Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A consumer report from the front lines...

I remember reading somewhere that big companies are getting consumer research from all those mom bloggers out there, so I am going to take a minute to review a couple of products and hope that my voice is heard.

I bought my two children (ages 6 and 3) some different arts and craft supplies a few weeks ago in an attempt to stave off the summer boredom blues. Among them were watercolor paint sets, have you ever met a child who doesn't like to paint? Since my 3 year old's preferred method of creating is to pick one color and cover every square inch of her paper with it, I was spending quite a bit of time scrubbing soggy black water and paper off my counter. *Light bulb moment!* I will get stronger (heavier?) paper that will stand up to her creative process. Off I go to the store where I come across a product by Crayola called a Marker and Watercolor Pad. Aha! The very thing.

A few days later while my youngest are napping I tell the 6 year old to entertain himself by drawing some Father's Day cards for his dad and grandpas. He would like to use markers. "No problem!" I beam and hand him several sheet of the aforementioned paper. I feel wonderful knowing that I am fostering his creative nature while simultaneously not worrying about my furniture.... Duh-duh-dum! A half hour later one tearful child comes to show me his masterpiece and confess that the marker has bled through the paper onto my light oak kitchen table. What! How is this possible?! I go into the kitchen to find that my table and his hands look, as my husband put it, like they have developed a multi-colored leprosy. I console my son that it is in no way his fault, after all I was the one to purchase and give him the paper to use. Later that day I was telling my family about this mystery, how could paper marketed for use with markers have caused such a mess? Well, as my brother who is an artist informed me, Marker and Watercolor paper is designed to draw the pigments into the paper to create stronger, more vibrant colors. I went home and read every teeny tiny piece of print on the pad, and nowhere does it say that this paper will bleed or is to create stronger colors. So if the good people at Crayola are reading this please consider adding such a warning to your product, as the average lay person such as myself will make the mistake of thinking such a product was designed to prevent the dreaded bleed through that often happens with markers and watercolors.

The multi-colored leprosy took about three days and repeated washing but has finally started to fade from my son's hands and arms, the kitchen table I thought was going to be a loss. These were permanent markers, and my son favored dark blue, green and red in the color schemes for his cards. I was resigning myself to eating on his artwork until we could afford to replace the table. This morning I stumbled across a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in my cleaning supplies, and though I didn't hold out much hope I thought it couldn't hurt to try. Magic! My table is good as new. Where soap and water, ammonia and water, and good old-fashioned elbow grease failed, this nifty product stepped in and triumphed! (With almost no effort on my part too.) I was giddy with relief and amazement. I have used the Magic Eraser before to take crayon and pencil off my walls, but to have it erase permanent marker was downright incredible!

So there you have it, if this story helps even one parent out there avoid the sad lesson I learned the hard way I will be well satisfied. My final report would be that Crayola makes wonderful creative products for children, but it would be helpful to know exactly what to expect from what we are buying. And Mr. Clean Magic Erasers get 5 stars from me! An excellent product, and I think every home should have a least one on hand because you never know when you are going to have a coloring emergency.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

My brother helped me make this present for Brian. I am so happy with how it turned out. We also did one for Pa Dave.

Thanks Josh! We are lucky to be able to draw on your talents. (You can check out more of his work at Imitate Studios.)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where is this bridge of which you speak?

Yesterday while I was making Evie's bed she was "helping" me and chattering away like a magpie. She sort of does this stream of consciousness conversation, "...this is my Pluto doll, he has a blanket and it is blue. I love blue. This is my pink pillow and this is my white pillow. I want to sleep on my pink pillow. Mom? Can we sleep down on the futon tonight?" I was in the middle of trying to tuck the sheets in on the side that is next to the wall without pulling the bed out and rearranging the furniture, (Let's face it, she doesn't care if the sheet is tucked all the way in... so neither do I.) and only listening with one ear to her babbling. I did catch what she asked and with out thinking I replied, "Ummm, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it, ok?" Evie's whole face lit up and she said, "We can cross a bridge tonight? Can Daddy cross the bridge too? I can cross the bridge? We have a bridge?!" Dang literal children, now I have to find a bridge for her to cross....

On an unrelated note, Lila rolled from back to front yesterday! I actually watched her do it with my own eyes. She promptly began to cry and carry on like it was the end of the world. But it is a step in the right direction. If she wasn't so placid and willing to just lay back and observe she might try reaching for toys and moving more. I also went last Tuesday and had her pictures taken from when she won 2nd place in the cute baby contest. I am really excited to see how they turned out. She has started doing this thing with her tongue where she sticks it out the side of her mouth when she is thinking about whether to smile or not. We got a lot of pictures with her tongue, but then she decided she liked the photographer and started to beam on cue.

Our cousins from Mississippi are here visiting for the summer. We are so excited to play with them! Jake and Jack are so funny together, two peas in a pod. I love listening to their conversations. They were having a debate about who was the ultimate authority figure in their lives. Jack said it was his mom, and Jake's response, "Well, let me tell you something, Grandma T. tells your mom what to do and then she tells you!" So there you have it, that is the chain of command in our family. They were also playing out in Grandma and Grandpa's yard, "exploring" and they found a rock that they thought was a fossil. A neighbor boy was playing with them and when I called them in to dinner he said he would take it home and wash it. Jack said, "Yeah, could you do some research on that?" I love these serious and inquisitive little guys! I also love that Jack and Jake just fell back into old rhythms and spent the whole day playing together with no problems, no wonder we missed them so much!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Family Fun Day at the Zoo!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Life is what happens while you're busy making plans...

So after my last post I thought things were looking up. I got to go play with Caitlin again and we spent some fun time gathering decorations for the baby shower we are hosting next month. And although I had already left for the day, my sweet Aunt April came down to help me out by doing my laundry. Just knowing that she was willing to help me was a big boost to my spirit.

So fast forward 4 hours, Caite, I, and my kids are on the freeway on the way home after a very successful shopping trip. We were driving along making plans on how to spend the rest of the afternoon and suddenly there was a very strange, loud noise. I looked around for a semi or piece of large machinery to come driving passed me, or a plane flying low. Nope, it was a flat tire on my van... I would say it never rains but it pours... but then it started to rain. Fortunately my brother-in-law came to the rescue like a knight in shining Passat! Only to realize that we did not have a lug wrench in the van and the one from his car was the wrong size. He did help enormously by taking Jake with him to go try to find a lug wrench the right size... So then we were 4 girls hanging out on the side of the freeway waiting to be rescued. Help came in the form of an incident management truck of the Highway Patrol. A very nice gentleman had the tire changed in less then 10 minutes. Unfortunately it traumatized Evie when he used a pneumatic drill in the van to unlock the spare tire. It took a half hour of singing primary songs and a batch of chocolate chip cookies to calm her down. (Chocolate makes everything better.)

Friday dawned to the melodious strains of arguing children. I made them get back into bed with me, but that pretty much backfired as they talked and laughed and kept me awake rather than going back to sleep. Oh well. We then spent the day with Uncle Josh working on a top secret project that turned out so cool. ( I can't wait to post about that.)
Then we had dinner at Pa Dave's and Evie even got to help Caite cook!

But a cumulative lack of sleep made my children unbearable so I took them home and put them straight to bed. Fast forward another couple of hours to when Brian gets home and we are finally eating dinner. I went to get some ice from the freezer and... long story short... I sprained my thumb.

(The long story involves me jumping around the kitchen howling and saying some bad words, so this is the G rated version.)

The silver lining to that particular cloud is that it is my left hand so I am not completely disabled. Well, that and Brian's arms still work so we have a symbiotic relationship right now. I am the legs and he is the hands, and together we can do almost anything!

Today we spent a really fun day at the Zoo with all of my family. We got to see all the animals, ride the carousel and have a great picnic lunch. The only bummer was that the heavens opened and the rain poured down before we got to ride the train. Evie was very disappointed by that, but she got happier when she got to pick out a souvenir.

This is her new giraffe that she named Caite (yes after her aunt) and she picked out a matching baby giraffe for Lila.

Sisters got to match!

Jake picked out a tiger head grabber and a pair of binoculars that he used to read licence plates all the way home. He had plenty of time to do that, because we were forced to drive rather slowly when the streets started to flood because of the rain.

It was a little scary, but Brian is a good driver (no matter what the backseat drivers in his car think...) and we made it home in one piece. So that has been our eventful weekend so far, if we can just make it through Sunday with nothing bad happening.... knock on wood....

(I will post a slide show of the trip to the zoo later... so many pictures, so little time.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

in-er-tia: noun

1.inertness, esp. with regard to effort, motion, action, and the like; inactivity; sluggishness.
a.the property of matter by which it retains its state of rest or its velocity along a straight line so long as it is not acted upon by an external force.

That about sums it up. I can't seem to over come this feeling of inertia lately. Every morning I wake up thinking of a list of things I am going to accomplish. All the laundry washed, folded and put away. (It's that critical last step that seems to be tripping me up...)

Cleaning the house, or at least the kitchen. A tragic design flaw of this house it that you can see the kitchen sink from the front door. (Obviously designed by a man...)

Or maybe count it as lucky that there are enough clean underwear and utensils to go around one more day and tackle the mounting pile of yarn and fabric I have such great plans for.

But every morning those grand ambitions dissolve as I stumble down the hall, trying to squint and blink at the same time to moisten my contacts so they won't pop out of my eyes, to make Lila's bottle and settle the first argument of the day. (Mickey Mouse vs. Tom and Jerry) We settle on the couch for the morning feeding and I hop on the computer for just a minute to check email and if anyone has posted anything new on their blogs. The next thing I know it is time for lunch and naps and then Brian is home and it's time to make dinner, and I look around at the laundry still sitting on the couch and realize that my kids are wearing the same pj's for the third day, and I wonder where the day went. How can I spend 24 hours feeling so busy and not accomplish anything?

I also realize that I could have cleaned my entire kitchen, including the floor, in the time that it has taken me to blog about not doing it. I just wanted to wallow for a minute. Now as an antidote for self-pity and inertia I will tell myself that I am really lucky to have a kitchen with electricity and running water and a fully stocked pantry and fridge to cook for my family in. And how ridiculous is it that we have more clothing than we can wear in a month, and complain about having to do the laundry. Which is turning a switch and pressing a button, not hauling it down to a river and beating it on a rock. I have the time and resources to pursue my hobbies that give me a creative outlet. And best of all I have these:

Three beautiful, healthy, happy children who are a source of amazement, humor, and love every day. The irony has not escaped me that I often lecture my children on the importance of taking care of their belongings and showing gratitude for what we have. I am reaffirming my good intentions of being a better steward over all that I have been given and overcoming the inertia that has been holding me back. But if you wanted to be an external force acting on me, I wouldn't mind some visitors...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jake didn't do it!

I got to spend a very fun day yesterday with my sister, wandering through craft boutiques and craft stores to my hearts content. I have to give my husband major brownie points. It started out as Caitlin, Elena, and I going to a craft boutique in Farmington where my friend Kris had a booth. Then I thought maybe Caite and I could continue on up to Shepherd's Bush in Ogden, which is heaven if you like to do cross-stitch or embroidery. I called Brian who was home with the kids to see if he would be OK if I was gone longer and his sweet response was, "Honey, you do what you want to. It is your day to go play." Obviously I didn't need to be told twice. Caite and I went to the cross stitching store and then to a yarn store and spent hours window shopping and making mental lists of all the things we would buy when we have a million dollars. (We also made our Christmas lists and a pact to do each other's Christmas shopping this year, and save our husbands the trouble.... aren't we thoughtful?) We went out to lunch and then to another craft store, and all in all had an absolutely enjoyable day. I love my sister, and I love that she is one of my best friends. Brian also gets major brownie points for not calling me once during the day. (You might have to be a mom of young kids to understand why that is so amazing, but trust me, it is!) When I finally called to check in, he was quick to assure me that all was well and the kids had been pretty good. He then said, "Well, Evie looks like she's had a rough day... but she really hasn't."

When I asked what happened he told me how she was playing and fell at the bottom of the stairs. She got a lovely raspberry on her cheek and a slight bruise on her eyelid (not enough to be a black eye) and a scratched lip. As he was telling me this I hear Jacob in the background yell out, "And it was NOT my fault Mom!" Not that anyone was accusing him, he just wanted me to know that he had no part in her accident.... hmmmmm.... yeah, that's not suspicious. But in all honesty, I highly doubt he did have anything to do with it. Evie is my dainty princess with the soul of a linebacker. Some days she can't walk down the hall without hitting her head. In fact, last week, she did just that as she was going down the hall to her room. She wasn't watching where she going and ran into the corner of the doorway into the kitchen. (It doesn't help that she always runs instead of walks, and leads with her head...) An hour later she got out of bed because she had to go the bathroom. Twenty minutes later she was still sitting on the toilet singing and talking, so Brian told her she was done and to get off. There was an awful crash and banging followed by her wailing. Brian yelled down the hall, "I didn't say fall off the toilet," and Evie yelled back, "Well I did!" So Brian went to comfort her and put her back into bed, I hear him in her room say, "Ok, sweetie. Scoot over and I'll snuggle you for a minute." This was followed by a resounding thud and more wailing. She didn't just scoot over, she threw herself across the bed and into the wall. I will be amazed if she makes it to 3 without breaking a bone, or getting a concussion.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Last day of school and other things...

My big Jake on the last day of school. We made it through the whole school year and then on the very last day he pulled the, "Oh yeah I'm supposed to bring lunch today for a class picnic," telling me at 8:40 this morning, and carpool comes at 8:45. I am so excited for summer vacation though. I have missed him being gone everyday and I hate worrying that I am going to forget to pick him up.

This is because we can't get the camera out in this house without Evie trying to get in on the action. She can't wait until it is her turn to go to school. Last week she informed me on her next happy birthday she would be done with being 2, so then she could go to school with Jake.

And here is Lila on the floor, her new home until she decides to start rolling. She had her 6 month check-up this week and the doctor said no more bouncer or walker for her until she hits that milestone. She does NOT like this turn of events. She hates being on the floor, especially on her tummy and will just cry and scream until she wears herself out. (This is the part of parenting I hate, doing something to your kids for their own good that makes them so unhappy.) But other than her stubbornness on the subject of rolling, she is happy and healthy. She is by far my smallest baby, weighing in at 16 lbs. 2 oz. and 26 1/4 inches long. That is 51% for weight and 68% for height. Her siblings were both over 75% in both categories at this stage, so she just seems small to me by comparison. Her head, however, is in the 92%. Me and my big headed babies!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

From what I can remember...

I think I need to re-boot my brain. I can't seem to remember where I put the peanut butter lately, let alone keep track of my kids. So before I forget I wanted to write down some of the funnies my kids have said lately.


While I was combing her hair after her bath, she scratched her ear then looked at her finger and said, "Dangit! I got cheese in my ear!"

She asked if she could watch some t.v. before going to bed. I told her, "No, it is after midnight!" (Hey, it was the weekend.) She looked at me a moment then said, "Nuh-uh, Mom. I'm three and he's a guy." I don't know what she meant, but I took it as a sign she was too tired to make sense.

This afternoon she was sitting at the counter eating lunch while I did the dishes. Suddenly she looked at me and said:
"Knock knock"
M: "Who's there?"
E: "Me!"
M: "Me who?"
E: "Hi there! Can I come in and play?"
I don't think she quite grasped the concept...

She does have a good grasp of language though. Last week she and Jake were goofing around and knocked over a stack of DVDs in the living room. Evie looked at the mess and then announced, "Well, that's unfortunate."

And my personal favorite is that she has become a backseat driver. (Which Brian insists she gets from me...) We'll be driving down the street and a light will turn red more than an hundred yards away, she will start screaming from the back for Brian to, "Stop! STOP! Red means STOP, Dad!" She will also point out every car parked on the side of the road by telling Brian not to crash into them. "Look out Daddy! Don't crash into that gray car!" She is also on the look out for any stop signs and telephone poles so she can give her Dad a heads up. The funniest part is that she only does this when Brian is driving. Coincidence? I think not.

The sad part is that I know there have been more from Evie and some from Jake, but I cannot recall what they've said to make me laugh so hard. I even had one that I thought, "Oooh. I need to blog that!" But I didn't do it right then and now it is gone. Ah well, I am off to find that peanut butter... maybe I should check the freezer.

*I just remembered one from Jake! Tonight Josh asked if he was looking forward to summer break or if he'd miss school. Jake's response? "Well, I'm not looking forward to first grade. I'm worried about the time commitment."