Saturday, December 29, 2012

Squirrel Game

One of the things we got the kids for christmas was a game called "The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game."  First, the box looked cool - an immediate draw for me! Second, it was for 2-4 players age 3+, exactly the combo we have in our house.  Third, it involved a pincher (my kids always play with my kitchen tongs, Joe's pliers, Kari's hair clips, or anything that pinches) so I figured that was a good sign.  Fourth, there was a little silver sticker saying it had won some award, though I honestly didn't even look at what award - the toy manufacturers should just start putting silver or gold stickers on their stuff and I'll buy it, thinking it's won some prestigious honor.  Anyway, it looked pretty fun and was a game, not a toy, so we got it. 

I am SO GLAD we got it! It's the most fun game, and TOTALLY easy for anyone around that age - even Caroline liked picking up the acorns with the pincher. Did I mention? The pincher is a SQUIRREL!

You spin the wheel to determine what to pick up (or put back), then grasp the little rubbery acorns with his squirrelly paws and deposit the colored 'corn into your coordinating tree stump.  Even Joe and I enjoy this game!  It defeinitely deserved whatever honor that silver sticker was advertising, and now I recommend you go get it for yourselves. $20 at Target.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Naps made easy

For her nap today Caroline wanted to sleep with Ethan's pacifier and her "tea-pop" (new teapot).
Here's Caroline and her best bud Amelia, both pacifier conniseurs.

I told Eli it was his nap time, too, and while I was upstairs getting Caroline settled he went down to his room, turned on his fan, and tucked himself into bed.  DANG, Eli, sometimes you're just awesome.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Confessions of a Grinch

I want people to know we have a real life with real kids and real setbacks, and sometimes posts like Christmas where everyone is smiling and happy makes it easy to forget that being a parent is HARD, so I'm going to come clean.

Christmas day was great, but Christmas EVE day was awful, and it was all my fault.  I freaked out at the kids and was having an awful morning; when Patrick asked why I was so grumpy I sat down and really thought about it, then really talked it out with him. What came out was that I was frustrated the kids weren't putting as much importance on their presents as I thought they should (they had broken some toys that morning that I was upset about), and then of course, I realised what I was saying.  Not ENOUGH importance on gifts? Who's the idiot here? So I continued talking it out with Patrick, and later that evening with Joe, and we decided that next Christmas will be different - any presents among our little family will be homemade, from the heart and with real purpose, not from the store where I'm going to be upset some kid kicked their $30 toy on accident.

Also, I hadn't spent any time serving people this year, and so the time for me was solely focused on gifts, so next year we will have an advent of sorts where each day we have an activity related to service, like making cards and taking them to people in retirement homes or in the hospital, serving at the soup kitchen, taking meals to families who are struggling, getting families from "the giving tree," or simply making treats for the neighbors.  I did service projects at our ward activity, and picked items off our ward "giving tree" but none of the kids were involved in those and seriously, we could be doing so much better! I felt like a dummy for not figuring this out until my 29th Christmas, but better late then never! And still plenty of time for my kids, of course :)  So next year will be different, but in the meantime it was a bit late, so we had Christmas in a more traditionally commercial way, opening TONS of gifts, and it really turned out GREAT, the kids had so much fun. I'm certainly not ordering people to not get gifts next year, I know one of the most fun things is to buy awesome toys for kids! (Which is why I got so caught up in it). We will still get gifts for people outside our little nucleus, but I'll have the kids participate in that more and include some of their own work. You'll probably hear more about it next November or so, when we start putting it in action, but for now I'm going to start my planning, put some of those activities in envelopes for us to open next Christmas season, and just try to be a more relaxed mom in general. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Very merry

What time is it? CHRISTMAS TIME!
A time to hang out with family

 A time to unwrap gifts

A time to serve one another (and our dollies)

A time to use our talents (in this case, punching)

A time to gather together for games

Christmas was a GREAT time, is what I'm saying :)  We hope you all had a wonderful time with your friends and family and the season has brought you a measure of peace and hope for the new year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Time for Tea

Joe's parents got Caroline a tea set for her birthday.  I figured Eli might steal it, he really likes the toy teapot at Kari's house, but I hadn't figured it would be SO popular! It's made from recycled milk jugs so it's safe for real food (and dishwasher safe, a "must" in my house since I'm the laziest handwasher you've ever seen) and the teapot has a real spout, so we've been enjoying tea parties at our house.  Not drinking tea, of course, we have KoolAid and hot chocolate parties instead, with marshmallows for lumps of sugar.
Patrick takes it very seriously, and is the only one who doesn't spill all over.
Caroline is a mess (notice the beginning of the mess doesn her shirt)
Eli likes to be the pourer. By "likes" I mean "throws a tantrum if someone else pours"
 And here are my Tea Partiers! It's a nice way to start the day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Patrick, to Eli: "When you grow up, then we can go into outerspace."

...yep, Eli growing up is the only thing holding you back....

Patrick: Let's play Guesstimation tonight!
Eli: What's Guesstimation?
Mom: It's a game where you guess numbers
Eli: I guess green
Mom: Well, green isn't a number
Eli: Okay, then I guess red

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How's Patrick?

Patrick is great! (did you expect another response by now?) He continually astounds me with the things he picks up on, so I have to watch myself.  Sometimes I do a really terrible job of watching myself and then we have a little learning moment, like "how to 'read' people when they're really mad, and what to do about it" and "reasons adults are hypocrites sometimes and eat cookies when they just said you couldn't have one." I'm sure he teaches me more than I teach him.
On second thought, I AM teaching him how to play the piano, so he's not teaching me anything but patience there.
We sort of died on reading Harry Potter, there was too mch teenage angst and not enough action.  Instead, we checked out "The Red Pyramid" by Rick Riordan, the same guy who wrote "The Lightning Thief" (which was all checked out, we tried to get that one first). It's the same idea as Percy Jackson, but with ancient Egyptian instead of ancient Greek mythology, so I bring the laptop to the couch with us and look up pictures of things it mentions, like pyramids and obelisks and tiger fish in the Nile (look 'em up! Very scary). Again, a learning experience for us both.
He's beginning to be a fantastic reader! By fantastic I mean he reads very beginner books by himself, one syllable at a time, but he doesn't get frustrated and quit.  Hey, that's all I ask!
We promised him rollerblades when he learned to read, so now he has a nice set of rollerblades! He's absolutely terrible at them. We should have promised him an ice cream sundae or something.
He rides his bike without training wheels now, and he IS very good at the bike. He always wants to ride out on the driveway, the side of our house that gets no sun and is cold, so on days when I'm an awesome nice mom I go out and sit and read with my coat on, or ride Joe's bike along with him. Most days, average frazzled mom days, I try to distract him with play-doh inside instead so I can get some housework done or nurse Ethan. SOME days I get lucky and the backyard is exciting, like being full of snow, and then he doesn't mind which yard he's in because it's all fun.
He continues to draw amazing pictures and has branched out from dinosaurs, though they're still his favorite subject. He drew the the spinosaurus he wants on his birthday cake. I'm undecided - do I give the bakery an awesome picture of a fierce spinosaurus to put on the cake, or do I hand over the less-than-terrifying picture he drew and ask them to copy that? (I've decided I'm too lazy to try making a spinosaurus cake myself and I'll pay good money for peace of mind.)  We'll see, I suppose, when he turns FIVE next month!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How's Eli?

Eli is great! He naps about 3 days a week now, when he's being really grumpy in the morning or I know we're going to have a late night.  Since the boys are turds about actually falling asleep when I put them to bed at the same time, I try to avoid it.  If Eli didn't nap, he goes to bed around 7; if he did nap, he goes to bed around 8:30.  Patrick just goes to bed at 8 either way and they can't pester each other or play hide-and-seek. One night while Patrick was in bed and Eli was staying up he came in from the otehr room and asked "do I look pretty cool?" I turned around, saw this:

 laughed out loud, and grabbed my camera. He's a very funny guy sometimes! When I was still very pregnant with Ethan I was complaining to the kids that my legs were tired so I couldn't carry the kids around.  Eli asked why they were tired and I said, "because my legs aren't used to carrying around a big belly!" Eli immediately asked, "but daddy's legs are?"  HAHA!
He still can't pronounce "Patrick," he says "Batswit."
Eli says things very sternly, and he always furrows his eyebrows when he does, like "Batswit, you can NOT have any more chocolate milk!" We love his stern expression!
He talk and talk and talks and eventually you stop listening because his story is never going to end. A couple minutes later we'll listen back in and "yep! he's still talking!" and then go back to not listening.
While he talks he'll say something that reminds him of something else and he'll say "speaking of ______ ..." even though he's the only one who was speaking of it.
He still wants his milk warm, even in the summer. Right now it makes sense since it's cold outside, but even when it's hot he wants it warm. When he switched to cow's milk at age 1 he wouldn't drink it cold, and 2 years later it still holds true!
Speaking of warm things.... (haha!) he is decidedly against anything HOT. If it's hot you need to put it in the fridge to cool down.  The hot dog you just warmed in the microwave? Back into the fridge.
He and Patrick fight and say "I don't want to be your brother!" so we made a jar called "I love my family." When someone says something mean like that they have to say something they love about the person whose feelings they just hurt.  We write it on a slip of paper and put it in the jar, that way we can go back and read nice things about each other to make ourselves feel good. So far he says "I like playing with Patrick" every single time. Maybe not the most diverse compliments I've ever heard...
...but true! Those boys do everything together, which is exactly what I hoped for in having kids close in age. I just hope that in the end they DO want to be brothers ('cause they're stuck).

And that's Eli!

Monday, December 17, 2012

How's Caroline?

Caroline is great! Joe attempted potty-training and she flatly refused. It's the first time one of his ideas that I thought wouldn't work out, didn't work out! So I'm about 1 for 5.
She's started to pick out some of her own outfits now, she's still in love with shoes and will try on anyone and everyone's.
She loves to sing and often surprises me by singing songs I have never sung to her like "Nephi's Courage" from Primary. She sings very softly, though, so you really have to listen.
Her official birthday was yesterday, so she's finally 2 years old, but she still prefers to hold the silverware in one hand and pick up her food with the other - it drives Joe crazy!
She's obsessed with lotion and handsoap, which frequently gets her into trouble; if she's being too quiet, you'd better hope it's not because you left the lotion on the bathroom counter! (It usually is).
She loves Ethan in a messed-up way: she purposely pokes or squishes him to make him cry, then comforts him! I don't know if she likes his sad/mad face or if she likes the comforting aspect, but it's totally annoying to us since we can't leave her alone with him in the room.
She's a total nose-picker and when she's sad she's got a digit up the nostril for comfort; it's the strangest comfort mechanism I've ever seen! At least she doesn't eat the gold she finds, she always brings it to me for a kleenex (hey, we moms gotta find the silver lining somewhere!).
She is often sad, anything that touches her in a less-than-pleasant way is immediately whined about; we jokingly refer to it as her fibromyalgia, as in "did you hurt your fibromialgia?" (her arm, leg, toe, etc) to which she always replies "yah." 
She likes to draw but without fail she leaves the marker lids OFF. Drives ME crazy.
Likes to drive Eli crazy by stealing his toys. Eli, rather than retaliating, usually falls to the floor and buries his fists in his eyes.  Not so tough for a guy who instigates wrestling with his dad and Patrick.
She's been great sleeping in her big bed, she doesn't get out unless someone comes to get her out, but she WILL try to be sneaky and walk her hands on the floor while her feet are still on the bed, trying to reach something or just be out of bed without being out of bed.  Apparantly she understands technicalities!

And that's Caroline.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How's Ethan?

Ethan is great! He's pretty mellow (again, I was totally wrong on my 1st impression) and has started sleeping very well - his best stretch being 7-1/2 hours so far, but I never get to enjoy it since he goes to bed around 6:30.  The rest of the night it's 2-3 hour stretches.  He gets up about 7:00 each morning, stays up til 8:30, naps for an hour, stays up 'til 11 and then naps until 4.  If it's a good day, that big ol' nap happens in his cradle, like so:

See how much he loves it? He's smiling! If it's a not-so-good day (like he's too gassy to sleep) I stick him in the bouncer because he WILL nap there.  Then, like I said, bedtime around 6:30.  Since he's still so young he's SUPER flexible so I feel free to interrupt and switch around those times to fit my life as needed, but we're pretty lame and stay home a lot so it's definitely become the norm. Then, when we do stray from the schedule (or from our living room) I haul the bouncer around because he's SO TAME in it I know I won't have to worry.  The bouncer has now been to Kari's house, Captain D's for dinner,  Olive Garden on a date, Denver for Thanksgiving, and two friends' homes for  playdates. It's like your credit card - don't leave home without it!

Other than sleeping, the relatively few hours he's awake, he's very happy and likes to kick around on the floor.  Neither grandma found that satisfactory and I'm pretty sure they thought I was just ignoring him until they experienced Ethan being DONE being held and then happy kicking around on the floor instead. It's weird, but true!  I think he needs to work those legs to get the gas out.  I've mentioned it twice now in this post, Ethan is the gassiest! My diet just doesn't agree with him or something (Laurie, I DID take milk out of my diet for a week or two and it seemed to help spitting up, but it turns out I like dairy even more than I like not having throw-up on me.  That's a lot of like!) but when he toots, which is ALL THE TIME, it stinks like something died inside him. NOT cute new-baby toots. His poops were causing concern for a few weeks because he seemed constipated - not the frequency of messy diapers, I know it can be few and far between with breast feeding, but when he DID go it was thick and sticky like peanut butter and he cried (both signs of infant constipation) but ... one day while I was changing his few-and-far-between-poop he was grunting out another squeeze and POP! It was like a cork popped and poop shot THREE AND A HALF FEET, over the changing table, over the trash can, and onto the floor, leaving a nasty green baby poop trail behind.  I screamed when it happened. Now things seem to be moving much smoother for him, so that's good! After he got that out he laid there like he was dead, he didn't even twitch or blink, and he promptly fell asleep for and slept for 5 hours. CRAZY boy.

He's happy and giggles and smiles as anyone who stops by to talk to him, so come on over! Say hello! He's the cutest. And call him Beef, it's his nickname :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

new favorites

An update on me? No thanks.  I'm busy listening to Peter Hollens.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Four times the blessings

One of these days I'll finish filling in details from Thanksgiving weekend when my parents were here...

Today is not that day.

SO, while my parents were here for Thanksgiving weekend we planned on Joe blessing Ethan at church so my dad could stand in the circle.  What fortuitous timing!  For some reason I got it in my head that we would surprise my parents by telling them our plan when they got to Pueblo; I compeltely spaced out that people need to pack church clothes if they plan to go to church (which they had not, since we have 11:00 church)!  Oh no!  Fortunately my parents are CRAZY generous (and my mom enjoys shopping) so they just picked up some new duds and looked extra snazzy for our extra-special day.

Joe only worked the beginning of his regular Saturday night shift (remember, he usually works Saturday/Sunday/Monday night from 6 p.m. - 6 a.m.) so he would be nice and fresh for church, and then we had 4 adults to get kids ready so everyone looked very nice.  I try to get everyone looking very nice for church every week, but when it's me against 4 kids sometimes the kids looks great and I have wet hair and no makeup, and sometimes I look decent and the kids... well... do not. Since everyone looked great (and it was a special day) we snapped a few shots.

The blessing was, as blessings always are, so special.  I get choked with emotion at the smallest things while Joe sits back and laughs, so when occasions like this arise and Joe gets choked with emotion... you know it's a big deal.  I'm grateful that I have a husband who lives his life to bless his family physically and spiritually. Reminds me of a little camp ditty (to the tune of "Weenie Man"):
I know a mormon boy, he is my pride and joy, he knows the scriptures up and dow-ow-own.  One day I'll join his life, I'll be his mormon wife.  Oh, how I love that mormon boy!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Birthdays (but not really)

With Caroline's December birthday in danger of getting lost in the holiday shuffle we decided to celebrate her birthday on her 1/2 birthday for the years to come.  Of course, her 1/2 birthday this year was during a CRAZY summer so it got lost in the shuffle of selling and moving and mom being exhausted, and we never celebrated!  When my parents came into town for Thanksgiving weekend we decided to open presents then - it's not her 1/2 birthday, but it's before the holiday rush, and it was nice to have family.  Still committed to my laziness, though, we wrapped all her gifts in one giant gift bag. 
She got a few small goodies picked out by dad (headbands, a brush, and barrettes),
a stroller from dad & mom,
and a vaccum from Gma and Gpa Gustavson. A mini-Dyson Ball, just like moms!  Same color, even, and of course it turns on and whirls around some confetti in the canister.  It's a HUGE hit and frequently gets fought over. 
The stroller, too.  For such girly gifts I'm surprised at how much the boys whine to play with them! (NOTE: I'm not sexist, I don't think girls need to do all the housework, but the boys are both big enough to push the REAL vaccum and Caroline whines like crazy since she's left out.  And when we are out as a family, Joe pushes the stroller).   
Luckily for the boys, a package got lost in the mail. Gma and Gpa Jacobs sent Eli a trapeze-thingy which never came, so after getting things straightened out it got re-shipped and finally arrived 2 days ago!  Joe put it up yesterday, in the outrageously gorgeous weather, and now the boys have something new to play with (and, of course, fight over)

 Since he's a bit taller and more agile on it, I'd say Patrick plays on it more so far.

But since it's actually Eli's he certainly won't let that fly all the time :)  Also, Joe re-hung our swing, which was sitting a bit low for the kids and WAY too low for fun-loving adults (me) and now it's way more fun to swing on.  So with beautiful weather and TWO tree swings I think we're in business!  THANK YOU Jacobs grandparents!

Then when I started decorating for Christmas I finally opened some Christmas packages those Jacobs grandparents had sent home with us after visiting them in Denver pre-Thanksgiving, and I found two MORE birthday presents for Caroline! Dang, should have been on the spot and opened those when we got home so we could have opened everything together. We'll just wait 'til her official birthday to open them and the kids will have opened presents practically every weekend this fall.  I think this will set some high expectations for the kids that'll get dashed after Christmas is over - oh well! fun while it lasts.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Beddy-Bye time

Joe switched beds on the kids, getting Eli a new twin-size mattress and giving Caroline Eli's toddler bed instead of her crib. I, as usual, was unmotivated to change anything because I was scared it would backfire, but they DO have to grow up some time, so I relented.  Turns out Caroline was just fine, she didn't even seem to notice the switch, and she doesn't get out of bed, she just cried for us to get her out when she wakes up. 
Then one day I went to re-tuck her in before I went to bed myself, and I found her like this!  Too funny.