Semi-annual Clothing Change

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It’s time again to pack away outgrown clothes and get out the next size. Does anyone else have kids who insist on outgrowing their clothes with maybe a month left in the season? Perhaps it only seems like this at my house because the entire second half of the season I won’t put them in the next size up unless absolutely necessary, but when ankles are sticking out of pant legs and pajamas can no longer be zipped I am forced to break out the next size.

The semi-annual unpacking of hand-me-downs has become quite the production. The timing is dictated more by the fact that we no longer have any space to set aside for out-grown clothes rather than the actually change of seasons. I start by making sure every article of children’s clothing I can find is washed, at the same time, and sorting out anything that is too small. I do this at least twice within one week in an attempt not to leave anything out. This of course is futile as I will find stray outgrown clothes regularly over the next six months. I had more than two boxes of clothes that missed being packed up last time on this go-round. In fact some of them have missed probably two seasonal changes as I ended up putting them back in the drawer for the next child this spring.

After I have sorted out “all” the out-grown clothes I sort them by size and season. Now here is where the work gets tricky. I now bring down every box of clothing from the attic. I’ve just started doing this of this spring. We have probably 20 boxes of clothing up there. Most of them are diaper and paper boxes, but there are a few other sizes, just to make things really interesting. They all come down because over the last six months we have been up there picking through them as we find a need for various items, mostly dress clothes and pajamas. Although when I started packing away clothes for Ted it was very easy, everything for one size & season in one box, another size & season in another, it was now become more complicated. I not only have the wardrobe that my boys have worn but have also inherited the clothes from my cousin who is the same age as Ted and my nephew who is the same age as Kaelen. Larger sizes take up more space in boxes than baby clothes. Clothes stretch and shrink.

Now I need a box just for size 5 tee-shirts. But is that a 5T or a 5/6?

These rompers say 24 months but they don’t stay snapped in the crotch much after the boy out grows 12 months.

After filling these boxes nearly to bursting with 6 summer clothes and 7 summer clothes last fall I still had half a box of each, they had to go in a box together. But now I have ¾ of a box of size 7 summer clothes to mix in.

So everything comes down. I now re-sort all these boxes, putting things the most alike together, trying to pack away things that will be worn at the same time in the same box. I then cover the old labels with new ones and take everything back up to the attic, stacking everything in order of size—2t fall/winter, 2t pajamas, 2t spring/summer, 3t fall/winter and so on. The whole process takes at least a week of working on it daily.

Unfortunately it seems that this task can never wait until the season truly changes. For example, right now it is spring, but still snowing occasionally, and summer is just around the corner. The boys are not ready to have all their cold weather clothes packed away. Typically at least one of them needs pants and long sleeves in the next size up. But I also want to be prepared with some short sleeves and maybe even some shorts. It is Ohio, just because it is snowing today does not mean it will not be 70 for 4 days next week, and probably 35 the week after that. To add to the confusion we really need a additional dresser—not that we have any place to put it—as the older boys share a small children’s dresser. We hardly have space to keep out a wardrobe for the children that is large enough to last a week. I cannot get out too many “out-of-season” clothes. The space crunch results in unpacking partial boxes and setting aside other stuff away at different intervals throughout the year for different children. So in a month on so I will be going up stairs again to get out some summer clothes and pack away some winter clothes—and do you think I will be able to find what I am looking for?

Motherhood Judge & Jury

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 I don’t know what was going around, but I was struck down with a nasty cold virus that had me practically bed ridden for nearly 4 weeks. I finally am feeling better and got mostly caught up on my housework last week. Every time I looked at my blog I didn’t know what to write about to come back, finally some inspiration hit.

Earlier today an acquaintance on Facebook asked for a bit of parenting advice. I offered some based on my experience. A few other women responded along the lines of “don’t do that, you could hurt the baby.” I don’t know these women, I don’t know what their experiences as mothers are, and they don’t know me. They were not aggressive or rude in their comments, but what I felt like I was reading was something more like “you frickin’ moron, why on earth would would ever do something like that? Are you trying to kill your child or something?” Internally, I jumped into defensive mode, “I did this with all of my children, my mom did it with her children. Women have been doing this for centuries! What makes your way so much better?” Thankfully, my better judgment kicked in before I posted anything else. I realized that just like I was posting based on my experience, these women were posting based on their experience, whatever it is.

But why did I feel so defensive?

I think that our society has become VERY judgmental of today’s parents, especially today’s moms. Every decision we make is met with harsh and sometimes even threatening judgments. A woman who decides to nurse her hungry 6 month old under a blanket in public may end being accused being a horrible mom who is sexually abusing her baby, if for some reason her story ends up online. If that same woman offers an occasional bottle of formula so she can go out without the baby she is judged as a horrible mom who is abandoning and practically poisoning her child with formula, and destroying any chance that child has of being an honor roll student.

Breastfeed/bottle-feed, spanking/timeout, crib/co-sleep, stay-at-home-mom/working-mom, there are a myriad of decisions a parent has to make for each child. Parents, especially moms, become very passionate about some of these decisions. I think sometimes we become defined by our choices, we feel that an “attack” (i.e. different opinion) on our choice is an attack on us. We sometimes judge our own skill as a mother.

 I am certainly not guiltless in judging other moms by the choices they make. I have built myself up with thoughts of “I would NEVER do that! I’m a better mother than her!” But I try to remind myself, I am not that child’s mother, I do not know what that child and that mother are going through, I do not know what that child needs. I do not know whole story!

 I have also judged myself as inadequate because I don’t feed my children only organic snacks, my children did not potty train within two weeks after turning two, I have caved in to candy at the checkout just so my child will be quiet. I feel the judgment of other moms at Target, other moms on Facebook, and especially those moms out there writing for parenting magazines or doing segments on GMA, the women who earn a living being MOM. They have it all together. They would NEVER do that! They are better mothers than me! But, I try to remind myself, they are not my child’s mother, they do not know what my child and I are going through, they do not know what my child needs. They do not know whole story!

 Every child is different. Even with my own three boys I have made some different choices. Some choices I have made from my past experiences, some choices I have made because what worked great with one boy only made things worse with the next. Because each child is different it is foolish to judge the choices a parent makes while parenting one child against the choices a parent makes while parenting any other child, even if it is the same parent!

 So, try to remember, the only thing you need to know to pass judgment on all moms (including yourself):

 Is your child overall happy & healthy?

 If the answer is yes then it doesn’t matter if you breastfeed or bottle-feed, if you spanked or used timeout, if you used a crib or co-slept, if you are a stay-at-home-mom or are a working-mom. It doesn’t even matter if your child throws an occasional temper tantrum at Target or is snacking on only organic vegetables. Your child is happy and healthy:

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you are an amazing mom!

P.S.  One more thing to remember if you constantly feel like everyone else is a better mom than you:

The grass is always greener

Ultimate Diaper Rash Treatment

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With three boys I have treated my fair share of diaper rashes. Sometimes no matter how often you change the baby, or how generous you are with the diaper cream or powder, he is going to get a rash. We have always used Boudreaux’s Butt Paste and have been very happy with it.
Yesterday, however, my poor little man had six stinky diapers. After each one we had a little naked time to dry out, added a thick layer of butt paste, followed by powder, and diapered him back up only to discover an increasingly worse case of diaper rash at the next change. By the end of the day it was painful to even look at his poor red bottom. After we bathed him for the night I remembered something my mom mentioned just the other day from her time working in the hospital. Instead of putting on diaper cream and then powder we mixed them together first. This morning, despite being stinky again, the rash was almost completely gone. After another application this morning he was all healed up.
I have been changing diapers for seven years and I have never seen a case of diaper rash clear up so fast. I had also never heard of mixing the cream and the powder, so I thought I would pass it along.
Here’s to keeping that baby bottom as smooth as…well..as smooth as a baby’s bottom should be.

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The Penguinarium

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A few weeks ago Ted was studying penguins at school. He would come out of school waddle over to the car and tell us all about the new trivia facts he learned about penguins. I remembered there being this “huge” penguinarium at the Detroit zoo so on a day off the boys and I loaded ourselves into Nana’s truck and went with her to the Detroit zoo to see the penguins.
It was probably 15 years since I last visited the Detroit zoo. The penguinarium was not as big as I remembered, but it was still pretty cool. There are 3 types of penguins there: King penguins (which look like emperor penguins but not as big), Rockhopper penguins, and Macaroni penguins. We were lucky enough to be there at feeding time. Did you know, penguins will only swallow fish head first? It they swallow them tail first the scales will scratch their throats.

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The boys all thought the penguins where very cool and funny to watch. But our trip didn’t stop there. We went to just about every open building there. Jensen’s favorite was the reptile house. I think that was because it was warm enough in there to take off his coat and walk around. Also the animals were all at eye level in there. This long necked turtle was just as interested in Jensen as Jensen was interested in the turtle.

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A really neat exhibit is the Arctic Ring of Life. Oddly enough it started snowing as we stepped into the Arctic Ring and stopped as we exited. I thought the arctic foxes were just too cute!

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The exciting part of the exhibit is the underwater tunnel. There is space for both seals and polar bears to swim around and right over head in here. We spent a long time watching the seals, which were so kind as to delight my boys long enough for this great picture with Nana.

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The polar bear was all curled up off in the depths of his exhibit so we didn’t get to see much of him. He did stick his nose up in the air and sniff around when we walked by eating granola bars. The boys thought he might be hungry. He was not the only animal interested in our granola bars though:

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This peacock was very interested in us, especially Jensen. I would guess that he steals food from babies on a regular basis. He followed us from the Arctic Ring in the middle of the zoo almost all the way to the back where we visited the giraffes.

I don’t have any pictures of the giraffes, but I wish I had been able to get a good picture. The female giraffe was due any day now (I was unable to find any information on if she has delivered yet this morning). The poor thing looked so uncomfortable. She was hanging out in a more private area of the exhibit but we could see how large she was. As we were getting ready to go we also got to see the baby kick. I thought that was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Life is amazing, and this was pure life ready to come into the world.

 At one time there were a few wallabies at the Toledo Zoo, but there moved out when Nature’s Neighborhood opened, but it was nothing like the Detroit Zoo’s kangaroo exhibit. This is an open exhibit. The animals can hop right up to you if they want. One hopped right past Kaelen, within arm’s reach, while he read a sign. I was surprised how active the kangaroos were on such a cold day.

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 Even thought it was really cold we had a good time. I think we might go up again when it is a little warmer out. I would like to get a better view of the wolverine, which was one of Ted’s favorites even though we just saw a little tuft of fur, and see a baby giraffe. It’s (back) on the list of things to do.

Busy Winter Weeks

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Busy Winter Weeks

Wow, It was already been over a week since I posted–so much for trying for one a day. It has been a busy week. We had Tiger Cubs on Tuesday. I’ve starting party planning for my mom’s party. We went to the Detroit Zoo on Friday. We also celebrated with my grandma Land, Aunt Sue, and Uncle Kent & Aunt Barb Friday evening. Yesterday I drove up to Great Lakes Crossing to hit the children’s outlets. All this while everyone seems to be (mostly successfully) fighting off a cold/flu bug. We have been lucky that no one is curled-up-in-bed, I-can’t-move miserable, but everyone is a little run down and cranky.
I have not been completely remiss in my picture-taking though so here is a little catch up on our week:

Jan 13: Circle

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Sunday we went to Spaghetti Warehouse with Grandma & Grandpa, Ted made HUGE circles of spaghetti noodles on his fork. Watching him, we were reminded why we use bow tie noodles. Jensen had his first spaghetti noodles.  The first one he had he grabbed the two ends and took a bite out of the middle, but he quickly figured out how to slurp them up!

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Jan 14

I don’t have something yellow for Monday–but I do have another circle.  Kaelen and I played Wii Sports.  This is his golf swing:

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Yes, that is my four-year-old doing an airborne 360 for golf.  I may not know much about sports–but I’m pretty sure this is not usually seen on golf courses around the world.  But hey, he is off the couch and being active and that is all that really matters!

Jan 15: An Ordinary Moment

Just chillin’  waiting for Ted to get out of school.  Here is one of Kae’s many self portraits.

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Jan 16: Two Things

Take two peanut butter hearts add one baby and what do you get?

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A chocolate goatee

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Jan 17: Ready

Someone is ready for a nap! Ok, it’s Mommy.

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Jan 18: Shadow

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A shadow of a seal swimming overhead in the Arctic Ring of Life at the Detroit Zoo.  More on our adventures there to come–but the real camera is in the diaper bag, in the car, and it is -15 wind chill out.  I’m not making any extra trips outside today.

Jan 19: Delicious

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Ok, not my picture, but we did try out this new recipe for Chicken, Ranch, and Rice soup and it was very delicious. It was also pretty easy to make, which is a requirement in our home!  Check out the Picky Plate recipe here: http://picky-palate.com/2010/06/07/homemade-chicken-ranch-and-rice-soup/

Jan 20: Something you Saw

Sunday is Downton Abbey day here in the states.  Even though I finished watching the season 3 DVD set (contributor gift to PBS) Sunday during the day I still loyally tuned in at 9:00 to watch it on PBS.  It is hard to believe there are only a few weeks left and then we have to wait a whole year for season 4.

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Jan 21: What You Do

I am Mommy, I do many things.  Something I really enjoy doing, which I worked on this week, is party planning.  I love picking a theme and coordinating everything.  I think I use to drive my husband crazy with the collection of scraps of paper with supply notes on them all over the computer desk and internet images saved all over the desktop.  Then I found Pinterest…

I working on planning a birthday party for my mom.  I’m thinking a sort of peacock/game foul theme to coordinate with the regency era tavern which will be set up in our space.

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What does everyone think?  This is a collection of some of my pins for the party to check them out with the original sources visit my board: http://pinterest.com/cross321/mom-s-birthday-party/

Family Game Night

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Back when my husband & I were married Target was carrying a line of vintage style classic board games in wooden boxes. “Hey,” we thought, “We love games…we should register for some of these!” We ended up receiving Monopoly, Scrabble, and much to my delight, Clue. Growing up we did not own Clue but I loved playing it at my Mormor & Pa’s house. I loved the miniature murder weapons and the handmade envelope (the original had been lost) with a magnifying glass drawn by my mom on it. It had been a long time since we had played and so I was very excited to take it home and play with my new husband. I was so excited that I did not realize that to play Clue you need at least 3 players. So we quickly set to work on getting another player…
My oldest is now seven and very in to “Family Night.” It doesn’t matter much to him if what we do on family night is the same thing we do several nights/day a week, if we call it family night it must be extra special. He is coming of age to be playing board games. He especially likes Star Wars Monopoly even though he never gets very far into the game. We were looking together for a game to play and my eyes fell upon the forgotten Clue. At long last we had 3 players! Ted played Col. Mustard, Kae and I were Mr. Green, and Josh was Prof. Plum. The game started out well, I thought I was really on to something, until Ted revealed he had a card that I asked about several turns earlier. More than once he screwed up my strategy by (unintentionally) withholding evidence. The boys had a great time. I have no idea how many things Ted figured out, but he sure loved suspecting people. Kae really enjoyed moving the suspects and weapons into the different rooms when they were called. Josh won, of course it is easy to win when you are the murder.
Josh and I use to play games frequently before Ted got old enough that he wanted to steal all the pieces. Jensen is in that phase right now. Kaelen is a little too young for most of our games. Regardless, I hope this is something that we can do more often.

Ted with Clue

P.S. An update on Kaelen’s dislike of eating goulash. We made it up tonight, but combined all the veggies into a sauce (like spaghetti sauce) and he loved it.

Kaelen

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Four can be a very difficult age, but it is one of my favorites! The reason for both is the same: it is around four that you no longer have a baby or toddler, but a real person. Babies and toddlers are wonderful, and while they certainly have personalities, they have a limited   capability to really communicate or connect with other people. I think around four is when this little person starts to really tune into how others are feeling. They also become so much more independent. There is so much they can do for themselves. Kaelen makes his own sandwiches many days (it seems it is easier to make it himself then to ask Mommy nicely to make it for him). He is potty trained. He is able to pick up his clothes and make his bed, and will even do it without very much prompting sometimes!
Four is when interests start to emerge that are really personal. Babies and toddlers can to persuaded to be interested in whatever their parents or siblings are interested in (such as coordinating Halloween costumes), but once a four-year old makes up his mind, his mind is made, and there is not much to do to get him to change it. This is what can be very frustrating, but the personality is what makes it so much fun!
Kaelen turned four last year on Easter. I have learned so much about him since then. He really likes the Muppets, his favorite is Fozzie because he is funny. Kae has this amazing laugh when he watches or listens to the Muppets.
He asked for a kitchen last year for his birthday and again for Christmas. We got him a small stove top and he received food or dishes from just about everyone else. He has spent probably 80 hours cooking ice cream and goulash for everyone since then. He won’t eat goulash when I make it–but he loves to cook it.
He is going to be a photographer. He has liked taking pictures with our camera for a long time, but since we got our iPhones in the fall I am constantly finding series of photos of the ceiling and floor, blurry shots of the back of his hand or his eyes and forehead, and lots of pictures of Jensen. The pictures I am sharing today we took together while we were waiting for Ted to get out of school. I so treasure just getting to cuddle up with him to goof off and capture those smiles.

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