Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter is for Throwing Eggs.......

Well, we got all of our eggs dyed and filled right on time....and it was a lot of eggs....and by we, I mean mostly me.........

.....and when Easter morning arrived the boys had to hunt for their baskets which was quite the challenge since they are both afflicted with can't-finders-itis.....I think it's hereditary....from their father's side :)

They both got new flashlights and the obligatory Easter candy, and then Henry got some new garden tools and flower seed packets and David got his first real hammer....we've gone over the hammer rules but, it's David, so we'll see.....

Then it was off to the two hour mass, but not before I attempted a family photo went just about as well as you would expect........

....the blur in the corner is the surprise Henry blanket attack.

After mass was over--did I mention it was two hours?--we came home to set up for our fourth annual We're All a Bunch of Nomadic Drifters Who Have No Family Nearby to Celebrate With Easter Egg Hunt and Potluck....I know, the title could use a little work.........

We had seventeen adults and fourteen children so it was a little crazy in our tinyhouse.  But good crazy :)

Good crazy....and not a bit overwhelming :)

I think everyone had fun.....

.....and no babies were actually harmed.....well John Michael did intercept an egg meant for our neighbor with his I guess I'll have to amend that to no babies were seriously harmed.......

Our raccoons are going to have quite the Easter celebration as well, once they realize our yard is littered with fruity pebbles--who am I kidding, I totally bought generic dyno pebbles...hopefully the raccoons won't be too put out :)   

Happy Easter everyone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

He Peed on My Shoes

.....or, Why Having a Two Year Old is Like Having a Puppy.......

Is there an appropriate picture to go with this story?  Not really.

I told you how Henry has taken up doing his business anywhere around the house except the one place his business belongs.  Well, little man has taken it to the next level.  Now, if you take him out of his pull ups (or even diaper--yeah, we still had some left over) he will pretty much immediately go and spite pee on something.

This weekend Chris rounded the corner and saw the guilty face and wet undies:

Hubby:  "Did you pee pee?"
Henry:  "mmmm hhmmm"
Hubby:  "Where is it?"
Henry:  "Over there." (insert vague arm gesture)
Hubby:  "Show me."
Henry:  more definitive arm gesture
Hubby:  "On my shoes!  REALLY?"  (insert exasperated shoe cleaning)
Henry:  "Take that dad, you wanted another baby well now you have two.  Maybe you'll think twice next time and ask permission before bringing any new children into the house--MY house.  Go ahead, I dare you to have another baby."  (okay, I'm just guessing at his inner monologue here)

We've taken a potty training hiatus.  Touché Henry, you win this round.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Eggs are for Painting....

So we've been hosting Easter egg hunts on Easter Sunday for the past three years--mostly because I like to hold off on the egg hunts until Easter has actually arrived which pretty much means we have to have one at our house since everyone else already did theirs. 

Last year we did confetti eggs for the grown ups inspired by this oh happy day party.  I filled our eggs with fruity pebbles instead of confetti which was great because one, my yard wasn't covered in confetti and two, the boys were beyond excited since the only cereal they regularly have access to is boring old Cheerios--parenting side note:  if you set the bar low it doesn't take much to thrill your children :)  We also had one glitter-filled egg and whoever had that egg cracked over their head was declared the winner of the hunt and prizes were handed out accordingly.

One of our friends informed us that confetti eggs were actually called cascarones and that when he was growing up his entire extended family saved all of their eggs for the whole year just for this purpose and instead of confetti some of their cascarones were filled with more dubious substances such as flour or syrup or any other messy thing they could think of.  I loved the idea of this family tradition so much I decided to adopt it as our've gotta do what you've gotta do when you don't have any family traditions of your own to fall back on.  Plus cracking eggs on each other's heads is the perfect tradition for a house full of boys and the fun is in the activity, not in collecting a bunch of junky nonsense from plastic eggs or wasting hard boiled ones.  I think we'll hold off on booby trapping our eggs until the boys are old enough to do their own laundry though.  

After our egg hunt was over last year I realized that I didn't make nearly enough eggs, so this year I saved as many eggs as I could during Lent--whenever I needed one, instead of cracking them open I just used my kitchen scissors to poke a whole in one end and cut out a little circle, then I shook out the egg, rinsed them off and kept them in their containers to await their beautification.    

This week I realized though that since I've been buying organic eggs, my whole supply was brown.  I don't think it will matter for doing the traditional egg dyeing but I wanted to try some different techniques with the boys so I grabbed some white eggs this week.......

....and dumped them all into this measuring bowl to hopefully turn into scrambled eggs for breakfast all week.  I hate the idea of wasting food....even if it is full of yucky growth hormones :)

After trolling around Pinterest for egg dyeing inspiration I found this idea for watercolor eggs--I guess I should have re-read the instructions since they were just painting with the egg dye and I apparently only remembered the title and gave David his actual watercolors.  Oh well, these are super cute and involved much less clean up than mixing up a bunch of dye would have.......

David loved it.  Henry slept through it.  John Michael fussed in the Moby wrap--I don't recommend doing this with a baby tied to you if you can help it.  If you can't help it, don't worry, no one was ever permanently damaged by a few water color drops to the face.....

We're going to start on the rest of our eggs tomorrow with the food coloring method we did last year.  After this painting success I think I'll give the boys paint brushes and let them go to town if (okay, more like when) they get bored waiting for the eggs to soak up the dye.  You know ten minutes is a lifetime when you're two and four.  I'm hoping to have all the eggs colored and dry by Holy Saturday so we can spend the day filling them in preparation for Easter.  I'll let you know how it goes :)

Sorry for writing the longest post ever when all I really wanted to say was this: paint your eggs with's super fun....and not too messy.......the end.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Welcome to My Nightmare.....

You may want to avert your eyes from the scene of this lego-tastrophy......

This is my darling husband's childhood collection which he has been longing to introduce the boys to pretty much since they *mostly* stopped eating their toys.  This is not to be confused with his other unopened box of young adult legos which includes, but is not limited to, one giant submarine and one giant lights and sounds ship.

I've held him off opening this pandora's-box-o-legos for quite some time, precisely because I did not want the above to happen inside of my house (this disaster is in the garage).

Am I the only one with an aversion to legos?  Piles of wooden blocks strewn about the floor don't bother me.....well, they bother me a little but they don't lego bother me......

Plus look at all of the fun things you can make .....

You can even bring in the catapult into the mix for added block fun.....

....and *bonus* babies won't choke on giant blocks of wood and you're a lot less likely to inadvertently step on a big rainbow block than a microscopic piece of plastic.

But of course David loves the legos--especially since they were his daddy's.  Chris maintains that legos are not toys, but building supplies, the first step towards geometry and and physics and carpentry skills....really they are a homeschooling requirement.

I am not convinced.

I am outvoted.

I am in need of a lego storage plan.

Maybe this, or this?  I refuse to buy a bunch of plastic bins to store a bunch of plastic nonsense.  That's right, I said it....ridiculous amounts of legos = nonsense.  Has anyone done babies and legos before?  Once John Michael's mobile I'm thinking I may need to baby gate off the boys' room to contain the choke-able toys and still leave the door open so I can hear them.......

Friday, March 22, 2013

This Week with My Little Darlings....


Why We Have to Homeschool Our Children Because the Other Kids at School Probably Won't Appreciate Their Uniqueness....


Why Having a Newborn Hasn't Impacted My Sleep.....

or alternately,

Why I Need an I-phone.....(PS the answer to the last one is that these cell phone pics are sad, my apologies).

(is it everyone? does everyone say that?)

David has been really into fashion these days and insists on choosing his own outfits, which usually include a bow tie and rarely match.  I've been trying to imagine him walking into kindergarten in some of these get ups.  I can't imagine the other kids would appreciate his unique sense of style...or maybe I'm just not giving five year olds enough credit?  

In other parenting news, this is how I found Henry at about 10:30 in the morning the other day.....

....he was out cold.....

I feel like having John Michael hasn't really impacted my sleep so far, or at least my overall tiredness level.  I think it's a combination of finally jumping on the co-sleeping bandwagon and the fact that my children all wake up absurdly early (although now that David isn't napping anymore he has been getting up in the to 6:30-7 range which I'm told is much closer to the time regular children think morning begins).  Henry had been sleeping in to a more respectable hour too--you know, past 5:30, before the baby arrived on the scene.  Now he seems to be suffering from middle-child-itis and knows if he gets up first he gets me mostly to himself.  He's also decided that he's not a big boy and does not want big boy undies anymore and if you make him wear them he will go hide under the bed and do his business there....out of spite....but I'm not bitter......

So maybe my body is just used to being tired?  Can you become immune to tiredness?   Maybe I've just seriously lowered my sleep expectations over the years?  

Oh well, I am loving the co-sleeping!  I think I've gained at least two hours of sleep a night by not trying to pick up the baby out of the bassinet, feed him, settle him back down to sleep alone, and then lay (lie?) in bed waiting anxiously to see if he is really going to fall asleep or if he will start crying again.  Am I the only one who suffers from baby waking anxiety when you can't sleep because you just know the baby is going to wake back up so why let yourself fall asleep anyway?

Feel free to laugh at me if things go horribly wrong when I finally do want to move him out of our bed, or you can just remind me that I said it was totally worth the risk to not be newborn tired right now :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cardboard and Diapers

Our monthly diaper/pull up shipment arrived so naturally it was time for a cardboard house......

Throw in some dot markers and you've got a good....10 minutes of entertainment......

And of course what cardboard house is complete without a sliding-cardboard-sidewalk-of-death that was quietly moved to the recycling bin after the fourth ridiculously spectacular run slip and fall......

As you can see by the size of this box, we get a lot of diapers/pull ups sent to the house.  I've been thinking of trying out cloth diapers for while now...okay, I've been thinking of trying cloth diapers for the past three years or so...but it seems like such an investment and there is such an overwhelming amount of information out there that I just can't seem to commit.

My lovely sister-in-law Julia has just about sold me on the practicality of Thirsties.....but I'm still not sure.....does anyone else have an opinion?  Cloth or disposable?  Thirsties or one of the other bazillion choices?   Do you think I'd really be saving money?  What will the children do without their constant cardboard supply from the diaper shipments?  Will they turn into uncivilized dumpster divers looking for their next cardboard fix?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The First Rule of Bubble Painting....

They're are a ton of tutorials on bubble painting out there, we just mixed some paint with dish soap and water until it bubbled nicely and then put the paper on top to make a bubble print.

I was worried that Henry would accidentally inhale the paint so I made him practice blowing out of the straw before I let him try to blow into the paint.  Blow out, don't suck in! blow out, don't suck in! was my mantra.  I gave him the paint and he.........immediately sucked up a lovely mouthful of paint and soap.  Oh well, it was non-toxic.....

After the initial paint drinking (and let's face it, they both ended up drinking a little...) they really enjoyed themselves. David kept at it for a good hour and half.  Long after Henry gave up, David was searching the house for more paper so he could keep going and we ended up with some pretty nice pieces.

I think this activity is a keeper :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

On Being a Loving Mom

After mass last Sunday a woman stopped me and told me that she had been watching me and that I was "such a loving mom."

That was really nice to hear because I've been working really hard on becoming a more loving mom in general and it had been really difficult to maintain my *loving mom* composure during that particular mass that had lasted two hours.  It was a total mom win.  

I'm not always so successful though.  If she saw me at my cranky grouchy worst at home, "loving" may not be the first word that would spring to her mind, a fact that was demonstrated later in the week when I was informed that I was in fact a "mean mommy" and that same certain someone wanted to "throw me away in the trash can".....ouch.

But being grouchy and even mean is inevitable right?

I hope not.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about this and I truly believe that my impatience, my quick temper and the tone of voice I use with my children but would never use with anyone else shouldn't be dismissed as character flaws or just the inevitable result of too many littles and not enough sleep (which is my own personal favorite excuse); "...these are not faults or mere imperfections, but venial sins."

"Our Lord has called us to holiness for us to love with deeds.  And on the approach we adopt towards deliberate venial sin will depend the progress we make in our interior life.  For when we do not struggle to avoid venial sins or when there is not enough contrition for them, they damage the soul grievously.  These venial sins make the soul insensitive to the inspirations and motions of the Holy Spirit.  They weaken the life of grace and make the virtues more difficult to practice, and incline one towards mortal sin.
Many pious souls...are in an unfaithful state almost continuously as regards 'little things'; they are impatient, hardly charitable in their thoughts, judgments and words, false in their conversations and attitudes, slow and lax in their piety; they don't control themselves and are excessively frivolous in their language....They know their own defects and infidelities, and perhaps even accuse themselves in confession; but they do not seriously repent of them, nor do they make use of the means to avoid them in the future.  They do not realize that each one of these 'imperfections' is like a leaden weight that drags them down...The soul thus loses the splendor of its true beauty, and God is increasingly distanced from it." 
In Conversation with God, volume 2 

When I started to think of the way I'm relating to my children as sinful and not just an inevitable character flaw it really changed my perspective and motivation to do better.

With those thoughts in mind I picked up a copy of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting...and by picked up I mean of course ordered with my Amazon Prime and waited like the impatient crazy person that I am for the entire two days it took two arrive.  It was worth it though--this book is parenting gold.   I've read a lot of books in this same vein before and many of them do a great job explaining the whys of peaceful parenting but not so much the hows.  This book is full of practical advice and inspiration:
"Most parents yell.  It's just something we assume happens when we live with kids, like the flu.  Afterward, we're often regretful, hoping we haven't done any damage...It is usually true, as we reassure ourselves, that our children know we love them, even if we yell.  But it isn't true that yelling doesn't hurt children.
Imagine your husband or wife losing their temper and screaming at you.  Now imagine them three times as big as you, towering over you.  Imagine that you depend on that person completely for your food, shelter, safety, protection.  Imagine they are your primary source of love and self-confidence and information about the world, that you have nowhere else to turn.  Now take those feelings and magnify them by a factor of a thousand.  That's something like what happens inside your child when you lose your temper at her."   

If anyone spoke to me the way I sometimes speak to my kids--I would cry.  Now, if you know me you know that I'm not a yeller and neither is Chris, but when I get bogged down in the daily frustrations that are inevitable when you have too many litles and not enough sleep I do become exasperated and impatient and often clearly lose my temper with my little darlings for various *good* reasons and after a while I'm cranky and irritable for no reason at all.

It's in those moments that I can see most clearly that my impatience and my lack of control are sins that have damaged my soul and only prayer and a firm resolve to not let it continue can fix that damage.  I think step one is recognizing that reality and step two is to take responsibility for myself.  I can't make the boys behave but I can make myself behave and I can choose how I respond to their behavior.

"Parenting isn't about what our child does, but about how we respond.  In fact, most of what we call parenting doesn't take place between a parent and child but within the parent.  When a storm brews, a parent's response will either calm it or incite a full-scale tsunami.  Staying calm enough to respond constructively to all that childish behavior--and the stormy emotions behind it--requires that we grow, too.  If we can use those times when our buttons get pushed to reflect, not just react, we can notice when we lose equilibrium and steer ourselves back on track.  This inner growth is the hardest work there is, but it's what enables you to become a more peaceful parent, one day at a time.  
The Aha! Moment here is that an adult's peaceful presence has a more powerful influence on a child than yelling ever could.  Your own emotional regulation--a fancy way of saying your ability to stay calm--allows you to treat the people in your life, including the little people, calmly, respectfully, and responsibly.  That's what produces children who are emotionally regulated, respectful and responsible."  
When I'm calm I can parent more effectively.  When I'm calm I can be open to the Holy Spirit (you know it's hard to hear him when your screaming--even if your only screaming on the inside).  But, if you're like me, you need a game plan--get the book, it's a game plan :)

If this book can help me not only get my three boys through a two hour mass with no tears (did I mention it was two hours) but to do it in such a loving way that someone else actually noticed--it can definitely help anyone.  Unless of course you are already a lovely and peaceful parent who is flabbergasted that all of these amazing insights were news to me,  in which case just disregard all of this and offer me up some prayers m'kay?  :)

 Here's to less yelling and more peaceful days.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dinosaurs, Parties, and Thing-a-ma-jigs....Oh, My!

Our zoo has a new dinosaur exhibit with very lifelike animatronic dinos.....

I tried to get a picture of the boys and the dinosaurs but they were a little too lifelike for their taste.  And loud.  David ran away from the T-rex with his hands over his ears.  Later he informed me that he "didn't care for" the dinosaurs.

After a morning at the zoo I had the good sense to also take the children to our neighbor's Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party.  David picked out the most Mad Hatter's tea party-ish outfit he could think of, complete with a pocket watch a la the White Rabbit.  This was really cute until about thirty minutes before the party when he began running around the house yelling "we're late, we're late, we're late!"  Precious.

Once we arrived, our friend asked if David dressed up like Doctor Who for the party.   Well he isn't wearing a Fez but, yes....yes apparently he did come as the Doctor.  What can I say, the boy loves his bow ties and bow ties are cool :)

The boy also loves having his picture taken......

.....unlike his brother who has developed a serious aversion to mommy's camera......

David has also recently begun insisting that he and Henry wear matching outfits whenever possible--a desire which, let's face it, I hope lasts forever :)

The men folk also had time to work on David's "thing-a-ma-jig."  It has been added to and subtracted from for the past few weeks and  is now sporting a dashboard with various really important functions...... personal favorite is the toast option.

There are also plans in place to add wheels and a pulley system.....I'm really not sure what's going on....thing-a-ma-jig creating is not my area of expertise.  All I do know is that David really thinks it needs some wheels and was pretty insistent that we should give him the wheels off of our wagon and two tires from daddy's car.  I told him daddy needed all his wheels so he could drive to work.  David thought for a moment and informed me that he would drive daddy to work in his thing-a-ma-jig.  He's a problem solver :)

But he still can't have the tires......

Thursday, March 7, 2013

{p,h,f,r} The House is Clean Edition

In honor of John Michael's baptism, and the fact that we hosted the reception at our house afterward, our house was reasonably clean this weekend......and by house I mean of course that I was able to keep this one area tidy for long enough to take pictures before the children attacked.

If you aren't terribly interested in my living room you'll just have to forgive me because I keep this blog mostly for the amusement of my family and I'm pretty sure they are interested so I'm just going to go ahead and overshare/bore you anyway :)


Mmmmmmm.....a lovely clean room with vacuumed floors and everything.

We generally don't have party bunting hanging in the windows, but we do generally have entirely too many things crammed into our living room...........and crooked frames in the hodpodged gallery's how we roll.......


Don't judge me too harshly, but all of my happys are recent purchases :)

Our couch is super sad and stained and discolored from various incidents and an unfortunate placement near a very sunshiny window.  Chris and I have decided that leather is definitely the solution for a houseful of boys--distressed leather that is--but alas a new leather sofa is not exactly in our budget so we went with this slipcover instead.  It's pretty nice as far as slipcovers go, and a disheveled,shlumpy couch is better than a dirty looking couch right?  We're saving up to purchase the couch of our dreams after our next move, so until then......

Then there's this beauty....I found this super cute high chair on Craigslist and it just had to be mine.  I was thinking that I wanted to paint it a fun color but it's actually in perfect shape and I kind of like the wood....we'll see.  I'm pretty sure Chris votes for not painting :)


The night before the baptism, when I could have been taking care of any number of more pressing things, I felt compelled to sew some throw pillows.....out of some napkins my mother-in-law gifted me.  The tufting looks much nicer in person and the button isn't nearly as off center as it appears.....but I must have been a funny sight manically sewing pillows into the night......


Yes, we really have this much train paraphernalia.....don't have a heart attack, pretty much all of this was gifted to us or acquired second hand......but I'd say we are at max capacity as far as train tracks go.........

And another living room reality is this--our sad fireplace.  

To my credit, when we moved in, the housing office informed me that we aren't allowed to actually use the fireplace because then they would have to hire someone to come and clean them annually and make sure they were safe which apparently (to them) is totally ridiculous.  This alone wouldn't have convinced me to cover up the unusable fireplace but coupled with the fact that it is hideous and doesn't even have a mantle led me to this solution--a pretty dresser with drawers for storage and the tv on top.

I've found that when you're married to the military you do a lot more problem solving, trying to rearrange what you've got and squeeze everything in, than actual decorating per se, but I think I like the way this turned out.

PS I went with the blue drapes :)

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