Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gone to the Birds...& the stars

The boys attended a class at The Enviromental Education Center called "Wintertime Birds". They learned to focus binoculars properly and identify certain winter birds. They filled the bird feeders and listened to bird calls. They learned information about other winter animals, fur and winter animal behavior. At home, we set up some bird feeders and a bird watching station (no one has a bird at the feeders yet). We are also completing some activities on

We will be participating in The Great Backyard Bird Count - maybe you'll join us!

We also went to view "Wintertime Night Sky" at Raritan Valley Community College's Planetarium. It taught us how to look for 'asterisms' in the night sky. We got to see the sky at different times of night and it was really helpful - so helpful that we were able to come home and use our "Star Chart" and binoculars and actually find a bunch of stars we learned about - including Betelgeuse.

Sometimes kids just need a little exposure to something to get the wheels turning. Sometimes they don't care less what they've seen. Sometimes it comes up days and weeks later in them asking for another class or books on a topic. I don't see myself as my kids' teacher, I'm their mother - and I choose to spend my time introducing them to all that's out there.

"Learning can only happen when a child is interested. If he is not interested, it is like throwing marshmallows at his head and calling it eating." ~ Katrina Gutelben

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If you're Sean... eat your lunch with play-do scissors (but you pronouce that "sissos").
You don your brothers cub scout hat. You think that this....

is a totally awesome hiding spot!

You believe that this is a reasonable spoonful of pasta.

You are super cool on a skateboard.

If you are Seany you *are* the super-cutiest little toddler around and keep us entertained all day!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I shop in thrift stores. And rummage sales, garage sales, consignment shops, Salvation Army, and gladly accept hand-me-downs. To top it off - I like it. I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. Monday I braved a local thrift shop's MLK sale - 50% off everything in the store. Dennis laughs, you mean you are looking for half off of $4.99? Yeah, I am. There is a method to thrift shopping. You need to visit often and have several stores at your disposal, because it is hit or miss. You don't really walk into the store looking for a specific item hoping you'll find it sitting there for the taking. You get what you get and you don't get upset! I know there are certain things I want to have in the boys' closets all the time like black shoes, dress pants, thermal underwear, rain gear, assortment of hats and cool t-shirts, great jeans - the basics. When you thrift shop, you have to take what you see at the time. This weekend I found a pair of flannel lined, Gap jeans (tag still on) in a size 14. No one fits them right now, but I know that both Gavin & Mikey will wear them at some point at Scout camp - worth storing. Through trial and error (and a little help from my friends), I have come up with the equation that to store something, someone has to wear it within the year. It also helps that we have so many boys! Someone is going to wear it at some point! There is a 'snobby' side to my thrift shopping. I am not interested in run-down, washed out cheap versions of things. I am looking for the awesome 8 slim, brand new, Tony Hawk jeans I found for Mikey for $4 (tag says $38) I like Abecrombie, Urban Pipeline, Levis, Ralph Lauren, LL Bean, Northface, and Land's End. I just don't like them full price. There is also the gear I always have my eye out for - expensive items that we might like to have, but are not going to prioritize to buying at Sports Authority or a specialty shop. Wet suits, surf boards, skiis, hockey equipment, rollerblades, ice skates (in every size) unicycles (yep), classic toys and games, science kits, and the list goes on. And it's a real list. When we think of something we'd like to have, I pull out the paper and keep track of what we are looking for. The boys now ask if they can put something on 'the list'. The ridiculous to the sublime is written down and the search begins. I have heard comments such as "having kids is so expensive" or "that's an expensive sport". While those statements might be true, a little help from 'the list' and some patience can go a long way.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A snow day

The title sounds so quaint and now I'd like to follow it up with some pictures of cute kids sledding and stories of snow frocklicking and drinking hot chocolate. Not today. The day was filled with some squabbling and errand-running and nothing much fun, followed by the a huge mess of a house. Not kids-giggling-super-fun-fort-building type of mess, but the ugly who-put-that-there-move-your-boots-seriously-boyz type of mess.

Then we did go sledding. On the second run down the hill, Ethan plowed into the baby at the bottom. When I plucked him out of the snow, he was crying and bloodied. Then Ethan decided he was done sledding, then I decided I wasn't having fun.

Hopefully, my mother and mother-in-law aren't reading don't forward it to them. Then I am going to get the what-the-heck-did-you-do-to-my-grandson phone calls. Ethan is coughing, the Wii is stuck on (and playing annoying music), laundry is piled up, the dishwasher is broken, I'm cold and this is what the living room looks like.

No roaring fire or cute kids in jammies - just this. I guess everyday can't be fun. Phooey!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Gavin & Mikey turned 10 and 8 this week. Those seem like big numbers. And then we opened up the laptop and purused some old pictures. And shots like this...

made me want to rewind. I get this overwhelming feeling of their littleness and cuteness and I wonder, did I hold them and hug them enough, did I give them enough lollipops? Did I realize when they looked like this, that they looked like this? I can only imagine that this gets more pronounced over the years.

I enjoy where they are now and all the exciting activities and independance we are experiencing. I think there is a component of a mothering repetoire of being able to enjoy the moment and truly be present that I hadn't developed when these pictures were taken. I look at the photos and I wonder "did I get it?" Because I get it now. It all seems to be going a little too fast lately, and I think it's Seany's fault. Because 10 minutes ago he looked like this...

and now he looks like this.

I was eager for the other boys to grow quickly and develop new skills. Maybe I was a little too eager. Now that I know that feeling of wanting to rewind, all I want for Seany is for him to freeze, stop, and wait right there! I recognize that his his arms have a delicious layer of fat on them that will fade away sometime in the near future. I realize that when he runs it really does sound like "pitter patter". I know that words like "yight" instead of "light" will right themselves more quickly than I would like this time.

Sean is a messenger. His message is to pay attention, listen carefully and slow down. Having a toddler has certainly slowed us down. What I could have seen as an inconvenience years ago, is just a present circumstance, worthy of appreciation. We'll just walk a little slower and stop a little more often. In a few years, I will look back at the pictures I am taking now. I hope they invoke a little less "rewind" and litte more "glad I was there" because of where I am on my "mothering journey".

Now boyz...wait up!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cold Costellos

To break up the terrible, dreary, gray, yucky season that is Winter (can you tell I don't like it?), we have to add a good dose of fun.

We went ice skating on New Year's Day, as has been tradition for the last several years. I love ice skating and the kids would hardly have to convince me to take them anytime - usually it's the other way around. We went to an outdoor rink because it was 51 degrees - and I'll take every degree I can get!!

Yes, we will put Seany on skates this winter - just as we did with Gavin & Mikey, but we knew it would be too crowded on a holiday.

Also on the agenda this winter is skiing lessons for Gavin & Mikey with The Mountain Burners Homeschool Ski Club. This is their first exposure to skiing. I don't ski, and don't want to (so there, Dennis!) But I *do* like the lodge and hot chocolate. Dennis has done it a couple of times and enjoyed it the other day and plans on continuing to ski on Mondays with the boys. Gavin picked snowboarding instead.

Poor Mikey had a terrible asthma attack on the way to Shawnee and I had to drive up and get him. He did not get his first day of lessons in. He was well on his way to recovering when I got there and he dealt with it like a trooper. Opportunities like this are one of the reasons homeschooling is great for us. We can take advantage of really quiet days at places like this and get the *best* deals from a price standpoint. We can fit in way more fun!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


First there was the Harlem Globetrotters, and they were everything we hoped they would be.

The boys were really amazed and we laughed until it hurt! They are truly a talented bunch of guys. Fantastic sportsmanship and showmanship with great timing and classic gags. The great seats helped - thank you, Dennis.

Then...there were the New Year's Eve festivities - I love New Year's Eve. I love the excitement and anticipation and introducting my kids to all kinds of new chaos and old traditions.

There were Rock Band Performances until no one could stand to hear one more rendition of Queen's "We will Rock You". What a versatile band, they were, able to switch instuments so easily!

There were big kids and little kids.

And super-cute babies.

There was ball dropping, ice cream making, pots & pan banging (yep - out in the streets, neighbors must love us!) and fireworks!!

There was even some cousin bonding.

I fall for the whole thing about New Year's Eve. It's romantic and hopeful and fun - and we sure had fun. "They" say what your doing at midnight will set the the theme for your new year - I hope so!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

NYC on a scale from 1-10

We took the kids into NYC for their first 'touristy' trip. But before I tell you how good it was, you have to understand how bad it can get. So if we are working on a scale from 1-10, you have to know that there is still -1 to -10. So when things go really well for us on a family trip, we can appreciate it that much more because we know how bad it can be.

We all made it on the train and no shoes were lost (yes, it's happened). We made it to our first destination - Macy's.

The boys could not really appreciate why we wanted to go look in department store windows. But once they began following the stories played out ("Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" & "Miracle on 34th Street") it all came together and we all enjoyed it. Then it was on to Time Square for lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., where we got the best seat in the house in a little private enclave because we were a party of 7 - awesome for us!! The food was great and it made a great rest stop for us. Plus points here.

Times Square Toys R Us was totally mobbed, and neat to see such a big store, but the real draw was their famous 3-story inside ferris wheel. When I stopped to ask an employee for information about it, he told me the price of the tickets and that the wait was about an hour, "but that kids 'like him' don't wait"!! Of course, he meant Ethan because of his obvious disability. For those of you who don't get why it helps him and us to not have to wait in line, let's suffice to say that it can take that "fun-ness" scale to a -10 pretty quick. We would probably not have been able to go on because he would not make it in a line for an hour. Think of how hard it is for a typical kid and then add a bunch of issues which make everthing everything about 100 times harder. He would just as soon not wait - which means his brothers would not get to go either. I guess it's a slight inconvenience for the people we cut, but it is "day-changing" for us. Plus, again!

When we came out of Toys R Us we caught a test 'ball drop' in prep for New Year's Eve! We wrapped up the day in Rockafeller Center, which was crowded and exciting.

Aside from the ankle deep slush and thick crowds (which we expected) we did great! Sean should get a medal (or something he might care about, like a cookie) for being a total gem. The day was a ten - and that's 20 points above what it could have been. :)