Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another parenting fail, and how Jo grabbed a light bulb

Last night, after bed time, Jo wandered into Oliver's room and emerged crying and screaming. It was hard to get any information out of either of them. Jo was inconsolable for over an hour and took a long time to fall asleep. She kept rubbing her hand on us and on her fox. One finger had what looked like a pinch mark, so we thought maybe Oliver had bit her, even though he said he didn't. After repeated questioning, he finally said he'd "kicked her because she was screaming." When I asked him where he'd kicked her, he said he didn't know, but then he said her head. I asked him if he kicked her hand, and he said yes. He lost his new bike (an early birthday gift from Grandma Colleen) for a while. I wasn't sure if her head was hurt or not. I wasn't sure if her hand rubbing was a sign of a head injury or hand injury. We gave Jo some baby Motrin and a band-aid (she loves band-aids) to try to help her feel better. We called my mother-in-law, a PA, to ask about head injuries. None of Jo's symptoms seemed to fit (she was speaking and moving all of her limbs). So, I just held her for a long time until she calmed down and finally fell asleep. She seemed so upset about whatever happened that I decided to sleep in her room last night. To put that in perspective, I've never slept in her room before! She was really, really upset.

Today, she's back to her normal, happy self. We examined her hand after she got up for the day. There were three blisters on her ring finger. Andrew wondered if she somehow burned herself, and it clicked: Oliver's room has a wall sconce with an exposed bulb. It's the only light in his room (no ceiling light), so it's on frequently in the evenings. Of course, it gets hot, but we taught Oliver not to touch it. I made a mental note to get a cover for it but never did. I could kick myself for not having gotten a cover for it yet. Jo must have wandered into his room and grabbed the bulb. I feel like I failed both of our kids. I had punished Oliver for his sister's injury, and I hadn't treated Jo's hand properly (a band-aid? Ouch!). Her hand doesn't look too bad, and she doesn't seem to be in any more pain. Good grief. I feel so awful. Seriously, she was in so much pain last night, and now it all makes sense. I wish I'd realized what happened last night so I could have cooled her hand off and properly treated her.

Happy girl again today:


A poor photo of her injured finger (it's hard to take a picture of a two-year-old's hand):


Learn from my mistake. Replace light bulbs in reach of little kiddos with LED bulbs and get a good protective cover that doesn't transfer a lot of heat. My poor baby girl, and my poor little guy. I hate that I blamed him. Ack! It's going to take a while to forgive myself.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Raccoon River Park

Raccoon River park & beach in West Des Moines is about a 10 minute drive from our house, and I've gone with the kids a few times now. The playground is pretty big, which isn't a good thing when there's a beach in running distance. I have to make sure I always know where the kids are. When Andrew comes with us, the trip is definitely worth it. The kids love all of the equipment, and they really, really love the beach!


And then, like the responsible parents we are, we had the kids run through the splash pad to get sprayed with chlorinated water to clean them up for the beach :)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Growing Up, Life Changes, and Starting School

I think everyone in our family is entering into a new stage of life. It's not even September, but 2014 has been such a big time of change. Obviously, we moved hundreds of miles away to a new city and state. We got a new house in an urban area. Andrew obviously got a new job with new responsibilities. Everything is so different, and there are more changes to come!

I'll start with the youngest family member: Jo. Joanna has been out of diapers for about two months now, thankfully! She continues to get more and more independent and will even go upstairs and play in her room with her toys by herself. She enjoys playing with Oliver, too, and enjoys spending time with the family, but her independence is remarkable. As the youngest, her growing up sometimes hits me hard.

Oliver has big, big change this year. He's starting preschool! Preschool is fully paid by the city here, so he will go to the four day a week program at no cost to us. He has a friend down the block who is going to class with him. Unlike Jo, Oliver wasn't a very independent toddler at all, so I wasn't sure how he'd do with going to school. I think it would have been a disaster if we took him last year, but he's really been maturing lately. We took him to preschool open house, and he happily wandered off from us to explore his class and play with his soon-to-be classmates. I feel so absolutely proud of him and how hard he works do figure things out and do things by himself. I read him a little list of things he'll be expected to do every day when he gets to class (like wash his hands), and he went straight to the sink in his class to practice and make sure he could do it all by himself.

Knowing Oliver is going to preschool has really affected me more than I'd thought. I'm sometimes dealing with feelings of extreme anxiety and sometimes sadness (and sometimes pride and excitement, too). I've been a stay-at-home mom for almost five years now, and my kids' entire lives have pretty much been with me. We spend our days together, garden together, snuggle together, sit together for meals. And now he's going off to preschool four days a week! I'm dealing some some practical potential problems in my mind, like will he do a good job listening to his teachers? Will he do a good job asking them for help if he can't do something, or will he just get mad? Will he do a good job taking turns with other kids and working with them? I completely, 100% want him to succeed and love school, but there's also this little voice in the back of my head wondering if he's going to miss me. I know I'll still be there! We will have our afternoons together and weekends together and everything else. There's no doubting, though, that this is a bit of a milestone, and he's going to start to have his own life separate from mine. That's a very good thing, of course, but it still makes me feel so sad.

I guess I've started to see this change as a big change for me, too. As I said, I've been home with the kids for five years. That's five years of no work experience! In just two short years, it'll be Jo going off to preschool. What am I going to do? The plan has always been for me to go back to work. It's definitely what I want to do, but I didn't expect the prospect of going back to work to be so terrifying. So, I've decided to try out a couple of classes to see about pursuing a master's degree. I think going back to school will help me get a job again once Jo starts full time school. It seems like such a good plan, but now that it's time to start classes, I'm starting to panic! I find myself worrying about so many stupid things, like do all students bring laptops to class now? Will I be the weird one with a notepad and pen? I'm also thinking about how crazy it's going to be that I'm going to have to somewhere to be at a specific time, and I'm going to have to drive there even if there's a total downpour or snow on the ground. I mean, I have had the luxury of choosing not to drive on days that are too hot or wet or snowy.

It took me a long time to adjust to life as a stay-at-home mom. It's not easy being home so much and not having people to talk to during the day. But now, that is my normal. Now that I'm used to always being at home with the kids and always deciding what to do on what day and not having to talk very much, the idea of spending more time out of the house is a bit scary. I think it's going to take me a long time to adjust back into a life outside of the home.

From 2009 to 2014, my life was about my babies. I was pregnant or breastfeeding for nearly four years. I was home caring for babies and toddlers and wiping butts and potty training, too. I was a mom of babies. This year is marking a distinct change in our roles in life. It's going to be weird doing things for myself and working on my future now, and it's going to be weird taking Oliver to school and saying goodbye for *hours* during the day. I know his growing independence is a good thing, and I definitely wouldn't want to keep him from growing as a person, but the upcoming changes are going to be hard. My plan is to do my best and put one foot in front of the other until these changes become our new normal.

As for everyone else, if your babies aren't in school yet, enjoy this time as much as you can (poop and all) because it really is over before you know it. If your kids have already been to school, I hope it's a fun and easy back-to-school year. For moms in my shoes with little ones going off to school for the first time--good luck, and I hope school is a wonderful experience!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Oliver's Drawings

Oliver wasn't very interested in coloring until very recently. Suddenly, he's happy to sit and draw and color. It amazes me that I can actually tell what he drew sometimes!

Here, he drew a crane with a magnet at the end.:


This next picture looks like a yellow submarine. I wish! I think it's really a helicopter.

This next drawing is of a firetruck, and it's being driven by Miss Rabbit from Peppa Pig.

Speaking of Peppa Pig, here are Oliver's drawings of some of the pig characters from Peppa Pig. I think these might be Peppa and George, but I'm not sure.

I think this is another Peppa Pig character:

This is a car or bus or something. I can't remember.

This is one of my favorites. He told me today, "I drew me and Jo!"

And this is a happy dinosaur:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sale on Girl's Jacket!

I just love good deals. I get a lot of our kids' clothes at consignment shops and even church sales, but I can't pass up a hot deal on new clothes! Whenever a clothes company sends me a good deal via email, I scout it out and see what I can get on the cheap.

Anyway, The Children's Place currently has their "school uniform" collection on sale 25% off + free shipping. You can get another 20% off if you use the code TWENTY2. You can get some decent shirts for $5-$6 after the discount, but the big deal I spotted was a new girl's coat (sizes 2T - 5T) for under $14--including free shipping--after the discount. It's the "Uniform Bow Twill Jacket," and it comes in a navy and a khaki color. It counts as their school uniform collection for free shipping! Jackets are always so expensive, so I jumped on this deal and have a new fall coat on the way for Jo. If you throw in another item to get your total to $20, you will also get a $10 off $20 coupon emailed to you once your order ships to use later in September. It's only their uniform collection that has the free shipping, though, so stick to those items if you don't want to pay shipping!

Here are the details on the $10 off $20 coupon.

And here's a link to the jacket I found (don't forget to use code TWENTY2 to get the extra discount).

Monday, August 4, 2014

Road Trip to Indiana!

We're home from our road trip to Indiana. Oliver has been asking to go to the beach, and I knew of a great one that we always went to as kids: The Indiana Dunes! It's just supposed to be a 5 and a half hour drive, but it took a lot longer with the little kids and stopping so much. We had a great time, though! We stayed at a bed & breakfast in Chesterton, Indiana called Riley's Railhouse, which had all things train! The kids loved it. And, of course, they loved the beach. 

I blogged about our trip on my travel blog here. I highly recommend this road trip if you still have little ones and are in road trip distance to the Indiana Dunes. 

Some picture highlights of the trip:


I was looking at  past trips, and our kids have made it to a lot of states so far in their little lives.

So far, Oliver has traveled in 10 states and 2 territories:

*Colorado
*Texas
*Nebraska
*Massachusetts
*Illinois
*US Virgin Island - St Thomas
*US Virgin Island - Saint John
*Iowa
*Utah
*Florida
*Wyoming
*Indiana

So far, Joanna has traveled in 9 states:

*Colorado
*Illinois
*Texas
*Nebraska
*Iowa
*Florida
*Wyoming
*Utah
*Indiana

Monday, July 28, 2014

And Then I Stole a Tree--Scratch That, a Weed!

OK, it was a seedling. I'm still kind of sorry (but kind of not). To the city of Des Moines, I'm sorry! Sort of. 

We decided to take the kids to the park. As usual, Oliver got distracted picking up acorn caps and "planting" them. Andrew dubbed him "Johnny Acorn" (like "Johnny Appleseed," get it? Ha). 

Oliver does this kind of thing all the time. At home, he planted an acorn cap and watered it every single day. I didn't have the heart to tell him an acorn cap can't grow, so I ordered a little sapling from Ebay. It was like $3 but shipping was like $9. It took over a week to arrive and was delivered in sorry shape. All the leaves but four fell off in the mail. I soaked the roots in a bowl of water for a bit to try to keep it alive, and then I planted it. After that, I told Oliver to come outside to see his tree that grew! He helped mulch it and water it. He has been so excited and has watered it every day. It lost two more leaves right away, and the last two leaves fell off yesterday. Unless I see some new buds soon, I think we can write it off as dead :(

Anyway, back to the park! We spent part of the afternoon playing at Witmer Park yesterday. It was a gorgeous day, 75 degrees in the afternoon and a bit breezy. 



Oliver played a bit and then got busy in nature. He found bark from what I think is a London plane tree. The trees at this park are beautiful! Here he is sharing some bark with Andrew:


...and then he started planting more acorn pieces, telling me where different trees were going to grow. He just planted and planted and planted!


A whole acorn! He saved that one "for Eli" (his neighbor friend):

 When he was planting, I got a closer look at some of the weeds growing at the edge of the playground. They sure look like little oak seedlings, don't they?


With all of those oak trees around, what else could they be?

So, I pulled one out of the sand.

I brought it home, and I planted it. Who needs a $12 dead oak seedling from Ebay when you can pull one out of the sand at the park? Jackpot! 

...and that's the story of our new oak tree. On the one hand, it was growing in the sand in a playground and wasn't going to survive or mature. On the other hand, I feel a little guilty because I know it wasn't ours for the taking. Still, it looks pretty nice in the yard, doesn't it?

Here's the one we got in the mail. Not looking so good...

And here is one of our volunteer maple seedlings! Most of the weeds at our house have been maple seedlings. I just keep pulling them out by the dozens, but I decided to let this one stay. I'm hoping either it or the oak seedling I just planted will survive the winter, but we'll see!


Edit: ...and I've just been informed that it's a weed. Darn, I was so excited, too. I guess I should get outside and pull it.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Eating Our Garden

Earlier this week, a storm creamed our garden. The cherry tomato cage fell over onto one of the raised beds, wiping out some cucumbers and collard greens. I had to tear off many damaged green onions and replant some onion bulbs. I also just picked & kept some of the damaged onions.



Things are starting to ripen in the back yard! It's so fun going to the back yard to pick veggies for lunch. My quinoa burger is topped with lettuce, onion, and tomato from the garden. The sweet peas are from our garden, too. Colorful & delicious! I'm feeling a little proud,

My brother and sister-in-law gave me some kale from their garden. It's so colorful!

I made kale chips with some of it.

Here's half of our raspberry bounty from today. The black raspberries are starting to finish up, but the red raspberries are just getting started!

We made some raspberry ice cream by blending vanilla ice cream with our raspberries.

Another surprise from today: a golden raspberry! It's the first ripe berry from that plant.

I love having a garden! It was a lot of work setting up, but now we're having a blast starting to harvest it.