Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween 2014

This year, Ryan went back and forth quite a few times on what he wanted to be for Halloween. We considered a few DIY options but in the end, the cost of finding all the right clothing pieces was more than just buying a cheap costume off of They had a great deal going with swagbucks, so on the last day that you could order to be shipped in time for Halloween, Ryan finally settled on Captain Hook (the version from Jake and the Neverland Pirates) which consisted of a "shirt" and hat (which is very poorly designed and basically just sat on his head flat, not formed like a hat). We got him the accessory hook and ended up just letting him wear the jeans and tennis shoes he had on from the day.  Here is a video from the day the costume arrived (and the only time he actually wore the hat.) This is another improv-type song that we hear from Ryan on a daily basis:

We had a few options for Cohen but ended up deciding he had a few green shirts in his wardrobe, so we made a trip to the new Craft Central (Benjamin Franklin) in town and came up with a Peter Pan hat made out of 2 sheets of felt, some elementary hand-stitchin by me, and a red feather. See the tutorial I loosely followed here. Cohen refused to try on the hat all the way up to when we left for trick-or-treating, so I was actually amazed he wore it at all.

There were hardly any lights on down our streets, so we only stopped at a few houses before the boys were cold and we decided to just head to the Hallelujah party in Sioux Center.

In Sioux Center, we met up with Adam's parents who were finishing their shift working the food lines, grabbed some supper, and then played some games. The boys enjoyed the games, Mr. Twister balloon animals, and picking out prizes from the tickets they earned. There were new games and more of them this year which made the lines shorter and gave them a good variety to try out.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Photos

Here are a few more random pictures from the month of October:
Catching Mayflies
Wanting pitches instead of tee-ball
Sandbox with a neighborhood friend
Movie night with Mommy when it's too cold for the football game

Time to break out the winter gear!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Fun

After our Morning on the Green at Northwestern, the boys and I spent some time playing in the backyard, enjoying the sunshine. Ryan was excited that some of our neighbor's leaves had blown into our yard (our trees are tiny) and wanted to rake a big leaf pile. I am all for "recreational raking," I'm just glad we don't have to do any serious leaf management for the next few years.

To complete our festive fall day, that afternoon, Ryan convinced me we needed to carve some pumpkins. The boys had gotten some pumpkins from one of my mom's friends when they were at her house one day, so we had a few out for decoration and Ryan picked out 2 that he thought would make a perfect Angry Bird and accompanying Piggy. As predicted, picking out the design and pumpkin were as much as Ryan participated and I found myself solo-carving a pumpkin on our driveway with several neighborhood kids looking on.

The pumpkins proved to be too thick for the light to glow through on the areas with just peeled skin, so these were a bit of a fail, but you can't win them all (a good lesson learned by Adults who are asked to help a 4-year-old pass an Angry Birds level only to realize we are completely ill-equipped to pass anything but the easiest levels).

Although Ryan wouldn't touch any of the slimy stuff, he was keen on collecting pumpkin seeds with grand plans to plant our very own pumpkin patch in the backyard. When I explained that pumpkins need a lot of room to grow and we don't even have a garden, he compared me to "The Little Old Lady Who Didn't Like Pumpkins." I think he was combining two books: The Little Old Lady Who Wasn't Afraid of Anything and Too Many Pumpkins. Anyway, his creative insult made me laugh (and we conveniently remembered that fall isn't the best time to plant pumpkins anyway so we just "saved" the seeds for Spring.)

We had a great day celebrating Fall!

NWC Homecoming

Since the Dutch made the playoffs, Adam had practice on Saturday morning, so the boys and I ventured out to Morning on the Green, the carnival put on by various student groups for Northwestern's Homecoming. The boys had a fun time trying out different games and winning small prizes. It helped that it was a gorgeous fall day!


Dart gun.
 Funny note on this one. Ryan had watched several kids try (and fail) to get the darts through the pumpkin mouths. The "winners" got to pick out of a large tub of chotsky toys and if you didn't make it through, you still got a Laffy Taffy. After hitting the cardboard 3x, Ryan happily retrieved his consolation prize and then whispered to me "I tried not to get it through so I could get some candy!"

Ryan chose a lightning bolt for his face paint design. Future Harry Potter fan?
One of the few games Cohen could play and unfortunately he "caught" some bubble gum. He's 1. He also dropped the bath toy he won in the duck pond, but was pretty content with a Dum-Dum lollipop as his net gain on the day.

Football toss

Land the beanbag on the step ladder.

Always a popular stop with the college guys cheering loudly on every drop.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pregnancy Update: 38 weeks

I realized that I haven't taken many "bump pics" this pregnancy, mostly because I don't have a great mirror, so most of these are in various hotels/places I've been with better mirrors! I feel like I am carrying a bit higher/more in front this time and even though I've gained 30 pounds and feel like I am running out of things to wear, I'm actually trending 8lbs less than my other 2 pregnancies, so I'm not too worried about losing it again.

14 weeks
18.5 weeks
25 weeks
29 weeks
37 weeks
Everything's been going pretty well lately with just the common complaints of aching joints (especially hips), lots of heartburn, dry eyes, being tired and hungry all the time, and a little swelling, but the swelling seems to either be less or maybe just holding off more than last time. After the possibilities I was expecting when I still had previa, I am completely fine with these symptoms because I know they are minor compared to what many other women face. I've had some trouble with my left wrist (tendonitis/carpal tunnel) and wore a brace for 3-4 weeks but it's really something I've had for 2 years and am just trying to minimize the pain and discomfort.

Now that I'm 2 weeks away from my due date, I feel like I'm getting mentally and physically ready. I am finally prepared at home with supplies, clothes, gear, etc. and just concentrating on trying to get ready to be gone from work, although I don't know that I'll ever really feel ready there.  It's been an exhausting Fall with Adam's school and coaching schedule so I'm looking forward to everything slowing down for all of us and looking forward to celebrating holidays with our new little one! It won't be long now!

Ryan: 5 Year Old Picture

Pictures at preschool happen to land exactly on Ryan's 5th birthday this year. He took a great picture on the first shot! The photographer had him say "monkeys" and snapped it just as he finished the word. I think I'll use that trick from now on!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Big Boy Bed

Home sick.
Sick but silly.
Cohen had a rough week starting with a fever on Monday night and being diagnosed with double ear infection on Tuesday. He continued to run a fever every night for 5 days and we each took a day off from work to stay home with him to help him rest and recover. He was super-tired and cranky most of the week and it reminded me how much we take our kids health for granted. I can't remember the last time either of them were sick enough to have to stay home or ran a fever. It didn't help that he refused to open his mouth for medicine and actually spit it back up the first night I tried to force a fever-reducer when he was red, burning skin, with a 101.5 temp on the temporal scanner.  We couldn't wait for him to start turning the corner and it ended up taking a good 8 days before he was back to himself.

Meanwhile, Adam and Ryan took a trip to Omaha for Adam's niece's baptism and they had a great time going to the zoo, staying at a hotel, and hanging out with Adam's family. I decided to stay home since my due date is only 3 weeks away and I would have had to go straight to an overnight work meeting on the way back. It ended up being the best plan since Cohen was still stick, so little buddy and I spent the whole weekend at home. It was probably nice for both boys to have some one-on-one time with a parent before their time starts being split 3 ways.

New big-boy bed
Since Ryan was gone, we thought this would be a good time to try out Cohen's new bed in Ryan's room. I started by laying down with him at nap time until he fell asleep and then slept in Ryan's bed at night to help him if he woke up. By the end of the weekend when Ryan joined him in the room, he was used to his new twin bed. I think he's enjoying all the blankets and pillows after a pretty sparse crib. The bed is very tall but he can get down at the foot of the bed and uses a plastic step thing to climb up.  I think we have a routine down now and even though he usually wakes up about once per night, it's still going better than we'd expected for being less than 2 years old.

Now, the nursery has new sheets on it, half a dresser full of baby clothes, and it pretty much ready for the newest member of our family!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cohen: 1 year, 10 months

Cohen is growing up so fast lately! He seems to understand more and more and repeats almost anything we tell him. He's getting to the point where we can have ongoing conversations or understand what he is asking or wanting, which is nice.

His hair is a little out-of-control in the morning since he prefers sleeping propped up on his knees with the top of his head buried in pillows. He hates letting me comb it, so if you see him arrive somewhere with a rumpled look, just know that I tried!

Cohen's latest fascinations have been dinosaurs, trains, animal books (he can correctly point out most of the animals in his 100 Animals book) and he is even starting to catch on to colors (especially blue) and counting (he will count 1, 2, 3, 5 and then 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). He will tell you if he sees or has 2 of something.

He is certainly capable of throwing major tantrums, especially if you don't pick him up when he wants to be held (which is usually right when I am trying to cook supper). He seems to have a great time at daycare and usually runs off willingly to play. He loves playing outside and has enjoyed the mild temps of the Fall, but sitting at football games is not his favorite thing to do.

Ryan usually gets to pick a cartoon to watch in the morning but Cohen has his favorites and will ask for "Wild Kratts" and will finish singing the theme song with them. He still loves to dance to any music and makes the best facial expressions.

This will hopefully be the last monthly update before Cohen becomes a big brother! I hope he's ready for what's in store!.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Angry Birds Birthday Party

After looking at a few different party theme options, Ryan decided he wanted an "Angry Birds" party. We bought a few decorations online. Here are a few links for reference in case you stumbled upon this post in a search for "Angry Birds Birthday Party" (which is how I got most of my ideas) and don't want to spend a ton of time searching the internet for the best places to buy. Disclaimer: These are affiliate links but I do personally recommend them. I chose to buy through Amazon because I had gift cards and enough to get free shipping, but there are other sources online as well.

I was planning to buy plain red or green cups, but Ryan insisted he wanted white cups that he could draw on. He eventually decided to draw various Angry Birds scenes on white paper with crayons and we just wrapped them around the cups (bummer I forgot to take pictures!)

I also found these great printable Angry birds faces for balloons on The Party Animal Blog. Ryan and I just taped the cut-out faces on the balloons upside-down so we could hang them from the ceiling. You can see how cute they turned out mixed in with the Hanging swirls to make a table backdrop. (Hint: a $1 standard 15-ct bag of balloons from Dollar General has all the colors you need except the balloon that looks black is actually purple when you blow it up. Ryan didn't mind).

I once again produced the cake for this party, but it was directed by Ryan and was a lot less elaborate than last year's epic Jake and the Neverland Pirates Ship cake. He wanted a chocolate cake (I used a recipe for Old-Fashioned Devil's Food Cake from The Cake Mix Doctor) with lots of sprinkles and wanted his toy slingshot/birds on top, knocking down a tower. We went pretty simple and just did store-bought chocolate frosting on the sides for the dirt, homemade green buttercream frosting on top for grass, and set the tower up on the cake board instead of on the cake (highly recommend!). I piped his name in "Angry Birds font" but he insisted he did not want "Happy Birthday" written in the rest of the blank space, so we just left it as-is. As long as he was happy, I was happy to be done. Frosting a cake while also trying to make lunch and keep 2 helpful little boys and a beagle away from the table is not the most efficient process!

We didn't do much else for table decorations since there were going to be little ones eating at that table. Ryan insisted on draping streamers around the ceiling fan and we put a few balloons outside, but otherwise it was pretty low-key. When your guests are grandpas, grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins under 3, you don't have to go crazy with games/favors, etc.

We kept the menu simple too--pizza (of course) and salad (Ryan's request), Snicker Salad and drinks before cake and ice cream. A fun drink recipe I want to share, though, is one of Adam's aunt's specialties. You make a 2qt packet of Crystal Light Cherry Pomegranate but only put in 1qt of water. You fill the other 1qt with Ginger Ale. It makes a fruity, slightly fizzy drink. She also does this with Peach Iced Tea which is equally as delicious. However, the Cherry Pomegranate wasn't a great choice for kids because it is VERY red and stains easily (both clothes and upper lips).

After supper, Ryan opened his presents and was excited about all of them. I think we played with all of the indoor ones in the 2 days since the party! He and Cohen are both enjoying the Angry Birds Go! play sets and he couldn't wait to do a Science Experiment from his new kit so we happily stirred around red cabbage powder, citric acid and baking soda on Sunday afternoon :). He also created a "safari" expedition using his new binoculars and pirate telescope.

Ryan had a GREAT night and was so excited for everyone who could come to his party. It makes the prepping and planning worth it to see him so excited about his party. We have a great family and are thankful for everyone who made his day so special!