Friday, November 27, 2009

We scream for...

We tried "We shout for Brussels sprouts" and "We fuss for asparagus," but in the end ice cream won. So, we took a surprise trip to a local ice cream shop. Thank goodness for heated gazebos - it's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas!

Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

TodaysMama and Provo Craft are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.

1. What 5 items are on your holiday wish list this year?
- No Boundaries 5K class
- LL Bean Town and Field Rucksack in Dark Brown or Black
- New spatulas and measuring spoons
- Aveda Hand Relief
- Time to finish the whole-house cleaning and reorganization project

2. What is your favorite handmade gift you have received?
- A hand-crocheted doily that we received as a wedding gift (I'm sure there are more, but I finally put this out on display and I get to enjoy it a little bit each day)

3. What handmade gift have you always wanted to tackle?
- I've always wanted to send handmade Christmas cards. Technically not a gift, but since we send close to 200 cards it's the only 'gift' we send some folks.

4. What was the best Christmas gift you received as a child?
- Every year had some special surprise, but my most treasured items are my yearly Christmas ornaments.

5. What items are on your kids' wish lists this year?
- Miss M wants a pink Leapster, a pink umbrella, and two princess dresses; Mister J wants Leapster games, Bakugan, and a Transformers calendar.

6. What is your favorite holiday food?
- cheese straws

7. What will you be hand-crafting for the holidays?
- Covered journals for the kids' teachers (I hope they aren't reading!). I'd like to do more, but instead I'll focus on shopping locally and buying handmade when possible.

8. What is your favorite holiday movie?
- I don't really have one. I try to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" each season, but have never made it through the entire movie in one sitting.

9. Favorite holiday song?
- Silent Night

10. Favorite holiday pastime?
- Wrapping gifts. It's my favorite thing about Christmas!

Head on over to TodaysMama to learn more about the contest. You may decide you want to enter, too!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Thanks #24

It's been a while. Too long, in fact, since I've posted a Thursday Thanks. This still isn't a return to regular posting (at least I don't think it is), but I'm glad to be here anyway!

Just a few moments ago, I commented on a blog. The question was, "What's your favorite day of the week?" Here's how I answered:

My favorite day of the week is Thursday. It's the day "Thursday Packets" come home from school. I can't resist looking at them as soon as possible! Over dinner, I let the kids talk about what's in their packets. Tucked inside we find school work or art work to talk about, and it gives our kids a good starting point to tell us about their accomplishments.

It's a great opportunity to celebrate their academic or creative achievement, or even talk about things that need a little improvement. Since it's over the dinner table and not at the homework table, we can even discuss potential improvement without it being a 'heavy' talk.

I'm thankful for the opportunity - and motivation - to celebrate the kids each Thursday!

Lisa Leonard Giveaway

Hop on over to Simple Mom for a jewelry giveaway!

Lisa Leonard's jewelry is SO pretty! I haven't ever bought any, but I think I might have to put it on my Christmas wish list! The new Family Crest necklace is lovely, but I keep coming back (over and over) to the Sweet and Simple Birdie necklace. The Oval Monogram, Wish, and Family Tree necklaces are lovely, too. Oh, who am I kidding? You really couldn't go wrong! She also has other jewelry, keychains, and baby spoons. I really could break the bank there!

Don't forget - pop on over (link above) to enter Simple Mom's Lisa Leonard giveaway!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Birthday with Grandpa H

While the fall brings its fair share of holidays, it also brings a couple of birthdays in our family. Last weekend, we went to the beach for the weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday. LOTS of photos, of course - here are just a few of my favorites.

Helping Grandpa with his cake. At this point, I think the candles have been blown out and the kids are helping 'clean' the candles - all that pesky frosting sticks to the base of the candles!

The weather was nice - only a little bit cool - and we got to play on the beach while we were there. Mister J enjoyed playing in the sand, running from - and getting caught by - the waves, and eventually soaking his pants even though he'd pulled his pant legs way up.

Miss M had a hard time holding still. She played in the sand and ran up and down the beach. I have a cute little snapshot of her ... feet. Most everything else has her blurry or with her back to me - typical Miss M, and I love those shots because they will always remind me of her energy and fun-loving spirit.

Our last day at the beach was Ice Cream Sundae/ay! We were cleaning out the fridge in the condo on Sunday morning and realized that the ice cream would not survive anyone's trip home. Well, you can't just toss perfectly good ice cream! So, we let the kids eat it for breakfast. I think Big J thought I was off my rocker, but Miss M and Mister J thought I was Mom of the Year! I wish I'd been quick-thinking enough to get my camera instead of my cell phone, but I think Aunt L has some better pictures on her camera.

We had a great time, Grandpa H! Happy Birthday!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rock, Paper, Scissors... Shoe?

We took a quick trip to the beach over the weekend to celebrate my dad's birthday, and this is a snap from our drive home. Mister J was teaching Miss M his 'updated' version of "Rock, Paper, Scissors." We have no idea how the shoe came into the mix.

Some other funnies from the trip -

"Ice Cream Sunday" - or was it "Sundae" - I let the kids finish up some ice cream for 'brunch' before we left the condo this morning. It would never have survived the trip home, so why let it go to waste? They thought getting to eat it out of the carton was very cool - I think I scored some major points!

"Shh... I can hear it... It's the sound of the ocean!" - Miss M as she sat at breakfast on Saturday morning with two coffee cups covering her ears. (Really, I need to post the photo - the kids were so funny!)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Prayer Request

Please click on over to Gravity of Motion and say a prayer for sweet little Sarah and her family. Sarah will have surgery on Friday morning, and I know her family would appreciate your prayers.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


We are approaching a new milestone. One that we, as parents, have yet to mark with one of our children. We are approaching the end of the life cycle of Mister J's lovey, whom he calls "Blanket."

Each of our kids has a blanket as their lovey. We [Big J and I] have always called them 'your blanket' when we referred to either one of them in conversation. "Mister J, please pick up your blanket and put it back on your bed." "Miss M, you left your blanket in the playroom." The 'name' stuck, so we actually have two Blankets - one blue, one pink; one referred to in the masculine singular, one in the feminine singular. "Blanket doesn't want to stay in bed, she wants to come downstairs with me."

As I took Mister J's blanket out of the dryer this evening, I noticed a spot where the yarn was thinning - a lot. It's a hand knit blanket - something I could never recreate - and Mister J has been sleeping with it for close to 5 years.

As expectant parents, we heard lots of tips from experienced parents. One of those tidbits was to "make sure you have a double." Mister J never really got attached to anything until he was around a year old. I had no idea how attached he would become when I started putting Blanket into his crib when I was trying to teach him to soothe himself to sleep. As much I adored holding and rocking him, letting him fall asleep in my arms, and then just snuggling with my sleeping baby, I knew I couldn't do it forever. So I started putting him to bed with a blue and white knit blanket that we'd received as a baby gift. It was given to us by someone who cared for me when I was young, so it seemed, in a very sentimental way, to be the most perfect lovey. I really didn't give much thought to having a double "just in case." When it got dirty, it "got a bath" just like Mister J (well, except Blanket got his bath in the washer, of course). It didn't leave the house, except on long trips, so we didn't worry about accidentally leaving it behind. (Well, there was that one time that Blanket didn't get into the van when it was time to go...)

It has been a perfect lovey. It's traveled with us through the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, up to Indiana, and even to Seattle this past summer. And, as all loveys certainly do, it is finally starting to wear out.

I have always explained to Mister J that Blanket is unique - that there isn't another one like it (him). That if Blanket gets broken, we can't just go buy a new one. There was a phase of pulling on the yarn - and I'd spend hours 'unsnagging' Blanket, only to have to do it again, on a different spot, a few days later. There have been times when I have found loads of lint between Mister J's bedsheets after he'd spent some time taking the 'pills' off of Blanket. On days when Mister J is rough-housing, I remind him that if Blanket gets broken, I can't fix it (I have no idea how to knit!). Blanket stays at home, and usually in bed, unless we travel - but it (he) is still wearing out.

As I noticed the thinning area, I pointed it out to Mister J. I told him that I needed to make a knot in the yarn so it would be stronger - so that it wouldn't break and start to unravel. I was surprised, in a sad sort of way, that he said, "Maybe we need to get a new one." "What kind of new blanket would you like? Can you tell me what you like about Blanket so I can look for a new one that you will like?"

And then the tears came.

After several assurances that I was not going to take Blanket away, and that we could talk about it another time, we let the discussion go. But I know we will have to have it again. And I know the discussion will be full of emotion. And I know that I will be torn - how old is too old for a lovey? Do we let this one wear out completely, and the just go lovey-free? Do we attempt to replace it another one? Even if we could find one that looks like (the original version of) Blanket, a new one will never feel the same as the well-worn version. Even if we find something else that he likes, it will still never be Blanket.

I never knew how attached a child - and a mother - could become. After all, it's just a blanket. Isn't it? No, it's not just a blanket. It is so much more. He loves it, and by that fact alone, so do I. It's going to be a milestone for both of us, whatever lies ahead.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

October Fun

Well, October wasn't all fun and games... Miss M got the flu and missed 6 days of school. She also missed a birthday party for another PA (peanut allergy) kid, which was a bit disappointing for mommy (one of the few times she can attend a party without me worrying about the party food). For 3 of those days, Mister J was also home sick. Not to be left out, Big J and I have had our own days of feeling puny. Thankfully, the kiddos were feeling better just in time for some Fall and Halloween fun!

Miss M attended a ballerina birthday party for her friend, H. Here she is in the 'dressing room' getting ready to dance with a real ballerina who came to perform for the girls and then teach them a few ballet moves.

I didn't take many photos at our church's Fall Festival, and here's the only one the kiddos together. They were in line for the pony rides, so they didn't want to sit still. Mister J seemed to have the most fun playing Bingo, and Miss M had the most fun getting snacks - sno cones, popcorn, and cotton candy!

It's been a rainy month, so we just picked out our pumpkins last week. I managed to get only a few snapshots of the kids - they are so glad to be feeling better that it's tough to get them to hold still! The pumpkin patch we go to always has lots of neat places set up for photo ops.

Mister J is in the back of a big wagon that's decorated and filled with hay bales. Miss M is in the background, refusing to join the photo :)

Before we knew it, Halloween was here! Mister J wanted to be a fireman - how do you think his costume turned out? I found the coat at a local consignment shop (on sale for 50% off - yeah!). The helmet was a gift at his fire truck birthday party last year. Those boots are the ones I got for him when the kids were both asking for rain boots early in the year (they still fit!). Pants - regular cargos from Wal-Mart. The badge is a sticker from out local fire department, and those (removable) stripes are made of duct tape. I'm pretty proud of how this came together!

And here's the costume Miss M selected. I bet you aren't even surprised that it's dance related :)
Trick or Treat! I'm Angelina Ballerina! Yes, I'm a mouse - see my tail?
The pink dance costume was borrowed from a friend. I attached felt ears to a headband I already had, and edged them with some fuzzy, feathery stuff I found at AC Moore. That same thing was used for the tail. The (new!) pair of white tights didn't make it through the evening - oh, well! I bought some black and white makeup to mix into grey for her whiskers. The long-sleeved shirt was straight from her closet. All totaled, I spent less than $35 on new items for both costumes - and the pants and coat can be worn again! Too bad about the tights....

Instead of the normal house-to-house trick-or-treating, we attended Halloween Festival/Trunk or Treat at two churches. The kids had a great time, and I thought it was nice to have Halloween fun without dealing with traffic in the dark (half of our neighborhood has sidewalks, the other half does not).

Mister J was very patient, and won a cupcake after several rounds of the cake walk.
Mister J and Miss M also enjoyed several other games before decided it was time to move on to our next stop. On the way to Great-Grandma's house, we passed a fire station that was also holding a small Halloween festival. Since Mister J was dressed as a fireman, we had to stop. Guess who got to cross the caution tape and have his picture made in the fire truck? He felt like a super star!
Remind you of anything?

It was hard to get the kids away from the games at the fire station. There was no waiting, so they wanted to play over and over and over again. Miss M was getting extra help with basketball - that's the only way my 3-year old could have dunked on the 6-foot-high goal!

Although Halloween is a particularly worrisome time for PA families, Mister J and Miss M understand our "No Candy until Mom or Dad check it out" rule. I'd considered Trick-or-Treat for Unicef this year, but since we went to the festivals instead of door-to-door, we opted to take a pumpkin to collect a few treats. It's also tough (on my heart) to take the candy out of a holiday when I know it just takes a little effort on my part to sort out the safe from the unsafe. We were also very clear about what was ok (or not) when given the choice of treats - which happened more often than not at the church festivals.

It's November now, so we will take down our Halloween decorations. The pumpkins (which we didn't carve) become our Thanksgiving decorations. Planning for Mister J's birthday begins now - I've got just over a month!

Extra-curricular fun

The kids are having a blast at school - along with the regular 'stuff' of preschool and kindergarten, there are field trips, 'specials' like art, music, and visits to the library, and the new play park on campus. The kids also chose a special activity to do outside of school. It's dance for Miss M, which will last through June. Mister J chose soccer for the fall, he'll be taking an after school science class through early December, and will start basketball at our church in January. As I read that, it seems like Mister J has a lot going on, but we have chosen to keep their activities limited to one day per week, and we don't let the activities overlap (soccer ends before science begins, science ends before basketball begins).

Here are a few snapshots of my cuties all dressed for fun!

Mister J on the first day of soccer

Mister J getting his trophy at the end-of-season festival. This cold, rainy morning was his best soccer day so far!

Miss M on her first day of dance class - she was SO excited! She goes to her dance class right from preschool, so she wasn't in her dance clothes yet - they are in her bag!

Ready to dance! She picked out the lavender leotard the day we registered her for class!

Look, Mommy!

Miss M was so proud of herself for completing this floor puzzle on her own! Since then, she's mastered a few others, and some with smaller pieces. She really enjoys puzzles, just like her big brother!

Backyard Fun...

... while the weather was still warm enough!

This was back in September over the long Labor Day weekend - a spontaneous "okay!" to one of Mister J's requests to have a water balloon fight. It was well worth the cold, sore fingers from tying off what seemed like 100 tiny, fragile, water-filled balloons! (Did I mention that I'm not so great at tying balloons?)
Here's what we started with - they lasted lass than five minutes, I think!
I have some 'action shots' of the fun - Daddy joined in and kept the kids laughing the entire time! - but my point-and-shoot really didn't do justice to the fun. The smiles in the shot above are the best ones that I got of the kids - and that was before the action started!

Lunches - Big Catch-Up Post

Ahh - I'm back on the blog! It's a cold, wet, lazy Sunday afternoon. The kids are napping. Miss M was, as usual, up with the sun. Add to that a late bedtime on Halloween, and the 'fall back' didn't really help her out. She fell asleep on the way home from lunch with friends this afternoon. Mister J is taking quiet time, too, so I'm spending some time going through photos and working on the blog - yay! I'm going to start with a big post about lunches, move on to some other noteworthy events, and wrap it up with Halloween photos - stick with me, ok?

So ... lunches! I've packed two lunches per day since school began - the only exceptions being one day that Mister J asked to eat "hot lunch" from school and the days the kids were home sick (Miss M - 6 days due to flu, Mister J - 3 days due to congestion/scratchy throat/cough). That's a LOT of lunches! I still enjoy packing them, though I don't always enjoy doing it at 9 or 10pm. While the lunch planning chart hasn't lasted like I'd hoped, we still take the time to talk about what will be in the lunch boxes.

Here are just a few of the lunches I've packed over the last two months.

Lunches the first two days - these first two are nearly identical. Miss M's has yogurt and strawberries, Mister J's has Craisins and cheese cubes.

These next two have spaces for cucumbers I added the next morning. The roll-ups in Miss M's lunch were not a hit, but they both liked the pears. The small lidded container typically holds Thousand Island for Miss M, Italian for Mister J (unless I have ranch dip or hummus).

As I mentioned above, just because it's in the lunchbox doesn't mean it's a hit (a change from the early days of the Laptop Lunch Boxes!). I almost always pack things they have eaten for me at home, because it's important to me that they have a filling lunch that they enjoy. However, that doesn't mean that they will eat it!
Miss M's lunch - Yogurt with fresh strawberries, grapes, grape tomatoes, green beans. While she will eat raw green beans at home, she didn't touch them in her lunch box.

Mister J's lunch - Corn and black bean salad/salsa, tortilla chips, cheese cubes, small container has sour cream inside, grapes, home-made fruit bar (I'll post the recipe sometime - these are yummy!) Mister J tasted the salad/salsa at home the day before, and said he'd like it in his lunch. He may have taken one bite of it at school :(

This must have been a Tuesday - sometimes I pack lunch for myself since we go to Miss M's dance class right after preschool. Mine had a small salad under the fruit bar - salad dressing in the small container instead of sour cream.

I made some 'fun' lunches the last two days before Fall Break - my only opportunity to send Halloween-themed goodies. On Tuesday, I packed cat-shaped sandwiches. Unfortunately, the kids didn't think bread looked like a Halloween-ish cat with arched back. Miss M told me she had a skunk-shaped sandwich, and Mister J thought his was a horse. (Why is it that the lunches I took photos of turned out to be the flops?)

This was lunch on Wednesday:
Pumpkin-shaped ham and cheese sandwich, Fritos, blood orange segments, pumpkin-shaped cucumber slices, orange bell pepper bits, ranch dip in the small container. This lunch went over pretty well, though Mister J asked me to not pack bell pepper in his lunch anymore. One of the few times I tried the magic of the lunchbox, hoping he'd try something new!

Overall, the kids enjoy their lunches. I'm getting better at packing the proper portion for the amount of time they have to eat lunch (30 minutes). Most mornings they ask to see what's in the boxes, even if they helped pick things out the night before. They don't know how good it makes me feel to see them excited about their lunches!

One day a week, I volunteer during the lunch period in one of the K-1 classes at school. At this age, the children eat lunch in their classrooms. I have discovered that most children (usually about 2/3 of the children in the class I work with) bring lunches from home. Initially, I was concerned that the kids' lunches from home would be 'different' - more so for Mister J, where kids are becoming more observant about what other kids are doing. My happy observation is that many of the lunches look similar to what my kids take - yogurt, cheese, fruits, veggies. Although having a lunch that 'looks' like everyone else is not the most important thing, it is a relief to me that, at this age where kids are beginning to compare themselves to others, this is a battle we won't have to have - at least until Mister J gets to to eat lunch in the cafeteria!