Saturday, November 26, 2011

Welcome Back

Wouldn’t this be an amazing way to be greeted at the airport?

Flash Mobs.  Love them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pirate Pals

We’re blessed with other ex pat friends for our boys to pal around with.   One of Calvin's little pals turned 4 this week and I found a little pirate hat at the store, which I thought was the perfect gift for his little buddy.  It was this little pal and his brother who started Calvin’s love for dressing up, so I knew he’d love a pirate costume to go with the hat.  Even though it was more work than just buying something else, I thought it was worth it to make one for him.  

But often as I start a project I think of other fun things to add.  I knew we had a few goodies bags left over from Calvin’s party so I thought he also needed some felt gold coins in a treasure bag. 

I’m so glad I did, it was a big hit.  Calvin was pretty thrilled about giving it to him, and he even kept the contents of the present a secret until he opened it.

Creating is so much fun.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No Bake Cookies

I made a few cookies the other day. 
Of the felt variety. 
They were so much fun to make.
I made two different batches.
Some local varieties since my friend’s daughter birthday is this week.

Of course it’s necessary to have an apron when you bake.  So I just had to make one.

Then I made a batch of American cookies.

My favorites are the sugar cookies.
Calvin loves the “Benjamin” (Gingerbread) cookies best.
What a fun project.  I may have to make a little bit more felt food in the near future.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Money Well Spent

This year Marvin bought an ESPN college pass which enables him to watch lots of college games both football and basketball.  He’s loved being able to catch a few live games, but he can also watch them after they’ve aired too.  Micah enjoyed his first K-State game with Daddy the other day.

It was so fun watching him snuggle in on his daddy’s lap. 

Definitely worth the money.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Painful Shopping

I needed to do some winter clothing shopping for Micah last week.  Since we got our first snow I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. 

First up he needed a pair of shoes for winter.  So we picked up Calvin from preschool and headed to the closest store with a wide selection.  It’s a tiny little store with the walls are lined with shoes, floor to ceiling.  (Which was very appealing to our little destroyer who loves, loves, loves, taking everything and anything off of the shelf.)  Sigh. 

I kept him in the Ergo as long as possible, requested a few sizes in certain shoes I thought would surely be big enough and then unleashed the energy ball so we could try them on.  Let’s just say he wasn’t too happy when I didn’t let him explore the shoes, but rather made him try on shoes.  Oh the horror. 

He threw his biggest fit to date, on the floor screaming, to which I then was being reprimanded by the ladies who worked there because my child was on the dirty floor.  

He calmed down a bit, so it was at that point I tried to squeeze a few shoes on his feet, which initiated another fit.  All this time I have 4, FOUR ladies who work there staring me down with a nice critical glare.  Finally I said, “He hates getting dressed, it’s like this every single time, if you would help me it would be much easier.”  Then described the shoe I was wanting and Halleluiah they found a shoe with zippers on both sides of the foot and it fit his cubby little toes.   It fit and I knew I did not want to go through that again so decided it was worth the ridiculous price.

If that experience wasn’t bad enough I needed to buy him a snow suit.  Its required winter gear for children here, they must wear them when they go outside regardless if there is snow on the ground or not.  So we caught a bus and headed to a different store to buy a snow suit.   

Micah already has a snow suit and a coat but they are separates, which means putting two articles of clothing on him anytime we go outside.  Since none of you have ever dressed him, I’ll just sum it up with one word: Torturous.  He does not sit still.  Ever.  He fights getting dressed every single time.  So when I saw that snow suits weren’t too outrageously priced, we decided it was worth the money.  For our sanity this winter.

I always forget what is what in the European sizes, so I had to try them on him.  I rounded up several I liked in a few sizes and then the fun began.  I wanted to see how he walked in the snow suit and how  much growing room it had left, but he remembered where all the cool riding toys were so he bolted there every time his feet touched the ground.

 He wasn’t happy about having to return to the torture table.  (I was so thankful for the table they had near the changing room.  It saved the day.)  Finally we found the one after suit #4, so I redressed him in the winter wear we came in.  I had never been so excited to leave a store.  And yes mommy chocolate was required when we got home.

***On a more random note, if the poor little fella falls over he can’t quite figure out how to get back up in all that puffiness.  I’m sure he’ll learn soon, but I’m very thankful that it has slowed him down a bit.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


One of the fabulous things about having a local in our home is that they have often teach me how to do things more efficiently.  Since I didn’t grow up here the way I do household chores is how I was taught how to do things.  

We had a dryer growing up so hanging our laundry up to dry is not second nature.  I’ve developed as system of how I think things dry quicker, pinning jeans upside down, placement on the drying rack, use of a fan, etc.  But when our nanny hung up our wet sheets the other day I was blow away by her brilliance.

She folded the sheet into fourths and pinned it to the rack.  No more throwing sheets over the doors for me.  These dried just like normal and they were much easier to fold up afterwards and they were flatter to store.  Love it.  I still haven’t embraced ironing my sheets though and I likely never will.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I have been watching our little spider man figure out how to climb anything and everything recently. He’s tried desperately to climb into the bathtub but couldn’t quite do it.  He can now check that off of his bucket list.

His big brother decided to join him, rather than wash the mud off of his face.  This new skill has now opened up access to all those toys he loves to toss into the bath tub throughout the day, this particular day he hit the jackpot and found his pacifier.  (Maybe the site of his beloved pacifier was the motivation it took to get in that tub.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Writing on the Wall

I have been wanting to add a large chalkboard to our entry/office  area for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it.  Since it took me over a year to finish the first one I made I didn’t think this little project would be finished anytime soon.  But since Marvin had been going to the hardware store to buy supplies for the man cave, I had him pick up some wood for me. 

Calvin drew a picture of our apartment building.
It turned out exactly as I had envisioned and Calvin loves it.  I have a feeling it will be the perfect place to do school, when we need a chalkboard.  It’s so fun to see how one can of spray chalkboard paint has really rocked my world. I’m still so excited about that find, almost two years later.  Unfortunately my little can is very empty, I’m just thankful I had just enough for this project.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Ec

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to teach a few very sweet teens how to sew this bag.  Several of them it was their very first time using a sewing machine.

They were such fast learners and VERY patient.  I wish I would have snapped a picture of their bags, but by the time they finished them I had a cranky boy ready for bed.  Trust me they did a great job.  It’s fun having such great students and teaching something I love doing.

Random fact: during high school my home economics teachers highly encouraged me to consider becoming a home ec teacher.  At the time the thought of teaching high school students was not all that appealing, looking back I can see how I would have really enjoyed that career path.  I’ll add it to the list of various other professions I would have loved.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

what season is it?

I’m so glad I thought to bring my camera when I picked him up from preschool about a month ago.  I was itching to snap some pictures of the boys by the fence of his school.  I’m glad I did it when I did because the next day it started raining, and it didn’t stop for a week. I would have missed my chance to capture them surrounded by autumn.

Then on October 30th we saw our first snowflakes.  Nothing stuck.  But still snow in October, what?!?

A week later we had our first snow.  There was enough of it to play in and the next day, which just happened to be a holiday so Marvin didn’t have to work and Calvin didn’t have school, so it felt like a snow day.

Micah was pretty unimpressed, especially when the sled tipped over and he got a face full of snow.  

But not Calvin he could have stayed outside all day long if we let him.  He was also thankful for a few pals outside to play with that day too.

We shall see what this winter will bring.  Calvin will be thrilled if we have snow early this year.  I on the other hand wouldn’t mind if it waited a few more weeks.  I’m trying to rethink our routines because until everything freezes it is ridiculously tough to push our stroller through the slush and mud.  I’m dreaming of having a set of bigger wheels someday, but realistically I’ll probably just put Micah in the Ergo on my back and deal with all the stares.  But I’ll need to figure out how I’m going to carry all my groceries home without my “grocery cart” aka, the stroller.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reflections at a year

My Sweet Little Micah Man,

This year has flown by, it seems like just yesterday we were trying to learn about your likes and dislikes and today I can anticipate your curiosity and steer you in a new direction without a second thought.  You truly keep me on my toes.  You are even more active than your older brother was, which I did not think was possible, but you’ve proven me wrong.

Your smile and excitement to wake up nice and early every morning, have helped me wake up in a good mood most mornings.  I’ve cherished all our mornings together while the other boys slept.  Although I’m ready for you to start sleeping through the nights consistently, it would help me be a little more alert during our early mornings together.

Your determination astonishes me. You know what you want and don’t give up too easily.  You have a passion for stairs, and climbing anything.  This past month you mastered how to climb up and stand up on top of the little child sized table we have, in fact you were making your way to the window ledge when I caught you.  (Which is why your chairs are no longer near that table.)  Your eyes light up every time I forget to put the stepping stool away.  I’m certain you will love these mountains that surround us one day.  You equally love the tissue box, the ziplock bag box and opening and closing doors.

Some of your favorites things are:  pancakes, waffles, and bananas, The Very hungry caterpillar book, your K-State board book, going outside (in fact every morning you bring your shoes to whoever is taking your brother to school just hoping they will take you with them), you love rolling around on anything soft and have enjoyed wrestling with Calvin and Daddy, you literally try to climb into the bath tub when you hear the water going.  You enjoy playing cars and peek-a-boo.  And  you LOVE your pacifier, which we are trying to keep in your bed, but you’re a great at finding those that are MIA.

Despite the rough nights you’ve been having, you’ve napped well, which has been a blessing.  You allow me get the house picked up, work out, dinner prepped, and do some of my homework.  Thank you for those two little breaks every day.  You sometimes even request a nap.  On more than one occasion you’ve brought your sleep sack to me and then tried to put it on yourself if I was busy.

Your most recognizable word is “Mama” but you also say “Mo, mo” for more.  You continue to sign please, more and all done.  The rest you loudly vocalize what you want.  You love to give kisses and you love doing “konkey donkies”.

You melt my heart with your smile and quiet giggle.  How I wish you would giggle like that forever.  You are my solid little guy weighing 24# at a year.

You’re a blessing and I can’t imagine our family without you.

Love you sweet guy,

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

4 Calvin


I caught a glimpse of you just yesterday and suddenly you seemed older, taller, and more mature. You’ve changed so much this past year. You’ve grown in every possible way. You’re now around 38# & 102 cm tall and your hair has turned wavy.

I’ve enjoyed your creativity and you remind me so much of myself as a child, especially your determinedness to create something. I love hearing you transform your projects and find things that they need. Almost every day I hear a request for an addition to your art box due to project you are working on.

Your play is so creative; you can transform anything into what you need and use it in your dramatic play. Right now you are pounding your brother’s musical melody pusher into the crack in the couch using a turtle as your hammer. It is serving as high rise parking for Lightening McQueen.

A large chunk of your day is spent as a super hero, Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Green Lantern are usually the ones you choose. I’m amazed at how you’ve added so much life to these super heroes, because you’ve never once seen any of these shows.

You’re learning how to read and you enjoy our school time together. You love doing activities, which I love hearing you say btw. So far you know how to write your name and almost all the letters, just recently you have been very interested in writing your numbers. You love to say a few numbers and ask me what number it makes. You’re doing simple math and love doing sequences and patterns. You really love doing worksheet mazes too. I can tell we are going to have a lot of fun together in school.

What a helper you are becoming. You are very good at looking after your brother and keeping him from danger, which I’m very thankful for. You’ve really embraced being a big brother and do such a good job at loving your brother. You love to give him lots of hugs and kisses, even when he doesn’t really care for them.

You’ve really done well going to school every day. I’m so proud of you learning a new language and making friends there too. I’m not sure I could even do what you are doing now.

You love to figure things out on your own, which has now translated to even playing computer games, you’ve even mastered the touch pad, but you do ask for help when you need it. I love that sometimes the problem is already solved before I arrive. You’ve even surprised us by learning how to play a few games we thought you were years away from you learning.

It is required that all music must be LOUD and whether you are dancing or singing. I love sitting on the couch reading to you, how you could sit and read for hours. You love to retell stories and act them out, and you’re even doing this in another language.

Soccer is a favorite sport of yours right now, but love learning new ones, although you are pretty proud of mastering the drop kick. You run fast, play hard, and are fiercely competitive.

You’re becoming such a thoughtful little boy, wanting to make pictures for people, giving people presents, sharing your sweets. We’re praying that Father grips your heart and grows that passion to love others.

What a blessing it is to be your Mama. I want to bottle up your contagious laughter, your silly jokes, your wonderful bear hugs and cherish them forever. Thanks for being 4, and let’s take this year a little bit slower.

Hugs and Kisses,

Saturday, November 05, 2011


I know I've mentioned about a 1,000 times how blessed we've been by skype, but it's because we are so thankful to be able to see our family. Going lots of years in between being able to physically hug our family is tough but skype makes a big difference.

I told my mom how convenient it was for them to send a birthday box for the boys in our family this year. (Not that we planned our family this way, but it does save on postage!) All the boys loved the things we received in the mail. We had such a great laugh with the magic tricks you sent, Calvin was amazed, even when he saw how they worked. What was particularly fun this year is that we had Calvin open his presents from my parents while Skyping with them, and my sister was even able to join them; it was like candy on cake. He particularly loves his new "Go Cats" shirt; it is immediately worn after it is dry and takes some coercing to allow me to wash it.

Micah loves his new fridge toy and he just finally figured out how to get the pieces in the proper place, he's pretty proud of himself. Thank you so much, it's given him something to do other than take everything out of the drawers he's not supposed to touch in the kitchen.

We were surprised to find yet another gift while waiting on the elevator last week I spotted an envelope that looked like it was from the US, and sure enough my sister sent the boys some birthday cards. Aunt Nat I'm not sure where you found Calvin's card but he LOVED it and loves his new pirate puppet.

If we don't have enough new things around our house we of course added our presents for the boys to the mix. Since Calvin's very into dressing up in his cape, and a high percentage of his day is spent as a superhero. I made him a few new superhero capes and masks, he was thrilled and it's been fun watching him transform into a hero who rescues princesses and saves the day.

For Micah we decided our littlest man needed some wheels, hopefully it will help keep a very active boy busy during the winter months, but for now our little dare devil is primarily using it as storage for anything and everything (the seat flips up), and as a stepping stool to reach objects out of his reach. We're trying to dissuade the latter.

I'm so thankful for the ability to love our kids through a few special things. Thank you Mom and Dad, and Nat for being so thoughtful. I hope our children find as much joy in giving someday as I do.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Soup, Soup, that tasty Soup, Soup

Calvin's getting adjusted to going to school every day. He's made a few friends and he's collects pounds of feathers and buckeyes from the playground. One area we still needed to make some progress was being a little more adventurous in the food department.

So I was delighted when his teacher suggested I come and eat lunch with him. I'm so thankful Marvin's office is so close to Calvin's school, it made it very easy to drop Micah off so I could eat lunch with Calvin without any distractions.

Luckily for me I was able to be a part of their group time before lunch. I was able to snap a few pictures as well.

Then we came face to face with his fear. SOUP. Once I raved about how amazing it was he dipped a bit of his beloved bread in, and low and behold, it was tasty.

In fact he ate most of his soup and when the second course came, the meat dish, he devoured it as well. The next time he ate lunch at school he told me as he was getting dressed to go home "I ate all my lunch today so now I won't be hungry anymore." I was wondering if he was even noticing he was hungry.

I'm so proud of him.

Now for something indirectly related, one of his classmates set the bar pretty high on their birthday and brought all the kids a bag full of goodies. So Calvin and I created a few robots for his classmates, apparently the kids were able to enjoy them as a little snack that day. It's always so hard to figure out what is cultural expected. I know for sure that all the vendors at the market where I bought candy from thought I was crazy, but a few thought it was clever.  I'm going with clever, rather than crazy.

I'm so thankful for a great class and for a few friends for Calvin.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

My Hungry Little Caterpillar {the party}

Since you only turn one once, I convinced Marvin that Micah needed his own party. More work I know, but he's worth celebrating. I kept it simple, in fact I couldn't find some of the decorations the morning of his party and I tried to not be disappointed about that. (I found them the next day.)

I choose the Hungry Little Caterpillar theme, because it's Micah's favorite book. He loves it and it's the book he always pulls off the shelf, plops down and flips through. He loves all those little holes and pages that flip so easily.

We had our usually Sunday get together so a few others added to our meal, which was such a blessing.

Our menu consisted of:
Chicken Salad Sandwiches and a few PBJs for the kids.
Sliced Veggies
Watermelon, Apples, Oranges, Plums

I'm sure all of you parents of small children can recognize which parts of our menu are from the book.

Of course we had cake. 1 big cake.
Thanks mom for the funfetti mix, it was perfect for this and the M&Ms the blue ones added a lot to this cake, also all the kids were very excited about eating candy with CAKE.

And a smash cake.

I only printed a couple dot to dot activity pages for the kids, in the spirit of going low key.

We brought out the cake, and someone was instantly interested.

We started singing, which really threw him off, but after the candle was out, boy was he excited.

He explored it a bit.

Then he discovered the delightfulness of sugar.

He dug in, but stuck mostly to the frosting.

We quickly ran a bath and removed the green caterpillar before it was tossed from his tray.

Our friends were so sweet to love Micah with a few presents. He's loving have a few new toys to the mix.

Lastly we handed out Micah's party favors, much to Calvin's delight.

I can't believe our little Caterpillar is ONE.
It's such a blessing to love on this little man.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Traveling Gnomes

What fun family memories we created recently. We took part in not only one, but two fall parties this year.  
After a quick pinterest search on Friday evening, we found the perfect costumes, Gnomes. Perfect for a landscape designer!

Here are our little traveling gnomes. It was a pretty easy costume. I made Micah's shirt and both of the boys hats using this tutorial, and a couple of belts, Calvin's not wearing his in this picture, and voila some adorable gnome costumes.

***A small side note of thanks to my mom for bringing me some felt this spring. I could not have made these beards without it. Just one of the many uses I'm finding with the stack of felt you brought. THANK YOU!

Calvin wasn't so sure what to think of all the games, he was very quietly observing and semi participating in them, but he helped his team pull out the victory in an eating competition. He can dominate a cookie, that's for sure!

I'm so thankful for friends who love to help us create fabulous memories our kids will remember forever. I can't wait until next year, who knows what we will come up with.