Wednesday, August 27, 2014

More Summer Outings

School has started here in Texas which means summer is winding down.  Of course it's still super mega hot, so it still feels like summer to me!  And I am 100% so glad I am not getting my little people ready for school yet!

Our summertime was full of trips to the pool and splash pad.  I am always amazed that people volunteer their time to help me on these outings, but we do have a good time!  What also amazes me is how differently the kids react to the water activities.  Levi will only sit on the edge of the pool and kick his feet (he's usually trying to get into the lifeguard supply closet) but he LOVES the splash pad.  Andrew and Caroline love it all.  Ben likes being splashed in the pool, but he and Allison are timid at the splash pad.  Leah loves being in the water and she likes it when I run with her through the misty splash pad stuff, but nothing too harsh.  And don't try to get any of them in cold water!  Can't blame them for that one though.

We ventured out to the Barnes & Noble children's area to read and play with their train table, but it turned out to be Batman Day (who knew?!).  Allison was scared of the employees dressed as Batman characters and Ben chased a boy in a red shirt around the store, besides that it wasn't bad for their first time in a store (Yes, it was their first time in a store- not an easy feat).  They even used their walking rope through the store and didn't wander off! 

Art Class

Some of us got on the cooking show!
Cooking Class

Houston Mom's Blog put on a playdate at the Young Leaders Campus in Tomball where they participated in a gym class, art class, and "cooking" class (i.e. dumping snacks in a ziploc bag).  Definitely a different experience, but the kids had fun and they did great using their walking rope for transitions and in parking lots.  Andrew may or may not have stolen an extra box or two of raisins in the cooking class.  Levi did not like stickers on his artwork and he wasn't able to complete the gym activity as he was too distracted by the large mirrors and practicing his latest poses.  Pretty sure the mini marshmallows were everyone's favorite part of the day!  After the class we found a local park for a quick picnic lunch.  They loved walking through the leaves and the train that passed by!

In between all of our local outings, we headed to Austin for a weekend visit with Dave's parents.  The 3 hour drive felt like nothing after Colorado!  We spent most of the time outside- in the pool, chalking up the patio, and exploring the big backyard.  Dave and I even got to go out for dinner one night :)  The kids had a great time and handled everything really well.  Anytime we're driving now, the big boys point out every. single. truck. no matter the size.  And if we see a train it's a chorus of "choo choo!" from all 3 rows.  Laurie Berkner cds are also a saving grace on our road trips.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sing Along

In this house we love music and dancing, especially silly dancing.  The kind of silly dancing when you act out the lyrics and be goofy like no one's watching.  And by we I mean the kids and I.  Dave only loves 90s alternative rock and Dave does not dance.  Period.

So, what's the point of this post?  Put up YouTube videos of us goofy dancing to awesome music?  Riiiight.  Like I want that on the internet.

I really just wanted to chronicle all of our most favorite toddler songs.  I sing most of these on a daily basis either around the house, while eating snacks, or on our walks.  The kids don't really sing along yet, but they know all the motions.  The classic ones and the ones I've choreographed (I was on the drill team in high school.  So I know what I'm doing.)

The Classics

  • Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • If You're Happy and You Know It
  • 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes
  • 5 Monkeys Teasing the Alligator
  • Old McDonald Had a Farm
  • I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee
Laurie Berkner (the modern genius of toddler music as far as I'm concerned)
  • Buzz Buzz
  • Whatdya Think of That? (we call it The Dinosaur Song)
  • I'm Gonna Catch You
  • Pig on Your Head
  • These are My Glasses
  • Victor Vito
Raffi (my 2nd favorite genius of toddler music)
  • Willaby Wallaby (again, I use the Pack's names.  They love it.)
  • Peanut Butter Sandwich (I use Benjamin instead of David M.)
  • Brush Your Teeth
  • Aikendrum
Veggie Tales
  • Where is My Hairbrush?
  • Achoo Moo Moo
  • God Made You Special (This is a book.  I rap it.)

There you have it!  The Perkins Pack recommended song list for a 2 year old.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Toddler Tidbits

Yet another dump of the latest tidbits....Enjoy!

  • Leah has been a little rockstar lately!  She has made slow, but steady progress in all areas.  We are so proud of all of her hard work!  And her hair is finally growing in and it. is. CURLY.
  • Allison is still my little Smidge and needs to get back on her growth curve, but she is moving in the right direction now.  She also tested out of ECI services!  That means she's not far enough delayed in any area to qualify for services.
  • They are all enamored with Signing Time and have started using signs to communicate, as well as a few new words! Amazing how quickly they picked it up.
  • Andrew and Levi have put 2 word phrases together: "more balls" and "uh oh ball" and "bye bye Dada"
  • Not progress, but fits in with the medical stuff... Ben had his first sick visit to the pediatrician- infected bug bite.  It was pretty nasty and thankfully chocolate milk hid the taste of the medicine.  
  • We have hit the stage of separation anxiety.  Some more than others, and only when I leave or drop them off at church.

  • Swim days are back again!  We've been hitting up the neighborhood pool almost every week with various volunteers who help me keep an eye on everyone.  Caroline is my little fish with no fear.  The others like to get in and out and walk around a lot.  Leah loves lounging in the baby pool.
  • Sidewalk chalk- they LOVE it!  I wish it wasn't so stinkin hot outside so we could use the chalk more often.

  • Finger painting- we have tried this once and it was such a mess my grandma said we can't do it again when she's at the house :/

  • Church.  It's nothing new, but we are now walking in using our walking rope!  They are doing so well with it and I am so proud of them!  We even got compliments on how well behaved our twins are ;) 

Around the House:
  • They have learned dog food is for the dog and not people.  They think it is so fun to hand feed Maggie, and Maggie does not complain.  They also think it is fun to throw dog food everywhere.

  • Caroline and Allison attempt to untie my grandpa's shoes every time he's here; they were even upset one day when he wore shoes with no laces- how dare he!

  • The boys (especially Ben) love to jump in their cribs, but no one has tried to climb out yet. 
  • They like to put trash in the trashcan, especially their dirty diapers!  Allison will only throw her own diapers.  When I give her someone else's she shakes her head and holds her nose like she's saying "No, that one's stinky."
  • They have also been helping me put dirty clothes in the hamper, switch clothes from the washer to the dryer, and pick up everything they throw around during nap time tidy up their rooms.  Generally, the cleaning up skills have been improving!

  • Pretend sleeping (this may or may not be my favorite game).  They pretend to be asleep, I say "Oh fill in the blank is so sleepy", they pop their heads up and think it is so hilarious.  Caroline has even developed a decent fake snore!
  • They give each other hugs- mostly when we ask them to, but still, so cute.
  • Allison has shown beginnings of the Perkins Pout (only cute because she's 2)... she folds her arms and full on pouts if she feels she has been wronged.  
  • They'll do anything for a raisin.
  • Andrew says hi and bye to anyone and everyone and ooooohhh when he's excited about something.
  • Ben cuddles with his giraffe stuffed animal from the NICU
  • When Levi is bored of you he says "Bye Bye!" and walks off.  Probably to go pose in front of a reflective surface.  or vacuum.  or be a singer/songwriter with his guitar.
And with that I bid you "uh Bye Bye!" in my best Levi voice.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Perkins Pack in Pagosa

WE DID IT!  2 adults, 6 toddlers, 18 hours in the car (each way), and a week at Gammy and Pop's house in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

A few weeks ago Dave and I decided we did not want to miss out on our annual summer trip to Pagosa.  We knew we'd be fine once we got there since we could stay with my parents and that'd be 4 adults around all the time.  We just had to survive the 2 travel days (yes, we drive 18 hours in one day). So, there was the goal.  Just live through the travel days.

Much like last year, my mom really helped us out before we even got there.  She was able to borrow 6 pack n plays and quite a few toys and books.  She also bought 2 plastic toddler sized tables so I didn't have to bring booster seats.  All of this saved us TONS of space in the van which was essential as it was completely crammed with stuff anyways.  I followed all of my tips I wrote about on Houston Mom's Blog and glad I did!

This year I was so excited that the kids are 2 and officially old enough to take motion sickness medicine.  As we learned last year Caroline has a tendency to get car sick.  So as we pulled away from our home at 4:45 am with 6 groggy kids, I decided to just see how it went before giving out the Dramamine.  BAD idea.  It started about 7:30 am with Andrew and the tell-tale sound of vomit.  This is about the same time they all started throwing off their bibs I planned to use as vomit catchers.  A few minutes after Andrew, Caroline joined in on the fun.  Then it was Leah.  Then Allison.  And Caroline and Andrew decided once just wasn't quite enough.  In the mean time I was busy administering medicine and cleaning up.  Then it hit me in the middle of bouncing between rows.  As I grabbed the closest plastic bag (I travel with PLENTY), Dave looks in the rear view with a slight panic and says, "I'm pulling over!  We need a break!"  All by 8 am.  NOT a good start.  Turns out a little break was just what we needed.  Cleaned everyone up, medicine kicked in, we were good to go.  After that things went much more smoothly.  The kids were not interested in the toys I brought, but were entertained with music and a few interjected books and songs performed by yours truly.  Oh, and the snacks.  I pre-made all of the travel meals and snacks so we wouldn't have to stop for food.  This worked out great!  And nothing was very messy, unless you are Allison Perkins who can turn anything into a mess.  This time around we had Eggos, grilled cheese, peanut butter and jelly, apple slices, pretzel sticks, cheerios, raisins, chewy granola bars, and mini marshmallows.  And my personal secret candy stash to use as needed.  Throughout the entire day of driving we only made 2 big stops where we let the kids out to walk around (about 5 min each, 2 kids at a time) and change diapers.  They hated being put back in the car seats, but we had no time to waste!  Honestly once the vomiting was under control, the rest of the 1st travel day wasn't too bad.

As we were driving, Dave and I questioned whether it was worth it.  As soon as we arrived at the house, we knew it was.  The kids had a BLAST!!!  They immediately dug into all of the toys and ran around squealing (I'm sure it had nothing to do with freedom from the car seat).  We let them play for awhile then did a much needed pajama change (they travel in pajamas) and off to bed.  The 5 were in one room and Leah stayed with Dave and I.  They all slept so well the entire trip- even naps!  I really think they were just that worn out from being so busy the whole time.  The kids truly enjoyed being at the house.  From the basement to the deck to the driveway to the living room- they ran around everywhere.  It was so nice to let them play outside and not worry about heat strokes!  They did everything from sidewalk chalk to coloring to inflatable pool to library time to playing at a local park to throwing rocks and having a picnic on a lake.  They handled transitions well and had so. much. fun. the entire time.

Driveway drawing

Library Toddler Time

throwing rocks in William's Lake

Picnic at the lake

Eating at Gammy and Pop's

Running around the deck
Dave and I also had a wonderful time and were sad to leave.  We LOVE it there!  What was nice about staying with my parents is that we all got a break away from the kids at some point.  One morning my mom and I went on a hike to a gorgeous lake.  The next day Dave and my dad went fly fishing; they were supposed to catch our dinner, but came up very very short ;)  As an early anniversary (7 years!) date, Dave and I were able to hike to the top of Table Mountain to soak in 360 views and later that evening go out to dinner just the two of us.  A rare treat indeed!

Dave on top of Table Mountain

Dave's big catch

Beautiful Crater Lake- where my mom and I hiked
The drive home was a tad quicker at 17.5 hours, but much less fun.  One reason is that we were headed back home to work, to-do lists, and mountains of laundry.  Another reason is that 3 of the kids were SO. WHINY.  Here were the positives I could think up: it's only 3 of them being whiny instead of all 6, they were only whiny from noon-8:30pm not the entire trip, and snacks quieted them down for a very short time.  Needless to say, they ate a ridiculous amount of snacks that day.  My entertaining skills worked a bit, as did pointing out trains and trucks and playing cds.  However, a few times I did have to hide in the back row where the whiners couldn't see me.  You do what you gotta do people.  We were very glad to pull into our driveway and put those kiddos straight in their cribs!

Are we there yet?

To wrap up, we had a wonderful trip!  We cannot wait to go back next year and every year after that.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Life as 2-year-olds

Since the last update we've been more low key, but that also means I've been awful about taking pictures and videos!  Regardless of our low keyness, they are busy little people these days! They're into everything, climbing (or trying to), opening drawers, pushing buttons (literally and figuratively), and making big messes with toys and food.  Even though they can really test my patience with the whining and disobeying, it's still fun... most of the time.  They're learning more and more each day to communicate, participate in games and songs, and be aware of each other.  Even with Leah- Caroline, Allison, and Andrew will go "check on Leah" by patting her and when she vomits they'll hand us rags to clean it up.  Every now and then they'll bring her one of her toys- just warms my heart.  

One interesting observation (to me) is that despite a mix of toys throughout the house and no push towards any particular toy or cartoon character, the girls are more interested in girly stuff and the boys are more interested in the boy stereotyped toys.  The girls will also sit for nail cutting and hair fixing while the boys give me a wrestling style workout.  

Ben was curious about the girls' tutus... not a fan.
Andrew's the tallest and can climb on all the furniture, reach stuff off the counter, and has about figured out how to open doors.  He and Caroline love to play hide and seek and feed each other at the table.  Andrew continues to steal everyone's toys and be in time out the most, but he also loves to give hugs- Ben is a great hugger too.  Caroline continues to have her regular meltdowns and frequently doesn't make it through lunch without being put to nap early.  BUT she has begun to say all done at lunch instead of throwing everything- such a better indicator of nap readiness!  Ben has taken up singing lately (mostly series of ohs and doos), but Levi will not be outdone in the music category- he's started singing "e i e i o" (emphasis on the oooo).  Allison loves to be a helper and even throws away dirty diapers now :)  She also knows her colors.  

They're all into marching, trying to jump, and guiding adults around by the finger.  They love being chased and running after each other.  One way I like to include Leah is by pushing her around to chase the others, sometimes they'll "help" push her too.  They all love coloring right now and on rainy days I've been laying sheets of paper on the floor for lasting entertainment.  We have had a few incidents of crayons on non-paper surfaces, but nothing too drastic yet.  Caroline and Andrew are big into building with Stackadoos, but they all enjoy it.

Rainy day coloring

They're all crazy for raisins!  I require them to sit quietly on the floor to get a raisin or two, and several times a day you will see 5 toddlers sitting on the kitchen floor waiting for raisins.  We've all been enjoying water activities lately.  They love playing in our backyard inflatable pool, and after some initial cautiousness, they're loving the neighborhood splash pad too.

All trying to "Get Daddy!"

The end of May was full of doctor appointments.  All the kiddos went to the dentist and had great checkups.  They really love brushing their teeth and were even pushing each other to get to the exam room first!  Leah sees most of her specialists every 6 months, so we were due to make the rounds.  As I like to say, you know you're going to TCH too much when the valet people know who you are.  She's been putting weight back on well and has been making steady progress all around.  We met with her new neurologist and he had actually reviewed her records and imaging before the appointment.  He was very pleased with her progress.  He also said based on her history and brain images that she is amazing and must be happy and hard working. It was nice to hear, even if I already knew all that :)

Below are a few videos for your enjoyment.  Apparently Caroline has been hanging around me lately as she's in every video!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Outings

As our day-to-day life has been slightly less hectic lately, we've had time to get out and about!  They have generally done well during our outings.  Granted I don't go anywhere without extra adult support, but the number of adults I need has decreased.  And of course we do have issues, but nothing I don't expect from a bunch of 2-year-olds- scattering, wandering, tiny tantrums and the like.  We have been practicing with our walking rope with our goal being to do outings all walking together with no scattering and wandering.  Definitely a work in progress.  However, it's worth the effort to watch them experience new things- whether they squeal with excitement or cry in protest.  We live and we learn!

Crocodile Encounter
We went to a neighbor's 5th birthday party at Crocodile Encounter in Angleton, TX.  Who knew there was an alligator farm so close to home??  It was actually a really neat place and very safe.  The only animals you could possibly come in contact with were the giant tortoises, but that was intentional- we got to run around with them and Caroline was brave enough to feed them!  Definitely all of our favorite part.  They were somewhat interested in the alligators.  They followed along the tour fairly well and we only had to recruit 2 other adults to help us corral them.  We didn't make it through the entire tour- had to cut it short for a snack and trip home for a nap.  Had to beat the toddler crankiness!

Caroline feeding the tortoise 

Checking out the alligators

Block Party
The same day as the birthday party our neighborhood section had its annual block party.  It is super rare that we take on two outings in one day, but I decided to go for it.  Mainly because the block party was just down the street and the kids' best friend was going too.  The kids had fun running around, getting in the kiddie pool (fully clothed), and begging for food.  The boys also had great fun pushing the limits on how far they could wander off.  Andrew was even caught knocking on front doors with the best friend!  We headed home for bed time and those kids were wiped out after a full day of parties.

Water Fun
What's summer without water activities- especially when it's miserably hot?!  We've wasted no time getting the kids used to water.  Every weekend we bust out the inflatable pool in the backyard- it's big enough for all 8 of us and even has a slide.  Leah loves to float and relax in the water, and the others love to splash and slide.  We all have a blast every afternoon we spend in our little pool!

But sometimes we need a change of scenery.  Luckily the neighborhood's splash pad and one of the big pools is just a short wagon ride away from our house.  I'm definitely not comfortable going either place without extra adult support, but fortunately I have been able to convince people to tag along :)  Caroline is shaping up to be my water baby- she loves it and doesn't show any fear.  Ben tends to have more fun running around than being in the water.  Alli, Andrew, and Levi go in and out.  Leah loves the pools, but not the splash pad- sudden sprays of water startle her.

Animal Fun
I was so proud of Dave and I after we completed our first outing as a family of 8 with NO help!  No one tagging along or meeting us there or waiting to hear from us if we got into trouble.  Just taking the kids to the zoo with a picnic lunch afterwards.  The only way we made it through the outing was the stroller.  The kids were fine sitting in it while we strolled the zoo and ate lunch.  We got the typical amount of attention and questions.  The biggest difference this time was that the kids were actually interested in the larger animals- especially the elephants and monkeys.

Our county's ECI chapter puts on several fundraising family fun events each year.  We recently attended our first one- Barn Bash!  It included pony rides, train rides, hay rides, bounce house, face paint, balloon animals, auctions, a fun band, and of course a dinner!  The kids did all the rides and each one received mixed reviews.  Pony rides took some getting used to (Caroline threw a fit and missed out on this one), train rides were ok until they couldn't see me anymore, and everyone was fine with the hay ride- even Leah got to ride that one :)  Of course everyone's favorite was the dinner!  They did fantastic at sitting at the table eating from their own plate.  I brought along some kitchen shears for cutting food and their usual straw cups to reduce spilling.  Once they had cleaned their plates, we headed back home.

Alli on the big horse

Biker Ben

Ready for the train ride

Get us off this thing!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Houston Dad's Blog!

For the first part of June, the Dads have taken over Houston Mom's Blog!  We gave them free reign to write about whatever they wanted.  Dave was chosen to kick off the series!  I am so proud of him for not only participating, but writing a truly amazing post about being a father.

Check it out HERE!!  It's really a must-read!  And I'm not biased or anything ;)