Thursday, November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007

The boys are both going through a phase where they are saying bye bye to everything they can think of. Bye bye truck, bye bye boo boo, bye bye house, bye bye moon, bye bye airplane, bye bye helicopter, get the idea. But today's bye bye was one to remember.

We were getting out of the car and Ben noticed bird poop on the rear of the car. He had noticed it once before and I had told him it was bird poop. So today, both boys were saying "bye bye poop". I couldn't help but laugh at that one. They were saying it over and over, as we left the car to go into the store, and then they were saying it again, over and over, as we drove away from the store.

Both boys are now doing pretty well with drinking out of an open cup. I have been serving their milk from an open cup in the mornings and then we go back to the cup with the lid and straw when they are more tired. So far, we have only had one large spill that went on the floor. All of the others were just little drips on the counter, for the most part.

They have been waking up way to early for me these days. I don't think they ever changed their wake up time when the time change happened, although their bedtime at night did change. Most days they take a pretty good nap but, boy, the mornings sure get long sometimes.

Today we went out looking for Christmas-y sweaters for them. Kohl's had racks of beautiful little girl dresses for Christmas but NOTHING for little boys. I couldn't believe it. Target was not much better. Babies-R-Us had a few sweaters but not many, although we did find something there that works. I had so few to choose from that I had to buy two identical ones. This is the number one reason that the boys are dressed alike so often. There are just not that many cute boy clothes to choose from and I'm not going to spend a ton of money on clothes that they are going to grow out of in 2 or 3 months.

I am coming down with the dreaded cold that Nick has had for the past few days. I can't tell if Ben is getting it or not. I hate getting sick at this time of year....I mean, it is never something that you want to have happen but it's extra bad at this time of year. There is so much going on and you don't want to miss things or not enjoy them due to illness.

We are suppose to be leaving the boys at a MOPS kid's night out and going to dinner with friends tomorrow night but I'm not sure we will get to go, with Nick still feeling badly and having a constantly running nose and with me starting to get it too.

I have changed my mind about some of the boys' Christmas gifts. We had already gotten them each a very large Tonka dump truck but I think we are going to return it and get one little cash register, two shopping carts and some groceries. They are quickly getting into the pretend thing and I think they might have more fun with this than with the trucks, since they already have some trucks anyway. I have already got the little cash register. It is a popular older Fischer Price toy that has recently been brought back. I am still looking for the shopping carts and food.

I so want to be done with my Christmas shopping soon. I had planned to finish it very early this year and it has not happened. I have some of it done but still have a few things to find.

Much to do before the boys wake from their nap. Happy day!

Monday, November 26, 2007

November 26, 2007

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, celebrated at my sister's house with her family, my mom, all three of my brothers, several nieces and nephews and spouses and a great niece (pictured)....and of course, my husband and two sons. I lost count of how many people were there but I think it was somewhere around 18 or 20. It was definitely the largest family crowd that our two sons have seen yet and they seem to have handled it well. They had a great time playing with their big cousin Trent (also pictured). I brought lots and lots of toys and books to keep them busy but they spent more time playing with the toys my niece brought for her little girl. All in all, everyone had a great time, we had wonderful food and it was so nice to see the family again.

These three pictures were taken as I was making the Mississippi Mud, the day before Thanksgiving. The chocolate is from the icing and the white stuff is marshmellow creme. The boys now have a new appreciation for baking.

We had a wonderful, relaxing weekend. I did some book shopping at our local Christian bookstore for myself and am now reading several books at once. I have a really hard time going into that place to shop for a book. I normally come out with several and this time was no different. I found six books that all seemed to be calling my name. One, called Mommy Teach Me is about homeschooling preschoolers and I really liked it a lot. I started it Saturday and finished it on Sunday. Great book with some great ideas and good advice. Another is called Teaching Kids about God. It discusses what children at various ages are able to understand about God and different ways you can help them to learn to have their own relationship with God. I have just started it but it seems very good, although I'm not sure if I will agree with everything they say. Another is called The Discipline Book by the Sears' (husband and wife). It is a fairly large book and I am only maybe an eighth of the way through it but it seems pretty good so far.

The other three books I bought to address a concern I have had, which is making sure I am not just correcting behavior but that I am also shepherding the heart of my children. These three books are Spirtually Parenting your Preschooler, Shepherding a Child's Heart and The Key to Your Child's Heart. I am not far along into any of these to be able to comment on them but I think at least one of them will be really good and all three of them will likely have some very good points. So, I have been doing a lot of reading lately.

Here is one of the little activities from the Mommy Teach Me book that I did with the boys today (sorry for the poor lighting). They really liked it a lot. The trays are plastic and the pitchers are glass. I showed them how to carefully carry the tray and place it on the table. They both did pretty well.  I showed them how to be careful with the pitchers and how to pour the rice slowly, trying to hit the middle of the other pitcher. They were suppose to turn the tray around each time, so they are always pouring from left to right, which also helps preparing to read left to right. They poured it back and forth between the pitchers and into the tray and they picked it up with their fingers. They did everything with the rice. I'm not sure that is exactly how it was suppose to go but the book says the number one thing for this activity is teaching them how to concentrate on a task and I think they did that pretty well. They had fun with it regardless.

I went to a dollar store this weekend to buy a lot of the stuff that I need to do many of the activities in the Mommy Teach Me book. I bought some simple sponges, without the rough scrubber things, and I cut one in half to let them pretend to wash their dishes. They loved that and have cleaned their dishes and pots and pans over and over, in addition to the window, the cabinets, trucks, trains, name it, they have tried to clean it. Of course, they were using a dry sponge, so nothing is really clean:). But they had fun and I had fun watching them and telling them what a good job they were doing.

On Sunday afternoon, while the boys were napping, I spent a good deal of time consolidating books and rearranging things in our library/play room. I moved all of the books up so that all of the bottom three shelves are now dedicated to toys and books for the boys. It really allows for orderly toy storage, which is recommended in a couple of the books I have read, and we now also have room for materials for crafts and other activities. The boys quickly get the idea of what goes where and everything has a place and they are pretty good about putting things back, although they do get out lots of stuff at once and make a big mess at times too.

I am very happy with the way the room turned out though. It seems as if there is a lot more play room and there is definitely more storage space for keeping their things orderly. The chair and small red couch are also closer to the kitchen, which is nice when I am sitting in there with them but need to check on dinner or lunch. It has also opened up the front window, which is the window that the boys enjoy the most, since they can see cars and trucks going by.

We went to church on Sunday and I, once again, shamelessly bribed my sons with candy. Once again, they went to their class without a peep and they had a wonderful time and seemed quite happy when we picked them up. The candy thing makes it a win-win for everyone involved. I'm sure the caregivers appreciate that they are no longer having to deal with two children crying at the same time, while they also have other children arriving. Our boys are no longer upset and crying when we leave, which is nice for them, and they love the candy of course. We leave them feeling much better that they seem happy. I figured we'll use the candy bribe for a few Sundays and then maybe try switching to stickers or something else. It seems good for now....we'll see what the future holds.

Last but not least comes our health issues:). Nick has a cold, as of today, and his poor little nose has been running like crazy all day. The good news is that he is not running a fever and it has been quite a while since the boys have had a cold so, overall, they are doing pretty well. I noticed that Ben is cutting his 2 year bottom molars. The only reason I noticed was that he has been drooling a bit lately:). I think I have found a really good chiropractor. After one treatment, which felt wonderful, I am feeling a bit better already....not completely but definitely a bit better. That leaves me feeling very hopeful that we will fix these issues once and for all and he will teach me the right exercises/stretches to keep them fixed.

The most terrible news is that we took Ben back to the plastic surgeon today. His scar is not looking good at all. The surgeon took one look at it and said, with a frown, "this is not acceptable". Apparently, his body reacted to the dissolving type stitches very badly. The result is that the scar is wider than it should be. It looks as if it pulled apart before it healed. And you can very clearly see the little holes where the stitches were.

This means that we have to redo the surgery. I almost cried when we were driving away and I had a chance to really digest this. We go back to the plastic surgeon in two months to see how the scar is doing and how much scar tissue is there. We'll continue to pray about this over the next couple of months and I know God will get us through it. I just feel really bad for B, that he has to go through this all over again. That's what makes me more sad than anything else.

Other than that, things here are great:)! Overall, we are all healthy, happy, having a great time together and still counting our blessings:).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

November 22, 2007

Yesterday was a very busy day for me. I made the Mississippi Mud, entirely from scratch, which took most of the morning, when you add in changing diapers, meals and snacks and playing referee to two little boys. I also did several loads of laundry, the last of which is still in the dryer. I ate lunch, made the bed, emptied the trash, took a shower and washed my hair and fixed it, during nap time.

Since my morning was so busy, I waited until after nap time to go to the grocery store to get some salmon for dinner. I don't like to buy it before the day we are going to eat it because I have had some that went bad in a very short amount of time. (I hate that smell and it comes dangerously close to turning me off to salmon altogether, which would be sad because I really like it and it is so healthy.) The boys took a long nap so we were heading to the grocery store later than I had intended. The temperature had dropped into the 30's so, for the first time this fall, we had to bundle up in our heavy coats. We ended up having dinner a bit later than normal. I quickly cleaned up after dinner and then it was time to brush teeth and start baths. The dad got home when the boys were still in the bath tub.

After the boys were in bed for the night, I was in my bathroom, getting ready for bed. The thought came to me that I had spent very little time holding, snuggling, hugging, kissing or even giving positive feedback to the boys today. After thinking about it for a minute, I ended up feeling that I had spent more time today correcting them about various things (mostly disagreements between the two of them) than I had loving on them.

I really hate it when that happens. It just makes me wish I could have a do-over. It is a gift from God that they have such short memories at this age, which effectively gives me a do-over today:). I am very thankful for that.

I am very thankful for God's love, which He shows us in so many big and little ways every day and through so many people. I can remember a time when I was struggling with feeling God's love. I was in the church choir at the time and we were singing songs about how much God loves us. God tells us He loves us through His word, the pastor preached about how much God loves us and everyone talked about it all the time but I was not *feeling* it. I can remember praying about it, while tears ran down my face, and asking God to help me feel His love for me. I also remember very distinctly how He started pointing out to me, one by one, all the ways He was showing me His love every day, through this friend's hug, through that friend's phone call to see how I was doing, through my family, etc. He responded to my plea very quickly and showed me all the ways He was constantly showing me His love. It meant so much to me and I knew, without a doubt, that He was talking to me and wanted me to know how much He loves me.

I have never forgotten that time. What a special God we have. I am thankful we have such a loving God, who cares about the big and little things that we are going through and who wants us to know that He loves us. I am thankful for the salvation He has provided for us. I am thankful for the two little boys with whom He has blessed us and I am so honored that He has entrusted them into our care. I am thankful for the wonderful, caring husband he has given me and father He has given the boys. I am thankful for our extended families and our friends, who are so loving to us and our children. I am thankful for the abundant life with which He has blessed us. I am thankful for all of the beauty around us, that constantly reminds us of the beautiful world He created.

I am so very thankful that we are sharing our Thanksgiving with our children this year. They are such a joy to our lives. Yesterday my sister was saying how she had just been thinking about what joy they have brought to our entire family and how thankful she is for them too. Yes, we are very very blessed and I thank our heavenly Father for that.

I pray that days like yesterday, when I get too busy and don't spend enough time snuggling, hugging and kissing my little boys, will be very few and far between.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

November 21, 2007

Here are some fun pictures I have taken over the past couple of weeks.

Nick was putting together some bread and veggies for a pretend snack. It was most amusing to watch him work. Notice the plate on the left, with the two cars on top of the tomato. Doesn't that look yummy?! Apparently it does to a little boy:)!

One day the boys and I had a fun time coloring and drawing on paper and envelopes, folding the papers and putting them into the envelopes and pretending to mail them.

Notice how Ben holds his pencil the right way. I only showed him how to do this once. Nick, on the other hand, gets upset with me if I try to show him how to hold his pencil. I read somewhere that you should make them hold it the proper way from the very beginning but I have not pushed this with him yet.

This is a little train set that my brother, SIL and niece gave the boys at a shower, before the boys ever came home. I got it out the other day for the first time but it is really for 3 years old and up....and for good reason. They spent more time taking it apart than anything else so, after a day or two, I put it away again.

But this is a great toy and they are still playing with it a lot. N has especially enjoyed it, more so than B for some reason.

The boys were doing somersaults. Nick would get in position and then pat his bottom, which he could barely reach, and say to Ben "pish, pish", "brother, pish" (translation, push:). It was really cute.

Yesterday afternoon, the boys and I spent a lot of time outside playing. We had been out for a while when I remembered that my sister gave us some sidewalk chalk. I'm not sure who had more fun with it, them or me:).

I am sure who got more of it on their clothes...them! I had to strip them down before I let them into the house. Good thing it was still warm outside.

Today the temperature has dropped like a rock. The last time I looked, it was around 36 degrees and still dropping. Yesterday it was in the high 70's. Big change. I was ready for it though. I like it to be colder when we celebrate Thanksgiving. I made the Mississippi Mud today. It looks good. I hope it tastes good. We'll find out tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007

I have grown weary of hearing Ben scream. He screams anytime things don't go his way. Yesterday he was screaming because Nick was trying to take a toy away from him. So, I taught him how to say "mine":). This is a word that the boys had not starting using yet because they really have not heard it around here much. So I taught him the word and we role-played him having a toy and me trying to take it from him.

At the time, it seemed like a good idea. I want him to learn how to use words, rather than screaming. But, in retrospect, I am thinking that this one will most likely back fire on me. In my vivid imagination, I can already hear him *screaming* "mine!!", even if I am trying to take something from him that he should not have. Oh well, what's a mom to do?

Another thing I may regret is that the boys and I have started playing this game when we listen to their music. There is a song with a chorus that says "I'm gonna get you; you'd better run!". It is a very upbeat, fun song and I just couldn't resist chasing them, while singing the song. They absolutely love being chased. They giggle and laugh and they are never ready to stop. When the song is over, I am exhausted and they are disappointed. I think they could do this for hours.

Yesterday evening, when the dad got home, the boys were sitting in my lap and we were reading a book. We have finally gotten to the point where they will both sit in a lap and let us read the same book to the two of them at the same time. For the longest time, Nick wanted to hold and control his own book and did not want us to read to him. He enjoyed looking at the pictures and talking about them but had little interest or attention span for listening to us read. Now he loves it and will climb into a lap and say "read" to us. I digress. So we were reading a book together and they heard the garage door go up. They both got down and ran to the door and Nick was saying "daddy home, daddy home".

When the dad goes to the bedroom to change his clothes, the boys love to go with him and hide in the clothes, open and close the various doors, play with the digital scales or turn light switches on and off. Ben had been in the library/playroom, when Nick and the dad went to the bedroom. When Ben realized he was missing out on the bedroom play time, he ran in that direction saying "daddy home, daddy home".

Overall, I think the boys are pretty neck and neck, when it comes to their communication skills and vocabulary size. They are both saying more and more 2 word phrases/sentences, although Ben seems more likely to repeat them now, when I say to them "say night night daddy" or something like that. When Ben gets a positive response from me, Nick usually jumps in and tries to say it too.

Yesterday I was singing "Jesus loves me, this I know..." to the boys. Ben started singing it with me and it was **SO** sweet. It almost made me cry. It is just too precious to hear a small child sing. He really did pretty well on the chorus ("Yes, Jesus loves me; yes, Jesus loves me; yes, Jesus loves me; the Bible tells me so.) He could say most of it and he mumbled any words that he missed. He and I were looking at each other while we sang it together and we both had a huge smile on our faces and it was just too adorable. We both laughed together when we finished and then he would say "again?".

We have struggled in the past with the boys wanting to play with the light switches. They have gotten much better about this now and I try to remember to ask one of them to turn the lights on and off for me, since they enjoy it so much. Yesterday evening, we were getting the boys ready for bed and Nick was looking for his Ya Ya. I told him I thought it was in the library/playroom so he ran in there by himself. Normally when he saw that the room was dark, he would stop and come back, look at me and sometimes would say "help". He did not want to go into the dark room by himself. Last night, for the first time, he handled it differently. The light was off in that room and it was already dark. As he went into the room, I heard him say "light" and then the light came on. Next I heard him mumbling, as he was looking for Ya Ya and then I heard "Ya Ya!", when he found it. Next came "light" again and he turned out the light and ran back into the living room. It was the first time I have seen either of the boys actually go through this whole process, realizing they need the light and using the light switch as it is meant to be used. I thought for sure he would leave the room with the light still on, so I was quite surprised when he remember to turn it off again. As much as they enjoy turning the lights on and off, I guess I should not have been surprised that he remembered.

They have also gotten to the point that, when the dryer buzzer goes off, they run ahead of me into the laundry room because they enjoy helping to remove the clothes from the dryer and dumping them into a laundry basket. When I tell them I am going to the laundry room to put clothes in the dryer, they also run along with me. When I drop the clothes on the dryer door, they like to push them into the dryer.

It's nice to see them helping in ways that they can help. They enjoy it so much at this age. I need to figure out how to include them more in setting/clearing the table and loading/unloading the dishwasher. I know they would enjoy it.

They are still having a great time, playing with the large box in which the new furnace came. Yesterday I turned it on its side, so it is more like a cave, and it became a whole new, interesting toy again:). I am in search of some new, good puzzles, as the boys can work all of the puzzles we have now.

I have now gotten to where I create a menu for the week on Monday mornings and the boys and I go grocery shopping that morning and get everything we will need for the week. It really reduces my stress about cooking and I feel much more organized when I do this. So we were at Walmart yesterday and they have these Christmas trees set up as you enter the store. The trees were there last week too, so the boys have already seen them a couple of times and I have told them what they are. Yesterday, as we walked by one, Ben pointed to the tree and said "Christmas tree!", as big as you please. I said "yes, that is a Christmas tree; isn't it pretty?".

Lately I have written a lot about what the boys say. When I do this, I am writing what they are trying to say, rather than the actual way they are saying it. Their words frequently do not come out as clearly as I write them but I am not good at writing their words the actual way they say them, if you know what I mean. In other words, they do not speak that clearly and the dad frequently does not understand what they are saying. Since I am with them all the time, I normally know what they are saying. I just didn't want everyone thinking that they are saying all of these words perfectly clear, as an adult would, even though that is the way I write their words here. It's just easier for me to write it that way....I'm all for easy:).

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is only two days away. I can't wait! Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

November 18, 2007 Part 2

For the first time, I took the boys to church by myself! Yay! I prayed about it a lot and I used a small bag of M&M's as my helper:). I talked to the boys about going to church and playing with the other children and seeing Katy (our babysitter) again, etc. I told them they were going to be big boys and not cry and that they were going to go to their class and I was going to go to my class. I talked it up pretty good but I still brought the M&M's, which I believe were key to our success.

I showed them the M&M's as we were getting out of our car and told them they could have one when we got inside. I gave them each one when we got to the sign-in desk. (By this time, they have normally started crying/whining and asked to be picked up.) I gave them each another one when we got to the door of their classroom. When we got to the door, Nick decided he did not want to go and he took off running in the other direction. But then I said "Nick, don't you want another M&M?" and he came running back:). They both went into the classroom and Ben held up his hands for me to pick him up, as he said "mommy? mommy?". I told him I would be back later and I gave the candy to Katy. I think there was only one other little girl in the class at the time and there are two adults and Katy, taking care of the kids. So, the boys were getting a lot of attention from everyone, which helped. And, of course, the M&M's were key. Neither of them cried at all! It was amazing! They normally cry every week, when we leave them.

I was so relieved that it went so well. As I sat in my class, I said a thank-you prayer. My husband joined me for the worship service and we went together to pick up the boys from their class. Ben had his back to the door, so he didn't see us come in. He was holding up a doll, moving her up and down and around, as he danced with her! It was so funny. I was cracking up. One of the caregivers said that both of the boys had been dancing with the dolls. Very funny. They were both very happy to see their daddy, since they had not seen him this morning.

We will definitely be buying more of those M&M's!

November 18, 2007

I was driving the other day, with the boys in the back in their car seats, and I was trying to get out of a parking lot, taking a left turn onto a major road. I was having a hard time finding an exit where I could cross the median. I ended up at a dead end in the parking lot and said "oh shoot". From the back seat, I hear little Nick saying "mommy?" "oh" "hoot", or something like that, but clearly trying his best to imitate what I had just said.

Isn't it funny that, of all the words you say that they don't imitate, that they somehow know when you have said something that you don't want them to imitate? Or maybe it is just that they are drawn to exclamations, since Nick seems to like to also imitate words like "wow!".

Regardless, it was a very funny, but also eye opening, moment:).

The same day, I was combing the boys' hair, as we were getting ready to go out and run our errands. As I was combing Nick's hair, he said "mommy?" "church?". It took me a minute to understand what he was saying, since it was a bit out of context (for me anyway). Fortunately (?) at this age they repeat everything until you acknowledge, in some way, what they are saying. I am quite surprised at how much he is understanding now, not just new words but really understanding more meaning behind the words.

Yesterday the boys spent a good deal of time outside with their dad. The dad was raking leaves and the boys were having fun, playing with leaves, sticks and rocks. I love watching little boys play outside, especially when there are no toys around and they invent their own play. Even though this was suppose to be some down time for me, I was drawn to the windows to watch them. At one point, Ben was ready to come inside but Nick clearly wanted to stay outside with dad. I think he would be out there all day, every day, if he could. I feel guilty at times that I don't get them out enough to play. I need to do better at this because I know it is so good for them.

It's funny though. I watch them with their dad and they seem to be really good about playing while dad reads or works or whatever. With me, they are constantly saying "Mommy? Sit. Sit." They want me to see what they are doing, to play with them, to talk to them, to narrate what they are doing, etc. The dad plays with them and interacts with them too. But I am sure, since I am home with them all day, that I end up doing this more so I suppose they have come to expect it more from me. I definitely talk to them A LOT and I think they like that too. I enjoy spending time with them and playing with them but, sometimes, when I see them playing so nicely, with the dad sitting nearby reading, I'm a bit jealous of that situation:). I suppose maybe I should make an effort to do that a bit here and there, so they might get used to it with me too sometimes.

In other news, Ben's face is healing very nicely. We put sunscreen on it every morning and wash it off every night, so that hopefully the scar will not be as prominent. Yesterday it looked as if the scab was starting to flake off in places. Little kids heal so fast; it is really amazing.

My mom is doing much much better these days. It seems her blood pressure is getting back to normal, so she is not feeling light headed and dizzy so much now. Her energy level is getting better but is definitely not what it used to be, although I wonder if it ever will be. She is still wearing her wig and scarves and has heard that it will take around 6 months before her hair will really be coming back in well. She definitely looks as if she feels better now, which is heartening. I'm not sure if I mentioned that, a week and a half ago, she fell while she was walking in to have her manicure. She tripped over the concrete stopper thing that one hits with the front tires, when parking a car in many parking lots. It was sticking out and she didn't see it. She fell on asphalt and her cheek took the brunt of the fall. I have not seen her but it is apparently all colors of green, blue, yellow and she also has cuts and abrasions. I think she said her knee was also bruised. We are thankful that she did not break any bones and that she seems to be healing quickly.

I can't believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Wow! My mom traditionally makes this dessert called Mississippi Mud and it is delicious. This year, for the first time ever, I will be making the famous Mississippi Mud, since mom does not feel up to it. My sister makes the most wonderful homemade pies, with homemade crust, so I have offered my services to make the Mud this year:).

The dad took the boys shopping with him yesterday and they bought outside Christmas lights for the house and the bushes out front. We have not decorated our house before now but my husband bought some things (timers, extension cords, etc.) at the end of the season last year (when everything was on sale), in preparation for this year. We knew that once we had the boys, we would want to decorate. I am ready to start decorating. I think we should turn on our lights on Thanksgiving day night or the the night after, so we can enjoy them longer:).

The boys are awake now and the dad is at work, so I must run.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

November 14, 2007

Today we went to Sam's to buy a few things and we had lunch there. The boys split a hot dog, had a few potato chips and two sips of an orange soda. This was their first time to ever try any carbonated beverage. When they tried it, they gave me the funniest look and then started coughing. When I offered them a second sip a little later, they both shook their head no. They each finally had a second sip when they were almost done with the meal...if you want to call that a meal:). I sat there and felt guilty about what an unhealthy lunch I was feeding them.

Normally, they have a sandwich, soup, mac and cheese or something like that but they almost always have a veggie with their lunch. I almost always serve them a veggie with lunch because otherwise they won't get their recommended quota. I don't eat nearly as healthy as they do. I know this will eventually be a big problem for me:).

They had all of the Christmas stuff out at Sam's. It really got me excited to start decorating for Christmas, although it is a bit too soon for us. I am so excited to share the holidays with the boys this year! Did I mention that in an earlier post?? :)

Our downstairs air conditioner has finally decided to give it up so we are having to replace it. I am thankful it happened while it is cooler outside and not during our weeks of 100 degree plus summer weather. We have now lived in this house for almost two years. It was built in 1998. We have already had to replace both air conditioner / furnace units (upstairs and downstairs). Isn't that pitiful? (and very expensive). Oh well, that's life. I am thankful that we have the money saved. The guy is going to do it tomorrow.

I found the dress-up play clothes on the Toys R Us website that I want to get the boys for Christmas. The only thing is that the shipping cost is going to be almost $30, which I think is totally outrageous. I tried to find some on-line coupons or promotional codes but have yet to find one that works. I'm still looking. If you know of something, please let me know. I bought the police officer outfit at the Toys R Us store the other day and I want to get the fire fighter outfit and two cowboy outfits from the website. But I really don't want to pay $30 for shipping. What a waste of money. I will have to see if there is another Toys R Us near us and see if they have what I want. I think they sold out of a lot of these clothes for Halloween.

Here are more fun words / phrases the boys are saying:

-- Nick, standing in the living room this morning and pointing outside: "windy!" (it has been VERY windy here today).
-- Nick, after burping the other day: "scuse you" (we have now started telling them to "say excuse me", rather than saying "excuse you" for them, when one of them burps:).
-- Ben, handing me the letter H as I was walking by the fridge this morning: "H" (I just introduced 'G', 'H' and 'I' yesterday evening). Nick also handed me the letter 'I' and told me "I".  I have been introducing three letters at a time, using the magnetic letters that stick to the fridge.They learn so fast!
-- Both boys, first thing in the morning, running towards the big ottoman in the living room where we change diapers: "first! first!" and then pushing and shoving each other away, trying to be the first to get their diapers changed. If Nick wins, Ben throws a big fit and then Nick usually tries to escape before I can change his diaper anyway, after all that fuss. We are working on this behavior but it is really hard to work on things when they both act up at the same time.
-- Nick, pulling Ben's pants and diaper out and peeking into them: "poopy?" and then he looks at me and smiles/laughs. He is such a little mimic these days and quite the entertainer. He doesn't like it when Ben cries and will frequently do something to try to cheer him up.
-- Both boys, sitting in their booster seats at the kitchen island yesterday at snack time, each patting his own chest: "me? me?" (they are trying to understand pronouns)
-- Both boys, sitting in their booster seats at the kitchen island this morning: "daddy, work?, daddy, work?"

I am starting to hear more and more two word phrases. This is one of the most exciting things ever! Am I crazy? I find this so exciting and entertaining. I am always explaining to them different things and showing them things, everywhere we go and I always tell them to say such-and-such. It seems that they just have to say something once and they have it down. Kids are just such amazing learners. And it really gets me when they say something that I have not told them to say before but they just picked it up from listening to me talk, such as "windy". What amazing memories and attention to detail! I am in awe.

This is still just the best job ever!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

November 13, 2007

Yes, I have started my Christmas shopping! I have hopes of being finished very early this year. Fortunately for me, the boys are so young this year, I can shop with them and even get things for them and they don't understand or remember. The things I bought for them yesterday went into the trunk of the car and they forgot all about them.

The dad already picked up the huge Tonka dump trucks for them, one for each child. They love trucks, especially big trucks, so I think those will be a big hit.

Yesterday we went to Toys-R-Us, as I had planned to get each of the boys two dress up outfits. I had planned to get them the police officer, fire fighter and two other ones but now I can't remember which ones. I think one might have been the train engineer but I can't remember the other one. Of course, it didn't really matter because they didn't even have most of them anyway. They had the police officer, so I went ahead and got that one. They also had the train engineer but I couldn't remember if that was one of the ones I wanted or not and, since I will have to look on-line anyway, I decided to wait and see what they have available.

I got two stick horses:). I had a stick horse when I was a kid and I loved it. I am going to try to find a couple of cowboy hats for kids but I want the inexpensive, play kind rather than the expensive real ones. Toys-R-Us and Walmart did not carry them.

I got two packs of Match Box cars that have very interesting vehicles, such as a dump truck, those roller things that are used to lay down new asphalt, a fork lift, a bulldozer and a bunch of others. I also got some finger paints but I will need to get a good plastic table cloth or something to put down on the floor for this. I still need to get a couple of pads of paper for finger painting.

I am going to get a couple of new children's music CD's from the Christian bookstore. They love music and I am getting tired of the ones we have. We especially need some new music for them for the car, as I am very tired of the Old McDonald, Wheels on the Bus, Skip to My Lou and other songs that are on the one CD that we end up listening to over and over in the car.

I have a few other things on my list but they are mostly smaller gifts. The big gifts for the boys this year are the dump trucks and dress up clothes. The dress up clothes are really for 3 years old and up but I have been getting a few toys for this age group, since their birthdays and Christmas all fall close together. I want to have some things that they are not going to grow out of too early in the year.

I had battery operated toothbrushes on my list but decided to go ahead and use them, rather than making them Christmas presents. We have a hard time with Nick, when it comes to brushing teeth. He makes such a big deal of not wanting to do it. It's strange because he acts like he wants to, when we are on our way up the stairs. Anyway, I thought the new toothbrushes might help and I think they do. It definitely makes it easier for us and they find them interesting. To date, we have only been brushing their teeth at night but I bought two sets of toothbrushes so I could keep one set downstairs so we can start brushing their teeth after breakfast too.

Our sons have still not figured out the time change thing. They are still waking up about 30 minutes to an hour early and then they are taking a longer nap these days. At least they seem to be getting the sleep they need though.

I forgot to mention that we were not able to go to church this weekend. The boys and I all ended up running fevers for about 3 days. I think we are all over it now but Sunday was my worse day and I think yesterday or Sunday was Nick's worse day. Ben got it first so he's a day or so ahead of Nick and me. I believe Ben probably caught this at MOPS. The good news is that they are not getting sick as often these days. Before they got sick this time, I was thinking it had been quite a while since they had gotten sick from the church nursery. I am hopeful that they will do better at resisting illnesses this winter.

Believe it or not, we have been wearing shorts again for the past couple of days. It has been unseasonably warm here lately. The bad news is that we are having issues with our downstairs air conditioner again. Actually, it seems that the issue may be with the breaker box but we are not sure. My husband replaced the breaker last night and it didn't fix the problem. So, I am thinking that I need to call someone about this today but I'm really not sure who to call. Fortunately it was a cloudy day here yesterday. Even so, it got up to about 75 degrees in here. Right now it looks like it is going to be another cloudy day today but you never know.

The other thing that we recently noticed is that our friendly wood pecker is back and has punched another whole in the stucco-like material on our chimney, in one of the same places where we had it repaired a few months back. I have a feeling we are going to have a constant battle with the wood peckers the whole time we live in this house.

Today, we are just going to hang out at home and relax. I love days like that.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

November 11, 2007 Part 4

I showed the boys how to pretend to have a dinner party or "tea party", by showing them how to set their little table with the new dishes they received as a birthday present. I got the bears and Jo Jo out and sat them in the seats at the table. The boys were very entertained by this, thought it was funny, and started to pretend they were pouring stuff and helping the bears eat.

That lasted all of about 2 minutes and then the fun began as they decided it was more fun to SIT ON THEIR GUESTS!!

Sitting on the guests became the fun thing to do. The boys moved from seat to seat, taking turns sitting on each of the bears. The only guest who didn't get sat on was Jo Jo. He is not as soft so maybe that was just smart of them.

The situation quickly deteriorated, as Nick threw one of the bears on the table, knocking half of the dishes on the floor. I discouraged this kind of behavior but, soon after, the lovely "tea party" ended in a dog pile on top of the guests:).

I may have to send them to etiquette classes.

More funny things said this morning:
Ben said: "brother, pish" (push)
Nick said: "no" (this was a first; normally the pusher rushes right over and pushes, for a little while at least...of course, the pusher is also normally Nick so maybe he is just getting tired of being the pusher.

Nick, sitting at the island with Ben, eating oatmeal. He spoons up a huge spoonful of oatmeal and says: "biiiiig bite", just as big as you please. Ben follows suit soon after. So I start asking them to show me a small bite and then a big bite. They do both, repeating "big bite" and "small bite", as the case may be.

Nick, sitting next to me on the little red couch in the library/play room, cutting up the cut-able, wooden veggies: "Mommy?" "Yes Nick?" "tomato" "yes, that is a tomato".

Ben is in the background saying "tractor, tractor, wagon", while he plays with a tractor and the small wagon it pulls.

Sitting next to Ben, reading a book about Jonah and the whale. Ben points to a picture of Jonah, floating down to the depths of a colorful ocean while holding his nose (it is a funny picture) and says "down down down", which is what the book says on that page. They have such a great memory.

While reading books together on the couch, I ask "are you guys hungry?". Both boys look at me and, at the same time, ask "yogurt?".

At some point in the morning, Nick runs over to the fridge and says "milk, milk". I say, "please ask nicely" and he says "pleeeease". I say "can you say milk please?" He says "milk" "pleeeease".

We were sitting on the couch, reading (singing) the Wheels on the Bus book. Ben was laughing and trying to sing it with me. It was so cute. He would sing the beep, beep , beep and swish, swish swish, etc. parts with me and then would sing "all day long" with me too. Nick would sing "all day". I was cracking up.

They are definitely putting more and more words together every day. They are still leaving a slight pause between words at times. This is so much fun! I love watching them and helping them learn to talk!

November 11, 2007 Part 3

The boys actually posed for me one day...or as close as they will ever get to posing, anyway:). Here are the results.

I tried to get a close-up of Ben's cheek, where we had the mole removed, but it didn't turn out too good. Our camera does not do close ups too well.

November 11, 2007 Part 2

Here is B, riding his "bike", while carrying around the new favorite spatula. Just before I took the picture, I asked him "what do you have in your hand?", which is why he is holding it up for us to see:).

As we are heading out of the boys bedroom, down the hall way, towards the stairs, there is a place where the boys can throw Ya Ya and/or Bear over the half-wall. When this happens, Ya Ya and/or Bear end up either falling all the way down to the first floor below or, if they are thrown over from the wrong place, they land on the dust-collector ledge below.

Let's just say, I am getting tired of retrieving the broom to knock Ya Ya and/or Bear off of the ledge. On the upside, the ledge has never had less dust on it since we have lived here:).

November 11, 2007

The babysitter (Katy) was here promptly at 2:00pm and, of course, the boys were still asleep at that time. It worked out well though because I was able to show her around the house and show her where we keep everything, what she could fix for dinner, etc. I also had a chance to talk with her about her perception of home schooling, since she has always been home schooled (she is at the ninth grade level).

The boys woke up and they had a chance to play with her for quite a while before we left around 4:00pm for a 4:25 movie. When the boys saw me putting on my shoes and starting asking "bye bye?", I explained to them that mommy and daddy were going bye bye for a little while and they were going to stay and play with Katy. We started getting a bit of whining and Nick wanted daddy to hold him and was being clingy.

And then, I had the brilliant idea to let them play in the water at the kitchen sink. We helped get them set up and gave them some fun things to play with in the water, we said our goodbyes and gave kisses and we were out the door without the shedding of one little tear:). Isn't that wonderful?? I'm sure there will be other times when there are tears but it was nice that our first time out went so smoothly.

Katy said the only time either of them cried while we were gone was when Ben cried because Nick took a toy away from him. Other than that, they had a fun time and were happy little guys the whole time we were gone. We did not dally after the movie, but came straight home. It was around 5:30 when we got back and then I took Katy home.

She is so sweet; we are very blessed to have found her. We are planning to schedule a date evening out about once every two weeks or so. That will be a nice thing to look forward to.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

November 10, 2007 Part 2

Ben still has a fever but it is a little lower and, as long as he has his medicine, he plays and seems just fine. I called the babysitter and told her mom about Ben's illness but they are not concerned about it. So we are still planning to go to a movie. I am excited!

I put the boys down for an early nap, since the babysitter (Katy) will be here at 2:00pm. I can put them down for their nap but, unfortunately, I can't make them go to sleep until they are ready:). I went up to see what they were up to, since I could hear them playing, and they were playing with their pants. They had taken them off (hence the duct tape on the diapers; otherwise they would have been off too) and were trying to get them back on so I confiscated them, much to their dismay. I was trying to take away the fun stuff so they would be bored and go to sleep. Luckily they kept their shirts on today, although I have seen Nick take that off too in the past. I think they finally went to sleep about 30 or 45 minutes after I put them down, which means they will definitely still be sleeping when Katy gets here.

Oh well. I will have some time to show her where everything is and she can get acquainted with the house stuff and the cats while the boys are sleeping.

Some dear friends stopped by today to bring the boys a birthday present. It is a set of play dishes and pots and pans. They have had so much fun with them.

Ben is so funny. He tends to have favorite toys and books and I think he feels they are his, although he doesn't know the word "mine" yet. He is now attached to a spatula that came with the toy dishes. He was carrying it around with him all over the house, from the time he found it amongst the dishes until it was time for nap. He was very sad that he had to leave it downstairs when he went up for nap. He was also upset when he had to lay it down on the floor while he ate lunch and he quickly got it again as soon as he finished lunch. He was the same way about the little wooden knife that came with the cut-able fruits and veggies, which is one reason why the dad made a new, second knife (also just so they could both play/cut veggies at the same time). Ben would freak out anytime Nick picked up the knife, even if he had not been playing with it. It's funny because Nick does not do this at all, except with his Ya Ya and Ben can even play with that at times without it bothering Nick (if Nick is not tired).

I mentioned in an earlier post that they are so much more aware of what's going on these days. I was having my hair highlights done on Thursday evening so the dad was home, fixing dinner for the boys. He said he was looking for the salt, which used to always be on the table but is now either on a shelf or near the stove, due to two little boys who can climb up on the chairs at the table now. Anyway, the dad didn't know that I was leaving the salt near the stove top sometimes and he was looking for it and thinking out loud "where's the salt". He said that Ben starting pointing to it and saying "there it is". Both boys say this phrase because of the peak-a-boo game (peak-a-boo, where's Ben/Nick, there he is) and also just from watching us hunt for something and then saying "there it is". Dad was very surprised that Ben knew where it was, what it was and could tell him!

I know I say this over and over but it is really just absolutely amazing to me how fast they learn.

November 10, 2007

Well, Ben woke up from his nap yesterday with a fever of 102 degrees. Poor little guy just wanted mommy to hold him and nothing else would do, even when daddy got home. Kids are amazing though and, after his Advil kicked in, he was playing and acting as if everything was perfectly normal. The boys are not up yet so I'm not sure what today will bring.

We decided to wait and see how he is feeling today before canceling the babysitter. I am hopeful that we will still get to go because, otherwise, it is going to be a very long weekend, with the dad on call at the hospital. What that means is that he has to go to the hospital and do rounds every morning for two weeks. It usually takes about half the day, or until around noon, if all goes well. If it is a weekday, he goes on to his office after that and may see patients or work on his research. If it is the weekend, he gets to come home. Some days he is also on call in the evenings, which means he normally gets a call every time they admit a new patient. Yesterday evening, he was in the middle of one of these calls while I was trying to get dinner on the table and Ben was very upset that I had to put him down for a few minutes. The dad tried to hold him but he quickly decided that only mom would do, probably because dad's attention was focused elsewhere. So I gave up on getting dinner ready and just sat and rocked Ben and the dad picked up where I left off when he got off the phone. I was happy to see that, by the time dinner was served, the medicine had kicked in and Ben was a happy little guy again and ready to join us for dinner.

I woke up during the night a couple of times, wondering how he was getting on, since his medicine wore off around midnight. He never cried out so I think he slept through the night OK.

In other news, we had a very fun play date yesterday with the mom and kids with whom we go to MOPS. We went to a wonderful park and then played at their house for a while, then lunch and home for a nap. Everyone got along very well so it was a very successful first play date at someone elses' house.

I hear the boys (Nick saying "brother, brother", trying to wake up Ben, as usual), so I had better go see what today will bring....and now I hear Ben and he is not crying...that's a good sign, right? Hopefully, hopefully he is feeling better.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

November 8, 2007 Part 2

The boys are talking so much now and I wanted to jot a few things down so I don't forget them. One of the cute things that I am seeing a lot now is that one of the boys will get on one of the ride-on toys and say to the other "brother, push". It is so cute. The other one will pretty much always run over to push, which actually sounds more like "pish". I always smile when I see/hear this. It is just too cute....priceless.

Another popular thing to say these days is "big truck". Every time we are driving somewhere, they always notice the "big truck" and sometimes "another" one and they point them out to me ("mommy?", "yes Nick/Ben", "big truck", "yes, that is a big truck, isn't it?"). I love that they are always saying "mommy?" to get me to see something or help with something or whatever.

Another favorite word is "help". They will come to me, saying "help, help" and showing me what they need help with. They are also learning many names of veggies, since we have the cut-able veggies now. They know "up" and "down", will request to be picked up or put down, and will point in the right direction when asked.

Another frequent invitation is "sit, sit" and then "read". They are learning a lot more verbs these days. They know walk, run and jump also and love to do all three but running and jumping are the best. They love trying to use the "handrail" and will try to say that word, although they usually end up just saying "rail".

They love their music and as soon as we get in the car they are saying "music, music". Between songs, they say "music, music" and, more and more, I hear them singing some of the words. It is so cute to hear them sing.

Ben knows letters A through F very well and picks up letters very quickly. With Nick it's hard to tell what he knows sometimes because he starts playing/joking around. He is quite the kidder. When they are in their cribs, just before or after napping, I will frequently hear Ben laughing at whatever Nick might be doing. I need to sneak a camera in there sometime and tape it.

They have this thing they say when they want to trade something (toy or book) or even to trade places. It sounds like a variation on their pronunciation of "another". One of them will start saying this and will repeat it over and over until the other one either joins in saying it, which means there is agreement on the trade, or starts whining this variation on "another", which means I don't want to give up what I have. The whining of this 'word' can become somewhat annoying and the one wanting to trade does not generally take it as a true no but will continue to try to force the trade. 99% of the time it is Ben wanting to trade and Nick not wanting to, when the disagreement on the trade occurs. So I have been trying to teach Nick to "just say no" if he doesn't want to trade. He will say it but I keep having to remind him. Hopefully it will catch on soon and he will do it on his own. I frequently have to tell Ben, "Nick does not want to trade with you right now", which he never wants to hear. The whole transaction is normally very amusing to watch though, except for the whining part when they don't agree.

Today we were at Walmart, shopping for groceries, and I decided, for the first time, to let them ride the little pony in the arcade area. They had never seen anyone else ride it so they had no idea what it was all about. Nick went first, since he is usually the one ready to try new things first. Ben was happy to watch him from the cart and they both had a smile on their faces. I warned Nick when the horse was about to quit moving and that it would be Ben's turn to ride...several times. He was still not very happy when his turn was over. I let them each ride the pony once and then they both rode the Dumbo the Elephant together once and then it was time to leave, which I also gave fair warning about. Ben was fine with this. Nick threw a fit because he did not want to leave. To be fair though, I think he was hungry and tired. He had not eaten very much of his snack before we left home and I think it was getting to him. After we got home and had eaten lunch, he was like a new kid. It's amazing what a little food can do.

We also had to go to Petco to buy some cat food. They love going into this store because we always take time to walk around and look at all of the animals, fish and birds. Today they had some rabbits, a kitten, and some turtles too. We had a nice morning of running errands. They really are such fun to be around and watch and interact with these days. I just love them to death.

Today for lunch I served them some brown beans for the first time, along with some mac and cheese and green beans. They really liked the brown beans a lot, which is great because it can be a wonderful, healthy substitute for meat sometimes. I will definitely be serving them more often. We have switched out our travel snacks too. We used to always put the goldfish crackers in their snack cups, when they needed to have a snack on the go. Now we are using my husband's Kashi cereal and the boys really like it. They also love raisins now and will actually chew them up, rather than just swallowing them whole, as they did the first time they had them. I am always on the look out for healthy foods that they will enjoy.

The bummer is that it gets harder and harder for me to sneak my peanut M&M's and potato chips as they get older:). Now I have to wait to have my chips until they are sleeping or let them have a few, which I do at times also. I still have yet to really find any foods that they don't like. They continue to amaze me with what they will eat and, so far, they will try anything. I know this can't last but I'm loving it for now.

Our duct tape solution for keeping diapers on is working beautifully. We have not had another diaper removal incident since we started this practice. It seems they cannot take off jeans but I still duct tape their diapers at nap time, just in case. It is getting colder here now so they are sleeping in their footie, blanket PJ's now (little kids look so cute in these jammies). The first thing they tried to do when we put them on was to unzip them, which is pretty easy. So now we put a small piece of duct tape over the zipper and it is pretty hard to get off. They have yet to get it off so we don't duct tape their diapers at night anymore, just the zipper on the jammies. I highly recommend this solution:).

November 8, 2007

OK, I finally did it! I have scheduled a babysitter for Saturday afternoon/evening. This will be the very first time we have left the boys with a babysitter. She is very sweet and she is one of their teachers in their class at church, as is her mom, who also homeschools her and her siblings. Her mom said that she (the babysitter) was so glad we called because she had been wanting to come and play with the boys for a while. They live fairly close to us so her mom is going to drop her off and then I will take her home afterwards. Believe it or not, when I asked her how much she charged for babysitting, she said whatever we wanted to pay her is fine and that she just really loves kids and was looking forward to playing with the boys. Isn't that sweet? I had to tell her that we are novices at this sort of thing and have no idea what the going rate is, so she said $7 or $8 an hour is usually what she receives.

She is going to come over at 2:00pm and we are planning to go to a 5:00 pm-ish movie. Unfortunately, I forgot that the boys are now normally napping from 1:00 to 3:00. I may just put them down a little earlier that day. I asked her to come early so she would have time to play with the boys a while before we leave. I know they will probably still cry when we leave but I really think they will have a fun time with her and I am feeling really good about this.

I know Nick just had a hard time, when we had Ben's surgery, but that was because he was left without Ben. I think they will do just fine, being left together.

Also, the MOPS place where I have been going is having a "kids night out" at the end of November, so that parents can have a shopping or date night. They have lots of fun things planned for the kids and it's $5 per child. My friend and I signed up and she and her husband and my husband and I are all going to go out to dinner together that night. So we will have two date nights in November:). That's not bad for a start.

My husband starts his hospital-on-call rotation today, which means that he will be working every day for the next two weeks, including weekends. Last night he didn't get home until after the boys went to bed, which hardly ever happens at our house, thankfully. I think that's only the second time that's happened since the boys came home last January.

If all goes well, I am planning to get them ready and take them to church by myself on Sunday. I have not done this before because I can't use the stroller and I have been concerned that they might just decide they don't want to go and sit down and throw a fit, or something like that. If they both start doing something, like wanting to be carried and falling apart that I can't carry them both at the same time, I will be in trouble. I am trusting that God wants us in church and that He will work it out. Lots of prayers:).

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

November 6, 2007 Part 5

I have wanted to be a stay at home mom for a long, long time. As mentioned in earlier posts, my husband and I met and married somewhat later in life, so I had plenty of time to wish, pray and hope for this to happen sometime in my life.

Before we moved to Oklahoma though, I worked and had a career. My degree is in Computer Science, from Syracuse University, which is how I ended up spending many years living in the northeastern U.S., before finally moving to Texas. I graduated from S.U. in 1987 and worked in the computer industry until December of 2005, which is when I quit my last job working for a financial firm in Houston.

When I quit my last job, I was managing around 30 or so people. Our group had the responsibility of developing and hosting web sites for our company. Our company had branches all over the world so the web sites were expected to be up and running 24 x 7 and it was very very visible if a web site went down for some reason. I enjoyed my job. It was fun most of the time, very challenging and also stressful at times.

Anyway, I had a friend who was also a manager of a group at the time. I have not stayed in touch with her but she was a mom to some young children at that time and she knew we were planning to adopt two children. She was quite surprised that I did not want to continue my career but would rather be a stay at home mom. She could have been a stay at home mom if she had so chosen but she loved her job and wanted to pursue her career. She thought I would be bored and would miss the work environment. She also thought my husband would be bored with me. That really surprised me, quite frankly. She said I would not have anything to talk to him about, except the kids.

For some reason, I woke up thinking about this this morning. I had not thought about this in ages so I'm not sure what made me think about it this morning. The thought I had though was that what my husband and I discuss now is really not that much different than what we used to discuss when I had that job. To me, being a manager was more of a people challenge than it was a computer science or technical challenge. The people who worked for me were really smart people and they were more up to date on the latest and greatest web stuff than I was. I relied on them for their expertise in their various areas of knowledge. The fact that I had done development work before and had been a project manager of many projects over the years was important in my role as a technical manager. It helped me (hopefully) to make wise decisions, when I had to make a call, based on what my managers were telling me. But the biggest challenge of my job as a manager was people relations, including maintaining a good relationship with those who worked for me, helping to resolve issues between team members when people did not see eye to eye, listening to concerns and helping to resolve them when possible, listening to career objectives and providing advice when asked, etc.

I woke up this morning thinking about this and my thought was that the conversations with my husband are not all that different than they would have been if I was still in my last job. I still talk to him about lots of people management stuff:). Now it is about how Ben and Nick are getting along, how I am getting along with them, what I am learning as a mom and child of God, what the boys are learning, etc. I find it all very interesting and am normally reading something about either child rearing or home schooling. (Actually, right now I have taken time off reading about children to read War and Peace by Tolstoy and I am really enjoying it:). My husband seems very interested in what I am doing and reading and we talk about it and the boys a lot. I think he is just as interested in hearing about the boys as I am in talking about them. More importantly, I know he feels it is important for me to be here with them and he is thankful that I am committed to it. He is also very happy that I am committed to home schooling them.

My husband and I are partners. He is just as much concerned and interested in our boys' well being as I am and I am thankful for that. He is currently reading Raising a Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis, which is an excellent book about what it means to be a man and how can fathers instill that in their sons. (I picked it up yesterday and read a little bit of it, just to see what it was about. It is so good that I am still reading it!) I am very thankful that he is as interested as I am in our boys' lives. I don't think either of us will ever be bored with what we are doing.

I, for one, do not miss the corporate world at all. I never have, even during the year before the boys came home. After working in the corporate world for so many years, being out of it makes me feel like a kid who just graduated from high school or college. It is a very freeing feeling. For the longest time, I felt like a kid skipping school; like I should be somewhere I'm not. I have been out of it now for almost two years and still feel this freeing feeling very strongly. Just the thought that I can decide what I want to do today is such a wonderful feeling. It still amazes me:). Another thing is that I am no longer in a rush all the time. When I had a job outside of the home, I was always in a hurry, probably because I didn't have much free time.

So I am very very thankful that we are able to allow me to stay home and raise our boys full time. I know there are many out there who would love to be able to do this and cannot and there are others who love having a career. For me, there was never a question. I feel called by God to do this, just as I feel called to home school. I am honored to be allowed to do this, I am thankful to have a husband who shares my dreams and goals in life and I am, truly, living my dream (as previously mentioned in an earlier post), thanks be to God:).

November 6, 2007 Part 4

As mentioned in an earlier post, we met at my sister's house on Saturday for an early celebration on Nick's birthday. Last year, we had just left Russia after having met our sons for the first time, just before Nick's birthday. I could never have imagined what my life would be like a year later. It really just gets better every day.

Here is a picture of the boys, sweeping the floor with their new brooms. My mom got them both a broom for Nick's birthday. Unfortunately, I usually end up having to take them away from them after a short period of time because they want to use them for purposes for which they were not intended. I'm sure you can imagine.

This is a picture of a puzzle that also provides practice of buttoning, zipping, lacing, snapping and also buckling. This was actually suppose to be for three year olds and up. Since both of their birthdays fall so close to Christmas, I have tried to get them some things that they won't outgrow too soon:).

Next is a picture of the cut-able fruit and veggies, which are from Melissa and Doug, as is the teddy bear puzzle. Ben especially loves loves loves this toy and gets very upset if Nick picks up the knife, even if he was not playing with it to begin with. The dad made a new "knife" out of a paint stirring stick (also pictured below) and they are very happy with this solution.

Nick also received an airport set, which included a really neat little airplane that makes a noise (a quiet noise, thankfully), a helicopter, the airport tower, a little motorcycle with a side car and several little people. It is very cute and they have already figured out how to take part of the airplane apart:). Unfortunately, I didn't get around to taking a picture of it, but at least I have described it, for the record:).

This is what the fruits and veggies normally looks like, since they (mostly Ben) cut it apart again, as soon as I can put it together.

November 6, 2007 Part 3

I sang the "trick-or-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat" song to the boys, as we were walking from house to house on Halloween night:).

Here are a couple of pictures of the boys trick-or-treating. They had a great time and very quickly got the idea of the whole thing.

When we first left the house, they didn't know what their pumpkin baskets were for and Ben even started to leave without his. After the first house, you couldn't pry those pumpkin baskets out of their little sticky fingers (except, of course, when they got tired of carrying them and wanted us to do it:). I think we went to about 5 different houses. It turns out that our neighborhood is not ideal for trick-or-treating. The houses are further apart and then many of them did not have their lights on, which made the walk between houses that much further for short little legs. We also have some good size hills in our neighborhood. I was a bit disappointed at how many homes didn't have their lights on though. But the boys still had a fun time and they were ready to stop after about the fifth house, which worked out well for us.

November 6, 2007 Part 2

OK, here is the catch up post I talked about this morning. First, a couple of pictures regarding Ben's surgery.

Here is a picture of his "boo boo". It still has the tape on it from the day of the surgery. They said it will eventually come off by itself, over time. It is starting to curl around the edges so I would imagine in a week or so it will be gone. The dark line underneath the tape is mostly dried blood, since there are no stitches on the surface of his face.

Here is a picture of "bear", also sometimes known as "Ya Ya". They put a name band on him also, so he could go with Ben into surgery and be with him when he woke up. I think little Bear was a comfort to him, while we were at the hospital.

A little story about the Ya Ya's:
The first Ya Ya, purchased at a grocery store in Volgograd Russia, has mysteriously disappeared and I suspect Mr. Ben might have put it in the trash. He has this habit of "hiding" things and likes to stuff all kinds of toys and books down in the edges of chairs, sofas and baskets. The second Ya Ya, which is now the "real" Ya Ya, was originally purchased at the local Tuesday Morning for Ben, since Nick had taken ownership of Ya Ya #1. By the time Ya Ya #1 disappeared, #1 and #2 were interchangeable between Nick and Ben. Just before #2 disappeared (temporarily, but around the same time that #1 disappeared), I purchased Ya Ya #3, which is also known as "Bear" and is pictured above. #2 is now Nick's and he has not accepted #3 as a true "Ya Ya", but only calls him "Bear". Ben accepts any "Ya Ya" or "Bear" and uses both names for #3. Fortunately, #2 was found soon after #3 came home.

Not long after #3 was bought and #1 had disappeared, we had just put the boys down for the night. We had searched for #2 before we went up to bed but could not find him. We went up anyway and thought #3 would be fine. Ben normally just throws his anyway and does not really sleep with it. Nick, on the other hand, really likes to sleep with his and gets upset if it is gone, as we were soon to find out. Ben and Nick were playing with Ya Ya #3, throwing it back and forth between their cribs, and as we were getting ready to leave the room Nick had it with him in his crib. When he saw we were leaving the room, he started crying, saying "Ya Ya". We pointed at #3, which he was holding, and told him "you have Ya Ya", "that's Ya Ya". He promptly chucked #3 towards the door, yelling "Ya Ya". This is the night that it became clear that Nick did not recognize #3 as a true Ya Ya. The only thing I have ever heard Nick call #3 is "Bear", although Ben calls him by both names.

November 6, 2007

The only one at our house who recognizes the recent time change is my husband. The boys are I are all still on our old schedule. I am moving towards the new schedule faster than the boys though and that's not a good thing. So today, I got up earlier and got moving, since I know the boys will be awake much earlier than their normal 8:00.

I have a lot of catching up to do on posting. I have yet to post about our trick-or-treating adventures, since I was busy posting about Ben's surgery. (He is doing great, by the way. Most of the time he is not aware of the "boo boo" on his face and he hardly ever touches it.) I also have to post about Nick's little birthday party that we had on Saturday at my sister's house.

I woke up this morning, thinking about a conversation I had with another manager at work, before I quit my job, regarding stay at home mom's VS career mom's. I need to jot down some of these thoughts too, because it was a new perspective (to me) and kind of interesting. It's funny that I would wake up thinking about this, since I quit my job such a long time ago now (two years in December).

With that little preview, I must run, as I have a MOPS meeting this morning. I will post again later.

Friday, November 02, 2007

November 2, 2007 Part 2

I was going to post a couple of pictures today but blogger is not allowing it right now so I will do it later. We have not taken any pictures of Ben's face after the surgery. We need to do that sometime today, for the record:).  It is actually very hard to tell how big the actual cut was right now. The tape should come off on it's own, sometime over the next week or so. The only stitches are inside and they will dissolve on their own. We have to take him back for a check up on Wednesday. He has been doing great today; no signs of pain or anything. His surgeon called today to see how he was doing, which I thought was very nice. He also said if we have any concerns over the weekend to call him.

Today has been amazing, considering how yesterday went. I decided this morning to let all housework go today and focus 100% on the boys. They have played on me and we have read books and more books. It has been a very mellow day and they really have been very good. It's like night and day, compared to yesterday. Of course yesterday I was also tired and stressed so I'm sure that didn't help matters.

We are going to celebrate Nick's birthday with my sister's family tomorrow, since they will be away on the actual weekend of his birthday. We just decided this a couple of hours ago. So, after the boys finished eating lunch, we went out to order the cake. I was expecting a difficult time, since it was really time for their nap. But we made three stops, including looking at toys at Walmart and Toys R Us, and they both behaved really well. It was a fast-paced shopping trip so that helped.

I can't believe it is already so close to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I am very excited for the holidays this year. It will be fun to share with the boys.