wedged in my shirt, until we had started the last block of meetings! I had a good laugh at myself, hoping the open blouse had concealed it :)

Leora's First Haircut

I put this off for a long time. She'll always be my baby girl and I knew if we cut her hair, it would instantly make her look older :( BUT, it was all different lengths and in her eyes if we didn't put it up, so I finally made the trip out to our favorite kids' salon, Cookie Cutters.

(on the indoor slide at the salon)

(I want THIS one!)

It all went pretty quickly- in fact, they only charged me for a trim. She chose her seat, sat reasonably still and with a few snips, my baby princess, as we call her, officially looked like the little almost-2-year old toddler she is. WAAH!

(being distracted)

They gave me a few barrettes to separate her bangs from the longer hair. I think the bangs help frame her face nicely. I'll probably eventually let them grow out, but for now they're just cute.

(see me?)

I did bribe her with promises of french fries from McDonald's, which she didn't let me forget, even as we were walking out with her balloon and a big smile :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Work BBQ, plus Blond Moment Du Jour

Yesterday we went to a BBQ for Fred's work by the lake on base. It was a little toasty (you AZ people may balk at me, but there is something to that humidity thing), but it was still fun!

(cooling off in the discarded ice near the end- yuck. Fred took this one)

Fred's unit reserved one of the log cabin dining halls and a few shelters. They also had a corn hole game set up (I somehow never heard of the game until we moved here).

(I love this shot)(view from the deck- pretty good, huh? *wink)

The biggest highlight was getting to meet Fred's new commanding officer, Lt. Colonel George Govan, and his wife Bianca, who he met in Germany. I think she was relieved to meet someone here who speaks German. They have a cute lil' 2-year old together who is bilingual. Made me feel pretty guilty that my kids aren't.

So my fantastic blond moment...
There was a playground nearby, so I let my older 3 go play, making Gregory promise to keep an eye on his sisters. We were visiting with the Govan's at that time. Over the course of our conversation, the kids would come and go. Sometimes the girls would ask to be held for a minute and then they'd go to play again.

At one point I looked at the playground to take inventory of my kids and couldn't find Leora. I anxiously scanned it again, but she was no where in sight. I yelled at Gregory, "Where's Leora?!" He looked around and shrugged. I angrily yelled it again, taking off to the playground. He just gave me a puzzled look.

Then I realized why.

I was holding her.

I was relieved, but sure felt foolish, right there in front of Fred's boss. I hope he knows what mommy-brain is!

Afterward we treated the kids to ice cream cones from McDonalds, to reward them for their good behavior at the picnic. It was all in all a nice experience, although it was nice to relax in our air conditioned home afterwards :)

(out along the lake's shore)

hehee... my own little Shadow Charmer Gregory and Fairykind Charla. If you've read the Fable Haven books, you know what I'm talking about.

Can you guess what pose he's striking?