Monday, December 31, 2012

Tater Tot 1 year


Dear Tater Tot,

Being 3 of 3, of course you're going to have a late birthday blog post, sorry.  Got it in under the wire, technically you are still 12 months old for another 2 days.  Please forgive your sometimes frazzled mama.

You came into our lives on a single day's notice, and during one of our last regular date nights, we frantically tracked down preemie clothes and diapers for you, marveling that any human baby could fit into anything so small.  They were all too big.  The Nugget came with me to the hospital to pick you up, and the nurses had to run a test to, "Make sure she can breathe in a regular infant car seat.  If not, we'll send you home with a car bassinet."  You passed.  I was terrified.  You were under medical orders to be fed every 3 hours, no exceptions, and when I fed you a half ounce under nurse supervision, they breathed a sigh of relief, "That's the most she's eaten in one sitting so far."  The pediatrician said you absolutely had to be in our room until you were at least 12 months old, because your size put you at a higher SIDS risk.  Did I mention I was terrified?  You screamed all the way home, but for that I was thankful because I knew you were breathing.

A year later, you are still petite, still about the size your brothers were when they couldn't yet hold up their own heads.  But you are as strong and feisty as can be.  Like a Chihuahua attacking a Labrador, you playfully chase your brothers, grabbing Spork around the ankles to bring him down with a whump or grabbing the hem of the Nugget's jeans to make him squeal.

When you came home, we didn't know what the future held for you, what it held for US.  We are so so grateful you are here to stay.  You are our sunshine.

Love, Mama

Top 10 Challenges at 1 year old
10. Not sleeping
9.  Not falling asleep easily.
8.  Not staying asleep.
7.  Taking forever to go back to sleep.
6-2. Not sleeping.
1.  You get the picture.  Mr. Sandman, you missed one over here.

Top 10 Things I love at 1 year old
10. You entertain yourself.  You are content to play with toys, with parents, sibs, or visitors.
9.  You rarely fuss, only when you need a nap, diaper change, or food.
8.  I can scarcely believe that you don't barf or drool constantly, I've never had a baby who could wear the same bib for a whole day.
7.  You are so playful.  You always want to engage us with a smile, an invitation to chase or smooch.
6.  Your burbley laugh.
5.  You wake up smiling.
4.  You adore your big brothers.  You are not afraid to get all rough-and-tumble up in here.  You hug Spork tight and walk around with him until he goes too fast for you and you both topple.  You save your biggest smiles and laughs (and first steps!) for the Nugget.  You remain the calm in the storm, no matter what temper fits those boys are throwing, you stay smiley and serene, observing them with a bemused expression or even unable to contain your giggles.
3.  Because you are so tiny, it's hilarious to see you walking around like a toddler.
2.  Even when you don't sleep, you are mostly pleasant at night, cooing, laughing and smiling, even if we don't always find your 3am smiles entertaining.  Last night, Daddy tried singing you a lullaby and instead of dozing off, you gave him a big smile and a round of applause when he finished.
1.  You have this incredible wisdom, strength, calm, and sense of humor locked into your tiny body.  The new name we've chosen for you means calm and wisdom, and it fits you to a tee.  You're going to move mountains, little lady.





Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas 2012

Hope your Christmas was merry.  Santa came early to our house, then we hit the road for Grammy and Grandpa's house.  Got the official word that Tater Tot still can't be visual blog fodder until finalization (which kills me because she takes the funniest pictures that I just can't share yet).  Rest assured, she was there and smiley.

 The Nugget tries out a new toy.

 The boys having a typical moment.

 The Nugget and Cabbage deep into the Christmas melee.

 Baby Bean rocks his formalwear.

The Nugget and Cabbage (and Pinkie Pie) chilling on the Snuggler.  The Snuggler is an extra small loveseat/extra large chair that reclines and is covered with a safari print, which is pretty bizarre but ridiculously comfortable.

Anyway, what can I say?  Cousins reveled in each other's company, babies repeatedly went for breakables, chargers were left behind, too many cookies were eaten, the children were obscenely spoiled with gifts...it was exhausting and wonderful.  We are happy to be home, sorting through piles to give away to Goodwill to make room for the new, buried under a mountain of laundry despite doing several loads in Grammy's laundry room.  The Nugget has cash money and a gift card eating a hole in his wallet, so probably this week he'll be off to spend those.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Deck the Halls

The Nugget loves him some snow, and yesterday afternoon, the flakes fell fluffy and soft.  It wasn't the first snow of the year, but it was the first one that "stuck" or counts at all to a child.  The Nugget declared it, "A winter wonderland!"  Here are some more pictures of our holiday-ing, as Eloise (another kindred spirit to the Nugget) might say.  (Still waiting to find out if we can share pictures of Tater online, so for now, blog visuals are still boys-only.)

 Trimming the tree.


 "May I please cut the netting with the purple zizzors, and I'll be so careful.  Oh, this is just so much fun, I could cut this netting all day."

St. Nick came and besides the gift of a little sister forever, he also left the Nugget a whoopie cushion.  

After Tater Tot's birthday party this weekend, we took Grammy and Grandpa downtown for Santa, the trolley ride, chocolate, and cookie decorating.

 The Nugget shows off his finished cookie.

Spork makes a break for it.  


Spork enjoys the snow.  He does not, however, enjoy cold-weather accessories.  He immediately wiped out on the kitchen floor in his snow boots, and he abhors mittens.  Still, the sight of a chunky toddler in snow bibs is really top notch.  You can spy a bundled Tater in the background, enjoying her birthday sled.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I have a favorite saint...

Last year, St. Nick brought us a perfect 4 pound, 10 ounce baby girl to love.  One year later, he gave us the gift of a lifetime of moments with our little Tater Tot.  The judge signed the TPR papers on Dec 6, and now the adoption process begins.

For those not familiar with state adoptions, they take a lot longer to finalize, but TPR is irrevocable at this point, and anyone else bidding to adopt her would not be considered (unless we do something like rob a bank or go on a murder spree).  About a year down the road, a judge will rubber-stamp finalization papers which will let us legally change her name and get a new birth certificate.  In the meantime, we'll have a new paper trail to work on, and check ins with the caseworker, but that's it!

It's been a long year full of uncertainties, which has given me the impetus to carpe diem.  Tater hasn't been sleeping well this week; I wonder if she sensed my anxiety about this last big hurdle.  But the night before her permanency hearing, she slept soundly and peacefully; perhaps St. Nick came to her in a dream and whispered what was in store for us.  Feeling immeasurably relieved, blessed, and thankful that we'll be able to stay a family of five.  In the Nugget's words, "Oh yay!  I'm so glad she's staying because I love being silly with her!"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

My future grandkids

Recent Nugget Quotes:

(totally out of the blue) "I'm going to have 2 sons and 2 daughters.  My daughters' names will be Lily and Daisy.  My son's names will be McKinley and Lewis."

"I love this (stuffed) mosquito.  He's going to be my helper today.  His job is being my friend.  Every day I have to check his legs with this wrench to make sure they're ok."

"Before there was the earth and the universe, there were purple cars." Somewhere James Earl Jones is shaking his head.

(while I was rushing around last-minute packing for Indy and simultaneously trying to dress and feed 3 children) "Mommy, it looks like you're having some big feelings right now."

Truth: The Nugget grew so quickly that he wore both of these bear coats within his first winter.  The little one is 6-12 months that we bought in October 2007.  The bigger one is 24 months that he wore starting in January 2008.  They give me great pleasure when I push my baby bears into preschool to pick up that big boy.

 Nugget 3 months in bear coat #1.

Nugget 7 months (looking a little Spork-ish) in bear coat #2.

Recent Baby Mischief:

The babies have discovered the tunnel.  Tater likes to go in and giggle.  Spork prefers not to go inside but likes to run around it and peek into each end.  Spork will see it folded up neatly in a corner and beg for it, "Eh, eh, EEEEHHHH," until someone sets it up for him.

I forgot to latch the dog crate tonight and found both babies inside, happy as clams.  The Nugget joined them and laughter ensued for the better part of an hour.

Whenever Tater finishes her dinner before the boys (which is most nights), she darts straight under the table to find her Nugget, much to his dismay.  The Nugget, like a dog, requires personal space while he eats.  So the rest of my meal is spent trying to shoo her away from the Nugget while still feeding Spork and delivering the zillion things that are requested during the course of a meal - more ketchup please, more milk please, seconds please, I need a new napkin, Spork needs a washcloth, I could go on.  I now understand why my mother ate all her meals standing up at the kitchen counter.

Both babies are at the stage where they dart from one forbidden item to another.  Having 2 babies complicates this matter for me.  Spork is slow and deliberate, at least.  Tater is swift and silent as a ninja, it's truly terrifying.  I was loading dishes in the dishwasher one evening while she played in the other room with the boys and Daddy.  I turned to shut the dishwasher, and she is poised on all fours, on top of the open door, never even heard her come in the room.  I'm about to end my open bathroom door policy, because when I let them follow me in there, Spork heads right for the toilet paper, and Tater tries to climb in the bathtub or eat things out of the trashcan.

Spork sets booby traps in our bedroom.  We sneak in, fumble to plug in Spork's monitor, and hold our breaths, hoping Tater will stay soundly asleep every night when we're ready for some shut-eye.  But lo and behold, if we haven't done a sweep, Hubby will stub his toe on something that squawks, "7-8-9!  Siete-ocho-nueve!" and that will be the end of that!  Lately, Hubby has been taking pride in showing me the traps Spork has set for him, "Look at this one!  A tin and a tambourine!"



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Indy

We had a very fun 24 hours in Indy with Spork's birthfamily.  We had one relaxing "open house" style family gathering.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents arrived to dote on Spork.  And there was enough doting to go around for the Nugget and Tater, too. 

 The brothers in a heated game of Connect Four.  Luckily Aunt A was there to referee.

The boys with cousins L&Z.  Do you see the maniacal look on L (the blond's) face?  Ooo, she is the Nugget's equal when it comes to giddy silliness.

Mimi and Bobby scouted out a new secret spot in the city for the kids to explore.  The Rhythm Discovery Center was a hands-on wonderland for our little music lovers.  It was the perfect thing to do before tucking the three back in the minivan for the long ride home.  The babies slept like logs.

 The Nugget rocks out like a pro.

Spork and Mumsie try the xylophone.

Sick the day before the trip:  The Nugget and me
Sick the day after the trip:  Hubby
Things I forgot to pack:  Spork's toothbrush and toothpaste, my socks, Tater's comb, the nail file.
Things that broke on re-entry day:  the microwave, a kitchen shelf
Still worth it?  Definitely!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Stockings 2012

Ooo, it's time to stock up on trinkets!

Here's what St. Nick has in mind for the trio, plus sneaky ways to save, feel free to steal ideas or leave your own!  At our house, St. Nick aims to put fewer, nicer and practical things in the stockings...but occasionally breaks down and binges at the Dollar Spot - d'oh!  These will be rounded out with edibles - a few chocolates for the big boy, but also quasi-healthy snacks like yogurt raisins, animal crackers, fruit snacks, etc.

Nugget
-Chocolate milk straws - leftover from party favors
-Stainless steel spork!
-Jacks from the Target dollar spot
-Bumkins snack bag - bought as a 2-pack from babysteals.com

Spork
-Kids' flatware from IKEA
-Guiro from the Hape Rhythm Set - purchased for 30% off on Yoyo.com with coupon code YOYO30 for first-time shoppers.
-The other Bumkins snack bag.

Tater Tot
-Same flatware as Spork
-The clacker from the Hape Rhythm Set
-Bumkins sleeved bibs - also purchased on sale at babysteals

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Season's End

Ah, November.  The colder, quieter month after the golden busy days of September and October.  It still counts as an autumn month, technically, but the icy breath of winter is already here.  The trees are shutting down for the winter, the squirrels are fat and frantic, I'm pulling winter coats and snowpants out of storage, and finding that it takes a good 15 minutes to scrape ice off the Swagger Wagon.  We're remembering what it's like to wrestle mittens on babies a dozen times in 2 minutes, only to have them flung off with a devilish grin one more time.

Tater gets some leaf action, the final dry pile of the season.  She is unimpressed.

 November means finding more indoor diversions.  Spork discovers the joy of stickers.

Spork loves sitting at the craft table but hasn't quite gotten the hang of the chairs yet.  He gets up here, then he screams for help, like a kitten stuck in a tree.  His help/want yell is an aggrieved, "Mah, mah!" and I keep expect him to follow up with, "The meatloaf!  We want it now!"


Give the boy a fork and dish, on the other hand, and he's a pro.  If you have a baby learning to self-feed in the winter months, you need this bib.  But it doesn't quite cover all the bases when you have a Spork who likes to stuff things under his thighs for later.  I suppose what we need is like a wipeable bunting.

We are gearing up for our first ever Thanksgiving at home.  I am taking the easy road and skipping the turkey (heresy, I know), because Hubby and the Nugget do not care for it.  So we'll get some smokey salty meat from the Honeybaked store instead, and I'll be whipping up baked brie, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, the cranberry sauce from a can (Hubby loves things that come out in the shape of their containers).  Picked up a frozen pumpkin pie and whipped cream in a can; with 2 babies and a preschooler, I figure this is no time to be a purist.  It is, however, an amazing time for our family - we are really starting to feel like we are complete.  We have our fingers crossed that we will know Tater's future for certain next month.  The children are happy (well, between tantrums and sib drama, obviously) and we are all healthy, Hubby has a secure job that he loves and at which he is appreciated, I am blessed with family, friendship, and community, so there is so much we are thankful for this year.
********************************
Baked Brie - so easy and delicious, it's almost criminal.  This is a "wow" appetizer that will make people beg you for the recipe.

1 pack thawed phyllo dough (a box usually contains 2 packs, save one in the freezer, you only need a few sheets)
pepper jelly (my personal preference) or raspberry preserves
1 wheel brie (SuperTarget carries small wheels of Presidente for under $5)
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to the temperature listed on the phyllo dough box.  Take a sheet of phyllo, spray it with olive oil, stack another sheet perpendicularly, spray it, and repeat until you have about 5 sheets prepared.  Place your brie in the center, and cover it with a generous layer of the jelly of your choice.  Gently wrap the phyllo dough layers over the top and fold/press to seal the cheesy goodness.  Spray with olive oil, and bake about 15-20 minutes, or until the dough is golden and crunchy, and the cheese is melty.  If you find the cheese is still too solid, nuke it for a few seconds at a time.  Serve with whole wheat crackers.

You can also use puff pastry for this recipe if you prefer a flakier, softer, more decadent pastry around your cheese.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Spork vs. the Time Change

Spork here, with an simple instructional baby's guide to The End (of Daylight Savings) Times.

 1.  Panic. 

2.  Zzzz.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shout-out

As another one of Hubby's business trips draws thankfully to a close, I wanted to give some blog love to the following establishments that pitch in to help an outnumbered mama rather than shirk in horror.  I'm not sure if these chains are typically kind to single parents trying to feed a brood or if the kindness is random luck depending on which employees are working that shift, but my hope is that it's an overarching chain philosophy so that others can benefit.

1.  Penn Station - not only are they delicious, but I can easily fit the double stroller through the door and park it.  They don't yell at me for using both of their highchairs, and the nice line cooks even sliced up Spork's cheese bread for me.

2.  Einstein Bagels - our location is less than stroller friendly, but a thumbs up for the kind cashier who brought the food to the table instead of calling me to pick it up.  She even brought extra napkins!

My own tips:
1.  I come prepared like a military operation, with jobs for the Nugget and baby equipment galore.
2.  I try to foster good karma by wiping down highchairs and returning them to their rightful spots, picking up all the thrown Cheerios at the end of the meal, etc.
3.  I try to feed the kids early before the dinner rush, and with all the bags and a non-walking baby, I try to choose cafeteria style restaurants where I can fit my stroller inside without blocking the traffic flow.
                       
Most of all, I'm thankful for our neighbor girl, E, who is the world's best mother's helper!


Friday, November 2, 2012

Channeling Steve Martin

It's easy to look at photos with rose colored glasses.  Yes, there are beautiful moments, and the majority of our life right now is so full of awkward moments that it resembles a Steve Martin comedy.

Scene 1:
Naptime for Tater.  I get her comfy on the couch with her binky and lovie.  I get the boys interested in quiet toys and books.  All quiet on the western front until Tater's eyes droop and her toes begin to twitch.  As she falls off to dreamland, I ease myself off the couch and make the quick/quiet dash to the bedroom.  But Spork spots me and abandons his quiet toys for the chomping gators, which he pushes frantically after me, and Tater startles awake.  Repeat scene 3x, but switch the gators for a.) the noisy toy vacuum b.) low tech with a tin and a wooden spoon and c.) the old standby, screaming.  The Nugget joins in with a whine, noticing that, "Why is it taking FOREVER for Tater Tot to go to sleep?  I need some attention!"  End scene with everyone crying, nobody napping, and Mama brewing a fresh pot of coffee.

Scene 2:
Cooking dinner.  Round up babies from the backyard and deposit them on kitchen floor with toys.  Begin cooking dinner.  The Nugget starts screaming from the backyard for no apparent reason, just 5yo angst.  Stop cooking to calm Nugget and escort him to room.  Spork starts screaming because big brother is upset.  Spork steps on Tater's fingers.  Phone rings, Hubby is going to be late and wants to chat and I testily-but-politely-as-I-can-muster remind him that I am a little busy.  Doorbell rings, Doggie goes ballistic.  Both babies poop their diapers.  I fantasize about winning the lottery so I could order takeout every single day.

Scene 3:
Daddy arrives home from work.  Instead of running to him for a cuddle, an overtired Spork simply collapses on the floor screaming in a desperate bid for Daddy's immediate attention.  The Nugget leaves his dinner on the table to give Daddy a hug, only to return to find that Doggie has helped herself to his unattended sandwich.  Screamer #2, that's your cue.  I take a deep breath, consider getting earplugs, and smile at Tater, who is wound around Daddy's leg yet maintains her composure despite the chaos...but what's this?  Mischievous girl-child is smiling because she has unfastened one side of her diaper (poopy again of course), which is now dangling down her leg.

In my weaker moments, I join in the whining and snapping and am surely sporting a pair of crazy eyes that would make Mr. Martin proud.  In my better moments, I laugh it off and remind myself how blessed I am to be in this crazy space full of live and love, sibling spats and baby food all over my shirt.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Zoo Boo and Party

We're pretty serious about our Halloween fun.  Next up, Zoo Boo and a Halloween Party (Nugget only).

 Octo choosing treats.

 Octo making the koi nervous.

 Tater's ruby slippers.

Octo on a tortoise, of course.

Beavs enjoys some of his loot - goldfish crackers

 Party fun for OctoNugget - swings, scavenger hunt, and cupcakes oh my!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

We've been waiting all month for a sunny weekend day for the pumpkin patch, and Sunday was it!  It seemed like every other family in the area was thinking the same thing - our favorite family farm had a full parking lot and a line at the ticket booth to match.  Despite the Nugget's frustration at having to wait in multiple lines for the activities he can typically just do when he feels like it, we had a great time.

Holy moly, did we have to stage Spork's pictures though.  Beavs was not at all interested in hanging out with the pumpkins.

 Spork at the line of scrimmage.

The pumpkins might be winning.

Spork gets his nose and chin from his Mumsie.

The Nugget was willing to be photographed this time, even with real smiles!  The pumpkin patch was a great distraction while Daddy waited in line for tickets.

 

 The Nugget hemmed and hawed over the perfect pumpkins for himself and his sibs.

But that's nothing new...the Nugget in 2008 (at Spork's current age).

Our bounty from Tater's perspective.

Hayride with Mommy.  A visual of why at least a half dozen random strangers chuckle, "You have your hands full," when I'm out with the trio.  Makes me wonder how the kids' Great-Grandma did it with 6.



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Trunk or Treat 2012

As we race through our first calendar year with the babies, there are so many fun firsts!  Experienced another one yesterday - first Trunk or Treat.  The beaver and octo costumes were made by the talented Grammy, of course.  Tater is the lucky recipient of 2 special hand-me down costumes - a fluffy pumpkin from W and a Dorothy dress (also made by Grammy) from Cabbage; luckily she will have plenty of opportunity to wear both.

 Beavs.


Spork's Mumsie and her friend J were able to join us for the weekend, so the Beaver had multiple "handlers" to keep him from playing in the traffic.  He munched mum-mums, Pirate Booty, and a cereal bar, but we were successfully able to keep him candy-free this year, which means that next year, he'll have another "first" when he learns that Halloween is really about chocolates!

Octopus on a truck.  

Have you noticed that the Nugget always makes silly faces in pictures now?  I love it; it truly captures his personality...and it'll make for a helluva funny slideshow when he graduates from high school and/or gets married.

 Octo with his stash.  This was the largest Trunk or Treat group we've had to date, so the buckets flowethed over.

Pumpkin feet.

Tater hung out with me and passed out Pirate Booty for the kids and mum-mums for the babies.  As fun as it is having upright walking/running boys, I am treasuring these last times I will have a little soft and sweet tag-a-long baby.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Brothers' Lawn Service

Yesterday while Tater was napping and the Nugget was watching a video, I took Spork out for his first leaf-raking experience.  Kids' rakes are under $10 on Amazon, and they are worth every cent.  If you have a fall birthday child to buy for, this is a perfect gift!  Unlike his big brother at this age, Spork's movements are slow, deliberate, and predictable.  I knew he wouldn't stray far from my side, and he toddled around babbling to the leaves and scraping his tiny green rake on the sidewalk while I made a quick pile.  


The Nugget spied us through the window and could not resist the invitation to "help" with the leaves.


 Turns out little brother is a natural too.

There couldn't be a more perfect way to spend an afternoon.  

This one time, at band rehearsal....

As if autumn isn't awesome enough, it also brings with it the free entertainment of the marching band rehearsal.  Families and fans flock to an empty parking lot lined with port-a-potties, and wait in the chilly afternoon for it to be transformed by the arrival of dozens of talented student musicians.  The sections come proudly decked out in matching shirts and as it gets colder, some sport creative legwear - crazy tights and wild knee socks.  They are all business until the conductor calls for a break, then you can see their shoulders drop, and they flirt, laugh, and chat (I love watching college students, it's a little like a nature documentary, they are so focused on finding a "mate," even if they don't realize it.)  

The beat of drums, the trill of piccolos, and the clatter of cymbals fill our ears, and the crisp air and scent of fallen leaves fill our noses, and the children's feet can't help but tap, spin, dance, and stomp.  It's the perfect kick off to a weekend.  Despite that we're halfway through the season, it was the babies' first rehearsal - too cold and rainy the other Friday nights, but last Friday delivered.

Tater loved waiting and watching the spectacle until the drums surprised her.  The Ergo saved the day.

 Spork practiced his bubble blowing, and waddled around the lot like he owned the place.

The Nugget was a perpetual movement machine, spinning with the pinwheel he borrowed from Tater, shaking the pom poms (pom pons?), and conducting.