Sunday, July 31, 2011

Picture of the Week - July 31

I had to post this because:

a) All four children are looking at the camera (a 1 in 100 probability)

b) All four children are (somewhat) smiling SIMULTANEOUSLY ( a 1 in 100,000 probability)

AND there were no bribes involved in the taking of this picture.

You may now refer to me as Mrs. Child Photographer Extraordinaire.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Phone Pic Dump

I'm like most other moms on the planet in that I never have my camera on me when I need to take a picture. Therefore, I usually rely on my phone to take pictures in a pinch. Usually I'm taking a picture of something I find hilarious (so I can send it to friends and family) or a cute picture of the kids. I downloaded a bunch of them recently and thought I would share.

Warning: These picture are in no order and there is no cohesiveness between them. Such is my state of mind today (and most of the past week, in fact).

Here are some shots from when I was obsessed with the Colorsplash app on my phone. I'm guessing they have apps for everything these days but this one fed my obsessions for a good month or so.

Our children's museum has a grocery store section complete with tiny grocery carts that the kids can "shop" with. Here's Sam's cart once he was done shopping ...

Yup. Three links (more like loaves, they were the size and length of my lower arm) of sausage and every single pastry, tart, and dessert from the bakery aisle. Oh, and he threw in a piece of bread and a can of vegetables just to round out the food groups. After seeing this I no longer had any doubts that he is his father's son. Meats and sweets, baby.

Seen while I was in the drive-thru ...

I'm curious about how exactly this would work (small biscuit with overly large breast of chicken inside), but don't think that's gonna stop me from asking about it.

I love Target. I love going there late at night without kids so I can roam the aisles and fill my cart with things like overly large and colorful plastic tubs (because WHO KNOWS when I may need one, they're so versatile) or ceramic piggy banks in every color and design imaginable (it's never too early to teach kids the value of a dollar). But what I think I love the most about Target is the dollar section. I hit that section like a junkie looking for a fix as soon as I enter the store and usually come away with some good items. But one trip, I came across something that shamed me. Something that made me question my loyalty to Target. Something that made me wonder just what kind of establishment are they running here?

Don't second guess yourself - it's fake poop. And even worse ... it's crappy (pun intended) fake poop because it's in the dollar section! C'mon Target! If I'm actually gonna spring for some fake poop then I'm going to spend a few bucks to make sure it at least looks realistic! (Actually I would never spring for fake poop because I have a preponderance of the real thing in my house. Don't cross mama or you may have some coming your way one day ...)

Luke is constantly in motion so he often tends to get photographed with the phone. Here he is about to jump the rail enjoying the view at the beach.

And here he is prepping for his first motorcycle ride.

RELAX. What kind of parents do you think we are? We only let him drive around the block once or twice.

The self-portraits are constant now. This one (by Adah) was my favorite because it came complete with a bow.

And finally, here's a shot of our recent trip to the fire station. But my kids didn't want their picture taken in front of the firetruck. Because that would be normal. Nope, my kids wanted their picture in front of this ...

The EMS truck (AKA, the "andulance"). Yeah, my kids like dull, boring, boxy white vehicles (they LOVE the mail truck) as opposed to the ones with all the fun bells and whistles. But on the bright side, that probably easily predicts their future automobile desires. I'll have the only teenagers on the block begging for a Buick sedan as opposed to an SUV.

There's my phone picture dump for today! Does anyone else ever capture some funny and crazy images on their phone? Have you ever let your kids take pictures with your phone? I'm thinking my kids would come back with lots of pictures of the ground and views up their nostrils.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mountain Mama

We spent the past few days up in the mountains of NC for a little min-vacation. I love that we live so close to the mountains and are able to get up there frequently. I grew up attending summer camp near Asheville, NC and it was beautiful. I'm so excited to able to expose my kids to hiking, rafting (don't worry, not yet!), and nature while they are still young. My hope is that they will grow to love the outdoors and make a lot of memories on trips like these.

We met my parents up in the Boone/Blowing Rock area and got our first dose of nature with the view from our window ... swans! We had a swam family - momma, daddy, and two babies - that entertained us in the lake below throughout our stay. Needless to say, they were very well fed and stuffed full of hotdog buns by the time we departed.

We only had a few days, but we managed to fit in trips to Linville Caverns, the Mast General Store, and Grandfather Mountain. The caverns were too dark to take pictures and I wasn't able to snap any at the general store because I was trying to prevent four hurricanes from breaking anything! But I DID get some pictures of Grandfather Mountain.

Luke wasn't too sure at first.

But he perked up when he saw the main attraction ... the mile high swinging bridge!

I thought the kiddos would be scared to walk across a SUSPENDED SWINGING BRIDGE that was ONE MILE high in elevation, but they just waltzed on there like it was nobody's business. Luke didn't even want to hold someone's hand and my heart about dropped into my stomach when he started walking on the edges of the bridge right beside the openings between the railings!

Luckily they planned for small children doing this and the openings were not that large, but I still didn't like it.

We paused to take this picture in the middle of the bridge ...

And had some great views once we reached the other side.

The best part was that it was less than 80 degrees up there! While the majority of the country was experiencing record highs and a heat wave, we were nice and cool!

After our time in Boone, we headed over to West Jefferson to have some more mountain time with the Matt's mom and her husband. We were only there a short while, but we enjoyed going on a hike, seeing hummingbirds, and playing endlessly on the porch. But the definite highlight of this visit was time spent at the river.

The mountain rivers and rapids are so beautiful and they always remind me of the summers I spent rafting and tubing down them. I can't wait until the kids are old enough to do some of those same things. For now, they were content to simply wade...

Fish for rocks ...

And take lessons on stone skipping from the pros.

Oh, and we practiced our Baywatch running form as well.

Overall, it was such a fun few days even if it was brief. Living near the mountains is one of the reasons we moved to North Carolina, so I'm glad we're taking advantage of it as much as we possibly can. And hopefully, as they get older, we'll be able to take our little river rats on even more cool new mountain adventures that they'll never forget!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Picture of the Week - July 24

Childhood Lesson #256: Learn how to properly skip a stone

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I know my kids are growing up in a different world than I did. A world filled with all kinds of technology that I have only just become accustomed to. Heck, I didn't even have an email address until college and now I'm hoping I can keep my kids from getting one before they turn 8 or 9 years old. I'm also worried about cell phones. Seems like every kid has one these days and I just can't imagine why they would need one.

Well, it seems my kids are already thinking about things like this much sooner than I thought based on some recent happenings. The other day I counted how many phones we had in our toy bins (both fake and real-but-no-longer-functioning ones) and I was appalled. TWELVE. Yes, that's right, twelve. So we have three phones PER CHILD in our house for them to play with. Oops. I guess I'm not acting too preemptively when it comes to teaching my kids that they don't need a cell phone.

On top of all this, both my husband and I have iPhones. So the kids get to see texting, internet, and apps first hand every day. We do have a few kid apps on our phones, but we only use them for emergencies (like keeping Luke quiet during the triplets' school program, etc.). I feel like we've done a good job of limiting their technology/phone/computer use so far, but they do witness us doing it every day.

So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when the following conversation took place in our car. It was only a matter of time and it kind of gave me a wake-up call of what I will be in for in a few years.

Me: "Do you guys want to hear a song?"

I often hook my phone up in the car so I can play some of the kids' music and songs while we drive.

Adah: "Yes! I want to hear some music!"

Me: "Great. I'll turn it on. Hold on one second."

Peyton: "Mom when I get big are you going to give me a phone of my own that I can listen to music on?"

Me: "Ummmm ... you mean so you can listen to a few songs on my phone?"

Peyton: "No, Mom! I want my OWN phone to listen to music and watch bideos (translation: videos) on!"

Mom: "You're already asking for that? Couldn't you at least have waited until elementary school?"

Peyton: "Nope! Now can we listen to 'Til The world Ends? I wanna hear Britney."

Welcome to parenting in the 21st century.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Play-Doh Alternative

I hate Play-Doh. I hate how it gets stuck into the crevices of my kitchen table. I hate how it dries into my carpet, leaving crusty flecked pieces of purple, orange and green. I hate all the little parts and pieces that come with the Play-Doh kits. The only thing I like about Play-Doh is the smell. I thought about bottling it and selling it, but apparently that's already been done.

The worst part is that my kids LOVE Play-Doh. They ask to play with it all the time and I constantly find myself directing them to other activities. "Are you sure you don't want to color? How about a puzzle? I'll even do stamps but please, NOT PLAY-DOH!"

So you can imagine my extreme excitement when last week I found a suggestion (I can't remember where, sorry, but it was not my idea) to use shaving cream as a Play-Doh alternative. It doesn't stain, it wipes off easily, it cleans your table, annnnnnnnnd it also smells good! Score! Sure it isn't exactly like Play-Doh, but it fulfills all of those sensory desires that my kids have to use their hands and make a mess.

So this weekend I sent Matt on on a reconnaissance mission to the Dollar Store. He came back with 5 gigantic cans of these:

Nice hand modeling.

We lugged the play table outside and put a dollop in front of each kid.

As I suspected, it was love at first touch.

Meanwhile, I just closed my eyes, inhaled, and imagined myself in the middle of a business meeting with several well-coiffed and nice smelling businessmen (that, of course, all looked like my husband).

After playing in the white stuff for a while, Matt thought it would be fun to teach the kids how to make "snow" with the shaving cream.

Step 1: Get a handfull of shaving cream in your hand

Step 2: Hold arms wide open with hands as far away from each other as possible.

Step 3: Bring hands together as quickly as possible with blinding force, therefore creating a preponderance of foamy shaving cream bubbles that shower you and all those standing near you.

Step 4: Repeat.

The results?

All in all, it was glorious. Everything washed off easily and I had some nice smelling kiddos for the rest of the day. And it's a good thing we stocked up on the shaving cream because we used an entire bottle in one session. The only thing we forgot was to tell the kids not to wipe their faces while their hands were full of shaving cream ...

I  guess some lessons are better learned through trial and error.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Picture of the Week - July 17

Luke has a tendency to chatter and play in his bed before falling asleep and then BOOM, he's out. I guess this is what it looks like when you fall asleep mid-sentence ...

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Work

While riding in the car today, the kids and I got on the topic of what they want to be when they grow up. I don't think they quite grasp the concept (how lovely to be blissfully unaware of the real world), so I was trying to explain it to them. I was telling them how they can be whatever they want to be when they grow up - Fireman, Ballerina, Pilot, Doctor, etc. - as long as they work really hard. We were talking about the different types of things they could "be" when they got big. I asked Peyton what she would like to do for work when she grew up and her response nearly floored me. "Mommy, girls don't go to work, only boys!", she said lightheartedly with a little chuckle thrown in. I almost swerved off the road. We talked about how both boys and girls can go to work, not just boys, and by the end of the conversation she had decided that a firefighter or a pilot would be her professions of choice (for this week, at least).

Although it was just a quick conversation in the car, my daughter's response to my questions really made me step back and think. I know the reason she thinks that girls don't work is because she sees me home with her and her bothers and sister every day. And though I do consider what I do every day is "work", I can understand why she doesn't view it that way. But how do I explain that in the grand scheme of things? I did not grow up thinking that I would be a stay-at-home mom, even though my mom stayed home with us throughout our childhood. And I have no issues with being a stay-at-home mom now. I am lucky enough that we are financially stable with just one income that I get to be the one who stays home with my children while they are young. This is something very valuable to me that I am ecstatic I am able to do. I know it is not what everyone desires or is able to do with their children, but it works for my family and in the end that's what matters the most. But what impression is my staying home making on my children and their understanding of a woman's role in society?

I want my children to grow up believing that they can be anything they want to be and their gender should not limit them from pursuing any career they desire. I want them to strive to be the best in everything they do so they can create opportunities for themselves throughout their lives. But I also want them to understand that my choosing to stay home with them while they are children is because of how much I value my vocation as a mother. I want them to understand that a job is not just about what you get paid or what time you leave and come home, it's about what goes into it. The sweat, cleaning, (endless) picking up, meal preparation, and fun that we have together IS my job. But it's also my life. I am more invested in this job than I have been with any other before because my job is my life and my life is my job. And I can understand how that would be hard for a 3 year old to understand.

All my girls see is that I get to be home with them every day, kiss them when they're sad, have dance parties, read them books, play outside, and feed them when they're hungry. They are having FUN every day and they see that I am having fun with them as well. And all their little minds can figure is that if you're having fun, you're not working! So, after thinking about it for a while, I decided that I shouldn't be worried about my daughter's statement, I should feel blessed. Blessed because she thinks that all the things I am constantly doing for them is not work, it's FUN. And you know what?? It IS fun! Sure it can be frustrating and tiring some days, but for the most part I get to have fun with my kids and they get to have fun with me.

I will always encourage my girls to be whatever they want to be in life. They are so fortunate to grow up in a time where women are experiencing less and less limits professionally. And, as they get older and understand more, we'll be able to have more talks about why Mommy stays home with them and Daddy goes to work. Being a stay-at-home mom is my work, life, and family all tied up into one messy package. And the fact that my daughter thinks that what I do every day isn't work makes me smile because it means I'm doing something right!

After our conversation in the car about how boys AND girls can work, I asked Peyton again what she wanted to be when she grew up. Here's the conversation that ensued ...

Me: "So Peyton, NOW what do you think you could be when you get big and go to work?"

Peyton: "Um, Mommy, I told you I can't go to work when I get big."

Me: "Why not? Girls can go to work too." (I assumed she was still stuck on the "girls don't work" issue)

Peyton: "Because Mommy, if I went to work, then no one would be at home to play with YOU!"

True point, my dear. And what would the world be like without a little FUN??

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Boys' Room

Well, it only took a few months but we FINALLY got around to finishing up the boys' room. I know I mentioned in my post about the girls' room that we were in the process of decorating their room, I just didn't know it would take so long. I suppose that's what an almost month-long vacation can do for your motivation.

Anyway, I finally took some pictures and thought I would share them. There's still a few things I may add, but we are done with most of the big stuff. And remember  that little limitation we have of not being allowed to paint walls or choose our own carpet. I don't know what I'll do the day that I have a wall I can paint. Look out Benjamin Moore ...

Like I've said before, I'm not really a "theme" kinda gal when it comes to decorating rooms. I try to keep it within a certain genre and color scheme, but that's about it. Which is why I was surprised when I went with a bit of theme for the boys' room: Transportation. It's still pretty broad and my boys are really into any and all machinery or vehicles, so it worked. I went with navy and red as the main colors in the room with some tan thrown in. Also, as with the girls, I tried to make the room suitable for a child, but not too babyish, thus letting the room grow with the boys (I don't want to have to be re-decorating again in a couple years when it already took me a year and a half to finally get this one done!).

Ok, on with the pictures!

This is the view looking into the boys' room from the hallway.

Sam's bed is to the left and Luke's crib is to the right (you can't see it) once you walk in the door. That's the train table in the middle of the room. Please excuse the glare ... the sun is in their room all morning and that's when I took the pictures.

Here's the view if you step into the room and look to the right.
The boys have three big windows in their room, which means they get tons of light in here. The only time we have to turn on the lights is at night, which is great. The valances are navy and hang flat, which I love. They came from Bed, Bath and Beyond (as did the hardware). They have a few large, fabric covered buttons (hard to see in the photo) that add just a little bit of texture to them as well.

Here's the shot from the diagonal opposite of the room (if I stand right up against the dresser and face the doorway).
We really don't need the rocking chair anymore, but I think we'll leave it there until Luke transitions out of his crib to a bed. Mostly I use it as a place to pile stuff, so I don't want to let it go for that reason!

Here are a few close-ups of Luke's side of the room.
All the prints on the wall came from different eBay or Etsy sellers. I was going for transportation, so there's a mix of trucks, planes, boats, etc. I tried to keep the pictures within the navy/red/tan color block as best as I could. Luke's crib is a hand-me-down from one of the triplets. They were hand made by a man in Jacksonville and I just love them. The back of the crib can become a full bed's headboard, so we will save it for that if we ever need it. Sadly, the store has closed since we got the cribs, so I'm glad we got them when we did!

The shelf:
We got the shelf at Ikea (as well as all the frames for the pictures in the room). Everything on the shelf came from various places over the course of time. I especially like the vintage car tin plate (propped up behind the ship) and the old red children's cash register that Matt brought back from his PaPa's house when he was there for his funeral last month.

Here is Sam's part of the room from the side ...
And from straight on ...
His bed is black iron and made by Wesley Allen. We got the same one for Luke when we bought Sam's and it's collecting dust in the basement until he gives up the crib (I am in NO hurry for that!). We'll eventually add a small bedside table next to both boys' beds once they are a bit older, but it would only serve as a safety hazard right now (meaning they would break it and anything I put on top of it). His sheets (sailboats) and quilt are from Homegoods, one of my all-time favorite stores. The chest at the foot of his bed was another find from PaPa's house. It's an old wooden toy box that works great at the end of the bed for storing sheets and towels).

Finally, here's a better shot of the dresser.
It was made by the same man to match the cribs. It has always doubled as the changing table because I didn't want a dresser AND changing table taking up space. Once Luke is out of diapers (yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel) we'll be able to remove the changing pad (and diaper pail, yay!). I love how tall the chest is and it has really deep drawers. It comfortably holds both boys' clothes.

So there you have it ... boys' room, done! Only took me 18 months, but it's finally finished! Let me know what you think!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Water Sliding For Dummies

How to properly use a water slide.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Exhibit D:

Incorrect use of a water slide. Do not attempt at home.