Shovel, shovel, shovel

Now that I'm completely ready for spring, we're living in a winter wonderland. We had freeze-your-face-off cold for weeks. Then it got warmer, even to 40 degrees. I was thrilled -- bring on spring!! And now we finally got our snow. The whole winter's worth in one weekend. We shoveled 4 or 5 times, just to keep up. Yesterday we bundled the girls up to go play in the snow while we dug out the driveway. Ella had a great time, and Natalie was iffy on it.

I have purchased new sandals, hoping to bring spring in more quickly.

In other news, I vaguely remember a time when Natalie slept. I may take her in for an ear infection check, just to make sure I'm not getting falsely frustrated. My hunch is that she's just trying to snow Daddy. Four or five times she was up last night. If I go in she pitches a fit and wants Daddy. Daddy has to go in and rock her until she falls asleep again. I'd just feel bad if she had an ear infection. But tell me, does that not just sound like a spoiled child?? Like a habit to be broken??

We'll be going to Brennan's work conference later this week. I always feel bad for the month ahead that I'm excited to go, but I'll miss the girls. Like I'll be away from them for too long. Then it seems about the week beforehand, everything shifts, and I feel like we could use a break from each other. Perhaps they sense it, and that's why they get the extra edge of crazy. God bless Grandma & Papa.


Like any other business

I have decided to take a more proactive approach with the stay-at-home portion of my life. This morning I really worked on having some activities ready to go for the girls, and what a difference it made! I'm discovering that 5 minutes here and there can actually make an impact in housework. Five minutes of dishwashing is progress. Five minutes of picking up clutter and finding homes for things adds up. It takes less than 5 minutes to start a load of laundry when I have it sorted and ready to go. A 15 minute break from my work to play a game with the girls puts everyone in a better mood. We took a 20 minute break to drive past the post office and wash the car. Little things here and there can make the difference. And what a difference some sunshine makes!!

On that note, the sun is out and things are starting to melt a bit. Coincidence that the girls are coughing and have runny noses? Or allergies??

I don't know what to say, except God is good, and a little extra effort can mean big things in whatever you're doing.


What is going on here?

Today is another day. Natalie hardly survived the morning she was so exhausted, and she fell asleep sitting up at noon. So she napped for about an hour & a half. This is really not a legitimate nap for that girl. While she was napping, Ella consented to rest time, and fell asleep (yay!). Natalie is up now, and is deliriously cranky. I have run out a lengthy list of options for her to eat, drink, do -- all to no avail. She's just whiney crying again. Finally, I asked about the Hyland's teething tablets, and those she did want. She seems to have calmed enough to at least start breathing normally. When she opened her mouth in a scream, one molar appears to still be working its way through, and seemed sort of swollen. Teething pain would explain the restlessness at night, lack of appetite, and generally poor attitude.

In any case, now Natalie's up and Ella is sleeping. Meanwhile, it's reaching the mid-30s outside, our first reprieve from lung-freezing temperatures in so long I can't even remember. And here I sit. Inside. Watching snow melt outside. And the very moment Ella wakes up, I'm sticking the two crankpots in the car so we can get a carwash.

By the way, on Saturday I got my time out! My loving husband sent me to my room for a half hour. I had a chance to read my Bible, and refocus my day in prayer.


Can I have a time out?

It's only 8 am, and today patience seems less and less like a virtue, and more like an impossible dream. Natalie was up several times last night (Brennan got up with her), and then up at 5:45 for the day (my turn). Natalie screaming at 5:45 woke Ella up as well (in another room with the door closed). The morning thus far has been a series of whiney cries, followed by me begging to know what will make her stop, followed by more crying, and Natalie ended up in my lap. She didn't want a waffle, she didn't want cereal, she didn't want anything to drink, she did want an animal shaped pancake but we didn't have a giraffe, she doesn't want a hippo, she doesn't want an elephant, she wants Diego, she doesn't want Diego, Ella has the doll and she wants it.....I think you see where this is going. So it's one of those days, and it's only 8! Now Natalie is pretending to be a tiger, and Ella is crying because she's scared. Of Natalie.

So here's my question: can I please have a time out???? They say you should go by age, and that means I'd get 28 minutes. Alone. If we round up, I could have 29. At least it's Saturday, and that's my shower vacation day. I tend to take a really, really long scalding hot shower on Saturdays because we're not rushing to get anywhere, and I will literally enjoy the hot water so much I'll forget if I've washed my hair yet. It's like a little vacation. I'm not sure our hot water heater can keep up with the shower I need today. It could take hours. Especially because I just got a new Philosophy body wash, in chocolate dipped strawberries. Bon voyage....the shower is calling to me....


It's out of control!

I vividly remember Valentine's Day parties in elementary school. The older you got, the more likely you'd take home a couple of sticks of gum and a couple suckers. Not every Valentine had them. I don't think I ever got to give candy. Maybe you'd score a sticker or two. Or a couple of conversation hearts (certainly not a whole box). Ella had her first Valentine's party today. Oh my goodness. She brought home a brown lunch sack FULL of candy. Twenty 3 and 4 year olds made for quite a haul. One kid gave out those heart-shaped, frosted brownies on his Valentine's. There were a few that actually came attached to small goody bags, with several snack-size candies inside. Small bags of Skittles, Runts, Bottle Caps, Nerds, some Reese's peanut butter cups, suckers galore, pencils, stickers and temporary tattoos. This amount of candy will last both girls to Easter.

I remember the most fun part was making a Valentine's mailbox. Although many years it was a "Oh, no! What on earth will I throw together by tomorrow??" All the kids made paper bag Valentine holders today. They cut hearts out themselves, and glued them on. And Ella made the cutest Valentine for us. It's 4 pieces of paper taped together accordian style. One piece has her picture on it in a heart shape, the next is her left handprint in paint, then a note that says "My childhood days will go by fast. But my love for you will last and last." which Ella has signed, then the last paper is her right handprint. Such a cute idea, I had to share it.

Happy Valentine's Day to you! (all 3 of you!)


You just never know

In an effort to keep Natalie awake til we pick Ella up from school, I let her open the "hair stuff" box in one of the recliners. She wasted no time dumping out all the tiny hair ties and clips (none of which will she tolerate actually being IN her hair), and after playing with them she started to put them back in the box. I went over to help her, and reached down in the corner of the chair to get a stray clip that was about to fall into the inner workings of the chair. As I reached further, I made quite a discovery. I found the nail polish I spent 20 minutes looking for yesterday. I found a Mickey Mouse figurine. More hair ties. A pair of small-child sunglasses broken in half (this explains a horrible snapping sound I once heard as I put the footrest up on that chair). And the kitchen timer that has been missing for a good 3 months. That's in one of two chairs. I have since gone on a recovery mission in the other recliner, finding a comb, a set of baby keys (LONG time no see), a toy necklace, a matchbox car and another hair clip.

I am constantly amazed where things show up. As I sort laundry, I will find in the clothes basket some tea party plates, a bottle of baby powder and a nightlight. There are socks everywhere, and yet, no matches. Take two little girls and add one sneaky cat, and the mysteries really add up. A magnet from the refrigerator is downstairs by the washing machine (I'm guessing a girl took it off the fridge, and a cat batted it down there -- nice team effort). Our crazy cat has a throw blanket she likes to move around the house. I mean a full-sized throw blanket. It starts in the downstairs playroom, and she will drag it all the way upstairs. Sort of funny until Brennan tripped on it carrying a load of laundry downstairs, and fell down a couple of stairs. Now every time we see the blanket halfway up the steps, it feels a little like the cat is out to get us.

In any case, never a dull moment.


Potty. This post is not for the faint of heart.

I'm not going to say that Natalie is potty training, because she's not really. But she likes to do everything Ella does, and Ella uses the potty. So yesterday, Natalie used it twice. This morning she came to me and said, "I poop." So I said, let's go sit on the potty. Natalie said ok, and I was thrilled when I took off her diaper -- we'd made it! So she sat on the potty. Then she stood up and said no. So I tried to put her back on the potty, and she panicked and stood up. She said she didn't have to go. Chaos ensues. (this is the part not for the faint of heart) I start to grab her diaper, when poop falls on the floor. She refuses to sit down, I grab poop with some toilet paper and toss it in the potty, and suddenly, she pees all over herself, and then more poop. Now's when I give up. This moment can't be salvaged. I start the bath, and put her on the rug while I clean everything up. Rug? Have I learned nothing? She pees on the rug. You're kidding. These are the moments when my former life as a newspaper employee almost looks good. ALMOST. Soon she'll say something cute and sweet and I'll forget all about it. Now I will be afraid to ever take her diaper off again.


Ella's Helper

I was the helper again yesterday at Ella's preschool. Just another confirmation that we don't pay these teachers enough. So I got to be "Ella's Helper" for the morning. It's a constant stream of "Stand up please. Sit down please. All the way on your bottom please. Hands to yourself. Eyes up here. Sit down please. Sit down please." I'm so impressed with her school and teachers, though. It's a Christian preschool held at the Assembly of God church here in town. After they do attendance, they pray together for the kids who weren't there. Miss Heidi leads them, and they repeat after her. They say grace before snack. They have a time when they sing songs with cds together, and do actions, which is referred to as "worship time." They do creative activities, and I've seen progress in Ella's learning. Miss Heidi and Grandma Lora Lee handle the kids lovingly, but with firmness when necessary. And both of them seem to have a real joy for working with kids.

I have one more class that I have to help with, as part of the school requirement. On the one hand, I sort of dread the time. I am not a preschool teacher for a reason. But on the other hand, it's really good to see what's going on at school, and it's a special time with Ella. And when we get in the car to go home, Ella says, "Mommy, thank you for coming to school with me." It's worth it right there. The other great thing is feeling so reassured that we made the right choice for Ella's school.

So, two down, one to go.



Oh that's right. This is what a Minnesota winter is. As I drove to Target today, it was -15. The wind chill was in the -40s. What I found most amusing, was the number of people who left their cars running today in the Target parking lot. Did they have 2 sets of keys so they could lock? Did they just leave running, open cars in the lot for the taking? Of course, this is a trusting area. We always know out-of-towners at the Pizza Ranch because the women take their purses with them to the buffet. I always leave mine on the table to reserve it. When I was at Joann Fabrics today, a woman left her purse at the fabric measuring area, and went with a store clerk to look at something, her husband started to follow her and said, "Do you want me to grab your purse?" "Nah. It's fine." This is why I live in a small town.

The cute moment of the day with the girls: I invited Ella to go shopping with me, so she could pick out her Valentines for school. Natalie needed to stay home, as she's been a little under the weather again. Ella asked, "Can Natalie come?" I told her not today. "I think I'll stay home and play with Natalie." So they both stayed home and played, and played and played.