Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let the schooling BEGIN!

I didn't post any first day of school pictures, here or on Facebook, simply to be stand-offish. I TOOK pictures, but everyone else was posting them and I don't want to be just like everyone else. So I waited a few weeks, and here they are on the blog! Stand-offish though I may be, it would be silly to post them too much later.
 Patrick started 1st grade and is in Mrs. Byrd's class. He really loves having his own desk, which has a compartment to stow things - he thinks that it SUPER cool. And maybe he's right, I like that same feature in our computer desk! He got a new backpack which is far too big for him, but his backpack from last year, just the next size down, is too small for homework folders. I guess that's just part of growing up, eh, being awkwardly sized.

Eli was excited to see Patrick leave. Patrick started a week earlier than Eli, even though they're at the same school, and Eli was completely nonplussed, perhaps even a little glad, to be missing a brother all day long. 

Here was Eli's first day - he started preschool! He loves his teacher, Mrs. Kim. It seems ridiculous that he is in preschool, he seems so very old to me! Maybe it's because the word "big" is often used to describe both size and level of maturity - both "you're so big, you can reach that tall shelf" and "you're so big, you know how to write you name!" Since Eli is so big physically I think we "big" people tend to get confused about his maturity. I think of him as Patrick's age, as they are the same size and share everything, so this is just one of those helpful reminders to me that I shouldn't actually treat him like Patrick; they are 2 years apart, and 2 years is a lot when you're 4 or 6. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Good Reads for Kids

A long time ago I posted some of our favorite kids books, and of course I enjoy going back through old posts, so it was so fun to come across those books and remember how awesome they were! Then to go get them from the library again. We just hit the library a few weeks ago and came across a few new favorites that the kids just couldn't - and wouldn't - put down.

Little Quack. A story about courage, with counting and rhyming and ADORABLE pictures. Happily read this 1,000 times. Apparently there is an entire series of Little Quack books - bedtimes and colors and hide-and-seek, so we'll have to see if we can find some of those.

Mighty Dads. By Joan Holub, illustrated by James Dean, the same guy who does the Pete the Cat series. I loved the illustrations - they were simple and bright but had just enough detail to be seriously fun! I loved having Joe read this to the kids.

Bang! Boom! Roar! A Busy Crew of Dinosaurs. FANTASTIC art! Have you ever watched Wonder Pets? It's the same multi-media approach, with tons of fun little touches, like pictures of real granola bars stuck in illustrated tool belts. Plus at the end there is a list of things to find throughout the book, which I (yep, the adult) had a really good time looking for.

Pierre the Penguin - a true story. By Jean Marzolo, author of the I Spy series for kids. Sometimes rhyming books technically rhyme but trip over themselves when it comes to the rhythm, but this books has really cute rhymes, great rhythm, AND a great story (hey, it's true! That always makes it better!) AND really great illustrations. We just loved this book. Another one I read 1,000 times and still loved it.  Added bonus: since it's a true story you can look up Pierre the penguin and his rescuer, aquatic biologist Pam, on google and there's lots of pictures!

Oh, man, we really love to read around these parts!

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Hopefully nobody's anaconda wants some of my house, because we got BUNS! Bunnies!

Meet Cinnabun (above) and Shadow (below)
 Our previous bunny, Easter, died only a few weeks after the blessed holiday of his namesake. We were all saddened by it, but since we purchased Easter at the fair we thought we could just wait a few months and do the same again. When the fair rolled around this August, we did just that. It seemed Easter had died a bit early (he was 6) and we read that bunnies, being very social, often live longer when they have a bunny companion. Not wanting to breed hundreds of bunnies, and also not wanting to pay to get bunnies neutered to avoid hundreds of bunnies, we bought two females. They're both young, less than 6 months old, which is supposed to make it easier for them to bond (I guess because they're not crotchety old women yet!). Bringing them home was sheer delight for our own brood of small humans, who immediately vied for spots.

 Cinnabun, the seemingly more timid of the two, his in the corner with the brooms and tried to look like a dust bunny! Very tricky.

 We put them in separate cages next to one another for a few days - they are supposed to get familiar with one another's scents and habits before being formally introduced. Once we introduced them, though, Cinnabun proved she is NOT the timid one and she fought Shadow, pulling out some of her fur, and then nipped my finger when I tried to pull her away. Whoops! Too soon! We realized if there was to be a much longer introduction period we would need much more permanent housing, so Joe got very busy and completely re-built the bunny hutch to house two bunnies - a common area in the middle, currently with wire mesh down the middle of the middle so they can get used to one another without any fighting or nipping. Then, of course, the kids had to paint it!

 And voila! We now have the most beautiful, colorful rabbit hutch, with two adorable bunnies.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Special Delivery

I delivered a BABY this week!

Aaaaaand... Let's back up.

When I was pregnant with our first, Patrick, Joe and I took a birthing class together. It was very inspirational about managing pain and going naturally so I wrote up a perfect little birth plan which absolutely DID NOT work out. Labor lasted forever and ever, which gave me plenty of time to get pretty upset with my husband, who was pretty upset that I was being nasty to him (who's in the wrong here? Obviously Joe! You can't take a laboring woman personally), and by the end of a 32-hour labor we were both exhausted. Emotionally exhausted, yes, but I was also physically exhausted, had a c-section, and now a newborn on my hands. Contrary to all our great plans, it was not a great experience!

When Kari got pregnant with their first I informed her that she needed someone besides her loving husband there to be a labor support, and I pretty much told her I would be there whether she liked it or not. I would save their marriage from labor insults and frustrating lack of support! She chose to get an epidural and labored in peace, though, so I was only mildly helpful in cheering her on when it came time to push. She pretty much didn't need me there at all! BUT, it was such a cool experience for ME, I loved being there for a delivery where I wasn't the one on the table, I asked her on each subsequent delivery if I could be there. She said yes, and I ended up being much more helpful during those when epidurals were delayed, or not given at all thanks to disbelieving nurses. Each experience was AWESOME! Maybe not for her, but I really loved being a support and rubbing her back and encouraging her during contractions, and then seeing the delivery always just boggled my mind.

A friend here in Pueblo was due with their third baby and she came to me for some labor advice - her second delivery was a c-section and Pueblo can be a tricky place to have a VBAC, so what doctor did I recommend? Would I recommend a doula? A midwife? How were my own VBAC experiences? I filled her in, recommended getting a doula (we had one when I delivered Eli, she was fantastic), and in the absence of a female family member or a doula I offered myself as a labor coach. To my surprise, she accepted! So we met a few times to discuss her labor plan, talk about her previous deliveries, talk about my previous experiences, and get ready for the big day.

Enter the Big Day.

She texted me around 8 a.m. to say she'd been contracting all night and today was the day! I had just set the kids down for breakfast so I told her I'd finish feeding them and be right over. I got to her house around 8:45; her husband informed me she was upstairs and pretty ticked at him so he was handing off the pregnant lady. She was in her room, timing contractions with an app on her phone, so when one started I hopped right in and massaged her back. When the contraction was over she said she needed to use the bathroom, so I waited in the room and she went across the hall. I could hear her struggle so I called to her to see if she wanted me to start timing a contraction, but instead she called "Kirsta, can you come in here?" Sure! Rub her back through a contraction or something. Instead, sitting on the lavatory, she looked at me with concern and said, unbelievingly, "Am I going to have this baby at home?" Ummmm... no, I don't think so..... I figured she was in transition, where you get all shaky and lightheaded and labor gets crazy, so I told her to husband to get a towel we could sling between her legs to get her to the car, and I would take her pants off to do the slinging, but then looking where that towel would go I immediately changed my story - she was crowning! "Yes, we ARE going to have a baby at home! We need to get you onto the floor here..." At this point her husband asked what he needed to do so I sent him for some towels for the delivery and some pillows to help her be comfortable. He came back quickly, we got her fixed up, and in only another minute she was pushing some more. I was kneeling down on the floor, front and center doing all those things I've witnessed at those 4 deliveries (plus my own 3 VBACS), and within 2 pushes there was a head, a huge gush of fluid, and I delivered the baby!

I mean, SHE delivered the baby, seriously - it would have come whether or not I was in the room. I remember being pretty frustrated at more than a few deliveries that the doctor comes in as you're ready to push, they catch the baby and call it good! Anyone can catch a baby, it's laboring that's tough! But being able to be there, to be the one to catch the baby, was one of the absolute most amazing experiences of my life.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ethan, aaaalmost 2

Ethan is potty training and is very pleased with the amount of applause he gets every time he uses the potty, so he's keeping it up really well. It's been 3 weeks with only a few minor pee accidents. #2 is a different story, he prefers to use his diaper, if he's wearing one for naps or bed, or a "discreet" location like the bottom of the staircase on the carpet... but it'll come with time.

He expands his vocabulary every day and is a total parrot for repeating, but his favorite things, in no particular order, are Mama (he looooves me), Dada (a celebrity on his motorcycle), Bobba Dan (Bob the builder), Diggy Dump (any kind of construction machine), and Pakeet (Patrick). His overwhelming love for Patrick reminds me of when he was a newborn - he would turn his head to listen to the voices of mom, dad, and Patrick, who had talked to my tummy a lot. It always made Eli so frustrated because he wanted the baby to look at HIM! Now Ethan's closing in on 2 years old will repeat everyone's names (including his cousins) but doesn't care about the actual person unless you ask him about Patrick - then he runs across the house yelling "Pakeet! Pakeet!" It's my best diversionary tactic at the moment! Luckily, Patrick loves Ethan and is very good about letting him hang out and play or will read a book to him while I'm busy.

Speaking of books, he is my 2nd best book reader, following closely behind Pakeet. He has to snuggle in super-close to my side, his hands in his lap, my arm around his back to hold the book; THEN we can read. And boy, do we read! I have a milk crate full of board books, plus a few larger books of his on the shelf, and I would be shocked if we read less then 20 books together a day. Maybe not 20 DIFFERENT books, like he'll want "Old Hat, New Hat" and "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" at least 3 times in a row each time. It becomes tricky when Patrick wants to keep reading Harry Potter (we're on book 4... again) and Ethan wakes up early from his nap... I can't distract him by telling him to get Pakeet, because Pakeet also wants him distracted! So Bobba Dan fills in for a few minutes... never long, because Ethan's favorite thing besides Pakeet is reading books, so he'll snuggle in and plop his board book on top of Harry and we just have to be done until bedtime.

We're looking forward to him turning 2! This is the first time I've had a 23-month-old and not had another baby. It's a different experience - mostly different that I can still call him my baby guy! Everyone else looked like a giant once the newborn came and they were de-throned as the baby. So although I know he's giant, talking and potty training, he's still my baby.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Silly saying

I still haven't written up our long vacation in July, and here the end of August is upon us... but still, it's not gonna happen here! Another night, perhaps, complete with pictures...

Tonight is saved for funny things I heard from my kids lately.

As I do laundry I leave the boys' clean items on top of their dresser, then on Saturday they need to get them all put away. Sometimes things stick together and they accidentally get Caroline's sock, or a dish towel, and this week they got a pair of my underwear... like, cutesy underwear. Eli said, "Oh, no mom - an accident. We got Caroline's underwear." I looked and smiled, "No, those are mine. You can put them in my room." Eli's eyes went wide as he held them up and laughed, "They're teeeeeny!" I had to laugh, too - I'm pretty sure I could wear Eli's underwear. It's always a shocking moment when you realize you're the same size as your mother.

Patrick came across Joe's old iPod, which he had used at the gym that morning, and handed it to me wondering what it was a remote to (his earbuds weren't attached, it does look a remote for apple t.v.). I said, "It's not a remote, it's dad's iPod." Patrick prepared himself to be disappointing, stating, "but dad hasn't downloaded any games on it, has he?" I chuckled and said, "No, iPods ONLY play music, you can't play games on them." Eli happened to be playing with a red dollar store calculator at that moment (one of their all-time favorite dollar store purchases), and declared, "This is my iPod. It only plays numbers."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Baby bird

 While trimming out some dead wood from out neighbor's bush I accidentally disturbed a bird's nest. Two eggs fell on the ground, so I picked ten up, put them back in the nest, and hoped for the best. Sure enough, the mother bird came back and took care of her eggs, and sure enough, one of those eggs hatched. I felt terrible that both didn't make it, but saying "my bad!" didn't seem to change anything, so I just felt happy that at least one survived. Every day the kids would go out and check on it's growth (it was in a bush, not a tree), and before we knew it the little thing was getting ready to fly! We came home from church to find it perched on our porch swing; we sloooowly crept up so we wouldn't frighten it.... then we sloooowly got closer and it still didn't budge.... so we got closer and took a picture....

...after a few minutes we realized that bird wasn't moving an inch! No sneaking necessary. The kids enjoyed watched it, they brought it a bowl of water and some bread crumbs, they eventually got bored and found other things to do, and THREE HOURS LATER THE BIRD STILL HADN'T LEFT!

.... and I realized it had positioned itself in front of the cracked-open window, which was blowing cold air.

Pretty smart baby bird.