The Gremlins

Mr. Stork

We have been keeping this a secret for the past four months. But now my little 17 week old is too big to hide.

We are ecstatic… And yes, it was planned (that seems to be the first question everyone has). Yes, planned. Although Lily’s wish for a little sister on Christmas Eve could have done the trick.

Here is my bump and the handsome culprit.

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Expect a flurry of posts now that the cat is out of the bag. I find it very hard to blog when I am keeping something from you.

xoxo,

Alaina

My little boy.

Benjamin turned seven last weekend.

Seven. 

The years haven’t flown by. I don’t feel that way at all. I look back on the past seven years as a long, long road to where we are today. There was no flying involved. We just took it day by day, keeping ourselves busy with adventures, big and small. And through it all, we were together.

Fortunately for me, he still lets me squeeze him hug him and kiss him up, just like I did when he was a little guy.

Benjaminat3Months

Thank goodness, because Read More…

What do you do with family photos?

Printed photos are a rarity for me. Lily & Cohen’s baby pictures aren’t in one of those frilly family photo albums. Well, a few of them are. And there are some in frames. But most of the pictures are on my phone and computer… and backed up on two separate external hard drives… and various online photo services. But printing them always seemed like such a hassle. Have to crop them, upload them to some wobbly local photo shop website (or through iPhoto, Flickr, Picasa, etc), select print sizes, glossy or matte finish, and on and on.  And, usually, you have to do that all from a computer.

Now, though, we have lots of pictures. A Ms. Single Mama/Beauty and the Biker reader, Julie, told us about an awesome photo app she’s been working on called Groovebook: a photo app for busy families. Groovebook prints a keepsake booklet of up to 100 pictures from your iOS (iPhone, iPod, etc) or Android device each month, sends it to you, and all they charge is $2.99 for shipping/handling. Seriously. So, when Julie asked if we wanted to try out this photo app for free (in exchange for sharing our thoughts about it), we said sure!

You can download Groovebook for free from the iTunes App Store or Google Play. Then, create a free account, and select the pictures you want this month. The pics go from your phone to your door with a few taps.

The kids love these little photo books. Each page is perforated, and tells the date, time, and location of each picture.

Lily tore out a bunch and put them on the pin board in her room.

groovebook photos on a pinboard Read More…

Raising Grateful Children

Ensuring our children evolve into adults who are altruistic, caring, compassionate and grateful for what they have is on our short list of parenting musts. But it is one of the more challenging and trying. Seth and I both worry our children are growing up with “too much stuff” because they have “way more toys than we did.” But it’s more than that. Raising grateful children doesn’t boil down to stripping their toy bins bare. I try to think of how my parents did it, to put my finger on their parenting I experienced and am likely repeating.

I remember my parents always saying at dinner, “You know, there are some children who don’t even get dinners. They are starving to death!” I tried this the other night and received blank stares from Lily, Cohen and Benjamin. Then they went back to talking about their days at school or their latest iPod games. Read More…

How to make your kids musical geniuses

Ok, I’m not sure how to make them musical geniuses, but I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t have their grandparents teach them to sing Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo.

I know, I know. Christmas posts are so last December. But srsly. Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo was sitting on my parents’ bathroom sink.

Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo on a bathroom sink

Grandparents are diabolical.

-Seth

Wired children

This Christmas I tried my very, very Alaina-hardest not to go overboard on the kids’ Christmas presents. I used to buy Benjamin piles and pile of presents but those days are no more, now that there are three. This is obviously a good thing for Benjamin.

We entertained the idea of an NES or a LeapFrog Whatever It Is, but we opted with the iTouch. We are Apple lovers, but it really came down to long-term cost and capabilities. The iTouches have cameras, texting and FaceTime (video chatting) and every game they buy (for all of .99 or $1.99) can be shared, never lost and always updated.

So, on Christmas morning the boys opened their one box and jumped with joy to find their very own iTouches. Lily received one of her birthday in September. Now all of the kids are wired up.

They take pictures, beautiful pictures. They text or FaceTime aunts and uncles, and other parents. They play lots of games, too. The apps are unreal, and there really is no limit to what the kids can create. “Screen time” as we call it, whether it is on the Wii or on the iTouch is limited to 30 minutes per day on school days.

Selfishly, I love that I don’t have to share my iPhone with them anymore.

Do your kids have these miraculous little devices? What do you think, good, bad, way bad? What about cell phones? When will you buy them cell phones?

Step-brothers or brothers?

It’s hard to tell anymore.

They love each other like brothers and they fight like brothers.

This bout in the thrift store ended with Cohen throwing punches at Benjamin and me shouting from the register for them to “cut it out!” That’s what happens when you’re two months apart, the same size and when you know exactly how to set each other off.

Seth spent an entire day, today – a Saturday – out at a concealed carry class. And after one day straight with them, alone, I feel completely exhausted and drained of any will to live. I would rather be in the office working any day. Call me a rotten mom or an evil step-mother, but I could never, ever be a stay at home mom (or dad) and I commend all of you who are.

A few things to share:

1. Our Holiday card to all of you. Smiles guaranteed.
2. And, a fantastic behavior app for kids called Beep Boop. Give the kids a beep or a boop, tally them up at the end of the day – reward accordingly. Seth and I’s apps are completely synced so we don’t have to add the points in our head and share later. Love it and highly recommend to all of you mamas out there, who may – like me – be a tad exhausted.

Learning to skate.

I miss the days when it was just Benjamin and I.

It had just gotten so easy. Just the two of us, with no one to answer to… I could spoil him to the ends of the Earth (without even realizing I was). He could get all of my attention, all of the time. Now, we are a family of five and everything is exposed. My weaknesses as a parent. Benjamin’s behavior issues. All of it is on the table for Seth, Lily and Cohen to see. And somehow, we have to merge our world with theirs.

But we are. Day by day. Week by week. Talk after talk between two concerned parents, madly in love with each other and unable to put a magic Band-Aid on anything. The adjusting continues and I wonder, both of us wonder, how long it will take before everyone just kind of settles in. It has been over one year, but in some ways everything still feels so new.

We are struggling with Benjamin. Read More…

So, that’s where babies come from…

Benjamin gasps and then looks at me in shock,”Mom!”

“What?”

We are relaxing on an afternoon after school. Me reading on the couch and Benjamin working on homework in the dining room just a few feet away.

“I just realized something.” He is an advanced conversationalist, for a six-year-old, and articulates every point precisely.

“When my real dad married my step-mom she had a baby. But when they met she already had my step-brother.”

“Uh-huh.”

“So, you already had me and then you married Dad, so that means you are going to have a baby!”

“Is that so?”

“Yes! Oh my gosh, Mom, you are totally going to be pregnant soon! I can’t even believe it!”

He looks at me and nods his head in complete certainty.

“Yep. Definitely.”

I haven’t seem him this excited since last Christmas. It does make sense. Clearly…

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