Friday, September 30, 2011

September 2011 videos

4 years + 11 months

After a very silly photo session, Emily is modeling her new preschool t-shirt they made during their field trip this week to Go-Hawk Graphics.  She actually participated this time and was very excited about the "safety green" color (even though I would call it a neon yellow).  She is loving preschool again this year and doing great.

Clothing is always interesting with Emily.  She has a shirt with a built-in vest thing that she got from Grandma Lorenzen.  She calls it her "cowgirl" shirt, even though it's much more rock star-looking.  We also had a little battle this month over coats on a chilly morning.  Emily seems to think that if she is wearing any kind of hoodie/sweatshirt she doesn't need to wear a coat because she is "already wearing a coat."  That's not going to fly in January.  One day she was almost in tears and explained, "The girls won't let me go outside with this ugly coat."  "The girls" would be her imaginary friends.  The coat would be a cute little lavender spring jacket I got from a garage sale this summer.  I hope it was just that particular coat that was the issue!

"2 twins we love are special"
Speaking of imaginary friends, her favorites this month are Rana, age 5, and 16-year-old twins, Lany & Loony.  I think that is partly inspired by the fact that Emily has twin girls in her preschool class (named Megan & Ellie).  It was their birthday last week and she made them a card.  They are very busy at the high school, though, playing soccer and baseball.

Emily fell into a very reliable lunch routine this month.  All the sudden she decided PBJ was the best thing ever.  She ate it almost every day, and I was really thankful for squeezable jelly.  Her perfect lunch would be a folded-over PBJ, Cheetos or tortilla chips, fresh strawberries and a monster bar for dessert.  We had to practice not eating the folded side of the sandwich first, though. :o)

PJ Houdini

Today marks the 7th consecutive day that we have walked into Lincoln's room and found him down to his diaper with his footed sleeper on the floor still fully zipped to the neck.  I have no idea how or why he (or any other kid) does it.  It's not like he hates his pajamas.  He is very excited to put on his "fi-ah chuck jammies" after his bath and insists on putting them back on as soon as you change his diaper.  Silly boy!

Need a drink?


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monkeys in the tub

These little monkeys are enjoying their new bathroom!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bathroom remodel--Revealed!

It has been 4 weeks to the day that the kids were kicked out of their bathroom for a major remodeling project.  This would be the peach and black bathroom upstairs.  In case you've forgotten, this is what it originally looked like right before and shortly after we moved in August 2009:

In November 2009, Austin installed a desperately needed vent fan:

In July 2010 we had the bathtub refinished white:

In April 2011 we went through the "Peach Potty Saga":

But it was time for a complete overhaul.  I spent the months of July & August researching, picking out and purchasing all the materials.  Austin took the week before Labor Day off from work to start the project.  I helped tear down tile, primed the ceiling, sponged down some of the grout, plus made decisions about where to place things.  Austin did everything else.  I think you'll agree he has an amazing range of skills and knowledge!

The week before Austin had scraped the popcorn ceiling and finished removing the wallpaper.  I also want to document the funny teenage scribblings on the inside of the medicine cabinet.  I've met someone in Waverly who knows who Sara & Heather were (Sara lived in the house).  I love how some of the boys' names are crossed out and replaced with new names. :o)

After removing all the fixtures, we ripped out all the ugly peach and black wall tile.  After knocking out a small portion of the solid plaster walls with embedded chicken wire, Austin decided that we were just going to drywall over top of all the existing wall.  It was another confirmation of how incredibly solidly built our house is.

The next step was replacing the window.  Even though it was relatively new (early 90's), a large, double-hung window with a painted wood ledge and metal mini-blinds overlooking the driveway is not practical in the middle of a shower/tub that your children are going to be using on a regular basis.  We decided to go with a glass block window, which you can get as a single unit and install like a regular window. 

Then came putting up all new backer board and drywall.

While I went to NW Iowa to pick up the kids from my parents on Labor Day, Austin textured and painted the walls and laid the floor tile (18" speckled taupe, textured tile squares).  When I returned he started the wall tile (white 3" x 6" subway tile with a glass block border).

Emily got in on the action with the very special job of removing the hundreds of tile spacers.

It was a tricky tile job around the window.

Then came a LOT of grouting and caulking.  Finally, it was time to start putting everything back together.  Austin put the white toilet back in but created a whole new vanity/sink.  Because of the radiators we couldn't use a standard vanity, so we bought a standard top and some chrome table legs online and Austin built a box for the sink to sit on.  We added a large mirrored medicine cabinet and a small, white cabinet above the toilet.  It turned out the vanity light I ordered online didn't fit above the medicine cabinet, so we just flipped it around to point up instead of down.  I added a Closet Maid white cubical unit with fabric drawers from Target (love those things!) and plenty of towel hooks.  All the Circo monkey decor is from Target and the shag rug was on clearance at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  Here is the final product, which I'm am thrilled with:

Accessories are the fun things that really bring it all together.  As mentioned above, all the monkey decor is part of the Circo collection from Target except the wall clock.  I found that from a private seller on, but you can tell it's made to match it exactly.  The pictures of the kids are both from when they were approximately 8 months old.  I got the idea from my SIL and have been excited to finally use it!

It's a lot of work and lot of decisions to remodel a bathroom.  There were some hiccups along the way, but nothing major.  The bathroom is so much brighter and cleaner now.  What a great reward!  Now if only the master (pink) bathroom was done...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Apple orchard

Another fun activity I wanted to do with the kids this fall is go to an apple orchard.  There is one that just reopened south of Nashua, which is only a 20 minute drive.  We grabbed a 5 gallon bucket and set out in search of apples.  There were tons of them.  Unfortunately, most of them were either already on the ground or too high to reach.  I was determined to get decent ones off the trees, though, so we hunted hard, and I even climbed a tree and tossed what I could reach back down to the kids.  They had fun, and we came home with 21 lbs. of beautiful apples for only $8.  I'm excited to use them in all my favorite apple recipes, plus a few new ones!

Best "Inflatable" Dam Run

Austin decided to run the 8K in the Waverly Best "Inflatable" Dam Run again this year.  It went much better than last year.  The weather was cooler, but it wasn't raining.  Austin took over a minute off his time and finished in 36:10, which was 1st in his age group and 3rd overall (the first place guy ran a ridiculous 31:31).  Two ladies from our small group also got 1st & 2nd in their age division in the 5K.

However, Emily was most excited about the Kids' Fun Run.  She set out her "race clothes" the night before and insisted on wearing the short sleeves and skirt even though it was only 47 degrees.  She even made a sign for herself that I could hold.  Side note: I asked her if she wanted to decorate the signs more, but she calmly explained that these signs would not have a disco ball on them because it would look silly.  

Even though she had no idea what it was going to be like, Emily was pretty certain she was going to finish first.  She was actually more like 7th in the 5-and-under age group, but she did great!  Lincoln didn't run in the actual fun run, but insisted on running up and down the chute several times afterwards and received a goodie bag, too.  This may become a fun family tradition (with me being the official photographer)!

Friday, September 23, 2011

The basement is back

The kids finally have full use of the basement playroom again after a month of banishment due to a little bat issue.  As you can see, they are loving it.  It's like a whole new room of toys!

We have also added a large corner desk courtesy of my parents' basement clean-out efforts.  Emily is thrilled to have a desk of her own.  We are thrilled to move all her "art" stuff to the basement! 

However, there are apparently some "rules" about the desk.  This is what I found written on the large dry-erase board:  "Rule: Stay out of my desk area while I have meetings.  Do not mess in this space."  The numbers are some kind of phone number and the picture is a person messing up papers with a line through it.  Watch out, Lincoln!


We finally got pumpkins & gourds today.  It's one of my favorite fall activities.  We ended up buying most of them from the Roger's Market roadside stand on Hwy 218.  There wasn't a huge selection, and no big set-up, but it was fine.  Emily thought every pumpkin was good (except the bumpy ones).  Because of the very small selection of larger pumpkins, I committed a cardinal sin (in my opinion) and bought a couple more from Wal-mart.  Something just doesn't feel right about picking a pumpkin out of big cardboard box.

Anyway, Lincoln enjoyed helping wash all the pumpkins and setting them out for decoration.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Reading together

2 years + 4 months

Lincoln is more "two" than ever.  He is now starting to throw tantrums that rival those of Emily in the past.  Thankfully, most of them occur at home--usually at mealtime.  He is often particular about how the mealtime prayer should go--who goes in what order and for how long.  He often wants to continue to hold hands and pray throughout the meal.  His "prayers" still mostly consist of mumbling, but you can occasionally recognize some words and names.

The words "Mine" and "No" have become more predominant in Lincoln's daily vocabulary.  His go-to phrase is, "Hi, Mommy!" or "Hi, Daddy!" whether he is sad, happy or guilty about something.  If you don't immediately respond to what he wants he has started manipulating you physically, such as pulling your hand to get up and walk into another room, or touching your mouth and saying, "Read!" when you start day-dreaming during book time or covering your mouth when he wants you to stop talking or singing.  My current favorite words to hear him say are "chocolate cereal" which comes out more like "cah-ket see-yee-yahl".

Lincoln has started to recognize that there are letters/words in books, although he doesn't know any of them specifically.  He is currently in love with the "Lift and Look" series from Usborne.  We have had several of them home from the library in the last month.  I'd consider purchasing one or two, but honestly, I'm very glad to bring them back after a week!  We've been fortunate to be the first ones to check out two of them, which is huge when it comes to lift-the-flap books from the public library.

Lincoln continues his love affair with any kind of vehicle/wheels.  Most pieces of construction equipment with any kind of bucket are termed "diggers" regardless of their proper name.  He has been fascinated by the construction along 4th Street SW in Waverly all summer and now the beginning of the exit ramp intersection by Janesville.

With the cooler weather, we have switched over to footed-sleepers at night.  Lincoln absolutely loves his new fire truck jammies.  For some reason, though, he giggles like you're tickling him to death whenever you zip up the zipper even if you're not remotely close to actually touching him anywhere.  He also knows how to escape from them (i.e. strip down to just his diaper).

We are in a tough transition for clothes in general.  Size 18 months is a little too tight or short, but 24 month/2T are still pretty big--especially pants.  In this month's picture Lincoln is sporting his new 2T skinny jeans from Old Navy with the adjustable waist cinched in as far as it can go.  Anything that is just plain elastic pretty much falls off of him, besides being so long he almost trips.  I've been quickly reminded how undesirable long-sleeve shirts are when it comes to a toddler eating.  Lincoln seems to be doing a pretty good job of leaving socks and shoes on considering the fact he literally has not worn socks since May, but he always thinks he has to take them off while eating at the table and usually places them on the table after doing so. :op