Saturday, June 30, 2012

activities


FAVORITE QUOTES

The kids were snuggled in bed, and I was laying by them to help them settle and go to sleep.  They were each telling me about things they were thinking about.  It's actually one of my favorite times of day.  This is usually when they say some of the funniest things.  Here are a few quotes from this week.

Quote 1:
TS to Me:  "Mom, I really want a race car."
Vi to TS:  "I really want you to be a girl."
(It kind of came across like "well, we can't all have what we want, can we?" which made me burst out laughing.)

Quote 2:
Vi:  "Mom, will I turn into a baby if I touch your boob?"
(Wouldn't that be a neat trick?)


Quote3: 
Vi:  "Mom, I think there are bad guys here when you talk about scary things."
Me:  (confused because I don't talk about scary things to her) "What type of scary things?"
Vi:  "Tigers."  Thinks for a second.  "Um...yeah, tigers. Just tigers."
Me:  (I hadn't talked about tigers)  "Okay, that's good to know."
(Not sure that came across as funny as it was!)

ICE & SQUIRT GUNS

We froze some toys and used squirt guns to get them free.  The kids loved it:

We started out by taking the bowl, with the frozen stuff in it, outside:
They poked around on it for a little bit, finding it quite interesting.

We flipped it over in the bowl, and contrary to what we thought, the ice didn't immediately melt and plop the ice out of the bowl (it gets a little hot here):


Instead of waiting five minutes for it to melt out, I ran it under warm water for a second and out it plopped.


The kids had fun trying to get the toys out.  They loved the squirt guns too.  I had totally expected them to start shooting each other, but they didn't.  They were too focused on their goal:



Meanwhile I notice Rhys is missing.  So, I turn to look at what it is she is actually doing:

As you can see, she is joyously squirting the baby in the face.

Don't worry.  I stopped her.  After I took a couple photos of it.

Then she started squirting the next best thing:


She seriously loved it.  It was so funny.  This was my favorite part of the activity.  Watching Rhys squirt herself in the face.  She was giggling so much.  She loved it.

That's water dripping (not snot):


Apparently she wasn't close enough before.  So, she gets even closer.  (I'm not sure it's possible to get closer than that...)

She did briefly go back to squirting the baby, but Ella was not amused, so she stopped again.

All in all, it was a fun activity.  In the end, we did have a couple broken squirt guns, but the pack came with a lot of extras, so it was no problem.  And, of course, they annoyingly ran out of water!  But it was fun.  The kids love their new little treasures.


JOURNALS:

Their journals arrived in the mail.  Here's the before:



And, here are the afters:


The kids chose what paper they wanted for their journal.  (I didn't really write "Emma Emma" or "Tyler Tyler".  I had their middle names too, but for privacy sake, I edited the photos with photoshop & changed and/or erased their middles names off the photos because I'm paranoid like that now when posting something public.)  :-)

I used photoshop to create them and then printed them out and glued/or taped them on.  They LOVE them.  They were so excited when they saw them.  Every Sunday we're planning to write in them.  We'll see how that goes.  Hopefully we'll be successful.  I think journal writing is so important.  I often think I'll remember all the little things, but then years later, the only thing that helps me remember all those "little things" is the fact it's written in journals (or our blog).

EYE GLASSES STRAWS

Remember when I mentioned www.pickyourplum.com?  One day these little eye glasses straws were for sale for over 50% off.  So, I decided to buy some for the kids.  They don't fit little kids very well, so I tried helped to hold them in place by using ribbon to hold it tight.  It worked pretty good for some, but not so much for others.  And, it made for such cute pictures!

Rhys was soooooooo cute.  I could hardly stand it:



You can see a little flashlight on Emma's finger.  The was the other thing that came from the same website for super cheap, and the kids loved it.

Violet had the most difficultly keeping them on her head.  I think it's because her head is the most proportional to her body (the other kids are all lollipop heads with their heads being a much higher percentage, size-wise, than their length/weight), which in the end, might give her a smaller head than Rhys.  I'm not sure, though.  It's at least close in size:

Not having the best of luck!  But she wins points for trying!  :-)

TS looked really cute, too, but he was done by the time I got the camera out and wasn't interested in putting them back on.

It was a fun week.  Oh, minus the stomach virus.  It's lasted five days each, and it has been passing along slowly!  At least it's not one of the super severe ones (no puking, thank goodness).  The lone survivor got it yesterday, so currently four still have it.  Only four more days and hopefully we'll be all done.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

some photos

I have a stack of photos piling up in my computer, so I'm going to share some of them here!

We finally bought some stools for the kitchen island.  We like to eat breakfast there now.

Rhys thinks she's such a big girl because she gets to eat there too:


This would be fun to take photos of each year to compare how they've grown.



Emma doing her school work:



Vi & El  -  (Vi had put some lotion in her hair.  Doesn't everyone put lotion in their hair?)



More to come...

Monday, June 25, 2012

summertime plans!!

Now that we're nicely settled into our home, and it's summertime, I've decided to get myself a little more organized again.  Having a baby also seems to unorganize my life a little, but I feel like we can finally get things planned a little better again.  I'm going to share some of my ideas (more like other people's ideas) in case it helps give you guys stuff to do too!

I'm starting slow, with just a few ideas.  Then I'll add things as we go along.


SLEEP

First, and foremost, we are reorganizing our sleep!  The kids are going to bed so late that it's leaving us with almost no free time at all, unless we go to bed so late that we are then constantly low on sleep.  So, as of this week, we are switching that around!  Kids are getting up at 6:30-6:45 am, and they will hopefully be going to bed around 8pm.  Then, ideally, that means we will be able to go to bed by 10-10:30.


SUMMERTIME IDEAS:

1.  SUMMER TREASURE HOLDER:

You know how your kids will find little toys or treasures (rocks, leaves, etc...) and want to keep them forever?  This little treasure holder seemed like such a good solution for that!  Instead of hanging it on the wall, though, like they show, I'm thinking of doing a binder per kid with pages of these in it.  Then when they find something they really enjoyed that day, we can stick it in these little slide sleeves.

I think the kids will love this idea!  They'll be so excited to keep some of their findings in a way that displays them better.  I say some because I'm not sure I can handle a bug collection, or something like that, mixed in here.  Maybe that's something Tyler can do with them if they decide they want to keep some bugs.  (I'd hate to puke on their treasures!)




2.  MINI SCRAPBOOK

We have a thing to keep their treasures now, but what about photos and journals?  We need something for that too, right?!

I saw this mini-scrapbook (here) and thought it was so freakin' cute.  I started making plans of how I was going to create this for each child.  The papers I would use.  The things I'd need to order to put it together.

Then I started laughing at my foolishness.  I'm still having a hard time showering and getting dressed everyday.  Do I really think I'm going to have time to create 4-5 mini-scrapbooks and keep up with them?  Um...no.  But, I'm still including it here for those who might feel creative enough, and have time enough, to do it.  And, hopefully one day, when I've accomplished my goal of showering every day, I will be able to achieve my new goal of creating a fun little book like this for each of the kids.



Until that day, there is this idea too:  

MEAD PRIMARY JOURNAL



I know.  It's not nearly as cute, but with some creativity you can decorate it really cute!  (This idea to decorate it is from my real life friend, "AJ Dub")  I don't have a photo of it right now, but when we get them done, I'll show you what I mean.  You can decorate the outside with really cute scrapbook paper.  Then you can tie a ribbon around it to make it look even cuter.  In the end, it's a very easy way to make the book look way cuter!

The photo next to the journal shows you a sample page.  It has writing spaces for young children to write.  They can draw a picture or you could even stick some photos in there for them.

I'm planning on this being a Sunday activity.  Hopefully I'll be sitting with each of them and letting them write and color in it...maybe printing off some photos they want and sticking them in there too.  (This won't be the official family photo album or anything!  That will be something separate.)  But I think it would be a fun way to teach journaling.

3.  ICE TREASURES

I think all the kids will love this.  Even Emma!  Very simple idea.  Freeze toys/treasures inside some ice and let them play with it on a hot day and dig out the treasures.  Someone even suggested using a squirt gun, which we're planning on doing.  I might freeze some of these little things in there, which then would give them some fun toys to play in the sand with (and maybe do some lessons on each of the little creatures!).



4.  WATER BOTTLE WATERFALL:


The photo is self-explanatory.  In case you can't see it, though, you can take a 2-liter soda bottle, poke holes in it, and fill it with water.  Give it to you child and let them get wet as the water squirts out.  We actually never have these soda bottles...but it's worth buying them for this!
















5.  SWIMMING!!


Planning on going swimming lots this summer?  If so, this site has some nifty waterproof camera cases.  You can get some for your phones or cameras.  This is the one we're getting.  Better description is here, but better priced on Amazon here (when you include the free shipping, assuming you get that).  If you want some for your normal point & shoot, they have covers there too for that (again, be sure to compare to Amazon because the prices are most likely better)!

Here is Rhys playing in our community pool (I'm not sure how we survived in Texas without a pool this long!).  I was too scared to get very close due to the phone not having a waterproof case on it (and I shouldn't have used the "hdr" mode because it made it blurry!).  Can't wait to use the camera in the pool.  I'll let you know if my phone dies because of this.  hehe.

Oh, and if you want a great floatie for your little kids.  We love the one she has.  We have ones for the other kids too.  They are called Puddle Jumpers (they range in price depending on the design you get).  There isn't a floatie part on the back (at least not equal to what is on the front), so it helps encourage their faces to float up, keeping their face out of the water.  I don't know if anyone recalls back when TS was about 18 months old, and we were at Sea World.  His life vest actually held him face down in the water while I was running to get to him!  He would have drowned.  (Freaked me out how easy it can happen.)  So, I really really really love that these help keep the faces out.









6.  Oops, one more.  Have you heard of Pick Your Plum?  It's a site that offers really great pricing on random items.  It ranges from fabric to craft ideas to fun toys for kids, etc.  You sign up for their emails and every day go peek at what they have for sale that day (changes every day).  They have great prices on stuff.  I bought the kids some fun drinking straw eye glasses for just a few dollars.  You are limited in how many you can buy, but it's usually enough for what most people would need.

Okay, I'll stop rambling now.  I'll try to do some "after" phones of these same projects!

Hope you all have a great summer!



Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our Rhys: Two Years Old

(photo above taken a few days ago at Rhys' birthday.  it's one of my favorite photos ever of her.)

"A parent's love is whole no matter how many times divided."
~Robert Brault

As I'm thinking through the past, and looking at photos, I can't help but cry a little while I write this entry of our little Rhys.  She turned two a few days ago.  I haven't quite figured out why it makes me cry!  But it does.  It feels really bittersweet.  Having Ella come behind her so quickly made her babyhood go by even quicker than it usually does.  

Rhys is such a special little person to us.  She's amazingly patient and loving and silly and sweet and precious.  We love her so much and couldn't imagine our lives without her.  
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Facts about Rhys:
-  She's left handed. 
-  She likes to steal my makeup and put it on. (mascara under her eyes and on her legs...)
-  She will flick people.  (Kind of.  It's more of a "I think she just flicked me." type of thing)
-  When she throws a fit, often it seems like she's pretending.
-  She does not like using pencils.  She wants a pen or markers.
-  She is very easy going and gentle, but she is also very opinionated.
-  She can jump, run, and "roller skate" (that means she can stand in them as they barely roll)
-  She loves her pacifiers.  (She only gets them in bed now, has two of them at a time, and will rotate.)
-  She can talk in such a sweet, gentle little voice.
-  She can also sound like an old smoker woman when she talks, with a really rough, grating voice.
-  She loves to run away, giggling, when I'm changing her clothes, diapers, or when she has something she  doesn't want to give back.  
-  She is very intelligent and has a lot she tries to say, but she hasn't mastered the skill of speaking yet.
-  Her legs look soooooo cute when she runs.  (They kill me with their cuteness.)
-  She can swim with a floatie on.  (she can kick her legs and go places)
-  She loves Ella and tries to take care of her.
-  She loves to dance.
-  She's obsessed with shoes and must almost always wear some.
-  She likes to try to spit on people. (not sure where that came from! but it's pretty funny because she does it so sweetly!) 
-  She can make Ella laugh simply by laughing.  She'll laugh and Ella will laugh.  They'll keep going on and on.  It's so funny.  I have it on video and will have to post it sometime.

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REMEMBER THESE?
Here are some photos of Rhys throughout her little two years.  It's kind of hard to limit it down to just a few from thousands...

Here they are meeting Rhys for the first time.  They all look like babies!  Violet (her hair, hehe) was 22 months.  Crazy that she's close to 4 now!!  




Our sweet baby...9 lbs 7 oz.




Up late at night at the hospital & took a few photos with Rhys.




Her birth was a surpringly wonderful experience.  I never thought a c-section could be such a beautiful experience, but it was.  I remember after she was born, she cried and cried and cried.  Within a few short minutes they had her bundled up and brought her over to me, and she was still crying.  I softly said, "Hey, baby girl," and she immediately stopped crying and calmed right down because she knew she was near me.  The power of being a momma is amazing.


Hanging out outside with daddy when she was just a few weeks old.




A few months old.  (Violet didn't want Rhys' hand to touch her.  haha.)




About 9-10 months old:


Rhys was 15 months old when Ella arrived. (So, to clarify, this is Ella's birth now.  Not Rhys'.  And, yes, I'm wearing the same clothes as I did with Rhys' birth.  On purpose.)  We weren't sure how she would take to being a big sister.  She surprised us by being extremely excited about it.  She loved holding Ella and was soooo smiley and squealed and was so excited.  It's a very fun & special memory.




My new camera arrived into our lives at about this time.  I love this photo of Rhys (if only I had focused on her eyeballs!):




From just a few days ago, on her birthday, with her daddy:
(more birthday photos to follow)


Our little baby Rhys is turning into a beautiful little girl.  Thank you for being ours, sweet baby.  Hope you have fun being TWO!!  


"If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger-paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging."
~Diane Loomans



We only get their childhood once.  Let's treasure the time that we have.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

family photos

Since we were all dressed for church, we decided to try to take some family pictures.  By "we", I mean "I".  We had bought a remote control a little while back and learned how to use it really quick It's so hard.  You put your camera in "remote" mode.  Then you push the button on the remote, and it takes the picture.

The kids weren't very interested. So, we bribed them with two tic tacs each. (Yes, I'm being serious.) And, they did pretty good. Clearly I should have bribed Tyler with a couple tic tacs because he was almost worse than them.  As you'll see, they get their posing skills from Tyler.

The remote became quite the prized possession.  Each one of them wanted a turn, so we passed it down.  Here are just a few of the photos we took.  If I have time, I might post more in another post.

PHOTO ONE:  Tyler set the mood.  (They were unaware...)



 PHOTO TWO: 



PHOTO THREE:  Oh, TS got his hairs cut.



PHOTO FOUR:  This one we were all fake laughing, which turned into real laughing.  Except Tyler, who understood that to mean that Rhys was supposed to be picking his nose.



PHOTO FIVE:  We had several photos where someone was blinking.  So, we decided to purposefully blink.  Except Tyler...yet again.  Not sure what he's doing.



PHOTO SIX:  This is probably the best photo of the five kidlets that we have.  No weird faces.  Oh, well, except Tyler.  He is his father's son.  I think Rhys and Violet really look a lot alike, keep looking more alike as they age.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

hearing test & some pics

Emma had her hearing test today.  It's been far too long since she's had one.  She was born with no right ear canal and a pin prick sized left ear canal, leaving her with moderate to severe hearing loss.  Nine years later, she still has no right ear canal, but she has a larger left ear canal than before.  It's still very tiny, though.  They can't look in it to see if it even goes all the way through. That's why she always wears a headband.  It's actually her hearing aid being held on her head and conducting the sound through her skull. 

After talking with a few different FA moms, and discovering as their children have gotten older they were able to switch to behind-the-ear hearing aids, we decided to try to see if we could get some behind-the-ear hearing aids for Emma.  The only issue with it is whether or not her ear canal is big enough to allow it to work (we would only be able to do this with one ear).  I learned from these other mommas that they had some special audiologists that went ahead and gave it a try, even though no one thought it would work, and it did.  So, fingers crossed really tight that this works for Emma.

If it works, she should hear better with these, even with it in just one ear.  Plus, SHE WON'T HAVE TO WEAR THE FREAKIN' HEAD BAND ALL THE TIME!  It's been nine years.  I don't think it's possible to overreact at the possibility of no headband and different hair styles!!

We knew that one single hearing aid costs about $1800 on average, after molds and fitting.  And, we've yet to have an insurance provider willing to pay a penny for a hearing aid.  (We haven't checked with current insurance but will if we need to.) So, it felt kind of like a gamble to buy a behind-the-ear aid, only to potentially find out the hearing aid wasn't going to work for her.

Then a friend offered to send us an old pair of her daughter's hearing aids!  Can you believe that?  Just amazing.  And, Emma's current hearing aids, another family emailed us asking if Emma would like them because their son didn't need them anymore.  Then the hearing aids before those, the same thing happened. Someone offered them to Emma.  People are so nice!  (If you guys are reading this - thank you again!)  It's been a huge help to be able to literally save thousands of dollars on hearing aids.

Anyway, so today we went in, and Emma had a hearing test.  She did really well.  She sat in a sound proof room and talked to the audiologist through a glass window & speaker.  I couldn't see Emma, but I could hear her talking.  It was soooo cute.  Emma's old enough now that I don't usually use the word cute for her, but she sounded so tiny, and it was so cute.

She still has moderate to severe hearing loss.  The audiologist seemed a little hesitant at first whether or not to try the molds because Emma's ear canal is so small.  I totally understood why she hesitated.  At first she was thinking about having us see an ENT to get his opinion on the behind-the-ear, but in the end, she felt comfortable with going ahead and trying it.  She was super nice and did such a good job with Emma.  We really liked her and her assistant a lot.  It's always nice to work with neat-o people.

They did the ear mold for Emma.  It'll take about three weeks, and then we'll be going back in to see if it'll work.  We hope so badly that it will. Emma chose the rainbow mold option and is super excited about it.  It's interesting how many more options there are with behind-the-ear than with the bone conduction aid.

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I'm sure it's obvious by now that I'm a little obsessed with photography. I love to take pictures. It's like eating desert. Especially if the photos actually end up looking cute in the end.

Ella is the one I take the most photos of...simply because she can't run away from me yet. I like to tell my children, "You can run, but you can't hide!" (actually, that's totally not true. I've never said that to them, but I probably will now).  Violet is the next easiest since she will actually try to make flattering faces & enjoys actually looking towards me. The oldest two are almost the worst. Once I capture them, I cannot get them to make a normal face. And, Rhys, well, she just can't be bothered!

So, anyway, that's why it's almost always Ella I take pics of.

In my quest of having left handed people dominate the world, I saw somewhere online the idea to use wrapping paper as a backdrop. So, I took some, cut off about 3 ft in length, and taped it to the wall.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Used the natural light:

Used a soft flash:


My personal favorite (above).  She kept sticking her tongue out like that today.  I'm pretty sure she's teething (and mutating into some type of freakish creature that won't sleep at night....).



The photos above were taken near the front door.  I ended up opening the front door to allow in the natural light.  Of course, by doing that, the children escaped.  They didn't go too far, and they looked awfully cute sitting in the entryway!




Photography Tip:

(who better to learn from than someone who knows nothing!)

This may very well be a "even my pet monkey knows this!" type of tip, but I'm going to share anyway because I haven't talked to any monkeys, and I didn't know this.

In my reading, I've seen people use the flash outside in the brightest of bright days.  I didn't really get why.  Why do you need even more light than what is already there? I didn't really think about it a whole lot until recently. 

It makes perfect sense, though.  When the sun is shining down on your subject, casting ugly shadows, the flash helps get rid of those shadows.  Or if you have your subject with their back to the sun (to help keep them from squinting), you'll want to use the flash to brighten them, so they don't look too dark against the bright background behind them.  

There's also reflectors that can help brighten faces that you can place under their (and out of view of photo) or off to the side with someone holding it just right to reflect the light correctly.  I want to get some of those.  The reflectors.  Not someone holding one.

I'm going to venture outside of my family and start taking photos of other people, just for the practice...and because it would be fun to give people some photos who are wanting some of their families/self.  What will it be like to take photos of people that I don't have to chase!  (At least, I better not have to chase adults around....).  If they let me, and if I ever take any that I think are good, I might post some of those here.