Thursday, October 31, 2013

Connor's Birthday

Connor's 2nd Birthday celebration was a big day of fun. We started with pancakes. Great days often start with pancakes. We went to the library. Dallin and Connor both love going to the library. Then we had lunch with Mckay at Taco Bell.
Taco Bell is one fast food place where I know I can get something the boys will eat. Traditional burger places are iffy with them.

 Next we went to the mall for Connor to choose his new birthday shoes. (To be revealed later...) After purchasing, Connor wanted to carry the bag himself, and insisted on walking by himself (no stroller ride for this big boy) through the mall.
He looked so grown up just walking around carrying a shopping bag, like he was there to shop all by himself.

Two of Connor's friends came over to play for the afternoon/evening. Coming up with Connor's birthday dinner menu with tricky since Connor's favorite tastes are interesting. The dishes weren't really cohesive, but he likes all the food I chose, so that's all that matters.
Dinner, was rice (he loves plain white rice, preferably cold), mashed sweet potatoes, apple slices, and and corn dogs.
These were homemade corn dogs, which were actually quite a bit easier to make than I thought they would be. And kids love to eat anything that's on a stick and comes with ketchup/mustard for dipping.

 Next it was time for presents.


Connor's new shoes have robots on them.
(The shoes might be hard to see in this picture.) Connor was so excited when he saw robot shoes, he had to have them.

 To continue the "tradition" of making something for his present, I made Connor a super hero cape and mask.
 He's always asking us to tie blankets around his neck (mostly to keep warm I think) so I made him his own satiny cape with a velcro enclosure.
He loves it and it may or may not make an appearance on Halloween. :)

Connor is really into cars/trains/anything with wheels right now. Grandparents knew this and gifted accordingly. This boy was in transportation heaven.
The Grandparents Easton got him a really cool looking track with Disney Cars cars. We had to take a break from opening presents for a while so he could build the track and play with it.

Mckay demonstrated how the cars worked for the kids.
And he also tried on the super hero cape.

Then Connor opened the present from the Grandparents Crapo.
video
So many things to love about this video: his first words when he realizes it's a train are "All aboard!", the paper ripping becomes more frantic, and you can't even get him to look away from the box. He loves the train set and is daily getting it out to play.

 Connor was uninterested in leaving his toys for dessert, so I helped the other kids. We decorated sugar cookies.

Dallin only wanted frosting on his.

Because he only wanted to lick the frosting off.

Lest you think I'm a mean mom for not giving my son a cake for his birthday, I fixed it a few days later. We went to Barnes and Noble, another one of Connor's favorites because of the train table in the kid's section. As part of the B&N kids club, he got to choose a free cupcake from the cafe.
I had them put it in a "to go" container and he carried it himself out of the store, and the whole way home in his car seat. He couldn't stop shaking it because he was so excited, so the frosting got a little messed up in transit.
He still loved every bit of it.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Connor!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkins and Piano Recital

Purdue has some research farms in the area. (Horticulture is a big deal around here.) The research focuses on things like weed management, soil fertility, insect management, fruit and vegetable production, etc.  At the end of the growing season, they have plenty of extra produce. They let groups (like a few local mothers and their toddler children) come and pick pumpkins and apples for free. 

They took us around the farm on a tractor wagon. 

It was a rainy day, and the first really cold day of the season, so I was very unprepared for the weather. We were all wet and freezing by the end. The boys each chose one pumpkin and promptly hopped back on the wagon before they got too soaked. I stayed out a little longer and grabbed several more cool looking pumpkins, seen in the bottom right below.
Between everyone in the group, we had a pretty good haul, despite the cold rain.

I put all my pumpkins to good use for my student piano recital the next day.

This was my second recital and this year we did a bit of a Halloween theme. I found several "scary" sounding classical music pieces for the kids to learn. 

Some of the pieces include: Toccata in D Minor by Bach (this is the one I played), Beethoven's 5th Symphony, Hungarian Dance by Brahms, Funeral March by Chopin, and In the Hall of the Mountain King by Grieg. Since I have mostly younger students, the selections were simplified, but still sounded really cool.

Not only did they get to learn about some really well known pieces and composers, but it was a nice little introduction for many of them about major and minor keys, and how emotion and mood can be expressed through music.
All six of my students did a great job. I feel so proud watching all of them perform, knowing how hard they have worked.

There were refreshments after the recital. I used our recently picked apples to make a dessert. I've already done plenty with apples this year, so I had to try a new apple dessert.
Mini apple pies!
I used the same crust dough and mini muffin pan that I use to make the mini Pecan Tarts, and filled them with small diced apple pie filling instead. I used my regular old apple pie recipe and it tasted great. All the great taste of an apple pie in one little bite.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dust Jacket Art

Connor loves books. He can sit for a long time just flipping through pages on books. And he can actually understand books now. He looks at the pictures and points everything out. He even takes parts from different books and combines them. For instance, I can't tell you how many times he's asked me to sing "The Wheels on the Jubal Train" before bedtime. Yes, he just threw some words together and expected it to be a song I know. Let me tell you, it's hard coming up with things on the spot that are happening on this bullfrog's train to the tune of "Wheels on the Bus."

I've gotten off track....

Connor loves books, but he's still learning how to be gentle with them. A few months ago, he had a very unfortunate encounter with one of my favorite books.
Is it ironic that the "wild things" were destroyed by my wild thing?

I'm really glad that no damage was done to the book itself, but this dust jacket was toast. I had to mourn the destruction for a few minutes. Doesn't he know this is a Caldecott winner?!

I decided to turn the loss into a positive thing by making some new artwork for Connor's room. The paper was far too damaged to hold together again as an actual dust jacket, but I managed to glue/tape an 8x10 piece of the jacket back together and put it in a frame.

If you look really closely, you can see where the rips are.
From a few feet back, you can hardly tell.

 Now the art is displayed in Connor's room.
(Next to the changing pad that I probably haven't actually used with him in over a year. The dresser top would be so empty without it...)

Now the dust jacket serves as a warning of what kind of room you are entering.

This is "Where the Wild Things Are."

Monday, October 21, 2013

The house I grew up in

My parents moved away from St. Louis 3 years ago, but have not been able to sell their house... until now. The house is finally under contract! My parents had a few things to do to get the house ready to sell, so they came to St. Louis from California for a weekend in September. I didn't want to miss a chance to see them, so I drove the 4+ hours from Indiana with the two boys for a visit. (Mckay couldn't come with us.) It was nice to see my parents again, but I have to confess that was not the only reason for my visit. I wanted to see the house one last time.
I lived in this house from the time I was 2 years old until college, and every summer through college.

All the trees have grown a lot since I last saw them 3 years ago.
We used to be able to put Christmas lights all the way up this tree. There is no way we could reach the top now.

Last time we were at the house 3 years ago, we put bushes and mulch in this area.
It still looks pretty good.

(A post by my sister shows how the bushes looked when we first put them in, as well as some other 3-years-ago goodies.)

Even though my parents are completely moved out of the house, a few little things were left behind.

The fox in the front yard!
Connor called dibs on this fox as soon as we got there, so he is now in our yard in Indiana.

 This was still there.
Contrary to popular belief, this was not a grave marker.

The steps that wrap around the back of the house to the walk-out basement.
This is such a cool house!

I love how much space there is. The yard is huge.



It brought back memories of my wedding reception, held in the very same place 5 years before.

Like I said, there was a few things to be done around the house. For the most part, the renters who had been in the house for the past 2 years took pretty good care of it. But....

We went into the laundry room and found that the washer hook up was leaking. 
It was a very small leak, but enough to be troublesome, and the hookup sticks out far enough that the water was spilling down the wall and filled a garbage can.

It took me a grand total of 5 minutes to come up with this genius solution:
Use an old credit card (or AAA card in this case) to divert the drip back in to go down the drain. Simple. Easy. Cheap. Granted, this was a temporary fix until Dad could actually fix the drip, but I was pretty proud of myself for thinking quickly. My quick thinking skills have suffered since having children.

I brought some toys from our house along with us to keep the boys entertained in the empty house.
They mostly kept busy by exploring the huge house. And they managed to find a few small toys left behind by the renters. (Like the Nerf gun next to Dallin pictured above.)

The boys got to spend a lot of time with Grandma and Grandpa.

Connor especially liked jumping on the air mattress.

And riding around outside on his car.

And sitting on Grandpa's tractor.

Perhaps the thing I will miss the most about this house is the kitchen.
This may be the best kitchen I've ever had the privilege to cook in.
Tons of cabinet space, the granite counter tops, TWO ovens, TWO sinks.... 
And somehow my dishes were always magically done by someone else. That never happens at my house.

Goodbye house. Thanks for the memories.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Apple Picking

Dallin's preschool class had a field trip to go apple picking. We went to the same little family farm as last year's field trip. First, everyone got to taste several varieties of apples while the farmer told them about how apples grow. Then the kids colored pictures of apples.

We hopped on the wagon and the tractor pulled us around the farm.
We passed the big pumpkin field and made our way to the apple orchard.
I was surprised at how small the tress are. I asked about the tree size and was told that they are dwarf apples trees, chosen specifically so that they're easier to pick. No ladders required. They produce just as well and because they're small, you can fit more trees and get more apple production per square foot.

The farmer showed the kids how to gently pick the apples and place them in the bin.
 The apples our kids picked would be cleaned and sold. Don't you love free child labor?


 This cute little fluffy dog lives on the farm and rode the tractor with us. 
Connor never left the poor dog alone.

Each of the kids got to pick two apples of their own to take home. So I guess the kids were paid in apples.

Then the kids got to sit and have an apple juice box.
I loved seeing Dallin drink the juice. He never drinks juice. I'm not really heartbroken about him not liking juice because there are certainly healthier foods out there, but his refusal to try new foods is a difficult struggle for us. He is highly motivated by his peers though, so he'll try pretty much anything as long as other people are doing it. (I can see that this will become a problem for us later on in his teen years.)

Lastly, a picture with his buddy Kendal.
They were too busy looking at the dog, but they always looks so happy together.