I Swear We’re Still Alive

…it’s just been a very crazy October. Here’s a brief list of what we’ve been up to:

-The usual crazy (Ian work, me babysitting, somehow finding time to feed everyone every day and maybe even sleep
-My second race (6.6 K!)
-Getting my bottom braces on (hurts way worse than my top ones did)
-Researching and then buying a minivan so I can do school pickups (we bought it with cash! Woo!)
-Also selling one of our cars (but that ended up easier than I thought it would be)
-Switching cable and Internet providers (finally found something cheaper than our still overpriced FiOS)
-Getting Alisdair fitted for his tux for our first wedding this weekend and then our second next weekend (which is across the country)
-Preparing for our first trip and then vacation (coinciding with the second wedding)
-Dealing with the worst diaper rash ever and discovering that figuring out how to buy disposable diapers on the cheap is not an activity for the faint of heart
-Also, everyone has had a nasty cold (except me….hoping it doesn’t hit right at vacation time!)

After today, the twins are moving so I will only (ha!) have three kids here in the morning, and then four kids in the afternoon (will be picking up the kindergartener from school.) My frame of reference has altered enough that that is going to feel…quiet.

Hoping then to get back to regular blogging! I am really, really excited for vacation. Alisdair is old enough now to remember a trip out to the West Coast, so we’re hoping to make some good memories for him!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Tots Talk…Apparently A Lot

Note: If you don’t like those mommyblog posts where the blogger just goes on and on about how awesome and smart her kid is, you should skip this post.

In other words: Enjoy, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and godparents!

So Éamon is part of a research study where his behavior and development is observed every few months until he’s preschool-age. It’s cool because he gets a stipend, we get something fun and different to do every once in a while, and we’re hopefully helping someone understand child development better. He had a study visit today. He was pretty shy, so some of the assessments that they did he didn’t complete, even though they are the kind of thing he does at home all of the time. No big, he doesn’t get a grade. Eventually he starts warming up, and asking to play with certain toys, and the researcher remarks:

Researcher: He has quite a few words, doesn’t he?
Me: Yes.
Researcher: How many, would you say?
Me: Um…
Researcher: More or less than eight?
Me: Oh, more.

Not wanting to be a ridiculous show-off, I didn’t go ahead to answer the previous question with “fifty,” which is about my estimate. After all, fifty is a much bigger number than eight.


Since this is my blog, and since the researcher also handed me a huge pile of paperwork to do that included a sheet where I had to mark all the words that Éamon can say, I figured I might as well list them out somewhere. The list was pretty comprehensive so while there may be a few more they didn’t ask about, here is all the stuff that Éamon can say (with his pronunciations in parentheses.) You’ll probably note as you go down the list that they are grouped by “type” of word.

  • baa baa
  • choo choo
  • grrrr
  • ouch
  • quack quack
  • vroom
  • woof woof
  • yum yum
  • bear
  • dog
  • duck
  • fish
  • kitty
  • pig
  • plane
  • car
  • train
  • ball
  • block
  • book
  • doll
  • banana
  • bread
  • carrots
  • cheese
  • chicken
  • cookie
  • cracker
  • food
  • juice
  • water
  • toast
  • pasta
  • coat
  • hat
  • pajamas
  • pants
  • shirt
  • shoes
  • shorts
  • socks
  • belly
  • belly button
  • ear
  • eye
  • foot
  • hair
  • hand
  • head
  • knee
  • leg
  • mouth
  • nose
  • toe
  • bathtub
  • bed
  • chair
  • couch
  • crib
  • door
  • potty
  • sink
  • blanket
  • bottle
  • broom
  • clock
  • fork
  • glasses
  • light
  • pillow
  • purse
  • spoon
  • phone
  • towel
  • trash
  • vacuum
  • church
  • flower
  • home
  • house
  • outside
  • pool
  • rain
  • rock
  • shovel
  • slide
  • swing
  • work
  • baby
  • brother
    (“bruv” – he knows
    this refers to Alisdair)
  • Alisdair
  • Da-da
  • Nona
  • Grandma
  • Pap
  • Ma-ma
  • The names of all four
    kids that I babysit
    (one of them is in
    school most days now)
  • bath
  • bye-bye
  • dinner
    (“din din”)
  • hi
  • nap
  • night night
    (“nigh nigh”)
  • no
  • peekaboo
  • please
  • shush
  • yes
  • clean
  • eat
  • done
  • get
  • go
  • help
  • hug
  • play
  • stop
  • tickle
    (“tik tik”)
  • all gone
  • cold
  • hot
  • hurt
  • sleepy
  • me
  • mine
  • down
  • off
  • out
  • more

If I’m counting correctly, we’re at 132 (including names.) Ian reminded me that Éamon can also say “baseball” (“buh-ball”) and “football (“fuh-ball”) and “Steelers” (“See-uh”) – and yes, he recognizes both games and the Steelers logo. So I guess that brings us up to 135.

I don’t keep nearly as close track of child development milestones as I did with Alisdair at this age (as far as making sure they are “on track”), but I do feel like a bit of a proud mama knowing that Éamon is speaking so well. A few of his words would sound strange to other people (I’m thinking about his pronunciation of “pajamas” in particular – “jim jim” would probably bewilder a lot of people), but for the most part his voice is clear and with gesturing/signing and context he is very understandable. After I did this inventory, I did go ahead and look. He is ahead – around this age 8-15 is normal (I guess that’s why the researcher asked if it was more or less than eight), but also around 18 months kids experience a language explosion where they add 10ish words per day, and I think that’s where we are right now with Éamon.


So yeah, I’m a show-offy mom. But oh well, that’s what my toddler is talking about today.

Posted in Éamon is 1 | Tagged ,

7 Quick Takes about adjusting routines and two year old destruction

— 1 —

Alisdair has always been resourceful when it comes to figuring out ways to avoid sleeping. We’ve got a nighttime routine pretty well nailed down, now: bath, PJs, banana, brush teeth, potty, book, prayers, and then sleep, armed with exactly one cup of water, a book until his room is too dark, and his “loveys” consisting of a stuffed cow and soft baby doll (I asked over a year ago what their names were, and Alisdair looked at me like I was a total idiot before telling me, “Cow and Doll.”)

Sometimes he will come out and go to the bathroom, which doesn’t bother me as long as he goes by himself (which he can! The first night that happened I was ready to throw a party in the living room!) The past few nights, though, he’s developed a new strategy: about ten minutes after getting in bed, he will proudly come out to me, holding out his finger and saying, “Look, Mommy, I have a boogie!”

So I guess the “nightly nose blow before bed” is now going to be a thing.

— 2 —

Ian has told me stories about piranhas in the Mon River (though actually I thought it was longer ago, and that video was only three years ago. Yikes.). There’s now a suspected alligator in the Allegheny River.

I don’t think there are many of us, but I am one of those Americans who is quite content with cool, even cold weather, and snow. I do not wish to live in the Everglades. I do not do large, poisonous and/or vicious animals and/or bugs – and they do seem to multiply as one travels closer to the equator. Even though we have yet to go, I have had nightmares about visiting Ian’s parents at their new condo in the Carolinas, because there is an alligator in a nearby pond that I am convinced is going to kill my children.

I do not need this in Pennsylvania. I am going to add this to my list of, “Reasons we need to move north yesterday” (other entries include, “it doesn’t count as snow unless it lasts more than a day,” and “temperatures in 90s plus high humidity.”) Now, we did have a solid winter and reasonably cool summer, so I have not been as convincing as of late, but I think the alligator is definitely a point in my favor.

— 3 —

As part of week 3 with 5 kiddos here during the day, I’ve learned that necessity is the mother of invention. Our playroom was very well designed for Alisdair and Éamon. Things are accessible but not always out, and every toy has a spot. But when you add 2 year olds to the mix, a few things had to change. I had forgotten that two year olds tend to dump. Alisdair will dump out one of our small bins, too, but only in pursuit of a particular item, that he will then play with. The twins will dump out everything, then look at it all over the floor, and become so overwhelmed that they just scream, or throw it, or head toward other cleaner areas of the house to find new things to dump out all over the place.

IMG_0829 (this took about two minutes)

So even though I thought I had it down, I’ve had to figure out a few things to ensure that Alisdair (and the other three year old I watch) can access things they want to play with, while limiting the twins’ destructive power. My favorite innovation was rubber bands. I tend to save the rubber bands from produce, because hey, they’re perfectly good and don’t take up much room, but I don’t use rubber bands too often – mostly to help keep things closed while transporting them. But after cleaning up puzzles that the twins have no interest in actually attempting for the billionth time this week, I decided to wrap each box with rubber bands. The three year olds can get them off if they wish, but it’s (so far) an effective deterrent for the younger kids.

I also need to figure out a way to block them from the TV and associated devices, while still keeping them accessible for Ian and me. I’m thinking about maybe some kind of plastic/plexiglass/etc covering that can be removed/lifted by an adult, but not by a kid. I have no idea if that is workable, or if that is going to be too much cost or hassle because I am working on getting them to not touch that stuff, anyway. But in the meantime I’d rather nothing get absolutely destroyed.

— 4 —

Ian found a list of the RADical Days activities and I was happy to add a bunch to our calendar.

— 5 —

It may just be that I’m getting more discriminating, but I feel like the couponing has not been as good for the past month or so. I do know coupons tend to run in cycles, and that sales tend to as well – the trick to couponing well is that you hit the best coupons with the best sales. But I feel like as summer has ended, there haven’t been as many. I did great stocking up on toiletries and other bathroom stuff in the spring and early summer, and every now and then I get a great deal on something unexpected, but the list of “best deals” on couponing websites seem pretty “meh” to me at the moment. All stuff I would never buy in a million years, or I think the price is too high. For non-food items, my cut-off is basically $1 for everything except body wash, which seems to be really, really expensive for some reason (at least in comparison to other toiletries.) The cheapest I’ve been able to get it is $1.50/bottle.

I guess I shouldn’t complain too much because I’m now stocked up on those items for probably the next two years, but it would be nice to get that thrill more often for groceries. My “stock up price” is usually “Does this beat Aldi?” But that’s a hard price to match, even when Giant Eagle doubles coupons.

So now my “leftover” grocery money goes toward stocking up on canned and dry goods, or meat for the freezer.

— 6 —

I have really enjoyed having a set three week meal rotation. It takes a lot of the hassle out of planning and cooking dinner. I’ve found that snacktime and lunchtime for the kids is a good time to get some of the prep work done – for example, today during morning snack I chopped and sautéed mushrooms and onions and took out some frozen spinach to thaw, and then during their lunch I mixed up the vegetables with the rest of the filling stuff for these lasagna rolls.

I’m thinking as we hit fall that I might want to change it up and do some new recipes. I have found that I really enjoy pumpkin in things besides pie, so I’m thinking it might show up somehow. Maybe this chicken and pumpkin soup?

— 7 —

I have almost all of the ivy out of our front yard (yahoo!) and I’m ready to get rid of the rest tomorrow!

Have a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Posted in Alisdair is 3, Éamon is 1, Childcare, Homemaking, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Talking with Tots


We found this statue last week on our trip to Harrisburg. Alisdair sat down next to it and said, “Mommy, take a picture of me being part of the statue.”

Driving home from church:

Alisdair: Mommy, can we take out the “batibity” (Nativity)? It’s cold outside so that means it’s Christmas.

(I told him that usually it snows around Christmastime, and the leaves have to change colors and fall off the trees. So now in the mornings, he looks out the window and says, “Oh Mommy, it’s going to snow today!”)


Éamon has been adding lots of words to his repertoire. He has been big into clothing this week. He’s refined his pronunciation of “shoes,” and has added “shir” (shirt), “pan” (pants), and “shak” (socks). He is fascinated by his socks and will point them out repeatedly to anyone who is willing (and sometimes not willing) to have his foot shoved in his (or her) face. Any mention of a diaper, however, is met with “Noooooooo!”

Posted in Alisdair is 3, Éamon is 1 | Tagged | 1 Comment

7 Quick Takes after a crazy week

— 1 —

Ian had a conference in Harrisburg this week. Since the hotel room and gas money to get there was covered, we decided we’d tag along too.

We left a little bit before dinner and rolled into the hotel parking lot right around 10pm. The bad part was that the hotel room needed to be thoroughly explored before anyone was willing to sleep. The good part was that both boys slept in Wednesday morning and that Alisdair absolutely loves sleeping in his sleeping bag, which will come in handy for our trips in October and November.

— 2 —

I decided to take advantage of the “fitness center” in the hotel to get a run in, which was my first run on a treadmill. Some people love them, and some people hate them. I loved that I went a lot faster than my usual pace (10 minutes instead of 12), but hated that my view was the same the whole time, and that the view was me getting progressively more sweaty in three angles thanks to the mirror positioning.

I do not understand the excessive use of mirrors in gyms.

— 3 —


While there were a lot of things we could have done, Ian was supposed to be done in the early afternoon so I decided to drive around and find a park to play in once the boys were over the excitement of the hotel room. We found a pretty nice one with a great view of the Susquehanna River (which Alisdair refused to believe; he thinks there are only three rivers – can you guess which ones?) that also had a decent trail so we went for a walk, too. I’ll admit that part of my goal was to make sure the boys were exhausted when it came time for the return trip (it worked!)

— 4 —

The one downside is that Alisdair recognizes McDonald’s, where we stopped for lunch because I had a coupon (of course). After he woke up from his nap in the car on the way home, he was delighted to tell us whenever we passed one.

(There are a LOT of them. I always knew that, but it never really stuck for me until I had a three year old decide it was his mission to point out every. single. one.)

— 5 —

Éamon discovered that he thoroughly loves sandboxes. I discovered that no matter how thoroughly you brush a child off, you still get sand all over your car.


— 6 —

It has been a crazy week. In addition to our trip, Ian had two late night meetings, and we have been adjusting to our house with 2 year old twins in it. I’ve determined that I need to replace the broken lock on our toilet seat ASAP, and that I need a few more cabinet locks, too.

I’ve also had to work very hard with Alisdair and our other three-year-old that although the younger three kids don’t understand yet, they are still very much expected to put away what they are playing with when they decide they’re done, before they take out the next thing (which they’ve actually been pretty good about, until they were outnumbered by younger kids that need a bit more leniency).

It’s kind of been a crazy free-for-all, especially when a couple days have been too wet to play outside.

— 7 —

The change in weather, plus the disruption in routine, seems to have brought on Éamon’s first-ever cold, which isn’t too bad considering he’s almost 16 months old. Luckily, apart from a hoarse-ish voice and being a little extra sleepy, he’s still pretty much his cheerful self.


For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Posted in Alisdair is 3, Éamon is 1 | Tagged ,

Talking with Tots Tuesday

He doesn’t know what it means, but he does know it irritates the heck out of his older brother:

Éamon: “Share! Share! Share!”
Alisdair: “Nooooooo!”


On the entertainment value of football:
Alisdair: “Maybe while the people are running, some elephants will come and chase them.”


Posted in Alisdair is 3, Éamon is 1 | Tagged

7 Quick Takes Friday – All of the Things

— 1 —

Well, I kind of disappeared there, didn’t I? Let’s hit some of the highlights from my absence:

— 2 —

I did my first race! So cross that off the 2014 goal list. My time was 36:29 for 5K, or about 11:45/mile. Even though it was hot and humid, that is a pace record (or PR if you’re into the running lingo) for me. I think it helped that I picked a group of runners to stay near who were faster than me, and that the course was less hilly than when I run at home.

Unfortunately, the only race photos of me are a huge sweaty mess (I guess I should have taken the “smile!” warning signs seriously, because I looked AWFUL – even though I felt great!), so, if you want to see me with a race bib on, you’ll get your next chance at the 6.6K for the Mario Lemieux Foundation. I would like to get under an 11 minutes pace, but I have no idea if that is realistic if I’m also increasing distance by about a mile. Oh well, never hurts to try!

Also, if someone had told me that running races means you get pizza and ice cream after them, I would have totally started years ago.

— 3 —

My mom also came out for a visit and stayed with us about five days (there was a trip to her sister’s and her mom’s/my grandma’s in there). She helped me weed out some really disastrous areas in the front yard and was quite content to let Alisdair badger her with endless questions (telling me at one point, “Wow, he really never stops thinking, does he?”)


(a rare still moment)

She also charged the battery for the boys’ ride-in Mustang, which was a present from my dad (who loves Mustangs). Sadly, we found out that Alisdair is definitely not ready to drive it yet.

— 4 —

Starting this week I also have two more kids that I am babysitting. The five year old I began watching earlier this spring is now in kindergarten, so it’s me and five boys three and under during the day – two 3-year-olds, two 2-year-olds (the newbies, identical twin boys), and one 1-year-old.

I am pretty sure this is the definition of insanity, but so far, everything is going well. I’ll know the twins feel at home when they feel like they can start misbehaving.

— 5 —

I also, very, very carefully, did some discerning and decided to sign up for one hour of Adoration every week at our parish. If previous experience is any indication, something crazy will happen in a month and I’ll have to quit, but I do think this will be different. For one, instead of feeling guilty that I wasn’t “doing all the things” and signing up impulsively for something with a huge time commitment, I decided to pray for a long time and accept that there are just some things in this season of my life that I cannot do, even if there are other moms/people who are in similar situations who seem to manage just fine.

But a dedicated hour with Jesus every week? I am really looking forward to it.

(eating hot dog buns with forks at our annual parish picnic. I have classy sons.)

— 6 —

Tonight Ian and I have a special date night without the kids (we’re doing a gallery crawl, which for us is very different!). It’ll be our first night without any kids since before Éamon was born (though Alisdair has spent a few nights with the grandparents). I am really, really, REALLY looking forward to being able to sleep in tomorrow morning.

— 7 —

We won’t be sleeping in too late, though, because we are doing a tour of the new building for Ian’s high school, then it’s off to visit the boys before I head off to a bridal shower. I still have to wrap my gift, but I have to find it first…

Happy weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Posted in Alisdair is 3, Éamon is 1 | Tagged , , ,