Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fabulous Friday fingerpainting

Friday was a great day for fingerpainting ... outdoors ... on ourselves. Legs, bellies, even behinds make wonderful canvases.

The girls loved the messy art. Trace wasn't such a fan (he didn't want to smear paint all over himself, but has no reservations about mud).

As clean-up time approached, Alena and Alivia had themselves nearly covered. They especially liked squishing the paint in their belly buttons. Now that's art.

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • Alena's wonderful vocabulary (she uses "apparently" in a sentence without blinking an eye).
  • Alivia's nonsense which makes even her laugh.
  • Trace's need for hugs.
  • Alysse's wonderfully smooth, soft skin.
  • a husband who dresses up little girls in their costume clothes.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Little foodie duck watchers

Finding myself wanting to take the kids to the zoo for the new Giraffe Ridge exhibit, but not mustering the gumption for such an adventure in 90 degree weather, and facing a mid-week fruit shortage, we compromised and made a jaunt to Jungle Jim's.

After grocery shopping last weekend, I noticed three ducklings swimming near the store's exit and knew Alivia would LOVE them. I was right. She. Loved. Them. Actually, she loved them so much, she wanted to buy one. Which led to my needing to explain that ducklings weren't for sale at the grocery store.

While there, the girls also made a pit stop at the store's awarding winning Port-O-Let restrooms and posed for a picture on the faux red velvet throne. They think it's a trip!

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • time spent snuggling with Alena telling her how we used to bathe her in a little baby bathtub.
  • how Alivia becomes engrossed in her favorite books.
  • knowing the love of a son.
  • Alysse's hugs.

Four little monkeys jumping on the couch

For anyone who has ever visited our home, sat down on the couch and sunk a little further than expected. Or anyone who's ever beaten Jason to his recliner and gotten a spring in the butt while taking a seat. Don't expect things to change anytime soon.

I'd love new living room furniture, since the existing has definitely served its purpose. However, in addition to the daily chapstick "lipstick" spots, crayon markings or apple juice spills, the furniture is also subject to the occasional jump, complete disassembly or recline by more than one lounger.

Before replacing the old, I'm holding out for the majority of our family to understand you sit on your behind while on the couch or that the arm that reclines the chair isn't for balancing acts. Maybe in another ten years or so?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Country concert, backyard style

So, a week out from the beginning of our patio install, and I've convinced the girls the little hill in the backyard makes a wonderful stage. Planting this seed will hopefully lead to some magnificently amusing performances that I'll be able to sit on the patio and soak up. My own little country concert.

Once the idea was introduced, I believe they agreed it is a terrific outdoor venue for budding performers, and as a result, take swim breaks when a "good" song comes on the radio to run up the hill and sing (the little ones tag along to do their own singing and dancing too). I think the neighbors would agree we don't need to invest in an outdoor amplification system.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Kings Island, part two

After a Thursday trip to Kings Island, Alena and Alivia now have a new favorite ride - the log flume, or The Wild Thornberrys™ River Adventure to be exact. While they revisited their former favorite, the Scrambler, a couple times for nostalgia's sake, it is the log flume they are now enamored with.

While the Scrambler offered spinning and sailing through the air, it doesn't have the one thing the log flume does ... water. Water which splashes in the "boats," and any part of the girls that doesn't get soaked from the in flood, gets taken care of by the water-spraying elephant positioned near the end of the ride.

Dad, Alena and Alivia stood in line to ride the attraction four times during our recent visit, but actually only rode three times due to an in-line potty-break interruption during wait number three. Had we allowed them to get off the ride and proceed immediately back to the ride's line, I'm convinced they would have done this all day.

Ride oneRide two
Ride three
And when you're not yet big enough to ride the Scrambler or the log flume, you can cheer on the riders you do know and run in complete opposite directions when you're removed from your wagon ride.

We also saw Scooby Doo during our visit which thrilled Alena, but Alivia had a bit of trepidation about getting too close. She eventually got within touching distance when Dad stepped in with some support.

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • the means to take our children on fun adventures like our Kings Island trip that they'll remember into adulthood.
  • Alena's pitching in to help out in little ways when she's not asked to do so.
  • Alivia's constant chattering, while sometimes nerve wracking, I'm thankful she's a happy, chatty kid who obviously has lots to say.
  • Trace's sparing the geraniums and hibiscus in the backyard while threatening to trample them all with his toy mower.
  • Alysse's keen sense of observation ... this one doesn't miss a beat.

Baby boy where are you?

Upon coming home last Sunday, Father's Day, from running a quick naptime errand, I was greeted by this scene. My eyes immediately filled with tears and I stood wondering where my little baby boy has gone. Baby feet are now little boy feet at the end of long, albeit still chubby, little boy legs.

I later remembered this picture taken on Father's Day last year. The photo comparison made me feel a bit better about the tear-filled eyes ... documented proof he has gotten so big in so little time, not just my imagination.

The baby in him is slipping away, no matter how hard I try to hold onto it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A morning dance off

We're finally getting our groove back, I think. With Alysse's never-ending ear infections; Alena's period of, ummmm, rebellion; and the girls' bickering, there was a stretch of time when I wasn't sure we were going to make it.

The warm weather has breathed new life into our time together, and for that I'm grateful. So share in the getting our groove back with some pictures from this morning's after-breakfast dance off. The tunes ranged from Bobby Day's "Rockin Robin" (Alivia's newest obsession) to Blake Shelton's "The More I Drink."

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • four children who all possess abundant rhythm.
  • toothpicks that make grapes, peas, cheese and pretty much anything fun lunch food.
  • the chance to watch Alena and Alivia attempt to hopscotch.
  • a son who can sport a blue satin skirt with reckless abandon and still be all boy.
  • the baby curls at the neckline of Alysse's hair, which happens to get lighter with every passing day.

See ya later sucker!

After 151/2 months, five two-packs and three nights of crying, we are rid of these ...
They. Are. Out. Of. Our. Lives.

Thank God.

Can I get a hallelujah?

I rue the day we put these little suckers in the mouths of Trace and Alysse. While I'll concede all babies have a sucking reflex after birth that needs satisfying, Alena and Alivia survived the first couple of months without pacifiers.

Yes, there were periods when Alena and Alivia were in that "really new" newborn stage and a pacifier would have soothed or quieted them quicker than anything else. HOWEVER, good sense made us resist plugging their little pouts with a pacifier.

Having been born four weeks early, however, it was as though Trace and Alysse had an even greater need to suck than a full-term baby, so pacifiers seemed the most logical, peaceful solution. An added bonus was that having two hungry mouths to feed sometimes at the same time, a pacifier would buy a few minutes of patience from one baby while I finished feeding another.

As the dynamic duo reached four months, I already hated seeing the pacifiers in their mouths. Their strong need to suck had passed and the pacifiers had become an easy way to soothe them when other measures would work just as well, so we restricted pacifier use to their cribs. Baby in bed, pacifier in mouth. Baby picked up from crib, pacifier placed on crib railing. This became our new approach to the silicone demons.

And so it went for well over a year. Used only to soothe them to sleep, I knew they needed to go, but kept waiting for a way to make an easy break. Lesson learned ... easy break and pacifiers shouldn't be used in the same sentence.

At their one-year check up, I questioned the pediatrician about ridding ourselves of what was now nothing but a bad habit in getting to sleep. "Will we ever reach a point when we can explain the pacifiers are going away and they understand and be okay with it?" I had asked her.


Okay, logical answer, just not the one I was looking for. Maybe the Easter Bunny could take them in exchange for baskets? Perhaps we could charitably give them away to other babies? Something?

"They will never give them up willingly," she explained.

I knew this was the case, but wanted some super-secret, no-cry method by which to make these monsters disappear from our sleep routine. Not happening. Crying ahead.

After dragging my feet and exhausting all the excuses I could dream up, we finally made the break. There was some crying, but more yelling and whining. Alysse was far more attached to hers than Trace was to his; however, hearing her cry down the hall sent him into tears as well.

Three nights of delayed sleep and days of pre-napping fits and we're done. All pacifiers hit the trash after night one. Having listened to Alysse squawk for 20 minutes, there was going to be no turning back.

So, let me hear that "hallelujah," those little suckers are gone.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Four reasons why ...

we get orange sherbet push-ups in the 24-count box from the Schwan's man.

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • four beautiful, smiling faces that some days I know I don't deserve.
  • the feel of Alysse's hand in mine.
  • everything about my hunka, hunka baby boy.
  • a great day with Alena (cooperation, sharing, listening).
  • Alivia's eccentric side.
  • a husband who thinks I could sell my brownies for $65 a piece (he exaggerates, but I still appreciate the compliment).

And our Taylor stalking continues

Alena's stalking admiration of Taylor Swift got a boost after seeing the star's performance on the recent Country Music Awards compliments of Tivo.

During the program, Taylor's performance of a song, until then, unheard by us, featured guitar throwing, clothes being ripped off and a finale which included a downpour. You know, the kind of craziness that makes a stalker's head spin.

Since taking in the spectacle, Alena's video of choice for dancing and singing before bath time has been this "Should Have Said No" clip. As a result, Jason sings the song at work, I could recite the lyrics in my sleep and Alena and Alivia have perfected the performance's choreography. Let's face it, we're all scary.

I have to hand it to Alena for her impassioned rendition of the performance and eye for detail in mimicking hand gestures and other movements (please note: the attempt to strangle Trace and Alivia are her attempts to copy Taylor's putting her arm around a band member's shoulders).

So take two minutes of your day and get a load of a star in the making. Let's just hope this Christmas' wish list doesn't involve a sprinkler system in the kitchen.*

* To check out Taylor's performance, actually hear the lyrics or make sense of the sprinkler reference, please visit

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Carrying on with summer fun

My dear blog, I haven't forgotten you ... only neglected you. But, you must understand summer is here. Summer with no one to carry, pack or lug around. The very first summer in four years that I'm not carrying around someone else in one fashion or another.

Quite liberating to say the least.

Four years ago the wonderful summer months were also the last trimester of Alena's pregnancy. I was hot, tired and huge. I prayed for cool, and wished away the summer days. By early September, I wanted nothing to do with hot temperatures and was wishing Alena a speedy exit.

The following summer brought toting around a not-yet-walking infant while keeping the bun in the oven cool and comfortable. With some experience under my not-so-visible belt, Alena and I survived her first summer splashing a bit in the wading pool and swinging. It was to our advantage that she didn't take her first steps until the end of August which meant no chasing a toddler around in July.

Summer of 2006 saw a curious, walking Alena, but an eight-month-old Alivia who needed carrying from point A to point B when outdoors. And near the beginning of July came the news we were expecting again (it was probably a blessing in disguise that the "two" shock came a bit later), so this time I was chasing one, carrying another in my arms and a couple more in utero.

And definitely the icing on the carrying cake is having two little ones who need holding. Two four-month olds make for few trips to the zoo, swimming pool or other fun toddler spots. Simply getting four so little out into the backyard was a process, so last summer Alena and Alivia's fun was limited by the curse of being the oldest pair in a line of four.

Ahh, but only a week or so into warm weather and we've been having a blast. Co-hosting a yard sale, taking part in a community parade, a wading pool that needs refills throughout the day and a visit to the zoo already. There's a certain independence that comes with arms free to play in the sand, garden a bit and sip sangria while swings are squeaking and fights are brewing over water toys.

Yes, this is the life. Eighty degree weather, a yard better landscaped than it's been in years and four sets of walking legs. Now, the only thing left to carry are laundry baskets full of ice-cream stained shirts and mulch-filled swim trunks (Trace, that would be you, brother). Summer, I've missed you.

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • A squiggly toddler to hug and snuggle in each arm.
  • Alena's artistic sense.
  • Having been blessed with a child as compassionate as Alivia (after all, she hugs her hideous plastic owl before coming indoors for the night).
  • Jason's patience with my window box project (love the finished product).