Last weekend, it was really hot up here; in the low 90's. I invited two families from our weekly Friday play date over to enjoy our pool. One of the families was the family hosting the play date, which was the first time we had seen her new house. Even though it was hot, the kids had a great time in the backyard. I was very impressed that Natalie went through the sprinkler, even though she did turn her head so she didn't get water in her face. Natalie was having trouble sharing some baby dolls. She had clear ideas about how she wanted to play with them and that didn't match what everyone else wanted all the time. Mike and I are both glad that she isn't a push over anymore (both literally and figuratively), but we don't like seeing her refusing to share either. Natalie wanted to push the doll she was using on the swings mostly, but she also sent her down the slide, though she wouldn't go down herself. I was impressed to see her go up and down the ladder, too. Meanwhile, William mostly wandered around. He played some in the water. He spent time in my lap. He had some fruit salad, including trying mango. I tried to nurse him, but public nursing is usually more of a wrestling match than anything else, especially since it was outdoors and so hot.
Anyway, I extended the invitation for two families to come over and bring their husbands so that we could get the plastic kids' cabin built that Mike got from his aunt back before all the snow melted. The pool was a big motivator for other families to come over on Saturday when it was 93 out. As usual, that morning we went out and did the shopping. When we got home, Mike decided to go look over the pieces of the cabin and lay them in the sun to make them easier to put together. Fifteen minutes later he has the cabin built. I can't really blame him for letting it sit unbuilt in the backyard for so long. He did have a lot of other more important projects to get done, and when it was taken apart it took about 5 men and a sledge hammer. Even though the cabin was built, both of my friends brought their husbands with them. It was very nice to have some testosterone around at one of our play dates for a change. I was glad that Mike got to talk with the other husbands, and since there were so many adults, it was easier to sit back and just let the kids play. We are also happy when we can share out pool with others since there is such a small window every year when we can use it. The kids all had a good time. Mike stayed in the pool and rotated between William and Natalie. Natalie had some fun showing off her play house and also had fun playing with one of our neighbors "watering" each other with water cans. There was also plenty of attention paid to the toy car and the tricycle.
That evening we made a new dinner with a recipe I found on Pinterest. Pinterest has been a very positive influence around here. Not only has it helped me with craft ideas, but I've seen lots of recipes I wanted to try now that we have found some suitable substitutes for my allergies. One of my other friends plans her menu for the week before the weekly shopping trip. I finally decided that we were going to do this. At the beginning of July, I tried writing out the menu for the week, but it got delayed because of Mike's mom's visit. Then last week, I started it up again. I added the new recipes I wanted to try as well. It really worked well to then add on the ingredients, including sizes that were needed for anything being cooked from scratch. After that, I then look through the coupons and check CouponSuzy. Since we have a list posted all week for when we run out of essentials, we are pretty much done with the shopping list at that point. I think doing it this way will start saving us money on weekly trips because we will only be buying what we need instead of buying a bunch of options all the time. We generally keep one of most nonperishable items around, so we still can change our minds if we like.
The recipe we tried that night was a pizza casserole. We used rice pasta, cheese, sauce, and pepperoni on tip. Everyone liked it, thought Natalie was a little upset and confused at first that it wasn't actual pizza. Previously, I had made Au Gratin potatoes. They came out pretty good, except I hadn't gotten them all sized the same so some of them were hard. But last night we reheated one of the frozen portions, and that solved the problem. Later in the week, we tried another new recipe, which was lasagna roll ups. We used rice pasta lasagna noodles we've had around for a long time for this. Sadly, some of the noodles had broken. The mix for the middle was three kinds of cheese and defrosted spinach. I spread the mix on the noodles and rolled them up. This was much easier than a real lasagna for us to serve and freeze. Again everyone liked it, though Natalie barely ate any. William loved it!
And this is why I never write about the week. William is awake and crying for me to come get him.
Its an hour later and Mike has taken the kids outside to swim. But, I can't really write now because I have to go work on dinner and nightly preparations. Every evening I'm usually in charge of the following:
- pre-dinner clean up of the kitchen
- cooking dinner (unless there is grilling, that is completely Mike's territory)
- setting the table for dinner (this used to be Natalie's job, but I now set the food out for everyone so the kids' food can cool down)
- taking out the breakfast dishes
- getting out the kids' clothes for the next day
- setting up William's room for bed time
- quick clean up of Natalie's room if necessary
- clutter clean up of the kitchen table
- refilling diapers and wipes throughout the house if necessary
- sometimes putting away leftovers
- filling the dishwasher
- washing pots and pans, high chair tray, place mat, and bib
- cleaning up the floor (though since the Swivel Sweeper broke for good, Mike has been helping a lot)
- sometimes cleaning the counter or stove
- occasionally starting bath
- once a week getting Natalie's shot ready
- usually doing most of the toy clean up as the bath water is running, especially William's messes
- sometimes this is when I feed the cats
I now have an hour before we need to go downstairs to watch out Sunday night show. Both kids are in bed, so anything between now and about 4 am when William wakes up is unexpected.
Back to the meals for a minute. I have really enjoyed being able to cook new foods and also using all the food from our farm share. It really makes me feel good when we sit down to a meal that is home cooked, with fresh veggies I've steamed, and we have next to no leftovers. This didn't used to be the case. In the winter, we have almost exclusively frozen veggies, and they are no where near as good and we always have some leftover that we save and then throw away later.
Just this weekend I've started something else that's new. When we get in at lunch time from a morning outing is one of the most challenging times of day. William, Natalie, and I all need lunch, and I have to prepare it all at once, while watching Natalie for warning signs of needing the potty, navigating her pleading for me to read her stories, and all the while keeping William happy. So, I decided to get the kids lunch boxes and make their lunches the night before. We bought Natalie a Lightening McQueen box (which I'm happy to say that she picked over Hello Kitty) and we got William an Avengers box (which was the only other hard box they had, but was fitting because it has the Hulk on it and we kid that he "Hulk smashes" everything). Natalie did awesome eating out of her lunch box. I thought I had packed way too much food, but she ate some of everything. William also did really well. I found out later that a lot of his food was dropped in the pocket of his bib or in his chair, but at least he was happy! I really like this idea of having their lunches ready. Not only will it cut down on the chaos at the one time of day and allow me to actually get some lunch easily, but I can plan to offer much more balanced and healthy lunches. When they are both demanding my attention and I'm hungry and ready for them to just both go to nap is not the time I want to be cutting up vegetables or dicing chicken. Now they'll at least have the option to ate those foods. Today, Natalie ate her usual cream cheese and crackers, a kids' yogurt, a slice of watermelon, about ten grapes, several Annie's bunny crackers (this was the "dessert"), and a few raisins. William had his usual applesauce in a pouch (which I think he's starting to be sick of, but he doesn't seem to like the yogurt in a pouch), about ten grapes, about half a slice of watermelon, a good sized piece of cold chicken (cut into small pieces of course), a small handful of Gerber Crunchers, and a few Gerber puffs (as "dessert").
Okay, back to our week. I told our friends they could come back on Sunday if they wanted, but neither took us up on it. That morning, we went to the Maine Mall. All of our outings have the one purpose of getting the kids out of the house, but the secondary purpose of this trip was to see three different stores to finally get me new glasses. When we got to the mall, William had finally fallen asleep, but we didn't want to just sit in the parking lot wasting time, so we woke him up. Turns out that nothing in the mall was open though for half an hour. So, we wandered around. Natalie liked the shopping carts with the little plastic car attachments. William climbed in one, too. Mike walked around with William a lot and he said that everyone who saw him commented on how happy he looked. William really did just love walking around in a new place and exploring everything. One of the things we've noticed about William that makes him different from his sister is that he is more curious. (He was the same when we let him walk around at Walmart the other day and when he walked around at Freeport when Mike's mom was visiting). Natalie was very excited to ride the carousel they have there, too, but we had to wait for them to open. She loved it when we finally got on, though I had to seriously talk her into riding on one of the horses. She insisted that I ride a horse, too, which was fun since I hadn't done that in maybe fifteen years. William and Mike watched and we waved to them. Later, Natalie wanted a ride on the little train they have, so we did that too. This time William came along. I had to pay to ride, unlike the carousel, so Mike sat it out again. They both liked it, though William liked climbing on and off the benches and trying to fall out the windows the best.
The third store we looked in had the most options for glasses for me and I settled on a pair I liked pretty quickly. I knew I wanted a sunglasses attachment that was magnetic, but I decided to get much bolder frames. I've also wanted to do this before, but would be practical. I think not teaching helped me to do this, too.
Sunday afternoon we all went in the pool. It wasn't as hot as the day before, but I went in anyway. I had fun once I warmed up. Natalie seems to be like Mike getting in the pool where she is happy to jump right in (just no water in her face!). William seems like he might be like me and would rather take it slow and warm up to it. I spent some time swimming with each of them. Natalie has been enjoying trying to learn to jump into the pool, though that day she was stepping off the edge and hitting her bum on the side of the pool. William really likes being bobbed in the water or spun around.
Most of the week was standard. On Monday, we went to play group as usual. Tuesday, we went to story time at the library and saw a couple friends there. Our usual day goes as follow:
William wakes up at 430, and I nurse him back to sleep and we sleep together on the bed for about two hours. Natalie sometimes wakes up around 6 and runs into bed with Mike, other times she stays in her room until he is ready to leave. I do breakfast with the kids, then we go play. William naps at about 815, for almost two hours. While he sleeps, Natalie and I might do a craft or play with toys that we can't when he is around. We used to turn the TV on at this time, but I've been working on keeping it off recently. At 9, we have our snack, which is really like a real breakfast for Natalie. I think she is more like Mike and doesn't like to eat immediately after waking up. That or the fact that she asks for Lucky Charms every morning and the only eats the marshmellows. Anyway, we have toast with jam, fruit, and bacon. If William wakes up before nap, we share with him and eat in the kitchen, other wise she likes to eat in front of the TV. After snack, its the push to get ready to go out. Natalie's newest skill is to completely undress and dress herself, but she is quite dramatic about it after a huge fight we had over it on Tuesday morning. (She didn't want me to help her take off her shirt even though she was stuck, and thus ensued at least 15 minutes of crazy wailing about how she couldn't do it but I couldn't help her as her shirt was pulled back over her head, but her arms stuck in it. Now every time she puts on or off a shirt she has to go through a mini reenactment). Once out, we try to stay out until lunch.
By the way, going out is easier these days. I don't always use the stroller for William, which is one less thing to worry about. Natalie can climb in and out of the car now, so that makes it way easier for me, I can open her door, and then put William into the car, then come back around to buckle her straps. When we get out of the car, I can unbuckle, and get William by the time she is out of the car.
Wednesday was very busy. Mike stayed home for an appointment, which he made deliberately for the day I had a dentist appointment. But, it turned out that we made a PT appointment for Natalie that day, too. So, Mike stayed home with William, while he was supposed to be napping and the electrician came to the house, and I took Natalie to my dentist appointment. Natalie did an awesome job keeping herself entertained while I got my cleaning. We were done way sooner than I planned, so we quickly ran to the mall to get Natalie new shoes. Natalie loves her current shoes, but she's been wearing them for a year, and they were lent to us by our neighbor who has a four month old girl. Natalie was excited to see her physical therapist (and had learned to say physical therapy). Natalie didn't even wait to get to her office before she did a hula dance for her. She said Natalie was doing great, so great in fact that she didn't need to go back! That was surprising, and a little sad since Natalie was so excited to see her and kept talking about her.
Later Wednesday afternoon, my friend with her two month old came over for a visit and a walk. Natalie loved that. She got to hold the baby and she tried very hard to get her comfortable for a nap. William didn't take too much notice of the baby. We had a bit of a delay in going for our walk when all three kids were a bit crazy at once, but we did go out for about fifteen minutes. (Which reminds me that I took Natalie out for a walk with her doll in her stroller down the street a couple weeks ago). When Mike got home from his appointment, he took the kids out to swim by himself using the float we bought for Natalie as a baby that she never liked. Both kids love it now, so he can take them out alone. That is the night I made the lasagna roll ups.
Early in the week we had a lot of potty training set backs. I think it was Monday when she had about six accidents. It bothered me a lot all week. I'm particularly worried that the accidents were because she was too stressed dealing with potty and we were putting too much pressure on her. We've noticed that she is grinding her teeth. So, we've tried really hard to de-emphasize the accidents. So after her lack of interest, I worked on going back to the sticker chart and her completing all the steps even if she had an accident. I also am making sure that she is feeling the wetness. I haven't been hounding her about needing to go, but if she doesn't go, I make her go at certain times. We asked her to help her dolls go potty, too, which we think also helped. She started pretending that we have had accidents, so we play a long a little bit. By the end of the week, we were getting back on track. She is now only six stickers away from her big prize at the end of her chart. She's decided that she wants to go out for ice cream. It looks like its either going to be tomorrow night or Tuesday at lunch.
Thursday, we went to play group again (instead of the library). Afterwards, we picked up my new glasses! I was glad that there was very little adjustment to the lenses. They are a lower prescription, which the ophthalmologist says is normal to happen at my age. My eyes will probably get better for a little while before getting worse again when I older. I think it was Thursday morning that I decided to rotate the kids toys. I had been meaning to pull out the shape sorter for him, and I got out a bunch of different toys while I was at it and put away a few they weren't using much. I'm really glad that I've started to rotate the toys a little bit. I don't do it as much as some people, but it appears to work. Natalie was really enjoying her see and say, and William learned how to put an object into a container with a toy where a figure is put into chute. Its been very, very cool and fun watching him learn to put the figure in to the various openings as well as experimenting with all types of other objects, mostly balls, but also blocks, little people figures and animals, and the cone for the rings. The same day, he also learned to put the animal figures into the toy barn.
Friday we had our weekly play date just down the street, but we drove because I was meeting a woman at noon to pick up some My Little Ponies for Natalie. William woke up late that morning, so he didn't take a nap that morning or we would have missed the whole play date and messed up his daily schedule. That made William grumpy for most of that morning, but we pushed through. He didn't want to play much while we were out, but at the same time, there wasn't too much for him to play with. He was too old to sit with the babies, but too small to go on the swings like the big kids. He also tripped and fell into the kiddie pool and got soaking wet, needing to borrow clean clothes. Natalie played some by herself. She had some of the same sharing problems, but not as much. Natalie went potty with her older friend. My neighbor called me over to see the two of them sitting next to each other and her friend passing her some toilet paper. We don't know whose idea it was to go potty. Later, she also played on the swings more than she ever has before by holding on herself and getting pushed. I spent some time talking with my friend's husband who teaches and he got me thinking about perusing a second master's in special education, focusing in gifted and talented or a mix GT and disabilities training. But, I don't think that will be until after I return to work, hoping that my new district will pay for most of the classes. Though, having another degree would be handy for job searching. In general, I've been thinking a lot about when I return to work.
Friday night, our baby sitter came over. We weren't sure if she was going to put Natalie to bed to see if it would work, but we decided to have her just be there with us this time. Natalie really liked her being there (though she missed her in the morning). As soon as she was in bed, we went out to get ice cream. But after that, we had a hard time finding somewhere to go. Most of the places we tried to go to were closed or closing. We tried Big Lots, but they closed, as was everything else in that mall. But we did get movie popcorn and just look at the movie posters. The regular mall was closed, too. So, went to Khols for lack of choices, but we did buy anything. Its kind of funny that we went there because that is where our baby sitter works.
Saturday was pretty similar to last Saturday. We organized in the morning and then went shopping, but we got a late start due to a late nap from William. The kids napped, then Mike took them out for a walk while I made meatloaf. Mike and I watched a movie we'd had on our DVR forever, Repo Men. (This week we also watched the three part McCoys and Hatfields mini series we've had recorded for a while. I missed a lot of it due to working on William's birthday invitations and birthday video).
Today, Sunday, we went raspberry and blueberry picking in the morning. Mike had a hard time keeping William from destroying the plants. Natalie had fun until we told her she couldn't eat anymore until we paid. But we did get a quart of blueberries and two of raspberries for cheaper than the store and better quality. I also got a sunburn. When we got home the kids tried out the lunch boxes and then soon went down for nap. Natalie resisted her nap. She went through her closet and found a bunch of toys, including my old Rainbow Brite who became her favorite toy of the rest of the day. Mike mowed the lawn and I got the next days lunches done as well as our weekly farm share salad. When the kids got up, he took them swimming since he was hot from mowing, and I made kale chips and oven roasted potatoes. (Just the potatoes were for dinner). Dinner went smoothly, but we had a ton of clean up. Even still, we managed to get William off to bed just about on time and Natalie right on time. Tonight William resisted nursing a little, but when I did go to put him into his crib, he didn't want to snuggle. He just wanted to lay down, which is actually unusual when he is tried. I really enjoy my time with William with at bedtime. We usually read a book right away, then do diaper. Next its another book, and lotion. Then pjs, maybe another book, then I get ready to nurse and he comes over. He is so cute how he is happy to come over for his bed time nursing. He doesn't act the same about any of the others. He likes the time alone with me, I think. This morning I also got a lot of time alone with him. Not only did we sleep together in the bed, but I got about an hour to play with him alone before Natalie decided to get up. That worked out well. On Saturdays, I get to sleep in. This week, I got up and ate breakfast then went back to bed until 830. Today, Mike got to sleep in until 8. Our Sunday morning tradition is to have pancakes, so no one can have breakfast until he gets up, since pancakes are strictly Daddy's business. So, usually once Natalie is up, he needs to get up soon, but since she played in her room alone today, he got more time uninterrupted in bed.