The musings of ME:
SAH mother of 3 kids, spouse of a doctor-in-residency, caretaker and teacher of random children.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Very Blake Christmas 2011

This year Ben has to work on Christmas Day, so for the first time in the Blake family history, we did not spend Christmas in Tulsa with our families.  We opted to stay here and have a little family celebration in our house today, December 23, because Ben had all day off yesterday and didn't have to go to work until 6pm tonight. 

Our "weekend" started with Ben coming home from work around 4pm on Wednesday night (early, YAY!).  We made a family trip to the Azle Wal-mart to pick up the boys' big Santa present (which was covered up in the back of the Armada and they were watching The Polar Express on the DVD players, completely oblivious to what was behind them).  Then we dropped it off at home and went to Taste of Italy off of Boat Club Rd for dinner.  We had never been there, but Ben and I have an intense love for real Italian style cheese pizza, so we decided to test it out.  It was pretty good!

Our Christmas Eve day began with me heading up to Wal-mart with all 3 kiddos to do a little grocery shopping.  I left the house by 10am and was done by 11:30, and it was on Thursday the 22nd, so it wasn't too bad as far as crowds go, and my kiddos were pretty good, but if I ever have to take them all on major trips, I bribe them with check-out chips to share if they are good all through the store while we shop.  They rarely get chips, so this is a great bribe.  :)

Why did I take all 3 kids when Ben was home, you ask?  So he could sleep.  Yesterday was the ONLY day off he has had/will get for the entire month of December.  He works AT LEAST 12 hour shifts every day (once worked a 20 hour shift) and is on call every 4th day.  Anyway, he needed to catch up on his sleep.  He slept till noon, then took a nap at around 3pm.  He deserved it!

Later that night, we dined on fajitas and did a lesson out of our December daily Christmas lesson.  It was about why we see stars on the top of our trees and in decorations at Christmastime.  Then we read a scripture from Luke and sang We Three Kings.  After I got Sam in bed, Jackson and I put Christmas cookies and milk out for Santa.

Once we go the kids to sleep, Ben and I did the usual Christmas Eve work of wrapping a couple last minute presents, stuffings stockings and putting out Santa presents.  From Santa, the boys got a blue Ford F-150 Raptor Power Wheel and a cap gun set (not my idea) to share, Jackson got his Thor hammer he has been asking Santa for every time he sits on his lap (" know, Santa?  The one that Archer has...", Sam got an Optimus Prime Transformer and Ally got a mat/activity center to play with when she is laying on her back.

A tradition at our house that continued on from Ben's childhood is that on Christmas Eve we make a sheet maze for the boys to go through to get to the presents.  That way they can't see what Santa brought them right away, they have to go through the Christmas lights lighted maze to get to the tree to see their presents.  It adds to the excitement and suspense, and makes lean Christmases more fun (not that this year was a lean Christmas, but last year kind of was.)

On our Christmas morning, Sam was the first one up, as usual.  He came in our room at about 7am, and since everyone else was still asleep and he couldn't get downstairs because the gate at the top of the stairs was locked, I put a movie on for him.  Jackson woke up around 7:30, and forgetting it was Christmas (?!), he sat down to watch the movie with Sam.  When Ben and I heard them both up, we got up and led them downstairs to the maze.  (Ben ran ahead and turned on the lights and got the video camera, while I stayed behind to lead them through slowly.)  Note:  Ally slept last night from 8pm till 3 am, woke up for a total of 15 minutes to eat, burp and get a diaper change, then slept till 8:30am!  Saaaa-weeeet!!!

Santa left a note for the boys telling them that since they had been such good big brothers to their new sister, he had brought them a very special present, but they had to take good care of it and immediately start being good for NEXT Christmas!  They were in awe as I read it to them!  :)  They ripped off the bow and sheet and were in shock for a few seconds and then they scrambled to climb in the Raptor truck.  We had to unplug the battery because Jackson was trying to take off in it in the middle of the dining room!

Next we opened the other Santa presents and of course, there was excitement all around.  Superheroes and Transformers are the thing in our house this year, so no one was disappointed.  We then moved to open the presents from Mom and Dad.  Both boys got a new pair of PJs, a Superhero shirt (J got Captain America; S got Superman), a Superhero mask (J got Wolverine; S got Captain America), and a building starter set (S got a Trio set; J got his first real Lego set), then Sam got a foot high Captain America guy and a stuffed Mickey Mouse (He loves MM Clubhouse.), Jackson got a Lego Police car kit and a bucket of Army guys.  They each also got 2 movies (Cars 2, Bugs' Life, Monsters Inc, and Lion King) and Jackson got a new game for his MobiGo (which they really share).  In their stockings they got Superhero bubble bath, a few small Superhero action figures and a lot of candy.  They were two happy little boys!!

 After we opened presents, the boys and daddy went outside to drive the Raptor truck while I made blueberry pancakes and bacon and fed Ally (who had finally woken up).   Some of us couldn't stand to leave the toys for a second, so they joined us for breakfast.  (Normally this is against the rules,'s Christmas!!)
Next, Daddy played with Ally for a bit, while the boys played with their new toys and I cleaned up the kitchen. Then Sam so graciously offered to open Ally's gifts for her since she couldn't do it yet. hehe, I think he enjoyed the opening part more than the playing part! Although he was a little disappointed to open 2 boxes of rice cereal, diapers, wipes and an assortment of level 1 baby food. Not too exciting...I don't think he'd trade Ally. :)

 The best part was when Jackson and Ben sat down to put his Lego Police Car kit together. I'm not sure who enjoyed that father-son time more, J or Ben.
While they did that, Sam and I built a cool house with his Trio Set.  It had a garage door that lifted up and everything! (I didn't get a picture of that.)  We played with the car that came with the set and a Batman guy and car that we already had.  They went in and out of the house and then back out to fight bad guys over and over again!

The boys basically played upstairs with almost NO fighting all day.  Then we had a thrown together fairly last minute Christmas dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole and sugar cookies for dessert.  (I don't know why I hadn't thought to make a Christmas dinner ahead of time.  I guess I was just too busy doing all the Christmas shopping since I had to do it all by myself this year.)  I was lucky I had a frozen Jennie-O turkey breast in my freezer that could go straight in the oven and be done in a hour and a half!

We were sad when Ben had to go back to work, and we won't see him much tomorrow since he'll need to sleep, but we will wait for him to get home from work on Christmas Day and then go out to Aunt Sara's for Christmas dinner and to play with Keagan and Levi (my cousin's boys, age 5 and 3).  Then my family will be coming to Allen on the 27th.  Our plan is to have another huge extended family dinner at my Grandmother Pat's house, then Meg and her girls and me and my kiddos will drive to Celina (N of Frisco) to spend the night at my Aunt Sara's.  All the boys (sans Ben and Chris, my cousin) are going hunting in East Texas on our land so we will have overnight girl time and the kids (Keagan, Levi, Addy, Ella, Jackson and Samson - all between ages of 2.5 to 6.5) will all get to play.  This works out perfectly since the 27th is the next day Ben is on call and will be at the hospital overnight and sleeping all day the 28th.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kindness Coins

One of my goals with my kids is for them to be nicer to each other.  To stop making snarky remarks to each other like, "I am not your friend" or "I don't like you, Sam." or "You're just a baby."  To change the tone of voice they use when they talk to each other.  To share, even when you don't want to.  To respect each other's belongings.  To respect each other's wishes (especially when someone is asking the other to STOP).  To generally have a more peaceful, loving home.

I also want them to think about others.  Does anyone around you need help?  Help them!  Will that comment or action hurt someone's feelings?  Don't say/do it!  Do you like someone's shoes or shirt?  Tell them!  Is someone sad?  Comfort them!

To encourage moments to exercise these beahviors, I am giving my kids "Kindess Coins" every time I catch them being particularly kind.  We will keep them in a Mason Jar in the kitchen, and they can use them to buy special treats or privileges on Sunday.  Of course the end goal is for them to be kind just because, but in the meantime, a little incentive for recognizing opportunites and practicing won't hurt, right?  (Because yelling at them and punishing them is NOT a great example of kindness and it certainly does NOT promote peace in our home.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sam, 2.5

Tonight Sam pooped in the potty for the first time!  Like a real full-size poop.  I was so excited!!  I'm hoping this means we won't go down the major fear of pooping road that Jackson went down.  Jack wasn't poop-trained until this summer when he was just a month away from being 4!  And even now, we still have to keep a close eye on Jackson.  He'll hold it in for a few days and then really get constipated and be afraid to finally let it out because it hurts a little.

As far as potty training goes, I really haven't pushed it much with Sam.  We tried it out this summer, he didn't seem interested, so we abandoned it.  Then a few months ago, he started asking to wear underwear, so we did for a short period of time during the day, then we'd go longer and longer periods of time.  He still has accidents from time to time, but mostly he has the control thing down.  His weakness is stopping play when he has the urge to go.  He'll go potty if I tell him to, but if I forget and it has been too long, a lot of times he'll have an accident unless something reminds him he needs to go.  But we have gone out to run errands for hours several times with Sam in underwear and he hasn't had an accident.  And now, he pooped!  Yeah!  I think we are getting closer to having 2 out of 3 of our kids out of diapers! WHEW!  Maybe one of them will get to go to college after all!  ;)

Sam always surprises me with the things he understand and says.  He very rarely seems only 2 to me.  He plays with older kids a lot and they enjoy playing with him.  He gets his feelings hurt when he gets left out because someone assumes he isn't mature enough to do what the big kids are doing.  He has a very big vocabulary and not only talks, but makes jokes and expresses his likes, dislikes, things he notices, and asks me insightful questions a lot. 

Just a few months ago, he was a stubborn toddler, but now he is my sweet and helpful almost-preschooler.  He wants to do so much for himself and so much to help me all the time.  He can dress himself (with a little help with the shirt, socks and one or two pairs of his shoes).  He can strap himself into his own carseat.  He helps me with the dishes and unloading the clothes from the dryer.  He can get his own juice out of the fridge, and brush his own teeth.  He also knows the alphabet, can recognize many letters, and can count past 20!  He loves to color, so I hope his fine motor skills will be well developed when I start to sit down and work with him on paper soon.  Recently I realized I didn't need to continue getting him out of the bathtub, drying him of and dressing him.  He can do all that by himself now! This makes the bathtime/bedtime routine so much easier!!  He is also such a big help with his sister!  (See the Ally - 2 mos post a few posts ago.)

For a child who used to be the biggest daily trial for me, he is now one of my biggest sources of pride and joy.  Oh he still has his moments, don't get me wrong. He is still a fairly stubborn eater.  He still screams bloody murder when he gets frustrated or mad at his brother instead of using big boy words and asking for help, and he still craves a LOT of attention, but overall, I am so pleased with how far his behavior and demeanor has come in the last 6-9 months.  We love you, Sam!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Flip-Floppers, AKA the Always-Immediately-Change-Their-Minders

When I was a little girl I loved this book!!  Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle knows everything about children! She can cure them of any ailment. Patsy hates baths. Hubert never puts anything away. Allen eats v-e-r-y slowly. Mrs Piggle-Wiggle has a treatment for all of them. The incomparable Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle loves children good or bad and never scolds but has positive cures for Answer-Backers, Never-Want-to-Go-to-Bedders, and other boys and girls with strange habits.  Well, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, I'd like to read the chapter on how you treat the Flip-Floppers!  Let me describe the problem for you...
Scene:  Samson at bedtime. 
Me:  Sam, what bedtime song do you want to sing?
Sam:  Uhhhm...Choose da Right.
Me:  (singing)  Choose the right, when a choice is placed before you...
Sam:  (interrupting)  No, Mama!  I don't want  Choose da Right, I want I am a Child of God.
Me:  No, you already picked Choose the Right and I already started singing
Sam:  NOOOOOO!  I don't WANT Choose da Right!!!
(...and the bedtime routine takes forever because the little stinker continues to throw a fit about the song.)

Scene:  Jackson at snacktime
Me:  Jackson, do you want an orange?
Jackson:  No, I want fruit snacks.
Me:  Fruit snacks are not for snack today.  Do you want an orange or nothing?
Jackson:  Nothing.
Me:  Okay, but you will be hungry and won't get any more food till dinnertime.
(I walk away.  5 minutes later, when I am sitting down feeding the baby...)
Jackson:  Mama, I DO want an orange.
Me:  Sorry, son, snacktime is over now. I asked you if you wanted an orange, and you were mad that I wouldn't give you fruit snacks, so you picked nothing.  Now I am doing something else and I am not close to the fridge.  It's too late to change your mind now.
(a 45 minute temper tantrum ensues and JUST when I think it is finally over, Jackson comes downstairs and asks me for an orange again.)
Me:  !!!!!

Please, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, if you are out there, I am eagerly awaiting your antidote for this annoying disease my boys have contracted.  I trust in your wisdom!

P.S. I did not give in on either account.  No new song for Sam and no orange for Jackson.  And both were punished for the fit they each threw.  I'm sick of this!

Ally - 2 mos

This Tuesday Ally turned 2 mos old.  I thought I'd briefly document what she is doing these days.

She loves to smile, and a few times she has even gotten so caught up in the smiling and trying to talk, that a happy little squeal slipped out. 

She eats on avg 4 oz of breastmilk every 3-4 hours.  Sometimes I get lucky at night and she goes up to 5 or 6 hours without eating, but that is rare. 

She can hold her head up pretty well.  We have put her in the Bumbo seat a few times, but she doesn't like it much.  What she LOVES is her swing.  She would happily spend all day in her swing, sleeping or looking at her reflection in the mobile above her. 

She doesn't like tummy time much yet, I suppose because she feels trapped and there isn't much to do when you can barely hold your head up, and only for short periods.  Most of the time she ends up with her face in a wet puddle of spit up.  I can't say as I blame her on that one. 

Her brothers love her, especially Sam.  I am really surprised at that because I thought he'd be jealous.  He is very sweet to her.  When she cries, he rushes to comfort her.  Today she got her 2 month shots and he raced to her side to tell it was okay the minute she started crying.  He is also a very good helper when it comes to Ally.  He'll get bottles out of hte fridge for me, grab her pacifier, put diapers in teh trash, etc.  He is a gret big brother.  Jackson is good, too, but most of the time he is pretty oblivious that we even have a new baby in the house.  He is very caught up in his big-boy activities and preschool friends these days.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Attachment Issues

Tonight I was cleaning up Ally's room.  She doesn't sleep in it yet.  She still sleeps in our room in her vibrating seat (don't judge - she loves it and she sleeps!!)  since she still wakes up in the night to eat.  Just easier. Probably once she starts rice cereal in a couple of months, she'll start sleeping through the night and then she'll go in her own room.

Anyway, I was putting away some boxes of the boys' outgrown clothes that I had stored in there until I could get to them, and I just got so sad!  Does anyone else have issues with boxing up their children's outgrown clothes? I sort through them and remember the stages of their lives and the fun times I remember them wearing those clothes in, and suddenly boxing up old clothes feels so wrong!  Like I am trapping a little piece of their childhood, and I will never get it back. 

And don't even get me started on taking them to a consignment store!  To have some snooty lady pick through them and then tell me my son's clothes aren't good enough and they can't take them.  It'd be like her telling me my child wasn't cool enough or something.  The clothing equivalent to not getting into some elite private school.  Ouch.  I don't think I could do it!

I know I am personalizing this, and it is silly.  Someone please tell me you feel the same way...or I may be forced to seek therapy.  ;)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Post-Baby Weight Loss, Round 3

This is the part I hate.  Food is my treat when I am pregnant.  I figure if I have to be miserable for 9 mos, I should at least get to enjoy eating whatever I want whenever I want.  So I do.  With Jackson I gained about 50 lbs.  With Sam 40.  With Ally 35.  Of course I lost about 15-20 right after having her, which means right now I weigh about 163.  And I have since she was 2 weeks old.  Not a lb lost since.

I had such a speedy recovery after having Ally, that I felt well enough to do light workouts since she was about 2-3 weeks old.  I started with just 15 minutes a day on my elliptical and lengthened it each week.  At 6 weeks, I started lifting weights and changed my diet.  Tomorrow she will 8 weeks old and this is what I do now.

  • full body weights 3x a week, including leg lefts and crunches on the ball and 25 squats and 50 lunges for each leg
  • 25-40 minutes on the elliptical every day
  • 2 mile run 2x a week
  • 30 min-1 hour of Pilates or Kickboxing every week
  • salad to replace one meal every day and a healthy, low-calorie, high-fiber breakfast (with a Diet Coke, lol)

Two days ago I finally lost a lb.  It is such a fight to lose weight, and it gets harder as you get older.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chicken Crescent Wreath

The concept of the crescent wreath is not new, but it is new to me.  I have never attempted one because it looks so pretty, I thought, it must be complicated.  But I was perusing my Taste of Home annual Cookbooks, specifically the 2000 issue, looking for new recipes because my rotation is getting kind of boring, and I came across this recipe.  Whether it was the tantalizing picture to the left of the recipe or the short, sweet and to the point recipe itself, something made me want to try it.  We did, and we all liked it.  Even Sam. Who eats dinner about 3 out of 7 nights of the week.  I am sharing because not only was it super easy, super quick, and really yummy, but it has a lot of fresh veggies in it, and they are hidden by the cheesy, chickeny, bready goodness, so I tricked my kids into eating something somewhat healthy!  Score!!

Chicken Crescent Wreath, pg 267 TOH 2000 Annual Recipes
2 tubes (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Co-Jack cheese
2/3 cup condensed creamof chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup chopped fresh broccoli
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/4 cup chopped water chestnuts
1 can (5 oz) white chicken, drained OR
3/4 cup cubed cooked chicken
2 tbsp chopped onion

Arrange the crescent rolls on a 12-in pizza pan, (I used my Pampered Chef pizza stone) forming a ring with pointed ends facingthe outer edge of the pan and wide ends overlapping.  Combine the remaining ingredients; spoon over wide ends of rolls.  Fold points over filling and tuck under wide ends (filling will be visible).  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Yield:  6-8 servings

My note:  I receommend using a good brand of crescent roll dough.  I bought the Great Value brand, and the flaky goodness just wasn't the same.  I also used canned chicken because I was in a hurry, but I think it would be much better if you used fresh cooked cubed chicken breasts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Staller

Do you have one of these children in your home? The child who, when you ask him to do something, finds everything else interesting on the way?

I just love my 4-year-old, Jackson. He is smart. He is funny. He is kind. But this boy is S-L-O-W to get anything done. Part of this is that he gets very easily distracted. But recently, he has discovered that he can buy himself time if he pretends he doesn't hear me or flat out ignores me until I MAKE him do what I asked. When I finally do get him to acknowledge that I have asked him to say, pick up his toys in the playroom, he'll appease me by picking up a toy or two until I stop focusing on him and move on to my next task, and then he'll find an extremely interesting piece of fuzz on the carpet or a great book he's been meaning to read. A half hour will pass, and I'll find him completely engaged in a full battle with his action figures, more toys on the floor than when I left him. Note: this problem gets worse if naptime or another undesirable activity is due to follow.

As a person who is very task oriented, I find this immensely frustrating! So I'll get angry, and break down the task, barking direct orders such as, "Pick up the Spiderman guy. Put him in the bucket. Now pick up the Ironman guy. Put him in the bucket." I'll stand over him until the entire task is complete and we are both irritated with each other.

I so don't want to be this mom, and *with a new baby and an active 2 year old* don't have time to be, but how do I ensure that what I ask gets done without having to monitor the entire operation?