Friday, October 30, 2009

Little Pumpkins

Well, Halloween is TOMORROW, and we have had some lovely fall weather and fun fall festivities, and I have posted about NONE of it! So let’s get started before I find myself sharing Halloween stories in January!

This month we have visited two different pumpkin patches, the same ones we went to last year. First we went to The Fruit and Berry Patch where the kids each got to pick a pumpkin of their very own. They really loved getting to choose their own pumpkin. I told them as long as they could carry it themselves, they could have it! As you can see, we went with our good friends David and Abby (and Michelle, of course). It was a lot of fun and not nearly as bitterly cold as last year!


In addition to the pumpkin patch, there was also a corn maze, which we enjoyed exploring. Michelle and I are sure that it is at least three feet taller than last year! (All the rain we’ve had this year, we assume!)

DSC_0068 Children of the Corn


Michelle took pictures this trip too, so if she has good ones that MUST be seen by the world, then this trip will make a reappearance at some point.

Last weekend we went to the pumpkin patch at a church right up the street from us. Jim and I have been buying our Halloween pumpkins there since we moved into this house seven years ago! The kids were fascinated by the odd pumpkins there, like this reddish bumpy one.


Reagan pumpkin field

Jonathan Pumpkin

Group Pumpkin

(in back) Thomas (in front) Zachary, Reagan, Jonathan

Now we are all ready to carve our jacko’lanterns tomorrow! Very exciting! We hope your month has been as festive as ours! Happy Fall!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Masters of Destruction

I have some melmac (or melamine) dishes that I absolutely love! Actually, I have two sets. One was my mom’s and the other was her mom’s. What I love about them is that they are so durable. We use them every day, and I can put them in the dishwasher and not have to worry about them chipping. They are practically indestructible! Otherwise, they wouldn’t have lasted this long!

They are NOT, however, completely indestructible. Like a diamond that can only be scratched by another diamond, a melmac dish pounded by a three-year-old wielding another melmac dish will break. I know this because I now have one less bowl than I used to.

And Thomas found out the answer to the burning question, “What will happen if I pound these two bowls together?”



Things We Love #1

This is the first in a series of posts that will share some of the things we love here at our house.

The first one is The Swivel Sweeper! I think this was originally one of those fabulous infomercial products that has now made the leap to retail stores. Mine came from Target, and I have also seen it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

My Aunt Nancy was the first to love the Sweeper, and she insisted my mom get one too. So Mom did, and she loves it too! And when I tried it out at her house, I knew I HAD TO HAVE ONE! Happily, my parents gave me one for my birthday which coincided with that same Memphis trip! That was back in March ,and I still love my Sweeper!

In case you don’t already know, the Swivel Sweeper is basically a vacuuming broom.

Why I love the Sweeper:

(By the way, I’m not getting paid or anything to write this. The Sweeper folk don’t even know who I am!)

1. It’s perfect if you have small children who REALLY want to help you clean. My kids always wanted to sweep the kitchen floor, but all they really did with a broom was spread the crumbs around, and the vacuum is too heavy for them. The Sweeper is light enough that they can use it and actually clean!


2. It works on hard floors AND carpet, so it’s so easy to clean the kitchen floor after a meal or the living room carpet after some little darling upturns a bowl of Cheerios.

3. The base is really thin so it runs easily under low furniture where my regular vacuum won’t go.

4. The battery lasts a pretty long time and is rechargeable (charger included).

5. The collected dirt comes out through a trap door on the bottom of the sweeper, but the release for the door is on top so you never have to touch the dirt!

Now don’t get me wrong! It’s not perfect. It certainly won’t replace a regular vacuum! It won’t pick up large chunks of dirt, like fat Cheetos, and it doesn’t like really shaggy carpet like what we have in our playroom. Eventually, you (or someone you love) will need to flip it over and clean the brushes. It picks up a lot of hair which gets tangled in the brushes and impedes their movement. Jim has done this once since we got it back in March. Also, if it ever accidentally gets flipped upside down while it’s running, it will shoot crumbs out all over the place.

That being said, if you have small children (and no dog to eat all the crumbs off your floor!) you will LOVE the Swivel Sweeper!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Most Fun those Lockers Have Ever Had

This is way overdue but I took the picture with my phone and only recently bothered to figure out how to send it somewhere useful.

Back in August, the kids and I paid a visit to friends at South-Doyle where I used to teach. While there, the kids provided much entertainment for everyone, much LOUD entertainment unfortunately. Sorry, guys!

But if you could get past the locker slamming, they were VERY cute, don’t you think?


Friday, October 9, 2009

Strange Things Happen When the Sun Goes Down

You know those things your kids do that are so wacky and yet so very that child and endearing that you think you'll never forget them? Yet somehow, time passes and the child gets older and stops doing that thing and then you DO FORGET or at least the memory of it fades away? For example, when Reagan was an infant she had this cry, a scream really, that was so distinctly hers and so remarkably different from the boys' cries. It had a vibration to it. It was unlike any baby cry I have ever heard, and Jim and I would say, One of these days we really need to get that recorded so we don't forget what it sounds like!

But we never did, and now it's a distant memory.

When Thomas was a slightly older infant, he LOVED the doorway jumper, and he figured out that if he held his foot just so and wriggled his toes just right, he could get it to spin round and round in circles. We also never got this on tape.

Well, there are a few things that the kids are doing that aren't really recordable because they happen at night, but I at least want to take a moment and share them here while they are fresh memories.

I know I have discussed the nighttime head-banging before, and I am pleased to report that it has greatly diminished in frequency. I can't remember the last time I woke up to hear someone (Jonathan) banging a headboard or wall. This habit has been replaced with others. For Jonathan it is sleeping in the floor. I may have mentioned this before also, I can't remember, but he's still doing it. Not every night, but regularly, we find him in the floor beside his bed when we check on the kids before going to bed ourselves. He always takes his blanket with him, but not generally anything else. Most of the time he is right beside the bed, often halfway under it, but every now and then, he is out in the middle of the room. We return him to his bed, and he usually stays there, but sometimes I'll find him back in the floor in the morning or at some point in the night when I happen to be paying their room a visit.

The other habit to relate comes from Reagan. She likes to show up in our room in the middle of the night and stare at me. I'll wake up with the feeling that I'm being watched, but not in a creepy way like someone has broken into the house. I'll open my eyes and there she'll be.

Hi, baby, I whisper. Do you need anything?

At that point, she either tries to climb into bed with us or steps back a pace and holds out her hand for me to escort her back to bed. Oh, but wait! She wants water first! Always there must be water. I used to take her back to bed and then have to com all the way back to the kitchen to get water and take it all the way back to her room before I could go back to bed myself, but now I just go straight to the water and don't wait for her to ask for it.

Now, I realize that lots of kids come into their parents' room in the middle of the night wanting water or crawling into bed, but this is something that Reagan does and the boys do not, so it sets her apart.

What cute things did/do your kids do?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A First!

As I’ve mentioned before, when the kids get in the car after preschool, I ask them what they did that day, and they tell me about all the things they ate. Well, a week or so ago, I finally got a new answer! What could it have been? The thing so wonderful it knocked the lunchtime food stats down a notch?

Pumpkin Pie Playdough!

The kids were so excited about having made playdough at preschool that day, they could hardly stop talking about it! Since it was such a hit, and since the teacher conveniently included the recipe with the other papers that came home that day, I thought I’d share it with all of you!

Pumpkin Pie Playdough

5 1/2 cups flour

2 cups salt

8 tsp cream of tartar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

1 (1 1/2 oz) container pumpkin pie spice

orange food coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)

4 cups water

Mix all of the ingredients together. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth. Store in an airtight container.

The best part about it is the smell! It’s so perfect for fall! And I love that this recipe could easily be modified for other holidays. Specifically, I can envision mint-scented Christmas playdough. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What the Potty Taught Me

Potty Update: Currently all four of my children are using the potty, at least part of the time!

Thomas is fully potty-trained, both day and night. Woohoo!

Reagan is daytime trained, but not night. Sometimes, she wakes up dry, but not always. Still a Woohoo!

Jonathan and Zachary are not quite there yet. They both use the potty most of the time, but still struggle with pooping accidents in particular. J is doing better than Z, as he will poop in the potty about half the time (Z almost never does) and will use the big potty when needed (Z refuses to sit on it). But that's okay. It will come in time. I keep reminding myself that Reagan has been using the potty for 7 months and Zachary only 2. These things take time!

Here are a few things I have learned from potty training so far:

1. If you are not a patient person, potty training will teach you to be patient. If it doesn't, you'll go to prison for killing your child. Lucky for my kids, I've discovered that my well of patience only runs that dry after extreme provocation, at which point it tends to refill with a reserve of despair rather than anger. Then I just give up and turn on the TV.

2. The right incentive can work a miracle! The trick is finding the right incentive. I started all the kids out with stickers and candy. The candy type has changed periodically, mostly because Jonathan won't eat M&Ms (he's picky about his chocolate). Currently, we're using Smarties. All the kids like them, and they're pretty cheap as candy goes. Zachary has been the hardest. So far, nothing has been a real great incentive for him, although I admit that I haven't tried as hard to find new and creative incentives for him. I think I'm just over it now.

3. When shopping for underwear, at least in the beginning, buy the cheap ones and get twice as much as you think you'll need. You won't believe how many pairs of underwear a child can go through in a single day. Laundry is my Sisyphean task. I keep doing it, but the baskets just keep filling up.

4. Did I mention patience?

5. If your child sits in a booster seat at the kitchen table, put a towel between the booster seat and the actual chair. This way, when your child has an accident while sitting in the booster seat, it will run through the strap hole and then soak up into the towel, rather than getting all over the actual seat and running off into the floor. It makes cleanup a WHOLE lot easier. I wish I had figured this out a whole lot earlier!

6. Desperate times call for desperate measures. When I started focusing on Zachary, he would sit on the potty, do nothing, and then walk out of the bathroom and pee in the floor. Again and again and again! I put the potty in the living room and let him sit on it while watching TV, but he would do the same thing. He just would not use the potty. So I had to be mean. I sat him on the potty in the bathroom one midmorning and told him he couldn't get up until he put something in it. And I stuck to it. I didn't abandon him in there! I read him stories and sang songs. I brought him a snack with all the juice he could drink! But dadgummit, he was going to put something in that potty! I was prepared to make him eat lunch there, but luckily he finally peed. I really think he was afraid until that very moment. He peed in the potty and it was fine. After that, we made progress. Mean or not, it was worth it!

7. It's amazing what a little praise can do! Lately, one of my struggles is that the kids won't want to use the bathroom before a meal, but then in the middle of the meal they suddenly need to, and if one goes they all need to go, especially if they don't like what we're eating! What has helped the most is this: before a meal I suggest that everyone go use the potty, one child jumps up and actually does what I ask, I follow said child to the bathroom and declare that child the Winner of the Peepee prize! Then all the other kids come running because they want to win the Peepee Prize too. There is no actual prize, just bragging rights!

8. Best way to clean a potty: Put it in the bathtub, cover it in Scrubbing Bubbles, walk away, come back 10 minutes later and turn on the shower. Tada! The potty is clean, and you hardly had to do a thing! (Kudos to Jim for this brilliant idea!)

9. When training multiple children at the same time, resign yourself to having to give equal rewards regardless of individual skill levels. Just because Reagan quit getting candy every time she pottied months ago, when I started with the boys, we had to go right back to it. In her 3yo mind, it just wasn't fair any other way, and I didn't need that extra stress.

10. It's not fair to the fourth child that he doesn't get the same patience and attention that the first child got, so keep that in mind when it seems like he's going to start college in Pull-ups. He won't. Hopefully, he won't even start kindergarten in them.

Hopefully. I'll keep you posted.

Lovin' this New Look

Hey! Check it out! JonZReaTom has a new look! I hope you like it! I was ready for a change. It's not my dream layout, but I'm happy with it! I spent a ridiculous amount of time on it, not because it was hard, but because:

a. I couldn't make up my mind

b. I can't do anything simply

c. I was scared to death I would mess up what I already had

So I made a pretend blog for experimenting until I felt safe changing my real blog. And here it is! Enjoy!