Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Preparations and Parties

We've been getting ready for Halloween.  The blocks may not have gotten put away but I guess Catherine did:
 These blocks are some of my favorite toys.  Not only are they super sturdy and great for imaginative play, they were my dad and his sibling's toys.  They must have been better about putting them away than my kiddos.  Grandma loved to tell me the story that she "told the kids to clean up their toys and they didn't so she chucked one in the fire.  They always cleaned up after that".   Last week we had our preschool halloween party.  The kiddos made treats for their parents:
 Had a halloween parade:
And performed some songs.  I think I screwed up the instructions because these witches turned out far creepier than I'd expect for a preschool craft:
 Matthew's been preparing for Uncle Matt's visit by incessantly taking pictures with my phone.  I'll spare you the 34 photos I just downloaded of the crab table, but every once in a while he takes one that's almost a keeper:
 And while we have plenty of space for Uncle Matt in the guest room, the kids seem to be ready for bunk beds as they have been playing "naptime" during play time.  You can take a wild guess what they like to do during naptime then . . .
 We had a very busy weekend.  Matthew took his final swim lesson for this session and headed off for a "costume" birthday party, giving him the chance to wear his outfit again and continue to crack me up as he stomped around in a chaotic game of 3 year old "duck, duck, goose" or as it maybe should be called "run, run, scream."

The clouds were ominous when we picked up Uncle Matt from the airport but he landed safe and sound and was greeted by two silly monsters.  We didn't even let him get settled before we let Matthew lead him around the hay maze.  Being comfortable with the whole maze concept from last week, Matthew tackled the big maze with wild abandon.  Even when we hit a dead end.
He literally tried to push through.
Matthew had so much fun the first time we did it again, though at the very end Uncle Matt found a very easy way to "help" Matthew lead us through a little faster.  His sugar fueled energy just couldn't last forever.
When we finished the first time he darted to the little maze announcing: "I want to run.  You chase me Uncle Matt" and Uncle's can't say no can they?
 As we headed over to buy tickets for a train ride, Uncle Matt decided he needed to start the spoiling process, and being a good uncle of course picked the messiest of options with blue cotton candy:

 Matthew took on the corn bin again:
 While Catherine just wanted to chill:
 And then she pointed and shreiked at the corn bin so Uncle Matt put her in.  This was only a ruse for her to get some time to practice climbing in and out of things which is her new favorite hobby.  It's mildly cute here and mildly annoying pretty much everywhere else (except the bathtub where it is super annoying!):
 We sent the boys off on the train ride to end a very fun afternoon:
When we arrived home we found a box of goodies from Amma, including this awesome hat made by her good friend Debbie.  Catherine loves it!
We also had very important pumpkin work to do:
The kids painted their pumpkins while we carved and scooped.  I left the option open for carving their pumpkins post-painting,
But the paint was so thick we had a long time to wait.
And the finished products:

From left to right: Matthew, Heather, Matt, James and Catherine

We never made it back to carve the kiddos but we did take the delicious seeds out and have enjoyed them all week.  Matthew is very proud of his pumpkins.  This afternoon our neighbor came over to play.  As we left her house she announced "I love my mama so much."  Matthew added "I made a pumpkin and I love it.  I show you."

After pumpkins we took a last minute trip to the museum to check out the new building/furniture exhibits.  Catherine enjoyed helping Uncle Matt build:
The next day we had our second halloween party with our Moms Club friends.  First Uncle Matt had to round up the monsters (no proton pack needed this time):
And then we headed to the library.  Uncle Matt has impeccable timing as this is the second time he's come to visit and the second time he's helped me set up or tear down the library meeting room.  However, after I put him to work it was all fun making snack necklaces:
Decorating trick or treat bags:
And doing a little dancing:
And some hanging out with her favorite ghostbuster!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Watsons Home Makeover Edition

One of the joys of toddlerhood is the influx of arts and crafts and creations of all ilks.  When Matthew went to daycare we actually didn't have that much coming in because Matthew only went twice a week and it seemed they did a lot of outdoor walking/exploration/play on the days he went and most of their arts/crafts on the days we weren't there.  However our small collection started to get a little large for my liking and began taking over the fridge and flat surfaces of the house.  I knew I wanted a "dedicated" area in the house for kid art and after some "pinspiration" came to putting this up.  Here it was when I first installed it (many, many months after purchasing the materials of course).  From where I stand most of the time in the kitchen it's kind of off to the side in a corner.  However, I realized today it's really one of the first things you see when you come in the front door.  
And here's how it has ballooned in the past 3 weeks after some arts and crafts with Ed and Georgina and with our new preschool co-op.  
Funny story: For the past month Matthew has been going to co-op preschool in the morning and his normal school/daycare in the afternoon while I finished out at work.  I've been excited because with his new preschool he's been doing lots of fun arts and crafts.  The other week the preschool co-op theme was "the earth" and they talked about litter and made a litter "project" i.e. trash glued to paper.  Fun but not something I'm dying to put up on the art wall and brag about per se.  That day when I went to pick him up from his other daycare (where he's probably made less than 10 projects in the past year) I noticed all these ADORABLE Halloween projects with footprint ghosts on pumpkins.  Ms. Melissa says to me "let me go get his project" and I was so pumped.  Then she remembered "oh yeah, he wasn't here for that".  Womp. Womp.  

It's okay, we've been working on our own Halloween crafts here.  I first created a 3 eyed monster 
But he got a little wild so I had to disassemble him.  Catherine however was all business and got straight to work on her pumpkin:
And we put them all together on our coke bottle shelf with some votive holders we decoupaged and white pumpkins we decorated.  Matthew's is the top shelf, Catherine's the middle and mine are on the bottom.  
And some fun free form monsters from playgroup the other day:
 And some face tattooing while we're at it:
 We also redecorated downstairs with some rare earth magnets.
Attractive huh?  :-)  Actually, I discovered a very old school (yet superior) way of marking the studs in our walls.  We've been through a few stud finders and they always seem to indicate that our studs are 5 inches wide and 2 or 27 inches apart.  After having a series of pencil marks on the wall I did some googling for new ideas and tried this.  These magnets were far more reassuring that yes, we could be a screw in the vertical line, which was important because it was time to mount our TV again (unfortunately our first attempt ended up too high and we have yet to fix it): 
The blue table with crap on it needs to be replaced with an entertainment center of some sort.  I'm hoping to DIY one out of an old dresser or antique piece but I haven't found one yet that will serve the purposes needed (like hide the ridiculously awkward Wii drum set we keep moving around).  We moved the books upstairs into the master bedroom which made a huge difference in the feel of downstairs:
    This move was made possible by completely removing the "stage" from the basement the other week.  So far it's really opened up the room and we seem to be spending a lot more time down here.  We now need an entertainment center for our peripherals and have about 55 million coffee table type pieces that need to be refinished but it's improving every day.   The current layout also works really well for preschool.  We do lessons, stories and calendar infront of the couch, leaving a good amount of separation from the toys and distractions.  Then the little table gets moved into open area for distraction-free group projects/art and back for trains and free play.  

In other excitement James and I picked up my early Christmas present :-)  I've had my eye on some signs from this craft booth ever since I tabled near her at the farmer's markets this season.  I couldn't commit to a word or sentiment (though I'd love to get the kiddos names for their doors one day) but when I found this one it was perfect!  Fall and fun and a great reminder above our coat rack as we hang up our coats after an adventure.  
Our home improvement hasn't been limited to inside, we raked up the leaves (in our front yard at least) just before the snow fell!  Catherine did an amazing job considering we only gave her a tiny shovel!
Well, at least she did an amazing job emptying the bins for us.  Matthew clearly disapproves:

It's okay, she had a plan at least:
 And Matthew literally jumped right in:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fall Traditions

I'm not big on picking a "favorite" season, but their are distinct moments in each season that make me giddy beyond belief.  For fall, it's the golden hour of sunlight in the afternoon reflecting and brightening the yellows of the hayfields and fall leaves against a brilliant blue sky.

It's the crispness in the air requiring a sweater and hat (and cup of coffee) but the bright sun that warms your face.  Though these days are getting few and far between we've had some great ones recently and have been busy exploring some of the best fall events Bozeman has to offer.  First we headed over to the Hay Maze.  We didn't make it last year (the maze actually caught on fire filling the city with tons of smoke before we were able to go) but we had enjoyed it in the past.  This time Matthew was big enough to tackle the maze (with help of course!) and we met up with some friends for the afternoon.   Matthew mostly had fun running around and over the bales with his friends but I did convince him to pause for a picture or two:
This was about as cooperative as the kids got for a photo.  The rest of the time Catherine was busy licking her pumpkin and Matthew was watching the train behind him.  In fact, he was pretty disappointed when I didn't get the train in the picture.
Matthew was a little intimidated by the corn bin at first but as the place cleared out, Matthew decided to brave the bin, and then got even braver:

Last weekend we had quite the Saturday.  Matthew went to his third swimming lesson.  His recap was "I didn't cry and mommy be happy."  Matthew hasn't taken "swim lessons" since we took the parent-tot lessons two years ago.  
Swim lessons are one of the few lessons that I place a high priority on, especially at this age, so it was time to man up this fall and make time to do it.  The 3-4 year old classes do not involve parents.  Matthew has been great in other lesson situations thus far and started out pretty excited. Our first lesson went okay.  Matthew participated a bit but kept coming back to me and there were a few tears.  The second lesson pretty much drove me to drink.  He wouldn't participate and wouldn't even watch from the sideline without crying/screaming.  It was rough.  For our third lesson we went early and I got in the pool with him.

I ended up staying in the pool with him and gradually backing away as he participated with the teacher on his own.  Not ideal but there was no screaming and he got some swimming in.
Catherine is between taking 1 and 2 naps and the times vary wildly.  She just happened to take a crazy long morning nap so we got a late start heading out to pick out our pumpkins.

"Who Me?"
The whole faux pumpkin patch thing cracks me up as we take a hayride out to a field where a truck drops off pumpkins and spreads them out which seems like a very odd business model.  However, it sure is fun if not a very odd and off-base way to show kids a "farm".  I mean, there was a (delicious) crepes and gelato food truck there :-)  Catherine didn't want any photos taken of her dining though:
Here we are on the hayride:
 Matthew was pretty jazzed about using his (I couldn't make up half the stuff that comes out of his mouth if I tried) "big muscles and skills" to pick out pumpkins.

Catherine was in charge of watching the pumpkins as Matthew collected them:
And practiced standing: 
And falling for a while:
 Matthew meanwhile picked out another pumpkin:
 And when we finally convinced him he had to stop, he took to running through the pumpkins:
 Afterward we headed back to play in the hay bales and hay tunnel:
 Catherine wasn't nearly as impressed with the tunnel:
 But enjoyed the ladder and climbing around on top:

 If only to keep up with her big brother who has all of a sudden become Mr. Daredevil.
 Turns out we need another pumpkin for preschool this week so Matthew may have another opportunity or two to use his "muscles and skills" soon.  In the meantime they've been put to good work raking the yard and helping with other house projects to be shared soon :-)

And, if you saw this picture I shared on facebook it has been confirmed that yes, Uncle Matt and I were likely fighting over the pumpkin lid in this adorable picture:
Now I'll let you go back and guess how many of the photos in this post were taken just before a toddler fight :-)  I'm sure its higher than I'd like to admit!

Five on Friday

1.  Look at these winter white legs out enjoying the sunshine at the dino park.  Spring has FINALLY sprung! These boys went from winter di...