It’s a Girl!

September 30, 2008 at 10:21 am (Fun Stuff, Kids)

At long last we have been able to add a little girl to our family!

 

 

Oh, I’m sorry, were you thinking something else?! 

We are watching a friend’s daughter this week. Not only do we get the much anticipated girl, but we also get that set of twins that I used to think I wanted!

It’s been a lot of fun to have an extra girl around the house, but I have to admit that I am totally clueless about things like doing hair. I’m afraid that she gets the same treatment as the boys. Hopefully her mother will recognize her when she gets back.

 

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Look who’s 1!

August 6, 2008 at 11:14 am (Kids)

 

 

It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since our youngest boy came home with us. I would like to report on all of his teeth and his walking skills, and how big he is, but I’ll save that for the day that he actually has more than one tooth, is big, and can walk! I think he likes having his older brothers do everything for him, and I’m in no hurry to have him walking while we’re in Florida. The less mobile he is, the better! He is definitley the smallest of the three boys, but I’m hoping that will change by his 15 month check up. He seems to be eating a lot more, and he finally seems to understand the sippy cup.

I decided to make this cake because I couldn’t deal with the selt-imposed guilt of the store bought cake. This time though, I was smart and just made an individual cake plus cup cakes. This may be my new birthday strategy. I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, except for the fact that forgot to level off the bottom, and so I spent a good deal of time trying to keep the cake from falling over.
 
The big brothers celebrating
The big brothers celebrating

As parties go, this one was pretty low key. Just the family, one gift and a lovely rendintion of Happy Birthday. I’m trying not to take it too personally that Ben’s was the only birthday not to make it into the family blog, but I can’t be too upset since it took me over a week to post about it here! (Thanks Charlotte!) Kudos to Ingrid though for calling and wishing him a happy birthday! One is a tough year to really call since obviously the birthday boy’s participation is limited to drooling all over the phone!

 

So, here’s to another great year. Hopefully the cake will be a little less messy at party #2!

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A Milestone

July 25, 2008 at 10:21 am (Kids)

The whole class working on their kicking

The whole class working on their kicking

Contrary to my boys’ constant assertions, they could not actually swim. With this summer’s beach reunion looming, we felt it necessary to at least get them comfortable enough with the water to know that they should be scared of certain situations.

Samuel blowing bubbles

Samuel blowing bubbles

There was a friend of a friend who was teaching lessons at her home, and she taught both boys every day for three and a half weeks. I was a little nervous when my boys started screaming like little girls on the first day, but they eventually improved. In fact, William fell in love with his teacher’s daughter! Now, there is no more screaming, and Samuel loves hanging out at the pool without arm floaties.

Samuel loving his goggles

Samuel loving his goggles

The true test came when we were at the pool and a bigger kid grabbed Samuel by accident and pulled him  under. Normally this would have caused a lot of water swallowing and vomiting. Not this time. Samuel blew bubbles and was just a little shaken. Worth the money right then and there!

William working the Spiderman goggles

William working the Spiderman goggles

I’m still not super excited about all the sand and salt water at the beach, but I am feeling a little more comfortable.

Ben just loves to float around the pool

Ben just loves to float around the pool

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100 Easy Lessons?

April 1, 2008 at 1:42 pm (Kids)

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

So, we have been using the book, Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I’ve been waiting to post about this until I actually convinced myself that we would finish the book. Today we did lesson 63, and now I feel like the end is in sight!

Doug has been very worried about making sure our 4 year old would be a good reader by the time he enters school. This was really prompted by his competitive side when he saw a little girl reading the sacrament prayer out of the scriptures at church one Sunday.

“How old is I.,” he asked

“She just turned 5,” I replied

“Crap, we’re going to be way behind!”

Ah… nothing like the love of learning for learning’s sake!

My problem then became, where do we begin. We taught Samuel his letters ages ago, but then we were sort of stuck. I didn’t know what the logical progression was when it came to reading. Samuel isn’t one of those boys who could figure it out all by himself (although, freakily enough he can figure math out by himself).So, my wonderful sister-in-law Ingrid recommended the 100 Easy Lessons book. Now, she didn’t actually use this book herself because her children are actually self-taught geniuses, but she knew someone who had had some success.

Off I went to Amazon and got myself the book. One of the things I really like about this book is that it is all scripted out. It tells you everything you’re supposed to say to your child. It gives you pronunciation guides, things to say when they do everything right and things to say when they make mistakes. I just wish it gave me something to say for when my kid is staring at the ceiling saying, “No, no it’s just too hard. I can’t read.” When I tell him he needs to look at the words to be able to read I just get a nasty look! There is also practice writing at the end of every lesson.

The other thing I like is that we’re always finished the lessons in 15 minutes. It’s not too much. Well, sometimes it is too much, but that’s probably more about my lack of sleep than my child’s ability. As a friendly hint: if any of you are thinking of trying this, the time to do reading lessons is not right before bed! We’ve had a few meltdowns when we’ve left it until the end of the day. My favorite time is right after lunch when the other two are napping.

I am amazed at the things that Samuel is able to read after two months. Just today his reading lesson involved a charming little story about a man, who couldn’t see, taking his gun to go shoot a deer. It was so tender! Yeah, so the stories seem a little out of date, but hey he’s reading them! Now, I don’t think this new-found skill is really genius on my son’s part, I just think it’s proof that persistence pays off, and it pays off better when there’s an actual organized plan involved.

However, now I think we did this a little early. I was hoping to to be able to sneak Samuel into school this year, but apparently the school-board is very strict with it’s cutoff date, so now I have to go find some more learning tools for when we’re done with the reading next month. Any ideas?

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Selective Amnesia

March 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm (Fun Stuff, Great deals, Kids)

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Sometimes my kids fool me into thinking that they really are this adorable. I look at this picture of two brothers helping each other make dessert. They look so innocent, so sweet, so unlike the little destructors (I know it’s not a real word, but it so fits them) that they were for most of the day. I think I choose to forget so that I can make it through the day without eating all of the chocolate in the house! I don’t think there’s enough memory on my computer to list everything that they got into, or every mess that they made.

When they put their little aprons and chefs’ hats on I forget everything! As a shout out to my mom, these apron and hat sets are from Pampered Chef and are in their outlet for only $8 … that’s for both! I think it’s a great deal. If you want to check it out, click here. 

For the record, they’re making the Pioneer Woman’s Apple Dumplings. If you’ve ever been over to see the Pioneer Woman, a visit is highly recommended. She’s not exactly low-fat, but hey, you only live once, so you might as well enjoy real butter! The apple dumpling recipe is here. The thing I love about TPW is that she uses stuff hat most people already have on hand. There are certainly no trips to the specialty market required. If you’re browsing her site, make sure you also check out the cinnamon rolls. I’m a little dough challenged, but these work out every time.

Alright, now I’m hungry. Off to make dinner!

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Take Me to Your Leader

March 12, 2008 at 3:59 pm (Kids)

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So, this is how one goes about getting a super fancy helmet to guide the growth of a misshapen head. First, a sock is placed on the aforementioned misshapen head, then some sticky thing-a-ma-bobber is placed on top so that the very star trek like laser has some kind of reference point. Then, the very nice lady hands the baby a two dollar light up toy (which my 36 year-old boy managed to break!) to distract him from the laser beam. When she finishes scanning, the image appears on a computer screen, and from that image some people in Phoenix make a custom molded helmet of what the baby’s head should look like. It’s like AutoCAD for infants. Then, all you need is three months, and hopefully the head comes out looking like the helmet.

Unfortunately for our wallet and our baby’s sensitive head, our baby is some kind of growing superstar. He has already outgrown his helmet! The neurosurgeon said that he should be fine, and not to worry about it anymore. There was however, a lot of hemming and hawing before she came up with that answer. So, I decided to take the baby for his final helmet appointment just so that I could make sure everything was as it should be. It turns out that in the space of two weeks the baby regressed 2 mm. Now 2 mm isn’t really all that much, but apparently it’s enough to worry the helmet people. I’m not sure if these people work on commission or what, but there are a whole lot of differing opinions as to the necessity of a brand new helmet. If this 2 mm is going to throw off my son’s symmetry and make it impossible for him to find a wife, than I’m all for him getting a new helmet. I don’t really want ladies attracted to him solely for his brain; they’ve got to think he’s gorgeos too! It’s a tough world out there for geniuses, and you’ve got to take all the help you can get!

Now, I’m just wait for the helmet people to talk to the head people to see if they can come up with some kind of consensus. Hopefully we won’t need another helmet, but if we do, I’m getting a whole new design. I’m thinking maybe solar system this time. Of course, I am in Texas, and they do offer a camouflage version …  

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Throw me something mister!

February 12, 2008 at 6:34 pm (Family, Fun Stuff, Kids)

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Does anything say family vacation like Mardi Gras?! We’ve done Disney, Yellowstone, Banff and Nova Scotia, but the French Quarter in February just may be the piece de resistance in family fun!

We arrived in Baton Rouge on Saturday afternoon, and spent some quality time with Doug’s grandparents. doug’s been working on a computer program for his grandfather, and he wanted to test out “phase 1.” On Sunday we headed off to church, and then for  little drive through the old neighborhood. After the old neighborhood we went through some very deluxe new neighborhoods that weren’t around when Doug was growing up. He also showed me his old elementary school.

Doug’s brother Scott and his family came drove up from New Orleans on Sunday night, and the boys watched the Superbowl together. Aimee and I checked out computer sites and played with the kids.

Monday was lundi gras which obviously is the precursor to mardi gras ( I had no idea about any of this. At my house Shrove Tuesday meant nothing more than pancakes for supper!). This was our parade day. For those of you who don’t know, mardi gras is not just Tuesday. It’s a whole week or two of activities, and they take place all over. We were going to attend the Orpheus parade and whatever one came right before it.

We drove into New Orleans after a quick stop for some Popeye’s Fried Chicken. I was a little paranoid about having my kids around all the craziness but it wasn’t at all like I thought … until later! For the parade we parked at a local high school for the bargain price of $25, but it was a deal because it included the use of the faculty restrooms.

After a very stern lecture to Samuel about the importance of holding hands we made our way one block to St. Charles street. This was the very beginning of the parade route. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I’ve seen some specials about spring break at mardi gras, but here we were there were a whole lot of families. In fact, I think Scott’s bishop was just a few feet from us with his family. I think that makes it an acceptable FHE! Unless of course you include the little girl asleep in the wagon next to us who is wrapped up around a bottle of Crown Royal!

So, the first float approaches; it’s all very exciting. Doug boosts Samuel onto his shoulders. Doug catches his first throw and hands the beads to Samuel. Then, that’s it; my son officially became a bead freak! All I hear is , “throw me something mister” and “I want some beads. Give me some beads, please.”  He’s yelling at the top of his lungs, and is very impressed with how much stuff he gets. He received many many beads and a beanie baby from Salt n’ Pepa, that’s right people, there were celebrities present. Later on in the evening I received some beads from Helio of Dancing with the Stars. I’m never parting with those! Also, I learned later that Orpheus is Harry Connick jr.’s parade, so part of me hopes that he was there, and I didn’t see him because he was in a mask.

After a couple of hours at the parade Scott and Aimee took our kids to their place so that we could go to the french quarter. Doug thought that it was important that I have the full experience so that I could make an informed decision. Well, no I’m informed, unfortunately my eyes are still burning! Here are a few lessons that I learned in the adult part of mardi gras:

1. No matter how well it’s done, body paint does not replace clothing.

2. Just because there’s someone dressed up like Elmo does not mean that children should approach.

3. Apparently liquor makes makes some very unattractive things bead-worthy.

4. Just because there’s a group there to “save your soul” does not mean that they won’t sneak a peak.

5. You should wear a pair of shoes that you’re ready to throw in the trash.

6. Mardi gras beads have a magical power all there own.

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I cannot tell you how many girls I saw dancing for some plastic finery who had absolutely no problem being video taped or photographed. It was very disturbing. Apparently the place wasn’t even all that busy, but it was total insanity to me. When I think mardi gras, it’s usually in a spring break girls gone wild kind of way. I usually fell a little old for this kind of thing. Well, let me tell you, you’re never too old at mardi gras. Let me clarify, I am too old, but there were lots of women who should have been home with there grandchildren, who were instead taking off their tops for beads. Not pretty.

After touring Soddom and Gomorrah we headed back to Scott and Aimee’s for some King Cake. She replaced the usual cream cheese filling with cherry pie filling. As Dora’s backpack would say, “Mmm mmm mmm, delicioso!”

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So, here’s my informed opinion: I think the parades, in the right neighborhoods, are completely family appropriate. I think some parades are better than others, but there’s usually a whole run down in the paper and on the internet. The french quarter however is appropriate for no one. Stay away, far far away! 

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I have a Dilemma

September 20, 2007 at 9:10 am (Kids)

 When I was younger we had the Fisher Price Little People Castle. We spent many an hour sending little men through the trap door, and raising and lowering the drawbridge.

A couple of weeks ago I took Samuel to the local toy store to look at what they had. I wanted to teach him about saving money, and using a small allowance. I was hoping that he would pick out a Thomas Train, and that after a couple of weeks of saving and some extra chores he would be able to buy one train. Instead he picked the castle below.

PLAYMOBIL® Rock Castle

This PlayMobil castle is $90! We give Samuel $3 a week for an allowance, so you can imagine how well this is going over in my house! Even with his extra dusting he’s only up to $8 in two weeks! I kind of want to get him the Fisher Price castle, and I can get the vintage one off Ebay for around $20, but Samuel wants nothing to do with it. He thinks it’s a girl castle, I don’t even know why he cares considering he spent a good chunk of the time we were at his cousins’ house running around in pink fairy wings!

I know I’m king of projecting what I want, but I really would like him to have the castle that I had (maybe it is a girl’s castle!?) If I can’t let him get the castle he wants, how am I going to be when it comes to picking out a wife (Oh no, Doug is right; I am going to be a horrible Mother-in-law!)?

Also, if I let him buy his castle should I make him foot the bill for the whole $90? After all, he will end up sharing it with his brothers. Does anyone have any ideas for other extra chores that a 3 year old can do. I don’t want to pay him for cleaning up messes that he makes, which has left me with wiping down baseboards and chair rail. Any advice would be much appreciated!

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Vacation

September 7, 2007 at 10:15 pm (Family, Good Deals, Kids)

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Maybe we’re a little crazy, but we decided to head to Florida in the middle of August with three kids, three and under, the youngest of whom was 4 weeks. My brother’s wife found an amazing deal to Disney, and we thought that it would be a good opportunity to see a lot of family all at once.

First, the deal:

6 nights in a one bedroom at Disney’s Saratoga Springs

One day at a Disney park for three of us (the two youngest were free)

2 meals and one snack a day for three of us. This included one table service (character meals included) amd one quick service. The table service meals included appetizer, entree and dessert and the tip. It was so much food that were trying our best to use up the credits on the last day!

We got all of this for $850. (That’s for our entire family)

Our first dinner on Sunday night would have come in at over $150. Kudos to Christie for the awesome deal. She’s ruined me for Disney vacations!

The first thing we did when we arrived in Florida was drive to Gainesville to visit with Doug’s brothers. Mike and Ingrid (Happy Birthday Ingrid!) had a baby a month before we had ours, and a double blessing seemed in order! It was great for our family, because a San Antonio blessing would have been a lonely affair for us. Thanks to Ingrid’s hospitality, we had two other Roberts brothers and their families, plus her family. I’m pretty sure, at one point, she had close to 30 people in her house for dinner. This is why it’s hard to be a roberts daughter-in-law: Ingrid just had an almost 12lb baby, plus three other young children, a husband doing his residency, a house full of guests, and she always had a smile on her face. Plus, as an aside, she’s a concert violinist. I don’t even try to compete!

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The 2 Baby blessing families. Ingrid is on the far right.

The blessing was wonderful, and my parents were able to make the drive, which made it all the more special for me.

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The 4 newest Roberts cousins!

 

Sunday afternoon we headed to Orlando. This is always kind of a hard trip for me to make because I used to work for the Mouse. Every time I go back I’m reminded that I’m no longer 19! I would pass by Vista Way and reminisce. I’d try and trace my steps(in my head) through the backstage areas. It’s somewhat bittersweet. But, there is a certain joy that comes from watching a three year old get to shoot aliens with Buzz Lightyear!

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 Samuel, Mike, Grandpa, & Brady

We didn’t tell Samuel that we were going to Disney until we were there, and I don’t think he really got it until we were inside the park! He loved Splash Mountain the most, but Buzz came in a close second! We only spent 1 1/2 days at the park, but that was more than enough for us. The hotel had great pools, and there were lots of cousins to play with. Plus Samuel had a movie date with his Grandpa!

Now, Doug originally agreed to this on the condition that there would be no more trips to Florida for a very long time, and that we would never again go in the Summer. Well, the joke’s on him. Next summer’s Roberts Family Reunion: Destin, FL in August!

p.s. We rented a Pacifica; they said there were 7 seat belts and room for 5 adults. That may be true, but there certainly wasn’t room for 3 car seats. It’s one of the most impractical cars ever!

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 William getting his money’s worth out of the meal plan!

 

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Princess Mackenzie

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