Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sydney's smile

There's nothing like a little ice cream cake to inspire toddler smiles. (Helping too, is Daddy sitting across the table making funny faces.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Time flies...

How is it that seven and a half months apart seem like they will never end?

And yet five years together fly by so quickly that you miss the anniversary?

I really didn't forget the significance of last Sunday. And I hope no one else forgets the many families who either never got their happy reunion, or are still waiting for one.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Give a kid a notebook, and...

...he or she will find a way to be creative. In this case, the "she" wanted markers, too, and immediately started drawing.

The "he", meanwhile, turned into a waiter at a diner. Note the crayon behind his ear. He flipped through the notebook's pages until he found a clean one, then asked, "Can I take your order?"

The diner's menu on this night turned out to be rather limited. AJ told me I could choose between cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets. I ordered a cheeseburger. He then asked, "Would you like anything else with that?"

I answered, "How about a hug?"

In all seriousness, he responded, "I'm sorry sir. We don't serve hugs here."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Take THAT, Batman!

What is it about certain toys that just capture a child's imagination? Whatever it is, the Bat Cave and Legos that AJ just got for his birthday certainly have it!

When we got home on Sunday, AJ immediately started playing with the Batman stuff. He then asked me to help him with the Legos. Later, he used the newly created Lego trucks to attack the Bat Cave.

Batman's sidekick, Robin, is now a bad guy, by the way. Apparently you have to have a bad guy to play this game.

AJ played with these new toys for THREE HOURS straight on Sunday, never once asking to turn on the TV.

I'm sure there will be a time in the not-so-distant future when I'll discover some of these tiny Lego pieces with the bottom of my foot in the middle of the night as I stumble in the dark trying to get to a crying child who's woken up unexpectedly. I probably won't think they're such great toys, then. But for now, they're wonderful!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

So precious!

Here's something I learned as a reporter... the lamest story can be saved by brilliant pictures. I don't really have time to write today. But I'm willing to bet these photos will be enough to make people glad they took the time to check my blog.

I'd be curious to see how Zane compares in size with Sydney's Cabbage Patch doll. He is just too sweet!

Did I mention that AJ's party was Zane's first trip to a restaurant? One week old and he's already visited Chuck E. Cheese. Eric and Sarah are going to be the coolest parents ever!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The new guy

Yeah! We finally got to meet Zane. So precious and tiny and sweet, he was definitely worth the wait.

We thought it'd be fun to get a shot of all the cousins together. I hope Grandpa and Grandma appreciate this picture, because it was NOT easy to get.

It seemed like such a simple idea. Jessica could hold Zane, Jonathon could hold Sydney, and AJ could stand in the middle. Yeah right.
Jessica and Zane did their part. Jonathon did pretty well, too, all things considered. My two little darlings... that was a different story. AJ couldn't stand still and Sydney threw a fit. Big brother AJ stepped in and tried to comfort his hysterical little sister. That worked well enough that we decided to switch up who held Sydney.

So now, go back up to the beginning and you'll understand why the top photo was the best we could get.
And sweet little Zane slept through it all...

Predestined by gender?

Is it nature? Or nurture? I couldn't help but notice that my last two blog posts highlight my children in rather stereotypical gender roles. Sydney, at 20 months, is happily playing "house", while AJ, at age 4, is making career plans.

Am I shaping my children's future by treating them differently, or encouraging them to play with certain toys? I don't think it's the latter. AJ loves to cook with me. He's the one who likes to pretend he's doing it in a restaurant setting. And certainly we've given Sydney plenty of dolls and girly toys, but she also has access to all of AJ's trucks and dinosaurs. She's the one who prefers the princess teacups.

But then something happened Friday night, that made me question again. As I was doing some cleaning and dusting, Sydney happily followed me around with her own Clorox wipe, wiping down anything she could find.

And then I looked out into the living room. There sat AJ, just as fascinated as Daddy, watching what I've mockingly dubbed "the orange-haired lady movie."

Grandpa David probably knows what movie I'm talking about - the Bruce Willis flick, The Fifth Element. He's watched it plenty of times with Jeff. Probably while I was following Grandma Elouise around, cleaning.

Nature? Or nurture? hmmmmm....

Friday, February 20, 2009

Off to work

For as long as I can remember, I've referred to the kids' daycare as their school. For AJ, it sounded a little more grown up and dignified. Apparently that's no longer good enough.

"That's not my lunch box, Mom. It's my brief case. I'm going to work. My school is a police station. And Gino and Jase and me, we're police men. And we catch bad guys in our fishing nets."

Another long standing tradition is I'll ask him each evening what he did at school. AJ used to simply answer the question by telling us the names of the friends he played with that day. As his language skills have developed, he gives us more details of the games or activities they've done.

Recently, AJ started asking, "What did you do at work today?"

My answer usually includes something like, "I went to a meeting, and I typed some stories on the computer and I talked on the phone a little bit."

It was bound to happen. Yesterday I asked AJ what he did at school. His answer?

"I went to a meeting."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Who has time to be sick?

There's food to cook and tea to serve and a baby to feed and... great, now there's somebody on the phone.

It's going to take more than strep to slow this girl down!

Actually, Sydney had a pretty rough night. This morning wasn't shaping up to be too pleasant, either. Until we tried baby ibuprofen. Once we cut through the fever, Sydney was back to her normal, busy self.

It was kind of a relief to get the phone call from her doctor confirming that her strep test came back positive. At least now we know what's wrong and how to make her better. Now if I could just get her to drink the amoxicill...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Practicing for the real thing?

AJ and Sydney are so excited to meet their new cousin.

When I told AJ that the new baby was here, his response was, "I want to go see him right now!"

We've been working hard to convince him that he always needs to ask a big person if it's okay to pick up the baby.

Sydney, meanwhile, has turned into a little mom the last few weeks. She loves feeding "baby" with a bottle (funny, considering SHE would never drink from one) and it's very, very important that baby ALWAYS has a "blankie"

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bob the Builder

What a difference a day makes!

On Thursday night, we (Jeff) worked like crazy clearing out the back corner of our basement for the builder to begin work. On Friday, I came home to a framed-in guest room. Wiring is next.
It's so exciting to finally have this project underway. Though it's bringing back memories of the many hours we spent at Home Depot during the original construction, choosing everything from faucets to light fixtures. I'd been pregnant with AJ at the time, and I remember saying, "At least we don't have to try and keep an eye on kids while we do this."
Well, this time we get to try and keep an eye on kids while we do it. We stopped at Menards this weekend to check out options for the bathroom. I think AJ has now been inside just about every bathtub they have on display. Though his favorite part was something we weren't even looking at - the window display. It's set up a bit like a maze, so of course he had to run through it. About ten times. Way cool!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'll fix you, Mommy

Just like that, the sweetness, the sincerity, the innocence... it's all gone. What started out as a cute "doctor's check-up," now has me questioning all of AJ's motivations.

While waiting for our Valentine's cookies to cool, my seemingly sincere son started digging in the utensil drawer. That led to an impromptu exam by Dr. AJ.

A little later, we moved our game into Sydney's room. Dr. AJ continued his efforts to "take care of Mommy" with karate chops on my back, which actually served as a pretty nice massage. Later, he even rubbed my foot.

When Jeff came in to take a photo, AJ looked up and said, "Daddy, help me do this. Maybe we'll get a bedtime treat."

And that's when it hit me. Despite all my best efforts. AJ is going to turn into a man.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

So sweet!

Yes, they will hate me for this someday, but I can't resist. A day focused on Valentines seems to have inspired my favorite little sweethearts.

"Mommy, look at our rings. We're married! Hey Syd, how 'bout we go on a date?"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ticket please

What do you mean you don't think he looks like a computer-animated version of Tom Hanks? Can't you see the stern look on his face? And the paper punch should be a dead give-away.

When AJ found one of my craft punches, he put it to the only use he knows for such a tool. Jumping into the role of the conductor for the Polar Express, he walked up to each of us and announced, in as grumpy a voice as he could muster, "Ticket, please."

Now the challenge is to monitor what he decides are worthy tickets, to make sure he's punching holes in nothing other than scratch paper.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh, I shouldn't be doing this?

How is it that our household now has not one, but TWO creatures living in it who like to shred Kleenex? Sydney and Maggie have always had a weirdly close connection. Perhaps it comes from this freakish hobby they seem to both enjoy.

They do differ, however, in how they handle the clean-up of their quirky past time, and I don't know which is worse. Maggie tends to simply eat the Kleenex, which is gross, but doesn't seem to hurt her. The obsessive-compulsive Sydney, meanwhile, picked up every last little piece and stuffed it back in the box.

This initially seemed cute - she cleaned up her mess. What's not cute, however, is reaching for a tissue to wipe a runny nose, and pulling out a scrap that's less than an inch square.

One more thing to keep out of reach!

Romeo, Romeo...

"Balentine's Day" is an exciting - and busy - time for a certain preschooler at our house. We can't walk by a Valentine display at a store without AJ stopping to examine the heart-shaped boxes of chocolate.

"I need to get this for my friend, Hanna," he has repeatedly insisted. (I repeatedly insist the answer is no.)

Meanwhile, AJ also is excitedly working on "letters" to send to all his friends. Sort of. Over the weekend, he found a forgotten and nearly full box of 101 Dalmations-themed Valentines. (I'm guessing I bought them years ago to send cards to Jonathon and Jessica.)

But here's the odd part. AJ doesn't want the Valentines. He's taking the small Valentine-size envelopes, and then stuffing those into larger envelopes he found in the same drawer. He then painstakingly licks the larger envelope shut.

He asked me for helping writing the letters. What did he want to say? I quote:

"I love you my buddies. Love, AJ. You want to come to my birthday? Yes, you can."

This was the point when I pulled out the real Valentines he'll be handing out - Spiderman - and got him working on the very important task of signing his name on the back of each one. This is the first year he's been able to do that, so it's a big deal.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not nICE

AJ is going to wake up in a little bit and say, "Mommy, you were TEASING me!"

Why? Because at bedtime last night, he'd been whining that he wanted to stay home today, and I'd told him that he had to go to school.

And now, I guess we'll be staying home after all. To avoid problems later in the day due to an ice storm headed this way, just about every school in the area has closed.

Today is the funeral for Bob Jaski. If ever there was a day we needed daycare, this is it. We'll see how this goes...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Scratch that answer

I noticed a red mark on the side of AJ's face this morning and asked him where he got it.

This was his answer: "Um, I was on top of a mountain and I fell off into a pie."

"So you don't remember how you got the scratch?" I asked.

"And it had a point in it."

Of course. That MUST be how it happened.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Potty time!

Mommy is getting so well trained! Five of the last six mornings, Sydney has woken up dry, and we've gotten her into the bathroom in time for her to go potty there. I figure this has saved us at least $1.50 in diapers. Woohoo!

Of course, this success has given us a glimpse of new challenges to come. No sooner had I set Sydney on the toilet this morning, than AJ came running to announce, "I have to go potty, real bad!"

I told him he should use the bathroom in Mommy and Daddy's room.

"But I want to use THIS one."

"Then you're going to have to wait. Get used to it, kid."

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Super Hook

It's tough to be a mean ol' Captain Hook when you're just so darn cute.

Before I returned the rented costume earlier this week, AJ couldn't resist trying it on. He wanted to wrestle with Daddy, but of course we told him no. We probably didn't need to worry. AJ couldn't take two steps without the wig and hat starting to slide. This just might be the first time in his life that his off-the-charts head circumference is actually too small for something.

While we're on the subject of Peter Pan costumes, be sure to check out the ultimate Peter Pan family photo. It's now online.

Switching subjects - I'm wondering if I should be nervous about how this day will turn out. Both my hair dryer and my coffee maker died... in the same morning. What kind of omen is that?!? (Optimist that I am, I'm interpreting it as a sign that I should go shopping for replacements later this afternoon.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A birthday wish four AJ

Once upon a time, I had a baby.

And just like that, he's now four.
Happy Birthday, my good boy. May you never lose the loving sweetness of the preschooler who wrapped his arms around me last night and said, "I just want to give you a big hug!"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Poor, poor Cinderella

A toddler's work is just never done!

Sydney's been throwing fits lately when certain favorite outfits of hers get thrown in the washing machine. She'd much rather run around the house carrying them. (Perhaps a better headline would have been a Don Henley-inspired joke about blondes loving dirty laundry?)

Hoping to distract her as I loaded her dirty clothes into the washing machine, I asked her to push the basket back into her room. She tackled the first half of the job with gusto.

Pushing, pulling and dragging, Sydney started doing laps with the basket. Through the door by the washer and dryer, around the closet and small divider and on into the dining room, then the kitchen, back to the laundry area, and then she'd do it all again. And again.

The basket never did make it back to her room (until I "helped" it.) And I think the laundry cycle was half done before Sydney tired of her new game.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When boys get sick...

I'm trying to avoid stereotypes about males' inability to deal with minor illnesses, because in AJ's defense, he's such a healthy kid that he's never had to learn how to function at less than 100 percent.

But he's getting experience now. The cold that started with Sydney and then moved on to me, now seems to have settled in AJ's chest. By Sunday night, I could hear the congestion in his voice. Monday morning it was no better. Having just been through this myself, I sympathize with him because I'm pretty sure I know what symptoms he's dealing with.

I tried explaining to him what was going on in terms he could understand. I told him that he needs to try really hard to blow his nose, because if the boogers don't come out his nose, then they go down his throat, and that's what's making his throat hurt.

The explanation sort of worked. Dropping him off at daycare Monday morning, the first thing he told his teacher was, "My throat hurts because I've been eating my boogers!"

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm not sleepy

With all the fun of the birthday party, I almost forgot about this story...

On Friday, on the way home from running way too many errands in search of party supplies, AJ fell asleep in the car. He woke up as I attempted to carry him into the house, and so I set him down and told him to go climb up on the couch.

"I'm not sleepy," he insisted. "I just want to watch TV in the living room."

"That's fine," I answered. "Go climb up on the couch and I'll come turn on the TV as soon as I bring Sydney inside." (Sydney also was asleep.)

A few minutes later, after unloading Sydney and all the party goodies from the car, here's what I found:

If he weren't so cute, he'd make a great bum!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What a party!

Is this a look of confusion or amusement? I'm not quite sure. This was Sydney's reaction when she saw...

...the bigger-than-life pirate who commandeered our house for a few hours during AJ's party and turned it into Hook's Hide-out.

Thanks to a tip from an acquaintance through work, we were able to rent the hat, wig, puffy shirt and hook from the Duluth Playhouse. We then added a red scarf, black sweats and balloon sword to complete the ensemble. What a character!

We'd encouraged everyone to come in their favorite costume, and so had a couple of pirates, fairies and mermaids, plus Peter Pan and his friends Wendy and Michael running around the house. My friend Jess, a.k.a. Tiger Lily from now on, wins special points for costume creativity for her family. As soon as she posts the pictures, I'll include a link to her blog, because they were awesome!

Ironically, the Peter Pan costume that inspired the dress up, came off within about a half hour. It was just too hot to wear while running around and sword-fighting with friends.

The Peter Pan theme was a fun test of our creativity. Besides costumes, we made swords out of twisty balloons for all of the kids. And Captain Hook set up a treasure hunt, which ultimately led to a treasure-chest shaped pinata. Never mind that the pinata was so tough that it finally took Captain Hook, with the assistance of Wendy and Michael's Father, to whack it open. And never mind that the pizza place screwed up ("Oh, we thought 1/31 was tomorrow." WHAT?!?) so lunch was an hour late. The kids had a ball, and I'm pretty sure the parents did, too.