Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I am not dead. Yet.

I haven't written on here for a ridiculously long time, and I'm not REALLY writing on here, because I have no plans for coherence, or pictures.  So not really a real blog post.  But I got done the two photo books I had coupons for that were expiring tonight (I think it's something genetic, I don't think anyone in my family can do something BEFORE the deadline) and now I have to go to bed because the ridiculously evil strep throat that has laid ten family members (TEN!!!) down low still has its claws in my throat.  Or that's what it feels like.  I have a clean house, thanks to a lovely meeting here tonight, so tomorrow I may actually read a book, or read people's blogs, or take a nap, or maybe wash the sheets.  It's a mixed forecast.  I will not be posting pictures, because in the sickly blur of leaving Vaughans' last weekend, I forgot my camera.  And Lincoln's blue sippy cup.  And my favorite potato peeler.  But the potato peeler shouldn't affect the blog much.  I have an awesome quote about reading from Sandra Boynton that I want to post, but I have no idea where Elliott took the magazine that contained the quote, but you can salivate while waiting for it.  In family news, important and not-so, the kids started piano lessons this afternoon; Elliott's strep throat culture came back positive today; Lincoln is talking a lot, and says his own name; Evan is spending inordinate amounts of time on the Maple Trader website; Marilla will turn four (FOUR!!) on Sunday; my punctuation and grammar would make a third-grade dropout cry tonight; and Cheyenne seems to have grown about four inches overnight.  We are heading northward this weekend for some sugaring fun, cousin visits, union meeting, and a birthday extravaganza.  If I can actually buy the child a present or make her a cake before then.  Again, mixed forecast.

Okay, I'll shut up now.  Nighty-night to all!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Busy Home Days

It's been a busy couple of weeks, but the good kind of busy.  Not the have-to-run-a-million errands busy, just steady work.  I would far rather do laundry all day, cook a bunch of meals, sweep floors, and pick up toys than have to go somewhere with the little kids during the day.  I don't know if I'm lazy, or anti-social, or just content in my housewife role.  Anyway, pictures of the last few weeks!

Cheyenne at Winter Fun Day.  It's such a pathetic winter, they had to stay inside to play instead of playing in the snow.  The PTA president sent me this picture of Cheyenne (because I'm the kind of mommy who stays home instead of volunteering with two kids in tow), and it looks like she's enjoying herself.

Here's another picture from the energetic PTA president, when I went into school to eat lunch with Cheyenne this Monday.  It is Take Your Family to School Week this week.  Maybe when I don't have toddlers home with me, it will feel a little less like Fill Your Life With Stress Week.  (see: above, about leaving the house with kids).  I went and ate lunch with Elliott today, too.  It is nice to see the kids during the day, but trying to carry lunch trays and coats and purse and navigate Lincoln and Marilla through the halls was a little exhausting.

We had a puzzle day a couple of Sundays ago.  Cheyenne got out her 100 piece puzzle...

(think those braids are long enough?)

while Daddy worked on a 2000 piece puzzle. 

Cute puzzle observers.

Sweet little friends.

Rilla looking proud, as she checked herself out in the mirror.  I had given into pleading, and done an "Aunt Bet Braid."

It took a little longer than her normal hairdo, but it was certainly worth it when she caught a glimpse of it in the mirror.

This isn't a great picture, but you start by dividing the hair down the middle.  French braid one side, but don't bother braiding very far down.  Put an elastic in, or have the kid hold it.  French braid the other side, then put the two braids together by taking the two strands that touch in the middle and making them the middle strand for the new single braid.  I'm not a technical writer, as you can tell by reading that, but that's the gist of it.

Lincoln, in his favorite place (brushing his teeth or creating water havoc), with one of his favorite things-- a book!

We got a Valentine's package from Auntie, and there was much rejoicing.

Rilla and her loot...

Elliott with his...

And Cheyenne helping Lincoln open his candy.

I took the kids out to play the other day, despite the fact there was very little snow out.  I usually just let Rilla play outside by herself, but Lincoln was so very excited, coat in hand, that I couldn't refuse him.

This girl plays outside at LEAST once a day.  Thankfully, she is getting better and better at dressing herself.  So grown-up!

In this picture, they are watching the fascinating garbage truck pick up the neighbor's garbage!

Then, saluting the garbage man!  She was probably waving, but it's funnier to think of saluting.  We don't have cool tractors in our suburban life, so we get by with school bus and garbage truck sightings.

One mitten off already...

Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum.  Especially Lincoln with his bulging pants.

The reading kids.  Tintin is HUGE here.  Rilla makes her dollhouse people be Tintin, Snowy, Thompson and Thompson, and Blistering Blue Barnacles.

Bop-It is another thing that's big right now.  It calls out commands, and you have to bop it, or twist it, or pull it, or spin it, or flick it.  Once you get 100 commands in a row, it unlocks the next level (where the commands might be colors, or sounds, or combinations).  Anyway, Elliott is seriously good at this.  It is full-body exercise when he plays.  He walks around the house, bopping and flicking away, his little body contorting all over the place.  Hilarious.  The other day, the batteries died, and after putting new batteries in, Evan set about beating the levels to unlock them.  Elliott sidled up to me and whispered (so as not to interrupt Daddy's concentration) "Daddy is saving the day!"

Elliott's other exercise is playing Magnet-Shoot.  He lays on the floor, moving the magnets on the fridge in an intricate pattern.  Despite the fact he calls this game Magnet-Shoot, it never sounds violent.  I find it hilarious that he has named this activity, not that he just "plays with magnets."

It's probably because the poor boy can't get his computer fix in the half-hour a week his cruel mother allots him.  On Sunday, Evan caught him hitting his head with his hand.  When Evan asked why he was doing this, Elliott said, "My brain keeps telling me to play computer, but it's not my computer day, so I'm telling my brain to stop!"  Evan thinks he might need more time on the computer...  :-)

And now, for the art show.  Elliott was REALLY into valentines.  He's also into exploring nicknames, which explains this card from "Ell" to "Ev".

I was magnanimous the other day and let him have a whole poster board for coloring.  Then Rilla colored the bottom paper.  I love how the entire paper is full of color.

This was Rilla's latest.  She tells me it is a picture of the sun coming up.  So smart.

My hilarious cousin-in-law, Sheena, wrote a post the other day about her diaper bag, and it made me remember I had never put up pictures off my first "purse" since I ditched a diaper bag.  Bethaney is disgusted with me, since I bought a lunch bag, but I love shape of it, and the pattern.  I hate the way purses bump on your hip, and swing forward and bonk your child's head the second you lean over to help the child.  I may find an actual purse I can hold in my hand someday, but for now, this works splendidly.

I don't think I ever put up a picture of this, either-- my birthday present from Lisa!  A table runner that doubles as a hot pad!  It dresses up the table so nicely, and saves me scrambling to try and arrange a hot pad with one hand while holding a piping hot 13x9 pan with the other one.

And, Miss Take-A-Picture-of-Me!  She's wearing the most disreputable shirt.  Cheyenne wore it as often as I would allow her when she was little, and now Rilla has discovered it.  I did make her see the light about warmth, and put a turtleneck underneath.  I love hearing Rilla's thoughts these days.  We were in the car last week, and somehow the topic got onto sharks.  Rilla said, "If the shark KNOWS me, the shark won't eat me.  So if a shark comes, I will say 'Shark, I am Marilla, and this is Lincoln, and Elliott, and Cheyenne, and Clover, and Evan.' "  Elliott piped up with, "Rilla, animals don't understand!" and Rilla shot right back, "I will tell them LOUDLY!"

This evening, Elliott and Cheyenne had their first piano lesson!  I've been wanting to get them lessons for ages, but I could never find anyone locally.  We put an ad on Craigslist, contacted all the school music teachers, Googled every search term I could think of-- nothing.  Finally started calling music stores, and found a place in the mall about 20 minutes away.  It's not ideal-- we would love to have someone come to the house, or at least have someone in our town, but it's a start.  I will have the mall available so we can go on stroller walks to keep the little kids occupied.  We had a trial lesson with another teacher that we really liked, but there was nowhere for me to hang out with the little kids while the big kids had their lessons.  Since the two different teachers were identical in price, location (just across the road from each other), and the music books they use, we decided to go with the place that made it easier to corral the Littles.  Cheyenne and Elliott are excited, and it's made me want to practice the piano more!

Busy weeks ahead of us-- this unseasonable weather means sap is running, so sugaring might be happening a lot earlier this year!

Friday, February 3, 2012

You Win a CAR!!!!!

See, the witty title is because this is my 200th blog posting, so it feels like I should do something noteworthy, exciting, and free-car-ish.  But if I wait until I feel up to that level of coolness, I will never post again.  So, despite the alluring title, this is a regular, run-of-the-mill post, in which I talk about my kids and made snide comments about character education in schools.  Exciting, no?

Today, the kindergarten classes presented a skit about honesty to the whole school (all the way up to 2nd graders!) and parents.  It was about as polished as you would expect a kindergarten performances to be-- about three kids actually sang the song, lots of milling around the stage, etc.  But what really pushed the performance towards embarrassingly bad was when they projected a YouTube video about honesty up on the back of the stage.  That alone would have me rolling my eyes a bit (hello, we are here to watch our children be cute, cut the technology!), but it was a BAD video.  As in, my grandma can rhyme better than that.  As in, Cheyenne is definitely a better artist than whoever illustrated that thing.  As in, we-have-shoved-quality-under-the-bus-to-find-earnest-video-about-honesty.  Anyway, so you can snicker like the bad parents Evan and I were (and are), here's a link to it.

And now, bedtime has crept up on me once again.  In honor of my 200th post, I checked the numbers on the little widget that keeps track of how many people visit my blog.  People have clicked on my blog 47, 580 times.  It makes me feel like someone actually reads this-- and I'm sure only 95% of the visits are from my relatives wishing I would just shut up already and put some kid pictures up.  Well, stick around, Lovely Readers, and maybe by the 500th post, you can be entered into a drawing for our 2001 Chevy Venture.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bad Mother Moment #392, and other ramblings

Elliott lost his first tooth yesterday.  It's been wiggly since Christmas, but it's hung in there.  It finally fell out yesterday morning.

Per Elliott's instructions, Daddy had to take a picture on his phone to send to Auntie.  Then, to keep the tooth safe, we put it in a little plastic ziploc container.

Okay, this morning is when the Bad Mommy moment kicks in.  As I was drowsily coming to grips with getting out of bed, I heard a wail from downstairs, as an up-way-too-early Elliott started looking for his tooth.  Instantly, my blood froze.  I knew exactly where that tooth was.  Or, were it had been 12 hours before as I had been mechanically filling the dishwasher.  I could so clearly see me dump the little rattly "crumbs" out of the bottom of the kid's "snack" container, into the garbage disposal, before placing the container in the dishwasher.  Knowing that you have destroyed your child's first tooth before the tooth fairy even got dibs on it is one way of starting the morning.

Anyway, after a whispered explanation to Evan, I assured Elliott that I would look for his tooth while he ate his oatmeal.  Thankfully, the kids like to read while they eat breakfast, so they didn't notice me slinking upstairs (to write a note from the tooth fairy) and over to my purse (to extract a guilt-motivated record of $3) and going into the kitchen and getting the container out of the dishwasher... finally, I was able to convincingly exclaim, "Elliott!  Look what I found!".  He bought the whole tooth fairy idea, and was excited enough about his moolah to not question how the tooth fairy found his tooth on the messy counters.  He's read a book about how the tooth fairy is building a castle with all the teeth she takes, so he told me that's where his tooth was.  I don't really push the idea of the tooth fairy (Cheyenne is at the nudge-nudge-wink-wink stage of wanting the money but knowing the tooth fairy is short, fat, and forgetful), but I was happy to play it up this morning!  Disaster averted!

Then, on to a busy morning.  Besides putting away all the laundry I had washed Monday morning (it's been a busy week, okay??), here is what my morning consisted of.  These are the things I had to do this morning, thanks to Lincoln, and Lincoln alone.  I'm sure there were more, but this is all I remember.
  • Clean up the Cheerios, milk, and oatmeal smeared ALL over the table during my five-minute bathroom break during breakfast.  We're talking at least five minutes of scrubbing, let alone the newspaper parts and napkins that had to be thrown out because they were saturated.
  • Clean his high chair tray for several minutes, since he carefully shook milk out of his sippy cup into every crack and crevice (this, while the Tooth Fairy was running around assembling the guilt money and note).
  • Fish unfolded clean socks out of the damp bathtub.
  • Put all the toothbrushes back in their cup, after he was overly eager reaching for his toothbrush.
  • Empty the bread drawer and pull it off its slides to get rid of all the pretzel crumbs and pretzel salt that resulted when the bag of pretzels was dumped upside down on top off all the bread bags.
  • Picked up all the batting strewn on his floor, from where he unzips his pillow and pulls the stuffing out when he gets bored at night.
  • Picked books up off the floor that were pulled off the shelf willy-nilly.  (This happens a LOT!)
  • Fill the diaper changing table back up with all the stuff he had pulled out-- extra wipes, diapers, hats, boots, blankets, etc.
  • Refilled Elliott's treasure box, which was strewn all over Elliott's bed and bureau and floor.
  • I never did get around to erasing the pencil lines all over Elliott's wall, now that I think of it...
This is, of course, in addition to all the diaper changes, snack procurement, book reading and other normal activities that go along with having a toddler in the house.  This kid is working hard to make sure I don't get too teary-eyed about him getting older!

As I attempted to clean up my extremely messy house this afternoon, I found lots of artwork that I thought needed documenting.  Here is the pinnacle of the dreaded Mommy Blog-- subjecting you to all my little darlings' scribblings.

Cheyenne has definitely moved beyond the scribbling stage.  Here's two pictures she drew for Marilla and Elliott.  Both portraits are of cat-loving Parisians (note the berets), standing on a bridge over a river.  Elliott's mustachioed artist holds his paint palette and paintbrush, and his bridge has wrought-iron spikes.  I have no memory of ever drawing such details in my pictures, my daughter is obviously heaps smarter than me.

Marilla's intricate project this afternoon, intended for her teacher.  Yeah, she's a little desperate to start school.

Marilla colored this for me, telling me it was "flowers just like your wedding."  They must have been looking at old photo albums, I have no idea how she knew that I carried roses at our wedding.

Elliott colored this one, at first saying it was for Grandma, then generously presenting it to Cheyenne when she came home from school.  (He was out of school for two days with an ear infection.  Again).

I can't remember if I took a picture of this one before, but I just unearthed it from a stack of papers.  Elliott drew it this fall, and I'm not sure he set out to encapsulate melancholia, but I love the slightly wary, not-so-sure-of-life look on this little guy's face.

Time out from art photography, to get another picture of the Tooth That Used to Be.  Actually, he won't look gap-toothed at all, since the adult tooth erupted way behind the baby tooth, and is already quite big.  He's quite proud to show everyone the space, though, including the lunch lady at school today.

My African violet is FINALLY blooming!  It has been lush and healthy looking for ages now, but no blooms.  It's a welcome sight in this stretch of winter.  Although, on a little weather tangent, we have had a super wimpy winter.  Warm, little snow... Until Monday, when it snowed 22 inches all at once, and we had an epic snow day.  By today, though, the warm temperatures have melted all but an inch or two.  Weirdness all round.

Okay, back to my little Norman Rockwells...  This is a card Elliott made for Cheyenne one afternoon.

He's even spelling her name, somewhat topsy-turvily (I don't think that's a word, but it should be.)

Elliott sure did miss Cheyenne while he was at home, and she was at school!  His ear drum seems to have ruptured Sunday night, so I took him to the pediatrician Monday morning (through the mess that is 22 inches of instantaneous snow).  The doctor put him on antibiotic ear drops, but he was still in quite a bit of pain Tuesday, so I kept him home.  Wednesday, he had a long-standing appointment to see the ear specialist in Syracuse.  We first saw a resident, who suctioned out some of the goop from his ears, and seemed confident that the doctor would recommend another tube for the ear that had lost its tube.  However, when the doctor came in, he favored a wait-and-see strategy.  I honestly don't know if I was glad of that, or if I wanted the tubes in.  I just hope, either way, my poor little guy doesn't have to suffer too much more with those silly ears of his.

Okay, and just to make this post as random as humanly possible, here's a blurb on a book I found in my daily Shelf Awareness e-mail.

"Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life by Natalie Dykstra (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780618873852) is a biography of Henry Adams' wife, a privileged and popular woman who killed herself in 1885."
I finally find a historically significant person with my name, just to learn that she is most famous for her suicide.  Bummer.

And, on that uplifting note, goodnight...