Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Third Trimester

Yesterday was the beginning of my third trimester.  I haven't done a very good job of writing about this pregnancy (or either of the others), so I thought I'd take some time for that.  The morning sickness subsided significantly around 13-weeks.  Since then, I've had a lot more days than not where I have been totally exhausted.  For those of you who haven't experienced it or can't remember it, let me try to describe pregnancy exhaustion:  it's like the feeling you have after working a long day, staying up way too late, sleeping poorly, then working another long day, except that you feel that way when you wake up in the morning after a full night's sleep.  Some hours, I feel so tired I think just making it up the stairs is more than I can do.  Once in a while, I'll have a "normal" day, where I feel relatively energetic, get a lot done, and have a lot of fun with the boys.  I am very grateful for these days (or parts of days), both physically and psychologically, because I feel like myself again and I have hope that "myself" will return full force someday :)  But the other days, I am basically dragging myself through everything I do.  I do my best to do everything with a good attitude and a "cheerful heart" (as I'm always saying to the boys), but there is definitely a spark missing.  In spite of all this, it is usually pretty easy for me to adjust my perspective and be thankful even for the fatigue and discomfort, because it is all so much better than being nauseated all of the time.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Day In the Life Of...

This is the third year in a row that I have sat down near the turning of the year and typed up a play-by-play of my life as a stay-at-home mom.  (For the exceptionally curious, here are links to the 2008 and 2010 posts.)  This is long and detailed, and not for the casual reader, but I love having a verbal snapshot of what our days are like each year.  Here goes...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

5:40 AM  I wake up very reluctantly to Ethan calling "Mommy!  Mommy!"  I stumble into his room and he whispers, "I'm cold, can you lay the blanket flat on me?"  I cover him up and start to head back to bed when he says, "Mommy, could you please lay down in my bed and sleep with me for one minute?"  I realize that he is probably not going back to sleep either way, but there is a little better chance if I lay down with him, so I consent and cuddle in his bed with him for a few minutes.

6:00 AM  I give up on Ethan going back to sleep and we both get up.  I open the blinds in the boys' room and leave the door open, in hopes that Caleb will wake up soon and then be tired enough to nap with Ethan this afternoon (which he hasn't done all week).  When we get downstairs, Ethan wants to be held so he can choose his cereal out of the upper pantry.  He chooses Chocolate Bunches of Oats, dried fruit and a cup of milk for breakfast.  I fix his food and put it in front of him, then go upstairs and use the bathroom, brush my teeth and put in my contacts.

6:15 AM  I hear a crash and come down to see that Ethan has accidentally knocked his bowl of cereal on the floor.  Thankfully, he didn't want milk on it this morning so it is easy to clean up.  I sweep up the mess, give him more cereal, chew up my vitamins and pour myself a bowl of cereal.  I take my cereal downstairs and get on the computer to write a quick blog post about the boys climbing trees.

6:35  AM  Just as I hit "publish," Ethan wails.  He has finished his breakfast and joined me in the play room.  The wail is because he accidentally stepped on the lid of a toy container and hurt his foot.  I hold him while he whimpers for a minute, and then go get his "night-night" for him at his request.

6:45 AM  Marcus comes down dressed for work while Ethan and I are cuddling.  Marcus gives Ethan a toy camera that he fixed for him last night and Ethan's good mood is restored.  He climbs off my lap and goes to take pictures.  I feed the dogs and then go upstairs to wake up Caleb and collect a load of laundry to put in.

6:55 AM  Caleb beats my back downstairs and asks for breakfast, so I put down the huge load of laundry I'm carrying to fix his food.  He asks for waffles and I remember that there are some leftover waffles in the freezer from the batch I made yesterday, so I pop two in the toaster and pour his milk.  He is a little grumpy (as usual in the morning), so I have him repeat his grumpy comments & questions in a pleasant voice several times.  While Caleb eats his waffles (Ethan has one, too), we go over our days of the week, months, weather, seasons, memory verse, good habits, address, phone number and birthdays and then recite the Lord's Prayer together.

7:10 AM  The boys head into the living room to play with their trains while I resume my laundry trip to the garage.  I get the laundry sorted and start the first load when I hear a wail from the living room.  Two boys come sprinting downstairs, one with a train in hand and the other bent on violence.  We talk through the dispute and it appears that Caleb is more in the wrong.  He sits in time out, then apologizes to his brother.  Ethan forgives him readily and then gives him the train that they were previously disputing over and the play resumes happily

7:25 AM  I get my workbook from the ladies' class I'm in at church and do a few pages of homework in the living room while the boys play.

7:50 AM  Caleb climbs on the couch to jump and is reminded that he is too big to jump from couch to couch.  This is something I just decided a couple of days ago, and he looks genuinely sad and even says quietly, "I don't want to grow bigger.  I get too big to do all the fun things!"  I put my workbook and Bible down and take the kids downstairs to show them pictures of Alabama Adventure (the local theme & water park that we have season tickets for this summer) to remind him of the advantages of getting bigger.  Then the boys want to play with the dogs in the garage, so I move the car out of the garage.  While they play with the dogs and ride their bikes in circles, I sweep out the garage (one of today's several cleaning tasks) and move the load of laundry over.  I also call my OB's office and make my first prenatal appointment in 3 months.

8:30 AM  The boys watch Dinosaur Train on PBS while I take a shower and get dressed for the day.

9:00 AM  We head upstairs to do our morning homeschooling stuff.  The boys tidy up their rooms while I fold a load of their laundry and put it away.  Caleb is resistant to cleaning up his assigned area, so I spank him twice before he will get to work. When they are done, Ethan gets out the Spanish workbooks and Caleb chooses which page we will practice that day.  He chooses "Mas Cosas," so we listen to that track on the CD twice and practice saying those 20 or so words.  Ethan wants to read books next, so both boys choose a book to read and I choose our unit book from Five In A Row, which is Katy and the Big Snow this week.  We read the books together and then Caleb asks if we can play a game next.  The boys choose Chutes and Ladders.  The game goes well and both boys do very well, both with counting and coping with the "ups and downs" of the game.  In the end, I win, and Caleb struggles internally with the loss.  He triumphs over his bad loser instinct though, and says, "Good game, Mommy."  Ethan doesn't care at all and is already playing with the marble race toy in their room.  While I clean up the game, Ethan suggests that we do Bible reading next and goes to get the Bibles.  I turn over the 5-minute sand timer and we all sit quietly "reading" our Bibles until the timer is done.  The boys show me which stories they have selected and I read both stories.  Ethan gets a little rambunctious toward the end of the second story and  starts pulling books off the bookshelf.  I redirect him to doing a puzzle and finish the second Bible story.  The last thing on the morning agenda is exercises.  We start with jumping jacks, which Caleb gets really into this morning and keeps jumping and counting all the way to 100 (Ethan and I stop around 25.)  I'd never heard him count past 40 independently before, so I was impressed.  We continue by doing leg lifts, push-ups, squats and all kinds of stretches.

11:00 AM  Back downstairs for an early lunch, since we didn't do a morning snack and we are all hungry.  I fix hot dogs (Hebrew National All-Beef), corn and grapes for the boys.  At first, Caleb complains about the food, since he is an extremely picky eater and doesn't like hot dogs or corn and wasn't in the mood for grapes.  I remind him that there are children all over the world who would give away their clothes to have this much good food.  He says nothing, but starts eating his food.  I guess both boys were listening to my little talk because they both volunteered several positive and thankful comments during lunch.  While the kids eat, I load & run the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, and fix myself a tuna salad sandwich.

11:20 AM  They finish just as my lunch is ready, so they go down to the play room and I eat my lunch in front of my computer and start to type up this blog.  The kids play with minimal conflict for about an hour, though Ethan does have to sit in timeout twice for knocking down Caleb's magnet towers and once for hitting Caleb. In between all the interjections of "Watch this, Mommy!" and "Can you open this, please, Mommy?" and "Will you help me with this?", I spend the rest of that hour blogging and backing up all the documents & pictures on my computer to an external hard drive (something I do about four times a year, since my computer is old and unreliable).  I also eat a slice of leftover apple pie :).  At one point, Ethan squeals in panic and tells me that something is stuck in his nose.  I look to see that he has put a small white cylinder-shaped Lego from one of Caleb's Lego sets into his nose.  I remove it quickly with tweezers and ask him why he did that.  He tells me that he wanted to be silly like the guy in Toy Story 3.  We talk about the importance of never putting anything in our noses or ears.

12:30 PM  We do a couple of things from the afternoon agenda: Music Time (listen to our Daily Songs playlist on iTunes and sing along) and Caleb's math lesson for the day, since I know we will have baths and getting ready for church after naptime.  The kids each get a quick snack before naps since lunch was so early today.

1:00 PM  Both boys go potty & Ethan brushes his teeth because he says they are yucky (he loves brushing his teeth).  Both kids get in bed and I tuck them in.  Caleb argues with me every step of the way, insisting that he doesn't need a nap.  I insist that he has to try, since we will be up late because of church tonight.  I come downstairs, move the laundry over, take the load out of the dryer, fold a few things, and hang up a few wet things from the other load that can't be dried.  Then I read today's chapters of Job in my chronological daily Bible.

1:30 PM  I go upstairs, hoping that Caleb went to sleep and I can now take a short nap.  Unfortunately, today is no different than any other day this week...he is lying wide awake in bed.  I tell him that he can get up and go play quietly in the playroom while Mommy rests.  I lay in bed resting, but not sleeping, for about 20 minutes.

1:55 PM  Caleb comes into my room and whispers, "Mommy, will you help me with the Lego thing I'm building?"  I sigh and head downstairs to join him, mentally noting that I need to wake Ethan up in 35 minutes (he is very difficult to get down at bedtime if he naps for more than an hour-and-a-half).  I help Caleb with the Legos, fix myself a snack, and write a little more of this blog.

2:30 PM  I wake Ethan up from his nap and fix a snack of Chex Mix and raisin bread toast for both boys.  While they eat, I empty the dishwasher and reload it with the lunch dishes.

3:00 PM  We get started on Table Time.  I print Caleb out a color-by-number with seven colors.  He colors it perfectly with colored pencils, not a jot outside the lines, working on it for 40 minutes straight.  Ethan uses a yellow marker to color a different color-by-number in about ten minutes, paying no attention to the lines or numbers :)  Ethan then plays with Tinker Toys while Caleb colors.  I tidy up the play room.

3:45 PM Caleb is still only half-done with his picture, but I ask him if he wants to finish it later.  He decides he does want to do something else, so I take out the stack of twenty 3-letter-word flash cards and we do his reading practice.  He does very well today, both in attitude and skill.  He doesn't get upset when he makes a mistake, and gets most of the words right on the first try.

4:00 PM Ethan picks out a few toys to take upstairs for his bath.  Caleb stays in the play room to build a Lego sled and man while Ethan and I go upstairs.  I get Ethan in the bath.  Ethan, who LOVES bath time, plays for about 25 minutes while I put on make-up and fold some laundry.  Caleb calls me from downstairs to help him with the Legos.  I tell him to bring them upstairs, which he does, and I help him with the part he's stuck on.

4:30 PM I get Ethan out of the bath, drain the water, and start running Caleb's bath.  After Caleb is in, I get Ethan dressed for church and then look through two sets of Baby Einstein flash cards with him.  He is very proud of himself for recognizing his numbers and does a good job counting items on the cards.  Then I get Caleb out of the bath, set out his clothes and tell him to get dressed for church.  I look at my phone to see a missed call and text from a friend who is sick, so I call her back and chat for a few minutes.  Ethan deliberately exasperates his brother several times while I'm on the phone, impudently ignoring my warning looks and words, so he gets a spanking when I get off.

5:00 PM  Both boys are ready for church, so I send them to play in different rooms while I cook dinner.  This is a regular preemptive move that I use to avoid conflict while I am trying to cook.  My energy-level and patience-level are at their low points during this hour, so it goes better for all of us if there is no conflict.  I dice and saute the chicken for the quesadillas and cut up an avocado. About halfway through cooking, the boys sweet-talk me into letting them play together, assuring me that they will be good and not fight.  They keep their word and play nicely until dinner is ready.

6:00 PM  The boys and I sit down to eat dinner.  Marcus calls about five minutes later saying he is on his way home.  I finish eating, clean up, and then pack Marc's dinner to be eaten on the road, since we will have to leave for church as soon as he pulls in.

6:25 PM  Marcus walks in.  I pull the car into the garage, we load up and all leave for church.  Marcus eats his quesadillas in the car.

8:35 PM  Pull back in the garage after church.  Kids had a great time at church, but, unfortunately are pretty wired and not very tired-looking.  (It is amazing to me that my 4-year-old can go from 6:45 AM until 9:00 PM with no nap and without ever looking or acting tired, and that my 2-year-old can get up an hour earlier, take a 90-minute nap, and be just as alert and happy at 9:00 as his brother.)  We head straight upstairs, I get the kids to brush their teeth and go potty, and then get their pajamas on in their room.  Daddy comes in and reads their two books to them, tucks them in their beds and hands them back over to me.  I cuddle in bed with Caleb for a few minutes, whispering with him about his day and praying with him.  Then I do the same with Ethan.

9:00 PM  Caleb falls asleep while I'm finishing up with Ethan.  I kiss Ethan good night, tiptoe the six or seven steps from Ethan's bed to mine, and collapse on top of my bed, fully-clothed, contacts in, no covers, etc.  I intended just to rest for a minute, but I guess my body took over because that is the last thing I remember.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Little Monkeys

On Sunday afternoon, Marcus took the boys outside with him to rake leaves.  At some point, they figured out that one of the small trees in our front yard is perfect for climbing.  Marcus assured me he was spotting them the whole time :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Eventful Small Group Meeting

Last night, it was our turn to host our small group meeting.  To give you a little background...At the end of every "semester", we discuss as a group some tweaking that can be done to better meet everyone's needs & preferences for the following semester.  One of the tweaks for this spring was to have a different family prepare the entire meal once a month, so that everyone else can just come and enjoy the fellowship without  having to cook.  Since we were signed up for January, our family had the first turn for this endeavor.  The plan was for everyone to arrive around 4:00 pm, start the Bible Study at 4:30, and then eat and visit from 5:30 to 7:00.

I didn't initially intend to do as much cooking as I ended up doing, but Marcus had to go into work on Saturday, so the boys and I were at home all day with very little housework or homeschooling to do.  The boys enjoyed a free-play-at-home day (and were extremely good and low maintenance all day!) while I enjoyed a cooking & baking day.  I started out by making two pumpkin pies, followed by two apple pies (which the boys helped with).  Next, I prepared the Italian sausage/beef/marinara sauce that would later go in the lasagna.  It took about 45 minutes to do the stovetop part of the meat sauce, and then I poured it all in the crock pot to cook for four more hours.  Later that afternoon, when the meat sauce was done, I spent another hour layering the two lasagnas.  On Sunday afternoon, I made the green bean casserole (with from-scratch cream sauce!) and finished cleaning the house.  I intended to cook chicken nuggets (for the kids) and crescent rolls during the Bible study.

At about 3:45, the first family arrived.  Marcus and I, as usual, were still in a flurry of last-minute preparations (especially since the kids and I had just woken up from our nap about 30 minutes earlier).  As the second and third families were arriving, I turned the oven on to preheat for the lasagnas.  A few minutes later, our very sensitive kitchen smoke alarm went off and I realized that there were some apple pie drippings that were burning off the bottom of the oven.  Since we didn't have time to cool the oven down for a full cleaning, we opened the doors and windows and decided to let the drippings burn off.  Just this situation (a smoky, stinky kitchen) with twenty guests in my house was enough to put a serious damper on my well-planned evening.  But this was just the beginning.  After several minutes of smoke seeping visibly and steadily through the cracks of my oven, I opened it slightly to see an open flame burning impudently in the bottom of the oven.  I grabbed the kitchen fire extinguisher off the wall and handed it to my best friend, who wisely suggested that we should first remove the lasagnas from the oven.  By the time I had the two casserole dishes out of the oven, the flame had subsided some and Quenta was able to blow it the rest of the way out.

Marcus was the next worker on the scene.  He quickly removed two screws from the base of the still-hot oven so he could slide out the bottom panel and see what in the world was catching fire in our oven.  It turned out to be just what we thought, a small pile of apple pie filling that was just large enough to ignite and make a LOT of smoke.  Marcus and I cleaned the burnt mess out of the bottom of the (still-hot) oven while the other adults did their best to keep the ten preschoolers out of the kitchen and under control (no easy task)  When the oven was as clean as we could get it, Marcus put everything back together again and replaced the screws.  Glad to finally be back on track, albeit 30 minutes behind schedule, I turned the oven back on and put the lasagnas back in.

Within five minutes, to our chagrin, there was once again an open flame burning in the bottom of the oven, this time much larger and alarming.  We quickly removed the lasagnas and had the fire extinguisher in hand, but Marcus was able to subdue this fire with cups of water.  At this point, thinking there was something serious wrong with the oven, we began to discuss the logistics of getting pizza.  While these discussions were going on, Marcus began disassembling the oven once again, only to discover a mostly-burned hot pad that had been accidentally "installed" into the bottom of the oven during the first hectic reassembly process.  In Marcus' defense, it was a crazy environment to be doing any kind of repair (10 preschoolers running around!), and the hot pad was a very dark color just like the base of the oven.  Marcus is typically extremely thorough and methodical about fixing things, and he had never done anything like that before.

Anyway, now that we knew the cause of the second fire, we decided to herd the kids into the play room and go ahead with our Bible study while Marcus cleaned up and reassembled the oven a second time.  From this point, the evening actually went very well, despite the rough start.  The adults had a good discussion while the kids played downstairs with Mr. Tim (who later said he was cured of wanting a third child).  The lasagnas finally enjoyed a peaceful, smoke-free hour in the oven, and I was able to make the chicken nuggets and crescent rolls as the discussion was winding down.  The kids ate their meal first (due to limited seating) and then we sent them back downstairs to watch a movie while we enjoyed our meal and dessert.  The lasagna turned out to be the best I've ever made, which we all jokingly attributed to the secret ingredient of burnt hot pad smoke.

So I survived the first fire in my kitchen (and then the second fire in my kitchen) with twenty people in my house.  Thankfully, they were all very good friends, and everyone thought the whole thing was hilarious.  I guess that is better than the first kitchen fire happening when nobody was home :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Homeschooling Update

This post is in response to your question, Katherine (though, I admit, I don't need much encouragement to talk about it).

Though my original homeschooling plans that I posted about back in August were slightly derailed by morning sickness, we got back on track in early November and things have been going well since then.  The routine/agenda has not changed much, but I'll type it up again since it's been six months.  Our day usually goes something like this:

During breakfast, we use a learning calendar to practice weekdays, months, seasons and weather.  I also have a binder that we go through that includes the Lord's Prayer, this week's memory verse, our address & phone numbers, birthdays, and a section of good and bad habits that we discuss each morning.  (I type these habit sheets up and add clip art based on whatever I think needs some attention at the time, i.e. washing hands, flushing potty, chewing with mouth closed, making eye contact, etc.)

Sometime during the morning hours, worked in around the kids playing, running errands, and me doing housework, we make our way up to their bedroom for these activites:

Get Ready--Get dressed, brush teeth & hair, tidy room, make bed
Bible Reading--Mommy reads her Bible silently while boys look at picture Bibles and each choose a story
Bible Story--Mommy reads chosen stories to boys
Exercise--Push-ups, abs, squats, jumping jacks, stretches, etc.
Read--Read Five in a Row book and other books aloud
Spanish--Listen to Hear Say CD, look at pictures in workbook and practice saying words
Games/Puzzles--Play board or card game and/or do floor puzzles together

After school time in their room, we go downstairs for more play time and (usually) 30 minutes of PBS (favorite shows are Curious George, Caillou, Dinosaur Train & Super Why).  Next is lunch and then naps, though Caleb usually only naps once or twice a week.  After nap time, we work in these afternoon activities between playing outside, taking baths, preparing dinner, tidying the play room and any remaining housework.  (On the days Caleb doesn't nap, I try to do his math and phonics lessons while Ethan is sleeping).

Table Time--Alternate coloring, scissors & glue, handwriting, drawing, painting, etc.
"FIAR" Activity--Alternate subject lessons throughout week from Five in a Row and sight word flash cards reading practice (Caleb)
Math--math workbook followed by a PBS math game on computer (Caleb)
Music--sing along with daily song list (custom made on iTunes) and then listen to varied music while playing

I only try to get through all of this stuff four days a week and reserve one day for play dates, mornings at the park or other "field trip" outings.  I'm pretty flexible about the agenda, since this is just preschool, and we frequently skip an item or two to make room for a doctor's appt, trip to the library for story time or something else that comes up.  (I just try not to skip the same thing more than once in a while.)  Up to this point, the kids enjoy all or most of what we do each day. For me, I love having a flexible schedule and being able to participate in their learning.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Years Eve & A Birthday Party

We welcomed in the year 2011 at the home of our BFF's, the Pollard's.  Marcus and I picked up Chinese take-out on our way to their house, which, apparently is a popular thing around here.  There is usually no line at our favorite Chinese take-out place, but there were NINE people in line when we pulled up.  We fed the kids PB&J and enjoyed our delicious and economical Asian cuisine.  Our boys were beat from a long, napless day, so we put them to bed shortly after dinner while the triplets watched a movie and the adults enjoyed some grown-up time.  Not naturally a night owl, and even less so when pregnant, I was happy that I actually made it up until midnight (and even a little after).  Of course, Marcus and Al stayed up even later playing their PS3.

The following weekend (this past Friday), we celebrated Quenta's 40th birthday party by having a sleepover with all the girls in our small group.  It was like a mini-retreat to have so many good friends (and no men or children) under one roof.  True to the 15-year-old spirit of the night, the group decided it would be hilarious to drive over to our minister's house at midnight and set up Quenta's blow-up snowman as a Saturday-morning surprise for him and his family.  Being generally a more cautious person, I was a little uncertain about the wisdom of this venture, but I didn't want to be the party-pooper at my BFF's birthday party, so I went along.  

It turned out that our plan had not considered the possibility that our minister, his wife, and two of his teenage kids would all still be awake and about the house at midnight!  They heard us setting up the snow man in the front yard (thanks to one female giggle that, for once, was not mine) and came out on the porch to chat!  Mrs. B had made cookies earlier that day and so she invited us in for cookies and hot chocolate.  Our clandestine plan completely shot, we laughed and filed sheepishly in the house.  It turned out to be a really cool visit because the family's youngest daughter had torn her ACL in a basketball game that evening, and they were all discouraged and worried about that.  Gary and Carol said that our silly visit really cheered them up and even made their evening.  I teased him that it had to be an ego boost to know that a bunch of women could have a slumber party and the most fun thing they could think of to do was crashing their preacher's house. (He got the last word by thanking each of us ladies by name for our unexpected visit during church Sunday morning.)  

So here we are, in our jackets and our pajamas, with our senior minister and his wife (far right), and Frosty the Snowman.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Ethan (Monthly Update)

Ethan is 2 years and 9 months old now.  In addition to his trip to the emergency room a couple of weeks ago (by the way, his limp has been completely gone for days now), Ethan's other medical issue this month has been the return of his ear infections. He had 4-5 ear infections from age 4 months to age 10 months.  He had tubes put in his ears just before he turned 11-months-old, and we have been almost ear-infection-free for almost two years now (one exception last February).  In my last update, I mentioned that Ethan had been acting out a lot in early December (including deliberately pushing the Christmas tree over). The morning after the Christmas tree incident, he woke up crying and complaining about his ear, so I took him to the pediatrician and found out that he had a bad double ear infection.  Ethan tends to deal with pain or discomfort by being extra mischievous (as opposed to whining and complaining like his big brother), so I'm sure his ears were a big contributing factor to that week of challenging behavior.

We started his course of antibiotics and both ear infections cleared up quickly. Less than two weeks after he finished his antibiotics, he woke up with another ear infection, this one painful enough that he cried for over an hour about his ear after a nap, (until the ibuprofen kicked in and made him feel better). He is currently on the second course of antibiotics. Since the tubes were so successful last time, I would like to go ahead and get them again now, but the pediatrician wants to wait until Ethan gets one more ear infection (and one more round of antibiotics) before making that move.

So, other than the recent health issues, Ethan has had a good month. The behavior problems I mentioned before disappeared as soon as the first ear infection cleared up, and he has been back to his passionate, fun-loving, people-pleasing self.  Since he loves people and any kind of party, he had a great time during both Christmas celebrations.  His memory about who gave him what is surprisingly accurate, and he often tacks the giver's name onto an item that he is talking about: "I was playing with my new flash light that Uncle Mike gave me and I shined it at Caleb's shirt and..." He is still dry at night most of the time, and he fights bedtime much less than he did just a couple of months ago.  He is still eating much less than he used to, but he has not mentally adjusted to that change: he still asks for food all the time, but then takes 2-3 bites of what I fix and says he is full.  There is almost always a bowl or plate at his seat of something for him to finish "later."

We are back into our homeschooling routine full swing after the holidays, and both boys are once again spending a couple of hours a day at the craft table: coloring, painting, drawing, cutting, gluing, writing, tracing, etc.  Ethan loves doing "school" stuff with Caleb, and, for the most part, I am able to give him a scaled-down way to participate in all the preschool stuff Caleb does.  He wouldn't have it any other way :)

Enjoy the pictures of all of us at Nanna & Papa's hotel pool:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bunk Bed Fun

The kids absolutely love their new bunk beds!  They have been set up for 12 days now, and, so far, all of our parental hopes have been fulfilled.  The kids are happy to sleep in their room (except for the first night of an ear infection for Ethan), bed time is smooth and enjoyed by all involved, Caleb can fall asleep even while Ethan is chatting to himself at night, the boys are enjoying the bonding benefits of sharing a room without having "access" to each other when they are supposed to be sleeping, and their room looks GREAT!  We have lots more floor space in their bedroom for doing the puzzles, games and exercises that are part of our morning routine.  And I don't know if it is exhaustion from the holidays or fighting off winter viruses or the bunk beds, but nap time has made a comeback since we got home from Florida.  Both boys are napping every day for at least an hour, and still going to bed by 8:00 every night.  Morning is still around 6:00 am (give or take 30 minutes), but that has always been true no matter what we do during the day.   The only thing that isn't fun is changing the top bunk bedding, but it is definitely worth it for all of the other pluses.  Thanks so much for a great Christmas gift, Nanna & Papa!

(FYI, there is a picture of Ethan on the top bunk on Christmas morning, but the house rule is that Ethan is not allowed on the top bunk at all.  Two little boys that high off the floor is a formula for disaster :) 


Monday, January 3, 2011

Campbell Christmas

For Campbell Christmas this year, Nanna and Papa came to Birmingham to spend Christmas weekend with us.  Despite Ethan's temporary handicap, we still all had a very enjoyable Christmas. Since we still only have one working bathroom (still can't afford the $3K to fix the master shower that sprung a leak this spring), Nanna and Papa stayed at a nearby hotel.  Their hotel had a small heated pool (with an adjoining hot tub), which turned out to be very useful for burning off Ethan's ample energy combined with his limited mobility.  We spent several hours every day at that pool.  When we weren't at the hotel pool, we were playing at our house, at church, or eating out at one of several favorite restaurants.

On a side note, I was totally spoiled this Christmas by not having to do any cooking!  I was pretty tired from our trip to Florida, so Dad just ended up taking us out to eat every day that they were here.  Since they were visiting us, I felt bad about him paying and tried unsuccessfully to beat him to the check/register.  In a final attempt, I wrote a check for one meal that he'd already paid for and gave it to Mom to give to him (he wouldn't take it from me).  On Christmas morning, I found that check voided inside our Christmas money envelope :)  It was really, really nice to eat so well without my financial conscious nagging me the whole time, and it was also really nice, in light of my pregnancy fatigue, to avoid cooking big meals.

For Christmas Eve, we all attended the Christmas Eve candlelight service at our church.  It was a very good service, and we all especially enjoyed getting to see/hear Caleb sing a couple of Christmas songs with the Children's Chorus.  After the service, we all headed back to our house where Nanna and the boys watched The Polar Express together while Papa and Marcus (secretly) carried in and set up the bunk beds in the boys' bedroom.  While the men were setting up, I typed up and hid the clues for the scavenger hunt and rearranged the smaller things in the boys' room.  When the room and the movie were done, we put Caleb & Ethan to bed in our bed as a "special treat," said goodnight to Nanna and Papa, and finished up the Christmas Eve preparations (stockings, presents under the tree, etc.).

Christmas morning, the kids were up (as usual) around 6:45. Nanna and Papa arrived from the their hotel just a few minutes after the kids woke up, so we started the festivities with the bunk bed scavenger hunt.  They loved their new beds from the first moment, and the new arrangement has been a huge success since then.  I've got another post in the works just about the bunk beds, so I'll say more about that later.  After the bunk bed hunt, we enjoyed a big Christmas breakfast of bacon, eggs and (Caleb's favorite) biscuits.  The boys opened their stocking presents with Nanna and Marcus while Papa and I cooked breakfast.  After breakfast, we opened the gifts under the tree.  Just like during their "first" Christmas, I was very happy to see their sincere pleasure and gratitude at each gift.  (I have a morbid fear of my kids being spoiled, and I am definitely one of those parents who would take a present away in a flash if anything but thankfulness was displayed.)

The rest of our Christmas is pretty well described in the pictures below.  Thanks, Mom & Dad, for a very enjoyable weekend!

Papa & Caleb building a Lego helicopter together.
Nanna and boys decorating a gingerbread house.
Papa carrying "lame" Ethan through the steps of the scavenger hunt.
Boys & Nanna playing with the new marble maze from Mimi.
Caleb singing in the Children's Chorus at the Christmas Eve service.
Boys listening to a clue for the bunk bed scavenger hunt.
Caleb passing out presents from under the tree.
Caleb opening stocking presents.
Ethan, getting right to work after opening new dry erase markers from his stocking.
Boys playing with the Batman castle and accessories from Mimi.
Ethan wielding Iron Man gear from cousins Bennett & Jasper.