Monday, December 9, 2013

What a difference a year can make...

For some reason, I found myself skimming old blog posts a few weeks ago. I think it was so I could get a "before" photo of my kitchen. While skimming, I happened upon last year's "holiday decorating" post and I was struck with how different my home now looks one year later. I knew how much work had been done, because I did most of it all by myself (2 hours of preschool/nap every day has been so productive!). But when you work on a project that evolves slowly, you tend to forget where you started and how far you've come.

So here's my house, pieces of it anyway, before and after.
Entry 2012

Entry 2013
 front hall/staircase, 2012



Front hall/staircase, 2013


(MESSY!) Playroom, 2011

(Less messy) Playroom, 2013

 Kitchen, 2011 (its one of the few reasonable "before" pictures of the kitchen I could find)

 Kitchen, 2013

 Master bedroom, February 2013

 Master bedroom, December 2013

Huge differences, right? I took a minute to think about all the things I've done to this house JUST this year. Its huge! In 2013 alone: *painted all the trim white *replaced 6 closet doors *painted 14 interior doors white *painted exterior front door teal *painted interior of all exterior doors charcoal *painted master bedroom *painted both halls and stairwell grey *painted brick fireplace & mantle white *painted the stained concrete hearth grey *painted the chevron-ed half wall over the fireplace *removed all door hinges and knobs and painted them oild-rubbed bronze *painted kids' and half bath *painted the kitchen and back laundry hall *refinished kitchen cabinets to white *Re-painted Lindsey's room (cause the color I picked in 2012 was ugly) *made new window treatments for kitchen, half bath and master bedroom *purchased new window treatments for living, dining, Lindsey's and Allison's rooms *new over-the-sink light fixture *new front porch light fixture

I think that's it for "permanent" changes. Quite a year, huh? And on that note: anyone want to buy a beautifully updated home? Move-in ready! 'Cause we're moving to Texas in 4 weeks... :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Where've I been?

Busy. Going crazy. Losing my mind, and generally engrossed in this journey called motherhood. Trying really hard to like it, but not succeeding very well...

But while I've been struggling with that, here's what's happening with my cute kiddos (who I love, and even usually like... even when motherhood in general isn't busy being my favorite thing).

1) They started school. About 8 weeks ago, just like the rest of the world. Their mother is, shockingly, not on the ball enough to blog about it in a timely manner. Actually, I blame Facebook. Facebook (and Instagram) makes me less likely to blog, since all my cute photos get shared there first. Speaking of cute photos:

 Favorite Color: Pink - Favorite Food: French Fries - Favorite Book: I-Spy - Favorite Movie: Barbie Mermadia - Favorite Activity: Drawing - Favorite Animal: Unicorn - When I grow up I want to be: An Artist

Allison loves school. She loves it so much that she doesn't even realize she's bored. She pre-tested at the beginning of the school year, which showed her to have a mid to late 3rd grade reading ability and to be "above average" in math. Allison spends a lot of time at school reading and coloring on the back of her worksheets. But she loves her teacher and has made a new "best friend" in class that I hear a lot about. :) She is currently working really hard to earn and save money for the American Girl Doll of the Year, Saige. She's almost there (almost $80 in her piggy bank!).

 Big thumbs up for 5 days a week at the district's UPK program! 

Favorite Color: Blue - Favorite Food: Sandwiches - Favorite Book: Lego Ninjago Encyclopedia - Favorite Movie: Power Rangers - Favorite Activity: Legos - Favorite Animal: Ducks - When I grow up I want to be: the Blue Power Ranger

Carter is really loving pre-K. I was worried that he'd hate 5 days a week, but he likes his class a lot. It helps that they have Legos to use as manipulatives in class, I think. :)  He is making friends and learning names in his class. His teachers are very brave: Carter's class is 18 little kiddos, 14 are boys. Can you imagine trying to run a class with 14 four-year-old boys in it?

Sadly, the only two photos I got of Carter's list is blurry, AND the dates are wrong on both lists (I used last year's file and edited it, but forgot to change the year on Allison's and date on Carter... *sigh*).

2) Allison participated in a little local pageant. Don't judge me. Its not a Toddlers and Tiaras type pageant, its a local, natural pageant focused on building confidence. They are also now doing the local Miss America prelims. :) Allison "won" a princess title in her age category, which is the title they give to all the girls who don't win a Queen title (1 Overall Queen {with the highest score of the day} and 1 Division Queen in each age group). She was thrilled with her title, since it came with the tiara that had the biggest red jewels.

Allison is also going to have her picture featured in a local magazine because of her participation. It hasn't come out yet, but I think it'll be out soon. :)





 Cute girl waiting for crowning. :) 


Princess! :)

Beyond that, we're just trying to survive life as usual around here. Excited for Halloween this week. Maybe I can get those pictures up before Christmas. Maybe... 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lego Land Discovery Center

While dragging the kids around to run Saturday errands at The Home Depot, we were given an advertisement for Merlin Entertainment Groups. They're the people who own and operate Madame Tussades, Sea World and Lego Land. The ad was a "Kids Go Free" promo, so we decided to take our kids to the newly opened Lego Land Discovery Center in Yonkers this summer.

They loved it. Brian and I decided that it probably wasn't worth the 4-hour one-way drive JUST for Lego Land, but as a part of a larger trip to the city it would be totally worth it.

The Discovery Center is like a Lego-themed children's museum. Lots of interactive exhibits. Lots of big Lego builds. Lots of building stations. A few rides, a "4-D" interactive movie... lots of fun for kids Carter and Allison's age. If we lived closer, it'd totally be worth an annual pass, I think.

 In the "Lego Factory"


Mini-Manhatten... made from Legos!






 Puppy love!


 Its probably time to get our Duplo back out from the basement... 

Carter could do this all day some days... just sit and build.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

6!

Allison turned 6 last month. I keep wondering where the time has gone. We threw her a fun art-themed party with her friends. Allison loves art and crafts and is so talented (you should see her drawings! She draws better than I do!), so this theme was perfect for her. 
 

Our easel, out on the driveway for easy location. 


 Table set up for painting canvases. The girls really had fun with this project. 


 Decorated party room. Did I mention that it was a rainbow art party? :)


 Our spread. We served lunch of hotdogs, rainbow gold fish, rainbow fruit salad (which was adorable and I didn't get a photo of it), and a rainbow candy platter. 

 
 We played "Pass the Parcel." Everyone loved that they got to unwrap a layer of the gift (which had the party favors in it for everyone.


 Everyone eating lunch. :)


The cake. An artist's palette seemed perfect and simple for an art party. :) And since we still had leftovers of this on her actual birthday a few days later (and she took cupcakes to ballet camp the morning of her birthday)...
 

 I totally talked her into a simple angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream on her actual birthday.


 My grown-up girl wasn't' much into toys this year. We did give her a horse for her 18" doll, which she's loved. And Carter gave her a Lego Friends set (which he's gotten to play with ever since) but she didn't ask for toys for her birthday this year.

What did she want instead? A watch... perfume (we compromised on vanilla body spray)... jewerly. This one's 6 going on 16 I tell ya.

Happy birthday, Allison! Don't grow up too fast!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Legos: Best Toy Ever or Worst Toy Ever?

Let's discuss...

On the pro-lego side we've got the fact that they entertain the boy for HOURS. HOURS. He'll sit and build, and rebuild. Then build a city to go with his build, and heros and bad guys to be in the city. Plus they're a great imaginative & problem solving toy. Build doesn't work? Find the problem and fix it. Not to mention fine motor skills.


On the con-lego side... They get strewn about the house. Legos are everywhere, in spite of the fact that we have a Lego table for building and a big bin for storing them. Plus they get lost, and if the special tiny piece that he's looking for it lost, its a tragedy. Massive, pre-school level tragedy. And have you ever stepped on a Lego? 'Nuff said!


But here's the real kicker: EVERY single tantrum the boy throws is about Legos. My build isn't working. My build broke. I can't find my build. I want 10 more minutes to build. Allison looked at my build. Lindsey broke my build. I don't want to go anywhere because I'll be bored without my Legos. I don't want to go to bed because I'm not done building. I want that Lego set, and mean mommy won't buy it for me (which is a whole other con: they're EXPENSIVE!).


 So... what do you think? The tantrums have me about ready to get rid of all our legos... because they're the worst toy ever. Except for the fact that they're the best toy ever...


Sunday, July 28, 2013

4th of July

Our kid are finally old enough to know when they're missing out on stuff. Like the 4th of July. They may no understand why its supposed to be a fun day (although I think Allison's could probably tell you its America's Birthday), but they know that when the calendar says July 4th fireworks happen and they do NOT want to miss out.


Last year was our first foray into large-crowd, after-bedtime activities. We watched fireworks at the lake with lots of friends, but we decided then that this year we'd be going to the baseball game to get our fireworks fix (they post-game fireworks started 45 minutes earlier than the big show across the lake!).

As luck would have it, there was a carnival going on at the ball park too! Talk about kid heaven. We even let them go on rides for the first time ever (our kids are totally deprived). They had a blast. Carter was in LOVE with the "Wild Hogs" motorcycle ride. Big surprise...






The game and fireworks were fun too, but by that time we were 3 hours past our normal bedtime, and Carter decided that the fireworks were scary. In his defense, they shoot them off right behind the outfield wall, so they are very close and very loud. And in my defense, I was totally prepared with ear plugs for the kids. Carter just decided that they were still too loud, so he sat on my lap, crying, with me covering his ears through the whole fireworks show. The joys of tired kids... :)

Tired, calm, slightly grumpy and bored Carter...

Wired and silly Allison. I made her top the night before. She drew this picture of her wearing a flag dress a few days before the 4th and I couldn't get it out of my head. I didn't get enough fabric, so it became a top, but I thought it turned out so cute. :)
Busy Lindsey.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Swim Lessons

Allison and Carter have been in swimming lessons consistently for over a year. Its 8 weeks on, 1 or 2 weeks off year-round. In my mind, learning to swim is not a choice. My kid WILL learn to swim well enough to be able to survive a normal water situation. That means, bare minimum, being able to dog paddle to an edge/shore and knowing how to tread water. With Allison, we are finally making progress!

This was about a month ago, in the deep end, actually really truly swimming on her own! She needs to get more efficient, so that she can swim farther, faster and longer, but she's swimming!

video