Monday, July 14, 2014

Overnight Antics

See that sweet smile? So deceiving! Venice is going through an extreme independence streak. She fights all things related to caring for oneself- anything bathroom related, washing hands, bathing, brushing teeth. Is in a super clingy phase to Sylvie and goes ballistic when they play and when Sylvie is done playing. Poor Sylvie! She climbs out of her crib and time-out, runs around like a manic child during her time outs. It's exhausting.

We went on vacation and we are slowly getting back to local time zone. We finally had Venice wake at a decent time, nap at a decent time, and we woke her up to not sleep too long. Bedtime went decently but she woke at 1. Jorge rocked her a bit but I was pretty surprised when she woke at 4:00 again, wanting a snack, tv, and ready to play. AAAAAAHHHHH! Well here the independent streak comes in, she was screaming her little head off and trying to climb off the bed to go downstairs anyway. Before, she would have been quieter and mad.

So she kind of cornered me because Jorge had only gone to bed at 1:15, and needed to sleep for work. The kids were on the verge of waking up, and this child was going to do everything in her power to go downstairs, despite my 'no.'

She was mad that we were not starting up our morning downstairs, I camped on the couch with her on top of me. But she did settle. It's cooler and darker down here, so maybe she was overheated. We're working on drifting off the sleep, her on top of me.

Woof. Scratch. Whine. From upstairs. Repeat 200 times. Sigh. Lifted her up and went to get the puppy who also thinks there must be some magical party downstairs. Let the dog out to pee, grab a baby gate so I can block us into the family room and the dog in the rest of the main floor. This way the dog doesn't jump onto us, lick us, etc. And also, she can't chew all the kids toys, a random pencil someone dropped, kleenex, or one of the million things she likes to find. Well that pretty much backfired on me because Venice had a fluffy skirt on and it got all caught in the baby gate's 'arm.' Oh no! Now a normal child might have been okay with just getting this skirt off so I could fix it in the morning. But not this child. She was half asleep on me, and now stuck to a baby gate. And she was obsessed with this skirt- for the moment. If it dared to rip, there would be hell to pay. SO I had to prop the gate up with one hand onto the dining table and try to disentangle the skirt in the dark. With the dog woofing from outside now ready to come join the party.

It worked. We lay back down. She did settle. We slept until 7:30- bliss.

Gotta love parenthood. It's a wild ride.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The danger of residential architecture....

The danger of doing residential architecture is that you WANT the houses! AAAAH! Well not all of them of course, but there sure are some cool homes out there! This week I got to see the "almost done" version of a high rise we worked on. Lots of shopping and cabinetry design, and it's looking great! The lifestyle of living along the lake is fun, but I am not interested in that right now. So.... maybe when I'm an empty nest!

Today we measured a house in the historical area of Oak Park. Gorgeous home! Well, it will be even more awesome once they do some of the fun architectural work of course! For all the great parts of the home, they didn't have the open kitchen/family room that we have - toys were in the basement. It made me so happy we have our main floor family room. Such a luxury. If we ever move, we'll miss it for sure if the new place does not have something similar. I personally would love bedrooms that are big enough to hold a few more toys but can't be picky right?

I really love "learning" these homes while measuring them. My boss and I feel like it's a discovery opening closets, finding laundry chutes, etc. Glad to have this opportunity. It's funny, walking through a beautiful home, makes you jealous. Makes you picture your own family in the home. So I start thinking "do we want a historical home eventually?" Then reality sets in that one thing I can't wait to get away from is the old-house-issues! A nice modern home sounds SO GOOD right about now. Especially with a bit of water in the basement, a garage that is falling apart, a roof that is curling up, and walking around seeing every single room needs repainting. It's a love-hate thing I tell you. Sigh.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Summer 2014!!!!

Last summer I was unprepared. The end of May arrived and while I had plans, the kids had different ideas of summer, and it was a big old cranky mess around here. So this year I planned well in advance and signed the kids up for a variety of activities through the summer, we have a vacation coming, and I spent many emails setting up playdates- which is really what the kids wanted anyway.

So a few photos and updates. Awwww...... all 3 kids. 10 years from now I'll appreciate the photo but will probably forget the work it took to get this one! Venice has been especially cranky and bossy and non-too-excited about anything that involves mom deciding what activity is next. So this idea was met with a lot of "no." Emphasis on the "no." Even with treats the answer was "no." Even with the "but it's a picture for Daddy for Father's Day" the answer was "no." So the first few photos in this series are a screaming mess. Then I grabbed a little cat Logan had brought into the room. He actually wanted to hold the cat but seeing as he's 10 I suggested not this time, so I grabbed the cat and this cat so happens to be named "Gato Carrabato." So I had to speak to this cat in spanish. I'm standing on a stepstool in my room wearing a hat to be silly, wielding a camera, and speaking in spanish to a cat. Hoping for a laugh. Smile. Click. Print. Done.

Carly turned 1!!!! We survived it! The kids wanted to get her a doggie ice cream but I couldn't find one so I happened upon this (during my 30 minute lunch hour, rushed over the Petco) and it was fun singing and treating her to such a sweet morning of her birthday. We returned home for the day to find my entire kitchen covered in poop. Yes, that was NOT a good idea. But you know, yeah, sometimes moms don't think it all through. One hour of my life I'd like to get back, that hour scrubbing poop off the kitchen floor and dog. Fabbu beginning to summer I'll tell you. Carly- you kept it real. Life will not be getting any easier now that you are one, thanks for ensuring I don't forget that! 

Miss Bossy Pants can talk your ear off. She unreally, unbelievably adorably cute. Her words are like chipmunk voice, she tells everyone "I YUV YOU!" all day long. She offers things like "You want candy mom? I get you candy." She's smart and notices everything. Know the ABC's, colors, numbers, addition, spanish, english- you name it. She also has a sense of humor. She plays in her playhouse and you are supposed to come to the window and ask for food or lemonade and hand her play money. This day she handed me food and I pretended to take a bite. As I "bit down" she starts giggling uncontrollably and says "Mommy, that food has FARTS! " Oh my she's quite the character.

Soccer is over for the season! My parents came to the last game and watched their first win! It's a lot of fun watching the kids get so excited to play and their joy over a trophy with a plastic soccer ball attached. So much pride. You did good Logan on your team- "Blue Lightening." 

This summer has started out pretty warm. We belong to a health club with a pool and have been enjoying lots of time there on the weekends. I don't think I can handle all 3 kids by myself in the pool yet on a busy day. We shall see if we get to the pool during my days off. But for now- weekends with 2 parents has been fabulous.  Venice wears a "puddle jumper", Sylvie is trying out goggles (but still nervous to go under), and Logan found the joys of a boys versus girls water gun fight. 

This weekend we spent the day at Lake Geneva with my in-laws and it was chaotic and hilarious, delicious and wonderful. The wind was absolutely insane, so we were hesitant to pay for the beach, but ended up staying for hours. The kids loved the sand and water (Sylvie is in the background jumping waves). Venice hung on the beach for awhile but braved the water. Ice cream, meals, and shopping rounded out a Sunday Funday to remember. 

Next stop, Seattle. It's been 9 years and we lived there for 7- haven't been back since we left. I'm nervous and excited, thrilled and heartbroken to see what we voluntarily left behind. I will always miss our Seattle days. I'm curious if it will feel very difficult to go back or it will feel like visiting college is- been there, done that, it's over for now and it was great while we were there but that's in the past. I doubt it- Seattle is just an amazing place and I really truly miss it. Felt like home. Darn massive family and their love right? Had to come back and spend our years here instead like good responsible kids that we are ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Sylvie Curlyhead: unpublished gem from before Venice arrived!

I wonder if Venice will have Sylvie's pretty hair!

I wonder if Venice will have Sylvie's pretty hair!

Baby Personalities

She is sensitive and delicate and clingy and shy. She gets overwhelmed easily. She seems to have stayed in the newborn stage longer than Sylvie. She will get herself all excited by the mobile or playmat, get totally overwhelmed and overstimulated, adn then want to nurse, catnap and then wake up refreshed. She loved to hang out up on my shoulder looking at everything going on in the house.
And she LOVES my daughter. She gets more smiles than the rest of us! Sylvie has perfected the baby-ease high-pitched talk and Venice can't get enough of it. This from the Sylvie who begged me not to have more children. Now Sylvie says she wants to marry Venice. I'm sure the honeymoon will end and there is definitely jealousy but for now, I'm happily shocked! Right now she is on my shoulder looking at Sylvie twirling and squealing with delight. Sylvie the attention-seeker is loving the attention.
Their personalities tend to be spot on from the early months. To the mom who had a baby who studies everything, that was Logan. He had a crib toy and at 9 months I handed him a real screwdriver and he went right for the screws trying to undo them for an hour. No frustration, just concentration. He is my Lego Master. Kid of 2 architects. Enjoy- that personality is just awesome.

Amsterdam- the tail end

We got to taste Amsterdam a bit more. We enjoyed a meal at the Heineken restaurant, and another trip into the Apple store to borrow their Wifi:) By now we were pros at the traffic rights of way and it didn't bother me to cross 10 lanes of traffic because I knew when I could walk and that no one would hit us.

The morning canal ride was refreshing and pretty, informative and good company as we sat with some fellow Americans. There were so many little experiences I'm not even sure where they fit into the puzzle of our trip. Seeing prostitutes peaking out of windows and stepping behind curtains as you passed. Seeing and smelling pot. Buildings and roads only meant for walking and biking as they are so bumpy and collapsing. We got to visit a neighborhood I believe was the beginning of the Eastern Docklands. I had read up on the architectural center so of course we took a million pictures of this sweet building on the water. The botanical gardens were gorgeous and one of the greenhouse rooms was so hot and steamy Jorge's camera fogged up and I had to leave. It left me with flashbacks to being in the jungles in Mexico/ Guatemala.

First Crushes

Unpublished gem from  November 2011:

Sylvie: "Can you believe Frank has a crush on me? Just don't tell him because he won't admit it." 

Me: "How do you know then?" 

Sylvie: "He told McKayla. And he has a crush on her too. So he told her and she told me. So that's how I know.Once Gabriel from preschool had a crush on me too." 

Facebook Status

This is how I roll.,.. I'm 2 after all. Refuse to take off the fancy dress. I have slippers inside of my snow boots. Headband all wonky. And upside down sunglasses. Sometimes you just say 'yes.'

Venice can't stop talking about the animals we saw and "Peacock so funny. He wiggle for me and show me his flowers. Just for me." So awesome. The feathers felt taller than me!

Thank you,  hubby, for our mini outing l! It was a beautiful way to enjoy this spring, and helped to make this a perfect Mothers Day.

Sometimes it's not the dryer's fault you are missing a sock. Miss Creativity strikes again

My Cubs fan is rooting for the other team!!!!! ( at a Sox game)

Carly has some cool markings on her back, to me they look like "Angel Wings." This dog has a serious soul. I don't doubt she's lived some previous life.
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Date Night with a busy architect "hey, so are you busy? Wanna go to a baseball game.... Right now?" There is beer and laughing and excitement. Who cares that it's bedtime on a school night and that all 3 kids are with us- can't hear them over the cheering anyway! Love you so much and I hope we always have great adventures! 

2-1/2, 10-1/2, and 8

The half-years have arrived! So it's about time I did a quick update. Plus, it's 10:40 am and Venice just fell asleep, so I have quiet for the first time in awhile.


Let's start with the littlest princess. She cracks us up all the time. She likes the word "poop", she repeats everything, she sings, she insists, she knows what she wants and how she wants it and boy it had. better. be. her. way. But this is all typical 2-1/2 year old behavior. Let's see if I can record some special moments so we can laugh about it later.

You live in the sandbox. And your playhouse. You love to make a mess, mush things, squish things, play with things. In your playhouse you have a table and chairs and play "drive through" or "kitchen" depending on the window we visit. We ask for cookies, you giggle, you dump a shovel of sand into our hand, we pretend to drive away in the craziest manner possible, you laugh histerically.

"Hola!" "Aguacate" "Que?" If Sylvie, Logan or I use a spanish word, you think it's hilarious. You have a great knowledge of what is english and what is spanish and you definitely don't think the lines should be blurred between who speaks which language. 

Clothing- notice you are sitting in the sand in a nightgown. And a pull-up! We are moving towards potty training and away from babyhood in any hopes that you might consider training this second year of life. I am giving the changing table away for the sheer idea that you get past the love of being changed. We'll just have to do our special sing-songs and toe tickling throughout other times of the day. 

You say the absolute sweetest things, even strangers notice. "Sylvie, you are my sees-ter and I YUV you. You yuv me too?" You play school with Sylvie, carrying your Ariel backpack filled with whatever you fancy that day. You are learning to be obsessed with the letter V, with things like "Mom, which one MY yetter? Show me MY yetter!" in the Sesame Street alphabet book. You told me tonight you had homework, knowing I'd laugh. 

This school year is ending tomorrow, and while everyone is excited for summer, everyone is sad it's over. I will miss my Mondays and Fridays alone with this little miss for the next few months. If I'm still working part-time come fall, I'm sure we'll welcome it once again with open arms. 


Age 10 has been a lot of fun with you this year. You really seem self-confident. You are willing to help out and help a ridiculous amount with your pup especially. She knows you love her best! Your friends this year have played Pokemon, Yugioh, and soccer. You join the girls in silliness at play dates. And water fights, despite the fact that you hate actually being wet, are irresistible to you. You had an epic Boys Versus Girls water gun fight at the pool at Lifetime this weekend. Girls, well, you have your secret crush, and told Sylvie! You are already worried about summer's pace of things, but I think you'll do great.

Runners Club. Soccer. Soccer in the yard. Soccer at the park. Soccer sticker cards. Soccer. And more Soccer. 

Your video game of choice with friends is Skylanders. Alone it's any iPhone game like Dragon worlds, zombie worlds, puppy worlds, food worlds. You wake early and run to your phone to see what activity happened overnight. You like tv but not really a ton of shows specifically right now. Many of the good Disney channel shows have ended their seasons. 

You are starting to fill in the downtimes with fun things like making robots. You always have astute observations and you are rocking school this quarter. You seem focused and ready for tests when we practice for them. Spelling, math, social studies - you have them down pat. 

You held your own building a volcano for the science fair and put together a movie with Jorge to showcase the "explosion." You are learning computers and proud of your first school email address.


Where to even begin with Sylvie. There has been so much excitement for you this spring. You seem to be in every photo- so  much fun! You made your First Communion, and held yourself with grace and poise. You kept your anxiety at bay all the way until the end, and looked just beautiful. Your mass was lovely and we enjoyed this piece of your childhood. 

American Girl adventure! It was somewhat of a spur of the moment, but I drove the girls downtown to the American Girl store. Sylvie got a new doll. We shared a meal. And ooh'd and aaaah'd over everything in the store. It was a whole mess of fun. And a splurge. It's not an easy adventure, but we made it work- despite Venice not making it intensely difficult on the walk from the family restaurant to the store!

Two words: Pogo. Stick. You are SO GOOD AT IT! I Love watching it! 

You are so creative. You are constantly making things, creating things, and searching your iPad for more things and ideas. You are handling a sad end to the year well. Your teacher twisted her ankle at the picnic and cannot return for the year as your teacher. You handle all the daily chaos well, and take on your little Venice buddy often enough that we even get to eat a home-cooked dinner sometimes! 

I love all 3 of you to bits, and I'm really loving these ages. My thyroid was out of wack and has soured my mood, so I'm pushing past that and getting better medication, but through it all I knew I was such a lucky lady to have this little family! 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Some days it all comes together!

Look at that planning. Look at that mildly clean stove! Look at that variety of ingredients (some are even organic), nutrients, and a planned meal. Being a mom takes so much time, planning, and energy that sometimes you just have to pat yourself on the back. 

The planning of meals, grocery-listing, shopping, hauling of stuff from house to kitchen and then magically finding time to put it all away, keeping the toddler and dog's nose out of everything...... is quite a chore. 

Today I thought to cook the sweet potatoes while mopping and doing yard work.... so they were ready for tonight when I was able to mash them (alongside the toddler), pop them into the oven, and get the meal ready before I heard complaints of grumbly tummies.

Today we spent a lot of time outside. Today I enjoyed the basement that I cleaned out and overhauled last weekend.   Today I helped a kid call their mom because Spanish club was cancelled. Today I helped a kid learn to roller skate. Today I was totally focused on my toddler and then totally focused on the kids playing and walking outside for awhile before settling inside to make this dinner. 

Sometimes it all just comes together. And kids, for the memories you have of all the day mom screwed up and burnt the rolls or didn't have the right ingredients on hand to make things the right way, or forgot to go to chef school and learn how to cook, just know that tonight, you'll sit down to dinner on time, say grace, eat with your family a meal cooked with love and that you'll like the taste of. Hopefully you remember more of these meals than the others:)                                  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Houses, Houses, Houses, Home

My mind has been going crazy with houses lately. We have a few house projects going on at work, and especially over the summer, they had my mind spinning with desire and possibilities . Since I don't really show what I do at work I'll give you an idea.... Inside many of these homes have the traditional detailing with new updates and modern things like beautiful kitchens. And if they don't, we add them. There was one home that was so sweet with just the perfect colors, the perfect tile, I loved the family's taste. They had a chance to remodel it themselves and it was so perfect I could just picture the addition making it that much better. There were several turn-of the century homes that we worked on that just appealed to my design sense. I even came across one very livable actual Frank Lloyd Wright home for sale at an almost reachable price. I hope google's search history doesn't let on just how often I pecked through those photos.

And then there was a high rise I've been working with the homeowner on. We went shopping together and I was actually paid to surf the web on Houzz, creating idea books for several projects. It was fun and I humbly say, I enjoy it so much my passion comes through in reading the clients well enough to provide them with some beautiful ideas. My boss gave me license to be "the one" to head up the high rise apartment project and it's everything I could have hoped for. Being "a designer." It's still under construction, but I'm just itching to see it all come together- especially for the nice couple who will retire and live and raise grandchildren and host Christmas and barbecue at the 4th of July there. It's awesome putting other's needs in your mindset and designing for them.

But that leaves my own mind crazy wanting to find what we, our family, want and need. Of course our finances are never a good precursor to jumping into the next price bracket for homes, but we were reading articles all over the place about the housing market booming in our little neighborhood. And maybe, just maybe, we could get a little out of our place and put it towards a new place. Logan is coming into the junior high school in the fall of 2015, and while the grade school has been good- the jr. high is not what we want. So we are looking at that as a goal- do we find a private school, find some way to make his experience (and the girls thereafter) great, or find a new place to land. The girls share a room and well, our kitchen chairs don't really even fit into our kitchen. Our dog takes up her own space. It's getting tight in here.

We have been married for 16 years, and 9 of them have been spent in this house. The other 7 have been spent in let's see how many places.... Green Street, International District, Queen Anne, Elliot Avenue, short stints in our parents houses and then our town home in the Seattle area. We loved that little place. But something (we can't even agree what made us move) made us move. I think it was a combination of hormones, wanting to fit a second baby into our home, family, good timing with an upswing in the real estate market, both of us job hunting at the same time (why not look where we want to land), family. Did I mention family? So we sold our sweet town home with a view of the mountains (below) and moved to the Chicago area. 

Into a cute 3-bedroom brick Georgian with 1-year-old Logan and our dog Abby. It needed some work, but it's been a somewhat sturdy house. Actually when the realtor was asking what we had done to over the years I realized it was a lot of Botox and maintenance and just a bit of prettying-up. So we made the backyard nice- which is great when family comes over. And beautiful spring evenings where steaks sizzle on the grill and the kids run around playing soccer on the grass.

Maybe it's because this winter the yard looks like this that we are just feeling fed up. Ready for change, ready for spring of course. But winters are harsh and this house is needing work, and it's only more apparent after this harsh weather. Do we really want to dump money into it? Really? Hmph. New roofs and new furnaces are just not much fun.

We thought about renting a town home in a cool town near work and a great school district from a family member while they move out to a new smaller place, and selling our place. I spent hours tetris-ing our things into this home in my brain while rocking the baby to sleep, doing boring tasks at work. The end result is it will be tough. But do-able. So do we want to get rid of a bunch of our stuff, and sell the house for a not-much-profit? This town home would be extremely urban and a new way of life for all of us.

So we called a realtor and got all excited about the possibilities. Only, the answer was that the housing market isn't working miracles.... yet..... and we may have to be creative instead. We can't add on, the FAR is maxed out. Finishing a basement is a hard decision as there has been so much flooding in the area. Plus, its a basement. Who wants to stick their kid down there right? We could make it really nice, but nice costs money and guess what? Apparently the house isn't worth money. 

Yes clutter is evil and stuff is evil and clean is good right? At least that's the trend nowadays. But with all these snowy days (about 100 now) and days home with no place to go, the kids have dug out old toys, found my packs of pipe cleaners, made big creations, tented up our living room with those extra blankets I so happen to have. I inherited some things from my aunt's passing and these are non-essential, they are "things", but who am I to send those out of my life. They are family, some of them heirlooms. Am I going to be the one to send American Girl Dolls, special Lego Star Wars creations or Venice's prized baby doll nursery packing because they are too big or too many? Or how about the dollhouse made of real wood with a turret and curtains I sewed and built with my mom when I was 11? After all these years, and care repainting it, I should just let it go because "clean is better?" Cutting down on junk is a no-brainer, but we don't have a house full of junk. We have a house full of life and living. And just the logistics of housing bicycles for all of us is a big deal. 

So, kids, your mom is going mental over all of this. I want want want. Then I feel guilty for wanting. Then I feel like I owe you good schools, but I settle into knowing your schools are pretty good and you really love learning which really is most of the battle. And then I hear stories about the ones you will be going to and I second-guess myself. Then I realize if we jump price brackets in homes we may never be able to afford so many awesome things for you- college, sports, activities, vacations, adventures. I have no idea if we will move or not, but at least now you can look back and see why or why not and what your mom was thinking about it all. And even if we decide to move- where should we land next? It's so very hard. The places that are so nice are not so cheap. Do we stay in the Chicago area- land of family and the Polar Vortex, or do we venture into one of the many destinations available even staying in Jorge's firm? 

Anyone know a good psychic? I'd looooove to know. So at least I could sleep a bit better at night.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Waking UP

When Venice wakes up, it's usually because Carly the dog has woken her and she's not usually happy about that. So she's clingy, whiney, demanding, and wants me to carry her around to carefully selected locations. We get downstairs and there is a 10 minute discussion of which sippy cup to select and what to put in it. Sylvie was my milk princess. She was intolerant for awhile but once she got going, by late age 2 and age 3 she would devour milk. It relaxed her. Venice and liquids are a bit different, especially in the mornings. I think the problem is she doesn't actually love many drinks. Sure she would like a frozen mango smoothie but that's not happening at 5 am before coffee! So trying to get the dog out and putting her down on the stool for a moment so I can use the bathroom are met with big giant tears and screams. It's chaotic, it's frustrating, it's annoying, it's loud.

Last night around 3 am I couldn't sleep. I decided to head downstairs for a few minutes and drink something, try to get rid of some heartburn. Well Carly popped right up to her baby gate pawing gently at it to let me know "ME TOO!"

I brought her down with me, let her out, she came right back in. We were in sync. She was quiet, walking around after me as I fixed the heat, got something to drink, settled onto the couch. She didn't even try to jump on the couch, just nuzzled into my lap a bit for a pet. But it was so quiet I realized!

Lesson to be told: toddlers are loud and demanding. Dogs can be too, but when it comes down to it the dog is more concerned for your needs and if you are okay if things are out of routine than a toddler.

It was kind of nice to have a pup to hang out with until I fell asleep again.

6:05 the house was ablaze with activity again. Logan was getting dressed and slamming the lid of the hamper, Carly knew he was awake and was desperate for his attention. The dog actually woke Sylvie up and then of course the rest of us were up as well. Crazy crazy busy days. But really, isn't that what life is about? I guess we'll rest..... eventually.

Monday, March 3, 2014

It's March..... in the winter that will just not end

We are breaking records left and right. Cold beyond compare. In the top snowfall stats for the last hundred or so years. The entire country is winter-worn and weary. And our boiler  broke on our heated floor. Magically, my husband decided to tear apart the motor and rebuild it by replacing a broken spring. I'm not sure what the motivation was but I'm super excited to have a heated floor again and appreciative that it took time and not money to fix it! Sylvie is living it up with cute boots and leg warmers at least! After my boots broke, I even went and bought a new pair of boots similar to Doc Marten's and I'm glad I did, I've been wearing them for 2 months straight.

So we have had about a million play dates. I worked Tue, Wed, Thu full days for this entire year. But several months ago we got so busy in the office that my boss asked me to work more hours if I was able. So I worked Mondays but left early enough to get the kids from school. So Mondays and Fridays have become free days where we are done with our work by 3 pm and I can invite people over or drop them off at a friends house. Our house seems to be the popular destination, and that's okay by me. I enjoy seeing the kids grow friendships and navigate play dates. 

Logan's friends like to play video games in his room- especially Skylanders. They dig into a toy box of weapons- swords and shields or those silly nerd blasters or guns that make sounds. I put a shelf together of his lego creations and they will pull the ships out and run around making sound effects. I have had several moms say they love that the kids don't just play video games here. Swords and such may be a bit babyish, but I love that it keeps them having fun and being silly and actually looking at one another! They also love cards so they will pull out decks and compare or play against one another. Pokemon was a big thing for awhile, but Yu-gi-oh seem to have taken over. And randomly Logan has been telling me he plays chess with one friend at indoor recess at school. Which is just cool because I personally do not know how to play, but I think it's a great life skill.

Recently Sylvie and her friend dragged out ALL of the American Girl stuff. Her entire room was set up as an American Girl apartment with beds, closets, bathroom furniture, a sink, the works. I did grow tired of tripping over it on my way to getting Venice to bed, but I love the effort she put in to set up little miniatures and special things like a baby bassinet under this loft bed. She is my creative soul. She tears through the house on days off going from one project to another. She will check youtube for "how to make" and design herself braces, or a cast for her american dolls, or just sketch. It's fun to see her so happy with it all. She has also jumped on the Frozen song "Let it Go" bandwagon and I'll catch her singing. Not as much dancing or gymnastics as before, but she's still likely to randomly climb and jump all over the house. I'm hoping to start gymnastics back up soon once the Polar Vortex's leave for good! Logan can't wait for soccer to start again. 

I met up with some moms from my meet moms group and we did a "toddler busy bag" exchange. Basically all those awesome things you see on Pintrest that you want to make the idea was to buy the supplies to make 10 of one thing so it's a bit cheaper, and then exchange them so you get 10 different bags. Venice has been having fun with them. She is much more like a preschooler, able to sort, use fine motor skills, etc. She also adores her My Gym days with my in-laws and though she won't tell everyone her name, she's brave enough to try balance beams and flips on the barre. She also like Sofia the First and this costume was a Valentine's Day gift.

Venice is also mastering all the kids songs - this is her dancing the hokey pokey with Elmo. As I type she is tearing apart Sylvie's Barbie Dollhouse and I hear her speaking in voices for the dolls. She is setting the house up properly, and has an extremely fastidious personality when it comes to how things should look and be done. She has called me over 10 times to get the doll sitting just right on the chair or swing.

Venice is a grazer. She doesn't put away huge amounts of food. But she reminds me of a sophisticated European. She would like a divided plate, with several options, cut equally into appealing pieces and arrangements. She will hunt through the pantry to find the perfect thing to accommodate her banana for example. Or each bite of yogurt must contain a raspberry as well. She eats somewhat slowly, avoids any imperfect bites. And uses her silverware and napkin. I often leave her at the table still eating while the rest of us are done and moved on. She will also go back for seconds. I gave her a snack because she couldn't wait at 4:45. Ate dinner with her at 5:10. It's 6:00 and she just asked for more steak and potato and sat and ate another serving. She'll be begging off my husband's plate at 7:00. And she'll join in for a late night snack at 8:00. 

"If you're happy and you know it, give a smile....." The girls definitely butt heads, but Sylvie has more patience with Venice than I do! 

Carly is 8 months old now. She's definitely still part puppy and settling into "Dog." She jumps, she's little and cute, she's springy. She looooooooves the snow, but not the cold. She gets big balls of ice on her fur, but will charge through discomfort to play with us all outside. Her poor side yard has been piled high with mounds of snow for 2 months now. We've cleared some areas for her, but she'll also climb right on top of the piles of snow and run around creating a "mote". We had one rainy day and she was not a fan. I'll be curious how spring goes for her, but I'm guessing she's going to love up those warm days and we'll be exploring the neighborhood beyond the immediate areas in no time. 

Well that's February/March  for now. Can't wait for spring to come!