Thursday, February 25, 2010

Strong Will

You know how before you have children, you imagine and dream of what they will be like? Well, I must say we've really lucked out with both of our kiddos. Madeline has the best personality! She's a kick-and-a-half to be around! She's really good at entertaining herself during the day and I love being in the kitchen and eaves-dropping on whatever she's doing...acting out a scene with her toys, negotiating resolutions to the problems between her dolls (apparently they need time out in their rooms every once in awhile!), running and dancing around the house, singing one of the tons of songs she knows, or getting out her spiral bound notebook and pen to "write" (and, of course, narrate aloud) letters to her friends and relatives.

James is usually Mr. Even Steven. {He must have gotten those dominant genes from both me and Keith!} A calm, happy boy almost all the time, which is pretty amazing given all he has to go through physically every day. He loves to play with his toys, watch his sister do just about anything, grab at whatever is in reach {too often his tubes}, have his legs and feet massaged, and be carried around in the front pack {this is the only way I get anything accomplished around here!}. Normally he only cries when he needs a diaper change, needs to be in a new position, or wants to be in a new environment.

Tuesday was NOT a good day around here. James often sleeps until 8 or 8:30am. Tuesday he started crying at 5:30am and DIDN'T STOP FOR SEVEN HOURS!!! {He took a few 5 minute breaks, but that's about it.} I had no idea what the heck was wrong with him. He was fed, he was dry, he wouldn't burp. He didn't like being held, being in the pack, going in the swing/bouncy seat/exersaucer/playmat/crib. Dancing? No. Cold pacifier from the fridge? No. Being rocked to sleep? No. When Maddie was a baby she definitely had her days {actually, nights usually} of crying...but never that long! I was totally going crazy. I do NOT do well with crying babies. I can't tune it out or ignore it. It just grates on me until I lose every shred of patience and I get ticked off at everything. Let's be honest...I was pissy. It was not my proudest day as a mother. I was ready to give him away to the Gypsies.

So...naturally, Maddie picks THAT day to put in her own two-cents worth of rebellion. She has quite the strong will and knows how to push all my buttons. First she wears me down with the CONSTANT talking and question-asking. Then she waits until the moments when I'm in the middle of some medical task with James and suddenly starts yelling about some URGENT know, like she's out of graham crackers. {Repeated 50 times, with more urgency and louder volume and hand gestures and pauses so.I.know.she's.serious!} Then, when her need is not immediately met, she dissolves into tears and dramatically throws herself onto the ground with the most Oscar-worthy sighs and breath-catching sobs you've ever heard. {Followed by MY massive eye-rolling, "Oh.My.Goodness. Are you serious?!" sarcasm, and then I launch into The Boy Who Cried Wolf story, which she's now heard 100 times.} Oh, and of course James is still screaming bloody murder.

I just have to say here, James FINALLY calmed down {also for no apparent reason} around 1:30pm and took an exhaustion-induced nap, so by the time Keith got home from work he was a happy-go-lucky guy again. I told Keith about the-horror-that-was-my-morning and he said something to the effect of, "Wow, that's weird. [shoulder shrug] He seems perfectly happy now with me!"

Quick, somebody get a fire extinguisher because I think I just saw flames shooting out the top of my head!

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P.S.--Today Maddie came to me, out of the blue, and said, "Mommy, I'm sorry I was so bad the other day. I guess my brain was just not working that day, so it made me a bad listener. But don't worry Momma. My brain is working good today, so I'll be a good girl!" sweet girl is back again! Keith told me that she said to him last night, "The other day I was being bad in my heart. I don't know why, but sometimes I'm just that way." :-) Aren't we all, sweetheart. That's what grace & forgiveness are for.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Treats

In our house, Valentine's Day isn't as much about flowers and stuffed animals and is just a big excuse to get in the kitchen and indulge in something CHOCOLATE! (Of course, for my choco-holic hubby, that's every day! We each have our drug of & just about any baked goods for me, chocolate & Diet Coke for him.)

A while back, I'd been snooping over at and saw some of these adorable creations called Cake Pops. She does them a ton of different ways and for different holidays, but I figured I'd keep it simple for my first go at it. Basically you bake a cake, then crumble it and mix it with cream cheese frosting, roll the mixture into little balls, freeze them on lollipop sticks, and then dip them in melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles. Today I had everything ready to go when Maddie and Keith got home from the store.

It sounded simple enough, but I was quickly proven wrong. Chocolate too thick? Cake mixture too wet? Too heavy? I'm not sure, but after my first few successful attempts they started doing this sad, sad thing...

Ummm. Well then. This just won't do! How to save this from utter disaster? Make cake bon bons! Crisis averted. :-)

Maddie was my official "sprinkler" and what can you say about a 3-year-old helper in the kitchen? You'd better be ready to go with the flow. The flow of sprinkles all over the counter and rolling onto the floor. Sleeves dunked in chocolate frosting. Lollipop sticks being pulled out of cake balls, licked repeatedly and then tapped all over unfinished treats. (And "the talk" about how these are gifts, food for other people, and how they probably don't want your slobbery germs patted ever-so-lightly into their cake balls!)

All in all, I think we ended up with about 6 actual "cake pops" and another 40 "cake bon bons" to share with family and friends. Not bad for an afternoon filled with chocolate, sprinkles and an oh-so-thrilling 3 year old on a sugar high!

Good thing Nana and Papa came over today to exchange valentines and wrestle on the bed with Maddie and James! All that sugar-high energy needs to be used up somehow!

I saw this idea on the Family Fun magazine website and thought it could be a fun start to a new little tradition. A curtain of hearts to wake up to on Valentine's Day morning. As Maddie gets older, we could clip on little notes and affirmations of things we love about her to make it more personalized. On a scrapbooking website I also saw paper with hearts & robots / hearts & frogs, so perhaps I'll make one for James in a year or two.

The cool, unexpected thing about these that I discovered when I hung them tonight is that they twirl! Looking at that just makes me happy.

Happy Valentine's Day everybody! :-)

P.S.--I didn't want to leave out one special family member, whose birthday happens to be on February 14th. Happy 5th Birthday, Lucy!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

My Cutie Pies

Lately I've been more deliberate about grabbing my camera and documenting the lives of my kids...James learning new things, Maddie in all her dramatically-silly glory. (I swear, she's going to be an actress when she grows up...or a musician. She's already asked us to buy her a piano, trumpet, flute, and drum set...and the toy ones won't do! I'm sure she'll do something performance-oriented. Something that involves LOTS of talking. The girl never stops!)

Here's a peek from this week:

Did I mention she's picking out her own accessories now?
Nothing says "going on a date with Nana" like a pink pumpkin filled with crayons (obviously!) and rose-colored flower sunglasses!

A brisk winter evening playdate at the park with Mommy.

Our handsome little man, happy as usual.

The other day I was rocking baby James and realized that the house had gotten very quiet. Not good. I called out for Maddie multiple times. No answer. So I went searching and all her usual hiding places were empty. I finally walked into our bedroom, peeked around the corner and saw this. Lounging in James' vibrating chair. Daddy's headphones on, playing games on the iPod Touch (which she's pretty much claimed for her own now). :-)

Push, push! Practicing standing up with Daddy.
James is getting much he's only "Jello Legs" about 50% of the time.

On Monday he has an appointment with Emanuel's Child Development & Rehab Center. They do a work-up on all the kids who have been in their NICU. I'm curious to see how he's measuring up.

P.S.--He'll be hitting 11 pounds this week! Scrawny for a 5.5 month old, but a far cry from 3 lbs 3 oz.

Maddie's favorite activity: jumping on our king size bed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bits & Pieces

This last week I was so excited to get a package from Amazon: Becky Higgins' Project Life scrapbook kit. I love all the fun materials for scrapbooking in general, but let's face it...time is precious and lately it seems I have less free time than ever. I'd love to spend hours each week pouring over my stash of goodies and coming up with creative and artistic layouts (hmm...perhaps when the kids are older and in school!). Heck, I'd even love to get photos into a basic album! But the reality is that I still have photos in a box from Maddie's FIRST birthday party. Part of my issue is a lack of time. The other part is feeling a bit paralized about it...feeling so "behind" on documenting our lives, feeling like I want my layouts to be perfect, taking forever to pick out "just the right" accessories, not knowing where to start. So what am I left with? Two-year-old photos in a box. What good is that?

My new scrapbook kit comes with a TON of materials, but here's the thing...everything is ready to go! It's all measured and cut out. It all coordinates. There's no right or wrong way to do it. You just write on the little journaling cards, print out your photos and slip everything into the pocket protectors and you're done! Now THAT I can do, even with James in the front carrier! I've realized that I'm better at completing projects when they're in small, do-able chunks. When it comes to scrapbooking, I'm drawn to mini-albums for documenting single events and I love page protectors for gathering the bits and pieces of our ordinary, everyday life. Last year I made a binder documenting "a week in the life" of our family and it was one of my favorite projects to date! This new scrapbook kit is along those same lines...just over the course of a whole year. I'm just taking it month by month, hoping to capture James' first year milestones, Maddie's growth and funny quirks, and our reality for now. I've been keeping the album laying out on the buffet so that I can take 5 minutes and jot something down whenever it hits me during the day.

Getting a start on, Blazer game ticket stub, quotes by Maddie, samples of her watercolor paintings, favorite new recipes, James' 5 month milestones.

Here are a few photos I've taken over the last few weeks that may or may not make it into the album:

James is pretty much in awe of his sister Maddie. Let's face it, she's darn entertaining! He's always straining to see what she's doing and Maddie is really good at engaging him and calming him down...although the other day she said as James was being fussy, "It's okay, Mommy. Sometimes babies just cry."

When we remodeled the kitchen, this area was designed to be a breakfast nook with a table in the middle. Well, the table hasn't happened yet...and to be honest, I'm quite fine with that! It's become a perfect little play area for Maddie (it is usually not this much of a disaster, but who can be bothered to tidy up when there's so much playing to do!).

The past couple of nights James has been pretty fussy (usually he's very calm and relaxed). The only thing that seems to soothe him is having his legs free and getting a massage (hey, can you blame him? Sounds good to me!)

This is the way James and I spend large chunks of our day together--in the front pack. He loves to be snuggled in tight with his hands in prayer. I just had to try to capture that sweet little face I get to gaze at all day.

Lovin' on my sweet boy. His soft little head is showered with snuggles and kisses all day long. How could I resist? :-)

Valentine's Day treats

There are so many cute ideas for Valentine's Day kid treats out there right now, but I saw this one today from one of my favorite blogs, Blonde Designs, and I thought it was so clever and funny! If you have kids and need to whip up these treats quickly, she's even included printable/downloadable label stickers for you!

Can't wait until Maddie is school-age and we can make bunches of valentines together! :-)