Monday, September 29, 2008

Mix-it-up Monday: Clean up Cards

I have been reminded again this week of how incredibly uncooperative kids can be sometimes. Remember how I talked about putting together a poster this week as our activity we were going to try? Um...yeah. This is how far we got:

Please note that the drawings haven't been glued to the posters yet. *sigh*

So while we (or at least I) tried really hard to get the posters finished, it just didn't happen last week. We're going to keep working at it this week though. Hopefully we'll have finished products to show in a day or two. A couple of pointers if you decide to do something like this:

  • Give them something specific to draw. When we first started out, I told them to draw pictures of some of their favorite things. I got whole sheets of paper back with tiny little drawings on them. In the end I gave them half sheets of paper and told them to fill it up with a specific favorite thing (favorite color, food, animal, toy, etc.). It worked a LOT better.
  • For smaller kids with short attention spans, do one drawing and then come back to do another one later. I just could not keep Alyssa focused on drawing for any length of time (even though she will sit and do that by herself ALL DAY long). Plus, I wanted it to be fun so I wasn't going to tie her to her chair and force her to sit there until they were all finished (even if I wanted to at times...)
  • Keep the magazine pictures to a minimum if you choose to use them. I really wanted the girls to be able to draw out their own items rather than just look them up in the books. For some things, we will come back to the magazines, but I feel like they are getting more out of the activity if they actually get to draw the items themselves. Plus, it's difficult to find all the right items in the magazines, depending on your supply.

It really has been a fun activity though. It's a good way to get to know your kids' likes and dislikes, even if you think you already know. I was surprised with a few of the things they picked, and a few of the things they didn't pick.

Although we didn't least we didn't completely tank. With Saturday's trip to the Zoo, we still managed to fit in an activity that we haven't done for a while.

This week's activity: Making the clean up cards described on my friend SuburbiaMom's blog, HERE (scroll down to: #2 Toy Card Game). I'm looking for anything to get the kids excited about cleaning up. Hopefully this will do it!

Did you try something new this week? If you did, let us know what it was and how it turned out!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Talk to the Animals

This weekend we had a chance to talk to all sorts of wild animals. After we got all our work (okay, MOST of our work) done on Saturday morning, we made an impromptu visit to the Zoo. We didn't pick the best day to go. The place was packed with people since they had their annual fund raiser that morning. But the weather was nice and we got to see quite a bit in the short amount of time we had.

Matt with the kids by the giraffes. (The giraffe
walked right behind his head just as I snapped the picture.

One of the guides showing the girls a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.
(Yes, the ones they ate on Fear Factor. Yes, Alyssa actually touched it.)

Me, McKenna and Liam on the train

Matt and Alyssa on the train

The girls had a great time, minus the part about not seeing a hippo. (Kenna was really disappointed.) We did get to see the white alligator though. A good opportunity since I guess he is going home to Louisiana next week and there are only 10 of them in the world. The rest of the weekend was filled with this animal....

I am teething! My gums hurt...

Showing off the new teeth he sprouted about a week ago...

We had a great weekend!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Splash Park

I love it when Matt's sister Tanya comes for a visit for lots of reasons. One of them is that we get to do fun things like this:

Erin, Harley, and McKenna

When Aunt Tanya came to town about a month ago, we took a bunch of the cousins to a near-by splash park. We had such a great time!

Kenna and Lyssa chillin' in the sun

It was a perfectly warm and cloudless day. The water was cold, but it didn't seem to bother the kids too much, especially the boys. They spent almost three hours running around in all the different fountains, splashing each other, and sunning themselves on the warm concrete.

Jerem, Alyssa, Liam and Matt playing with the fountains

Logan, Jerem, Tanya and Erin

Kenna, Jerem, Logan, Erin, Alyssa, Harley and Liam getting warm

Even Liam got in on the fun. He didn't like the cold water very much, but he was happy to be carted around and be close to where all the action was with the other kids.

I had never been to a splash park like this before, but I certainly want to go again. It works out much better than the pool since I have a hard time keeping track of all three kids by myself. (I REALLY need to get the kids signed up for swimming lessons next summer...)

Thanks for getting us all together Tanya! We've always got a place for you whenever you can come visit!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ring any bells?

We were treated to some especially good news today. Dad has been responding so well to the chemotherapy that he gets a break! His PSA is down several hundred points (to 250!) and the lump in his neck is completely gone.

As a tradition in the hospital where he receives his treatments, outgoing patients get to ring the bell on the day of their last chemo treatment and everyone cheers for them as they head out the door.


We are looking forward to seeing some hair covering up that bald noggin' for the winter time. (He and Liam are going to have a race to see who can grow hair the fastest!)

Guinea Pigs

My parents were the unwitting subjects of one of my culinary experiments last night. I had called them on Sunday to see if they wanted to come over for dinner. But my sister Lori beat me to the punch (Curses!) so we had to take a raincheck until last night.

Wonderful people that they are, they consented to try a new recipe I came up with, but that might have more to do with the fact that their kitchen is currently being torn up (to install new tile!) and they can't get to their appliances to make their own food. Either that or the irresistible pull of grandchildren, take your pick.

While Grandma and I chatted and cooked, the girls dragged Grandpa around the house and up to their room. Apparently they told him all kinds of stories about the planets like how Mercury and Venus ran away to get married. How sordid! (They have been a little obsessed with planets lately. Kenna even had her own "Planet Day" a few weeks ago where we were only allowed to do planet related things all day. We didn't get to go to the "Plantearian" like she wanted, but we did watch our Planet documentary DVDs and she drew planet pictures ALL DAY.) Poor Grandpa.

We had won tons made with ground turkey, baked instead of fried. They turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. There are a few minor tweaks that I will make to the recipe (thanks for the suggestions mom!) but I will definitely make them again. It was a good change from the normal routine, and Alyssa scarfed them down (it's a major accomplishment to get her to eat anything these days).

After dinner, the girls insisted on Grandma and Grandpa staying long enough to watch a movie. We picked one of the Wallace and Grommit shorts, during which Kenna acted as a play-by-play announcer and built-in laugh track. (Her giggle is so contagious!) By the time it was over, it was getting late and Grandma and Grandpa had to go. We were sad for them to leave (i.e. the girls SOBBED as they watched them drive away) but happy to have them come over.

I'm so glad that we live close. The girls ADORE them and I miss them so much when they are away.

Besides...who else would have agreed to be my guinea pigs?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mix-it-Up Monday

Matt made some bread with the kids while I was at Church yesterday. (Really...can they PLEASE get over all these illnesses already?) It was so nice to come home to the smell of nice warm bread and the girls loved being able to do something new and show off their handiwork. It kind of solidified an idea I've had bouncing around in my brain for a little while.

A little while ago I brought up how extremely boring I am as a mom. As we have been trying harder to plan more activities and projects for the kids, I have noticed how much we are all enjoying the extra FUN time together. It has been so good for all of us to get out of our comfort zone and try some new things.

So here's the idea...Every week, I want to do a project or an activity with the kids. On Mondays I'm going to be posting our activity/project idea for the week in an effort to make sure I follow through due to the threat of public embarrassment. If you want to come along with us we're always happy to have company. If you have any ideas you've tried or want to try, we could certainly use some of those!

This week we're going to let each child make a poster about themselves...with pictures, drawings, whatever they want to put on it that has something to do with them. I was able to get a bunch of old magazines from my sister that I plan on letting them go through and cut up to find some pictures, as well as letting them pick some of their favorites of themselves from the ones we've taken.

We'll post some pictures when we're done. Do the same if you end up doing the project as well, and let us know so we can come take a look!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Fall Cleaning

There is something about the Fall that inspires that "Spring Cleaning" feeling in me just as much as the Springtime does. As the whether has cooled off a little, I've been feeling the need to clean things out and get the house in order. And as usual, there is always more to get done than we have time at home together for. In an effort to make a small dent in all the projects, we had to divide and conquer.

I was finally able to get Liam's 6 month pictures taken today (shut up, I know he's 7 months old...he's been sick.) He was kind of tired by the time they got around to actually getting him in front of a camera, so he was a little more reserved than his normal smiley, talkative self, but they still turned out pretty well. We had to alter plans a little bit since Lyssa is still nursing her cough and (as we found out with YET ANOTHER DOCTOR VISIT yesterday) a sinus infection. I will have to get her 3 year pictures done later, hopefully in the next couple weeks.

Matt stayed home with the girls to work on getting the garage fixed up. When we purchased the house, we were so excited that the garage was already built out with shelves on both sides. Great, we thought, a place to put Stuff. Turns out when you have a place to put Stuff, you can't park both cars in the garage and still get the doors open. This is a problem with three small kids that you have to get in and out of both cars every day. So, some of the shelves on one side of the garage are going away and of course, all the boxes and Stuff that is still piled on the floor of the other side of the garage must be gone through and put away. (Shut up...I know we've lived in the house over a year. Don't you still have boxes you haven't unpacked?)

The Stuff (note the Jeep parked OUTSIDE the garage...)

He took a bunch of boxes in the house so the girls helpfully unpacked and put away some of the books while daddy was busy with the power tools outside. He was able to get the shelves that are staying reworked and one of the sections that needed to go removed. Lots of progress!

In true daddy fashion, he purchased ice cream for his little workers. The Scary Ice Cream Van that cruises around our neighborhood looking for children to abduct sell ice cream to happened to drive by while they were out working. (Seriously, have you seen these? Large 15 passenger van with some stickers slapped on the side and annoying music...looking all suspicious and child predator-y? I refuse to go outside when I can hear it nearby.) But the kids loved the ice cream, as evidenced by the fact that they were COVERED in it when I got home. There were a few other projects that got started - getting the food storage organized after case lot month, cleaning out the kids drawers of clothes that are too small, cleaning out the boxes from the garage - but for one reason or another we couldn't get finished. (It would be so nice to have at least one whole day we could both be home all day together!) Hopefully the Fall Cleaning bug sticks around long enough for us to get the rest of our projects done!

p.s. I TOTALLY forgot to post this on Saturday night after I got sidetracked while trying to upload the pictures...I AM A DORK.

Friday, September 19, 2008

I have a friend!

I saw this over HERE the other day and had to share it (if only so no one thinks I'm off my rocker when I start singing it). Listen to the whole thing and really pay attention to the words...I promise it's worth it.

(Check out the guy rockin' it in his blue shoes and orange guitar...and the guy in the group of background singers that looks completely ashamed to be there.)

When you get done go HERE and read all the comments. Also very funny.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Three going on Thirteen

Alyssa has acquired quite the attitude - perhaps it's because she turned THREE a couple weeks ago (how do they grow up so fast!) .

Some of her recent comments:

Said in the most pitiful, little kid voice you can imagine: "Daddy...*sniffle* you have something I could use to wipe my tears away?"

After being told to go get her socks so we could help her put her tennis shoes on when she wanted to wear her sandals: "But that's not the POINT."

Holding her Cabbage Patch Baby and walking up to daddy while he's doing the dishes: "This is my baby. Her no like you. Her spits at you. Pffft."

After being reprimanded for being mean to her sister: "I don't want to live with you any more Mommy." Then when I asked her who she wanted to live with then she says, "With you. I don't want to live anywhere else. WAAAAAH!"

After being told she couldn't have a cookie unless she finished her dinner, "You're the meanest mommy ever!" (I really didn't think I would hear this until she was at least 10...surprise!)

Whenever she's mad at McKenna for something: "SISA!" (She can say "Sister" perfectly fine, but when she's angry it gets shortened to this...)

For such a petite little thing, she definitely knows how to hold her own. Her sister has felt her wrath on more than one occasion; especially since she has an uncanny knack for knowing just how to push people's buttons and Kenna is usually the victim. (This frightens me...I am not looking forward to her teenage years with anything resembling JOY.) She has also mastered the fine art of sucking up (especially to daddy) complete with batting eyelashes, hugs, and anything else she thinks might butter you up.

Most of the time though, she is sweet and happy and willingly plays whatever role Kenna has assigned to her in their make-believe world of choice for that day. Her starring roles include Luke (from Star Wars), R2-D2, Darth Vader, the prince (from any random assortment of fairy tales), the stereotypical villain (from whatever story they happen to be obsessed with at that moment) and many others. (Should I be concerned that she generally plays "the bad guy" or even "the guy" for that matter?)

She loves to dance and sing, draw and color, play with her "cash dollar" (otherwise known as a cash register), and play on the computer. Cooking is a favorite as well. We can always expect her to climb up on the stool and ask to help whenever we are making something...even if it is cereal. She is amazing at puzzles and obsesses over them. Her giggle is infectious and her curiosity is insatiable.

We have greatly enjoyed these three years of getting to know her, and hope to have many more.

We love you, Bug!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm baaaaaaack...

What a crazy few weeks it has been! Wanting to leave the post about Stephanie and the auctions at the top of the blog for a little while has been a good excuse for focusing on some other things.

We seem to have been plagued by sickness...Four visits to the doctor in one month! Kenna was in once for a foot we thought might have been broken (X-rays were clear!). Alyssa was in once for a nasty cough. We found out she has some asthma that makes the cough deeper and stick around longer (still has it despite the prescription). And Liam has been in twice, once for an eye infection (eeew, goopy green eye) and on Monday for an ear infection. The last time we were in the doctor's office (Monday), I asked our pediatrician whether they had a frequent flyer program. Sadly, NO. And even more sadly he said that even if they did, we wouldn't qualify. I would have thought for sure we qualify for SOMETHING. Boo. Guess not. Needless to say, we would like to stay away from the doctor's office for a while as we generally only visit for well child check-ups.

Work has also been kicking. my. trash. (WARNING - Boring work content ahead...) The first couple weeks of September are the busiest (and most stressful) of the whole year in my particular line of work. We outline all our projects and budget for the following year. Given the volume of work (real estate purchases and construction mainly) and funding that we deal with, it is a major undertaking. To make the matter more difficult, this year we absorbed another portion of the United States into the area we work with, so we had to establish all new baseline numbers for our performance measures. There are around 35-40 pages worth of numbers to fill out. (Each number can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to put together.) I have been glued to the phone and my desk for two weeks trying to gather all the information. As soon as I turned in my plan last Friday, I heaved a huge sigh of relief that the whole process was (mostly) over again for another year. It felt good to finally detach myself from the phone and the desk chair and not have anything work related to worry about over the weekend!

Friday evening some of us girls had a chance to get together again for dinner. This time Jamie was able to come with us. It was so great to see her! I very much enjoy spending time with these women. (We missed you Shauna!) You would never know that we had spent so much time apart since we talk like there's no tomorrow! We were at the restaurant for nearly 4 hours and I didn't even notice. It has been so much fun finding out what everyone has been up to.

By the way, I could use suggestions for a restaurant that will tolerate 5-6 rowdy 30-something females since I'll be planning the next dinner. (p.s. must have Diet Coke for Shelly)