Bowl Full of Blessings.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

As November comes to a close, we are wrapping up our month of Thankful Things.  We find our Thankful Bowl full of blessings and ourselves more conscious of our good fortune.  We are a family rich in love, tradition, warmth, and laughter.  I am Thankful, every day, for this life.

Hearing the kids discuss what they are thankful for has been a joy.  Big Sister's Thankful Things often sound like a prayer.  Little Brother keeps it simple.  They've surprised me with their awareness and amused me with their honesty.  These are some of my favorites from the past month.

Big Sister's Thankful Things:
  • Having an easy life.
  • Having a brother who loves me.
  • Lots of hugs.
  • Good teachers who like us a lot and don't be mean to us.
  • Good views on our family hike.
  • Having friends and family that take care of us and love us a million.
  • Being loved, being together.
Little Brother's Thankful Things:
  • Ravioli.
  • People who love us.
  • Mini Wheats.
  • Banana ice cream.
  • Having a sister and nice family.
  • Doctors helping kids.
  • Watering the garden with the bucket.
I know this family tradition has made an impact on my children when I see their reluctance to give it up.  Thanksgiving has now passed, and the pull of Christmas is strong.  Yet Big Sister runs from the dinner table for pen and paper, insisting that we discuss the blessings we enjoy.  That makes me happy.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We loaded up and went to a wedding a few weeks ago.  All four of us.  Turns out we clean up pretty well.

Our hotel was on a lake, with a miniature lighthouse out back.  We had fun exploring the surroundings, even with a bit of wind.

That's Big Sister in her Sara Dress, remember?  This is Little Brother, King of the World:

This is before the wedding, all dressed up:

I have no idea what he's doing.  I do know that's marker on his fingers, and not blood!

Truth be told, we did not do well during the ceremony.  We lasted only a few minutes before having to retreat to somewhere that noise and movement are more acceptable.  But we enjoyed the reception, which was at a castle.  A castle!

That one's great, but this one (below) is my life:

I don't have a tripod, and I never take pictures in the dark, so this picture of the castle was the best I could manage:

Big Sister was fascinated with the bride.  Maybe it was her cool dreadlocks.  Or maybe the cowgirl boots with the pretty white dress.  Or maybe just the magic of a wedding.  Whatever it was, it had us peeking around corners, always trying to get a glimpse of the beautiful bride.

We wish these two all the best as they begin their life together!

Catching Up on Halloween.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

For my 100th post (!!!), I'm going to play catch-up.  I haven't quite figured out how so many bloggers have beautiful holiday photos posted weeks before the actual holiday, when I can't even manage to get mine onto the computer until weeks after the holiday.  I'm banking on the fact that nobody will ever complain about the timing of cute kid pictures (right, grandparents?).

So, remember how I told you that Big Sister was Rapunzel?  Well, I left out a small detail.  She was also a pink kitty.  Convinced that she needed a different costume for her school carnival, Big Sister went to her closet and came out with this:

Little Brother stuck with his Batman costume, of course.

Big Sister's school puts on a fantastic carnival.  There were more bouncy/inflatable things than I could count, and almost every classroom was decorated for a fun game.  They even had pony rides.  I helped with the spider toss, and it was the most fun I've ever had doing lots of squats.  We burned through 80 tickets in no time.

Speaking of Big Sister's school, I got to help the kindergarteners with a craft during their Halloween party.  We made bouncy spiders out of pipe cleaners and beads, like this:

The kids did really well with a very short time to devote to their creations.

At home, we carved jack-o-lanterns.  Big Sister was very excited about the process and wanted to be in charge of every part of the project.  She designed the faces and helped draw them on the pumpkins, fearlessly scooped "pumpkin guts," supervised the cutting, and schooled Little Brother in the fine art of pumpkin carving.

Little Brother, who was less helpful, mostly banged on things with a stick.

Our two spooky jack-o-lanterns:

No, wait!  There are three!

Halloween night was spent trick-or-treating.  Big Sister was back to Rapunzel, and I was Mother Gothel, the creepy, selfish mother in the Tangled movie (sorry, no pictures).  Little Brother was Batman, and Mr. Great was Robin.  Sadly, his quickly assembled costume made him look more like a Red Robin burger delivery dude.  Regarless, Little Brother was thrilled to have a sidekick.

At the end of it all, we collapsed in a heap of exhaustion, too tired to take another step. 

What fun we had!  Now on to Thankful Things...

Family Turkey Project.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last week, Big Sister came home from kindergarten with an assignment for the entire family.  We had to decorate a turkey (drawing provided), and we all had to participate.  That was the extent of the instructions; the rest was left to us.

The assignment was due Monday, and our turkey went missing on Sunday afternoon.  We searched the house, and we searched it again.  No turkey.  We searched the Internet and found plenty of turkeys, but not a printable version of the right turkey.  We printed one that was similar, glued it to cardstock, and got to work.

Big Sister did most of the planning and made most of the design decisions.  Here is our Family Turkey Project (with kids' names removed):

The feathers are pieces of brown fabric, the neck is colored with brown pencil, wings are black rick-rack, body is fake leaves, downy feathers are tiny alphabet pasta, beak and feet are orange pipe cleaners, and the "gobbler" is a tiny pinecone.  The turkey is standing on Cheerio rocks.  Funny thing about that -- when Big Sister opened the pantry to get the Cheerios, she found the original turkey drawing stuffed in the cabinet.  I think Little Brother probably had something to do with that, but he blames the cat.

The yellow strips at the top are Thankful Things, which is one of my very favorite family traditions.  Every November evening through Thanksgiving, we each share what we're thankful for.  We write it down, and we put the list in our Thankful Bowl.  On Sunday night, instead of putting the list in the bowl, we cut it apart and glued it to our Family Turkey Project.

I'm not sure how visible or legible those Thankful Things are, so I'll repeat them here.

Little Brother:  Thankful for cutting and Cheerios.
Mama:  Thankful for our family and time together.
Big Sister:  Thankful for having a good life.
Mama:  Thankful for good schools.
Dada:  Thankful for art and family traditions.
Dada:  Thankful for laughter.
Little Brother:  Thankful for spending the night with Oma and Opa.
Big Sister:  Thankful for having Halloween, having a good house, and having good grandparents.

I love Thanksgiving.  There's nothing like hearing your young children recognize and talk about the blessings in their lives. 

Want to make your own family turkey?  The turkey template we used can be downloaded here.

Happy Meal.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Daylight Savings Time this morning meant extra time to spend on Big Sister's lunch.  And extra time meant that I reached a new level of lunch ridiculousness.

This is a risky move -- Big Sister has been known to refuse to eat things that are Too Cute.  This is the kid, after all, who would not wear new ballet shoes when she thought the bunnies on the fabric lining were Too Cute.  I hope she doesn't go hungry because I got my hands on some cookie cutters, edible eyeballs, sugar glue, and food markers.   

Packing Big Sister's lunch has been one of the hardest parts of transitioning to kindergarten.  She's a picky eater to begin with, she's easily distracted, and kindergarteners don't get much time to eat.  I'm constantly trying to think of lunchables that Big Sister will eat, and I've learned that cute presentation helps.  I've got a great supply of Bento tools -- mostly from All Things for Sale, which ships from the US -- to make my lunch-packing job easier.

If nothing else, those faces brighten a Monday, don't they?

Baby Shower (and games!).

Friday, November 4, 2011

Back in September, some ladies and I threw a baby shower for my sister and her husband.  This is their first baby, and we were all very excited to make the day special for them.  The room was filled with love, as friends new and old, and family from near and far, came together in celebration of the baby boy whose arrival was imminent.

I was so busy with other things, that I took pitifully few photos.  I wish I had more to share!

This was a fun shower to plan because guests ranged in age from 2 to 66 and included men and women.  We had a table of delicious dips, finger sandwiches, and munchies.  We had mimosas.  And, of course, we had sweets.  To make things easy, we ordered cupcakes from bakery.  Then we added tiny little feet:

We also ordered a small fondant cake, then we added decorations made by my sister (yes, the pregnant one!), whose cakes never cease to amaze me.  Just look at this cutie-pie mama-to-be:

To decorate, we hung a clothesline of precious, tiny baby things.  Peek-a-boo!

Recognize that dino romper?  Soon I'll get to see a baby in it!

We couldn't miss the opportunity to honor the baby boy's name:

Those are the baby washcloth lollipops I made (tutorial here).  The blocks were made by Etsy seller No Place Like Home Shop, who was a joy to work with and painted the cutest little dino and frog. 

I've never been a big fan of a baby shower games.  I think I was traumatized at the first shower I ever attended by watching grown men suck beer out of baby bottles as fast as they could, followed by close examination of "dirty" diapers to guess the candy that made the mess.  Years later, now that I've attended lots of baby showers, I've come around to believing that games can be good ice-breakers and entertainment.  So I wanted to come up with some low-key games that would be fun and interactive, while not putting anybody in the spotlight too much.  The real challenge was that the games, and prizes, had to be appropriate for men, women, and children, ages 2 to 66.  I came up with two games that I think everyone enjoyed. 

We first played Mrs. Wright, where guests passed wrapped gifts to the left and right when they heard those words in a story I read, and the guests holding those gifts at the end of the story won them.  I adapted the Mrs. Wright story from some examples I found, taking bits and pieces of various versions, and adding some of my own.  The story is ridiculous, and it had everybody fumbling and trying to remember their left from right.  I've shared my version of the Mrs. Wright baby shower game (with names changed) in a Google document here.  Please feel free to use it, and let me know how your guests like it.

Our second game was trivia.  The guests formed small groups to work together in answering multiple-choice trivia questions.  This was more fun than I guessed it would be, and I loved listening to the groups reason through the answer choices.  With three generations represented, including men and women, parents of children ages 2-40, and adults without children, there were lots of interesting comments.  The questions, which were pretty obscure, did not give anyone an advantage.  Everyone enjoyed hearing the answers, some of which were very surprising.  My sister's team ended up winning, which was great.  I assembled the questions with help from some online sources (see here and here), adding many questions of my own. I've also shared my baby shower trivia game and the answers.  Please feel free to use it, though you may want to change questions that relate specifically to the name, state, due date, etc. 

As with all baby showers, there were loads of gifts.  But the best gift of all was the love showered upon this little family, now a family of three.