Sunday, June 30, 2013

First Cousins Twice Removed

     We spent the afternoon with the Sugar Snaps' first cousins twice removed.  One is a biological cousin and the other is a cousin by marriage. Confused?  I was.  It made perfect sense to my husband Greg and now, thanks to his explanation and this handy diagram on Wikipedia, I get it.  Greg's Dad was Nina's first cousin which makes Greg her first cousin once removed.  Our children are Nina's first cousins twice removed. 

     I think it was hard for the Sugar Snaps to understand that they can have more than one cousin.  They think our niece Emma is their only cousin (though they will later learn that they have several).   They seemed a little puzzled when we explained that Nina and Jerry are their cousins.  Nina jokingly asked them who was their favorite first cousin twice removed as she passed out animal crackers.

She had their undivided attention.
They were captivated by Jerry's watch that made rooster sounds.
Capri made dozens of trips to the dry creek bed to find pebbles.
     Capri brought over pebbles from the dry creek bed one at a time which kept her entertained for quite a while.  She later played "clean-up" and returned them all.  It was a nice afternoon.  We started out by going to a local Mexican restaurant.  The Sugar Snaps are always happy and entertained when they have chips and individual salsas.  There is something about dips that they find enchanting.  Then, we spent time at Nina and Jerry's house.  They are warm and wonderful people and we feel very fortunate to have them in our lives.  Does your family get together with extended family? I'd love to read your stories in the comments.  Feel free to leave links to your posts about family connection if you have them. 

Friday, June 28, 2013



     For many children, their first hero is their father.  This was true for my husband Greg who shared a special connection with his Dad.  I was also very lucky to have John as a father-in-law.   He had a medical background and I called him whenever the Sugar Snaps spiked a fever or had other worrisome symptoms.  He was calm and patient and always knew what to do.  He saved a number of people in his life using CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver.  He was the kind of person you would want to be there in an emergency.  He was always ready to jump in and help anyone in need at a moment's notice. 

John and Greg on a family trip to Ireland

     A few months before Father's Day last year, Greg lost his hero.  He was in seemingly perfect health and passed away from sudden cardiac failure due to overexertion.  He was there one day and gone the next. John was an amazing Papa to the Sugar Snaps.  I remember him tirelessly walking around with Ryder while he cried as a baby.  Ryder, born our smallest, frequently cried as an infant due to an upset stomach. John was told that he also cried a lot as an infant for the same reason.  Now, Ryder is our tallest which reminds me of John who stood six feet, three inches tall.

Capri and the Spider-Men

     Greg and John shared a love of superheroes.  Superman, Spider-man and Batman (among others) shared a special place in their hearts.  It was fitting on Father's Day last year, that Greg picked out Spider-man shirts for the boys to wear as we visited the cemetery. This year, he got them Superhero pajamas; Capri was Super Girl and the boys were Superman. We did not visit the cemetery on Father's Day this year, but visited it in between Mother's Day and Father's Day as Greg lost both his parents within about a year.

Papa and Nana with the Sugar Snaps

Super Snaps! The boys seemed a little more into it than Capri...

      We will makes sure to keep Daddy's hero alive for the Sugar Snaps through stories and pictures and by sharing his interests with them.  They will know he loved lizards, had a thirst for learning and a passion for travel.  But, most of all, they will learn about how much he loved being their Papa. 

     Greg is the Sugar Snap's first hero.  They get so excited when he comes home from work.  They love the pancakes he makes for them on the weekends (just like the ones his Dad used to make).  They try on his glasses so that they can look like him.  I am glad they have such an amazing Daddy who had an amazing Daddy of  his own.  We feel a little lost without John, who had a wonderful presence. We thought he would be with us for a long time.  His sudden passing was a reminder to cherish the time we have with those we love and to "jump in and help anyone in need at a moment's notice."  Do you or the children in your lives have heroes?  I'd love to read about your heroes.  Feel free to share stories in the comments or leave links to related posts.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Toddlers Touch Trucks


     I am not sure who came up with the idea of  "Touch a Truck" but it is brilliant.  I know there are Touch a Truck events in many places and we were lucky enough to have one locally.  They featured all kinds of vehicles from fire engines, ambulances and police cars to tractors and sanitation trucks. The Sugar Snaps are fascinated by all kinds of trucks.  All Dads and Grandpas got in free in honor of Father's Day weekend. 

At first, Capri was the only one brave enough to touch a truck.  She even got in!

Her brothers started to warm up to the idea after a friendly firefighter gave them stickers.

Ryder was pretty excited to sit in a police car.

He was even more excited to touch the "big wheels" of a tractor.

Xayden looked very official in the firefighter hat.

He seized the moment in the police car to try to figure out the controls.

All the Sugar Snaps loved the moving truck.

     The Sugar Snaps had a great time and we enjoyed discovering the magic of trucks through their eyes.  It is funny how something that seems so ordinary becomes extraordinary in the eyes of a child.  I love rediscovering the magic of the world through their eyes.  Have you been to a Touch a Truck event or any other events recently?  I'd love to hear what is happening in your area.  Feel free to share in the comments and leave links to your family adventure posts if you have them.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Toddler Harnesses--Tried in the Court of Public Opinion

     You've probably seen toddler harnesses.  Parents use them in the mall and around town.  They look like backpacks that snap in the front.  They have a removable 'leash' that fits onto the back with a handle for parents to hold.  These are very controversial among parents, many who believe that they are demeaning 'leashes' used by lazy parents who do not want to make the effort to hold their toddler's hand.  There was an exposé a while back that suggested that parents looking obliviously in store windows may not notice as a child predator cuts the 'leash' and takes off with their child.  This reinforces the notion that parents who use harnesses are walking around in a listless oblivion as their leashed children run wild.

    Due to the controversy surrounding the harnesses, I was hesitant to get them.  We stand out enough already with four toddlers who are the same age.  I was not anxious to add controversy to the picture and listen to comments from outraged, misinformed parents.  My husband had been wanting to get them for a while but I was not ready to deal with the controversy.

Grayson and Capri on the Shuttle Bus


     I have not taken the Sugar Snaps out very often by myself since the quad stroller broke (unless it is in stores where I can put them in the shopping cart). Recently, I decided to take them to a local park where there is a contained playground.  I only needed to keep them safely on the path to and from the playground. That sounded really doable so I gave it a try.  They cooperated very well on the walk to the playground which was at the bottom of a hill with a path leading from where I parked the car to the playground.  I held two of their hands while the other two held hands in front of me.  It went off without a hitch.

     They played nicely at the playground where there were only two other toddlers and two grandmothers.  I started to feel confident that I could go places alone with the Sugar Snaps and keep them safe.  The time to leave arrived after they had been given sufficient warnings that we would be leaving soon.  Two were fine with it being time to go and two were not which would have been no problem if Greg were there and we used strollers to whisk them off amidst protest.   Instead, I held two of their hands (the ones who were protesting) and the other two walked hand in hand up the hill back to the car.  I opened the car doors and the four of them sat side by side in the grass next to the car.

Grayson loved Mickey Mouse.

     I loaded the first one into the car and then it happened.  Two ran full speed down the hill away from me before I could stop them.  One was in the car and one was on the grass.  The one on the grass said, "no boo boo cars" which is a catch phrase we have used to talk about sidewalk safety.  I instinctively knew that one would not run and bolted after the other two glancing repeatedly behind me.  I caught up to them and walked them briskly back up the hill towards the other two, my heart pounding inside my chest.  All the terrible things that could have happened raced through my mind as I told the two runners to 'never do that again.'  As I told them that, part of me was standing outside of myself realizing how silly I sounded trying to imprint this wisdom onto the minds of active two year old toddlers.

      As I drove home, adrenaline coursed through my veins.  After I got them safely inside, tears flowed as the magnitude of what could have happened sank in.  I called Greg in tears and told him I was never taking them out alone again (outside of a cart).  He gently reminded me of the option of harnesses and that my absolute answer was not the answer.  As our family trip to Disneyland approached, he picked up the harnesses which are animal 'backpacks', two dogs and two monkeys.

     As soon as the Sugar Snaps saw them, they were in love,  Miraculously, two loved the monkeys and two loved the dogs.  They could not wait to try them on.  Then, Greg took them on a walk around the block by himself.  They loved it and he loved it.  He was able to keep them safe and hold two of their hands as well.  Two preferred the freedom of not needing to hold hands.  Those who object think it is like walking a dog.  Dog lovers would say that they use leashes because it is the law and it keeps their dogs safe, not to demean them.  We put our children in child safety seats in the car to keep them safe, not to keep them tethered, the same reason that we use strollers.  Those who judge harnesses are simply misinformed and place a stereotype on them.  Toddlers actually love the backpacks and do not feel demeaned as some adults imagine.  I would much rather use a harness than be on the news because my child was run over by a car because I was too afraid to use them.

Waiting to see Mickey Mouse

     My first experience using them was at Disneyland.  Greg needed to carry two strollers onto the shuttle while I got all four on by myself.  The harnesses allowed me to do that safely.  Then, they came in handy while we stood in line for rides.  Sometimes we waited fifteen to twenty minutes in the sun and they were too squirmy to hold hands for that long and were tempted to duck under the railings.  The harnesses allowed us to keep them safe.  It is not feasible as an adult to duck under the railings and watch the other toddlers at the same time.  We got our first (and probably not our last) negative comment.

     It was from a woman who was also in line with her child.  Her daughter, about six or seven, noticed the harnesses.  She innocently asked, "what's that Mommy?"  Her mother responded in a scathing tone, "those are leeeeeeeeashes!"  I reminded myself that our children had no idea what she said or why and chose to say nothing for the sake of her child.  Reprimanding a mother in front of her child would be more harmful than helpful.  In my mind, I had all kinds of answers I chose not to utter.  She, with her one older child, was not in a position to judge us (nor would she be in the position to judge a parent of one active toddler.) No one likes to be judged.  We all care what other people think, as much as we may wish we didn't.  Otherwise, we might all run around in our pajamas all day because they are more comfortable.  I am sure we will be tried again in the court of public opinion, but the safety of our children outweighs attempts to please strangers.  What are your thoughts?  I'd love to hear from you.  As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Yogurt Bath

          Thanks to lots of inspiration from Pinterest and other bloggers, we have been adding food color to baths for a while, letting them choose the color each time.  I was going to give them some yogurt after their bath and then realized that would only cause them to need another bath.  So, I decided to combine the two and give them a 'yogurt bath.' 

They chose orange water and loved the yogurt bath

 and I loved that the yogurt was so easy to wash off.

After the yogurt was gone, they fed each other 'soup' and continued to play.

    Our every day routines can become just that--routine.  It is nice to shake things up and add a little fun.  The Sugar Snaps love it when any new element is introduced to their baths and I love to watch their reactions as their bath time turns into an adventure.  Have you experimented with different ways to make your children's routines more fun?  I'd love to read your stories in the comments.  Feel free to share links to your posts about adding fun to bath time (or any other routine).  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Hands Across Generations

     This past Mother's Day, we were lucky to celebrate with four generations of women: Capri, Me, my Mother and Grandmother.  We all share the same long fingers and family history.  I realize the light in the center of the picture is from a flashbulb, but I like to think of it as symbolic of our connection. 
    I won't buy a card for my Mom unless I feel tears sting the back of my eyes when I read it.  When I give her one of those cards, tears spring to her eyes as she reads it.
She looked beautiful holding her Mother's Day flowers.
     The Sugar Snaps love spending time with Grandma and Grandpa.  Xayden even had a nightmare when we returned home and sobbed "b'bye Grandma. b'bye Grandpa," in his sleep.  That made me wish even more that we lived closer to them.

Ryder enjoyed a book with Great Grandma.
     Have you done 'generations' photos with the men and women in your family?  Feel free to share your stories in the comments or leave links to your posts about family connections.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Daddy & Me Father's Day Footprints

     There is something about children's footprints that are so adorable.  I knew I wanted to do a Father's Day Craft using their footprints and possibly hand prints too.  I thought it would be cute to have them spell out the word 'Daddy' in footprints and hand prints.  I tried this with them.  We got a 'D' and a 'Y' and had several letters that did not make the cut.  They loved having their feet painted and giggled hysterically saying "it tickles" between fits of laughter.  I realized though that trying to make the perfect letters for Daddy was not fun any more for me and having them repeat footprints and hand prints over and over was not going to be fun for them either.  

     Given that I am sharing this post, I knew there was no way to keep it a secret from Daddy anyway.  So, I thought, why not involve Daddy?  He, like many Daddies is not usually involved in their art projects.  So, I simplified the idea and had them do Daddy and me foot prints which was far easier and way more fun.  It was amazing to them to see that Daddy can make footprints too.  It is a wonderful keepsake that we can display on Father's Day or frame it to display any day. 

Daddy & Me Footprints
          You will need:
  • Construction paper in color of your choice
  • Tempera paint in color of your choice
  • Paint Brush
  • Wipes or wet paper towels or a wash tub with soap and water

     After spending some time doing footprints, I would suggest having several sheets of the color of  your choice ready to go.  Paint the color onto your child's foot.  You can print them by having them either stand on their painted foot on the paper or by taking the paper with a backing such as a thick magazine and pressing it against their foot.  Toddlers tend to curl their toes in delight due to the feeling of the paint on their feet.  They also have a tough time putting weight on their foot at first because it is a strange feeling with the paint. 

     Some footprints will be unrecognizable smears on the paper.  I would suggest having your child make at least two that are recognizable footprints in case Daddy has a smeared one (because he's not used to making footprints either!)  It is a very simple project, but there is something about having a toddler or child's footprint next to Daddy's that tugs at the heartstrings.  

09 10