Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

The Bunny.  I felt a little wishy-washy about the Bunny this year.  On one hand, I have an adorable picture of the Nugget with the Bunny as a baby.  (To clarify, only one of these bunnies is adorable.  The other, quite frankly, is frightening.)

On the other hand, some of those Bunnies are Donnie Darko-creepy, and I was about 98% sure that Spork would not approve.  Wasn't sure I wanted to make the effort to freak Spork out if I didn't have Daddy around for backup.  But I was feeling sad when my Facebook page was splashed with babies meeting Bunnies, and when I found out there was one Bunny still available the day before Easter, and he was free, I had to try it.  We drove past with the intention of going right out to dinner if the Bunny's line was too long or if he seemed too scary, but he was a perfect white fluffball of a Bunny with friendly eyes and not another visitor in sight.

Tater immediately lit up when she spied him across the room.  Their eyes met, and she giggled and pointed, then looked up at me to make sure I saw him too.  She babbled, "Bah!  Bah!" and squirmed to get down as I took off her coat and bib.  When I set her down, she toddled right to him, shook his paw, gave him a high five, and patted him with a mile-wide smile.  When I lifted her to his lap, it was as if she were in heaven.  She would have communed with that Bunny all day.

The Nugget had stated that he didn't want to sit on the Bunny but that he would stand next to it, and we snapped a great picture.  The Nugget gave the Bunny a high five and a shy smile, and a nervous-excited goofy sound the way he does.

Then Spork entered the scene, and it was basically his own private horror movie.  He clung to Daddy's leg and peered at Tater hugging the Bunny very warily.  Daddy gently led him towards the Bunny, and he whined and hid.  Daddy lifted him and tried to pose for a picture nearby the Bunny, and Spork attempted to launch himself and Daddy far away from the danger.  Daddy foolishly attempted once to deposit Spork on the Bunny's lap, and it was as if he were trying to put Spork down in a fiery pit of crocodiles, such was the escape effort made by our cautious guy.  When at a safer distance from the Bunny, we zipped up coats, and Spork mustered the courage to timidly peek and wave at the Bunny.  We thought maybe he was warming up, but he was running a scientific experiment.  At this point, he thought the Bunny was a scary over-large stuffed animal.  But the Bunny WAVED BACK!  Spork cringed, then went rigid with terror and started whimpering and climbing Daddy's legs.  "It's alive!!!!" he seemed to say, "Run!"

Also on Saturday, the Nugget did some "tie dye" eggs.  Each year, I look for a different egg decorating kit on clearance.  So far, the Nugget has done glitter paint, roller paint, traditional dip dyes, and the tie dye makes egg experience #4.  At first, he was pretty disappointed that it wasn't "painting" but then he ended up having a blast dripping the colors on with the tiny eyedropper and blotting them to perfection.  "This one looks like the ocean.  And this one is so so beautiful."  His favorite party was using the hairdryer to blast on the shrink wrap sleeves.

In the morning, the kids got into their baskets, and we did 2 inside egg hunts (it was a bit damp outside this morning).  We invited our neighbor M over for some hunt action, here are the kids anxiously awaiting his arrival so they can start foraging.  And that's as close as we're going to get for an Easter photo with all 3.  While they are not facing the camera, no one is smacking/pinching/screaming, and there are no visible nose dribbles, so I think it's a winner.

I love the way Spork holds his hands behind his back.  It's one of his typical stances.

Just one more photo flashback, because hand-me downs make my heart happy. Nugget 2008.

We headed out to a special Easter brunch at the campus dining hall.  It was a little spendy per plate but it was an unlimited buffet with beverages included, and all the kids were free, so it ended up being less than what we typically spend going out.  (They may rethink that kids under 6 eat free policy if they noticed how much the Nugget and Spork tucked away.)

My favorite part of the day was turning the kids loose with chalk and bubbles after we ate.  All smiles and full bellies, they frolicked in the sunshine, dirtied their khakis and white tights, and it was just perfection.

 Tater is so stinking cute and photogenic like her brothers, it kills me that I can't share full photos of her yet.  People keep asking me when, when when, but trust me, the cyber-netz will probably crash that day because proud mama will be so busy posting back-logged pictures of Tater Tot.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sunny Days

Bonus points if you just sang the Sesame Street theme in your head.  Heck, bonus points all around, because it's Spring Break, the lamb finally kicked the lion's tushie, Hubby is home from back-to-back work trips, and all is right with the world.

Shedding winter coats and mittens, and replacing them with layers of hoodies, sweaters, and vests, and a bit of sand on our backsides for good measure.  Spork learned to slide solo this week.  "Sit, scoot, slide, Beavs," we encouraged.  After a lot of pouty faces and a few frustration tantrums, he got it.  "Sit, scoooo, side," he chant-mutters to himself at the top and he bumps down on his bum.  Dissatisfied with his landing, he whines but immediately rushes to the steps again, eager for another try.

We tried the new campus playground the Nugget has been badgering me about since he first noticed it.  "Too shocky," was the verdict, but once a new friend joined in on the play, the static electricity was forgotten, and he was all smiles and nimble feet.

The awesomest (that might not be a word) thing about this playground is that it is fully fenced with a squeaky gate that toddlers cannot operate!  It is also only busy on football weekends, so it was the perfect place for me to try Mama vs. 3 mobile children at the park.  As you can see, Tater is not going to settle for the Ergo/stroller in the park this year, no sir-ee Bob.

We finished up with a long walk to a campus eatery, and the boys and I enjoyed some wood-fired pizza.  The Nugget was especially pleased that the small amount of ash on the pizza's crust left a smashing mustache.  He asked a lot of questions about college and for a split second, I imagined having pizza with him before dropping him off at his dorm, his lanky body 3 feet taller, and this pizza stache replaced with the beginnings of a real one.  I quickly rewound myself back to this moment, because here and now will be then way too soon for my liking. 

It would not  be going too far to say children are typically beloved on this particular campus, and the kids got a lot of smiles and waves and "awwws".  I received unsolicited door help with the stroller every time, and although the restaurant works on a buzzer system, a student worker happily delivered our trays out to us and retrieved the buzzer for us, before it even went off.  A manager checked in to make sure the kids loved their food and offered to bring me extra napkins if I needed them, "Just holler!"  Oh, how I love raising our kids here!
Mentioned out of the blue in the car:  "I just can't stop loving Giraffe."

Did I mention that Giraffe has officially finally been named?  While some lovies come with names, many others are nameless because I like to let the children give them a moniker.  Seems an important rite of claiming to me.  So in the meantime, we just call them what they are - cat, puppy, bear.  Well, Bedtime Giraffe is officially Sophia, although the Nugget usually lapses and calls her Giraffe.  Add that to his dog named Katherine, and the Nugget seems to have a thing for classic lady names.

"Mommy, zippers are just so magical."

"I can't resist the taste of this gum."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sugar Camp Days

Last St. Patrick's Day had a high of 80 degrees.  This year, it was a bit more blustery.  No matter, thanks to the Nugget's latest field trip, we knew there was a festival going on to celebrate the sugar maples.  And you know how we feel about festivals!  We bundled the kidlets, and off we went.

The main attraction was a pancake breakfast with fresh maple syrup.  Alas, there were no high chairs, so instead of snapping pictures of our darlings stuffing their faces, Hubby and I were each holding a sticky toddler on our laps while attempting to cut pancakes with plastic knives and keeping said toddlers from flinging flimsy cups of orange juice on the brave souls who dared to sit down next to us.  

When we finished the pancake challenge, I took the babies outside to play while the big boys finished eating.  Spork found a big stick, and it was love at first sight.  

Next up was a ride on the horse-drawn wagon.  Spork and Tater were amazed by the massive draft horses who clopped by every few minutes.  But the line was long, so the Nugget led everyone on a constitutional up an outdoor staircase to nowhere while Daddy waited in line.  

The long-awaited wagon ride was one-way and about 2 minutes long.  I think we waited for 30.  Oh well, Disney World training, I suppose.

We were approaching naptime rapidly, and the babes were starting to register that not only were they tired, but they were a mite cold.  There was nothing we could do but laugh while we wrestled screaming tots into fresh dipes and tucked them into the minivan with the heat cranked up.  The screaming lasted all of 8 minutes before both passed out for the remainder of the drive.

This one had maple popcorn for the ride home, so he was munching blissfully while his little sibs battled for the title of America's Next Top Screamer.  So marks the beginning of festival season - looking forward to many more family adventures!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Spork last Easter

Late winter in the Midwest is such a tease.  A few days of 40's to make us pull out the spring jackets and rain boots, then it's back to snow and ice.  Happy to be stocking up Easter basket gifts, because it makes me feel like Spring will be here for real someday soon.  For the record, I'm ok with a slow so much in life, the wait makes it better ;)

Each basket this year is going to come out well under $15, and there are no "throwaways" here, but real things the kids will use to death.  I have one new shopping source for you (see Tater's list) but sorry to say that most of the items come from my weekly Target run.  As always, my motto is buy it on clearance and hoard it til you need it.  I've been keeping 2 plastic bags on my craft table for the Easter goodies and have been slowly adding to them throughout the year.

The Nugget (5.5 years):
-Triangle bought ages ago from the Dollar Spot
-Mini Lego set bought on Target post-Valentine's clearance (but it's a picnic set, not VDay related at all)
-Coloring book
-Long-coveted Fluttershy for my favorite Brony
-Gum, chocolates, individual bag of "Bunny Tails" cheese balls (Target clearance), and Annie's bunny fruit snacks

Spork (1.5 years):
-Mini broom and dustpan from the Dollar Spot
-Coloring book
-Egg shaped sidewalk chalk bought on clearance from last year
-No-spill bubble tumbler
-Teensy Fruits and bag of cheese balls

Tater (1 year):
-2 small plastic bento boxes
-Lobster purse won through Gymbo Lovers Auction Page for half this price.  And yes, this is more for Mama than Tater, I admit.
-No-spill bubble tumbler
-Elephant watering can from the Dollar Spot
-Teensy Fruits

Cabbage (2.5 years): playground set
Baby Bean (6 months): Inchbug labels

I almost listed Hubby's basket contents too but he reads this blog occasionally, so I better not.  Maybe I'll add a postscript after the fact, because I believe in adult goodies for holidays too!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fiberglass and Chocolate

The Nugget at a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party.

During the Nugget's dance recital, Hubby and I had to suppress our giggles and eyerolls at his constant pleas for attention.   "Miss B, look at me!  I'm doing it, Miss B!  Watch my moves!"  He wasn't the only attention-seeker in the group, but he definitely had the most requests.  Miss B was incredibly patient, as always; that woman is a saint.  The funniest thing that happened was when Miss B led the children into a rocketship pose, with their hands and one foot planted, and the other leg held high in the air.  She was encouraging them to be very strong, and the children were proudly exclaiming how strong they were.  "I'm as strong as a tree!"  "I'm super duper strong!"  The Nugget added, "I'm as strong as fiberglass."

N:  Did you know that moles wear glasses?
M:  Really?
N:  Because they can barely see, so they have to wear glasses.
M:  Where do they get glasses?  From the doctor?  From a store?
N:  Well, no.  They have an underground shop for the glasses.  And they can also get candy or other things that they want.
M:  Do they have jobs to earn money for the mole shop?
N:  No, everything is free.
M:  So moles are communists...interesting.
N:  Yup.
We recently hosted "Chocolate the Bear" for 36 hours.  According to the paperwork, we were to give this teddy bear a "typical family adventure" with 3-4 photos, then send him to work with Daddy who was also to take 3-4 photos with Chocolate at work.  Then we were to journal Chocolate's experience and the Nugget was to draw a picture of something fun he did with Chocolate.  Now, I knew there was a traveling bear and that the Nugget was eager to have his turn, but I didn't realize that we would have zero notice about the project, just an ominous exciting note that said, "Check your locker for Chocolate!"

My first thought was, "I don't have time for this damn bear today."  The Nugget, in typical Nugget-fashion was elated and literally vibrating with excitement.  So I plastered a smile on my face and let the Nugget stay up a bit past bedtime so we could give Chocolate a proper teddy bear adventure.  As we were out of milk, we determined that Chocolate had probably never been to a real grocery store before, "He can meet the lobsters," the Nugget squealed, so off to the market we went.  After I managed to shake off my grouchiness about the inconvenience of it all, I ended up feeling stoked that I captured some sweet pictures of our big boy's fleeting innocence.  The Nugget insisted on bringing the doll-sized Ergo, and when we first arrived, he whispered, "Chocolate is feeling a little scared, so he's going to stay under my coat."  But Chocolate was very excited to meet the lobsters, so he got over his shyness to wave at the tank of doomed crustaceans.  (Did I ever mention that I used to beg my mom to let me buy one so I could rescue it from its fate?  She never did cave, but if the Nugget asked me to save a lobster, Hubby would come home to several of them in the bathtub.  Ok, maybe just one since they are apparently $14.99 a piece.  Actually, knowing this boy, when he finds out they are edible, he'd probably just ask for some melted butter.)

The Nugget really wanted to weigh Chocolate on every scale he saw.  Bear is a little heftier than I thought.

Chocolate decided he wanted to try the baby seat in the cart too, which was very convenient for propping up the live basil.  "He just loves the smell," the Nugget translated for him.

Hubby was at first a better sport than me.  "Just be glad it's not something alive, like a rabbit."  That was until I told him he had to take the teddy bear to work with him the next day and photograph it 3-4 times.  Then my serious hardworking Hubby turned a shade paler, ha!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hands Full

"Have you ever smelled spaghetti?  It smells difficult." - N

I left the Nugget dancing to a favorite cd while I took the babies upstairs to change them into pajamas.  Upon our return, we found him still dancing but stripped down to his underpants and using an umbrella as a prop!  It was quite the routine, I wish I'd had the camera handy to take a video, but the memory is burned in my brain.  When I asked why the wardrobe change, he stated, "Well I was so hot from all the dancing that I decided to take my shirt and pants off."

The 5.5 year old Nugget is the king of exaggeration.  A few examples:
-I can kick my leg as high as Mars.  Maybe even out of the solar system.
-Tater Tot pinched me, and it felt like a shot.
-I can see all the way to Belgium right now.
-I fell and got hurt and I don't think my heart is even beating anymore.
-When I'm running, sometimes I go as fast as an airplane.

After a recent stomach upset, the Nugget likes to horrify his emetophobic mother by recounting to everyone who will listen how many times he threw up and which objects received his vomit.  I keep telling him he doesn't need to talk about it, but he is convinced that inquiring minds want to know.

Spork is popping his final molar, so we're having a challenging week.  He has gone into full-on 18 month mode, which means the following:
-Lots of tantrums with high-decibel screaming
-Smacking at us and throwing things
-Shoving, grabbing from, and trying to knock down sibs.  Tater takes the brunt of it, but she is feisty and fearless in trying to get her property back, while the Nugget's current method of handling Spork attacks is to scream disciplinary phrases, "Spork, we do NOT push!!!," then burst into tears.

Luckily he likes the make-up cuddles, and when I feel his squishy cheek against mine as he relaxes into my lap with a story of his choosing, I remember that even though he's a big guy and likes to play the part, he is still has one foot very much planted in his babytown.  He needs love and cuddles and connection most when he acts like he doesn't want them.

Spork is exploding with exclamations and proclamations.  He does everything big.  He stomps instead of walking.  He screams instead of crying.  He yells instead of talking.  He is adorable, inventive, resourceful, calculating, and eager.  He often wakes in a foul disposition, but when his belly is full and there are adventures to be had, he is the picture of toddler delight.  He is most often a serious child, but sometimes he'll go into a slap-happy mood where he is spinning, laughing, and being silly.  I love both his serious and the silly sides, this boy who pushes me, challenges me, infuriates me, and melts my heart, makes me a better person.

Spork has new words almost daily:  more, thank you, bus, ball, book, dog, duck, quack, cow, I fell, blocks, poop, up, no, Mama, Daddy, Nugget, Tater, Doggie
Signs too:  more, please, all done, again, book, airplane, water, milk, eat, thank you

The Nugget and Grandpa have taken to calling Tater Tot, "The Ninja".  Stealth is her nature, and I find myself having to ignore the din of the boys to take a quick head count several times a day.  When The Ninja is missing, I'll find her in the bathroom unrolling toilet paper or in the office standing on her tiptoes to work the mouse.  We joke that someday she'll buy a jet ski online and we won't know until it's delivered.  In the space of 10 minutes, you could find her standing on the craft table, behind the couch, or in the pantry.

Like any 1yo, she's starting to practice throwing tantrums too.  Her strategy involves flipping herself backwards to the floor and writhing around in faux agony, then securely velcroing herself to an adult leg until you pick her up.  She is so tenacious that if you try to walk with her attached to your leg, she will HOLD ON and let herself be dragged across the floor.  Sometimes this makes her giggle and the tantrum is forgotten.  She has a lone tooth, at long last.  She is 18 pounds, 13 ounces at 15 months, which is about what her brothers weighed at 5 months old.  It's still trippy to see such a little peanut walking around, especially when we're out and about in the world which makes her seem smaller.  She still has a mighty "pinch and twist", so you have to beware if she's near your face, but she also can be gentle and likes to knead her fingers in your hair or the edge of your sleeve.  She adores Doggie and strokes her carefully about 50% of the time.

I can already picture her yelling, "Me too!" She always wants to be in the middle of the melee.  She is starting to feel frustrated that she can't yet climb up on the couch (but I have a feeling she'll soon jury rig a stepstool).  When the boys pull out a toy, she's right there, wanting to know what they're doing, demanding to be included.

She plays peekaboo like a champ, though she sometimes covers her cheeks instead of her eyes, which is among the cutest things I've ever seen.  She is clearly an extrovert and as long as I'm in view, she'll go introduce herself to strangers wherever we go.
I've noticed this phenomenon for parents with 3+ children.  "You have your hands full."  At first, I shrugged it off, strangers like to have some comment ready for parents and 3 makes for a "big" family these days.  Later, I started feeling annoyed by it, as if it were an implication that I wasn't handling my herd gracefully, that it was a insult that meant they were annoyed by a screaming Spork who didn't want to get in the grocery cart, put off by the stains on my sweater and my bedraggled ponytail.  Now I'm at peace with it, because simply put, it's the God's honest truth.  My hands are full.  My days are full.  My house is full.  My minivan is full.  My heart is full.  As busy, tired, bedraggled, and stressed as I can be sometimes, I do have this fullness because our family is complete.

I had a vision of Tater years ago while we were waiting for Lil' Sib (little did I know then that it was to be double trouble!); I was in the kitchen doing dishes and the Nugget was running back and forth in and out of the room.  And there was a little girl in footie pajamas watching me, I could only see the back of her head.  That vision comforted me when it seemed adoption would never happen for us, but I'd long forgotten it.  And it came true the other day, with a flash of deja vu and the prickling sensation of goosebumps all over my body.

I can pinpoint the restlessness I felt when I was a mama to "just" my dear Nugget; people would tell me to be grateful and just to stop because it would be easier.  And I was oh so grateful, yet through the heartache I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't right to stop trying.  And it's because they weren't together yet.  These little souls were meant to be together in our arms and under our roof.

I know I have adoption/foster followers, and if any of you out there are still waiting for that call, or if you've had disruptions that have broken your hearts beyond measure, I will never tell you to just give up, to just be happy with your marriage, your singleton, your two, your three, your ten.  Because if you have that restlessness, I believe it's because there's someone out there who is waiting to come home to you.