Friday, December 31, 2010

Where's Danny?

Dear Quiet Danny,
If we can't find you underfoot, as a pair of eyes looking up asking for something, speaking from behind your pacifier, we can most likely find you here,
 Or here,
Or here,
Or here,
It means that there is often this to clean up after bedtime,
Which is just fine.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

Dear Boys,
This year there were lots of treats,

 Plus, it was the first Christmas with this sweetie...

Who got a lot of kisses... 

Oh and the presents, THE PRESENTS!!!
NOTE:  Couldn't get a non-blurry picture of Matthew because he was so excited about this race track from Uncle Matthew and Vera.  Matthew, your exact words were, "IIIIIii  LIKEthis!!!!" ("likethis" is one word.)

Here you are passing out your hand-made ornaments for everyone, you were both so proud...

We came home to all of these!!!

And Santa came to MI while we were in MN...

Merry Christmas, Boys.
XOX, Mom.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Believe In Little Things

Dear Danny,
I'm singing this to you at bedtime lately.  You're our sweet little thing...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mix Up

Matthew has been mixing up "barely" and "very" lately, which has lead to some embarrassing quotes such as...
"Mom, I am BARELY smart."

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving = 1 dropped pie, 

1 trip to the ER, 5 stitches

0 napping Dannys,

5 guests, 4 hours to cook a whole dinner


17 pounds of turkey, 10 pounds of potatoes, 2 heads of cabbage, 1 improvised roasting pan.  What a relief when everything was on the table and our neighbors arrived.  It meant that there was nothing more to do but enjoy.

Plus, my neighbor taught me that I should be doing this with pomegranates...

...  instead of just cutting them in half.  He almost fainted when he saw me do that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Knitting for the Neice

Am 3 inches of sleeve away from finishing this jacket for the above sweetie...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Late Entry: Matthew's Birthday

It took some thinking to come up with a good idea for Matthew's birthday.  I felt stumped about how to host a party in our tiny apartment.  Joe's birthday is at the height of summer so we can just have the party outside.  But what to do with a birthday in the middle of fall?  Well, up until now, he was young enough not to care about his birthday so we got away with having mac and cheese and the grandparents over for his 1st birthday (I was sick with morning sickness at that time so I don't feel too guilty) and when he turned two, we all flew to NY to celebrate with uncle Matthew (DOB 10/03).
But this year, Joseph's birthday party made such a big impression that we knew we had to do something that made Matthew feel honored.  I started wishing he had been born in the summer instead of the fall.  Stupid fall.  Impossible to hold a birthday party at home in the fall.  Stupid miniature apartment.  No space.  Humph.
Then this thought happened:  If Joe's birthday is all about summer, lemonade, hotdogs, corn on the cob, balloons, bubbles, baseball, jumpropes, etc. then Matthew's should embrace autumn.  Apples!  Pumpkins!  Lanterns!  Fire!  FIRE! (I was heavily criticized for the amount of fire hazards at the party by an unnamed husband.  No one was injured, and children were awed, so there.)
Dear Matthew, the most magical two-about-to-be-three-year-old anyone has ever met.  The party needed to be at home.  It wouldn't be as special if it wasn't.  So we put the couch in the hall and told people, "if you need to use the bathroom, just walk over the couch," and tried to create a forest inside the apartment.  I covered the windows with leaves that Matthew and Danny and I collected and we borrowed branches from our neighbors yard.  The pictures don't fully capture how magical the apartment looked.  You had to stoop down to walk through the doorway, otherwise you'd get a branch in the eye.  We covered the bookshelf and the toy shelf with fabric and brought in the kids table for making carameled apples.  I made each kid a lantern out of watercolor paper and sewed a little gnome or fairy to hide inside.  Then, after we served dinner and ate pumpkin cupcakes I did a puppet play that went like this (from The Birthday Book):
Once upon a time there were two angels who lived up in heaven.  They were best friends and spent all their time together and told each other all their secrets.  One day, the first angel had exciting news to tell:  "Today is the day that I must go over the rainbow bridge to make my way in the world.  Will you walk a little way with me to keep me company and will you watch over me while I am on earth?"  The second angel said, "Yes, I will."  So the two walked together.  When they got half way over the bridge, the first angel gave his wings to the second angel, and when that happened, he was no longer an angel, he was a boy.  The second angel said "You will be gone for a long time but I will watch over you.  Take this gift, it will help you to remember the happy times we have had together."  The boy looked in the bag that the angel had given him and inside were many treasures from heaven.  "Thank you, these are beautiful treasures."  Said the boy.
So the boy crossed over the rainbow bridge and came down to a beautiful valley with a glittering stream.  Just then a gnome appeared.  "Hello," he said.  "What a beautiful place this is!" Said the boy, "may I paddle in this stream?"  "That's what it's there for!" said the gnome.  So the boy put down his bag of treasures and jumped into the sparkling water.  As he was splashing he noticed a path on the other side of the stream, so he crawled out on the bank and followed the path, forgetting all about his bag of treasures.  The gnome picked up the bag and put it deep inside his cave to keep it safe.
The little boy followed the path for a long time until he came to a house.  Outside the house were a kind man and woman who said, "Welcome!  We have been waiting for you and have everything prepared for you!" and they named the boy Matthew (at this point, the storyteller unexpectedly becomes verklempt.)  So Matthew lived with his mother and father and his two brothers Joseph and Daniel and their dog Moe.
One morning Matthew woke up and his mother said, "Today is a special day.  Today you are three years old.  You may have a party and invite your friends."  So they got ready for a party and at 5:30, there was a knock on the door and in walked Sawyer and Keaton, then there was another knock and in walked Rosie and Johnny and Jo-Jo, then there was another knock at the door and in walked Max. Then the party began and the children made carameled apples and ate dinner and Matthew opened his presents.  Then the party was over but Matthew was perplexed, "All my friends have brought me gifts but I have nothing to give them."  The birthday fairy overheard Matthew and flew to his ear and said, "What about the bag of treasures?  Shall I go to the gnome and retrieve them?"  And Matthew said, "Yes please!"  So the fairy brought the bag of treasures and Matthew looked inside.  He reached in and pulled out a piece of a rainbow (a mother-of-pearl bead) and called to his friend Sawyer and gave it to her.  He reached in and pulled out a sunbeam and gave it to Keaton etc. etc. etc.  (the other gifts were a moonbeam, the tail of a shooting star, a feather from an angel's wing, a raindrop, and an angel's bell, all of the gifts were from the bead store.)  Then after he had given each of his friends a gift he looked in the bag and saw one more thing.  He took it out and the birthday fairy said, "That is a star to shine over you as you make your way in the world.  Matthew put the star around his neck.  (The star was a beautiful venetian glass gold star bead.)  FIN.
I suspected that the kids would like the puppet play, but I didn't expect that they would be so charmed and delighted with their "heavenly gifts." It was very sweet.  Then we put on some warm duds and went out to light the sky lanterns, and do some jump-roping until it was dusk, then we walked down to the river with the lanterns.  Chris and I had made some paper boats with beeswax candles in the center (also from The Birthday Book, although the directions were in the true, totally unclear, Waldorf style, we eventually figured them out, ) and I brought those down in a basket, covered so the kids wouldn't see them.  When we got down to the river I uncovered them and the kids carefully picked the one they wanted and we lit them and sent them slowly down the river (Chris waited for them round the bend so they could be returned to the kids and we wouldn't be littering.)  Only one boat didn't survive, the rest came out pretty well.
Then we all headed back and the party was over.  I knew we had done well when my Mom told me that on the way back home she overheard Matthew say to himself, "I LOVE this."
Happy Birthday Matthew.  We love YOU.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Boys watch Maru

So, I let the boys watch this today:

And this was their reaction:

I wish I had had the camera earlier, but I got the tail end of them laughing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

This morning...

Joe:  Mom, there's still something babyish about me because when I hold your hair I feel comforted.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pretzels, And The End of the Garden

So happy to have Chris home today, his last day off for a while.  We took full advantage, brunch with friends, putting the garden to bed for winter and making pretzels.  The boys have been getting along unusually well.  I'm trying not to focus on the fact that October is quickly approaching which means q4 on-call for Chris.  Luckily we also have Halloween, Mattie's birthday and lots of baked goods to forward to.

Worker bees.

They were gobbled up pretty much right away.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Frog Catchers

Went on our regular walk with the neighbors to the Metropark where I like to go to pretend exercise.  The kids bike ahead and Ann and I hang back with Danny in the stroller.  Matthew is able to keep up pretty well on his like-a-bike.  We usually come around a bend in the path to find the bikes abandoned and the kids exploring something or someplace they've found.  Today we stopped for a snack by the river and the kids went crazy finding slow, ready-to-hibernate frogs.  They were slow enough for Matthew to catch them, which he found so thrilling that his hands shook.  Joe accidentally dropped one on Danny which Danny found very upsetting and after that he decided he would enjoy frogs from a distance.  There were so many good pictures, here are just a few...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Apple Talking

I finally bought an apple machine after wanting one for years.  Matthew loves it even more than I expected and peels at least two apples a day.  I'm going to set it up permanently for the season so he can use it whenever he wants to and we're planning on apple picking soon, so there'll be plenty of opportunity.  I see a lot of apple sauce in our future.  

I love this thing.  It works so smoothly and every time Matthew uses it, EVERY TIME, he says:  "Are you ready apple?  Yup, I'm ready!"

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Berry Picking

I couldn't believe it when I saw Chris' car coming down the driveway at 3:30 today!  His neonatal resuscitation blah-bibitty-blah-blah thing got out early.  I think we used the bonus time wisely, I quickly ran to the farmer's market for more beets (there were none so I got cukes instead,) and then when Danny woke up, we were off to pick raspberries.
Everyone's ready to go.
I love it that Danny asked for a bucket too.  I think he put in three berries.
Little Danny picking.

We now have 10 jars of raspberry jam!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Canning: Not as hard as you would think.

Chris had the weekend off and so I entered "CAN TOMATOES" on the calendar.  The boys took down the garden as this was probably one of the last warm weekends this year.  It was a very wholesome two days and I'm glad we made the most of Chris' days off (it was a real treat to have him for two days, IN A ROW!)  Canning provided a nice rhythm for the day and we went back and forth from the garden to packing tomatoes, although Joe lost interest in canning pretty quickly.  The boys were mostly interested in seeing what they could pick up with the jar grabber.  I thought they would like cramming the tomatoes in the jar, but oh well.
60 Pounds of tomatoes from the Ann Arbor farmer's market.
Army of mason jars.
The set-up.

Danny discovered a love for wheel barrows.
I am hoping to take the boys raspberry picking this week if their colds improve and would like to take another stab at raspberry jam.  Tomorrow, BEETS!  And maybe a trip to the hardware store to get Danny a kid-sized wheelbarrow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why Yes, I DO Live in a One Bedroom Apartment...

...That is why Danny sleeps in a laundry room (Thank God there is a laundry room).  We recently took down the shelves that were above his crib and made an effort to make it more bedroomy and less I-guess-we-can-stick-the-baby-in-here-ish.
You might not even know this is the laundry room!
I put up some of Joe's artwork from last year's Kindergarten and the counting bird cards I got when Joe was a baby.

I finally had the energy to put up this "curtain" when my mom was here (I had been wanting to put it up for a long time.)

What's behind the curtain?  Laundry of course, this is a laundry room after all.

We have to do the best with what we have, and I think this is the best we can do for now.  It's a good lesson for the boys.  Plus, I think it looks quite sweet.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bedtime Overhaul

Last month I realized that bedtime had been sucking really hard.  It was rushed, tense and hectic, often involving tears.  The first step I took to address this was my own attitude.  Why does bedtime have to suck?  Why can't it be a lovely part of the day that everyone enjoys, looks forward to even?  (I admit to looking forward to bedtime, but for the wrong reasons.)  I personally enjoy going to bed; when I've reached the point in the evening when I decide to turn in, put on cozy pajamas, get into my cozy bed, read something that I've been looking forward to reading.  It should, and can, be that way for the boys too!  So I started putting a positive spin on the bedtime tasks.  Instead of "put your jammies on NOW, this is the last time I am going to ask." I've been saying (and believing, because you can't fake it with these guys,) "Oh yes!  It's going to feel so good to put on those cozy jammies!" and instead of, "It's time to get in bed, HURRY!" it's been, "Oooooh!  It's going to feel so good to snuggle up in bed after such a busy day."  After about a week of "The Change", I can't say they share the exact same sentiment, but they really do seem less resistant to bedtime.  Last week Joe and I had this exchange:
Me:  It's almost time to get ready for bed.
Joe:  I hate going to bed.
Me:  But it's so cozy and we get to have story time!
Joe:  Welllll...  I do like that part.

Another thing I did was make bedtime bags (from The Creative Family):

I got the super cute cloud flannel sheet for a dollar on my Super Saturday Thrift Store Outing with my awesome neighbor, Ann, and the ribbon was left-over from Joe's birthday.

The book says they "help ease the transition to bedtime" and the boys have really liked them.  I put their pajamas in there right out of the dryer and they choose a bedtime book sometime during the day, put it in their bag and it's there waiting for them when bedtime comes.  Matthew in particular likes the anticipation of getting to read the book he has chosen.  Plus, no more, "Are there any jammies in the drawer?  Are there any in the clean laundry pile?  ARE THEY ALL DIRTY???"  Now, they just reach in and there they are!
I also clipped some children's poems about bedtime, nighttime, sleeping etc to a ribbon and hung that in the bathroom.  I read them during toothbrushing and I think they get us in the mood.
The last thing I do of course, is try to start as early as possible, 6:15 even.  It's been going well, so much better than a month ago.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Calder Dairy

The big excitement this week was the quart of chocolate milk I ordered from the dairy as a surprise for the boys.  It was waiting on the porch when we got home from dropping Joe at school and Matthew and I had to "practice using our patience" while we waited for Joe to be home so we could share it together.  I was a moment that made me glad we try to make the boys life as simple and boring as possible.  They were so excited!