Sunday, October 30, 2011

Any Day Now...

It's exciting around here...Carter has a loose tooth.  His permanent tooth has already poked through the skin and his front right tooth is quite wiggly.  He's excited by the prospect of the tooth fairy and I'm amazed at how fast this is all happening.  I'm reminded again (this is happening on a near daily basis) that Carter is growing up. 
Can you see the new tooth sneaking in behind the others?  Is that normal?  I ask him nearly every day how that tooth is feeling, yet he doesn't seem in a rush to get it out.  I'm impressed by his patience.

Boo Bash

The annual Boo Bash was on Wednesday and the kids were so excited.  It's something the merchants of downtown Camas put on and really it's pretty much mass chaos.  But the kids love to dress up, brave the crowds and get a few pieces of candy.  It's also fun, because we almost always run into friends from school or church.  The weather was perfect and this year Kyle got to go with us for the first time...although it might just be his last.   
 The kids were very cooperative before we headed out.  I was able to get a few good shots.
 I've never been a fan of the plastic-y, store bought costumes, but Carter really wanted to be a Transformer.  I came across this Bumblebee costume last year on clearance, and he couldn't be happier about it.  Kennedy's strawberry costume is warm and soft, perfect for a toddler in the NW.  I'm sure it'll be rainy tomorrow night when they're out trick-or-treating.

 My little trick-or-treaters.
I really do love our little downtown area.  It reminds me of McMinnville, where Kyle and I went to college.  It's tree lined and quaint and I love the small town feel.  Kennedy was a little overwhelmed by all of the crowds, but Carter had a blast!
 Our annual tradition of meeting up with the Pikes.  Brevin was a football player and Emery was a cupcake.  It was fun to watch Emery and be reminded of years past - as soon as she got a piece of candy, she wanted to eat it!
 The highlight of the afternoon - free mini ice cream cones at Dairy Queen.
 The little munchkin was worn out.  She only lasted down one side of the street and then she and Daddy headed back to the car.
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Feeling Festive for Fall

I have a slight love affair with fall...while not a huge fan of change in general, I love to witness the change of seasons, the shortening of days and the vibrant colors on the trees.  I love to bring out my wool sweaters and endless supply of turtlenecks.  I love to cuddle with fluffy blankets on the couch and burrow in a bit deeper in down while trying to fall asleep.  I love football season and the start of school.  And I can also usually count on fall to deliver some beautiful sunny days in which to enjoy all of these things.  Overall, it's a wonderful time of year.

My dear friend, Shannon, made us some delicious bread as a thank you and I had to call her up the next day for the recipe.  It was simply delectable and just screamed 'fall' to me.  I made a couple of batches and delivered them to the kids' teachers, to a few friends and we enjoyed a couple of loaves at home, as well. 

Here is my finished product.  I doctored them up a bit with some ribbon and a card made from my Cricut - I thought they made cute little gifts.
And here is the recipe - it's easy and scrumptious, the perfect combination for my limited cooking abilities!
3 c. sugar
1 c. oil
4 eggs
2/3 c. water
16 oz pumpkin
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. all spice
3 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Mix the wet ingredients, mix in the dry until blended, fold in chocolate chips.  Pour into 2 large loaf pans (I used two large and two small to stretch the batter - Shannon suggested it, as it makes two really big loaves that don't cook quite as well)  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.  That was a bit too long in my oven, I found the small loaves cooked in about 40 minutes and the large ones did better at about 50.  They are done when they bounce back on your finger and are no longer sticky. 

Delicious, really.  Give it a try!

Each year I like to buy a new decoration for our home.  This year, after seeing a similar mantel in a magazine, I was on a mission to spruce ours up.  I've always just had pictures in the past, but thought this was a great space to display seasonal decorations.  Found some great deals at the craft stores and Home Goods and ended up with a festive fall mantel. 
Another reason to love fall.  I love to decorate our front porch with pumpkins, corn stalks and hay.  It's such a nice way to welcome to guests.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Visit with Nana

We were lucky enough to have my mom come for an extended visit last week while Kyle was travelling.  Not only was it wonderful to have her with us, the timing could not have been more perfect.  The kids loved having their Nana and I think it helped miss Daddy a little less.  I was able to work, knowing that my kids were in loving hands and got some much needed help and support.  Each time my mom visits, it's a reminder of how much we miss her, though.  She is an incredible help, and I know that Carter and Kennedy adore having her here.  We were able to have a few hours together on Monday morning while both kids were in school, so that was fun too.  We usually sneak away for an afternoon of shopping and lunch, but we made due with an abbreveated two hours - coffee and a quick shopping trip instead!  Recently, I had the opportunity to talk about my mom in my small group from church (we're focusing on spiritual parenting).  I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to have a mom who gives so much of herself to her children and grandchildren.  She has set an amazing example for me, and I am grateful to God to have her never ending love and encouragement.  It's a blessing to feel unconditional love and I am thankful that Carter and Kennedy get to experience it, as well.   I can't imagine them feeling anything other than complete adoration when Nana is around.  We love you very much, Mom!
 Carter was intent on making a "five foot sign" to welcome Nana at the airport.  It kept them busy that morning when I raced around to get us all ready for a friend's birtday party.  Carter did a wonderful job writing "We missed you Nana" and then they each drew a few pictures and Carter then wrote each of their names and traced their hand prints.  I was impressed.  They got many smiles at the airport and were so excited for Nana to see their work.
Let the fun begin!  Nana loves to do special activities with the kids while she's here.  We were busy and filled each day with fun! 
Nana brought some special Halloween crafts and they had lots of fun working together making pumpkins, ghosts, owls and witches.
We did a little baking

Played a fun new game, Skipbo Junior, that Nana brought

Lots of time reading and snuggling on the couch.

A great morning at OMSI on Wednesday, since Carter didn't have school.
 The chemistry lab was their favorite spot again.  Carter really loved doing the experiments (I'm not so secretly thrilled about this...I love to watch his little mind work).
After a busy day of OMSI, the pumpkin patch, then Kennedy's speech appointment, we were able to relax and take advantage of the beautiful evening down on the river.  We met Carrie and Ethan for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed our time together. 
 Ethan and his beautiful blue eyes.  He's a mover and a shaker and so much fun!

Carrie and I and our boys.  Certainly not the best picture in the world, but I just had to include it.  Care is such a dear friend to me, and I've loved watching her embrace motherhood with such love and passion.  She is wonderful and juggles so much, but she always has time for friends and is such a blessing to me. 

On Friday, while I snuck in a few hours of sleep, Nana and kids headed to the children's museum.  Since school was out, it was crazy busy but the kids had a good time exploring the new Lego Castle exhibit. 
Good job snapping pictures, Mom!

 Future vet perhaps?  A good way to put that love of science to use.

 And if the museum wasn't enough, after a few hours they headed over to the zoo...shared an elephant ear, went on the train and saw some animals.  What a special day!
Nana's flight times were just perfect, and she was able to make it to two of Carter's soccer games.  It's always nice to have extra family cheering him along.  Carter scored a couple of goals, so he was thrilled. 

Daddy's home!
Oh Kennedy, that frown of yours is something else!

 Love you, little man!

That's better

We headed to the airport shortly after the game and said goodbye to Nana.  We really do cherish our time together and are so thankful for all that you do for us. 
As Nana was packing up, she gave Carter and Kennedy their Halloween presents.  They were beyond excited to be receiving a gift, and Carter said, "This is much better than a goodbye hug!" 
Goodbyes aren't easy, but for Carter they are made easier with a few M & M's

Saturday, October 22, 2011

School Days

We got the kids school pictures back this week, and I was surprisingly pleased with both of them.  I love that our preschool takes their pictures outside and I think the photographer must be wonderful, because he can always get the kids to smile.
Kennedy - 3 years old

So far, Kennedy really seems to love school.  It's amazing how different my two children are when it comes to learning, though.  While Carter's hand always shot up when a question was asked, Kennedy is very shy and reserved.  She shows little interest in learning her letters but she desperately wants to write her name.  In fact, usually a few scribbles will do and she'll proclaim "k e n n e d y, Kennedy:"  When we attended Open House last week, she clung to me and barely spoke a word.  I was hoping that was due to the presence of all the parents, but Miss Laura said that she's very shy during circle time and doesn't want to singled out.  However, if she has something to say, she'll jabber on and on.  I was a little worried, but I've seen such evidence of learning in other ways.  She sings the songs, says the flag salute and comes home from school each day happy and full of details to share.  She gets along well with her classmates, although she hasn't declared a favorite friend at school.  It'll be interesting to see what the rest of the year will hold...
Carter - 5 years old

Carter man is one smart little boy.  His school year started off a little slow, and I was quite worried about him for the first couple of weeks of kindergarten.  He was much more reserved than typical and I think the whole change was just a lot for him to process.  It didn't take long, though, and now he loves it.  He likes his teacher and he's made several nice friends.  (It was my most frequent prayer that he would attract kind kids with good hearts and thankfully my prayers were answered)  I've always been amazed at his ability to find good friends.  In both of his preschool classes, his two closest friends were exactly the two boys I would have chosen for him if I could.  I am thankful that he seems to have the ability to surround himself with people who are generally good.  Although he loves to learn, when asked he'll say that his favorite part of school is recess or snack time.  Silly boy.  At recess he plays soccer or runs the track (each time a lap is completed, students are given a ticket and once they have 20 tickets, they get a plastic foot to put on a necklace.  Carter and his buddy Ryan were the first to get their necklaces and he was beyond proud!)   I love his desire for knowledge, although he's taken to embellishing or just plain making things up.  I think he does this for the attention, but it's a phase I'm hoping he'll pass right on through!  We do a lot of reading and writing at home, because I honestly can't fathom how his teacher is able to do much in less than 3 hours (minus recess, snack, library, PE, music, etc.) with 25 crazy boys and girls.  I have been grateful for the opportunity to volunteer each week, so I feel much more connected with his classroom and school.  This was a big transition for Mama, too.
Kennedy's class photo - Who invited the giant?  Not only is she sitting next to the teeniest little girl in her class, but she's sitting on the edge of her seat which gives the illusion that she's even bigger.  Really, she looks twice the size of her classmates!
Carter's class photo. 

A look back at Carter's first year of preschool.  We are so lucky to have the same great teacher, both of my kids have adored Miss Laura.  I think it's fun to compare the pictures...amazing how they can change in two years.  When Carter started preschool, Kennedy had just turned 1 and was toddling around on newly walking legs.  Now here she is in preschool herself.  Amazing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

I love our annual trip to the pumpkin patch for so many reasons...the crispness of fall in the air, watching the kids run around and excitedly find a dozen 'perfect' pumpkins and (perhaps most of all) the great opportunities to snap fun pictures.  I'm somewhat of a crazy picture taker and love to capture life's little moments.  Some of the time my family humors me and actually smiles, but most of the time they don't.  With that being said, this year we made more of a spur of the moment trip to the patch...the weather was too beautiful to pass up, Nana was in town and I didn't have to work.  It just felt like the best opportunity to squeeze in a visit.  Unfortunately that means that this years photos, while never stellar, won't even have coordinating fall outfits.  Laugh as you may, and I know you will, but it's just one of the number of things that I'm funny about.  Even though it was a perfect day with the pumpkins, I'm secretly hoping to have another sunny day so I can dress the kids up and get a few "fall worthy" photos.

In the mean time, Carter and his green surfer shirt will have to do.

 Carter was very excited to have found a wheel barrow.  It was bigger than him, but he was insistent on pushing it around (for a few minutes at least).
I just love how Kennedy's nose crinkles when she's really smiling...for all of the scowls and frowns, when this girl finds something to smile about it can light up my world! 
See what I mean?

I am amazed on a near daily basis by how grown up Carter is getting.  He's 5 1/2 now, big and all mature looking.  Where is the pause button?  I know there are wonderful things awaiting us, but sometimes I just wish we could savor this time without the feeling that it's flying by.

 Nana and the kiddos

 We made it home with three very large pumpkins and three very small ones.  Had it been up to Kennedy, we would have had a trunk full!

 The sun was in their eyes...and it was funny.
 Carter in the corn
He kept insisting that this was a corn maze so we had to run in and be quiet so that Nana and Kennedy didn't find us.  It was simply a corn field, but it was so fun to watch his excitement that I didn't have the heart to break it to him.

 Having fun in the maze.  It was actually kind of hard to find your way out...thankfully they had two lookout towers that we were able to use to locate the exit.  Carter loved it and raced off on his own.

There was a large cut out of a bear that kind of scared the kids but in a fun way.  I was able to capture Kennedy's reaction.