Thursday, April 30, 2009

Customer Service Isn't Dead

One of the best experiences at the Great Wolf Lodge happened by accident. Abigail and Aidan woke up about 6:00. Kydon wasn't feeling all that great, and Jack was still sleeping, so I decided to take the two and walk around a little and let the sleeping ones have some peace and quiet.

We went to the lobby, and I just sort-of sacked out in a comfy chair, and Aidan and Abigail were just walking around, checking things out, and talking to the front desk staff. We were there for about 20 minutes, and the manager came over. He quietly asked me if it was okay, then went and got us some apple juice and doughnut holes.

It was such a nice thing to do! We weren't miserable, but obviously I would have rather been in bed. It gave me a nice little boost just that someone would do something so nice for us, just to try and help us out a little. It really gave my day a nice start. We finished up our treat, then bought some doughnuts to bring back to those that got to sleep in.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The twin bond

My mom always takes the kids out for a special "day with Grandma" for their birthday. She called today to invite Jack and Aidan on theirs, because their birthday is coming right up. She invited Jack to go on Thursday, and Aidan to go on Friday. They were excited, and we were talking about it all morning.

On the way to pick up Abigail from preschool, I glanced back at the boys, and saw huge tears running down Aidan's face. He was sobbing, and was completely devastated about something. It is not often I see him this overwhelmed with grief. I asked him what was the matter, and he said "I gonna miss Jack! I want to go together with Grandma!"

I asked Jack what he thought, because I didn't want him to not get special alone time if he wanted it. I said "Jack, what do you want to do- go by yourself, or go with Aidan?" He replied "go with Aidan, because otherwise, who I play with?"

I called Grandma, and she was very fine with taking them together. I told them the good news, and they laid across each other's car seats and were hugging each other and cheering! It was so cute! Didn't you always want a twin? They are best friends, and they hate being apart!

Monday, April 27, 2009

So I was checking my email one day...

And out of the blue, I got an email from a marketing firm, wondering if I might like to check out the brand-spanking-new Great Wolf Lodge in Concord, NC. They offered me one free night, with the option to extend one more night for a huge discount.

After .02 seconds of careful consideration, I wrote back and said we would be happy to go!

The first thing you see when you pull up are these huge wolf statues. There was a Daddy wolf on one side, and a Mommy wolf with 3 cubs on the other side. I knew it was our kind of place! :) I was a little confused by the 2 wolves on the roof, but Aidan reminded me about Uncle Dane and Laura.

There was even a fun gift bag when we got to our room. The kids had the candy open in less than one second, and Aidan fell in love with this cute little wolf. His name changes hourly, but Aidan has not put him down once. Sleep, eat, whatever, they are together.

The room was nice- plenty of room, a fridge, a microwave, and this ledge. It separated the room so there was a sleeping area and a sitting area. But really it just meant that the kids had a place to climb.
I appreciated the non-breakable lamps. It is something I always notice now, ever since a memorable incidence in Florida had us finding a Walmart in the middle of our vacation to replace a lamp. There were several special grand opening events planned for Friday night- a family dinner, a concert, and time in the waterpark. The only problem was that once we got in the front doors, and Jack saw the waterpark, that was the only thing he wanted to do. He was very adamant. And persistant. And sad, angry and frustrated. He wanted to go so bad that finally I told him he could get in the bathtub and pretend it was a waterslide. That made him happy... until he had to get out.

The dinner was so fun- balloons, dancing, amazing food, and a lot of wolf howling. Seriously, the food was to die for. I am still wishing I could go back for one more plate.
It was a total party atmosphere- balloons, fancy glasses, small size sodas (the smaller it is the fancier it is, believe me). They had Radio Disney there, handing out prizes, leading games, and just hyping everyone up in general.
The tables were decorated so cute- bright, vibrant colors, balloons, and they had sand pails and shovels filled with fruit. Fun! And a huge stack of cotton candy as a centerpiece. The kids were going nuts!

Abigail really loved the dancing.

And the boys joined in too...

And then they resumed their sword fight.

Then we went up to the lobby for the Mitchel Musso concert. The music was good, and it was even better when they dropped balloons and beach balls from the ceiling. We found a quiet corner, and had a great time throwing and kicking the balls to the music!
And, finally, we had to give in to Jack's most insistent demands that we go to the waterpark! We arrived about 8:30 pm. You know it is good when we are heading to a waterpark almost 3 hours after our normal bedtime! We played in the water for a little over an hour, and then headed off to bed.
Ironic twist: Our kids wake up every day at 6:30. The only exception is when they wake up at 5:30. I think I can count on one hand the number of times they have slept past 6:30, and I don't think they have ever slept past 7. When we were playing so hard in the water until almost 10:00 at night, we were giving each other high 5's, thinking maybe the next morning they would actually sleep in. At 6:30, we were all in a deep and sound sleep- not any stirring... until the fire alarm went off. And it was over. The kids were awake, we went outside and talked to the firemen, stopped for doughnuts, and stumbled back to the room. Well, I stumbled. The kids hopped. (Doughnuts, remember?) And then they started begging to go back to the waterpark.

I shouldn't have been surprised. When we went to Puerto Rico, they all said their favorite part was the swimming pool. So an entire resort designed around a waterpark is right up their alley.

For breakfast, I was invited to be a part of the Mommy Blogger breakfast with the CEO of Great Wolf Lodge, and several of the corporate and local marketing people. It was really fun, and not just because Kydon was at a different table trying to manage 3 sleep deprived, over stimulated, full of sugar kids who wanted nothing to do with breakfast and only wanted to go to the waterpark. I got to sit at tht Mommy Blogger table with all the cool people and pretend I didn't know them. (Thanks, Kydon!) He finally gave up and took them to the pool, and I stayed and learned quite a bit about their business and marketing ideas. It was fun to feel like a person with a brain for once, and not just someone who wipes noses.

Although when they mentioned specific things that made it obvious they had read my blog, I did have the thought that maybe I should have fewer posts focused on various bodily fluids.

And I got to eat more yummy food. Salmon for breakfast, anyone? It was delish! And an omlette bar. I wish I could move in.

Then, after my few moments of peace, I went to rejoin the family at the waterpark. I didn't get many pictures, because I was way too busy getting wet! We stayed all day and had a great time.

The other nice thing is that the resort was only a few minutes from where Jack and Aidan's birth family lives, so Angela, Cody, Alec and Peyton were able to join us for a day of water park fun. And don't even get me started about how a woman who has had four children can look this amazing when I look like jelly and haven't even had one.
I think we wore Aidan out. That night at dinner, he fell asleep on his chair.
There were so many things beside the waterpark- they had a craft/play/book area for young kids, a huge arcade, and this interactive video game thing that tons of people were playing. We didn't get in on that one, but it looked like a blast. If our kids were just a little older and could go on their own, or if Kydon hadn't been feeling miserable from an allergy attack, we would have done it. It looked really fun. They also had a teenager room with MP3 stations, internet, and big screens. It really was a place that tried to appeal to all different ages of kids. In addition to the gigantic waterpark. I loved how it was just focused on kids- they had their own buffet that was at a level they could reach, with food they liked, there was cereal offered at every meal, and everywhere we went there was something fun for them to do.
Sunday, we just got up, took the kids to play in the water one last time, and then headed home. I really can't wait to go back. We didn't leave the resort the entire weekend, and I still feel like there were a lot of things we didn't have enough time to do!

If you are 10, you might be impressed

As part of our fun weekend (details coming soon), I got to meet this guy:
Mitchel Musso. Honestly, I didn't have a clue who he was. Someone told me he had something to do with Hannah Montana, and I had heard of her. (He is Oliver on her show).

We were at his concert- it was pretty great! And then when I was eating my fancy breakfast, he rolled in and ate at the next table. He was talking with us, I got to shake his hand and talk to him and some of the guys in the band.

I'm cool, right?

Later we found out that he also does the voice for one of the characters in a cartoon that Kydon and I love (Phineas and Ferb). He is the voice for Jeremy, in case you are wondering.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Food Friday: Skipping Town

No food Friday this week! That food storage stuff is getting old. I would much rather think about the weekend fun of:

An 80,000 Square Foot Indoor Waterpark!
We are heading up to Concord, NC to check out the brand new Great Wolf Lodge! We got invited to be a part of the Grand Opening, and we are all really excited! As a bonus, Jack and Aidan were born in Concord, and we will be able to see some of their birthfamily!

Day 5: I'm weak!

Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

I'm weak. We had finally broken through all the craziness, and then... today. I could give a million excuses, needing to pack, and clean, and blog pay bills. We were going to watch it in the car anyway a little later.

But the truth is I was just tired of resisting.

I am weak.

I let Jack and Aidan watch TV today. They were begging for it. And I was frustrated after I took a shower today. I usually let them watch their morning show while I shower, but we haven't been watching any this week. While I was in the shower, Aidan broke two little porcelain things that were important to me. Not the end of the world, but I was mad that they were broken. And Abigail squirted a tube of toothpaste into Jack's hair.

Minty fresh, but still incredibly gross.

I got everyone bathed, and Abigail off to school, and I'm trying to pack the bags faster than Aidan and Jack can unpack, and not suceeding, and the washer broke yesterday, which has nothing to do with anything, except that it did and is throwing me completely off.

And then they asked to watch a show. And I readily agreed. I didn't even hesitate.

And you know what? I don't even care. Well, I do a little bit, but I am going to pack while they are glued.

Thank you, my TV friend!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 4: Cloudbreak

Day 4 of our no TV experiment. The sunshine has finally begun to break through the clouds!

The did make more messes than they might normally, but that is because they have been playing more. Nothing like day one, thank goodness. I think the worst thing they got into today was going into my room and trying on all my shoes. It was actually pretty cute.

I was only asked one time if they could watch TV. Today was what I had been hoping would happen- they played, we had outside time, they did little art projects, play doh, chased each other around the house on bikes (yes, I said in the house on bikes), threw water balloons at the red hornets (still haven't found that stupid nest), and just *played*. Their imaginations were at work, and they weren't just sitting around begging for the next show.

There was some bickering of course, but nothing too dramatic or out of control. Finally, I feel like we are at a normal state of being. Not too screen deprived or out of control, just normal.

And, now that we have reached normal, we will leave in the morning for an out of town trip full of fun, late nights, long drives, and some TV watching. I haven't decided when we will resume the TV. For the adults, I'm sure the tube will be on Sunday night when we get home and get the kids in bed. For the kids, I'm not so sure. What do you think I should do?

Results of Day 3

Day one, Day two

Day 3 was fantastic. Hardly any fighting, the kids were busy and happy all day. They got a little restless near bedtime, but it wasn't bad at all.

Oh, did I forget to say that we were hardly home at all today? That may have helped. :)

We had doctor appointments, errands to run, and a nice long stay at Grandma's. We finally came home around 3:30, and they did run in and start playing. They are finally starting to not even ask to watch TV. We only spent an hour and a half at home, so really it wasn't bad at all.

Makes you wonder what will happen tomorrow, right? Me too! We are going to be home most of the day, and I am going to be busy with an adoption conference meeting and packing for our trip this weekend. It should be interesting. Or painful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Further Proof

If you want to see even more proof of my cute kids, check out the preview pictures from our recent photo shoot. Check out the close up of Abigail- simply gorgeous!

Marchet takes such beautiful pictures. She takes so much time and effort, and really tries to make sure she is creating the exact pictures that we want.
And she is very patient when I tell her I don't know what I want and I am happy with whatever and then go into excruciating detail about exactly how I want it. Annoying, I know. Sorry, Marchet! Thanks for being patient!

Here are a couple from her website:

Day 2 Results


I think we must have been watching more than I realized, because this is seriously painful.

I'm not sure if they don't know what to do with themselves, or if I don't know what to do with them, or if they are just still recovering from a busy weekend, or a combination of all of the above.

But today was a slightly better. We had about a 2 hour window where they all played pretty nicely together. After lunch, I made them go outside (thanks, Ali, for the suggestion, ha ha). I told them if they were inside they were going to help me do work, and they all scampered out as quickly as they could. They were playing so nicely, that I thought it would be a good picture for the blog post (see above). After I took the picture, I said "what are you guys playing"?

Abigail responded "We are pretending to watch a pretend movie". Then they yelled at me to move because apparently I was blocking the pretend screen.

Is it ironic that the only time all day that they played happily was when they were pretending to watch TV?? Or is it just sad?

The good news is that I am pretty stubborn, and all of these problems and issues and difficulties just strengthens my resolve to not watch it. And if it isn't better by the end of the week, we will keep it off next week as well. I think it is completely ridiculous that we are all so dependant on a dumb picture box! Although I came really, really, really close to caving. Right around 3:15. And then again around 4:45. And that was closer than yesterday, because yesterday I was only really, really close to caving, and today it was really, really, really close.

I hope tomorrow is better. I hope. I hope.

Click to read about the goal and day one results.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Question

April wrote the following comment on my previous post:

"Why endure the pain? I say turn on the tube! "

That is a good question. Mostly I am doing this because I was already feeling that we were watching too much TV. When we watch 30 min of TV in the morning and 30 min in the afternoon, everything is great. The kids are well behaved, active, and TV is just one more thing that is fun and something they like.

Unfortunately, it becomes really easy to turn it on more and more. Watching an hour in the morning instead of 30 min. Then when we come home after dropping Abigail off, Jack and Aidan ask to watch it, and I agree, then forget to turn it off, and they watch another hour or more. Then Abigail gets home and wants to watch it. You get the idea. It just builds and builds, and it is easier for me to say yes and let them watch it rather than say no.

The problems (for us) of watching too much TV is that they are not active- there are some days there are hardly any toys out because they watched TV all day. And when the TV finally gets turned off, there are screams and cries like you wouldn't believe. They fight more when we watch a lot of TV, they are 'bored' more, they are whiny and less cooperative when the TV is on a lot.

So I was already thinking that we needed to decrease our TV watching. This seemed like a good opportunity to join in with other people and go for one week with no TV. And when this week ends, I have a plan.

We use a little magnet system for our "morning work". I place the magnets on their little board each morning, and they are expected to do each of the things before playing. It works really, really well. The visual cues are WAY better than me yelling "get your shoes on!", and they like being able to take them off when they are done. This simple little system has made our mornings much more pleasant.

For TV watching, I am going to expand on something that is already working. I am going to print out and laminate some little TV pictures. Each picture represents 30 min of TV. On Monday mornings, I will give each of them 3 (4? I can't decide- probably start with 3 and see how it goes). That is their TV watching for the week. It seems like not very much, but they will all watch it together, that is just the shows they get to pick. Theoretically, they will be able to choose when and what to watch. Also, by only allowing a few shows, I can add in a few at various times.

Theoretically, it will teach them about choices, limited resources, and at the same time limit our TV watching to an average of less than 1 hour per day. That is my goal. As we all know, reality is often different than theory, but we have to start somewhere, right?

Results From Day One

Day One of no TV was pretty horrific.

It didn't help that we had been out of town for the weekend, so they were all hyped up and sleep deprived.

We don't normally watch *that much* TV, usually about an hour or hour and a half. But it calms the kids, keeps them happy, and I can get things done. About 1:30 I really, really almost caved. But I decided to try to make it just 30 more minutes, and of course it did get a little better. The worst part was just that I did not get one.thing.done. I was hoping to unpack our bags, do laundry, dishes, etc. Instead I just ended up running around cleaning up the disaster zones they left behind all day.

The did have a little more learning happening than if they had been watching TV. Things they learned yesterday:
  • If you push your bed out of place, then pull all the sheets and blankets off of every bed into a big pile, then pull every item of clothing out of every drawer and add it to the pile, it makes a fun cushion to jump into. Also, it makes Mommy mad. (Why do they love to keep doing this??)
  • If you are having rice for lunch, they discovered that you can take a big bite of rice, hold it in their mouth for a minute, then blow/spit it onto their siblings. It makes nice sticky confetti and makes the victim scream and cry. Also, it makes Mommy mad.
  • If you find some leftover yarn, you can use it to string up the entire house. From room to room, over and under everything you can think of, tied and wrapped and almost impossible to unravel. Also, it makes Mommy laugh.
  • If you really, really want to play with water balloons, and Mommy keeps saying no, you can ask enough times that she will eventually wear down and let you. However, if you refuse to clean up the blanket/pillow/clothing mess, you will have to stay inside and scream while your sister (who did help) gets to go out by herself and throw balloons at whatever.
  • If you get a brand new bottle of bubbles, then immediately dump it on the ground without even blowing one bubble, you won't get a new bottle. Also, it makes Mommy mad.

I hope that today is better. I hope that yesterday was just a 'detox' day, with sleep and TV and back to normal, and that today will be blissfully peaceful with children playing nicely with toys, using their imagination and not making messes.

Hey, I said I was *hoping*. :)

Also, TV is almost impossible to avoid. I accompanied my mom to the Doctor yesterday, and sat in the waiting room for 30 min before I realized that I had been watching TV the whole time. And, we won't make it a whole week, because this weekend we are going to North Carolina, and you can be sure I will turn on the DVD player while we drive!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Turning it off and Creeping me out

This week is National Turn Off The TV Week.

We are going to participate. I have a love/hate relationship with our TV. I don't think it's good for them. I don't think they should watch it. I think it is harmful to them, and I know for a fact their behavior is worse when they watch it a lot.

On the other hand, they LOVE it. They beg for it. They are quiet and happy when it is on. I can work, clean, and cook in peace while they are watching it.

See, love and hate.

So we are joining in on the Turn Off TV Week. For one week, this week, we won't watch it during the day, and Kydon and Dane were on board as well, so we won't be watching at night either.

I think I will both love it and hate it. We will see!

Also, the kids found a spider crawling near my computer. Aidan was begging to smash it, so I let him. Unfortunately, his smash was more of a swipe, and he swiped it in between the keys of my computer keyboard. It is half-way smashed, but it was alive enough to crawl down into my keyboard.

It is creeping me out, but not enough to stop typing. Obviously.

Now if they had turn off the computer week... I wouldn't be able to do it. ;)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Food Friday: Make it cute

Who wants ugly food storage?? Not me! So I took some Mod Podge, and some scrapbook paper, printed out some signs on my computer, and now they are cute!

Don't you love how it matches the red gamma seal lid? You can buy the lids in all different colors! And I had to go to 3! Different! Stores! to find red and white scrapbook paper. Isn't that silly? And isn't it silly that I kept going to more stores? Whatever... at least it is cute now!

I plan to use a different color for each item.

Eventually I want one of these shelves:

And I will label it with these:

My labels will say something like "Peaches: 24 cans" That will make inventory so easy! And of course I will use some scrapbook paper and cute ribbon. It might take me 6 months to get it done, but I will do it!
I am super proud to say that I am 100% on my 3 month storage. Now I need to evaluate if it really is enough food to make it 3 months. I plan to revisit my menu plan and check my quantities. Also, I need to make some progress on my other goals- more water storage, freezer meals, and long term storage of basic items.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter Fun, Once Again

We usually remind the Easter Bunny to leave the baskets on Saturday, but I forgot to remind that pesky little rabbit, so we got them on Sunday. Gotta love a morning filled with candy and excitement, then trying to get them to sit still for a little over an hour.

Anyway, here are the baskets I made for them:
Just a little lot of felt, 3 ice cream buckets, and some time. They turned out ok, but not as cute as I thought they would. I still need to cover the handles- maybe next year.

We have a tradition of putting new socks and undies in their Easter baskets. Plus a little candy and a toy. Jack and Aidan got red Monster Trucks, and Abigail got a gumball machine. I was cracking up, because they were all REALLY excited about the new undies! Trying it on, looking at all the patterns, it was so funny and cute!

They also each got a huge sucker in their favorite color. Too bad they each took one lick and threw them in the trash. See the lick above? That was the only one. Lesson learned.
Saturday was our second and best egg hunt, at Grandma's, of course. Here are all the cousins lined up and ready to go. Aidan was freaking out because he was in the bathroom and didn't want to miss it!
I almost got trampled trying to get in front of all of them to get this picture!

Baby Aaron wasn't too impressed with the whole thing. His finger was much more interesting.
I tried to get some cute pictures of the egg hunt, but I basically suck at taking pictures. Here are a couple:

The kids each got a prize- a foam shooter. They loved it! Oh, and also more candy than they could possibly eat, although they gave it a good try.

The egg hunt was followed by a yummy picnic.
Jack spent a huge amount of time hitting wiffle balls with this bat. He stayed out there for as long as there was someone to throw them for him. He was pretty darn good, hitting a lot of the balls, and one he hit hard enough that it broke the ball!
I took this picture from Lisa's blog, since it was better than the ones I took. I love the way he stuck out his tongue every time he hit the ball.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cherish those you love

I posted today over at Deep South Moms about taking a moment to cherish those we hold dear. I was reminded this week of how fleeting life can be. We get so caught up in all the 'stuff' and it all of it wouldn't matter a bit if we lost one of our loved ones.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Death and Taxes

Nothing like waiting until the last minute.

Our taxes are finally done.

I hate doing taxes.

I used to love it.

Then it all got complicated.

Schedules A-SE and then some.

But they are done.

Except Kydon just found an addition error.

Now we have to re-do them.


Well, at least we have 8 more hours before they are due, right???

Monday, April 13, 2009

Proof of the accuracy of my blog name

Easter morning we decided to break out the wedding clothes a little early. They looked simply adorable!