Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nora's Almost Two

I'm in total denial that my baby is two weeks shy of her second birthday. Where did the time go?! Even she does not identify herself as a baby any more. It must be because she isn't. 
I remember when I was first pregnant with Nora, I wasn't sure if I really wanted a girl. I had the boy thing down, and I felt like having another one would just keep things simple. Even when I found out we were having a girl, it took some getting used to. But from the moment I first laid eyes on my Leonora, I knew how wrong I had been. Girls change everything. I felt like a new Mom all over again. And just like that, she made my already bursting heart expand a little wider with love.
Nora is an absolute delight. She's cheerful most of the time, and gives the sweetest little impromptu hugs and kisses. While we were taking these photos, she got one of her first real injuries. Paul and I were swinging her, when I felt her little shoulder joint pop. It was heart breaking to watch her in so much pain, and trying so hard to put on a brave face.  I guess with two older brothers, she's learned how to be tough. Luckily by the next morning, all was well again.  
She has had her ups and downs with sleep. For a while, no matter what I did or how long I made her bedtime routine, she would scream in her bed for a while before finally settling down. She's past that phase now (knock on wood!), and has decided she likes to climb into her crib all by herself. Luckily she hasn't figured out how to climb out, although I'm sure she could! Today, before I had a chance to read her stories, she had found her way into her room, climbed into bed, and fallen asleep for her nap. Believe me, I am NOT taking this new stage for granted!
Nora is fascinated by all things girly. We've recently added a few princess stories to her library, and those are by far her favorites to read. Every morning she'll come in with a stack, saying, "Mom. Read it me. Pincess." She especially loves "Seeping BEU-dee," probably because she wears a pink dress. She's starting to let me fix her hair with a clip these days, which is nice since I'm growing her bangs out. She loves accessorizing with her glasses and (now broken) Hello Kitty necklace. And have I mentioned yet how much the girl loves pink? She's obsessed. I think it's sweet to see her little identity develop, separate from her brothers'.
If you can't tell, we're pretty enamored with our Nora. Thank goodness for a girl!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chinese Lantern Festival

It's been a while since we've been to the Botanical Gardens. It's free on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so those are usually the only days we'll go if we remember. This Summer, they have a huge Chinese Lantern Festival going on throughout the gardens, and it is fantastic! I forgot the camera the first time we went, but made sure to bring it the second. Check out the giant dragon at the entrance:
 And the dragon just inside the entrance is equally as impressive. They light everything up at night, but we haven't made it yet as it's pretty expensive for a couple of cheapskates like us. We might just have to make a date of it though...

We didn't walk around as much this time, but made sure to go back and take some pictures of our favorites. Like these giant dragons made out of china. Their scales are dinner plates and their talons are teacups and spoons. AWESOME.

The Climatron was cool too. The kids loved spying bananas and pineapples up in the trees, and were fascinated by these blown glass sculptures.
We met up with some friends, and made Chinese style paper fans together.
Eliza is really sweet with Nora.
Then we headed to the Children's Gardens together and played in the fountains to cool off.

The small Chinese garden was the perfect spot for a snack.
There were huge tadpoles in the pond. I had never seen a real one up close, but there was one with a tail, almost as big as the frog hanging out next to it. Pretty cool!
Nora LOVES frogs.

Before heading home, we swung by the Japanese Gardens to feed the giant koi fish.

I really love living in St. Louis. There's so much to do here, that I really think I'd miss it if we ever left. Now if we could just recruit a little more family to live out here... :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sneak Peek

 We just had our family pictures taken tonight, and I'm in love...

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I love pretty much everything about summer. I love how laid back it feels. I love waking up and not having a pressing schedule or any obligations. I love watching the kids play in the pool and soaking up a little sun. And I especially love all the good food that comes along with summer. I've been adding a few new recipes to our dinner rotation lately, and I thought a few of them were too good not to share. So try them! You'll be glad you did.

1. Mango Quinoa Salad
 I had this recently at Peter's preschool graduation party. I promptly went home, looked up the recipe and made it again. And again. It's even great as leftovers. So good, and so good for you!
Image via The Sister's Cafe
2. Navajo Tacos
To be fair, this one isn't new to us. We've been making them for a few years, but they are awesome. Could be something to do with that fry bread... :)
image via Recipe Shoebox

3. Chicken Souvlaki
I made this one last night, and it is the inspiration behind this post. SO delicious, even the kids cleaned their plates. And the best part was, the ingredients were all ones that I generally have on hand.
Image via Spring in Ohio

4. Shredded Beef Tacos
 This is one that Paul found and made for us (which of course earns it bonus points in my book). It's a crock pot recipe, so it's perfect for summer days when you don't want to heat up the house. I especially love these with a little homemade pico de gallo. Very, very good!
Image via My Kitchen Addiction

5. Honey Lime Salmon with Warm Black Bean and Spinach Salad
The picture shows it with chicken, but this was a dish meant for fish. It is one of the most beautiful combinations of flavors ever. Another meal you can feel completely virtuous about eating.
Image via Recipe Shoebox
So, what are some of your Summer favorites?

Monday, June 11, 2012

More Birthday Fun

For Benjamin's actual birthday, he really wanted to go to a Cardinal's game with the family. We decided that would be fun, so in place of traditional dinner and cake, we headed downtown for some good St. Louis fun. On our way, we picked up some pizza and joined Patrick, Abby and Gloria at their home. At the last minute, we decided it would be wise to let the little ones sleep and take Patrick in Nora's place to the game. Little cousins Nora and Gloria got to have a fun sleepover together, thanks to Abby!
The rest of us headed to the stadium. Peter was asking for his bed the second we left the car. He was tired, and not all that interested in watching baseball.
As we were walking to our seats, we ran into Fred Bird, and hopped over to get a  picture taken with him. I told him it was Benjamin's 6th birthday, and so he verified holding up one hand plus two fingers. I mistakenly corrected him thinking maybe he thought I said seven, so he counted them up for me. FOUR fingers on one hand and TWO on the other. Ha. I felt dumb. :)
There he is, with four fingers on my shoulder, and four on Paul's. Now I know!
We got the cheapest seats way up at the top in the sun. Luckily, we had perfect weather. Not too hot or humid!
Even though we were constantly entertaining/feeding Peter, we had a good time.
 Peter wanted to know if the black team was the bad guys. :) I helped him follow generally what was happening. It was a pretty fast game, and the Cardinals even got a home run. 
Peter and I had fun dancing and having tickle fights between innings.  If I let up, Peter would smile and say, "Make me cheer, Mommy!"  Then I would swing his arms up in the air and he would laugh hysterically. 
I think Benjamin had a fun birthday, and like some of you noted from that last post, it may never be matched. But that's OK. I try not to spoil my kids, but I do sort of make an exception for birthdays. I feel like the years from about 5 to 10 are the most magical ones, when kids anticipate their birthday all year long. I guess the kid in me enjoys making magical birthdays happen now that I have kids of my own. We feel so blessed to be able to do that!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Benjamin's Party

Benjamin's Lego birthday party was a smashing success! I can't believe my boy is six. For his first real friends party, we let him invite six friends. He had a few from school and a few from church. We decorated with Mega Blocks and minifigures. I put out bowls of Lego brick candy (which were cool because you could build with them, but weren't the best candy).
 While the kids arrived, we let them go crazy with the "Lego head" balloons.
 Then we settled down to decorate yellow baby food jars to look like Lego heads. In my mind this was going to be a lot more fun. Only a few of them really got into it though. :)
The treasure hunt was a lot more their speed. We had a few readers, and the rest were eager to run and be the first to find the next clue.
It ended up by the hose where they got little water guns...
 ...which Paul kindly let them use to gang up on him. I should mention that Paul was my right hand during the party. I couldn't have done it without him!
Next we broke out the water balloons and attempted a water balloon toss using towels. That didn't last long, as we had one or two little boys who were just smashing them all. Oh, well. :)
 Next was the Lego "building contest" where we let them loose with a big pile of Legos. Once they were done, we assigned prizes like "most versatile" and "most dangerous" on the backs of some sticker sheets.
 The pin the head on the Lego guy game was also kind of funny. We had lots of winners. Probably the fact that you could feel the construction paper glued onto the poster didn't add to the challenge. :) 
 The cake was supposed to be "Jay," the blue ninja from the Ninjago series. I think Benjamin liked it.
 I found Lego candles at Target. Perfect!
After cake, we had presents, and Benjamin was thrilled with every one.
 Although I think the tissue box full of dollar bills took the cake for most creative and exciting for a boy who had never held so much cash in his life.
We finished with the piñata, which worked well. The boys collected their candy and headed home. One of the moms commented to me at the end of the party that I'd sleep well that night, and I definitely did! As fun as it was planning the party, I'm glad it's over. Now I feel like summer vacation can really begin. :)