Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Around Our House

Evenings around our house are pretty low key. They involve diapered babies running around the backyard. Or is that a baby Saskwatch?

And cowgirls running through the grass in their pajamas. Those are our raspberry bushes behind her. Looking forward to a great raspberry year.

And Batman swinging nunchucks.

Mornings around our house involve coffee. We are all coffee drinkers. Yes, the kids too. Noah just got off his morning sippy cup of milk and is in need of something stronger. He found Ben's coffee this morning and he loves it.

Ben watched the Hulk this morning and decided he needed cheerios with green milk. So, that's what he got. He also had a dentist appointment and I pray I got all the green off his teeth. Great dental report, by the way.

Emily went to her first piano lesson this afternoon. She came home and was very eager to practice her first song. I love that she learned to play with more than just her pointer finger.

Our friend is teaching her and Emily is loving it so far.

It's our first week off for summer and so far so good.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Officially Summer

Summer is officially here. I know this because the rack in our laundry room changed today. It went from this:

To this:

The pool at our clubhouse opened for the season this weekend. Even though our nightly lows are in the forties, we thought we would go and if nothing else spend some time in the hot tub.

Ben jumped right in.

Emily took her time getting in.

Noah was content to just watch for awhile.
The pool was pretty cold, but they didn't seem to mind. They went back and forth from the hot tub to the pool and back to the hot tub again.
Eventually, Noah got in. Hey, he wanted to. He clung to David for dear life. Then, he sat on the steps of the hot tub with me.
David threw the kids.
And Noah threw everything in the pool.
And Ben warmed up in the hot tub. I think he is either 6 months pregnant or looking at Buzz Lightyear on his shirt.
Emily was back to being a fish in no time.
And would you look who has little curls in his hair? I may just have to forgo my 1/2" clippers on his hair and let it grow.

When Emily turned 5, she started swimming the width of the pool. We tell the kids, at five, the floaties need to go. We let Ben wear his floaties for a little bit today. Then, he had his first swim lesson of the season.

In true Mom fashion, I have eyes in the back of my head. Ben did great. He does an impressive doggie paddle. I'm hoping to get rid of the floaties in the next month.

We had a great afternoon at the pool. This is how we spend almost every evening and weekend during the summer months. I'm happy to see the rack filled with wet towels and swimsuits again.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Schools Out For Summer

It's the first day of summer vacation. I've been having bittersweet feelings about this break. I was worried that I would spend my days yelling at the kids. But, I've decided to take a different approach. Yell less, play more. Say no less, say yes more. Clean less (if that's possible), make more messes. Good idea, eh?

They spent the afternoon in Ben's room. It's a mess. I'll clean it on August 8th. Then, they found all the remote control cars from Christmas 2008 whose batteries have been dead since January 2009. 17 AA batteries later, we were playing in the backyard and drinking some lemonade.

Just a word of caution, do not, I repeat do not, let Green Lantern drive the Jeep Rubicon.

And always wear your seat belt.

I think this is going to be a fun summer. I'm very optimistic. But, it's only day 1.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Graduate

Ben is officially a preschool graduate. The ceremony was Monday night.
He looked so handsome in his cap and gown.

Here are all three of the kids.

Emily wanted to take a photo of Ben and I. I realize that I'm in too few photos, so I obliged.

Then, we tried to get all serious looking at each other, but all we did was laugh.

And of course a kiss.

The proud parents and the graduate.

And of course, Emily needs a photo with her Daddy.

Here's Ben with his best buds.

The preschool does a great job with the ceremony. They sang a few songs. When I took the first video I thought for sure Ben was pointing to me when he was singing.

The second video confirms he was looking and pointing to me. I had Noah on my lap, so the video is a little shaky and I couldn't stop laughing when I realized he was singing to me. He's quite the romantic.

There was a slide show and Ben said he wanted to be a builder.

Which it now makes sense because about a month ago, he kept naming jobs that he wanted to be one day. An actor, a work man (construction worker) and a dancer. I figure he can try out for one of the Village People and have all three covered.

David and I were enjoying the ceremony and I realized I had no clue where Noah was. I looked over at Emily and she was holding him. She is such a great big sister.

Here's Ben walking across the stage to get his diploma.

Getting his diploma...

I was a little emotional that night. Sad to see my boy grow up and move on from preschool. But, today when I went to pick him up for the last time, I couldn't stop the tears. I got there a little early just to watch him play, which I often do. Him and his friend Caleb were running around in the sprinklers.

And he did one last Spiderman jump with his friend for good measure. This is something they did every day when they left school.

Next year will be a huge change for Ben. A new school and all of his best buds are going to other schools. I know he will make new friends and he'll love his new school, but part of me wishes he could stay in preschool forever.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Character Counts

Most of the time, I feel as if I'm stumbling through parenthood, making things up as I go and second guessing myself and my decisions. Sometimes, I just close my eyes and shake my head ashamed after something slips out of my mouth or I blow up too quickly. I often feel that in addition to a college fund, my kids will need a therapy fund.

But every once in a while, I think maybe just maybe I'm not screwing up that badly. Yesterday, we went to Emily's school because she received a character counts award. Her teacher sent home an invitation for the assembly and wrote that Emily is receiving the award for showing good character in the areas of respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship and trustworthiness! And honestly, isn't that all you ever want your kids to be? Just good people.

She said she was nervous standing up on stage.

And she said her name and teacher nice and loud.

She took a picture with the school mascot, a coyote.

She is becoming such a confident little lady and I am so proud of her.
Maybe, just maybe, that therapy fund can go towards a used car instead.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Noah copies everything we do. Which can be a good and bad thing.
He helps me fold clothes. He even shakes them out like I do before he folds them. By the way, he folds clothes by throwing them on the floor and stepping on them.

He helps me wash the windows. Then, he puts his mouth and spit all over it.

He sits on his potty fully clothed and goes to the bathroom. Does that count as using the toilet? Yeah, I didn't think so.

He gives himself a mustache with a Sharpie. Well, none of us do this, but it's a cute picture.

He runs around naked in the backyard. I think he gets this from David.

He spins around with the big kids to get dizzy.

He watches me get ready a lot. And I must say, he does a good job of putting on makeup. He blots his lips.

Then adds more lipgloss.

And he stares at himself in the mirror. I do not do that at least not with my head pressed against the mirror.

He tries to comb his hair.

Okay, he doesn't have it all down. He's combing his hair with my blush brush.

It's fun to watch him imitate us, but on the other hand I think I'm teaching my son how to be a pretty little housewife.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hangin' On

When Emily lost her two bottom front teeth, she already had new teeth growing in. I never got to see her with a big gap in her teeth. I love kids with a gap in their teeth. There's just something so adorable about it. Youth, a right of passage, the tooth fairy, it's all great.

Emily's front tooth has been wiggly for about 6 months. For the past week, every time she bumped her mouth on anything it would start bleeding. It was getting looser and looser. Last night she hit it in the bathtub and the water works started. We were trying to pull it out for her, but she was scared.

So, we told her she could go to school today looking like Frankenstein and so be it. It will fall out soon enough. She got up for school this morning, took one bite of banana bread and it fell out.

She looks so cute with a gap! Love it.

This tooth was way more dramatic than the other two. I think the tooth fairy will be extra generous since it was so painful.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Mommy's Working

My Dad is originally from Italy. He came to America on a boat with his Mom, Dad and 3 siblings in 1955. My Dad was 9 and only spoke Italian. He was put in an American school and had to learn every day class work along with English. At 18, he did what most young men did and joined the Army.
Here he is lifting weights.

And here he is lifting his army buddy.

My Mom's sister was also in the Army and while my Mom was visiting her in Fort Hood, Texas, she met my Dad. This is one of my favorite pictures of my parents (they are now divorced).

They were married a year or so after that and my sister was born. They lived in New York, but since my Mom was from Arizona, they wanted to move here. And they did just that in 1969. My Dad got work as a laborer. He always told us a story about how the chuck wagon pulled up during a break and he wanted a soda so bad. He had one quarter in his pocket, one quarter to his name. He needed to get bread and a can of tuna fish for dinner for his family. He didn't get the soda.

And that about sums up my Dad's life. He didn't get the soda. He always did whatever he had to do to help his family. My Dad is the hardest working man I know. When I was a kid, he was usually out the door before I even woke up and he'd come home at dinner time every night. He worked for several elevator companies as the low man on the totem pole and worked his way up. He'd always come home from work dirty. He'd squirt a little Palmolive dish soap in his hand and work up a lather. Not just any lather, he'd clean all the way up to his elbows on both arms, rip off a paper towel to dry his hands and he was ready to go be a family man. My Dad worked hard.

And now that he is retired, he gets to play hard too. Golfing during the winters in Phoenix and enjoying his summer riverfront cabin in Idaho with my Stepmom Suzy, he's finally got a piece of the pie and he's earned every bite.

My Dad had the American dream of owning his own business. In 1987, he bought a Dunkin Donuts. And I went to work. Friday nights were spent cheering for the football or basketball team and hanging out with friends. I'd get home late and wake up before the sun the next morning and go to work with my Dad. No make up on, hideous donut smock and hair in a banana clip. I was 13.

But you know the saying, It's time to make the donuts and so we did for the next 15 years. I paused from making some boston creme to pose with my Dad.

My Dad opened a Texaco and Cousins subs in 1999 and I managed that for him for six years. Then, I had Emily. I went back to work after 4 weeks off. I took her with me. I had a pack and play and swing in the office and I'd breastfeed and count money at the same time. When it was time to take inventory, I'd put her in a sling in front of me and we went to work. I didn't want to put her in daycare. A few months later, my Dad sold the Texaco and I became unemployed after working for almost 20 years.

I learned how to work hard from my father. That's all I had ever known. Then, I officially became a stay at home Mom. At first I thought I'd feel a little lost, not having a "real" purpose every day. But having a baby and home to take care of and getting pregnant again quickly didn't leave me any time to dwell on it. My responsibility list grew and the pay was smiles and giggles instead of a check.

Honestly, I've never worked so hard in my life as I have in the past 6 years. Financially, we've done alright and I'm so glad that I've never had to put my kids in daycare. I've been there for every first step, new food, illness and head bump. I've been pooped on, puked on and gotten kisses with a mouthful of saliva and I wouldn't change a second of it.

Because of David's pay cuts, I got into using coupons about 6 months ago. I was instantly hooked when I realized I could easily cut our grocery bill in half. I started following a few money saving mom blogs and I found bargain believer.com which is my favorite site because she is local. I would send her e-mails about deals I found here or there or thank her for her lists. She matches sale items with coupons and makes it very easy to save money. One thing lead to another and I'm now working for her doing CVS, Walgreens and Target lists every week. You can read about it
here.

This is the perfect opportunity for me. I love using coupons and love helping people use coupons, and I can work while Noah takes his nap every day. I can make a little extra money and still be available if my baby needs to puke on me. It's a win/win or maybe that's always a win/lose.

The other night, I was updating the CVS list and Emily called for me. I yelled back, "Mommy's working". It took a moment for that to sink in...and I had to smile.