Friday, September 25, 2009

This Week in Pictures

Paul and Benjamin went to the Stake Father's and Sons Campout this year. Here they are enjoying a spaghetti dinner.
Paul: Do you have room in your heart for the 5 string Banjo? Here's us playing a few fiddle tunes...or was it Grandma's Feather Bed?
I call this one, "No, I don't want to go home. I want to stay here" which is what Benjamin said right before he pretended to fall back asleep so we couldn't take down the tent. Since the campout he's been praying every night that we'll go camping again.
Benjamin's favorite part was the morning campfire.
Peter has had terrible teething pains this past week. He finally cut his top two teeth, and his canines keep threatening to make an appearance. So now he has four teeth. This is his typical frustrated face- he snarls really loud through his scruched nose.
It's crazy how it's still hot outside, but there are already enough leaves in our backyard for a decent leaf pile.
I found a nine-week-long preschool program held once a week at our local children's museum. Parents go with their children for the first few weeks to help ease the transition. Benjamin loves it, and I love how low-commitment it is. Here's his first day of school shot...he didn't want to pose.
They learned about colors on their first day, so Benjamin got to paint and play at a bunch of the other color-themed stations.
Benjamin has a few obsessions these days: blue mailboxes, monsters, and killing monsters. A few weeks ago, I casually told him about the "Gunny Monster," who comes and eats all the children's toys, clothes and books that are on the floor after they go to bed. Although the Gunny Monster has yet to actually strike at our house, Benjamin really latched on to this idea and devises all sorts of plans to outsmart the Gunny Monster. He even drew this green monster on the shower wall the other day so he could beat it to death with his bat.
And this is probably the biggest daily harvest of raspberries we've had so far this year. These grew on the transplants that came from the very yard I grew up in. So thanks again, Mom and Dad! Hopefully they'll do a little better next year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This and That

Well we've been without "O.C." for about a week now, and it almost feels like there's a void in our family. Almost. We took him back to his owner last Thursday, and Benjamin has been asking when he'll come back ever since. While I don't miss the smell of cat food, or the random vomit he'd leave on our floor, or Peter crawling after the cat food and vomit, or the fur that he left everywhere, O.C. did turn out to be a nice cat. He spent his nights outside (and most days), hardly used his litter box (because he was outside all the time) and he put up with a lot from the boys.
A lot. (Luckily he was declawed!)
That being said, I don't think we'll be getting a pet anytime soon. I did notice that Benjamin and Peter became better friends during those two weeks though, and I wondered if it was because they found a common target to gang up on. They're still pretty good with each other, so I'm hoping having O.C. around was a turning point in their relationship. Benjamin will make more comments these days about how Peter is growing up to be a Benjamin (I guess that means a "big boy").
On a sort of unrelated note, I've been trying to figure out what to dress the boys as for Halloween, since I want enough time to make them. Benjamin has fluctuated from wanting to be a Lightning Bug to a Fireman, to an Astronaut, to LaaLaa or Po (from Teletubbies, which I never would have agreed to), to a Gingerbread Man. But my favorite was when he told me he wanted to be "Benjamin Pan." When I told Benjamin that Peter was going to be "Peter Pan," and that Peter Pan kills pirates, he thought it would be a much better idea if I let him be "Benjamin Pan" and Peter be "Peter Pirate." Sounds great, Benjamin! I'll get right to work! :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

T.E.A. Party USA

In search of a mini-vacation and driven by idle curiosity, we decided to pack up the kiddos and head to historic Quincy, Illinois to witness first hand what all the TEA Party/9-12 fuss was all about. For those of you who are wondering, "what's so historic about Quincy? I thought it was just that town that's by Nauvoo," let me remind you that it was there, about 150 years ago during the presidential campaign that a young Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas had their sixth debate. Riveting history, I know. It's now a pretty hammered river-town with a few dirty parks. But any time we can get out and spend the night in a hotel is a welcome adventure. We accidentally booked a room at the official Tea party headquarters where we hoped to bump into Tucker Carlson, that handsome, bow-tie sporting Fox News pundit or Andrew Breitbart. But alas, we only saw Dana Loesh, the foxy, conservative radio personality of the greater St. Louis area. The party didn't start until 1:00, so we spent the morning driving through ghetto Quincy in search of a park. The best we came across was a riverfront park complete with swarms of mosquitoes and a creepy metal detector dude combing through the mulch at the playground. What could possibly be worth the trouble? To each his own I guess. We found ourselves at a fabulous Greek restaurant for lunch where we met some fellow St. Louisans with a little girl Benjamin's age. They all had fun giving blow-fishes on the fish tank. Not knowing quite what to expect, we were devastatingly ill prepared to entertain two young boys during a political rally for 4-5 hours. The St. Louisans were nice enough to let us share their spot of ground which was great, but we had to be vigilant about keeping any of the thousands of old cigarette butts out of Peter's mouth. Benjamin and Margot had fun playing with her tractors and watching Shrek on their portable DVD player. Benjamin would tell you that the highlights from the trip were the blue mailbox, his new friend Margot, and the "stinky yellow potties (portapotties), that were soooo stinky." Some of our favorite parts: Reading Twilight together in the car, Andrew Breitbart's speech, and the hot (says Sarah) 27 year old congressman from Illinois who gave the best political speech I've ever heard, hands down. Oh to be 27 again! Best sign goes to "You Can't Multiply Wealth by ÷ It." All in all it was a fascinating slice of Americana. Good times.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Our Productive Weeds

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a terrible yard keeper. It's not that I hate weeding, it's just that it's never on my mind at the right moments. When I do notice the weeds, it's usually at the hottest time of the day, and usually coupled with about 90% humidity. So of course I put it off for some nice, cool morning. When I do weed, I really enjoy it. It's especially satisfying to yank a long gnarly, root-runner out. Benjamin loves to help me weed, and Peter will crawl around, eating dirt and rocks. So I suppose it shouldn't surprise anyone that I let several pumpkin and gourd plants go crazy in the middle of our compost pile and along the side of the house. I recognized the plants' leaves in their infancy, so I thought I'd see what they'd do if I let them go.

Here's the stash of gourds that we've already harvested.
And here's the monstrosity that's taking over the compost pile and back yard. It's hard to count, but I think we have at least 18 pie pumpkins growing back there! Anyone have some pumpkin recipes they'd like to share?

Reading Progress

Benjamin and I have been trying to do some informal "preschooling," where I spend some time working with him on reading or counting. He enjoys playing this game I made where he matches the words to the pictures. He's learned all the "at" family words pretty well and can read them without the pictures as references. I can't take credit for teaching him the sounds of words though. I love this website,, and he does too. I've found it to be a really effective teaching tool.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Dates with Benjamin

Paul and Benjamin entered the "hallowed" halls of Anheuser-Busch Stadium to see their first Cardinals game, thanks to a nice family in our ward who gave us tickets. They made it all the way through the 5th inning before Benjamin got a little too sleepy. As much as he tried, though, Paul couldn't get Benjamin to cheer. He elicited a few enthusiastic claps, but Benjamin said after the game, "my favorite part was when the pitcher throwed the ball to the catchers mitt and he hit it really far! I didn't like the cheering; that was your favorite part Daddy!" They had a great time!

The very next night, I took Benjamin to Disney on Ice, "100 Years of Magic." Dory from Nemo came to our ward for church and hooked us up with some nice discount tickets. The day of the show, I gave Benjamin a YouTube crash course in Disney literature, as he has never seen most of the movies in the show. I guess we don't watch enough movies.
All in all I think Benjamin probably enjoyed seeing Buzz Lightyear, the "blue man" (Genie) and "the duck making the Zamboni machine smoke" more than seeing Albert Pujols slam two ground-roll doubles. I must not have been a very good date though, because the moment we got in the car, Benjamin started talking about going back to the show, but next time with his grandmas, grandpas, Daddy, Peter, his cousins and all his uncles and aunts. So I've given you all the heads up--you're invited the next time we go.
We've had quite a memorable past couple of nights thanks to the generosity of good friends!

Doesn't this face say it all?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Conditions are Perfect

After a month of battling (well, mainly sitting on hold for forty minutes+ or leaving repeated messages) with the Delta Baggage Department about our jogging stroller that they broke, I finally got them to replace it! Hooray! I feel so free, being able to go anywhere I want with both the boys strapped in. I opted for more of an umbrella style this time, since it fits my needs better.

We went for a walk to the park this morning. Can you tell they're brothers?
Benjamin and Paul just left for a Cardinal's baseball game. Benjamin has been excited about this all week, so he willingly took a nap this afternoon so he could stay up late tonight. That never happens!
Peter lost his pacifier on our walk this morning, and I assumed we had at least two more at home. I was right, but they were the wrong kind. He only takes Nuks and I tried to give him a Soothie. There's a huge difference I guess, so of course he didn't nap.
After Benjamin woke up, we walked to the store to buy a few pacifiers. When we got home, Peter stuffed one in his mouth, and, holding my hand, walked over to his crib to stuff the other one through the rails. He's a little more dependant than I thought.
So long story short, Peter is now peacefully sleeping with his beloved pacifier, Benjamin and Paul are out, and I have the evening all to myself! I think I'll go paint now. Ah...