Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ridley Creek State Park

By: Guest Blogger

Last week we went to Ridley Creek State Park to go hiking. We had fun! We played in the water and we saw water jumpers. Also we had so much fun playing on the tree that fell down many years ago and we walk across it every time we go there. When we (me and all of the the kids) got to the bottom of the hill we raced dad up the hill and to the top. And we won the race to the top!

PS: (written by Rachel) Check out my son's expression in the above photo. You might have to click on it to enlarge; he is afraid of a daddy-long legged spider and he looks like he might leap off the tree just to get away from it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Waste-Free Lunch

I remember starting 1st grade and being so very excited about my Holly Hobbie lunch box. However, I quickly learned that while I loved the lunch box, I hated the smell and taste of lukewarm milk, even though it was in my beloved Holly Hobbie thermos. (By the way, how much do I LOVE the internet? I love that I can search for my lunch box and be transported back to 1976 with just a click of the mouse.)

I was not alone. In elementary school everyone had a thermos that matched their lunch box. In middle school we switched from lunch boxes to brown bags but most kids still had a thermos. I can't really remember what people had for lunch in high school. I was too lazy to pack my own lunch and would be ravenous by lunch time so I think the hunger pains caused me to not take note of the types of lunches on the tables in the cafeteria. But somewhere along the line, juice boxes took over. A thermos just was not cool. At all.

But I'm bringin' the 70s back, baby! Thermoses all around! I'm tired of buying juice boxes and yogurt drinks and dealing with straws and running out of said drinks. Not to mention all the waste. Do we really need 200 million juice boxes in our landfills? Probably not. Do we now have insulated lunch bags and re-useable ice packs to keep the drinks cold? You bet. (No more lukewarm milk!)

I am now packing waste-free lunches.

The goal is to not pack anything in the kids' lunch boxes that needs to be thrown away or recycled. (Food excluded. I don't see my kids eating bread crusts but I'm not too worried about those since they will biodegrade.) I bought a stainless steel thermos for each kid and invested in Snack Taxi re-useable snack and sandwich bags. (How cute are these fabrics?!) No more plastic/ziploc bags for us! And for really messy snacks (watermelon, salad dressing for dipping, etc.) I invested in some Tupperware.

I was feeling really great about my environmentally-friendly lunch plan until my 5th grader came home from school upset that she didn't have any plastic bags. Excuse me? Apparently the new principal changed the lunchroom policy; students are no longer permitted to get up and go to the trash can. Instead, each person puts their trash into their plastic bag and pushes it to the center of the table and then all the trash gets pushed down to the end of the table where someone dumps it into a trash can.

I told her that she is either going to have to put her waste into someone else's bag OR she is going to have to start eating those bread crusts!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuna Fish

My 4 year old started preschool yesterday. In preparation for going to school, I asked him to predict what he might have for snack on the first day. He answered, "Tuna fish. I know they are going to make me eat tuna fish!" He was not expecting to enjoy school so I guess eating tuna fish was the worst punishment a preschooler could think of. I promised him that he would NOT be given tuna fish. Much to his delight, he reported eating graham crackers and pretzels.

As we were walking down the hall towards his classroom on the first day, he said, "Mom, I am a little nervous." Except with his cute 4 year old voice it sounded like, "Mom. I am a widdle novus." Very cute. I assured him that all the kids were feeling nervous on the first day.

We entered the class and he found the cookie with his name on it (a laminated cookie) and placed it in the jar to indicate that he was present. Next we found his cubbie and then scanned the room for an activity. Right away he gravitated towards a large play garage that he was eyeing (up on a high shelf) at Sneak A Peek. But this time the garage, along with lots of cars and trucks, was on the floor so he started playing right away. We said our good-byes without tears.

When he came home he reported that "school wasn't scary" and that he got to play on the Big Playground. He also told me that he found his seat but couldn't sit down because another boy was sitting in his seat. "I knew it was my seat because I saw my name. I told him it was my seat but he said it was his. So I waited for my teacher to come over and she said it was my seat so I got to sit down when she took him to find his seat." I'm very proud of my little man for being so patient with the child sitting in his seat and for being so confident in recognizing his own name.

PS: He's dressing himself now . . . hence the Spiderman shirt with orange sweat pants. He assured me that he was "matching" because "I choose-ed Spiderman underpants because I thought that would be matching."

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Random Pics

Just thought I'd post a few random pics so that you can see how big our Little Man is getting. He's 3 1/2 months old now, time is just flying by! He's holding his head up all the time and is starting to teethe and grab/hold toys.

He's a thumb-sucker!

I had always hoped to have a thumb-sucker. I know that probably sounds strange. But I was a thumb-sucker and assumed that at least one of my kids would be too. However, I ended up with blankie-lovers and binky-lovers instead. But now I have a thumb sucker!!! It's just so darn cute to watch him suck his thumb. For weeks he would get frustrated because when the thumb was in, he'd end up poking himself in the eye with his other fingers. He's much more coordinated now and has no problem finding the thumb or getting it in. (P.S. How cute are those little baby toes?!)

Gettin' Some Lovin'

As soon as the baby wakes up in the morning, he has a crowd of anxious kids just waiting to give him some loving. Poor baby just wants to nurse but sometimes I have to give in and let them love on him because you can tell it is just so very hard for them to wait. Recently my 6 year old asked if he could kiss the baby (while I was feeding him and the policy is that you have wait until he is finished nursing) and I said, "Not right now but you can when he's finished." My son was literally moving from foot-to-foot in an effort to not move forward and kiss the baby. He said, "PLEASE Mom! I haven't seen him all night and I really WANT to kiss him!" How could I say no to that? (Incidentally, this is my 4 year old son kissing him in the above pic.)

Mini Mommy

My 10 year old LOVES LOVES LOVES her baby brother. She loves to get him up from his nap and choose outfits for him. She loves to talk to him and make him smile; she carries him around as if she were his mother. She asks me everyday when he can start solids because she wants to learn to feed him. And he loves her too. He knows her voice and when he hears her he starts to kick his legs and will let out a squeal of excitement. So very rewarding.

All You Need Is Love

When we went upstairs the other night to go to bed, this is what we saw:

My oldest daughter and my 4 year old son had (for some unknown reason) decided to move from their beds into our bed. So very sweet how he is cuddled up to her.

He starts preschool on Tuesday and I think it will be very good for him. He's definitely a follower and when he is without his siblings (which rarely is the case but will be the norm when he is at preschool) he is like a ship without a compass. He is not quite sure what he thinks or how to act without them as role models. As my husband commented yesterday, "This kid has not spoken an original sentence all day." Most of what he says is just a repeat of something one of his older siblings has already said.

He had Sneak A Peek at preschool a few days ago. It did not go well. He didn't want to go but I forced him. Once we got there, it took some coaxing to get him into the classroom. He kept saying, "I want to leave now. I want to go home. Let's go." He hid behind me when his teacher (who got down on her knees and tried to engage him) was speaking to him. He didn't want to play with any of the toys (cars, trucks, play-do, crayons, etc.) He just wanted to Go Home. I was a little bit surprised because he's been going to the school nearly every day for the past 2 years when I would take his older brother. He knows the layout of the school and is familiar with the classrooms and even knows a few kids in his class.

I cleared-out his cubby and took home the papers that were in the cubby. Included was a brightly colored plastic bag which my son wanted to carry. As we were walking to the car, he asked if he could peek into the bag. I knew the bag contained a coupon book, the first fundraiser of the school year. So he opened the bag and pulled it out and asked me what it was (so I told him.) And then he exclaimed, "Oh wow! My VERY OWN coupon book! My teacher gave me a coupon book!" Flipping through the book kept him entertained on the ride home. "Mom, look! A coupon for McDonald's! Wow! A golf coupon! And bowling! What is this one for mom?" And on and on.

When my husband came home from work that day, my son ran to him, waving the coupon book and couldn't wait to tell his dad all about it.

So the only positive experience about Sneak A Peek was a coupon book. Normally I don't buy the book because I find that I just don't use the coupons enough to warrant the $25 price tag. But my husband thinks we should take advantage of his enthusiasm and use it as a lesson on saving money and clipping coupons.

So I guess we're buying the book. Because I'm not sure I could take away his Very Own Coupon Book without squelching the first glimmer of individuality that will (hopefully) emerge from him as he begins school.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fly, Eagles, Fly!

My husband took the boys to their first-ever NFL game -- go Eagles! Of course I would have preferred them to see the Steelers but Pittsburgh is too far to go for a game.

They went to a pre-season game since they are less expensive and we weren't sure if they would want to stay for the whole game or not. The plan was for me to drive the boys to meet my husband after work, as he works close to the city. Then the three of them were going to go out to dinner and then to the game.

Except that my husband left the tickets at home. And by the time he realized it, I was already driving to drop the boys off with him. I am sure you are asking yourself why he didn't just call me on his cell phone? Well he did. But that is another story.

Our cell phone contract expired in July so rather than continue paying around $70/month for cell phone coverage, we ditched our plan in favor of a pre-paid plan. My cell phone died back in April so I had to get a whole new phone. But since I don't use the phone much (and since the economy tanked and we are living on less) I decided to go with a cheap, $20 pre-paid phone. Yep, it works. But can I hear it ringing? No. I have it in case I need to make an emergency phone call but it is pretty useless for incoming calls. Thus, I did not know that my husband was calling me on my cell to let me know that I needed to turn back and get the tickets.

So when I met him to drop-off the boys, he had to quick put them in his car and zoom home for the tickets. Fortunately, the tickets were right where he thought they would be BUT they didn't get to the game until the second quarter as a result of having to stop at home first. This means they had to eat dinner at the stadium. Which means two burgers and one hot dog cost more than my crappy cell phone. However, when I asked my 6 year old what his favorite part of the game was, he answered, "Eating a cheeseburger." Whew! Glad we spent big bucks on an NFL game just so he could enjoy a burger that we could have purchased at Wendy's for 99 cents.

The Best Part of the Game: The Burger!

I asked my 4 year old what he liked best and he said, "Just being there." Glad someone enjoyed the actual football part of it all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another cool, crafty baby gift!

I can't believe I used to think I was crafty. I thought crafty meant "able to make crafts" as in Kid Crafts. Glitter, scissors, that sort of thing. I also thought I was crafty because I'd use Stitch Witchery to hem my homemade curtains. I have since discovered that my version of crafty is so very lame. True "crafty" people actually SEW their curtains! Stitch Witchery is for amatuers!

I received a crafty gift the other day. My friend's daughter has a shop on Etsy called The Ellie Rose. She has a number of different custom items but the one she gave me is a plastic wipes box that is quilted and then covered in pretty fabric. SO much more chic than carrying around a plastic wipes container! It somehow makes diaper changing feel just a wee bit more glamorous than it actually is.