Monday, August 24, 2015

First Day of School 2015






Today was the first day of school for all three children.  I may or may not have shouted, "Freedom!" like Braveheart. They clean up pretty good, huh?!


My freedom will be very short-lived, as I start back to teaching next Monday, but I will suck the marrow out of the hours that I have!  Today I dropped off a vanload of items for the big consignment sale, hit the post office, picked up supplies for the preschool, scored some bargains at my favorite resale shop, and caught up on emails, and I still have 15 minutes before I go pick up Tater Tot. 


I have a couple of hours with my baby girl before we pick up that big guy, then we have tap.  I am starting to sense I will be living in the van during the school year.  Wishing you all bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Now I can drive the car?

I recently complimented Tater on her nose blowing skills. She expertly pulled a single tissue from the box, honked her little nose, threw it away, and washed her hands, unprompted.  I exclaimed, "Wow, so grown-up!"  She immediately countered hopefully, "So now I can drive the car?"


Spork has taken to sometimes washing his hands quite thoroughly for 2-4 minutes.  He used to slap dash and skip the soap, so I have been pretty supportive of his lengthier sudsing, even if it is a bit inconvenient.  But today, he had hit the 5 minute mark and was still going strong, so I came in to make sure he wasn't flooding the bathroom.  He was pumping hand soap on his sister's toothbrush and earnestly scrubbing the sink til it sparkled.  "I scwubbin' the sink for you, Mommy!"


The kids love when I give voice to their stuffed animals, so Llama Llama was watching Mighty Machines with them and having a bit of anxiety about the impending dynamite explosion.  This is Tater's usual fear, and Llama's theatrics were helping as she was trying to comfort him instead of launching herself like a frightened squid onto the nearest brother's head. Then Llama got silly and started being scared of the crane operator's mustache, and the Nugget piped up, "Don't worry, Llama, when someone has a mustache, it means he's actually a hard worker."




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tater-isms

Do spiders taste like Halloween?

Those clouds are really beautiful.



Spork-isms

It's a booful day in the neighborhood, Mommy!

I making shooshee (sushi)! 

At Farm Camp, he had both a male and female counselor for the first three days. On the last day, the male counselor had a sub, so he immediately turned to his remaining original counselor and inquired, "Where dat guy go?" Being playful, she replied, "What guy?" Spork sighed and said, "You know, da guy! With the face. And the body."
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This is what little dance sibs do on a Monday afternoon while big brother is tapping.  Also (not pictured) taking several trips to the bathroom, peering over the shoulders of big dance sibs playing Minecraft, making funny faces in the big mirror, and playing with doorstops.

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The 4H fair photo wrap-up.  The biggest boys participated in a family game show this year.  We went for a wristband kids' day, which I highly recommend. Also, I think there should be a special "restoration service" for families upon leaving the fair, where a babysitter follows you home, plays with your mysteriously still amped up children and does the sticky laundry while you take a nap.  A girl can dream.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Spork's Pirate Party




All hail Pinterest!  I love party planning, and it is so much easier and more fun when I raid Pinterest for ideas, then tweak them as needed!
 


Cheap homemade invitations on cardstock, trimmed to fit in basic envelopes.
Font:  Pieces of Eight
Clip art: Galleon sail ship

X marks the spot, of course!  I would have hung it on our front door with a wreath hanger, but our front door had a little incident the day before the party.  Tempera paint on poster board, hung with twine.

 Kraft favor bags with party blowers and eye patches from Target (eyepatches were sold in bundles on Halloween clearance) and Palmer chocolate coins.  Those coins are not nut-free, so our one allergic guest got a Go-Go Squeez pouch in his.

 Favor bags all lined up and ready to go.


 The Nugget and I found and washed rocks, then painted them gold earlier this summer.  This morning, I hid them under fresh sand in the sand box and set out shovels for my little treasure hunters.  I have to remember to use Sharpies instead of washable markers, because the humidity did make the ink run after awhile.

 Especially with outdoor parties, I like to set out some basic amenities.

 Face painting table

Thank you, Pinterest!  The kids LOVED this game.

Snacks were done minus a working fridge! Cut watermelon and fresh pineapple.  "Peg leg" (honey wheat twist) pretzels and goldfish in freshly washed sand pails with shovels for the servers.  We have done many different kinds of party beverages and have found the combo of iced tea, lemonade, and ice water to be popular and economical.  Solo cups with Sharpie for names.

Store bought frozen meatballs in slow cooker with hoisin sauce.  Not pictured are the pizzas and breadsticks that Daddy picked up midway through the party.

Pump and balloons by Spritz at Target for balloon swords
 
Cupcakes with homemade chocolate buttercream frosting. We had "green ice cream" (mint chocolate chip) too on Spork's request, though he was so excited, he didn't actually eat any dessert. The cupcake wraps and anchors were left over from Spork's 3rd birthday party but were originally by Spritz at Target.  Actually, if you frequent our parties, you will note that I reuse quite a lot of our party goods from year to year, from the number candles to little banners, which makes hosting kids' bashes a good deal cheaper.  I store leftover party goods in giant Ziploc bags in the basement.

Thank you notes from Vistaprint; I like to replace the "Thank you" with my child's full name, then it becomes personalized stationery they can use all year long.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Nugget is 8!






Dear Nugget,

You are a most astounding and interesting child.  You see the world uniquely and respond to it in kind.  You are Peter Pan, Eloise, and Bill Nye the Science Guy all rolled into one.  The world tells you to check one box; you laugh and check them all, because life isn't about coloring inside the lines but playing connect the dots.  You have an insatiable desire to know how things work and what makes people tick.  You want to be a teacher, a pilot, a farmer, the worker of a printing press, a daddy, and the proud owner of 3 whippets and dozens of cats when you grow up.  It's a little hard to imagine you growing up, because you are so good at living in the moment.

Spending time at the farm with your friends was the perfect way to celebrate you.  We love you, our fearless leader!

Love, Mommy

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As the Nugget has grown, he has asked for a bit more media privacy.  I will still be happy to share photos and anecdotes, but he is the solo author of his own story.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A conversation with macaroni

Tater's favorite video these days is Yo Gabba Gabba! So she has been singing the party in my tummy song, and at dinner tonight, she had an interesting conversation with the macaroni on her plate.
T: You cooled down? Ok, come to the party in my tummy!
Macaroni (voiced by T): Oh it's so fun!
T: (to the next forkful) Well, you are sick, so you can't come to the party. You better go home and rest. Get well soon, ok? (10s pass) Oh you all better now, come to the party!
M: It's so fun!


Tater now prefers pulling her lovies in the wagon or pushing them in the stroller. She stops every few yards to readjust their seat belts or to soothe them because they are crying.


I took my trio to the library (which is always a mistake), and they had all earned prizes for the summer reading program. They chose kids' meal coupons from a binder, then the librarian turned away to pull the actual coupons from a drawer. When her back was turned, Spork eagerly asked me, "Her makin' da chicken now?"

I took the littles and some friends on a little nature trek on campus this week. We stopped to appreciate a statue of the holy family up close and personal. Spork was determined to, "touch the baby's toes," then declared it, "Dis my most favorite statue ever. It da best of all!"


A friend recently shared a Pinterest painting idea with me.  The idea was to have the children swing on their bellies with paint brushes in hand and sweep the paint onto flattened cardboard boxes.  The Nugget had to put his own spin on it and instead performed Cirque du Soleil worthy spinning/upside down/backwards painting.  Luckily, he had neglected to remove his bike helmet after a recent ride, so at least the noggin was protected. I love his creativity in messy action.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Spork is Four







Dear Spork,

How can you be four already?  I barely got to know the squishy baby you were, then all of a sudden you were a toddler, then here you are!  Four and proud of it, shell-shocked mama and all.

Top 10 Challenges of Spork at 4
10. Questions, a lot of 'em.  They say the average four year old asks about 400 questions a day.  You are anything but average.  You ask about 400 questions on a single errand.  "Where we goin'? When we comin' back? What we havin' for lunch? When Daddy comin' home?  When Nugget comin' home? He gonna watch? Why you turnin' this way? Where we goin'? Why you slowin' down? What we havin' for lunch? Why sissy got that toy? Why you blow your nose? Where you puttin' the tissue? You gonna put it in the trash? How much boogies you got out? Can I see the boogies?" (This is all before we get out of the neighborhood)
9. You are the ultimate routined child.  You like things the way they are, and we better not change how we do things or else we bear the wrath of Spork. 
8. Your fingers are constantly seeking sensations, and we get that's an important soothing mechanism for you.  But it is a bit uncomfortable to be your object of comfort at times when your fist is kneading inside my back pocket or you attempt to put your head up my skirt.
7.  You still wake up pretty grumpy, which means when you fall asleep in the car, we're all in for a treat.
6.  You wake up early, dark early, and you sing songs.  We love your singing.  We love it slightly less at 5:30am.
5.  No matter what fun things we are doing, what you really want to be doing is just sitting on the couch watching "wideos".  You tell us so, repeatedly.
4.  We have finally retired your bibs, but eating is still a messy affair.  You especially love to lean over and wipe your chin on whoever's sleeve is nearest you, and you will sometimes jump up from a spaghetti dinner and run to greet Daddy enthusiastically when he comes home in his nice work clothes, and he has to dodge you (lovingly).
3. When you get overexcited or anxious, your instinct is to bury your head in my pants, then start crashing head first into furniture.  It's cool, let's just get a handle on this before you start your college interviews, hmmm?
2.  Your default setting is "whine". 
1.  "Spork is one of our loudest friends," your teacher told us at conference time, in her best Miss Lippy voice.  Oh yes, we know. At this point, you can't maintain an inside voice if your life depended on it, but you're trying!

Top 10 Things I Love About Spork at 4
10. You don't create art as often as you used to, but when you do sit and make something, you are careful and precise.  Your brush/marker/crayon touches the paper with a lot of purpose and concentration, it is so fun to watch!
9. You are always whipping up something in your kitchen, be it fixings for Tater's picnics or a hot pizza for your "guys".
8.  You lack manners in most areas but when I set food in front of you, you always remember to thank me.
7. When we read books together, you let all your muscles go slack and snuggle/lean into me.  You love books and could read for hours.  You also love to choose your own books at quiet time.
6. Your dancing brings a big smile to my face.  You throw your whole body into the music, and your moves are all your own.
5.  You are a tattler.  That might seem like a negative thing to some, but with the siblings you have....let's just say I am thankful for The Spork Alert.
4.  You remind me to schedule down time.  As an extrovert mama, sometimes I need a reminder to dial it down a notch and make space and time to breath and recoup.  You insist on it, and that's good for all of us.
3. You have such a zest for life!  I am so thankful I can type that now and so sorry that it took so long for us to figure out and meet your needs, Spork.  It's as if SPD were this unhappy fog that has finally lifted and let out this sweet boy who was trapped inside its clutches.  You are happy, silly, smart, funny, goofy, affectionate, strong, and you can be assured that your mama will keep fighting to give you the power and the tools to put SPD in its place.  And on the days it gets you down, I will build pillow forts for us to hide in and find you something safe to smash.
2.  Your play is so funny.  You can play cooperatively now, but after awhile, you slink off to be on your own with "some guys".  The guys can be Imaginext, Little People, stuffed animals, plastic dinosaurs, sometimes even lint balls, you really don't care.  You bring them to life with your dialogue and imagination, which is always out loud.  They always get into some kind of scrape, but always turn out ok.  You barely notice the outside world while you play this way.
1. You are forming a very special bond with the Nugget, now that you're less a toddler interloper knocking down block towers and are now a co-conspirator. I love to see you two cuddled up in the tent whispering secrets and splashing in the wading pool devising new games.