25 January 2014

Dry Erase Chore Charts on the cheap!

So, I'm a big fan of dry erase everything. I spent most of Yesterday dreaming up the ideal chore chart and thanks to Pinterest, I was able to print a few printables, cut and paste them together and create exactly what was in my head. I bought cheap 8x10 ($5 ea at the WalMarts) and stuck each one to some scrap book paper. I may change up the backgrounds to match whatever roo. We hang them in, so I used temporary tape to make them easy to change around!

15 January 2014


Disney Magic.

I am sitting in the couch while the girls watch Snow White. Well, they're not really watching it. They just play while it's on in the background.

Snow White is such a strange movie.

Her voice is just incredibly high and crazy. She sounds kind of like Deanna Durbin, but she doesn't have to sing with a teenage Mickey Rooney. Win win.

The Prince has a voice that sounds a lot like Ricky Ricardo when he first approaches Snow White at the wishing well. Babbalooooo!!!

Seven dwarves. I don't even know. It seems wrong that the dwarves work in mines. Just because the tunnels can be smaller? There must be a union somewhere that has a problem with that.

How does she get the squirrels to wash dishes when I can't even get my six year old to put her underwear in the laundry basket?

Glass casket. Yipes. When I die I definitely want to go out like that.

Snow White got super lucky. Imagine finding a little cottage and then finding out it's occupied by seven diamonds miners. Score!

Like I said. Weird.

14 January 2014

Tuesday morning, back to bed.

It's a rare morning that the boys are still asleep when Andrew and his eldest girl leave the house. Molly and Claire scrambled off to play in their room so I thought I'd take the five minutes to say good morning.

I have a meeting today with my parish mom's group and then we'll be home to finish up some sewing and wait for Lucy to get off the bus. I have another meeting tonight and then my obligations are fully met until the end of the week. It looks like it's going to be a great week to play outside, so we'll be spending our afternoons in the winter sun.

There is nothing nicer than coming back to bed to find that your flannel sheets are still warm. Oh heavens. Andrew and I went to bed at 7:30 last night. We didn't go to sleep. About once a week we bring our phones to bed super early and chat while we waste time and just enjoy our warm bed. Last night Andrew taught me how to use FlipBoard and then played with some camera app while I played a game and finished my kindle book. And we nuzzled our toes together and giggled about things. Well, I giggled. He chuckled.

Some nights we have a plan and we may watch a movie or something, but it seems like most nights in recent memory I just need to let myself drift in the evenings. The five little ones are an immense joy, and I find that my days are so fun and full, but they require a huge amount of physical energy, mental energy and good, old-fashioned patience. At the end of the day, I'm really ready to just find a cozy spot and let my tired body rest.

Today will be long, but there is nothing I can't accomplish with Jesus and a ton of caffeine. :-) One hour til we leave the house. My makeup is on, so all I have to do is change three diapers, do hair on three females, dress five bodies, feed the dog, find five pairs of shoes, pack the diaper bag, feed the boys and clear the toys out of the driveway. I should also leave fifteen minutes early so that I can vacuum the car on the way.


13 January 2014

More Claire...

Can't remember if I blogged this one or not... definitely blogworthy (which is a new word according to Swype on my phone...)

She was swinging from the baby gate so ferociously that it fell down and quickly ended her, uh, praise/prayer/telling :-)



Mollys in binoculars may be closer than they appear!!! :-)


Eagle Mountain Eight Go Mobile

On Sunday, the eagle mtn eight went mobile to Murphy to visit Uncle Brian, Aunt Kathleen, Alison, Jackie, JB and Roxie! It was a lot less exciting than it looks.... Stone was really really really well behaved. We even stopped for food, distributed and ate in the car and no one, well, died :-)

On the way home we had a little issue with Stone sitting on Claire but that was resolved quickly enough. Great trip and so happy the BK Cookes are so close! Roxie and Stone played famously together out back. BK were even brave enough to let Stone come inside for a bit!!! (I had them sign a liability waiver first lol)


Being Molly.

From Cymera

MMA Mondays

11 January 2014

Swinging and Screaming

Finally warn enough to let those piggies out again! Shoes be damned, that's why we moved to Texas!


Our bedroom is across from the nursery. I love being so close to my guys and still having two walls between us. But perhaps the best part of the arrangement is that they love to play in their room together with the door shut. It's then that they most remind me of two tiny Andrews. They just play quietly, looking up to laugh at each other once in awhile, so content to be lost in thought. They can entertain themselves for what seems like hours, so happy to be together in their little world. After their nap, I pick them up out of their cribs and set them on the floor to spend a little time among their toys. They babble and giggle and scream happily, the best of friends. It's then that I can take a tiny break, lying in my bed and listening to the sounds of my happy boys. When they are ready too come out into the house, they crawl to the nursery door and bang on it with their fat little hands, laughing like crazy at the noise. What did I do to deserve two such contented babies?

Andrew is outside taking down the Christmas lights and the girls are running around outside and eating popsicles. I had a five-hour meeting this morning and am fried, so I thought I'd take a little break to listen to the boys and check in.

Having 13-month-old twins is awesome. They are so fun and they keep me so busy.

Max is still has a flair for the dramatic. He plays hard, he laughs hard, he cries hard. He's 0 to 60 in a second and has a passion for climbing. I don't knew if all adrenaline junkies start this young, but I see all the ER nurses knowing his name in the future.

Miles is still our little engineer, always studying and examining. He's smart as a whip and is so interested in how things work. He mastered cars and trucks at about ten months and has been working hard to figure out how to open all the little doors on his Fisher price popper toy. He loves puzzles and is already a master problem solver. He's patient and cheerful and is always happy to make his own fun. He's not the party animal his brother is, but he's a terribly devoted sidekick and is always game for anything Max cooks up.

Miles is starting to walk, Max has no time for figuring out how all that walking business works. Faster to just crawl there and get on with the thrills. Miles has 8 teeth and is a happy teether, Max has four and swallows his food whole anyway. Miles sleeps through the night, Max often wakes up to yell for a few minutes before he finishes his night of sleep. Max loves buttons and remotes, Miles loves wheels. Max loves getting a reaction from the dog, Miles likes to sit next to him and study his face. Miles likes to see all the markers in the box, Max likes to suck the color out of the marker tip. Miles likes to watch the chain on the baby swing, Max likes underdogs.

"A New Hope" indeed!!!!

It's the second day the girls have asked to watch Star Wars. Granted I had to entice them with those adorable Ewoks, which they call the "cute little bears", but I think there is indeed New Hope for the Cooke Empire! ANYTHING other that Tinker Bell and Dora! Lucy followed some Skywalker family storylines and even quoted Yoda!!!!


07 January 2014

Into everything.

"Babyproofing" would be a gross misrepresentation of what I am doing around here. "Max-proofing" takes this to an entirely new level.

Lucy's New Year Resolution

Scene: three little girls playing with play doh.

Claire: I want that one!

Lucy: no, you don't.

Claire: I want it!

Lucy: you think you want it, but you have to really want it. If you really wanted it, you'd be crying right now.

Claire: oh.

Lucy: mom, will you tell Claire that she can't play with this one?

Mom: I don't think she understands how to party the game you're playing. She's only two.

Claire: hey! I'm four!

05 January 2014

2013 Recap!

This was the fastest, most blessed year ever. I probably wrote that last year too but who cares! We started 2013 with a beautiful and patient 5 year old, an inquisitive 3 year old, an adorably chubby 1 year old and two handsome young (2 week old) baby boys. I'm going to do this recap a little lazily in Cooke Years (2013) and Quarters (Q1-4) because, well, I'm writing it and not Laura :-) 

In my defense, this would've been online late 12/31/2013 but the internet @ the house was down. Honestly. So it had to wait until this weekend while the whole family is surviving a holiday bug and I get a spare minute. Recap contains quarterly text of what-went-down and a couple of the award winning (lol) photos from each quarter. Enjoy. We certainly did. - Andrew aka Loverboy aka Daddy.

Starting 2013.......

Jan - Mar (CY13Q1)

  • Molly Rose, aka Poppers, turned four
  • Laura's reflection after receipt of a few months worth of public interface with a suddenly much larger troop. I quote, "But what the big family haters don't know is that at the end of the day, I'm completely drunk on cuteness, kisses, cuddles, laughter and joy. You've gotta drink more than a couple to get drunk, right?"
  • Trying to figure out how to tell the difference between the boys. Name bracelets, color of clothes (Miles/Green) and ultimately, for most of 2013Q1, a sharpie X on Max's hands/feet. 
  • Bedroom juggling as we figure out how to fit seven bodies (and Stone) comfortably into this humble home! We moved those girls around so much (and they were so patient) that it was truly "musical bedrooms" and that doesn't account for the nights where it didn't matter where we planned to have them sleep - they found us anyways!
  • Late nights, or early mornings, depending on how you look at it. However, how could you complain with these little guys.
  • Oh, and Laura's "HEY GIRL" photos of the boys. She's so funny.
Winter baking! 

Apr - Jun (CY13Q2)
  • Lucy and Claire turned 6 and 2 respectively in May. Woohoo!!!

  • Claire has been absolutely the joy of our lives Q3-Q4. She is talking up a storm, singing "Alleluia!" at the top of lungs, etc. She is also OBSESSED with her godmother, Charlotte (and her family). In fact, I'm pretty sure she disowned the Cookes in Q3, Q4. She LIVED to see her godmother every Sunday at Mass. Of course, you would too if she gave you presents and donuts every Sunday! :-) More on Claire in Q4.
  • Aunt Brooke and Cousin Rachael visit and have a lovely time! The girls just ADORED cousin Rachael who "looked just like them" (with her pretty red hair).
  • Lucy finishes up the 2nd half of Kindergarten and generally, her writing and reading are going well. She comes home daily with drawings/writings and conversation that just crack us up like this one (Skiing) that was typical at least weekly.
  • April arrives and we finally blog about the Christmas of 2012 (Yes, if you're wondering if that represents the craziness of the first 4 months of twins + 3, it's pretty accurate)
  • We renovated the family room floor in April, well, started in April, pretty sure that project spread into May... Anyways, Laura found this tutorial about how to re-do your floors with brown paper bags and polyurethane. It was a cost-saving method as well as we wanted the floors to be wipeable (lots of spit-up, diaper changing), and stay cool all summer. The results were decent! It was labor intensive but turned out fairly well. It's not "holding up" to the test of 14 feet daily, Stone and toys w/ sharp edges as well as we'd like but there are area-carpets for that :-)
  • And again, in April, perhaps coming out of the 4- month blur, we blogged about the boys' birth (more photos) and the girls get more hands (or tongues-on) the boys!
  • May is Mothers Day (reading in bed, day at the park). I'm pretty sure this is the 3rd Mothers Day in a row where it's tradition to let Mommy sleep in, read a good book and whenever she's ready, we all head to a neighborhood park to kill the afternoon/early evening!
  • A rainy day dampened the 2nd Annual Easter Egg Hunt @ the Cookes but some brave souls still made it! Lucy and Molly discovered cascarones (the Mexican tradition of breaking eggs with confetti on their heads). THAT was exciting!
  • In this Q2, in our "down time" (aka occasional naps where all 5 lined up lol) Daddy discovered Assassins Creed video games and Mommy discovered Pinterest. Needless to say... we didn't blog much but life has been generally fantastic.
  • Laura turned... well, let's just say she "had a birthday" :-) She summarized in a blog as, "I've been 30 for one week. I haven't slept much since turning 30. I should have bought into the sleep training two weeks ago. Then I could just start my thirties off right, with five children who know what's up. As it happens, I'm a terrible planner. Andrew and Dog are in the family room attempting to sleep. I doubt they're getting much of it, but I have it on good authority that he took a couple Tylenol PM (Andrew, not Dog) and that may help. No sense in two of us wandering around like zombies tomorrow."
  • Despite generally well-behaved kids all day & night, sleep has been a recurring challenge in 2013... Q1 certainly and even into late Q2. 
  • In June, Laura experiments with Jazzercise (which she liked and lasted into Q3 a little) and occasional binding (which was generally disliked, I think, but useful in-a-bind lol... I had to) to see if she can get some form back to her middle. She looks amazing. Always has, always will. Two twins >6# each and not a stretch mark on her 5 months later. If anyone knew they'd be mad jealous & flabbergast... well, guess ya do now!  
Mothers Day 2013!!! We love our Mommy!!!
Jul - Sept (CY13Q3)
  • Really, Q3 our obsession with taking pictures of our kids in their sleep really kicked off. It's impossible to capture their movement throughout the days/weekends. They nap, AMAZINGLY well (L has 'em all conditioned), but other than that it's like they're stuck on fast-forward and not just like slow DVD fast forward, I'm talking about old school VHS tape fast forward. The uncontrollable kind before "skipping" and "scenes" existed on DVD. So, sleeping like angel pics it has become.
  • I rambled in Q3... so here's how we're doing Q3:
  • Scrabble Wall-Art added to our dining room and gifted to the Walks and McMichaels as well. Cool stuff. 
  • Sleep Training. If ya'll have kids in this age, uh... 6-7 month age, read this post. Then, slow down, and re-read it. Then, follow every word. This woman (L) knows her stuff. And, if your husband needs some assistance... I tried to adapt her wisdom for the men, who, should also be supporting sleep training!
  • Laura makes homemade laundry detergent. I'm not sure if this was a cost-savings initiative (CSI) or just a general experiment in housewifery. Either way, we're still using it in CY13Q1 so it must have been a success!
  • Boys are 100% identical (ugh) and moving to table foods
  • Fourth of July was celebrated for the 2nd year at Roanoke TX. Loads of fun with church family.
  • Andrew & Laura pick up on AMC's The Walking Dead series by reading the compendiums and subsequently watching the first few seasons. I suppose we were inspired by our own lack of sleep (aka zombie walking). It was a fantastic escape from the daily realities of defense contracting (sequestration, government shutdown, etc) and housewifery. This series was fantastic and led to this gem that Laura blogged late one night.
  • The boys get BIG this summer! Heavy, strong, healthy & happy. 
  • We can generally tell them apart but still use the sharpie "X" on Max's hands/feet particularly when we have a large event, outing or out of town family/friends around to avoid the questioning. Otherwise, Miles is in green/stripes/designs and Max is in red/blue/solid colors. Their attitudes are slightly different, they suck different fingers lol, and we're learning new twin intricacies (like they are not entertained by mirrors).
  • I had a work presentation which meant roadtrip to Nashville TN and camping with Grandma and Grandpa Cooke! Lots of fun!!!
  • Laura and I went to Six Flags for a day w/o the kids! LOADS of fun!
  • Lucy kicked off 1st grade with Mrs. Hunter and won an award in the first 9 weeks for her exceptional character and listening skills, complete with certificate and popcorn party w/ the Principal! Lucy LOVED the 1st half of 1st grade - but did not on in the first few days that the classroom lacked the 'toys' of her kindergarten room :-) She's reading and writing very well and showing a general interest in, well anything math/LEGO related as well as most natural sciences (particularly bugs, animals, plants, etc).
@ Six Flags Over Texas
They were so ROUND in July! Wow... Max in stripes; Miles on right.
4th of July @ Roanoke TX! Quite the crowded picnic blanket!!
  • Grandma visits for Halloween which was spent at B&K Cookes in Dallas! 
  • Claire's favorite 2 y/o phrases (Q2-Q4) are "couple minutes" (used whenever we tell her to turn off her "candle" (Kindle) or that it's time for bed; "actually" used grammatically correct most of the time, just really freaking adorable to hear her say; "what!" (said fast with a decidedly Russian tone dialect, perhaps inspired by Gru from Despicable Me 2) used completely out of context just whenever she wants; "chocolate milk in a sippy cup" (courtesy of Grandma Cooke... thanks Grandma), said each and every morning and most middays; "go in your car" said to me because she likes to bounce around in the Escape (even if it's parked in the driveway); "to the moon", whenever I squeeze her and a phrase shared between Lucy, Molly & I because that's how much we love each other...
  • Lucy and I say a morning prayer on the way to school each day (Dear Jesus, I give you my day and everything in it. Please keep me close to  you, your mother Mary and my guardian Angel as I live today for Your glory. Amen) - She thinks this is the coolest thing because we keep it a "secret" from the rest of the family and she is eager for Molly to start Kindergarten in CY14Q3 because she wants to teach Molly the morning prayer. Super duper cute. She mentions it 'our secret' a couple times a month. 
  • Molly continues in Q4 to be the dress-up queen. She has fallen in LOVE with dancing and routinely (several times a week in Q3, Q4) puts on dance recitals in the living room. Note: there doesn't have to be any music, frequently isn't, just Molly Rose twirling around. Grandpa Dick visited for Thanksgiving and the dance fever was hotter than ever with those two! 
  • Grandpa Dick visits, Thanksgiving @ the B&K Cookes in Dallas, Laura reflects on announcing the boys' birth, the girls spend a little more time inside as the weather gets colder and are as thick as thieves when they get together, we bought picnic tables for the Cooke Fall Fest which have become a permanent fixture, Molly moves 1000 miles/minute and spends a tremendous amount of her entire year on my shoulders (Thank you GOD for giving me the shoulders and strong back that you did), Lucy is actually diagnosed as being crazy blind like her Grandma Cooke was as a kid! 
  • Lucy gets her new glasses and is more engaged than ever with reading, writing and now very interested in video games, particularly LEGO Harry Potter! She wears the patch to school for about 1/2 the day to assist with a lazy eye (and build character, I'm sure!) Her teacher was a saint and made it seamless in the classroom and at school. 
  • I ask everyone at the dinner table (weekday nights) how their day was. The responses from a 30, 6, 4 and 2 year old are always beyond hysterical. Laura captured one she thought was funny that Molly started in my absence.
  • The boys turn one. Wow. We did it. This is the family party on their actual birthday which was followed by the friends party the next weekend. At the 2nd party, Miles fell asleep in his high chair surrounded by 30+ people in the dining room just before cake & ice cream time. It was super cute, of course.
  • Sometime in late Q3, early Q4 when they became mobile the boys picked up the nicknames Pickle (Miles) and Danger (Max). I think honestly Miles got the better nickname because so far, Max has only been a "danger" to himself (climbing up the fireplace, on the sofas, beds and choking on anything he can get his hands on). Either way - they've just about outgrown the sink for "tubby time"
  • And we end 2013 with the best Christmas ever celebrated with the Merkels, Nina and Lilly. Could not have asked for a better way to top off CY2013.
Oct - Dec (CY13Q4)
As usual, Laura held us all together. Another four quarters in a row undeterred by the eight (if you count Stone) mouths she feeds several times daily, seven bodies she dresses [usually] daily, the old(er) house/property she manages and the usual challenges of housewifery like her terrible husband :-) She continues to balance her faith (Church, Endow, Moms Group stuff, socials), her marriage (me!), the family budget (no easy task yet she paid off two cars in CY13!!!!) and her children with Perfect Grace. 

For anyone counting... Laura and I got married in Feb 2006. That means next month, we're celebrating EIGHT (8) years of marital bliss. And, for the very few of you who are still in touch and are really really counting... we started our courtship in Aug 2003 (shhhh... that's TEN years together this fall). I've never been happier in our marriage, it's never been stronger and I'm most excited to see what CY14 brings for Laura. It's going to be epic. I have no doubt.

Ending 2013...

01 January 2014


It's here! 2014! I am so excited about this year, because we anticipate a normal, fun year ahead. I don't have anything planned, and I just want to think enjoy my sweet kids. We survived the first year of twins and now it feels like we're ready for a year of just living them. Going to know them was a whirlwind and we're finally settling in to this fantastic routine.

My passion for loving my kids is immense. There is nothing I  love more than loving them. Pulling them into my lap and kissing them until they scream is one of my greatest joys. I love watching them learn, laughing with them and falling in love with them as they grow. This year is going to be so fun, maintaining the chaos and loving these amazing kids. Andrew and I both love seeing the year spread out in front of us with nothing to do but enjoy our life together. Bliss.

But for today, it's Dance Moms and crocheting. Perfect.