Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Maddie asked if she could stay up late until "the clock strikes NINE so we can party all night long." Thanks to her teachers who must have told her that 9:00 is when you scream and yell, "Happy New Year!" I suppose they could have been evil and told them it was really midnight.
Cheers to a great 2009! See you next year.
Monday, December 29, 2008
After putting some cookies out for Santa on Christmas Eve, Madison woke up about 6:00 ready for Christmas to begin. We managed to convince her to watch a little TV in bed with us while we tried to catch a few more Zzzz's. At 7:30, Papa and Susan had called us on the phone letting us know that they had been outside (even though my dad has a key!) waiting in their car for us to get up for over an hour. Maddie ran downstairs while I tried to find the camera and while Zak woke Brooke. Maddie was excited to find some unwrapped gifts:
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
We tried to wear them out by playing outside at the park
and then we tried to take them for a long long walk.
After one last chance only a smile for Santa will do... with a hope and prayer he will come see you too.
Let's hope they go to sleep, but sleep? Sleep is only for the weak.
Monday, December 22, 2008
She tends to use just one or two colors per paper. Had she known this was going to be displayed in the Internet, she would have insisted it be perfect. There are several spots where she colors outside of the lines, and don't worry, I will punish her later for this transgression. It is also very appropriate that it is from Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The original version that is on TV is her favorite. The Jim Carrey feature film version scares her and gives her "bad dreams."
Because we get so much art sent home, I will begin to post it more regularly. I also will got back and postdate some artwork (my favorites I've saved from this year), but will link them in a current post so you don't miss anything. God forbid you missed ANY of my posts...especially the art from my little Picasso's!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Happy Birthday! Today you are four years old. You've been waiting for this birthday for a very long time. Now that your concept of time is relatively established, it cannot pass fast enough for Friday, a Holiday, your birthday or most importantly, Christmas!
Just like your mama, we follow the Birthday Rules, which means we've been celebrating for two weeks now. Our celebrations started with your Fourth Birthday Party. You had a grand ole time with all your friends, family, and teachers. Yes, teachers. Three of your pre-school teachers came to your party this year.
Everyone in your pre-school class loves you, and this even includes your teachers. I can see how this may be a problem as you get older because you take advantage of this fact to get your way. Hey, I can't say I blame you, ya gotta use what your mama gave ya! You have a charming personality and everyone wants to be your friend. I worry that sometimes YOU don't want to be everyone's friend, and may turn into one of "those girls" at school who rules the social circles. In order to stop this from happening, you get daily lectures on what it means to be a good friend. Congratulations, you're lucky because I'm good at lecturing!
You are the smallest little thing at just 33 pounds, and your waist is barely able to keep your size 3T pants up. Unfortunately, they're three inches to short because your legs are so long. Skirts and dresses are still a favorite in your wardrobe, and you still refuse to wear anything with a button (including coats with buttons).
Shoes are also a problem. For the past six months, you've lived in your black Crocs. You wore them nearly everyday despite having many other options until someone at school told you they were "boy shoes." That was the end of your Crocs obsession. If it's not pink or girly, it must be for boys. A few days later, I went on a shoe shopping spree without you. (Had I taken you with me, we would have 10 pairs of princess shoes). The problem occurred when we got home and you did not like what I bought or the shoes were too big. The next week, I took you with me to the store. You insisted on pink ballet slippers and pink glittery Cinderella shoes (picture Dorthy's ruby red slippers, but in pink). Once you wore the pink shoes out of the store and once we got home you decided you didn't like them anymore and have refused to wear them again. Then, my head exploded.
You are the queen negotiator and will try to
So when you're negotiating and you don't get your way, a meltdown will occasionally occur. Sometimes it's strait out defiance. The key to a Happy Maddie is positive reinforcement for desirable behavior (e.g. Great job picking up your toys! Thanks for being a great helper.) If you are ever given negative reinforcement (e.g. Pick up your toys right now or you will not get to play at your friends house) all hell breaks loose as you argue, yell, whine and negotiate your way out of a potential punishment.
Soon after I discovered this method, we immediately put up a 'points chart' to reflect all the GREAT things you did during the day. You earn points for cleaning up the living room, following directions, taking a whine free bath, being nice to us and Brooke, having a good learning day at school, and using your 'big girl' voice. It's all about catching you doing something RIGHT instead of getting on you when you do something undesirable. When you're caught doing something RIGHT you earn a point. Everyday as points accumulate, you get to cash them in for a 'prize' from the 'prize bag' (this is just dollar store junk, but you love it). At the end of the week all the points add up to a special treat (like going to see a movie, having a friend come over, getting some new ballet shoes).
This new method of parenting you caused a drastic change in our quality of life together (and my sanity). Sure, we sill have problem times that we are working on, but we're all much happier. Even Brooke is into the spirit and earns her own points for good little sister behavior.
I just need to figure out a way to award you points for sleeping in to 9 a.m on the weekends. You are in our room every morning at about 6:00 chipper and ready to begin the day. You usually take short nap (30-60 minutes) and go to bed about 8:30 every night.
I used to brag that you would be in bed by 7:30 every night, and I would love see you get back on that schedule. Mainly so I could have some alone time with your dad so we could talk. You don't let us talk because you are CONSTANTLY talking. You're like a never ending motor mouth. Sometimes I ask you to stop talking just so I can think for ten seconds. Not only do you talk a lot, but you talk VERY LOUD so the entire restaurant hears you when we go out to eat. I'm sure they're really happy about hearing your poop stories. I've been told that this is entirely age appropriate but OH MY GOD PLEASE let this phase end soon.
The one thing you don't talk very much about is what you did in school on any given day. I only know from what your teachers tell me, the work that you bring home, and the snippets I can get out of you. I do know that you have mastered all your phonics for every letter and have begun to blend letters using phonics. You are essentially on the verge of reading. Apparently this is a little advanced for your age because your teachers seem to think this is a big deal.
You also get compliments from teachers on how well you color. When I first heard a teacher say, "Maddie colors very well" I asked her to repeat herself. I didn't know a measurement of pre-school success was coloring, and I didn't know that this was a unique skill. You're always in the lines. Sticking to just a color or two. Very detailed work. This is not at all in my DNA that I passed on, so your dad's obsessive compulsive gene must have made it through. I still don't see much of a purpose doing anything neat, orderly, or within the lines.
The relationship you have with Brooke is blossoming into a true sister relationship. In other words, you love each other and can't stand each other in the same sentence. One minute you two are yelling, and the other you are laughing hysterically together. It's charming to see this develop. I try to stay back as much as possible to let you work it out, and only insist that sisters are NOT ALLOWED hurt each other (feelings or physically) on purpose. Ever. Even in retaliation.
Whenever I take Brooke on some errand without you, she asks, "Dee Dee?" and points to your chair every thirty seconds. Even when you're at school, teachers report that you run to each other on the playground to exchange hugs and kisses. One time, when you were not permitted to go hug her on the "baby playground," both of you had screaming crying fits. The teachers haven't denied you of this privilege since then.
You do a great job of making her laugh when she's cranky, singing to her when she is crying, and translating for her when we can't understand what she wants. Like I always say, "sisters are forever and ever" so you better take care of each other forever.
Maddie, here are some pictures of your third year:
Loving on your baby sister in the bath in January 2008
At the beach in May 2008
Riding on your pet deer (as your pet Bear looks on) in September 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
In October you need to schedule a photo session, buy Christmas clothes or figure out what you can wear from what's in the closest, and get haircuts. In early November, you get your photos taken and hope that no one is cranky, sick, or uncooperative. If you have a baby, you pay extra attention to their razor sharp fingernails because they will likely scratch their little faces a day before the photo shoot.
So, let's say that you have not done any of this by Thanksgiving....you're too late. Now, you will need to go through your photos from the year, and piece together a card using some online photo card website (like I did this year). After you place your photo card order, make sure you have all your addresses ready to go (labels if you're extra awesome). Oh, and stamps, that's always an unforeseen purchase. I think I spent $100 on stamps this year!
Once your photos arrive in the mail, you'll need to assemble and stamp them all. Preferably without two little ones demanding to "help" or insisting your attention be 100% on them. Maddie got excited and yelled that she found some "new Christmas stickers to play with." I stopped dead in my tracks realizing that there were no new Christmas stickers. I ran down the hallway and found her playing with her "Christmas Stickers" that I call STAMPS!
Maybe it's just me, but no matter how much planning I do, I cannot complete this process in less than 3 weeks. I did all the Christmas card planning again this year. Zak says he just doesn't think about cards and would never send any. Ever. Zak did help with the labels after I nearly threw the printer out the window in frustration. Last week I threatened that I wasn't going to send cards in 2009, Bah Humbug!
I am always particularly impressed when people do something extra than a photo....like a Christmas letter, creative rhyming poem, or the year in review to the tune of "Twelve Days of Christmas." Because that takes forever!
So this all leads me to the point of my post....My favorite Christmas card for the year. (I know it's only December 15, but I cried when I read this letter, so it's the winner).
This year's favorite card is from our friends from Chicago, Jack and Michelle (and their kids, Lily and Jack who are close in age to Maddie and Brooke). Their letter begins with how busy, demanding and crazy life is and how they just want peace, quiet, and order. Then they are reminded that in all the chaos, there are hidden blessings:
"Trying to wake the kids in a good mood, and get them dressed and out the door every morning on time....means we're blessed to have jobs to get to in the morning."
"Not being able to sneak out of the house to to go the store alone anymore means....I am blessed to be able to go shopping with my best girl."
"Being woken up at the crack of dawn means...We are blessed to have a darn good reason to start the day."
[this is where I started to cry as I saw my family in the same light]
"Having little to no time to check things off the ever-growing list of things to do means....we are blessed to have such a great circle of family and friends to enjoy fun times with."
"Falling asleep on the couch before our favorite sitcom of the day is even over means....I am blessed to never know boredom. "
"Refereeing the 'sibling wars" of sharing means...we are blessed to have a family."
"Having a messy house and no time to clean it means....we are blessed to have more important things to do.
Well, it was obviously so touching to me because it hit home. Hard. It's so easy for me to get frustrated with my endless to do list, my messy house, and endless demands for my undivided attention. Jack and Michelle reminded me, just when I needed it the most, that these are things to be THANKFUL for and will pass way to quickly. It won't be long before my Girls will be too busy with their own lives to pay any attention to me!
Thank you, Jack and Michelle. I miss you guys SO MUCH.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I rented out this place called Dynamoze for 20 of Maddie's friends. Many of Maddie's friends have siblings that are close to Brooke's age, so Brooke had lots of fun with her friends too!
We had been to Dynamoze once before for a party, and I decided it was the perfect place for kids aged 6 months-7 years because there is something for everyone...including the adults like this monster tricycle course (featuring Aunt Terra and her boyfriend, Pio):
I was worried that Maddie would be intimidated by all the attention, but she did a great job of greeting and playing with all her guests.
Ever since her 1st b-day I've insisted on making her cake. This year, however, I did not:
I suppose I didn't need to confess that I didn't make it. I assume you would have figured that one out. She saw this at our local grocery store, and LOVED it. I ordered it with vanilla cake and white frosting, so I decided to make some chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting for the chocolate lovers in attendance. I'm so glad I did because had I not, we would have not had enough cake!
She got a ridiculous amount of gifts, and people spent entirely too much money on them. Since Maddie wanted a "princess party" we got a zillion Disney Princess and Princess Barbie type gifts. I was shocked to see how generous people are, and I realized that I must look like a total cheapskate when I buy birthday gifts for kids. People easily spent about $40 per gift! Am I cheep or is that crazy? After she opened them, we hid most gifts to pull out for a rainy day. Thank goodness that she still forgets quickly.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Anyway, Neil rocks, and I highly encourage you to take a free listen to these songs to inspire your holiday cheer.
Neil Diamond made my all time fav Christmas Album. Here are some highlights of the most rockin' songs.
Santa Claus is Comin to Town
Jingle Bell Rock
And his Little Dummer Boy version just makes me laugh
Zak and I try to out perform each other with our Neil Diamond style impersonations. Zak always wins. It's his favorite party trick, so be sure you ask him for a demonstration the next time you see him.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
She loved Terra's winter hat, and insisted on trying it on. It looked adorable on her, but was too big and covered her eyes.
And also? If this picture doesn't scream TEXAS! I don't know what does. Maddie's sitting on a fake deer (not a Holiday decoration, but year round concrete "deer yard art" left by the previous owners that we are too weak to move) like it's a horse and fake FISHING with flip flops on in a light jacket.
**Okay, Chicago friends, it was only about 45 degrees and windy. But...look at us! In fleece, PJ pants, Crocs and flipflops! We had no hats, gloves, or regular shoes. Don't hate the playa...hate Chicago weather (and come down for a visit!).
Monday, December 01, 2008
I'm doing lots of Christmas shopping here. First of all, it's not the kind of homemade crap that I would make and call a craft. These are actual talented people. Second, I feel good that I'm supporting local artists. Third, it's totally one of a kind unique gift.
So far, I've purchased:
1. A custom Christmas card design--completed by a graphic artist for $15. I printed 50 of the cards at Shutterfly for free. FREE! I just need to mail them off to you for your enjoyment. The stamps will cost more than the design and cards!
2. Ten handmade hair clips for the girls-- $6.50 and free shipping.
3. A very special Christmas present for Zak that I will write about later. It is custom made from and idea in my head. An artist interpreted my design and will create a special something for him.
4. Leg warmers for the girls--$12 for two pairs...free shipping! I know, you're thinking....Leg Warmers? Huh? Trust me...they are cute!
I'm looking for:
1. clothes (skirts/dresses) for the girls (no buttons!)
2. Texas Tech junk (for obvious reasons)
3. Hand blown glass art (cause I like it)
5. vintage clothing
6. baby gifts (for some expecting/new moms I know)
7. homemade soap and lip balm
9. a new banner design for this boring looking blog
It's kinda turning into an addiction. You should go take a look!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Tweet! Tweet! November 2008:
At 22 months, Brooke already demands that I fast forward through any commercials on TV. 7:13 PM Nov 30th from txt
Built a camp fire with Maddie, Zak, Terra. Maddie ate 4 marshmallows and has a serious case of the sillies. 9:52 PM Nov 29th from txt
Savoring the moments: at a X-Mas tree farm with the family. Soaking in the baby-ness of both of them while it lasts. 3:04 PM Nov 29th from txt
Maddie: "Mom, once this purple marker runs out of energy, then I'll use this blue one instead." 8:28 AM Nov 28th from txt
I am soo stuffed. My non-traditional dessert of brownies with ice cream (instead of pie) was a hit! yum! 9:41 PM Nov 27th from web
Honey baked ham for dinner! For the next five nights! 3:25 PM Nov 25th from txt
Just found out my monthly health care costs for my family are going from $268/month to $656/month. A MONTH. $388 increase. A MONTH. 9:23 PM Nov 24th from web
Maddie and Brooke found the hiding place that contains all their Christmas gifts! That was tough to explain. 3:36 PM Nov 21st from txt
Yesterday, Zak fished out Brooke's poop from the tub. Today, she puked on him. All while I'm on my way home from work. Poor kid (and dad). 9:19 PM Nov 19th from web
In doctor's office waiting room hell with both sick girls. 45 minutes and no doctor! 9:47 AM Nov 19th from txt
Brooke pooped in the tub with Maddie in there! Zak was alone on bathtub duty and I was on my way home. Usually these things happen to me! Ha 10:01 PM Nov 18th from txt
Maddie, I'm looking forward to you being four, because your sassy third year...? Is kicking my ass. 11:34 AM Nov 17th from web
Just ordered invites for Maddie's b-day party! You may get one if you're brave enough to spend 2 hours with a a bunch of 3-4 year olds! 10:07 AM Nov 14th from web
Bought Maddie some rain boots. She excitedly tried them on, but screamed for me to TAKE THEM OFF! Still rockin' the flip flops in November! 8:54 AM Nov 14th from txt
It was like pulling teeth to get the Girls to leave school today. You'd think they'd be excited to see me. They love their daycare! 6:22 PM Nov 13th from txt
Brooke points and screams, "Oh NO!" when the TV isn't on. Do you think that's a sign we watch too much TV? 8:36 AM Nov 13th from txt
From the bathroom,Maddie says: I got some poop on my hands, but it's okay, I just wiped it off.She then argues she doesn need to wash hands. 11:50 AM Nov 11th from web
Driving thru "boys town" in Dallas, my cab driver made the most hateful anti-gay statement I've ever heard.What if I was gay?No tip for him. 7:26 PM Nov 9th from txt
I wondered out loud why the flags were at half staff, and a stranger quipped, "because Obama just got elected." Blah. I shot a dirty look. 10:52 AM Nov 7th from txt
In St. Louis and it's COLD. My Texas year round open toe sandals and skirts aren't cutting it back in the good ole Midwest. Brrrr! 10:43 AM Nov 7th from txt
YES WE DID! America, I am so proud of you! Smooches!!! 10:05 PM Nov 4th from txt
Even my 86 year old Grandma J is hip to the message of CHANGE and HOPE as she cast her ballot for Obama in California! 5:30 PM Nov 4th from txt
In line at Starbucks waiting for my "FREE (because you voted) coffee!" Yum, thanks Starbucks...just one more reason to love you. 2:13 PM Nov 4th from txt
I sat with Maddie and watched Barack Obama vote for himself live on TV. This is historic, and I shed a few happy tears. 1:19 PM Nov 4th from txt
I sat with Maddie and watched Obama cast his ballot for himself on TV. She asked me why I was crying. "Happy tears," I said. 9:24 AM Nov 4th from web
Happy Birthday, Aunt Terra! May it be the most historical day of our lifetime! Vote!! 8:48 AM Nov 4th from txt
In the waiting area in a Dr. office, I remind Maddie of the BIG day and ask who she's voting for. "Barack Obama" Without skipping a beat. 4:39 PM Nov 3rd from web
Daylight savings did a number on the girls! Late naps, far too late bedtimes, and early mornings. 8:42 AM Nov 3rd from txt
In Houston with Zak for David and Francie's baby shower. The Girls are home with their Grandma. Thanks Wendy!! 1:28 AM Nov 2nd from txt
Go Tech!!!! I thought that Zak was gonna have a heart attack. Whew! 10:56 PM Nov 1st from txt
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Afterwards, we headed home for a looong nap. Then, Maddie and I baked some brownies, which resulted in the cutest picture in the universe.
We had the dinner I discussed in the previous post, except the green bean casserole was more awesome this year when Zak added chopped BACON! FLAKED RED PEPPER! and Gruyère CHEESE! to the regular recipe. This dish, my dear relatives, is one you should really be sad that you missed. During dinner, we discussed what we were thankful for:
We went for our regular-our-bellies-are-stuffed-we-must-move walk, and ran into our awesome neighbors who invited us in for some wine and offered great tire-the-kids-out play time. So...we didn't walk, but instead consumed too much wine and had a lovely evening.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
1. no one loves us
2. everyone is scared of a 22 month and nearly four year old
3. people are too busy
4. no one wants to travel
5. everyone just sucks
BECAUSE...we've been ditched by all family members for this Thanksgiving! NO ONE is coming to visit and eat my overplayed Green Bean Casserole, store bought Brown and Serve Rolls, and Stovetop stuffing. I did buy a delicious Honey Baked Ham too (.....any takers? hello? Bueller?)
For dessert this year, I skipped on the pies (since the girls won't eat it, and Zak and I just really don't need to consume a whole pie in two days) and we're having fresh baked BROWNIES with ICE CREAM and CHOCOLATE SYRUP for dessert.
Did I change your mind? No?
Well....fine, then. I'll just document this in history so Maddie and Brooke know that their family, who almost ALL live in Texas, ditched us!
Okay, Aunt Terra did say she was going to come on Saturday....but, humfpf to the rest of you!
And also? Happy Thanksgiving to all!
I'm grateful for my little family gathering with less cooking and fewer dishes to wash! Yea!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
And, oh yea, turns out the paint I used WASN'T washable! I'm really not cut out for this type of work. Parenting, that is.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Pops lives in sunny southern California with his wife, Pat. He likes to putter around the house, garden, travel, surf the Internet, and enjoy time with his family and Pat. I hope you have a great day. Love you!
Remember to thank your favorite veteran (and any other military personnel you see) today!
Saturday, November 08, 2008
I'm on the front page today....take a look! It is titled "Amanda (San Antonio, Texas)."
Mine is by far the least original style compared to some of the cool ideas that people used to show their support for Barack Obama.
FYI...this is my last Obama post. Promise. (Until 2012).
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Yesterday Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. Both your dad and I voted for him, and we watched as history was made last night when he was declared the winner.
When we lived in Illinois, and when Maddie was just a baby, I voted for Barack Obama to be a Senator for that state. I've supported him because of what he stands for, what he believes in, and his plans for our country. When I found out he was going to run for President, I was reluctant, "it's too soon," I said. As he pushed forward and gained more and more momentum, I was torn between supporting him or Senator Hillary Clinton. I picked Obama because I valued his platform and believed he could be elected. I felt his administration could make a difference in our day to day lives, and more importantly in the lives of our fellow Americans.
You see, girls, it's just not about us. I always say, "It's not about you all the time" when you're complaining about something, and it goes for Presidential Elections too. Sure, our family's taxes might go up, but that's okay because it's not about us as individuals. It's about our community, our country, and our world. If another family in our country has life a little bit better because of the economic or social changes that the next President will usher in, we all win.
Maddie was able to learn and talk about this election, as she said she "voted for A Rock Obama" for President. We bumped fists and gave a each other our Peace Out sign right after I voted. She watches him on TV and yells, "Hey mom! A Rock Obama is on TV!" and is disappointed when a commercial appears.
Because this blog serves as your baby book (in addition to my other rants), I felt it appropriate to share my thoughts of this historic election this with you both. In the next several to a hundred years, history will look back on this historic election and decide whether or not Barack Obama lived up to his hype, but I have hope that he will.
Another thing that this election should teach you is that your life as an American has limitless possibilities. It doesn't matter what you name is, if you are a man or woman, or the color of your skin. YOU have a chance to become whoever you want to be in this country as long as you make good decisions and work hard.
I love you both very much, and I promise to be there for you both as you each make your way through this amazing world.