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June 30, 2012

Super Stuff on a Saturday


After what I now realize has been a whole lot of going and doing over the past few weeks, we tried to settle down a bit this week and remember our “home” routine.  That turned out to be a good plan, given the extreme heat in our corner of the world – well above 100 degrees! – most of the week.  Ack!

Here are the fabulous highlights…

1)      Daddy has been teasing the girls by leaving the collar up on his shirt sometimes, as things being “out of order” get them all out of sorts.  I planted this seed once upon a time, but it’s so funny to hear them get all flustered, “Daddy, put your collar down!  You’re not Elvis!

2)      The girls helped me make granola on Sunday.  They were so proud to scoop out the oatmeal and other ingredients, stir the bowl, and rake everything into a pan.  And of course they’ve been so excited to eat their creation most every day.

3)      One afternoon I was going to run a quick errand while the girls stayed home with Daddy.  I told them I wouldn’t be long.  How long will you be gone? Baby A asked.  One minute?  Two minutes?  About 15 minutes, I told her.  That’s a LONG time!!!” she said.

4)      One morning the girls came with me to run a few quick errands…the post office, the mall, and the grocery store.  They were incredibly well-behaved, especially at the mall where we bought new shoes for them.  I was dreading that part of the morning, but they were very good about touching with one finger, even in pretty close quarters in the shoe store.  We’ll still be doing our shopping in limited doses, but I’m feeling more confident in what I can actually accomplish with them!

5)      The lady working the desk at the post office gave the girls coloring / activity books.  When we got home we looked at the books – all about different landmarks throughout the US – and the girls wanted to play with them.  This was the first time both of them [sorta-kinda] tried to color within the lines, using appropriate colors for the pictures.  And I was AMAZED that they both followed directions on one of the activities, to “circle all the falcons” among many different types of birds.

6)      We had one cooler day this week, and we decided to take the girls to Jackson’s Orchard.  They were so very excited to get a snack and go down the “bumpy slide” over and over and over.  I love seeing my family so at home there.

7)      Our girls have been full of imagination for so long, but Baby A has really been talking it up lately.  Particularly at bedtime, she has been telling the tallest tales…incorporating different places she’s gone, animals she’s seen, things she’s done.  And when she transitions between thoughts, she’s most often been saying, “And then, all of a sudden…  It just cracks me up!

8)      Baby B was reading a book with Daddy one day.  I heard her looking at the table of contents.  She named the page number and then said, “So this story must be on this page!  We often look at the table of contents together, but this was the first time I’d seen one of the girls in action.

9)      The girls have been a hit and a miss with naming their right and left hands (mostly hits, but not enough for me to be confident)…but I think I’m crossing this off our list.  They’re pretty darn consistent when I say, “Give me your right hand,” or “Turn left” in a store.

10)   We took the girls to story time at the book store on Friday.  I was so proud of how they listened to the story and focused on the craft (a bookmark).  We’re growing up!

Very thankful for this everyday fabulousness!

June 29, 2012

Weaning Off the Stickers


Baby A started potty-training last April, when she was about 27 months old.  While those first couple of weeks were very “hands on”, she only had a handful of accidents.  After a couple of months, though, she started to have little mishaps here and there…just enough to wet the seat of her panties…but the “regression” felt very frustrating.  And she never seemed upset with herself (like I later experienced with Baby B).

Baby A is a go-er and a do-er.  My gut was that she just didn’t want to take the time away from play to go to the potty…until she realized it was too late.

Whereas I hadn’t used any type of reward system during her training (other than the lure of the “big girl privilege” of getting to flush the potty), I decided to try a sticker card.

At the end of every day, if she’d stayed clean and dry, she could pick out a sticker to put on a card that was hanging on the refrigerator.

Viola! 

Once she finally earned her first sticker, she was hooked.

And Baby B was so proud to begin earning stickers herself a few months later.

We’ve been using our sticker cards for about a year now.  I won’t say we never have accidents…it’s still the same issue (I think) as we were having a year ago…a certain someone who is occasionally having too much fun doing other things to address her business on time…but all in all, we’re doing well.

It’s time to wean off the sticker cards.

I told the girls a few weeks ago that we would earn stickers until their half-birthday, on July 5.  At that point, they’ll officially be “big girls”. 

Keeping clean and dry all day is just what big girls do.  Mommy and Daddy stay clean and dry, and we don’t get stickers at night.”

The girls seem to understand what’s coming, and they haven’t launched any formal protests.

A couple of days ago, I thought I’d offer something to mark the retirement of the sticker cards.  I proposed we’d go buy some new panties.  Won’t that be exciting???

Yeah!!!” Baby A agreed.  Will they be BIG panties???” she asked.  BBBBBBIIIIIIIIIIIGGGG???

Daddy and I couldn’t help but cackle.

I guess she’s taking my emphasis on being a “big” girl very seriously!

June 27, 2012

The Double Meaning of "The Orchard"


When I was growing up I spent a lot of weekends with my great aunt and uncle and my grandparents.  I don’t remember ever getting in trouble with my great aunt, the girls’ Aunt GG.  That’s not to say that I never did anything wrong…but I think I may have been a teensy bit spoiled by my uncle and her.

I don’t ever remember getting in trouble at my grandparents’ house exactly, but I remember Pop “going to the orchard”.   

They had a couple of garden spots on their rural property, one of which had an open pasture area with fruit trees.  I guess I’d get loud sometimes, or whiny…I don’t remember the particulars (or perhaps I just don’t want to admit guilt)…but I can clearly see Pop grabbing a lawn chair and his newspaper.  I’m going to the orchard!” he’d declare.

And when my mom would come to pick me up, she’d ask, “How many times did Pop have to go to the orchard? 

Only once!” I’d happily report. 

Or, “Three times,” I’d say, sheepishly. 

Occasionally I’d meet her at the door to boast, “Pop didn’t go to the orchard one time!

That became a bit of a family joke, and it makes me smile just thinking about it.

These days, “going to the orchard” has an entirely different meaning.   

We have a gorgeous commercial orchard just to the north of our town.  Hubby and I went there a few times before the girls were born, but in the past three years, it’s become a favorite family destination.

Yesterday was a cooler day, and we decided to make a trip to the orchard.  When the girls woke up from their nap, we told them they had a surprise.  Would you like to go…to…the…ORCHARD???   

The excitement of three-year olds is truly something else.  Their faces instantly lit up, their smiles so wide, their eyes aglow.

We shared a fried peach pie and some ice cream…we ran…we went down the big slide over and over and over…we walked around the pond and saw the frogs and the dragonflies…we bought some flowers.

A trip to the orchard always results in so much family fun.

And I love that the phrase “going to the orchard” will one day make my girls also smile with nostalgia, albeit for a different reason.

June 26, 2012

Something New for Breakfast


When the girls were about a year old, I introduced scrambled eggs to them.  It didn’t go over well the first time or two, but it wasn’t long before that became a breakfast staple.  I added it to our grain rotation, and we had a pretty balanced breakfast.

For a long, long time, their breakfasts consisted of...
·         oatmeal OR cream of wheat
·         scrambled eggs
·         a banana

At some point, a friend mentioned that her girls like cottage cheese.  Finally!  A protein alternative!

So, for an even longer time, the girls’ breakfasts have been...
·         oatmeal OR cream of wheat
·         scrambled eggs OR cottage cheese
·         a banana…OR sometimes I’d get all crazy and give them blueberries or sliced strawberries

I think this is a pretty hearty breakfast, and most days, the girls clean their plates.  My girlfriend says her kiddos eat a “farmer’s breakfast”…important to fuel the work of the day…and I think our girls fall into that category, as well.  There’s no farming going on here in our corner of the ‘burbs, but I guess they need energy for all their book reading, puzzle solving, train building, and baby doll tending.

As the girls have gotten older, I’ve introduced an occasional grain alternative once or twice a week…a toasted whole wheat bagel…French toast from whole grain bread…or sometimes I get industrious and make muffins.

Still, I felt like we needed another protein to throw in the mix.

I read a post from Melissa at Bumblebee Grace, sharing her granola recipe.

VIOLA!  A light bulb moment for me!

I know it’s not rocket science, but I hadn’t thought about yogurt as a breakfast food for the girls.  (We had a challenging experience with yogurt a year and a half ago, and I have shied away from it since.)

Our girls are in serious love with Greek yogurt.  I drizzle a tiny bit of honey to sweeten it.  Sometimes I dice up some berries or peaches to top it; and on Sunday the girls helped me make Melissa’s granola recipe [we added sliced almonds and cinnamon - YUM!], which is another great topping.

We haven’t had many eggs or much cottage cheese in the past few days…the girls keep asking for more yogurt! 

It’s definitely in the breakfast rotation, and one day we even had it for snack, topped with granola.

I promise our girlies have more variety for lunch and supper, but maybe I’m just a creature of habit at the breakfast table.  In any case, I’m glad to have picked up a new “habit”.

June 25, 2012

Weekly Awareness: Nice Things


We have a full set of beautiful crystal, most of it from our wedding, that lives in my grandmother’s china cabinet.  I make a point of always drinking wine and cocktails from my good stuff, but that’s not something we do very often these days.

The kitchen cabinet that houses our daily drinking glasses is far from beautiful, though.  It’s brimming with mostly mismatched coffee cups and a huge array of glassware.

Our water glasses date back to my college days.  I received a set of eight green-tinted glasses as a graduation gift…in 1998, 14 years ago.  We’ve had a couple of casualties along the way, but we still boasted five from the set.

Our juice glasses were even older, a relic from Hubby’s bachelor days…which puts them probably close to 20 years old.  Yikes!

We’d been loosely talking about getting new glasses for years, but Hubby and I haven’t been in the same china shop – one of us always home with our bulls, if you will – in a long, long time.

On Thursday afternoon, Miss Jenny was at the house with the girls.  After enjoying a very early dinner together, Hubby and I still had a little time left, and we decided to browse Pier 1.

On a side note, it was a little bit surreal walking in there.  We used to drop by and browse together quite often, maybe once a month.  There’s always something interesting to see, right?  I’m pretty sure it’s been over a year since I was there, and I don’t think Hubby and I have walked through those doors together in a good four years.

After checking out all the patio stuff, smelling some candles, and touching most of the pillows, it dawned on me: we should get new glasses!

We quickly decided on our favorites, a classic clear cylinder with just a touch of interest at the bottom.  We bought six water glasses and six juice glasses.  They weren’t expensive…$2.50 each…for a total spent of $30…but I sorta feel like I spent a thousand bucks (in a good way).

I came home and cleaned out the crazy array from our cabinet.

How great it feels to have invested – not just monetarily, but thought-wise – in something that is so integral to our routine, every single day of the world.
 
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