Friday, October 31, 2008


The girls show off their Halloween duds and can't-wait-for-the-candy grins.

Trace couldn't be bothered for photos, as he was too busy trotting through the yard. He managed to maintain this level of energy throughout the night, right up until bedtime.

It took about three stops and Alysse clearly understood the game - open bag, say trick or treat, receive treat. It almost seemed too good to be true to her.

Alivia would have walked our entire subdivision, making sure to leave no house unvisited. She loved trick or treating.

The evening lived up to Alena's expectations. Tons of "what a pretty princess" compliments, a bag full of sweets and the chance to pass out our own goodies and take in the costumes of others.

The township's fire department brought one of their engines through our neighborhood, making frequent stops to hand out candy to trick or treaters. The real treat for the kids was an up-close look at the truck.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ten more to love

Here's another 10 I'm loving right now. Some are new to our lives, others mundane, but loved just the same.

10. Cranium's Bloom Neighborhood Sounds bingo. A birthday gift for Alivia, we've already played lots of this game. The girls love it. Listen for the neighborhood sound, cover the corresponding picture if you have it on your bingo card. It's simple, straightforward and relatively quick per game, allowing them to stay engaged.

9. Hope. It's surrounded Barack's Obama presidential campaign from the beginning, and has been a consistent message. He's encouraged voting over boo-ing. He's replaced mudslinging with rising above. Confident there's a way to fix this mess we find ourselves in. Hope. Who can't love that?

8. Our gift subscriptions to Highlights High Five, Ladybug and Cricket magazines. Always a pick-me-up for little ones when their magazines show up in the mailbox, and it provides fresh reading material for us that typically focuses on a specific topic. Activities at the end of each also offers lasting entertainment in the way of games, recipes or craft projects.

7. Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight. I love, love, love this book. The girls love listening to it. I can't say I've come across a better read for little girls in terms of inspiring and instilling in them a sense of reaching for the stars. Regardless of your opinions about the book's namesake, the story itself is empowering for little girl dreamers.

6. Small hands working puzzles. Trace has become quite a little puzzle player. He likes working them and has gotten skilled at distinguishing where the pieces go and how to adeptly fit them in their spaces. It's fun watching the gears in his head turn as he completes them.

5. Diapering one butt. It's been 20 months since we've had only one butt to secure a Pampers cruiser to. And for four of those months there were three diapered butts in our house. Please be forewarned, though, our lessening reliance on P&G's Pampers products might serve to further weaken the economy.

4. First attempts at writing. Alivia's interest in forming letters and drawing shapes has really started to develop. She proudly showed off a "y" she penned this week. Tracing letters and attempting to make her own is a source of pride for her.

3. The beginning of sentences. "Thank you." "Get down." "Help me." Alysse is starting to form short sentences with her words. Each day she comes up with a new combination and a better way to communicate her wants, needs and wishes. A chatterbox she's soon to become.

2. Hands willing to dig through pumpkin guts. While our children style their hair with yogurt, pulverize American cheese and eat syrup with their hands, in Halloweens past, we've had no takers in the pumpkin-gut removal category. They always take one look in the cavern and have no interest in sticking their hands inside. This year, however, Alena rolled up her sleeves and dug right in.

1. Halloween costumes that are sure to earn treats. Each of the kids love their respective Halloween costume. There's no crying when putting them on, quite the contrary, there's usually crying when it's time for them to come off. Photo entertainment of such to come soon!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Seeing three in a new way

Sometimes you see people in situations or places in their lives and your view of them changes. Sometimes for the better. Sometimes for the worse. For whatever reason, that specific snapshot of time takes on a greater significance than all the other ordinary hours and days you might share.

Alivia's turning three was one of those view-changing moments for me. If it was possible, I saw her more beautiful than ever before, more "grown up" in every sense of the words and fell more deeply in love with her.

I saw her genuinely appreciative of the gifts mounded upon her; the perfect balance of timid and social as the center of attention; and compassionate years and years beyond the three she has under her belt.

Her intelligence is above average, her interests are diverse, her passion is contagious. She's the common link between the didgeridoo, turtle puppet and Little Hoot book ... all gifts she loves. A connoisseur of things beyond faddy character toys and plastic gadgets. Actually, a bit sophisticated for her age.

Yet, she's still three and was a bit unsure of actually cutting into the turtle birthday cake. Can't we keep it?, she wondered.

My glimpse of her in the birthday light was a new perspective on how big she's gotten, how special she is and what a gift we were given three years ago.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to topic ... potty training success

In a return to appropriate subject matter at this venue (and calm my one in-house reader who knows more than two dozen sight words), our official announcement of Alysse's potty-trained status.

Well, potty trained in the category of number ones. She still holds out on the number twos until she's safely in a diaper for nap time, and proceeds upon awaking. This is new territory for the potty trainers, as in our previous experiences the two numbers went hand-in-hand.

We're still working on a method by which to get her to spend enough time sitting still on the potty to complete all jobs. However, with the exception of two diapers daily (one during naps and one overnight) she's footloose and diaper free. Yeah Alysse!

P.S. Today I'm grateful for:

  • a little boy who is too cute for words in a baseball cap.
  • Alivia's wonderful behavior today (as of late she's been struggling to keep her birthday/school excitement contained).
  • a trip to, through and home from Jungle Jim's without a potty accident by Alysse.
  • Alena's love of any artsy project (glue, marshmallows and popsicle sticks make her happy).
  • a husband who has researched the pros and cons of Ohio's Issue 6.
  • a mother who reads this blog ... the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Palin illusion

Preface: With a great deal of restraint, I have managed to keep my political rantings of this election cycle off my blog. I will now proceed with caving to my desires. As a result, I issue the following disclaimer ... I am a self-described left-wing liberal; I have always been and will always be a registered Democrat; I am an American; I am a feminist; and I am a mother. That said, should you not wish to continue reading, please click your mouse NOW.

I hold a bachelor's degree from Indiana University's School of Journalism. Presented the opportunity to interview Sarah Palin I would pose two questions.

  1. When was the last time you cooked dinner for your children?
  2. What is an average grocery bill for the Palin household?

As straightforward as my questions might be, I'd be willing to bet my stash of saved Mother's Day cards she couldn't answer either (well, accurately). This is where my problem with the GOP's vice presidential candidate lies.

Palin's dubbing herself a soccer/hockey mom and her references to the Joe Sixpacks of America don't fly with me.

Most American moms I know work blue/white collar jobs to help their families make ends meet, then come home facing the "what's for dinner?" dilemma. They worry about how much it's going to cost to fill the tanks of their minivans. They lose sleep over how they're going to send their kids to college. They clip coupons to shave dollars off their ever-rising grocery bills.

They don't jet around the country on private planes. They don't go on $150,000 shopping sprees (that would be a great college fund for any Sixpack family I know). They don't make appearances on Saturday Night Live. They don't use their families to get ahead on the American political circuit at the expense of their children.

An all-American, average mom you are not Ms. Palin. As such, please don't project a completely fictitious persona upon yourself and expect me to bite. I won't. In fact, it insults my intelligence.

And at the risk of sounding completely anti-feminist I'll go one step further. Will someone please garner the balls to tell her to get home and take care of her family? Her special-needs baby? (who has conveniently been used for some extra mileage in "shoring up" the vote of special needs parents).

I fault no mother for working. Unfortunately most homes in this great country require a double income to survive. I get that ... I'm a TYPICAL American mom. However, working a typical American job and running for vice president of the United States are not one in the same.

It seems to me the very women crying out for John Edwards' to leave the race when his wife's cancer recurrence was discovered are the same ones embracing Palin. Hello. Elizabeth Edwards is capable for caring for herself, cancer or not. Palin's infant is not. While emerging from the party who has always touted family values, Palin drags an infant along as she crisscrosses the country in a quest for a spot in the White House. Let's now assess our definition of family values, shall we?

You betcha my vote won't go the McCain/Palin way on November 4 for a multitude of ideological reasons (healthcare reform, taxes, the war in Iraq, the economy ... just to hit the highpoints); however, Sarah Palin's presence on the ticket has forced me to evaluate my stance on feminist vs. family, children vs. country and truth vs. illusion.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Alysse: Mission critical

Can you guess Alysse's latest mission that might be causing this laundry discrepancy? Updated reports to come soon ... hopefully she's on the last leg of the operation.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sneaky, sneaky

A little boy hoping to one day become a cat burglar might practice for his future career by climbing through the window of the family's play kitchen. Again and again and again.

Pay no mind to how many times the whole kitchen might come tumbling down. Do not be discouraged by the increasingly stern warnings of your parents. Carry on cat-burglar-in-training, carry on.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A classic pumpkin tale

The little fleece pumpkin costume stayed on hold at the store for a day. Knowing it was right, but reluctant to its commonness, I wanted a day to think about it.

Why when everyone else seemed perfectly suited in frog costumes or princess dresses was the pumpkin her? Let's be honest a pumpkin costume for Halloween is rather generic and unimaginative, yes?

But even after getting only steps from the store's door, I knew we'd be back the next day for it. I just had to resolve why the typical, Halloween epitomizing get-up was what suited her best.

After wondering if she is destined to always get the shaft because she's the baby or if being at the end of the line somehow makes her less deserving a thoughtful, original costume, it hit me.

She's a classic. In every sense of the word, Alysse is as classic as a pumpkin costume for Halloween.

Genuine, funny and everything in between, she's a tomboy one minute and a princess the next. She's beautiful, yet ordinarily all-American.

She's classic play while working her toddler puzzles. She's a classic mess with a brownie. She's classic fun running, climbing and sliding in the backyard.

And like most classics, there aren't many like her left, at least in this house. Content with the simple, wonderful with no effort and beautiful with no knowledge of being.

She's my pumpkin ... not ordinary, just classic.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cardboard art

The toy department at Target doesn't have anything on our cardboard box delivered by the UPS man this afternoon and trusty cup of crayons.

Once the kids had tired of using the box as a boat, we collapsed it and made a long canvas on the living room floor. There were drawings of family members, radios and jeeps.

Thoughtful shapes and lines.

Priceless first scribbles.

Wonderful itty bitty doodles.

And a portrait of dad Alena created. She was thrilled to show him her masterpiece when he came home from work.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall weekend in review


Alena's preschool class held a "Family Fun Day" Friday at Trenton's Barn-n-Bunk. The kids loved it. They made a scarecrow, enjoyed a hayride, ventured through a corn maze, picked out small pumpkins and enjoyed snacks of apples and cider.

Welcome to the farm tour

Saturday evening we hit three of the six stops on Butler County's Farm-City Tour. This was a great chance for the kids to see some of the workings of a farm they wouldn't typically experience ... a milking parlor, an alpaca farm and a Christmas tree nursery.

Minister Ohio's Oktoberfest Parade

Alivia has attended Minister Ohio's Oktoberfest celebration every year of her life ... all three of them. The small village's autumn festival is always a favorite for the kids. Afterall, what kid doesn't love a parade where candy is thrown at them? In his second year of attendance, Trace was enamored with the parade, and Alysse would have joined in the line-up if given the chance.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Can you hear me now?

This is meant with the most seriousness of seriousness. Kidding aside, exaggerations omitted.

Alivia has not shut up in approximately three and a half weeks.

Granted, there are the 11 or 12 hours her mouth is silenced by sleep each night, but during the day it does not stop. It cannot be quieted. It cannot be redirected. It cannot be subdued.

The ability for one little body to hold so much verbiage is simply extraordinary. We've reached the epic proportions that I'm willing to offer her up as a possible solution to the energy crisis. Harness the words for good, I say, her mouth's energy is astounding.

This precarious age she finds herself at is full of learning, discovery and excitement. I get it, I really do. I'm all for discussion of the positive kind ... experimenting, educating and socializing. However, even when she has nothing of substance to say, she fore goes silence for noise. Jabbering, mumbling, any type of noise her vocal chords can produce.

Three and a half weeks ago I tried to be patient, tried to listen to each question, comment and word. Today, not so much. After experiencing ringing (again, no exaggeration here) in my ears earlier this week after a day full of talking, I've begun tuning it out.

What a horrific mother, yes? Tuning out her own child.

But, in my defense I'm on the brink. I've never craved silence; a person's ability to not speak to me; or a deserted island far, far away from any other being before in my life. Just give me quiet.

I love that little pixie voice, honestly I do. I just need a little less of it. I use naptime to re-energize my ears. Having survived about six and a half hours of chatter already, they need something to get them through another five or six more. The only problem is she's taken to getting herself to sleep by ... talking. So, even when tucked away in bed for a hour or two of rest, I get to hear the epilogue over the monitor.

An end to this must be within hearing distance, I keep trying to convince myself. Although this week I've become much less optimistic. Surely, surely the days of endless poop questions, tattling and various redundant comments are numbered. At least my ears are hoping so.

P.S. Today I'm thankful for:

  • a sister who looks out for me and lets me in on where I can score great Halloween costumes.
  • Alivia's ability to speak ... despite my ringing ears, I know there are mothers out there who would only wish to hear such noise from their almost-three-year-olds.
  • Trace's morning hug.
  • Alysse actually making it to the potty three times this morning (a record for us).
  • Alena's truly girlie girl nature.
  • a husband who patiently listens to my midday rants even when he's not feeling well.