Sunday, December 29, 2013


Now that the toddlers are talking, I foresee a lot more quotes on the blog.

After Jason Derulo croons, "Will you maarrrryyy meeeee?" on the radio, Spork asks earnestly, "And me?  And me?"

Most complex overheard conversation with Spork's Little People to date:
Camel: "Hi."
Superman:  "It's cold."
Camel:  "Oh, snow!"
Superman:  "The boots."

Spork has a new favorite word, "Huh?!"  He says it loudly and often.  And his favorite new phrase is, "What happened?"

Instead of saying, "Yes," or "Yeah," Spork says, "Nay!" to indicate the affirmative.  This is very confusing, as you can imagine.

Spork is a future foodie or talented chef - he loves to eat, appreciates both the process and result of cooking, and spends hours creating in the play kitchen.  Today, we had a favorite recipe of Daddy's via The Pioneer Woman.  Based on Ree's description and Daddy's love for it, we affectionately call it "Man Casserole" in this house (though I enjoy it too).  Spork was very pleased and ate with gusto, nom-ing loudly and stated, "Man Noodles - um!"

In a reprise of his Tommy Boy impression, Spork accidentally ran full boar into our Christmas tree this afternoon, knocking off several ornaments on his way down.  He cheerfully bounded back up, so laughter was totally called for this time.  Kudos to Daddy's tree-installation skills, because he didn't take the whole tree down with him!

One of our toy phones cheerfully asks, "Hi there, wanna go out to play?"  Tater (who would prefer not to go outside in weather under 65 degrees) answers it with an indignant, "NO!"  Speaking of phones, Tater and Spork sometimes both get on a toy phone and chatter, as if they are calling one another from the same room.  Cutest thing ever!

We finally got to the bottom of Tater's "snatch and run" habit - turns out, she just wants Spork to chase her, but he's usually off in his own world, so the best way she can get him to participate in her game is to snatch whatever he's using.  She typically tosses the object back to him over her shoulder once he starts running, but of course by that point, he's committed to his angst.  The sad/funny thing is that she is so much faster that she sometimes laps him in this game.  We are teaching her to verbally ask for a "Chase?" instead of snatching, but she knows it's far less effective!

While at Aunt V's house for Boxing Day, Tater became obsessed with a sparkly gold angel on the tree. It had a stiff, conical skirt and sat on a branch.  When Aunt V gave the kids the green light to touch the ornaments, Tater repeatedly picked up the angel and asked, "She pooped?"

The Nugget has a couple new chores, which highlight his laziness efficiency.
1.  Put away clean clothes and pick out pjs and clothes for the next day.  He likes to combine these tasks by simply throwing yesterday's outfit down the stairs for tomorrow instead of putting it away and picking something new.  So despite his closetful of clothes, he goes to school wearing the same mismatched outfit over and over again.  It's a mama's duty to bite her tongue and pick a bigger battle, right?
2.  Setting his own place at the table.  Sometimes he forgoes a beverage because he would rather not drink that make a second trip for his milk cup and pitcher.

I love to be silly.  Fortunately that's allowed in my line of work.  Tonight I bid the Nugget and Giraffe good night, but I purposely switched their names as I patted each on the head.  The Nugget very seriously responded, "No, I'm the Nugget.  That is Giraffe."  I repeated my mistake with kisses.  The Nugget decided to give his poor mom a tutorial, "No, you see, this is Giraffe.  Giraffe is a lovie. She has fur and her head rattles.  I'M the Nugget."  I suppressed some giggles and kissed my patient little teacher goodnight, for real that time, and the Nugget went to bed satisfied that he had schooled his slightly-slow mama.

Christmas 2013

Although road-tripping 5 hours to my folks' house with 3 kids is nothing to sneeze at, if you really want to be a masochist, you have to drive 2 hours to an airport and fly the family across the country.  I planned and planned, but the trip was not without its ugly meltdowns, and the kids weren't all that easy either!  Still, we enjoyed what quality time we had with Hubby's sweet family, even as they were taken down one-by-one by a nasty virus.  And despite the fact that Hubby conked himself in the head almost immediately upon arrival, requiring 3 staples in the head.   At least the kids didn't break anything valuable in the rental house, despite Tater toppling a full wine rack on day 2.

Pictured are some highlights of the trip, and the true success was, even as I struggled to keep it together, the Nugget exclaimed, "Best Christmas ever!"  My own little Cindy Lou Who/Tiny Tim, right?!  And I came home to toss my worries aside to pray for a dear friend's little one who was in the hospital, and suddenly the stresses of crossing time zones with toddlers didn't seem so big at all.  Thankful to be home, counting our blessings.  Thankful for family who puts up with me at my very worst.  Thankful for humbling experiences that give me the chance to grow.

 Playing with friends at a local park.
A fleeting moment of brotherly love, captured on film.

 Wild times in Grandma and Papa's amazing backyard.

Adorable kiddos in adorable outfits!

 The element of surprise.
The basement playroom is reborn each time grandchildren enter the premises.
 My favorite trio - in discord and in harmony, they make my heart complete.
Family reunited.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bacon and Gingerbread and Santa, Oh My!

In a nod to his Native American heritage, the Nugget verbally offers his gratitude those who made his meals possible.

"Thank you, bees, for the honey!"
He typically shouts his acknowledgements, so any bees that might be hibernating in their hives can hear him, I suppose.

"Thank you, cows, for the cow's milk!"
As a PC child of Generation Z, he is aware that some friends drink soy milk or goat's milk, and Spork drinks almond milk, so the Nugget likes to be crystal clear about his own preferred milk source.

And lately, he's added a new, more awkward one.  "Thank you pigs, for the bacon!"
Lordy, I love this kid.

We all enjoyed a visit from Spork's Mumsie this weekend.  We love visits with birthfamily any time of the year, but it's especially sweet when we can share our little family traditions with them.  I feel like it gives them a true peek at the lives our children are leading, and I hope it makes them feel happy and included.

Spork was super serious about the gingerbread house decorating.  He mulled over the possible placement of every gumdrop and "reminded" his brother and sister not to forget his next turn.  It got a little too intense, so Daddy took him outside for a shoveling break - just what the doctor ordered!


The way that Tater says, "San-tah!" just slays me, every time.  She loves the guy in red, although she doesn't care to sit on his lap, just wants to chat with him.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Nativity, take 2

It's the kind of cold outside that freezes the inside of your nose when you draw a breath.  So of course, Tater is still refusing to keep her mittens on.  Granted, none of them really fit her tiny hands except the thumbless baby kind, but goshdarnit, Tater wants her thumb recognized, so those don't have a chance either.

Detente:  I am resigned to taking Spork into the school on the doggie harness and as Tater began her 2yo tantrums right on schedule, she is now in the umbrella stroller (wrapped caterpillar-style in a blanket to warm those mittenless fingers).  The Nugget, for his part, is resigned to the fact that he does have to load his backpack (with his giraffe plus a single art project, which is usually a paper airplane or a bullet train) and put on his coat every afternoon in under 30 minutes.  You'd think I was asking for a blindfolded Triple Salchow or something.  Actually, that might be an easier task for him to learn, given his newfound skating skills, the results of  "free" lessons through his kindergarten, so awesome!

The Nativity, Interpreted by 2 year olds.  Several years ago, the Nugget reenacted the Nativity with a triceratops.  The camel often took meals with him.

Spork is having his turn now, in which nativity members all dutifully say, "Hi baby!" to baby Jesus and then wait their turn to be microwaved.  It must be really cold in that stable.  Oh wait, I misplaced the stable.  The sheep can often be found face down in a wooden coffee mug.  The camel is a favorite with this one too, although he calls it a, "Moo."

Behold, shepherds and wise men will see the glow of the microwave and travel from afar.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013

I'm not "on the ball" this year, I'm just kind of munching a cookie and trying to ignore the mess in my family room.  So on that note, I'm not going to break down stockings vs. regular gifts, but I will share the super cool stuff I discovered this year in case any of ya'll need a last-minute gift.

Affordable (especially if you have a RedCard), beautiful play tent with lights included!  Time will tell if it's sturdy enough for the Nugget, but B. Toys has never disappointed me in durability before.  I'm hoping he'll use it as a peaceful retreat in his room with his iPod and beanbag chair.  If he doesn't, maybe I will.

Adorable whistles by Plan Toys that make a squeaky sound.  Spork and Tater got these from St. Nick, and the Nugget is jonesing for his own.  They say 3+, but I've supervised both tots carefully and they do not seem to pose a choking hazard, as they are pretty large.

Tater received a Plui rain ball, and it is really fun and cute in the tub.  Use your finger to plug the top hole, and you can "control the rain"!  Our Barnes and Noble carries them in the toy section, so if you need a nice yet inexpensive gift, use one of their emailed coupons to snag one.

Spork is on a horn/whistle kick thanks to his OT, so I'll also recommend the Ambi trumpet with the caveat than while one of the sounds it makes is pleasant, the other sounds like a ticked off duck with a megaphone.  But otherwise, extremely sturdy, well-made, easy to clean, and the price is right.

I've discovered Tater's hair styling kryptonite - Curious Buddies.  Adorable puppets, live-action babies, and catchy songs.  It's not on Netflix, and the dvds are dirt cheap.

Backyard Safari makes a line of sturdy toys and tools for budding scientists.  The Nugget loves his Field Compass he received from Grandma and Papa for his birthday and the Birdwatcher Set from my cousin K and family, so I pointed relatives that direction again for him this Christmas.  While I'd still keep these for the older kids, his sibs have borrowed the binoculars and have not managed to break them yet.

After a long hunt for a well-made doll bed, I had to share it with you.  Nova Natural always impresses me with their quality.  While it seems spendy, there are many flimsier wood doll beds at similar prices.  With this one, I won't worry so much if Spork sits in it or if the Nugget rams it with a Tonka truck.  The stroller we got here last year is still going strong and looks brand new despite the fact that all 3 use it both as a battering ram and as a vehicle for drag racing.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Finish Line

This morning was a hectic one, with toddlers in and out of coats, car seats, and double strollers.  First to Goodwill to be fingerprinted for (hopefully) the last time in our 7 year adoption journey.  Of course, in the excitement, I forgot my purse and had to double back, but nothing could spoil my mood.  Since the printing was at Goodwill, I took the babes shopping to celebrate and came home with a construction helmet for the dress-up bin and a Leapfrog alphabet magnet base with no letters (in the hopes it would fit the letters on our fridge at home, no dice but it was worth a buck to try).

Next to DCS to drop off adoption paperwork.  No parking spaces, so I had to hoof it with the double stroller from McDonald's.  No elevator, so I had to enlist kind strangers to help me haul the tots up and down a flight of stairs (not a neighborhood where I could leave an empty stroller and return to find it still there).  But I *think* I am done!  Tater Tot will be a legal member of our family very soon - as soon as the prints and paper get processed, we should get a court date for her finalization.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving weekend 2013 was one for the books.  We had a great time at Uncle M and Aunt C's house.  Cousins A&L each grabbed a toddler (literally) and showed them a great time.  A and Spork thumped up and down the carpeted basement stairs about a thousand times, and L cuddled and coddled Tater and wrenched multiple remotes and choking hazards out of her clutches.  

We had been saving and plotting to take the Nugget on the Polar Express for years now.  This, we decided, would be the perfect year.  He was finally old enough to stay up late without having a meltdown, and young enough to experience the Christmas magic in its purest form.  It was perfect.

Some memorable Nugget quotes from the ride:

We called Grandma and Papa while waiting to depart, and the Nugget, in hushed and reverent tones said, "There are REAL elves here."

We passed many many elves, penguins, reindeer, and other wonders at the North Pole.  The Nugget waved wildly to each of them.  When he saw the Winter Wizard, he solemnly and spontaneously saluted her.

While the other kids were exclaiming over the lights and decorations at the North Pole, the Nugget hollered, "Wow!  They have their own POST OFFICE!"

After spotting a tin soldier come to life, another child yelled, "Report for duty!"  The Nugget wanted to chime in but had no idea what the kid was saying, so he repeatedly exclaimed, "Ah-port for doody, sir!" and dissolved into giggles.

Diamond in the Rough

I put my to-do list in the back of my mind a few weeks ago and took the littles to a playdate hosted by a neighbor.  It was just 2 blocks away, so we took the red wagon instead of the minivan.  Tater immediately disposed of her mittens.  Little puffs of steam rose with our breaths, and the wagon wheels made their comforting grinding sound on the pavement, bouncing the babies over a carpet of yellow and brown leaves.  The temperature had just dipped below freezing, and there was an unexpected beauty - tiny droplets of dew stuck to many of the leaves at my feet and had frozen there, tiny perfect sparkling jewels, reflecting the morning light like diamonds.  I couldn't stop marveling at them but of course didn't have my camera handy.  By the time we walked home, the dew had melted back to liquid form, the tiny diamonds just a memory.
A favorite game in our house is "Stinky Feet".  It involves nothing but peeling sweaty socks off a grouchy kidlet and going in for a big whiff before declaring, "Eeeewww!  Stinky!"  If you're squeamish about malodorous things like I am, you simply have a puppet or a lovie do your dirty work, sometimes that's even funnier to them.  Tater recently learned to say, "stinky" and Spork can say, "Eww!", so this game is getting really good, with all 3 kids sniffing each others' toes and giggling hysterically.
More things I never thought I'd say:

"Please stop licking the cow."

"Your big brother doesn't wear a diaper, please stop peeking in his pants for poop."

"Sorry, you can't look at Mommy's belly button while we're at Target, you'll have to wait until we get home."
I know I've said a million times that the Nugget channels Will Farrell, but have I mentioned that Spork channels Chris Farley?  Just as hilarious but angrier and spazzier, am I right?!  So yesterday, I took both littles to SuperTarget (that's enough fodder for like 3 blog posts but I digress).  I normally try to avoid that at all costs, but it was unavoidable as our cupboards and fridge were bare (well, full of fuzzy and stale foods), so off we went.  I stuffed them in that giant, impossible-to-steer cart with 2 seats, and it was great for the first 16 minutes.  Then Tater realized that she could reach Spork's jacket zipper, and of course he freaked out that she was invading his personal space, so I "solved" it by letting Spork walk and "help" me with the groceries.  He did pretty well for a 2yo loose in a grocery store, the only issue is that he would march/stomp a little faster than I could keep up with the cart, so I had to keep calling him to return, which he did, incredibly, every time.  Well, as I stopped to load up the cart with the 3 kinds of milk my high-maintenance family demands, Spork rounded to corner towards the frozen foods, so I called him back again.  He came running, obediently.  I nonchalantly reminded him to use his walking feet and turned back to the milk cooler, my right hand holding the cooler door, the left hand grabbing his almond milk.  Then I felt the door shake, heard a loud thump, and turned to see that Spork had run full speed into the open glass door and knocked himself flat on his back, a lot like this (at 1:25).  Angry and stunned, he started up a huge wail.  Of course I felt for him and comforted him immediately, but I'd be lying if I claimed that I didn't smother a giggle and wished I'd caught it on video.  Come to think of it, Target employees may be watching it on their security tapes and busting up at this very moment!

Monday, November 18, 2013


Tater and Spork are learning to tag team.  While I'm changing Spork's diaper, Tater is pulling Boogie Wipes out of the package and wiping her (not runny) nose on each wipe.  While I'm wiping Tater's face after lunch, Spork is pouring his milk cup onto his plate.  When I take them both the the library, Tater is de-shelving books while Spork is hollering loudly and gesturing wildly that he wants to use the computer station.  Anytime my hands are full with one, the other takes advantage to make mischievous messes.  It's much easier to throw my hands up and laugh than it is to constantly follow the devious duo with a bucket of cleaning supplies, so until the Cat in the Hat shows up with his miraculous house-picker-upper and lends me his crates for my Thing 1 and Thing 2, I'm going to make peace with the messes.

Photo credit: Diane Kolacz

When Spork cries (as he is wont to do), Tater soulfully states, "Beavs sad," then suggests what might cheer him up.  "Binky?  Snack?  Banky?"  We think Spork has nightmares; he will sometimes cry out in the night but not fully wake, even if he has everything he needs.  During one of these spells, I heard him cry out and then heard Tater over her monitor, "Beavs sad."  It was so sweet, though it certainly would have felt sweeter if it hadn't been 3am.

On his part, Spork will spontaneously shout, "Where mah sis-say?! Mah sis-say!" anytime Tater is out of view.  He often finds her Hippo or her stray left shoe lying about the house and retrieves it for her whether she wants it or not, whining and twisting the found item to and fro, his arm outstretched in a gesture of generosity, his face screwed up in confusion when she refuses his generosity with a flippant, "No!"  Eventually, he will wing the damn thing at her in frustration, as if to shout, "Can't you see I'm helping?!"

I have no doubts that they'll continue to scrap and tussle with each other for many years to come but that they will always, always have each others backs.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Ball

The Nugget at 9 months:  "We've got this, Mama!"

Back when I was a Mommy of one, I used to be a very on-the-ball person.  Birthday gifts or cards sent out early.  School permission slips signed way in advance.  Little celebration days at school plotted out for a full week, including a coordinating outfit and something to contribute to the classroom.  Volunteer jobs taken eagerly.
Spork at 2 years:  "It's kind of a lost cause, Mama."

Now that I'm a Mommy of three, I feel like I'm constantly fumbling the ball.  Birthday gifts sent out a week late.  School permission slips signed in the nick of time.  Little celebration days and even a dance recital totally spaced.  Volunteer jobs?  You've got to be kidding.  Coordinating outfits?  Well, the Nugget puts away his clean clothes each night and picks out his clothes for the morning, so in the interest of efficiency, he basically takes the clean clothes from his laundry pile and triumphantly states, "Here's my outfit for tomorrow!"

Don't get me wrong, we waited and waited and prayed and pleaded for the opportunity to grow our family, and welcoming 2 babies in 2 months was definitely double the blessing.  My complaint is not with the kids nor the energy drain that comes with them, but the disappointment in myself for not being able to "do it all".

But lately, when I find myself berating my poor 'ol brain for grabbing a wet and torn Maple leaf off the front sidewalk on the way to the car for Leaf Day, I remind myself to laugh and cut myself some slack.  We all have seasons, and this is my season to be a bit spacey.  Although to the naked eye, I've accomplished nothing in the last 24 hours, in my reality, I've wrestled a tantruming Spork into his car seat 2 times and successfully coaxed him in twice.  I've made 3 meals, 2 snacks, and cleaned all the dishes.  I've run and folded 2 loads of laundry, hand-washed swimsuits, and treated jam stains.  I've wiped drippy noses with 13 tissues.  I've doled out allergy and reflux meds on time.  I've reminded toddlers to use their gentle hands, and I've walked the 6yo through non-violent problem-solving more times than I care to remember.  I've bathed and re-dressed 3 children.  I read Hi, Cat 17 times and Baby Faces 22 times.  I've changed just under 2 dozen diapers and plunged 1 clogged toilet.  I've scheduled a dishwasher repair and earned myself a free box of Larabars by calling customer service to report an unsealed wrapper (yes, I'm my mother's daughter).  I've applied 2 ice packs to invisible yet apparently highly painful child injuries and I've pried 1 of those ice packs out of a teething baby's gator-like jaws.

The numbers of my day are trivial and small.  But they're not insignificant.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pocketful of Sunshine

Normally our autumns are glorious days of crisp mornings, lots of golden sunshine punctuated by occasional gray days, canopies of colorful leaves, and the last gasps of summer warmth in the afternoons.  This year, autumn is still happening, but summer did not want to give up her clutches, so October opened with a mini heat wave.  A week and a half later, it was snowing, before our leaves even changed.  Luckily, it looks like Mother Nature grabbed both Winter and Summer by the scruff of the neck and tossed them into the penalty box so Autumn could get her day in the sun, so to speak.  It's going to be fleeting, so we're darn well going to enjoy it.  This week's grocery bundle included local Macintosh apples, a can of pumpkin puree, Blue Moon Pumpkin Ale, and the last jug of apple cider left on the shelf.  We are eating up the season, and I want seconds.

 More farm fun on the jumping pillow and corn box.

 Zoo Boo
 Halloween craft playdate.  Spork spent a lot of time carefully creating a play-doh spider, then squashed it with a vengeance.  I also got some adorable pics of Spork and Tater together, wish I could show them to you..hopefully just a few more months til her lil' face is legal blog fodder.

Spork was having a major grump session til I got out the rakes.  Behold, the curative power of nature.


Our annual trek to the pumpkin patch was put off this year until the last minute.  Cons:  cold fingers, toddlers who refused to keep mittens on, hoodies and coats instead of the coordinating outfits I had planned.  Pros:  a great deal on tickets through Hubby's work, a smaller crowd/no lines, and the squirrels have less time to munch on our goods before Halloween!

Sorry, Spork!  Family rule is that you have to be able to lift your own pumpkin.

Tater wanted all of them.

The Nugget was determined to get this big fella.

 "This year, I want to make my pumpkin look really scary!"

 Matching scary faces!

Too little to carve, but big enough to decorate!