Tuesday, December 27, 2011

12-28-11 Birthday Letter

Dear Conrad,

I joked about keeping you four years old and not letting you get any bigger. I was only partially joking because I love you just the way you are and part of my really does want to freeze time and keep you my little boy. But, the other part of me is excited about how much your changing as you get older and bigger. Honestly, you have to turn five because can do so much now and you know so much. You're a fixer, you take good care of your brothers, you can climb trees and you even show me how to work the IPAD. It would be terrible to pause you now.

This is a picture of us from when you were only a few months old. When I found out that I was pregnant with you, my heart instantly grew. I think it has been growing ever since. I'm so glad you made me a mommy. I'm so glad God gave me you.

Happy Birthday!



Saturday, December 10, 2011

12-10-11 About that Snow

Ok, yesterday I was prematurely excited about the snow. Before sunrise it looked like we had gotten a lot of snow. It turned out it didn't even cover all of the grass. . . However, my boys were still thrilled to see the white stuff. Max said, "Now it's Christmas!" Conrad couldn't wait to get outside and play. Caden said "snow" for the first time. When his brothers put their mittens on, Caden insisted on wearing his -- for about two seconds. When we were outside, Conrad and Max spent most of their time shoveling the snow.

Today began blissfully with all four of us snuggling on the couch after a full night's sleep (i.e., nobody woke up in the middle of the night or climbed into my bed. Yea!!). We've all been under the weather for the past couple of days. Yesterday I took Caden to the doctor and he had an eye infection. Today I went to the doctor and i have a sinus infection. Max and Conrad have coughs. I slept for a nice long stretch this afternoon and now the day is ending in the same blissful way that it began. I'm on the couch with my laptop and my three boys are playing on the living room floor. I pulled out the toy farm set, ALL of their tractors and the Mega Blocks and they've been playing "Dairy Farm" for almost an hour.

It's funny how their play has changed so much. How playing TOGETHER has changed so much. Conrad and Max really feed each other's imaginations and show Caden new ways to play with the toys. Tonight I'm getting milk butter deliveries to my "house! I don't have to be a part of their play the way I used to be. Earlier I responded to Max while he was playing police and then I was surprised when he wasn't talk to TO ME. He was talking to his partner, Conrad.

Oh boy, now one of the tractors can fly and is taking milk to Uncle Jason, Trevor and Auntie Kristina in England!

I don't have a picture of the boys playing tonight, but it reminds me of them playing with the Little People nativity a couple of weeks ago. I'll post a pic from that.

Friday, December 9, 2011

12-9-11 A Real Snow

I cannot wait until the boys wake up. It snowed!! A real ground-covering snow! There was great excitement at our house in October on the morning of the first frost. This is going to be sheer delight. I may as well match up the mittens now!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

9-20-11 Interesting Conversation of the Day

Conrad: "Mom, can you read minds?"
Me: "No."
Conrad: "Good."
Me: "Why?"
Conrad: "Oh, no reason."

Monday, September 12, 2011

9-10-11 Wedding Bells Ring Again

Conrad explained to Max what a wedding is, "You walk down the aisle and then Dad is at the end and then he gives you candy". Max was all in. My handsome boys made lovely wedding guests and I swear Caden uttered new words during the ceremony. He was the most quiet as he was making the connection that the minister's voice was his Pa.

The reception was lovely and my three boys joined the other children in warming up the dance floor before the bride and groom arrived. They've all got pretty good rhythm. Conrad figured out how to make his shadow appear on the big screen. It was even more cool than hand shadows with a flashlight.

I know that I have a lot of work to do to learn how to use my new camera better and unfortunately, the pictures from this weekend only go to prove it. I still want to post a few because the boys are just so darn cute. Joe and I are too, but we're always behind the camera!

We rounded out the weekend visiting with Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins that span three generations. It was a lovely Sunday.

9-12-11 A Trip to the Aquarium

I got to pet a starfish today. Wow, that was a first. The boys did it, but weren't as impressed as I thought they should be. I guess when you're two and four, you figure this is just what people do every so often. . .

There were a lot of "Wow!" moments today. The first was as we exited the Interstate and sped into the downtown traffic. I could hear the moment the boys laid eyes on the skyline. Then Max nearly busted out of his car seat when he saw three city buses together.

What I always think of as the "Dolphin Show" has been renamed renamed the "Aquatic Show". I assume this is to not disrespect the dolphins. Today's show had a significant amount of information and minimal dolphin tricks. I learned the behavior modification methods that they use with the dolphins and the Belugas. Everybody knows that the small fish and the squid are positive reinforcements. But now I know that tickling the tongues are too! I also learned that it would be smart to give Caden a sucker at the very beginning of the show and then he would sit nicely through the whole thing.

The soothing sounds of the aquarium set a relaxing atmosphere. It was interesting to watch the divers feed the fish. I wish I had a recording of Max's little voice when we got to the shark exhibit. It was high pitched excitement with a touch of fear. Caden was free from the stroller in this exhibit and was able to stand over the plexiglass while the string rays swam underfoot. I could tell it boggled his mind! It was also here that Max announced he had found Nemo. Pheww.

The boys go to hang out in a submarine replica and Conrad found more than one set of decorative rocks to climb. I was trying to predict was Conrad's favorite part of the aquarium would be. I figured it would be seeing the divers feed the fish, the submarine, or the mushroom like jellyfish. He told me that the best part was me, Grandma, and Auntie Lee. My heart inflated a little bit. When I pushed for a more aquarium-related answer, Conrad replied, "All the tanks, mom." The tone of his voice added, "duh."

The aquarium is officially added to my favorite places for an adventure.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9-2-11 Farewell to Summer

When I saw the 10-day forecast, I knew our swimming days were coming to an end. Today we packed up our beach bag and headed over to Grandma and Grandpa's house for one last swim. The boys took advantage of every minute in the water. We played water guns, boats, shark, and other random games that don't have names. It's been a good summer. A really good summer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My mom uses that expression, "tuckered out". Her mom used to say it too. It describes a child that has fully exerted themselves in play to the point of exhaustion. "Tuckered out" is the best way to describe my boys tonight. Caden was so tired that he just cried as if he didn't know what to do when he was in his bed. Max seems to get hurt more frequently when he's tired and Conrad cries easily when he's tired. You can imagine what our house sounded like an hour before the boys went to bed!

Today we went on a big boy adventure.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

8-1-11 Zoo with Cousins

Today we had a special trip with cousins. We met them at the zoo and got to see quite a few animals. I think the penguins were my favorites this trip. The best moment was Max's sheer excitement when he proclaimed, "Mommy, I found Nemo!!" Sure enough, he did. We cooled off at the splash pad. I didn't even know our zoo had this, but on a 95 degree day, what an awesome find! Kudos to my sister-in-law for this discovery. Max refers to his cousins as his friends. It is a special gift to have one person be both friend and family to you.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

7-28-11 Was I Dreaming?

Remember a few days ago when I was glowing with pride all over cyber land about Conrad swimming? This afternoon we went swimming at Grandma and Grandpa's and he was looking forward to showing them that he could swim. Only today, he wouldn't let go of my arm.

We spent the morning hanging out with our good buddies and the boys had another game of Rescue Helicopter going on. A Rescue Helicopter "just like Caleb's" is on Conrad's Christmas order. That's right. Conrad unknowingly switched the word list to order.

7-26-11 How Does Your Garden Grow?

Our “garden” has really taken off. I’m no green thumb, but having a few cucumber and some tomato plants just make sense – they’re yummy! Here’s this year’s big gardening lesson. Cucumbers are a vine, but I don’t think they are meant to climb a trellis. Our cucumbers that are hanging on the trellis are more yellow than green. The ones on the ground are the normal green.

It’s been good for the boys to observe the growing vegetables and to keep them watered. They like to eat them too. Max didn’t even mind the cucumber that was picked prematurely and still a little bit prickly!

7-21-11 Moments of Independence

The other night we were at the water park and the boys’ “inner fish” showed through full force! In the zero depth pool, Caden could sit in the water right next to the 18” fountains and just giggle his little heart out each time he put his face right into the water. Conrad and Max wasted no time in finding the kiddie waterslide and flying down. Max had a way of jumping down more than sliding. One time on the kiddie slide was enough for Conrad and he was ready for the big waterslides. Luckily, so was Pa. They both came back beaming! Conrad asked me to go with him and I realized that I hadn’t been down a waterslide for about 7 years. I still love them!!
Max and Conrad were ready to do some jumping into the water and it took some work, but I talked Conrad into taking off his lifejacket. After all, he reminded me that, “you can never be too safe”. What seemed like out of nowhere, Conrad took off swimming with his face in the water. I may have been more excited than he was! Max got caught up in the moment and showed us that he could swim too. Without a moment of hesitation, he put his face right in the water (mouth wide open).
We’ve had lots of water fun this summer and the good times just keep getting better.

7-16-11 Road Trip

There is nothing like reconnecting with old friends. I mean the friends that go WAY back. Today the boys and I loaded up the car and took a road trip to meet up with one of my friends, Tara, and her two little girls. Tara and I became friends 17 years ago. I think we formed some sort of instant bond the moment we met because I don’t remember knowing her and not being close friends.
Since distance separates us, we’ve never had a chance for our kids to have a play date. It was a makeshift play date. We met in a mall where the kids could play in the play area, ride the quarter operated toys, and visit the puppies in the little puppy shop. After a little bit of play time, we all enjoyed lunch at Maid Rite. The five under fives livened up the restaurant quite a bit! Tara and I snuck in conversation between doling out goldfish, diaper changes, and corralling kids in the play land—you know, the mommy stuff. It was well worth the energy exerted to get to hang out together! Who knows, next time maybe our kids will even engage in conversation too!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

7-12-11 Get in Shape, Girl! Oh What A Feeling. . .

Remember the catchy tune in the commercial for Get In Shape Girl? It was very popular in the '80s. Was the aim to make young girls want to get healthy or was it the belief that it's never too early for girls to become self-conscious about their bodies???

Another perk to having boys - no need to dive to deep into answering that question!

Today I broke out the Jillian Michael's DVD and resumed my quest to work out regularly. I was trying to get up early and do it before the boys were awake. This was effective until they started waking during the workout - sometimes I think they can sense my movement and it wakes them up. Anyway, then the work out doesn't get finished (part of me is relieved when I get to quit early!). So, I decided to make another attempt at working out with my children. In the past it has not gone well when doing exercises that include my step. . . the 18" step lures them and it creates too many opportunities for them to be where I need to step. However, Jillian Michael's is kid-friendly and Conrad and Max worked out right along with me. It was fun!

Conrad's goal for working out is to gain weight. He actually went and weighed himself sporadically throughout the workout and proclaimed that he is heavier. We have opposite work out goals; it makes my heart giggle.

While working out with Max, I couldn't resist the urge to shout, "Parquor!" because that's what his moves resembled. My workout buddies made me smile and laugh more than I ever have during a workout! It's also only a 25 minute routine which makes it doable and I know it got the boys heart rate up and us talking about keeping our bodies healthy.

In my mind I can picture and hear Max saying, "I strong, huh?" The last time I did sit ups with Caden, he thought I was offering airplane rides. I liked his way of thinking and he just squealed with delight as he went "flying" through the air.

Friday, July 15, 2011

7-11-11 Montessori Monday

So, we've been adding pennies to our "100" jar and are well on our way to the ice cream stand! It didn't take long for Max to assume a turn in adding pennies to the jar. A couple of times he has been overzealous about adding pennies and, much to Conrad's dismay, added more than the number of books that we have read. This problem is easy to correct. . . It has also given us more opportunities to count the pennies (one of the purposes of creating the jar). Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Farm are currently Max's favorite books and Morris goes to School is Conrad's favorite. I'm a big fan of both of these books. The latter was a garage sale find and I remember it from when was a kid! Caden's favorite book seems to be his soft fabric farm book.

We like to go to my "big chair" to read books and the boys usually bring their B's. It's another opportunity to snuggle. The big chair doesn't seem so big when all four of us climb onto it--there is a lot of wiggling until the boys are engrossed in the book.
The other day, I started to read Where the Wild Things Are and Conrad stopped me and said that he would read it his way. He proceeded to "read" his own version of the book. What a hoot! His creativity shined and the main character still ended his journey with a hot breakfast!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

7-7-11 Surviving the Fourth

After a very busy Independence Day weekend, we have been taking it slow this week. The festivities included breakfast at Dunkin Dunuts, church with a meet and greet the missionaries, a trip to the beach, 4th of July parade, swimming, big cook-out, and fireworks. We all slept well Monday night! The boys were troopers and we had a great time. I was enjoying everything so much that I barely had time to snap any pics. . . just a few at the beach. We've known for a while that Con was in love with the beach. Now we know we officially have three (technically, four) boys that can't get enough of the sand and water fun!

Caden entertained us with his relentless efforts to crawl into the waves. Yes, he refused to be upright when we would try to hold him standing in the water. He loudly refused and squirmed in an effort to be hands, feet, and head in the water. By the end of the day Caden was officially walking! Anything to get to the water, right?

Max and Conrad were busy digging, building, and splashing from the time their feet hit the sand. They only came away from the water for occasional snacks.

The party continued all weekend and ended with an elaborate fireworks display at Grandma and Grandpa's. Caden is the first to not care for the loud fireworks. Max and Conrad have never minded the noise.

The best part of the weekend is that Baby Cousin Jack officially joined the family in the wee hours of the 5th -- just barely missing the fireworks! Jack is grandchild #9 on Daddy's side and he is welcomed with lots of love! Conrad said it best when he said, "We prayed to God that Baby Jack would get here good". And God answered our prayer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

7-5-11 Psychoanalyzing Things Your Kids Say

Um, today we were driving and Conrad said, "There's a cool mommy". I did not see this woman so I asked him why she was cool. He responded, "Because she doesn't have her kids with her."


7-3-11 Light Table

A couple of weeks ago I got caught up in a frenzy of DIY light tables for preschoolers. Most of the DIY projects that I find require my husband to do most of the "Do" in DIY! But when I saw how to make a light table that I could definitely do myself, I packed up the boys in the car and we went and got the materials.

I bought a clear tote, white spray paint, silver spray paint, and a under the counter-mount fluorescent light. This little Sunday morning project has provided lots of fun for the boys.

We've used it to explore color with color wands (I recently hit the jackpot at the garage sale of a retiring kindergarten teacher! The color wands were $3 for about 15 of them.). We also had some fun with some used up glow band. After they lose their ability to glow, they can be "re-ignited" on the light table. The tote is easy to store and so far, I just put it on our dining room table for the boys to use. I'm glad I got the bigger tote so they both have plenty of room to work.

It's fun to watch Conrad explore new colors and shades that he doesn't otherwise pay much attention to. He's been using the word "overlap" on different occasions ever since we started using the color wands. Max is still exploring primary colors and we ended up using the wands for patterning and used the glow bands to make a caterpillar.

The internet is full of great ideas of how to use light tables (colored binder divider pages, ziploc bags of colored water, painting, sand, I think I saw shaving cream. . . Eventually, I want to get my hands on some X-rays. . . And the magnetic geometic shapes made for light tables. . .