Dec 8, 2011

Christmas Countdown

Is there a sweeter face?? The kids have been a little sick this season. Colin had a cold this night and since he's sucks his thumb to get to sleep, he couldn't get comfortable in his bed.

Here he is fussing over something at our garage sale. The kids saw a few stuffed animals they wanted to keep and started tossing them around. Hannah got a bunny stuck on the roof, and suddenly Dax says, "I'll just use my cane" .. and pulls out a cane I didn't know he had. haha

Thanksgiving is a good time to catch up with the Bentons. Phoebe and Finley came over for playtime. As they get older, the moms get more and more chatting time. There was only one bloody lip! Which is more than I can say for many playdates with little kids.

Chloe and Finley looking sweet. Pardon the red-eyes in this post- iphoto was not letting me correct them.

Grandma and Papaw came for Thanksgiving!! We had all the usual food, and Nana brought some delicious dishes, too. The kids were happy to see their grandparents. We had some fun playing baseball in the yard with cereal box bases. We took a walk to the park, too.

Grandma treated us to Happy Feet2. Chloe was more interested in visiting the restroom, but overall, they sat perfectly still and never took their hands out of the popcorn boxes.

We had fun putting up the tree. The girls organized the branches by color and helped me put it all together.

We always love getting out our old favorites. The dollhouse dolls visited Mary and Joseph, but it looks like they may have made themselves a little too much at home.

Waiting anxiously for cookies. The doctor told us Chloe had hand, foot, and mouth. Well, all that ever turned up were little spots on her throat, and she rarely complained. The others stayed at Nana's and Chloe and I baked cookies. Notice something exciting and new? At least to us, anyway. A new fridge!!! The parents are coordinating to purchase this for us. Very much needed, loved, and appreciated! Dax and my dad went out for Black Friday and got a good deal. I also went out for a few purchases and ended up in long lines at Toys R Us, but had a good time. My mom and I made our annual visit to Kohls. : )

I've been dying to improve our eating habits and the Nativity Fast
certainly helps since it cuts out meat and dairy. I've been trying to shop more
"real food" also and sticking mostly to the perimeter of the store, where
all the fresh items are. The bill is a little higher, but we are wasting much less food,
and in my opinion, I'm full for much longer, I've had much more energy,
and the food tastes very good. To convince the girls to get on the boat (Colin
can't be convinced of anything lately and Dax is always on board once
I decide on some action) I drew little breakfast items we would be sticking
to. Fiber and protein are breakfast essentials and we hadn't really been focusing on that.
Typical of Hannah and Chloe, as soon as they learn something new,
they are 100% in agreement and like to participate. They've eaten eggs when they
usually don't prefer them, and have even decided on honey rather than syrup on their

Hannah has been in love with markers the past few weeks. Here's her tree.
I love the strand of lights!

This is entitled "Grandma with 2 boo-boos on her face." Haha! I don't know where that came from. She drew a number of these style portraits that day. The one of herself had glasses, since she wants to wear glasses like a girl in her class. All too soon, I'm sure.

We use the washing machine as a hiding place in Hide and Seek pretty often. Colin always gives me away, though. : )

You never know when Colin might decide to go pants-less and try on someone's shoes.

Another night, Colin and I stayed home alone and enjoyed time together. I made him a paper airplane.

And he loved playing with all the snow-globes.

I was excited to find him another thrift store bomber jacket this year. That's just his style to me
: )

We're not doing Christmas cards this year, but still wanted a picture of them all together.
We've yet to visit Santa, and I'm almost sure Colin will disapprove. Here's an outtake of the final photo.

The best one!

Much better of Colin, but the other two were a little off. Still cute, though, I think.

December 6th is the feast day of St. Nicholas, so the kids set their shoes out the night before.
We talked about the St. Nicholas story and how we could be more like him by helping others secretly. Dax put out gold chocolate coins, icon cards, and new pendants to go on their crosses. Hannah asked why St. Nicholas came at night. We explained that we remember who he was, but it's not that he really visits. She was still asking the same thing, so I told her that St. Nicholas wanted Daddy to give them those gifts. Then she said, "But why didn't he just come in the door?" I guess she thought he just dropped them off. : ) On a side note- we were reading some Christmas book the other day, and I get the surprise question we all know is coming- "How did I get out of your belly?" It was just the context that surprised me. I explained in gentle terms (since I had C-sections) how it happened. She was highly disturbed at first, but was soon okay with it. : ) Wow, speaking of bringing up subjects out of nowhere... back to the pendants.

Hannah got Elizabeth, Chloe got Mary and Jesus, and Colin got Nicholas.

Chloe has done really well with her big sister going off to school, but some days, she doesn't really get to do much in place of playing with Hannah. She might entertain herself while I do chores or end up lounging around with shows. She's a bright girl and loves to learn so it bothered me that I wasn't using our time so well. So I made up a simple little lesson sheet for Tuesdays and Thursdays. Once Colin takes his nap, she and I spend about 30 minutes doing little activities. This week focused on the letter A, so we counted Apples, arranged Almonds into Art, read poems about an Alligator, etc. We've had a great time doing it, and she's very excited about "her school." Today we put out honey for Ants on our back fence. When we returned to check, it was all gone.

We tried to make Apple chips, but they turned out pretty terribly! At least the making part was fun.

She was excited about this number sticker activity book.

Mazes are a little much for her although she gets the concept, so I did the drawing. Chloe is very efficient, I would say, and this was pointed out when she tried to draw the line straight to the mailbox. I said, "Oh, we have to stay on the street." She said, "Why don't we just walk on the grass?"

Another thing I've been desperate for is a better schedule.
Sure we have our meals and playdates, etc., but when we have days at home,
it turns into chaos quickly. I bought all these themed papers at Walmart for a dollar
by the way since we are too cheap to buy new ink for our printer. : ) I like them better
anyway. I also wanted to make sure to get in the day what I feel is important, and those things
were always squeezed out of the day- like a basic bible story. Hannah gets it at school, but
is not into sharing what she learned, so I have no idea where she is on it. Also, the kids spend a good chunk of their Sundays in church, but really don't know what most of it is about understandably. So I made up a few sheets and printed coloring pages of objects they see at
church like a censer, an altar server, etc. They seem to like it all so far, and learning about it together at the dinner table is nice. The most effective change in our day by far has been "Personal Play Time." This means each kid gets private playtime with just me. They choose what we do and get uninterrupted play. The others seem to respect that so far! Hannah usually chooses a game. Chloe has chosen books, ponies, etc. I usually wrestle around with Colin or we pick up his room together and make it play. I've loved it so far, and for the first time ever, Hannah told me I was fun to play with. So proud! It's very stabilizing to know everyone has bonded with me in some way that day. I've even scheduled in Mommy time! It's usually taking care of chores, but I'm fine with that. We're looking forward to all the fun things this Christmas season!

Nov 20, 2011

In With the New

Dax went to Seattle for a week at the beginning of the month. That was a whole week. Well, really 5 days.
Nana was so great to watch the kids so I could teach. Other than that, I was challenged to be a single parent for most of the week. Unfortunately, the first day, all the kids got sick and the water heater burst! Other friends were sick, too, so school and any other fun plans we had were completely canceled. I said lots of prayers for patience, and it certainly helped. We had a peaceful week. But by Friday, I had great sympathy for anyone who tries to raise children all on their own. : ) Dax had a great time at his All American Council and went to lots and lots of meetings.

Here he is in front of the original Starbucks. Of course I had to jab at him a bit and ask him why he wanted his picture in front of this station wagon.

He took this one for me- cheese. haha

The local high school put on a production of Winnie the Pooh, so the girls and I met up with friends and went. Hannah rejected sitting with us at first and headed for the front row. She got lonely soon, though, and joined us again. The show was cute, and besides an awful lot of dialogue verses action, I was proud the girls payed attention and we very quiet.

I really liked the homemade costumes. It was cute how they managed to make humans
look like animals with just a few touches of makeup and props. This was Roo.
Don't you love the girls' identical "shy but excited" pose?

And here's rabbit. All the students did a great job.

Since my painting class has been over, I thought I'd try a step by step instruction book from the library. This was the little scene. Let me just say the picture in the book looks worlds better, but I did learn a few little techniques I need to practice. I also learned that the right tools will certainly make more of a difference. I need a couple of smaller and larger brushes at some point.

Hannah had "Hilarious Hair" day at school since the letter of the week was H. This was our chance to use up more of that blue hair spray!

This little guy gets into anything and everything. Apparently cereal cannot be enjoyed in a bowl. This was my mistake since I was running behind trying to get everyone ready for school. Otherwise he would have been in a high chair.

After particularly long days, I'm ready for them to watch a movie or show. They usually pick Backyardigans.
And popcorn is their very favorite snack.

You can't tell from this picture, but we got new carpet!!!! We've waited so long for this and it looks really nice. Rather than pay extra, Dax had a friend help him move furniture and dispose of the old stuff. I came home that night to do lots of paint touchups to the room- also been waiting forever to do that. Here I am getting into the ice cream by whatever means necessary.
I also wanted much lighter curtains than we've always had. I searched about 15-20 places and didn't find what I wanted, but there, crumpled in the floor of Goodwill was a $3 panel I thought was perfect- nice and simple. I went home, cut it in two, hemmed the sides and bottom and voila! After washing them, I was so anxious to hang them up I didn't iron them. I hope it doesn't take another 5 years for me to get around to that. The good news is that a lady bought our old curtains at a garage sale (which were still very nice) and said she was going to redecorate her whole house around them- wow!

While looking for curtains at the mall, we found a letter writing station to Santa. The girls didn't really get it, but that's okay. Chloe told Santa she liked Tinkerbell. I reminded her she already had Tinkerbell, and she said, "Oh, yeah!" Hannah wrote something about Barbie : ) The mailbox was actually real and required stamps- um- which I never ever just have on me. We just stuck them in there anyway because let's face it- who knows where they are really going?

It's always fun to see the stores' Christmas decorations, but Sears was pretty low on the list- this was pretty much it!

Running from the camera. And he does have 2 boy cups, but always steals the girls' instead.

Also something new, I finished Colin's quilt! I went with a really basic X this time because I didn't want to wait months for it to be finished.

I also painted the top canvas blue to match the bottom. A couple of other little things and I'll call his room finished.

I sat down for a split second for some Ipad time to myself and they drag out the food. Well, Colin drags it out because like I said, he's into everything. I'm trying to steer him in the right direction, so rather than scolding him out of the trash can constantly, he gets to use it on better terms by throwing his diapers away. He loooves to do that. And rather than having him slam doors and get in the way of the dishwasher, dryer, etc. he knows it's his job to close all doors when I tell him it's time. He always claps for himself. He's also finally said "Mama!"

You never know when your toy hamster will lodge himself in your hair.

Oct 31, 2011

Birthday and Halloween

Chloe's Chuck E. Cheese dreams finally came true. And we wore purple to celebrate her favorite color. She now has an almost all purple wardrobe, and if you find something purple in the house, you can bet it's Chloe's.

She always runs to this ride first.

Grandma teaching Chloe how to shoot things- hehe


Papaw made sure Colin got in on the fun.

When it was time to meet Chuck E. Chloe was ready instead of scared.
She gave him a high-five. The place was packed, but our host did a good job of
keeping us on track.

Crowned by the mouse.

Chloe got to hear her name extra loud among the chaos since the little girl at the next table was also named Chloe.

I thought for sure Chloe wouldn't want to go in the ticket blaster, but when the host said Hannah could go in with her, and we watched someone else do it first, she was ready.

It was so funny to watch them in there. Chloe was super calm and concentrated getting all those tickets! The host actually said he'd never seen a 3 yr. old follow all the directions and not scoop tickets off the floor drop them all.

Present time! Chloe got so many perfect gifts.
Thanks to everyone for making her day special!
(And thanks to Melody for helping with last minute party favors!)

On Chloe's actual birthday, Dax and Hannah made ribs. Dax is reaching to turn off the smoke alarm : )

Chloe was excited to get several fun things. At the last minute, I found this little lamp for their room. She's been asking for one.

In other activities, we went to a nature preserve with some friends. Colin was so tiny in those tall woods.

His favorite past times are pointing in general directions and chatting about some mysterious subject.. and throwing things. I'll get a picture of the latter sometime, I'm sure.

At the end of the nature trail is a surprise playground.

Hannah's school had a pumpkin party and parade, so costumes were in order.
She wanted to be a princess, so we just used her dress-up clothes. Chloe couldn't resist being Tinkerbell.

It was also her day to share an object that begins with F. Granny would have been proud we took her "Feelings" Puzzle.

The costume parade!! Is there anything cuter? Of course I couldn't stop smiling.
I've got a video I'll post another time. Hannah just loved it and was waving to the crowd.

Saturday, we went to a kid's Halloween party. It's no secret I'm not fond of the scary elements of Halloween, not because they are scary, but I just don't think it's fun to treat death like a joke..and other reasons. However, I continually find myself on the fence. The activities we've participated in involve pumpkins, happy costumes, tasty treats, and at the very scariest- cute spiders. As far as trick-or-treating, I only have fond memories, so I'm not sure what we'll do in the future. Obviously we won't be able to avoid the things I feel aren't good to teach them. So many will differ from my opinions, I'm sure, but until those future days come, we're enjoying the lighthearted fun. Sorry for my little soapbox there! In the meantime, don't you love our Cat in the Hat costumes? We sang the theme song and quoted the beginning of the cartoon show all the way to the party. We also had a great time dying Colin's hair tuft blue.

Here was our party host! Haha. He did this all afternoon.

This party was planned to the nines! Every detail was so cute!
They painted pumpkins here.

This was just 1 of three perfect tables of treats!

I liked their mantle, too.

Some other guests : Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion

Princess riding her unicorn.


Dad and strawberry look like twins.

Candy corn relay.

The relay kind of lost its way pretty soon, so some of the parents (who were also teachers) were calling it "Task Completion."

I was the only adult with a costume, but I couldn't resist complimenting the Things 1,2, and 3 after one of my students' parents offered up the costume. Jessica counted for wearing the hat. : )