February 27, 2014

Trying Again

After our finger paint mess up you would think that I would stay away from homemade arts and cracks supplies for awhile, but I didn't. 
A few days after I threw out our paints I decided to try my hand in homemade play-dough.  Much more fool proof right?
The kids love being part of everything.  From mixing the ingredients to adding colors, if they are awake they are right there will me.
And between the color ice balls outside, the paints, making colored mints to eat and now play dough, my kids are getting to know that adding food coloring to anything ends up being fun.
Abigail really loves all different kids of arts and cracks but let me tell you, clay is right up Ethan's alley. Still on the young side to really love coloring, needs help with stickers and a short attention span for paint all led us to clay for him.  The hands on, easy to mold, love to destroy and the chance to hold a rolling pin and knife make this a fun time indeed.
And just as Ethan is learning the basics, Abigail is learning from her artsy daddy the joy of making more and more things.  We found this homemade clay is very soft and easier for the kids to play with beyond snakes and snowmen.  We cracked out the cookie cutters and the fun was great.
Yes, we did have a failure when it came to our homemade paints but not all new things end bad.  This view proves that all things should at least be tried, you never know when you might just find the new prefect thing.


Our little Ethan is far from a baby these days.  He is growing, reaching, talking, and stretching into the little boy he is to become.  I could write and write about some of the things he does these days but instead thought I would fill this post with videos of a few things he is up to.
I hauled the outdoor play gear inside a few weeks ago.  When it got put away in the fall Ethan was just walking.  You can imagine his joy at the discovery of things that are OK to climb and slide on during these winter months.
Ethan has also started to have his own kind of dance moves recently as well.  He also has a funny walk where he pulls up his shoulders and puts his hand out behind himself palms up.  Oh how he makes us laugh.
And he is also content in just playing, exploring and giving us his winning smiles all day long.  What a fun adventure this little man is going to take us on.

February 26, 2014

A Man Willing To Crawl

I knew when I met Josh 10 1/2 years ago that I had found someone great.  But as we get close to our 8th anniversary in May I have been thinking a lot about the past years.  Oh, there have been hard time for sure but there are also memories of great times.  The growth that we have from where we have been is priceless.
 And as I watch Josh each day as an employee, a husband and a dad I am so very thankful, more and more.
 I am so blessed that I not only found a man who takes amazing care of me but also of our children.  When he is home he is there for them, leading them, teach them, guiding them, pushing them, protecting them and showing them that life can be fun.
Who knows what the future will hold but I do know that with Josh by my side we can meet any challenge that comes our way.

February 25, 2014

A Field Trip

The kids and I have been blessed so much this year by a little group we are part of called Mooseketeers.  This weekly group meets at a lovely lady's home where for two hours we do crafts, read books, have snack and play.  The host and leader are both grandma's and lovingly take us all in (5 moms and 9 kids) each week.  I am blown away by their generosity, hospitality and their care to all of the details, they provide the supplies, plan for the week and snacks.  It is a wonderful time of the week where I don't have to be coming up with the plan and ways to keeps my two entertained.   
 This past week our little crew went on a field trip, to the Fire Station.  Abigail was excited for days leading up to this trip.  When we were there my two little people were big eyed and as quiet as mice.  They were so in awe of it all.  I do believe the best part was when the fire lady dressed up in her full gear (mask/tank and all) to show the kids that she wasn't scary.  They worked with the kids teaching them that if they ever saw a fireman dressed like this they should run to them for rescue, not away from them in fright.  
 My little Ethan stood like this, hands in the pouch of his overalls, for about a 1/2 hour as we wandered around the fire station floor looking at all the trucks.  He loved when they turned all of the lights on the trucks.
The kids were even allowed to climb in the back seat of the big ladder truck to see how the firemen keep their air tanks all strapped in and ready.
 From fire hoses, fire poles (the kids loved watching the firemen slide down the pole), axes, and helmets the kids took it all in.  Since we have been home Abigail has worn her souvenir fire hat daily and has rescued me numerous times.  My favorite part is when she has me lay on the couch, since it is the "bed" in the ambulance, for a ride to the hospital.  I can handle that kind of rescue.  
I do have to laugh though that Ethan got the most excited on our tour not by all the trucks.  Nope, he loved when he spotted this pile of "balls."  

February 24, 2014

Baby Belle

Abigail is loving watching me and learning during this pregnancy.  I mentioned last week that Abigail says she has a baby in her belly just like mama.  She has decided that her baby is named Belle.  She has declared that this is a "pretty" name while the name Mama and Daddy are picking for Mama's baby isn't that pretty.  Humm.  Each night when we pray before bed we have to pray for baby Belle.
This picture is what really got me laughing though.  Abigail has decided that most of her pants are not comfortable.  Nope she has to wear this pair of pants almost daily because she can pull them up really high over her belly just like mama wears her pants.  

February 21, 2014

Fulfilling Winter Time Dreams

The other day Josh unpacked a few of his plain, simple lego blocks to play with Abigail.  She had a good time but we found her fingers are just a little too small to start playing with Daddy's lego lot right now.  She and Ethan still enjoy playing with their bigger toddler blocks and the doll house people get new things to live in all the time.  But that little time with Abigail gave Josh a small sweet taste of his love and since then it is often on his mind.
This husband of mine loves to create, build and design with legos.  So every few nights, after the kids are in bed, he will slip downstairs and I will hear the rustling of legos being moved this way and that for hours.  Those hours down there make him so very happy.  He dreams of the day when the kids are older that we can build a lego table that will take up the entire basement.  He has the design in mind with pop up holes throughout so that the lego fun can be played all over.  Right now these little pieces are still too precious to share with "stop putting that in your mouth" children.  But this small bit of time out of storage works for now.  And with a new book from the library to enjoy in a quiet house I am content as well.  Oh winter days.

February 20, 2014

Growth And Math Questions

The kids had their weight and height taken yesterday.  They are right on track with being just about the same weight wise.  With their clothes on, minus shoes, Abigail was 28 lbs 3 oz and Ethan was 28 lbs 5 oz.  
 Height, now that is a different story but when it comes to them tackling each other during the day I really don't need to worry about who might do more damage.  The one joy of being in the same weight class right?
 And just as these two grow so does our new little lady.  She also had an appointment this week and her heart beat and size seem right on track.  Abigail and Ethan went to the appointment with me.  My dr's office was so gracious, even happy, to see me haul my crew in that I felt so thankful.  How wonderful to have an office take such good care of me and my three babes over the past four years.  Abigail loved hearing her sister's heart beat.  Yesterday after a bit of hight activity she comes running to me and says with her hand over her heart, "mama, feel.  The baby in my belly is kicking just like yours."  There is nothing we can say to her to convince her that only one baby will be born in a few months.  
And as the months tick by we are starting to get into the beginning stages of new infant readiness.  The first step is car seats.  With the desire not to buy a new car we instead need to figure out the exact dimensions of all possible car seats and how we can fit three into the back of our jeep compass.  Last night Josh took measurements and we are looking at different brands that might leave us one inch of extra space.  Humm, is that cutting it too close??     

February 19, 2014

An Arts And Cracks Failure

The other day I decided it would be super fun to make homemade finger paints.  The internet is filled with ideas, recipes and inspiration.  Who needs to buy paint when you just need four "commonly found kitchen" ingredients.
 So with that the kids and I set out to create our very own finger paints.  The kids had so much fun mixing the ingredients together and helping me separate out "paint" out into our special paint cups (much thanks to Grammie Klynstra for those great containers).
The kids and I had fun mixing our four food colors into ten different colors.  Oh the painting we were going to make.  Then I watched as everything separated out.   Our paint was a 1/2 watery 1/2 gooey mess.  Humm.  The kids watched as I hymned and hawed over what to do.  I searched the too-much-for-my-own-good resources of the internet and decided that yes, my best option was to dump it all out.  Discouraging yes.  Will I try it again, I don't know.  Just goes to show that making something new has to be part of an arts and cracks project because in the end that might be all you get. 

February 18, 2014

Something New In The Kitchen

The other day I decided to try making something new in the kitchen.  It was sticky, gooey, and tasted oh so good.  It was a type of sour cream cookies made to taste like the ones I loved when I was a child but with a lot more work of shaping and molding.  
Needless to say the kids had a great time, they managed to get the sticky batter everywhere.  Josh decided he wasn't that big of a fan (must not of had sour cream cookies as a child).  And I realized that I loved the cookies too much and they really didn't stick around the house all that long.  As I look back on my new recipe I have realized that nope, it isn't for us at all right now.  Too gooey and much to much temptation.  But fun to do something new.  Chocolate chip cookies can certainly get boring to make at times!

February 17, 2014

Next Thing Done

 There has been a lot of little things on our house to do list for awhile but one real big item.  Or maybe instead of big I should say, one really noticeable item that has needed completed.
 Our basement stairs.  The basement has been finished now for a year and a half and the upstairs has had flooring for almost four years.  The space in between, well it has just been a someday.  
So the other night we took a family adventure to the carpet store.  (just a side note, I have great memories of going to visit my parent's friend who worked the carpet area of Sears, I think, when I was a kid.  My parents used to talk FOREVER when we would be there but I remember playing amongst all of the huge hanging rugs with my brother and sister.  So when we went the other night to the store and the kids got restless after 2 seconds we took the kids down to the remnant/hanging rug part of the store and they then played for a hour.  Any place can be a playground, right).

We came home with our piece of carpet and the next morning Josh got to work.  This is really one of the first big projects Ethan has observed his dad complete and let me tell you, he was so excited to be part of the action.  
 We all know Josh is so very good at so very many things but the one thing he has never done in this house is lay carpet, let alone done stairs.
 And can I tell you that he did an amazing job!  His "helper" was such a help that I actually took the kids out of the house for a few hours and we came home to this.  What a difference.
Being the woodworker that he is there had to be some woodwork involved of course.  The picture I showed you on Wednesday was all of the pieces of poplar that he bought, cut, sanded and treated to fit each stair.  I can say that I have a smile on my face EVERY TIME I go up and down those stairs each day (which is about 50+ times).  Yes there are small things here and there that need done but this thing, this noticeable to anyone who comes in the door item, is done and oh it feels so good.

February 14, 2014

From The Land Of Pink Sugary Fun

We have a little activity group we go to each Thursday afternoon.  When we arrived yesterday I was the only mom who didn't bring a bag full of valentines for all of the other kids.  Is it bad of me that I didn't feel bad?  I love different holidays.  With little kids they are so fun to bring out the simple qualities the smaller, special days bring.  But this week of Valentine's Day has tired me out a bit.  
We have heart cookies with pink frosting, we made pink mints, we wore clothing that had hearts on it and we talk about how to share love (like bringing neighbors plates of heart cookies and mints).  I am thankful that today is the day, a day to celebrate love and really the peace that this family can have in that love.  What a blessing to be in such secure love with those around us.  But when tomorrow comes I don't mind turning my mind to thoughts of green and March and St. Patricks day.  I think for this year while the kids are young we might skip over President's day.  To this tired mama it is too hard to make mints red white and blue all at once.

February 13, 2014

Those Pretend Sick Days

We have been very blessed this winter with many healthy/happy days.  We have had days of feeling tired but no real cold/flu bugs have hit us yet.  There was a day in mid-January when Abigail threw up. We don't really know what it was all about or where it came from but it came, was hard, and left all in just a few short days.  During that time when Abigail didn't feel her best, life was a little different for her.  She got to eat crackers whenever she wanted, she could drink ginger ale, and I would wrap her up with a blanket on the couch and give her a huge pile of books to look through to keep her still and rested.  
And where I feel very thankful that we have had healthy days and so few of those sick days, they can sometimes be viewed as a treat.  So recently the kids have had "pretend sick days."  I shouldn't really say days as much as pretend sick 1/2 hours or so.  Times when those treats sound nice because really who doesn't want to be cared for like that, especially if you are feeling perfectly fine.  So Abigail will announce, "Oh, I don't feel so good.  I think I need to lay on the couch.  Mama, come care for me."  So I laugh, bring a blanket, gather the books and Abigail will settle in for a short time of "being sick."  Soon Ethan joins her and they spend some time looking at books, tugging the blanket and resting.  Then really not long after it has started I hear, "we feel all better mama."  To that I exclaim, oh good, get up and play now.  And the day goes on.  You know, if these little bodies of mine stay healthy I will play pretend sick day anytime.  Much easier than the real thing for sure.  

February 12, 2014

A House Project

After a long time of taking "a break", Josh has recently been busy with a new house project.  I know what you are thinking, another project...is your house ever going to be done.  The answer to that is, soon.  
So as Josh keeps going with the work, I will take pictures and give you an update soon of the improvements.  

February 11, 2014

Dinner In The Yard

Like most years we have a pile of wood scraps and brush from the yard that have waited for a good winter day.  Summers in Fairbanks are so dry that there are almost always threat of fires and we can't have bonfires.  But in the winter the cold weather and all the snow makes things a little safer.
 So the other day Josh shoveled all of the snow off of our current pile
 And piled in the birch bark for starter.
 It was time to introduce the kids to bonfires.
 Even with the cold, the fire kept us warm for several hours of enjoyment.
 As the original fun started to die off we brought out the hot dogs and marshmallows to roast.
 The kids weren't too sure of my very dark hot dogs but did eat them.  I knew they were in for some teaching when I presented Abigail with a beautiful golden marshmallow and she opted for an uncooked one right out of the bag.
 A few hours of fresh air, warm fire and climbing around on the snow meant for some worn our kids.
Maybe someday our kids will visit a place where summer nights are dark and warm and people sit around a camp fire.  But while we live in this land of the midnight sun where we don't have fires in the summer this is a good start of the fun.  

February 10, 2014

A Week Of Love

My niece has her 9th birthday this Friday on Valentine's Day.  Because of this special day I got Abigail on the Valentine's train weeks ago to help me make a present for her cousin.  That started weeks of fun.
 Abigail is very excited about the upcoming Valentine's Day.  No, she has no idea about the romantic/love portion of the holiday.  Nope, Abigail is completely excited about hearts, the color pink, flowers and...
 The days and days of arts and cracks that have been happening as we make valentines for those we love.
Pompoms, hearts, stickers, colors, a little brother who only wants to eat the crayons, and talk of those we are sending them too.  It has been fun and I do have to admit I am kind of happy they are all in the mail and we can now just work on making pink cookies and treats.  I love arts and cracks, in small doses, ha ha.  All that being said if you are not someone who gets a valentine please forgive me.  We love you too.  I could only work through so many at once.  Hope you all have a week full of love and lots of pink frosting. 

February 7, 2014

Up With Me

This Friday wraps up a good and busy week.  Amazing how the days are each a little adventure in itself full of routine and surprises.  We have worked on projects, visited friends, played outside, completed our taxes, watched in wonder as our world got a new dump of snow and I have cheered at small successes and laid at night wonder about all the mistakes I made.  But as I thought about what to post today I can't help but get this picture out of my mind.
 The site of my girl standing on a stool at the raised bar is something I get to see a lot of each day.  This is "her" place.  She colors, plays with special toys, and puts stickers in her sticker book.  She loves this place because it gets her up high enough that Ethan can't get into her fun.  In addition to her independence from her brother, it also allows her to keep an eye on all that I am doing in the kitchen.  I love so much seeing her here (old easter hat not always present).  We talk, discuss, share ideas, I hand her snacks and she has me draw extra pictures in her coloring books.  Meanwhile Ethan plays with me in the kitchen.  He is happy having toys to himself and being active while Abigail is happy doing her thing too.  Ahh peace, those sweet moments of each day are blog worthy to me for sure.

February 6, 2014

The Clean Sort of Mess

The other day was a new arts and cracks kind of day.  I was feeling more ambitious than usual so I planned on doing something a little messier.
 As I put on Abigail's smock I realized that Ethan still doesn't have one, next project for me, so he got to wear one of my old t-shirts clipped in the back as a temporary smock.
 A long time ago I read about how kindergarden teachers put shaving cream all over their tables and let the kids practice letters and such by drawing in the cream.
 I thought this would be a great experience for my kids too.  Something fun to paint in that isn't necessarily paint.  
 But during the experience I realized just why I don't hear about this on toddler activity sites.  It is much more a kindergartner activity, or do kindergartners willingly eat globs of shaving cream?
Meanwhile I was encouraged that Abigail didn't actually eat any but getting her hands super covered was interesting for her.  We did practice shapes, some numbers and a few letters but pictures were just the main play for the day.
Sometimes with the set up, play (that really rarely lasts as long as the work does) and then faced with the clean up I wonder if arts and cracks beyond our daily stickers and crayons are worth it.
But then I look at the kids, see how happy they are, hear them talk about it and realize that yes it is.  Maybe not worth doing daily, but something fun to keep us going.  Kind of like the lingering smell of shaving cream in the house.

February 5, 2014

Winter Colors

When I was pregnant with Abigail I bought a pregnancy journal.  It is a fun one that lists what the baby is doing, what I am doing, traditions regarding birth in other cultures, and ways to stay healthy during pregnancy.  I have kept this journals and am working through it a third time right now.  With Abigail I used blue ink, Ethan black and this new baby red.  It is fun to do it this way because not only do I get to see what my current baby is doing but I can then compare it to how each pregnancy has been similar or different.  

One thing that stands out to me is each time is that when the book talks about the right foods to eat it talks about colors.  With richer colors come richer vitamins that the foods contain.  
I know that potatoes aren't always consider the riches foods for vitamins but as I was cutting my garden Delta blues the other days I couldn't help but smile.  When the winter is long color in our foods certainly does taste better.  Who doesn't love to sit down to eat dinner and have a splash of homegrown garden purple on their plate, especially if it isn't just egg plant!
Each color seen during these winter months are ones we all enjoy.

Let Me Tell You A Story

Years ago my mother bought the kids a bear that reads them The Night Before Christmas.   It is a favorite every year to everyone, but Josh....