Winter Crafts

I’ve been a little bit lazy on the craft front in the last few months. I’ve been super tired, and haven’t made it a priority, and as a result, the extent of my sons’ art experience has been pretty dull. Like…here is a box of broken crayons and a blank sheet of paper dull….

I knew I had to do something about this, so I planned a craft day for my moms club. I knew if I was threatened with a lot of kiddos coming over I would plan some pretty cool crafts. And that I did! We made sticker resist starry night cards, which my boys have already given away to many lucky recipients, bird seed ornaments, and sparkly snowflakes to decorate our home. The boys really had a great time.

As it turned out, very few people came to our craft day. Whether it was sicknesses going around, busy schedules around the holidays, or something else, it was a very quiet day at our house. The few who did come seemed to enjoy themselves, and my kids loved it so it was worth all the hard work anyway.

Here they are making some sparkly snowflakes:

P1210007 P1210009Elias really had a blast making the bird seed ornaments. In fact, we made them three times in the last three days! We’ve had many birds enjoying them already in both our front and back yards. Here are a couple of them hanging from the trees:

P1200994 P1200998I feel sad that it took the threat of other people coming over for me to get creative with my own kids. But hey…something is better than nothing. Maybe this will inspire me to be more creative in the coming weeks.

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Living With Boys

You’d think that growing up with two brothers and no sisters, nothing would surprise me when it comes to living with boys. Sometimes my two sons still surprise me, though. At lunch the other day, Elias, Simon and I were sitting peacefully at the table eating and talking about what happened at preschool. Maybe it was the fact that Simon doesn’t go to preschool and wanted to turn attention back to him. But I sort of guess that he was just being a little boy.

Our peace was interrupted all of a sudden by Simon yelling “dah!!!!” at the top of his lungs. His yell was so loud it echoed throughout the whole house. I think it was so loud it even surprised him. Once he realized the awesome power of what he had done, he yelled “dah!!!! dah!!!!!” as loud as he could again and again, and giggled after each one.

After I had recovered from my surprise, I asked Simon what in the world he was doing.

“I be loud, Mommy,” he responded.

Then he continued to alternately yell “dah,” giggle, and say “I be loud, Mommy.” Sometimes you just don’t ask….you just accept what life is like with boys.

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The Picky Eaters

Being one of the pickiest eaters I know growing up, I feel I don’t have much room to complain when it comes to my children being picky eaters. I certainly put my parents through the wringer. But I feel like I came out ok. While I’m not a super adventurous eater these days, I’ve expanded my horizons quite a bit in the last decade.

Elias’ picky eating takes the cake though. I had nothing on him even in my pickiest days. I’ve considered taking him to a specialist. The poor kid really has issues with food. Today, for example, he gagged and nearly barfed while trying to eat a quesadilla. And this was something he was willingly eating!

Simon has been a breeze comparatively. It’s fun, too, because he actually eats cookies and brownies and other such treats. I don’t give the boys treats very often, but it is fun to do so every once in a while. The only treat I can give Elias is M&M’s or plain old milk chocolate. Simon eats a lot of foods (not just sweets). It’s amazing how different two kids can be even when they are brothers.

This evening I was reminded that even Simon has picky times. He’s just a kid after all (and a toddler at that!) Here was our conversation shortly before dinner:

Me: Simon, do you want Italian Beef Stew or a quessadilla for dinner?

Simon: Pee-pah pee Mommy (Pizza please Mommy)

Me: I don’t have any pizza. You can choose Italian Beef Stew or a quessadilla.

Simon: Pee, Pee, Pee-pah (Please, please, pizza)

Me: No pizza. Pizza another night. I’ll give you Italian beef stew and cornbread!

Simon: Pee-pah pee Mommy pee-pah (Pizza please Mommy pizza)


I guess I can’t  blame him. Who doesn’t like pizza? He wouldn’t eat any of my Italian beef stew, but he did eat a lot of cornbread.

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One of Elias’ favorite games these days is something he calls “letters.” Basically, we get out the bananagrams game, dump out all of the tiles, and he spells word after word. Sometimes he asks me for a specific word. Sometimes he copies words he finds in books. Sometimes he makes up his own words that look something like this: dienvoskensivkd.

The other day, though, he did something quite remarkable. Elias told me that he wanted to spell gorilla. I decided to tell him to sound it out rather than doing it for him. This is what he came up with:

P1200911That is pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Grrr-eh-luh was how he sounded it out. My little boy is growing up!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! We had a pretty low key day here at the Smith household. Well…low key in that we got to stay home and relax with family. But we were full of life with lots of house guests. Grandpa has been staying with us for a week, and Auntie Erin, Uncle Jared, and cousins arrived late last night.

The boys were already in bed when the fam arrived, so Elias was literally bursting with excitement when he saw them this morning. There was no waiting period. The kids got right down to playing.

I started cooking dishes early in the morning, and then a bit before noon we started getting the turkey ready. This is how Nathan felt about it:

P1200845We didn’t have a formal lunch, but the kids snacked and did art projects throughout the day.

P1200848We got in some rest too. Simon napped, and Elias and Sonya sat on the bed and looked at the leap pad together.

P1200853We all sat down together for dinner and enjoyed the company.

P1200856The kiddos are all sound asleep now after tiring themselves out. And we’ve got a lot of leftovers for the next couple of days!

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My Super Heroes

P1200836Usually I post about my craft projects over on The Attic (my other blog), but since this concerns the kiddos I’ll write it here instead.

A few weeks ago I came across a picture of a cute superhero cape for kids, and I thought I could probably duplicate it. I did some measuring, and a whole lot of guessing, and then took the boys to the fabric store. Elias chose some colors for both him (red and yellow) and for Simon (red and lime green), and then I got to work after the boys were in bed.

First I decided on a pattern, and marked the fabric. Then I got to cutting. Next, I drew the letters on a piece of paper and used that as a pattern for the felt. I used a large dinner plate for a pattern for the white circle. I sewed the two colors right sides together, turned it right side out, and added some velcro to finish it off.

The capes took probably two and a half hours total for both of them, but I didn’t work on them all at once so even though I started a few weeks ago, I just finished them today.

The boys love their capes! I made them large so they’d last for years to come. Making stuff by hand is the best! It’s way more fun than finding a cape at the store.

Here is Elias enjoying his cape:

P1200825And Simon running around the house letting his cape trail behind him:


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The Leaf Pile

Jumping in a leaf pile is like a rite of passage for kids all around. A few days ago I pushed some leaves around the yard with my foot until a small pile was made, and the boys had a blast. (Not the most efficient way to make a pile, I know, but I was improvising). Today, when Nathan said he was going to go out and rake, I got the boys all dressed for fall weather (coats and boots) and headed out with them.

The boys had about four decent sized leaf piles to choose from, and they made use of almost all of them. Elias definitely had more fun than Simon, who is just a bit too uncoordinated to run in boots, but both boys had a great time running and jumping in the leaves. Here are a few pictures of our fun time:

P1200791 P1200795 P1200810 P1200812And here is one of Elias mid-leap:

P1200790The boys even held hands. It was very cute.

P1200789We also had a visitor on our street while the boys were playing in the leaves. We even got to see her leap over fences.

P1200786In the end, the piles were all cleaned up and placed in the yard debris. The boys got to help Daddy by jumping on the leaves to press them down.

P1200816It was an hour well spent!

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We’ve been lucky enough to have Grandpa visiting this week from Indiana. Simon, who is working on more and more words each day, enjoys repeating whatever I say, or whatever he hears. I was trying to get him to say “grandpa.”

Instead of saying “grandpa,” Simon started saying “Papa” when referring to Grandpa. He points to him and says “Papa.” Once when Grandpa was sleeping he said, “Papa nigh-nigh.”

I just find it so cute to hear “Papa” come out of his little voice, especially when he came up with it himself.

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Hawaii: The Final Day

On Saturday we had our last day in Hawaii. The time was really winding down. We had had a lot of adventure, a lot of time with family, and a lot of relaxation on the beach. Half of the family had already left, so it was just us and my parents. We decided to go explore the eastern side of Oahu a bit and visit Sea Life Park.

On the way there, we drove by the area where my dad was born. He showed us his old school, and his old church, and pointed toward the area up on a hill where his father had built a house for them. Then, he suddenly pulled off in a neighborhood, and showed us the house where he had lived with his grandmother when he was about three or four. My mom and I got out and took a picture.

P1200659Back when he lived there, the big stone wall was not there. He said his grandmother had all sorts of rose bushes lining the driveway. You can’t tell from this picture, but the house backs right up to the ocean. He and his siblings used to fish in the ocean right from their backyard. You can see from this next picture the walkway back to the ocean:

P1200660The Eastern side of Oahu really is beautiful. We enjoyed the scenery on the drive very much. When we made it to Sea Life Park, the first thing we looked at was the shark tank. The boys enjoyed pointing them out and watching them swim by. Then, we went to see the sea turtles. There were quite a few of them for such a small enclosure, but it was exciting because the boys got to feed the turtles. They each got a cup of lettuce, broccoli, and celery, and threw them out into the water. Then we got to watch the turtles swim up, and take the food.

P1200706After the sea turtles we watched a fun sea lion show. Nathan was grumbling the whole time because as a salmon fisherman, you kind of have to hate on the sea lions. These ones were pretty cute, though, and knew all sorts of fun tricks.

Next on the list was feeding the birds. The last time we took Elias in to see birds was at the lorakeet exhibit at the Oregon zoo. He absolutely freaked out with fear. Granted, that was probably two years ago, but I was anxious about how he would do. It’s good I didn’t let any of my trepidation show because he did absolutely fine. In fact, he loved it! He had a bird land on his hand and his head and he thought it was fun.

P1200734Simon enjoyed feeding the birds too.

P1200742After feeding the birds, we ate lunch, and then headed over to the dolphin show. It featured both Atlantic and Pacific bottle nose dolphins as well as a whalfin. I did not know that such a thing exists, and in fact, the whalfin mother and calf at Sea Life Park are the only ones in existence in the world. The show was packed with all sorts of flips and twists and amazing jumps. The boys were riveted.

P1200746After this we hung around the park for a bit longer to explore a few other exhibits, a playground, and some yummy Dole soft serve. Then it was time to head back to the hotel.

We got in one last swim, and then got ready to meet my Auntie Cathy and Uncle Vince one last time. As a parting gift, they got us some malasadas, which my mom had been talking about the entire trip, but we had never gotten around to trying. They are basically a donut-like pastry, and they are very yummy.

Simon enjoyed trying the malasada, but didn’t finish his.

P1200773Elias, in true form, said he didn’t want to try them and would rather have strawberries. I guess there are some pluses to having an uber picky child. He’s healthy.

P1200776I’m not going to confess how many Nathan and I ate, but we definitely had some at breakfast the next morning, and might have brought some home on the plane with us as well.

Writing this, it seems crazy that we were there just a few days ago. We’ve been home and back in our normal routine, which started with swimming lessons bright and early Monday morning. Despite all the craziness, I think I will mostly just remember the warmth. The warmth of the sun, yes, but also the warmth in my heart. Spending time with family is so important and it was a wonderful time.

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Hawaii: The Portuguese Man of War

Meet the Portuguese Man of War:

Portuguese_Man-O-War_(Physalia_physalis)It may look like a jellyfish, but in fact it is not a jellyfish. There are a few major differences. First of all, the Man of War is actually four different organisms that work together. It’s called a siphonophore or some scientific term like that. Each of the parts works together, but cannot survive independently. Unlike a jellyfish which can propel itself, the man of war just drifts on the ocean and has no other way of movement. The tentacles have venom that paralyze fish and other organisms, and although no human has died from a man of war sting, it is said to be excruciatingly painful in certain cases. Most of the time the man of war drifts in groups, and watch out because even if it is dead, it can still sting you.

Enough with the science lesson. We did not know any of this before Friday last week. It was Uncle Greg and Auntie Shaina’s last day with us, and Uncle Scott and Auntie Kristy were heading off to Maui for their 4th anniversary celebration trip for a few days. We decided to spend our last day together relaxing at the beach and pool. We all had a great time swimming together at the pool. Then, Nathan and Uncle Greg took the boys to the beach. My skin had had enough of the sun so I went to an outdoor market in the shade instead with Kristy and my mom.

After twenty minutes or so, Auntie Kristy got a phone call asking for vinegar right away. Elias had been stung by a Portuguese Man of War while playing in the ocean. I hurried back to the beach and found Nathan in the hot tub with Elias and got the full story.

Apparently, Nathan had been playing up on the beach with Simon, while Uncle Greg and Elias were running in the waves and throwing nuts into the water. Uncle Greg noticed a dead fish floating in the water. Elias got out of the ocean, and when at the shore, both he and Greg noticed something wrapped around his leg. Uncle Greg went to remove it, but before he could, Elias did it himself, and immediately started limping up the beach toward Daddy. Nathan said he was very visibly upset and in pain, but he couldn’t tell what was wrong so he took him up to the showers to wash off the leg.

When Nathan was done washing off the leg he saw a large red welt twisting down Elias’ leg from the knee to the foot. Baba who showed up (probably due to hearing Elias’ cry) said it looked like a man of war sting. He had seen one before because his older brother was stung when they were young. Two of the hotel staff happened to walk by and confirmed. They suggested soaking it in warm water and applying vinegar. Hence the hot tub.

Nathan said Elias calmed down pretty quick while soaking in the hot tub so that advice was great. Not too long after, I showed up with Auntie Kristy and the vinegar. Later in the evening, we read that some people think vinegar is not good for it because it speeds the process of the venom, but other articles recommend it. We do know the hot water worked its charms, though.

Poor Nathan was sitting in the hot tub in the full sun in the middle of the day and looked like he was going to wilt. Elias finally said he was ready to get out, and he sat with me in the shade for a long time after that.

P1200625All in all, he came out fine. I’m sure it was super painful, but most sources say the man of war stings only are painful for about an hour, and that seemed to hold true with Elias too. After sitting with me for an hour or so he turned to me and said, “I caught my own jellyfish! And it stung me!”

Elias has been proudly sharing his story with anyone he can. He told it to his swimming instructor, and his preschool teacher. I’m not sure what they thought.

During his recovery period, Elias wanted to take a bunch of pictures with my camera. I have all sorts of pics on there, but this one was especially cute. He wanted to take a picture of Auntie Kristy and Uncle Scott, and I helped him hold it steady.

P1200620By Saturday morning it was all just a memory. The large welt turned into just a red line running down his leg. This picture does not show the whole sting because of the way that it twisted around his leg. The sting had a bunch of spots behind his knee, then the long twisty line down his leg, then a couple of lines on his foot. But this gives you a general idea:

P1200649It was all just another adventure to add to the list for this trip, but we are very thankful that there was no permanent damage.

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