Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The long, long, long, REALLY long winter

This winter was a humdinger.  It was so, so, long--like, school was still getting cancelled and delayed well into March, long.  And it was so, so, hard--like, we'd had more accumulation of ice and snow before Christmas than I remember getting most winters of my whole life.  And I've lived in Chicago.  And it was so, so, COLD--there is usually a hard, deep freeze in January any place that has a winter when the temperatures dip and stay well below freezing for a week or two, but this year we not only got our scheduled one in January, we spent the entire second half of February and part of March in one as well.  And besides all that...it was so, so lonely--Grant was on the job market, and traveled so much, which is great because it meant he had a lot of interviews...but man...it was a big ball of suck logistically.

But!  We made it!  I honestly wasn't sure there for a while because at several points I gave myself a marker, "We just have to hold on until..." and have three blizzards in a row hit or something similar.  I'm really not exaggerating when I say, "big ball of suck".

Christmas loot gave plenty of distraction, and the biggest hit by far was this awesome track set my Dad sent one of the boys.  It's seriously amazing because you can easily shape into any formation you want and since there are no grooves in the tracks, you can drive anything on them, so while the monster trucks that came with the set got plenty of miles in, our extensive train collections finally had tracks to ride.

But, infinite possible configurations of track...and their favorite was a straight line.

Having 3 babies in less than 3 years means life often looks like this.  Which is awesome and exhausting and overstimulating and wonderful somehow all at once.

Pig Piles remain a favorite pastime amongst our children--there is actually someone under that blanket calling out, "Pig Pile on ME!"

And I wanted to capture the boys in their coats and hats--we got smiles and reactions every where we went, so I wanted to remember.  Note that Paxton's is EXTREMELY bright.  I did that on purpose because he's the flight risk.

We also went to Wegman's a few times--this particular store is a problem because they changed the type of car carts they have and I can only seat two children at a time in them, or put two children in the basket of a regular cart to put the baby in the seat up front, which is risky because the main things I buy at this store are produce and fresh bread and...little boys tend to squash things that can be squashed.  And Elliot was just still too young to walk with us.  But it was still a good outing from time to time, because we'd only buy our treats (though there are a LOT of treats available at Wegman's...seriously, I'm going to miss this store so much) and since we were only buying treats, the actual shopping only takes a few minutes, which leaves plenty of time to stand and watching the model train that goes around tracks hanging from the ceiling.   We seriously spend over 75% of every trip to Wegman's watching the train.

 When Grant travels, I like to keep my life as simple as possible, because I've found that keeping things low key while he's gone means I'm not crazy frazzled when he gets back.  At least not too crazy frazzled.  But one way I do that is I buy 2 dinners while he's gone--we get pizza once and McDonald's once.  They'll definitely eat both of them, and it's brainless with no prep and little clean up for me, which is by definition a Win.  I typically hit the drive through and bring the food home, but I went the bold and daring route and took them into the restaurant a couple of times as well.  And they'd blow my mind being such awesome kids that it was manageable to do on my own with four of them before the oldest was even six years old.

Bridget went through a short but adorable tongue-sticking-out phase.  Luckily, we caught it. And when I went through the winter pictures, I couldn't help but notice how many more pictures there were of her than her siblings.  This fourth baby has no shortage of captured moments of her infancy...

Finger painting is a highly recommended Sensory Play activity.  Paxton likes to do it in ketchup and syrup, which as far as I'm concerned is a Win because that's two activities with one mess.

And the box our Amazon Subscriptions come in every month continues to be a favorite toy.  While at first it was more of a house-type structure, this winter, it was usually an "egg".

Elliot spent most of his time at home in the Fall going completely naked, which...whatever, as long as he's using the toilet and letting me wipe him, I don't care.  But when Winter settled in, finally started wearing underpants, albeit backwards more often than not.

And Bridget found the one cabinet I purposefully do not baby-proof, the one where I keep the tupperware.

Kendra decided to make all her Valentines this year--so for every single one of her 22 classmates, her teacher and the 2 aides, she came up with something like this:

She was even able to sneak in a visit to Daddy's school, which is a special treat she really treasures.

And, looking back on all these pictures, the thing that really comes to mind is the little "We Did It!" song at the end of every episode of Dora the Explorer.  Because we did.  Sometimes just barely by the skin of our teeth...but we did it!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fall Photo Dump

 Someone found an Oreo..

Our standard fresh-out-of-the-bath series we like to do at about six months:


Poppa came to keep us company while Daddy was at a conference.

I was able to attend Kendra's Halloween party at school.  She was one of only 3 Elsas in her class, but they all had different dresses, so it totally worked out.

And Elliot was a fire fighter--he was pretty excited about that indestructible helmet.

Ready to storm the complex!  Our kids still get more out of making the rounds than they do actually eating the candy.

My mom sent a pack of cookies to decorate, and they had a ball.

Bridget's development actually slowed down quite a bit after rolling and crawling so early, but it still happened pretty dang fast.  When she became aware of that window outside, she often tried sooo hard to peek through it!

I found a couple of Paw Patrol costumes on clearance after Halloween to add to the dress-up box.  They were pretty happy campers about it.

Usually Elliot is the one to join a photo op but this time Paxton cozied himself in.

Such a great kid.

She just needed the right motivation to pull up--such a Daddy's girl!

I had lots of mornings like this with the boys this year--Kendra at school, Bridget down for her morning nap, and we got to play.  I super love staying home with them...

Kendra was sent home with a bear to assemble and dress.  She chose for hers to be a rainbow ballerina bear, she did the coloring and chose the other materials and I helped her place them.

This kid can rock a fedora, even when eating lunch.

We don't do Santa.  The kids have seen enough holiday specials from our childhood that they know the story of Santa, but we've never had presents come from him, or written him letters, or taken any of the kids to get pictures taken with him.  But this year a local store had an event with Elsa and Anna, and Santa happened to be there as well, so I made an exception.

And when Kendra was preparing to leave for our outing dressed in costume, Elliot decided that he needed one as well.

Kendra thought it was pretty fun.

And Elliot was pretty shy, which is pretty typical for him around new people.  It always throws me off guard because he's so outgoing at home, but he really freezes up in new surroundings.  Everyone loved the firefighter, though.  I can't say I blame them...

While Paxton doesn't have any official issues and no doctors have ever expressed concern, we really got worried about him this year.  He was born much longer and leaner than any of our other children but he just got so, so skinny.  I started doing some research and kept finding suggestions about using Sensory Play to help kids with this type of issue.  "Sensory Play" basically means activities that make a mess.  The only problem is that I discovered all this right before Paxton broke his arm, so while I wanted very much to start incorporating some things into his days, it had to be dry because of his cast.  So I started with some shredded foil for gifts since it was the holiday season, and it was a pretty big hit.

I tried to put away the Bumbo once Bridget outgrew it...but it somehow keeps getting back out.

Merry Christmas!

One Date Night, I got a text from the babysitter saying that Paxton had locked himself in his room and that cereal was flowing out the door.  I was a little confused by what she was talking about, and we laughed hysterically when I unlocked the door and we found this:
I had purchased a double box of Fruit Loops from Sam's Club, and apparently left the second bag on too low of a shelf in his room (where you can see, he shares his bed with shelving units) and he took it, opened it, and...had some Sensory Play.

Photo Dumps are lazy blogging, it's a fact.  But it sure does cover a lot of ground when you're as backlogged as I am...