Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Having trouble commenting?

For some time now, people have been telling me that they've had problems commenting on my blog.

I finally heard from someone at Blogger that the "embedded" form of commenting might not work for people whose cookies are set up not to accept that (for some reason). She suggested that perhaps I should try one of the other forms of commenting.

So I'm trying a pop-up window, to see if it works better.

Would some of you who have had trouble kindly try it out to see if it helps?


(Sorry for this bit of blogger housekeeping...Back to rants about my crazy kiddos tomorrow!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Cary-Clair dynamic

Cary, last night, referring to Clair:

"Mommy, why does my brain keep telling me, 'Tease her, tease her?'"

Seriously guys. He loves to torture her. And not just in the typical "take her toys, make her cry" kind of ways. He finds subtle ways to make her know that she is not in the Cary-Dean Cool Club. All the time.

If I say, "Guys, look at these shirts I bought you!" And they say, "Wow! Cool!" And then I tell Clair, "Here's your new shirt, sweetie!" Cary will turn to her, quick as lightning, and say, "That's not cool at all, Clair!" For no reason! She wasn't paying him any attention. Her shirt has nothing to DO with him!

What is that all about?? I can't stand it!

He taunts her, runs to jump in a space if he sees her headed for it, closes doors when he sees her coming in, complains incessantly if I lie her down on his bed to change her into her pajamas. "Get off my beddddddd!" he whines. "That's my bed!"

I guess I have a basic understanding of sibling rivalry, but this seems to go beyond. 

Dean does not do this to her. He has his almost-4-year-old moments of being selfish and not so nice, of course. But mostly, he cares for Clair, looks after her, gets a little distressed if she cries too long or too hard. He's patient with her and will, on many occasions, automatically include her in whatever it is he and his brother are doing. More than anything, it seems, he is not threatened by her presence, like Cary seems to be. In fact, he seems to rather enjoy her being a part of things. So why doesn't Cary?

Parents of twins and other siblings - tell me: Does this get better over time?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Crazy busy weekend with family and fun

So Spring arrived this weekend (finally!) and we couldn't wait to get out of the house. We left the house after work on Friday and didn't stop until the kids' bedtime last night.

Here's some of the things we did.

Took the kids to the Wharf Rat, a Baltimore bar, Friday after work. Beer tasting. Greasy food. No dishes. Winning.
They kept harassing the bartender, who was ridiculously patient with them.
Walked along the water in Fells Point. Found a pirate's stand. Said "Aaaar!" a lot.

Clair? What are you doing here, darling?

Took the kids' cousins Russy, Matty and Kwahli (my sister Kadija's youngest) duckpin bowling. Madness and hilarity ensued.

Almost all of Clair's balls had to be helped along by the alley attendant, or retrieved with a stick, because she rolled them so slowly.
I hate that this picture is blurry, because they were so excited to have knocked down four pins. LOL.
After about 10 minutes of insanity, my sister decided it was necessary to explain the rules to the children, including that they should NOT press the reset button while someone else is bowling, no matter how bad you REALLY want to push it. And that each kid gets to bowl TWO TIMES and then it's someone else's turn. All of the lessons were so ignored.
Here's Tahira retrieving Matty, who was running down someone else's lane. Hahaha!

Tried to do a nighttime Easter egg hunt later that evening at Druid Hill Park, but there were 10 million people, and it was a crazy, ghetto, unorganized mess, so we didn't get to find any eggs. But the kids barely cared because they had flashlights, lots of hills to roll down, and a Baltimore Hon on stilts!
Dean: "Is she real?" Then she moved. Dean: "She's REAL!"
At home that night, we did our own nighttime Easter egg hunt with the four older boys. And we let them eat all the candy they found inside their eggs. You should have seen them stuffing chocolate eggs and Gummi bears in their mouths. You would think we NEVER give them sweets. Such drama with the stuffing and the gorging and the mmmmm-ing and finger-licking. Academy awards for all my kids. Pronto.

We put the kids to bed around 9:30 and then sat up like adults, listening to Maxwell, Sade, Erykah Badu and Mos Def, talking into the wee hours and drinking a deeeeelicious cocktail my sister made with muddled blackberries, ginger, lemon, mint and gin. Yummmy!

Sunday, somehow, we peeled ourselves out of bed and took the whole lot to church. THAT was an adventure! But so worth it. You know I like going to church; but I really, really enjoy it right around Easter. So much positive, redemptive energy. So much encouragement to get better, help others, love and be loved.

The rest of the day, we spent preparing for the work week, cooking and cleaning up after the kids (which was useless and I don't know why I kept trying), refereeing fights and "he's not sharing!" fests, and letting the kids play outside with our next-door neighbors.

Tahira left with her family and Kwahil around 8 p.m. Sunday. We didn't even bother to bathe the kids (despite more hill-rolling) and just threw their PJs on and tossed them in bed.

When I left the house this morning at 8:15, they were all still asleep! I love it when we run those kids ragged like that. Can't think of a better way to start their spring break than exhausted and full of family-love.
Posted this photo on Facebook, with this caption: When the house is full of the kids' cousins, I'm thankful for so many things. Among them: Big families. Provisions from God to be able to feed and entertain the band of crazies. Giggles and silliness. My IUD.

Yay for SPRING!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kids make their own fun

You know how today, as an adult, we're often planning "fun" things to do. Like:
  • Go on a planned-down-to-the-last-second vacation (that you need a vacation to recover from);
  • Spend 2.5 months to find a date that works to get together with friends over lots of yummy drinks and desserts, or;
  • Pay a bunch of money to buy tickets, get a babysitter, park in a city garage and walk a mile, just to go to a too-loud concert?     
Remember when you were a kid and blowing bubbles in your milk with a straw was fun? Or digging for worms after a hard rain? Remember how great it was when we made our own fun?
Like, sliding down a hill, getting all scratchy from the grass?


Or pretending spaghetti was a plate full of "wormies" to eat?


I love how kids make their own fun, and find joy in the most mundane things.

And I love how having kids lets me live those silly moments right along with them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A little beach in the city

Yesterday after work, Lester took the kids to Herring Run Park. They played a little on the swings - which is Clair's favorite thing to do. And then they wandered back to the wooded part of the park, where there's a trail, lots of good climbing rocks and a sandy area along the stream.

They played in and along the sand, and came home with sand in their hair.

They tossed rocks into the stream and made ripples.

And they overturned logs and planks, in search of bugs and wriggly things.  Here, Lester told me later, Clair had just touched a slug, then licked her fingers and made a smacking sound. {Shudder!}

All of this awesomeness (and grossness) -- just three minutes from our house!

Baltimore City: My love/hate relationship with you is heavy on the love right now, just because of things like this.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Playing (in) the field

Yesterday, Michelle came to work sore and hobbling. She'd fallen down the stairs that morning and hurt her back. She was fine to work, but had a hard time lifting Clair or doing too much more than basic care.

So even though it was one of the first truly nice spring days we've had since forever, I knew she didn't take the kids outside to play. Which meant that I was determined to get them at least some outdoor time before bedtime.

So as SOON as I got home from work, I threw the first hat I could find on Clair's unmade head, put the boys' play shoes on and drove them to the field across the street from their school. I forgot to even change my shoes, I was in such a hurry.

My shoes ended up covered in mud. Cary's pants are dirt-stained and ruined. I forgot to bring tissues so I had to wipe Clair's constantly running nose with the hood of her fleece. (No judgment!)

But it was totally worth it.

We kicked, threw and bounced their balls all over the field. We could be as loud as we wanted! And we pretended to be baseball players, standing on the pitcher's mound, and running around the bases. (Well, Dean and I ran around the bases. Cary ran diagonally across the field and Clair stood at 1st base and screamed, "Mommy, come baaaaack!")


The kids spied a huge tree stump and said, "Can we climb that?" This is how Cary's light khaki pants got covered in tree-trunk-ickiness.

We walked to the stream and tried to throw sticks into it, but I got nervous about them falling to their deaths (or at least falling and getting wet and gross) in the stream, so we headed back.

And we left our mark on the near-empty field, so the world would know we came and we conquered.

On the way home, Clair picked up a dandelion, sniffed it and said, "Mmmm. Mells like oatmeal!" And I cracked up!
When I told my Dad later, he said, "What kind of oatmeal do y'all buy?" LOL.

At home, Lester threw the Dirty Dudes and Dudette in the tub, while I got dinner ready. The kids were STARVING and ate their food without any cajoling.  (Tip for getting kids to eat dinner: Withhold food until the last minute! #winning!)

And right after dinner, we tossed them in their beds and they were out like lights!

Bedtime was a little late because we didn't get home from the field until 7 and then we had to get all three bathed and lotioned and pajamed.

But I don't care. It was a great time out exploring and climbing and just doing whatever they wanted to do.

Can't wait for more days like this, now that this neverending winter finally seems gone for good.

Yay for spring!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blinding them with science!

Quite accidentally, this past weekend turned out to be science weekend for the Davis clan.

Lester had to do the President's Cup at Camden Yards most of the day, so instead of me being able to take Clair to tumbling class while Dad hung out with the boys, I had to find something we all could do together. Luckily, the Science Alive folks were happy to add Clair in to the morning's activities: Life Under a Rock.
Playing with plastic bugs.
We learned about how to tell the difference between a spider and other insects, and the kids got to hold a hissing cockroach (Ewwww!) and composting worms. We also went outside and turned over rocks and discussed the worms and other bugs we found there. (This was on the boys' synapse checklist! And since they don't turn 4 until next month, I'm counting this as being on deadline!)  

Cockroaches = gross.
These little puny composting worms have nothing on the fat "bloodsuckers" we used to find when we were kids after it rained. I'm going to have to keep looking for those.
We even got to make earthworms out of nude pantyhose and cotton stuffing (finally a use for nude pantyhose!) And we made our own insects out of Play-Doh and toothpicks. Cary made an ant. Dean made a centipede or some such, and Clair made some mutant creature I hope to never see crawling along my baseboards.
It's got legs coming out of its head!
Then on Sunday, we met up with Kelly and Mark down at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's monthly rocket launch. Which is awesome. And free! (Beth, do you know about this? Your boys would love it!)

Kids and kids-at-heart build their own rockets and then the cool people at NASA attach them to launchers, do a countdown, hit some magic button and shoot them up into the air. Then they give tips about how to improve on the kid's next attempt at rocket-building. It was totally, thoroughly cool.

 Too bad my two little 'fraidy-cats were mostly freaked out by the noise (which isn't even all that loud).

Here they are before the launch started, completely enthralled.
And here they are once the launching started in earnest.

Hiding behind Lester.

Good thing there was a lot more to do, inside and outside.

Climbing the rockets.
Naomi, saying, "Blast off!"
Kelly and Mark wisely brought a stomp launcher, which was a huge hit with my boys, until they lost one of Naomi's rockets in a tree and broke another one fighting over it. Then, it was time to give her her toy back.
I love this photo of my three little moonwalkers.
Obligatory astronaut cut-out photo 1.

Obligatory astronaut cut-out photo 2.
Obligatory astronaut cut-out photo 3.
Trying out a real space capsule! The sign inside says that two astronauts shared this space for 14 days - in space. Oh helllls no. Also, so many potty-related questions.
Me and my sweet-pea!
The whole rocket-loving brood. Future astronauts, one and all!
Today, Michelle is off, visiting her best friend in Virginia, so Lester picked the kids up from school and is right now, as I type, at the Maryland Science Center!

Next week, for balance, we're gonna do lots of library-outings. :-)

Friday, April 4, 2014

I didn't realize one damn thing.

Because of a weird aberration in our family schedule, I had a few hours alone with Clair this morning.

I read a little to her, and she "read" back to me. We played chase through the house. She watched "Pingu" while I did her hair, and I cracked up every time she cracked up at the mischievous little penguin and his antics.

And she decided that she wanted to do Cary and Dean's dinosaur puzzle, even though she has no idea how to put together a big kid puzzle. She made a huge mess on the floor and got hilariously mad when the mismatched pieces wouldn't fit.

And while I was sitting there enjoying my baby girl immensely, I realized...

Well, you know what? I didn't actually realize anything.

Don't you get sick of feeling like every moment is supposed to be some great epiphany about parenting or magical childhoods or the meaning of life or some such?

Really, I just sat on the floor and enjoyed being with my daughter. That's all.

And it was pretty great. So I thought I'd share.

Happy Friday, y'all.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Time keeps on ticking (measuring the years in beds)

One night this week, while I was at a work-thing for a colleague, Lester surprised me by taking the boys' guardrails off their beds.

So in just under 4 years, we've gone from this:

Their cribs before they were even born. This is the room that is now Clair's.
 to this:

We moved the boys' cribs into the guest room when I was pregnant with Clair, to make room for her things in the small room.
to this:
After Dean tried to jump to his death from the crib a couple times -- toddler beds!
We converted their cribs to toddler beds in December 2012.
to now this:
After bath, Dean was having a hard night, and felt the need to take to his bed, like it was a fainting couch.
At some point, these beds are supposed to be able to convert to twin-size (though I'm not sure how) and then to full-sized. So we have a ways to go before we've gotten our money's worth out of them. But I already feel a little bit like, "Whoa! Where did the time go?" How on Earth am I going to feel when they're in FULL beds?

I remember when they both fit in a Pack 'n Play, all teeny and sweet, with fat rolls on their legs.

And now they have no guardrails. They get up in the morning and make their beds. (The night they got their guardrails taken off, Cary woke up at FOUR A.M. to make his bed, he was so excited. Yay for us.) They wake up in the middle of the night and take themselves to the bathroom. They stay up way too late, sitting up in their beds, giggling and singing and talking about things Lester and I have no part of.

How did this happen? Where did the time go?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

They can't "let it go"

We have relaxed quite a bit on the TV-watching thing, allowing the kids to watch Netflix cartoons on weekends, and when Clair is either 1) getting her hair done or 2) getting her nebulizer treatment.

It's amazing to me how well TV glues them to one spot, and personally, I'm not that mad about it.

But we still haven't graduated to movies -- mostly because the kids still seem way too young to me to sit through two hours of plot development. They can sit for two hours, but only when there are changes in episodes or even whole shows. But one thing for two hours? Nope, not my kids.

So color me surprised when one day Dean was walking around our house singing, "Let it Go," the award-winning and oft-imitated song from the Disney movie "Frozen."

The kids haven't seen the movie and he had no idea where he'd heard it. So I showed him -- and the other two -- the video, with the princess, or whatever she is, belting out her therapeutic theme song in an icy tundra.

Now what did I go and do that for?

Ever since then, Lester and I have been forced to play the video - connected to our iPod dock, so it fills the house -- over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over (you get the picture). I have to play it in the car, streaming through the speakers, no matter where we're going. And when the car stops, I have to keep playing it, all tinny and small through my phone as we walk to the house. I had to create a Disney playlist on my Pandora account and hope, no pray, the song comes on first in the playlist. NPR in the morning has been trumped by "Let it Go." I used to be able to distract them with Katy Perry ("Look kids, a LION!") or, my favorite, Pharrell's "Happy." But no more. It's all ice cold Disney princess emo all the time.

Kill. Me. Now.

The only saving grace is listening to Dean try his absolute hardest to learn every single word and match Idina Menzel's passion with all his might. And watching Clair do interpretive dance to the song, twirling and waving her hands, ballerina-like, then running through the house on her tippy-toes, dancing. Once, Lester said Clair "caught the Holy Ghost" when the song came on the iPod. I seriously almost choked from laughing. 
[Note: Do you know what "catching the Holy Ghost" is? If not, you won't get why that was so funny. But take my word for it, it was.] 
Even Cary, who is not really a big performer -- even he gets into it, singing whatever words he can make out and doing a little old man jig.

It's hilarious to watch them enjoy a song so much. Truth be told, I actually rather enjoy their zeal for the song. They truly love it (who knows why. what the hell is a frozen fractal anyway?) and it makes me so happy to see them so moved by music.

Maybe one day I'll get them hooked on New Edition!!