Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sick again

Grace, Ethan, and I have all caught another cold bug which is just fantastic. The kids both have snotty noses and I have a sore throat and feel yucky. Yesterday we laid low and stayed in our jammies for half the day. Grace even put herself down for a nap by crawling into Mommy and Daddy's bed and falling asleep! The fact that she put herself down for a nap speaks volumes.

Monday, September 29, 2008

For the Love of Pie

Those of you that know me well know that I love pie. You would also know that I have never in my life bought a store-bought pie crust, nor am I likely to ever do so. For some reason it seems like most people are scared of making pie crust and I think it's truly a shame. They aren't very hard and the results are sooooo worth the extra five minutes it takes to put together.

I'm sharing my Mom's super yummy pie crust recipe that I use for two crust pies (and some one crust....but I have a pat in the pan recipe that I also like for those). Hopefully someone reading will be inspired to bake a pie with homemade pie crust!

Almost Perfect Pastry
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt or more if desired
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2.5 oz (or use 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp) milk

Combine salt with flour. Add oil and milk, combined with fork or large spoon. Add small amount of flour if dough is too moist. Roll between two pieces of waxed paper. It helps to dampen the counter first to prevent it from slipping. Roll to desired size and peel off waxed paper to fit dough in the pan. Finish with pie filling and bake as directed. To bake crust for one crust pie preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for 50 minutes in a 9 inch pie plate.

And here is the result you can expect:

I sewed!

I'm not much of a seamstress but every now and again I get the urge to attempt to sew something which usually results in a lot of aggravation, scrutinizing the manual for 20 minutes at a stretch, and plenty use of the seam ripper. Last year I found some really cute vintage Halloween fabric and bought it with the intention to make Grace a trick-or-treat bag with it. I also bought the black canvas, orange dingle ball trim, and some coordinating orange thread in that moment of inspiration. What I didn't take into consideration at the time was that I was 8.5 months pregnant and not surprisingly the project sat in a plastic bag on the washing machine for two months before being put away in the sewing materials box in the office closet.

Yesterday I was looking at Grace's AWANAS book bag and remembered the trick-or-treat bag project I had in the closet so I pulled the stuff out and gave it a go. My sewing skills have not seen great improvement, and it took me a good chunk of the evening (much to David's chagrin) but I'm proud to say I finished it. And it actually looks pretty good! My wrestling match with the thread tension totally paid off which means I'm now thinking I need to find some cute boyish Halloween fabric to make Ethan one...

Isn't it cute?!?

The orange dingle balls totally make the bag. Of course the coolest feature of the bag according to Grace when I showed it to her is that it is made specifically to hold candy. Even orange dingle balls can't trump candy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Family Shakespeare Trip

Perhaps we're crazy but we brought along both Grace and Ethan on our annual trip to Ashland to attend the Shakespeare Festival this year. We're not totally nuts and brought along my Mom to watch the kids in the evenings while we saw the plays (THANK YOU!!!). We've gone to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival every year since our honeymoon. Somehow we've managed to attend while we were poor college students, twice when I was hugely pregnant (Grace was born 3 weeks after our trip in 2005!), and twice with nursing babies now. Next year we will happily leave the kids behind and enjoy an adult trip!

We saw Othello and Our Town this year and both preferred Our Town. Our goal is to eventually see the entire cannon so next year we want to see Henry VIII and Music Man just for fun. When we got home we went through our programs from previous years to figure out which plays we've seen so far so we can try to keep track. So far we've seen The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, and Othello. We've also seen A Raisin in the Sun, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, and Our Town.

We attempted to have my Mom take a family photo of the four of us at the fountain in Ashland and I snapped a few of Grace wearing her flower "crown" she got that day. She enjoyed tossing pennies into the fountain.

Little Mommy

Grace told me the other day that she is going to grow big and be a Mommy one day. I have no doubt she will be an excellent mother in the far distant future. She takes excellent care of her baby dolls. They are nursed, burped, diapered, take naps, go on stroller rides, and yes she even wears them in the pouch I made for her. Grace's babies are well loved.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kellie's new do!

So I wasn't brave enough to blog about my upcoming haircut in case I chickened out and just got a trim, but I didn't chicken out and now I have super short hair. Shorter then I've ever gone before...she even had to pull out the razer to trim the back! I'm pretty happy with it, we'll see what it looks like when I attempt to style it myself tomorrow without the 3000 beauty products the hairstylist used.

Sometimes I feel like I was born without the hair knowledge gene that every self respecting female seems to have been born with. Hopefully poor Grace won't suffer as a result! I have very little experience with a curling iron, hair dryer, or any such hair product. Not only was I born without the know how but also the desire since my ideal hair cut involves shampoo, towel drying, and little else. Let's hope this hair cut proves close to that ideal.

By the way, this is the first time I've had bangs in 17 years. It's been awhile and let's hope I figure out what I'm supposed to do with them!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photography Madness

Today I brought Ethan in to the Salem Picture People to have his first birthday pictures done. I received a coupon for a free 8x10 and figured why not? We've only done JCP pictures for Grace a couple of times with mostly bad results so I was optimistic that Picture People could do a better job. Plus Ethan is a very smiley baby and will smile at just about anything at the drop of a hat. I figured it was as good of a time as any to attempt Ethan's first professional photo shoot!

I should have known that fate wouldn't be on my side. It never is when it comes to professional photos of the kids. I timed the photo session to happen just after Ethan's nap so he'd be fresh and ready to go. Instead he was tired and wanted absolutely nothing to do with sitting still let alone SMILE at the camera. All he really wanted to do was get up and run to me the moment the photographer was ready to shoot. We tried lots of different props, set ups, and what not to see if anything would help him smile a little. Grace was upset that we weren't taking photos of her which I was prepared for. She really had no idea why anyone would want to take pictures of Ethan all by himself, it is such a foreign concept for her! I promised her a trip to the carousal if she cooperated which worked for the most part. She only whined and tried to jump into the photo half the time instead of the entire time.

I picked up the First Birthday onesie from Gymboree when it came on sale for under $5. I figured it will be worn for pictures, for his birthday party, and on his actual birthday and then will be sold on Ebay for hopefully what I paid for it. I also picked up the three balloons and the package of party hats for under $5 from the party store in Salem before the photos and I'm so glad I did. We'll be using the hats for his party in a few weeks, both Grace and Ethan seemed to really like them!

When we finally saw the results of the photo shoot I was pretty surprised with how many good shots the photographer had managed to capture. I think JCP really had my expectations fairly low so seeing some good photos was a pleasant surprise! I picked out my free 8x10 and one sheet of wallet sized photos for four sets of great grandparents and two sets of grandparents and called it a day.

I really wish I had a nice large white backdrop so I could take these photos myself, but until then I'll have to be happy with occasional trip to the photographers. My options at home are limited to the lovely background of messy house, suburbia front yard, or mass of weeds in the backyard. None of which are generally the look I'm going for.

So here you go, these are my pictures of the pictures. You get the idea.

Legal Fingerpainting and One Happy Cubbie!

As you may remember, Grace "finger painted" her Opa and Oma's guest bedroom back in July. Well Grace received some finger paints as a birthday gift from a friend and yesterday was the first day I was brave enough to let her try finger painting out....in a highly controlled setting! She had to have her hair tied back completely out of her face, she had to wear her big bib, and we set out the vinyl "arts and crafts" tablecloth and we were ready to go. I let her use two colors at a time so she could experiment with mixing colors which she only did with some coaxing. She really liked finger painting (no surprise there!) and I'm sure we'll be doing it more often now that I know it can be done without a disasterous mess.

Her finished masterpieces:

Last night was AWANAS and while we got there late (it starts at 6:30 and I thought it started at 7pm!) Grace still joined in without hesitation and seemed to have fun. I strapped Ethan to my back in my mei tai and worked on organizing the MOPS closet while Grace joined the 3-4 year old Cubbies. When I picked her up at 8pm she was happily playing with play dough and was super excited about her new Cubbie vest. She was sooooo excited about it I had to take a picture to capture her joy! I'm not so sure she'll be very good at memorizing her verses but she does like to look at the Cubbies book. I'm sure she'll catch on to verse memorization eventually, especially when she sees the other kids reciting their verses and earning stickers. Never underestimate the power of a sticker reward.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Food Fun & Babies

Friday night we had our friends James and Jessi over for dinner and they were nice enough to bring dinner with them! Jessi worked very hard on a from scratch lasagna recipe from the Furlo Family Recipe Book she received as a wedding gift. The lasagna was delicious and the company was fantastic which made for a lovely meal.

Saturday we had a barbecue for our friends Jamison and Amanda who are staying with us while they're in town from Indiana. We had some of our mutual friends over and served them some seriously blackened hot dogs. To David's credit he did grill some good hamburgers and most of the hotdogs weren't so charcoaled. Josh took one for the team and ate the worst of the charcoal dogs.

Sunday we all went out to breakfast at a place in Salem that makes super good food. I had the peaches and cream french toast and used up all my Weight Watchers points for the month of September but it was worth it! We made it back to Dallas in time for Sunday School at 9:30 and played some Rock Band 2 that we picked up while in Salem early in the morning. I totally rocked the drums.

Jamison had to fly out last night but Amanda is staying with us until tomorrow so she can work a bit down in Corvallis. I'm watching their 3 month old daughter Elaine today and tomorrow and so far it's going pretty good. She's a fairly easy baby and it's mostly Ethan who's difficult. It didn't help that both Elaine and Ethan were ready for a nap at the same time this morning, that got a little interesting!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ballet Class Video

Sorry for the delay and poor quality of video, but since I had to hold Ethan to keep him from joining the girls I didn't get a chance to get a good video. Ethan also kept trying to grab the camera so when you notice all the movement that would be him "assisting" me.

The circle time in the beginning, Grace is the shortest pink ballerina with her hair up in a bun.

Dancing with ribbon sticks to a Little Mermaid song...does it get any better for her?!? She's the short one in the middle with the blue ribbon stick.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Under the Couch Treasures

I've spent the day cleaning the house for company (which is really just an excuse to clean this messy place!) and am almost all done except for vacuming. I always save vacuming for the last since it makes most sense to clean top to bottom. Well I just did the preliminary under the couch clean up and here is what I found:

One pink dress up shoe
One play teacup and saucer
One puzzle piece
One jar of baby food
One plastic old lady figure
One plastic gear from the gear toy
One raisin

What do you find when you clean under your couch?

Zoo Day

We had a blast yesterday taking my Dad to the Washington Park Zoo! It was a very warm day but the zoo has a lot of shade so it really didn't seem too bad. We brought the red wagon instead of the stroller, hoping that Grace might agree to sit in it at times but she hopped out at the first exhibit and didn't get back in again. Ethan rode happily in the red wagon for all but about 20 minutes which is pretty good!

We toured the African animals exhibits first where we saw the Cheetah, giraffes, zebras, bats, hippos, and gazelles. For some reason we saw the backsides of most of those animals. Guess that's what they thought of us! Grace was very happy to see the hippos and was also impressed with how tall the giraffe was. She must have thought I was kidding when I told her they were as tall as trees!

After the African animals we stood in line to see the new baby elephant and it didn't dissapoint. He was adorable! I chatted with the zoo keepers standing there some and they said he didn't quite know what to do with his trunk yet and kept trying to eat it. Reminds me of human babies and how they discover their body parts and aren't quite sure what they're for either!

I also discovered that he took in 16 gallons of milk a day nursing which made me really feel for the Mommy elephant. I can only imagine!

Ethan wasn't too sure about the monkey exhibit, he watched them with a pretty worried look on his face which was hilarious! The orangutans were wearing clothes so I snapped a photo to remind myself that if an orangutan is capable of getting up and dressed for the day so am I. Some days it's just too tempting to stay in pajamas.

After the monkeys we stopped for an ice cream break and enjoyed a cold treat. Grace enjoyed her strawberry cone and kept trying to eat it from the bottom up which got to be a bit messy!

After ice cream we saw the bears, the farm exhibit, and the Northwest exhibits where we saw some turtles that Ethan went nuts over. He got so excited and kept banging on the glass despite my best efforts to stop him. I'm sure the turtles loved that.

After the cougar was done looking at Grace like she was lunch we headed back to the car and the 90 minute drive from the zoo back to my Dad's office. Usually that drives takes half that time but traffic was absolutely terrible. I feel so spoiled to not have to deal with rush hour traffic like that on a daily basis! Then we drove home to play a little before bath time and bed time. It was a good day.

Hope you had fun Dad! I know the kids both did. Grace decided that she was a monkey, Ethan is a bear cub, I am a turtle, and David is a rhinoceros. She also pretended her wash cloth in the bath tub was a baby monkey so I'd say we'll be hearing about zoo animals for awhile!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

No AWANAS for Grace last night

Last night was supposed to be Grace's first night of AWANAS but as we were getting ready to get in the car she threw a mega tantrum and a result we stayed home. It was partly my fault since I didn't insist on her taking a nap today (she's been trying to drop naps, only taking them sporadically and often ill timed) and rushed the getting ready to go process. I didn't realize the time so I was hurrying her along to get shoes on and her hair ready and she just fell to pieces on the way out the door. She cried and carried on for about 20 minutes in her room and when she was done I went in to talk to her about it. I asked her why she was crying and she said it was because she wanted to go to AWANAS and was sad she didn't get to go. Probing a little deeper it turned out that she originally threw a fit because she was hungry and wanted a graham cracker. Probably because she ate like a bird at dinner. We had a talk about how it's much better to talk to Mommy and tell me what she needs rather then throw a tantrum. I told her if she had told me she was hungry and needed a snack I could have gotten her one to eat and then we could have gone to AWANAS. I told her we'd try again next week but I can't take a crying girl to do fun things.

Today we're driving up to Portland to meet my Dad and go to the zoo with him to celebrate his birthday. Grace has only been to the zoo one time last summer and is very excited about going again. She's been telling me about the animals she's going to see there and is most excited about seeing a hippopotamus. She's also very excited to see Grandpa since he's one of her favorite people!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Catch Up

We've had a busy two weeks since the laptop broke and I have to say I really missed this blog. It's one of the highlights of my day and I'm glad to be back! In some ways it was a good thing that the laptop broke because I think I spend too much time on the laptop in general and it was good to pursue other hobbies and get some other things done that really needed to be done. You know, things like making 64 name tags and 8 centerpieces for MOPS and reading 6 books. It's amazing how productive I can be when I'm not seduced into spending time online!

Here's a quick run down of what you all missed.

We drove out to Lincoln City on August 30th for David's Aunt Diane and Uncle Ed's 40th Wedding Anniversary party and it was a TON of fun! We really had a blast and I'm so glad we were able to go. We got there early so we could spend some time on the beach before the party and I'm so glad I pushed David into doing that because it was a beautiful day at the beach and we had a fantastic time.

The weather was perfect, warm enough to not need a coat and not too windy which is a rarity. I was absolutely shocked Ethan didn't try to eat the sand since he puts everything else in his mouth, but I certainly won't complain! He was fascinated by the sand and loved to run it through his fingers and move it into the bucket and out again.

Grace was happy to use her shovel and running to and from the waves. I was happy just to sit on the blanket and soak in the beach! I love the sound of the waves and the warm sun and happy sounds of children playing. It's just so peaceful.

We didn't do much else during Labor Day weekend but did go to the park on both Sunday and Monday as a family which was a lot of fun. David doesn't get as many chances as I do to spend quality time chasing Grace through the park with Ethan in tow so I'm glad he got that opportunity.

Grace showed him the swings, the teeter totter, merry go round, slides, monkey bars, and her favorite tree that has a "drive through window" where she likes to take our order. Ethan had a good time walking through the park with Daddy and watching Grace play.

Indoor Park started up again a week ago and I've volunteered to be the park opener on Wednesday mornings. I figure it's my turn to take on that job since I haven't opened or closed in the two years I've been a member and I'm there most of the time anyways. Indoor Park is on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings and we'll try to make it there on most days since it's a great social outlet for all of us. Grace loves to dress up in the dress up clothes and climb to the top of the fort which she calls her "castle tower" where she waits to be rescued. Yes she's definitely a girly girl. Ethan loves the balls and chasing after Grace when she drives the cars around. He also loves the slides and would happily go down the slides over and over and over again...

Ethan turned 11 months old on Sunday (which was also my Dad's birthday. Happy Birthday Dad!) and is a super busy little boy. He is 100% walking now and doesn't crawl at all anymore. He loves to haul heavy things with him when he walks which must be a boy thing. He picks up his Tap a Tune piano and walks with it for heavens sakes! He wants to be a part of whatever everyone else is doing and hates to be left out of anything. He wants to eat what we're eating too and is self feeding for the most part now. He'll let me feed him a little bit but I haven't been brave enough to turn the spoon over to him quite yet. Maybe next month. He smells like a boy now which is hard to describe. It's not a bad smell, just a boyish smell. Like fresh cut grass. I kind of like it.

He's really interested in toilets which I think is a byproduct from having a recently toilet trained big sister. When Grace was a baby she never bothered toilets but Ethan is forever trying to get his hand in them, drop toys in them, or play with them. It's really pretty gross and I'm starting a new policy of leaving the toilet seat down. If he was a little bit older I'd let him attempt toilet training since he's clearly interested in the whole process and even lifts up the lid on the toddler potty we have and checks it all out. Can we all pray he toilet trains faster and easier then his big sister?!? He's an expert sippy cup user and has stolen sips from Grace's milk cups several times so hopefully when we transition him to cow's milk next month that will go well. Grace didn't take that transition very well and it took her until she was around 15 months to drink it. I think Ethan just wants to be like Grace so maybe if he sees her drinking milk he'll want to drink it too.

I've been busy preparing for MOPS since the first meeting was yesterday and I was in charge of the table centerpieces and name tags that needed to be created. I spent a lot of time in the garage sanding and painting. The name tags turned out really cute (I really should take a picture of them!) and the centerpieces turned out ok. I painted them fairly messily but made it look on purpose and spatter painted them a bit. Much easier then going for perfection which I just don't have the time or patience for! I set up for the first meeting on Monday with help from Grace and Ethan. I found all the tablecloths I needed, put out the above mentioned centerpieces, and got all the cups/silverware/plates/napkins ready. Yesterday I did my best to get there as early as I could (7:50am which has to be a record for arriving somewhere with all three of us clean/dressed/fed) so I could figure out all the kitchen stuff. I recruited a Mentor Mom to help me figure out the complicated church coffee maker and I'm glad I did because the instructions I had were not quite complete. I filled 11 pitchers with ice water, 3 carafes with hot water, and 3 carafes with coffee. Next time I think I won't need to be there quite as early now that I know where all the crafes/water pitchers/serving spoons are located! The MOPS meeting went very well and it was fun to meet some new moms and got to chat with the moms at my table. I'm excited for the rest of the MOPS meetings! Grace had a good time at her MOPPETS classroom. She brought home a coloring sheet that said she learned that God made the world and had some questions we could ask her and talk about. One suggestion was to ask her what her favorite thing is that God made and Grace's response was bananas. Of course.

Yesterday was also Grace's first ballet class which was absolutely adorable! If you've never had the chance to watch 3-5 year old girls do ballet you're really missing out. There's about 14 girls in the class and Grace is definitely one of the youngest but she did a pretty good job listening.

At the beginning the teacher said she'd definitely know Grace's name by the end of the class but by the end she was doing better. They did roll call at the beginning and then got in a big circle. They held hands and walked around in a circle on their tip toes before they got to stand on big blue dots spaced out strategically on the floor.

They danced on their dots to familiar tunes like "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" before they got to dance with ribbon sticks. They galloped, skipped, jumped, and did a few other dance moves with their ribbon sticks. Afterwards they stretched like rainbows and got a sticker. When I asked Grace what her favorite part about dance class was she said it was "dancing" which I suppose was a no brainer. She fell asleep on the way home and can't wait to go back next week.

Tonight is the first night of AWANAS and I'm excited to see how that goes for Grace. I think she'll like it and she'll know a few kids from MOPS most likely. I'm trying to find a good mixture of activities for her to do since we've not doing preschool and I think this will work out pretty well. It involves a uniform, learning bible verses, singing songs, and playing games. I don't see any reason why Grace won't think it's a ton of fun!

Sorry for the long update but it could have been longer!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The laptop is fixed...and yet not really.

I was thrilled to hear Zoe bark up a storm when the DHL guy rang the doorbell this afternoon because it meant that our laptop was finally here! Of course once we got it up and running we discovered that the display was all wrong and we couldn't seem to fix it. So I called Dell and sat on the phone for an HOUR with a very nice Indian guy while he took control of the computer and discovered I was not a crazy woman. He did some research and discovered that the LCD screen was not replaced with the same kind of screen and so the awful resolution we currently have is the best we can get. At first he said we'd need to mail the laptop in to be fixed again and I confess I did not have very happy thoughts at that point. No not happy at all. When he came back from hold again he said he could send an on site technition to replace the LCD screen with the True to Life (aka much better resolution) LCD screen in 48 hours. I don't know why it's ok for them to do so now after being repeatedly told they could NOT send someone the first time but I am in no way arguing or bringing up that point.

I'm hoping to catch up on blogging here soon. Lots to talk about! Ethan turned 11 months old, Indoor Park has started, MOPS has started, and Grace had her first ballet class today. I even have video of precious 3-5 year olds doing ballet for you all to enjoy. So check back soon!