Sunday, July 27, 2008

FHE Website

I started a new blog to share FHE ideas. I plan on posting our activities each week. Feel free to take a look and use any ideas that are helpful for your toddlers and preschoolers. And feel free to comment on what you use or share your own ideas.

What did you do today?

When I was teaching kindergarten the kids defined their day by which special we had that day. When their parents asked them, "What did you do today?" the little darlings answered, "We had art" or "We had PE." Maybe even, "We played on the playground." But the stuff that I spent hours on preparing, the routine everyday procedures and lessons were never mentioned. It was always the "extraordinary" that was mentioned.

I feel like that is what we do (or at least I do on my blog). I blog about the out of the ordinary days like "blueberry picking" or "beach trips", without letting you my readers know what a normal day is like at our house. (If there is such a thing as normal with two little guys).

I try to spend a minimum of two or three days a week at home without running any errands or going on any playdates or outings. I feel like the boys really need the down time, and I really need time to take care of things at the house. So what do we do all day long when we don't have to do anything? I decided to take pictures of what life is like when it isn't a "special" day.

We eat breakfast, lunch and two snacks a day while Daddy is at work.

the boys play in the playroom while I straighten up the house

The boys help with chores (here is their favorite: laundry)

While Ryan takes his morning nap, Andrew and I do school. Here we have collected items from all over the house to represent each letter of the alphabet. He attached a clothespin with that letter written on it.

When Ryan wakes up, we go outside. We play in the sand box.

We play ball together.

Ryan likes to set the ball up for his big brother.

Andrew likes to throw bean bags at the fence.

Ryan likes to clean them up.

After story time, lunch, and naps, we watch a video. Then we do an art activity.

Ryan loves to paint.

The boys love to help me make dinner and get ready for Daddy to come home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cool Food Storage Website

How Long Could You Survive Trapped In Your Own Home?
Created by OnePlusYou

My cousin shared this on her blog and I thought it was great and quick reality check. I have a long ways to go until my year supply, but I am working on it. I am a little further along then I thought.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blueberry-ing With Boys

Andrew started off as a very helpful blueberry picker, then decided exploring the bushes was much more fun.

Ryan discovered that picking blueberries from a bucket is easier than...

picking them off of a bush with Daddy.

But it is the easiest of all when a friend feeds them to you!

"Wait a minute! That is my bucket!" -Ryan

Our family went blueberry picking Saturday morning. Rachel came with us, but Emily wasn't feeling well enough to join us. Even with three adults to the two boys, we only managed to bring home 2 gallons, but we had a great time. (We went to Recih's Blueberry Farm off of Ebert Street. They use organic farming methods and are working on certification. It was $6 a gallon). Andrew and Ryan enjoyed eating the blueberries. Ryan quickly discovered that it was much quicker to eat them from a bucket than to search for them from bushes. I am not sure how many he ate, but I do know that we will continue to enjoy the "end" result for days to come!

Sci Works

We went to Sciworks with some friends and my sisters this week. We had a blast. They have done some updating and the changes are really nice. It still can't compare to The Natural Science Museum in Greensboro, (they have tigers), but it is just a couple miles from our house, so I am not going to complain. We have a pass, so we can go all the time. It is a fun place to go for an hour or so after naps in the afternoon.

We have this great pass that allows us to get into all AZA cooperating zoos and all cooperating Science Museums in the country. A pass to Sciworks is over $100 for a family and the zoo pass is around $55 for a family. The Coyote Point Museum pass is $65 and allows you into zoos and museums! We have used it all over the state and out of state. The pass can be purchased at The lady I spoke with on the phone said that you get your passes quicker if you call. Coyote Point is located in California, but you do not need to be a resident of California to purchase or use one. You just have to have $65. So it would be a great deal no matter where in the USA you are reading my blog from. A lot of my friends and family use these passes now! It is well worth the price. As an added bonus, the nice man at the check-in desk at Sciworks shares all sorts of random, "interesting" facts about coyotes everytime I use the card.

Happy Boy!

I am a happy boy today! Why????

I am eating lunch with my daddy. Just me and my daddy. No mommy or "brr-brr." Just us two guys and our lunch boxes at Daddy's work. -Ryan

Sunday, July 13, 2008

2 Birthdays in One Day

Ok, it's my turn to write (from the mouth, or hands, rather, of Chad)

My mother and Danielle share the same birthday

2 women, 1 heart. Yes, it sounds sordid, but in truth it’s quite simple. I love my wife with all my heart. I love my mother with all my heart. As far as remembering important days, it’s quite convenient that they share the same birthday. (I swear this was not one of my criteria when evaluating eternal soulmate prospects, but nevertheless, a bonus.). Well, with my mother living in Switzerland right now, I don’t get to see her nearly enough, so I wanted to take a moment on her birthday to let her know how wonderful she is.

I’m so thankful to my mother for raising me so well. I know it’s a little presumptuous to say I turned out so well… but I figure my amazing wife would not have married me if I had not, and I give credit where credit is due. Thank you, Mom, for all your inexorable patience through the years, as I did so many stu... er... silly things. Thank you for telling me you loved me so many times, despite my insufferable flaws. Thank you for being there always, even if you would have rather been somewhere else to escape the insanity of 5 children… anywhere else. Thank you for giving your all even when it felt like you received so little in return. You truly have been an amazing influence on me for both good and… well, just for good. I love you, Mom, and Happy Birthday.

Love, Chad

Andrew Goes to Nana's

Alternatively Titled: Mommy has a Panic Attack.

Tonight, as we were eating my birthday dinner, Nana asked Andrew if he would like to go home with her. He excitedly replied, "Yes!" We explained it would be for a long time and that Mommy, and Daddy and Ryan would not be there. He didn't seem to mind. I told him he would be sleeping there. He was still excited.

So I packed him a clothes bag and he packed a bag full of trains and he was ready to go. He climbed right in the car seat, buckled himself up, and told Daddy to please shut the door because rain was getting on him.

Physically, this should be a big relief for me. It is 30 pounds less that I have to lift the next two days. Ryan takes two naps a day and so I will get more rest and maybe a few projects done. Andrew will have a really good time with his aunts and his Nana. All three of them love him and he adores them. He will get to go to the pool and to the park everyday. It is only until Wednesday morning. He is 3 1/2 and lots of kids his age spend time at their Nanas' homes.

Yes, I am trying to calm myself down. Why can't I let him go? Why am I sitting here blogging to pass the time until I get the call that they got there okay? Why do I have a terrible pain in the pit of my stomach and in my heart? Why is it he can happily wave good-bye, but my heart was breaking as he drove away? It is only 2 hours away. It isn't in another country or even another state for that matter. How did he know I was sad? I smiled and told him he'd have a good time. Any bets on how soon I drive to Ft. Bragg to get him? Will I last until Wednesday? Will I drive down tonight at 3am? Will I enjoy the time with one so much that he stays until Friday? (Okay, so we all know that won't happen)!

We Wish We Were Fish

Friends of ours generously invited us to use their pool while they were out of town. Andrew and Ryan had a blast swimming. Ryan did NOT want to use the baby float. He wanted to "swim"with the water noodles or nothing at all and laugh at the pretty girls who were also invited to use the pool. Andrew DID want to use the baby float and these lovely pink and purple water wings. He avoided most of the other kids there and did his own thing for hours without needing much attention from me. AMAZING!

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Oh, the lessons we are teaching are children. Here is a conversation that Andrew had with his daddy tonight while Chad installed three new light fixtures in our house. It was a very frustrating experience for Chad which required a great deal of patience and a trip to two hardware stores.

Andrew-Can I help?
Daddy-Actually it is really hard. I wish you could, but Daddy is having a really hard time.
Andrew-Daddy, I have an idea.
Daddy-What is it Andrew?
Andrew-If it is can just do something else.

So why have I read him The Little Engine that Could over 100 times?


Happy Fourth of July!

Trying to get the shot....

Oh well....

Check out Ryan's unique technique

Our smug little guy with ESP

The fireworks

Andrew holds the ear plugs in place

Ryan tries to reach them

sharing popcorn with family and friends
(side note: Andrew says when he turns 16 and can drive a car, he is going to this little girl's house. He says this often).

We had a cookout at the Westbrooks new place before heading to the fireworks.

I love the 4th of July and I love fireworks. (My sweet hubby does not love fireworks, but he humors me and goes with me every year). So after a fun day playing games at home with the boys we headed to a BBQ and fireworks with friends. Since we have lived here, we have tried several fireworks locations, but our favorite is hands-down, Shallowford Square in Lewisville. Lewisville is a very small suburb of Winston-Salem. Their little town square feels a little bit like Stars Hollow (for you Gilmore fans). During the summer they hold outdoor musicals, concerts, and movie nightsin the square. On the Fourth they have a live band, playground, a firetruck for the kids to climb inside, and the biggest display in the area. I think it rivals that of Ft. Bragg's. It is phenomenal! So that is where we headed this year. We parked a few blocks up and walked to the square. We set up chairs and blankets and brought cookies and popcorn to share. Five other families from the ward joined us. It was even more fun with so many friends.

Andrew was so excited to see so many friends, but he was mostly excited about the fire truck. On the way there he told us that he was going to play on the fire truck. We spent a very long time explaining to him that we were going to see fire WORKS not fire TRUCKS. I think he finally understood. So, what was the first thing we see when we set up our chairs? A Lewisville firetruck set up for children to have their picture taken in! How did he know?!?!? So of course, we looked like we didn't know what we were talking about! We had to literally pry his hands off the steering wheel. He asked the fireman for the keys. When it was time for the fireworks, he sat him my lap, put on his ear plugs, and told me the color of each explosion. He seemed to like them, but they couldn't compete with the truck! At least he wasn't scared like he was last year.

Ryan on the other hand was mesmerized by the fireworks. He was speechless. He kept his mouth wide open and kept grabbing at the sky. He would clap his hands when they were especially big. Then when they were over he started to sign "more." He kept staring up at the sky while we packed up, wishing they would return.

(I have more pics of some of the friends who were there, but I didn't post the ones of friends who I didn't know if they had blogs. I know some people would rather not have their pics online. So if you were there and you would like me to send the ones of you to you, let me know).

Play Dough Cookies - 4th of July

My cousin shared this fun recipe on her blog, and we decided to try it with 4th of July colors. We made them together to have as a treat at our American Themed Family Home Evening this week. They were a lot of fun to make with Andrew. They really do look like play dough as you are making them and you roll them out like you are making snakes and spirals. (Luckily they taste like shortbread and not play dough). Andrew keeps asking to make them again! Now you can make them, too!

Andrew loves to crack eggs! (He does a great job, No shells)!

We always mix the dry ingredients together in a plastic bag. It makes it fun to shake. (and keeps Andrew from sampling the flour....gross)!

Andrew checks out the dough.

Rolling out the snakes.

Ready for the oven

Made in America!

Play Dough Cookies
3/4 C butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla extract
2 and 3/4 C flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
assorted food coloring (gel or paste works best)

1. In a bowl cream butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

2. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture. Stir until soft dough forms. Divide dough into Fourths. Tint each with a different food coloring. Wrap in plastic and chill for two hours. (I stuck it in the freezer for 15 minutes because I hate to wait!)

3. Preheat oven to 350. Shape colors into 3/4 inch balls. For each cookie place one pink, one orange, one green, and one blue ball together and roll to make one giant ball. Roll into a 12 inch long snake, and then starting at one end coil roll to make a cookie. Place cookies 2 to 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet to allow for spreading.

4. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Our Goofy Guy

Up to recently, Ryan has been a pretty low-key, mellow sort of fellow. Well that is changing! He is turning from our "go with the flow," "Thanks for noticing me" little guy to our goofy guy. He is hilarious. This week's newest game? Wearing his brother's underwear! Over his clothes. He did it first on Sunday.

Then when I was folding clothes on Tuesday, he picked up a pair of Andrew's underwear and brought them to me. "Thank you." I said and put them back on the couch where I was folding clothes. "A-A-A." (translated: "Hey, I wanted those!). He climbed up onto the couch and tried to put the underwear on his feet. So I helped him put them on. Next he brought me one of Andrew's pajama tops. I helped him put that on. Then he grabbed a pair of his jammie shorts. "Hat." he said. "No, pants." I replied. ""Hat, hat, hat, hat, hat!" he demanded in a very enthusiastic voice as he placed them on his head. So, what could I do but help him wear them as a hat. Ryan patted his head and laughed hysterically. "Hat, hat, hat," he giggled, beaming with pride. He is one silly kid. (I think he looks a little like a house elf from Harry Potter).