Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thomas - Three Months

Where do I even begin on how wonderful this baby is?  I remember back when we were discussing the possibility of having a third child and how the only thing I could come up with to say was that it really felt to me that someone was still missing.  There was a key part of our family that hadn't arrived yet.

He's here now.  And he's a perfect fit. 

At 3 months old:
  • Thomas has that trademark bald(ish) head that all my babies have sported.  Don't worry son, the hair will come later.
  • Sleeps through the night most of the time.  He's taken to waking up to eat the last couple nights, but in general he is a wonderful sleeper.  Usually goes down for the night around 10:00 and sleeps until 8:00.  Can't get much better than that.
  • Ticklish!  Get him in the right mood and tickle the right spot and you'll get this:

  • Loves to observe.  Sometimes he just wants to be put down on the floor so he can watch his brothers cause a ruckus. 
  • Still a pretty good eater, but has recently started to reject taking a bottle more often.  I'm really hoping this doesn't lead to a full on regression and refusal to eat from the bottle because that could spell big trouble for us.  I love that he's so into nursing, but I need him to be bottle friendly too.
  • His hemangioma has intensified in color and even become more raised up from the surface of his arm recently. 
  • He hates, hates, hates having Tummy Time.
  • Usually takes a little cat nap in the morning, a big long snooze in the early afternoon, and then a teeny catnap again in the late afternoon/early evening.  Not really on a tight schedule yet, per say, but this is definitely his pattern. 
  • Wearing all 3-6 month clothing now.  Not sure on his weight.
  • Eyes still have a bluish tint.  Wondering if they'll turn dark soon or if they're going to stay a blue-gray.  Maybe he'll end up with Daddy's eyes?
  • We see this face a lot:

Thomas, you are so much fun.  I love to snuggle with you, talk to you, smell your head, and watch you sleep.  Stay a baby for me for a while, ok?  Love you, sweet pea.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - November Week Four

Hello and welcome to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2011 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family.  Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their projects over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, November 20th - Well, I'm about 4 years behind, but I finally filled out the paperwork to get Isaiah on the waiting list for season Packers tickets.  So, he might get the call that it's his turn around the time he's looking for something new to do with his free time since he retired about 10 years ago.  Maybe he'll pass the tickets along to my future grandchild.  Who knows!

Monday, November 21st - His face might be misleading in this photo, but I promise you that Isaiah was actually pretty excited to show me his turkey hat he made in Glory Bees this morning.

Tuesday, November 22nd - Micah got the idea in his head today that he wanted to ditch the diapers and wear undies.  I went along with it for about two hours and two pairs of undies, but I put the end to that little experiment after watching him pee on himself not two minutes after I asked him if he needed to go potty.  He's just not quite ready yet.

Wednesday, November 23rd - Aren't babies funny?  They can sleep through anything and can also fall asleep in the strangest of positions.

Thursday, November 24th - Happy Thanksgiving!  For the first time in several years, my husband's grandmother got to see all her grandkids at once for the holiday and she asked me to get a photo of all of them.  Good looking crew!

Friday, November 25th - A new tradition began in our house this morning when Santa left a new book for the boys and a scout elf had taken up residence on our shelf.  The boys named him Buddy and are looking forward to seeing where he moves around to every day!

Saturday, November 26th - "Brain Freeze!!!"

Thanks for stopping!  :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Meet Buddy the Elf

This is Buddy.  He's our elf.  This morning, the boys came into the living room to find that Santa had left them a new book to read.  I read their new book to them and they heard all about how Santa sends these elves to watch the kids and report back to him on their behavior.  Isaiah soaked it up like a sponge and when the story was over, I pointed up to the shelf and said.....

"Wait....what's that??"

And there was our elf.  Perched up on the shelf by a photo of Thomas, the jolly little guy smirked and watched over his charges with authority.  Yet, there was a very important task left for the boys to do.

They had to name him.

"Isaiah, what should we name the elf?"

" bout......Elf."

"No sweetie, he needs a name.  What's your favorite name in the whole world?"


Caleb is our neighbor's name.  He's in Isaiah's preschool class and I thought that might be a bit confusing.  After offering up some suggestions like Bob, George, Frank, and a multitude of other choices, the boys finally agreed on a name for their elf.


So, Buddy has arrived at our house.  He'll watch over the kids from his spot every day, fly back to Santa at night to report in on whether they're being naughty or nice, and then assume a new spot before the boys wake up in the morning.  Isaiah's already decided they're going to race to see who finds Buddy first in the morning.

Just for the record, we don't really do Santa in our family.  We are careful to explain and emphasize that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus.  We have compared Santa to Shrek, in that he's a character.  That being said, this just sounded like a really fun Christmas activity to do with our boys that I knew they'd enjoy.  And if it helps their behavior as a result, so be it!! 

Can't wait to share all the adventures of Buddy the Elf with you!

Does your family have an Elf on the Shelf?  What have been some of your favorite Elf hiding spots?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks

Lots to be thankful for this week.  Heck, I have lots to be thankful for every day.  Roof over my head, jobs that put food on our table and clothes on our backs, family who love us, a God who never fails.  But today as I sit in my new pajama pants and the spirit of the holiday starts to take hold, I'm particularly grateful for these crazy boys that scream through my house.

I'm thankful for this turkey.

I'm thankful for this stinker.

And I'm thankful for this goofy guy.

The idea that the Lord would choose to bless me with such beautiful children still boggles my mind a bit. 

Oh, and I'm also thankful for the DVD player in the minivan.  Big fan of that come tomorrow morning.

On that note, here's wishing you safe travels to wherever this Thanksgiving takes you.  Here's to a Packer victory!  Here's to good food, good conversation, and a whole lot of grateful hearts. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - November Week Three

Hello and welcome to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2011 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family.  Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their projects over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, November 13th - Evan sent me this photo he took with his phone of the sitting room area in the Presidential Suite he got to stay in at his hotel in Qingdao.  They had accidentally given away his room, so he got upgraded for free!  Swanky stuff!

Monday, November 14th - My mom came over today to give me a some help with the boys.  I got my grocery shopping done and she got some quality time with her grandsons.

Tuesday, November 15th - Today was Ashley's turn to lend a hand!  I took Isaiah to his 4 year checkup while she hung out with Micah and later in the day, they roped her into some artsy fartsy time at the table.

Wednesday, November 16th - I took these photos with my cellphone and sent them via text message to Evan's phone so that they'd be the first thing he saw when he turns his phone on tomorrow upon arriving back home.  I love Thomas's face in both of them!

Thursday, November 17th - Daddy is finally home!!  He brought back this gift box that was given to him over in China.  The fan is lovely, but that rolled up scroll underneath it is just gorgeous.  It's HUGE, but gorgeous.

Friday, November 18th - The boys' new clock arrived today, and not a moment too soon.  It's the Teach Me Time Clock and it acts as a nightlight and then you can set it to glow green when it's ok for them to get out of bed in the morning.  I'm desperately hoping it will help with the new 5:30 am wake time they've developed since Daylight Savings Time.

Saturday, November 19th - We hosted our annual Fat Man's Thanksgiving celebration today and the boys made a great meal, as usual.  What I didn't expect was what would await me when the girls and I came upstairs to start cleaning up.

We're so happy to have Evan back from his trip to China!  After a really busy weekend, we're trying to get back to business as usual.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day Ten

Here's what I have learned after ten days of being on my own with three kids (ages 4, 2, and 11 weeks). 

1.  The kids miss their Daddy.

I saw a difference in the kids' behavior almost immediately after Daddy left and it became more crystal clear to me than ever that they absolutely adore him.  That's not to say that they don't love me as much, but there is just something special about the relationship my sons have with their father.  I can't replace that.  I can try to wrestle around with them, but it's just not the same.  I can't toss them around like Daddy does (my boys are HEAVY!) and my Kiss Monster just isn't quite as intense.  There's just something about Daddy and you can see it in their faces and hear it in their squeals of delight when he comes in the door every day.  When he's not there for an extended period of time, the whole dynamic of the house changes. 

2.  It's ok to accept help when it is offered.

I've never been very good at taking help when people offer and I'm even worse at asking for it.  I never want to put anyone out or feel like I'm adding a burden to anyone.  It wasn't until I recently that it finally clicked in my head that there are some wonderful people out there who find sincere joy in reaching out a helping hand to others.  My parents, my in-laws, my friend Jodi, and a number of the girlfriends I have from church are these people.  They played with my kids so I could go catch up with a friend from high school.  They took care of the baby so I could take a shower.  They brought me supper so I wouldn't have to cook and spoiled me with an incredible pampering gift basket.  In short, these wonderful people blessed me over the last ten days, making this whole thing so much easier.

3.  It is perfectly acceptable to just survive.

You might think this really wouldn't have been too much of a struggle.  I mean, I spend most of my time being a stay at home mom anyway, what's a few more hours/days?  It becomes difficult because Evan being gone throws off the whole balance we have and I find myself getting further and further behind on things like cleaning, laundry, cooking, and the other day-to-day things that I usually have help with.  These struggles are compounded when you add in two boys who are suddenly getting up at 5:30 every morning, a two year old who still has major sleep issues, and an infant.  Surviving is just fine.

4.  I can totally do this.

I am perfectly capable of taking care of my three sons.  It may not be easy, it may not be pretty, and it certainly isn't perfect, but I'm the one God chose to be their mama.  And I can totally do this.....when I have to.

That being said, hurry home honey!!

The Bedtime Bear Award

Bedtime has been difficult in this house for quite some time.  There have been nights where it literally takes us hours to get our darling 2 year old, Mr. Micah John, to bed.  He would get up out of bed over and over, cry to be cuddled, scream, holler, and just cause havoc in general.  Unfortunately, this was dragging down the sleep of his big brother, otherwise known as his bunkmate.  Poor Isaiah was left up there on the top bunk, just trying to ignore the distractions of little bro.

Anyway, if you've read my blog before, you know about the sleep trouble.  You know it extends to naptime as well.  You know this.  It was time to try something new.

After yet another frustrating go-round Sunday night, I made something up.  Right there.  Spur of the moment.  I created The Bedtime Bear Award.  I explained to the boys that whoever stayed in bed and slept like a big boy would win the award in the morning. 

Then I realized I had no idea what I was talking about.

When they were finally asleep, I turned to Google and started looking up reward charts, bedtime routines, prize ideas, and a whole bunch of other stuff.  I couldn't find a reward chart I liked, so I emailed Evan and he made one up for me that came out to be just what I had in mind.  So, here's how it breaks down.

The Chart

It tracks the bedtime behavior that I want the boys to work on.  Every time they complete that task well, they get to put a sticker in the corresponding box on their chart.  I'm charting a week at a time and if they hit 25 stickers in a week, they win The Bedtime Bear Award!  Remember, I've done this for all of a couple days, so I have no clue if this will actually work.  I may need to reduce it to 20 stickers or change that part up completely, but this is what we're trying out for now.

The Prizes

So what do they actually win?  Here's what I did to tempt my little boogers into behaving.

I evicted my black boots from their box under my bed.

I covered it in wrapping paper.  Christmas paper is all I had, so that's what I went with.  I suppose it would have been cooler to use like Spiderman wrapping paper, but I didn't have that.

Then I dug in my gift stash and did a little poking around Walgreens to find some prizes to fill the "Treasure Chest."

Berenstein Bears books I already had stashed away.

Cars - $0.89 a piece at Walgreens.

A few coloring books.  2 for $1 at Walgreens. 

The puzzles were also 2 for $1 at Walgreens.

The pencils were 4 for $1 at Walgreens, the metallic stickers were $1 each, and the CARS stickers on the left were buried in my junk drawer.

Yes, I even raided the boys' Halloween candy that they've forgotten about.  I have no shame.

Then I tossed it all in the box and wrote "TREASURE CHEST" on the top with a big Sharpie.

I showed the boys the contents of the box and explained that they would get to pick a prize out of the Treasure Chest if they won the Bedtime Bear Award for the week by filling their chart with stickers.

Now all that remains to be seen is if it actually works.  I'd like to say it magically whipped them into shape the very first night, but that's not the case.  Isaiah (the 4 year old) is all about it and even thanked God in his prayers for the Bedtime Bear Award.  Micah (2 years old....TROUBLE) did much better at the getting into bed, saying prayers, tucking in part, but still didn't go to sleep on his own.  He got up three times in the first 20 minutes and cried himself to sleep because Mommy wouldn't lay down and cuddle with him.

To help with all this, I also ordered this clock from Barnes and Noble.

It's called the Teach Me Time clock and it glows green when it's ok for the kids to get up out of bed in the morning.  My guys have been getting up at 5:30 ever since the time change and that is definitely not acceptable in my world.  I hate mornings.  Mornings are evil.

Apparently it also talks and helps them learn how to tell the time as well.  As long as it gets them to stay in bed until 7:00, it will be worth every penny of the $36 price tag.  I'll be sure to report in on the effectiveness of this little number.  I can tell you that Isaiah is stoked to get it. 

So, that's what's shaking when it comes to bedtime in our world.  It's a whole new approach that we're very new to, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it makes a world of difference. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 1/7/12:
Bedtime has improved significantly!  We used the reward chart for about 5 weeks and then kind of just forgot about it after we came back from Christmas and the boys haven't even asked about it since.  They know to clean up their toys before bed, we read books, say prayers, turn out the lights, and that's it. No more fights, no more drama. They just know they are to go to sleep.  And then they stay in bed until 7:00 am thanks to that miracle of a clock!!  At about 7:03 every morning, they run into my bedroom yelling "Cwock Gween!!!"  Love. It.  Naptime is still kind of hit or miss, to be honest, but it has definitely improved.

UPDATE 1/9/12:
The reward chart I used is now available for download!  My husband actually created it in Excel, but I took out the things specific to my kids, so it is more generic and ready to be adapted for your use.  Download yours HERE!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Project Life Tuesday - November Week Two

Hello and welcome to Project Life Tuesday! I am taking a photo every day in 2011 and putting them together in an album to create a unique keepsake of this year for our family.  Be sure to check in on what others are doing with their projects over at The Mom Creative!

Sunday, November 6th - First thing Micah did after getting dressed was grab his brother's brand new lightsaber and start a duel with Mommy.  Grandma's already said she's going to get Micah one of his own with the sounds and lights!

Monday, November 7th - We had a significant amount of birthday cake left over after Isaiah's birthday party.  With Daddy gone in China, it's up to us to finish it off.  I love that my Micah John eats the frosting first.  Just one of the many wonderful things about him.

Tuesday, November 8th - We spent the day at my parents' house today.  That little wall has height markings for both my sister and me since we were teeny tiny and now my kids are starting to add their marks.  Such a simple, but cool way to record memories.

Wednesday, November 9th - Today is Isaiah's 4th birthday!!  I made him birthday pancakes this morning, he got to bring birthday treats to preschool, and then we drove into Madison to take him to the Nitty Gritty for lunch so he could really enjoy being the special birthday boy.  We also got the first snow of the year today, something Isaiah says God sent him as a birthday present!

Thursday, November 10th - This is just one of Micah's mischief faces.  That boy can get into trouble like no other and you can always read it all over his cute little stinker face.  Just makes me want to tickle the snot out of him!  :)

Friday, November 11th - I'm so in love.  If he's sleeping when The Bigs are finally napping and the house is quiet, I spend several precious minutes just staring at this guy. 

Saturday, November 12th - Spent the day at the in-laws' house so the boys could get in some serious playtime and Mommy could get a little break.  Aunt Ashley also got some Thomas snuggle time, so it was win/win for everyone.

And thus ends our first seven days of Daddy's business trip to China.  It hasn't been easy and we're all anxious for him to return, but we're surviving.  There's a lot of "fake it 'till you make it!" going on around here. 

Side note....I'm thinking of taking a slightly different approach to Project Life 2012.  Instead of doing a photo every day like I've done for 2010 and 2011, I'm considering switching to just doing a weekly layout.  Some days just have better photo potential than others and then I can easily include 5 photos from one day, but then skip the days where nothing really drew my camera's gaze.  Sara does a great job of this over at Peterson Stories.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday Stuff

No Packers game on Sunday afternoon, so I was stuck watching the Bears vs. Lions game.  I thought it would be a good contest, but it ended up being the Stafford Sucks Show.  The Bears won big and that's something I can never stomach very well.

So, I opted for the next option available to me.  I folded laundry.  The two baskets of laundry that had been sitting there, staring at me, taunting me for the past two days.  Yeah, I finally folded the stupid things. 

Thomas was a big help, as you can see.  What was an even bigger help was that big brothers both stayed asleep long enough to let Mommy finish. 

Later, Thomas was subjected to the humiliation of Tummy Time. 

He was less than amused.

Our bedtime routine Sunday night prompted me to institute a new approach to the bedtime issues we've had.  On the spur of the moment, I created the "Bedtime Bear Award" and tried to bribe the boys into going to bed nicely so they could win the award. 

I spent the rest of the night Googling reward charts and eventually emailed my husband in China to ask him to make a chart for me.  I'll share it along with the prize system I pulled out of my butt very soon.

I'm watching the Packers beat the crap out of the Vikings.  One of my favorite things to do, really.  Also, I love this commercial.  It makes me smile every time.  Enjoy, friends.

See you tomorrow for Project Life Tuesday!

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