Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Because Some Days are Like That

Yesterday and today were pretty rough days in Mommyland.  We are training the twins in regular beds.  Some days they get it.  Some days they don’t.  It means no rest for Mommy right now.  But it can be kind of humorous too.

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Matching “shawls” for Christmas

I had two blessed weeks of consistency.  Elaine learned digital numbers in Math, so we gave her an alarm clock.  She wasn’t allowed out of bed until 8:00 a.m., and 4:00 from naptime.  When Elaine got up, the other kids got up.  It did wonders for my schedule, my devotions, my planning.  I knew what to expect.  Even if they woke up early, they wouldn’t come out until a certain time.

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Cutest fireman ever.

But then the second bunk bed arrived, and with it the crib bar’s restraint went away.  Now I have to teach two toddlers – at the same time – to control themselves and obey Mommy’s directives to “stay in bed!”

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Bath time is the cure-all.  New finger puppets make it even better.  Grandmas are wonderful things!

Here’s how naptime went yesterday. 

I got all the kids laid down.  After several disciplines we finally got the twins to stay in bed, realizing Mommy really meant it.  I laid down too.  But I was starting to realize I may have had too many avocado slices on my sandwich, and my tummy didn’t really let me rest. 

I finally fell asleep somewhere between 3:15 and 3:27.  That’s when I was awakened by a loud banging – the metal play dishes on the wood floor.  Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  Yes – Nehemiah and Liberty were awake, not understanding that it wasn’t 4:00 yet.  They commenced play time, and in the total darkness of their room they managed to find the loudest toys.

Nehemiah Loves Trains
He could play trains in the tunnel for hours

I tried to tell them to “sshhhh” because Nolan and Elaine were still sleeping.  I put them back in bed.  Liberty was fine with this, but Nehemiah was done with the bed thing.  I gave them a book, and a train and told them to play choo-choo in bed.  They were both in Liberty’s bunk.

I crept back into my room and laid back down, drifting off again to “Choo-choo!  Choo-choo!” noises.  For about a minute.  They there was a terrific crash, and I knew immediately that Nehemiah had overturned the car box.  It’s his favorite thing to do.  I stayed in bed, and listened to Nolan, now awake, shout “Go. Back. To. Bed.  Go. Back. To. Bed.” Over and over again.  Nolan is just like his mamma – he likes his sleep and he hates to be awakened.  So he was none too happy about the loud noises his younger siblings were creating.

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Christmas afternoon at the park

Finally we all realized that really sleep ended at 3:27, and we got up and turned on the lights.

I guess that’s just how some days go around here.  Just when I find the groove in my routine, something changes and I have to shift everything as I desperately search for a new groove.  But since the twins aren’t learning numbers anytime soon, I guess I can say goodbye to consistent wake up times – for now.

Yet in the midst of all this craziness, there have been lots of funny good things too.  Like Nehemiah saying “Cheese” for a picture, and “doggy” and “meow.”  {Not so glad that he also learned an emphatic “no” from Liberty}.  Both twins answer “uh-huh” in the cutest little singsong voice.  They are each quick to point out the other’s disobedience on some days, eager to participate in “double trouble” on other days.

Nolan is learning to pronounce and enunciate his words, and he over does it.  Instead of “libble lit” he can now say “lit-TLE bit” – and he makes sure you know that he said it correctly – every single time.  He mixes his colloquialisms too, and creates new ones like “you’re a funny goose”.  He is OCD about holding his sleeves before sticking his arms into his coat, and putting on new socks after naptime (to the dismay of my laundry pile).

Elaine wrote all of the words in all of her thank you cards this week.  I was scared to death to homeschool, but it is the most rewarding thing ever to hear her read, listen to her sound things out, and see her writing words, and to realize that I taught her that.  She’s a little smarty pants too…she “wrote” a message to Daddy with bath crayons on the shower wall.  Of course, it was unreadable, so Ben said “I don’t know what it says.”  Her response?  “Daddy – you have to sound it out!”  She’s getting more sensitive about how it hurts us when she disobeys and dishonors her parents.

People keep telling me these are the best years.  That they would trade the teen years to go back to the little years.  To me, they just feel like the tired years!  But I want to remember that even in the crazy chaos and never-the-same routines of raising little people, there are sprinkles of joy and overwhelming cuteness all over the place, if I am looking.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Day in the City

We took a little tour of New York City with our friend Jon Buker this weekend.  One of the things on Elaine’s bucket list was to walk the Brooklyn Bridge, so we started at Jane’s Carousel, walked the Bridge, and then went to the 9/11 Memorial. 

Jane's Carousel
Nehemiah was apprehensive at first…

Jane's Carousel

Jane's Carousel
Liberty was a natural!

Jane's Carousel
The serious look…

Nehemiah apparently hit his “wall” and took quite the nap on the Bridge.  This is what he looked like…

Brooklyn Bridge
Yes – he is asleep.  Yes – he was bumping people.  Yes – we did lay him down once we figured out he was really asleep!

Brooklyn Bridge
I think the Brooklyn Bridge is my favorite NYC icon.  It never disappoints – I’m always amazed at it’

9-11 Memorial
The Freedom Tower.  It was nice visiting now that the Memorial is an open public square, and we didn’t have to stand in line or go through security!  One of these days I will make it to the Museum!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Bunk Beds

So… On the the 22nd Ben bought a set of solid maple bunk beds for a great price on Craigslist.  We had been watching for a good set at the right price, and toying with the idea of transitioning the twins to beds before our big deputation stint beginning in February.  We thought this would allow us the possibility of leaving the pack n plays at home, but we also thought we might be crazy for trying.

This is from my Instagram post yesterday…

“Probably the best explanation is “crazy” when you think that we bought a second set of bunk beds and hope to train the twins to sleep in them before we hit the road in February.  But I’d like to think of it as “blessed”- since we’ve been looking for a little wile but couldn’t afford anything, since they are solid maple bunk beds that were over $1000 new and we got them (in excellent condition) for $150, since we were given $175 in Christmas gifts yesterday, and since we have a friend visiting for Christmas who was able to help Ben pick it up.  Crazy maybe, but definitely blessed!

That was the easy part – feeling blessed.  Then we had to get mattresses, protectors, sheets, blankets, and find a way to fit two sets of bunk beds in the room without allowing anyone to grab a light fixture, shelf, or curtain.  We did it!  I was thinking along these lines, “bunk beds.  Same space as the crib.  Just taller.”  But they are taller, longer, and deeper.  So it gave me lots more under bed space, but was challenging otherwise!

Twins Promoted to Bunk Beds
Well…she wasn’t quite ready to stay put yet!


Twins Promoted to Bunk Beds
The twins love to play with Elaine’s puppy dogs.  She doesn’t like to share.  So they got to pick out their own doggies at IKEA yesterday.  Nehemiah has to have his tucked in like this.  He’s a particular kid!

Twins Promoted to Bunk Beds

The twins did fairly well, considering we have to work with two of them at the same time.  Nehemiah has had to be put back in bed a lot.  Once I was disciplining him for standing up in bed, when he looked over and started pointing, very upset, because Liberty was also standing up her bed.  Libs gets very concerned and “tattles” when he moves around, drops a “friend”, or gets out of bed.  So I always know there is a problem!

Here’s a little clip of them getting tucked in tonight.  They are very excited to be “big” kids now.  They are also growing rapidly in vocabulary and their ability to understand and answer with “yes” and “no”.  You can’t hear Nehemiah’s answers well, but he says “uh-huh” to each question.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Program, Round 2

If you’ve been reading here long, you may remember that at last year’s Christmas Program, Elaine had a major case of the yawns and pretty much refused to sing.  I kind of breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t going to be around for practice this year, so my kids probably weren’t going to participate in the Christmas program.  But…the kids weren’t quite ready for performance, so the program was bumped to today.  Elaine and Nolan came home from Sunday School quoting a verse and singing a song the last three weeks.  So we decided that they could participate, and Mrs. Bickel kindly agreed.

To prevent a repeat of last year, we tried to practice a lot.  Nolan competes with Elaine a lot these days, so they both knew their parts really well.  We even put them to bed by seven last night so that they couldn’t stand up there and say they were tired!

And yet, I was apprehensive.  Were they going to sing???  Libs is getting a cold and Ben nearly stayed home with the twins.  This made Elaine sad, so he came to church and Libs sat in the service with us.  And guess what?  They did it!  I heard Nolan quoting his verse nice and loud.  I ended up playing the piano again today so I didn’t get to see the kids, but I could hear them.

Here’s a little video of our practice last night, and a couple of pictures of the kids this morning. 

img_7508The song  was “Christmas Bells” and they got to ring a bell for the ‘ding, dong, ding, dong’ part.

Christmas Bells SongMia, Nolan, Selah, Emma, Adelei, Elaine, David

Friday, December 19, 2014

Gingerbread Houses

Somehow Elaine got it into her head that Christmas means making Gingerbread Houses.  She’s been asking when we are going to make one – repeatedly.  It sounded…sorta fun.  I was in IKEA and they had gingerbread house kits for $4.99, so I picked up two of them.  We put it on the calendar to decorate them tonight.

To be sure everything was ready, I opened the kits last night.  Just gingerbread cutouts.  No decorations.  No icing.  And they were shattered.  Broken into many pieces.  I looked up a recipe for icing “glue”.  I picked one from a favorite blogger who makes gingerbread houses as a family tradition since she was a girl.  It was a “no-fail” type recipe, or so she said.  I spent a little too much money on some candy decorations at the store.

I was mixing up the Royal Icing when I remembered that my piping bags had both split while frosting Elaine’s birthday cake last month.  (They were only about 15 years old…).  So I cut the corner off a Ziploc and fitting my coupling and frosting tip.  This turned out to be another epic fail in a series tonight!

Making Gingerbread Houses
Licking the frosting beaters…didn’t keep them happy for long!

The “glue” did not do as well as had been claimed, and we were pretty much unable to salvage the gingerbread cutouts from the kit.  We resorted to graham crackers, which worked pretty well…until we ran out of them.  When Elaine's house had no roof.

Making Gingerbread Houses
Right before cave-in # 763!

Making Gingerbread Houses
My little sugar tooth enjoyed sneaking ingredients from the whole process!

Making Gingerbread Houses
Roofless is in, right?

Making Gingerbread Houses
Nolan’s garden – that’s a fence around a Dinosaur Bath, and a goldfish in the pond.  The pink sprinkle pile?  They are worms.  Ben’s idea.

Making Gingerbread Houses
What gingerbread house would be complete without princesses?

Making Gingerbread Houses
We have a table with M&M plates and gumdrop chairs inside Elaine’s house!

Making Gingerbread Houses
Elaine’ creation!

At this point the zippers on the Ziploc bags had split and frosting was oozing everywhere.  Nehemiah had stripped the white board of all accessories and fell out of his chair doing so.  Ben and I were both covered in frosting, so he cried on the floor for a minute before we got to him.  Liberty spied and snatched the bowl of M&M decorations…and devoured what was remaining.

In the end, Nolan settled for a miniature cottage with massive gardens, and Elaine chose a roofless house.  We had lots of fun together, though.  We made some memories but decided this was the only year of gingerbread houses in our family.  It will not be a tradition in this house!!! 

Making Gingerbread Houses

Making Gingerbread Houses

We doused all four kids in a bath together and put them to bed.  Then Ben scraped “glue” off the table and floor while I recovered control of the sprinkles, candy, and kitchen.

And Ben’s take on the whole night?  “IKEA makes gingerbread houses of the same quality as their furniture!”

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

First Sleepover
First Sleepover!

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Wearing Grandma’s Shoes

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My Four Blessings -  we are gradually getting the hang of going for a walk without a stroller.

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The twins are getting into creating their own style – including sunglasses, winter hats, picking their own shoes, and sometimes a necklace or purse.  Libs has one boot on and one off…Nehemiah is wearing Elaine’s glasses.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Night to Remember

On Monday night I got to have a date with Elaine in the City.  It seems like she’s gone backward in some of her obedience and respect lately, and we thought perhaps she was getting lost in the shuffle of deputation.  Ben was home on Monday so it was the perfect opportunity for us to head into Manhattan.

The beginning of a mother daughter date

Though I had everything planned, it was a total surprise to Elaine.  She got dressed up and wore her pretty dress coat.  We exited the train at Rockefeller Center and walked up to 5th Avenue.  I kept asking Elaine where she thought we were going.  She didn’t realize it until we were right in front of the window display at…American Girl Place!

Selfies on the Train   Selfies on the Train
Selfies on the train

We checked our coats and enjoyed the store for a while.  Elaine got to pick out a couple of dolly purses (the only things in the store I could afford!) and some pictures and a catalog to “dream about.”  Once I showed her that the doll outfits and accessories all say “8+” on them, she settled down and was content to not buy one…yet.

American Girl Store!  American Girl Store!
That’s American Girl Place behind her…

After the store we popped over to see the Rockefeller tree lit up.  Elaine was more enthusiastic about the ice skating rink than the tree!  I gave Elaine the choice of going to Alice’s tea cup or a restaurant.  She looked around and asked for pizza!  I think she is definitely a City Girl and knows that we have the best pizza in the world!

American Girl! and Rockefeller Tree! American Girl! and Rockefeller Tree!
By the tree

Rockefeller Tree and Christmas Lights
One day I will go to the Top of the Rock

Rockefeller Tree and Christmas Lights

Rockefeller Tree and Christmas Lights
The Tree!

Rockefeller Tree and Christmas Lights
Turned out to be a great picture!

Rockefeller Tree and Christmas Lights   She picked pizza
The ice rink, full picture of the tree, and my ‘Lil New Yorker eating her pizza!

After dinner we were headed toward the M&M store in Times Square, but we were stopped by a sidewalk artist.  At first I said no, but before I knew what was happening he had Elaine in a chair and was asking if I wanted “funny” or “real”.  I asked the cost, but when he told me I said, “No thanks, I think we will just move on.”

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At that, he insisted that I could get the real one for just “ten dollah”.  So I said yes.  I watched as he expertly drew Elaine’s picture.  I remember as a girl going to a polo game with my family.  They had a sketch artist there, and I still have the picture the man drew of me.  Every time I see the artists in the City I am tempted to get one done, but I have never splurged on the purchase.  I totally loved his sketch of Elaine! 

I wanted to just roll up the picture and be on my way, but he would not give it to me without a frame which was another $20!  I started to insist that I wasn’t getting a frame, when he gave it all to me for just “twenty dollah.”  I had a $20 bill in my wallet, so we took it.  It was definitely a splurge, but so worth it!

Date Night with ElaineDate Night with Elaine

Elaine wasn’t too sure about the drawing while she was perched on the chair with a half-smile on her face.  But when she saw the framed picture she was convinced!  She hardly let it go for a second all the way home!

We picked out an expensive half pound of specialty M&Ms, got “short” hot chocolates at Starbucks, and headed home.

Date Night with Elaine

On the train Elaine said she was glad she had such a wonderful time, because “when you told me about it I didn’t think we would have very much fun at all.”  I’m not sure where that impression came from, but I was glad to have so much fun too! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

You’re a City Kid When…

City kids are definitely different!  We got a good laugh in family devotions today from Elaine.  We were discussing Creation, and reviewing some of the days we had already talked about.

Grand Concourse

Ben: “What did God call the dry land?”

Elaine: “Sidewalk!”

Here’s another one:

Ben: “Who is Daddy’s Helpmeet?”

Elaine: “Mommy”

Ben: “Who helps more?  Does Daddy help Mommy more, or does Mommy help Daddy more?”

Elaine: “Mommy helps Daddy.  You leave all your stuff in the floor and she picks it up!”

Happy Friday!