Thursday, October 21, 2010

Little Women

Well, believe it or not...we're going to have  4 girls!  Our own, live, version of Little Women.

A long time ago, as we discussed plans for our family, Ryan reminded me why I love him so much when he said..."Really, we just have to decide if we're going to be Sense and Sensibility (3 daughters), Little Women (4 sisters) or Pride and Prejudice (5 girls)"  His comical resignation and how he tries to help me see the positive side cracks me up.  He's also the best daddy a girl could want.  So, Little Women it is!

Bring on the same old, but adorable, pink dresses, lace, and bows.  I'll add a few more minutes to my morning routine to style one more head of hair.  More baby dolls, ponies, princesses and feelings!  We can keep all the bedroom curtains pink.  And one day I'll sit back and watch them experience the sisterly-bond that only sisters can have, and be so happy that they were all girls!

And Ryan doesn't have it too bad.  He's made sure he's got girls that will hike, explore and camp with him.  They all love some of his favorite cartoons and spend good times laughing with him.  After getting into Star Wars Clone Wars (cartoon), Ryan decided it was time to introduce the real Star Wars movies.  The girls are everything Ryan could have hoped for.  They get so excited--I hear squeals of delight and excitement and then at dinner I get reenactments of the races and battles.  Alice even turned to me with an imitation of Jar Jar's tongue wiggling!  Pretty hilarious!  Really...what daddy needs boys when you have cool girls?!?!

To be honest, I've been more disappointed than I had expected today.  Tears?  Yes.  It would be exciting and different to have a boy around here.  Hayley and I shared some tears, and then decided..."lil' lady" is probably going to be extra cute so that we can't help but love her!

Ryan and I went to the ultrasound appointment alone.  Since Hayley was in school we promised we wouldn't tell any of the kids until they were all together.  We copied a cute idea from one of your blogs :)

Excited to dig into the news...


Hayley knows.  "Really mom?"

Hayley is depressed.
Maya is almost through the chocolate layer.
Alice just thinks it's fun to hold a knife!

Maya: "It's a GIRL!"
Alice: "[scream of joy]"
Hayley: tears are starting to flow

Reality sinks in...some are happy, others not so much.

But the cake sure tasted good!

Monday, October 18, 2010


Sometimes I think I'm a little behind on my parenting.  About 6 months ago I moved all the dishes in our kitchen around so that the all the plates, bowls, cups, etc are in a bottom cupboard.  Why hadn't it occurred to me before that it would be great if the kids could reach their own cups so that I don't have to come running every time they need a drink???  They can also now unload the dishwasher by themselves, set the table and get a plate to make their own snack on.  Should have done it 4 years ago!

Along the same lines, I'm a few years behind on revising our kitchen when it comes to snacking....

I've been toying with the idea of forcing our family to have more nutritious snacking habits for a very long time.  I've just been a I'm finally doing it.  Last week I got rid of the stuff that I deemed "not good enough" for our house!  But before that I spent a lot of time reading blogs and talking to people so that I had ideas to replace it all.  Here's just one that I've gleaned a lot of ideas from.

Here's one new favorite from that site...chip dip.  Love it!

Just to define where we are at on the scale of "more nutritious"...we do pretty good on homemade meals and our snacks aren't bad but I don't put as much effort into the snacking side of things.  We make whole wheat bread and granola all the time.  We buy some organic products but not everything.  My kids don't know what Twinkies are or other stuff that is so glaringly bad...but often they reach for the goldfish, pretzels or Cheez-its for a snack and I know those aren't doing much for them nutritionally (but they sure are easy!)  So my goals are:

1. Get rid of some of the less nutritious options that sit around our house.
2. Post lists of better options for the kids.
3. Set up our fridge and cupboards so that they can independently make good choices.
4. Make in bulk and freeze some of the things that I know they like I just don't always have on hand (like hummus)
5. Start to educate the kids (and me!) about portion that when we have dessert it's 1/2 cup of ice cream not 2-3 cups with toppings!!!
6. Make knowing portion sizes part of our applied family knowledge
7. Find some recipes for treats that our family loves...but tweak some ingredients so they aren't quite so damaging (my favorite new tid-bit of knowledge is that you can replace fat using pureed white beans instead of applesauce in a lot of things!  Cool, huh?)
8. We will still eat some of the yummy junk out there sometimes and enjoy every bite but I want our daily habits to change long-term!

This week I did the first 3!  #4 is a daily progression.  In all honesty, I don't think the kids have noticed too much.  Changing me was the hard part! 

It's all about changing me first!  A typical school packed lunch for Hayley used to be: 1/2 sandwich, fruit/yogurt, a few chips, a cookie.  About 2 weeks ago I cut out the chips and cookie and tried to replace it with a non-carb option (carrots, olives, etc) and a whole sandwich.  She now actually eats her whole sandwich and hasn't even mentioned the changes.  I panic every morning as I'm making lunch that I'm going to starve her...but apparently the problem lies in my expectations, not her needs!

The new Independent Kid Kitchen Plan...I tweaked an idea from a class I listened to at a church activity recently.  Sherrie had used an over-the-door shoe holder on her pantry door to provide quick-grab options for her kids.  I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me?  The only stuff my kids could reach was the crackers, goldfish and cookies.  No wonder!  I don't have a pantry door but I moved the quick-grab snack items to a lower shelf and put it in divided containers.  I posted a laminated list of snack ideas on the cupboard door.  They love consulting the list instead of me for ideas!  I also realized that a lot of the more healthy options are refrigerated.  We have a side-by-side fridge and a lot of the good stuff like yogurt, hummus and cheese sticks are typically stored on the top shelf which is taller than me.  So I cleared off the bottom shelf.  Put a cute little container on it and made it into a snack shelf.  I also laminated and posted a list on the top drawer in the fridge with ideas of fruits and veggies that they may want to consider for snacks.

Brainstorming:  Before you start squinting to figure out what's on that fridge shelf or in the cupboard...I have a list list of snack ideas that I have assembled and would love you to look it over and email me with your own ideas that I haven't thought of.  I divided it into "Grab it" "Make it" and "Prep it" sections.  It helps me in my planning to look at the prep section to see what I need to make ahead of time and freeze if possible.  Leave me a comment with your email address and I'll send the list to you then I'll compile all the ideas and send the list back out.

Happy Snacking and Feeding everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Update on me!

Well folks, I'm here to tell you that we all survived to see the end of week 16 of this pregnancy!  It was pretty hit and miss there for a while!  Thought they were going to have to cart me off to a loony house!  I feel like I've already done 40 weeks of this pregnancy thing...maybe it will speed up a little now?

For 3-4 months, I've been hanging onto hope that maybe I'll feel like a human being again sometime around the end of September or beginning of October and hoping that my family will make it in one piece with me.  But as the date neared, I feared that I had set myself up for disappointment.  I know that I don't necessarily get "better" until sometime between 16 and 20 weeks.  Thank heavens for little improvements!  I'm not back up to speed but I'm on my way.  The nausea isn't constant anymore.  I'm still completely dependent on the meds, but that's okay.  I'm starting to eat more healthy things instead of any random thing that sounds good.  I have a little more energy  as long as I don't over-do it and use it all up in a day!

The best part of all is that I'm better in time to enjoy the fall...what a great reward!  The world suddenly looks more beautiful and life has more sun shining on my days!

I'm so grateful for the little things I can do again.  The laundry mountain hasn't been so high.  The floor has been swept, mopped and vacuumed more often, dinner is even planned and prepared by me most nights.  And last week was an exciting milestone...I ventured out for a full-Sam's Club shopping trip with kids in-tow!  Haven't done that since at least July!  My kids behavior is improving now that they aren't neglected orphans!  I play games with kids and even discipline more effectively which makes us all much happier.  It's wonderful to feel sincere gratitude for the mundane parts of life!

The gears in my brain are starting to turn again with to do lists and projects.  I have had to started using my calendar again--before we just scheduled nothing!  I wish my body could move faster so I could keep up with all the plans my brain has, but for now we'll just settle with appreciating the little things that we've missed!

1 week until the big "reveal"....BOY or GIRL...what's your guess???


I think I'll be shocked either way...boy would be unbelievable considering our history and girl--again? that really possible 4 times in a row???  I like to think that at this point I don't care (although I've had my opinions--and at one point thought I'd cry on the ultrasound table if I didn't get what I wanted!)  I think I've gone through the pros and cons of each so much that now I'm completely confused about what I want!  7 more days to wonder...

Friday, September 17, 2010

Laugh the day away...

Last Sunday I kept finding myself staring at Alice. She just looked so grown up and beautiful...I'm not sure if she really changed overnight but it sure seemed like it. Luckily she let me do a little photo shoot to catch the moment!

Alice loves life!
(see that glint in her eyes!)

I think she inherited much of her happy & carefree personality from my brother, Adam. Crazy little kid that he was...I remember him making me insane when I had to babysit him. He was always in trouble and always laughing about it!!!

Life is funny and there's hardly a situation that can't be laughed at for Alice. It makes disciplining especially difficult as she belly laughs in my face no matter how heated and mad I get! The thing is--she isn't trying to be bad--she just really sees humor in all things. (I'm now sure my face is pretty comical when I'm mad!)

She also thinks her only purpose in our family is to tease. It doesn't matter if the object of her teasing is laughing, screaming or crying. Teasing must be done by someone! Her teasing habits have been increasing exponentially lately. Her sisters will either learn patience or suffer!

I love that I have a kid that forces me to laugh in difficult situations...I love her so much!
I know I have happier days because of her little smile and laugh.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Miracles do happen!

1st day of preschool
4 1/2 years old

We've learned many things as parents in the last 4 1/2 years about raising a child that is "shy". I'm going to log this in detail more to connect with other parents that struggle with this same issue than to complain about the rough road! As a baby and toddler I never imagined this character trait to be a hindrance. It actually made Maya seem really easy--she just followed us around quietly and was never very demanding. Then fast forward to the age that it starts to become necessary to develop socially and find out that it is a very painful process. This past year has been full of many painful and tearful moments for both Maya and I as we learn to negotiate this difficult road. I've learned to respect that it is almost physically painful for her to be out of her comfort zone but I struggle all the time with when it's right to push her and when I should let her cower behind me??? It has gotten to the point that I can't hardly leave her EVER! Even if I need to leave her with a friend that she knows really well, it is a major show-down (Sorry about those bite marks, my friend!!!) She has panic attacks that are impressive to say the least.

Realizing that we would really like her to succeed in school, and Kindergarten is one short year away, we decided to enroll her in a preschool program at a local church that we've heard great things about. She has known all summer that preschool is starting in the fall. Up until 2 weeks ago the mere mention of "preschool" ended in an hour of frustrated and panic stricken yelling and crying from her. I've been wondering, "and how is this suppose to succeed?!?!" We've focused our efforts on many prayers, more baby steps towards separation, and reading lots of library books about kids that are scared of school at first.

Well...I'm here to tell you that miracles happen! Look at that smile on her first day of preschool. She was still really scared but also a little excited. I don't think she hardly said 2 words to anyone on her first day but by her second time she told me that she made 2 friends and her teachers said she had told them that I was having a baby. So she must be feeling more comfortable and we're progressing!

Now on the way to preschool our conversation is about what it means to have "mixed emotions" as she tries to explain that she really wants to go to preschool and also really doesn't. Let me just say that I'm one grateful and happy momma to see this BIG baby step in her life! It was only a few weeks ago that I thought I'd never survive it!

And even some smiles after preschool. Hayley and Alice came to cheer her on and pick her up. Yeah!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2nd Grade!

It must be second grade when mom forgets to even take a picture of the first morning of school! Couldn't have even imagined doing that in Kindergarten....but school's old news now, right?!?! I did catch her that afternoon...happy and tired!

I can't believe my baby is in 2nd grade! That sounds so old! Our elementary school is split in 2 buildings across a busy street and 2nd grade is when they move up to the "big" building so it really felt like a new and scary beginning for me. But Hayley is our little socialite that excels in school so she hopped happily into the distance as I looked back a hundred times just in case I needed to wave again. But nope, she found a crowd of friends and was happy as could be, so I'll hold the tears and move on too. It's nice to be past the emotional goodbye stage....she's happy & I'm happy! Nice.

The day before school started we had to run out and buy some new shoes for her growing feet. We realized she only had sandles that fit...and school requires closed-toe shoes. Apparently, she's finally big enough that she doesn't get velcro shoes anymore. So we had an afternoon crash-course of how to tie shoes and she mastered it! She even said she was the "shoe tie-er" for the other kids on the first day of school!

We also made it to the teacher meet and greet last week and got a picture or two in her new classroom. We've heard awesome things about her teacher and she's got lots of good friends in her class so we're excited for another awesome year!

Her sisters helping her get her new desk organized. After she was done, she said, "Look how clean my desk looks!" How bad does it normally get, Hayley?!?

So, we're off to early mornings, packed lunches, homework, reports about the day, and whatever other adventures this year may hold! After a summer of laying around being so sick...I'm excited for the routine and structure for the kids.

Maya starts preschool next week...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Let the countdown begin...

When our house looks like this....

And the table is never cleared off...

And the mountains of laundry are taking over the house...

When Dad can usually be found doing dishes at 10pm...

And Mom can always be found at her post on the couch (with a bowl nearby!)...

It's our way of saying there's another baby on the way.
Baby #4 is due to arrive mid-March.
We hope to be able to tell you if it's a boy or a girl by halloween time.

(right now Hayley is voting for a boy,
Maya only wants a girl,
and Alice just wants the baby to wake up!
Dad & Mom are pretty resigned....we just do girls, right?!?!)

I get really horribly awful morning sickness until about 16-20 weeks so we're in the middle of the long-haul, wondering if we'll ever make it! We know from experience that without some awesome medication it would take daily IVs to keep me we're grateful for those little pills that at least keep me ticking--and the fact that they have finally got a generic version! I try to tell friends how bad it is (in a desperate plea for help!) but it's hard to get the reality across because I usually get dressed and put on make-up when I leave the house!

It's been a sad last half of the summer for the kids. They pretty much take care of themselves--eat lots of junk--and cereal--and pb&js. Some days there's lots of fighting since mom's too out of it to intervene. Other days we have some great sister moments as they all realize they only have each other! More movies than I'd like to admit especially when the fighting is too much because it's too dang hot to go outside. Ryan's doing amazing holding down his job and then arriving home to pick up the pieces of what's left of his not-so-adorable family and home!

But history shows that we pull through somehow with very cute results on the other maybe we'll just try to focus on that and ignore the temporary chaos!

I'm counting down to the end of September when I hope to at least take control of parts of my life again! Fingers crossed we don't all go insane before then!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Busch Gardens trip #2

We're becoming pro's at this Busch Gardens thing!

At the entrance the girls all grab their own map and negotiate which things they want to go to and what order we should do the rides in.

We even knew to bring swim stuff for the splash parks.
So this time the wet hair in pictures is actually from water not sweat!

Cute Alice dancing with the Sesame Street gang in the background.

And of course, more fun rides and good memories!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

Our great friends and neighbors have 3 boys. On the fourth of July we all came outside to pop those little thing-ys that you throw on the ground. So much fun! Both families happened to have our 3 kids matching and, it's no perfect smiling picture but it's not often we get all 6 busy bodies in one picture frame--and they've never been coordinated before!!!

A family that we go to church with has a house that backs up to a golf course. About 200 yards away is a big firework launch. So every year hundreds of us walk through their back yard onto the golf course, Set up our chairs and wait for it to get dark. It's the perfect length and we're home 5 minutes later! Fun times

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Day Well Spent

At the end of the day I look about,

and all the things I didn't complete are there for all to see.

While what I did do goes unnoticed, even by myself.

The meals consumed, The clothes in the closets,

The listening ear, The bumps kissed, The hugs,

The baby smiles on a swing.

At the end of the day I am tired and discouraged;

The mending still sits, This room is too cluttered,

The sheets unchanged, The dust undisturbed.

Dear Lord, please help me remember I am only one person with a big job.

Help me to see what I did do as clearly as I now see what I didn’t do

so that I may rest through the night in peace

after a well-spent day.

(I can't find a author name for this....
but it's on my fridge this week and reminds me that I do get a lot done each day regardless of what I see at night!!!)

Friday, July 16, 2010


So I guess this is from May, but I missed it....we spent memorial day weekend painting some rooms that we have procrastinated for almost 6 years.

Stairwells are just intimidating to deal with. We had this lovely paisley boarder and chair rail with more wall paper below (I forgot to snap a before pic). It was just really ugly and out-dated. The walls were a beige but it has always looked way to pink-ish to me.

So....some tricky manovering on a tall ladder & demolition of the chair rail finally produced a neutral stairwell that I love. Now to figure out how to fill the large walls with some sort of art...

Our teeny-tiny kids bathroom was bright/dark blue with more wall paper boarders (the previous owners loved wall paper boarders). I've always wanted to re-do it but the thought of having to paint 100 coats of primer to cover up the color was overwhelming. In the end it wasn't too bad and I'm so happy it is neutral although Maya is disgusted with my "boring" color choice and refused to use it for a couple of weeks.

We also framed the bathroom mirror in the master bath using molding--super easy and cheap upgrade! More uses for molding coming up as I finish them...


Now onto actual June events...

Our playgroup arranged a tour of our county landfill. I've seriously wanted to do this for so long! Truth be told, it was kind of boring for the kids but it was good motivation for me to do better with recycling. And who knew they could make trash from the last 30 year look so scenic?!?!

During the last week of school Hayley was in the school's multi-cultural fashion show. Last year she wore my British school uniform. This year she showed of an outfit from Ryan's uncle's family who live in China.

School finished late here in VA. Hayley had an awesome 1st grade year.
But we were happy to see June 18th finally roll around and summer begin!


Ryan's sister, Rhonda, her husband Greg, and their two darling girls Ruby and Cora came to visit. It was so fun to meet Cora and let the cousins reconnect.

Ruby and Alice are the same age. They were a cute little pair.
One hot night they had to wait for Hayley and Maya's to have their swim lessons.
They found the little foot shower on the side and ended up stripping down and having a blast!

No family can visit in the summer time without a trip to our favorite ice-cream stand: JoJo's

We ended the week of their visit with a big BBQ and water balloon launchers at G'mas house

That's one way to pop them?!?!

Sweet little baby Cora!


Busch Gardens Amusement Park

There's a super-fun, clean, family friendly amusement park about 2 hours from us.

We never thought that an amusement park would be fun with little kids but this place is our 2010 family vacation....over and over again.
We got season tickets (same price as 1-day!) and we've been going on day trips there every couple of weeks.

There are so many kiddie rides, splash parks to cool us down and amazingly fun shows to watch. My personal favorite is the Irish Dancing show.