Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One more...

Here we go again.  This baby could arrive any time now and the reality of what we signed up for is setting in.  The boys are pretty independent and (relatively) reasonable little people these days.  We're in a solid routine and we're comfortable with the way our family operates.  However, we're getting ready to be back at the beginning again.

And, honestly, I can't wait.  Trust me, I know there will be "those (insert: exhausting, overwhelming, frustrating) moments".  But there is so much I'm looking forward to.

I'm ready for one more season of sleepless nights and baby baths and fumbling with those onesie snaps.  A first bottle from Dadda and a smile for momma.  Rocking, shh-ing and swaying until my lower back aches.  The feeling that you can't imagine your life without that little person in your arms even though you just met.

Before I had my children I had no idea that being a momma was what I was made for.  
Billy and I always say its a little scary how the more kids we have, the more kids we seem to want. 

When it comes to growing our family my heart has no interest in practicality.  I feel like I'll always want one more.  Even at the end of pregnancy, uncomfortable and so ready to meet my little one, I know I'd be more than up for doing this again.

We have no idea how our family will end up looking once its complete, but this next little one is another piece to our puzzle.  

I cannot wait to see who God has picked for our family.
37 weeks and nearly a family of five.
Photo taken by my mom as we walked up the street for dinner a couple weeks ago. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Never-ending Halloween

There's no way I would have tolerated all of this carrying on with Halloween celebrations prior to having kids. I never had an interest in the holiday.  There were many years that I'd purchase the last bag of candy on the shelf as the sun set on October 31st.

Now, its embarrassing to admit that the boys Halloween costumes were decided on and pulled together by July.  I mean...don't be too impressed...they were the easiest costumes ever.  But, the point is I was excited and ready for Halloween really early.  
And my Candy Bandits loved their costumes...

And then my sister told me my niece was going to be Tinkerbelle for Halloween and I couldn't help but orchestrate a second Halloween costume for the boys.  Peter Pan and Hook made an appearance the weekend prior to Halloween at the Deanna Rose "Night of the Living Farm".
I cannot sew or bake, but I can make just about anything with a glue gun.  Quite a worthless talent in general, but it comes in handy around the holidays.  Between projects for the nursery and Halloween I've gone through a 20 pack of hot glue sticks in the past few weeks :)

Dance party.

Then there was BMA Boo Bash and school parties.  Making crafts and play group snacks and decorating just doesn't stop.

Bowling at BMA Boo Bash.
Bandits get-away car.

Max wanted to chose his costume for the school party.  His options were the Candy Bandit costume, Peter Pan or choose something from the dress-up box.  He decided on his Buzz Lightyear costume from the dress up box...
Max and his friend Gus.

Max loves Daniela.  She's one of his "favorite friends" he says :)

Sullivan's class didn't dress up since they don't really know what's going on ;)  The just did a few snacks, a craft and games.

He was really enjoying his marshmellow "spider" snack more than this picture illustrates...

Making a mummy takes a lot of concentration.
More crafts!
Making Frankenstein with Nora and Aunt Colleen.
Sullivan helping pack snacks for our playgroup friends.
Pumpkin bread and jack-o-lantern oranges. 

And only THEN was it actual Halloween!!

The boys were so excited to see what their Spooky Breakfast was all about the morning of Halloween.
Dad helping with vampire teeth.
 And I used to cringe at the thought of dressing up for Halloween, but my friend Erin gave me this idea to dress up as a cooked turkey.  And once again, a little felt and a glue gun goes a long way...

We spent Halloween trick-or-treating with cousins (and cousins of cousins) and the boys had a blast.  They were the youngest and felt so cool among the older kiddos.

Cousin Brandon helping Sullivan trick-or-treat.  We're so lucky to have such a sweet big boy cousin :)

Sullivan loves his Uncle Sean.  They scored a full size Peanut M&M!
 We had a great Halloween month.  I kept telling the boys all summer that the baby would be here "after Halloween was over" and now that we've passed that benchmark they're on high alert.  They talk every day about how the baby will be here soon!  I love how excited they are.  The countdown to the next big family event has started...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Art of Herding Turtles

Once, before I had kids, my sister told me that taking her students on a field trip was like herding cats.  I thought that was a hilarious comparison.  I don't know why I've never forgotten it, but I think it stuck with me because it sounded like the most frustrating thing ever.

Now that I have kids I'd have to say getting children organized and keeping them on track isn't quite like herding's more like herding turtles.  If you prod a cat they're likely to run or at least move a little quicker.  If you prod a turtle there's no change in their speed.  No reaction.  Nothing really makes them get into gear.

Up until recently I felt like I was herding (easily sidetracked) turtles every time we needed to get out the door at a specific time.  And once I had them ready, that still left me...the turtle-herder who hadn't even brushed her teeth yet.

Fear struck me when I realized that there will be a third one in the mix here soon.  A helpless baby turtle.  This speed and lack of focus on the part of my older turtles wasn't going to work.  We were never going to get anywhere.  On time, at least.  And its not just that...I wanted to reduce the general amount of chaos in our home.  I mean, daily activities really shouldn't require SO much energy.

That's when I looked at my boys over lunch one day and said, "Alright guys, what skills do you have?" Sullivan just stared at me blankly.  Max told me he knew how to get "dwessed by himself" and "put waffles in the toasta".  That's a good start.  I said, "Well, Momma's going to give you some more responsibility.  How does that sound?"   "Good!" Max said.  Sullivan copied Max and yelled "Good!" too.  

And with that we started streamlining our operating procedure around here in many ways.  
Not only has it been good for me, I think its been awesome for the boys to have a little more ownership of their day.

We started with the AM routine.  In the mornings the boys are now responsible for getting themselves dressed without my constant supervision.  Max has been able to get dressed on his own for awhile now...but only when he felt like it.  There were days he'd like to pretend he was helpless.  Now I leave them to get dressed on their own instead of hovering over them and then finally just dressing them myself when I got impatient.  While they're working on that task, I use the time to get myself ready for the day.

I do love to spy on them now and then, though.   It's cute because Max will always stop what he's doing to help Sully find the arm holes of his shirt :)  
These photos were taken back in August...I still cringe when I see Sully's botched haircut.

They each have their own closet with a set of labeled drawers that have the clothes they've picked out for the week.  So all they have to do is put every article of clothing on that's in that day's drawer.

Things actually take longer this way, but at least I'm using my time better.  By the time I have myself ready they're usually finally dressed.   And super proud.  They come out of their room and say "ta-da!" like they're revealing a magic trick.  Which sending two boys into a room and them coming out dressed for the day IS a bit of magic.  Especially when the first 5+ minutes of them "getting dressed" usually starts out like this...

The other thing I'm taking off my plate and delegating to them is snacks.  Again, I've done this with Max for awhile now, but we're moving Sully up the ranks.  They each have their own box within reach in the fridge.  The box contains all the snacks they get for the day.  Once its empty they're done. When I first implemented this Max ate every single thing in his box before 11am, but it's been a good lesson in self control.  It's a bummer when you have no "after-nap-snack" to eat.  And I love, love NOT hearing "I want a snaaaack!" 100 times per day x2.  Eat what you want...when its gone, its gone.

Now I hear the fridge door open, rummaging around, the chairs being pulled out and when I pop my head in the kitchen I see two self sufficient little guys happily eating the snacks they chose.

It's amazing what they're capable of when you give them a bit of space and instruction.

They're also responsible for their nighttime routine with the help of a step-by-step chart.  They love this too.  I'm obviously right there helping them with the bath and brushing teeth, but this simple chart has made them so focused.  They treat it like a game and see who can have a "happy chart" first.
We've easily shaved 20 minutes off of the time it takes to get into bed.

I cannot even tell you how much more smoothly things go now that we've made these few changes.  I don't feel like I'm constantly barking orders anymore and they feel like such big boys being trusted with all of these important jobs.

I know things are going to get crazy when the third arrives, but I feel well prepared for battle at this point :)  Any other suggestions from Momma's of 3+ are welcome!  I'm trying to be as realistic about the challenge ahead of me as possible :)