Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leapin' Lily Pads!

Today we started off our morning with some unscheduled  snow fall.  This allowed the kids some fun snowball throwing, snowflake licking fun in first part of our morning, but aside from that I had other kind of fun planned for our day.   You see today is of course Leap Day!   While us adults understand it (the best we can) to be some extra day to make up for extra daylight the space time continuum (that's not it?... well sounds good to me.)   For kids it is a fun opportunity to learn more things about the calendar and frogs.   Yes frogs!

I found a fun idea while trolling Pinterest!   To make lily pads and have the kids jump around.   The idea of hopping around on lily pads comes from Toddler Approved (she has a template for the lily pads too.)  I went a little more freestyle with mine and made some 'smooth' and some 'wavy' lily pads to throw in some additional instruction options.   I numbered them and we began our fun!

Before we began jumping we looked at a calendar from last year and one from this year.   Showing him the extra day and then talked about how that happens every 4 years.  In fact the year he was born and now once again! (I can't believe he's FOUR this year!)   After that I asked him what animals jump and he excitedly said FROGS!    So from there we did some Bing image searches and looked at frogs and then moved into the lily pad elements.   Marry the two lessons together by talking about synonyms.  Yes, yes I did in fact broach the subject of synonyms with my son (and yes in fact spell check had to correct every attempt at my spelling of synonym.)  I told him that synonyms means that two words have the same meaning and it's an alternate word that can be used.  (Yes, I use words like 'alternate' also with my children.)   He said 'oh ok' and then I prompted him to see if he knew a synonym for jump... and he thought for a moment and said "leap?"  BE. STILL. MY. HEART.  YES!!!!   Hooray!  So we lept around the room some for the connection there!  

Next up was the activity!  Ace started the activity jumping in a row from 1 to 5.   He had a lot of fun (but mommy forgot to get her settings right for 'action' before we began, so alas the quality is less than stellar... but you can get the idea!)

After some in a line jumping I moved the lily pads to a more open space and moved them around and out of numerical order.   I had him jump from 1-5 again.  Then I had him jump on the lighter colored ones and then darker.   Then jump on the 'smooth' ones.   There was many different combinations that we tried out and he had a blast throughout.  

Mae even joined in on the jumping which was adorable... and her outfit is living proof that I don't stage all my photos.  Isn't  her outfit just smashing?   Yes, that's post snow-wear while her matching pants dry.  She had a good time cheering on her brother and jumping, stomping on the lily pads herself.  It was cute and adorable and an excellent energy burning indoor activity!  

Happy Leap Day from our lily pond to yours!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Unique Reads

I have a deep seeded love for books.  All kinds of them.   I still have all my law books - they look pretty sexy after all - and after the half-inch compression to my spine from hauling them around for three years they are badges books of honor and simply can't be parted with.   I have books from when I taught Communication, some books remain from my college course work as well.   Never mind the shelves and shelves full of my favorite fiction.   However, my speed to read through more has now moved mostly to crawl and my attention has been directed other places and as the trend would continue it's toward my kids and children's literature.  

Thankfully, my children have a born desire to read - from the womb they've heard stories repeated over and over again.  Every night at bedtime there is at least one book read.  Throughout the day my children can be caught with a book.  My son has been able to memorize whole books just from the repetition.  My daughter who for the first year of life found books to be more of an appetizer than entertainment, has finally begun to enjoy the joy of reading (listening) to a story.   I love that they love to read and with that I am constantly on the hunt for new books, adventures through pages, and colorful imagery to share with them.   

With that I thought I'd start a series and share with you some of our favorites and what we as a household of ages 3 and 1 are reading these days.   I'll start with a medley of our past and current favorites.


Cuddle by Beth Shoshan:  Cuddle is about a boy who stretches his imagination about cuddling various animals. "I'd cuddle a whale but I might be too small" The artwork is adorable with all the various imagery of the results of the boy cuddling a shark, skunk, and crocodiles! The words and plot are very simple, but always gives my son a chuckle.  Ace loved this book so much that  it was a staple every night for nearly a year during his second year of life.  It now has moved into the 'occasional' rotation.  Another bonus of  Cuddle from the mom perspective: it isn't so long that I cringe when asked to read it! Which is a huge plus for nightly-repeat books. 

I like fruit by Lorena Siminovich:  I bought this book for Mae's stocking and I couldn't be happier with the simple texture and color based book.   It has a unique collage style artwork that teaches not only colors, but also fruit and various fun textures.    It's a nice change from more traditional learning colors books.   Mae is a fan and so is her big brother even though he already knows his colors and fruit.

Romeo & Juliet by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver: This is a great little counting board book.  Don't expect this book to truly tell a story of Romeo and Juliet though.    It takes some of the staples from Romeo & Juliet and counts them: 1 balcony, 2 loves, 3 people meet, 4 roses, 5 friends, 6 musicians, 7 masks, 8 love letters, 9 streets and bridges, and 10 kisses. Toss in a few of the memorable quotes, character names, and darling artwork and you have a sweet little book.  Far from a retelling, but for true Shakespeare fans it creates an opportunity to introduce the story at your own pace to your kids. There are others as well in the BabyLit series, but at $10 a pop I think we'll be slow to add them to our collection.

In the Garden with Van Gogh by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober:  Far from your traditional board book - this book is a great introduction into some of Van Gogh's classic art pieces.   The pictures are large (for a board book) and the lyrical writing is thematic to the painting. My favorite of Van Gogh's paintings - Starry Night is in this book (a little cliche, I know, but I love the textures and the blues!)  In the back of the book there is a list of the paintings and the museums in which they appear, which is a nice reference for the parents. There are many different artists featured in these Mini Master classics, so your favorite is likely to be found!  Even better is there is a Mini Masters Box Set that contain even more great historical artists for a great price, which is what we own. 


There you have it some great books, many of them board books for your tough on paper kiddos!   I love that my kids love to read, look at pictures, and explore books all on their own.   I am in the process now of creating a reading nook in my son's closet.  Still waffling on how elaborate and permanent I want to make the nook - but for now he's enjoying a pile of pillows/blankets in his closet with his bookshelf moved in there.  :) A post on that is surely on its way!    Happy reading and memory making with your kids! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who's Got a Question?

Or eleven?  Bri from Ravenna Girls that's who!  :)   I was tagged and well that sounds like a nifty way to be blog friendly - so why not - it's been a while since I've participated in the "blogging community" so to speak - and this is a fun way to.   

First the rules:
**You must post the rules
**Answer the 11 questions that the tagger posted for you & then create 11 questions to ask the people you’ve tagged

**Tag 11 people and link them in your post
**Let them know you have tagged them

1. Tell us the short story of how you got started blogging?
I started blogging in 2004,  I didn't transfer all of my posts from my original 'Live Journal'  but  the earliest one that I did was Ode to Driving in So Cal. My blogging from 2004 until 2008 was sporadic and really a recap of milestones.   In late 2008 I started this blog, albeit at a different URL, and I did so as a way to document my son for family.   I set the goal for myself for 2009 to become a "Blogger" and I feel I successfully achieved that goal.  This blog has taken on many roles from a Review and Giveaway blog, some social media, crafty and kid education how-tos,  or just a blog read by my closest friends and family.   I go in waves of reaching out to the masses and just keeping it intimate for those I know.   I love to write though and I find this blog to be a great outlet for that and love when I see others enjoying the content that I produce.  

2. Are you an Apple or a PC?
PC before the husband and permanently PC after.

3. What is your ideal Sunday afternoon?
Total laziness.   Reading.  Blogging.  A Nap.   Peacefulness.    My ideal Sunday will have to wait until my children are teenagers and elsewhere.  ;-)

4. Where is your dream destination?
A lengthy tour around all of Italy.   I am in love with the country, the wine, the history, the art, the language.  I would love to just soak it all in for a month, taking a train, a boat, a gondola and just see everything there is to be seen.   Take the time to have cappuccino and not be rushed.  

5. Beach bungalow or Mountain chalet?
 Oooh that's tough!   See I have to say I love both, but that I'd never want to stay at either forever.  I get tired of sand and mountain chalets tend to have a more brisk weather pattern, if nothing else due to shade.    So traveling between the two sounds excellent!  :)  

6. Pencils or Pens?
Keypad?  Ask me six months ago and I could have said I probably hadn't even touched a pencil in eons... but now I use them for crafty purposes, Ace's schooling, etc..  so I probably end up using pencils more now than anything.

7. What is your go-to recipe?
If we're stretching across 'all time' I'd have to say Swedish Meatballs (my grandmother's)  but if we're talking about currently then I'd have to say that I've been regularly making Tomato Bacon Bites, they are far from healthy but they are oh-so yummy!

8. Whats at the top of your playlist this week?
I won't lie, most of the time I really don't have a playlist.   With the kids there isn't usually time for 'my' music and if we're in the car it typically is radio only or their cds..  However, I did just buy Dia Frampton's Red album (this time for myself, as I bought it for Jackie for Christmas a few months ago!)

9. Favorite young adult fiction, or are you too cool for that school?
Is Harry Potter considered 'young adult' or did we just mainstream that a long time ago?   Well, if we've moved Harry out of that section of fiction then I'd have to say I'm a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy.  Certainly jumped on the bandwagon about the same time everyone else has.

10. Black or green thumb?
Oh it is such a black thumb.  I try really hard.  But eventually I will kill even a cactus. 

11. Favorite indulgence?

Ok now I'd like to tag a few friends to join in the blogging adventure to join a bit of the blogging community and sharing some of your thoughts.  :)  Mo, Carrie, Jackie, Dana, Dee, Snow, Lyxa, Kristina, Beach Mama, Lori, and Rachel.

1.  What is your favorite 'crafty' thing to do?
2.  First CD you owned?
3.   Do you parallel park or drive around the block?
4.  Favorite subject in school?
5.  Do you have any phobias?
6.  Do you prefer to take the picture or be in them? (or both!)
7.  What is the strangest talent you have?
8.  Furthest you have traveled from home?
9.  What is your favorite movie genre?
10.  Name one person you'd like to meet and why?
11. What drives you to succeed?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thirteen Months Old

Miss Mae is growing up faster than ever!  She's so smart and is really gaining quite the personality! It's hard to believe that we are already starting a season of 'seconds' with her.

New for this thirteenth month: first pinata, first chipped tooth, first time being babysat by her Gran & Pop Pop, first time brushing her teeth with a big girl tooth brush.

Mae is adorable and knows it!   She is such a sweet heart and is growing up so well.  She's still an itty bity thing and wears 9 month clothes well - and while not swimming - certainly has plenty of growing room in 12 month ones.    She is doing much better at eating 3 times a day.  Although it varies from day to day on how much she actually will consume.    Some days she wants 'people' food and other days is totally content to simply eat her jar food.    She's regularly drinking cow's milk in the mornings now and so we've lessened the amount she nursing just a tiny bit.    Things that her favorite right now are puffs, sweet potatoes, and often she'll eat any chicken that we put in front of her.  Surprisingly, she also likes raw broccoli.

Mae loves to cuddle in her giant pillow while her dada holds her and at the beginning of her 13th month would often start her night time sleep that way.   Half way into the month though we started to work on a bit more of a night time routine for her and she started to get ready for bed at the same time as her brother - so while Ace got his pjs on - I changed her diaper and put her pjs on and then they both head into the bathroom for teeth brushing.  She LOVES to brush her teeth.  She gets very upset when it is time to be all done.     After we finish with the teeth brushing it's into brother's room we go for songs, book reading, and prayers.   We say good night to brother and then  head into our room to put M to sleep.       I am writing this blog about 10 days post her 13th month 'birthday' so at the time of that - she was still nursing to sleep and on occasion taking HOURS to do so.  However, a lot of that seems to have been the illness and as of the 10th of this month she had 3 nights of under 20 minutes to go to sleep!   A post specifically on her sleeping progress is in the works!

Mae has gotten extremely good at listening!  She has been since before she turned one, but considering how young she is - it's amazing at how well she will listen (when she wants to!)   If we are nearby her diapers and I ask her to bring me one she will get me one.   I tell her to lay down for a diaper change she will go into her room and lay where we change her diaper.    If she has something she isn't suppose to, I will ask her to bring it to me and she 90% of the time will.    She's a good little helper.   She doesn't always understand what I am asking of her, but she is listening and we are in awe of her comprehension and execution of requests.    She'll blow kisses at you when you ask, wave goodbye, and play peek a boo with her dad (and well anyone really who will entertain the idea.)   She also has taken to walking over to a certain wall in our living room and posing for pictures.    It's too darn adorable! 

She loves her brother!  Mae will play with him any and every time he is willing to do so.   He loves her without question and wants to be on him and be everywhere he is.    Ace tolerates and (most of the time) loves it.   She without fail will run into the bathroom if it is open and climb up onto the stool (likely because she wants to brush her teeth) - Ace will yell for me to come retrieve her.

Language wise Mae is starting to further form the words already in her vocabulary - milk is a little closer to 'meee'  rather than 'ma ma',  book is 'boo' rather than 'bah',  brother still has 'ba' most of the time but occasionally she'll squeak out 'burda'.   Me as 'mama' hasn't really been heard around these parts in a while, but I'm hoping it makes a comeback.   Her sign language has really improved a lot. She has started to use "more" with more regularity and is very good with "all done" at dinner time.  She also knows (our version) of "I'm sorry" (her brother tends to require signing it to her regularly and we make her do it as well when she has wronged him.)  "Thank you" also is there, but often confused with her blowing kisses, but it's kind of a gratitude statement, so we'll take it.  :)    She loves to help sing songs at bed time and in church and it's just too darn adorable.  

Mae is also very into making various facial expressions.  She has a sly smile, a goofy grin, and a giant cheesy smile too.  They're all adorable.  She's also got a mean frown, an annoyed look to the side, and a host of others that very easily describe what her opinion of the various things happening to and around her.  :)      She is such a joy.   She loves to brush her hair - which is adorable and I am so pleased to see that it's finally starting to thicken up.  She's developing a love of hats, headbands, etc... but none stay on very long.  Hair bows are not long for wear and most of the time not even attempted yet.    She likes to rip them out and then try to set them back on top of her head.  It's cute, but it can go on forever if we let it.  :)

Sickness wise - Mae got herself another doozy of a cold, along with her brother and her mommy.   We were all down for the count for over a week.   The cough  is still lingering even still, but hopefully it's residual and not symptomatic of it worsening.   Otherwise she's a healthy and very happy little girl.   She now has 4 teeth - and sadly her second top tooth got chipped somewhere (which honestly is no surprise since she falls regularly from the great heights she's scaled!)  although it has now come in further and looks like it has a crack in it - so I think a trip to the dentist is on the horizon very soon!

We're already well into our 14th month of Mae's little life and she is such a joy and changing daily.  Can't wait to discover more with her as she grows and changes.  :)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our Valentine's Day

I can't believe it has been a week since Valentine's Day already!   Time certainly flies when you're having fun!!  On Valentine's Eve after the kids went to bed - I decided to work like a little Valentine's elf (they have to have jobs besides, Christmas ya know!)  and ready the dining room table with some Valentine's surprises for my kids.    

I wanted it to be a special morning for my kids this year - if I'll go for 'gusto' every year it remains to be seen but this year there were presents, festive breakfasts, and thematically colored matching clothing. :)

The chip in the bowl looks much more angry than it really is...
Who can resist M&M Red Sugar Oatmeal?  Ace certainly didn't!
Ace headed off to school and enjoyed his party and Mae and I had some time to play and just be silly after a few errands.    Before we left to go pick up Ace I made him a special lunch with a bit of a theme and more candy, because well it's a holiday so why not!?  :) 

After we got home the kids had a good time posing for some Valentine's photos with mom before nap time and we had a giggling good time. 

Now what about the husband?  He was very thoughtful this year and gave me a tutorial book on Lightroom that I had been wanting and he ordered me flowers.  The flowers were supposed to arrive on Monday of that week - because it was cheaper to deliver them then and well I'm all for that.  However, they called him and said they'd be unable to make it on Monday, could they deliver on Tuesday (Valentine's Day)  "I guess" was said with a sheepish smile.  :)   Which quickly turned to scowl when nothing arrived on VDay.

On Wednesday afternoon a delivery man comes stomping up the porch carrying a red vase with a dozen red roses.... um not even close.  48 hours late AND totally wrong?  An "upgrade" by florist standards, I suppose, but not what the husband ordered.   We were less than thrilled and I kindly (no really, kindly, it wasn't the delivery guy's fault!) informed the delivery man of this.    He was a third party to the florist and said that he had delivered to 5 other households and ALL of them were not happy and many had refused their deliveries because of incorrectness or extreme delay.  Later he must have informed the company because at 11:40pm that night I heard steps on my porch (a bit unnerving honestly)  after they retreated I went to look outside and there was another bouquet of flowers that looked more along the lines of what Loving Husband  had ordered.   I believe it was the florist's attempt to "make it right" we accepted that and didn't complain any further.   Besides they've been here nearly a week now and look how pretty they still look?    Thanks, LH!

The mantel a bit taken over by the kid's Valentines but that's ok. 
Although I won't lie the imbalance is driving me nuts! :)

Overall we had a wonderful Valentine's Day and enjoyed our time.   It's been a good week and these past few days Becky and Ben have been visiting!  Hooray!  More on that soon.  :)

Kissing Family

Photo Challenge Submission

The Paper Mama
(whose button doesn't want to work right now...)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ace's Valentines

With Ace in school it means that he gets to participate in a Valentine's Day party which means making Valentines for all of his classmates and passing them out.   Which also means for this mommy one more creative outlet!    Ace really has been into pirates lately.  He loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates,  he loves to dress up like a pirate, and let's not forget the 3rd birthday party that was pirate themed!    So when I came across Mer Mag's post with such cute little pirate themed Valentines I couldn't resist (she's got super cute girl pirates too!)  
I printed them out, cut them out, and then put Ace to work writing the "A" in his name.  I didn't want to force him to write his whole name.   After all this is his first exposure to Valentine's of this nature and I didn't want it to seem like work - I wanted it to be fun.   So without hesitation Ace sat down and wrote his "A" over and over 12 times.   He did a great job.  It honestly was the first time he has sat down and done something like this.  Although I school him regularly on various things - we haven't really started practicing writing his letters - so now that he's got the A pretty well down - I think we might start to practice with some of his other letters.

After he finished his portion of the Valentines I got started doing the rest.  I sewed on the little felt heart eye patch, wrote "You're GRRReat!" on all of them, finished writing out his name and eventually sewed a bag of M&Ms (Ace's choice) to the back of each one using a nice wave pattern.   

His Valentines were a hit (and the only 'homemade' ones)  He was very excited to tell me all about how they walked around with their Valentines and put one in each of the kids folders that were attached to their chairs.  I was glad he was so excited to share his treats.  :)   

Now for a side note... I don't seem to recall candy being as so much of a Valentine's Day thing - I remember a lot of little cards with various characters - but not so much the candy... anyone else remember the same from 'our' childhood or was I just among an unpopular crowd of stingy candy givers?  ;-)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ten on Ten - February

After a very long week of illness - and a day yesterday that I hope never to repeat - today was looking brighter, happier, sillier, and more peaceful.   While I still required a drive thru to feed our family for one meal - we didn't for all three and THAT is a big step toward returning to the land of healthy!
8:00am - I can't tell you how hard I laughed after snapping this picture. 

9:00 - I spent some time working on a shot for my 'Warmth' entry - I ultimately went a different route.

10:00 - Still playing in the warm clothes box that was consequently next to the shoe rack,
the boy was showing me how to stay warm. 
Although here he's trying to keep his my boot on.

11:00 - Mae was looking out the window. 
This was after giving herself a shiner by falling off the couch,
which she got onto by balancing on her bike.

12:00 - Before we had lunch we first had a tea party!  These were a few of our guests.

1:00 - We finally are dressed!  Time for some reading before naps.

2:00 - Mae decided she didn't need a nap since she took a car-nap, so while brother was
sleeping stalling like nobodies business from his nap... she had another tea party.

3:00 - A new puzzle arrived for Mae!  Her brother is obsessed with his floor puzzles, but she just gets told 'no' a lot around those and so I thought it only fair to get her one of her own - and she loves it.  I got it here.

4:00 - Ace and Mae spend the better part of the hour running around the living room chasing one another.

5:00 - Time to start dinner with some butternut squash ravioli and organic spinach that was steamed and then tossed with chopped garlic, sea salt, and toasted sesame oil.  The meal took ten minutes to make, no lie.

To see more 10 on 10 stop by a bit of sunshine


I loved all the entries from last week's challenge - such talented photographers out there!   Warmth is this week's challenge and I had a lot of ideas run through my head on how to portray 'warmth'  in fact I took a couple - there are so many ways to stay warm in the winter - depending on where you live that could in fact mean SUN!  Sadly our sun and warmth has retreated again and we're left to find other ways to make ourselves warm.  This week has been a week of indoor solitude with a melody of coughing fits to keep us company.  Yes we've been quite sick - but hopefully we're on the mend!

"Winter is the time for comfort,
for good food and warmth,
for the touch of a friendly hand
and for a talk beside the fire: 
it is the time for home." 
~Edith Sitwell

Shades of Autumn Photo Challenge

Also linking up for Favorite Photo Friday

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gray Hair

I think gray hair comes with the territory of motherhood.  Not just as a sign of aging, but also diligent parenting. My daughter is going to give them to me soon only give me more as she grows up.    Mae's antics are certainly going to have them growing full force!   Confused?  Thought Ace would be the cause of my gray hair?   He is 'the boy' after all - they do all sorts of wild crazy stuff.   While true - Mae seems to be a bit more daring earlier...   She also has a streak of naughty.   Yes, naughty... what on earth do I mean?   Well a picture (or several) are worth 1000 words... enjoy!

Why, yes that IS her scaling a gate - this was when she was 11 months old

All chairs must be pushed in. Thanks for the reminder, Mae!

Trash can lid needs to be fully closed...

She waited until mommy's hands were covered in raw chicken and then went to the cabinet and got out the cherrios and proceeded to dump them, consume them, and smile at me so proudly.

The next day wondering where they all went - having taken this out of the recycling box...
Mae certainly keeps us on our toes!  Whether she's climbing some where or getting place she should not go - she's just so darn cute it's impossible to be mad at her, but trust me she is never out of sight for long for fear of where she might venture or new height she might scale!

Look at that smirk!  She's plotting something, I just know it!
We love our little cutie and even amid her climbing, curiosity, and antics - she is worth every gray hair that forms on my head.  They are badges of honor that I've kept this little joyful explorer from harm! :)  I'll take them and cherish them.  Although if she'd stop climbing places that'd be ok with me too!!

 then, she {snapped}

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


She is emoting our sentiment.
We. Are. Sick. Bleh! Two sick kiddos awoke on Sunday morning...  coughs began and Ace ran a fever.  We skipped church and hunkered down at home.    Humidifier cleaned and working.   Half the night in our room and half in Ace's room. 

He sat on that bean bag 'playing' with his remote control car and watching Disney movies without budging for three hours...
Monday, Ace awoke still feverish and asked to go to the doctor to get medicine so that he'd feel better. Very sweet and sad. :(    Mood wise Mae was pretty happy.  Ace was a bit more static for the first half of the day. 

Mae didn't quite understand why her brother wasn't up playing around the house.   Eventually with some prodding by his sister (that top picture is after all her sitting ON him screaming) he found a bit more strength and decided to work on a puzzle.

While the two of them were low key - I was busy learning new things with focus, camera settings, etc and enjoyed that time to shoot the kids.  ;-)

And yes, there was major retouching done to 'wipe' his nose. 

Today though was a different story... Mae's cough sounds worse.  I woke up with a faucet for a nose and not feeling well. at. all.   I finished an entire box of klennex.   Ace's nose was a medley of colors and we called in sick to preschool.   They are sleeping now - and I'm headed there myself... hoping for forward progress out of the illness.   But man is M's cough sounding terrible...