Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Playing With Their Chuthers

The boys enjoy playing with their chuthers. I know that doesn't meet anything to you, but they say "their chuthers" instead of "each other." It is adorable. I should probably put an end to the misunderstanding they have, but it's hard. I am usually delighted when they yell at me to, "Mom, watch the two birds! They're hugging their chuthers in their nest!" and I turn to see the boys hugging in a giant pile of blankets. Who would want that to end? Not me. Not yet anyway.

Snuggling with their chuthers

In their imaginations with their chuthers

Space-walking with their chuthers

Playing under the rug with their chuthers

Playing dress-up with their chuthers

Eating spaghetti with their chuthers

Climbing a fence with their chuthers

Feeding cows with their chuthers

Laughing and sliding with their chuthers

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Belated Thanks

I've been slacking here on the blog front. Last year during Thanksgiving week I asked the boys every day what they were thankful for and their answers were amusing and cute. This Thanksgiving week we spent much of the time making our turkey placemats, which turned out great, despite way too many trips to Office Depot. We used them at our Thursday Thanksgiving dinner, our Friday Thanksgiving dinner, and I sent some to my parents and grandparents for their dinner. On Thanksgiving day I did manage to write down some of the things the boys said they were thankful for. Here they are, though I'm warning you that they were not in very serious moods when I asked them.


I'm thankful for teeth. I like them.
I'm thankful for funny things that make me go into space.
I'm thankful for you, Mom.


I'm thankful for toilet paper.
I'm thankful for computers.
I love books.

On Thursday we spent the day with Brian's relatives at his parents' house here. It is so nice to have them close to us! We had a yummy dinner and good backyard cousin playtime. The Redskins even won. Weird. Then Black Friday morning we drove down a traffic-less I-95 to my aunt and uncle's house in Richmond for our traditional second Thanksgiving dinner with them, my brother and his girlfriend and my cousin. Delicious. Saturday we spent most of the day at the Children's Museum of Richmond, which I strongly urge everyone with kids to visit. It's a great place at a bargain price. (Here is my review.) For kids who love to pretend, like ours do, you can't beat it.

It's been a nice Thanksgiving season. I am thankful for everything in my life, with the exception of that sink full of dishes and the less than clean kitchen floor.

Classic Clark Surprised Face- in the Richmond garden

Now where did that head go?

Waitin' for turkey with Uncle A

Making orange chocolate chip breakfast scones

Riding a dinosaur at the museum

Playing store with Aunt Anne

First-ever carousel ride! No idea why Clark wanted to ride the freakish bunny.

Dressing up in the theater

My little thespian

Putting on a puppet show. Spoiler: after the lion eats the bear,
the bear somehow comes back and eats the lion.

Art room!

Goofy grocery store employees

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What I Found at the Holiday Bazaar

I remember going to Christmas-y craft fairs with my mom when I was little, and it had been years since I'd been to anything like one of those small town craft fairs. So beautiful. So exciting. So cheesy. So unbelievable what people will try to sell. There's something about going to craft fairs that just makes me want to hug a rosy-cheeked grandma. And maybe hope that she's wearing a holiday scene cross-stitch on her sweater.

Last weekend I went to the the Joyful Noise Holiday Bazaar in Sterling. It was much classier than the craft fairs I remember from growing up. Maybe it was that I didn't have to be selling teasel trees (Yes, that's a thing, and yes I made a bunch of them. Also, they were beautiful.).

There was a kids' craft table at the bazaar, which is where my discovery of the Thanksgiving season was made. They were making placemats-- real simple, with pieces of printer paper deocrated by themed borders. One of the girls helping at the craft table had decorated one with a handprint as a turkey. After that, they popped them in laminating pouches (What?! I've been out of teaching too long!) So, the boys made those, and they were so cute, and so easy that I decided that we would make them for all of our family members for our two different Thanksgiving dinners we will be a part of this year. Then I decided I would make them for my parents and grandparents and mail them to Idaho.

This was perhaps an ambitious goal, but the boys, especially Cal, are so interested in coloring and in doing art, that they have had a blast doing all these. Which is good because we still have a bunch to go. I'm hoping that the placemats will survive this year and live for more Thanksgiving dinners down the road.

Craft fairs and bazaars are fabulous for getting ideas! Maybe some of you can use this idea too.

Calvin's turkey placemat from the bazaar

Hard at work: they're personalizing the backs of the placemats too.

Cal insisted on doing his own handprint on all his turkeys.

Though this looks like suicidal jellyfish on the back of one placemat,
 Cal tells me it's actually George Washington,
Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson,
and Teddy Roosevelt.

We used little spronge brushes to decorate the edges with paint.

Gammy's 9-legged mutant turkey isn't Cal's finest work...but I'm pretty
sure Gammy will love it. And he did it all by himself.

Now I need to go laminate them all...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Serve It Up: A Book Giveaway!

Most parents of toddlers have a hard time getting their kids to eat enough of the right foods. Getting my boys to eat vegetables is actually finally getting a little easier, but it has been a battle. I've spent plenty of time hiding veggies in their food in the form of purees, using pasta made with veggies, and mixing fruit and veggies in juices and smoothies. The best book I found while teaching myself how to cook for picky fingers was The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue by Missy Chase Lapine. She's got a helpful website with her books and other tools. 

I thought I'd share three of the things I've used the most in my veggie-quest: I water down V8 Fusion or an off-brand of the same, for the boys to drink. When I serve the boys pasta, which they love more than life, of course, I try to use pasta made with veggies. I know Barilla makes it, I'm not sure anyone else does. And the Sneaky Chef to the Rescue is full of great ideas for purees to have on hand and recipes to use them in.

V8 Fusion with veggies and fruit
Pasta made with veggies
Purees and sneaky recipes

Recently, Laura De Simone, a local physical trainer and author of the book Serve It Up contacted me about the possibility of doing a book giveaway for my readers. So I took a look at her book. Serve It Up isn't like anything I've seen before. Its focus is on portion control. Maybe you know what nutritious foods and kid-friendly foods look like but you're not sure how much is enough and how much is too much for your kids. Her book breaks portions down by age but also by how active your kids are and then suggests exactly what is a healthy amount of each food for each meal. You can take a look at the description of her book and then just leave a comment below to be entered in the giveaway. If you have a Facebook profile, also go like Whispers & Shouts. I'll have one of the boys draw a winner on Friday.

* I should mention, I am in no way being reimbursed by anyone here, other than the free book to a reader. I'm simply sharing what has worked for me and helping a local author with some exposure.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dawnee Fell Over

It had been a little over a year since my last seizure. I guess I was about due. I forgot to take my meds last Sunday night but remembered first thing Monday morning and took them. But it was too late and the meds didn't help. I had all three kids at home and didn't feel a tremor or anything coming on. Just nothing.

It was the usual super-confusion afterward, as I tried to desperately remember what day it was, what was happening, etc. I remember waking up on the floor and seeing Calvin hiding behind a box. He was patched and didn't have his glasses on-- which means that he couldn't see much of anything. I wonder in what order everything happened, but I'll never know. Did he willingly take his glasses off so he didn't have to watch me? Who knows. I asked the boys if I had a seizure, and they kept saying no, that everything was fine. I quickly got on Gtalk and told Brian and I emailed Alex's dad right away too. I don't have any memory of doing either of those things, but thanks to technology, it's all here.

The transcript to Brian was:

me: yey, i had seix;ure. Ca yuoiu copme home?

Brian: Okay. Will do.

me: THanks.

Brian: ARe you okay?

me: yeah i just feel very uconfused.

The email I wrote to Alex's dad was titled "siexuree." And its contents were:

"Is had a seizure this morning. Plaease come and get Alex wen you can. I'm so sorry. Everyne is fine."

Even though it's a little creepy, it's pretty comforting to know that I'm aware of what happens, even though I have no memory of being aware. And apparently spelling goes out the window when my brain freaks out. Understandable.

So, anyway, I seem to have pulled myself up, noticed a smoking pan on the stove and proceeded to finish cooking French toast for the kids, set them up to the table and served breakfast. Brian came home and I slept most of the day. The seizure headaches and post seizure confusion are intense. It was great to have Brian so close that he could be here so quickly.

Last year the boys talked about my seizure. But this year they will not, and I find it curious. Last year afterward they kept saying, "Mommy, you had a seizure," but this year they seem to have either genuinely not witnessed it (which just seems impossible) or they are choosing to deny it.

But, Alex is not in denial. In fact, she has the most insight of anyone into what happened. She's been telling her parents that "Dawnee fell over," "Dawnee knocked over a chair," "Dawnee was shaking." She even did the motions.

I worry about the boys and how they will handle my seizures. I can't imagine what it would be like to witness my mom having a seizure. I like to think it will make them stronger. Maybe it will make them creative.

I thought what Cal drew tonight fit well with the topic.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday Thesicle

Dad doesn't just make dinner; he makes Mega Double Cheeseburger dinner


Late last Friday I began writing about the good day we had just had. For some reason I woke up that morning wanting to teach the boys everything I could. That was the day that they wrote their stories. It was a good day, full of unusual patience by all parties involved. All day I wanted to be teaching the boys new things. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a day like it before. I didn't care that the house was a giant mess, I just wanted to keep going. The boys were fun and focused and they soaked up everything we did. It started when we were talking over oatmeal and sprinkles about The Gruffalo, as is common for us to do. I told them what a main character is and they figured out that in The Gruffalo, it’s the mouse. I even said the word protagonist to them, but then thought they might get beat up in kindergarten for saying that word, so I toned it down.

They dictated their stories to me, with main characters, settings, conflicts, and resolutions. We did a sorting activity that had them figuring out what various groupings had in common with each other, We did a reading lesson where they learned the sound th and read more and more words. We even did an “engineering” game that I thought up with wooden blocks. And they stuck with it for an extraordinarily long time.

For the sorting game they came up with some silly categories, like "Things I Like," but also "Things with Wheels" and "Things at a Pond."

Pile of cut-outs for our sorting game
Things that go up in the sky


Things with wheels

Trying to make towers the same height with the same blocks

Copying each other's patterns

We watched Sid the Science Kid, which was about eating healthily. So we talked about the food groups and nutrition. Clark ate an entire apple and a half to show off his balanced meal. Cal ate just one slice after first pouting in bed about having to do it. We were going to work on their martial arts  moves but ran out of steam. When Brian came home he took the boys to the grocery store and to the driving range while I went running and vacuumed. I did not do those two things at the same time, just FYI.
All this made me think that I really need to record here some of the learnin’ things we’ve been up to. So here are the ones I took pictures of from the past few weeks or so.
In our little preschool group we did an activity with the book Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert.
Veggies and fruits in a pillowcase for the kids to touch without seeing

Philip did eat his alphabet!

Talkin' textures with Clark and a potato

More veggie and fruit touchin'

Time to color!

Drinking our alphabet via V8 Fusion!

Letters and words tracing

We have a little scribe on our hands!

Being the Gruffalo

Building a baseball field and calling the plays

Made a giant cookie ice cream sandwich cake for Dad

Geocaching with Aunt Bean!

Explaining the tedious rules of Candyland to Alex

How do you break open a walnut, Missy?

How to paint a mini pumpkin: start with three cute pumpkins

What's inside a pumpkin?

I don't really know...about...this....

Be-fanged Clark the Shark!

Final product

How to brush a girl's hair

Tea time etiquette

Pinkies up!

Playseum art!

Aunt Bean's bedtime stories

Watching that astronaut movie (Apollo 13) on TV!
No time to go to the bathroom? Bring the potty chair to you!

Becoming Abe and George

Finding groceries from a list (at The Playseum)
George Washington the supermarket clerk

My friend Susan's cookie craft to go with
the book Cookies by Amy K. Rosenthal

Accompanying chocolate chip numbers activity

And edible cookie pops!

Building a kite with Aunt Bean
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