Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Lego Christmas


I remember my first Lego toy; it was a airplane hosptial and matching ambulance. It had several nurse and doctor figurines plus a stretcher. I remember my sister and I playing with it for hours. Later in my early adulthood years my then boyfriend Caskey and I would buy Lego kits and spend evenings putting them together. Just after we were married we tackled a 2 1/2 foot tall figurine. We had purchased the kit at the Lego Store near Disney California Adventure. We used every available cereal bowl in the house to sort and seperate the Legos. It took us weeks to finish. That same (now, very dusty) Lego man is still standing in our bedroom.

The love affair with Legos has been passed on to our children. I still remember the first assorted Duplo box I bought for Lainy Ann. I bought another box for Connor when he was about 2 years old. Connor graduated to the grown up Legos by the time he was 4 1/2. And just this last summer we made sure he had his very own Lego space in our bedroom - safe from little hands that are eternally attracted to choking hazards. Now Connor and Lainy Ann (mostly Connor) will spend hours building and even more hours pouring over his Lego Magazine. It was no surprise that "Legos" was at the top of his Christmas List.


When I was first born my mother started a tradition of getting my sister and I an ornament each year. She always told us that when we grew up and moved out we would have a whole house of Christmas ornaments. And I do. I have also started the same tradition with my own children; so you can imagine how many ornaments we have now. I try to chose an ornament that is representative of an accomplishment during the year. Those years that the accomplishment is less concrete we fall back on the old standby of picture frame ornaments. After our big Lego year it only seemed fitting that this years ornament be a Lego ornament.

There are many different kinds of Lego ornaments, most of them sold by the Lego company. They are some sort of globe with a minifigure inside or other already made Lego sculpture. But I found online instructions for making Lego ornaments. Not only could we have a memento for our tree, we would be able to make ornaments for our friends, and it would be a great family activity. I am very pleased with the end results. We all sat down and worked together on the ornaments, of course Alexander and I worked together. But the rest of the family was able to make their own ornaments. Caskey even made a Googley-ornament with the leftover pieces.

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Experiences . . . . for Mommy

I have told Caskey for a long time now about how much I love being a stay-at-home-mom. It is the perfect job for me. I'm a self-starting over-achiever, so we always have a long list of things to do or things we want to do as a family. I am always on the go doing errands, volunteering, gathering supplies for the most recent classroom/team/scout treat. I scour the internet for new ideas for Papa's birthday cake or cupcakes for Halloween. I absolutely love being involved and busy in those ways. On the flip side, we have a lot of flexibility. If someone gets sick, if the baby didn't sleep well, or if its a dreary day outside I can cancel or rearrange our plans. It really is the perfect job for me since I can do exactly what I want to do.

It started slowly. I had to start doing things that weren't my favorite. First was sports. I dislike sports for a variety of reasons. But nonetheless I joined the ranks of soccer-moms everywhere and found myself wrestling a small child, with a camp chair across my back while pregnant for 10 Saturdays in the fall. The kids love it, so we do it and honestly it isn't that bad. But in the spring we will be starting t-ball. Of all the sports to choose from, baseball ranks the lowest. But come April I will be sitting in the grandstands on Sundays watching two t-ball games. *sigh*

But what really takes the cake is camping. I was able to get out of camping in October since I was 38-weeks pregnant. Boy am I glad I did. It rained and it was cold the entire weekend. I just can't imagine. I have difficulty sleeping in a hotel or the hospital. I can't imagine having to sleep outside on a thin mattress for several nights. But I won't have to imagine it. In July I will be going camping with the entire family, yes even with Ellie who will be 8 months old. We will be camping for 3 nights. THREE?!?!?! What on earth can we do for 4 days and 3 nights in the mountains without electricity or indoor plumbing? Oh, wait, I remember what the flyer said, more stuff I don't think I will particularly enjoy; hiking, kayaking, and finding firewood.

It seems that being a mom is really challenging in many ways. It is really broadening my horizons in a way I didn't expect. But honestly I wouldn't dream of missing out on these firsts with my kids. Stay tuned for my 'camping' post in mid-July . . . .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Don't Forget

‎"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died--you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift." --Elizabeth Edwards

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


As we were driving to school yesterday:
Alexander: Miss Mary, Miss Mary, Miss Mary, Miss Mary, Miss Mary
Me: What? I'm mommy.
Alexander: Joke (laugh)

Why are all the boys such comedians? Oh wait, they get it from their father who exclaims "Oh Deer" about Ellie's jammies that have reindeer on the feet.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

And So It Begins . . . .

I once heard a mother tell a child "Sorry, we can't go to the park today because it is closed." Caskey and I vowed then to always tell the children the truth about everything. Which is why when I was pregnant with Alexander we had to buy the baby book and explain the baby-tunnel. We have continued to tell the children the truth over the years, even when it wasn't nice and it might have been a little hurtful. We softened the blow as much as possible, but we taught our children to be honest above all other things.

But last night I outright lied to my son, Connor. He asked, "Is Santa real?" All I wanted to do was turn back the clock and perserve his innocence. Six-years-old is far too young to stop believing in the magic. Rather than actually lying to him I skirted around the truth. "Do you think mommy has enough money to buy you all that stuff?" His reply, "No, but I think grandma and other grown-ups sneak in at night and put the presents under the tree." *sigh* This guy is too smart for his own good. But I stuck to the party-line; Grandma and Mommy and Daddy can't afford all those gifts, so it must be Santa. I just want him to stay little a tiny-bit longer.

Friday, December 10, 2010



Little Miss Eleanor is part-owl. Whenever we put her in the papasan (Thanks, Cristina) to sleep she wiggles and grunts until she gets her head pointing at the celiing. Caskey will 'put her head back on correctly', but just as quickly she wiggles and grunts her way back into this position. He is worried her head is going to fall off.

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Peanut Brittle Birthday Cake


Its Papa's 60th Birthday and I know no better way to celebrate than to make a special birthday cake and dinner. Last year I made a super yummy chocolate peppermint cake for his 59th birthday. So I took this year as an opportunity to be adventurous. I asked my mother what his favorite flavor is and she told me Peanut Brittle. So I scoured the internet looking for a yummy Peanut Brittle Cake. I found a few different types with angel food cake or lady fingers. I settled on a mixture of a few recipes and my own ideas.

I started with a triple chocolate cake (a simple box mix and added some chocolate chips).

The frosting was the main event.
2 16 oz containers of ready-made vanilla frosting
1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter
Whipped the 2 ingredients in a bowl.

Top with
1 cup of finely crushed peanut brittle

The middle layer was simply the peanut butter frosting. Initially I was going to put crushed peanut brittle in the middle layer too. But in retrospect It would have been too sweet (although the extra crunch would have been a fun surprise). So I kept the crushed peanut brittle only for the topping.

My husband does not like sweets, but he loved this cake. As did the birthday-guy! I think I will mix peanut butter with frosting more often. It was super yummy.
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Chewelry - Product Review

I don't normally post about my children's uniqueness, but I am making an exception this time in case this can help someone else. William has always been very oral. He kept his bottle extra long, and his pacifier too. Even when we finally weaned him from the pacifier he just supplemented by putting his fingers in his mouth or toys. Over the year he continued to find ways to sooth himself orally; he chews on his clothes, coins, toothbrush, spoon, anything he can get his, um, mouth on.

At some point it we realized it wasn't doing any good to discourage him because he was putting things in his mouth that were unsafe. Instead it was better to give him something he could chew on. After talking to a few speech therapists and Autism experts we found Chewelry. We purchased him the green rectangular necklace. I knew we made the right decision when we gave it to him and he said "Thank You mommy!" He had the biggest smile on his face when he realized he could chew on it anytime he wanted.

I knew it was working when he would ask me where his necklace was and seek it out. The only problem with the necklace is that the 'string' part is not made to be chewed on. A few times when William did chew on it he chewed right through it. So I contacted the company and asked them if I could buy an extra string. The customer service representative was so nice that he sent out a new string and an extra necklace. We got it in the mail in just four days. I highly recommend their products and the Pediatric Supply company even more.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Leave Eleanor


Its been really amazing to see the new sibling dynamic in our house now that we have gone from four children to five. I thought for sure Alexander and William would be resentful. I expected a tad of jealousy from Lainy Ann. The reality has been far different and I don't think I could have predicted it.

William has adopted Eleanor as his own personal pet. He sings to her and checks up on her. I caught him laying on the floor with her the other day and I asked what he was doing. He said "I'm petting Ellie". Recently he and Lainy Ann got into a screaming match over what Eleanor's favorite song was.

Lainy Ann is loving having a sister too. She helps me pick out bows and outfits. They even share hair bows. She has had a few moments of uncertainty and has said "just because you spend more time with Eleanor doesn't mean you love her more, right" and "But I was your first princess, right?" We have been sure to reassure her of her place in our family as our oldest daughter.

Even Alexander has gotten into the action as an older brother. I expected him to mostly ignore Eleanor or regress, maybe even act out. Last night though my mother was holding Eleanor as she said goodbye to the kids. Alexander ran up to my mom and said, "no Eleanor leave". Apparently even he knows Eleanor's place in our family.

Adventures in Baby Clothing


When Lainy Ann was born we had no other friends with children. As a result Lainy Ann was spoiled rotten and got every stitch of clothing and baby gear brand-spanking-new. By the time Connor came around we had a handful of friends, some with boys (none with girls) so Connor started getting a few pieces of used baby clothing here and there. We got lots of comfy pants for that toddler age when he was interested in climbing and learning to run, some jammies too. It was really nice to save a bit of money on clothing. Then when William and Alexander came along the rule was hand-me-down clothing from brothers and the exception was new clothing.

Over the years I have had the priviledge of loaning out clothing as well. I have a few of my favorites that are never lent out, but most things get marked with a 'D' as I sort through them and given lovingly to our friends. I enjoy the process of lending children's clothing and baby gear to our friends. I enjoy sorting through the clothing with fond memories of when each child wore which outfit. I love seeing our friends wear the clothes and love them as much as we did.

But about 18 months ago I got it in my head that we wouldn't be having anymore children and if we did it would certainly be a boy. Just look at the statistics (before Eleanor). We had Lainy Ann, then 5 boys in 5 years. Really, the odds were against us. So I started sadly giving away baby girl clothing. I kept the clothes I couldn't bear to part with and with a heavy heart I gave away the first 2 years of baby girl clothing. I can't even remember who I gave it all to.

So imagine my surprise, and delight when we had another pink little girl in our home. I would be able to go shopping once again and spoil our little princess. But about 5 days after getting home from the hospital I started getting emails and phone calls of people who had boxes of girl clothing that I could have. I was on the receiving end of the clothing for a change. It was wonderful to go through boxes and boxes of tiny clothing to see which ones would fit the appropriate season. One of our most used pieces of clothing so far is a baby pink knit hat. I don't even know the girl or the mother who gave it to us. It is my mother-in-law's, friend's, daughter's friend. Did you follow that? I will likely never meet the previous owner of this hat, but it warms my heart knowing that they have shared their clothing and memories with us.

But the most surprising outfit I received is the one pictured above. It is a size 6 or 9 months so Eleanor doesn't fit it quite yet. It is an outfit that Lainy Ann wore 7 years ago, then it was lent out to 2 other girls; now ages 4 and 2 years old. And now its back for Ellie to wear. It has been washed so often that the tag is completely faded, all that is left is the 'D' I had marked on it 4+ years ago.

A close friend once told to me that she wondered what the story would be if a piece of clothing could talk and tell about its adventures through multiple different kids and families. You see, she regularly shares clothes with her sisters who live all over California and beyond; she has shared clothing with me as well. I agree with her. I would love to hear the story of this purple outfit or the pink hat or any number of other pieces of clothing we have made part of our lives and memories over the years.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Husband Left Me

The day Eleanor turned 18 days old Caskey returned to work. It was wonderful having him home and tag-teaming getting kids ready for school and into bed. It was glorious heading back to bed for a nap at 8:30 am while my husband took the kids to school. But I knew he was itching to get back to work. On Monday he headed into the office and I readied myself for a long day of child-wrangling and after school activities and bedtime. Imagine my surprise when my husband texted me at 1 pm and said, "I can go to San Francisco the rest of the week [for work], right?" I quickly scanned the calendar and while it was chock full of daily activities none of actually required his attendance. As a good wife should I replied, "sure, just tell me what time I should drop you at the airport."

I'm sure I should take it as a compliment that my husband felt confident enough in my parenting skills to leave me alone for a week with our 5 children; the newborn being less than 3-weeks old. We managed okay, if you don't count sleep deprivation and the kids skipping a few nights of baths. However, I was very, very happy when he got home and I celebrated with a nap.