New rooms!

We did it!  It’s done!  Ha!  Everyone is sleeping in new rooms tonight, but it is far from done.  The kids are both super excited… and over tired, over stimulated, and a little nervous too.  It’s a late night because we went out to dinner and to Home Depot for a few supplies, because what’s a home project without at least one trip to the HD!

Check out our work…

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Our room, still in progress.

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Eve's room. She was more interested in playing with newly discovered things than actually putting anything away.

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Eve's room.

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I love her new bed frame!

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Lex's room. His room is tidier because most of the clutter belonged to Eve.

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He wanted his bed on the opposite wall and we tucked the chair into the corner with a cozy reading lamp.

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Lex's Lego corner, minus any Legos yet.

We still have plenty to do, but I’m psyched about the progress we made today.  I won’t show you a picture of the dining room because much of the stuff landed on the table “to be dealt with later.” We had lunch in the living room and dinner at Panera Bread.  Lex was wondering where we would eat breakfast in the morning, so just now I rearranged the piles to make a little room at their seats. :-)

Truth be told, my heart hurts a little tonight.  They are excited and I know it’s right, but I have really enjoyed their time together. I think of them as peas in a pod and we share and share alike, but now we are separating.  While I was lying with Eve I was thinking about all the times they talked and giggled together at night (despite me telling them not to) and all the mornings they climbed into bed together to share their dreams and plans for the day.  Now they are apart and I know it’s only the beginning.  From now on things become his or hers, not theirs, and we put her things in her room and his things in his room and things are no longer “theirs.” I can only hope their bond stays strong as they grow into their own amazing selves. 

Tomorrow is a big day…

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The office is looking bare...

Look what we did today!  Guess what’s on the agenda for tomorrow?!  We moved a ton of stuff down to the basement, and also tidied and organized the basement.  It looks great!  I’m so excited.  Alan fixed the closet shelves, closet rods, and even the broken closet doors!  These things have been broken for as long as we’ve lived here and he fixed them an hour! 

I put the kids to bed tonight feeling a little sad that it might be their last night together.  For their whole lives they’ve shared a room, and I have been one door over.  This will be a big change for all of us.  They are excited, but I wonder how they will feel tomorrow night, in their own separate rooms.  We shall see.

The other fun thing we did today is…

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Chocolate peanut butter and white chocolate chip cookies!

Lex has asking for chocolate chip peanut butter chip cookies for weeks.  Today I asked if he wanted to make them.  We talked about the process and I agreed to stay near by and help, so he made cookies.  He did probably 80% of the work, including all the measuring, mixing, scooping, and oven transfers.  He was super proud of himself.  I’m going to encourage him to do it again soon, just for practice.  :-)

Check back tomorrow, if I’m not too exhausted I’ll post new pictures! 

First Lego League Competition

This year Lex joined the local First Lego League group and finally found his tribe. :) There are ten kids in the group and they have been meeting twice a week for the past few months, designing and building a robot to complete a variety of challenges (aka “missions”). Today was the big competition. Nineteen teams from around the area competed in robot missions, design challenges, team work exercises, and presentations. It was a full day for these kiddos and a day of firsts for Lex! Overall it was AWESOME!!

The event started at 8am today at Dartmouth College. Lex and I went while Alan took Eve to karate. Suddenly we are that over-scheduled family! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but parents from last year said there is a lot of waiting and just hanging out. I personally felt the day flew by! Alan brought Eve over around 11:30 and I was having a great time hanging out. I loved watching the kids on the team work and play together. You could clearly see who had been there before (the older kids) and who was new (the younger ones) and how they went about things differently.

hanging out

#10 Pencils, hanging out before the events begin.

lex

My #1

watching

#10 Pencils, getting ready for their turn.

final updates

Lex gets final updates on the mission order before their first match.

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Part of the competition is a presentation and demonstration of their robot design. Each person had to read a part and then they all had to answer questions.

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Question time.

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I love how Lex stepped right up to answer questions without hesitation. He was so confident!

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Team picture!

challenge meeting p1

Another part of the competition was to solve a non-robot challenge. This years challenge was to design a new way to teach someone something. Their team came up with a new way to teach someone to run. Then they had to present it to the judges.

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He looks so little in this group! He did great though.

Eve and Alan got there right around lunch time. We had some lunch, hung out, went to one of the team’s presentations, and then Eve talked me into leaving. More like she wore me down with her whining. I was conflicted because I had told her ahead of time that Alan and I would probably switch off and that she wouldn’t have to be there all day, however I was having fun and really didn’t want to leave! I didn’t want Alan to miss out on the whole thing either though, that didn’t seem fair. I begrudgingly left around 1:30 and we went home. Eve wanted to play house and dolls and all I wanted to do was text Alan to see how it was going. We settled on reading, which I did not do very well. Eventually she asked if she could play on the computer and I flopped over on the couch and took a nap!

Alan took a video of their third match and sent it to me. It made me very happy. The team had tried the “sports” mission (where the robot throws the ball into the net) twice before and each time it missed, but this time they got it! Hence the cheering. :)

Lex and his team ended up winning an award for Best Robot and progressing to the championship round next month!! I am super happy and excited for them!! It will be a busy day and I am totally looking forward to it! Alan is excited because the championship is held at his old high school. :)

award ceremony

The team won an award for the best robot design. Alan sent me a picture. :)

award

The actual award. I wonder what they will do with it.

Lex today wore a shirt that matched everyone else’s (or at least 10 other people), stood in front of a group (twice) to do a presentation, and happily survived a day full of noise, people, and chaos. I’m so proud of him!! He is growing up into such a strong, smart, fun little guy. I’m so glad that he is introducing us to this fun new world. That’s one of the many joys of parenting, all the places your children bring you. I think my parents would agree with that!

Big changes around here…

We had a very busy afternoon! The kids had no school today (Veterans Day!) and they had a busy day with Mema while I was at work. I got home and shortly thereafter our delivery truck came, bringing us new furniture!! We were all so excited!

old couch

Get this old, ugly thing out of here!

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This is when the real fun began, for the kids anyway!

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Parrish came over to join in the fun too.

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Watching the TV in the sky. :)

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New furniture! (apparently my camera lens seriously needs cleaning!)

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It’s so cozy and comfy!

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Daisy likes it too.

We got a couch, a love seat, and bedframes for both kids. The bedframes are upstairs, but unbuilt. We will put them together just as soon as we get the bedrooms rearranged. Having a brand new bedframe, in a box, totally motivated Eve tonight and she asked if we could do some work on the rearranging process. The three of us (Alan is in London!) spent over an hour moving stuff from the office down to the basement. Step one is moving the office the basement, step two is moving our bedroom into the office, then step three is moving Eve’s bedroom into ours, step four I guess is rearranging Lex in his own room. We got a ton done this evening and got the entire closet cleared out and moved downstairs. One step closer to the grand rearranging!

evening furniture

After dinner we did some rearranging in the living room and put the tables back in place. It looks beautiful! (of course the toys are scattered about already and it’s looking a little less beautiful now!)

shelves

These shelves were in the closet. I told Eve they might go upstairs and on my next trip to the basement she grabbed the shelves and hauled them up to her room, all on her own. I laughed when I went up later and saw them already loaded up.

lexs bedframe

Here is Lex’s bedframe, not yet put together. The colored circles in the top are changeable and you can even put your own photos in there. That will be fun!

eves bedframe

Eve’s bed is TOP SECRET and will be unveiled whenever we get around to opening the boxes. :)

crazy daisy

I was taking pictures of Daisy climbing the stair railings today and this one cracks me up. She looks like a psycho kitty! :)

That about sums up our afternoon. Tomorrow will be another big day. A certain someone is having a birthday and her sweet hubby is flying back over the pond to join us for a birthday dinner, lovingly prepared by Mema. It will be a great day! (and the kids want to do more room rearranging!)

A new plan

The evening routine has been making me crazy lately. Alan works late, I feed the kids whatever they want (which is generally one of about three things: bagel, cereal, or toast and butter), and I make myself something healthy(ish). We all three read at the table and zone out. I finish my dinner then nag/bug/remind them to eat, stop reading, shower, etc. The whole thing makes me crazy! After a long time reading at the table I take away their books and they cry because they are still hungry. We fight. It’s awful.

In my perfect world we would all sit down together, eat a hot, healthy meal (that the magic dinner fairy has prepared), and engage in conversation together. In a perfect world.

So, at family meeting on Saturday I brought up the evening routine as a problem. We discussed solutions. Eve proposed not reading at the table, which Lex was very hesitant to agree too. We finally decided on no reading at breakfast or dinner because those are times we have a time-frame and schedule to adhere to (school or bedtime), but reading at snack or lunch was ok. Reading at the table when you’re not eating is fine too, of course. Lex agreed to try for a week. Last night we all ate pizza and garlic bread at the table and had a great conversation. In bed that night Lex told me that he really liked the conversation and it was a very nice dinner. This morning, Sunday, a day we’d usually read the paper at breakfast, Lex decided to eat quickly then read the comics afterwards, all on his own without me reminding him of the new rule. I made french toast, per Eve’s request, and we all sat together and again had a lovely conversation about the day. Lex ate toast and butter, but still joined us for the meal and conversation. No fussing about reading. It was great! Tonight Lex was at Lego League and Alan was at work, so Eve and I prepared a nice meal (lentil soup and fresh bread, again at her request) and set the table with candles and everything. When the boys got home we sat down together for a great meal. Lex had bread and yogurt. I would love to get him eating more variety, but for now I think the meals together again are awesome! I hope it continues without fuss. Maybe after a few weeks we can start working on trying new foods again.

I know this sounds like old news because food has always been an issue in this house, but lately it has really hit me that he is nine and a half years old and doesn’t eat warm food. His diet consists of about five “meals” and none what you would consider a proper meal. We rarely go out to eat because all he’ll eat is the bread and butter, or bagels at Panera Bread, and he can’t eat at friends’ houses or birthday parties. It is really limiting for him and seems to be getting worse, not better. I was hoping he would out-grow the pickiness, or at least gain some curiosity about food as he grew up, but nope, not so far. I’m hoping this can be a first step. At least removing the reading makes him more aware of what he’s eating (makes all of us more aware of what we are eating!) and maybe we can work that into expanding his diet a bit. Wish me luck!

Halloween 2014

Another successful Halloween on the books! The kids went easy on me this year. Eve decided to be a bear, which consisted of wearing her teddy bear PJs and a hat. It took a tiny bit of work (Etsy browsing) to find a bear hat and she made a paper mask (which she promptly lost) and voila, that was her costume. She actually spent more time dressing her teddy bear, the Princess of Eflica, then making her own costume.

Lex, on the other hand, opted for a complex costume he made himself, with just a little help from me. He worked hard on it and it came out awesome!

painting

“Spray painting is fun!”

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Checking out his handy work.

with eve p1

He took a break from the painting to help Eve build fairy houses.

with eve p2

Sibling love. Pure perfection.

robot in progress

The costume is coming along nicely.

robot cat

Daisy likes the costume.

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Daisy cat

He spray painted the boxes, attached pie tins with brass fasteners, decorated with card stock and metallic markers, and added a few pieces of bling with super glue.

With the costumes complete I really wanted to take them out and show them off. I was thinking of my elementary school and the community Halloween party each year. I posted about it on FB and apparently lots of other communities in our area still do such a thing, but not our school. Oh well. Instead we decided to go to our little local mall. Each year they do trick-or-treating. We went once or twice in the past (2009, 2010, 2012), but it’s always packed and not my favorite place to go. This year we needed to buy a birthday present for a party today, so I thought it would be fun to go trick-or-treating and present shopping at the same time. It ended up being a lot of fun!

car

Have robot, will travel.

bear and robot

A bear and a robot go to the mall.

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Trick-or-treating at the mall.

Back home we had the usual over-stimulated Halloween dinner interrupted by trick-or-treaters, then they got back in costumes and headed out! As usual I stayed home to hand out candy and Alan took them out.

ghosts

My last minute Halloween decorations.

a ghost

A water bottle, sharpie, and a glow stick. Easy peasy.

all done

Last stop, our house. I let them take three pieces each from the candy bowl!

candy

“Mom, I got six Reese’s for you!” He takes good care of his momma!

lots of candy

The loot! We munched on candy, watched the Simpson’s Halloween episode, then passed out!

A good night was had by all! Happy Halloween.

Today they spent some time sorting and organizing their candy. They traded candy (“How about my Mars bar for your Mars bar?”) and building candy towers. It was really sweet to hear and reminded me of being a kid. Siblings. Sweets. Holidays. Happiness.

CHaD Hike and Run

I need to get last weekend’s CHaD post done before this weekends Halloween fun begins!

Last weekend Rosy came up and joined us for another CHaD Hero run/walk. They used to just call it the “CHaD Half” and it was easy to say, now they’ve added a 5K run or walk, a 1 mile fun run, and a 10K hike, so the whole title is just unclear to me. I think they call it the “CHaD Hero” now, but I feel like it needs the word “race” or “event” or something after it. Anyway… we did it!

The weather was drizzly that morning and the forecast was iffy (and variable depending on who’s phone you looked at), but we bundled up and headed out anyway. By the time we got there the rain had stopped and things were looking a bit better. We hung out a bit, joined our team for a photo, then headed off on our hike!

We munched on sandwiches, chatted, and generally enjoyed the day. The kids were awesome and didn’t complain even once! Lex kept saying how nice the day was and how happy he was to be there. I was so happy to be there with them as well. Eve and Rosy did half the hike well ahead of me and Lex. Occasionally they would stop and wait for us, but as soon as we caught up Eve would take off running again. Next year that girl will be doing one of the running events!

bridge

Over the river…

woods

… and though the woods…

field

… and through the fields …

snack break

We stopped at a water station and had a little lunch. Eve though maybe shoving a water bottle in her pants would be a good “pocket” but quickly changed her mind. :)

sign

They had inspirational messages along the way. Lex liked this one.

waiting

Eve and Rosy waiting for us slow-pokes. (I have no image editing software on my computer these days so my photos are all straight off the camera (SOC) and the camera isn’t the best these days. #firstworldproblems)

finish line

Waiting for Alan at the finish line.

finished

He came in strong, beating last years time and his own personal best. He was a happy guy!

hugs

He even had energy for hugs at the end! :)

group shot

Rose took a happy family picture for us. :)

Our team leader hosts a big after party at her house each year, but this year we bailed and headed home instead. Alan has a gym membership and was eager to soak in the hot tub, Lex had Lego League, and I just wanted to be home. It was a nice way to end the day.

Next year Eve and I are going to run the 5K! That’s the plan at the moment anyway. :)

Halloween Gingerbread

Last week we went to visit a friend who had, in the past (2012), helped us make gingerbread houses. We don’t see her often and when I mentioned our plans to visit, Eve immediately asked if we would be making a gingerbread house. I told her no, just visiting, but the idea stuck and she insisted. Sooo…. behold the Halloween Haunted Gingerbread House!

completed house

Our Haunted Halloween House

The process took a few days. On the first day we made the dough.

eve baking p1

Eve in the kitchen. I love it!

eve baking p2

She doesn’t even need a chair, just a little stool. :)

Then we rolled it out, cut it, and baked it.

eve baking p3

She was eager to help cut out the pieces and ended up doing most of them all by herself.

baked pieces

Here are all the pieces.

On Saturday we built the house! Sadly my royal icing was not strong enough and did not “set” quick enough, so, alas, we had an unstable house on our hands.

construction p1

Off to a messy start already! I think I need to use a smaller icing tip next time.

decorating extras

While we waited for the walls to dry we decorated the trick-or-treaters and house accessories.

construction p2

The roof is on. We decided to add an M&M border to the wet icing, on the assumption that it would dry quickly!

construction p2

After a wall and roof panel fell twice I decided it was time to bring out the reinforcements!

inside

The second collapse also gave us a chance to put the gingerbread people and ghost inside, which we had forgotten the first two times we put the roof on!

I stuck the house in the fridge for awhile and we all went out to play. You have to take a break from the sugar fumes sometimes and it was a beautiful day!

cookies

These look good enough to eat!

house decorating

When Aunt Rosy arrived we decorated the gingerbread house and added the accessories.

house p1

Ta-da! I took away the glass in hopes that the roof would stay. We propped it up with some gingerbread trees. :)

house p2

In this picture you can see the gingerbread dog house, the dog (white with red spots), and the trick-or-treater dressed as a pencil. I love that costume idea! I told Eve she should be a pencil next year and she decided Lex could be an eraser to go with her. :)

house p3

A rickety old house needs a rickety old fence in the backyard.

us

Happy bakers! (Eve has her bunny ears under her chin and it looks like some weird neck scarf.)

The house was lovely, kind of, and I stuck it back in the fridge for a little more firming up. It stayed there all day Sunday while we were busy with the CHaD (another post on that will follow soon). This afternoon I cleared off the table (not a small feat!) and set up a nice Halloween display. The kids were super excited when they came home from school.

on display

I tidied up the table and set up a nice Halloween display this afternoon before the kids got home. They were excited to see it all setup. (Notice the glass behind the house? It started sagging after all the decorations were one, so we figured the glass was a required structural support. Lex added some candy to the top to make it look better.)

Sadly, we got back from karate to discover this:

caved in

Oh no! It lasted for a few hours before it caved in. Not even a nice roof slide like the first few times, this was just a complete cave-in.

Eve did a dramatic cry for awhile and then moved on. We agreed it was now a super spooky fallen down Halloween house. There were two casualties of the roof collapse, but the kids were consoled when I promised they could have the casualties for snack tomorrow. I claimed the third causality, a ghosts, for myself!

The house might not be perfect, but we had tons of fun so I’m going to call it a success!! (and try my friend’s royal icing recipe next time!)

Crazy cat lady post

We had fun with Daisy today.

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Time to wash the kitty. She hopped right into the open dishwasher (clean, thankfully!) and started exploring.

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“A person riding a person riding a cat!” said Lex. Eve likes to ride on Daisy.

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Pure silliness. Notice Daisy escaping? :)

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Eve pretends to be a cat sometimes. Specifically, she pretends to be Daisy’s momma cat. Tonight they both had fun with the laser pointer. Eve batted at it longer than Daisy did!

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Fun in a box. She yelled at Lex to get off, then we all had a laugh when she realized it wasn’t Lex.

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This went on for awhile.

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This was from a few days ago. When the kids were little they’d stick their pudgy fingers under the door and we’d say “little wormies”. Much of my bathroom time was spent with “little wormies” under the door. Now they are more independent, so Daisy has taken over the job. :)

Never a dull moment in this house!