Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dirty Laundry

I've been watching The Locator lately. A show where Troy Dunn goes in search of peoples long lost relatives and reunites them. He always says that there are three sides to every story - his, hers and the truth. I completely agree.

So what do you REALLY get when reading a blog, especially my blog. A glimpse. For the most part, I'm a pretty positive person, so you are only getting the positive side of every story as seen through my eyes. Since this is my journal for my kids, I find it easiest to tread on the side of happy and the negative stuff tends to get overlooked and not written about. But, the negative stuff does happen. And one day when my kids read this, I want them to hear all of it...the good, the bad and the ugly.

Trust me, we are not all peaches and cream. We have issues and problems just like every other family.

We'll start with our newest little Noah Bean. He is still not sleeping through the night at 8 months old. He is teething and learning to sleep unswaddled and he has some major catching up on growing to do since he has been sick since December. I'm sometimes up 4 or 5 times a night. David takes over around 4 AM and then I'm reassured to get some decent rest from 4-7:30. I know David would help more if I woke him up, but I feel he needs sleep in order to function the next day at work. I have the luxury of taking a nap (although it never happens) and staying in my pajamas until 2:45 when I'm forced to dress just to get Emily from school. (I refuse to be that Mom in yoga pants and no make up everyday.)

Sleep is one of my favorite things and not getting enough for 10 months is making me very, very cranky. I sometimes get up to take care of Noah after being asleep for 45 minutes and I feel dizzy. In any case, it was cause for a pretty big argument between David and I the other night. I learned that he wants me to wake him up more, so that I won't be so tired. I think the real reason he wants me to get more rest is so we can stop having cereal for dinner. I think Noah may have heard the argument because he only woke up once for me and once for David last night. I'm hoping he is turning the corner and we can see a little flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.

Emily had a playdate yesterday and came home with a pink rock. She seems to always come home from playdates with a trinket. Luckily, I'm good friends with the Mom of the other little girl who found out the story later and relayed it to me. Apparently, Emily asked her friend about 10 times for the rock until she finally gave in because she was afraid that Emily wouldn't be her friend anymore. So, that's what is going on. My sweet little girl who seems so quiet has mastered the art of persuasion. At home, her manipulation is very transparent. I was shocked to say the least and the rock was returned to it's rightful owner with an apology this morning. I hope she won't be doing that again.

Ben has been throwing some superhero sized tantrums lately. He's always been pretty mild and I feel like sometimes he saves it all up and goes postal. Not a good thing. We are starting to take away his superheros when he has an outburst. He needs to learn to express himself before it escalates to another level. He has also started to refer to himself in the third person as Batman. "Batman is hungry." "Batman wants orange juice." Not all the time, but when he is in full Batman dress up gear. He also has us act out scenes. He'll tell me what to say and to look out the window while I say it. He is writing a screen play complete with stage directions in his head. Is this normal for a four year old?

And don't even get me started on financial problems. David is getting another paycut in June and more mandatory furlough days. In the past year, he has lost 12.75% in pay, no overtime and has furlough days. We got a decent tax return and that's the only reason we are going to be able to take a vacation this year. With the addition of Noah to the family and the paycuts, we now qualify for some federal financial assistance programs like WIC and reduced lunches for Emily. We make the cutoff by a few hundred dollars a year, but we qualify. And you know what, I'll take the help wherever I can find it. David has worked for the state for 10 years and he almost makes less now than he did when he started. He didn't get the state into the mess it's in, nor did he receive any raise when everyone was living high off the hog during the economic boom. Now, he has to help bail the state out of the mess it created. I think we should move to Costa Rica.

We wouldn't qualify for federal assistance if we hadn't gotten the paycuts. Noah's special preemie formula is $250 a month. It's all covered through WIC. It's for kids under 5, so Ben is also getting about $40 a month worth of free food. I've been packing Emily's lunch the entire year because she barely eats it and it was way cheaper than the $1.75 that the school charges. She wanted to eat lunch at the school so she could sit by her friends. With the reduced lunch program, it costs 40 cents a day. I can't make her lunch for that cheap. And Noah's co-pay's for his RSV vaccine was going to cost us $300. Through some financial program through Walgreens Specialty Pharmacy, it's all covered. There is help out there. You just have to find it and not be embarrassed to take it. The State finds ways to keep taking David's pay. I'll keep finding ways to get it back. So really, it all comes out even in the end.

David and I haven't been on a real date in almost two years. Our last date, we saw The Dark Knight with Heath Ledger. He's been dead for over 2 years. Well, there was that one real romantic night last year when David came down to Phoenix and we visited Noah in the NICU, ate at the hospital cafeteria for dinner and went back to our room at the Ronald McDonald House. We slept in seperate beds because my C-section still hurt and I needed pillows all around me for support. There was nothing romantic about that night. We need to start making some time for just us.

And since I'm airing dirty laundry, I haven't washed our bed sheets in about a month, my house is a mess and I don't put away morning dishes until right before dinner.

Forgive me, I'm tired and nobody is perfect, especially not us.

Monday, March 29, 2010

At Our House...

Aunt Pam came up to visit for the night and the kids had a dance party with her and The Black Eyed Peas.

It was a beautiful sunny day and we spent lots of time outside playing.

Ben got a new Batman from Pam for his birthday, so Batman enjoyed the sunny day too.

David planted a blackberry bush.

I think our Noah Bean has allergies. 30 seconds in the grass and his eyes were watering and nose was dripping. 10 minutes inside and he was all better.

It was the time of year where we test all the sprinklers and drip system to make sure everything is working. The kids put on their swimsuits and had to run through the water. It was freezing, but they didn't seem to care.

We turned the slide into a slip and slide.

Of course, a popsicle (otter pop) is always the best treat after playing so hard.

Aqua Man hung out in the pool with some Barbies. Something tells me he was more than happy to ditch Batman and Robin.

We really soaked up the sun this weekend. Which was a good thing because the forecast is calling for snow on Thursday and Friday. God help me.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easy To Please

I'll admit it. I go to yard sales. I'm not a die hard, but I do get excited when I see a sign in my neighborhood. I started when I got pregnant with Noah. We had sold all of our baby clothes thinking we were done having kids. I could not justify spending hundreds of dollars on a new wardrobe for a baby. They grow so fast and sometimes wear things once or not at all.

I stated yard saling and I was amazed at the decent quality stuff. Onesies from Old Navy, sweaters from Children's Place, a romper from the Gap, all for 50 cents or at the most $1.00. There was even tons of stuff for Emily and Ben. Now there are some tricks to yard saling that I learned quickly. You have to go on Friday morning to get the good stuff. By Saturday, it's picked over. Stick to the best (most expensive) neighborhoods in the area. Just makes sense that they are getting rid of the best stuff.

There are two ladies in our subdivision that have daughters who are a size or two above Emily. They both have a few yard sales a year and I always stop. I fill up two grocery bags full of clothes, pajamas, leotards and shoes for about $20. My shopping is done for her for the upcoming season.

Yesterday, one of those moms had their yard sale. My friend Dakri spotted it first and since her daughter is the same age as Emily, she stopped and loaded up. She called to tell me about it because that's what frugal friends do. I had just put Noah down for a nap at 8:45 and knew that I wouldn't be able to go for hours. I like a sale, but I'm certainly not going to wake up a sleeping baby to get a skort for 50 cents.

My sweet friend came right over and stayed at my house with a sleeping Noah while I went to the yard sale. She's got my back. Ben even wanted to stay here with her. Both kids usually enjoy going because they get to pick one small toy (max price $1.00) and they think it's fantastic.

At one yard sale, I found this Batman shirt. I knew it was a size too big for Ben and it was missing the cape, but I had to get it. Plus the lady threw it in for free because I also bought 3 pairs of Old Navy shorts for $3.00, nice plaid shorts with the sinch in button waist. He was so excited when he saw the shirt he squealed, "Thanks Mom! You're the best!" I used one of my old shirts to make him a cape. I just need to get some velcro and sew it on. For now, it is safety pinned and he couldn't be happier.

Isn't this picture the best? The shirt may have been free, but he feels like a million bucks.

Emily was tickled pink when she put on her new Barbie nightgown.

I know in a few years, Emily and Ben will be repulsed and embarrassed that I buy clothes at yard sales, so I'm taking advantage of it now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Moviestar

Several years ago, my mother and father in law sent me money for my birthday. I chose to splurge and bought a fashionable pair of Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses. They were brown tortoise shell and had "D&G" in gold on the sides. They looked super cute and I liked to think the "D&G" stood for "David and Gina". I took really good care of them and always placed them in their protective pouch.

Then, I had babies. And my beautiful designer sunglasses got thrown in the huge purse that doubled as a diaper bag. And the protective pouch stored cheerios instead of my precious D&G's. Last year, they got really scratched and I could no longer where them. I felt a loss.

I couldn't justify spending that kind of money again. So, I went to Walmart and bought the most fashionable pair I could find. They cost $5. They did the job and I didn't mind if they got sandwiched at the bottom of my diaper purse between a sippy cup and an emergency stash of suckers.

I put them on yesterday and thought I had a bunch of mascara marks from my eyelashes. I tried to clean them. Gasp. That's not mascara. My $5 pair of sunglasses were all scratched. I did not feel a loss.

I knew just what I had to do. I went to Walmart.

The $5 spinning rack now was $10. This darn economy. So, I tried on several pairs and asked Ben what he thought. I knew I had found the right pair when Ben gasped and said, "Wow, you look like a moviestar." Sold.

We got to the car and I quickly peeled of the stickers, so I could where them. I was digging my new sunglasses and feeling like a moviestar driving my mini van.

I went to pick up Emily at school. The Kindergarten parents have to form a line and wait to sign out and pick up the kids. I'm chatting away feeling like a moviestar in my new sunglasses. The other Moms were particularly interested in my stories today and smiling at me. It must be the sunglasses I thought.

Then, I got my daughter and we went to the van. Now, Emily doesn't miss a thing and noticed my new glasses right away. I'm sure she thought I looked like a moviestar. But instead of a compliment, she asked why my glasses had an "S and 10" on them.

I thought she must be crazy. Until, I pulled them off my face to look at them. There wasn't an "S and 10", but I had left the $10 price tag sticker right on the front of them.

Moviestar or dork?
(Please don't answer that, I already know.)

Playhouse and Popsicles

When we lived in Phoenix, I was part of our neighborhood Mom group. One of the Mom's was giving away a playhouse. She had gotten it free from another Mom in the group and she wanted to pass it on. I quickly jumped at the offer knowing the kids would have fun playing in it and they did.

That was two years ago. I think they may be outgrowing it now. Because instead of going inside the house to play, they go on top of the house. (Maybe I should move it away from the very large glass window.)

Emily making a leap.

She's coaxing Ben to jump off too. He was hesitant at first.

But with enough coaching from his big sister, he was ready.

He leaped off the house in true superhero fashion.

I would suggest passing the playhouse on to somebody else. But since we have a little one that will actually play inside the house in the next few years, we'll keep it.

In other Ben and Emily news...
As soon as the temperatures got above freezing, Emily started asking for popsicles. Now, I like popsicles as much as the next kid, but they are messy. Emily seems to be getting better at eating them. Ben, can't eat one without half of it dripping down his arm. Popsicles are strictly a backyard treat.

We went for a bike ride last night and the kids needed a bath when we got home. They took their first bath together in over a month. They were still asking for popsicles and I didn't want to give them one after their bath because I knew they'd end up a mess. So, I did this.

David thought I was crazy and said, "You can't give them a popsicle in the bathtub."

To which I replied, "Why not?"

He didn't have an answer, but let out a puff of air with a little grunt.

Maybe I am crazy.

But, when Ben finished his popsicle, he simply dipped his arm in the water and he was good to go.

Crazy or genius?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ben's Talent

About six months ago, I wrote about Ben reading a Spiderman book. I was impressed at the time. He was only three and I thought that was pretty good memorization for a three year old. The Spiderman book is probably about 10 pages.

Now that he is four, he is moving up to bigger and better books. His new favorite is "I Am Batman". It's 30 pages long and he pretty much has the whole book memorized. We've probably read it to him about 30 times.

The kid can't hold a crayon properly to save his life, but his talents obviously lie elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Childhood Home

My mother in law sent us this website that I had so much fun with. It's basically like google earth, but it doesn't require a download to your computer. It's just a web page, but you can search any address and take a look at the area. We even looked around at the little town, San Fili, that my Dad is from in Italy. He couldn't find his old home because he wasn't 100% of the street name. It would've been fun to see where they lived and how their donkey lived in the basement. It still brought back memories though and he told me a story about how he almost got hit by a bus outside of the town square that we were looking at.

Here is the link to my childhood home.
It starts on the north side of the street, so you have to pan around to the south side. That was my home with the red SUV in the driveway.

And if you look to the house on the left of my home, you see the other home that I lived in. We moved when I was in Jr. High to the house next door. Crazy, right? We had sold our home with intentions of moving to this beautiful home on the golf course. The guy we were buying it from had some tax problems, so he needed to wait on the sale for a few months. In the meantime, my Dad started looking at businesses since he had some cash from the sale of our home. Long story short, he bought a Dunkin Donuts and my grandmother who lived in New York and owned and rented the house next door to us, told us to move in to that home. So we did.

If you have some time to burn today, check out your childhood home. It's amazing what a difference 20 years can make.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Party's Over

It was back to school for Emily today. Spring break is over. And most of our company left on Sunday. Grammie is still here, but she leaves tomorrow morning.

It suddenly feels very quiet at our house. We had a fun visit with family.

The girl cousins got to teeter totter together. Say that 10 times fast.

Look at my niece, Rachel. I could just eat her she is so darn cute.

Here are the boy cousins, 4 1/2 months apart, but really only 2 1/2 with Noah's adjusted age. Gregory is a big guy. I think Noah is only 1 or 2 inches taller.

And now he's picking on his cousin. He wasn't actually pulling his ear, but it looks like it.

I weighed them on the wii fit and Noah was a whopping 3 ounces heavier than Gregory! Can you believe it? That Gregory is going to eat them out of house and home and our poor Noah has been so sick for 4 months that he was barely eating. He has some catching up to do.

Since getting a photo of just the five of them at Sears didn't go well, we thought we'd try it at home. You can see we had the same luck as Sears.

It's so wonderful that the cousins get to grow up together, even if we only get to see them once or twice a year. We are hoping to meet up again in San Diego for fall break.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Photographic Chaos

Knowing that all five of the grandchildren were going to be together for the first time, we knew we had to capture the moment with pictues. The original plan was to get some photos of the 5 grandkids, then add grandma, then add David and his sister.

We quickly squashed that plan and went with everyone at once because at least adults could hold and contain the babies. This was the end result.

They turned out well and I'm glad Gwynne got a photo with her two kids and her five grandkids. Not too many grandparents get a photo like that. Then little Rachel had to go explore, so I got to get in a few pictures with my family of five.

Then, she took one of just David and I. This was the first picture of just the two of us in years that wasn't taken with me holding my arm out and snapping the photo. Usually cutting off his head or giving myself a double chin. I like how it turned out.

Then, she wanted one of just the kids by themselves. Alisa's little girl was off and running and her baby was tired, so we went with my three.

To get Emily to sit up straight, we told her to act like she was 6 1/2. It worked like a charm.

Ben was being a bit of a pill at this point, so we let him pose with his Batmans.

Surprisingly, Noah was hamming it up for the camera.

Then, we attempted one of all three, which obviously, did not go well.

We are glad we did it, but we vowed to not even try it again for at least 2 more years. It will take us that long to recoup.

Friday, March 19, 2010

At Our House...

David's sister, her husband and their two kids (ages 15 months and 2 months) are visiting from North Carolina. When they planned their visit, we all knew that David's Mom would love to be here too. This is the first time all 5 of her grandkids have ever been together. How could she miss it? She couldn't. So, she flew our here from Orlando to join in the craziness.

And crazy it has been. The house is loud and messy and totally fun.

Emily discovered Uncle Daniel's laptop. I'm surprised she hasn't put one on her Christmas list already.

Noah was lovin' on his Grammie.

Ben played with Batman. Shocker.

Rachel thought she was at a toy and book store.

Baby Gregory was passed out cold on the sofa.

Tomorrow we have a photo session at Sears. They won't know what hit them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Expanding On The Phase

When I came home from the hospital with Noah in August, I wanted to bring Emily and Ben a gift. For what, I'm not sure. I was hardly bringing them a souvenir from some tropical location. I certainly didn't want them to feel like it was a bribe for having their mother gone for 18 days. Maybe I just wanted them to know I was thinking about them, to reassure them that they are still in the spotlight even if their baby brother stole it (and their Mom) for over 2 weeks. Who are we kidding? Honestly, I just wanted them to be super excited to see me.

In any case, I brought them both pajamas and some other stuff. I made a special trip to Target to get Ben Superman pajamas with a cape. He was just starting to think Superheros were cool and I knew he'd like the pajamas. It has started an obsession going on 7 months.

We bought a bad guy that was on clearance at Walmart for Ben's birthday. He needed a villain to defeat. In the box was a thin comic book. He didn't seem to notice it at first, but last week he found it and he can't get enough.

Now I used to read the funnies every Sunday, but superhero comic books are new to me. And I just don't get them. There are bubbles everywhere. I found myself reading one portion and then stopping because I missed a bubble. Are they supposed to be difficult or are they written in a special man code?

Lucky for me, David was more than happy to rescue me and read Ben his comic book.

We picked up a few more at the library this week and I tell Ben that this is his special time with Daddy and they can read them together. Which is a good thing because all those bubbles gave me a headache.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Would I Do Without Her?

I love this girl.

She didn't get a chance to be a real big sister with Ben because she was only 17 months old when he was born. She was still a baby herself.

Now that she is five, she is loving being a big sister. All day long she wants to play with her brother. Show him toys, sing to him, make him laugh. She wants to feed him and change his diaper, not the poopy ones though.

She loves Noah and he loves her.

Today she wanted to take Noah outside, but it's sunny and I didn't want to cart the jumperoo out there and set up the umbrella. Then, I remembered the baby swing that has been in the shed since we moved here. I got it hooked up and she's been out there for 30 minutes pushing him.

And Mama is able to get some housework done before our company comes tomorrow. Now, if I could only get Emily to show as much enthusiasm for cleaning toilets.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

18 Minutes

Last summer, if David had to leave for work in the morning and Ben was awake (Emily always sleeps in), he would turn on a tv show for him and tell him to wake me up when it was done, trying to give me an extra 30 minutes of sleep. I was pregnant at the time and up all hours of the night because I was uncomfortable. That 30 minutes made a world of difference. Ben is a great child and would do exactly as he was told. Watch his show and then wake me up. He wouldn't play with knives, go outside or start the house on fire. I lucked out in the kid department.

I woke up this morning at 7:43. David leaves for work at 7:40. The house was quiet. I figured Ben was watching a show and would wake me up at 8:10 when it was over. I saw the monitor on and thought the baby is still sleeping? No way. I had to get up. The TV wasn't on. The bedroom doors were shut, all 3 of them. Everyone was still sleeping. I couldn't believe it. I dreamed about days like this. Of course in my dream, I hadn't woken up at 3:45 to give Noah a bottle, but at this point, I take what I can get.

I got myself a cup of coffee and sat and enjoyed the silence. I love the stillness of my house. Except usually the only time I get to enjoy it is after a 2 AM feeding. No TV. No computer. I just sat in the recliner and enjoyed the quiet. Then, I got bored in 2 minutes and got on the computer. Uninterrupted, I checked e-mail, played scrabble and read a few blogs.

8:01...I hear Ben's little feet come down the hallway.

It was only 18 minutes of silence, but I cherished each and every one of them.

A Day In The Sun

We went to the zoo today with our friends. It was a warm sunny day with little wind. It was perfect.

Emily was happy and having fun. Even if she did ask me 1,000 times when she could go in the snake house. Luckily, my friend takes the kids in and I wait outside. I blame it on the stroller, but we all know the truth. I am not getting in a confinded space with 20 snakes. No thanks.

Then Ben saw the free roaming peacocks and freaked out. He seriously screamed like I would say a little girl, but Emily wasn't even screaming. So, he screamed like a baby. Then, he fell (over his own feet) and skinned his knee. He decided he would pout because I couldn't and wouldn't carry him around the zoo.

Luckily, I convinced him that Superman wouldn't pout and he snapped out of his funk. If that doesn't work, I remind him that Batman would never be mean to his mom because he doesn't have one and then he suddenly seems grateful that he does. How many years of therapy is that comment going to cause him?

Noah was the star child today. He slept in his car seat attached to the stroller the entire time. He woke up for about 30 seconds.

Then, it was back to dreamland for him. He is a great baby when he doesn't have double ear infections.

We left the zoo 2 hours later, tired, hot and sweaty. And I knew what I had to do when we got home. Make some tea. In the winter, I drink a cup of coffee in the afternoons. In the summer, I make tea in this handy Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Maker and David and I drink almost a pot a day.

I'm sipping my first glass of the season.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Oh Bumbo, Where Have You Been All My Life?

I don't know when the Bumbo seat was invented. I don't remember it being around when I had Emily or Ben. Maybe I was too tired and sleep deprived to notice the Bumbo. In any case, I noticed it this time and picked one up from Craigslist before Noah was even born. It is so awesome. I would put this down on my list of must haves for any new parent. Not that I have a list, but if I did...

It's so versatile.

Here's Noah in his Bumbo with Emily watching their Dad do yard work.

Noah learning to change a bicycle tube.

Noah watching me use the neti pot.

Noah not interested in mascara, but very interested in his brother on the counter as Batman, probably a good thing.

Learning to play scrabble.

Watching his sister swing and Batman slide.

Hanging out with his brother and sister watching a movie or just watching them watch a movie. I'm not sure if he's more interested in Emily's barbeque chips or the Spiderman mask.

I did read the recall notice on this item and saw that a few kids fell out of the seat from a high surface and hurt themselves. I don't put Noah on an elevated surface unless I am right there, so no need to worry about the little bean.

And if you think the Bumbo seat outgrows it's life after a few months, think again. If you happen to have a skinny four year old, you can use it for years and years to come.