Thursday, January 27, 2011

Quite a pair

Aren't these two cute? When they aren't driving each other crazy, they really do get along well. When I picked Caroline up at the church nursery after MOPS, she was more excited to see Rylan than me. She kept asking to "hug and kiss Bubby." Here Caroline asked if they could "cuddle" on the ottoman, and I snapped a shot of the sweetness.
We have stayed pretty busy this month. Our first MOPS meeting of the new year was cancelled because of cold and snow, but we have had several warm sunny days in January. One week, we were able to go the park three days in a row. That cured quite a bit of our cabin fever. Tomorrow is supposed to be nearly 60, so you can be sure we will be hitting the park again....after the kids' dentist appointment. :-(
Rylan started his sports class at the Little Gym this week and they are learning how to play hockey right now. He has a large class, about 10 boys and 2 girls and one of his teachers is a guy. Mr. Matt used to work with Athletes in Action, a division of Campus Crusade, the ministry Charlton used to work for. Pretty cool. The first week, I had a deja vu moment when Rylan left the gym crying because Mr. Matt told him "no spitting." You see, Rylan almost always transforms into a robot or superhero at Little Gym and his mouth is a "gun." We had a little talk about not shooting our mouth guns at Little Gym, and Rylan was able to pull himself together and return to class. He did tell me he didn't like Mr. Matt anymore, which normally happens when another adult has to correct him. This past week, Rylan seemed to remember the "no spitting rule" and also decided he now likes Mr. Matt. Huge progress. I am so glad for him to have this time to interact with lots of different boys, and take instruction from a male teacher.
Besides Little Gym, Rylan has loved working on his puzzles lately. He can assemble most of them by himself. He is also dressing and undressing himself with minimal help from me, learning how to buckle his car seat by himself, put both his shoes and socks on (not in a timely manner, but can't be too picky yet), help me clean up toys and work in the kitchen. He always asks me if he can help make meals. It takes all my patience to involve kids in the kitchen, but I am trying to think of ways for him to participate that are fun and safe. He can recognize his letters and most of their sounds. He also can recognize his numbers and can count to the 20's and beyond. I need to get cracking on checking out preschools for this fall.
Rylan likes his own space and as long as his sister isn't invading it, he loves her. They love to play hide and seek and a game where they simply circles around the dining room table, over and over again. Often Rylan invites Caroline up to his room to play, (she doesn' t know he is just using her because he doesn't like to be alone upstairs!) If she doesn't come upstairs willingly, he has been known to bribe her with a "free baby doll." One day I heard Rylan calling for me from his room and something in his voice told me I needed to come right away. You moms know that feeling? Thankfully I did, because when I ran into Rylan's room, he was kneeling on the top bunk, holding on to Caroline's hands for dear life. Caroline was dangling from the railing several feet above the floor. I don't know whether Caroline had a better grip on the bed or Rylan had a stronger grip on her, but somehow she managed to hang on for many seconds before I got there. We told Rylan he was definitely a super hero that day, and he was quite proud of himself for "saving Caroline."
Sweet Caroline is talking with longer strings of words all the time. This week she said her longest sentence to date: "Bubby, don't push me down!" Hmmm! She loves, loves, loves to sing. Her MOPS teacher told me this week that she is talking up a storm and they had to sing "Jingle Bells" at her request. She also loves yogurt, and my homemade cranberry/almond/chocolate chip biscotti. We have to eat some of each every day. She is mischievous and loves to climb. If something is out of reach, she just moves a chair across the room and continues on her mission. Things pushed to the back of the cabinet aren't even safe any longer. I am happy that Caroline is enjoying books more, even asking for certain books we have from the library. She used to not have the attention span for most books, but is certainly growing up in that area.
She is so affectionate and I love her hugs and kisses. Caroline will throw tantrums when she doesn't get her way, but they are usually intense and brief. Mostly she is just stubborn and persistent. She will do the same naughty thing over and over again just to see if I will always react the same way. I know she is getting into trouble when it is too quiet, but if I ask what she is doing, the answer is always the same, "nothing."
Poor girl has a fever today. We were at church on Sunday and for MOPS Tuesday, so she could have picked up a bug.
My brother and his wife visited us last Wednesday. They found a great deal on tickets from Southwest a couple months ago and booked this trip for Emily's birthday and some "alone" time without three kids. I thought my brother was unusually quiet after they arrived, but just chalked it up to tiredness. Well, he just kept wanting to sleep more and more and was complaining of other symptoms that eventually turned into the full-blown flu. Poor Emily started feeling bad too on Friday. We were so disappointed they had to spend their special trip fighting the flu. I am thankful it happened during the only year both the kids and I had been fully vaccinated. Charlton was out of town for his business trip also, so I was glad he wasn't really exposed.
Just two more busy weeks, then I will be going per diem at work. I can't wait! I think February might be the new "New Years 2011" for me this year.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh what a show!

Rylan's last week of his gymnastics class at the Little Gym was this Wednesday. I remember thinking January seemed so far away when we enrolled in Septmember, but the time flew by. He looked forward to his class each week, loved his teacher Mrs. Evelyn, learned to follow directions better, take turns with other kids, and even tackled a few new skills.
The last week was called "Show Week" and parents and family members were invited into the actual gym so each child could demonstrate their skills up-close. I haven't been able to go to a lot of Rylan's classes because of working, so I was really excited to see him on his special day. The teachers reminded us parents to keep realistic expectations of our kid's behavior that day, and little did I know they would be talking to us!
Rylan's good buddy arrived soon after he did. The two boys were doing some good-natured "boxing" moves and Rylan's friend accidentally got slightly hurt from a bump to his glasses. Unfortunately, Rylan's friend was never able to recover from that rough start, couldn't be comforted and had to leave class without participating at all. I felt terrible that we played a role, however accidental, in ruinig his big day, but was thankful that Rylan seemed on track with participating. At first... He made it through the balance beam and the uneven bars before the "pressure" got to him and his naughty switch flipped. Then started what turned out to be the biggest meltdown of Rylan's young life. We ended up leaving class early as I had to haul Rylan out to the car, barefoot, kicking and screaming. At the end the class, they put out a podium, played Olympic music, and awarded each child a medal. Rylan missed it all because he was crying hysterically and refused to go up there. (While we were occupied with her brother, Caroline thoughtfully streaked to the podium during another child's turn to claim the medal for him.)
Rylan screamed the entire drive home, threw toys out of his room, refused lunch, and finally cried himself to sleep. We were all exhausted and really sad to see what should have been a special day so spectacularly ruined. Shouldn't these tantrums be over now that he is 4 years old? The poor guy hasn't been sleeping great this week and he definitely doesn't handle change well, so I guess it was an explosive combination.
Charlton did get some good pictures before the Huge Meltdown of 2011. You would never be able to guess the drama that is coming..

Hello Rylan!

He really loves the uneven bars and we practiced on the tree branches in our front yard all during the fall.

Showing off some upper body strength.

Great flip, buddy.

Rylan likes the balance beam, too.

Showing off his balance with his wonderful teacher, Mrs. Evelyn.

As much as Rylan loves his gymnastics class, Caroline goes absolutely crazy with joy on the equipment. When she had an opportunity for some free play with Rylan's class, she raced around so fast to each station, I could hardly keep up. Her face says it all! I hope we will be able to let her take her own class when she gets a bit older.

Rylan starts his sports class this week. I am having PTSD just thinking about going back to the gym. Valium anyone?

Finally a frame!

For Christmas, my parents helped us frame this beautiful print to hang over our mantle (their Christmas present to us last year!). We have had this print rolled up in storage since we moved to Colorado and have been wanting to frame it for years. It was just one of those things that we could never seem to find the time or money to do. Thanks to my mom and dad for helping make our living room look so much more beautiful!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A few "Papa" pictures

I wish I could share all the great pictures my Dad took during his visit. Here are a few of my favorites.

Nana & Papa's visit

We were so blessed to be able to celebrate Christmas with my parents also this year. They packed up my dad's truck and made the looong two day trip west to Colorado. I hadn't seen my parents since June and my dad had heart surgery in October, so I was especially thankful to spend time with them. My dad is a great photographer and I love the wonderful pictures he took of us and the kids, even though that meant I didn't get many pictures of him!
After being cooped up indoors and eating lots of yummy holiday food, we were really excited about doing some hiking at Mueller State Park. It is only about 1 1/2 hours from home, but really satisfies my longings for being outdoors and seeing the mountains. It is always much colder up her than in the Springs, so we weren't sure how long we would be able to be out with the kids even though we bundled up in lots of layers.

Our actual hike was very cold and windy, but for some reason the wind died when we came to this clearing with a great view at a high place on the trail. The kids got to play in the snow and we snapped some pictures.
What a view!
The Monroe and Clarke women love to hike.

Caroline is a great hiker, it was just hard for her to move as bundled as she was!

I know Rylan was cold, but he was a great sport also and hardly complained.

This was about the best picture we could get of Nana and her Colorado grandkids.

Christmas 2011

We had a special visitor Christmas eve night! This is the view that awaited the kids when they looked down from the upstairs balcony.

Opening presents.

Caroline checks out her stocking.

Caroline opens a present from Aunt Bethany. She seemed a little overwhelmed by all the gifts and we had to encourage her to open them. Even then, she wanted to meticulously peel all the paper off each package.

Rylan knows exactly what to do with the presents.

Caroline has a crown to match her tinkerbell dress. I can imagine some dress-up sessions in her future.

Thanks to Grammy for my great new boots. I have been wanting a pair like these for a long time.

This picture cracks me up because only on Christmas Day would Rylan be allowed to play in the sandbox in his pajamas with his new Godzilla doll. And how crazy that it would actually be warm enough on Christmas Day to play outside for a little while in just his pajamas! That's the way it has been all this winter here in Colorado, although we finally got a taste of snow and real winter on the 30th.

Rylan has puzzle mania. Thanks to Nana for the gifts of all his puzzles, and especially the cool construction scene puzzle from Christmas this year. Charlton and Rylan had fun putting all the puzzles together at once.

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

Another one of my favorite pictures and a very common scene at our house this Christmas. We loved having Bethany here for her first Christmas in Colorado. She and Caroline are best buddies and they love cuddling on the couch together.

Christmas Eve

Grammy flew in to visit us the night before Christmas Eve. We hadn't been able to spend Christmas with her since Rylan was a baby, so this was a special treat. We appreciate her braving all the holiday crowds to fly out to be with us. I had to work, so while I slept on Christmas Eve, Grammy, Charlton, and the kids went out to lunch and did some last minute shopping. After dinner, we let the kids open a few special presents and their gifts from Grammy.

We let the kids open a special movie on Christmas Eve. Poor Rylan looks dazed by the flash, and I love the way he is holding the movie. Ooops!
Neither of the kids would cooperate for a joint picture with Grammy, so I had to settle for this cute one of Caroline and her Dora mermaid doll from Grammy.
Someone is getting sleepy and wonderfully cuddly.
Caroline gives Dora a hug.
Charlton and Rylan had just seen the movie, so Ry was super excited about his Tron action figure and light cycle.
I love the way Rylan's tongue is sticking out because he is so focused on his toy!

Preparing cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.
Santa later traded the cookies and milk for presents.... Each child had their own chair this year, a nod to traditions of Charlton's childhood. At least Mama is looking forward to what is to come, since my kids don't look too happy. The kids went to bed and slept well without any trouble. I guess they are still too young to completely anticipate Christmas morning. We set up all the presents, and relaxed by the fire watching "Christmas Vacation."

Gingerbread train

Sorry for being so far behind on my Christmas posts. I am trying to catch up before Valentines Day! Ha! We had a wonderful Christmas filled with visits from family, delicious food, great gifts; all of our favorite ways to celebrate Jesus' birthday.
It has just taken me a little while to recover from all the fun, still having to work my regular 2-3 nights a week, and keep things running at home. Also, my etsy shop went crazy with business right around New Years, so I have turned out at least 4 dozen hairbows in the last week and a half! Its a good problem to have, one that has me stumped because I probably filled that same amount of hair bow orders in the entire last year.
Back to Christmas... I found a cute gingerbread train kit at the grocery and saved it for one of those cold, stay-at-home days leading up to Christmas. I had never made one with the kids before and we had a great time. And the train turned out exactly like the darling picture on the box....

The kids were very proud of their work and didn't seem to mind the decorations and icing drooping a bit.
Nobody would look at mama with the camera while they were busy "working."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Laundry room before and after....

I usually feel more motivated to clean/re-organize/de-clutter near the end of the year. This year has been no exception and when I found some cute fabric on sale at Jo-Ann's a few months ago, I started planning my laundry room make over.

Before: cluttered shelves, bare window, ancient ugly laundry basket
After! I got my curtain idea from The Nester's window mistreatments. It was a super easy, no-sew kind of window covering. I was pretty happy with the way it turned out, and it definitely satisfied my curiousity for trying this style of curtain. I re-used the baskets from my kids' nurseries, painting over the cherry wicker with an off-white. I think they may need another coat of off-white paint, but they are quite useable in the meantime. Much better than the jumble of bottles and can. On the opposite wall, I hope to frame my kid's artwork sometime in the future.

I was able to finish the basket liners in an afternoon.

I love the curtain fabric, the inspiration for it all.
While I can't say laundry is more fun now, it does make me smile to see these cheerful blues and greens and my pretty, organized baskets.