Videos to crack you up!

So yesterday, I figured out how to get videos to work on my Mac (you know a year after I started trying to get them to work) and I also figured out the crazy hard password Matt put on YouTube that I never wrote down. What does this mean for you? Yep, you get to be annoyed with my home videos!! Aren't you excited? So here are each of my babies laughing away at their silly parents!

Livie after a little too much sugar last week...


EJ when we visited her (I know she thought we were nuts!)...


And Jackie way back in the day (this is even at our old house)...


Bored yet...if you're not, I've got many more (some even with singing & dancing) for you to check out here!

Day Twenty-Eight: Super Readers

Today was another morning trip back to our downtown library. Jack completed all 5 levels of the Super Reader program, so he is finished. And EJ completed level 3 today, so she got her yard sign prize (Jack has had his, but made us keep it in the garage until he was completely finished with the program). It's such a great program and has really encouraged the kids to not only remember to take time during the summer to read, but also really makes them proud of their reading and the time spent reading.

So here are my big kids posing with their signs:


And here they are last August (I couldn't resist!):

Day Twenty-Seven: Sun Painting

The weather has ust not been cooperating with my outdoor project plans. So our VERY sunny morning turned cloudy and then rainy by about 3pm. Even so, our sun "paintings" turned out pretty well. Basically you take a piece of construction paper and find some objects to place on top...keep in the full sun and after a day remove you objects to see your painting. I think with fuller sun all day items like the badminton rackets & slinky would have looked much cooler, but the kids still got the general idea.

EJ's in progress...


And finished...



And finished...

Day Twenty-Six: Sidewalk Chalk Fun

Monday arrived and we were happy to be home after a busy weekend and also, happy to see the sun out and warm temperatures for the first time in ages! I had some planting to do and Olivia was sleeping in, so why not do an outdoor project. Bring out the sidewalk chalk!!!

Our first project was to do self-portraits...I did a quick outline of each of the big kids shadows and then they got to work. They took their work VERY seriously!!!


Jack's final portrait:


EJ's final portrait:


Then baby sis decided to join in the fun...


When I came out with Olivia, I also found this gigantic shark drawing Jack & EJ decided to create together...it was huge!!!


Water break - Did I mention it was hot?


Our other project was to trace their shadows every couple hours to see how they changed. They were really enjoying this project and I was so excited that I was actually teaching them something kind of science-related (I was an art history major after all) and then I realized I screwed up. By setting them up right next to the garage, I chose a great spot for the morning and a spot in complete shadow for the afternoon. Honestly!!! So, we may repeat this another time to see if we can do it for the entire day! :-)

This is Jack's shadow at 9, 10:45 & 12


And EJ's at 9, 10:45, 12 & 1:30

Prayer Pail repost

I'm not sure exactly how to repost something in it's entirety from another blog, so I'm basically going to treat it like a Twitter retweet! :-) Anyway, I saw this great blog post on Lu Bird Baby about creating a prayer pail to use with your children and I think it's such a great idea (and easily adaptable to use what you have on hand too) that I wanted to repost it. When I finally get our things in order and make our own (probably Fall will be here), I'll post again too!

Here is what Kristin had to say:
Aaron and I try to be intentional about living out our faith for Mackenzie to see so we can teach her to know and love the Lord and live her life for Him. Lately I have been brainstorming some new, fun ways to implement spiritual disciplines and truths into our day.
And I came up with the Prayer Pail.



The plan is to let each of our kids pick one (or a couple) sticks out of the prayer pail while we are at the dinner table and then let them pray for whatever or whoever is on the stick.

Hopefully it will work out well!

Want to make your own prayer pail?



All you need is:
-large craft sticks
-a bucket (or you can use an empty tin can, flower pot, mason jar...whatever really)
-scrap paper
-markers
-stickers
-scissors
-double sided tape
-ribbon



Step 1: Cut out a strip of card stock, add the words "Prayer Pail" with stickers or a pen, and attach to the front of your bucket with double sided tape. Feel free to decorate the back as well with some stickers, verses on prayer or anything else you would like!



Step 2: Write the names of friends, family and any other people or things you want to be praying for on the craft sticks and place in your bucket.

Some of the ideas I added:
-The names of Friends and Family
-The Lost (People who don't know Jesus)
-Missionaries we know
-Our Church
-Our Neighbors
-Our City
-Thank Him!
-Praise Him!
-You Choose (they can pick anything they want to pray about)



Click here for the full post at it's original location on Kristin's blog!

Some Favorite Things

I realized lately that in addition to email, blogging, twitter, facebook, and searching for obscure products, I've been using a couple cool things on my computer & phone that I thought I might share!



1) This is totally my idea...I'm just saying...ask Matt if you don't believe me!! Seriously though, I have always used the wish list feature on Amazon for gift idea lists for the kids. You see something they might like, add it to the list. Then you aren't strapped for ideas when someone asks for them. But...it always drove me nuts that the item had to be available on Amazon itself. What if Jack needs jeans or I want to add a learning toy for EJ? Why can't you just have a button that would add an item from anywhere on the web to your list? Well, now you can...click here to add one yourself!!



2) Lose It! is a free iPhone app that I downloaded while still preggo, told me friends about & then completely forgot about until 2 days ago...ooops!! I've only been using it a few days, but it helps you track the food you eat and keeps a running calorie count (really keeps me honest), tracks calories lost through exercise (and has a pretty extensive list of "exercise" to choose from), and allows you to enter in your goals (weight loss or maintenance) and then calculates how many calories you should aim for each day.



Very simple to use & keep up with. Quickly becoming a new fav...right up there with tipulator & urban spoon.



3) Okay, this one is not technically on my computer (well the itunes part is a guess), but I am loving my ipod shuffle. I know it's not the newest version, but I think I love it more than I would like the new version. It clips on to my shorts, so I don't have to hold it while I run and it holds a ton of music. And best of all, it shuffles the music up (hence the name) so I don't always have the exact same running mix, so I don't get bored!! LOVE it!! Load it up with a bunch of crazy, cheesy music & you have the perfect workout helper/motivator! (and you can have the back engraved with INXS lyrics too...allegedly...I'm not admitting to anything!)

Day 24: Bird Feeder Painting

A simple, simple craft day of finally taking advantage of a craft kit Grandma got Jack for Christmas (yep, I def. save these things up). So Jack headed outside during nap to paint his own birdfeeder. I finished feeding Miss O & headed out to take his pic...and couldn't find him!!! PANIC!!!!! I've been trying to be a less overprotective Mom lately as I know Jack knows the rules, but I'm always worried about stranger danger! Can't help myself!!! Anyway, I looked in the driveway, the backyard, the front yard, glanced across the street in case some of the neighbor kids were home...nothing! Then the yelling started...and I hear this voice saying "what?" from the front yard. Honestly, I still didn't see him. And then...I see him tucked away up on the front stoop painting away quietly...I have never been so relieved to see Jack concentrating hard at work!

School Supply Drive for Guatemalan Kiddos



So it's back-to-school shopping time (I know...already?) and I'd like to ask a big favor of you! Would you mind picking up a little something extra for our donation drive??? I'm heading a school supply drive for our adoptive families group benefiting Common Hope (who will send the items on to Guatemala for us). This is a great organization that we did a drive for last summer (remember when I was begging for toothpaste last year?) & I was so overwhelmed with everyone's generosity that I thought I would ask again (check out my tiny little girl last August)!


We are collecting new:
Pens (blue, black, red)
Pencils
Colored pencils (12 pack)
Erasers
Pencil Sharpeners
Watercolors

And also collecting new or gently used:
Scissors
Rulers
Protractors
Compasses
Calculators

I'm more than happy to pick donations up from you & I'm also more than willing to do the shopping for you if you'd rather make a cash donation and skip the store lines! I need all donations by Friday, September 11th.

This is such a great opportunity to teach your children about helping other children. School is free in Guatemala but the prices of uniforms & school supplies make schooling attainable for most families. This is a situation where donations of any amount make all the difference.

Also, if you see a great sale or door buster item, would you mind leaving me a comment about it? Any sales I can pass on to our group will help us stretch our donations even further!

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Day Twenty-Three: Birds at the Zoo

It was another nighttime activity today (soccer camp is really eating up our days)...we headed to the zoo with our Subway dinner and then checked out the birds during the Sunset Zoofari. I have to just pause here and say how much I really don't like birds. Like seriously, they almost freak me out (which is really weird because my Mom & Grandma have had birds for a LONG time so I've always been around them) so I NEVER go into the bird house at the zoo! NEVER! Jack knows that he is only going in there if Daddy takes them, so he thought it was hysterical that I had to go in there. I was not happy but I did it for them (twice actually because there are no bathrooms in there & both big kids had an emergency). The usual occurred...it smelled, birds swooped too close for comfort, and I swore we were going to get pooped on...but the kids had a super fun time & we read/learned a lot from the exhibits. Best of all, I got to see the penguins (because I really do LOVE them)!!!

We didn't make it to the special exhibit, Wings From Down Under, that night. But I'm sure they'll drag me back soon!

Day Twenty-Two: Birdfeeder Pine Cones & Strings

This was a split project with Jack doing one part and EJ the other. Jack took are of the bird feeder pine cones (beginning with "borrowing" them from our neighbors yard)...carefully spreading peanut butter on them and then rolling them in the seed.


I taped yarn to the pinecones (one on each end) and we hung them over the tree limb in the front yard. We've had some issues with the "naughty squirrels" (as EJ calls them) before (they stole a bagel feeder Jack made in school), but this was crazy. I hung up the two strings, went inside to get the kids and my camera, and when we came out we caught them in the act!

Here is EJ pointing to 3 of the 4 feeders on the ground (they made off with the 4th the next morning). Jack found the pine cones (sucked clean of PB) in the morning in the backyard too!


After that, we headed off to t-ball...the day was a bit crazy, so EJ did her project there. Very simple (and in hindsight I was extremely glad the day was busy as this kept EJ busy during the game) stringing of Cheerios & Apple Jacks on to yarn. I tied a knot in one end so the cereal would stay and wrapped a small piece of masking tape around the other to serve as a needle.

EJ showing off the cereal (surprisingly little was eaten):


Working diligently on her project


Thought I'd throw in a pic of Jack waiting on 1st base...he takes this game very seriously (and yes, he did talk Daddy into batting gloves for t-ball)!

A Little Something for Lisa

While not the only one, Lisa LOVES to ask me about Miss Olivia (usually before she even says hi to me). I think given the opportunity, she would grab hold of my baby girl and never give her back too! :-) So today I snapped some pics of Liv in this super cute dress Lisa gave her before we headed off to her check-up. I even managed to get one catching her awesome smile (sadly, it is also out of focus, but I'm sharing it anyway)!


{Hi everyone! Mommy finally decided to put a pic of me on this blog...the big kids get all of the attention here darn it!}

Thanks again for the dress Lisa (and for all the kind words about how cute my kiddos are too)! Unfortunately, my suspicion that 3-6 month old clothes weren't going to last too much longer was confirmed today...Olivia's weight is in the 97th percentile!!! EJ's cute hand-me-downs here we come! :-)

Day Twenty-One: Nature Bracelets

Jack started soccer camp this week and while it is awesome, I'd be lying if I said it hasn't thrown us off A TON! For one, Jack is exhausted when he is done and also, our schedule is completely out of whack! So...I decided to make this week "bird week" as most of the ideas I had for that were small and adaptable to a crazy week (both daytime & evening).

So Monday after nap we started the week off by reading some books about birds. I kind of say that loosely as they were basically some of the books from our last library trip that might have something (anything) to do with birds or outside. Here they are:

Flip, Flap, Fly!, I Face the Wind, Boo Hoo Bird, Oh Say Can You Seed?, The Apple Pie Tree, Riki's Birdhouse

Then after reading, we had a big talk about how birds are collectors...for their food, for things to build their nests, etc. Then Mom had to run (oops), so Dad took over & after dinner, they went on a walk to collect cool things they found outside and make nature bracelets. Basically we took a wide piece of masking tape and wrapped it around their wrists inside-out. This created the perfect sticky base to attach anything they wanted...and they found lots of cool things!

Ej modeling her bracelet...


and Jack with his...


After that, Dad cut them off their wrists so that they would now have a piece of art.


And believe me...they think these things are SO cool! When they woke up the next morning, they dragged me to the kitchen to show me each thing they had found and told me all about where it came from too! Definitely an easy, fun project.

Movie Baby Gift

Well...you say nice things about my gift giving and what do I post about next? Yep, another baby gift idea! The movie baby gift theme is one I did twice this Spring, because when you find a funny baby tee packaged THIS cute,you have to run with it!!


Baby Fish Mouth (seriously an 80s reference too? I love this shop) specializes in baby onesies & tees featuring re-worked movie quotes. Super cute! And Danielle was such a big help to me...in contact immediately when something was out of stock, helping me get just the right thing in time for a baby shower & sending me a coupon code too...love her!

Anyway, we gave "He made me a bottle I couldn't refuse" and "This cry goes to eleven," but my all-time favorite is this...


So, what went with these cute tees to round out our theme? Well, I thought it would be helpful to clue them in on how movie nights were going to change for them, so we also gave them...

Movie snacks:


A new DVD:


Of course a blanket to snuggle under (for the baby, not mom & dad) too.

And...a little something for mom & dad too (we did a Blockbuster GC, but I've done netflix before too & I dream of the day that Redbox comes out with a GC of some sort!!)

This was another gift I gave for new baby boys (I tend to be more creative & less cutesy with boy babies I guess), but I also think this is a fun one for first-time parents & of course movie-loving parents!

Oh and 3 gold stars to anyone who can name all the movie references (including Baby Fish Mouth)!!! :-)

Rocker Baby Gift

Okay, so I really love to give gifts...like REALLY LOVE to give gifts!! But lately, I don't know what is going on, but I don't have my usual gift giving mojo! It's sad, but I'm trying to bounce back...slowly but surely!

Matt's friend Jeni recently had a baby, cute Mr. Micah. And since Jeni helps Matt out at work (a lot!), I wanted to do something nice for them. However I don't know Jeni very well and wasn't sure where to go with a "theme" especially for a boy baby (my mind was stuck on girls for some reason). Finally, I was inspired to go with an urban, hipster, rocker vibe and I put the following gift together...

1. My Mom's the Bomb onesie from The Bomb Mom
2. Rocker Babies Wear Jeans board book (and no that isn't the book...it comes out in September, but was too perfect to not include, so Jeni will be getting it late!)
3. "MICAH" framed photo collage (I took images from flickr to create the image, frame from Target)
4. Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Green Day
5. Tattoos for Babies

I hope she likes it (shhh, don't tell her...Matt hasn't delivered it yet)!!


P.S. A big thank you to No Biggie for this tutorial on making your blog images bigger...easy to do too! YAY!

Day Twenty: Playdate at our house

We had another playdate/indoor picnic with our JK friends Owen & Dane, their sisters Abbie & Sydney, and their super cool mommies too! Why does the weather always have to be yucky on our days together? Anyway, we had a blast hanging out...the mommies catching up, the boys running around in circles on the first floor and playing hide-and-seek on the second, and the girls trying desperately to be involved but not trampled! It was nice to see everyone again & super convenient to host too (especially because we were headed out of town on Saturday & the less packing I had to do, the better)!!

However, I took NO PHOTOS! What was I thinking? So instead, I'll leave you with some cute/silly pics of EJ I took while waiting to pick up Jack (EJ wanted to make Auntie Tracie smile...this girl cracks me up!).


Day Nineteen: Children's Museum & Fountains

Another day without a clue what to do...what is going on with me? It was a gorgeous day, so I wanted to be outside, but we've had limited time between Spanish class & lunch/nap plus I'm a little shy of the sun since the baby's face sunburn a few weeks ago!

So after picking up Jack, we headed downtown. My mom had told me that the circus wagons were at the lakefront and I thought we could walk around and check them out. Well...about halfway there EJ announces she has to go potty. Then Jack says the same. Then Liv decides to let me know that she needs a bottle now!!! I needed to head somewhere I already knew the lay of the land, so I could find bathrooms right away and feed Liv while the kids played. We have an awesome children's museum (where we are members and spend a TON of time already) that has been sending me all kinds of info about these outdoor garden spaces they have for kids to come check out this summer, so away we went!

Well the gardens...not so much! They are nice spaces (pretty with tables, etc) and they would make a lovely place to have a picnic lunch while you are at the museum, but a play space they are not! The kids played with their usual favorites while I got the baby fed and had a great time, but after an hour it was getting to be lunchtime. We tried to meet up with Dad for lunch, but he was at a meeting in another city, so we were back to square one again. Everyone was anxious and a little crabby...and I had promised outside time, so I kind of deserved the backlash. I decided to get outside and see something fun...whatever that might be...so we headed out...

And then EJ spotted this and we headed straight for the bridge to check it out (from the outside this time).


Then from the bridge the big kids spotted the awesome fountains below, so we headed down to take a closer look...


I think they could have stood staring at this one all day...perhaps a trip here is in order? (i'm much the same when standing there)


After that little side trip everyone was back on track and happy again. They even let me take them home for lunch instead of out to a restaurant as promised! EJ told me she had "a fun time" on the way home too.

Thursday night is EJ & Matt's swimming class and usually we scarf down dinner beforehand, but seeing as we had a late lunch, I decided to do something a little different for dinner...

They were pretty happy with my idea!

Day Eighteen: Animal Sewing Cards

Today was a big change of plans! :-( We were supposed to head over to Auntie Tracie's for some swimming with our favorite girls, but...Jack woke up sick! Really sick...like head to the doctor this afternoon while Daddy watched the girls sick! Big Yuck! In the end, I think he has been doing much better tonight and the doctor thinks it was something viral that should clear up on it's own.

At any rate, no Spanish, no fun with friends...we needed a new plan for the day. So, this morning we watched Happy Feet. We had seen a tiny bit the other day on Disney & EJ went crazy dancing, so I thought it might be a hit and popped in the DVD. EJ did not last as long as I had thought she would, but she danced away every song! Very cute!!

Our other quiet project for the day (after doctor & EJ's nap) was animal sewing cards. I had been saving this link for the project & pdfs for awhile now, so I printed, cut, and hole punched during the movie so they would be all set for later! I ended up just using white paper, but would probably use color if I did them again. In hindsight I should have gotten all the prep work done in advance and had them all set to go for a day like today, but... So, this is what the cards looked like all cut out and ready for kids...


EJ had a blast working on them...I showed her how to thread the yarn through & pull it to the other side, but gave her no other instructions. She had yarn criss-crossing and had a blast asking me to look every 2 minutes (which worked out well as I was giving Liv a bottle right next to her). I think these will come in handy when I need EJ to sit in one place for awhile (but I don't think they will guarantee quiet time).






Jack liked them too (and of course was super meticulous with them), but was in no mood to be photographed. I was worried that they would either be too hard for EJ or too boring for Jack, but they seemed to be a hit all around! They would make a nice gift set too...can't get any easier than having the pdf all set up for you either! :-)