Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

To tide you over until I get the blog updated for the past week:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"More, Please"

We've suddenly turned a corner with the signing process! A few days ago, Justin figured out how to clap. Since then, he's discovered that signing for "More" is a very similar gesture! So far he has "puff (Cereal)", "More", "Milk" and "Up" down consistently. It's an exciting development, and it means that more and more signs are right around the corner!

What would I do without my assistant 'trainer'?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

We found a new pick-your-own pumpkin patch in Woodbury this year. It is actually fairly close to our house. After a long Saturday of errands and visiting family & friends we made it there just before closing time. We had just enough time for Alexandra to pick "the perfect pumpkin" .... and one not-so-perfect one that we 'rescued' for a reduced price. This was a great find-- a family-owned patch (read: field next to a house that someone decided to sow pumpkins in) with a money stand in the garage and close-out prices!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mastering the spoon

Justin has started using his spoon. Hooray!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leaf Shower

This photo pretty much sums it all. We joined Emma and Megan at a park in Bloomington for a fantastic playdate filled with leaf-throwing on a cool morning. Justin enjoyed playing 'peek-a-boo' and trying to keep up with the big girls while they built nests, played house and giggled.... a lot. After a great morning we came home and made some hearty warm vegetable soup for dinner. Have I mentioned that I love fall?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Importance of Warmth

Warmth is a very important part of the Waldorf philosophy. Not only emotional warmth for your child, but physical warmth as well. The young child is unable to regulate their body temperature, so we have to be conscious of warmth for them (See this article for a more in-depth explanation). If you're running short on time, it basically boils down to this (simple) point: a warm child is a happy, well-adjusted child.
We've done a good job with layers and long underwear, quality hats and outerwear for Alex, but hadn't yet really thought about pajamas for the kids. We can't give Justin a blanket yet, so investing in a good pair of wool pajamas seemed like the way to go. Doing some research online, I found quite a few testimonials that claimed babies slept through the night when they started wearing merino wool pajamas. A bit doubting, but willing to give it a try, I ordered a pair from Cambridge Baby and anxiously awaited their arrival. All I have to say is that for the past two weeks, Justin has slept through the night. Period. No wake-ups. He is warm and comfy. I am relishing a full night's sleep!

I ordered two more pairs-- one more for Baby J (just to have an 'extra pair' in case I have to launder one) and a pair of Alex. She absolutely loves them as well. We got rid of all our polyester fleece ones (she was sweating and then getting chilled-- alternately too hot and too cold) and she basically wears hers every night. I wish I would have known four years ago! It feels a bit strange to only have one pair of pajamas in the drawer, but it is definitely in line with our Simplicity Parenting strategy....makes it quite easy to get our jammies on for the night!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Our Story Table

Inspired by an empty space (we have retired our fishtank....although many valiant efforts were taken to keep its watery inhabitants alive, we failed on all counts), I thought about this post on Rhythm of the Home (one of my fav. blogs) a few weeks ago. Yesterday Alex and I created a 'Story Table' in the library.The plan is to keep each 'story' up for a few weeks (maybe a month) in order to completely involve ourselves in the world we've created. Then, in a joint effort, we will select the book for the next month and spend a week or so gathering and crafting props to help us tell the story.This month is "The Three Bears". I made a Story Table book holder to house one of our favorite versions, and Alex and I set out to find three chairs (wooden spools), three beds (quickly cut felt pieces), a table (stone), the three bears (Mama-made from about a year and a half ago!), and Goldilocks (one of Auntie Rorie's old dollies). We found a strip of felt roving for a river (although then we found our blue playsilk) and brought the wooden bridge up from the dollhouse in the playroom. The table is high enough that The Boy can't get to the little things on top of it (for now), so we were able to pull off little pinecone scraps to make spoons and use small pieces of felt for plates. We take turns telling and 'acting' the story-- sometimes adding 'other parts' (Goldilocks had a "mom who took care of her" for a while yesterday, as well as a horse and a lamb).Happy storytelling!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Justin and his new pillow

Yep. That's Percival-- he doesn't look the happiest, but let me assure you he was purring up a storm as Justin manhandled him. I can't get over how utterly loveable and friendly these cats are. They have adapted so well to life with not one, but two kids in the house. The Boys turned 9 this past September, and I can't even imagine life without our furrly little buddies.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Perfect Day

Despite the fact that it is MEA vacation (public school kids have the day off), we decided to brave the Minnesota Zoo for a visit. I figured that it was chilly enough in the early hours to keep most wimps away (my kids are always up for putting on their long underwear and taking a walk in the brisk weather--) and I was right!I also found out that Justin is officially a zoo FAN! He's finally old enough to really be interested, and excited, about the different animals. He thoroughly enjoyed the snow monkeys and penguins (where he got a really up-close encounter). The penguins were a delight-- interacting with the kids on the other side of the glass. Alex 'led' one around, and giggled with pleasure as he followed her fingertips. It was an absolutely perfect day-- my children were pleasant and there was NO whining, even when it was time for us to head home. Because of their exemplary behavior we ended up spending just about five hours there. Alex got to play and explore (and try to climb up the walls of the sand pit), Justin got to check out the new baby 'honeybee' room (with big sister leading the way), and we got to see the HUGE pumpkins that were grown on the farm. What a lovely day to just be together and truly enjoy each other's company. I am a lucky Mama.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lap Loom

It's been fairly gray and icky out, so while Alex still goes out to play, the neighbor kids are staying in. Thus, she ends up coming in earlier than normal. I found a lap loom tucked away in my 'rainy day project' stash (actually my earlier 'Mama's nursing Justin, why don't you try .....' stash). I gave her a few instructions, but basically let her at it. Although she wasn't weaving the 'right' way (she cut as much yarn as she wove), she worked very, very hard for a very, very long time, and she was quite proud of her progress.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bulb Baby

Alex did not have school today (parent-teacher conferences), so after a leisurely morning of playing at home, we headed to the park. As you can tell from the photos, it's finally fall here! There's a nice chill in the air, and we get to wear all our warm wooly goodies! After swinging and playing in the woodchips, we returned home to plant a bulb 'baby' that Miss Brenda gave Alex. We found the perfect spot in Al's 'fairy bulb garden' and dug a deep, soft, warm bed for the baby to sleep in until spring.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wedding Time

One of Alex's school friends was a flower girl in a wedding this past summer, so, naturally, the kids have been playing 'wedding' nonstop-- and the play has overflowed into our own basement. Auntie Carrie was over on Tuesday (hip hip hooray-- she's going to try and come over for playtime/dinner every Tuesday-- what a great family rhythm!), and was a great wedding guest. So was Huxley. Did I mention everyone has to get dressed to the nines? :-)

The weddings consist of picking a bride and a groom-- most likely stuffed animals, but sometimes Justin gets in on the action, getting dressed up, watching the bride & groom dance and listening to a 'speech' read by Alex-- normally it goes something like this: "thank you for coming to our wedding. You may go home after the feast." :-)

Huxley in his yellow sparkly cravat. Would you believe he stuck around and got dressed in three different outfits? other parts of the playroom

Justin has mastered the art of climbing up the slide. And onto the block table. And pretty much anywhere his little legs can take him. And he's usually holding on to something (ball, clothespin, etc) in his mouth. Alex thinks it's hilarious to have her very own 'puppy dog boy'.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Right in our Backyard

I was shocked to discover that we've been missing a great little forested area, within walking distance to our house. We drive past the entrance to this pathway every day.....multiple TIMES every day....and today was the first time we decided to check it out. In our defense, it is right off of a very busy road, so I assumed that it was just a little 10 foot jog through 'the woods' before it entered subdivision property again, but I was wrong! It's not vast, but a quarter mile is about all we need to stretch our legs and breathe in some nature without even getting in the car!Alex enterained Justin by throwing leaves.....repeatedly. She also stated that they were also fun to "Scuffle Through". Next year at this time we'll have two scufflers.On the way to the 'forested path'. Nature-collecting basket in hand

Justin and Tiger

Justin received this darling tiger from Aiden and Olivia a few months ago, and it has quickly become one of his favorite little friends. Whenever we put J in 'the petting zoo', the first place he heads is his Tiger's basket for a quick snuggle.On a completely separate topic: Where did my little baby go??

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Happy, Happy Birthday Emma!

After the first party, we ALL attended Emma's 4th birthday Oz (Michael's craft room-- so much fun!). Alex was so excited to wear her costume, and had the entire thing on...until she spied another party guest in a pink princess dress. She quickly became self-conscious and took off her awesome Munchkin hat....couldn't be coaxed to put it back on, even for a group photo. Dave and I just didn't make much fuss about it, but it broke our hearts!Anyway...she had a great time, even without her headdress. The kids carefully decorated photo boxes with paint, jewels and Wizard of Oz stickers. Justin, or The Cowardly Lion, enjoyed some snacks and was surprisingly not fussy for a kid who was at his second birthday party of the day! Alex was excited for Emma to open her present-- a quilt for her special lovey, Monks, that Alex meticulously chose each piece of fabric for. It had been in the works for months!

Happy, Happy Birthday Emma! Thanks so much for inviting us to your party!

Happy Birthday, Anora!

Justin's friend Anora celebrated her 1st birthday this afternoon. He got to attend the party and had quite a good time hobnobbing with the guests and playing with Anora's toys. He was very interested in the present-opening (tissue paper) portion of the party....soon enough, young man, soon enough! Happy Birthday Anora!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Lullabye League Munchkin

Emma's birthday follows Alex's in our yearly schedule of events, and she is having a Wizard of Oz party. Her invitation said to dress like your favorite character. I thought that I'd be bringing Dorothy (or Glinda) to the party. Nope. Alex was actually quite concerned that if she were Dorothy, there would be two Dorothys at the party. This was a problem that no four year old was ready to face. She went to bed worrying about the fact that there is only ONE Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz (despite my assurances that it would be ok). A week or so ago she woke up and ran into our room to tell me that she figured out the Dorothy problem. She would be a munchkin instead, because nobody else would be one. Specifically a Lullabye League Munchkin. So.....we had a pink leotard from gymnastics class, a pink tutu and tights from ballet. We had a pair of pink shoes from her birthday last year, but we needed to make a ridiculous Munchkin hat. To Jo-Anns, and then the studio! Alex and I whipped this up during one of Justin's naps. She was so pleased with the results that she wore it all day long. I'm absolutely loving my newfound hat skills!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Picnic in the Basement

Because of all the hubub last week/end, we decided to spend Thursday completely at home today. As a surprise I brought down a picnic (pasta, green beans and a banana) to the playroom for lunch. All in all it was a success....even if most of our food and utensils eventually ended up on Alex's table because Baby Godzilla- err... Justin- was in destructo-mode.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

When can we go home?

Justin and I took the cats to the vet this morning for their annual check up (and son is still in his pajamas....I offer no apologies for running a bit behind schedule :-) They were declared "gorgeous" and the vet said that both boys had reached their optimal weight (hooray!! Huxley has had a bit of a weight issue over the past 9 years). Justin was the perfect attendee-- interested in all that was happening, but content to sit in his stroller. Now, trying to get all three back in the car at the end of the trip was another story altogether.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Post-Party Letdown

Wow. We ALL needed a break post-party....which is why I have no photos for Sunday or Monday. We slowly (and tearfully, in Alex's case) said our goodbyes to our family. Thank you all so much for making this a very memorable birthday! We took some deep breaths, did a bit of tidying (although our guests made sure to leave the house in spotless condition!), and played with some new toys. I felt we still needed some 'decompression time' on Monday, so I kept Alex home from school and we just relaxed back into normalcy. Sewing on her new machine from GranMama and GranPapa. She's been quite busy, taking orders and 'making' dresses for all her dolls....and me and Justin. I think she'll be ready for a real machine soon!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Alex's 4th Birthday Party

Link to full video - Note, there are highlights :).

Bunny Picnic Party

Alex was very specific when she picked the theme of the party (about 3 months ago). She wanted a "Bunny Picnic Party" here's my best attempt. We invited some of her little friends (and a few of their siblings) to the Giggle Factory. The only downside of the party was that we couldn't begin until 4:30pm. This is a bit on the late side for preschoolers, especially ones coming from far off places like Shakopee and Eden Prairie (thanks for making it, Melissa and Megan!). The up side was that we had the entire place to ourselves. We could bring in anything we wanted and make it 'our' party. Alex had a fantastic time-- Dave posted the video of the entire party (we had the iPad set up to record), but here are some still shots to enjoy. Happy Birthday, my precious 4 year old!

We got our cake from Dorothy-Ann Bakery. They did a fantastic job, given that this was their first 'bunny picnic party' themed cake. :-)