Saturday, February 28, 2009

Back Seat Driver x 3

We went to our church's fish fry on Friday night with Grandpa M. It was a nice event, nothing like Dayton puts on, but nice. Near the church is a weird intersection. And by weird I mean that there are four or five streets all meeting at an intersection, but all coming from different directions. It's very confusing, especially because you have a traffic light just for your lane.

I give you all this background because it is completely understandable why Kevin got confused and (very obviously) ran a red light. I remarked on it immediately because Kevin is a very good driver and it was out of character for him to be so blatantly breakin' the law. As soon as the words were out of my mouth a police car pulled us over.

Grandpa and Kev were sitting up front and the boys and I were in the back. As the sheriff's deputy is walking up to the van Lou is freaking out, "Are we going to jail?!" I told him to hush and we'll talk about it as soon as the police officer leaves. It was funny because the boys are squirming in their seats and Kevin is having the hardest time finding his license and the cop isn't saying anything, just standing there waiting. Kev finds it and pulls the insurance card out and the deputy leaves.

When he finally comes back, we are greatly relieved because the extremely kind officer says that he'll give Kevin a warning because, "No one needs a $115 ticket these days." It probably helps that Kev hasn't had any kind of traffic infraction in a long time (I'm knocking on wood).

As we pull away from the curb we come to the next intersection: a three-way stop. As soon as Lou and Ben see the stop signs they scream at the top of their lungs, "SSSTTTTTTTOOOOOOOOOP!" They are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, making sure Kev knows there's a stop coming up, but yeesh, that was a bit much.

And to top it off, Charlie wanted to join in the fun and in the next block, no traffic light or road sign anywhere to be seen, he calls out his version of the word "stop." Poor Kev.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thank you, Charlie Bear

I have all these amazing friends who are training for some sort of running race or another. They are my heroes. They run at night, they run on early Saturday mornings, they run when the air freezes their lungs, they run when they can't breath, for the air is as thick as soup. I am impressed by them all.

I am in a training of a different sort. I am training to get back in the routine of having a newborn baby. My personal trainer: Charlie. Around 11pm I got home from book club last night and was about to go to bed when he started wailing. I waited, figuring that he was just calling out from a dream. No such luck. The crying wouldn't end and, in fact, got worse. I picked him up out of his crib and rocked him in a chair in his room.

After doing this for about a half-hour, he was breathing quite deeply and I felt it was safe to lie him down and head on in to my own bed. The cries began immediately. I let him go (I'm pretty good at letting my kids cry it out), then realized it wasn't going to end. So I went in to get him, bringing him in bed with us. It's always been my preference not to have kids in bed with us. This is mainly when they're itty-bitty because it scares me to no end. Now that Charlie has gotten bigger, he usually sleeps so well lying between us that I give in every once in a while.

This did not work last night. He was kicking and turning and doing everything but sleeping. Finally, I put him back in his crib and had him put himself to sleep. He woke up at normal time this morning, with a smile on his face, like last night did not happen. So I have no answers, no way to avoid what happened last night. I certainly did not wake up with a smile on my face! The only thing I can figure is that Charlie knows that his little brother or sister is on its way and he's doing his best to help me ease back into the routine. Such a thoughtful kid!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Some much needed fresh air

If you remember from this time last year I got Lou and Ben some rain boots so we could enjoy the outdoors without ruining our gym shoes. This year was Charlie's turn. Unfortunately, we couldn't find boots small enough for him, so I bought these, which are actually the same size as Benny's! I stuffed the toes to help with his balance, but I'm not sure what good it did.

What made it even funnier is that he was plodding around like a big ol' dinosaur, which is what covers his boots. He only fell a couple of times.

Ben was excited to get out his birthday present to give it a go. Poor guy, he put so much effort into the stomping and the rocket barely got off the stand. Something to work toward!

Here are the cool guys in their boots. They were very helpful! We pulled weeds and got the soil ready for planting in the weeks to come. They're so excited for us to expand our garden: spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, jalapenos, green and red peppers, basil, rosemary, dill and cilantro will be filling those beds soon. We can't wait!

Big ol' Belly Laughs

Charlie has found another way to leave us all in stitches.

He's discovered that it's not too hard to imitate the sounds of sleep, even when you're awake. So he makes this snoring sound--with his eyes wide open--and it makes us all laugh and laugh and laugh.

What's really funny is that he does it with this look on his face, anticipating the laugh he'll get from us. It's hilarious.

One of these days I'll get it on camera.

Fat Tuesday Celebration

We've been having a family Mardi Gras celebration probably for as long as we've lived in this house. Maybe longer than that. My memory fails me. Often.

Here's a couple of pictures of Charlie enjoying the festivities:



And not all the way after. It eventually got worse. Bakeries must use a whole lot of food coloring to get this kind of icing. Tasty, but boy, does it stain! All he wanted to do was use a fork to get all the icing off. He did eventually eat the cookie, but the topping was the most exciting part.

We actually did more than just eat! Here is a bit of what was on the menu: crab cakes, pizza bread, lava cake, chips and dip, king cake, black bean tortilla soup, cheese sticks...yeah, we went for the theme.

Then we played L-R-C. It's a great game because everyone's in it until the very end and little boys ages three and up and participate without it being too difficult. We had a lot of fun, even if Uncle Nate did go home with all the winnings.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Heart Rate

The baby's heart rate at the appointment yesterday was 155.

Are you a believer in the old wives' tale about heart rates??

I was thinking that it was 150 and above, but everything I looked up today says 140 and above is girl, below is boy.

However, I also read that there was a study done that said the difference they could find between male and female heart rates was only during labor. At that point I'm not going to be thinking about gender, just getting to the finish line!

The Hunt

Walking out of school today I noticed Ben had some binoculars that he made in class today. When I asked him about them he said, very enthusiastically, "We went on a BEAR hunt today!!"

Lou responds with, "A BEER HUNT?! You went on a BEER hunt today?!"

"NO! A BEAR HUNT!" Ben replies.

(Can you tell that with these guys it's either all caps or muffled, inaudible whispers?)

"Oh, a BEAR hunt. That makes more sense."

Naps, or lack there of

I think Charlie is officially done with taking two naps. There are definitely days where it seems like he could use two, but rarely does that happen. Unfortunately, the time he chooses to take his nap doesn't correspond to when I try to get the other two to lie down...

Louie may be done with naps all together. It is a pain to try to get him to just be quiet in his room, let alone actually fall asleep. Although, I have noticed that when he doesn't get naps he's more whiny and irritable. Now, trying to get him to understand how the two correlate is a different story. Next school year he'll go from 7:45am-2:40pm, which is a long time to be in school. I wonder if they have any time to rest.

Benny still naps. Once a day. Even if he refuses to at the appropriate time, he'll be completely zonked out at dinnertime.

But I haven't thrown out the old schedule completely yet. I figure things may change once the weather gets warmer and I run and run and run them like the pups they are. Pretty much my chances of being able to rest, too, are about one in a million.

So you're saying I have a chance!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Pluses and Minuses of the Infuriating Headcold

Starting Friday night I had the beginning symptoms of a head cold. It wouldn't have been overly terrible if it weren't for the fact that on Saturday I had an all-day event (9am-8pm) with my good friend Jenni, whom I only see once or twice a year! I had to go, and so I did and felt worse as the day wore on, but it was fun and I got a lot accomplished.

  • Being pregnant, there's nothing I can take to help relieve the pressure in my head, or help dry up the enormous amount of fluid residing in my skull
  • Having three little ones running around, I can't take advantage of the one, true remedy: sleep
  • There's still plenty of stuff that needs to get done around the house, that won't wait for one to stop acting like a baby and start feeling better
  • Although this is a big ol' minus for Louie and Benny, I can't smell when Charlie has let off a bomb in his diaper. The boys tell me about it, and what's great is that when I am changing him I don't start gagging!

The Magic of Rings and Pencils

I have probably told many of you this, but some I haven't so I thought I'd share:

At the end of January we went up for a visit to Cleveland. While we were there my mom thought we should do the "ring test" because both Erin and I don't know what we're having. We each used our own wedding rings, and did the "test" on both our wrist and our stomachs.

Each time Erin's went back and forth, and mine went in a circle. (Read: Erin's having a boy and I'm having a girl.) It was pretty amazing to see with your own eyes. The difference between the two was extremely noticeable, not left up to interpretation.

I also did the "Chinese Calendar" to determine the gender, and it said boy--for all four babies. Others I know who did this had results different from what they actually conceived.

I was thinking that because Erin and I used different rings that the results could have been different because of that. So a couple of weeks after Cleveland Mom and Joanie were over and we did the pencil test. Both Joanie and Mom took turns as the pencil holder and both results were the same: in a circle.

Last Sunday, when we had Jungle Jim day EVERYONE got involved. My cousin Andy found info that said that this is a Hungarian tradition, and not only does it predict gender for pregnant moms, but also shows the history for a mom who has already had babies. Not only that--the father will have the same results as the mother!

Although I tend to want to believe "old wives' tales," even I was skeptical as to what would happen when the fathers got involved. Here are a set of case studies, if you will, to make you a believer (however, I guess we'll only know how true it is come May & June...):
  • Both Erin and I had the test done again, by both my mom and Aunt Jane and they read Boy for Erin and Girl for me.
  • Joe did the test by both Mom and Aunt Jane and his said Boy. (Kevin chose not to participate.)
  • My cousin and his wife, who are not pregnant, both got the Boy verdict for their first born.
Now this is the kicker:
  • My Aunt Jane and Uncle Tom had four boys and then a girl. They both did the test, once with Mom holding the pencil, then with Lisa, Billy's girlfriend. Lisa does not know the order of their kids, and probably doesn't really know how much of each they have. Both time, for both my aunt and uncle the test read: Boy-Boy-Boy-Boy-Girl. Now that's just plain eerie.
There has to be some truth to old wives' tales, or else they wouldn't have lasted as long as they have. And it makes sense that there's some kind of vibe or energy being given off by the baby because it is a little bitty soul living inside you. (As a side note, I've heard that in Chinese culture you are considered 1-year-old when you are born because you have been living on this planet for about a year already.)

Regardless, I know that Kevin thinks it is ridiculous to do these "tests" because we have decided not to find out the baby's gender, but it's been fun to think about our next addition to the family. If we haven't been doing the pencil test I would just assume that we're having a boy because that's all we've ever known. Now it'll truly be a surprise!

(Does anyone have any information about the gender percentages? For example, the more of one gender you have, the higher percentage you'll have the same gender, until the babies get to four, then almost definitely you'll have the opposite for the fifth...unless you're all believers in that it's 50-50 each time...)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jungle Jim's Field Trip

Each year our family does a Jungle Jim outing. Not that we don't go out there other times during the year, but this is when all my aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, grandpa and parents meet at the Starbucks counter at noon, then we go through the different sections of the building together, looking for crazy delicacies to take home.

Afterward, we go to my parents and cook up what we found. Some of the highlights were: seafood stirfry (with nice chunky squid); deer chili; duck head soup; wildebeest meat; kimchee (fermented cabbage); fish balls; bamboo shoots; and chicken feet. Yes, chicken feet. Complete with toe nails!

It's amazing what people will put in their mouths! I guess things that seem completely bizarre to us is just as common as burgers and fries elsewhere in the world. There was a plate with the chicken feet on it and the boys immediately saw it when the came in from playing outside. Like it was a chip or some sort of snack, Ben came over, picked one up and started chomping on it.

My first reaction was to stop him, but then I realized that it wasn't going to kill him (unless he eats a toe nail and it gets lodged somewhere in him). And I can't keep them from doing things that freak me out. Charlie followed suit. When Lou came in a few minutes later and took part in his brothers' snack. You may think that they just didn't know what they were eating. They did. When each had one the plate was empty and Lou asks, "Mom, are there anymore chicken feet?"

Don't believe me? Here's proof:

Joanie and Josh got Charlie this adorable outfit for Christmas. Unfortunately, we don't have any weddings or other events to dress up for, so he got to wear his crushed velvet sports coat, pin-striped oxford and tweed pants to Jungle Jim Day!

Loving Art

Here are some of the things the boys have made at school in honor of St. Valentine's Day.

Big Announcement!

We've (okay, I've) decided to have Louie and Benny join a German dance group.

I'm sure many of you are shaking your heads, wondering what on earth I'm thinking (namely, my brothers). But I think it'll be great for them. And I'll give you my reasons why:
  1. They are relatively young (going on 5 and 4), so they don't know better.
  2. We have German heritage coming at us from all bloodlines, so it's good to keep the traditions going.
  3. I've heard that compared to other heritage dance groups, this is very laid back and can sometimes even be chaotic--perfect for us!
  4. They both can be relatively shy with groups of people, and I think this would be a great way for them to overcome their timidness.
  5. It's a family affair! The practices take place at a local German society and the whole family goes to enjoy the experience. After practices the families hang out, have some good ol' fashioned quality time :)
  6. They get to wear incredibly cute lederhosen--enough reason in itself!
There are a couple spring events, a few summer and one or two in the winter. Most take place at the German society, but they also do shows at festivals and other events around town. If anyone is interested in knowing the schedule, please get in touch with me. It'll be priceless...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Something to think about

I saw this one-minute video and thought you might enjoy it, too.

P.S. It brought tears to my eyes. Give me a break--I'm pregnant :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

A day to tell those we love how much we care about them

The boys seem to live from holiday to holiday. They knew that after the January birthdays there are three holidays: St. Patrick's Day, Easter, and Valentine's Day. They can't remember which order they're in, but boy, are they excited!

They ask what this Valentine's Day is all about, so I told them that it's a day where we tell those we love how much we care about them. That got them going and so we decided that on this year's VDay we'd make heart-shaped cookies, Valentine cards, and a special dinner for Daddy.

That morning I had coffee with a friend and when I got home the house was filled with balloons and the boys jumped out of hiding and yelled, "Surprise! Happy Valentine's Day!" Obviously, they were pretty excited.

Daddy went downstairs for the majority of the day to work on the basement so the boys and I got to work on a banner and Valentines. We had a nice candlelit dinner, then for dessert made and baked the sugar cookies. They weren't satisfied with just heart shapes, so we pulled out a leaf, moon, star, circle, and clover (we're just getting ready for St. Patrick's Day). All in all, it was a fun day. My friend Missy made the comment that if they keep this up year after year they may make three ladies very happy in the future :)

Treats Galore

A mother at the boys' school brought up a good point yesterday: Valentine's Day is getting as bad as Halloween. You should see all the candy the boys brought home. Enough to keep them awake until they go back to school on Tuesday, that's for sure! I debated on what to do. I didn't have time to do anything creative, and with all the allergies there's not a whole lot of options, but when I saw a box of Fun Dips I went ahead and bought them. They have the valentine right on the package! So easy.

It'd be a whole lot easier if the school just said, "Just Valentine cards." They get special treats at school, and then their teachers give them a little something to take home. Some kids even gave out Frisch's meal coupons! I have issues. I know, it's silly. Even though the boys probably have no idea what's going on, who is giving what, just in case, I didn't want them to be the only one who didn't give a piece of candy.

And to top it all off, if its possible, I have the one candy that is just a packet of sugar. Eaten with a sugar stick. Yes, I know that on Tuesday morning the moms will be coming over the thank me.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

VIP Night

During the week of Valentine's Day the boys' school has what they call VIP Night. It's a time for someone who doesn't normally get to see the school and possibly help out during class to get a taste for what goes on. With us having both of the boys there, Kevin couldn't be in both classrooms at once so I went with Louie and he, with Benny.

It was a lot of fun. Although I drop off and pick up Louie every day, my only chance thus far to be in the classroom was snowed out and I don't know if I'll be able to get back in there before his birthday party.

Most of the VIPs were daddies, but there was another mother, a few grandmas and and Uncle Jerry. It's neat to see these kids in action whom Louie talks about all the time.

In Benny's room, it sounded like things went pretty much the same. The kids had to introduce who their VIP was and one little girl announced that she brought her "Aunt Foo Foo." Apparently that got a few laughs. Nothing like coming to terms with the fact that not every family has nicknames for their loved ones. This coming from someone who knows this all too well...

We played mainly with the classroom's animal set, which included farm, jungle and forest animals. Louie also wanted to do a Valentine counting game and then we played with the pink play dough with heart cookie cutters.

After the VIP Night was over we met up with Daddy and Benny and headed to Graeter's! Daddy and Louie started the tradition last year and who was I to break tradition?? If you happen to stop by the treatery any time soon, please get a scoop of ice cream on top of a Snyder's pretzel cone--it is great!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Let's all go to the zoo, zoo, zoo...

Our wonderful friends, Owen, Eli, and Amanda were able to meet us at the zoo after school yesterday, as they too wanted to take advantage of the spring-like weather. Again, it wasn't as warm as we would have liked, but we were able to be outside!

We met in the Childrens' Zoo where the boys ran around until the peacocks started terrorizing them. The birds didn't hurt the boys, but it is pretty freaky when this large animals come up within a foot of you. I've heard they're mean birds, but they luckily didn't show this side of their personality. It probably didn't help that we were eating lunch right in front of them.

An interesting discovery at the polar bear exhibit: Michael Phelps and Polar Bears are related.
(I tried to upload pictures making this startling revelation, but for whatever reason the computer doesn't want to cooperate.)

Amanda's post on this is much, much better, and it has pictures!


Benny is learning to write his name and it's been a struggle. It's almost like the muscles in his hands don't want to cooperate. A pen looks awkward in his little paw.

So when he brought home a paper that his teacher made his name into a connect-the-dots and he traced over it, it was a big deal and everyone cheered on Benny.

Well, Lou did at first. Then he said, "Benny, is your named spelled "B-E-N-upside-down-U-L-L?"

That set Mr. Ben off, "It's NOT an upside-down-U!! Mom! Tell Lou it's not!"

He works so hard, and I felt bad for him, but really, it's something he's got to get used to. Siblings truly enjoy ribbing each other. He'll be fine.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Begging for Spring

Yesterday I saw that Monday was going to be nice and warm, so of course I wanted to take advantage of it. I guess I failed to realize that "nice" started at about noon and we went to the zoo at 10am.

The boys had hats and gloves and jackets on over sweatshirts. They claimed they were "toasty" and didn't want to wear the gloves or hats. As time went on it did start to warm up a bit and little by little they started shedding.

There was a fairly good crowd there today, so I wasn't the only person forcing their kids to be outside. The zoo is under a great deal of construction though, so the pathways have lots of mud and gravel, and trucks as well as backhoes come out of no where. We had to be careful.

To fight some of the chill (Charlie shed his gloves in the van and refused to wear mine) and the backhoes, we went into the manatee house. In less than five seconds Lou pretty much ruined my day. The last couple times we were in there, the manatees were not. We were pleasantly surprised to see them both out when we got there. "Slip" and "Lil' Joe," as they're known, were lying down on the floor of the tank. It seemed pretty odd since usually they're doing this fancy underwater ballet when we see them.

Lou asked what was going on and I said that maybe they were resting. His response was, "Like what you do, Mommy." Ugh. So, not only am I lazy and lie around all the time, but I'm as big as a manatee! Yes, I will admit that last night I spent a good portion of the evening resting and reading. I've been really tired lately and had a enormous headache that could only be cured by going to bed and reading...far away from screaming munchkins.

I am a manatee.

Don't think I'll be posting any pictures of myself until after the baby's born. WAY after the baby's born.

By the way, I couldn't tell the boys what the manatees were actually doing. The warm weather we're having isn't the only sign that spring is on its way. There's a good chance there's going to be some lil' manatees running around the zoo soon...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Fear Comes True

I'm not much a fan of the '80s. I realize that the 1980s were a good portion of my childhood, but I was more of a '70s person, as far as music goes.

So if I'm listening to the radio for music I'll most often listen to the "Classic Rock" station. In the last year or so these stations have been including '80s hair bands in their definition of "Classic Rock." I cannot tell you how much this disgusts me.

What may be worse is that after a great song by Led Zeppelin, a hair band song is played and all three boys are rockin' out, bobbing their heads to the music. Ugh. Nothing could be worse. Maybe if I make an effort to display my dismay they'll stop. Because they're still at that age where they want to appease me.

Later that day we were watching an episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Charlie was bobbing his head to the show's theme. Maybe I shouldn't worry about it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Charlie's List

  1. Ma
  2. Da
  3. Ball
  4. Wow
  5. Oww
  6. Hole
  7. Uh-oh
  8. SpongeBob (or something close)
  9. Bowl
  10. m'n'm
  11. Kakkk
  12. Kekkk
There's definitely been progress made. You can tell he's trying to say words, but in the end he mostly just nods enthusiastically when you say what he wants. It hasn't been a month since his last appointment, so we've got some time.

The more people I talk to say that either their child or a child they know didn't talk until 2 1/2 or 3, but when they did they. did. not. stop. So, I'm not going to worry too much about it. Our house is loud enough without some jabberjaws adding to it ;) (Did anyone else watch the Hanna-Barbara shows on USA Network in the '80s?)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Cleveland Trip

Awake at 7:30am, they came down the steps with their favorite stuffed animal (for the moment) and their blankies and announced they were ready to go to Aunt Cassie and Uncle Paul's.

I told them that we're going to leave at lunchtime. Every half hour after that they asked if it was time to go yet. They were very excited for the weekend.

Fortunately, the trip there went quickly. It is unbelievable how much snow they get! The entire weekend the boys begged to go outside and I think that even if it was possible, we would have lost Charlie, there was just that much snow. Below is a picture of the lake, but I don't think it shows it well enough. I didn't realize that the shallow parts freeze. I just figured it was like the ocean and with the waves crashing all the time it didn't allow for it to harden. Let's just say I'm glad I don't know from personal experience! Boy, it's cold!

It was a fun trip. Grandma & Grandpa R. were there with Great-Grandpa M. Aunt Erin & Uncle Joe drove with Aunt Joanie & Josh. The house was packed and we had a great time.

The boys love to climb on top of Daddy and their uncles' shoulders. This time it turned into a game of "chicken."

Aunt Cassie and Uncle Paul are incredible cooks and so we are treated to great meals during our stay. Even the dinosaurs got to join in.