Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chalk Drawings

What do you do on a beautiful autumn day, especially when that day is the day before October starts?

You fill your driveway with chalk drawings of spooky Halloween creatures, of course!

And that's exactly what I did this afternoon with my two daughters.

There were black cats (1st drawing - mine, 2nd drawing - Zoe (age 5):

And jack o'lanterns (1st drawing - mine, 2nd drawing - Emma (age 7), 3rd drawing - Zoe):

A couple of mummies (1st drawing - mine, 2nd drawing - Zoe):

A few adorable spiders (1st drawing - mine, 2nd drawing - Zoe):

Some scary bats (1st drawing - Emma, 2nd drawing - Zoe)

Some not-so-scary skeletons (1st drawing - mine, 2nd drawing - Zoe)

Two cackling witches, and one that reminds me of the green witch from the Looney Tunes cartoons (1st drawing - mine, 2nd drawing - Zoe, 3rd drawing - Zoe)

Ghosts (both drawings - Zoe):

And last, but not least, our blood sucking vampire boys (1st drawing - mine, 2nd drawing - Zoe's, 3rd drawing - Zoe's)

Now we're all set for Halloween decorations, as long as it doesn't rain!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Our Brush With Fame

There are a lot of stories out there about stars behaving badly. Pretty much anytime you turn on your computer or walk through the checkout line at the grocery store, you can read about someone cheating on their husband/ wife, getting arrested on a DUI, having sex with underage girls.

But our experience this summer with some TV stars was completely different. It was all positive and the young stars we met and got autographs from were absolutely wonderful and great examples to kids about how to live your life.

On the Disney cruise we were lucky enough to go on this summer there were several Disney TV stars on the boat with us. They came out at different organized activities and were the epitome of well behaved. The highlight was a concert given by Corbin Bleu, of High School Musical fame and the next day a meet and greet with the stars that included a Q & A session and a chance to get autographs and pictures with the stars.

Corbin Bleu came onstage on a very hot afternoon and was super cool. He talked about his family and how much fun he was having on the cruise. Then he sang several songs that everyone rocked out to. But the best part, THE BEST PART - my niece (my goddaughter, to be exact) and one of the biggest Corbin Bleu fans in Ohio, got pulled onto stage where Corbin sang her a song!!! It was truly a magical moment. I don't think her feet ever came back down onto the deck after that!

This is the video of Corbin pulling my 13 year old niece up on stage. Really cool and sweet! (He brings her onstage at about the 2:21 mark)

At the meet and greet session the staffers on the cruise passed out numbers for your order for autographs. We got there a little late and got in the second set of 250. (I think they had 500 numbers to pass out). My nieces were in the first set of 250.

The stars on our cruise were of course Corbin Bleu, Tiffany Thornton, Doug Brochu, and Brandon Mychal Smith, all from "Sonny With Chance", and Roshon Fegan from "Camp Rock". They were all really kind and engaging, talking to the kids as they came through. I encouraged my kids to say something to each of the stars, but I think Zoe might have been the only one to go through with it.

The Disney Cruise "handlers" were basically trying to run everyone through, barking out at the parents to take the picture "while they are signing the autograph!". The Disney stars figured this out and started encouraging the kids to step back by them while they signed the books and simultaneously looking up and smiling for the camera toting moms and dads. Corbin Bleu recognized my niece and talked to her for a few minutes. He asked her name and thanked her for coming on stage. She in turn thanked him for taking her on stage. And no matter how much barking the handlers did, my sister got a picture of her daughter with Corbin Bleu!

By the time my kids got up on stage for autographs, the handlers had settled down a bit and I had an easier time of getting pictures of my kids with the stars. Brandon Mychal Smith (Nico on SWAC) noticed that all my kids were related and pulled them all in for a single photo with him. Tiffany Thornton even got Ian to paste a big smile on his face when she told him, "Get over here, cutie!"

My kids were definitely thrilled with the experience. But the thing that capped it all off was on the last night of the cruise. Most of my family was in Studio Sea on Deck 4 singing or listening to others singing karaoke. Ian wanted a drink so I told him to go up to Deck 9 where the drinks are complimentary. When he came back several minutes later his face was filled with a smile and his body was jumping up and down. He made a beeline for me and said, "I was just in the elevator with Tiffany Thornton and Brandon Smith! And Tiffany is nothing like her character!" Brandon told Ian he liked his shirt and Tiffany asked him what he was drinking. Ian couldn't believe they talked to him! It made him feel pretty special. And the more I think about it the more I am impressed with these young people. They did not have to talk to him. But they did. With a few simple words they made my son's cruise experience extra special. And in turn, mine too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sleeping Babies

This past weekend we watched my incredibly adorable nephew, Declan. We had him for four nights and four days and I was reminded of how much work an 8 1/2 month old baby can be. And what a joy, as well.

As I soothed him to sleep the first night, I couldn't stop calling my husband in to see the sweet baby faces he made. The sleepy smile, the sucking motion of the lips, his two little fists covering his eyes. It vividly brought back those many months we spent holding any one of our three kids, waiting for them to go to sleep, hoping once they were in their crib they would stay asleep.

Declan slept pretty well the first night, not waking up until 5:30 the next morning. His naps were pretty much what his mom told me they would be. But on night two he woke up at 2:15 and the pacifier in the mouth only worked for about five minutes. I eventually picked him up out of his pack-n-play and took him downstairs where I sat with him held tight to my chest until he fell soundly back to sleep. I awoke at about 4:00AM and decided to put him back in the crib. He slept until about 6:30 and was up for the day after that. Night three was a little worse, with another nighttime rendezvous and stint on the couch. He slept for awhile after I re-deposited him into the crib, but at 5:30 when he stirred again, I nudged Brendan and told him it was his turn. I then slept until about 6:15, when I heard Declan's cries on the baby monitor again as Brendan tried to lay him back down to sleep. Night four turned magical, with the boy sleeping from 9:00PM until 7:15AM and never once needing to be gotten out of bed.

All these sleepless nights made me remember all the crazy things we would try to get our kids to sleep before they were old enough to "cry it out." (Yes we used the cry it out method on all three of our kids and they are all fantastic sleepers now!) We sometimes used the bouncy seat at night, especially with the vibrate button until the baby was sound asleep, then we'd turn it off and thank God that something worked!

One of our rituals was the walk-pat. You know, walk slowly around the room with baby's head on your shoulder while you pat his/ her bottom rhythmically. If we stopped walking we risked waking baby up. And don't even think about sitting down - HE WILL KNOW!

We attached toys to the side of the crib that played music and had little fishies swimming soothingly along the water filled fishbowl.

We begged and pleaded with our kids that if they would just sleep we would most certainly buy them a pony.

But one of my favorite methods to get them to stay asleep when transferred to the crib was to preheat the bed. Yes, preheat it! I would hold the baby, walk-patting him to sleep, and my husband would throw the heating pad in the microwave. He would then place the heating pad into the crib and place a receiving blanket over it. About a minute before I would put the baby down to bed, we'd remove the heating pad and lay the baby on the warm spot, then cover him up with the warm receiving blanket. It did seem to help.

But what we found worked the best was making the baby go to sleep on his/her own. It was excruciating and something I always hated. But after two weeks, we'd have a baby that happily laid down to bed, went to sleep on his/ her own, and usually didn't wake up in the middle of the night. It really was what worked for us.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Messy House

All three of my kids are in school now. In school all day, everyday. I have been home for 10 years now with my kids, and this is a very new experience for me. I have never had five uninterrupted days to myself, week in and week, out since Ian was born.

I have fielded many questions as to what I'm going to do now, etc., etc.. No, I'm not officially working (although I will occasionally be substitute teaching at my kids' school as the need arises), and yes, I do enjoy my time at home.

One of my goals this year is to get my house clean and keep it clean. This might sound silly or crazy or stupid to many of you, but I am not a great housekeeper. And I would like to have a clean house not because I'm hosting playgroup or because my parents are coming into town for a visit, but because I keep it clean by cleaning it regularly. I want the laundry done when it needs to be, the bathrooms cleaned every week, the kitchen floor mopped on a regular basis, and the piles of paper that seem to engulf us each school year in their place and not on my kitchen counter!

And I have to say I'm doing a pretty good job so far. Not only have I kept up with the laundry and regular cleaning, I've done some jobs that haven't been done in a long time. I cleaned up the cabinet under the kitchen sink. I ripped out the old lining and put in new lining. I scrubbed the outside of all the kitchen cabinets. I organized (somewhat) the office upstairs and vacuumed the basement and basement stairs.

But I am noticing that the more I clean, the more messy things I see around the house. I vacuum the basement stairs and I see that the wood edging is dusty. I clean the kitchen cabinets and I see that the baseboards are filthy. I mop the entryway only to see that the wood railings to our stairs are in need of a good wipedown.

It is seemingly endless! I guess having a clean home is going to be a little more work that I thought. I hope I'm up to the task!