...Because You Are Older

We were doing our usual driving around running errands today, just Nicholas, Rachel, and me. For some reason, Nicholas asked why Daddy always drives when he is with us. I explained that he is the Daddy and he just feels like the Daddy should drive his family around (or maybe he just doesn't like Mommy's driving!). Then my sweet little Nicholas said, "But you should drive because you are older."

Batter Blaster - what??!

Ok, I admit it. I'm a sucker for new products. If I see a new flavor of Doritos, I must try it. A new flavor of Blue Bell - it's in the cart. So when I happened to see this odd product in the refriderated section of my local grocery store, I just couldn't resist buying it. It's called Batter Blaster and it's pancake batter in a whipped topping style squirt can! Crazy, huh?! And it's even organic - not that I have really been concerned about whether our pancake batter is organic or not. But in case I was ever worried about it then this product would relieve my fears.

However, Stuart (aka the king of pancakes) had his own fears when I asked him to use the Batter Blaster instead of his usual pancake batter this morning for our ritual of weekend morning pancakes. But, being the good sport that he is, he gave it a shot!

It was quite interesting. The batter shoots out of the can just like whipped topping but quickly oozes into regular pancake circles. They were a little thicker than our usual pancakes and the texture was a bit chewy. But the biggest problem we had with them is that they cooked phenomenally fast. By the time the edges of the pancakes were just barely starting to look cooked and those little bubbles appeared, well, by then it was too late and the pancake was burned on one side. We liked the idea of the Batter Blaster but never could figure out that microscopic window of time that we had to flip the pancakes where they weren't undercooked and drippy or overcooked and burnt.

Bye-Bye, Little Swing!

Moving out of stages in life is hard. Even if the new stage is fresh and exciting and full of wonder, it still can be hard to leave the old stage that you've grown so used to and loved so much. I'm such a wishy washy sentimental person. I'm all moody about getting rid of our infant swing. Yes, I'm sad over a silly swing.

I had really wanted a baby swing for Nicholas but I was trying to be practical and not go overboard on buying baby stuff so I didn't buy one. Dad came to visit when Nicholas was just a few days old and he got the swing for Nicholas. It was a wonderful gift but we were just too tired in those first few weeks to have the energy to put it together. So it sat in the box for a brief time. But then I was at one of the various follow up visits with my OB/GYN and I mentioned that Nicholas seemed to be colicky - crying hours at a time for reasons we just couldn't figure out. My doctor asked if we tried a baby swing. I embarrasedly said that we had one but just hadn't put it together. My doctor's prescription? Go home now and get the swing put together. The energy spent on putting it together will more than be made up for by the restful sleep of a colicky baby.

The swing was put together that night and it was an instant success! Nicholas loved that swing. For his first month or two, he spent a lot of time there. He napped in it, played in it, sat in it while I read to him. It was a life saver for all of us.

When Rachel was born, we knew we had to get the swing down from the attic. It was definitely a necessity. However, Rachel is so different from Nicholas. From the beginning, she has liked her sleep. At about 2 weeks old, she was sleeping peacefully through the night and then slept for most of the day as well. She was never colicky and although we let her sit in the swing for a change of scenery, it was never something we felt that she couldn't live without. But still it has been neat watching her grow up, sitting in Nicholas' swing, doing some of the same things he did in it.

But now Rachel is too big for the baby swing. I just put new batteries in it and it swings just fine. However, when I put Rachel in it this morning, it just barely, I mean ever so discreetly, wiggles a little from side to side. She still likes sitting in it but there's really no swinging going on. And she, like Nicholas when he got too big for it, would prefer to lean herself over the side as much as possible to try to grab at anything on the floor within reach. The swing is very stable so I don't think it would fall over with the weight shift but it certainly wasn't designed to manage that kind of weight being disproportionately hanging out of the seat.

We aren't planning on having anymore children and the swing takes up quite a bit of floor space so, sadly, I admit that it's time for the swing to go. I have found a sweet little grandmother to give it to. She will be watching her 8 week old granddaughter while the mom goes back to work. She is very excited about getting the swing. Bye-bye, little swing! May you bring peace and joy to another little baby (and rest for her parents and grandparents)!

A Really Hot Nature Walk

Our air conditioner died yesterday. It was very miserable especially with outside temperatures at 100 degrees. I took the children out and we ran errands just so we could enjoy other people's air conditioning. But that didn't go well when Rachel decided she wanted to be home napping in her crib. We all toughed it out and by 11:00 last night and a couple of thousands of dollars later, we finally had cool air again.

So did we stay home today and enjoy our nice cool house. No! We went out for a short nature walk and did a little bug hunting along the way too.

We saw lots of seed pods on what I believe are honey locust trees. Nicholas loves these when they dry out and drop to the ground because you can shake them and the seeds rattle around inside like little maracas!

Nicholas found lots of shriveled up leaves on the ground. We talked about why they might look like that. Pests? Lack of Water?

Nicholas quickly made it down to the creek bed to check it out. It's our favorite place to explore and play.

Nicholas asked me to come down with him. I had Rachel in her stroller and didn't feel comfortable trying to carry her down the rocks in case I might slip. I simply told him that I couldn't come down. He walked over, put out his hand, and said, "C'mon. I'll help you down." So sweet. I explained why I couldn't come but Rachel and I sat on the rocks along the side and let Nicholas play for a little while.

Nicholas got a new telescope. He pretended to be a pirate on a desert island looking for treasure.

This telescope is neat because it also converts into a periscope. It's pretty cool. I showed the mirrors to Nicholas and explained how the periscope worked. I don't think he believed me until he tried it. He was quite impressed. He said it will be good to use when he's a spy. Then we proceeded to play a game where we took turns catching a bad guy by spying on them with the periscope.

We wrapped up our walk with a little time at the playground.

With temperatures crossing the 100 degree mark, we just might have to limit our nature walks to the wee morning hours for the next few months. It's just really really hot out there there days.

Magic Rocks

What a perfect find for experiment-loving little boy! I remember Magic Rocks from when I was little. Put in some little colored rocks, add some water and chemicals and voila! You're growing crystals. It was a simple and easy.

Of course, Nicholas loved wearing his "safety" goggles and some of Daddy's disposable gloves from the garage. Now he's a REAL scientist!

Nicholas grew crystals and we were both amazed at how quickly the reaction started taking place. The shark stickers seemed cool at the time but they really block the view of the crystals.

Why Am I Not Moving?

Rachel got herself up into a full crawling position today all by herself. She didn't go anywhere though. Instead she just rocked her body back and forth some and fussed when she couldn't figure out why she wasn't moving. It was so cute.

Lunar Mini Golf

We had a blast today at a friend's birthday party. It was held at Lunar Mini Golf. In case you don't know what in the world that is, think of Putt-Putt golf, indoors, lit only with black lights, and lots of neon paint and golf balls in the room. It was fun although quite challenging, I dare say impossible, to get a good picture capturing the mood without destroying it by using a flash (although I'm sure Stuart could prove me wrong!)

Here's my lame attempt. Slow shutter speed to let in more light which wasn't fast enough to capture the moving 5 year old in the middle of the picture. What? You can't see him? He must have turned invisible. No, there he is. Look closely at the blacklight illuminating his white shoes and his glow in the dark bracelet.

Thank goodness we had lots of Spidermen show up to keep us all safe! I was really worried about all of those bad guys out there playing lunar mini golf!

Yummy Toes!

Rachel sucks her thumb when she's sleepy. But she sucks her toes just because! She doesn't do it often but every now and then we'll catch her sucking on those itty bitty toes. Yummy yummy toes!

Nicholas, A Photographer's Eye

This morning, Nicholas wanted me to take his picture. And he directed me on the posing and how the picture should look! First he got a picture with Rachel. Yes, I took a blurry picture but it's the camera's fault for not being on the setting I usually use!

Next, he wanted to pose in the doorway. I'm not sure why that was special to him but he insisted on this particular pose. And he wanted to be sure that his VBS shirt showed up well in the picture. He's pretty amazing! Even if he isn't taking the picture, he is still using a photographer's eye to frame up the shot the way he wants it to look. Too cute!

Tonight after dinner, Stuart set up his tripod and some lighting equipment to take some posed pictures of me for an online photo contest. He spent lots of time working on the set up of the equipment to get the shot just right. Nicholas was watching Stuart...and learning. Afterwards, Nicholas set up a pretend tripod (his three-legged stool from his drum set).

He then had Stuart sit across from him while he directed Stuart on how to pose. There were many different poses and even some props used. He's definitely Stuart's little "mini-me".

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day Stuart!

We started the morning with Father's Day presents for Stuart. We got him some books on photography techniques. Stuart liked the books but Rachel was the most excited about the present. She was obsessed with the shiny gold tissue paper that had been in the gift bag. It was sparkly and made an awesome crinkly sound when batted around in the air or smashed on the floor.

Even though Nicholas knew that the gifts I bought for Daddy were from both him and Rachel, he still insisted on giving Daddy two special gifts that he picked out on his own - from his room. He gave Daddy a little ladybug that he made about 6 months ago and his Blastball trophy. Aww, isn't he the sweetest?

Stuart is a pancake lover. He makes pancakes for us almost every weekend - and they are good! He usually does something a little special for Nicholas and makes special "baby pancakes" for him. They aren't silver dollar pancakes. They are really just dribbles of pancake batter that accidentally dripped on the griddle and cooked. Little tiny things you can hardly even taste. Nicholas loves them although I think he really just loves that Daddy makes them especially for him. So when I saw these cute little pancake molds, I had to get them so Daddy could make special pancakes for Nicholas.

We overlooked some key directions on how to use the molds so next time they'll come out even better but I think they are pretty cute as is. There is a lion, monkey, and elephant in the set.

Happy Father's Day to all of the wonderful Dads out there. May your pancakes be fluffy and never stick!

Rachel is 8 months old

Oh my sweet little baby girl is growing up too fast! She is 8 months old today!

Rachel loves snacking on her little Gerber puffs. She knows what the container looks like and starts squealing when I get it out of the pantry. This morning she snacked on some and then wanted to play with the container. I let her play with it while I washed up the dishes from breakfast. I heard her get excited in her high chair. I looked over at her and found that she had opened the container and dumped all of the puffs on her tray. Look how proud she is of herself!

Napping on Mommy at the end of a long busy day.

Rachel is quite a little sitter now. She sits for long times and is able to recover quite well when she starts to flop over. Look at that cute belly!

I caught some video of Rachel in the bath tub the other night. She usually just has a ball splashing in the water. But this night she did even more. I was impressed to see her pull herself from a reclined position into a sitting position. But then she really surprised me when she pulled herself up from sitting into a kneeling position to try to get a better look at the shiny silver faucet.

Rachel nows says, "Mamamama" and "Dadadadada". It's just babbling and probably not really referring to either of us specifically but Stuart is proud of the fact that she started saying "Dadadadadada" about a week before "Mamamamama".

Happy 8 months little Rachel!

Some Things Just Shouldn't Be Taught To A 5 Year Old

Nicholas had fun as Daddy taught him how to burn a leaf and pop a balloon with the sun and a magnifying glass. Mommy thinks there are some things that just shouldn't be taught to a 5 year old!

Homemade Ice Cream

We made our first batch of homemade ice cream for the summer. Chocolate, of course! We learned how rock salt helps to lower the freezing temperature and get the ice cream even colder than ice alone. But who cares HOW it's made. All we really cared about was how it TASTED. It was GOOD!

Boomerang Express

Nicholas was invited to a week long Vacation Bible School in Grapevine which he attended this week. The program was called Boomerang Express and had an outback, Australian theme. Nicholas has had fun playing with his friend each morning but he also learned about living his life for Jesus. Tonight the church put on a Family Fun Night. There was a play and all of the kids sang the Boomerang Express theme song on stage. There were tons of carnival games and bounce houses. Nicholas' favorite was a giant alligator bounce house where you crawl through his body, up stairs, down slides, etc. He sure burned off some of that endless energy of his!

It's been hot here even at night so we were all glad to take a break and enjoy some carnival food. Nicholas liked his nachos so much that he wanted to drink the leftover cheese! Eewww!

Stuart has been working on putting bigger tires on our Jeep so it can tackle some gnarly off-road trails. I think this Jeep's tires might be big enough!

Ants In My Pants!

Nicholas made up this silly song called, "Ants In My Pants". There are several different versions of it since it changes each time he sings it. This video clip is actually the first version and shorter than the ones that followed. I love how he stops in mid-song to tell me that this is NOT something he learned at Vacation Bible School. He said he made it up all by himself. What a ham!

Underwear Man!

During the week, Stuart gets up before Nicholas. Usually Nicholas will eventually get up and find Stuart in the bathroom shaving or brushing his teeth. Nicholas loves to open the door and try to surprise him. Today he did just that.

He came into the bathroom like this and said, "I'm Underwear Man!" Stuart acted surprised but couldn't help but laugh. Then who did we find hiding behind the underwear mask?

Why look! It was Nicholas all along!! What a surprise!

Just "Plane" Fun!

Today we went with some friends to visit the Northwest Regional Airport, the largest privately owned airport in North America. We met a nice pilot who was proud to show us around his hanger and let us look at his plane. Then we even got to watch him take off and do a fly-by for us!

We watched several other planes come and go. Then we enjoyed lunch on-site at the Blue Hanger Cafe.

Next we visited the Pilot Shop. I didn't expect them to have anything that Nicholas wanted but amazingly they had plenty of cool plane toys and I think almost every child managed to talk their mom into getting something for them. Nicholas is very proud of his two planes.

We got to meet the owner of the airport, Glen Hyde. He was very friendly and took time out of his busy schedule to show us around. Nicholas' favorite part was seeing this plane that was too big to fit in the hanger!

The children also got to climb into this Marine Huey helicopter. Nicholas loved pretending to be the pilot!

We had a great day learning with our friends! It was just "plane" fun!

On the way home, we realized we were way too hot and we needed some emergency refreshment. Braum's Ice Cream to the rescue!

Rachel can't have real milk until she is one year old so the poor little girl had to just watch big brother enjoy his ice cream.

"Hmm, what is that?"

"Hey, that looks like yummy fun!"

"I think I want to try some too!"

I did feel bad for her but she really didn't seem to mind. She ate a few of her puffs and flirted with some customers and seemed quite content. Until she decided that a full day of roaming an airport and a trip to the ice cream shop was all that she could take. Nap time was calling!

Here's a picture that Nicholas took of us as we were packing up to leave. He wanted me to be sure to post it on the blog for him!