Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick-or-treat...or not

This is our cute little pumpkin...

This is the cute homemade Lego costume we got from a friend...

This is the cute little girl who refused to wear the Lego costume...

Emily was all excited about the costume--especially the hat--when we picked it up a week ago. But when it came time to put it on, forget it. I'm not big into the whole trick-or-treating thing, but I thought it would be a great excuse to go introduce ourselves to our new neighbors since Austin & I have so far only met one each. (Have I mentioned how much I miss our old neighborhood?!?) Secretly, I was just fine with staying home. We had some trick-or-treaters, and Emily loved seeing them, but she still refused to put on a costume. Even when I told her she couldn't have any of the trick-or-treat candy unless she did. Still a no-go. Oh well. I'm just glad I didn't spend any money on her costume. At least Lincoln was cute. Maybe next year...

Hawkeye bandwagon

Friday, October 30, 2009

Birthday supper

Emily got to pick what we had for supper tonight, and she requested green eggs & ham and banana bread. Isn't it great to have a 3-year-old?!? :o) I added hashbrowns and fresh pineapple for a well-rounded breakfast meal. Emily was mostly just interested in the candles. It took awhile, but she did get them blown out herself. (The problem is she "blows" using an /f/ sound.) She wanted to do them again and again. It's a good thing she'll get another shot with her actual cake on Sunday!


I had been waiting all week to carve pumpkins. It's probably my favorite part about Halloween, and I thought it would be a great tradition to start doing it on Emily's birthday. So when Lincoln went down for his morning nap, I carefully spread out newspapers and got out the tools. Emily & I both donned our aprons. Emily sort of helped "wash" the pumpkin with a wet paper towel. And she did help decide what shapes to make the facial features. But other than that, she had no interest whatsoever. She actually left the kitchen and didn't come back until I was done. Oh well, at least I had fun! Maybe next year.

After a semi-disappointing morning carving session, I got out the Sharpie markers during Lincoln's afternoon nap. Under careful supervision, Emily participated in this activity using her mini pumpkin.

Here are the finished products...

3 years old!

Our big girl is 3 years old today! She has been SO excited for her birthday. She tells everyone she's going to be "free" with the correct number of fingers held up. We got some party/cake supplies at Wal-mart earlier this week and she carries them around the house all day talking about her birthday. She has been singing her version of "Happy Birthday" to herself and anyone else she can think of for the last week. She's especially excited for the grandparents to come visit!

Speaking of singing, Emily sings a lot lately. It is often entertaining just listening to her in the van. Most of her selections come from Wee Sing Silly Songs, her other children's sing-along CD's or Sunday school. If she doesn't know some of the words she just makes up something close or kind of mumbles through until she gets to a part she does know. So her songs are ever evolving.

Emily has come to enjoy Toddler Story Time at the library, and she loves Sunday school and Mom's Morning Out on Friday's at church. I bought a pump bottle of Germ-X and she calls it "Sunday school soap" or "magic soap". :o) She likes playing in the gym with balls and bikes during MMO.

I've read that 3-year-olds tend to be quite clutzy because they're going 100 mph and don't stop to think about safety and being careful. Boy, have I noticed that with Emily lately. I don't just think it's the fact that I'm trying to look out for Lincoln. Toys and other objects fly around with no concept of what might be whacked in the process. She has almost been completely banned from removing the broom, carpet sweeper, mop, etc. from the closet. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be saying, "Emily, be careful!" at least a million times in the next year! Whenever she does bump something or get the slightest bit hurt she immediately asks for ice. I give her a small ice pack that is flexible and warms up pretty quickly. Most of the time it never makes contact with the point of injury. She just likes the idea of it. ;o)

Emily especially has a hard time sitting relatively still or straight in her chair at the table. She just plain fell off twice in one week, but that hasn't really stopped her squirming. We've threatened to get out her booster chair again. That usually straightens her out for about 30 sec. Too bad Lincoln will be using it in the very near future and that eliminates that card. :o(

Emily is still doing relatively well with Lincoln. She likes "checking" on him when he wakes up and can often distract/entertain him for a few more minutes while I finish something up. She likes to make loud, raucous noises that make Lincoln laugh. She tries to "play" with Lincoln sometimes, but it usually ends in me saying, "Be careful, that's too rough," or something to that effect. I've already caught glimpses of the ugly green monster lurking inside of her, though. She sometimes takes toys away from Lincoln that she has no interest in playing with herself. It's not going to be pretty once he's truly mobile.

One quirky thing I've discovered with the much chillier weather is that Emily considers socks & shoes a packaged deal. If you ask her to take her shoes off the socks always come off, too. If you ask her to put her socks on then more than likely shoes will follow. My feet get cold just seeing her barefoot sometimes, but I guess it keeps her socks cleaner! (sad commentary on the condition of our floors sometimes)

Recent quotes from Emily:

"We can go to church to learn about God and eat snacks" --during a conversation about what she learned in Sunday School that day

"Goooooo-Timmmmberrrrrr! That's what trees say when Daddy cuts them down." --after a big day of tree trimming and hauling away branches

"Are you going to be difficult?" --seemingly posing the question to herself

"Emily has to hide, but where?!?" --sometimes after I've sternly scolded her about something (it's all in the pitiful tone she uses)

I'll have the October Winkflash pictures updated after Halloween. Below is the October video player. It will also have a few additions. I haven't decided to what age I'll continue kid-specific monthly updates/pictures. I might just do a generic monthly wrap-up after age 3. We'll see!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween cookies

Who doesn't love a good, frosted cut-out cookie?!? Especially one with a big ole pile of sprinkles?!? Emily had fun helping make and decorate these cookies, but they're about as fancy as we get these days.

Here are the cookies my sister made for her church's Harvest Auction... :op

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Faithful Companion

Today marked the end of another significant chapter in our lives. We made the heart-wrenching decision to put our 8 1/2 year old dog, Cheney, to sleep. Austin got him as a lab/German short-hair mix puppy when he was just a bachelor living alone after college. They walked many, many miles on the streets of Cedar Falls and later Denver. He was a very faithful companion.

Cheney loved to chase and eat sticks, among other things. He ate (and passed) a lot of interesting items including a friend's work glove, all the tile spacers in the bathroom during remodeling, and Emily's crayons. His favorite delicacy, by far though, was Kleenexes--especially used ones. You could never leave one laying around or throw it away in an uncovered wastebasket. He used to make the rounds routinely looking for stray ones. I accidentally left a nearly new box of Kleenexes on the floor once when I had a cold, and when we got home from church the box was almost empty and there weren't very many left on the floor. :op

Cheney also had the biggest, strongest bladder I've ever seen. He could go 12-18 hours between trips outside without any worry about accidents. On a few occasions he went 24 hours after some miscommunication between Austin & me. I never actually timed him, but I'm sure he could pee for a solid 30-45 seconds sometimes. Maybe longer.

Other fond memories include letting Cheney lick out our ice cream bowls; putting Cool Whip on his nose to lick off; Austin literally throwing him off the bed the night we came home from our honeymoon, thus abruptly ending his routine of sleeping on the bed with Austin; Cheney waiting for Austin to spill popcorn on the floor on Sunday nights; the joyful wagging of his tail when you gave him an ear rub; keeping him off the furniture by simply placing a remote or piece of paper on the chair or couch; Cheney howling along with the ambulance sirens as they came and went to the Waverly hospital.

Cheney put up with a lot when Emily came along. We sometimes had to separate them with baby gates when she was younger--mostly for his sake. Emily had lately started pestering him again. My theory is that she is making the transition from parallel play to interactive play. She determined that Lincoln was not capable, and I was generally not available, so Cheney became her default "playmate". Unfortunately, he only had so much patience. He had a fungus that had slowly been eating away at his nose for a couple years. There wasn't much we could do about it because anything you would wrestle on he would just lick off. Occasionally deep, raw fissures would form, and I'm sure it was quite painful. A couple weeks ago I think he was being extra-protective of his nose when he snapped twice at Emily and then at me. Although he just grazed our hands, we couldn't take the risk of something worse happening--especially with Lincoln becoming mobile soon and not knowing any better.

So after an agonizing decision-making process, Austin & I said our goodbyes. It was very sad, but I have felt complete peace about it since praying hard on Sunday night for peace of mind. It's still going to take awhile to get used to the idea of him being gone. I get a little lump in my throat every time I'm reminded of him. However, truth be told, it is going to be a lot more convenient not to have a dog to take care of for awhile. I think it won't be until the kids are much older before we would consider getting another one.

Emily has handled it extremely well so far. She has only casually asked, "Where's Cheney?" and "What's Cheney doing?" But those are questions she asks every day about everyone. After a brief talk about Cheney being old & cranky beforehand, we have just simply said that Cheney had to go away and is not coming back. I don't think she really grasps the concept, but I don't think she really cares. She did not have an emotional attachment to Cheney and viewed him only as a potential playmate and general resident of the house. There is enough stuff going on this week with her birthday and Halloween and grandparents coming to visit that I'm pretty sure through "out of sight, out of mind" she'll quickly forget about. It is a huge blessing not to have to go through a big "death" explanation at this time. It makes our own mourning process much easier.

Cheney Lorenzen
3/1/01 ~ 10/27/09

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mmm...cereal (i.e. rice mush)

Lincoln tried cereal for the first time today. I don't think he actually swallowed any--it mostly just drooled out. But he didn't totally reject it or pull any super funny faces. I guess we're officially entering a new stage!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cat in the Hat Comes Back

This is what happens when you read the same book every night for a solid week...

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back
by Dr. Suess
As "read" by Emily Lorenzen

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Last night Emily & I both got much-needed haircuts. I'm on a semi-annual plan and hadn't had mine trimmed since before Lincoln was born. Other than a bang trim, Emily hadn't had her hair cut since last November. It was starting to get out of control--even in pigtails. Combing out the tangles had become quite a daily traumatic event. Both of us got approximately 4 inches whacked off. Emily refused to wear the cape, but she sat amazingly still on my lap the whole time. She was pretty proud of her haircut and talks about it a lot. I'm curious to see what happens when we wash it for the first time and how it does or does not curl up.

New range!

I was super excited to have a brand new range (I guess that's what they call a stove/oven combo) delivered yesterday. The old clunker we inherited with the house was just not cutting it. The turn-dial clock was broken, so there was no timer or time bake option. The burners were sometimes out of control, and the oven temperature dial was loose, so the oven temp could vary from 50-75 degrees every time you opened the oven, which was often since there was no window in the oven door. For someone who enjoys (and does quite a bit) of cooking and considers baking one of my major hobbies, that just wasn't going to work. Emily & I immediately tried out the new oven by whipping up a batch of Halloween cupcakes for our Denver play group. Emily was quite the helper and took her job as candy and sprinkle decorator very seriously! ;o)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pictures in the leaves

About this time of year mothers start dreaming of taking adorable pictures of their kid(s) in the leaves. Getting those pictures can be quite the adventure, if not nearly impossible, sometimes. Today was perfect weather with a perfect pile of leaves and pretty much the only chance between the rain and cold to accomplish this feat. Unfortunately, a squirrelly toddler who refuses to cooperate or look at the camera + a normally smiley infant who doesn't like the feel of the leaves and also refuses to look or smile + an over-tired mommy with a very short fuse who JUST WANTS THE PERFECT PICTURE, DANG IT!! = trouble. After a rough first try we had to pack it up and head indoors so I could have a timeout and cool off with a Diet Coke. When I had regained my composure, we briefly tried again. That session ended with an over-tired Lincoln deciding he had had enough already and Emily accidentally stepping in one of Cheney's piles, which then got smeared all over her Crocs and pants. So after two valiant attempts, a change of battery and over 100 pictures taken using the continuous snapshot setting, the collage above is the best of the best. (Click to enlarge) Maybe next year... ;o)

5 months old

Lincoln turned 5 months today and weighs in at 15 lbs. 15 oz. He could have broken 16 lbs. if I would have fed him before weighing him at the hospital. ;o) That's almost exactly the same as Emily was at 5 months.

Lincoln's big accomplishment this month is rolling over from back to tummy. He is quite adept at it now. Unfortunately, he still hasn't figure out how to go the other way. He doesn't seem to mind actually sleeping on his tummy, but he doesn't like waking up and discovering that he's in that position and can't do anything about it. So we have to "rescue" him sometimes.

Lincoln has also become fascinated with his hands and feet. He will stare in wonder as he holds up his hand and slowly turns it in all directions. He will also play with his knees, feet & toes whenever his clothing allows and he "catches" them. This, along with the rolling, has made diaper changes more interesting. :o)

Just this past weekend Lincoln FINALLY had a good nap day with three solid naps all an hour or longer. There is hope! I've decided it's mostly my fault for just not staying home enough and allowing him to establish healthy napping patterns. It seems like I always have somewhere to go and it's easy just to throw him in the car seat and get by with a 30 min. snooze there. I just about had him down to only one night feeding, but between a stuffy nose and the rolling thing this past week the nights have still been very long. We'll continue working on that.

Lincoln also loves to play peek-a-boo. He has begun moving objects on and off his face to play along. :o)

Friday, October 16, 2009


After his 4-day whirlwind business trip Austin took the afternoon off. He borrowed a chainsaw and took down the flowering crab tree in our back yard. I don't think it was going to be as much of a nuisance as the one we took out at the Denver house, and it did provide some privacy from the house across the alley. However, I would REALLY like to have a garden next year and about the only place to put it will be along the alley. The tree would have shaded that area a little too much. We're planning to have someone come in and scrape out the old rock/gravel area that was used by a previous owner to park a camper and have black dirt brought in to replace it so it can be seeded. So if the tree was going to come out it had to come out now.

My surprises

Since Austin had several surprises for me when I returned home from my trip, I wanted some surprises for him when he returned from his trip. He probably liked some more than others. ;o)

#1 Fireplace

After an extensive conversation and lesson in gas appliances from my dad last week in Hull, I was able to get the pilot light lit on our gas fireplace and get it going for the first time. It's old, but relatively simple to operate. Unfortunately, the electric blower doesn't seem to work, so it doesn't really heat the room. However, the glass doors get super hot, making it totally unsafe to use with mobile infants/toddlers. It might be something we just enjoy at night after the kids go to bed with a new gas fireplace added to the long wish list of home improvements.

#2 The great toy sort

Following a discussion with the other moms in our Denver playgroup and a growing frustration of how long it takes to pick up toys at night I was inspired to do a massive toy sort and reorganization. Using all the diaper boxes I have been saving (which has been driving Austin nuts) I organized most of Emily's toys into small, distinct categories. I made both written and picture labels for everything and arranged all the boxes in the upstairs landing closet (click on picture for larger view). Even included are 4 small kids' shoe boxes each containing a few "misc" items like a slinky, Happy Meal toys, a flashlight key chain and other random things Emily latches onto for a day or two and then casts aside when she loses interest. The idea is to pick out a few boxes at a time to bring downstairs and play with. Every few days the boxes can be exchanged for new boxes with different toys. We haven't quite started yet because I'm still deciding which toys will be sent to the basement play area which is yet to be established. Plus I have to figure out something with Lincoln's baby toys. And I'm unsure what to do yet with Emily's play kitchen and all the play food/dishes that go with it. I'm sure any "system" I come up with will evolve as toys, interests, and developmental changes occur. At the very least it will cut down on the number of toys to trip over and deal with over the course of a day! (Special thanks to The Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room for organizational ideas!)

#3 New rugs/decor

I pretty sure Austin wasn't as thrilled about this one as I was, but I finally put together new master bathroom decor. I removed the blue & green shower curtain for use upstairs when we have guests and put the lavender rugs in Emily's closet. The sad blue & green towels have been demoted to cleaning rags. In their places are a new black shower curtain, fuzzy black rugs and luxuriously soft black & maroon towels. It's my feeble attempt to at least work with the tile & wallpaper currently in the bathroom.

I was also excited to find area rugs that I think will work in our bedroom. It really needed something, and my feet/legs were getting achy from walking across the hard floor so much (mostly at night). I have been completely overwhelmed by the whole rug thing and didn't even know where to start. After glancing through the collections at every store I went into I found these at Blain's Farm & Fleet (my new favorite store). There's enough green that matches the current paint color, and I think the squares compliment the geometric pattern on the bedding set. It adds a splash of color, but I don't feel like it's too overwhelming. Now I just have to decide what and where to hang things on the walls! ;o)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rainy day fun

Chocolate Dora's & Toothpaste Caps

Two recent stories from life with Emily...

One day last week Emily asked to sit on the potty around 4:30pm. This has been occurring sporadically--mostly just b/c she wants a piece of candy corn, which is currently the reward just for trying. She actually wanted to sit awhile, so I left to quickly attend to something else. By the time I returned she had put on a new "Dora" (Pampers Easy-Up) and almost had her pants back on. She had been eating chocolate covered raisins as a snack, and in the process a couple got smashed on the floor. Seizing the opportunity of a perfect object lesson I picked them up, dumped them in the toilet and flushed. Little did I know. Around 7:30pm I was getting the bath water ready and did a quick Dora check. I saw that it was dirty, so I told Emily to lay down so I could take it off. She started talking about "chocolate Dora's". Sure enough, when I removed her Dora the only thing it contained was 6-8 very melted chocolate covered raisins. If it weren't for the distinct smell of chocolate you would have never known. :op

Also starting last week Emily plunged forward with training toothpaste on her toothbrush (I know--I should have done it a LOT earlier.) She loves it a little too much, so we had to establish a reasonable number of times her teeth needed to be brushed and required assistance with the toothpaste. She was a little too quiet upstairs one day, and when I went to investigate I found toothpaste (gel really) dribbled all over the sink, a distinct fruitiness in the air and Emily jabbering about the cap and the drain. Indeed, I could not locate the cap. After awhile I removed the long drain cover tube thing and discovered that she had either accidentally or purposely dropped the cap down the drain. It's a wide cap designed to stand the toothpaste tube on end and is just slightly smaller than the diameter of the drain. I immediately tried to float it up like the last drain victim (see toothbrush story) by running water. It would float up about halfway and then get stuck just out of my reach. The water would back up in the sink and slowly drain away, taking the cap back down with it. After several attempts the cap sunk all the way to the bottom where it got stuck and remains there today. The only way to retrieve it and unclog the sink will be to completely dismantle the 60-year-old plumbing pipes. Not something you want to casually do. Seeing as the sink is currently used relatively little it is not high on the priority list. Sigh. For the record, the toothpaste and Emily's toothbrush are stored on the top shelf of the medicine cabinet with a mirror that opens towards the toilet. That means the only way to get at it would be for her to stand on the edge of the tub, step on the plastic storage drawer unit and then step up on to the edge of the sink where she could swing open the mirror and reach the shelf. No place is safe and unreachable for Emily!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zucchini monster

While I was in NW Iowa this weekend I acquired this monstrous zucchini from my sister-in-law. My sister cut off a chunk for herself that she estimates will yield 6 cups of shredded zucchini. I took the rest home along some recipes from my sister. I hauled my portion out yesterday. After skinning it and scooping out the spongy pulp/seeds from the middle I ended up with 14 cups of shredded zucchini. I've never really baked with zucchini before, so I was excited to try something new. I made 4 loaves of bread and a chocolate zucchini cake. They turned out decent even though I have a psychotic oven. The remaining 8 cups is now in my freezer for experimenting at a later date.

It's funny how you can try and mentally justify that what you're eating is "healthy" because it contains vegetables. In reality, between the oil/butter/sugar the bread & cake recipes are probably the nutritional equivalent of a glazed doughnut. Even better is considering the bread a decent breakfast. The only real difference between the cake and the bread is 1/4 cup of cocoa and the fact one is baked in a 9x13 pan and one in loaf pans. Moral of the story: If you want to eat cake for breakfast, bake it in loaf pans and call it "bread". :o)

P.S. If anyone has any tried & true zucchini recipes please feel free to share. They can even be healthy. ;o)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Some people might be nervous about coming back after leaving their husbands home alone for four days. I'm usually excited to return and see what he's been up to. Not only was the house perfectly picked up, the floors freshly vacuumed/mopped/swept and a big bowl of popcorn waiting on the stove, but he also had three other surprises.

#1 Honey-Do List
I had left a pretty big "honey-do" list of small projects and Austin got most of them done. One of them included installing a working doorbell. I knew he was working on the list because he called me on Friday night from the attic. He had been doing some stuff there and when he went to open the door the door knob broke off on the inside. So he was locked in. The window to the roof wouldn't open either. Thankfully, he still had his cell phone in his pocket since he usually leaves it on the dresser after changing out of his work clothes. It took four phone calls to find someone who was available to come over and let him out. It would have been a long, cold weekend otherwise!

#2 Basement
We have been chipping away at unpacking and putting things away in the basement. However, there were still too many things that Emily could get into if left unsupervised. Austin made the final push to at least organize the remaining boxes/things. Now I can put together a play area for Emily. :o) Here are pictures from just after the move and when I got home on Sunday.

#3 New Grill!
This was the best surprise. I had really been missing a grill. Our gas grill in Denver was a direct hook-up that we inherited and stayed with the house when we moved. It was a piece of junk anyway. I had researched grills using Consumer Reports and picked out this one from Home Depot. I even checked last week and casually mentioned that there were two fully-assembled ones left in stock. ;o) And now one of them is ours! I have already purchased some specialty brats from Fareway for the inauguration on Friday.

Austin is gone on a four-day business trip this week. I hope to have some surprises of my own ready when he returns. :o)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Photo shoot

Just before leaving for home we had a new family friend do a photo shoot to practice for a photography class she is taking. Emily cooperated better than I expected, but Lincoln was a bit of a grump. Then again, I would be too if someone woke me me up from a nap, stuffed me in a fleece hoodie and plopped me down in damp leaves in 35-degree weather! I was thrilled with the results, though, and am having a very hard time picking favorites to get printed. Here is a sampling...

The full photo shoot can be viewed in a folder within our October 2009 Winkflash folder. If you would like the login information or need a reminder please contact me.

Full family weekend

The kids & I just got back from a four day trip to NW Iowa to visit lots of family. We went to six different houses and three people came to my parents' house. It was a great time visiting everyone and actually was relaxing at the same time! The highlight of the trip was meeting our new nephew/cousin Ryan. He makes Lincoln look really big!

It was pretty depressing waking up to snow on Saturday morning. This was the scene from the front window of my parents' house. I hadn't really packed for that. Most of it had melted by the end of the day, but it snowed again after we left for home.
We celebrated my sister Abbie's birthday on Saturday. I also got the chance to catch up with a really good friend from college that I hadn't talked to in 4 years. Plus I did a little solo shopping at a local consignment shop. :o)