Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Favorites

Okay, so this post would be better with pictures, but I don't have any, so we will just have to do with a picture-less list.

In no particular order, here are my favorite memories from this 2011 Christmas season:
  • Zippy.  Our elf.  The kids have been so funny with him, whispering in his ear and rocketing themselves out of bed each morning to see where he is hidden.  Aidan admitted just the other day that he tested his magic by touching him one day (if you touch him he loses magic and can't come back), and he came back anyway!  Then Abigail devised this whole long and complicated explanation as to how that could have happened!
  • Watching Christmas movies.  We have watched numerous ones, and loved them all!
  • Hot cocoa.  Lots and lots of hot cocoa.  Followed by ice cream, because it isn't really all that cold right now.  Which also brings me to my next point:
  • WARM WEATHER!  Love it!  It has dipped into the 50's a few times, but also has stayed mostly in the high 60's.  The kids have spent all month outside, running and playing and getting completely filthy.  I hope it never turns cold!
  • French Dip sandwiches.  Yum!  An easy crock pot meal, and only about 5 min of putting them together before eating.  Even the kids loved these sandwiches.
  • The age of my kids.  This is the most fabulous year!  They are old enough to understand all that is happening, the magic of Santa and the excitement of all the presents.  They are old enough to plan and scheme for what to get other people, and yet still young enough to believe (it might not be much longer, based on their questions) and be mystified by all the events.  They told me that tonight, Christmas Eve, is the best night of the whole year!  The excitement is contagious, and I'm excited too!
Hope you all have a very merry and magical Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Neurosis Updated

Thank you to all who commented about my neurotic need for my children to go to bed exactly on time! (If you haven't read that post first, this one won't make much sense).

If you read the comments, you can see that they are pretty split with opposing views, and the funny part is that I agree with each and every one of them!

The thing is, I do have a need and desire for my kids to go to bed early.  Abigail wakes between 5-5:30 every day, regardless of bedtime, so it isn't an option to keep her up and have her sleep in.  However, I recognize that as something unique to our family (I know a few others have the same issues, but they are pretty rare).  I am okay with doing things differently than others, it really doesn't bother me.   Although I inquired about changing the time for Activity Day Girl meetings, I really didn't push the issue, because it makes a lot of sense to have it that way.  I recognize that if my family were a different dynamic, I would want it the way it is.  I would NOT want to come to the church at 4pm for one activity then back at 7pm for another.  I would want them combined.  If my kids were not all the same age, I would prefer it that way.  If I had a daytime job, I would want it that way.  If I had kids in middle school that didn't get home until 4:30, I would want it the way it is.  For EVERYBODY else, the timing makes a lot of sense.  It just doesn't work for us.  (And there really aren't enough girls to split the group and have 2 different meeting times).

Therefore, I did ask, and talk to some of the parents, and the leader, and the presidency, but when there was no support (which didn't surprise me, but I knew I had to at least try), I pretty quickly let it drop. 

SO- the meeting time is not going to change, and really, I don't think it should change.  However, it leaves me with my original dilemma of whether or not Abigail will go, and as Gretta pointed out, part of the reason I am so worked up about this is that in just one short year Jack and Aidan will also be expected to attend scouts, which meets at the same time, so I need to figure this out.

After thinking, and talking, and posting about this, I feel very strongly that bedtime is something that is crucial to our family happiness.  I have tried very hard this year to be not-so-neurotic about it, and quite often on the weekends we have at least one or two days where they are up later than I would like.  I try not to stress about it and just let it happen.  But when things are hectic, and behaviour is bad, I need to be vigilant about bedtimes.  I am going to take the same approach with the activity. 

I will not be sending her to the activity on a regular basis.  If there are days when behavior has been great and bedtime has been consistent for a while, and it happens to be a good night for her to go, then she will go.  If it is not so good, she will not go.  We are going to do some things for her (extra play dates, extra classes if she is interested) that will hopefully lessen the disappointment of not going, but I believe that church activities should be a supplement to family life rather than a detractor, and I also believe that in our particular family, bedtime is more important than it is in most.

Thanks for all the comments, both online and in person, and keep them coming!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Done...

Shopping:  DONE

Wrapping:  DONE

 Holiday baking and cookie making: DONE (and by the way, if you find peppermint marshmallows, please buy them and use them to make Rice Krispy treats, then drizzle chocolate and crushed candy canes on top, then eat and enjoy.  Your welcome.)

Hmmm.... everything is done.  Maybe I should work on a jigsaw puzzle:



Oh yeah, we did that too. 

Now what am I going to do all this week???

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In Which I Expose My Neurosis

I am feeling agitated lately.  Upset and nervous.  Worried and bothered.  You get the idea.  I haven't talked about it much, because I know it will expose the truth- that I am neurotic with a side of crazy.   But, what is a blog for, if not for over sharing?

In just a few short weeks, Abigail will be 8.  That means she will be getting baptized.  I'm very excited for that.  I went through "my baby is too old" last year when she was 7, so I'm surprisingly calm and happy about the upcoming event. 

*However*.  That age-of-eight also means that she will be invited to attend "Activity Day Girls", which is a group of girls age 8-11 who meet twice a month for a little activity.  Sounds great, doesn't it?  Yes, I agree that she is ready for such a thing.  She will love it, and it will be good for her.  Yes, in theory, it is wonderful.

But the reality is... they don't meet until 7:30.  PM!  Yes, you heard me.  The activity doesn't even START until she is supposed to be snoozing away in her comfy bed.  Bedtime.  I am fanatical about bedtime.  FANATICAL, I tell you! 

I try to be a permissive parent.  I let them play in mud at the park.  I take them on adventures.  If they want to watch TV or make a mess of my fabric, I generally let them.  The one thing I am fanatical about is bedtime.  I wasn't always this way.  When Abigail was a baby, there was no such thing as "bedtime".  But when we had a one year old who needed a schedule and 2 nine-month old babies who were still waking every 2 hours, we needed to change something.  I read the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child", and my entire world changed.  Within 3 days all 3 were sleeping through the night and taking long, regular naps.  I became sane again.  I stopped leaving the house, because Jack and Aidan would nap 9-11 and 1-4.   Abigail would nap 12-2, and bedtime for all was 6.  Yes, 6 pm. 

It was wonderful.  I turned into the sleep fanatic.  I would not go ANYWHERE if it interfered with naps.  No family parties, no trips to the store, no park, no nothing.  We stayed home and slept.  That started about 6 years ago, and I haven't really changed all that much.  Yes, we eventually gave up naps (although mine took naps much longer than most of our friends), but bedtime has remained pretty constant.  Until just this year, we have put our kids to bed at 6:30. 

This year, under great pressure from Kydon, we have delayed bedtime until 7:30, but that means they are generally in bed by 7:15 and hopefully asleep by 7:30.  I greatly resisted this change.  What in the world do you do with kids who are awake after dinner?  It has been about 6 months, and I am still baffled by that time frame.  I will admit that usually once a week I just can't take it and they go to bed at 6:30.  They all keep asking me when I will relent and let them stay up later, and I honestly can't say.  I was calling for a babysitter the other night, and at 9 pm all the teenagers were still awake!  I worried about it all night! 

And now, just because she is having a birthday, they want me to keep her up until 9 pm on a regular basis??  On a school night?  That bothers me on SO many levels (not the least of which is that I can see immediate changes in behavior based on what time they go to bed, and I know I can expect to deal with increased whining and bad behavior the next day). 

I tried floating the idea of changing it to an afternoon schedule, but that went over like a lead brick.  Not gonna happen.  So, now I have to decide.... do I stick to my guns and keep bedtime (something that I KNOW is good for the kids and good for our family in general), or do I cave to peer pressure and allow her to stay up twice a month?

I received no medication as a sponsor of this post.  All idiotic neurosis are the sole property of my own head.  I've tried to talk about this with real people, and get only baffled looks and "what is the big deal", so I'm giving it to the internet because I can't see computers roll their eyes.

Birth Family is just more Family!

Our Halloween weekend was made even more thrilling by some special visitors!  Jack and Aidan's birthmom brought herself and her kids all the way down to GA to visit us!
They were able to come to our school carnival, so they got to see our school, meet some of the teachers, and have some Halloween fun!
Aidan and Jack both have a little bit of hero-worship with Angela's oldest son Alec!  He is so sweet to them and they just adore him!
Here is Angela, me with crazy braids, and Aidan's teacher.
Kydon made a bunch of pancakes to feed this hungry crowd!  They stayed with us all weekend, and we tried our best to wear them all out!  We were trying to give them as much fun as they give us when we visit.  We couldn't do a bonfire and breakfast at the Farmhouse, but we did our best to show them around!
We have a skate park nearby which all the kids just loved... except poor Jack with his broken arm couldn't participate.

Abigail was standing with her roller blades at the top of this ramp.  I asked if she was scared to go down, because she really isn't all that stable on her skates.  She looked at me like I was crazy and said of course she wasn't scared!  Then she did this-
Ha ha!  No wonder she wasn't scared! 
Alec showed us a bunch of cool moves!
Jack asked me to take this picture so he could pretend that he was going down all the ramps as well- notice how he is hiding the cast! 
We decided that they needed to get a glimpse of "city life", so we all hopped onto the Marta train and headed downtown.  With this many little boys, the train ride itself was the adventure!

We then walked around a little through downtown.  It was a bonus adventure, because it was the GA Tech homecoming game, so they got to see a little of the craziness of SEC game day excitement!
It was a little difficult keeping all the little ones within our sight and out of the street, but we somehow managed!

The kids all got along so well, and it was so fun to talk to Angela and spend time with her- I love having extra family!
Walking across the ginormous bridge over the interstate!  Of course we had to stop and stare in amazement and take some pictures!
We ate at the Varsity- an Atlanta tradition and the height of craziness on game day!  It was so packed full, you could barely make your way through the place.  We did somehow manage to get some food (and some of it was even what we ordered!) and even more amazing, found a place to sit! 
I loved having them here and watching the boys spend time with her!  I love that they have that relationship and know how much she loves them!  I mean, who else would help them play DS for 2 hours, carefully explaining each and every button and reading each instruction on each game and let them switch games as many times as they wanted?  (Not Mommy, I can promise you that!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why I don't Shop Before Thanksgiving

 Yesterday Abby made her own Santa suit.   I think she did a pretty good job!
This morning Zippy was hiding in our fridge!  Can you believe it??  That little guy took forever to find!  But doesn't he look cozy all wrapped up?

There is a very good reason why I won't allow myself to do any Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving.  That very good reason is that once I start, I just don't want to stop!  Officially, I am "done" with my shopping.  I actually was "done" two shopping trips ago.  But we all know that I will just keep going until Christmas day!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to check Amazon for something for Kydon!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What they aren't getting

Oh, why, oh, why, can't they ask for something that I could actually agree to get??  I *want* to make their Christmas dreams come true, I really do.

In no particular order, here is a list of things they have asked Santa for, that Mommy has put the kibbosh on:

-- Electric Scooters.  Yikes.  You would have to be kidding.  My kids are wild and reckless enough on the foot-powered ones they have.  The very last thing they need is a motor!

-- Live animals.  I don't think so.

-- Remote control airplane.  This one I considered, but there is no shadow of a doubt that it would be broken within days of being opened.  I just can't spend $40 on something that will absolutely not last.

-- 2 itouches.  Aparently one is not enough for Abigail, who has asked for two.  I don't think she is old enough, and spending $200 for one is not going to happen, let alone $400 for two of them. 

-- Skate shoes.  I thought about these as well, until I saw that they cost $100!  Can't see spending that on shoes they can't wear to school and will grow out of in 2 months.  Also, then I really wouldn't be able to catch then when they run away from me!

-- Powerwheels jeep.  I didn't want them when they were age-appropriate, and I certainly don't want them now.

-- Nintendo DS.  I just don't want to go there. 

-- American Girl Doll.  I actually would love to get one for Abigail, but Daddy is the mean one for this one.  She never, ever plays with dolls.  We bought her a knock-off AG doll last year, and it stays in the bottom of a drawer, surfacing only on the rarest of occasions when friends of hers are over and want to play.  I still would buy it, because I like them as well, but Kydon says NO WAY to $100 for something she really wouldn't play with!

We have thought of many brilliant gifts, and I know Christmas morning will be fantastic... I just wish they would ask for something that I could agree to!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mystery Solved!

One of the benefits of having family so close is that we frequently have family dinners.  We all gather at one house, make our way through pile after pile of delicious food, and enjoy the conversation and play time with cousins.

There has always been a mysterious element to these dinners, however.  While I come home feeling stuffed and full, the minute we try to put the kids to bed, they cry and complain of hunger and empty stomachs.  It never made sense.... until now.

The other day I was cleaning up from a family dinner at my house, and I went outside to gather the plates from the deck, and look what I found:
Gee, mystery solved.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Halloween Memories!

Halloween was so fun this year!  The kids all had very definite ideas of what to be, and they were pretty easy to make happen!
 Jack wanted to be a vampire.  I might be biased, but I think he looks more cute than scary!
 As a shock to everyone, Aidan decided to be a Union Army soldier.  Luckily we already had all the components of his everyday wear costume.  Thanks to Daddy for his "real army" boots and to Granny for his musket.
 We added a bit of battle wounds to make it a little more authentic.  Soldiers in uniform don't smile, by the way!
 I got into the spirit a bit as well with a fun hairdo of gravity-defying braids!
 Here they are- all set to trick or treat!
 Of course we had to go with our cute neighbor!  I think they feel actual physical pain when they are separated from each other! 
 Trick or Treating started with a neighborhood gathering and costume parade and group picture and goodie bags.  Then, they turned the kids loose on the neighborhood!
 Run, boys, run!  You don't want to miss it!  They might run out in the next two seconds!
 Trick or Treat!
 Grab and run!

 I thought it was so hilarious that they were running so hard between each house!  Kydon and I could barely keep up.
 Go!  Go!  Go!
 They ate their fill of candy Halloween night, then the next day they get to keep 7 pieces of candy (oh, the agony of only 7 pieces!).  That night, they put their gigantic bowls of candy on the front porch for the "Switch Witch" who switches the candy for a toy.  This year she brought remote control cars!
 I loved seeing them out running and playing instead of moaning and groaning on the couch from a sugar- induced coma!



All in all, Halloween can be chalked up as a success once again!

Friday, December 2, 2011

We got Grinched!

The Who's down in Whoville liked Christmas a LOT!

But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, did NOT!

On Tuesday I took my girl to her fist live musical performance!  This is one of the great joys of parenthood- to experience something for the first time with someone filled with wonder and joy and excitement!  We went to the Fox Theater to watch "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical", and she was so excited!  Not only did she get to see one of her favorite shows, but she got to stay up late!  The world was perfect!
 I love the Grinch book, I love the Grinch TV show, and now I can honestly say I love the Muscial!  The costumes were out of this world- I keep seeing them dancing in my head!  And the Grinch was masterful in his crankiness!
 I think I have discovered our new family tradition to welcome the Christmas Season!  I loved the way her little face lit up and her giggles and laughs at just the right moments!  I think this is my favorite show I have seen at the Fox!
The costumes were divine, the music was sublime, and I wish I could live life talking in rhyme!

I received 2 complementary tickets to the show.  All opinions and memories are 100% my own.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday's List

I have been a bad blogger this month.  Bad, bad blogger.  I have posts about Halloween, posts about birth family visits and other family visits, and posts about mean tricks I like to play on the kids.  I will get them written, eventually! 

For now you are stuck with my random thoughts on a Tuesday morning.  We greatly overdid our Thanksgiving holiday!  Huge meals every night, all the gluttony of Thanksgiving dinner, and a divine cheesecake that I can't stop thinking about!  Our out of town guests are gone now, and all I am left with is an empty fridge, hyped-up and sleep-deprived kids and 6 jigsaw puzzles sitting (completed) on my dining room table.

Today I have to grocery shop (in the cold, cold, rain- but I can't complain because the weather all week has been gloriously warm), make bread, do laundry, mop, and take Jack to get his big cast off.  Most likely we will be trading the big cast for a smaller cast, but he is still very excited to at least have part of his arm back!

Oh, and tonight, even though she really should go to bed on time for once in over a week, I am taking Abigail to the fabulous Fox Theater to see "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" musical!  I am so excited about taking her to her first show!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's getting scary!

It is obvious to me...

The holiday is over, the leftovers are gone, and it is time once again to head to the grocery store.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Racing AND Crashing- what could be better?

A sweet package arrived on my doorstep:  Jada Toys Battle Machines Combat Crash!  Racing, crashing, remote control battle action... sounds like something right up our alley!

I wanted Jack and Aidan to have this for Christmas, but I just had to open it up and try it out!  By the way, opening it ahead of time turned out to be a brilliant idea.  I put batteries in, put all the stickers in the right place and figured out how to snap it all together in the quiet of a kid-less home.  The other option is what we usually do- have the kids open it up, then find scissors and screwdrivers to take it out of the box, then find batteries and try to read instructions all while very excited children are jumping and grabbing and begging to please go faster.  The stickers always get lost and/or put on by small fingers.

After working with this one, I am going to open every box before Christmas, pre-load with batteries, and make sure I know how to work it.

This Battle Machines Combat Crash was sure a fun one to start with.  It comes with 2 cars, a simple track, and two remote "guns"....  and really, to my 6 year old little weapon-obsessed boys, the only possible way to make remote control even better would be to make it in the shape of a gun!  Ha!
You point the gun at the car, squeeze the trigger, and steer with the little wheel.  It even has a "turbo speed" option under a finger guard- reminded me of the NOS option on Fast and Furious!  I won't tell you how long I played with it myself without them anywhere around.  Nope, won't even go there.
My only annoyance:  2 different kind of batteries.  The cars took AAA and the remotes took AA.  I did have to make a store run before I could try them out.  If only they could have found a place for a 9v, it would have made it perfect! 
The best feature?  When the cars crash (which they are supposed to do), they pop apart!  Little doors and hoods go flying!  I can just hear the squeals of delight when they figure that part out!  And even better?  They snap back on so easily that they will be able to do it themselves, and I won't have to stop every 2 seconds and put it back together!
The track took a little "oomph" to get it to go together, but I was actually happy about that, because it didn't come apart when those little cars went whipping around crashing into everything!  My only question is how long they will stick to the track before they take them into the streets (aka my entire downstairs)!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet?  Any new items to share?  I would love to hear your plans!

I was given a Battle Machines Combat Crash to review.  All opinions are my own.