Wednesday, July 20, 2011


You wouldn't have known it considering the depressive heat that has plagued us for the past several days, but last week we had two really beautiful days. Mother Nature gave us a bit of a reprieve from the confines of our home (although it still wasn't quite nice enough to turn off the A/C...and when it's 99 degrees with a heat index of 115 degrees, the confines of home aren't so bad!) and the boys and I were able to stretch our legs outside - which is exactly where two growing boys need to be!

Wednesday of last week, the temperature peaked at 80 degrees. Lovely! In between Craft Wednesday and quiet time, we stayed outside as much as we could. We went for a walk in the morning, then spent the afternoon spinning our wheels (I'm hilarious!) in the church parking lot.

A little basketball, too.

We went for another walk Thursday morning (another 80 degree day), but we jazzed it up a bit with an outdoor scavenger hunt. I have been trying to figure out exactly what kind of hunt I could put together for the boys when I spied this free printable online. It was perfect - exactly what I was looking for and I didn't have to do the work! Bonus!

I supplied both boys with our list of things to find and a marker...

...and we were off!

Among the items on our list - a garbage can. They are in abundance when you go for a walk on garbage day. :)

The picture of the flower on our sheet was yellow, so Drew was convinced we needed to find sunflowers. I shutter to think what would have happened had we not found any. :)

Thursday night, then, we headed over to the park for their weekly family movie. Babe 2: Pig in the City was playing. It wasn't our first choice, but our summer schedule has been a bit wonky and this was the first we were free to go (we would have rather seen Up or Planet 51 which they played earlier in the summer). It was a beautiful night for an outdoor movie (meaning: no bugs!) and all three of the boys seemed to enjoy the movie.

Friday night we were invited to dinner at the Blands' home. The Carlsons' joined us, and along with the neighbor girls, we had a night filled with games, children, and FUN! The Blands' backyard is a kid's paradise - basketball court (which means concrete for sidewalk chalk art), badminton, bags, and a playset, and their backyard gates open to the neighbor's backyard, which has swings and a slide, a giant ball to roll around in, and other toys, making it an absolute dream for the boys and their friends. It was another beautiful night!

Now...if Mother Nature would just give it up already. We've had our third straight day of heat indices over 100. Have I ever mentioned my love for autumn?!?!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Picture of the Day, Week 28

Sunday {7.10.11}
Whatever they're watching really captured their attentions.
Oh man, what have I created?!?!

Monday {7.11.11}
A low-impact chair exercise group has started at church, and the boys and I have joined in on occasion. Favorite part: "chair dancing to the decades" with paper plates. :)

Tuesday {7.12.11}
Story hour at our library.

Wednesday {7.13.11}
We've finally gotten a bit of a reprieve from the hot and humid weather, and we took full advantage of it! We spent some time playing around in the church parking lot after naps today.

Thursday {7.14.11}
Another beautiful night to spend outdoors! Our park district has free family movie night at the park during the summer, and it's a fun opportunity to watch a movie under the stars. Babe 2: Pig in the City was showing. It wasn't our first choice, but it's the first we've been able to go with our crazy, weird summer calendar. The boys had a good time; although I think Brad enjoyed the movie the most. :)

Friday {7.15.11}
We had dinner with the Blands and the Carlsons tonight at the Blands' home. They have a rockin' backyard, with play equipment, games, basketball hoop, a fish pond, and a gate that walks into the neighbors yard that just happens to be the home of one of Drew's preschool classmates (who's backyard has swings, wagons, inflatable balls you can roll around in, and more!). We ate, played, and stayed out until 10:45!
(Super bad photo, yes...but I was having too much fun to stop and take too many photos!)

Saturday {7.16.11}
More outdoor summer lovin' tonight! We enjoyed a wonderful potluck picnic tonight with some of our church friends at a nearby park. It was lovely. (I took a total of two pictures...I'm relying on a friend to give me a few of hers for today's POTD.)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Craft Wednesday #6

Rain Sticks
{seen HERE}

After the last couple weeks of doing projects that required the hot glue gun, and therefore a lot of assistance, I wanted to get the boys back in on the hands-on action. I choose this craft especially for this reason. That, and I had all the supplies on hand. Love it when that happens.

Our supplies: wrapping paper tubes, rice, aluminum foil, paint, and stickers.

In the morning, we painted the tubes.

It's just easier to take their shirts off and wash skin than it is to wash their clothes. And actually, the paint we used must have been past its prime as it no longer had the washability factor. I think Reed is still sporting some orange spots on his stomach.

Then we had to wait for the paint to dry. And there was a lot of paint on those tubes, so it was going to take a while!

Fast forward past lunch, quiet time, playing outside, and supper, and we were back up to the craft room to finish.

They finished decorating their rain sticks by adding stickers.
I have quite a collection.
Childhood habits die hard, I guess.

Reed's hard at work.

I don't think there was an inch of Drew's tube that wasn't covered by a sticker.

Then I taped up one end, we added the aluminum foil and the rice, and taped up the other end.

Hello very fun and festive rain sticks! How fun you were to make!

Fun Food Friday didn't happen this week. The second half of our week ended up keeping us pretty busy, and I plum forgot all about it. That's never happened before... ha!}

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What We're Reading

Once again, the boys and I have worked into our busy summer schedule (hee hee hee) story hour at the library on Tuesday mornings. A few things have changed since last summer, when we went to the library for everything but the actual story hour. Drew couldn't handle going into the little room with all the other kids by himself, and because I didn't feel like I could go in there with Reed and not cause a commotion, we ended up skipping the stories and doing the craft and checking out new books for home, instead.

So, what's different? Reed's older now, and a *bit* more maintainable in quiet settings, so all three of us are able to hear Miss Nona read the stories. They are meeting in a larger room this summer, which makes it a bit less noticeable when kids get rowdy. And there's more room for parents, so it's a lot more comfortable all around. On the down side, they no longer do crafts. Each week has a theme, and Miss Nona reads appropriate thematic books, and then there used to be an appropriate thematic craft to go along with it. Not anymore. Now there's just crayons and super old coloring books. We have plenty of that at home, and thankfully, the library does still have a plethora of books, so we're golden there.

When it comes to picking out books, Reed just pulls off the shelf what he can see (which means just about everything) and says, "dis one?" Drew has some weird thing about Winnie the Pooh, and must pick out a different Pooh book each week. The kicker? He never really wants to read them once we get them home. Weird. I don't even wanna know. I, on the other hand, have a totally logical and grown-up approach to choosing books: I judge them by their covers. Yup, sure do! I like newer illustrations, with bright covers, and cute characters. If the cover mets my very strict and adult-like specifications, I'll then flip through it and make sure it isn't too wordy. Yep. I just said that. Can't have those books being too long now, trust me!

We usually check out anywhere from five to ten new books each week. Among those, there are some duds. BUT there is usually one, if not two, that totally measure up to their covers. We've had a few in the last month that I highly recommend. (Descriptions summarized from Amazon's editorial reviews. I'm just not that swanky with words.)

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll

Meet Ethan, a little boy who can't fall asleep at night without his favorite monster, Gabe, under his bed. When Gabe leaves Ethan a note that he's gone fishing, Ethan knocks on the floor to summon a series of substitute ghoulies. But with each monster comes a variety of shortcomings that just won't do for Ethan. Will Ethan ever fall asleep without Gabe? What if Gabe never comes back? You'll have to read this incredibly endearing and lively take on an old childhood myth! {Oh, and the illustrations! Just look at that cover!}

The Chicken of the Family by Mary Amato

Henrietta's two older sisters love to tease her. When they try to convince her that she's actually a chicken instead of a little girl, it's pretty hard to believe at first. But the evidence is all there: her legs are kind of yellow, and her toes are kind of long. The feathers she finds beside her bed the next morning settle it, and Henrietta heads off to the farm to find her real family. The chickens welcome her with open wings, and this lovably gullible heroine's joyful acceptance of who she really is will have readers squawking with laughter. {Two reasons why I absolutely loved this book: 1) I'm pretty dang good at the older sisters' snobby/teasing/valley-girl-esque voices; and 2) the little sister gets 'em in the end. :) }

Brewster the Rooster by Devin Scillian

What has gotten into Brewster the rooster? The Macintosh family can't understand why their barnyard pet is crowing at the darnedest things. He crows at very odd times: when Topper is throwing a baseball, when Zeb is standing on a ladder, when Grandma is flipping hotcakes, and when Magnolia is watering her flowers. Into Doc Sawyer Brewster goes, but it's little Julie that knows what Brewster's problem is! {The story is cute, and it rhymes so it's fun to read. The illustrations are bright and cheery, and the line about Magnolia's yellow dress is quite funny.}

Honorable Mentions:

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson

Why does the cow love cookies? The answer makes a warm, funny, rhythmic, repetitive story, as it tells the tale of what the other farm animals love to eat. "But the cow loves cookies!" Why? You'll find out at the end, when the cow and the farmer sit down to share a sweet snack. {Another rhyming story, which are fun to read, but my favorite part was that both boys caught on to the repetition and were soon anticipating every time it read "But the cow loves cookies!" saying it along with me. Cute, cute story.}

A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson

A simple story about a frog on a log in the middle of the bog, as he snacks on the surrounding insect delicacies, each time growing bigger and bigger. As the greedy frog's belly grows, the illustrations show us a hilarious view of the claustrophobic quarters within. All's well for the frog, until...he realizes that the log he's perched upon isn't a log at all! {This is definitely Drew's addition to our "favorites" list. We read this one everyday (sometimes twice) as he bounced along with the rhyme of the story. The illustrations aren't as striking as what I usually like, but the inside view of the frog's belly is pretty fun. And this was another one that Reed was able to finish some of the repetitive phrases throughout the book.}

I also wanted to share these with you:

It was one small project that I worked on while the boys were in Minnesota two weeks ago. I've been wanting to make bags for the boys to use for their library books for quite some time, but it took a while to find inspiration online. But then I found this picture and pattern HERE, and fell in love! I didn't care to make the actual bag, but instead wanted to embellish bags that I could just buy on the cheap at Hobby Lobby. I ended up being able to adapt the pattern so I could do just that. I bought canvas bags, stitched on the letters using fusible interfacing, sewed on the pocket at the top for library cards, and replaced the canvas handles with bright orange cotton belting. In the end, it took less time and a lot less money (less than $2 each) than making the entire bag from scratch. I'm really happy with them. Like little-school-girl happy. It's a bit embarrassing. The boys dig 'em. And they make going to the library waaaay more exciting. :)

Happy Reading!

His Biggest Fan

So what did Reed do while Drew was kicking soccer balls and hitting baseballs??

He was Drew's biggest fan.

He was dragged along (of course) to all of Drew's practices (sorry, kiddo - get used to it), and if given enough snacks to munch on, he remained controllable.

If not...

...he was right in there with the rest of the kids!

The soccer field was especially entertaining.

There were cones e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e!

But there's really nothing needed to just be silly.

Just don't tell him to stop.

Front row seat, snack in hand, for the big, final game.

At t-ball, he was a bit more restrained.

He really liked to people watch.

And eat, of course.

He loved watching Drew. And cheering him on.

"Go, Drew! Go!"