Thursday, December 20, 2007

Things We've Learned This Week

1.) Eight hours straight of shopping with Mommy is too long. 2.) It is fun to run around Mommy's work being loud. 3.) Parchment paper makes excellent treasure maps. 4.) Peppermint meringue frosting is yummy but requires lots of eggs. 5.) Grampy is a hero for bringing emergency egg rations to his baker boys. 6.) Sledding is fun, but a whole lot MORE fun with hot chocolate, marshmallows and friends. 7.) Red blankets make the best super hero capes. 8.) It's hard to take pictures of a lit Christmas tree.

Our best shot of Colin's personal tree. You can ALMOST see his grin in the background.

Liam was so good while shopping that he got the Underdog movie as a treat.
Colin then morphed into Underdog for the entire day.

Liam wasn't keen on sledding but did roll around a lot and dig with his shovel.

Colin and Bradley had fun being co-pilots on the new rocket sleds.

Ana provided both a smile and some welcome pink to the landscape!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

All I Want For Christmas...

Well, that's an easy one, for the little ones in our family. As you can see, Eamon just wants his two front teeth! And because he's always such a perfect little soul, they both popped through yesterday just in time for Christmas!
Colin wants the infamous frog game. This was not an easy find since Amazon suddenly listed it as one of the top toys of 2007 and they were nowhere to be found. I got burned pretty badly, but bought it on Ebay nonetheless to make sure he had it. Yes, I am THAT mother. Though I draw the line at beating up other parents in stores like they used to do over Cabbage Patch dolls and Carebears when I was young. I just get aggressive with my online bidding. (And no, Mom, I will never forget that you forged my Friendship Bear because you couldn't find the real thing that year back in the 80s.) :)

I (heart) wrapping paper.

Liam wants his darn flying bat like Colin's that drew blood on me and which Colin has already broken. But, hey, it's worth it to make him happy and I found the last one at ToysRUs and it didn't require any standing in lines, physical violence, or (thankfully) breaking the bank.

Beyond the material things, the boys just want to hang out and be "festive". We attended yet another party yesterday, our friend Erika's annual cookie decorating party that has fast become a family favorite. The boys had a ball, were the last to leave, and truly enjoyed every moment. They ate the last of their sticky, gooey, messy, wondrous cookies today and are already asking to go back!

Icing the cookies is fun, but eating them is the best!

We also had a marathon gingerbread house-decorating contest today. Liam wins, I think, for breaking the roof before I'd even finished making the icing! But it all turned out fine and Hansel and Gretel would be proud of the ridiculous amounts of candy that my big boys were able to squeeze onto this little abode. Not to mention the pounds they ate as they were decorating it.

It's more of a "Candy House with Optional Gingerbread"

Now, what do *I* want for Christmas? I want someone to come in and take out every last grain of Moon Sand and gold glitter from the nooks and crannies of my house. I want to finish an entire cup of coffee before it gets cold, an entire glass of wine (and a movie!) before I fall asleep. Moreover, I'd like to have ONE day where I don't NEED a glass of wine after putting the boys to bed! I'd like to see the bottom of the laundry pile (just once!), hear "Yes, Mommy!" every once in a while, and have ONE WHOLE BIG LONG DAY where no one whines, fights, pinches, pushes, complains or needs to be asked: "Did you wash your hands?? Let me smell them." I think I've been FAIRLY good this year, so if any of those fit in my stocking, I'd be heartily indebted to Old Saint Nick.
I'll settle for having windows that don't frost over.
On the INSIDE.
But the boys were enamored with the designs they found
this morning so I had to admit; they are pretty.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ode to Liam James

Mini's Martini
No, it's really a ginger trifle that I made for dessert when
we had friends over for dinner on Sunday.
Note the loyal yellow sippy cup in close proximity.

Poor Liam already has Middle Child Syndrome. He is so easy going, often submits to Colin's outrageous demands and is generally just a sweet, adorable little guy. Of course he also runs around like a whirling dervish, pouts for hours if I have the nerve to tell him no, and crosses his arms in indignant stubbornness at least a dozen times a day... but no one's perfect. Case in point, this week he has refused to drink out of anything but a YELLOW sippy cup and since we only have one, you might imagine the injustice he suffered tonight when I offered him purple instead.

Colin gets a lot of attention because he has oldest child "I'm the center of your universe" syndrome. He also doesn't nap anymore so he gets me one-on-one for at least 3 hours a day when the little boys are sleeping. Eamon gets a lot of face time here on the blog and at home too, mostly because he is so unbelievably jovial and just... edible all the time. There is a reason we call him "pumpkin pie" and "apple strudel"; he's just so sweet and his solid little chub demands to be squeezed and nibbled and photographed all the time. But Liam... whether from his lack of sedentary nature or the fact that his incredible language explosion is difficult to capture on film (er.. in jpeg formatting?) has gotten short shrift on here. So, today's post is for my Liam!

This past weekend we got invited to five (yes, five!) parties, all on Saturday. Chris took Colin to his company kids party (It was only for kids age 4+ and they needed a day alone to have some "manly" (rollerskating, ha!) fun. I'll leave it up to him to blog away about their incredibly action-packed day). I was on Liam and Eamon duty and we party-hopped to three consecutive fetes before we called it a night. (Hey, I DID say no to the fifth invite, and we were running so late, we all-but-missed the second party of the day too. I feel like I have to explain this to reduce my motherly guilt about over-scheduling my tots.) Much to his credit, as we staggered out of the last party of the day, Liam said to me with a bit of twinkly anticipation: "Mommy, we go to ANOTHER party now??". That's my soon-to-be pub-crawling boy!

"The Braun" tries to figure out that darn ball-popper. Success!

Anyway, it was so lovely to have some time to spend with Liam where he got to express himself without being strong-armed (hmm, strong-worded?) by Colin. And Eamon was a peach as usual so he hardly took away too much attention from "Little". Liam has taken a formal turn lately and only refers to his elder brother as "Colin Michael" and refers to himself as "James Arnold" (we don't know where the Liam went. Then again, we NEVER know why Liam does any of the things he does.) Conversations go like this: "Colin Michael, you no touch me!" "You being crabby, Colin Michael? Yeah, you CRABBY!" "You want to cook hot stuff with me, Colin Michael?" It's taken me a while to define it, but Liam's speech pattern is exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger in his early years here before he mastered English and became a politician. Prepositions are to be used only under duress and pronouns used interchangeably at the speaker's whim. It's damn cute though. In a 2 year old.

Liam got his VERY OWN present. A rarity and much appreciated by him especially since it was a new Mickey Mouse that he LOVES. (He's gotten so good at enunciating that he calls him "Mickey Mouse" now and not "Hot Dog" anymore... sob, he's growing up...)
A big thanks to Jenn for the photos of Party#1 AND for Mickey!

This week Liam has done a ton of painting including a very... brown... Christmas stocking-shaped coin bank. Everything Liam does ends up brown, or black. (To put this in perspective, Colin would DIE in a pool of liquid horror before he let his paint colors mix together). He also helped me wrap a lot of gifts for his cousins ("Mommy, me ASK Emme if me open her presents?" "No, Liam, you can't." "Mommy, Ryan cry if me open his presents?" "Yes, Liam, he will". And on it goes...). He also cut me to the quick this evening. While he was napping, Colin and I innocently painted some sun catchers from the Dollar Store as our daily naptime project. Many hours later, after Liam woke up, had dinner, and played, he saw the drying suncatchers. A very confused look came over his face and he came right up to me and said, "Mommy, you do THIS without me???". He summarily broke my heart at that moment and this Mommy vowed get my ass out in the foot or more of new-fallen snow tomorrow to buy replacements. He was instantly mollified and told his brother: "See, Colin Michael? Mommy buy more for ME tomorrow at Dollar Store!!" If only $1 and a little Mommy time would keep him this happy forever.

Liam's dark inner feelings about non-yellow sippy cups.
Expressed in a finger paint medium.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Festivities Continue Despite the Bitter Cold

Happy even at 17 degrees thanks to my Nanook of the North boots!

Three peas in a pod snuggling to stay warm!

Although we missed the Santa Parade (thankfully, as it was 20 degrees and windy out that day), we did get to have some fun at the Town Hall last weekend where they had a meet and greet with Santa and a very nicely-done Candy Land themed area for the kids. Anyplace that can get my kids to stand (still!) in line for an hour to see the portly gentleman who strikes fear into their hearts must be doing something right. Colin wouldn't sit on his lap, but Liam was very brave and told Santa (again) all about the bat he wants for Christmas. Colin only approached Santa at all because he was dying for the candy cane that Mrs. Claus was using to, albeit generously, bribe the tots. Hey, don't we teach our kids NOT to go with strangers who offer them candy? No wonder it's so freakishly confusing for them this time of year. The kids also scored some hot chocolate and cookies which topped off the day for them as a great success.

Liam tells his tale to Santa and the Missus.

Colin makes a gingerfriend.

A favorite stop on the Candy Land path.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

World Cultures, 101: Preschool-style

Thank God for the internet. Colin came home from school on Tuesday morning singing over and over again: "Dance the Hora, Dance the Hora". I immediately assumed that he'd just learned yet another "naughty word" from the other kids at school, but he soon clued me in--telling me all the interesting tidbits he learned about Hanukkah from Miss Linda. Prior to this my only knowledge of Hanukkah songs came from Adam Sandler. Though he made no mention of the Maccabees (this part, I actually knew!), he did know about the candles (as evidenced by his Menorah hat, above) and, not surprisingly, the gifts, and-- most joyous of all--the dreidel! Thanks to YouTube, we found a video of people actually dancing the Hora and he's been practicing ever since (it is a wonderfully active dance for kids and so much more fun than the squaredancing *I* learned in 10th grade gym class).

Then he told me all about the dreidel and again, thanks to the internet, we found a template to make one out of paper. And although we were short some gelt, we did find some fairly appropriate blue and white coins (from our poker set--is that blasphemy?) to use with it. If you've never played with a dreidel before, I truly believe it is a game made up by Jewish parents to keep their kids out of their hair while they enjoy socializing with other adults during the holidays--it's a long, long, neverendingly LONG game. But Colin was really excited about it (he even memorized the Hebrew letters so he could play by himself--thank Yahweh!) and that's good enough for me.

I'd better read up on Kwanzaa, I'm sure he'll be educating me about that next week...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Holiday Spirit

We're starting early this year for us, but it's starting to feel festive! The big boys picked out their baby Christmas trees this week and now they'll get one ornament everyday until Christmas to add to them. I also went a bit berserk this year and put up 24 tiny stockings with a treat for each boy inside to get them through advent. But, getting Colin through the one day wait until December started proved to be the hardest part! They happily opened the first one this morning and from here on, I hope it runs smoothly!

The boys also picked tags at church from the giving tree and I am surprised at how much they seem to be really into it this year. They each chose a child that is the same age as them so they were truly "expert shoppers" at the toy store. Liam was so proud that he helped me wrap up the big trucks he chose that he actually ASKED me to take his picture with it. Well, that was back on Tuesday... now it's Saturday and the temptation proved to be TOO GREAT and he finally dug in and opened that darn present this morning! He ALMOST made it until tomorrow when we'll drop it off at the church, but not QUITE. Tonight I will rewrap... after Liam is in bed!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For Posterity

We finally got Liam to be in a picture and smiling to boot! Colin had to take a family photo for show and share at school today and we didn't have a recent one so this got taken this morning on our way out the door. There's nothing like the last minute.

p.s. Well... to respond to some of the comments, it APPEARS calm but it was also 8:00am so everyone was half asleep and I'm PRETTY sure that I heard Chris bribe Liam with marshmallows as he was getting him dressed. Not bad with a self-timer and no time... now if only the Christmas card pictures would get done half as easily... oh and we couldn't get Clara to sit still in it... I guess we should have offered her marshmallows as well!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Still Life with Chunk

Eamon had his 6 months photos done today. Yes, yes, he'll be 8 months in a week or so, but hey, we get behind sometimes around here. He celebrated Thanksgiving this week by being thankful for all of the new foods in his world. This week alone he tried (and LOVED) butternut squash ravioli, turkey and veggies, mashed potato, potato and leek soup, a blueberry cereal bar, whipped cream, and meatballs with sauce (the tomato did give him a rash around his mouth, but considering what his older brothers endured with their food allergies, we think he got away scot free.) He will literally eat ANYTHING put in front of him and since this is our third time around, we're much less strict about things than we were with Colin and Liam. And lucky for us (and him), nothing has really bothered him so far. He can't keep up his nickname "Chunk" by being a picky eater!

Eamon also got his first photo taken with Santa today which he nearly slept through (after a long day of shopping and giggling at all the festivities around him, the jolly ol' guy didn't need to do much to get him to drop off. He fell asleep literally moments after being handed back to me). Colin was happy to be in a few photos with Eamon but balked at being photographed with Old Saint Nick. He did, however, ask him for a Frog Game for Christmas. For the life of me, I haven't a clue what that is so if you run across a frog game with "red and blue and green tree frogs", PLEASE let me know because Santa is desperate to find it before December 25th. Liam was happy to sit and play with Eamon during the photo shoot but got up and ran off as soon as the photographer started to rearrange his limbs. His acting career may be over before it starts--he doesn't take stage direction well (er... at all...) He was gungho to talk to Santa (he wants a "bat from a box with a black thing that goes round and round"-- we're PRETTY sure this is the bat that Colin just got for his birthday from Uncle Mark and Auntie Megan but we wish he'd ask for something we don't already have. He is adamant that that is all he wants though. Of course "Little" refused to get his photo taken with Santa--big shocker. I feel like I should photoshop Liam into the new photos... he really is part of the family... albeit, not stationary enough to have a permanent image of him made...

p.s. Check out Eamon sticking his tongue out at the paparazzi... he's really into giving "raspberries" right now and he spit so much the photographer had to change the background because there was a drool pool under him at one point. So attractive.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Eamon's First Sled Ride

First snow of the season

Another fun-filled week here. Colin had yet ANOTHER birthday party (the last!), this time his family party and collected a bunch more great gifts. He really enjoyed his birthday immensely this year (a big step up from age two when he screamed "Mine!!" the whole time and age three when he screamed "No!!" the whole time.) Age four is already treating us better than age three did. So, we should have 6 more joyous months until Liam gets there!

The big cousins enjoyed the party and showed off their Lincoln Log building prowess. Eamon likes Lincoln Logs too--they're great to soothe those top teeth which will be coming in any day now!

Colin showed that small hands can build big things... and roll marbles down them too (the bane of my existence now that Eamon is rolling around. We're currently short one marble... we're hoping it's under one of the couches. This is by far one of the favorite new things--neither of the big boys have asked to turn on the TV even ONCE since acquiring the marble race!).

Today we had the first snowfall which the boys were VERY excited about. Liam happily made snowballs and entertained himself in the soft white stuff while Colin was at school.

Eamon got to use his new snowsuit... and had his first trip down the hill on his sled! He loved it! Colin had a ball sledding as well (he's big enough this year to drag his own sled up the hill, hallelujah!) and tried to make a snow angel but there wasn't quite enough of the white stuff... it's more of a snow and leaf angel. Surprisingly, considering his penchant for danger, Liam didn't like sledding and spent most of his time filling his wheelbarrow with snow and making snow castles. The kid is definitely going to be an architect-- or a wrecking ball operator.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Potty Training

And I thought potty training was difficult in English. It seems way more complicated for Dutch-speaking South Africans, living in New Zealand.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Party Like A Preschooler

Colin is FOUR!! He had his preschool-age friends over for a celebration on Monday. What fun! We went full throttle with the dinosaur theme serving things like "Jurassic Juice", "Triceratops Teeth with Swamp Sludge" (Apples with caramel dip) and "Fossilized Footprints with Molten Magma" (Tortilla chips and salsa) and of course the requisite Dino-shaped chicken nuggets. He had a ball and everyone seemed to enjoy the games and treats.

This year he was completely thrilled with people singing happy birthday to him and has been singing to himself ever since! We brought him out to lunch on Sunday for his birthday and he said afterwards: "Mommy, I REALLY liked when they sang to me at the restaurant, that was REALLY nice of them". Surprising to me, because, as the oldest, he generally takes it for granted that the world revolves around him.

Although he liked the IDEA of his new "big boy" red bike, he was really nervous riding it for the first time (it's pretty high off the ground and training wheels are "tippy" according to Liam). He announced after his first ride on the street (where he actually did fairly well) that "I think I'll ride my new bike when I turn FIVE". I'm sure he'll being going down the street like a bat out of hell soon enough (though it did seem AWFULLY high off the ground as if a fall would really HURT... this growing up thing is much harder on the parents than the kids...)
p.s. Isn't that attached water bottle the cutest thing you've ever seen? He must have taken it out a dozen times during our ride TO THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR. He even offered it to Liam which is PROOF of how happy it makes him!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What a week!

On Monday, the boys had their pediatrician checkups and we're happy to say they're all healthy as can be (too bad the same can't be said for us...we've taught them to share so well that they joyfully passed on their colds when they were done with them. The worst part is that I've lost my voice--which my students may enjoy, but it wreaks havoc on me trying to corral the kids. Now they tune me out even more than usual and I have to use words like "chocolate"; "movie" and "birthday presents" before they'll even look my way).

At any rate, at 7 months, Eamon is a whopping 19 lbs 4 oz and 27 inches long. 50% in height and 60ish% in weight. No surprises there... he didn't get the nickname "Chunk" from being a waif. Colin once again showed his penchant for perfection measuring in at 41 lbs and 41 inches. (Last year at his 3 year check up he was 37 lbs and 37 inches... somehow he's managed to utilize biofeedback techniques so his numbers always "match"... matching is big with Colin, you'll find). Liam's numbers weren't up for renewal, we'll have to wait for May for that, though he did give our pediatrician his two cents when he decided to go into an endless chant of "You dumb, you dumb, you dumb" after I told him he couldn't ride on her twirly stool. He then proceeded to take the binky from poor Eamon who'd just had 4 shots and drop it into the nasty depths behind the exam table. Even our ped, who is generally very low key and relaxed, recommended we sterilize the hell out of that thing before giving it back to the baby-- no worries, I had a spare in my pocket and thwarted Liam's evil plan without batting a lash.

Because one day of being trapped in a tiny square room with three miscreants wasn't enough, Clara had HER yearly vet checkup on the following day. They really need to make exam rooms bigger, install TVs and laughing gas dispensers, and in this case, NOT leave a very fetching specimen cup containing all the ticks they've EVER removed from an animal on the counter. That provided LOTS of fun for the kiddies, let me tell you. This time, the boys weren't SO BAD except they insisted on sitting UNDER the exam table the whole time and freaked the poor vet tech out because she insisted they must be in contact with some kind of germs. Hey, as long as they're not eating out of the biohazard trash, I consider it a good day. And to be fair to Clara, SHE at least was good and only got skittish once when the decibel level of the kids got so high during her vaccinations that her eardrums must have cracked. Also to be fair, I'm posting a photo of the poor girl who was neglected in the "Meet the Players" blog... she WAS our first baby. Albeit one who never requires a diaper change, sleeps 20 hours a day, and can be left home alone for 12 hours. Why people get dogs to "practice" is beyond me. Newsflash: they're a lot easier than kids (even if they do take up just as much of the bed).

The week ended well (for me at least ... I work Wednesday and Friday so Chris had to deal with the boys' antics while my parents are basking in the Italian sun). Colin had a birthday party at his school, even got a special hat and book as a gift from his teachers and was delighted with the cookies that magically appeared for his class at snacktime (someone actually had to stay up half the night making them, ahem...). Colin and I made some lovely leaf rubbings with the last of the leaves that haven't covered our yard, and Liam did his part to pick up some of the detritus (even if he did stomp his pile into smithereens after he raked it). Preparations for Colin's "kiddie" party go into full swing this weekend as Monday morning we're expecting 15 preschoolers (and their parents) to descend on us and eat cake, play games and generally destroy our home.