Monday, March 23, 2009

Words, words, words

So I decided today that words are pretty important in our family (at least to 70% of the family ... see if you can do the math - I counted JM for it being half important since he is still working on his words).

This morning as I told John Michael "gentle" (he was trying to tear apart the plastic drawers holding paper), he looked up and tried to repeat "gen le." Very charming!

Clara's contribution came at lunch when she was explaining how you eat a carrot. Thanks to the PBS show Sid the Science Kid, she likes to show you which teeth you use to eat it. Not your front teeth, but your back "massagers."

Gracie's word is one that she's been using for several months. Recently, she asked me why the Holy Cross "pogo" couldn't be on their pants or skirts instead of their shirts.

And finally, the bonus word courtesy of Clara. She got to choose a sticker at the dr's office today (just a check up for JM since his cold has gone on so long - he's fine) and decided to choose the one with the metal/robot looking guy. It was labeled "Iron Man."

I asked her, "Do you even know who Iron Man is?" (I highly doubt it, since I don't even have a clue)

"Yes! I know who Ironing Man is!"

And so he was the rest of the day - "Ironing Man."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A new fun thing

Of course, once I got the camera out John Michael started to get nervous about his performance. He warmed up for Take 2, though.

Take 1:

Take 2:

I can't wait until he's a little taller. I'm thinking that he won't be so much the helper as Gracie was (she would always empty the dryer into the laundry basket), but that I will have to pay attention to make sure that hisknee doesn't end up on the door. I don't think I want a permanent-pressed boy!

Costco treats

So we found a new treat that we like at Costco. They're called "Veggie Straws." I'm sure they are not the healthiest things in the world (the second ingredient is the oil!), but they're better than potato chips and they do have tomato and spinach in them.

That's what we were doing today. But this is what Mikey was up to:

Thanks to his efforts, maybe we'll be able to enjoy veggies in their more natural form later this summer! (Don't feel too bad for him - we gave him some of the veggie straws once he was done!)

Friday's Activity - The Race

Yes, the party planner was busy again this week. I don't remember the rest of the week's activities, but this Friday was race day. Of course, it was time for dinner, John Michael was tired & hungry and Mike had just gotten home from work. We managed to get through it, but you might notice some disgruntled faces along the way...

At the start line - check out Clara. I think I was being told to "line up!" Notice the numbers taped to the backs - Gracie had made them earlier in the day, complete with names and a different number for all of us (only Elvis was spared, poor Mike had to wear two - one for him & one for JM).

The dance of joy (for some) at the finish line

The Organizer and (suspciously) The Winner!

The post-race picture taken by the "race photographer" (guess who assigned her that role?).
For our prizes, we were all given books (made from construction paper) with our names on them later that evening (made again by Gracie).

Just let us know if you would like to participate in any of the fun activities that happen daily at the house. I'm sure our Organizer would be happy to include you! I'll let you know what's coming up if I can get the Organizer to give me more than about a 30 minute notice!

Another few new tricks

Okay, I know I just did a post on John Michael's new tricks. But I forgot a few (oops) and now there are a few more.

One I didn't mention at the time is that he had started sleeping through the night. But I'm out of luck on that one - he has a cold right now, so after three nights of not waking up until 5 or 6 am, he's back to waking up once in the middle of the night. I'm sure it's just the cold, right?? The nightshirt Mom gave me is coming in handy - it says "Mommy Needs Sleep." I'm assuming it will start working better once the kids can read!

This trick started a few weeks ago -

Now both girls like to get him to push them along. He seems to prefer pushing while on his knees. If he tries to stand the Jeep can get going too fast and get away from him! (so yes, he's still practicing for walking!)

This is the "I'm so excited Mommy let me pull this out of the paper drawer & didn't immediately take it away!" look:

This next one is such a boy thing. John Michael takes the loop-the-loop track off of one of the Fisher Price toys & then ta-da:

wears it around the house on his neck. He really likes it! (and it wasn't just a one time thing!)

Okay, this next one isn't so much his trick, as his patience with his sister's idea of a fun new thing for him. I don't think it needs any more description, but be sure and check out the look on his face! Oh, and only one sister has ever bothered to try this out.

Last one - this weekend has been a fun time for playing with this toy:

He likes to crawl in it, sit in it, roll it, and sometimes have his sisters in it with him (as long as things don't get too rough - I tried to institute the you can't touch anyone else (aka, "hands to self") in the tunnel rule, but it wasn't a big success).

Did you get pinched?

We didn't! (This is my untimely St. Paddy's Day post.)

We were a super green family that day - it was our crazy Tuesday - two music class day. So here's what the kids were up to during the break between classes:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Last bit of catching up

These are some photos from the last month or so that I wanted to share and never got a chance to write about, so enjoy!

Something only a Daddy would do - the kind of thing that makes a Mommy crazy but of course the kids love!

Just hanging out at the swing set - everyone with their own unique style!

Watch out Bjorn Borg - you ain't got nothin' on me!

Oh so serious - there was a wedding & both girls were getting married (to each other, to some imaginary person ??? who knows - I definitely don't ask!)

And last but not least, a discovery when I downloaded the pictures from Gracie's camera. I just love this one!

Mimi & Pap come to visit

Pretend you are reading this exactly two weeks ago - then we can all pretend that I update my blog daily! Ha!

So my parents were able to come over and visit us, which was a nice change. We've been over to Dallas (which the kids love!) alot, but it has been harder for Mom & Dad to make it over here since it depends on how Dad is feeling. Anyhow, it all worked out and they arrived just as John Michael was starting to wake up from his morning nap.

Clara got Mimi to sit down and read her a Babybug, and you know, Mimi is pretty funny when she reads!

We had a little playtime and then some yummy lunch things from Central Market (oops - now I'm remembering that they came on Friday, not Thursday). Everyone chowed down. Mimi took on the task of feeding John Michael - I'm always more than willing to share that duty! Although with Mimi in charge, it won't be long before he won't need to be fed at meals, he'll be an independent eater.

You know how much Mimi likes that Elvis is right there watching her.

After lunch, it was time for a little more playing (and a nap for Pap). While Pap napped, the girls nabbed Mimi for some craft time.

It was nice for them to have some undivided attention for awhile - if I am trying to help with a craft, usually John Michael is trying to "help" as well. Clara particularly enjoyed it and got goofy with Mimi and hand tracing. As is typical for Gracie, she did her own thing, making hand tracings and turning them into a butterfly (it was very colorful and pretty). We have seen lots of variations on this craft over the last couple of months - I think hand tracing must be fascinating for the girls!

After his nap, Pap was ready to play and really got to spend some time with the kids playing. It was good to see them with Pap - it's been a long time since we have been together when he has felt well enough to really play with them.

Pap and the little guy get to have a romp!

After seeing John Michael with Pap and listening to Gracie play with him, Clara finally tore herself away from the craft table and Mimi and went over for a ticklefest!

Then she joined in with Gracie and they played "toll bridge" with Pap. This is a favorite game, especially out on the slide. I don't think they've gotten a grown-up to play with them before like this - they've tried themselves (using their whole bodies to make the bridge), but of course it's not as much fun and the "bridge" usually collapses after a few minutes!

The girls had a blast - I don' t know how many times they went around, but it was long enough to get John Michael interested and he managed to sneak in a round or two as well!

We're hoping Mimi & Pap get to come over and visit more this spring & summer. Once Mike is done with his big backyard project, they'll be even more fun things to do at the house! Although I imagine it won't be long before the girls realize it is warm enough for swimming and then they will be clamoring to head over to Dallas and go for a dip in the pool.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Morning time with my two little bears

While Gracie is at school, we get to have some fun times in the morning. It is a little quieter with only two at the house and I think Clara enjoys being the only big sister.

And, when John Michael takes a nap, Clara gets some "Mommy time."

Today, the Barbies were sick (I think that is why Clara is making that face). After much negotiation, I was allowed to dress "my" Barbie. But I didn't get to pick her outfit out - just her boots. And yes, that is a plastic barette around her throat - but don't tell Clara. Those are "sick collars" and all the Barbies were having to wear them that day.

Do you love the rockin' '70s and '80s clothe? My daughters made off with the trunk of "Barbie" clothes from Mimi & Pap's house. Here's a picture of it all. Sue - you might remember some of the little gems you had sewn for us. I don't think you got to look at the Barbie wardrobe while you were here - you will have to check it out on a future visit. That's the girl's Barbie house in the background. They had initially asked for the "real" Barbie house but really had fun making this one and have used it for everything! It's very versatile!

New Tricks

Wow - this may be hard to remember everything I need to list - at least as far as John Michael is concerned.

He's eating lots of table food now (although I think he's getting pickier as the days go on rather than more adventurous) and loves to be able to pick things up himself. When Mimi fed him about a week ago, she got him to use the spoon, too (I'll post about that soon!) I haven't been able to replicate that - I may have to have a tutorial from my Mom on how she managed that!

He's also into utilizing anything that moves as a walker - chairs, stools, the rolling cart that the girls store their shoes in, and today we brought in one of the "cars" we have had in the garage so he could use that as well.

He loves to stand up with one hand on something and about a week ago stood up on his own, no hands on anything. He practices that lots and lots now, but no steps on his own. And if you hold his hands to help him walk he might only take a few steps or none at all. I think he is a "do it myself" kind of kid (I think he has been taking lessons from Clara on that).

Oh - first word! "Ball" said the day Mimi & Pap visited (3/5). He has a mini beach ball that he loves and was playing with it and started saying the word. And kept saying it over the next few days. He sounds like he is working on a few more words as well. He's got "da" for Daddy down. Today he tried "pop" ('cause Daddy always says "pop" when he pulls the tabs for his diapers) and he's working on "dog" (and the panting noise as the sign for dog). He can also do the all done sign at meals and say "dun" and he tries to wave and say "bye."

He has been a busy boy! I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but that's about all I can think of right now.

On 3/3, we had a big first for Clara. Here are some pictures and see if you can guess:


This was especially exciting because I worked at JBF from noon to 4pm, ran home to nurse the baby and then headed back to shop at 6pm. So as soon as I walked in the door, I was herded out the back door to admire this new accomplishment for Clara!

Gracie's doesn't have anything in particular to report for new tricks. But she has been very good about trying all sorts of new foods lately. We joined a produce co-op and so we have gotten a chance to eat some new vegetables. She's now a fan of Swiss Chard (cooked sauteed) and kale (I cook it in the oven with a little olive oil & salt and make kale "chips" - Clara actually eats it, too!). At Central Market a few weeks ago, she picked some Greek mushroom pockets to try (and liked) and she tried the california rolls I bought (medium warm on those). Oh, and she's up to 44" tall (she and Clara both grew 1" from 1/15 to 2/22. Clara is up to 41").

And even though Clara is sure that Mike will soon be too tall to fit in the car, neither he nor I have grown any taller. But we both have gotten a little leaner!

What Mike has been doing

Well, while I've been out shopping (see previous post), Mike's been working on things here at the house. One of his projects is a coat rack for the hallway. I think it turned out great!

Here are some pictures in progress (Clara was his helper - she's quite into that role lately and really wants to help with everything and actually does a really good job with most things!). She could barely wait to help Daddy sand that day and had been talking about it all day. He had barely gotten in the door that evening when she told him she was ready to sand the coat rack.

I think for about $30 this is a really great coat rack. We've got it in the hallway to the new room. And it's up just in time for this latest cold spell when we've needed all those coats!

Where I've been

So I've been negligent in my blogging for the past few weeks, so I thought I would show you what I have been doing instead. Okay - other than the usual. I know you don't want to see pictures of piles of dirty dishes (oh- wait, Mike does those), piles of laundry dirty & clean, children at the table waiting for meals, me driving the kids around in the van, me sweeping the floor, kids eating meals, kids eating snacks, hmmm, I'm sure there' s more... But on to what was taking up so much of my time these last few weeks - JBF!

Just Between Friends is a big consignment sale that happens twice yearly. There are sales throughout the US, but the one in Fort Worth is one of the biggest (yeah for me!). This is where I buy the majority of the kids clothes. And where I have started to sell some of the clothes they have outgrown and some of the baby equipment/toys. It's a great thing - I save money & also lots of time. I can't imagine having to go to the mall and do all the shopping for them! And it's great fun, too. The ladies that own & run the franchise here are great (Pam & Joannie). If you want to get into the sale on the first night, you work volunteer hours during the sale (a minimum of one 4-hour shift). I worked 12 hours during this last sale & did one job at home, so I was pretty busy. You price and tag your own clothes (they have an online system where you enter your tags and then print out barcoded tags) so that also takes up lots of time! Mike was great this time - he had all 3 kids by himself most of one weekend and then maybe 3 or 4 weeknights, too, but he never complained. Here are some pictures of the girls helping me get ready for the sale (funny thing - I noticed after taking the pictures that they are both wearing outfits I bought at previous JBF sales):

Yes - I make my children do my work for me. But as Clara shows in this video, they really enjoy themselves. She was just busy entertaining herself as she cut out the tags.

She didn't even know I was taking this video. And I have to say, she must have been cutting tags for a good half an hour. I wasn't thinking when I split up the pile & I gave Big Sis & Little Sis the same amount. But Clara kept at it & after I had pinned tags on the clothes, Gracie sorted all the clothes by size for me (by reading the tags). We had quite a system going - they helped me get all 113 items ready!

So here's why I love to shop the sale (beyond the fact that it's fun & I have good friends that I always see at the sale):

This is mostly the baby stuff & toys:

And here are the clothes:

The space they rent is the size of 2 football fields! More fun and better than a department store any day!

Their website is and that will direct you to any sale in the U.S.