Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yes, I'm finally posting again!


Just a quickie...


I read this today and was reminded of how I felt exactly a year ago, when Nate was only days old. Or maybe it is how I felt about 11.5 months ago, when most of the help (i.e. my mom, dad and husband) had to get back to their jobs and lives for most of the time.


Overwhelmed, wonderful, terrified, sweet. Many different feelings all at once.


When I first started reading, I actually had that sense that I think all women get after they're done having kids: I wanted another one! But then I kept reading and I was like, "ok... no."


And now, how are we doing?


Great!


Apart from some sleep issues. (Yes, it is ongoing. I'm hoping it will end when the kids are all past 3 or so. Right?) And the ganging up on the parents issue, which only mischievously happens a couple of times a day, but still. Oh, and the "Nate gets into everything" issue, but that's to be expected of a 12 month old.


There's plenty of giggling that happens around here.

video

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Recently I have lacked the motivation to blog. I have thought of things I'd like to write; I've even jotted down notes, so I wouldn't forget. But when I finish the day, I feel like reading other people's blogs, not writing my own!

But then I remember how fast the kids change, and how I want to record the things they say and do so that they can look back and see that they are cherished, but more than that, see the progress they have made.


On that note, here is a little update of the small men in my life.

Sam

  • Sam recently joined a local soccer class that he loves! We got him registered a couple of weeks after the rest of the class started, but he was able to jump in and had no problem with the skills the coaches asked him to do. He really enjoys sports, though his passive nature is still hanging on. He's got a competitive side, so we'll see where that takes him!


  • Recently Sam figured out the first several notes of Twinkle Twinkle on his electric guitar. Mike and I didn't even know he was working on it! I think it's time for some formal music training...
  • Sam loves his baby brother. He's a great big brother to Levi, too, but he dotes on Nate. In fact, both Levi and Sam give Nate kisses and get a kick out of seeing him try to do new things. Sam will sit and play with him on the floor, and Nate loves it.
  • Daddy is the apple of Sam's eye. They play an indoor version of baseball every evening before bed; I think this must be Sam's favorite time of the day.

  • I've been trying to find creative outlets for him recently, crafty things that he, as a boy, might enjoy doing. Playdo, water-play, and cooking have all been things he enjoys, but this project was also a favorite. It doesn't look like much, but it was fun to make! It came from this website; I'm waiting with baited breath for her a month of "boycrafts" in November.




  • He loves pretend play. He always seems to be conducting a little play in his head, usually him vs. the bad guys, and if you listen carefully you can hear him whispering the dialogue. He also loves to play dress up, boy-style. In the picture above he said he's a boxer-pirate. We've already gotten some good playtime from his Halloween costume. And one long weekend afternoon recently we all got into the spirit and "camped" in the living room.


Levi

  • Levi turned 2 1/2 years old this month! I've read that the terrible twos peak at 28 months, and so far that holds true for us. He seems to be a little more cooperative now than he was just 6 weeks ago, so I'm planning on potty training soon. Except that I've been saying that for the past 6 weeks!

  • Levi has had a terrible case of stranger/separation anxiety for most of the year. It was bad. So bad that he would cry and cling to me if anyone so much as spoke to him. But in September, Levi had a breakthrough. After 4 months of not being able to leave him with anyone other than Daddy, Levi is willingly going to kids' church and the childcare at my weekly Bible study. I'm so proud of him... and wow, do I feel liberated!
  • He loves music! Recently he's been trying to play the guitars that are hanging around our play area. They are too big for him, so he has his own method of strumming - a little like stand-up bass. He also loves to sing.
  • Levi has been "talking" for a long time, but he's really hard to understand. Some days are better than others, but it's progressively easier to catch what he's saying, and he regularly surprises me when I understand him. He can pick out most letters of the alphabet and can count to 20. And he loves to call Mike and I by our first names!
  • He loves to play in sandboxes, and loves anything with wheels.

  • Recently, he has a new lovey. It is this orange block. If it goes missing for more than 20 minutes or so, he runs around trying to find it, asking me, "orange block, mommy?" It comes with us to the park, to the store, to Bible study, to bed, to meals.


  • Levi is very physical. He loves to wrestle, jump and climb. For the past two months he's been able to climb in and out of his crib. We tried moving him over to the bottom bunk, but he wouldn't go to sleep, so we've just kept him in his crib. Strangely enough, he doesn't mind the top bunk. Sometimes we'll find him there in the morning sleeping with Sam!

Nate

  • Nate is now 10 months old. His favorite activity is sitting in the middle of our play area with lots of little toys surrounding him. He's not crawling or walking yet, but he's getting really close! He gets up on all fours to reach a toy, but then scoots back into a seated position. Not long now, though.

  • Nate has learned that if he needs to communicate something, he'd better be clear. If he doesn't want to eat something, he tightens his lips and shakes his head. If he doesn't want to sit somewhere, he'll arch his back. If he doesn't want a toy, he'll throw it across the room. If he doesn't want to wear a bib, he'll pull it off!
  • As you've seen in prior posts, he's also a budding musician. He loves to move to music. And is this a little foreshadowing?
  • Nate had a milestone recently: His first shiner! He fell over in an attempt to reach something, and hit his eye on a toy. Thankfully it healed within a day.
  • Nate already likes to ham it up for the camera. When he sees the red eye reduction light on my camera start to blink, he puts on his best grin!
  • He loves his brothers, and is aching to run after them!

There's the news of the Godzwa boys in a nutshell. Next up... our visit to the pumpkin patch!

Better Than The Best


A couple of weeks ago, when the weather was unseasonably warm and the mosquitos were making a huge comeback, Sam and I were talking about his bug-bitten legs. Mosquitos love him.

He brought up the question: will there be mosquitos in Heaven? I had to think about that for a minute, but came to the conclusion and answered that maybe mosquitos would be there, but that they wouldn't bite us, since there is nothing sad in heaven and nothing that can harm us there. Only good things will be in heaven. In fact, the Bible says that Heaven is better than the best thing we can imagine.

A minute later, Sam said, "So there will be moon bounces in Heaven?"
*

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dancing

Nobody can say Nate doesn't have rhythm.

video

The large "box" you see Sam and Levi playing in is actually the shelf that belongs in our bedroom. We had left the back off so that it didn't cover up our thermostat control, but the shelf wasn't sturdy enough without it. So yesterday I brought it out to the living room to finish up. I figured Sam would have a great time helping me nail (which he did). I put on some music to help us work, and the shelf was christened "the dancing box".

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Musings on Books and Sports

We've been reading a lot of books lately. In fact, we always read at least 2 a day during bedtime. Sam has a school assignment to read at least 100 books this year, so we're trying to fit in more and varied selections.

A few years ago I considered writing a children's book. Take a look at some of what's available in the children's section of your local bookstore and you'll come to the same conclusion I did - anybody could write a children's book. Not necessarily a good one, and who knows what it takes to get a publisher to look at yours, but still.

My motivation was fueled by my attempts at finding books for little boys that didn't include dump trucks or trains. I even came up with a few titles and concepts:

1. The World Is My Drum

2. Sometimes Mom Lets Me Drive

3. It's Not A Stick

The titles (and bare bones concepts behind them) are as far as I've gotten. If anyone wants to take a stab at any of these, go for it, because I think they would be great little boy books! Or maybe, someday when I'm a little more ambitious, I'll try myself. These days my main ambition is to get a decent night's sleep.

Speaking of books for boys, the David Series have become favorites around here. They are about a toddler named David who gets into all sorts of trouble. This used to bother me -- a book series about a boy whose parents are usually scolding or reprimanding him? But the illustrations are priceless and my boys love them. They show what a toddler's life is truly like, and the kids can relate, I think.
But I digress.
In our attempt to read more books, we've been raiding our bookshelves for some that haven't been read lately. Recently I pulled out our well-read copy of Goodnight Moon for Levi. He enjoys going through it, pointing out the pictures.
He points at the clocks, the socks, the kittens, the mittens... the little toy house, and the young mouse... the comb, the brush...
But when we get to the page that says "goodnight nobody, goodnight mush", he points at the bowl of mush and says, "Nobody!" He won't call it mush. In fact, if I tell him, "no, it's mush" his response is, "oatmeal".
And it makes me wonder if this book is even appropriate for 2-year-olds. The "nobody" page is simply in there for the sake of the the rhythm of the poetry, but it confuses my kids. Also, it's a little spooky. I mean, saying good night to nobody? And really, who is the old lady saying hush? Why does she just sort of disappear? Yikes.

Just kidding. We love that book.

On another note, Sam and I played a modified version of one-on-one soccer today at the playground, and it was tons of fun for both of us! I've been a little frustrated when trying to engage him in play at home - seems like he's always bored or just doesn't want to play. Soccer was perfect. Not only did he suggest it, but it got us both laughing and some exercise, too. Soccer mom days, here I come!




Monday, September 08, 2008

After only 10 days of School...

... Sam has a runny nose.



And so begins the war against the common cold.



Common Cold: 1
Jen: 0



So, here's my gameplan: I'm regularly disinfecting our home (counters, doorknobs, light switches, toys...). Upon returning home I require all hands to be washed. When I remember, I use waterless handwash on the kids and myself when we're out, especially if I give them snacks. I'm going to start Sam on AirBorne Jr., and find out if Levi can also take it. We're all going to get flu shots. And every night I pray that we'd all stay healthy.



I don't know if all this will help. I'll let you know.



On a lighter note, here are some fun pictures:

Check out this cutie! He's not crawling yet, but he's starting to scoot just a little if there's something he's trying to reach. And can you make out those pearly whites? They came in about 2 weeks ago.


Rub-a-dub-dub, three boys in a tub...




And I couldn't resist including this one:

Monday, September 01, 2008

Return to School

Ah, the first day of school. The transition back to the school routine has gone so smoothly, I can't believe it has only been a week since it began! No worries about wanting to stick too close to home.
Here's my excited boy, all ready to go. The whole family went along to see what his classroom would be like. The experience was much different this year; most of the kids had been in Pre-K last year, so there wasn't too much clinging and crying involved.

I'm enjoying the new routine, too. I realized that having all the kids with me all the time was trying because they all wanted mommy all the time. Now I can easily spend one-on-one time with each of them: Levi during Nate's nap and Nate during Levi's nap, and because they are happier after some mommy time I am able to spend extra time with Sam in the afternoon. I can also get some housework done.

Speaking of housework, I've been doing some major cleaning lately. I feel as though my household is recovering from infant-hood, a time during which it has endured no deep cleaning or organizing, but much dirty-ing and dis-organizing. I've organized several bins of hand-me-downs, as well as some boxes of books that were given to us. I've cleaned the bathrooms, washed windows, washed slipcovers, disinfected doorknobs, and mopped floors. It feels sooooo good. It's therapeutic.

And speaking of feeling good, I'm also starting a routine of walking Sam to school a couple of times a week. I strap on the running shoes, put the little brothers in the double jogging stroller, and out the door we go. Sam actually enjoys jogging alongside me, so we do that on and off during the walk to school. Afterwards I take a longer route home to get in a little extra distance.


Levi and Nate get to bond a little in the stroller. Hopefully I can keep up the jogging throughout the fall, at least until it gets too cold!

And just for fun, here's a little playtime Levi and Nate had the other day, while Sam was in school:


video

For the Love of Boys


Upon arrival at our favorite park last week, Levi spotted one of his favorite things: the red ride-on speed car, left by some well-meaning neighbor whose kid had outgrown it. There are several of these ride-on toys that now have their home in the basketball court of our park. And as he was imagining himself buzzing down the speedway, he found himself surrounded by not one, but 5 boys, all at least 3 times his size. He realized what was happening and started to back away until I came and let the boys know they needed to wait until he was done.


I remember when Sam was a toddler and I'd take him to the park. He'd be precariously climbing the stairs of the play equipment, using great care while I stood right next to him to catch him if, heaven forbid, he fell the 8 inches to the wood chips below. Then some big 4 or 5 year old would push past us, and try to climb on the handrail Sam was using. I'd think to myself, "jeez, can't they see there are little kids here who can get hurt?! Where are the parents of these crazy, huge kids?"


Now I realize, the crazy, huge kids are the ones who really need some time outside their home, climbing on the park equipment!


The boys who tried to steal Levi's car turned out to be kids from Sam's school, mainly 3rd and 4th graders and a little brother, who had been in Sam's Pre-K class. After I chased them away from Levi, they proceeded into the basketball court and used the other ride-ons for a game of smash-up.


As I watched them, I saw my future pass before my eyes. Boys play hard. Really, really hard. These boys were not being mischievous. In fact, I know them to be really good kids. Sweet, even. But wow, kind of scary, full of testosterone even though they are hardly close to puberty.


Another mom of a 1 year old boy who had also been playing with the ride-ons later said to me, "Man, those boys were crazy!" And I remembered my own past thoughts. And I realize that boys who were older than 3 really used to make me cringe. But now, as I watched these boys, I felt a little proud for all their physicality, and the fact that they were not afraid of running at each other at full speed in puny little plastic cars and smashing them together. I though, Sam would love to do that, too, if he were a little bigger.


Another visit to the same park gave me a different observation. I was nursing Nate on a bench while Sam and Levi played. A little boy I knew was playing nearby with a dump truck, loading it up with wood chips. Suddenly, it seemed as though a light bulb appeared over his head. He stood up, pulled down his pants, and peed into the dump truck. I knew where his dad was (only several feet away), but he was preoccupied with another child, and I was nursing. And I kind of wanted to see how far this would go.


The boy poured the pee down the slide. Then he filled the truck up again. Then he added some wood chips. This continued for several minutes, until the dad turned around and realized what was going on. He rushed the boy off to clean him and the toys up.


I can't say I felt particularly proud, although I do admire something about the scene. I mean, a girl would never in a million years be so creative. (Yet, I'm glad that I don't think that Sam would ever act on such a thought. We'll have to wait and see with the other two). More than that, I got a really good laugh.


So this is a post, not about my kids, but about boys. I am learning about them. And I have to admit, they are not what I expected. But I sure do enjoy having them around.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Summer's End

This summer has suddenly slipped through my fingers. It has been great at moments, trying at others. But my heart is still stolen by these little boys who demand so much yet give me so much at the same time. How could my heart not be stolen by this?:





We are getting very close to a time when they all play together. Nate sits up on his own these days, and is reaching for things but hasn't yet figured out how to actually move. When this happens, my life will simultaneously become easier and harder: I'll have to watch his every move, but he'll be able to entertain himself better and interact with Sam and Levi more.

All the kids have become affectionate of late. Kisses abound. Not good when we have germs. But I'll take it, especially since I'd trade them kissing each other for hitting each other any day (I know that's coming, so I'll enjoy it while it lasts!)


We all got sick about 10 days ago. It was some sort of stealth sinus thing, where you'd wake up in the night and feel all stuffy, even head-achy, but there wasn't much nose blowing or coughing, etc. Levi ended up having the worse symptoms, and ended up with conjunctivitis and two ear infections.

I don't think I even realized I had it, except that my ears seemed stuffy and I felt run down. I thought it was just sleep deprivation from helping the kids during the night, as none of them were sleeping very well. But now that I'm better I can see how it effected my energy level.

Our sickness intersected with Mike's first few days of activities back on campus. This was unfortunate, since he was very busy and gone a lot, and we needed to stay close to home so that everyone got their naps and we didn't spread the wealth, I mean germs too much. That meant we did a lot of this:





Ugh. Sam was even bored with TV after a couple of days. So I started making a real effort to change things, and the pst couple of days we've had lots of creative play.

And a random fact about Levi: He can fall asleep anywhere, if it is between 11 and 12 am and his is riding in a stroller or car. He is helpless.


Notice the half-eaten cracker.

The thing I'll miss most about summer is all of the fabulous family time. Although it makes more work to have Sam home, he is a sweet heart and loves to be home as much as I love having him here. And there's no trading having the evenings and weekends and vacations with Mike. We feel renewed as a couple and as a family, I think.

School starts for Sam on Monday. I am both relieved and melancholy. There goes another summer of endless hours to spend with my sweet boy who is growing up so quickly. He feels the same way. Yesterday he was not himself: pushing the envelope, moody, short-tempered. I asked him what was wrong, and guessed out loud that maybe he didn't want to start school. (A big hint was that this behavior began immediately when I got home from his kindergarten orientation.) He broke down and said, "I'm going to miss you!" Ugh. Break my heart, why don't ya?

But he's going to love it. And so am I. I think it's funny how much I looked forward to the freedom of summer, and now am so looking forward to the structure of the school year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Weekend with the Godzwa clan

Last weekend we were in Erie, our old stomping grounds. Both Mike and I grew up in Erie (or should I say, Erie County?). We hadn't been there for probably a year and half, so before we left Sam kept mentioning how much snow is always in Erie. Apparently we haven't been there during the summer in a very long time.


The weather was so pleasant, it was enough to make me consider moving back! But then I remembered the snow that covers the ground for 3 months of the year and came back to my senses. ;)


We had a great time, staying at Mike's mom's (or Grandma G's) house with cousins Josh and Abbie. On Saturday everyone headed to the Erie Zoo, where they not only got to see animals, but also pirates and Ronald McDonald!


Sam grew some facial hair while hanging with those pirates!



Getting an autographed picture of Ronald McDonald.



Here are all the cousins who went to the zoo, posing on a termite mound.



Sunday we went to church in the morning, and then to the Lake Erie Peninsula, Presque Isle, for the annual Godzwa family picnic. It's always fun to see cousins, second cousins, third cousins, aunts, uncles, and several other relatives that I know are family but don't know exactly how. The Godzwas are great - it was fun to catch up with people we hadn't seen in awhile, as well as participate in the razzing (or being razzed) about sports teams and other fascinating subjects. Good food, too, including pepperoni bread!



Putting away some grub... er, hot dogs! We don't get to grill out much in our apartment, you know. ;)


I think Nate got his head shape from Mike's side of the family... Or he's just Uncle Jim's Mini-Me.



After the picnic we headed over to the beach. The best thing about Lake Erie is that it's big enough to feel like it's more than a lake, but you don't have the salty water, high winds or larger waves of the ocean. This particular beach, Beach 11, is on the bay side of the peninsula, so it is very shallow and calm, perfect for kids.

The water was a little cold, but the sand was really warm so Sam kept alternating between the two.


Levi enjoyed the sand more than the water.



Dave and Kelly, Tony and Corey, we missed you guys! Maybe next year?

Laundry Lego Land


Sam got his first set of big-kid Lego's for his 5th birthday. My brother really loved Lego's as a kid and went on to become an engineer, so I thought maybe it was just his niche. But now I can see why: they are tons of fun. Here's what we created one day last week, in between laundry cycles.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

An Attempt At A Portrait

At one point during vacation we did our best to get a picture of all the cousins. I was trying to figure out which one turned out best, and found it quite amusing.

Where's Levi?



There he is... being held down by my arm!

Oops. He's escaping!

OK, now he's back. But so is my hand. And we've got some funny facial experessions.

Hmm. This could have been good, except for Sam's "pose".


Could this one be the best? Maybe we should quit while we're ahead.

We're losing control.


Levi's gone again.



Hmmmm...

Better luck next year?

Vacation!

We returned from vacation 2.5 weeks ago, and it has taken me this long to finally post about it! That's partially because I have gotten out of "summer vacation" mode, and things fell apart a little in the past couple weeks. Not really, but it hasn't exactly been smooth sailing, either. The boys get cranky when they are bored.


Plus, a few other things have been going on, which I will update you on in a future post. (Why do I keep saying these things? It seriously puts me into procrastination mode!)

*************


Smith Mt. Lake was great! We were with my parents, my brother and his family, and my sister and her husband. Our rented home was on the water with a little beach and dock. Here's the view from the back deck of the house:


Yes, that's a double-decker boat dock! It was particularly fun for this reason:





Mike was the resident thrill-seeker and took the plunge off the top deck first, but my brother Geoff was soon to follow. Sam thought it was most fun when Daddy jumped off the top at the same time he jumped off the bottom. It made him feel empowered.








The little sandy beach was perfect for the preschool/early elementary set. There was lots of fun sand-and-water-play going on:











Mom and Dad picked up some nightcrawlers for us, and we were able to do a little fishing. The kids had some fun, especially with the worms. They even caught a few fish!





On our last full day, my dad rented a pontoon boat and we spent the day on the lake. So much fun!





The best part was the innertube. Most of us went out for a ride, which was just right for the kids because the boat maxed out at 12 mph with all of us on it!





After frolicking in the lake, it was fun to take advantage of the hot tub on the lower porch.



Besides all the water activity, we got in plenty of family time. Nate had fun discovering daddy's ear:

Nana (my Mom) provided some much-needed stimulation when it was raining, as well as other times. She spent time with the kids playing games, doing crafts, teaching Levi several letters, and building a system of tunnels from carboard boxes that became a little playhouse for the kids in the lower rec room!

Nate got to snuggle with Paw Paw (my dad) more than once:


Sam had a birthday party, complete with Pinata:


And there was lots of cousin bonding time.

Sam and Emma, who are only 6 months apart, particularly hit it off. At one point early in the week, they were downstairs unsupervised in the "clubhouse" which they were supposedly decorating with markers. They got carried away and ended up colored in markers themselves. Arms, legs, faces, eyelids, and even areas where, well, clothing should have been were nicely decorated. We tried not to laugh as we handed down the punishment: they couldn't sleep in the same room that night. It didn't happen again.

Evenings were spent chatting, as well as watching hilarious Rhett & Link videos and a couple movies (The Bucket List and Bella - both worth renting). All in all, it was a great time away from the city with my hubby and kids. But more than that, when I visit my family I am reminded of the wonderful family I have been born into, and wish we could be with them more often.