Monday, October 27, 2008

Dining Out with the Kids

Today is my grandmother’s 87th birthday – Happy Birthday, Gram! In celebration of her birthday, my father and stepmother (Grandpa & Gramby) take Gram and my little family out to the “swanky” yacht club for dinner. It’s always a special treat, and because Grandpa and Gramby spend so much time at the yacht club, some of the wait staff there are like extended members of the family. My husband had to work Friday night, and I showed up at the club with my girls, and there in the parking lot was Sue, who works in the restaurant. She flagged me down and offered to walk the girls in (where the grandparents were waiting) since the parking lot was packed and I would have to park far from the door – such service! And my girls know her well enough that they popped right out of the car – even my little one – and trotted right in with her.

It was quite crowded on Friday night, but luckily we had a reservation and were seated quickly. It took a while to place our order, but I have learned recently, to order my girls’ dinners to come out with our appetizers (if we order them). That way they can start their dinners, and then while the adults are having their dinners, the girls can be moved onto a little dish of ice cream as dessert. This keeps the kids content, and moves things along a little more quickly, since my husband and I rarely order dessert, but my girls enjoy it! Anyway, I always try to be well prepared to entertain my kids (my diaper bag is always packed with snacks, crayons, little toys, etc.) and I am always concerned that we are going to disturb other diners. I was sitting right next to my little one, who was in a highchair backing up to the wall of the restaurant. At one point, I turned to my right to talk to my father and grandmother, and all of a sudden my stepmother said, “Oh, no no!” And I turned quickly to see my little girlie with her hands on the FIRE ALARM BOX! THANKFULLY, she did not pull it, and I quickly moved her away, but the people at the table next to us had seen and were chuckling to themselves. At the end of their meal, they got up and as they were leaving, the woman said, “It was nice dining with you!” And I said, “Oh, I hope we didn’t disturb you!” and she said, “Oh no, they were very well behaved!” And I said, “Oh, you are just saying that because she didn’t ACTUALLY pull the fire alarm!” And the woman laughed and said, “No, really, we have 4 kids at home and yours were very well behaved!”

All in all, I would call that a successful evening out!

What tips do you have for taking the kids out to eat?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I Guess She Comes by it Honestly...

(Warning -- Bragging Mom Moment) Yesterday, my husband and I went to our daughter's school for a parent/teacher conference. We were fairly confident that she was doing well in school, but she even exceeded our expectations, which was a nice surprise! Of course she still has some things to work on, and one item the teacher mentioned had to do with her writing. She pulled out one of our daughter's stories (about the day our carpets were cleaned -- fascinating subject...) and the teacher said, "This was what we refer to as a "Short Moment" writing assignment. I have to say that your daughter's "Short Moments" are not that short..."

I called my friend Christine last night and I mentioned that to her, and she said, "Well, really, have you ever read YOUR BLOG? I can see where she gets it from!" Ok, I guess I can see her point!

So that is the end of today's post -- short and sweet! ;)

Friday, October 10, 2008

What's the Word - Binky, or Sucker...?

So, we apparently have a new nighttime game, my 2-year-old and I... I put her to bed, and we do our usual routine, we snuggle, I sing "Christopher Robin" (Return to Pooh Corner, actually), I lay her down in her crib, lay her blankets over her, and give her her binky (aka pacifier). We are slowly weaning her off of this -- our older daughter had hers much longer, and by this age she could take 2 steps without it. With our littlest girlie, we have somehow managed to leave "Binky" in her crib and she only uses it for naps and bedtime -- it's a beautiful thing!

She's pretty funny about it though -- the other day, she got up from her nap and I went in to get her out of her crib and she still had Binky in her mouth. I said in a silly voice, "Oh my goodness! What are you doing? We don't take binky out of bed! Binky has to stay here!" And she did the funniest thing -- she took it out of her mouth to give it to me, then stopped, put it back into her mouth for one last suck and then handed it over to me -- it was like she just needed one more hit off of the bink before she could let it go! Powerful drug, that binky...

Anyway, back to our new game -- I give her her binky, and she has it in her mouth and then says, "I like it!" and hands it back (as I've mentioned before -- not great with the word "don't"...), so I go into her changing table and get the back-up binky and trade with her. Now, for the first few days of this game, she would take the other binky and settle down to sleep. A few days wear on, and now tonight we volleyed back and forth with the binks -- she started with the first one, said "I like it" (shaking her head as if to say "No!"), I give her the other binky, she pops that in, takes it out, again "I like it", hands it to me, I give her back the first bink, and so forth and so on... This went on about 5 times in a row. My husband walked by and caught a bit of this and just shook his head and laughed.

So what do you think -- was she really having an issue with the binky, or was she just playing me to stay up later? Mommy's a sucker, huh? Yeah, I thought so!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bring Out Those Holiday Pictures!

I grew up in a family full of Kodak workers, and my father was a professional photographer -- translation, we take a LOT of pictures in our house! I used to let them pile up -- I was not great about putting them into albums. Then I started with those small, plastic albums that fit 100 4x6 pictures. Then I finally found a type of album where the photos slide in (I just hate those albums with the plastic film that peels off and the photo sticks to the sticky side...), and I especially love the ones with the lines to write a caption. So, I've gotten better about putting my pictures into something more "user-friendly" than a box in the closet. But my favorite thing is to actually display the pictures in frames -- I have tons of framed pictures out on display. People who come to our house probably think that we are ridiculously fond of ourselves... Again, my dad was a photographer...

Anyway, I always take tons of pictures at the holidays -- Christmas and Halloween, in particular. But I feel funny leaving such seasonal pictures out all year long, so for quite a number of years they stayed in the album (or the closet). Until I decided to make the house more festive at Christmas one year and I changed over my usual picture frames and filled them with pictures we'd taken from past Christmases. I left the regular pictures in the frames behind the Christmas pictures, to make it easier to switch them back -- I'm all about making things easier for myself!

I have always wanted to have a Halloween party, and this year we are having a Halloween-themed costume dinner party the weekend before Halloween, so I decided to pull out the cute pictures of the kids in costume and fill the frames. And then once again, when the holiday is over, I will leave those in the back of the frame so that I can easily switch them out again next Halloween! I think this is a great way to enjoy the seasonal pictures and also rotate your pictures so that you don't tired of looking at the same ones all the time!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fall Festival for Kids

On Sunday, our little family enjoyed a wonderful day at our town’s Fall Festival. We met up with Christine and her family and enjoyed the fall weather, the fun activities, and catching up with lots of other families that we know from preschool and elementary school. It was a relatively inexpensive day – no entrance fee, and tickets that were $ .50 apiece paid for each activity. Big surprise, I of course bought 30 tickets thinking, “I have 2 children, they’ll each do a lot of activities”… And of course that didn’t happen – my older daughter did a bunch of things, including riding a pony (7 tickets), but our youngest just enjoyed running around and having Daddy chase after her! So by the time we were leaving I was passing out tickets to other people.

It really was an enjoyable day and it made me think of how much fun and how easy something like this would be to put on for the kids. If you are looking for something to do to entertain the kids, get together with your friends or your moms group, and throw your own festival for the kids! You would need one person to volunteer her backyard, and each mom could come up with a craft or an activity. Here are a few ideas:

- Face painting – don’t worry if you don’t think your art skills are up to par – a simple flower, a snake, a ghost, or even whiskers on either side of the child’s nose and a dot of paint on their nose to make a cat!

- Stamping paper or fabric with stamps (rubber, potato, leaf or sponge) – at the town’s festival, we used rubber stamps in leaf prints and stamped designs onto white cloth the size of a bandana – this is a great time to pull out those old sheets that are stained or torn!

- Costume parade – if it’s a fall festival, have the kids dress in their Halloween costume and march around the neighborhood!

- Bird feeders – at the town’s festival, two older gentlemen helped the kids make bird feeders out of a coffee can, 2 plastic lids, a wire hanger, and a thin wooden dowel – this was very easy and the kids were able to decorate the cans with foam stickers. If you are interested in how to make this specific bird feeder, let me know and I will post the instructions. But, there are other simple ideas that you could also use, like the peanut butter / lard rolled pine cones with bird feed stuck into them, and hung with a string or ribbon.

- Sack races, relay races (egg on a spoon is popular!), ring toss – any of those are fun for kids.

- Make it a festive atmosphere playing your favorite children’s music in the background. Have fun treats like popcorn (serve it in brown lunch bags for a real “carnival feel”), cookies and cider or juice.

These are all simple ideas to get you started – use your imagination and brainstorm with fellow moms or even get the kids involved – this is a great “boredom chaser” for the kids that could be done any time of year. And you can be sure - my local friends - that we will be putting on our own carnival in the future! (Consider yourselves warned!) ;)

Help us brainstorm – what ideas do you have for fun festival activities?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Bad Dog!

My girls are always amusing (to me, at least...), but the latest thing that has been cracking us up, is what this little angelic face says when she is VERY mad! Usually it's directed at her sister or her mother... "BAD DOG, LULU! BAD DOG!" Or, "BAD DOG, MOMMY! BAD DOG!" I'm guessing she picked this up from Grandpa, who watches the kids at our house and brings "my brother" (the dog) over each day. I'm guessing Grandpa must have had to say this one or two times, and my girlie picked it up. Her sister tries to act indignant about being called a dog -- but mostly, we all just chuckle to ourselves! And my little girlie is always so serious when she says this -- she definitely saves it for when she really feels like she is being treated unjustly -- you know, like when it's bedtime and Mommy tries to get her jammies on her... I shared this little story with Catherine, my officemate and we both found it so amusing that for the rest of the day we were calling each other "Bad dog!" Hey -- it could be SO much worse!

Welcome, Fall!

Fall is my favorite time of year - hands down! My husband and I have always loved, "turtleneck weather" as we call it. It's such a cozy time of year - I love the smells of fall -- cinnamon, apples, pumpkin pie (mostly the votives that I burn almost non-stop this time of year!). The sounds -- crunching of leaves under your feet. And the colors -- bright orange pumpkins; red and green apples; yellow, orange and red leaves on the trees. It makes me want cook, snuggle up with my family, and decorate our home!

I did all three of these things this past week while my mom was in town. We had a great visit, I cooked up a bunch of our family favorites like a Thanksgiving dinner, homemade chili, and my grandmother's traditional "Saturday night hot dogs, baked beans & brown bread" (yes, as my friend Chris would be asking now, "Bread in a can?" Yes, Boston brown bread in a can -- delicious!) 'Course we had the Saturday night dinner last night on Friday, but Mom's plane left this morning! We spent a wonderful week visiting, the kids thoroughly enjoyed getting Nana's undivided attention during all of their waking hours -- my littlest one was still looking for her today -- I afraid she thinks Nana moved in with us! Mom flew in Sunday night and flew out early this morning (my older daughter and I woke up at 5:30am to drive her to the airport!) and since my girlie was at school all week while Nana was here, and because she was feeling very sad about Nana going back to Florida, I decided to pick her up from school at noon on Friday.

We spent the afternoon going out to lunch and then enjoying the beautiful fall day by driving around to different farm markets to pick up pumpkins, apples, mums, cornstalks and hay. Let me just say, the minivan was LOADED! I put the backseats down (stow and go) and covered the back with a tarp and loaded it to the gills! I even had to put the seat next to my girls' down, so that we could accommodate the long cornstalks! The girls enjoyed running through a hay maze, and hiding inside of a cornstalk tepee. They each picked out 2 pumpkins and Nana treated the little one to a ghost-shaped cookie and the older one to her favorite Jelly-Belly jelly beans (butter popcorn!). It was definitely an adventure, and we had lots of fun! I had hoped to make it to one last farm market, but when I sat my littlest girl on the counter (to keep her from running amuck in the store...) while I was checking out, and she said to me (as she leaned back to try and lie down on the counter) "You change my diaper?" Right here on the counter? Time to go home!

My girls love when the house is decorated for Halloween (ok, any holiday, but right now it's Halloween!). I hung up the dangling pumpkin lights and filled the candy dish with candy corn. Put up the Halloween signs and the silly-faced pumpkin figurines. And of course, I brought out the Halloween candle holders and burned some cinnamon scented votives -- now that says "Fall" to me!

What does your family do to celebrate the start of the holiday season?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Now I REALLY Need a Nappy All Day!

Hello there -- yes, I am still here! Life has been a little hectic lately, as I'm sure you all can relate to! Once we settled into the start of the school year, the next wave of chaos began -- the beginning of all of the extracurricular activities! My daughter is involved in dancing on Monday nights -- did I mention dance class expanding from 45 mins to 90 mins? And that the 90 minute class means that now we have to buy the shoes that total $50 instead of the $9 ballet slippers? Oh, sorry, that's just a small aside -- off the subject... ANYWAY, a friend of hers called the other day and asked her to join Girl Scouts, which started yesterday and will run every Tuesday night. And right in time for the cookie sale, that starts this Saturday -- PHEW! It would have been terrible if we had missed that! ;) And Sundays she is back to Sunday school, which started up again this past weekend -- so Sunday, Monday, Tuesday -- by Wednesday we'll be dropping from exhaustion!

But no dropping today -- yours truly decided it would be fun to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the family tonight! Granted, I did leave work early. I left at 1:30 and drove across town to the Girl Scout shop to buy a Brownie vest and patches that, THANKFULLY, are iron-on (which Daddy can be sweet-talked into taking care of!). And then over to my girlie's school to pick her up by 3pm, and then back to the house to bake a homemade pumpkin pie and prep the turkey for roasting... My mom (Nana) flew into town Sunday night to stay with us this week, and since we won't get to see her for Thanksgiving, I thought it would be nice to celebrate a little early. I insisted on cooking everything myself until finally after my mother asked over and over again if she could help, I gladly took her help with peeling potatoes. We had a very nice dinner, although after a few bites my oldest daughter decided her tummy hurt and she was done -- except she was sure a piece of pumpkin pie would make her tummy feel better. Uh huh. And my youngest, who lately is only interested in hot dogs (at least they are "lite" hot dogs...) and the occasional chicken nugget -- LOVED the turkey! So, apparently all I need to do to get her to eat protein is to whip up a Thanksgiving turkey -- no sweat!

It's nice to take care of my family -- all of them! -- but I am looking forward to curling up on the couch to relax a little now!