Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Patio Landscaping and Fall Activities

The last couple weeks have been full of fun (and a little bit of house work).  The only significant difference to the house is the addition of some landscaping around the patio. 


We still have to finish the other side which will take a lot longer but it's already an improvement.

I am helping out with the crafts for my Mothers of Preschoolers group and I am trying to get ahead with some of the prep work.  The craft we're doing in December is making some hand warmers.  I spent an evening cutting all the pieces and another evening sewing them together.  After 150 of them, I'm glad I got them out of the way!


Fall is by far my favorite time of year and it never seems long enough to do everything that I want to do.  We spent a morning last weekend going apple picking with the kids.  Samantha had as much fun eating the apples as she did picking them.



Samantha is playing soccer this fall.  It's a Mommy and Me class and she's doing a great job.  Coach Sam has them go on a different "adventure" each week.  I put Josh in the carrier and run around with her each week - it's a lot of fun!



Our church had the dedication of the new multi-purpose building this weekend.  The arch-bishop celebrated the mass and they had a big celebration afterwards - complete with pumpkin patch and hayride!


After six months of ridiculously crazy hair, I gave Josh a haircut.  He had a really bad comb-over look with a lot of big wispy hair on the sides.  It makes him look a lot older but it's much better!


I'll end with some more pictures of the kids. 

Samantha enjoys sorting things - here she is putting all her blocks in line so that the pictures are facing up. 


Apparently, she also thinks having quintuplets would be neat.


Many times during the day, Josh has a look of terror on his face when Samantha tries to hug him.  It just says "Please Help!"  Fortunately, she's more gentle than she used to be.


Overall, he's just a very happy baby!

 


We still have many weeks of fall left and a lot more fun to have!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Homebrew and Homemaker

The big news this week is that I turned in my notice that I will be quitting my job at NASA.  I've been working there for 12 years and this is the first full time job I've ever had.  While I enjoyed my job, the last few months have been quite challenging since the kids don't nap at the same time.  I am very excited to be able to focus solely on the family but I know that we'll have to watch our budget a little more closely.

Over the weekend we didn't do any work on the house but had a lot of fun.  Chris had his homebrew club crab feast on Saturday.  He was there most of the day and had a great time. 

While he was eating crabs and drinking beer, the kids and I went to the local homecoming parade.  Samantha was so excited to get candy!

Once we picked him up from his feast, we went to a local music festival.  It was very crowded but we had some fun and dinner. 

Sunday was my book club meeting for brunch and it was a much needed break.  After the kids naps, we went to ride paddle boats - Samantha had a great time!

The only other things going on this week were kid related.  This week's school theme was nature. 
We went on a nature scavenger hunt (Samantha chose the items to find - that's why there's a green flower and an egg).


We collected some nature items and determined whether they sink or float.  It turned into playing but I want her to be able to be a kid, get messy, and enjoy what we're doing. 


We also used some of those items to make an art project.  


We also made some "slides" with nature items to observe on the light box.


Not nature related but she's using her imagination a lot.  She found one of my nursing covers and asked me to put it on her as a baby carrier.  It's so much fun to see how her mind works!


 She's getting along well with Josh.  She still aggressively loves him but it's not as frequent (or he's getting tougher!).  


Josh's first two teeth broke through this week.  This hopefully explains his fussiness and bouts of wakefulness in the middle of the night.

I'll end with a short video of Josh playing in his exersaucer - the boy likes to jump!

video

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Blue Angels and Porch Railing?

The only visible progress at the house this week was starting to finish the front porch railing.  About a year ago we removed the previous railing since we were moving the steps and sidewalk.  Since then, it's been not quite safe for little kids to come in and out of the house (at least the drop is only a few feet!).

Here is how it's looked for the last year:


Last weekend I primed and painted all the parts that need to be installed.  Chris was able to do a little bit of the work on Sunday.  There's still much more to do but it's progress at least!


We had a very busy and wonderful week here.  Samantha had some fun activities during the week.  We went to a Tae Kwon Do class at the library and Samantha did really well with all the running and kicking.  A couple other fun outings included a trip to the nature center and another to the tire park (a playground made of tires). 

Since the school year started, a lot of Samantha's friends started 2 year preschool recently.  We feel that it is too young to start formal schooling at her age but we don't want her to "fall behind" the other kids.  So I decided to try homeschooling for preschool.  I've dedicated each week to a different theme and have at least a couple activities planned each day.  I'm trying to have a good blend of activities each week and base the themes off of other events coming up. 

This was our first week and it was all patriotic themed.  We put together a US map puzzle, listened to patriotic songs, did several crafts for the flag and state and US animals/plants, and did some finger painting.  Of course we also threw in some books and other activities too.


The culmination of the patriotic week was attending the Star Spangled Spectacular in Baltimore.  Chris took off work on Friday so we could go as a family.  We had a great day - wonderful weather and tons of fun! 

We started by going to the Science Center for a little while before walking from the Inner Harbor to Fort McHenry.  While there, we had a nice picnic lunch, walked around the fort with the period reenactments, and got to watch the air show rehearsal. 





We would have stayed at the fort a little longer but unfortunately Obama decided to visit so they kicked everyone else out.  So we walked back to the harbor to visit a few of the tall ships before heading home.  Samantha really enjoyed the ships and I wish we had been able to visit some more of them before we had to leave.




I would consider our first week of homeschooling a success - the activities all went over well, she learned a lot, and had a good time in the process.

Saturday dawned a little overcast but Chris was able to take Samantha on the BikeAbout through town.  The town's archive group puts this ride on every year to showcase some of the history of the area.  The weather was questionable and did rain for a little while but they were able to do most of the ten mile route before Samantha called it quits.  Josh and I went to pick them up to head to the end of ride picnic. 

I'll end with a couple random things.  A few days were a little chilly in the morning so I put a blanket over Samantha's legs in the car.  After we arrived at our destination I went to get her out of her seat and she had covered her whole body with the blanket.  Here is the conversation:

Me:  Samantha, are you hiding?
Samantha:  Yes, I'm under cover!

Here is a photo of her drawing on the terrapin we made out of sand (Maryland's state animal).


And speaking of animals, this guy has been around our yard for the majority of the year - hopefully taking care of the critters we don't want finding their way into the house or garden!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Burning, Painting, Writing, and Flexibility

Due to some good weather, we were able to accomplish a lot this weekend (even if it doesn't look like much).

Saturday morning was spent burning the giant pile of roots from the dirt pile.  It's finally gone but since a lot of the dirt pile is still in place, we will most likely come across more as we move the dirt.

Chris was also able to cut the grass and straighten some small trees that were starting to grow very crooked.

After church on Sunday, I spent the day outside painting with the spray gun.  I started with priming all the materials for the porch railing, continued with staining some of the wicker furniture we got, and finished up with painting the railing materials.




 


While the end result doesn't look like much, it was a lot of work and saved us a lot of time in the long run.  Now we can work on the installing the porch railing - it's only been missing for the past year!

Lately, Samantha has shown an interest in learning a lot of things.  She asks to write letters so she picks a letter and I show her an example.  Then she repeats what I showed her.  I find that she only wants to do about 4 letters before becoming frustrated.  But I think it's pretty good for a 2 1/2 year old!


It always surprises me when Samantha picks up on something I said that I didn't realize at the time.  Lately, Samantha has been using her night prayers as part of her stalling technique.  One night, she was blessing everything in her room ("bless my books, bless my dresser, ...") when she said "bless my breakable."  It took me a second to realize that she was talking about a set of bookends that are in fact breakable.  I guess I never called them by their name but told her not to play with them because "they're breakable."  I really have to watch what I say around this one!

Many of her friends started preschool last week so I've been trying to use Josh's nap time in the morning to do some learning activities with Samantha.  Here are a couple from this week - sensory play with rice and playing with beads. 


When playing with the beads, I put some in a little dish and with no instruction from me at all, she started putting them on the board by sorting by color.  She definitely has some OCD tendencies!



She was upset at the end when she ran out of space for the colors she had left.  But overall, I think it's safe to say that she enjoyed the activity and was very excited about it.


Josh has been teething this week so sleep has been fairly bad.  He's also eating more solid food.  Here's his cute carrot covered face.


He is also very flexible.  I know many babies chew on their toes but Samantha was never able to get her feet up that high.  Josh does this all day and particularly during diaper changes. 


He's now five months old and is growing so quickly. 


Time definitely needs to slow down!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

(Mostly) Labor-less Labor Day Weekend


We had a lot of fun this weekend and didn't get much done - which is quite alright with us!  We started the weekend off with a couple football games.  Penn State played in Dublin, Ireland so the game was on in the early morning.  Around halftime we decided to drive into Baltimore to go to the Ohio State v. Navy game. 

It was quite hot but we had fun and it was the kids' first football game.  Of course Samantha's favorite part was the band and the "guy with the funny hat" directing the band.  From these pictures it does look like the family is ready for football season!  (Josh's Penn State football onesie picture had to be taken at 2 months old because he was outgrowing it already!)


 

We had friends over for a cookout on Sunday after church.  It was fun catching up even though it was incredibly hot outside...it almost makes us wish that the large tree shading the house was still there!  We tried to get pictures of all three boys but the older two were too fast for the camera!


On Monday, after a nice family walk, we decided to clean up some areas around the patio.  Our goal is to be ready to landscape around the patio once the cooler weather arrives.  Of course in the extreme heat (90+ degrees) we were burning roots and hauling giant rocks.  To say we were tired (and overheated) after this would be an understatement.  


 And for comparison sake, here is the before (from two weeks ago) and after shots of the "dirt pile."

 


It's still a little large but much more manageable.

After the root bonfire we went to another cookout at another friend's house.  Samantha was so excited to see more friends!  It was great to have a three day weekend that wasn't all house work focused.

One other thing we accomplished this week was the harvesting of the hops Chris has been growing.  This was the best hop harvest he's had since starting these over five years ago.  


Samantha was actually a big help pulling all the hops off the vines.  She's very detail oriented so this is right up her alley!


Look at the size of those hops!


One final picture from this evening of the storm clearing out.  We expect the next several weeks are going to have plenty of storms like this but it will hopefully lower the humidity in the process.