Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Frankly, My Deer

It's not uncommon to see deer around our neighborhood. Periodically through this winter when the windchills had temperatures hovering around -50 degrees, I'd wonder how in the world they could be surviving.




As it turns out, they not only survived but thrived. This is a picture I took this evening from our dining room, showing eight of the TEN deer hanging out in our backyard. Apparently they keep warm the same way rabbits do.

Monday, March 10, 2014

My Kind of Winter

Ok, so my kind of winter is actually the kind that gets vaguely chilly rather than ever cold, but since we're here in MN for the long haul, this is what passes for reasonable.

It warmed up to 30s and 40s this weekend and even I can tolerate those temperatures. We spent some time outside on Sunday, taking the kids for a walk and playing in the slowly disappearing snow. Brighton has been begging to make a snowman all winter (thank you, Frozen) but it's been too cold or the snow not the right consistency. Anyway, she finally got to make her snowman and Archer got a token First Winter sled ride. Now, bring on spring.

Not quite pictured: totally inappropriate-for-the-weather crib shoes and
mismatched socks covering the baby's hands. I clearly had no real
intentions of having him outside this winter


Holy crap, I have three kids

Yes, those are bottlecaps. Beer bottlecaps. Classy, no?

GRASS!!!!

Oh, ok, here you can see the improvised winter gear a bit better

A boy and his Dada

The princess commands her steed

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day in the Life - 3 Kids Edition

As always, feel free to skip over this post if reading the minutiae of my days isn't your bag. I need documentation like this to refer back to when I'm an old lady and prone to nostalgia, resulting in telling harried young mothers that "these are the best days of your life!"

Wednesday, March 5th. Pacey is seven, Brighton is almost five and Archer is seven months old. 

3:45 am Archer wakes up for the third time tonight/this morning. ARGH. This baby is so easy in so many ways but sleep ain't one of them. I go down to the kitchen and make him a bottle, as it's now been nine hours since his bedtime bottle and, frankly, it's the quickest way to get him back to sleep. I feed him and then fall asleep in the chair with him, waking up at 5:00 with a terrible crick in my neck. I ease him back into his crib and return to bed.

6:15 am Baby's awake again, this time for the day. I get him up, change his diaper and ask C to get Pacey started on a breathing treatment. I could hear his hacking cough through the walls each time I was up last night. I change Archer and get him dressed; Brighton joins us for the day.

6:45 - 7:15 am Prepare Pacey's things for the day: backpack, note in his communication log, snack, etc. He eats breakfast and I note that he has some really disgusting stuff coming out of his nose. Decide to call for a pediatrician appointment after school; he seems fine to go and isn't likely to be contagious since he's had the same cold for about two weeks.

7:20 C leaves for work and I wave Pacey off to the bus (they come right up to the top of the drive, which has been so nice this winter). Brighton's bright-eyed and enthusiastic for the day, wondering "what fun thing we will do." Blergh. I decide we'll go to my monthly Moms' Club Meeting and get to work making some muffins to bring.

7:30 - 8:30 am Make muffins and listen to Brighton's never-ending narration of a game of pretend play she has started with her American Girl doll and horses. After yet another broken night's sleep I only attend with half a brain, something I feel guilty about almost all the time with her. She just needs a LOT of interaction, often a lot more than I'm truly capable of providing. Archer gets some cereal and fruit and practices crawling around. I also call the pediatrician and get an appointment for 2:40, which means I have to email Pacey's teachers and make sure I can pick him up early.

Add caption

8:30 - 9:00 am I head upstairs with Archer to get ready for the day. He has limited patience for the exersaucer so I let him scooch around my feet and play with inappropriate items like hairbrushes and shoe horns. Whatever it takes. We head out shortly thereafter and I realize that A is going to fall asleep on the way. Twenty minute nap it is, then. As I back down the driveway I realize it is trash day and someone has forgotten to wheel the bin down to the street. Quickly run up and take care of it, noting that the cold is merely unpleasant today, rather than unbearable.




A photo of our lethal entryway


 9:30 - 11:00 We attend the meeting which features an interior designer as our guest speaker. She's actually really helpful and I like her approach (you don't have to be rolling in dough to create nice surroundings for yourself, nor should your budget limit your access to design help). Brighton opts to stay in the meeting rather than go to the child care room. I don't blame her (pretty much all the other kids are boys aged three years and younger) but she wants to be part of the meeting and I want her to be quiet and color. It's a little frustrating because I really just wanted some time to chat with other adults and not parent.

11:15 - We head home after I unload my Snap N Go onto a fellow mom who is expecting a baby this summer. I am thrilled to see it go...I will not miss a single thing about the infant carseat and SNG, which is very convenient in theory but practically worthless in a Minnesota winter.


Good riddance infant carseat

11:45 - We get home and Archer has grabbed another catnap in the car but wakes up as soon as I unbuckle him. Poor kid isn't going to get much sleep today. Brighton and I have lunch and watch the finale of The Next Great Baker. It's been sort of fun to watch with her, she gets very involved with the contestants' stories. However she likes to talk through the entire thing and my poor tired mom-brain can't process more than one thing at once anymore. 

Lunch

1:40 Coats, snowsuits, hats, gloves...my lands I am weary of this winter. We load up and head out to pick up Pacey. He's waiting in the office for me with his favorite para. He is happy as a clam at the end of another busy school day, but is not pleased to hear that he has to go to the doctor. 


We have a ton of baby toys but who wants
stacking rings when you could play with a
plastic saw??



This is what winter looks like. I'd love to burn every one of these items.




2:00 Realize my car has run out of wiper fluid and it's finally warm enough that the roads are a mess. I have to stop at a gas station to buy a jug and fill up. The kids are wildly entertained by this for some reason. I am mostly happy I can figure out how to pop the hood as I have never needed to with this car. 



2:40 - 3:40 Doctor's office. The appointment starts 20 minutes late so I send a quick email to Pacey's speech therapist apologizing but letting her know we wouldn't make our 4:00 appointment. All three kids are squirrelly once we finally get to the room. Pacey plays iPad, Archer shreds the exam table paper and Brighton flops dramatically around, complaining about how bored she is. The doctor agrees with my assessment that his cold has turned into a sinus infection and we head out with a prescription for antibiotics.





3:45 - 4:30 Our pediatrician's office is conveniently located right next to a Target so we head straight there to pick up P's meds. When we get to the pharmacy the kids immediately spy a large bowl of popcorn and bottles of water, apparently set out for the customers, and start begging for the popcorn. As I assess the table it does not appear that there is any method for obtaining the popcorn other than using one's hands. This thoroughly grosses me out (outside a PHARMACY. Where people are obtaining MEDICINE. For DISEASES.) and I therefore refuse the kids' pleas, attempting to appease them with water. They grudgingly accept the bottles but continue to whine about the popcorn for the next 30 minutes while we wait for the prescription. We grab a few dinner items and when we return to the pharmacy I notice that in fact there is a stack of cups for filling with the popcorn. I relent and give the big kids a cup. Am the hero of the hour. Am then rewarded by not one but both of them spilling the popcorn all over my car. Oh well, add it to the layers of winter disgustingness. I'll deal with it in the spring.

Don't be jealous of my ride

4:45 - 5:30 It's crunch time, my least favorite time of day by far. I quickly throw a pot of lentil soup together for my dinner, prep the big kids' dinner (mac and cheese and meatballs) and feed the baby some cereal and sweet potatoes, as well as unloading/loading the dishwasher and washing bottles. Multitasking at its finest. P and B are thundering around overhead, entertaining themselves nicely until a game of "Capture" goes awry and B gets her fingers pinched in a door. Many magic mommy kisses are required to soothe the savage beast, I mean lovely daughter. 

Serving dinner while it's still light out, yahooooo

5:30 - Big kids sit down for dinner and I take Archer upstairs for a bath. This is one of my favorite times of day because he adores splashing around in the tub and I get to drink a glass of wine, watch him and revel in the relative peace. At some point C comes home while the kids are eating. 



Post-bath baby sweetness

6:30 - Give Archer his last bottle and put him to bed. The one part of sleep training that has stuck is that he goes down in his crib awake and puts himself to sleep. That was a pretty big accomplishment in itself and eased the stress of managing three kids' bedtime routines.

6:40 - Pacey and Brighton are playing downstairs with Chris so I take advantage of the quiet to prepare all of our paperwork for a meeting with the accountant in the morning for taxes and deal with some school paperwork for Pacey.

7:00 Bedtime routine for the big kids commences. Cajoling and coaxing into pajamas, brushing of teeth, etc etc ETC. Finally they are both ready for bed and we do our twenty-ish minutes of reading before they are both tucked into bed.

8:00 Chris and I eat dinner in front of the last couple of episodes of House of Cards. Such a great show but it leaves me feeling icky. We watch the Season 1 finale in bed and I totally sleep through the last 15 minutes (though I do that thing where I pretend I wasn't sleeping, for no apparent reason. Why do we do that?)

9:40 Lights out and I am done for the night. Here's to a restful night of restorative slumber.

11:00 Hahahahahahahahaha. Archer wakes up for what will be the first of four times between 11 pm and 4 am. I AM SO DONE HAVING BABIES. (but I'm still totally gaga for him)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dancing Queen

Brighton's winter activity of choice (after several sessions of gymnastics) was to give ballet a try. There was an eight-week course offered through the community ed program and it really hit the mark for us. The teacher was a lovely woman who was great with the girls and kept it very low key and fun (she's a developmental psychologist and talked about how important movement is to children's development). Brighton learned some ballet technique and had a lot of fun. She didn't beg to do another session when it ended so a career ballerina she is not (whew) but I'm really happy I could make the experience happen for her.




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Seven Months

I blinked and my tiny baby turned into this gloriously chubby, giggly, wiggly, sweet-smelling little monkey.

Don't you love our pink walls?? 

Teeth!

This was the gift Pacey picked out for Archer at
Christmas time from their gift shop at school. He's
very proud of it. 

Looking more like his big sister every day. 


Perhaps I'll blog again before he's walking...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Giving

I wrote a post addressing my feelings about being a SAHM right now, but I'm not going to publish it yet. It feels like one of those that needs to...percolate a bit.

Instead, I'll tell you about my husband's Christmas gift to me this year.

A little background on our gift-giving history though, first.

I think, despite what the quiz results say, that my husband's love language is gifts. He loves getting them (perhaps more so because he's difficult to buy for) and, when he puts his mind to it, is phenomenal at giving them.

My senior year of college we spent across the pond from each other; I was writing my thesis in California and he was helping his dad with renovations on what would become a B&B in northern France. During his first visit to see me in California, he went to a local florist and arranged to have a bouquet of flowers delivered to me in my dorm on each of my deadlines for the thesis. Flower delivery is always a treat, but it felt especially luxurious displaying them in a dorm room!

On our first anniversary, he commissioned an artist friend to paint a picture of a beach in France that is important to us. The artist painted from a photo and then added Chris and I into the picture. It's absolutely gorgeous and was just the perfect gift.
Each of our homes together has had a perfect place to
display the picture. Here, it's in our kitchen. 

For my 30th birthday, which I celebrated just a month after moving to Minnesota, he arranged for my mom, sister and nephew to come and surprise me. That in itself was totally awesome, but he also enlisted the help of a friend/colleague to send me a bouquet of one each of 30 different varieties of roses.


Each rose had a tag identifying its variety

This year for Christmas we were technically exchanging trips, his ice fishing trip for my visit to my sister. Neither of us had big wish lists (well, ok, he always has wish lists but they consist of things like boats and four-wheelers) and we agreed to keep it to the travel. I knew perfectly well, however, that he would ignore this agreement like always and so I went ahead and bought a gift anyhow. Glad I did because he came up with something pretty great again.

On Christmas morning he presented me with a letter, written in a "Night Before Christmas" style. It explained that my gift was 12 Weeks of Jaida-Mas. For the first twelve weekends of the year, he had planned a different activity for me. The intent was to a) give me some sorely needed time to myself as well as several dates with him and each of the older kids on their own, and b) provided some distraction to get through the next several miserable months of winter.

From there, the kids retrieved 12 numbered pieces of paper that had been hung on the tree, each of which explained a different activity he had planned (or piggy-backed in some cases, like this first week). They loved being part of the process and it was all very cleverly planned and executed. Kudos honey, you nailed it this year.

This past weekend was a previously planned outing with my BFF and her little girl to see Cinderella at the Children's Theatre. It was an unbelievable production and we had such a fabulous time (thankfully the temperatures didn't plummet to inhuman depths until Sunday so we weren't braving more than the typical winter weather). Can't wait for Week 2, a special outing with my oldest boy.









Friday, January 3, 2014

2014

I feel no sense of obligation (or desire) to make a To Do list for this year. We achieved so much last year and this year I just want to settle in. Build some grooves that I then have to force us out of every now and then.

That said, I do have some things I would like to do better this year. We're nearly to the six-month mark of having a new baby and, while it's not exactly easy from here, it's time to move out of survival mode. So, in 2014:

More books and games, less screen time. I'm still not ready to impose a screen time limit...mostly because it is the only way I get even a moment without someone talking to me and my sanity (what's left) is still important.

More physical activity. It's pretty easy to just let the kids entertain themselves all day because they are so good at it. But while they are relatively active in their play, I'd like us to get outside more when the weather permits and run around.

More meals eaten together, less short-order cooking. This isn't going to fix itself automatically, we are still a family of four (eating members) that all have dramatically different preferences. However, I think there is more crossover to be found.

Less yelling, more teaching. Lately I've been feeling really sheepish when I crack down on the kids for something and then realize that actually I've never given a clear expectation in regards to that certain behavior. We need a list of Family Rules and we need clear consequences for breaking those rules. That consistency will lay a good foundation for differentiating between something that is annoying vs. something that is unacceptable in our family. As the kids branch out their social lives (weep) I know they will begin to encounter different values and behaviors and I want it to be clear to them what we expect in our home.

Laugh. Laugh some more. Stop taking life so seriously. Every day holds its challenges but many of those can be brushed aside with a deep breath and keeping perspective. This will get more manageable as sleep gets more dependable (for me).

I was out recently, can't remember where, with all three kids and was barely holding it all together. We have been so cooped up with the miserable, bitter cold here that when we do get out they go a little nutso. Anyway, an older gentleman smiled at our little circus and remarked, "Everyday is an adventure, eh?" I find myself drawn to that view and am going to try to keep that in mind this year.

Here's to plenty of adventures in 2014!