Friday, December 31, 2010

Bringing in the New Year

For the last several years, we've celebrating New Year's Eve with the Hermacinski family. This year, we were able to keep up our tradition, with a little tweaking (as Jay had to work in the afternoon/evening). So, we made it a New Year's Eve lunch celebration.

Cara and I ready to party!

We ate a special New Year's Eve lunch, followed by a couple of games.

The kids posed on the couch before a round of charades begins.

After the games, the kids made New Year's Eve toasts.

The adults partook in the sparkling grape juice toasts too!

Finally, the kids were able to count down to the New Year (at about 2 p.m.). Six times (so each child could go individually) we'd count down to the new year followed by balloons tossed over our upstairs' rail.
The other kids stood ready to catch all the falling balloons. They had a blast! Thanks Hermacinskis for a wonderful celebration and afternoon.

New Year's Eve night my parents offered to watch the kids. We were fortunate to have (free) babysitters, but no plans. So, we had a casual dinner at a Thai Restaurant followed by a decadent chocolate dessert at Plums.

Happy New Year!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Picking an Outing

I told the kids once over Christmas break they could organize/choose an outing. This morning they googled "Activities for Kids in Indianapolis." They found a website with 101 things to do with kids in Indianapolis. The list was full of culturally and educationally rich locales: museums, nature centers, historical landmarks, and on and on. From the 101 places to go, they selected: Chuck E. Cheese. Is anyone really surprised?

They had a complete and utter blast (and I survived too!).

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Airing Dirty Laundry

Caleb and friend, Cole, having fun.

Cooper and his friend/girlfriend Bryn striking a pose.

Guess what Connor brought into the house? Good thing for brothers that tattle!

I was placing newly laundered clothes back into little boys' drawers. I noticed I only had one shirt to put back into Connor's drawer (from several days worth of laundry). Immediately, I thought:

1) For the last several days did he stuff dirty shirts back into his drawer, or
2) Did he really wear the same shirt for the last several days. (I honestly can't remember!)

I'm really hoping for #1!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Getting My Workout

Connor and Audrey Brinkruff all smiles on the couch.

The boys and the Brinkruff kids enjoyed an afternoon play date.

Lately, I've tried to include a little abdominal workout into my daily fitness routine. I guess it all started when:

1) I treated Christmas cookies like a new food group;
2) I had to hold my breathe and suck in my tummy to insure jean buttons don't burst (although I have just discovered elastic waist band leggings!); and
3) The exterminator's comment from last year (the one that asked me if I was pregnant, when I was over a year postpartum!).

So, each day I've attempted to squeeze in a ten minute exercise on demand abdominal workout (typically when all four boys are awake). No matter where they are in the house, when the TV flips on they come running. Then my brood of boys acts as my audience/cheerleaders.

First, they provide commentary/encouragement:

"Mom, that lady (on the video) is moving faster than you."

"Mom, her weights look bigger."

"Mom, are you sure you're doing it right?"

Then, they decide to "help" with my technique. They jump on my back when I'm in plank position. They run between my legs when I'm doing the bicycle. They taking a flying leap and land on my tummy when I'm doing crunches. They throw pillows at my head when I am stretching.

The boys that aren't "exercising" are engaging in all sorts of mayhem and mischief. Today, Cooper said, "Is Collin supposed to be holding that?" Mid-crunch I turn to see Collin walking around with a screwdriver. No, indeed. Crunches stop. Screwdriver confiscated. Crying one year old. Abbreviated workout.

At the end of the workout, I think I may have completed one successful crunch. Sigh.

Now, where are those leggings?

Are there any Christmas cookies left?

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Nose to the Wall

I was running around Kohl's today with all four boys. Collin was propped on my hip, as I clutched his waist. I wasn't watching closely to where we were walking, and suddenly I heard a big "whack" followed by a wail. I had knocked Collin into a protruding wall with Collin's nose making a direct hit on the surface. Immediately, I felt awful. (Although if you enjoy physical comedy, I'm sure it was pretty funny to watch...if it hadn't involved a one year old!).

Collin began to bleed, cry, and clutch my side. I carried him through the store, completely ashamed of my utter clumsiness.

We left the store and went to see Dr. Dad at work, hoping Collin didn't sustain some horrible head injury or nasty concussion. Not surprisingly, Chris wasn't the least be fazed by the nostril bleed nor the hysterical child. Within minutes of observing his son, Chris gave him the all clear.

The boys and I headed home, and I put Collin down for a nap. I think he was so exhausted from the morning, that he wasn't the least bit interested in performing some of his latest crib gymnastics. In fact, he snoozed in his crib for two hours straight without letting his feet hit the ground even once.

In case you're wondering (after reading yesterday's blog), I didn't do it on purpose, I swear!!!! (Although I have found one way to keep him in the crib!)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Transforming from Toddler to Baby in a Day

How I found Collin this morning.

Collin showing off one of his Christmas presents.

So amid the hustle and bustle of the last few days, Collin, our adorable fourth son, morphed from a baby into a toddler before our very eyes. His "coming out" started on December 23rd. Chris finally had an evening off, and we had plans. I envisioned us nestling on the couch, snuggling under a blanket, taking in a movie. We finally had all the kids in bed, and had just reached the main floor. Then I heard it: a thud, tiny footsteps, a door open, and a wail accompanied by "Mama."

Chris and I looked at each other, and questioned at the same time, "Collin?" Collin it was. He scaled the crib walls and leaped over the rails. Amazingly enough, we've never had a son attempt that before (not even Cooper!).

We carried him back to the crib, smiling at first. Two hours later, we weren't smiling so much. After implementing just about every parenting trick in our book, the one that finally worked was to reverse the lock. At ten p.m., we flipped on a movie, but I was snoozing before the movie's opening credits.

Scaling crib rails is not Collin's only new toddler trick. In the last two days, Collin discovered biting. Yes, biting! The four boys frequently engage in feuds that end in at least one sibling in tears. But, two days ago, I started hearing scuffles accompanied by ear-splitting wails. Those older brothers that used to think Collin would passively watch as they snagged his toy or grabbed his book, were grossly unprepared for their younger brother to place his teeth firmly in their arms or on their legs and not want to let go. So, Collin learned toddlers reap the consequences of their actions, and discipline can be swift.

The fact that Collin's exhibiting an array of toddler behavior, doesn't change how I see him. He'll always be my baby, crib or not.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Caleb woke us up at 4:30 this morning, declaring Santa had indeed visiting our house. I know I mentioned in a prior post that Caleb announced he no longer believed in Santa, but either:

1) he's a really good actor; or

2) he still sort of believes.

I'm thinking #2.

We thanked him for informing us, and requested he come back at 7 a.m.
At 7 a.m., all the boys saw the tree. I was very excited to see how almost two-year-old Collin would respond to the present filled tree. He greeted the sight with as much enthusiasm as if someone had left their socks on the floor. Nevertheless, the other boys were wide-eyed and bursting with excitement.

Chris awoke and assisted in helping the kids open presents. Collin snuggled with Chris. He was a little overwhelmed with the morning.

The boys loved their Christmas gifts. I loved the fact Caleb got each of his brothers a gift (thanks to a school holiday store), and seemed excited to see them open their gifts.

Our family continues my family's Christmas morning tradition. We eat a big breakfast and follow it up with a slice of Jesus Birthday Cake. The boys and I discussed the meaning of the cake (every part of the cake is symbolic). The boys are absolutely thrilled that they can eat cake for breakfast. What a treat!
Two of the boys enjoying a breakfast of frittata and pancakes.

Collin's morning shyness washed away when cake was involved.

After breakfast and Santa presents, we headed over to my parent's house. Cooper dove into his stocking.

Uncle Matt entertained Collin and his cousin Will.

After lunch at Grandma's house, we visited Chris at work. Chris wasn't able to make it to Christmas lunch, so we brought the lunch to the hospital.

Hope your family had a wonderful Christmas too!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Celebrating Christmas Eve

The Wood boys and Maxwell kids posing for a Christmas picture.

We celebrating Christmas Eve at church. The four boys sat through most of the Christmas Eve service. In fact, at the end of the service, Cooper fell asleep on my lap with his head nestled against my chest. As we sat there, I gazed outside and noticed snow was falling from the sky, blanketing the ground. The congregation belted out Christmas carols, and I heard myself singing, "Peace on Earth, goodwill to men." As I sang the lyrics, I thought how truly peaceful and good it felt..sitting at church, cuddling Cooper, gazing at the snow, singing Christmas hymns.

Cooper and Bryn Maxwell snuggling on the couch.

My good friend, Ali, and I before feasting on dinner.

After church, our friends, the Maxwells, had our family over for our annual Wood/Maxwell Christmas dinner. I've been anxiously awaiting that dinner for weeks. You see Ali is a hostess extraordinaire. She doesn't just throw something together. Ali carefully prepares cuisine that would rival any fine restaurant fare. But, eating at Ali's house is better than any restaurant, because she makes you feel at home. She spoils you, serves you, and fusses over you. Pretty soon, you wonder if you really ever have to leave.

The evening was more than the fine dining, it was about getting two families together, strengthening relationships, and making memories.

Thanks for a wonderful evening, Maxwells!

Happy Christmas Eve!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Lights

Last Sunday, the Indianapolis Star listed the top Christmas light homes in Indianapolis. Our interested was piqued, so we join the hordes of others to gawk at the display. It actually was four homes engulfed in Christmas lights. The lights flickered and danced in synch with holiday music. Costumed figured accompanied Santa Claus in entertaining the crowds and passing out candy canes. The boys loved the whole, completely over-the-top display.

Two more days until Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Peek Inside Connor's Mind

Cooper was complaining that he was bored today.

Connor listened to his complaints for a few minutes, then he piped in, "Cooper, just put TV on in your mind. That's what I do."

It made me laugh, and wonder what he's watching!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Beloved Gift

Every Christmas the boys always get one particular gift: the gift given by well meaning friends or relatives who either never had children or have older children. Because of that, said relatives/friends don't purchase gifts with the same filters as a mother with four little boys. They are the ones that purchase one super cool gift, like the light saber or the nerf gun, for just ONE boys (thus causing days and days of bickering among siblings). They are the ones that purchase the bead making kit complete with 1,000 beads that can easily filter throughout every nook and cranny in a house. They are the ones that buy the drum sets, the pocketknives, the fire trucks with earsplitting sirens, and on and on.

While this particular mother cringes at these gifts, minor boys greet said gifts with much enthusiasm. This year that gift was bath crayons. The moment the wrapping was tattered and the crayons exposed, I knew what was to come. It only took a day for the bathtub to turn from a pristine porcelain retreat to a graffiti covered wash basin. I know it's washable, although my experiences with "washable" items has made me wary.

The bath crayons did provide quite a bit of entertainment this morning, but I'm thinking this gift is about to go missing (meeting the same fate as all those wonderful gifts from the past!).

Caleb armed with a ginormous snowball.

Collin taking in the sights during our winter nature hike.

Cooper and his preschool pal, Carson, stroll through the snow.

Can you guess whether Caleb had a taste of the icing?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Resting up for Christmas Break

The boys posing at the Children's Museum.

Collin was enthralled with Frosty the Snowman.

The boys joined Frosty for a winter parade.

The parade ended in with "snow" fall. Smiles all around!!

Yesterday, I tried to sneak in a little cat nap. My little cat nap turned into a two and half hour siesta. I emerged from my room a different person. When I saw Chris, I declared, "I'm much nicer now."

He responded, "You're always nice." But, even as the words were leaving his lips, he was laughing. What a poor liar!

The truth is, I needed that nap. Today, I'm facing two weeks of Christmas break with the four boys. I greeted Christmas break with much enthusiasm, happy to enjoy more leisurely mornings and less time running around in the car. But, having the four boys coped up within the confines of the house, has its challenges too.

So, I'm glad, for at least a day, I'm rested. Ready to take on two weeks worth of four feisty boys.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Big Family Christmas

Collin opening a gift with the help of my cousin, David.

Cooper intently ripping the paper off his gift.

Caleb and Connor examining their new goody.

Collin and I snuggle up to my sister in law Heather and Collin's cousin, Will.

My Aunt Kathryn explaining the annual Dirty Santa gift card exchange.

Collin and Papa exchange a giggle and a tickle.

Me posing with my cousin, Laura and my Aunt Kathryn.

Last night we had our big family Christmas party. My house was filled to the rafters with relatives: aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, siblings, and on and on. The laughter and love radiated throughout the house.

Of course, I look forward to the company, but my mouth starts to water when I think about the food. My Aunt Linda makes the best comfort food: cinnamon rolls, creamed corn, fresh green beans, and homemade preserves. After dinner, we feasted on pies, Christmas cookies, and red velvet brownies.

The food was followed with our Dirty Santa gift card exchange. (A game where we can open a present or steal another relatives pre-opened gift.) We're not the type of family too shy to "steal" gifts from relatives. Our game is always competitive, but fun.

As the last gift was open and family members start to say their goodbyes, I got a little sad. Do we really have to wait another year to have another night like tonight?