Thursday, March 10, 2011

Announcing our Next Adventure

The launch of our new website!!!!




**Please update your subscriptions and bookmarks!**

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Baby's Bonnet

(disclaimer: there will be a post about Ian coming very soon!)



My baby girl's bonnet is from an Etsy shop. For the life of me I can't remember the name... and can't find the email either.



We get compliments on it continuously.



I think it's just the pinnacle of girly-girl. I love playing with my boys, but I love dressing up my girl!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Congratulations to our Friends!

We congratulate and welcome Melanie Rose to the world! Our dear friends Mike & Kim entered the new parents club yesterday and we couldn't be more happy for them!

Can't wait to meet her!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My kids are pretty cool

I do complain about them a lot and I should be more careful about that. In the grand scheme of things, I have great kids. They are (mostly) well behaved, kind, loving, and very smart.

I guess it is just hard to be grateful for such good kids when they still know how to push my buttons and I'm operating on very little sleep.

But I'm trying.

I'm trying really hard to be smitten with my children even when my almost-four year old refuses to nap and the heaps on the I'm-so-tired-I-can't-see-straight attitude.

I'm trying to enjoy my seven month old even when she screams like a banshee to be picked up every fourteen seconds while I'm trying to cook dinner. And when she pulls those fine little hairs on the back of my neck.

I'm trying to be thankful even when my 2 year old throws himself to the floor in protest when it is time to leave the train table at the book store.

My kids really are wonderful. They don't run too far down the path in front of me. They don't get into things they shouldn't *very often. They can (and do) play by themselves. They do as told in stressful situations. They roll with the punches when we run out of chocolate syrup. I have it pretty easy, really. And I know that.

Sometimes I need to blog it to remind myself how nice our little (big?) family really is!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lollitops

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Lauren's Lollitops hat that I bought from Babysteals while she was still in-utero finally fits!

Babywearing


I'm not sure how mothers of babies get anything done without a carrier. I've worn each one of my babies and Roger has also worn each of them.

Playing Soccer with Lauren in the Ergo 2/11

When we only had Ian, we mainly used a borrowed Evenflo Snugli carrier. Occasionally we used a Playtex Hip Hammock. After I was pregnant with Aaron, but still wanting to wear Ian, a friend of mine recommended the Ergo Carrier. I'm so glad she did! It is, to date, the best carrier I've ever used.

Lauren in the Moby 09/10
The same friend (along with a couple of other girlfriends) gifted me a Moby Wrap after Aaron was born. It took a bit of practice and watching YouTube videos to learn how to use it correctly, but I grew to love the Moby for my infant(s). If it weren't for the slushy-slop & coat-wearing during a Pennsylvania winter, I'd use the Moby a lot more. It is just too complicated to tie during the winter here. It is a great carrier for newborns & infants. I've never had my back hurt while using it.




Aaron in the Moby at age 12 months 10/09


This past fall, I ran into another problem: I had a 3 1/2 year old, a 2 year old, and an infant. I needed something that was quick to accommodate a lot of in-and-out type errands. I snagged a Maya Ring Sling from Craig's List & it was great until Miss Lauren decided she needed to see things and so the Ergo came back into the picture.

Aaron in the backpack 05/10
I would call my babywearing with my third child extensive. I wear her every single day...even when we don't leave the house. On my back or on my front, it doesn't really matter. She's most content when she's snuggled up to me in the Ergo. I can wear her for long periods on outings to the zoo or museum, I can wear her for a short hop through the pharmacy. I wear her to paint, to cook, to clean, to play with Ian & Aaron.

Lauren in the Maya Ring Sling 08/10

Roger wearing Ian on a hike 05/09

I've become so dependent on the carrier now (two free hands, one for each preschooler to hold) that I'm not sure I could do an outing without wearing Lauren... unless, of course, Roger or my sister wants to wear her! And they do. Auntie Emily takes every opportunity to wear Lauren (And Aaron, and Ian) that she gets. Likewise, I've also worn both of her boys too. No bonding with an Aunt quite like being worn in a Moby or Ring Sling. It's a great way to live & love!

Aaron in the Moby facing out while hiking 07/09

I'm not sure how I arrived at such a babywearing way of life, but I'm glad I did.

Ian in the Snugli at the pumpkin patch 10/07


If you're interested in my recommendations for a baby carrier, here's my two cents:

For infants anywhere/anytime: Moby Wrap.
For infants in the winter in the North: Ring sling or Ergo. (Although Ergo isn't technically for infants unless you have the insert.)
If you want to breastfeed while wearing a baby: Maya Ring Sling
For older infants/heavier infants/toddlers: Ergo carrier
For backpaking: Kelty Kids
For gifting: Action Baby Carrier (based on reviews. I can't wait to try one! We gave one to friends recently & I hope they let me try it sometime!)

I do not recommend:
Playtex Hip Hammock (really hard on your neck.)
Baby Bjorn (for the money, there are much higher rated options.)

What I'd love to try:
Mei Tai (based on friends' opinions)
Beco Carrier (based on friends' opinions)

Click on the babywearing label on the right to see other posts I've written on the subject!

Sweet Aaron Says

Aaron was playing just now and I could hear him over the monitor.

He said, "And thank you for mommy who loves us so much. Thank you for daddy who loves us so much. Thank you for sister and thank you for brother who love me so much."

....

"You have to sing with us! You have to sing it! bye bye, I'm going to get a cake for you. From the store. A birthday cake. And a candle. You need to blow it out. It is chocolate."

...

"I'm back. Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you. Here's one piece. You have to eat it!"


What a sweet little guy.

I love him!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Posts

I have 3 new posts that need finished & published. I keep getting interrupted!

This week has been very busy. Last week was too. I hope that's not the new normal.

Tomorrow Ian goes to school at 9:00. Lauren has an ear check at the pediatrician at 9:30. Then Aaron has a lung check with the allergist at 4:10.

I need to get my dinner plan together right now. Yikes.

I just wanna relax on beach somewhere... or maybe just beside an indoor pool. Or something.

Monday, February 28, 2011

We went to Phipps Conservatory

Grandma loves the orchid show at Phipps so we took her there today! Aaron lost his mind 3/4 of the way through & cried the whole way home. Good grief!

It was horribly overcast today so I was using the Canon with the lightscoop & flash... the quality isn't super.
















Friday, February 25, 2011

Boy's Room: In Case You Were Wondering

We got the decals for the wall from Amazon. (Hat tip to our friend John for the Amazon gift card for Christmas! We also bought a new kitchen food scale to help us with our weight management. Thanks!)

They stick very well, even though our house has textured walls.

We bought the paint from Walmart for $7.99. I didn't even know walmart had their own line of paint, but they do! I read some reviews on it and, admittedly, it doesn't have the highest quality. It is manufactured under the ColorPlace label for Walmart by Sherwin Williams. Most reviews say that if you are willing to do a couple coats it will do just fine for you. We did 2 coats of the "Spring Garden" color. 

I think I spent $18 total for the letters & brown paint for their names (and Lauren's initials for her room.) 

So all in all, it was a pretty inexpensive way to jazz up the boys' space. We decided to go for it before we moved them together to try and make Ian feel excited about the move. New paint, wall decals, his name on the wall... all ways to show him he wasn't moving into Aaron's Room, but into a completely new room for both of them. Due to illnesses and baby-fussies, it ended up taking us a month to finish the project. I actually think that was really good, though, because it allowed the boys/all of us to get used to the changes gradually. We finished the painting over last weekend. The decals arrived yesterday (& I bought & painted the brown letters yesterday, too) so we pulled it all together before dinner last night with a big, exciting finish! Ian & Aaron helped move Ian's things (bed, dresser, books, etc.) over & it all went great!

They are both over the moon about the new space. For less than $50, I'd say that's a major win. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Boys' Room

**UPDATE**
They slept all night. Somehow, Ian went to bed without his blankie and raggie, though, so when he heard Roger leaving this morning, he realize he didn't have them and came out to get them. It was too late by the time I caught up with him... Aaron was awake too. So we got up at 6:00. I know that's not horrible, but it is a full hour earlier than we usually get up. So today is going to be a long day. Now to figure out how naptime is going to work...

**UPDATEI** 
Roger put the boys to bed at 9:30. At 10:15 he emailed me from the bedroom, where the monitor is, to tell me there nothing but silence. Too sleeping tots up in there! I know it will not always go so well, but  the first bedtime together was a success! Praise the Lord!

At some point, I will hopefully replace these pictures with non-phone-camera pictures. It cost us a grand total of $33 for the paint & decals. The walls are green, though you can't really tell in the pictures. When Ian is ready for a bigger bed, we'll probably do bunk beds and change it up a little again, but right now, the boys are pretty excited about their new digs.

Since tonight's the night, though, I figured I'd put the photos up to commemorate the occasion... hopefully it isn't a disaster.










Sneak Peek


I'll be back to blogging next week, hopefully! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Casserole

Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Casserole 
- 6 English Muffins, torn into 1 in. pieces *I used a knife and cut them. So much easier than tearing.
- 1 cup half & half
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar *I cut back on the sugar a little, it was too sweet for me the 1st time.
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tart apple, peeled and sliced
- 2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces (best cut when frozen)


Butter the bottom of an 8" x 8" casserole, and scatter half of the English muffin pieces on the bottom. Place half of the apple slices over the muffin pieces. Whip together the half & half, eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, spices and pumpkin puree in a small bowl. Pour half of the pumpkin cream mixture over the apples and muffins. Repeat the process, layering muffin pieces and apple slices, then covering them with the remaining pumpkin cream. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of sugar and the butter pieces. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour at 350ยบ F, or refrigerate overnight and bake before serving.
Serve warm.

NOTES:


This recipe is from my friend Joanna Masters. We've both made it a couple of times and determined it needs a little extra liquid. I usually just add extra milk (we use 2% most of the time.) I've also made it a couple times with day old bread. It's still VERY good. And once I omitted the apple and it was STILL very good! I usually do it the night before and let it soak in the fridge until morning, then pop it into a cold oven and add a few minutes to the baking time. 


the * notes in the recipe are Joanna's notes. 


Let me know what you think if you make it. 


Also, I do realize it's very funny for me to pull a recipe out of the coffers because I'm not feeling super, but wanted to blog something! Maybe I should make some Breakfast Casserole to help me feel better? 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When mama gets sick

I know my posts this week have been lackluster.

I've have been overcome by  the crud that the rest of the family has been fighting. I resisted long and hard, but tonight, my face feels like I got kicked my a horse & I'm coughing.

So I'll be back to more meaningful posts soon, I hope!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oliver's Labels



My sister introduced me to Oliver's Labels at the beginning of the school year. We were both looking for an alternative to hand writing with permanent marker. Since Ian hands most of his clothes, especially outerwear, down to Aaron, I was looking for a way to uniquely label our things so we could use them for multiple children.

My favorite are the shoe labels. They are stuck like cement in the kiddos' shoes!

If something gets lost? The person who finds it will log on to Oliver's website & they will, in turn, let me know that our lost item was found*.

*We haven't lost anything lately, so it is my hope that this would actually work.

Here's the link to shop through my page. I will also put it in the side bar as soon as I remember how.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First time on the swings



At Frick Park's Blue Slide Playground on 2/13/11

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fell Asleep at the Table!

If you know the Vandervort kids, you probably know that they never sleep.

Ok, maybe that's not true, but what is true is that our kids rarely fall asleep anywhere but in their beds. It doesn't usually matter how tired, how much running, how late, etc. They just aren't the kind of kids to lay their weary heads down and just sleep.

We had a surprise visit from Emily & Adam & co. today. We went to 2 playgrounds (outdoor until we got cold, then to the indoor one) and they boys played straight through naptime. After we were done playing we went next door and had lunch/dinner. Neither Isaac, nor Ian, nor Aaron, nor Asher misbehaved at dinner. They sat nice and ate well. As Aaron was finishing up his meal, I kept looking at him thinking, man, he looks tired! He was holding his own, but then literally before our eyes he started to sway. I asked Roger to pick him up because I was afraid he was going to hit his head on the table.

He absolutely, 100 percent fell asleep in his high chair sitting at a restaurant. 

Hilarious! And pathetic!

I wish I had snapped a picture of the rare occasion. 

That is how hard they played today!

I can't wait until spring/summer & the daytripping with the cousins the warmer weather will bring!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mom's Weekend Morning Out- Coca Cafe

Lauren & I went for breakfast this morning with some girlfriends to Coca Cafe in Lawrenceville. It was tasty. The service wasn't fabulous.

I had almond french toast with lemon cream sauce and berries. And some almond coffee drink that was really good. And a side of bacon. Always have to have bacon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Change 3 Things

Who is with me? When you accept the challenge (by liking their facebook page) post on their wall and tell them I sent you! (*Just for fun... I don't get anything from them at all. I just think it's a cool challenge that anybody with kids in diapers can do!)

Change3Things

More Info from CottonBabies

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Memberships

Our Pittsburgh Children's Museum membership is expiring  next month and I'm starting to think about what we should do for next year.

We always have a zoo membership. It is hands-down the best value membership for a family with young children in Pittsburgh. It is free to park, you can take your own food/lunch, it opens early, it has playgrounds, it isn't so big that you can't get through the whole thing before naptime, there's lots of shade. It's great. We even go in the winter when it isn't bitter cold. We had a zoo membership before we had kids!

I like the Children's Museum, but it isn't a great 1-on-3 outing. I just don't feel comfortable going there by myself with the kids anymore... too many nooks, crannies, exits, etc. And Aaron has gotten hurt there every single time we have gone. So I'm thinking that we probably should not renew a membership to somewhere that I don't like going by myself.

My Little Outback or other indoor playgrounds. We won't buy a membership there, but we do buy the day passes in bulk.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh? National Aviary? Phipps Conservatory? We've been members at each of these places previously, but should we switch back?

I prefer places that have only one entrance to the play area and not a lot of "visual blockage" in the middle. (Obviously that's so I can keep track of the boys even when they're running in different directions.) I like places you can take your own food and snacks. I like places with free or very cheap parking.

What are your favorite memberships? Where do you consider your best-value memberships?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Morning in This Life

Last week the mom of one of Ian's classmates told me that if she could ever help me to let her know. It was a kind offer. It is a good thing it was also a genuine offer. Today I took her up on it... (and she probably regrets having made the offer!)

Let me just run you through our morning.

6:55- Roger left for work. It woke Ian, who proceeded to wake Aaron. So we were up before the alarm.
7:05- I realized it snowed overnight & after checking, find Ian's school delayed to 10am start. Normally not a big deal, but today Aaron had his ENT post-op check-up, so now I'm going to have to take 3 kids to the doctor's office.
7:15 I remember that Ian's soccer starts today and is supposed to be from 11:30-12:15. Call Savannah's mom to find out what they're doing about soccer...she calls me back to tell me it is from 12:00-12:45.
8:45 Get everyone's coats, shoes, backpacks, etc. and buckle kids into car.
8:55 Turn van key. It doesn't start. Oh Crap. not today, Lord!!!

  • call Roger to alert him of the situation and ask him to call ENT to cancel/reschedule since we're going to be late at the very best
  • call AAA
  • call Savannah's mom to ask if she can take Ian to school, since he is a puddle of tears on the garage floor over missing school & soccer.
  • call mechanic to tell him we'll be stopping by (he's my friend's dad so he takes good care of us & knows we have 3 little ones & don't like to be without a vehicle...)
  • call my dad/mom to gripe.
  • call sister to gripe
  • get phone call from AAA telling me they are "delayed"
9:50 Send Ian off with Savannah for the very first time ever with someone other than me, Roger, or Papa... (Savannah's mom did call me when she got home to tell me he was fine at school.)

10:30 Still waiting on AAA.
11:00 Still waiting on AAA.
11:15 AAA finally rolls up and determines our brand new in October battery is deader than a doornail. He jumps us & recommends I don't turn the van off again until I'm at the mechanic.
11:30 Arrive at mechanic... he had already ordered the new battery & we were waiting for the supply store to deliver it. In the meantime he took the old battery out... and the clock ticks on... 
12:10 I remind him I have to pick Ian up from school at 12:45. He reassures me that the battery is on its way. And the clock ticks on.
12:25 I call Savannah's mom and ask her to make sure Ian is safe & accounted for because I'm literally a hostage at the mechanic (with Aaron...thank God for iPhone games and Lauren...thank God for boobs.) and won't be able to make it back to pick Ian up. The shop is at least 15 min from school.
12:30 The battery arrives & is installed. 
12:35 I take off down the road to get Ian.
1:10 We finally arrive home for a very late lunch.

Total drama. Thank Goodness for Savannah's mom. My head hurts. Why did we need another new battery? Why did it happen today with all the crap that was already going on and not tomorrow (or yesterday) when I had no place we had to be? I should also mention that Savannah's brother Dylan got sick at school today & Michelle had to go pick him up. While she was still looking after Ian. So she had to drag two 3.5 year olds in with her to pick up her son from the nurse's office. Total insanity. 

*sigh* 

It is seriously never a dull moment around here. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What are we going to do when...

Lauren is old enough to want to play the iPhone too?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meringue Cookies


I needed a sweet bite today amidst sick babies and running to the doctor during naptime. I saw these cookies on My Bakingdom a few days ago and really wanted to try making them. We didn't have raspberry extract so I used vanilla. They were pretty easy to make...and to pipe it, since I don't have a large enough star tip, I used a plain circle. They aren't as pretty as the originals, but they are tasty!

Isn't he cute?

Oh one other thing happened. Aaron had a crazy asthma attack after only an hour of baking and we had to go to the doctor's office in a hurry. I decided to just switch off the oven and leave the cookies inside...and hope for the best. Good move! We returned 3 hours later to almost completely cooled pans of perfectly baked cookies.


Someday I will make the raspberry chocolate ones. These are delicious, too!