Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Updates coming soon... I promise

I'll be updating soon but I'll summarize to say that we had a fabulous Christmas and we're still enjoying our "break" this week as well.

I've been wanting to document Ross' current vocabulary.

First word - dad da, daddy
Second word(s) - thank you
New words -
Bad Boy (yep... unfortunately he knows this and says it when he is mad, often followed by hitting someone)
Aye Yah (I want)
Hey and Hi (says in the morning when we go to get him out of bed)

Ross is also starting to dance. His dancing involves a violent shake of his head from side to side, sometimes followed by a squat but not regularly.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

One more night before CHRISTMAS!

Monday - On Monday night Courtney got into town and stayed at our house so we made our advent activity "exchange presents with Courtney." She got the boys some really neat gifts. Ross got two cars and a helicopter that are little wooden cars. Ryan got a pots & pans set that look very real. Reid got a dodgeball game where you weare some vests with velcro to catch the balls that came with it. All of the presents were a great hit.

Our activity on Tuesday night was to "Go out to eat at a FUN place." We took the boys to Izumi, a Japanese steakhouse that cooks hibachi style. We really did have a lot of fun. The big fire at the beginning scared Ross and he cried but once he got over it I think he enjoyed watching the show. The two big boys really enjoyed it and Reid loved it. He loved the entertainment AND the food. He ate with chopsticks and did a great job at it! Each meal comes with a soup that is so good. It is basically clear but has a ton of flavor, almost like a chicken broth but better. Reid ate all of his, Ross liked it, but Ryan wouldn't try it. After the soup we had a salad. I had been there before and did not like the ginger dressing so asked for all of our salads to be served with no dressing. We picked at them and Ryan ate all of the carrots out of many of our salads.
After our soup and salads it was time for the big show. The chef made a volcano out of an onion, grilled the meat(steak, chicken and shrimp) and the veggies, and even tossed some shrimp for us to try and catch. Russ went 2 for 2, Mom was 1 for 2, Reid was 0 for 4, Courtney was 1 for 2 and Ryan wouldn't try it. We also got some bonus noodles that were very yummy! We had a TON of food.
Our chef did several tricks with us and really kept us entertained. He had a ketchup bottle with a string inside it that he squirted at Reid and Ryan at different times and they both fell for it. He had a great sense of humor and really entertained us. My favorite line was when he put sesame seeds on our chicken and then drew a line and said it was "sesame street."
By far one of my favorite nights this month. We've never taken the boys to something like this before (we actually RARELY even take them out to eat) and they behaved so well!

Wednesday - Tonight's activity was to "Make cookies for Santa". We'll be in Holton tomorrow celebrating Christmas with my side of the family so tonight we got our cookies baked for Santa to enjoy. We made chocolate chip cookies and tasted some of them as well - they were GOOD!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Photo Collage

These pictures might be really hard to see but I thought I'd share our "crazy" from last night. Hockey Ross' dad made all of the boys some tie dye shirts so we were trying to get a picture of all of them in them. We didn't get ONE decent photo... so I made a collage of all of the outtakes and sent it up to Ross' house. It should arrive right around Christmas... ha ha...

Who has new shoes and likes to party?


Sunday I took Ross to get his first pair of shoes. To date he has only worn his Robeez (which, yes Grandma - we know you think they were ugly). They were functional, he needed something that kept his socks on, and he has chubby little feet. BUT now that he is walking EVERYWHERE and into EVERYTHING... it was time for REAL shoes. I took Ross to Stride Rite and he was a great little boy trying them on and walking around in them. We tried four or five different pair - he needed a 4.5 xw (yes, that's extra wide). The first pair he had on he acted like he couldn't walk and kept raising his leg like they were so heavy. He quickly got used to them and was all over the store. I eventually chose these for the versatility because at nearly $50 he only gets ONE pair.

After we shoe shopped, I took Ross next door to Blue Chip Cookies for a treat. The MINUTE we walked in he had his hand out doing his "I want" sign and yelling "aye yah, aye yah" or something like that. We were third in line and he did that over and over until he had his cookie. It was HILARIOUS and a little embarrassing.

Countdown updates

No great pictures, no big stories.

Friday - Make treat sacks for Beth's daycare Christmas party. The boys are having their Christmas party at Beth's daycare on Monday so we colored Christmas coloring pages to cut out and put on their treat bags. They really enjoyed coloring - it lasted more than an hour! We ended up putting two Clementines, a Hi-C, and a bag of m&m cookies in each sack. I let the boys fill them and then when we were packing them up I noticed one sack was really heavy - it had SIX Clementines in it (Ryan's work). I was putting groceries away and never got back to inspect the others closely so I hope the rest were all equal ;)

Saturday -Go eat at Chuck E Cheese. Saturday night Russ was at the rink scorekeeping for the Russell Stover U16 games and I had the boys. I was struggling with energy levels all weekend and trying not to complain about it. SO... rather than sit at home and feel lazy - I decided to take ALL three boys to Chuck E Cheese solo. Seriously! Actually, it went REALLY well. The boys listened well, ate fantastic, and had a ton of fun. I gave Reid three or four tokens at a time to go on his own to play games and then he checked in when those ran out to get more. It happened that a lot of girls from his class were also there for a birthday party. Luckily we had gotten a table in the sectioned off toddler area and Ryan was pretty happy in there most of the time. When he wanted to go play a bigger game, Ross and I just went with him. Ross kind of just hung out the whole evening until the last 20 minutes and then he REALLY got into playing. He was climbing up the toddler slide and sliding down head first. After TWO hours of playing I told them that it was time to go. The older boys got their coats on and listened really well. Ross - he threw a fit screaming and threw himself down because he didn't want to leave.

Sunday - Watch Polar Express. Sunday morning Reid had a hockey game at 6:50 so after getting up so early it was a lazy day at home. During afternoon naptime we cuddled up and watch the Polar Express. Reid had seen the movie before but neither Ryan or I had. The boys laid pretty well and watched the movie.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Survivor's Ready

Wednesday night is going to go in the record books as the boys' favorite night. They are still talking about it. Isn't funny how it's the simplest things that get kids excited? Our activity was a "Survivor Challenge." We set up a challenge course for the boys: first they had to untie some knots, then crawl under the coffee table, complete a puzzle, finish an eating challenge with hands behind their backs (we had ice cream hidden under a bowl) and then make a basket in a small basketball goal. Ryan won the first challenge and then the boys immediately started asking if they could do it again. They did it a few more times and then started creating their own twists on the challenges as well. They had so much fun and they even asked on Thursday if they could do it again. Reid said he wanted a rematch for one of the nights we have left on the calendar.

Getting instructions on what the challenge will be...

Untying the knots...
Ryan coming out from under the table...
Puzzles! Ryan got quite a lead after this round. Tater Tot was the judge...

Reid focusing on his puzzle...

The ice cream challenge. Ryan almost done, Reid just starting...

Hands behind the backs, no utensils. Chowing down their ice cream. Mom was holding Ross because he REALLY wanted in on the challenge...
Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner...

Ross really wanted to play too - he liked the puzzles quite a bit...

On Thursday night I had already went to the grocery store one time and realized that I'd forgotten something. Knowing that I had to go back sometime that evening we made the advent calendar our annual Harvesters donation. We told the boys that we were going to go to the grocery store so they could buy some food for people that didn't have money to buy food. We get to Price Chopper and start shopping down one aisle. Ryan points at a lady walking in front of us and asks "is that a hungry lady that we're going to give some food?" Apparently he didn't quite understand the whole concept. I explained it again, we shopped (which the boys really enjoyed) and then left the food in the Harvester's boxes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Is it REALLY Wednesday already?

Well, not much to update today but I'm going to document our last two nights (without pictures) so I remember next year what worked and didn't work.

Monday night - I made the mistake of making a dinner that I should not make on a weeknight. It was great but it took quite a while and we ate late, etc. So, for the calendar we let the boys "Watch Wipeout, theater style." In our house that just means we pull the couch up close to the tv, dim the lights and let them have a snack in the living room while they watched a DVR'd episode of Wipeout. It worked, they really enjoy it... and I got some organizing in our bedroom done. Did I mention I have 100 different projects going on at my house? All three of the boys' rooms are clean, organized, etc and now I am working on our master bedroom. It really is a long process when I have to start/stop, fit it in, etc. Well, Monday night I worked on starting to pack away all of the scrapbook stuff that has accumulated in an effort to find a spot for my treadmill (news to come in 2011).

Last night (Tuesday) - we hurried home from work and took off immediately for Wal-Mart in an effort to beat the crowds. Our activity was "shopping for siblings." This actually went really well. We did not have the boys buy for us (parents) this year as we always struggle to find something at Wal-Mart that we both want or that they want to pick. Besides, each boy was now picking out two gifts so we had SIX gifts to try and hide in our cart while shuffling boys between parents. Russ took Reid first while Ryan and I did some grocery shopping. Then we met, stashed those presents under my coat in the cart and switched kids. Reid and I went to electronics while Russ took Ryan shopping in the toys. Then we met again, stashed those toys and Russ took the older two boys to the car while Ross and I picked out his gifts for Reid and Ryan (items the boys had pointed out to us while shopping for their brothers). I had right around 20 items with a few grocery items I had grabbed so we went through the express and Russ picked us up at the door. It went very well and the boys were very decisive and quick - and got each other great gifts that everyone will love.

Tonight - ????

Monday, December 13, 2010

A flash of a weekend

Thursday. Technically not part of the weekend but I'll put this here for documentation purposes at least. We're marking this as FAIL #2 on the advent calendar. The item was supposed to be "donating coats to Project Warmth" which technically we did. I picked the boys up from school/daycare and drove down to the dropoff location on Shawnee Mission Parkway. Reid fell asleep first, followed shortly by Ryan. The car was toasty warm and it was a long drive so when we got there I hopped out and dropped off the coats and drove home. The boys slept until we hit our garage. We played Sequence for Kids that night (Thanks Grandma Cella) so they did do something fun but I'm not sure they caught much in the lesson about helping others.

Friday. On Friday night Reid had a hockey practice and a goalie lesson so waiting for him meant that the advent calendar didn't start until 8:00. I did the best quick idea I could come up with and we made 'door hangers for the boys' rooms'. They were actually a big hit and very quick. All of the pieces were foam stickers. I took the backing off of the stickers for Ryan but he put everything on following the pattern that was on the packaging. Reid did his all by himself.

* I love this picture. He was kind of hiding behind his door but also so proud of his door hanger - quite the look on his face!
* And this was Reid's...
Saturday. On Saturday Reid had a boy scout 'Go and See' at the Shawnee Fire Station. Ryan was invited along but decided not to go and stayed home with Ross and I. Once Russ found the station (they gave the wrong address in the e-mail they sent out... nice!) they had a great time. They got to see a lot and Russ said Reid answered all of the safety questions.

* Guess who's kid is screwing off in the picture... Russ' of course!

Saturday night. On Saturday night we were babysitting for our friend's three kids (The Miller's). The Miller's and two other families help us out watching Reid before school in the mornings so we no longer have to do before & after school care. It has worked out fabulously for us and we are so thankful for their friendship. We are trying to come up with ways to pay them back so we offered to babysit for each family at some time so they could take a date night. Russ took their oldest son (Caden) to Reid's hockey game to watch and I stayed home with Finley, Ashtin, Ryan and Ross. The night could not have been any easier! Seriously - why don't we do this more often?? Ryan and Finley played in his room for a LONG time while Ross, Ashtin and I played in the living room. Ryan wasn't whining, Ross wasn't screaming... it was NICE! They all ate really good and then went back to playing. Finley and Ryan went to the basement and played tools and Ross and Ashtin were back in the living room. When Reid and Caden got home from hockey they ate dinner and then really only had about 20 minutes to play together. They played in Reid's room for a while and then I took the Miller's home to get ready for bed. Russ kept our three boys at home and did showers and then the advent calendar. Given the busy day we went for 'ice cream for bedtime snack... with chocolate syrup." I read books to the Miller's and put them in bed and their parents were home about 30 minutes later - it really all went very smoothly... who said 6 kids was hard?

* The kids eating dinner. Ashtin did a really good job sitting at the "big kid" table since Ross had the high chair.
* Yes, Ross ate ALL of this... and then some!
Sunday. We had a big day planned for Sunday (one that included Ross staying home with a babysitter, Ms Taylor Zimmerman). Our mortgage broker had rented out a theater and invited us to see the movie Elf. So, our advent calendar was "Go see Elf and then visit Santa." The boys had never seen the movie before so even though it was a couple of years old it was just the same as going to the theater for them, complete with snacks and popcorn! They both did great during the movie. We went directly from the theater to our neighborhood clubhouse and saw Santa. We only had to wait in line behind one family. Reid went first and spent SEVERAL long minutes carrying on a conversation with Santa. We kept saying that we had to move on as other kids were waiting (only a few) but Santa kept asking him more and more questions - I think the two could have went on all night long! I fully expected Ryan to back down when it was his turn but he hopped right on up there and talked to Santa and answered his questions as well.
* Deep in conversation...

I guess Reid is past the "sit on Santa's lap" as he just stood and talked to him.

Ryan was right on the knee...

He did this a couple of times... stared at Santa and just took it ALL in.
Russ took the boys home and relieved the babysitter while I stayed and volunteered (filled drinks) for an hour. Then I walked home so Russ could get to a hockey game. I gave the boys their bath, read some books and they were OUT! I wasn't far behind them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

16 days until Christmas

WOW, is this month flying by or what? We're on our NINTH night of our Christmas Countdown already. Again (of course), it was a busy night for the McDowell's. I had a late conference call at work so got the boys picked up later than usual. When we got home I had to hurry to get dinner ready so Russ and Reid could head off to hockey practice. We did our calendar when Reid got home. Our activity was to "Make Rice Krispy Treats." The boys did great and they can really "help" more this year than they have before. Reid measured out the four cups of mini marshmallows without any help and I helped Ryan measure out the six cups of Rice Krispies. Reid and I stirred the ingredients on the stove and then both boys helped push the treats into the pan with the wax paper. As soon as we finished cooking we had to go watch Survivor! It was a later than usual night for the boys (9:00) but we're sticking with it!

And of course a few pictures...

I hadn't shown it this year yet... here is our famous calendar that we got two years ago and the boys helped us paint then and we've been using since...
It was Ryan's night to open the door...
And of course they ALWAYS act crazy when they read what's on the paper. This year we have been joking around with Ryan when it comes out. One night we told him that it said "spankings" so last night when he pulled the slip out he yelled "Spankings!"
And here's Reid helping me stir the butter and marshmallows and giving me one of his signature crazy poses. See the scratch under his nose - apparently he took a true nose dive at recess... OUCH!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Getting Closer to Christmas

For weeks now Ryan has been obsessed with the man that stands on the corner holding a sign for the Hot and Ready $5 pizza at Little Caesars. He's upset if the man is gone or if he doesn't see him and he asks tons of questions about the guy. He's been asking if we could get pizza from "the pizza guy" for a while now. So, Monday night's activity was "Pizza from the Pizza Guy." Reid chose to stay home with Russ and Ross and Ryan and I went to pick it up. We drove up and said hi to the guy and took his picture - I'm sure he thought we were a little wierd but that's okay :) We did ask him first and he tried to talk Ryan into getting in the picture with him as well but Ryan was not okay with that. After we said hi to him we went over to Little Caesars and picked up the pizza and breadsticks and it actually wasn't that bad. 3 large pizzas, 2 orders of breadsticks... $20... and my family of SEVEN all ate and we had leftovers!

On Tuesday night Ryan had his last soccer practice. For the second week (out of 8 weeks) he had an absolute fabulous night! There were no tears, whining, special requests, or ANYTHING! We got there and he went out and played and listened ALL NIGHT long. I spent the entire time following Ross around and it was EXHAUSTING! He wanted everything (other kids' water bottles, trash on the floor, another kids snack, etc) and screamed if he didn't get his way so I'd have to pick him up and move him somewhere else. Ryan took each water break and ran back on the field before I even saw him. After the practice they all got medals and he is very proud of his.
When we got home from soccer it was time to do our calendar. Tuesday night's activity was to view the e-mail videos that the boys received from Santa Claus. They were a HUGE hit.
This was Reid's video.
And this was Ryan's video.
I HIGHLY recommend the PNP site to all of my friends with kids!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekend of Counting Down

I'm trying to stay caught up with documenting our countdown this year but I'm sure I will slip on the weekends. Finding time to sit down for long enough to put together a thought just doesn't happen during the weekend. I get more time on the computer during my work day. I did stay up Friday night until after midnight watching a movie but I paid dearly for it - I skipped my run Saturday morning (boo).

Friday night I was determine to get a few pics of the boys since I hadn't with our other nights yet. Our activity was to deliver our Christmas plates of cookies to neighbors and then watch "How The Grinch Stole Christmas." Ryan has been very into this book lately so I had picked it up knowing it would be a big hit. After delivering cookies and putting on our pajamas we popped some popcorn and snuggled up to watch the movie. It was actually the perfect length - 26 minutes! Ryan was able to watch the whole movie without getting squirmy and it didn't delay bedtime too much. Reid and I shared some popcorn and snuggled and Dad and Ryan did the same.

Saturday's activity - EPIC FAIL! The idea was that we would go down and eat at Buca Di Beppo and see the plaza lights. As we were driving down I called to see if they took call ahead seating and found out that they were booked the ENTIRE night. They weren't taking any walk ins. Apparently everyone had the same idea as we did because we ended up in a ton of TRAFFIC on the plaza and there were a lot of carriage rides going on. The lights were pretty but the van full of passengers was hungry. We ended up driving south calling and stopping at several restaurants and found nothing with less than a 45 minute wait and by this time it was 7:00. We settled on Culver's. It was nothing special and patience was short. We ate and headed home. Definitely something we will plan better next time. Hockey Ross and Tyler were with us so we're guessing they won't be taking us up on an offer to go out to eat again anytime soon.
Last night (Sunday 12/5) we were ready for something a little more low key. The activity was to read books about Christmas by the fireplace. We picked out six of our winter/holiday/Christmas books and piled up pillows by the fireplace and read them before bed while eating popcorn of course.
The calendar is much harder to manage this year. We have different bedtimes, bedtime routines and activities... but I am determined to see it through - and the boys really do enjoy it. A few things up this week - rice krispy treats, pizza from the pizza guy, shopping for siblings... stay tuned!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Missing husband and other fun stuff

I've been joking about it but I really think I'm going to open a missing person report. Has anyone seen my husband? He's around 5'9", 160 pounds (it's okay to hate him for that), short to no hair... anyway. His dirty clothes are appearing in the house and food is disappearing but he doesn't seem to be around this week. Monday night he had hockey, Tuesday night he had night class, Wednesday he worked until after 7pm, Thursday night he had night class... it's been a busy week!

Our house is a mess of projects right now. We've got two trees up but neither is decorated and we have no outside lights up yet (and this weekend is predicted to be COLD!). Last Sunday I got the idea to REALLY clean the boys' bedrooms and rearrange the furniture since I had gotten them new bookshelves. We got the furniture rearranged, the books sorted to the appropriate child based upon age, etc and the rooms vaccuumed. Then we had to leave to take Courtney to the airport and what I didn't get to were the toys. Ryan has a small pile on the floor of his closet, Ross needs some passed down to him for his new toy holder, and Reid... well his floor is COVERED with toys that need gone through. We could simply pick them up BUT they need sorted, weeded out, passed on - a job only a mom can do - but I can NOT find the time to do it.

So, with a missing husband and a list of projects... what do I do? I decided to add on to my list of projects. I sold our washer/dryer on Craigslist QUICKLY. I am finishing up as much laundry as I can today so they can be picked up tomorrow. The laundry room, half bath and front door are getting painted on Tuesday and then I need to find a new set to be delivered. I need to pick out which set I want, find paint colors... OH MY!

Oh yeah, and the point of this post... we're still doing our Christmas countdown every night. Last night our activity was to "Make Cookies." We made lots and lots of kinds. I think several batches could have spent a few extra minutes in the oven, probably due to the fact that we had several sheets in there at once. We had fun though. I forgot to get any pictures of the boys helping, but here are a couple of pictures of our results.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

For the third year in a row, our family will be doing a countdown to Christmas activity every night. We began last night with "writing letters to Santa." A friend of mine had told me about this cute kit for writing letters that was $1.00 at Michael's so I picked up three of them. Here are the boys' letters:

In case you don't have much practice with first grade spelling and handwriting... This is what Reid's says: I am Reid. Could I have a nerf stampede? Could i have the game Loops, Sorry Revenge? Your friend, Reid.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hockey, hockey, hockey

There's been a WHOLE lot of hockey going on at our house lately. Floor hockey, knee hockey, hockey games, lessons, practices, etc... There's no escaping it - we are a hockey family. I think Ross has caught on to that quickly too... he now walks around ALL the time carrying a hockey stick. He carries it around, finds a ball, hits the ball and then cracks up laughing. It's really quite funny. I haven't caught a video of him hitting the ball yet but below is one of him just walking around with his stick while Reid was practicing spelling something.

Ryan and dad were partners here...

Reid being silly...

Ross wasn't playing this time - just sitting on the couch, but I liked the pic...

And I took this one of us sitting together... His personality is really coming out and he's such a ham!