Boo Boo Drive 2009

Today Olivia is 24 weeks old...which is exactly how old Elizabeth was the day we met. Seems like yesterday...she was so tiny!


But it wasn't yesterday...in fact on November 1st, EJ will have been home for two years! Last year we decided to spend part of our Family Day giving back to Guatemala and, of course, asked for your help. And, as usual, everyone was SO generous and made our drive a great success!

Well, another year...another plea for help! And this year there are even more ways to help the cause.
1) Iron Cupcake: Milwaukee is hosting the Literary Challenge on Monday, October 19th. Always a super fun time and in addition to all the goodies your $5 admission brings you, Iron Cupcake has generously agreed to donate $1 from each admission to the Boo Boo Drive! Yay! Please go, have fun, support a great cause, and taste yummy cupcake creations!


2) Donate supplies! We are collecting band-aids of all shapes & sizes, neosporin (or any triple antibiotic cream) and ace bandages (2" width). Drop them off, mail them or we'll gladly pick them up too...just shoot me an email or leave a comment to set something up!


3) If you'd like us to do the shopping for you (my kids love wielding a calculator & searching for good deals) or just live far away, you can make a monetary donation. You can send a check or make a donation via paypal with a credit card (our account is whatsyourdamage@mac.com).

Please help us any way you are able! We'll sort, count and box everything we have collected & purchased on November 1st as a family project. All donations will then be taken to Common Hope who will ship the items to Guatemala for use in their health care work with Guatemalan families.

Thank you!

Truth in advertising

So today I found these 100 calorie muffin packs and thought they might be a fun "treat" to mix things up for Jack for his morning snack time at school (what I think about them having a morning snack time is a whole 'nother post). Anyway, they looked yummy, I grabbed them...didn't really think too much more about it.

Here's the box (note that the only note says new smaller box, but still 8 packs)


So tonight I thought I would taste-test them for Jack (wouldn't want to send him with a terrible snack). Well, guess what? See the picture on the box with the 2 muffins flying out of the bag? Yep, you guessed it...There are TWO muffins in a huge bag!

I shot this with my phone, so there can't be too much camera "trickery" going on...big huge bag & 2 tiny muffins! I got robbed!!! :-(

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Today is my Grandma's 93rd birthday, but this year she isn't with us to celebrate! I miss her SO much...and I know the rest of our family does too. Her favorite color is yellow (just like Jack so he would always choose it for her), so thought I'd "give her" this photo...after all, this is one of her lilies (blooming in my yard).


And this is my beautiful Grandma...I know words can't do her justice, but I did want to share a little about who she was...to me at least! And of course a few pictures too...


This is my Grandma & Grandpa at their Milwaukee house (it may be after my Mom's wedding actually)...most of my memories are from the house "up North" though.

My Grandma always had these cookies in the cookie jar waiting for me, she would always buy me these suckers (for a nickel) when we were out shopping, and she would ring a cowbell (literally) to let me know it was time for supper if I was playing down the street. She taught me & my brother how to play cards very early in life and then spent many hours winning the money she had lent us for the games back. She took long walks with me, let me pretend her bed was a sleigh, and would listen to me sing songs for hours (no matter how annoying or repetitive they were).

She hated having her picture taken, so a good ploy was to try to get her with my kids...she'd at least look in my direction that way! She may have been just a little smitten with my children (and they with her too)! Here is Jack (at age 1) attacking her (on her birthday)...I believe she may have told me to mind my own business when I told him to be gentle! :-)


And this was the day she met EJ...I hadn't been sure how my Grandma felt about our adoption until this day...I never questioned it again. These two had a very special relationship & spent many days sharing snacks side-by-side in this chair.


My Grandma always told it as she saw it...(I know my brother is smiling at that if he's reading this)...She cracked me up! Like for example, she hated when my kids wore stripes ("that's all they ever wear") and she wasn't always a fan of the names I gave them either. And she would make silly faces at me sometimes when other people were talking...I thought it was our little secret. But later, I caught her making those same faces at my kids. :-)

Oh and I did I mention that she cracked me up?


Jack & Grandma "shared" a birthday...well, almost! Grandma told me when Jack was born that it was better that they were a day apart as that way they each had their own day. However, I think both of them LOVED the fact that we celebrated their birthday together each year.

Here they are last year...


And with their number candles...



My Grandma loved living up North...she watched the birds and planted a crazy, huge garden each year! I am SO not a fan of birds and "brown thumb" might be too nice of a description for me. My Mom gave me some of Grandma's iris & lillies though (she says even I can manage them) and I love them. I think of her every time I see them...

I know I was blessed with an amazing woman for a Grandma...I am grateful that I not only knew her, but knew her into adulthood...I am so thankful that my children had such a special relationship with her...and I smile every time I look at Olivia and see one of Grandma's "silly faces" (I wonder if she likes Olivia's name? probably not the Finn part right?).

Happy Birthday Grandma! I love you...

55 days of summer wrap-up

So summer is long over and I think our daily projects were a success! Jack said his favorite thing about summer were our projects and EJ still asks to do one each day! And as I sat back, so pleased with myself for this great plan, I realized...I'm going to have to do this again next summer aren't I? Yikes! Guess I better start dreaming up fresh ideas (or a new plan) soon...especially because I'll have a toddler next summer!

Hope you enjoyed the project ideas...I'm sure I'll still be posting crafts, recipes, special things we do throughout the fall, winter, spring, as Jack is the master of starting projects and I've always got a few crafts (that I'm not getting too) going. I've got a list of little person projects waiting Miss EJ too...we just need some colder weather before I bust them out!

Oh and did anyone notice that we missed 1 day of the 55? Day 25 was never completed...sure we did extra projects that could have replaced what I had planned, but I made the mistake of telling Jack the planned project that day. So because we never made birdseed cookies, I was forced to keep that day blank!

Day Fifty-Five: Junk Food Sushi



Our last day had to be a sugary fun treat day right? I found this super fun, super easy project posted at the beginning of August and started collecting our supplies. But that's where the trouble was...green apple fruit roll-ups? Not as easy to find as you might think! In fact, impossible to find in my city! I was just about to give up hope, when Matt had a brilliant idea and Googled "make your own fruit roll-ups"...he is a wise man!

We short-cutted it a bit, but basically you grease a jelly roll pan, add green apple applesauce, and put in a 200 degree oven for about 8 hours. Ours didn't come out exactly the shade of green we would have liked, but it definitely got the job done!

So, here are our supplies on project day...the easy prep work is cutting the twinkies in thirds, the roll-ups in strips the size of the twinkies & the gummy worms in half.


Then you assemble...so easy a 2-year-old can go it alone!


Our work zone


Dad's not home, everyone is working & the baby wants in on the action or she's going to scream? Then just put her on the table!


All ready for dessert! (everyone is in pjs as this was a post-bath, post-dinner project)


And just as an fyi to all, these taste TERRIBLE! The flavors are truly not meant to go together! So, we assembled and then took the pieces apart to enjoy them. Even EJ wouldn't eat them together...and she eats anything!

Day Fifty-Four: Bowling

Sunday afternoon we're out running errands when it hits me...why not take advantage of Dad being home and FINALLY use the Kids Bowl Free coupons I've been getting all summer but never taken advantage of? I never thought I could handle it alone (with the baby & big kids) and it was the second to last day to use the coupons! Best idea I've had in some time!

I did only have my iphone with me, so bear (or is it bare) with the pics! Of course when you decide to do something spontaneously, you have to take a fun pic to put on twitter, right? (EJ was too little for actual bowling shoes!)


Posing before we get started (and these were post-church, comfy, errand-running outfits...no judgments please!) :-)


Jack gearing up (he has only been bowling once before...I think 2 years ago)...


EJ going on her own (she was a first-timer of course)...this was her only time going it alone though as her ball stopped halfway down the lane!


Jack gets a strike!


Yes, this is a photo of the scoreboard...why? Because Jack said to me (or actually shouted loudly), "Look Mommy, we both have the score that is your age...37!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


Matt's game winning approach...it always cracks me up that he doesn't fall over!


And the best part of the day...Jack's friend Maya (and her mom & dad) stopped in to check the place out as a possible birthday party location (it was a go), so Maya hung out with us while they did the paperwork. Here are the kiddos having a dance party (hence the blurry photo) to some 80s hair band song (yes, EJ thinks she's break-dancing again).


It was an awesome family afternoon and a nice summer wrap-up as it was something we hadn't done before. And I swear Liv was with us...one of us was holding her most of the time and the only photo I took (of her & EJ sitting in the chairs) is too blurry to share!

Liv's standing...

Having seen this...


...and this...


...none of us should really be surprised by this!


And yes that is the same couch and same foam floor blocks in each photo...perhaps it's time for an upgrade?

Food Pantry Shopping Trip

During Lent this year, our church gave the Sunday school kids a take-out box and a calendar. Each day they were to put money in for something we owned. For example, one day we put in a nickel for every window in our house and another day we had to pay 75 cents for each smartphone in the house (that one hurt Dad who was juggling two jobs and therefore, two Blackberrys at the time). On Easter, we returned the box full of the money we had collected and our church donated it to Habitat for Humanity.

Anyway, Jack & EJ loved it and had a really good time counting up both the objects and what we owed (it was really good to work on coin values & math with Jack too). Matt decided he could take the concept and change it a bit so we could do it again. So for the month of August, we put money in a jar for the food we ate each day. Matt built and elaborate price chart off our kids' typical diet (10 cents for milk, 5 cents for a banana, 50 cents for cookies) and we'd add up each day at dinner. If we missed a day, we owed $2. And again...our kids loved doing it and would remind us if we forgot too.

So on September 5th (it was the first week of school, we had to wait for Saturday!), we counted up the money we collected. The kids started out working together...


...but in the end, Jack got serious and EJ did an interpretive dance! We had $43.30! So we grabbed the money & the food pantry needs list (got dressed) and headed to the store.


The kids helped us shop. EJ found the items we needed on the list and helped load the cart. And Jack carried his gigantic calculator around (I found that thing for like 10 cents at Goodwill, but they love it) and subtracted the cost of what we were picking up to make sure we were within budget.

In the end we were able to purchase all of this! And while I was the one who wanted to take this photo (of course) they were SO excited! And each of them insisted on carrying a bag of the food into church the next day too (we donated through our church's monthly food drive for United Methodist Children's Services seeing as they gave us the great idea). Good work Daddy!

Day Fifty-Three: Playground & Picnic with JK friends

I cannot take credit for this day...a mom friend organized a group outing to Jacobus Park for some playground time and a picnic lunch. Our Junior Kindergarten group was being split between 3 different Senior Kindergarten rooms, so it was nice to have one final summer get-together before the transition. We had such a good time (kids & moms alike) so I didn't really take many photos (too busy talking) but I did snap one of EJ on the playground...I had to!


Because I remembered that I had this photo of someone else on the same toy! Our first house was literally about 3 blocks from this playground! We moved to our current house when Jack was about 15 months old, so my guess is he's about 10 months old here (and yes this pic is definitely after a haircut...I should post the ones before this haircut, he was shaggy!). Anyway, I just thought it was cool to be back there!


And I thought I'd throw this pic in there too...he's so serious!!

Day Fifty-Two: Cool Waters Splash Pad

The last week of summer brought a few adventures that we had thought about doing all summer, but never did. In each case, we kicked ourselves for waiting so long and losing the chance to be able to go again!

First up on this list...Cool Waters, a water park in our County Parks system. I'd never been there, but heard it was usually really crowded. I always assumed it was just for older kids and had big slides (hence the crowds). No photos on the web sites I found to prove otherwise, so I never checked it out.

I was very wrong...the majority of the water park is zero-depth. And they even have a couple slides where the kids come off and are up to their waist, so it's pretty easy for them to be independent. Of course we went with friends which I would recommend with different age groups of kids, so you have buddies & more than one adult to watch them.

Oh and it was not that crowded, especially for a hot day on the last week of vacation! But really...don't go there next year okay...it was terrible...definitely not worth your time! :-)

Some iphone pics for you...








Day Fifty-One: Turtle Candy & Popsicles

The Bible study gals lucked out again (although there were plenty of yummy treats there) when I realized that "making" popsicles wasn't much of a project! So Jack and I made these faux turtles...easy! The process is very similar to the kiss inside the round pretzel with the M&M on top you see at Christmas, so actually really super easy!

First you talk a gullible kid into unwrapping a bag of Rolos and placing them on a tray of waffle pretzels. Then you put the tray in a 200 degree oven for about 10 minutes.


Take them out and smush them down with a pecan (we used extra yummy candied pecans because that's how we roll). Let them cool and get ready to gain a lot of weight because they are truly addicting!


Then we made the popsicles by pouring lemonade into the molds I bought in the dollar bins at Target. Again, super easy...


Until we attempted to un-mold them a couple days later and just pulled sticks out of an entire tray. Matt was finally able to pry two out for the kids to enjoy. Guess you get what you pay for! I love EJ's face in this one!

Thank you for donating!


The final totals were outstanding and we couldn't be more thrilled! Thank you for making a difference in the education of children in Guatemala.

LAAF-WI collected the following...
drive items:
333 red pens
851 blue pens
745 black pens
1319 pencils
141 colored pencil sets
222 erasers
122 pencil sharpeners
70 watercolor sets
133 scissors
288 rulers
94 protractors
50 compasses
82 calculators

extras:
39 crayon sets
30 glue sticks
5 glue bottles
185 pencil cap erasers
12 folders
8 marker sets
1 tube of kids toothpaste

The donations I collected from all of you were a huge part of these totals...thank you for caring about my daughter, her birth country, and these children! Info on our annual family drive is coming very soon...

Gorgeous photo shoot

Okay, so I'm a little behind, but about a month ago the fabulous Auntie Tracie took some awesome 3/4 month photos of Olivia. Of course we ended up having some great shots of the rest of my monkeys too, including my new favorite...this gorgeous pic of me with my babies!

milwaukee family photographer



You can see more from the shoot here at Tracie's blog...or just stop by our house. I may have one or two or about 50 hanging around! Thank you T!

Last days to donate


Photo courtesy of Common Hope.

Friday is the last day to turn in your school supply donations if you have them. We appreciate all the donations so far and would be very grateful for more if you have them! Click here to see the full scoop and also the list of what we are collecting. Thank you!!!