Monday, February 27, 2012

And the Oscar Goes To ...

With the Academy Awards taking place last night, I thought it would be more than appropriate to give out a few awards in the Clifford house as well. So here they are in no particular order ...

Best Art Direction

The award goes to Adah with her remarkable work on the animation project, Me and Mommy at the Beach. Her work with the blue crayon on this one was impeccable and will definitely go down in Clifford history as a truly breakthrough piece of animation. Adah would like to thank her mom for taming her wild hair every morning and her dad for cutting the skin off of her apples. She'd also like to give special thanks to Peyton for all of those bedtime talks that inspired her to create this animated masterpiece.

Best Set Design

The award goes to Peyton with her set design of All The Plush Animals I Own Go On A Picnic On The Floor In the Middle Of My Room. This set design was carefully crafted and took many hours to perfect and complete. She would like to thank Adah for lending her stuffed animals for the film and Sam for not destroying her creation with his slew of airplanes.

Best Technical Achievement

This award goes to Sam with his creation of Bogey's Tower and his amazing reprisal of Walking the Line: How Parking Your Construction and Rescue Vehicles in a Straight Line Can Restore a Sense of Calm in Your Daily Life. Sam would like to thank all of his family that lives in Charlotte, the city that was the inspiration behind his tower project. He would also like to thank his perfectionist personality that gives him the urge to make such straight lines when parking his toys.

Best Newcomer

Luke burst on the scene this year to receive this award. He has made dramatic advancements in Art Direction under the tutelage of Adah as well as in the area if Technical Achievement as Sam's block construction apprentice. He has also dabbled a bit in acting and his most recent performance in Temper Tantrum in the Children's Museum Bathroom is already receiving Academy buzz for next season. He is surely a rising star. Luke would like to thank all food for giving him his svelte and sought-after beach ball belly as well as his mom for letting him get away with most things because he is the youngest.

And that's all the awards we have to give out today. All of the winners would like to thank the Academy for recognizing their work and for giving them a reason to keep creating, building, coloring, and tantruming. Thank you and good night!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Picture of the Week - February 26

Buckets of water cannot tame this cowlick ... I think I'm going to have to just give up.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pop Quiz

Example A:
This was Monday.

There was snow on the ground. It was 38 degrees.

Example B:
Today is Friday.

It is sunny and 77 degrees.

Using the information from Examples A and B, what season is it?

A. Winter
B. Spring
C. Sprin-ter
D. All of the above

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Child Labor of Love

It's no secret that I like order. And organization. And apparently words that start with the letter "O". Anyway, our house is usually pretty orderly. Part of that is because we have six people living in a relatively small space, so things have to be picked up and in their place if we want to be able to do things like walk around or eat at the table. Until recently, Matt and I (yes, he pitches in) have done the bulk of the cleaning and straightening around here. But as the kids get older I have been salivating over the idea of considering getting them involved in the daily duties around this place.

Once the triplets turned four, I suddenly had this notion that now was the time that they should start helping out more around the house. You know, earn their keep, pull their own weight, that sort of thing. Well, I guess that's a tad extreme, but I did think it was time that we started introducing and maintaining some of those dreaded chores that plague children while they live at home.

But when I started to think about these so-called chores, I was a little stumped. What can a four year old handle? What's asking too much and what is appropriate? What's asking too little? Basically, what should I expect my four year old to be able to accomplish daily and successfully when it comes to chores?

Here's the list I've come up with. These are either chores we have implemented or ones that I'm planning to add soon. I'm hoping this doesn't make me sound like a militant stay at home mom!

1. Pick up their rooms and the playroom before we leave the house to go anywhere or before we go to bed at night. Basically, this means we pick up about three times a day - before we head to school or out for the morning, before nap/rest time, and before bed. I know some people that only pick up once a day, but that would drive me ca-razy.

2. Bring their plates/cups to the sink after they are excused from the table. We've started this recently and it's working well. Plus, it makes for less trips for Matt and me between the table and the sink at clean up time. We're still working on holding our plate straight and level when taking it to the sink (Wilson has gotten a lot of goodies off the floor lately), but they're picking it up quickly.

3. Set the table. The kids LOVE this. There is a nightly fight over who gets to do what. I give them the silverware and the napkins and they place it on everyone's plate before we sit down to eat. We are fully transitioned into family dinner time where we all sit down and eat together. It took us a while to get there because it was too much to get dinner for all of us ready at the same time. Once the kids started eating all the same things as us, we were able to all sit down together. I'm so glad we do it and the kids love it too. They call it Everybody Dinner!

4. Dressing themselves. We've just started this even though I probably  could have started it way sooner. We're usually just on autopilot in the mornings and it has always been easier for me to help the kids get dressed so we could keep our assembly line of dressing, brushing teeth, and brushing hair going at a good clip. But I finally gave in and the kids are all now attempting to dress themselves in the morning. I still pick out their clothes (surprisingly, none of them have ever challenged me on clothes or what they wear) and they get dressed. It takes a little longer and sometimes I still have to help with buttons, but we're getting there. The kids love their new found independence as well.

5. Feed Wilson. The boys have mostly taken to this chore and they alternate days on who gets to feed the dog. It's actually pretty involved since we keep his food in the basement. They have to grab his food scoop, go downstairs, open the food bin, scoop out the food, put the top back on the bin, and come back up the stairs balancing the food scoop full of food before dumping it in his bowl. I'd be lying if I didn't admit we've had a few spills, but they're trying and that's all that matters. I'm hoping we can get them to walk Wilson someday, but we'll have to wait until they gain a few more pounds because Wilson likes to give the walker a walk more than he likes to be walked himself!

Here are a few chores I'm hoping to add in the future ...

1. Make their beds. They try to help do this now, but it's hard. They're just not tall enough and three of their four beds are against a wall, which you know makes the bed WAY harder to make. For now we just do it for them, but I'm hoping to let them do it more in the future.

2. Fold laundry. I abhor folding and putting up laundry. I don't really mind putting it into the washer and dryer, but I have definitely been know to leave a load in the the dryer to "fluff" every day until I am forced to fold it because another load is waiting to be dried. So I am totally on the get-my-kids-to-fold-and-put-away-their-own-clothes bandwagon. The kids actually ask to help me fold laundry, but you can probably guess as to the prowess of a four year old's folding job. Usually they just roll it up and place it in piles. I'm hoping we can work on this and get them to help more in the future. Any former GAP employees want to lend me one of those cool shirt folding things I always see them using?

3. Take out the trash. In our house this is a man's job. I hate taking out the trash and luckily Matt is willing, but I know he would readily give up this job in the name of training the next generation of young men. As soon as the kids are taller than the trash can, they are fair game.

So what do you think? Am I asking too much of them? Not enough? I'd be really interested to hear what types of chores you have your children do (or imagine them doing in a few years). I want them to be responsible, but not feel like slaves in their own home. Give me your suggestions!

And what's a post without a picture of my most recent "help" ...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Snow Day

First snow day of 2012! I still can't believe that this is the first snow of the winter, but I'll take it. And it's my favorite kind - two inches that will be gone by tomorrow because of the 55 degree high today!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friday, February 17, 2012


 When we were down in Florida visiting my parents, we took all of the kids out to lunch. There's a great pizza restaurant near my parents' house and we love going there because it's loud and they have a huge eight person round table that we can all fit in. After lunch, we were planning to head to the beach since it was such a nice day. The kids were excited to go to the beach as they hadn't been since the summer. Peyton was literally yelling to anyone passing by our table that she WAS GOING TO THE BEACH!!! I would say it was quite embarrassing but that would be a lie because when you've had your kids skate through vomit or watched your toddler single-handedly take down a grocery store display of produce you are no longer are able to be embarrassed. By anything.

So our poor waiter came over to our table (I could see the fear in his eyes as he approached) to take our order. The following conversation ensued:

Waiter: "Hi, would you guys like something to drink?"

Me: "Yes. I'll have a Diet Coke and can we get four lemonades for the kids?"

Waiter: "Sure."

Peyton: "Hey! Did you know that I'm going to the beach?"

Waiter: "Really? That sounds fun. I wish I could go. I'm jealous."

Waiter finishes taking order and then leaves. I notice that Peyton and Sam are talking and laughing while pointing at the waiter.

Me: "What are you two talking about?"

Peyton (VERY loudly): "Mom, did you hear that boy? His name's Jealous!!!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

V-Day in Pictures

Yes, I know it's all food related, but that's how we do celebrations in this house. I am not ashamed to admit that food is the center of most things. That is why I punish myself daily on the torture device otherwise known as the treadmill.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

House of (Valentine) Cards

I went all crafty this year and made the kids their Valentine's Day cards. It was actually pretty fun and I'm excited to see their reactions when they receive them this morning. I also have a few more surprises in store today for the kids. Fingers crossed that they work out and I'll be sure to share them with you later!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Petite Picasso

We have a budding artist in our midst.

Adah, who was the last of the triplets to really get on the coloring bandwagon has jumped head first into all things creative. She will spend hours at the table coloring or drawing new scenes from her imagination. And the girl definitely has a wild imagination. Here are just a few of her latest creations ...

Ok, I'll give you a second to look this one over because the color is a little hard to get past. Apparently this is me (the larger one, thanks sweetie) and Adah. I like that she made me smiling, but I'm not sure what to think about the pig-like nose placed to the side of my face. Does it really look like that? And is that why Adah is frowning? Is she thinking, man Mom, we gotta fix that nose on your face! I'm also not sure about the domino shirt I'm wearing. I know I wear a lot of sweatpants and t-shirts, but none of them are emblazoned with game pieces. And I don't even have a guess about the boat sailing in the sky.

I have to admit that I had NO CLUE on this one when she brought it to me. When I asked, she claimed it was a picture of her (most of her pictures are of herself ... we apparently emphasize narcissism in the Clifford house). And when I pressed her further she said it was a picture of her losing her tooth. What?!? I mean, I can totally see that in the picture, but what made her decide to draw that? I should mention that the girls are trembling with excitement about losing their teeth. Ever since they learned about the tooth fairy they have been quizzing me on when, exactly, their teeth will fall out. I don't have the heart to tell them it's still several years away and will most likely involve blood. I just hope Adah's face doesn't end up looking like this picture when her tooth is ready to come out.

(And again, what's with the domino shirt?!?)

This last picture is of me. I was overjoyed to find that dominoes had gone out of style by the time this one was produced. I like that she gave me a great big smile (she must not have gone to time out yet that day) and very generous eyelashes. I was a bit concerned with the nose on my cheek, but I'll chalk that up to lack of perspective in a four year old artist. All this was great, but what the heck is on my back? When asked, I was told it was my turkey tail, duh! Yes, this is me as a turkey. Thanks girl. Not the animal I would choose to portray me, but thanks for the effort.

Do anyone else's kids bust out random artwork that you have NO CLUE where the ideas came from? Any budding impressionists or cubists out there? I'm excited to see what Adah comes up with next. I'm going to encourage her to draw her Daddy next so I can see what animal he gets assigned!

Gobble Gobble!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Losers

I couldn't think up a nicer name for this title, sorry. After having several toys that the kids just loved for Christmas, I couldn't stop there. Now there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the duds. Your kids may just love them, they just didn't work for our family. So don't go yelling to all your friends that such-and-such is a bad toy .... that's not what I'm saying. These are just the toys that didn't pan out like we expected.

The first toy is Cinderella (or Belle) and the Horsey.

**Note that this is indeed not the toy's actual advertised name. It was invented by a 4 year old who shall remain nameless.

The girls aren't really into the Disney princesses as much as they are into dressing up like princesses, ballerinas, etc. We don't watch many movies, so they've never even seen the princesses in action. They've only seen their pictures on packaging and toys. However, they saw this Cinderella and horse set in COSTCO and they just had to have it. This is literally the only thing that they asked for the entire month of December. Nice and easy, right?

Well, they opened this gift on Christmas morning and were super excited. They took everything out of the box and played with it for a total of three minutes. Then it was on to bigger and better things. I thought they would maybe come back to it after all the newness of other toys had worn off, but her majesty and her steed are still staring at me forlornly from their perch on the toy shelf. So much for a 4 year old knowing what she wants. I think they haven't really hit the Barbie stage yet, which is fine by me. Peyton did ask me what the large mounds protruding from Belle's chest were and I had to think fast with a diversion about HOW COOL IS BELLE'S HAIR, RIGHT?? At least Cinderella and Belle are completely clothed in a one piece bathing suit-like attire under their dresses. I'm not ready for that talk yet.

Another dud was this ...

I thought this Hot Wheels Wall Tracks set would be perfect for Sam. He likes to assemble things and it involves cars careening at a high rate of speed down a track ON THE WALL! How cool is that? I guess it wasn't a complete dud because the boys DO like it, it just doesn't get played with much. Once the tracks are assembled and on the wall, that's it. There's no taking them down and re-assembling them into another track. Maybe if you bought another set or two to add on you could do it, but not with what we have. Therefore Sam's favorite part, the assembly, is null and void with this toy. So, not a complete dud, but not the perfect fit for the boys and their need to do demo and reconstruction on a continual basis.

Our last dud is these Fisher Price Walkie Talkies that I thought were awesome.

This gift was just a miscalculation on my part. Even though it says for ages 3+, my kids just don't quite get what the toy is supposed to do and how to use it. They struggle with having to push the button ONLY when they talk and then letting it go when they want to hear the other person. Plus, they don't see the coolness of the walkie talkie yet. Why talk to my brother on this weird microphone-like thing when I can just yell to him in the other room? They don't have a clue. This one is a dud for this year, but I'm sure it will get its use in years to come. Chalk this one up to a mom thinking her kids are coordinated enough to hold down a button and talk at the same time when, in fact, they are not.

So those are the not-so-hot toys from this past Christmas. Did anyone else have a toy that you just KNEW was going to be a hit and come New Years Day it was still sitting under the tree? Do anyone else's kids understand the concept of the walkie talkie? Please tell me my four aren't the only ones in the dark.

Monday, February 6, 2012

And The Winner Is ...

It's been 6 weeks since Christmas. In our house, that is sufficient enough time to determine what Christmas/Birthday presents were winners and which ones were duds. I am always surprised at which presents end up being their favorites, it's so hard to predict. So here there are, without further ado ...


Coming in first place by a landslide was the Discovery Kids MP3 Player ... or the boombox as me and my 80's tween self have dubbed it. It's pretty funny to hear your kids walking around talking about their boombox in 2012.

This thing is on 24/7, and I am not exaggerating. We downloaded a lot of the kids favorite songs onto the player and they have the freedom to scroll through them and play whatever they want. They LOVE this thing and have constant dance parties all over the house. The only downside is their tendency to want to re-play the same song 46 times in a row. If that's the case, I just make them take the dance party to their room so I can have a minute or two of my life where I am not being harmoniously serenaded by the Fresh Beat Band.

The best part about this gift was that we got it at an extremely good price on sometime in the summer. I saw it and bought it because I thought the kids would love it. Score one for me. Stockpiling gifts throughout the year is definitely the way to go with four kids. It's a lot cheaper and then I don't have to run around like a crazy person the last school day before Christmas break trying to find last minute toys.

Another hot gift this year was the Hide and Seek Safari JR Monkey. It's no secret that my kids loooooove to play hide and seek. They're not that great at hiding yet (or staying hidden before squealing with glee to intentionally out themselves), but they love to play.

The concept of this toy is really cute. Someone hides the monkey and then the finder(s) have a wand that they carry with them while looking for the monkey's hiding place. When you press a button on the wand, the money starts making all his monkey sounds. It's great for preschool kids because they can use their eyes as well as the sounds of the monkey to find him. Hearing the monkey gets them excited and they realize he is close and within a reasonable distance. This has been a great toy and the kids have not tired of it yet. Another bonus is that everyone can play with it together. We take turns with who holds the wand, but everyone can actively search for the monkey even if they aren't the wand-holder that time around.

MY favorite gift that the kiddos got this year were these animal hooded blankets ...

I can't remember exactly who made ours, but they look almost identical to these Stephen Joseph Animal Blankets. My kids were due some new blankets (they were still using baby stroller blankets for naps!), so I suggested this as a gift for a family member to give and it was a hit! Sam got a dog, Luke got a dragon, Peyton got a unicorn, and Adah received a cat. These are perfect for them because they are big enough to cuddle up with in bed and they also constantly use them while playing. They wear the blankets everywhere and pretend to be the animals while they play. There are even cute little "paw" pockets sewn in to the corners of the blankets where the kids can put their hands. I loved this gift because it was both functional and fun!

The last toy winner from the Christmas season was a set of Magnatiles blocks.

 It is no secret around here that my boys love their blocks. We've been very happy with the TRIO blocks that they have been using for the last couple of years, but we wanted to give them something different to add to their block collection. Enter these Magnatiles.

Now I will warn you, these are NOT cheap. They are not as expensive as they are being sold for right now (they are in high demand because the factory where they are manufactured flooded and they are back-ordered), but they ARE an investment so make sure that your kids will like them before you buy. We bought the starter set with the plan that we could add to it later if this set wasn't adequate or large enough for the boys (and girls, they like them too).

The kids LOVE them. The blocks come in various square and triangle shapes and they are magnetic on all sides. This allows the kids to make 3-D structures and encourages the use of their spacial reasoning and problem solving. But the kids don't know that, they just think they're fun! They've made all sorts of things from castles to fire stations with them. The possibilities are endless with these blocks and I hope that factory gets up and running soon so the prices on these blocks will go down and we can add to our set!

So those were the big winners this year in our house. Did you have any great toys that just stood apart from the rest this year? Do those of you with toddlers and babies feel like you have a hard time finding good gifts for your children at Christmas? What about those of you with older kids, what do they seem to like? I need to start getting some good ideas for a few years down the road!

Come back tomorrow where I'll let you know the big toy LOSERS from the Christmas season ... and why is it that these always are the toys you thought would be the biggest hits???

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Picture of the Week - February 5

Adah is getting better and better at writing her name. Now we just need to work on convincing her that her middle name is not, in fact, Bug.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The kids are really into naming all of their stuffed animals (or "pets", as they call them) lately. The problem is, they're not that inventive with the names yet. They tend to name the stuffed animal exactly what animal it is. Needless to say, we have a preponderance of "Doggys" and "Kitties" in our house. When we suggest a name, they tend to run with it and name all of their pets this same name. It makes for a frustrating bedtime routine when your child is trying to find Katie to sleep with and there are 20 plus Katies she could be referring to. Anyway ....

I've really been encouraging the kids to think up some new and original names for their pets. Adah received a unicorn for Christmas and we had the following conversation the other day when I was pleading with her to name the thing anything but "Unicorn" or "Nora" (which is her random go-to name for pets - weird, I know - we don't even know a Nora).

Me: "Adah, what do you think we should name your unicorn? Is it a boy or a girl?"

Adah: "Oh, he's a girl"

I'll give you a minute to read that last sentence again. Well, I guess it's the 21st century ...

Me: "Ok, what do you want to name her? Except for Unicorn or Nora?"

She pauses for a moment to inspect the unicorn and her features. She turns her over, looks up and down, and suddenly it dawns on her ...

Adah: "Oh Mom, I know! I'll name her Horny!"


Maybe Nora wasn't such a bad name after all.