Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The State of the Quarter-Acre

So. This month marks four years since I started blogging here. Four years of blogging and I'm just not feeling it anymore. I could give you the laundry list of reasons why I'm not feeling it, but mostly it boils down to having less time to do it and more things I would like to use that wee bit of time for. I might pop in occasionally to post some photos of the boys, but you won't be seeing much day-to-day stuff. I won't be shutting the blog down, so you can still scroll through photos of the boys and refer to recipes whenever you want.

Thank you all for checking in on us as we brought two babies home, for watching them grow week by week, for being interested in what we grew and built and painted and thought. Since we know most of you outside the blogosphere, we'll still be around.

Until we see you face-to-face, just figure this is what life looks like on a daily basis, minus the picturesque backdrop and coordinating outfits.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Presents for the Boys

Keith and I both have very happy memories of our childhood Christmas mornings. Our parents worked to make Christmas exciting and special, with the toys and things we'd been dreaming about under the tree, and that's something we really want to do for our boys as well. The hard part for us is how to do Christmas gifts in a special way, without getting overwhelmed by all the stuff? Especially when we have lots of generous and thoughtful family and friends who also enjoy giving gifts to our boys?

In one of my Pinterest wanderings in the summer, I came across a graphic with this guide to gift-giving:

Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

That's perfect! I thought. And as Christmas drew closer, it was good for me to refer to because every time Colter got excited about something, I would think, We could get one for Christmas! He would really like to have his own! And then the house would have been overrun with stuff and I would have been really frustrated with myself.

In the months leading up to Christmas, the toy catalogs started arriving in the mailbox and I would casually flip through them. Colter caught sight of a marble run in one of them, and immediately latched onto it. That's what he wanted from Santa, he kept telling me. After about a month without wavering, I went ahead and ordered the marble run. I mean, I called Santa and asked him to bring one.

Colter's Christmas looked like this:
Want: marble run
Need: hooded bath towel
Wear: slippers and new socks
Read: Larry Gets Lost in Philadelphia

Elliott was a little harder to determine the "want" but since he likes dogs so much...
Want: life-size stuffed beagle
Need: hooded bath towel
Wear: long-sleeved t-shirt and onesie
Read: Bear Snores On board book

The "wants" and "reads" were from Santa, the others from Keith and I. They also had their stockings, filled with little treats and a couple small toys. I did exceed my rule with two things: a dvd set of classic Christmas movies (why do they only show them on tv after the kids go to bed?) and a big floor puzzle of a barn that I picked up at a yard sale last fall. It was all just enough for them to open without getting overwhelmed or too wild.

I also wanted to make sure I had the chance to make a couple of their gifts, so that's where the slippers and hooded towels come in.

Of course, my ever-agreeable first-born steadfastly refuses to wear his slippers. But they look cute sitting on his dresser...

I used this tutorial for the hooded towels, and they went together very easily. Colter has the red with the rocket ships, and Elliott's is the teal with cars and trucks.

Let me also say that our family and friends do a fantastic job of picking out gifts for the boys without going overboard. The boys received a wonderful variety of toys, games, books, and building sets that are getting a lot of use and definitely keeping them entertained as the brunt of winter bears down on us. Personally, I'm really enjoying the new reading material and anxiously waiting for some snow to so that we can deck out snowmen with their snowman kits. Christmas gets a whole lot more fun with little kids in the mix.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Catch Up on Christmas

A week and a half since Christmas already? Where did that go? While I hope to get a few more in-depth posts up about gifts and such, I thought I'd post some photos of the holiday season to hold you over until then.

About two weeks before Christmas, we made cookies. I found a recipe for gingerbread that did not use any eggs or dairy, and got some help from Colter to make them, along with peanut butter kiss cookies, snowballs, and a batch of egg- and dairy-free chocolate cookies.

The chocolate cookies were a big hit with E.

He was also pretty thrilled with the discovery that he could reach the bowl of clementines on top of the microwave by standing on the kitchen chair.

Colter helped make the fudge and was a willing volunteer for scraping out the peanut butter and marshmallow fluff jars. "Mommy," he says, "I'm a little sticky." No kidding.

Putting out cookies and milk for Santa, carrots for the reindeer, and per Colter's instructions, we had to leave some water out for the reindeer as well.

Christmas stories before bed on Christmas Eve; Colter pretty much has "The Night Before Christmas" memorized, we read it so many times.

The children all nestled snug in their beds, and the elves got busy putting everything under the tree.

Nope, Elliott's stocking did not get finished (where were the elves on that one?), so it got clothes-pinned on the front of a tote bag. It's so close! At least his name is on it.

C: Why do I have to wait while you take a picture?
E: A dog! A dog! A dog!

Elliott took right to his dog, while Colter's comment was, "I don't like that dog." No surprises there.

Oh, but Santa really delivered with the marble run.

Getting some help from Grammy with the new barn puzzle.

Christmas afternoon was all about the marble run. And yes, the boys stayed in their pajamas all day long.

We found Elliott in the laundry basket with his dog, all of his own doing.

The cousins were so happy to see each other at the farm the next day. Oh, sweet potato, we do love your expressive little face! And Colter adores you.

Workin' man clothes and fantastic hats to boot!

Heaven forbid a mother wants a picture of her boys together.

The last shots of Colter's gingerbread house he and Keith put together, along with the abominable gingerbread man, before he gleefully smashed it. Where's the picture of that, huh?

In the week between Christmas and New Year's, I think we managed to see nearly every grandparent, parent, cousin, aunt, and uncle we have. It was a lot of running around and visiting packed into a couple of days, but it was wonderful to see everyone. I was really terrible about taking pictures. It gets harder and harder to take them with two kids and so much else going on. So we dive in, soak it up, take the pictures in our heads, and hope we can remember it.

So that's Christmas. All the decorations are put away and only a few gingerbread cookies are rattling around in the bottom of a tin, but the marble run still commands a place of honor on the dining room table. Now it's headlong into winter, and hopefully I'll get some projects (stocking included) done. Though Keith said the other day that soon it will be time to start thinking about the garden...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas all! We are looking forward to seeing many of you over the next week!

Photo by Tawanda Faye Photogrpahy

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

With Christmas only two weeks away, I am finally getting into the spirit of things. Keith and the boys did a lot of the inside decorating this past weekend while I was doing some shopping and going to tea with my mom, and then yesterday the boys and I got a tree and decorated it. Now the house feels cozy with twinkling lights and our lit-up Santa, the Bob Dylan's "Christmas in the Heart" and Elizabeth Mitchell's "The Sounding Joy" albums alternating from the computer (until Keith is around, then it's Bing Crosby all the way). We're just missing the smell of cookies baking. Perhaps Saturday.

Colter has been so into all the Christmas books, sitting patiently through even the longest of them and insisting that I sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" rather than read it. (My singing is most definitely not a joyful noise so it's doubly sweet that he wants me to sing.) 

We went for a live tree that can be planted after Christmas this year. A little pricier, but it will only grow to be 4-6' tall, so we have a few places in mind that it would work nicely.

Our elf Herbie is back, finding new places to hide each night. I wonder if he'll be writing any letters this year?

Notably absent: stocking #4, belonging to Elliott. It's coming, folks. Now that my Christmas present crafting is done, his stocking is my priority.

In lieu of a mantle, we have the top of the machinist's cabinet, onto which everything we can fit gets crammed.

These musical toys will have me going mad by January, but the boys love them. Especially when they can get them all going at once. There's a third one around somewhere...

Our advent box calendar, filled with little treats for the boys which we open after supper each night.

And because I've been lax with the posting, a few notes on Thanksgiving: We spent a wonderful day with Keith's family at his parents' house. Colter was excited to run around with the "big boys" as he says: three older cousins who are all so patient and good with him and Elliott. We were all stuffed with turkey and all the fixings, and both boys gobbled up the cranberry sauce.

On Friday, we headed up to my parents' and in the evening, Keith, Colter, and I met up with my brother and cousins and their families for the Santa parade. It was bitterly cold but lots of fun. Upon seeing Santa on a float, Colter informed us, "That is not Santa. That's just a costume." We'll be working hard to keep the magic alive.

So, as we head full tilt into the holidays with all the preparations and celebrations, posting will probably be a bit sporadic. The upside is that since almost everyone who reads this is family and friends, you'll probably be seeing us in person soon! (At least I hope you consider that an upside, because I certainly do.)
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