Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Summer Nights

We haven't been camping yet this summer, and we probably won't make a trip. The idea of sleeping in a tent, on an air mattress, does not appeal to me this summer. But, we are still enjoying the great outdoors, and all the fun of a campfire.. in our own backyard.

Brad finished our backyard patio a couple of weeks ago... he (with a little help from his buddies and even Lexi and Jake) laid 2,190 bricks to make the patio we've been dreaming about since we moved in. It took a lot of work, time, and money...and Brad did a great job. We have enjoyed the patio, and the new firepit (last year's Father's Day gift) every Friday and Saturday night for the past several weeks. The kids have become quite the campfire chefs...making everything from smores, to carmels, even snakes and grilled cheese sandwiches!
But as yummy as the food is (and it IS yummy!) that's not the best part of our new patio. The best part is the time we've spent together, and with neighbors, friends and family. I love that our neighbors feel welcome to come over whenever they see us outside (or maybe it's when they smell smoke!). We are blessed to have awesome neighbors. We are also so lucky to have so many great relatives in town...we've had some fun, and very late nights with Paul, Sandy, Madonna, Ed, Mary and Mat around the campfire. And last weekend, we even talked the Christensen family into coming over for a fire. As you can see, the two year olds had a good time!
There's just something about the smell of a campfire and the mosquito spray that brings a smile to my face. The kids love it too....they've had fun studying our campfire cookbook for new ideas of what to make for late night snacks, and they love to invite their friends over for the fun. And I love that a fire can give my workaholic husband a reason to sit around and do nothing for a few hours. There's a Rascal Flatts song I think of everytime we gather around the fire..."Summer Nights"...here's the two lines that are especially appropriate:
"Summer nights, everybody are you with me?
Let that igloo cooler mark your piece of paradise"
My piece of paradise is my backyard patio. No, it isn't the same as packing up the van and heading to the lake for the weekend, but for this summer, it will have to be enough. And who knows, we may just pitch a tent in the backyard before the summer is over!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Potty Training Nightmare

It's been a long time since I potty trained a kid. Lexi was easy, Jake was not so easy. And after the past 24 hours, I've decided Lizzy will not be easy either.

She wants to be a big girl so bad, but she's just not quite there. She prefers pull-ups to diapers most days, and this weekend Auntie Mary bought her panties....a package of seven...Dora the Explorer. Seven pairs...that should last a whole weeek...or at least more than 24 hours. Not the case. First, Lizzy had to try on every single pair. It was quite the style show in the living room. Then she got a little goofy, and became "Panty Head". She is definitely Jake's sister!

After the style show, Lizzy insisted on wearing panties. Fine. That's a good way to learn, right? We had the talk about listening to your body, blah, blah, blah. She went through four pairs last night before we finally convinced her to put a pull-up on. First thing she did this morning was take her pull-up off, and put on panties. She had three clean pairs left...they lasted until about 6:00 this evening, then it was back to diapers. Needless, to say, I have a lot of laundry that needs to be done NOW..because first thing tomorrow morning, she will be looking for those Dora panties.

I know it can be a slow process, and maybe letting her wear the panties will make the training easier. I'd love to have her potty trained before baby number four arrives....but.... for now, I think I'll stick with just making sure she gets the panties on the right body part!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Quiet Afternoon

I love the quiet. I love to wake up before everyone else on Sunday mornings and just bask in the quietness. Maybe I love it so much because with three kids, two dogs and a husband, quiet doesn't happen often in my house. And when it does, it often means trouble is brewing.

Take this afternoon, for example. Brad was at work, Lexi was at Chrissy's, Jake and I were working on the computer and Lizzy, I thought, was playing babies in her room. I was wrong. She came out to the living room talking about her eyes. Neither Jake nor I saw anything unusual, so we ignored her. She disappered again and when she reappeared the next time, it was very obvious something was wrong with her eyes. She had stolen my makeup bag, which I quickly found behind the chair in my bedroom (Lizzy's favorite spot to get into trouble...I just scrubbed pink lip gloss from the carpet behind that chair yesterday). In this secret hiding place, she had very quietly managed to open my mascara, and put it almost on her eyelashes. It actually looked more like a football player's makeup, but she thought she was beautiful. After showing Jake and me, she stood in front of the mirror for a long time. Then she let me wash it off, thank goodness. I, of course, snapped a couple of pictures....which I will one day quietly show her boyfriends.

Yes, the quiet is beautiful. Right now I am enjoying the sound of the dishwasher and my fingers hitting the keyboard. That's it. There is no other noise in my house right now. I will enjoy it for this moment, because soon the house will be filled with noise again. And I have to admit, I kind of like the noise too...it means those I love the most are nearby.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Terrible Two's

I think it may be time to hire a cleaning lady. Or a nanny. Or maybe it's time to invest in a straight jacket for Lizzy. This child is a walking disaster. She has no fear, knows what she wants, and if no one will help her, she will just do it herself. "Me do" and "me too" are her two favorite sentences.

Here's what I've discovered about my youngest child just this week:

1. Lizzy now knows how to unlock (and lock) the deadbolt on the front door. I know this because I nearly ran over her when I tried to leave the other day..she had sneaked out the front door while I was backing out of the garage. Brad figured she couldn't get out, because the door was locked and deadbolted. Today, when I asked Lexi to shut and lock the front door, Lizzy pushed her aside and did it herself. "Me do!" A nanny could just follow her around all day and make sure she's safe at all times.

2. Lizzy is perfectly capable of opening a jar of pickles all by herself. She did this this morning, and in the process managed to spill all the pickle juice on the kitchen floor...but, she got a pickle, and that's all she really wanted. Hence, the thought that maybe I should hire a cleaning lady. I can't stand the smell of pickles. Although, it is covering the lingering smell of burnt toast from last week's fire quite nicely.

3. Lizzy should not be allowed to jump in church (this is where the straight-jacket comes in). I was a very brave mother and took her to church just the two of us on Sunday..no big kids to entertain her, no dad to give her "the look". She was pretty good through most of mass, until the baptism...that's when she decided she needed to go potty. I'm determined to get this kid potty trained before baby number four arrives, so we crawled over a few people and went to the bathroom. She didn't go, but she did wash her hands in each of the three sinks. I finally got her to return to our seats by telling her it was time to take her money up to Father Gene for the children's offering. She ran back to our pew, grabbed her dollar, and shyly asked the people beside us to let her through. Then she ran down the aisle. But, Father Gene thought all the kids were done, so he turned around. Someone must have caught his attention, because he came back to get Lizzy's money, but by that time she'd already given it to an usher, and ran past our seats. Eventually she found her way back to me and I was doing a little celebrating...we'd almost made it through church with no meltdowns. After communion she was standing on the kneeler, shaking her head, then jumping. I put my hand down to protect her head if she hit it on the pew...but somehow she managed to smack her lip anyway. She screamed like I've never heard her scream. That's when I saw the blood. Her face was covered with blood, from a tiny cut on the inside of her lip. I think a straight-jacket would have prevented this accident.

Here's the scariest part...the week is young... I am afraid to find out what else this two year old has in store for me!

Happy Together

Lizzy is not cut out to be an only child. We learned that over the weekend, when Lexi and Jake both left her. What we also learned, is Lexi and Jake actually kind of like having each other around too, although neither will ever admit it.

Lexi caught a ride to Mott with Lisa and her family on Thursday night. Lizzy didn't really notice at the time...she hadn't napped and was just way too busy playing outside to realize what was happening. Later that night she spent a few minutes looking for "za-za" (that's what she calls Lexi.. Lexi hates it!). She quickly got over not being able to find za-za, because Jake was still around. In fact, she picked Jake to lay down with her at bedtime. Jake was thrilled, and even said something about how it's nice when Lexi is gone, because then Lizzy likes him.

Saturday, Jake caught a ride to Bison with Grandma Shea. Again, Lizzy was busy when he left, and didn't really comprehend what was happening. But she spent most of Sunday morning looking for "Jakey". We had to call him that night, because she was missing him so much. That made Jake homesick, so I vowed not to call anymore. He's hoping to last the whole week there.

Lexi finally came home yesterday morning, and Madonna and Mary took both girls to the Minot Zoo for a few hours. When I picked them up after work, they were already fighting...I'm told they were happy to see each other for the first 20 minutes or so. But at bedtime, it hit me just how much Lizzy's world had been turned upside down these past few days. She couldn't decide if she wanted to lay down with me or with "za-za"...she really was torn. And even though "za-za" pretended to be annoyed, deep down I think she really liked all the attention.

Maybe she's just enjoying these last few months as the baby of the family. I wonder how she'll react when she has to share "za-za" and "Jakey" with a baby brother or sister? What I do know for sure, is I'm glad I had more than one kid. Someone once told me, you'll never look back on your life and wish you would have had fewer kids. After a few days of having just one, I totally agree. The kids depend on each other, and they are lucky to have each other. And having them all home makes my job a lot easier...they do a great job of entertaining each other, even if it means a fight every once in awhile. I have to admit, I kind of miss the sound of fighting children!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Important Things My Kids Have Taught Me

Remember that poster all teachers used to have hanging in their classrooms..."Everything I Ever Needed To Know, I Learned in Kindergarten"? I have a new version of that poster. I call it "Important Things My Kids Have Taught Me". Ok, the title needs a little work, but the lessons are there. Here's my list...this is just stuff I learned in the past 24 hours. Imagine if I kept track for an entire week!

1. Naptime can NOT be skipped. Never ever. Under no circumstances, can a two year old miss her nap. I learned that the hard way today. We had appointments until 2:00, then decided to run to Target. Bad idea. Worse idea...let's keep Lizzy awake until we go pick up Jake at 4:00. She couldn't do it. She zonked out on the short drive from Target to home. At that point, I gave in and let her sleep for 45 minutes, then loaded her back into the van to go get Jake from Lego Camp. She went right back to sleep until we got to the other side of town. And, she was a much happier little girl than she was before her nap. Lesson learned. Naptime is a must, every single day.

2. Parmesan cheese needs to be hidden. No lie..I caught Lizzy digging in the fridge for the parmesan cheese, open her mouth, and take a shot of cheese. She was very thirsty after her "cheese shot". I hid the cheese when she left the room.

3. Keep clean underwear on hand at all times. See yesterday's post. Apparently if there are no clean underwear in the dresser drawer, an eight year old boy will just go without. He now has a well stocked underwear drawer. Make that a well stocked laundry basket, full of clean underwear, waiting for him to put them away. We'll be waiting awhile.

4. Don't wear black pants to a two year old's hair appointment. It's a given, she will not sit in the chair without you, so you'll end up sitting with her on your lap while the stylist cuts her bangs. Even if you have a cape on, it doesn't matter. The hair will still make it's way to your pants, and blond hair really, really shows up on black pants. Lexi assured me it didn't look that bad...just like I had a dog that was shedding. Lovely. We went to Target anyway. And as you've already read, that trip did not go well.

5. When throwing food in the garbage can, make sure it's buried at the bottom. Do NOT leave food at the top of the garbage. If you do, two year olds will find it and eat it. Lizzy was trying to be helpful this evening by throwing a paper towel away. When she lifted the lid of the trash can, she found a hot dog she had been eating earlier. She pulled it out of the garbage, exclaimed "my hot dog" and finished it off. Yuck.

6. Lego camp rules. I don't understand Legos. I can not look at a pile of plastic bricks the size of my pinky finger and figure out how to turn them into a ship. But Jake can. Jake is the Lego king. He has drawers full of them, and this week, he went to Lego camp. It was a dream come true. He spent three hours the past three days with other kids just like him, and a cool instructor who loves Legos just as much as Jake does. They built bridges, ships, cars, and much more. When I picked him up today, Jake hugged his instructor. His instructor told me Jake is destined to be a mechanical engineer...he said Jake's a smart kid and will redesign simple objects to make them work better, like a broom and dustpan. That made me so proud. And so happy that something as simple as Lego camp could have such a big impact on my son. We will definitely sign up for this again. My lesson here: just because I don't understand something my kids are interested in, don't write it off. I need to let them explore their interests, not just my interests. There is more to life than basketball camp!

7. Take time to lay in the grass and study the clouds. Lexi did this tonight, and although I didn't lay my fat pregnant body in the grass (I was scared I wouldn't be able to get up!) I did put my head back in my chair and study the clouds with her. We saw a snowman, a deer jumping over a fence, a dragon (there's always a dragon), and a teddy bear head. And, I remembered how much fun it is to be a kid.

8. Fresh air fixes things. Today was not a good day. My kids were on my nerves all afternoon. I did not get anything accomplished. The house looks like a tornado hit it. My to-do list is untouched. But, in a moment of desperation, I went outside with all three kids after supper. It was either that, or someone was going to get hurt. Turns out the fresh air was great for all of us. The kids blew off some steam, and I relaxed in the sunshine. We came back inside and had a wonderful evening.

No doubt they taught me more than just these eight lessons today. These are simply the lessons that stand out in my mind. Tomorrow is a new day, filled with even more important things my kids need to teach me. I can't wait.