Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Home for the Holidays: Dinosaurs in Space

Though I thought I'd be working this week, my inability to read a calendar means babysitters are all lined up for next week... When the kids are back in school.

Yesterday we took down decorations so we can head to Houston later this week with no to do list back home.

Today was a surprise day off and we've taken advantage by inventing the funnest of afternoons.

We've built a spaceship to take us to the moon where we're searching for the elusive human-eating black whale! He naps almost all the time until he smells humans and that wakes him up!

Zayd designed almost all of this so far and was pretty territorial at the beginning. By the end, they were an astronaut duo protecting stegosaurs in space. He even let her make zig-zags on his space ship. (Zig-zags are apparently the most offensive of shapes when you feel you've mastered all the letters and numbers.) And Zahra got to commandeer a few solo missions as well. The best news is that Zahra now feels that she wants to be an astronaut when she grows up (her only other answer ever had been "leopard").

He even said, "I don't want another brother or sister, I just want you." Welp, fear not kids. This baby won't be your peer for years to come. Then you can tell me what a disappointment the "baby" is. :)

Now we're of to the library to get some books on the moon. Happy holidays to everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Little Announcement

It's Christmas Eve and I have the most fun things planned for tomorrow. But first, I should probably let my tiny blogosphere in on some news.

Yep, there's an onion sized little Z3 mama's cooking up right now. 

It's been so long! I'm a full 17 weeks along and happily into my fourth month. You've missed lots of nausea, and the grossness that comes with it. I'm just about emerging out the other side. (Fingers crossed.) The little lemon is approximately 5" long and should be just beginning to hear all of the joy and chaos going on in our little Mammen clan.

People always ask if the kids know. I think that's so silly, OF COURSE. They were the second and third biggest advocates of third baby for a full six months (except our silent partner Ella). And they've known and largely kept the secret for nearly as long!

We're all super excited and June 2nd will be here before you know it.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Zahra turns 3, and everything looks different

One week ago, my little lolly turned three. We did it up big, if I do say so myself. She has been so excited for her birthday for about a month. Normally, she isn't going to talk to strangers, especially males, but throughout November she was willing to tell nearly anyone that her third birthday would be December 10th. It started, at first, like "tenff", but wouldn't you know that she had mastered the word in a few days.

And now, she is three. So, so three. I know nothing has really changed but she seems bigger, taller, smarter, sassier than ever. I think she really felt loved and special on her birthday which makes my heart sing. (Me-me-meeee. <- It's an inside joke with my sweet littles, in case they ever read all of this.)

To celebrate her birthday, we kicked off the day with neighbor brunch with only six little kids - the bigs are really growing up! We served homemade waffles and eggs per Zahra's request. The kids and daddy headed to the zoo  whilue Mommy snuck in a few hours at work. :( We ordered amazing Italian food (noodles!) in for Zahras birthday dinner and opened her three gifts: Baymax action figure with a baymax shirt, a new baby Dahlia with tan skin and big eyes, and the I Am Amelia Earhart book. I can't describe how adorable she was to watch while we sang to her. She was just beaming and amazed. Filled with wonder, I'd say.

Here is Zahra wrapping up day one of her birthday celebration.

The next morning we woke early to make something like 70 sprinkle pancake pops for school. We headed in to do Zahra's walk around the sun and celebrate with her classmates and her (new!) best friend Danuli.

Zahra wanted a Frozen party but I am a mean mommy and we settled on a Karaoke party where she could sing Let It Go into a microphone and dress up like a rockstar (if not a princess). I know the whole princess thing is coming, but I am going to hold it off just a couple more months. As long as its princesses and scientists, I think we will be fine.

And a special shot-out to Joe Joe for not only attending Zahra's third birthday but for bringing the world's most amazing Elsa pinata. My kids are lucky to be so loved by so many. And Sam and I are so lucky for the support.

Here she is for scale!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Zahra's Last Day as a Two

Yesterday we talked a lot about Zahra's last night as a two year old. I figured she deserves a video where she hasn't just finished behaving badly.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Zahra the Artist

Well, Zahra strikes again. She has changed so much these past three months.

 And incase you have been missing the original naughty Zahra video...have at it.


Saturday, November 21, 2015


After reaching about $20 in chore money, we were headed to Target again today. The kids are pretty stoked with their purchases and they saved money for next trip!

The kids can now fold some laundry, put dishes away, put their own clothes away and put shirts on hangers. That's such a bonus and a help to mom. Getting to add a math lesson to all of it just makes it one of my favorite days of the month too.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Signs of growth

Lately, it seems like there's too much to post and no time to do it. When they were babies, they were learning to do new things every week and that created ample need for posting and photos. Nowadays, they are learning to think in new ways, learning to problem solve, and learning how to be people. It's harder to capture but maybe more fun to live.

I think I've mentioned that Zahra has learned the art of "why". Now, it goes like this: (Note: This is at or fourth store in an attempt to find a Christmas snow globe that makes music that isn't $50. The kids were dying for one and my mom loves snow globes so I found the whole idea very sentimental... until I couldn't find one.)

Zahra: Why aren't we getting a snowglub? (Snow globe, though she would say snow glove exactly the same way. Luckily, we don't need snow gloves, so there's no confusion.)
Me: Because they don't have any.
Zahra: Why don't they have any?
Me: I guess they didn't know we need one.
Zahra: Why don't they know?
Me: I'm not sure, Zahra.
Zahra: Why don't *you* know?
Me: I really... I don't even... I have no idea.
Zahra: Why not?
Me: Want to go check another store???

We did eventually find that globe. Thank you very much, TJ Maxx. Also, I should give a special thanks to the Z's for not wanting the nativity scene snow globe. We dodged that bullet. They are loving all these babies (Jesus) and princesses (Angels) in the Christmas decoration aisles. " Look, Zayd! (Disbelief) ANOTHER baby!" I wonder what the normal Christmas shoppers are thinking. I'm guessing it involves the words "reason" and "season". But whatever, we three Mammen's can barely contain our Christmas glee and we haven't even put away all of our Halloween decorations.

Now, let's talk Zayd. He wants things. All the things. All the time. He is becoming a shopaholic. If given the choice of any game or show on the tablet, he wants to watch people open new toys on YouTube. Then add them to his list. His whatever list: birthday (March), Eid (September?) Christmas, he names them all everyday.
Last week, he wanted something and frankly I can't remember what. He threw a tantrum in the car. It was a full blocks-flying, scream-laden (" you are being ridiculous! ", he says), temper tantrum the likes of which we has never experienced. Zahra maybe, but not Zayd. When we got home, I carried him straight inside to the guest bed, took off his shoes, and left him in the guest bed. He was asleep within five minutes even though he rarely ever naps anymore. When he woke up, all was forgiven for me. He had been tired, he acted out, but he woke up sweet and that's all I require. Before setting out on some adventure, I told him we needed to clean up the toys on the bunk bed.

Me: Which toys do you want to clean: animals or superheros?
Zayd: Um, mom, can I apologize for something first?
Me: Of course, Zayd.
Zayd: I'm sorry I yelled and had a tantrum in the car.
Me: (Heart melts, maybe I shed a single tear.)
We had a good talk. I couldn't have been more proud. Heck, I'm prone to temper tantrums too, and I have rarely handled them with that much grace.

And lastly, today when I picked up Zayd from school, he seemed fine then burst into tears in the car. His best friend had said he wasn't his best friend anymore. My first thought was, " Oh! I read how to handle this... What'd it say??? " I went with, that would hurt my feelings too, and asked if he talked with the little boy about it. We ended up back on the playground, where Zayd called his friend over "Can I talk to you?"..."You hurt my feelings today." And the little boy didn't miss a beat, he ruffled Zayd's hair (the boy version of a hug?) and said, "OK, let's be friends." OK. Zayd confirmed he felt better and I told him how proud I was. I say this all of the time, but the Zayd I knew a year ago has grown and changed so much it's startling at times. I don't know if it was just meant to be, that's how time handles things? I believe it's some magic combination of school and play therapy that has helped him develop the confidence he needs to proceed through life. He can get his needs met and maybe more impressively, he can recognize his needs. That's no small task when you're four. Every time we come to one of these thresholds and emerge out the other side, I breathe a sigh of relief and marvel at the amazing young boy in my life. He's not the easiest kid for honing your mothering skills on, but somehow it's working out!

Monday, November 2, 2015

So many chiefs...

Here is an actual conversation heard from my backseat a few weeks ago:

Z2: (Screaming) Turn up the music!!!!!!!!!

(I continue to ignore her lest I scream at her "Talk to me nicely!" Ha ha.)

Z1: Zahra, relax! You aren't going to get what you want if you yell at mommy.
      Mommy, please turn up the music.

(I turn up music)

Z1: See, Zahra, you just have to ask nicely.
       Now, say it with me, "When you're really mad...


Z1: You have to do it with me, Zahra, or it won't work. "When you're really mad,

Z1&2: "...and you wanna roar. Take a deep breath, and count to four: 1, 2, 3, 4."

(Calmness pervades the back seat.)

Me: Zayd, that was great.

Z1: I know. I keep telling you I should be in charge.

Mic drop.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Restored by Light

Tonight my lucky family and some great friends got to head out to Mission Concepción for the unveiling of Restored by Light, an art/light projection to reveal what the mission looked like nearly 300 years ago. This is all leading up to the UNESCO world heritage site designation tomorrow. It all makes me pretty proud of this cute little town I call home.

Zahra and I enjoyed the San Antonio Chorale Music (Group?) perform a delightful concert in the church and the acoustics were amazing, even after all these years!

There kids had an amazing/daring/awesome time climbing up huge rocks, then roaring like leopards and caracals on ask fours backs arched. Then they (both!) lept to their feet, just like the wild cats they're convinced they are.

I didn't get many photos, but here's a couple.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Day Built By Z's

After spending a few busy, lovely yet lonely days working in Ottawa, I s very happy to return home to my Z's. Promptly upon returning, however, I was off to a breast cancer fundraiser at the San Antonio Country Club. Very snazzy, I know! To make it up to the kids I promised them that we would do whatever they wanted on Sunday. They took the to heart and made a very long list.
  1. Go on a safari
  2. Go to chuck e cheese
  3. Eat chips
  4. Get a drive through carwash
  5. Don't watch football

We had to give up on "kids rule the day" around 3pm because mommy couldn't take much more but first, we accomplished all of this:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kiddie Park... For my Kids

The lentil and lolly can run circles around Kiddie Park these days.

It went so fast. They were once too small or scared for most of it. Or maybe I was. I can't remember. Babydom with both of them was a bit of a blur. But this trip, I could have been one of "those moms" who sit in the shade and play on my phone while my kids fly from the boats to the trains, to the rickety old Ferris wheel.

Truthfully their favorite is the arcade and they still don't require money. (Babies!) Maybe they don't know the machines take money? Either way, they think they're getting the full experience just jostling the joystick around.

When Zayd wanted to ride the spinning spaceships, I told him he couldn't. It says small children must ride with an adult or older child. I can't possibly ride with both of them! But the operator assured me they can ride together. What!? I thought Zayd needed a chaperone. It never donned on me that he could BE the chaperone. But, it turns out, he can. He did. They LOVED it.

Siclovia 2015

After a great four days in the land of sugar, we rushed home Saturday night to get back to the grind. We had about one million things to do this Sunday. It was overwhelming, frankly. Daddy was out playing with his new fun toy, an old school motorcycle he's tinkering with, and I was busy making lists of lists of things to do.

But me and the Z's made time for one of San Antonio's near city events: Siclovia. When they make it so convenient by shutting down the actual street we drive every single day, we need to show up. And it was worth every minute. I really have to put effort into teaching my kids to ride their bikes. We are always outside but we're strollering because... this ain't the suburbs. Anyway, siclovia is the urban solution to preschoolers who can't ride bikes. :)

Also, do yourself a favor and watch these little chickadees practicing their kickboxing. I assure you they had no urging from me. They just started participating when the beat stated bumping. https://youtu.be/nxeZwusM2lk

During Siclovia I felt somehow proud of my San Antonio-ness. Look at me! I left my favorite city (Houston) and this is wonderful! And worth it! I love it here! My kids are San Antonians! Really. All those thoughts. I was having a moment, apparently.

Then, it happened. We were home by 12:30 to watch our Texans win their first game of the season. #webelieved But, the Texans weren't playing in San Antonio. The Cowboys were the twelve o'clock game in San Antonio. What the what?!?! We made the wrong choice! Nothing is worth this! I hate this place! Ha ha ha. I really have to laugh about the whole thing.

But, fear not. My amazing husband let me drive his luxurious car around loop 410 to listen to the whole fourth quarter. And it was great. And we won. And I returned home having achieved the perfect balance of Houstonian loving and living it up in San Antonio.

An awesome Houston weekend