Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Balloon Animals

A few weeks ago we were planning our summer birthday party at the homeless shelter and I was thinking about fun things to do at the party.  Balloon Animals strike me as something fun for kids but I don't know anyone who does them.  So, I decided that I would attempt to learn the skill. :)

I set up a Friday night date with you-t*be and a random bag of balloon-animal balloons from the grocery store.  I am now a "master" of the balloon dog, which if you use your imagination can also be, say, a spotted cow, a kangaroo, or a skunk--it's all in the marker. ;)

Here are some of my first attempts at a few other animals--the lion and teddy bear (there is a slightly undone purple kangaroo behind them.).

I'm still on the fence about whether they would be fun for the parties or not.  While they are definitely fun, they also pop quite easily, and popped balloons, I'm afraid, don't tend to bring good cheer. :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Future Aspirations and Holy Moly

T has an interesting view of what "growing up" will look like.  Here are just a few of the things he would like to be.

"When me Daddy, can me drive the van?"
(Okay, jiving with him here.)

"When me Mommy, can me cook at the stove?"
(Explain that most definitely when he is a Daddy he can cook at the stove.)

"When me M, can me wear a barrette; paint my nails; have an umbrella?"
(Hmmm...well, when you're 4 you can do bigger boy things, and, yes, you can have an umbrella.)

And my latest personal favorite...
"When me a fish, can me live in there?"

Said last week at the Norwalk Aquarium in Connecticut while pointing into a dark and murky tank with some no-nonense fish.  Hmmm...T, you can be many things, but I can confidently say that you will not be a fish.

And finally, at night when we pray I usually end by saying, "You are a holy and awesome God."  Sometimes I pause to let T fill in the words.  It goes something like this, "You are a holy--moly." :)

(Just a few more pictures from the aquarium:)
M's big catch.

Touching a sting ray.  Ever since reading the library book, Never Smile at a Monkey, a book about poisonous/dangerous animals all over the world, my kids have been a bit obsessed with sting rays.  When we first went to the lake they wanted to make sure that there were no sting rays in the water.  And when T is chasing the girls at the lake he pretends to be either a shark, octopus or, you guessed it, a sting ray.  It was really fun for M to be able to see and touch one.  T was too afraid. :)

They got to touch a crab, too.  A very fun trip with Aunt MB and Uncle Carl--thanks for coming guys or kids as T calls anyone without children of their own. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

What We've Been Up To Lately :)

Seriously behind on blogging! :)  But want to write this stuff down so that we don't forget it.

Hmmm...okay, first I don't want to forget our Theme Weeks (having a remarkably poor memory lately--couldn't even remember how old I was--I needed help to get it right--sad, I know...). 

August 1-7: Five Senses Week
--Talked about a different sense each day
--Played the fun "Guess that Smell" and "Guess the Object" games

August 8-14: Cabin Week
--We went to PA for the week to hang out with our families
My dad's "Dinner Plate Dahlias"

Driving the tractor at the farm with Grandpa.  Umm, do they look A LOT like twins?

M became a lover of kittens at Grandpa and GrammyKathy's (No more cats for us, though.  We already have two.). :)

We had a fun day at Knoebels Amusement Park. 
T is cruising in a jeep while M is perched on the highest seat in an ostrich.

T-head got a great view from Pop's shoulders. 
I think he's checking us out on the Ferris wheel. 
I forget how little he really is--he just turned 2.5. 
He was definitely quite unsure about most of the rides.

On the Ferris wheel with Nana.  M, on the other hand, loves heights and speed. :)

After riding a lot of the the little kid rides we noticed that M really wasn't smiling on any of them.  So we thought that the roller coaster might be more her style.  That's us in the last seat.  She was scared but loved it.  She said, "I didn't want to scream, but it just made it come out of me!"  (Might have made the scream just come out of me, too.)

It was a beautiful week at the cabin, but the last few days were a little rainy.  One afternoon we headed out into a torrential downpour to play in the puddles.  This is a before shot. :)

August 15-21: Potty Prep Week
--Bought a new potty seat as per T's request.  At the cabin he was very impressed with the handled seats and I heard him whispering to himself that he wouldn't fall off because there were handles.  ;)
--Cut out pictures of potties from around the world from the book, Material World: A Global Family Portrait, and taped them on our world map. (Yep, really makes me appreciate our facilities.)
--Made very little progress on actual potty training--we take it very slowly (diapers are awfully convenient).
--We also made our own crayons by melting old ones in muffin cups. (This has nothing to do with potties--it was just a cool new project.) 

Drawing with the "new" crayons.  Which, btw, really give you the urge to want a peanut butter cup. ;)

Adoption Front:
We are unofficially in the #17-18 range.  Yay!

Travel Vaccines are scheduled for early October.  Yay, again! :)
Ugh, and I've been trying to track down our FDL.  It has almost been 6 months since our fingerprinting appointment.  And our paperwork is still not in process and is in a box somewhere.  Starting to call them weekly now to try to get more information.  Apparently they have 18,000 files and ours is there somewhere...

And in Family news:
We had a week of no TV and have started to listen to a lot of audiotapes.  Loving the Magic Tree House series and M just started Little House on the Prairie today.

Listening intently to a story.  T brought the green chair into the room all by himself.

M starts preschool in 2 weeks--so we're in the school prep phase--love the beginning of a new school year--fun time to reorganize and re-evaluate goals/priorities. 

Ahhh...think I'm all caught up for now!  Have a great weekend! :)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Making a Fishing Pole

I'm just learning how to knit.   This morning I was starting a project and our 2.5-year-old little guy was a bit intrigued.
T: "What are you doing, Mommy?"
Me: "I'm knitting."
T: Confused by the unfamiliar word, "What?"
Me: "I'm knitting."
T: Still trying to figure it all out and looking at the long needles and yarn, "You're making a fishing pole!" :)

A conversation earlier this week:
Me: "Yay!  We're going to start potty training!"
T: Smiling and excited, "We're going to ride a REAL train!"
Me: Momentary mental blip as I try to process why he is so excited about a train when I'm talking about ditching the diapers.  After replaying the conversation in my mind I realize that his idea of potty training and my idea are COMPLETELY different.  Apparently he thinks that "potty TRAIN-ing" involves riding on a train (presumably one with potties.) ;) 

As a fun twist on the concept we promised that once he is all done with diapers we will, in fact, all go on a train ride (which I'm sure will indeed involve checking out the facilities).  He thinks it is "very excited!"

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Inertia

There is just something about a good fall (when no one gets hurt) that makes me laugh...

(From the first day of summer.)

Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday Made-It: Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies (well, mostly healthy) :)

CHOCOLATE!  I crave cake, not cookies.  But when chocolate is involved I'm always game.  I indulge in the sweet treat every now and then (on a daily basis ;) ).  As a matter of fact, I like chocolate so much that I try not to "have" it in our house.  The funny thing is that I still manage to find some somewhere--J's secret stash of oreo cookies works in a pinch, those M&M's we use as rewards for potty feats quickly disappear (and not from epically amazing bathroom action), and chocolate sauce mixed with peanut butter will definitely do the trick.

But here's a very favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe that I don't feel too guilty about eating. :)  Taken from Health Magazine's "America's Healthiest Superfood Combos" article.


6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, and add brown sugar; stir until smooth. Combine all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, oats, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine butter mixture with the dry ingredients, and add egg and vanilla extract. Fold in walnuts and bittersweet chocolate. Mix well, and spoon by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes or until tops are dry to the touch.

Dark chocolate, walnuts, whole wheat flour, and oats--superfood magic!  Add some milk and this could be an amazing breakfast!  Yum! :)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Favorites: My Fleet & NEW NUMBER

Okay, I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my floor-care essentials are really quite meaningless.  But, as a person who may be known to like things a little on the clean and organized side, they do make everyday-life much easier.  And, so this is a not-so-serious little commentary about the three tools that keep my floors spotless with the least amount of time and home-making troubles.

Without further ado, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the key players in my floor care regimen:
1. Dys*n Slim
2. Biss*l Steam Mop
3. Sw*vel Swe*per (yes, as seen on TV)

Glam shot.

Oh, I have had many vacuums in my lifetime.  I have had good ones with short lifetimes and horrible ones that wouldn't die.  I have cried in frustration as I realized that it would be easier for me to pick up the fuzzy stuck in the carpeting than to keep going back and forth, back and forth over it 20 times.  I have kerplunked heavy vacuums up and down the stairs bruising my legs and marking the walls.  I have yelped in more frustration as cords got caught on corners and came unplugged.  I shared many tales of my woes with J (poor guy) who finally said that enough was enough and it was time to find a solution!

That is when the Dys*n Slim entered our lives.  It is undoubtedly the most expensive "tool" I have ever owned.  But I must tell you, it is simply fabulous.  I seriously think I have NEVER complained about it.  It is everything you could ask for in a vacuum--lightweight, not too loud, easy to empty, long cord (I can reach every room on each floor without unplugging), long hose, and, indeed, amazing suction. :)  Truly a joy to use.

On to mopping...  Again, have used the wet and dry floor mops with disposable cloths, sponge mops and even good-old-fashioned on-my-knees-with-a-sponge-and-bucket hard-floor cleaning.  All of them either left my floor really streaky and still dirty or took a LONG time.  My steam mop is so quick and is always ready to go (I'm never out of any product because it only uses water!) and the floors are white-glove clean.   Mopping has never been more enjoyable. :)

The sw*vel swe*per.  Well, this little gem is just amazing in a house full of children.  It runs on a battery pack that rarely needs to be recharged, tucks away easily, and picks up every kind of crumb you can imagine.  Perfect for spilled cheerios, cake crumbs, cat food mishaps and tiny bits of paper from little people just learning how to use scissors.

And there you have it, my three best floor cleaning agents that hang out in the coat closet always ready to tackle the latest Miller mess in the least amount of time and effort. :)  In all honestly, really am VERY THANKFUL for them! :)

And, check it out!--For August our official and unofficial number is 20!  Almost in the teens! :)

Littles Week

We are at the point in the summer when boredom is starting to set in.  There is great temptation to want to buy more toys to have fun things to do.  But then when I look around I realize that more toys is the last thing we need. :) 

That's where last week's theme comes in.  Littles Week was designed to bring new life to old toys.  ;)

We broke out the dollhouses, the Fisher Price Little People and the GeoTrax.  I myself played a lovely dollhouse version of House Hunters.  My little doll took a very close look at 3 options for her family of 4 and opted for the 2-story traditional home (instead of the ice cream parlor or very large fixer-upper missing most of the doors and windows). 

Country Charmer, Move-in Ready.

We even had a day that we imagined that OUR house was a dollhouse.  Makes our house seem pretty snazzy.  I mean, have you ever seen a dollhouse with a working refrigerator, live cats, and running water?  Oh, and a stocked pantry full of real food, to boot? 

This whole week when we've driven into our neighborhood, T shouts, "Look at all the dollhouses!"  Oh, the stories they will tell someday. :)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wed. What's Up? Adoption Update and Room Sharing

What's up on the adoption front?  We're still sitting unofficially at number 20, waiting for our FDL and needing to schedule some travel vaccinations.

AND M and T are practicing sharing a room!  We still don't have the logistics worked out for when sister joins our family, but someone will be sharing a room. :)  This summer seems like the perfect time for a trial run. 

They have actually been doing really well.  Yes, there is a lot of mayhem for the first, oh, hour or so, but then they get down to the business of sleeping. :) 

I seem to remember my own hijinks when I shared a room with MB and Bubsy.  Hmm...some of them don't cast me in the best light.  As the resident top-bunker I seem to remember luring my bunk-mate over to the edge and pouring water on her face (ohh..may have even been some spitting involved--yes, pretty gross, indeed.  Promise I will never do that again.), ordering the sisters closer to the floor to get me things and to turn off the light, and doing a somersault that resulted in me falling down the ladder and fracturing my wrist in kindergarten (sorry, Mom and Dad).  But, I overwhelmingly remember it as a really fun time with my sisters--staying up late talking, playing games, telling stories and giggling.

I'm very glad that M and T seem to be having a good time together.  God willing, they will have each other longer than they have us and it's very cool to watch them become friends. :) 

Who knows, maybe all 3 of them will share a room. :) 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Talk About It: What would we do if 2,000 children were dying each day from a bug bite?

About a week ago, we got a letter in the mail from World Vision about Malaria.  I had tears as I read the stories to M and T and I was shocked when I took the time to really read about how bed nets work.  Malaria is a disease I have heard of many times, but I had never taken the time to understand the specifics. 

Did you know that the mosquitoes that carry the deadly malaria parasite only bite between 10pm and 4am?  That's why bed nets make the difference between life and death. Bed nets cost $6.00. $6.00 to literally save a life.

And did you know that these bed nets are treated with an insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact and that they work for 4 years?!  That both gets rid of the deadly mosquitoes and saves lives for pennies!  To break that down, "Every $6 you give will provide a long-lasting insecticide-treated bed net that will protect the life of two or more children from this deadly disease. Since these nets can be used for approximately four years, that means you will save the life of a child for only 6 cents a month."  (From World Vision's End Malaria Campaign.)

Malaria was eradicated in the United States in the early 1950's.  We have the knowledge and resources to end malaria in the world.  Check out this short clip from ONE to see what's happening in Congress now and to find out more ways to be involved.

This is the powerful LINK to the stories that I read in the World Vision letter.  It is not easy to watch--to see the real faces of people affected by malaria.  But from reading about it and from seeing it, malaria becomes real--it becomes something that can NOT be ignored.

Monday Made-It: "Gak"

We've been making some of the projects from last Monday's post about Kid Concoctions.

Latest and greatest?  "Gak."  Wild stuff.

Here's how it all goes down.

First make Solution A.
-Mix equal amounts of school glue and water.
-Add food coloring to achieve desired color.

Then, make Solution B.
-1 1/3 cups warm water
-4 tsp Borax (Laundry booster--found in the detergent aisle)

Now for the fun part. 
-Pour Solution A into Solution B.  Gently move it around--don't "mix" it.
-Pour off the excess water and you are now holding a crazy substance we call "gak."

Seriously, this is fun stuff.  I mean you are dumping a liquid into a liquid and coming out with this super fun, stretchy dough.  And it's SO INEXPENSIVE.  Glue is like $0.20 these days because of back-to-school shopping.  Fun, fun! :)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Summer Snippets

These are some funny things from the past few weeks that I want to remember...

T randomly slips the word "Go-gie" into all kinds of things.  "Is this a go-gie baby?"  "This is a go-gie train."  "I want a go-gie."  We always ask, "What's a go-gie."  He has no idea.  Just plain funny. :)

The other day T was watering some flowers and I told him that they were saying "thank you" because they had been very thirsty.  He paused and then said VERY clearly, "Actually, Mommy, flowers don't talk...  They grow." 

Today M asked if we will ever ride in a rocket ship?  J asked, "What do you mean, a rocket ship?"  She said, "There's only one kind of rocket ship and that's the kind I mean."  J told her that we couldn't do that, we're not astronauts.  M said that surely we could buy the things required to fly a rocket ship.  J told her that they were way too expensive.  So, M acquiesced and said that we will just have to take a plane the next time we go to Florida. :)

Slightly bittersweet, but for the longest time, M has talked about how one day she will marry Daddy.  She talks about where they will live and that if I want to I can come to visit them.  We've never gone into too much detail to burst her bubble because we knew it would be a very short phase.  And it was.  Just the other day she not so gently informed him that she didn't know who should would marry one day.  But that's it's her choice--it might be a friend or someone she doesn't even know yet.  Smart girl, sad Daddy.

And finally, a fun video of T "driving" the boat from the 4th of July.