It’s Difficult Not to Compare Them

When the boys were tiny newborns, I made a decision to do my best not to compare them to Juliana. She was the baby that beat every milestone by weeks and even months. She slept through the night at 8 weeks old. She was the best baby in almost every way. The boys arrived as a pair and it was at least double the work those early months. If I hadn’t kept a notebook handy I would have no idea when they reached any of their milestones that first year – keeping track of one baby on minimal sleep is difficult enough, I would never remember two sets of milestones and which date belonged to which boy.

While comparing siblings is avoidable, it is nearly impossible not to compare the boys even though I try. They are both boys and they are the same age and they have the same basic routine – it’s easy to spot the differences.

When the second 12-weeks of Kindergarten started in December, the boys started to come home with sets of sight words (the, and, that, it, on, etc.). They are using a system of Rainbow Words where each set of words is a color and you move through the rainbow as you advance through each set.

The flash cards with the red words went back and forth to school for a few weeks and then suddenly something clicked with Wyatt. The red words were moved to his “words I know” ring and we were reviewing orange words each night. Within a week he came home with yellow words. At home he was asking to practice his words and when we were reading together he was interested in reading more of the pages. This was a huge change to the struggle that had been reading and homework.

Meanwhile Ruslan was still practicing his red words and it was a chore to get him to practice them or to sit and read with me. He also made this statement in reference to reading. “They have all of these games at school to make it seem like learning is fun; but they are tricking us, it isn’t fun.” The combination of these two things prompted me to email his Kindergarten teacher.  And of course I couldn’t help but mention one of my concerns – Wyatt is way ahead of Ruslan, does that mean that Ruslan is falling behind where he should be?

Much to my surprise, she replied that Ruslan is in the highest reading group in the class! She did agree that reading is not his favorite; math remains his true scholastic love. When we talked this week she told me that Ruslan will help the other students in his group with math and explain how to solve problems. He is loved by everyone in his class and is always the first student picked when they need to choose a partner.

Last night Ruslan was reading Green Eggs and Ham and when I walked in the room I heard counting instead of words – rather than read the words his preferred activity is counting a common element in a book. In this case he closed the book and yelled, the work “I” is in this book 96 times!

School, where success is measured in numbers, is going to be the biggest challenge when it comes to comparing them. I need to remind myself they have different strengths and weaknesses and let them learn at their own pace.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Two weeks ago I sat down to write a summary of 2014. As I started to think about everything that happened last year I realized that I never posted our Halloween story. So instead of an end of year summary, I give you Halloween 2014 in January 2015.


It started in the summer, Ruslan insisted that he was going to be “a Police” and wear the same costume as 2013. He still dressed in it on occasion and enjoyed wearing it to drive his police car. He was set that he would wear it again.

Juliana went back and forth on her choice and finally decided on Ana and my mom ordered a very fancy dress for her.

And then it happened, Wyatt decided that he wanted to be Star Lord and it snowballed from there. As soon as the Star Lord costume was ordered, Scott decided that he would be Groot and he would construct a costume. For weeks there was intense costume activity in our home.

It started with building a mannequin and a stand to hold it, followed by the outfit that all of the pieces were build on. There were many layers, lots of glue sticks and paint and more layers. It was quite the process. For most of October our living room included a daily evolving costume and for the final week it took over the garage. I was very happy when Halloween arrived. Scott ordered the mask and gloves and then heavily embellished to match the rest of the costume.

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Once the building process had started, Scott started convincing the other children to change their costumes. Juliana didn’t take much convincing and soon a Gamora costume had been ordered along with a long, dark wig.

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groot-gamora groot-starlordIt took weeks to convince Ruslan to give up on his police plans. Finally he agreed to be Rocket.


There were questions from the children – “what costume are you wearing?” Don’t worry I had a role in this production – I was a character wrangler. I kept children contained, adjusted Groot’s costume as necessary, carried extra flowers, and by the end of trick-or-treating I was carrying: Star Lord’s gloves and mask, Rocket’s gloves and mask, Gamora’s wig, a stick with lights from Groot’s costume and 2 bags of candy. I don’t think I could have handled all of that and a costume of my own.


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Christmas Penguin PJs – 2014 Family Edition

Continuing our tradition of special pjs for Christmas morning, there were new pjs again this year. When I found the perfect penguin pjs for Juliana I was thrilled and ordered 3 sets. Then I noticed that there was an adult version as well so I added that to my shopping cart. I was about to check-out when the men’s version appeared and I did a search for penguin pjs and found that there were matching men and boys pjs in darker blue so I ordered those for the boys instead. So this year, everyone had matching penguin pjs on Christmas morning. The kids were very excited that we matched and I love this year’s edition of penguin pjs.

These three before we opened presents Christmas morning.


The whole family and no photo shoot is complete without silly faces.

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2014 Family Photos

A few weeks ago we met our friend Michelle at a local park to take new family photos. We lucked out with a rare day of sunshine and warmer temperatures so we were able to reward smiles with a trip to the playground after photos.

This picture of the boys is one of my new favorite photos; I usually notice how different they look and in this one I see all of the similarities. This family photo would have been perfect if Ruslan wasn’t pulling me over – he wanted me to put my arm around him.

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We took a variety of family photos and individual photos and then they were off to the playground to enjoy the beautiful afternoon.

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Holiday Traditions

This weekend we checked off some of our normal Christmas week traditions. We went to the Mall to see Santa – the same Santa as previous years but they moved to a new section of the mall so the backdrop is different than our previous pictures. The kids were still dressed up from their school winter concert earlier that day.

santa-waiting santa2014They rode the Christmas train together and they are all getting a little too big for the train. Ruslan sat back, put up his feet, and relaxed during the slow train ride. Unlike previous years they did not ask to ride again.


Saturday afternoon we went to my parent’s house and we assembled and decorated gingerbread trees. Wyatt got bored with the decorating process but came back when I started to help.

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When we were done, they all had green and red tongues from the frosting and were pleased with their final creations.

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His Favorite Sleep Stories Have One Thing In Common


Most people call them dreams but Wyatt calls them sleep stories. Stories that happen while you are sleeping – Wyatt is very literal.

After months of sleeping all night every night and occasionally sleeping until 7:30 on the weekends, Wyatt started waking up at night again. Last week he was up 3 nights in . . . → Read More: His Favorite Sleep Stories Have One Thing In Common

Sometimes the Differences Jump Out

This year Juliana, Ruslan and Wyatt have a similar schedule – they get on the bus together each morning and come home together each afternoon, they play similar games, they watch a lot of the same shows, and they are all in that true “kid stage” of life (Kindergarten-4th grade). There lives are very similar despite . . . → Read More: Sometimes the Differences Jump Out

Sharing the Warmth

At 6:45 each weekday morning, I go into the boys room to get them ready for school and they are usually sound asleep. If they hear me come in the room, they borough deep under their blankets in the hopes that I will wake their brother first. Then one day I went into their . . . → Read More: Sharing the Warmth

Thanksgiving Mornings

Every year I procrastinate, where are we eating on Thanksgiving? There is never a clear answer because nothing feels right. It’s been 13 years since my Grandmother sold the house in Erie and I haven’t spent a Thanksgiving there in twenty years, but when I think of where I am supposed to be on . . . → Read More: Thanksgiving Mornings

It’s About Her – Why I Stopped Watching the NFL

At 1:00 today, I was prepping dinner and the kids were playing. The TV wasn’t on even though the Steelers game had just started. We stopped watching NFL games in our house this season. It’s refreshing to no longer plan our day around football. An hour of the game was spent at the park . . . → Read More: It’s About Her – Why I Stopped Watching the NFL