Monday, August 30, 2010

Put Your Swimsoups On!

Last Wednesday the 500 Babies drove out the to the hill country, donned their "swimsoups" (according to Mikea), and visited a splash park with their big cousins.  The conditions were perfect - the weather was hot but overcast and only a few other children were there because school's in session.  Plus, you get all the water fun you want without the worry and hassle of a swimming pool.

Baby A. kept toddling back and forth over to the water and got caught by surprise a time or two when water suddenly sprayed him.  It was great fun and we can wait to go back!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Random Rambling

That's probably the worst blog post title ever in the history of blogdom.  But it's the best I can do at present.  You see, I wish I would have listened to the voice of reason in my head last night that said not to drink that cup of coffee so late.  Because then I was up half the night.  And now I feel like half of my brain is missing.  And my body is begging for rest.  But there are children to feed, diapers to change, dishes to wash, and laundry to fold.  Ok, ok we all know the dishes and laundry will wait.  But I really feel badly that my kids are getting a mom who's only 50% with-it today, if that.

And I also feel badly at being so random, but there's simply no avoiding it now and I have to share this picture because it just makes me so, so very happy:
This was taken a couple of weeks ago when the kids turned in their summer reading logs at the library.  Each one got to pick out their very own book.  Afterwards we went to the dollar store and gave each one $1.00 to spend however they chose.  (This was intended to be another reward for the potty-training success when I was gone.)  Dan picked a ball, Joe chose a car, and Mikea selected a little tea set.  They loved it!  (Now we just hope they don't expect to buy something every time we go to the store!)

Monday, August 16, 2010

True Love

I was out of town for much of last week.  This meant that my dear husband was sole caretaker of the 500 Babies for 3 1/2 days.  I didn't care what happened to the house; all I asked was that he sweep the kitchen floor at least once a day. But when I returned, not only had he kept the house tidy, he also got caught up on the laundry.  I'm talking washing, drying, folding, AND putting it away.  He also managed to take all four kids to Home Depot by himself.  I can only imagine what that must have looked like! Oh, I almost forgot - there is one more thing Billy happened to do while I was away... 

HE POTTY-TRAINED THE WONDER TWINS!  Sorry for yelling.  But holy smokes, people - do you get this??  My husband single-handedly potty-trained two toddlers.  We've both made attempts to train them over the past several months, but this time he really got serious.  And it worked.

How'd he do it?  Well, I think the main thing is he gave Daniel and Mikea lots of praise when they had successes and stayed positive even when they had the inevitable accidents.  The first couple of days he gave them lots of water and made them go to the potty every 15 minutes.  Joe helped by being in charge of the timer and helping Daniel in the upstairs bathroom if Mikea was using the one downstairs.  We had been giving the kids candy sprinkles as rewards, but Billy nixed that and reverted back to sticker charts.  But the genious part, at least to me, is that he didn't bother using a chart with days of the week and boxes.  He just stuck paper on the wall and let the kids pick their own stickers - 1 sticker for wee-wee and 2 stickers for you-know-what.  When the charts were filled up they celebrated by going out for ice cream.  Yum!

He also played "The Potty Dance" for them over and over and over. Another gimmick Billy used was to hang up their underwear on the clipboards in the kids' bedrooms.  He did this during naptimes.  I think it was just another way to get them excited about wearing underwear.  Of course the underwear had to be clean and dry for to this happen.
Today, both Daniel and Mikea are initiating going to the bathroom on their own and most days are completely accident-free.  We're going to keep practicing and practicing and I'm thinking that very soon we will be ready to ditch the diapers for good! 

Another outcome of Billy's time alone with the kids was a better understanding of what I go through on a daily basis.  He's always been supportive and appreciative of me for staying home with them.  But now that he's experienced it first-hand he knows exactly what I mean when I say there are days when I want to just go into the laundry room and shut the door to get away from the madness.  But I also know that he bonded even more with the kids during my days away.  Billy told me his favorite moment was one evening when Joe walked over to him, plunked himself on the floor and said, "You're my best buddy, Daddy."  Amen, Joe!  He's my best buddy, too.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beach Day in Pictures

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Joe Turns Four!

Joe's been looking forward to today for several weeks!  I think this is the first year he really understood what birthdays are all about and we did our best to make the day special for him.  He picked out our dinner menu (pizza) and requested a train cake.  Specifically, he asked for a red train and clever me thought I could add red food coloring to pink strawberry frosting to make red.  But instead it made dark pink.  Duh.  When Joe saw the frosting he brought me a jar of red paint and said he wanted "this red".  I assured him I'd do my best and as you can see I used red candy to try to disguise the pink.  Special thanks again to the Baker's Cut-Up Cake Party Book (copyright 1973) for providing inspiration for the cake.  The majority of train cakes online required either outrageously expensive pans or were three-dimensional and would have taken a minimum of 5 hours to decorate.

As I was wrapping Joe's presents Billy said, "You know what would be fun?  You should hide the biggest present and make picture clues for him to find it."  My response, "What a great idea!  Why don't you get started on that?"  He did, it was a hit, and we plan on doing it again for all of the children.
So our oldest is now four.  We're asked a lot if we're sending him to preschool this year.  The shortest answer and explanation I can give is no, because even though he is four Joe has only been in our lives for 2 years and 9 months, and I'm not ready to send him out into the world just yet! 

500 Babies Visit Lake Erie

One of our last outings in Michigan was a drive over to Lake Erie.  It's where I got some of my favorite photos of the trip:

Grandpa and a few of his grandchildren.
Me and my Daniel.
Kiki and Grandpa enjoying a stroll down the pier.
Joe enjoying the swings.
 Joe being comforted by his father after I pushed him too hard on the swing, causing him to catapault out and land face-first on the ground.  (I panicked when it happened because only minutes before, a young man horsing around on the pier had fallen and knocked his teeth out!)
Serious Mikea.
Winsome Dan.
Pensive Dan.
Now see if you can identify the common denominator in the following pictures:
If you noticed that in every one Daniel is catching a free ride while Joe and Mikea do all the work pushing, you are correct.  I call it "Free-loading Dan".

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Love Toledo

Well, I love the Toledo Botanical Gardens and the Toledo Zoo.  I don't really know much about the rest of the city, but those two venues are simply outstanding!

The day after we visited the Calder Dairy, we headed down I-75 to check out the Toledo Botanical Gardens.  Billy and I had gone there a couple of years ago before kids and loved it so much we knew we wanted to return.  Our visit was cut short by an impending thunderstorm (as we were racing to the car I was wondering how I would deal with 4 drenched kids - we stayed dry, thank goodness!) but we still managed to enjoy plenty of natural beauty.

The next day was zoo day!  We headed back to Toledo, this time accompanied by Grandpa, Aunt Kellie, and Seth!  For possibly the first time ever, the adults actually outnumbered the children. 
The kids wore out pretty quickly and we didn't see nearly all of the zoo, but we'll just save the rest for next time.
(I've undergone quite the internal struggle deciding whether or not to post the last picture above.  Here's why: On the one hand, photographs of all six of our family members are rare, and since Baby A. is hiding his identity by looking away, it's a great picture to post.  On the other hand, I look rather angry and who wants yucky pictures of themselves posted on the Interwebs?  Plus, I appear to be glowing.  And of course now by pointing this out, those of you didn't notice the first time are taking a second look.  You're nodding your heads and saying to yourselves, "Wow, she does look kind of annoyed. And she looks radioactive."  But if you look at the picture again, you'll see that there is a giant beam of sunlight blasting down on me, causing me to squint; thus, my dour expression. And apparently I'm just really great at reflecting light....  Oh brother, now I'm even more embarrassed!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Wedding and a Farm

Wow, at this rate it will be December before I finish our vacation posts!  I've got a lot more to share so let's just get on with it, shall we?

I was disappointed when I realized I didn't get very many pictures from the wedding or the reception.  I guess I was having too much fun!  The kids had a blast dancing with their aunts and I even danced once with my husband.  There were so many kind friends and family at the reception who were always ready to hold, dance with, and entertain the kids that Billy and I never had to manage more than one child at a time the whole night.  Here are a few shots I did get:

In the last picture you can see the friend Mikea made during the reception.  He was quite the little dancer himself and there was definitely some flirting going on between the two of them! 

The next day we took the kids to a dairy farm - Calder Dairy and Farms, to be exact.  And can I just say how much I love driving through the Michigan countryside?  The evergreen trees, the flowers, the beautifully landscaped yards?  But each time I started to consider packing up and moving I repeated one word to myself: winter.  'Nuff said.

So at the farm we met up with a horse-
And a goat -
The kids posed by the dairy truck -
And posed as my little ducklings -
Then we had yummy ice cream -
And posed one more time on another horse -
At the farm I realized that no matter how much I like to think I'm more of a country girl than a city girl, the truth is I am not.  At times the smell overwhelmed me and I had a hard time enjoying my ice cream with a goat staring me down.  But the kids had a great time and that's what it's all about, people!