Thursday, August 30, 2012

Raife and Henry in August

We put the boys in chairs this time to prevent them from crawling away too quickly while we were trying to get the picture.  These turned out pretty good.  Henry is looking at the camera smiling because I'm the one taking the picture.  You can obviously tell where Brooke is standing by where Raife is looking.  She is standing nearer to the chairs to make sure the boys don't fall out of them.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chicago on 8/19/2012

I spent my 31st birthday in Chicago with my family visiting my brother who lives downtown.  We hadn't been up to see him in way too long and hadn't even visited his new apartment yet so spending my birthday doing fun things, visiting Ty and taking the girls to the Lincoln Park zoo...well we killed a bunch of birds with one stone!

It was our first time to the free Lincoln Park zoo.  It was wonderful and we really enjoyed spending a few hours there.

The whole crew!

One our way back to Ty's apartment from the zoo we passed the Magnolia Bakery so of course we had to stop for some birthday cupcakes.  Not only had we heard amazing things about their cupcakes but we are quite partial to the name.  The owners even gave Magnolia a free cupcake since she shares a name with the bakery!
We had a really nice day but we were absolutely exhausted when we got home at about 8:30pm.  A 3 hour South Shore train trip into downtown, 7 hours of walking around the city, and another 3 hour train trip home made for a long day!

I think we lost a few months between last August and this one.  I feel like it was JUST my 30th birthday and now I'm 31!  The years go by much faster these days.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just Some Pictures of the Kids

The Friday evening before the first week of school, Magnolia's school had an open house.  The kids and I were ready to go and were just waiting for Dan to get home from work so we could leave.  I got my camera out and took some pictures of the kids.  The natural light coming through the open front door made for some pretty cute pictures.

I told Boothe to smile and she said she didn't want to.  So this is what I got.
Then I asked her to smile again.  And she said "Ok, but just a little one."  And this is what I got.
I asked her one last time to give me a smile for the camera.  And she gave it her all.  That Boothe is too much sometimes.  Keeps us all laughing!
Then it was Henry's turn.  He kept trying to crawl right out the front door so getting him to be still and look at me for a picture was a challenge.  Most of the ones I got were blurry as he was crawling past.

Lastly, it was the school-girl's turn.  She is looking so big and grown up these days.  4 going on 14!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homemade Liquid Hand Soap

Want to spend $5 on a gallon of quality hand soap?  Got 20 minutes?  I made this handsoap using the directions from this website.  I store it in a milk jug in the closet and refill the dispensers when I need to.  I would definitely recommend making it yourself.  Mine turned ut really well and you can't beat the cost savings!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Kids Chores

Starting when Magnolia turned 4, we have been using a chore chart.  She is responsible for certain things every day.  We are trying to teach our children from a young age that as a family who all lives together we each need to take responsibilities and chip in to make our home run smoothly and harmoniously.  So far so good and the simple tasks that we started at age 4 have become habit.  There is never any complaining about anything on the list.  The "pick up toys" line item doesn't always get accomplished but that's mostly because of becoming distracted or losing track of time.

The chore chart includes things like getting dressed in the morning, putting dishes into the sink after each meal, practice the piano, read pick up toys and get ready for bed.  I also included iPad/computer time so we can remember if she has used her 20 minutes for the day and also so she can "X" off the next day if she loses the privilege.

We made up a chart for each week that has the days of the week across the top and the chores to be accomplished down the left side.  She likes checking things off but stickers would also be great in the boxes.  We printed off a bunch of sheets and a new one goes up on the fridge each Monday.  A few of these chores will be replaced by new ones when she turns 5.  As she gets older she will take on new responsibilities with the goal being her ability to be independent and knowledgable in all household work by the time she leaves our little nest.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Squishy Thighs Alert

Henry hit a growth spurt over the past 6 weeks and has become quite the little chunkster.  We have been playing outside a lot now that the weather is not too hot and not too wet.  What a crazy summer of weather we have had.  He is constantly trying to eat grass and leaves and loves watching his sisters ride their bikes and chase each other.  You know he is wishing he could be right in there with them!

Remember when you have your first baby and take a million pictures of them?  I wouldn't want Henry to think I love him any less even though I've only taken about 12 of him.  So here is playing catch up.  They turned out really cute too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Sauce

In my quest to make more things from scratch in the kitchen, I have mastered the chocolate sauce.  This makes for wonderful chocolate milk and we drizzle it over ice cream too.  It takes only about 5-10 minutes to make and lasts a few months.

You will need 1 cup water, 1/2 cup cocoa, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 t. vanilla and 1/8 t. salt.  Mix all ingredients except for the vanilla in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.  Once it cools down it thickens up to the consistency of Hershey's syrup.
That's it.  I keep mine in a bottle with an attached plug but any jar would work.  I also like to label my bottle with not only what's inside but the recipe too.  This way when I run out and need to make another batch, I don't have to dig around for the recipe, it's right there on the bottle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Spaghetti Night

Who doesn't like a good picture of babies and spaghetti?  Henry isn't ready for sauce yet, but he was absolutely covered in the noodles by the time dinner was done!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Manners and Behaving

With 1 preschooler, 1 toddler and a baby at home with me all day every day, things can sometimes get chaotic.  Mostly it has to do with bad attitudes, not listening, fighting, me losing my patience and discipline.  Argh...why can't kids just always behave exactly how you want them to!  Until recently, the punishment I would dole out for naughtiness was never predictable because it depended on my patience (or lack there of), what I was doing at the time, and whether I would actually carry through with my threats.

Enter streamlined consequences.  At the beginning of summer we started letting the girls stay up an hour later than their usual bedtime.  We made this decision for several reasons, but mostly because it's hard to get 3 kids in bed at the same time and summer warrants a later bedtime as the sun is still up until 10pm.  The rule that came along with a later bedtime was that they would lose their staying up late privilege for the following night if they gave us "excessive" trouble going to bed.  This seemed to work very well especially for Magnolia.  Boothe who just turned 3 gets a bit more slack because she's still pretty young.  But there have been several nights when Boothe lost her privilege and was in bed early while Magnolia got to enjoy the extra hour.

I love this "bad action receives the same negative consequence" idea to discipline so we started applying it to other behaviors.  When they hit one another or fight beyond disagreements or arguments they lose their iPad and computer time for that day or the next.  When they are disrespectful, sassy, tell us "no" or don't listen; instead of a simple time-out, Magnolia has to sit down and read one of these Munro Leaf books.  Since Boothe can't read, she has to look at one of them.  These are fun little books originally published in the 1930s by Munro Leaf and have recently been reprinted.  We have read them together with the kids and talked through the manners and behaviors that they discuss and Magnolia and Boothe have read them together.  They are simply written and do a great job of explaining why using your manners, being polite and getting along with others is so important.  A great use for 5-10 minutes of time-out.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Quick DIY

I made 2 throw pillows for the living room this week.  I wanted some pillows that would add a dash of color to our mostly neutral room.  Finding affordable (aka cheap) pillows or pillow covers is hard.  One afternoon while shopping at Target I saw these yellow cloth napkins.  They were $15 for a pack of 4.  Bingo!  I loved the pattern and the color and they are a standard sized square so all that was required of me was to sew two of them together and viola...2 throw pillows at $7.50 each!  I already had some old throw pillows that I used as the inserts.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Rainy Day Fun #2

This one kept the girls entertained for a good 30 minutes and if I could have had trays and trays of baking soda and endless cups of vinegar, they would have been entertained for hours.  Here's how it works.

Gather vinegar, food coloring, droppers, baking soda and some kind of tray or flat bottom baking dish.
 Put a layer of baking soda in the tray/baking dish.  I used about a half cup.  Next pour vinegar into individual cups.
 Use the food coloring to color the vinegar.
 All ready to go!
 Use the droppers to drop the colored vinegar into the baking soda.
 It fizzes and bubbles and then colors the baking soda.

 The masterpiece looks a little like a science project left in the fridge for too long.  But it's nothing to keep, just something to enjoy during the activity.  You could also use this to teach about making new colors from mixing together primary colors.
One could actually make it look pretty.  Try and make some kind of artscape in the baking soda, but my kids had to use every last drop of colored vinegar in all of the cups so by the end it was all about the squirting and the fizzing and the bubbling.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

July Cousins

These are the best we could get in July.  I have no idea how parents of twins ever get a decent picture of the babies together.  Nearly impossible.  Henry is just 7 months in these pictures and Raife is about a week shy if 1 year.  The size difference between the 2 is shrinking and pretty soon you won't be able to tell which baby is older.  It will be fun when they are old enough to run around together!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Rainy Day Fun #1

We finally got some rain.  Lots and lots of rain and wonderful thunderstorms.  Thunderstorms are the greatest.  Not just when we are in a drought, but anytime.  They are just so dang cozy.

So during a rainy day last week we did Sharpie Tie-Dyes.  They turned out so so cute and were really easy to make.  Here's how we did it.

Gather your supplies.  1. 70% rubbing alcohol.  2. A dropper.  3. Sharpies in all different colors.
 And 4. A shirt or whatever you want to tie-dye.  I chose to use little girls undershirts.  They come in a pack of 3 for about $7, have a cute little edging along the top and sometimes those home made decorated white t-shirts look a little too home made.  Puffy paint, anyone?
 I used a pint mason jar with the lid on, placed it under just the front side of the tank and put it in place with a rubber band.  Place the jar where ever you want to make your flower/tie-dye design.
 Use the Sharpies to make circles of dots.

 Once all the dots are on, use the dropper to drip the alcohol onto the marker dots.  The alcohol causes the colors to run and tie-dye the circled top of the jar.  It really has to sit for a bit before it will look really cool.  But the alcohol doesn't have to dry before moving the jar and starting on another flower.
 Move onto the next flower.
 I told them both, these are your flowers so make them whatever colors you want and make the dots anyway you want them.  Magnolia stuck to the circle idea.  Boothe had her own ideas.

 Drip more alcohol on the next set of dots.
 After the flowers have dried, I drew the stems and threw the shirts in the dryer for 15 minutes to set the colors.  Didn't they turn out so good!?!  Cute, cute, cute!