Friday, July 31, 2015

The Little Things

Sometimes, it's the little things that really touch your heart and make you realize how good things are.

Lucas's Christening is set for St. Andrew's Day.  Since his middle name is Andrew, this is quite exciting for us.  There's still a lot of planning, but he's on the calendar.  With a little over 9 weeks until his birth, thinking of this really cements that he's going to be born soon.  It's both amazing and daunting.

I had to buy some new skivvies last week.  (I know, what a thing to share... there is a point- I swear).  Doing so earned me some Kohl's Cash or, as I like to think of it, another reason for me to spend money at Kohl's.  Bobby's shoes were getting tight (he was wearing a 1.5) and I needed to get him a pair of 2s, so I'd decided I'd spend my booty on new kid shoes.  I took Michael with me and low and behold found a pair of shoes on sale that left me with extra.  Well, Maya has been begging for a while for an Elsa (from Frozen) nightgown but at $30 for a nightgown... well, that's not happening.  Tonight, they were on sale for 50% off.  I don't like $15 for a nightgown either, but...  I figured why not.  I had the "free money" for it.  Of course, I have more than 2 kids.  And Michael, Olaf fanatic that he is, wasn't going to go for not having the pair of Olaf PJs he saw.  Luckily, his was a 2 for 1 price set so he got two Olaf PJ sets for the same cost as Maya's one gown.  But he was thrilled and that smile.... Man, I'm a sucker.

We were leaving the toddler area (which means passing through the baby area) and he starts saying "Lucas!  Lucas!"  and pointing.  I stop and he is pointing at a cute 3 piece (pants, short sleeved onesie, long sleeved onesie) that is on the clearance rack, in a 3 month size.  Of course, I can't leave without it.  So, long story short, all 4 kids got something new. 

I saw Michael's thrilled face in the store, but when I got home, the smile on Maya's face was to die for as she begged me to let her wear the Elsa nightgown before it was washed.  (No go... Sorry, kiddo.) 

Bobby though...  I give him his new sneakers, red and black, something I know he'll like, and he throws them in the air.  I assume that, because he was interrupted, he's just having a hard time processing, but then he comes into the kitchen as I'm picking up shoes and he takes them, saying "sad face".  I asked why, and asked if he was sad that he didn't have socks on to try on his shoes.  He says "yes" and runs to grab socks.  Low and behold, once he had socks on, he puts on his shoes with such joy and begs to go for a walk.  When I asked him if he liked the shoes, he says "Yes!" and grabs me, giving me a hug and a big kiss on the cheek.

Right now, even though I am so tired I could just crash and not wake up for a while (lie... I'll wake up by midnight to make my hourly from midnight on bathroom runs- thanks Lucas!), my heart is so full.  The night time shopping basically ended up costing me the equivalent of my last yoga class teaching, but seeing their faces and their joy... That was pretty priceless.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Field Trip Thursday: DaVinci Science Center (July)

Originally posted here

We have a membership here because the kids love it so much.  The exhibits change quarterly, but even if we go twice in a quarter, there are so many things to do that they end up doing something different.  We went with a friend and her daughter this time, and luckily, it wasn't crazy busy like it was the last time we went!  That being said, field trips to interactive museums with 3 kids and a pregnant mommy are always exhausting!

One of the great things about the DaVinci Science Center is that it really works for all the ages of the kids.  Michael has a blast at 2 years old and the twins have a wonderful time at almost 6 years old.  If you are local to the Philadelphia area, DSC is a good mix between Please Touch and the Bucks County Children's Museum (both of which are family favorites as well).

We started off with "driving", which is one of Michael's favorite things to do...

 before we moved on to Michael and Maya designing their own Mack truck!  It would be quite interesting to see that bad boy on the road!
Together, a favorite exhibit is the water table, where the kids are able to divert water with small, plastic boards, then see what happens when they send a boat down the trail they've created.
The twins also adore the wind machine.  It's $2 extra for about 60 seconds, but the wind hits 100mph and they LOVE it.
Another favorite of all three was the new "Tunnel Vision".  They were able to go through a tunnel in complete darkness as well as with the lights on.  I thought I was going to lose the kids there!
Bobby enjoyed both the fossils and the shake tray, where he built a structure and then shook it to see how long it would take to fall.  He also attempted doing some engineering with one of the computer stations.  He also enjoyed creating sand art with the funnel, which was neat to watch. A huge favorite of his is pulling the weights- he was even able to pull down the 120 pound one!  At 65 pound, this kid is strong!

Maya had several things she really enjoyed on this visit.  She dug for bones, investigated geodes, and enjoyed touching crabs and starfish.  Like Bobby, she enjoys the weight station.  She is easily able to move 30 pounds (she weighs 36 pounds, so that makes sense), but she basically uses the other three (40 pounds, 60 pounds, and 120 pounds) to do acrobatics on!  She did really enjoy crafting a trail for a ball to follow; it was neat watching her try and fail, then reconfigure until she got the perfect set up.
When she was finished, it became something they all liked to play with!
Michael really liked the truck making and driving, but he was thrilled when Bobby showed him how to do the shaking table.  While his tower was significantly lower, I think the fact that he was doing it alongside big brother made his day.  He also enjoyed the hot air balloon (where a screen displays what you would see if you were flying overhead) and the truck motor.  As soon as Bobby vacated the engineering station, he tried his hand at that, but I think it was more "Look! A computer!" more than "Hey, I can build a bridge!"

Our weekly field trips wear me out like nothing else, but the kids really love them.  And, with about a half dozen different memberships to places within an hour or so, we have our pick of what to do.  We tend to do things once every month or two, and the kids really enjoy picking up new things at old favorites.  I'm always craving a nap at the end, but they are always so happy and relaxed after an outing. 

Tesla Tuesday: Crayon Making

Originally posted here

Science Experiment: Crayon Making

You will need: crayon bits, tin cans or bowls for melting, silicone mold

Point of Experiment: Wax can change from a solid to a liquid when heated.  It will become solid again when it cools.  Discuss forms: solid, liquid, gas.  What other things change form when heated?  Do they go back to their original form?

First, the kids removed paper from broken crayons.  Then we sorted them into bowls by colors.  Since my mold had six spots, we made six piles:
1) black, white, and grays
2) blues and purples
3) reds, pinks, and dark oranges
4) remaining oranges and yellows
5) greens
6) browns

From there, I took 2 metal bowls from my kitchen stash.  The larger bowl was filled with water and placed over medium high heat.  The broken crayons were placed in the smaller bowl.  When the water in the large bowl was boiling, the small bowl was placed inside.  As the wax melted, we stirred the wax mixture. 

When the wax was completely liquid, I poured the wax into the mold (which were hearts).  It took about half an hour for the wax to reharden, then the kids popped them out and voila!  Six, brand new crayons and a science experiment complete!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Unschooling By Day

Originally posted here

I'm toying with the idea of trying to make certain days more "subject" specific.  Since we've opted to try a more unschooling approach, I tend to just try to lead the kids in a certain direction.  Things we day daily are art, music, religion, reading, handwriting, and ASL.  But I want to try and figure out fun ways to put in other subjects.  Thursdays are Field Trip day so that day is a given, and Wednesdays are when they visit their grandparents, so I don't want to add anything to that day either.  So that leaves me with Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, as well as the weekends.

My thoughts are Math Mondays, Tesla Tuesdays (for Science), and Fact Filled Friday (for History & Social Studies).  I thought of adding "Thoughtful Thursdays" for ELA because pairing language arts with a fun fieldtrip as a reward might be a good fit. 

As we really get into our second grade curriculum, I hope I'll get a grasp on how to do this whole homeschooling shebang.  Especially with a new baby coming on board in October!  The kids love space and astronomy, so that is the majority of our science.  I bought a Montessori based math program at a homeschool conference I attended, so that is our math.  ELA, history, and languages (we're planning to add Latin to our ASL and the kids are already picking up some early Spanish) are just mishmashes of things.  For religion, we're using the CHC products again, since last year went well.

Unschooling is definitely Peter's bag of chips more than it is mine, but that is mostly because I don't really learn that way.  The kids are doing great with a more relaxed approach, but it is really hard for me to let go of the binder and the books and just let the kids learn by talking and doing.  But such is life.  I suppose in many ways, we are all just perpetual students.  The proof is in the pudding, though.  The twins are working at a grade above where they would be (and, had they been born a mere five days later, two grades above where they would be in school) and Michael, who is barely 2, is picking up stuff left and right. 

Pregnancy Journaling, Baby Books, and Unshowers

I've kept journals for each baby, but this time (as with blogging), life has just been too busy for me to actually keep up with anything.  Between three kids, homeschooling, housework, my volunteer life, and trying to teach and run.... Things are insanity.

So, I picked up the From Pea to Pod Pregnancy Journal from a local bookstore and, I have to say, I really like it!  I feel bad that poor Lucas doesn't have a long winded "wow- we're on this pregnancy journey" book like all the other kids, but I look forward to writing in this one and putting the info in it.  Each week has a page and every four weeks is a slot for a picture.  There are prompts for the weeks, so it pulls in some cutsy pregnancy info, and since I'm seeing Dr. B. every four weeks, it's perfect to keep up with my ultrasound pictures.

Maya is fascinated with how Lucas is growing, so in addition to stalking my phone for the pregnancy week-by-week, she loves this little book so that she can see about how big he is each week (and I think she likes feeling like she's reading "Mommy's diary").

I used a day-by-day journal with the other kids that I liked a lot too (although I cant presently remember the name of it... I'll have to go look!), but I might order another of these "just in case" we have another little one in the future.  Although, I suppose with the ease of Amazon, I could just save it on a wish list and have access to it later.

There's also a From Pea to Pumpkin: A Baby Journal.... I'm debating picking it up. 

We keep calling Lucas our "pumpkin" because he's due in October, so it fits. I already have one baby book, Peter Rabbit Baby Book, but had I seen the FPtP, I probably would have grabbed it instead. They are, in fairness, different.  FPtP seems to go through the first year, whereas the other one is sort of a planning for baby up to homecoming and not much more. 

I don't know.  Am I really going to have the time (and energy??) to actually fill it out?  I barely feel like I have the time to do the stuff I have to do now!  But, I'm thinking of it.

Other things in the "thinking about it" pile...  An "unshower" for Lucas.  We had a blast at a local pub, when we celebrated Michael with a blessingway,  I didn't want a baby shower for a variety of reasons, but I did want a special celebration for Michael and a time to hang out with my girlfriends and family.  I'd like to do something similar this time, perhaps at our local microbrewery.  And, for Miss Maya, definitely with a Halloween theme! :)  She was too young to come to Michael's but mini-me would be super psyched to be included this time around.  In lieu of gifts, we have a well where folks can put baby supplies for our local food bank or the local pregnancy crisis center, and it is really just an excuse for us to all get together, grab a beer, and enjoy hanging out. 

We're pretty well squared away as far as baby prep goes.  Still haven't bought an infant car seat or picked up another Diono for when he grows out of that.  But clothes are good, other baby items are done...  I guess the joy of still having a quasi-little one means that my basement still had a lot of baby stuff in it!  I had given away infant clothes, so I picked up some of those, but otherwise, there's been very little to do for "prep".  We decided to put the crib in our room for now, since Lucas will be cosleeping for the first part of his life anyway,  and there is a changing table and my rocking chair with it.  (Our bedroom is massive, so the additional furniture actually makes the room look complete.  It's kind of funny.)  Right now, the other three room together, so the old nursery has a daybed that Maya will move into one day (since that room will eventually be hers.)  It will serve as a room for Peter's mom (or mine) in the event folks need to stay with the kids while we are away.  I'm sure the winter/spring will have us moving stuff around, but for now, this is all working out well.

This post was all over the place!  I really am going to try and start blogging regularly again- I promise!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Try, Try, Try

Well, VBS didn't seem a hit.  The folks were lovely, but with 50 kids and a large room, it was a tad too overwhelming for Bobby.  When he had a potty accident that he was too embarrassed to get help with, they called us.  When I got there, he was happy, but ready to come home.  I spoke with Maya and, while she was having fun, she wanted to come home, too.

The way home, I just kept telling them that I was proud of them for doing something new and that, hit or miss, it's great to go outside of our comfort zones.  After I gave Bobby a shower, he hugged me and said "I tried."  It broke my heart because I know that he did.. I know he wanted to be successful and that it just didn't work for him this time. 

The VBS people encouraged us to try again and, perhaps, we will.  I don't know.  At this point, neither of the kids has said they want to, but I'll ask again, and we shall see.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Life

It's hard to believe we are staring August in the face.  It seems like yesterday that I was packing up the twins' first grade work and pulling out our second grade stuff.  Pure insanity. 

Today, we dropped the twins at their first day of VBS.  It's not at our parish (or our local one), but is at a nearby Episcopal church that was very open to special needs.  They were quick to respond to emails and very accommodating; I think (I hope!) the kids will have a blast.  They both loved camp.  Bobby went to a local special needs/autism friendly camp and every morning, he was raring to go (which really helped my heart!).  Maya went to a Girl Scout camp, 45 minutes away, where she got to ride a school bus for the first time.  She was surrounded by girls she knew and, like Bobby, she had a blast.  Michael spent the week having some rare, one-on-one Mommy time, which is the plan for this week also.  Right now, he's playing an education game on his tablet, but in five minutes, we're going out for a bike (well, tricycle) ride, then we'll head to the park for some play before the rain hits again.


Michael celebrated his second birthday at the beginning of July.  Talk about time flying!  He loves (and is proficient in) ASL.  As much as I don't want to "rush" his education, he is fascinated by his siblings and, due to their work more than mine, he has started sounding out words and writing letters.  I have a feeling we're going to have another early reader.  He's a big fan of Elmo (much to my dismay!) and he loves to watch the Elmo music videos on YouTube.  He tells us that he wants to be a priest when he grows up. :)  His favorite person in the world is his Grandpa (Peter's dad) and he is really such a sweet little guy, although he can be a PIA when he wants to be!
Michael's 2nd birthday party

Michael, picking out a birthday present with his "birthday money"

Maya loves being a Daisy Girl Scout.  We just finished out our first year, with me as her Troop Leader (and working as the Events and Trips Manager for our Service Unit).  She had a great time and met so many wonderful girls.  It's a great way to keep her connected with the kiddos from her old school.  She is such a mini-Mommy and huge helper to me.  She'll often offer to babysit (take the boys to the lower level playroom) while I'm cleaning.  It's really adorable.  Her favorite subjects are math and science; she is truly her father's daughter!  She loves to sing, and often will accompany me to Mass when I have the early cantoring assignment, so that she can sit at the cantor area.  She sings her little heart out.  She sang in the children's choir at church and loved it; she can't wait for it to restart in September. 
Maya, with one of her Daisy Sisters, at Bridging & Rededication

Miss Maya, July 2015

Bobby is growing in leaps and bounds.  His verbal skills are improving day by day, and we are at the point where he will answer questions in real time for the most part.  He still scripts when he needs to, but his language has really expanded, due both the speech therapy but also due to his increased desire to communicate.  I read the book, The Explosive Child, which really changed the way that he and I interact.  He loves to draw and has a great memory.  Reading and writing are still his favorite subjects (clearly Mommy's boy!) although he has a gift for numbers as well and I think math is more an issue of application than it is aptitude.  He enjoyed his first try at day camp, and asked if he could do it again next summer, so I take that as a big positive!  He loves to interact with people and, as his verbal and auditory processing skills improve, he is really making the effort to forge new friendships at places like parks, etc.  His favorite place to go, other than his paternal grandparents' home, is the Aquarium and, whenever his chore chart fills, that is what he chooses for his reward.
Bobby, arriving at the Aquarium for our last Mommy-and-Me Date

Bobby, on day 2 of his first day camp experience
Peter and I are doing well.  We hit the big 17 in June, and are still very much in love and happy.  Days are tough at times, but the hard times pass quickly when you have someone else to lean on.  He's a great dad and works hard so that we can maintain a stay-at-home parent presence.  The kids love their "Daddy Time", and I've never seen a man balance his commitments as well.  He's a great example to them, and to me.  We're both preparing for Lucas's arrival in, gulp, 10 weeks, and the changes that will bring to the dynamic of our home. 

Spring 1999, Navy Marine Corps Ball
Fall 2013 - one of my favorite pictures... right before the MCM and getting pregnant with Michael

It's time for me to take Michael for his bike ride (well, tricycle ride!)  It's due to rain later and I don't want to miss the bit of sunshine we have!

Lucas - 29 weeks

So, today marks the last of the double digit countdown weeks.  T-10 weeks until Lucas's scheduled arrival!  My OB and I agreed on visits every 4 weeks unless a reason precipitated otherwise, so I see him again at 32 weeks, then 36 weeks.  An early platelet test has already shown that my platelets are low, so while I'm supplementing with papaya extract in the meantime, at 36 weeks, we'll do another blood test and, assuming they are low, I'll get steroids at 37 weeks.  If that hasn't upped them by 38 weeks, I'll have an IGG infusion.  Here's to hoping the papaya keeps me above 100!  (I'm around 122 right now, which was what I delivered Michael with.)  Otherwise, things are very typical with this pregnancy and no issues.  At 32 weeks, Dr. B. will do a growth scan on the bambino to guestimate his size, but the quick and dirty measurements show a baby that is on par for dates and a nice, long cervix.

I had my 28 week appointment, and all was well.  Lucas is already like his siblings and giving me a hard time, since he refused to cooperate for his ultrasound picture. :) 
28 weeks

You can see the top of his head to the far left and my bladder to the far right.  The great thing about this picture is that it shows a nice, long, and very closed cervix, measuring over 4.5.  Thank God for Dr. H and the TAC.  Although this pregnancy has me slowing down (I am just too tired to run over a mile or two and Wednesday night will be my last instruction of my Cardio Yoga until post-baby (which I'm leaving a month early... was due to teach through August)), I'm still able to keep up with the three kiddos and have a very normal, active pregnancy.  I'm grateful.  I honestly never thought I'd have Michael's pregnancy experience... having a second one that is also stress free and relatively easy is more than a dream.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pregnancy Update: ending the 2nd trimester

I hit 27 weeks this last Monday and, come Monday, will officially enter the 3rd Trimester.  This pregnancy is going by so quickly, which I think is pretty clear by the lack of updating!  We are so busy with the summer, continuing our homeschooling, and just life in general, things are insane.  But, without further wordiness, here's the belly!

Peter is away this week for business, so things are definitely busier, and being in the 27th week definitely brings up anxiety for me, since Bobby & Maya were 27 weekers.  But I keep holding on to Michael's 37 week pregnancy and just trusting the TAC!  Lucas is a mover and shaker, and I see Dr. B. again on Monday, at 28 weeks exactly.  I passed my 3GTT so no gestational diabetes (I opted to only do the 3 hour) and, other than being tired, things are going well.