Friday, April 24, 2009

One shoe off and one shoe on...

Remember when Gray was afraid of his little chair? How I long for those days again. That chair has become his biggest enabler. He can drag that thing anywhere and reach just about anything. He's left no drawer/cupboard undiscovered. He's been into everything. And though he doesn't need his chair for this, I can't keep him off the top bunk of his brothers' bed. And he can climb out of his high chair. In all of this discovering, he frequently ends up with bumps, bruises, blood, or bug bites, but rarely complains. Half the time I don't even know he's been hurt. Pain is just part of the adventure and therefore worth it.

I know little boys, or any one year old really, are super active and mischievous, but Gray is like none other. I thought Parker was a handful. I find important things in the garbage all the time. I can't imagine what he's actually thrown out. If anything is lost we always blame Gray.

I was cleaning a couple weeks ago and had just mopped my kitchen. I went to vacuum the family room and dumped the dirt/ dog hair from my vacuum into the kitchen garbage and went back to vacuuming. When I finished, I found Gray dispersing the vacuum gunk all over my freshly mopped floor.

He started nursery back in March. What a blessed day. I've had my kids so close together, I haven't been able to enjoy my church meetings kid free in nearly five years. I also haven't had to pay attention in Sunday School for so long, I've been finding it a little difficult. I think I'm coming around. This is the longest gap I've ever had without being pregnant in so long. With my first two babies, I was having the next by the time they were Grayden's age. The thought of another right now makes me a little queasy. I think I'll just enjoy an infant-free home for a while (or maybe forever). As much trouble as Gray is, there is something to be said for independence.

So from here, there's nothing left for me to do but include a montage of pictures from my favorite 19 month old trouble makin' crazy.




This is the day he got into the garbage. I always find him like this...with his chair, one shoe, and a guilty face.




Can you believe how much two crazies can look alike? Parker was totally jealous I was taking pictures of just Gray and had to climb up on the chair with him.




Stinker!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Overachiever

I'm a MAJOR overachiever when it comes to road trips. It's not because it's in my nature to be an over achiever or becuase I really love entertaining kids, but because I can't stand to be trapped in small quarters with whiny children. I want to appease them before any amount of whining escapes their lips. Sure, it's rough on me to do so much, but not nearly as rough as the alternative.

So here is my compilation from my last few successful road trips. I do all my shopping at the dreaded Walmart... one stop shopping is a must when I'm carting three kids around.
  • Tin foil was the hit of the trip. We made hats, ponytails, swords, hooks (as in Captain Hook), balls, face molds, etc.
  • I gave each kid their own roll of Scotch tape...I always get mad when they unroll mine at home...but this was strictly their own. Parker used his to make spider webs since he is, of course, Spiderman.
  • Don't discount toys you have at home...if they can entertain themselves with superhero action figures for an hour at home, they can in the car as well.
  • Of course movies.
  • Never underestimate the power of a McDonalds Happy Meal. Reid is the only one of my kids who can finish a whole meal. I hate to buy them...it's such a waste. Though they do love the chocolate milk option. I've found you can purchase just the toys for $1 and that is quite often cheaper than buying them each a meal...we split food...only as much as we'll eat...and they still come out with a toy. I always swore I wouldn't be the parent who made my kids share fries...I hated that as a kid and now I'm that parent. Can you believe McDonalds had Spiderman toys that week? How lucky were these superhero lovin' crazies?
  • At the last minute, I threw brown paper bags in my activity bag. We made puppets and I taught the kids how to blow them up and pop them. Nothing extravagant, but it entertained for a good amount of time.
  • I gave Gray a pen and let him color all over himself...I've done this with markers before, but we tend to lose half the caps and they all dry out.
  • I never dress the crazies in good clothes on a road trip...we travel in jammies.
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Surprisingly, no one enjoyed silly putty.
  • Spray cheese and crackers is both an activity and a snack.
  • Dry cereal was the best snack I invested in. Cookie Crisp, in particular was fantastic. They could have a whole handful of mini-cookies.
  • I always pack Ziploc bags...if a bag of treats rips open...I stick them in a bag. Or when I need to pass out snacks to kids that don't come in individual packets, I divi them out in baggies.
  • I choose water bottles with the kind of lids that pull up and snap down to close...rather than screw on and off. Way less mess. I also brought a jug of Gatorade to refill in the water bottles once we drank them. Everyone seemed to prefer Gatorade to juice boxes or soda.
  • Diapers are GREAT for cleaning up spills.
  • I try to pack a little first aid. Bandaids and Neosporin and Tums and Tylenol (for both grown-ups and kids) and just a handful of things we use regularly. Inevitably, someone gets sick on every trip and stopping at a gas station for medicine is the most expensive way to buy it.
  • Foam visors have been a hit on more than one road trip. They're less than a dollar and we have a plethora of foam stickers at home. We've done the same thing with masks. Anything to wear always goes over well with my crazies.
  • Along the same lines...we've had tons of fun with silly teeth.

  • Anything that sticks to the windows are fun...post-it notes, sticky hands (the toys, not actual sticky hands) suction cup balls.
  • Speaking of sticky hands, Dum-Dums always quiet a crying kid. And then his own sticky hands afterward would entertain Gray for a while. After one blue sucker, I tried to pick out the clear colored ones for him.
  • I never leave on a trip without construction paper and tape and scissors. Hats are great. Some have been elaborate, but mostly they're just a paper headband with something stapled on...like a shamrock or reindeer antlers or feathers...depending on the season.
  • Notebooks, coloring books, a fresh pack of crayons...all good.
  • We had fun with a road trip scavenger hunt...we had to find a cow, a green truck, a stop sign, someone on a cell phone, etc.
  • Battery powered fans (with foam blades from Walmart) went over really well last year when we traveled in the heat of the summer. The air isn't as cool in the back seat, not to mention how sweaty the boys got when the car was off at the gas stations.
  • I try to pick up a few packs of silly little toys. This time it was stretchy lizards. They all loved them...especially Grayden. I like the toys that come in packs...there's enough for everyone without having to buy three.
  • Don't get it all out at once. I managed to save a few things until the last couple hours on the way home. That was a life saver.
I should write a book on this.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Up-Cycled

Re-creating is my new found love. It started with clothing, but currently, it's furniture. I'm obsessed with home decor websites these days. It's my guilty pleasure. I'm loving Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge. Particularly "Before and After." (There's a link on the left of the Design Sponge site if you're interested.) I scour Craigslist for free stuff daily and can literally spend hours wandering a thrift store. But I'm amazed at what I find already within my own home to spruce up. Even a year ago, I would have donated worn out things to charity. No longer. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

My first re-upholstering project was this traditional (ugly) ottoman we inherited from my in-laws when we needed furniture to fill up our first house. I made a slip cover for it years ago, but that was worn out and ugly now too. I was planning to make a new slip cover and decided to try my hand at re-covering. So $.99 for the fabric and a half can of spray paint and I have myself a new piece of furniture. I felt very empowered with staple-gun in hand.


BEFORE


AFTER

Now that's more like it.

And while I'm on home decor...it seems to be popular to organize book shelves by color. I love decorating with books. But in my head I kept thinking organizing by color would never work for me. I don't have any bright colored books. They're too drab. But once I separated the colors, I was amazed at the results. It completely changed the look of my book shelf. I cannot believe they're the same books I had sitting out before. Unfortunately, I don't have a before picture.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Too Much of Nothin'

I've been putting off writing about the road trip because I have too much to write. The truth is, we made it with minimal disasters. (Nothing like the McDonalds Mishap of '08.) The trip itself was fairly uneventful. My kids are superb car travelers. (Although, we are not happy with Parker's friend Hayden for teaching him "opera" the day before the trip.) About 4 hours before we were leaving, the plans I made for my dog fell through so at midnight I had to get out of bed and rearrange the whole car to fit my beast of a dog in there with us. Every trip needs it's glitch, right?

We did have one incident in a Taco Bell bathroom. I took all three kids. Everyone was singing "opera"...and not just any opera....bathroom language opera which I'm certain resinated throughout the entire fast food establishment. I was that mom who yells at her kids to be quiet. Reid had diarrhea, Gray found the plunger, and Parker turned off all the lights leaving us in pitch darkness and we couldn't find the switch to turn it back on...meanwhile touching every filthy surface in that nasty public restroom. Nothing a few wipes and a whole lot of hand sanitizer can't solve. We all live to tell about it.

We drove straight through to Arizona on the way there. The estimated 15 1/2 hours of drive time took 17 1/2...with three kids and a dog in tow, I say we made pretty good time. I was expecting at least 18 hours. On the way home we decided to stop in El Paso for the night. It made for two shorter days of driving, but I prefer to do it all in one day. The second day of travel felt just as long.

Spence and I have traveled a lot of road in our married life...nearly coast to coast and north to south. We've discovered a lot of nothingness across this countryside, but none as bleak as the drive across Texas. I'm pretty sure there was nothing to call a city between Fort Worth and El Paso...10 hours of NOTHING. Then we hit two cities in New Mexico and nothing again until Tuscan, Arizona. It was a nasty drive.

Still, we prefer road trips most often. You can pack EVERYTHING you need. Stroller, playpen, swimming gear, diapers, pillows, favorite blankets, enough snacks and activities to entertain...your dog if need be. With our oldest not yet 5 and certainly not old enough to be responsible for his own suitcase and car seat and back pack in an airport, flying is not very feasible. Imagine unloading 3 kids...and their respective precious blankets, 3 car seats, 5 suitcases, 5 backpacks and a double stroller out of a car, unto an airport shuttle, off the shuttle, though check-in and baggage check, then some of that through security and onto a plane, then off , through an airport and onto another plane and off again then pick it all up at baggage (certainly having lost at least one item...as always), unto another shuttle and into a rental car. NO THANK YOU. Two grown-ups just can't logistically carry all that. When driving, there is never a point where we have to carry it all at once. And if your kids are playing too loud or throwing a fit...there is not concern for other passengers. Nothing is worse than your child causing a ruckus on an airplane.

So we drive. And my crazies really look forward to road trips. They do great. But not without some serious preparation on my behalf. I make great efforts to see that we don't have major melt-downs or tantrums...I probably have worse melt downs than anyone.

This post is long enough as is...be on the look out for an upcoming post on my expert advice for road trip entertainment.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Motherhood First

I've been raising young boys for nearly five years now and today I experienced a first. Quite frankly, I'm surprised I've lasted this long without such a mishap.

Reid got something stuck up his nose. If I was going to guess which kid would be the first to do this, I could have guessed it would be Reid. It's not the first time he's got something stuck where it shouldn't be. (You can read about the straight pin that had to be surgically removed from the inside of his throat here.)

We were making mac and cheese for lunch and Reid likes to dump the uncooked noodles into the water for me. He spilled a couple. And while I turned to put the pot on the stove, he decided an uncooked noodle up the nose sounded like a thrill.

It was stuck high enough that I couldn't see it. And he couldn't blow it out since there was a hole in the middle and the air went right through. But thanks to his cold and consequently a runny nose and a few good sneezes, it finally dropped low enough that I could see it when he tilted his head back. After a few tears and a slick manuever with a pair of tweezers I finally rescued that (now soggy) noodle.

Luckily I made it out of that one without a trip to the doctor. After a good amount of time with no sign of the noodle and cries of pain from Reid, I was sure the trip was inevitable.

What a rascal!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Everybody Cut Footloose

Six girls.

One room.

Three comfy couches.

Two big screens.

Two microphones.

Tambourines included.

I couldn't mention karaoke night and not give you the run down. Emily finds the greatest places. She found us this little club in Dallas full of private karaoke rooms. So we headed on down for girls night without the public embarrassment of singing off key in front of a bunch of drunk strangers in a smoke filled bar. And with a play list including New Kids on the Block, the Bangles, and Footloose, it was just the prescription for a group of girls to let loose for the night.


Ashlee was the brave soul to start us off...with a little Britney Spears. I couldn't even get a picture of her face she was so into the moves. Looks like we know how you spend your spare time.














Alexis got really into this one as well...though I don't remember what song it was.

















Emily and Alexis gettin' their groove on.













Becca...All I Wanna Do Is Have Some Fun!
















I'm hesitant to put up any pictures of myself. I got WAY too into it. This is the most mild one. Check your cameras girls...Am I not taking it so seriously in every picture. Honestly, I was WAY, WAY into it. You probably don't have to check your cameras. You witnessed it first hand. Why didn't you tell me? Man I'm such a dork.







The ride home in a Becca Sandwich. My friend Becca (in the lighter shirt) had her sister-in-law (who is also Becca) in town. What a way to introduce your sister-in-law to your friends. I'm sure she was a little overwhelmed by the craziness.








I can't even begin to tell you how much fun I have with my Texas friends. Despite all the things I dislike about this place, my friendship needs are being met...and then some. Thanks again.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ancient Astronomers

Summer semester of college is the best. The professors are so relaxed and the classes are so small. I took astronomy one summer semester at Utah State to fill a science credit. I don't think I ever caused that much trouble in a class since early morning seminary. I took it with one of my roommates, Tammy, and we really had a blast. One night the professor had us meet at the observatory at like 2:30am to see Saturn in all it's glory. It was really awesome.

For the final project, we were given free reign...any kind of project on anything we learned that year. I wrote a song about the forefathers of astronomy and performed it for the class. The professor was impressed. He'd never had a student write a song for their final project. I got 100% out of it.

I had to get pretty creative with some of my rhyming words. It's SUPER cheesy. But it carries a fun memory. I know like three chords on a guitar. I promise I was better when I performed for the class. I'm way past rusty these days. I actually made this video for my 101 list back in November (right before I sold my guitar).

I'm actually really embarrassed to post this all of a sudden, but what the heck. It'll get me in the mood for tonight's karaoke girl's night.


video