Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Activities Weeks 6, 7, and 8 (Staycation!)

I am afraid we've been slacking off a bit on our summer activities list. But, we have been keeping busy nonetheless, and that's what's important. In the past three weeks, we did manage to hike the white trail at Gambrill State Park (#3), have a picnic (#9), use sidewalk chalk (#21), learn a new song (#28), and identify three birds (#40).

We're also just finishing up a week (with a weekend left to go) of "staycation!" Oh, how I love staycation!

We started off our staycation fun on Saturday with our usual weekend trip to the library, then enjoyed an impromptu dinner with extended family. Sunday Justin and I got to spend some quality time with each other with just Kai along while Alexander and Jack enjoyed time with Aunt Eileen.

Monday we went to Port Discovery in Baltimore for the first time. It was really great! The kids had a wonderful time climbing in the "urban tree house," building with blocks, doing art projects, playing with dominos, pretending to pump gas, drive a car, and shop in a pretend convenience store. Alexander was ecstatic to serve me a wide variety of dishes in the play diner. There were a ton of creative things to do there and we even met Bob the Builder!

Tuesday Justin took the kids to see "Despicable Me," and I got to spend some downtime with Kai. Wednesday we revisited the library in order to pick up some audio books for Thursday's car ride and relaxed.

Thursday we went to Dutch Wonderland which truly was a wonderland. Alexander repeatedly stated that it was the "best place ever." The kids could not have been more thrilled. There was not one ride that they were scared of nor one ride that they did not enjoy. It was our first time there as well and I am very pleased with our decision to go! The lines were short, the rides were perfect for the kids, there was plenty of shade and plenty of benches for resting and feeding Kai, who was a delight. He even rode his first amusement ride, the carousel. Unfortunately he slept through it, but it's still important that we document the milestone. ;) Alexander talked to almost every ride attendant as well as random people in the park, about anything from what he was going to be when he grew up to how great he thought Dutch Wonderland was to the fact that he had just gone to the bathroom. It was a great day.

Today we had a nice visit to the pool with Justin's parents. The kids seem a bit worn out from all the activity and excitement, so we plan to relax this weekend. There are only 4 more weeks until school starts! EEEEEEK!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

He's better than a dog!

Kai turned 3 months old yesterday. He can now sit, stay, and roll over. He's also quite an accomplished drooler.

Admittedly, he leans pretty far forward when "sitting." But he'll start crying if I lay him down, so I guess it doesn't bother him! He can stay in that position for up to a few minutes! He'll strengthen up that back soon enough!

Here, Kai says, "Alright, Animal Minions, this is what's going to happen..."

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kai Baby

Check me out, I am the cutest baby that ever lived (tied with my two brothers, of course!).

I am not sure what this thing in my hand is, but I am NOT letting go!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Name that Baby!

I know, I know... it's mostly fun for me. I think this one is really easy, but maybe it's just me. All three of my boys have worn this shirt, but I can only find pictures of two of them. Can you identify those babies?

ETA: The top baby is Kai, then Alexander. Below is the picture of Jack wearing the same shirt which I finally found.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book Recommendation: "ScreamFree Parenting"

I've read a fair number of parenting books. Sometimes, it was to prepare for a certain "issue." I read about 6 or 8 books just on potty-training, something that terrified me. Of course then my children (the two that are potty-trained) surprised me by making it way easier on me than I could have hoped for, both training at 27 months old with little issue.

Sometimes I read parenting books looking for a miracle cure. I read every single book I could find on infant (and later, toddler) sleep. And trust me, it's really not something a sleep-deprived mom should waste her time on. I probably read 8 to 10 books on the subject. No, I am not kidding. I am that dumb.

I've also picked up books because they were recommended to me, including "1-2-3 Magic," "Raising Your Spirited Child," and "Free Range Kids."

To be honest, I've yet to be really impressed. Don't get me wrong. I think that I took a lot from each book that I read. I do in fact use some of the techniques that I came across. I was comforted when I found books that finally validated for me that the co-sleeping my son had forced upon me was actually okay and even beneficial, at least according to some. I knew, before going to the ER, that I had a blood clot in my lung, because my symptoms so closely matched those described in one of my "What to Expect" books. I knew what to do about a clogged milk duct because I'd read at least 3 books on breastfeeding even though things were going well. I am glad that I've read all these books.

Even in the books that I disagreed with the most, there were usually a few things that I could get on board with. If nothing else, they helped me define who I am as a parent by exposing me to techniques or philosophies that I am not comfortable with.

But I still can't say that there has been a book that has really spoken to me yet, told me the things that I needed to hear.

All this is really just to say that I've finally found a parenting book that I'm excited enough about that I want to share my "find." It's not perfect and I don't agree with every single sentence. But it helped me. It was a random pick. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but was browsing the parenting section in the library. I like to do this occasionally just to keep on top of my game and see if I might find a gem. I had picked up a book on sibling bickering (which I haven't gotten to yet) and was about to move to another section when I saw "ScreamFree Parenting." Yeah, I thought, I've been yelling too much lately.

And I read it. And it spoke to me. And if you're a frustrated parent, even one that doesn't scream (it's NOT all about lowering your voice. Far from it), I think maybe you should read it, too. Maybe it won't click for you, but maybe it will. Like I said, I've read several books that were the "it" book for someone else but didn't do much for me. It's all about finding that match.

I feel energized, empowered, calmed, freed, and ready to rock my job as mom. It's not technique-based, so if you're looking for some sort of formula that you can follow to get your kids in line, this isn't for you. It's more philosophy-based, and focuses on changing our own behaviors in order to foster better relationships with our children. If you're interested, and really want me to provide a full review or synopsis, contact me and I will. Otherwise, if it sounds like something you might be into, just read it. It certainly can't hurt!

A Travelling Dad

My husband is hilarious. Wish he could have seen the look on Alexander's face as I read this blog post to him.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kai's first anatomy lesson

Earlier today while the boys were snuggling...

Alexander: Kai! There is no milk there! That is my nose, not a boob!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Activities Weeks 4 and 5

We were out of town last Friday and Saturday when I usually write these blogs, so I'm just combining weeks 4 and 5. We were, as usual, quite busy!

Alexander's had swim lessons every weekday morning for the past two weeks and he's done great! He went completely underwater (#26) on the 3rd day of lessons, which is a big deal for him. I do think he's still pretty nervous about it, but he's made improvement since last year. Yesterday they had Safety Day, where they learned about water safety, and today they had Fun Day, where they could "do whatever they wanted," in Alexander's words. He came out of class extremely excited because he had been given some candy as a Last Day treat. More importantly, he also had his evaluation form, from which I learned that he had passed Level One! On to Level Two next summer. I am very, very proud of him for doing his best, being brave, and for being on good behavior all during lessons. His instructors wrote some nice comments on his sheet, including that he is "a fantastic swimmer" and that he "was a pleasure to have in class because of his excitement." Is it time for me to stop bragging now or can I bask in this moment of pride just a little longer? ;)

The other big excitement of the past couple of weeks was that we finally made another trip up to PopPop's place (#14). We hadn't been there since Thanksgiving. It was pretty hot up there, and Jack was grumpy for much of Saturday after an allergic reaction to my dad's cats left him a bit itchy, but we did have a good time as usual. The boys were thrilled to play on the new swing set that PopPop had gotten for them, and we were able to visit, at least briefly, with plenty of family at the family reunion. I got to spend some nice time with my brother, "Uncle Matt," and the boys enjoyed seeing him. They charmed Mema (my grandmother) and some of her guests with plenty of clover flowers, smiles, and chatter. My grandmother remarked how Jack has started really talking a lot more and has become more outgoing since she saw him last. Unfortunately, my grandmother fell Saturday night and broke her arm, so we're hoping for a quick and smooth recover for her! Alexander brought her some extra clover flowers Sunday morning to cheer her up.

Over the past two weeks we also took a nice walk around our neighborhood lake (#19), rode our bikes (#20) around the tennis courts, and played Red Light, Green Light (#48). After playing with our homemade play-doh one day, the kids learned to (better) help Mommy sweep up the play-doh crumbs, which counts as "Learn to help Mommy or Daddy with a household chore." (#41)

Just more Pictures

Another set of Just Pictures, subtitled "My Boys Have Beautiful Eyes (and eyelashes)!"
Kai looks very, very serious!

Brothers love each other!
And lastly, a blurry but fun "long-arm" photo of the four of us. We need one with Justin, too. I don't think we have any yet with all five of us. We do own a tri-pod and the camera has a timer, so maybe a "project" for this long weekend! :)