Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Spouts from Ben

  • After telling me that a couple of older boys get mad at his friend and chase them around, I asked Benny why he thought they did that. His reply was, "They've got something wrong with their head. Maybe their brain is turned sideways or even backwards." I love kids' explanations for things!
  • The boys have been doing chores--three days a week they are on a rotating schedule of tasks. So, when Charlie sat down at the table to have a snack and Ben was in the middle of using the dustbuster on the kitchen rug Ben says, "Charlie, make sure you hold your head over the table! I don't want to have to clean up your crumbs!" Oh, I can only hope that translates into him keeping his own head over the table. Maybe making kids deal with the consequences of their actions will help create good habits. Or maybe I'm delusional.

Ah, Sharon Woods, how I love thee

As you probably know, one of our favorite places to visit is Sharon Woods. It has great playgrounds for the kids to use and offers a wealth of Kodak moments. Yesterday was no different. We met Grandma Alice, Lexi, Eva and Jay and made the most of the mild day.

How precious are these faces? I'm so excited for when they're all running around together. Never with any of my other kids have I had so many friends who had kids the same age. This is a lot of fun!

What a girl, Lexi is! The boys don't mind...much. She just jumps right in with them, although most of the time it's while singing at the top of her lungs. The boys just don't understand.

They had a good time finding rocks to throw into the water.

And these guys had fun just hanging out. They're set up from least amount of hair to ridiculously gorgeous hair. Poor Mere!

If there isn't a party, is it a real birthday?

Louie's birthday landed on a Monday. It was the Monday before Easter, and a couple days before his good friend went out of town, so: no party...yet. We did have a special dinner (homemade cheese pizza) and a really cool cake, Louie still said, "But today isn't really my birthday, is it?"

Here are a few pics from our family celebration. It was still a pretty cool day. He brought brownies to school for his class treat--brownies with yellow icing and bunny rabbit sprinkles. His friend Sarah told him to tell me that they were the best brownies she had ever, ever had. My secret? About an inch of icing on top of each one! I'm sure their teacher was really excited about that!

After school we went to scout out a new park in which to have Meredith's first birthday party (we take our parties pretty seriously around here!). Grandma R. met us there and gave Louie a little gift since his party with the family is so far off for an eager little one. A fun chapter book with all his favorite characters! It still amazes me that kids can read so well in kindergarten.

The boys had a good time on the jungle gym at this park--I think it's a winner! When we got home they all took it easy, watching Madagascar while I made up the dough for the pizza. Oh, and Louie got to open some really cool cards he got in the mail! Little person or big person, I think everyone loves getting (non-bill related) stuff in the mail.

Daddy got home and he had a surprise--Aunt Jill had met him after work to give another little gift to Louie. After dinner he opened it up to find a bag of mini chocolate baseballs and a dinosaur that poops out candy. Aunt Jill knows what her godson likes!

You know you want one of these guys...yes, once again I embarrass myself with pictures of disastrous desserts. Too much packed into one day means a shoddy job on the cake. Louie loved it, though! Fortunately we had a cute plastic bunny to put on top to take away from the dripping gel pen that wouldn't cooperate!

Louie was fine with all of his siblings blowing out (spitting out) his candles along with him.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Meredith's Palm Sunday Dress

How lucky is a little girl who has two choices of what to wear for Easter?

When Meredith was born, my friend Mooney gave Meredith a gorgeous pink dress, complete with a little cardigan. It is beautiful. Mere was also given the sweetest little yellow, Japanese-inspired dress by Aunt Joanie and Uncle Josh for Christmas.

Decisions, decisions. We decided to go with the yellow dress for Easter and so she was able to wear the beautiful pink dress on Palm Sunday, and she will wear it again on the Sunday after Easter, when we celebrate with Daddy's side of the family. Not a terrible thing to have many events to wear fancy dresses for!

We had to have a photo shoot to capture how pretty the little lady looked:

Decorating Eggs

With one week to go before Easter, we needed to color our eggs! Grandma and Grandpa R came over and we set to work--about twenty eggs needed to be decorated and it turned out that it wasn't that big of a duty. Little kids fly through their eggs. The boys decided to also include watercolor paint in their decorating, which did add a few minutes to the amount of time they spent on each one!

No special techniques were used this year, although I did find a neat marbleizing look that I just didn't have time to put into action. Crayons, watercolor paint and vinegar dyes were what was available. Here are some shots from the evening:

The "before" shot

Charlie, hard at work, for a minute or two

Along with yellow, blue was a favorite dye to use.

Benny, experimenting with different colors. One of his eggs became a curious shade of gray.

Looking, with trepidation, at the lack of blank eggs still available.

"What's all the fuss over the eggs? I think this paper towel is pretty cool!"

The "finished" product

"Easter Bunny" by Louie

Palm Sunday and Ravioli

Sacred Heart is the church that my Grandpa grew up in and on Palm Sunday they have a big ravioli and spaghetti dinner after mass that is a fundraiser for their parish. The boys did really well in mass, which is one of the more difficult ones for little ones to sit through because of the long gospel.

Afterward they were rewarded with a delicious meal of handmade ravioli and meatballs with spaghetti! There is a line that starts immediately after church gets out and then the doors open for the meal to begin at noon. The first time I looked at the time it was 11:24am. This can be a long time for anyone, especially for little kids! We had a few snacks and some pads of paper for them to draw on and it wasn't a terrible experience waiting in line.

One of the stopping points was a set of stairs--out of the way for the boys to rest and not get in anyone's way.

Not so interested in drawing, Charlie ate Meredith's cheerios.

Do you see Louie enjoying the spaghetti?

It is a very chaotic event--so many people running around, serving, finding tables. We had a great young kid named Seth as our server who worked hard to make our meal enjoyable.

Meredith was a big fan of the delicious Italian food!

It's nice to go with Grandpa to his old stomping grounds, hear about what the neighborhood was like when he lived there. A very enjoyable day overall!

A Lovely Afternoon

Saturday was absolutely gorgeous so we decided to take the kids to go fly kites. In the past we've gone to Lunken Airport and Ault Park, so this year we went to French Park and we'll definitely being going back soon!

French Park is a place that I spent a lot of time at growing up. It has a lot of land with both wide open space and wooded areas, playgrounds and shelters. We found an open area in front of the old mansion and started put the kites together. Being on top of a hill, it was easy to get the kites up, even the boys could (kinda) get them up themselves.

Unfortunately, I only thought to take pictures of the kite flying, which may be the most difficult thing in the world to photograph, but I tried. The really great shots would have been of the hike we took afterward. I strapped Meredith into her Snugli and we took off down a hill to the creek. The boys were all wearing their boots so they were able to walk through the creek, which was a lot of fun for them! It was neat to watch them having fun, doing something I remember so vividly from my childhood. The exploring, the discovering, the enjoying the sunny day in the woods, seemingly far from civilization. It was such a fun day, one of those ones that I know will be burned into my memory for a long time. One of those days that when I think back to my kids' childhood, it will stick out for me.

Cousin Time

Gracie came over to visit on Friday afternoon and the Casa Llena kids were all sorts of excited. Grace lives with a huge, bear cub of a dog named Moses, so she's used to some action being around her, but I'm going to have to say that three little boys may trump the dog, mainly because he's a pretty laid back guy and the boys are bonkers. But Gracie handled it well and I was able to snap a couple of shots of the action.

The kids are absolutely thrilled to have their cousin over to play. I'm wondering how long this will last. Once dolls and fingernail polish come into the picture, I'm guessing the boys will make themselves scarce--that is, unless the game is "terrorizing the girls."

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Louie's Day

It was late March in 2004. I was done teaching for the year, we had just gone to a March Madness party the night before at (the future Grandma) Alice's, and I had gotten over thinking that I was going to go early with my first born. It was the day before my supposed due date and everyone told me that people go late with their first.

I was taking it easy that day. Kevin left to go to work. He was still working in Dayton at that point. The only thing I had to do that day was to drop my brother Joe off at NKU. It was a sunny day when I was headed south, Joe sitting beside me wearing an "Iron Horse" T-shirt*.

I felt weird, but to a hypochondriac who is going through pregnancy for the first time, it wasn't anything unusual. On the way back from dropping Joe off I gave my doctor's office a call and they told me to come on in. After an exam that took all of 47 seconds, my normally laid back doc said to get straight to the hospital. No stops. I decided that I would have to stop home to get my bag for the hospital, and on my way there I called my mom to come get me and called Kevin to tell him to turn around.

The pain hadn't gotten to me yet, but my water had broken so they had me in my room and hooked up to pitocin very quickly--I'd say it was at about 10am. And a big storm came quickly after that--along with contractions! Kevin showed up around noon and people started coming to the hospital shortly afterward.

The thing with this baby was, it was the baby. The one who would make not only Kevin and I first-time parents, but there would be new grandparents, new aunts and uncles, new great-grandparents and new great-aunts and uncles. A lot of changes would come with this bundle and that, along with the fact that we didn't know if it was going to be a boy baby or a girl baby made it all that more exciting!

Louis Victor* made his way into our world at 5:50pm on Monday, March 29th; 8 pounds and one ounce, 21 inches long. It was a fairly easy delivery. Like, three pushes and we had ourselves a baby (I owe so much of that to my fantastic OB!). Kevin and I stared at each other in shock. I don't care what anyone says--I don't know if I had it in my mind that I was just putting on some extra weight or what, but nothing prepared me for having our very own child until my doctor put Louie in my arms.

I didn't cry, like I saw so many women do in TV shows and movies, on "The Baby Story." But I did feel a rush, a filling-up feeling in my chest. This just happened. We just had a baby. I felt disconnected from the situation. All the busyness of the nurses and doctor in the room. Kevin snapping pictures left and right, all the while his eyes were filled with tears of joy. This was such a gift to me. This feeling of calm and peace. I felt very grounded in the moment, me, with this baby latched onto me in his first minutes of life.

This story isn't much different than many delivery stories you've heard, I'm sure. But it's the story that started our family, the one that made me a mom, Kevin a dad, and paved the way for the other three crazies. And it brought us to today. My baby, my first-born is six years old today. He likes superheroes and drawing; he loves baseball; he has the most adorable sprinkling of freckles across his nose; he has a good heart; he loves his brothers and sister; he enjoys helping out; he is very curious; he is a good reader; he is...more than my words can describe. I am so blessed to have my little guy and I am happy I was able to share a little about the day he was born with you.

Happy 6th Birthday, Louie!!!

*Did Uncle Joe have a premonition when getting dressed that morning?? (Iron Horse = Lou Gehrig)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trains, they don't go out of style

Aunt Joanie and Uncle Josh took three lucky boys to Frisch's for lunch and then to EnterTRAINment Junction. It was the first visit for our guys and from the sounds of it, it may have to be an annual trip!

When the boys were picked up they were each handed their own conductor hat and jumped in the van to listen to the cool tunes from "The Chipmunk Movie (The Squeakquel)". The boys were definitely being indulged because as much as I love the Chipmunks, listening to their high-pitched renditions of the latest pop songs is not my cup of tea.

The promotion the train place was running in March is that with each paid admission you get free admission to the Fun House. They saved it for the end of their day and apparently it was made for older kids, although no one said anything to warn them before they went through it. It must have been quite scary because when they were through with it Louie nervously asked Joanie when they were going to the fun house. When Joanie told him that's what they just went through Lou yells out, "They call that fun?!"

They decided to go back to the Imagination Junction area, which seemed to be the highlight for all three of the boys. Trains always have been and, I imagine, always will be a hit with these guys.

Thank you Aunt Joanie and Uncle Josh!

My Favorite Time of the Day

I love easy going mornings where there is no place we have to be, the sun is shining and the coffee is brewing. My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, probably because of the relaxing nature of it. I am lucky to have married a guy whose talents include making some pretty fantastic breakfasts!

These aren't the best pictures of some of his creations (blueberry 'cakes for Mom and Dad; regular for the boys and Mere), but I wanted to capture the moment: sunshine peeking in the windows on a spring morning, shining on the few pancakes left after the kids and Kevin have deserted the kitchen to wrestle in the living room.

I will clean up the kitchen now, including the remnants of what Meredith has eaten. She loves her Daddy's pancakes and eggs. I think she's very happy to be able to join in this tradition with us :)

En Plein Air

I have been trying to find some activities to do outside that don't entail getting muddy from head to toe. I really don't mind them getting dirty, but I also don't want them ripping up the yard before the grass has time to set so that the rest of the year our yard is a mud pit!

I came across the idea of "plein air" and thought that the boys would really enjoy it! We have two easels that the boys got from Santa a couple of Christmases ago and they would be perfect for taking outside. Louie was at school, so I had Ben and Charlie find something in the back that's they would like to paint. Charlie picked a few yellow flowers that popped up along the driveway and Benny picked the basketball hoop.

We set them up and they got to work. Charlie decided to break against the mold and paint the yellow flowers blue, which he still called yellow. (Yes! He's talking, finally :) More and more each day. I hope you hear it soon because it's so cute.)

Benny painted Daddy and Louie and himself playing basketball. Charlie was not too happy to be left out of the painting. Something about discrimination against the short guy.

And Meredith wasn't sure what to think about it all. Her little head kept going back and forth between her brothers, as if she was watching a tennis match. But I think she really liked scooting around the backyard on her own. Her cute little shoes didn't take too kindly to it, though. They got pretty scuffed up in the process!