Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Momma!!



Alex has finally started saying momma!! I've been waiting for months to hear it - and now at almost 15 months he's saying it!! It's been an exciting couple of days for me!! All the childcare books say at 1 year they should be starting to say momma and dada, but not Alex. He would sometimes say dada, but irregularly and I'm not sure he really knew what he was saying. So I was freaking out a bit, which I'm sure is why he wouldn't talk. Well, that and the fact that he points and grunts and we just give him what he wants. All of us, even the kids, know what he wants and give in to him without making him try to tell us(we are trying to stop, but it is easy to forget and just grab something for him). Plus, like Andy said, Alex has been busy learning other things first so he can keep up with the 'big kids'. He can throw and catch a ball, almost do a somersault on his own(sometimes he is successful), and is learning to jump and run. He's fairly good at the running, but he just can't quite get both feet off the ground when trying to jump. So, now he is climbing on top of our coffee table and jumping off. Luckily I've caught him anytime I've seen him, so no injuries yet!!

He's been talking nonstop the past few days, although it is really hard to understand anything except momma or dada, but I'm sure there are other words in there. We've been teaching him animal sounds and his favorite is the horse, which is so cute to watch him say that. He is still signing and will sign 'more' rather than say it most of the time, but I have heard him say more once or twice. Progress!!!

He'll be 15 months old in 2 days, and wow has time flown. I'm really glad that I chose to be a stay at home mom so I can enjoy all these moments with the kids while they are small(well, some days I'm glad - other days it would be much easier to have a job outside of the house). Over the years I've had several people tell me that I'm lucky I get to stay home. I wouldn't say luck was involved, well, maybe just a tad of luck since I have such a great husband willing to be the sole income provider, but I chose to stay home and gave up many things. I could have a great job making lots of money(not to mention adult conversations once in awhile), we could have a nicer house and new cars, but we chose this life. I felt it was more important to give my kids my time rather than money. There is plenty of time down the road for me to get a job and make money and have nicer things. And while we may not have money to 'summer in Europe' or other nonsense, I feel that our kids aren't really missing out on any opportunities.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tie Dye!!

At some point in time Faye saw a tie dye shirt, and she loved it. She wanted one right then, but we decided for some reason to wait. Then, when we were on vacation, Faye saw another tie dye shirt in the gift shop at Mt. Rushmore. She almost got it as her souvenir, then decided on something else at the last minute. But she keeps asking me about it, so I decided we'd try to make one and make things fun!

We went to Hobby Lobby after swim lessons and picked up a couple white t-shirts, and found some dye called tumble dri, which came in a spray bottle. The kids had a lot of fun making their shirts.

We washed the shirts first and the kids could not wait until they were done - we didn't even have to dry them as the dye was supposed to go on a damp t-shirt. Drew stood at the top of the basement stairs almost the whole time trying to hear if the washer had stopped. I got everything ready while we waited, and put the kids aprons on to protect their clothes. Then we bunched up the shirts and put a bunch of rubber bands around them. I made Alex's as he was taking a nap and he probably would be too little for this project anyways.





Then the kids sprayed their shirts with the colors, we let them sit for awhile, and then took off the rubber bands. The kids wanted more color, so we did it all again. Finally they were done. The kids wore them to school today and were very excited to show their friends.




They didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, so we may try it again sometime, only mixing the dye with some water and soaking them in a bucket for awhile. We have plenty of dye left! The spray method was less messy, but didn't work quite as well as it could have.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Breadmaker

We eat a lot of bread at our house. Those of you who have been around us at all know this without a doubt. Andy eats 2 PB&J's everyday for lunch. EVERYDAY!! He maybe has something else 2x a year. He's been doing that for about 5 years now. Faye and Drew, and now Alex, are not much better. I try to mix it up a little and make different things for lunch, but well, PB&J's are easy and the kids love them! So, we go through probably 4 loaves of bread a week. I always feel like we're running to the store to buy bread, and I know it is loaded up with weird things I'd rather not be eating or feeding to the kids. Ever read the ingredients on your bread? There is some scary stuff in there sometimes! Most bread also contains milk, so we're very limited to what brand we can buy.

So I'll make homemade bread for us to eat. Yeah right!! But I really am going to try to make at least a few loaves each week of homemade bread. Its really not that hard to do, it just takes a little time, and while I don't have a lot of time, I do have a little more now that the kids are in school.

I've made bread before, but never really spent much time reading about how to make it. I really wanted a sandwich bread for the kids to eat their PB&J's. I make buns frequently, as well as Italian or french bread, or things like banana bread and zucchini bread, but never sandwich bread. As it turns out I needed a different size pan. We have the standard 9x5 loaf pan, but that is too big and the bread will not be tall enough. For tall sandwich bread I had to buy an 8 1/2 by 4 loaf pan or something like that. Who knew that a pan just a tad smaller could make such a huge difference? I also learned how to shape it into a loaf - I really had no idea there was such a thing. Normally I would just shove the dough into the pan and bake it.



My 1st attempt turned out really well. There is really nothing like homemade bread. Andy and the kids agreed and ate almost a whole loaf at once. The recipe I tried made two loaves, so we sliced up the other one today and had sandwiches for lunch. It was really really good. It is white bread, which is the easiest to make. I will try to work in some whole wheat white or oat or soy flour to make it a little more nutritious, but that makes it a little trickier!

The land of the cows

We've been back from our vacation for over a week now, but we've been busy taking care of things around the house and getting the kids ready for school so I haven't had much time for blogging.

The kids did amazing on our vacation. We drove over 2300 miles, and I don't think they whined more than once the whole time. Honestly I was probably worse than the kids! Alex slept most of the time we were driving ( he didn't seem to want to sleep at night), and the kids sat in the back and played and colored and looked out the windows. They went through almost 2 whole coloring books on this trip! We took our mini laptop so they could watch movies, but I think out of all that driving they only watched two movies.

The kids had a great time at Grandma's house. Drew had this great idea for coloring the bricks with chalk, so we all helped and it looked really cool! They spent the majority of one day working on that.



We also went to Gene Leahy mall and the kids (well, Andy, Hallie, and me too) went down the giant slides. They go so fast - Faye actually gets airborne partway down. Really really cool! Every city should have a slide like this! Drew's expression is just how it feels when you go down the slide. We played a few games of croquet and Uno with Jadon and Hallie, and had a good time in Omaha!



We then headed to our cabin at Chadron State Park. It was a long drive all the way across Nebraska. We took route 2, the scenic route, and it was scenic. We saw probably 10 cars along the way, and it was over 450 miles. Good thing we didn't have any car trouble. There were thousands of cows; cows were everywhere. The region is known as the sand hills, and it was beautiful. The road also ran along the BNSF rail line. We saw lots and lots of trains, all pulling coal. Here is one of my favorite photos, and this is what it looked like the majority of our drive.



The landscape was very scenic, no power lines, very few towns, and just sand hills and cows. The biggest town we went through was Alliance, and that was a town of just over 9,000. We also went through a few towns with population less than 50. We stopped at Carhenge (Stonehenge reproduced using old cars) along the way just outside of Alliance.



Finally we made it to our cabin. It was a two bedroom cabin - well, two bedrooms if you call a curtain a door I guess. Definitely a step up from camping in a tent with 3 kids though. We had a bathroom with a shower, and a kitchen with a refrigerator and stove and sink! Plus two really comfy beds! Andy really wanted to camp, but that is just too much work for me with the kids being so little. When they get older it will be an option. It was a nice park and we were just about the only ones there. I'm guessing western Nebraska is never too busy, and we were there after school starts so it was really dead. We hiked early one morning, and the kids really did like that - they have so much energy they can keep going and going.



We decided to drive up to Mt Rushmore one day while we were there. It was about a 2 hour drive, but it was worth it. We 1st stopped at Crazy horse as we were really early and wanted to have lunch before we got to Mt. Rushmore. Western Nebraska and South Dakota are in a different time zone which I wasn't aware of, so we arrived at Crazy horse by 9am - much too early for lunch. They now have the face finished, but not much else. We missed the night explosion by just a few days. Bummer. They only do two night ones a year and we just missed it. The kids really liked seeing it and picked out some rocks in the gift shop. Yes, I know, we bought rocks. I almost couldn't bring myself to do it, but they liked them and they were only $1.



We did find a place to eat our picnic lunch before we got to Mt. Rushmore, and the kids found more shiny/sparkly rocks there to add to their bags. These were free of course. Drew found a fools gold rock which he was excited about. The kids really loved Mt. Rushmore. We took lots of photos and they did too. Unfortunately I didn't think about getting Alex out of the backpack for this photo, so we can only see his leg, but he was there. We went on the walk around Mt. Rushmore and then found a place to sit and relax for awhile. We did get a picture of Alex then. He turned 14 months on that day.



We then drove into Keystone and toured Rush More cave. The cave was really neat and was one of the kids favorite things. They didn't like having to stand and wait while the tour guide told us about the cave - they wanted to keep going, but otherwise it was great for them. The tour guide was actually one of the 4 owners of the cave. He and some of his buddies saw an ad in the paper a few years ago, "Cave for sale", and decided to go for it. 1.5 million dollars is all a cave runs for nowadays!

The next day we headed to Fort Robinson, the place where Crazy Horse was killed. We were just about the only ones there too. The kids enjoyed a pony ride and we had another picnic lunch, before heading to Toadstool Park. That was probably one of my favorites of the trip. We drove about 20 miles down a really terrible gravel road, with at one time sheep on the road. We didn't see a single car and were often wondering if this really could be the right way. We did see one tractor working on the road. Finally we arrived, and it was really really cool looking. There was one car there, just leaving as we were pulling in. There is a day use fee for this park, but nobody there to collect, so you're on the honor system there. You can also camp here, but there is no shade, and no water, but I think there is a portable potty. I would love to go back and camp there sometime, but just for one night and probably without the children. It would be very dark and probably very scary too! This is a picture of the campground - not much there!



We hiked the 1 mile trail and the kids wanted to go again. But it was about 90 degrees and sunny and we didn't have any suntan lotion so I was afraid they would get sun burnt, or get too careless and fall. The 1st 1/4 mile of the trail is a marked easily traveled path, but after that your sort of on your own. There are markers so you know which way to go, but no real path. We climbed up the toadstools and then back down, with some crazy drop offs and places very scary for a 4 year old! I was terrified they would fall, but they did really really well! The surface is very similar to the surface of the moon and it was just amazing!





Our vacation was almost over, just more driving left to do. We decided to take the northern route 20 on the way back to Omaha, and stopped near Valentine, NE at Smith Falls to see Nebraska's tallest waterfall. It was beautiful and we all loved it. They have stairs going right down to it, so in the summer you can wear your bathing suit and cool off in the water. It was a cool day and much too cold for that - the water was freezing. I stuck my feet in for about 2 minutes, and they were numb for about 20 minutes after I got out. The kids were able to stay in a little longer, but then kids are crazy like that!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

School time

The kids started preschool last week. They will go Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this year. Faye's friend Maddie is in her class again, so they were both thrilled. Faye LOVES school, but then again I don't think there is much doubt that she'll ever not love school. She will sit and color, write, or read all day if I let her. I have to force her into playing some days. What a child! She basically taught herself to read about 2 or 3 months ago, and she can now pick up almost any children's book and read it. Amazing for an almost 5 year old! She is very confused though at how I can read without saying the words out loud; she's just not understanding reading in her head yet, but that will come soon enough. Many nights I hear her reading in her bed long after she should have been asleep, so with as much as she reads she's learning very quickly. I am thrilled about her reading - I don't have to read quite as many books to the kids. I know that sounds terrible, and I love reading to the kids and have always wanted to stress the importance of reading, but seriously she wants me to read for hours, and it just gets tiring!

It has been a little hard on Drew, as he is just not at the same level as Faye and now is worried that he'll 'never read'. I reassure him he'll learn too, and that while she may be better at reading and writing, he is better at other things such as bike riding, etc. He just doesn't enjoy sitting still, but I think that Faye learning to read has started to push him into trying a little more! He sat at the table with me the other day and was learning to write his numbers, and learned how to spell a few words.



Drew was not as excited about starting school as Faye. The 1st day was a little hard, but after the 2ND day last week, the teacher said he did great! He was talking to the teachers and he played with the boys. Some of his friends from last year are also there again this year. The teacher said the kids didn't play together at all the whole day - friends become very important at this age!