Thursday, August 28, 2008

Great kids!

I just have to praise my little girls. They are doing an amazing job on this trip.
Andy and I have learned that our family requires a suite, especially if we are going to be doing anything other than sleeping. But what's the definition of "suite?" Sometimes is means two completely separate rooms - one with a couple beds, another with couch, chairs, and a kitchen-like area. Other times it means one long room with two beds, couch, mini-fridge and microwave. Obviously the first is ideal for our family.
The later is our home for these couple of days. Not the best set up. Can you imagine being quiet enough on one side of the room to allow a nap on the other? Me either. But we managed!
A really needed a nap, but kept watching the girls play, so I had to roll his crib into the bathroom. At the time I was thinking this isn't going to work because I have a room of 4 ladies with no access to a bathroom. But I was desperate. A was exhausted and really needed to sleep.
But my little ladies were amazing! They whispered, yes whispered for 2.5 hours! After about 1.5 hours they began to complain about needing to potty. But they (and I at this point) continued to hold it for another hour. And they played so well, so quietly. I was amazed.
As soon as Andy got back to the hotel, we rewarded the girls with a trip to the pool. We're having a blast!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hotel Blah

So we finally found a clean, safe, affordable (somewhat) hotel room. Everyone had to help carry things inside to our room. It takes a considerable amount of gear for a family of six, even though I'm getting good at bringing essentials only - no room for fluff.
Andy carried dinner and hotel keys, followed by M pulling a suitcase, J carrying the toiletry bag, C pushing A in the stroller with the diaper bag, and finally me bringing up the rear with purse, backpack with computer, duffel bag, and second rolling suitcase. It sounds like I got the shaft and Andy had a stroll in the park. But please remember "dinner" is for five people, including drinks. I specifically asked him to take that role because I didn't want to be responsible for dropping any food. We were one hungry gang. Shhh... he still doesn't know it was a potential set up.
So we get to our room and all pile in. After dinner I take time to get the kids ready for bed and straighten the room. (Remember I can't handle chaos.)
So here's the scene: girls in bed, A in crib, me relaxing to Fox News, Andy heading to take a shower. Ooohh ... finally time to kick back and relax. Soak in the moment with me.
But then I hear the water turn off, turn on, turn off, turn on, turn off, turn on, etc... I muted the television. What is going on in there? Finally Andy steps out and asks for help.
We can't get the water any temperature other than extremely hot. I've heard of too cool a shower, but too hot!? We call the front desk who sends someone to work on it. After about 15 minutes he explains, "It's just too hot." Brilliant. (C's new word.)
So obviously we have to move rooms. GREAT! (sarcasm) It's already 9pm, which is way late for our family. But let's go kiddos. We loaded up A's rolling crib with all our gear, got the girls out of bed and headed to a new room.
So our new room is freezing! No really, freezing. I check the thermostat to find it set for 62 degrees. Yeah, that's a little too cold, for sure, especially since it's been raining all day. And A has decided that his little power nap in the original room was equivalent to a good night's sleep. He finally settles down, and we all crash.
I'm still freezing, but at least I have a heater in my bed named Andy. He must have known how exhausted and irritable I was because cold toes nestled between his calves is usually a BIG no no. I survived because of him, but A didn't fare too well. Covers mean nothing to him, and he was freezing.
His wails got my attention about 11pm. Poor baby was like an icecube. I grabbed him and brought him to my heater. Before my head hit the pillow, A was fast asleep on my chest. I held him like this, dozing off and on until about midnight when I returned him to his crib.
So night number one is over, thank goodness. I sure hope this trip gets better sometime soon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The fam is in Alexandria this week. Andy has a conference and really didn't like the idea of leaving the family behind. It's kind of silly, but Andy and I hate spending nights away from each other. So we're all in Alex.
Finding a hotel was quite an adventure last night. Apparently I am supposed to know where everything is in the city since I lived here (Pineville) for three years during college, but my memory stinks. It's gotten so bad on this trip that I have told Andy to please turn the opposite direction I tell him to. This morning, in the midst of one of my many "leading in the wrong direction" moments, Andy was reminded that God has not called me to lead this family. Thank goodness!
At least we found a great radio station playing tons of favs from the 80's and 90's that eased the tension in the truck. They even played my song! Or at least Andy claimed it was my song of the moment - "Turn Around."
The kids are doing a great job being patient on all my "adventures." I consider it all a great learning experience. I'm just trying to help my little girls grasp the idea that we don't know everything.
I think they got it. C asked this morning, "M, are we lost again?"
Yes babe, we are.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bonding over brownies

What's better than a batch of Sunday afternoon brownies?
C was the first to wake up from her nap. It was already getting late, so we decided to get started on the brownies. It was special since it was just C and I in the kitchen, whispering back and forth, as the rest of the house was sound asleep.
C was a big help. She melted the butter in the microwave, then beat in the sugar. I measured the flour, cocoa, and salt, then she poured them in the bowl and mixed it all up. I added the eggs and vanilla while she continued to stir.
She had a blast and recognized she was able to do more since her sisters were sleeping.

But all in all, why help Mom make brownies? To lick the bowl, or course. Just as she was getting into it, J emerged from the bedroom wiping her eyes. C was enjoying the experience so much, she wanted to share the fun with J. She said, "Yeah J! You're up! You can help me lick the bowl. Mom and I just made some brownies." Then she pulled another chair up to the island for J, helped her little sister crawl up, and let J lick her spoon. J soon realized she could go faster on her own, using her fingers.

I love my little ladies!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

One tough Mom

I know it's true. I'm a tough mom. I demand quite a bit from my children. And the demands come early. I push my kids to fulfill their potential. I'm continually pushing them to the edge to discover their potential.
Like the other day when C was wearing shorts with a button. After going to the potty she asked me to help her to which I responded, "Not right now C. I want you to give it a try."
C: "But I can't Momma. I've tried, and I just can't do it. I need you to do it for me."
Mom: "I don't think that's true C. I think you can do it. You're getting to be so big, and I think this is something you can do for yourself. So I need you to go back to the playroom with your sisters and try for awhile."
C leaves with a sigh of anger. She gets to the playroom and all starts crying to her sisters, "See I can't do it, and Momma won't help me. Oh what am I going to do? I can't button my pants by myself." (She can be quite dramatic.) Then Andy and I hear an excited scream, "I did it!"
C comes running around the corner with a huge grin on her face. She buttoned her pants!!
Was I sure she was going to be able to do it? No. Would it have been easier for me to button the shorts? Yes, certainly. But was I willing to push my little girl to the edge to see if she could accomplish the unthinkable? Yes. And did it allow a new sense of pride to swell up in her? Of course.
So what does that have to do with the picture of M above? Same idea. I've posted before about our new nap time rule: You can't get up until you fall asleep.
This afternoon, after the kids were down and quiet, I went outside to mow the lawn. When I got to the backyard I noticed the blinds of the kids' bedroom had been pulled away from the window. The smart detective Mom that I am immediately recognized that one (or all) of my hoodlums had gotten out of bed. I finished mowing and went inside to ask Andy if he had done anything with the children.
He explained that C and M had "woken up" (according to them) and were looking out the window. He told them to go ahead and go to the playroom. The story seemed fishy to me so I continued my investigation. I went to the playroom to ask the girls if they had, in fact, gone to sleep.
Mom: "C and M, did you girls fall asleep today?"
M: Immediate response, "No ma'am. Not today. We decided to stay up." (The innocent ignorance of complete honesty.)
C: "Well Mom..."
Mom: "No 'well Mom.' Answer my question. Did you go to sleep? Yes or no."
C: "No ma'am. But I'm so sorry and I won't do it again." (Her attempt to get out of the consequences of her disobedience.
So clearly they had whipped their father, and thought they were going to get away with it. (He's got to brush up on those detective skills.) So I explained to them that they had two choices. They could choose to stop playing immediately, go lie down and take a nap. OR, they could continue to play, but that they would have to go to bed early tonight, missing dinner with the family. (GASP!) C said, "But Mom. I don't like either of those choices." I explained to her that she was not supposed to like the choices - that they were consequences for her bad choice during nap time. She shook her head and chose to go take a nap.
J and A were still napping, and I didn't want to risk waking them up. So C and M found a spot on the hardwood floor in the living room. No pillow. No blanket. They lost comfort privileges when they chose to not nap at nap time. One tough momma.
So what's the verdict? How did this play out? C and M were both sound asleep within 10 minutes. No fuss. No tears. They understood what was expected of them, and they rose to the occasion.
I may be tough, but I'm also amazed at what my girls are capable of. A little push, a little nudge to the edge, and they spread their wings and soar.
Way to go C and M! Once again you've proven what you're made of. I love helping you grow, and I love growing with you!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My growing boy

How precious is he? My little A is growing up. He's not a baby anymore. His facial features are already beginning to look more toddler like.
Not that he's "toddling" around, or anything. He's 1o months old, still dragging himself across the floor, leaving behind his snail trail of spit up.
No, my beautiful baby boy is on his own schedule. He's hitting the physical milestones at his own pace.
I have such a "by the book" personality, and A is really pushing me beyond my comfort zone. He's his own little boy with his own big boy plan, and I love it.
Go 'head A! Be the best army crawler this world has ever seen!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Happy Breakfast!

Happy Friday! We celebrated this morning with happy face waffles and blue milk.
Look how much fun I get to have. Most moms get to make one, maybe two happy face waffles. But oh no - not me. I get to make three, and A will be joining the table crew soon which means another happy face waffle! Fun times!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hard at Work

Andy has a little helper today. He's doing sermon prep. I'm sure in her mind J is doing something equally as important.
Fun father-daughter bonding.
Having lots of kids allows us to get creative about ways to spend special one on one time with each of them.
We're still learning how best to nurture each of them individually, and the learning process is so much fun!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Feel like a Queen

I'm certainly no queen, but my precious J tries to make me feel like a queen. A lot of days my shower comes mid-morning after the hustle and bustle of morning routines. I'd really rather to be up and dressed before the kids start moving around, but let's be honest, it doesn't always happen that way. :)
A still takes a morning nap, which is the perfect time for me to sneak away. C and M usually choose to stay in the middle of the imaginary world they've created in the playroom, but J tends to follow me to the bathroom.
She'll sit on the floor and read a magazine while I shower. But as soon as the shower turns off, she's on her feet, grabbing my towel for me. She opens the shower door for me and hands me my towel. Then she's learned that I like to close the door again to stay warm. She'll close the door and stand, ready at attention, for me to say, "I'm ready." At that she'll swing the door open and hold it open until I step out of the way when she'll close it again. WOW! What an experience, being waited on hand and foot.
Then she'll stay with me while I pick out my clothes commenting how pretty I look and how she really likes my shirt. She is a true self-esteem booster. I love my morning showers with J!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Smelly paint

Oh wow! I think I had as much fun as the girls with this activity. Aunt Joan sent us some scented paint pens. How much fun! I didn't tell the girls they were scented because I was hoping they would discover it on their own. But they were having so much fun painting, they didn't stop to smell the roses (paint).

After they painted for awhile, I told them to smell the paper. They were thrilled, but confused. Why did their paper smell like lemons and raspberries? It was so much fun!

We all decided that blue raspberry was our favorite (yum yum), except for J. Yellow is her favorite color right now, so anything yellow is her top pick.

Thanks for a great afternoon Aunt Joan! And we have just enough paint left in the pens to have another round of smelly painting. I can't wait!

Monday, August 18, 2008


Is anyone else pooped on Monday mornings? I love Sundays. It's the girls favorite day as well. But Sundays are lots of work. We're up early (even the kids), out of the house by 7:30am, and doing lots of physical work transforming the theater into a fun, exciting toddler zone.
The next time you go to the movies, look around and imagine what it takes to create a fun, safe place with that room! Church at the movies is so exciting!

All this to say my hubby is amazing. He lets me sleep in on Monday mornings because my body screams for it. I've learned I really need that extra rest if I am going to be of any value on Monday.

Well this morning as I crawled out of bed at 7am, the house was still and quiet. Confused (and a little afraid), I walked to the kitchen. Still no sign of life. I finally found the girls, still in their bed. The lights were out and all were still. But there was a big hump in the middle. I stared for awhile, and got a quick wave from Andy. He and the girls were enjoying some morning snuggling. It was so sweet. I thought about running to get the camera to capture it, but I knew my leaving would excite the girls and ruin the moment. So I grabbed A from his crib and joined the bed bash. Six in a bed --what a great Monday morning.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nana's house

The girls and I looked at this picture this morning. They were asking to go back to Nana's because they miss her.
We love going to Nana's house. It's so relaxing. Even the girls enjoy slow, lazy mornings at Nana's.
It's like they know that Mom and Dad have come to Nana's to escape the hustle and bustle of life. We've come for some much needed R and R, and they love it.
I mean who wouldn't love it at Nana's?! Trips to Nana's house are always filled with lots of love, lots of food, and lots of adventures.
Are you ready for us yet Nana? We're missing you already!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Important lessons

I'm so glad now I know. I must admit, I had no idea. But now C has clarified it for all of us.
The girls were enjoying a picnic lunch on Nana's deck. They were really excited, enjoying their special treat - Cheetos! I was walking around, cleaning up, hanging up wet swim towels, etc. when I overheard the lesson of the day.
C explained to M and J that Cheetos juice is really good. M chimed in, "Yes J. Cheetos juice is the best." "And how do you think we get Cheetos juice J?" asked C. "We have to squeeze the Cheetos really, really hard to get the juice to come out."
Cheetos Juice anyone? I've heard it's a delicacy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My little swimmer

J absolutely loves the water. I've had to keep a close eye on her ever since we've allowed her to be in water. Even at bathtime, the girl tries to swim. She puts her face in the water and blows bubbles. She's even been able to encourage M, who tends to fear the water.
But no fear for little J. Her favorite thing to is jump off the side into the pool. She can do it again and again and again, over and over and over. Jump in, swim to the steps, get out, jump in, swim to the steps, get out, and so on. She's so funny to watch. Now we don't even catch her when she hits the water. She does it all on her own. She usually bobs twice before she's up for good, but she loves it.
That girl's a hoot. If you ask her to float on her back, she'll lean back and stick her feet out of the water. I have to remind her to get her bottom up so she can lie flat and float on her back. She's so silly in the water.
But what fun it is to have all three girls swimming around with their floaties. Thank goodness for Great Gran and her pool. We wouldn't have survived summer without Great Gran's "Carter cookies" and swimming pool. I have so many memories of spending all summer in that pool. It's fun to now share it with my girls. Thanks Great Gran!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Nap in new bed!

The Manning family is now proud owners of a bunk bed (thanks to some incredible friends that passed it on). Of course we can't use the top bunk for another year, but the girls LOVE their new bed!
We've always had at least one girl find her way to the floor before falling asleep. Most nights M and J would ask to sleep on the floor. In their minds, the floor was some exotic adventure. Go figure. Many mornings I would find the bed empty!
But ever since we set up the new bed, all three girls have stayed in it! I know the excitement of a new bed will wear off soon, and we'll most likely return to them choosing the floor over the bed. I'm just trying to soak in the moment of all three sleeping peacefully, side by side in the bed.
Side note: Last night as I was putting the girls to bed, covering them up, C asked, "Mom, why did you get us a new bed?" I replied, "Because I love you so very much C. And I want you to have lots of nice things." To which M responded, "Yes, Mom wants us to have nice things, but we have to take care of our nice things. If we make bad choices on this bed, Mom will take it away, and we won't have a bed anymore."

Yes my precious M. You are so right. Life is hard, but it can be so rewarding if we choose to make good choices.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Naptime with C

I wanted to update C's progress with the new naptime system. It's working great! The idea of her not being able to get up until she falls asleep must make sense to her.

She has chosen to not fall asleep only once since starting the system - the first day visiting her Nana out of town. She just wanted to test me to see if I would hold her to the new rule away from our home. (The girls haven't quite caught on to how stubborn I can be, especially when it comes to their growth and development.)

So yes, even at Nana's house, she spent the afternoon in her bed, missing out on Nana's arrival from work. She was allowed to come out when dinner was set on the table. She ate quietly, pottied, and returned to her bed. It was really hard for us to stick with the plan, but what success one tough afternoon brought!

I once heard the more you love your children, the harder raising them is because you're willing to watch your children suffer for their sake. All afternoon my emotions were crying out to let her get up, to let her come play with us, to not make her suffer anymore. But my mind (and thankfully God's wisdom) knew that would not be best for her. It certainly would have been easier on me and the rest of the family for that matter.

So I am loving this new system! There is no battle at naptime. I don't even have to repeat the system when I'm putting them down. C tells me she is going to go right to sleep so we can play after naptime. And with her getting a good 2 hour nap each afternoon, she's so much more pleasant. All three girls wake up in such a good mood, ready to play together the rest of the afternoon.

Way to go C! You are learning self-discipline - doing what is best, even when you don't want to. I'm so proud of you! You are growing into quite a lovely young lady.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Yard Work

We'll admit it. Andy and I hate yard work. I mean, we'll get out there and do it. We'll even do our best to enjoy the labor intensive task. And we certainly love the look of a freshly mowed lawn. But let's be honest, we both dream of the day we can afford someone else to tackle the dirty task.
But at least for today, it's done. Andy's a sweaty mess, but the yard looks great.
Thanks hon for doing your best and giving your all even when you hate the task. I really appreciate you and all you do to make our home a pleasant place to be. And I will gladly place a big smooch on your face, even when you come in looking like this.
No, my husband is not wearing leggings. And he only wishes his legs were that tan!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sr and Jr

I don't know who likes Daddy Time more.
Andy Sr. or A Jr.

A's eyes light up every time his daddy comes into the room. Andy can get him to smile and grin just with a quick glance.
It's so much fun to watch them interact. They already have a tight bond, and I look forward to watching their relationship grow and mature through the years.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Happy 8!

HAPPY 8/8/08!
Good thing it's Family Fun Day, because we're taking advantage of today and partying all day long!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dirty to Clean

So what do you do when your kitchen floor could really use a good mopping, but the task doesn't seem to fit with the day's to do list?

TADA! Dirty to clean in lickety slip, record time. Three clorox wipes and six little hands go a long way. I love my little helpers!!