Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

For our ward's trunk-or-treat party, Paul dressed up as Peter Pan's nemesis, a pirate...
...and I was a fire for Benjamin the Fireman to put out.
Benjamin all ready to go trick-or-treating.
Peter, wishing he was in bed.
This was the first time I'd ever gone trick-or-treating to a tipi. It was set up in one of our neighbor's front yards. It even had a little campfire inside! Pretty cool.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Laissez-faire Parenting

I've finally had to confront my own laziness when it comes to parenting. To give you a picture of life as of late, let me first begin by saying that there have been very few October-blue-sky days this month. We've had rain, rain, and more rain, with a few really cold days sprinkled in (this morning, I noticed that our "waterproofed" basement has puddles where the water seeped up through the foundation...nice). So we've been stuck inside a lot, and my resolve to keep movie watching and computer time to a minimum has weakened. Benjamin has been pushing me to see how far I'll go with a lot of other things too. I've had to remind him dozens of times each day not to injure Peter in any way, and simple requests that I make lead to massive meltdowns and temper tantrums. It's been sort of maddening.
This week during preschool, the parents met in a breakout session to learn about discipline. The timing couldn't have been more perfect, and I've already seen huge results. I was the problem.
I decided to go against my nature, and make a schedule. I blocked each hour of the day for an activity, like music/exercise time, scripture time, learning time, creative time, cleaning time, and so forth. And it's worked so far! Benjamin loves the structure, and it's been nice to have the schedule to rely on, and not try to come up with stuff for him to do in the heat of the moment when he just wants to watch another movie. It's taking me a while, but I'm learning...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I finished Peter and Benjamin's costumes yesterday! They took way more time than they should have, and didn't end up saving me much money, but it was fun. And I think they turned out pretty well. I figured since I put so much into their costumes this year, I'd get their portraits taken. We've been listening to the original Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie in the car, and thoroughly enjoying it. I find myself remembering that Peter Pan musical (with Mary Martin as Peter Pan) that I thought was so dumb as a kid. 'Hook' also included a lot of the fun details from the book that the Disney cartoon left out.
And no, Benjamin didn't get his wish to be "Benjamin Pan" this year. But he looks pretty happy as a fireman, huh? I even spray painted an old hose for him. Happy (early) Halloween!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Our One-Year-Old

We had a pretty low-key celebration for Peter on his birthday. I made him a pumpkin cake.
It's funny how every one-year-old is different. Benjamin burst into tears when we sang "Happy Birthday" to him on his first birthday, but Peter would not touch his cake. When we lit the candle, Peter waved his hands at it, saying"Bah, bah, bah!" which, interpreted is "hot, hot, hot!" So Benjamin blew it out.
I finally shoved his hand in it to show him what was expected of him. This is how he felt about it.
I guess he's a tidy kid? He hates touching mashed potatoes or getting his hands too messy during mealtime. He's even started demanding a fork.

Peter's personality has just exploded in the past few weeks. Here's a few fun things about him, in no particular order.

  • He loves shoes, and he likes to bring me new pairs to put on his feet throughout the day.
  • He is an angel when it comes to sleep. I couldn't ask for a sweeter baby.
  • He loves raspberries, and will find his way over to our bushes every time he gets outside.
  • He enjoys dropping marbles down Benjamin's marble track. He also likes to make car noises while he pushes toy cars around the room.
  • He is a snuggler. He lays his head on my chest and gives me nice, long hugs. He also loves to pick stories and come sit on my lap to read them.
  • You can tell if he's walking or crawling by listening from the other side of the house to the intensity of the "pat-pats" coming toward you.
  • He has a few words that he uses. "Dada," "Pop Pop" (popcorn), "Bang," "Bye-bye" (no mama yet.) He and Benjamin have their own language, where they shriek or growl together in perfect unison.
  • He has a great giggle. He was laughing and laughing at the doctor's office today as she jabbed her hands into his torso. Speaking of, he measures at about the 60th% for height, weight and head.
  • He has a coy, silly little smile where he sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Peter!

It's amazing how fast they grow in that first year of life! We love our Peter Pumpkin!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How to Make Bubble Pictures

We got this idea from one of our videos, and decided to try it out. Benjamin loved making these "bubble pictures," and it was especially nice how long it occupied him. To make them, you need water, a few containers, tempera powder (tempera paint would work just as well I'm sure), dish soap, straws and some paper.
First, I let him pour the water in each of his buckets. Then, he scooped the tempera powder into the water and added the dish soap. (It's a very forgiving recipe, so I let him have free reign over "measuring")
Next, you use the straws to blow (don't suck!) bubbles until they form a mountain.
Next, place the paper on the bubbles. (Use whatever you have, can be cut in shapes if you want)
Pull the paper off, and you have a "bubbly picture!"
Let them dry on a flat, dry surface.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Benjamin is really into Curious George. He especially loves the old John Clark Matthews stop-motion movies on YouTube. So he was elated when Curious George finally made an appearance at the Magic House. "George" looks really creepy in this picture, but Benjamin thought this giant monkey was the best ever. He kept going back and giving him high-fives and hugs. The new Curious George exhibit is a lot of fun. It has a mini golf section and a kid-powered conveyor belt machine that is really cool. We go a lot.
I like this picture because it shows the difference between the two boys' personalities and how they respond to music. Each chair plays a section of an orchestra, and Benjamin loves the Strings the best. He listens pensively, while Peter climbs and jumps and dances excitedly.
Peter is so funny. He is a very easy going baby, but he has an appetite for adventure. Peter is generally fine going along for the ride, even when he isn't welcome. Benjamin was trying to get him off here.
We celebrated my birthday this week by going to our new favorite Afghan Kabob restaurant. Benjamin insisted on wearing his "date clothes," and he looked awesome (he wore a clip-on tie over his sweater vest over a polo). I got a yogurt machine, which I'm really excited to start using!
This weekend, we went to a pumpkin patch (after we bought a fabulous giant pumpkin for a great deal at Sam's Club). Benjamin loves this particular pumpkin patch for all the old tractors and the vintage fire engine.
He also loves it for the creepy "cave," which he insisted on going through several times.
Benjamin aspires to be a "Kool Bus" driver. We had a great time!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Happy October!

Benjamin's latest craze is riding his tricycle over to the neighborhood common area and climbing the small tree (We don't have any good climbing trees in our yard). The weather has been delightful these past few days with clear blue October skies.

He's actually getting to be a pretty good little climber and refers to himself as a "climbing jungle monkey in the zoo."
He also likes to take "naps" in the tree. Funny boy.
Peter has gotten really good at walking these days! He probably walks over half the time now.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Lamentations on a Lost Basement

I used to fear our basement when we first moved in. There were spiders and sprickets and the windows were old and gross. I'd dart in and out of our dusty, cobwebbed unfinished laundry room to do only what was absolutely necessary, and fold the clothes upstairs. The bathroom downstairs was seldom used--only the toilet and the sink, and only during moments of urgency. We definitely never used the shower. There were also certain areas of the basement that reeked, but we just avoided them. You might think that our fears of the basement would have kept us from letting Benjamin ever go down there, but you'd be wrong. That was his play space. That was where most of his toys stayed, out of sight. That's where the TV sat, only to be used for movies and occasional shows. In the small bedroom, my art stayed stowed away. Our basement enabled us to enjoy all of our uncluttered upstairs living space. About two Springs ago, we had our first incident down there- the plumbing, which was not accessible for repair. So the wall and ceiling were ripped in that spot so our kitchen sink bilge water would no longer leak all over the carpet down there. The carpet on that side only got worse as the Spring rains repeatedly pounded it. We finally wet vacced it at the end of the season, and it was fine.

The next year, the other side of the basement got soaked from the Spring rains, destroying my art room. The mold got worse and worse until we could no longer ignore it, and more drywall was torn up to expose seriously cracked and bowed foundation walls. We ripped much of the carpet up, as it was exposed to the mold. We hired a company to repair part of the drain tile and sump pump, and left it at that. During this time, there were also mice in the basement bathroom. Lots. And the only thing that seemed to work were those sick sticky traps.
Once the drywall was removed, we realized that our home's value had significantly decreased, and there wasn't much we could do about it. It would cost thousands to repair the bowing foundation, thousands more to fully waterproof it, and even more to refinish it. Perhaps it was this feeling of defeat that kept us from immediately cleaning up the piles of rolled up carpet, drywall chunks, Styrofoam pills and nail covered boards. So we just ignored it.
We finally cleaned up the mess this week because of the recent flea infestation (You can laugh now. Yeah, we have fleas). I guess O.C. wanted to leave lots of little things behind to help us remember him. He liked to sleep on a dirty blanket down there, which was brought upstairs a few weeks ago. It's been an exhausting several days ever since. I feel like the cleaning never ends, the mountain of laundry just keeps replenishing itself, and the boys keep picking them up no matter how often I bathe and examine them. But I think we're winning. We've been trying to get out of the house as much as possible, and I even set off a fogger. I couldn't figure out how to turn off the pilot light during the fogging process, so when I realized my mistake I rushed home, heart racing, just hoping that I hadn't burned down our house. I admittedly haven't had many warm feelings toward our house lately, but that moment of panic made me realize just how much it means to me. Perhaps we were never meant to have a basement in this house, but it was nice while it lasted. Note to self: basements are way over-rated, especially in wet, buggy climates.