Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Fun: Pumpkin Craft

Do you see it? The shadows outside are lengthening and daytime is getting shorter. Do you feel it? The morning air feels crisp. Do you smell it? People are beginning to bake goodies and cook soups and stews.

Autumn finally takes hold. I get so excited with Halloween approaching, and I'm not the only one. Ian has a very good recollection of last year's festivities and has been talking about it for the last month. The last time we went to the library, he determinedly said, "I'm going to find a pumpkin book!"

He did, too. All by himself. He found a book with a small picture of a pumpkin on the spine. I'm so glad he did, for he found, The Witch Casts a Spell, by Suzanne Williams. By pure luck, my little guy introduced us to this delightful book that you sing to the tune, The Farmer in the Dell. Laurel loves it, we all love it, and find ourselves singing it throughout the day.

One thing led to another, and we started repeatedly reading a book we already owned: Five Little Pumpkins, by Iris Van Rynbach. That story triggered a memory of a craft I did with second graders. I knew it would be simple enough that even Laurel and Ian could do it, and I already had all the materials. Let's get crafting!

Paper Bag Pumpkin Craft, demonstrated by 3 year old Ian, and 20 month old Laurel.

Materials needed:
  • brown paper lunch bags
  • newspaper, pages torn into fourths (done ahead of time by an adult or much older child)
  • string or yarn, any color
  • green pipe cleaners
  • orange tempera paint (washable is nice)
  • plastic cups to hold paint (I reused baby food containers)
  • paint brushes
  • old shirts or bibs or smocks to cover children while painting (or let them do it naked and then just hose them down afterwards)
  • washcloths or paper towels or other wipe type product to clean up paint spills
  • green and black construction paper
  • tacky glue
  • scissors (we used blunt ones designed for little people)

Step 1: Crumple newspaper into balls and stuff them into the paper bags, fill to desired pumpkin size.

Step 2: Adult ties bag closed with string or yarn.

Step 3: Prepare the area for painting! Anything you don't want covered in paint must leave the area. Be ready with baby wipes or paper towels to clean up spills, splashes, and all out explosions.

Step 4: Demonstrate how to use a paint brush and let the kids go for it! They paint everything except the stem (the part above the string) and the bottom. You know of course, they will paint those too, oh well, let them have fun.

For Ian, this is serious stuff. Look at the concentration!

I showed the kids how to hold onto the stem so they wouldn't get paint on their hands. As you can see, Laurel didn't quite understand.

Step 5: Let the painted pumpkins dry.

Step 6: If a stem is too long, just cut off the extra you don't want.

Step 7: An adult wraps the middle of the green pipe cleaner around each pumpkin's stem and twists it enough to stay put. Bend halves as desired for a vine-like affect.

Step 8: Cut out and glue on the faces and leaves. Laurel is too young to use scissors, so I cut out a couple different face parts and leaves that she could choose from and place on her pumpkin. I helped her squeeze the glue onto the pumpkin, and then she added the eyes, nose, mouth and leaves (the leaves were glued onto the pipe cleaners, a small piece of tape was needed to hold them on until they dried and then we took the tape off).I tried putting the glue onto the pieces and letting her place them on the pumpkin, but she kept putting the wrong side against the pumpkin, and of course they didn't stick. She also kept wiping the glue off the pieces onto her arm. That's why we ended up putting the glue directly onto the pumpkin and then adding the paper pieces.

Ian does know how to use scissors, so he cut out his own eyes, noses, mouths, and leaves for his two pumpkins. No drawing was involved, I gave him 6 inch squares of construction paper, and he just went for it.

Right after Ian cut out a piece, I had him glue it to the pumpkin so he wouldn't lose it among the scraps.

The finished product:

Here are our five little pumpkins. I made the one on the left, Laurel's are the next two, and Ian's are the two on the right. The pumpkins sit at our table, and when we eat, we have fun reciting The Five Little Pumpkins poem.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Wednesday Weigh In....

...oops, I'm a day late. Oh well, you know how things get crazy during the day.

But I did weigh myself yesterday. I'm holding at 172. No loss yet, but aha, no gain. Not bad since the night before hubby and I ate at Olive Garden and I let myself have two glasses of wine, two breadsticks, two servings of salad, and the entree. So much for portion control that night. I really don't feel guilty about it, we danced our booties off at the Dave Matthews concert afterwards.

The other three days, yes only three since I started this on Saturday, I did great. I kept track of what I was consuming. Let me tell you, when you start writing down each and every nibble, it's easy to see where all the extra calories are coming from. I caught myself reaching to finish off the kids' lunches. Unfortunately, this is a bad habit I've gotten myself into these last few years. Once I thought about the fact that I would need to record it in my journal, a fire alarm went off in my head. Quickly, I put the half eaten sandwich down.

While making dinner, I also caught myself trying to sample the foods I was preparing. Again, a fire alarm rings and brings me back to reality. All those little tastes add up, and that's not where I want to spend my calories, oh no. I'd much rather enjoy a piece of chocolate, thank you very much.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Flashdance Laurel

Laurel, you should have gone to DMB with your daddy and me last night. It was awesome! Someday...

For more WW, click here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Badge of Honor

Over a month ago, Lady M awarded me the Nice Matters Award. (Yes, I'm a bit slow at keeping up with my posts.)

“This award is for those bloggers who are nice people and good blog friends - those who bring good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded, please pass it on to others who you feel are deserving of this award.”

Thank you, Lady M. I strive to be pleasant and leave a positive imprint on the world around me. Nice is a wonderful thing to be. I was watching the movie Superman Returns, and thought to myself, if a superhero of that caliber can be polite and kind towards others and still save the world, then nice is definitely a good thing. I take pride in knowing that I'm nice.

In the blogging world, I have been fortunate to meet several women who are nice. I noticed many of you already have earned this award. There are some of us that definitely need to be recognized. Please join me in letting these beautiful, nice people know how much we appreciate them!

Heidi at Butterfly Mama
Kelli at Holding the Mirror Up to My Soul
Elizabeth at Look At Us Now!
Mama's Moon
Beth at Total Mom Haircut
Mary P. at It's Not All Mary Poppins

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Embarking on a New Journey

It's time for a change in my life, one that will improve and lengthen it. I'm 38, I really don't mind the number of years, but I do mind the wear and tear on my body. At the end of the day, my ankles and feet ache! They hurt so much I hobble. My hips, especially my left side, sometimes have a sharp pain. My energy level has dwindled down to almost nothing, in fact it is so bad, I notice I don't get down on the floor and play with my kids as much as I use to. I procrastinate everything, excusing myself from responsibility because I am too tired. My weight is increasing, and clothes are really starting to bind and pinch. Yes, it is time for change.

I want health. I want to be free from aches and lethargy. I want to vivaciously play with my children. I want to feel comfortable in my clothes. I want energy to accomplish each day's tasks.

The holidays are rapidly approaching. Halloween incorporates so much candy, my head spins thinking about all the sugar highs to be had. Thanksgiving surrounds us with loved ones, and a feast where going back for seconds and thirds is more than appropriate. Christmas, of course, means cookies, fudge, and parties. Don't forget New Year's where appetizers and drinks are abundant.

Normally, I do not dare make eating and lifestyle changes this time of year. Instead, I just expect and accept weight gain as a holiday ritual and eat myself into oblivion. Not this year, this year I am taking control over my health. When January 1, 2008 rolls around, I will look in the mirror and smile, not sigh, not cry, but smile, even clap and cheer and do a little happy dance!

Now, to accomplish this change in my life, I need to set some goals:

With a little determination, and the help of family and friends, we can accomplish anything. I know I have the support of my family and local friends. Through blogging, I know I will also have your help. If you ever want to share some advice or a kind word, I'll be more than happy to listen to what you have to say. I'm also joining the courageous gals at Tales From the Scales. They are having a weight loss challenge: Looking Great in 2008! I am very excited about joining this group and look forward to meeting some of them and reading their successes.

I love food. I know, duh, that's how I got this way in the first place. I do not believe there are bad foods, just bad portions. I will continue to eat the foods I love, but I will measure the amounts I eat. I will journal in a notebook what I am eating and keep track of the calories I consume. I already eat fairly healthy and make sure I get veggies and fruits each day, I just need to limit other foods and rethink eating an entire box of cookies. All together now, "PORTION CONTROL!"

I've noticed I'm not drinking the recommended eight glasses of water a day. Plus, I live in the desert, I probably require a bit more than that. Water consumption is a high priority.

No more excuses, I need to get up and moving every day. It may be a walk around the block, or a couple of sprints up and down the stairs, or running with my kids outside. I really want to try and involve my kids with exercise so it becomes a natural part of their day, too.

Weight loss goal
I hope to lose 10 pounds by January 1, 2008. Nothing over the top, but attainable, and definitely a step in the right direction. I currently weigh 172 pounds, ugh. Yes, being 162 pounds will be a HUGE improvement.

Whew, that's a lot to think about. But I'm ready, ready for change, ready for health and energy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A New Fashion Trend?

Potty training, so much to learn and remember. Some skills are high priority, others are not.

Poor Ian, he still is learning how to tell when his shirt is inside-out, let alone backwards. We taught him to look for a label. If there's an actual tag that's been sewn into the clothing, he usually figures things out. When the label is just printed on the actual item, he figures he can wear it any which way. Hey, I'm just so glad he's dressing himself.

I'm curious, is there anybody else out there who has children insisting that they must strip down to absolute nakedness in order to use the toilet?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ian's Day

Ian hasn't had his mommy and daddy all to himself since before Laurel was born. I decide it's time for some one-on-one time with him, plus we need a day to discretely work on potty training.

We leave Laurel with Papa Dave and Grandma Ann, and head home to go swimming. At first, Ian's idea of swimming involves cleaning the pool tiles with a pumice stone. He's a good helper, and the pool looks great! Paul and I finally convince him to ride in an inflatable boat. We push the boat fast thinking he'd love it, but he's a cautious fellow. "Mommy, gentle please."

With a gentle push, the boat glides back and forth between Paul and myself, Ian rides along much more relaxed. Each time he arrives, he comments, "Thank you for being gentle."

After an hour of pool time, we have lunch out on the patio. Ian's hair has the total surfer, windblown look, so of course I take pictures.

Ian gets a relaxing bath, we read a story, and then all three of us take a nap. Paul and I eventually, but reluctantly, get up to shower. Ian sleeps a good two hours, moving around in the pool water wears him out.

I keep checking on him so that when he wakes, I am right there, ready to walk him to the bathroom. So far, he's had no accidents. As he strips so that he can sit on the toilet, we find he is dry. Whoo-hoo!

It being Ian's day, we head off to an ice cream shop for dinner and desert. Ian eats most of his chips and a single bite of his hotdog. This is his day, so we don't push him to eat his dinner, we know he's waiting for the ice cream. The sundaes arrive and Ian delightfully giggles. In the matter of a few seconds, he gulps down all the whipped cream off the top. He eats maybe two bites of ice cream, and he's done. I guess next time we should just order him some whipped cream.

We go to get Laurel at Grandma and Grandpa's, and as we walk through the door, Ian declares, "Laurel, go with Mommy and Daddy, it's my turn."

Yup, arrangements have been made, and he gets to stay the night with his beloved Grandma and Grandpa. Hey Ian, just please don't slam the door as Daddy and Mommy walk out.

As for working on the potty training, no accidents all day!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Girls' Day

Ian gets to spend the entire day with his Grandma Edie and Papa Chuck. He practically kicks me out of their house as he waves goodbye. "Bye, mommy!" Slam.

I can't blame him for his actions. He has a lot of fun with his grandparents. Plus, Laurel's not going to be there to bug him or destroy any of his creations. Then there's the fact that he knows they're going to the Dinosaur Museum (aka: Mesa Southwest Museum).

So, it's just Laurel and I. I pronounce today, Girl's Day! Whoo-hoo!

The mall is our destination. No, not to shop, are you kidding? Laurel HATES shopping with me! The minute we step foot into a store, she goes ballistic. She so much as smells leather (shoes) or fabric, she screams and arches her back in the stroller trying to escape. Just wait Laurel, I will pay you back when you're a teenager!

No, I don't want to fight with her, I want the two of us to have fun. So instead, we play at the playground inside the mall where there's free air-conditioning. Sweet, sweet cold air! Today's temperature is 107 Fahrenheit/42 Celsius!

Laurel has a blast running around with the other toddlers and babies. The play area is primarily for that age group. All structures are padded and somewhat low to the ground. Laurel easily climbs everything, and slides down them. When she runs by me, she shouts, "Mommy, mommy, mommy, I runneen. I runneen."

Twenty minutes into play, Laurel starts sneaking out of the play area and sits in our stroller. I walk out to her and inquire, "Are you ready for a snack?"

"No, mommy! Ha, ha, hahahaha, ha!" she cackles and then runs back to the play area.

I sit back with the other parents and watch Laurel run through the area and disappear into a tunnel. Shortly, she sneaks by me and sits in the stroller again.

Again, I walk over to her and ask, "Laurel, would you like a snack?"

"No, mommy! Ha, ha, hahahaha, ha!" she again cackles and runs back to the play area.

So, it's become a game has it? We'll just see about that.

I let her play, but it isn't too much longer before she's sitting in the stroller for the third time.

I meander towards her. "Hi, Laurel. It looks like you're ready to go." I reach down, buckle her into the stroller and walk us away from the playground. "Say bye, bye to the playground."

"Bye, bye."

No screams, no tears, I guess we are both ready to do something else. We splurge and get ourselves a couple of cookies and milk, and watch the other children ride the carousel.

"Mommy, mommy, mommy, hosey, bunny."

"Would you like to ride the horse or the bunny?"

"Ride bunny on cawasuu."

"Ok, we'll ride the bunny on the carousel."

And of course we do. And of course I'm a sucker, and we ride the carousel a second time, only on a horse.

Laurel passes out on the drive home. I gaze at her sweet reflection in the rear-view mirror, while thinking about the morning's events and how much fun I've had with my daughter.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


This is the last of our wonderful trip to San Diego that I'll be sharing. Mom and Dad rented a condo on Mission beach. The beach was literally a stone's throw away. Did my husband and I get pictures of our excited children digging in the sand, chasing the waves, or searching for seashells? No. Sniff. So instead, I bring you Legoland.

New York City built with Lego blocks, impressive! The tallest building is the Freedom Tower. This is the first time I had seen a model of it. Absolutely striking, it makes one stop and remember.

Legoland pleasantly surprised me. It was the perfect amusement park for our three year old and nineteen month old. I'm guessing from three to six years old are the ideal ages for kids to enjoy what Legoland has to offer.

When we arrived, they had two different parking fees: regular for 10 dollars, and "preferred" for 20. We went ahead and paid the extra 10 dollars since Dad was needing a wheelchair and we forgot to bring the handicap parking sign to hang on our rearview mirror. Spending the extra money was worth it, we parked right next to the entrance, whoo-hoo!

We purchased our tickets at Costco, saving us some money. I figured we would also save some time by not having to wait in line to buy tickets, but the lines were only three people long, not busy at all. Once inside, we slathered on the sunblock and headed for the sights, sounds, smells, and rides.

Uncle David takes in the sights with Laurel. Isn't Laurel's harness cute? It gives her freedom from a stroller and yet keeps her from running away and falling into water sources or into other people or vehicles. It's so soft and cute, that she loves it and even snuggles up to it when it's off.

Ian was tall enough to ride their Coastersaurus. Once upon a time, Paul and I were coaster enthusiasts. That past-time has been put on hold since Ian's conception. We were more than happy to share the adrenaline rush with Ian. After waiting in line a few minutes, we looked up and were surprised to see Paul's dad already loaded in the front car of the train. He took advantage of his wheelchair status and got to enter the loading area via the exit and didn't have to wait. Smooth move, Dad!

Ian loved the rollercoaster! Another ride he enjoyed was driving his own car. This totally cracked us up. He knew exactly how to buckle himself in, but had no clue how to drive. He'd continually over correct his steering and end up crashing into another car or the edge of the track. Ian also drove me around in a boat. His steering improved dramatically, but we still experienced a few bumps along the river.

This is the storybook boat ride. You can see Grandma Ann, Uncle Jason and Ian in the first boat. Uncle David and Laurel are in the following boat. They're all looking at the Prince on the horse made out of Lego blocks. It's hard to see, but he's holding a cell phone up to his ear.

Ian loved the Thomas the Tank Engine built out of Legos!

The miniature cities built out of Legos were quite impressive. Ian was extremely excited by the moving garbage trucks that were also made from Legos.

Laurel creates her own amusement: pick up leaves and run around a tree. Whee!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

San Diego Birch Aquarium

Tuesday, August 28

Morning stories help Laurel and Ian wake up before we rush off to the Birch Aquarium.

Ian marvels at the jellyfish.

Papa Chuck helps Laurel get a better view of the jellyfish.

Kudos to the aquarium for having hands on exploration for little ones. Papa Dave watches Ian, Laurel, and Paul play with the water currents. Notice Laurel's tongue sticking out - a family trait.

Grandma Ann and Grandma Edie pose for pictures with the kids.

Ian talks about the sharks with a new found friend.


Still hungry, the shark chomps on Uncle Jason for dessert.

Wordless Wednesday: Laurel's First Pony-Tails

For more WW, click here.

Monday, September 03, 2007

San Diego Zoo

Sunday, August 26

Some pictures from our visit to the San Diego Zoo...

A little over four months ago, I posted about my Mother-in-Law's double lung transplant. Thanks to a successful operation and recovery, not only was she able to walk through the zoo, but she was also able to help push her husband through in his wheelchair. (He fell off a ladder and broke his ankle, poor guy.) Notice the smile, the glow of health on her face, and the lack of an oxygen tank! Way to go, Mom!

Ian and Laurel watch the gorillas sleep.

The kids have fun playing among gorilla statues.

Observing Pygmy Hippos.

Ian tries to keep up with a Pygmy Hippo.

Uncle Jason watches Laurel while she plays a quick game of peek-a-boo with me.

Ian strikes a pose while a panda waves in the background.

Grandma Ann tries to point out an animal to Laurel and Ian.

"Hi Polar Bear, hi."

I love these shoes! These shoes saved my feet during all of that walking.

Vacation...Road Trip to San Diego

Saturday, August 25

9:00 a.m.
Black cat crosses in front of our van as we arrive at Papa Dave and Grandma Ann's. We load up last minute stuff into their car and ours, and off we go.

10:10 a.m.
Parking lot on the 202. Darn that black cat!!! Mental note for next trip: Check for freeway closures. Once home, write letter to ADOT (Arizona Department of Transportation), telling them to try thinking.

Looking back at Grandma Ann and Papa Dave's car.

Nothing but red brake lights ahead...sigh.

11:30 a.m.
Finally drive three miles to get off freeway, head to Casa Grande for lunch. Next stop at Yuma. Carl's Jr has an awesome play area for the kids! Finally we cross the California state line.

Sand dunes along the Arizona/ California border.

Look out, dust storm ahead.

Enormous car chopping/ pureeing windmills.

Can you say wind power?

Precious cargo. Are we there yet?

7:30 p.m.
We finally arrive at our rental in San Diego. We hear waves on the beach, all is good.