Saturday, October 31, 2009

Too cute to spook

A downside to having the kids in regular daycare is the sickness... Someone is always sick around here! This past week was no different and, lucky me, I was the victim this time. But by Friday morning it appeared as if everyone was healthy and just in time for the kids' school Halloween parade!

Addi has been looking forward to this for weeks, so Friday morning I got up and got the kids ready for school. Addi decided a few weeks ago to be a "scary princess" so we got to work spraying her hair green and purple and covering her in scary makeup.

Terrifying, isn't she?

And out of pure laziness I decided to have Sam just wear a football jersey to school and save her real costume for Saturday at home. After Jay saw her he asked my mom to PLEASE upgrade Sam from the Stokley jersey (he moved from the Colts about 3 years ago) to at least a Harrison jersey... You know, since he's only been gone a year.

Once we got to school I dropped Sam off in her room and headed to Addi's room. And WOW. Just wow. Those teachers are worth every penny.

And apparently the need to be photographed is not unique to Addi. Once they saw the camera in my hand, every kid in the room ran over to have their picture taken.

And then I had to show every single kid the picture I took.

Addi's teachers did a GREAT job of dressing up.

And Addi insisted that I take several pictures of her and her best friend, Montrell.

Finally I escaped from Addi's room and went down to Sam's to see if they were ready to head to the parade. Turns out, Teddy Grahams make 18 month olds sit in a nice little circle and pay attention.

Sam's parade was pretty anti climatic. I mean, the kids were just pissed they left snack time to walk in a big circle, so most parents including me had to carry the kids around.

Once the kids were back at the snack table devouring cookies, I slipped out and headed down to the main area to watch Addi's parade. My mom and Jay showed up just in time and Addi was beyond ecstatic to see them.

When she saw Jay she insisted he join her and they marched around the room together. The three year olds definitely enjoyed the parade more than the babies.

To make her costume scarier, Addi chewed on Elmo's eye. She said scary princesses eat Elmo.

Finally at the end of the parade the kids sat in a giant circle and sang a few songs for all the parents.

We all cheered and then we left the sugar crazed kids to the professionals.

Pumpkin Picasso

I was really excited to carve pumpkins this year because I thought Addi would be really into it. She loves getting messy so I figured she'd be all over this project. We waited until Sam took a nap one afternoon and headed outside.

We picked out designs and got to work. First Jay cut the tops off the pumpkins.

Then we scooped out the insides. And by WE I mean ME. Addi wanted nothing to do with touching the goopy mess.

Addi directed me on how she wanted me to carve my pumpkin.
Three minutes later she was inside watching cartoons and Jay and I finished up "her" pumpkins.
Maybe next year she'll be into it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

An open letter to my daughter, Addison

Dear Addison,

You, my sweet first-born child, are the apple of my eye. You are so sweet, so caring, so charming, so spunky, so crazy…. Daily I have some hysterical story to relay about something you did or said, and I never get tired of repeating those stories. Sometimes it’s something as random as a new best friend (who happens to be a rock) or insisting on bringing your rocking horse everywhere with you… But it’s always very funny (and quite often embarrassing).

You are such a sweetheart. You are also getting smarter by the hour and regularly make me sweat when I realize how fast you are catching on to things. This past week you, while trying to get me to play house instead of folding laundry, said, “Mommy, say yes or no.” When I said YES, you said, “OK, Mommy, YES I will play house with you.” When I asked what you’d say if I said NO, without missing a beat you said, “No Mommy you cannot finish the laundry.” Your mind works so quickly that Daddy and I regularly stare at each other in awe at how intelligent you are.

You are also the most loving big sister to your sister, Sami. Of course Sam will be well equipped to wrestle in the WWF by the time she’s two, but that’s OK. You always body slam her with love. And she loves you right back.

You make friends easily and warm up to strangers very quickly. Within five minutes of being somewhere new you’ve already scoped out the bathroom and pantry and are on your way to getting a free sticker or snack out of the deal. And people love you right back. Maybe it’s the very honest way you tell them, “That’s my baby sister Sami!” or “Hey, my mom says my feet smell really bad!” to the Starbucks lady… whatever it is, I wish I could capture it and sell it in a bottle to unfortunately shy kids everywhere.

You love to read books and within one or two times can recite them word for word. And insist on book after book before bed because you don’t want to be alone.
You love for me to take your picture doing silly things. And you very much dislike wearing pants.
You are a great caretaker of our whole family. You hug and kiss Smokey goodbye each morning and take great care of Daddy when he’s sick. You even cover him up with towels to make sure he’s nice and warm.
You have your own sense of fashion and when I remind you that people might make fun of you for wearing Christmas PJs at Panera while obviously ordering Halloween cookies, not only do you wear those jammies with pride you also make sure the person taking our order has commented on them too.
You seem to be almost morbidly curious with death… to the point where the other day you pretended you were ran over with a bike and were laying dead in the hall. It has made me wonder many times if you really understand the concept, but then you will say something so intuitive that it really takes my breath away. You'll ask about Grandma in heaven and wonder if she’s rocking babies, or what she might be doing, and say you miss her even though you’ve never met her. She would love you so much and you would adore her right back.

And, you do things just to make us laugh.
You are cuddly and sweet when you are sick.

And despite your overbite and big ears you are the most beautiful three year old I've ever seen.
Even when your head is spinning around and horns are sticking straight up.
I love you!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Like" my status

The past week has been hectic around here. With an insane work week, Jay being sick, the kids being sick, and just life getting in the way, I can't seem to blog. I keep starting to write something and practically fall asleep out of pure boredom.

I just can't seem to string together a coherent thought longer than a Facebook status... I try and my brain shuts down.

Since you can pretty much get caught up with us via my status updates, here's what's been up with the Ralphs in 420 characters or less...

Stephanie Young Ralph just found out the flu virus can live on a dollar bill for 17 days. Paper or plastic? Discover for me, thank you! (October 19)

Stephanie Young Ralph thinks it's pretty cool that 3 of the 4 undefeated NFL teams have Purdue quarterbacks. (October 20)

Stephanie Young Ralph really needs to blog. I have no blogging creative juices within. And what I really want to blog about is sooo not socially acceptable. I'll just say, our volleyball team finally pulled through and won a game ;) (October 20)

Stephanie Young Ralph just wrote a blog about her cell phone. What's next... one about my answering machine? Must.... get.... a.... life.... (October 20)

Stephanie Young Ralph is watching Hannah Montana the movie. And actually kinda likes it (October 21)

Stephanie Young Ralph needs to learn the hoedown throwdown dance - or as Jerry calls it, just another day on Melissa's honeymoon (October 21)

Stephanie Young Ralph wonders if there is anything bigger than a king size bed. (October 21)

Stephanie Young Ralph had a pretty amazing day. I wish they were all this good. (October 22)

Stephanie Young Ralph just learned that a kid has to eat ounces of toothpaste before it's really bad. Thanks, Poison Control (October 23)

Stephanie Young Ralph took Addi to the doc and found out she has an ear infection. In case you are worried you might have one too, she told the doctor her symptoms included my ear hurts, my poop stinks and my knee is very itchy. (October 24)

All in a week... No wonder I'm tired!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Adventures at Bedtime

Someday soon, I think Jay and I need to start sleeping in the guest room.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Watching Summer Fade Into Fall

Fall is far and away my favorite time of year. Football games, leaves changing, cute boots... Really, what's not to love?

I especially love the slow change where the heat from the summer dies down and you slowly fade into fall.

For some reason in Illinois, that "slow fade to fall" lasted about two days. Literally. Considering our fall is following a summer where in July we didn't have a single day that hit 90 degrees, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I really think it will be a cold winter.

So this weekend Jay, the girls, my mom and I headed to Tanners to have some fall fun. It seemed a tad more like winter to me but we enjoyed ourselves none-the-less.

We enjoyed some cider doughnuts... YUM... Rode ponies (well, Addi did)... Played at their playground... and picked out pumpkins.
Hopefully winter slows down just a tad. I'd like to go outside without a coat once or twice!

Bye Bye, Old Friend

I love my phone. LOVE IT. It's my constant companion, my light in the dark (literally), my camera, my planner, everything. Remember how freaked out I was when it was "broken?" I don't know what to do when I don't have it near... Texting, surfing the web, whatever... Me and my phone do it together. And I'm a pretty fast typer on it too. LOVE the full keyboard.

And my phone loves me back. It's always there for me, holding a charge and answering calls in the blink of an eye. What more could a girl want.

My phone, however, does not love sharp corners of cabinets.

Sad, but true... I broke my trusty phone last week. I freaked out for about 30 minutes, so upset that it was shattered.

An hour later I skipped out of Verizon with my NEW BlackBerry. A touch screen, sassy looking, very fun and nifty! Guaranteed to be my new and improved best friend!

Unfortunately I can't use the darn thing. I try to call someone and hang up on them. I can't figure out how to NOT hit mute mid-conversation. Typing.... FoRGe..t. AAbouuuuuuuut it.

Yeah, pretty annoying huh. That's how every email, text MMS looks.

I think me and my phone just need some bonding time. Perhaps an afternoon at the spa getting pedi's? Or maybe just a gab fest with some old friends...

WHatttever It TAKes. Welllll be besTFRIENDSS soon. Just don't hang up on me if I call you and am silent. It's probably me attempting to UNmute you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

In the jungle....

...all animals say ROAR! Well, according to Sam anyway!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our parenting "moves"

Over the past week or so Addi has been, say, a tad more difficult than before. Like, if I was going to be sweet and write an open letter to her, like I did for Sam, it would go kind of like this:

Dear Addison,

Quit being a jerk.

Love, Mom

Not exactly what I want to put in her scrapbook. But, it’s not entirely ALL her fault… with the chilly weather and both kids being sick, we are all getting on each other’s nerves. The other day, while arguing with Addi over brushing her teeth, she stomped into the living room and start digging through the basket of books. Jay asked her what she was looking for and she said, “I’m looking for the Miss Bossy book. Mommy is being really bossy and needs to read it.”

In order to effectively handle the behavior situation before it gets totally out of hand and the kids completely run the house, Jay and I went over our parenting best practices – things we’ve learned that work over the last few years. Our main “Go to” moves: the stopwatch, bribery, and finally, punishment.

The Stopwatch: We have figured out if we need Addi to do something fast, we can tell her we will “time” her, make a beeping sound, and she’ll go as fast as she can to get it done. This also works with a group of kids because they all run around like crazy. Great for putting on shoes, getting your coat, and fetching Mommy’s phone. Not so great for big tasks like cleaning a playroom.

Bribery: This works with anything the kids really want… Gum, a dollar, a book, or even big toys like a bike. Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. What’s valuable to a kid one day means squat the next. Plus, because I think Addi has a slight case of ADD you can’t bribe her with future events because she simply forgets. So if I tell her she has to earn something you had better believe that thing is sitting in our kitchen, taunting her daily. A lot of times we’ll go shopping and she’ll see what she wants, and that becomes the newest desire for her to drool over. Our newest bribe:

That’s right. A Barbie ceiling fan. It's sitting in my garage right now, waiting to be installed. What can I say, the kid has eclectic taste.

If she’s good this whole week, she gets to keep the fan. If not… well, who are we kidding, she’s getting it no matter what. But SHE doesn’t know that. The downside to bribery: if you use edible bribes like candy, once it’s eaten there’s no incentive to keep up the good work. And, it gets pricy, ie: her new bike. But by far bribery is our main go to move when pure persuasion doesn't work.

Punishment: Our third and final move. Hard to believe but this is the least favorite at our house. And we ALL dislike it. Because if you send Addi to her room, you don’t get 5 minutes of peace and quiet to calm down, you get 5 minutes of standing at her door, making sure she doesn’t escape or break her window and jump out it. At the end of the five minutes, she may be “sorry” but all we want to do is run screaming down the road. Punishment works, but I wish it were more of a last resort instead of a way we end each evening.

Overall, our parenting moves work for us now most days, although we are constantly adjusting them as Addi gets older and smarter. But we do need to tweak them a bit… I know Addi will coach Sam into getting diamonds and gold from us by the time she’s 4.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happy kids, happy heart

And my boss wonders why I am so happy to get to work each day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Closer

If you watch baseball you know what a closer is. It's the guy they send in to wrap up loose ends and finish out the game for the team.

At our house, Sam is our closer.

Let me explain. Both girls are fantastic eaters. They will eat almost anything and they will eat a lot of it. But Sam is in a class all her own.

On Saturday night we made homemade pizza and Sam ate half a can of black olives, crying when we refused to give her anymore. She will eat seconds of salmon, thirds of hotdogs, and fourths of dog food. Our friend Laura watched the girls when Sam was 11 months old and was shocked when she put a tiny bit of food on Sam's spoon and Sam looked at her like she was nuts and shoved two handfuls straight into her mouth.

Most meals Sam will eat all her food, then beg to get down because she's "Awe dun". Ten minutes later you can find her sitting in Addi's chair, cleaning up.

I hope she never loses her daring ability to try new foods. But mostly I hope she never loses her fast metabolism.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The charming life we lead

It's been over a week since we at the Ralph's started getting sick. None of us have had anything worse than a cough, runny nose or a fever over 100 degrees but it's getting old, fast.

This weekend we stayed home with the hopes of healing ASAP. We also cleaned the house from top to bottom and did lots of yard work, so we are very tired. OK, well Jay cleaned and Jay did yard work and I stayed inside with the kids. So Jay is physically tired and I just need a drink.

Even with the runny noses and constant whining and coughing and not being able to really go outside to burn off energy, the kids were still adorable as ever. And for those without little kids, here's a photo look at the weekend. Try not to be jealous!

We played Mr. Potato Head.
Addi tried unsuccessfully to convince us she didn't need to take naps or go to bed at a reasonable hour. Here's her "I'm NOT TIRED MOMMY!" face:

Out of pure desperation for quiet, the kids watched a ridiculous amount of TV.
Sam mastered the art of standing up on kitchen chairs and driving Mommy bonkers.
Addi mastered the art of being bossy and forcing Sam to sit down.
I finally got new batteries for my camera and tried to take pictures of the kids looking sweet and charming.
I also unsuccessfully tried to scrapbook.
Sam ate some Playdoh.
The girls had baths and had a picnic at the start of the Colts game, complete with Goldfishy crackers. I then vacuumed the living room again.
And Jay felt terrible.
All in all it was a good weekend. Let's hope for a healthier week!

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