A Year of Trying to be a Better Mom

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!!


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
Tags: ,

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 9 (11521-12960m): Children’s Museum April 27, 2010

Filed under: Childrens Museum,family,field trip,fire trucks,sensory,water play — Erin Brambilla @ 10:04 pm
Tags: ,

Nice face, Chris

Today had the potential to be awe-some! It really did. All the ingredients were there. Free pass to the museum from the library? Check! Uncle Chris with a day off to spend with us all? Check! Super cool exhibits FULL of stuff Zach is obsessed with? Check! Excited and enthusiastic toddler? Ch…oh…um…no. It wasn’t so much that Zach was poorly behaved today, or that he didn’t participate, it’s just that he was indifferent. I guess you never can tell what will be a hit or a miss, or a good day or a bad day. Maybe we’ll come back again another time and it’ll be better. I mean, come ON….

There was Firetruck Stuff:

Driving the firetruck

Coming down from the big ladder

And there was construction and building:

Trying to lift the tool box of wing nuts, bolts and washers

Helping Uncle Chris build a house with the "scoop driber" (that's toddler speak for screw driver, in case you couldn't tell)

and splashing in water:

Building fountains in the water

And digging for dinosaurs!

Discovering dinosaur bones

Come on! "Shobels" are probably his favorite thing in the world and he would barely dig!

But there were no smiles to be found on this kid. Anywhere. He was very, very serious. And if he noticed me coming with the camera, all bets were off. I can’t decide if he was trying to concentrate or if he was just tired or if he was purposefully trying to do whatever the opposite of what we were showing him was. Whatever it was, I hope he had fun, despite the poker face. He was pretty obsessed with anything that had a steering wheel though.The aforementioned firetruck, a Jeep, and a little red car.

Driving the car

Cleaning the windows

Changing the tires

Oh, and let’s not forget. The front loader and dump truck. Just like the set he has at home!! Of course you know THOSE were a hit!

Wow. If there was some dusty furniture in this picture, I might think we were at home. The dump truck and front loader, always a hit. The kid knows what he likes.

Last, but not least, my favorite room, the “MOVE!” room. It was full of things for the kids to climb, slide and jump on. It should really be called the “Wear your kids out before nap time” room, but that would probably be hard to fit on a sign.

Trampoline like thing--blurry, but he's getting some good air!

A hill to climb and slide down

Jumping from cushion to cushion

Looking back at all the pictures, it was a pretty good day. We did a lot. I just wish I could tell if Zach really enjoyed it. It’s the kind of place that makes me wish I was a kid again so I could go back and enjoy it myself. Kids just don’t know how cool things are!

Guess who did have fun though? Check out these smiles!

This is the grin that greets me in the mornings, tell me you're not jealous!

So happy and smiley! She was chatting away!

What did Zach get out of it? Well, some physical activity is always good. He also got to work on motor skills (especially in the building room). He got to be a little bit scientific while building fountains–which way would the water go next by connecting pipes? what do I have to do to get the water to flow this way? or that? He also got to bond with his Uncle Chris, which is always fun.

What did Mommy get out of it? Well, getting out of the house for a whole day is ALWAYS fun. And it was cool to see what Zach would do next. In the room with all the cushions to jump on, he just went up and started doing it. No prompting, no lessons, he just knew to jump from one to the next. I thought that was cool. We have the kind of couch that doesn’t have cushions, so he’s never done that before, yet he just knew to do it. And, you can lead a horse to pasture, but you can’t make it eat. We would take him from exhibit to exhibit, but participation was not always there. I have to get better at letting HIM lead these things and not place my adult expectations on him.

What did Uncle Chris get out of it? Hopefully a fun day off of work. And, um, that 3 kids out and about is A LOT of work. That’s probably birth control enough for a few more years. LOL!