February 5, 2016

Because She Will Always Be My Little Sister

This whole potty training process has been hard on the big kids.  Staying home, mama and daddy having to watch Naomi closely, staying in just the kitchen - for days, and watching Naomi get a reward for each success (luckily she didn't need these past day seven but those seven days of watching hersey kisses be given out were hard indeed).
But it is fun to watch the kids embrace Naomi and her success as well.  It is quite a family event when the little potty is filled.  Big cheers, hugs, kisses (the real kind) and the exclamation - our little sister is growing up.  But when Naomi can be bothersome to Abigail she can be heard saying, "Little sisters will be little sisters." as she puts her crayons higher, as she tries to get her barbie back or as her tower of blocks is knocked over.  
 But really, our past days of being home a lot has lead to more and more play like this.  Ethan is the daddy, Abigail the mommy and Naomi is the baby (surprise there).  As I encourage Naomi to grow up Abigail and Ethan are embracing her desire to be pampered and babied just about all the time.  
Oh these sibling interactions are interesting for sure.  But the end of the day they do love each other, play well and for today that helps cover the mother burden of the squabbles I carry from the days together.

February 4, 2016

About Feet

The other day we noticed a hole in the toe of Ethan's robeez.  What a sad day.  Those robeez are worn every single moment we are home.  I couldn't believe we needed to buy yet another pair.  Josh wondered if I could fix it.  That gave me pause.  Lucky for me I remembered a piece of deer skin leather I had in my fabric stash.
What a fun morning it was to present Ethan with his freshly replaced sole to his robeez and the new life those little pair of house slippers could live.
At the same time of this robeez repair I had a pair of footed pj's sitting in my sewing area.  This pair of hand me down pj's looked brand new and Ethan was so very excited that they were covered in dogs.  But sadly when he put them on we realized that the toes had been cut open on what might have been the other owner's first and only wear.
But I was inspired and Ethan was so eager to have those new jammies.  I took off the old bottoms and stitched new feet onto those doggy pj's.
And you know what, Ethan loves them.  Ethan really doesn't respond well when I make him something.  He just doesn't receive gifts well at all be a picture from Abigail or a new shirt.  But since he asked for new feet, since he saw his pj's sitting on my shelf, since he begged - the presentation of these fixed pj's was a huge success.  He has worn them pretty much every night since.  What a fun mending project for sure!
And how do I keep the kids happy when I am sewing you might ask?  Well, I have to admit it takes a very large barrel of tricks.  I can tell you that my kids look at my sewing area as a wonder of things they really shouldn't get into but just wish they could.  Abigail rearranges my pins into rainbow colors for me.  Naomi sits on my lap while I sew and begs to press the buttons on my machine.  And it does help that I keep jars of buttons, ribbons, beads and more tucked on the shelf.  When the project is almost done and the kids are ready for their mama back those jars will often give me the last 20 minutes I need to finish the stitch, the cut, and the fitting of that current project.  Days in the sewing area are always good for this mama indeed.  Time to create, yes that sounds lovely indeed.  New feet for Ethan today and more coming tomorrow.

February 3, 2016

Treats WIth Daddy

Last August I registered Abigail up for Awana.  At that initial day I stood looking at the blank snack sheet and had no idea what the year was going to be like.  But when I picked a random Tuesday in January I really believed it would be a good time.  Nothing much happens in January, right?  Well, fast forward five months and Ethan and I were packing our bags to go to Anchorage for surgery.  Right when Abigail needed a snack for Awana.  

Now snack for Awana might mostly be a mom/dad thing but in our house Abigail was deeply invested in the entire process.  She wanted, no, NEEDED to make something for snack.  No packaged cheese sticks would work.  So I looked around at what I had and declared chocolate dipped vanilla wafers rolled in sprinkles just might do the trick.  
But this was going to be left up to dad and Abigail.  Mama was out of town.
They did great.  Josh was amazing, he melted the chocolate but let Abigail do the dipping.  They made a ton, bagged them up, presented them in a pretty basket and Abigail was very proud.  What a success.  No mama help was needed at all.

February 2, 2016

Finding The One That Works

Josh and I love to play games.  The kids love to play games.  Finding a game that works for a five year old down to a one year old is hard to do.  So much so that I find myself putting off games.  I hate the thought that Abigail and Ethan miss out on games because of Naomi but it is a hard place to be in.  It will be better in a year, or two.  But finding something that works now is the best plan.  
Lucky for us we have stumbled upon picture bingo.  Naomi loves finding the pictures on her cards and it is a challenging enough game that the big kids love it too.  Who would have thought we could find the right game for all three.  Family win for sure!

February 1, 2016

Off To Sea

Last week our hot water heater developed a crack.  This small break lead to a week of unexpected events.  Josh worked wonders but we did go a day without water and then three days with just cold water as we waited for everything to come back together.  The kids didn't really mind.  No baths and boiling water to wash dishes didn't make their days unpleasant at all.
 In fact they were able to enjoy the benefits of a large house purchase, a new box.  Ethan, our resident destroyer, was all set on tearing the box apart as his activity once it arrived.  Luckily daddy made it into something fun and thus motivated Ethan to play with it, as the girls wanted, instead of just crushing it.
 What Josh made was a submarine, what the kids imagined was a pirate ship.  Ethan loves when his alternate personality as Captain Jake can come out to play.
And Abigail found a beautiful dress and fancy earring to wear because, to her, looking the part of a rugged female scallywag is the most crucial part of pirate play.  

January 29, 2016

This Is Happening

It has been a busy, tiring, long and full of trying to be patient all day long, every day sort of week.  We started potty training Naomi this week.  I don't care how many children you potty train, it isn't fun to do it ever, ever, ever.
But she is doing well.  We are doing ok.  The big kids are going stir crazy since we don't leave the house, ever, when potty training.  But the weekend is here.  Two parents means one of us can stay with the growing girl while the other can take the big kids ice skating.  We have been missing some great ice skating days this week.  Soon this process will be behind us but for now, here we are.

January 28, 2016

And Then There Were Three

Having three kids means that there is a steady stream of hand me downs going around.  The kids don't mind, things are reused and all is well.  But sometimes Naomi needs a little something new, just for her.  So where Abigail told me she might need an apron that is a little newer and then she could give Naomi her old one I decided not this time.
Nope, this time Naomi was getting her very own mama made apron.  When it comes to something I can make from this and that I have on hand I jump at the occasion.
And cooking with these three in their own personalized mama made aprons makes me smile.  Cooking with three little ones is chaos but hey, at least they all look the part.  Now it is time to make the mess, oh I mean sweets.

January 27, 2016

What Fun I Choose

We are so thankful for thread here in town.  A place where we can go check out toys, supplies and learning things to enjoy.  And after I go and spend a long time picking out the perfect bin for the kids to play with it is so rewarding to see...
that Naomi likes to play with just the bins.
At least Ethan finds the toys inside the bin exciting.  You just never know...

January 26, 2016

When You Live In This Town

Every town has their specialties.  Things that they are known for.  Our town, I feel like, is known for a lot.  But one of the big ones is dog mushing.  
We as a family don't personally dog mush but are lucky enough to be surrounded by those that do.  And live where we can go to talks about dog mushing.  The kind of talks where the musher is happy to let the kids touch the dog, the gear and everything else she brings.
Winter in Alaska can be fun, dog mushing is fun, and living here where we learn about it is fun too.

January 25, 2016

Thought On Growing Up

 I am someone who likes order in the house, at the end of the days the toys put in a toy box, and the childhood litter of crayons, bikes, toys, books and dolls set away when I can.  But recently I have had many situations where I am struck with how old the kids are getting and just how fast their childhoods are going by. 
Those moments of clarity have helped me loosen a little where I need too.  When the tree was taken down a few weeks ago in its place the baby area of the living room was created.  A baby stroller, three plastic drawers for doll clothes, cradles, a doll highchair and all.  All of these lovely items that I would really, really love to tuck into a room off to the side.  But you know what, toys tucked away aren't enjoyed.  Kids like to be where the mama and family are and I am not spending my days in the corner of the guest room or basement.  I realize that some day my kids won't want to be near me.  They will want to go off on their own like most kids do.  They will stretch their wings, search out their independence and tuck what is dear to them away from the rest of us.  But today I can be thankful that isn't today.
And these are the thoughts and memories I have to hold onto dearly as I see the living room once again explode.  Yes, the kids will have it picked up by nightfall but there is no way shape or form that my house will look like a model home at all.  With the doll area by the stairs and the village (an area of Abigail's, Naomi's and Ethan's doll houses and fire station) next to the couch our home is very much a home of toddlers and preschoolers.  But when I think of today I think of now and try to be thankful for what this mess tells me.  It shows me that my kids are here, in the middle of everything playing, they are also playing with the doll clothes my grandma made me as a child (so fun to see things come back to life 30 years later), and they are playing together with each other and with me.  Sometimes I dream about setting things right and them staying that way.  No little person spilling milk on the just cleaned floor, tearing the couch cushions apart for a fort, toys staying in the assigned bin or basket - played with and then returned.  But that would mean my kids were grown up and gone.  That is not something I look forward too at all.  So for now the mess will come and go.  I might just be found sorting the doll clothes into the appropriate bins and redressing the cabbage patch dolls after the kids are in bed but you know what, that is my way to being in the moment and having a little bit of order at the same time.  For now that works.  And the kids like to think that the cabbage patch dolls have parties at night and that is why they look different each morning.  I do make sure they are tucked into their cradles, call me obsessive I just can't help it.  Each doll needs to be in place.

January 22, 2016

Color Time Fun

This winter in Fairbanks has been the most mild of any I have experienced in my 13 winters in Alaska.  Because of that the kids and I are outside for hours each day.  Some toys are there to play with but mainly the snow itself is our entertainment.  That and I like to walk - the kids not so much - but I do so we do!

Recently I heard of a fun idea for snow play.  I thought I would share so that others looking for fun ways to keep our children happy outside could enjoy as well.
It is very simple.  A spray bottle, food coloring and water.
The kids love to paint but really paint inside with all three is kind of a disaster these days.  
But "painting" the snow outside has been a huge success.  Especially with my little artist.  Abigail loves to run out with the bottles each day and make new creations all over the yard.
So here is a YEAH for another activity win.  Snow time fun plus color.  Makes for lots of outdoor fun, except when the bottles freeze up.  But hey they thaw and we can play again tomorrow - right!

January 21, 2016

Morning Hours

Someone recently asked me what I do all day, if I had a schedule, and how I get things done.  I have contemplated this for quite some time and each time it comes to mind I laugh.  I feel like with kids I can have a running To Do list at all times but really it isn't about me and what I do.  I have four people at home each day, four attitudes, four feelings, four people's health and everything can change on who is sleepy or hungry at any moment.  There are days I "go to town" for story hour, museum play, mooseketeers or ballet but when we can just stay home we do.  But staying home doesn't mean things are slow and relaxed.  Kind of the opposite really.
Because we never know just what is going to come up, who is going to want to do what, what friend might come over, how long we will play outside or what chores there are to do.
I snapped these pictures the other day as I thought about my mornings.  Days with little kids are fun, busy, and unpredictable.  They just might include, like this day did, a batch of muffins and coloring all before 6:30 am.  Because when we wake up and those little feet hit the ground they do with speed, excitement, goals and imaginations running wild.  My to do list is always there but who knows just what tomorrow will hold!