Monday, October 26, 2009

Pumpkin Hunt

Yesterday after church we ran out to Perrydale real quick to pick up two more big pumpkins for carving and also wound up with a bunch of itty bitty pumpkins that look very nice on my mantle. We went with some friends from church and the kids had a great time piling pumpkins into the wheelbarrow (especially the little ones!) and taking turns riding in the wheelbarrow on top of the pumpkin pile. I'm definitely excited about the pumpkin I picked to carve, it's got a great flat wide spot which I think is going to be easy to work with.

The two gourds in the middle of my pumpkin row are actually from Freddies and not from our generous church friends who own the pumpkin patch. I just thought they were neat looking and it will all get incorporated into my Thanksgiving decor next month as well.

Kids Room Remodel Progress

We started to redo the kids' room this past spring and we're almost finished. The new wall decor is a huge help. Now all that's left is replacing the crib! That's definitely on the Need To Do list.

Last week I finally got the wooden frames of the two cork boards I bought for the kids' room painted. I took down the quilt we've had hanging in that room for over three years and patched up the wall. And then my most fantastic husband put the two cork boards up for me and I love them! It's soooo nice to have somewhere to display the bazillion crafts, colorings, and schoolwork that we have laying around here. Ethan's board is a little bare, but I'm sure it won't take too long before his is covered in stuff too. In fact he's got a black bean cat craft to hang up that he made at Indoor Park this morning (it's drying...lots of glue!).

I think I'm still going to put their names in wooden letters by their boards, but I need to buy the letters for Grace's name and paint them. Perhaps that will be a project for another time. Another time when I have the energy to drive out to Michael's with a coupon. Could be awhile. Ethan's name is currently sitting on the built in shelves.

Here's what the wall looked like before. The bunny quilt is really pretty but doesn't match the rainbow room we have now. I'm trying to make the room less girly and more unisex, plus we really did need somewhere to display the kids' artwork so the cork boards are a practical solution.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Photography

Yesterday afternoon I spent 30 minutes with my camera in the yard enjoying some fall foliage and the pumpkins on our front steps. I sat down to edit some of them tonight and couldn't decide what look I liked best. My brother and my husband had no opinion either (other then David liked the color versions better since he likes the color orange). So I thought I'd ask for some opinions from the general public. Which do you like? Voice your opinion in the poll on the sidebar and/or leave a comment.

Option #1 Soft and Bright

Option #2 Barely Touched

Option #3 Moody Sepia

Option #4 Color Burst

And just for fun, some more fun fall bokeh courtesy of our side yard bushes:

Swine Flu Vaccine

Yesterday Polk County hosted a free Swine Flu Vaccine Clinic at the fairgrounds from 2-6pm. We were there by 2:45 after picking Grace up from preschool. We stood in line for 1 hour and 45 minutes before we even got inside the building. Once we got inside the building we were given a form to fill out for each person receiving the vax and then we got into another line. We were in that line for about 20 minutes before we were given the vax info and sent to the Nasal Spray vax line. We were in that line for 20 minutes before we finally had our turn.

All along I told Grace that she wouldn't get a shot but instead they would spray medicine in her nose. She is super scared of shots after getting her 4 year shots in August and the flu shot 2 weeks ago. I knew she'd be a challenge and she was. As soon as she saw the syringe looking thing she freaked out so I had to hold her in a headlock so the guy could administer the vaccine. Ethan watched this whole thing without pause. He sat on my lap and let the guy do his nose with a bit of a fuss but I didn't even have to hold him still. So much easier. The guy gave me the regular shot in the arm which I prefer (although my children definitely wouldn't!) and we were on our way home.

We got there at 2:45 and left at 5:20pm. As a treat I got a DQ Blizzard for the kids and I to share (Cherry Cheesequake was what Grace really wanted...probably because it's pink) and then we rushed dinner to get Grace to AWANAS by 6:30.

I'm glad we got the vax yesterday even though it was a long wait. I have to take the kids back for a second dose in a month and I'm hoping that the line for that won't be as bad. Apparently kids under 10 have to have two doses. I'll have to start thinking of a bribe for Grace since I know she's not going to be a fan!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Grace's Pumpkin Patch Field Trip

Last Wednesday was Grace's very first field trip with her preschool class and it happened to be to the Pumpkin Patch. All the kids were supposed to bring at least one adult with them (can you imagine taking 16 preschoolers to the pumpkin patch with only 2 adults? Yikes!) and siblings were welcome so Ethan and I came along as well. The weather forecast called for rain so we dressed in rain coats and boots and I decided to brave bringing my camera along. The rain didn't happen until the last five minutes we were there. Instead we were nearly blown away by some seriously strong wind! At least I didn't have to figure out how to keep my camera dry.

Once everybody was more or less assembled we got to take a hay ride to the pumpkin patch. Ethan wasn't too sure about the hay ride, but once we went by some cows both kids got pretty excited. They didn't even notice the huge field of pumpkins until after they couldn't see the cows anymore!

Grace excited on the hay ride!

Once we got to the pumpkin patch each child was given a plastic bag to put their pumpkin in and we were set loose. Grace wanted a small pumpkin and found hers really fast. Ethan spent more time watching everybody else and couldn't figure out what we were all doing with pumpkins. Grace showed him how to hold them and he looked so confused. I don't think he liked all the dirt!

Grace holding her prized pumpkin

Ethan wondering why on earth I wanted him to hold a dirty "ball" with a stem

After the kids had all chosen a pumpkin we piled the pumpkins back on the truck and then walked over to the apple orchard nearby. The farmer gathered the kids around him and talked about apples and how to grow them. At the end of his speech he said that everybody could pick one apple each. The kids thought that was super fun and immediately tried to bite their apples. I managed to get them back fairly quick so we could enjoy them (washed!) later.

Grace listening to the farmer with the rest of her class. She was very interested in how the trees got a "haircut" and kept trying to tell the farmer about how her Mommy takes her to get her haircut too!

Ethan found his apple first

Grace showing me her apple

Next we got to go through the corn maze. The corn maze was in the shape of a covered wagon and was a lot easier to navigate then I anticipated. Of course I let Grace decide our course and maybe she just has a better sense of direction then I do! In the middle of the corn maze there was a tall pipe slide and stack of hay bales. Grace went down the slide a few times and I attempted very unsuccessfully to take a photo of both kids together. I couldn't get them looking at me at the same time, and if they did they were sitting two feet apart. After a zillion tries I got one where at least they're both looking the same direction. Maybe I'll try again sometime.

Trying to keep up with the kids through the corn maze

Grace loved the pipe slide!

As pathetic as this picture is, it's actually the best one I have of the two of them together.

After we found the exit from the corn maze we went by the petting zoo area. Grace didn't want to touch the animals but liked to look at them. I didn't get any pictures of Ethan with the animals because I couldn't peel him off of my legs. Apparently farm animals are scary in real life. They're fine in books, but the real noises they make are not for him!

Hello Sheep!

Our last stop was at the donut and cider tent. We got in line for a dixie cup of really tasty apple cider and an apple cider donut. The kids slurped the cider down pretty quick before they attacked their donuts. As we were finishing up the rain started so I hurried them along and we jumped in the car. The whole trip lasted about two hours, and all during Ethan's usual nap time. He fell asleep before we even left the parking lot and Grace fell asleep somewhere between Salem and Dallas. It was a fun trip.

Grace enjoying her donut. I noticed that Grace had outgrown her pink rain coat only after I put it on her when we arrived. Ethan's still fits from last spring though!

Poor Ethan getting blasted by the wind...look at his hair!

What we all looked like by the end of two hours of heavy winds and the start of a downpour. Notice there are no pictures of me!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ladybug in the Lillies

We were playing outside a week or two ago (or more accurately, I was trying to pull weeds/clean up the lillies while the kids played in the gravel) when I found a ladybug resting on a leaf. I called the kids over and helped Grace hold the ladybug on her hand. She loves ladybugs and was in seventh heaven as the ladybug climbed all over her hand and arm. Ethan wanted nothing to do with touching the ladybug but was very interested in watching the ladybug crawl all over his sister. Eventually the ladybug had enough of us and flew off, a far happier outcome then the last time we found a ladybug while playing in the gravel. That poor ladybug got tired and needed to "sleep".

As a side note, I really like the new Halloween theme I put up on the blog this afternoon. What do you guys think?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Freezer Apple Pie Filling

I've almost used up my abundance of apples this year and for the first year in a quite awhile I didn't make applesauce. Mostly because it is a lot of work to make applesauce and since my Mom is busy with moving this month it just wasn't in the cards. So instead I borrowed my Mom's old dehydrator and I've been busy making apple chips. That process takes forever with my old dehydrator and uneven apple slices (oops) so I searched online for more ideas on what to do with apples that didn't involve canning applesauce.

First I had to clean up my home grown apples by washing them in the sink.

I found a recipe for Apple Pie Filling which can be froze in gallon sized freezer bags and I thought I'd give it a try. The first batch I made I forgot to peel the apples which kind of didn't work out so well. It tasted yummy, but the peels just made the texture all wrong. We ate it anyway and I didn't hear a single complaint from anyone so apparently the peels weren't so awful. The second batch I made I was sure to peel though!

Here's the recipe straight from

18 cups thinly sliced PEELED apples
3 Tbsp lemon juice
4 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cornstarch
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
10 cups of water

I cut the water to about 5-6 cups and used slightly less sugar since the apples I was working with weren't very tart. I also didn't measure out my apples exactly and had about two mixing bowls worth of sliced apples. Of course I don't measure things out exactly a lot of times when I'm cooking, especially for recipes like this one that don't require exact amounts.

Onto the directions...

In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and set aside. Pour water in large stock pot over medium heat. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add to water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add apples and return to a boil. Cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes until apples are tender. Cool for 30 minutes. Ladle into freezer containers leaving 1/2" head space (I used freezer Ziplocks and got enough for 2 large pies or 3 smaller ones). Cool at room temperature no more then 1 1/2 hours before putting in the freezer.

The original recipe states that it makes enough for 5 pies but I assume they mean 5 dinky pies. I do not make dinky pies so I'd say it makes more like 3, but I still have no idea if I was using 18 cups of apples so who knows. The first time I made it I ladled part of the filling into a 9x13 pan and mixed up a cobbler topping for it and baked it for 45 minutes at 375 and it turned out fantastic. The topping was just some butter, flour, sugar, small amount of oats, and cinnamon that I mixed together and spread on top. I would have taken a picture of the final product but my camera battery died right after I took the picture of the cooking apples. It looked good but the SMELL was to die for!

Ethan's Birthday Dinner

I know I'm over a week late in blogging about this but I just haven't had the chance to get the photos off the camera until today. You'll probably get like 8 blog posts in a row now that I have the photos on the laptop! Anyways, these were too cute not to share. Since Ethan's birthday fell on a Wednesday we didn't have a lot of opportunity to do anything special. That's our busiest day of the week. We open Indoor Park at 9:30, send Grace to preschool from 12-2:30, and send Grace to AWANAS from 6:30-8pm. Plus David has jui jitsu that night and doesn't get home until after 8pm. Doesn't leave a lot of time for unscheduled activities, so I decided to take the kids to McDonalds for dinner as a special treat.

Ethan loves McDonalds. In fact, he can't pronounce Grace's name but you can hear him say McDonalds pretty clearly. And when he sees the golden arches he shouts it out on repeat. What can I say, the boy likes his fast food salty.

I got a chicken nugget happy meal with an extra cheeseburger for the kids to split and let them eat and play for an hour. They were in heaven. Ethan ate about half of his hamburger and mostly spent the hour running from the entrance of the play structure back to the table to slurp some chocolate milk and then repeating the process. Grace mainlined her chicken nuggets and then spent 50 minutes playing in the play structure with a few chocolate milk breaks.

For dessert I took the kids to Dairy Queen for a cherry dip. Ethan wasn't as interested in the ice cream which was a disappointment. Grace ate hers without too much mess though. Ethan liked the cone better then the ice cream and finished his off in the car on the way to AWANAS.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ethan Grew!

Yesterday was Ethan's two year well child appointment which went really well. Our appointment was in the morning and we were in and out within 45 minutes. I love it when doctor's appointments don't involve a ton of waiting! Ethan stood on the scale to check his weight just fine but wanted nothing to do with standing next to the wall to check his height so he had to lay down in the room. He weighed 24.4 lbs and is 34" tall. That puts him in thte 10th percentile for weight and 45th for height. Most importantly his weight for height measurement doesn't put him in the malnourished category! Yay Ethan! If you remember back to last year his weight wasn't even on the chart and we had to come back for a weigh in a month later. The pediatrician asked what we were doing differently and I had to answer honestly that we're doing nothing differently. He's just a hungry boy! He quite often eats his food and half of his sister's. He's really a pretty good eater and must have gotten used to all the protein I've forced on him in the last year. We're keeping both kids on whole milk for the time being. Dr. Farah said to stick with the whole unless it looks like either one of them gains a lot of weight all of a sudden. Ha! I don't see that happening anytime soon!

We also talked about Ethan's slow verbal development. I told her that I've noticed his talking has really improved in the last two weeks. I've even heard him try to say Grace's name which is a first. He isn't putting two words together yet and if he goes another couple months without doing so I'll give Dr. Farah a call to have him checked out. Grace was also a late talker and didn't put two words together at her 2 year appointment either. She made up for it with a vengeance once she did start talking and she hasn't been silent since. I'm not that worried.

Both kids got a flu shot at the end of our visit. I was glad they did it for us so I don't have to bring them in to Salem on a Saturday morning for the walk-in flu shot clinic. We did Ethan first since I knew Grace was going to be difficult and I didn't want her reaction to scare Ethan. Ethan did fine, crying for about 20 seconds and that was it. Grace on the other handld threw a huge fit when it was her turn and it took both me and the nurse to restrain her to get her shot. I got her to calm down by telling her she could tell her preschool teacher and friends all about the shot she got. Grace *loves* to tell stories so once I told her that she stopped crying and started listing off all the people she could tell. At least she stopped crying!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Exhausted and Feeling Icky

This weekend we helped Mom get moved into her new place which was a lot of work but felt good. I know she's still got a ton left to unpack but we got her to almost functional. Her new place has a great feel to it and I know she's going to love it once she gets settled.

We drove around her neighborhood yesterday and when David spotted the movie theater he got pretty excited. We wound up going to see Couples Retreat last night while Mom played with the kids which was fun. I can see that pattern repeating.

I could feel a cold coming on yesterday but the free medicine I picked up at Rite Aid earlier in the morning did a really good job and kept me going all day. This morning when I woke up was a different story. I took some off brand Nyquil last night before bed and this morning I woke up feeling exhausted and very fuzzy. My brain just isn't working and I feel like I'm moving in slow motion. This is definitely my first icky cold of the fall. My throat really hurts but at least I can breathe so I'll be thankful for that. Hopefully I'm feeling better by tomorrow so I can get to MOPS. I really don't want to miss it!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ethan is Two Today!

I can hardly believe my baby boy turned two today. It really doesn't seem like enough time has passed from that exhausting night of labor with him until now. Has it really been two years? Really?

Ethan is an absolute delight and I love him to pieces. He has the most infectious smile with matching expressive eyes. He is easily entertained and even now during this "No" phase his default demeanor is Happy. It's really hard to take his constant "No's" seriously when he's so gosh darn happy and does what I ask him to.

Ethan's favorite thing in the world is balls. Particularly basketballs, and yes he does know the difference. His short attention span does not apply to playing or watching basketball. The two hours he spent quietly watching basketball last Sunday attest to that! I knew he'd enjoy seeing the big boys play basketball but I never thought he'd actually sit still through it all.

Ethan watches all of us very carefully and copies what we do in an effort to be Big like us. He mostly copies Grace, but I find him copying Mommy and Daddy as well. Since he mostly copies his sister he often carries a purse to the car like she does. There is nothing cuter then a little boy with a pink purse slung over his shoulder and dragging along the ground as he toddles after his big sister!

I'm not sure how many little boys care what they wear but Ethan has already started voicing his opinion on the matter. He most definitely prefers shirts with balls on them and of those shirts he most likes his basketball shirts. He has two right now, though the short sleeve one is almost too small. He stands in front of his side of the closet and points up yelling "ball!" to tell me what he wants to wear. He also insists on choosing his own socks. I usually find 3 or 4 pairs that will match his shirt and let him pick from that. He is very deliberate in choosing his socks. It's really pretty funny.

His pediatrician's appointment is next Monday so I'll have all his stats then. I'm pretty sure he's grown and I'm guessing he's around 24-25lbs. He wears 18-24 tops to get the arms long enough (it's time for long sleeves!) and a mix of 12-18 and 18-24 bottoms depending on how long they are and how adjustable the waist is. We love adjustable waists. He's wearing a size 5/6ish shoe. I think most of his shoes are 6's right now with room to grow. He's also in a size 4 diaper and probably won't move on to the size 5's before he potty trains. Grace didn't either.

Happy Birthday to my little guy! I love you!

A few (ha!) favorite photos of Ethan this past year:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I started a new blog

I decided to start a new blog focusing on couponing/shopping so that this one doesn't get so cluttered. I'd prefer to keep this one about our family and the stuff we're up to. I have a lot of people ask me about how I shop so I hope this new blog helps!

You can find the new blog HERE

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ethan's Basketball Party!

I'm in denial that my baby is turning two and so I put off planning a party for him. That and I got busy. And I'm not ready for my baby to be two this week. Regardless of the reason, we planned a last minute basketball party for our basketball loving son. My brother scored some free tickets to the Blazer Fan Fest and wasn't able to go, but we thought it would make a great birthday celebration for Ethan. So we invited our friends Pat & Katie to come up to my Mom's house for a birthday party and Blazer game.

We spent a few hours at my Mom's house where we had yummy soup and corn bread and let Ethan open his presents and we did cake. His big present from us was a big boy basketball hoop that adjusts to 6 different heights. We're hoping it will last a few years! No surprise that he absolutely LOVED it and we could barely get him to sit at the table long enough to eat a few bites. He prefers the hoop at the lowest setting so he can dunk it, though he's started throwing it in as well. He barely looked at his other gifts, though I'm sure he'll play with them when the novelty of his new hoop wears off (if that ever happens!). He got a cool car play mat and a new blue water bottle from Grandma, and we also got him a bike helmet so he'll be ready to ride in the bike trailer. Grace picked him out a ball (she knows what he likes!) and a Toy Story book.

We did cake and sang Happy Birthday and then he tried to blow the candles out and eventually succeeded with some help from his sister. It was so cute watching him try to blow them out! After cake and ice cream we piled into the van and drove to the Lloyd Center to catch the Max train to the Rose Garden. We got to the Rose Garden right at 5pm when the doors opened and it was crowded. We noticed that the doors to the far left were moving a lot faster and we got in and found seats by 5:15. The place filled up fast and was almost completely full, even in the nose bleed sections! There were a lot of kids there, probably because everyone else is like us and are willing to bring their 2 year olds to a free event but not a paid one.

We weren't sure how well the kids would do, but we figured that since it was a free event that if we had to leave 30 minutes into the game we wouldn't feel too bad. None of us thought that the kids would last through the entire game. The guys did their shopping (15% off everything!) before the game in case we had to leave early. David and Pat both scored Rip City shirts for cheap and got Ethan a Blazer jersey for his birthday. Pat & Katie got him a mini Blazer basketball which he is super attached to. He hasn't let go of it since they gave it to him last night! Seriously. He's holding it right now listening to Grace read books to him.

As soon as the players came out and started warming up for the scrimmage game Ethan was hooked. I mean his eyes were glued to the basketball court and he watched everything with huge unblinking eyes. For those people reading this blog that aren't familiar with two year old boys you probably won't fully appreciate what I'm going to say next. Ethan sat completely still and paid complete attention to the entire two hour event. That's right. He LOVED it!

I'm still amazed at how much Ethan likes basketball and still have no idea where this love for the game came from. Neither David or I are particularly into basketball, though I'm sure we'll be watching a lot more Blazers games this year! Perhaps my brother has something to do with it. I don't know. It's definitely been fun watching his obvious delight in basketball grow and I already foresee a lot of ball games in our future. Guess I better learn about basketball!