Goodbye Gunkles!

gunkle – [gung-kuhl] noun.  A rubber or plastic device for a baby to suck or bite on.
Synonyms – pacifier, nuk, binky, plug
Origin – Jack called his nuks and when Casey was first trying to say that, it sounded a little like nunkles and somehow evolved into gunkles and that’s what stuck

It’s been two and a half years of the gunkles and it was time for them to go away.  I might have waited just a wee bit longer but somehow I lost my veto power this weekend and Operation: Goodbye Gunkles started on Sunday under the auspices of the other parenting unit.

She’s only used them at naptime, bedtime and sometimes on really long car rides for over a year now but I was trying to mentally prepare myself for some rough times as we said goodbye because she was quite devoted to them at bedtime.  She liked to have one in her mouth and one in each hand.

Casey had her first dentist appointment last week and the dentist said that the pacifiers weren’t helping her and to start cutting back.  I think we took Jack’s away when he was a little older and he seemed to understand a little better.  I don’t even think he mentioned them again after the first night.  I suspected it wouldn’t be so easy with Casey.

Pat decided yesterday (also his birthday) was the day to say goodbye.  We gave the gunkles to her baby cousin Charlotte who was visiting and she took them home.  (Or maybe I hid them under a towel in the laundry room.)  Either way, Casey screamed for 30 minutes at naptime and then finally drifted off for a very short nap.

I did not want to take the gunkles away yesterday.  I didn’t feel prepared.  For Jack I had a present that the Nuk Man left in the middle of the night for him.  I didn’t have anything for Casey and I wasn’t ready to hear her cry herself to sleep again.  She’s been such a good sleeper for so long that I didn’t want to mess that up.

While she cried herself to sleep, I sewed a little dress for one of the nakey babies in the hopes that she would be excited about a little present after her first nap without a gunkle.  She wasn’t very excited about the dress or about life without gunkles…mostly because her nap was way too short.  (I’m still impressed with the dress at least.)

She cried at bedtime.  I hissed things to Pat like, “You did this…you come up and make her stop crying!”   and “You aren’t going to be the one who has to deal with this in the middle of the night!”  She finally fell asleep after all the stuffed animals were removed from her bed at her request, songs were sung to her several times, blankets were arranged and rearranged and tissues were brought to her so she could blow her nose after the crying.  At 11pm she woke up again and wanted a tissues and her covers (blankets) fixed.  And then she slept until 7am.  Now normally she might sleep until eight, but seven was great.

Today, on day 2, she cried a little at nap and took only an hour nap but it was better than yesterday.  At bedtime she cried a little as well and we took all her blankies and animals out of her crib.  She wanted them completely removed from her room so they’re all sitting in the hallway.

So hopefully it continues to get better and she learns to put herself back to sleep without her beloved gunkles.

Now on to potty training or a big girl bed.  I’m not sure which one I want to do less.  Actually I wouldn’t mind the potty training if she actually had any interest in doing it.

Oh, and since the Gunkle Man wasn’t able to come in the middle of the night, he told me that I could take Casey to the store and let her choose a toy.  She chose a pink Leaptop computer.  There’s a feature on there for her to check her email and read blogs.  Seriously.  I’m not sure if she likes it more or Jack.  He wanted to know when we was going to get the email after he’d been listening to the computer read it to him.  We had a little discussion about the different between real mail and email.

A New Game

Last week…

“Mommy, Mommy!!  I found these things somewhere where they’re not supposed to be!” Jack yells as he comes running down the stairs.

I already have an idea about what he found and where he found it.  Darn, I thought I covered it all up pretty well.

A distressed Jack continues downstairs with his rediscovered possessions.  “Mommy, these were in the garbage can in the laundry room.  How did they get in there?”

He found a plastic ring and a stuffed animal that I think was supposed to be a germ, a “germinal” perhaps.  It was a freebie my mom (a nurse) got from a drug company and passed on to Jack.  In my attempt to get rid of random clutter and stuffed animals that seem to accrue exponentially, I decided that everyone would survive just fine without the germinal.  And I think we all would have, had Jack not found it.  I even tried to bury it in the garbage can under some dryer lint.

Some quick Mommy thinking resulted in this response, “It’s a game Jack!  Although maybe the garbage can wasn’t a good place to start this game.”

“What kind of game Mommy?  How do we play it?  Can we play it right now?”

And so, the germinal became a game piece.  The game started out pretty simple.  I told him I was hiding the germinal and he had to find it.  And that was it.  So then we had to take turns hiding and looking for it at which point Mum taught Jack how to play Hot & Cold as he got closer or further from the germinal.  It then evolved that Jack needed a map to be able to find the germinal.  It had to be hidden and then marked on the map (also known as a floor plan) with an X.

And so it was proven again that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Pre-K Naval History

I’ve been talking to Jack all afternoon.  We chatted while I prepared dinner.  We chatted while I put Legos together.  We chatted while he put Legos together.  We chatted while I finally cleaned up the toys.  And now Max and Ruby are going to entertain him because I feel like I’ve been taking a test for the past 3 hours.

Before we left for Annapolis last weekend, we visited Fort Monroe with my parents.  Pat had been there for a command function and thought we would like it.  It turned out to be a great afternoon visit.  There was a beach, gorgeous views, a lighthouse, ramparts to climb, guns to look at, a moat and a museum.  At one point, we crossed the moat to visit the museum inside and Jack wanted to know where the castle was.  He was a little upset when I told him there wasn’t a castle.  “But there’s a moat Mommy, so there has to be a castle inside it.”

When we told Jack there was a museum, he was oddly excited.  The last museum we went to was probably a children’s museum so maybe he thought it would be like that.  There were no toys here, but he really liked wandering through everything and asking a lot of questions about things.  It was hard for him to understand why some things looked so different.  I think he gets that “hundreds of years ago” is a long time ago, but the concept that things were very different then is kind of hard for him to grasp.

On Tuesday we went on a boat cruise of Norfolk and had another great day.  We got Jack some real binoculars (as opposed to his toys ones that don’t really magnify) and he loved looking through them.  He didn’t like sharing them with Casey, but he survived that tragic unfairness with only a few outbursts.  At one point we went downstairs for a little air conditioning and little change in view.  There was a picture of the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack and oh the questions it spurned…

What are those ships doing?  Why are they shooting at each other?  Why are they other ships there?  Why are they wooden?  Where were they?  Where are they now?  Why were they fighting?  What is a cannon ball?  How does it work?  What is a war?

I answered them all as best as I could.  But today we had round 2 of warship questions.  There was a brochure for the Naval Museum sitting around with more pictures of old ships and battles.  One picture was of the USS Merrimack during conversion to ironclad CSS Virginia.

Why were they putting iron on there?  What does the iron do?  How does it get sunk if it’s iron?  How do the cannon balls go through it?  Does iron keep the ship from sinking?  Why aren’t there cannon balls today?  What do they use instead?  How do the missiles work?  Are they really heavy?  Why were they fighting?  Just because they didn’t agree with each other?  Why?  Why?  Why?

And so it was a long afternoon of trying to explain naval battles to a 4 year old.  We talked about ships that are sunk and finding treasures and artifacts on them too.  (I did not however, use the word artifact…another 10 questions would result.)  Then he asked, “Don’t they have any ship soap?”  This “ship soap” is quite a product.  It is something that you can put under the ships and it brings them back up to the surface.  Poor Jacques Cousteau is rolling over in his grave because he had no idea about this ship soap.  I wonder if you can use it preemptively.  The implications are awesome to behold…the Titanic pops to mind first.

The finale of this conversation is that when Jack grows up he is going to build a new battleship that is a friendly battleship and doesn’t hurt anybody.  

I jest a little, but it is so amazing what his mind can do and the imagination that he has.  It certainly keeps me on my toes.

Busy Weekends

After travelling all summer (Ocean City, Maine, Ocean City) it seems like life should slow down a little now that school has started.  But we had some visitors and a little more traveling to do over the last couple weeks and some more in the future.

My sister came to visit over Labor Day Weekend and we fit a trip to the zoo, some shopping and a lot of good eating into the weekend.  It already seems like it was a long time ago.

Pat’s 10 year reunion at the Naval Academy was last weekend so my parents came to watch the kids while we enjoyed a childless weekend.  For some reason I thought I would catch up on some sleep but there was a little too much catching up with friends to get all the sleep I wanted.

Jack and Casey had a great time with Grammie and Grampie.  Grammie taught them how to play hopscotch, how to not step on the cracks, and how to turn their piles of blankets into great outfits.  Among other things I’m sure.
In the meantime, Pat and I had a fabulous weekend in Annapolis.  The reunion committee did a great job and it was effortless for us to enjoy everything.  There were busses to and from the hotels and the events.  The only thing I can compare the tailgater to on Saturday is a really long wedding reception except wedding attire was replaced by blue and gold Navy attire.  There was a huge tent set up, an all day long open bar, meals, and even an ice sculpture.  There were events for the kids too and Scooby Doo was on constant replay all day long.  We were lucky to enjoy the day without kids which meant I was able to have actual conversations with people and even to remember their names.  (The nametags were a big help too.)  We had such a great time and it was great to catch up with friends.  I’m already looking forward to the 15 year reunion. 
Now I’m kind of getting back into routine (like remembering to blog) but I’m still looking for the energy to pick up all these toys off the floor.

First Day of Preschool

Jack’s first day of school started out a little bit like this…

We were out watching the Navy football game last night and got home a little late.  And that was one a few late nights lately.  So Jack and Casey decided it was a great morning to sleep in.  I was up, showered, had a load of laundry in and had checked my email before the sleepyheads woke up. 
And when they’re sleepy, they eat breakfast really…really… slowly.  We ended up leaving half of Casey’s on the table because I wanted to get going.  We were nowhere near being late, but I neurotically needed to be really early.  The last five minutes in the house involved me trying to get Casey to eat another bite, giving up, changing her clothes on the kitchen floor, grabbing the camera, trying to get Jack to smile and look at the camera and telling Casey we didn’t have time to do her hair.  In fact, she was crying as we left the house because of that.  She wanted to spend 5 minutes picking out just the right elastic and I wanted to get to school.  We brought the brush and elastics with us and I ended up doing her hair in the car when I realized I had plenty of time once I’d arrived.
The photos aren’t even that great because I was just trying to get some and get in the car.  Jack’s not even holding his lunchbox.  (First snack of the year – chocolate chip granola bar and some dates.)  But he’s smiling and looking at the camera.  Once he decided he wanted to have his picture taken, he wanted me to keep snapping pictures.  I brought the camera to school with me in an attempt to get one of him with his lunchbox in front of his school but then people were trying to go in and out of the building around us and the camera wouldn’t work right and I felt a little silly so I just ushered him into the building. 

When we first got to his classroom, Jack tried to hide behind me and was a little shy.  I pointed out all the fun things he could play with but he was still a little shy.  Then I remembered that he hadn’t gone to the bathroom that morning yet, so we went into the bathroom.  I told him I had to go after we left the bathroom.  He walked right into his classroom and said, “Goodbye Mommy!” and didn’t look back.  I think he needed that little moment in the bathroom and then he was ready to go.

Casey and I headed to the grocery store where I got the grocery shopping done in record time.  Tugger even got a walk this morning after we got home.

When I went to pick Jack up at school, he saw me, jumped up and down a couple times and said, “Fun!”  He told Pat that his favorite part of the day was playing on the playground because he made a friend and they played pirates.  He’s told me more about what he did in one day of school that he did in all of last year at his preschool.  And it’s so much fun to listen.  I think it’s going to be a great school year for all of us.

Adventures in Babysitting

On Thursday, a good friend of mine headed to the hospital to have her third baby while her 3 and 2 year old boys came over here to hang out with us.  My sister was in town, so we managed to keep the ratio of children to adults at 2:1 but it was still quite a busy afternoon!  Between the four kids, I’m pretty sure every toy got some personal attention even if it was only for a few seconds until another, better, more fun toy was spotted.  We played inside, outside in the backyard and outside in the front yard and I think we wore them down.  Well, I know that they wore us down at least.  When Pat got home from work, he was a big help too.

As luck would have it, macaroni & cheese was already on my menu, so we had kid friendly food ready to go.  I don’t think I would have done bathtime with 4 kids had they not all been sweaty from playing outside, but I thought it was kind of required.  I didn’t want to send dirty kids along to meet their newest sibling.  We loaded them into the huge bathtub in the master bathroom and Pat went down the line of kids and shampooed them all up.

Since the baby wasn’t born yet, our big playdate turned into their first sleepover.  Jack was really excited about it.  He’s watched a few shows where there are sleepovers so he thought he was ready to have his own.  And he has bunk beds in his room, so there was plenty of bed space.  However, I really wasn’t sure that I was going to get them all to fall asleep in there.  Jack usually sleeps with his lights on, unlike just about every other child.  His friends wanted the light off, Jack wanted the light on…hmmm.  I finally ran downstairs and got Jack his flashlight.  Which he obviously should have had anyway for his sleepover…isn’t that kind of a requirement?  Jack also had his Thomas “map” which is a pamphlet with pictures of Thomas the Train and all his friends.  He just likes to “read” it and needed some light for that.

I left the room for a few minutes and came back to find all 3 boys in the bottom bunk looking at the map, studying the trains and train sets.  They were discussing which trains they had and which ones they wanted and it was really cute.  But it was still bedtime so I sent one back to the top bunk and told them to go to sleep and left again.  I repeated that whole process a couple times and then said it was time for the map to go away.  Then there were a few trips to the potty.  Finally, I sat in the room with them (in the dark) and told them to be quiet and to lay down and go to sleep about 30 times.  And finally, they all did!  And it was only 8:30.  I left to the sweet sound of 3 little boys snoring.

It was quiet all through the night.  I heard them start talking at about 6:30 and I checked on them 15 minutes later.  As soon as I opened the door, they were off to the races…gotta get to the toys and start playing.

The boys’ dad arrived mid-morning with the exciting news that they have a new baby sister!  I was thrilled to find out it was a girl and I’m looking forward to meeting her soon.

So, I’d say it was a pretty successful sleepover.  I think they’re a little young to realize that you’re supposed to try to stay up late and drive the parents crazy.  Which is good because I know they need their sleep and I certainly needed mine!

Here’s a picture of them all playing in the big sand pit at the playground a couple weeks ago…

Hello Betty…It’s A Girl!

I finished this quilt just two days before Baby Zoe was born.  For the sake of getting the quilt finished, it’s a good thing she was over a week late, although not for her poor mother.  Again, I didn’t know whether the quilt was going to be for a boy or a girl until the baby was born.  Zoe’s mom already has two boys so I was hoping it would end up being for a girl.

I started this quilt when I got my new sewing machine (a Janome Magnolia 7330).  I already had a quilt top pieced and didn’t want to jump right into quilting with my new machine.  I had a Hello Betty charm pack sitting around so I starting organizing them into a patchwork quilt.  Then I played with offsetting the squares and I really liked how it looked.  I also liked how it didn’t require me to match up my corners.  I added white sashing strip to make it a little bigger and to make the colors pop a little more.  The finished size is 43″ x 45.”

The backing is also from the Hello Betty line by Moda and it has a yellow binding.  I quilted a 1/4″ from both sides of the horizontal seams and in the ditch around the patchwork.  I thought this would be the quilt I tried free motion quilting on but I didn’t have a darning or FMQ foot and didn’t feel like running to the store again, so I went back to the straight lines.  In the end, I really liked the modern look of it with straight lines.

The pictures aren’t quite doing this quilt justice.  It’s a lot more vibrant in person and the backing doesn’t look like digital camoflauge in real life.

A Different Perspective

This is a post from Tugger tonight.

Someone had to get a post written so I “pawed” up to the job.  No posts this last weekend because once again the family went on another vacation.  They’ve been gone a lot this summer.  But I got to go to the kennel and play with my “friends” as the kids call them.  I don’t even really know the other dogs’ names, but we enjoy sniffing and chasing and doing dog things together.  The problem is after I leave the kennel…I’m wiped for days.  I’ve just been laying around sleeping all day.  Jack came down to say good morning to me at some godawful hour and I just pretended I was still asleep.  I moseyed down to the kitchen for breakfast though.  I don’t like to miss any meals or scraps that I might be able to steal from the kids, or off the counter.  Did Teresa ever tell you I managed to get Jack’s birthday cake one day?

Anyway, I guess everyone had a good time in Ocean City while I was at the kennel.  Jack keeps talking about going to the beach and playing in the water and playing in the pool and some pirate restaurant that they went to.  Casey just keeps clomping around in her princess heels that she missed while they were away.  Their toys are everywhere…I have to watch where I step.

I think there is some kind of storm coming this weekend and Jenn is coming too.  When I was a puppy and she came to visit us in Annapolis, I got so excited that I just passed out on the floor.  True story.  They were all worried that I was having a seizure, but I just got really really excited until I fell on the floor.  One other time, Teresa’s friend Aaron was over and I got really excited again.  This time, I jumped into Jack’s crib.  Seriously…over the rail and everything.  I’m not sure who was more amazed, them or me.  Had a tough time getting back out though.  Needed a little help with that.

Before I head up to watch Rachel Zoe, I leave you with some pictures of me…I got to travel a little this summer too.  I can still curl up in the front seat of the car but I really liked sticking my head out the window at red lights.  That was really great until we got back up to about 55 mph…and then I pulled my head back in, hoping for another light soon.