Monday, August 25, 2014

Big Girl Bed!

Our little Miss Olivia has finally made the jump to a big girl bed!  A few weeks ago we took the front of her crib off, but she quickly requested that it be put back on.  The other day we tried again.  I moved her little playhouse and all her toys that used to be in the sun room into her bedroom.  I figured with the disruption of new things in her room, now might be the time to just change it all up on her.  She's done well, except that she keeps falling out of bed at every nap time and every night, at LEAST once.  The other kids all fell out of the toddler bed, but I don't remember it being this frequent.  SO, I wanted to share something that I found online with you.  I know that other people also have a "convertible" crib but don't have the toddler bed rail.  You can't use a regular bed guard rail with a crib because the mattress is too light to weigh it down and it's too big for the smaller mattress size.  I found this guy at and  I, of course, ordered from Target because it counted for my daily trip to Target for yesterday.  (Yes, I've already been to Target today.  If you were in the store around noon I'm sure you heard Vince throwing a fit.  I wish I were kidding, but I'm pretty sure it's an accurate assessment of the volume of his tantrum.)

I haven't gotten it in the mail yet, but it got good reviews.  Click here for the link at Target.  I was going to post a picture,'s a bed guard.  And I have to go get Caden from school to get fitted for yet another retainer.  Jack just LOVES these $80 chew toys.  I however, am not loving it so much.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Recipe Friday: Shitake Lettuce Cups

I LOVE this recipe!  This was one of the first recipes I wanted to try for Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.  As I've said before, I'm a big fan of Asian cooking and these were right up my alley.  They were pretty easy to make, once you did all the chopping.  The ingredient list is kind of long, but I didn't think there was anything too exotic.  The kids (except Caden) were intrigued to try them because of the lettuce cup "wrapper".  I cut the recipe in half and, sadly, didn't have a bite left over for lunch the next day! (I also omitted the Sriracha hot sauce because I didn't have any and I didn't want it to be too spice for Livvy.)

Reading At Bedtime

Well, last night was the first night of "school nights".  We showered everyone early and then started the bedtime routine.  However, I realized that our bedtime routine isn't quite as routine as it should be.  I did manage to get Olivia and Ellie down pretty early, Vince doesn't really matter because he doesn't start school for another few weeks but Caden...Oh, Caden.  Bedtime last night was 7:30.  All kids were in bed at 7:30.  At 10:30 Caden was still awake.  We hadn't battled him like this all summer!  I think he was anxious about going to school, or just wanted to prolong the inevitable as long as possible and honestly had trouble falling asleep.  I also think he's not really into this series of books that he's currently reading, since for the last few weeks he's been in bed, reading for a long time, but at least he's in bed and resting.  He would turn out the light at a reasonable time and just doze off all summer long!  Last night reminded me how it is during the school year.  So while they were all asleep and Caden was sneaking his iPod to bed (something he also ceased to do during the summer) I researched sleep on the interwebs.  I found lots of great information, most importantly confirming my thought that putting all kids to bed at the same time was not age appropriate for all of them.  There was just no way that Caden, at 9, needs the same bedtime as Olivia, at 2.  I was correct.  I found that Caden and Ellie need between 10-11 hours of sleep,  Vince needs 11-13 and little Miss Olivia needs between 12-14 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (this accounts for naps).  Since she seems to be the only one that's really doing OK with the current bedtime schedule, I figured I'd just keep her on the long end of that and put her to bed with Vince.  I also read that 1/2 hour before you want kids to be in bed asleep, you should start the bedtime routine.  This is where I ran into trouble.  So I searched for school age bedtime routines.  I feel like we just hose them off, brush teeth then off to bed.  What  I read seemed to say that they need more time to wind down, which I totally see with the older 3.  I also read some really good arguments for spreading out bedtimes because it allows you as a parent to focus on each kid individually.  I like this idea.  I feel like having 4 of them kind of turns them into sheep sometimes and I'm just herding them.  The best thing I read talked about reading to your kids, even if they can read themselves.  I like this idea too.  I said before that I wanted to read to them more, but this idea might actually work.  They talked about how this quite alone time with just the two of you can increase communication between you and your child now which will also build a better foundation for the teen years (something that I worry about with Caden and Ellie both.)
Ellie also gave me a fantastic idea last night.  I told her she had to be in bed.  She could read a book if she wanted, but she had to be in bed.  The book she choose as a fairy puzzle book.  On page has a story about the fairy, the other page is a wooden puzzle.  She placed it all out on her bed and quietly and calmly put the puzzle together.  When I came in to check that she wasn't out of bed playing or whatever it is that she's doing in there when she's supposed to be asleep, I realized she was really tired and just needed help with the last few pieces.  I helped her and she pulled up the covers and was asleep in minutes.  PUZZLES!  This has the potential to be a miracle for Caden!  I'm thinking that while I'm showering the younger kids and getting them ready for bed, Caden will have puzzle time.  After that he can shower, brush teeth then read in bed for awhile.  Since he'll be staying up (according to my new bedtime time table) an hour longer than the two little ones, I'll have plenty of time to read with him.  I love this idea because despite the fact that he's a fantastic reader, I'm always amazed at the speed at which he can read.  It makes me suspicious that he's not REALLY reading carefully or that he's skimming certain parts.  I can also check his comprehension as we read together.  Plus, I get to read what he's reading, learning what his current interests are and connect with him a little more.  Ellie and I read frequently because she's at that stage where she's pretty independent but still needs help.  We partner read a lot (she reads a page and I read the next) and we both enjoy this.  Of course Vince and Olivia need to be read to, but they're often hurried off to bed because we're trying to get everyone else in bed as well.  If the older two are puzzling, (Ellie can probably just play quietly in her room) this will give Evan and I each one kid to read with and we can divide and conquer.  This is SO important for Olivia because I see her love of books and it reminds me of Caden at that age.  Ellie and Vince never would sit still like Caden and Olivia do for books.  She'll sit with you forever if you read to her.  She has her favorite books that she wants to read over and over and over again.  Giving her my time like that is SO important in her development!  Sesame Street tells me about the First Three Year and how important it is to read with young children. If you can't trust furry, friendly monsters,  who can you trust?!

I'm excited to give this new bedtime routine a try.  It will probably go well because it's new and novel so they'll be inclined to go along with it well, but hopefully, the routine will take over.  Once it becomes "just what we do" hopefully bedtime will become less of a battle and more of a time for Evan and I to spend some quality time with each of the kids.

**I tweeted the articles that I read last night that helped me create my bedtime routine.

First Day Picture:
Vince was crabby--someone needs a better bedtime routine!

Missing one,  but a great pic of the other three!

Monday, August 11, 2014

9 More Days: Time to Start Thinking School and School Lunches

WOW!  When I started looking at my Summer Bucket List and began working hard to cross things off, I didn't realize that we'd be down into single digits so soon!  Only 9 more days left of summer vacation!  At this point, I'm not excited.  I talked to Vince last night and asked him if he was going to miss his brother and sister.  He was non-committal, but he was also in a bad mood and angry at the world.  It was a rip-you-sheets-off-the-bed kind of night.  (I'm not sure why he does this because it really only affects him, but whatever.  If that's as destructive as he gets, fine by me.)  I know Olivia will miss them and I will for sure.  The good news is that we'll soon be back full time when we go on vacation a few weeks after school starts (yes, I take them out of school, but I believe that sometimes life experiences are just as important as school.  Talking about physics is important, but actually SEEING how the kite flies is even better.  Learning about high tide and low tide is great, but seeing it in action is pretty amazing.  Plus, living with their grandparents and uncles for a week is important too. )

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Summer Bucket List

It's almost over!  For some reason the end of summer always sneaks up on me.  It's the 4th of July and half of the summer is still ahead and then all of a sudden it's time to start buying school supplies and  our days of sleeping in are over.  So as the summer winds down, I realize that all those things I told the kids we would do this summer need to get done.  It's time to start checking items off the summer bucket list.  So far we've gone to The McKinley Museum, the McKinley Monument and the Canton Children's Garden.  All Ellie has wanted to do this summer is go swimming at Dogwood pool.  I'm cheap and don't want to pay to go to Dogwood unless we're going to spend a full day there and so far, there hasn't been a day that's been nice enough when we don't have anything planned.  Sunday looks like the day though, which is bad because I have a feeling there will be lots of people trying to squeeze one more pool day out of summer on Sunday too.  We also have Baylor Beach passes we got last fall which we've never used. Gotta get there as well.  We have sleepovers that we need to plan and playdates that need to be set, all of the things I promised we'd do back in June and never got around to actually putting into the planning stage.

Yesterday we were at the store and a woman asked the kids if they were ready to go back to school.  Caden, of course, was a quick "No Way!"  but Ellie was quiet for a minute.  I don't think it had occurred to her that it was time to start thinking about that.  She's not one of those kids that LOVES school, but she doesn't hate it either.  I was interested to hear what she had to say.  I think once the seed has been planted and she gets these back to school shoes she's been thinking about she'll start to get in the back-to-school mindset.  Caden, on the other hand, will probably never be ready to go back.  He much prefers the pace of home, where he has devices close at hand all the time.  Vince likes school, but he's not starting until the second week of September, after our vacation, which therefore is a million years away in my mind.  Olivia I think will have the hardest time with back to school. She's used to having lots of people to help her and entertain her.  When everyone leaves and it's just her and I for 2 1/2 hours each morning and then just her and Vince in the afternoon, I think she's going to be bored and she's going to miss her biggest siblings.  Vince too, will feel the void they'll leave.  And me?  I'm not one of those moms

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cloth Napkins

I was going to do a blog about running, but I realized that I'm beginning to get a little obsessive about the whole running thing and I thought I'd spare you all the details of my quest to run 13.1 miles.  You're welcome.

Instead, I've decided to do a blog on how much I love cloth napkins.  YEARS ago I started using cloth napkins.  I thought for sure it would be really hard to do with two little kids (yes, two.  It was that long ago) but I was really surprised how much easier it is.  Recently I became the owner of a TON of paper napkins.  I thought I'd give the cloth napkins a rest and give paper another try.  I HATE it!  The kids hate it.  They tear and fall apart.  Each kid goes through at least two per meal.  Jack steals them and tears them to shreds all over the house.  (Well, I guess there is ONE fan of paper napkins in our house.)  They take up a ton of room.  My cloth on the other hand,