Thursday, April 26, 2012

Perfectly Different: On Losing Things

Ever since Gage was old enough to communicate we have noticed some quirks. He remembers things. Pretty much everything. Combine this with his quirk to sort and hide things all over the house and its made for some pretty entertaining episodes.

"Hey Mom, remember that blue bouncy ball I got at Pizza Hut when we went to visit your friend Dana? I put it in the red bag under my bed with the ball the Easter Bunny brought me when I was two."

Kid's toys knowingly come with dozens of pieces. Some children (Max) actually play with these toys. Gage? He spends "play time" looking for the 1 or 2 pieces that have seemingly grown legs and walked away.

"I cannot find the little sheep. Not this little sheep. I'm looking for the little sheep that has paint missing on one of its feet."

I used to think it was so annoying. We have spent hours looking for things he KNOWS are missing. If he cannot find them, its because I have moved them or his brother has moved them. Because obviously, if he put it somewhere he knows exactly where he left it.

"Mom, we have to go back to the park. Last week, I left a green crayon under the silver slide."

Now I think Gage's "Find It" superpower is pretty much the coolest thing ever. I no longer need to keep track of a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. Lost my wallet? Just ask Gage. Can't find the remote? Just ask Gage. Misplace a paper bag we used that Sunday we learned about David and Goliath at church? He will know where I left it.

And then there's Max.

I'm convinced Max doesn't give a crap about locating anything. His personality is so much more laid back than Gage's was at this age. Also, his brother retrieves misplaced toys and food before Max even knows they're gone. I swear I could ask the kid where his face is and he'd smile and say, "I don't know." Tonight he was looking for "two army guys and cowboy fighter" toy figurines while he was sitting in his bed. I literally picked up the blanket covering his legs and they were right there.

Two and a half years separates these two cuties in age. Their interests and personalities separate them even further. Thankfully, for us, they are the perfect compliment to each other.

If you missed previous installments of Perfectly Different, check them out below!

Perfectly Different
Perfectly Different: Sock Fetish

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Birthday #5: Bullseye!

We celebrated Gage's birthday the weekend of Easter this year. He turned five on Good Friday and we spent the day playing at the office, and then attending church service with family. His party took place on Saturday after an Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by his preschool.

Gage has really been into hunting lately. For Christmas, Jack got a coyote call, so besides heading out for deer and pheasant seasons, he went coyote hunting several times. The boys also enjoy playing hunting games on the Xbox, so they have been living and breathing hunting adventures.

Birthday boy enjoying lunch!

Grandma Koreen made the hunting cake, suitable for even the gluten free members of the family. Gage and Grandma had picked their favorite design online and Grandma delivered. This cake was delicious and oh so cool!

My favorite detail of the cake was the inside. She actually "marbled" and dyed the cakes to make it look camouflage! So so cool!

Because of the additional commitments of Easter weekend, we had just a couple of friends over, but it ended up being the perfect amount for the costumes we have on hand. Always a hit.

After present opening, the boys headed outside to enjoy a little hunting experience. We had grabbed some weaponry, ammunition and this fabulous inflatable deer target. The kids (big and little!) had a great time playing and taking turns at each weapon.

Thanks to Grandpa Chuck, Jack, Uncle Nathan and Uncle Adam for their help!

I think they had a good time. :)

So far year five has definitely had its ups and downs. It seems like the highs are a big higher but the lows are lower as well. Judging from his massive appetite and impressive sleep schedule (good for a change!) I'm certain he's in the midst of another growth spurt. I'm going to blame his volatile attitude on that until I come up with something better.

At any rate, we are crazy in love with Gage and everything he brings to our life. He is amazing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A study in sleeplessness.

D: Ember doesn't sleep anyway, so we wouldn't be out anything. Easton will...he's a champ. :)
K: Still not sleeping good huh? Is it possible she just needs less that the experts say? I have one like that ;)

D: That's not the problem. She was up 7 times last night, no joke.
And only napped for 1.5 hours TOTAL all day yesterday.

K: Oh wow. The up-lots-of-times-at-night thing sucks big time. When Gage was little like that, I'd sometimes just turn on the TV for him so I could sleep on the couch.
Is she upset when she's awake? Or just wants to be awake?

D:  She's tired. She goes back to sleep. Sometimes within 2 minutes, sometimes within 12 minutes. She just keeps. waking. up.
K: She looks so alert and curious, I just wonder if she's too excited about exploring and playing to sleep.

D: She cries. She's tired.
She hates David between 9pm and 7 am.

K: And she needs you to put her back to sleep.
Ouch, yeah Gage only wanted me at night too. Because Jack didn't mess around - he'd make him go back to sleep. It usually helped him sleep better though.

D: Mostly, yes. Last night she did let him comfort her twice.
Me the other 5 times.

K: And she won't put herself back to sleep? We did let Gage 'cry it out' a few times. After 3-4 days it worked really well and he'd sleep fine. For 3-4 days.
D: I did a trial "cry it out" at naptime on Wednesday. Fail fail fail.

It took me twice as long to get her calmed down as it would've otherwise taken me to just put her to sleep.

K: Right. Gage too when he was little like that. :(
D: Going to sleep isn't usually the problem...rock for a few minutes + pacifier and she's asleep (as long as she's tired and ready for nap).

K: I really have no good advice. We struggled with Gage for a really long time. I thought it was us. I really thought we'd screwed him up for life (and I suppose the jury is still out on that...) and we were awful parents. It really made us think twice about wanting more kids.

Max is SO different. He has been from day 1.

I truly think its more about their wiring and internal clocks. The baby sleep experts just have good sleepers to raise. ;)

D: I agree. I'm not even going to pick up a book or google more ideas. I've tried what I think will work and I guess we'll just have to tough it out in the meantime. I'm going to try a few things over the weekend, but I'm not going to ruin my life over it.

We'll get there.

K: We messed with every variable: light, sound, temperature, sleep atmosphere, nighttime routine, you name it. The only thing that worked: turning 4.
If you need a break, Koreen swears she's being honest when she tells me that he has ALWAYS slept perfectly there. He might get up once, but usually just sleeps right on through the night. And later in the morning than he EVER has for me.

Maybe your mom would be interested in trying her for a night, even if just to give you a break and the chance at a good night's sleep. I always felt bad asking her to watch him, but she says even when he was little he's slept so good there.

D: I might have Mom come a night and use a bottle if she has to. I'm not certain it's not the nursing she wants. The most I'll feed her during the night is twice, and it's usually when I can't stand the thought of getting up again. She'll typically sleep 3 hours after I feed her.
K: If I was there, I'd take her. We'd get along just fine :) I think maybe she's just wired with a personality like mine. Lucky YOU!

D: Then we should get along great for the rest of our lives. ;)
K: Well that is interesting. She can't possibly be hungry ALL night long.

Max did eat every 2 hours, but I stopped  that when he was 6 months old. Was I freaking nuts or what? lol

D: Last night I nursed her @ 8:00, fed her cereal at 8:30 (a big bowl), and let her drink a bottle at 8:45 (she drank almost 4 oz.). There's no WAY she's hungry.
K: She eating good at daycare? The boys both cluster fed...I felt like sometimes all I did between pickup and bedtime was feed them. Gage was even worse.  

D: Her 9 month appointment is Monday. I'll talk to Dr. Jeanne about it. She'll ask if I can let her cry it out. When I say no, she'll smile and say she couldn't do it either. Then she'll make sure there's nothing medically wrong, tell me I'm a good mom, and send me home with hopeful thoughts.
K: OMG, this is great birth control. Ask me more questions about raising newborns. lol

D: She usually drinks 4 or 5 oz. bottles there. That's pretty normal for her.
;)Just don't spend the day with her. You'll want 6 of her. You must stay past 10pm. ;)

K: How's this mystery fever?
or warm body I guess?

D: I think it was the thermometer. I bought a different one and she hasn't had a fever at all...although I'm wondering if that one will EVER read a fever. Ha! I know I had a fever with my last cold and it read normal. Oh well. On the ear thermometer Ember's normal temp. reads 99.2, so I just figure it out from there if she has a fever or not. That's my theory anyway. :)
Go Dr. D.!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nine Months

A post from Dana!


Ember Lee turned 9 months old last week.  Crazy?  I know.  And it sure gets a Mama to thinking!

In nine short months you experience the transformation from looking like this…

 to looking at this...

That’s where we’re at.  We have a beautiful, smiley, crawling, standing-up-by-everything little girl.  I’ve done this before, but it’s still just incredibly amazing to me how life changes so quickly.

Perhaps equally as amazing is the transition from a cute toddler to a little boy SO ready for preschool.

+ 9 months =

I can’t wait to see what the next 9 months will bring (think birthdays, walking, preschool, and more!) for my kids and my family.  I’m planning to just hang on and enjoy the ride. J

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Perfectly Different: Sock Fetish

These children are most peculiar. We covered a few examples of how they're different but here's one similarity: sock fetish.

Max's sock fetish is still developing, but it goes something like this: the only acceptable time for socks to not be touching his feet are while he's bathing. Socks to bed are one of my biggest pet peeves, so I've never put socks on my kids to sleep. Now that he's old enough to choose for himself, socks are the first thing he puts on at night. And if you help him get undressed to use the toilet, be careful not to touch his sock because if they move in the slightest or get off kilter on his foot he throws a holy tantrum.

Onto Gage

I'm not sure when his sock obsession started. To be perfectly honest, I hardly ever put socks on him. Until I figured out the kind of socks that actually stay on a baby (as opposed to flying off at the first kick) he just sort of existed without them. I remember little old ladies at church scolding me and telling me he needed socks on all the time. I just smiled. I remember seeing other babies wear socks underneath their footed sleepers, thinking their parents had lost their mind. Somewhere between 24 and 30 months, when his language centers exploded and his free play time increased exponentially, the kid started doing things with socks.

He'd wad them up and stuff them in the most unusual places (under his pillow, behind the doors). He played with them. Taking all the socks out of his drawer, unfolding them, wadding them up and stashing them away became one of his favorite games.

Sometimes he'd put 3 or 4 socks on each foot before he declared himself ready for the day. When I picked him up from daycare in the evening, still wearing 8 socks, the sitter would tell me he did fine with the socks all day. (but probably didn't eat his lunch and most likely went to time out for intentionally somersaulting off the couch.)

Here are a few other sock stories of Gage's, pulled from my Facebook archive:

February 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm
Me: Go sit down and find something quiet to play with.
Gage: Ok, I will go and play with my socks. (hello weirdness)

February 9, 2010 at 8:47 pm
Tonight, his socks will "sleep" in the window. We're not yet certain where Gage will sleep...he's nomadic when the sun goes down.

(Please excuse the "in progress" construction picture)

June 11, 2010 at 7:40 am
Me: What would you like to use to make a project for Grandpa Chuck's birthday?
Gage: Ummmm, I think I'll use my socks.

September 16, 2010 at 5:35 pm
Last week Gage was afraid to touch an earthworm and didn't want to get too close to butterflies. Last night he said "Dammit" and this morning he put a screwdriver in his sock and told me he was "taking a knife to daycare". Time to call a therapist?

As you can see, the sock fetish runs deep in the boys' blood. It makes me giggle and is (hopefully) a harmless obsession.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ten on Tuesday: 4.10.12

If you're interested in participating in Ten on Tuesday, head over to Roots N Rings and follow Chelsea. She posts new questions every week that are usually pretty fun!

(You'll have to excuse Dana for not answering. She's super busy planning a super awesome summer reading program at the library. I'm only away of the pirate portion but that alone is worth it. If you're in the Madison SD area, utilize your city library! Its an absolute gold mine!)

1. Do you prefer fabric or plastic plasters? (or Band-Aids if American)
Fabric – I don’t like the way the plastic ones make my finger all moist and shriveled underneath. However, there aren’t pretty fabrics, so I buy plastics for the kids and that’s almost always what I end up using too.

2. Do you prefer gel pens, biro or fine liners for everyday writing?
I’ll take a fine point, blue ball point please.

3. Do you have a fear or needles/dentists/blood (if all three, which is the worst) and is there a story behind it?
Not really. I don’t particularly care for any of them though. Gage on the other hand has had blood drawn pretty regularly since he was a week old to check his thyroid hormone levels. He sits and watches the draw like its no big deal – and has since he was 2. That freaks me out a little.

4. Do you like jelly? Do you eat it at any time other than when poorly?
I like homemade jelly way more than the stuff in the stores. My Grandma makes a fabulous strawberry rhubarb jelly and divine plum jam. Jack’s Grandma makes a phenomenal grape jam.

5. What are your Easter traditions? (if not Christian, insert your own meaningful festival here and tell us about that instead)
My Grandma (the jelly maker) has dyed Easter eggs every year for as long as anyone can remember. I’ve been there probably 23 years. I also remember her making a pink jello salad every year. Without that salad, it isn’t Easter for me. Other than eggs and food, church as a family and hanging out.

6. What’s your favourite book that you have read so far this year?
The Help and Water for Elephants. I’m about ½ way through The Art of Fielding, but I’m not sold yet.

7. Do you have any magazine subscriptions or recommendations that we should know about?
Not really. I do like National Geographic for the kids.

8. Favourite etsy store (if you know the owner IRL, also include your favourite that you didn’t originally know IRL)?
Studio Mela - she has some great stuff

9. If you had play money (£100/$150) that could only be used on shoes, what shoes would you buy?
As many TOMS as I could. I’ve been coveting a pair for a long time but never taken the plunge. This is my year.

10. If you were going pet shopping tomorrow, what would you choose?
Maybe fish? The kids have loads of animals around between Wrangler, our poor underappreciated ill-trained canine and horses, cats, dogs, chickens and cattle at their grandparents’.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Marshmallow Hunters

Gage was gifted a marshmallow shooter for his birthday, which we let him open early. So on the eve of his 5th Birthday the following scene happened. I'd also like to point out that after I shot this footage, the children went to bed and I spent 2 hours putting crap away, and cleaning thankyouverymuch.

Behold, the marshmallow hunters:

That's right, friends. They were more excited about eating the marshmallows than anything else. A product of their mother.

So next time you find yourself in our neighborhood, pop over with a bag of mini marshmallows. Pants, optional.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ten on Tuesday. Day Job

We're back with some Ten On Tuesday Action. We answered these questions a long time ago, but I'm just not getting around to posting them. I'm the boss, so we follow my rules. :)


1. What do you do for a living?
K: My husband and I run The Current Connection, specializing in computer and electronics sales and service. We also offer office supplies, furniture and children’s toys. We operate Midwest Rodeo Entries, contracting with rodeo associations to take and manage an online-based rodeo entry system. I also continue to pursue professional photography. Plenty of reasons to stay busy.

D: I am a children's librarian.  Sounds magical, doesn't it?  It is, actually.  We have a super stellar group of dedicated library moms (that's what I call them anyway) that make my job a lot of fun and really rewarding.

2. What’s your favorite thing about your job?
K: Our job can look however we want it to, and different every day. I like the flexibility it offers our family even though that flexibility might mean leaving the office to help out at preschool and then working after the kids go to bed at night. When my kiddos are sick I know I'll be able to pull them from school or daycare to take care of them though. And that means the world to me.

D: The kids...and once in a while I enjoy their parents too.  But mostly, I enjoy when they come together.  Cool things can happen at the library, you should go there sometime...with your kids. :o)

3. What’s your least favorite thing about your job?
K: Its difficult to leave the office to get away. We don’t get to travel back to see my parents and family as much as I’d like and we do end up working quite a few more hours than a “traditional” job. It isn’t possible to just shut down the store after we’ve put in our 40 hours for the week.

D: That I can't do it from home.  Wait, maybe I can.  I may have just thought of something!  The Neu Club Library (meaning you have to pay fees...I've got to make money somehow!).  But it would be a rockin' awesome place, trust me!

4. If you weren’t a ____________, what would you be?
K: A librarian. I have serious job envy toward Dana. She gets to work with kids AND books. How cool is that? I really do like where I’m at right now though.

D: If I weren't a children's librarian, I would be a stay at home mom.  I imagine myself being this way cool stay at home mom.  In reality, I'd probably drive my kids (and my husband) a little nuts and still not have the laundry done or dinner on the table.  A girl can dream.

5. What is something that you would love to get paid for that you think no one would ever pay you for?
K: Professional volunteer. I love helping people. If I could just randomly choose to spend my day volunteering different places, helping different people it would be divine. Let me know if you’re willing to pay me for something like that.

Read books.  All day, 8-5.  Just pleasure reading.  No assignments, no editing, just reading for enjoyment.  Our library is full of great books that I'm certain I'll never get a chance to read.  Breaks my heart.

6. If you could have any job for exactly one day, what would it be?
K: Paramedic – I’m certain I couldn’t handle that for more than one day, but I’ve always been curious.

D: I think everybody should be a kindergarten teacher for one day.  I've worked in a kindergarten classroom before, but should probably do it again.  Everybody needs a wake-up call once in a while. :o)

7. If you had to do manual labor, what would you do?

D: Groundskeeper.  Give me a mower (ride-on, please) and I'd be pleased as punch.  Wait, the fact that I requested a ride-on mower probably takes the manual labor part away.

8. What is something you were forced to learn in high school that was supposed to be super important, but you never actually use?
K: I really had a love/hate with social studies all four years. The material was interesting to me, but our teacher’s style did nothing for me. As a result I trained myself to zone out when I start hearing historical material. It’s a shame really – there’s so much cool stuff out there.

D: Algebra.  I don't actually use it now, but I guess I did have to use it to graduate from college.

9. Who was your favorite boss? Why?
K: Besides ourselves, I would have to say my college job. The two owners complimented each other well, and let me see what managing several different styles of businesses could look like. And the person who I ran my scheduling through was fantastic – one of the nicest people I know.

D: I've only ever had one boss, really, and she's not bad.  I guess I did work for Dakota Ethanol and a bunch of our dads were our bosses.  That was pretty awesome.

10. Where would you rather work: Dunder Mifflin Paper Company (The Office), Wernham Hogg Paper Company (The Office, UK), or Initech (Office Space)?
K: Hands down Dunder Mifflin. Michael Scott would have been my BFF. My kids even reference Michael Scott in daily conversation. Support the Rabid.

D: Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.  I think Pam and I could be friends--we'd definitely take our break together.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Water for Elephants: Recap

Believe it or not, we did both read this book during the month of February. What we did not do was post questions about it. March was evidently spectacular enough that neither of us read The Art of Fielding all the way through, though we're still plugging away at it.

Albiet a bit late, here are my (Kim's) answers to questions about Water for Elephants.

1.       How does the novel’s epigraph, the quote from Dr. Suess’s Horton Hatches the Egg, apply to the novel? What are the roles and importance of faithfulness and loyalty in Water for Elephants? In what ways does Gruen contrast the anantagonisms and cruelties of circus life with the equally impressive loyalties and instances of caring?

K: Most of the book is centered around faithfulness and loyalty. Not only in the faithfulness and loyalty of people to each other, but of people to animals and animals to people. It was important to show the historical accuracy of circus life and in doing so, necessary to show that animals weren’t always treated with the care they deserved. However, she contrasted the harsh cruelties with several caretakers in the lives of the animals who truly loves and cared for their creatures.

2.       Who did you, upon reading the prologue, think murdered August? What effect did that opening scene of chaos and murder have on your reception of the story that follows?

K: I thought it was Marlena, but as the book progressed I sort of wondered if it was the elephant. I kept waiting throughout the book for something to happen to justify Marlena’s killing of August. And while he was a wretched man, Gruen didn’t give a lot of evidence that he was mean to Marlena, until nearer the end. By that point, I thought it was evident that Marlena wouldn’t be capable of overpowering him physically.

3.       August says of Marlena, “Not everyone can work with liberty horses. It’s a God-given talent, a sixth sense, if you will”. Both August and Jacob recognize Marlena’s skills, her “sixth sense,” in working with the horses. In what ways does that sixth sense attract each man? How do August and Jacob differ in terms of the importance each places on Marlena’s abilities?

K: I think August saw Marlena’s abilities in terms of profitability for the circus. Performance-based if you will. Jacob recognized her relationship with the animals, and how deeply she cared for their well-being. People who have that strong bond with animals has always fascinated me. I don’t think I’m one of those people, but enjoy being around animal people.

4.       After Jacob puts Silver Star down, August talks with him about the reality of the circus. “The whole thing’s illusion, Jacob,” he says, “and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what the people want from us. It’s what they expect”. How does Gruen contrast the worlds of reality and illusion in the novel? Is there anything wrong with pandering to people’s need for illusion? Why do we crave the illusions that the circus represents?

K: She’s certain to point out enough behind the scenes activity of the circus so as to inform her reader about the reality of the show. She tells how they take crowd people who question the show out back. I can’t say its always right to pander to people’s need for illusion, but in a circus or performance based situation why not? Its part of the fun – it’s a challenge for people to try and figure out how it really works when they realize what is or isn’t truth.

5.       Reflecting on the fact that his platitudes and stories don’t hold his children’s interest, the elderly Jacob notes, “My real stories are all out of date. So what if I can speak firsthand about the Spanish flu, the advent of the automobile, world wars, cold wars, guerrilla wars, and Sputnik – that’s all ancient history now. But what else do I have to offer?” How might we learn to appreciate the stories and life lessons of our elders and encourage people younger than ourselves to appreciate our own?

K: In order for younger people to appreciate our stories, we have to be good story tellers. While I have never whole heartedly enjoyed historical movies or reading, and history was my worst grade in high school, visiting with a real person about their past is completely fascinating for me. It has a lot to do with the personal value. When you sit down to hear a story from someone, they often times focus on the human involvement instead of facts and numbers. The interpersonal connections are what draws me in.

6.       After Jacob successfully coaches August in Polish commands for Rosie, he observes, “It’s only when I catch Rosie actually purring under August’s loving ministrations that my conviction starts to crumble. And what I’m left looking at in its place is a terrible thing”. What is Jacob left “looking at”, and how does it pertain to August’s personality and Jacob’s relationship with August, and what makes it a “terrible thing”?

K: I took it to mean Jacob was left looking at trust; trust from Rosie to August. Jacob seemed to always have some sort reservations when it came to August, but he did also seem to trust him for a while until he was wronged. I think Jacob knew that Rosie’s trusting August would eventually lead to heartbreak for the elephant, which it obviously did.

7.       After the collapse of the Benzini Brothers circus and Uncles Al’s having “done a runner”, Jacob realizes, “Not only am I unemployed and homeless, but I also have a pregnant woman, bereaved dog, elephant and eleven horses to take care of. What expectations did you entertain for Jacob and Marlena’s – and their menagerie’s – future after they leave the Benzini Brothers circus? How do the elderly Jacob’s memories of Marlena and their life together confirm or alter those expectations?

K: I wasn’t really sure what to expect after they left the circus. I sort of assumed they’d just be homeless for a while until Jacob got into work as a vet somewhere. It sounds as though they had a decent life in the circus, and later working at a zoo. I would have like to hear more about Marlena as a mother and a wife, but that was obviously not the focus of this book. J

8.       In the words of one reviewer, Water for Elephants “explores…the pathetic grandeur of the Depression-era circus.” In what ways and to what extent do the words “pathetic grandeur” describe the world that Gruen creates in her novel?

K: Grandeur was show day, what the public saw. Everything else regarding the circus could apparently fall under pathetic.