Saturday, February 27, 2010

Running, falling and having fun

We went to a maple syrup making demo thing at a local farm. Well, it was about 35 minutes from here (according to mapquest, however we got lost and it took us more like 50 minutes... but who's counting). Now admittedly Steve had his doubts when I mentioned this family adventure (anything like this with three kids, two of which are two year old twins, is categorized as an 'adventure'), namely regarding the twins and how that would work. Secretly I had them too, but knew that they would have fun running (if nothing else), so we just needed to buck up, put on our running shoes and take all three.

I love this farmer and his organic produce, grass fed beef and syrup. I met him at our local farmer's market this year (he's been there for a while, I just started to frequent the market this year). He has many of these type events at the farm, but this was the first one we have had a chance to attend. In my head it was a bit different than what it actually turned out to be. Regardless, the kids all had a blast. Not necessarily learning about how you make maple syrup (crazy by the way how much sap it takes to get one measly pint of syrup), but more the running in the mounds of snow with Jules the golden retriever who, much to their glee, loved to catch snowballs. Oh, and of course the pancakes and syrup were a big hit too.

Here are some (okay, a boatload... but they are stinking cute, how can I not) photos of the snow fun and giggles they had:
They LOVED Jules, here they are running after her.

Running as soon as we got there.

Collin was all about Jules. One time, when he was petting her, another person came up and Jules went to her to be pet (she was a very friendly people loving dog) and Collin's bottom lip puffed out. He was so hurt that she left him.

Check out the size of that snow ball... my little tiny he-man!

I was off buying beef when they were eating, so I snapped this after they were done. Ethan was sad because he wanted more whole wheat (milled on the farm) pancakes.

Oliver climbed and fell down every mound - loving it.

Yes, those are Ethan's feet.

And this is the mound of Ethan after that. Pure joy.

How could three boys, getting to be boys, not love today?

Friday, February 26, 2010

The letter O

What do you bring to preschool when it is your letter day, that letter is O and you have to share something from home that starts with that letter?

Your brother Oliver, of course!
As soon as Ethan discovered a few weeks ago that he was assigned share day for the letter O at preschool, he knew exactly what he wanted to bring for share day and was asking us to do so. Okay, he was adamant about it and Oliver was undeniably excited to be his brother's share as well. How can you not accommodate that?

Today was that O day. Erin brought Oliver into the classroom right before lunch. She said Ethan said all matter of fact: "This is my letter O share, my brother Oliver." From the photos I can see they were both beaming, just as I knew they would be.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snuggling and building: grandpa style

Grandpa Ron came down last weekend for a quick visit to see the kids. Unfortunately, much like our shopping trip before he arrived, the kids were in rare form... ALL weekend. When we offered to ship the kids down to Florida for some quality grandparent time, he declined... quickly. Wimp.

It was too cute to see Oliver decide to snuggle with grandpa while watching TV.

And comical to hear Ethan and grandpa build the batcave together. Ethan has a wonderful imagination, but his building style can be very minimalist. Grandpa is an idea implanter with heavy directive undertones. Together they built a great batcave which Ethan insisted we did NOT take down or touch for days.

Thank you for visiting grandpa! Sorry it was a little less than calm and relaxed, but it's your fault for wishing paybacks when we were kids. Maybe when you were uttering the words "just wait until you have kids..." you should have specified said paybacks not occur during your visits. Just saying...

We really enjoyed having you and the boys look forward to snuggling, building and coloring again with you!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

What was I thinking?

I did a brave thing on Saturday, I took all three kids to the grocery store by myself. Okay, it could also be classified as stupid too. However, Grandpa Ron was coming to visit and we did not have the staple item that he would want upon arrival, a fifth of Jack. Just kidding, I've never even seen him drink hard alcohol, I just wanted to see if you were really reading this. Actually what we didn't have was diet soda, a must for Grandpa Ron. Steve was not home and I thought: "what the heck, it's been a while, surely they'll be fine. I only need a few items after all."

Here's the thing, the twins are not fans of the double seat grocery carts. Specifically they both try to fall out of them. Not even try to get out, by unlatching themselves, more they try to lean over and fall out while whining and crying. To add to this, Oliver is not a fan of stopping - at any time. Which is unfortunate since I occasionally cannot run by the shelf and grab the needed item, but instead have to stop the cart and look. Naturally, when your child is screaming at the top of his lungs, it takes forever to locate that one blasted item that normally you can locate right away without issue. Not to mention that while I am frantically scanning the shelves, Collin is loading up the cart unbeknownst to me. Actually, this particular day, I was tipped off by his loading of the cart since Ethan insisted on riding in the cart area and therefore was being pelted by incoming product that Collin was lobbing into the cart quickly (so I wouldn't see it) and with great force.

I even tried to run back and forth by the areas that contained the desired products, so as to not stop and upset Oliver and also not give Collin a chance to load the cart, all while I was scanning the shelf at every pass for the needed item. Unfortunately, the cart is twice as long as a normal cart and maneuverability is not key a feature, so it didn't go so well. I'm sure those of who where not in my path thought it was hilarious to watch though.

Are you starting to form a visual of all this? This is what people saw: one screaming tear stained red faced completely melting down child, one child happily lobbing food into the cart that his older brother was lounging in and that said older brother is yelling "OUCH! STOP THAT!", all while the frantic crazy-eyed, profusely sweating, singing, dancing, trying to say soothing things, while catching flying product, mom is attempting to find those few fricking items she needs. It was a lovely trip.

Yes, I tried talking to Oliver softly and kissing him, it didn't work. I tried letting him look at the fish tanks (pet variety), which happen to border the main aisle of the store we went to, but that only appeased him until we left, at which point the screaming resumed AND went up a few more decibels. I tried having Ethan make him laugh or distract him, which he graciously tried do do, but Oliver had nothing of it. I tried taking off his hat and coat to make him more comfortable, based on his screaming "NOOOOO!!!!!" I determined that was not a good idea. I even gave him something to hold: a can of black beans. Let's just say there is now a rather large dent in the floor where those hit (hey, I was stressed... I wasn't thinking). I tried singing and dancing for him, just as he normally likes it, very silly and animated (trust me, you lose many things when you become a mother, pride in some senses in one), he was not amused as he normally is. It was all futile.

To all of you who gave me "the look" - you know who you are - I invite you to try it. It's likely you don't have children or if you do it's just one, which is a far cry from three... specifically two year old twins... specifically all boys. Got it?! To those of you who gave me the knowing sympathetic look, trying to pull Oliver from his abyss, thank you. I appreciate your understanding.

To my precious little ones, if you ever ask why you so rarely saw the inside of a grocery store, refer back to this story. Enough said.

Yes Michele, add this to the twin sweat list.

A photo of Oliver and Collin in the check out lane - stopped, of course. Much like the rest of the trip, Oliver is screaming and Collin is grabbing everything off the shelves and throwing it into the cart. Sigh... where is that fifth of Jack???

On a last note, our very sweet and very young cashier tried to help:

Our cashier: "You're too cute to be that upset little guy." (in a very caring sweet voice)

Oliver: "NO!!!!!" (shooting daggers at her that even made me jump out of the way)

Cashier in next aisle: "Um, maybe he just wants to be left alone."

Our cashier: "Yes, that thought occurred to me."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sometimes, you just have to...

let them eat waffles for dinner. Yes, that's right, I said eat waffles for dinner.

Today was a crabby, whiny, fighting over everything day. Not even naps helped. It was rough for everyone. There was a lot of crying and I am not just talking about Steve and I.

Partly from sheer desperation, partly from holiday spirit and partly from personal nostalgia, I made a strategic move for dinner: homemade waffles. More specifically non-Wendyfied homemade waffles: no whole wheat flour, no ground flax seed, no wheat bran, no oatmeal, no nothing hidden in them... just normal waffles. They all gathered around to see what it was and the excitement grew at the first site of waffles coming from the waffle maker. Which brought me back in time to when my Aunt Becky used to make us waffles and how excited we were to see them. Only fitting that my waffle maker and the recipe were both gifts from her - thank you Aunt Becky. And no Grandma Mary, I did not serve the infamous peas with my waffles tonight, but I reserve the right to pick up on your tradition another time.

A chorus of "eat, eat!" and "I want waffles" and "are they ready yet" started once the first couple sets were off the maker and I was still preparing the rest, but that all stopped when the plates were placed before them. Dinner tonight was completely quiet. All we heard were some variations of "more please." Steve called it surreal and then asked if we could have waffles every night.

Happy Valentine's Day boys!

Friday, February 12, 2010

What is this?!

As you know, it was the big Valentine's Day party at Ethan's school. He was very excited and reported that it was a very good day. Since he had snack today (as you might recall), he was also the star at school today (a privilege of your snack day), so that made it a double good time. However, none of that held a candle to the anticipation of opening his Valentine's Card box and seeing what "treats" he had received. That was true jumping up and down, bouncing off walls, raw heart pounding excitement. Ahh, to be a kid again. So, after the twins' music therapy tonight, he and I opened the box.

It went something like this:

E: WOW! Look at all these treats! There's a lollipop... mom, do we like these? (hesitating for an answer only for a split second before he was distracted by another sweet) Oh, look m&ms!! And kisses! And chocolate hearts! Ooo, look at this - what is it mom?
M: Nerds.
E: What are Nerds?
M: Eww, you wouldn't like those (doing candy control of course).
E: Oh. Well, what is this mom?
M: Bottlecaps.
E: Do we like bottlecaps?
M: Do you want to eat a bottlecap? (saved by the name - that was easy!)
E: Oh... no. (giggle, giggle) Oooo look more chocolate and here's a heart gummy. And more lollipops, look mom four more!
M: Great (might have had a slightly sarcastic tone here).
E: Hmmm... what should I pick? I think I'll pick this chocolate heart for my after dinner treat. But can I have this treat I gave myself too? PLEASE?? (he insisted on addressing a valentine to himself also, so he could get one of his own treats)

After we went through the entire box and the gob loads of candy, I couldn't help but laugh to myself and think about this same moment at his classmate's houses:

Child: WOW! Look at all these treats! There's lots of lollipops, chocolates, gummy hearts. And LOOK! Bottlecaps! And Nerds! I love those! These are the best Valentine's... huh? Wait a minute, what is this thing? (the sound of happiness coming to a screeching halt reflected in the tone of their voice)
Parent: Organic Strawberry fruit leather.
Child: Fruit leather? Why would someone give me fruit leather for Valentine's Day?! It was probably Ethan's mom; you should see what she makes us for snacks! Yuck!

Yes, I am that mom. Seriously though, they are only four and five year olds. I never dreamed I would be the ONLY person to do a semi healthy Valentine's Day treat!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Valentine's Day snack: lessons learned

Whole wheat cranberry orange heart shaped scones... it sounded good. (keep in mind, snack is at 9:30am people... it can't be cupcakes with candy hearts and double icing... well it can be... but really...)

Lessons learned (didn't I just post something similar back at the Thanksgiving lunch/birthday snack day?!):
  1. Never EVER make something, which you have never made before, for the first time the night before your son's snack day. Especially if said son is VERY excited to help and therefore you can't ditch it, or make it again without him knowing (since it was already way past bedtime).

  2. Never ever get upset over your failed attempt in front of excited son. Just add stuff... in my case lots of flour since the dough was gooey instead of firm... and then add more stuff to compensate for whatever you added before... in my case lots of sugar glaze (which I never intended to use in the first place AND also did not turn out right! WTH?).

  3. Give up on being THAT mom that bakes all the yummy, yet healthy snacks... you (and by that I mean me) are just not that good of a cook, go to Panera or Whole Foods and buy something, then make it look like you made it. What?! I can't be THAT mom that buys all the snacks!

  4. When in doubt of recipe's success, make only what you need from it (number wise) and let son play with the rest of dough. (okay, he thought he was really still making them... and he had a blast)

  5. Just rid your mind of that nagging reoccurring image and sound bite of all the kids in your son's preschool class concurrently yelling "YUCK! What IS this?" *gag, spit, spit, gag* "Ethan your mom is not allowed to have snack EVER again!" (oh wait, aside from my little man feeling dissed, I kind of like the no snack scenario) Just pack a back up, pray it all goes well and move on (as if!).

  6. Why in the world do we ALWAYS have snack assigned to us on EVERY holiday (if we get Easter I am staging a formal protest)? Which is a lot of pressure, for the special kind of crazy like me, not to mention that there is also always a holiday lunch that day in which we have to make something as well. (and in this case, also, make a valentine box, address and sign valentine cards, etc). Okay this was more a vent then a lesson learned. Hey, it's my blog, and I'll vent if I want to! Uh... okay?

  7. Always stop, no matter how stressed, disappointed or upset you are, take in the moment and be in awe of your children. Ethan disappeared, while I was frantically trying to make the dough into something usable, and came back up in his play chef hat - proclaiming and referencing himself as the chef the entire time. Made me stop mid-stress moment... and laugh... and feel immense joy in all that is Ethan.

Ethan swinging a cloth around, trying to get them to cool off fast so he could eat one. He loved them by the way, but considering he also loves my spinach/kale/fruit smoothies... er... I mean straight-up fruit smoothies that I magically color green, that's not saying much.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Are you ready for some football?!

It's official. Ethan watched his first Superbowl game. Well, it was actually just the first half... shhhhhh. We are die hard (meaning we die hard every year) Brown's fans. Born and bred. Since the Brown's weren't playing (ah ha - Brown's and Superbowl don't even go together in the same sentence), Ethan had to pick a new favorite team. He decided on the Colts since they were blue and that is, after all, one of his favorite colors. Steve was rooting for the Saints, which didn't sway Ethan. As a matter of fact there were many times that Ethan was heckling Steve in a way when the Colts stopped a play. Mind you, Ethan has just started to pay a little attention to football this year. Not much, but some. He knows the Cincinnati "Dangels" (tee hee hee) and Browns of course. Oh, and OSU naturally.

Since he just started to watch and show any interest whatsoever, it was very funny and cute to see his excitement during the game. Granted some was just getting to stay up late with mom and dad, some (okay a lot) was surrounding the "treats" he had and some was for the actual game. Speaking of treats, Ethan had his first lil' smokie. I KNOW. Those are Steve's Superbowl thing - bbq lil' smokies - and as much as it pained me, the anti hot dog mom (especially ones like that), I let him take this strange rite of passage to man land. Sigh... He loved them, of course. He only had three. And some tortilla chips.

At the beginning of the game, trying to stay awake I am sure, he was doing cheers to root on the Colts. It was quite funny. And loud. Towards the end, he snuggled up with me. That was my favorite part.

I suspect next year, the twins will claim this right to watch the Superbowl too and we will be too old, weak and outnumbered at that point to argue. We recorded the first part of last night's Superbowl so we could bath the twins, read them books and put the them to bed. They, however, did not go to bed but instead had their own little Superbowl party in their room. Yelling, cheering and stripping were all part of their party, much like any other big game right? Well, minus the stripping... usually. Try to explain the to Oliver, though, who took his sleeper off three times last night. Boys.

All in all it was one of the best Superbowls I can remember.

On a side note, do any of your recall when the Saints where the bag on the head wearing Aints? Surely, if they can win a Superbowl, the Browns could too. Right? Or just make it to the play offs... not as a wild card and past the first game. Maybe? Please? Like we always say here in Brown land, maybe next year...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hard at work

I put the kids to work today helping me clean.

Well, actually, Ethan was begging me for chores. Really, I kid you not. He "dusted the ENTIRE house" then he vacuumed the foyer and kitchen for me, all while his mini me, Oliver, followed closely behind narrating the entire time. Meanwhile, I found Collin in the kitchen with the duster, dusting the kitchen table... works for me. All of this bought me almost enough time to steam mop (btw, I heart you Shark steam mop) the foyer, hall and kitchen, while Steve was outside trying to shovel us out of 10 inches of snow.

Hmmm... not bad for a Saturday morning... not bad.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mixed blessing?

I ran to the Whole Foods at lunch this week to get some groceries (yes, I am THAT person that runs errands at lunchtime that aren't lunchtime errands then cram the work refrigerator full of food to keep it cold until I leave... but my alternative is after the kids go to bed and well that just isn't happening). Typically I don't buy too much on my lunch runs, just because I don't have time really. But this week I managed to get quite a lot in a short amount of time.

When I get home from work, it's just me and the kids for about 45 minutes to an hour. Cooking dinner during this time is sometimes (and by sometimes I mean 90% of the time) a challenge. You can usually engage at least two of the boys but you always have the third wild card to keep the overall status of our house pretty high on the crazy meter. With that in mind, I was a little concerned about unloading seven bags of groceries before they opened it all, spread it throughout the house, had multiple meltdowns over items I wouldn't give them right at the moment and so on.

I decided to drop the non perishables at the door, run to the kitchen with the refrigerated and frozen items (at that point 45 minutes out) and put things away at lighting speed. As I did, I noticed how quiet it was. No one was even paying attention to me and yet I didn't hear boxes being opened or bags rustling or anything. No one was begging me for food or to help put the sweet potatoes away with the casserole dishes and the cheese in the towel drawer. Why? I went looking... I was a little afraid... I can't lie. Quiet times in a house that contains three boys five and under during waking hours is never ever a good thing. However, this is what I found...

Ethan and Oliver eating their apples... Collin saw me, said "uh oh", dropped his apple and ran. Refused to be photographed with it.

Sweet little boys, sitting on the window ledge eating apples... that they had gotten from the bags... quietly. I have to tell you that was the easiest time I have ever had putting away groceries, even when Steve is here. All for the price of a few apples. Heck, I didn't even care that they weren't washed... they were what's a little dirt from handling (okay it was a little disturbing but...)? I did have to pry the label out of Oliver's mouth though, as I noticed it was missing from the apple he was eating and thankfully he was still chewing it.

I would like to think that I have the perfect plan for all future endeavors such as that, but it wasn't exactly fail proof. Yes, it was easy to quickly put things away. Yes, there was no crying or fighting. Yes, everything was put where it belongs and so there hasn't been a frantic search for the butter only to find it in the lazy susan. But, the downside to this was that I found apple goo everywhere. The floor, the window sill, the foyer table, the steps, the door handles, the carpet, you name it. Apple droppings, apple juice, apple chunks, apple stickiness...EVERYWHERE. How do they even do that?

Monday, February 1, 2010


This weekend, while I was in Cleveland, Steve decided to build forts with the boys in the family room. As great an idea this was it didn't go exactly as he had planned.

As it turned out, Ethan was very intent on building an elaborate fort, while Collin was merely in it to break through the top of the fort. As in once it was built, Collin would go under and stand up, popping his head through the fort with a giggle and thus "ruining it". Rebuild/fix, then pop again, repeat, you get the picture. This, as you might guess, did not make Ethan happy. After a while of this, Ethan went off to the corner of the room and started building with his Trios while Collin happily continued popping through the fort.

Ethan, however, was not building with the Trios to play or as a means to find something else to do like Steve had assumed. No, that was not the case at all. Steve discovered the real master plan when Ethan walked back over and sat on the ottoman (which was one of the roofs of the fort) with something he fashioned out of the Trios that resembled a mallet. Just as Steve saw this and was making the connection as to what it was, Collin happily popped through the fort and just as quick as that happened, Ethan bopped him on the head. And this continued. Pop! Bop! Pop! Bop! Just like the gopher head game you see at fairs or some places with those arcade games.

Steve said he was laughing so hard that he couldn't correct it for a while. Apparently the bop on the head wasn't hard enough to phase Collin and it helped Ethan get rid of his frustration... not sure it was the best way... but I wasn't here... and in the end they were all laughing.

Boys will be boys...
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