Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One Kid Wonder (or My Slave Child)

So after our trip to Vermont to celebrate Christmas with my side of the family, we left Caleb and Camille for a few extra days to visit. Rob worked most of the time and I did my best to get the rest of our boxes unpacked and our house put in order.

Some may think that it should have been easy to do, especially only having one kid with me. Chloe, however, is the one child we have who needs to be underfoot about 99% of the time. While Caleb and Camille will happily play alone in their rooms for hours (when I'm lucky!) Chloe has to be Mom's shadow. So I put her to work.

I made her shovel what was left of the snow.

Then I made her vacuum Caleb's room with this teeny tiny dustbuster.

(Actually, she wanted to shovel the snow and having her use the dustbuster was a genius idea for keeping her occupied while I used the real vacuum cleaner.)

She was such a good sport that I rewarded her with stickers. She was very proud of herself because she put these stickers on her shirt herself. As you can see by the following snapshots, she has now mastered the art of the fake smile. Congratulations to me for having three kids who smile dopey for pictures (just like their mother)!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Santa came and filled our stockings last night.

We had presents under our tree.

Everyone was excited for Christmas! Chloe was the first person up, waking Mom up at 6:00ish. We came downstairs and breakfasted on Froot Loops found in Chloe's stocking. This kept her quiet until the big kids woke up. It's funny how excited they were about what they found in their stockings - small boxes of breakfast cereal, juice boxes and fruit snacks (all things we don't have routinely around the house).

Here the kids are in front of the tree.

Chloe enjoyed opening her own presents this year.

Camille loved this new tutu from Grandma! (It looks remarkably like Mommy's first ballet costume.)

Caleb was our gift tag reader, making sure the right people got the right presents. Here he takes a break to open one of his own.

We enjoyed a quiet day at home, complete with lots of playtime (the big kids spent lots of time playing with their new Leapsters) and a big meal. Rob was forced to admit that I make a better turkey than he does. He made a killer stuffing, filled with sausage, apples and cranberries. I fixed a cranberry cheesecake and a cherry berry pie. There's nothing like a big, nice meal to celebrate a holiday!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Boys

All the kids are thrilled to have Daddy home for good, but I think Caleb is particularly enjoying no longer being the only boy at the house!

I love Caleb's rosy cheeks and the fact that he's wearing summer clothes despite the obvious winter weather!

Caleb catching a ride on a wild gorilla.

A happy dad.



Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow What Fun!

Between the snow on Friday and the snow on Sunday, we have more snow than the kids have ever seen (at least at our own house)! We spent a long time this weekend out playing in the snow.

With the exception of the hassle of putting on snow clothes (at some point my kids have got to learn the right order to put on's really hard to put on snow pants if you're already wearing snow boots), we had a blast!

Even Daddy has fun in the snow.

Chloe tries to catch snowflakes on her tongue.

Camille skips and runs through the snow.

And Caleb plays the good Samaritan and shovels our neighbors' driveway.

After we all came in from the snow, I snapped these pictures of my rosy-cheeked little kids! Aren't they cute!

The Big F-O-U-R and S-A-N-T-A

Camille turned four on Saturday. When she requested pancakes for her birthday breakfast I borrowed this tradition from my friend Maren and made pancakes in the shape of fours for her. Here she is in all her early morning birthday glory...I think she's saying, "Mom, I wanted five pancakes!"

Her other breakfast choice was a yummy white chocolate covered pretzel!

Here she is in awe of her new Barbie styling head. Who wouldn't be excited at a Barbie head in a box?

We didn't have a party for her (mostly due to the giant heaps of snow we got both on Friday and on Sunday) so we're going to do that next Saturday at Nana and Papa's. Auntie Karen is making a My Little Pony cake and Camille can't wait!

We did make a trip out to our church's Christmas party and had a visit with Santa Claus.
Caleb's not sure what to make of Santa...

He's not sure what he wants for Christmas

But he knew he had to (try to) smile to get Santa's treat bag...

Camille did a little better. She told Santa she wanted a Barbie.

Then hugged him when he said he could maybe manage that.

Chloe did not want to go see Santa, although she kept pointing in that direction and looking interested in something by him. We had the following conversation:

Mom: Chloe, do you want to go see Santa?
Chloe: No! (shaking head)
Mom: Are you looking at the Christmas tree?
Chloe: Yeah! (nodding)
Mom: Do you want one of those candy canes on the tree?
Chloe: Yeah! Yeah! (nodding enthusiastically with her eyes open wide)
Mom: You have to go see Santa if you want a candy cane.
Chloe: (squirms out of my arms and heads to the cookie table where she helps herself to a M&M cookie, eats the M&Ms off it and hands me the sticky, gross cookie remains.)

Maybe next time I'll let her go get a candy cane!


Sure wish I had checked to see if the bus would be on time before I brought all three kids out in this!


Feels Like

Nothing like a 90 minute delay when you're not expecting it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Daddy's Home!

Rob is finally home! Since our big move last month, Rob has spent approximately 10 days here with us. The rest has been spent back in NC or in transit from there to here or here to there. He finished up work there on Wednesday and is now home for good! Hooray!

Making silly faces

I'm taking a very educated guess that today will be a cleaning day. In that event, expect to see more pictures in the future because there won't be a messy house in the background! It's so much easier to get things done when there's another adult around - maybe I will actually be able to get something done without having a little shadow undoing my efforts!

No school

The weather folks are predicting heavy snow today. Since all of us were up by 5:30 (again), I made the kids go ahead and get dressed. Then I checked Caleb's school web site and found school is canceled for today. How did the kids react?

Caleb: Yes! No school! Yes!
Camille: Oh no! Caleb will be home today. Aw.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

X You Out!

So my kids have been doing this thing for a while they like to call "x it out." It started with Caleb, I think, making a mistake when he was drawing, so he drew a big X on his picture and started over. Camille started following suit.

This soon became a threat at our house with the kids. "If you don't let me do what I want to do, I'm going to X you out!"

One week at church a couple of months ago, Camille got mad at Rob. I can't remember what he wouldn't let her do, but she did the most vicious thing she could think of. She grabbed her notebook and crayon and drew this picture:

A few minutes later Camille got over her attitude and drew this picture, presenting it to Rob with a smile and a kiss. I guess he was forgiven.

I thought the whole exchange was hysterical.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


This morning I let Camille do her Bella Dancerella Disney Princess Enchanted Tales dance DVD. It's really a fun little video. It's so fun that Chloe had to get in on the action!

Please notice I'm such a good mother that Camille is still in her nightgown at almost noon and her hair (obviously) had not yet met a brush, and Chloe had yogurt covering the front of her shirt and pants. Please also note that the girls seem to be coexisting peacefully. There were no arguments about a certain baby sister crowding a certain older sister. I'm grateful for small miracles!

Quiet Morning

This morning I let Camille watch the movie Samantha, an American Girl Holiday. In this movie Samantha befriends a girl named Nellie who is a servant at the household next door. Nellie has two sisters, Bridget and Jenny. Jenny does not talk.

We enjoyed a quiet morning today when Camille decided we should play Samantha. I got to be Samantha. She was Jenny. She pretty much didn't talk for about an hour. It was a really nice change of pace after all of her questions lately!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Made in China

So tonight the kids found these chopsticks that I bought years ago in Chinatown in Boston. I took the time to read the back of the package and got a kick out of it. (This is exactly as written.)

Features: boiling water resist, acidproof,erosion resist, color fading resist.

Direction: please sterilize it by boiling water. Be sure to put Chopsticks flat. If there is oil spots, please clean it with cleancer,

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I'm not normally a prime time television watcher. I've been in school for the past two years so that has taken up my evening hours. I finished up my work a couple of weeks ago and turned on the TV one night and found this episode of Great Performances on PBS.

Since then I've caught it another couple of times. It's a pretty awesome concert.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Shopping.

I am one of those people who likes to have all of my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving. Really, I like to have as much of it done by Halloween as I can. Early in the summer I mention to Rob to please start thinking about what he'd like to give everyone for Christmas. Then I mention it again around the Fourth of July. And sometime in mid-August. And in September. That way he's not surprised when I bring it up again in October. Twice. And weekly in November until he gives me some ideas for his family (although I'm usually done shopping by this point). I like to mention it slightly more often than weekly (like every couple of days) for the first couple of weeks in December so Rob's not unprepared when Christmas finally gets here.

Anyway, since we spent the year planning to move I didn't do my Christmas shopping throughout the year like I typically do. Then with our quick move before Thanksgiving and Rob spending most of that time out of town finishing up work back down South, I haven't had a chance to do any shopping. I wouldn't mind taking Chloe with me, but Camille is just too old to be oblivious anymore. Yesterday we were in the grocery store and I threw a few toothbrushes in the bottom of the cart (the very bottom, under the basket where she wouldn't see) for the kids' stockings. We're not even halfway through shopping before Camille starts questioning me why there are toothbrushes in the cart and which one she gets to have.

I did as much of my shopping online in the last couple of weeks, but there are some things you just have to go to a store and get.

My cousin Kelly came over today and watched the girls for me so I could go shopping. It was awesome! I had a solid five and a half hours to myself where I was able to bop into stores without the hassle of unbuckling car seats and where I was able to look through every aisle without kids shouting at me to stop and look at this or that. It was totally relaxing, really fun and - the best part is - I was able to do nearly all of my shopping! There are just a few small things left to get that I'll have to go out and get this next week.

The girls had a super time with Kelly. She brought all the stuff with her to bake and decorate gingerbread cookies, they watched a movie, colored and played. Camille is already asking when she can come back again! Thanks Kelly!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Playing Supermom

Every once in a while I have one of those days where despite being woken up in the middle of the night by a baby who doesn't understand I like to sleep, and despite getting up for good at 5:00 am when the oldest and the youngest both think it's a good idea to run around screaming and being crazy, and despite hearing my oldest throw a tantrum because I didn't wash his favorite pants and he can't wear any of the seven pairs of pants in his drawer because his favorite pants are in the wash and he doesn't care if they're dirty or wet, he wants to wear them anyways, and despite all of the other crazy things that happen to irk me in the first several hours of my day, I manage (somehow) to be a pretty decent mom. Take yesterday, for instance.

I managed to get Caleb out of the house, dressed fairly appropriately for school with a good lunch and snack packed, and breakfast in his belly. (Honestly, he was gobbling down his breakfast as he walked to the bus stop since he was too busy worrying about what he would wear so he didn't get his teeth brushed before we left, but he did scrub extra well tonight.) It was raining, but still I took all three kids down to the bus stop. I even pulled out the cute frog and monster umbrellas we have that I never let the kids use because it's so much easier to either make them stay indoors or let them get wet. After Caleb hopped on the bus, I hung around outside for a while talking with our neighbor whose daughter also takes the bus. Camille and Chloe went inside a few minutes before I did, so when I came back inside I found them sitting nicely at the table eating a snack. Camille fixed them both peanut butter crackers and dried cranberries. I didn't even grouch at the mess on the table or floor or the fact that Chloe had peanut butter all over her hands (I think maybe Camille thought she was too little to use a knife) and face, although after I praised her for being such a thoughtful sister I did ask that the next time she makes a snack, please have Chloe take off her jacket first.

Instead of panicking about Chloe's winter coat being covered in peanut butter (read: grease stains), I calmly attacked it with a liberal dose of dish detergent (it's supposed to cut the grease, right) and threw it into the washing machine. I also washed Chloe's other jacket that was pretty grimy. The peanut butter and related grease did come out by the way.

I managed to get through more than half of an exercise video. Our local library has a ton of DVDs you can check out so I picked up a copy of Yoga Booty Ballet - the GoGo version. Camille got a kick out of the dancing and really liked one of the instructors because she very stylishly wore a skirt over her pants. The cardio portion was a pretty good workout if you can ignore the ridiculous choreography. I kept the shades drawn so none of the neighbors would see and the girls got a big kick out of trying to dance with me.

I only made it through half the video because my dad called. He was driving back from Pennsylvania and was going right past our exit so he pulled off, found a place to park and we went to meet him. We had a fun fifteen minute visit although it was raining and we had to stay in the car. It's so great living close to our family up here so quick visits are possible.

After that we bopped to the store where I did my best not to feel embarrassed that I hadn't had a shower yet that day. I bought (mostly) things that were on the list and stocked up on some extra staples so now not only is our pantry full but the shelves in the basement are getting there as well. I put back several things that I wanted but knew we didn't need to keep costs down at the grocery store. (Did you read that, Rob? Perhaps you should reward me by surprising me with the gorgeous bunch of multicolored roses I put back after all!)

When we got home I fed the girls lunch and then put them in their room to play while I finally caught a shower. After that I called it rest time - Chloe napped in the pack and play in our room and Camille watched a Hello Kitty movie. Since I had a few minutes of quiet where I was pretty sure no one would follow me around, I got out the mop and mopped the kitchen floor. And then I cleaned two of the bathrooms.

After the girls got up, I let them make magic cupcakes. (Mix 4 Tablespoons of meringue powder into a package of cake mix. Then combine 1/3 cup of the mix with a couple of tablespoons of water and microwave them for 30 seconds.) I let each of the girls stir their own cupcake batter and then let them cook them in these fun silicone cupcake liners we have that have silly feet on the bottom. Then I let them spread their own icing on them. Camille was meticulous, making sure hers was just so. Chloe licked the frosting off the knife and disregarded the cupcake entirely.

I took the girls outside to play while I waited for Caleb to get off the bus. Then after Caleb had his snack, I got all of the kids to help with our Christmas cards. I had everything all set to go, with the exception of sealing the envelopes and putting on the stamps. Everyone helped lick, although Chloe didn't quite get it right. Please forgive us if your names are kind of smeary. Someone had a hard time understanding quite where to lick.

After that the kids played nicely (all of them...imagine that!) while I fixed a dinner that they all ate (amazing! I know!) before herding them into the bathtub. The kids were all in bed, asleep, by 7:00. Sometimes I do get things right.

I took some photos of the days' activities, however Chloe got a hold of my camera and changed some settings so all of the pictures came out as black rectangles. I could post them here, but I think that's unnecessary.

(Before you panic (MOM!) the camera settings have been readjusted and everything is fine now. Hopefully tomorrow the elements will agree with me and I can get some kids with the tree and the awesome stockings that Aunt Karen made.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Favorite Foods

Tonight at dinner Caleb decided to tell us what his favorite foods are - meatballs, bacon, sausage, pizza and salami.

Not to be outdone, Camille piped up: "My favorite foods are cake, muffins, cookies, cupcakes, bacon and cheese!" (Picture finger and eyebrow waggling as she finishes her list.)

You'd think by looking at these lists that I only make meat and sweets. Not so, I swear!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pretty Kitties

The girls have some new outfits to wear to church today. I found this pattern forever ago and wanted to make it, only I'm not the most skillful seamstress. (I admit it - I can't measure, cut or sew straight.) A couple of months ago I found the pattern again and decided to give it a go. I picked out some pretty fabric and turned the project over to Rob's mom who is much more skilled than I am.

This is how they turned out. Cute, aren't they?

Now I just need some of those big, over-the-top hairbows...


We woke up this morning to snow! The kids were so excited we all had to get our snow clothes on and test it out.

Caleb and Camille loved it! Chloe wasn't so sure. I think she had a hard time moving in all of those layers.

Camille made some snow angels...

...while Caleb was hard at work.

Good thing we picked up a shovel yesterday! We also got one for the kids to use. We plan to make them earn their keep this winter! :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

My Holiday Surprise

So Rob had to spend the last two weeks out of town (that's what happens when you move without having the time to find a new job where you're going to be living) and to our extreme happiness and joy he (finally) came home on Wednesday! (It was a long two weeks without him.) Anyway, he decided to treat all of us to something special. What did we get?

The kids got a trip to Auntie Su's house where they decorated Christmas ornaments, went to the park, watched a movie and played Uncle John's guitar.

This is what I got (starting from when I woke up with three children crowding our bed):

Breakfast in bed (that I'm pretty sure the big kids didn't spill as they went up the stairs!)

A series of train rides on New York's finest subway system (I had forgotten how much I love riding the subway.)

A visit to the New York Public Library (does my husband know me or what?)

The chance to see the tree and people ice skate at Rockefeller Center and hear some Salvation Army Bell ringers sing Feliz Navidad in lieu of ringing bells.

The chance to be stopped by a very friendly and funny guy who claimed to be collecting money for some charity. (Our brief conversation was worth the few bucks we slipped him, plus we got a winter hat out of the deal. Since I didn't have a camera, that'll be my souvenir!)

The chance to see where they were filming a movie (thanks to Rob who was brave enough to ask Wardrobe #5 what movie it was - Confessions of a Shopaholic, a Sophie Kinsella novel I've yet to read.)

Some real authentic New York pizza (yum!)

A visit through Chinatown (I love all of the markets and stores that sell "restaurant supply"!)

The best cannoli on Planet Earth (that's what the sign said! I've decided from now on I'm going to seek out and try all of the best things in the places we travel. It was a really good cannoli.)

An visit to an open air Christmas market in Central Park (it satisfied my need to go to a craft fair for a while.)

A performance of the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center! (It was amazing!)

I told Rob if that's the treatment I get when he has to be out of town, maybe he should go out of town more often! Seriously, though, I got the royal treatment yesterday. Honey, you're the best!

Monday, December 1, 2008

The I Gotta Go Doll

So we were in the store the other day and passed by a display of Baby Alive dolls. Baby Alive is a terrifying baby doll that acts like she's alive (duh). She eats, drinks, and goes potty. For some reason, Camille thinks this is the greatest thing.

At least twelve times today (it could have been more - I stopped counting after that) Camille mentioned this doll, known to her as "The I Gotta Go Doll." She told me she wanted it. She asked me if she could get it. (I said maybe for her birthday or Christmas, both of which are coming up soon. She suggested it should be a Halloween present. I love her sense of time.) She asked if when she was six and Chloe was six if I would get them the I Gotta Go Doll so it could teach them how to go potty. (Although I hope by the time Chloe is six everyone will have long ago figured out this potty business.)

My cousin was over today and Camille gave her a dramatic I Gotta Go Doll performance. Apparently, according to Camille, this doll says, "I've got to go potty. I'm going to poop and pee in the potty." She also does a lovely dance.

I need to stop taking Camille in public. We don't have TV here yet so it's not like she actually saw a commercial for this baby so I'm not quite sure where her over-enthusiasm for this doll has come from. I hope she's not too disappointed when she learns that Baby Alive is not on my list of things to buy for her birthday or for Christmas.

My sister summed it up well: "She already has one of those. Her name is Chloe."

Okay, so I have been informed that there actually is a doll called the Gotta Go Doll. Perhaps Camille did see the commercial somewhere because I found this little clip on Amazon and it looked just how Camille had acted it out. It's considerably cheaper than Baby Alive, but I don't think she'll be getting this one either. I just can't bring myself to get my kid a peeing baby doll.


So this morning Camille and I sat down to watch The Nutcracker. I'd love to be able to take the kids to go see it performed every Christmas but I won't do it until the kids are big enough to sit through it. Until then we are making do with watching it on DVD. (This is the version we have.)

Anyway, Camille was watching it and enjoying it. Somewhere around the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy she started asking me why those dancers were better dancers than she is. I tried explaining that it was because they're grown ups who have spent their whole lives practicing. They probably started dancing very young and worked very hard to get good and are so good they can do it for a job. That's why they get to be on TV.

She had a different answer: "I think it's because they have those pointy shoes. I think if I get some of those pointy shoes I can dance like that."

Me: Really? So you think it's the shoes that make them dance so well, not the years of lessons and practice?

Camille: Yeah. It's those pointy shoes and that they don't have any of that carpet underneath them so they can dance like that.

Then Camille noticed the Cavalier who dances with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Her first comment was that he wasn't very good looking. I pointed out that he was a very good dancer.

Camille: Look! He's wearing ballet shoes! Isn't that funny?
Me: He's wearing boy ballet shoes. Look at his costume. Isn't he handsome?
Camille: Yeah. Hey! I know! I can get some of those pointy shoes and Daddy can get one of those outfits and we can play Sugar Plum Fairy and her Prince dancing! Yeah! Isn't that a great idea?

I'm sure Rob would be positively thrilled if I got him some tights for Christmas!