Mar 29, 2011

Daily Goings-On

As soon as we returned from spring break, our great friend Mike stayed a few nights with us.
He was in town to perform and celebrate his old professor's retirement at UNT. Even though it had been several years since we saw him, and it's only been 3 or 4 times we've spoken, it was if he'd never left. We had a great time saying our old one-liners and sharing memories. Mike met the girls, who liked him immediately. One morning he read them books while I made breakfast.

I guess I'm not the only one whose instrument offends little ears. : )

Once Mike headed back home, I decided it was time to improve the girls' eating habits!
It's the constant challenge for a lot of moms, I understand. We certainly offer them healthy options, and all the "books" say as long as you are offering, you've done your part. But they still aren't eating it! So focusing on the fact that Hannah is usually the instigator in the "eww, yucky!"
chants we get...and on the fact that she is a very logical girl, I decided on a new approach. Teach them about the food groups, and they might have better appreciation for what's on the plate.
I googled all sort of different foods, reminded myself of the order in the food pyramid, and we glued one together! It was a very sweet project. The girls were excited to learn about grains, fruit, meat, and all that, but the chart was hard to see in black/white/kid-colored marker.

Ahh! Color printers are much better (we didnt' have ink at home originally).
So now, the girls remind me to explain their food at each meal. They ask questions, point to the chart, and refer to their plates....and with much less fuss than before...AND THEY EAT IT!! I wonder how long this will last? Oh, and I was explaining how raisins are simply grapes dried in the sun, and Hannah thought about this and said, "I know! If you pour yogurt in the raisin box and leave it in the sun, you'll still have raisins!"

Getting in on that weekly photo again!

Colin thinks he's drawing, too.

Ahh, the life.

One of our activities on the way to Memphis was to make night-shirts. We wrote their extended names. And they scribbled pictures. "Hannah Banana Chiquita Chiuahua Elizabeth Stokes Goose-Goose" "Chloe Balogna Spamoni Macaroni Rebecca Stokes Chick-Chick" (Hannah is opposed to the macaroni for some reason) "Colin Wolin Bolin Jolin Anthony Stokes Bump-Bump" Don't hold me to the spellings on that one.

He's entertained by them more every day, and he's learning how to make them laugh now, too.

In dollhouse news, we painted it Pineapple Upside Down Cake yellow. I had a free can from Glidden based on a promotion they had awhile back- how handy! Note Hannah's non-use of a brush.

After all that painting, I caught Chloe doing this at lunch when I left the room for a minute.
I guess she needed to get it out of her system.

Unhappy with my reprimand.

Colin is army crawling all over the place. He even crawls right out of his pants! That's what's left back there on the rug. That frustrating stage is close when he just reaches the room he wants and everyone leaves!

We met some friends at the park whom we've always wanted to get together with, but it's never worked out. We got there a little early and took some photos.

They hog the whole swing set! : )

And the slides!

My favorite picture of them so far.

Yesterday, we got out the paint-your-own- tea set.

Deciding on her next artistic move.

My contributions. The cute bee plate was soon confiscated and painted a muddy brown.

Hannah went for an impressionistic style.

While Chloe tried modern/minimalistic.

We've had a great need for some organization over here. I'm constantly cleaning out, donating, you name it, but some things are still not efficient at this house! We figured out we really needed some storage solutions so I headed to Ikea and Target on Saturday! I've been eyeing these little buckets forever, so now the girls can get their art supplies by themselves. I'm really trying to limit the things they need help with. It's too much!

Hmmm- a few too many dolls and animals for our little house. Really, all of these ended up staying, but I found a drawer they could live in and rearranged some other things. The kids rooms are all cleaned out and organized, but the proof would be if they are easy to keep picked up during the day. I woke up today, and although they had been playing, their room was almost spotless! It worked! We also put the dollhouse in there since Colin was starting to get into it.
Now for a few other spots in the house and the monster project called the garage and things should be more smoothly run over here.

So I've been debating on whether 9 months was enough time to step away from playing horn.
Yes, I did play a brass quintet concert a couple of months ago, but admittedly, we had that gig set up a year in advance, so it was a given I would do that for sure, but wouldn't be committed to anything else. So I e-mailed the "guy in charge" of the Lone Star Wind Orchestra and asked about participating in the upcoming recording session this summer. I was going to play a musical (also schedule awhile back) anyway around that time. And if the group is going to put out a second CD, I want to have a part in it! Anyway, it ended up they needed someone for this concert round, rehearsals beginning right away. I decided to go for it, but didn't ask who else was playing in the section. I've really enjoyed the regular members, but sometimes it seems there are lots of subs in and out, too, so I didn't want to be moping the loss of friends before I even got there. When I arrived, I was greeted right away by a percussionist and founder of the group with open arms and smiles! He said, "You're friends are all here!" And across the room were all my horn playing pals waving excitedly! We were all so happy to play together again. I hugged the conductor, too, and the rehearsal was a lot of fun. I was surprised I was able to keep up okay, but my endurance definitely needs work. We just received world renowned conductor Leonard Slatkin will be conducting us in a public rehearsal with interview following, so that's exciting, too. I happen to be first part on that piece, so I'll have to fit in a little more practice for that, too
: )

Dax has been busy with his own musical groups. The male choir at our church "Chantus Maximus" sings here at Sts. Constantine and Helen Antiochan (Lebanese) Orthodox Church in Dallas for a Pan-Orthodox Vespers (an evening service combining all local Orthodox churches including Russian, Greek, etc.) Chantus Maximus is looking into creating their own CD soon, too!

Mar 20, 2011

Spring Break Mega Post

We started off Spring Break with more dollhouse improvements. Are you tired of hearing about it? I'm not : ) Well, I decided before we painted the house, the seams and cracks should be closed. So we started a paper mache project! I knew I would need some patience if I were to give the girls a big bowl of gluey water, but we had fun for awhile.

Until we finished and I realized 5 whole bottles of glue still wasn't enough! Oh well.

Happy Birthday to Nana! Dax made the cake, and Chloe and I iced it. We will not be opening a bakery anytime soon. I left the room for a minute and Chloe took initiative with the color glow candles. (When we gave Anna her presents, I saw Chloe's face stuck in the cake in my peripheral vision).

Last Sunday (the 2nd Week of Lent) was the Sunday of Orthodoxy. After the Liturgy, we process around the church holding our patron saint icons.

Reading of the Gospel. By this point, our kids were picking grass and tossing it around, but it's still a lovely service.

We spent pretty much all of Monday cleaning and packing. Colin played peek-a-boo.

On the road! The kids were amazingly wonderful. For once our plans turned out to be fruitful.
I remember one time, we decided to leave at 4am so they would sleep the first few hours of the trip. Instead, they woke up at 4am, didn't nap, and stayed up until bedtime that night. Not good!
So this time we left around 9. We rearranged the seating so the girls could sit together and I would sit with Colin in the back. That way I wouldn't have to turn around constantly, and bottles and toys could be given without stopping. I planned plenty of activities for the girls, and it all worked out, everyone was peacefully happy. Here, we made our first stop at a run-down gas station, because when your 4 yr. old says she has to go, you don't wait to get to a RaceTrac! The kids played in the grass while we set up the dvd screens for the next leg of the trip.

After arriving at Grandma and Papaw's, we enjoyed a delicious spaghetti meal, and settled down for the evening. The girls enjoyed their sleepover on the floor.

The next morning, we hung out at the house, then headed out to meet Papa Hats and Granny B.
We haven't seen them in over a year, and they've never met Colin!

We played in their hotel room for awhile so the kids could spend some quality time with them.

The girls played toss with Papa Hats forever! Hannah never grew tired of throwing around their new stuffed animals.

Papa Hats is really going for it!

Colin, who had barely warmed up to anyone on the trip so far, was able to calm down and listen to Granny B for a bit. It seemed he reached a stage of only wanting Mom during this vacation, so I tried to leave the room if anyone wanted to some peaceful time with him.

Being goofy.

We took a walk around the outdoor mall.

The girls fell in love with all the bronze statues of children.

Walking over to Macy's.

Was this one a crime scene?

Family pictures facing the sun. Oh well.

Pretty purple flowers.

We all ate at Red Robin and Colin got his first taste of melon.

And he fell in love.

I could not convince him to eat the orange part.

He would not let it go!

He even took it to the car : )
Later that evening Aunt Melody made it to town so we got to hang out a little that evening.

The next day we headed to the zoo. It turns out a beautiful day during spring break makes everyone want to go to the zoo. We had to park in a semi-nearby neighborhood and walk quite a ways. It was also St. Patrick's Day, thus all the green! The girls' shirts said, "I'm a wee bit Irish."
Colin's shirt said, "Sham-rockin." : )

I was surprised and Melody was obviously repulsed that right next to the leopard and other large cat environments, a man was letting kids pet the animal skins. Hannah was curious, and one girl told her, "Don't worry. They're dead." Interesting...

Colin was fine with being strolled around most of the time.

Chloe had a great time letting Papaw point out all the animals.

Who doesn't love a meerkat?

Notice the similarity? Haha.

Gotta love the boat ride! I especially love this picture because my sister and I used to ride this very ride at this very spot when we were little. We've seen the video more than a few times- it's so neat to see my own kids enjoy it.

Their fans watch in admiration.

A very suspicious bear exhibit.

Train ride- the girls were begging for this from the beginning.

After a long wait in the lines for a pork-barbeque lunch, we saw more animals, then cooled off in the little pools at the entrance. Hannah got a little confused when I told her we needed to change her pants before we left. She kept dropping her shorts then and there! No, no- in the bathroom!- we kept saying.

After the zoo, and all that walking, my mom invited me to her jazzercise class. I thought I might not make it through much of the class. In fact I had never been to any exercise class, so I didn't know what to expect. My mom had all the moves down pat, and I only danced the wrong direction a few times. : ) It was a lot of fun, and as long as I kept moving, I felt I could go on.
We enjoyed my dad's famous onion rings the next day for lunch, took the kids to the park, then Dax and I got a night out to ourselves. We went to our favorite TN restaurant, O'Charley's, and saw "The Adjustment Bureau," which we both enjoyed. We headed back the next day, the trip not quite as smooth as it was on the way there. Let's just say I lost my head for a bit and Dax got me back on track! When we returned home, our old friend Mike was waiting for us!! He's staying with us a few days because this is his UNT professor's big retirement weekend. Mike moved to California several years ago with his wife Katherine, also a good friend of ours (Dax and I like to claim we set them up originally) to take jobs as music professors. We've missed them so much, and it's been fun to introduce Mike to our kids!

Look what I got! The big new thing at my parents' house is to ride bikes. I grew up riding bikes during much of my free time. I finally got a bike a few years back, but it was stolen before I even got to ride it. Now, after riding in my parents' great neighborhood with a beautiful pond and geese roaming the streets, and after a suggestion that my mom might get me a bike as an early present, I went and picked one out! Melody also loved this bike and got one. I didn't find the same brand when I looked, but I got the same color- and that's what matters, right?

So every time I've ridden with my mom, she laughs and says I look like the Wicked Witch of the West. Then she tells me the same thing the next time, forgetting that she called me a with the last time! Apparently, I'm very scary-looking on a bike. This one's for you, Mother!

Chloe gives it a try.

You know who comes next.

I rode off down the street for a minute and the girls assumed I was taking a long trip without notice. They called after me, waved good bye, told me to be careful, etc. Then Hannah said she wanted to go, too. She didn't believe me when I told her it wasn't possible, so here is me proving it to her- haha.

So onto a couple of quick videos. 1. First signs of crawling. 2. Bottom-in-the-air scooting.
3. The trip to Memphis, happy and peaceful. 4. The trip home to Texas, the opposite.