Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tae Kwon Do

Katie has wanted to take Tae Kwon Do for a long time.  She has seen and participated in many Tae Kwon Do demonstrations and had expressed interest in taking classes.  After seeing yet another demo last spring, we went to a demonstration class at a local TKD school and she had a great time!  They offered a summer camp and we signed her up to give her a chance to try the TKD before signing her up for long term classes.  It was awesome.  The only downside of the camp was that they taught all of the moves but didn't really focus on when to use them or the respect and discipline that is taught as part of the classes.  The instructors were impressed by Katie and they thought she was a natural.  We went ahead and signed her up for classes and just last Wednesday she had her first graduation from white to orange belt.  She has also been recommended  by the instructors to start black belt training and leadership training, two extra classes that she can take.  We have a meeting with the instructor next week to determine whether she is right for the classes.

I'm such a proud Mama!

Katie's favorite part, yelling REALLY LOUDLY!  AYAH!!

Fierce tiger Katie!

One of my favorite parts, Katie learning to sit and watch respectfully, like a black belt. :)

Receiving her orange belt.

I LOVE watching this guy teach Katie and the other kids.  I feel like I can learn so much as a parent and a teacher from his calm focused approach to teaching.  He is everything I could want in an instructor for Katie.

My proud orange belt!  Go Katie!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Time to catch up!

Time is flying!  So much has been happening and the pace is picking up now that we have entered my favorite season, FALL!! :)

We have lots of plans for this fall including a trip to the State Fair, the pumpkin patch for play and pumpkin picking, Halloween parties (a LOT of them!), trick-or-treating, and LOTS of yard work.

Here's a little round-up of what we have been doing for the last few months.

In July Katie started first grade!

She loves her new teacher and is doing fantastically in school after a slightly bumpy first month.  Her reading is off the charts awesome and she has started reading chapter books like the Magic Tree House and the A-Z Mysteries all by herself.  We even had a Mother/Daughter reading day one afternoon.  We sat on the screen porch together some weekend afternoon in July or August and each sat in a chair reading a book.  It warmed my book loving Mommy heart! 

Christian has been learning and developing as all little ones do.  His current desire is to learn to eat with a spoon.  

As you can see, he still needs a little work...

Fortunately, Katie is a little more practiced!

Christian is movin' and groovin'!  He is crawling and cruising, pulling up and climbing, but still not walking.  This photo, taken in September, was taken just after I turned around found Christian, totally full of himself, standing in the middle of the coffee table.  I wasn't fast enough to snap a picture of him standing but got this one right after he plopped down.

 Can't wait to go to the Fair tomorrow!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Candy Art

I saw this activity here on the Play at Home Mom blog (they have the BEST ideas!) and I knew that Katie would love to do it.  Then I thought, why not have some friends over to do it too?  It could be a cool fun play date!  So a date was set, supplies purchased, and a couple of neighbor friends invited.

Then...I started getting cold feet. What if the chocolate chips (the background) didn't melt the way they needed too?  What if it took too long to melt the chips and one kid was done before the next was?  What if...?  AH! I decided to do a practice run earlier in the day so I could smooth out any problems or come up with a plan B if I needed too.  The practice run went very well so I set up the invitation for Katie and her friends.  I was super excited about the whole activity.  I was imagining the kids faces as the walked in to this:

The invitation

The framing: She decided not to use the pretzel rods to frame her picture, she preferred to use gummy worms. 

How much candy can I put on this?

The one downside of this activity is that it didn't take very long.  They were done in about 15-20 minutes but managed to stretch it to 30 by putting candy on every. single. millimeter. of "canvas".  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  We did this a couple weeks ago and we STILL haven't finished eating ours!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Developmental Milestone Alert!!!

No, he's not walking yet, but today, Christian pulled himself onto the sofa by himself.  Yikes!  He had an easier time of it when he had my leg to grab on to in order to pull himself up but he was also able to do it just by holding on to the cushions.

He also had a great time at the playground today.  It had rained last night and it was muddy and wet so he only spent a few minutes crawling around the playground, the slippery slide, and the sand volleyball court.  He spent at least 15 MINUTES crawling and walking (holding my hands) up and down the hills to and from the playground and volleyball court and then crawling across the parking lot.  He especially loved climbing on and off the curb of the sidewalk into the parking lot.

Yes, I let my toddler crawl on hands and knees all over the (empty) parking lot, something I would never have done with Katie.  However, Katie was full on walking by the day after her 1st birthday.  I find, with a 15 month old non-walker, staying inside or on nicer crawling surfaces all the time is impossible.  He has the same energy depletion needs that other 15 month olds have who can walk and run and jump and climb playground equipment.  Since he doesn't do most of that, we have to punt.  He had a great time and I literally had to strip his dirty clothes off and hose the mud and sand and grass pieces off when we got home before taking him in the house.  I think I am going to wish I had an outdoor shower attached to my house with this one!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Christian loves the sand!  It is one of the few things that almost always keeps his interest for a long period of time.  He likes to dig, throw, taste, and squish.  He especially likes matching it with water so I made these two sensory bins for him to play in.  

 Eventually, he got tired of just playing with his hands and he started to get the rest of his body involved!

So, I bowed to his desires and created a poor man's sand box.  This is an under the bed box full of sand.  He loves it!  Katie also loves the fact that they can both play in the sand at the same time.  :)

Yay for sand!  Now I want an outdoor shower so I can rinse him off before he comes back in!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Sensory Play

As Katie was play cooking, I set up a sensory bin for Christian to play in with rice, pasta noodles, and colored shapes in it.  It was great but I think he would have liked it better 6 months ago before he was as mobile as he is now.  He absolutely loved it, for 5 minutes.  I am still working on coming up with activities that he will enjoy and can do (without walking or putting it in his mouth) but I'm not succeeding quite yet at coming up with good activities that will engage him for a longer period of time.

The invitation

The approach:  Hmmm, what's this?

Hmm, that looks kind of different.

Can I eat it?

Yes I KNOW you just cleaned the floors but really they needed an extra once over anyway.

The Dump: One of my favorite activities!

Oh, is that how you play with it?

You know, that's kind of fun!

Despite the number of pictures, this fun truly last a very short time.  We were vacuuming up rice for DAYS though! :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Play Cooking

I set this invitation up on a Friday night with the idea that Katie could play with this on Saturday morning while Jim was there and I got to sleep in.  The ingredients here are real spices and foods and lets kids practice "cooking" with something more interesting than just plastic foods in the play kitchen.

Side note: Since this uses spices, it could get very expensive.  I tried to minimize that by using old spices that I rarely use (ground mustard comes to mind, I've had the same bottle for about 15 years...), spices that are less expensive because they come in larger quantities (I get large bottles of cinnamon for example), and using other foods that are pretty cheap like quick oats.  Katie loved the different smells and textures of the ingredients.

The invitation

Starting to explore

Time for a bigger container!

Can I have more ingredients Mom?

How about some more? (When she wanted more ingredients, I used this as an opportunity to use up the last little bit of some different things that were taking up fridge space like the barbecue sauce bottles in this picture.) 

As an added bonus, I had given her cider vinegar as an ingredient and Jim offered her baking soda so her concoction bubbled right after she also added hot sauce to the mix.

Chef Katie!

Another good way to minimize the cost of this activity would be to use Dollar Store spices.  Katie LOVED this.  She spent a good hour on this activity and would have kept going if I had heeded her call for more ingredients.  I finally drew the line and she decided to finish.  Then she was too tired to help clean up but, after a short break, was able to help. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012


We had such an awesome day today!  It was one of those days where the schedule you are trying to implement, works. When the kids mostly work together, you have the time and mental wherewithal to follow your well-intentioned discipline or positive behavior strategy, no one has a meltdown (or you are able to stop the meltdown in progress), and everybody makes it to bed on time.

This was the kind of day I was hoping for when I decided to stay home.  I did my core strengthening video this morning and then got the kids up and ready for school.  After getting Katie to school this morning, I headed off to PT.  I have the time to treat my back as I need to to recover from my most recent spasm.  Christian and I stopped at the YMCA to check on track out swim lessons for Katie and then headed home for lunch and Christian's nap.  He went down without a fuss and I worked on setting up Katie's reward board (again, we had a technical problem and had to download it again).  We walked up to the bus stop and played with neighbors while we waited for the bus (and Christian was MOTIVATED TO WALK BY THE NEIGHBOR BOY!!!). After we got home, Katie decided to get out the sprinkler and played in that while Christian played on the driveway and I weeded some in the garden.  Then we played with the bat and ball we have and Katie thought that was awesome.  It was great to have the time and freedom to say "Yes, you can put on your swimsuit and play in the sprinkler for 30 minutes before you do your homework and yes, I will play ball with you."  I think we had some good love tank filling time today, something both Katie and I needed.  Even dinner, baths and bedtime was pretty good, despite the fact that Jim unexpectedly had to work late.

Oh, and the kitchen isn't too bad (ie, not a disaster), the bathroom isn't too bad post baths (also not a disaster), and my back was GREAT today.  Not perfect, but my new regimen seems to be helping.  Finally.

Thank you God, I needed a day like today.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


After the other day's philosophical and slightly depressing post, I thought I would follow up with a little nugget of fun I came across while surfing through some pictures on the hard drive yesterday. Christian playing peek-a-boo with Granddad in the crib.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Today I want to cry.

Today I want to cry in relief because the whole morning was a serious of almost catastrophes, but no actual ones.  I fed Christian oatmeal, which he got everywhere, but NOT on his clothes.  We were almost late for school but managed to make it just in time.  We even made it while the car pool line was active.  I put C in his rocking chair in the bathroom with his cup of milk while I was taking a shower instead of the exersaucer since he has been crying in the exersaucer.  He managed to completely flip the rocker over while still strapped in but didn't get hurt.  Almost catastrophes, but not actual catastrophes.

Today I want to cry in pain and in frustration because, after a wonderfully painless year, the week before July 4th, I suffered another spasm and have entered another battle in my war on back pain.  Last time it took a year, physical therapy, systemic pain meds, and a lot of hard work to get rid of the pain. Although the pain meds really helped the back pain, I had 4 months of negative side effects when I went off them so I am not keen to try them again.

Today I want to cry in fatigue because the pain makes it difficult to sleep and I am not getting enough.

Today I want to cry in anguish as my 1 year old son threw up all over the pool deck (AND all over Jim as he was riding on Jim's shoulders at the time) at the swim meet after sitting in the broiling sun for 2.5 hours.  He was in his stroller for much of this time and/or under the umbrella I brought as a parasol but there was NO breeze and I forgot the stroller fan.  I am normally much more attuned to how hot he gets and much more sensitive to it.  Maybe he threw up because it was something viral.  Maybe it wasn't my fault. Right now, though, my heart is breaking because he got over heated and I might have prevented it.


Today, I also want to cry with pride and joy because my sweet, sweet little girl who has worked so hard this season on the swim team finally got her reward.  My goal for her this season was for her to improve her attitude, to enjoy the season, the swimming, the fun and try her best and she did that.  But she went one better and she managed to win her heat of the 6 and Under girls freestyle tonight at the very last meet.  Since my girl never does anything by half, when she was handed her ribbon and realized she won, she screamed her joy to the whole pool deck and then proceeded to cry tears of joy.  The tears were short-lived but evidence of how big she experiences every emotion.  There is no happy and sad for my Katie, only ecstatic and miserable.  I will never forget the look on her face when she realized that she was the one getting the coveted rainbow ribbon.

Today, I wanted to cry, because it was just One. More. Thing.

Today I experienced the full spectrum of life and motherhood from the heights to the depths.  So today I will pray.  I will pray for stamina and for rest and for peace and for healing, for myself and my son.

Today I will also be thankful.  I will be thankful for relief, for almosts, but especially for little girls and overflowing joy.

Here is a picture of Katie sporting her very first heat winner ribbon, the coveted rainbow ribbon!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mean Mommy

I am a mean Mommy.

I am a fed up Mommy.  Yesterday, I got completely fed up with K telling me that she didn't like whatever I was making for dinner, immediately after hearing what I am making for dinner.  It doesn't matter what it is, she says she doesn't like it. "What are we having for dinner?" "Blah blah." "I don't like/I hate blah blah."  Without fail.  Every day.  Even things that she actually loves, and things she has never tried.  I could say that we are having ice cream for dinner and she would probably automatically respond that she doesn't like it.

Yesterday I broke.  I told her that the next time she said something negative about dinner when I tell her what is for dinner, she wouldn't get to eat.  Anything. So, tonight, when K asked me what was for dinner, I said, "We're going to have hot tuna sandwiches but I think we're going to have them cold today because it is so hot outside."  She immediately replied (almost before I finished talking), "I don't like hot OR cold tuna sandwiches." So, she bought herself no dinner for the evening.  She had a glass of milk while we ate dinner and then continued on with her bedtime routine.  It was a little bit of a problem right at dinner when she was hungry and then realized she wasn't going to get to eat anything.  Then, she seemed to accept it.  Now, she is in bed, but had a rough time about 20 minutes ago because she couldn't go to sleep because she is hungry.

So, was it a dramatic response?  Yes.  Jim and I struggle so much with discipline and guiding K to becoming a pleasant and productive member of society.  My big question with any disciplinary action I am taking as a parent is, does the consequence match the infraction?  In this case, I think yes.  The infraction is rudeness.  We have talked to her about being rude with her comments about what I have made for dinner.  K is a very verbal child in many ways and, in some ways, suffers from diarrhea of the mouth as a result.  She talks, just for the sake of talking.  If a commentator on TV says, "Julia Smith is there in the pink suit in lane 4." Katie repeats, "That's Julia Smith in lane 4.  She's wearing a pink suit.  Did you know she's wearing a pink suit Mom? Smith. Shmith. Shmit.  Her name is Julie Shmit.  Shmit is in lane 4.  I'm rooting for her."  I kid you not, this could easily be a word for word transcription of a miniscule part of a conversation with my daughter.

As a result of her highly verbal nature, she struggles with self control, which leads to rudeness and back to my point.  Although we have talked about how it is rude to say negative things about the food, that hasn't mad much impact.  She can't seem to keep the comments from spilling out anyway.  We are hoping, with this new consequence, that it will be memorable enough to tame her tongue somewhat.  I would hate for her to go to someone else's house, be told what's for dinner and respond with her automatic, "I hate that."  Now, you must understand that Katie doesn't get an alternate meal when she doesn't like dinner.  She eats what we have, I am not a short order cook.  I usually try to have a side dish that she likes (carrots or grapes or something like that) that she can fill up on as long as she eats a little of what ever we are having.  I will also allow her to eat a yogurt, if she has already had some of what we ate.  Mostly, this works well and she eats fairly balanced meals and tries many different foods.  And even likes them.

It's the rudeness.  I hope that this new consequence will impress itself upon her enough to change her attitude.  I can't stand rudeness, it is a pet peeve of mine, especially after teaching middle and high school.  My child will not be THAT CHILD that other parents are slightly appalled at when she comes over to play.

Side note: She had lunch AND a snack at 4:30 AND a glass of milk instead of dinner so she wasn't going to starve.  In case the internet police come after me...

Friday, June 29, 2012

My baby is ONE!

Wow, Christian is ONE YEAR OLD!!   However did that happen!?!  It's amazing and scary and emotional all at the same time.  Although Christian is one, he hasn't really taken on many of the characteristics that I associate with toddlers. He isn't walking, or even cruising and he isn't talking at all yet.   Although that is occasionally frustrating, it is also special to me because it allows me to hold onto my baby for just a little while longer.

(Update: 13 months now.  I wrote this a month ago.  See 2nd child syndrome below...)

Poor Christian.  He is a victim of 2nd child syndrome.  By the time Katie was one, there were many blog entries and posts with pictures.  In the first year of Christian's life, there have been only a few.  I have, however, endeavored to at least record in pictures what I have not recorded in words and pull out the camera regularly to document his progress and stages.  I do not want to forget the information, however, about when he started to move, how he moved, his first tooth, his hair, his smile, all those things that are uniquely his so I am going to try to document everything I can remember over the next little while.  I am writing this at 4am when I can't sleep.  That may be what it takes to get some of his babyhood recorded for posterity, but it will be time well spent.

Physical Development
Like his sister before him, Christian is a big boy!  He was nearly identical to Katie in size and length at birth, coming in at 9 lbs  2.9 oz and 22.25" long.  The doctors generally want babies to regain their birth weight (after losing some immediately after birth) by the two week visit.  Christian was an overachiever.  He had almost completely regained his birth weight by the first doctor visit at 4 days old!  We had a rough first few months with infant GERD (reflux), nursing problems, milk protein sensitivity, and being tongue-tied but every time I took him to the doctor, there was never a concern about failure to thrive.  In fact, the doctors had trouble believing that he had reflux, nursing problems, and milk protein sensitivity because he kept gaining weight.  What they didn't realize was that he was nursing every two hours during the day up until and even into 4 months.  The reflux and milk protein caused him so much pain and discomfort that he couldn't nap for longer than 30 minutes or so during the day.  So he would nap, and wake up screaming.  Then I, being a mom who loves and wants to help my child stop screaming, would think he was hungry and feed him.  Every. Two. Hours.  All day. Until he was 4 months old.  So he thrived and gained weight despite any problems we had.

Well, my computer battery is dying and that is all the time I gave myself for tonight.  I probably won't post this until the morning since I want to track down the rest of his stats to post along with it.  Good night for now!

Update: I actually wrote this a month ago but took awhile to track down the stats and then, shock of shockers, got busy again.  Better late than never!

22.25 in (99%)
9 lbs, 3 oz (90%)
13.6 in (25%)
2 weeks
23 in (98%)
10 lbs, 11 oz (90%)
14.3 in ((27%)
2 months
24.5 in (95%)
14 lbs, 9 oz (97%)
16.25 in (81%)
4 months
27.25 in (98%)
18 lbs, 6 oz (96%)
17.25 in (88%)
6 months
28.25 in (92%)
20 lbs, 13 oz (90%)
17.7 in (81%)
9 months
30.25 in (94%)
23 lbs, 10 oz (89%)
18.25 in (77)
1 year
31.5 in (91%)
24 lbs, 7 oz (73%)
19 in (91%)

Note: I actually posted 5 days this week!  Hurray!  

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Father's Day Yum!

For Mother's Day I got a wonderful breakfast in bed made by my daughter and wonderful and tolerant husband.  For Father's Day, we tried to make something special as well.  We had orange cinnamon rolls for breakfast (although not in bed) and Katie and I made these super yummy Frozen S'Mores from Easybaked.

It made 12 so he is still enjoying them!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Where was Christian??

Where was Christian during Katie's b-day party you say?  Splashing in the pool and hanging out, eating his first pizza!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

6th Birthday Success!

Despite Katie's comment earlier in the week that, by pool party, she actually meant a sprinkler in the yard...we finally managed to have her party AT the neighborhood pool and she had a great time.

We didn't really have a theme for the party but, after much deliberation, she decided on a rocket cake and it was AWESOME!  Katie loves space and spends a lot of time at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville with her dad so this was definitely a good choice.  Huge thanks to Eileen Sheldon of Sugar Mama's Cakes for this awesome Saturn V sister rocket, the Katie 6!

Even cooler were these cake pops that look like the sun, all of the planets (with great details!) and several stars.  I loved these!!

Happy birthday sweet girl!