Sunday, April 20, 2014

Avengers: behavior style

You may remember my post about Munchkin's Princess chart, well, we forgot to use it for awhile, but we've started back up again and it's helping. I've decided that Lil Man needs his own chart, because even though he's way younger than when we started it for Munchkin, he is NOT your typical 2 yr old! In some ways he is, hence the reason we need this chart. Sometimes getting dressed in the morning can be a hair-pulling, blood-pressure-raising, are-you-sure-it-isn't-socially-acceptable-to-drink-at-this-hour (and I don't even drink) affair with the internal mantra of "don't scream" repeated as many times as possible. Wait, did I say sometimes? Make that every time and even worse when we actually have something going on outside of the house. He's also needing a reminder to speak nicely sometimes. He has a million things he does well and makes me proud so many times every day--like being potty trained and almost ready to be done with diapers at night too, his willingness (sometimes insistence) to help, his fierce love for his sister, and how he so tries to be a "big boy".

He idolizes Munchkin, and I figured that we've seen this work once with her, we'll give it a shot with him too. He LOVES The Avengers, with Captain America and Iron Man being his favorites. So I figured that we'd go with them for the chart.

Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Director Fury, Hawkeye, and The Hulk
This time, I got to use a thermal laminator instead of the self-laminating sheets. Let me tell you. It's SO much better this way!! I'm still not 100% clear on WHY we have a thermal laminator, but it has something to do with the fact that someone in the troop needed something laminated, there wasn't a way to do it, so Mark went to Target and bought one with our money, so he brought it home.  It's really nice and SO easy to use. We've had it sitting in the garage for a bit and while I don't see us using it all the time, I won't be getting rid of it any time soon.
Our thermal laminator!
I finally got a poster from Target (I've made more trips to Target in the past couple weeks than I have in a few months, I kept forgetting one or two items each time!!) and set to work making the chart. My paint pen blobbed, but I don't think Lil Man will mind! We had a bit of a tough time figuring out the things to write on the "An Avenger is..." and "An Avenger..." sections, the only thing Lil Man wanted to tell me they did was "save the town!". Some of the things aren't necessarily something you'd think of off the top of your head for Avengers/Superheroes, but at the end of the day, this is a chart to help him remember good behavior. Yes, I know he's far from reading, but he can ask me any time what they say. It also helps me remember what we've been over and what to try to reinforce. I love that I have a room to add more things as we think of them too.

The chart in progress: An Avenger is: helpful, friendly, nice, smart, hardworking, determined
An Avenger: follows directions, cleans up, keeps trying, has manners (later added shares and works as a team)

I also made a pocket for me, because I ended up having to make Munchkin a new Snow White because she got lost one day when Munchkin had to give her up. I never had a specific place to put them and just had her bring me the princess wherever I was at the time. I like that now we'll have a home for the princesses and Avengers all the time, whether on the chart or in the "Lost" pocket. The bottom of the pocket says "*Earn back with 1 extra good deed!*".

The completed chart, with guys, and the "Lost Avengers & Princesses" pocket.
I got everything hung up and I'm really happy with the set-up now. I put Munchkin's stickers up last week and really love that now she can't play with the stickers any old time, I always know where they are (no more last minute rush trying to find the sticker before bed), and it makes it so simple and easy, we actually remember to do it!! Oh, and I'd like to complain for just a second...boy stickers are hard to find!! Target had NOTHING and we ended up going to JoAnn and found this sticker activity pad hiding in the scrapbook aisle. It's got 600 stickers, coloring pages, and slick activity pages so you can make a story with your stickers. I'm just glad it has 600 stickers and I won't have to search for more any time soon!!

Everything put up and ready to go! Also, enjoy Lil Man's fashion statement of the inside out and backwards shirt...I'm just glad he's wearing clothes!!

My next step in this project is something to do while we're out. I still use them as a reference when we're out, saying "Do you need to give me a princess when we get home?", but I find myself being more lenient because the immediate physical act of giving me the character is lost. I'm thinking of making another set of each of them, but about half the current size, laminating them (of course), and putting them on a key ring. The next problem is how to tell which ones are still theirs while keeping them on one ring--and keeping it all simple!! Once I figure out the best way to take care of the travel sets, I will most definitely post about it!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Munchkin-ism of the day

So I have no idea why, but Munchkin says "set the bed" instead of "make the bed". Every morning she'll tell me "I set my bed, Mama!" It's just one of "her" things. Tonight while I was trying to get Lil Man to go to sleep (trying being the operative word here), she runs into his room quite upset. "Mama! I have bad news!!! Lightning unset all your pillows! Your bed! Unset!" All the while gesturing wildly like she's knocking pillows over. Sure enough, Lightning had burrowed through the pillows and they were all over the bed.
We have 6 extra pillows on our bed when it's made: 2 Euro pillows, 2 king pillows, and the two small accent pillows that came with our bedding set (it sounds like so.many.pillows. like that, but it's what came in the set!). Apparently it's quite tempting for the kids and the dog to hide in them. I found Munchkin hidden in them last night after I told her she needed to sleep in her bed and Lil Man likes to hide there to try to escape the terrors of getting dressed--and he's actually quite good at hiding in them! 
Who knew that making the bed could bring such drama and shenanigans into our day! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Plans? HA.

So most people know the saying "Tell God your plans and watch him sit back and laugh." right? Well, at this point, add Army into that as well.
We're at reenlistment time, and a few months ago, Mark decided that he was ready to be done with the Army, finishing his contract this November. So we started that process (there are required classes for soldiers to take prior to ETS) and were working out as many details as we could this far out. We were excited (and terrified, I won't lie) and our families were excited that we'd be coming back home too.
Enter the Army (and God, too, really) when Mark finds out that he's come down on assignment. Location? Ft. Polk, LA. I just had to laugh. Seriously, we're the ball in a game of ping pong! The wrench in the works of this is that he now can't just quietly finish his contract. If he chose to decline the assignment (that requires a 2 year minimum reenlistment), his ETS date (last day in the Army) would be moved from November to July, which is when we would be moving if he accepted the assignment and reenlisted. We are NOT prepared to move up our move that quickly, because while his last day in the Army would be in July, he has terminal leave of about 60-70 days to take, so we'd be leaving in May! Um, that's right around the bloomin' corner! Talk about scary. So, we talked, weighed options, thought about it all, and he has decided that the best course for our family is to reenlist. I won't lie, I'm happy and disappointed at the same time. Happy because even with as crazy as the government is, it's still a more stable financial situation than getting out would be. Mark used to love his job, then got a little burnt out, but is starting to get the love back, so I'm happy that he's happy at work (most of the time ;) ). I'm disappointed because I was REALLY looking forward to living in the same area as our family again. FaceTime is great, but it doesn't replace really being together. At least we HAVE FaceTime for the kids to get to know their extended family!
I do feel bad for Munchkin, as we had told her we were moving to Texas around her birthday (since she now knows when that is, and will proudly tell you!), and she is SO excited about it all. Bursting her little bubble by telling her that we're moving to Louisiana instead will be hard, but we're already making plans to make sure we get some quality time with the family.
One plan that hasn't changed is we are not taking the most direct route (again...) and we're snaking our way down the west coast with a little stop at a special place called Disneyland! Thanks to their generous military discount on tickets and hotel, we're making one of Munchkin's dreams come true and visiting the princess castle. Now, granted, the park she REALLY wants to go to is Walt Disney World in Florida, but that's just not in the cards! We'll get her there someday. There was even a Disneyland special on the travel channel a few weeks ago and she saw bits of that and got super excited--and so did Lil Man--Cars land anyone?!? So at least we have a super bright spot about halfway through the trip!
I know that July will be here before we know it and I've got the moving butterflies, but I know that in the end it will work out like it always has and we'll grow where we're planted again. I won't say I'm thrilled to be going back to Ft. Polk, but again, we'll make the best of it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

2013 is gone and 2014 is here! It feels like we just said goodbye to 2012. So, 2013 in a nutshell:
January
I really got bit by the knitting bug! I really love it and I'm glad that I finally got through it and discovered how awesome it is!
Lil Man got his first haircut and looked SO grown up. He's only had a few since because he HATES them, but it's amazing how much older a nice haircut makes him look!

February
I got to go buy new clothes! :) The time at the gym really paid off (although I need to get back in the exercise habit...) and it's been great.

March
Brought some crazy up cycling sewing, Munchkin got her first recital costume (and LOVED it!), and I started my running journey!!!! (still close to the beginning of that...).

April
I received The Liebster Award for the blog (which was awesome), got to go shopping with Munchkin thanks to Crowdtap and Old Navy, got an awesome haircut, tried a new reward/behavior chart (that works well, when we remember to use it!), and kept up with running. Lil Man started showing more and more of his personality, Munchkin continued to crack me up, and we participated in The Great Cloth Diaper Change!

May
It. snowed. Seriously, our last snowfall of the season was May 17, 2013. Not. fair. The USS Anchorage was commissioned and we definitely missed the public tours, but life goes on. Munchkin participated in her first dance recital and did AWESOME. I was so proud of her, she was beautiful and danced her little heart out--and just like her mama, got a little bit bossy on stage and dragged some classmates into line. We FINALLY got summer weather at the end of the month...and it only got better.

June
June brought MG & Granddaddy, Mark left for training, MG & I (and Lil Man in the stroller) did the Color Run, had an amazing family photo session, spent lots of time outside enjoying the amazing weather, explored around our area a bit, and I turned 27.

July
Mark and I did the Bear Paw 5k (where he saw just how non-runner I am...), Lil Man drank half a bottle of benadryl and spent the day in the ER (where he amazed everyone and was perfectly fine), and we thoroughly enjoyed the nice summer weather with family bike rides or walks almost every night.

August
We ventured into the world of pre fold diapers (this late into our cloth diapering game, I know) and found out just how awesome they are. I also participated in the World Breastfeeding Week blog carnival and shared a bit about my breastfeeding experience, we dealt with the effects of the sequestration--which while not as bad as no pay, still made life on post difficult. My children got mistaken for twins (and then somehow, triplets....that guy was on something), I seriously hurt my foot  (it's almost completely healed now), but still managed to do a 2k and a 5k two weeks later, and another 5k the next weekend! Also, Munchkin started asking for a new pet....a unicorn. Oh...and Mark turned 29. We've been reminding him he's almost 30 ever since.

September
We celebrated our 7th anniversary, Munchkin turned 4, and Mark went off for training. Lil Man got new clothes and had to get size 2T and 3T....at 21 months old. He's a tank. We got our first snow of the season...oh. joy. Thankfully it didn't stick around.

October
Lil Man started potty training!!! We kept up our family walks as long as the weather held out. We participated in the Frightening 4k (Munchkin called it the candy race, as every k marker had a 'trick or treat' station!) and had a blast trick or treating on post on Halloween!

November
We went to the Sochi Send off and saw some of the local Olympic athletes as they got ready to head off for all the pre-game stuff they have to do. Munchkin met Miss Alaska Sweetheart and was so impressed! I got promoted to grandma of Munchkin's doll. I'm not sure how I feel about that. We ran in the Skinny Raven Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving...in 12 degree (0 with windchill) weather. It was cold. We had a laid-back Thanksgiving dinner with friends and enjoyed the quiet time.

December
At the beginning of the month, the kids and I got sick, causing Munchkin to miss her first dance class ever. Lil Man is officially potty trained (with the exception of nighttime) and I gave him a haircut (the beiber hair just wasn't cutting it anymore). Mark participated in his first triathlon as the swimmer. Lil Man turned two and was so excited for his birthday!! He became the present police for Christmas, making sure we didn't sneak a present early.

So here we are. January 1, 2014. To be honest, 2014 scares the bejeezus out of me because it's going to bring a LOT of change, but I'm excited to see where it all ends up.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Time flies

Since I've moved over to Bloglovin' for reading blogs, posting on my own tends to slip my mind! Since my last post was Munchkin's birthday, it's only fitting to start this one off about Lil' Man's birthday!
We officially have a two year old and he's amazing. In a way, it feels like he's "finally" two, since he's seemed like a two year old for so long already. He's huge and so smart, he's always seemed older than he is. His official birthday stats from the doctor are 33.9 pounds, 35.8" tall, and a 90th percentile head circumference. They were quite impressed by his strength (shown when fighting being laid down to be measured) and they never even addressed any of the development milestone questionnaire (which generally means he's meeting or exceeding everything, they really only bring it up if they're behind--and I had to mark "yes" on everything except for one that I marked "sometimes" because it's not something that we do often!). He talks SO well and is always making sure you know what he wants! No random pointing and grunting for him.
Another huge milestone moment: He is about 90% potty trained!! He started off and on a while ago, and we just sit back and let him lead. Then a few weeks ago, he just wanted to go in the potty. So I went with it and he is now in big boy undies when awake, diapers are only for sleeping times, and really, he's had a few naps in undies and more than a few that the diaper was still dry when he got up. I never thought he'd be in undies before two, and we were a little over a week away from his birthday when we just went with it! Thankfully he's not afraid of toilets, so we don't have to worry about it when we're out! As crazy as it may sound, I'm actually a little sad to be thinking of all the details to sell our diapers, but that will be happening for the majority of our stash soon.
He had such a blast on his birthday, he was SO excited to see his presents "Pwesents?!?! For me?! My pwesents!" and proudly answering "TWO!" when asked how old he is now.
We've also now taken the front rail off of his crib to make it a toddler bed and while he doesn't stay in it for more than a few hours, it's still nicer to have him come climb in with us than to have to go get him! He's getting better and I doubt we'll be cosleeping when he goes to college.
Another huge milestone that 12/17/13 brought: We have reached my breastfeeding goal. I am SO proud to have been able to nurse him for 2 years and meet the recommendations. We're on the downward slope now, but I will let him lead this too, for the most part. I do distract and redirect sometimes. We're pretty much at before sleeping times and then a few times in the night--which honestly is more from my lack of willingness to actually get up to rock him back to sleep than anything else--and then the last "night" bit right before we get up.
There's been other stuff here and there, but nothing worth blogging about this far after the fact! I'm wanting to make sure I blog more regularly, but we'll see how that works out!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Munchkin!

This past Wednesday, Munchkin celebrated her fourth birthday! I cannot believe how fast the time has flown. It's mind-blowing to think that it was already four years ago that we were kicking deployment's booty and bringing home our little girl for the first time. So much has changed, we've moved twice, had another baby, Mark's had wildly different duties with varying times away from the family, but it's all just come together as our life. She's already talking about her next birthday when she turns five...oh, honey child, let's not think of that just yet! Let me enjoy you being four. So independent, yet still loves cuddles. So smart and eager to keep learning new things. So in love with dance (even if this year proves to have some growing pains as she gets pushed higher and held to higher expectations to become a better person and dancer).
We celebrated last Saturday as a family because Mark had to miss her actual birthday for a training event, but it was great just the same. She helped me make her cake, which was a "rainbow" cake that she requested. We used neon blue, green, and purple to color white cake and swirled it together, and it came out pretty decently. She opened her presents from us and Grandma & Grandpa--and loved it all. (She got more presents in the mail on Monday, and a friend dropped off another on Thursday!) She declared it "The best birthday ever!", so I think she was pleased.
We have the Red Robin Royalty Reward card, and both Munchkin and Lil Man are in the Kid's Club, so the week before her birthday, I got an email with a coupon for a free kid's meal as a birthday gift for her. Red Robin is her FAVORITE (I think the balloons have a lot to do with that), so on Wednesday, we went there for late lunch/early dinner and had a good time. I made sure that our server knew it was her birthday, but asked them to please not sing to her because she would cry--she even cried when Mark tried to sing Happy Birthday at home!--and he was very sweet about it. He brought her the birthday ice cream and quietly told her Happy Birthday, but that was it. She clapped and laughed as they sang to another person a couple tables away from us though...silly girl! Her balloon popped as I was putting Lil Man in the car, so we went back in and they were more than happy to give her a new one, which made her day.
More and more, I see her turning into a girl, leaving her toddler self behind. She's not a baby anymore, but she's always MY baby. Her long golden hair, which she refuses to get cut, makes her look even more grown up--it's past her little booty now, I have to make sure it doesn't get tucked into her pants or skirts!--and people comment on it ALL the time. I'm so glad to be her Mommy and I can't wait to see what this year holds for us.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Classics survive for a reason

When we first started cloth diapering (when Munchkin was between 5 & 6 months old), we went for a pretty pricey WAHM diaper that was an All-In-Two system. The inners and inserts were bamboo--and we're still using most of those inserts now as boosters for nighttime. The outer parts...well, nobody told me that the sanitize cycle on my washer would be too harsh for regular use. I found that out after our stash of 16 diapers (which, now, seems tiny!) delaminated after about a year. I was really wary of any other system, with the exception of pockets. I didn't even like the idea of All-In-Ones! I'd learned my lesson and wanted to treat anything with PUL very nicely so it would last. Munchkin spent about a year in disposable diapers again, because I didn't want to buy ANOTHER stash of cloth.
Then it was time to figure out what we wanted to do for Lil Man. I wanted him in cloth for a myriad of reasons, with cost being a huge contributing factor. I began building his stash early, keeping costs down by buying from baby steals and finding the majority from another mama who didn't need as many anymore. Pretty much almost all of Lil Man's diapers are pockets, and I got snaps whenever I could. We don't use any of the velcro diapers we have anymore because the velcro is shot and Lil Man is way too adept at taking them off (he's even gotten a snap one open)!
A few of the diapers we have are sized, and he's pretty much grown out of them now, so a couple months ago we headed to Wasilla to go to Arctic Baby Bottoms...aka, cloth diaper heaven. Mark actually is the one who suggested we go....don't be too surprised, he's the one who suggested cloth diapering Munchkin in the first place! I knew I didn't want to buy anything TOO expensive because I'm *hoping* that we won't be in them TOO much longer (I'm hoping and praying about a year more) and I just really hate spending money when I can help it. I'd been looking into prefolds and covers...and convinced Mark to let me get them. We got 6 Osocozy unbleached diapers and 3 Thirsties covers. I prepped them that night and started the next day. We had a couple Snappi's from a couple different giveaways/goody bags, so we were set. I fell.in.love. Seriously! I had some gift card money on Amazon that'd I'd saved and earned more from Crowdtap, so I ordered another 6 diapers and one more cover. These things are amazingly absorbent. The one downside is that I forget to change as often as I should because they DO.NOT.LEAK! We even had one last overnight. I just have to be more mindful of the time and make sure I change him before he asks. I am going to have to sew some extender tabs on the diapers because we bought the premium size--rated for 15-30lbs, and Lil Man is currently 31lbs. They just don't quite reach around the waist as well as they could, but I found a handy tutorial to take care of that.
I thought to take some pictures when the new diapers came to show the difference between unprepped and prepped (oh, the shrinkage...but oh how soft they get!!!)--and a cutie Lil Man excited for mail!

He was so excited!! 

Prepped vs. Unprepped

They look so huge out of the package...

...and the shrinkage...mainly in length, but a little in width too.
These are now my absolute favorite go-to diapers. Mark loves them too....because I change them. He hasn't quite mastered how to get these on a wiggly Lil Man, but he's trying. I can only imagine how fancy these seemed to the mamas who were used to using flat diapers, and now these are considered "old-school". I prefer to think of them as the classics now (I'm not quite up to trying to fold flats!), and they have definitely survived for a reason, even with all the cool new diapers out there!

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