Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 2011 videos

4 years + 6 months

Wow--Emily is officially 4 1/2!  Her biggest accomplishment this month was finally learning how to spit water out when brushing her teeth.   We have been trying to teach her for well over a year, but she would always just end up swallowing it.  Something finally clicked, and she pretends to be a water fountain.  We haven't quite mastered swishing around yet, but we're well on our way to graduating from toddler toothpaste! :o) 

Blowing her nose, however, is still another story.  I finally got so frustrated the other day I pulled out a candle and a lighter and made Emily try to blow out the candle with her nose.  She did manage to get it once, but I'm not sure it sunk in.  Luckily, her nose stopped running after that incident, but I know it's only a matter of time before it comes up again.  Listening to people sniffling is one of my big pet peeves.

Frosted Mini-Wheats Cereal, Little Bites, Chocolate, 15.8 oz, (pack of 3)
Life Cereal, 15-Ounce Box (Pack of 6)Another major change this month has been Emily's breakfast cereal of choice.  For the longest time (I'm guessing well over a year now) she has always eaten a cup of Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Chocolate Little-Bites cereal dry every morning along with her gummy vitamins.  I actually really like this cereal, too, with or without milk.  It's whole grain, high fiber and easy to eat with your fingers.  At one point this winter I had six boxes of it in the pantry because of various sales.  I thought I might be going overboard, but she plowed right through them.  When there was only two servings left in the last box I just about freaked out when I discovered that Fareway was no longer carrying "chocolate cereal" as she calls it.  I mourned when Kellogg's discontinued the Vanilla Creme flavor of Frosted Mini-Wheats, and I thought the same thing had happened to the chocolate.  But the next day Emily suddenly decided that Life was her new cereal of choice and it has been ever since.  Whew!  I did find out that the chocolate flavor had not been discontinued and you can still buy it other places, but now we've moved on to the double-packs of Life from Sam's Club. :o)

As you probably know, Earth Day is in April, and they talked about it at Emily's preschool.  She really soaked it all in and is constantly talking about Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and singing a little song about it), and looking for the three arrows on packaging to see if you can recycle it.  For a few days whenever I had an empty package she wanted to use it to make something else like the soup cans they made into pencil holders at preschool.  However, if she couldn't immediately think of a practical use for it, I made her put it in the recycling bin in the pantry.  (For the record--we recycle a LOT of stuff.  More than we actually put in the trash.  The city of Waverly has financial incentives for residents to do so.)  While we have rolled our eyes at some of the things Emily has said, there have been some perks.  That night I convinced Emily that she could do her part to keep the Earth clean by picking up all the toys before bed--and she did!  ;o)

After all the games she has played at grandparents' houses lately, I decided that Emily was probably ready to tackle the game of Sorry! Now she is hooked.  I kind of helped her out with strategy ideas for the first few games, and she caught on pretty quickly.  It still took her a while to beat me, though.  She is so eager to play that she plots out all the times for the coming week that she will be home while Lincoln is napping so someone can play with her.  (She quickly figured out that having Lincoln around does not work well.)  She's so dedicated that one day I told her I had to lay down for a little while first.  She quietly sat on the chair holding the timer for a full 30 minutes until it went off and I got up from my nap.  She had the whole game set up and waiting to go.  However, that was also the day that I discovered whenever Emily "sets up" the game (she decides who is going to be which color and always wants to go first), you better reshuffle the deck before you start.  A couple times now she has magically started off drawing a "2" and a "12" on her first turn.  For any of you who are familiar with the game, you know that's the best possible draw you could make off the bat.  It's no coincidence.  Sneaky little girl!

Emily doesn't always handle injuries very well.  After I bought Disney princess band-aids she thinks she needs a band-aid for everything, including little bonks on her head or a stinging funny bone.  She skinned her knee one day outside this month and was super dramatic about getting two princess band-aids to cover it.  She carefully protected her knee in the bathtub and refused to take them off for six days.  Those are some sticky band-aids!  She has had a cut on her lip for over a week now that keeps scabbing over, which she picks off and it scabs over, etc.  I'm surprised she hasn't asked for a band-aid for that!

If you were waiting for an imaginary friend update, you will be happy to know that Dirs (pronounced "Dye-rus") had another birthday this month and is now 13 years old.  Emily also has a new friend named Emma.  I'm not sure how old she is.  I recently returned a sprinkler ball thing to Wal-mart that I found out probably wasn't going to work as advertised and Emily was quite distraught about it.  She went on and on about Dirs wanting one but Emma's Wal-mart didn't have one or something.  I finally ended the conversation by telling Emily that she can just go to Dirs' house to play with it. ;o) 

Side note:  This month's picture was actually taken on Friday.  You can tell because Emily has her yellow "Friday" socks on.  She was also super excited to wear her brand new Crocs and insisted on wearing shorts because we had been talking all week about how it was going to be sunny and warmer on Friday.  Never mind the fact that the day started out at 27 degrees.  Gotta love her!

Kitchen kid

 Who can resist a man in the kitchen? ;o)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Big Sister/Little Brother

I'm not normally into matchy-matchy outfits--especially since we have a girl and a boy--but Emily really wanted this shirt, and I caved and bought Lincoln the matching one.  Both kids fill their classic roles.  Emily can be a bossy mother hen and Lincoln can be a pesky little snoop, but in general they get along well.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

More entertainment

Lincoln had some more entertainment this morning.  The Waverly Health Center is moving the helipad to the roof of the Centennial Pavilion, which is in full view from our big front picture window.  Today they used a big crane to hoist loads of concrete to the roof.  It will be really exciting when the helicopter starts landing there, although the leaves on the trees block most of the view during the summer.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

A visit from Mr. & Mrs. Duck

We had a pair of Mallard ducks wander through our yard while we were out playing on the play set after lunch.  This is not an unusual sight.  We've seen quite a few ducks in our yard or in the alley before.  Soon they might even have little ducklings!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter morning

We had an egg hunt for the kids at home on Easter morning.  Emily was all about it.  Lincoln kept getting distracted by the other stuff in the basket.  There is a video in the April video player.

Here are the kids enjoying their M&M's and jellybeans.

Emily was very excited to pose for a picture in her Easter dress.  Lincoln was not in a cooperative mood at all.  Side note: Lincoln is wearing the same pair of khaki pants as he did for last Easter's picture.  Crazy.

I think Emily is starting to grasp the true meaning of Easter thanks to preschool, Sunday school and reading from The Jesus Storybook Bible.  She figured out that crosses are about Jesus and not just the letter "t".  We argued back and forth for days about whether Jesus died on a Friday or a Saturday.  Now her quick explanation of Easter is: "Friday was a bad day.  Saturday was a day off.  Sunday was a happy day."  Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Family & Friends

We all packed up and headed down to Des Moines today.  All of Austin's family was there.  We got to meet our new niece/cousin, Macy.  Lincoln was pretty curious about the "baby".  Emily was in awe of holding her.

The cousins had a short egg hunt in the front yard (it was chilly!!).  Emily decidedly determined that she does NOT like black jellybeans.  I don't either.  :op  Good thing Daddy does!

We attempted to get a picture of all the grandkids.  Not bad!

I was able to sneak away for a few hours in the afternoon to attend a bridal shower for my best friend from JH/HS/College, Angie D.  I was also excited that my newly-married friend, Sarah, was there.  We giggled and caught up on things in the corner most of the time. [Note: The wall clock makes it look like Angie has a halo.  This is somewhat amusing to me. :o)]

Friday, April 22, 2011

My little project

While Austin was putting together the play set, I had a little project yesterday, too.  I saw an ad in the classifieds for some free raspberry bushes.  I have fond memories of picking raspberries from my grandparents' garden growing up, so I jumped at the chance to get some of my own.  In the morning I packed up the kids in the van and headed down to the Shell Rock River south of Janesville to a little acreage way out in the woods.  We met the nice older gentleman who lived there and started digging. 

During nap time I worked on planting.  My original plan was to continue the line of existing bushes along the alley.  However, after chopping through the compacted dirt/rocks along the edges I discovered a solid slab of cement about 6" down.  According to our neighbor, the driveway approach for the attached garage actually curves way around and several feet into the alley.  Over the years it has been covered up as the city plows come through and maintain the alley.  So much for plan A.  Plan B was to just move them far enough in to miss the cement.  This still took considerable effort because the dirt was so compacted from the skidloader driving over it while they spread it around.  I dug out nine holes by jumping on a spade and decided to call it quits.  I had plenty of raspberry canes (that's what I learned the shoots are called) to divide up among the holes.  I got some free compost from the city yard waste site to back-fill the holes in hopes of helping them get started.  They may not look too impressive now, but I really hope they make it.  If not, all I have invested is a buck or two in gas and some sweat equity.

I also salvaged the barrel planter pot that was randomly in the middle of the rocked area.  I don't know if it originally had a bottom, but it sure doesn't now.  Whoever put it there also lined the bottom half with gallon milk jugs, so it's not solid dirt.  We had fun planting some flowers in it last year, and I hope to improve upon it this year.  It will also look much nicer when it is surrounded by mulch. :o)

New play set!

Austin took two vacation days this week to work on putting together a new play set for the kids.  After 10+ hours of poring over terrible instructions and modifying to make up for missing/chintzy pieces (yay for a handy husband!), we have a super fun addition to the backyard.  We were really hoping to get some mulch laid down over the landscape fabric, but the yard waste site in Waverly was closed for Good Friday.  (Side note: It's great to have free compost and mulch available, as well as a place to dump all our yard waste and leaves, but they have terrible hours!)  We're planning to put down a base layer of the free stuff and top-dress it with some nice stuff from the nursery in town.

As you can imagine, Austin had two eager helpers during the process.

The rain held off just long enough this afternoon to get everything set up and let the kids play for a little while.  It might have been cold, windy and misty, but they loved it!

Emily's favorite thing so far is the two-seater swing.  Lincoln was thrilled to have some sand to dig in again.  We're sure looking forward to some warmer days and, as Emily put it, "Having lots of friends over to play!"


Lincoln has recently started a fun little scheme.   Some time during the day he'll quietly disappear.  I usually find him slinking around behind his crib in the dark sucking on his pacifier.  He only gets a pacifier in bed.  If I forget to put them (he has two) up and inside the box holding his CD player (the only semi-safe and "up" place in his room), he digs them back out of his crib and sucks on them in secret.  Here is a picture of him getting busted and another of him trying to stash his pacifier down between the mattress and bumper to save for later.  It reminds me of catching a kid smoking behind the barn.  Heaven help us!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Moving dirt

We had some pretty exciting entertainment this afternoon!  The dirt guys finally showed up to scrape off the 6" layer of overgrown rocks along the alley as well as getting rid of the disintegrating railroad ties dividing the rocked area from the rest of the lawn.  Then they replaced it with black dirt.  Lincoln was utterly fascinated, as you can imagine.  We're hoping to get some more work done on that project the rest of this week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

23 months old

Only one more month to go before Lincoln is two!  I'm still holding out hope that he might stop drooling by then, but it's not looking promising.  I'm really praying that last, stubborn eye tooth will pop through soon so we can get this over with!

Lincoln has a pretty long list of animal sounds now.  He also recently added "ah-pane" (airplane), "nice" and "ban-ket" (blanket) to his vocabulary.  His favorite thing to do is run up to anybody and everybody saying, "Hi!"  There are still lots of other grunts, groans and babblings that have no discernible meaning.  This gets a little frustrating at times.

Although no real words are actually said, Lincoln can quite clearly indicate he wants to watch a video either on TV or in the van, which happens quite often.  I know it's kind of sad considering the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two watch no TV at all, but that's what happens when you're a second child.  He gets especially excited about The Berenstain Bears and Thomas and Friends.

Lincoln continues to enjoy playing with trucks, cars, trains (pretty much anything with wheels), dirt, etc.  He also likes playing with the play kitchen (as well as the real kitchen!), Emily's Little People Princess Castle and the only baby doll we have in the house.  So he's well-rounded. :o)

One significant development this month has been an exertion of independence concerning walking vs. riding.  If we go for a walk with the stroller he'll often want to get out and walk/run alongside the stroller--sometimes for up to 4 blocks at a time.  He'd also rather walk then have me carry him between the van and buildings.  Because of his petite size I have probably carried him longer than I normally would have (he just broke 24 lbs.).  The biggest showdown occurs when we go shopping.  He is usually no longer content riding in the cart--for sure not in the designated seat, but sometimes not in the big part either.  Sometimes he ends up there anyway.  On our last trip to Target he ran away three times in the shoe department alone, so he spent the rest of the time caged in the big part of the cart while I attempted to balance boxes of diapers, a giant package of TP, a six-pack of Kleenex, a large shower gift and other bulky items in the remaining space.  Of course, that's not necessarily the safest place either (there's a reason there is a warning label about not letting kids ride there).  On our last trip to Wal-mart Lincoln leaned over too far and literally took a dive into the refrigerated biscuits section.  Because of all this, I have started doing the grocery shopping on Saturdays and leaving the kids at home.

Despite his literally monkeying around, we love our little guy with all his expressiveness and goofiness! :o)

Silly boy

Lincoln wouldn't put pants on this morning, so I decided to take some blackmail pictures...

Notice the lovely white stuff outside?  We had heavy thunder snow most of the morning and ended up with 1-2" of wet, slushy muck.  It isn't all melted yet.  It might not be tomorrow either.  What happened to spring?!?  Also, the reason my rain boots were by the back door was because it was recycling pick-up day today and the wind had knocked the lids off the recycling tubs overnight and pieces of cardboard and plastic had blown all over the front yard and alley.  With a windchill in the lower 20's it was not a fun way to start the morning! :op

Later in the day Lincoln decided to be cheesy for the camera.  He has such an array of facial expressions.

Lincoln finished supper early and quietly disappeared.  When I finally realized how long he had been gone I found him playing with his cars in the plant dirt.  I just repotted this plant, so it was all fresh and fluffy stuff.  And it was everywhere.  I had to rescue four vehicles and wash them.  You can barely see the one buried in the back.

Art by Emily

I took some pictures of some of Emily's art projects today.  This is the cross she made at preschool by gluing fiori pasta onto a cardboard shape and spray-painting it gold.  It is now proudly hanging on her bedroom door knob.

She came up with her own collection of seasons pictures this afternoon using some stickers I got in the mail.  I was able to guess correctly which season was represented by each picture before labeling them.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Paying for pain

There has been one bright spot for me this month (if you want to call it that).  When the brochures for all the summer programs came out I found out about all the fitness classes offered at The W, which is a joint venture between the city of Waverly and Wartburg College.  It is a new, state-of-the-art indoor fitness facility that includes a natatorium (which I discovered is just a fancy name for an indoor swimming pool).  Although I had heard a lot about it, I had never been there before.  It's actually pretty expensive to become a member.  However, you don't have to be a member to take fitness classes and the class fees are quite reasonable.  I needed to do something after another long winter, so I signed up for the Combo class on MWF afternoons.  It totally kicks my butt for 45 minutes, but I feel so good afterward.  The next morning is sometimes a different story. ;o)  We did so many squat moves today that I don't know how I'm going to make it out of the desk chair tonight, let alone out of bed in the morning!

Anyway, it is truly a combo class with aerobics, weights and toning using all sorts of equipment.  We've used steps, mats, free weights, resistance bands, body bars, medicine balls and boxing gloves/mitts.  We do something totally different every time, and the instructor sometimes makes things up as we go based on suggestions from the class.  I've done lots of moves and used some equipment for the first time (and I used to go to a lot of aerobics classes at church when we were first married).  One nice thing about the class is that it's not full of a bunch of fitness gurus.  Out of the twenty ladies (it's all female) of all ages, maybe only one or two are really able to completely keep up with the instructor.  There are ways to modify almost everything we do, and it's totally okay if you do.  I don't have to feel guilty if some days I use the lowest weights/resistance levels.  My back and shoulder muscles usually thank me later (or at least don't scream as loudly). ;o)  Fridays are usually the best because the class is notably smaller.  For some reason the college-age crowd is conspicuously absent at 4:45pm on a Friday...

The other great thing is I recently was introduced to a pair of middle-school-aged sisters who attend our church and live just 3 blocks away.  Between the two of them they are going to watch the kids when Austin isn't home (which is about 60% of the time).  They've both come now, and they're both great.  It may be a little more expensive to have to pay a babysitter and pay for a class, but having that hour to do something good for myself a few times a week is worth every penny and all the pain. :o)

Excused absence

I have been absent from the blogging world for awhile (6 days is a long time for me).  After the beautiful beginning, the rest of last week was very long and frustrating at times.  Austin ended up being gone for 4 1/2 days after his return flight got canceled, and he didn't arrive home until noon on Saturday.  Both kids had coughs and runny noses.  I was up with one or both of them every night.  The weather stunk (rain, terrible wind and even 1/2" of snow on Saturday morning).  The dirt guy didn't show up.  The replacement toilet bowl didn't come, but a new (second) tank did.  The kids didn't eat well whether it was leftovers (for the fifth time) or I made something new.  I actually called my mom to apologize for all those times I complained about what she cooked and then refused to eat it when I was growing up.  After a minor emotional breakdown on Saturday I went to bed at 8:30pm.

Now it is a new week.  Austin has left for 2 1/2 days again but is taking Thursday & Friday off from work.  The new toilet bowl showed up today.  The dirt guy said they'd be here first thing in the morning.  The kids are feeling and eating better (sort of).  I had the best dental check-up ever--quick & painless with no cavities and no concerns (i.e. no "watch" areas) and no payment because we have dental insurance for the first time ever. :o)  I also finally found some fabric for the backs of the curtains I'm planning to make for the breakfast nook.  It only took a year since I bought the initial fabric.  Maybe by next winter I'll get around to sewing them together! :op

The weather forecast is still utterly depressing, especially since we were planning on doing a lot of outdoor work this weekend, but otherwise things are looking up! :o)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Parks & daffodils

It was a near-perfect day today: sunny and 68 degrees with a very slight breeze from the south.  We took full advantage--especially considering the forecast of rain the rest of the week and possibly even some snow this weekend. :op  We visited our top four favorite parks in Waverly thanks to our park tour last summer.  They were Kids' Kingdom (Memorial Park), Juhl Park, Kohlmann Park and South Riverside Park.

The kids also had to check out our neighbor's daffodils.  We have a few scraggly tulips that are just starting to bloom--definitely nothing picture-worthy.  We could actually use the rain to really green everything up since we missed it all last week.  Some of the trees and bushes are just starting to bud out.  I love this time of year!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Washing cars

It was another beautiful day.  We cleaned out the garages and hauled out the big picnic table and grill.  Austin was planning to install a new toilet in the upstairs bathroom, but after pulling out the old one he discovered that the bowl of the new one was shattered in the box.  We had to special order it through because of the non-standard rough-in size.  We're working on a remedy for that.

So Austin decided to do the first hand-washing of the vehicles for the season.  He usually does this every Sunday when the weather is nice.  The kids were very excited to help, which meant I got plenty of time to get some things done inside the house.  :o)

Lincoln enjoyed sitting in the middle of the bubbles and puddles.
Emily was actually quite helpful.
Lincoln is getting tips on washing mud flaps.
Emily was entrusted with the hose for rinsing.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A warm Sunday

It was an exceptionally warm day today reaching 77 degrees.  We threw open all the windows and joyfully went outside with shorts and no coats.  It took Lincoln less than an hour to skin both knees. :o( 

We enjoyed our first picnic of the season on the deck until the wind started to pick up.

On a somewhat unrelated note, Lincoln got into Emily's markers and decided to decorate himself. :o)