Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I weigh what?...

Did the title grab you? I know that that question runs through my mind every time I gather the courage to face the scale. At some point in all our lives no matter how heavy(aka.fat) or fabulous (aka thin) we are, those numbers reflecting back at us mean something.

In the baby world, no one really is ashamed of their weight, which is quite liberating. I say Zach weighs this, and Matt weighs that without ever having to worry that someone will look at them or I with disapproval. That is the joy of childhood right? Being oblivious to the complexities of the social norm on many levels?

And yet, as parents, we worry. We worry even at an early age, that our sons/daughters weigh too much, too little. We worry that they aren't in the "right" percentile, in height. We worry that they aren't rolling/walking/talking at the same level as others their age. Worry, Worry, Worry!

There is something rather liberating in being a 2nd time parent. I don't worry nearly as much as I did the 1st time around. It's not because I want any less for Matt than I do for Zach, but Z has shown me its less about what others are doing and all about what he is doing. I don't stand guard over Matt drilling him to roll over, hold an object, try to make him grasp his feet, I wait patiently to see him manage these skills on his own, and to my surprise he is doing them in record speed. I guess I forget sometimes that Matt doesn't just have one or two teachers around(Mom and Dad), but that he has three. Zach is perhaps the most fascinating little teacher of all. I can just see Matt looking at him and wondering, "How does he do that?" I know that he is anxious to get up and get going in the wake of his big brother. I also hope in time that he will share the role of leader even though he is the "little brother."

It's almost like Matt wants to catch up to Z, just as quick as he can. At 4 months he is weighing in at 19 lbs, 4 ozs and is probably at least 26-27 inches. He is wearing 6-9 month clothes and is fast approaching 9-12 month clothes. He is rolling(working on both directions), standing when someone holds his hands, reaching for toys and sometimes people, he is mastering hand-eye coordination, following voices and turning his head like a champ, and he is trying to get in on the conversation any chance he gets. Matt is growing leaps and bounds daily, he's just so anxious to get up and go. I mean 19lbs...most kids weigh that at a year, and yet I wasn't shocked since Matt seems to like keeping pace with his brother in the growth department.(Actually Matt likes to be just a little bit heavier, a little bit taller, and a little bit quicker at milestones, so far) It's funny but when I look at pics of Z from when he was 4 months I think he looks heavier than Matt does. I think that's because Zach's cheeks were huge! Don't get me wrong Matty has some chipmunk cheeks, but most of his weight is in his legs...reminds me of someone...oh yeah me! I couldn't help but snap some diaper shots to show of the cute chunk on my 19 pound little man!

All I have to say is, Matt, my boy, you make 19.4 lbs and the 95th percentile look good!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Date Night...

I am really excited because Wayne and I are going out tonight! I think this is the 2nd time in 4 months that Wayne and I have been out without the boys, unless you count going to sign papers on the house. To say that we are looking forward to just being a couple for a few hours is an understatement. It will be an early night, we should be home by 8 at the latest, but I am really looking forward to the dinner event we are going to. It is a local charity event where you taste the food from 7 different restaurants. My brother Nick and my sister in law Cheryl are joining us for the evening, and I am really looking forward to spending some time with them both where I can actually focus on what they are saying without running after a toddler, or changing a diaper in between the conversation.

Thanks to my Mom (and Dad) for pulling an extended grandparent's playtime day, Mom I just wanted to say I really appreciate your willingness to watch my two boys after spending all day with Jack today. You are my hero....literally!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog?...That is the question.

When I was in 6th grade my mother gave me a diary for my 6th grade choral concert. I still have that diary upstairs. It's a time capsule of my thoughts from the time I was 10 till almost my 21st birthday. It is a glimpse into the girl I was, and the woman I would become. Strangely, when the pages ran out I got another diary. In the 10 years I've had it, I've written only of major events like the time I met my husband, our first kiss, the moment we got engaged, the weddings of my siblings, my wedding, the news I was going to be an aunt, and the news I was going to be a mother. Since I had Zach two years ago I think I have opened the diary once or twice,(Of course one of those times was to report I was pregnat with Matt) and each time I wonder why do I continue to write?

Writing is such a cathartic process for me. I've written letters I've never sent, to the men that broke my heart, and reminders and reflections of where I've been so I can learn from them. I've written lists of goals for my life, I've written poems, and stories, and a thousand comments on my students' papers. During both of my pregnancies, I wrote journals to my sons, and every year for their birthdays I will write them letters from my heart. I treasure words the way an archaeologist might revel in their latest find, and for a similar reason. By reading words from the past, we find value in the present and hope for the future. Corny, maybe...but words are powerful.

When I think of what words have given me, I want to sit down, write a book, enlighten others, and earn the distinction of a voice worthy to be remembered. In a way, isn't that what we all want, to be heard, to be valued, knowing that what we gave in our time here was worthy of remembering. So what does this have to do with blogging? Well...my husband asks me, why do you write? No one is leaving you comments?

And I guess if I was writing to merit comments, I would probably have given up long ago. I do have some loyal followers, mostly people who have come to me through writing, ironically, people who I've never even met, and yet our words serve as our connection. I don't market my blog, I don't tell all my family and friends about it, in fact many of my closest friends, colleagues, and family members don't know the address. In a way it is my diary now. A place I go to voice my thoughts, my memories so that one day if I can't remember anymore, I can go to this archive and see my sons as boys, know what I was thinking, feeling, marveling at. I want to remember that even though I am at home, instead of in my classroom, I am learning, and teaching not only my children but myself as well. Of course I hope at some point that the people who come to my blog find connection to my words, to my journey, to my story because I know that blogging and reading blogs has only confirmed for me that words have the power to connect us all.

So to blog or not to blog? Well... maybe not every day, maybe not forever, but definitely for now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In the middle of the night...

Every mother with a four month old expects to be woken up at some point or another in the middle of the night. But, I have been blessed with two great sleepers, and thereby have been spoiled now for almost 2 months of no middle of the night wake-up calls. Matt goes to bed by 7 every night and sleeps till 6:30 pretty regularly. Zach usually is in bed by 7:30-8 and up around 7 a.m. Even when he was ill last week, Zach slept the night. I know I know, I am really lucky!

Which is why last night's middle of the night wake-up was so odd. I was lying in bed, and hearing a little voice calling out to the Cookie Monster. At first I was sure I was dreaming, but I rolled over and looked at the monitor anyways, and sure enough I could see the red lights rising with the voice that was quickly rising to almost a shout. I got up, went in to Z's room. I don't know how he does it, but he can identify my husband or I by the sound of our approach. He didn't even lift his head as he said, "Hi. Mama" I could tell I was in for it, because he sounded really perky, like he was ready to start his day. I explained to him that it was the middle of the night, that it wasn't time to get up, I rubbed his hair, and told him to go back to sleep. I stayed for maybe 4 minutes, and then groggily made my way back into bed.

Within five minutes, I heard him shouting out again, Words now instead of cries, fearing he would wake his brother, Wayne, who'd been woken by my return went in to check on Z. The conversation went something like this.

Wayne (opening Z's door), "Zach it's time for you to go to sleep!"

Z: "Dada you scared me!"

W: "I didn't mean to scare you!"

Z: "Dada you mad at me?"

W: (voice taking on a softer tone) "No Zach, I'm not mad at you, but you need to go back to sleep. You don't want to wake up your Mom and brother do you? Everyone is sleeping, it's time to go back to sleep"

Within minutes, Wayne stumbles back into bed, murmurs about how he thought he'd been dreaming and falls back into a coma. Meanwhile, I lie in bed, over 30 minutes have passed since this wake-up call began, and look to the monitor. Sure enough I see the glow of the red lights as first one lights brightens followed by a 2nd, a 3rd, a 4th, a symphony of sound, and words coming faintly through the monitor, the door, my heart. I lie there praying he will sleep, and then he does it, he calls for Mama.

I'm up and out the door in what seems like seconds, knowing I should have done this from the start, I pick him up, wrap him in his blanket and my arms, and rock him like I used to when he was the four month old in the house. He tries to talk to me, asks me to read him stories, I tell him ,"hush" and shush him as we rock. Eventually his head droops to my shoulder, he shifts his legs, tucking them under him, so he is almost a ball on my lap, and he closes his eyes. As we sit there I am struck by how long he has grown, His legs are tucked up, and yet still his feet are dangling near my knees. I am awed at how his head is now more the size of a child, that that of a baby he was only months ago. His arms, which are wrapped around me, are circling my shoulders, and I realize that in a few years those arms will grow long enough to touch behind my back, when my son hugs me. I can feel his breathing calm, know from years of experience that he has finally settled back into slumber and yet I sit there holding him. Just minutes before I had been anxious to climb back under the covers, return to the state of sleep, and yet, now in his darkened room, I found myself clinging to something far more important.

Flashbacks of the nights my own mother would come to me, hold me, and sing to me flooded my mind. I remember well the way she looked in the dark of my room, the kind shadow that was there to protect me, a halo of permed hair surrounding her kind eyes. I knew when I called she would come, offer me her arms, her songs, her strength, and that all would be well. I knew that when she was there, all was right in my world, so I could sleep. Last night, I gave that to my son, sure I'd done it a hundred times before, and I'll do it a hundred times in the future, but it struck me how fleeting those moments are. Eventually you stop calling out in the night, you think "why wake someone else up?, I'm OK, I'm a big kid, I can get through this." You figure you are old enough to handle your fears, talk yourself out of your bad dreams and find a way to sleep on your own. Holding Zach in the dark of his room on the cusp of so many changes in our lives, I knew that my moments of having him crawl on my lap, cuddle close, and drift off to sleep will be fleeting. Sure, he'll call out to me, sure he'll ask me to lay in his big boy bed, but the days of cradling him in my arms are fast approaching an end, and so I savored them. I lost over an hour and a half of sleep last night, but I gained a memory I'll cherish even when he's over 6 feet tall and sleeping in his own house.

Last night, in the middle of the night, I was able to be the Mom I wanted to be. The Mom that my mother was to me. I know he slept because I was there, that he felt all was right in the world in my arms, and that in the moments between wakefulness and slumber, I was being given the sweetest kind of dream.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A 1/3 of a year...

Unbelievably, my little boy Matty turned 4 months today. I simple am in awe of how quickly time is flying by. It's remarkable to think about all of Matt's accomplishments in his time here and how very different he is today from the day he arrived.

For starters he is nearly double the weight. I am pretty sure that when we go next week for the 4 month checkup I will find out that he is over 18 pounds. I am also pretty sure that he will have grown at least 6 inches since he was born. At 4 months Matt is barely squeezing into some 6-9 month outfits, so I am pretty sure he'll be in 12 month clothes by the end of April.

This month brought some major developments. For starters Matt rolled over from his stomach to his back, twice. This was a shock since tummy time is not a fan favorite in this household. Another big first was that Matt actually got to go outside and enjoy the weather. Up until now, he has been relegated to being in the fresh air, only when being carried to and from the car. Like his brother, Matt loves it outside. Here he is enjoying his first stroll:

Matt is quickly becoming bored with the bottle, and seems more interested in eating solids. We introduced rice cereal earlier in the week and then moved on to sweet peas this evening.

It took Matt a moment or two, but he is actually getting the eating-mashed-up-veggies-from-a-spoon-skill pretty quickly. I guess when you are in the 95% for weight and height, bottles just don't fill you up like they used to.

Perhaps even more significant in the scheme of his life, is that Matt is making fast friends with his brother these days. Now that Matt is awake for longer stretches and sharing his floor space, Zach can often be found talking with his little bro. Just the other day he asked, "Matt, wanna play with me?" and Matt wasn't about to deny his request so even though he isn't quite into the building stage just yet, he jumped in to play a bit with Z. Zach is quite the entertainer, you can see he even has his 4 month old brother smiling at his stories in this picture:

I can only imagine what transformations will take place in our lives in the next 1/3 of a year. I do know that Matt will definitely keep surprising us, and that hopefully he and Z keep getting closer, I do know for sure that when I write his eight month post, I will not be sitting at the breakfast bar of my kitchen as I am tonight, but might be sitting at the island of my new kitchen. So many wonders await...isn't time interesting?

Friday, March 19, 2010

The first days of Spring...

New Stride Rite walking shoes size 8- $50

Little Tikes slide- $15 (This one was free from generous neighbors)

Tennis ball to play fetch with boy's best friend- $1.99

Backyard garden hose- $20

Seeing the look of joy on your son's face as he enjoys the first days of Spring:


(Thanks Mastercard for the format.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The way we celebrate St. Patty's Day...

I know I may not look it, but I am 25% Irish. That Irish blood is really important to me because it comes from my Grandma Mary. My grandmother was one of the strongest woman I know, and my mother has many of her wonderful traits, and perhaps a bit of the Irish temper my grandmother was legendary for. Both my mom and her mom were loyal to the people that they loved, and they were/are women that live their lives with zest and passion for what they adore. I love that about them. Even though I was four when my grandmother passed away, I can still remember the leprechaun pins she got for us, where you would pull the string and the legs would kick out so the pin looked like it was doing a jig. That was another phrase she loved to use, a jig as she would dance with us in circles around our family room floor. My grandmother touched my life in a pivotal way, not only for the memories she built with me in that short time period, but in the woman she left behind to care for me. For that reason, I embrace my Irish heritage and I plan on having my sons embrace it as well. My grandmother came over from Ireland when she was a young girl, and one day, probably when I am gray, I hope to return to her native land.

Until then, I always wear green on St Patrick's Day. I also love to sport my novelty socks for the occasion:

We make specialty items like Sheppard's pie:

And Shamrock cutout cookies:

Some of us take naps swaddled in green:

While others ride green dinosaurs while proudly wearing their heritage across their chest:

But of all the ways we'll celebrate today, my favorite will be in reflecting on my Grandma Mary, and the way she celebrated life and took it all in with her pretty green-blue Irish eyes.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Some pretty big firsts...

Things have been moving right along in our house. Both of the boys seem to be growing every five seconds these days, and I am pretty sure that in a few weeks Z will be potty-trained. I just have to make the switch to big boy pants and deal with the consequences. Oh boy, that will be fun!

Matt is keeping us on our toes these days as well. The once easy-going newborn, is being replaced with an insistent infant. His personality is starting to shine, and he loves attention, in a few years they both will be saying, "Mom, look at me." (Sounds a lot like what I used to say to my Mom...I guess it's payback.)

This past weekend Matt completely surprised me when he rolled over from his tummy to his back. He did it in one deft motion, so for a moment, I was like, "Did that just happen?" It may have been a fluke since he hasn't done it since, but I say it still counts. I think the most shocking part of his rolling over is that I have been horrible at giving him tummy time. I always intend on doing it, but if he gets 5 minutes a day that's a lot.

Matt also had his first solid(sort of) food yesterday. He is such a big boy that I felt it was time to start with some rice cereal. After 3 days of rice, we will move on to oatmeal and then begin working our way through the veggies. I think I will start with green beans, since that is what I did with Z. Mine as well get the least favorite veggie out of the way when they don't know any better.

I pulled out the Bumbo for the first meal, partly because I had misplaced the harness straps for the high chair, and I should have known that the chair's original owner would want to use it first. Zach was so funny about this chair, he kept trying to get in it, he said, "This is hard" and "I don't fit", after a bit of finesse he was able to get himself in, and he said, "I did it!" "I sitting in the chair!" He was so proud he even posed for a picture:

After Zach was done messing around in the Bumbo, Matt finally got his turn. Here is a shot of Matt tasting his 1st real meal:

He did pretty well, but he doesn't really have the whole eating from a spoon thing mastered just yet. I guess you know the saying, "Practice makes perfect.", and if this boy learns to eat nearly as well as he's learned to drink...well he'll be perfect in no time!

Of course I ended up finding the harness straps, so last night Matt joined us at the table for dinner too. He didn't eat, but he was good company none the less. Zach was pretty excited to see Matt in "his chair" and was even more excited that Mom had finally replaced the batteries to the carousel toy:

Look at how nicely they already play together. Let's hope that continues, once Matt realizes how to move, and Z realizes that Matt doesn't care which toy is "his" or his brother's.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street sort of...

You buy tickets and go and see one of their Live shows. I had the pleasure of taking Zach to see his first musical production this past weekend and the best part was that it involved his best bud Elmo. I thought for sure Zach was just going to love the whole show and sit transfixed by the colorful costumes and the lively music. Needless to say I was wrong...again!

We arrived at the theater and Z and Jack were both pretty excited to see all the people. They were even more excited when Grandma spoiled them with countless gifts, and they both clung to their prized Sesame Street loot as we made our way to the seats. Zach was super excited to sit next to his cousin Jack, and even sat in his own seat. Then the lights dimmed, the show began and I looked over at Z to see his reaction. He was totally mesmerized as Bert and Ernie were joined on stage by the entire company. I mean his eyes were wide with wonder, and he was transfixed by the colors and music just as I predicted. For a moment all there was in that big theater was a little boy and his TV friends. (I'd love to share a picture of Z's face at this point, but I didn't bring my camera. I know I know, a shocker, but I had called ahead and was told no cameras. Yeah right, I saw a million flashes go off in the first 30 seconds of the show, but by then it was too late to head for home!)

After the first number was over, Sesame Street Live did something that they never do on TV. They said goodbye, actually one of the characters was leaving the stage, but Zach thought the whole thing was over. He started crying, and try as I might I couldn't get him to stop. Even though it was loud in there, I wasn't about to leave a distraught kid as a distraction, so I took him out into the deserted hallway. Here he cried, and cried, and I told him it was OK. Then he noticed the stairs, and well folks, that is what we did for the entire 1st half of the show, we walked the theater. Every once in a while when we made our way to the top of the house, I would catch a glimpse of the show, or I could get Z to watch a few minutes of the characters on stage, and then he would say, "Mama, I want to go home" and we would walk. I tell you if I had had my car, I would have left that minute, but we had come with my Mom and sister and Jack and we weren't about to ruin the show for them. At intermission, we returned to our seats, and the show began. Zach started to get antsy, but I distracted him with one of the many toys he now had, by this point he also had an Elmo balloon, actually his 2nd since two escaped during intermission.

He started to settle down and snuggle in on my lap, and I knew he was tired, but he watched the entire 2nd half. He was pretty into it by the end, and I was glad that we had stayed. I could have done without the paper confetti that popped out at the end, since Zach reacted like a veteran flash backing to a battle. Tears poured again, but this time he wasn't alone, a bunch of kids were exhausted and sad that the show was over.

Wayne asked me when we got home if I was sorry that I had brought Z to the show, and truthfully I am not. I know it didn't go perfectly, but what in life does? So we didn't watch the whole show, but we explored the theater, we came home with a bit more life experience and a whole lot of Sesame Street to enjoy on our own time.

And Mom, it might make you a bit happy that so far Z has played with this balloon everyday since. He loves running around the house and watching it fly above his head, which is how he walked into the table the other day...he's fine, and still running with that balloon.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Rub a dub dub, two cuties in the tub...

I know that everyone out there has pics of them in the tub with their siblings, (if they are close in age) and that you might be expecting to see my two boys in the tub. I may be out for cute pics, but I am not crazy enough to put a 4 month old in a bath tub with a toddler. Well I am sure Z and Matt will take many a bath together, all for the sake of time management, those moments are yet to come. So here are a few shots of the boys splish splashing solo style.

Matt is getting so interactive now, all he needs to beam at you is a little attention. Which is why when he takes a bath he is all smiles. It's amazing to think, but he is getting so big already that we may have to move the infant tub inside the big tub since he is starting to kick and splash water already! Just look at this adorable little chunk:

I don't know if you can see it, but I think Matt is starting to go blond too! Oh well...at least he still has my brown eyes!

Bath time with Z is always an adventure. We shoot hoops, put foam puzzles together, play with trains(he has Thomas ones for the bath thanks to Grandma) and his all time favorite is playing with the water. (Yes I am aware that all child safety books advise against running water when your child is in the tub, but I promise you, that water is luke warm at best and he cannot reach the temp control!)

Sometimes bath time can take quite awhile, so I recently started giving Z some funky do's. I can still remember my dad spiking our hair as my siblings and I played in the tub. We thought it was the funniest thing and looking back he probably thought so too, I mean just look at how adorable a Mohawk is on a two year old:
Watch out Matt, as soon as your hair is long enough I am totally becoming your stylist as well. So readers, that's all I have, just a little good clean fun for the day!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm dreaming of...

Decorating my new Master Bedroom! The best and worst part of building a new home is the fact that I get to redo things. On one hand I love my colors now, and on the other I don't just want to copy what I did here to a T. My hubby and I agree that of all the rooms in our home, the least pulled together to date is our master bedroom. We painted it 5 yrs ago, and since then have changed very little, but a comforter once. We both dream of the day that we will have a king sized bed, not necessarily this model, but definitely this big:

Sadly, this is just not a possibility just yet, as we both feel having landscaping and fencing our yard takes precedence. So we will wait to get the new bedroom set, which is fine with me, since the one we use now I bought eight years ago and still love. I do however have other hopes for our master suite. One is a down comforter, I splurged the other day and bought one at Overstock.com for only a $100! I did however get it in a king size, since we currently use a king size comforter and it fits the Queen just fine, no arguments over the covers here! So my vision for our future bedroom is based off of a color. Strange to pick a color and then pick everything else to suit it? Not for me. Currently our bedroom is a very pale green, very calming,

This is our current wall color, Ancient Marble by Sherwin Williams. It looks a little gray here, but if you go to the Color Visualizer on the web site you well see it is actually a really pale green.

The color I want to switch to is a smoky blue color. I am not sure of the hue just yet, but something along the line of "Breezy" also by Sherwin Williams:

Now this tone might be a bit too vivid, but it has the feel I'm looking for. I do not however want all of the walls painted in this hue, I want most of the room to be a soft cream color to keep the feeling airy and fresh.

I have found three duvet colors, all from Pottery Barn, that I love, one which I might have to change the blue for, so here they are:

My favorite: Normally I am not a big graphic floral print girl, but I love the softness of the colors and I think with a throw over part of the cover it wouldn't be too much(You'll also see this particular cover works marvelously with not only the paint color, but also the drapes I love as well!)

My DH is more on board with this next choice, although I worry it doesn't have the Wow factor I'm searching for:And the third option I love but DH hates:With the last cover I would probably opt for a different accent color, possibly a Terra cotta color, or more aqua blue to match the flowers.

I also adore these silk drapes also from Pottery Barn, which happen to be on SALE right now:

So let me know what you think. Am I completely losing my decorating sense, or do you love these choices as much as I do?

Monday, March 8, 2010

I heart LEGO DUPLO...

Recently I saw some Lego Duplo's in Toys R'US and I really wanted to get a set for Z. Since I am trying to be budget conscience I decided they would have to wait. Christmas was over, I had already bought his birthday gifts, and Easter was too far away. Fortunately Z got some cash and gift cards (Thanks Grandma Alice and Great Grandma Helen) at his birthday party last week, and I put them immediately to use. Originally I only intended to pick up one Duplo set, since they are pretty pricey, but there was a sale, Buy One Get One 50% off. Wayne and I just couldn't resist. We ended up purchasing the Fire Station and the Zoo sets. I was sure that Z was going to like the Fire station set more, but I was wrong. He immediately has taken to the Zoo. Don't get me wrong he likes the fire station set, we played with it for almost 40 minutes the other day(For those of you who don't have toddlers, that is a toddler eternity!) and we both had a blast! Just look at how pretty it all looks when it is set up:However most of the time when we play with the set it looks a lot more like this:

You'll notice in the picture above that Z has gravitated to the zoo set. What is the magic that these little pieces of plastic hold?

Well you can round up a family of lions (the baby tiger too):

Coral them just for fun: The elephant was "too big" according to Z, otherwise he would have been in the fence too:

You can even bring nature to life, look at how ferociously the alligator is attacking the giraffe:

And when you get tired of attacking the animals in the zoo, you can use the alligator to bite the paparazzi:

It is the cutest thing when Z says, "Alligator bite you"!, did I mention he roars when the alligator attacks as well...I am pretty sure that is not exactly accurate to nature, but hey it makes him happy.

I must say that in the three days that we've had these sets he has played with them for hours a day. He really enjoys the little animals, and that he can manipulate them easily. What I like is that they will grow with him too allowing his imagination to soar, as well as helping expand his hand eye coordination skills. (Did I mention that the parts are bigger so I don't have to worry about chocking hazards for either of my little men!) I am totally hooked on Lego Duplo. I already have a wish list started for upcoming holidays, I just have to share a few:

This is my absolute favorite set, since what little boy doesn't love dinosaurs(I can just imagine Z roaring away for hours and chasing me around with the T-Rex!):

This circus set would be great for any little boy or girl. I just love all of the accessories with this set:

And I am totally itching to add this Arctic polar zoo to our set: I just love the penguins and bears:And finally, I think Z would really like the baby animal Duplo set since he is fascinated with Mommies and Daddies these days. He loves grouping them together and lining them up, and then telling me who is the Mommy, Daddy and baby.

Can you tell I am a bit obsessed? If you own any Lego Duplo's feel free to leave your suggestions on the must haves. Also if you've never seen or experienced a set, let me know which one you would want to have. You can check out all of the sets at Lego's website, but I should warn you that if you so, you might end up with a wish list of your own.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Parenting 101...

Sometimes I feel like my parenting life is a course in college. The type of course that consumes your time, has a lot of labs, and extra reading. It definitely is the type of course that you tell your friends about and try to make sense of together. It is a course that extends far beyond a semester or two, and is constantly bringing you moments of sheer ellation and heart-wrenching disapointment.

Perhaps its the teacher in me, but I got to thinking about my role as a student in the course of parenting. Sure I have reference sources, my husband, my parents, my friends, my beliefs, and if all else fails the internet, but how am I doing? Everyone will tell you that, "Your a wonderful Mom." and maybe you are... I know I have my moments of glory, but there are also so many moments where I feel like I'm failing too. Little things, like when I turn on the tv so that I can feed the baby, or just get a cup of coffee and drink it in peace without a little person crawling on my legs for a "Giddy up horsie" ride. I think of how precious these moments are in my sons' lives and I know I will want them back, but I will admit there are days when they both are in bed that I breath a sigh of relief because I've gotten through another day. Does that mean on those days I deserve an F?

I mean really can you grade parenting? I suppose we all do it in some way of another. Some of us just go to sleep smiling at our accomplishments, or lamenting the way we handled a child when they threw food across the table yet again. Somewhere within all of us we judge. We think, am I doing what is right, am I giving all that I can every moment that I can? So think about it. What would you grade yourself on your parenting? Most days I feel like a solid B student. On some very good days I am a B+!

Why only a B or a B+? Well...I do all of the necessary things like keep the kids safe, feed them, clean them. In my opinion if you are not doing that you are failing the course on parenting. (Safe does not equal perfect. Don't get me wrong kids do fall, break bones, ect and that doesn't mean you deserve an F in parenting, but if you are letting your toddler play in the street, walk around stores alone, use your kitchen supplies as props in playing house, you are doing something terribly wrong). A D in parenting is when you are meeting the basic needs for the day, but not going beyond them in anyway. A C for me is when you play, but you aren't really present in the moment. You know the type, where you are there, but focused on a phone conversation, blogging online while your children come to you with toys, turning on the television so you can get a cup of coffee(Yes..I have C moments)!

So what earns you a B? Well... Being in the moment, interacting with your child, making them the priority and letting them know you are there and you love them. It is trying to be a role-model of a healthy, funtioning individual. It is showing them the core of life, LOVE, RESPECT, COMPASSION, JOY, and FAITH. A B is playing with toy trains for the millionth time that day because you want to make them happy, or going outside to play ball and enjoying it when all you really wanted to do ten minutes before was crawl under the sheets and take a nap. Why you may be wondering isn't that an A?

Well in my mind, an A in parenting isn't given by the parent. It given by the Professors...you know, the people who are teaching you about parenting, your children. You can't really have an A, until they show you you've earned it. Some days the A comes when you see your child shares their toy without being told, or runs to help a younger sibling who is crying. An A is your child having manners, saying "Thank You" and "Please", not because you've reminded them, but because they know it is the right way to act. An A is watching your child have the confidence to take those first steps, that first bike ride, that first bus ride, knowing that they don't have to worry about whether you're behind them the entire way, because your always there even when you aren't literally. Later its when they stand up for what they think is right even when its not the popular or "cool" choice. An A in parenting comes when you see your teenage son run ahead to grab a door for an older woman who is struggling with hers bags, or listening to your daughter on the phone comforting a friend in need. An A comes in the moments when your child comes to hug you, not because you've asked, but because they want to, or when they travel hours(if necesssary) to get to you when their life just isn't going the way they've planned. An A comes on the day you see them put someone else first, perhaps a spouse or their own child. It is a grade that must be earned. The type of grade you can' truly know for years to come if you have small children like I do. It is the most important grade of not only your life, but theirs. So on the days when I feel like a C Mama, or a B- Mom, I tell myself, the battle isn't over. I have a lifetime left to earn myself that A!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bounce House Party #2...

We ended up having Z's birthday party at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning. I thought it was a bit early, but it ended up working out perfectly. For the 1st hour we practically had the entire Bounce House place to ourselves before other parties and people showed up. I must say that I am pleased that I got the table clothes, balloons and plates to go with the Elmo theme because it made the party feel personalized. I will also say that I am glad I had this party out because with the house being sold, and the million little things that we have been doing regarding building and selling, it was nice to not have to worry about all the little details!

The Bounce place did most of the work, they even gave us goody bags for the kids, but my sis was kind enough to create these adorable little Elmo cake balls as a special treat for the party-goers. She is so creative, and where she gets the energy to do these things amazes me. (She is 6 months pregnant, working full-time, running a drama show, and taking care of my very active nephew Jack!) Thanks Lisa for the special treats, they were so cute and delicious!

What a cute presentation:

Speaking of cute and delicious, my sister-in-law Lisa is also a very talented baker. She was kind enough to make the cake for Z's birthday, and it was gorgeous! Not only did she make the Elmo cake, but she also made cupcakes which had little Elmo faces and cupcake holders that had Elmo on them. The cake was perfect, it was fluffy(cool technique) and so yummy. In most of the pics of Z and the cake you can see he is mesmerized by it, and just wants to get his hands into it, so he can eat it! Lisa you did an amazing job, and I loved,loved loved it!

I mean seriously, isn't it just the cutest cake on earth?

The whole party was a blur, as parties usual are. The big difference is that most of the pics at this party are a blur too. All of the kids had a blast, and most of the big kids, like my hubby and bro got in on the action too. At one point Z was so tired he started "melting-down:, more like falling and wanting to be held, so my brother carried him up the stairs and went on the slide with him. I also got some great shots of Wayne and my nephew Jason on the slide. One of my favorite shots is this one: In it, you can see Z, his two cousins Jack and Jay and my brother Nick, all gearing up for a slide ride. I just love how happy Z looks:

Prepare yourself for the parade of pictures:

Here is the set-up:

A pic of Aunt Lisa, Aunt Penny, Grandma Alice and Matt:
Here comes Z, Jack and Jake:Uncle Nick steps into action to help his godson:

Wayne and Jason go for a ride:What Matt did at the party...He also spent a time being held by Great Grandma Helen...of course I missed this pic, Grandma Alice, and Aunt Lisa(both of them really). He just loves the ladies!

Time to eat:

I find time to sneak in a cuddle:

Before its time for cake: And finally gifts:Z got so many great gifts from his family and friends, but I couldn't possible post all the pics I took. I will say that his current favorites are his Wonder Pets schoolhouse from Uncle Ryan and Aunt Olivia, and that he also is loving his Lincoln logs from Aunt Penny. I am sure he his just itching to use his light sabers from Aunt Lisa, Jack and Uncle Mike, but those haven't been opened just yet. I think we'll wait till Jack visits to pull them out, lest Z try to sword fight Matt! I think it's safe to say though, that Z misses his bounce house from Grandma and Papa too, since he just asked me about it this morning. Don't worry honey, Spring will be here soon enough and then you can bounce all you want!

Thank you again to everyone who came and enjoyed the day with us. It was such a great way to kick off Z's year!