To Sum It Up

It was spring break this week. Connor went to visit my parents in LA for the week. I was looking forward to sleeping in, alas the bathroom workers decided this was a good week to show up at 7:30am most of the days. #awesome

Here are some good things I came across this week:

Anyone that is a parent and has gone anywhere outside their home has probably seen someone side glare at them or make comments under their breath about their children. My kids are not an inconvenience (for you) was a good read about that.

Crockpot chicken enchilada casserole - I haven't tried it yet, but it looks so easy, I plan to make it soon.

The New York Times article, Being a Sober Parent in a Wine Mom Culture, is worth a read. It's important for everyone to think about why and how much they are drinking.

It's always good to have a little perspective in life and On the Day I Die did that for me.

We haven't used or had a microwave in years and usually when people find out, they don't understand how we exist without one. Why we don't use a microwave does a good job explaining some of the reasons microwaves aren't so healthy. If it's too long, skip to the bottom and check out the alternatives to microwaves.

I'm trying to decide between buying this mama tee or this tired and happy tee. They both sum up my life right now well!

I hope you have a great weekend, surrounded by those you love and celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Happy Easter!

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On Toddler Sleep

I feel like people love to talk about newborns and sleep. Which really is a funny thing given that newborns, well, don't sleep. They wake and eat and go back to sleep. Which actually isn't that bad. But what's not talked about and when people really need a shoulder to sleep, um, I mean cry on, is when their toddlers don't sleep.

People expect toddlers to sleep. And I seem to hear so often from other moms that they just don't. Sure, they do enough to make you like them. Then, bam, they get sick, their schedule is messed up by a time change, you travel with them, and on and on and on. And then they don't sleep. And somehow this leaves one, well really ME, oh so much more exhausted than the newborn phase. Maybe it's because lately Callum wakes and will be up for an hour plus at a time...and this happens two times a night.

But I also remember Isla going through this. I remember thinking I couldn't wait until she was old enough that she wouldn't cry out for me at night, but would just get up and come find me. That sort of feels like when I arrived in the sleep department. When I no longer had to get out of bed, but instead they came to me. But, the reality is we are a good year or more away from that happening with Callum. So I need to search deep down inside myself and learn to find the contentment in this broken sleep phase. Because we all know I will be crying when it's over...oh how motherhood has made me more emotional than I ever knew I could be!

It doesn't help that my normally stellar napper has not had a proper nap in weeks due to our bathroom renovation. Something about power tools and workers stomping up our wooden stairs and right past his room make the nap situation difficult. Then both Callum and I end up grumpy over it all, making the night time situation that much more burdensome.

You see what I did there? I managed to blame all my child's sleeping woes on our bathroom reno. That's kind of impressive, as I've also managed to blame it for my dirty house (hey, it's hard to stay out of their way and clean at the same time!) and lack of a social life (I'm afraid to leave and have them just leave my house unlocked when they go to lunch or leave for the day) on this project as well. But the end is in sight. I'm thinking two more weeks.

So in two weeks I'll have a pretty bathroom that I can actually use again and nap time back! Those are some pretty big things to look forward to.

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On talking to your child about their day

It's kind of a joke around my kids school that I know what's going on before most other parents. I've even had to wrestle with finding out information about things that happened with other kids at school and deciding whether to tell their parents or not...but that's a whole other blog post! Because of this, I thought I would share some tips of things that work for me on getting my kids to talk about their day.

Kids are like those scarves magicians pull out of their sleeves, they just slowly keep going and going and going. That's how conversations about school tend to go. They don't spill it all at once. It slowly comes with the right amount of time and space, and the proper questions asked. And here's the thing, if we don't make time for these conversations now, we won't have laid the foundation, built the relationship with them for the really hard talks we want and need to have with them as teenagers.

I have always held picking my kids up from school very dear. I can instantly gauge how their day went. It allows me to know if we need to immediately talk seriously about the day (like if there are tears, extreme awkwardness or sadness) or if it can more naturally come out as the day progresses.

If I can tell something happened at school, I stop everything we are doing and make sure I get to the bottom of it quickly. Sometimes that may be instantly. Finding a quiet corner in the school yard to talk. Other times it happens on the walk home or even cuddled up together on the couch or in a bed as soon as we get home. But on a normal day, the details of the day tend to come out more slowly.

Here are some things that work for me on getting my kids to talk:

1. Make space and time to talk - I usually find some alone time like when reading a book together, running and errand (I swear being in the car just makes my kids want to tell me every detail of their life!), or playing a game a good time to talk. But if there's no time for talking, it won't happen. This is especially important with siblings in the picture. I notice my kids don't like to talk about any problems at school, academically or socially, if others are around. This also tends to be the case even if both parents are around. They seem much more open if the conversation is just one on one. Which is why, even if I hear them opening up to their dad and really want to know about it, I resist the urge to barge in and listen, but figure I can ask my husband about the dialog later.

2. Ask open ended questions, not yes or no questions - There is definitely a place for yes or no questions, but if you want to get your kid talking, open ended questions are the way to go. And make sure to tell them "I don't know" isn't an answer! Sometimes yes or no questions can be great precursors to open ended questions. Did you have PE/art/computers/enrichment today? Then you can go on to ask open ended questions about that class or extra curricular.

3. Ask specific questions - "How was your day?" can certainly be a starting point, but isn't going to get them to talk specifics. And if I ask less specific questions, like what was your favorite part of the day, I tend to get answers like "I don't know." So I find the more specific questions about events that I know happened at school that day help spur on conversation. I also find it importation to already know the basics about their school set up, so I know what questions to ask. Like who they sit by in class and how they feel about that person. If it's a less than desirable desk make, that can take up a lot of talking most days.

Here are some questions I like to ask:
Who did you sit with at lunch?
What was your favorite thing you ate at lunch?
Today was library day, what book did you pick? Why that book? Were there any other books you were interested in?
What did you play at recess today that was fun?
How did you do on your spelling test?
Were any parent volunteers in your class today? What did they do with you?
Were there any birthday parties today? Who's?

4. Reassure your kids they won't be in trouble for anything they tell you - and mean it! That doesn't mean there aren't natural consequences for their behavior, but make you a safe person for them to talk to. This means not overreacting to things they do tell you. I like to remind my kids that it's better for me to hear something that happened from them than from a teacher. Most of the issues we have had thus far have been misunderstandings. Things like not knowing what the middle finger means, but someone showed you it so you give it a go. And this is a good time to remind your kids to ask YOU what a word or gesture means that they learned before using it themselves. School can be brutal. Kids are exposed to new things all the time that they really have no clue sometimes what they mean. Be sure to be the safe, calm, loving person that explains it to them...then explains why not to use those words. Not to mention, when a lot of kids are saying things on the playground that really aren't appropriate to say, it's important to explain to your child why that isn't important, rather than just telling them not to say it. When my kid had their middle finger incident at school, a teacher (who wasn't theirs) got upset at them, yet refused to tell them what it meant. This left them upset, confused and frightened. This particular teacher threatened to take them to the principal's office over it. In my opinion, the situation wasn't handled correctly at school. Which probably happens way more often than we would like. This means it's all the more important to handle it correctly at home.

School is hard. It's draining on kids. Make sure their time with you is a time of building them up, not tearing them down. Focus on their strengths. It's easy for kids to get down on themselves for a bad test score or not being good at a sport on the playground. Be sure you are loving them and building up their confidence at home before sending them back to school. Home needs to be a safe place. A place they can be themselves without being picked on for that.

Raising kids is hard. We all get it wrong all the time. Anyone who says they don't are lying. But learn to be humble. Learn to ask you child for forgiveness when you've overreacted to a situation. Kids are resilient. They forgive easily. And they notice when you love and try again the next day.

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And just like that, another tooth is gone

After all the time, drama and fanfare that surrounded Isla's last loose tooth, I expected then next one not to be lost until summer (slight exaggeration) when she mentioned it was loose. After all, the prior one was honestly probably loose for a good two months. It was literally hanging by a thread for a week. She refused to allow any of us touch it and if she even thought there may be pain involved, she wouldn't even touch it herself. She even ate on the other side of her mouth, as to not disturb it.

This tooth wasn't even that loose. But, on Saturday morning, while eating breakfast, she bit wrong and blood came pouring out. The tooth remained in, but there was lots of blood and a bit of a freak out by her. We got her all cleaned up and calm and went on with our morning. Then, while I was getting ready for the day, Isla calls out, "MOM!!! I LOST MY TOOTH!!!" I literally thought it was a joke. And I couldn't believe that she was ecstatic and not freaking out because there was again more blood (less than earlier, but more than just a bit). But she was thrilled and ready to show anyone that would look her new toothless smile, which I must admit is so stinking adorable. 

A few notes about this above picture, which makes it even more adorable than it already is. The whole thing was her idea, wanting to hold up four fingers for it being her fourth tooth lost. And yes, all four teeth are in that little vile she is holding up. They are like precious jewels to her. Jewels she has even played with friends with when they were over. Like out of the vile, them giving the teeth a bath. Yeah, I don't get it either. Also, this picture was taken at most an hour after she lost her tooth. Notice the marker all over her hands? As soon as the tooth was out and cleaned up, she instantly went to work writing a letter to the tooth fairy, complete with a drawing of her and the tooth fairy together. It was pretty stinking cute. But, let me tell you, she was not happy the next morning that the tooth fairy didn't take the note. I actually was searching for the teeth, but couldn't find those and didn't remember to look for the note. I literally lifted her up trying to find them. Apparently the teeth and note were under a decorative pillow on her bed and not the pillows she was sleeping on. #momfail She will survive though. She got a note back from the tooth fairy, so all is good with the world. 

I sort of hope it takes a bit for her new teeth to start coming in because this toothless smile is just the best! 

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Rainy Day, Stay Today

We like rain around here. What can I say? And we get far too little of it. I love how it sounds when the rain hits my car. I love curling up under a blanket listening to the rain. I love wearing my wellies out in the rain. And I love, love, love watching the kids play in the rain.

A little side note. So, I lined our front walkway with these big pinwheels this past weekend. Someone told me they thought the first two I put up weeks ago were a joke, so were shocked by the addition. Hahahaha! I guess the joke is on them! But you should see them all spinning in the wind. It instantly brings a smile to my face.

But back to the rain. Do you see the rain coming down in these pictures? You can mostly tell where the black front door is. Callum was having so much fun running down our front path over and over in the pouring rain. Then we moved it to the backyard, where I let him play until he was thoroughly soaked through. He jumped in every puddle he could find. He played in the water that had pooled up in his water table. He jumped, kicked and played with his hands. And every time I asked if he wanted to come in, he would say no. When I would ask if he was cold, he would wrap his arms around himself and say, "cold", yet still refused to come in. But, eventually I just took him in and let him warm up in a bubble bath.

There's just something magical about rain.

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Our not so annual romp in the almond blossoms

First, let's just clear the air...I said romp in my title...hahaha! Wait. Am I the only one who's mind went there? Oops. 

Anyway, a few years ago I was all, "I'm going to take pictures of my growing children in the almond blossoms every year." Folks, I haven't taken pictures in the almond blossoms since 2015. I actually tried once last year, but it was an epic failure. Callum fell asleep and one of the children wasn't happy with the dirt on their feet. The almond blossoms are only around two, maybe three, weeks. One would think that is plenty of time to get it done. But life people, life. 

We did it this year. (pats self on back) And I'm pretty dang pleased with how they turned out. Not to mention, this is like the prettiest three weeks of the whole entire stinking year where we live. Three weeks. We get three weeks of beauty. Such a thing to brag about ;)

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Documenting Life {baby books}

It's no secret that I love to take pictures. I literally have thousands and thousands of pictures of the kids. But the question is, what to do with those pictures so the kids can look at them and enjoy them as well. 

I started Connor a baby book when he was a baby. It was a Shutterfly one. I gave up after 100 pages, and was only like 6 months into his life. The problem was I loved every single picture and moment and wanted to keep them all. Well, after that attempt, which I never ordered, I didn't do anything. I had been eyeing these adorable baby books from Lucy Darling for a while, but could never pull the trigger because, well, I'm cheap. Then one day I found someone selling a brand new boy one for $6, so I bought it and started working on it for Callum. Well, I fell in love and ended up buying ones for Connor and Isla at full price...I liked them that much! 

And let me tell you, I had SO MUCH FUN going through all our old pictures to find pictures for their albums. I also loved that the albums had so many prompts, making it easy to know exactly what pictures I was looking for. I also loved that the kids will someday be able to look at an album with my handwriting in it. The back has several blank pages and I made sure to include pictures of them with family members, because I know how valuable those pictures will be when they are older. 

Also, I forgot just how amazing actual pictures feel. I mean this compared to the Shutterfly type albums, of which we have many. Not to mention, I loved getting out their hospital bracelets and other hospital mementos and putting them in the books. I am planning on putting an envelope in the back cover of each book to slip in a few more pictures that I didn't have space for, but just couldn't pass up. 

^^ That picture of Ian holding Connor in the hospital was taken not long after he was born. I took it with my phone while laying down, still in the delivery room. It still remains one of my favorite pictures ever. And, you guys, I forgot how smily Isla was. Literally every picture from her first year of life, she has a smile in. 

I had so much fun doing these, I am thinking of shelling out the money for the toddler books...or at least asking for them for Mother's Day, because they are totally mom related! Plus, the toddler books have spaces for things the kids have said. I have this adorable quote book for Connor, but the company went out of business not long after I got it, so I never had the chance to get one for Isla, let alone for Callum. And the kids think it's so funny to look at it and read the silly things Connor said as a toddler. 

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Isla Lost a Tooth

There is something abut kids loosing their upper middle teeth that make them seem so grown up. Well, really it's when those big adult teeth come in that they seem so grown up, but I start anticipating the transition immediately. 

Isla's tooth has been loose for over a month now. It's been barely hanging on for at least a week. Like it has been sticking out over her lip loose. This caused some drama last week in ballet when a girl in her class said something, so she pretty much didn't participate the rest of class and instead kept her hand over her mouth. I begged her to let me pull it that night, but she wouldn't. On Monday, I noticed the tooth getting a little dark. I was sort of freaked out and googled it. It means that it detached from the root, so everything inside died. Well, that makes sense given how loose its been for so long! So, that really made me want it gone, but she was in no rush. 

Yesterday morning, everyone woke way earlier than normal. I was sitting in Callum's dark room with him, trying to adjust to waking up before I should be up, when Isla bust in. Even in the darkness, I noticed her mouth was different. But I couldn't tell if the tooth was missing or just sideways, as it has been able to turn given how loose it was. Well, as soon as I said something, she felt her mouth, then screamed and ran out of the room. Sure enough, she lost the tooth while she was sleeping! She instantly went to her bed to destroy it and find the tooth. I told her to stand back and let me look and I was quickly able to locate her tooth in the sheets. 

So there you have it. A fun little story about a girl growing up who lost her tooth while she was asleep. 

She was so proud of that lost tooth that it accompanied her to school. She even got to show the whole class her lost tooth and tell them about loosing it in her sleep. She was proudly telling anyone that would listen yesterday.

That missing tooth, it's so stinking adorable. Yet it also pulls at this mama's heartstrings, knowing she is one step closer to growing up and realizing just how quick it really all happens.

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A Little Snow Play

Since winter finally hit California this past week, we decided to seize the day and go visit the snow...because who knows how long it will stick around for! We went to an area we have never played in before. Since we went early, the road wasn't even freshly plowed. It was really fun to see all the fresh snow glistening in the sun, not yet trampled upon by people. Plus, there weren't cars on this road yet, so it was like we had the place to ourselves. We stopped to play at a road that hadn't been plowed at all, so was undriveable. It was a good stop. We actually had the place to ourselves for most the time we were there. 

I am pretty sure Ian and I had more fun sledding than the kids. They honestly weren't as into it as we were. But Isla was definitely into the snow. She literally became one with the snow the whole time we were there. She was constantly laying in it, digging in it, rolling around in it. She didn't take a break the whole time we were there. In fact, she spent the last good bit of our time there digging a cave for herself. 

Callum refused to wear his snowsuit. Like went hysterical when we put it on him. So, he played in his pajamas. And he really seemed like he could care less about that. He did quickly learn that he needed gloves on and after grabbing the snow without gloves, was pretty diligent about keeping his gloves on the rest of the time. His favorite thing to do in the snow was run from us and throw it. 

After being the most enthusiastic about the snow out the gate, Connor fizzled. But in the beginning, he was the one trying to make a sledding path and convincing Isla to go on it. About halfway through, he retreated to the car and read a book. 

We were pretty much ending our time of snow play, but a group of a few cars with a bunch of people arrived and cemented our plans to leave. It was a fun day. 

^^ I take myself very seriously 

^^ One of his moments of running away

On a side note, we used big rubber bands on Callum's boots to keep them on and that worked great. We also ended up putting small rubber bands on his gloves to keep those on too. Whatever works, right?

In case you care, some of our snow adventures from years past - 2017, 2016, 2015, 2012 and 2011

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Backyard Fun

This weekend, before winter finally decided to hit in California*, the kids decided a high of 60 was a great time to put on their bathing suits and enjoy a little water play. Or, in Isla's case, mud play. And in Callum's case, throwing tons of dirt in the pool before I noticed play. Awesome doesn't even begin to describe that one. The plumbers moved a bunch of dirt by the pool (they must not have young, impulsive children!). And Callum, unable to refrain, threw tons of dirt into the pool before I noticed. And here I thought I could throw a load of laundry in the washer while the kids were playing! Almost a week later, our pool is still trying to recover.

The boys enjoyed playing with the water table, because the mean mom that I am, I drew the line at them getting in the pool. And Isla played in the mud that she made out of said dirt next to the pool for probably an hour. Kind of gross if you ask me. But she was having the time of her life. She finally decided she wanted a bath when she had an itch on her face and her hands were all muddy. Haha! Even after hosing her off, the bath water went brown instantly.

It was some good, not-so-clean, fun that has me looking forward to being back outside all the time.

*Apparently winter decided the very end of February was the perfect time to come. Never the less, we are excited for its arrival. Better late than never. 

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