Fly on the Wall – Newbie Edition

Welcome to a Fly on the Wall group post.  As mentioned in my title, I’m a newbie at doing this group post.  I first came across it by following the entertaining posts from The Sadder But Wiser Girl.   Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you’d see if you were a fly on the wall in our homes. Come on in and buzz around my house.

fly-on-the-wall

First things first – a brief introduction to my dear family:

  • Me – (Cathy) or Mama O. – Mom / part-time Marketing guru
  • Daddy O. – my dear enginerd
  • Big Sister – 4 years old with some diva-like qualities
  • Little Brother – 2.5 years old, talkative train lover

For a visual, here’s one of my favorite family pictures from May 2013.

Big sister, Mama O, Daddy O, and Little Brother

The best family picture we’ve had in a LONG time!

On Toys / Keeping Track of Things

Me to Daddy O., “I wish we didn’t lose that wooden tongs for the toaster.”

Daddy O. – “And our marbles too.”  Ha ha.  We LITERALLY lost the marbles for the recently received Mouse Trap game.

Sibling Love / Randomness

Little Sister professes, “Mom, I want to marry my brother.”  To which I reply, “Well, I think you’ll change your mind about that when you get older.”  She was insistent, “NO, I do want to marry him.”  We went back and forth on this for sometime.  Isn’t that sweet though?

Big sister randomly, “Remember I am a Ma’am.” Yes, ma’am!

Upon learning to ride her new bike with training wheels, big sister declares, “You can’t laugh when you’re riding a bike.”  Good advice…and later she adds, “…or you can’t clap (when riding a bike).”

Big Sister exclaimed, “Mom, look there’s a spider on your head,” pauses for a short second, “April Fool’s.”  Me in reply, “You got me! Good one.”  A few minutes later she adds, “God and Jesus made April Fool’s.” Okay then.

Little Brother has frequently told me, “I want to be in a boy dance class with a boy teacher.”  He assumes this will be the case since he see his sister in an all girl dance class with a girl teacher.  Here they are after her dance class together:

My Ballerina Diva and her little brother "photo-bombing" her pic

My Ballerina Diva and her little brother “photo-bombing” her pic

An early morning conversation with little brother

“Mom, what’s that on your face?”

I explain, “a zit.”

“What’s a zit?”  (Hearing a 2 year old say that is really cute)

Realizing I need to elaborate, “It’s something people can get when they’re older.”

Little brother goes on, “When I’m three I’ll get a zit.”

“No, honey, older than three. When you’re a teenager.”

Little brother, “4?”

Me, understanding that teenager means nothing to him, “No.”

Little brother summing it up, “Somebody gets a zit and somebody cries.”

Me, “Sure.”  Sounds about right.

Daddy O. and Big Sister at Dinner

“Daddy, my mouth is like a vacuum!”

Daddy egging her on, “Oh so you’re sucking up food?”

Me, 5 minutes later, “What happened to your vacuum sweetie?  Where is it?”

Big sister explains, “It ran to Arizona.”  Obviously.

Offering a suggestion, I say, “You need a replacement vacuum or please eat with your regular old mouth.”

Big sister, “Vacuum!”  (and eating)

Me, “It came back from Arizona?!”

Big sister answers, “Yup, it zipped back; ran away from a coyote.”

A Regular Day in Little Brother’s Room

I tried turning on an old lamp that I didn’t want turned on and said, “Oh no, it’s broken.”  (actually it was unplugged).  Little brother offered, “It’s out of gas.”  Big sister butts in, “Lamps don’t use gas. They use electricity silly.”  Smarty pants!

On Name Calling / Misusing Words

Somehow Little Brother learned naughty names and called me “butthead” three times in one week.

Big sister said she had a “knick knack name” from a friend at school.

Big sister rather sternly to little brother, “You’re lying!”  Little brother adamantly screams, “I’m not a lion.”

As I’m reading an Elephant and Piggie book with Little Brother, he says, “He’s blowing water from his funnel.”  I explain, “Well, that’s a trunk on the elephant, not a funnel.  Do you have train on the brain?”  He just giggles!

Mama O. reading to a whole crowd on a play date.

Mama O. reading to a whole crowd on a play date.

Just between Moms

On a recent road trip and day of shopping with friends, we drove in my friend’s vehicle to pick up other mom-friends.  As they came to the vehicle, one said in all honesty, “Nice minivan.”  I cracked up, “Oh how our compliments have changed through the years.  We ARE Moms.”

Closing Thoughts

Upon shedding layers to finally enjoy Spring after such a brutal Wisconsin Winter, I felt some type of toy in my daughter’s lightweight jacket pocket.  I reached in to see what treasure lie in the pocket, and happily shared with my husband, “The marbles!  We’re not losing them after all.”

Cheers to keeping your marbles!  Read more fun Fly on the Wall posts by clicking on these links for a peek into some other homes:

 

Happy #NationalSiblingsDay – Love ya sis #TBT

I have A LOT of pictures on my blog of my kids, and I truly love seeing them grow up as brother and sister.  They are best buds, well most of the time when someone isn’t taking a toy away or wrestling the other!

It reminds me of my own childhood, growing up with my sister.  We had our phases of teasing, name-calling (buttwipe and poopstain were favorites), reading my older sister’s diary, pulling pranks (mostly on gullible me), and pinning one another down to spit on the other’s face. Later on in high school we came to appreciate each other more as we shared clothes!  It was when my big sister moved away to college that we really grew close.

As she so often reminds me, she paved the way for me and made my life easier.  She “broke-in” Mom and Dad and headed to the big city of Madison for college, where I later followed and became her roommate my sophomore year. We grew closer through the years, becoming best friends who understand each other in ways outsiders cannot. We can also be so very honest with each other (in a way only family can do) and help each other through whatever life brings – marriage, kids, sickness, happiness, etc.

I came across these oldie, but goodie pictures from 2005.  Like good friends do, we asked each other if we had anything in our teeth in the top picture.  Satisfied that we were okay, we smiled for the picture below.

2005 shot - Checking to make sure our smiles are food-free.

I love my sister! 2005 shot – Checking to make sure our smiles are food-free.

I can’t imagine my life without her and her lovely family.  We are fortunate to live close by and frequently have play dates with our energetic and fun kids, all aged 2.5 – almost 6.  Love ya sis!  See ya soon!

Tales of a Four Year Old Diva Ballerina

As I mentioned in an earlier post – On Becoming a Dance Mom – dance is a new thing for my family.  Now that we’ve had two class sessions it’s been a series of trial and error on how to best arrive on-time to dance class and keep my daughter in class for the entire forty-five minutes. I THINK we finally figured out our best routine – at LAST!

I guess you could say that my daughter is a Four Year Old Diva Ballerina.  Here are a few of her distinct qualities:

Diva Quality One – It’s ALL about ME. (Wait – don’t all kids think this?!)

She has a different, much slower concept of time, especially in the morning, which doesn’t coincide with actual, real world time.  She cannot move quickly while getting ready. Breakfast must be consumed at her own pace.  She often gets distracted in the morning, and I need to find different ways to keep things moving along.  It can be a struggle getting out the door to put it mildly!

Diva Quality Two – Conditions MUST be perfect for optimum performance.

“Don’t pull my hair!” To which I respond, “I know honey. I am not trying to hurt you. I will give you a low ponytail.”  By the end of class today, her ponytail was taken out entirely. I’m glad the teacher doesn’t care!

“My legs hurt.”  This complaint was debuted before she went to her first dance class. I haven’t heard it in awhile, so maybe the growth spurt has since passed.

“I have a headache and my stomach hurts too.”  She tossed this one out at me as I buckled her into her car seat last week. While she had a crabby look on her face, I didn’t buy it, so onto class we went.

“I’m hot.”  Apparently the room IS hot where the girls dance.  This can cause her skin to itch.

“I have the itchies.”  We apply generous amounts of lotion prior to getting dressed to make sure her skin is adequately moisturized in this dry, winter weather.  Sometimes this does the trick.  Last week the itchies re-appeared even after putting on lotion due to a costume issue (read on).

When we have NOT prepared for dry skin issues, and I’m watching the class, she’s come out early because her skin is bothering her. As I once played in the gym with my son during her class, we came back to find her standing in one spot in class with a pouty, crabby expression.  Naturally, I let her come to me to see what was wrong, and it was the itchies. Sigh.

Diva Quality Three – Some Costumes and Shoes WILL. NOT. DO.

“Cut out the tag.  The (cut-out) tag (piece that still remains) is itching me.  I need a band-aid.” Next leotard.  Fortunately that was okay – a good thing since we only have two.

My shoes are pinching me (when worn without tights).  One week I tried having her wear leggings instead of tights to see if that would be more comfortable and prevent some of the “itchies.”  This just caused her ballet shoes to rub on her bare skin, so she left class early again! Sigh.

Diva Quality Four – Love your Audience

She covers me with kisses on both cheeks and even the lips when she leaves for dance class.  When finished, I’m greeted with smiles and a big hug, and sometimes MORE kisses.  Here are some pictures I took after one class of my happy little ballerina:

My Ballerina Diva and her little brother "photo-bombing" her pic

My Diva Ballerina and her little brother “photo-bombing” her pic

Dance Mama O.’s Closing Thoughts

Through trial and error of attending dance classes at our local YMCA, I have realized that I need to leave the viewing area during class to ensure she’ll stay in class for the ENTIRE TIME. This means two things:

  1. I get in a workout on a machine, while my daughter learns some new ballet moves. (win – win)
  2. I don’t get to see all of this cuteness during class.

Ballet class has been a good learning experience for both of us these past few months.  Yet, I’m not jumping at the next opportunity to sign her up again because this is a beginner dance class for ages 3 – 5 that basically repeats the same thing each session.  Nor am I searching for a more structured dance studio for her to further develop as a dancer.  After all, she’s only four…giving her plenty of time to figure our what activities she really enjoys. I’m hoping we can downplay the “diva” and just break out our dance moves at home for awhile.

Has anyone else dealt with diva-like and general poky behavior getting out the door in the morning?  Any advice along those lines is welcome!

Reading Machines – 1000 Books Before Kindergarten

“Read me a story,” my two year old says throughout the day in his sweet irresistible voice. I love that he and my four year old daughter are in love with reading together or can simply occupy themselves by paging through books (for awhile anyway).  It’s one go-to-activity that I pull out to calm everyone down.  Plus, when my daughter is too wound up to sleep, we can tell her to go to her room to look at books by herself, which she’ll gladly do.  Downstairs we’ll hear the occasional clunk as she finishes a book and drops it to the floor. These frequent reading requests and “clunks” are happy noises for parents.

We have some book loving, reading machines in our house.

Naturally our local library’s challenge – 1000 Books Before Kindergarten – was a good fit for me and my kids. It’s a nationwide program with MANY libraries participating. Check out their website to see if it’s offered near you.   It’s basically a program to record every book that is read to your children – at home, school, babysitter’s, storytime – whenever and however many times they hear it, so YES, if you read a story five times in a row, you can write down that same book five times.  The library makes it easy on parents to fill out the reading logs.  There are recommended authors and literacy tips to accompany the reading log and program materials.

1000 books before Kindergarten

Snapshot of my daughter’s reading log

Plus there are incentives at varying levels – bookmarks, book labels (“this book belongs to” sort of thing), and a few free books. Our library received a grant to give a free book after 300 stories are read in addition to other levels.

1000 books SOUNDS like a lot, but it breaks down to reading 3 books a day to your child to hit the 1000 mark in one year.

I’m a fan (if you can’t tell already). As an organized, overachiever type, I get satisfaction writing down the books read and filling up spaces on the log.  It’s a nice record of something small we accomplished that day and can help us remember our favorite stories and authors.

It’s a good program for libraries too, as it encourages more frequent visits to check out more books and obtain the next set of reading log pages.  No, they wisely do not handout all pages at once.

Here are some of my favorite pictures of my kids during storytime:

reading to our kids

Sometimes it’s fun to listen while in a storage ottoman!

Mama O. reading to a whole crowd on a play date.

Mama O. reading to a whole crowd on a play date.

Reading Car & Driver Magazine together

Daddy O. and Little Brother reading Car & Driver magazine. The headline is Corvette Goes Topless!

Some of our recent favorite reads typically involve trains, dinosaurs, princess stories, or animals. Here a few we’ve recently enjoyed:

Related Posts:

5 Favorite Kid’s Books – so Good You’ll Cry

Books Your Child Should Hear Before Kindergarten (1000 Books before Kindergarten site)

Book Lists from Turtle & Robot

What are your favorite children’s books?  What do you think about the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten Program?

 

Random Thoughts on Life AC (After Children)

The lack of naps today is really cramping my style – specifically my desire to blog and be on the computer uninterrupted. Given my circumstances, this is the best, quick, random post that I can offer today.  It’s been hanging out in my drafts for sometime, so I figured I’d just let it free.

After countless diaper changes, blow-outs, leaks, wipes and smells, I HAVE NO DESIRE to play with BROWN PlayDoh.  Please discontinue this color, or make it go missing in my house.

I am pretty much immune to all bodily fluids having successfully potty trained one child, getting spit up on, puked on, peed & pooped on.  It can all be cleaned up!

It is so nice to just go into a store by yourself – no one else to get out of car seats, haul in the store, or coerce back into the car.  Being alone is so easy now, and I enjoy it….for awhile until I start missing my family!

When my kids fall asleep in the car, and I have errands to run, I would LOVE to have a drive thru for Target and the grocery store.  I could just hand over my list to a friendly store associate, and he or she could quickly run around the store, gather my things, and return with a portable charge card thing-a-ma-bob, so I could pay when they delivered everything to my car.  My kids would continue to sleep peacefully through all of this.  A true win-win!

Am I ADD? Is being around my children shortening MY attention span, as I watch them go from one thing to the next?

I never realized how LONG it can take to get three people ready (myself included) and out the door, dressed in full winter gear, fed, teeth brushed, bag packed for our outing.  Today we went swimming and it took FOREVER to leave our house and the locker room – possibly longer than we even swam! Ugh…

I have no patience for an adult being late (without having any kids to distract you).  C’mon adults, it’s called planning and time management!

I appreciate the little things more – a dinner without milk getting spilled all over the floor, kids putting away their dishes in the dishwasher without too much prodding, quality sleep night after night, fewer timeouts.  This parenting thing CAN and IS getting easier at times, and we celebrate the successes as a family!

Times When You Can’t Find the Right Words

I’ve been blogging a little less (which isn’t saying a lot, as I’m far from a daily blogger), because I just can’t find the right words.

This isn’t anything terribly unique for a blogger, as you all are probably nodding your heads in agreement as you read this.

I can’t find the right words as I am learning about the journey that friends of mine are going through as I write – a major medical diagnosis for their beautiful two year old son that has been followed by multiple surgeries. My heart aches for them as it is one of parenting’s worst nightmares come true. I also am in awe of their amazing strength, faith, and love as they honestly share their story and celebrate the little victories with their son. Even in some of their most difficult days, they seem to be able to notice some good moments the keep them uplifted. It is inspiring.

On their own Caring Bridge journal, they say the comments and support from their virtual community is helping to look to the light. I feel a little helpless, thinking are my prayers, thoughts, and comments enough? How else can I give them a long-distance hug across several states?

This isn’t the first time someone I’ve cared about has faced a major medical condition with a child before. My nephew was diagnosed with a heart defect on the day he was born. It was a huge shock to us all then, and I can clearly remember being in the room when the doctor delivered the news. Horrible. Unexpected. Fear. Uncertainty. Prayers. At the time, I didn’t feel equipped with the right words, just as I feel now.

Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law were supported by an incredible medical team and a local support group for parents of children with heart defects.  These parents understood all too well what my sister and brother in law were going through.  I was happy she had that outlet, knowing they would provide words of support and comfort that I could not based on my own life experience.

There’s no handbook for parents for handling such things. Being a parent is a scary business.

Before and after my nephew’s heart surgery (which now seems like a distant memory, as he is now a healthy, goofy, and energetic almost 3 year old), I did what I could to show my love and support in the most basic ways – making or bringing meals, watching my three-year old nephew, just listening, and fervently praying.

In times of crisis it all seems to come back to the basics of love. Doing our best to act out of love and  simply “be present” in whatever way we can be.

I’m inclined to believe that the right words don’t matter so much because God senses our innermost thoughts and hears our prayers.

In the spirit of not being able to find the right words, I’m going to close this post with a petition for prayer or kind thoughts (whatever your beliefs may be) for my friend’s son and for all families and individuals battling an illness.  Let us also pray for all caregivers, medical professionals, and supporters who care for the sick and their families. May our actions, thoughts, and prayers help wrap patients and their families up in one huge, comforting hug.

The SLOW Transition to Spring: Hope and Despair in Pictures

A recent post called Hope and despair in pictures from A Thing About Joan truly resonated with me.  March is a crazy, unpredictable time of year in the Midwest in general and in Wisconsin specifically.  We’re used to snowstorms or a light dusting of snow (like today) or beautiful 50 degree days that we experienced just a few days ago. This leads to a lot of melting of the now ugly gray-brown snow. Long gone are the days of the first white snows that stick to trees when we are all moved to say, “But it looks so pretty.”

As a family we LOVE getting outside on these first warm-ish, above freezing days. Daddy O. and I even walked to a nearby restaurant on Friday night for a fish fry date night with two other fun couples. It was so nice! Earlier that day my kids had fun riding big wheels and bikes:

riding bikes by the snowbanks

Image of HOPE – first nice day of March 2014

An even better image of hope was the reprieve from Wisconsin Winter that Daddy O. and I enjoyed on our Kid-free Fun in Phoenix Trip.

Striking views of Chihuly exhibit and scenes of Phoenix, Arizona.

Image of Hope – SUNSHINE and Striking views of Chihuly exhibit and scenes of Phoenix, Arizona.

Images of despair from winter are probably best captured when I discovered that our indoor weather station DOES display negative temperatures, though I was a bit confused by this display:

Image of despair: looking at my weather station during the polar

Image of despair: looking at my weather station during the polar vortex

I guess I have HOPE that today is only in the 20′s, although I am bummed to be dealing with hopefully the final head cold of winter.  I decided to spare you the image of my red-Rudolph-ringed nose and wastebaskets full of tissues.

One final image of hope is a recent colorful drawing from big sister. Aren’t we all looking for rainbows and possibly our pot of gold on Saint Patrick’s Day?!

Big Sister's Rainbow drawing

Image of Hope: A Rainbow for St. Patty’s Day

Have a wonderful day! What do your images of Hope and Despair look like? Thanks for the inspiration Joan.  Link back to her awesome blog to share your posts!