Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter Adventures

It's no secret that this winter has been a rough one weather-wise. Along with taking advantage of our backyard snow, we have been keeping busy with some of our favorite local attractions.

Last month we went to the U of M Museum of Natural History.  We've been there before as a family, but now that dinosaurs are more interesting to Michael and Sophie, it was even more of a thrill.  Check out my saber tooth tigers.


Apparently the museum will be moving locations, so we'll have to get back a couple of times before the mastodons pack up and move out.  I really love that old building.

One of their buddies from school had a birthday party at Tiny Town.  We hadn't been there in a couple of years either, so it felt brand new again to the kids. 


We took the kids to their first movie in a theater a couple of weeks ago.  Like every other kid we know, they loved Frozen (and so did I).  We didn't take them sooner as the reviews mentioned the death of parents, a snow monster, and nearly freezing to death.  Michael especially is not a fan of scary scenes, but a little YouTubing beforehand to prepare him for that "big marshmallow" did the trick.  It also got us pretty excited about Olaf!


I have not mastered the art of taking a photo with my phone in a dimly lit theater, so this was the best I could get.  Little buddy.  :)

Most photos in theaters look like this:


This was taken at the Fox Theatre when we surprised the kids with Sesame Street Live again


They said it was a good surprise!  I know I loved it.  Getting tickets and Mike taking the day off (my mid-winter break) was a somewhat last minute decision brought on by all the photos of friends and their kids in warm places and mouse ears.  We aren't going on any big trips this year, so little adventures are in order!  And these kiddos will only love Elmo and Abby for so long.

Afterwards we went to lunch at Traffic Jam and Snug. 


I'm not sure if they were more excited for the show or the ice cream...looks like the ice cream!

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We also went on a twin club play date to The Scrap Box where Michael and Sophie made creatures (a butterfly and a bird) out of recycled materials.  After talking more about recycling, they now also help me take our cans and boxes and so on out to the garage.  Having an attached garage makes that more possible than in the past, and Michael especially loves that job!

Check out Sophie outgrowing those 3T's.  Spring mom-to-mom sales, here we come!

Other than that, we've been having a great time with weekly lessons like Sophie's ballet:


and their shared swim classes:


Looking  back on all of this makes me feel a little better about Michael and Sophie watching two shows on Netflix while I typed this.  :S  Maybe we'll put our sad snow people out of their misery after nap today.





That pretty much sums up how we all feel about winter at this point.  Come on, spring!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Valentines 2014

This year's valentines are done. Check!
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Michael is giving bouncy balls, and Sophie is giving little puzzles. The puzzle idea came from Craftiness is Not Optional, and the ball idea came from Less Ordinary Designs. I even downloaded the printables but later decided to customize the labels.

I came up with a way to keep from totally doing the double duty of creating separate valentines for both kids to give. Their first year they just gave one together (the crayon hearts), but last year Sophie gave bubbles and Michael gave silly straws. Although they are both giving something this year as well, they are delivering them in the same package.


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...Sophie on one side...

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...and Michael on the other.

The puzzles and balls both came from Oriental Trading. I found the bags at Target. I created the card labels using PowerPoint, cut them with a paper cutter, then folded and stapled them to the bags. Knowing a couple of punches with the hole punch and ribbon tied in a bow would be cuter than staples, I did pick up some colored string at Target as well. I gave in to ease, though, and stapled away. As I predicted, I wasn't thrilled with the look of the staple, the potential for scratching, or the fact that Michael or Sophie would appear to be on the "front" depending on how I stapled. Solution: I broke out the foam stickers I occupy the kids with occasionally and had them help me fix the Valentines up.

A few classmates will even get Valentine's adorned with Sophie's signature layered sticker technique.

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These don't look nearly as polished as the pretty little printables out there, and they surely take a little more thought and effort than the boxes of valentine cards out there, but I'm pleased.  And I love that Michael and Sophie helped a bit for the first time!

Monday, February 3, 2014

A is for Apple....

Between the kids' nap last Sunday and their playing pretty peacefully together on the morning of a snow day (we've had a bunch this year), I was able to knock this out!


This same artwork was in the kids' playroom in the old house, of course.  It was inspired by a photo I saw in a Pottery Barn catalog that had the same concept on the wall of a nursery.  I didn't keep the catalog, and this is the only photo I could find online of the inspiration.  You can see the bird, but you'll have to trust me that the apple and caterpillar are up there, too.

It's funny to think back to making this for the old playroom before the kids were born.  We bought the frames with a gift card from the shower on the same shopping trip that I bought the pants I wore to the hospital.  I painted the chipboard letters and craft paper backing in our old basement with no distractions at all, aside from a big ol' belly.

I sketched the stencils with my feet up on the couch, the way I spent a lot of afternoons back then.  I thought I kept the cut-outs just as keepsakes. Turns out it was so I could do it all over again!

I don't have a very vivid memory of painting the design in the old house (pregnancy brain?), but I'm sure later on I'll remember the kids playing around me this time around as I tried not to mess up.  Mike pointed out before I began that we have no more yellow paint for the playroom, so touch-ups would not be an option.  The pressure made me feel all Michelangelo.


I believe I will also recall Sophie telling me I'm very good at painting and asking, "When I grow up to be a teacher, can I paint on the walls like you?"  That teacher thing came 100% from her, despite my suspicion that she has it in her.  I told her yes, by the way. 


Above is a photo I took from my painting perch on top of the toy shelves.  Later I discovered that I dripped paint in Sophie's hair.  Better there than on the walls!

While it was certainly easier to paint with two munchkins peacefully rolling around in my belly, this was admittedly more fun and rewarding, especially when Michael came down from his nap to see what I had started and declared it a "Great idea!" 


Sophie exclaimed that my work was "just beautiful" when it was done.  Best patrons ever.
Mike and the kids also added a shelf to the kitchen area this weekend.



I can't believe how much better this playroom feels to me now.  It's all warmed up with memories of preparing for these two, of infants crawling over my legs, and of a couple of toddlers stumbling around gumming teethers.  We're filling the space now with games of Candyland and Memory and all sorts of imaginative fun, of preschoolers making observations and playing contentedly by my side.

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