Chug Chug Chugging Along

We went to a train show today at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. A big room in the convention center was filled with people selling all manner of model train related things. In the back of the room there were several huge model tracks of different sizes set up. These people are pretty serious about their model trains.

The first setup we came to had chairs set up around it and both Jack and Casey found themselves a chair and sat there mesmerized, watching the trains go around. I wish I had my camera to capture it. Casey might have been more excited by the fact that she had a chair of her own than the trains, but she did like watching them go around.
I went off to check out a children’s clothing sale that was also in the convention center and Pat stayed with Jack and Casey as they checked out all the models. There was one with buttons that you could push to make different things occur on the track. It didn’t control the trains but you could do things like make lights come on and off or make a little man come out of his shed. We’ve seen this train track before and Jack loved pushing all the buttons; it was no different today.
When I came back (empty-handed) from the clothing sale, I found Jack and Casey playing in a children’s area with some motorized Thomas trains. Jack followed me as we went to look at some of the wooden Thomas trains that were for sale. I had been thinking about getting him a couple for his next birthday. As soon as he saw the wooden trains, he didn’t want to do anything but acquire his own. He pointed out three that he really wanted, which of course were not any of the ones that I would have gotten him for his birthday. (I was just going by what he’s told me in the past.)
Despite the fact that yesterday’s post was about how many toys we have, I felt like it was my turn to spoil him a little bit. But I wanted him to look at the exhibits a little more since that’s what we came for. I told him that he could have a train if he was good for the rest of the time we were there and that I would get him one before we left.
I thought I came up with a good incentive for him to be a good little boy and look at the trains. Instead, Jack said that he was ready to go and he didn’t want to look at trains anymore. Therefore, it became time to go and Jack would be able to get a train.
Jack – 1, Mommy – 0.
He played for a while longer in the children’s area while Casey and I snuck off to get a couple trains. Jack wanted a bulldozer (not even a train!) named Byron and Casey picked Lady. (I only gave the option to pick Lady or Rosie and for some reason, Lady was the definite winner.)
Jack later said, “Daddy, did you know how much I was going to love this?” And Casey wouldn’t let go of Lady all afternoon, through naptime and despite the fact that Jack was pretty insistent at times in wanting to trade trains for a few minutes. I think Casey was pretty excited to have one of the trains as her very own, because all the other ones we own were given to Jack.
And as an extra special treat for Jack tonight, I turned all his bedtime songs into songs about Byron…Take Byron Out to the Ballgame, The Tracks on Byron Go Round and Round, B-Y-R-O-N (a take on Bingo) and I Love Byron, Byron Loves Me (a la the Barney song).

Honey, Who Shrunk the Toys?

We seem to have accumulated a lot of toys lately. Between Christmas and Casey’s birthday, I feel like it takes longer and longer every night to put the toys away. But I’m not sure it’s the amount of toys but rather the size. As Jack and Casey get older, the toys seem to get smaller and smaller.
We started out with toys like the big Rockin’ Jitter Buggy that the kids got into. They bounced around a little and played with all the toys…all the toys that were attached and didn’t need to be picked up at the end of the day. It took up a little space, but didn’t require me to do much with it at the end of the day unless I had to shove it back into a corner.

We’ve since moved into the world of Legos. And I think that world is here to stay for a while. Normally they’re not all dumped out at once. But some days, in the search for just the right piece, they are scattered from one end of the room to the other. Sometimes Casey will build with them and sometimes she will just move them into odd spaces on the other side of the room.
Along with Legos, there are wooden puzzle pieces, Cootie bug pieces, Break the Ice pieces, small dinosaurs, big dinosaurs, small cars, golf balls, hockey balls, farm animals, capes, tutus, 12 pairs of toy high heels…and more that aren’t in my direct line of sight right now. Almost everything has a home, but once it escapes from it’s captivity in a box somewhere it doesn’t like to go back.
Sometimes I pick up all toys at the end of the day. Sometimes, I try to clean up as we go along throughout the day. And sometimes, the living room looks like this…
And I leave it like that.

Quiet Time and Raincoats

Since Jack has stopped napping, things have gone pretty well. He can get a little cranky and a lot whiny by the end of the day and there are some days when it is obvious that he really needs a nap. The more he protests it, the more he probably needs it. But on the days when he has quiet time, it is much less stressful for me. He plays in his bedroom and migrates down to the playroom, but he is quiet. I am no longer listening to him thump around and getting frustrated and angry that he is not napping. He will play for more than an hour and then will come wandering out to find me and show me what he has been doing.
Today, before quiet time, Jack decided that he should play downstairs because there were a lot more toys. I knew that if I stayed downstairs with him that he wouldn’t be able to be “quiet.” This was proven correct as I tried to finish my lunch and he tried to play Candyland by himself. “Mommy, I just landed on the licorice and I’m stuck. I need someone else to go two turns so I can get unstuck. Can you just do that for me?” I obliged and quickly finished my lunch so I could go upstairs. As I was going up he said, “You can go upstairs because I know you are tired. I will stay down here and play.” It’s always nice to have his blessing.
After playing downstairs for a while, he came upstairs with a stack of papers that he had been working on. He has a little notepad and he had ripped a bunch of pages out and colored on all of them. He told me a bizarre little story that I still don’t understand (and didn’t even question).
“These are papers that I just made for the friends…in Annapolis. They have fire in their bellies and this will help them.”
He showed me all the different pages. Some had snakes on them, some were just circles and there was one for me that had a lot of coloring on it. I told him one of the pictures looked like a vacuum cleaner and he said, “Yeah, but it’s the back of it.” Sure. He was so proud of this stack of papers and it’s a shame that I don’t really think they’re going to help the poor Annapolis children with fire in their bellies.
Earlier today before school, Jack and Casey decided they wanted to wear their rain coats and rain boots out. I mentioned that it was all done raining, but they never seem to believe me about the weather. As they were donning said outerwear, they had the funniest conversation. I’m pretty sure it won’t be as funny written down because you can’t hear the pure joy that was in their voices.
Jack said, “Casey, you should be happy that you have a new raincoat now, like me. Do you like your new raincoat, Casey?” And Casey responded with a “Yeah!!!” that really requires three exclamation points. He made this raincoat sound like she had won the lottery. The excitement must have been contagious as Casey’s emphatic ‘yeah’ proved her love for the new raincoat. It is an awfully cute raincoat…pink with white polka dots. I guess they’re like me and it’s the little things that excite them the most.

Casey at 2

A glimpse of Casey, what she is like and what she likes, at age 2…

– is 29 pounds and 34 1/2 inches tall…she was in the 5th percentile for the first year of her life, but has now moved up to around 75th percentile
– is fearless!
– likes Dora and Elmo, but rarely sits to watch them for more than 5 minutes except when she is in the car…she actually talks back to Dora when Dora asks questions and tells them to repeat things
– likes to take Tugger for a walk and sit in the stroller
– loves to color…paper is fine, but the table and her hands are even more fun
– loves her big brother but likes the moments when she has us to herself too
– will do whatever Jack does, sometimes to the point that if Jack trips and falls, Casey will fall down too
– is starting to come up with her own thoughts and ideas and voice them (as opposed to parroting what Jack says)
– likes to push things around, although not as much as she used to…she is pushing around the shopping cart and baby stroller lately
– still has a pacifier for naps and night time but for some reason she calls it a “gunkle”
– likes to lay in her crib for up to half an hour after she’s called me in to get her…sometimes Jack is in there too for a party in the crib
– can put on her own socks and shoes, if she wants to
– loves sweet potatoes, oatmeal and currently chicken and steak…she is a pretty good eater, but has her moments of pickiness
– likes story time and her favorite book is called Peedie…”Peedie is gosling. Peedie is a small yellow gosling who forgets things sometimes.”
– likes to try to sing along to her bedtime songs and always requests a Christmas song
– can do somersaults but still has a tough time with jumping
– says “Bless You” in the cutest little voice when someone sneezes
– likes to be picked up and carried around right around when I’m trying to make dinner…she says, “Hug please” and that means she wants to be picked up
Overall, she’s a very happy little girl. She’s a huge fan of her big brother and follows/mimics him all day long. They play together pretty well now that she no longer (innocently) destroys all of his creations. Sometimes she’s a little bug and tortures him, but he probably deserves it.
She adapts well to almost any situation and is a pretty confident two year old. She’s not big on sitting still for any length of time but (hopefully) that will improve soon.
Most of all, she is loved very much by her Mommy and Daddy.

Casey’s 2nd Birthday

Today Casey turned 2! It was a pretty low key day for her, but she got some presents and she was happy. We had a birthday party for her on Saturday and that involved a lot more kids, a lot more square footage covered in toys and a lot more cupcakes. We still have leftover cupcakes but we didn’t even have any today. Just a little bite of a chocolate dog leftover from Valentine’s Day.

On Saturday, there were 10 kids and 15 or so adults here for Casey’s party. For the first half of it, she needed to be held by me. It was a little harder to get the food out, but she was the birthday girl, so I obliged. Finally, she decided it was time to play and I didn’t see much of her after that. The kids were running around from upstairs to downstairs. I’m pretty sure all the toys that I moved upstairs over the last week ended up downstairs again. Not that it mattered where the toys were, but it would have saved me a few trips upstairs while trying to evenly divide toys between the upper and lower play areas. (Maybe that’s a little OCD in the first place.)
We had macaroni & cheese, pulled pork, coleslaw and sweet potato fries for dinner and then on to the cupcakes. After much deliberation, I decided on an Elmo theme for they party and made Elmo cupcakes. I searched 3 or 4 stores for some kind of orange candy to use as Elmo’s nose and finally settled on peach rings because they were the only orange candy that I could find. Not two days after the party, I went shopping at Walmart and of course there was a whole bag of orange candy (orange colored chocolate covered peaches??) mocking me.
Pat took Jack and Casey out to Kangaroo Jack’s and dinner on Friday night while I decorated and baked and slow-cooked. Then he took them out Saturday morning so I could finish the decorating, baking and slow-cooking and dip making. And then, he took them out to breakfast on Sunday morning so I could sleep in. He definitely wins the gold medal the husband/father category for the weekend.
Anyway, Casey enjoyed her Elmo cupcake and we had a great birthday party. We’re glad all our friends could come celebrate with us. Here are a few pictures…

Goodbye Nap…Wish I Could Say Goodbye Winter

The Olympics are sucking the life out of me. I keep staying up too late to watch them. And I can no longer count on getting a little nap while the kids nap. For about 3 weeks, Jack hasn’t been napping very much, maybe one or two times a week. So, it is with great sadness that I am changing naptime to quiet time and/or special time with Mommy for Jack. I’m going to make him stay in his room for an hour and then he can come out and we’ll do something together. The exception is on Wednesdays when he has a Little Gym class at 7:15pm. I will continue to try to make him nap on that day so he still has some energy to make it through class.

Yesterday, it warmed up to 55 degrees here and it was so nice. Today, not so much. Maybe because it was so nice yesterday, today feels like the coldest day of they year. And it was windy, cold, cold windy. Despite the fact that I’m wearing a sweater and have recently added a scarf, I was cold earlier and turned the heat up. Apparently, Jack felt the extra two degrees to be a little high for his comfort and declared that he was hot. At “quiet” time, he took off his long sleeve shirt and just before dinner, he decided he was still hot and ran up to his room to get shorts. And as Jack does, so must Casey. I can’t imagine that she even remembers what it’s like to wear shorts, but she ran up to her room and actually came back downstairs with a pair of shorts that she found in the back of her drawer.
We also received some Valentine’s candy today…their first candy necklaces, a chocolate dog and a race car with candy in it. Even though it was right before dinner, I just let them have it because it was a good distraction and it kept them happy. (Dinner, on the other hand was another unhappy affair with Jack…most likely the result of the earlier candy.)
And so, on a cold February day, two days after Valentine’s day, here are my children dressed in their shorts and candy…

He’s saying cheese…and he’s really into it.

It looks like Tugger is eating Jack’s candy, but she’s not.

Casey Gets Funny

In the last week, Casey has really started to have her own, clearly vocal, opinions about things. She’s been talking in sentences for a while now, but mostly it was mimicking exactly what Jack said. She also understands the questions I’m asking her and usually responds with a cute little “Yah.”
Today on the way to pick Jack up from school, we drove by where we would normally turn to go home. Casey said something that sounded like, “Warner’s in there.”
She was playing with her purse and I thought she was stating that something was in her purse, but Warner is a person so I didn’t know exactly what she meant. I said, “Where is Warner, Casey?”
She responded with a pretty clear, “Warner’s in there, Mommy!” Like I should know exactly what she was talking about and she didn’t appreciate having to repeat herself. I just laughed to myself…and I still don’t know what she meant.
The reason she has been carrying her little purse around with her (which is so cute) is because she kept trying to take Jack’s backpack on the walk into his school. I had to start putting a snack in her purse so she could carry her “backpack” just like Jack carries his. She also tries to take her jacket off as soon as we get in there and would be perfectly content to just stay in class with Jack.
This afternoon, we were playing with Casey’s horse. It came with a cute carrying bag, a saddle, a comb, an apple and a carrot. She was feeding the carrot, then the apple to the horse. Jack came over to check it out and told her, “Horses really like apples, Casey.” He sounded like quite the authority on that…apparently from all our trips to the stables? Anyway, Casey hopped up and said, “I’ll be right back.”
She ran into the dining room and I thought she was going to the kitchen to get a real apple. Instead she came back with a wooden puzzle piece of Hawaii from our 50 states puzzle. She was so proud of herself and had a big smile on her face as she fed Hawaii to the horse. If only she could have said, “Horses really like Hawaii too, Jack.” I have no idea why she thought to go get that puzzle piece but it made me laugh.
After Casey was done playing with the horse, Jack thought he should ride around on it. The horse is only 8 inches tall! I wish I had a picture but hopefully it will be funny enough trying to visualize Jack riding on an 8 inch stuffed horse. He initially had some trouble with the reins but we fixed them up and I guess he enjoyed the ride. (I tried to write a sentence about visualizing Jack with an 8 inch horse between his legs but I knew exactly where the male mind was taking that so I revised a little.)
It’s nice to be able to write some cute things about Casey for a couple of reasons. I thought she was seriously going to give me a run for the money with the terrible twos when she laid down on the street the other day and refused to move as I was trying to get her into the car. I thought it was just a glimpse of what was to come. Now I’m thinking maybe she was just getting ready to emerge into the cuteness I’ve seen in the last few days. (Although I know more battles are coming.) And secondly, there are just a few more funny stories about Jack than Casey. It would be nice to level it out a little.

Rotten Eggs

Although Jack & Casey love bathtime, sometimes it’s tough to get the whole process started and to actually get them naked and in the bathtub. As soon as you mention bathtime, they kind of go crazy and just start running around downstairs.

When they finally get upstairs, often with Pat carrying them both over his shoulder, Jack thinks it’s fun to go jump on our bed and wedge himself in between the head of the bed and the wall. For a while, he would yell that he was stuck until we’d go get him. I guess he liked being stuck because he did it over and over. He’s since figured out how to get out himself, usually upon threat of losing stories and songs if he doesn’t get in the bathroom and take his clothes off.

Once they get their clothes off, they get even crazier. They run around upstairs, in and out of different bedrooms until they are caught and finally delivered to the warm water of the bathtub. Once there, it’s tough to get them out.
To start this whole process, Pat has come up with a new technique. He started out by yelling, “Last one up the stairs is a rotten egg!” It was kind of lost on Jack & Casey, but they thought it sounded funny. After a few days, Jack decided that he wanted to be a rotten egg. So Pat changed it up a little…”First one up the stairs is a rotten egg.” Now as soon as Pat mentions bathtime, Jack says, “I want to be a rotten egg Daddy. Can you say it so I can be a rotten egg?” And Casey chimes in with, “I ‘ant rotten egg. I ‘ant rotten egg.” They run up the stairs and so the bathtime procedure begins, with a little less drama than in the past.

Maybe I Should Call Them Flap’jack’s

It would have been a good day if I could just erase the hours between 5 and 7 pm.

So far in this journey of parenthood, I have avoided big confrontations over food. I don’t want to fight about it, I don’t want to waste energy and time trying to convince someone else to eat. If Jack says he’s not hungry or he’s full, I generally just go with it, even if I know that’s not true. He also claims he doesn’t ‘like’ things which really means he doesn’t ‘want’ something.
This week, Jack has been miserable at the dinner table. He really only wants pasta or pizza for dinner, but it’s rare that he asks for pizza. Even when I make pasta though, he’s not eating much of it. I spent several nights listening to Pat try to cajole him into eating whatever is on the table. And it’s been driving me nuts. I don’t want dinner time to be about trying to convince Jack to eat. Or Casey either, but she’s generally more of a “shoveler” of the food than an eater.
Tonight, I made pancakes. Blueberry pancakes. Jack eats pancakes almost every Sunday when he goes out to breakfast. I let Jack help put the blueberries in and stir. He watched me cook them on the stove. And then he said he didn’t like pancakes. I offered syrup. It was declined. I offered strawberry jam and he accepted and still said he didn’t like pancakes. He asked for raspberries so I gave him some frozen raspberries, but they were on the side and eaten independently of the pancake.
Then I pulled out a tub of Cool Whip. I don’t even know why it was in my fridge because we don’t really put Cool Whip on anything here. I put the Cool Whip on the pancakes and made a smiley face, just like at the restaurant. He ate the Cool Whip off the top and asked for more Cool Whip.
And then I broke my own rule and started not just a fight, but World War Pancake. I told him he was sitting at the table until he ate it. I tried reasoning with him, I yelled at him and I yelled some more. (I’m honestly glad it wasn’t a nice day for having the windows open.) He cried and pushed the pancake around his plate. Originally I was just going to send him up to the bath if he hadn’t eaten it by bathtime.
I let Casey down and played with her while he was sitting at the table. I stopped talking to him, completely ignored him. And he sat there and sat there and sat there. Eventually he figured he could get out of his seat if he claimed he had to use the potty. At that point, I was somewhat flabbergasted that I hadn’t scared him into eating or that he didn’t seem to believe my threats. I guess frustrated it a better word. Annoyed. Pushed a little too close to my limit. Crazy???
So I told him he was going to bed…no bath time, no books, no songs. At this point he claimed the pancake was too cold to eat. It was cold. But I told him it was going to get cold if he didn’t eat it. WHY DON’T YOU BELIEVE WHAT I SAY JACK? WHY, WHY WHY???
He cried about how dirty he was all through Casey’s bathtime. How he needed a bath.
Once Casey was bathed and ready for bed, I finally relented. I offered a warm pancake. If he ate it, I would read him one book and sing songs. And you know what he did? He ate it. He cried about the fact that he was only getting one book, but he ate it.
Why did it take two hours to get him to eat a pancake? And did I really win? Was it worth it? I don’t know. Except for a little yelling, I tried to stay calm and reasonable. He may not think pancakes are as good as pasta but I know he doesn’t not like them.
While he was eating his pancake I talked to him about why it is important to eat his dinner. Everyone keeps telling him that if he eats his food that he will get big. Now he just says that he doesn’t want to get big. So, I’m going to try to change his perception about that a little bit I guess. We also talked about sticker charts so I’m going to start giving him a sticker for eating a good dinner. Maybe extra stickers if it actually includes vegetables. I’m not trying to get him to eat gourmet/crazy/weird food…just not pasta every single night.
After the war, bedtime was actually really nice and we did a little talking after I sang songs. He wanted to know why his belly went in and out when he breathed. He also wanted to know what his back was for. And we chatted about our trip to Annapolis a couple weeks ago…”I met so many mommies and lots of new friends too.”
When I came downstairs to type this I went straight for some chocolate…Ghirardelli Dark & Raspberry squares. A few minutes later, I had to run upstairs to help him with the potty and he asked, “What do I smell Mommy?” For a second, I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then it dawned on me that the little bugger could smell the chocolate I was just eating. I played dumb to see what he would come up with. “I think it smells like…ummm…ummm…I think it smells like brownies.” His sense of smell is getting a little too sharp!

Good Night Jack

Bedtime with Jack when he’s a little overtired means that he asks lots of random questions. He’s pretty good at asking random questions during the course of a normal day, but at bedtime, he usually just sits and listens nicely to the songs and stories. When he’s tired, he likes to interject random, hard to answer questions while I’m trying to read or sing.

First, Jack wanted to read a story that I think was behind the chair in Casey’s room. She was already in her crib and probably asleep. Jack had a solution for that – “There are two different story times for tonight. One is for you to read these to me now. The other is that you have to sneak into Casey’s room, really quiet so you don’t wake her and get the book and then sneak back into my room. We can do that one later.”
He asked me to sing him “Here Comes Santa Claus” after reading about Spot’s First Christmas. (I let them pick their own books at the library sometimes…it’s usually a pretty interesting selection and inevitably includes a Christmas book, no matter what time of year it is.) After I sang him the song, making up a bunch of it since I didn’t know all the words, he said, “Is that all the words to it Mommy?”
I said, “I knew a lot of them and then I made some of them up.”
He said, “Oh, well does Daddy know all the words?”
“No, he doesn’t.”
“Does Grammie know all the words?”
“I don’t know if she does,” I said.
“Does Grampie know all the words?”
“No, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t.”
“Did you call Grammie and ask her if she knew all the words? I think that’s what you did. You can call her later, but if Nana calls, you can talk to her. Then if the phone rings again, you can talk to Grammie.”
I started singing another song, the Barney “I Love You, You Love Me” song and he asked me how I learned all the words to that song.
When I got to the last song, I said, “One more song, Jack.”
“Is one a big number?…Why is it a small number?…Why isn’t it a big number?”
He asks the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked! And now I shall look up the lyrics to Here Comes Santa Claus.