Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 29, 2008

We ended up having our babysitter (Katy) come over for 3 hours, late Sunday afternoon. She is so good with the boys and it is nice that they get to see her for an hour on Sunday mornings, as she helps in their toddler class.

I wasn't sure how they would do when we left, since Ben cried when we dropped them at their class that morning at Church (Nick opened the door, marched right in and made himself at home - he is such an extrovert:).

When we were preparing to leave, they were sitting at the kitchen island, eating their afternoon snack. They had not been awake very long. We had to wake them from their nap at 4:00pm because we didn't want them to wake up to find us gone. Katy was sitting between them and reading to them. They really enjoy being read to while they eat and I have gotten to where I read to them a lot during snacks and meals other than dinner.

I explained to them that we were going for a little while and would be back and they were going to stay and play with Katy. They gave us a bye bye kiss and waved and blew kisses to us and did not have any problem at all. Not one tear.

I had prepared an activity for them that I thought would be fun. I filled two ice trays with water. In one of the ice trays, I put a drop of food coloring in each cube and stirred it a little. In the other, I put a little plastic man or animal in each cube. Katy let the boys play at the kitchen sink, which they love to do, and they got to play with the ice and watch it melt. The ice that had food coloring changed the color of the water in the sink as it melted and they were able to see the men and animals through the ice but not touch them until the ice melted. She said they really enjoyed it. I had read about this in a book on Saturday, when I was looking around at this teacher's supply store. It was a great activity for the boys because they seem to be fascinated with ice.

I think the boys probably had more fun than we did. We went to a movie and we did not research it beforehand. Big mistake. I hate scary movies and this one was scary to me. There was a couple in front of us who brought their little two year old boy with them to see this movie. I just couldn't believe it. I think that is the ultimate in either stupidity or selfishness or both. I was covering my eyes and ears during half of the movie and it was very loud...even when I covered my ears, I could still hear what was going on. I can't even imagine taking my kids to a movie like that. I think if our sons were to see/hear anything like that, they would be really scared and crying. This little boy did not cry and I don't think he fell asleep. Makes me wonder what they have on their TV at home in front of him. Poor kid. I felt sorry for him. As for us, we won't make that mistake again. What a waste.

Here are some recent pics:
Here is Nick, sitting in the "mail box" with Dancer-the-cat. Dancer was there first and I was surprised that he didn't jump out when Nick squeezed in next to him. Yesterday, Ben sat down in the box and couldn't get out. I'm not sure if he sat down in it on purpose or if he fell. I watched from the doorway, as Nick put out his hand to help Ben out of the box (as I had done with Nick in the past) but I don't think Ben understood what Nick was doing. I had to go rescue the boy. It was funny.

Since it has been so cold outside, I have been trying to think of an indoor way to simulate playing with cars and trucks in the dirt but I have not found a solution yet. Here I let the boys put the beans on large cookie sheets and plow them with their trucks, but it wasn't as good as playing in dirt outside. I'm still thinking about this. If you have any ideas, let me know.

The firemen and policemen are making a regular appearance at our house these days, in addition to a couple of cowboys. The boys have been having a good time with dressing up and they still like pushing their shopping carts around. They have also turned their shopping carts upside down and every which way....what is about boys taking things apart?

The boys both love to tear things (newspaper, magazines, tissues, etc.) into tiny pieces. Ben also just seems to have a knack for breaking things and tearing up books, after which he will normally look at me and say "woops" and want me to fix it. He's got the innocent destruction thing down pat.

I'm not sure if I mentioned that Ben's repeat surgery was moved out a week. He has a dr. appt. on Wednesday to see how the first one has healed and, if everything is ok (the amount of scar tissue) then he has this second (and hopefully last) surgery on Thursday. My sister and mom are planning to spend the night with us on Wednesday and take care of Nick on Thursday while we are at the hospital with Ben. I am hopeful that this time Nick will handle the separation better but we'll see. I have been praying for Ben and dreading this. I will be glad to get it over with.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 23, 2008

One year ago today we arrived home from Russia with our two sons. Wow how time flies and things change so quickly. It seems like they have always been with us and I can't imagine our lives without them. Our sons are precious and we thank God that we have been given the opportunity to raise them.

Here are some pictures from our first couple of weeks home. It is hard to believe they were such babies and so small, only one year ago.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

January 22, 2008

I just put the boys down for their nap and, in doing so, experienced a reality check that I am living on borrowed time. Nick has been climbing up on his crib for a while now, trying to get in on his own. Today, after I put him in his crib and was rubbing Ben's back, I turned around to Nick saying "mommy, down", while trying to get his foot over the side of the crib. I stopped him before he really had a chance to see if he could do it, telling him that he couldn't get down because it was nap time, but I have a feeling if he really tried, he may be able to do it....if not, he is very very close. Bummer. I was hoping that we could keep them in their cribs for another 6 or 8 months. I guess we'll see. I have a feeling that, one of these days soon, we may wake up to find him in our room with us.

Ben is very close to being able to sing the alphabet song. He sings part of it and he pretty much learned it from the Leap Frog alphabet game thingy that we have on the fridge. He loves that thing. They both do but Ben plays with it more often, as well as the alphabet and number puzzles. The puzzles have also been a big factor with Ben learning the alphabet and numbers.

I went to Tuesday Morning yesterday in search for more difficult puzzles because they can work most of their puzzles fairly easily. Tuesday Morning had lots of Melissa & Doug puzzles for $5 each. I got these:

I love the hands puzzle (shown with and without pieces). I had never seen one of those before. I also got one of these large floor puzzles and some small jigsaw-type puzzles

I found these puzzles on the internet when I was shopping for Christmas presents for the boys. I thought they were full size puzzles and was disappointed when they arrived and I saw how small they were. After thinking about it for a little while, I decided they were actually quite cute and were great stocking stuffers so I kept them. The boys really liked them so I am glad I decided to keep them.

This is a puzzle that I had gotten at Tuesday Morning just before Christmas. I thought it was a little unusual and really thought it would take the boys quite a while to be able to do it. They are already getting pretty good at it, although they still need a little help.

I was cleaning up after lunch the other day and looked up to see this:

Isn't that sweet?

Here is a funny picture of Ben. He was half fireman and half cowboy and his fireman hat was on backwards. I cracked up when he walked in like this while I was fixing a meal. Can you tell that I keep the camera handy?

And here are two (not very good) family pictures of us. They were an after thought, in case you couldn't tell. I could not find the document that described the pictures we were to include in our post placement report but I was thinking that we needed one with all of us in it together. So, on our way out of the house to go to church last week, I grabbed the camera and then we asked someone in the children's department to snap our picture real quick. Next time, I will have to plan ahead a little.

We ended up staying in most of the weekend, nursing colds and resting (as much as possible, with two two-year-olds running around:), so not much new to report around here lately. It has been very very cold and yesterday it also drizzled. The dad was off work yesterday so we had a three day weekend, which was nice. The boys have been wanting to go outside and play though and, with colds and the very cold weather, I have not wanted them to. I am going to either have to wrap them up and let them go out or take them somewhere to let them play. They are starting to get restless.

Ben was scheduled for his repeat surgery on Thursday but it has been moved out one week, as his surgeon had an out of state emergency.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 16, 2008

We have been staying busy with play dates, visits from my mom and sister, MOPS and visits from other friends. Today the boys and I made the long trip to OKC for apostilles for our second set of post placement reports. The boys were so good on the trip. I could not have asked for better behavior. I was so proud of them, and this from two little boys who were not feeling great, since we are all coming down with colds. And, I didn't even take the dvd system with us. I just packed a bunch of books and a few small toys in a bag and put it between them on a pillow, so they could reach it. Between that and their snack cup, they stayed busy and content the entire trip to OKC. For the return trip, I put the bag of books/toys in the trunk because I was hoping they would go to sleep. They played with anything they could reach, they took off their shoes and socks, talked to each other and pointed out every big truck, before Nick finally fell asleep. After seeing that Ben was clearly not going to fall asleep in time to get in a half-way decent nap on the way home, I handed him two books that were still in the diaper bag. He had been amusing himself just fine, talking to himself and looking out the window but he was happy to get the books.
I still need to mail the reports tomorrow, after which we only have two left to do (January of 2009 and January of 2010) and then no more reporting to anyone. That is something to look forward to, although I really don't want the next two years to go by very fast because my little sons are growing up way to fast already.

My mom and sister came for a visit yesterday and stayed with the boys while I went to my MOPS meeting. Both boys happily gave me a kiss and said 'goodbye' and 'see ya' as I left. They love staying and playing with Aunt Kathy and MaMa (pronounced mawmaw). They get so excited when they know they are coming for a visit. It warms my heart:).

After we got home from OKC today, Nick and I were sitting at the kitchen island, while he was eating his snack. Ben was sleeping, since he had not slept in the car on the way back. Nick took a one hour nap in the car. I had hoped he would go back to sleep in his crib but, alas, no such luck. So I was sitting next to him and reading to him, while he ate his snack (at his request:). I keep a devotions for toddlers book in that spot just for such an occasion so I was reading to him from it. One of the devotions was about being thankful and it said something about saying 'thank you God'. Right after I read it, Nick patted me on the shoulder and said 'thank you God' several times. Very cute.

He and Ben have both gotten to where they will sometimes close their eyes, bow their heads and say their own little prayers, after their daddy finishes praying at bedtime. It is really sweet.

What a cute age. Maybe we just aren't quite there yet but, so far, I am just not seeing the 'terrible twos'. Someone told me that when her son hit two and a half, it was like someone flip a switch and he really changed, wanting to be more independent. So, maybe we just aren't there yet. They each have their moments but, then again, so do I:). If anything, I feel that I am seeing more concern and compassion between them, for each other and also for me. It is such a wonderful thing to see.

This evening, Nick was finished with dinner shortly before Ben so he got down from the table first. Before dinner, they had been reading books with their dad. Ben is really hung up on the Goodnight Moon book right now and he was not too happy that he had to put it down so he could eat. I got this book the other day for $2 or $3 at the used bookstore (I really like that place and I have been trading in a lot of our books that we have decided we don't want or need any longer.) Ben just loves this book and wants to read it all the time. Before Ben got down from the table, he had already been saying "night night moon", "night night moon", because he wanted to read it again after he finished eating. Nick had heard Ben saying this and, of course, since he got down first, he ran over and got the book first and he brought it back over by the table and was looking at it in front of Ben. Ben was not too happy about this situation and was complaining a bit, while I was wiping his hands and face. I told Nick that it would be very nice of him to let Ben have the book, or something to that effect. He promptly took it to Ben and put it in his hands nicely and then ran away to play with something else, without any sort of objection. I was so pleased with him and let him know that was a very nice thing to do. They are both such sweet little boys.

These days, I spend more time than I prefer feeling tired and there are plenty of days when I wish I had a bit more personal time. But I must say, overall this is by far the best, most favorite 'job' I have ever had in my entire life. I love being a mom and I especially love being a stay at home mom. I hope and pray that I can be a good home schooler mom. I know God still has a lot of work to do on me, in order for me to be a good home schooler mom. I trust he will do it though, since I feel He has called me to do this.

Now for the pics:

Boys and their sticks and rocks, I love it!. Note that they have put their sticks and rocks on plates and are pretending they are food. How cute is that?

Here is a tent that was a Christmas present for the boys from my brother, sister-in-law and niece. They have had so much fun with it (so do the cats). I may have mentioned that the dad set the tent up in his office:).

And here is our first experience with finger painting. OK, I know you are laughing because I covered everything up except for their heads:). Yes, I am somewhat anti-mess but I am trying to loosen up.

Here is Nick, the fireman. They love it when I say, "oooo, that water is cold!" and run away.

And Ben in the policeman's hat, holding a bumble bee. I'm not quite sure what the connection is but I'm sure he has it all figured out.

Don't you just love the pajama look?

And, last but not least, a few more "yee haw" moments to brighten your day.

See ya!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

January 10, 2008

I seem to be hearing more funnies from Nick these days than from Ben. Nick tends to be the one coming up with the 'first time' words and phrases, for now. He is a bit more talkative, so maybe that is why, as I think they are both pretty much at the same level with their vocabs.

I was changing Ben's diaper the other day and Nick was sitting on the couch next to me, quietly looking at an alphabet book. This book has one letter on each page, along with pictures of things that start with that letter. He was looking at the 'G g' page, as he pointed to it and said "Mama Rilla?", "Mama Rilla?".

Grandma Rilla is my 96 year old grandmother (my dad's mom). My mom's grandkids call her "mama" (pronounced mawmaw), so Nick developed his own adaptation and now calls Grandma Rilla "Mama Rilla".

Back to the alphabet book. I looked at the page he was pointing to, the 'G g' page and saw nothing there that reminded me of Grandma Rilla, yet he was still pointing to and saying "Mama Rilla"? I told him that I was not sure what he was talking about and asked him to show me. He put his finger on......wait for it.......the gorilla! I cracked up laughing and explained to him the difference between the words "Grandma Rilla" and "gorilla".

I thought it was pretty clever though, since we have not looked at that book in quite a while, even when we do look at it, we usually don't get very far into the alphabet before they are ready for another book, we don't cover every picture on the pages we do look at and, last but not least, 'gorilla' is not an every day word in our household and I can't think of another book that we have that has gorillas in it. So there is no telling how long it has been since we covered the word gorilla and we probably have not covered it very often. I WISH I had the kind of memory that little kids have! They are amazing. But, mostly, it was just a very funny moment:).

Another day, Nick was sitting in his booster seat at the kitchen island. Having just finished his oatmeal for breakfast, he pushed his chair back, saying "done". Then he realized he had spilled a small blob of oatmeal on his booster seat, next to his leg. He was holding up his leg so it wouldn't touch the oatmeal, looking at me and saying, "help". I said, "can you pick it up and put it back in your bowl?". He looked at it, looked back at me, shook his head no and said "yucky". This is the word I use when I am telling them not to touch something that is yucky, such as the cat's litter box.

Another day, Nick and Ben sitting in their booster seats at the kitchen island, almost done eating lunch. I had been sitting between them, reading to them while they ate. As Ben was finishing up, I started teasing him about giving me a kiss. Nick wanted me to do it to him too so I was going back and forth between them. Nick was turning his head the other direction and leaning away from me laughing and, just as clear as day, said "no way!". I was so surprised because this is not something he learned from us. I am guessing he learned it from my two nieces who were visiting us recently.

Nick is typically very compassionate towards Ben, when Ben is not happy about something and is crying. It depends on the situation though. The other day, Ben was crying about something he wanted and had not gotten his way about and Nick looked at him and said, "brother, hush", "brother, hush". The funny thing is that Ben hushed up pretty quick after that.

Yesterday we had our first exercise in finger painting and it went very well. The boys were not to overly thrilled with having paint all over their fingers though and kept wanting me to wipe them off. I think they would probably enjoy using a brush more but we'll see. We still have a lot of finger paint left so maybe they will be more into it the next time. The odd thing is that, since this is "finger paint", my assumption was that it would wash off easily with soap and water. Wouldn't you think? Nope.

I failed to post about the day, a couple of months ago, I decided to let the boys play with food coloring. I thought they would find it interesting to see how it changes the color of water. So we had several cups of water in clear glasses and I was putting the coloring in and letting them stir it. Then I was helping them to hold and squirt the coloring into the cups and one of the boys grabbed and squeezed the food coloring bottle while I was still holding it upright and it went EVERYWHERE....and it was red so it looked like someone had been severely hurt in my kitchen. The bigger mistake though was that I did not do a test before hand and I thought that food coloring washed off easily. It was not my brightest moment, as a mom, and I learned a few lessons that day.....but we had fun:).

Have I mentioned that this is my favorite 'job' of all time? I love being a stay at home mom.

Our second post placement report is almost ready to go to OKC for the apostille. I am thinking of going on Monday or Tuesday.

Monday, January 07, 2008

January 7, 2008

Our sons are doing wonderfully. Nick is still the big talker, the extrovert and the one is who always ahead, from a gross motor skills perspective. He turned two on November 11. He climbs everything, jumps, kicks a ball, runs very fast and can run down the upstairs hallway, climbing the two small steps along the way, without even slowing down.

Ben is more sensitive and can have his feelings hurt easier; he is slower to warm up to new people but really does enjoy being around people once he gets to know them and he is a very quick study when it comes to learning the alphabet, numbers, shapes and stuff like that. He turned two years old on September 30th and he already recognizes all of the letters of the alphabet and numbers 0 through 10, although he does not know them in order, and many colors and shapes.

Of course, Nick knows some letters, numbers, shapes and colors too and Ben can climb and run but the areas above is where each of them really excel right now.

We have a wooden alphabet puzzle that both the boys absolutely love, although they are not quite at the age where they will stick with it and do the entire puzzle in one sitting. If I am cheerleading and they are both doing it together, they will sometimes finish it in one sitting. We have a lot of puzzles and they are getting pretty good at them. I think they are great for helping them to learn to keep trying and control their frustration level if they can't get it right away. For Christmas, they received the Leap Frog alphabet thingy that you put on the fridge. When they put a letter in it, it sings a little song that includes the letter name and phonic sounds. It is really great and they love it and play with it every day.

I don't know if I mentioned that I created a poster board that has a number, letter, shape and color. We switch it out every week or two and they enjoy that too.

They are both talking all the time these days....I mean, they almost never shut up:). Nick talks more but they both do their share. I wish I had a nickel for every time they say "mommy". I would already be a very wealthy person. Everything is mommy this and mommy that. They want me to acknowledge everything they see, say or do and, of course, I love it (most of the the time anyway:). I love that they are understanding so much these days and can be reasoned with, at times anyway. They have their moments but, for the most part, they are very well behaved little boys, especially when we are out and about. We have received many compliments from waitresses, during our Sunday lunches. They are also enjoying their class at church more these days. I have a feeling that the small chocolate bribe has helped to turn this into a more anticipated event. I plan to keep this up for another few weeks or a month or so and then start tapering it off.

They love to boss the cats around these days ("Zoe, get down", "Dancer, no no") and each other ("brother, no no"). Their vocabularies have grown so quickly that I can no longer keep up with everything they are saying. Since their speech is that of two-year-old clarity, I sometimes don't understand what they are saying now days. When their vocabs were smaller, I pretty much always knew what they were saying because I knew what words they understood and which ones they didn't. They have long since outpaced me and I sometimes can't figure out what they are saying these days. They frequently use two and three words sentences now.

The other day, I was in the library/playroom, getting on to Ben for something he should not have been doing, while Nick was in the next room sitting at the kitchen island finishing his snack. Out of the blue, I heard him saying "mommy, I wuv you". As with everything he says, he continued to say it until I heard him and acknowledged it. It was very sweet and quite a surprise to me that he said it on his own, without some type of bedtime or snuggling context. Very sweet

The boys are pretending more and more these days. One of their favorite things to pretend is that they are going night night. I'll be in the kitchen preparing a meal or cleaning up and I will hear them in the next room "brother, night night", "brother, night night". I'll look in to see one of them lying on the small couch and the other one covering him with a blanket, giving him a kiss and patting his back. And then they trade places and do it all over again. It is really cute.

The other day, I was changing Nick's diaper. They had both been playing with this monkey that is made of hard plastic. Ben whacked Nick on the head with the monkey, which definitely hurt, and Nick started crying. While rubbing Nick's boo boo and empathizing with him, I was explaining to Ben that he had hurt his brother. Ben was clearly surprised and felt bad that he had hurt Nick and he kissed Nick on the head several times, with no prompting from me. After everyone was OK again, we had a lesson of what 'hard' and 'soft' mean. I probably need to cover that again a few times before they forget. It was sweet to see Ben's response though.

We had beautiful, warm weather here this weekend so the boys were able to get outside and play a lot. Nick's rash has mostly cleared up now. We are putting the steroid cream on it and we moved an additional humidifier to their room, which has made a huge difference. It has been two months since Ben had his surgery on his face to remove a mole. Later this month he goes back for the repeat performance (NOT looking forward to that).

I am working on our second post placement report, which is due at the end of January. Our one year anniversary is coming up soon. We came home from Russia with the boys on January 23rd of last year. It's hard to believe it has been one year. It seems that they have always been with us.

Well, today is the day when life after the holidays finally returns to normal for us. The dad went back to work today, after being off for the past two weeks. It was nice to have him here. The three of us are not going to know what to do without him:)....especially me, since the boys are taking a shorter nap these days, I am not getting as much of a break and they are probably going to miss all of the one-on-one time with the dad.

They are awake. Duty calls, and oh what a sweet voice he has:).

Friday, January 04, 2008

January 4, 2008

We took our Christmas tree down early this year. I may have mentioned that we had such a beautiful Christmas tree this year. It was one of the prettiest trees I think I have ever seen, although I'm might be a bit biased:).

The boys were very intrigued by it. They wanted the lights on all the time and found it disconcerting when we turned them off as we were getting ready to leave the house or preparing for bedtime. They loved touching the bulbs and lights and pointing to the various ornaments.

Unfortunately they were not very gentle with it and it was losing needles fast. Every time it was bumped or touched, more needles fell off. The cats would walk under it and brush branches with their backs and needles would go everywhere. I found several balls stuck in the tree and up pretty high actually (the boys are getting pretty good at throwing these days:). The needles would get tracked all over the house, even though we swept them up at least once a day.

Then there came the evening that I was in the bedroom, taking a short break and relaxing for a bit, while the boys played with the dad. It was probably only one or two days after Christmas. By the way, have I mentioned that the dad is not the multi-tasking sort, but focuses extremely well on one task at a time? It seems he was focusing on something in his office while the boys played with some of their new toys.

I remember hearing something in the background, as I relaxed in my room and read a book or blog or something. I remember hearing the boys playing and laughing in the living room. But I wasn't paying much attention beyond that. The next thing I remember hearing was the dad saying "hey, you guys, what are you doing??!" "Stop that!" I was not sure what had happened but I heard the dad cleaning up.

Turns out the boys had been having a ball, beating the Christmas tree with their new stick horses....and not with the stick end but with the stuffed head end of the stick horse. They did quite a number on the tree. I could actually see right through the middle of it. All of the branches they could reach were all hanging downward, towards the ground, and ornaments were on the floor or hanging underneath branches that were knocked downward. It was quite a sight.....and this was after the dad had finished cleaning it up, as much as possible.

My sister got the biggest laugh out of this and was wishing we had it on video. I'm glad I am not the one who discovered them beating the tree with the stick horses. I probably would not have taken it very well, since I spent a lot of time decorating it. Since it happened on the dad's watch, I ended up finding it kind of funny and the further we get from the scene of the crime, the funnier it gets:). Yee Haw!!

Nick's rash got much worse and started spreading so we took him to the doctor. There were four doctors in the room and none of them were real sure what it was. We took him to a dermatologist the next morning (yesterday) and he said he thinks it is a dry skin type of rash (I can't remember the name he gave it). Soooooo, we have ointment to put on it twice a day and we are suppose to try to avoid any water contact with his skin, as much as possible.

We are not of the mind that children of this age need to take a bath every night, much to our doctor's surprise. Apparently, this is a very common thing now days but my sister never did that with young children and I think it is a lot of extra work that is not necessary. Our normal schedule for giving the boys their baths is Wednesdays and Saturdays, but we do more in the summer if they have been playing outside and getting dirty. Our doctor thought that was perfect and spent some time telling us how bad it is for our skin to take daily baths. So, the times we really have to be careful now are when we wash up around meals and brush teeth before bedtimes.

I moved our humidifier to the boys' room, so now they have two going when they sleep. I really think this is helping a lot. Nick woke up this morning looking so much better. The dad is investigating the humidifier systems that hook into the central heat/air system and we are now thinking this would be a good investment for our family.

My husband and I both suffer from multiple cracked finger tips and heels during the winter months. I usually end up with at least two cracked finger tips a week and they are so painful. I also think generally it will be healthier for all of us to have the right level of humidity in our home, since we spend so much time here. I will not miss having to fill up several humidifiers every evening and I definitely won't miss the cracked finger tips.