Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finally!

After 7 "snow" days this school year, we FINALLY got some snow!



This is our backyard. We got around 6 inches. It's nowhere near Syracuse standards (I hear they'll get about 14 inches from this storm) but it's a big downfall for this part of the country and we'll take it!


The kids had a ball sledding and playing in the snow...until they got bone cold frozen!

Even at the end of the day, Elise wanted to go out one last time.


And poor Trixie was confined to the backyard while the kids were playing in the front yard. She soooo wanted to join them. (Note that there is no picture of our beagle...who spent as little time as possible outside in the cold snow today! Trixie, on the other hand, lived outside today!)

Now that we've blown every possible snow day (the district only builds in 5 so who knows how of if they'll deal with the last 2), I'd say IT'S TIME TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!! For everyone's sanity....


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Friends

Elise spent the weekend going back and forth with her friend V. V lives down the street from us and the girls are in the same class at school. V's mom is Chinese and people are forever confusing the girls at school.

(Sorry, this was the best picture I could get of the girlies, Elise couldn't bear to tear her eyes away from the computer screen to indulge my desire to take a picture.)



This weekend, Elise told me that they were getting together to study. When I asked what they were going to study, she told me that V was going to teach her some Chinese words and Elise was going to teach her some English words (huh?!?).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Completed project, a give-away and a change in the dining room

Like the title, I'm feeling a bit scattered this week. Too much to do, too little time...

Completed Project:


I did manage to get this project done. I've been wanting to do this with my kids since they were babies.


In case anyone is interested, I took side pictures of the kids and had them printed as 8x10's. (Yes, I took the pictures last summer and it took me that long to finish...problem with that?!?) Once developed, I just cut them out, traced onto black paper and mounted them in the frame. I thought it would be so much harder than it was...very easy project that I'm glad I finally finished.

Give-away:


These books were given to me by a family in the area. I already have these books and would be happy to pass them on to someone out there. If you are interested, drop me an e-mail with your snail mail address.

Change in dining room:


Remember how Perry was going to make a hutch for our revamped dining room? Turns out, he has a few other projects in the hopper. He wasn't feeling that jazzed about making the hutch and was worried he wouldn't do it justice (I wasn't worried, he does beautiful work). But, I want it done NOW and it'd likely be at least a year before he'd tackle it. So, we went furniture shopping.


Here's what we ended up with in the long run. This piece (and a matching sideboard that will come later) have a craftsman style that I really liked. (And I love the fact that Carson stuck his head in from the adjoining staircase just as I snapped the picture with a "whatcha doing, Mom?"...so typical!)


So, now I guess I'm officially an adult...or just old, whichever way you want to look at it. I have a place to leave out my good china...hopefully now we'll use it more often!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Tumblin' Monkeys

A few weeks ago, Elise's Girl Scout troop had a game night. Someone brought this adorable Tumblin' Monkeys game and Elise fell in love! Unfortunately, none of the stores around us carried the game. After a little online search, we found the game and it was soon on it's way to our house.


Since its arrival at our house, we've played PLENTY of games!

It's a really cute game and both kids are enjoying playing with it. Elise is the current champion!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Conversations at the dinner table

Here's a sampling of the conversations at our dinner table tonight.

Well, beyond the usual moans and groans when I try a new recipe (chicken with oranges and almonds which ~I~ thought was yummy!).

On the "worst school lunch ever" topic:

Carson - The mushroom pizza is nasty. Almost as bad as Mom's mushroom pizza.

(In my defense, I don't LIKE mushrooms and have never, ever made a mushroom pizza!)

On sibling love:

Elise (while disolving into tears) - Carson is SMILING at me! (full blown crying spell by the end of the sentence)

Makes you really want to come eat dinner with us, doesn't it?!?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Snow Days = Magic House Fun

What do you do when your kids are out of school more than they are in school these days and can't get along to save their lives?!? Well, beyond going nuts arranging schedules (this is the one time that I really, really hate being a work-outside-of-the-house mom!).

We decided to head over to the Magic House in St. Louis. It's a nationally recognized children's museum and just a wonderful place for kids. We hadn't been there in a few years. There was an article in the paper recently about a huge expansion they'd just completed. And I had a coupon for a free admission! So, we decided to give it a try.

Unfortunately, I'd grabbed one of my smaller cameras and didn't realize until we arrived that the battery was dead. Thankfully I had also stuck my new favorite little toy in my purse as well. So, no pictures but a few short videos. My apologies if these take too long to load, I'm still figuring this out...

The biggest new attraction is a 3 story high beanstalk that the kids can climb. It's amazingly creative and both kids enjoyed it. And, yes, Carson kept his coat on the entire time...he was worried someone would steal it in the coat room (?!?) even though I'd promised to buy him a new one if that did happen.

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Many of the activities were geared towards younger kids, but this is one that Carson really enjoyed. They have a TV studio and you can be the anchor. I love how Elise is helping him!

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The static ball is a well loved attraction. Gives me the heeby-jeebies but the kids love it. Elise's hair is usually full of static anyway so she can achieve this look by simply taking off her big winter coat! OK, maybe not this much, but it seems close!

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After seeing Carson do this, I think we can all agree that a haircut is in order.

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There were lots of other fun attractions. I think Carson is outgrowing the Magic House, which makes me sad. He's more interested in places like the Science Center. He did give me a chuckle on the way home. I had NPR on the radio and the show was Ira Flatow's Science Friday. The kids usually get annoyed with my interest in NPR. I was surprised when Carson kept asking to have it turned up and getting upset when we'd talk to him. He was really into the topic they were discussing (methane gas on Mars?!?). Guess my little boy is growing up.

But, Elise still had a blast at the Magic House. And it was a great day to get out of the house and beat the boredom and bickering.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This...That...and the Other....

Just a few random thoughts:

  • My kids are off school AGAIN tomorrow. This will be the 4th snow day in 3 school weeks. Plus, add in 2 sick days for Carson during that same time period and I'm wondering if my kids will ever spend a full week in school again (or if the school year will end in July with all these makeup days added to the calendar).

  • It's ridicously cold here. It would be bearable if we actually had snow on the ground to enjoy while we sat inside drinking hot chocolate.

  • Can't drink hot chocolate on this diet....drat.

  • The 4 day diet jump start is almost over and has gone really well! The Sassy water is yummy and I'll keep drinking that. Perry has stuck with it, although it's been really easy for him...I've been doing all the work to put the food together...he just opens a bag and eats what's been prepared. In all fairness, he is downstairs at the moment preparing tomorrow's Sassy water! The next 4 weeks are less rigid but follow the same 4 400 calorie meal/snack scheme.

  • A new diet and PMS don't mix well, but I've stayed on track. Heck, I'd be crabby and miserable either way so I might as well just lump it all together.

  • Why do we need a uterus after the age of 40 (I realize some woman do want it and I respect that)? As far as I'm concerned, it's a big ol' pain in the neck these days for me. I really don't think I'll be needing it anytime soon. But, my good doctor assures me there are benefits to leaving it be (but he is a man, after all!).

  • My kids can't get along these days to save their lives. I'm about to lose my mind with all the fighting.

  • My mom kindly offered (after much begging on my part) to come stay with my kids tomorrow. THANK YOU, MOM!

  • I'm finally fed up enough with one of my kids' teacher to talk with the principal this week. I hate that I'm doing this because I feel there will be repercussions and it crosses a line that can't be un-crossed. It's been a rough year and things are not improving despite repeated attempts to resolve the issues alone with the teacher. I deal with overbearing parents all the time and I hate the thought that perhaps I might be seen the same way. OK, I deal with overbearing parents of college kids who need to start cutting the apron strings....guess it's a little different with an elementary student.

Hope all is well with my friends and family in bloggy-world. Stay warm!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Diet...

Perry and I are starting the Belly Fat Diet tomorrow! We've never done a "diet" together but I'm not really looking at this as a diet but rather a jump start to get us out of our holiday overeating rut.

Anyone done this program?

I was particularly interested in the 4 day jump start program to this plan. In the past, I've fasted prior to a "diet" to jump start my thinking but just couldn't work up the energy for a fast lately.

I'm also shocked that Perry agreed to do it with me! We both need to drop a few pounds and can easily (and have in the past) drop the pounds with some sensible eating, which has been sorely lacking lately. I think the 4 day plan is too low calorie (1600) to meet his needs (remember, he is a 6'8" man who doesn't sit down at all during the day). But, I'm thrilled that he's game to do it with me. I'm doubling the protein in each of his meals to see if that will help him not starve!

I was in the kitchen for a long time tonight preparing the food for the next few days, making individual servings, etc. It actually felt good to actually put thought into the food for the coming days rather than stare into the fridge to decide what to eat once the urge strikes!

So why the Belly Fat diet? I'd seen it in Prevention (one of my favorite mags!) and on the Today show. It emphasizes eating four 400 calorie meals/snacks throughout the day (not letting more than 4-5 hours go between eating to keep up your blood sugar). I've always found this to be a successful way to keep off the weight. I also really liked some of the recipes I saw and am always looking for healthy recipes to add to our collection. The recipes are mostly chicken and fish based, rather than red meat.

After the 4 day jump start, you do another 4 week eating plan. You pick and choose options for various (I never do well at eating plans that give you no flexibility).

Feel free to join us! Wish us luck!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chinese New Year ideas?

I'm starting to plan our annual Chinese New Year party and turning to all of you in blogland for some ideas.

We'll have kids of all ages and I'd welcome any CNY activities you might have. And, I'd love to hear about your favorite Chinese recipes!

I'd also love to hear how your family will be celebrating!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Elise's Drama Performance

Elise decided to join drama club at her school this year. We were THRILLED! She's so shy that we knew it would be a big step for her. She's loved the practices for this performance and has done quite a bit of practicing the songs at home.

The perfomance was scheduled for before Christmas, but was rescheduled due to a snow day. The kids had one last practice scheduled earlier this week...but THAT was cancelled due to a snow day. So, it had been a MONTH since the kids had practiced. But they did a great job!


Elise played the part of a hyena. We had a minor disaster as we were getting dressed tonight. She'd worn the brown tights over break and they sprung a run. Unbeknownst to me, Dad threw them away. Had I known, I would have picked up a new pair, but there was no time by the time I discovered this. She wasn't happy with the black tights.


Here she is "in costume" after the performance.


When I picked her up after the perfomance, she had a sullen look on her face and said, very quietly, "I didn't get any flowers." Fortunately, we'd learned that it's a BIG.DEAL to give the little girls flowers afterward. Perry had stopped by the grocery store (my instructions were to pick up a SINGLE flower but all they had were a dozen red roses) and had them waiting for her when we gathered as a family. She was THRILLED, and shared one of her flowers with a friend.

And see those folding seats behind her?

It did this to my phone. Nope, that's not the flash, it got crushed when I put the seat down. My phone was in my coat pocket (because my camera was in my purse). Big bummer. I ran to the cell store after the performance, hoping I'd purchased the insurance. No luck. I loved that phone. It keeps me organized and on top of my life. And guess what, they don't make that phone any more. RIP Mr. Phone. Sigh. So, I'm now the proud owner of a pink Blackberry but, boy, was it an expensive evening (and I did purchase an industrial strength protective cover AND insurance.) :(

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Why Behind the Wii

I had finished my Christmas shopping for the kids by Thanksgiving. Done. Not doing any more.

...Until Elise's 3-year IEP re-evaluation, which was scheduled for the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

At that meeting, she was released from PT services, which is FANTASTIC news for Elise. It means she's made so much progress that she's considered at the same ability level as her peers. YEAH...go Elise!

But, she does need to still work on eye-hand coordination (not enough to warrant extra services through the district). Her PT, with whom she's worked for the past 3 years and is just wonderful, seriously suggested getting a Wii for home.

I politely laughed but thought, "Nope, that would bust the Christmas budget!" Perry's reaction was more along the lines of "should I stop by and get one on the way home?" (Can you tell who does the budget in our family!)

After giving it some thought and talking with other families who have one, we decided to bite the bullet and get one for Christmas. I was fortunate to hit Amazon on a day when they had hourly deals on many popular Wii games for 60-70% off.

Since "Santa" brought the Wii to help with Elise's eye-hand coordination, she really hadn't been too interested in the games that would encourage those skills, preferring instead to do the Disney Sing Along game.

But the tide turned just a few days ago when she decided she really wanted to do the tennis and bowling games (games her PT strongly suggested!).

So, while the gift has been fun for the whole family, it's a constant reminder of how far Elise has come in her physical development. She's such an amazing and strong little girl, I'm confident she will continue to overcome the difficulties life has placed in front of her.



I hope you enjoy the sight of her bowling just as much I do.

"Kids Decide" Day

Yesterday we decided to ask the kids what they hadn't done during break that they had really, really wanted to do.

Carson: Go to the Science Center

Elise: Go to Libby Lu's (closing mid-January)

We decided to divide up and the boys went to the Science Center while Elise and I headed out to Libby Lu.

Those that know me know that I HATE going to the mall (I only like going by myself and only when "I'm in the mood). My dislike for the mall aside, we had a good time. Elise did some shopping at Libby Lu's, which is pretty picked over by now. We ended up walking through some stores and Elise discovered they already had out Spring Dresses. She had so much fun looking through them, deciding which ones to try one, twirling in front of the dressing room mirror and deciding which would be the perfect Easter dress.

Now, I realize it's a tad early to buy an Easter dress, but I honestly don't anticipate being in the mall again between now and then! :) Plus, the dresses were ridiciously discounted (who else is buying Easter dresses in January?!?) and I had a gift card I wanted to use. So even if she sprouts up an inch or two, this dress will still work in April. (She did have to promise to NOT grow like her brother before I'd buy it!)

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She was upset that we wouldn't let her wear this dress to church today. :( I have a feeling that will be a weekly battle until Easter.

I've also discovered that I love using the video camera...maybe that lazy streak in me is really coming out! Perry got me one of those Flip video cameras for Christmas. It's the easiest thing in the world to use and plugs directly into the computer without extra cords!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Trying to get out of our lazy slump...

We look forward to this time of year all year long. We're all fortunate to get really long breaks from work and school. It really is such a highlight of the year. It's such a good chance to relax and spend some time as a family without all the normal daily pressures. This year, we've been downright lazy. All of us.



I finally decided that a 2 week head cold probably isn't normal and got some more powerful drugs from the doctor. Turns out it was a sinus infection. That might explain my lack of energy and desire for a daily nap! :) It's amazing how quickly you can start to feel better when you take the correct drugs!



So, on New Year's Day, I decided we needed to break this lazy streak and start gearing up for the routine of normal life. So, here are a few things we've managed to work on the last 2 days.



I worked on the paperwork for Carson to attend Deerfoot Lodge this summer. Deerfoot is a Christian camp in the Adirondeck mountains of upstate New York. My brother spent every summer there as a kid and it was a life altering experince. My sister is sending her 3 boys (9, 12 and 16) this summer for the first time as well. I'm thrilled we've finally decided to send all 4 boys at the same time. I think they'll just love it. The selling point for my son was the fact that they bath right in the lake...no daily showers!

Perry continued working on the bathroom. He laid the tile.

Replaced the exhaust fan (he is standing on a step stool here...he's not THAT gigantic...he did ask why I was taking so many pictures of his butt, though!)

He also put up beadboard (I painted). We put the beadboard on the ceiling as well (which is a pain in the arse project!). Carson and I are admiring Dad's work. It's amazing how many little details go into a "small" project like this. I hope to have it completely done before we go back to school.
Elise entered the Young Authors contest in the school district and she has spent a good deal of time the last few days working on her book. It's a story about a Chinese tiger performing a cheerleading routine at a Chinese New Year celebration! She's quite the perfectionist and is driving herself (and us!) nuts over every little detail! I'll be so thankful once the deadline is here and we can turn it in!

Elise and I worked on creating a bed for her American Girl doll. Since our dining room is no longer a "catch-all crap room" I've had to set up a crafting area in the basement. It's coming but as you can see in this picture, it's still a mess. My husband did install some better lighting for me over the break.

And Carson and Tyler?!? Well, they were still lazy bums while the rest of us were working hard! It's mid-day and they are still in pj's watching tv.

And I had to include this picture. Elise has worn skirts every day this break. This skirt is one of her favorites...given to her by her Aunt Kristin for Christmas. Elise picked this outfit out by herself and asked me to take a picture of her.
Hope you are all enjoying the first days of the New Year!