A Year of Trying to be a Better Mom

Oshkosh Weekend August 2, 2010

Over the weekend, Pete and Zach went on their 2nd Annual Father-Son Oshkosh Airventure Camping Weekend. Whew. That’s a mouthful!

They left on the road trip Friday morning and Zach was EXCITED. We had been talking about the upcoming trip by telling him he was going to go camping with Daddy, and that he was going to see airplanes, and they would be at Oshkosh. This summer, as we’ve taken our many, many road trips, Zach has started anticipating them. You can tell him he will get to do something in the future and he looks forward to it. It’s great that he can grasp this concept of forward time now.

Anyhow, they got to the campsite and set up the tent and grabbed some grub before heading out.

PB&J and a lollipop, sounds like a well balanced meal

After camp was set up, they went to see the sights. They saw:

The Ultralights

The Erickson Air-Crane Helicopter

A fireworks show

And Zach even got to sit in the cockpit of a DC-3! This plane hadn’t been flown at all in 12 years. The owners restored it in 12 weeks just to fly it to Oshkosh. For those that don’t speak “airplane” (like me), a DC-3 is one of the first mainstream airliners. This year, at Oshkosh, it was a special tribute year to the DC-3.

This, is a DC-3, in case you didn't know

Clear for take-off

Of course, my favorite picture from the weekend has got to be this one! Zach got to “fly” miniature airplanes that look like the real thing. How awesome are these? I’m thinking Christmas present :).

There are pedals that make the plane move and the propeller spin

While the boys were out having boy time in Wisconsin, the twins and I stayed at home and had some wonderful baby and mommy time. They practiced their crawling (Isaac is SO close), their sitting, and Emily tried to do backflips. Really, I think she’s happier hanging out upside down that right-side up!

After all of the things that Zach got to see and do, what did he tell me when he got home on Sunday? That there was dirt! And that he wanted to take a shower. Silly kid!

What did Zach learn this weekend? About airplanes and other aircraft. He also got some bonding time with Daddy, and that is really important. It will help build their relationship and Zach will know he can always trust his Daddy. They also built upon a tradition I hope they can carry out every year.

What did Mommy learn? Is it bad to say that it’s pretty easy with just the two babies? Two year olds can be exhausting! I sure missed him though!


Whoa…is it dusty in here or what? July 30, 2010

Um, hi.

I know, I know. I said I would write. I said I would write EVERY day. And I intended to do that. And then, well. You see, I got BUSY. And I bet you can hardly imagine that, as a mother of now nearly 7 month old twins and a 2 1/2 year old, I might be busy. But I was.

Sorry for neglecting you, my precious blog. Sorry for abandoning you, my handful of faithful readers! I am back. And that’s the thing about journeys right? You may get off course, but it takes just one step on the old path to get back on it again. So. Here I am.

And never to fear. I may have been too busy to write (and boy do I have the list of excuses, but I’ll spare you), but not too busy to be keeping my children busy!

To fill you in on the past almost 2 months, I’ll just do a sneak peek here. Then, as I have time, I will update these sneak peeks with posts and tutorials. But I will simply move forward as I do that, so as not to create an even FURTHER backlog as I try to catch up.

So, since we last spoke. Here is what we have been  up to.


Wrote our own songs & lyrics

Went on quite a few road trips to Michigan and Minnesota

Got to ride on Grandpa's tractor

Got to see our G.G. when she came to visit

Made a fort out of blankets in the living room

Painted picture frames for all our grandpas

...and for Daddy

Painted a t-shirt for our cousin, Ethan, because it was his first birthday

Made the wrapping paper for Ethan's present

Celebrated Father's Day

Learned to use a train whistle

Went to a BBQ at Uncle Chris' and made new friends

Went out for ice cream

Flew remote control toys with Daddy (this is a helicopter)

Painted the letter D

Made a Chinese "Dragon Kite"

Made thumbprint art

Killed time at the Dr.'s office by practicing shape recognition

Made an entire orchestra's worth of paper plate and cardboard instruments, like this Paper Plate Violin

and this Paper Towel Tube Flute

and these Paper Plate Cymbals

and finally, a cardboard box "Color Piano" (I think my kid is going to be a musician one day)

Had to go in the basement and hang out because of tornado sirens

Made thunder noises with a big sheet of paper and talked about weather (so it's not so scary next time there is a big storm)

Did 4th of July themed activities like hand print fireworks with Mommy

and lit up "snakes" with Daddy (insert Mommy "eyeroll" here)

Got our first set of golf clubs at Grandma's house in Minnesota

Went to the splash park (and the beach, and played in our sprinkler, and played in our kiddie pool)

Started solids

Found our feet

Went to Aunt Ciana's graduation party in Michigan

Made an awesome race car out of a big, cardboard box

Played "house" and "restaurant" and "this is where the puppy lives" with a big, cardboard box

Painted whatever we wanted with brushes

Made scribble drawings

Played with Easter Eggs (again)

Pretended to be a puppy (a lot).

Decided that THIS is how you play with a bouncy seat (and there's no stopping us)

Started trying to CRAWL (Mommy says, "AHHHH!")

Played with textures like crinkly newspaper

Made an elevator on our living room wall

Painted with noodles. How silly!

Decided we should do things, "All by ourselves"...like put on our sunglasses.

We went to the park, and on playdates. We pretended to be puppies and frogs. We developed an imaginary tiger as a friend.We colored and painted and cooked and made things…like I said…we were BUSY.

And there you have it. Whew!

(please check back for individual posts on these projects as I get time to update them. I will link the posts to the pictures.)


Days 41, 42 and 43: Memorial Day Weekend June 1, 2010

I’ll be honest, I didn’t do much in the name of “lessons” this weekend. But it was Memorial Day weekend, days off, no school, time to relax! That’s not to say that Zach didn’t learn anything, he most certainly did. And since the point of this blog was to reduce his TV watching time, he certainly didn’t watch much TV.

Here are the things Zach did!

He went to a BBQ at a friend’s house. He got to interact with other kids his age. Actually, it’s kind of neat. Whenever we hang out with this group of friends, there is a boy exactly 1 year older than Zach and a boy almost exactly 1 year younger. It’s fun to see them together and get a glimpse of the future and the past (developmentally speaking).

I don’t have any pics, unfortunately, but he did get to help make ice cream in one of these:

Ice Cream Maker Ball

Then we got to spend some time with family. My dad drove up from Michigan to hang out with us all. Not only is he a super fun grandpa, but visits from our far away family members (and they all are, except for Uncle Chris) remind Zach, Emily and Isaac that they HAVE family. And it’s always good to have the generations together. Truly times to cherish.

Grandpa and Isaac

Grandpa and Emily

Zach also learned to use the Slip N Slide. He was pretty hesitant to go on it at first, pretty much refusing. So, Mommy had to go upstairs, get her swimsuit on and show him how it’s done. And now I will plaster images of myself in a swim suit on the internet (oh boy). So, let what I lack in a beautiful physique be made up 10 fold by the fact that at 30 years old, I WENT DOWN A SLIP N SLIDE!!!

Doing the knee slide

Doing the traditional slide, good form, huh?

After my amazing Slip N Slide demonstration, Zach “sort of” did it. Mostly he just ran up and down the slide and drank the water.

Running up and down the slide

Stopping for a drink of nice, cold, water

He also decided it was a good car wash for his cozy coupe

Finally, he learned to do somersaults with Daddy.

Daddy helping Zach get set up to roll

So, not quite a "stuck" landing. The Olympics will have to wait.

Of course, learning anything new takes some parental demonstration.

Daddy, mid somersault. I give it a 10!

What did Zach learn this weekend? To make ice cream, to use a slip n slide, to do a somersault and that hanging out with family is cool! These things teach him motor skills, coordination and to have fun. They build relationships and are good physical activity.

What did Mommy and Daddy learn? That this will not be the last of making fools of ourselves on behalf of our children! Oh, and I guess I didn’t do my civic duty. I should have had Zach do something patriotic, or something to thank the troops. Maybe I’ll do an activity like that later this week. It’s never too late to thank your troops!!


Days 26, 27 and 28: Repeats, Mommy Out and Mother’s Day Reveal May 17, 2010

This weekend Mommy hosted and participated in a rite of passage we all call a Bachelorette Party. Anyone who has been to a B-Party lately will tell you that they are no longer one night of partying, they are weekend long extravaganzas. While Mommy was out having fun, Daddy was on duty with the kids. You can give him his cookie now.

So, since I was for the most part absent this weekend, I’ll run through a quick retelling of the events and then will reveal the details of last week’s Top Secret Mother’s Day projects! Woot!

Day 26, Friday, Repeat: Today Zach learned the art of waiting for delayed airport guests :). While we waited for friends to arrive, we busied ourselves doing what I like to call the “Hurry up and clean! PEOPLE are coming!” dance.  After our guests arrived and Zach charmed them with his freshly awoken from nap shyness, he asked me for a repeat activity. And, well, I never promised we’d do NEW activities everyday. Just that we’d do SOMETHING. So, we took a repeat visit to the Car Wash, since that’s what he wanted.

Day 27, Saturday, Mommy Out: Friday evening I left to stay at a hotel with the girls. So, Pete was on duty. So here is Saturday, as told by Pete:

Actually, Pete’s entry will come later. Whenever he writes it. In the meantime, here are the pictures from what they did.

Took the "SUV" out for a spin

Went to the playground

Went to Lincoln Square

Learned to fly oak tree "helicopters"

Off it goes!

Day 28, Sunday Sundae: Sunday’s are fun for Zach because he gets to spend time in the nursery at church. It’s his time to see friends his age, play with toys, do arts and crafts and eat snacks. I am told that Zach sometimes can’t be bothered to stop playing with toys to participate in the craft, but he never. EVER. misses snack. This does not surprise me. Then after he woke up from his nap, we went for a walk as a family and got some ice cream at George’s. I ordered myself the most DIVINE chocolate ice cream in the whole wide world, Zanzibar Chocolate and got it in a cake cone. It’s a little serving of bliss and whimsy all at once. I ordered Zach his typical plain vanilla in a cup with a spoon. Today though, he decided he wanted MY ice cream. And nothing was going to stop him from getting it. So, wanting to avoid a big, public temper tantrum, I gave in on this battle and switched ice cream with him. I hope he knows how much I love him. I don’t give up Zanzibar Chocolate for just anyone.

Anyway, I so wish we’d have thought to bring the camera. He had chocolate ice cream everywhere. Up his nose. All over his face. His shirt. His arms. His hands. Man, did he love that Zanzibar Chocolate. He is his mother’s son.

And that pretty much covers our weekend!!

So, to update you on our Super Top Secret Mother’s Day Projects That Can Now Be Revealed. We did 2 handmade crafts for the 3 grandma’s. Both using items that you can recycle from your own home and probably have sitting around right NOW.

The first was Milk Jug Watering Cans. I read so many kid blogs these days that it’s hard to say for sure if I read about it or not. But I’m 99% certain I came up with this one on my own. Woot!

First. Drink a lot of milk. We needed 3 watering cans. So, 3 gallons of milk. That’s part of the reason this particular set of projects took a few days to complete, we had to go through those gallons first. Also, the 2-year-old only has a certain amount of patience for crafts. Doing 3 jugs at once was not happening, but spaced out over a few days was fine. Even if his only job was to scribble.

So, I washed out the milk jug and removed the labels. Then, I took a fondue fork and heated it up over my stove flame. I used it like a hot poker to make holes in the milk cap, arranged like you would see on a watering can. I ran some cold water over the cap after that was done, just to kind of harden the plastic that had softened from the heat.

Water holes

Before going further, I decided to test out the watering can on my own plants, just to make sure it would actually work. It does.

A working watering can made out of a milk jug

Then, I had my child use permanent markers to color on the jugs. We did this BEFORE the infamous dining room table incident and is where we got the permanent markers to use for that other project. But, I used permanent in this case because these jugs are meant to be used to hold and pour water. I figured washable markers would run right off of it eventually, especially if they get stored outside. I did attempt to make them a bit prettier with my own embellishments, but wonder if I should have left well enough alone. Oh well!

Coloring the jug


We did this times 3 for our specific number of grandmas. But you should do whatever number you need. In case you couldn’t figure that out.

Then, I tied some ribbon to each handle, just to be festive. And the watering cans were complete. Easy peasy.

Finished projects

The next project we did was coffee filter flowers. These were also super duper easy to make. I got the inspiration for our project from two sources. Here and Here.

I used new coffee filters to make my flowers, but I love the idea of recycling used ones. I certainly drink enough coffee (actually, it’s my only means of survival!), but this particular week I was out of them and so was boy scouting my coffee filters out of paper towels. A trick my roommate in college taught me. He said he learned to do it in boy scouts, hence why I called it that. So, I bought brand new ones so I wouldn’t need to do that, but did not have enough time to drink  enough coffee to recycle them. Make sense?

Anyway–my supplies:

Coffee filters, spray bottles with water mixed with food coloring inside


Green construction paper, a black marker and pipe cleaners and scissors (which are not pictured, oops)

First, I took some spray bottles and filled them with water. Then I added a few drops of food coloring in each bottle. This actually took more food coloring than I anticipated. Just a drop or two will instantly turn your (hopefully) clear water into what appears to be a deep hue. But, after spraying a filter or two, I figured out that it actually required more like 10 drops per bottle to color the filters properly. There is still a lot of dyed water left in each bottle after this though, so we will certainly use it for other projects.

Then, I had Zach spray the coffee filters with the dyed water. The spray bottles are actually difficult for him to use. They took a lot of pressure to push the pump down and he would get frustrated, so we did it together. I think a trigger style sprayer would be easier for the little ones. Or maybe we just had especially difficult spray bottles.

Zach spraying the filters

All colored and drying out

After the filters were dry, I took each one and gathered it around my finger in the center of the filter. Then I wrapped a green pipe cleaner (which they now call chenille stems these days, fancy huh?) around each gather to attach the “stem” to the “bloom”.

Connecting the flower to the stem

Then I just kind of spread the filter out a bit to make it look more flower-ish.

Unfurling the bloom

It almost looks like a real flower

After I created all of the flowers, I made some leaves out of the green construction paper. I folded the paper in half and drew a rough leaf shape. I drew it along the folded edge so that when I cut it out there was a crease in the middle of the leaf. This crease would be the part that wrapped around the stem. The leaves created a kind of “card” effect. I made 1 leaf per flower.

Drawing the leaves

All cut and ready to go

After Zach got up from his nap, I asked him to help me with the next part. I asked him what he loved about his grandmas. This was a little bit of an abstract concept to him, especially since his grandmas weren’t there with him. So we looked at some pictures on the computer. I was kind of prompting him, I’ll admit, but he did recognize his grandmas and answered yes when I asked if he liked the things they were doing in the pictures or things that the grandmas do when they are here.

On the front of a leaf I would write, “I love my grandma because…” and on the inside I wrote a reason (“she gives me cookies” or “she plays trains with me” or “she reads me books”, etc.). Other leaves said, “Happy Mother’s Day” on the outside and “Love, Zachary” on the inside.

Outside of the leaf

Inside of the book

If I were to do this again, I’d make the writing on the outside a little further from the crease. It got difficult to keep the glue away from the writing when I did the next step, which was to glue the leaves to the flower stems. Once the leaves were all glued on and dried, our bouquets were complete. 2 flowers for each grandma. And an extra for mommy. Because I want one.

Finished flowers

Oh Grandma, I love you just as much as I love my sippy cup of milk. Happy Mother's Day.

What did Zach learn? Patience. That worthwhile activities are worth repeating. About gravity and toys don’t always need batteries. The concept of love, even when those we love are far away. That we give gifts for special occasions.

What did Mommy learn? Once again, Daddy can handle himself with the kids, even overnight by himself. That worthwhile activities are worth repeating. That I am not 22 years old anymore (we did this cardio dance class that I am STILL sore from 2 days later. OUCH!).

What did Daddy learn? That it’s not so easy getting 3 kids out of the house by yourself in a timely fashion.


Day 24: Letter B May 12, 2010

Filed under: Craft,family,Games,letters,numbers,patterns — Erin Brambilla @ 5:03 pm
Tags: , , , ,

B for Bee. And B for BONUS–Uncle Chris Visit!!

This morning Uncle Chris had a meeting for work not far from our house and afterward he came to hang out a little bit. After being corralled into “Here-play-with-the-kids-while-I-attempt-to-clean-please duty”, we tried to teach Zach to play Hide and Seek. I think Zach got the seeking part down. The hiding he wasn’t so good at. Mostly because he was way too impatient to wait to be found. If Mommy hadn’t been there, physically holding him in the hiding spot, he would have popped out on his own to start chasing the seeker. But, we did attempt to play for a while.

First, Uncle Chris would hide, then Zach and I would count to ten and say, “Ready or not, here we come!!”. This is the part Zach liked, he’d count to at least 3, then start RUNNING while saying, “Ready or not!”. As soon as he found Uncle Chris, he’d start giggling and then would run away. Zach loves to be chased. He always has. These days though, chase ends with, “Superman!”

Found ya! Superman!!

After Uncle Chris had to leave, I decided to do today’s activity, hoping to distract Zach from being upset that he was gone. But well, the letter B doesn’t really compare. At least I tried!

What I have learned, after our Letter A lesson, is that even if Zach doesn’t seem into the lesson/craft, he’s actually still soaking it in. As was demonstrated a few days ago when, completely unprompted, Zach pointed to his Letter A picture and said, “Letter A, Ah!” to his Daddy. We were shocked and amazed! I had left the picture taped to our fridge and he has been passing by it for over a week now. I hadn’t really given it much thought. But just randomly, he pointed it out and named it. Yay! I DID teach him something. So, I will most definitely be moving forward with this letter of the week thing. This week’s letter being letter B. For Bee. Bumblebee.


Yellow, black and white construction paper, glue, scissors and a black market

I cut half of each piece of yellow and black paper into strips. I also cut the other half of the black paper to make some wings and some antennae. I then called Zach over to help me. I thought that this letter lesson could also start off in teaching him about patterns (as well as colors). I took and glued the first 3 strips onto some plain white paper in a yellow, black, yellow pattern. I explained the pattern to Zach and asked him which piece of paper came next. He didn’t get it. And I didn’t really expect him too. But I told him we would do the black piece next and glued it down. Then I asked him which he thought came after that. He still didn’t get it. And that’s OK, he’s never done this before. So I said the yellow piece. And so on and so forth. I did let him help me glue and stick the pieces on. He did so half-heartedly.

Gluing the strips down

After gluing a piece or two, he got a very important phone call on his cell phone.

Oh, sorry mom, I gotta take this

He said he was talking to "Weah". Leah is a little girl at our church. She is the pastor's daughter. Zach either has his first crush, or Leah plays with the cool toys in the nursery. Though in 2-year-old world, that's probably the same thing.

So, I pressed on. I finished gluing the strips down. Then I took the black marker and made a big letter B, cut it out and glued on the wings and antennae I had made earlier. I told him what I was doing the entire time, and once in a while he would glance in my direction.

It looks like a bee, right? I mean, it's better than my "Animal A"

Then I glued the B to another white piece of paper and wrote, “B is for Bee” on it. I debated if I should write “B is for Bumblebee” but I didn’t.

B is for Bee

After that I taped the B Bee next to the A Animal where I hope he will see it over the next few days and recognize what it is. I’ll be sure to point it out!

Fridge art: how you know you are the mom of a young child

Besides continuing the Fridge Phonics song we learned with the Letter A, but sung with the Letter B this time, I also sang a verse of a song I remember singing with my parents as a kid. You can do this song with every consonant in the alphabet, but today we just did B.

B-A Bay
B-E Bee
B-I Biddy Bi
B-O Bo, Biddy Bi Bo
B-U Bu, Biddy Bi Bo Bu

He hasn’t been an enthusiastic singer today, but that is actually quite unusual for him. I’m confident he’ll sing this with me throughout the week.

What did Zach learn today? How to play Hide and Seek (which teaches counting, patience, looking for things, problem solving, etc.). He also learned some phonics of the letter B.

What did Mommy learn today? Gah! That despite what I have told myself my WHOLE life, I guess I am not as cool as Uncle Chris!

To answer your question: No, Zach does not like to wear pants. Yes, I let him run around in a diaper and a t-shirt. No, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, unless we leave the house that is.


Day 20: National Train Day May 8, 2010

Filed under: daddy,family,field trip,free,trains — Erin Brambilla @ 10:10 pm
Tags: , ,

Today we took advantage of another totally free event. In case your calendars didn’t tell you, today is National Train Day. Don’t worry, it’s OK if you didn’t send a card.

National Train Day Activity "Passport"

Cities all across the country today hosted events celebrating the nation’s railways. Since Zach loves trains so much, we went down to Union Station to check out the festivities. And of course, it would only be appropriate to take the train as our mode of transportation downtown. Zach has ridden the train before, but he doesn’t remember it. So this morning when I told him we were going to be riding the train, he got VERY excited.

Waiting on the train platform

Zachary, Isaac and Pete getting ready to get on the train

Here it comes!

Once we were on the train, Zach had a funny little grin on his face the whole time. He just watched everything we passed going by in the windows and named every single thing. Houses. Cars. Trees. Other trains. You name it, he did too. We often take walks in the evening down to the train platform to meet Daddy after work, so to actually ride the train was very special for Zach today.

On the train

The National Train Day Event was probably a little much for Zach to handle. They did have kid areas there with coloring and some train toys and face painting, but it was VERY crowded. He did like looking at the model trains though.

Looking at the display of model trains

I think a lot of people liked the model trains

They passed out lollipops for all of the kids. I wasn’t even going to show it to Zach, but there were a lot of long lines to wait in to see exhibits and this lollipop was probably the difference between waiting in peace or waiting with screams from a bored kid.

Lollipop, lollipop, oh, lolli, lolli, lolli, lollipop (POP!), ba dum dum dum.

Other highlights:

Governor Pat Quinn showed up to speak (they said this was a surprise)

And the awe-inspiring beauty of the Great Hall at Union Station.

Approaching Union Station

Union Station

Zach liked all of the skylights in the arched ceiling

The skylights, arches and columns, they just don't make buildings like this anymore

We also took a break to eat lunch before we went home and Zach did a performance of his “Hot Dog Dance” (a favorite activity at the moment) while wearing his Jr. Train Conductor Hat.

He makes a pretty cute train conductor

Pete looks pretty great in it too

And just to prove that this was a TRUE family event, we took a cheesy, touristy photo. At least they didn’t make us pay for it (though secretly I kind of love it).

All 5 of us are in the pic. Emily and Isaac are in the baby carriers, you can see the tops of their heads. Haha! Oh and this is a pic of a pic, so it looks even BETTER here!

Then, it was time to head home. This was pretty much the best part (aside from maybe the train ride there) for Zach. He was very excited to get on the train again. I have a feeling he’s going to ask me to go on a train ride every day!

Looking at the other tracks out the window

All my boys, riding the train together

Super cute pic of Isaac

My sleepy Emily, napping in the Baby Hawk on the train (a Baby Hawk is the carrier I use for her)

Bye-bye train!

We probably could have skipped the event and just done the train ride today, but it was fun to get out for a family day. Taking advantage of another free event in the city is always fun on a Saturday!

What did Zach learn today? Today was mainly about fun and experience. But he did learn what it was like to ride a train, and can probably relate a little bit now when I tell him Daddy is on the train to come home from work.

What did Mommy and Daddy learn? We are actually pretty efficient, when we want to be, at getting out of the house with 3 small kids. We had 1 umbrella stroller, “wore” the babies in carriers and took only the smallest of diaper bags. I swear I used to carry more stuff with me when Zach was a baby than I do now that I have him plus 2 more. It’s probably one of those “2nd time parent things”.

Daddy would like to add: We didn’t set foot in a car even once today! Cool, right? No worrying about car seats. No gas or parking to deal with. Just our feet and the railways to get us where we needed to go.


Day 19: Mailing a Letter May 7, 2010

Filed under: family,mail,numbers — Erin Brambilla @ 4:44 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Well, today the “Super Top Secret Mother’s Day Projects” left our house and are now in the hands of the US Postal Service. And back on Monday, when I said that these would arrive to the grandmothers “possibly on time”, what I meant to say was “almost certainly late”. But the thought counts. Right?

To go along with the theme of mail, I decided to teach Zach about mailing letters. I read this idea on some other blog, that I didn’t save, and now I can’t link it. But the idea is not my own. And really, this can be done a million different ways–letters to Santa, letters to family, letters to soldiers, etc. But I decided to follow the advice I read on that other blog and have Zach mail a letter to himself. That way he sees the letter going out AND coming to him. Once he gets the concept, we can have him send letters to other people.

So, I had him start by coloring on a note card. This lesson comes with a warning for other moms: do NOT, for one single second, turn your back on your toddler if you are letting them color with permanent marker, not even to simply answer the ringing phone. You will regret it (but WHY did you use permanent marker in the first place, Erin? I don’t know. A lapse in judgement).

Writing his letter

If anyone has tips on how to clean this, let me know. I think we ruined our dining room table today.

Oh yes, he colored on that dining room table so quickly I wouldn’t have been able to stop him if I’d seen it while it was happening. Funny how it’s like pulling teeth to get him to make that many marks on paper, but the dining room table is apparently much more fun to color.

On the inside of the note, once he was done coloring, I wrote a little message. I figure we can track how long it takes a letter to get to us (though I imagine it will only be a day or two, since we sent it to ourselves). In case you can’t read it, it says: “Dear Zachary, We mailed this letter on Friday. The mailman delivered it to us on ______________.”

Perhaps I should have said, "Letter Carrier", I think our "mail man" is actually a "mail lady". Oops.

Then, we took it out to the mailbox.

Carrying his letter

Into the box. Hey, look how "urban" we are, graffiti on the mailbox!

They pick up mail from this box every morning at 10:00am and it was after 10:00am when we did this. So, I imagine it’ll get picked up tomorrow and delivered to us Monday or Tuesday. I’ll post a follow-up when we get to check our mail and receive his letter!

What did Zach learn today? Well, we talked about how a mailman delivers the letters. And that we put our letter in a mailbox and then a few days later the post office delivers it wherever we want! And how letters get delivered to our house too. And that we were sending presents out to Grandma today.

What did Mommy learn? That it’s called permanent marker for a reason. I could have done a numbers lesson here, along with trying to teach him our address, but he had gotten bored by the time I put the card in the envelope to address it. We’ll do that another day. I also had to do the stamp myself.


Day 18: Laughter May 6, 2010

Filed under: family — Erin Brambilla @ 9:33 pm
Tags: ,

Today’s post will be fairly short and sweet. Since we finished up our “super secret special projects” (aka Grandma’s Mothers Day gifts we don’t want them to read about ahead of time), I can’t write about those. But we did have 2 VERY special events happen in our house today.

Apparently, Pete and I are not the only ones who think Zach is a funny kid. Emily and Isaac think so too. I know, because they laughed out loud today for the first time! Both of them! How cool that they accomplished a milestone at the same time (and on their 4 month old birthdays to boot)! They’ve been giving tiny giggles here and there and certainly smiling up a storm for a while now. The belly laugh has been elusive though. I was convinced I just wasn’t funny. How could that be??? Then, out of nowhere this morning, Zach started using this funny, growly kind of voice. He simply said, “Hi Mommy!” in that silly voice. Cue laughter. Seriously. That’s it. “Hi Mommy!” Then Zach and I went back and forth saying, “Hi Mommy” and “Hi Zachary” in deep, growly, silly voices and apparently we were a hit!

And man, that is the best sound in the whole world! And just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, when Pete got home from work today, Zach and I did an encore performance. Sure enough, more baby laughs. LOVE it!

The cutest darn babies in the whole world, if I do say so myself!

What did Zach learn today? The joy of making others laugh.

What did Mommy learn today? That seeing my kids interact in a positive manner is the greatest joy in the world!


Day 14: Day with Uncle Chris (UPDATED) May 3, 2010

Filed under: family,guest blogger,hot dog dance — Erin Brambilla @ 11:46 pm
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Update at the bottom!!!


This post will be coming soon.

And no. I’m not a slacker. Well..OK…Maybe I kind of am. But not for this!!

Day 14 will be a very special post brought to you by a babysitter guest blogger! Wow! My first official guest blogger. I think that means I “made it” in the blogging world.

Pete and I had some stuff to do all day Sunday. Stuff that a 2 year old would NOT want to do. So, we enlisted the help of Uncle Chris to come and hang out with Zach after church. Uncle Chris will be writing today’s post!! Woo hoo. As soon as I get it, I will post it. And no, he’s not a slacker either. He’s a hip, single guy with a job and a life :).

In the meantime, I was going to embed a video of Zach doing the “Hot Dog Dance’, which is pretty darn funny. But, um…I guess I have to pay to upgrade to embed videos. And I haven’t talked to my husband about that yet. And it’s almost midnight. And I don’t think a financial discussion (small and paltry as it might be) would be in good taste at this hour :). So instead, look at this picture of just a hot dog who is CLEARLY dancing.

Hot dog!


And here is Sunday, as told by Uncle Chris:

Sunday with Zach

I always look forward to the days I get to visit Zach. It’s another day that I get to see his rapid growth and ever increasing vocabulary but babysitting him has many of its own enjoyments and challenges.

Sunday was a fun yet easy going day, Erin, Pete, Isaac and Emily were going house hunting and Zach and I were going to hang out on the town and enjoy the gorgeous day. First stop was Starbucks for the craving uncle (its hard to enter a door with a stroller, Erin, I don’t know how you manage that SUV of strollers around town), then we just went to a nearby bench and sipped on our coffee and apple juice while the town buzzed around us. I was even able to lure a pretty lady over while I was informing Zach what color the flowers were (now that’s multitasking!).

After the coffee, it was time for grilled cheese sandwiches at Georges (an ice cream parlor with a small sandwich menu), and that’s where I found out Zach’s new way of um…. displaying good manners at the dinner table. I mean, I saw him a week ago and even then, he wasn’t trying to imitate Riley eating his food. So, I found it very funny that he was diving in to his plate, face first, going after that grilled cheese sandwich, or when I’d try to hand him a piece of it and he’d try to take it with his mouth. A lot can change in a week!

After lunch at George’s we headed back to the house and both slept for about three hours (yeah, I had a late night out with a friend from out of town), and a half hour later, Mom and Dad were home!

So, yeah, it was an easy going day but for other reasons, I think he and I both learned a bit more about each other. I’ve been noticing a big difference in how Zach reacts when Erin and Pete leave him with me for the day. He just seems more happy, excited and content these days, which to me says he knows me very well. I am also understanding him better when he tries to communicate with me, I mean Erin will hear the slightest creek of a baby’s cry from across the house and know that it’s Emily and she must’ve misplaced her pacifier. But even still, the bond I am making with Zach as much an honor and gift as it is a learning experience for the both of us.

I have yet to tackle all three of them on my own and I just want to say that I give Erin and Pete all the credit in the world for what they have accomplished with these children.
OK, back to Erin here.
What did Zach learn today? Well, if I’m reading that right…how to pick up chics? LOL! I actually firmly believe that spending time away from mom and dad actually helps to strengthen his confidence in us. We always come back. He can count on that. I also firmly believe that spending time with other family members gives him perspective and builds special relationships he’ll always treasure. We wish we lived close to all of our family members, but love that Uncle Chris is here to spend so much time with us!
What did Mommy learn? To appreciate my brother more. He’s a great guy! And ladies….as of now…he’s SINGLE!!! Single. Cute. Good with kids. Values Family…If you’re taken, set him up with your nice sister or cousin!

Day 13: Kites! May 2, 2010

Filed under: Craft,daddy,family,free,kites — Erin Brambilla @ 9:06 am
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“Let’s go fly a kite! Up to the highest heights! Let’s go fly a kite and send it soaring! Up through the atmosphere, up where the air is clear. Oh let’s gooooooooo, fly a kite!!”

One of the things that I love about living in this city is all of the fun, free stuff to do. If you look hard enough, there’s always something. Today was an event called “Kids and Kites Festival”.  And basically, it was just a whole buncha people all flying kites at the exact same time. Simple as that. And SUPER fun!

That's a lot of kites!

We took a walk down to Montrose Harbor to check it all out. For no charge, all the kids were given an opportunity to make their own kite. This was so simple that I figure you could do this with any paper bag you have lying around at home. Or even an old gift bag, to make it more fun and festive looking (if you don’t want to do the decorating yourself).

Picking up the kite kit

Self explanatory

Pete and Zach following directions to make the kite

After putting the kite together, we moved to the decorating station. Zach was a little bit more interested in playing with the markers and caps than he was in actually coloring the kite, but that’s OK. The ladies manning to booth provided us with streamers for a tail.

Coloring his kite

Isn't it beautiful?

Now it was time to fly! After we walked across the hill to find the perfect kiting spot, Pete tried to show Zach how to fly it.

Up it goes

Now Zach gets to hold it

It actually flies pretty well!

Half of the fun of this day was just looking up and seeing all of those kites in the air. It was really amazing. I mean, who knew that all you needed to provide a great time for hundreds of people was some good music blasting on loud speakers and a few hundred kites? Zach also enjoyed just running around freely and being able to shout and screech as loud as he wanted (gleefully, of course).

I was quite amazed that, given the amount of kites in the air in such a small space, there weren’t really too many string entanglement disasters. I mean, there were a few (and we were part of it), but not bad at all. After a few rounds of holding the string himself, Zach decided to let go of it, and not just let go, but THROW the string from his hands (and then run away giggling, of course). The kite was up about as high as it could go at this point in time and he timed the launch perfectly with a wind gust. He let go and that kite took off! Pete had to go sprinting after it. Eventually, when he caught up with it, the kite had come down in a tangled mess with another kite. Luckily, the other kite was not ruined. Ours, well, it was kind of a casualty. Luckily it was at the end of the day.

Hey, look! Dandelions!

All that running and flying makes a boy thirsty

Aw, look at the sleepies missing all the fun

Zach loved the Nemo Kite

The weather doesn’t look perfect, since it was so overcast, but it was decently warm outside, not too humid and definitely windy enough! We had a great time as a family down at the Kite Festival. Did I mention this was 100% FREE? It sure was!! I highly suggest to everyone to take a look at what your city has to offer in terms of family activities. You never know what you’ll find! We’ll have to be sure to go again next year!

Zonked! The sign of a successful day.

What did Zach learn today? How to make and fly a kite. And really, he just had a fun day hanging out with his family. Super bonus that it was outside! He also learned the words to some key party songs–like “Hot! Hot! Hot!” and “Karma Chameleon”–watch for him to be singing at your next family wedding. He’ll even do Bar Mitzvahs!

What did Mommy learn today? How easy making a kite is! I’m going to give making my own a shot and maybe I can post a follow up tutorial.