Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Countdown to Caroline's 7th Birthday

It's officially a week away!  The day Caroline has been waiting for since the day she turned 6!

We put up a little something to help us count down to the big day . . . Caroline loooves counting down, and she squealed when she saw this.  

A few weeks ago, Caroline made out a wish list.  

translation:  1. walkie talkies  2. dresses  3. shoes (she spelled it the way Lincoln pronounces it, just for fun)  4. pillow pets--a dolphin  5. helmet (for bike riding)  6. knee pads (for roller skating)  7. remote [controlled] cars  8. movies

We aren't having a big party this year, so I am trying to think of little ways to make the day special.  I am planning on leaving messages up all throughout the house.  Caroline loves party decorations, and I think this will be right up her alley.  Here is a work in progress--the makings of a little birthday banner.  I can barely stand it.

If time permits, I will make several more little banners with different messages.  For now I am just starting with the basic "Happy Birthday."  

Last night after the kids were in bed, I got out this rainbow-colored paper pack and [drooled and] just cut, cut, cut.  I am still not over delicious rainbow colors.  I think I could have a rainbow-colored birthday every year for the next fifty years and not get tired of it.  This paper makes me giddy.

I would love some ideas on how to have a festive and simple birthday without having a party.  We have always done it up big (because Caroline loves lots of guests and I love parties!), but that is not the plan this year.  

So far our plans are to go to IHOP that morning in our pajamas (Caroline's request) and eat free pancakes.  (At least we heard they were free on March 1--we should probably confirm that at our location.)  Later that day after lunch, we will pick up Papa Paul and Grama Jan at the airport!  Then we have a few more hours to celebrate before Jeff and I have our community group meeting that evening.  

Several times over the past few years, I have wished that I did less for the birthday party and just spent more time enjoying the day with Caroline.  I think this year will lend itself well to just spending time together, but I have to be intentional about it--no coming home from IHOP and sending her off to play while I work on something.   I want it to be a together day.  Any ideas?

Friday, February 18, 2011

collage box: a birthday gift

I love posts about gift giving on other people's blogs, so I thought I would share one on here.  Caroline's friend Brandon turned 5 recently, and for his birthday we put together a collage box.

We got a plastic storage container (a SnapWare container from Target) 
and filled it with some fun goodies. 

top tray--googly eyes, mini popsicle sticks, buttons and paper scraps 
(punched with our paper punches--fun!)

middle tray--glitter glue, Elmer's glue (white and stick), masking tape, plastic tape and scissors

bottom tray--a few more things (feathers, stickers and some yarn and ribbon), 
with plenty of room for Brandon to add some of his own treasures

We gave this along with the book  I Love to Collage! by Jennifer Lipsey and some small posterboard (found at Target near the regular posterboard).

After putting this gift together, Caroline is itching to glue something herself, so maybe we'll have our own collage time soon.   She has a plastic tool box where she keeps all kinds of odds and ends (ribbon from packages, tiny broken toys or pieces of toys, nature "treasures," scrap paper and anything else she finds (or rescues from the trash) and wants to keep but there is no real place for.  She wants to save so many things, and I can get overwhelmed with the clutter (I have my own to deal with, you know).  So when we disagree over an item's worth (usually an item that was discovered with excitement and then just left on the kitchen counter), I will ask her, "where will you keep this?" If it's worth saving in her box, she can keep it.  Periodically, she gets out the box and makes things from its contents . . . or just sorts through all the treasures (which is just as fun).

I think it's a great idea to have a place like this where you can keep little things that seem fun or [somehow] meaningful but that you don't know exactly what to do with.  Part of the inspiration behind the collage box birthday gift came from Caroline's random things box and this post on The Artful Parent.  The mother whose art space is featured in the post says she keeps an "okay to glue it" box in the art room and that she has given similar boxes as birthday gifts to her daughter's friends.  An "okay to glue it box"--doesn't that sound like fun?

I have also had this gift giving list from Patricia of good + happy day bookmarked for several years.  This is where I first heard of Jennifer Lipsey's collage book.  In her list, Patricia suggests giving the collage book along with construction paper, scissors, and glitter glue.  So simple and perfect.

There are so many possibilities with this type of gift.  I am thinking about putting a girly spin on it and including a different book for some [belated] little girl gifts we need to give . . . I will share some ideas for that in another post.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Roman Alexander Carlson

sweet siblings. one doting big sister. one very curious big-but-still-baby brother.
see his precious little hand on baby roman's soft face.  he left tiny fingerprints (you can see if you look closely).

HOT! papa

my cousin referred to me as "mother of three."  it sounded so odd at first!  but i love it. my heart is full.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quote for the Day

Frustrated sigh from Caroline and "Ugh, it's HARD teaching babies math!"

She has such good intentions, but Lincoln just won't cooperate sometimes.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Where to start . . .

I am popping back over here to see if I can sneak a five-minute post in. I can't believe (well, in some ways I can) that I haven't written ANYTHING in over a year. That makes me kind of sad.

Caroline (a big six-and-A-HALF--the 1/2 is huge to her) and Linc (a fat 16 months) are upstairs playing together right now. I've been listening to the pounding of lots of footsteps overheard, several hard thuds, and plenty of sweet baby boy giggles (Caroline can make him laugh harder than anyone else can). Those giggles usually turn into screaming, though, at some point. Lincoln often lets Caroline have her way with him (he loves rough play), but he decides when enough is enough. He has no problem sharing his opinion. If I'm lucky, the screaming turns back into laughing before he can come downstairs to complain to me. :)

Often I find that the screaming is directly tied to an attempt by Caroline to dress him up in something he doesn't want to be dressed up in. He used to let her do just about anything (and we have pictures that document that stage), but lately he doesn't like bothering with sequins and scarves and things. That's probably for the better. Sunglasses and hats and shoes he will still happily try on, though.

I have no idea how to catch up, so I will just try to document a few of the things that are going on right now.

Baby News

  • We are expecting baby #3 and just found out yesterday that it's another boy. The lady doing the ultrasound said to Caroline, "How do you feel about that?" and she rolled her head back and said, "Exhausted!" Just a little bit later, she added, "I can't handle 3 boys!"

  • I think another boy fits in really well with the family dynamic right now. I also think it's crazy. Right now I am trying to figure out the best solution for a 2-year-old and an infant sharing a room . . . we want the boys to share, and we also want to keep our guest room as a guest room. (Come and see us!)

Caroline @ School/Being a Big Girl/Developing Character :)

  • Caroline started 1st grade at a school that meets on Wednesdays and Fridays for class and leaves the rest of the week open for studying at home. We are enjoying this arrangement right now. Caro loves the schoolwork we do at home and loves seeing kids and having a class when she goes to school. Right now she is looking forward to her "first-ever field trip!" She is picturing riding a bus to this field trip, but her school does not have one. "Riding a school bus" is still way up high on her list of things to do. Maybe one of these days.

  • Caroline still almost immediately begins talking about her next birthday right on the heels of the most recent one. I have had to be very firm that we are not discussing being 7 (7!) right now but are going to enjoy being 6. She upped that to six-and-a-half as soon as she officially could and even observed her half birthday this year on September 1. I will not go back and look at the pictures and blog posts from when she was 3 (3!). I will cry. I am starting to tear up a little just thinking about it. Things are so different now. I can't believe I had five whole years of just her to myself. We went everywhere together--she was such a good traveler and good little errand runner. And we stayed home together. She completely wore me out, but could also play to her heart's content in her own little world. She is still very happy in that world and still sings at the top of her lungs while she plays. I hope she doesn't stop doing that for a long, long time. This has characterized her play from the very beginning. I remember wanting to do a post a long time ago entitled, "Her Life is a Musical." Her princesses and dolls and make-believe characters rarely just talk--they are almost always singing to each other. And she makes up the best and most dramatic songs . . .

  • Today Caroline was imploring me to pleeeease let her play with her princesses and blocks on the fireplace hearth, and she promised she would pick it all up when she was done. I told her that she always says this, and she told me, "I WILLLL, I promise! I will be obedient and attentive!" These are the first 2 character traits she has studied in school, and she was putting knowledge of them to good use. I smiled at her suspiciously, and she added, "I will go the extra mile!" (Going the extra mile is encouraged under the Obedience trait.) She won me over with that one.

Fat Baby Linc

  • Lincoln is quite the talker and has been for the past couple of months. He loves naming animals and pointing out cows whenever we drive by a pasture or field . . . or Chick-Fil-A. He says, "oooh, aaah" every time he sees a monkey (and they can be anywhere, if you are looking--which he is). Even when he can't really say a specific word, he will mimic the facial gestures we make when we say it. Before he could say "shoe" he would just put his lips in an "o" shape and kind of say "oooo." The best word is penguin. He squints his eyes a little bit and moves his mouth very deliberately to say something like, "wen, weng." And his noise for a pig is very similar--more of a mouth movement than an actual "oink." When I am trying to get him to talk on the phone to someone, and all he wants to do is listen with the phone pressed against his face, I ask him all the animal sounds questions and he talks. :)

  • One of the things I love most about fat baby is that he is content to just lay his head on my shoulder when I pick him up to hold him, especially if it's first thing in the morning. I will just stand there next to his crib and soak it in. If he is afraid we are not moving far enough away from his crib, he will stir a little and point to the door, but as soon as he is happy in the direction we are moving, he will rest on my shoulder again--usually all the way down the stairs. It's the most precious thing. It's over once we get to the bottom of the stairs, though, because that's where the kitchen is. And he has only one thing on his mind when he is anywhere near the kitchen--"bite-please."

  • "Bite-please" is becoming a Lincoln trademark. When he was first starting to ask for things, doing the usual toddler grunt, I thought I might go crazy if I heard "uh-uh-uh-uh-uh" one more time in a day. I started telling him to say "bite, please" or asking him if he wanted a "bite, please" and often trying to get him to say "please" before giving him a snack. Much to my relief, it didn't take him long to change out "uh-uh" for "bite, please" (which, in the very early stages, was more like "baa-peas"). But I was in no way prepared for the frequency with which he would use it. It is his anthem, his chorus, his daily chant. If he hears any type of rustling of packaging or the slightly squeaky pantry door opening, he is immediately underfoot and begging, "bite-please, bite-please, bite-please, bite-please, bite-please, bite-please . . . " And while it is much nicer ringing in my ears than a repetetive grunt would be, he says it so incessantly that it sometimes has a similar unnerving effect--just a lot more endearing, I guess. You can't eat a single bite in peace if he is around. And he knows no stranger when it comes to food. We were in downtown Chicago earlier this month, and Linc saw a man sitting outside on the sidewalk eating McDonald's and he reached towards the man (from up on Jeff's shoulders) and said, "bite-please, bite-please, bite-please" over and over as we walked past. Close friends and family in the area (those that do the babysitting!) tell us he goes straight for the pantry when he's over at their house. After a long afternoon of babysitting, my friend Katie even changed her Facebook status to "bite please." That phrase can pretty much sum up a whole day.

Well, so much for five minutes. I had to abandon this when the playing upstairs kind of fell apart. And now I am back late at night finishing it up and thinking this is why I don't update often--I write too much! I know I'll be glad I at least wrote something.

I've decided to take a break from online reading and do some writing instead, so maybe I'll be back here more often. I find so much inspiration online, but then I'm on inspiration overload and always reading and never doing. I'm going to start with a week or two of only reading real print and just writing. And when I need a good dose of inspiration or something, I think I will write a letter (one of the most inspiring things, I think). Hopefully, now that I have said it on here, I will stick to it . . .

Signing off for now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Internet Savvy

This afternoon we were making tea and Caroline asked, "how does it make tea when it's just those white bags?" I told her that tea comes from a plant and those were tea leaves inside the bags. She asked some more questions about tea, and I had to tell her I just didn't have all the answers. I said, "Maybe we could read about it."

She said, "Yeah, maybe you could log on to it. Maybe you could look it up on Facebook."

Facebook?! I had to pop her and squeeze her several times for that.

I really don't know how that word is in her vocabulary. Jeff and I are both on Facebook but have never talked to her about it . . . don't even think we talk about it that much, period. But apparently the term has come up enough times for her to know something about it. We are realizing more and more nowadays that absolutely nothing gets by her.

She loves to play on Jeff's Ipod. The other morning before swim lessons, she picked it up and said she was going to check the weather. She informed me that it was sunny in Frisco that day and said, "let me see about Chicago." I thought she was just pretending to actually be checking anything, but she slid her finger across the screen and there was the Chicago forecast. Apparently, that's one of the locations Jeff has set up on the weather app and Caroline knows it.

I'm pretty sure it won't be too long before she's on Twitter. :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Wow, it's been forever since I've updated anything on here! I've been meaning to write for . . . what . . . 10 months!!

Where do I even start? Rather than go in chronological order, I will just start with the biggest (and Caroline's favorite) change--her little brother Lincoln.

We have a sweet, chubby, smiling and cooing baby in the house and I think I can speak for all of us in saying that we are smitten. Linc will be 8 weeks tomorrow (so hard to believe) and he's really started interacting with us more in the past couple of weeks. He has the sweetest smile (very much like Caroline's baby smile--they favor quite a bit in that area), and he's at that stage where he seems like he wants to say something, but he has to focus really hard first for like a minute . . . and then when he finally finds his voice, he gives us a huge grin and lets out one tiny little "guh" or "goo." Caroline and I hang on every word. :)

Caroline loves being a big sister. I can't believe I haven't written a single word about her anticipation of sisterhood. She prayed every single day for "the baby to grow strong and healthy." Once I could start to feel him kicking, she would ask for reports a couple of times a day. "Did you feel the baby kick this morning?" If I answered yes, she was very pleased, and if I went a little further and said the baby was kicking a lot, she was super pleased, "Wow, he must be really healthy, then, huh, Mama!"

She had big plans for her role as a big sister, telling me all the time that she would take such good care of him. She would feed him, change him, take him for walks . . . do everything. And all I would have to do was clean the house.

When she found out that babies eat a lot and even wake up at night to eat, she was a little surprised, but just went ahead and added the night shift to her job description as well. Her first reaction was, "Ooooh my goodness, I'm going to be really tired if I have to wake up to feed him at night!"

And just as promised, she has been a huge help. Her favorite thing to do lately is to hold Lincoln up on her shoulder while standing up and kind of bouncing him. She says she can calm him down that way. The other day she wanted to pick him up out of his bassinet and I said not to because it would be too hard to reach down into it and lift him out of it. She said, "I can do it. I can. I just reach down and pull him up. I can do it." I still said I would rather her not do it and she said, "Mom, listen, you just need to remember it in your brain (pointing to hers) that I am able to do it. I am. I will show you."

Well, the next morning while I was on the phone (and sufficiently distracted), Lincoln started crying and Caroline came into the master bedroom to check on him. She said, "Hey there, buddy," in her sweetest voice, reached into the bassinet, scooped him up, put him up on her shoulder (his legs hanging down almost to her knees), started bouncing him, and looked over at me with a smug big-sister smile. Now I will be sure to remember it in my brain that she can get him out of his bassinet. :)

A friend of ours is expecting a baby in November and we were talking about what it might be. Caroline said she hopes it's a baby boy because boys are cute. I think it's sweet how she's partial to them now.


Well, there's a start. I might even get some pictures up soon . . . we will see.