Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ruby at 15 Months

Here's a peek into what Ruby is liking, loving and doing at 15 months.

Reading I Love You, Stinky Face

Eating blueberries

Playing with all the books (she'll clear her bookshelves, the boys' bookshelves, bring books to us to read, sit and shuffle through books, stack books...she loves 'em, especially these small ones she can fit nicely in her hands)

Watching Sesame Street, for short spurts (she seems to love Murray the most)

Wearing leggings

Working on animal sounds (so far she can "quack" and she puckers her lips for "moo" but no actual sound comes out)

A few other tidbits...
  • Ruby loves baths.  Loves loves them.  When Reed is taking his bath, she tries to climb in, too.  She does not, however, like getting her pjs on after her bath.  There's something about that routine that she doesn't find enjoyable.
  • She is a great eater but she's starting to become a little picky, especially with her vegetables.  She'll pick them up one by one and chuck them onto the floor.
  • Ruby sleeps great at night but it seems she's starting to transition from two daytime naps down to one.  Right now, she is inconsistent and often times she'll opt for a morning nap and forego the afternoon nap.  It doesn't make the late afternoon/early evening all that fun.
  • We're still waiting on more teeth.  It seems like I've been saying "they'll be in any day now!" for forever, but still nothing.  She's had a few rough patches during the night this past week so maybe, just maybe one is on its way out?
  • She is understanding more and more.  She can follow simple instructions and identify certain objects.  She says "Mamamama" and "Da" (Dad) and "yah" (yes) and "hi" and her quack sounds like "ack".  She can sign "more" and she gives a little I-don't-know shrug sometimes when she's all done eating.
  • We're working on identifying body parts.  I'm fairly certain she's got "tummy" down.
  • She's been able to climb up the stairs since December, but just this month successfully climbed down.
  • When she sits down on a lap or in her highchair, her ankles automatically cross.  Cutest little thing.
  • Previously she would lean in with a big open mouth when we would ask for a kiss.  She's learned how to pucker, and boy is it irresistible.
  • I finally worked her hair into pigtails!  Ack!  
  • At the right time of day, Ruby is a little busy body.  She just wanders from here to there, exploring and observing and finding and returning again.  Every step she takes is another step towards full-blown toddlerhood.

*UPDATE*  {2/27/15}

Ruby and I stopped into the pediatrician's office yesterday afternoon for her 15-month check-up.  She is 31 inches long and weighs 22 pounds 12 ounces (both in the 50-75th percentile).  Her head is still in the 98th.  Of course.  :)  She's looking and feeling great!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Love is Grand

I've already shared just a few photos from our Valentine's preparations last weekend, so now for the details and final routine-up of how we celebrated Love Day.

I like to do as much creative/hands-on activities with the boys as I can, which translated means, with as much energy and time will allow.  Which, unfortunately, lately, hasn't been much.  But with Brad gone and time to kill and wanting to keep the boys occupied and happy, I had planned on them working on their classroom valentines last Saturday.  Because I knew it would require a little prep work on my part, I had found a few ideas on Pinterest that I hoped would catch the boys' attention.  Drew is super into Minecraft, so I found these printables and he loved them.  And I've been eyeing this crayon melting project for a really long time, so knowing that Reed is my crafty kiddo I hoped that he would love the idea.  And he did!  We found a printable valentine HERE that coordinated wonderfully with the crayons.

The greatest part about this whole project is how independent the boys have become.  Drew was able to do all of his completely on his own, and aside from peeling the paper off some of the crayons and the use of the oven, Reed was able to do his, as well.  So awesome.   

That's the first time we've had such a project done with plenty of time to spare!  Yay us!

We also baked up some Valentine's cookies while Brad was away.  They were frosted and sprinkled and then gobbled up, faster than I could get an "after" picture. :)

On the 11th, our usual Wednesday night church programming was interrupted by a family celebration night.  Three times throughout our program year, we celebrate families by hosting a special night at our church.   This time, the focus was on love.  Brad and his incredible team of special event volunteers put together a super fun night of celebration and togetherness and laughter and meaning.  The highlight of the night was a live taping of "The Family Wed Game" with our host, Church Woolery.

Handsome fella, I know.

Four families were chosen to participate, and there was a lot of intense competition and so much laughter as we learned more about the dynamic duos that make up the Moms and Dads of each group.

I love our church.

The boys' classroom parties were on Thursday, the 12th (no school for these kiddos on Friday due to a teacher development day).  Once again, the boys' parties were scattered and Brad's schedule was flexible so that I was able to help in both of the classrooms.  Reed's class did a rotation of stations with five different crafts/activities, then watched a movie and had snacks.  Drew's class had a craft, game, and yummy snacks, too. 

Once we got home after school, valentines were opened, candy was sorted, and Reed even shared his valentines with Ruby.  She got all the girly ones. :)

Our love celebrations here at home are usually pretty minimal.  I typically have a handful of ideas I'd like to try, but the holiday sort of sneaks up on me, as it's so quickly after Drew's birthday.  So I opted to keep it relaxed and keep myself pressure-free (pressure which is always self-imposed) and I cooked up a very special Valentine's dinner for Friday night.  (Nope, not actually Valentine's Day, but meltdowns could commence if Saturday night pizza night was interrupted.)

Pink and white heart pancakes, eggs, bacon, strawberries & bananas, and a trail mix of chocolate chips, marshmallows and Valentine M&Ms.

I love love.

I love my people.

I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Many - perhaps all - of the photos on yesterday post were texted to Brad throughout his weekend away.  He spent a lot of his days sitting and waiting and reading and sitting some more, and he had to text me exactly once asking "Any cute kid pictures?" and I began snapping and sending away.  

In addition to all of those photos, I sent Brad daily "Rubygrams" - one particularly adorable photo of our daughter to bring him a smile and because oh my goodness have you seen this girl?!  She's crazy cute and especially delightful!

Not to brag, but I'm fairly certain this girl would bring some joy to anyone's day.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When Dad's Away

On occasion, Brad has reason to leave us for the weekend.  99.9% of the time, it's for work.  It will usually be from around the dinner hour on Friday to mid-afternoon on Sunday - not at all a long period of time, but long enough, for sure, to manage life around here with three littles all on my own.

They aren't my favorite weekends.

It's hard, and I can have some especially rough moments.  I get by on less sleep because I'm one of those women who doesn't sleep well when her husband is away.  Consequently, less sleep also means less patience, paired with a bit of irritability and a low tolerance for misbehaviors.  

Yes, I'm tired, and solo-parenting is exhausting, and I can blame so much of my attitude and mood on those two excuses alone.  


I am also distracted.  I am constantly moving.  Always having to be doing something, or at the very least, my mind is swirling with nearly eight million things that I should do, need to do, want to do, would rather be doing, etc etc etc.  I'm mentioned a few times here how my ability to focus and follow-through has been lacking, and my ability to discern and prioritize tasks is especially weak.  And I have noticed, increasingly, that these behaviors and thoughts occur most frequently when I'm doing something with my kids.   


More and more, I am taking to heart what every one of the older generation has been telling me since I became a mother: "Enjoy this time.  Enjoy your babies.  It goes by so fast."  Of my many personal goals for this year, slowing down to be with and enjoy my children is at the very top of the list.  Focusing on the fact that they will be this young only for a short while, and that I don't want to miss a thing, will shape my perspective from "busy busy get things done" to "slow down and see".  Gaining control and focus and prioritizing my time will benefit greatly in the long run, in terms of slowing down both my body and my brain and allowing room to focus on my kids.

So when it was needed for Brad to be gone this weekend, instead of dreading and mildly freaking out, I decided to embrace it.  I likely can give a lot of credit for this due to the last minute nature of Brad's plans - his sister was having significant and serious surgery on Friday and it was more than important for him to be there for her and with the rest of his family - so it was decided Wednesday that he would leave Thursday.  This didn't give a whole lot of time to not look forward to him being away.  And considering what Brad's weekend away would entail, he had the tougher job, so my job was to hold down the fort here so he could be there. 

So with a better attitude on board, Brad left after I took the kids to school on Thursday morning, and I must've been in a good mood because I allowed this to happen after dinner.

Pure insanity.
It was funnnnnn...but let me go on record to say that that will never happen again. :)

The weekend kicked into gear Friday after school, when I took the kids to the library.  We spent about an hour there before heading over to the mall for dinner, then killed a little time at Target.  Just for something fun to do - likely, more fun for me than for them, but Drew did do a little looking for what he might like to spend some of his birthday money on.

The boys had asked if they could camp out on the air mattress on the living room floor, so when we got home, we got everyone settled and put on a movie.

Our Saturday morning included our regular TV show viewing,

and once Ruby fell asleep for her morning nap, Drew, Reed and I played the Pokeman card game.  (This game is something else - so multi-faceted and complicated and wow is it not intended for adult play.  It's too hard!  But it is also a game that Drew has taken a liking to so for that reason, and that reason only, I'm learning how to play under the condition that I will only play it on the game is certain to last over an hour!)

One of the activities I had in mind for us to do to keep our hands and minds busy on Saturday was to work on the boys' Valentines for their class parties.  So after lunch we set to work (more on their Valentine's in a later post).

The rest of the day included another movie (the boys couldn't agree on what to watch so they each watched their own, one upstairs and one downstairs), general play around the house, some quiet reading time, our usual Saturday night pizza picnic, and another campout on the living room floor.

Sunday was pretty usual, too (church, lunch, Skype with Grammy & Papa, play).  I had sugar cookie dough in the freezer (made in December but never baked into Christmas cookies) so we decided to make Valentine's cookies.

I texted this photo to Brad and said "I'm totally rocking motherhood right now.  Orrrrrrrr I'm incredibly stressed and need to eat my feelings.  You decide."  ;)  {The cookies were later frosted and adequately sprinkled.}

Boredom clicked into high gear late afternoon, and arguing between brothers ensued.  And more arguing between brothers, and then even more arguing that it about sent me over the edge so video games were revoked until they could be kind to one another and each boy was sent to their separate corners to just be quiet please for a little while!  *whew!* 

Back to school yesterday for the boys and usual tasks for Ruby and me as we anxiously awaited Brad's return last night.

All in all, we had a pretty great weekend.  The boys and I had a few *moments* but they were not unlike any such moments we'd have if Brad were home.  The boys are very much in the throes of "being brothers" right now, so there is much to be disgruntled about (in each other, according to each of them).  The tasks of parenthood and the managing of three kids can get a little hairy when doing it solo, but it's totally do-able.  With flexibility and cooperation, the four of us got done what we needed to get done every day.  But it's the job of doing the actual parenting that gets wearing and tiring and difficult when I have to do it on my own.

Needless to say, when Brad comes home, we're all very excited to see him.  

All of this to say... my kids are awesome.  And I will miss this time so, so much once it's over.  And while solo-parenting is exhausting, when I just slow down and breathe and decide to foster a positive attitude instead of a dreadful one --- things turn out alright.

And thank God for my husband!  While I believe that if, God forbid, I'd have to do this single parenting thing permanently, I would do well... I'm grateful every single day that I don't have to.

{P.S.  Brad's sister is recovering really, really well.  Please send all extra prayers her way!}

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Best

Me: "Am I the best, or what???"

Reed:  "You're so close, Mom."

Nothing like a big bowl of humility served up on a Saturday morning.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Sick Days

On Tuesday afternoons I spend a little time helping out in the boys' classrooms.  This last Tuesday, I was scheduled to be in Reed's class.  I was waiting for his class in their room as they made their way back from Spanish, expecting a huge smile and a "hi!" from my son.  When he walked in, he was stone faced and somber-looking, and he walked over to me and said, "I don't feel good.  My tummy hurts."

To which, of course, I pulled the classic Mom-line "Do you need to go to the bathroom?"

After peeing (which was, of course, not what I meant), I sat down with him for classroom read-aloud time, and finally felt his forehead.  He was on fire.  Going #2 isn't going to help that - way to go, Mom!

I took him down to the office, took his temperature, and promptly signed him out to go home when the thermometer registered 101.8*.

(In hindsight, I think Reed likely suffered through the morning as I don't think he knew he could tell his teacher he wasn't feeling well.  School is still new and he didn't know what he was supposed to do.  Thank goodness timing was on our side and I just happened to be there when he needed me to be!)

Upon returning home, he promptly laid down on the couch and fell asleep.  Over the next several days, his fever came and went, he struggled with a cough, and he was mighty fatigued.  He's our active kid, so when he stops himself in the middle of play to curl up on the couch to sleep, we know he isn't feeling well!  He did this several times over the course of the next four days.

After staying home both Wednesday and Thursday (resting right there on the couch with his favorite blanket, Tigger, and the remote control), we thought he had finally caught a break on Friday morning, when he woke up perky, with no fever, and stating he felt good.  His cough was still apparent, and I told him it would probably be best if he stayed home one more day to rest.  To which he started crying, saying "But I want to go to schooooooolll!!"  Now, when your kid starts crying because he wants to go to school, it's hard to resist.  Likely against my better mommy judgment, I agreed that he could try, but I told his teacher to please call me if he started showing signs.  He made it through most of the day, but sure enough, at 2:00 the school called asking me to come get him.  His fever was back, only 99*, but Reed wasn't looking well.

Such a bummer.

So back to the couch and naps and TV time for the next day and a half.

{Not the stomach flu (thank goodness) but the bucket is for the pukes.  Reed can cough so severely that he ends up tossing his cookies.  So glad he's old enough now to aim!}

By yesterday morning, all of his symptoms had subsided with the exception of the occasional (but much less severe) cough.  He wasn't exhausted like the days before but I could tell he was still a little slow moving.  I was cautiously optimistic that by today, he'd be ready for school, which he likely would have been...but then snow, winds, and cold air rolled in, prompting the school district to cancel school by 6:15 last night.

I would've been right.  Had there been school today, Reed would've been there.  When he asked for an egg carton, popsicle sticks and scissors to make a pair of glasses...

...I knew he was a-ok!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Assemble the Minions!

We first began chatting with Drew a couple weeks ago about what he wanted to do for his birthday.  I tried to emphasize doing something different; he's been to a few "destination" birthday parties (bowling, arcade, swimming) so I wanted to throw out the idea of inviting just two or three friends to do something along those lines to celebrate turning eight.  After his party last year, I know he's to the age where a party at home (snacks, games, etc) isn't the thing for him any more.  He friends would much rather just be together to be crazy and do whatever they want, than have some kind of organized extravaganza to attend.  And it's getting a bit exhausting, the Christmas hustle followed so closely by Drew's birthday, which is then closely followed by Reed's birthday (and now, of course, with Ruby's birthday kicking it all off in November).  Unfortunately, after some (minimal) discussion...he didn't take the bait.  Instead, he did the exact opposite, telling me he wanted a Minion party and making a list of 12 friends he wanted to invite.


This was tough.  Drew considers all of his friends "good friends" or even "best friends" so he couldn't even take to the task of minimizing 12 to six, nevermind down to two or three.  He has such a loving and well-intentioned heart and he just couldn't leave anyone out.  So, in trying not to squelch said loving heart, we took his lead on this one, sending out 12 invitations.

{Found THIS ONE on Pinterest and modeled mine after it.}

In trying to find an activity to keep all these kids occupied while they'd be here (and knowing that organized party games wouldn't do), Drew and I decided that watching a movie would be a great option.  Drew loves movies, especially Despicable Me 2.  So we planned on a dinner party time - watch a movie, order pizza, done!  And you bet your bottom dollar I hoped and prayed that only half of Drew's buddies would be able to show!

I had six RSVPs by Thursday.  Whew.  Totally manageable.

And then four more came in, including #10 just yesterday morning.

This does not include my own three children.


So last night our house was full.  And it was loud.  And there were a few brief overwhelming moments (even for Drew - not that he flipped out or anything but you'll see it on his face in one of the pictures below).  But all in all, it was fine.

We'd just started the movie, and *I wish* this stillness had lasted the whole time.  But alas, 12 boys in the same room at a birthday party will not be kept idle.  About half sat still and watched the movie in its entirely, and the other half were up and down and playing and bouncing and moving and, welp, being boys.

Pizza, picnic style...

followed by cake and ice cream.  (This is the picture I was talking about.  He looks a little overwhelmed if you ask me!)

The night ended with Drew opening some pretty awesome gifts from his buddies.

It was a lot.  A lot of boys.  A lot of noise.  A lot of activity.  And it is likely that Drew's birthday party days are over (we will be strongly encouraging him to do something different when #9 rolls around), not because of this party in particular but because it is just time to do something different.  But I have to say --- I am so grateful and so impressed with (most of) the boys Drew has surrounded himself with.  (I'm a little confused about a couple of the boys that were here - I don't know them as well as the others so I'm not quite sure where Drew's friendship connection with them comes from.  And that aside - boys are just odd creatures.  There's still a lot I need to learn!)  Some that are so different from him, that push him out of his shell and encourage him to do things he wouldn't ordinarily do, and others that are so much like him, that they meet each other right where they are at and can sit together comfortably in their sameness.  I can see some of these boys still being Drew's best friends when they graduate from high school.  

After all of his friends had been picked up, I asked Drew if he had a good time.

"Yeah, Mom, I did."

Good enough for me.


I knew going into the "party planning" stages that there wouldn't be much to prep.  Pizza and a movie took care of both the food and activity plans for the night, so that just left some kind of "thank you" goodie bag for the guests.  I took a few queues from Pinterest and we threw this together. 

A Twinkie wrapped with THIS free printable, fruit snacks, and applesauce (because the Minions like apples...I think.  I really have no idea but it sounded good at the time).  I typed up a thank you similar to the invite and attached those to the outside of brown paper sacks.

As for decor, I reused the birthday banner from Drew's Sonic party when he turned six, and in the small amount of Pinterest browsing I did, I found THIS and showed it to Drew.  He found it hilarious and wanted to post it on our front door.  So I whipped one together and Drew loved it!

{For those that don't know, this is an exact quote from the movie.}

As for the cake, I modeled it after THIS ONE and it turned out pretty alright.

And with that, birthday #8 is in the books!