Friday, January 29, 2010

Happy Kansas Day!

Today was Sophia's lucky sharing day at school. In her kindergarten....a lucky day involves placing a "secret" item in the sharing can, writing three clues to share with the class, and reading the clues and trying to "stump" the class. Sophia chose her valentine's snow globe for her special surprise, and wrote out her clues on a heart-shaped paper, of course! The lucky day person also gets to supply the snack for the day. Because today was Kansas Day.... Sophia requested sunflower cookies instead of her usual cheez-its or bunny crackers! I was happy to oblige....another opportunity to practice my royal icing!!! :)

Joe got a taste of an extra cookie after lunch....he had lots of fun picking off the yellow icing....and then decided he had had enough. No need to actually eat the cookie... it was just fun to play with! :)

Besides the excitement of her lucky day... the rest of today was pretty uneventful....another cold and snowy day INSIDE...uggggh. Dear Mr. Groundhog.....I hope you will tell us that spring is near! We spent most of the day playing in the basement, making valentine decorations for the magnet board, and reading. I should say we spent some of the day doing those things. Much of my day was spent refereeing arguments. Oh my.....these two have been at each other's throats all week. Taking each other's toys, running cars into each other and I have even seen a few hits. Oh my!!!!! I lost my patience by 5:30 today,.....gave them a grouchy lecture and sent them back down the basement with stern words that there was to be NO MORE SCREAMING. Of course by the time Daddy came home....they were playing like angels. Hmmmmmm... isn't that always the way it works?

I feel like doing a "huffy" breath...just as Junie B talks about in her books! Sophia and I are on Book 9 by the way in the series. She LOVES these books....and I admit... they are kind of addictive. I read at least three chapters to her a day, but often when J is sleeping...she reads when I read the next chapter to her...she already knows what has happened. I can't believe how well she is reading and how much she LOVES it. In kindergarten and already reading, learning about the New Testament, and greater than and less than signs. Boy things sure have changed since I was in kindergarten!

Joseph is taking after his sister in the reading department....he often picks up a book and just mumbles to himself like he is actually reading the words. I can't get him to sing the alphabet song with me yet, but he does love to shout out letters during Wheel of Fortune....yes... I admit....we sometimes have that show on after dinner.....It's a little bit educational, right??? It's kind of fun trying to see who can figure out the puzzle first.

Ahhh....peace and quiet...the kids are tucked in bed and hopefully fast asleep. I hope their pink little cheeks are just chapped dry skin and not a sign of another nasty virus setting in....because tomorrow we have a date with Elmo, Big Bird, Ernie, Bert and the rest of the Sesame Street Crew...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Out with the old...

and in with the new...

I loved my French country chairs and still do...BUT I did not love their "crumb attracting" wicker seats! I tried my best to shake those crumbs out.... vacuum them daily, and yes I even tried toothpicks to get those stubborn little ones that just wouldn't budge. Joseph has now decided he prefers feeding himself entirely which pretty much means the majority of his food ends up on or in his chair. I just couldn't handle the crumb build up in these chairs. It was time to move on... to an all wood chair...good-bye wicker, hello easy to clean ladder backs. Change is difficult for getting used to the darker color and the height of these chairs may take a bit of time...but overall I am happy and thrilled with their easy clean up. The arm chairs are not due to arrive till February... it will be a Valentine's surprise for me... I guess! As will the minor kitchen remodel if I survive the insanity of removing everything from my cabinets. Still not quite sure how I will survive the no baking during that time...maybe I can borrow someone else's kitchen?????

And because chairs don't make for the best pics... here's a few of my little guy before his second semester of kindermusik...but this time it is with Miss Trilla and at a more "child-appropriate" time:)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mr. Mischievous

I can't quite think of a better word to describe my little man at this moment other than this....Mr. Mischievous! He is learning to be sneaky and even a little bit deceptive....but that cute little smile always gets me..even when I try my hardest to stand my ground!!! Today I was in the basement bagging up some cookies....( I pretty much have to bring all of my work to the basement these days just so I can keep an eye on this guy) and I walked to the other room where I had left my scissors. When I returned.... the Mr. had reached and grabbed some of my cookies and was playing with them...lining them up on some of my storage boxes just as he lines up his cars. At first... I was a little upset because as I was trying to pick up some of the crumbs he had made on the floor, he cleverly crawled up to my desk and began finding all sorts of "fun toys." He especially loved my fake hydrangeas, and kept putting them up to his nose and smelling him. It was one of those moments when I was thrilled that I happened to have my camera just a couple of feet away!

So my plan was to freeze these cookies and save them for Valentine's Day...and share pictures then...but these were too funny to pass up...the way he manipulated them just like they were his toys...and man is he quick!!!! Anyway... as you can see I went for an "out of the box" Valentine's design....."You're Dino-Mite" dinosaur cookies and "Love Bug" cars! I am happy to say that thanks to I have seen some improvements in my royal icing. I made some changes to the original recipe and have noticed less air bubbles as a result! Yay!!!! Practice makes ALMOST perfect, right???

My next project....because you know I always have a new one in my head before the old is complete.....will be for Kansas Day this Friday. Miss Sophia has her "lucky" day at school and gets to bring in treats. Can you guess what her treat is going to be??Can't wait to share pictures of these little guys!!!

And yes... I do have other projects BESIDES one being getting rid of our way over-used sofa!!!!!!!!!!! I admit we may have been a bit hard on this guy.... ie... the dog....the husband who too often falls asleep on it. Myself??? Well, I probably don't ever sit down long enough to sit on it....but I'm sure I've contributed to it's downfall in some way or another. Anyway....I will be sofa searching in full force especially after having completed last weekend's long awaited purchase....will share pictures soon:)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Not my cup of tea

I am incredibly lucky that the hubby doesn't have a job where traveling is frequent. I realize this now after being a "single" parent for a few days. I mean... I am home each and every day and could do the whole day's routine in my sleep...but by 5:30, it sure is nice to have that extra set of hands.

The winter doldrums are still going strong here. I know the snow is melting but that is not enough for me.... I am CRAVING sunshine and warm temperatures. Walking to the mailbox with the kids is just not enough fresh air for me...though yesterday it was awfully exciting for Joseph when we stopped to watch a REAL cement mixer truck in action. I think the workers thought we were crazed because we stood there for at least 10 minutes just watching it turn and turn and turn!! As I always say.... it's the little things....

We've already made s'mores this week, learned how to cut paper snowflakes, decorated foam snowmen with sequins and markers and watched Alvin and the Chipmunks Valentine's cartoon (I still remember this from when I was little....and it's still as good as I remember it). I think I am running out of winter projects and it is only January. Uh-oh! Guess I'll have to say a quick prayer before the groundhog decides whether or not spring will be around the corner!

I was pretty tuckered tonight by J's story imagine the smile on my face when Sophia asked if she could read to him???? She read the book word for word and J couldn't have listened more intently!

Okay...not too motivated tonight to work on any it may be an "off to bed early night" to snuggle with my freshly bathed Willie Bear.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Joining the 100 club!

Sophia is nearing her 100th Day of school in early February. When I taught... I remember my kids being really excited about this milestone.... or maybe they were excited about the 100 days celebration party we had on that day. When Sophia came home last week with a homework assignment to write all of her numbers 1-100... I thought it would be a nightmarish task. This girl likes to color, she likes to read and read and read. Numbers have never been her favorite. But I was mistaken...hugely mistaken. This girl set right to work. First we did numbers 1-10, then 1-20, and today she just hit the ground running completing the 1-50 and 1-100 pages lickety split. This girl has some drive. It seems like it was just a few short weeks ago that I was telling Brett I was soooo worried that some of her numbers were still backwards. Maybe she was just playing tricks on me...because everything today was perfect. I'm so proud of her and I absolutely LOVE her determination at every task she undertakes!

Also had to get a picture of her "craftiness" from her play date today. She was so excited about these foam hearts that she made at her friend's house today that when I picked her up...she had already envisioned just how she would hang them from her bed once she glued them together. Have I mentioned this girl is amazing...because she is. She is stubborn and headstrong and unrelenting.....but AMAZING! I love her!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Reach out

First things first....I can't imagine what the people of Haiti must be going through right now. I feel guilty complaining about my sinus headache today when I look at the pictures of the complete destruction and despair that has overtaken this country. Please take a moment to look at this site. I'm sure any amount of help would go to great use. There is a link here where you can give a donation.

On a much much lighter note...we did make it to Mr. J's well visit today....though it probably wasn't a 100% well visit. He is still recovering from his nasty tummy bug. I wasn't too excited about making the trip out to the doctor today when he still wasn't feeling well...and really wasn't excited about the traffic jam on the highway. But the topper on the cake.....when we arrived, I gave Joseph a few saltines in the office (he was pretty cranky...and still not feeling great). He was happily munching away on a few of them when the nurse doing the paperwork informed me that I should be careful about giving him crackers on the examining table (which by the way was not covered with the typical paper) because "the next patient may be allergic and could go into anaphylactic shock!" Ok....people...this is a pediatrician's office right?? What is this world coming to...first no snacks allowed in church and now no snacks for sick kids at the doctor's office. As if that wasn't enough... they convinced me to still give him his hib vaccine even though he wasn't 100% (this was his 4th and final dose of this vaccine). The same nurse I mentioned earlier proceeds to him and then informs me (when he is already in full cry mode) "Oops I only got half of it in because he moved, so I'll have to do it again." Are you kidding me????? Could this appointment get any worse? Well, thankfully...the Dr. came back in and said half the dose would be enough. Whew! And maybe I'm a little glad that he only got half because he is already acting like a TERROR ... I can't imagine how cranky he would be with the full dose. By the way..Joe's response after the shot...lots of screaming and shouting "JOE MAD!" I guess he is getting older....he used to never cry with his he is older and wiser. Poor guy!

Okay...the moment we've all been waiting for....

Here are Joseph's 2-year stats:
Weight: 26 lbs 4 oz (26th percentile)
Lenght: 33 inches (14th percentile)

(So his percentiles for weight and height have almost reversed since his 18 month appointment, see below)

18 month stats
Weight: 22 lbs 13 oz (11th percentile)
Height: 31 1/2 inches (23rd percentile)
Head Circumference : 18.58 inches (31st percentile)

And now.... I wasn't too sure that I would get any good pictures of my little guy today, but after we came home and I changed him into some "germ-free" clothes...he was ALL SMILES. Can't decide which one I like more...

I can't forget to explain this picture....

This is the book the doctor gave to Joseph at his appointment today. Can you imagine the surprise on his face when he saw this???? It almost was enough to make him forget about his boo-boo...almost!

And last but certainly not least...let's not forget a picture of Sophia today. She got to ride in Daddy's truck both to and from school today! What a treat!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

He's Back!

Poor little Joe....just a few days after his BIG 2 party....came down with a yucky tummy bug....similar to what Sophia battled for her entire Christmas break. GEEZ...enough already! Poor little guy...just wanted to lay on the sofa with his car blankie and binks (yep... I gave in for a few days)... Today some improvement, though.... we saw some smiles when Daddy brought home his favorite QT ice and some Grandma's cookies. (Why is it that my kids LOVE store bought cookies when we always have oodles of home-made cookies all over our house???)

After I decided we just couldn't take anymore Max and Ruby and Franklin episodes... I lured him into my bedroom with his ball hopper toy so I could change my sheets. He had some fun with this and wasn't shy about giving me some big grins!!

We also read lots of books together. I love how he now points to things he sees in books and says.. "I have that." He is really conversing with us a lot these days....I guess he always has...we just couldn't understand Joe language! He also loves to sit in his rocking chair with me in his bedroom after his nap and look out the window and watch for cars to come by. We like to guess what color car is going to drive by next. Today....can you imagine his excitement when not a car, but a SCHOOL BUS came by??? Oh my! The little things make for the biggest smiles!

Well, while the Mr. and I were busy car watching, Sophia had some surprises of her own...After school, she got to go to Yiayia's and help make Pappou's birthday cake! She was thrilled that she got to pick out the sprinkles and candles. Even though Joe and I didn't get to join the party....Sophia brought us some sure looks yummy! Hope you had a Happy day, Pappou!

If we are feeling better tomorrow....Joseph will have his 2 year well check. Can't wait to see how much he's grown!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Birthday Boy

I love to plan birthday parties. I love to make the invitations, plan the cake, and make the decorations. I knew months before Joseph was turning two exactly what kind of party he was going to have.... or so I thought. This little guy has loved owls from the beginning. Every time he saw one in a book or even pointed to one on the toile wallpaper in my bathroom....he would get so excited and "HOO" as loud as he could. The birthday invitation would read... Look WHOOOO is turning TWO! I had already designed an owl invitation in my head and found perfect matching owl wrapping paper at Barnes and Noble. It would have been a perfect party....EXCEPT.... a little over a month before the big day... I realized....something else had replaced Joe's love for owls..... something we saw many of each and every day as we drove Sophia to school....something big and yellow.....that's right.... something called a SCHOOL BUS! I have never seen a child get so excited about a school bus. Little J can hardly contain himself when he sees one roll by! I love to hear him yell BUSSSSSSSSSSS! Soooo.... I couldn't disappoint this little perfect party plans.....kaput....down the drain.

So... I began my research....I searched all over the internet but could not find bus wrapping paper...bus cake pans, or bus paper plates (with the exception of some discontinued Magic School Bus plates selling for $8 on Ebay...which by the way I was suckered into!!) Oh my... I really had to start from scratch. An owl party definitely would have been easier because every where I went.... all I saw... owl thank you notes, owl paper, owl decorations....but for my little guy.... I knew a bus party it had to be. So I set to work....decided to make TWO pound cakes to form a 3-dimensional bus cake. I made bus invitations, feverishly cutting the wheels and each window. I found yellow table cloths and paper plates. I made red stop sign cookies, bus cookies and cupcakes for the cake walk (this was Sophia's contribution to the party). I decided a cake walk was a must have after reading Junie B Jones with her and realizing that she had never actually done a cake walk before! All this work...paid off in the end. The smile on Joseph's face when he saw his bus cake was all I needed.

Here are some pictures of the cake in progress:

Here is the invitation (the front at least). I'll refrain from posting the back side, Brett, since it does show our address!!! But the back side pretty much looked like a bus ticket with each guest's name printed, the seat number (of course being 2), the fare (2 cents) and the destination being "Joe's Party Station!"

Here are a few pictures from the day before the party! I was trying to secretly put out the favors in the dining room...but I can't sneak anything by Mr. Joe. He was peeking at me when I turned around to take a picture of the table! And I intended to save the cake's appearance for the Big Day...but that didn't work out here he is seeing his cake for the first time and even waving to the people on the bus! He was driving, of course!

A few more table decorations.... and a picture of the music cd I made for the cake walk, entitled Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Every song made mention of some sort of transportation. Pretty perfect for the boy who goes nuts over anything and everything that has wheels!

I love to capture the excitement before the party. And I also love to watch the kids waiting for the guests to arrive... Apparently I took a similar picture last year on Joseph's birthday as they were watching and waiting. The first picture is from last year's party and the second is from this year's party. They were even standing in the same position!! But this year they both looked a bit taller and notice the winter wonderland outside!!

Before all of the festivities began.... somehow.... we were able to get a family picture! Yep... all of us in one place at the same time... more like a miracle!!!!

The kids had a lot of fun on the cake walk. We had been practicing all week! (The first picture is actually a "practice cake walk" and even Joseph figured out how to do it!! I knew Sophia desperately wanted to win some with the help of my mom.... I happened to stop the music at just the right time:) and she WON! I wish I had a good picture of the look on her face! She was so thrilled!

Because I had to wake J up early from his nap for the party....he was a bit more subdued than he usually is. He looked pretty tired in all of the cake pictures... but I guess this was a good thing because he did actually blow out his candle with the help of his big sister and he sat long enough to eat some cake and ice cream!

We ended the party with presents after Joseph decided to begin ripping into all of them before any of us even made it into the room! I little guy can't wait forever, right? He was fascinated with his cement mixer truck from Omi and Papa and the yellow car from Auntie E. He loved the wooden bull-dozer and tow truck from Thea and hardly could contain himself when he got his own wooden bus from Yiayia! Mama and Daddy and Sophia gave him an is way noisy....but he LOVES it and I LOVE watching him push it around the house! Of course he got some darling clothes, and I made sure to buy him another bus book! You know me and my infatuation with children's books! Sophia was a HUGE helper during the present opening! She had just as much fun as Joseph.

In the last picture Joseph is beginning to line up all of his cars and trucks. He loves to do this. We will often be cleaning up dinner and when I look down to see what he is doing, I see a neatly spaced line of all of his trucks and cars. Oh my...I guess our neat freakishness is wearing off on him. I guess we'll have to be careful about that! :) He also was very intrigued with the manual that came with the ambulance because it showed all of the other toys that brand carries. He recognized that his old garbage truck was in there too...and kept turning the pages and saying " I have that." It's amazing how he puts new words together everyday!

Whew! Not sure if anyone is still reading at this point...but I didn't want to forget a thing! I'm so glad our little 2-year old had a good time! He is the sweetest thing ever. Joseph, you are the constant smile in my heart!!!! Hope you had a great day! We love you!