Thursday, July 29, 2010

Our basement preschool/playroom

I finally got it started. After watching the Lowes and Walmart discount paint and storage sections and buying things and 75%-90% off, I finally had enough supplies to get started on decorating our basement space.

I am so excited. The kids are so excited and we are all liking how it is evolving.

Tuesday, all 3 boys took naps and Precious Jewel and I started moving furniture away from the walls. We also cleared out the junk closet by the back door.

We then tackled her desk and our bookshelf that had housed all her kindergarten home school supplies. I pulled out an old art box of mine that had "How to Paint Horses and How to Paint Dogs and How to Paint with Watercolor" and so on. I've been saving these for the child that has shown the most interest in art. She definitely fits the bill. = D
There she is in the background with Mr. Smiles sitting at our little table. Both were engrossed
in coloring and crafting and their "new" locations.

Here's what our art corner looks like with the closet closed. I set up an easel on an old chair that I've been wanting to get rid of because it just takes up space. This is now good space it's taking up!
We're going to paint these closet doors with blackboard paint so they can chalk on them. The floor is old linoleum that we don't have the money to replace. It's now fine with me because they can paint, spill, make a mess to their hearts content.

Here's Mr. Smiles working on a painting project in the Art Corner.
I want to put a couple more small shelves in the closet, but that may have to wait another year. = )

Day 2: We started painting. I've had these 3 different colors of blue--all in similar shades--that I've picked up for $5 at Lowes. I was going to paint the whole basement in this color with a couple other accents, but after starting I decided it made the whole room too dark. The back door and the one window are the only outside light.
I painted this wall and one other small one below our stairs.
Then Precious Jewel and I started on the tree. That was the fun part. I got that can of paint for 50 cents. It was a bunch of sample paints they were getting rid of. I picked up half a dozen well over a year ago and saved them for some future idea. I'm going to paint so whimsical clouds on our concrete walls.

Here is Good Lookin' and Nater Mater at the Blocks and Cars Center. A dear friend of ours made this train table for the boys 2-3 years ago. The kids and I painted it and modge podged stickers to the sides.
I stored all their cars, trains blocks and action figures below it in easy containers that they can pull out. They also like to pull them out and play secret hideout underneath.

To the right of the Blocks Center is our Reading Center. I pulled out another old chair from storage, hung up a rather ratty canopy that I picked up at a garage sale and put all their hand-me-down beanbags around it. I pulled the little plastic stacker that's been in the corner of the boy's room and filled it with most of their kids books.
I also have their tape recorder and tapes and felt board and felt story pieces here for them to pretend with.
I even found my old View Finder from when I was little and put that in my old Holly Hobby Lunch Box next to the chair.
They've already spent a lot of time in this corner.

Last, but not least, is our Manipulative's shelf and space.
I put all the Legos, Light Bright, puzzles, paper and crayons, Duplo blocks, more action figures and Mr. Potato Head on this shelf. I also have several educational games that require them sorting and mixing things (and also have very small parts), but those are higher up where Nater Mater can't reach.

I am going to paint this shelf a tangerine color ( I think). I'm having fun letting my creative juices flow.
So far, the kids are loving it. I am waiting for next week to set up the Dress Up/Play Center. I have a kitchen and I'm going to attempt to make a little tent that hangs from the ceiling/wall.
Then I have a Center set up for all our Little People, toy animals, farm animals, and baby toys.
That's our busy week so far!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brotherly Love

"He's touching me!"

"No I'm not."

"HE touched me again!"

"Just a wittle bit."

This is the type of conversations we have at this house a lot.

Tonight as I was tucking my 2 middle hooligans into bed, I sensed impending disaster.

I had read both a story, kissed them, hugged them, sung them a song and said goodnight. They

were both in my bed because Mr Smiles has come down whatever ailed Naters two weeks ago and can't be far from the bathroom.

Why was Good Lookin' there as well you ask? Well, simply put, I was too tired after his shenanigans today to fight him into going to sleep by himself downstairs in his own room. (That and I never liked to go to sleep by myself without my sister when I was younger). Our basement is not dark and scary unless it's nighttime and daddy is at work and mommy and brothers are all upstairs together. Then it is very scary!

Needless to say, they were both tucked in together in my bed and I planned on moving them when Luke got home from work. Planned on moving them was the plan. They got moved far sooner than when daddy got home.

No sooner had I left the room when the wail of the mortally wounded made it's way down the hall and to my already done-in ears. I sighed. Jessica and I had planned a girls night and it was fast fading away. She made me promise not to kill them or that my other 3 might end up in her care at the Shelter where she works. I swore the solemn vow and trudged down the hall.

"He punched me in the stomach!" sobbed an angry and slightly guilty-looking Good Lookin'.

Mr. Smiles had an angry-yet-satisfied pout on his face. " I told him to leave me alone, but he didn't. He started it!

I totally believed him.

Good Lookin' has all the energy of a wildcat and the personality to go with it. He is funny. He is aggravating. He brings tears to my eyes in so many different ways that I didn't think was possible for one child.

Yesterday he was trying to teach his un-suspecting 1-year-old brother how to stuff rocks into our dog's mouth because "if I do it, she'll bite me." Let's throw the baby in front of the train why don't we! Naters had already learned that the dog doesn't like her face stuffed full of rocks and was having none of the brotherly instruction.

Where does this kid get his ideas?! Where does the energy come from?

He is easy to read---emotions are ALL out there and we are trying to teach him the art of self-control, but it is so hard when you are boarder-line losing it yourself!!! I'm either near the insanity-I-want-to-send-you-back point or the I'm-going-to-split-a-gut-from-trying-not-to-laugh at his latest prank or stunt.

He knows each and every siblings buttons and how to push them. He's known them since he could walk! Oh Lord, give me guidance and wisdom in raising this child because whatever he is going to be, he's going to be that 150% of the time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

All is well

Thought I'd give everyone an update on us all. We are all well! Nater's whatever-he-had cleared up about 5 days ago and no one else has shown any sign of it. I am seriously suspecting the immunizations now because the rota virus to sooooooo contagious and no one that he was around has shown any sign of anything.

We all breath a sigh of relief, and sleep at night has begun to resume it's normal routine (only one person up at night at a time and then only to pee). Well, Mr. Smiles fell off the top bunk last night and I was debating the emergency room at midnight, but it turns out that his arm was not broken, just badly bruised. He's quite proud of the black and blue scrapes from shoulder to wrist. Life with small children who are almost all boys is never dull.

This past weekend, Precious Jewel got her ears pierced for the second time. She got them pierced on her 5th birthday, but got an infection when we changed earrings at 6 weeks, so we let them close up and heal. She said she'd never do it again, but started asking this past month. We told her that this time SHE had to pay for it. She did and is quite proud of herself.

Our own wild man Good Lookin' has successfully tamed a family of very wild kittens. The mother kept hiding them, but the stubbornly determined little fellow kept finding them. They now live on our front porch and run for the bushes every time Nater Mater makes his way out the front door. (It's a good thing. He's very allergic to cats).
Nater Mater has added a couple of new words to his SLOWLY growing vocabulary. It's been odd having a child that has been so late in talking compared to his older three chatterbox siblings. He now says "tuck" (stuck) every time he gets his trike stuck under the kitchen table, behind the bathroom door, between the couch and the get the idea.
All and all, we may get a "normal" end to our summer. I personally have re-defined normal for our family. But then, what is normal?!"
That's our update for now!
As Mr. Smiles sometimes says, "Tootles!"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I've been hit by a Mac Truck

TIRED. That pretty much sums up my life the last 2 weeks. Just as Precious Jewel and Mr. Smiles seemed to be eating all things normal again and not requesting pain meds every few hours, Naters decided it was his turn to catch the tummy bug that I've read about on everyone else's face book pages. I was feeling pretty good about having avoided it. I was extremely careful the two weeks before their surgery and avoided all the germs I could. I even skipped the extra fun looking VBS that all their friends attended the week after we got back from Dallas. I wanted them to go. I wanted to go just to be around other adults and watch. We stayed away and I'm glad.
A chunk of those kids all came down with some stomach virus that I watched weave it's way through various families (I watched it via face book). As everyone else was reporting the lovely sounds and smells of vomit and, well, the other stuff, attacking their houses, I avoided all but a few people and instead took my kids to the little country club pool where very few people we know ever go. It's kind of lonely for me, but great for the kids. We often have the pool to ourselves and they are really learning to swim with a little coaching from their momma (who used to teach swimming lessons in another lifetime).

This past Monday I was just beginning to breath again, when whatever it is that decided to overtake Naters stomach descended upon our house. Strangely, NO ONE ELSE has had any signs or symptoms of anything and I'm suspicious if his gastrointestinal woes aren't linked the the immunizations that he was given this past Tuesday. Mr. Smiles had the exact same "response" to this set of shots at this exact age and I was told that it was just some fluke coincidence and that he'd also come down with a stomach virus at the same time. A stomach virus that looks amazingly the same as Nater Maters and also started within about 4-6 hours of the shots. But, just in case, it is some virus, we are once again homebound. I realized he had a problem when after the shots and then nap, we went to the grocery store for our weekly shopping trip and I ended up spending as much time in the family bathroom changing repeated blow-outs and had to call an attendent to come get our particularly discusting cart to disinfect it. I left the store.

I've taken to stripping him naked (except for his sandals) and keeping him outside the last couple of days now that his fever has worn off. His poor little bum looks like, well, I don't need to describe it. You can use your imagination and picture a severe diaper rash. The hose is ready for action. The water hose that is. = ) His little hose has watered the yard plenty. = D

After an entire Mega pack of diapers in 5 days and 2 bottles of Pedialite and an entire box of frozen Pedialite, he's finally beginning to slow the diaper arena. He is actually wanting to play today instead of clinging screaming to my leg if I'm not holding him every second.

I, on the other hand, feel like I've been run over by a Mac Truck. My back injury from this past Christmas is screaming, "do something other than carry around large toddlers who think that they're professional contortionists."

My idea of an ideal day right now. NO CHILDREN. A good book, an icepack, a large pool and a floaty thing that I can fall off of when I need to cool off . Oh, and a large Strawberry Daiquiri. Maybe someday.

For now, I'll hold the poor little guy. Read books to and try to entertain all the rest who are feeling just fine and wanting to do something other than be around their baby brother. And I will keep in mind that all things do pass---even those things that come out the other end.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Sweetest Daughter

I have the sweetest daughter. Of course, I only have one, but we understand each other. She is so like me that it is rather scary. I see little me running all over the house.

She loves nature. She loves to write. She loves to draw and paint. She loves to talk. She is very in-tune to what is going on around her and very perspective to peoples feelings both positive and negative. She loves to sing and she loves being a big sister....most days.

I often look at her or have these conversations with her and have dejavu experiences of my own child-hood.

Tonight my sweet daughter had asked several times if I'd read her another chapter from her newest American Girl book that she'd checked out from the library. She'd already devoured 2 of the books in the last 5 days on her own with me reading a chapter here and there to her, and I knew she was wanting some cuddle and alone time with mommy.

The problem is that poor little Naters has contracted a nasty virus within the last 24 hours and has already used up nearly half of a mega-sized box of diapers. He saw the Dr. today when he was getting allergy shots and the Dr. told us to just keep him hydrated. No small feat when anything that goes in the mouth comes out the other end within about 5 minutes.

Dear hubby is working tonight and so it's just me and the 4 kids for the bedtime routine. That happens a lot actually. Normally it isn't a problem--unless someone is sick and then things get tricky--like tonight. By the time story-time had rolled around the little guy was refusing to walk or sit down due to his little raw bum. He just layed on the floor on his tummy and cried or stood at my feet crying to be picked up. I can only hold him in a cradle position standing up though and that doesn't allow for a good reading posture or for siblings to see their book.

I asked the older 4 kids to please wait for anymore reading until after I'd put the little guy to bed. (I was crossing my fingers that I'd even get him to bed).

My dear little 7 year old stood up; took the book from my hands and said so sweetly, "I'll read to them tonight mommy."

I waited for her brothers to protest but after hearing nothing I kissed her on the head, thanked her and walked with the littlest one back to his room.

I can remember when she was a one-year-old and Mr. Smiles was a newborn and holding both of them screaming in my arms wondering if life as a mom was always this hard. I've gotten several glimpses this past year of "less strenuous" parenting and am so very thankful.
And tonight after I had tucked all her brothers into bed, she and I got to read and cuddle together. Life is good.