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WFMW: Little Helpers

  • Posted on May 16, 2012 at 8:25 am

Last night, I was doing the quasi-single-mom thing while Chad worked a late shift.  I had a million things to do, both for work and around the house.  And i had to balance the kids, and hopefully not ignore them all night while I checked things off my list.

So I took a deep breath, and asked Brianna if she wanted to be my helper for the night.  She was ecstatic!  She put away the clean silverware, helped me wash the dishes (and actually helped wash, not just played around in the water), and helped carry her sheets downstairs and put them in the washer.  Benjamin chipped in a bit as well, but his helping is still more like “just keep him busy” than actually helping me.

Brianna loved helping.  And yes, the tasks took me slightly longer than if I had done them without the kids in the picture at all – but they still took less time than if I had tried to do them with both kids hanging off of me and stopping me every other minute.  Plus, I can count it under quality time with Brianna. And she’s learning that the housework doesn’t do itself, which I’m sure will be helpful at some point in the future!

Having little helpers works for me!

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

7 Quick Takes

  • Posted on May 11, 2012 at 9:35 am

— 1 —

My kids say some of the cutest things:

Brianna insists on calling polka-dots “poka-nuts”.  I love this, and hope she never grows out of it.

When Benjamin wants to be carried, he reaches his arms up and says “I carry you! I carry you!”

We put the kids in the bath the other night, and Brianna decided she needed to get back out and sit on the potty.  I went to lift her out, and she yelled “Stop!  My feet will leak on the floor!”.   After Chad and I stopped laughing, we got her a towel for her leaky feet.

Brianna was looking for something pink the other day, and kept saying “I can’t find the pink one!”  Benjamin very helpfully brought her a stuffed penguin, saying “Bran-na, here’s the pen-kwin!”  She had no idea what he was talking about.

Benjamin has decided he wants to go to the beach.  He has no idea what the beach is, I don’t think, but he keeps saying “I want to go the BEACH! I can’t see the BEACH” and pulling us to the door. So we might have to make a trip to the beach soon…

Apparently, Brianna was filmed at church for a mother’s day video to be shown to the congregation on Sunday.  I’m a little afraid at what might possibly come out of her mouth, on camera. It’s either going to be adorable, or mortifying.  Probably both.

— 2 —

I need this error code book:

— 3 —

Since I already geeked you out with xkcd, here’s an article that makes me laugh every time.  If a programming language was a boat.  The last picture is the one that kills me.

— 4 —

I actually bought Brianna a scissors workbook this week.  A whole book of paper – that’s designed to be cut up.  That makes me cringe for so many reasons, but she needs the scissor work (per her preschool teacher) and I don’t have time to hunt down 50 print-out sheets on the internet.  But! If you have an pointers for places to go to get print outs, or ways to work on scissor skills, I’m all ears!

— 5 —

This is how I feel at work sometimes.

Luckily, we have a couple of new people coming on board, which should lighten the workload and improve the standards of our apps across the board.  Yay!

— 6 —

I love this:

Actually, if I could fill my house with word art of witty/inspiring quotes, I probably would.  (Etsy will be my downfall, seriously). There are a ton of them that I love, and I don’t seem to have enough walls.

— 7 —

Tonight, courtesy of my neighbors who are trading babysitting with us, I am totally going on a date with my husband>  Not sure if we’ll make to dinner and a movie, or just dinner, but I am really looking forward to it.  It seems like out life is so busy, we seldom have time for just us… it’s nice to take an evening out and be able to eat a meal without cutting up someone else’s food or bringing a diaper bag every now and again.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!  Actually, Betty Beguiles is guest hosting this week!

Things I Love Thursday: Sun Catcher Paint Pens

  • Posted on May 10, 2012 at 7:52 am

Brianna loves crafts.  I mean, loves. Them. Seriously.  And I… love not making a mess.  But! I want her to have fun, and to be able to make things for other people, which she loves to do.

So I do a fair amount of shopping at Oriental Trading Company.  They have a ton of craft kits and supplies for little ones, and Brianna has loved everything we’ve tried from them (and so have my Cubbies at church!).  Their prices are reasonable, and other than having to buy sets of kits, and paying shipping, we’ve had little problems with them

But my latest find is these:

Marvelous Sun Catcher Paint Pens

That’s right.  Sun Catcher PENS.  Brianna can now paint sun catchers, using these great squeeze pens. Sometimes, she goes overboard and overfills a section, or gets paint on her hands, but – for the most part – these things are way less mess than regular paint and brushes.

Brianna loves these.  And uses them every chance she gets.  I actually had to go out and buy her more sun catchers to paint!  And I love that she can make things, and have fun, without creating a mess that takes all night to clean up.

For more Things I Love Thursdays, head over to Be The Difference!

Disclaimer: I didn’t get anything for posting this, free products or otherwise.  I just really like these pens!

Family fun – and trying to be the “fun mom”

  • Posted on May 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Yesterday, after work, I had a ton of things to get done at home.  I had a long day at work, still had stuff on my mind, and  my usual “top three” chores for the night were all big, plus I had a bunch of non-negotiable’s (laundry and such) to finish before bed.

I cooked dinner.  I was short with Brianna, trying to help her with writing while I was cooking, and doing too many things at once.  And I felt bad.  I didn’t want to stick the kids in front of the TV for the evening again, but I looked outside, and the jumpy in the back yard was full of rain water and bugs and needed to be washed… so I had an idea.

Chad and I changed into clothes that could get wet.  I stripped the kids down to skin, right by the back door, and shimmied them into bathing suits.  And I gave them soap and rags and turned on the hose, so they could clean the jumpy.

AT first I thought it was a bust.  Brianna didn’t want water sprayed on her, and Benjamin was terrified of the whole ordeal.  But after a couple of minutes, they started to warm up to the idea… and in the end, they had a blast. And we cleaned the jumpy.  And part of the back of the house.  And the concrete.

And that’s the story of how a grumpy evening, turned into a happy family evening, with just a little water and soap.  And my chores?  Waited until today.

I hope these are the types of days Brianna and Benjamin remember.  The days we laughed and had fun and did something silly.  Not the days  I was grumpy and mean trying to get the chores done…

7 Quick Takes

  • Posted on May 4, 2012 at 11:54 am

— 1 —

So I was just sent this news story. Someone apparently shot the Saturn V rocket in Huntsville.  Could have been n accident (not the firing of the gun, but the fact that it entered the Davidson Center and hit the rocket). Thankfully no one was hurt.

Have I ever mentioned how attached I am to Saturn V rockets?  That particular one used to lie in the back of Rocket Park outside the USSRC, and I loved walking by it when I worked there – the sheer size of it was overwhelming and amazing.  Then, they built a replica of it next to the center (which was a huge politics issue, and ultimately the full plan for a gantry and restaurant, etc,was never finished – just the rocket.

And it was under that replica that Chad and I more or less started dating. Not that we would have admitted it at the time.  When we drive into Huntsville for visits, I love seeing that rocket – it means we’re almost there.  In some strange way, the rocket is home in a way that other places in Huntsville are not. Chad and I joke about buying it to go in our yard, if the HOA would let us (the fact that the base of the rocket is larger than our yard is beside the point).

I was very excited when they moved the real Saturn V to the Davidson Center – it’s really nice, and I love how they are protecting it and displaying it.  And now I’m sad because someone shot it, and I have no idea why.  It seems like a pretty freak accident, if that’s what it was.

Anyway.  Enough space nostalgia. I hope they find out who did it and why.

— 2 —

Brianna still climbs up in bed with me about 2 nights a week or so.  Something will wake her up, and she’ll come snuggle until she goes back to sleep, and at some point I get tired of being kicked/poked/not having enough space, and I carry her back to her bed to wait out the rest of the night.  Or when I turn the light on in the morning, she decides her room is nicer because it’s dark, and scampers off to bed for a few more minutes.

So when she climbed into my bed two nights ago, telling me she was cold, I just rolled over and gave her some covers.  She was right – her legs were freezing!  But I felt nothing wet, and was too tired to ask questions.  So I went back to sleep.  Eventually, I carried her back to her bed, only to discover her sheets were soaked. She had wet the bed, gotten up and changed underwear and then gotten in bed with me.  Which totally makes sense, I guess, if you’re cold.

We has a middle of the night chat about letting mommy know then these things happen, and I changed her sheets and sent her back to bed.

Last night, when she crawled into my bed cold, I thought for a minute and asked “Is your bed wet?”.  Luckily, it was not.

— 3 —

Benjamin has entered the age of the tantrums.  Full blown, laying on the floor, screaming tantrums.  I have no idea what to do with this, any more than i did when Brianna did it.  He too young for logic, so I end up trying to separate him from whatever is causing the tantrum, distracting him, and holding him until it’s over.  But he’s becoming less distractable – maybe because his memory is better?  My point is, it takes more than a banana or some tickles to make him stop screaming.  If two is going to be this bad, I might just ship him off until he’s four.  Not really.  But maybe.

— 4 —

I have been trying (badly at times, like yesterday) to do more fun/educational stuff with the kids.  Brianna has been painting sun catchers, using scissors, writing with dry erase markers, and I even have some beads for her to string on pipe cleaners this weekend or next week to practice patterns and counting.  Bu I’m kind of at a loss for what to do with Benjamin -he’s only a year and a half, so he still puts pretty much everything in his mouth.  I’m thinking I might try homemade (edible) playdough this weekend?  But I would love some more ideas.

Any advice?

— 5 —

Chad discovered that Brianna really likes soccer.  And she’s actually kids of good at it (ie, better than me at chasing/kicking the ball, which probably doesn’t say much, but really, she’s 3). So we are starting to look at soccer leagues.  OMG.  The prices.  I have been so spoiled by our daycare, that offers Stretch-n-Grow and Ballet classes for $35/month/each.  So going into this, I was thinking, sure, soccer’s probably a little more.  Like $40/month, plus cleats, etc.

HAHAHA.  Summer session, which is 6-8 weeks, depending on the league, is $100-$150 depending on the league.  There are a couple of options for 3 year old’s in town, all claim to be positive and fun and blah blah blah.  No idea if we’re going to do it, or put it off another little while because she’s little, we’re lazy, and it’s expensive.

— 6 —

In looking for free concerts to take the kids too, in order to see if they will enjoy it/behave enough for us to buy the family symphony tickets, I stumbled upon the fee schedule for Pearland ISD Dawson High School’s Diamonds (the nationally ranked dance team).  Let’s just say soccer fees are the least of my worries. $600 just for costumes.  Plus fees for trips, competition, other fees, etc – it looked like over $2000.  For a year.

Brianna will need a part-time job to support that type of habit, if she goes that route in high school.  Because man, is that a lot of money.  Maybe soccer isn’t so expensive after all.

— 7 —

I have thrown away/recycled a small trash can full of empty sample packets and little bottles and such this week.  Most  empty, some not. Decluttering for the win! I’ve found a few winners in my sample pile, though – I’ll try to blog about them later.

I also am looking at some sample beauty box programs, trying to find some good products that work with my skin/hair/everything. I started with New Beauty TestTube, and just got my first tube, so I have some posts that should be coming up on that as well.  Not that I want this to turn into a beauty blog or anything – I just want to record what works for me and what I should look into buying later, when I run out of samples, haha.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Personal Blogging

  • Posted on April 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm

So the personal blogging has been a little… sparse… lately.  I’m trying to balance how much I want to write, and how much I have time to write, and how public I want my writing to be.

To be honest, I’m struggling.  Time is my biggest issue, and balance in just about every area of my life.  I have more work to do than I can get done in the time allotted, and leaving things undone stresses me out.  I’m trying to prioritize things, and streamline the non-negotiable tasks, but it’s hard.  Work is stressful. Trying to keep the house in order and running smoothly is stressful. Parenting is fun, but stressful. Second-guessing every decision a billion times, very stressful.

I have had a few successes – I mean, the laundry is fairly caught up (less than two loads dirty in the house) – Chad’s helped a lot, and there’s often clothes in a basket or on the table to be folded, but no one has had to scrounge for underwear or socks anytime recently.  So that’s a win.

I spent a weekend with Chad in Denver – and no kids.  Also a win, as it’s the first time we’ve been able to do that!  My house was clean enough that I didn’t mind my mother-in-law and father-in-law staying there with the kids, and I worked hard on not stressing over it being perfect (It wasn’t.  They didn’t mind).  In fact, they arrived about 5 hours earlier than I expected them – and I was ok with it, even though I hadn’t finished all the chores I was going to before they arrived.  I didn’t stress about the kids while we were gone, and we had a great time with friends, living it up, staying up late, and sleeping most of the day.Exactly what i needed for a getaway.

But the day to day management of home, work, and kids – now there’s my struggle.  And probably something I’ll hash out more than once here, as I try and figure it out. And as I have time to write.



WFMW: Sick Child Edition

  • Posted on April 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

So I spent Monday & Tuesday home with Brianna, because she had a fever (and it turns out, strep & scarlet fever.  Go us!).  I was technically “working”, because that’s what we do in my office, but it was a challenge to keep Brianna entertained and feeling not-neglected while I tried to make icons and update UI sketches and what was I supposed to be doing again?  Here’s what worked for us, to some extent:

  1. Disney movies. Thanks to my husband, who started collecting them before we got married, we have almost all the Disney full-length animated films on DVD and/or BluRay.  So I let Brianna pick a movie, and then another, and then another… the first day, when she was really sick, she was mostly content to snuggle me and watch the movies while I worked around her.
  2. A pow-er stick.  This was totally needed for my sweet, empathic child, who has more than her share of feelings on a good day, but on a sick day has even more.  When the scary bad guys came out (some of the classic Disney stuff is pretty scary, yo) she pointed her stick at the TV and yelled POW! It made her feel better, and less scared.  When the sad parts of the movies happened, she snuggled me even more, and might have shed a tear or two because it was so sad.
  3. Scissors and magazines.  Y’all, I have way too many magazines.  Food magazines and family magazines and parenting magazines – lots of pretty pictures!  So when Brianna wanted to do “homework” at the table? I busted out the magazine stash and scissors, and sent her on a scavenger hunt. “Can you find five things that start with B?  How about three red things?”  Much fun was had cutting, and the magazines were thrown away after (double win).
  4. Bubbles. I opened the back door, and sent Brianna into the yard with a bottle of bubble solution.  When that ran out, I made her more using dish soap and water.  She was entertained for at least an hour – and the weather was nice enough that other than letting every bug in the county into the house, it wasn’t a problem for me to leave the door open and work at the kitchen table, where I could both see and hear her, and she could run in and out at will.
  5. Mommy’s helper.  Brianna “helped” me do a bunch of stuff.  Including looking for icons on a page, trying to draw something on the computer, and various chores around the house (but nothing involving touching clean laundry or clean dishes, because yikes! germs).  She felt good about helping, and I was patient enough to realize that work done slowly and not-perfectly was better than no work at all :-)
  6. Dry erase markers. Brianna loves them, and loves erasing them.  So we played with the white board a fair amount. I have a ton of markers I got free/cheap when school started, so she had many colors to choose from.
  7. No dress code.  Brianna has now declared that she loves being sick, because it means she doesn’t have to wear pants. True story.  Normally, once the kids are dressed I make sure they stay that way (other than shoes and socks) – but since we were home sick, I relaxed the rules.  Being three, and not having a great sense of social norms yet, Brianna was very content to run around in a t-shirt and underwear.  But was super-sad to have to wear pants today, to go back to school.
  8. Snuggles.  Yep, this is most of what we did.  I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped, work-wise, but we made the best of our couple of days at home, and spent a lot of time snuggling. Hopefully, that’s what she’ll remember :-)

You can find more Works For Me Wednesday post over at We Are THAT Family.

Five Minute Friday: Together

  • Posted on April 20, 2012 at 8:43 am

On Fridays, Gypsy Mama holds a blog carnival where we all stop and write for five minutes – no editing, no over-thinking, just write. Care to join us?

This week’s topic is: Together

They are amazing together.  Sure, there are moments when they fight over a toy, or push and shove or are unkind, but for the most part – they are amazing.  They love each other so much. Brianna will hold Benjamin’s hand, share her snacks with him, or help him with different toys.  They pray together at night.  They chase each other, playing games I don’t understand, and filling my house with laughter.  So much laughter.  Benjamin can say her name now, and he calls her all the time – “Bran-na! Bran-na!”.  They love playing together and being together, and – as I hoped when I found out they would be so close in age – Brianna doesn’t ever remember not having a little brother. They protect each other and cheer each other on, and delight in each others accomplishments (Brianna is anxiously awaiting Benjamin’s “big boy bed” so he can be like her).

I hope they are always like this – happy, friends, together.

Five Minute Friday: Gift

  • Posted on March 30, 2012 at 12:45 pm

On Fridays, Gypsy Mama holds a blog carnival where we all stop and write for five minutes – no editing, no over-thinking, just write. Care to join us?

This week’s topic is: Gift

Brianna and I were discussing what she learned in Puggles last week, and she was happily telling me about how God and Jesus made her, and love her (and made Benjamin, and Mommy, and Daddy, and her friends, etc).  Then she asked me, “IF God and Jesus love me so much, can they come to my house?”

I stammered. I have no idea exactly what I said, other than I think I mentioned that God was special and he was always with us, and that God and Jesus live in heaven which is really far away. “Like Grandma’s house?” she asked.  Well, kind of, maybe, I guess.

I have no idea when I expected theology questions form her. She’s three years old, so it’s understandable, but I’m so not ready.  I feel totally inadequate to point her to the gift I’ve found in my relationship with God, the gifts I rediscover every day.  I feel like I’m failing at this, and it bothers me a lot – I bought some books, reviewed my Cubbies material, started brainstorming ways to work spiritual truths into our everyday life…Maybe it’s time to buckle down and start devotions, to start her on some Bible memory – the scriptures can teach her much more effectively, I think, than I can.

My children are a gift to me from God – but in turn, I’m responsible for guiding them to him, so they can find the gift of Life… and that responsibility seems so huge right now.

Five Minute Friday: Loud

  • Posted on March 23, 2012 at 10:24 am

On Fridays, Gypsy Mama holds a blog carnival where we all stop and write for five minutes – no editing, no over-thinking, just write.  Care to join us?

This week’s topic is: Loud

The kids are so loud – all the time, it seems.  Loud when they are angry, because I’m not giving in to their whims, or because the other is not sharing, loud when they have a new bump or scrape or owwie – but also loud when they are happy, playing together.  Brianna loves to make Benjamin laugh, usually involving some form of yelling.  Benjamin loves to yell, just to get Brianna (and the rest of us) to look at him.  And while, at the end of a long day at work, the LOUD can grate on me and I count the minutes until bedtime and quiet and peacefulness – so many things happen in the loud that I would hate to miss.  Like Benjamin’s smile of triumph when he jumps out of the playhouse and says “Boo!”, or Brianna’s laughter as they chase each other up and down the hall… like Benjamin surprising us all by counting to ten yesterday, or Brianna telling me I’m her “favorite princess”… like Brianna’s stubborn mornings, just like her daddy, or the look on Benjamin’s face when he wants a banana.

If I can live in the loud, these are the things i can see – and they certainly are worth every minute of loud, no matter how long my day was.