Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Boys vs. Girls

At 6 months Austin could sit up and scoot around the house on his belly. When he was a little over one he could climb up on any of the furniture (regretfully). Just before his 2nd birthday he scaled the rockwall on his swingset. At 3.5, he picks up a crayon like it's a foreign object he has NEVER seen before.

This is sad for me because if I were forced to choose one children's activity to do for hours on end, coloring would be my choice. I have tried time and time again to get him to sit and color with me but he would much rather pretend the crayons are trains than actually use them to scribble on paper.

Enter Ellie. She's a natural. She can't get on the couch yet by herself (not because she hasn't tried...there's nothing she'd like more than to leap off the couch like her older brother), but that girl can color! I have been working with Austin for the last month or so on the correct way to hold a crayon, pencil, pen, fork, etc. This is what I get:

In that last photo he is literally saying "Huh?" when I asked him to hold it the way I showed him.
Ellie, on the other hand:

I didn't even show her, it's just the way she prefers to hold it. Austin starts preschool next year. Guess what the girls and I will be doing while he's away?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sinkers and Floaters

My family has affectionately referred to me as a nerd for quite some time. I'll admit it too, while the majority of my family is great with the business end of things, I've always enjoyed the science side. As I try to get through these winter days and wonder how many more times I can reenact the same scenes from Scooby-Do over and over with Austin before I go crazy I decided I needed to start planning activities that are going to be interesting for everybody...myself included. I decided we were going to do some experiments. Knowing how much my kids enjoy bath time I thought something with water would be a good place to start.
Today, we walked around the house and grabbed toys that were water-safe. Then I filled a plastic bin with water and we took one toy at a time and tried to guess if it was going to sink or float when it was dropped in the water. Austin guessed almost all of them correctly. When I asked Ellie what she thought would happen, she would put her finger on her chin in deep contemplation and say "hmmmmmm....". She never did give us an answer. Here's our toys:
When I asked Austin what that little wooden guy with the green shirt was going to do (sink or float?) he gave a detailed and accurate hypothesis: "He is going to do a back float!"
I tried a tiny bit to make it educational and talk about why different things were sinking and others floating, but I didn't try too hard. The kids recognized it for what it really was. For Austin "Bones" Runchey, it was an opportunity to strip off his clothes.
For Ellie, a chance to completely drench her clothes, with a smile.
And really, just a tub of water to play in!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Yellow Snow

As a stay at home mom, I struggle with winter. I dislike how long it takes me to get out of the house because I have to put so much gear on everyone. I get frustrated with wet shoes bringing dirt all over the place. Most of all, I can't stand being cooped up in the house. However, when you live in a climate that celebrates winter with below zero wind chills on a daily basis (or so it seems) there aren't many options for getting outside with small children.

If you were to take my kids out of the equation, I might even admit to liking winter. I downhill ski, I dabble with cross-country skiing, I can glide around on skates if need be. Even if my kids were older, I wouldn't mind making a snowman, going sledding, etc. But right now, I struggle.

Therefore, I made it my goal yesterday to think of something fun we could do with these snowy days when it is too cold to go outside. I was thinking back to things I did growing up. Unfortunately most of my memories just take me back to building forts and snowball fights. But, I did remember something we did in science class once. I remember it involved pouring maple syrup in the snow and then getting it later and it was like taffy. So that is what the kids and I did before lunch in hopes of having an after lunch treat.

Working off a 17 year old memory, I just poured the maple syrup in the snow and that was that.

However, that was not "that". The maple syrup did not harden into taffy, or I am not patient enough. Probably a bit of both. What we ended up with was more of a maple syrup snow cone.

But, Austin seemed to enjoy it still. Enough to lick it off the table. What kid doesn't enjoy eating snow? And yes, I was sure to clarify that not all yellow snow tastes like candy.

Incidentally, if you would like to try this at home, a quick Google search revealed you have to boil the pure maple syrup first until it reaches "soft ball" stage. Then pour it in very compact snow. (Not fluffy snow that will sink right down to your deck). That should work.
In the mean time, anyone have any other suggestions on what I can do to embrace this weather with 3 little kids/babies?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tracy Day 2009

One summer day, in between my sophomore and junior year of college, my friends and I were lounging around and I mentioned how I wouldn't be hanging out with them the next day because it was "Tracy Day". This raised some questions as to what exactly was "Tracy Day". I explained to them it was just that. My day. I made the itinerary and my mom and I spent the day together shopping, going out to lunch, etc. Everyone was immediately jealous and declared certain days of that summer their day. It actually was quite fun and we did some interesting things we probably wouldn't have thought to do otherwise. Twins games, cliff jumping, making pottery...whatever each friend wanted to do on their day. Why am I telling you this? Because I just celebrated Tracy Day 2009! It was yesterday.

Tracy Day has taken on a new twist. Rob has known of this mysterious holiday since we met and he has done a great job of keeping up with the tradition. Sometimes more than once a year! He has also added the element of surprise to it which brings me to last Thursday. Rob came home with flowers and a card for me. When I opened the card I got the best surprise ever. He had planned out a whole day for me.
  • 8am - Kerry picks me up to go skiing
  • 8:10 - we stop for my favorite coffee (gift card included)
  • 9am - 3pm skiing (with a break for lunch)
  • 5:15pm - a facial at the spa
  • 8:15pm - my mom comes to babysit and we go out for dinner

I had a great day to say the least!!! Kerry and I were among the first at Afton for the day and were a little leery of the freshly groomed ice (er, I mean snow). We got used to it and I am pretty sure we went down every run they had. We even managed to get just a little lost on our way back to the car.

My facial was fantastic and I walked away feeling fairly rejuvenated. Once the kids were in bed we snuck out as my mom snuck in. We didn't fool Austin who heard the garage door open but Grandma eased his concerns and he went back to sleep. Rob and I just headed out for appetizers and a light bite. A perfect ending to my day. I'm fairly confident I have the best husband ever. He sets the bar pretty high.

Now it's time for all of you to pull out the calendars and declare your day. Or better yet, declare one for someone else and surprise them!

Friday, January 9, 2009

To the Moon!

At Playworks today Austin told me he went on a "bear hunt". I'm not exactly sure what this involved but when we got home he wanted to go on another adventure. We tossed around a few ideas. We could look for dinosaurs in the basement, pretend we're Aladdin and his friends in the Cave of Wonders, or pretend we were fish and he was a shark. Then we tested out all of these ideas for awhile but what we settled on was going to the moon. The kids made some moon hats. Not a completely original idea because we have a movie where a little bear pretends to go to the moon and puts a colander on his head for his moon hat. But, I think the moon hat accessories (wooden spoons) might have been their creation (I'm not sure, I haven't watched that movie in a long time).

Ellie thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and brought me her hat and said "On on on on on" while she handed me two spoons to put on it. Then she ran around the kitchen island with a spatula yelling "Moon! Moon! Moon!" Austin took his moon hat and the remaining kitchen utensils and a few pans behind the chair. Eventually our adventure had to end because my astronauts got hungry. We settled on PB&Js because all of my other kitchenware was left on the moon.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Time for Riley

It's been awhile since Riley has had a feature on the blog. Her brother and sister spend so much time perfecting their circus routine that she ends up hanging out on the sidelines enjoying the show. Today is her day though.
Riley has become a fairly happy baby now! Thank God! It's easy to coax a smile out of her and she even has a hardy giggle if you are willing to work a little bit. She has been sleeping through the night for quite awhile, but her routine goes a bit like this:
  • Wake up around 7am. She's the last one up so she spends her morning greeting everyone.

  • Tummy time until she can't take it any longer (she's getting better).

  • Eat at 8:30am

  • Nap at 9:30am

  • Play

  • Eat at 11:30 plus more tummy time

  • Nap with the other two from 1-4pm (this is my 3 hours of heaven)

  • Eat at 4:30

  • Eat at 7pm

  • Sleep at 8pm

Not a bad life. In the mix she likes to dazzle us with her goofy grins. She has also rolled from her stomach to back 5 times but it definitely doesn't come easy yet. And just today, I noticed that her 2 bottom teeth are about to poke through. Well, to say I noticed it is an exaggeration. But, once the teacher at Playworks pointed it out, I was quick to pick up on it. I guess being the ringleader of this circus hasn't left me much time to check on the condition of Riley's gums.