Sunday, December 27, 2009

You can wear that to church Grandma!

A couple weeks ago I took the kids to the Crisis Nursery Holiday shop at the Lincoln Square Mall in Urbana. I'm sure everyone is familiar with what it is - although it is probably a little different everywhere. The parents give the kids a certain amount of money and a list (for the younger kids) of who they need to buy presents for, and a helper takes them into the store to help them pick out gifts. This way they can pick out and buy presents for mommy and daddy and the grandparents without anyone knowing what they are getting. And the money benefits the Crisis Nursery.

Faye and Drew were a little reluctant to go in the store without me, but I assured them I would be waiting just outside the door, and they had a ton of volunteers helping so they had one to walk around with them the entire time and ensure they were returned to the correct parent. So in they went and I waited and waited and waited. They had to have been in there for over an hour choosing their gifts. And they were so excited when they came out. I could tell they really wanted to start telling me what they chose, but I reminded them to wait and we would see on Christmas morning.

They both did great keeping secrets - they didn't mention once what they got for me or Andy. They did give us clues what they gave to the grandparents though - Drew kept telling us he got something silly for Grandpa, and Faye told me she got something pretty that Grandma could wear to church. The silly something for Grandpa turned out to be a funny hot dog pen. The something pretty for Grandma to wear to church.....

Well, it is pretty, but I have a feeling it won't be worn to church anytime soon. If you can't see it well, it is a multi colored flower garland with ribbons coming off the back. I could not stop laughing, and I still have trouble not laughing when I think about it. Faye was so serious about it too, which made it even funnier!

I got really great gifts from the kids, some flower shaped measuring spoons from Faye and some really pretty magnets from Drew with some paper. The kids both got Andy a car shaped magnet. It was so much fun to see what they picked out for us! We'll definitely be doing this again next year!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Program

The kids had their Christmas program at church this morning. They did really well, walked right up on stage and sat where they were supposed to sit. Faye sang and even did the hand motions. We couldn't see Drew very well, he was behind a speaker or monitor, but he told us after that he was even singing - which is amazing for him!! He is a little shy and for him to walk up on the stage and sing is really great. It is a huge room and there were a lot of people. I'm so proud of them!

The pictures aren't great, but you can see Faye in the middle with her red dress and black velvet jacket and her arms up in the air. It is too cute!

You can kind of see Drew in this picture, in the red sweater beside Faye and peeking out behind the boy standing up.

Faye was so excited to finally get to wear her Christmas dress. I bought it last year after Christmas so it has been hanging in the closet for a long time. We even painted her nails to match her dress this morning and she was walking around the house telling everyone to look at her because she was so beautiful. I told them I wanted to take their photo by the tree all dressed up, and Faye said, "especially me!"

Alex won't stand or sit still, so I got out the pony and he managed to sit for a few seconds so we could get some photos. He was too young to be in the Christmas program this year, but he may be old enough next year! He loves going to the nursery; they sing songs, have a snack, and today he even made us a card for Christmas!

Drew even posed for some photos this morning. Usually he runs away or turns away, but after I took Faye's photo he was sure he wanted his taken too! He wasn't as excited about his clothes, but I have let him wear his sweater a couple times already.

Friday, December 18, 2009

School party

The kids had their holiday party at school this morning. We invited Grandma and she had the day off work, so she came to see the kids classroom. The kids were so excited - they were very wound up last night and all day today. Of course some of that could be from all the extra sugar they are getting this time of year - cookies and candy canes and other goodies from neighbors.

They didn't sing any songs for us like they did last year, but we still had a good time. Drew showed Grandma all around the classroom. We all had some goodies and then they headed over to the craft table to make some gingerbread ornaments and bracelets.

Alex had fun playing too. He is really looking forward to when he is big enough to go to school, and finally today he got his chance to check out the classroom a little.

Drew and I went and checked out the cars and trucks that he plays with at school. A few of his friends joined in too, which was neat to see them all play together.

Its Holiday Time!!

It's one week to Christmas and I am ready! Well, we have a few more presents to buy, but are otherwise ready for Christmas! The tree is up and the presents are wrapped. We put up our outside lights. I baked cookies and even managed to give some to the neighbors this year. I LOVE sugar cookies. They are my favorite and I will eat them till I have an upset stomach. It is just one of those things I have no control over. I used to make them so often that I could have a double batch rolled out and baked in 30 minutes if I had enough ovens and baking sheets. But I try to limit my baking them to big holidays like Easter, July 4th, Halloween, and Christmas. I made a double batch last weekend, thinking I would put some in the freezer so we'd have some for Santa, but nope, they are gone already (less than a week). I should have known better - I do that every year, and if any do actually make it in the freezer, I sneak them out and before long they are gone too! So I will be baking more this weekend I hope. I got a new cookie cutter this year which has 3 designs you can stamp on them, which I thought was the coolest thing! Then I piped on the icing - Andy thought I was crazy, but then he usually does. The kids loved them, especially the snowman.

OK, so he's not perfect, but I really don't have time to put that much work into sugar cookies just to eat them all in 3 days. I love this time of year - nothing better than sugar cookies!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Parent Teacher Conference

I had parent teacher conferences on Friday morning. Andy took the morning off and stayed home with the kids while I went in to speak with their teachers. Andy chased the kids around the house threatening to take their photo. Apparently they got out their Nerf guns after I left. They were having a lot of fun, but were still in their pj's and the beds are still unmade (and it was after 11am when I got home). Its probably a good thing I'm the one that stays home and not Andy.

The preschool teachers didn't tell me anything I didn't know. The kids fight sometimes at school - just with each other not the other classmates so nothing to worry about there. Faye is the ringleader of their group, which includes Faye, Maddie, and Drew. Apparently she tells them what to do and they do it, but as their teacher said they are the type of kids who really don't care. She thinks she is in control here at home too, telling me and Andy, and well, everyone what is right and wrong and what they should be doing. Drew is quiet at school but is doing well. He has been opening up to the teachers and telling them lots of stories, and is starting to play with some of the other boys rather than checking to see what Faye is doing all the time. Faye spends the majority of her time at the craft table with her friend Maddie, which was definitely no surprise to me. She colors/draws most of the afternoon at home. Drew is torn - he wants to be with Faye and Maddie but he really is not into crafts as much as they are and would rather play cars/trucks.

It is always so much fun to hear about how they are doing in school. I only get a brief glimpse each morning when I drop them off and pick them up, so it is great to hear more. I think they will be ready for Kindergarten next fall! Now we just have to choose which one and if they will be in the same class. No Pressure!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Black lipstick

Faye loves to color and draw. She makes me probably 10 pictures a day, sometimes even more. Her teacher at school even commented on how 'full of artwork' our house must be. She really has no idea. The kids get really upset if they seem me recycle any of their work, but I really just can't keep it all. So I have to sneak it out when they are not looking, and sometimes I get caught and the kids usually have a breakdown. I do have a gigantic pile of artwork in our basement that I just can't bring myself to get rid of, but I really don't know what to do with it either.

Since she loves to color and draw so much, we have a lot of crayons and some markers. The crayons seem to last a little longer than the markers, for several reasons. The kids sometimes lose the marker lids, or don't put them on tightly, or they just wear out eventually. Lately though, Alex has been getting into the markers, and while sometimes he does actually draw on paper, his favorite thing is to draw on his lips, like he is putting on lipstick. Faye and Drew were both coloring me some pictures this morning. They have been making pictures for me for Christmas and hiding them all over the house so I don't see them till Christmas morning, but I've found several as their hiding places are not too great. Alex of course got in on the action and he was having a lot of fun, and then he once again put it all around his lips and was just making a show of it. He loves to make us laugh and the kids and I were really laughing. Thank goodness they are non-toxic and washable!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

1st Snow

It is the first real snow of the season here today. It is actually more wind than anything, I think around 30 - 40mph, so it is freezing cold, but the kids haven't seemed to mind. This morning after I got the kids ready for school, and while we were waiting for Drew to choose his item for Secret Sack, Alex and Faye and I went outside to check out the snow. Alex loved it! I love the look on his face - it is just pure joy! He was trying to catch the snowflakes and he was spinning around and around. He had so much fun.

After lunch today the kids wanted to go back outside. I wasn't going to stop them, but I stayed inside except to snap a few photos. It was much too windy and cold for me, but the kids were so excited. Andy left the wagon outside, and it had some water in it that froze, so the kids had a blast getting out the chunks of ice. I am always surprised how anything can amuse a kid! Faye didn't last too long and came back inside to stand on our heater. Alex and Drew kept playing and playing until finally I made Alex come inside. Drew really had a good time and didn't want to come inside, but I could tell he was getting really cold.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Faye and Drew have been asking me a lot of questions about Santa this year. They really haven't been too excited about him in previous years. I think they were just too little to really understand or care. Last year they didn't believe me that Santa was 'real', but this year they are really into the whole Santa Clause thing. Faye keeps asking me tons and tons of questions - how do the elves know what toys to make?, why does Santa live in the north pole?, is he an elf? and on and on and on. I get so tired of the hundreds (or is it thousands) of daily questions from two five year olds, but I try to smile and answer them as best I can, as I know this will pass quickly too!

So I decided to take them to see Santa this morning. Last year I waited too long and the lines were terrible so we never really ended up seeing Santa. I decided we'd go early this year, and on a weekday morning when it would not be so busy. The kids were so excited! They talked about it all they way there - mostly Faye was explaining to Drew how it all worked. He kept asking her, "but how do you know", till finally she told him she asked mommy and I had told her.

We were just about the only ones there this morning, so no waiting! They got right up there and did sit on his lap, but were a little reluctant to tell him their names or what they wanted for Christmas. Drew muttered out that he wanted a monster truck and somehow Santa actually understood him. I'm guessing he's used to this and can understand the mumblings of about any small child by now. Faye, who is usually a little more outgoing than Drew looked to me for help, so I told Santa some of the things on her wish list. They got a candy cane and coloring book and were thrilled! As we walked around the mall, Drew told me he forgot to tell Santa something else, so we went back before leaving today and he told Santa he also wanted a Transformer.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Parade of Lights

Last night was the annual Parade of Lights here in Champaign. We picked Andy up from work and searched for a parking spot. Last year it was ridiculously cold and we made the mistake of parking and trying to walk to West Side Park. We didn't even make it until the parade started before we headed back to the van and found a place to park and watch. This year we were a little smarter, and found a parking spot at the YMCA, which is right across from the park. So we could either sit in the van and watch if we were cold, or venture outside.

It was much much warmer this year, around 30 degrees, and I had the kids bundled up, so we waited until the parade started and walked out to watch. The kids were cold - Faye was especially complaining that her face was cold - until the first person came around with a candy cane. She was sold!! She'll do just about anything for sweets. Drew was ready to head back to the van and warm up after a few minutes, but she was now going to stick it out. We did end up going back to the van for a couple minutes to warm up, then ventured back outside to watch the end of the parade. We ended up with a whole bunch of candy canes!

Alex was a little confused about the whole thing, but he didn't complain once. He was actually the only one last year who didn't seem bothered by the cold either!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Non - crafty

I'm no Martha Stewart, but I certainly have a lot of ambition for craft making. I've tried painting, jewelry making, scrap-booking, sewing, and crocheting, and who knows probably some I've forgotten. Crochet is my favorite and probably the one I'm best at, but don't look too closely at anything I make because I'm sure there are lots of errors!

By nature I just am not a crafty person. I don't usually have the patience to take my time and do things exactly right. It stresses me out if I have too many projects going at once - I have to finish them immediately or I freak out about how many things I have to do. I like to have everything organized and finished, or I have trouble sleeping (I know it is ridiculous). So you would think I would just give it up, but no, I have about 10 different craft projects going on right now. Yep - I'm stressed. But at the same time I do really enjoy it.

My latest project was one of the most fun I've made. It's a present for the kids for Christmas, and who knows if they'll like it, but they had fun trying to guess what it was before I had the eyes and legs sewn on. Andy of course looks at me like I'm crazy and has the opinion of "can't you just buy that at a store", but I think it is cute and hopefully the kids will appreciate it someday. Now I just have to get busy and make 2 more!

If you can't tell, it is supposed to be an octopus - and I did get eight legs on there.

1st Santa visit

I took Alex to see Santa on Wednesday. It was his 1st real visit - and he was really frightened. I can't really say I blamed him. Santa was a little cranky and smelled like smoke. But I set him up there anyways and snapped a quick photo. He got a candy cane and all was well in his world again.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My new camera!

I have the most wonderful husband... he got me a new digital camera for an early Christmas present!! It is little and cute and green. It couldn't get much better than that! I was so bummed last week when our other camera went kaput. I knew it was going to happen soon, but I figured it had a couple more months left in it. I never really liked our other camera and I had already looked at the stores several times and decided on a couple that I wanted, so I told Andy and then Bam! The UPS guy is at our door delivering me a new camera. Now I just have to figure out how to use it! It is just a point and shoot camera, so it should be easy, but it does have some different features than our old camera. I've been trying it out, but the kids are very uncooperative. Drew and Alex both run away when I want to take their photo - they've turned it into some sort of game where I have to chase them. Alex is not that fast yet, so he's the only one I've been able to catch.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ravioli - vegan style!

I've been thinking about ravioli a lot lately, trying to decide how I could make some. I used to love ravioli, but it is most definitely not vegan, and a lot of times not even vegetarian. There may be a commercially produced vegan version out there somewhere, but I haven't seen any and I guess I haven't really looked. Those things, if available in a vegan version, usually come in very small packages (not for a hungry family of 5), and are too pricey for us. I usually just shop at Schnucks or occasionally IGA which does have a natural foods section, but its not that large. We do have Strawberry Fields which carries lots and lots of vegan/vegetarian/organic products, but it is so pricey I only go there about 2x a year. I love it, but you have to be rich to shop there! (I miss the co-op in St. Paul so much sometimes!)

I've looked online a few times for ravioli recipes, but I had not really found anything I thought would work. And I've never really made homemade pasta, so that scares me a little. I have made homemade lasagna noodles, but that is the extent of my pasta making, and lasagna noodles are so easy. So, knowing Andy can find anything online, I told him about my ravioli cravings and set him to work. He of course turned up a recipe and some pasta making sites as well.

We decided to make mushroom and tofu stuffed ravioli, and topped it with our homemade tomato sauce. Andy sauteed baby bella mushrooms in olive oil and white wine with salt and pepper and I mixed up tofu concoction with nutritional yeast and basil and some other spices. I used a combination whole wheat flour and white flour and rolled out some sheets of pasta. I put scoops of both mixtures on the pasta sheet, put another pasta sheet on top and used a pizza cutter to cut my ravioli. They suggested using a pastry cutter or pie cutter, but I had neither. I then used a fork around the edge to make them look a little nicer. I think they look so cute - it was a lot of work but it was actually fun too! I think we used about every bowl and pan in our kitchen, but it was worth it. They turned out awesome!!!

I didn't get a photo after they were done cooking, we were too busy eating. Drew really liked it, and Faye not as much, but she still ate it. Alex didn't eat much either, but while he was waiting he had a huge piece of homemade whole wheat bread just out of the oven, so he already had a full tummy.

The one photo I did get is not great either; my camera broke a couple days ago so I had to use my phone. Hopefully I will get an early Christmas present this year!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Magical veggie loaf?

Ever heard of a magical veggie loaf? I made one for dinner, and it seemed to disappear quickly with my kids, so it was magical here. I normally make a lentil loaf (vegan version of a meat loaf) once or twice a month, but I have been getting tired of it. I like to try new things, whereas Andy and the kids could eat the same thing over and over. I did a search today and found this link:

You just select the ingredients you have or want and it tells you how much of each ingredient you need to make a magical veggie loaf. Could be scary as you don't really know what it will turn out like, but I figured why not try it? I decided to use tofu, whole wheat bread crumbs, and pecans as the main ingredients, with sauteed onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. I through in some spices and it amazingly enough turned out great! The kids topped theirs with ketchup and gobbled it up. Truly Magical!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lights out!

My kids, Drew especially, are obsessed with turning out the lights. All the lights. I thought kids were afraid of the dark? Well, my kids definitely are not afraid. It is getting dark here around 5:30pm, about the time Andy gets home from work. Drew runs around the house and turns out all the lights, and that combined with some new thick drapes (supposed to help keep the cold out) I bought for our downstairs, makes our house very very dark.

I went upstairs last night to check my email, and when I came back downstairs to make dinner I couldn't see a thing. I can barely walk around until my eyes adjust. Andy loves it since we'll be saving money. I don't mind it sometimes but wow I get really tired of being in the dark all evening! I sort of hope this doesn't last too long with the kids.

The kids had a great game of Hide and Seek in the dark last night. Even Alex joined in the fun. They used their flashlights to find each other. At least they can find ways to have fun on their own!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Learning new things

Here's Faye ready for gymnastics today. We arrived a little early, so they like to go over to the basketball court and run around before class. Faye loves to pose for pictures. She's wearing one of my old leotards I wore when I was little - her teacher commented on how much she loved it. The old ones are really cool compared to some of the newer ones. You just can't find stuff like this now, so I'm glad my mom saved them!

Faye learned how to tie her shoelaces all by herself this morning! She's been working on it for awhile, and was really close to being able to do it, but finally this morning she put both of her shoes on and did it all on her own. She even double knotted them!

When we came home from the gym they all were hungry and wanted a snack, so they had bananas. Alex wanted one too and he actually looked at me and said, "na na". I was so ridiculously happy. Its amazing how such small stuff can be so important and really make your day! He never talks and it just came right out this morning.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin carving

The kids and I finally had a laid back day at home today. It was the 1st day in a long time that we stayed home; no school or swim lessons or trips to the library or gym. We thought about swimming, but we've all had colds and coughs and we really just needed a day at home to relax and catch up.

We decided while we had the time we should carve our pumpkins, so we spent most of the morning working on that. The kids had a great time with it and had some great design ideas. Unfortunately we didn't have the right carving equipment to do all their ideas, but what we did turned out OK I think.

I did all the carving, but the kids did do most of the seed scraping. None of the kids like touching the inside of the pumpkins - too slimy for them, but they did well with the spoons. Alex tried eating it a few times, but didn't really like it. He didn't really have the idea of taking out the seeds. As I took them out, he put them back in his little pumpkin till it was full, but he sure had a good time doing it.

We also decided we should make Halloween brownies today, so after lunch the kids helped with that. They all love to help bake, mostly because they get to lick the beaters, bowl and spoon when finished. It is a disaster, but so much fun for them. Plus, since we're vegan, we don't have to worry about the raw batter being harmful because there are no eggs!!

Drew manages to stay relatively neat (he almost never gets messy), but Faye and Alex don't have much luck with that.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A difficult week, but some fun too

Our little guy is teething and it is really bothering him. He's been working on getting his first 4 molars for a few weeks now, but the past week it has really been bothering him. He has been refusing to eat, nap and sleep, so it is making life a little difficult for all of us. I've been giving him Tylenol at night, which seems to help a little, but then he wakes up a few hours later screaming again. One night he was awake at least every hour if not more. Awww... I feel so bad for the little guy. Andy got up with him one night and gave him some more Tylenol, but I hate to give him too much. We can't drug him all day for a month or more. He was miserable Sunday night and wouldn't stop screaming, so we also bought some Orajel and he finally was able to take a nap about 5pm. I hate teething! It is so cute when they get their first little teeth, but it is so hard on them I hate to see him in pain. Hopefully soon his molars will be in and he'll have a break from teething for awhile!

I took all the kids swimming with me on Saturday afternoon. It's great now that Faye and Drew can swim on their own. Alex loves swimming as much if not more than Faye. He doesn't mind going completely under water and he already knows how to blow bubbles. He has no fear, which is a little scary for me. He wants to climb out of the pool and jump back in, and he doesn't care if anyone is there to catch him. When I take him out to the middle of the pool, he will actually swim as hard as he can to get back to the side of the pool so he can climb up and jump again. I did let go of him once and he went under a little, but he was actually swimming and he didn't seem to mind at all. He just comes back up smiling like crazy and having so much fun. He has learned to close his mouth most of the time so he doesn't swallow too much water. Wow... our newest little swimmer! He may be ready for the mommy and me swim lessons!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

1st haircut

I took Alex to get his 1st haircut today. He was starting to get a mullet or something going on back there, so it was time. The 1st haircut is one of those moments when you know your baby is growing up. I really don't want him to get big so fast, but it happens so I try to go along with it, since really what else can you do? He can't stay a baby forever.

He did not want to sit in the chair by himself, he even started crying, so I held him and rubbed his back till he was calm. She began cutting the back of his hair and playing peek-a-boo with him, and before long he was OK with it. Well, we did give him a sucker to distract him, which helped until he dropped it in the hair(he also had it stuck to my shirt and his forehead at one point in time), but we were almost finished by then. He sat up and started looking around and even smiling at the lady cutting his hair. He looks like such a big boy now!

When he was finished we gave him a new sucker and he loved it! He waved bye-bye about 5 times before we left. I think he'll be ready to go back next time. Maybe not for the haircut, but definitely for the sucker.

He's enjoying the sucker we gave him on the way home. He was so sticky by the time he was finished with it, he almost needed a bath.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Safety Day

Faye and Drew had their last day of swim classes today. It also happened to be safety day, one of their favorites! This is their 4th swim class this year, so they know the drill. They get to wear life jackets and also ride the 'boat'. It is just so much fun to watch them enjoy this!! I of course didn't even have my camera, but I ran to my locker and grabbed my phone. What would we do without camera phones?

Their swim instructor the past few weeks was so nice and the kids really had a great time with her. She's telling the kids all about life jackets here and how to jump in the water while wearing one. Its amazing how well the kids listen at class - not at all like home!

And now getting ready to jump...

The boat is the best part though... they rode back and forth across the pool about 50 times. The swim instructor tells them about water safety and what to do if they fall off a boat, then proceeds to rock the boat until they fall off. They LOVE it!!! And they did that over and over again - they didn't want to get out of the pool to come home.

Swimming across after being knocked off...

After class today - Drew did actually get out of the water and let me take his photo, then proceeded to go back by the pool and throw all the toys in, thinking the teacher would let him get back in to retrieve them. Nice try, but no luck!

You can see him here in the background throwing in all the toys! What a kid.

Faye doesn't want a break from swim lessons. She loves swimming, but I don't want her to get sick of it either so we're making them both take a break and they can start back up next year sometime. I've enrolled them in Gymnastics starting next week and they both seem excited about it. It is just a once a week, one hour class, starting on Thursday. It is a preschool class for 4-5 year olds, focusing on the floor exercises and bars, and maybe the vault towards the end of class.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Negangard Pumpkin Patch

It was finally a sunny nice fall day today, so we decided to take the kids out to the pumpkin patch while it was nice. We took them to Negangard Pumpkin patch last year, and we all loved it so we decided to go there again this year. There are others around and some closer, but they just have too much stuff. This one is just a basic pumpkin picking place; no pony rides or gift shops or bakeries. No overpriced junk. It is about a 25 minute drive from our house, near Sidney, IL.

Alex fell asleep on the way and wasn't quite sure what to think when we pulled up. Faye and Drew remembered the place from last year and quickly ran to grab a wagon. They group all the same priced pumpkins together - the bigger ones are more expensive, but really I think they have great prices. The kids are standing near the $2 pumpkins which are really quite large and are the ones we brought home. They go up to $5 for the really big pumpkins, and then the humongous ones are individually priced, usually over $10.

Alex liked the littlest pumpkins best, so he picked out a few of those. They were just the right size for him to pick up. They were only $.25, and he would not stop grabbing them and putting them in the wagon. As he put one in, the kids or I took one out and put it back.

They always have a ton of squash for sale really cheap, so we loaded up the wagon with lots of that too. Alex really seemed to get the idea of putting things in the wagon, so we had to really watch him or it was very quickly full of miscellaneous items. We all had a great time and we spent less than $15!

Here is a photo we took last year, and another one we took this year. What a difference a year makes!! Last year the children would not sit for their photo, but instead Faye was climbing and Drew was hiding. How funny! We do have the addition of Superman this year, but a much nicer photo!