Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's to all! I'm excited about 2010 ... so many changes ahead this year ... Kindergarten for Claire, preschool for the twins, and so on. It should be a very interesting year.

Today the girls and I ran some errands, had a nice lunch together, and then played in the basement the remainder of the day. It's just frigid outside with a low of 1 degree coming in just a few hours, so no need to keep running around town.

Our dinner was the highlight of the evening. We had beef braised in milk ...

... and then I made the girls the ultimate kiddie dessert: instant vanilla pudding with sprinkles of chocolate teddy grahams on top. They thought it was great. I also took some photos of the girls enjoying their holiday dessert ...

... then baths for all after the pudding, and the kids were asleep on time. I think I'll turn in early as Molly keeps waking me each night over some minor coughing fits, so I'm tired (when am I not?). I tend to think New Year's Eve is a very anti-climactic holiday anyways, so I'm no stickler for staying up until midnight. Here's to hoping 2010 brings us all much happiness, health, and security - for my family, and yours.

Post Script: Molly woke me up around 1am, manipulated her way into my bed again, and kept me awake for over three hours last night while she tossed and turned and generally kicked me in the back and head all night. *Sigh*.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Playdate Day

Claire was in heaven today ... she had both best friend Lauren and neighbor Ashley over to play this afternoon. I felt the weight of being responsible for five girls, doing meals, snacks, and a shrinky dink project with them, so I'm exhausted tonight.

And I think Molly must have been tired this evening too. No matter how many times I said "be quiet!", "find a quiet game to play while Molly naps!", "please don't wake up Molly!", the girls just could not be quiet, so Molly got maybe thirty minutes of naptime. It was not the best of circumstances for the naptime routine.

So next time I decide to take on another playdate, I'll need to find a low-key activity for the girls while Molly naps. It will make that part of the playdate far less stressful for me.

But I loved seeing Claire so happy, so I was able to overlook some of the noise and chaos. I definitely learned that two girls can play together rather calmly, but three girls together is just noise and chaos. Lesson learned for mommy.

Napping Adjustments

It looks as though I have a toddler dropping a nap ... at only two years and three months of age. Claire also dropped her nap before age three - I am certainly "blessed" with high energy children - but definitely not this early. Lily is my highest energy child (I lean toward thinking she is showing signs of ADHD ... time will tell), and recently her nap was causing some issues. She was beginning to stay up late and wake up too early, which is of great importance when she's sleeping in the same room with her twin who needs considerably more sleep to stay happy. Molly has been a class-act crank recently due to her sleep deficit caused by Lily.

So yesterday and today I dropped Lily's nap entirely and she didn't even blink - it's like she didn't even notice that her schedule had changed. She wasn't cranky or overly tired. I'm not sure this is the result I was hoping for. It stands to make my WFH days extremely difficult without both of the twins napping for at least an hour and a half or more. I'm very anxious about this change.

I also know that kids are continually adjusting their sleep requirements, and even when Claire started dropping her nap, we often went to every other day before cutting them out entirely (part of my test today was to see if Lily needs no nap at all, or an every other day nap). If it's every other day, I could ensure that the nanny gets the no nap days and I get the nap days on two of my three WFH days. But if Lily has entirely dropped the nap, then life has just gotten more difficult for me during the work week.

I have friends whose kids napped well into their fourth and even fifth years. They don't know how good they've got it ...

Monday, December 28, 2009

The End Result

And the end result of all the cooking today was another fantastic bowl of soup for dinner tonight ( a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese following the Italian style is the perfect finishing touch) ...

... and Kyle has finally returned home this evening after roughly a 4-day absence (his plans for tomorrow are unknown to me as of yet), so I don't have to get Claire to bed right now, which is at least one less thing for me to do today.

The kids and I had a fun trip to Home Depot this evening to buy light bulbs. They played with the Christmas items and in the kitchen area, but their favorite spot was the showers. They got in and out of the floor models for at least 15 minutes until I dragged them away. The twins also loudly shouted "poo poo pee pee" every time we saw a toilet, so maybe they're not exactly public ready yet ...

Simple Is Good

Nothing makes me feel happier or more energized than seeing a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables on my countertop, all washed and ready for a good, fresh recipe ...

With another snow storm approaching, I decided to make another pot of my pasta e fagioli soup which will ensure many nights of fantastic leftovers and require fewer grocery runs in the snow (soup is just now on the stove hence the unfinished look in the photo below - I'll add the fresh greens, pasta, and sausage later and try to take a photo of the finished product)...

The soup will provide a nice balance to my greasy, non-fresh Waffle House lunch I had today when I finally left the house with the kids (and my did the kids enjoy Sam's Club, Waffle House, and the grocery store this morning!).

We've also got a batch of blueberry muffins the kids enjoyed for breakfast (I baked them last night so they'd be ready for breakfast this morning) ...

... which completes the food picture for me today - a pot of soup with completely fresh ingredients and baked goods in the house. Can't beat that. As I've said before, I prefer simple, fresh ingredients in my food - just like the Italians themselves would use - and the results are far superior to taking shortcuts and using frozen or canned items. I just wish I had more time to cook like this every day.

Vacation time is a good thing.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cabin Fever

We're still stuck at home due to the weather. I know plenty of friends have ventured out, but the side roads are still questionable (though looking better today now that the sun has appeared), and if I went anywhere, I'd be on side roads ... not the well-plowed highways and main roads. My opinion is I'll suffer a little cabin fever to keep everyone safe and at home. My car doesn't handle snow well, but more importantly, I don't trust the other drivers on the road. Why would I knowingly put my kids at risk just to reduce my personal boredom levels? Priorities, priorities.

But I. am. bored. Because of the continued snow plowing, Kyle hasn't been home much of the past three days (I can count on less than two hands how many waking hours he's been home, and he will be gone this third day also for its entirety). When he is home, he's too tired to help out much. So I've had no break, no relief ... nothing. The house has been blissfully peaceful though. The kids are still excited about the new toys, though I sense they're starting to get itchy for a change of pace too.

My biggest issue is the mealtimes. I've been on meal cooking and clean up duty for far too many days in a row, starting at least on Christmas Eve ... so we're talking four days and counting. Under normal conditions, I would have thrown in a lunch out with the kids by now just so I could avoid cooking and cleaning for at least one meal. Kyle hasn't been doing the kids' breakfast like normal (he hasn't been home during that time), so I've made, served, and cleaned four meals a day for basically the last four days straight. It's wearing on me badly at this point.

I remember a story I once heard on my paternal grandmother, who had three (hungry) sons, including my father. She told my mom "I have never enjoyed the regularity with which the meals keep coming". This, of course, was from the days when people didn't regularly do restaurant meals, so I can only imagine how numbed she must have been by all her cooking requirements for 20+ years. Too bad she didn't throw in a lunch at Waffle House once a week and a night of Thai or pizza take-out - it takes the edge off a bit.

And I need to take the edge off all my current kitchen time. Soon.

Here's a photo of Claire, who couldn't be stopped from enjoying one of her favorite things in the world yesterday, even with a foot of snow and more falling in the back yard (brrrrrrrr) ...

... and here's a photo of Claire prepping her new Bingo game, so I could play six rounds of Bingo with her while the twins napped yesterday (*yawn*) ... I'm sorry if I sound mean spirited, but board games are not much my thing ...

... and now, I guess I better go play another one of those bored, oops, I mean board games.

Sneaky Molly

The evidence was unmistakable. A lonely wrapper dismissed on the floor tells quite the story.

But I didn't see it until later because I was folding laundry. Instead, Claire alerted me that Molly was hiding from me in the basement, so I went in search of her. I found her in the playhouse in the basement, lying on the floor curled around her stolen loot in a protective manner. She had swiped a lollipop and was furiously eating it, hoping to keep me from taking it away.

Christmas night Molly had broken the cabinet lock off the "candy cabinet" doors (surely with malicious intent), and I was too slow to find a replacement. Yesterday, Molly took advantage of the wide-open access and grabbed herself the lollipop while I was out of sight folding laundry. She knew she had done something unacceptable, so she knew well enough to go hide and eat it (and giggle tremendously when I found her with it). I promptly found that new cabinet door lock, but I guess she got her reward in the end ... I let her keep the stolen lollipop, mainly as a tip of the hat to her well-thought out plan.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A White Christmas

It's Kansas City's first official white Christmas since 1962. And boy is it white out there ... we may have nearly a foot of snow already (it's hard to tell with the drifts - the 30mph winds messed with the way the snow has fallen), and it's still snowing. The kids and I went out for about 10 minutes this morning to check out the kids' new snow boots. It was actually Molly's idea to go outside, but three minutes into the event, this was her reaction ...

... Claire followed Molly back in the house mainly so she could get back to the new toys, and Lily wanted to stay outside and play ...

... unfortunately these photos don't quite show the depth of the snow, but maybe you can notice how the snow drifts make it look as though there's no step down from our porch to the sidewalk (in the photo above, Lily is standing on the sidewalk, with the porch behind her). The snow drifts near the house are as high as the bushes.

Christmas Day

I'm listening to Claire tell Papa that her favorite gift was the make-up from Santa. I knew that the make-up would be a slight risk to our household, but I didn't expect that our living room rug would already be stained with blue make-up. *Sigh*.

This conversation is occurring on the phone, of course, because it appears we have gotten nearly a foot of snow overnight, so we've been unable to host any family at the house today. More disappointing for the kids is that Kyle was called out to plow snow at 4am this morning and he still hasn't returned home. He missed Christmas morning entirely. I'm not even sure if he'll be home for Christmas dinner.

But the kids are definitely excited about the new toys, so here are some of our photos from today ...

... the play car is the big hit so far, so we made a "car" that all four of us girls rode in together this morning. Lily said she was driving us to Waffle House ...

... and next, I'm going to show you our snowfall outside.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Apparently all you need to do is to tell a five year old that Santa won't come to her house unless everyone is asleep (and the sooner the better, because maybe he's not as tired earlier in the evening and he'll do a better job handing out gifts here), and that means she'll obediently jump into bed and go straight to sleep. Huh!

Christmas Eve brings to mind a million Norman Rockwell images, but our household had none of that. With a Christmas blizzard starting (not exactly a Norman Rockwell white Christmas - this is a massive storm system blowing hard outside), we had no family visitors. With three sick kids, we had crankiness, not giddiness. I was up all hours of the previous night with 103-degree temp Molly, so I was not in the best of moods today. I was impatient to get the kids in bed and the Christmas gifts set up rather than savoring the evening with them. It's just one of those years I guess. Maybe next year everyone will be healthy.

Claire and I did sneak out this afternoon to see The Princess and The Frog, the new Disney movie set in New Orleans. It's the first movie she made it through, but it required that I request the volume be turned down twice and she had to wear earplugs to handle it (her first movie attempt, only a few months ago with Kyle, had to be abandoned because it was too loud). I'm not sure what her overall reaction is yet because I'll wait another couple days to get her take on it. She generally gives a better answer once she's thought about it for a while.

Some photos of our Christmas Eve ... Kyle and Claire roasted marshmallows in the fireplace tonight (a new tradition brewing here?) ...

... Claire's snack for Santa (you do know Santa is a popcorn fan, right?) ...

... and here's a photo of our Christmas gift layout. It's decidedly modest this year, and I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I'm proud of myself for keeping our spending under control and not making any guilt purchases; but on the other hand, I'm greatly disappointed our finances didn't allow for a few significant splurges. Given the age groups of my children, I trust they will not notice the slim pickings this year ...

It's almost midnight here, so let me go ahead and say ... Merry Christmas to you! This Santa is tired and needs a good night of sleep!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,
I have not been a naughty mom. I have done the best I can this year. Could you please fix this current situation and give me healthy kids?

Having to take Molly to the after-hours clinic tonight due to a 103-degree fever was not fun, particularly because there's no explanation for her illness. I also did not appreciate her vomiting on me when the strep test swab triggered her gag reflex. I've had to do laundry and take a shower on a night when I had other plans just to make sure all the goo is gone.

I'd really appreciate if I could just get healthy children come Friday, and I'm feeling blue in the face having to repeat myself so many times. I don't want that fancy camera, or the iPod speakers, or all those other things I've dreamed about. I just want healthy kids.

Warmest Regards,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I Want For Christmas ...

... is healthy kids. We're on a new round of kid sickness, a mild (thankfully mild) head cold, but it's now hit Lily with hurricane force. She is a snot factory. In fact, I am singing the praises of those ear tubes because we would already have her on antibiotics by now if she didn't have them. She may still require the antibiotic ear drops if this gets bad enough, but the drops are in our medicine cabinet, which means no trip to the clinic. Ahhhhhh.

And Molly ... well, I'm holding out hope she pushes through this without an ear infection. In typical style, she was the first to get this cold but the least affected of the twins. Her snot level is always 1/4 of what Lily's tends to be. We had one super awful night where both the twins were awake most of the night, but last night I convinced them to sleep in their beds without a bunch of coddling and everyone slept through the night. Mostly.

Claire is only mildly affected by this head cold. Sick five year olds are much easier than sick two year olds. But even with the mild nature of this virus, I'll still ask for healthy kids come Friday. Christmas will be much more fun without the ooze.

Claire has spent the last two afternoons at the "winter camp" doing gymnastics, and she loves it. She is a happier kid for it, so I'm glad I spent the money for her to enjoy the three days of camp. Her camp time has allowed me to get an oil change and my tires rotated (oh yipeee!) and to get all the Christmas presents ready for Christmas Eve (when "Santa" will set them up late that night). Tomorrow I've got to attend a work lunch (the nanny is still obviously on duty this week), one of those annoying required but officially not required events, so Claire will spend some time with the nanny and the twins before camp tomorrow afternoon. I hope to eke out at least an hour or two of tomorrow to do something just for ..... me. We'll see.

Unlike a lot of families, who have holiday visitors or take trips or go all out for the season, we take a very low-key approach to the holidays. I'm a firm believer that the holidays should be about close family, the kids' joy and excitement, the wonderful foods of the season, and not a bunch of stress and overly scheduled events. Kids get enough of that during the year. Moving at their pace, for once, seems just about right.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Nelson-Atkins Museum

I was quite certain the "grown up" museum Claire and I visited today (Kansas City's Nelson-Atkins Museum) didn't make a huge impression, and Papa's visit tonight confirmed that. I asked Papa to quiz Claire about her museum visit, and she was able to mention the water fountain in the museum's cafe and the cafe itself, but not much else. With some prodding, she noted a Jackson Pollock modern art painting, but that's it.

But it was a free visit, and we had less time today to spend on a fun outing, so I'm OK that she was underwhelmed by the museum visit. She is, after all, only five years old. There are 55 year olds who don't appreciate art too.

I'll post my favorite photos from today ....

... and now I need to think through the week ahead. I've got vacation time, but I've still got a nanny on duty, so that means it's time for boring adult errands like oil changes and such. Tomorrow Claire starts a 3-day "winter camp" at the nearby MyGym location, which will be arts, crafts, and gymnastics, so she'll get some excitement for 3 hours a day for the first half this week.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Johnson County Museum

We ventured to the Johnson County Museum this morning, a first visit for all of us. I saw the museum currently has a "Kidscape" exhibit so I decided to check it out (it's like a kid-sized village ... the photos will show what I mean). We had the entire museum to ourselves this morning, and the kids really liked the place. Lily loved the fishing and miniature golf, and Claire and Molly loved all of it. But then Molly got cranky about food after about an hour's time so we ran over to a nearby McDonald's for lunch. After the refuel, Claire begged to go back, and despite my hesitation, I took everyone back. I should have listened to my instincts. This time, the kids were more bold - they didn't stay in a "pack" (as they do when places are new to them), and ran wildly around, which is too challenging for one parent. After 25 minutes of our second visit, I lost Molly because I had my attention on Lily for a few brief moments. This caused a bunch of drama, with me trying to put the whole museum on lock down to find the kid. Molly suddenly reappeared on her own (we still don't know where she was hiding), and I immediately walked the kids out the door before we had a repeat incident. But then ... Claire (she's five, remember?) threw a screaming tantrum IN the museum about having to leave, which turned into the worst public embarrassment I've had in over a year from any child. I was mortified, which only makes me super angry with Claire.

So Claire and I are currently in a time out from each other so the both of us can cool off. While we cool down, I'll post some of our photos from this morning ... here's a view of the "village" ...

... here's the fishing area ...

... here's Molly taking care of the babies at the hospital and Claire checking out her patient ...

... here are Molly and Claire putting on a performance for me at the theatre ...

... here is the farmhouse complete with a chicken coop in the yard ...

... and the train area where Claire dressed up as a fireman ...

... and now I'm just hoping everyone's moods get repaired and we can have a fun afternoon once the twins wake up.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Our Gingerbread Tradition

Claire and I continued the "tradition" we started last year and made another gingerbread house for the holidays. Today we planned to use the twins' nap time for the effort, but because they both woke early, we ended up with little toddler hands sneaking pieces of candy while Claire and I worked hard to complete the projects. Claire focused primarily on the gingerbread ornaments/cookies and I focused more on the house. Here are some photos of the hard work today ...

... and one shot catches Claire licking the icing (but why else would a kid love this activity so much?) ...

... and now I'm off to plan for a (hopefully) fun Friday for the girls and me.

More Christmas Pageant

Just had to post a few more photos from the Christmas pageant ... you can see that Claire took her role very seriously ...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Claire's Christmas Pageant

It's with an odd mix of "incredibly proud" and "very amused" that I post this video from tonight's Christmas pageant at Claire's preschool. Unfortunately, because I was not well prepared, I missed Claire's first two lines, so you'll only hear her last few sentences. But I caught the one line that mattered (or shall I say, amused me) ... can you hear it?

Her lines are supposed to be: "Do not be afraid. I have good news for you all. Today in the town of Bethlehem, the Christ child has been born. Follow the star to Jesus' stable."

But Claire can't say Christ child - she says "Price" child, which sends me into giggling fits (somehow I sense all Christians cringing inwardly at the thought of associating Christ with consumerism, which makes this all the more wrong to my ears).

But she delivered her lines with such clarity, and ease, and strength of voice ... I am so proud! She was amazing, and she had the starring role in tonight's play. With at least 300 people in attendance, she deserves some serious kudos for her performance. "Price" child and all.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In The Kitchen

My office is having a potluck lunch tomorrow, which also coincides with the preschool's Christmas pageant tomorrow night where Claire has one of only two speaking roles. The problem with all these parties is that I've been asked to contribute food to both events, and that's a lot to ask of a working mother of three young kids. So I bought cupcakes from Target for the preschool event, but I made homemade food for the work event tomorrow. My day, therefore, was super long, super productive, and super exhausting.

Shift 1: work, play with the twins, talk to the cleaning lady and keep the twins out of her way.

Shift 2: pick up Claire from preschool, get the kids a lunch.

Shift 3: work, start a pot of traditional-style Italian pasta and bean soup, boil two dozen eggs for deviled eggs, start three loads of laundry, get the kids a snack, and keep watching over the soup and adding ingredients (it was all a made-up recipe).

Shift 4: take Claire and the twins to the final ice skating lesson.

Shift 5: eat dinner (the soup was utterly fabulous ... photo posted here), play with the kids, get twins to bed.

Shift 6: spend three hours making deviled eggs for the work party tomorrow. This was painstaking labor, a first attempt at deviled eggs for me, and I will never do it again. Next time, I'm buying them. My work team got tasked with "salads" and I chose deviled eggs because I decided it would be the cheapest way to make bulk food. So, it may have been inexpensive, but it cost me an entire evening of relaxation.

And now, at nearly midnight, I am turning into bed. My back is aching from the six hours I spent cooking today. I also had the unfortunate realization tonight that I'm signed up for the preschool "take home" treat on Thursday, so that means I have to figure out more food tomorrow. *Sigh*. The holidays and all these commitments tend to turn me into a Scrooge.