Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lil Max goes Bowling

This weekend we participated in the Beastly Bowlathon a fundraiser for the Zoological Society of Milwaukee (where I also happen to work...).  It was little Max's FIRST time bowling.  He did pretty good...see for yourself...

Of course, he really only 'bowled' a few frames before he lost interest.  He was actually much more fascinated with the ball return and the buttons that you push to reset the pins (sorry Amanda...he didn't mean to push it...).  I bowled the first game with Sam in the Beco.  That was quite a workout!!  And I was already sore from an hour-long yoga class I had attended that morning.  Needless to say, I did not wear Sam for the next two games...

After the first game, lil Max opted to sit back and watch us bowl while he ate his snack.  Then, he won the door prize!  Which resulted in the adoption of a new stuffed animal swan, whom he promptly named "Flopsy".

And, thanks to my awesome co-worker, Kristin -- who took Max under her wing (no pun intended flopsy) and let lil Max bowl with her for the entire 3rd game.  I think the two of them still beat me...and I couldn't blame it on my baby-wearing I guess I'll just have to admit that I am a bad bowler...LOL.

All in all, it was a fun day.  The kiddos were wiped out by all the excitement, and we learned for future reference that if we do choose to go bowling game is all we need...  :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sometimes you have to just learn to pick your fights...

If it won't hurt's not.worth fighting over.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Historical Moments in WI

If you don't know what's going on in WI right now, you are probably living under a rock (or you should be).

Right now historical things are happening in WI.  Hundreds of THOUSANDS of people are gathering in Madison, WI to rally against proposed changes to state employee benefits and restrictions to collective bargaining rights.  They have been mostly peaceful protests -- demonstrating how a true democracy actually works.  There are sneaky politics to be had on BOTH sides of the table -- Republicans rushing to get a vote off, Democrats fleeing the state...

No matter which side you are 'on' for this debate, there are a few things that are quite un-debatable: 
1) the proposed changes affect people's LIVES and their LIVELIHOODS;
2) the proposed changes will affect YOU -- even if you are not a state worker
3) life is not fair and you should not compare yourself to your neighbor to gauge the fairness of life;
4) our state (as most other states) is in a budget deficit (note I did not say crisis);
5) the moments that are happening now will define our future -- one way or the other

Honestly, I have mixed thoughts on the whole ordeal.  The whole thing is very confusing, very polarizing and very sad -- because ultimately -- it affects people's LIVES.  It's not just about raising taxes or finding ways to cover deficits in budgets.  It is about making changes to benefits and income and the future of those positions.  There are parts of what is going on that I agree with and parts I definitely disagree with.  I don't think this is a black and white issue for me -- but that is how it has been portrayed by most of the popular media.  I think much of what has happened, thus far, has been dirty politics at its best, for both sides.

Over the past week my Facebook feed has been punctuated with status updates, photos, videos and links to articles about the happenings in Madison.  I have many friends on both sides of the debate.  It has been interesting to watch things unfold and see what people have to say or share.

It has  been entertaining to see the various signs that have surfaced during the rallies.  Here are the 100 best protest signs.

These are historical moments that will shape our future; we are lucky to be protected to by the First Amendment to share our thoughts and speak our minds on issues we disagree with.  THIS, is what democracy IS all about.

What are your thoughts?

Friday, February 18, 2011

10 Months!

Sam is 10 MONTHS already, can you believe it???  I certainly can't...

We're still not very mobile...although we can scoot a little front and back and around and around and around and around.... He actually scoots more in a sitting position than in a belly position....silly child.

Doc isn't worried about lack of mobility, especially since he's been sitting unassisted since 6 months.  Apparently, crawling isn't even considered a milestone anymore because so many babies skip it altogether.

I certainly don't mind that I can still set him in one place and come back a few minutes later and find him in the same spot.  I have another (older) child.  I know what mobility brings...I am not stupid.  Plus, now we have all these other OLDER toys around....childproofing takes on a WHOLE new meaning with 2 kids...  And, despite this sweet smile on his face, this child is going to be trouble...and he knows it!  He's a McLaughlin, after all..... (and, as you can see from that small bruise on his forehead...we can still manage to bonk or not...).

This is the launching position for the butt scoot.  Funny...we  had Max knee-walker and now it appears we might have Sam butt-scooter...

Ah well, it makes them unique and individuals, right?  Plus...they are both pretty darn CUTE if you ask me...and of course we shouldn't take my bias into consideration...

But, also don't forget the awesome DANCE moves....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Look, Mom!

Tonight I had the good fortune of doing bedtime all by myself.  It's really not that hard to do, but it is always nicer to have another set of hands on deck to make sure kids aren't getting into trouble....

Tonight after everyone was scrubbed and bathed and PJ'd up, I told little Max to play quietly in his room while I nursed Sam and put him to bed.  Like a good little boy, he told me "yes, Mom!"

Five minutes into rocking with Sam and I heard a little pitter patter of feet in the hallway.  Then, Sam's door quietly opened.  In the shadows I saw a little person emerge in the doorway, wearing a Santa Claus hat.  "Look Mom," Max whispered, "I'm Santa Claus!!!"  He was SO PROUD of himself.  I tried not to giggle and wake up Sam and whispered back "you're so silly, Santa Claus.  Please go play in your room." 

Little Max turned around and left, gently closing the door behind him.

A minute later the door creaked open again.  Santa Claus emerged again carrying a hammer and a bean bag.  "Look, Mom.  I'm a working Santa Claus" he whispered as he pretended to hammer the bean bag.  "OK, Max" I replied.  "Please go play in your room."

Another minute later and I see a beam of light coming down the hallway and into the room.  Then it was shining right in my face.  "Look Mom, it's my flashlight!" Max whispered. "Yes, Max. I see your flashlight.  Please don't shine it in my face.  Please go play in your room." I replied.  "OK, Mom" Max said as he pitter pattered back to his room.

30 seconds later he re-appeared in the doorway with his glow stick.  "Look Mom, my glow stick!  It flashes" he said as he turned it from on to 'strobe on' and the room danced like a disco on a Saturday night.  "Max!  Please go play in your room" I pleaded.  Thankful that Sam had not stirred in my arms yet.  Max ran back out of the room.

2 more minutes passed by.  I thought we were in the clear.  I started rocking and patting Sam when all of a sudden I heard little footsteps in the hallway.  Uh, oh, I thought.

"Look Mom, I'm dancing!" Little Max exclaimed as he came into Sam's room rocking his body like Stevie Wonder to some imaginary beat.  A giggle finally escaped my lips but Sam was already conked out on my shoulder.  "Go on, silly boy!" I told him.  "Go dance in your room.  I'll be right there."

Silly child.  I have to give him credit.  He wasn't disturbing in the loud manner he normally is when he wants attention.  And, it was all pretty silly and in good humor.  He's such a good kid.  I love getting to have these moments.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


It finally warmed up enough today to make the powdery and fluffy snow outside wet enough to be good snow to make a snowman.  So, as soon as nap time was over, everyone bundled up to go outside.

Despite the warmer temps, there was still plenty of snow on the ground.  Little Max bravely ventured out into the yard following daddy.

 Big Max had already gotten 'the ball rolling.'  (I am hilarious, I know).

Then there was a slight delay as little Max got stuck in the snow...

But luckily, Daddy was there to help him out. 

The boys got to work on building their masterpiece...

Sam even came along for the ride... (again, hilarious).

Look at this happy little munchkin!  Still smiling despite having a little sickness.

Daddy and Max put on the finishing touches...

Didn't they do a great job?

Hi, Mr. Snowman! 

Valentine's Day Crafties

We were super busy this Valentine's Day.  And only because I decided we HAD to try all these crafties, and then, of course, I left them all to the last minute.  In my defense, baking always SHOULD be left to the last minute because then it tastes better.  But, perhaps my lesson learned is that I should pick less labor intensive crafties when I have a 3 year old helper...

For Max's school Valentine's Day party, we made Heart-Shaped Rice Krispie Treat Lollipops.  These are GOOD.  I know this because we had left over rice krispie treats that I dipped in chocolate to 'test'.  Mom's always got to make sure of quality control....

Despite all the steps, these were SUPER easy.

1.  Make Rice Krispie treats and spread them on a rimmed baking sheet
2.  Take heart shaped cookie cutter (or I suppose you could do it by hand, but I wanted mine pretty uniform).  Cut as many heart shaped treats as you need.
3.  Insert lollipop stick into bottom of treat while still partly warm (will be easier to insert it this way).
4.  Let cool/set.  Nap time worked well to accomplish this (just keep them covered or in a sealed container so they don't get too hard or brittle).
5.  Melt white or dark chocolate (you could color the white chocolate too if you wanted to get even more crafty).  We used Wilton Melting chocolates because I wanted to use up the ones we had left over from the holidays.
6.  Dip hearts in chocolate or use a spoon to spread chocolate on one surface.

7. Let 3 year old sprinkle the tops of the treats -- I let him do them one at a time on a wax-paper lined rimmed baking sheet. This way, I can periodically lift the wax paper and slide the sprinkles back into the bowl, and the rim keeps sprinkles from getting all over your floor.

8. Let the chocolate set.

9. You could then just pack them up in a container and call it a day. But I am craftier than that, and had heart-decorated lollipop bags I put mine in. Not necessary, but very cute! :) See for yourself!

We also made contact paper heart stained glass this weekend.  This one was almost a fail when I couldn't find the clear contact paper (a causality of 'cleaning' and 're-organizing'.  But I found it eventually, and have re-organized it in a more logical spot now.

This craft was equally easy.  I pre-cut a bunch of various sized hearts out of extra scrap paper.  Then, I gave Max and Sam a sheet of contact paper with the sticky side up and told them to go to town.  Sam required a bit of supervision because he really like to eat the hearts and also he got upset when they got stuck to the paper...  I told Max he could put them anyway he wanted but he put his all facing upwards and all facing one direction.  :)  Then you just take another sheet of contact paper and 'seal' the hearts in.  I use double-sided tape to  hang them on the windows.  They look pretty on a sunny day (and not late at night when I remembered to take a picture). 

A word of caution -- the bigger the sheet of contact paper, the harder it is to put the 'sealing' sheet on.  Max requested to do this craft a second time on Saturday, so I gave him a smaller sheet.  Then, I cut the 'sealing' sheet into a heart shape and laid that on top of his decorated sheet.  I used the heart shaped sheet as a guide to cut the entire piece of art into a heart.  I like the way this looks better, personally....

Heart-shaped crayons.  Another SUPER easy craft.  I think I first saw this in a magazine (Family Fun, perhaps?).  Anyways all you need for this is:  crayon pieces (use all the broken crayons that accumulate...a GREAT way to get rid of and clean out your art box!), a silicon heart shaped tray and an oven.  I found my heart shaped tray (labelled as an ice cube tray) in the dollar spot at Target a few years ago.  It has been invaluable -- I've used it for bath bombs, soaps and now crayons!

Take the bits of crayons and  make sure you take off all the paper.  Break into smaller pieces if necessary.  Put into the silicone heart molds.  You don't need to fill the holes all the way up -- we filled ours up about halfway.

Heat oven to about 275F.  Set mold in oven (I put mine on a baking sheet) for about 10-15 mins, or until crayons have melted.  Take out and let set.  Once they have cooled and set, you should be able to just pop them right out of the mold!

I put mine in clear little gift bags and attached Max's valentines for his classmates to the crayons.  We had a few extra, so I tried one out.  They work pretty well!   And, super easy for little hands to grab.

What did YOU do for Valentine's Day?  Any fun and easy crafties to share?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sam 9 months (a little late)

Can you believe it?  Sam is 9 MONTHS OLD.  Well, actually, he is closer to ten at the time I am writing this, but these pictures are from when he was closer to nine.  I can't believe how FAST the months have gone by.  I remember them going by quickly while little Max was growing up, but now, with two children to keep track of and a busy life and job, it seems like it is going EVEN FASTER...if that is even possible.

Sam is so similar to little Max in so many ways, and yet so different in so many others.  I know I shouldn't compare the two kids...and I really don't most of the time...but when I do, I love seeing what one kid does versus the other.  I used to wonder how I would find love in my heart for another child...worried that I wouldn't be able to love that child as much as my first know, all the hormonal worries that go through your head while you are pregnant.  You second guess every decision you make, worry that you are scarring your kids for life, etc.  Well, I'll tell you what -- no matter WHAT decision we make, I suppose we are *scarring* them in one way or the other.  Just ask them again when they're adults...

But, back to Max and Sam.  I wouldn't call them polar opposites by any means, but I would say that I do LOVE the things that make them different.  Where Max was all about pulling and pinching and tugging, Sam is gentle and soft (not all of the time, of course).  Where Max loved his colors and order, Sam loves music and dancing and making lots of noise with toys.  Where Max was reluctant trying new foods and getting the hang of solids, Sam has gone full force into eating table scraps before the ripe old age of 9 months.  Where Max was all about being independent and went anti-snuggle at this age, Sam seems to savor the snuggling.  It is THESE differences that make me love them BOTH SO MUCH, and so DIFFERENTLY and yet so EQUALLY.

And, of course, there is always a little bit of me (OK, a BIG bit of me) that LOVES that Sam looks much more like his momma at this point in his life (because Max looked so much like his dadda).

This child is full of personality and love for life.  He is inquisitive and loves to WATCH and STUDY how things happen, work, evolve.  He is the 'observer' of the family.  He is also quite a comedian...and often does things to get reactions out of other people...but most especially little Max, whom he adores with all his heart.

Every day that goes by, a little bit more of his personality comes out.  And every bit that is revealed to us is so precious and special.    He really is a great kid.  So mellow and yet so full of life. 

I love going through all the early stages of life with him again -- where literally everything and ANYTHING amazes him and FLOORS him. 

Just like little Max, Sam is PERFECT.  I mean, really!  He is special and wonderful and perfect.

So at 9 1/2 months, here is where Sam is at:

Weight = 19 lbs 9 oz (35%)
Height = 28 1/2 inches (60%)
Head Circ = 46 cm (75%)

Let me just say that I am SO surprised that Sam was not over 20 lbs already.  Especially given the way the kid eats!!  It also really surprised me to look back and see that he is only 3 oz heavier than little Max was at this age (although his stats were taken closer to 10 months than 9).  He is also 0.5 inches shorter than little Max..  Again, just interesting to compare.

Eating:  loves every food he's ever tried.  Hasn't really turned anything away yet.  Eating mostly table foods and purees only occasionally.  Drinking mostly from a sippy cup -- at home always, at daycare he sometimes still gets a bottle.  Loves using utensils and can self feed with a spoon or fork if the food is put on the utensil first. 

Talking:  babbling like crazy.  Says mama and dada and baba.  Tries to sound out and imitate words when we say them to him.  Loves to squeal to get attention.

Signing:  we haven't been nearly as avid about teaching Sam signs as we were with Max, and yet he has learned them earlier!  Signs 'milk' and 'more'.  Loves clapping his hands.  We're working on waving goodbye.

Moving:  nothing really to report here, but definitely nothing to be concerned about.  He scoots around in circles on his belly and can move himself backwards.  We're still working on forward movement and getting him to stay up on his hands and knees, which gets him pretty frustrated and pissed off, which just makes me laugh....  He can stand holding onto an object, but not alone -- no cruising yet, but that is not unusual given that he's not crawling yet. 

Loves/Hates:  LOVES it when little Max cries -- like he will stop whatever he is doing and start smiling and laughing at little Max while he cries.  LOVES playing with Max and trying to steal open mouthed kisses from Max or Mom or Dad.  HATES loud noises or yelling.  LOVES banging on toys that make noise -- drums, pianos, etc.  LOVES spoons -- seriously.  He likes to carry one around with him.  LOVES bath time and splashing.  HATES not having food fed to him fast enough for his liking...i.e. you better have that next spoonful ready!  LOVES animals -- but most especially his kitty cat and his pup-pup who almost always elicit squeals and smiles and shouts of joy when they move into his eyesight.  LOVES music - dances any time anything resembling music is turned on.  LOVES books and turning pages.

Sleeping:  Goes down around 6:30 - 7 and wakes up around 6:00 - 7.  Occasionally we have a wake up around 5-5:30, but quickly popping back in his Nuk usually does the trick.  Most mornings if he gets up at 6, I nurse him and lay him back down and he will fall back asleep allowing us to get ready for work in the meantime.  But, even if that trick doesn't work, he is usually happy to just chill in his crib playing peek-a-boo with his blanket, talking to the elephants on his wall, or playing with his aquarium.  The child is very mellow and doesn't get worked up very easily.  Thank goodness!

Games:  Loves playing peek-a-boo.  Loves singing songs, dancing to music, giving and getting kisses, very ticklish -- but especially on his upper thighs, neck crease, armpits and belly.  This week he and I played ball on the kitchen floor and he was actually pretty accurate rolling the ball back to me!

Teeth:  None yet, but you can see that he's starting to work on the bottom ones.  They aren't ready to emerge yet -- probably another month or so yet.  Max didn't get his first tooth until a few days before his first birthday, so this doesn't surprise me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

An Interview with Little Max

Here's the latest interview we did with Little Max. He was in a goofy mood this night, but that just makes it that much cuter. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

2011 Trip to FL - Friday - Ft Myers Beach and Pier

Our last full day in FL, and even though it was misty and foggy and overcast, we decided we needed to visit the beach ONE.LAST.TIME.  So, we drove to Ft. Myers beach and pier hoping that the fog would lift.  It didn't, and luckily we made it back to the car before it down poured....

We had a nice lunch on the pier, walked to the end of the pier and were treated to dolphins frolicking in the surf.  We were also treated to dolphins when we were at Wiggins Pass...they got closer on that beach, but it was a nice treat to see us off!

Max, Sam and I took a walk down the beach while Little Max and Granna and Grumps made sand castles...

Sam and I enjoyed some nice snuggles...

We even got to see some nature along the way...but mostly it was just foggy and misty...

Then we just chilled out on the blanket until the sky looked foreboding and rushed back to the car.  We did Sam's 9 month photo shoot on the be posted soon, I promise!  :)

2011 Trip to FL - Thursday - Sanibel/Captiva

Sanibel/Captiva hold a special place in my heart because I have vacationed there a number of times with my parents growing up.  Sanibel and Captiva are just a bridge ride away from Ft. Myers and offer miles of spotless white sand beaches, and nature and wildlife galore.  It truly is a paradise.  It also is home to the Hungry Heron -- a delicious restaurant that serves all you can eat shrimp.  When my parents asked us what we wanted to do during our vacation, it was one of our few requests to go there for some shrimp.  The coconut shrimp is THAT GOOD.

Every morning after he woke up, little Max asked to go to the beach.  Weather permitting, we were willing to accommodate him.  The weather forecast showed Thursday as having the best weather for the week, so this was the day we planned to do the islands.  We were not disappointed by the weather.  It was PERFECT.

Little Max and Grumps go for a little jog on the beach...

Look at this little cutie!  A little surfer boy in the making! 

Making sand castles is a MUST, and he enjoyed playing in the sand and building 'lots of things'.

Max and I found him a pinwheel at Target and it was the perfect addition to the beach toy bag. 

My parents were even good enough to make sure that we got some relaxation in.

Sam had to test the water out on this beach as well...  The waves were very interesting to him..

But they also startled him a little bit...and the water was a bit chilly (60 degrees).

He much preferred to scope out the water situation from the safety of Mom's arms.

Little Max, on the other hand, was not afraid of the water at ALL.  Running in and out of the surf, playing in the waves.  My little water baby (although he was just like Sam at Sam's age...I think both these boys are going to be water lovers).

Max also kept declaring.  I LOVE the sand, Mom.  And he demonstrated his love by trying to hug the sand, roll in it and sleep on it.  The child was COVERED in sand.  But, he was in heaven.  And that is ALL that matters.

Sam really enjoyed the sand as well!

After cleaning up the sand that was all over us, we went and ate at the Hungry Heron and then continued on to the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.  We had originally thought we would bike the trail, but the kids were pretty tired so we just decided to do the driving tour instead.

We saw roseate spoonbills...none of them would look up so I could get a head shot, unfortunately...

White pelicans...

Don't you just wish you could see the tops of those trees across the water to see what kind of bird was flapping around up there?

Lucky you that we have this camera!  Check out the osprey!  And yes, it zoomed THAT FAR.

Osprey in flight.  We also witnessed it dive down and catch a fish.  The fish was too big, though and it couldn't get it out of the water!

It was a long but EXCITING day.  Fun was had by ALL.