Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy Anniversary


Our wedding day... seven years ago!
 Happy Anniversary, my love.  Two kids, a cross country move, and to many adventures to come, I enjoy traveling this road with you.   All my love!

Friday, July 29, 2011

She crawls!

Mae is officially mobile now.   She's been working on it for the last two weeks or so and in the last couple of days has really figured out her way of crawling.   She has yet to master moving her hands in front of her or even the knees but she is for sure actively seeking mobility and forward movement and watch out if she wants something she'll dash off for it very quickly... like yesterday with her brother's sandwich.  :) 

She's not so quick that the gate jungle needs to be set up yet, we're actually not sure how we're going to do that just yet in this house,  but we'll figure out something that doesn't trap Ace and his sister.  :)    Yay for mobility, no looking back now!! 



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mae's Sensory Basket

Mae is getting curious with her world and so finding ways to entertain her and help her explore her world is ideal. I like the idea of exposing Mae to various textures, colors, and sounds and I happened across the idea of baby sensory baskets. Ace loved his Space themed sensory tub - and so I wanted to make something for Mae that helps her explore similar textures, sounds, and colors.

I created a basket for her filled with a few toys, but also lots of objects from around the house. Mae's basket includes: cloth rattle, toy winkel, ball, crinkle elephant, luvee (soft) frog, jersy fabric strip, whisk, a new kitchen scrub sponge, a cloth book, a head of lettuce from Ace's toy food, a wooden spoon, a plastic spoon, a jingle rattle, a terry cloth giraffe toy, and a teether with a ribbon attached.


Since finding the idea for sensory baskets/buckets, I started looking into a bit more behind the idea. The 'WHY' - You see my legal researching skills, while dormant tend to find ways of still escaping and what better place for an outlet than the betterment of my children? After finding the idea, I delved a bit further and found the term 'Heuristic Play' which is a concept rooted in children's natural curiosity. Providing a basket allows Mae to make her own choices and discoveries. Sounds like a good thing to encourage to me, and so I was excited to get Mae started with her basket. I set her down on her blanket while Ace and I built robots and she had a blast picking through her basket and exploring things with her hands and mouth. I have given her this basket several times since then and she loves to take things out and play with them every time. Her favorite is the kitchen scrub sponge.



She loves all the various noises that her toys make. She loves to mouth the whisk and feel the cool metal on her mouth. She makes a silly face sometimes too which is cute. :)


Overall the sensory basket is a hit and I think we'll rotate various objects every couple of weeks to help her continue to explore new types of things. Although we'll see how still she stays once she realizes that she can go places. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Growing

She's 14.5lbs (25%)

She's 25.5" long (50%)

Her little noggin' is 41cm (25%)
She's healthy, happy, and growing at a very even and steady rate! 

Something Special...

The other night Ace was playing jack-in-the-box with his bed. Aka getting out of his bed repeatedly and coming downstairs with some excuse. On his third time he just looked sad. Fat lip, knowing he was in trouble and having no good excuse. But what struck me was how sad he really looked. It hurt my heart. So I gently took him upstairs and we went into the other room with the rocking chair and sat down to have a chat. I asked him why was he getting out of bed so much and he said he was lonely.

He's not even three yet and he's articulating real (and sad!) emotion. I asked him what it meant to be lonely and he said that he could hear dad downstairs playing a game, and he could hear me playing with Sister, and he was up in his bed all alone, not playing at all. He was lonely. SAD! I explained to him that everyone has a bedtime and that his right now just happens to be first but that is partially because he wakes up first on many days - that while it might seem like a bummer to have to go to bed first, it's a cool privelege to get up first and have the WHOLE house all to his self... that made him smile. It's hard to explain to a three year old that we'd LOVE for your sister to go to bed at the same time as you, but it's far less of a controlled option when she's still so tiny.

We continued to talk and rock and discuss maybe Ace needed some special time with just mommy to do something that was only for him. He thought that would 'be a good idea' and was less sad at that prospect when I tucked him back into bed and kissed him good night. I headed downstairs, racking my brain on how to do something special for just Ace when Loving Husband works all day and I still have Mae ever as present as she always is. Hmmm.... I figured some craft project with construction paper would be good... I went on a Pinterest hunt! "Construction Paper Crafts" .... lots of options popped up and then I saw a variation of a robot and that got my wheels spinning...

As you recall  Ace was excited to shoot robots recently on the Buzz ride in Disneyland. He also as his souvonier brought home his very own buzz gun. So what better than to create his own robot making station where him and I could craft the robots together and then he could tape them around the house and I could 'surprise' him again with the treat of being able to shoot them?? I got to work cutting, drafting, and piecing together various robot parts so that he could have enough to make a few robots without having to wait for more items to be cut. I made an example robot and set it all up. Before I went to bed his robot making station was awaiting him!

The next morning we came downstairs together and he was all excited! We got straight to work. I had to take a break at one point to change his sister's diaper and he took the initiative and made his own robot all by himself. I was pretty proud of him. We finished up the robots inbetween eating and Super Why (his favorite show these days) and then I told him about shooting them!

He got really excited and started running around the house shooting all of them. Then I told him of the grand finale of surprises, ZURG! He was hiding in the bathroom (I had taped him there before I went to bed) He ran in gun blazing... and then abruptly stopped. "Zurg doesn't have a gun, I can't shoot him." Well that's honorable, ok fine. I went over, found a scrap of paper, fashioned a gun, glued it onto his hand and Ace started shooting... and then stopped "Zurg's gun should be green..." And he ran off to go find one of his books that has Zurg in it, found a picture and showed me the gun. After studying the picture some more he also indicated that Zurg needed 'ears' (they're more horns since we're being picky...) so during nap time this mommy refashioned and armed Zurg with the proper armory so that after nap time a proper duel could occur... I hoped ;-)


So what did Mae have to do while all this assembling, shooting, and excitement was happening? Well after I completed the night before Ace's robot assembly station, I also gathered items for a sensory basket for Mae! More on that in another post.

Ace loved his special time and said "Thank you, mom for making robots with me. That was really special." And it warmed my heart - I hope he knows he is special and that he is loved. We try really hard to make sure he knows that and this day was just another fun way to show him that. At the end of the day all the robots relocated to his room, as did Zurg!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Becky's Baby Shower

My best friend is having a baby! I am so excited for her and that's why I was so excited to make her presents, decorate and help host her shower in California. Yes, that meant two plane tickets, traveling by myself with two kids on a cross country flight, and a host of other complications - but not for one second was it not worth it! I wouldn't have missed it.... I might have Skyped in because tickets at one point were over a $1000, but thankfully they dropped in price and we were able to make it to California to celebrate Baby Ben and his upcoming arrival!

The shower was great, she got a lot of nice things!


Games were played!

Presents were opened!


Friends were seen!

Lots of fun was had!

My kids were well behaved and loved by many!




I can't wait for Baby Ben (we hope he's a Ben!) to arrive!! August 12th can't come soon enough! Prayers for mommy and family as the time nears and they welcome this little baby into the world! Lots of love to them all!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Baby Shower Decor

There are only so many ways one can decorate for a baby shower - the unique *new* way is to create a diaper cake for the 'center piece' of the shower. That was done for mine and I loved it! You get diapers, toys, and a lot of other fun stuff in the mix that way and it makes for a stylish design. But it's been done, I didn't want to do it again. Also been done is the 'Bath Cake' I came up with this idea for a friend's shower that was contemplating cloth diapering (I think that's why I did it... maybe I just wanted to steer away from the diaper cake then too... I digress) but I'd already done that, so I was on the hunt once again for something NEW and DIFFERENT! And thanks to Pinterest once again I came across this idea: a diaper wreath. What fun! There were multiple places I could hang one or two of these and so I gathered supplies upon reaching California and got to work.

I bought 2 straw wreaths (they were the cheapest, but they also are quite bulky so size 1 diapers were a bit tight on them, but I made it work) and left the plastic wrap on them, no need to get straw in perfectly usable diapers! I opened the diapers up, wrapped them around the wreath and then tied them on using tulle. A few of the diapers I attached a toy directly to them and on one I attached the multiple-monkey bib before I attached it to the wreath. All the other toys, bibs, etc I simply added and attached to the tulle and diapers in various places. I used standard wreath hangers to put them on the door and wala a little something different to decorate part of the room for the baby shower. :)



Mommy and Daddy both have decided that while 'jungle' is the theme they really like the monkeys best and so I set out over these last few weeks to find all sorts of monkey clothes in green - mostly consignment and for great prices! One package of cloths pins and a roll of ribbon later and you have some excellent decor and additional gifts for baby to wear later!


On the mantel where gifts would be placed below, I placed the pennant, a picture that I had taken at Becky and Dave's maternity shoot I did for them, a $2.50 wood letter 'B' that I got from Target and some every popular these days 'subway art' with all things 'boy' related.


Becky also wanted to have birthday cards for baby Ben for each of the first 18 years of his life signed by all of those that attended his shower. No not every person signed every one, but some did. ;) But what a cute idea - plus it made for additional cute decor.


Food is also a must at a baby shower and while it can be done in elaborate set up and design, and I left that department to Becky's mom to be as creative or practical as she felt led to be. However, a punch bowl really should be festive at a baby shower - so with Becky's mom gathering supplies to make the punch, I bought two 'hot' ducks (the kind that tell you whether water is too warm for baby to be in the bath tub) and a bathtub punch was made, using this recipe.


Finally I decided to give balloon animal making a go! I saw them on Prudent Baby for a birthday party where she used them as decor and I thought they were super cute. I figured 'they can't be that hard' ... they're not, but they do take patience. I made Loving Husband read the book and then I simply followed his verbal/visual instructions rather than reading them from the book. There were plenty of duds, pops, and no bananas actually made it to the decorations ;-) but I thought they added a fun whimsical note to the party... even if most people thought they looked like puppies. Siigh ;-)

I had a lot of fun coming up with less traditional, but still very baby-esque decorations. Momma-to-be was very happy with everything and she had a LOT of loot that made for it's own element of decoration before she tore through it all! Congrats to the newest addition, Becca!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sunset Splashes


Splashing in the sprinkler at sunset...
nothing better in the summer!

Baby Gift Craftiness

As soon as I knew that Becky was having a boy I got crafting! (Which is good that I procrastinated because originally they were told they were having a girl!) Since getting my new machine I have been trying to find projects to test out all of the features that my machine has. I knew I wanted to try applique and embroidery for sure and so I got started and this is what in a few weeks time I completed! :)


Let's start with the playmat! It basically is the same design that I did with Mae's. Although I'll be honest, I LOVE this one so much more. :) I learned from a few of my mistakes on the one I made Mae and so this one is a lot more clean and complete. :) I also waited to do this until the very last moment and as a result I started and completed this quilt in one day... because I had to. I started cutting around noon on the Friday before I left for California and I sewed down the final side of the binding around 9pm that night. Pretty good considering I still had kids to manage, eat food, and make my mickey and minnie shirts for the kids!

The burp clothes were super easy just fabric sewn down the middle of a cloth diaper and I love the Sesame Street fabric that I found for them. Becky and I have always had a special bond with our love of Elmo (me) and Grover (her) ...our respective camp names. :) I was excited to find this fabric and to create a little some special to share with her son. :)

I also found some cute 'camp' fabric that focused on Elmo (sadly no Grover) but it was such cute flannel and thought I'd give my 'serger' feature on my machine a try. I don't own the proper foot for it, but it still works mostly and so I made a quick and easy receiving blanket out of that flannel. I wanted to make some personalized onesies for her and I found the cutest design for the tie onesie and then also did a little embroidery and applique work for one with the 'B' on it. :) Simple and inexpensive - $2 onesies from Walmart, some Heat n Seal and thread and wala a super cute personalized gift. :)

I also made a taggy blanket for Ben in the cute monster fabric that I have. Every baby needs a good taggy luvee to chew on in the car seat. :)


My favorite item though and the item that took the most time because of all the stages and care that I took to ensure that it was perfect was the personalized pennant that I made for baby Benjamin. :) It was a lot of steps. Cut the fabric to fit into the hoop for embroidery, embroider each letter, cut each into a triangle, cut the batting, cut the back, sew those pieces together, turn them right side out and top stitch and then finally sew them onto the ribbon and cut and heat seal the ribbon so it won't fray. I took several weeks to do these in various stages, often walking away from the project when I'd start to get sloppy because I was tired of working on it. It paid of and I (and mommy and daddy of Benjamin) are very happy with the results of that effort! It made for nice decor at the party (look for this post soon too!) and it now hangs above Ben's bed, awaiting his arrival. I'm so excited for Becky's newest addition to arrive!


Friday, July 22, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

It really is one of my favorite places to go on Earth and sharing it with my children makes it all that much more exciting. On Tuesday of last week my mom, the kids and I set out in the morning and met up with Carrie and her daughter Avery.

Mae and Avery had never been to Disneyland and so our first stop was the Mad Hatter's Hat Shop to get them their very own Mickey ears. Mae was very excited to wear her ears... and later eat them. :)


This also required a photo-op in the famous tea cups. Carrie and I have a few of these shots and it's great to revisit the tea cup together once again and this time we had another generation to join us in the picture. :)


 Ace was so excited to 'shoot things on Buzz' - he had remembered that you 'take out the guns and shoot things' and that was the ride he wanted to go on and so it was. He did GREAT! His first score was 3900, pretty dern good! That was with no help or guidance. He had a blast and at the end of the day he took home his very own Buzz Gun!

Next up was lunch, followed by Pirates in which Ace and Mae enjoyed a snooze, and then Winnie the Pooh ride and a favorite always the Jungle Cruise! I love to see him enjoy the ride more and more each time!


After the Jungle Cruise we headed over to California Adventure where we actually found a bench and parked it for a little while, fed Mae and Avery and let Ace just wiggle around for a while. We then took a long walk and walked over to the Ferris Wheel.


After that we left the park, did some shopping and headed home at the end of first day. :) It was a good day, great to spend time with Carrie and her daughter, and Ace had a BLAST. Mae did great and like always was such a happy baby. She left Disneyland with her very first Minnie Mouse which she loves and gets the biggest smile on her face each time you show it to her. Both kids were out by the time we got to the freeway to head home. :)


Day Two of Disneyland began later. I wanted to ensure that we had lunch before we left and so that Ace would have his nap in the car on the way to Disneyland. Both those things were accomplished and when Ace woke up in the parking lot he was SO excited. It was really cute. My mom and I loaded up the stroller and headed to catch the tram. We of course went straight to Buzz! This time with the help of the ride stopping a few times Ace's score was 5200! He could care less about his score, he just liked to shoot, but we were impressed!



We then headed back over to Pirates and then walked right onto the Haunted Mansion. It was the first time in YEARS that I had been on the Haunted Mansion when it wasn't decorated in the Nightmare Before Christmas theme. I enjoyed it. After that was over we went back to the Winnie the Pooh ride. The line there was less than 5 minutes and Ace went on it three times. :) Ace then requested the Jungle Cruise which was once again a must. This time Ace sat on the other side and got sprayed by the elephant at the end, which caused a big barrel laugh much to the amusement of the entire boat. Mae also had a good time smiling at the other passengers and distracting them from their cruise. ;)


Grammie and Ace took a ride on the carousel and then we all waited in line for Dumbo and enjoyed a good ride on Dumbo. Ace loved to make him go up and down. We then headed and grabbed some dinner, followed by another stop in the gift shop where I picked up a mickey snuggie (the cheapest 'warmth' they had in the park oddly enough for a steal at $25, hehe) and then we settled in to await fireworks. Ace loved them and especially Tinkerbell and Dumbo that flew across the wire from the Matterhorn. It was fun. We did one more round on Pirates to allow the crowds to thin and then we left the park around 11:30pm It was a long but fun day. It was another magical trip to the Happiest Place on Earth! :)