Thursday, February 25, 2010

Unnecessary Roughness

These days I sometimes feel more like a referee than a mommy. The kids are just at a stage of constant misbehavior, it seems. I don't mean to say that they're terrible all the time. That's certainly not the case, but it's not surprising that they both love the word "no" since I have to say it to them about eighteen thousand times a day.

To look at this angelic little face, you would think her capable of no wrong, but you would be wrong. In fact, she has started resorting to biting to get her way. She hasn't done it to other kids besides Jake, thank goodness, but she took a nice hunk out of Jake's chest on Sunday. When I went to pick them up from the church nursery Sunday night, one of the workers informed me that she had bitten her brother & showed me the proof. He had teeth marks on his lower chest that broke the skin! I of course scolded her & made her apologize, but since I wasn't there to witness the incident, talking about it later doesn't do much good. I'm having nightmares about her being "the kid that bites" in preschool next year. Aaahhhh!!!
Jake certainly deserves your sympathy for being bitten, but don't let him off the hook too quickly. He has made a habit of pushing - scratch that, shoving - his sister lately. It's not usually even for any reason, which is what I can't figure out. He just gets really wound up & excited & starts pushing her around & laughing about it. Since he has more than a three pound lead on her, he can easily send her flying.

Cute little stinkers in their church outfits that Grandma & Grandpa gave them for Christmas
What to do, what to do? We discipline with words, time-outs & spankings when warranted. Any ideas from some of you who've been there, done that?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Be Mine

Yes, I know that the holiday of love is long past now, but I never blogged about any of our V-Day activities.

My first undertaking with the kids was just a little sticker fun. They had never used stickers before, so I bought some nice Elmo Valentine ones to pique their interest. On each piece of card stock, I made a grid of dots with a red marker so they would have something to aim for. Check out the top of Jake's page. Following in his father's footsteps, he was super concerned with putting Elmo right where he was supposed to be on the dots. Of course, he's a toddler, so his attention span wore out after the first few stickers, & his attention to detail followed suit, but I just thought it was an interesting difference from Mal's page. Notice that the only sticker anywhere near a dot on our free-spirited child's page is the first one that I placed as I was showing her how to do it. So funny!
Our next project was an idea supplied by Cassie (thank you!) to make tissue paper hearts. The pink construction paper heart is mounted on clear contact paper so that the middle is sticky for the tissue paper "filling." Jake & Mal had so much fun with this one!

The careful child slowly filling his heart...
...& his sister hogging all the tissue paper. I "helped" her share.
Even cleaning up the extra pieces was fun! Don't worry, I got out the vacuum after a minute & made quick work of this job.
The finished product!
Their final V-Day activity was helping Mommy ice the sugar cookies she'd made. Waiting in anticipation...
Jake trying his hand at it...
and then experiencing the crushing disappointment that followed having to put the cookie on the drying rack.
Mal taking a turn. (Jake licking icing off his fingers as he watched.)
It turns out that 18-month-olds don't exactly get the concept of seeing & even touching food but not eating it. I ended up just giving them each the cookie they'd dipped & then finishing the job myself as they clearly weren't going to leave any cookie behind. They settled for a craisin snack instead.
Mommy's finished product
Mal trying out her new cooking set from Mimi & Pops
Jake explaining the intricacies of his new Elmo cell phone to Daddy
Reading their Valentines
The twins got some fun goodies from Mommy & Daddy, including coloring books & crayons, which are a new phenomenon in our house. Here's to hoping the crayons don't find too many walls! It was a fun week & a fun day as a family. I never got around to letting them make their Valentine counting books (also from Cassie) but part of the beauty of kids their age is that they totally won't care if we do it two weeks past the holiday!

J & I got to enjoy a nice dinner at Chamberlain's & a movie on Saturday night without the kids. Thank goodness for babysitters!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring Weather, Come Quickly!

I realize that I'll be hollering that it's too hot before I know it, but I could really use some warm days, couldn't you? The snow was pretty, but it's gone now & I'm over it. It did warm up a bit this week but not quite enough to really let the kids play outside much. Their little colds sure didn't help!

I recently bought the kids' Easter outfits & some spring clothes, & it all just has me itching for a nice, sunny day spent in short sleeves. For now, these pics from one of our freakishly warm January days at the Arboretum will have to suffice.


Friday, February 19, 2010

18 Month Stats

Jake & Mallory turned 18 months old on Monday! My two big kids keep me very busy every day, but we're having lots of fun!

Enjoying a little spaghetti & oreos - what could be better?! I promise they ate a good helping of spaghetti before I busted out the cookies!
Jake currently weighs 23 lb 2 oz (15%), is 30 inches tall (<5%) and measures at 80% for his head. Poor little short kid. Blame it on the genes! I thought that Jake might have an ear infection this week, but thankfully he didn't. We're going to have his ears checked at 21 months just to make sure that the little bit of fluid that was on one of them hasn't gotten infected, but for now we're okay.

Dr. Denison's comment on his stat sheet said "busy boy." That is the understatement of a lifetime! Jake is constant motion & all boy. He just plows through things & people & is so destructive. I see a lot of ER visits in our future. When he's not wreaking havoc, though, he is also such an affectionate little boy! J & I get lots of hugs & kisses, as does Mallory, even though she likes them a bit less than we do.
Miss Mallory weighs 19 lb 15 oz (<5%) and measures at 80% for her head. I really thought she had passed the 20 pound mark based on an at-home weighing a couple of weeks ago, but not so. This is the first time she has ever been taller than her brother, which just makes her look even skinnier! I promise she eats, but she's just going to be a petite little girl. We have to take her back at 21 months for a weight check, but the doc said as long as she's gaining (even if it's slow), then he's not worried.
Jake has been impressing us with his newly expanded vocabulary lately. He has added "duck," "turtle," "juice," "baby" & "Big Bird" to his list of words, along with countless other things that he hears us say & repeats. "Ya-yo" (Elmo) is still his most frequently used word as he is obsessed with anything pertaining to that little red monster.
Mallory refines her skill of communicating with aliens daily but doesn't say quite as many words that we can actually recognize. We're pretty sure she's multilingual. As mentioned in my earlier post, she's definitely mastered "no" & has also been saying "what's that," "duck" & "bye" lately.
As you can see here, we're continuing to work on using plates, bowls & utensils. Jake is a champ at the spoon as long as he's interested in eating whatever is being served.
Mal holds her spoon like this, with her "pinchers" for those of you who remember those from her early finger food days, so that makes it a bit more difficult to be precise. She does not accept help though, so even if it takes her forever, we've just had to let her figure it out for herself. She's definitely improving!

I'm sure I could think of many more impressive things to tell you about my angels, but I'll stop here. Basically, we think they're perfect & love them so much! We're grateful that God has entrusted them to us & are enjoying watching them become who He made them to be.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

No!

Jake & Mallory have lots of fun, new words lately, but unfortunately the most commonly used one is "no." Sometimes it's a cute little "nah," & other times it's a very forceful "no, no, NO!"

Do you want to get dressed?
No.
Do you want to get in the car?
No.
Can you share that toy?
No.
Are you my sweet baby?
No.

It rarely matters what I ask. No may mean yes, but no may just mean no. Oh, fun!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sibling Smackdown

I caught this video Monday of Jake & Mal inventing a new game. This had already been going on for several minutes before I got the camera. Normally, I would scold Jake for being so rough with his sister, but since she thought it was hilarious, I allowed it to continue with minimal interference from Mommy. Crazy kids!
video

Monday, February 15, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside!

What a fun change in the weather we've had lately! This winter has a whole has been just crazy with all of our cold weather. I've really enjoyed it in short spurts, but I'm definitely thankful that we don't have severely cold weather very often. Among other reasons, bundling up kids is exhausting!

I took Jake & Mal out Thursday morning to experience the snow for the first time. Remember, I was the non-fun mom who didn't take them out to play for our white Christmas. Here they are deciding whether or not to venture out of the garage.
Marveling at this cold, white stuff

A blizzard by Texas standards!
The twins just ran around with excited expressions, trying to decide what to think of all of this.
video
Justin was able to make it home in time to join in the fun. I love this sweet pic of my two favorite boys.
Mommy giving Mallory a lesson in picking up handfuls of snow. She couldn't quite figure out how to operate her hands with mittens on.
Me & my sweet girl
Daddy & Jake
Since Jake didn't own any appropriate footwear for this weather, the snow was getting in under his pant legs & making his ankles cold. Our solution? A pair of Mommy's socks over his shoes & pants. He was still cold, but at least the snow wasn't actually touching his skin.
Here's redneck sledding at its best! Who knew that the canopy from a baby pool float could double as a sled?
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Seriously, whose yard is this?

The snow was fun, but now I'm ready for the 60 degree weather that my forecast is promising for Thursday!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yummy to My Tummy: Chicken Piccata

Today's recipe comes from my favorite cookbook, "Confessions of a Kitchen Diva" by Claudine Destino. For our family, I left out the capers since J is not a fan, but it made me a bit sad because I love capers. J also added that a bit less lemon juice might be an improvement, but he still ate two helpings, so it clearly wasn't a deal breaker. Even Jake & Mal gobbled up this dish. Enjoy!

Chicken Piccata

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/3 C all-purpose flour
1 can (14 oz) low-sodium chicken broth
6 T butter or margarine, softened, divided
2 T all-purpose flour
4 T extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
2/3 C dry white wine
1/2 C lemon juice
1/8 tsp crushed red peppers
2 T capers
1/4 C chopped fresh parsley

Pound chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch even thickness. Season with salt & pepper. Dredge breasts in 1/3-cup flour, shaking to remove excess. Set aside.

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Lower heat to medium & simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup.

Stir 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons flour until smooth. Set aside to use in the sauce later.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken breasts in batches until golden, about 3-4 minutes per side using only as much oil as needed. Transfer chicken to a warmed dish; tent with foil to keep warm.

In the same skillet, saute garlic 1 minute. Add wine, lemon juice & reduced chicken broth & bring to a boil over medium-high heat, scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Whisk in butter-flour mixture & continue simmering until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in remaining butter, crushed red peppers, capers & parsley. Spoon sauce over chicken & serve immediately.

I served this over angel hair pasta. It's simple enough for a week night but looks & tastes fancy enough for company!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

My dear friend Sharon awarded this honor to me, which means that I am supposed to share 7 things about myself that others might not know. I've done something similar to this in the past, so we'll see if I can come up with original facts. Here we go, in no particular order!
  • My only birth mark is a black streak running through the back of my hair. Every hair stylist I've ever had feels the need to stop & gawk at it for a few minutes after they first notice it. Luckily, it's not on the very top layer, so it blends pretty well.
  • I'm a compulsive organizer when it comes to the pantry, kitchen cabinets, etc. Since I shop at Sam's for many of our groceries, it is not uncommon for my pantry to contain 8-12 of something at a time. I line up all of my green beans, for instance, in a perfect stacked row with labels facing forward. In my bathroom, it bothers me if clean towels go back on the top of the stack after being folded. I prefer that they be put at the bottom of the stack in order to promote equal usage. I know, I know.
  • Up until the week before Christmas, I didn't have a data plan on my phone. No text, no email, no nothin'. It drove me crazy when people sent me text messages (unless they were urgent) because it actually cost me 20 cents, or whatever it was. Now that Justin took pity on me & got me a data plan, I'm probably one of those annoying people that sends a text rather than calling & racks up charges for the small crowd of non-texters of which I was formerly a member.
  • I don't like the color purple. Don't ask me what my particular beef is with that color, because I couldn't tell you, but I've just never been a fan. It just doesn't look that good on me & has never really caught my eye the way other colors do, but I do own one or two things in purple. Poor Mallory very rarely gets purple things because I just usually think the pink version is cuter.
  • I would LOVE to have boy/girl twins again with my next pregnancy. Some might call me crazy, but really it would just be more efficient, don't you think? We own a boy & girl version of everything, two cribs, two car seats, etc. And I've always wanted a big family. Of course, irony will probably prevail & I'll end up with girl twins & it will drive me crazy that all of Mal's hand-me-downs don't have a matching partner.
  • I just tried pistachios for the first time last weekend. They're delicious! I'm not sure how I escaped having this delightful snack for 25 years, but I regret it. I think there are lots of random foods that I don't know whether I like or not just because I never bothered to try them. I'll have to work on that.
  • I have a very mild grade of scoliosis. When I was a cheerleader in high school, my stunt partners kept telling me to stand straight until they figured out that my hips are just crooked & learned to deal with it.
Now don't you feel enlightened? I'll pass my award on to Amy B, Jen M, Hollie E, Cari P, Anna G, Rae B & Jill N.

Monday, February 8, 2010

This is the way we fold our clothes...

I love it when I can actually catch them doing something on video without them noticing me. As I put sheets on my bed this afternoon, this is how Jake & Mal occupied themselves.
video