Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'm Sorry If You Can't Handle The Cuteness

This post contains some really cute pictures. But first...we had some snow, and by snow I mean about an inch of the driest, most glittery snow known to mankind. It was pretty, but not suitable in quantity or texture for the making of snowman or snowforts. It did, however, make surprisingly good sledding snow. We slogged down to James' school to see what that hill was like. Newsflash: everyone goes there! And I must say, the hills in Cobalt Ridge have nothing on us! Our section has bigger hills, and apparently no one knows about them. We ended up coming back to our neighborhood. I think I had as much fun as the kids. I love sledding! 

And now, on the cuteness I promised. So, I have an announcement to make which will only concern adoring relatives....drumroll, please....I cut Katie's hair. And it turned out adorable!! Behold, the hair cut:

Here she is posing with Tyler. I was trying to get a picture of her in the outfit that I made for her. She is in desperate need to new dresses, and who am I to complain? Sewing for a little girl is so much fun! P.S. I sewed the shirt sleeves on this morning. How's that for hot off the press?

And more cuteness: 

And then, some silliness: 

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Cabin Fever

It seems that one or more of us has been mildly, but annoyingly, sick for the last month. James had a cold before Christmas, then I got it. I got over it, and James got pink eye. James got over it and then got it again. Then Katie got it. Three times. Then Tyler got it twice. There have also been mild, cold like symptoms going back and forth, currently settled in my throat. And yes, Grandma, I have been taking my lysine and Cold-ease, just like you said. I think it has helped. Last week, Tyler had the mildest bit of a cold, which somehow manifested itself into nightly screaming, coughing and gulping fits every 30 minutes or so, for 5-6 nights in a row. But who's counting? The doctor was a bit puzzled as we were, because he was totally fine during the day with not so much as a runny nose. She finally decided that it might be draining, and had us give him Kids' Sudafed. It has caused us to have two glorious nights of sleep! The doctor felt comfortable giving it to him on a short-term basis, so I shall put aside any qualms I have about giving my kid Baby Meth.

Moving along, I was trying to avoid turning this post into WhineFest 2013 so I will get to my point: I need to get out of the house! Run free! Feel the wind in my hair! The grass under my feet! I tried running through the backyard, but all I felt under my feet was frozen chicken poop. Just kidding. So, despite the fact that it is a balmy 19 degrees with an icy breeze, I took the kids to the park. Bundled the little buggers up and threw them in the car. Oddly enough, there was no one else at the park. Hmmm....could there be a reason for that? The kids had fun and ran off some steam, I got some much-needed fresh air* and we came home. Everybody's happy, happy, happy.

*Last week I didn't run, because I didn't sleep and hauling my butt out of bed at 5:30 just didn't seem prudent. This week, I haven't run on principle. I mean, I don't mind the cold, and I will run when it's 30 degrees, but when you get down into the mid-twenties and teens, I draw the line. If I don't warm up after running almost 4 miles, well, there's just something wrong with that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Will Work For Craft Supplies (Plus Other Ramblings)

At this point it is glaringly obvious that Katie has received the creative gene. I am pretty sure in another year or so she and I will be vying for who gets to use the sewing machine. She loves having a desk in her room and keeps adding her scavenged art supplies to her secret stash. Our neighbor brought us a box of envelopes last week, complete with an adhesive strip so you don't have to acquire an awkward paper cut trying to lick the glue. The kids have been having lots of fun sending 'mail' to each other. Then yesterday, Katie came to tell me that I really needed to get her some tape, because she was running out of envelopes. After a brief head-scratch, and a peek at her latest project, I realized that my clever girl has been cutting the adhesive strip off the envelope and using it for tape. Genius if I do say so myself! However, I think I will buy the girl a roll of tape one of these days. 

And in other news:

Winter is here. I let Tyler ride his bike in the house. Crazy. Didn't last too long, but I had long enough to take a picture of the little bike bucket I made him.

Other indoor entertainment: put your bathing suit on (over footies, of course) and spend the morning swimming in the ocean! They took turns diving in off the chair, and 'splashing' me.

My little swimmers. I was standing in the ocean just to get this picture. How's that for dedication?!

A cake I made last week. Now I can add superhero to the list of random cakes I have made (including an elephant, a doll, the Discovery Space Shuttle, a Rubix cube....)

Last year, I got brave and tried sewing with knits. Turns out, they are not that scary. I just got a new sewing machine and it has lots of fancy stitches for knit. I made this dress and love how it turned out because I finished the inside using the overcasting stitch and to quote Jeff, it looks 'better than the store'. Which for us sewing nerds is a good thing. 

Tyler was very good about not touching the cake, even though I knew he really, really wanted to. (the boy lives for birthday cake)

Last night we had a weird 30 minute snow storm, which left a surprising amount of snow for such a short time. Too bad it is not enough to do anything with. I am rooting for a big storm. At least it is cold enough that the snow will be around for a while. 

Katie decided that if there wasn't enough snow to make a snowman, she would make the snow into ice, then make an ice snowman. Not sure about that logic, but here she is mixing up her ice. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tyler: He Keeps Me On My Toes

The other morning, as with most mornings, the Squatch and I were making something in the kitchen. The boy loves to sit on the counter and help cook. I turned around to do something and when I turned back, he was looking at me very sternly, wielding a big kitchen knife. He said to me: 'Mom! You left this out! It NOT PON-HIBLE!!!' Well, then. Take that from the 3 year old waving a knife around. I must work on being more responsible!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Here is the (random) rundown from the last week, in no particular order:

  • On Monday, Jeff stayed home from work and we kept James home from school to go to the PA Farm Show. We even coerced Grammy and Chappy into going! It was fun to have them along, and although I could do without the zillion people there, we had fun. The highlight for us adults may have been the food court, where between us all, we managed to sample deep-fried mushrooms, beef hotdogs, pulled pork, fish, maple frozen yogurt, whoopie pies, 'toasted cheese' sandwiches, and a giant chocolate chip cookie. Going for round two was tempting. We got to see lots of animals, and peruse the newest farm equipment. $300,000+ combine anyone? The next day when James got home from school, he looked at me incredulously and said 'Can you believe that Mrs. R doesn't know what a combine is!?!?' Well, she does now I'm sure. That boy is destined to be a farmer.
  • I let Katie choose her clothes today. She is dressed in what I can only describe as 'Psychedelic Mennonite,' with a long purple skirt, lavender shirt, hot pink tights, and sensible tennis shoes. All she is missing is the lace cap.
  • Speaking of Mennonite, my mom grew up Mennonite in the far reaches of northern Minnesota. There are certain things that my Mom would make when we were kids that her Ma made them (German/Mennonite recipes). One of those things is Weronika which are cheese pockets. It is sort of like a peirogi but with a cottage cheese filling. I made them last night for the kids, complete with caramelized onions and bacon, and sour cream gravy and sauteed cabbage. It was delicious, and my arteries now have job security, at least for the next day or two. I also made sweet potato blintzes this week. I am not really sure what the difference between a blitz and a crepe is, but it was good. I've never made either before, but I have new cookbooks for Christmas and I am on a new recipe kick! So far everyone is happily putting up with my cooking shenanigans. 
  • Tyler's repertoire of imaginary friends is growing. Today, I learned about his baby brother Frankie. 
  • I made a grievous error in my last blog post...Jimmy Steward? Hello! I do know how to spell his name, I promise. I suppose that is what happens when you are quickly firing off posts in between peeling children off the bookshelves and such. Quality control gets a little lax.
  • Have you ever wondered what would happen if you drop a brand spankin' new gallon of milk on the floor, from approximately waist height? Well, wonder no more. I will tell you. Milk goes EVERYWHERE, and then some. I was carrying in groceries from BJ's today and the box broke. The milk fell and split open. There was milk on the walls, the furniture, the ceiling, our clothes, the rug...basically all over the entire living room, and into the kitchen. It was epic. I can't imagine if the entire jug had spilled! 
  • And one more thing...toothbrushes. I like to send toothbrushes in our shoe boxes, but I have had trouble finding decent toothbrushes and toothpaste at a decent price. Even though it seems trivial, I decided to pray that I would find some good deals on toothbrushes. Yesterday, my neighbor knocked on my door. He had two big boxes of toothbrushes that his sister, a teacher, had received in the mail. She was going to throw them away because she didn't know what to do with them. Um, hello! Besides the obvious answer which would be to give them to the intended students, I am sure there are a lot of people who could use them. My neighbor told her I might want them, and of course I do! There are 80 toothbrushes all together, and coupons with each one so I will probably get the rest I need for really cheap. When I prayed for toothbrushes, I didn't know they would show up at my front door!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Meet Dino

Yesterday, Tyler informed me that he has a friend named Dino. (pronounced like DINO saur, not Dee-no) Apparently, Dino is his imaginary friend. I can't tell you how excited this made me (or why) but it did. Maybe because we used to love watching that movie Harvey, with Jimmy Steward and his imaginary bunny. He told me how Dino is his friend, but he lives very far away. His Daddy 'got dead' but he lived with his Mommy. He likes trains. He doesn't take naps...ever, ever, or in Tyler-speak 'eher, eher!' And he doesn't sleep at all, because he doesn't like to.  In fact, he doesn't have a bed because he doesn't need one. Dino shares his toys, even though he lives far away. When Jeff asked Tyler about Dino later that day, he said that Dino's Daddy was alive again. Well, that's good! I wonder if Dino will stick around, or if it was just a one-day friendship. We shall see!

Friday, January 04, 2013

A Christmas Nativity

This Christmas the kids wanted to hold some of the Christmas festivities at our house. They came up with the idea to have a nativity play. They discussed among themselves who would play which part. Initially, it was determined that Tyler would be Joseph, Katie would be Mary, James would play both the part of the donkey Mary rides into Bethlehem, and then the shepherd. Katie was determined that Jeff play the part of an angel. In the end, Tyler refused to partake, and Katie rode a stick horse to Bethlehem. The costumes were very high-tech. James wore a bathrobe over his long underwear, with my scarf over his head. He was accompanied by his stuffed dog, 'Little Dan.' Bonus points if you can figure out why he named his dog 'Little Dan.' Katie wore another one of my scarfs over her head. And Jeff, ohhhhhh, Jeff. For his angle costume, he donned his cowboy hat, glittery gold flame sunglasses and Tyler's jet pack on his back. It was super.

The narrator was suffering a cold, and read the Christmas story with much hoarseness. Tyler sat in the midst of it all playing with his new boat.

Jeff put a lot of emotion into his performance: 'and Behold! An angel of the Lord!' James also put emotion into his performance, but his was more of a first-grader after too many candy canes type of thing.

It was a stellar performance for all involved.

The angel speaking to the shepherd

Mary hanging out in the stable with her Raggedy Ann baby Jesus; note the stable is accompanied by an interesting assortment of stuffed animals

Jet-packs at the ready! The angel visits Mary.

The shepherd shows up...

The angel sings!

And off he goes!!!

I am sure that Grandma, Aunt Sally, Grammy and Chappy were impressed with our show. Stay tuned for next year's show! We might be dangerous with a little planning ahead.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

I Finished a Quilt!!!

Long ago, in a land far away, I used to a quilter. Then I had kids. Quilting since then has been spotty at best. Then, at least a year ago...probably more, I started a quilt for James. And yesterday, I finished it! If you heard angels singing down from the heavens, that is why. The following pictures aren't fabulous. When my trusty 6' 4" quilt holder is home, I plan on getting better pictures. I kind of didn't want to give it away, but I guess I will see it everyday so it's all good. I better start Katie's next and maybe by the year 2034 I can get around to making one for Jeff and I too, after Tyler's of course. 

The fabric is mostly wild horses, but the green border in there (if you can tell from the picture) is made of farm-ish fabric.

I used some fancy stitching on my new sewing machine using variegated thread. It used a whole lot of thread. And a whole lot of time. But it looks really pretty.


Along the bottom, I hand embroidered 'Be strong and courageous' from James' favorite verse: Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." 

The happy boy with his quilt. I was finishing it up last night (yeah, it was supposed to be done by Christmas...story of my life) and he asked me if I finished it, to put it over him when he was asleep so he could wake up with his quilt.

It passes the comfy test!

More Christmas Festivities

Have I ever mentioned how awesome Grandma is? Well, she is. And doesn't she look classy sporting the bow tie Katie bought her, and Katie's Elton John glasses? Rock it, Grandma!

Chappy wearing the glasses Katie picked out for him; this girl and her facial expressions...she's something else!

Tyler's face pretty much sums up how I feel about the packaging that encompassed his toy boat

But the boat...made for a very happy boy!

And speaking of happy boys...

Tyler and Chappy playing sharks

Aunt Sally sporting my super awesome glasses I 'won' at our small group white elephant exchange

And Katie showing off her dolls (L to R) the doll I made her for Christmas, my original Raggedy Anne doll, and the doll she got from Grammy when she was born. Poor Raggedy Anne has got some age spots on her!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


To celebrate our anniversary, we went to the Franklin Institute to see the Titanic exhibit. I was so excited to go! The exhibit was huge, and very well organized. You had to buy timed tickets and even then, there were a ton of people there. When we entered the exhibit we were each given a 'boarding pass,' which had information of real Titanic passengers. Both Jeff and I were first class passengers, Jeff traveling alone and I with a few relatives. The first several rooms showed information on the building of the ship, and had various pieces of the boat (nothing huge...more of the 'hardware' that goes on a boat). After that, there was a beautiful reproduction of the grand staircase. Sadly, we couldn't take any pictures. You could, however, pay $$ (of course!) to get your picture taken on the staircase. The farther into the exhibit, the more personal the artifacts were. Toiletries, luggage, trolley tickets, letters, money, jewelry and more. Some were very damaged by water, but overall I was surprised that things held up for so many decades on the ocean floor. They also built a reproduction of the third class quarters and the first class quarters, which we walked through. Then, they had us walk down a very dark hall. It was hard to see and we weren't sure if that was it. But the farther down the hall, the louder the sound got. When we turned the corner, we were in the 'boiler room.' They had a huge chunk of coal recovered from the ship, and photos of the firemen that ran the furnace. Then you went through a reproduction of the water-tight chamber doors they had on the ship. The exhibit then detailed the timeline of the ship sinking. Sadly, everyone was so sure that the Titanic was unsinkable that precautions were not taken. In fact, even when the ship was sinking some people refused to get on the lifeboats because they thought the ship was unsinkable. As part of the exhibit, they even had an 'ice berg' that you could touch. We learned that salt water freezes at colder temperatures, and that the water and air surrounding the ice berg were significantly colder. These warning signs were also ignored. The next wing of the exhibit was dedicated to the sinking and later discovery of the Titanic on the ocean floor. They even had special lights playing water ripples on the floor to make it feel like you were underwater. They had huge pictures on the wall of what the site looked like upon discovery, and then in front of the photos were the actual artifacts! The most interesting one to me was a china cabinet that had been thrown from the ship as it split in half. It landed in the sand and settled into it. As time went on, the wood rotted away. The china plates stayed exactly as they were, neatly stacked in the sand (picture above). In front of the picture, they had the actual plates on display in sand just like they had been found. They also had a piece of angle iron from the ship, and had it displayed in such a way so you could stick a finger through a hole in the plexiglass and touch the real Titanic! After the sinking/recovery/artifacts displays, they had a few rooms full of the more personal items and stories. Some people's belongings were remarkably preserved and told the story of why the people were on the boat. It was sad. There were stories of people that weren't going to ride on the Titanic, but changed plans at the last minute and died on the ship. There was a family with 5 or 6 kids that rode in 3rd class to go to America, and they all were lost. There were also happy stories, of people who survived or were heroes that day. One man gathered as many people as he could and prayed with them all to bring them comfort. He didn't make it. There was a two month old baby on board, and she survived with her mother and siblings. There was a young man who was to sail on the ship, and at the last minute changed his mind. His belongings were already on the ship and they were so well preserved it was amazing. He even had a humorous post card in his bag. 1912 humor is a little different than it is now. :) On the wall of the last exhibit was a list of passengers, those who survived and those who were lost. You could check your ticket and look for your 'name' and see if you survived. Jeff and I didn't make it. Seeing the exhibit was really amazing. What happened was such a tragedy, but the stories that have come from it are fascinating. I suppose that is the appeal of the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

How is it 2013 already!? Craziness. First of all, I would like to thank all the wonderful people in our neighborhood who feel the need to go out at midnight and bang pots and pans together, fire off guns and fireworks, set off your car alarms and scream at the top of your lungs. It is a special moment I look forward to each year, as I just can't wait to see how many of us wake up from the racket. This year, it was 3 out of 5. I realize its the new year and all, but seriously? On another note, here is the link to our most memorable New Years ever.

On another side note (warning: side notes are probably all this post will consist of) Jeff is downstairs playing tag with the kids. As he does often when they are getting really loud and riled up, he told them they were going to play mental tag instead. Ha! No matter how much we explain it, they just don't see the allure of standing still and just 'thinking' about tagging someone. I wonder why... :)

Tyler is busy perfecting his white man's dance. It looks something akin to bobble head doll meets hula girl meets booty shake. And the feet, they don't move. He does this all while stationary. The awesome thing is that he got this book for Christmas that plays music. He pushes the button, gets into position and starts dancing. If he gets really crazy, he will jump up and down. By the time he starts dancing, the music stops and he has to repeat the whole process. Its hilarious to watch!

I finally moved my desk into Katie's room. The girl needs a place to corral her art supplies. I have a whole new appreciation for my parents putting up with my creative endeavors. Katie has a project going at all times. It is so cute to walk into her room and see her sitting there at her desk, cutting and gluing like a pro. She sits there she's 5 going on 35, and the only thing that gives her away is the footie pajamas.

Grandma had to go home on Saturday. If I could have thought of any way to keep her here, I would have. I would keep her forever if she let me. We had so much fun while she was here, doing puzzles and playing Bananagrams. Technically, the puzzle thing wasn't exactly fun because a) the puzzle had about 3 similar shades of green which made differentiating areas very difficult, b) it had 1500 pieces, c) there were additional pieces mixed in (thank you, thrift store) and d) perhaps the most vexing reason of all, they must have screwed up punching out the puzzle, because there were cuts in the pieces and some of the pieces had bits shaved off leaving a gap. Oh, and not all the pieces locked together, and they would fall apart if you looked at them wrong. We finally scrapped that one, and Grandma had the genius idea of convincing everyone that we had completed the next puzzle in only a hour or so. (it was mostly assembled in the box) Or scheme worked with mixed results.

Well, enough drivel for one day. Happy New Year, y'all!