Thursday, February 28, 2013

Organizational Challenge Update #3

February 28th has arrived, which means my Organizational Challenge concludes today.  I came so, so close to finishing my list by the deadline: 19 projects completed and crossed off, two projects left to go.

The biggest project left to tackle is the backyard, and for a number of reasons I made a conscious decision to wait on backyard, shed, and patio-related projects until March.  First, it's been really windy this week, which has made it nearly impossible to control the leaves that have taken up residence on my patio.  Second, it's also been kind of cold this week, and while the cold doesn't both me, it bothers Hallie and I'm expecting her and Will to help me on this particular organizational project since much of the backyard mess is theirs (see the photos below).  And third, March will be all about getting the outside of the house and the yard into shape anyway, so it makes more sense to organize the patio and shed while we're also mowing, trimming, raking, digging, planting, etc. around the front and back yards.

The less difficult and more enjoyable - and yet somehow insurmountable - project left to tackle is getting a massage.  I really, really hope I'm able to find time for that project soon...

So, here's where things stand as of today, as well as what went down this week:

Day #1: Medicine cabinet
Day #2: Coat closet
Day #3: Under beds
Day #4: Laundry room
Day #5: Handbag/purse
Day #6: Under sinks
Day #7: Refrigerator/freezer
Day #8: Kitchen cabinets
Day #9: Make-up/toiletries
Day #10a: Bedroom closets (kids)
Day #10b: Bedroom closets (grown-ups)
Day #11: Garage
One of the things I miss most about Michigan is single-stream recycling
(when all of your recycling goes into one garbage can-like bin).  I refuse to
NOT recycle, but doing so is considerably more frustrating and time-consuming
when it has be sorted into so many categories.  To make the process easier I
bought small garbage cans and lined them up in the garage next to the door
into the house.  It's not a perfect system, but it does the job.
Paint, painting supplies, extra tiles, and extra
floorboards - basically house supplies - are stored together.
I don't have room in my kitchen cupboards for all of my
large, travel tupperwares (or Tom's beer-making supplies),
so these items are all stored together. 
Holiday decorations (and our weights, apparently) are stored together,
Christmas in the green bins and the other holidays in the blue bins.
I actually need to pick up at least one more bin sometime soon...
All of the toys and sports paraphenalia is stored together, and I keep the
items I'd prefer Will and Hallie not play with without supervision (darts,
Supersoaker water guns, roller skates) up a little higher. 
Tom and I hang our bikes to free up more floor space.
The boxes and bags on the floor are headed to Goodwill, but behind them (and
our garbage can and stroller) you can see our camping, cooler, fishing, and lawn
chair storage.  It would be nice if we had more time for camping, fishing, and
using our coolers and lawn chairs...  
Day #12: Craft supplies Bedside tables
I don't really have craft supplies so I tackled our bedside tables instead. This is what I
emptied out of one of my three drawers.  I'm not sure why I thought I needed an Ace
bandage, 17 bobby pins, scissors, and six different kinds of flashlights/reading lights in
that drawer.  Oh, and yes, that is my Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal, which I've had since I
was born, in the pile.  It used to "live" with Will's stuffed animals, but the day before I cleaned out these drawers he brought Pooh to me and said he was done "taking care of him". (?)
A glimpse into the freshly-organized second drawer where I keep my reading materials.
Next up on the reading list: The Witch's Daughter, The Lucky One, and Freakonomics.
And yes, that's Robert Pattinson making eye contact with you; I keep my official Twilight and Hunger Games guides in this drawer in case I ever need to, you know, refer back to them.
Day #13: Linen closet
Day #14: Backyard
Just one of the areas - under the wrought iron table and chairs where quite a few
broken toys attempt to hide in a pile of disgusting, wet leaves - in dire need of
organizing and cleaning on our patio.  
If you look closely, you'll see that the pile of leaves has been there for so long
that weeds are now growing in it.  Clearly we have a lot of work to do back here.
Thanks to this little digger, I found many of my kitchen tupperwares outside, 
covered/filled with mud.  They're not kitchen tupperwares anymore.
Day #15: Bedroom dressers
Day #16: Jewelry box
Day #17: Living room
Day #18: Attic/basement Entertainment/media centers
Our two media centers were completely out of control with video games and accessories
so I bought a couple of boxes (they're actually photo boxes) in which to store the Wiimotes,
nunchucks, steering wheels, and extra batteries.  This media center looks much better than it
did, and it'll look even better once I purchase two additional boxes to store the games in!
This media center mostly needed to be cleared out.  It looks more
organized than it did, which I feel good about, but I feel even better
about the fact that now all of the movies are in their correct cases!
Day #19: Car
Day #20: Playroom/den
We don't have an official mudroom (when you enter the house from
the garage the laundry room is on one side and a short hallway to the
playroom is on the other), so we set up what is affectionately known as
"the shoe thing" in the small hallway.  It's no mudroom, but at least the
kids have a place to put their shoes when they come inside.
Bins.  I love bins.  Especially bins with polka dots.  The top two
bins hold musical instruments and Playdoh and the bottom two bins
hold play food/kitchen tools and puppets.  I keep a few games and
puzzles out on the shelves, and periodically I swap what's on the
shelves for seemingly new games and puzzles from the closet.
Our playroom has a fantastic walk-in closet, where - surprise,
surprise - I store more games and toys in bins.  Tom's toys are
on the top shelf.
The closet houses the blocks, Legos, race cars and tracks, Hallie's karaoke
machine, the walking piano, extra art supplies, and general toy overflow.
Costumes are stored in the coffee table bins.  And yes, that's Hungry, Hungry Hippo on
the coffee table.  Did you know they still make that game?  They do, and it's still awesome.
The table still needs work.  I set up a little system on the table to keep the
coloring books, stickers, crayons, and markers organized, but the kids can't seem to understand the system.  I'm planning to implement a new system that involves a few wall shelves and bins - hung at their height - this spring.  
Day #21: Get a massage!

Whew!  Now that all that's done, here are a few of my (as in I use them - I'm sure I read about each of them somewhere at some point in time) organizing tips:

  • Whenever possible, follow the "one in, one out" strategy.  When you bring home a new pair of shoes, sell or donate a pair that hurt your feet, you no longer wear, or you don't absolutely love. (We all have a pair or two that fit one of those three descriptions, right?)  When you purchase a new board game, sell or donate a board game that your kids have outgrown.
  • On a schedule that works for your family, regularly sort through and pare down your kids' toys.  We - me, Will, and Hallie - tackle the toy build-up in Will and Hallie's rooms right before each of their birthdays (early April and early October) and in between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The goal is to avoid letting the toys get out of control, and periodically addressing the entire toy stash (we throw away anything broken, donate what the kids have outgrown, and reassemble/find the missing pieces for anything staying in the house) seems to do the trick.
  • On a related note, involve your family so that the job of keeping your home organized and clean doesn't fall entirely on your shoulders.  In our house, Will and Hallie are responsible for cleaning up their bedrooms and the playroom every evening, and on the weekends, they vacuum their bedrooms and the playroom and gather the trash.  They also clean out "the shoe thing", sort garage and backyard toys, and are responsible for the video games and accessories.   
  • Never leave a room empty-handed.  As you walking through the living room, pick up the pair of shoes that belong in your closet and take them with you as you head to your bedroom or bathroom.  As you walk out to the garage, take the recycling that's sitting on the kitchen counter with you and drop it in the bins as you pass by them on the way to your car.  I started this "chore" a few years ago and have been doing it for so long now that it's more of a habit and less of a chore.  And while I'm the only one in my house who does this naturally, I'm training my kids.  "Are you going to your room?  Why don't you take that stack of laundry with you.  Are you going to the playroom?  Please take those crayons back to the art table."  They rarely notice they're helping out when I'm able to tie the chore into whatever they were doing or wherever they were going already. 
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to schedule my massage!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What a Difference a Year Makes

The other day I noticed that the photo associated with my Google+ profile (which, for the record, I don't love, and while on I'm the subject, I didn't love that Google made me create a Google+ profile in order to continue my blog) was ridiculously out of date. The picture wasn't "old", as in taken years ago and kept up on the blog in an attempt to make readers think I'm younger than I am, but it certainly looked nothing like me.

Here's the picture I had been using, which was taken just over a year ago.

And here's the new picture, which was taken about a week ago.

I was born with blond hair and my blond locks stuck with me throughout childhood.  When my hair darkened to a horrendous dirty blond/light brown color (I'm not saying that dirty blond and/or light brown hair is horrendous - I'm just saying that MY natural hair color is horrendous) in my late teens/early 20's, I maintained the blond first with the help of my roommates and boxed hair dye and then with the help of professional colorists and their little tubes of hair color magic.

I went brunette for the first time in college, though I did so to remedy a roommate dye job gone bad and not because I wanted to.  The dark brown faded quickly, and I was happy when my blond hair returned  - thanks to the sun - after a summer spent working at the beach.

I went brunette for the second time right after Hallie was born.  It was time for a change, and since my hair wasn't yet long enough to cut it off and donate it, drastically changing the color was the next best thing.  This time I felt comfortable under my darker locks, but I still went back to blond when I once again visited my colorist again.

This time feels a little different.  I'm not sure if it's because the dark hair is what I have on top of my head right now, but when I look at the two pictures above, I think the bottom one looks like me and the top one looks like a stranger.

Perhaps I was meant to be a brunette all along.  (Which doesn't actually bode well for me, because I'm getting - thanks to Hallie - more and more gray hairs and as it turns out, gray hairs are much better hidden by blond hair.)

Interesting fact: I set up the camera for him, but Will took both of these pictures.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tom vs. Tree

Episode 2 in the "Tom vs." series (I'm not sure how Tom attacking tackling catastrophes and mishaps around the house turned into a series, but I've chosen not to ask questions that can't be answered and to just go with the blog-post flow) began when I heard Will, outside in the driveway with Tom and Hallie, yelling, "Yes! Good shot, Dad! Hit it again! Hit it harder!" I wasn't sure what I'd find when I walked out of the garage, and while I hoped Will's enthusiastic encouragement was sports-related, I couldn't rule out something far more dangerous. Like sword fighting with rakes. Or using the garden hose as a lasso. Sometimes it feels like only one adult lives in my house.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that the problem was relatively minor (at least in comparison to what went down with our toilet): Tom had thrown the Beamo - basically a huge Frisbee - into the tree and it had stayed there. But I sucked that sigh of relief right back in when I saw Tom attempting to dislodge the Beamo by hurling a metal baseball bat into the tree. Both kids were standing nearby, completely unaware of how badly getting hit on the head with a flying metal baseball bat would hurt, and Tom's car was one bad bounce on the driveway away from a broken window.
When the baseball bat didn't work (and after was a near miss with the car), Tom tied a rope to a baseball glove with the goal of throwing the glove through the Beamo, catching the edge of the glove on the Beamo, and then pulling the Beamo down. It was a good idea in theory, but the Beamo stayed put and we very nearly lost the glove to the tree as well.
According to Tom, the glove didn't work because it wasn't heavy enough. So what did he opt for next? A wrench. I immediately ushered Will and Hallie into the shelter of the garage, where I assumed they'd be safe from flying wrenches. (They were.)
The wrench actually worked quite well - it sailed through the center of the Beamo and caught on the edge, just like Tom had planned. And then he just pulled like crazy, until the Beamo basically popped out of the tree.
And just like when he successfully tackled the toilet, Tom struck his rockstar pose once again.
Give me a V 
Dot the I
Curl the T
Victory! (clap, clap, clap)
Victory! (clap, clap, clap)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hallie's New Roommate

I regularly hear two different screams coming from Hallie's mouth.

Scream #1, most often directed toward me and/or Will, pierces our eardrums whenever Hallie feels angry and frustrated. Scream #1 can be heard approximately 117 miles away, and generally lasts for what feels like - and is as painful as actually watching - a full episode of The Jersey Shore.

Scream #2, most often heard by Will (poor buddy - his ears have been through a lot), is premeditated and designed to coerce him into behaving as Hallie would like him to behave. Will gives in to these manipulative screams most of the time, presumably because doing so is considerably less time-consuming and results in fewer repercussions than negotiating and/or fighting with her.

Last week, as I was sitting down at my computer to pound out a blog post or two, a completely unfamiliar scream shattered the house-wide rest time silence. (For the record, "house-wide rest time silence" generally lasts for 11 minutes. I used to get between two and three solid hours of peace and quiet every afternoon, and now I consider myself lucky if I get 11 minutes.) This scream pulled me off the couch, because unlike screams #1 and #2, it was one of authentic terror.

Hallie and I nearly collided as I hurried toward and she burst out of her bedroom. Tears covered her cheeks and her breath caught in her throat as she pointed into her room and sputtered something that sounded like "wizard". We all know just how scary Harry Potter can be to an almost-four-year-old...

Have you figured out that this is yet another blog post about lizards?

I eventually coaxed the story out of Hallie. She went into her room, parked herself down on the floor in front of her dollhouse, and started arranging the dolls and furniture. Just as she was about to lay the mommy doll down on the couch (because the mommies she knows spend so much time lying on the couch), something in her dollhouse moved and she was shocked to find a good-sized (as in larger than the dolls) lizard lounging on the dollhouse living room rug.
Can you see the panic in the eyes of those dolls?
The next part of the story is best told through dialog.

Erin: Hallie, please stop screaming and go sit on the living room couch. Will, I need your help. Put on your big boy pants and come with me.
Will: Put on my what?
Erin: Just come with me.
Will: What are we doing?
Erin: Catching a lizard.
Will: Awwww, Mom, I hate lizards.
Erin: It's not possible that you hate them more than I do. And since your daddy's not home, you're going to man-up and help me.
Will: Fine.

Will and I enter Hallie's bedroom and I shut the door behind us.

Erin: Take Hallie's bath towel and wedge it under the bedroom door. I'll wedge her pajamas under the door to the closet, and then we're going to build a book barrier between the dollhouse and the bed. (The only thing worse than a lizard in my house is a lizard in my house that I can't find. My goal here was to contain the lizard within an area I could easily supervise.)
Will: Um, ok.
Erin: Crap, he's leaving the living room and heading into the kitchen.  Oops.  Don't say "crap", Will - it's a bad word. Ok, Will, your job is to keep an eye on the lizard - DON'T LET HIM OUT OF YOUR SIGHT - while I gather a few supplies.
Will: Got it.
My book barrier - clever, right?
I run through the house, grabbing buckets and tupperwares and construction paper and scotch tape and then return to Hallie's bedroom.

Will: Now what?
Erin: Will, look at me. This is very important. I will give, get, or buy you WHATEVER YOU WANT - in the whole wide world - if you will catch this lizard for me. Anything. AN.Y.THING.
Will: Really?
Erin: Really.
Will: Give me that bucket.

Will attempts to catch the lizard while I hyperventilate and guard the two foot space we couldn't block off with the book barrier. Unfortunately his best attempt catches only the lizard's tail, and I take over.

My lizard-catching style hasn't changed much since we moved to Texas.

Step 1: trap lizard under cup, bucket, or in this case, large tupperware container.

Step 2: perform calming, deep breathing exercises until heart rate slows.

Step 3: ease magazine cover, construction paper, or card stock under container.

Step 4: slowly push container - with lizard trapped inside - across floor to door.

Step 5: on the count of three and as Will opens door, pick up container using paper bottom and heave paper, tupperware, and lizard into yard.  Pray that paper, tupperware, and/or lizard don't hit passerby.

Step 6: slam door.

Step 7: cry a little.

This lizard evacuation was no different than any other, with the exception of the lizard's size; this buddy (when I call them "buddy" they seem less scary) was twice as big as our usual lizards. I was worried this lizard would somehow get out of the tupperware (as I was telling her this story, my friend Erin asked me, "Erin, you know lizards aren't strong enough to lift tupperwares, right?" I think she's right, but this Midwestern Girl couldn't be certain), so as I pushed and pulled the tupperware through the house to the door, I made Will sit on top of it and scoot along with me. I felt pretty confident the lizard wasn't going to escape with 44 pounds of kindergartener weighing down the enclosure.

The moral of this story is...well, there's no moral of this story. When it comes down to it, this blog is about life in Texas.  And since lizards share this great state with me, they deserve a little screen time if only because they're the universe's way to of allowing me to teach my children how important it is to face your fears.  And that it's perfectly acceptable to cry when you're scared.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekly Wrap-Up (2.22.13)

SNL Weekend Update
Last Saturday night, host Seth Meyers interviewed special guest, Olia Povlatsky, about how the meteorite that exploded over Russia last week had impacted life in her village. I rarely laugh out loud while watching television, especially when I'm alone, but this skit had me laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my cheeks. "Bear with me" and give this video a try.

Dude, Why Are You Not Watching This Video?!
For those of you who aren't familiar with blogs, they're set up in such a way that owners, if they so choose, can track how many people visit their site and how many people view each individual post. This feature provides interesting and valuable information; for instance, I've learned that all of you prefer posts in which I write about publicly embarrassing myself or having been publicly embarrassed by my children. You also seem to enjoy posts about my experiences in Texas, especially when they relate to long-standing Texas or TAMU traditions.

I happened to check my stats yesterday, and I noticed that very few of you have checked out the Dude Perfect video I posted earlier this week. There's no pressure of course, but if you missed the video the first time around and are looking for something to put a smile on your face today, take five minutes and watch stuntman extraordinaire Johnny Football prove why he's the rightful owner of a Heisman Trophy.

There are times when I find that a picture - or in this case, an ecard with a cute picture of a mother and her son as well as a clever saying on it - does a considerably better job of capturing the essence of my week than do nouns, adjective, and verbs joined together to create coherent sentences. This is one of those times.

Quote of the Week
When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down "happy".  They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life.

~ John Lennon

My goal for this week is NOT to be the parent I always imagined I would be - that ship sailed a LONG, LONG time ago - but to be happy, both inside and out.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Organizational Challenge Update #2

As one might expect, my progress slowed a little this week.  I was considerably less inspired than when I first began the challenge, and because Tom's crazy work week (his earliest night home was 12:30am) left me on my own with the kids 24/7, I had less and less "get-up-and-go" as the week spiraled out of control and dragged me along behind it.

I still crossed a few tasks - the kitchen cabinets, my make-up/toiletry drawers, the bedroom closets, the bedroom drawers, my jewelry drawers, and my car - off my master list though, and if my calculations are correct, I'm only six tasks away from my massage!

Day #1: Medicine cabinet
Day #2: Coat closet
Day #3: Under beds
Day #4: Laundry room
Day #5: Handbag/purse
Day #6: Under sinks
Day #7: Refrigerator/freezer
Day #8: Kitchen cabinets
Day #9: Make-up/toiletries
Make-up, organized by category (eyes, lips, etc.) in a plastic storage tray from Target.
Teeth care and hair supplies organized in a second storage tray.
Day #10a: Bedroom closets (kids)
Hallie and Will's closets have great built-in shelves, bars
placed at varied heights, and toy boxes that I absolutely LOVE.
These toy boxes great for large toy and stuffed animal storage and are 
on springs that prevent the lids from slamming down on little fingers.
(They're also a fantastic place to hide while playing hide-and-seek.)
Clothes that fit and are in season hang on the bottom bar. 
Clothes that are out of season or too big (or that I'd rather 
Hallie not ask to wear every day, like tutus) hang on the top 
bar.  Small toys like Little People, My Little Ponies, and 
dollclothes are stored in the pink fabric bins.
Nicer costumes (that I don't want shoved into the playroom
costume bins), winter wear, and shoes are stored on this side.
Pajamas that are too big or out of season are on the top shelf.
Purses, hats, a sweatshirt, and an apron (?)
hang on hooks at Hallie's height.
Hallie's jewelry box is only large enough to store one necklace OR one 
bracelet, so I hung hooks inside her closet so she could see and reach her choices.
Will's closet is laid out similarly, though his clothes storage is a bit different.  Will has very few clothes that hang and lots of clothes that fold so he has a big dresser and a relatively empty closet.  Hallie has very few clothes that fold and lots of clothes that hang so she has a small dresser and a full closet.  And sadly, there is one other difference between their closets...Will's smells like a boy lives there.

Day #10b: Bedroom closets (grown-ups)
I don't have a dresser, so all of my folded clothes 
are stored by category/season on this built-in shelf.  
Dresses, skirts, scarves, and belts.
At least a third of the clothes on this bar are "work clothes", as in jackets, blouses, 
and trousers (my grandma smiled down on me from heaven when I typed "blouses" 
and "trousers") I wore when I worked in an office.  I don't anticipate being back in an 
office anytime soon, but I thought I should hang on to the more timeless/classic pieces 
in case the unexpected happens. I hang my purses two-to-a-hanger on this bar as well.
I love these shoe storage racks.  In most cases, each pair gets its own cubby, 
though occasionally larger shoes each need their own square or two pair of 
smaller shoes - like flip flops - can share a square.  Again, I don't have 
dresser, so I keep my socks, underwear, swimsuits, etc. in the purple fabric bins.
An easy way to store scarves.
The division of the closet between me and Tom is uneven (I use 2/3 of the closet and he uses 1/3 of the closet) though not unfair - he makes up for using less closet space by taking up all six drawers of our one dresser.

On a related note, no, you can't see Tom's side of the closet.  I work SO HARD to keep his clothes neat and organized, but you'd never know it by looking.  When I'm not actively putting away laundry, gathering his dry cleaning, straightening his shelves, or putting away his shoes, I just try to ignore what's going on over on that side of the closet.

Day #11: Garage
Day #12: Craft supplies
Day #13: Linen closet
Day #14: Backyard
Day #15: Bedroom dressers
Day #16: Jewelry box
Our/Tom's dresser has two very shallow top drawers that I use for jewelry.
I don't love storing my jewelry this way, but the space is available and I'd
hate for it to go to waste.  I'm able to keep everything fairly well organized
using the same plastic storage trays that I use for my toiletries and make-up.
I also keep a few pieces of jewelry "on
display" on the bedroom wall near the dresser.
Day #17: Living room
Day #18: Attic/basement
Day #19: Car
It was disgusting how much crap - food, gum, wrappers, garbage, reusable bags,
toys, extra clothes, water bottles, umbrellas, weed killer, nail files, hand sanitizer,
headphones, my iPod (I'd been looking for that), and an ice scraper (as if I'll ever
need one of those here) - was in my car.  There's no need for an after photo,
because basically all I did was NOT put these things back into my car.
Day #20: Playroom/den
Day #21: Get a massage!

We're getting there, slowly but surely!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Little Boy Blue

Yesterday my little sister, Sara, and her husband, Jeff, welcomed their second child - a little boy to join their daughter, Lily - into the world.

Carter Shane received his name from both sides of his family: Carter is my mom's maiden name, and Shane is Jeff's middle name. Sara and Jeff created baby name brackets - similar to March Madness brackets - while Sara was pregnant with both of their kids so that family and friends could play along as the two of them narrowed their 64 name choices down to the final winner. I'm bragging only a little when I tell you that while I missed a few in the early rounds, I correctly selected Carter's first AND middle names. I'm expecting a fantastic prize...probably something like getting to potty train Lily the next time I visit Illinois.

Carter weighed in at 8 pounds 13 ounces and measured 21 inches long, which is kind of impressive given that he was born nearly two weeks early. The doctors wouldn't have let Sara go until 40 weeks anyway because she weighed 9 pounds 12 ounces when she was born and Jeff weighed like 17 pounds at birth. (I kid, I kid. Jeff was close to 11 pounds when he was born though, and a few years ago we got a kick out of the fact that at her four month check-up, Hallie finally reached her Uncle Jeff's birth weight. I tip my hat to Jeff's mom, Peggy.)

I've written before about how Lily is Sara's mini-me, and we really expected that this little boy would be the spitting image of his daddy, just to keep it fair, you know. And while we of course have no idea what Carter will look like when he gets older, right now he looks EXACTLY like Sara did as a newborn. Apparently her genes are freakishly strong. (Like Tom's - neither of my kids look anything like me.)

We expected Carter to arrive a few days early, by design but also because Lily was born 10 days early, but I wasn't counting on him making his entrance THIS many days early. I don't fly to Illinois until March 8th, and I'm certain that waiting until then to meet Carter is going to be downright painful. Not to mention the fact that part of my reason for going is to help Sara and Jeff by taking care of Lily, cleaning their house, doing their laundry, doing their grocery shopping, and making their meals, and by the time I get there they'll have probably completely figured out life with two kids and won't need me. 

I take that back - I still haven't figured out life with two kids and I've been working on it for four years.

Speaking of my rugrats, this morning I shared with them the news that they had a new cousin.

Erin: Will, do you remember how Aunt Sara had a baby in her tummy?
Will: Uh huh.
Erin: Well, the baby came out last night! You have a new baby cousin!
Will: He's a boy, right?
Erin: Yep.
Will: He and I are the only boys!
Erin: You're right! You'll have to teach him all sorts of things because you're the only other little boy in his family (Lily and Carter have two girl cousins on Jeff's side of the family).
Will: old is he again?

Erin: Hallie, do you remember how Aunt Sara had a baby in her tummy?
Hallie: I know.
Erin: Well, the baby came out last night! You have a new baby cousin!
Hallie: I know.  (Exits scene.)

Happy birthday, sweet Carter. Aunt Erin sends her love and can't wait to meet you and smother you with hugs and kisses. And Baby Lily, congratulations on becoming a big sister. I know that growing into this new role will be tough, but you're going to do wonderfully.