Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas decorating by the kids

The kids were excited to decorate the tree, so we got it out and set it up. (Yes, we have one of those pre-lit fake trees...and we enjoy having it!) After Joe made sure the lights were all working and I fluffed it out a bit, we sat back and didn't even touch it again. The girls put on some Christmas music, dragged out the ornament bin, all of them dove in, and (besides the few patches of empty spaces in the back) the tree is now full of ornaments and looks wonderful. All they asked help for is to drape the beads and icicles...which I'll get around to one of these days.

Christmas is in the air.

Our furnace, however, hasn't even been turned on yet!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fall Violin Performance

The kids had their fall performance this morning. Mary Kate got to lead the beginner group.While Mary Kate led the group, Jimmer did an excellent job singing.

Kathleen lead the whole group in Allegro. Here's the camera video.

We finally snapped a picture of the kids with all their violin instructors. This is really what they were looking forward to after a job well done.The snacks and treats! (We brought pumpkin cheesecake brownies.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No toys!

After clearing the living room of small toys the other day before we took care of our little (and newly mobile) friend, I'm really liking the room's new simplicity.

The kids were so excited that little Isaiah was coming, they quickly cleared the living room and vacuumed. They know that he can choke on their magnets, Legos, and Playmobile pieces. So, we put the toys (that pretty much meant ALL toys) that he can't play with in our back room.

Today, because their regular playthings are still in the back room, the kids ended up finding more productive things to do. After getting something to drink when we finished our history reading, I came back to a living room of children doing these things.

Mikey read a story aloud as Jimmer scratched his back.
Kathleen got busy making a Christmas outfit for one of her stuffed cheetahs.
(Mary Kate had already completed this outfit for her little dog "Tiny" earlier today.)
Mary Kate picked up a book of poems and read them aloud to Kathleen.
I love our new simplicity. I think we'll keep the toys in back room a little longer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wednesday--not quite wordless!

We got our baby fix yesterday and this morning as we enjoyed taking care of this happy little guy.

He'll celebrate his 1st birthday next month!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stairway Racer

Just because we don't get snow here doesn't mean we can't go sledding. We just have to get a little more creative. Kathleen made a sled out of her pillow and her sleeping bag's nylon sack. The hill was our stairway.
She calls is "rocket racing."

Friday, November 14, 2008

A brother's remorse

When I heard the kids' Friday afternoon tomfoolery stop suddenly, I was a little suspicious. Then when Jimmer came upstairs half crying as he was telling me "it" was an accident, I knew something was up.

I found Mary Kate in the kitchen filling up the ice bag, and Mikey standing nearby waiting to see what I thought about this new shiner.It wasn't bleeding too much, but it was pretty close to his eye. Not an emergency, thankfully!

After Jimmer had seen what he had done with one of his steel marbles, he felt quite horrible and became uncharacteristically quiet. How did this happen? All I can say is that each of the kids said it was an accident.

Mikey sat with ice on his eye as I started to read the last chapter of All of a Kind Family. Jimmer continued to sit quietly fiddling around with some paper.

As I continued reading, Jimmer came up to Mikey every couple of minutes and set a piece of paper on Mikey's lap. "Here you go, Mikey."

Each hand-cut piece of paper represented an additional apology.

The collection of apologies.

Fine Arts Friday: Mary Kate's Creations

What I love about doing art with the kids is that they will stay quietly content and productively occupied for hours. I no longer fret about getting the paints out anymore. They're old enough to know where everything is and how to set it up. These days, instead of having to give the kids ideas and directing them how to start a particular project, they just take off with their own ideas and later present me with things like this.Toucan created after reading through the book Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors.

A watercolor piece she called, Lady from India.

As you can see, Mary Kate prefers using bold colors to make a statement. Her artwork makes me smile!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Breakfast outdoors

Pausing their play for a little grub.(Yes, Mikey can still manage to use that toddler bouncey thing.)

The girls built this tent with a rain poncho we didn't use on our Canadian Rockies trip. They figured the sprinkles then wouldn't ruin their breakfast outdoors.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

An outing with Dad

Over the weekend, Joe took the kids to the Wurstfest for the annual 10-day "Salute to Sausage."

Pictures speak for themselves.

This is something that Joe allows the kids do when I'm not around. He lets Kathleen take a picture of Jimmer wearing his "meat mask"--created while they were eating lunch on the way to the Wurstfest, about an hour-long drive. This makes me so proud (sniff, and another tongue-in-cheek sniff).Joe did defend himself by telling me that he thought the mask Jimmer said he created was made out of paper.

One of their first stops after getting to the festival was to purchase some of these goodies.
Fried pickles.

Then, I'm afraid, they didn't stop with the fried foods. They forged ahead and made it to the next oily stand. As you can tell by the look on Jimmer's face, they really didn't need this fried, sugary treat. I think his eyes were still rolling in the back of his head from the pickles.I would have never thought to batter and fry Oreos.
Nope, couldn't stop there. They had to experience the fullness of what this German festival had to offer. So they continued on their journey, then stopped to taste a...Belgian waffle.

Waiting to take a ride on the Ferris wheel.
I'm not sure how this could conceivably happen, but the kids ended up getting hungry after running around a bit. So, the boys settled on having sausage on a stick.
The girls opted for corn on the cob--on a stick.If you're from Minnesota or Texas (as in state fair fare), you are aware this is something you just can't pass up--food on a stick.

This is also something you can't pass up--getting a picture of a guy, as Jimmer says, in leather shorts (lederhosen) with long socks.
Or a guy in lederhosen playing the accordion.(The women wear dirndls. Together, lederhosen and dirndls are referred to as Tracht.)

They also got to hear someone play an alphorn.

Observing all the people with in their bavarian clothing, listening to the different bands, and watching other people being silly with their interesting hats was a lot of fun for the kids.

This is what happens after our children get loaded up with lots of food and treats. They run like the wind! Just look at their eyes--glowing with energy to burn.
Mikey asked why everyone was drinking so much beer. He told me that most festival goers didn't even use glasses. They just drank straight from the 64 oz. pitcher. (If you're wondering, Joe drank Dr. Pepper from a cup!)

A wholesome outing, Dad style!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Calvin rules!

Kathleen has been enjoying all of our Calvin & Hobbes books. Oftentimes, I'll find Mikey and Kathleen reading through one of the books together laughing so hard they have tears in their eyes.
Introducing "Calvleen"

Her interpretation of "go for the gusto":

Calvleen starring in her own comics...
(To read her caption, click on the picture.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Our family of chimps

I figured Jimmer would be pretty excited to name his new life-sized chimp he received for his birthday. Yes, he did name the chimp, but it was much different than what I expected.

He named it Flo. I introduce to you, Flo...
I should explain that Jimmer also received the Jane Goodall documentary, Among the Wild Chimpanzees, National Geographic Special (1984) for his birthday. (I'm sure you learned about her work in grade school science class like I did!) It's an entertaining and wonderfully moving story about a family of chimps she has been studying in east Africa since 1960. Watching it not only helps to understand chimpanzees, but it also makes you learn about yourself, and it stirs some emotions in little kids as we found out while we were putting them to bed that evening.

Flo is the mom of Flint and Fifi (and others). She died while Flint, who was over 8 years old, was still very attached to her. Flint died one month afterwards of, essentially, a broken heart. Poor thing. With a very concerned look, Mikey later asked that evening, "How can somebody die just because they're so sad?" Simple question--complex answer.
Flo with silly Flint

Back to our stuffed chimps...
Shockingly, Jimmer has even renamed his beloved Chimpy. Chimpy's new name is now Flint, Flo's baby boy.

While the kids play with the chimps around here (and before we add any more chimps to the crew), Jimmer is now also referring to Mary Kate as Fifi, Flint's very motherly older sister.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Jimmer turns six

"You look much older, and your legs even look longer today."
That's what Jimmer heard as we all hugged and wished him a happy 6th birthday.

Then we grabbed the violins and drove off to their Saturday morning class.

When we came home, I found Joe in the house frantically trying to clean up and put everything away so Jimmer wouldn't see the birthday cake he requested--a camper cake.

Yep, Joe made this one since there was no time on Halloween (the day before his birthday) and no time in the morning on his birthday for me to make one.

I was confident that Joe's structural engineering talents would shine and that he'd be able to pull it off. I just gave him materials suggestions (frozen pound cakes, frosting, fruit rolls, mini donuts, life savers, licorice). He didn't even have to use steel or concrete for this structure, although a couple of toothpicks were used for reinforcement. Some extra special touches--green sprinkles for grass, a couple of chimps (Jimmer's faves) and other fun animals, trees, and even (ahem) a dump station. He made me proud--not because of the dump station but because he didn't even use a measuring device OR a level...not even blue prints! (Doing things "Willy-Nilly" like that usually goes against every grain in an engineer's being.)

I'm thinking he did such a fine job, we may just share this job of requested birthday cake creations.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

We spent the day at the history museum. Before we got there, we played on "the strings" (I don't know the official name--that's just what the kids call it.) on the university campus next to the museum of art.

Check out this structure. It looks like a bunch of spaghetti dangling down to the ground.

You can't walk by and just look at it.
You've gotta swing a little...
Do some flips (I did.)...
Be childlike...
It's good for you!
I wish we had one of these string structures in our back yard.

All that fun from something so simple--surgical tubing.

Then we walked over to the history museum and watched an IMAX movie, Wild Ocean 3D.

A silhouette of the kids at the museum.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Back home for more birthday celebrating.

Jimmer really liked his camper cake.

Checking out the front of the camper.
Checking out the ladder in back.
"Aw, Dad, is that the sewer water hose?"

Yep, sure is. (Leave it to Dad to include that part.)

Make a wish...

Jimmer with one of his favorite birthday gifts.

Happy Birthday, our sweet and snugly chimpy boy! We love you.