Friday, November 30, 2012

Downtown Adventures!

Every year Dave's work sponsors a mini-Holiday party downtown.  We schmooze, eat, drink hot cocoa and gear up for the Holidazzle parade.  This year the kids and I made a quick stop at Macy's 8th Floor before-hand.  We caught a delightful puppet play-- seriously really well done (and totally worth the nominal admission fee), and then met up with Daddy to explore "A Day in the Life of an Elf".  Alex didn't really remember this at all from our previous visit, so she was amazed!  It is pretty elaborate!  Justin enjoyed from Daddy's arms. 
He was not too keen on turning his back on the characters for a sibling photo.
Holidazzle was just right-- not too chilly, not too snowy-- the kids were warm and toasty, and (thanks to Mama's forethought) we had thermoses of hot cocoa to sip while we watched the lights.  Justin really liked the electric trains and Elmo (Elmo is on the front of Justin's diapers, so that automatically makes him a star!).  Alex really enjoyed the Wizard of Oz float and, of course, Santa!  I enjoyed the homeless clown who forced a shoddily-made balloon animal into my five year old's hands.  We basically paid him a dollar to go away.  What can I say-- I'm not really a city kid.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Adventures of Justin: The First Year

I know...it's a little late, but it's done.  The Adventures of Justin- The First Year book--  if Grandparents want to order, please use this link.
No promises on when Volume 2 will be released :-)  I'm kind of George R.R. Martin-ing it.

For those of you who are aspiring authors, check out Blurb to make all your books!  It's a pretty awesome site-- the software is very user-friendly and gives you complete artistic control (or gives you nice templates-- whatever floats your boat).

Playtime and Cupcakes

We were able to spend the morning in Shakopee with Emma and Megan.  The kids had a great time playing outside and dismantling the woodpile to construct a school (sorry, Joel....).  Emma has an awesome power wheels car that turned into the school bus and they spend over an hour roleplaying "mama and child", "teacher and student" and "bus driver and student".  Awesome!
After playing with Emma, we headed home, but not before stopping at our new favorite bakery-- Bittersweet Bakery is a completely gluten-free bakery that is, coincidentally, directly on the way home from the Mulder's house.  Our job today was to sample a few cupcakes so we could choose the best flavor for Justin's birthday cake.  The choice was unanimously chocolate cake with white frosting!  Their donut holes are out of this world, and their frosted sugar cookies have a hint of almond flavoring (drool!)  We forgot to buy any bread (probably because we were so amped up on sugar), but will be back soon!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Hike: Afton State Park

It was about 19 degrees here today, but we were itching to go for a hike.  Even Justin.  In fact, he was the one who insisted on walking the whole time (instead of riding in the backpack).  Therefore we didn't go extraordinarily far, but lasted about 45 minutes down a previously unexplored trail at Afton State Park.  The only drawback was that we could hear the snowguns blasting away at Afton Alps, which didn't make for a quiet and serene experience.  Oh well-- we got outside! 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving #2

Because we have so many wonderful family members, it's not always possible for everyone's schedules to align.  We were able to host two Thanksgivings this year!  The second one was not as GF as the first (I made some exceptions for stuffing and rolls that the kids wouldn't eat anyway-- I ended up with a killer migraine later on, but it could just be a coincidence...?), but it was delicious.  Auntie Carrie and Uncle Sam joined us for a meal and some card/board game time afterwards.  Alex is, yes, in her Thanksgiving dress again.  By today she's worn it three days in a row.  I'm glad she loves it! :-)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ski Badger!

 It's official!  Justin was up on skis when he was ONE year old!  It's a good thing it snowed last night, because otherwise, he may not have been on skis until he was two.... like Alex.  Big sister was only too glad to show him the ropes, and we stuck to the little slope in our backyard.  He wasn't quite sure how to stand, and wasn't too excited about heading downhill-- but that will all come with time.  He was VERY proud of himself afterwards!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for our health-- Justin is on the mend from the horrible dysentery rotovirus thing he had last week, the rest of us are feeling pretty good about this new change into a gluten-free world.  We're thankful for family-- GranMama, GranPapa, and Rorie all managed to make it up to celebrate with us.  The kids spent all day hopping from lap to lap to read stories.  We're thankful for good friends-- Brad was able to come join us for Thanksgiving dinner (and he brought pie!).  We had a GF feast (with the exception of the pie, of course) and, aside from one or two comments about no green bean casserole, it was a hit!

Auntie Rorie and Alex spent quite a while sewing accessories for the cats to wear to dinner.  Bow ties and leg warmers.  Need I say more?




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Potions...

Still sick..... still unable to really leave the house.  I even kept Alex home from school today because I can't move him w/o having to change his pants over and over and over again.  I let out a cry for "help!" to the Facebook universe (I was really about ready to just turn on a movie for everyone!), and one of Alex's sweet kindergarten teachers suggested I set up a Potions station.  Brilliant! 
Basket (very important, I surmise, for being a "real" potions station), Wooden spoon, bowl, flour (hey, if we can't eat it, why not play with it?), old herbs from the back of the cupboard, water.  Voila! 
 Alex worked here for a solid hour, then came back and forth throughout the day.
Justin even roused from his couch-bed to investigate for a while.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Still Life 'Fall' Study

Justin is down for the count.  To not go into too much detail, he has horrible diarrhea-- I just keep pumping him full of fluids, but that means we can't really leave the house.  So-- we decided to have art class at home today. 
While the kids were playing downstairs, I made a little still-life on the kitchen table.  They were so excited to have a formal 'project' to do!  Alex actually looked at the arrangement, picked out the squirrel as a subject, and did her own painting.  Justin surprisingly intuitively picked out the same warm hues of orange and brown to complete his painting.  I was not expecting either child to replicate the still-life, but use it as inspiration!  Success! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ironing out some kinks...

This is sort of an odd photo for me to post here, but I'm proud of it. 
What?  Why am I proud of a fast food meal at Wendy's?  Because we've recently made a dietary change in our family, and I'm feeling 'kind of' on top of things!

Alex has been having tummy issues.  Justin has been having tummy issues.  Unfortunately their tummy issues are opposite-- I'm going to take the plunge into the perhaps unnecessary- but one kid has chronic constipation, one chronic loose stools.  Something's up.

Remember when we started our Real Food kick this summer?  I upped our whole wheat intake.  By a LOT.  Anytime I had an option, I chose whole wheat noodles, we made everything with whole wheat flour.  My gut feeling is that I overdid it.  Now we're trying to iron out the kinks that I unwittingly put into our lives.  When asked, our pediatrician didn't tell me not to do it.  So I'm taking that as a 'give it a try'.

Last Saturday we decided to begin a Gluten-Free and Reduced-Dairy trial period.  Then we cheated (thanks, Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits). So we began again on Sunday.

Thanks to the unbelievable people that God has placed in our lives, I have a lot of support.  I even have one angel neighbor who hunted me down and brought me into her kitchen to give me a run-down of tips and tricks for living Gluten and Dairy-Free (Thank you, thank you, Sarah!).
One of her tips was that Wendy's was do-able!  To 'treat' the kids for a successful first week of 'change' (and because Daddy is travelling for work), we gave it a go.  We brought our own buns and ordered a #3 (yep, that's the huge triple burger).  Split the triple burger into three little ones, topped with extra ketchup and enjoyed a few gluten-friendly fries (our Wendy's has a dedicated fryer)! 

Success!

With one week under our belts, one of my little people is getting back on track....the other I'm not sure of, but we'll keep experimenting until we clear up the problem.  While I didn't have any real issues, I'm feeling healthy and clear-headed :-)  Here's to the next few weeks!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alex's New Craft.....Needle Felting

So.... little kids aren't supposed to be doing needle-felting because of the implicit danger of stabbing a barbed needle into a foam block.  But, as I do most times, I figure that if properly instructed and supervised, Alex can handle it.  She not only handled it, she CREATED!

This was completely her idea.  She remembered a piece I finished a year ago, and said she wanted to make a birthday picture for Justin this way.  I got out my supplies, did a quick tutorial, and let her get to work.
I had her use cookie cutters as templates for her shapes-- this cuts down frustration ('this doesn't look like a tree!') and slows down her fingers so she's not racing around with the needle.  It worked well!
We just used a piece of wool sweater from my crafting stash for the background.
Percival was invited to stay in the basement for the remainder of the felting time.  He kept eating the wool.
Beautiful!  She finished this piece (it's wrapped and ready for J's birthday) and started another, with high hopes of entering her latest creation in the fair next summer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wagon Train

We recently finished reading Little House on the Prairie, and have picked up On The Banks of Plum Creek, so it's to be expected that a great deal of play in the Marotz house centers around Laura, Mary, and the praire. 
Auntie Carrie (who was actually named AFTER Baby Carrie in the Prairie books!) was only too glad to oblige.  I was doing some housework and came into the kitchen to find a complete wagon train AND primitive settlement.  Alex insisted on referring to Carrie as 'Ma', Huxley as 'Jack', me as 'Pa' and Justin as 'Baby Carrie' all afternoon.  You can imagine how confusing this got when she'd break character (she was Mary) to ask me for something--

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Our Martinmas Walk

We celebrated Martinmas one day late (it is officially Nov 11th).  Alex brought home another beautiful lantern from school (I really want to string all of these up in our playroom-- they are so gorgeous, and she will make one more next year-- Justin will make at least three himself as well!), and now we have three!
Martinmas is the feast day celebrating St. Martin, a Roman soldier whose claim to fame was cutting his own heavy wool cloak in half to share with a beggar.  Although he was not a Christian at the time, that night he dreamt of Christ clothed in the same piece of wool cloak, and heard him say "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me".
For our family it is a timely reminder of the importance of service, and having a servant's heart.  We are currently working on our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, and have been collecting warm things all year in anticipation of adopting a Karen Christmas family again.  As the weather turns colder, and we spend more time bundled up in our warm clothes, cooking and being together in our comfortable home, we are more aware and grateful of all the blessings that we have been given.
After gathering by the fire and telling the story of St. Martin, the children held an indoor lantern walk this year, to spread the light of Christ to all the dark corners of our home.  (Normally we've done this outside, but it was just too cold last night!)  I really enjoyed our tiny procession-- Alex sang all the Martinmas songs she learned at school.  Justin "sang" along as well, his small sweet voice echoing his big sister's confident one.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome Winter!

It took us an hour and a half to commute from Alex's school back home when we dropped her off this morning (yuck!) But all that traffic was for a reason--  the first few inches of snow (which masked glare ice....)  As soon as we picked Alex up from school, we headed home to play, eat snow, make snow angels and attempt a snowman. 
After our "snowy" adventures:  the first Hot Chocolate of the season and some fireside snuggling/reading.  Welcome Winter!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Late Fall Book Basket

Sometimes it is just a 'snuggle by the fire and read' type of morning.  This one was!  It got me thinking about the books we have in our "late fall" basket (we've rotated out a few 'harvest' books already in preparation for some snowflakes falling soon).

Here's what we are reading:

Emmy of Whistling Well Farm by Charlie Johnston (remember Emmy?  Justin is o-b-s-e-s-s-e-d!)
A Song for Lena by Hilary Horder Hippley
Mama, Will it Snow Tonight? by Nancy Carlstrom
Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor  (not necessarily autumn, but a great book Al got for her birthday from GranMama)
In the Land of Elves by Daniela Drescher (again, goes through all the seasons, but the autumn/winter pages are warm and cozy)
Autumn- a Waldorf collection of stories, verses and songs

What are you reading this fall?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bowling with Emma!

Don't you love it when you have something to look forward to?  Dave has been gone on business all week, and the one thing that kept us all from losing our minds has been the anticipation of bowling with Emma and Megan on Thursday.  It's been the proverbial carrot with which to ensure good behavior!   
So much fun!  And who knew that a bowling alley would be deserted at 2pm on a Thursday (well, except for the senior league...)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tuesday Afternoon

A nature walk around the neighborhood:



 Our treasures: